All About Spike - Plain Version
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Chapter: 1 2
The Littler Bit
Sequel to Mr Grieves And The Fallen Woman; part of The Bittersweets Series
Tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and unpleasant revelations aren’t the only
things Buffy brings back with her from her sojourn in London, 1880. A sequel to "Mr Grieves and the Fallen Woman."
Spike, Buffy, et al belong to Mutant Enemy and Joss. I just love ‘em and leave ‘em.
to: Kalima, to whom the term ‘beta-reader’ doesn’t begin
to do justice. Cheerleader,
co-conspirator, goad, nag.
Invaluable. Oh, and she
came up with the idea that made the ending possible.
Season 6 only through “Wrecked.”
This is for Kalima, Deborah M, Peasant, Anna S, FayJay, the Buffistas, and
everybody whose feedback has made me think, ‘aw, I’ll just write
one more story.’
Note: Just a reminder, ALL the
“Bittersweets” stories depart from canon immediately
bear the sight of him, this perverse and vicious vampire whose grotesqueries
were so fresh in her mind.
And at first she didn’t have to. Not while they were gathered all around the bed where
he’d set her down, all talking at once. That made it easier not to see any of them, not to
acknowledge the questions they peppered at her. True, Dawn had captured one of her hands and was squeezing
it as if to prevent her flying off.
And Spike was hovering over her, immoveable, still smoothing her hair
and murmuring endearments. The air
around her was pungent with released anxiety, wonder and inquiry.
her stomach rose up against her, and the last meal of the Victorian era was
well and truly history.
he parted the slats of the blinds in Dawn’s room and peered out into the
was Buffy, skin glowing an unpleasant white in the bright midday light,
stretched out in dark glasses, shorts and a skimpy top, on a plastic lounge
chair. One hand wrapped around a
sweating glass of orange juice, the other resting on the People magazine tented across her
belly. Dawn lay on another lounger
next to her. Tara, protecting her complexion, sat beneath the spreading
branches of the young avocado tree.
The way her knees were drawn up, face half hidden behind them, she
looked furtive. Tara was
watching. Spike could tell that,
like him, she found Buffy’s behavior mysterious.
more or less accepted that Buffy could go out in the daytime, while he could
not. That was always part of the
package, the aspect of her life —yeah, a big one, but not
insurmountable—he couldn’t share. But this blatant sun-worship session, the very morning after
her return from the enigmatic ten days’ disappearance she was refusing as
yet to talk about . . . well, he couldn’t help thinking she was avoiding
“What are you doing in
here, Spike? I was looking for
stepped into Dawn’s room.
over my beloved.” He moved
back a little from the window, made room for the other man to see through the
slats. “What do you
peered down. “I notice Buffy
is back. And I thank God.”
“Yeah. But do you notice her hair’s
inches longer than it was last week?
don’t, you’ve been away.
But it is. Notice
it’s only blonde now at the ends—rest of it’s come in
brown. When did you ever see her
leave her hair natural? Hairier
other places too—quite furry under the arms, along the legs. Never was before. Notice how pale she is. Usually she’s all golden glowy—but
her skin’s the color of a fish belly now. Notice—not you, you’re too honorable—how
luscious her tits look, all of a sudden?
I mean—more luscious than they was before. They’re bigger.”
shot him a discouraging frown.
“Spike . . . .”
she’s four months gone with child.”
other man started. “No. How—how can you know that?”
a predator’s nose for what goes on inside people, don’t I? Blood’s like
fingerprints—everybody’s smells a bit different. She’s got two kinds in her body
now. An’ I can hear
heartbeats. She’s got two of
those as well. Only had the one
before she disappeared.”
. . . how could . . . you aren’t . . . “
“Me? Dead seed puts down no roots.”
“Of course, but you
say—and four months?”
that, yeah. Child’s
quickened, I can feel it.
An’ look—she’s hidin’ her tummy under that
magazine right now, but she’s showing a bit already. Wherever she’s been, Rupes, she
was there a lot longer than the ten days we were missin’ her.”
kneeling beside her lounge chair in the yard, murmured to her so softly that
Spike, still watching from the window, couldn’t make out what he
said. But Buffy’s reaction
“No! No doctors! I don’t need to go to the doctor—I’m
fine! Just want to relax a little,
so I can patrol tonight.”
Patrol? Could she not realize . . . ? No, Spike thought.
Of course not. It was just
more of the patented Buffy method of dealing by not dealing.
Giles took her hand, and went on talking to her. Dawn was on her feet now, making entreaties, closely
followed by Tara. Spike could
practically feel Buffy’s irritation. It shimmered in the air like a heat illusion on the
highway. Then she was up, stomping
towards the house.
right! Lemme change my clothes
he’d carried her in from the porch last night, where they’d found
her sprawled in a faint, she’d seemed unwilling to make eye-contact with
him. He could put that down to
being disoriented—she was dazed and clearly exhausted. They’d all been on her at once,
after all—she hadn’t really focused on any of them, and then
she’d been sick into the wastebasket, and was borne off into the bathroom
by her sister and Tara.
the girls emerged some time later and put her back to bed, Dawn had climbed in
with her, clinging like a limpet, and Buffy had seemed content to have her
there, her arm clasped around her sister’s body. She was already half asleep.
wanted to protest—that was their bed, he would look after the slayer—but Giles plucked him
by the arm and led him out before he could make an absolute ass out of himself
in front of Glinda and the Bit.
sat up late, the three of them, speculating. Tara brought down the clothes she’d taken off
Buffy. Corduroy trousers with a
button fly, a shirt ditto, grey socks, old scuffed boots with much-knotted
laces. A frayed leather belt, red
neckerchief, and the billed cap.
Nothing you’d call freshly laundered, and everything covered in
liberal servings of soot.
was going commando under the trousers,” Tara said, “except for
there was the strangest piece of all this strange kit: a corset. Not a sexy, Fredericks-of-Hollywood
sort of thing, but a real old whale-boned flesh-restrainer, greyish from
repeated tubbings, redolent of dried sweat and naptha soap.
on earth—” Giles gazed at it with distaste.
took it and gave it a whiff. Stunk
good and proper of Buffy—bitter an’ aggravating, oooh yeah—as if
she’d worn it every day.
Beneath that scent though, there was another note. Also organic. Familiar, somehow, but he
couldn’t think what it put him in mind of exactly. And he didn’t want, with Tara and
Giles watching him, to give it the good hard inhalation it would need to give
up its secrets. He let it drop
onto the pile.
“I don’t think you
should handle those any more than you can help, pet. Who knows what microscopic
nasties are in ‘em.”
Tara snatched her hands
back. “What kind of clothes
are these? And why are they so
dirty?” Tara said. “Where’s
knew what the clothes smelled of. Coal
soot. He’d not chanced upon the
like in . . . well, not since he’d left Europe for the last time. There was still plenty of coal burned
in those eastern bloc nations, just shaking off the Soviet yoke, still not
twigged to western ideas about emission reduction. Was that where she’d been? Doing manual labor in Ukraine? It was what she was dressed for.
“Ask her yourself when she
wakes up.” He sprang to his feet. Enough guesswork. He wanted to know.
“Gonna go on up now.
Get some rest, you two.
Barely slept in a week, any of us.”
he walked into the bedroom he knew right away that Buffy was asleep, but not
Dawn. It was dark; he’d let
his candles go out days ago and not replenished them. But he could see a bit of reflected light off the
Niblet’s eye whites.
Keeping vigil. Both
girl’s heads were on the same pillow.
lit one thin taper, and used it to light a couple of others. The glow expanded slowly to encompass
to your own room now, platelet,” he whispered. “Go on.”
wants me to stay here.”
Spike wants you to get out, there’s a good girl. Be quiet now, an’ don’t
not my boss, you know.” But
she was moving.
for warming up my spot. Be happy
now sis is home. Sweet dreams.
Close the door on your way out.”
Shucking his clothes, he’d
slid right into the lovely warm declivity Dawn had made at Buffy’s side,
pressing a kiss onto her bare shoulder.
was when she kicked him in the shins, and swatted his hand away.
you want me to hold you, baby?”
She didn’t answer his
murmur. Because she was
asleep. It didn’t mean
anything, he told himself, her hitting out. Just asleep.
lay awake listening to her breathe.
Listening to her heartbeat, and the other one. The heartbeat belonging to the tiny creature whose blood
he’d smelled inside her as soon as he knelt over her limp form on the
she pick that
up? The question churned inside
him. His demon stirred around it,
ready to ride it to the surface, wanting to roar it at her while he dragged her
head off the pillow by the hair, shook her until she confessed.
clenched his fists, fought himself.
Not the way. With Drusilla maybe, yeah. But not with her.
An hour before sunrise, she
stirred. Her whisper was tiny in
here, my queen.” Where’ve
silence, and he could’ve sworn she was holding her breath.
“Spike. When did you first see me?”
“You were lying on the
porch—” Where did you go?
Whose magic sent you there?
“No, I mean, ever.”
“You know. I’ve told you—in the
Bronze.” Who’s been at you? Who’d you let in to your cunny that’s mine and no one
else’s? “You were dancin’ with the Scoobies. The sight of you shaking your sweet
little box—nearly slayed me right there.” Who did you
fuck— who wasn’t me, who wasn’t me who wasn’t me—?
“You’re sure that was
the first time?”
course I’m sure. I’d
remember you—no matter where I saw you.” Who put his get inside
you and why did you let him, you bitch?
if I wasn’t the slayer? Or
you weren’t a—”
are you talking about?” He
couldn’t stand it anymore, this psychic barrier she’d set
up—he wasn’t going to let that hold him off. Scooting closer to her, he laid a
hand on her arm. Her skin was hot. A bitter wave of longing crashed over him, the wave
he’d held off all the time she was gone, lest it suck him so far under
he’d never surface again.
He wanted to snatch her bodily into his arms, bury his face in her hair,
breath her and rock her and whisper his despair at losing her. He wanted to devour her, fuck her
endlessly, make her know, because she seemed to have forgotten, that she was
his. She had to be, because
she’d made him hers, and without her he was almost nothing.
last ten days had been agonizing.
She must not know even yet how he
adored her if she could come back and be so cool to him.
he was learning—no matter how she let him penetrate her—and
she’d permitted him every way of which he was capable—the girl
remained, at her core, impenetrable.
He squeezed her arm. Forced his voice to stay gentle. “Buffy, love, where have you been? Scoobies were nearly insane
wondering what happened to you. I
. . . me.”
low voice sounded at once steely and terribly girlish. He struggled for the answer she was
“Sure. We were dancing, yeah, lovely time had
by all, you said you were going to have a pee . . . I watched you go, because I
like seeing the way you switch your little rump when you walk . . . an’
there was a flash of light off the mirrorball, made me blink, an’ then
you were gone. Didn’t think
nothing of it because the idiot DJ was strobing the lights all night. But then you didn’t come
back. We searched an’
searched, but we couldn’t find hide nor hair of you. Tara did a locator spell—”
I know. But where?”
fakey yawn. “I’m
tired. Let me sleep.”
hell. She’d always been like
this, close-mouthed, secretive.
Maddening. WHO DID YOU
FUCK, YOU MISERABLE BITCH? He wanted to know this
more than he wanted to know anything else, where she’d been, what
she’d suffered (she didn’t suffer, the demon cried, she was
giving herself to someone else, she didn’t think of you at all!) and the heat of the jealous passion that flooded through him
provided the demon a clear path to the top.
ridges and fangs seared him as they emerged. “Slayer. Goddamnit, talk to m—”
the whole length of her was pressed against him, and her humid mouth was on
his, silencing him, the tongue thrusting in fearlessly past the sharp
fangs. Of course they cut her, and
her blood-borne kiss jerked him out of coherent thought and into an instant
spiral of arousal. Rolling
her onto her back, he grabbed her knees, pushed them up, and plunged into
her. Sucking her tongue,
swallowing the blood and saliva from her mouth, he pumped erratically, unable
to find the right groove. She
wasn’t dry, wasn’t resisting him, but it felt wrong.
mouths broke; he grabbed her shoulders and hauled himself up on her body to
change the angle. She squeaked,
and hit him in the face.
arms were crossed over her chest.
“I . . . just be careful, all right? . . . my breasts are tender.”
moved off her. Her breathing was
loud and ragged in the dark.
Dizzy, his balls aching as if he’d been hard for hours, he forced
his demon back down. God, the smell of her body—! That warm, simple Buffysmell that
was home to him. How he loved her
feverish, sweaty, moist from sleep.
Always thought she bathed too much. The tang of her scent was different now though . . .
everything was different. Inside
her body, she was making something.
Someone. And that made her run a little hotter,
gave an extra coppery edge to her.
Not to mention the completely new aroma of the tiny creature’s
blood. When was she going to
tell him? He wanted her to do it,
without him having to haul it out of her.
A woman who loved her man would
be honest with him.
Now sure would be a good time.
put a hand lightly on her breast.
Petted the nipple, which did indeed feel tender, full and tense, but not
made so by his attentions. Nuzzled
the underside with his mouth, took a couple of experimental licks. Anger dueling with affection in
him. God, the last ten days,
waiting for any sign of her, trying to comfort the Niblet while hiding his own
tears of frustration and fear . . . like a distorted replay of the weeks after
her death, except this time they didn’t even know what had happened. Whether to hope or to mourn.
this time he’d had more to hope for, more to mourn.
you loved me, you’d have been glad to see me.
this close to him, it was the same face in the candlelight. The unimportant details of time and
place—hair color, spectacles, the stupid nightshirt, the scar on the
brow—were not in play. She
saw just his eyes, half-lidded with the temptation of sleep, but still fixed on
her out of sated softness. The
lazy smile on the mobile mouth.
His lips a little swollen from kissing.
though he was finished taking his pleasure on her, he’d keep his hand
pressed to her cunt, as if to hold his spunk inside her. He was possessive, proprietary; she
believed he thought a great deal about how he had the right to do this, because
of what she’d been and his own righteousness in removing her from that
life. Sometimes, when
he’d left her unsatisfied, she could rock against his hand and get off
that way, although the price was the disdainful look he gave her
afterwards. He wouldn’t go
down on her for the asking—she quickly learned that he wouldn’t do
anything that she asked for. Her frank desire
offended him. Perhaps he was
afraid of being unequal to it? He
expected her to submit in silence, and bestowed his pleasuring caresses, when
he did, as if they were a beneficence.
Her orgasms both awed and somehow repulsed him. She knew he didn’t even dare
imagine doing these same things, that gave him such delight and dread, with
Miss Addams, were she ever to become Mrs Wm Grieves.
course, when they were together in bed, it wasn’t him she thought of
either. Keeping her eyes closed,
keeping her mind fixed on memory, she could make him, for whole minutes
together, into who he was not yet, the lover she longed for.
nights he was sweet to her, cradling her head on his shoulder afterwards, and
speaking bits of verse—good ones, not his own—from memory, in a
soft, pleasing voice. The same voice
she’d first heard Spike use when saying the names of his sisters.
was at those times that she felt most sorry for him, and for herself.
he was kissing her breasts with such a soft touch, tentative, cautious, as if
he was a little boy who’d been scolded for playing too rough with a
“Sweetness. I was so afraid . . . were you
afraid? Where you were?
