Title: Haunted

Rating: R

Summary: Set four years after "Not Fade Away". Buffy is haunted by dreams of a house and a town she's never been to. Searching for answers that might give meaning to the life she is trying to build, she goes to find this house. Will she find happiness or only more heartache?

Warning: Temporary Buffy/Other. But trust me, okay?

Disclaimer: All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Fox and whoever else can lay legal claim to them. And it's not me.


Lightening flashes across the night sky illuminating the house that stands alone at the top of the hill. Buffy shivers as she stands in the pouring rain and stares at it. The house beckons to her. Its ghosts are her ghosts. There is a silhouette in an upper window. A man staring outward, somewhere over her head, and she turns to follow his gaze. A sign, but she can't make out the faded lettering. She steps closer as the lightening flashes again.

MarysvilleNew York

"Oh, my god," Buffy moans as she sits up in bed. For seven months the dreams have been coming to her but this was the first time that she had a real clue where to find the house. And the man that dwelled within it.

Everyone thought she was crazy for even trying to follow the clues. There was no choice. They were insistent. The first one was so hazy that she could barely make out the house. The dreams had become clearer and more frequent over the months. The call was stronger, so strong; that she had packed her bags and come back to the States. Each dream brought a new bit of information that was a step closer to her finding the house. It was an obsession to her.

Buffy rubbed her face and crawled out of bed. She wished she knew what it all meant. There wasn't a lot of time left for her to search. She knew it and so did everyone else that told her to return to England while she still had time. Another week or so and they wouldn't let her fly. But she had to know and she moved to the kitchen where her laptop was still plugged in.

It was almost two in the morning and the other occupants of the apartment were asleep. Willow and Kennedy had graciously opened their home to her when she had insisted on coming to New York. She turned the heat on under the tea kettle before sitting down at the table and pulling the laptop toward her. She quickly typed in the city and state. While it was bringing it up, she returned to make herself some herbal tea. No more coffee for her for awhile.

"Everything okay?" Willow asked, stepping into the kitchen.

"Yeah, fine," Buffy said, smiling at her friend. "I didn't wake you, did I?"

"No, you were quiet as a mouse but I think I'm listening for these middle of the night forays of yours."

"I'm sorry," Buffy sighed and sat at the table again. "I'm disrupting your's and Kennedy's life and worrying everyone else. I know I should go home but…"

"But you can't until you know."

"No, I can't," Buffy murmured with a shake of her head. "It all started with," she stopped and rubbed her swollen belly. Seven and a half months pregnant and the first dream had come to her two weeks after conception.

"With the baby," Willow said, nodding. "I know. What did the dream tell you this time?"

Buffy slowly went over the details. Willow was gracious and slid around the table to help her research Marysville, NY. It was almost three hours north of NYC with a population of around five thousand. Situated on the coast just off of I-95, it saw a lot of tourists driving through. There were a few historical aspects to the town that was well touted.

"So, it would definitely be the kind of town that would be filled with creepy old houses," Willow said, shutting down the computer. "Now what are you planning?"

"I'll go there tomorrow," Buffy said. "I have to find this house before it's get too much for me to travel."

"You're almost eight months pregnant," Willow said. "You don't have any business driving around the country."

"No," Buffy said, shaking her head. "It will drive me crazy unless I find it."

"Let me go with you then."

"No, it's what I have to do. I promise though if I don't find it tomorrow then I'll stop until after the baby is born. Okay?"

It was a lie but Willow didn't need to know that. Lying in bed a short time later, Buffy decided that if she had to she'd hire a private detective to find it for her.

"I promise, little one," Buffy whispered, as she rubbed her belly. "I'll find what you need me to find."

The rental car made another funny noise as she pulled onto the exit. Marysville was to her right and dutifully she turned that way. Buffy rubbed her forehead. Everything hurt today, her head, her back, she had heartburn and her feet were too swollen to wear anything but sandals.

"The lovely price of wanting to be a mother," Buffy muttered as she pulled into a gas station so she could relieve her bladder. It took everything she had to crawl out of the front seat of the car. The desolation of the area she was in made her grateful that she still had slayer power. She might be waddling but if she had to she could still kick somebody's ass.

