Thursday's Child

Chapter Twenty-Two

Spike was grumpy and out of sorts, and the cold, goo covered wand being pressed against his belly while Buffy and her best mate watched wasn't exactly making things better. It was nowhere near the worst day of his unlife, but it was definitely far from the best. He'd woken from a dream about one of his more brutal killings, feeling disturbed and unsettled instead of the usual wistful regret.

Following that uncomfortable bit of oddness, he'd tried to get dressed only to discover that his jeans wouldn't button anymore, not even when using one of Buffy's hair rubber bands to extend the loop. He'd put things off a touch too long, and had been forced to wear sweatpants and one of his red button down shirts like a gormless twit who didn't know how to dress himself properly. Thank god they'd been able to get to a specialty store to buy a few black utility kilts and some baggy aran sweaters.

Now here he was, wearing nothing but his boots and one of those kilts while the doc prodded at him and Buffy and Willow twittered on together. Why was Red even there? Yeah, he supposed it was good for the fragile reconciliation that had happened last week at Christmas, but this wasn't really any of her business, even if she seemed to think she could help if the ultrasound didn't work quite right.

Why did he even have to be here? People had been dropping sprogs for ages without any of this modern rot. He wanted to kill things, then go home, curl up on the couch with a heating pad against his aching back, and watch sappy movies that he could pretend Dawn had picked out. Maybe work a bit on those booties he'd been knitting when no one but Joyce was about.

He was glad she was doing better after her surgery. Was fun to sit about with her and watch Passions, and she was good about answering his questions about the sprog. He wished she was here instead of the bloody witch.

"There we go," Ben said, and Spike was suddenly distracted from his thoughts by the image on the screen.

He stared at the movement, mesmerized. He knew the sprog had a heartbeat – he'd been able to hear it, hadn't he? – but being able to see it... That was just neat. Two arms, two legs, a head. All looked normal, though he wasn't an expert on this sort of thing. Beautiful little thing, wasn't she?

"Is, is it supposed to look like that?" Buffy asked dubiously. "I mean… it's an image of a baby. Isn't it supposed to be cute? That's not cute." She turned to look at Willow. "Is it cute? Is there something wrong with my cute detector?" Before anyone could answer that question, she suddenly turned towards Ben with a look of alarm. "There's only one baby in there, right? There's not, like, eighty or something, right?"

Spike looked at her incredulously, one brow raised. "What kind o' daft question is that? 'Course there aren't eighty. I'd've outgrown the bloody house and not just my clothes."

Buffy blushed in embarrassment. He felt vaguely bad about embarrassing her, but had to admit it was an adorable look on her. "Well, I, uh, just had this dream. Pretty sure it wasn't a slayer dream or anything, but I was a janitor at a hospital and there were dirty diapers everywhere," she babbled. "And then I was at home, and there were more diapers and babies stacked everywhere. And you were just laying there on the couch being fed grapes by Mom and Dawn while I had to change the diapers." She glared at him, and he smirked.

"Last bit sounds good. Wouldn't mind a bit of pampering." That was more true than he wanted to admit.

"There's just the one," Ben said, giving the agitated Slayer a reassuring smile. He squinted at the screen and moved the ultrasound wound slightly. "And if I'm reading this right, it's a healthy little girl." He winced suddenly. "And, uh, I'm actually supposed to ask first if you wanted to know the gender."

"Already kinda knew," Spike said. "So no worries on that, mate."

"Oooh, we need to come up with a name for her," Willow squealed excitedly.

Spike had always kind of liked Willow, but his opinion of her had taken a bit of a nosedive lately. The grating sound of her voice and her presumption that she had any say in his daughter's name weren't helping with that any.

"I'd kind of like to name her after my cousin," Buffy said.

Ben gave him a look that clearly said, "I'm staying the hell out of this," and started getting the equipment cleaned up and put away. Spike sat up glared at the two women. They didn't seem to notice.

"We should have a baby shower," Willow suggestion. "You, me, Tara, your mom, Dawnie," she paused, her nose wrinkling slightly, "Anya."

