Title: What Love Will Bring

Author: PrettyPoppy

Summary: After The First has been defeated, Buffy realizes she's in love with Spike. But how can she tell him? And how will the gang react this time around? Her life in turmoil, Buffy seeks to set things right, but finds it's not so easy. Deciding to face her past, she goes to LA and stirs up an old rivalry, leading to a volatile confrontation between Angel and Spike. S/B, with a little bit of A/C.

Notes: This was written after "Potential," so there are some vague Season 7 spoilers. Also, because we've never been told on the show whether or not Buffy knows about Connor, for the purposes of this story, she doesn't. A purely Spuffy fic - a little angsty and kind of romantic. Complete, in two parts.

Feedback: Yes, please. PrettyPoppy@worldnet.att.net

Distribution: If you want it, just let me know.

Disclaimer: Nope. I don't own Buffy, Spike, or any of the other characters in this story. Everything belongs to Joss, Mutant Enemy, and whoever else has a legal right to it.

Part One

A loud crash echoed through the dark room as Buffy threw the Gak demon though the air and into the table beside her bed. The table splintered and gave way - the demon wasn't so accommodating. Quickly, the large, scaly beast recovered and made for Buffy.

Buffy attacked with a swift kick to its midsection, once again sending the creature flying. This time it rose to its large, cloven feet slowly, and Buffy could see the faint glow of green fluid oozing from its stomach.

"Ewww, gross," Buffy exclaimed. "Well, at least now we know why it's called a Gak demon."

In as instant, the bulky beast bounded over the bed and headed for the open door.

"Not so fast mate," Spike said, as he kicked the door shut and came to stand between it and the demon. "So, you like playing with little girls, do ya? What about vampires?"

The demon let out a slow, sickening growl as it inched toward Spike, but just as he was about to land his first punch, the monster keeled over and fell dead at his feet. When he looked down at the floor, he saw one of the broken table legs sticking out of the demon's back.

"You could have at least let me get one punch in," Spike said, disappointed.

Buffy ignored him and bent down to get a closer look at the creature. The green goop was now seeping from every orifice and the smell was horrible.

"Well, now that's attractive," Spike said, standing over her. "I hope that carpet's Scotch-guarded. That stuff's never gonna come out."

Just as he said it, the ooze enveloped the prone carcass, and slowly disappeared, leaving no trace of its existence.

Buffy stood up and stalked toward the door in a determined stride. "Dawn!" she bellowed, as she opened the door.

"Yeah, Buff," her sister called from downstairs. "I'm going to Janice's. Wait till she hears that Rachel Jacobson was really a Gak demon. She'll never believe it."

Before Buffy could say another word, she heard the front door slam shut. She ran to the window to have the last word with her sister. "Dawn!"

Dawn swung around in the middle of the walkway.

"No more demons, you got that?"

"Yeah, whatever. I'll be back late, don't wait up."

Buffy sighed in irritation as Dawn skipped away down the street. "Great, just great," she said, turning back toward Spike. "Yeah, I brought a few vampires home in my time, but a Gak demon? That's it, no more sleepovers for Dawn."

Spike watched Buffy from across the room, captivated by the sight of her silhouetted in the window. Then, slowly, for the first time, he realized just where he was. "I should go," he said.

"What?" Buffy turned toward him, in surprise. "Why?"

In the past few months, ever since they had defeated The First, Spike had been a common presence in her life. He was always there, helping patrol, helping with the Scooby stuff. There were times when things were awkward between them, but Buffy really believed that they were working through that. It hurt her so much to know that Spike wasn't completely comfortable around her. It was strange really. After what he had tried to do to her last year, she should have been the one who was skittish. But she wasn't, not anymore. Not after what Spike had done for her. Not after he had, once again - or was it twice again? - suffered unspeakable torture and risked his unlife for her. He had suffered at the hands of The First for her sake, not to mention that demon in Africa that had granted him his soul. Was there anything he wouldn't do for her?

"It's getting late," he said lamely.

"Late? It's 9:30. Didn't you just get up about three hours ago?"

"Buffy," he began.

"Look, Spike," she took a few steps toward him, "you don't have to go. So Dawn's gone. It's not like we've never been alone before."

"That was before."

"I know. But things have changed. You don't have to be afraid of me." She moved closer to him, and reached out her hand to touch his chest.

"Buffy, don't." Spike could hear her heart beating faster. Her hand against his body was so warm. In an instant, images of the two of them together flashed through his mind. He could remember every second of it - every kiss, every touch. He had wanted her for so long, but he knew it was wrong, knew things could never be the way they had once been. What had happened between them in the past had nearly destroyed them both. He couldn't bring himself to risk hurting her like that again, no matter how much he wanted her.

"Buffy, luv. Let it go." He tried to pull away from her, but she wouldn't let him.

"Spike." She looked up at him with huge hazel eyes. He could have drowned in those eyes. "Stay with me."

"I . . ."

She put a finger to his lips. "Shhh. Please, Spike," she whispered against his lips. "Make love to me."

The room was beginning to sway, and Spike felt like he would die if he didn't kiss her. He leaned closer, giving her permission to press her lips to his.

Buffy kissed him tenderly, sweetly. She ran her hands up along his chest and around his neck, pulling him closer. He kissed her back, tentatively at first and then with a soul-searing hunger. Buffy pulled away for the briefest of moments. She was afraid he might run away, but she wanted things to be perfect. She walked around him and closed and locked the door. She didn't want Dawn or Willow coming in and accidentally finding them. Then, she went to the windows and drew the curtains tightly shut, so that in the morning, Spike might still be lying there beside her.