Her stomach fluttered, and she
turned her head away. Why
couldn’t he leave her be?
Yet she knew she’d feel abandoned if he turned away from her.
don’t feel well, Spike.”
know, pet.” He withdrew from
her breast. “Do you want to
get up? Shall I carry you to the
“N—no. No. I just want to lie here.” She shifted, rolling onto her side, away from him.
“Don’t you want me to
did. I did. I did. Back
Drew up her legs and wrapped her
arms across her belly. “Please let me sleep, Spike.”
He wrenched himself out of bed,
spent the balance of the night in the armchair downstairs, listening to Giles
snore on the couch.
looked up from his candle lighting as she bounced into the room.
I be said to be lurking in what I’ve been assured is my own home?”
“Usually I’d be
asleep now. But today isn’t
a regular day, is it?”
sunny regular California day. Good
for a nice quiet unstressful rest.
Except there’s no rest for—” She moved around him—wide, no chance of reaching out
and grabbing her—and began to rummage in the closet.
rest for the just-returned-from-God-knows-where. Buffy. Enough
evasion. It’s not helping. What happened to you?”
don’t wanna talk about it now.”
shrugged out of her sun-bathing outfit and rummaged amongst her hanging
clothes. Spike didn’t know
if it was a good sign or not that she got naked while he was looking right at
her. She’d long since
forsaken modesty with him, but now was different. She’d not glanced his way.
are you angry at me, Buffy? You
loved me ten days ago. What have I
isn’t all about you.”
you raped? Is that it?”
She froze, her hands in among the
Fucking hell. If that was how she’s gotten knocked up, then this
Ice Queen Redux trip made sense.
No ordinary human man, even no
ordinary demon—could get over on the Slayer. The thing that could rape her . . . didn’t bear
She turned slowly, stared at him
with death ray eyes. “Why do
you say that? Because I
didn’t want you last night?
would be like her, completely like her, to hide it, deny it. “Are you sure?”
“Spike. I’m sure.
I wasn’t raped.
Thanks for your concern.”
She shrugged into a sleeveless dress, then turned back to him. “But you raped Cecily Addams.”
started. What the fuck—?
it! Just deny you raped and
eviscerated her and scattered her entrails all around her room!”
“Say it’s not
true! Go on—you disgusting,
He stepped forward. Now they were squared off on
either side of their bed, which stretched between them, an unbreachable
“I . . . don’t. Deny it.
She’d humiliated me.
Undid me so I caught my death.
Told me . . . never mind what she told me. At the moment, it seemed like the worst thing in the world. I rushed out of the house where
we were, and ran straight into Drusilla, who put me out of my misery. A couple weeks after I rose, when
Angelus was fledging me—I’ve told you what that was like—he asked me whom
I’d loved, and whom I’d hated. Said it was time for me to go out and settle old scores . .
. .” He paused. “I got us into her house, like
Angelus told me to. I raped her,
okay. An’ I drank her
blood. But it was Angelus who
mutilated her corpse.”
face turned to granite.
“We. Are. Not. Talking. About.
who the fuck are
we talking about? Someone. Someone you’re obviously about to
throw me over for. Working
yourself up into a good righteous snit for it.
was a fledgling, I was under Angelus’ thumb. Angelus killed his whole family, did you know that? And the neighbors—the whole poxy
pathetic little Irish village. I
kept him from any hint that I had a mother living. I’m not specially sorry about Cecily,
‘cause I don’t do sorry, and she was a naff cow who needed to be taken
down a—well. But I
don’t want you thinking I made a habit of it. I learned right quick that sex is too sublime to turn
it into an assault. An’ old
Spike’s always been able to pull the birds. And the lads.
Whoever he fancies.
Don’t need to force it.” Fuck it, here he was bragging at her—in the third
person yet!—about irrelevancies because that look on her face just left
him no room—
“Oh, what a relief! You just went around seducing the
unsuspecting, and then ripping their throats out in the afterglow. For a century.”
was it. All coming to a head. She didn’t love him anymore. She probably never really had. She was launching this attack so she
could walk away and feel justified.
yeah. Because: vampire,
remember? Not doing it anymore,
though. Faithful to my one
girl. My one mysterious,
withholding, passive-aggressive— So why must we go over this
the statute of limitations on some crimes—”
done my best to become the sort of man you could give yourself to, Slayer. Hardly seems fair to be taking it out
on me for something I did when Joyce’s granny was a baby.” He hesitated before going on, but her
face was so hard and shut off from him.
“You wanna give me the kiss off now, don’t do it like this,
Buffy. At least show me some
respect for what we had together.”
“Respect! You raped her, Spike.”
raped me. An’ not a hundred
an’ twenty years ago, either.”
blanched, and for a moment he thought she might faint again. Her eyelids fluttered. She turned her back on him, and stood
holding onto the bedpost.
never used that word to refer to what she’d done to him that time. After her apology—I’m
sorry I hurt you—they’d put it away.
forgave you, Buffy. Wouldn’t
ever throw it in your face, either, except—”
can choose to forgive someone who does something to you. But I can’t forgive you on her behalf. That’s not my place.”
forgiven Angel all kinds of things he did to other people. You’ve always found excuses
for—” Then it hit him. “Hang on. I never told you word one about Cecily Addams. He’s the only one knows that saga
anymore. Is that where you were?”
had yanked her out of the Bronze, so why couldn’t magic have also put her
together with Angel? In some
coal-burning place where he was made human, made fertile— And he’d filled her head, while
they rolled around in the coal soot, with all his old protegee’s
“You think I was with Angel?” She flung her arms up.
“Oh, that’s rich!”
“How do I know you weren’t? Obviously you’ve
been someplace where time runs differently—so who knows what other rules
don’t apply there either.
But you should consider the source, pet. He taught me everything I know. Everything I’ve ever done, Angelus did trebled. At least.”
“Fuck you, Spike!”
“It’s not me you fucked, Slayer, while I was sat
here going mad with wondering what happened to you. An’ you come back and treat me like you’ve
forgotten I’m your man.
If there was nothing to it, you’d tell me so, reassure me, let me
reassure you. Stands to
reason. But no—there you
are, with a bellyful of some other bloke’s jizz and a big no touching
sign across your tits and I’m not allowed to be curious!”
She gasped, and flinched. Then her eyes were awash in tears. “You . . . how can you know that?”
Usually the mere hint of waterworks was enough to crack him,
but he wasn’t going to fall for that now—not when she was in the
middle of jerking him around so heartlessly. “Big scary hunter here, pet. Can hear its heart
pattering. Can smell its blood in you.”
was a knock at the door, and Dawn put her head through. “C’mon Buffy, Giles has the
face smoothed so suddenly into an impassive mask that Spike blinked. “I’m ready.” She turned on her heel and left the
room. In another moment he heard
her galumphing down the stairs.
That was another change: her natural grace was displaced somewhere. She’d gone flat-footed.
bitch. Godfuckingdamnit. He ought to have known he was too happy.
was at the wheel. She sat in the
back of her own car, Dawn curled against her, arms entwined. Dawn was acting like a big baby,
wanting to touch her every second.
God. Of course she did. Poor Dawn. Poor sweet Dawnie, who didn’t ask
her any questions that morning, who wanted, just like she did, to think
everything was perfectly okay now because she was back.
And it was so good to be back here, to have her
sweet baby sister’s arm wrapped around hers, to have Giles looking after
her again, to have the warm sun on her skin, cold orange juice in the fridge,
and no more mutton and mending.
been trapped and now she was free.
everything in the exam room was artificial. Formica.
Vinyl. Plastic. Fluorescents. Mrs Grieves’ house had had none of these things. She’d kind of liked how real
everything was back in 1880. Iron,
stone, wood, leather, wool.
She sat on the edge of the
paper-covered table, with the paper gown on, and swung her legs. Her feet looked like hell. All calluses and healed blisters and
badly in need of a pedicure. She
felt blobby and tired, like her body had run away with her somewhere.
Spike had mentioned a strobing
light right before he lost sight of her.
There’d been a lot of
strobing light last night between seeing him dangling from that drawing room
ceiling with his chest cut to ribbons, and withstanding the lowering attack of
the IHOP sign. Should probably
mention that to Giles.
She stared at the red sharps
disposal. Why were those always so
fascinating? Every time
she’d seen one, during her mother’s illness, she’d felt an
almost irresistible urge to plunge her hand through the fluted hole and grab at
all those dirty blades and needles, squeeze them tight in her fist until the
blood oozed through her fingers.
Why? How sick and weird was
that? She still felt it now, that
repulsive desire, and jerked her eyes away from it.
The desire for him was still there too, but that
didn’t mean she had to act on it, either.
Last night didn’t
count. She shouldn’t have
let him get into bed with her at all.
But then, nothing had happened,
There was a framed print on the
wall behind her. Monet’s
The doctor would come in soon,
right? This was getting boring.
She wondered what Mrs Grieves was
Well, duh. Nothing.
She was dead.
been . . . um, out of the country.
And had some pretty wild experiences. Which weren’t my fault. So I need to get tested for . . . well, for a lot of
things. STDs, and . . . . And I’m pregnant, but I
haven’t seen a doctor yet.
I’m . . . I’m . . . going to need an . . . I mean, I probably will need to
have an . . . I’m not sure
if . . . .” Damn. She’d started out so strong, voice confident,
stance upright, just tell the doctor what was going on, no shilly-shallying, no
goober-face, no overwhelming feeling of butterflies in the belly, no woo-woo
girly emotional storms that made her want to cry and melt onto the floor and
fling herself into Spike’s arms.
forced her voice, and her body, and her head back onto the
straight-and-narrow. Bad weird
shit had happened, but it was over now, and she just had to clear up the fall
out and move on. She was the
Slayer, and that’s what the Slayer did.
“I need to get an abortion.”
doctor, a young man who seemed to Buffy to be roughly a contemporary of
Dawn’s—Doogie Howser, that was just a TV show, right?—gave her a tepid professional
smile. “Let me get started
on your exam, and then I can counsel you better after we see what’s
what. Can you give me an idea of
when you might’ve conceived?”
Oh—about a hundred and
twenty-two years ago.
She walked out an hour later with
a pamphlet about ending her pregnancy, another about continuing her pregnancy,
another about birth control options, and a fistful of prescriptions.
“Fill these and start them
today,” he’d said, handing her the first two with his left hand
while he went on scribbling with his right. “These, along with the shot I just gave you, will clear
up the gonorrhea and the chlamydia.
Start the pre-natal vitamins too.
If you decide to end the pregnancy, you can stop taking them. The sooner you decide that, obviously,
the better. You’re into your
second trimester. Abortion is more
of a big deal now than if you took care of it early on.”
“I know, I . . . I
wasn’t in a place before where I could—“ She stopped. Why was she apologizing to him? He didn’t care.
“And don’t fill this
one until you hear from us about the TB test. If you’re positive, you’ve got to take the meds
for six months, but I’m thinking it’s probably unlikely.”
“I . . . I had kind of a lot of exposure. The guy who—”
worry. Wait for your test
results.” He glanced up at
her then. “Do you have any
questions, Ms Summers?”
How am I going to tell my
friends what’s happened to me?
How do I know that just
because I’m back doesn’t mean this whole
getting-jerked-around-through-time thing isn’t going to happen to me
Why do I feel
guilty about leaving Mrs Grieves when I couldn’t help it anyway?
How can I stop thinking about
everything I saw him
do and say back there?
And the things I only heard
Why am I even thinking about
all that? Why should it surprise
me or bother me any more than anything else I already knew he’s
done? What difference does it make
anymore, over a century later?
Is it because if I can work
myself up into hating him again that’ll carry me through getting rid of
his child? Because if I stop to
think about it being his,
or about what he’d want, I just might lose my mind?
Is it really his, anyway? In what sense is it his? In what sense
isn’t it? Is he William or isn’t he? William wasn’t him.
Is it mine?
Don’t I want to get rid
of it? He’ll want me to. But aren’t I supposed to decide? Just me?
Do I know what I’m feeling
I’m good. Got the
pamphlets. S’all cool. I’ll call up the clinic and make
an appointment, soon as I get home.” She stuffed everything into her handbag.
Another professional smile. Did they teach that at medical
school? “Good luck then, Ms
Summers. Please stop at the desk
on your way out.”
“So?” Dawn said.
Giles just got to his feet,
saying nothing, eyes full of questions.
Buffy gave her sister a big
smile. “I’m totally
healthy-girl. No biggies to worry
about. I just have a little
infection, have to get this prescription filled, but it’s nothing.”
Dawn gave her the hopeful-Bambi
“Clean bill of
Giles jingled the car keys in his
splendid, then. Shall we be
In the car again, her mind
raced. As they approached the
Tastee Whip stand at the corner of Alameda, she tapped Giles on the
shoulder. “Can we stop? I want some ice cream.”
There was a long line. Buffy gave Dawn a big smile, and that
and a little prodding got her out of the car. “Get me a large chocolate and vanilla twirl, with
extra sprinkles. The multicolored
kind.” She handed her sister
a ten dollar bill. “Get
whatever you want for yourself.
Giles? Small vanilla as
“Err . . . yes. Thank you.”
The afternoon sun made the cars
in the lot glitter. Everybody
moving back and forth from the chrome-and-white stand looked healthy, stylish,
untroubled. Buffy stared at a couple
around her age, swinging a toddler along between them by the hands. The child whooped and giggled and
kicked his legs when they pulled him up off of the ground.
young to have a kid,” she said.
Giles eyed them for a moment,
then glanced at her. “Maybe
they’re just babysitting?”
“They look really happy
about it, anyway.” She
turned her head to follow their progress across the lot. The woman and child sat down at one of
the picnic tables while the man joined the line. His hair was ruffled by the breeze, and he turned his face
up to the sun while he waited.
Of course the lame-o thought
presented itself that she’d never be able to do even such a simple thing
as that with Spike. She pushed it
out of her head.
He gave her one of his soft
looks, the kind that made her feel like a little girl, but one who was very
much cherished. “Yes, I
know, actually. That’s
partly why I was so keen to get you to a doctor.”
“Spike told you?
I really didn’t want him to know about this.” She played with the clasp on her handbag.
My problem. Mine. None. Of.
Dawn had five people ahead of her, and then she’d be
back, juggling cones, and this conversation would have to cease. So there was no point dragging her
feet. “Look, there’s something else I don’t want him to
know. Which hopefully
he can’t sniff out. But
I’m telling you, because I’ve learned: Secrets. Bad.”
“And this secret would
“Buffy. How could it possibly—”
“I don’t know how I
got there, or why. But when I
disappeared out of the Bronze, I ended up on a street somewhere in
“And the year was
“Buffy. My God.” Giles shifted around in his seat so he
could look at her full-on. She saw
surprise in his face, but also something akin to rapture—he was ready to
hear a marvelous story. “You
were thrown back in time?”
