Unexpected Blessings
Pattyanne 's Fic
Kings of Mercia
LoobyLoos' Fic
Jen's Fic

Chapter 11:


Labor Pains? What Labor Pains?


"I think I'm in labor."

Buffy stood at the kitchen sink, one hand on her belly and an uncertain expression on her face.

Dawn and Willow turned and looked at her, then at each other, then back at her.

"What?" Buffy asked them.

"Uh...you don't really look like you're in labor," Willow explained tentatively.

"Yeah," Dawn agreed. "Aren't women in labor all sweaty and screamy and...stuff?"

"Not at the beginning," Buffy said, rolling her eyes.

Willow gave her a sympathetic smile. "Why do you think you're in labor?" she asked.

"Well..it's only two days till my due date, and I feel kind of...funny."

Now, Willow looked concerned, "Funny strange...or funny ha-ha?"

"I don't know," Buffy sighed.

Dawn spoke up. "Are you in pain? Labor means pain, right?"

Buffy sat down at the table and opened the cookie jar. "Not really pain," she said, grabbing a handful of Oreos and pulling them open to lick the cream out. "I mean...not serious pain, anyhow."

"Buffy" Willow said seriously. "Are you in ANY pain at all?"

The slayer shrugged. "Every now and then I get a little cramp. Kind of like I get near the end of my period."

"And that's all?"

"Pretty much, yeah."

"What should we do?" Dawn asked nervously. "Should we call the doctor?"

Willow thought for a moment. "Maybe we should," she finally said. "Buffy..you have a pretty high tolerance for pain. Maybe you're in serious labor and just not feeling it."

"Neat!" Buffy grinned, crumbling up chocolate cookie bits in a glass of milk. "Wow..if this is serious labor then childbirth will be a walk in the park. Not MY walks in parks," she amended, "because mine are scary and dangerous...but other people's walks in...in other people's parks."

"Okay...so what do we do first?" Dawn asked again, her voice high pitched.

Willow turned and looked right at her. "We don't panic!"

Buffy nodded. "Thash my moddo" she said, speaking through a mouthful of soggy cookies bits.

Spike walked into the kitchen, stopping short when three pairs of eyes fixed on him. "What did I do?"

"Hi, honey!" Buffy said brightly. "I'm in labor!"

He just stared at her for a moment as she sat there with milk clinging to her upper lip, then chuckled as though she had told him a mildly funny joke. "You are not," he said, shaking his head.

Buffy's eyebrows arched. "I reeeallly think I am" she sing-songed.

"No," he said firmly. "You're not."

Exasperated, Buffy glared at him. "How the hell do YOU know? Are YOU in here with me?"

"Buffy, you're not in...."

"You're pissing me off, Spike! I don't..." She struggled to stand up. "Get me out of this chair!"

He took her hands and pulled her up. When she was back on her feet, she placed her hands on her hips and confronted her husband. "I don't think you're the best judge of my condition!"

Willow spoke up, hoping to calm the fracas before it really got rolling. "We were just thinking that Buffy might be in labor, and just not feel it all that much..her being the slayer and all. She can take a lot of pain before she says ouch."

Spike just shook his head. "She's not in labor," he said doggedly.

"You can say it until the cows come home," Buffy snapped. "And it still don't make it true!"

"Look, sweetheart," he began reasonably, "..you can't be in labor."

"Why the hell not?" she asked shrilly. "For crying out loud, Spike...you always knew this day would come!"


"And WHY are you so damn positive that I'm not in labor?" she demanded. "Did you graduate from medical school when I wasn't looking?"

"Because," he blurted out, "I'm not ready for it!"

Buffy didn't know whether to laugh or scream. Not ready for it? Like THAT was the deciding factor!

"Well, WHY didn't you say so?" she asked sarcastically. "I'm sure if you ask her that the baby won't mind staying where she is until you're ready for it!"


"Maybe you can give me a rough of when you THINK you'll be good to go. Nothing definite, just ball park, what do you think? Two weeks? Three? Couple of years?"

"Funny, Slayer...real funny." Spike looked at Willow. "She been like this all day?"

"Like what?" Willow asked innocently.

Spike didn't reply, just looked back at his wife. "You really think you're in labor?" he asked.

Buffy folded her arms across her chest. "Well...YOU tell ME!"

Grabbing her hand, he pulled her towards the back door. "You," he said, pointing at Dawn. "Run upstairs and get your sister's bag. It's right inside our bedroom door. And you," he turned to Willow. "You call her doctor...number's by the phone."

"Gee, he must be ready," Buffy muttered.

"And YOU!" Spike added. "Shut up and get your ass in the car."

She stared up at him, fully prepared to give him the rough side of her tongue, then stopped when she saw the look on his face.

Waiting until Dawn and Willow were gone, she slipped one hand behind his neck. "Don't be scared," she said softly. "Everything will be fine...and you ARE ready for it."

He just looked at her, his eyes filled with doubt and worry. "You think?"

She smiled. "I KNOW," she whispered, pulling him down until his lips touched hers. After a long kiss, she cupped his face in her hands and said the one thing she knew would calm him down and fire him up at the same time.

"Spike...I need you to take care of me. I'm counting on you, baby."

<She needs me...she needs ME...it's my job to take care of her....>

He smiled and kissed her forehead. "You're good...you know that, don't you?"

"I know YOU, baby."

"All right," he said firmly. "Let's..." He stopped when she made a face. "What?"

She shrugged. "Labor pain."

Spike was surprised. "That's IT?"

"I guess so," she said with a cheery smile.

"Well, that doesn't seem so bad."

"Yeah, that's what I thought. Fringe benefit of being a slayer, I guess. Painless childbirth. Lucky me, huh?"




"I need to examine you and see how far you're dilated," the nurse said briskly.

Buffy lay flat on the hospital bed, panting and sweating, and madder than hellfire.

"NO!" She whipped her head around and glared at Spike. "Kill her!" she demanded. "It's
the least you can do for me, you rotten son of a..."

Spike looked up and met the nurses eyes. "She's kidding." He leaned over the bed. "Sweetheart...the nurse is here to help you. I know you're in pain, but I can't kill her," he whispered."

Buffy looked at him murderously. "This is YOUR fault," she panted. "You...and your stupid birthday...I HATE you....I wish you were DEAD!"

Turning on the nurse, she grabbed the front of her uniform. "Bring me...a sharp piece of wood! Any...kind!"

"Buffy!" Spike said loudly. "Let go of the nurse!" He pried her fingers loose and kept her hands locked in his, preventing her from sinking her teeth into his knuckles.

