DISCLAIMER: The characters are
Joss’, of course, and the chapter title comes from Shakespeare’s “Sonnet CI.”
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Buffy has told Joyce and Willow about the baby, and is on her way to Giles’ to break the news to him…
Buffy realized that the car must’ve been stopped for at least a minute before she actually noticed.
“It’s going to be OK,” Joyce said. She reached over and squeezed Buffy’s hand reassuringly. “Rupert will appreciate the honesty.”
She squeezed her eyes shut at the casual use of the word, Willow’s questions about how much Buffy had held back when she told her mom echoing inside her head. Was he going to figure out that Spike was the father? And if he did, would he say anything about it right away? Giles had kept mum on the subject around Xander---which was another mess of trouble she didn’t have the strength to deal with right now---so maybe he would adopt the same attitude with her mom. Buffy could only hope.
“We have life insurance, right?” she said, opening her eyes and offering a weak smile. “I’d hate to get killed and not having anything good from it.”
“Come on,” Joyce said. Unbuckling her seat belt, she picked up the bag with the pregnancy test and pressed it into Buffy’s hands. “Let’s get this over with. You’ll feel better when it’s done.”
I’ll feel better in Hawaii, Buffy thought wistfully as the pair of them headed for Giles’ apartment. Every step cemented the sensation that she was on her way to a firing squad, with each foot covered adding a fresh turn to her stomach, until by the time she was knocking on his door, it was all she could do not to vomit on his welcome mat.
She bolted as soon the door opened, knocking Giles back and out of the way as she ran for the bathroom with her hand covering her mouth. Two minutes later, her breakfast cruller was history and beads of sweat were cooling her brow. Whoever invented this part of pregnancy sucked, she thought as she rose and rinsed her mouth out in the sink. She regarded her wan reflection in the mirror. Whatever happened to pregnant women glowing?
The soft murmur of voices forced Buffy to adopt a bright smile as she headed back for the living room. “Hey, at least I haven’t lost my touch for a great entrance,” she joked as she entered the room. She froze almost immediately when, instead of the two adults she’d thought to find, she was confronted with four, all of them turning to look at her in expectation.
Joyce and Giles remained near the now-closed front door. Buffy’s eyes flickered over Wesley sitting on the couch; if she hadn’t seen him just the night before, she probably would’ve been a little more surprised about his presence. It was the fourth in the room that her gaze locked on, the blood in her veins firing as she noted the shorter hair, the familiar way she was helping herself to a fresh cup of tea from the service that was on the coffee table. Lydia looked like she didn’t have a care in the world, and all of a sudden, Buffy wanted to throttle her.
“Are you all right?”
The quiet concern in Giles’ voice was just enough to drag Buffy’s gaze away from Lydia, and she remembered the reason she was here in the first place. I can’t do this in front of them, she thought frantically, and her eyes flew to meet Joyce’s. There, she found the support that had been present almost since she’d told her mom, and knew that if she really wanted to, she could postpone this little talk for when things were more private. Her mom would understand.
“I’m fine,” she said, and raised a finger to point to Lydia. “What the hell is she doing here?”
Clearing his throat, Giles removed his glasses as he came back into the main room. “That’s rather a long story, Buffy,” he said, pulling a handkerchief from his pocket to begin polishing his lenses.
She rolled her eyes. Could he be any more obvious that he didn’t want to talk about this? “After what happened in England, I think that might be a story I need to hear,” she said.
“Who is this?” Joyce asked, stepping forward to Buffy’s side. “You know her?”
“I met her when we were in London. She’s a Watcher.”
“Ex, actually.” The smile Lydia gave her was surprisingly congenial. “Hello, Buffy.”
The sound of her first name made her eyes narrow. Lydia had never deigned to this form of familiarity before; why would she start now? Had Spike talked about her that much that it would breed such a false sense of intimacy? For some reason, that thought gave Buffy a warm shiver of satisfaction.
