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Monster Mash

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Dawn was drinking directly from the milk carton when she heard a knock at the back door that opened into her sister’s kitchen.  She shoved the carton back in the fridge and turned with a suspicious frown.  It was weird for a visitor to use that door rather than the main entrance around front.  Maybe the Jehovah’s Witnesses were getting sneakier these days?  Although, she was surprised they were brave enough to come back after Dean (who most definitely had a buzz that day) invited them in and then summoned his angel friend, Cas, to talk religion with them.  That had been hysterical in a really awkward and incredibly uncomfortable sort of way.

She tiptoed quietly to the door and peeked through the gap in the side of the curtain.  No way was she getting stuck listening to a sermon today, and if they knew she was here, they’d never go away. They could just leave their little pamphlets and move on as far as she was concerned.  But what she saw was most definitely not a Jehovah’s Witness.  Not unless she’d been zapped into an exceptionally bizarre alternate reality.

Dawn reached into a nearby drawer and grabbed up a wooden cross and a stake -- easy access to weapons was one of the few actual advantages to living with a slayer and a hunter.  Now properly armed, she opened the door cautiously.

“Hi Dawn,” said the familiar figure of Angel, who was wearing his coat pulled up over his head and looking decidedly anxious.  “Can you hurry up and invite me in before I burst into flames?”

“Prove you’re not evil first,” she said flatly as she held the cross out in front of her.  “Touch the cross.”

Angel groaned impatiently.  “Dawn, I’m a vampire.  I can’t touch the cross even when I’m not evil.  That test doesn’t make sense. Why do you think I’m evil, anyway?  I’m tired of everybody always assuming I’m evil,” he added in a somewhat sulky tone.

“Fine,” Dawn said as she swung the door open wider.  “I’ve never heard evil-Angel whine, so either you’re okay or this is a diabolical new plot.  But, fair warning, I’m only living here for the summer, so I don’t know if I can technically invite you in.”

“Duly noted,” Angel snapped (he was beginning to smoke). “Can you just give it a shot, please?”

“Come in, Angel,” Dawn said, although she kept the cross out in front of her just in case.

The vampire practically knocked her over in his hurry to get inside and away from the deadly rays of the late afternoon sun.  He leaned against the countertop and paused to take some very unnecessary breaths of relief.

“Can I ask why you’re running around in daylight? Cuz, vampires and the sun… not a good combo.  And why do you have a coat on, anyway?  It’s like, almost July.”

Angel shrugged self-consciously.  “Because I like the coat… and I don’t really get hot or cold.” He shook his head. “Dawn, that’s really not the point.  I’m here because –”

“Why are you here?” Dawn interrupted suspiciously.  “Is a big evil afoot? The world ending again? OH! And how do you know where Buffy lives?”

“She’s not exactly in hiding and I’m trying to tell you, if you’d stop asking questions and just listen to me for a minute.”

Dawn chewed her lower lip nervously. This had the makings of a serious mess.  Her sister was about to pop out a baby at any time. No extra drama was required, particularly if that drama was of the apocalyptic flavor.

“Have you talked to her?  Recently, I mean.  Like I dunno… Maybe within the past nine months?”

Dawn almost laughed when she noticed how uncomfortable Angel looked at that question.  He shoved his hands in his coat pockets and actually hung his head in shame.

“No… it’s been a while.  Things have been busy and… Is she mad at me?” he asked, shifting on his feet a little.  “I didn’t mean to stay out of touch for so long, it’s just… it’s always kind of awkward when we talk and I-I want to let her live her own life.  She thinks I’m a jerk, doesn’t she?”

Dawn sighed and lowered the cross.  Insecure vampires – there was nothing quite like ‘em. She’d just opened her mouth to explain the situation further when she heard the front door open. 

“Who is it?” she called out extra cheerfully.

“It’s the pizza man,” Dean answered back, sounding highly amused with himself.  Obviously it was one of his private jokes or another outdated pop culture reference.  Dawn was never sure, so she mostly ignored about half of what he said.

“Oh crap,” she whispered.  “This isn’t good! You’re not a vampire,” she said as she jabbed a finger at Angel.

“I’m not?”

“Shhh, NO!  You’re not a vampire and your name’s…”  She flailed her hands, trying desperately to think of a good alias.  “Bob,” she finally whispered. “It’s Bob.  Consider yourself Bob.”

Angel gazed back at her like she’d lost her mind. “Bob?” he repeated back.

“Hush,” Dawn hissed.  “It’s a good, normal name.  Deal with it.”

“Dean,” she greeted a little too loudly when her brother-in-law came strolling into the kitchen.  “What are you doing here? I thought you guys were going out to eat?” 

She hid the cross and stake behind her back as she watched him anxiously. He looked at her and then over at Angel and back at her again, before smirking and raising an eyebrow. So far he didn’t seem suspicious. In fact, she knew exactly what he was thinking and hopefully he’d keep right on thinking it.

Dean snagged a cellphone from the countertop and held it up triumphantly.  “Your sister thought she lost her phone again.”

“Why couldn’t she come in here and get it herself?” Dawn asked without thinking.  The idea of Dean and Angel in the same room was very disconcerting… and weird… and all sorts of other badness.

“Because…” Dean drawled out.  Now he was starting to look a little suspicious. “I’m hungry and it takes her at least five years to waddle up the sidewalk.  I’d like to make it somewhere before I starve.”

Angel shot her a confused glance, but Dawn ignored him.  One crisis at a time.  She crossed her arms in front of her and tried to throw Dean off by changing the subject.

“You need to watch yourself, Dean. Because, she’s so gonna kick your ass for saying stuff like that.  She still can, ya know.”

Dean grinned mischievously.  “Yeah, but she has to catch me first,” he quipped before turning his full attention back on Angel.

This caused Dawn to squirm nervously.  Those two were paying way too much attention to one another.  She’d prefer it if Dean, especially, didn’t look too closely at his new houseguest.

“So Dawnie,” he said in a deceptively casual voice as he continued to stare intently at Angel.  “Who’s the dude?  Didn’t know you had a new boyfriend.”

“Oh, uh… he’s not my boyfriend,” she said quickly.  “He’s just a friend… a really old, old friend.  This is Bob.  Dean, Bob, Bob, Dean,” she rambled as she pointed frantically back and forth between the two.  “Well Dean, guess you better get going,” she announced as she put her hand in the middle of his back and pushed him toward the exit to the kitchen.  “You know how Buffy gets these days when she’s hungry.”

Dawn wanted to smack herself when Dean turned around and zeroed right in on Angel. It was like the man had radar. He was almost as bad as Buffy. She could practically hear the bells of alarm going off in his head.  Dammit! She’d totally spazzed and made him suspicious.  It wasn’t her fault.  She wasn’t exactly prepared for this. Dean was just way too paranoid for a normal person to deal with.  

She held her breath as she watched him walk toward Angel, give him a huge fake grin, and hold out a hand. 

“Nice to meet you, Bob.  I’m Dean.”

To his credit, Angel tried to keep up the charade and offered his hand for Dean to shake.  But the minute their hands touched, Dawn knew it was all over.  Dean kept his eyes and that fake grin focused on Angel’s face, but she noticed him shifting his palm so that he could use his fingers to test the other man’s pulse point (the one where he’d find his non-existent pulse).  The next thing she knew, her sister’s husband had a gun drawn on her sister’s ex-boyfriend.

“Get behind me, Dawn,” Dean growled as he reached out, grabbed her by the arm, and roughly jerked her backwards.

“Hey,” Angel snapped as he stepped forward menacingly.  “I think you need to mind your manners, boy,” he warned.

“Well, I think the evil undead needs to shut their freakin’ pie hole! You don’t break into my place, try to eat my sister-in-law, and then lecture me on my manners.  Seriously? You guys are the ones busting into people’s houses and stealing TVs and crap?  Monsters are in the burglary game now? The hell?”

