DISCLAIMER: The characters are
Joss’, of course, and the chapter title comes from Shakespeare’s “Sonnet CXLIII.”
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Giles and Lydia have met in Sunnydale, while Buffy and Spike have reached a seeming truce regarding the baby and their future…
She slipped out some time in the night. It wasn’t a surprise; Spike had expected her to leave at some point, even as she’d agreed to just being held after her shower. Frankly, he was more than a little shocked Buffy had agreed to stay at all, but he’d been floating too high on the euphoria of the way she’d so deliberately given herself to him, the knowledge that she had every intention of keeping the baby even though it was his, to question it. Pulling on her clothes, she’d lain with him atop the blankets and almost immediately fallen asleep, and Spike had stayed up as long as he could just to watch her.
The entire experience was different from the memories he had of his time with her as a human. He’d been just as fascinated by watching her sleep then, too, he remembered, but now, being a vampire, Spike was far more greatly attuned to the rhythms of her body as she rested, soothed by the hypnotic beat of her pulse, warmed by the growing heat of her flesh. Upon climbing onto the bed, Buffy had automatically spooned back against him, and though his cock stirred back to life at the soft feel of her ass pressing around it, he was more driven by the way she pulled his arm around her waist, deliberately letting his hand come to rest on the flat of her abdomen.
They were having a baby.
His brain was still having difficulty wrapping itself around the concept.
During the time, they’d never worried about protection, not realizing until it was too late that Buffy’s body was on both planes at the same time. And Spike hadn’t been as aware as he should’ve been when he’d smelled the semen on the Slayer’s skin that first time he’d happened across her in the hotel room. Even after his memories had been returned, he hadn’t put two and two together to consider the possibility.
But now here it was.
He could feel it.
It was too early in the pregnancy for him to hear the baby’s heartbeat, though Spike suspected that if he pressed his ear to Buffy’s stomach, he might be able to manage it. But he could feel it beneath her skin, feel the tiny echoes it created as it breathed and moved and just was. This was his, more than anything else had ever been, and the depth of that rooted him beside the sleeping Slayer more firmly than his love for her did.
Of course, simmering on the surface of that was the indulgent I did that. Even he recognized the prideful boast of his inner voice.
And then there was Buffy. His golden girl. Willing to see the demon in spite of the man. Missing him.
Letting him love her.
When she hadn’t automatically staked him for killing the soldier boy, Spike knew he’d had a chance. She was bending her usual rule to allow him the opportunity to explain himself, and though he didn’t believe he’d done anything wrong, Spike was more than willing to accommodate her. She may not be willing to admit it, and there may be more than a bit for them to catch up on, but deep down, Buffy knew him better than anyone. He was ready to do whatever it took to make sure she remembered that.
He hadn’t wanted to fall asleep, but jet lag and a pervading sense of peace had finally won. He knew from the crack of light beneath his curtain that he hadn’t slept long, but it was enough time for Buffy to rise and make her escape. It hadn’t been for long. Her side of the bed was still warm.
Reaching for her pillow, Spike was about to bury his nose in its thin casing when the sheet of hotel stationery fluttered to the floor. He bent to pick up the folded piece of paper, and the knot that had formed in his gut at the realization she was gone eased as he read it.
Part of me wishes I had the guts to stick around long enough not to have to leave a note. Believe it or not, this is the third note I’ve started. Don’t believe me, just check the wastebasket.
Last night wasn’t what I expected, and I don’t just mean the whole pregnancy thing. I’m not saying it’s bad, because it wasn’t. It was good, very good. Great, even. But we both know it shouldn’t have happened so soon. I’m not blaming you; I wanted it just as much. But maybe, on your first night here, when there was so much for us to talk about, we should’ve done more of that instead. We could always talk, and even though I probably acted like Buffy the Vampire Slut last night by jumping you in the shower, I miss the talking part of what we had just as much. I told you; I miss my friend. You have no idea how glad I am that he’s back.
There are things I have to do today, but I’m hoping that I can see you tonight. I’ll be back at sunset. Want to help me patrol? I figure we can talk and kill things at the same time. That’s one kind of multi-tasking I’m actually really good at.
Thank you for just holding me while I slept. I’ve missed that, too.
PS: Try not to kill anybody else I know before I get back tonight. Ha ha.
In the way of morning after letters, it probably wasn’t the most uplifting, but Spike couldn’t help the smile that curled his lips as he rose and crossed to his bag on the chair. She’d said enough. More importantly, she’d done one thing in this letter that she hadn’t done for either of her two previous.