She also knew why the Watcher was here. Of course she would come to her local compatriots after Spike ditched her. Lydia wasn’t stupid. But if Buffy didn’t ask, they’d know that she’d already seen Spike and she just wasn’t ready to face the explanations that would entail just yet.
“You cut your hair,” Buffy commented. “It looked better longer.”
“Buffy Anne Summers!”
She shrank beneath the harshness of her mother’s tone. So, OK, it was catty to the Cordelia degree, but she couldn’t help it. Knowing how Lydia felt about Spike, and knowing that she was the one who’d been aiding and abetting his reasons for being away so long pissed Buffy off, even if she knew she didn’t really have any right to be so possessive of him.
“It’s perfectly all right.” Lydia didn’t seem in the slightest ruffled by the criticism regarding her appearance, so much so that Buffy had to fight not to wipe the smug smile off her face. “It would seem that she’s not feeling well. It’s more than understandable.”
“I’m feeling just great,” Buffy snapped.
“You…did throw up again,” Giles said quietly. “Are you certain that’s entirely true?”
The reminder about why she was there in the first place made her pause, and she shot a sideways glance to her mother. Some of the support she’d seen there earlier was gone, replaced with a mild exasperation with her daughter’s rude behavior, and Buffy knew that she’d be better off just telling the news now. It wasn’t like it was going to be able to be kept secret much longer anyway.
Taking a deep breath, Buffy pulled out the pregnancy test from the bag she still clutched and held it out to Giles. “Surprise,” she said. “You’re going to be a grand-Watcher.”
He’d taken the white stick from her with a confused frown, but her choice of words made him visibly start before his gaze jerked back up to stare at her. Behind him, Wesley rose to his feet, suddenly interested in the proceedings, and Lydia took a step forward, as if that would afford her a better look at the test.
“You’re pregnant?” Giles asked, incredulous. “How is that possible?”
Buffy grinned, though it was more nerves than anything else. “Wow, I guess you guys really don’t have sex.”
“Buffy…” Joyce warned from behind her.
He looked back down at the test, turning it over in his hands as if the view from the other side would tell him something different. “How far along are you?” he asked tightly.
“I’m not sure.” It wasn’t a lie; she wasn’t completely positive. “I just took the test last night and all it tells you is yea or nay.”“We’re going to make an appointment with the doctor as soon as we can,” Joyce said. “Buffy’s going to do this right. Aren’t you, honey?”
“Right,” she said, though her voice didn’t seem so sure.
She was still watching Giles, trying to gauge what direction his mood was going to take. He hadn’t put his glasses back on after her question about Lydia, and the nakedness bared the conflicting emotions within his eyes. Disbelief, calculation, disappointment. It was the last that cut the deepest.
“Perhaps the test is wrong,” he finally said. He held it out, waiting for Buffy to take it back. “Perhaps we’re over-reacting for nothing.”
“False positives on pregnancy tests are rare, Rupert. Besides, Buffy admitted that they weren’t very careful, so it’s more than likely right.”
“I didn’t even realize you were seeing anybody,” Giles said. “How could you not take better precautions?”
With a determined step, Joyce moved herself between Buffy and her Watcher. “I don’t appreciate the tone you’re taking,” she warned. “Especially since you were the one who was supposedly getting her out of the country for her own good. If you feel like laying a finger of blame, I suggest you start looking at yourself.”
“What are you talking about?”
“About William, of course. He’s the father.”
It felt as if all the air had been sucked out of the room, and Buffy closed her eyes against what she knew was going to come next.
“What?!?” She peeked through her lashes to see an outraged Giles pushing past Joyce to confront Buffy directly. “This is Spike’s child?”
“This is extraordinary,” Wesley commented. “Completely unprecedented.”
“What’re you talking about?” Joyce asked. “What does Spike have to do with this? Buffy said the father was that William boy she met in London. The one who’s been writing her.”
“Yes,” Giles said through gritted teeth. “William the Bloody. Also known as Spike, the Slayer of Slayers.” All his focus was trained on Buffy, and she tensed as she saw the white-hot fury sparking in his gaze.
