Future Imperfect by Lilachigh

Years have passed since Buffy and Spike met up in Italy after the L.A. apocalypse, years since Buffy wondered about her grandchildren they would never share. Their lives have moved on but Spike was given a gift by the Powers That Be that has changed everything. This is now off canon.

Rating: NC17

Chapter One: Grandchildren

There were two of them – a boy of about eight and his twin sister. Blond, bored, staring out of the car windows as the miles sped past. They'd fought and fidgeted, wriggled and argued for hours. The little girl had drawn ugly faces on her arms with her marker pens. Faces with horns and wicked eyes. Faces that should have scared her – and didn't.

The driver, shut away behind his glass partition paid the children no attention. It was his job to deliver them to their destination. The state they were in when they arrived was nothing to do with him. He was just glad they were sitting silently and not making any noise.

"You'll be in trouble when Granny sees that," the boy said. His sister poked out her tongue, then swished her hand over the red and purple marks, wiping them away as if they'd never been.

"You used magic! I'll tell." The boy's words were automatic and his sister paid little attention. She'd already discovered that her brother's words were just that – words. She knew she was tougher than he was. He was a sissy. He liked music and silly poetry and couldn't throw a ball as hard as she could. Although sometimes she wondered….

She magicked her dress pink, then green, then back to red again. Oh she was so bored! This stupid car ride was taking so long. All she would have to do was say a few words and she could get them to Granny and Grandad's before lunchtime. It was so easy. It was all in the old books she'd found hidden away in the basement. She didn't understand why it was forbidden to read them.

'I'll ask Granny,' she thought, her face tight with determination. And then what, the voice said in her head. And for the first time, a little ripple of apprehension ran down her spine.

She could cope with Grandad. She'd known for ever that one flash of her green eyes was enough to get her everything she wanted from him.

Granny was different. Tougher. What she said was law. If she made a rule, you obeyed it. It was Granny whom Mom had phoned when all the bad trouble had happened. When they'd returned from that weird world she'd found where everyone was a shrimp.

Mom had been furious; she'd cried.

"This is getting out of hand. I can't cope any longer. You're going to stay with Granny and Grandad for a while," she'd said. "They can deal with you. No!" she'd held up her hand – "Don't argue. You're going. Save your questions for them. They know far more about things than I do. I can't protect you any more. You've got to learn before you do some real damage." Mom's voice had sounded harsh.

So here they were. She glanced at her twin. He was gazing dreamily out of the window, singing quietly under his breath. He wanted a normal life, wanted to be a normal boy who went to school, played with their dog, took piano lessons, made model aeroplanes out of kits and hung them from his bedroom ceiling. He had eyes as blue as a summer sky and everyone loved him.

No one loved her – except twin, perhaps. Mom and Dad? She locked her arms around her knees and held them tightly against her chest. She doubted it. The look of exasperation on her mother's face was her first lasting memory. She accepted the fact that she was naughty and twin was good. She'd been told that so many times. She was always in trouble, breaking rules she hadn't known existed until she shattered them. She knew she would never be a normal girl. And she didn't want to be. What she wanted were answers to all the questions that swam through her head every night.

Why could she do these strange things so easily? Why was she stronger than the other girls and boys at school? Who were the odd, elderly people who sometimes came to their house at Christmas and Thanksgiving? The thickset, balding man who showed twin how to carve wood into strange shapes? The funny little guy with the guitar who sat and talked to her Mom's godmother all night. The incredibly old Englishman who played chess with her brother and stared at her with piercing eyes that asked a silent question she couldn't answer.

So many 'aunties' and 'uncles' all round the world, talking in riddles via the internet about times and places and things that didn't make sense.

Who was the ugly coloured woman with a painted face who came to her in the night, beckoning?

Why did she and her twin always have to wear a cross around their necks and carry a sharp piece of wood in their pockets? Why did Mom insist their bedroom windows were tightly shut every night as soon as the sun went down?

And, most important of all, why did Mom refuse to allow Granny and Grandad to visit them any more? It was nearly three years now since they'd last stayed. She could only just remember them but one memory was very clear - Granny had cried when she'd climbed into the car to leave.

"They're everything we ever dreamed of, ever wanted," Granny had said, her voice hoarse.

"I'm sorry, but I don't want you near them. I want the twins to grow up to be normal children in a normal world." Her mom's words hadn't made any sense and Grandad's hands had been shaking as he hugged twin and turned away.

They were nearly there. The girl gazed out of the car as they slowed, turned up a rough track and headed towards a long, low house, the yard surrounded by a white picket fence, shaded by tall trees.