Dr. Beaumont walked into the room, scanning Buffy's chart. "How are things going in..." He stopped short when he saw the looks he was being given by the other three people in the room. "Not well, I take it?" he asked needlessly.

"No!" Spike answered. "You take it damn well right! She's in too much pain. Can't you bloody well give her something for it?"

"Please..." Buffy whined.

"I can do that," the doctor assured them. "How far is she dilated?" he asked the nurse.

"She won't let me examine her and find out!"

Dr. Beaumont smiled. "I'll do it." he washed his hands at the sink, then pulled a pair of rubber gloves from the wall dispenser. "Page Dr. Hulse," he instructed the nurse. "Tell him to get ready for an epidural."

When the door swung closed behind the R.N., the doctor pulled the curtain closed around Buffy's bed.

"Buffy.." he began.

She glared at him suspiciously. "What?"

"I promise to be very gentle and not hurt you, but I have to see how far you're dilated. Then, we'll get you something for the pain. All right?"

Buffy nodded. "Thank you." In the lull between pains, she tried to be pleasant. "You see..this wasn't supposed to hurt."

Dr. Beaumont looked at her, puzzled. "Why did you think that having a baby wouldn't hurt? Didn't you attend the classes and...."

"Yes!" she interjected. "But I'm different from the others!"

"Oh? How's that?"

"I'm a ...."

Spike clapped his hand over her mouth. "Big, brave girl!" he finished for her. "Be quiet now and let the doc examine you, honey. I'll be right back."

She grabbed his shirt sleeve. "Where do you think YOU'RE going?"

"I'm just...just going to tell everyone how you're doing," he explained.

"But I'm doing lousy," she said fretfully.

"No, you're not, love." He loosened her hand and kissed her fingers.

"Hurry up!" she called as he made it out the door.

"Oh, yeah...I will," Spike answered. As the door closed behind him, he paused to collect himself, then headed for the waiting area.

Dawn saw him first and jumped to her feet. "Is it over?"

Spike shook his head. "I wish." He sat down on the couch next to Willow. "The doc is giving her something so it doesn't hurt so much."

Willow smiled and patted his shoulder. "The pain kicked in, huh?"

He nodded. "In a big way."

"Is she being mean?"

"In a BIG way."

Xander appeared in the doorway, three cans of soda in his hands. "So," he said, handing a can to Dawn and Willow. "How's the little mommy doing?"

"She's terrorizing the nurses," Spike replied. "They're all afraid to go near her."

"As well they should be," Xander said, plopping down in an armchair and opening a can of cola. "The only thing more dangerous than a cranky slayer...is a cranky slayer in labor."

"Yeah, well...." Spike stood up. "I have to go back," he said bleakly.

Xander raised his can. "Courage, man."

Willow smiled cheerily. "Tell her that we're here!"

"And that we love her!" Dawn added.

"I will." Spike looked back at them from the doorway. "Goodbye," he said, sounding like a condemned man standing on the top step of the gallows.

Outside of Buffy's room, he waited, listening for her cantankerous tones. After almost a minute of silence, he pushed the door open. "Buffy?"

"Hi, honey" she said sweetly, holding out one hand. "Come here."

Encouraged by her smile, he leaned over the bed. "How you feeling, baby?" he asked, brushing back her damp hair.

"Better," she sighed deeply. "Soooo much better."

Spike smiled. "On drugs, huh?"

"Mm-hmm," she nodded. "Good ones, too."

Doctor Beaumont came in to the room. "How's the pain?" he asked.

"Bearable" Buffy said.

The doctor chuckled. "Hooray for modern medicine." He glanced at her chart. "Good news...you're fully dilated."

"What's that mean?" Spike asked.

The doctor closed the chart with a snap. "Time to push. AFTER we get you into the delivery room."

"Okay," Buffy said, her face determined. "I'm ready."

After summoning the nurse on the intercom, Doctor Beaumont turned back to them. "All right. Let's go deliver this baby."




Chapter 12:

=A Whole New World=

Dawn nudged the door of Buffy's hospital room open and peeked inside, grinnng at the sight before her eyes.

Buffy was curled up on her side in the bed, sound asleep. Spike was sitting in the chair next to the bed, feet propped up on the bed rail, head back, eyes closed.

They both looked utterly exhausted.

But, it was the other occupant of the room that Dawn most wanted to see. The brand new one.

On top of a small cart next to the bed, a baby wrapped snugly in a pink cotton blanket was sleeping in a glass bassinet.

Dawn was so enraptured at the sight of the baby, she didn't notice that Spike wasn't asleep until he spoke.

"Go ahead," he said quietly. "Get a closer look."

She approached the sleeping infant as quietly as she could. "Oh, God," she whispered. "She's so beautiful."

Spike stood up and stretched, then joined her beside the bassinet. "She's more than beautiful," he said. "She's perfect."

Dawn slipped one arm around him and squeezed. "Proud daddy."

He hugged her back. "You know I am," he agreed. "Watch this." He reached into the bassinet and stroked the baby's tiny hand with one finger. Her little fist uncurled and she instinctively wrapped her own fingers around her father's.

"That's my girl," he whispered.

"And my niece," Dawn added. "Can I...?"

Spike smiled. "Hold her? Sure, you can."

She lifted the baby carefully, cuddling her against her breast.

"Hi Dawnie," a tired voice whispered. Dawn turned and saw Buffy, awake and smiling.

"Hey, big sister...look what I found."

Buffy held out her hands to Spike. "Help." She grimaced slightly as he helped her straighten up in the bed. "So," she said, pushing the button that raised the back of the mattress. "What do you think of your niece?"

"Gee, not much," Dawn said, grinning widely. "Only that she's the most beautiful baby ever!"

"She looks like her mother," Spike said, leaning down and kissing Buffy's forehead. "God, I love you," he whispered in her ear.

"She's so tiny," Dawn marveled.

"Everything but her lungs." Buffy smiled up into Spike's eyes. "Those she gets from her father."

"Very funny," he said, smiling back at her.

Dawn sat down in the bed side chair. "And how are YOU feeling?"

"Like I just went ten rounds with a kangaroo on speed..and lost," Buffy replied.

"So, it WAS painful?"

Buffy thought for a moment. "Put it this way...it wasn't a walk in the park. It was more like a 10k run through the highways of hell...uphill."

Dawn laughed. "But she was worth it."

"Yes, she was," Buffy nodded. "Worth that and ten times more besides."

The door opened and they all turned to look as one of the nurses came in carrying an enormous flower arrangement. "These just came," she informed them, setting the vase down on the night stand.