“Apparently. No—not apparently. Absolutely. Yes. It was
totally You Are There. In full-on
“What—what did you
“About what you’d
expect, given how I was dressed, and not knowing where the hell I was. Some guys immediately hassled me, I
defended myself, there was a brawl, and then I got arrested. I had to spend a week in jail with a
lot of whores, of which I was considered to be one. After I got out of jail without a penny to bless myself
with, as they say there, one of the girls took me under her wing, but the place
she brought me turned out to be—surprise surprise—a
whorehouse. So I ran away from
there, and tried to get help. I
ended up at some charitable mission sort of place, but the man who ran that hit on me. And
he was a clergyman! Giles, it was
“Starving was a real
possibility there—plenty of people were doing it.” She shrugged. “I ended up . . . peddling the only thing I had, so I wouldn’t
have to do it too. The first couple of times I . . . picked someone up, I thought it would be temporary. Just so I could get some money in my
hand, so I could get situated. . . .
But there was no place else to go from there. What I got from these men didn’t even buy enough food
to fill me up, let alone . . . I had nothing but a raggedy dress and boots
they’d given me in jail, no way to wash—I couldn’t even get
work as the lowliest kind of servant, because I had no references, and I looked
like hell. I was completely
lost. Nobody would look at me and
see me.” She cut off his next remark. Dawn was now third in line to be
served. “That’s how I
got gonorrhea, but it’s not how I got pregnant. I was out on the street for a long time—a couple of
months. Horrible, but not the main
“The main event?”
“I’d just about given
up hope that anybody, either here or there, was going to rescue me. Then one night, I saw him. Spike.”
She nodded. “Only he wasn’t Spike yet,
he was William. Still human. But I recognized him, and . . . I threw
myself at him, convinced him I’d known his sisters, who were already dead
. . . . I lived with him and his
mother for half a year in their house in Bayswater.”
Giles took off his glasses, and polished them on his shirt tail. “I see.”
you probably don’t. It was
. . . what was he like? William
before he was The Bloody?”
“He was a good Christian
gentleman. A hypocrite. A writer of really lousy poems. The whole Spike persona—that’s
a big put-on. He was thoroughly
middle class. You realize that,
“I . . . I suppose I never
really thought— Bayswater,
“And . . . sad. Really sad. Surrounded by death.
Pretty much walled in by it.
On his way to it himself.
He had TB.”
“TB. How do you know?”
“Two of his sisters died of
it. The third probably
would’ve too, except she went in a traffic accident. Plus: big cough in the early
“Oh dear. Do you—”
have the prescription in my purse.”
Giles blinked. “So . . . you and William . . .
weren’t lovers. But he got me
“Ah.” Giles got that expression he had when
Anya was talking too blithely about her sex life with Xander.
“Right. Ah is a good word for it, I guess. Gah might even be a better
word. There was nothing romantic
about it, or even particularly nice.”
you had a peculiar and discomfiting experience. And now you’re back with us, with Spike’s child
growing inside you.”
soon as he said the words, she felt a weird sensation, as if all the blood in
her body had rushed to her womb.
Sweat broke out along her hairline. She wished he’d parked the convertible in the shade.
we say . . .” he seemed to be tasting the words before he pronounced
them, “. . . that this is a happy outcome to a troublesome course of
Happy? Happy!?!?!?!? Ignore.
Deny. Gloss over. “Giles, listen. I was there when he got turned. Not with him, I mean, but it happened while I
was living in his house. I had to
look after his hysterical mother when he just didn’t come home one
night. A little while later, when
he returned to his mother’s for his things, I saw him. I knew he’d come back, and I let
him into the house. This beginner
vampire,” and he frightened me like he’s never frightened me before,
and I’m only just realizing this now because I’m a brave little
toaster, “and Giles, he was . . . he was .
. . .” A grimace took her
face, yanking her mouth down. For
a moment it was impossible to talk.
“. . . glad. I could
tell he was glad about it. God, he
was so vile. Then I saw him again a little after
that, when . . . the Council sent me in to Angelus’ house to kill them
“Buffy. Back up.
You’d contacted the Council?”
I was living with William for a while, it occurred to me to advertise, and I
heard from them right after he went away.
But they weren’t interested in helping me. They said it was impossible to send anybody
forward in time, but really I don’t think they’d ever tried. They were only interested in using
me. Per usual for them,
really. By then I was . . . I was
thinking a lot of rotten thoughts, because I’d pretty much lost hope for
my future. So I made a bargain
with them—that I’d go after the vampires if they’d provide
for William’s mother. I was
fond of her, and I was all she had after her son disappeared. So I went into this house Angelus and
company were holed up in, knowing that I probably wasn’t going to come
out. And I was sort of okay with
that, because—well, as soon as either the council or William’s
mother found out I was pregnant, I was going to be out on my ass. They took that whole ‘fallen
woman’ thing really seriously back then. But I was scared, Giles. I felt sick, and not as strong as usual. My confidence was shaky, because I knew Angel and the others
weren’t supposed to die yet, but I figured they’d have no trouble
killing me. I took out a few minions in the
kitchen, and then I went into the room where Spike and Drusilla were,
She stopped, seeing again that
image that was seared into her brain.
Spike—no, he still wasn’t Spike yet, Spike would come
later. William. Dangling from the ceiling, gagged and whipped and looking so
uncannily serene, as if he’d finally found his place in the world.
the Bloody. The rapist, the
killer, the happy ripper of throats.
that’s when I suddenly found myself back in Sunnydale. In the parking lot of the IHOP, for
some reason. Strange, huh? You’d think I’d end up back
by the ladies room at the Bronze where I started out, right?”
surprised her then. He leaned
across the gap between their seats and pulled her into a tight hug.
Buffy . . . this is incredible.
And so terrible for you, I cannot imagine . . . .”
allowed herself one long moment of giving in to it, accepting the comfort he
offered, inhaling the tweedy, sandalwoody smell of his shoulder where her cheek
rested. Then she pulled away.
“Did Spike say anything
else when he spoke to you? Like he
remembered me from before?”
“No. He seemed as bewildered as we all were
about where you’d been. I
suppose he could’ve been dissembling.”
that means lying, you know he doesn’t do that very well. Mr Evil practically grows a Pinocchio
nose telling me he wasn’t the one who put the empty milk container back
in the fridge.”
then. If he doesn’t remember
. . . it would seem to indicate that time can fork. I’ve read the watchers’ chronicles for that time
period—for the whole latter half of the 19th century, in fact,
and there was no mention of you in them, of course. I doubt that’s altered, because my memory of them
would be altered too. But
I’ll make some discreet inquiries. That doesn’t mean your
experience wasn’t real. It
only means time isn’t absolutely linear.”
“Huh. You know what strikes me, though . . .
my being there didn’t change anything for him at all. William’s story was the same. He still died when he did. His mother was still left alone,
Angelus and the others weren’t stopped.”
yeah, I came back to 2002 with this.” She touched her belly. And William didn’t die a
virgin. For all the difference
artifact. Of something that
happened to you, but not, so far as he knows, to him. Curious.
Perhaps whatever agent sent you back in time somehow also prevented you
from altering major events that had already taken place up to the time you left
us. We need to determine how it
happened. Whether you were the
“We’ll figure it out,
I guess. We always do. But I’m glad Spike doesn’t
complicated enough already.”
“And you really don’t
mean to tell him? Where you were,
what happened to you?”
“I don’t want to get
into it with him. He’ll tell
me to get rid of it, and I really don’t want to hear that from him. He . . . he gets so bossy
sometimes. Like he thinks
he’s my watcher.” She
felt herself blush. “This
problem is mine,
not his. Does that make
it’s what you feel . . . .
But I’d ask you to consider—”
Her throat closed, and when she
went to speak, there was pain.
“Oh God, Giles.
I’m afraid . . . afraid that if I . . . but if . . . I don’t
want to think about this too much.
I can’t. And the doctor said I
was pretty far along and I needed to decide now. Of course I’m not going to keep it, but I don’t
want a big group discussion.” She
squirmed, and glanced over towards Dawn.
Something was holding up the line; the person ahead of her sister seemed
to be having an argument with the kid behind the counter.
“Buffy.” Giles’ voice, though low, was
intense. “Inasmuch as
I’m your watcher—your watcher emeritus, if you will—I want
you to remember, no one makes rules for you anymore except you. You’re not obliged
“Slayer here. Not mommy material.
It’s so not an option. I
. . . I don’t even want it.
It’s just impossible.
I mean, maybe, like ten years from now, if I live so long, and
there’s a . . . I dunno what I’m saying.”
She was quiet then, focusing on
the way the wind tossed the plastic streamers strung across the outdoor seating
area. Blue, red, yellow. They gleamed in the sun. She heard music from the other cars
parked around them, kids shouting.
If I live so long.
Spike was dead. He’d died before he had a chance
to grasp anything he’d thought he wanted, and no matter how many
centuries he might exist as a vampire, how passionately he loved his women,
he’d leave nothing of himself behind when his end came. A dead breeder of death. That’s just the way it was.
He didn’t expect anything
“But . . . the absolutely
only child that William—
Spike—whoever—could ever have, is right
here.” She crossed her arms
over herself. “If I end
it—it’s really over for him.
I can’t help thinking about that.”
“Well. You have to decide.”
decided. Except, the other thing .
. . a woman
. . . if
she’s in love with a man . . . and she thinks she’d ever want to have a kid . . . wants
to have his. I mean . . .
that’s natural. Right? I may be the slayer, and he may be a
vampire, but what’s natural . . . is still natural.”
Why am I even saying
this? I already know what I have
to do. Spike’s not a man, and I’m not a woman, not that way.
Giles paused. “Perhaps you two should decide
“No.” She swallowed, and bile rose back up in
her throat. Lots of heartburn now,
and she’d forgotten to mention that to the doctor. It seemed less important somehow than
“He’s not going to want it, Giles.”
“Buffy, you don’t
“I know. I know Spike. I
know what he’s about.”
He’s about fighting and fucking, sex and violence and passion
and flamboyance. The Ramones and
low-down dirty blues. English
football, ripping the heads off demons, giving me the best head I could
ever— “He wouldn’t be any
help with this.” He’d mock me for even hesitating. And we might be over now anyway. If I can’t . . . can’t make
myself . . . oh FUCK.
Suddenly Giles handed her his
handkerchief. “Here comes
Dawn. We’ll have to finish
this chat later.”
she touched it to her face, she realized there were tears pouring from her
eyes, although she’d not made a single sob.
looked up, just as her sister thrust two already-dripping cones towards
Dawnie. This looks great. There wasn’t any soft-serve where
climbed into the back.
“Xander and Anya are probably waiting for you at home,” she
said between complacent licks.
goody. She was tired in advance at the
prospect of Xander’s relief, his emotional outpouring, and Anya’s
magpie chatter. But they were her
friends, so of course she wanted to see them.
ice cream was cool and creamy in her mouth, like Spike’s tongue.
the pharmacy she tried to go straight to the back and hand over her
prescriptions, but she was ambushed in the middle of the shampoo aisle by the
woman holding the eight-foot baby.
At least, it looked like an eight-foot baby in the brief glimpse she got of
it before the tears blinded her.
She wanted to run out of the store, because she was weeping like an
idiot, but there was no way she could go back to Dawn in the car until she
calmed down. So she held onto the
edge of the shelf in front of the L’Oreal display, choking on sobs, and
hoping no one she knew would happen along.
had no control anymore over her tear ducts.
Fighting demons was nothing to
and Anya were waiting on the porch when they drove up. Xander enfolded her in his arms, and as
he held her, she felt him repress a sob.
Which reaction left her curiously unmoved, so she squeezed him back as
hard as she could, to show him that she loved him, until he yelled and danced
away from her.
the same old extra-strength Buffy,” he grinned. “Ow.”
embraced her too. “We were
so concerned about your sudden unexplained absence. I hope you’re going to tell us what happened to you
and where you were when it was happening?”
went into the house. Tara
appeared, but not Spike. No one
else seemed to notice this, or care.
Buff? What’s the story? Where’d you find yourself?”
led them outside to sit in the backyard, in the late-afternoon sun. Not really thinking that this would
prevent Spike from joining them—just thinking that it was such a
beautiful day, and she’d barely seen the sun for weeks at a time in
Which she so didn’t want to get
into. She didn’t want to
tell them anything. Giles was one
thing. She wanted to confide in him, and she
trusted him to be discrete. Tara
she’d have to take into her confidence too, because she’d need
someone to come with her to the clinic.
But no way did she want Anya and Xander to know what she’d done in
that other place to survive—or Dawn to know she was staring at the need
for an abortion before the week was out.
The thought of making up outright lies left a chalky feeling in her
mouth. Why couldn’t this
whole thing just go away?
Spike knew. Damn it damn it damn it.
She dug her hand into the springy
turf. A tiny bug marched across
her knuckles. Hello, tiny
bug. Are you a widdle baby bug?
Are you looking for your mommy bug?
. . . was in some kind of hell dimension.
I mean—not hell, exactly, but, the
I’m okay, but I’d really like to just put it behind me and
move on. Not do the rehashy thing.”
looked like a kid out of whose mouth she’d just snatched a lollipop. Tara just looked worried. And Xander, bless him, sailed right in
trying to spackle it all smooth. “Sure, of course, whatever you want or
don’t want to say it’s your right, and we’re not gonna
interfere, and anyway the important thing is to figure out what happened so it
doesn’t happen again.”
Buffy seized on this. “I heard about strobing. A strobing light right before I
disappeared? Did you guys see it too? And have you been checking out whether
anybody else has popped off the same way?”
didn’t see anything in the paper, or on the news,” Tara said.
checked with the missing persons files at the police department,” Anya
said, “and there were no reports the last couple of weeks that looked
pertinent. I mean, nobody who was
there one second and gone the next, like you.”
you guys notice anything else at the Bronze that was weird? At all?”
all shook their heads.
Xander said, after they were all silent for a few beats, “I did notice
those creeps Warren and Jonathan going into the men’s room as I was
coming out—about fifteen minutes before we lost the Buffster. Do you think—?”
of his attention-getting stunts?” Anya said.
they’ve built a working way-back machine?”
I seriously doubt that.”
Buffy lay on her back in the
grass, staring up into the branches of the avocado tree, working her fingers in
the cool damp soil, letting her eyelids flutter. She found this part of the problem strangely uninvolving. This time in the backyard would be so
pleasant, if it wasn’t for the crushing weight on her chest, the emotions
dashing back and forth in her brain like an unruly tod— No.
No way. There were some thoughts that were not
to be thought, and some feelings that were not to be felt.
