Title: And Don’t Let Go
Words / Rating: 2900 words / PG
Genres: shanshu!Spike, post-apocalyptic, babyfic
A/N: I’ve been sporadically posting to my LJ a series of vignettes in which the NFA battle went badly, Spike’s human now, and Buffy’s just trying to hold the world together and also deal with Spike having a baby. This one is the earliest in the chronology of any I’ve posted, so you don’t need to have read the others, although if you want to they are all here. I think there may be another one for Free-For-All day.
Buffy hurried the cracked concrete sidewalk towards home, or what passed for it nowadays, her steps echoing flat and hollow against the blackened, gape-windowed mansions on each side. Up the steps to porch: the world was over and the commune she supervised squatted in some mogul’s sprawling multi-story, but hey, she still had a porch. She shoved the door open and glanced around the living room, at Giles sharpening a knife, at Estefany, sitting up on the sofa and looking less battered than she had since the Sheeznik first hit her over the head weeks ago. Willow’d come already, then. “Is she still here?”
“Buffy,” Giles said, nodding in greeting. “I’m afraid Willow left her regrets – a safe house in the Hills needed her before dark, she said.”
“Right,” Buffy said, but for the first time since she’d realized the trouble downtown couldn’t wait, she took a breath that felt almost natural. If something were really wrong with Spike, Willow would have stayed to tell Buffy herself. She hoped. “Did she say…?”
“I’m afraid not.”
“Okay. Okay. I’m just gonna go…” She gestured towards the basement door, and he nodded and let her go. He understood. They hardly could find words with each other anymore, but he understood.
She closed the basement door behind her and stomped down the stairs, past the weapons rack and the ancient boiler that Xander swore would kill them all one day. Once she’d turned the corner, staring across the space to Spike sitting half-naked on their bed with his head bowed over his clenched hands, all her energy sank down her legs and out of her boots.
He lifted his head. “Buffy.”
She swallowed, and closed the distance between them. Tentative, she sat on the bed. “What did Willow say?”
He snorted – less at the question, she thought, then at some cruel irony not yet told. She gripped the edge of the mattress with both hands.
“She made me list – again – all the genuine live human symptoms I’m enjoying.”
Fever and chills, snotty sinuses and a cough clinging to the top of his lungs, the headachy weariness of a body remembering how to live and nausea that varied with diet and time of day but never really settled. Three sucky months of ‘adjustment.’ This was the reward Angel had wanted? But Angel, thought Buffy, probably would have thought he deserved it.
“And then she did her mojo and looked at the general state of my corpus.”
“Now with a hundred percent less corpse,” Buffy said lightly. Spike’s answering smile was strained. With careful off-handedness, Buffy said, “And?”
He stared off towards the water jugs stacked against the far wall. “Always figured with this shanshu business, the lucky vamp’d get turned back into a man.”
“Pretty sure you did,” Buffy said, feeling her perpetual grimace thaw into a smile. She slid her hand up his thigh and was rewarded with a lascivious but half-hearted smirk. “Just tell me, Spike.”
“Right.” His thumbs slid over each other, under and over again. Fiddle, fiddle. He mumbled something, half-caught.
“You’re carrying a… what? A disease? A gun? Because those things are never—”
“A child.” Deep breath. “I’m carrying a child.”
She looked at him blankly. “Huh?” If she stared long enough, maybe the words he’d said would rearrange themselves into something that made sense. Some meaning would coelesce in the nuance of his expression.
It didn’t. There was only him, staring at his knuckles. “You heard me,” he said.
“You’re pregnant,” she said flatly, daring him to confirm.
He looked up at her finally, his expression rueful. “Yeah.”
The world had ended, civilizationally speaking; Spike was human now; Dawn turned green when she got excited. Buffy had no more surprise left in her for this new development. “How did that happen?”
“Something to do with the shanshu, Willow says. Some leftover scrap of vivifying energy, looking for a home.” He eyed her almost shyly. “You remember that first time again, when we…” He trailed off.
“Yeah.” Actual love-making, which they’d never, ever done, that somehow escalated into the hottest sex she had ever had, and that was saying something. “So it was mystical,” she said. “The sex.”
And then afterwards Spike staring at her, wide-eyed and breath heaving, and asking if that’s always how it was for humans, which was how she found out that he’d never actually had sex as a human the first time around.
Focus, Buffy. “I guess that explains a lot.”
“And… Willow’s herbs and thingies for keeping us baby-free?”
She saw the barest hint of a smirk. “Apparently worked better on you than on me.”
Her gaze dropped, and she found herself staring at Spike’s stomach – which was, if anything, alarmingly hollowed, what with the sucky diet and his confused digestion… Oh. “The puking.”
“Probably. Although with some of the junk we’ve been eating…”
“Right.” She swallowed. Okay. ‘Honey, I’m pregnant.’ There were things you had to do about this, right? Questions you had to ask. “When… when would you… be due? I mean, if…”
“February sometime. Six months.”
“But you don’t have to. I mean, is it a spell? Can you… stop it?”