Tucking the note in with the two he already had safe in his stationery box, Spike pulled out the spare clothing he’d left in the bag. Might as well unpack. Buffy’d be around that night to continue where they’d left off, so he was staying at least another day. His cash wouldn’t hold up for too much longer, though, so he was going to have to get out at some point and nick some more. There was also the matter of blood to arrange. Perhaps he could talk Buffy into swinging by Willy’s after their patrol.
Unless they got otherwise occupied. That was a possibility, too.
He settled back in bed with a grin and a hard-on, his hand wrapping automatically around the rigid shaft and stroking in tandem with his thoughts. Yeah, shagging out at Restfield after a nice spot of violence. Ripping his way past her panties and plowing into her from behind before flipping her over and finishing the job. Then, back to the hotel where he could make love to her proper.
Spike’s eyes drifted shut with the images that played inside his head. He was looking forward to seeing her again that night; even if she didn’t realize it, they’d already taken a huge step forward in their relationship, and he didn’t mean the baby.
After all, Buffy had finally admitted to loving him. She’d said so in the sign-off of her letter. With that out of the way, anything was possible.
This was impossible. She was crazy to think this was a good idea.
Hesitating on the doorstep, Buffy’s fingers played with the crisp folds in the white bag she carried, staring at the doorknob as if it was going to leap off and beat her over the head if she dared to turn it. She had a class this morning; really, she should be back on campus getting ready for that. Of course, she shouldn’t have spent most of the night in Spike’s hotel room, either, but the moment she’d felt his arms wrap around her, the familiarity of the weight had lulled her into sleep, and she’d slipped into one of the soundest nights’ rest she’d had in weeks.
He’d been asleep when she woke before dawn, and she’d extricated herself from his embrace, only faltering once when his grip tightened momentarily around her waist. For a long minute, Buffy had been tempted to stay, but her mind was already made up about what she had to do, so she’d written her note---or three of them, depending on how she looked at it---and left.
Of course, that same mind was now trying to convince her that this wasn’t something that had to happen right away, that maybe she should just go to her classes and pretend nothing had changed until she was in a better place to talk about it.
She wasn’t so sure she was ever going to be in a better place.
Taking a deep breath, Buffy plastered a bright smile on her face and pushed the door open. “Mom!” she called out, stepping across the threshold to listen to the sounds inside.
“In the kitchen!”
She followed her mother’s voice to find her standing at the island, buttering a piece of toast. Joyce looked up when she entered, a questioning smile on her lips.
“Well, that looks too small to be laundry,” Joyce commented, gesturing toward the white bag in Buffy’s hand with her butter knife. “So you must be here for money instead.”
“What? I can’t just want to have breakfast with my mom?” She set the bag between them and leaned against the counter. “They’re still warm, even.”
Cautiously, Joyce peeked into the bag, all the while watchful of Buffy. “What’s the catch?”
“No catch. Crullers. See?”
“Don’t you have class this morning?”
“Later. I just thought we could catch up. We haven’t talked in a while. Aren’t you curious about how school is going?”
Joyce’s eyes narrowed, but she reached behind her to grab a second plate, doling out the crullers before pushing one closer to Buffy. “So, how is school going?”
“Good. I’ve even managed not to miss a class so far, though that’s partially the result of an unexpected fear factor. Turns out my psych prof makes Snyder look like Mr. Rogers.” Her fingers flitted around the edge of her plate, unable to settle. “Could we…go eat in the dining room? Sit down? I hear breakfast is supposed to be one of those civilized meals.”
She was having troubles meeting her mother’s gaze, but Buffy knew that her behavior was already garnering the wrong kind of attention she’d had in mind. Instead of waiting for the question to come, however, she picked up her plate and headed for the other room, hoping against hope that her mom would just follow.
Buffy was picking at the glazed sugar on the cruller when Joyce appeared in the entranceway.
“Now, I know something’s wrong,” Joyce said as she took the chair opposite. “As much as I love the idea that you’d just pop by to say hi to your lonely old mother, I’ve got this sneaky suspicion that there’s something on your mind. So, spill. What’s wrong?”
There was no easy way for her to say. As badly as Buffy wanted to just curl up in her mom’s lap and beg her to fix it, she knew that she was too far beyond that now.
Carefully, Buffy withdrew the wrinkled envelope she’d shoved into her purse upon leaving Spike’s hotel room. Not able to meet Joyce’s eyes, she set it on the table and pushed it toward the older woman. She chewed at her lip while her mother picked it up, her already roiling stomach spitting in protest even more at the added worry. She swallowed when Joyce pulled out the pregnancy test.