After the nurse left, Spike extracted a small white card from the arrangment and handed it to Buffy.

"They're from Giles" she announced, after reading the card.

It was a short, simple message.

" I've never been more proud "

She showed Spike the card. "My thoughts exactly," he murmured.

A few minutes later, Dawn rose reluctantly to her feet. "It's getting late," she said, giving the baby to her father. She leaned over and kissed Buffy. "You get some rest. I'll see you tomorrow."

"I'll be here," Buffy promised.

Passing Spike on her way out the door, Dawn gave him a pat on the back.

"Nice work...Daddy."


"She's right you know."

"Right about what, love?"

"You do nice work."

"Well...I had some help."

Buffy watched as Spike sat down in the chair, holding the baby close, patting her tiny back.

She felt a sudden rush of pure love move through her. Love for her child and for her husband. So much love, that she couldn't even imagine ever hating him...wanting to drive a stake into him.

<God....what if I had succeeded?>

It was a horrible and sobering thought, one that she didn't want to examine closely.

<Thank goodness for unanswered prayers.>

She was always amazed at how quickly life could change, how little it took to make it a completely different life from the one you'd been leading. The tiniest, most insignificant circumstance could alter the course of existence as much as a major occurance could.

In a very short period of time, she had gone from a slayer with no family but a "sort of" younger sister, to a wife and a mother. Somehow, in spite of the wrenching twists and turns her early years had put her through, she had come out on the other side with a new world filled with love and hope and endless possibilities.

Everything was different now. She had a husband to love and a child to raise...and she was double damned if she would let anything interfere with that destiny.

"What are you thinking about so seriously?"

Spike's voice brought her out of her thoughts.

"Just that...it's so funny to think that I'm a mother now."

He laughed. "Oh, I can relate," he said. "Imagine my difficulty believing I'm a dad."

Buffy shook her head. "Things have changed so much now. There's so much more to consider."

He nodded. "That's true. It's a whole new world for us now. Isn't it?" he asked the sleeping baby.

Buffy was silent for a long moment, then spoke with complete decisiveness. "I'm through being a slayer."

Spike looked at her. "Say what?"

She met his gaze head on. "I'm through with it. I'm through with risking my life every night. I mean...it was bad enough before, but now...Spike...I can't take a chance on getting killed...on leaving this baby....leaving you."

Although he kept his face composed, inside he was shouting with joy. He'd been planning to bring this up at some point, but had never summoned the nerve during Buffy's pregnancy.

"I'm gonna talk to Giles in the morning," she said firmly. "He's gonna have to bring Faith back from New York, if he wants a slayer in Sunnydale."

"You think she'll do it?"

Buffy nodded. "I think so. I talked to her a few weeks ago and she sounded a little lonesome. You know Faith...she never says it, but I can tell. And she wanted to come and see the baby, anyway."

"When she gets here, we'll shanghai her, not let her leave, then." Spike said. "How does that sound, poppet?" He waited, then looked at Buffy. "She's not talking, but she loves the idea."

"And what does Daddy think?" Buffy asked.

"Daddy...thinks it's the best idea he's heard in a very long time. And he also thinks that it's time he went home and let Mommy rest."

He stood up and kissed the baby's cheek. "Goodnight Katherine Rose," he said. "Be a good girl and I'll see you tomorrow." He started to place her in the bassinet, but Buffy stopped him.

"Don't put her back to bed," she protested. "Bring her here."

Spike placed the baby in her mother's arms, then picked up his jacket from the chair and slipped it on. "You get some sleep, love," he said, bending over to kiss her and caress the baby's cheek one more time.

"We will," Buffy promised, leaning back against the pillows.

"See you tomorrow, baby."

"Hey!" Buffy called when he had one hand on the door. "I love you."

Spike turned and looked at her. Unable to resist, he returned to her bedside. "I love you, too," he said, kissing her soundly on the mouth. "Now, go to sleep."

After he'd left, Buffy looked down at the baby in her arms.

"That was your daddy. Isn't he cute?"



Chapter 13:

=Back In The Saddle=

Buffy groaned and burrowed her head deeper into the pillow.

That noise was starting up again. It was loud and piercing, and was yanking her out of a very nice dream by the scruff of her neck.

She tried to block the sound by covering her head with another pillow, but it was too persistent. She couldn't ignore it.

Not just because it was so damn loud...but because something inside of her sleep fogged brain was telling her she'd better not.

<Please...please let me sleep...I'm so tired...>

The noise didn't care. The more she tried to ignore it, the louder and more shrill it got.

Finally, with a moan of defeat, she opened her eyes and concentrated on the task of pinpointing the source of the wretched sound and making it stop.

Sitting up in bed, she gazed around the room through eyes only half open, trying to identify the origin of that dream killing caterwauling.

A quick glance at the man sleeping next to her revealed nothing.

There was no one standing at the door, and the window was tightly closed against the cold night air.

Buffy rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and tried to make them focus. Her gaze moved past the armoire, around the chair, up and down the bookshelves, past the bassinet...


Her eyes snapped back instantly in the direction they'd come from and zeroed in on the pink and white bassinet. The source of the clamor had been located and now had to be stopped before it woke up the entire neighborhood.

"Spike...honey," she muttered, tapping his shoulder gently. He didn't even twitch. "The baby's crying," she said a little louder, shaking him a little harder.


Leaning over, Buffy placed her mouth less than an inch from his ear. 'HEY!!"

He shot straight up in bed, staring at her, wild eyed. "What? What's wrong?" he asked, staring at her as though he wasn't quite sure who she was.

The baby picked that moment to wail again.

"Buffy...the baby's crying," he said, yawning widely.

She looked at him. "No kidding?"

He flopped back down on the bed. "Whassa matter with her?" he asked, his voice still sleepy.

"Well, it beats me all to hell." she said. "Hey, I know! Why don't you go ask her?" She produced an impressive yawn of her own. "Go and get her before she wakes up everyone in town."

He gave her an imploring look. "She's probably hungry" he said. "It's not like I can do anything about that, so..."

Buffy cut him off. "Go get the baby!"

He tried to appeal to her again. "Yeah, but...why should BOTH of us...."


Seeing the look on her face, he switched gears. "Why don't I go get the baby?" he asked, smiling as if it had been his idea all along.

"Good plan," she agreed, patting his arm just a touch harder than was necessary.

Still half asleep, he stumbled over to the bassinet and peered down at his daughter, trying to focus.