N. O. No.
She moved her hand, in a
completely nonchalant way that no one would notice, and laid it on her
Scoobies talked it over. The sun
on her skin, the soft loam beneath her, made her sleepy; she zoned out. She saw Spike: two Spikes. One hers, all leather and sneer, and
the other the spotty, skinny, sullen, over-bitey, angry teenage version: their
son. Whom Spike was raising, if
you wanted to call it that, on his own, because of course she’d been dead
for fourteen years by then, done in by a Lesarian Hog Demon that bit her in two
with one chomp of its enormous tusks, when baby was barely two. And instead of stretching himself on
her grave at dawn, the way he always liked to promise he would, of course
he’d had to hang around for Spike Jr. They were still living in the house, a stinking mess that was
falling down around them and bringing down the rest of Revello Drive with
it—Tara of course having long since decamped to a nice life with another
witch and a bunch of cats up in Marin County. Xander and Anya would have moved to Seattle to live
well on the receipts of Anya’s day-trading and the Magic Box franchises,
and Dawn would be a wildly successful movie star by then, whose people were
instructed to deny all connection to her disturbing nephew and scary
semi-brother-in-law. Of course
this state of affairs wouldn’t go on for much longer, because young
Spikey would soon be beginning his life’s career as an incorrigible,
recidivist maximum-security inmate—just as soon as the dozy Sunnydale cops
woke up and attached him to that shocking string of convenience store robberies
that had already left five people dead.
And once he was locked up, Spike would move back in with his girlfriend,
Harmony, who already came around once a week or so, hauling some half-expired
victim in her car trunk to share with him before they had wild undead baboon
sex in what used to be her bed.
scrambled to her feet. “I need to pee.”
phone the abortion clinic right this minute.
started up the stairs. With each
ascending step she felt lighter and lighter in the head, light in her whole
body, as if her bones were hollow, as if she was a bird. But in the center of herself was a
small, concentrated weight, a hot knot of activity, dividing, burning,
forming. She carried this knot and
floated up the steps with it, imagining that she might float with it out
through the roof and up into the sky. Fly away Buffy.
the injection they’d given her at the doctor’s office was making
her feel this way.
used the bathroom off the hall, and meant to turn right around and go back
downstairs and phone for that appointment, but instead she found that her hand
was on the knob of the master bedroom door. She wanted—what?
She wasn’t sure. Well,
yes, she was: she wanted him. Wanted his
smile, his hands reaching for her, gathering her in. The way he’d press
his forehead against hers between kisses, murmuring her name as if he
couldn’t help himself. His mouth on her nipples. The little grunts he’d make when
she hauled his erection out of his jeans and tugged on it with both hands. Wanted to make it up with him, have
things be the way they were before.
When he’d been easy to love.
she couldn’t believe it seemed that way now. He’d never been easy.
But ten days ago now seemed like a golden era, misty and beautiful and
forever out of reach.
was Willow with that mind-wiping spell when she really needed it?
in the kitchen, she was reaching for the phone when the rest of them trooped
back in. Xander and Anya said
their goodbyes and left, promising to be on hand the next evening for a proper
Scooby meeting at the Magic Box.
Giles put the kettle on, Tara started to assemble the evening meal, and
Dawn agitated for pizza instead.
There were too many people here. She really couldn’t handle this. Buffy, leaning heavily on the counter,
counted to herself, backwards from twenty. When she reached one, she took a deep breath.
I need to make a call.”
all looked startled and guilty.
She didn’t want them to look that way. She showed them a big smile and hoped she didn’t look
like Bozo the Clown.
I . . . I can take the phone into the other room. Portable phones!
A technological marvel.”
She snatched it up and retreated into the living room. Waited, panting, until the sounds of
food prep resumed in the kitchen.
Dug through her bag for the clinic number she’d gotten from the
doctor. The phone slid out of her
grip as she searched, and she realized when she bent to pick it up that her
hands felt all floppy, like rubber.
She dropped her bag when she grabbed the phone, and decided that the
floor was probably a good place to be anyway. Plopping herself down, she took a few deep breaths.
call. Just call, and get the
appointment, and then you’ll have the appointment, and that’ll be
what you’ll do, and you won’t have to think about it anymore, or
really won’t have to think about not thinking about it, because not
thinking about it is what we’re doing. So we won’t think, and we won’t think about not
placed the call, made the appointment.
They’d take her the very next day. Her breathing was ragged; when she blinked, spots of light
flashed in her eyes. She curled
around her drawn-up knees, pressed her hot cheek against them.
touch. She glanced up. Spike was bent over her, trying to see
into her face.
getting rid of it. All right? Tomorrow evening, bye-bye.”
still feeling sick?”
just a thing. That I had to do
there. To survive. It wasn’t about love. It wasn’t even about pleasure. There’s nothing for you to be
He held a hand
out to her; she grasped it and let him haul her to her feet.
right then.” His eyes were
impassive. “When’s the
appointment? I’ll drive you
don’t need you to—”
“Buffy. I’ll drive you there, see you
through it. Just tell me
we’ll bring Tara.”
twisted her hand out of his.
“Things there, where I was . . . were fucked up. I didn’t need you in my face the
second I got back. It was too
me. I only love you.”
Don’t. “I know. Just . . . give me space.”
was nothing, Spike. It was nobody
“Right.” He walked away.
ready,” Tara said.
him.” Dawn shot off up the
stairs before Buffy could stop her.
Not that she really could stop her. Spike lived here, Spike was entitled to come down to dinner,
just like he did every night. His
glass of blood was in the microwave right now.
Dawn came back more slowly. “He’s not here. His blanket’s gone from by the
Tara looked at Buffy. “Did he tell you he was going
Buffy shrugged. “I don’t keep him on a
Giles looked askance at her when
she said she was going to patrol, but he made no protest.
She was almost at the corner when
she heard the running footsteps behind her and spun around.
“Noth—nothing. I just thought—maybe you’d
like some company.” She
paused. “Maybe . . . you
shouldn’t patrol tonight. So
soon after . . . .”
“Do I look as cruddy as I
“Um, kinda. How cruddy is that?”
. . . I just needed to get out, y’know? I was feeling stifled in the house.”
you’re here. Walk with
me. I’ll skip
patrol. We’ll just . . .
take a walk.”
The freedom! She’s never had to think about it
before. The freedom to set foot
out the door after dark and Just. Take. A. Walk. Not something she could do
from Mrs Grieves’ house.
Young ladies didn’t go out unaccompanied in the evening.
made the most of it now. Led Tara
out from under the shadows of the trees, into the middle of the quiet
street. Took her hand and swung
their arms in a big goofy arc.
Tara said, giving her one of her sidelong sloe-eyed smiles. “You comin’ on to me,
“Yes.” Buffy grinned, tipping her head back and taking a deep
breath. Sure, she was down to have
an abortion tomorrow, and she almost certainly had tuberculosis, and
she’d lied pretty blatantly to her lover, and the antibiotics or maybe
the time-displacement or the pregnancy or the tension were playing hell with
her stomach so she couldn’t eat any dinner, yet in this moment she felt
unaccountably giddy, just because she was back in her rightful place.
rounded on Tara, still holding her hand, walking backwards in front of her,
smiling. “Wanna see how they
danced, where I just came from?”
She grabbed Tara’s waist with the other hand, and yanked her into
motion, jigging her up the block in wide crazy loops from parked car to parked
car. Laughing and half-breathless,
she tra-la-ed the tune she’d heard so often, creaked out on the fiddle in
the cavernous gin-joint where she’d spent many of her nights as a London
to her credit, kept up, hair and skirt flying, although every time Buffy
whirled her beneath a street lamp she could see the bewilderment in the other
woman’s eyes. At the corner
she let her go, the momentum spinning them away from each other. Tara tripped over her skirt and sat
down abruptly on a manhole cover; Buffy crashed against a shiny BMW that
immediately began flashing and honking and instructing her, in a loud mechanical
voice, to step away from the vehicle.
Still laughing, she hauled Tara to her feet, and they ran.
“Buffy—! What was that?”
how they danced—the whores—they’d dance with each other when
there wasn’t anybody else.
Warmed us up, anyway!”
was one of them. For a couple of months. More.”
long time ago, in a place far far away.”
were sent back in time?”
reached Main Street, and slowed to a walk. Buffy still held Tara’s hand, still swung it. “What happened while I was gone? I mean—how did Dawn,
this question, Tara’s eyes went sheepy. “We were so scared, Buffy. When I did the locator spell and couldn’t get even a
trace—we didn’t know what to do. We all felt so frantic, and powerless. We called Giles, and he came right
away. But then, he didn’t
know what to do either.” She
paused. “We call it
research, but sometimes it’s really just wheel-spinning.”
I got back on my own, somehow. Who
all decided. I think it was Anya
who actually phoned. Spike had his
hands full with Dawnie. She
panicked right away, and he was the only one she’d listen to at all. She wouldn’t let him out of her
sight. The only way she got any
sleep the whole time you were gone was when he sat with her. He really kept it together for her,
the Espresso Pump she hesitated
over what to order: caffeine was supposed to be bad for pregnant women, but
then, she was only going to be a pregnant woman for another day. In the end she skirted the whole decision
by asking for cocoa. They took a
table near the low wall, as far as possible from the others.
looked into her face.
Buffy . . . you . . . you really had to . . . ?”
“It wasn’t like in
the movies. No frilly dresses and
parasols and lords a-leaping. My
advice to you, Tara: never get sent back in time, if you can possibly avoid
it. At least, not to the
“I’ll try to remember
that.” Tara smiled.
“So . . . are you all right?”
Buffy wanted to tell Tara what
she’d told Giles, and more than that. Wanted to get her help in figuring out what she ought to do
now about Spike, for whom her feelings were spiraling in ever increasing
circles of contradictory, hormone-ridden confusion. Tara was looking at her with that sweet compassionate gaze
that made her want to spill her guts, that gave her the feeling that no matter
what she said, Tara would understand and still like her.
But Tara also understood and
liked Spike. Their friendship was
something that went on quite apart from her, that she had only the tiniest
window on. But big enough to know
it wasn’t fair to make Tara her secret-keeper. She’d made up her mind that she was going to end
the pregnancy, and keep her own council about its source. Confiding in Giles, who would go home
to England again in a few days, was one thing. Burdening Tara, who had daily conversations with Spike . . .
she couldn’t do that.
If things with Spike fell apart,
she’d just have to try not to put Tara in a position of choosing between
Tara touched her arm. “Hey. What’s wrong?
All of a sudden you look like one of those tragedy masks.”
I? Feeling so crazy right now. The fact is . . . I’m
pregnant. Little, ah, side-effect
of being on the game.”
“Buffy. Oh no.”
no big. I’ve got an
appointment, tomorrow afternoon at six, to get it taken care of. Usually it takes two visits, because
I’m kind of far along, but this clinic said they’ve got a one visit
procedure. Get it over with. Will you—will you come with
me? They said I should bring
someone. Spike offered to
drive—but I want you there.”
course. My God. Buffy, I’m so sorry you had to
. . .
things have happened to me really.”
I’m SuperStrength Girl, I can protect my friends from my stupid
. . . don’t say it’s no big.
Even though you don’t want to have the baby, it’s still . .
. an abortion is still . . . well, it’s not a no big.”
“No. No! I mean, I know—!
Only . . . really, I don’t want to blow it out of proportion. It’s just something I have to do,
and move on.”
was true. It was true. True. Is what it was.
It was quite late when they got
back. Tara said goodnight to her
in the upstairs hallway.
opened the bedroom door quietly, expecting to find no one there.
Spike was in bed, curled on his side near the edge, reading a book in the dim
lamplight that would’ve ruined any but a vampire’s eyesight.
glanced up when she stepped in.
“You were probably counting on me being out on a drunken bender tonight. Sorry, I didn’t feel like
it. But I’ve left you your
space.” He gestured with a
hand to indicate the four-fifths of the mattress he wasn’t lying on.
her hair in the bathroom, she thought
Ten days. For him I was gone ten days. Not months. Ten
days when Dawn was hysterical and he was frightened and they couldn’t
figure out what happened. And then
I come back from my Magical Mystery Tour and I’m all weirded out and . .
. it’s not fair to him. I
loved him before, and nothing’s changed. I went back into his past and nothing’s changed. Well, except my mind. I need to just get a grip. I still love him. I do.
day it happened was pretty typical, in the way that typical, for a while there,
had come to mean good. They’d patrolled
later than usual the night before, to free themselves up for going dancing the
next evening. Spent a long morning
in bed, mostly sleeping, but also fooling around, which was different from
making love and different from fucking.
Before Spike she hadn’t known sex could have so many modes. They’d teased each other and
giggled, but she couldn’t remember anymore what was so funny. When she’d left him to get a
little more sleep through the brightest part of the day, she’d been happy
to have shopping to do, errands to run.
She’d spent a couple of hours at the Magic Box, working out. Nothing serious, mostly handstands and
cartwheels, a little boxing.
She’d chit-chatted with Anya, even taken care of a couple of
customers when things got busy before closing.
dancing had been great. Not that
either she or Spike were such wonderful dancers, but it was one of those
evenings when every song the DJ chose was just the one, when her body connected to the
beats and through them to every other body in the whole club. But most of all to Spike’s. He’d flirted with her all
evening, making those little smirky teasey faces, as if they had a delicious
secret together. When
she’d walked away from him towards the bathroom, she’d hoped
he’d follow, grab her when she came out and pull her outside into the
alley for a knee-trembler.
he would have. If she’d been
hadn’t moved. Still lying
with his back to her, arm curled around the book he was reading. She got into bed, punched the pillow. Settled into stillness. Two backs turned.
her head, the seconds jerked by.
In Mrs Grieves’ house, she’d always heard the clock, loudly
tocking out the measure of her imprisonment. Here, all the clocks were electric. She peeked after what seemed like at
least ten minutes to find that only one digit has shifted. Closed her eyes again. Heard Spike turn a page. Her own stomach gurgled. She hoped he couldn’t hear that,
but he probably could.
ten minutes really had elapsed, she heard the book thump shut.
“N—no. I didn’t patrol really. Just went for coffee with Tara.”
as well. I think you should hold
off a bit. You’re not in
shape. An’ you smell tastier
than usual. Could get hurt.”
all right. I did the rounds. Quiet night. Met up with just a couple, took ‘em out no
do it, ‘til you’re fit again.
Need to get you back into training. Soon’s you’re up to it.”
didn’t reply. The
silence lengthened. She
didn’t think he was asleep; she doubted she’d sleep either. But the portion of the night during
which they were going to pretend seemed to have been reached.
he spoke next, he startled her.
did it help any, talking to Tara?”
. . . she . . . she said while I was gone, you took good care of Dawn.”
pause. “Niblet took good
care of me.”
God. Instantly her face, and the pillow,
were wet, salt running in at her lips.
She trembled, trying to force it down. What was this thing going on inside her that could so knock
her off her pins, make her so dopey and weepy and what were the other seven
She felt him roll over.
you permit me, Slayer, to touch your shoulder?”
Shit. If he was going to play it like that, what force could she
muster against him?
wished she’d put that clipping from the newspaper, the one about the
grisly murder of Miss Cecily Addams, in the pocket of her chimney sweep
clobber. So she’d have it
with her now, to brandish in his face like a talisman to keep him off.
did. Invite me in, Mistress Buffy.
can’t come in.”
mumbled it so low into the pillow, he didn’t catch it. But now he was right behind her, his
hand was on
her shoulder, his face hovering over it, waiting for her to repeat
herself. And her back, where his
chest brushed it, was on fire; she wanted to press against him, let him take
her that way, it would be all right if she didn’t face him, didn’t
open her eyes, didn’t say yes or no, didn’t think.
scrabbled out of bed.