She returned to him and, taking his hand, led him toward the bed. She gazed up at him with almost innocent eyes, as she slowly began to undress him. Spike caught his breath as she reached for the hem of his black T-shirt, her fingers gently skimming the bare flesh beneath. She pulled the shirt over his head and stared into his crystal blue eyes. She didn't move after that, and Spike realized it was his turn.

He lowered his eyes and let them travel down the length of her body. God she was beautiful! Why would she ever want him? He almost pulled away, but something inside of him wouldn't allow it. He reached for her slowly, first catching a lock of her long blonde hair, then caressing her cheek. With light fingers, he lowered the strap of her blouse, and gently kissed her bare shoulder. Buffy shuddered with the sensation, a new wave of heat coursing through her body. She drew him to her, and pulled him down onto the bed.

Spike kissed her neck, reveling in the sensation of the blood rushing beneath the surface. She was alive for him. She wanted him. He could feel her arousal, smell it, taste it.

Buffy moaned as his hand slowly slid up her skirt and came to rest on her inner thigh. "Spike."

He pulled away for a moment and looked into her cloudy, dark eyes. "Buffy, are you sure?"

She put her hand on his cheek, reassuringly. "Yes. I want you . . . William."

She saw a look of pure shock cross his gaze, then disbelief, then unspoken joy. So much like the look he had given her when she had rescued him from The First. There were unshed tears glistening behind his soulful blue eyes. She heard a small sob escape his throat as he leaned closer and kissed her.

He lowered her to the bed, and a thrill shot though Buffy. She had wanted this for so long. Wanted to be near him, to feel him beside her, in her. To be one with him again. It had been so long.

With a slow, building passion, he made love to her. It was the most exquisite feeling Buffy had ever experienced. He revered her, worshipped her body with such love and such care, she nearly cried herself.

When Spike finally entered her, Buffy opened her eyes and locked them with his. She wanted to see him, needed to see him. He was here and he was real, and the love in his eyes was enough to make Buffy forget about the rest of the world.

As the pace intensified, her eyes slowly drifted shut. He began kissing her again, her neck, her breasts. He was devouring her. She could feel him all around her. He was consuming her, body and soul. Buffy let out a little cry of shear desperation. She needed him, she wanted him. He was her everything. How had she ever thought she could live without him? "Spike," she whispered, as she clutched his head to her neck, her fingers playing through his hair. "Spike." Buffy could feel the tears beginning to well behind her eyes. Oh, God, Buffy nearly let out a sob, as the truth finally washed over her in a wave. She loved him! She did! She had spent the last two years denying it - hell, the last six years. Deep down she had always known, but she had never been able to admit it before. Not even to herself. She loved him. She loved Spike. Buffy nearly cried out for joy.

"Buffy," she heard Spike whisper her name as he started to come. He exploded inside of her, sending Buffy over the edge herself. Oh God, she had never felt anything like it. A fire raced through her whole being, a spark, a light. It was amazing! Spike was amazing. The fact that she loved him was amazing. It was all too much to take.

Slowly, Spike moved away and lay down beside her. He wrapped Buffy in his arms and pulled her close. In spite of the wild beating of her heart, Buffy easily drifted off to sleep.

* * *

It was early the next morning when Buffy finally awoke. She stretched out lazily on her bed and let out a contented yawn. She tried to snuggle closer to Spike, but she couldn't find him.

Buffy's eyes shot open and she quickly sat up in bed. She was alone. She wrapped the sheet around her and got out of bed. The clothes she had worn the night before were folded neatly on the chair beside her. Spike's clothes were gone.

Buffy went to the closet and pulled on a robe, then she crossed the hallway to the bathroom, looking for Spike. He wasn't there either. She was trying desperately not to jump to conclusions. Just because a guy wasn't in bed beside you the morning after, didn't mean he was gone for good, right? So Angel hadn't been there when she woke up that first time, but . . . Buffy froze, a shock of pure terror coursing through her body. Her knees felt weak and she felt like she was going to fall through the floor. "No," she said to herself resolutely. "He is not Angel. There is no gypsy curse. And Spike still has his soul."

Buffy made her way through the hall and down the stairs, leaning on the wall for support. She entered the kitchen to find Dawn, still in her pajamas, pouring a bowl of Count Chocula.

"Do you think he's really a Count?" Dawn asked off-handedly. "I mean, is that just an honorary title, or do you think he was born – or, well, sired – into it? Really Buffy, how many Counts have you slain, other than Dracula?"

Buffy didn't hear a word her sister was saying. Now she was sure. Spike was gone. She was still in shock.

"Hello? Ground control to Major Buffy?"

"What?" Buffy looked at her kid sis, as if seeing her there for the first time.

"Is everything okay? Did that demon last night do something unspeakable to you?"

Buffy nearly choked. "No!" she blurted out, a bit too emphatically.

"Okayyyyyy. But you're acting really strange. Are you sure you're feeling all right?"

"Yeah Dawnie. I'm fine."

Dawn gave her a look that said she didn't believe her.

"Really."

"Really, really?"

"Really, really." Buffy smiled in spite of the agony in her heart. "Now go. Do whatever it was that I just interrupted you from doing."

"Okay." Dawn bounded off into the living room to watch TV, after all, even a sixteen year old was still allowed to like Saturday morning cartoons.

Buffy sighed and turned to go upstairs and get dressed. She needed to see Spike, but she'd wait until later in the day. She needed to think. Hopefully, that was all he needed too.

