Chapter Eight: Bringing Them Together
Motherhood, Buffy quickly discovered, was even more difficult than she had imagined. One good thing about the effort it took was that she barely had time or energy anymore to dwell on the past. All her waking hours were spent caring for her daughter.
Anne was five weeks old, and in the process of being fussed over by her grandmother while Buffy caught up on some sleep, when the telephone rang. Giles answered it.
"Giles? It's Willow."
"What is it?" he asked, withdrawing into the kitchen and pulling the door almost shut.
"We've got Spike."
For a moment, Giles thought he had misheard. "Pardon?"
"He's in the cage in the library. Oz found him passed out in a ditch, didn't know who he was, and offered to help him home. Then Spike told him his name, and Oz clonked him on the head and brought him here. We didn't want to try and stake him without Buffy, even if he is knocked out."
Giles closed his eyes and bit his lip. "You need Buffy."
"Yeah. I know she's, you know, on maternity leave, but Spike's kind of a special case."
She had no idea how much of one.
Giles hesitated. There was no way Buffy could stake Spike, and there was no way he was going to make her. But he didn't know how to deal with Spike himself.
"He's definitely secure?"
"Yeah, but he can't stay here too long or Snyder will ask questions."
"Willow, just leave him there for the time being, all right? Someone watch him and have the tranquiliser gun at the ready just in case."
"Wouldn't a stake be better?"
"Okay. See you."
He was reluctant to tell Buffy the truth, but what other option did he have? The thought of staking Spike himself and just letting Buffy think he was still alive somewhere out of town did occur to him, but he didn't want to be dishonest. She deserved to know what was going on.
She put a finger to her lips and whispered, "One second."
Giles hovered in the doorway as Buffy finished tucking Anne into her cradle and turned out the light before leaving the room. "What is it?" she whispered, closing the bedroom door behind her.
"I have something to tell you." He sounded serious. "It concerns Spike."
Buffy froze. "Wh-what about him?"
"He's back in town. Willow and the others have him locked in the library."
She slid slowly down the wall, shocked. Giles let her have a moment to take it in. "I thought you ought to know."
Buffy buried her head in her hands. "What does he want?"
"He's got to be back for a reason," Buffy said, muffled slightly by her hands. "I told him to go and I thought he agreed. If he's back … Maybe I should talk to him."
Giles frowned. "I'm not sure that's a good idea, Buffy."
"I may be in love with him, Giles, but I'm not a complete idiot. I'm not going to let him out of the cage. No matter how much he tries to sweet-talk me."
"Are you sure about this?" Giles pressed as they drew up outside the school.
"Are you going to stop asking me that?" Buffy said. "I can do this. I need to know why he's back." She paused and gazed out the window. "I'll stake him if I have to."
She'd brought a stake along with her. She had not held one in a while, and it felt strange. It would feel even stranger if she had to use it on Spike. She shivered and followed Giles to the library.
"Hey, Buffy, you're here!" Willow jumped up as they entered. Xander and Angel were also there, and Buffy didn't envy Willow at that point.
She didn't dwell on it; instead, she looked around at the cage just as a voice said, "Lizzie?"
A lump arose in her throat and she forced it back down as everyone else looked confused. "Guys," she addressed them, "could you leave us alone?"
"Are you going to be okay?" Willow started to ask, but Giles interrupted.
"Willow, it's all right. Come on. You too," he directed at the guys. "Buffy?"
She looked round. He gave her one of his Looks. "Don't do anything you'll regret."
"You mean like kill him?" Buffy laughed slightly. "Don't worry, I know what you mean."
Spike had been sitting in a corner of the cage but as the others left, he crawled over to the door and placed his hands on the wire. "Lizzie?"
He sounded so pathetic. Nothing like the tough vampire now. Buffy drew nearer and took a good look at him.
His hair was a mess, curling again, and the roots had started to grow out. His clothes were ripped and there were scratches all over him. Buffy slowly knelt down in front of the cage. She had meant to demand why he was back in her town. What came out instead was, "What happened to you?"
For a moment she thought he wouldn't answer. When he looked her in the eye, she saw something different. First, he seemed half out of it. Second, he was pleading.
"I got what you wanted," he babbled. "I'm a – a man now, right? Right? What you wanted."
"I don't understand."
"To be with you," he whispered. "The missing piece. The spark – not just flesh now." He placed a hand on his chest. "It hurts. It hurts. But – what you want. Please?" He stretched his hand out, as if trying to reach through the cage to her. "Worth it – for you."
Suddenly it clicked.
"Your soul," Buffy said breathlessly.
"Bit worse for lack of use."
"You got your soul back. How?"
"It's what you wanted, right?" Spike whispered.
Buffy didn't know what to think or feel as he continued to babble, part of the time seeming to talk more to himself. Spike with a soul. He did that – put himself through the pain of feeling human guilt – for her?
He had tried to convince her, she realised. Tried to persuade her that he really did love her and that it hadn't been a trick. And now – now she could no longer deny it.
"Oh, Spike," she whispered. "What have you done?"
He grinned up at her almost insanely. "Spike do good?"
Buffy stood and raised the stake. Despite the wire between them, Spike flinched, but instead of using it on him, Buffy plunged it into the lock. The door slowly swung open.
"Yes," she said. "Spike do very good."
For a moment he didn't move, and then it seemed to dawn on him that she was letting him out. "You're not afraid?"
