Rating: PG13
Season III- just after Buffy has made Angel bite her to save him from the poison in his system.
Disclaimer: All Joss, all the time. I'm just playing with his toys.
A gazillion thank yous to Always_jbj for both the beta and the time spent getting rid of random lines that appeared and wouldn't go away.

A Mother's Plea

The souled vampire came back to himself suddenly, the poison having been eliminated from his system by the incredible elixir he'd just ingested. He looked down at the crumpled form of the love of his life and gave an anguished howl as he saw what he'd done. Vampire hearing allowed him to pick up the faintest trace of a heartbeat and he quickly pressed the cloth they'd been using on his feverish head against the bloody wound in her neck before picking up her limp body and racing towards the nearest hospital.

He strode into the emergency room to find her Watcher, her mother and, somewhat inexplicably, his grandchilde, all standing by themselves in an empty intake area.

Joyce gave a muffled cry and ran to his side, her stomach clenching when she recognized his burden.

"What happened? We know Faith was stabbed – she's here, was Buffy stabbed too?

"No," Giles said in a low, dangerous voice that was new to her. He glared at the completely recovered vampire. "She wasn't stabbed, was she, Angel?"

Angel shook his head mutely, already hearing the heartbeat slowing even more.

"I'm sorry, Joyce," he whispered, depositing Buffy's body on the nearest bed and leaving the room with his head bowed.

Joyce looked around frantically for help, but all the emergency room personnel were at the other end of the large triage area dealing with a sudden influx of casualties. The mayor's gang of vampires, knowing the Slayer was distracted by Angel's condition, had been terrorizing the town since sundown and in addition to the usual random victims, a bus that had been hijacked by the vamps was providing a rush of injured and dying patients, all needing blood immediately.

"What happened?" Joyce looked frantically from Giles to the vampire who'd shown up at her door unexpectedly just as she was leaving for the hospital. He hadn't appeared to be drunk this time, so Joyce gratefully accepted his offer to drive her and hadn't even thought about his being a vampire until she saw the expression on Giles' face when she walked in followed by William the Bloody.

She'd explained to Spike on the way over about Angel's being shot with the poisoned arrow and Buffy's attempt to bring Faith in to cure him. Buffy hadn't shared with her mother that it was Faith's blood Angel needed to live, so Joyce made no connection between the obviously recovered vampire's health and her daughter's own dire condition.

When Giles didn't answer immediately, but ran to get someone to give Buffy a transfusion, Spike answered for him, "The bloody wanker almost killed her. That's what happened."

He stepped closer to the bed, hearing Buffy's heart rate slowing even more as they looked at her. Under the blonde hair, her face was ashen, her lips blue and she appeared to be dead. A moan from the woman beside him brought his attention back to the Slayer's mother. He felt an unaccustomed pang of sympathy for the woman who welcomed him into her home whenever he needed a shoulder to cry on.

"She… she looks dead…." Joyce's voice choked on a sob as she pushed some hair off Buffy's face.

"She almost is, luv," Spike said, gently putting an arm around her quaking shoulders. "I don't think they're going to be able to get enough blood into her quickly enough. I'm sorry, Joyce. Truly I am."

He surprised himself by the truth of his words. Not only was he sorry for the obvious grief Buffy's mother was about to suffer, but he was sorry to see the Slayer meet such a sad end.

Drained by her git of a boyfriend to save his own worthless unlife. She deserved better, my beautiful, brave Slayer.

"Can't you do something?" Joyce's frantic plea brought his attention back to the dying girl on the table and he shook his head sadly.

"Believe me, Joyce, if there was anything I could do, I would do it. I don't want to see her gone either."

He was shocked to find that the words he had thrown out so easily in an effort to make Buffy's mother feel better, were actually a true reflection of his feelings.

"You could if you wanted to." The desperation in Joyce's voice cut him, even as he shook his head again. Refusing to give up, she faced him angrily. "You were dead once – and now you're not!"

He stared at her in astonishment for a full second before stuttering, "You can't be asking me… I am dead, Joyce. It's a demon that keeps this body going. You don't want that for the—for Buffy. She wouldn't want that."

"I don't care what she wants," Joyce insisted stubbornly. "You could do it, couldn't you?"

He tried to look away from her challenging stare, shaking his head back and forth.

"She's a slayer, Joyce. She wouldn't want to become one of the creatures she hunts. If I turn her, the first thing she'll do when she wakes up is stake me. Right before she walks out into the sun, probably."

"Why would she do that?" Joyce's voice was shrill as she tried futilely to pull him closer to Buffy's lifeless body.

"Because," he tried to explain quickly, "turned Slayers keep their souls. They don't want to be vamps, they won't feed, and they still want to slay. She'll be furious that I've made her a vamp. She'll kill me and she'll be brassed off at you for asking me to do it. She'll hate it, Joyce. I'm sure of it."

"So, you won't do it because you're afraid of her. Is that it?" Joyce said dully, releasing his arm. She sat down beside her inert child and rested her head on the bed in a resigned fashion. "I'm going to lose my only child because you're afraid she'll stake you."

"Oh, bloody hell!" Spike indulged a few seconds of creative swearing, before shoving Joyce roughly out of his way and bending over the dying slayer.

"Alright, luv. Doin' this for your mum, so don't be taking it out on me when you wake up. You hear me, Slayer?" he whispered as he removed the bloody rag from her neck. He cringed at the gaping wound his grandsire had made in the girl's neck. "Bloody animal," he muttered as he ran his tongue over the wound, licking up what little blood was left to ooze out and closing the edges of it at the same time. When he'd done what he could to make the bite less likely to leave a bad scar, and had swallowed as much of her blood as he could without actually trying to pull more from her body, he looked at her mother once again and asked quietly, "Are you sure?"

