Title: Daddy (Part One - Book Four - The Evil Within)

Author: Nimue

Rating: PG -13

Pairing Buffy/Spike. Most major characters included.

Feedback: Yes, please

Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, UPN, Fox... Just Borrowing. (with, of course, the exception of Emma, who belongs to Buffy and Spike)

Summary: First chapter of the Fourth Book. Book One - Twist. Book Two - A New Life. Book Three - The Peacemaker Prophesy. If you haven't read them, you might get lost. In Book Four, Spike and Buffy are charged with protecting their daughter from being harmed by one among them. But who? When? The new threat is something that they never expected nor are they ready to do what they may have to do to defend Emma.



Daddy



"Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddddeeeeeeeee!" A chirping, little voice sang from the room next door. Spike opened one eye, staring at the red glow of the alarm clock. Four thirty-two AM. They had been in bed for exactly three hours and asleep for precisely twenty-seven minutes.

"Daddy! Daddy! Daddddeeee!" The voice came again like a wave crashing into his skull. Spike groaned. Buffy chuckled.

"Oh, so you're awake?" Spike murmured, nudging her calf with his bare foot.

"Umhum," Buffy sighed, smiling and stretching like a cat.

"So why don't you go fetch Emma and bring her in with us?" Spike grumbled.

"Because she's not calling me," Buffy answered, smiling. The two-year-old had a pretty good vocabulary, which did indeed include 'mummy', but she tailored her words and her pitch for her intended target. This was most definitely a Spike mission.

"She's just calling, Pet. Doesn't matter who..." Spike mumbled, pulling the pillow over his ears. Buffy tugged the cushion from his head as another chorus of "Daddy!" rang from the baby's room.

"*I'm* not the one who spent three hours teaching her to say it," Buffy

retorted. "So, go, Big Bad Daddy." She chuckled evilly, planting her foot just above his perfect backside and scooting him out of the bed.

"Alright, girl," he growled at his beloved, one foot hitting the floor.

"Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! *Help! *"

It was barely a split second between the time Spike's other foot hit the

floor until he had the sheet wrapped around his waist and was in Emma's

doorway. Buffy was behind in a flash, the comforter tucked around her chest like a towel. Emma stood in the crib, hanging onto the railing and giggling madly. Three of the fairies still stood sentry over the tow headed two-year-old, but other than a horrible case of insomnia, she looked right as rain.

"Emma?" Spike asked, stepping tentatively toward the crib, one eyebrow

raised as he approached.

"Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" The baby sang, holding her arms out. Spike lifted her up, pulling the little girl against him. Buffy walked over next to them, trying not to trip over the trailing end of a queen-sized comforter.

"Emma, you alright?" Spike said, brushing white blonde ringlets gently off her pretty face.

"Emma," the girl repeated, smiling. "Daddy."

Buffy inspected her, furrowing her brow. "Seems OK," Buffy said, shrugging at Spike. "Emma, baby, where did you learn 'help'?"

"Help! Help! Help!" She chirped like a baby sparrow, then burst into

giggles.

"Where'd you learn that one, Mite?" Spike asked. Neither of them was ever sure how much she understood. She was two and timeless. A toddler and a Prophesy. Never could tell.

"Dawnie!" The little girl giggled as Dawn appeared in the doorway.

"Nib-bit". Buffy caught her daughter's giggles and Spike smirked at the lot of them. The little girl was like a parrot. Have to watch what I say in the room next door, Spike thought.

"Dawn?" Buffy said, turning towards her sister and trying to maintain some composure. Dawn rubbed her eyes, yawning.

"What's going on? Em OK?"

"Did you happen to teach her how to say 'help'?" Buffy asked.

"Thought it was a good word to know around here," Dawn answered. "Better than 'Nib-bit'."

"Wait a bloody minute," Spike huffed. "You always..."

"*She* doesn't need to call me that," Dawn snapped.

"Enough!" Buffy interrupted, still chuckling and refereeing another round of Family Feud, Slayer style. "Dawn, not sure she's understanding the *when* here..."

"Sorry," Dawn conceded. "I meant well."

"I know," Buffy said, the giggles bubbling back to the surface for both her and the toddler. "Kinda funny...now."

"Scared me half to death!" Spike exclaimed melodramatically.

"You *are* half dead," Dawn baited, grinning.

"I should throttle you," Spike growled back. "Insult my parental skills and your pet name all in the course of a minute..."

"I *love* Niblet," Dawn sighed. "And maybe the whole 'help' thing was a

little not thought out."

"Right then," Spike agreed, trying to hide his own amusement.