Angel turned wide eyes on Dawn.  “Is this guy—?”

Dawn buried her face in her hands.  This entire situation was made of so much fail.

“Dean,” she interrupted, trying very hard to sound patient and calm.  “He didn’t break in, I invited him.  Put the gun down.  Why do you always think you have to pull a gun on everybody and everything? You have aggression issues, you know.”

Dean didn’t lower the pistol, but he did turn his head to give her his best ‘what the fuck?’ expression.

“Invited? You mean ‘invited’ as in dude needed an invitation, because he’s one of those lame-ass fake vampires?  You actually invited a fake vampire into my home?  Are you friggin kidding me?!”

Dawn threw up her hands.  Obviously, the ‘Bob’ cover story hadn’t worked, so she decided to go with the actual truth for plan B.  It was too bad that Angel decided it would be a better idea to try and make a move on Dean while he seemed to be focused on her.  She guessed he thought he could disarm Dean before he could pull the trigger.  He thought wrong and the consequences looked very painful.

XXXXXXXXXX

Buffy was so frustrated with her stupid, traitorous body.  After a brief period of morning sickness early on, she’d had a very easy pregnancy.  She’d felt wonderful in fact.  But these past few weeks had been miserable.  She couldn’t get comfortable, so she wasn’t getting enough sleep, which made her extra cranky.  Plus, she literally felt like she always had to pee.  And worst of all, she couldn’t move much faster than the slowest snail, mainly because her balance was completely nonexistent.  She was supposed to be this mystical chosen girl and now she needed Dean’s help just to get up off the couch.  It was so annoying and at the moment it downright sucked, because something horrible may have just happened to her sister and the best she could manage was a brisk waddle.

Recently, there had been several break-ins over on the next block and the thieves had proven that they were capable of violence.  One homeowner had been unfortunate enough to come home at the wrong time and had ended up with a pretty serious concussion.  So, when Buffy heard Dean’s gun go off, her mind jumped to the worst case scenario.  Dawn had been at a friend’s house earlier, but what if she’d come home and walked in on a burglary?  What if Dean had been too late and her sister had already been seriously hurt or worse?  It would certainly explain why he’d felt the need to take a shot.

Faith and Sam had been waiting in the car with her, but they’d abandoned her the second they heard gunfire.  Well, to be fair, Sam had paused long enough to tell her to stay put.  Like that was going to happen.

She nearly ripped the front door off the hinges in her hurry to get inside, but stood motionless in the doorway when she heard a familiar, very unexpected, and downright irritated voice coming from the kitchen.

“I’m not evil, Faith! Why does everybody keep accusing me of being evil? Let go of me!  I don’t know what that crazy guy shot me with, but it burns!”

Then came the equally irritated voice of Dean.

“It’s called a consecrated iron bullet, dickhead.  Soaked it in holy water myself. Feels good, don’t it? .... Goddammit, Sammy, get your freaky long arms off me!  That bastard tried to jump me, and he was about to have Dawn for dinner, and I’m pretty sure he was gonna steal my TV too.  I’m gonna kill his ass!  Dude, just take a look at his lumpy face! He’s one of those butt-ugly fake vampires.  Whose side are you on here?”

And then Angel once again.

“What is your problem? I wasn’t trying to eat anybody and I could care less about your stupid TV set.  And what is with all the fake vampire stuff? Just please tell me Buffy isn’t mixed up with you.”

Buffy groaned and stuck out her lower lip in a pout.  Why didn’t she just listen to Sam and stay in the car?

Chapter Text

 

~ Chapter 2 ~

All the yelling, arguing, and threatening stopped the moment Buffy stepped into the kitchen. You could have heard a pin drop. She decided she was a girl who knew how to make an entrance… or her belly did, anyway.

The scene was beyond surreal. Sam had Dean's arms pinned behind his back and Angel was held in a similar position by Faith. Angel was also bleeding from a bullet wound to his chest. His demonic visage had melted away the moment she appeared and was replaced by a look of shock that was absolutely priceless. Dawn stood to the side, watching all the drama with her hands on her hips and a look of almost gleeful anticipation on her face.

All eyes were on Buffy and she wasn't quite sure where to start. 'Welcome to my home. Sorry my husband shot you.' just didn't sound right. She opened her mouth a few times, but no sound came out. Then her extra-sensitive eardrums almost burst from the sound of Sam's high-pitched screech of pain, caused by Dean slamming his boot heel down on one of his brother's feet.

"Dammit Dean! You big jerk!" Sam yelled as he let go of his brother and hopped awkwardly on one foot while gripping the other in both hands. "I think you broke my toes."

"Sorry Sammy," Dean muttered over his shoulder as he made a beeline for her and placed a protective arm around her shoulders.

"Buffy, you need to get out of here," he said, using the authoritative tone he saved for whenever he was impersonating a police officer or an FBI Agent… or more frequently these days when he decided poor, helpless, pregnant Buffy was doing something she shouldn't be.

"Dean," she said patiently, "this is—"

Her explanation was cut off by the sound of an animal-like growl. Angel had slipped back into game-face and easily threw a distracted Faith off of him. He advanced on Dean with the promise of a painful death glittering in his yellow eyes. Unsurprisingly, Dean stepped forward so that his weaponless body would be between Buffy and the Big Bad. It was cute. Stupid, suicidal, and very unnecessary, but still cute.

"Angel, stop it!" she ordered as she pushed Dean aside. "Touch him and I promise you'll suffer from an extremely terminal case of dustiness."

The vampire stopped in his tracks. "But, he shot me," Angel mumbled, sounding rather childish and sulky.

Buffy just pursed her lips and shook her head. She kept her focus on him, just in case he decided to risk death again, but she could feel Dean's eyes on her, and didn't need to see his face to know he was completely blown away by the revelation of their visitor's true identity.

"Oh, you're friggin' kidding me!" he said after a beat. "That's the son of a bitch who Twilighted you? Him? Seriously? I expected the guy to sparkle or shoot rainbows out of his ass. Dude's nowhere near as good looking as I am."

Buffy's lips twitched into a smile after she chanced a look at Dean. She couldn't help it. He looked so pleased with himself and his newfound belief that his rival was nowhere near as handsome as he was. Angel, who looked human once again, didn't seem to find Dean's tirade very amusing though. He looked confused and definitely bristled a little at the 'Twilight' reference.

"Angel," she said, trying very hard to sound serious. "This is my husband, Dean Winchester. I think you've already met… when he shot you." She said the last rather sourly and while directing a pointed glance in Dean's direction. "We were on our way to dinner at the terrifying place known as Applebee's, Dean. Why were you armed? Wait a minute," she corrected herself. "Why do I even bother to ask that question anymore?"

"That freak tried to eat Dawn," he replied defensively.

"No, he didn't," Dawn piped up helpfully. Her grin was so wide, it looked like her face might actually split open. She was enjoying this way too much. Buffy wanted to smack her.

"You're married?" Angel asked her. He seemed to have finally found his voice, although his eyes weren't on her face, they were glued to her pregnant belly. It was hard to miss.

"Yes Angel, I'm married," she confirmed with a nod, "to a hunter with an itchy trigger finger. Maybe—"

"He tried to jump me," Dean defended. "Come on! You can't be -"

Buffy continued, talking right over Dean. "Maybe it would be best if you called ahead. Pop-ins are kinda dangerous around here… just sayin'."

