Giles was at a loss…no that wasn't enough…there were not words.
Buffy came back.
Buffy was pregnant.
Spike was the father.
Jenny came back.
Jenny was engaged.
Jenny didn't know Jenny was Jenny.
The Watcher stared at the spot where Whistler had been moments before. His fingers sought out the Holy Relic. When they came in contact with the amulet they trembled, at first a light shake but soon tremors that racked his entire body. His knees bent and he sank down. He missed the chair and hit the tile, not even registering that the tremors were sobs.
"It's not supposed to be easy? What the bloody hell does that even mean?" His voice was answered by silence. The Magic Box was utterly quiet, save for him. Alone. Always alone. But it didn't have to be that way, did it? If he could figure out Whistler's fucking riddles….figure out how to remind Jenny of who she was. But why? So, he could lose her again in a few weeks when the dust from Willow's spell had settled?
He cried for longer than he cared to admit. He had never felt so…helpless. There was always a loophole, always a way…but not this time.
He didn't even hear her come in but suddenly she was beside him, dark eyes full of concern. "Mr. Giles?"
"Jenny?" He said without thinking.
She tilted her head with the feline grace she'd always had. She was so unchanged. So, untouched by time and all that it had wrought in their lives.
"You called me that before—so have your friends. Your very inappropriately young friends—," She nudged him with her elbow but he didn't smile.
"You just look very much like someone I knew."
"I get that a lot. One of those faces-" She sat down, swinging her legs around so her back was resting against the counter. "You could tell me about her…if you want to. I always found that it helped to talk about things, get them off my chest. I'm really trying here—to make some friends. Help me out?"
Giles removed his glasses, scrubbing his tear-drenched eyes. "She was—well, she was unlike anyone I've ever known. She was a teacher at Sunnydale High. That's how we met."
"And her name was Jenny?"
He nodded, replacing his glasses. "Jenny Calendar." God, he hadn't said that name out loud in a long time. It hurt as much as he thought it would. He studied her face, waiting for something, some flicker of understanding that never came.
"What happened to her?"
Giles leaned back, this was going to be a long conversation.
The bike rumbled to a stop in the dark alley that ran behind the warehouse. This place flooded the Slayer with memories she would rather have left in the past. It wasn't that long ago that this place had been William the Bloody's favorite bolthole.
William the Bloody.
William the Not-So-Bloody. Buffy smiled at the turn her life had taken…well less of a turn more of a careening loop-the loop…Spike was right, her metaphor-ing was rusty.
"Earth to Slayer—come in slayer."
Her head shot up and there he was, standing in the only pool of lamp light in the alley, hands on the low-slung jeans across his hips, skin glowing, and the smallest, barest fraction of amusement in his eyes even as he tried to seem impatient.
Screw detective work. She strode toward him with her purpose clear in her eyes, backed him to the wall and fixed her mouth on his. He'd been patient. He'd been following her cues—all of them. Maybe it was time to throw him a bone. She hoped there would be time for romance and flowers but she knew better than anyone that you had to seize them moments you're given—because you never knew when tomorrow wouldn't come.
"Spike." She whispered when his lips traveled to her throat. Her voice was husky and heavy with desire. Her stomach fluttering as his cool fingers grazed the skin left exposed between her tank top and skirt.
"We have to search the warehouse." He said between kisses, though there was a lack of urgency to the statement.
Her fingers began their own exploration of his muscular chest beneath the thin cotton fabric of his shirt. "You and I both know there's nothing here." She said.
He nipped at her jaw with blunt teeth and she mewled in approval. She heard the distant approach of footsteps. Xander and Anya. They had to move or they'd be interrupted yet again.
"Spike…not here." She took his hand and pulled him back into the shadows of the alley.
Their pace became a run when they heard Anya's unmistakably blunt tone complaining about their having to be the ones whose sexy time was taken away that night. Xander promptly reminded her that there were more important things—such as human skinning demons and Angelus.
The Slayer and her vamp reached the end of the alley and crossed the street, racing down a row of dark houses. Most of these row houses in Downtown Sunnydale were abandoned, their tenants eaten or smart enough to have run away.
"This one." Spike ducked into an empty foyer, pulling her along by the hand. He rounded on her, flattening her against the first wall he could find and kissing her hard. She didn't know where it came from but something came alive inside her then. She responded to his kiss with a ferocity that surprised even her. Her lips parted to allow his tongue to tangle with hers as she pushed off the wall, flipping them around so he was the one against the wall. It became a dance, which is what it had always been really—they fought for control with their bodies, their lips, their hearts.
She could let go with him. She didn't have to be afraid of her own strength or ashamed of her unspoken desires. He was her match in that sense—probably in every sense—which was an alley she wasn't ready to explore.