"Hello, miss, are you lost?" The young man behind the counter called to her when she came in.

"No, I'm heading for Marysville. Where's your bathroom?"

"In the corner."


Surprisingly the bathroom wasn't that bad. Buffy hurried through her business, washed her hands and pushed back into the store. She wandered through the snacks, picked up a couple of things then grabbed some juice before heading to the front again.

"So, what do you need in Marysville?" The man asked as he rang up her purchases.

"I'm looking for someone," Buffy said. "Is it that much further?"

"Nah, it's just up the road a bit. You plan on sticking around for a few days or just for the afternoon?"

"Hopefully, just the afternoon," Buffy said, holding her hand out for her change. She wanted to be back in the city by dark. No use inviting trouble by driving around at night in a strange place.

"Probably a good idea," the clerk said, dropping her money in her hand. "There isn't really any decent place to stay out there."

Buffy nodded and told him thank you before turning to leave. She didn't want conversation or to make friends. All she wanted was to find the house and maybe get back to being able to sleep at night. There was a low rumble of thunder as she made her way across the parking lot and she mumbled a curse under her breath.

The closer she got to Marysville the clearer the road became. Buffy kept looking around her to make sure she was heading in the right direction. Finally she spotted the sign she had seen in her dream only the night before. She slowed for a moment to look at it before hitting the gas again. Ahead was what looked like the main part of the town and she straightened up as she finally came face to face with the source of her dreams.

Sniffing the air with appreciation, Buffy took another drink of her apple juice and tried to ignore the lure of the fragrant coffee she craved. It had been months since she had been able to indulge. She told everyone that she wanted a cup waiting for her as soon as her baby was born. A deep wave of loneliness passed through her at the thought of the impending birth. This wasn't how she wanted to be a mother but it seemed the only way possible.

"Oh, little one," Buffy murmured, putting a hand on her belly. "If only Spike was here. I hope you're a boy because then even if you're not his, you can carry his name on."

Only by looking forward to building a future with the baby, could she push away the hurt filling her heart. The last time she had seen Spike was in Sunnydale. She had accepted his heroic actions with all the love she held in her heart for him. For days afterwards she had prayed they had made a baby that last night. She knew it was impossible but she had hoped anyway just to have a part of him.

Later the anger had come. It had been all consuming as Giles told her that Spike had been brought back and for months had lived in Los Angeles without telling her. She was grateful for that anger though. It had kept her alive as she dealt with the death of Angel, his friends, and Spike again. The grief had nearly crippled her for months. Nothing had mattered. The men she loved were gone, taking with them any hope she had for the life she once dreamed of.

"Would you like anything else, miss?" The waitress asked at her elbow.

Startled, Buffy looked up as she tried to shake away her memories. "No, no, I'm fine," she stammered out. "But I was wondering if you could help me out. I'm looking for a particular house." She went on to describe the structure with as many details as she could remember.

"It sounds like the old Carlton house over on Essex," the waitress said. "I'd stay away from it if I was you."

"Why?" Buffy asked, trying to hide a smile. "Is it haunted?"

"I wouldn't joke," the woman said. "Some crazy man lives there. He came to town about four years ago. Moved in during the night and hasn't been seen during the day at all. People say they hear screaming at night and him talking to himself. You mark my words, there's only trouble in that house."

"I'm sorry for the joke. I appreciate your help."

Buffy flashed her brightest smile. The waitress gave her an odd look before giving her a nod and laying down her bill. Some days it just didn't pay to try, Buffy thought as she made her way to the front of the coffee shop. After paying for her lunch, she asked directions to Essex Street. She was given the same strange look but received the information she wanted.

In only a matter of minutes it seemed she would finally have the answers she needed.

The house was exactly as she had seen it in her dreams. It was white, two stories, and a wrap around porch with towering oaks guarding the front walk. An iron fence with wicked looking points surrounded the yard. Only a fool would try to break in. Buffy seemed to be voted the fool for the day. She pulled to a stop by the curb in front of the dwelling.

"Looks lovely," she murmured. "I hope really hope you know what you're doing, baby."

She sighed before twisting around to grab the jacket and bag that were in the back seat. A moan replaced the sigh as a sharp pain darted through her lower back.