She nodded, her mouth set in a straight line and her hands clasped together so hard her knuckles were white. She met Spike's gaze firmly until he sighed and turned back to the girl on the bed. He leaned across her body to place his lips on the other side of her neck, sliding his fangs in easily and taking one long pull of her blood before opening his mouth and licking the tiny wounds closed. The long draught of blood he'd taken had been the last straw for her heart and he could feel it stopping.

Quickly, he bit into his own wrist and held it to Buffy's mouth, whispering into her ear as though her mother wasn't sitting there listening to every word.

"Come on, pet. Show us what you've got. Bite me back, luv. Come on, Slayer, take it." His voice trembled as he worried that he'd waited too long and the Slayer was too far gone to do what needed to be done. He pressed his bleeding wrist to her lips, forcing the blood into her mouth and waiting for her to swallow. He gave a sigh of relief when, from some hidden reserve of Slayer strength, she summoned the will to swallow the coppery tasting liquid flowing into her mouth.

"That's my good girl. Drink it down, pet. Take as much as you want. I can get more. You take whatever you need from me, Slayer. Make yourself strong."

Joyce watched – torn between horror at what she was witnessing, and hope that it was going to save her daughter's life. When Buffy stopped swallowing and her head fell back against the pillow, Joyce jumped and asked, "What's wrong? What happened?"

"She died, Joyce," Spike said gently, licking his own wound closed before putting his arms around Buffy's mother. When she flinched away from him, crying, "You were supposed to save her!" he sighed and dropped them to his sides.

"She has to die before she can rise again, Joyce. Try not to let them take her anywhere tonight. If they put her in the morgue, I can probably break in and get her later. I'll bring her home and she can wake up in her own bed instead of clawing her way out of a grave. And don't tell the Watcher," he warned with a low growl. "He'll want to stake her."

When Joyce didn't reply, but just kept staring at Buffy's lifeless body in horror, he whispered, "It worked. I promise you," before he disappeared out the door into the darkened parking lot.

When Giles came back a few seconds later, dragging an over-worked doctor behind him, he found Joyce sobbing quietly as she held her daughter's lifeless hand. With a moan of distress, he fell to his knees beside the bed, adding his own quiet sobs to Joyce's.

The doctor quickly verified that they were mourning a dead girl; he was sympathetic, but all business. Drained, bloodless bodies were an every night occurrence at Sunnydale Memorial Hospital and he was just anxious to clear out the small room for the next victim. He nodded when Joyce asked in a trembling voice if she could let them know in the morning about funeral home arrangements and he readily agreed to keep Buffy's body in the morgue overnight.

Giles's sorrow was so obvious and so genuine, that Joyce had to fight the urge to tell him what she'd done, but she remembered what Spike had said about his staking Buffy if he thought she was turned and bit her lip instead. She couldn't contain her own tears, even with Spike's promise of success, the fact that her daughter was, for all intents and purposes, dead was too overwhelming and she did not have to fake her own grief.

Giles took her home, fixed them both stiff drinks, and eventually, when she assured him she would be fine, he left to go back to his apartment and drown his own grief in cheap scotch. Before leaving Joyce to her empty house, he promised her that he would tell Willow and Xander. By the time Joyce heard the quiet knock on the kitchen door, she was well on her way to being very drunk and she stumbled slightly as she made her way to the kitchen to let Spike and his precious burden in the door.

Buffy's body was wrapped in a sheet and appeared very small in the vampire's arms. He stepped into the kitchen and gave Joyce a reassuring nod as he walked towards the hallway and the stairs.

"You'll have to tell me where to go, Joyce. I've never been upstairs."

Shaking herself out of her stupor, she hastened to get in front of him, pointing at the stairs and saying, "This way. Her room is up here."

He followed the nervous woman into a small, girlish bedroom – the décor showing the tastes of a girl on the verge of womanhood. Posters of boy bands coexisted with copies of Cosmo magazine; pajamas with fish all over them side by side with lacy underwear littered the floor.

He gently deposited his burden on the bed, holding her up until Joyce had turned down the covers and then allowing Buffy to sink onto her own sheets and pillows. He pulled the sheet that had been covering her face off to expose the white, still features of the Slayer. Joyce gave a little gasp; then regained control asked in a trembling voice, "How… how long?"

"Probably tomorrow night," he answered, stepping away from the bed. "I'll try to be back before sundown in case she rises early."

"What if you're not here? What do I do? Will she know me?"
Second thoughts were clearly visible on Joyce's face and Spike's eyes flashed amber for a second.

"If you're going to change your mind on me, say so now," he growled. "If you don't want her here, tell me and I'll take her somewhere safe."

Now that he'd done what Buffy's mother had asked, he realized that he had done something he'd sworn never to do – he'd created a childe. He hadn't actually been the one to take Buffy's life, but he'd given her as much of his own blood as he could get her to take and he now felt more than responsible for the soon-to-be-fledgling vampire lying in front of them.

He actually had no idea what Buffy was going to be like when she rose. Even with her soul, he had to assume that the blood lust would be overwhelming and he vowed silently to be there in plenty of time to protect Joyce from her daughter just in case.

"No, no," Joyce hastened to assure him. "I haven't changed my mind. I'm just not sure what to expect, that's all."

"Neither am I, to tell you the truth," he admitted sheepishly. "It's very rare that a slayer gets turned and I've never been around one that was. I just hope she doesn't hate us both."

"Doesn't she already hate you?" Joyce asked innocently.