She locked her arms around his neck and crawled up his body so her legs were draped around his waist, his hips pressing into her. She fumbled for his belt as he let out a growl that rumbled against her chest the way the way his bike rumbled against her thighs.
He pulled his lips away from her mouth long enough to say, "Here, kitten? Not exactly roses and candelight."
"Spike, shut up." Her words were accented by the sound of his belt buckle hitting the floor.
"Right." He ripped her lacy top over her head while she struggled to push his leather coat down his shoulders. Their hands and lips were frantic, searching out more skin, more contact. They broke apart so Buffy could step out of her skirt and the scrap of silk she called underwear, and then she stood before him bare as he'd never seen her. The night before Glory had been rushed and hurried, they'd only removed the necessary articles of clothing. Now, she was just her, just Buffy. For the first time since Angel, she was nervous, unsure of what he was thinking. There had been so much build up to this, would he be disappointed?
His eyes raked over her body for a long moment before he finally pulled his own black tee over his head and flattened her naked chest against his. His lips peppered kisses along her collar bone as her fingers fumbled with his zipper. She pushed his jeans off his hips and he kicked them away. Now it was her turn to gaze at all of him. He was clearly far from disappointed.
Somehow they made it to the filthy dust covered rug covering the wood floors. He hovered over her, pausing to search her eyes one last time. Neither spoke. She just nodded, and reached up to pull his lips back to hers. Her eyes went wide when he thrust forward, and they were still, chests rising and falling in unison.
Slowly they moved as one. This time was so unlike the first. She was gentle now, all the frantic energy left her and she felt calm. The calm quickly turned to the most wonderful sensations she'd felt since that night before Glory. She writhed under him, her hands exploring every line and curve of his hard body. Soft whispers of encouragement left her lips.
"I love you, Buffy."
Angelus stalked down Sunnydale's main drag, a wicked smile twisting his features. He licked the blood from his lips. His nostrils flared as he soaked in the cooling autumn air. God it was good to be back…and free to come and go as he chose. The sheer possibilities were delicious. Nothing like a bit of death to liven his mood.
The Red Witch really got it right this time. He'd have to remember to thank her before he ripped her throat out. He'd gotten out of Hell and brought his girl with him. Now, as soon as the right body came along, they would be together and the world would bleed. She would have her body back and he would be free to chose any body that suited him—maybe he'd let her choose. She was the one who'd have to look at him after all.
He turned toward Downtown and felt her presence beside him. "Angelus." Came the raspy voice. Hearing the voice alone, he couldn't even be sure that it was her. He would be so glad to take away that rasp, to hear her voice again, low and silky.
"Liv." He purred. "Did they get it?"
"Not yet…but they will. They know what will happen if they fail."
He smiled. It was all falling into place. He felt the tinkling in his hands and knew he didn't have much time. He walked to a nearby alley just as he felt Angel's body slip away. He was getting stronger, he'd managed to stay in the body for almost four hours that time. It wouldn't be long now. "I'll be back." He said to his old host. Then, he followed Liv's aura out of the alley and over the rooftops of Sunnydale.
Alaina placed a comforting hand on Giles arm. He fought the urge to pull her too him. Maybe he should just kiss her and be done with it. Would that bring her memory back? Was it that simple? Without realizing it he felt himself leaning toward her, but she recoiled.
"I'm sorry." Giles glanced at his watch. "I didn't realize I'd been talking your ear off this long. I'm sure your fiancé is worried." He set the amulet on the table and pulled himself to his feet before offering her a hand.
She shrugged. "We had an argument earlier after he picked me up at your house—er Buffy's house. Who's house is it exactly?"
Before he could answer the shop door crashed open, the little bell giving an angry ring as it was almost knocked from its perch. Three large demons barreled in. Alaina squealed and dove behind the counter. "Not again!" She shouted, "Rupert, get down."
But Giles was frozen in place staring at the demons. There was something off about them, something—less than menacing. They seemed almost unsure.
"Attention Magic Box patrons." Began one demon. He was promptly elbowed in the ribs by the second.
"We talked about this." Said the third under its breath.
Giles furrowed his brow. What the bloody hell is this? He picked up a sword from the display case and promptly aimed it at the one in the middle. "What do you want?"
The three demons fanned out around the shop. One charged at Giles. The sword came down hard on the demon's horned head. To everyone's surprise the demon yelped in pain.
"Ow ow owie! He hit me."
"Clearly he is strong."
The third, clearly the leader, said "Consider this a warning. We will be back with reinforcements." The other two looked at him. Their faces were as confused as demons could look. The leader gave an exaggerated nod. "Clearly you can't be defeated…let us run."