"You're not a bit happy right now, are you?" He picked her up and held her against his shoulder, patting her back. "And if you're not happy...nobody's happy. Isn't that right, my love?"

Depositing her in her mother's arms, he crawled back into bed and turned on his side, openly staring as Buffy unbuttoned her nightgown and began to nurse the baby.

The curves that Buffy had developed during her pregnancy had nearly doubled in size, causing Spike to develop an instant erection everytime she undressed or nursed Katie.

She glanced at him and caught him looking at her.

"What are YOU staring at?" she asked, a tiny smile playing on her lips.

"What do you think I'm staring at?" he leered playfully, tracing one finger over her milk laden breasts. "Do you get to keep these after you stop nursing?"

Buffy laughed. "God, I HOPE so."

Turning the baby in her arms, she offered her other breast. Katie nursed for a few seconds, then drifted back to sleep.

"She's out cold," Spike observed.

"Mm-hmm..back to bed please, Daddy." Giving the baby back to her father, Buffy watched as Spike gently settled her back in her bassinet. Leaning over, he kissed her cheek and whispered, "Sweet dreams, angel."

Returning to the bed, he saw Buffy making a face of discomfort. "Something wrong, love?"

She shook her head. "Not really. It's just that sometimes she falls asleep before I'm...."


"Yeah." Slipping one hand into her gown, she massaged her breast. "It's a little...uncomfortable."

He was silent for a moment, then looked into her eyes and said, "I can help you with that, sweetheart."

Buffy gazed at him in surprise...and something else.

"Do tell," she murmured, smiling slowly.

Spike sat up and pulled her lower in the bed. Working her nightgown off, he tossed it to the end of the bed, then settled beside her and placed his hand beneath her right breast, lifting it to his mouth.

Gently, knowing how sensitive they were, he lowered his head and took her nipple into his mouth, then began suckling.

Buffy gasped sharply and pushed her head back into the pillow, trying to stay quiet and not disturb the baby. Closing her eyes tightly, she slipped one hand around the back of Spike's neck, caressing it.

He broke contact briefly. "Not hurting you, am I?"

"Mmm...no," she said softly. "Not a bit. You're being very gentle."

He smiled and kissed the side of her neck. "And I thought your blood tasted sweet," he whispered.

Buffy applied a little pressure to the back of his neck. "Don't stop."

He reclaimed the tender flesh, drawing her warm milk into his mouth greedily.

Buffy's head was spinning. This was such a different sensation from what she felt when she nursed Katie. That happiness was completely maternal and loving, all it's pleasure derived from the knowledge that she was nurturing her child.

But this...this was amazing. The feelings rushing through her now had nothing to do with motherly love. This was sex...pure and simple.

In the past when they'd made love, Spike had always paid lavish attention to her breasts. He knew how much she enjoyed the feel of his hands and mouth on her, and he spent as much time there as she wanted him to.

Pregnancy had increased not only the size of her breasts, but also the sensitivity. She had become so sensitive, in fact, that he was able to bring her nearly to the point of orgasm without even touching her below the waist.

Buffy's eyes suddenly opened wide as she realized that it was happening right now. She felt every pull of his mouth in the depths of her womb, making her sex swell and become moist and heavy feeling.

Slowly, she became aware that he was saying something.

"What?" she asked faintly. 'I..I didn't hear...you."

Spike looked at her, his own expression a little dazed. "I asked if you felt better now. Did that help?"

"Oh...right." Buffy tried to focus her attention on something other than sudden, unbearable lust. "Yeah, if feels much better." Her hand drifted up and caressed
his cheek. "Thank you, honey."

He swallowed hard. "My pleasure," he said in a strained voice as he tried to climb out of bed.

Buffy caught his arm. "Where are you going?"

"Not far." Spike looked as uncomfortable as she had a few minutes ago. "I'll be right back."

Her eyes moved down the front of his body, easily seeing the reason behind his obvious discomfort.

Smiling, she pulled him back down. "You don't have to do that by yourself, baby. I'll take care of it for you."

She slipped one hand down the front of his sweatpants. "It's my fault that it got all big and hard like that." Placing her free hand on his chest, she urged him down, then pulled his pants all the way off.

"Are...are you sure?" he asked hoarsely.

Buffy smiled. "You made me feel better with YOUR mouth. I should return the favor."

"Oh...oh, God," he moaned, his hands playing in her hair. "Buffy...sweetheart...feels so good."

Her mouth slid up and down his shaft, slowly at first, then faster when she felt his hips rise to push himself deeper into her mouth.

Releasing him from her oral embrace, she licked him up and down, swirling her tongue around the head of his penis in a way she knew he enjoyed.

"Baby...yes...harder," he begged. "Suck it harder..yeah...you know how...use your tongue..."

Buffy licked up the drops of semen that formed at the slit, then sucked just on the head as her fingers wrapped more firmly around the base of his erection.

"Ohhhh....fuck...you're the best, baby...no one sucks as good as you do...clever little tongue of yours...so hot and wet...mmmm...suck really hard now....."

When she felt him stiffen even more, she knew he was close to climaxing. Removing her mouth, she held him firmly in her hand, pumping it up and down.

She looked up and caught him watching her. "Try not to yell too loud when you come,' she said with a sassy smile. "You don't want to wake up your daughter at
a moment like this."

Lowering her head, she reclaimed him in her mouth. Thirty seconds later, he grabbed a pillow and buried his face in it, muffling the sounds of pleasure that he couldn't control.

When he was finished, she pulled the pillow away from his face, chuckling when she saw the idiotic smile he had on.

She crawled back up beside him and fell into his arms. "Better?"

Spike squeezed her tightly. "God...yes. Life is SO good, kitten."

Buffy snuggled closer. "It's about to get even better."

Something in her tone made him open his eyes and look at her. "How so?"

She propped her head on her hand. "I have an appointment with the doctor today. Eight week check up time. And, if everything goes right," she added, walking her fingers up the middle of his chest. "..I should get the all clear."

Spike's eyes kindled with new heat. "You mean...?"

Buffy nuzzled his ear. "I mean..that with any luck...you'll be back in the saddle tonight, cowboy."

He flipped her over suddenly, startling her. "Then I'd better make sure it's ready for me."

He kissed his way down her breasts and over her abdomen.

When she felt him push her thighs apart and settle between them, she closed her eyes and sighed.

"You were right, honey," she said."Life is damn good."


"Why are we here?"

"Because I felt something behind."

"Something important?"

"Something unfinished."

Jacob stared into depthless dark eyes, eyes that had bewitched him from the moment he saw them glittering in a fever of blood lust.

