Post Season 7- Non-canon beginning at the end of the final episode. No comics. Buffy and Spike find themselves trapped in a void between two dimensions, watching their mirror images acting out pieces of their lives in another realm. If both halves can find true love, choose each other, and make some other important choices, Buffy and Spike will have a chance to rejoin their world, and have a chance at starting over from the point where they perished in the Hellmouth.
Dedicated to Omslagspapper (the fabulously talented cover artist), Ginar369, Illusera, AGriffinWriter, and .
Direct quotes from shows or songs are obviously not mine, but belong to the enormously talented people who created them.
Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine.
"You sure this isn't gonna hurt little us?" Spike asked softly.
"Survey says no." Buffy looked down at her husband as she climbed atop him. "Unless you think I'm too heavy for you? With this little kangaroo pouch I've got going on?"
Spike gave her a withering glance. "Think I can handle it, Luv." He prepared to give her a lecture on insulting her beautiful feminine form, luscious to him in its slightly swollen state. Three months in and she wasn't even showing. Just slightly fuller looking, due to the fact that she was so petite to begin with.
But Buffy stopped that lecture before it could begin, sliding her pouting, wet sheath over him and rocking back and forth, working him all the way in.
"Oh, Christ, Sweetheart..."
"See? Not hurting in the least." She giggled. "Besides, I can't let you get too 'dominant male'."
"Oh, Pet, you can be the dominate one in here any day." He gave her a lascivious smirk.
"Naughty." She glared at him playfully.
"Well, yeah, that's the idea." He reached up and cupped her breasts gently, on the undersides, fingertips avoiding the extremely sensitive nipples.
"No, I meant you were being naughty! As in stop." She blushed, as she did whenever he suggested she could do something bordering on the dominant or submissive side.
"You know it's only about us, Luv. An' I just meant you can own me however you like." His hand traveled to her claim and squeezed it hard, circling his thumb into the yielding flesh. "Already belong to each other, don't we?"
"Yes. Oh God, yes..." She rocked harder, her hands leaving his pecs and fastening high up on his shoulders, one thumb finding his claim and brushing over it in agonizing streaks.
"Hell, Slayer!" He groaned and arched his hips up uncontrollably.
"That's what I meant," Buffy tried to explain through her wave of pleasure. "You- with the patrolling, and the packing, and driving Willow and me to school whenever I have class. I'm not helpless, you know."
"No, but you are carrying someone who is." He held her hips, gritting his teeth, willing himself not to buck into her harder. Urging himself to just relax, let her ride as she liked, knowing he would get incredible sensations without any effort, and more importantly, without any accidental injury.
"You're so sweet." She changed positions, flattening her body to his.
"Nowhere near as sweet as you, my pretty peach." His lips tasted hers and nuzzled over her chin and into her claim, sucking hard and lightly scraping with his dull human teeth.
"You can let go, Baby. You won't hurt him. He's tough. Like his daddy." Buffy encouraged.
"Like his mum." Spike countered, giving in and grinding himself into her, slowly circling. "You sure-"
"Yes!" Buffy bit down on his neck with sudden fury. "He's safe! You'll see tomorrow. You're coming, right?"
"Hell, yes!" Spike slammed her hips to his own, hands steering her from her waist. "Only been waiting for-bloody-ever for this."
"It's just going to look like a blob. No freaking out." She warned.
"Wish everyone would stop treatin' me like I'm some ancient relic. I do understand modern technology. Quite a bit better than Rupert, actually. Quite a bit better than some pregnant blonde I know, as well."
She growled at him and nipped him harder, rocking her hips furiously now.
"Oooh, Slayer." Spike gave a dark snicker. "Think I like when I piss you off."
"You are having entirely too much fun with this." Buffy sighed, looking into his eyes as she lifted her head. Her sudden smile lit up the darkness. "I'm so glad."
"You still glad about this baby-making thing?" Willow asked in an exhausted voice, dragging herself back into bed.
"Thrilled about the baby-making. Miserable about the sick-Willow thing." Xander handed her a large glass of ginger ale. "Yo- you in there." Xander leaned over in bed and put his lips to Willow's pajama covered stomach. "Stop giving your mom such a hard time."
"Listen to your father." Willow groaned, sitting back up.
"Again?" Xander followed her down the hall to their boxed up bathroom.
"He doesn't like ginger ale tonight, I guess." She sat on the edge of the bathtub and Xander clumsily put her hair in a bun, pulling it back in case she was about to get sick.
"You want saltines?"
"No. No, just some water?"
"Anything for my girl." Xander trotted off. Willow clutched her stomach and smiled after him.
"Did we pack all the cups already?" Xander called in a moment.
"Should be two cups, two plates, two of the basics sitting on top of the microwave!" She shouted down the stairs.
"Found it!" Xander returned shortly, carrying a glass of ice water and a concerned look. "Here, Honey. I'm sorry the kid's making you sick, Wills."
"It's gonna be worth it." She gasped and winced, before diving for the toilet again. Xander awkwardly patted her back, and waited until the latest bout of morning sickness was over, asking himself, for the millionth time, why his kid didn't know that it wasn't really morning and that he could lay off.
Willow rinsed and brushed yet again, and Xander hovered in the background, single eye watching her with concern. "You know what?"
"You're going to be such a great dad." Willow beamed at him, and Xander felt the knot of nameless dread in his stomach uncoil.
"I hope so."
"I know so."
"Sul? What are you doing?" Jim came downstairs after hearing three successive crashes in the kitchen.
"I know Ess's sick in the mornings, so I'm making her a special breakfast." Sul said matter-of-factly. "See? Toast without anything on it, those little white crackers she eats when she barfs, and Sprite." Sul gestured to a cookie sheet with all the items on it.
"That's so sweet." Jim kissed his son's head. "But Sul- it's the weekend. Ess's not gonna be up for another hour. And the crashing?"
"I couldn't get the big cookie sheet out from all the other cookie sheets. At first."
"That explains it." Jim pulled up a bar stool at the kitchen island and Sul joined him. "You still psyched about the big brother part?"
"Yes! Duh." Sul rolled his eyes.
"Just asking. You seemed a little bit-" Jim groped for a word. Ever since coming back from a flying visit to Anna at her mom's house in New York, Sul had seemed more sedate. Jim didn't know if it was because Anna and her mother asked a lot of hard to answer questions about his new life with the growing family, or if he missed her more severely now, or some other reason. "I don't know, Sul. Just checking on you. My baby boy."
"Hey, I'm not a baby boy." Sul smiled. "I'm a big brother."