Buffy frowned and glanced at Spike. "Shouldn't Spike be invited too, since he's the one carrying Celia?"

"Baby showers are all girly and stuff, why would he want to go to it?" Willow asked, sounding genuinely confused.

"Her name is Thursday," Spike gritted out. "And, actually, I would wanna be invited, but only if you weren't there." He glared at Willow. "You gave Joyce a bloody beer hat when she was in hospital. Sprog doesn't need the types of things you'd come up with for her."

"Hey, I give good gifts!" Willow protested in indignation.

"Thursday?" Buffy said at the same time, her nose wrinkling in confusion. Spike barely noticed the adorableness of it. He was too brassed off at the moment. "That's not a name, it's a day of the week."

"I'd bloody well dust myself and the sprog too before I let her be named something that bloody close to Cecily," he snarled, standing up and angrily pulling his sweater - he was glad he'd decided to take it off. Bloody thing was new, and no doubt would have attracted goo - and coat back on.

"Yeesh, drama much?" Willow muttered.

Spike stormed off, ignoring the witch's comment. He also ignored Buffy as she called out his name and asked who Cecily was.


...

As they walked through the night streets, Buffy watched Spike out of the corner of her eye, wondering if he was still mad. Considering he was stomping along with his jaw clenched, she was going to assume it was a big yuh-huh on the continued grump-on. He'd been in a foul mood since discovering his clothes wouldn't fit anymore, and dragging him in to get a checkup from Ben had just made things worse.

I shouldn't have invited Willow along without even asking Spike, she thought guiltily. The stitches holding their friendship together were still new and fragile. She'd thought looking at ultrasound images would be a nice, girly bonding moment. It had been, but she'd been so focused on that, she'd sort of excluded the person actually carrying the baby.

She looked down at the ground, then back at Spike again. Angry, kilt-wearing vampire. God, he was gorgeous. He always had been, but the little baby bump hiding under his sweater made him seem even more attractive to her. Her child was inside of him, and that combined with the things she'd been slowly learning about him made him almost irresistible.

She wanted to push him up against one of the buildings and kiss him. She wanted to run the fingers of one hand through his hair and set the gelled down curls free while the other hand snuck into that sexy kilt to play with another set of curls. She wanted to… she wanted to stick her hand under his sweater and touch him like one of those creepy people who accosted pregnant women at the grocery store.

With the mood he was in, she was pretty sure he'd try to bite her hand off, chip be damned. So even though her hands were practically itching with the need to pet him, she was going to be keeping them to herself. We do not give belly rubs to the pregnant and grouchy undead, she told herself firmly.

She sighed and tried to at least alleviate some of the grouchy. "Look, I'm sorry, okay? Me and Willow kinda got carried away." He still looked angry. "We can compromise on the name. What about Lelia?"

"Her name is Thursday," Spike growled.

"That's not a name," she huffed in exasperation. Why was he so insistent on this? The baby hadn't been conceived on a Thursday, and even if she had been, he wouldn't have wanted their little girl named for that. "And you don't even pronounce it right. She'd be called Thuhsday by you and Giles and Thursday by everyone else. She'd end up with some kind of complex."

He didn't even dignify that with a verbal reply. He just gave her a look that clearly indicated his scorn. Well, okay, yeah, mocking his accent – which she could at least admit to herself was sexy as hell – had been kind of low and stupid, but still... It was a weird name no matter how it was pronounced.

She sighed again, this time in frustration. "Why are you so set on calling our daughter a weekday?"

"Because it's her name," he said. "'S what I named her while I was still chained to your bed an' is the only reason she's still alive. I named her – like the bloody masochistic idiot I am – and she was… real." He was quiet for a moment. He still seemed to be riding a mood, but it was mellowing a little. "She was real, and she was mine. So… I couldn't kill her."

Buffy let that sink in for a moment. Most people just weren't real to him, she knew that. The people who were…. Well, it was like the difference between someone's pet pet parrot and the chicken you got from a fast food joint. One was a beloved family friend and the other was a couple boxes of McNuggets. You didn't care about the McNuggets, you just ate them. She was pretty sure Spike would still love their girl even if they called her something different, but he'd bonded with her through the name.