“Willow thinks she can. If we do it… soon. Says it’s all bound up somehow, like a knot, but if she cuts it…” He mimed scissor blades with his fingers.
“And then you’ll be better?”
His tongue flicked across his lips. “I’d still be human.”
“But less with the feeling icky.”
His expression turned wry. “Might not be so bad after all, being human. Seeing as how almost all the time I’ve been human—”
“You’ve been pregnant,” she finished.
“So,” she said, and paused. She tried again. “So Willow’s coming back to…” She gestured helplessly towards him. “To fix it?”
His sidelong glance was full of things that made no sense: hope and terror and resolve. “Told her I wanted to talk to you first.”
It came to her then. All the pauses and hesitations, just static before, came clear. “You want to keep it.”
Instantly his gaze broke from hers, his mouth working.
“That’s. No. Can you even do that?”
“Willow thinks so.”
“Willow,” Buffy said, “is the most dangerous optimist I know.”
“She says she can see the magic of it. Says I’ll likely tire out faster than a woman would – the magic’s feeding on that new shiny life-force of mine to help with the maintenance. She thinks she can funnel me a boost now and then.”
“But you don’t have to. You just said. You can fix it.” She mimed his snip-snip gesture.
“I’m not your strongest fighter anymore,” he said gently. “Not hardly. You won’t be hurting too bad if I’m out of commission a few months.”
“You can’t have a baby, Spike!”
“Darla did it, apparently – and she was a vampire at the time. Dawn’s eyes have turned colors and she’s shooting green sparks out her fingertips. I’m human, and meanwhile Willow—”
“I’m not talking about Willow,” she said flatly, in the tone he obeyed in all but his most desperate moods.
“I’m just saying, in this Technicolor world of ours what’s to stop me from carrying a baby?”
“I’m saying, why would you want to bring a baby into ‘this Technicolor world of ours’? We’re barely hanging on.” She stood, and even as she paced she could feel Spike’s eyes on her. “Do you even realize all the supplies you need for a baby? And, and vaccines?”
“We can’t afford it, you mean,” he said, goading, undaunted. “One more mouth to feed might break the budget?”
“We couldn’t take care of it,” she said, anger gone and leaving her suddenly bereft. She sank on the bed next to him. “God, Spike, you’re the one who deals with this stuff. Supplies. Getting us what we need.”
“And I’m saying we could manage. Making connections, figuring out who’s selling what. Humanity’s not the only species with a mania for little froggy sleepers.”
“I guess you’ve got it all worked out,” she said. Bitter. God, why was she such a harpy? Spike’d just discovered yet another miracle slapped into him, unlooked-for, and all she could feel was this cold resignation, this familiar weary suspense of adding still more logistics to the calculation of their existence.
“I can’t do this right now,” Buffy said, and pushed up and away from the bed. She didn’t look at him because she had an idea she’d see his heart in his eyes. “Look, I have to go over to the Los Loros house and see if they killed the Kazhal demon. Okay?” She was halfway across the room when he started to stand, and she added over her shoulder, “But you probably shouldn’t, right? With the…” She twirled her fingers near her belly-button, although she knew he couldn’t see. “With the being pregnant.”
“Right,” she heard him say, resigned, as she fled.
They didn’t talk about it.
Buffy and Estefany took out a particularly large Granth demon that had been oozing like a very slow, acidic tsunami towards the house.
Spike joined the house crew of Slayers to negotiate a truce with some spiny demons whose names Buffy couldn’t pronounce.
Buffy and a full Slayer squad braved the streets to the local clinic for med supplies and barely survived a vicious multi-species demon stampede. Those happened less often now, but not because of her Slayers’ efforts; some of the ferals died at the hand/tusk/whatever of those less anarchically inclined, but she was pretty sure most were just dispersing to lay waste elsewhere.
She tried not to think about that. Or about Spike. Or – bloody hell, she thought, because nowadays in her head she swore like him – about the baby.
“It’s ours, Buffy,” Spike pleaded. He’d waited up for her, though she could see he was sagging. At least they knew what all the sleeping was about now. “It’s half you. A little mini-Buffy, maybe.”
“We can make a mini-Buffy later. And, like, the normal way. Because I don’t care how much magic there is in this thing, you being pregnant cannot be healthy.”
“But this one’s already started,” he said. “Seems a shame to waste it.” Dropping his eyes, he said, “I’ve ended so many lives. I can’t end this one.”
Voice shaking with something – fear? – Buffy said, “It’s not the same.”
Head still bowed, he answered, “I know.”
He didn’t come with the girls on patrol anymore. The first outing after their big finding-out, he watched her strap on her knives and her crossbow; as the posse left, he nodded to her, his expression quiet but certain. And when she limped back up the sidewalk hours later, trailing her bone-weary crew behind, he met her at the bottom of the steps and wrapped her whole icky self in his arms.
He didn’t explain the change, and she didn’t ask. She knew.
“Isn’t it weird?” she demanded.
He didn’t ask what she meant. “Well, yeah.”
