Disclaimer: I own none of these characters. Joss likely wouldn't approve of the way I'm twisting his characters, so don't tell him.

Author's note: This is the final installment in the Bound By Destiny series. It kind of wraps up loose ends. I could probably continue on forever with this, but I think this is a good place to stop. :) Enjoy!

And Then There Were Three

The vampire watched the two women walking slowly through the parking lot of the supermarket. Some of the streetlamps were miraculously burned out giving him plenty of shadows to lurk in.

This should be an easy kill. He said to himself. The one girl was small, she looked weak. Her red hair blowing softly in the wind. She was pretty. Maybe he'd have a little fun with her first, he thought wickedly.

And the other one, she was as good as helpless. She was tiny and pregnant. He'd kill her first, then have his fun with the redhead. Eating pregnant women was always a treat. More like two for the price of one, he laughed to himself. Plus the added benefit of increased blood supply made it all the more enticing. Perhaps he'd be too full for the redhead? He'd keep her around awhile and save her for later.

The women walked to their car and he figured now was a great time to make a move. He slipped out of the shadows and appeared behind the pregnant one. The redhead saw his face and shouted out to the blonde one.

"Buffy! Behind you!" She shouted.

Buffy whirled around hit the vampire across the face with her bag of groceries. Canned food littered the ground. The vampire was slightly stunned and more than a little pissed off. He lunged for her again and was startled to find her tiny foot smashing into his face before he knew what hit him.

The redhead had dropped her bag and was fumbling in her large purse for something. The vampire chuckled, thinking she was carrying mace or pepper spray. As if that would stop him. He reached up and grabbed the blonde, who promptly kneed him in the groin. As he recoiled she dealt a series of hard blows to his face with her powerful fists.

He was stunned at her power and suddenly felt a little foolish. Some pregnant bitch was giving him a run for his money. He managed to grab her arm mid swing and dealt a punch of his own across her face. She fell backwards to the ground. As she scrambled to get up, the redhead called out to her once more.

"Buffy! Here!" She said tossing a wooden stake to her.

The vampire looked on puzzled. That was what she digging out of her bag? He was in trouble. Not only was this girl strong but she was prepared. Buffy grabbed the stake as Willow tossed it to her. She jumped up and kicked the vampire to the ground. He struggled to get up but Buffy plunged her stake into his chest swiftly, thus ending his hunt for the evening.

Buffy stood up and straightened herself and brushed the remainder of the vampire of her clothes.

"When are they ever going to learn? Pregnant women have short tempers." Buffy said shaking her head.

"Are you okay, Buffy? I mean that was kind of intense. You're not supposed to be slaying and stuff now." Willow said with concern.

"I'm fine. Besides, what was I supposed to do? He attacked us." She shrugged.

She was nearly seven months pregnant and had a small but well defined bulge in her stomach. She still felt more than capable to fight, but her doctors had told her she needed to take some time off of work. Not that they had any idea what she did for a living.

She had told them she was a self defense instructor. She had wanted to know if it was possible to continue on with her 'demonstrations' as she had put it. They had told her that after the fifth month it was not advisable. But sometimes a girl just couldn't help slipping in a lesson or two.

After they collected their fallen grocery items they got into the car and headed towards Buffy's house. They pulled up in front and got out. When they walked in Spike and Dawn were waiting for them.

"Where were you? You were gone for like ever." Dawn said taking the mangled bags out their hands. "What happened to the groceries. This stuff is all dented." Dawn asked inspecting the contents.

"We, uh, had a little run in." Willow said softly.

"A run in? With what? An irate bag boy?" Spike asked looking at them.

"More like a fangy bag boy. Only, I don't think he worked there." Buffy said thoughtfully.

"You were attacked?" Spike asked concerned.

"No big. We're fine." Buffy said shrugging.

"Yeah, Buffy took care of him." Willow said with a small smile.

"You know you aren't supposed to be slaying things right now." Spike said shaking his head.

It had been a real pain trying to keep her in at night. She was restless and bored. He knew that, but she still had to follow the doctors orders. He and the others had taken over her patrols, but she didn't like it. She knew it was for the best, but she felt idle and useless. She and Dawn had rented every movie ever made, to try and occupy her time.

"Relax Spike. I'm fine. I didn't even break a sweat. It's not like I went looking for trouble. It just found me. Like it always does." She told him.

"So he went down right quick then? Not too much of a struggle?" He asked, hoping that she hadn't been harmed and that the baby hadn't been tossed about too much.

"Nope. He was an amateur." She said with a smile.

He went over to her and kissed her forehead.

"That's my girl. You'll teach them not to mess with a poor defenseless pregnant lady." He smirked.

Later that night Buffy and Spike were laying in bed. She was on her back and Spike was next to her with his head on her shoulder. His hand rested on her swollen stomach.

"You know, I was worried about you tonight. You could have gotten hurt." He whispered to her.

"I know. But It's still my job, you know?" She said to him thoughtfully.

She knew he worried about her constantly. Part of her was extremely touched and the other stubborn part of her hated feeling weak and coddled. She tried to push those thoughts out of her mind and enjoy the sentiment behind the coddling.

"It's gonna be her job too." He said rubbing her stomach.

"I know. I don't know if I like that idea. It's bad enough to worry about your kids normally, but knowing that they are destined to fight the forces of darkness every night kind of makes it a little harder." She said softly. "Now I know how my mother felt."

"Yeah. It must have been really rough for her. But she saw how tough you were. She knew you could take care of yourself." He said with a smile.

"And our little girl is gonna be majorly tough. I mean, look at her parents." She laughed. "She is so gonna get into trouble."

He laughed with her.

"Yeah. She's bound to be a little feisty."

"This is one girl who will never get picked on. If anyone makes that mistake, she'll probably kick their ass." Buffy said with a smile.

"I can see it already." He said with a laugh.

"God, we are gonna be in so much trouble. I mean, I was kicked out of school a couple of times, and just barely graduated. I can envision many trips to the principals office for her and for us." She said cringing inwardly.

He kissed her gently and suddenly felt the baby move under his hand.

"Hey. She moved." He said with wonder.

"Yeah, she does it a lot. Sometimes she kicks pretty hard."

Just then, as if to prove her point, the baby kicked up underneath his hand and Spike started laughing.

"I think she knows we're talking about her. She's already practicing her moves." He said with a smile.

The reality of the baby was still hard for him to believe. Each day everything became more real and it was terrifying and exhilarating. He was enjoying every minute of it.

"What do you think she'll look like? I bet she'll look just like you." He said softly.

Buffy smiled and remembered the vision that she had seen when she had visited the Guardians of Balance. She had still not mentioned anything to anyone, not even Spike.

"She's going to look like you. She has your eyes and your smile." She said softly remembering.

He looked at her quizzically.

"How do you know?" He asked curiously.

"I saw her. She was beautiful." She whispered.

"Saw her? What do you mean?"

"Remember when I was in that coma?" He nodded his head. "Well, I went somewhere. I'm not sure where, but it wasn't this dimension. These people, or whatever they were, they let me see her. What she would look like." She said quietly.

