Disclaimer: I don't own or profit from BtVS

Dawn of a New Age

Second Trimester

Chapter Fifteen

Chantilly damned the fact her rain slicker was bright, fire-engine red and tugged it tighter around her slender body. The violent wind yanked the hem aside, and soaked her jean-clad thighs with icy rain that pelted her to the bone. Her umbrella had long since been torn out of her hands, and her pale hair was plastered to her skull in long, scraggly skeins.

The winter storm was wild. Lightning and thunder crashed all around her, shorting out power lines and toppling aged oak trees. The wind howled fiercely, and the rain sliced sidewise through the empty streets, small bullets seeking targets to shred. Chantilly never dared to go streetside, even in weather guaranteed to keep everyone inside, but her youngest was ill and needed goat's milk. Barwin, the butcher, promised to keep his store open for the next hour, but the sewer access was flooded by the storm, leaving her no choice but to scamper along the sidewalks of Sunnydale.

Thunder clashed and a bright shock of lightning blinded her. Dark-clad men came out of the darkness like the storm had a tongue, slithering their way around her, until she had nowhere to run. Her scream ricocheted off the brick walls in the alley, dying a nasty death beneath a crash of thunder. She tried to keep her human guise in place, but her terror was too great, and her demon flickered to the forefront. She frantically fought off the men, but her arm- and spine-barbs were mostly decorative, and the delicate spurs of bone snapped under their rough handling.

"Use a tranq. A taser will electrocute us all in this damn rain," a rough voice ordered. Something sharp jabbed her thigh. She kicked out, her foot connecting with a meaty thunk. The man grunted, but didn't go down. She wasn't surprised. She might have been a demon, but her kind had roughly the strength of humans. She was no match for these men.

Her vision blurred and her knees felt weak. She slumped against the man holding her. Her last thoughts were of her broodlings she left with a neighbor. Mrs. Coush would undoubtedly call Ryana when she didn't return. She would tell the Boss, and her broodlings would get looked after. She just hoped someone would know to get goat's milk for Kanshe before his fever grew worse.

Chantilly awoke to find herself being hauled between two men, her toes dragging on slick, tiled floor. She drowsily lifted her head, but couldn't see much beyond the fall of her thick hair. The light was blinding, the walls glaringly white. She jerked in sudden panic.

"No, please. Let me go. I haven't done anything wrong. I'm peaceable. I don't hurt anyone. Please, stop. Don't hurt me," she begged in an endless torrent of terror.

She tried to dig her heels in, but they dragged her along mercilessly. "Please, I have to get back-." She was jerked upright to stare into the face of a sneering man.

"Get back to what? Your nest? Don't worry about it, Sweetcakes. We'll have it cleaned out in no time." She choked in terror. They couldn't possibly know where she lived, could they? There was no way they could track her back to her apartment. Her entire building was inhabited by family-friendly demons. The only way the humans could know about them was if someone informed on them. There wasn't anyone who would dare do something so…demonic. She swallowed back her tears. What if there was a human sympathizer in the building? Someone who struck a deal to keep their family safe by trading in others?

The man gripped her arm hard, pinching her skin. She blinked back her tears, watching with sick dread as he swept the length of her body, noting how her clothes clung to her wet, lithe frame. "For a demon you aren't half bad. If it wasn't for your coloring, and the demonic energy you put out, I'd think you were human."

"Please…" she pleaded from between bloodless lips. She didn't like how he was looking at her one bit.

"Knock it off, Forrest. No fraternizing with the HSTs." The man gripping her other arm was harsh and unrelenting. When he looked at her he didn't see a feeling creature. He saw an animal.

"Who said anything about fraternizing, Finn? What I was thinking wouldn't be considered friendly." He fingered the torn sleeve of her blouse. His teeth were very white against his dark skin.

Another man moved around in front of them to key open the door to a prison cell. His face was impassive, but his blue eyes swept over Forrest with an air of distanced disgust.

Finn's fingers tightened on her arm, and she whimpered. He pivoted on his heel so he could look over her head to his partner. "I know exactly what you're thinking. It's perverse."