XXXXXXXXXX

The original Scoobies and the Winchesters had gathered in the Council's break room for a debriefing on Angel's unexpected visit. For quite possibly the first time in her life, Buffy was thankful for Xander's blanket animosity toward all things vampire, especially when those vampires were named Angel or Spike. Oddly, his influence seemed to be having a calming effect on Dean. She knew this was hard for him and the fact that most everyone was welcoming to Angel wasn't helping. Everyone except for Sam, but that was to be expected. Still, Sam seemed to regard the vampire with guarded skepticism rather than flat out hostility. Dean needed a fellow, utterly biased hater and he'd found one in Xander.

"Xander," Giles snapped impatiently. "If you've nothing better to add, I would appreciate your leaving the grown-ups to the business of saving the world."

"Sorry," Xander gasped out through his laughter. He held up his palm. "I'm done," he promised, although the fact that he was still giggling made a liar out of him. "It's just... I can't quit picturing it." He slapped Dean on the back and struggled to speak while still laughing. "Dude, you're my hero. I owe you a beer. No, make that a keg. I love you, man."

Xander's declaration was said with so much sincerity that Buffy had to suppress a giggle. Plus, Dean looked so proud of himself. She really shouldn't encourage this behavior, but a cocky and swaggering Dean was much better than a pouty and brooding Dean.

"Yes Xander," Giles said tiredly. "We've established that Dean shot Angel and that you believe it to be the single greatest achievement in the history of all mankind. The pyramids and the development of language are mere child's play in comparison. I'm sure it will make a beautiful new edition to your Watcher's Journal, as this event simply must be recorded for posterity's sake."

"Definitely. Consider it done," Xander agreed happily, deliberately ignoring Giles' heavy sarcasm.

Giles removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Yes, very good, then. Shall we move along to the far less entertaining matter of Drusilla's latest plot to destroy humanity? Angel," he said, clearly turning the floor over to him.

"Uh, yeah," Angel agreed.

He stood up, hands in his coat pockets, looking distinctively uncomfortable and not at all amused, but Buffy was impressed by his restraint. Well, the restraint he'd shown ever since she'd threatened him with an extreme case of dustiness. But still, points for effort.

"I already told Buffy and Faith… and those guys," he added with a vague hand wave in the Winchester's direction. "I'm afraid I don't really have a lot of details. Dru's not exactly… She's not exactly big on clarity or sanity, obviously. All I can tell you is that she came by my office in L.A. She was nostalgic for the 'good old days'. Said she was headed for the Hellmouth and she wanted me and Spike to join her. But I think that was mostly a cover, because she…" Angel paused, looking a little uncertain. "She stole something from my collection," he added reluctantly. Obviously, he was more than a little embarrassed by this.

"What a shocker," Dean said gruffly. "The walking dead's been holding out on us. When were you gonna share this little nugget?"

Angel narrowed his eyes at Dean. "I was getting there," he replied through gritted teeth. "I was kind of distracted by the whole 'digging a bullet out of my chest' affair."

Buffy reached a hand under the table and squeezed Dean's knee gently in the hopes of heading off another showdown before it began. Xander, however, decided to put his two cents in.

"Maybe this is just crazy talk," he said, sounding completely serious for the first time that day. "But I gotta ask… Wouldn't it have been a lot simpler if you'd just staked the Queen of the Damned? I'm sure it sounds wacky, and I'm probably way off the rails here… But, she's evil AND she's certifiably insane. How is that not a recipe for some stakeage? Because I've gotta tell you, Angel. This isn't exactly a good time. I have a son who's barely four months old, and in case you haven't noticed, Buff here is about to pop any second now. I'm voting a big 'no' on the world ending right now."

Buffy could feel the muscles in Dean's thigh tensing underneath her hand. Maybe she was wrong about Xander's calming influence? It wasn't that she didn't agree with the sentiment. Drusilla should have been dust long ago, but that debate wasn't going to help with the current situation.

"Can we just deal with the crisis at hand?" she asked firmly, before the testosterone level had a chance to boil over. "What did she steal? And what can she do with it?" she asked Angel.

"An amulet… and I'm not really sure what it does, but I'm guessing nothing good. It's been in my collection for a long time… I just thought it was cool looking," he added sheepishly. "I have a picture of it," he said as he fished out a folded piece of paper and handed it over to Giles. "I was hoping you could use it to find out what it is and what it does. In the meantime, Spike's been following her. He knows how her mind works better than anybody. If he finds out anything, he'll let us know."

"Okay then," Willow chirped cheerfully. She was clearly deep in 'peace-keeping mode'. "We'll just put on our research caps and figure out what the game plan is. No biggie. In fact, Buffy, don't take this the wrong way… but maybe you should just let Dean take you home. You are due to have a baby… like, yesterday. The rest of us can handle crazy ole Drusilla," she added with a dismissive wave of her hand. "It's not like she's a big, bad archangel or anything."

"Well…" Angel added. He glanced at Buffy and then down at the floor.

"What?" she whined. Clearly he wasn't done sharing and Buffy had a sinking feeling she wasn't going to enjoy the rest of what he had to share.

"It's just that… she said something else. I didn't think a lot of it at the time, but now it seems more, uh… significant." Angel paused to take an unnecessary breath. "Dru said the stars were aligned and now she just needed the blood of the 'whelping bitch'. We thought she was talking about a pregnant dog," he shrugged. "But now…"

Buffy treated Angel to her best slack-jawed stare while her husband exploded beside her.

"Oh, hell no! That's bullshit! Buffy," he said as he stood up abruptly. "We need to talk."

Buffy allowed herself to be dragged outside into the hallway. She was kind of stunned. Things had been fairly quiet by Hellmouth standards ever since they'd defeated Raphael. Leave it to the Powers to spring another apocalypse on her the day – well, technically the day after - she was due to give birth. She'd never been the luckiest girl on earth, but come on.

"We're out of here," Dean announced. "We'll head toward Bobby's. Hell, we'll head towards any-freaking-where. But we're not staying here on the Hellmouth, waiting for some crazed, bloodsucking bitch to try and cut you open. Willow's right. We don't need to be involved in this one. Let them handle it."

Buffy gave him a sad half-smile. He was serious. He was going to stand aside and let somebody else handle the fight. It made her want to cry. It was probably her hormones, because she already knew that Dean would do anything to protect his family, but she couldn't help being touched. She took both of his hands in hers.

"Dean you know we can't do that. I can't handle a road trip right now. I could go into labor at any second, and I really don't want to give birth on the side of some back road in the middle of nowhere-ville. Drusilla is completely insane. Most of what she says veers way into the land of no sense. We can't be sure she's talking about me…" Buffy trailed off at Dean's skeptical expression. Of course, Dru was talking about her. That was just how their lives operated. She decided to try another, more reasonable argument.

"This building is pretty much the safest place on earth, ya know. If Eve couldn't break in here, I guarantee you Drusilla can't. Besides, if worse comes to worse, at least we've got a nurse on staff. Or, you could always kidnap my obstetrician at gunpoint," she added helpfully.

Dean looked like he was seriously considering her last suggestion, making Buffy suddenly wish she hadn't mentioned it. Oh well, Dr. Shaw was a really nice man. Maybe they could convince him not to prosecute?

"I kinda like to have my stuff though," she said with a hopeful smile. "You know, the emergency bag I packed for when the big time came? And maybe you could get me some take-out, too? I'm really not in the mood for school cafeteria food."

Dean's eyes cut to the door behind them and she immediately knew what he was thinking.

"You're jealous," she teased. "You're afraid to leave me here with my old high school boyfriend."

"I'm not jealous," he denied, a little too stringently. "I just don't trust the guy."

"Uh huh. Well, I don't think you have to worry, honey. Look at me. I've seen smaller beached whales."

Dean grinned and pulled her back against his chest, wrapping his arms around the ever shrinking space between her breasts and belly.

"I dunno," he said as he cupped her breasts in his hands. "You look damn hot to me. I mean, look at these things. They're huge! It's friggin awesome. You think they'll stay this way?"