"What? Were you dreaming?" He asked, not sure what she was talking about.

"No, it wasn't a dream. It was real. I just didn't say anything before. It was kind of personal." She said wondering if she should tell him what she had seen.

"Was it like Heaven or something?" He asked. He knew she had not died that night, but maybe it was close enough for a trip upstairs once more.

"No. It was something else. The night I was attacked, I was not in a good place. So much had been thrown at me in one day, I was just so lost. I found out about my heritage. That I was part of the very thing I'm destined to hunt. I found out I was supposed to have some sort of promised child, you hated me and called me names. Everything was crumbling around me. Not to mention the doubts I had even before. It was all too much for me." She told him softly.

Speaking about this was difficult, but he was there listening to her. She watched his eyes as he expectantly waited for her to finish.

"I had given up again. Just like that last time. Only this time there wasn't some greater good to die for. I had no excuse. I was just tired. Maybe part of me longed to feel that peace again. I don't remember what it was like to die, but I know it was peaceful. I think, that night, I was just ready again. Ready to stop fighting and stop the hurt. When the demon came at me, I tried to fight him. But in the end, I just sort of gave in. Subconsciously anyway." She said with tears in her eyes.

"Why would you want to give up? Because of me? Because I hurt you?" He asked, feeling horrible.

"No. Not because of that. Though it didn't help. I was tiring before that. Maybe I never stopped being tired from the last time. I mean, I thought I had found peace, but I had it stripped away. I was sent back against my will. Sure, I supposedly had some big purpose, but I never felt it. I never asked for it. And for a long time, I just didn't want it." She said seriously.

She had a new understanding of what her purpose was now. It made her feel warm inside. She knew now how important her life and her work was. She had made peace with her destiny finally. It had taken her awhile, but she was finally at the part where she was embracing it, rather than denying it.

"So what happened in this place you went to? Why did they bring you there?" He asked her curiously.

"Well, I think they pulled me in because they knew I was weak. That I was giving up. I wasn't going to have the baby. Their Promised One. I think I screwed up their plans and they wanted to talk some sense into me. They wanted me to know how important my life was. How important the baby was. They made me see what I would leave behind if I didn't go back and fight and if I didn't have the baby. I could have died again, it was my choice. This time they gave me a choice." She said softly.

He looked into her eyes and saw the sadness there. She had given up eternal peace to return once again to a world that had been so cruel to her. He kissed her gently.

"Why did you come back? If you were so desperate for the peace, why didn't you take it?" He asked, not because he thought she made the wrong choice, but because he didn't understand. He was glad she came back to him, because he would have surely died to lose her again.

"I had to. I saw the future. I saw what would happen to everyone if I didn't come back. It was awful. I couldn't be that selfish."

"What happened?" He asked, wondering if she would tell him.

She looked at him and wondered if she should tell him everything that she had seen. It had been so powerful for her to see, and she wasn't sure if she wanted to talk about it. But part of her knew that he needed to hear it too. He was a part of her destiny and future as well. She finally spoke.

"They showed me the future. I saw the darkness that would overtake the earth if I wasn't there to stop it. Dawn had a little boy and he was alone because she was killed. All of my friends were dead. But the worst of it all was seeing what happened immediately after I died. The heartbreak of seeing everyone mourning for me again. It was awful. But I knew I could stop it from happening." She said with tears at the memory.

"It would have been devastating." He said quietly, not entirely comfortable thinking about it.

"They showed me what you would have done. I saw it. Would you have done it?" She asked him cryptically, wondering if he knew what she meant. She needed to know if what the Guardians had showed her was real.

He looked at her curiously and then lowered his head.

"What did I do?" He whispered, silently knowing what she probably had seen.

She looked at him sadly, but said nothing. He understood without words that she knew what his state of mind would have been. He nodded at her.

"I would have gone with you. I mean, not that I would have been going anywhere remotely near where you would have been. But Hell can't be half as bad as living on Earth without you again." He said seriously. He was a little embarrassed by this admission because it made him feel weak, but it was the truth and he sensed she already knew it.

She looked at him sadly. She didn't know what to say. He was serious and she knew it, because she had seen him do it. The thought that she could have driven him to something that drastic still surprised her.

"Look, lets not talk about this right now. It didn't happen. You made your choice and it was the right one. I mean for the greater good and all, right? You didn't just come back for me." He said to her uncomfortably.

She thought for a moment and looked at him again.

"No, it wasn't just for you, but for everyone. I couldn't let the people I love suffer and die because I was selfish. But what's sort of scary to me is that I didn't do it for the greater good. Not really. I mean they showed me the suffering of the world and I was numbed to it. It didn't convince me to go back. What convinced me is seeing how it affected you and Dawn and everyone else. It scared me because for that moment, I didn't really care about the world going to hell. All I cared about was my little corner of that world." She said softly, not comfortable with admitting this dark truth.

It frightened her a little to know that she had become so numbed to pain and violence around her that it barely affected her anymore. She could see how someone like Faith could lose their way. After all, darkness was in their blood. If you didn't have a corner of the world to call your own, then it would be easy to stop caring. And then why bother fighting when there isn't anyone or anything you care about?

He touched her face lightly. He could see this bothered her, but he knew exactly what she meant.

"Buffy, is it really so wrong to care about your little corner of that world? I mean, you're still fighting the fight. Does it really matter why you're fighting it? Look at me. I'm right here with you, helping you fight. And you know why I'm fighting? Because of you. And the baby, and for Dawn. Our family. It isn't the world I care about, but without a world to live in, then nobody wins. I don't think it's a bad thing to fight for the people you love. The job still gets done, right?" He tried to explain to her. He wanted her to see that they were not so unalike.

"I guess. But you're different. You're not supposed to care. I am."

"And you do care. You care enough to risk your life just about every time you leave the house. That's enough. You don't need to have a love in with the whole world to serve your purpose." He said to her seriously.

"I know, but I guess I've always felt like I had to be this great, selfless person..." She started to say.

"You are. You are the most selfless person I know. You gave up peace to return here again just so people wouldn't mourn you and you came back to protect this world. And what you did for Dawn? That was amazing." He said to her seriously. He was always in awe of her and the fact that she just didn't see it.

"But she's my sister..."

"I know. Doesn't make it any less heroic. Besides, what makes you so different from any other Slayer are your ties to this world. We've talked about it before. It's still true. Don't you think that if you didn't have selfish reasons, like people you loved to protect, that you would have given up a long time ago?" He asked her.

"You're right, I guess." She said softly. He always knew what to say to her. A lot of times she didn't like what he said, but it was always the truth. This time, she felt better for his words.

"Of course I'm right. I always am." He said with a small smirk.

"Oh yeah, you're always right." She said sarcastically, teasing him. "I shouldn't be stressing out about this right now anyway. I'm on maternity leave." She smiled trying to break out of the serious mood they tumbled into.

"That's right. And that little one right there is worth saving the world for." He sat patting her stomach.

Buffy snuggled in close to him and he held her tightly.


Buffy stood in front of her mirror looking at herself with a frown. She was wearing baggy overalls and a tank top. She turned and looked at herself sideways and groaned.