Buffy pulled him to his feet and threw her arms around him, clutching him close. "No."
His arms tightened around her. For a few blissful minutes, it was just the two of them and time seemed to stand still. But before long it was broken with a "Hey!"
They broke apart. Xander had re-entered the library and was staring at them with his mouth hanging open.
"Giles sent me in to make sure you were okay, Buffy. What the hell are you doing? You let him out?"
"Xander, do me a favour and tell Giles the circumstances have changed." Buffy took Spike's hand and led him like an obedient child towards the exit. "He'll explain the rest."
"Where do you think you're going with him?"
Buffy looked back at her love. "There's something he needs to see."
"What is it you want to show me?" Spike asked as he and Buffy drew near her house.
"You'll see in a minute." Buffy unlocked the door and entered. Spike cleared his throat. "Sorry – come in, Spike."
"Thank you." He stepped inside just as Joyce came out of the kitchen.
"Oh, good, you're back – oh." She blinked at the sight of Spike. "Buffy, it's very late. Is everything all right?"
Buffy smiled at her mother. "Everything's fine. How is she?"
"She was asleep last I checked." Joyce was still eyeing Spike. "Buffy …"
"Mom, can you give us a few minutes?" Buffy said.
Joyce looked between the two of them, and the penny seemed to finally drop. "Oh. Oh. Is he -"
"Of course," Joyce said. "I'll just … be in here. Take your time."
Buffy motioned for Spike to follow her upstairs, and he did so. His eyes widened as they entered Buffy's bedroom, and she bent over the cradle.
For a moment, she thought Anne was asleep, but her eyes opened and looked up at her mother. "You're meant to be asleep, little one," Buffy murmured. Anne gave a small smile. "Come here, you naughty girl." Buffy reached in and picked her up. "Look who's here."
Spike was standing frozen with his mouth hanging open. As Buffy turned towards him with Anne in her arms, he croaked, "Is that-?"
"Yes." Buffy adjusted Anne so she could see Spike. "You see him there? You know who that is, baby?"
"That's right. He's your daddy."
"Daddy," Spike whispered, awe-struck.
"Do you want to hold her?"
"Like this." Buffy transferred Anne over to his arms, making sure he was holding her right. "That's it."
"I can't believe it," Spike said, gazing down at her in wonder. A tiny hand grasped his t-shirt and her eyes closed. "She's really mine?"
"Ours," Buffy corrected softly.
"Wow." He laid a light kiss on her forehead. "She's so little. Look at her tiny fingernails!"
"I know." Buffy leaned on Spike, watching him with Anne.
"What's her name?" he asked suddenly.
"Anne." Spike looked up at her, and she nodded. "Yeah, after your mom."
"She would have loved that." He grinned. "She always wanted grandchildren. Hope she knows her wish came true."
Buffy kissed him on the cheek, kissed Anne in the same way he had, and gently took her from him to put her back to bed. "I'm sure she knows," she said to Spike as they watched their daughter sleep.
Somewhere Up High
Three of the Powers That Be looked down upon the scene, and Cupid reluctantly handed a gold medallion over to a smiling Aletta. "All right. You did it. Congratulations."
Vesta, who had just arrived, asked, "What was the bet?"
"I said that I could do Cupid's job for him," Aletta replied, not tearing her eyes away from the scene.
"Matching a vampire and a human – especially the Slayer – is not part of his job," Vesta said sternly. "There is a reason why it is called forbidden love."
"I told her that," Cupid defended.
"Look at them," Aletta said in barely more than a whisper. "They are perfect for each other. Cupid said it would never happen in a million years, so I said I could bend the circumstances to fit."
"By giving the Slayer living dreams?" Vesta said with raised eyebrows.
"It worked, did it not?"
"And they have a child." Vesta was studying Aletta closely. She just smiled at her.
"I didn't see that one coming. But I don't regret it."
There was a long silence, all three Powers gazing down at the sleeping infant and her parents. Eventually, Vesta broke it. "Cupid, shouldn't you be getting back to work?"
He pulled a face. "I want to watch for a bit longer."
"I want to talk to Aletta alone."
"Fine," he grumbled. "See you ladies later." He vanished in a puff of pink smoke.
"Aletta?" Vesta asked, hesitantly touching her on the shoulder. "Are you all right?"
She nodded in response, although a tear slipped out unchecked. "Yes."
"Are you sure?"
"William's happiness," she whispered, "is more important to me than any medallion."
"Anne -" Vesta tried, using her Earth name.
"Don't." Aletta paused. "I think I finally know now why I'm here."
Vesta nodded. "I will leave you alone."
Below, Spike and Buffy were drifting off to sleep, in each other's arms on the bed beside little Anne Elizabeth's cradle. Aletta cried silently, but mainly they were tears of joy.
"Take good care of my son and grand-daughter, Buffy Summers."
A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you're fast asleep
In dreams you will lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep …
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
The dream that you wish will come true
Author's note: I don't plan on doing a sequel to this, but if I ever get the itch to explore what happened to them next, it's likely to just be a drabble or one-shot. If you don't think you could live not knowing, there's always that useful "Author Alert" option. I do have a couple of things I ended up missing out of the fic in the end, and couldn't fit in after I had written it out, so if I don't use it in a sequel I'll probably post it as bonus content on my Yahoo group (homepage in my profile).