Buffy answered him with a sharp elbow to the ribs.

XXXXXXXXXX

She was alone with Angel. It was inevitable. He'd been trying to drag her aside since the moment he'd spotted her, but Dean wasn't having it and she was honestly fine with that. She really didn't have anything to say that couldn't be said in front of everyone, and pleasing Angel seemed way less important than keeping the peace in her own home. But now that Dean had stepped out for a bit, she decided it was pointless to delay the inevitable. Angel wasn't going to give up until he'd had a chance to speak with her alone. So, they went up to her office.

It was weird, really. This was the first time she'd laid eyes on Angel that she hadn't felt a stabbing pain of loss. She was kind of glad to see him, in a vague, nostalgic kind of way. He was her first love, they had been through a lot together, and he would always hold a special place in her heart. But seeing him no longer made her feel like she was being ripped in half. She hadn't thought about it before, but she realized that she had finally, truly moved on. She wished her mom was here to see it. Buffy could give her the hundred bucks she swore she'd never get. That was what her mother had bet her during her senior year in high school. Angel had just dumped her and she could do nothing but lie on her bed, moping and listening to angst-ridden breakup songs. Mom had promised her that one day it wouldn't hurt anymore and that she'd find somebody else, somebody she loved just as much. Teenaged Buffy had laughed harshly at that. Mom obviously had no clue.

"Buffy, are you okay?" Angel asked her.

She looked up and met her ex's serious, brooding gaze. "Sorry," she said as she blinked back a few tears and gave him an embarrassed smile. "I was just thinking about Mom. Consider me your stereotypical, hormonal pregnant lady… because, sadly, it's true in my case. I really need to get this baby out of me."

"Is that it?" he asked hesitantly. "I mean, is something else wrong? You can tell me, Buffy. I know it's been a while, but I'll always care about you. I've got your back if you ever need me."

"You mean, has my big, scary husband been abusing me?" she asked with a knowing smirk. "The answer is a big NO. Trust me, all is well in Buffyland. Besides, still not helpless..."

"So, you're really happy with that guy? I just never pictured you with a hunter. Honestly, I was hoping you'd find someone more normal."

"Normal?" she snorted. "Angel, this is normal for me. I was never going to settle down with some tax accountant. You know that."

"I guess," he agreed and then hesitated a long moment before speaking again. "Buffy, I-I know this probably isn't the best time to bring this up… but the name 'Winchester' rang some bells for me. I couldn't remember where I'd heard it, so I called Gunn and he reminded me."

"Of what?"

"You're not going to like it," he warned. "I debated about telling you, but I decided I'd never forgive myself if something happened to you or Faith, and I didn't at least try to help."

"Huh?"

Angel was fully, intensely serious as he spoke. "Buffy, the Winchesters were pretty infamous at Wolfram and Hart. Supposedly they had an entire file cabinet devoted to them down in contracts." He paused again. "Buffy, your husband sold his soul and –"

She held up a hand. "Okay Angel, I'm gonna stop you right there. I already know about all of that. I appreciate that you're trying to help, but trust me, I'm good. You don't need to be concerned."

"Buffy, he did some horrible things when he was in hell. I'm not judging, but I don't see—"

Buffy's mild amusement with Angel's protective streak quickly switched to anger. "You're damn right you're not judging!" she snapped. "What gives you the right? Dean is a good man, Angel. You don't know anything about him. I'm not discussing this with you."

She started to get up and stomp out, but her dramatic exit was somewhat dampened by her struggle to get out of the stupid chair.

"Buffy stop," he said. "I'm sorry. I just can't help but be concerned… and I know you don't want to hear this, but I have to say one more thing."

She raised a brow and looked at him expectedly, silently daring him to say one more thing about Dean.

"I'm not sure the big one is good for Faith," he said with a mournful sigh. "He's… well, he's the Antichrist."

Buffy lost it. The combination of Angel's earnest serious-face and her knowledge of Sam was just too much. She burst out laughing.

"Buffy, I'm serious. This isn't a joke! Faith's come a long way. She doesn't need-"

"To date the Antichrist?" Buffy managed to gasp out between giggles. Angel continued to frown at her, which made the whole thing more hysterical. She really needed to get a handle on her emotions. She was going to laugh herself right into labor.

XXXXXXXXXX

Dean was usually extremely aware of his surroundings, especially after sunset, but tonight he was a little distracted. He needed to get back to Buffy as soon as possible. In fact, he'd broken all speeding and traffic laws in his hurry to get her stuff and then go grab some take-out.

As he made his way through the restaurant's mostly empty and dimly lit parking lot, he noticed a woman standing up ahead. He guessed she was fairly attractive in an Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, kind of way. He mostly ignored her, although on any other night, his fake-vampire radar would have been flashing.

"Look at you," she said as she walked slowly toward him. "So much beautiful darkness," she remarked in a sing-song voice and a quite-obvious British accent. It wasn't a Giles' accent, however. This one was much thicker and less cultured. It reminded him of Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Sam refused to admit it now, but he'd loved that cheesy movie as a kid.

"Would you like to see my pretty new pram?" she whispered in a sultry voice. "Miss Edith would love a ride. She's a very bad girl. Tonight, she'll get no cake."

"Look lady," Dean said impatiently. "That sounds real kinky and all, but I'm taken. Try the corner of Elm and Lexington. I hear business is good out there."

He started to walk past her to the Impala, but she stopped him by grabbing onto one of his shoulders and then laid a hand against his cheek… a very cold hand. He looked into her too-pale face and immediately wanted to kick himself.

"Son of a bitch."

"Shhh… naughty," she scolded as she shook a finger in his face. "You'll frighten the faeries."

Dean immediately dropped the bag of take-out he was carrying and went for his gun. He really should have brought a stake.

"I hate the friggin faeries," he said as he trained the sights on the thing in front of him and started to pull the trigger.

It was too bad he'd been so distracted, or he'd have sensed the thing behind him. The thing that bashed him over the head with something big and extremely painful.

"Aww man," he groaned in frustration as he felt himself losing consciousness.

Chapter Text

~ Chapter 3 ~

The first thing Dean noticed was a pounding pain inside of his skull. His immediate thought was that he'd drank too much and was now paying the price. Then he realized that the pain was radiating down to his shoulders. But, unlike the pain in his head, which was a lot like the banging of thousands of tiny little hammers, his shoulders felt like they were close to being pulled out of their sockets.

He opened his eyes and the room around him slowly swam into focus. The place was damp and dark, aside from a tiny bit of light from some nearby candles that sat atop old fashioned, iron candelabras. There were odd pieces of medieval looking torture implements scattered about the room and there was also a baby stroller that looked like it was made somewhere around the turn of the last century, which was a definite 'what the hell?' type of moment.

By this point, he realized his hands were shackled above his head, which explained the strain in his shoulders. Thankfully, that had lessened considerably now that his legs were supporting his weight again. Still, his brain was pretty damn fuzzy when it came to just what the hell was going on here. He decided there were two plausible explanations for his current position.

Option #1: Buffy's unpredictable hormone levels had turned her into a hardcore dominatrix.

Option #2: Something nasty had given him yet another concussion and now he was just hanging here waiting for it to torture and probably eat him.

As much as he wished otherwise, option #2 was probably the most likely. Crap. Instead of spending time coming up with a cool-sounding safe word, now he had to figure out what had him and how he could get away from it.

Like most of his previous head injuries, he'd lost the memory of the actual head-conking part and most everything immediately before that. He knew he'd been by his place and it seemed like he remembered going into Applebee's, but that was about the extent of it. However, he clearly recalled the surprise visit by that freak of nature with the forehead. So, he was going to go way out on a limb and blame him for this one. He knew he didn't trust that dude.