"Breathe, Buffy, breathe," She told herself, leaning back against the seat until it subsided. "Okay, it's show time."

The pockets of the jacket were filled with the usual slayer paraphernalia; stakes, holy water, and a cross that she draped around her neck. There was a reason for her being here but she didn't feel there was any reason not to err on the side of caution.

The gate was locked and Buffy looked around her for a moment to make sure there were no witnesses. With a quick push, the lock was broken and the gate swung open giving her entrance to the yard.

"Yay, me," Buffy chortled as she ascended the walk. "I am now breaking and entering. If this keeps up you'll be born in prison." She patted her stomach. "Maybe we can get Faith's old cell."

The house was dark. The windows were hung with heavy drapes to keep anyone from looking in. But there was a silence that seemed to be born of emptiness. Maybe the town people were wrong. Maybe they only passed along a story of screaming that was really caused by the wind echoing through a broken pane somewhere. Maybe the talking heard was really the chattering of squirrels making themselves at home.

There was something there though. A whiff that barely clung to the wind that whispered past Buffy. It was something that she recognized and it shook her to the core. It was the smell of cigarettes. The scent that hung heavy to a creature that she once breathed in and made love to. Tears filled her eyes, hurrying down her cheeks as she tried to dash them away with her hand.

Spike was dead. As gone to her as the dreams she once had. There had been no love returned on his part. His every word had been a lie. If he loved her like he said, wouldn't he have moved heaven and earth to reach her?

"He could at least have picked up the damn phone," Buffy murmured, as she lifted her hand to knock on the door.

She pressed her ear against the glass that lined the front entrance. No sound at all. No stirring within those walls.

"It's always this way, isn't it?"

Another quick twist of her wrist and the door opened.

"Look, its open," Buffy said, gaily. "We must be able to go in."

It was an act and a very good one, Buffy thought. No one ever knew how hard she tried to be carefree. Everyone thought she had exactly what she wanted. No longer being the only Slayer, no more struggling to pay the bills by working at the Doublemeat, no more being stuck in one place because it was the Hellmouth. She should be ecstatic about life, about living the normal life that Spike had died to give her.

"Hello, anyone here," Buffy called, making her way down the dark hallway. Remarkably there was no dust, no decaying walls or debris. It was tidy, smelling of lemon, cigarettes and a faint scent of cologne. "Hello, my name is Buffy. I know it's kind of weird me breaking in and all but I just had to check this place out. Any chance we could talk."

At the end of the corridor it descended upon her in horrifying remembrance, settling in her lower belly with a cramp that almost doubled her over.

There was a vampire and it was close. Forcing herself to stand, Buffy grabbed the stake and took a quick look around. She tried to reach the light switch to see if there was electricity but a hand wrapped around it instead. The creature forced her against the wall. Its cold breath lingering on her face as it held her so easily.

She didn't want to fight. The tears she had forced away before fell in torrents now.

"Spike, oh my god, Spike," Buffy cried, searching the darkness for the features she once knew so well. "How…why…you're alive…"

"Never alive, Luv," he whispered. "I'm always dead. Leave me now. I have no use for you."

He turned to disappear when she grabbed his arm. She held on for dear life, frightened that he wasn't real and this was nothing more than another dream.

"Please, I've come so far. Don't leave me."

She pulled and he stumbled back causing them to land against the wall again. He froze as he curved around the swell of her stomach. It took a moment then his hand settled where her baby was protected. The child kicked out; dancing as if he recognized the stranger they had been looking for. Buffy breathed a sigh of relief at the wonder that was in his gentle caress. It was too soon.

"You adulterous whore," Spike growled. The beauty of his human countenance twisted into the fury of his demon. "How dare you come to me? How dare you disturb me again? Is this the bastard child of the Immortal? I want nothing from you. Get out of here before I choke the very breath from you." He ripped the cross from her throat and tossed it aside. "And not even your trinkets will help you when I do."

He was gone. As quickly as he unleashed his rage, he had disappeared into the shadows of his house. Buffy continued to sob. Emotions spilled from her, hurt, betrayal, anger, disbelief, shock, and mostly love. Her beloved Spike was here. Undead, alive, whatever, he walked the same earth that she did. She wasn't alone anymore and her baby had led them back to the only man that could love them.