"Ugh! I'm so fat." She muttered to herself.

She was finally starting to look pregnant and thought she was still smaller than a lot of women at her stage of pregnancy, she felt huge. She had no clothes left to squeeze into except the overalls. She had bought a few maternity things, but most were so ugly, she wouldn't be caught dead in them.

Dawn walked past her room and saw her standing there. She walked in and plopped down on the bed.

"So, how're you feeling?" She asked curiously.

"Cranky and fat." Buffy said with a pout.

"You look fine, Buffy. You're not fat, you're pregnant." She tried to tell her.

"I know, but I look like I swallowed a soccer ball." Buffy said grumpily.

Dawn couldn't help but laugh.

"No you don't. Maybe a basketball?" Dawn said jokingly.

Buffy picked up a sweater off her dresser and threw it at Dawn.

"Shut up." She teased her. "I'm going to go eat breakfast, so I can get fatter." She said heading out and down the stairs.

They both walked into the kitchen and Spike was sitting there reading the paper. He smiled when he saw her. He stood up to kiss her.

"You look..." He started to say.

"Enormous?" She finished for him.

"No...You look beautiful." He said sincerely.

He knew how touchy she had been lately about her appearance, but he didn't care. She was still the same gorgeous creature he became enamored of with just one glance. Now that she was carrying his child, she was even more beautiful.

"Are you sure?" She said with a sly smile.

"Positive." He whispered to her as he kissed her passionately. She wrapped her arms around him tightly and they lost themselves for a moment, until Dawn cleared her throat loudly.

"Um, gross." She said rolling her eyes.

"What's so gross about that?" Spike asked her with a smile.

Dawn just rolled her eyes and walked out of the kitchen leaving them alone. She was excited that she was going to be an aunt. It almost felt like she was going to be the big sister. She knew that their family was a strange one, but she felt comfortable there.

It was so different than when her mom was around. It was amazing how much life could change in such a short time. But she was happy. They all were. Even if their lives were far from the usual, at times like this they seemed like any other family.

Later that night, Buffy was folding laundry in front of the TV. Spike walked in and sat down next to her and put his arm around her. He had been helping Dawn with her homework in the kitchen.

"All finished with the history lesson?" She asked with a smile.

"Yeah, you know those books they give the kids nowadays are really ridiculous. I mean, half of it isn't even accurate." He said shaking his head.

"Really?" She asked amused.

"Well, yeah. I lived through a lot of that, and stuff didn't happen the way they said."

"Maybe you should tell the teacher that. 'Hey, I was alive 100 years ago and this is false'. They'd get a kick out of that." She said with a smile.

He just rolled his eyes at her.

"You want to go out tonight? A movie or something? This laundry stuff looks boring." He asked her.

"No. I mean, the laundry is boring, but I'm too tired to go anywhere." She told him.

"Alright. Well, I think I'm going to go out for a bit, okay?" He told her.

"You're leaving me?" She pouted.

"Not forever. I just need to unwind a bit... I need to smoke." He told her sheepishly.

She had tried to get him to stop, but he was too stubborn. He had been smoking for a century, so it wasn't easy to just up and quit. And it wasn't like he was concerned about lung cancer or anything. But she had told him that the smoke was bad for the baby, which he conceded, but he still couldn't give it up entirely.

She rolled her eyes at him.

"You're never gonna stop that, are you?" She asked exasperated.

"Not likely, Luv." He said with a smirk.

She folded her arms and pretended to be angry, but he kissed her instead.

"Stop, just go." She said with a smile.

He grabbed his coat and headed out the door. He jumped into his car and looked in the glove box for his cigarettes. All he found was an empty pack.

"Damn." He muttered under his breath. He shrugged and started the car. He'd just have to get some more.

He started down the street. He was waiting at a stoplight singing along to the radio when all of a sudden he was struck with a searing pain in his head. He grabbed his head and cursed.

"Bloody hell!" The stupid chip was going off and he wasn't even doing anything.

The pain finally subsided and he took a minute to orient himself again. It was even more painful than usual and he was utterly confused as to why it went off in the first place.

"I wasn't doing anything." He said aloud to whoever was listening. "Don't tell me this sodding chip is gonna start zapping me whenever it bloody well feels like. I know my singing isn't that good, but it isn't gonna kill anyone." He said sarcastically.

The light had already changed and luckily no one was behind him. He started off slowly, and headed towards the convenience store.

His mind was racing. He had always hated that stupid chip. But lately, he hadn't really given it too much thought. He had plenty of other things to worry about and to think about. He hadn't even set the stupid thing off in months. He had almost forgotten about it, but tonight was a painful reminder. He silently hoped it wasn't going to short circuit and turn his brain to a mush, or something.

He pulled into the lot of the 7 eleven. He got out and walked inside. He looked over at the candy section, suddenly in the mood for a snack. He didn't notice the three men come in behind him. The men walked over to the drink counter and pretended to be deciding on what flavor Slurpee to buy.

Spike walked up to the counter and asked for his smokes and put his candy bar on the counter. He paid and started to walk out. Just then, the three men pulled out guns and waved them in the air.

"Don't move." One of them shouted.

Spike turned to look at them and rolled his eyes. This was not his night. What the hell was he going to do now? He saw the faces of the other customers and the clerk. They were terrified. He sighed. He knew he could easily make a run for it and be done with it. It's not like if they shot him, he'd die. It would definitely suck, but it wouldn't kill him.

He almost headed for the door and then stopped himself. I can't just leave these people here to die. He said to himself. What are you talking about, you bloody idiot? Just go. Who cares? He tried to reason with himself. Buffy would care. If she knew you did nothing, she'd be pissed off. He scolded himself. But then again, what could I do? These thugs were human and armed. I could vamp out and maybe scare them, but then the customers would flip out...He continued to argue with himself.

One of the thugs grabbed a woman and held the gun to her head. She screamed.

"Empty the register." He commanded.

Another thug went up to collect the cash, while the third one walked around to the customers and demanded their wallets and purses. Spike watched and took a deep unneeded breath. He'd have to do something. Besides, there was no way they were getting his money. He had hustled pool for four straight hours the other night for that cash and he wasn't just gonna hand it over.

The man collecting the wallets approached Spike.

"Your wallet, Blondie." He said with an evil grin.

Spike looked at him and shook his head.

"I don't think so mate." He said, with an evil grin of his own. He silently prayed his head wouldn't explode and pop off his shoulders, but he took a swing at the man and managed to send him hurtling through the store and crashing into a pile of soda cans head first.

The other thugs weren't expecting that and started to panic. The customers started panicking as well. Spike rushed up to the one at the register and grabbed his gun just as he was aiming it at him. He pushed it back forcefully knocking the guy out cold with his own gun.

The last guy was still holding the woman and he was yelling loudly.

"Stop, or I'll shoot her! And you!" He said frantically. His perfect robbery was going badly.

"Go ahead and shoot me." Spike said opening his arms in invitation.

The man aimed his weapon at Spike and he lunged forward, yanking the woman out of the thugs grasp. He yelled to her and the others.


