With this Ring... by Lilachigh

Chapter 26: End Song

Final Chapter!

"It's my baby! Mine."

Buffy looked into his eyes and felt herself drowning in the joy, terror and sheer exaltation she could see in them. She wanted to say, 'Don't look like that! Please – no one should ever be that happy because how can that be a good thing? If everything goes wrong, how will you cope? It will hurt you so much.'

"I don't understand – how?"

For the first time in weeks, Buffy found herself trying to smile. "Well, as far as I remember, it was the usual way, but if you need me to draw you a diagram, I expect I can jog your memory!"

Spike, whose hands were still clenched round her arms, shook her gently, then looked horrified. "Sorry, pet. I meant, this can't happen, can it?" A look of alarm shot across his face. "Is everything OK, Slayer? I mean, really OK?"

Buffy eased herself away. She could hear the concern in his voice; he was worrying about the child. "The baby's fine, Spike. And no, I haven't the faintest idea how we managed this. Something to do with being in an alternate universe where the rules don't apply, I suppose. When WillowT gets back from England, I'll ask her if she's got some old book she can study."

"You haven't told her yet? Or Xander?"

Buffy shook her head. "Mom knows – and now you."

"So all the time we thought you were carrying the Key baby, you were pregnant after all?"

"Seems like it, doesn't it?" Buffy said, running her hand gently over her stomach, wishing the baby wasn't kicking so hard every time it heard Spike's voice.

"And you're OK?"

She found a glass and poured herself water. It was nice that he was worried about her, but after all, nothing had changed. "Oh, I'm five by five, Spike, as your girlfriend would say."

"Don't call her that! Faith's just a friend – a good mate – nothing more."

The glass slipped from Buffy's fingers and smashed into the sink. "You fed from her. I saw you!" She started to pick up the broken shards, then winced as a jagged edge sliced into her finger. She stared at the welling scarlet drop, then whirled round to the vampire, shaking her finger in his face. "Here – my blood – take it!"

Eyes golden, Spike vamped out, his hand flying out to catch her arm. "Don't you understand," he hissed, "I was dying. She saved my life. You – weren't – there. You didn't come back for me!" He shimmered back into human face, the anger vanishing as quickly as it had come. Before she could move, he'd taken her finger, slid it between his lips and she felt his tongue against her flesh in a caress which was as tender as their deepest kiss.

He released her finger; the cut had stopped bleeding. Buffy had the oddest sensation: the baby seemed to quiver, stop kicking and settle down inside her. She stared at this man who meant everything to her. In this world, her husband; in both worlds, the father of her child.

"How old are you, Spike?" she asked suddenly.

A raised eyebrow and a grin. "Worried about the age gap, pet? Bit late in the day. I'm not getting any older or younger. I'll be the same age when our child is six and again I might well see his sixtieth birthday!"

"I'll be a very old lady by then."

Spike nodded. "Problem we've always had. Accept it and move on, that's what we've always done."

Buffy nodded and sank down onto a kitchen chair, gazing up at him, her eyes enormous in her pale face. She'd built the wall between them and now she knew this was her only chance to take it down, one brick at a time.

"That's why I didn't come back. Can you see that? I thought you were dead, that Ben had killed you. Yes, I should have checked, moved on as you say. That's what we've always done, isn't it? Fought, solved the problem, moved on. But we've always done that together. I couldn't without you, so – so – "

"So you pretended I was still alive?" Spike frowned, puzzled.

"No! I thought you were dead, but I just couldn't face knowing for certain. All the time I was back home with Dawn and Gracie, weeks went past. I didn't forget that only days would have gone by in this world, but I refused to think about it. All the time I concentrated on Dawn and Gracie, you were alive in my mind, just not - not there!"

"But you did come back to check eventually."

"Yes," Buffy whispered. "I couldn't talk about you to Willow and Xander at home. They were delighted you were dead. Here they're your friends. I knew they would grieve with me. So I came and it was a miracle - you were still alive! But you were feeding from Faith. So I thought – I thought - "

Spike flung himself into the chair next to her. "You think too much, Slayer. That's always been your problem."

"You thought the worst of me, too, don't forget."

He thought for a moment, then nodded. "You're right – I did. I would bloody well have sworn on your life that you would have come straight back through the portal to rescue me from Ben once you'd got Faith safely away. I waited and waited. I couldn't see, but I knew I would sense when you were there – and I thought you had – "

"I did and I panicked. I should have given you my blood but I just rushed off to get help."

"And I thought it had been a dream and you didn't care enough. Then FaithT was there so, I thought – "

"Now who was thinking too much? Didn't it cross your mind that something might have happened to me in the other Sunnydale?"