“I know what you’re thinking,” she started.
“I highly doubt that, young lady. How could be so completely irresponsible?”
His mood was rubbing off on her, and Buffy’s hackles automatically stood up. “Excuse me, Giles, but last time I checked, it wasn’t possible to get pregnant while you were dreaming,” she replied. “I didn’t know, OK?”
“You knew who you were sleeping with. That should’ve been enough reason not to allow it to progress that far.”
“That was every reason. I love him. That’s what people in love do.”
“That’s not what Slayers do!”
“Are we back to that? How many times do we have to have this fight, Giles? I might be the Slayer, but I’m still a girl, and that means I have a life---.”
“Not after you have this baby, you won’t,” he said wryly. “Although, of course, it’s not going to come to that.” He turned to Joyce. “Since it’s clear that she went to you first, please tell me you at least had the good sense to discuss getting rid of it with her.”
“I am not having an abortion!”
Buffy’s tone shattered everyone’s attention on Joyce, and all eyes turned to stare at the Slayer.
Her nostrils flared as she fought to control her raging emotions. “Don’t even think about arguing with me about this,” she warned. “I’ve already made my decision, and I. Can’t. Kill it. The whole point of me being the Slayer is so that I can do what it takes to preserve human life. That includes this one.”
The determination in her gaze made him pause. “Having a child changes everything, Buffy.” Giles had softened his tone. “I don’t think you realize the severity of your situation.”
“Yes, I do.”
He took a deep breath. “At least tell me, you plan on giving it away when it’s born.”
“No. I’m keeping it.”
“Because it’s mine.” She paused, her eyes darting to the others in the room. Lydia watched her in sympathy. They knew the rest of the reason; it was pointless for Buffy to try and deny it. “Because it’s his.”
The silence that ensued was only broken by the sound of Giles’ heavy breathing. Finally, Joyce stepped forward to stand at his side, her frowning visage gazing down at Buffy.
“Is this baby really Spike’s?” she asked. “And I want the truth this time.”
She sighed. “Kind of. It’s a long and really complicated story.”
“Then I suggest you start talking.”
A soft and rapid knock came at the door. With a quick glance at Buffy, Giles strode to answer it, frowning slightly when he saw Willow and Oz on the other side. “I thought our meeting wasn’t until this evening,” he said.
“It’s not.” Her eyes darted to the pregnancy test he still held in his hand. “But I think we got here just in time.”
She stepped back and away to allow a smoking figure to take her place. Buffy’s heart began hammering in her chest when the steaming blanket that covered it was pulled up enough to reveal Spike’s face.
“’Lo, Rupert,” he said.
To say he’d been shocked when Red had shown up at his hotel room insisting that he come and help Buffy break the news about the baby to Giles was an understatement. But to see the look on the Watcher’s face when Spike showed up on his doorstep made all the questions in his head worth it.
Until the wanker’s fist shot out and cuffed him across the jaw.
“You son of a bitch!” Giles growled as Spike went sprawling into the sunlight. The blanket fell back, exposing his head, and immediately, flames sprang from his scalp. Before he could react to the blow, however, Buffy was at his side, dragging him back into the shadow of the eaves and pulling the covering back over his hair.
“Let him in, Giles,” she ordered. Her arm was strong around Spike’s midsection, warm and distracting from the burn beneath his hair.
Even Willow’s eyes widened at the show of solidarity from the Slayer, and Spike couldn’t help his smirk as his gaze locked with the Watcher’s. “You heard her,” he said. “Invite a vamp in for a cuppa, mate.”
From the look on his face, it was the last thing Giles wanted to do. His lips thinned, his nostrils flared, and his hand was still clenched into a fist at his side. “I don’t---.”
“Do it, Rupert.” Joyce appeared at his shoulder, but her eyes were fixed on Spike. It wasn’t the sympathetic woman he remembered, nor the one Red had described when she’d said Buffy claimed her mother was on her side. This was the vengeful grandmother of his unborn child, the one who was none too thrilled with the baby’s father at the moment.