The storm had broken during the tirade from her vampire. There was no way she would endanger her baby by trying to drive in the torrential rain. Despite what Spike had threatened, she didn't fear him. So, many times he could have killed her, so many times she had hurt him enough to allow him the justification to strike back, but he never had. He loved her. She still believed it and his words uttered in the heat of their passion that there was something immortal between them. It was a destiny that had finally brought them together again.

Buffy had settled in the living room. A large chair was set in front of the fireplace. It had to be his. An afghan thrown carelessly over the back of the couch was tucked around her. She was growing restless. She needed to find a bathroom and she wanted something to drink.

There hadn't been a peep from him. She knew he was near and she didn't want to set him off by rummaging through his house again. Tired and sore she laid her head against the back of the chair. Sleep called her away and she let it.

Buffy was finally where she needed to be.

She was more beautiful than he remembered. Although there was a weariness that shadowed her face, it wasn't the bone chilling fear that always used to hide just below the surface. This was different. This was physical. She was in the latter stages of her pregnancy and it was a drain on her body. But there was a peacefulness…and love that hovered at the corners of her mouth giving her a womanly appearance. The girl he had known was gone.

Spike crouched beside her chair watching her as she slumbered. He'd been unable to stay away. Buffy always drew him to her. Like a moth to a flame. And that was what she had always been…his flame, his entrance to the light, and he couldn't resist despite the darkness of his demon.

Sighing, he pushed back a lock of her hair, letting his fingertips trace along her cheek. She shifted, pushing her face closer to the contact then she mewled in disappointment when he moved away. She was exhausted. He was almost tempted to take her upstairs, give her his bed and let her sleep away the day and night. Then in horrifying, heart clenching, pain, his memories returned.

His fear that in spite of everything she didn't really love him, the uncertainty of how she would react to his returning and that it would invalidate his death, his stupid act of fucking Harmony just to remind himself he was alive again, finding a friend in a tiny Texas girl and losing that friend in a useless act of selfishness. His acceptance that Buffy had moved on to another man and he had no place in her future.

And there were those final moments in the alley. Wesley already dead, Gunn dying then dead with only one blow from an unidentifiable demon. Illyria's valiant fight, but already weakened by Hamilton, pinned to a wall staring uselessly at the sword that held her there. And Angel, his Sire, his last connection to whom he really was, exploding in front of him. His dust coated him, freezing him, making him vulnerable to the demon that rendered him unconscious.

He had woken to find the bodies of his new friends around him. His Sire's dust still on him and he had stayed there with tears streaming down his face, waiting. Waiting for the daylight that would give him the coward's way out, but that was what he was, a coward. Because as the first strands of daylight had teased at his fingertips, he had run. He had kept running until there was no more land at the other side of the continent.

Money to survive hadn't been hard to come by. A computer, a few numbers played with from Angel's past, and the money Angel had earned at Wolfram & Hart's had been Spikes. He had bought this house and isolated himself from everything living. Even himself.

Seven months ago the dreams had started. Laughter, Buffy, sunlight, and a child that bore a striking resemblance to himself as a boy had infiltrated his sleep. There hadn't been a night that she hadn't visited him. Some nights it was just the two of them making love over and over. Her 'I love you' echoing so assuredly in his mind that they even haunted his waking hours.

Some nights he felt that he had fallen into a fifties television show. He dreamed of the two of them, making a home with children in this house, living an idyllic almost nauseatingly happy existence. And some nights it was he and Buffy fighting side by side against the horde that came out of that alley. Except this time she died in his arms just like Angel had.

And somewhere in all those variations maybe there was some truth.

Or maybe it was all lies.

But the reality was that she had come to him and with her she had brought another man's child.

Spike reared back as another impulse to throttle her came over him. The image of her lying, naked, entwined with the Immortal made his stomach hurl. How could she? But then how could he? He beat at his forehead with the heel of his hands. In regret and anger he wanted to take away these years. To go back to the day he had become corporeal again. To stop the self-doubts, the selfishness and take the first available transportation that would take him to the only place he wanted to be.