They all scrambled to their feet and headed for the door. The thug pulled the trigger and hit Spike in the shoulder. He cried out, but didn't slow down. He grabbed the gun and wrestled it out of the mans hand. He punched him in the face as hard as he could. The man went crashing into the glass doors of the refrigerator case. The glass shattered everywhere. He tried to scramble to his feet, but Spike kicked him in the face and knocked him out cold.

Spike stood there gaping at the man lying unconscious in front of him. He clutched his wounded arm and was breathing heavily out of sheer exhilaration. He hadn't felt anything. Nothing at all. No pain, except for this lovely gunshot wound. His brain wasn't hurting. He leaned down to the unconscious man in front of him. He touched him and smelled the air around him.

He's definitely human, Spike thought. He looked at the man again and punched him one more time just for good measure. Still no pain.

"I'm free!" He shouted.

Then he heard the sirens of the police that must have been triggered by a silent alarm. He went outside and ran into the clerk and some of the other customers who had run for safety. The clerk grabbed him.

"Thank you!" He said gratefully. "Are you okay, mister?" He asked, noticing the blood coming from his shoulder.

"I'm fine. It's just a scratch." He shrugged, trying to push past the guy.

"The police will want to talk to you." He told him.

"Sorry mate, I don't do police." He said with a smirk as he walked past and hopped into his car and sped away just before the police pulled up.

"Who was that guy?" One of the customers asked the clerk.

"I don't know. He was like Batman or something. He didn't even want credit for saving us." The clerk said in awe.

The clerk was a simple man who read too many comic books. He never would have risked his life for the store. He would've just given the guys the money and prayed he wouldn't be killed. At least there are still some hero's in this world, he thought.

Spike sped down the road and lit his cigarette.

"This is incredible! That pain earlier, it must have been the chip deactivating or something." He said to himself. He had waited for this moment for years, and now that it was here, he was beside himself with joy.

"I'm a free man." He laughed to himself, and then realization took hold of him. "Oh god, I'm free...What the hell am I gonna do?"


Lynok sat back and watched as the vampire sped down the road carelessly. He knew what had happened, because he had made it happen. It was time for the vampire to be tested once more.

Long ago, they had orchestrated his capture by the Initiative. Lynok had long suspected him of being the vampire they were searching for. He had seen his thoughts and read his feelings for the Slayer from the moment they met for the first time. He knew he felt something for her.

This had triggered Lynok's senses. He felt that this may very well be the Chosen One. But his progress was too slow. He had emotions and feelings that he was not able to identify. His nature was still very much in control of his actions. He needed a push, Lynok had thought. This government group had provided a perfect solution.

But now the time had come to see if the changes were permanent. Lynok felt confident that enough time had passed that the choice would not be difficult, yet he knew that the vampire needed a choice. He needed to prove that the transformation had been complete. If he failed, his reward of eternal peace would be revoked and his duty would be over.

He had already done his part in creating the Balance. He was not essential anymore to the prophecies, yet his presence was expected. His role as a warrior had been determined but was not as essential as the Slayer and her child. But the Rule of Three was still in effect.

Everything in the universe was governed by the Law of Three. The Slayer and her child were strong and capable enough to fight the darkness. But without the third part of the equation, the war would be much more difficult to fight and win. It was now up to the vampire to make the choice if he will continue the fight or not.

Lynok watched as the vampire pulled carelessly into a parking spot at a local bar. He wrung his hands nervously as he anticipated what would happen next.


Spike sat down at the bar and ordered a drink. He was still hurting from the gunshot wound, but he couldn't think about that now. All he could think about was this newfound revelation.

Spike took a hard swallow of the liquor and sighed. He ran his hands through his hair desperately. Why did this have to happen now? He asked himself. Just when I thought I'd finally found my place in this world and now this?

He didn't know whether to laugh or cry. He had finally settled into his role as a husband and a soon to be father. It was all so ridiculous for a vampire, but he had almost begun to feel human over the last few months.

He knew he wasn't, but the only trace of his former self was the fact that he still drank blood and had no pulse. The rest of him was clearly passing for human these days. He didn't even know any vampires anymore, except the ones he killed every night. Now he knew he was free to go back to they way he was before.

He could feed on fresh, human blood. He could hunt, he could fight, he could kill...But did he really want to? That was the question that plagued him. He could skip town tonight and start over. Never even looking back. He could be the Big Bad again.

People could fear him and cower before him in terror. And the taste of the blood...It was enticing. Nothing compared to way fresh blood tasted. Definitely not that crappy pig's blood he lived on now.

But then would he be happy? Would he be more satisfied with his life? No. There was nothing more satisfying than going home, to a real house, with a real family inside. A family that loved him, a beautiful wife that was carrying his child. His living flesh and blood. How could he leave that behind for the cheap thrill of a power trip and the taste of a little blood? Why would he want to?

He ordered another drink and nursed it slowly. He had made his mind up. There was no going back for him. He couldn't be what he was before. He couldn't leave Buffy and Dawn and his baby. They were his life now. The life he led before they came to him was over and done with. It just wasn't who he was anymore.

He'd just pretend that he didn't know about the chip not working. He'd just pretend that tonight never happened and keep going on his merry way. Living his life the same as he had been for the last year. No one would ever have to know. If they knew, he might not be allowed to live that life. Buffy might just stake him herself. If not, he was sure that one of her friends would likely step up for the job.

He liked to think that they were all past that now, but he feared deep down that it wasn't the case. He had heard so many threats over the years that if he ever got the chip out, he was as good as dust. Sure, it was a long time ago, but how could he risk that? No one could ever know.

He took another drink and rubbed his eyes. The alcohol was numbing the pain in shoulder a bit, but the inner turmoil was still raging. Damn it! He cursed himself. If I don't tell Buffy and she finds out anyway some how, she'll be furious that I lied. She'll never trust me again. I have to tell her. But how?

He finished his drink and walked out of the bar. He realized as he got into his car that he hadn't even so much as looked at another patron, much less eyed someone as a potential snack. It never even occurred to him. He could have easily picked out some yokel and had a little taste, just to see what it was like again, but he didn't.

"Well Spike, you've definitely changed. Now we just gotta convince Buffy that you aren't planning on eating the baby once it's born..." He muttered to himself as he drove home.


Buffy had been sitting up waiting for Spike to come home. It was now after midnight and she was beginning to think he wasn't coming back. Maybe he ran into some trouble while he was out? She knew that she always did and he was usually no exception. She hoped he had taken a stake with him at least.

She finally heard his car pull up outside and she waited on the couch patiently for him to come in so she could get irritated at him for being gone so long. He opened the door quietly and tried to sneak in. She cleared her throat loudly and he turned to her startled.

"Buffy, I thought you'd be asleep." He said nervously. How was he ever going to tell her what happened?

"Nope." She said giving him a hard look.

He walked closer to her and took off his jacket. She instantly saw that his shirt had a hole in it and there was blood covering part of his arm. She jumped up and went over to him.

"What happened, Spike?" She asked concerned as she touched his arm gently.

"Oh, that? I got shot, Luv." He said calmly. "Do you think you can fix my jacket? It has a hole in it now."