* * *

Buffy went to Spike's crypt just after dusk. After things had gotten back to normal in Sunnydale, Spike had moved back into the old crypt. It had needed a lot of work after what Riley had done to it, but Xander had grudgingly agreed to help - at Buffy's very persuasive request. At first, Buffy had tried to convince Spike to stay with Xander, or to find a real place of his own, but he seemed to want to stay in the old place. Whether it was out of self-loathing, self-pity or nostalgia, she wasn't really sure. Whichever it was, she knew he hadn't wanted to bunk with any of the Scoobies. He had wanted his own space.

Buffy pushed open the door of the crypt and stepped inside, afraid of what she might find. The first floor was empty, not a sign of the vampire anywhere. Cautiously, she crossed the floor and lowered herself down the ladder to the lower level. Still no Spike. Buffy turned around, her heart racing. If he had left - really left, for good - she would kill him!

* * *

Spike was wandering through one of the many cemeteries of Sunnydale. Not his cemetery of course, he wasn't sure he was ready to face Buffy yet. At least this way, he had a fighting chance. There were now more than a dozen cemeteries in good old SunnyD, so maybe he wouldn't be found so easily.

Who the hell was he kidding? She'd find him. She always found him. If it wasn't her spidey senses at work, it was that strange attraction that had always brought them together.

Spike sat down on a nearby tombstone, pulled out a cigarette and lit it. He'd been trying to lose himself in patrolling for the last hour, but the Hellmouth had been rather dormant of late – always was in the summer - and not one Big Bad - not even one Little Bad - had crossed his path all night.

He shoved his lighter into the pocket of his duster and cursed under his breath. Did everything have to remind him of Buffy? His lighter? His duster? He remembered leaving the coat at her house that fateful night over a year ago. He'd honestly thought that she had gotten rid of the thing – burned it, gave it to the Salvation Army - or something. He hadn't expected to get it back. But there it was, one morning, two months earlier, draped over the back of the chair in his crypt. Buffy had never mentioned it to him, but he knew she had been the one to return it. Where it had been for the past year, he didn't know. There had been a time when he'd liked to think that she had kept it to feel close to him, that it had been sitting hidden in her closet, a secret reminder of his presence in her life. But now, such thoughts were more painful than comforting. He had to stop thinking about her.

Spike exhaled a long, slow stream of smoke. Last night had been the most amazing night of his entire existence - his life and his unlife. He couldn't remember ever having been so happy. But it was a mistake. As much as he loved Buffy, he knew it was wrong. After everything that had happened, everything he had done, he could never go back to loving her that way. He could love her from afar, but he had no place in her life, not like that. She didn't love him. She had told him enough times for him to finally believe it. Whatever last night had been, it hadn't been a declaration of love. Yes, Buffy felt something for him - and God, last night it had felt like love - but he knew it wasn't possible. How could she ever love a creature as troubled, tormented and evil as he? Whatever he had done to redeem himself wasn't enough. It never could be enough. He had hurt too many people over the years, hurt Buffy too many times. If they continued like this, they would only end up hurting each other like last time. Buffy would never love him, and eventually everything would again come crashing down.

Spike heard a rustling somewhere in the bushes. He snuffed out his cigarette on the tombstone and stood, ready for a fight. He saw someone approaching - a beautiful girl with flaxen hair and hazel eyes. She had a stake in hand, and was carelessly swatting at the greenery as she walked by.

"Didn't think you'd find me so quickly."

"Liar."

"Yeah, well, you know, us evil dead things have a tendency to do that."

"Stop it."

"Stop what?" he asked slyly.

"You know what. I want to talk to you. About last night."

Spike had the sudden urge to play this drama for all it was worth. To tell her that last night meant nothing. To drive her so far away from him that he'd never have the chance to hurt her again. But he couldn't.

"Right," he sighed, sitting back down on the grave marker.

Buffy took a step closer to him. "Why did you leave me?"

"I had to."

"Really? Was there someone there with a gun to your head? A stake to your heart?"

"Didn't have ta be." He looked up at her. "I couldn't stay. I shouldn't have stayed as long as I did. What happened last night was wrong." He got up and began walking away from her.

"No it wasn't!"

"Yes Buffy, it was." He turned back to look at her. "Don't you get it? Don't you see? This is never going to work. I love you." His voice trembled, ever so slightly. "But you, you are never going to love me."

"Spike."

"It's all right, luv. It's the way it's supposed to be. We can't be together. I'll just hurt you again."

"No."

"Yes!" he said emphatically. "Just like last time." He drew up closer to her. "Buffy, I love you. And I'm not going to hurt you, not again."

"And what is this?" she asked. "Do you think this doesn't hurt?"

"Not the way it would."

"Damn it!" She brought the stake up to his chest. "I should stake you right now."

"If you like," he said, his eyes deep with sincerity. "It's up to you pet."

"Damn you." She lowered the stake.

"Already there, luv."

"So what? This means you're just out of my life for good now? Bye, bye Buffy?"

"No. You know I'd never leave you."

"Really? Because that seems to be what you're doing right now."

"Look, I'll be here if you need me. You know where to find me. Anything evil comes up, I'm right there. I'll keep patrolling, do whatever you need. But there can't be anything between us. There won't be anything between us. That's just the way it has to be."

Spike turned and walked back toward his own cemetery. Buffy watched him go, unable to speak. He had left her. Just like that.