With a rueful laugh, he agreed. "That she does. 'S going to make her even more brassed off when she finds out who did it. I'm planning to point at you and run, soon's I see she's alright."

"William the bloody coward," Joyce muttered, but she gave him a small smile.

"Your daughter's a right scary bint under the best of circumstances." He smiled back at her. "It's not cowardice, it's self-preservation."

Unconsciously smoothing Buffy's hair off her face, he stared at her for a minute before straightening up and walking towards the door.

"I'll be back sometime tomorrow afternoon, Joyce. Leave the back door unlocked, will you? I 'spect I'll be in a bit of a hurry to get indoors at that time of day."

She agreed absently, still staring at her daughter's dead body and praying that she'd done the right thing.

Chapter Two

True to his word, Spike was back by three the following afternoon, bursting through the kitchen door with a smoking blanket over his head. He dropped the blanket on the floor and quickly stamped out the small sparks covering it.

Joyce, of course, as befitted someone whose child had died, had not gone into her gallery that day; telling her employees only that something very bad had happened to Buffy and she needed to stay home with her. She felt that covered her either way the evening went. If Buffy rose and was herself, she would explain that she'd been very sick; if she didn't, remaining dead, as Joyce feared would happen, then she would tell them that Buffy had died in an accident.

"How is she?" The first words out of his mouth were for his new childe, and Joyce smiled at the concern she could read on his face.

"The same," she answered with a whisper. "I… I've been afraid to touch her. She's so cold and still…."

Spike held out his hand and waited until Joyce took it with a puzzled frown.

"That's what she's going to feel like from now on, Joyce. Room temperature. She'll be a bit warmer after a—" He stopped himself, suddenly remembering that he was talking about a souled Slayer who was unlikely to be getting her meals from warm, living victims. Trying to recover, he said quickly, "A warm mug of blood – which I should have thought to bring with me."

"I… I went to the butcher and got some earlier today," Joyce admitted sheepishly. "I thought you might be hungry and…."

Spike felt a sudden attack of an emotion he finally recognized as guilt when he thought about the two men he'd eaten last night. Giving himself a mental shake at his weakness, he growled, "That's very thoughtful of you, but I'm fine. Slayer will need it though – soon as she wakes up and—"

He looked hard at the woman in front of him and saw that she was barely holding herself together, in spite of the appearance she gave of being in control and comfortable with what she'd asked him to do.

"I think," he said gently, "that I'd better be the only one she sees when she rises. I'll need to let her drink from me again to calm the blood lust before she sees you. I don't think you'd want to see that, and I doubt she would want you to."

"But—" Joyce stopped herself in mid-argument as she understood what he was saying. With a shudder, she agreed quickly, promising to stay downstairs until he called her.

After telling her he would let her know when to come up, and reminding her to bring a warm mug of blood with her when she did, he gave her a reassuring smile and went up the stairs and into the room holding the girl who had been the bane of his existence the entire previous year. Staring down at her seemingly dead body, he wondered how he'd gotten himself into this. Instead of killing what was meant to be his third Slayer, he'd let this one take his blood as a way to keep her in the world where, he was sure, she would continue to make his life miserable – if she allowed him to live.

He shrugged out of his duster and stretched out on the bed beside her, waiting for a sign that she was awakening. While he waited, he studied her face, wondering what it was about this little girl that made her so much more than just another slayer. He caught himself running his fingers through her still silky hair and snatched his hand back with a growl.

Bloody hell, letting her drink from me must have affected my brain! Got to admit, she is a pretty bint, though….

He caught sight of the corner of the sheet she'd been wrapped in and realized that Joyce hadn't touched Buffy since they had put her in her bed. He sat up suddenly, wondering if she was still as naked as when he'd snatched her from her slab in the morgue. Moving carefully, he lifted the edge of the blanket and saw that she was still trussed up in the hospital sheet. Knowing that waking up was going to be traumatic enough, even without a grave to dig out of, he tried to pull the tight sheet out from under her body.

Once he realized that wasn't going to work, he reached over her, lifting her body up until he could unwind the sheet and toss it on the floor. That left him with an armful of naked, dead Slayer. A naked, dead Slayer whose eyes were now open and fixed on him with bewildered rage.

"Spike? What the hell are you doing? And why am I naked?" Buffy's voice went up an octave when she looked down at herself and saw that not only was she being held by the vampire she hated most, she was stark naked and said vampire was staring at her breasts.

"Stop ogling me!"

She shocked them both when her shout turned into a snarl and she went into vamp face. Forgetting about the vampire still holding her loosely, she raised a shaking hand to her face, feeling her wrinkled forehead and running a cautious finger along one sharp fang. As though the transformation had thrown a switch, her eyes focused on his neck and her tongue came out to lick her lips. She threw a questioning look at the equally surprised vampire and, at his silent nod of permission, leaned forward and sank her new fangs into his jugular.

Spike gave an involuntary groan as, with a hungry whimper, she began to take long, deep pulls of his blood. Pulls that he felt all the way down to his rapidly hardening cock. Buffy surged forward, pressing her body into his and growling softly as she swallowed the borrowed blood that he'd had the foresight to stock up on the night before.

Spike let her drink until he felt himself begin to weaken, then he tried to push her away, only to be met with a furious growl and a tightening of the arms around his body. As wonderful as it felt to have an armful of naked Slayer – he refused to admit to himself exactly how good that felt – he knew he had to make her stop before she left him too weak to hunt.

Using a sire's voice he hadn't even known he owned, he snarled back at her, "Leave off, childe!"