Time stopped. And then…
“Tell me you found this in Willow’s trash and she’s too afraid to talk to her own mother about it.”
Buffy shrank into herself. “It’s mine.”
Joyce’s nostrils flared. “How far along are you?”
“About eight weeks.”
“Eight…? This happened while you were in England?” Her voice was steadily rising in volume. “Does Rupert know about this?”
“No! You’re the first person I’ve told.” OK, so it was a lie, but no way was Buffy going to bring Spike into it at this stage of the game. And technically, it was true if she went on the theory that Spike was a demon, not a person. “I just took the test last night. I haven’t been feeling well and I just wanted to rule out---.”
“Is it that William who was writing you? Is he the father?”
Numb, Buffy nodded.
“I don’t believe this! What were you thinking, Buffy? London was supposed to be about getting over graduation, not jumping into the bed of the first cute boy you saw---.”
“It wasn’t like that!” It came out far too sharp, making both of them wince, and she took a deep breath as Joyce deliberately slid the white stick back across the table. “I wouldn’t do that,” she said again, this time more calmly. “Not after Angel. Trust me to have a little more sense than that, Mom. Please?”
Maybe it was the entreaty she added without even thinking that made her mother pause before speaking again. “Tell me at least that you didn’t fall for some line about him being sterile or something. I’d rather think you were forgetful, not foolish.”
Buffy held her tongue at that. There was no way to explain what had happened in England, though there was a strong likelihood that it would have to occur at some point. Preferably a point when the bulk of the fallout had settled. Instead, she said, “All we cared about was being there for each other. William…he helped me sort my head out. I didn’t mean for this to happen.”
“No, teenaged mothers rarely do.” Joyce sighed. “I know it’s a little early to ask this, but…have you decided what you’re going to do about it?”
Buffy swallowed. “I’m keeping it.”
The only reaction from her mother was a tightening around her mouth. “There are a lot of repercussions to that decision, you know. Babies are expensive, which means you’ll have to get a job. Very likely, you’ll have to cut back on your classes. And---.”
“I can’t have an abortion, Mom. I kill things every night. I can’t kill this. I can’t.”
Her eyes were shiny as she regarded her mother. She didn’t want to cry in front of her; she had to show that she was responsible enough to be making this kind of decision and sobbing like a little girl would only screw that up. But part of the reason she’d come to her mom first was because Buffy needed her support on this. She didn’t want to be alone.
Joyce’s hand settled over Buffy’s, and for the first time since the news had been broken, smiled softly. “I know,” she said. “But there’s always the possibility of adoption. You don’t have to---.”
“Yes, I do.” She took a deep breath. “I love him, Mom. I couldn’t hurt him that way by giving away his baby. And…I want it.” It was really the first time she’d uttered the desire out loud, but in that second, Buffy knew it to be true. She wanted this child. It might be her only chance to have one.
“When are you going to tell him?”
“Soon.” Another lie. She hated that she was so good at lying to her mother.
“How do you think he’s going to react? Is he going to help support the baby?”
“I think…yeah. He’s very…loyal in that way.” She’d almost said “responsible,” but that had been a word she attached to William, not Spike. She wasn’t sure yet if that was going to be applicable. “He’s going to definitely want to be a part of the baby’s life.”
“Well, that might be difficult if he lives in England.”
“Something tells me he might come to live in Sunnydale if he knew he had a child here.” Or might already be here.
Joyce’s smile faded slightly. “You don’t have to marry him for the baby’s sake, Buffy. You know that, right? Just because two people have a child together, doesn’t mean that they necessarily---.”
“This is the divorce talk, Mom. I can recite this one in my sleep. Bet you never guessed it would be a multi-purpose kind of talk, though, huh?”
It was a feeble joke, but it served to cut some of the tension, and both women relaxed as they lapsed into thought. Finally, Joyce said, “My baby’s having a baby. I’m going to be a grandmother.” She grimaced. “I’m too young to be a grandmother. I still read Cosmo.”
Buffy couldn’t help but laugh.
It was a start.
They talked for what felt like hours, and though there were moments where Buffy could sense her mother’s disappointment regarding the pregnancy, the older woman surprised her by mostly holding her tongue. Instead, she went straight into Mom mode, calling into the gallery so that she and Buffy could sit and discuss the entire situation in detail.
In great detail.
She even dragged out a notebook for Buffy to take notes about what she would have to do.
“I’ll get an appointment for you at Dr. Gray’s as soon as possible. I know you’re in great shape, but pregnancy’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax. Write that down.”
“Ball of wax?”