Buffy steeled her shaking limbs and took a seat on a nearby bench. What did she think she was doing? Why hadn't she told him? All she had to do was tell him the truth, tell him that she loved him. Why was that so difficult? Why couldn't she let him know how she felt?

Buffy let out a strangled sob as she picked herself up and headed back home. So, Spike had dumped her? Worse, souled Spike had dumped her. How was she ever going to make him see? How would she ever find the strength to tell him the truth?

* * *

Several weeks later, Buffy was standing in the kitchen, trying to fry herself some bacon and eggs. "Blech." It looked awful, and not just because Buffy was a notoriously bad cook. No, the sight of the frying pig's meat made her feel ill. Buffy flipped open the lid of the garbage pail and dumped the eggs and bacon inside. "There's gotta be something in this house to eat."

Buffy riffled through the fridge, looking for anything appetizing. Leftover Pizza? No. The goat cheese Anya had left? No. There was nothing she thought she could eat and keep down. And then she saw it, in the back of the fridge. A container of pig's blood.

Ever since Spike had come back, she had started stocking pig's blood again. It was kind of a necessary evil in Sunnydale - the one place on earth where the butchers didn't look at you funny when you ordered up whole pints of the stuff. Never in her life had she been tempted to try it, but today she couldn't fight back the craving for it.

Buffy poured some into her favorite mug and heated it in the microwave. A little, niggling voice in the back of her mind kept asking her, "What the bloody hell has gotten into you?" But she didn't have an answer. Maybe it was Spike missage. Major Spike missage. She was already beginning to talk like him in her head. Bloody hell, indeed! Maybe she just needed to feel connected with him.

He hadn't been around much in the past few weeks. Some nights he would drop by, just to check in. He seemed to always make sure that Buffy wasn't alone when he did. He obviously didn't want to be alone with her. They had seen each other a few nights out on patrol too, but those encounters had been painfully brief. He wouldn't talk anything but shop with her. And she was damn tired of it. But what could she do? She still couldn't find the words to tell him the truth. She was beginning to fear that when he finally heard them, he wouldn't believe her. What if he thought she was lying to him, to get him to stay with her? Worse, what if he thought she was lying to herself?

Finally, the bell on the microwave dinged, and Buffy pulled out her warm mug of pig's blood. Wrinkling up her nose, she took a quick sniff of the pungent aroma and then downed her first taste. She nearly gagged.

"Okay. Maybe it needs something." What went good with pig's blood? Spike sometimes liked his with Wheetabix or burba weed. But Wheetibix was the kind of thing Giles stocked in his pantry, not Buffy, and ever since Willow had returned from England, they had stopped storing all non-essential magic stuff in the house. So she didn't have much choice. Apparently it was going to be pig's blood, straight up.

She sat on one of the stools around the island, and settled in with her mug. She tried again. This time, her throat was a little more accustomed to the strong, musky taste of the liquid, and it felt kind of nice sliding down her throat, all thick and warm. It stuck to her ribs and left her feeling all cozy and contented. She pulled the morning paper over to her and began to flip through, looking for the comics page. Just then, Willow walked in.

"Hey Buff."

"Hey." Buffy picked up her hand and waved at Willow, too enthralled in the funnies to pick her head up.

She sensed Willow walk passed her, to look through one of the cabinets. "Say, Buffy?" Willow asked, tentatively.

"Yeah?" Buffy looked up at her.

"Um, what's that you got there in your mug?"

"Uh," Buffy was at a loss for a moment, but quickly recovered, "just my morning cup to get me up and about my day."

"Your morning cup of pig's blood?" Willow asked.

"Well," Buffy frowned, "I think we were out of coffee."

"Right. Buffy, are you sure you're ok? You don't look well."

"Me? I'm fine. Fine, fine, fine, fine, fine. Perfectly fine Buffy."

"Because you're looking a little pale."

"Oh, that? It's nothing. I think maybe I have a little flu bug or something. Maybe it's just a cold." Buffy shrugged it off.

"Buffy, you don't get sick." Willow sat down beside her and put her hand to her friend's forehead. "Maybe we should call Giles, or take you to the hospital."

"What? No. I'm fine. And it's not like I've never been sick before. You remember that time, during my second year here, when I had that horrible cold and ended up . . ."

"In the hospital?" Willow finished. "Yeah, I remember." The redheaded witch stood up beside her friend and took a step back. "Let me look at you. Let me see if I can get a sense of what's wrong."

Ever since Willow had connected with that English coven, she had an amazing power for being able to almost become one with the earth. She had once described to Buffy how she had seen its teeth. If anyone could connect with her, and suss out what was wrong, it was Willow.

It didn't take long for her to feel something. In less than a minute, Willow's eyes shot open, and the normally fair-skinned girl actually grew a shade paler. "Uh, Buffy? Is there something you want to tell me?"

"Nooo. Why?" Buffy asked, slightly alarmed.

"Are you sure? I mean, I know last time we were all less than supportive, but if something's going on, you can tell us. There's no judgement. No blame. Really."

"Will, what are talking about?" Buffy scoffed as she made her way to the fridge for a refill.

"Buffy, I know you've been lonely lately, and I know Spike hasn't been around much, but I'd like to think that even if you were seeing someone you didn't think we'd approve of, you'd still tell us."

"Seriously Will, there's no one. What on earth would make you think that there was?"

"Well, the odd behavior, the sickness, the fact that you're kind of, sort of, I don't know . . . pregnant?"

"What?" Buffy nearly choked on the blood. Again. "Wait a minute. You think I'm pregnant?"