Buffy immediately let go, sinking back on her haunches and poking out her lower lip in a pout. As her face smoothed back out into its normal human guise, the blood lust faded and she realized what she'd been doing. Her face crumpled and she moaned, putting one hand over her mouth, tears starting from the eyes that met his in horror.

"Spike… what did you… how could you… what happened to me?"

Without thinking, he pulled her into his chest, relieved when she didn't push him away and reach for a stake. He held her while she sobbed, murmuring into her ear that it would be alright, that he would explain, that she shouldn't be upset. He ran his hands over the smooth skin on her back, rubbing small soothing circles as he tried to calm her. Her sobs finally tapered off and they were suddenly both very conscious of her nudity. Refusing to meet his eyes, she sniffled as she pulled away and tried to cover herself.

Moving quickly, Spike jumped off the bed and yanked the blankets to where she could reach them and pull them up to her neck. She stared around the room, seeing nothing to indicate it wasn't really her own bedroom, then glared back at his anxious face. Gradually, the frightened fledgling was replaced with an angry Slayer and she said firmly, "Tell me what happened to me. Now."

Spike sighed and sat on the little stool in front of her dressing table, his hands dangled between his knees as he leaned forward and asked, "What's the last thing you remember, luv?"

Buffy's face crinkled in thought as she tried to remember what she'd been doing the last time she was conscious. He could see the instant her memory caught up with the events of the previous evening and her eyes filled again as she gasped, "Angel? Angel did this to me?"

Spike shook his head, looking around quickly to see if there were any stakes within easy reach of the stricken Slayer.

"No, pet. All that bloody wanker did was rip your throat out and drain you. Dumped you at the ER in front of your mum and your watcher and told them 'sorry' before walking out for a round of brooding."

"So, then, why am I not dead… er, deader?"

"Your mum, she was so… and I said 'no', but she… and then I said you'd hate us both… and she…." He saw the gradually dawning of realization on her face and said simply, "I'm sorry, pet. I just couldn't tell her 'no'."

"It's a small word, Spike! NO! N.O. You hate me that much?" Her voice had trailed off to a painful whisper.

Forgetting his fear for a second, he slid off the stool on to his knees in front of her.

"No, pet. No. It wasn't like that. I would have let you go. Would have let you have that reward you've got coming. I would have, I swear. Mind you, I'm not saying I wouldn't have missed you. Fighting against you – hell, fighting with you – it's one of my favorite things. But I… I wouldn't have done that to you. You've got to believe me, Slayer."

His eyes pleaded with her, and as she looked down to see him kneeling in front of her, the truth of what he was saying was plain to see. Her expression softened just enough for him to draw a deep breath and continue, "But your mum… she was destroyed. And she asked me… and I… I just couldn't tell her 'no', Buffy. She's always been so good to me. Always fixes me hot chocolate… tells me I'm too good for Drusilla… treats me like a man, your mum does. I just… I wanted to make her happy, luv. I'm sorry."

He dropped his head, ready to bolt or fight if necessary, but heartened by the lack of lethal response on her part. He waited quietly until she reached a shaking hand toward his face; then he looked back up into her searching gaze.

"What—what now?" she asked in a trembling voice. "I'm a vampire, Spike. What's going to stop me from killing my own mother? Who's going to protect my friends from me?"

"You are, Buffy," he answered with more certainty than he actually felt. "You still have your soul, pet. It's why nobody in his right mind turns a slayer. The first thing she does, usually, is dust her sire."

"First thing, huh?" She looked at him with the faintest trace of her normal humor. "So, is that like a tradition or something?"

"Not one you need to feel obligated to continue," he answered, peering at her from under his long eyelashes.

"So, I'm not going to want to kill everybody I know? Present company excepted, of course. No offense."

"None taken, Slayer," he responded with a genuine grin. "I don't think so. Your mum's waiting downstairs with some nice warm pigs' blood – although I think I need it more than you do right now. You almost drained me."

"Uh, sorry?" She smiled sheepishly, clutching the covers to her breasts.

"'S alright, pet. It'll make you strong – that much sire's blood. I'll just go tell your mum that you're awake and you can get dressed and come down when you're ready, yeah?"

"Okay," she responded slowly, already dropping the blankets and standing up. She heard Spike catch his breath with a gasp, and glanced at him briefly before walking to her closet. "I guess you've already seen it, so there's no sense being modest in front of you is there?"

"Oh, yeah there is, there most definitely is."

His strangled voice brought her attention back to him and the look on his face froze her. The expression on Spike's face as he visibly struggled to control himself, brought her modesty back in a hurry. She felt her face heat up and wondered briefly if it was possible for a vampire to blush. A quick glance at her empty mirror was a painful reminder that she would only know the answer to that question if someone told her about it.

She tried to cover herself with her hands; then spotted his duster where he'd dropped it earlier. Grabbing the coat, she wrapped herself in the soft leather saying, "Why don't you go downstairs and get some blood for yourself. I'll be down as soon as I get some clothes on."

"I'm gonna be needing m' coat, luv," he said mildly.

"Don't be silly, Spike. You don't get cold and you're inside, anyway. I'll bring it down in a minute. You don't need it."

"I do need it." he said firmly. "Not going down to your mum like this."

"Like what?" She scanned his face, then ran her eyes down his body trying to see what made him think he needed his coat right that minute. Her gaze slid down his chest, the muscles clearly visible beneath the tight tee shirt he was wearing and past his belt buckle and lower abdomen to his strong thighs. Before her eyes could travel any further down his legs, she gasped and her eyes shot back up to the large bulge in his tight jeans. Once again she felt her face trying to flush.

"Oh," she squeaked. "Okay, just a sec…"

She quickly ducked behind her closet door, holding his coat out at the end of one slender arm and shaking it lightly.