"Why Thursday?" she asked. Maybe it wouldn't be so weird if she understood the reasoning behind, if there even was any. Sometimes, Spike was just weird.

He shrugged uncomfortably. "From the poem, inn't? Monday's Child." She stared at him blankly. Monday's Child? What did that have to do with naming a kid Thursday? He huffed an exasperated sigh and explained further. "Mother bloody Goose. Didn't your mum ever read to you at bedtime?"

At her continued blank look, he muttered about bloody colonials and started reciting. "Monday's child is fair of face; Tuesday's child is full of grace. Wednesday's child is full of woe; Thursday's child has far to go. Friday's child is loving and giving; Saturday's child works hard for its living. But the child that is born on the Sabbath day, is bonny and blithe, and good and gay."

"Huh." Buffy thought about the poem as they continued walking together. She'd never heard it before, but she liked it. It had sounded nice and oddly soothing as Spike had recited it. "I was born on a Monday."

His lips twitched into a small smile. "Fits." He tilted his head, considering. "'Course, most of 'em fit you. Peg you as Saturday, though, personally, way you work yourself."

"Not Sunday?" she teased.

"God, no," he said with a theatrical shudder, his expressive face squinching slightly in disgust at the thought. "Always thought Sunday's child sounded a right boring ponce."

There was another silence, this one much more companionable than at the beginning of their rounds. Her gaze kept straying to his boots, then traveling up the length of his deliciously bare legs to the kilt before lingering on the spot just above it. Distraction, she thought desperately. I need a distraction before I jump him in the middle of the street.

"Do you think it's true?" she asked. "The thing about what day you were born on."

"Dunno," he answered with a shrug. "Um, my mum, though, she always thought mine fit." Before she could ask what day he'd been born, he stopped and frowned. "Why do you keep lookin' at me like that?"

She blushed and hurried on, turning into the alley behind a bar vampires had started frequenting more now that the Bronze was closed for repairs. He followed her, one brow raised in a silent demand for an answer.

"I… um… You're really, really hot," she blurted. "And, and I, uh, need to rub your belly."

Spike's expression somehow managed to be flattered, confused, and irritated all at the same time. "Need to, eh? News flash for you, Slayer, I'm not your sodding poodle."

"I know that!" she snapped. "It's not like that. My… our… kid is inside of you, and, and I just need to touch you. Not, you know, like the kind of need where I'd cease to exist if I don't get to, but…."

He snorted in annoyed amusement. "Sorta like how I really need a bloody smoke from time to time?"

Being a non-smoker, she had no idea if it was quite the same, but she jumped on it. "Yeah, kind of like that."

"Sucks to be deprived o' that sort of thing, don't it?" he asked with a smirk. "But no worries, I can't actually bash you in the head if you try to indulge, now can I?"

Buffy winced. She'd kind of walked right into that, hadn't she? Spike had been helping her work on her instinct control through active meditation, but that didn't exactly erase everything she'd already done. She wished she'd just kept her mouth shut. She'd managed to get him into a good mood, and now everything was awkward.

He sighed and leaned against the wall, arm held out in invitation. "Come on, then," he grumbled in a resigned tone.

She snuggled against him, and he wrapped his arm around her. One of the things she'd discovered about him was that he was a hugger and a cuddler. Her mom and Dawn were on the receiving end of that more than she was, but she was starting to close the gap as they continued dating.

She slipped her hand up under his sweater, barely touching him until she rested her hand against his chest. Spike shivered slightly and nuzzled her hair as she slowly stroked her hand down his torso until she got to his lower belly. Her fingers splayed out as she gently rubbed the area. It felt… nice, touching him like that while he held her.

"So, what day were you born?" she murmured, her voice soft enough that it didn't ruin the moment.

Unfortunately, her slayer tinglies, (as opposed to her Spike snuggling tinglies,) informing her of an unknown vampire did ruin it. Particularly when followed by said vampire leading a drunk woman into their alley. With a low growl, Spike pulled away from her and darted towards the other vampire.