"You're both. You're still my baby boy. When you're 87 and have 15 grandkids of your own, Sul, you'll still be my baby boy."
"Promise." Jim idly rearranged the toast with his slender, skillful fingers, finding Sul doing the same thing with the crackers. "Were you worried about that?"
"Uh. Not really." Sul started building a pyramid. "Hey, Dad, Ess's gonna be okay, right? This is just that morning sickness. It goes away soon, doesn't it?"
"Should stop in a couple more weeks. You worried about her?"
"Maybe. A little. Yes." Sul suddenly scooted sideways, and Jim did the same so they were sitting knee to knee. "Grandma said something, and I know she didn't mean to say anything, and I know Mom didn't mean for her to say anything, so don't get mad at them."
"I'll try." Jim's warning bells began to ring and he forced his features to remain calm. If Anna made him feel guilty or jealous, or worse... "What did she say?"
"She said in her day people waited to tell the good news until much later since miscarriages happen." Sul's blue eyes were wide and terrified. "I know what a miscarriage is."
"I know you do." His son had turned into a regular pregnancy resource guide in the last month, just by endless questioning. He knew the terms. Didn't mean he understood everything about it. " And that's true, people still do that." Jim cursed himself. He really should have waited, but how could they, when good news like that just begged to be shared? Especially when you were part of such a close knit group, and such a small family. "We should have waited a little longer to tell you, Sul, probably. But you would have figured it out by now. The constant barfing for the last month might have tipped you off."
"Is she sick because the baby's sick?" Sul whispered, not looking at his dad.
"No! She's sick because sometimes pregnancy is icky and hard. And that's why good sons like you help. Breakfast in bed, Sul, that's pretty sharp."
"You promise the baby's okay?"
"I promise as best I can." Jim hugged him close. "Even if something happens, Sweetie, we'd get through it. We take care of each other. And Ess loves you like she loves this baby. You might not have really met her until you were six, but you're her baby boy, too."
Sul nodded in his father's shoulder and then looked up at him with determination, blue eyes glinting and jaw set, a look that Jim hadn't seen since the weeks leading up to the wedding. The kid was on a mission. "I'm going to make more toast. This is cold. And then, we can surprise her with this. Okay?"
"Sounds like a plan."
"This isn't just for her though. I love Ess, but this is for the baby. I want him to be healthy. And I really want him to stop making her throw up."
Jim laughed and cast a sigh to the second floor. "Me, too."
"Hold my hand?" Buffy whispered.
"I'm right here, I'm right here." Spike chanted, staring at the screen and her, and then back. The technician returned.
"Sorry about that. Here's the gel. Just lift up the hem of your shirt-" Buffy obeyed. "And here we go."
Spike stared open mouthed at the screen as a segmented blob appeared. "What- is that it?"
"That's it." The technician started to explain. Buffy watched silently, nodding, the lump in her throat making words impossible to say. Spike on the other hand, had no such difficulty.
"Lookit that, that's the arm, Buffy. Wave to your mum!" Spike got in the technician's way, pointing at the screen, peering at it eagerly. "An' that's the head, right? Bit mashed just yet, Luv, but bet he's a cutie like you."
"This is your first baby?"
"How could you tell?" Buffy laughed finally.
"I love it. I love seeing parents see their child for the first time. Let me get some measurements. Uh- Mr. Summers? Mr. Summers, I need to see the screen..."
"Spike! Sit next to me for a minute." Buffy's voice penetrated the haze surrounding her husband and he sat.
The measurements were taken and the technician nodded. "Normal size. Excellent. And from what I can see, everything is growing at the correct rate."
The parents heaved a sigh of relief. "One more thing, and then we'll be done until next month." The technician flipped a few switches and placed a different piece of apparatus on Buffy's stomach. "Heartbeat."
Spike tensed. C'mon, All Powerful and Co... Let 'im be like his mum, not like me. Know I called you wankers, but-
Thud-whoosh, thud-whoosh, thud-whoosh. The sound of the heartbeat, magically magnified by the machine, filled the room. Spike cheered, "It's beating!", and Buffy nodded, sighing with relief.
The technician, however, didn't share their smile. "You see this number here?" He tapped the bottom of the screen.
"87?" Buffy asked.
"Yes." The technician's voice became grave.
"Why, what's the problem?" Spike clutched Buffy's hand harder.
"That's beats per minute. Heartbeats. Anything over 110 is acceptable."
"Are- are you saying he's-?" Buffy's face slowly crumbled and Spike stood abruptly, torso over hers, face leaning into the technician's.
"You better watch yourself, mate. Speak very carefully, here. Is my son okay?"
"I'm sorry, we can't tell anything with one reading. If you'd like to come back in a week, we might see-."
"That's it?" Buffy sat up angrily. "My son's heart rate is way under normal and you're sorry? Do something, now!"
"Well, Mrs. Summers it's-"
Thudwhoosh, thudwhoosh, thudwhoosh. The room fell silent, except for the thundering noise of the fetal heart rate monitor.
"That's my boy!" Spike listened with pride at the strong, steady heartbeat.
"B-but, the thingy says 89 now, that's not a big difference!" Buffy cried, pointing.
"I-I have no idea." The technician confessed. "It's like it projects one heart rate but it's capable of much more."
"Like someone who doesn't get winded after a lot of runnin' about?" Spike gave a sidelong glance at Buffy.
"No, not exactly..."
"We'll come back in a week. It'll be fine. I'm sure." Buffy pushed the monitor off her stomach and sat up. They ignored the protests of the nurse and left the room.
"Sod." Spike kicked the carpet viciously as they waited to make an appointment.
"It's okay." Buffy smiled reassuringly. "That was no weak little heartbeat. Baby's fine. Everything's fine."
"No, it isn't! He's like me. I-my heart doesn't beat, Luv, but you know better than anyone that I can get winded. That I can speed up an' yet nothin' on me will ever change. No pulse, no blood pressure..."
"Spike. It has a heartbeat. It's human." Buffy took his hand. "Maybe a little bit like you. But that's okay with me. Seems to take after you in other ways, too."
"Oh yeah. When I get upset, baby flies off the handle. You heard that little powerhouse."
"Takes after you then." Spike grinned. "Doesn't make any sense though, Luv. We could hear it speed up, why does it read so slow on the gizmo?"
"I have no idea. Research party?" Buffy suggested. Spike groaned but delayed answering as Buffy took some cash from her purse and paid the fee, making another appointment for the following week.
Spike put his arm around her and kissed her head. "A research party? That's gonna be a real treat, Luv. Chief researcher hurling all over precious ancient texts, plus the fact that there is nothing to research! We're unique. Never been done before, an' prolly never done again."