For three months he had been with her. Three months living in her world of mad fantasy, of tea parties where she served blood in delicate china cups, and danced
to music no one else could hear.

She was completely insane. He knew it...but he didn't care. He was a part of her. She'd made him especially for her, had given him a new life and taught him what to do with it.

He would do anything for her, which was what she wanted and needed from a man.

Jacob watched her stand in the moonlight, staring at a small house across the street. Her eyes sharpened briefly when a light was turned on and a woman passed in front of a window that ran half the length of the house.

A woman holding a baby.

He could see her patting the infant's back, see her mouth moving as she soothed it.

"There," his lover whispered.

Inside the house, the woman turned her head suddenly, as of someone had called to her from another room. Moments later, the light went off.

"Who is she?" Jacob asked.

"She's a thief," the woman beside him replied, turning to face him with golden eyes and glistening fangs. "She stole from me."

Jacob shivered as his own demon leapt forward to greet her. "What did she steal from you?" he growled.

She smiled sadly. "My prince. She took him away from me...two times. That's not good form, you know. I'm quite cross with her....she has to be punished."

"How will you punish her?"

The smile on her face changed and her eyes narrowed.

"By stealing from her what she loves most." Lifting her arms, she gazed into the blank glass eyes of the doll pressed against her breast. "Her child."

Jacob watched her walk away, singing a nameless lullaby, forgetting that he was even there.

Taking one more look at the house, he ran to catch up with her.




Chapter 14:


Stolen Away


"Hey! Where's my daughter?"

"In here with me!"

Buffy glanced up as her husband came into the living room and scooped Katie up in his arms.

"Happy Birthday, Princess," he said, kissing the baby's cheeks.

"What are you talking about?" Buffy asked. "It's nowhere near her birthday."

"Is so," he insisted. "She's nine weeks old today, aren't you, precious?"

"Oh, brother," Buffy rolled her eyes. "Yeah, she's really getting up there, isn't she? Seems like it was only nine weeks ago that we brought her home from the hospital. Where DOES the time go?"

Spike stretched out on the sofa with the baby on his chest. "Your mother has a very sarcastic way about her sometimes," he said, patting Katie's back. "I'ts not very attractive at all."

Buffy couldn't stop herself. "She'll be asking to borrow the car any day now."

"Hmm...not bloody likely," he mumbled.

"S'cuse me?"

"No one," he stated firmly, "except for me will be driving her anywhere!"

"What about me?"

"YOU?" Spike laughed. "Least of all, you!"

Buffy knew better than to open that can of worms and run down mailboxes, so she decided to take another tack. Folding her arms across her chest, she sat down on the end of the sofa.

"All right...how about when she starts dating?" she asked, then sat back to wait for the explosion.

He didn't disappoint her.

"Dating? Are you...you're out of your...I will NOT..." He shook his head vehemently, clutching the baby closer. "No!"

Buffy had to bite her lip until it nearly bled, just to suppress a smile. "What do you mean, no?" she asked, when she could speak without laughing. "She never gets to date? Ever?"

He thought about it for about three seconds. "No."

'You know, honey," Buffy said. "I think she may fight you on that." She patted his knee. "You're being overprotective."

"Well...I don't care," he replied, stroking Katie's soft cap of light brown hair. "If you think that I'm gonna stand around and watch some..boy..put his sweaty hands on my baby, you'd best think again."

"My, my, my," Buffy said. "That is a brand new you, isn't it?" Standing up with a sigh, she reached down and took the baby.

"Hey!" he protested. "I'm not done yet!"

"Too bad," she called over her shoulder. "Nap time, doncha know?"

"It is not." Spike followed her upstairs. "You're just saying that."

"Am not."

"She's not tired."

"Is so."

Five minutes later, they came back down.

"Told you so," Buffy said. She went into the kitchen and stared balefully at a sink full of dirty dishes. "Why do we use so many dishes?" she asked, looking at him as though she expected him to answer.

"What do you mean, we?"

As she stood at the sink scraping dried food off her mother's china, Spike crept up behind her and slipped his arms around her waist. He nuzzled and growled against her throat, making her laugh.

"Hey, ya know what?" he asked suddenly. "Let's go out tonight, just you and me."

She turned in his arms. "Yeah? Like where?"

He shrugged. "You choose."

"What about Katie?"

"Dawn'll be home soon. Instant baby-sitter."

She thought it over for a moment, then smiled. "Okay, you talked me into it," she said returning his embrace.

"Then you put on your prettiest dress," he instructed. "I'm going to take you out and show you off!"

Pushing her up against the sink, he kissed her long and hard.


"You ready to go, gorgeous?" Spike called out, standing at the bottom of the stairs.

"I am very, very ready," Buffy said. She practically skipped down the stairs, with Dawn following behind her.

"Look," she said to her sister. "I know that YOU know where everything is, but let me give you the little speech anyway, okay?"

Dawn nodded. "Fire away."

"The number of the restaurant is on the pad next to the phone. So's her pediatrician's number. I fed her about two hours ago, and she'll probably want to eat before we get home, so there's a can of formula in the cupboard. She doesn't mind the bottle."

Spike took her hand and began tugging her towards the door. "Come on, Slayer. Night's not getting any younger."

"Okay, okay...I've got my cell phone...you know that number, right?"

"Yup," Dawn said.

"What else....Oh, I forgot...Xander and Anya might drop by later."

"How come?"

Buffy pulled her coat on. "Anya wants some diaper changing practice, as long as they're just wet that is."

Spike looked surprised. "Is she...?"

Buffy smiled and shook her head. "No. She just wants to be ready for it when it happens."

He snorted. "Yeah. Good bloody luck."

Buffy narrowed her eyes at him. "What's THAT supposed to mean?"

Reclaiming her hand, he led her down the porch steps to the driveway. "Nothing terrible," he explained. "Just that...no matter how ready you THINK you are...you're not!"

He opened the car door for her, then came around and climbed into the driver's seat. Before turning the key, he turned to look at her. "Am I right?"

Buffy opened her mouth to speak, closed it again to think, then said, "I can't argue with you on that one."

Wearing that same smirk that used to make her fingers itch to smack off his face, Spike stated the car and backed out of the driveway.


Dawn heard the doorbell ring as she was closing the door to the nursery.

"Shit," she muttered under her breath, descending the stairs as quietly as she could. She opened the door halfway, to find a man and woman she didn't recognize standing there.

The woman spoke first. "Hello," she smiled. "You must be Buffy's sister, Dawn."

She had a soft voice and spoke with a cultured English accent, a sound Dawn was familiar and comfortable with.

