Summary: It takes a lot to make a Summers crack, but Buffy is coming close as, on top of her mother's sickness and the secret of the Key, she and Spike are suddenly given another huge responsibility to share.

Rating/Warnings: M (to be on the safe side) for mental illness

Canon/Spoilers: More or less canon through series 5. Begins during "Listening to Fear".

Author's note: I'm posting this in a spare moment during transfer to uni - so don't expect a quick update. This chapter is also not beta'd yet.


by Alexannah

Prologue: Transformation

The spell will transform the Conturbus, after which it will be harmless.

Giles looked up from the volume. "I think 'transform' is the key word there."

They all looked down at the baby on the table, now sleeping soundly in Spike's jacket.

"Why me and Spike?" Buffy asked. "Surely Willow and Tara would be better, considering they're actually witches."

"It specifically states that it needs you separate from the spell-casters," Giles answered. "Two 'strong' ones, it says. I don't know why, just do it."

They all looked up at the lightly glimmering mist, spreading faster now. It was acting as a portal back to its own world, and Buffy knew they had to get rid of it, so reluctantly she took Spike's hands. "Fine. But if this is one of those really long rituals, I can't stay; I need to get back to my mom and Dawn -"

"I know," Giles said gently. "It shouldn't be."

As Buffy and Spike stood directly under the Queller's stowaway, the others moved back and Willow and Tara began the spell. Light flashed across the sky and Buffy was suddenly aware of pain in her arms. Everything died down, and there was a collective sigh of relief. The mist had gone.

"Good," Buffy said. "Now, I need to get home -"

She broke off. A strange noise was coming from her feet.

Buffy was pacing, muttering expletives under her breath. "I don't have time for this," she burst out, glaring at Spike as he shushed her. "Mom has her operation in hours. You're going to have to deal without me, guys."

"Buffy, keep your voice down," Giles said. "Dawn's asleep, remember."

Buffy doubted that; Dawn was as worked up as she was.

Just then, Spike stood. Aside from the shushing, he had not yet spoken, just sat in a corner watching the baby. He had also been the first to move after the spell, removing his coat, and jacket, which he enfolded the tiny being in and carried him all the way to the house. Now he took the baby again, strode across the room and held him out to Buffy.

"Look at him," he said simply.

"Spike, I really don't think -"

"Just look at him, Buffy."

Grudgingly, Buffy looked down. As she did so, the baby stirred and his eyes flickered open and looked up at her curiously. Buffy swallowed as she drank in the bright blue eyes, long thick lashes, tuft of blonde hair, and the tiny button nose.

Spike seized her wrist with his free hand and held it up to her eye level. There were several deep cuts in her lower arm, the remaining blood that had seeped out starting to dry on her skin. The rest had fallen to the ground, right where the baby had taken form.

"Look," Spike repeated. "He's not some spell gone wrong. He's not a problem to 'deal with'." He released her arm, and held the baby out to her. "He's your son."

The silence that followed that statement was absolute. Buffy, her brain trying to catch up, carefully took the baby on her arms, still wrapped in Spike's jacket.

At that moment, Dawn poked her head around the door. "Buffy, are you coming to bed?"

"I – no, not yet," Buffy said, her mind elsewhere. "Is Mom all right?"

"She's still talking to herself," Dawn said. "But otherwise yeah. Hey, you might want to get the kid a diaper before he ruins your jacket, Spike."

Giles stood. "I can go and get some supplies. Er – what else do babies need?"

"I'll write you a list," Spike said, tearing his eyes away from the baby and picking up a pen. At the others' looks, he said, "What? I can't know about babies?"

"No," Xander said. "Unless it's to do with appetisers."

Spike scowled. "For your information -"

"Oh, for goodness' sake!" Buffy exclaimed, then regretted it as the baby started to whimper. "Sorry, little guy. Look," she whispered furiously, giving the baby a gentle rock. "Spike, just write the list for Giles. Xander, you go with Giles and get the things we need."

Xander grumbled something like "Don't see why Daddy Vamp can't go," but took the list Spike made and followed Giles out. Buffy breathed a sigh of relief as the door closed behind her, and looked back down at the baby. He was still again, just watching her.

"Don't listen to him," Buffy instructed Spike. "I don't want you two killing each other in front of him." She nodded at the baby.

"Nah, I like it," Spike replied. "Daddy Vamp. Think I'll pass on the kid calling me that though."

"Here, Buffy, let me take him a moment," Willow said, holding out her arms. "You should get some sleep before tomorrow, anyway."

Buffy passed the baby to Willow and rubbed her eyes. "I'll be lucky."

"Think I'll just stick with 'Daddy'," Spike said to himself with a grin, apparently not having been listening to them.

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Very funny."

"What? I was serious." Spike frowned.

"I think what Spike means," Willow cut in, "is that, Buffy, if you're his mom, then Spike is just as much his dad."