"Oh, I don't know. We've got two little blue beads left in the Amore-thingy. What do you think? Should we pass it on to someone else?"
"Not yet, Pet. But- can we please see how we do with the first one before trying to think about more?"
"Yeah. Good point." Buffy shuddered suddenly.
"What's wrong, Luv?"
"Just thinking. How am I supposed to put up with you, and Spike Jr.?" Buffy winked and Spike growled.
"It's a good thing we need to go see the Watcher, my girl, or I'd point out what a livin' hell my life might be like if Jr. is anything like you."
Later that evening, the entire gang was gathered around the coffee table in Giles' living room. "Dawn? What are you doing reading a book of 20th century plays? Try 'Magical Offspring' of 'Halfling Interactions'." Giles suggested to the freshman curled up in an armchair.
"Can't until I finish this chapter. Essay due on Friday." Dawn mumbled.
"Give 'Magical Offspring' to me, Giles, I'm all done with 'Demonic Impregnations'." Willow held out one heavy book in exchange for another.
"Are you sure you're-uh- quite well?" Giles held the book protectively. "I believe there are only 28 copies of this book left in the world, and I-"
"Are you done tossin' your cookies, Red?" Spike cut through the folderol.
"For a couple hours. Nothing left to toss." Willow explained weakly. Buffy gave her a sympathetic, but guilty look. "You don't have to feel bad, Buffy. I'm glad you're not sick."
"I'm glad little Willow or little Xander has a normal heart rate." Buffy rested her hand on her stomach. "I'm sure he's okay."
"Why is it always 'he'?" Xander demanded, slamming shut another seemingly useless book.
"Slayer dream. It's a he. Or at least- one of our kids should be. 'Cause it was totally a boy."
"It didn't have fangs, right?" Dawn grabbed her Watcher's journal and opened it over her text book.
"No! But it was pale. It looked like Spike. But a child version. Beautiful."
"Had your eyes, Luv. That's what made him beautiful." Spike closed his heavy tome with a deep sigh. "This isn't workin'. As I pointed out three hours ago, there is nothin' on vampires and humans matin' because it hasn't happened before. Even if there was something about it, I doubt it would give useful information like prenatal heart and growth rates."
"Spike's right." Giles paused as he heard the words leave his mouth. "I'll never get used to that. But no, he is right. Buffy, if the child is growing normally, and the heart beat is strong, I wouldn't worry too much about the speed. Yet. I do want you to take the week off from patrolling, though." Buffy opened her mouth to protest, eyes instantly flashing. Giles used his personal ace. "I mean it. In case the strain is affecting my grandson."
"Damn." Buffy hissed. "You play dirty, Giles." She accused, slumping in her seat.
"Yes, well," Giles smirked and tugged the small silver ring in his ear. "Sometimes it's the only way to play." He stretched and stood up. "Spike, Xander? Patrol?"
"On our way." Xander kissed his redheaded lover farewell and Spike did the same.
"But don't stay out too late!" Buffy called plaintively. "Another week until the move!"
"We should never have rented the same truck." Xander griped to Spike, a week later, as they hoisted box after box from the Summers' house onto the half-size moving van.
"Doesn't matter, does it?" Spike grunted, easily picking up the recliner by himself with a combination of vampiric and shared slayer strength. "Your stuff, my stuff, the Watcher's stuff, all gonna get left at all of our houses eventually."
"Did you pick out which room is Dawn's and which is the kid's?"
"Buffy's got it organized. I'm just muscle." Spike grinned. "An' thank God, 'cause stayin' with her when she's on light duty is bloody annoyin'. Never knew a woman could color code so many things in my life..."
"Willow's too sick to code, she's too sick to do anything. She missed class this week. She never missed class. She went to class in a wheelchair once."
"Poor little mite." Spike said with genuine concern. "The new digs'll perk her up though. An' I'm glad one of us has a wife who isn't completely round the twist."
"Hey!" Xander dropped the carton of books he was carrying, sending it to the floor with an angry shout. "You don't ever say that!"
"Oi, mate, you know I love Buffy, I was only jokin' about her bein' off her nut."
"Not that! The other thing! The other thing!" Xander climbed from the back of the truck forward, fist drawing back.
"What- whoa, Xan, wait." Spike ducked a blow. "Could you tell a man what he said before beatin' him senseless?"
"You called her my wife! She isn't my wife! She'll never be my wife! Anya was supposed to be my wife, you bleached blonde jerk!" Xander swung and Spike ducked.
"Hold on!" Spike cast a nervous look over his shoulder. "C'mon, don't do this here, our girls are gonna come rushin' out, an' the strain isn't good for them, 'specially Red."
"Don't you dare use her to protect-" Xander felt himself pinned to the metal wall of the truck's interior, and his voice dropped to a low growl. "Let me go, Spike."
"Not until you settle yourself a bit!" Spike snarled. "I didn't mean to say it. I'm sorry. I mean it, I'm sorry, wasn't thinking." He slowly eased his hold. "Alright?"
Xander heaved a deep breath. "No. But I forgive you. She can't be my wife, Spike. It's not right."
"Okay, okay, please yourself." Spike soothed. The two men began loading the truck again, this time in silence. Finally finished cramming it full, they raised the metal ramp and pulled shut the segmented door. Spike cleared his throat. "Not to get myself staked, but I did think you were smarter than this. Thought you learned not to let a second chance slip by."
Xander's lips curled in fury, and Spike backed up, apologizing.
"I'm sorry. I wouldn't say it if I didn't see it. Why are you so put out, I thought you an' Red were happy together?"
Voice soft, but dangerous, Xander met his reluctant friend's gaze. "I know it's the wrong thing to do. But the truth is, I've thought about it."
Spike swallowed any further comments, smelling the suppressed rage in the man, and accurately defining it is as rage at himself, not at anyone else.
They worked in silence for the rest of the night, leaving all the boxes in the truck for daylight, when the PRC and Dawn's drama club buddies who were still in the area would handle the light work under Dawn, Buffy, and Willow's supervision. "That's all then. Just the beds and some toiletries left at the old homestead." Spike sighed. "Was a nice place to live, yeah?"
Xander locked the small three bedroom colonial that stood beside Dawn, Spike and Buffy's slightly larger four bedroom house. Giles' had the same model home as Xander and Willow's but his was up the street and just past the cul de sac. "Yeah. I'll miss it. A lot of good stuff happened in that little townhouse."
"It did. For us, too. And even old Rupes, I s'pose. Did he want us to pick him up on our way back to Ridge View?"