"Nah, c'mon. It's not like they feel anything." His thumb smoothed over the bare skin on her arm. The door to the cage opened, and Finn yanked her inside.

"They're animals, not inanimate objects. It'd be like fucking sheep. You a sheep fucker, Forrest?"

The black man's face twisted into carefully controlled rage as he faced his superior officer. "No, sir."

Chantilly could see the sickness of anger and jealousy churning inside the man's soul. His aura was dark with it. He resented having to answer to the one called Finn, and he hated her and her people with a madness that was palpable. She slunk away from the door as they marched off without a second glance her way.

The third man turned to leave, but was distracted by something stuck to his heel. As he pulled it off to glance at it, Chantilly knew immediately what it was. She whimpered low in her throat, and his piercing blue eyes swung towards her. She covered her mouth with her hands, afraid her sobs would draw the wrong kind of attention from him.

He stepped closer to the door and a spasm of terror shuddered through her frame. He placed the item in the food slot and pushed the drawer open to her. Hesitantly, she reached inside the drawer and pulled out the photograph of her and her broodlings she always kept inside her blouse. It was something to remind her of why she worked so hard, doing a job she hated.

"You should hide that," he told her softly.

She swallowed hard and nodded. His fingers danced over a panel and the door to her cell became opaque.

Graham watched through the one-way glass as the demoness clutched her photograph between her clasped hands and knelt beside the bed. Forrest hadn't been wrong. She really was beautiful, with skin the color of thick cream and light pink hair. Her eyes were an iridescent blue that glowed like gas lamps in the dark. Down her arms and spine in a single, subtle line were tiny scales the color of dusky roses that hid hollow bone spurs that were as delicate as a bird's.

She wasn't made for fighting, but for something else entirely. Even her human guise was beautiful. Summer wheat hair and satiny skin, a pink mouth he imagined looked sweet as honey when she smiled. She wasn't doing any of that now. Her tears left faint traces of cloudy blue on her apple cheeks.

Her voice was husky, but he thought that might be from the screaming. Her screams sounded like a human woman's. High, sharp, and terrified. She was terrified – of them, of this place, of what they were going to do to her. What they would do to her children if they found them.

Graham hadn't known about demons or vampires or anything else that went bump in the night before being assigned to the Initiative. There wasn't a lot of nightlife in the small town of Addison, Texas, which is why he joined the Army in the first place. Now he wished he hadn't. Demons were one thing; women and children were another. He never went to the level beneath them where they housed the children. He couldn't stomach it, no matter what Walsh said about them being nothing more than animals. Graham grew up on a fully functioning cattle ranch. He knew about animals. How to feed them, how care for them, and how to slaughter them. He never once opened them to rearrange their innards, whipping up something brand new.

The demoness was praying. He didn't know if it was to his God or not. For all he knew it could be to some Hell deity, but her words sure sounded human enough. She prayed for her children's safety, using her own life as a bargaining chip. He wondered how many women, human and demon, the world over, prayed for their babies to make it through the tragedy of war.

Is this what this is? War?

There was no enemy beating at their doors. There were no drawn battle lines. The only time there was a conflict was when they went out and hunted their quarry. There were no enemy soldiers. There was no identifiable leadership. So if they weren't engaged in war, then what exactly were they doing?

Frowning, he turned on his heel and strode away. There wasn't a bottle, Bible, or battle that could distract his mind from the atrocities he'd seen since coming here.

888888

"If that woman pressed the wand any harder into my belly, I swear I woulda peed all over the bench."

Spike smiled down at Buffy as she spoke animatedly. He pulled her closer to his chest as they walked. His arm was over her shoulders, while hers was around his waist, her dainty hand tucked into his back pocket. It had been two months since their confrontation at his club, and since then their relationship had flourished. Spike knew Buffy wasn't one hundred percent committed, but she wasn't fighting them either. He could tell she was in a holding pattern. Subconsciously, she was waiting for him to betray her.

For his part he did his best to be supportive, caring, and downright worshipful. He was still on his metaphoric knees for her, and he was happy enough to stay there. As long as he was in her orbit and near their Li'l Bit he was as happy as he could be. Even if he did feel unfulfilled. Even if he did long to be loved by her.