"Here you go. Take it. My mom definitely does not need to see that coming out of my bedroom!"

Spike bit his tongue to keep from pointing out that her mother would probably much rather see him coming out of her room with a hard-on than entering it like that. Fear that she was still contemplating staking him kept his mouth uncharacteristically shut, but the smirk gave him away. A pair of furious green eyes peered around the corner of the closet door at him.

"And stop thinking what you're thinking!" she growled. "Go away. I'll be down in a couple of minutes."

Wrapping himself in his coat, he smirked again, then left the room, meeting her anxious mother at the bottom of the stairs and taking her arm to steer her towards the kitchen.

"She'll be down in a few minutes, Joyce. Let's go to the kitchen. I'm a mite peckish after all."

"Is she…?"

"She's awake, she's fed," he pointed at the ragged bite on his neck, gratified when Joyce went immediately to get the first aid kit, "and she's getting dressed."

"Is she angry at us… me?"

"She was a bit upset at first, but I think she'll be alright. I 'spect it's going to take her a good while to get used to it, and she'll probably cuss us every time something reminds her, but I'm not dust yet, so that's a good sign."

Chapter Three

While Joyce took some blood from the fridge and poured it into a mug, Spike used the first aid kit to clean the edges of the wound Buffy had given him. He knew it would heal soon, no matter what he did, but he didn't want to ooze blood all over the Summers' kitchen. Buffy, dressed in sweat pants and a tee shirt, walked in just as he was trying to tie a bandage around his neck.

"What are you doing?" she asked, avoiding the anxious eyes her mother had turned on her as soon as she heard her daughter's voice.

"Don't want to bleed all over your mum's kitchen, pet. Just trying to stop it."

"Oh – I did that, didn't I? I'm sorry, Spike. Here, let me fix it."

She reached for the bandage, still not looking at her mother's rapidly crumpling face. Spike put his hand over hers and whispered too low for anyone without vampire hearing, "You could fix it much quicker just by running your tongue over it; but right now I think you need to talk to your mum."

"My tongue? You mean – lick you? Ewwww!"

"You just bit me and took enough blood to choke a horse! Now you're going to be prissy about closing the wound? Anyway, you're just doing this to avoid talking to your mother. I know it and you know it, so quit pretending you're concerned about me and do what you know you need to do."

"Don't tell me what I need to do!"

Joyce watched in bewilderment as her daughter and Spike clearly carried on an argument is hisses too low for her to catch a word of it. When Buffy continued to glare stubbornly at the equally angry vampire, she finally couldn't stand it anymore and she gave a small whimpered, "Buffy?"

Buffy went rigid, then pulled her hand out of Spike's and turned slowly to face her mother. She could hear Joyce's rapid heartbeat, sense the hot blood rushing through her veins, but relaxed a little when there was no immediate urge to attack or kill.

"Mom," she said quietly, not moving towards the older woman, but stepping away from Spike.

He watched closely for any sign that his childe was going to be unable to control her blood lust, but Buffy seemed to be completely in control of herself. When she moved towards her mother, he stood up, ready to intervene if necessary. The two women stared at each other momentarily, then Joyce gave into her fear that she'd alienated her only child and collapsed in tears.

"I'm sorry, Buffy. I'm so sorry. I just couldn't watch you die… It wasn't Spike's fault. He tried to talk me out of it, but I made him do it."

"Nobody makes Spike do anything," Buffy growled with a sideways glare at the vampire who had sired her.

When Joyce continued to sob, Buffy's resolve crumbled and she sank down beside her, wrapping her arms around the crying woman and hugging her tightly.

"It's all right, Mom. I know you did it because you love me. I know you didn't mean to hurt me. It's all right."

The reversal of their normal roles was not lost on either of them as the adult woman cried and her teen-aged daughter comforted her. Spike maintained an alert posture, but from a respectful distance. Without the blood Buffy had pulled from him when she rose, he wasn't sure that he would be able to stop her if she actually decided to attack her mother, but knew she'd never forgive him if he allowed her to hurt the woman.

Buffy looked up at the edgy vampire and met his eyes briefly while maintaining her comforting murmurs to her mother. The understanding dawning in her expressive eyes told him he could relax. The Slayer's soul was in complete possession of her body and both her mother and he were safe from her anger.

With a nod, he sank back onto the stool and waited for them to finish their tearful reunion. When it lasted longer than he expected, he stood up and took the mug of blood Joyce had poured for Buffy and put it in the microwave. By the time it dinged, the women were back on their feet and smiling happily at each other and he was fighting a peculiar prickling in his own eyes.

Grumbling about "women and their tears", the embarrassed vampire took out his blood and returned to the stool, studiously avoiding looking at either one of them. It did him no good to pretend they weren't there, as Joyce came up beside him and kissed him softly on the cheek saying with heartfelt gratitude, "Thank you, William, for saving my daughter."

With his body as depleted as it was, he had to struggle not to slip into his vampire face when the warm, blood-filled body got so close to him. He quickly drank his blood, trying not to offend Joyce by pulling away, but worried about his own self-control. To his surprise, Buffy seemed to read the situation intuitively, and she took her mother's arm and pulled her away saying, "Come help me fix some blood for myself, Mom, and let Spike drink his in peace."

He gave Buffy a surprised and grateful look, quickly draining his mug and silently holding it out for more. She removed the new mug from the microwave and handed it to him before refilling the first one and popping it in to warm up.

Another quick guzzle and he was enough in control to sit back and enjoy his third mug of blood while Buffy sipped on her first one. He laughed softly when she wrinkled her nose and made a face at her first taste of pigs' blood.