"Who's pregnant?" Xander asked, as he breezed through the back door.

"Oh, no one," Willow said. "Dawn's lab rat in biology class."

"Really? 'Cause I don't remember dissecting any rodents."

"Yeah, well, new school, new curriculum," she breezed.

Buffy just stood there in shock, staring at the mug with glazed eyes.

"Hey Buff," Xander called, from his seat at the island, "it's not the end of world. I'm sure the daddy lab rat will marry her, after the paternity test comes in. Don't sweat it."

Buffy looked at him as if not comprehending a word he had said. The word "pregnant" was still pounding through her brain. Of course it wasn't possible. Spike was the only guy she had been with in a good three years. Still, the word resounded through her mind.

Xander took one look at her and nearly fell off his stool. "Wow, Buff. Say it ain't so."

"It ain't," she said. "It isn't. Willow, this is absolutely ridiculous! Don't you think if there had been someone, I would tell you guys? After what happened last time?"

"I know Buffy, I'm sorry," Willow said, forlornly. "I didn't mean to accuse."

"So there's been no one?" Xander asked. "Not even the evil undead?"

Before Buffy could answer Willow spoke up. "Please, Xander, the evil undead do not beget."

"I don't know. Would explain why Spike hasn't been around in a while."

"Would you two stop it?" Buffy interrupted them.

"Sorry, Buff. I wasn't trying to make things worse."

"Will," Buffy said more calmly. "There has to be some mistake. I cannot be pregnant. It's physically impossible."

"Well, I could be wrong," Willow said, unconvincingly. "Let me try again." She closed her eyes for a moment and took Buffy's hands. "Okay, just relax."

Buffy tensed at the remark.

"Okay, at least try to relax?"

Willow worked her mojo once again, this time a slight smile crossed her lips. "I think it's smiling at me."

"That's it!" Buffy let her hands drop. "Willow, there is not a baby growing inside of me. Something is horribly wrong."

"There is Buffy."

"Hey, maybe it's an alien," Xander suggested. "Have you had any strange dreams lately, or woken up in any cornfields?"

Willow took Buffy's hand again. "Whatever it is, it is human. I saw it. Ten little fingers and ten little toes. An absolutely perfect and beautiful baby. I can even tell you the sex if you like."

"No. Willow," Buffy finally conceded. "How is this even possible?"

"I don't know, but that's what the Internet - and of course Giles - are for. I'm sure we'll find something."

Buffy put her hand over her still-flat stomach. A baby? How was it even possible? How on earth . . . ? Oh god, she nearly cried, what if it wasn't Spike's? It had to be of course, even though that was impossible. She'd die if it wasn't.

"Come on," Willow said, as she went to lead Buffy into the living room.

"Wait," Buffy pulled back. "Willow, you could see everything about this baby, right? What it looked like, it's sex?"

Willow nodded.

"How old is it? How many weeks?"

Willow thought for a second. "From what it told me . . . "

"Told you?" Xander interjected.

"From what it told me, it's about five weeks old. Let's see," she went to the calendar up on the kitchen wall and flipped back to the previous page. " I'd say it was probably conceived - or planted, as the case may be - somewhere around here." She pointed right to the very Friday that Buffy had spent with Spike. "Why?"

"Oh, no reason." Buffy felt a little queasy.

"Did something happen around then? Anything unusual?"

Buffy took a steadying breath. She had an idea. "Will, I need you to do something for me. One more little favor before we go hitting the books."

"Sure. You name it. Anything for Buffy."

"Do you think . . .do you think it knows how it was conceived? Is there some way to access that kind of information from the . . . " Buffy faltered, "baby itself?"

"Well we can try. Couldn't hurt. Maybe you should sit down for this one though. You look like you're about to pass out."

Willow, Xander and Buffy went into the living room. Buffy sat down on the couch with her best friend beside her.

"Ok, this won't hurt a bit."

Willow took Buffy's hand once again and closed her eyes. This time they stayed closed for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, just when Buffy thought she could stand the suspense no longer, Willow let out a shocked gasp.

"Will?" Buffy asked, a little concerned.

Willow's eyes remained shut. A look of shocked disbelief on her face. "Oh Buffy . . . Buffy . . . .wow! I mean I figured he was . . . but wow!"

"You figured who was what?" Xander interjected.

Willows eyes snapped open, and she dropped Buffy's hand. "Okay remind me to do a forgetting spell later on."

"What? What was it? Aliens? Was there probing?" Xander wanted to know.

"Oh, there was probing all right, just not the kind you're thinking of. Wow Buffy . . . I mean wow!"

Buffy was starting to blush. Obviously Willow had seen her and Spike together.

"So, you gonna clue us in Will, or do we have to buy the book?"

"Well," she said, "maybe Buffy should tell you."

"It's true then?" Buffy asked.

"Yeah." Willow shook her head affirmatively. "Too bad Giles isn't still keeping those Watcher's journals. This one's for the books."

"This one what? Hey, will someone please tell me what's going on?"

"It's Spike," Buffy said, from her seat on the couch.

"Spike?" Xander asked, dumbfounded. "As in . . . Spike? Spike the evil bloodsucking fiend? Spike the vampire who's incapable of producing live offspring? That Spike?"

"One and the same." Willow said.

"And you saw . . . ?" He pointed to Willow. "Oh, I think I'm going to be sick."

"How are you going to tell him?" Willow asked, ignoring Xander's dramatics.