“Tara, are you
. . . Buffy? What’s the matter?”
“Noth—nothing. Don’t turn on the light. Can I sleep with you?”
are coming on
is on the couch, otherwise I’d—”
“S’okay. Get in.”
you think you’ll ever have kids?”
“Sure. In a few years. When I find the right girl.” She
guess you wanted that to be Willow.” Buffy was glad for the sudden change of subject.
thought it was.”
it maybe be again?”
you hear from her?”
email sometimes. Not . . . not so
much.” Tara paused, then
said, “What about you?”
don’t hear from her.”
I meant, do you want to have kids?”
hope you’ll still be nearby so I can be The Cool Aunt to yours. I’ll teach them how to kickbox
and stuff them with chocolate and be an overstimulating but very popular
presence in general.”
would be great. I’ll count
don’t have children.”
. . . slayers don’t do a lot of stuff that you’ve already
kind of what Giles said.”
know it’s sad, right now.
But you’re only, what, twenty-one? There’s time. When you decide, when you’re ready. And you should have a baby with someone
you really love, not . . . .”
“. . . not someone you were
. . . you know . . . transacting business with.”
awoke to find it was raining. Tara
was already gone. At the window of
her old room, she looked out at the dripping trees.
the day William Grieves gets to die all over again.
went to the bathroom and threw up.
her mouth, she avoided her face in the mirror. It was okay.
Last day of morning sickness.
Last day of a lot of things.
She dreaded going into the
bedroom for her clothes, but Spike wasn’t there.
made the bed.
into the closet, she thought What does one wear to an abortion?
The smell of coffee and eggs
frying made her stomach rebel again.
She clutched the newel post, fighting the heaves, then swung through
into the dining room.
had already left for school. No
Spike. In the kitchen, Tara was
sliding two sunnyside-ups out of the pan into the plate Giles held out for
guys.” She couldn’t
get too close to those awful eggs.
“Giles, could you take me and Tara to the clinic later? I have to be there at
glanced at Tara, who fluttered a little, and put down the pan. “Spike’s taking us.”
“Oh. I thought—where is he?”
didn’t say where he was going.
But that he’d be back in plenty of time.”
“Oh? Good. I just thought he might’ve—”
you ready?” Giles said.
I’ll ever be.”
I do not want to ride to this in a car with blacked-out windows and a vampire
at the wheel.
five-thirty he pulled up outside the house and honked. Buffy and Tara dashed down the walk in
the rain and climbed in. Spike had
his foot on the brake; as soon as Tara slammed the back door, he took off.
where’s this place?”
Tara told him how to go. Buffy let her head rest against the
window, listened to the soft thwap thwap of the windshield wipers, and the tattoo of
downpour on the car roof.
She’d barely slept all night, spent most of the day wide-eyed but
unregistering in front of the television, but she almost thought she could
drift off now, if it weren’t for the tight knot of apprehension in her
stomach. She wished her mother was
here. She wished Willow
was—the Willow she’d known in high school, who’d see her
sweetly through anything.
one talked except about the directions.
Buffy couldn’t keep track of where they were, behind the blackened
glass. She let her eyes fall shut. The ride seemed to take a long time,
but when Spike killed the engine, she jumped. Over too soon!
“Right. Here we are then.”
opened her door. They were in a
parking garage, connected to the medical office complex where the clinic
was. Their level was about
half full. Grey columns,
grey ceiling, grey pavement, and the cars on either side were grey too. All to match the grey day shading into
darkness, and the greyness in her head.
She swung her legs out, but when she tried to stand up, a wave of
dizziness came over her. She
leaned over and wretched. Then she
was looking at Spike’s boots, and he’d taken her arm, pulling her
to her feet.
on,” he said. “Sooner
started, sooner over.” The
words were brusque, but his hands, steadying her, were gentle.
stairwell was all grey too. Poured
concrete, metal railing, harsh fluorescent light overhead. She thought This is what I’ll
remember when I think of this baby—hardness everywhere . . . .
Entering the building, they
passed into a cool, dim, silent corridor, lined on each side with closed doors. Some of the doors had little metal
boxes outside them, where lab work was left to be picked up. At the end of the corridor a
full-length window looked out on the street, the lights bleared in the streaks
of rain on the glass.
think it’s down at the end,” Tara said, darting ahead. “I used to see a dentist up
arm was wrapped around Spike’s.
She only realized this when he caught her as her knees gave way.
eyes met. She could barely see the
color of his. The corridor was
lined in dark paneling. It was
definitely under-lit. She stared
at him, her heart hammering so hard that her whole body seemed to be
palpitating. She felt hot and cold
at once, fresh sweat breaking out on her upper lip, her palms. The aroma of her body was palpable to
her, it must’ve been even deeper to him.
The gaze he returned for her
stare was mild, curious. He kept
his arm around her. She
wanted to cling to him and cry, cry it all out.
Tara had advanced up the
corridor, checking the signs on the doors.
“Spike.” She dug her fingers into his arm. The air was hard to breathe, she had to
drag at it, it was dry, unnourishing.
She wanted to keep her eyes fixed on him, but she couldn’t.
“Here it is!” Tara
She was a dark silhouette in
front of the window, gesturing.
“Spike. I can’t do this today. Take me home.”
Back in the car, she rolled down
the window. It rained in but she
didn’t care; she needed the cool air, to keep from passing out. It was already dark.
They were caught at the long
light on Mulberry. She stared out
at a display of baby furniture in the store on the corner. Sometimes the whole world was set up as
an object lesson just for you. She
was aware of Tara sitting behind her, looking out at the same thing.
She’d expressed no dismay
or approval or even surprise when Buffy asked her to go in to the clinic and
cancel her appointment while Spike walked her back to the car.
When Spike pulled up in front of
the house again, Buffy stirred out of her trance. “Tara, could you—I want to talk to Spike for a
“What—? Oh. Get out of the car.
Right.” Tara let out
a nervous little laugh, and then she was running lightly up to the house and
inside. Once she was gone Buffy
went on staring out the window, her eyes playing unseeingly over the lawn,
porch, dripping tree limbs, lighted windows, aware of Spike sitting behind the
wheel, not breathing, not smoking, not rushing her.
“I know what you did to
Cecily Addams because I was there.”
She didn’t turn her head to
see his reaction.
“I was there, in London,
when you were alive. That’s
where I found myself when I disappeared from the Bronze. I spent a couple of months lost, on the
streets. Then one night, I saw
you. I mean, I saw him. William Grieves.
And his very irritating friend, Mortimer, who thought I was just about
good enough to drink farthing gin like all the other whores. I spoke to him—you—about
your sisters, and I got him to take me home. I stayed in his mother’s house almost half a
year. I was there after
She started when his hand closed
tight on her upper arm, and whipped her head around. Some detached part of her mind noticed that Spike looked
comically astonished, eyes wide, jaw dropped.
“My mother’s house .
. . .”
“Thirty Penelope Terrace,
Bayswater. Only one on the street
with a blue door.”
His hand loosened, and slowly
fell away from her arm. It hit the
leather seat beside her with a thump, and Spike stared at it for a few moments
as if he had no idea it was his.
“You were in my mother’s house. Did . . . did you . . . was Jemima there?”
“Already dead, two or three
months. I wore her clothes,
slept in her bed. Your mother . .
. your mother was so kind to me.
Patient. She didn’t
understand why I couldn’t sew or knit or anything. She tried to teach me. I was supposed to make you a shirt,
only . . .
“Oh—and I met Cecily Addams, one day in the
park. Mrs Grieves had a headache,
so we were cutting church.
He introduced us and she looked through me like I was dirt. She wouldn’t look at William when
he spoke to her. She obviously
thought he was a little jerk. But
that doesn’t excuse what you did to her.”
He closed his eyes, gripping the
steering wheel hard, and for a moment she thought his face would crumple.
“How can this be? I don’t remember you.”
“Giles said time can fork,
or something. I was definitely
there, Spike. Everything you told
me happened to you, everything you did, happened just the same. Well, except for one thing.”
“I lied to you yesterday
when I said this had nothing to do with you. This,” she pressed her hand to her belly, “this
came from what went on between William Grieves and me.” She fixed her eyes on his face. “This is ours.”
“Bloody hell.” His voice was uncharacteristically
small. He stared at her, all the
animation drained out of his eyes.
She wished she could resort to
Dawn’s tantrum of choice: Get out get out GET OUT! But it was too late for that. She’d have to talk to him, much as she didn’t
“I don’t know what to
do, Spike.” She took a deep breath. “I don’t know what to do
about this pregnancy, and I don’t know what to do about you.”
The wipers were still on, dashing
aside the long fingers of rain.
Spike stared out the little peephole in the black windshield. They sat at either end of the front
seat, both looking out in different directions, the pattering filling up their
silence. Spike took out a cigarette,
and his Zippo, but didn’t do anything with them.
“Light it. It’s okay.”
He chucked them both on the floor
and started the engine again.
“Do you mind? I want to be moving. You needn’t come.”
She shrugged. “Driving’s good.”
He pulled out.
Of all the years of his young
manhood, of course that winter of ’79 to ’80 stood out most
distinctly in his memory. It was
so full of final things: the last times he played backgammon with Jemima,
escorted her to the West End to visit the big shops, took her out to Kew to see
the autumn leaves. The last time
he followed a sister’s coffin to its resting place, or tried to comfort
Mamma for the loss of another daughter. Last time he ever tipped anyone a penny for the Guy,
or bought Christmas presents for a holiday they couldn’t actually bear to
acknowledge. The last winter
he’d done without a fire at night to save money, lying in bed alone,
feverish from the bacilli burning him up inside, trying to dash the bawdy
thoughts from his head and not touch himself. He’d written his last poems that winter, unaware of
their laughable woodenness, hoped his last absurd human hopes about rising at
the bank, about marrying, about producing a child to put into his
mother’s empty, increasingly fleshless arms.
He could practically remember
each and every day, the air acid and yellow with the groaning fogs that were so
thick that year one had to feel one’s way along the familiar streets
turned murky and alien. As he
wended his way between Bayswater and the City, hope of change burned inside him
too. Somehow everything would be
different, he’d find his way to success, be the nation’s Poet
Laureate, with a beautiful, doting wife, excellent health, a large villa in
Italy where it was always sunshiny and clear, where he could sit in his own
garden, his darling little ones tumbling about his feet, and everyone would
defer to him.
Jesus Christ, William Grieves was
Spike pulled onto the freeway and
sped up. Buffy had said nothing
else since they’d left Revello.
She sat huddled bonelessly against the door. His own questions were backed up inside, numerous yet
mute. He wouldn’t be able to
ask them until she looked at him, really looked at him, not in that ghostly,
exhausted way. The last time
she’d seemed so shattered was right after the Scoobies had brought her
And he couldn’t picture her
back in that time. Girls
then didn’t stalk around with the kind of confidence she had in her body
and her right to be wherever she was; they didn’t wear those difficult
facial expressions of which she had a whole contemporary wardrobe. How the hell had she managed to stay
alive there long enough to encounter him?
And had she really sold herself, or was that a figure of speech, an
And if she’d worn his
sister’s clothes, then what the hell was that kit she’d come back
He recognized that his mind was
swooping around these questions so it wouldn’t have to land on the rock
of fact she’d dashed down upon him.
That tiny creature inside her,
whose presence had so inflamed his jealousy . . . was his.
He’d not given any thought
to babies in years. There was that
time, when he still lived with Angelus and Darla, that Dru had turned a newborn
they’d taken from the childbed of a child whore. Spent two weeks suckling the grotesque
thing from incisions on her breast; wouldn’t let him fuck her, but made
him fetch and carry tiny accoutrements for her mad maternal fantasy before
Darla caught him thieving a perambulator and forced him to put the little
blighter out of its misery. He
still felt a stirring of nausea, recalling that. Ever after, he’d given ‘em a wide berth, lest
Drusilla pull that stunt again.
Of course he wouldn’t say
they weren’t lovely to snack on, nice fat babies full of milk. He’d never turned one down, that
was easy to get hold of. But he
wasn’t like those vamp fetishists who made an elaborate ritual out of
acquiring the blood of infants.
All tasted the same in the dark, didn’t it?
But these nervous memories had
nothing to do with the matter at hand.
Buffy, his queen, his mistress, was by some strange miracle, carrying
Just as if he wasn’t a dead
He caught sight of his hands on
the steering wheel, and the idea came to him that there were hands forming
inside her, hands that were attached to arms, attached to a body with a head
and legs and a sex and it was made up of part of him and part of her. Growing. Inside her. Conceived when he was alive, and here
right now, in this car.
Something of himself, who had
been deader than dead for over a century, was quickening.
He didn’t know what to
think, what to feel about this. It
was such an impossibility that he’d never, in all the daydreaming
he’d done about Buffy, both when she was unattainable and after
he’d won her, imagined any such thing.
Vampires didn’t create and
nurture new life. Well, they might
turn a particularly succulent victim, and then, like Angelus had with him,
fledge the newly-created demon into a fresh power of blood-lust and
destruction. He’d never even
cared to do that; Dru had spoken sometimes of the need to carry on the House of
Aurelius in the absence of Angelus.
But he’d not wanted the responsibility—remembered what a
pain in the ass he’d been to Angelus and wasn’t eager to experience
that from the other side.
a new vampire was not a child, not flesh of one’s flesh. Angelus had told many stories
about how he’d devoured his whole family; given him to understand that
this was what vampires just naturally did. And if you believed the bragging most vamps told in their
cups, it was so. But he’d
heard, a long time ago, and a few times since, a different sort of story. Never could be sure if it was true or
not, but it seemed as likely as any other. The story of Jack Stamp, a young gentleman—in some versions
he was a baronet, in others merely the head of an ancient landed
family—who was bitten and turned one unlucky night in London in the late
coming into all the power and twisted glory of vampirism, this affectionate
gentleman was so distraught at being cut off from his adored wife and infant
son, that he stole home to his country seat and took his lady into his
confidence. When Spike first
heard this tale, in a demon pub in Woking around the time of the Boer War, the
teller, a black-eyed little minx who could remember the plague times, insisted
that this Jack Stamp, still wearing his pretty twenty-five-year-old’s
face at the age of three-hundred-and-something, yet resided in semi-secrecy in
that ancestral house, with his son’s great-great-great grandchildren, a
cherished skeleton in the family closet.
That he lived on animal blood when at home, disappearing to far-flung
places two or three times a year for a few weeks together, to satisfy his lust
for hunting and drinking human prey.
a tender-hearted fellow for his own flesh and blood, is Jack Stamp. I know, because I ran with him once, we
had a fortnight together in Liverpool, sampling the sailor boys in port from
foreign parts. He told me his
story his own self, when I was tucked up with him a-bed.” She’d thrown
Spike a flirting look from beneath her lashes, twisting one of her red tresses
around her small white fingers.
“Quite the cocksman was our Jack, but when he’s at home, he
rocks the cradles, sits up nights a-nursing when there’s anybody sick, and
when the moon’s full romps with the little ones on the lawn. The Stamps have no fear of the night
air. So he told me.”
other listeners guffawed and grumbled at this; Jack Stamp, whoever he was,
certainly let the demon side down.