She ignored his comment about his jacket and looked at him with widened eyes.

"What? You got shot? Are you okay? Where were you?" She asked confused and concerned for him. She knew that he was obviously alright and that a gunshot wouldn't kill him, but he was still hurt.

"I told you pet, I went to get some cigarettes." He said, trying to figure a way to tell her what happened.

"Where? At the O.K. Corral?" She asked incredulously.

"No." He said with a small laugh. "I went to the 7 Eleven. Just my luck some bloody fools chose to rob the place."

"And they shot you? What about the other people? Were they hurt?" She asked him curiously.

"No. No one got hurt. Just me, and well...the bad guys." He said softly, thinking of a way to ease into this conversation.

"Sit down. Let me go get some bandages or something." She said, pulling him to the couch.

"Really, I'm fine. It went clear through. It's already healing." He told her with a smile.

She looked at him and sighed. Then she touched his face gently.

"I'm so glad you're okay." She said kissing him gently.

"I'm tough, remember?" He said with a smile.

"So tell me, what happened? They were robbing the place? What did you do?" She asked him curiously.

Now was his chance to ease into things with her. Tell her the story and hope she doesn't flip out. He sighed and looked at her seriously.

"Well, I was getting ready to walk out, and they started waving their guns around. I thought, 'Well this is just bloody great'. I didn't know what to do. Then they started collecting everyone's money, and well, I wasn't about to part with mine, you know? So I took a swing at the guy and he went flying across the store. It was such a rush." He told her, feeling the excitement once again.

He watched her face as she listened to him. He could see concern and some questioning in her eyes, but she didn't say anything. He continued.

"Well, once I dispatched that one, all hell sorta broke loose. I took care of the guy at the counter, leaving only one holding a gun to some ladies head. He flipped and threatened to shoot her and me, so I told him to go ahead and shoot me. And well, he did. But not before I grabbed the lady and told her and everyone else to get the hell out. I wrestled the gun away and knocked him out." Spike said concluding his tale. He waited for her questions that he knew would come.

"You beat them all up? Were they vampires? I mean, are they doing armed robberies these days?" She asked confused and starting to feel a little nervous.

"No. They weren't vampires, Luv." He said softly.

"Were they human?" She asked quietly, already sensing the answer.


She looked at him oddly and then it sunk in.

"It didn't hurt you? Your head? It wasn't painful?" She whispered.

"No. It didn't hurt me." He said bracing himself for her to be angry or afraid or anything.

She looked at him and felt tears springing to her eyes. She knew what he was trying to tell her. The chip was gone, or at least not working anymore. The chip was the whole reason he was with her. Without it, they would have killed each other long ago. Now it was gone and he was completely free again.

"It doesn't work anymore, does it?" She asked nervously.


"How long have you known?" She asked with a tear falling down her cheek.

"Tonight. It must have happened tonight. I was driving and suddenly the damn thing zapped me. Hard too. I was just sitting at a stoplight minding my own business and Bam! It hit me. I was right pissed about it too. I thought maybe it would fry my brain or something. I mean, who knows? Maybe it has some kind of self destruct built in and would blow my head up? I didn't know. But the next thing I knew I was hitting these people and it wasn't hurting. I don't know how or why it happened." He explained to her.

She looked at him sadly. He reached out to touch her face and she flinched from him. He sighed and looked at her emotionally.

"Buffy, it's okay." He said to her.

"No. It isn't okay. I mean, what now? What happens now? This is what you've been waiting for. You're free. You can go back to your life now." She said getting agitated.

It was all too much for her right now. What if he killed someone already? What if he went out and fed tonight? Would he have done that? What if he left her now? There were too many questions.

"I did come back to my life. This is my life now. I don't want to go back to the other life." He pleaded with her.

"Did you kill those gunmen at the store?" She asked him curiously.

He looked at her strangely.

"Would it matter if I did? They were the bad guys." He said confused by her question.

"I know. But did you kill them? I mean, once you realized you could do it, did you..." She asked tears rolling down her face.

"Do you mean did I feed on them? No. I didn't kill anyone. Not that it would have been a great loss to society, but I didn't. I didn't hurt anyone else either. I won't. For crying out loud, Buffy, I saved a store full of people from becoming Swiss cheese. Don't I get credit for that?" He asked desperately.

She looked at him and nodded her head.

"Yes, you do. But Spike...I just don't know what to think. I mean what's gonna happen? Maybe tonight you didn't do anything, but what happens as time goes by and you're tempted? I know it isn't easy to hold back feelings like that." She said sadly.

"I'm stronger than that. I don't want to go back to the way it was. Certainly you don't think I'd ever hurt you or Dawn or the baby, do you?" He asked, getting a little emotional himself.

"No. I know you wouldn't. But it's not us I'm worried about, it's the rest of the world. I mean, I can't sit back and know that you are out there doing God knows what, while I look the other way. I can't do that." She said standing up and pacing around.

"And I'm not asking you to. Buffy, I spent hours tonight, driving around, sitting in a bar, just thinking. I had no idea what to do. I went through everything. I knew I could just get in my car and drive away and start over. I could go back to the way it was. But the more I thought about that, the more I realized that I don't want that anymore. A few years ago, yeah, I would have been outta here. But that was before I had everything to lose." He told her sincerely.

"But that's who you are isn't it? You're a vampire. I know it's easy for me to forget sometimes, but you don't forget that. It's what you were made to do. How can you just give that up? Without the chip to remind you, how are you going to keep from slipping back into old habits?" She asked seriously.

"You keep me from slipping. Buffy, the chip isn't what changed me, it was you. You know that. The chip forced me to see things differently, that's all. I can't just pretend that nothing in the last three years happened. I may have been a monster for over a hundred years, but I'm a man now. I can't go back. I won't." He pleaded with her.

"But I can't always be around you. One day, the temptation might be too much." She said, shaking her head. She wanted to believe him. She needed to believe him, but it was all so hard.

"It isn't going to be easy. I mean, I admit, the lust for blood is always there. It won't go away. But I am not helpless against it, Buffy. I may have a demon in me, but it doesn't consume me. Not anymore, because I won't let it." He explained to her desperately.

"But how can you stop it? How can you make that choice?" She asked.

All sorts of thoughts were running through her head. If he could really make that conscious decision to ignore what came naturally to him, then couldn't all vampires do the same? It didn't make sense to her. She knew he was different, that was a given. But she always assumed that the chip had a big part in it. Without it she was afraid. Not of him, but of what it meant to her and her duty.

"Buffy, just because I don't have a human soul doesn't mean I can't make choices. It doesn't mean I can't be good. It's true, that without a soul, the decision to be evil is an easy one. Without a conscious it's easy to just do whatever you damn well please. But that doesn't mean that you have to be evil. It's just a lot harder to be good. Doesn't mean it isn't possible, it's just harder." He tried to explain to her.

"So are you saying that any vampire is capable of being like you? Of making that choice? Because if you are, then what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to start chatting with every vampire I meet and ask them if they'd like to change before I stake them?" She asked him desperately.