"I . . . I don't even know. I think I'm going to need some time with this one. You guys won't tell anyone, right? Can we just keep this between us, at least for now?"

"What about Dawn?" Willow asked.

"Even Dawn. I just need some time to figure a few things out."

"All right Buffy. Whatever you need. But I'm still going to do some research on this. I'll keep Giles out of it for now, though."

"Thanks Will." Buffy gave her a quick hug. "Xander?"

"Look, I don't even want to think about how this is possible. Believe me, I won't be telling anyone."

"Thanks guys. You're the best."

* * *

Buffy didn't know how she had gotten there, but there she was, standing in front of Spike's crypt. Somehow her addled mind and agile feet had gotten her there, but she couldn't remember how. Her mind was a fury of turbulent emotions, all singing and buzzing at once. Spike's baby. She was pregnant with Spike's baby. The thought was too mind-blowing to fully comprehend. She wanted to tell him, to tell everyone, to shout it from the rooftops. She loved him and she would bring his child into the world. But she couldn't. She couldn't celebrate, or even fully comprehend what it all meant, until she had told him. And that was something she was having difficulty bringing herself to do.

In all her years of being a slayer, she had never faced a more daunting task. What if Spike didn't want her? What if this was the last thing on earth he ever wanted to hear? What if he didn't believe it? Even she was having trouble believing it was true. What if he just scoffed and sent her away? Buffy didn't think she could handle that. She knew that he loved her, but other people had loved her and they had still left. Her mother, her father, . . . Angel. Things were always changing. Nothing was forever on the Hellmouth. What if Spike wouldn't have her?

Buffy steadied her screaming nerves and raised her fist to knock on the crypt door. Knock? Oh god, he'd know something was up if she knocked. She pushed open the door and skipped inside, trying her best to present a perfect air of casual calm.

"Slayer," Spike said from his chair in front of the TV. He had one leg draped over the arm and his back to her. "What can I do you for? Got some Big Bad that needs killing?"

"No," she said, coming to stand between him and the television set, shutting it off with a quick flick of her wrist, "I think I'll let you live today." She caught herself. "Or remain undead. Whatever."

"Well," he said, craning around her to see the blank screen, "do you think you could wait until "Passions" isn't on?"

"It's the middle of the night. Nowhere in this world is "Passions" still on."

"I taped it. 'Course, it hasn't been the same since Timmy's been gone, but - "

"Spike," she snapped, in obvious frustration as she crossed to the other side of the room, forcing him to get up from his chair and follow her. "Look," she said, stopping just in front of the sarcophagus that was still the main feature of the upper level of his crypt. "I have to talk to you. There's something I have to tell you."

"Nope," he shook his head, taking out a cigarette and lighting it. "Not up for a long heart-to-heart luv."

"This isn't a heart-to-heart," she said, grabbing the cigarette from his fingers, dropping it to the floor and snuffing it out with the toe of her boot. "It's something else."

Spike's eyes narrowed and Buffy watched him with trepidation. Slowly, he began circling her, watching her with the eyes of a predator, all of his senses keen and aware.

"What?" she finally asked.

"Something different about you. Don't know what it is. Something in your scent."

Another time around and then he stopped, stopped right in front of her, his eyes staring at her strangely. There was something cold and disbelieving in his gaze. "There's two of you."

Buffy just stared at him, unable to speak.

He circled her one more time for good measure, and then came to rest with his hands on the sarcophagus, holding him up for support. He laughed to himself - a cold, heartless little laugh. "Maybe it's been a long time, but I've been a vampire long enough to know the difference between a woman with child, and one without. I remember that scent. The sound of two heartbeats - not one - beating in the same body. The way the blood rushes."

"Spike."

He turned his head toward her, his face over his shoulder, but he wouldn't look at her. "Do you love him?"

"Yes," she said, her voice barely a whisper.

"Good." He inhaled an unneeded breath. "I swear, if he ever hurts you, I will rip out his still-beating heart and give it to you on a platter! You have my word."

"It's not your word that I want," she said, as she took a step closer.

Finally he looked at her. "Does he love you?"

"Yes." She smiled. "With all his heart and with all his soul." She took another step. He didn't seem to notice. She could see his mind sorting through all the new information. But the truth wasn't dawning on him.

"Is he human?"

"Umm, not so much."

"Oh, god, a demon luv?! I will kick its ass."

Buffy smiled at that, unable to help herself.

"Is it someone I know?" he asked, all seriousness again.

"Yes." Another step.

"Tell me."

And another. Buffy stood just inches from Spike, still he seemed unaffected by her nearness. She knew she was breaking his heart. She knew he thought he couldn't possibly be the father, being a vampire and all. She had to tell him.

"Tell me his name," he said, his voice raw with emotion. "Go ahead. You've always wanted to drive a stake through my heart."

Instinctively, Buffy brought her fingers up to trace a light pattern on his chest, right over the place where his heart should have beat. She couldn't bring herself to look up at him as she gently traced a circle over the soft fabric of his shirt. "His name," she said, her breath catching in her throat, as she raised her eyes to his, "it's William."

Spike stared at her a moment, his mind a blank. "I don't know anyone named Wi—" The word died on his lips. "No," he said, his dark eyes pulling away from hers. "It's not possible." He tore himself away from her, needing to escape her nearness, needing to clear his mind.

"I know," she said softly.

"Not possible!" he said to himself, oblivious to anything but the ramblings of his own mind. "Vampire, remember?" He turned to her, looking for some confirmation. "Evil undead and all, right? Dead seed? Cannot produce live offspring? This is bloody impossible! Are you sure?"