How depressing, not to mention
pathetic, Spike had thought at the time, to hang around and watch one’s
pretty little wife age and decay and die.
A real bad ass vampire would take and turn her, if she was so necessary
to his happiness. As for the get,
leave ‘em to get on with it, well enough. What was the point of mooning over them as they aged and
died, while remaining always the image of what you were at the moment of your
death? Vampires weren’t
supposed to care about their posterity—they were posterity.
Maybe there was something in that
to account for the frequency with which vampires killed their people: was it
easier to go on as a demon knowing the beloveds were all gone already, than to
contemplate the arc of their natural lives from the vantage point of an unlife
that had no arc at all, no anchor-points, no natural rise and fall? Just a sequence of gross appetites to
be gratified, most of which would find no sympathy at all with the folks left
Because, well, live humans just
didn’t know how to really live it up.
Viva the gross appetites.
Buffy roused herself then, and shoved
the hair back from her face.
“What are you smirking
Spike composed himself in a
“Where are we going?”
“Where would you like to
“I’d like to go back
to when I was eight, and my parents still loved each other, and we lived in a
nice house in LA. And then
I’d like time to fork, like Giles says it can, so some other poor chick
can be the Slayer. And then I
think I’d like to be a professional figure skater.” She glanced at him. “If we’re gonna do that,
you need to bear left and take the next exit.”
“How about I buy you some tiffin? You look kind of
“Right. You always say that right before you
inhale a large pizza.”
“Where do you get your
“Not from you.”
Once she’d gotten her settlement
from the Council, she’d offered him some, but he’d refused to take
“I know. Yet you’ve always got smokes, and
whiskey in your flask, and gas in the car.”
“I’ve got my
ways. Don’t hurt anybody for
it. Anybody human, I mean.”
She frowned. “This whole thing we have . . .
it only works because I don’t ask you where you go when you go out
alone. It only works because
I’m the Slayer, and you’ve got the chip, and we’re amazing
together in bed, and we’re both big with the fighting. It only works because I
deliberately don’t think about your past, and neither of us has much of a
future together or
“So we might as well be
merry, for tomorrow we die, is that it?” He pulled into the parking lot of a diner and turned off the
engine. The DeSoto shivered and
ticked as it subsided into quiet.
“You forgot to mention it works because I love you with everything
I’ve got, and some days you’re rather fond of me. It works ‘cause I’d do
anything for you.”
“Would you really,
“What is it you want,
She sighed. “I’ll tell you what I
don’t want. I really
don’t want to have a baby at the age of twenty-one. I can barely take care of Dawn,
let alone some helpless little . . . and I really don’t want any innocent
baby to have you, Spike the vampire, for a father. I think that’s probably worse than having no father at
“And I don’t want to
be going to bed and having the wild amazing life-enhancing sex with an
unrepentant rapist killer.”
“You knew what I was when
you took up with me.”
“You knew what Angel was,
too. So he’s got a
soul. I’ve got a chip. Same difference—we’ve both
changed our ways.
Doesn’t erase the past on either of us. At least I’m not a self-righteous prancing idiot
mewling about my sins like he is.”
“You’re also not
sorry like he is. Worse than that—you’re proud of not being
“Sorry an’ a token
gets you on the bus.”
“But he’s trying to
work it off. All the evil things
he’s done, the lives he’s stolen. He’s devoted himself to atoning. Whereas you—”
“Whereas I don’t do
anything, do I, except look after the world’s one precious Slayer
an’ try an’ keep her in fighting trim. Maybe that’s my bit of atonement for the two I done
in. Jesus, Buffy. Do you think I don’t take that
seriously? Do you think I
wasn’t out every night you was gone, kicking ass and taking names and
trying to find out who’d snaffled you?”
“Spike, I know you
“Except, I failed. Just like I failed when
She touched his arm.
“Spike. Lover. Don’t.”
She watched him absorb the
“Let’s feed you up.
You haven’t eaten all day, have you?”
He wrapped his arm around her as
they crossed the parking lot, and she knew he’d have swung her up and
carried her if he thought she’d let him. The rain brought out strong the scent of his leather; she
wanted to bury her nose in his chest and just breathe him. That would be better than food. He wasn’t, was he, the same
as had violated Cecily Addams? He
didn’t look the same. Not
just the clothes and hair—the vampire William who’d come to the
door of Thirty Penelope Terrace that rainy Sunday had an air of deep, still,
frozen dread about him that was nothing like the Spike she knew. Spike, even at his most dastardly, had
always given off a sort of gleeful energy that was hot. That had nothing to do with the temperature of his dead
flesh. It was his
temperament. A temperament that
was not part of William Grieves.
When had that changed? Somewhere in the debauchery and carnage
between that Sunday in 1880 and the first time she’d seen him at the high
It was, she suddenly saw, the
same change that turned him from the man who’d made selfish use of her
body in the dark, even as he feared and despised it, to the lover he was now,
constantly devising fresh ways to excite and satisfy her. William hadn’t really liked
women. Spike did. William wrote
clumsy poems that were entirely disconnected from everything sensual, visceral,
real. Spike wrote his sinuous love
lyrics right into her skin.
The diner was fairly crowded, but
there was a whole section roped off, empty. Spike stepped over the barrier, and when the hostess tried
to stop him, he gave her a calm yet inexorable look, and that combined with his
whole appearance made her back off and shrug. “Sit anywhere you like, sir.”
Spike chose a booth in the back
of the room, one of the big ones meant for six people. “I love it when they call me
sir. This is good here, no one
Spike opened the menu. “What did you miss most while you
were exiled to mutton and boiled greens?”
“I just want some
coffee. I told you, I’m not
He ignored this, gesturing at the
waitress who approached with a hesitant air, and ordering two enormous
breakfasts, even though it was dinner time.
“You’re going to eat
all that?” Buffy said.
“No love. You are.” He leaned against the wall, stretching
his legs along the worn booth seat, and looked at her. She knew he was waiting for her to
talk, but his look was also full of an uncomplicated pleasure in her presence,
relief that she was back.
The reflection of herself she saw
in his face was one that existed nowhere else. What am I, she thought, that my enemy should fall in love with
me like this?
He was right, as he so often
was. As soon as the plates of
greasy food were set on the table, she realized the depth of her hunger. She ate nearly everything, pancakes,
eggs, sausage, potatoes, while he drank coffee and patiently watched her. After the first edge of her hunger was
sated, she began to tell him the story.
“. . . so . . . I’d
been there a few weeks, and I was starting to see he really didn’t want
me the house. Charity has its
limits. He knew his mother liked
me, and she certainly needed the company, but I think he couldn’t forget
he’d taken me off the street.
One day he came at me again about finding a situation, he wanted me to
take a job as a governess.
I—I had a melt down.
It was my first one, really.
Where I just cried like a dope.
I begged him not to send me away—the idea of going out into that
strange world and being all alone was just unbearable. Not that . . . not that I wasn’t
already alone. He wasn’t
you. It’s as if you had a
twin brother who’d been separated at birth, and I met him and expected
him to know all about me already, to treat me like you do. It was a constant shock to me, how much
he wasn’t you. And not being a vampire . . .
wasn’t really doing much for his likeability.”
Spike frowned and shook his
head. “No surprise
there. So what then?”
“Well, like I said, I
panicked, and started crying, and—well, I guess he got the wrong
impression. Or the right
impression, I dunno. But that
night he woke me up in my bed, and . . . demanded sex. He was angry. Like it was my fault he wanted me, like it was dirty. He’d never done it before, and he
didn’t want to learn. He . .
. he wanted to fuck me, but the idea of kissing me revolted him. Because of what he thought I was.”
She paused. For someone who said he didn’t do
sorry, Spike looked rather sorry now, staring into his coffee.
“So, didn’t die a
virgin after all.”
“Nope. In the morning I found he’d gone
away suddenly, was gone a week or so.
I guess he was struggling with himself over what we’d done. But when he came back it was just the
same. Angry at me, at himself. Turbulent. He came to me every night, and I knew as long as I let him,
he wouldn’t try to send me away. The sex did get better, but . . . he
wasn’t the man I longed for and imagined was on me when I closed my
“Fucking hell. Pet, I—”
She didn’t take the hand he
reached across the table then, because she knew if she touched him she
wouldn’t be able to continue.
“I thought maybe I’d
be able to get him to marry me.”
She let out a laugh; it seemed so absurd now, that desperation, the idea
of finding refuge in becoming a Bayswater housewife. “But he only thought about Cecily Addams. He didn’t even know her—and
he was stupid not to see how she despised him. And nice as I was to him, he didn’t respect me at
Spike glanced away. “No, he wouldn’t. Brought up not to, an’
“In a way it didn’t
matter, because I knew he was dying.
He knew it too.
That’s what he was really angry about, I guess.
He’d take it out on me in bed, not that he was really strong
enough to hurt me, but I let him think so. It seemed important to him, to dominate me. And then afterwards he’d gasp and
struggle to catch his breath.
Spike . . . you never told me you were sick.”
of the thousand crap things I didn’t want you to know about William the
Bloody Wanker.” He plucked a
french fry from her plate.
“Could be worse, I suppose.
You could be telling me you’d fallen in love with him.”
winced. “I could never—”
“Right. Beneath you, yeah?”
paused, uncertain of what he was getting at. “I told you, Spike. He wasn’t you.”
“Did you tell him you had one in the oven?”
tried to, but he wouldn’t let me.
He must’ve known. But
that was the day he didn’t come back.”
related the rest—meeting the Council, vampire William’s return, her
attempt on Angelus’ house.
Watched the emotions: sorrow, sadness, suspense, play over his
I burst into the room. The last
thing I saw before I got yanked back, was Drusilla singing and banging on the
piano while you were dangling from the chandelier hook in the ceiling. I found this deeply disturbing.”
I remember that night, actually.”
A smile flitted over his lips.
“Well, that was Angelus’ game. He an’ Darla liked to take it in turns to whip pretty
patterns into my pretty white flesh.”
didn’t seem to mind.”
tell the truth, I did, an’ I didn’t. We’re a perverse an’ exotic race,
I know it.”
Maybe it was that phrase, pretty
patterns into my pretty white flesh, or maybe it was the words ‘perverse and
exotic,’ but all at once Buffy’s whole body was shimmering. She propelled herself out of the booth,
left a twenty on the table, and started for the exit. He was after her a half-beat later, following without
question as she plunged out into the parking lot and headed, not back to his
car, but across a concrete divider and into the lot of the motel next
door. He waited, smoking, while
she went into the office to engage a room, and when they reached its door he
tossed his cigarette without even pausing for a last drag.
Inside, she shoved him hard,
toppled him onto the bed, and leapt to straddle him. A few moments of wordless wriggling, tugging, pushing, and
she had what she most immediately wanted; his cock inside her and his tongue in
her mouth, both surging up from below.
She groaned, her mouth stretched open on his, moving in short grinding
thrusts that he bucked up to meet.
She bore down on him inside so hard she thought she could feel every
contour of his prick, the bulging vein, the flaring head, the maddening curve,
as if her cunt was a hand. Her first orgasm came quickly, short and sharp,
jerking a gasp out of her; like hitting an unseen pot-hole when you’re
doing forty. She just kept on. Months she’d missed this, needed
him, didn’t know if she’d ever find her way back—now she set
out to re-mark her territory.
Yanked up his shirt and attacked his nipples, one in her fingers, the
other in her mouth, gnawing, twisting, making them swollen and almost pink
enough to seem alive. His arms needed her scratches, his neck her bite
marks. She bestowed them. Spike began a low chant, awfuckyeahlikethatgodlovedoitfuckfuckfuckfuck, his squeezing hands moving from
her hips, to her arms, and up under her shirt. She let go of him long enough to yank off her top and
bra. Her breasts were still tender
but now she wanted his mauling; dipped them one by one into his eager
mouth. She came again, barely
breaking the rhythm of her undulations—“Stay hard for me Spike,
keep it going—” her hands in his hair now, mouth on his, sucking at
each other’s tongues as if extracting secrets each from each.
Amazing to think that from such
source material as William Grieves, this beautiful dangerous entrancing
creature was made. Buffy rose up a
little to look at him, put her hand to his ivory forehead, to his sharp cheek,
and then his mouth. He bit at her
fingers, and grinned.
“That’s my girl,” he gasped. “That’s it—that’s it—oh my
queen, you’ve come back to me—”
He surged then, and she let him
tumble her over, dug her heels into the mattress to meet him, keep him. Then he lifted one of her legs to his
shoulder so they were wedged together even tighter, and this was good. Short, hard, pummeling thrusts that
made them both grunt. Clutching
and scratching at his back. He
buried his face in her neck, and she could feel it when the ridges sprang
forth; the new bulge in the mouth pressed against her throat. Shit, she loved it when he vamped out
this way, his immersion in her body, her sex, her scent so complete that he
lost control of the line between man and demon.
She’s long questioned
whether it was the man or the demon who loved her, whom she loved.
After living with William
Grieves, she knew.
vampire’s open mouth formed such a seal on her skin her whole neck would
be bruised in the morning. It
pumped together in perfect rhythm.
“It’s all right,
Spike. Taste me—do it.”
The fangs broke the skin
then—a small, delicate incision, almost polite, yet it tipped her into
the shuddering inexorable climax, her body rippling as he sucked and
swallowed. She felt, in the whole
length of his body grappled against hers, his ecstasy at receiving her blood,
how it moved him. Grabbing her hips,
he shoved into her and came, the pent up spunk flooding her in waves, so she
could feel it running out again, soaking them both.
Afterwards he lay on top of her,
slowly licking at the punctures in her neck, his softening cock still inside
her. He was heavy but she wanted
that, wanted to feel him crushing her, as she kept her arms drawn tight around
else could satisfy her the way he did?
Bite me drink me fuck me love
“Here they are, where they
belong,” she murmured in a sing-songy voice. “The big bad vampire and his Slayer mistress. The Slayer and her demon lover.” His hair was curling a little at the
forehead. She combed it back with
her fingers. “In a little
while they’ll rise from their bed of perverse exotic passion, and go out
and kill things in a perverse, exotic way.”
“Not you. Not for a bit. Won’t risk you.”
“Spike. We can’t do this.”
“We just did. Little while, I get my strength back,
we’ll do it again. Need to
fuck you all night. Lost time to
make up for.”
“Yes, but that’s not
“Pet, I know.”
They were quiet. Buffy pressed a kiss to his breast,
where her cheek rested. Now she
was in his arms again, she couldn’t bring herself to care too much about
what she’d seen in that other place. Which might mean that she was rotten inside, that being with
him had ruined her. If so, it was
too late to go back on it, to change.
She needed Spike, she loved him, it wasn’t for her to decide
anymore not to.
want to tell you because I knew you’d say to get rid of it. And a little part of me—the silly
girly stupid part—didn’t want to hear you say it.”
“Have I said it?”
“Spike . . . Oh God. I can’t have this baby. You know that. I’m not . . . we are not in the life-giving business. We deal in death, both of
us.” As she said the words
she felt their truth: that’s what she’d been Chosen for. Standing against the Forces of Darkness
was not compatible with motherhood.