"No, you know him. He'll be setting up the bookcases and organizing everything for 24 hours straight. I'm surprised he didn't just let us move everything in for him tonight."
"Yeah." Spike agreed, relieved that Xander was speaking to him again, and rather annoyed with himself for feeling that way. They climbed back in the moving van and Spike drove them home.
"Hey, Spike?" Xander didn't immediately exit the vehicle as it pulled up beside his truck. Spike turned his head to lock gazes. "Don't mention this to Willow. The- bad conversation."
"I won't." Spike nodded once. Xander started to slowly ease out of the car, and Spike, with a much annoyed sigh, grabbed him back in. "Whoa, what's with the pulling?"
"I hate myself for interferin', God knows I do, but jus' gotta tell you one thing. Never thought it was a bad thing to put a ring on someone's finger to show you love 'em. To prove- not that you need to prove, but to show, that you belong together. Never thought it was bad. An' Anya didn't think so either." Spike gave Xander a hard shove out of the truck, leaned over and pulled the door shut before he roared off. Not like the boy couldn't follow him, he was only the equivalent of a few blocks away. But maybe give him a minute to think before flappin' his gums. Sometimes people needed a bit of a push. Or a soddin' kick to the head...
"It kicked! It kicked! Jimmy! Sullivan!" Ess shouted through the house, abruptly putting down her light free weights. "It kicked! It kicked, the baby kicked!" Ess left the exercise room at a brisk jog, smacking neatly into Jim as he rounded the corner from the living room.
"No, Mist. Yes, the baby!" Ess yanked his hand down to her stomach. "It wasn't a big kick, it was more like a ripple, like a little roll."
"Did I miss it, did I miss it?" Sul pounded down the stairs, jumping the last three. Jim silently thanked heaven it wasn't the last six, like last week, hence the ace bandage wrapped around the kiddo's wrist. He needed to stop acting like he was doing his own stunts around the house, be a more solid father figure. He was about to have twice the workload, parent wise.
"It stopped, but it'll start again." Ess sat on the couch, Jim's hand folded over hers as it rested on her stomach, possessive and delighted. Sul placed a hesitant finger tip on her belly. "You can touch me, I won't break." Sul moved a couple inches further in and his eyes widened as a flutter of movement darted softly under his palm.
"Wow." He breathed. "Wow."
"Hope this one doesn't bruise ribs, like you did." Jim ruffled Sul's hair.
"I bruised ribs?" Sul looked both pleased and horrified with himself.
"You were one heck of a little kicker."
"This feels fine. No pain. I love it." Ess leaned back, contentment washing over her.
"Me, too." Jim snuggled his family of three, no four, he corrected mentally, closer.
"Me, three." Sul put his head lower, listening for any hidden baby noises. "I'm glad you married Dad."
"I'm glad he asked me."
"Will? I wanted to ask you about something. Will, could you put down the ancient magicky thing for a minute?" Xander gulped nervously. His lover ignored him, and walked through the completely unpacked living room, the sacred object in her hands.
"Just a minute. Need to find just the right place. It's pretty rare. And it's pretty."
"It's a wooden thing with a crystal in it, Will. Could you please sit down?"
"It's the last thing left to unpack. For this room anyway."
"Yeah. Now all we need to do is the guest room, the dining room, and the kid's room." Xander got up, pulled Willow down on the couch and put the relic on the coffee table. "There."
"Yeah. That looks okay, actually." Willow leaned back, hands resting on her very slightly protruding middle. "I think we did good. For only being here for two weeks, and me throwing up for half of it."
"Glad the little wicca is feeling better, and you're feeling better." Xander smiled, a muscle ticking in his cheek.
"Me, too. Xan? Were you gonna ask me about something?"
"Just an idea." Xander gulped. "I was thinking about stuff. You know. For the kid. But no pressure."
"You're starting to wig me out now." Willow laughed. "Why the serious?"
"No! Not serious. Honestly, just an idea. Not even an idea, a whim. An important whim, but a whim, a-a fancy."
"And now I'm officially about to panic. You don't say whim and fancy. Did you hit your head?"
"No. Umm, look, it's only a teeny, tiny idea, and I'm okay with whatever you decide." He rubbed the back of his neck anxiously. "With the baby coming, I thought, it might make sense if you and I- made things legal. Guardianship. Health insurance. Legal issues, you know, all that stuff."
"Make it legal? Make us legal?" Willow's eyes widened to dangerous levels. "Like married? With a ring and a dress and all the trimmings?"
"No! No, I didn't even buy a ring. I didn't know what you'd say." Xander looked at his knees. "Maybe it was a stupid idea. I didn't want a wedding, Will. I just wanted to be married to you."
"I understand, Will. Maybe you don't love me like that. I can understand if you don't. I know part of me doesn't. I know part of me thinks it's wrong, it's not fair. Why should we have what was meant for someone else?"
"No, Baby, listen-" Willow cupped his cheeks in her hands, but he shook his head away from her touch.
"And then part of me goes, 'Hey, why are we supposed to give up things? Is it fair not to have things we want, just for the sake of things we couldn't control?' I don't want to make it a big deal. Not like the wedding Anya should have gotten, that I should've given her. I don't even care if our family comes. I don't care if it's just you and me at the courthouse." He looked at her, strain on every inch of his face, breathing hard with pent up emotion and a torrent of words spoken without pausing for air. "If you want to, that is."
Willow stroked the smooth, glossy brown locks, just long enough to cover her fingertips. "I think it's a nice idea, but I thought, I mean I was sure, you didn't want to get married." She reminded him gently. As much as she admired his offer, especially motivated out of concern for their child, she didn't think that was enough to make two people take a walk down the aisle.
"I know. But I was thinking about what it means, what kind of promises you make." Xander looked at her steadily. "Do you love me?"
"Very much." She whispered.
"And I love you. They ask you to care for one another in sickness and in health." He smiled at her sadly. "I can't even count the number of times you've taken care of me."
"I think we're actually pretty even there." She caressed the hollow under his missing eye. "Mentally, magically ill is as bad as physically wounded. And a lot more dangerous."
"So, they ask you to love, they ask you to stick together in sickness and health, richer or poorer. You were still my friend when I lived in a basement." Xander took the hand pressed to his cheek and held it there.
"You loved me when we got out of Sunnydale. When we knew we didn't have anything, when we didn't know we'd get hired as 'good guys', the same thing we'd done for years, for free."
It was her turn to anxiously twist her hands, eyes on the toes of her faded suede boots sticking out from under the hem of her frayed khakis. "I wouldn't expect you to do anything different than what you do now."