"Problem, pet?" he asked with a smirk.

"It tasted better from you," she mumbled, embarrassed by her admission, but unable to take it back quickly enough to prevent the smirk from growing into a grin.

Spike enjoyed her embarrassment for a minute before taking pity on her and agreeing, "That was sire's blood, pet. It will always taste better than anything else. And be better for you. Will help you heal if you're hurt and feel better when you're… well, not that you'll be sad about anything… but if you were…."

"So you're what? My own annoying and fashion-challenged medicine cabinet?" Buffy's smile took the sting out of her words and he smiled back before continuing.

"Something like that, Slayer. It's really not in your best interest to dust me. In fact, if I were you, I'd be following me around making sure nothing bad was going to happen to me…."

"Don't push it, Spike," she warned, laughing in spite of herself.

They drank in companionable silence for several minutes while Joyce bustled back and forth from one to the other fussing over them like a mother hen until Buffy finally exploded, "Mom! I'm dead – not sick! Relax, will you? We're fine. Both of us. Instead of worrying about us, you need to think about how you're going to explain to Giles that I'm not dead. Or, not as dead as he thinks I am, anyway."

"I… um… I thought perhaps you would do that, dear. I mean, he is your Watcher, and..."

"Oh no. This was your idea. You tell him. And you need to do it before he finds out some other way and tries to stake us."

"Oh. Oh dear. I hadn't thought about that. That I would have to explain it to him. And school. What are we going to do about school? It's in the daytime and you won't be…. Oh dear, oh dear."

Joyce sat down with a stunned look on her face, the full ramifications of what she'd done beginning to sink in. She looked at Buffy with new realization about the way she'd changed her daughter's life and whispered softly, "I'm sorry. I never thought past my own happiness. I never thought about how it was going to change your life."

Buffy jumped up and ran to her mother, hugging her again and reassuring her that all things considered, "… being undead is probably better than being dead dead. Look, I'll still be the Slayer – just harder to kill. And I'll heal even faster. I might even be stronger than before—" She stopped to giggle at the frightened look on Spike's face, before going on. "I just have some learning to do – and you'll have to help me with some stuff – like I won't be able to see to put on make-up or fix my hair, or tell if a dress makes me look fat—"

A laugh from the vampire that he tried to cover with a cough interrupted her long enough for her to glare at him.

"And Spike's going to have to teach me all about being a vampire…well, maybe not. I guess Angel knows more about being a vampire with a soul—"

A guttural snarl from her vamped out sire cut her off and both women turned to stare at him in dismay. With an effort, he conquered his demon's urge to discipline his childe for even mentioning the other vampire and he fought to keep his voice even as he said, "Angel drained you and left you to die. He didn't even have the balls to hang around long enough to watch you take your last breath."

"But… but he's still my…." a quick glance at her mother and she switched the intended "lover" to "boyfriend", a hesitation that was not lost on either of the other people in the room.

"Buffy," Joyce said firmly, "You know I've never liked Angel anyway, but now… there is no way I will ever be able to look at him and not see your dying, bleeding body. He is not welcome in this house. Ever."

"But, Mooom." Suddenly the newly risen vampire sounded just like a teen-aged girl. "I love him! I mean… I know we can't be together… but we're still friends."

She shot Spike a look, daring him to repeat his "you'll never be friends" speech in front of her mother, but to her surprise he was looking at her with a mixture of pain and anger. He stood up, putting his empty mug in the sink and turning towards the door.

"I'll just be going then," he said coldly. "You won't be needing me anymore if you've got the big poof to show you the ropes. See you around the graveyard, Slayer."

Without a backward glance, he went out the door, resisting the urge to slam it shut behind him. He was almost to the sidewalk, keys in hand when he saw Giles drive up to the house, a hollow-eyed Xander and Willow in the car. Fear for his childe's safety being stronger than his anger and hurt feelings, he shrank back into the shadows as the three walked up and knocked on the door. While Joyce slowly opened the front door, Spike ran back around to the kitchen and entered quietly, moving to where he could see and hear what was going on without being seen.

Willow had thrown herself into Joyce's arms, sobbing her sympathy and grief, while Xander stood by with tears filling his own eyes. Joyce allowed Willow to cry for a minute, then gently extricated herself and gestured to the couch.

"I think you all need to sit down. I have something I need to tell you."

"We know," Xander choked out. "Giles already told us. Angel killed Buffy. We always knew he would someday."

Joyce just pointed to the couch again and said with some asperity, "That is not what I need to tell you. Please, sit down and let me explain."

When they were seated and looking at her expectantly, she began with some trepidation.

"Angel did… kill… Buffy. But before she died, I asked a friend to help me save her."

She saw the Watcher's eyes darken with horror as he began to fear what she was going to say next. He surreptitiously slipped a stake from his pocket and held it loosely in his hand, causing Spike to give a muffled growl as he saw the movement from his vantage point in the hallway.

He heard a whisper of sound behind him and saw Buffy coming slowly down the stairs. She entered the living room and gave a little wave saying, her voice a little shaky, "Hi, guys."

Chapter Four

Willow and Xander looked at Giles for an explanation; wondering why the man had told them Buffy was dead when she was clearly right there in front of them. Joyce met his angry glare defiantly, nodding briefly when he asked through clenched teeth, "Spike? Spike did this?"

As Willow ran to embrace her friend, babbling about how glad she was to know Giles had been wrong about her death, the Watcher grabbed her arm and threw her back onto the couch shouting, "Stay away from her! Can't you see she's a vampire?"