Buffy watched, but didn't attempt to stop him. She figured he just needed a good dose of violence. She was pretty sure he wasn't trying to do her job or protect her, both things that would have irritated the hell out of her. Considering a good slay always put him in a good mood, she was all for him getting as much of violence as he needed, so long as he eventually remembered to share.

The vampire moved at the last second, putting his potential victim between himself and Spike just as the platinum blond threw his first punch. He tried to pull it back, but his fist impacted with the woman's cheek hard enough to make them both scream in pain, Spike dropping to his knees and clutching his head.

Oh, shit, Buffy thought in dismay, pulling out a stake as she lunged at the vampire. She staked him immediately – not even taking time for a witty one-liner – before dropping to her knees beside Spike. He waved her away towards the woman, muttering curses in British and what she was pretty sure was a demon language.

She turned towards the near victim, wincing. Oooh, that's gotta hurt, she thought in sympathy. She wasn't a medical expert or anything, but the woman's cheek looked broken. Not fun, especially if you didn't have enhanced healing abilities. There was an odd, choked off sound, and Buffy glanced over her shoulder. Spike was staring at the woman in frightened horror.

She looked at the woman, then back at Spike, frowning slightly as she tried to figure out what was wrong. Was he worried she'd blame him for this? It had been an accident. She knew that. Irritation and anger started rising together. Why didn't he have more faith in her? She'd been trying, damn it!

She sighed heavily and rubbed her face. "I'm not mad at you, Spike. I know it was an accident. You were trying to save her life. I'm not exactly going to go off on you for trying to help someone."

He didn't say anything for a long moment or even acknowledging that she'd spoken. He just stared at the woman. Finally, he whispered, "Is… is she okay?"

Buffy stared at him, startled by the question. She knew he was trying, for her sake, to be a good person, but this was just… off somehow. Something was very wrong here.

"Um… she has a broken cheek, I think, but she should be okay. Probably." She had been a more or less normal girl until she was fifteen, but so much had happened since being called that she didn't really remember how healing worked for the average person on a personal level.

Spike looked like he was going to be sick. "I… I did that. I didn't mean to…. Why…?"

"Yeah, I know, I just said I knew it was accident," she said more sharply than she meant to. She'd been trying to be patient about his weird mood swings, but he didn't even seem to be listening to her right now. She felt like she was being blamed for blaming him for something she didn't blame him for, which was a confusing jumble of blame and not blame. "Are you even paying the least bit of attention to the words coming out of my mouth?"

"I don't know her," he said with an odd intensity. He was shaking slightly.

Well, duh, Buffy barely kept from saying out loud. I didn't think you did. His eyes were wide and slightly panicked, and the feeling that something very weird was going on got even stronger. Spike was freaked out, and it didn't actually seem to have anything to do with her.

"I don't know her," he insisted again. "Why do I…. I don't know her! She's nothing but a sodding happy meal on legs!"

"Okay," Buffy said slowly, cautiously shifting closer to him. "You don't know her. We've established that. There are lots of people you don't know in Sunnydale. It's not a big deal."

What the hell was going on? Had the woman accidentally groped him or something without Buffy noticing? Was this some kind of PTSD thing from the ritual? He was doing a lot better, but he still reacted badly if she startled him.

"It bloody well is a big deal!" he shouted, getting to his feet and starting to pace. "I hurt her! She should be nothing to me, but I hurt her, and I feel bloody guilty about it!"

Buffy paled, her eyes going wide as she finally understood. The way Spike had explained it, one of the things losing the soul meant for a vampire – or at least this particular vampire – was a sort of myopia when it came to people. If he got to know someone, they were close and in focus. They were a person to him. It didn't mean he wouldn't kill them, but if he liked the person, he'd at least feel bad about it. If he didn't know someone, they were far away and blurry, no more a person than a cow grazing in a distant pasture.

If he was feeling bad about accidentally punching a stranger while trying to save her life, there was only one explanation. Damn it, Willow, she thought, jaw and fists clenched in anger. Why the hell can't you ever just leave things alone?


...