“I have a few things I’d like to say to Spike,” she was saying. “And I’d prefer if he wasn’t dust when I do it.”
With both Summers’ women against him, Giles didn’t stand a chance. Sighing in weary reluctance, he took a step away from the door and muttered, “Come in, Spike.”
In a flash, Buffy was pulling him across the threshold, followed quickly by Willow and Oz. As soon as he was free from the blanket, however, she broke away, skirting around to a vacant corner of the room as if she wanted to be completely on her own.
“Good thing Red brought me my invite,” Spike drawled, hopping onto one of the stools at the breakfast bar. “Looks like this is quite the fete.” He saw the blonde Watcher hovering in the background and cocked an eyebrow. “Didn’t take you long to turn stoolie,” he commented.
“You know her, too?” Joyce asked.
“Sure. Don’t know that one, though.” He leveled a finger at the tall dark man by the couch.
“Wesley Wyndam-Pryce,” he said. “I’m---.”
“Not important,” Spike cut off. Too many bloody Watchers in the room. “Right. So, since Lydia’s here and you’re waving that---,” he pointed to the pregnancy test that Giles still held, “---like it’s the soddin’ sword of Damocles, I’m goin’ to guess secrets aren’t our top priority any more.” He ticked them off as he listed them. “Buffy’s pregnant, the baby’s mine, I was gone but now I’m back. Any questions?”
There was a moment of silence before Joyce said, “Nobody’s told me yet how it’s possible for a vampire to have children.”
“Easy,” Spike said. “I wasn’t a vamp when me and Buffy hooked up.” He saw the Slayer wince at his phraseology. Fuck. He needed to start thinking about his words if he didn’t want to make this worse.
Joyce didn’t miss the phrase either. Folding her arms across her chest, she said, “Hooked up? Is that what vampires call it these days?”
“It’s not like that,” he hastened to say. “I love Buffy and she---.”
“Is pregnant, by you it would appear, and nobody has bothered to explain yet how the hell that could’ve happened,” Joyce finished, exasperated. She turned to Giles. “Now, before any of this farce goes any further, someone is going to tell me how Spike can go from being a vampire, to not being a vampire, then back again, and somehow in the middle of it all, get my little girl pregnant.”
“Mom! I’m not a little girl!”
It was the first thing Buffy had said since Spike’s invitation inside, and he swiveled his head to try and catch her eyes. I’m doin’ this for us, luv, he wanted to say, but it was impossible to convey the thought with her avoiding his gaze.
“You’d best sit down, Joyce,” Spike said, and patted the stool next to him. “This one’s a doozy.”
The room was somber when all was said and done. Giles had started out telling the story, with the occasional interjection from Willow, but as soon as he reached the point of the dreams, Buffy had spoken up, her voice low, her eyes downcast, and the group had grown silent as they listened to her finish the tale.
Spike relived it as she spoke. Every second. Every word. Every kiss. It was the first time he’d heard her perspective on what had happened---about all of it---and hearing her voice betray the tenderness that had distinguished the time they’d shared whetted his love for this girl more than seeing any words she might scribble out for him. He hadn’t thought that could be possible.
He ached to get up and take her in his arms, to let her know she wasn’t alone in this, but the chill from the others made him hesitate. Lydia knew the truth, and he suspected Rupert probably knew at least part of what had been happening over the past eight weeks, but until he got Joyce back on his side, Spike knew he had to be careful how he conducted himself in front of her. Buffy had chosen to tell Joyce first---for a reason---and Red had made it more than clear that the elder Summers woman was prepared to stand by her daughter, come hell or high water. Apparently, however, having a vampire as the father of a future grandchild superceded both hell and any level of water, high or not.
“…then when I saw him that last night---.”
“Wait.” Giles interrupted for the first time since Buffy had started speaking. “You saw Spike again before we left London? Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Because…” And she looked at Spike, chewing her lip. He could see the entreaty she was probably not even aware of, and though a part of him was hurt that she hadn’t been upfront with everyone about their truce, a bigger part knew exactly why she’d done it.