Of course, he wasn't completely under her thrall. If he was, he wouldn't have contacted a neurosurgeon in Los Angeles and made an appointment to get the chip out next week. He knew it was a mistake getting the chip out, but it had to be done. More demons were snatched off the streets every day and it was only a matter of time before someone came for Buffy and the baby. Who could pass up the chance to possess the Chosen One and her miraculous demon spawn? He closed his eyes against the shiver of dread that vibrated through his body at the thought.

"You okay, honey?" He opened his eyes and stared down into her clear green ones. She was so beautiful, and he was going to lose her. He had no idea how long he would be able to keep the secret of his chip removal from her – maybe years, if he was lucky. Precious stolen moments, before she would undoubtedly find out. Such was his luck.

"Just a spot of sympathy for you, luv. I know they needed your bladder full to get good photos, but it must have hurt holding it so long. You piss every five minutes it seems."

"Gee, thanks," she said drily, nudging him in the shoulder. They wobbled a few steps, but they soon straightened out with a chuckle. She pulled out a length of sonogram photos to study them.

When she found out, he would lose this: her trust, her laughter, her presence in his life. Maybe he would even lose the Niblet. But he couldn't take the chance with their safety. Being removed from their lives would be traumatically painful to him, but worth it if he could keep them safe, even if it was at a distance.

Her smile dimmed as she rubbed her thumb over one of the pictures.

"Worried about the amniocentesis?" he asked perceptively.

She shrugged, stubbornly silent.

"I'm sure it's nothing. Just standard procedure," he tried to reassure her. She pulled away, and coldness spread along his ribs where she had been.

"No. It's not. Only if you are over thirty-five or they think there might be genetic problems." Her empty hand fisted along her thigh as she stared intensely at the photos of their baby. She looked like she was trying to see fangs. All he saw was perfection.

"We heard her heartbeat," he reminded. "She healthy and strong. She's….human."

Buffy stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, still staring at the photos. Spike watched her with trepidation. Non-pregnant Buffy wasn't the poster child for stability; pregnant hormone Buffy was a ticking time bomb.

"We got some great pictures though. I can't wait to show them to Mom and the girls."

Spike's heart clenched. She was avoiding. She wasn't convinced their child was normal. He wondered what that would mean for them further down the line; if it would affect Buffy's relationship with their daughter, with him. They started walking again, and he was relieved when she let him tuck her back under his arm.

Joyce was enthusiastic about the baby, but Spike was surprised by how supportive Willow and her new bird Tara were being. Even Demon Girl was in on the fun. There was something about babies that brought women together. Xander had been conspicuously absent the last few months. He knew Buffy was deeply hurt by his defection, more so by her watcher's aloof acceptance. Spike shook his head. It seemed the men in her life were destined to disappoint her.

"I'm so glad we confirmed we're having a girl," Buffy continued while fingering their baby's profile. The pictures were surprisingly crisp. They could see her little nose and mouth, her fingers and toes. In one picture she was sucking her thumb. Even he thought it was damned adorable, and he didn't go in for all that baby rot.

"We already knew that." He smiled at her, and his heart warmed when she returned it.

"I know. But it's nice to have it confirmed. Mystical knowledge notwithstanding, it's good to have science back it up."

"Yeah," he agreed, thinking about her reliance on his chip to keep him in line.

She fidgeted, making a show of putting the photos carefully in her purse. He cast her a sideways glance. He knew all her quirks now. His Slayer had something on her mind.

"Hot cocoa?" She pointed at the Espresso Pump, and he nodded. Hmm, a distraction technique. She must be nervous about what she wanted to say. The line was minimal in the early evening and it only took them a few moments to get their order. They walked out with a cocoa for her and black coffee for him. Their path would take them to the outskirts of town where they would circle back to Revello Drive. Although she was five months along, looking like she was seven, she insisted on taking daily walks to keep healthy. The doctor also told her that it was a good way to prepare for the birth.

"Mom and I are going to the store."

"Mmmhmm." Where could this possibly be going?

"To, you know, buy stuff."

He quirked a brow. "That is typically what one does at a store."

She turned a pretty shade of pink all the way down the line of her neck. "To buy baby stuff."