Spike shook his head. "I'd have known if you'd died in any world," he said with unshakeable certainty. And Buffy finally admitted to herself that she had known, too. Deep down inside her, if Ben had killed him, she would have felt it, finally and completely. She just hadn't trusted her love for him enough, never believed that his love for her could be so sincere. Spike never questioned what he felt; she did, all the time, couldn't believe anything this deep and wonderful could really be true. Everyone she'd ever loved had left her – except him.

"Bloody hell, Buffy, with the problems we have, do you reckon that between us we might make one fairly good parent?" Spike asked. "That is if you want me around in your life, Slayer. I'll understand if you don't. As long as you and the kid are both OK, I can back off, stay here while you go home."

Buffy sighed. "Take a look round the kitchen, Spike. Notice anything missing?"

It didn't take long. "Bloody hell! The portal's gone."

"Exactly. I'm not going anywhere. Mom's coming back in a couple of weeks and I intend to have this child upstairs in our bedroom. And if you're not holding my hand so I can scream and swear at you just like they do in the movies, then don't bother coming around with flowers and candy afterwards!"

Spike was silent for so long that Buffy began to wonder if he was changing his mind. He ran his hands across his face and scrunched his fingers through his hair. "Bloody hell, Slayer, I'm going to be a father! I'm the one who needs his hand holding. Listen, if we do this, we do it together, but you have to decide now if you want me involved. I mean, what do we tell the kid when it's old enough to know its old man's a vampire? Perhaps it would be better if I just – went away."

Buffy stared at the man sitting next to her, and with her newly born intuition saw that these doubts weren't about her, they were about him. Even a few hours ago, she would have taken flight, thought he was bailing on her, but now she knew better. The look in his eyes told her that he believed he wasn't good enough. She took a deep breath: this was their last chance and it was up to her. "Do you remember how all this started?" she asked tentatively.

Spike frowned and gestured towards her stomach. "Well, we were in bed and – "

She smacked his hand, grinning as he winced. Then she picked it up and placed it on top of her bump. "We were sworn enemies back in the first Sunnydale, then Willow did loads of silly spells when Oz left town and she was so bereft."

"Poor Willow! She's lost him in both worlds."

Buffy winced and nodded. "But we got engaged because of the spell but it felt – "

"It felt right."

"Yes, because in this world we were already living together. Then we came through the portal and had to work out that we had different lives here, face Cordelia and Angel. At the end of all that excitement, we ended up getting married."

"Best thing I've ever done." He patted her stomach.

"Forget the marriage and baby bit. Go back to when we got engaged. I don't expect you to remember, but we had lots of plans for the wedding and I wanted a certain song – "

"The Wind Beneath My Wings."

Buffy stared at him. "You do remember!"

Spike shrugged, his eyes gleaming. "God awful song, pet, bloody dreary, but then, if you liked it – "

"I liked the words. I still do. I'm not…I'm not very good at saying what I feel. When that demon Sweet came to Sunnydale, it was so easy to sing how I felt. I wish I'd sung the song to you then."

Spike started to smile, then realised she was deadly serious. "Remind me, pet."

Buffy took a deep breath. The wall was nearly down now, just one more brick to go, then there would be no going back, nowhere to hide. "It's the words near the end – they say, 'It might have appeared to go unnoticed, But I've got it all here in my heart, I want you to know I know the truth, I would be nothing without you.'"

There was a long silence, then Spike stood up and pulled her into his arms. The wall between them was down now and Buffy felt every nerve in her body tingle as she realised that the world hadn't ended because she had admitted her feelings, that whatever challenges were thrown at them, they would overcome them.

"So we move on, Slayer," he said softly into her hair, then smiled as someone kicked him. "The three of us."

"Yes."

"No regrets?"

"None."

"Even though you can't go back, see Niblet and the Key baby?"

Buffy tightened her arms round his neck. "Dawn knows where I am. She knows I'm OK. I'll miss her so much but I know she has a job for life now – rearing Gracie. I don't know how she'll manage it but I know I can rely on Xander and Giles to help her. Key should take care of Key. It won't work any other way. One day, perhaps, Willow will manage to open another portal and they can come through. Or WillT might come back from England and work out a way of contacting her counterpart. But we're not going back, Spike. I've given you up twice now. There isn't going to be a third time!"

"So we stay in this Sunnydale?"

Buffy shook her head. "This town is Faith's job. No, we're moving on, Spike. We've the whole of this world to explore." She kissed him fiercely, the hunger between them burning like a flame, then said, "But wherever we go, we go together."

They stood, locked in each other's arms, not needing to say anything else. Then Buffy smiled. Spike was singing softly to her once again.

"Did you ever know that you're my hero

And everything I'd like to be?

I can fly higher than an eagle

But you are the wind beneath my wings."

Ends

© The Wind beneath by Wings: Larry Henley/Jeff Silbar

Author's note: OK, the final step of the journey has been taken. Thank you for being here for so long with me, Buffy and Spike. Do hope you have enjoyed the story. Do let me know, if you can.