“Not funny, young lady.”
“I know you’ve already made up your mind, but I want you to know what you’re getting yourself into, Buffy. You should talk to some other girls who had a baby at such a young age and kept it. We’ll go down to Planned Parenthood. I’m sure there’s some sort of support group you can sign up for. Write that down.”
And then the one she was dreading…
“What about your slaying? I know it’s not something you can just pick up and drop on a whim, but there’s going to come a point where it’s going to be too dangerous for you to continue. I’m sure Rupert will agree with me.” Pause. “When are you going to tell him?”
Buffy sighed. “Do I have to? I can’t just wear baggy clothes and tell him it’s the newest fashion? It’s Giles. He won’t know any different.” She sagged under her mother’s knowing look. “I know, I know. I just…telling you was easy compared to what telling him is going to be like. I mean, is this something they teach in Watcher school? What if his head explodes?”
“It’s not going to explode,” Joyce reassured. “It might fizzle a little bit, but that’s just because he cares about what happens to you.”
“Maybe you can tell him,” she suggested with a wide smile. “Right after I get out of the state. I’m thinking Wisconsin. That’s pretty far away and they’ve got cheese.”
“You want to prove to me you’re responsible to have this baby? This is where you start. However…” She took a deep breath. “If you want me to be there when you tell him---.”
“Yes!” Buffy jumped at the offer. There were so many things that could go wrong, but maybe with a buffer… “Oh, god, yes!”
With a definitive nod, Joyce rose from her chair. “No time like the present then,” she announced.
“As in now.”
“How about, present as in after I go back to the dorm and change?” She was stalling. She really didn’t want to do this.
Joyce frowned. “Why would you change?”
She glanced down at her clothes. Crap. Her mom didn’t realize Buffy’d been wearing the same clothes the previous night.
“Did I say change? I meant, talk to Willow. So she can get any assignments I might miss when I miss class today.”
It sounded lame, and Joyce still looked skeptical. “Well, I’m only agreeing to this because I don’t want you to miss out on any of your schoolwork. After you talk to Willow, we’re going to straight to Rupert’s.”
She was just picking up her notebook from her desk when Willow heard a key turn in the lock, lifting her head just in time to see Buffy slip inside.
“Hey,” she said with a small smile. She tried not to notice that her friend was wearing the same clothes as yesterday and failed miserably. “I was wondering if you were going to show up in time to go to class.”
“I won’t be there,” came the reply. “Can I…talk to you for a sec?”
Willow frowned as she followed her to their beds, sitting on her own while Buffy perched on the edge of hers. Besides the clothes that were distinctly not fresh, Buffy’s cheeks were pale, her eyes dark with some unknown worry. She didn’t look tired, though, which meant that Willow’s suspicion about where she’d spent the night was most likely true.
When she’d woken up back in her dorm room and not in Restfield, Oz had told her what happened, including the detail about Spike showing up and killing Riley. Willow had felt a pang of sorrow at the loss of the young TA, but it had been squelched when she remembered that he was part of Buffy’s mysterious vigilante group, and that he’d just been about to take Oz away because he was a werewolf. That was the theory according to Oz and Spike, at least. And it made sense to her.
But when she’d lain awake until almost three o’clock, and Buffy still hadn’t showed up after leaving Oz at the cemetery, Willow had known she’d gone looking for Spike. She hadn’t really expected her to stay out all night, but considering how much history was between them, it wasn’t really a surprise. She figured now Buffy was going to tell her what had happened between them.
“I don’t know how to say this,” Buffy was saying.
“It’s OK,” Willow cut in. “I know. Oz told me.”
Buffy frowned. “How does Oz know?”
“He was there. He told you about Spike, remember?”
A moment of understanding flickered behind Buffy’s eyes, and she shook her head. “That’s not what I was…” She took a deep breath. “I saw him last night, though. Spike. He was at the Factory, and then, I kind of…spent the night with him. He’s got a room out at The Arms.”
“Yeah. I figured.”
“There’s more. He…when we…I went and…” She flopped back onto her mattress, her eyes closing. “God, I should just carry that damn stick around. It does all the talking for me.”
“Stick? You have a new weapon?”
Buffy laughed, a brittle sound that was far from cheerful. “That’s one way of putting it,” she said. Her eyes opened and she turned a bleak gaze toward Willow. “There’s a reason I haven’t been feeling very well lately, and apparently it took Spike and his bionic vampire hands to figure it out for me.”
“Buffy, I really don’t need to hear about your---.”