Buffy's face crumpled and she held out a hand pleading with her Watcher, "I'm still me, Giles. I have my soul and every thin—" The man moved with a speed no one could have predicted, his stake on a direct line with Buffy's heart.

Joyce's cry went unheard, and her ordinary human reactions were too slow to halt the attack on her unprepared daughter. Buffy was so heartbroken at the sudden attack that her normal Slayer reflexes deserted her as she waited in shock for the man she loved like a father to kill her. Spike, however, having anticipated the strike, was already moving and he knocked the stake away from Buffy's chest, carrying Giles to the floor as he did so. He quickly flipped the man over, pinning his arms behind his back and snarling at him.

"You stupid git. Give the girl a chance to explain."

"I don't need an explanation. It's plain to see. You turned her. I cannot believe even you could have been so evil."

Spike yanked the man up to a sitting position, keeping his arms pinned behind his back and snarled into his ear, "Shut up and listen, you bloody fool."

The vampire nodded to Joyce who, though visibly shaken, continued as though the interruption had not occurred. She kept one arm around her still shaking daughter as she went on.

"This was not Spike's idea. I begged him. I blackmailed him. I used every trick I could think of to get him to agree to do it. He did it for me, knowing that Buffy's first act as a vampire might very well be to stake him. He didn't do it because he is evil; he did it because he is a compassionate man."

Ignoring the Watcher's audible scoff, she looked at Buffy's two friends instead.

"Turned Slayers keep their souls. Buffy is no more dangerous to us now than she ever was. She is drinking pigs' blood and has no interest in killing humans."

Only Spike noticed the guilty flinch at Joyce's words and he knew that soul or no soul, Buffy would be fighting the desire for human blood her entire unlife.

"We will all have a lot of adjusting to do, obviously." She spared a glare for the now-quiet man Spike was still holding. "But I'm sure we can work with this. I don't know what we'll do about school, but I still have my daughter and she is still able to fulfill her duties as a slayer, so I fail to see why this is not the best possible outcome of a horrible situation."

Joyce finished her speech with her chin up and a final challenging look around the room. Spike maintained his grip on Giles, even though the man had stopped struggling and was just sitting quietly watching the interaction between Buffy and her friends. The newly vamped slayer gave them a tentative smile, but waited for them to approach her before relaxing and falling into a group hug.

Joyce beamed proudly as the three friends appeared to fall right back into their normal behaviors, jostling each other for space on the couch and arguing over whether or not to watch a movie or go to the Bronze to celebrate. When she turned her gaze onto the watcher, her eyes narrowed and she knelt down to his level.

"I have to know you are all right with this, Rupert. I can't be worrying that my daughter's own Watcher is going to stake her."

"I believe," the man said grimly, "that it is too early for me to make that decision. I have seen that she appears to be harmless around you and her friends, but that doesn't mean strangers would be safe in her company. Particularly bleeding strangers."

"We're not animals, Watcher," Spike growled in his ear. "Contrary to what your Council of Wankers may have told you, most vamps have complete control of themselves unless they're starving. The Slayer having her soul means she's just that much more in control."

"I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt for the time being," the man answered stiffly, "but I will not forget that you were the one to turn my Slayer into something she hates."

"And I won't be forgetting that you tried to stake my childe," Spike responded, his mild tone belied by the amber glint of his eyes as he let go of Giles's arms and stood up.

"Thank you, Spike," Joyce said sincerely.

"No problem," he mumbled, wondering how he could gracefully leave the house without completely negating his earlier dramatic exit. He was saved from worrying about it when Buffy left her friends and came to stand beside him to add her own mumbled thanks to her mother's.

While Joyce pulled Giles into the kitchen for some tea and a serious conversation about Buffy's new status, the Slayer and her sire stood uncomfortably, neither one wanting to apologize for their earlier behavior and yet knowing that they should. With a final, exasperated sigh, Spike growled, "I shouldn't have gone off in a huff like that. Almost got you killed. Not much of a sire, am I?" he added, looking down at his boots.

Recognizing the apology for what it was, Buffy softened her own stance and said, "You're doing fine. I'm sure 'how to sire a slayer' isn't in the vampire handbook. It's probably going to take us awhile to work this out."

"We've got time," he said with a small grin. "You're immortal like me, now." A look of mock horror crossed his face. "Bloody hell! I made the bane of my existence immortal. What was I thinkin'?"

Buffy gave him a half-serious glare before she said, "And I have to look forward to being annoyed by you for the rest of my life? What were you thinking?"

"Guess we're gonna have to learn to like each other a little bit, pet," he said with a smirk.

"Well, we'll at least have to learn to get along. We can't be fighting all the time—"

"If it's all the same to you, Slayer, I'd rather like you and fight you than get along. 's more fun."

She tossed her hair and turned around to go back to her friends, throwing over her shoulder, "Yeah, beating you up has always been one of my favorite things to do."

He gave a half-hearted growl, smiling to see her laughing and seemingly carefree. In spite of his assurances to Joyce that she would have her soul and be fine, he'd really had no idea how Buffy was going to react to being a vampire and he breathed a mental sigh of relief that she seemed to be handling it so well.

The relief lasted until they left the house so that Buffy could practice with her new vampire enhancements and do a short patrol. Once away from her mother and friends, she slid into a morose silence, only speaking when she needed to ask a question.

The Slayer had been forced to admit that having enhanced hearing and night vision was definitely a plus in her line of work. However, her ability to fool vamps into thinking she was an easy dinner was now gone as it took them no time at all to pick up on her lack of heartbeat and lose interest.