With Buffy.

He paced the room, trying to bring his swirling emotions under control. The storm raged on outside punctuating every dark thought that crossed his mind. Why not end his torment once and for all? He knew every inch of the woods that surrounded the small town. There were places that bodies would never be found. There were places that were beautiful. Places that he had fantasized of making love to the source of his agony while the sun streamed through the branches. More like moonlight, he told himself, scoffing at his own poetic soul. Nothing was true and it was all a lie. Even the prophecy that Angel had died believing in. It was a last hope that he would make it through the battle and be able to live life as a human as a reward for his sacrifice. All of it was bullshit though.

The gods were sources of torture for those that roamed this plain. And they, humans and demons, continued to believe that one day it might end. It wouldn't though. The pain would never stop.

"Spike," Buffy called, sitting up with a cry. She arched back then fell as far forward as far as her stomach would allow.

Without hesitation he was there, kneeling in front of her. She buried her face in his neck, trying to rub at her lower back.

"Shush, pet," Spike murmured, brushing her hand aside. He massaged at the tightened muscles. He smiled at the small sound of contentment she gave. "How far along are you?"

"It's okay," Buffy said, with a small laugh. "I still have six weeks to go. I've just been cramped up all day in the car."

"Didn't think you would want me to deliver your baby," Spike said, a grim expression gracing his face. "That's all."

"I'd trust you."

In that short sentence, he heard her hope that they could find something again. He couldn't give her that though. Not now. Too much had happened to ever pretend it would ever be okay again. And as selfish as it sounded he knew he could never accept another man's child. She had made her choices and she would have to live with them.

He didn't say anything, concentrating only on relieving the ache that made her hurt. It was his job, wasn't it? To back Buffy up, to keep her on the right path, to protect what she needed protected, fight beside her and die when it was necessary. And even now it was all right. He didn't deserve to walk beside her.

"I have to pee," Buffy whispered.

"I do have a bathroom," Spike said, standing up. He held his hands out to her. "Come on, let's haul you up."

"Pig," Buffy said, smiling. But she held her hands out, allowing him to pull her up. She didn't really think that she could have crawled out of that chair otherwise. He was stoic again as he pointed to a space under the stairs where the half bath was. A chuckle sounded in her wake as she made her way down the hall. "What's so funny?" She asked, turning around to look at him.

"You're waddling," Spike said. "It's…it's….well, its funny to watch you swaying like that."

"Bastard," Buffy said, marching with as much dignity as she could muster to cover the last few feet into the bathroom. She slammed the door behind her. His laughter continued to echo around her. She sighed and did her business as quickly as possible. She grimaced at the reflection in the small mirror. Her hair was mussed, her eyes were darkened by the shadows that framed them, and there were small lines at the corners of her mouth. No wonder Spike wanted to run from her.

After making herself as presentable as possible, Buffy ventured out again. Hesitating in the hallway, unsure of where her host was.

"In the kitchen, slayer, turn right then make a right at the end of the hall."

Smiling she followed his directions to a large room with a round table in the middle. She sank gratefully into one of the chairs. A plate filled with cookies was slid in front of hers. They were chocolate chip.

"Dawn's legacy still follows, huh?" Buffy asked, biting into the sweet with an unexpected hunger. It had been her sister that had gotten the vampire hooked on the treats the summer she had been gone. Many a nights the two had baked cookies and watched movies or played cards.

"I guess so," Spike said. He set a tea cup in front of her next before turning away. "How is the 'bit?"

"She's fine," Buffy said. "She's going to Oxford, studying to be a Watcher one day."

"That's good," Spike answered, finally sitting across from her with his own tea cup. "One of your offspring came through here a year or so ago. The little one tried to off me but I sent her on her way. I don't think she'd talk about it. I think I scared the pants off of her."

"Sounds like you," Buffy said, searching her mind for any report incident that would correlate to his story. None came to mind though and she wondered if he had taken his third Slayer.

"No, slayer, I didn't kill her. There's a vampire family a few towns north. I took her up there and she ran before the fight."

"And you?"

"Been picking them off here and there," Spike said, staring over her head somewhere. "There are too many for one to take them all at one time though, so I get what I can, when I can. They don't come to Marysville because they know I'm here."