"Can we go back to bed now?" Dawn was yawning almost continuously and her face was red from rubbing.

"You can. We have hyper baby to deal with," Buffy answered, stroking Emma's bare leg.

"Have fun. You know...school.. or I would help."

"Yeah, yeah," Buffy said. Emma reached forward from her perch in Spike's arms, grabbing hold of Buffy's hair and tugging.

"Ow!" The older Summers girl whined, nearly losing her grip on the

comforter.

"Eww. Are you guys naked?" Dawn whined.

"Out!" Spike ordered. Dawn giggled, bolting from the doorway.

"Shift work?" Buffy asked, looking up at Spike.

"Right," he answered. "But can we take her in with us? If we have to be sleep deprived, can we at least do it in our own bed?"

"I guess," Buffy sighed. "But no falling asleep and we are both going to have to think about the pajamas thing."

"Right."

*****

"Pulling an all-nighter?" Tara asked, rubbing her eyes and making her way into the dining room of the flat that she and Willow now shared. Willow was bent over the table, five empty diet coke cans lined in front of her like a tin wall.

"Have a big test tomorrow," Willow answered, yawning, her eyes drooping.

The caffeine had only served to give her the jitters. Her mind had fallen asleep about three hours prior.

"Usually you're much more... not last minute," Tara said, sitting down in a chair across from her, taking Willow's hands in hers.

"Been... distracted.. lately," Willow stuttered, yawning again.

"Med school?" Tara asked, looking at all of the MCAT manuals laying around the table, tucked under copies of Gray's Anatomy and Comparative Vertebrate Biology. "You know there's no rush. It'll still be there in the fall. No one will fault you if you don't get in on winter admissions," she continued, smiling serenely.

"I know," Willow replied softly. "But it's about time one of us could patch up all the ouchies. I can't do anything... magical... anymore to help."

"You help."

"Not enough."

Tara giggled. Willow looked at her curiously a moment, but was infected by the smile. "Wonder if UC Sunnydale's Med School offers Vampire Physiology."

"I think it's in the catalog, right after Demon Dentistry 101," Willow

joked. As soon as the giggles faded, that all too common uncomfortable

silence settled over them.

"There's more on your mind, isn't there?" Tara asked, cocking her head to the side and staring at her love. Willow looked at her with resignation.

"I know it sounds stupid... But I feel like something's ... wrong,"

"It's not stupid, baby," Tara said, brushing her red hair from her cheeks. "Do you know what?"

"No," Willow answered, her voice lowering in frustration. "Just feels... out of balance. Almost like everything is *too* good. So it can't be..."

"Real?"

"Real." Willow echoed.

"Is it...us?" Tara could no longer look at her. It had been a hard road getting back here. The thought that it was all for nothing was too hard. Instead, she stared at her clasped hands.

"No! No!" Willow answered, shock in her voice. "You're... perfect. I

just... I don't want to ever find out what it's like to lose you again. Not any of you. But especially not you."

"Is that what you think is going to happen?" Tara's eyes twinkled in the dim lamplight. Those eyes always mesmerized Willow.

"I don't know. I hope not. But I don't know," Willow answered, sullenly. She sighed, stretching, realizing that one more minute of anatomy might induce catatonia. "Go to bed?"

"Thought you'd never ask."

*****

"Anya, it's four am. What's with the vacuuming?" Xander huffed from

between two pillows.

"It is four thirty two and I can't sleep," she yelped over the roar of the Hoover.

"I have to get up in a hour and go to the site anyway. Can you hold off on the heavy cleaning just that long?"

The vacuum clicked off. The room was still dark. Anya had reasoned that she didn't want to disturb Xander with her insomnia, so better to leave the lights out. The vacuum? Well, that came after he didn't bother to wake up and realize that she was sleepless and scared. Scared. No clue why. But scared all the same.

"Thanks," Xander grunted, pulling the covers over his head.

"Xander?" Anya asked, jutting one leg out and crossing her arms.

"Wh...at?" he whined, tossing the covers back down.

"Xander? Do you love me?" Her voice was flat, toneless. But her eyes

crackled with emotion. Fear. Need. Desire. Xander paused a second,

spending the time it took to focus his sleepy eyes on her and not just blurt out the first thought that crept into his head.

"Of course I do," he answered, reaching his hand out to her. She grabbed hold as if clinging to a life preserver.

"Are you just saying that because of some upcoming world ending scenario?" she asked, kneeling on the bed next to him.

"No," he answered, looking at her curiously. "I'm saying it because I do. And nothing bad is going to happen." Anya shot a glance at him, reminding him of where they lived, who they associated with. "Well, nothing world ending," he corrected.