The only time all night that she seemed happy was when they encountered a group of the mayor's minions and between the two of them managed to dust all but one. The one that got away made it only a few hundred yards before running into the stake Angel was holding. Spike felt his grandsire at the same time that Buffy was jumping to the top of a mausoleum to test her newly enhanced physical abilities. He quickly leapt up beside her and grabbed her arm to hold her still.

She had been spinning around, practicing her kicks when he landed beside her and she spun right into him, slamming hard into his chest. He held her by the arms until she caught her balance, not sure if he was willing to let her go. Buffy didn't pull away, but remained still in his arms, her face tilted towards his, head cocked slightly in curiosity.

"What?" she breathed softly, wondering how much of what she was beginning to feel towards Spike was sire/childe bond and how much was something she'd rather not put a name to. Remembering the expression on his face when she had walked naked across her room, she swallowed hard. With her newly acute vision, she could see that he was wearing a similar look as his face came closer to hers.

A renewed sense of Angel's presence reminded him of his original intention and he shook himself slightly before whispering, "Let out your senses, luv. Can you feel that?"

"I feel… it's like when I used to be able to feel vamps, except that… it's Angel!"

She stared around quickly, moving away from him without even thinking about it and thereby missing the look of disappointment on his face. As she gave in to her new senses, she realized there was something more to this than just her former ability to sense Angel's signature. Something both familiar and foreign at the same time.

"It… it feels like you. Only not." She fumbled for words to express the sensation tickling the back of her neck.

"It's family, luv. What you're feeling is family. You'll always know when one of us is around – Dru too. And as soon as the ponce gets close enough, he's going to know it."

"He's going to wig," Buffy said with a certainly that he couldn't deny.

"Most likely," he agreed. He prepared himself for the fight of his life, fully expecting his grandsire to try to stake both of them. Beside him, Buffy fell into a fighting stance, unconsciously imitating her sire's prediction of danger.

To the surprise of both, the older member of the Aurelian family stopped below the crypt and looked up at them calmly.

"Come down," he said quietly. "I'm not going to stake you."

"Know you're not going to," Spike grumbled, gesturing for Buffy to let him go first. "The question is are you going to try?"

Buffy landed lightly beside her sire, and Angel watched while they jostled each other for position, each trying to protect the other from the possible danger presented by the souled vampire. He soon tired of watching the girl he thought he'd lost forever and the grandchilde he wished he could lose forever trying to protect each other from him.

"Stop all that jumping around," he growled. "I'm not going to stake either one of you."

"Why not?" Spike inquired suspiciously.

Angel gave a heavy sigh and rolled his eyes. "Because I've spoken to Giles and to Joyce and given them my word I would leave you two alone unless—until," he said more forcefully with a glare at Spike, "you give me a reason not to."

"I have my soul, Angel," Buffy said plaintively. "Why would you want to stake me?"

"I was actually thinking more about staking him." He gestured at Spike. "I would think you'd want to thank me for getting rid of the vamp that turned you."

"As opposed to the one who just killed me and left me to die in front of my mother?" she replied with an edge in her voice.

Angel gave her his best hurt expression. "I can't tell you how sorry I am about that, Buffy. I tried to tell you not to offer me your neck. You know what demons are like – I couldn't control it."

Spike's muffled, "Bollocks!" was unnecessary as Buffy was already scoffing at Angel's excuse for draining her.

"I've only been a vampire for a few hours and I already know better than that." Her face fell and she added sadly, "I trusted you, Angel. I trusted you to only take what you needed."

"Buffy, I was sick. I was dying. Angelus…."

She held up her hand for him to stop. "Please don't give me that Angel/Angelus crap again. Spike doesn't have a soul to keep his demon down and I would trust him with the lives of my mother and my friends no matter what the circumstances. Just… just stay away from me for a while, okay?"

With a parting glare at his smirking grandchilde, Angel nodded and turned away, too lost in his own misery to notice that Buffy had turned around and punched Spike in the face.

"Ow! What the hell was that for?" He vamped out and snarled at her.

"That was for making fun of Angel behind my back!" she snapped back at him, her own eyes glowing amber. "Do you think I'm stupid?"

His automatic retort was short circuited by the tears he saw her trying to blink away and he dropped his hands to his sides. One look at the stubborn tilt to her chin and he knew she did not want him to know she was crying, so he busied himself pulling out a cigarette and lighting it while she struggled for control. As soon as she had taken a deep, unnecessary breath and begun walking home he fell into step beside her, smoking quietly.

They walked in silence until they reached her house, stopping on the front porch and sitting in unison on the top step.

Buffy waved her hand at the smoke drifting towards her, growling when Spike just took another drag and blew a smoke ring at her face.

"'S not like you're going to get lung cancer, Slayer," he said mildly.

"That is sooo not the point," she grumbled, unconsciously moving closer to him until she was leaning into his shoulder. When she realized what she'd done, she sat up quickly, sending a sideways look at him to see what kind of reaction her unexpected behavior had evoked.

"I… I don't know why I did that," she stammered.

"Wasn't complainin', luv," he answered quietly.

"Why not?" Her curiosity was sincere. "We still hate each other, don't we?"

He cut his eyes at her and threw the cigarette out into the yard, waiting until it had sputtered out to answer her.

"Can't speak for you, Slayer, but I don't think I gave you unlife just so I could go on hating you a little longer."

"I thought you did it for my mother."

"Did. Just turns out it might have made my life a bit more interesting too."

It was as close as he was going to come to admitting to himself or to her how glad he was that she was still in the world.

Instead of responding, she rested her head back on his shoulder and the Slayer of Slayers and his newly risen childe sat together quietly enjoying what was left of the night, leaving until later the tedious business of sorting out their new relationship.

The End

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To sequel – Born to Be My Baby