"Maybe I should send a team up there."

"Maybe…if you want."

Buffy sighed. This wasn't what she wanted to talk about but knew he wouldn't welcome anything else.

"Once you're feeling up to it, I want you to leave."

And just like that she knew he would fight her every step of the way.

"I love you, Spike," Buffy said, staring deep into the blueness of his eyes. She watched them darken. She just wasn't sure if it was with anger or with love. "I came a very long way to find you."

"You should have called."

"Maybe…and maybe it would have been nice if you had."

"It's over and done with. Nothing left to say. It was wrong for you to assume I'd want to see you."

"I didn't have a choice," Buffy said, softly. She reached over to cover his hand with hers but he snatched it away before she could. Her eyes closed briefly as she tried to decide what to do now. The truth. Maybe after all these years they could just start with the truth. "Two weeks after my pregnancy was confirmed, I started to have dreams."

His eyes widened then shuttered again. Somehow he knew. She pressed on.

"The dreams were vague at first. I saw the house, the storm, a figure then slowly I saw more of the town," Buffy paused, looking up at him through her lashes. He was staring at her through narrowed eyes. "Last night I saw the name of the town and I came."

"Pretty lies," Spike said, standing. He paced the room. "You could have come up with a more plausible story. What do you want from me? Backup, need someone to die, to baby-sit…"

"I need someone to love," Buffy said.

"You had your chance years ago."

It was the bitter truth. Well, she had wanted it. The tears gathered in her eyes again as she remembered all her lost chances. All the times she should have held him close and whispered what he wanted so badly, but she had been selfish and self-righteous. She denied him because she could and had only hurt herself in the end.

"I know, Spike, I know," Buffy said, playing with the end of the tablecloth. "I…I never thought I would see you again. I thought you were dead…like Angel…like the others. I didn't have anything."

"You had the Scooby gang as usual," Spike said, angrily. "You had the dozens of new Slayers and lil' bit and the Immortal. Sounds like you had a pretty rich life to me."

"And you were here alone. Why? Why didn't you come to find me?"

"You had moved on, remember? Dancing and snogging with that soddin' half-wit of a boyfriend of yours."

"I found out that normal didn't work for me."

"Poor little Buffy. Never did fit in anywhere, did you, lamb?"

"There was one place that I did," Buffy said, wistfully. She slid a finger along the edge of the table before glancing up at him from under her lashes. "Two places," she amended.

He sighed. He didn't want to go into this again so he nodded his head. Memories filled his senses with her smell, the feel of her body wrapped around his, the heat warming the coolness of his flesh, and the sweet taste of her. It was all part of another lifetime. A lifetime that he wanted to forget but never could.

The magazine was old. Several years old and the ancient news wasn't entertaining Buffy at all. She tossed it aside. Spike had disappeared upstairs again. He told her to leave as soon as the storm subsided. It had and she still sat in his chair. It would be dark way before she could reach the city again. She didn't want to risk anything happening.

"Spike, Spike," Buffy bellowed, leaning her head on the back of the chair. "Come out, come out wherever you are."

"No need to do the fishwife impression," Spike whispered, directly behind her.

"Crap," Buffy jumped, twisting in the chair to look at him. "How long have you been there?"

"Long enough to rip your throat out," he walked around to take the chair opposite of her. He sat as casually as he ever did. His legs were spread wide, one foot perched on the ottoman next to hers, and his hands resting on his upper thighs.

Buffy licked her lips. He chuckled.

"You keep acting like you did when I first met you. Have you lost your soul?"

"It would have been a hell of a lot easier." He turned his head to stare at the dying embers of the fire. "No, Buffy, I am still the…vampire you last saw."

"The man," she corrected. "I'm not frightened of you." She tilted her chin up. She wasn't lying. There was no fear of him, not physically anyway.

"Maybe you should be." His eyes met hers. "The moment I found out that I was solid again I grabbed Harmony and fucked her on a desk at Wolfram & Hart."

Buffy rolled her eyes. The pain was more intense than she was going to let on. "You always did have great taste in women."

"Including yourself in that category, pet?"