She’d asked Giles if there was any record in the chronicles of a
slayer who’d borne a child, and once he’d made some discreet
inquiries with a contact back in England, he’d told her the answer was
no. When pressed, he admitted
records of two who’d been killed while pregnant, and a third whose infant
was taken by demons, who died shortly after in an attempt at vengeance.
So: slaying and childbearing, not
Spike said nothing, just went on
making a pillow for her with his body.
A circle to hold her, his hands clasped around her shoulder.
“It’s only . . .
ending it, it’s not just ending one pregnancy. I could get pregnant again, maybe, some time in the
future. But this is the only child
ever have. We could ever have
together.” She paused. “That’s why I
couldn’t go through with it and not tell you. I tried to, but I couldn’t.”
“I always knew, even when I
pretended it wasn’t so, that there’d be nothing of that for
me. Cecily wouldn’t have me,
no one would have me, and I was down for an early death one way or the
sorry. William was . . . I could
see he was a good man. His
instincts were kind.”
“Kind? Bollocks. I was an utter twat.
Can’t hardly bear to think of me, sometimes, I was so wet. The best day of my life was the day I
died. My darling princess rescued
me. Nothing was ever dreary or
stale or mediocre for me again after that. I don’t want your pity, Slayer.”
“I know. It’s not you I pity. I used to wonder how much of you was
William and how much was Spike. I
liked to think I cared for you in spite of—”
“Right. You know better now.”
“ . . . um, yeah.”
“Didn’t learn to live
until I was dead.”
“Y’know . . . having
a child, passing on your genes . . . makes you a little less dead than you are,
“Maybe so, petal, but
it’s also tendin’ to make you a little more dead than I’d like you to
be. Slayer’s too vulnerable
with a sprog. You’re
distracted. An’ baby’s
a gruesome kidnapping waiting to happen, is all. Sad but true.”
“I know, I know. That’s what I’ve been
saying all along. And . . . being
honest here for a change . . . you know I love you, right?”
“Ah . . . yeah?”
“But . . . thing is . . . I
love you in this sort of, me Slayer, you Vampire, we fight crime sort of
way. Not a ‘let’s take
the kid and ten of her tiny pals to Chuck E Cheese for her third
birthday’ sort of a way. I really can’t see us doing any of
that stuff.” She
paused. “I can’t see me doing it. Not to mention that you’d be a
“Terrible? I’d adore that kid
“I know. Maybe not
go out in the sunshine.
That’s kind of a problem with a kid. The whole evil dead thing, really, is a situation. I wouldn’t wish that on a
child. Plus, you’re kind of
impulsive. And you have to admit,
you’re not really rock-solid on the whole right from wrong issue. Which I can deal with when it’s
just us, but . . . .”
His hand came up and stroked her
hair. “Be bloody
good-lookin’, though, our boy.
Or, better yet, girl.”
Something in her chest flared, as
if she’d been pierced by a red-hot arrow. “Would you like a girl?”
“Another stunning Summers
female to slay me right an’ left?
Her eyes closed tight, she could feel
that child in
her arms, at her breast. Looking
up at her out of Spike’s blue eyes.
Dainty and pretty like Dawn had been, wrapped in her yellow blanket. Buffy could smell that milky scent that
would come off the top of her head, could feel the small hand clutch at her
finger, at her breast. The little
mouth on her nipple. All that
warmth, cleaving to her, needing her.
Needing the non-punchy-kicky-snarky part of her. The part that was full of love.
Their miraculous baby could make
her ordeal in that other place mean something. Make her passionate connection to an undead vampire into
something more than the animal instinct to hunt and fuck and huddle together
No. This is what hormones did to you. It was the Darwinian thing. They fucked with your head so you’d reproduce like a
good little member of your species, never mind whether it was the world’s
worst idea ever.
She grasped Spike’s hand
and brought it to her belly.
“You can feel its
heartbeat, can’t you?” she whispered. “Lover, feel it.”
“I feel it all the time
I’m touching you. But
yeah. There it is.”
He fanned his fingers across her
stomach, and she laid her hand over his.
William Grieves, who may or may
not have been a kind man or a pathetic fool, was the intercessor that gave her
this precious impossible thing, a dead man’s child, which she loved now
with a wild, hilarious, desperate love.
“What shall we call her,
“Suddenly we’re both
so sure it’s a girl. We
won’t know . . .” Until they’ve yanked it out of me.
“I think it is.” Spike laid his ear against her
stomach. “Her heartbeat has
a feminine sort of something to it.”
can’t really hear—“
pressed a kiss to her navel.
“She’ll be beautiful like her mum and smart like her
whapped him. “Try the other
not blonde. Funny that. An’ she’ll be a right
little tyrant, make me do anything she says just by giving me that Summers girl
eye . . . but she’ll be sweet an’ sympathetic like her granny,
“Fuck.” She lifted her head.
“We can’t have this conversation, Spike. We can’t just drift along on the Wide Endorphin Sea
into making this real. I need to
reschedule the appointment. I need
to have an abortion.”
He was silent for a long beat,
while she held her breath.
“Yeah. Yeah, Slayer, you really
do.” He pressed one more
kiss to her navel. “But
thanks, pet. Thanks for wanting
the baby because it’s ours.”
heart seized up for a second, then took two beats in the space of one. She gasped and tightened her fingers in
her signal as a bid for a different attention, Spike shifted, threading his
fingers into the curls on her mons, tugging on it gently, then lowering his
head to feather his tongue against her clit.
sighed and spread her thighs wider.
She was ready for more—for as much of him as she could get that
night. There was no chance
she’d sleep anyway.
her sense that tonight was one of last things—perhaps more last things
than she’d even planned on—made her greedy. Not just because there’d be a
period of enforced celibacy after the abortion. But because she feared they might never be like this again,
their emotions and ideas so synched.
This was their one night to imagine their child, their lives with their
child, as something still in potential, something yet possible. Their one night to celebrate before the
numberless ones of hindsight and consolation.
it wouldn’t work. Maybe
after this, nothing would ever be right between them again. They’d lose one another, perhaps
even be mortal enemies once more.
Or maybe the next Big Bad, the
thing that would be more frightening, more deadly than Glory, might be just
around the corner, and the pain they felt now would seem like a sweetness they
could only miss.
She came quickly beneath his
mouth. He climbed her body,
pausing to cover her swollen breasts with cool kisses, and arrived at last at
Keeping her gaze fixed on his,
she reached between them and took his erection in her fingers; rubbed the
velvety tip of his cock against her clit, and watched his eyes soften, his lips
part as he began to pant.
“That’s it pet,
please yourself, you’re so beautiful when you do that . . . .”
She slid easily into another
orgasm, the pleasure making her shiver and stretch; he waited for the right
moment in the shifting current of her climax to slip inside her, to catch it as
it rippled into nothing and start it building again.
They moved together with soft
liquid motions, almost frictionless, and looked into each other’s eyes as
if their gazes were a single reflecting pool.
“This is so good,
Spike,” she murmured.
“I never want to forget this. This moment right now.
We’re all here, none of us has gone yet.”
Spike couldn’t quite think
why he was so slowed up by all this.
Something he’d not coveted or imagined was being taken away from
him while it was still just an idea, and a bad idea at that. No—not taken away. Pushed away. She’d consulted him; they’d decided.
he felt worse about it, more hopeless and bereft, than he had when the news
came home of Jem’s accident . . . when Drusilla dumped him . . . when
Buffy didn’t get up and walk away from her swandive off Glory’s
bitch was contemplating the loss of a love he’d never even met. And he wanted it more fervently than
any he’d had before.
looked at Buffy, sated and momentarily slack on the pillow beside him. She was staring into space, her pretty
mouth fixed in a dreamy grin. Her
teeth and eye whites gleamed in the flickering light.
Nothing, no one, was more
important than she was. He was
sure of that. The decision
they’d made, he’d endorsed for just that reason. She had a job to do, and he’d
made it his
job to help her do it. Anything
that pulled their concentration from that, that put them off their game, was a
liability that could be fatal.
Simple. Cut. Dried.
that understanding, that determined belief . . . did nothing to make any less
sore the place inside himself where a more infinite future had opened out and
been promptly seared into ash.
. . so you all need to know about this, because I’m going to be
recovering for a couple of days, and . . . and mourning for longer than
that. We both will. We wish we didn’t have to do
this, but we’ve talked it over, and . . . it’s what we’re
doing.” She glanced at
Spike, who was sitting beside her, her hand wrapped in both of his. “I couldn’t keep this from
you guys. And . . . and I
didn’t want to, because I love you all.”
turned now to the faces of her friends arrayed around the dining room
table. Dawn looked simply stunned,
as if she didn’t quite understand what she’d been told. Anya had an expression that looked
curiously like envy. Of what? Surely not of the anticipation of
terrible absence she was feeling now.
Perhaps merely of the pregnancy?
Xander was blinking, pale, on the edge of saying something he
didn’t know how to say.
Giles just looked grim.
um . . . I’m going in tomorrow morning, and they’ll be able to do
it all in one go, but I’ll be there most of the day, and then have to
rest a couple of days. Although,
slayer strength, probably will get over it faster than most women. I mean, not get over it get over it, but the physical
her other side Tara sat, majestic and gentle-faced. Buffy met her eyes, and drank in her reassuring smile.
sudden burst from Dawn.
“But—but—but—how can you just make it go away? Your baby!
Your baby with Spike! We can make
it work! We could
froze. Since last night, when
they’d made their decision, she’d argued this out with Spike,
whether to clue Dawn in now, with the rest of them, as he wanted to, or keep it
from her until it was a fait accompli.
Because she’d known her sister would react this way, this way that
was dangerously like how she herself wanted to react, furiously making absurd
precarious essentially unworkable plans for how she could have the child after all, and
still protect the world from the forces of evil.
there was just no way. Her life as
the Slayer might be a collaborative Scooby gang production, but expecting them
all to commit years of theirs to helping her raise a child she was singularly
ill equipped to deal with—that was a non-starter. Expecting the delicate balance of her
affair with Spike to survive that real-world test of his many
Easier to imagine that she’d soon came to resent—even
hate—him, than that he’d ever be capable of partnering her that
way. And apart from
just really wasn’t ready for this.
Playing mommy to Dawn, to the extent she managed that, was difficult
enough, and she knew she wasn’t good at it. A helpless infant needing constant care and attention . . .
was a nightmare. There were just
some situations in which even love doesn’t find a way.
agreed: the best way to cherish this creature they’d inadvertently made
together, was to let it go.
gestured. She glanced up, and saw
he was looking at Spike, his face set and serious.
man. I’m so . . .
can’t believe I’d ever say this to you . . . but I’m so
sorry. I really am.”
still can’t believe it.”
Dawn dunked a cookie into her glass of milk and gave Giles a cheerless
glance. “I just don’t
see how she could do something like this.”
course it’s sad, Dawn. No
one feels that more than your sister does. But she has practical, well-thought-out reasons for the
decision she’s made. That
they’ve both made. Your
sister has unique responsibilities; she’s not free as other people are to
follow her inclinations. I hope
you won’t make her feel worse by going about with a long face.”
pulled herself up from her slump.
“Give me some credit, Giles!”
was after three-thirty in the afternoon; she’d just come in from
school. By Giles’
estimation, Buffy must be in the clinic recovery room by now, the procedure
concluded. Tara had told him
before the three of them left that morning that it was one of her nights to
cook, and she’d fix dinner when she returned, although no one expected
that Spike and Buffy would sit down to it. Spike would help put Buffy to bed, and maybe bring her
up something on a tray, if she could eat at all. She’d probably be pretty
nauseated that night from the anesthesia.
“Of course I give you
credit,” Giles said.
“You have a great deal of fine feeling. I just don’t . . . don’t want anything to
inadvertently make Buffy feel worse.”
“I know, I know. I just think we could’ve made it
work. I’d love to be an aunt. I would so not mind babysitting. Neither would Tara. And—”
“There’s a little bit
more to actually having a child in the house than babysitting,” Giles
“How do you know? Have you ever had a child?”
“Well . . . no. But they are a great responsibility. A great drain on time and energy. Emotional energy as well as
physical. Buffy has a special
destiny, a unique calling.
She’s quite right to understand that motherhood would place a
crippling burden on—”
“Yeah,” Dawn cut in,
reaching for another cookie, “but you know—all kinds of wacked-out
people have kids, and somehow or other, those kids grow up. This is such a missed opportunity. That’s what’s so sad about it. She and Spike love each other so much, and they’re passing
up of their one and only chance to have a baby together.”
Giles let out a sigh. “At your age, everything does
seem very rosy and romantic. But
you must see that—”
The front door opened. Tara came in.
Giles turned to her. “You’re back earlier than
I— Does Spike need help bringing
“Are they here?” Tara
“Who? Anya and Xander?”
“No. Buffy and Spike.”
Giles and Dawn blinked at each
other. “Nooooo . . .” Dawn said. “They were with you. I mean, you were with them. Right?”
“We all went to the clinic
this morning, but they wouldn’t let us actually go in with Buffy, and it
was going to take hours, so I arranged to come back later, and went to my
classes. Spike was going to stay
there in the waiting room. But
when I got there a little while ago, the receptionist said they’d
“She didn’t know, she
was the evening shift and she’d just come in.”
moonlight cast a silver trail on the water, and made the silver rings on
Spike’s fingers seem to glow.
Buffy didn’t know why that caught her eye so, why she was staring
at his hand on the boardwalk railing as if it was a strange new thing. Her eyes still stung from all the
crying she’d done that day, yet it was as if they’d been freshly
washed; everything she looked at was vivid and detailed and beautiful. The beach stretched away from them on
either side like another band of silver.
leaned into him. “You have
to swear to me, Spike. On your
honor. I know you have a sense of
honor, even though you don’t always choose to use it.”
smiled down at her, and moved the long tendril of brown hair off her face. The wind whipped it back, until he
turned her out of its way.
“What am I swearin’ to, Slayer?”
you’re not going to teach her to be dishonest, or selfish, or antisocial,
or to cheat, or hurt people, or stand by when people are being hurt,
a mixed couple, yeah—I’m a monster, an’ you’re a
human. But we’re not
bringing the kid up monster. Got it.”
serious. You need to be on board
with this. You can’t be
evil, or amoral, or even just naughty, and be around my daughter.”
daughter. My queen, you have my
want the good
one. The—what was it you
said that time? Your word as an
“Yeah. That’s the one you’ve
got. May not always be easy for
me, but I’ll never stop trying.” He tipped her chin up to kiss her. “Are you crying again? Where d’you find the tears, Slayer?”
human body is something like 98% water.
I learned that one fact in fourth grade and have clung to it ever
better call the house. We ran away
from the clinic, and now we’re running away from home, too. They’ll be worrying.”
“You do it. I’m all—I don’t think
I can talk.” She handed him
the cell phone from her pocket, and when he flipped it open, she stepped away
from him, moving slowly down the boardwalk. She didn’t think she could even bear to listen to him
give the news; another drop of happiness, or fear, and she might shatter.