Two figures were waiting at the door, shaded by the porch from the midday sun blazing down on the uncovered heads that glinted like silver gilt. Grandad's arm was round Granny's waist and they were smiling in glorious welcome. For the first time in months, Joyce felt the tight band of worry round her head ease a little. Granny would make everything all right again

As Billy jumped out of the car, Joyce slowly unbuckled her seat belt. So many questions raced through her mind, but instinctively she knew that the first thing she had to ask when she got the chance was the most important - why her grandparents had named her Mom, their daughter, Shanshu?

"Are they asleep?" Spike looked up anxiously as Buffy came downstairs. He was sprawled in front of the TV, his feet on the coffee table and she tapped his boots automatically as she joined him on the couch.

"Feet!"

He swung his legs down with a grin and dropped a kiss on the head that fitted comfortably under his chin. He'd hated it when three years earlier she'd cut her hair. He'd loved the long gold and amber that he could wrap round his face, tangle in his fingers while they made love. But he'd known why, of course.

They'd just got home from Shanny's, tired and upset. "I'm over forty years old," she'd said bleakly that morning, holding the scissors to her neck in front of the mirror. "Over forty with a daughter who doesn't want anything to do with me and two grandkids whom I'll never know. I think it's time I grew up!"

And the scissors had flashed, the hair had dropped to be swept away – all except for one long lock that even now he carried wrapped in silk in his back pocket. Now he was used to the rough textured blonde crop and had to admit it suited her face. Strangely, he thought it made her look younger.

"So, are they asleep?" He still couldn't believe that Joyce and Billy were upstairs in their house. It was like some bloody weird dream and he was terrified he'd wake up at any second.

"Well, Billy is. As soon as his head hit the pillow. Madam Joyce is sitting up in bed, making her toys dance around the room. But she looks bored, so by now she's probably conjured up some hell demon toys to play with!"

"Should I – ?"

"No, Spike. Do not go upstairs! You're hopeless with her. She'll have you dancing round the room as well, if you're not careful. You know you can't say no to her."

"She looks so much like I imagine you did when you were eight," Spike grumbled in apology. He knew his granddaughter had him wrapped round her little finger. But he couldn't help it. The first time he'd seen her, she'd opened those big green eyes and stared right at him. Oh, they told him a baby's eyes didn't focus that early and to her he was just a blur. But, bloody hell, he knew different. Joyce had seen him, smiled and put him on the top of her slave list for life.

Buffy sighed, wriggled free of his arms and turned off the television. Spike got up and poured himself a scotch. She watched, smiling slightly. She would never tire of gazing at the lithe muscled length of him. There wasn't even a touch of grey in the blond hair that curled a little looser on his head than it had all those years ago.

Twenty-five years they'd been together now and their love was just as strong as it had always been. And they showed it – oh god how they showed it.

She grinned and he raised an eyebrow in query.

"I've just realised we're going to have to be a little bit, well, quieter than usual in our room, sweetheart. Four little ears will hear everything."

"Not my fault if you scream a lot, Slayer," he said. "But we could always try a gag. That'd be fun!"

"Ssshh!" Buffy looked up instinctively at the ceiling. She didn't trust Joyce not to be listening. Well, she didn't trust Joyce full stop. "We must act sensibly in front of them."

"Look, pet, we've just got to be ourselves. We can't be anything else. Shanny's sent the twins here so we can help them. If we start trying to be what we're not, they'll see straight through us and not believe a word we say."

Buffy bit her lip and sat down again on the couch, tucking her feet under her. Spike put down his glass and stood behind her, his fingers massaging the hard muscles that ran down from her neck into her shoulders.

"We made so many mistakes with Shanny," Buffy whispered. "She broke our hearts, you know she did. How can we be sure we won't make the same mistakes with the twins?"

"We did our best with Shanny, luv," Spike said slowly. "Let's face it, having a miracle baby in the middle of an soddin' apocalypse isn't the easiest thing to cope with."

His mind flashed back to that incredible time – he'd died in Sunnydale, then, somehow the Poofters that Be who seemed to think they could do just what they liked with people's lives, had brought him back. And given him half of the Shanshu prophesy as a reward.

He was still a vampire, still had a soul, but, they'd told him, there was a small part of him that was now human – he would age as a human being. His reward for saving the world by dying was that he would eventually die!

He could still remember the mixed emotions that had torn through him. Disgust at having been brought back at all, then joy that he could go to Buffy and face a future with her when they would grow old together. He chuckled now and slid over the back of the couch to lay full length, his head pillowed on her lap.

"What's funny?"

"Remembering the look on your face when you opened the door in Italy, pet. My nose still aches where you punched me!"

"I should have aimed lower if I'd had any sense."

"You mean my teeth?"

"Lower still, vamp boy!"

"Ouch! Then there wouldn't have been any Shanny."

They lay in silence. For that was the other part of the Shanshu prophecy, the part the PTBs had forgotten to tell them about. Vamp with a soul, living a human life span and oh, you didn't take precautions? Oh dear, that was the other part of our gift - you see, you can now father a child…

...