"Buffy, it doesn't work like that. Most of the vampires you come across are not smart enough to even stay alive. They have no other thought than to hunt and feed. For them to change, they'd have to really want it, and they don't. They don't care. You aren't doing anything wrong by ridding the world of them. It's really not so different from being human. Just because a person has a soul, doesn't make them automatically good. Everyone has evil in them. It's always a choice for everyone. Let me make that choice. Let me prove to you that I've really changed." He told her, hoping he was getting his message across coherently.

She absorbed his words and knew that what he said was true. Everyone did have evil in them, even her, as much as she hated to admit it.

"I just don't know what to say." She said sadly sitting back down next to him.

It was all so confusing and the timing couldn't be worse. She was sitting here pregnant with his child. He was a vampire that she thought was harmless, and now she knew he was capable once more of hurting people. Could she trust him around the baby? Around Dawn, and herself?

Deep down she knew she could. He was strong willed. She had always secretly told herself that it was the chip that made him do the things he did. But in her heart, she knew that wasn't true. At first, it was. But too much had changed for that to be the case anymore.

Tonight he had gone out of his way to save innocent people from being robbed and possibly killed. She hadn't been there to urge him on. And what made it all the more interesting was that he risked the pain of the chip to help them. He hadn't known it wasn't working and he was willing to risk it for those people that he didn't know and didn't care about. That spoke volumes about how much he had changed. She couldn't deny it.

She looked at him saw the sadness and desperation on his face. He was watching her as she fought with herself and her feelings about this revelation. He had come so far, and now was his chance to prove how far that really was. She had to give him the chance. She owed him that. She wouldn't turn her back on him, she couldn't. She loved him too much.

He saw the conflicting emotions playing out on her face. He began to worry that this was going to be the end. She may not be able to kill him, but he was beginning to think that she would definitely tell him to go. He feared that she would kick him out of her life, rather than just stake him. He knew he'd prefer to just be killed.

"Buffy, please. Whatever you do. Don't make me leave. I don't want to leave. You have to trust me. Let me prove myself. I promised you that I would be with you forever. Don't make me break that promise." He said, with a tear rolling down his face.

He was so desperate for her to understand and not hate him. He needed to know that she trusted him. That she loved him still. He wanted to know that the chip wasn't the only reason she trusted him.

She looked at him and scooted closer. She put her arms around him gently.

"I'm not making you leave. I need you. I trust you, Spike. You've already proved to me that you've changed. Just keep it up." She smiled as she kissed him gently.

He pulled back and looked at her with a relieved smile.

"You'll see, this won't change anything. Nothing except, I'm not helpless anymore. There are plenty of human monsters out there, Buffy. Tonight proved that." He told her holding her close.

"Sometimes those are the scariest kind." She said softly.

"Well, now I don't have to be afraid of them anymore." He said sincerely.

She looked up at him.

"Are you sure this is what you want?" She asked.

"How can you even ask? Of course it's what I want. You are what I want." He told her softly as he kissed her again.

"I believe you." She said softly taking his hand. She stood up and pulled him off the couch. Wordlessly, she led him up the stairs and into their room.

The room was dark, but they could both see fine. All they were looking at was each other anyway. He took her in his arms and kissed her gently. She responded by wrapping her arms around his neck tightly. The kiss deepened and they made their way to the bed slowly.

He gently placed her down and lay next to her. Lovemaking was not quite the same with her belly in the way, but it hadn't stopped them yet. She pulled his shirt off and touched his wound gently. It was already healing but he flinched a little at her touch. She leaned up and kissed it gently.

"Is that all better now?" She asked him softly.

"Much better." He whispered to her as he kissed her again.

He reached over to her and pulled her nightgown over her head. The moonlight shone through the window and he could make out her silhouette. He ran his hands over her body and gently placed kisses across her stomach.

He scooted up and began kissing her face and then slowly made his way down to her neck. He felt her tremble, but it wasn't in fear that he would try to bite her, it was in pleasure. She shifted her head to allow him freer access to the soft skin between her shoulder and her neck. It was a move of ultimate trust, he knew.

She was showing him that she knew he would never harm her. He had her complete and utter trust, and he'd never betray it. He ran his tongue over the pulse point of her neck and quickly brought his mouth to hers once more.

She rolled herself over and positioned herself on top of him, straddling his legs. She smiled and undid his pants and slid them off.

She kissed his chest and his stomach while running her hands over his body. He grabbed her shoulders and pulled her up to meet his mouth again. Their tongues danced together and he gripped her arms tightly.

"I love you." He whispered to her with passion in his voice. "I'll never let you down, I promise."

"I know." She whispered back to him, as she covered his mouth with hers again.

He lifted her up slightly and he could feel her warmth hovering above him. He thrust up to meet it and let it engulf him. He moaned with the pleasure of her body connecting with his. He watched her face as she continued to move above him. She was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. The way her face depicted her pleasure at his touch made him tingle.

She is mine. That child is mine. All of this is mine...What possible reason would I have to return to a life of darkness and despair? I already have it all... He said to himself.


Lynok had observed his subjects with satisfaction. The vampire had made the right choice. He was pleased, though his journey was far from over. There would always be temptation in his way. It would be a struggle to stay on the correct path, but he had renewed confidence in the vampire.

"Will he be strong enough to handle such temptation?" Assam asked him curiously.

"I have the greatest faith in him. And she will continue to be his guide. You saw the way he was willing to risk pain this evening, just to help those poor souls in the market. He did not know it wouldn't hurt him to do so, yet he rose to the challenge. That's true change, my brother."

Assam nodded his head in agreement.

"I was fearing he would fail us then." Assam said quietly.

"And he did not fail. You are always quick to think the worst, aren't you brother?" Lynok asked irritated.

"I am supposed to doubt, it is my job." Assam smiled.

"Well, I think it is safe to assume that the Balance is safe, and that the Rule of Three will not be hindered. It is a joyous time for celebration, not doubt. The universe is on course and for now we can merely watch as it unfolds." Lynok said with satisfaction.

"I have no doubt that they will continue to surprise us." Assam said with a small chuckle. By far, these subjects had been more difficult than most, and also much more important to the world.

"Yes, I have no doubt as well, for if their child is anything like they are, then I fear we are in for a long journey." Lynok said shaking his head.


Buffy and Spike had chosen not to tell anyone just yet about Spike's new condition. With the stress of the baby coming soon, Buffy didn't want to deal with pressing questions and accusations.

Her friends had all accepted Spike by now. He was most definitely part of the family. But if they had any doubts, just as she had had at first, then they might not be as easily convinced. If she hadn't of trusted him completely, she would have told them, but right now she didn't want to get them in an uproar over what she felt was a non issue at this point.

They both decided that after the baby came, and everything was settled, they would tell. Until then, it was just between them.

The following months had seemed to pass excruciatingly slow for Buffy. She was now huge and couldn't wait to get this baby out of her. She sat on the couch now with her feet up, while Dawn was vacuuming around her.

She sat lost in thought, knowing that it wouldn't be much longer and she would be a mother. The thought still made her dizzy to think about. She had read all the books and taken the classes, and still she felt completely unprepared.