"Sure that I'm pregnant, or sure you're the evil, undead father?"

He gave her a look that said he wanted to strangle her.

"Right." She shook her head affirmatively. "Don't make fun of the evil undead when life and death are at stake. Never really been good at that."

"Buffy," he growled.

"Yes, I'm sure." She decided to behave, for his sake.

"And you're sure it's mine? I mean . . ."

"So what? Now I'm the tramp of Sunnydale, CA? Slutty the Vampire Slayer?"

"That's not what I meant," he said. "This is the Hellmouth, pet. Any number of bleedin' things could have happened to make you pregnant. Curses, spells, spell-wielding demons, demon-wielding curses . . . ."

"Aliens." Buffy supplied.

"What?" He gave her a sidelong glance. "You've been listening to Xander now?"

"Well," she looked at the top of her boots for a second, "he did seem to think it was a good possibility."

Spike snickered.

"But Willow says it's human. She sort of connected with it." Buffy looked up to meet his eyes, the love she felt for him clearly evident in her gaze, if he would just see it. "It's human. Ten little fingers and ten little toes."

Spike stared at her. Unable to speak, a gasp of unneeded breath caught somewhere deep in his chest. God, it was unbelievable. How was it even possible? Vampires didn't . . .

Spike stopped. Something inside of him caved in on itself and he felt the floor sink beneath his feet.

"Buffy." He turned and took a step away from her. "There's something I have to tell you." He sensed her watching him, but didn't know how to continue. He looked up at her, his blue eyes connecting with her hazel ones for the briefest moment, before breaking away again. "This has happened before. A vampire . . . one other vampire, has been known to have fathered a human child."

"And the bad news?" she asked, waiting for him to continue.

"Is not that easy to relate, luv. I don't want to be the one to have to do this. Guess it's only fitting," he mumbled to himself.

"What's only fitting?" She was starting to sound annoyed.

"The other vampire," he smiled ruefully. "I guess it's got something to do with having a soul. Don't know really. Haven't had mine that long. Maybe that's it. Or maybe The Powers That Be got a damn good sense of humor."

"What are you talking about?"

"The other vampire, luv. He has a soul."

"But, that's not possible. As far as we know, only you and An—" Buffy's face fell, and her eyes became distant as her mind tried to wrap around what he had said. "Who?" was all that escaped her lips.

Spike couldn't bring himself to tell her. He couldn't bear to inflict that kind of pain on her. Let her think it was Cordelia, let her think it was some girl Angel met in LA. There was just something about it being Darla that he knew was going to tear at Buffy's heart.

"Spike, tell me," she said, after an interminable silence.

Still he didn't speak.

Buffy's mind whirled, trying to make some sense of it all, trying to find some mental footing to keep from drowning. Finally, she latched onto the first solid thought that permeated her brain. "Cordelia."

"No." He finally spoke.

"It can't be worse than Cordelia."

"Buffy, don't do this to yourself." He took a step closer wanting to comfort her. Why the hell couldn't he just have told her it was some LA bint she'd never heard of?

She pulled away. "I have to know."

He shook his head in obvious frustration, but there was nothing for it. "Darla." The word was barely audible.

"Excuse me?"

"Dar—la," he said, loud enough for the corpses in the next crypt to hear.

She shook her head slowly from side to side, in pure denial. "Nooo."

"Yes, Buffy."

Her lips moved to speak, but her mouth refused to utter any audible words.

"She and Angel, had a child. A boy. She died - a second time - giving birth to him."

She finally found her voice and was able to form a coherent sentence. "How long have you known?"

"Long enough. Word travels fast in the demon world. Don't have to be in LA to know what's going on." He looked at her with a mix of concern and trepidation, hurting for her, and afraid she would run off on him at any moment. "How could I tell you? If Peaches didn't, what was the point?"

Unthinkingly, Buffy slowly drifted toward him and allowed herself to be wrapped in his strong, cold arms. He stroked her hair lovingly, and held her for the longest time, wishing he could take some of the hurt away, wishing she didn't still love Angel so much.

Then, something hit him. "Wait a minute," he said, pulling away from her. "You said you loved him."

"What?" Buffy asked, a little stunned by his sudden question.

"You said you loved him. The father. I asked you if you loved him, and you said yes."

Buffy nodded up at him, wordlessly, her eyes never leaving his.

"Buffy?" he asked in disbelief.

"Yes, Spike. I love you. I do."

If he hadn't have known it was impossible, Spike would have sworn his heart had started beating again. He searched her eyes, desperately trying to comprehend what was happening. Did she really love him? How could she say it if she didn't?

"Spike?"

"Yeah?" he asked, finally snapping back to reality.

"Are you all right?"

"Do you mean it? Really? I mean . . .?"

Before he could finish, Buffy pulled him to her and kissed him. "Yes," she said, when she finally let him go. "I mean it."

A bittersweet smile pulled at his lips. He had waited so long to hear those words, to hear her say that she loved him. He had waited so long, that he had honestly stopped believing he would ever hear them. And now, now to hear them said a moment after she had nearly cried over Angel, was almost too much for him to bear. A joy and blessing, but bitterly painful. Apparently, he would never replace Angel in her affections. Never.

Finally, he pulled away. "I should walk you home."

* * *

They walked the streets of Sunnydale in silence. Neither one knowing what to say. Finally, they reached the back porch of the Summers' home, a porch Spike knew very well. Buffy unlocked the door and turned to look at him, her hand still on the knob.