“How can you be okay with this? First you hated even being human and now you want to be pregnant?”
He scowled. “Not especially.”
Softly, “I want what comes after.”
She caught him eyeing her sometimes when he thought she wasn’t looking, searching her for sign of something she was pretty sure she didn’t have. He’d open his mouth and shut it again, open and shut, never quite managing to get the words out, whatever they were.
She missed him.
She woke one early morning to find him gone. He’d already been asleep when she and the team finished strategizing; made sense he’d wake up first. She tiptoed up the basement stairs, through the first floor, up to the second. No sight or sound of an early-rising ex-vampire. Finally she rolled her eyes and crawled out the second story gable window. As she stretched around the frame, a hand gripped her arm and pulled her up.
She crawled the rest of the way onto the roof and settled next to Spike. In the twilit dawn his face was gray, how she remembered it sometimes when he’d still been a vampire and hadn’t fed.
“Never thought I cared about the sun,” he said, conversational. “A good lark, sure, but everything that really happens, happens after dark. So I thought.”
She nestled against his shoulder. “And now?”
“Something to be said for it,” he said. “Big fiery orb lighting everything at once. Extravagant, you know. All that heat vented off into a vast nothingness that’s got no use for it.”
“But some of it comes here.” They hadn’t talked like this in weeks. They hadn’t talked at all.
She waited, but apparently that was all the conversation Spike had; she certainly had no small talk prepped this early in the morning. She wrapped a hand around his arm, ruffling the hairs and warming her fingers on the living heat beneath.
“There it is,” he said.
She opened her eyes, fallen shut, and looked off into the ever-thinning haze. The barest glint of orange shone over the hills. Buffy felt Spike suck in a breath. They waited.
When the sun was full and floating, throwing sharp shadows down the lines of Spike’s cheekbones, Buffy inhaled a slow, deep breath, and then she said, “So you want to have a baby.”
Spike stilled, glancing at her with the mirror-smooth calm he’d perfected that last year in Sunnydale. Who knew souls were such camouflage? Eventually, he said, “I can’t just end it.”
“I don’t want to,” he added, more softly still.
“It’s ours,” he said, earnestness pressed deep into the words.
Abruptly she scooted far enough away to face him. “We’ll have to talk to the others. Explain why you get more food and no fighting.”
“I can pull my weight.” he said, and then rolled his eyes. “No pun intended. But scavenging, playing at public relations – it’s what I’m best for now anyway.”
“Best for…” Shaking her head, she crawled around behind him and crossed her legs. Then she wrapped a hand around each shoulder and tugged at him until he, skeptical but compliant, shrugged down onto his back and laid his head in her lap. She buried her fingers in his curls – going brown again, as they’d stay until the next time he remembered to look in a mirror – and he shivered with the same old anticipation. Yet another thing undeath apparently had nothing to do with. “This isn’t about ‘best for,’” she said, words weighted with anger: the only passion she could muster easily anymore. “This isn’t about logistics.”
He turned an eye up to her. “Sure it’s not Giles you’re talking to, love?”
“Shut up,” she said, kneading his scalp. His eyelids drooped shut, as she’d known they would. “This is not about logistics or survival or ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ or any of Giles’s other stupid ethics exercises.”
“Isn’t it?” he murmured.
“No. I am… I am so over those decisions, Spike. Look at us. World ended! Can’t get much worse!”
“Oh, but it can,” he said, staring up at her upside-down from those winter-blue eyes, full and earnest with all those things she’d never quite been able to accept aloud. She felt the thaw again and tried to resist, because numbness was preferable to the post-frostbite agony. Spike reached up to slip a strand of her hair between his fingers and smiled his private, know-it-all smile, and suddenly she was fighting back tears.
“Shh,” he whispered, thumbing dampness away from her cheek.
“I had a point,” she said, taking a deep breath against the sniffles. “The world is kind of beyond saving. Dark versus light – pretty much over.”
“Redistribution of weight, that’s all,” he said. “Whigs and Tories, and a new panic every time the balance shifts.”
“It’s just us, Spike,” she said. “You and me and the crew and any humans we stumble across and whatever nice demons we try to give a hand against the not-nice demons – we’re it. We’re the world.” She cupped her hand against his prickly cheek. “So saving the world pretty much means saving us. And whatever keeps us going…”
“A point in the world’s favor.”
“So.” She made herself look down into his eyes. “Is this something you need to keep you going?”
“Me and the human race both, don’t you think?” he said, eyes briefly merry. She waited, and his gaze flitted away to roam the sky awhile before meeting hers again. “Yeah,” he said finally. “I think it might be.”
He pushed himself up and twisted around to search her face for… doubt? Fear? She didn’t have the energy to pretend whatever he wanted to see or hide what he didn’t. What he saw must have been enough, because he smiled, small and careful, like too much visible joy might jinx something. “Yeah?”
This was it: the axis around which the whole future spun. “Yeah,” she said firmly. “Let’s do this.”
He reached for her hand, and his grip was like certainty. Enough of it for both of them, maybe. She held on and hoped.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/444402.html