Dean was in the process of testing the sturdiness of the shackles around his wrists when he heard some singing coming from another room. He couldn't quite make out the lyrics, but something about the voice stirred a memory. Then the singer came strolling into the room and he knew why. It was Elvira, Mistress of the Freaking Dark. Yep, his memory had been jogged.

"You're awake," she crooned happily.

"I'm conscious," Dean snapped. "There's a slight difference."

"Oooh," she pouted as she stepped up closer. "My new Angel is cross. His poor head is in agony. Those nasty Fyaryl demons, always taking things too far. They can only destroy," she whispered confidentially.

"Good to know."

Dean tried to flinch away when she placed a cold hand against his cheek, but he wasn't exactly in the position to be very mobile. She stroked his face and then ran her hand through his hair, causing him to groan when she reached the place where he'd been hit. Crazy bitch apparently found that to be hilarious, because she giggled like a maniac. When she drew her hand back, she showed Dean the blood that now stained her fingers before popping them into her mouth.

"It's like a decadent sweet," she rejoiced as she sucked on her fingers. "Just like Gran's plum pudding."

Dean stared at her in disgust for a second and then it hit him. She was clearly a few fries shy of a Happy Meal and she was a bloodsucker… this had to be that Drusilla chick Angel was talking about.

"Let me guess," he said. "Either you're that nutbag Drusilla or this year's crop of fake vamps is even more batshit than usual."

"She told you, didn't she?" Drusilla hissed. She strolled around the room, clearly agitated, pulling at her hair and smacking at the air around her. "Always messing about where she's not wanted. Taking all my lovely playthings. She's all around you, that awful slayer she is. I can see her. Like pixies fluttering about your head."

"Uh yeah… pixies… awesome. Lady, you realize you're way beyond buckets of crazy, don't you?"

"Shush!" she warned harshly. She was suddenly in his face. The bitch was fast, he'd give her that much.

"You will show your new mistress some respect!" she yelled, but then suddenly her angry mood inexplicably melted away. Don't worry," she purred softly. "I can teach you."

She ran her hands across Dean's chest, then with one loud rip, his t-shirt was gone and she was exploring his bare skin. He opened his mouth to complain about being molested, but was stopped when she used one of her creepy, long fingernails to cut a gash below his left collarbone.

Dean struggled against his bonds and tried to kick out at her. "Ouch! You bitch!"

"Shhh… no swearing. I'm teaching you how to be mine. Just like my daddy taught me. You have so much potential… so much lovely darkness inside of you, just crying to get out. Don't cry," she said sadly. "Mummy will help you."

She leaned forward and ran her tongue across the bleeding cut. Dean was pretty sure he was going to be sick, but that was nothing compared to having to look at her when she drew back. Her demon face was showing and his blood was dripping from one of her fangs.

"Sister, this look ain't working for you. The whole gothic, mistress of the dark thing… I guess some dudes fall for that. Not my thing, but hey, to each his own. This look though… Lady, that's just plain fugly. You couldn't get Stevie Wonder looking like that. It would take about two seconds for dude to feel the ugly seeping off of you and he'd be running the other freaking way."

Dean had expected rage, maybe a good slap upside the head, or even a full-on bite. What he hadn't expected was for her to call him a "horrible, dreadful, meeaaan man" and run crying from the room. What – the – actual - fuck? She was even nuttier than he'd expected. This was bullshit. He couldn't hang around here, dipped in crazy sauce, while Buffy was catching up with her ex and quite possibly going into labor.

"Cas," he called out. "It's Dean. I kinda need a hand down here."

Waiting, waiting… Nothing.

"Oh, Dear Castiel, who art possibly watching a bad porno… Please move your winged ass. Please. Dude, come on! Hit the pause button already. I really need your help. This is serious."

More waiting. Still nothing. Damn!

XXXXXXXXXX

Buffy had decided to join in on the research party. It had never been her favorite activity, but it was better than having another awkward conversation with Angel about Dean or her brother-in-law, AKA Satan. Besides, the sooner they identified the pendant that Drusilla stole, the sooner they could put a stop to her latest zany plan. Buffy was all for that, because she wasn't looking forward to sharing her big day with a mentally unstable vampire. Maybe she was being selfish, but she kind of wanted to be the center of attention when she finally went into labor. She didn't want half of her family and friends to be off trying to stop the apocalypse. That would just be a downer, and they'd probably forget to send flowers too. Apocalypses had an annoying tendency to suck the fun out of things.

She reread a page in some dusty old book for what was probably the hundredth time. The writing was so clunky and dull that she couldn't force her mind to concentrate on it for more than a couple of sentences at a time. When the door to the library opened, she looked up in relief, grateful for any type of distraction. The man behind the doorway wasn't quite a surprise, but it still shocked her a little anyway. It was Spike, looking the same as always, black leather duster included. He stood behind Willow, who had obviously done the necessary spell work to make his entry possible. Just like Angel, he now had one of Will's small hex bags hanging around his neck. Buffy guessed it was to prevent him from bursting into flames or something fun like that.

As expected, Spike's gaze bypassed everyone in the room and immediately settled on her. Buffy smiled at him. Despite everything that had gone on between them, Spike had definitely earned her gratitude. If it weren't for him staying behind in Sunnydale, she wouldn't be alive, much less a wife and soon to be mother. Xander, however, snorted and greeted Spike sarcastically, but Buffy didn't quite hear what he said, because Dawn's screech of rage sort of drowned everything else out.

Her sister headed straight toward the stunned vampire and punched him right in the gut. He had his arms held open, because he was clearly expecting a different reaction.

Spike looked hurt. "Niblet! That's a right fine hello. Aren't you happy to see me?"

"You ass!" Dawn replied angrily. "I thought you were dead. How hard is it to pick up a phone and tell people you're not dead? I can't believe you!" She smacked him on the side of the head to further emphasize her point.

Spike rubbed at his temple and frowned. "See you got a bit of old sis in you. So, not happy to see me then," he concluded. He paused for a minute, looking kind of ashamed of himself. "Got caught up with some things. 'sides, figured you didn't need Spike around to make things more difficult. Needed to let you ladies live your lives."

Dawn looked a bit less angry, but still stood with her hands on her hips. She was definitely not completely defused.

Buffy stood up and walked over to where the two were standing, mostly in an attempt to calm her sister down. For a second, she forgot about the fact that she was quite obviously pregnant, but the expression on Spike's face quickly reminded her. To say he looked shocked would be an understatement. He gaped at her a moment before finding his voice.

"Look at you, all with the glowing." He reached out and almost touched her, but retracted his hand at the last second. His eyes traveled down to her swollen abdomen, "It suits you…Is it to be a bitty Buffy?"

Buffy opened her mouth to inform him that she was indeed having a girl, but hesitated.

Spike was looking around the room. Buffy knew how his mind worked and realized he was clearly noting that the only two men in the room, aside from Giles and Angel, were clearly paired up already. Sam was sitting close by Faith and Xander's wife, Allie, had joined the research party as well and was sitting beside her husband, who had his arm draped around her protectively.

"Don't tell me some prat did this to you and then took off?" Spike spat angrily. "Bloody bastard! Where's the bloke what did it? You point me in the direction, ole Spike will hunt him down and have his guts for garters."

"It's okay, Spike. There's no need to fly into offended Victorian-guy mode," Buffy said with an amused smirk. She held up her ring hand to display her wedding band. "I'm an honest woman. You don't have to defend my honor." Buffy noted the disappointment and hurt that flitted across his features, but he hid it quickly.

"Where is the lucky man, then?" he asked with a forced smile. "Jus' glad it's not Peaches."

Angel snorted, but didn't make a comment. Buffy was glad for that. She could use a little less drama today.

"Should be back any minute. He just ran out to get me some dinner. This baby's always hungry," she remarked as she patted her belly.