Spike had even gone to the classes with her. She laughed about the way he acted when they showed everyone the video of childbirth. He had looked away in disgust and asked Buffy he really needed to see this. She had laughed at him.

"You spent a century amidst blood and carnage, and childbirth is giving you a wiggins?" She had laughed.

He had only shrugged and said that this looked a lot more painful than any mayhem he had caused. She had sighed. He wasn't easily convinced that he should be with her when the baby was born. He said he'd just wait outside till it was over, but she had made it clear to him that that wasn't going to happen. He had finally relented.

Now she just couldn't wait to have it over with. She was ready to have her body back. It was becoming increasingly uncomfortable to do anything anymore.

Spike walked into the room and sat down next to her.

"Hey. How are you feeling?" He asked her, touching her stomach.

"I'm feeling huge and impatient. This was all supposed to be over with yesterday. My due date was yesterday. Why am I still pregnant?" She had asked him with a pout.

"Pet, sometimes the days are a little off, that's all. I'm sure it will be any time now." He tried to reassure her.

She had been extremely moody and hard to get along with lately. He knew she was just uncomfortable, but it was still trying to be around her sometimes.

"The doctor told me we should have sex." She blurted out to him.

He looked at her strangely.


"He said that it might speed things up, make this baby come out faster. I think we should do it." She said firmly.

"Right now?" He asked, looking at Dawn, who was still hard at work vacuuming.

"Yes. I want to have sex now." She told him plainly.

He laughed at her and shook his head.

"You are starting to sound like Anya." He said with a smile.

She rolled her eyes, but had to laugh. She did sound like Anya.

"Well? Let's go." She told him grabbing his hand and pulling him up the stairs.

Dawn watched them go and shook her head. She could still hear what they were talking about despite the noise of the vacuum. She silently decided that she'd save the upstairs for later.

Buffy and Spike made love quickly and they lay there afterwards staring at the ceiling. She looked upset and he looked at her suddenly feeling insecure.

"Was it that bad?" He asked, looking at her lying there pouting.

"No. It's just that I don't feel any different. This thing is never coming out of me." She said with tears running down her face. She was an emotional wreck, and she knew it was just hormones and nerves. She was scared.

He rolled over to her and held her tightly.

"It will all be over soon." He whispered into her hair. "I'm sure the doctor didn't suggest that doing this would bring about instant childbirth. Maybe we need to do it again." He added with a smirk.

She laughed at him through her tears. He was right. She didn't know what she was expecting. She just hoped that magically this would do the trick.

"I don't think I'm up for another try right now. It's not as much fun as it used to be." She told him.

He looked at her wounded.

"What? I'm not good anymore?" He asked her with hurt in his voice.

"No. Spike, it's not you. It's just I'm all fat and icky. I don't feel sexy anymore. Besides, the activities are a little limited due to my hugeness." She sighed sadly.

He looked relieved to learn that his technique wasn't faltering, but he felt bad that she didn't feel desirable anymore.

"You are still the sexiest woman I've ever seen. You'll see. Once you're back to your normal self again, I'll show you just how desirable you are." He purred to her kissing her ear.

She snuggled in closer to him and sighed happily. He always knew how to make her feel better.

"I better go back downstairs and fix something for dinner. Dawn's been Ms. Homemaker today, so I figure the least I can do is make dinner." She said, getting up and pulling her clothes back on.

"You want help?" He asked her.

"Okay." She smiled as she bent down to kiss him once more.


Buffy stood in the kitchen cutting vegetables for a salad. Dawn was perched in a chair, while Spike was looking in the cabinet for a pan to put the chicken in. All of a sudden Buffy dropped her knife and looked up in astonishment. Dawn saw her face and rushed over to her.

"Are you okay?" She asked.

"Oh boy." Buffy said with a look of panic on her face.

Spike turned around and held onto her, as she looked ready to topple over.

"What's wrong?" He asked her concerned.

"My water just broke." She said looking down at the small puddle on the floor beneath her.

Dawn looked at them excitedly.

"Oh, does this mean it's happening? The baby's coming?" She asked happily.

Buffy nodded her head slowly and was suddenly gripped by a crippling pain. She clutched her stomach and doubled over. Spike held her up and tried to move her to a chair. She clutched onto his arm and he could feel her nails digging into him, but said nothing.

"Oh god...What do I do?" He asked her frantically. Suddenly he just wasn't prepared for this moment at all.

"Get my stuff and get the car ready." She said, as the pain subsided.

"What should I do?" Dawn asked excitedly.

"Call Giles, tell him to come over so he can be with you." She told her.

"You mean, I don't get to go to the hospital?" She asked, hurt.

"Dawn, this may take awhile, you know? Besides, it's boring at the hospital. Wouldn't you rather stay here?" She asked her, as she was suddenly engulfed with another pain. She cried out.

Dawn reached out and tried to comfort her.

"I want to be with you." She said softly.

Buffy wasn't in the mood for a debate so she just nodded her head.

"I'll go get my stuff. Are you okay here for a sec?" Dawn asked.


Dawn ran out of the kitchen just as Spike was coming back in.

"Okay. I put your bag in the car. Are you ready?" He asked her worriedly.

She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. They were tears from the pain she was in and also tears of sheer terror.

"I'm not ready. I thought I was ready, but now I'm not. I'm scared." She cried to him.

"You're gonna be fine. You are tough and strong. This'll be a piece of cake, Buffy. You've faced much scarier things than this. Hell, you've died. Birth is supposedly easier than that." He said with a small smile, trying to put her at ease.

Another pain ripped through her body. She doubled over and moaned. He hated seeing her like this. He hated that he did this to her. Something that he put inside her was now trying to claw its way out, and causing her tremendous pain. He rushed to her side and put his arms around her.

Dawn rushed in with her backpack and announced that she was ready. She'd make the phone calls from the hospital. Spike helped Buffy up and tried to walk her to the car. The pains were coming very quickly and it was hard for her to stand. He picked her up and carried her the rest of the way.

"It's happening so fast. The doctor told me it would take hours, but it's happening now. I can feel it." She said, through her tears.

Spike started to panic.

"What? You mean it's coming now?" He said terrified.

"Just hurry up and get to the hospital." She yelled at him.

He put her in the backseat and Dawn got into the passenger side. As he slid behind the wheel, he heard Buffy scream in pain. It ripped right through him and he couldn't bear to hear it. He couldn't bear to know that she was hurting and he wasn't there to hold her.

He looked at Dawn desperately.

"I need to be back there with her. She's in pain. I can't bear it." He said with tears in his own eyes.

"I can't drive, Spike. I don't have a license." She said looking at him nervously.

"You've taken the class, right?" He asked her hurriedly.

She nodded her head quickly. He handed the keys over to her.

"Then drive." He said harshly.

He climbed over the backseat and sat with Buffy. He cradled her head in his lap and stroked her hair. Dawn shifted into the drivers seat and took a deep breath. She had driven with the teacher, but that was controlled and safe. Making a mad dash to the hospital with her pregnant sister in the back was a little different.

