Going Through the Motions
Hoping no-one knows
That I've been going through the motions
Walking through the part
Nothing seems to penetrate my heart
- Once More, With Feeling
"No, Will, I haven't picked a name yet." Buffy transferred the phone to her left hand so she could undo the buttons.
"Buffy." Willow's voice now sounded stern instead of sympathetic. "He's six weeks old, for crying out loud. You really should call him something. What about Riley Jr.?"
"Do I even have to answer that?"
Buffy groaned as the baby dribbled all over her hand.
"Well, you have to pick something. What boys' names do you like?"
"It's not a question of what names I like. Oh, ew!" Buffy wrinkled her nose. "This guy's diapers just get worse and worse."
"Don't change the subject."
"You know what, Will, I gotta go." Buffy hung up, grateful for the annoyance she was feeling – but it soon passed and the numbness returned.
She looked back down at the baby before her. Everyone had said he was a miracle – Buffy had not known she was pregnant when she jumped off that tower. When Willow had performed the resurrection spell, it had brought them both back to life.
Buffy knew that she should be feeling many emotions, happy ones, connected with this child. The problem was, she just couldn't. She could barely feel anything anymore and she hated it. She wanted to name him something that suited him – but she just couldn't think of anything.
He could tell, she thought, that she didn't feel like a good mother. Even at his young age, he was behaving differently around her – quieter and smiling less, as if he could tell she wasn't affected by him.
She wanted to love him. She just felt as if she didn't know how any more.
Buffy finished changing her son and put him to bed before collapsing into hers. It was quiet in the house – Dawn was out with friends, and Willow and Tara were out together. Willow had called because she had seen a thick book of baby names in a shop window and called to see if Buffy still needed help on the subject.
She was drifting off to sleep when there was a hard knock downstairs. Buffy groaned and pulled herself out of bed. Dawn had probably left her keys behind again.
It wasn't Dawn.
"Evening," said Spike.
Buffy made to close the door on him.
"Whoa! Easy, Slayer!" He caught the door before she could shut it completely. "I know I'm not exactly the person you wanted to see, but -"
"What do you want?"
"I found a vampire nest downtown. I know you're on maternity leave and everything but -"
"No buts, Spike. Either take them out yourself or wait. And that was a pretty lame excuse for calling."
He grinned. "You know me. Had to try." There was an awkward pause. "Can I come in?"
Buffy grudgingly let him in. "Just be quiet. The baby's asleep. And I'm trying to go to sleep, so this had better be quick."
Spike sat down in the living room. "All right, pet, you win. I just wanted to see how you are, is all. I've only seen you once in the last six weeks."
"Yes, well, I've been busy."
He chuckled slightly. "Obviously. I may not be the most experienced with babies but I know they're hard work." He smiled. "Worth it though, aren't they?"
Buffy sighed and dropped her gaze. "I wouldn't know."
Spike frowned. "What do you mean?"
She hadn't realised she had spoken aloud, but the look on Spike's face clearly told her that she was not going to get away with trying to get out of it.
"I just …" She considered how to phrase it as she sat down next to him. "I guess I'm still waiting for this maternal bond thing to materialise. Right now, I don't feel a thing."
"I'm sure if you just gave it some time -" Spike began in an unusually soothing tone. Buffy shook her head.
"No, you don't understand."
"Then make me," he said.
"You know I've never – well – got over being back here. It's still so hard, every day." She paused. Spike was still silent. He'd been her only confidant, the only one who had known she was really in heaven and who had some idea of the hell she was going through. "I just feel numb," she whispered. "All the time. I'm just going through the motions. I'm not really feeling anything. I can't even – love – my own son."
Spike shook his head slowly. "I can't believe that. You, of all people."
"The worst thing is, I know he can tell."
"It's not just him, Spike. I don't feel for anyone or anything." She looked him in the eye and whispered, "I don't think I know how any more."
"You'll find it," Spike assured her.
"How can you be so sure?"
"You've got it inside you, Buffy. You're just having trouble accessing it right now. Give it time."
"I hope you're right."
Two days later, Buffy was fast asleep on the living-room sofa. Willow and Tara had taken the baby out for a walk, leaving his mother to catch up on some sleep. Dawn was in her room doing homework when she heard them return.
"Don't wake Buffy!" she hissed, hurrying into the kitchen. She stopped short, however, as she saw Willow and Tara's grave faces and the empty pram.
"What – what happened?" she gasped. "Where's the baby?"
"I'll wake Buffy," Willow said. She was nursing a bruised arm. "She in her room?"
Dawn shook her head. "No, she's in there. What happened?"
Willow shook Buffy awake one-handed. "Buffy, wake up. Something's happened."