"Rupert described you perfectly," the woman added.

"You know Giles?" Dawn asked.

"Oh, yes," the woman nodded. "We're old friends. I've been out of the country for a while, but we had a lovely visit this afternoon and he told us all about Buffy's baby. I just had to come and congratulate her...oh, and I brought a little gift."

She handed Dawn a small box, wrapped in pink paper, with a white and pink bow on top of it.

Dawn smiled. "Buffy's not home right now."

The woman looked disappointed. "Oh, that's a shame."

The man cleared his throat. "Darling," he said softly. "We're going to be awfully late."

"Yes..I know, but.." The woman sighed. "Would you mind terribly if I borrowed your phone to let our friends know that we're on our way. It'll only take a moment."

Dawn shrugged. "Sure. Come on in."


"Did you have fun, baby?"

"I did," Buffy smiled and laid her head against Spike's shoulder. "I'd almost forgotten what it's like to eat a meal without providing one at the same time."

"Sure you don't want to go somewhere else?" he offered. "It's early yet."

She shook her head. "Uh-uh. Things are getting uncomfortable," she said, gesturing at her breasts. "I just hope she's hungry."

"Well, if she's not," he said, pulling into the driveway behind Xander's car. "I could eat."

Shutting off the engine, he slid one hand behind her neck and pulled her closer to kiss her.

After a few seconds, Buffy broke away. "I sure do appreciate all the sacrifices you make for ....the front door's open."

They opened their doors and got out of the car.

"They're probably just ready to leave," Spike suggested.

"Yeah, maybe," Buffy nodded. "But it's kind of cold out."

He reached for her hand. "I'm sure it's nothing, love."

She stared at him. "Then why do you look nervous?"

Simultaneously, they both began to walk faster.

Spike was the first one through the door, and he stopped so abruptly that Buffy ran into him.

"What's..." she started to ask, then followed his gaze to the living room sofa. "Dawn? Dawn...what happened?"

Her sister was sitting on the sofa, her eyes red and swollen from crying. Anya sat beside her, holdng a plastic bag filled with ice against the side of Dawn's face.

She turned in the other direction, and saw Xander in the kitchen doorway, punching numbers on the phone. As he hit the final number, he turned and saw them.

Before he could speak, the cell phone in Buffy's purse began to ring.

Xander hung up the phone. "I was just calling you."

Spike held up one hand. "The baby's not here. She's not in the house."

Buffy didn't ask how he knew. She felt it too. Their child was gone, and the house felt...different.

Panic began to take a stranglehold on her throat, as she did her best not to break down and scream, not to fly out of the house and start kicking down people's doors.

"B-Buffy.." Dawn's voice was soft and frightened. "I'm so...I'm so...." She began to cry.

Buffy clenched her fists to keep from tearing the house apart.

Spike sat down beside Dawn and pulled her hands away from her face. "Dawn." His voice amazingly controlled. "Tell me everything that happened."

When she lifted her head to speak, he saw the marks on her neck. Two small punctures, smeared with blood.

He closed his eyes briefly, shaking with rage.

A vampire had done this. Had come into his home, and taken his child. And it had to be someone he or Buffy knew. Dawn had to have invited them in.

"Spike?" Buffy's voice was nearly inaudible with fear.

Opening his eyes, he looked at Dawn. "What did he look like? Have you ever seen him before? Dawn, honey, listen to me...this wasn't your fault. Just try and remember...tell me everything that happened."

Anya placed the ice bag on the table, revealing a huge bruise and swelling on the side of Dawn's face.

"Oh, Christ," Spike bit out angrily. "Buffy? Come here, love."

On shaky legs, Buffy crossed the room and sat down in the armchair near the sofa. "Dawn...tell us what happened."

In a quiet voice, Dawn described everything.

When she mentioned the part about Giles, Xander went back to the phone and dialed the watcher's number. Their conversation was brief.

"He hasn't spoken to anyone, from anywhere, about you and the baby," he told them. "He's on his way over." Xander stood in the doorway, arms folded, staring at the floor.

While Dawn continued, Spike rose to his feet and reverted to old habits, pacing the room with his fists clenched.

"I...I let them in to use the phone. I thought you guys knew them. She seemed to know about you. And...and when they came in...he grabbed hold of me and started to...to bite me. But she told him to stop. She...she said that she wanted me alive..so that I could tell Buffy that she was being...being punished for stealing from her. She
started to go up the stairs, and I tried to stop her! I tried to make her stop! And she...she hit me!"

"She knocked her out cold," Xander added. "Anya and I found her laying at the foot of the stairs. By the time we woke her up...God, Buffy. We didn't know the baby was gone. We went up and checked the nursery, but we thought she was with you. I..I guess we weren't thinking clearly."

Anya's voice was soft and hesitant. "We thought maybe you forgot that we were coming over. We didn't see the bite marks at first."

Buffy was almost nauseous with fear and guilt. This was HER fault. These vampires had come to punish her, to punish the slayer...and her baby was going to suffer because of it. Her little girl.

The thought of her helpless baby in the cruel and uncaring hands of a vampire, was the blow that finally brought the slayer to her knees. Sliding out of the chair, she buried her face in the cushion and began to cry harsh, painful tears that made her entire body tremble.

Spike crossed the room in three strides and picked her up off the floor, then carried her upstairs.

He sat on their bed, holding her on his lap as she cried. He didn't even try to make her stop. He knew there was no way that she could.

But, he also knew that he had little time to spare.

Five minutes crawled by, and Buffy's sobs turned to soft, silent weeping.

"Listen to me," he said quietly. "I am going to find her, I promise you. I'll bring her home."

Buffy took a deep breath. "You can't promise me that...and you know it."


"Oh, God...this is all my fault," she whimpered. "My fault.."

"What are you talking about?" He pulled back and looked into her eyes. "Baby...this is not..."

"A vampire took her!" She cut him off brutally. "They took her...because she's MY child! The slayer's child. They couldn't get me...so they took her." She began to cry again. "They took our baby, Spike...our little girl."

"Sweetheart...don't do this to yourself."

Buffy was gasping for air. "I didn't think anything could hurt this much," she said, holding her hand over her heart as her chest heaved. "I don't think I can survive
this, Spike...I can't...I just can't."

Burying her face against his shoulder, she sobbed brokenheartedly.

After a few minutes, he shifted her off his lap. "I'll be right back, honey."

Buffy clutched at him. "Where are you going? Spike... please....I need you."

"I know, love," He took hold of her hands and kissed them. "I'll be right back, I swear it."