Willow wasn't hard to find. After Spike had stormed out of the hospital in a snit of epic proportions, she'd said she was going to the Magic Box. That's where she was, along with Tara, Dawn, and Giles, all of them trying to find more information about Dawn. The only problem was, Willow insisted she hadn't done the ensouling spell on Spike. Since she would have needed two other people with her to do it, Buffy believed her.

Now Buffy was pacing the shop floor while they tried to figure out what was going on with Spike. She glanced over at him. He was sitting on the floor, huddled in the corner with his boots and socks off while he rubbed at his noticeably swollen ankles. There were a lot of things that he was going to get to experience that she was kind of jealous of, but the edema and backaches? Not so much.

She went over to him, keeping her movements slow and obvious so she didn't startle him, and sat down. She pulled his feet into her lap and started massaging his ankles – moving her hands upwards to work the settled fluid back into what passed for vampire circulation – while her thoughts spun around in circles. He was still kind of dazed and shocky, but still seemed to basically be himself. If the chip were to suddenly stop working, she didn't think he'd try to eat anyone – and not just because she didn't want him to – but other than that, he was just… Spike. A dazed and understandably shocked Spike.

Maybe he didn't actually have a soul. Maybe excessive guilt was just one of those pregnancy things. He was able to feel guilt when it came to someone he actually cared about. Maybe the screwed up hormones were making it sort of ooze over onto strangers.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Tara coming to kneel beside her, holding out a baggy of herb-filled capsules. "I… uh, was going to give you this before class tomorrow," she said with a shy smile. "It, it's the strengthened herbs to, to help you lactate." She glanced at Spike and her smile got wider, though a little wobbly. "I, I heard you named the baby Thursday. I l-like it."

Spike blinked at her and seemed to shake things off at least a bit. "Glad one of you birds has decent taste," he muttered.

He was talking again, which was a good sign. A quiet Spike was freaky and unnatural. Tara really had been a godsend through all of this. Freeing Spike, being willing to help her with the lactation thing, helping with Dawn while Mom had been in the hospital, stopping the argument at Christmas about the safety of bleaching roots by using magic to temporarily turn Spike's white…. The shy young woman really was incredible.

"Friday," Spike said suddenly. Buffy stared at him blankly. It was Wednesday, not Friday. And what did the day of the week have to do with anything? "The day I was born," he clarified. "It was Friday."

Friday. Friday's child is loving and giving, she remembered. His mom had thought it fit him. She felt like she'd been getting little glimpses of who he'd been as a human. Maybe she'd finally get to fully see him. She knew the soul was hurting him - or would be once the shock had worn off more - but….

"Buffy," Giles called out. There was an odd tone to his voice that she couldn't really place. "Are you quite certain that what Spike is experiencing is the return of his soul? The effects of the ritual are varied on the, uh, submissive partner based on species and gender, but there, there is no indication that ensoulment is one of those effects."

"'S not my soul," Spike said quietly. "Don't fit quite right, but feels… related." He hesitated a moment, only his expression indicating he had more to say. "I think…." He shook his head and looked directly into Buffy's eyes. "It's hers. Sprog has a soul."


...

Once the store was empty, Giles carefully poured out a shot of scotch. There was no denying it anymore. Buffy was falling in love with Spike. It was there for anyone to see. The way she'd been worried about the possibility of the return of his soul rather than unequivocally pleased. The look of tenderness on her face when she'd sat down on the floor with the vampire.

He knocked back the shot and poured another, thinking of when he'd suggested to Spike that the chip was an opportunity for good. Perhaps his timing had been off. Could Spike be turned towards good in a way that would last beyond the child's birth? Would he do it for Buffy, or would he try to drag the slayer down into the dark?

He drank and poured another. All he knew for certain was that his dear girl had fallen for another bloody vampire. Perhaps it is fated, he mused. Vampire and slayer. They are forever connected, predator and prey. Perhaps that was the real reason for the barbaric test the girls were put through on their eighteenth birthdays. Giles didn't know, but right now, he wasn't going to look for answers. He was going to get well and truly drunk. He could take a deeper look into the Watcher diaries after he sobered up.