"What?" Buffy groaned, sitting up. Then she, like Dawn, spotted the empty pram. "Where's the baby?"
Willow bit her lip. "Buffy – he was kidnapped."
Buffy's face flooded chalk white. "H-he what?"
"We were in the park and someone jumped out of the bushes, grabbed him and took off," Tara said.
"Who was it?" Buffy urged, already pulling on her coat.
"I don't know, but they were strong. Probably not a vampire 'cause it was daylight, but still could have been a demon. They wore a hood pulled down. We didn't see a face."
"Buffy, I'm so sorry," Willow said, fighting tears. "We were completely taken by surprise and just thrown aside. We didn't have a chance to stop it."
"We've already talked to the police in case it was a human," Tara said, "but -"
"But you don't think it was," Buffy finished. "That's good."
"Sorry?" Willow said, confused.
"If it's a demon then I can hunt it down and tear its guts out." Buffy sounded so fierce they all took an involuntary step backwards. "I'll teach these things not to mess with my son!"
"So, you're absolutely sure you haven't heard anything useful, Spike?" Buffy pleaded. "Not even a whisper?"
"How many times, Slayer? If I'd heard of anyone planning to hurt your kid I'd have ripped his throat out before he even had time to finish thinking it." Xander gave a snort from the background hastily turned into a cough, and Spike ignored him. "Look, pet, if it's any comfort, if they wanted to hurt him they probably would have killed him then and there. He's got to still be alive."
"I hope so," Buffy whispered.
Spike drew nearer. "It hurts, doesn't it?"
She looked up at him, startled. "What?"
"You feel the pain of losing him." Spike placed a light hand over her heart and she didn't flinch. "Despair. Hope. And," he smiled slightly, "love."
Buffy swallowed. She had barely even noticed, but Spike was right. Burning deep inside her chest was something powerful that felt completely alien – something she had been longing for, even though it brought so much pain with it.
As though reading her mind, Spike smiled and removed his hand. "I'll bring your son back to you, Buffy. Safe and sound."
He left the Magic Shop and headed towards his crypt. Running footsteps behind him told him that he was being followed, but when he turned around he didn't see Buffy, but Xander.
"You're behind this, aren't you?" he snapped at the vampire. "You want to play the big hero and bring the baby home and Buffy will be so grateful -"
"You," Spike said, "are talking out of your arse."
"Yeah, right. You just happen to know where Buffy's son is but you have no idea who took him. Come on, Spike; Buffy's not stupid."
"I never said she was." Spike was striding in the direction of the cemetery with Xander hurrying to keep up. "Now shut up."
Xander followed him all of the way. Spike just ignored him. When they reached their destination, Spike ventured underground and retrieved the baby from a makeshift cradle.
"Buffy is so gonna stake you for this one," Xander said. "You left him here? Alone?"
"'Course not. I'm not stupid. Clem," Spike called, "where are you?"
Clem poked his face around the corner. "Oh, hello, Spike. You taking the kid back now?"
"Yeah." Spike tried to hand Clem some cash, but he refused.
"No, it was my pleasure. Lovely kid. Think his mama will let me babysit from time to time?"
"I'll ask her. Thanks, Clem."
"Right, I'm confused," Xander said as they left the crypt. "Why exactly did you do all this if it wasn't to get Buffy in bed?"
"Believe it or not, Mr. Broken Record, even I have variable motives. And for your information, I only had Buffy's – and the baby's – best interests at heart."
Spike decided to wait a few days before he visited Buffy again. When he did, he was pleased to find that she was smiling.
"Oh, Spike, I'm so glad to see you. Come in." She let him in the house, being careful not to jog the baby in her arms.
"How are you both?" Spike asked.
"I think he enjoyed his little adventure," Buffy said, gazing down at the still infant in affection. "It wore him out for a while, but he's been fine otherwise. And he definitely seems happier now, thanks to you."
Spike raised an eyebrow, and she tilted her head on one side. "Come on, Spike. I know you hired the demon to take him. And I know why you did it."
He nodded. "I thought you needed a good sharp shock to get you in touch with those feelings of yours – the ones you didn't think you still had."
"You were right," Buffy breathed. "And it's better now. I can honestly say I love him." She paused. "I'm not completely over everything yet. I need time. But at least now I'm making progress."
"Well, you're welcome."
"I've even decided what to call him." Buffy smiled at the baby as he stirred slightly, turned over and promptly went back to sleep.
"William. William Isaac Summers."
Spike blinked. "That's – I mean – is that-"
"After you? Yeah." To his delight, Buffy kissed him on the cheek. "You don't know what you've done for me, Spike. Thank you so much."
He grinned. "Don't mention it."