Anya spoke from the doorway. "I'll stay with her."

Spike glanced at her and nodded. "Thanks." He kissed Buffy's forehead. "I just need to talk to Dawn, okay?"

He walked quickly downstairs, briefly distracted by the sound of a car stopping in front of the house with a scream of brakes and tires.

Looking out the window, Spike watched as Giles leapt from his car and sprinted for the house.

"How's Buffy?" he asked, panting for breath.

Spike shook his head. "Not good. She's upstairs."

Halfway up the staircase, Giles stopped and turned his head. "Spike?"


"How are YOU doing?"

A little surprised, Spike didn't reply.

"I'm sorry," Giles said. "She's your daughter, too. You must be out of your mind."

Spike nodded. "Nearly."

"I should have asked."

"You did. Now...go see Buffy. Tell her I'll be up in a few minutes."

Back in the living room, Spike knelt in front of Dawn and took her hands. "Tell me what they looked like. Did they give you any names? Did they call each other by

Dawn shook her head. "No. He called her darling...but she didn't call him anything. I..I thought they friends of Giles'. She sounds just like him."

Spike had been staring at the floor, but this comment caught his attention. "What do you mean...sounds just like him? You mean she was English?"


Spike closed his eyes. "What..what did she look like?"

"She had long dark hair...I think her eyes were brown. And she was wearing a long dress...sort of fancy and old fashioned looking."

"Oh, God." Xander had been standing by the window listening, and went pale with shock. "That's...you think it's..."

Spike looked up and met his eyes. "Yeah," he said curtly.

Dawn wiped her face on her sleeve. "What? Who do think it is?"

Spike didn't answer her. The anger that had been building in him since he had come home to find his daughter missing was fast turning into a raging fury that he was almost afraid to unleash.


He clenched his fist so tightly that his nails dug in to the palms of his hands.

<If you hurt her...if you hurt my little girl...I swear before Christ Almighty that I will kill you so slowly...so painfully...that you will BEG for the FUCKING FIRE!!>

Jumping to his feet, Spike threw open the door to the weapons cabinet, Xander right behind him.

Grabbing a monstrously huge axe, he tossed it to Xander, who caught it in one hand. They each armed themselves with several stakes. Xander took a full sized crossbow, while Spike took a smaller one that he concealed beneath his coat.


He turned to see Buffy standing at the foot of the stairs, watching him. Dropping the weapons in his hands, he held out his arms. "Come here, sweetheart."

"Where are you going?" she asked, pressing her cheek against his chest.

"I'm going to get our daughter...and bring her home."

She reared back, staring at him with wide, hopeful eyes. "You know where she is? Who took her?"

Spike placed his hands on his shoulders and and lookd directly into her eyes. "I know who took her..and she won't be hard to find. She's just as stupid as she ever was."

"Who is? Who are you..."

"Buffy," he said urgently. "Listen to me. This whole thing has nothing to do with you being the slayer. That's not what it's about at all."

She looked at him, confused. "But...Dawn said that SHE said...it was to punish me."

Spike shook his head. "But not for being the slayer."

"Then for what?"

"She's punishing you...because I love you. Because I fell in love with you...and left her."

He watched the terrible knowledge dawn in her eyes.

"You..you mean Drusilla? Drusilla took our baby?"


"Spike!" She clutched his shirt frantically. "Spike...she's insane! You know it as well as I do! God...God only knows what she'll do to...." She began to cry again. "Oh...oh, no.

He felt her shaking, and knew she was about to collapse. Wrapping his arms tightly around her, he sank down with her to the floor.

"Buffy...sweetheart. Listen to me, now. I'll bring her home. I swear...I SWEAR to you...you'll have your baby in your arms again soon."

"OUR baby," she sobbed.

"Yes," he said softly, "Our baby." Spike looked up at Giles and sent him a silent message. The watcher nodded.

"Buffy." Giles' voice was calm as he knelt beside her. Placing his arms around her, he slowly raised her to her feet. "Come and sit down for a moment. Dawn needs to see you. She's..she's almost hysterical."

"No," Buffy protested, trying to pull away. "I have to go..my baby needs me...she needs me, Giles."

"No, Buffy,' Giles said sternly. "Let Spike deal with this...with Drusilla. You're not in any shape for it and..." He frowned, hating to say such words. "..you might endanger Katie. You're not thinking clearly...and who could blame you?" He walked her into the living room.

Spike stood up and retrieved his weapons. "Are you ready?"

Xander nodded grimly. "Beyond ready."

Without a backward glance, they both walked out of the house.




Chapter 15:


"What makes you think she'll be here?"

Spike stopped the car across the street from the factory where he'd once lived with Drusilla.

"Like I said...she's as stupid as ever. Dru never thought things all the way through. That's why she can't manage on her own," he replied, stepping out of the car.

When they found the back entry, Xander tested the door. "It's locked," he whispered.

Spike didn't reply. Lifting one foot, he kicked the door in so hard that it snapped off it's hinges and fell to the floor with an echoing clatter.

Xander stared at him. "Good idea. Let's sneak up on them."

Spike ignored the comment and walked into the warehouse area of the factory. He picked up Dru's scent immediately, and his demon emerged, fueled by rage and eager for violence.

"DRUSILLA!!" He stood in the middle of the cavernous room and shouted her name.

Spike felt her before he saw her step out of the shadows on the opposite side of the room.

"Spike," she said, with airy unconcern. "Come to call, love?"

"Not exactly a social visit, Dru." He approached her at a slow pace. Jacob stood a few feet away, and without thinking twice, Spike pulled out his crossbow and fired the bolt through the other vampire's heart.

"That the best help you can get these days, Pet?" Spike asked as Jacob's dust settled. "How things have changed."

"You're being very cruel, Spike." She tilted her head to one side and pouted, a gesture he had once found irrestible, but now only made him want to snap her neck.

"Tough shit," he said curtly, reloading his weapon. "I'm just getting started. Where's my...." he began, but was cut off by the sound a baby wailing miserably.

With a tiny smile on her lips, Dru scolded him. "Naughty Spike...you woke the baby."

Striding quickly across the room, Spike entered a small office and found his daughter lying on the cold, filthy floor.

Relief washed over him, sending him to his knees beside her. "It's all right, sweetheart." After checking her for bite marks, he scooped her up and realized immediately why she was so upset.

Apart from how hungry she must surely be, the room was freezing and she hadn't been changed in so long that her sleeper was soaked from the waist down.

Holding her under her arms, he kissed her little face. "S'all right, love" he said soothingly. "It's all over. Daddy's here now."