"I was the exception to the rule," Buffy said, arrogantly. She leaned her foot on his. "Look, its getting dark. Is it okay if I spend the night?"

"No," Spike said, standing again. "There's a motel by the interstate."

"All right," Buffy said, struggling to stand.

He watched her, ran his hands through his hair then gave a heavy sigh.

"Stay," he said. "If your intention is to torment me, you're succeeding."

"I'm starving," Buffy said, flashing him an impish grin. Her intention was to force him to see that he should let her stay for good. "Do you have anything around here to eat?"

"There's blood in the refrigerator."

"No, leftover pizza or wings," Buffy asked, hopefully. He used to always have food in the refrigerator when he lived in the crypt. Sometimes he even kept things that she liked.

"Sorry," Spike said. "Diner in town stays open until nine."

"Already did that dance," Buffy said, grabbing his hand. "Haul me up. I'll call for pizza delivery. A large one with lots of cheese and veggies."

"Waste of a good pizza by putting that crap on it," Spike pronounced, but he helped her to her feet. "I think there's a phone book in the kitchen.

A grin danced across her face. He was giving in. She followed him into the kitchen where he was already on the phone.

"Yeah, that's what I said," Spike snapped. "I want to order a bloody pizza and I want it delivered. Wankers," he snarled slamming the phone back into the receiver.

"What happened?"

"They thought I was joking. They said nobody ordered from this address and that I should go and do my homework."

Buffy giggled as she made her way to him. "Maybe you should try being a little more sociable." She picked the phone up and dialed the number in the book for the town's only pizza palace. "Hello, I'd like to order a pizza." She told him what she wanted then carefully repeated the address. "No, this is not a joke. My name is Buffy Summers and I'm visiting. I'm seven months pregnant and starving."

"Hey, you that blonde woman that came into town today?"

"Yep, that's me. So, can you get those pizzas out here?"

"You okay, ma'am?" The man taking her order whispered. "Do you need me to send the sheriff?"

"No, nope, I'm right as rain," Buffy said, smiling. "Or at least I will be once I eat. Will it make you feel better if I'm sitting on the porch when he gets here?"

"Might be a good idea," he gave her the total then he hung up with a loud click.

"Pizzas are on the way," Buffy said, patting Spike's stomach. "We are going to feast tonight."

Spike rolled his eyes.

"This is one thing I miss about the house on Revello Drive," Buffy said, pushing off with her toes. She and Spike were sitting on the front porch swing together. At first he refused then after about ten minutes joined her. "Do you miss anything from there?"

"Lots of things," Spike said. "But it doesn't matter now."

"Yes, it does," Buffy whispered, entwining her hand with his.

Spike stared at their joined hands. "Remember…"

"Yeah, I do." She lifted their hands and kissed the back of his. He dragged it along her cheek.

Their eyes connected and all the love they had felt in those last moments came rushing through them. Buffy felt her eyes fill with tears as she remembered him burning up and her leaving him alone to die.

"Don't cry. It was my choice."

"I know but I should have stayed or dragged you out or…"

"Where would your baby be if you had died?"

Buffy ran her hands over her stomach. "He's the one bright spot in my life."

"Where is his father?"

"I don't know his name," Buffy said. She took a deep breath about to explain the circumstances of her pregnancy when the front gate creaked.

"Hello," the waitress from the diner called. She was carrying a grocery bag. "I hope I'm not intruding."

"No, not at all," Buffy said, going to meet her at the steps. Spike was right behind her with his hand on her lower back. "How can we help you?"

"You're Buffy right?"

Buffy nodded.

"I'm Emma," the woman said. "It's a small town and when I heard that you ordered pizza because you were starving well, I just thought I'd help you out." She handed the grocery bag to Spike. "Its stuff I got from the diner. There's milk, cereal, eggs, a salad, and a slice of pie. Enough food to get you through until you can go shopping tomorrow. Have to eat healthy for the baby."

"Thank you," Buffy gushed, peeping into the bag. "I really appreciate it. How much do I owe you?"

"Don't worry about it," Emma said, waving her hand. "I'm just happy that you found your young man again. It'll be so much better for the baby if the two of you are together. Okay, I'm off. Don't want to interrupt the reunion. Have a good night."