"How can you be so sure?" Anya asked, shifting nervously onto her heels. She felt worn down by unknown demons haunting her sleep.

"I can't," Xander answered. "Not really with the whole seeing the future show. But I know we've been through almost everything and made it. And I know I love you."

"Good," Anya answered, stretching out next to him, her right arm and leg

draped over his body. "You can go to bed now."

*****

Giles stood quietly in the entryway of Quentin's den. The house wasn't so much of a home but a museum. It felt barren. Musty. Devoid of life and human emotion. Staying here was almost insufferable after his recent life in Sunnydale. Constantly, it amazed Giles what Buffy had managed to do on her own. What Spike had managed to do. A sort of paternal pride flushed his cheeks when he thought of them. They had created, from the most unnatural circumstance, a life that was more normal, more pleasant, than any Giles had experienced in his days. Out of ashes, they had built a palace and ruled it wisely.

Simply put, he missed being part of that life.

Still, aligning himself with Quentin, at least for the time being, was what he needed to do to protect the very life that he had grown to love. There was no doubt that the Slayer and the Vampire could handle the demons of the Hellmouth, but this greater threat, the one that would kill their child, the one that stood before him, chatting on the telephone as if he were actually a feeling human being, would take every last one of them to defeat. It was not Quentin's, Draconius's, strength that concerned Giles, rather his complete lack of humanity. This man would turn a child inside out and wear her heart as a pendant for a moment of glory or power. That sort of evil was something of which Buffy could not conceive. And Spike, if he ever had the capacity to understand it, could no longer fathom its toll. His heart had grown too large to understand such atrocities.

"Rupert," Quentin said, setting the phone back in the cradle with a soft

click. "You said you had news of the Prophesy. I'm all ears. Sit," he

continued, gesturing at two over-stuffed chairs.

Giles had been working double time translating the text using Quentin's

information and reporting back to him, then using Spike's matrix and storing the information privately. He sent the true translation in coded bits to the one Watcher he had grown to trust. At least in matters pertaining to Quentin Travers.

"Yes," Giles responded, sitting down and unfolding a leather pouch full of musty papers. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose as he

shuffled through the pile.

"What did you discover?" Quentin asked, smiling a dry, cracked, smile. One devoid of any discernable emotion.

"It seems that the demon threat you had suspected should arise in the nights immediately preceding the Blood Moon. I believe that falls near Halloween."

"Odd time for demonic activity," Quentin replied, his hand placed pensively on his chin. Obviously a practiced maneuver, Giles thought.

"As well I thought," Giles continued. "From the description, the attack will arise in the form of a cross dimensional demon. However, the demon seems more interested in the One than the Peacemaker."

"What sort of demon?"

"Something along the lines of a Tarwali," Giles answered, showing a sketch to Quentin. "Venomous, however, the venom is not deadly. Creates a state of suspended animation."

"That seems a bit of a waste," Quentin replied, tapping his manicured

fingers on the arm of the chair. "Theories?"

"It is enormous and quite strong. His venom glands are numerous and near impossible to avoid. The suspended animation would have the added effect of being able to inactivate one of the halves of the One without transferring its essence into the other." The worry consumed Giles as he spoke. Although he knew the translation was false, he assumed Quentin would do something to distract Buffy and Spike from the threat. This, if anything, fit the bill.

"Quite a vile creature," Quentin commented, handing the sketch back to

Giles. Lenora did well in conjuring it, he thought.

"Terribly," Giles answered. "However, it is odd that this particular demon would enter this dimension in the first place. Their taste for humans, and for human culture, is minimal and they are purportedly quite intelligent."

For enough money or power, anything would be palatable, Quentin thought.

"I'm not sure," he responded. "I'm afraid I know little of them. But as you are so gifted in this area, oblige me and see what else you can

discover."

The wild goose chase continues, Giles thought. He nodded back at Quentin in response, sick to his stomach at the concept of amusing the creature before him in any manner.

"You *will* update me with any new information, will you not, Rupert?"

"Of course," Giles responded, standing. "Should we warn Buffy?"

"Absolutely. I'll send word straight away," Quentin responded with his

cracked grin. Again, Giles' stomach flipped just looking at him.

"Good, well, I'll be off," Giles replied quietly. "Please give Buffy my

regards." He knew Quentin had no intention of warning Buffy of anything. He could only hope that the dossier he had sent with both the true translation as well as the cover would make it to them in time.

Quentin studied his protégé for a moment, reading the concern in his eyes. The fear. "I'm sure she's fine, Rupert," he commented, still studying the ally he knew was his foe. For now, he thought to himself.

To be contd.