“Because what was said is between me and the Slayer,” he said, hopping off the stool. Though her eyes widened as he did so, Spike strode purposely to Buffy’s side and turned to square off with the others. “None of you lot were there,” he went on. “None of you lot can understand what it was that happened between us.”
“No, luv. You had your turn. Now’s the time for a different view.”
And he talked, and as he talked, his accent softened, his words returning to a rhythm from days gone past. He hadn’t planned on revealing so much about his own history, about those days as a human when he’d felt so useless and fearful, but he knew from watching their faces that as moving as Buffy’s story was, they weren’t seeing it as anything more than the ramblings of a young woman at the mercy of her hormones. They needed the other side; without it, the tale was only half-told.
Giles dropped his eyes midway through the story, and Spike knew he was remembering his tenure with Anne and his first and only encounter with a human William. Lydia sat with her usual sycophantic adoration, while the other Watcher seemed fascinated with the various magical details. But it was Joyce who received the bulk of Spike’s focus. Joyce was the one who had to believe that he loved Buffy, that he wasn’t going to hurt her. Most importantly, she had to believe that she could trust him.
“So, you can lecture me all you want. I can take it. But it’s not goin’ to change the fact that I made Buffy a promise. I’m not goin’ anywhere. I wasn’t goin’ to before I found out she was pregnant, and I sure as hell am not goin’ to now. Know you don’t like it, but guess what? Doesn’t matter. That baby’s mine just as much as it is hers, and Buffy knows that. She knows I love her, and she trusts me. That should be enough for you. It’s more than enough for me.”
He didn’t mention her love for him. To announce it would sound arrogant and likely backfire if Buffy decided to get scared about it all.
“Quite an eloquent speech,” Giles said quietly. He lifted his eyes, but there was still a modicum of reserve within their depths. “But you’ve overlooked one irrefutable fact, Spike. While William was most certainly a remarkable young man, he’s dead. You’re not him. You’re a vampire.”
He didn’t want to do it, but…
“Angel was a vampire,” Spike said. “And you didn’t have a problem with him bein’ around.”
“Angel had a soul.”
“Not to mention the fact that Angel left town,” said Joyce. She wasn’t as angry or cold as she had been when he’d first arrived, but the walls were still there.
“Oh, and we all know just how great that made Buffy feel, now don’t we?”
“He did it because he realized he couldn’t give her the future she deserved,” she countered.
“Then there you go.” Pulling Buffy to her feet and stepping behind her, Spike settled his hand over her stomach and leveled a proud stare at the group. “I already have.”
The last thing he expected was for Buffy to disentangle herself from his arms.
But she did.
And she did so without even turning back to look at him.
“So now you know,” she said, addressing everyone but Spike. “And nothing is any different now than it was when I first walked through that door this morning. I don’t expect you to just automatically be OK with this. Believe me, I know how wacky the whole thing sounds. So, all I ask is that you just…think about it all. Think about what you would do if you were in my shoes.” She glanced at Giles and tried to smile. “Just don’t actually get into my shoes because those kind of images in my head, I don’t need.”
“No.” She cut her Watcher off, and turned for the doorway. “I’m done talking about this. I’m going to go to class while I can still fit in the lecture hall seats.”
“I’ll come with you,” Willow said.
Hesitating before Oz, Buffy cast one more glance at Spike before she said to her friend, “Can you get him back to the hotel for me, please? Preferably not in an ashtray.”
She looked at Spike one last time before disappearing out the door, Willow right on her heels. He wasn’t entirely sure what it was she was feeling at the moment, though the fact that she’d ensured him a safe ride had to count for something, he figured. Not once during the long conversation had she ever said a disparaging word about him, or William, or about their time together, but neither had she come right out and backed him up when he made his assertions.
He wondered if she was still going to show up that night, or if the three-ring circus had tainted what they’d already shared.
God, he hoped she’d come.
To be continued in Chapter 14: In the Main of Light…