There was nothing he hated to hear more than the sound of his little girl crying. He'd kill Drusilla for that alone.

"Come on, baby," he said, working himself out of his jacket and wrapping it around her. "Mommy's home waiting for you. She'll fill up that empty tummy."

The baby recognized her father's voice and his touch, and allowed herself to be comforted. Holding her against his shoulder, he picked up his crossbow and carried her
back to the main room.

Xander had Drusilla backed up against a wall, his own weapon precisely aimed, being careful not to make eye contact with her.

"Take her outside," Spike said, reluctantly handing Katie over.

Xander lowered the crossbow, and took her in one arm. "What about...?" He gestured at Drusilla.

"Just take her out to the car," Spike said. "See if there's a blanket in the back. She's cold."

With a brief nod, Xander headed for the exit. Before he walked out, he turned to look back. "Spike?"


"Finish it this time."

Spike waited until they were gone, then turned to look at Drusilla.

"I really wish you'd stayed away, Dru. You've gotta stop listening to the fairies whispering in your ear. They're giving you a lot of bad advice."

"And you should stop consorting with humans," she replied. "They've been a bad influence on you, my pretty."

He shook his head. "We had some good times, you and I. You made me what I am today and I loved you for it. For over a hundred years, I loved you. I'd have done anything for you."

"You were my prince," she sighed, extending one hand.

Spike nodded. "And you were my dark princess."

"Oh, Spike..."

"But..things change." He chuckled softly. "Angel told me that once. And...well, I told him that WE don't change. Demons don't change."

Spike smiled ruefully. "Turns out I was wrong. I changed. I don't love you, Dru. Not for a long time. But..you knew that. You knew about the slayer."

Her eyes hardened, then became slightly unfocused. "The other one you love."

"No," he corrected. "The ONLY woman I love. It's her, and it always will be."

Moving a few feet away, he turned his back. "Don't get me wrong though. I'm still grateful to you for turning me. If you hadn't...I would have died long ago. I never would have met the slayer."

Swinging around abruptly, he nailed her with a direct gaze. "And I wouldn't be her husband."

He moved one step closer to her...

"You really shouldn't have come back here."

And another step...

"It was a big mistake."

And another...

"But you made an even bigger mistake when you took the slayer's child. Because, when you stole HER child..."

He paused and smiled. "You stole MY child, too."

Leveling his weapon, he took aim.

For the first time since he'd come here, she looked afraid. "Spike?"

"Now...it's your turn to be punished," he whispered, and fired the bolt.

He stayed there for just a moment, kicking his foot and smearing the residue of dust around the floor.

"You always were a stupid bitch."


Spike crossed the street, seeing Xander waiting by the car with the baby.

Holding out his arms, he gathered her up and held her so closely that he could feel her little heart beating.

"So," Xander said. "It's done?"

Spike nodded. "It's done. It's finally done."

Walking around the to the other side of the car he climbed into the back and buckled
Katie into her car seat.

"Let's go home, sweetheart," he said, kissing the top of her head. "Home to mommy."


When they pulled into the driveway, Buffy was standing at the open front door, frozen by fear into immobility.

"Hey, Buffy!" Xander shouted as he climbed out of the car. "We've got someone here who could use a little motherly love."

When she saw Spike come around the back of the car with a small bundle in his arms, Buffy let out a cry of happiness and launched herself off the porch and across the lawn.

Sweeping the baby into her arms, she cuddled her close and burst into tears.

"Oh, baby...mommy missed you so much! Yes, I did." She held the baby away and covered her little face with kisses. "I'm so happy you're home!"

Holding Katie close again, Buffy looked up into Spike's eyes. "I love you," she whispered.

"I love you, too," he said, wrapping his arms around his girls.

"Thank you for bringing her home."

The baby began to fuss, then to cry.

"Someone's hungry," Spike said, stroking her soft hair.

"Not to mention wet." Buffy patted the baby's bottom, then wiped her hand down the front of her sweater.

"Let's go inside, love. It's too cold out here for her."

As they walked back to the house, Buffy looked up and saw the others standing on the porch waiting.

Dawn was sobbing and shaking, unsure of what to do or say. Buffy handed the baby to Spike and walked up the front porch steps. She threw her arms around her sister, hugging her tightly.

"It's over now," she said. "And I don't want you blaming yourself for this."


"No, Dawn. There's no way you could have known about Drusilla."

"She's right, bit," Spike added. "It's all over..and Drusilla won't be bothering us ever again."

"And thank you for THAT," Giles said as everyone filed back into the house. He closed the door, then locked all three dead bolts.


"Was it hard for you to kill her?"

Buffy lifted the baby from her bathtub and held her as Spike wrapped a towel around her.

"Are you kidding?" he grunted derisively. "I just wish I could have brought her back and done it again."

He carried Katie into their bedroom and laid her on the bed, drying her thoroughly.

Buffy stood in the doorway watching the tender care he gave their child. "You're a good daddy," she said, smiling.

He looked up at her, pleased by the compliment. "You think?"

Buffy nodded. "Oh, yeah."

Sitting down beside him on the bed, she powdered and diapered the baby's bottom, then zipped her up into clean sleepers.

She had been horrified at her child's condition when she'd first begun to undress her. After peeling off the wet sleeper, she had found that Katie's diaper was so wet that it had swelled to three times its normal size and was beginning to fall apart. Her
tiny bottom looked red and sore.

The baby had been so hungry that she'd taken everything Buffy had to give without slowing down.

Now, with her tummy full and her body clean, dry, and warm, she fell asleep on her parent's bed. They stretched out on either side of her, facing each other and talking quietly.

Buffy was trying to stave off the inevitable moment of putting the baby to bed in her crib. She wanted her daughter no farther away than the reach of her hand.

Spike, as always, seemed to read her thoughts and said, "Let's keep her in here with us tonight."

Buffy beamed at him. "That's exactly what I was thinking."

The night's terrible events began to take their toll, leaving them physically and emotionally wrung out.

Spike forced himself to get up and move the bassinet next to their bed, then scooped up the baby without waking her. He tucked her snugly beneath her blanket, then leaned over and kissed her, taking in her fresh baby scent with his eyes shut tight and silently thanking whoever had been kind enough to help a vampire without
a soul anywhere on him.

He undressed and crawled into bed next to Buffy. "The only positive side in all this is that she won't remember any of it."

"Yeah," Buffy said, moving into his arms. "But WE will."

They laid in bed quietly, until Spike broke the silence.

"If you thought I was over protective BEFORE...."

The End.