He dashed out and the others followed leaving behind two speechless humans in the Magic Box.
"What the hell?" Alaina popped up from behind the counter, "Do they usually just run off like that?"
Giles scratched his head, "No I—" His eyes fell upon the table where the amulet had been and widened, "Dear lord. Come, we have to find the others." He pulled Alaina by the hand out of the shop. She followed mumbling about it being the middle of the night. Your friends sure keep strange hours.
The moonlight was still filtering through the holes in the ceiling when Spike collapsed in a panting heap. He turned his head to gaze at the equally panting Slayer beside him.
Her bottom lip jutted out, "When did the building collapse."
Spike chuckled, "I'm guessing sometime between the first time and the—"
She cut him off with another kiss—affectionate rather than heated. He pulled back enough to lock eyes with her and said the only thing he could think to say. "I love you."
For a moment, she looked like she might run, but then her expression softened, "I think—I'm almost there too." She said.
Spike couldn't believe his ears. Were it not for vampire hearing, he might not have heard it at all. "Come again, pet." He said.
She rolled onto her side to face him, propping herself up on her elbow. "I can't tell you what you want to hear quite yet but…it doesn't hurt as much anymore. Every day when I wake up, it's a little easier and it's because of you, Spike." She stroked his cheek fondly, "Heaven is a lot to recover from—but I'm getting there."
"Buffy, there's no rush. Told you before I've got all the time in the bloody world. This with you is more than I hoped for already." He placed his palm against her flat stomach, rubbing circles over the spot where he could hear their baby's heartbeat. "I never thought I'd be a father…least of all with you, Slayer. But, Christ I have never been so excited for anything in my unlife."
Her eyes widened, "Ooh, that reminds me. I have a present for you." She scrambled through the rubble around them in search of her skirt. She found it under a fallen floorboard and fished the pictures out of her pocket. He sat up and she came to sit beside him. She handed him the string of fuzzy black and white images about the size of postcards. "It isn't anything extravagant but—I can't believe I forgot about them. It really has been crazy lately."
He looked at the images in his hands. It took a moment for realization to hit him. "Is that?"
"Uh huh," She nodded. "Right there…that's her—or him…it?"
Spike ran a finger over the little dark spot. His eyes clouding. He was not a man easily rendered speechless but she'd managed it. His eyes came back to hers. "I love you." He pushed her back against the floor and climbed onto top of her once more, attacking her lips.
"Baby, as much as I would love to do that again…we need to go. Mr. Sun will be up soon and he is not a big fan of vamps. So, why don't we move this to a more Spike-friendly place."
Spike burst out laughing as she pushed him off her. "Mr. Sun?"
She tossed his clothes at him in response. "Shut up. I'm all post love-making babble girl."
Spike liked post-love-making babble girl. "Is that what we were doing, pet?"
"Was for me. Just checking s'all."
Xander and Anya burst through the door of Revello Drive just as Giles and Alaina were coming through the back. Anya yawned and threw her body across the couch while Xander sat near her feet
"Find anything?" Willow asked as she joined them in the living room.
Xander shook his head as he sat beside his fiancé. "Whole lot of nadda."
"Oh good, you're back." Said Giles as he too entered the room, Alaina in tow. "Where are Buffy and Spike?"
"My sentiments exactly. They never met us at the warehouse." Said Xander.
"But Spike's bike was parked in the alley." Anya chimed in.
A look of panic took over Willow's face, "You don't think they are in trouble, do you?"
Dawn, who had been listening in from the desk jumped to her feet. "Why else would they have disappeared? It's not like Buffy to skip out on investigating."
"Oh, I can think of a few reasons." Everyone's eyes turned to Anya. Their expressions ranging from nausea to rage—only Dawn looked amused. "Don't pretend like it didn't cross your minds. I mean, they made a baby—we are all on the same page about that right?"
"Yes, we'd just rather not have to imagine it—ever." Xander said emphatically. "Besides, Buffy said it was a one-time thing. She wasn't thinking straight with Glory and her mom…"
"Oh, and she's thinking straight now?" Willow added.
Alaina simply hung back, attention bouncing speaker to speaker.
Finally, Giles silenced them. "I'm sure there is a valid reason why they didn't meet you at the warehouse which Buffy and Spike will share when they return. Unfortunately, we have more pressing problems—the amulet was stolen from the Magic Box." Giles sat down and relayed Whistler's message and the events that followed—purposefully replacing the names Jenny and Alaina with exaggerated winks and nods.
"So, the amulet is a Holy Relic, and it is the key to someone's memories…and you lost it mere moments after Whistler told you to keep it safe?" said Anya accusingly. "Were you two distracted by sex like Spike and Buffy?"
"Ahn! Another image I don't need."