Spike opened his mouth to say something else, but Giles interrupted by clearing his throat.

"Spike," he began coolly. "I hear you've been keeping tabs on Drusilla. Have you been able to gain any further insight into her plans?"

"Right then. Straight to business," Spike remarked with a shrug. "Don't have details on her plan just yet, but I did catch a lucky break. Saw her nab some poor, frail lookin' little Nancy boy. Followed her when she drug him to her hideout. Now we know where she lives," he said with a cocky smirk.

Willow gasped. "Didn't you try to help the poor guy? Is-is he okay?"

"He'll be fine," Spike replied with a wave of his hand. "If Dru was gonna eat him, he'd have been done for already. She loves an audience, that one. 'sides, I'm thinking she's lookin' for a bit of fun. The git was the pretty, girly type, so 'm sure she'd like to play with him a little. The boy's safe for now."

"Well hell," Faith said as she slapped her palms on the tabletop. "If we know where she's at, why are we all still sittin' here? Screw these books. We should just go in there and kick her skanky ass. That'll take care of her plans."

Sam nodded in agreement. "Sounds good to me. She might be old and powerful, but we've got a whole army of slayers. I'll just call Dean and give him a heads up, tell him where to meet us. Buffy," he said as he sent a significant glance her way.

She stuck out her tongue at him. "Yeah, yeah, I know. Poor pregnant Buffy has to stay behind and knit cute, little baby booties. Darn, I'm so gonna miss the girl-talk with Dru. She's such a brilliant conversationalist."

Sam laughed. "If it helps, you can think of it as a sacrifice at the altar of Dean's sanity. Cause, you know he'd freak."

"I know," Buffy agreed with a pout. "And I was the one who promised no slaying during the third trimester. I'm pretty sure he took that seriously, too."

"So," Spike said. "Your fellow's named Dean, then?" He sneered and rolled his eyes. "Well, that's a right stu-,"

"Spike…" Buffy warned with a raised brow.

"Sounds like a fine name," he corrected.

"Glad to hear it," Sam said flatly.

"What's it to you? You his oversized fangirl or somethin'?"

Sam stood up and stepped in front of Spike, who was forced to look up to maintain eye contact.

"That's Sam, he's Dean's baby brother," Buffy informed him with a grin. It was hilarious to see Spike doing his best to look big and bad in front of the much larger man. "I'd be careful. They're pretty tight."

"Plus, he's the Antichrist," Angel added without looking up from the book he was reading.

"Hey," Faith snapped. "That's not funny!"

Sam's angry glare dissolved into what Dean called his 'bitchface'. "Not anymore," he said, clearly deflating a little.

Spike clapped the youngest Winchester on the shoulder and smirked. "Retired then, are you? Good choice. Sounds like a piss poor gig."

Sam stared at the vampire for a moment, obviously caught off guard and not sure what to say. "This is stupid," he finally announced. "Faith is right. We shouldn't be sitting around here, we should go take out Drusilla."

Spike snorted. "Right then, if that's your plan then I'll save ya the trouble and just eviscerate you right now, might thin out the herd."

"Yeah right," Faith replied with a snort of her own. "We're terrified. Give me a break. You don't want us going in, because you're scared we'll dust your loony ex-girlfriend."

Spike sighed. "Look, 'm not gonna lie and say it wouldn't be hard to see Dru get dusty, but it's not that. She's tricky, that one. She may be off her nut, but she's still powerful and wiley as hell. How do you think she's managed to last this long?"

"He has a point," Angel admitted grudgingly. "We can't afford to underestimate her. It's hard to tell what she has planned."

Spike nodded his agreement. "Plus, she's got minions, lots of 'em. She's even got a few Fyaryls in the mix and I happen to be the only one here who speaks Fyaryl. You remember that, don't you Rupert?"

"Yes Spike. It's my fondest memory," Giles agreed dryly. "So, if we're not going in just yet. What is the plan?"

"I do some recon first. Chat up the Fyaryls. Try an figure out what's what so as we don't go in there blind."

"Okaaay," Xander responded. "Then, why did you waste time coming here, instead of going in there and getting the scoop first? I'm sure you wanted the chance to ogle Buffy again, but some poor guy's in the process of becoming Dru's chew toy. I know you don't care, but I'm sure he'd appreciate some help."

Spike sneered at Xander. "I do care," he said coolly. "But I can't very well go waltzing in there just to say 'hi'. Gotta get with Red's mojo first. Dru can smell my soul."

"She told you this?" Giles asked.

"She knew before… when everything was going down with the chip. So yeah. Gotta say, Dru is nutters, but she's still psychic. She'll spot this soul a mile away." Spike turned toward Willow. "What d'ya say Red? Think you can whip up some sorta spell? Keep my soul off her radar?"

Willow crinkled her brow in thought. "Well, I know a pretty simple spell that can hide an aura. No aura kinda equals no soul in most circles, so yeah. I think that'll do it," she said confidently. "I even have all the ingredients. Can have it done in two shakes of a lamb's tail."

XXXXXXXXXX

Dean was pretty much stuck. The manacles he was wearing were not budging and he had no way to pick the lock on them. He did have a lock pick, of course, but it was in his jeans' pocket. He'd have to be a damn contortionist to get to it. He'd either have to convince Sybil to let him go, which didn't seem likely, or he'd have to hope Sam would come looking and Buffy would keep her little ass at the Council where it was safe.

He was getting bored and aggravated with being trapped in the same position and was almost grateful when he heard footsteps and voices coming toward him.

He heard Drusilla first and she sounded much happier than she had a few minutes before.

"My William… You're all new again. You chased that nasty sunshine from your heart. Have you returned to mummy?"

"Yeah baby, I'm back."

Great, another English accent, Dean thought. What was up with the undead British invasion?

Two figures entered the room. One was Nutso and the other was a new face. A dude. Specifically, a bleach blond vampire dressed in leather and smoking a cigarette. Good times.

Well, what we got here?" the new guy asked as he looked Dean over.

"Awww Dude! That freakin' sucks!" Dean exclaimed.

"What's that mate?" the male vamp asked.

"The fake vamps got Billy Idol! Man, I'm sorry. Don't take it too personally - cause I like your music - but I'm gonna have to hunt you down now. That's just how it works."

Spike quirked an eyebrow at Dean. "Piss off Nancy boy. I'll have you know, that ponce, Billy, stole the look from me."

Drusilla tugged on the guy's coat sleeve and drew his attention back to her. "The fairies whispered that the darkness fills him. They told me he was to be my new Angelus. And now that you're back my William, it will be just like old times. We'll be a family again. We can dance and have parties," she rejoiced as she spun around and giggled. Then she stopped suddenly and her happy smile faded. "But he's been dreadful," she pouted. "He hurt princess's feelings…Spank him for mummy. Make him play nice."

Dean was pretty sure he saw the guy looking at Drusilla like she was completely whacked-out. It was pretty bad when the other freaks thought you were nuts. But, the expression was brief and he turned back toward the crazy vamp and smiled at her.

"No worries pet," he said as he stepped up close to Dean and shifted into his demon face before addressing him. "Didn't your mum raise ya to respect the ladies?"

"Oh God, dude, you've gotta be friggin kidding me. I'm hanging here bleeding."

The vamp snorted and started to say something else, but paused, sniffing the air. Then he threw down his cigarette angrily and ground it out with his boot. "Oh, bloody hell! You? You're the one? She picked a bleeding L. L. Bean model?"

Drusilla wrapped her arms around the guy and giggled. "Oooh, my Spike smells that nasty slayer on him. He's covered in her. Even his clothes reek of her. I think we should strip him," she said as she clapped her hands together in glee.