"Oh." He didn't know what to say. Was she asking him for money? He was more than happy to buy all the 'stuff' she could possibly need. He'd be overjoyed to contribute in any way.

"Didja want to come?"

"Where?" he asked, bewildered.

"To the store, dummy," she nudged him with her elbow, gifting him with her thousand watt smile. He was unconvinced.

"The baby store?" he asked slowly, and she nodded. "Where there are….babies?" He wanted to help out, but this was a horribly bad idea. He could give her wads and wads of cash. Hell, if she gave him a day or two, he could get her a secured card in her name if she wanted, but a store…..with babies…

She laughed, then groaned, reaching beneath her belly when she shook her abused bladder too hard.

"There may be babies there. It's not like you have to touch them or anything. Besides, ours is going to be here soon. You should start to get used to them. Or, you know…be able to look at one without wigging."

He was embarrassed and uncertain. He wanted to shove his hands in his pockets, but she was still snuggled up under his arm and there was no way he was giving that up.

"Did you really want me to go, kitten?" he asked her softly.

She cuddled in closer to him, and when she nodded, he could feel her cheek rub across his chest. "Yeah. You can help pick out the crib and stuff."

He snorted. "Oh, I won't be havin' a say 'bout that. You and your mum will sort it out just so."

She giggled, but didn't contradict him.

"So, we should start thinking about names." She was fidgeting again. He couldn't imagine whatever was on her mind could be worse than dragging him along for baby shopping. She rubbed her extended belly. She looked like she'd swallowed a basketball. Her frame was so slight that her baby bump looked huge. Spike noticed her starting to soften in other places. Her thighs had thickened, and her delectable arse was rounder. He wasn't stupid enough to mention it to her, even though he privately thought it was sexy. He had no problem telling her what he thought about her lusciously enlarged tits. Especially when he was playing with them. She was sensitive and soft everywhere. Even her puss was enlarged and swollen. It was pure, bloody bliss as far as he was concerned.

"I was thinking this was going to be the only baby either of us will ever have," Buffy told him quietly. He looked down at her, but all he saw was the top of her bowed head. The idea of not having any more children didn't bother him. Hell, he never expected to have one. He was more than grateful for what he had. He wondered if Buffy wanted more. If before her calling she had dreamed of a houseful of rugrats in the suburbs and a man who worked a nine-to-five in the city. That didn't seem very Buffy-like, Slayer or not, but who was he to question a woman's dreams?

"Probably. Leastways for me."

She ducked under his arm, coming to an abrupt stop. "What does that mean?" she asked sharply.

His face was unreadable as he turned to face her. He wasn't sure what he said to brass her off, but her eyes where shooting green sparks of fire.

"Vampire." He motioned towards himself. "Highly doubtful I'll be a baby-daddy a second time." He smiled, but the thin line between her brows told him she didn't think he was cute.

"Meaning, I might."

"Become a baby-daddy?" he teased.

"Have another child," she said coldly.

He shoved his hands into the pockets of his leather duster and set his shoulders. "Well, it's inside the realm of possibility, innit? You being human and all."

"Let's put aside the fact that I'm not entirely human. Hello. Slayer. I have a soon-to-expire date on my ass-"

"No," he growled, cutting her off. She blinked as he invaded her space. He seemed to loom over her, though he was only a few inches taller. His face was a mask of merciless intent. "You're gonna live a nice long life as long as I'm around."

"My point, exactly!" She shoved his chest, dislodging him a few steps.

He kinked his head to the side. "What's this?"

One hand flew to her hip, her toe tapping on the sidewalk. "If I'm having other babies then you aren't around, are you?" she accused. Her lower lip wobbled, and he blinked in surprise. She was upset! Upset about him not being around. What a revelation!

He reached out, gripping her soft, rounded hip, and pulling her to him. He brushed his fingers along her cheek, before furrowing them into her hair to lever her face to his. He leaned forward until his lips were a bare, butterfly caress on hers. He could smell the chocolate on her breath.

"Always gonna be here, kitten, even when you don't want me anymore. Even," he emphasized harshly, "if you decide on someone better than me to have babies with."