She turned the ignition and they started off. Surprisingly, they made it all in one piece. Dawn was actually a good driver, despite arguing with Spike the whole time. He kept urging her to go faster, and Buffy's screaming didn't help her nerves either. She figured if she could drive under these conditions, Buffy would have to let her get her license when she turned sixteen next month.

Dawn pulled quickly into a parking spot, but didn't quite stop fast enough. She smashed into a parking pillar and winced.

"So much for my perfect driving record." She muttered. Then she called over her shoulder, "Sorry about that."

"Don't worry about it." Spike said, opening the door quickly and lifting Buffy out. He'd worry about the damage to his car later.

They hurried into the hospital and the nurses quickly got Buffy into her room. Spike had to fill out the papers and then he rushed to join her. They had already hooked her up to machines and monitors by the time he made his way in. Dawn had gone to the cafeteria to get something to drink. She had wanted to be there, but she was having a hard time seeing Buffy so pained.

Spike walked closer to her and felt his heart aching. She was writhing in pain, and he was helpless to do anything. He walked past the nurses and heard them talking.

"She's almost fully dilated. It won't be long now." He heard a nurse whisper to another.

Buffy cried out in pain again. As she did, she gripped the sides of her hospital bed and ripped them off. The nurses stood back shocked and horrified. Buffy didn't even seem to notice. They ran off to get the doctor.

Spike kicked the railings out of his way and took her hand, hoping his arms wouldn't share the same fate as the bed rails. She looked at him through her agony.

"I'm gonna have to pay for that, huh?" She asked forcing a smile through her lips.

"Don't worry about it. I'm sure it's happened before." He told her with a smile.

The doctor walked in and observed the bed. He shook his head and walked over.

"I see you're a strong one." He chuckled. "It won't be long now, Buffy." He assured her.

Buffy seemed to ignore him as another wave of pain struck her. Spike stood up and faced the doctor.

"Do something for her, will you? Give her some drugs or something. We took the class, they said she could have drugs." He said irritated by the doctors pleasant smile. Buffy was in agony and he was just standing there.

"It's too late for that, Mr...Uh, what was your name?" The doctor asked him politely.

"My name is Spike, as in I'm gonna jam one through your eyeball if you don't make her pain stop!" He yelled, getting into the doctors face. He felt helpless and did the only thing he could do, which was get angry and lash out.

The doctor stepped back from him nervously and Buffy grabbed Spike's arm.

"Stop it, Spike! If you hurt the doctor, I'll never get this thing out." She said harshly.

"Yes, mister, uh, Spike. I realize you don't like to see her like this, but if we gave her medication now, it might harm the baby." He tried to explain.

He had seen a lot of people in his day, but this couple was definitely interesting. First she ripped their bed apart, and now her husband was threatening to poke his eyes out. Impending parenthood brought out the worst in people sometimes.

Spike looked defeated and sat back down. He looked at Buffy with tears in his eyes.

"I just hate seeing you like this. It kills me. Every time you scream, I feel like my heart is being ripped out, Buffy." He said to her sadly.

She reached up and touched his face and tried to smile. Another pain hit her and she pulled back from him. The doctor examined her and determined that it was now time for her to push.

The nurses got her into position and Spike stood back behind her gripping her shoulders. He felt nauseous, but he tried to be strong for her. After all, she was doing all the work. She began to push forcefully. With her added strength that belied her size, the doctor was astonished at how quickly the delivery was going.

The doctor looked up at them and smiled.

"I see the head. Would you like to watch your baby being born?" The doctor asked Spike with a smile.

Spike looked at him as if he'd asked if he'd like to eat the baby. There was no way he was watching that. He already felt faint. He shook his head frantically. The doctor shrugged. With one more push, the baby came out screaming.

"It's a girl." The doctor said proudly to the strange couple.

Buffy started crying and Spike held onto her tightly.

"It's over, pet. You did it." He whispered to her.

The doctor wrapped the baby up and placed her in Buffy's arms. Spike looked at her wondrously. He couldn't believe that something that perfect and alive was his. He wanted to touch her but was afraid.

Buffy reached out and grabbed his hand. She looked up at him with tears of joy in her eyes. She seemingly had forgotten about the pain already, which amazed him. A minute ago, she was screaming and now she appeared overjoyed.

"This is our daughter." She whispered to him. "Our love made this."

He couldn't help but weep at her words. He was being given the two greatest gifts that anyone would have wanted. Him, a vampire, with no soul. What he had done to deserve anything but eternal torment, he didn't know. He wasn't going to question it. Something he did must have been right. For once in his life, he must have done something right.

Later, when Buffy was settled into her room, Spike sat by her bed watching the baby sleep in her arms. He had still not touched her, for fear he would hurt her, or she would simply fade away and he would wake up from the dream.

"You want to hold her?" Buffy asked him with a smile.

"No." He said quickly.

Buffy looked at him and her smile faded. He was acting strangely, and she was worried that it was all too much for him. That maybe he decided that he wasn't cut out for this sort of life after all. She feared he might just decide to get up and leave them.

He saw her fallen expression and he reached out to touch her face gently.

"It's not that I don't want to. Buffy, I'm scared. What if I break her, or something?" He asked meekly.

She smiled at him relieved he wasn't thinking of running. He was only nervous. But she had been too.

"She won't break. She's a Slayer, remember? She's tough, like us." She told him comfortingly.

He smiled at her and took a deep breath. He reached out and Buffy handed the baby to him. He took it gently and cradled it awkwardly in his arms. It all felt so unnatural to him. He looked down at the sleeping infant and smiled.

"She's perfect. My god, she's perfect." He whispered in awe.

"She looks like her daddy." Buffy said with a smile.

"Daddy? I never thought anyone would call me that." He said shaking his head. Then it dawned on him. "What are we going to name her? We never decided on a name."

"I know. I've been thinking about it a lot and I wanted it to mean something, you know? Something special, so that she would know how important she is to us and someday to everyone else. But I can't decide." Buffy said thoughtfully.

Spike looked at the baby and stroked her tiny head.

"I know what she means to me, Buffy. You both gave me a reason to change my life. You gave me that something I needed to keep fighting. After I found out about the chip, I could have gone another way. But I didn't. I couldn't. She means everything to me. She gave me hope that I had a chance in this life. A chance to be something good. She gave me hope, Buffy."

Buffy smiled at his words, then reached out and touched the baby gently.

"Hope. That's a nice name. We should call her Hope." She said softly.

"I like that." He smiled back at her. "Did you hear that, little one? Your name is Hope." He whispered to the baby.

He stood up and climbed into the bed with Buffy. He sat next to her holding their daughter. She put her arms around him and hugged him close.

Hope was a perfect name for her. She had given Buffy hope that she would have the life she had always wanted, but feared she would never have. She had given Spike the hope that he had a place in this world. A place that wasn't evil and scary. A safe place in the world, where he was loved and where he belonged. And most importantly, this child was the hope for future.

Her life was destined to be a great one. With her she carried the hope of the world. Buffy knew it was a tall order, but if this baby was anything like her parents, she could handle it. And they'd be right by her side. It was just the Chosen One anymore, or even Two, it was Three now. From here on out it was the three of them. The three of them against the world.

The End~