"Well," he said, pushing his hands deep into the pockets of his duster, in an uncertain shrug, "I should go then." He turned to leave.

"Spike."

His name on her lips. It stopped him cold, like nothing else ever could.

"Do you want to come in?"

He turned to look at her. "Maybe I shouldn't."

"Why?" She seemed slightly confused.

Was he really going to let jealousy ruin this for him? Was he really going to walk away from the best thing that had ever happened to him, just because she would never love him the way he loved her? Couldn't he love enough for the both of them?

Spike mounted the porch steps, and leaned back against the railing. "Buffy, is this what you want?"

"What do you mean?"

"Soddin' hell, what do I mean?" he mumbled to himself. "I mean this. The baby. Me. Is this what you really want?"

She closed the door and moved to stand just inches in front of him. "Yes, it is." She took his hands.

He pulled away. "Have you thought about it? Really thought about it? What your life's going to be like now? You're the Slayer. How are you supposed to be the Slayer with a baby in tow? You are entitled to a life, but are you sure this is what you want? Now?"

He could sense Buffy tense. She seemed to be expecting this. "Look, Spike. If you don't want this, I understand."

"Don't . . . ? Buffy, I'm worried about you, not me. It doesn't matter what I want. You're the one that matters."

"As if this has nothing to do with you?"

"That's not what I meant," he said, clearly exasperated. "I just don't want you to go through with this because you feel you have to - because you feel it's the right thing to do, or because you think it's your only chance. I don't want you settling for me if you want more."

"Where is this coming from?"

"I know how hurt you were about Angel. If this is some way to make it feel like you've won, like you've shown him . . . "

"Is that what you think of me? You think I'd tell you that I love you to get back at Angel? That's just sick."

"Yeah well, polite has never really been my strong suit."

Buffy walked up to him with determination, a fire burning behind her eyes. "I told you that I love you because I do. Whatever I felt for Angel is long in the past. Yes, I was hurt. Yes, for the briefest moment I felt a pang of betrayal, or jealousy, or regret, or whatever you want to call it. But it has nothing to do with how I feel about you. It doesn't take anything away from how I feel about you. I love you Spike. All of you. The good and the bad, the man and the demon. It doesn't matter to me. What I felt for Angel was passionate, and romantic," he tried to pull away from her, but she grabbed his sleeve, "and fleeting. I was young when I met him. Sixteen! I didn't even know myself then. But I do now. Now I know what's important, and I know what I want." She reached up and kissed him, deeply, passionately. Finally, she pulled away for some much-needed air.

"Buffy." He caressed her cheek.

"Now," she asked, "are you coming in? Or are we going to spend the night out here on the porch? Not that I'm really adverse to that or anything, but I rather think the neighbors might mind."

Spike smiled in spite of himself. He pulled her closer. "You know that I love you don't you?"

"Why don't you show me?"

* * *

A few hours later Buffy and Spike lay comfortably in her bed, the curtains drawn and the room dark except for a few low-burning candles. Buffy was curled up against his side, her head resting on his chest. She could swear she thought he was purring.

"So, the Scoobies know about this?" he asked, absently stroking her hair. "Why exactly haven't I had an angry visit from Xander yet?"

"I think he knew better," she said, lifting up to look into his brilliant blue eyes.

"And Nibblet?"

"She doesn't know. I guess I'll have to have a talk with her. I don't know how she'll feel."

"I don't think it's going to be easy for her. She's already vying for your attention. Can't be easy on the lil' bit."

"Well, we'll have to find a way to make it easy, to make her feel like part of the family. I mean, she is, but . . . you know what I mean."

"I know." He pulled her closer for a kiss.

Buffy moaned and snuggled closer to him, the fire inside of her beginning to blaze once again. She slid her hand down his side and rested it on his thigh.

"Uh, Buffy." He pushed her away. "There's something I want to ask you." He shook his head and sat up. "God help us."

Buffy watched him curiously. What was he up to?

"Do you remember that spell Willow did, a few years back? That my-will-be-done spell? The one where we . . . ?"

"Yeah?"

"Right. Well, I realize that this may not exactly be what you've dreamed of ever since you were a little girl, but . . . would you consider . . . giving it another go?"

"Giving what . . . ? Oh." Buffy was speechless. Spike . . . Spike was asking her to marry him? Again? For real this time.

A slow smile crossed Buffy's face. She hadn't even gotten that far. She had been so worried about telling him about the baby, about how he would react, that it had never even occurred to her that there might be a next step. Quickly, she decided she couldn't let him off the hook that easily. "What . . . exactly . . . are you asking me?" she prodded.

Spike gave her a look of slight irritation. Apparently, he was rather nervous about the whole thing, and she was making it worse. "If you want me to withdraw the question, I will. Go find another girl who's not so bleedin' difficult."

"No!" She wrapped her arms around his neck and smiled at him. "Just ask me."

"Will you marry me, Miss Buffy Anne Summers?"

"Hmmm, can I think about it?"

She heard him growl.

"Say yes, and make me the happiest man on earth," she said, recalling the exact words he had used the first time he had proposed to her, all those years ago. She hadn't forgotten. As appalling as the idea had seemed after the spell had worn off, there was always a part of Buffy that felt an affection for that day. No one else had ever proposed to her, and Spike's words had somehow left their mark. She was glad now that they had finally come full circle, that they finally had a real chance.

"Of course it's yes," he said, pulling her closer.

"Of course it's yes," she whispered, as she closed her eyes and kissed him again.