The two words hung between them, and Willow’s jaw dropped. OK, not what she was expecting to hear. When Buffy had said bionic vampire hands, Willow had immediately assumed it was some sexual thing that she was now feeling guilty about. But this…this was huge. Well, tiny. Her eyes flitted to Buffy’s flat stomach. Microscopic at this stage. She wasn’t even showing yet. In fact, she couldn’t be more than---.
“Oh my god, it’s Spike’s, isn’t it?”
Buffy bolted upward at that, suddenly come to life again. “It’s William’s,” she stressed. “It’s biologically impossible for vampires to reproduce.”
She sounded like she was quoting from one of Giles’ vampire books, but there was no way Willow was going to argue the semantics of it with her. “Maybe Spike is wrong, though,” she said instead. “If he just---oh. You said stick. You meant a pregnancy test, didn’t you?”
A nod. “I left it in the car. I didn’t even think---.”
“Mom’s. That’s why I’m going to miss class this morning. Mom’s coming along as moral support for when I tell Giles. And maybe a blockade in case he decides to kill me.”
“So…you told her?” Willow listened as Buffy relayed the events of the morning, and while she felt relief that Mrs. Summers hadn’t been as bitter about it as she could’ve been, it made her nervous that so much was still being unsaid.
“And if I don’t get back down there, she’s going to send out a search party.” Buffy rose to her feet, going to her closet and quickly changing out of her clothes and into jeans and a t-shirt, all the while babbling about the things Mrs. Summers was making her do about the baby. She didn’t let Willow get a word in edgewise, and it wasn’t until she was pulling her hair up into a ponytail that she even looked back at the bed.
“Please tell me you’re not disappointed in me.” Her eyes were slightly shiny, and Willow realized that Buffy was walking the edge of her nerves, desperately in search of someone to just accept what had happened without judging her morality for it.
“Of course I’m not.” Quickly, she crossed and gave Buffy a tight hug. “I just want you to be OK.”
“I am. I am.”
“But, Buffy…” She was frowning when her friend pulled away. “Do you think it’s right about not telling your mom the truth about the father? I mean, from everything that happened in England, and from what you’ve said, Spike could be a really good ally for you to have in all this. He loves you---.”
“I can’t. Not now. It’s too hard.” And the walls that had been around Buffy upon her arrival were back up, and she was pulling away, back to the door and off to what she considered the British firing squad. “You’ll get the assignment, right?”
Willow nodded, waving half-heartedly when Buffy shot her a quick smile and vanished out the exit. Before the door had even clicked shut, however, she was stepping across the floor and punching in the numbers on the telephone as she picked up the receiver.
“Oz?” she said when the other end of the line picked up. “I need you. And bring the van.”
She picked up the ringing phone without blinking an eye. “Dr. Walsh.”
“Are you out of your mind?”
The sound of his voice made her pen slip slightly across the page, and Maggie frowned at the downward curve on the C she’d been placing on the paper. “So good to hear from you, General Martin. I can’t imagine what could be so important that you’d break protocol and contact me here, though. It’s not a secure line, remember?”
“This couldn’t wait until you get back tonight. I have your requisition in front of me. You can’t think that I’m going to approve this!”
“I don’t think you have much of a choice. Finn was killed in the line of duty last night and I require a replacement for him.”
“I understand that. What I don’t understand is why you require a civilian to fill that role.”
She wasn’t going to get any more grading done until this conversation was over. Setting down her pen, Maggie held in her sigh as she leaned back in her chair. “I need someone I can trust.”
“Which means you recruit from within the ranks.”
“Excuse me for saying so, sir, but the fact that Finn was taken out speaks a lot for the danger of the situation. I need the best, and frankly, that’s who I asked for. His credentials are impeccable and his training has been topnotch. He was one of the best students I ever had back East, and he brings knowledge to the table that nobody else within the Initiative has. I need this man.”
“He’s not military. He’s not one of us.”
“He is in spirit. Trust me, General. Have I ever let you down?”
There was no way he could argue with her on that point, and they both knew it. With a heavy sigh, he said, “I’m making a note in your file that this was done against my better discretion. And this civilian’s life will be your responsibility, Maggie. If something happens to him---.”
“Nothing will. He can take care of himself. Very well, I might add.”
She had a smile on her face when she replaced the phone on its cradle. She’d never doubted she would get what she wanted; this was her operation and General Martin knew better than to question her capability in fulfilling it. The loss of Riley might sting, but in the long run, it allowed her to pull in someone who was infinitely more qualified to accomplish what she needed.
Now she only had to wait until he arrived.
To be continued in Chapter 13: Truth Needs No Color…