"Thank you again," Buffy called to the woman rushing down the sidewalk.

"I'd like to know how I got you pregnant when I haven't left this town in years," Spike commented, shaking his head.

"I think it was cute," Buffy said. "Come on. I could use a cold glass of milk."

She tugged on his shirt sleeve, pulling him back into the house. She was settled at the table, happily eating the salad and drinking her milk when the pizza delivery boy knocked on the back door. He must have gotten brave, Buffy surmised as Spike went to open the door. The teenager looked at both of them wildly, gave a thorough look around the room before grabbing the money and taking off. Buffy was laughing.

"I think the whole town is talking about me being here."

"Maybe it's time for me to move on," Spike said, placing the pizza on the table. He went to the cabinet to get some plates before sitting across from her. "So, gee, pet, tell me the tale of how you got pregnant by someone you don't even know."

"I was artificially inseminated," Buffy said, reaching for a slice of her pizza. She took the time to take a huge bite before saying else. She was enjoying the stunned look on Spike's face.

"You were what?"

His head tilted to the side as he stared at her. It was time to confess everything. Her stomach rolled for a second at the thought. So, many things were gone. Would he understand or only make fun of her again?

"I…was trying to live a normal life," Buffy said, putting her food down. She stared at it while picking at the vegetables. "Well, except for the huge mistake I made of dating the Immortal. It didn't last long by the way. He was exciting and fun."

Spike snorted. She smiled.

"I broke up with him and tried to figure out what I really wanted to do," Buffy said. "Then I got the news from Los Angeles. I found out that you had been alive and didn't care enough to come and see me." She wanted to ask him if his love had been the obsessive crush everyone had said it was. But she was too afraid. What if he said yes? "I found that out at the same time I was told you were dead again and Angel…all of them. Suddenly I didn't know which way was up. The bottom had fallen out of my world."

"Must have been hard to hear about Angel," Spike said, softly.

His real question wasn't hard to hear. Buffy reached for his hand.

"Yes, it hurt but it hurt more hearing about you. I figured that your love couldn't have meant that much if you didn't want to see me."

"It wasn't that, Luv."

"You'll have your turn," Buffy said, shaking her head. "I moved back to England with Dawn. She was ready to start college and I wanted to be closer to Giles. Our relationship was rocky for a long time but he was the only parent I had left. Everyone else had scattered. Time went on and I knew that I wouldn't fall in love again. My heart had died one rainy night in LA."

"A bit melodramatic, wouldn't you say?" Spike asked, sarcastically. "You should have gone out and shagged the first human boy you could find. Go out, date, get drunk, go to school…"

"All I wanted was you," Buffy said. He started to stand. "Spike, wait. Hear me out. Please?" He sat again. "A year ago I started thinking about becoming a mother. Have a child that I could give my love to. Everyone said I was crazy. They pretty much mirrored your reaction. But it was something I really wanted. I had seen enough of death. I wanted to see life. Be a part of creating it."

"So, you had sex with a turkey baster?"

"No," Buffy giggled. "It's a little different than that. I started going through the profiles of the donors."

"How romantic," Spike commented, rolling his shoulders. "Did you take wine and candles?"

"No, Spike," Buffy said, with a sigh. She was determined to get through this story despite his growing sarcasm. He was hiding his hurt. "I couldn't find anyone that I wanted to father my child. Then when I was about to give up, the nurse told me they had a new donor. He was what I was looking for."


"He was described as a scholar. Late twenties with an average build, brown curly hair, blue eyes and defined cheekbones. His interests included poetry, science fiction, playing pool, and old television shows."

If Spike looked stunned before, he now looked positively mystified. It was the same feeling she had when she had read the profile. It was an eerie coincidence that she didn't let pass her by.

"Three weeks later I was pregnant."

"You're daft," Spike declared. He shoved his chair back as he stood. "You expect me to believe that cock and bull story? First thing in the morning I want you gone. Don't ever come back."

He walked away again.

"The dreams started two weeks after that," Buffy said to this retreating back.

He slowed then sped up again. She picked up her pizza, sure that he would return. It was just hard to process and understand. She still hadn't completely. She had just learned to have faith over the months.