Dean was floored when he recognized the name 'Spike'. This was Buffy's other undead ex, and this one was clearly no longer riding the soul train. He was beyond screwed and hopefully only figuratively, because crazy bitch was now enthusiastically trying to unbutton his fly.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Spike ordered, sounding almost panicked. "Not sure you want to be doing that now, pet."

She looked extremely unhappy with this request, but paused. Thank God.

"Thought you wanted me to teach him to respect the ladies?" Spike asked. "Can't be letting him get away with hurting my sweet wicked girl, can I love?"

"Yes, yes," she said excitedly. "Teach him Spike. Show him what happens when you disrespect Princess."

The vamp drew back his fist with a smirk.

"Son of a Bitch," Dean grumbled, unable to do anything to avoid the oncoming punch. This was going to suck.

Chapter Text

~Chapter 4~

Buffy pulled out her phone again and frowned when she saw no messages or missed calls. What was keeping Dean? He should've been back by now.

"Sam, have you heard anything from your brother?" she asked hopefully.

Sam raised his head from the book he was flipping through and drew his brows together in concern. "No, I haven't." He pulled out his own phone and noted the lack of messages as well. "Maybe he got caught up in traffic… Have you called him?"

Buffy shook her head. "I was going to, but I did send a text about ten minutes ago and he still hasn't texted me back."

Sam hit the speed dial button and put the phone against his ear. The call went straight to voice mail. He left a message before turning back to Buffy.

"Something's not right," he said. "Do you know where he was going?"

"Just by the house and then to get me some dinner," she shrugged. "I'm not sure, but I'm sorta guessing Applebee's. We were headed there anyway, and he knows I'm currently obsessed with their Asian Chicken Salad." Buffy paused for a moment, deep in thought. "Oh God! Spike!"

Sam stood suddenly, knocking over his chair. "What do you mean, Buffy?" he asked with anger and fear evident in his voice.

"I should have known," she grumbled as she rubbed at her temples. "Dean's the 'poor, frail looking Nancy boy'. Dammit Spike," she snapped. "I'm so gonna kick your bleached ass when you get back here."

"Buffy, what are you talking about?" Sam asked. "I know you're worried, but that doesn't even make sense."

"It does if you know Spike," Angel added. "Unfortunately, it makes way too much sense."

Buffy could tell that Sam still looked confused, and despite her rising panic, she tried to give him some more explanation.

"Spike may be a vampire and over a century old, but he's still a guy. The type of guy who acts really mature when he sees a man he thinks might be tougher or better looking than he is." She turned toward Angel and pleaded, "You have to call him Angel. Find out where he is. We have to get Dean away from Dru! She'll know we're connected. You know she will."

"Buffy, I can't call him. Spike doesn't have a phone."

"What do you mean he 'doesn't have a phone'? Are you actually serious right now? It's the twenty-first century, Angel. When are you guys gonna get with the times?"

The vampire looked sheepish. "Sorry Buffy, it's kind of been a big adjustment for us. The whole technology thing's gotten way out of hand."

"Fine! Just tell me where he went and I'll go find him myself."

Now Angel looked extremely sheepish. "I… uh… don't know. Thought he told you."

Buffy buried her face in her hands and whined, "We suck. We're the worst anti-evil organization ever."

XXXXXXXXXX

"There you are," said a male, British voice that Dean knew he should recognize. That was if his brain wasn't beyond mush by this point. "Thought you were gonna sleep the night away," the voice continued. "Wouldn't have hit you so hard if I'd known you had such a soft head there love."

Now Dean recognized the voice. It was the formerly evil, turned currently evil vampire named Spike.

"Bite me," he managed to slur out.

"Bit of advice, mate. That's not such a witty retort when you're dealin' with a vampire."

Dean struggled to focus his gaze and force himself to full awareness. The son of a bitch was standing really close - too close - and he was fiddling around with something above his head. If he didn't know better, he'd swear the freak was unlocking the shackles that held his wrists. And apparently he was, because he almost face-planted when he lost their support.

"Bloody hell," Spike grumbled as he supported Dean's limp weight by wedging his shoulder underneath his arm. "Don' get me wrong… you're pretty enough, but a bit heavy for a damsel in distress."

As Dean struggled to regain his footing, he instinctively reached for his pistol. It wasn't there, of course, but his hand did brush against the handle of the knife that was sheathed on his hip. Stupid bitches didn't completely disarm him and they'd be sorry for that.

"You're friggin hilarious," he observed as he whipped the blade out and quickly buried it in Spike's stomach. This time he wasn't able to avoid the face-plant when he lost the vampire's support, but it was so worth it to hear dude scream like a girl.

"You sodding li'l bastard! What the hell did you do that for?"

Dean pushed himself up on his knees and grinned at the sight of Spike bleeding and clutching his stomach. Dude actually had the nerve to look offended too. Damn, he wished he had a picture of this… and a stake. A stake would be awesome. The happy thoughts were short lived, however, once they were joined by Drusilla and six of her poser-vamp minions.

"My poor, beautiful Spike," Drusilla said sadly. "I knew you'd betray me. You're still the Slayer's lapdog. I can smell the witch's spell on you now. That horrible soul is still pecking away at you."

"Betray you? No, pet! I would never betray such a beauty. The whelp was tryin' to escape! Your Spike was only stoppin' him for you. Look a' me, love," he said as he uncovered his wound. "The tosser stabbed me!"

Drusilla glided across the room and stood pouting in front of Spike. "You never used to tell me such dreadful lies," she said as she pried the bloody key ring from his clasped fingers and dangled it in front of his face.

"But… Dru, pet! This 's not what it looks like."

Dean had to admit he was damn confused by the whole scene. He'd figured the vampire was just taking him down so he could strap him to the rack or something fun like that. There wasn't a whole lot of time to ponder the situation, though. One of those giant Fyaryl demon freaks had just entered the picture and was going after Spike, along with three oversized bloodsuckers, and the other three fake-vamps were headed his way. He just hoped he didn't get hit in the head again.

XXXXXXXXXX

Buffy was standing in Applebee's parking lot with Sam, Faith, and Angel, who had decided that pregnant Buffy needed a bodyguard. It wasn't even worth arguing about, so she let him tag along. They were searching for any evidence that Dean had been there since he still wasn't answering any calls. She was busy scanning the pavement when her heart jumped into her throat at Sam's exclaimed curse.

"Shit!"

"What is it?"

"It was Dean's phone," Sam replied as he held up something vaguely phone-shaped that looked like it had been run over by a train.

Angel strode toward the group, gripping a pistol in his hand. "Found this too. Somebody threw it under a car over there."

"Something, you mean," Sam said coldly as he held out a hand to receive his brother's favorite gun. He had his shoulders held back and his brows pulled down as he loomed over Angel with a very clear, but unspoken: 'go ahead, fuck with me'.

Buffy just hoped this wasn't the start of another over-masculinized 'measuring contest'. Sam wasn't usually as bad as Dean when it came to that kind of thing, but he was pissed, worried, and not at all convinced that Spike didn't have something to do with all of this. Angel was obviously going to be caught up in that net of suspicion. But her ex didn't take the bait and calmly handed over Dean's pistol without saying a word, although he did give Sam a glare that let him know he wasn't at all afraid of him. Unexpectedly, Buffy found that a little disappointing. It wasn't that she particularly wanted to see another argument today, it was just that threatening Angel and Sam would give her something to do and possibly even someone to hit. The bonus was that it would distract her from the feelings of helplessness and fear that were beginning to overtake her.

XXXXXXXXXX

"Bravo, mate," Spike spat sarcastically from the spot where he was now shackled to the wall several feet away from Dean. "Brilliant job there. What with the surprise stabbing and all, I can't imagine why the escape plan failed."

"Screw you. How was I supposed to know it was a rescue? For some reason, I thought you were trying to eat me. Maybe that had something to do with the TKO you laid on me?"