"We already belong to each other." He soothed her nervous hands with his own. "For this lifetime. And that's all the ceremony says, ' 'Til death do us part'. We can still go back home to our soul mates when this is done, Will."
"A-are you doing this just for the baby?" She asked in a softly trembling voice.
"No. Just for us." He finally admitted, heart smiting him, but pressing bravely on. "If, God forbid, something happened to the baby, I'd still want this."
"How soon?" She whispered.
"Whenever you want."
"Hell to the no." Xander yelped, breaking the romantically tense atmosphere, making her smile balefully.
"Then we'll do it like we did last time, with a couple reversals. Dawn and Buffy can be the maids of honor. Spike can be your best man. Giles can give me away. B-but I don't want it big, not even big as they had. No white dress for me, no suit for you. Maybe flowers. Maybe dinner afterwards."
"Are you saying yes?" Xander clarified, heart doing a strange tap dance inside his chest, swelling up to block the air from his lungs.
"Yeah." Willow leaned in and kissed him. "I love you."
"And I love you." He coughed once, choking back a gasp and a happy laugh. "This is great!" And he swooped her up in his arms. "You and me, Wills, you and me!"
"Look, we'll do it the two of us, jus' you and me if we got to." Spike took Buffy's trembling arm and helped her into the car, unheeding of his own steaming hand as sunlight hit it.
"H-how? How could they ask us that? It's growing, isn't it? It's a baby, its got a heartbeat, i-it has little arms and legs!" Buffy broke down and sobbed completely, unashamedly, head on the dashboard, Spike racing round to the other side of the car to get in beside her and comfort her.
"Shhh. Shh, Pet, not gonna let them hurt you, or him. They don't know, they don't understand." Spike, removed from the offensive office, was able to force himself to be calm, for her sake. Inside, the demon roared for blood and violence. Anyone who suggested their precious child be 'terminated' deserved to die.
"It was bigger. They saw it. And I gained more. Not a lot more, b-but we've been moving and I burned a lot of calories." Buffy clutched at him. "What're we going to do?"
"First off, you're going to stop crying, Sweetheart. So they think something's wrong, so they think it won't make it- said the same thing about us more than once, didn't they? An' who died three times an' came roarin' back?"
"B-but the heartbeat is still the same."
"An' so is mine. Zero beats per minute, and I'm a bloody animal in the field, wouldn't you say?" He traced a smile on her tearstained face. "We'll get another doctor."
"They'll all say the same thing."
"Then we'll do it, you an' me, just like they did in the old days. Or the Alliance- they'll have a doctor on staff who'll understand what's goin' on. Or at least won't meddle."
"They can't make us-"
"No! No they can't an' even if they could, Luv we won't let 'em lay one finger on our little miracle. Alright? Spike'll look after you."
"I won't let them get you." Buffy whispered to the tiny form inside her. He remained unresponsive. Over four months and not one kick. Still a slow heart rate. The baby grew in length and breadth, but she hadn't gained any weight to speak of. They used scary words, like 'deformed valves', 'arrhythmia' and 'fatal congenital heart defect'. So, reluctantly, the obstetrician had suggested that a miscarriage might be imminent, or a stillbirth. At any rate, even if the child was delivered alive, before 20 weeks, it had no chance of survival. And it might be less traumatic, prevent suffering, if the pregnancy was terminated with help, before it ended itself.
That was when Spike had vamped, and just as quickly unvamped, yanked her off the table, finding her already raging towards the doctor, tears on her face and screams in her throat. "You lay one hand on my wife or my son, you die. You will fuckin' die, an' you will die wishin' you had been terminated before you drew your first breath."
"Let's go home. Let's get Giles." Buffy whispered.
"Right you are, Luv." Spike put the Jeep in gear and slowly drove off, throwing a hateful glance at the hospital.
"We'll have you put in a private hospital." Giles and Dawn sat side by side across the table from Buffy and Spike. "Near your due date, of course."
"Can Willow come, too?" Buffy pleaded.
"Of course. The best of care. A highly trained doctor, one with ties to the Alliance. I know the baby is just fine. He's just- he's unusual." He cast a glance at Spike. "He's most definitely not a vampire, but he may have inherited some of Spike's current physical qualities."
"He's part dead?"Dawn squeaked in a horrified voice.
"No. Part undead. Possibly." Giles winced, waiting for Buffy's reaction.
"B-but that's okay. Spike's fine. Mostly."
"Livin' a rich, full life, Luv. Got a wife, got a little one on the way, got job, a house in the 'burbs, a stodgy ol' father-in-law, a sweetheart of a sister, and b'lieve it or not, a couple good mates. People in town even known me. Mr. Summers is a goth, but he's bloody nice goth, they say." Buffy laughed as her husband concluded. "He's gonna come out swingin'. Just like his mum."
"Okay. But no more appointments with those quacks. Willow can check me, she can use some kind of spell."
"And we'll all learn the basics of labor and delivery, just in case you don't make it to the hospital in time." Dawn beamed as if she'd made a brilliant suggestion.
Buffy whimpered and Giles glared. Spike hugged Dawn as he rose and went to stand behind her.
"Shut up, Niblet." He whispered.
"No, Bit. Don't help us just now."
"Love you, Buff. Do you want us to cook tonight instead? No, no problem at all Anything we can do to help. Yeah, see you in a few." Xander gently put down the phone and then savagely punched a throw pillow.
"What's wrong?" Willow asked in a terrified voice. She knew Buffy had gone to the doctor, and she could hear her friend's tense voice in muffled waves over the phone.
"You'd better sit down." Xander muttered darkly, and began the disheartening tale.
"Should we tell them now? About our decision?" Willow asked as Xander finished relaying the sobering news from Buffy's latest obstetrician appointment. "This doesn't sound like a very good time."
"You're right. Mondo bad time. We don't even have the license yet. We don't have rings. You don't have a dress." He looked thoughtful. "Let's tell them tomorrow."
"Honey, I don't think the bad news is going to fade away in a day. They must be so upset."
"They are! That's the point. We can get their minds off it. A little bit. You girls can go dress shopping. Spike and Giles can come with me to pick out rings. Admittedly there's not much to do, since you just want a normal dress and we just want plain bands, but an hour out of the pool of misery is a good hour in my book."
Spike put down the book Willow had lent him. Apparently she was preparing for any contingency already, and had a stack of library books on home birth, and all things pregnancy in general. Buffy and he had left with an armful.
"It was nice of Dawnie to sleep over here tonight." Buffy entered the master bedroom, locking the door behind her. "I'm glad she doesn't have an evil roommate at college, and it's nice she wanted to stay here and be supportive."