Willow rolled her eyes, "Giles told us how it happened. Three demons. Keep up."
"I think they were the same demons that broke into the Antique shop." Alain said easing her way into the circle by sitting on the arm rest of Giles' chair. "Their voices sounded familiar."
"I do think it's weird that they were speaking English." Said Tara.
"Most demons don't." Dawn added.
"Well, we have to get it back."
"I feel a research party coming on…pizza?" Dawn asked.
They made it home just in time to beat the sun but Buffy's attempts at slipping in through the back door came to a screeching halt. She walked into the kitchen, still clutching Spike's cool hand in her own, and found all the Scoobies assembled around the kitchen with half eaten pizza boxes decorating the island. Pizza had appeared as it tended to do at Scooby meetings.
On instinct, she yanked her hand from Spike's but then paused. Why? They will have to get over it eventually. With a rare burst of bravery, she leaned back against the vampire's chest and pulled his arms around her, resting his hands and her own atop her belly. "Hi guys. What's with the statue act?"
"Buffy, are you alright?" Giles asked, voice full of concern.
Buffy lightly traced the open wounds on Spike's knuckles, seeing the same wounds mirrored on her own hands. The fact that they'd taken down a building last night had almost slipped her mind.
"I'm okay." She covered.
"No you're not…you're all sore and limpy."
Buffy's back went rigid. Spike chuckled. "I'm not sore and limpy…We just had a fight. You know the all-nighter kind." Now, Spike was fully laughing and the others were gaping in disbelief. Just stop talking while you're ahead. "Not with each other…with vampires."
Xander's lip curled, zeroed in on the vampire's possessive grip on the Slayer's stomach.
Anya preened, happy to have been right. "See, distracted by sex. I'm always right. You should listen to me more often."
"Right, on that disturbing note," Giles jumped in, "We have a problem, Buffy. The amulet was stolen last night at the Magic Box."
"Well, what are we waiting for…let's go get it back." Spike insisted. "That thing is the key to getting rid of this Sandman right? I don't want that thing anywhere near the mother of my child."
"Good god, Spike. Can you not rub that in every time you open your mouth." Xander was gradually turning every shade of red.
"Just don't see the point in standing here wasting daylight, as it were. Let's get this handled so we can go back to our lives."
Buffy pouted, "But we just got home. I was hoping for some R&R. We had a long night-" She looked at her feet, "With the fighting."
Spike turned her face toward his. He cupped her cheek, and ran his thumb tenderly along the healing cut beneath her eye. "Why don't you go upstairs and kip for a bit, luv. The rest of us can head to the shop, see if I can track a scent."
"Are you sure? It feels kind wgsome to send you out to do my job."
"You need your rest, luv. You both do."
Maybe it was his tender baritone of his voice or the way his cool hand felt pressed against her cheek but she forgot about everyone else in the room. She rose up and brushed her lips against his. She meant it to be quick but it was no use. Her lips had a mind of their own and could not be trusted within 10 feet of lips-of-Spike. Their eyes fluttered closed and Spike tipped her head back to deepen the kiss.
"Woa." Xander yelled, "Not ready to see that. Is it just me or does this all seem really out of character for Buffy? I mean—kissing evil undead?" He looked to the others for support. "How can we be sure that's even a normal baby in there. Maybe its controlling her? Or, maybe he did something—a spell…I mean vampires can't have kids."
"I wouldn't put it past him." Giles mumbled under his breath.
Spike sneered at them, coming to stand protectively in front of Buffy. "I'm not the one's been abusing the spell-casting, Whelp. If this baby is mystical, you have Red to thank for it."
Xander stalked toward the smaller man. "You are taking advantage of her, Spike." He jabbed a finger at the vampire's chest, "One day, she's gonna come to her senses and I will be there smiling and cheering her on."
Spike made no move to throw him off. He simply leaned forward and spoke in his best Big Bad voice, "You're in for a rude awakening boy." He flashed a menacing fang.
Buffy put herself between them before it could go any further. "Xander, back off."
Xander shook his head, still sneering at Spike. "We'll meet everyone at the Magic Box. I need some air." He stomped out of the Summer's house. Anya scurried out after him when he called for her.
Buffy's eyes scanned the silent Scoobies left in the kitchen. "Anyone else wanna comment on my life choices? Bring it on."
Dawn skipped over to her sister and threw her arms around both she and Spike. "I am happy for you both. You're perfect for each other. I've always seen it."
Willow and Giles weren't quite as enthusiastic but they didn't argue.
"Alright then, meeting adjourned." Buffy stalked toward the stairs, "Spike, come tuck me in…please." She batted her eyelashes at him.
"Don't have to tell me twice, Slayer." He said playfully chasing after her.