She was already wrung-out. Going into the clinic that morning on
his arm, she’d felt light-headed, her pulse thready. Saying goodbye to him in the
waiting room with the feeling that she’d never see him again, or at least
not as he was in that moment, somber and quiet, not wanting to let go of her
hand when the nurse called her in.
He’d kissed her palm before letting it go.
They’d done an ultrasound,
looking for anything that might make the procedure out of the ordinary. It was at that point, wondering what
the nurse was seeing on the monitor, that she began to cry, the trouble gusting
through her in trembling blasts.
The nurse was kind, offered to give her a little reprieve to get herself
together. Even offered to sneak
her boyfriend in for a few moments if she wanted to see him once more. But Buffy couldn’t stop crying,
couldn’t move her mind past its animal fixation on what it wanted.
“I can’t, I
can’t, I can’t, I can’t—“ She’d torn off the hospital gown,
yanked her clothes back on, and nearly flattened the nurse in her race to
Then Spike was there, a black
pillar in the white fluorescence of the waiting room, catching at her shoulders
as she tried to fling herself at the clinic door. Even he didn’t matter to her in that moment—she
just wanted out.
The window at the end of the
building corridor flooded it now with light. She was halfway down before she turned and saw Spike,
trapped in the doorway, looking after her.
“Where are you going,
her. She’s mine. You don’t have to have anything
to do with it, but I’m not going to destroy her.”
Spike glanced at the sunny
window, and at her, then dragged the collar of his duster up and made a run for
it. She heard him sizzle before he
out-dashed the light and they tumbled together into the stairwell.
In the parking garage, they had
Somehow she’d imagined
Spike would be as sure as she was about keeping the child.
In fact, he’d raved at her
that she was crazy, that the hormones had so addled her that she’d lost
her already tenuous sense of self-preservation.
“The demon world gets a
whiff of the news that slayer’s got a bun in the oven, every big
an’ little nasty on the hellmouth’s gonna be beating a path to your
door. Really don’t feature fighting off drooling
hoards of ravenous beasties just to lose you again.”
“Then don’t. I’ll fight them off
“You and what army?”
“Y’know, I managed
just fine for years without you, Spike!
Slaying was a solo gig that I handled very well, thank you!”
“Very scary you are right
now, pet. Tears coursing
down—runny make-up’s good as war-paint. I’m quaking.
Add a belly out to there in a couple of months, and nothing’ll
dare cross you.”
She’d hit him then, to
prove she could, knocked him ten feet into a concrete stanchion, and then dared
him to get up and defend himself.
He’d had the sense to stay
“If you really loved
wouldn’t want to kill her!
Why can’t you see that!”
“Buffy. Jesus Christ.”
He’d gotten to his feet slowly, still wary that she might dash at
him with a kick or a punch.
She’d been ready to—her whole body was alight and trembling
with a protective rage she hadn’t felt since Giles suggested disposing of
Dawn to save the world.
“’Course I love the
kid. ‘Cause she’s yours. An’ I love everything that’s yours. But I love you more. Most. Can’t help that.
You’re the one I’ve fought to win. I’m ready to sacrifice the other to keep you
“Well, I’m not. No more death wish, Spike! I’m gonna have my baby and stay
alive, too. So, if you’re
“Yeah, Slayer, I am scared.”
That admission, his unstudied
expression, startled her as much as a slap. When he came close to her, she just looked up into his face.
“Didn’t I tell you
how chuffed I was—how proud, an’ thrilled an’ all? Ending it, it tears me up, it
does. But it’ll tear me up
far worse if you get yourself killed because of her . . .”
“Spike, I might get killed
any moment anyway.”
“I know, precious. But I’ve seen you die once
already, an’ it nearly made me mental . . . .” He’d smiled then, a tight rueful
smile. “I’m not so
strong as you, I guess. Not so
“I am strong, Spike.”
“And so are you.”
“. . . yeah.”
She gave him a cock-eyed
glance. “Hmm, I think I know
what this is really about for you.
It’s not that I might be less of a slayer. You don’t want to share me
with anyone, even your own child.
You’re envisioning the end of your sumptuous sex life.”
“Well . . . a
bit.” He frowned. “When you told me about this, you
were sure you didn’t want it.
The first thing you said was that you didn’t want a baby—at
your age, in your circumstances.”
“Um . . . yeah.”
He took her shoulders in his
hands. The pleading in his eyes
half-blinded her; despite his words, she wasn’t sure what he was pleading for. “Don’t have it just to
oblige me, or my genes, or whatever it is that’s making you feel all
put-upon. You don’t owe me
anything like that, Buffy. William
Grieves wasn’t anybody so special he needed to spawn a dynasty.”
She had to laugh. “I’m not spawning anything. I’m—“
“I told you—I never
envisioned such a thing. I
don’t miss it. It’s
you I want. You, for as long as I
can have you.”
“I know Spiky. But . . . how long do you think
that’s gonna be? I like
thinking you’d have our girl to keep company with after I’m gone.”
could look at the other then; she leaned her forehead against his chest,
staring down at the glittering cement floor, and heard him sniff.
But he went on as if she
“An’ I know you like to think you can be a woman like other
“But I’m the
Slayer. The slayer who does it
with vampires. Who falls
hopelessly in love with the very . . . worst . . . ones.”
“Yeah. Big Bad here, all soulless and
She looked at him.
“Look, I can just barely
manage to behave myself for you. But
I’m not good, Buffy.
You’re right to be worried about me being a bad influence. I’m wicked and short-sighted and
. . . not a man. Not human. The last thing who should have
anything to do with an impressionable mind.”
“I trusted you with my
sister, and you did right by—”
“Yeah, I kept her in one
piece. But I didn’t keep her
from findin’ out she was the key, or trying to resurrect your mum,
or— I went along with her,
‘cause I was bored and wanted a bit of fun. Don’t think things through, that’s my
She pushed away from him, leaned
on the car, looked up at the shadowed ceiling. Everything Spike said made perfect sense. She agreed. If she’d had the choice to make beforehand,
she’d never have opted to make offspring with Spike. But she also felt, in every corpuscle,
the impossibility of giving up her child.
She could think and reason all she liked, but a lower, instinctual part
of her brain had somehow taken over, and would not budge.
“You never envisioned
this. I never envisioned this. But it happened. Maybe there’s a reason. I really don’t feel good about
“Yeah, I’m getting
“Spike, if our love makes
any sense at all—which some days I doubt—but if it does. Then we can do this. We will do this. At any event, I’m doing it, and I
want you to help me. But
it’ll happen whether you help me or not.”
She’d known he
wouldn’t resist her any more after that. One of the cardinal things about him was his inability to
hold out against his woman.
Knowing this could come in handy.
When she put her arms around his neck and drew his head down to rest
against her brow, he sighed.
“Now say yes my queen, and kiss me.”
rest of the afternoon had dissolved in a solution of more kisses, more tears,
heated discussion about ways and means, although no more big disagreement. They’d driven around in the
darkened car, Buffy hugged up against him like they were two teenagers cruising
in Daddy’s T-Bird, and returned to the same booth at the same restaurant
they’d visited the day before (“we’ll have to take her here
some time so she can see it,” Buffy said).
a stubborn bitch,” Spike remarked, once they were all talked out. He leaned back into the corner of the
booth and drained his second bottle of beer.
vicar said I was ‘woefully unrepentant.’”
“What! You saw Mr Chiltern?”
Chiltern saw me. He wanted to send me to Tasmania for my
sins.” She giggled. “He could tell just by looking at
me that I was a shameless hussy who’d seduce his good virginal
stared at her with his mouth open.
Then a look of disgust passed over his face. “God I hated that self-righteous bastard.”
you kill him?”
grinned suddenly. “I think
you’d like me to say I did.”
threw up again before they left the restaurant, but she was already starting to
feel like this was just part of the package. The antibiotics had to be doing it. She’d tested positive for TB,
although she had no symptoms, and had to take the six-month course of meds.
In the evening Spike drove them
here, to the beach.
They weren’t alone; a fair
few people in couples and little groups were strolling up and down the
boardwalk in the moonlight, enjoying the mild salty air. Buffy looked at the children who passed
with a sort of demented eagerness—would hers be like that one—or
that one—or that one—?
She glanced back at Spike, whose
back was to her now as he spoke on the phone, the breeze tugging at the hem of
his leather. A vampire. A vampire, out at night, mixing
unsuspected with the crowd, aware of every smell and pulse and gesture of the
people passing by him, the scent of their blood tormenting his appetite.
That’s what he was.
Lest she forget, he’d just
reminded her. Don’t trust
me. I’m a demon, and
I’m weak, and my love for you isn’t going to be enough.
Her cheeks felt hot; she pressed
her hand to her belly. Oh God, what am I doing? What am I going to do to this innocent creature?
Dawn screamed, and galloped from
the kitchen into the living room.
“That was Spike!
They’re keeping it!
They’re keeping it! They’re keeping it!” She threw herself at each of them in
turn, hugging, squealing, knocking Giles’ glasses off, until Xander
grabbed and planted her on the sofa between him and Anya.
“What did he say? Where are they?”
“They’re down at
Point Lookout. I don’t know
why. But he said Buffy’s
gonna have the baby and he sounded really happy and he said we should get Tara
to put some protective wards on the house because stuff might come after her,
but he didn’t care because they wanted the baby, and he’s gonna
take over the slayage for a while, and they got a room by the beach and
won’t be back until tomorrow night.”
The adults looked at one
another. No one reacted.
Dawn stamped a foot.
“Guys! Baby! This is so great!”
Giles sat forward in his chair,
blinking, not looking at any of them.
The rest focused on him, waiting to hear what he’d say. Even Dawn was silent.
Giles got up. “It is . . . it’s
extraordinary—I shall make some phone calls.”
It never had occurred to her that
vampires could swim.
she’d seen Angel jump off a wharf when it was a question of life or
death. But she couldn’t
imagine him doing what Spike was doing now: running naked through the surf to
dive into the heart of an oncoming wave.
The full moon made a path on the water; for a long minute it went
unbroken; then Spike’s head crested the shimmering surface, and he
skimmed further out before turning and waving at her.
cold!” she called.
“Bracing!” He dove again, and disappeared so long
that she began to feel anxious, until she remembered that vampires
couldn’t drown. When he
reappeared, he was far off to her right.
The moonlight made his hair and face and shoulders glow. Buffy let her clothes drop onto the sand
beside his and charged into the water, gasping at the first shock of it. She plunged through the oncoming waves
out beyond the line of surf, where he waited for her.
she was within a couple of yards of him, he disappeared again beneath the
water; in a moment she was grabbed from beneath, hands on her thighs pulling
her upright. He swam between her legs, was gone before she could catch at him,
leaving her to tread water.
She threw her head back and was immediately captivated by the vast
expanse of stars above, far more than she’d ever remembered seeing from
any graveyard she’d gazed up from; when Spike came up, any second now,
she’d point them out to him. Then
the water stirred around her again, and something both hard and yielding
pressed against her belly. She
knew it for his mouth in the second it sealed on her clit. His hands held her thighs, and there
was no need anymore to scissor her legs in the water; he buoyed her up. She let herself just float, hair and
arms spread out, the water lapping and sucking against the edges of her face
and breasts as he lapped and sucked at her beneath. She thought she could feel the vibration of him laughing as
he did it; his fingers squeezing her as if in commentary: isn’t this
amazing? He loved to show off for her.
amazing. She stared up at the
star-dotted sky, taking deep lungfuls of salty air as she stirred her arms
slowly in the water that felt warm to her now, and let him happen to her the
way the wide sandy strand let the ocean happen to it. Boneless and amorphous, floating without resistance, losing
all track of the ripples and eddies of her pleasure.
just went on and on and on.
didn’t stop until she’d peeled his hands from her thighs and kicked
him away, unable to bear another moment of his tireless tongue. Surfacing at her side, he gathered her
against him. For a moment she was
half lifted above the surface, and the night air was cold on her dripping breasts
and arms. Their gazes locked, and
she drank in the worship in his eyes. A look she saw every day, but which still embarrassed
her even as it made her feel excited and imperious. She spread her thighs wide to receive him and threaded her
arms around his neck. Clinging
together, they rolled in the water; every half turn brought her under, and she
surfaced each time laughing and spluttering.
didn’t splutter, or gasp, or inhale. He just looked at her, and smiled his mysterious silent
“My turn now,” she
whispered, pulling his hands gently off her hips. “Feel what I can do.”
each other, not touching, she kept them from floating apart with nothing but
her clenching cunt muscles. Her
throbbing around his cock seemed to be echoed by the movement of the water that
buoyed them, as if the entire sea was part of their lovemaking. Spike closed his eyes and turned his
face up to the moonlight as if he could feel its warmth on his skin. Maybe, Buffy thought, tipping her own
face out of the water to breath harder and harder, he could.
Spike grabbed her abruptly;
rolled and thrust at her. The
force of his plunge took them both beneath the surface. Holding her breath, she felt his cock
jump inside her as he began to spend.
Clinging to him, she flipped him around, surged up to crest the surface
and take a long cold breath. He
stayed under, his face half-obscured by the bubbles pouring from his nose and
mouth. He was rigid for a long
moment; then shook himself and came to the surface, grinning.
“You just couldn’t
wait, could you, Spiky? I wanted
to draw it out of you slowly.”
“Impetuous, me,” he
agreed, swimming around her in a tight circle. “There’s not such another cunny as yours
anywhere. Would follow it to the
ends of the earth.”
“Now I’ll follow it
ashore. You’re looking a bit
“Ah, right. Slayer’s never that. Cold, then. Will you admit to being cold? Let’s go.”
had felt very naughty: checking into the nice little B&B off the beach,
without reservations or luggage, with her man who looked like some French film
star playing a futuristic thug.
Coming back to the frilly room
now, she threw herself into the shower, where Spike joined her, the hot needles
soon warming his skin almost to the temperature of her own. Standing behind her, he soaped
her hair, his fingers digging with delicious force into her scalp.
“Another proof what a
useless twat I was when I was alive—William Grieves had you in his bed
and didn’t appreciate you. Should’ve fallen in love with you, made you run off with him to
Italy.” He paused. “His lungs might’ve healed
there. Some people’s
did. You’d have been poor,
but picturesque, at any rate.”
This shocked her. She’d never heard him express any
wish to have his human life last any longer than it had. On the contrary, he’d asserted
over and over that there was nothing better than being a vampire, even reined
in by the chip.
Gently, she said, “Spike .
. . I prefer you like this.”
He tipped her head forward into
the water-stream, his fingers combing through her hair. “Do you really, Buffy? Wouldn’t want me to wake up human
some fine morning?”
She closed her eyes against the
water, and brought her hands up with his, shaking out the soap, then turned and
looked at him. “I
don’t need you to be human, Spike.
I need you to be what you are.
But I think you’ve got strength you don’t use—resolve
you don’t use—and I want you to use them. You know right from wrong.
I need you to choose right, for her. For me. I think
you can do it.”
“Buffy, you know I want
to. It’s just
She put her fingers on his
lips. The water ran down his face,
onto her hand. “I think you
can, Spike. I’m gonna count
Continued in PART TWO
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