"Bit loves you more than you'll ever know." Spike smiled up at her, watching her slowly undress. "You look all in, Sweetie."
"If that means exhausted, then, yeah, I'm all in."
Spike got off the bed and stood behind her, cradling her breasts carefully with one forearm while his other hand pushed her jeans to the floor. "How about a back rub?"
"Yes, please!" She groaned, kicking off her socks. "And then I'll give you one."
"Mmm, how about if I take a rain check. Maybe you can give me something else tonight." He paused. "No, bad plan."
"I liked it. You always comfort me." Buffy ran her hands up his alabaster arms, finding the pale blue veins that lay still under the skin. "You have veins."
"Mmhmm." He didn't care about the veins on his shoulders, it was his main vein down below that was suddenly surging. He kissed her slowly down from forehead to cleavage, along one arm. "Let's lay you down."
"You have a heart." Buffy tapped his cool chest.
"That I do, Luv, an' you own it." He ran a hand lightly over her belly. "You an' him. Bit as well." He grabbed a bottle of massage oil from their bedside drawers. "Can't find the vanilla, Pet, will mint do?"
"Mint's fine. The vanilla probably hasn't been unpacked."
"I unpacked everything, maybe we're out."
"We wouldn't be out of it if you didn't keep using it for more than just massages." Buffy giggled archly.
"Hush now. Not wise to tempt me when your adorable little bum is sitting in my hands. And other pieces of me are pointin' straight at it..."
Buffy and Spike murmured and kissed lovingly, ending up massaging each other, slipping and sliding together, eventually ending up face to face. He knelt over her, straddling her, his hands sliding up and down her torso. She pressed a minty finger in his mouth and drew it out, wet from his affectionate sucking. "You have saliva. And blood. And- other fluids." She tasted his dripping pre-cum off her fingertip.
"Yes, yes, and most definitely yes, Luv. Any reason you're just noticing it?"
"The baby. He's going to be fine. Really. Even if- even if he somehow was- wasn't human. As long as he's like you. And he has a soul. He'll be okay."
"You tellin' me, or you remindin' yourself?" Spike pressed into her stomach with a bit more pressure, as if he could touch the child within and prove that it was whole and healthy.
"Both." Her hands joined his. "I saw him, Spike, I did. He called me mummy. He was looking for me. He wanted me to find him. He wanted me to have him, and when he saw me- he knew he was safe. His smile..." She looked up at him desperately. "We have to keep him safe."
"We will. You an' me together." He tapped his fingers against her skin. "What we callin' this little fella?"
"William." She said unhesitatingly. He looked gratified, but slowly shook his head.
"No. Not after me. Never did much good with that name. I was thinking Jim, or James if we're bein' formal. You know, namesake for my other half. ."
"But I don't love him, I love you."
"Jim is the better version of me. Better father. Better man all around." Spike argued.
"Jim might be the 'better' man, but you're the best one." Spike began to protest and she kicked his upper thigh softly with her heel as he sat between her parted legs. "I like James, and I liked him, but I love you. William James. Take it or leave it."
"Stubborn bint." He laughed softly, bending to kiss her. "Alright." He put his head against her stomach, speaking to the silent occupant inside. "Alright. William James."
"OWW!" The beautiful moment was broken by two simultaneous cries. Buffy's torso jerked upright as Spike rolled off to the side, hand clutched to his cheek.
"Oh, man." Buffy panted and rubbed her abdomen.
"Well, he's got the super strength." Spike sat up slowly. Buffy beamed, silently rejoicing that the baby was able to move, obviously able to move very well, in fact.
"Or he really, really hates the name William James."
"Hm. You know, Pet, we might want to consider a different name. No, for a completely unrelated reason, don't glare at me. Can you imagine how confusing it'll be around here come the spring? 'Where's Will? Is Will with you?' 'Which one, the infant or the redhead?'." Spike grinned.
"Ooh, wait until they hear the good news! Everyone was so sad tonight."
"For all the times I said I hated your lot, they're not bad." Spike smiled, curling himself around her, waiting for her to shift, relax again, open herself up again.
"Told ya." Buffy smirked, wrapping her calves around his, and drawing him inside.
"We have something to tell you." Xander began the early dinner at Giles' house with this ominous statement.
"We have something to tell you, too." Buffy beamed.
"You go first." Willow urged, putting off the moment when she and Xander would say they had decided to get married. She didn't dream her family would object. She didn't think they would judge, or criticize, not even question. She didn't need them to. She was doing all that to herself and more.
"William kicked. He's fine." Buffy patted her stomach proudly. "More than fine actually. He's a super baby. Kicks like a - a really kicky thing."
"Mule?" Willow suggested helpfully.
"He takes after Spike then." Giles sipped his wine.
"Shut up, granddad." Spike returned with a good natured snarl.
"What was your news?" Dawn, eating dinner with her family before returning to the dorms, turned to Xander.
"Nothing near as important as that." Willow laughed nervously. "No, we, we just had this little, tiny thing we wanted you to come to. Next Friday night. If you can."
"If it's the Pine Ridge Wiccan Arts League's potluck dinner, I refuse." Spike said decisively. "I swear one of the older gals mixed up the tapioca and the eye of newt in the pudding I got last year."
"It's not that." Xander relaxed and put his arm around Will. "We wanted you to come stand up with us at the courthouse."
"Protests?" Dawn said eagerly. "What are we fighting against?"
"No, Dawnie." Willow relaxed a bit more. "Just a simple legal ceremony."
Three forks clattered to their plates, and Giles coughed a mouthful of wine back into his glass with a spluttering splash. "What?" Spike and Giles asked as one.
"Like, bride and groom ceremony?" Dawn squealed, rising from her chair.
"No! Just getting married. No bride, no groom. No big official titles. I'm not even changing my name." Willow protested hastily.
"Who cares what you call it or how you do it?" Buffy pushed back from the table and met her two best, longest standing friends in a tight three way hug. "Of course we'll be there! We'd love to! This is the bestest best news! This is ice cream worthy news!"
"Would you be my attendants?" Willow asked. "You and Dawn? Not in matching dresses or anything, just, you know, stand up with me? Make sure I don't spaz out."
"You want me to return the favor, One Eye?" Spike smiled. He and Xander had never told anyone that Spike had actually asked Xander to be his best man, Xander had just made it sound like he stepped into the breach. Less embarrassing that way. And now he was returning the favor, in more ways than one.
"If you're not busy." Xander shrugged.
"I'll be there." Spike nodded.