…somewhere overhead the denizens of hell were waging war on earth. Deep in the Roman catacombs, the Slayer was giving birth in the pitch dark, the gloom broken only by a few candles and oil lights. All around her lay the skulls and skeletons of much earlier massacres.

Spike was defending the entrance tunnel to where Buffy lay. The first wave of demons had been beaten back; surprised at the ferocity of the welcome they'd received.

"My sword arm aches." Andrew moaned. He was massaging his wrist and trying to ignore the purple blood that was dripping all over his new, white, Italian cut jeans.

Spike leant against the wall, trying to listen for the next attack and not think about Buffy, lying on a bundle of old clothes, wracked with labour pains. He glanced across at Andrew and felt a reluctant twinge of admiration. He was such an unlikely warrior. Who else would have put on the latest fashion gear to die in? And his sword skills were nil, zero, bloody non-existent. But that was how he survived. Some of the demons were so puzzled by the response to their attack that they dropped their guard and Andrew dispatched them, almost by mistake.

"Do you think she'll be much longer?" Andrew asked. "It's been ages since she started and we can't put Plan B into action until she's finished."

Spike glared at him. "My girl is giving birth to my child. She can take as long as she bloody well likes!"

Andrew shrugged and examined his fingernails closely. "I was just saying she's taking a long time, that's all. You know Mr Giles wants to flood these tunnels with water from the Tiber. He can't do that until – "

A fanged face swooped in front of his, "What part of "as long as she bloody well likes" don't you understand?"

"OK, OK," Andrew shrank back against the stone tunnel wall. Jeez, Spike was so scratchy since Buffy had got herself pregnant! Not nearly as cool as he used to be. He sighed. He wished they could get out of here and back into daylight. He wished his new jeans weren't ruined. He wished his sword wasn't so heavy. He didn't really understand the Shanshu thingy. He'd overheard some of the others talking, wondering if Angel had been given anything. He'd apparently defeated some huge evil as well.

Spike suddenly turned, his nerves jangling. He'd heard his girl screaming, not just with his ears, but with his mind and his heart. "Stay here! Don't let anything pass. I'll be back," he snarled at Andrew and raced away up the tunnel.

The shelves of skulls led him to a dark little room, filled with the overpower scent of blood and sweat. Dawn was standing in the doorway, wiping sweat off her face with a towel. He could hear Buffy moaning inside and thought he was going to die. "What's happening, Dawnie?" He went to go past her, but she reached out to stop him.

"Spike, she's hanging in there. We'll manage. You haven't left Andrew by himself, surely? We need another ten minutes or so. We can't move her now. You've got to stop them. The best you can do for her is give her time, Spike."

He stared into Lil Bit's honest eyes and it was one of the hardest things he'd ever done – turning and going back into battle, leaving Buffy with her own fight, one he couldn't help her with….

...

…"She arrived at a bad time," he said, twenty-four years later. "Bloody hell, Buffy, I don't even remember looking at her for two or three days. She was just a tiny bundle Dawn was carrying while we fought our way out of Rome."

Buffy shuddered. Some nights in her dreams she was back in the catacombs, in the foul dark, exhausted from giving birth, full of an unbearable happiness that she'd had Spike's daughter, and unable to think or feel for her. Quite incapable of feeding her, but knowing that Dawn had somehow got a supply of formula and whoever was the least tired of the group at any one time would be giving the baby a bottle.

Within an hour Buffy had been forced back on her feet, fighting every inch of the way until Giles and Robin had managed to blow up something and flood the waters of the Tiber into the underground system, sweeping away monsters and demons alike.

But that had been just one victory. For four years they'd fought the evil that had taken over Europe, driving it into the sea, killing, slaughtering, taking back the countries, one by one. And all the time, a little girl with tangled brown hair and frightened brown eyes had travelled with them. Kept away from the discussions about death and destruction, hidden away during the fighting, but Buffy had often wondered how much she'd seen, how much she'd understood.

"We were so selfish, Spike. Perhaps we should have given her to Dawn to raise back in the States," she said, looking down to where the vampire was lying with his head on her thighs, running her hand over the smooth black T-shirt that covered a chest as muscled as it had been all those years ago.

Spike reached up and caught her fingers in his. "She was our daughter, pet. Our little miracle. our Shanshu. We loved her then and we love her now. "

"Mommy says you never really loved her, Granny Buffy!"

Spike swore violently as he and Buffy sprang apart and turned to see their granddaughter, Joyce, in the doorway, staring at them with angry, defiant green eyes.

Buffy sighed. She knew that lots of little children came downstairs in the middle of the night when they were staying in a strange house. And probably lots asked awkward questions about their parents – but how many did so when they were floating two feet off the ground!

tbc