She braced her hand on his chest when he pulled her close, and now it drifted downward to tangle her fingers in his belt loops.

"Who could be better than you?" she breathed in a rare moment of personal honesty. Those moments were becoming more frequent and although they warmed his unbeating heart, he knew better than to point them out - especially when he couldn't quite bring himself to believe them. Spike was under no illusion that Buffy wouldn't very well decide to kick him to the curb someday. Most likely right after he got his chip removed.

When that happened – and he had no doubt it would – he would still be faithful to her. He would stay as close to her as she would allow, watch her back in battle, and see her safely home each night. Even if that home was filled with brats and another man who loved her. It would kill him slowly and painfully, but he would never leave her. At least Buffy and his sprog would be safe.

"My point exactly," he said lightly and rubbed his lips across hers in a delicate kiss. She pulled him closer, but he bounced off her belly. He tried to keep his amusement to himself, but he couldn't stop his lips from smiling under hers. She pushed him back with a huff, and stalked off a few steps before stopping. She waited with aloof expectation, as he tucked her back under the shelf of his arm.

They walked a little ways, her nibbling her bottom lip before speaking again.

"Anyways, what I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted." He snorted, and she continued undaunted. "I thought her name should be something from both of us. Like both our mom's names together. You know, like a legacy or something."

She shot him a quick little glance from under her lashes. Something hollow knocked in his chest and he had to swallow a few times before he could answer.

"That would be lovely, pet," he breathed. For the first time in a long time he thought about his mother. How beautiful and kind she had been. How much they loved each other. How he had destroyed everything good and pure in her for his own selfishness. He nearly doubled over at the pain of it. Would he do the same to this family as well? Was he destined to ruin everything he touched?

She smiled shyly up at him, clearly relieved. He wondered what she thought happened to his human family. He could tell she was hesitant to bring it up. Liam had murdered his entire family and village. Had her precious Angelus ever shared that tidbit with her?

"What was your mother's name?"

"Anne."

"Oh." She frowned and looked away. He had mentioned he liked her middle name and now she knew why. It had been his mother's. "Anne's a family name. It's my mother's middle name as well."

"So shall it be our Niblet's middle name then?"

"Yeah, I think that would be great." She frowned in concentration. "We need a first name though. I was thinking Joy. You know, because she'll bring us joy."

"So she does. Joy Anne," he tried it out.

Buffy's brows snapped together. "That sounds like JoAnne. I definitely don't like that. I knew a little rat-faced brat in third grade named JoAnne."

Spike chuckled. "Not Joy then. Don't want you thinkin' our bundle of joy is rat-faced."

She wrinkled her nose at him. They walked arm in arm as he carefully steered her around the puddles left by the storm. They passed a crew working on the power station. The storm blew over an old tree and it crashed through the tall chain link fence and destroyed a transformer. Half of Sunnydale was without power at the moment. His PC had crashed during the storm. Chrysie, a sex-pot of a demon that worked for him, was an absolute genius with electronics and his unofficial tech nerd. She had reamed him a second arsehole for not having it set up on a surge protector. His entire hard drive was fried, and all his electronic business records were lost. It was a good thing he was an old-fashioned vamp and had most of them printed out in hard copies.

"So maybe just Anne?" She looked at him, and he nodded. "Summers?" she asked quietly, glancing down to pick at the clean curve of her nails. He didn't say anything and she went into overdrive. "I know that it's traditional that the baby's last name be the father's, but I just don't think it would be a good idea. And I rather-"

He brought them to a halt, placing a finger to her mouth. "Summers is fine. My human name is long gone. It doesn't matter to me anymore. I'm just thankful you're including me at all. I never thought I would get the chance….Me mum." Tears burned his eyes and he was incredulous. Unless he was rat-arsed, he rarely cried, especially not over something so sentimental. He realized now how much he missed his mother. How much he missed having a family.

She moved into his arms, and her rounded belly brushed his belt buckle. She laid her cheek on his chest as he embraced her. He had all he ever wanted right in his arms. Names didn't matter, not really. All that mattered was that they were happy and healthy, and that they were together.

"Did you want to sleep at my place tonight?"

She smiled at him. "Alright."

He held her tight as they continued to walk.