Willow turned to Giles. "I don't want to involve our families, our biological ones, until the wedding's over. Or until the baby's born for that matter. Maybe not until it's finished grad school. The point is- I spent more time with you in my life, real quality time, than I ever did with my dad. Not that I'm a bride, but- but I do kind of like the idea of being entrusted to someone. And there is no one I'd rather have give me away."
"Of course, Dear." Giles hugged her hard, then harrumphed, polishing his glasses with a manly sniff. "This coming Friday?"
"Next." She hugged her surrogate father once more before pulling back, wiping at her own eyes.
"And then, Bacchus." Xander raised a fist in the air.
"Excuse me, what?" Buffy looked at her two friends as if they'd lost their minds completely.
"Bacchus. It's a nice place- well the price is nice, and cheese fries are good. Plus-" Willow blushed. "It has special significance for us, as well as being low key."
"Whatever the couple wants." Spike said firmly, cutting off his beloved's protest. "Now, you three girls have dress shopping to do. Xander, do the old man and I need to suit up for this?"
Eventually, the sexes split up, men to patrol, women to the mall, with many threats made about the males even thinking this was the collapse of female equality.
"Wouldn't dream of it." Giles murmured.
"What, and get hexed?" Xander held up his hands placatingly.
"I refuse to wear anything but jeans, so none of those nancy boy trousers, clear?" Spike kissed his wife goodbye. "Take care of yourself. Yourselves."
In the backseat of the car, Dawn leaned over to Buffy. "They can play this down all they like, but they're getting a cake. And a private room at Bacchus. And we're wearing matching dresses. So there!" Willow got in the driver's seat and Dawn fell silent. Buffy turned quickly back to face the front, but not before she winked.
"Did you get everything? You ordered the cake-?"
Spike zipped up Buffy's dress with a sigh and a reassurance. "Cake, ordered. Rings, in my pocket. Bacchus, private room in the back reserved. Employees of Bacchus, threatened with death by pregnant pissed off bridesmaid if room was not spotless. Aaand-" He pulled out a pamphlet from his pocket, "weekend getaway, paid for."
Buffy gasped and turned, flaring her peach dress as it sat snug across her middle and flowed to just under her knees. "You bought them a honeymoon? I love you! That's so sweet!"
"Well, Xander said they weren't gonna bother, but, I dunno. Couldn't think of anything else to get 'em." Spike tugged on his white shirt and undid the top button. "You look amazin', Luv. My pretty little peach."
"Don't start snacking now, Fangs." Xander pushed open the half-closed bedroom door. "Can't be late for my own appointment." He, and anyone connected to the ceremony, studiously avoided calling it a wedding, lest it trigger bad memories and complete breakdowns.
"I'll call Dawn."
"Oh, please, Pet, call Giles. Dawn and Willow are probably still preening."
"Can't you suck it in?" Dawn was attempting to finish zipping Willow's soft heather dress up, the key word being attempting.
"No! You can't 'suck in' a baby!" Willow gaped at her bulging stomach. "It wasn't supposed to have a growth spurt this week. This week of all weeks. It's a spaz. A spaz with bad timing." The reluctant bride sighed, "Oh well, at least I know it's ours."
"Hang on. Let me try something..." Dawn rummaged in the bookshelf by Willow and Xander's bed. "I know there was a spell-"
"You are not doing a spell to shrink the baby!"
"No, I was gonna stretch the dress!" Dawn, in her own peach gown, heaved a calming breath in and out. "Right. You're the wicca. You make the dress like one inch bigger, and you're perfect. You're not even showing, not really. You just look-"
"Fat?" Willow sighed and muttered an incantation. "Buffy's getting off real light in this pregnancy department. No barfing, no constant peeing, she's not even showing, not even 'fat' showing."
"I don't know about that, Will. These dresses don't have a heck of a lot of give."
"Well, this one does now." Willow motioned impatiently to her attendant to zip her up. "Giles!"
"Yes?" Giles shouted from downstairs.
"Are we ready? Do you have the flowers?"
"On the porch. Listen, girls, it's nearly dusk, and Buffy just rang. They're ready when we are."
"Am I ready? Oh, God, Dawnie, am I ready?" Willow clutched the wrists of the girl she regarded as a little sister.
"Yes, yes of course you are." Dawn hugged her. "This is the right thing."
"This isn't right. None of it was right, this was supposed to be Anya's day-" Willow threatened to cry.
"And it's the right thing to do, Willow. You love him in a way she can't right now. Please don't let one more thing pass you by. You've lost so much already."
Willow took a deep shuddering breath and nodded. "It's only a piece of paper right? The 'married' part? The real thing, loving him, being with him until the last breath- that would happen anyway."
"That's right. That's right." Dawn eased the reluctant bride down the stairs and into the polished Jag, picking up the small bouquets of coral roses as they exited the house.
"I can do this. I can do this." Xander sat in the backseat of the De Soto, head back, eye closed.
"You're the little engine that could, yes sir." Buffy commented sarcastically, squeezing his hand.
"Thanks, Buff. Thanks, Spike." Xander sat up. "Spike?"
"In the front pocket." Spike tossed his duster into the back seat. Xander hastily found the flask and took a hearty swig. "Have a smoke, too, if it'll help. Only not in the car, baby on board, mate."
"I'm not that desperate. I want to do this. I want to be with her. I just wish-" He looked desperately past them, seeing so many wishes never granted.
"We know." Buffy comforted him.
The judge knew the wedding party would be small, but he was unprepared for the unusual gravity, the quiet dignity of the party. The groom and best man, a striking contrast in dark and blonde, didn't speak, but exchanged brave and encouraging smiles as they waited.
There was no music at this ceremony. The girls who walked in the doors of the justice's office were grinning from ear to ear, but tears trembled on their lashes, and they too gave comforting smiles, unspeaking as they came to stand opposite the groom and best man.
The father of the bride, the bride herself, were a stately pair, walking unhurriedly, but without any defined gait, to the groom's side. The first entirely silent wedding he had ever known. His voice echoed strangely as he asked, "Who presents this woman to be joined in matrimony?"
"I, Rupert Giles, on behalf of her family and friends, present this woman." The gray haired Englishman kissed her flushing cheek and placed her hand in Xander's.
"This marriage is conducted in the state of New York and will be witnessed by..." The judge began his legal spiel and Buffy felt her husband's thoughts practically shout into her head.
'This wedding is deader than ours, an' you married a vamp.'
'Shh! This is a big deal for them.'
'Then why are they both such misery guts then? First choice or not, they're still endin' up with the love of their life. This life, anyway.'
'You're gonna do something stupid, aren't you?'
"No! Something dead smart.' Spike waited for a pause and then coughed softly. He waited for all eyes to swivel to him. "Cheer the bloody hell up! This is about bein' with the one you love! Who you'd die for, you'd live for. An' you both know it! Smile, or so help me, I'm takin' everyone out to Bacchus an' leavin' you two behind."
Willow's shocked expression was the first to crack, as she caught sight of Xander's equally stunned expression and Buffy's livid one, Dawn's muffled giggles, and Giles' frantically polishing his glasses. "Okay, Spike." She chuckled. "Can we skip to the vows, Your Honor?"
"Certainly, Ms. Rosenberg."
Xander smiled. "You wanna go first, Will?"
"Okay." She leaned in closer and caressed one of his smooth cheeks." Um. We wrote our own. So- um. I had a paper-" Willow patted down her heather colored sheath dress. "I forgot it."
"Just wing it, Baby." Xander let his own hand find her cheek.
"I, Willow Rosenberg, love this guy, Xander Harris. And I want to spend the rest of this lifetime with him. I want to be his best friend. I want to be there for him. I want to be his wife. Be his comfort, no matter what happens. As long as it keeps being us."
Buffy and Dawn sniffled loudly, and Buffy's sniffles became gasping snuffles as she shed happy, hormonal tears. Giles stopped dabbing his own eyes and passed her his handkerchief.
"Are you done? Xander hissed, and Willow nodded, a short laugh bubbling out of her. Xander swiped the back of his hand across his eye. "I, Xander Harris, want to marry this beautiful girl. She loves me. I love her. I don't know how she puts up with me, and frankly, I don't care anymore. I just know that having her with me makes anything bearable. That she's my best friend. She's my partner. She's my second chance. And I'm taking it."
"That was beautiful." Willow gasped out, hugging him hard. "Xander! That was beautiful! When did you think that up?"
"This morning watching a re-run of the Avengers." He confessed. "See? There's that whole 'putting up with me thing'. Still in on this?"
"Let's do it." Willow boldly stuck out her hand. Xander shook it.
"It's a deal."
"Rings, you daft pillock." Spike groaned, closing his eyes. He passed the two simple gold bands to his enemy turned best mate. Willow and Xander slid the rings onto each other's hands quickly and confidently, and then he put his arm over her shoulders and stood expectantly facing the judge.
"Can I kiss her?"
"This ceremony just sort of ran itself, folks. But sure, you've got the important parts covered. By the power vested in me by Hudson Valley County and the state of New York, I officially declare you legally married, you may kiss the-" Willow's warning glare froze him. "You may kiss the party of the second part."
"Amen!" Spike crowed as the couple kissed, and the rest of the small family joined in with cheers and applause.
"Right! We did it. Who wants a beer?" Xander smiled, relaxed, hand clasped through Willow's.
"Beer bad." Buffy pouted. "But cheese fries?"
"Cheese fries for all." Giles beamed. "And the father of the- female participant in the ceremony pays."
"Double amen!" Spike kissed Willow on the cheek and thumped Xander on the back. "C'mon you lot, the night is young, and so are we. Well, some of us." He gave a nasty smirk to Giles who sneered at him.
"What do you get a man for his 200th, Spike?" He muttered in an overtone, slipping his arm firmly over the vampire's shoulders.
"Boys. Celebration?" Dawn put her hands on her hips, tossing back her sleek brown hair.
"Coming!" The Brits called, and the family left the courthouse.
Spike felt it coming before it happened. The nausea that he didn't get. Couldn't get, because he hadn't thrown up in years, his food smoothly absorbed into energy, not running through his digestive system. His eyes flew open and he rolled, sliding the waste basket from the bedside under Buffy's doubling figure. "You all right, Luv?" Spike came fully awake as remains of cheese fries and two milk shakes left her stomach.
"No." She moaned, and pushed herself off the bed, heading weakly to the master bathroom.
"Thought this part of the pregnancy bypassed you, Pet?"
"Yeah, well, so did I." Buffy whimpered and lost more of last night's celebratory dinner. "Call Willow. Ask her how she stands it."
"Think you'll have to manage by yourself, Luv. Red's probably otherwise engaged just now."
Buffy gave him a slightly green smile. "Oh yeah. Honeymoon goodness."
"We never went to a hotel together before. You know, for naughty purposes." Willow blushed. The drive to New York City had been delayed for a power nap and to pack some clothes. The couple hadn't planned on going anywhere but home, and even to that end, they hadn't planned a special 'wedding night'.
"I used to think about it, though." Xander admitted, setting the bag down.
"During our whole forbidden crushy love in high school period? I used to have a little fantasy involving you, me, and the Sunnydale Holiday Inn. After school I would pull up in a really cool car, a convertible, or sometimes a motorcycle, and whisk you away, and charm you wiz my language of loove." Xander ended in a bad French accent. Willow giggled madly and sank onto the ornate king size bed. "But I gotta say- this place makes the Sunny D hotels look like garbage."
"The Ritz is so not us." She stared around the luxurious room.
"I know. But it was a nice thought, huh? A lot more expensive than what I got him for his wedding."
"What'd you give him?" Willow tried to recall. "I know we bought them a set of coffee mugs..."
" A gift certificate good for one free not being killed by me." Xander smiled with a harsh glint in his eye.
"He turned out okay. Really okay." Willow smiled up as her husband (whoa, weird wiggy thought) leaned over her. "We can rest more. We've been up for a long time."
"I know. Do you need to? Is the baby making you tired?" Xander deftly caressed the crowning bulge under the smooth fabric of her dress.
"No. She's just chilling. Rocking in mommy central."
"You said 'she' again." Xander teased.
"I'll find out next week." She reminded him. "If it's a girl, what do I win?"
"Make it ten and bag of Oreos."
"Someone feels lucky." Xander shifted to rise above her, lips finding the curve of her earlobe and letting his mouth slowly circle it, moving longingly along her jaw, and down into the white swell of her creamy cleavage.
"I am lucky." She slowly pulled off his patch and undid the buttons of his shirt. "Lucky to have you. Lucky you love me."
"Lucky you love me. I'm nothing compared to what you could have, Will."
"You're all I want right now." She whispered fervently. "Turn out the lights?"
"I'm getting stretch marks."
"I don't care. You look like an angel to me." He kissed her eyelids then her mouth, letting her roll with him, kissing, tangling, heartbeats merging in time with one another. "My Wills."
"My- husband." She breathed it hesitantly.
She felt something cool slip between her fingers, pulling her hands to his back. His wedding band, against her skin. "My wife."