"Hey! I did you a favor. If I hadn't knocked you out, Dru woulda stripped you bare and introduced you to a whole new level of S&M. Believe me, you wouldn't 'ave lasted five minutes."

Dean snorted. "Dude, you know nothing about me. Trust me, I can handle anything that crazy bitch can bring. She'd run crying from the room again before she ever broke me."

Spike made a noise that showed he obviously didn't share Dean's confidence, but then he began chuckling. "S'pose you could try that projectile vomiting bit on her again. Haven't seen Dru quite so put out in a good fifty years. Thought we might actually get away for a tick. Still, 'm sure she'll be in a right proper snit for a while. Might delay the torture a bit while she cleans herself up. Course, she's gonna be extra nasty when she does come back. Good show though. Hell of a weapon you got there. Tha's your super power, I reckon? I can see why the Slayer fancies you."

"Screw you," Dean repeated again. His head hurt too bad to come up with a new comeback, plus his mouth tasted like ass. "Puke is what happens when a living, breathing person gets their melon thumped twice in one day. I probably have brain damage. So, thanks. Appreciate it. Now I'm gonna miss my baby being born and if I survive this, the poor kid'll have damn Forrest Gump for a father. This blows!"

"Oh, bleeding hell. Stop sniveling. What are you going on about anyway? Lucky bloke! You get her! Even get to have the white picket fence dream. And what? I'm s'posed to feel sorry for you? Well, get bent! What do I get outta this? I have to settle for sharing a Shanshu with a poofter who has more hair products than Vidal Sassoon. That's what."

"You're jealous," Dean gloated.

"Of course I'm jealous, you wanker. And I've also had enough of broody bastards, mind you. I'm the one what's got the real troubles here. Got a giant hole in my gut needs mending! Real, human blood would fix it up right quick too. Ought to drink from your brain stem. And I would… but that would hurt Buffy and I suppose the baby bit needs a father, even if he is a great prancing git."

Dean laughed, even though it made his head feel like it might fall off. At least this time he was being entertained while he waited to be disemboweled. There were never any amusing intermissions in the Pit. That was for damn sure. "Didn't know fake-vamps were such whiny little bitches," he taunted. "Dude, I think you need to see Dr. Phil… or maybe you just need a hug."

"Sod off."

Dean was treated to a few moments of silence, before the Bleached Wonder got wound-up again.

"What is all this nonsense about fake vamps you keep yammering on about? It don't get any more real than me. I was once the scourge of Europe, I'll have you know. I was William the Bloody, boy! Entire villages lived in terror of me."

"Yeah, whatever," Dean remarked with a yawn, because he knew it would piss Spike off. "Listen, William, I've been doing this job my entire life and I never saw a freak like you until I moved to the Hellmouth. Real vampires aren't lame enough to get ganked by a wooden stake or any of that other Bela Lugosi, B-movie crap. It's freakin sad, dude. Hell, I'm embarrassed for you."

"Please. Don't tell me you're comparing me to one of those cut-rate infected blokes. That's all they are, you know? It's like the flu or somethin'. Don't even have a proper demon in 'em. A mosquito would make a better vampire."

"Yeah, yeah… Pull your panties outta your ass and chill. You don't have to start crying just cause you're scared of a few splinters."

"Right," Spike scoffed. "You got me there…. Hold up," he said after a brief pause. "You say you been working this gig your whole life? … S'pose that makes you a hunter," he concluded with obvious distaste. "Buffy ended up with some bleeding twit of a hunter… Now I'm gonna be sick."

XXXXXXXXXX

"It's not good, Buffy," Giles said. "Maybe it's best if you have a seat first."

"No," she snapped impatiently. "I'm not sitting. I'm tired of everyone acting like I'm this delicate little piece of extremely bloated china. Tell me, Giles. What did you find?"

Her watcher adjusted his glasses and flipped the pages of the book he was holding back and forth a couple of times. Clearly he was stalling.

"Giles."

"Fine, but don't say I didn't warn you…. This is a passage from a very ancient book."

"And…" Buffy said. "They're all ancient, Giles. What's the point?"

Giles was put out now, Buffy could tell by the pinched expression on his face.

"Very well then. We'll get straight to the point. Which is, I'm afraid, that Drusilla appears to be trying to fulfill the Herodian Prophecy." He paused and directed a stern look in Buffy's direction when she started to interrupt again. "The writing is vague and unnecessarily obtuse of course, but at the heart of it is a prophecy which deals with a pregnant slayer - specifically one who carries a female child. Buffy, I believe Drusilla wishes to cut out your baby and raise it as her own," he spat out quickly.

"Giles!" she gasped. Despite her protests, Buffy suddenly felt the need to be seated and lowered herself into the nearest chair.

"You did ask not to be coddled," he defended.

"Dru wants to adopt my baby?" she asked in disbelief. "The Drusilla? The same one who thinks there are actually tiny people living inside of the television?"

"She's tried it before," Angel remarked. "Not with a slayer's child, but she does kind of have a thing for pets and infants. They usually end up starving though. She never remembers to feed the poor things."

"Angel you are NOT helping!" Buffy practically yelled.

"Sorry," he shrugged, "but it's true."

Sam stood up and held his hands out in the way he always did when he was trying to calm everyone down. "Okay, let's just try to get to the bottom of this. Why would a vampire want to raise a baby? There has to be a reason."

Giles rubbed at his temples. "Well, it has to do with our mysterious pendant, I'm afraid. It's known as the Gem of Nasha'. Nasha' is the root of the Hebrew word meaning to seduce or beguile. According to my sources, it was believed to have been lost centuries ago," he remarked, shooting a sour look in Angel's direction before beginning to read from the book he was holding.

"As the life blood drains from the Chosen One, the gem shall become infused with the essence of the pure Slayer which dwells within. The essence of the Slayer shall allow her daughter to become the Great Seducer of Men, the living vessel of Salome. Neither man nor demon shall be able to resist her influence. Great nations will fall by her bidding and the world of man shall lie in ruin."

"Salome was the woman famous for obtaining the head of John the Baptist on a platter," Giles explained as he closed the book. "All by dancing seductively, as the story goes. I imagine her reward was quite demonic in nature."

Buffy took a moment to absorb the utter insanity of it all. Then her head snapped up with determination. "Willow! Tell me you've found a way to track Dean. You need to find him now," she demanded.

Her friend frowned and chewed at her bottom lip nervously. "Jeez Buffy, I've tried. It's impossible for me to break through those thingies carved on his ribs. Dean's off my radar… he's off everybody's radar. I think that was the whole point."

"Then Drusilla, you have to be able to find Drusilla! Do a tracking spell. How hard can it be to find the world's most unstable vampire?"

Willow looked like she was trying to disappear through the floor. "It's hard. Really hard. Buffy, this is the Hellmouth. There are all sorts of crazy things around here. It's like finding one crazy needle in a giant loony haystack. Unless I've got something that belongs to Dru… something to anchor the spell to… I've basically got a whole lot of nothing."

"That's it then," Buffy snapped. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath in an attempt to sound extra religious or something like that. "Castiel," she said sweetly. "We could really use some help down here. Can you come down? Pretty please… with extra sugar on top."

Buffy waited a few seconds and nothing happened. It was irritating, because he always showed up for Dean and Dean was always a huge smartass in his prayers. He never asked nicely, like she had. There was even one time when he got drunk and sang that goofy 'Say a Little Prayer Song', completely out of tune and with added curse words, just to see if Cas would fall for it… and he did.

"Let me try," Sam said. "He knows me better."

Buffy stood and crossed her arms above her belly when Sam's prayer failed just as miserably. "Try telling him that Dean's in trouble. He has a massive man crush on my husband, I'm sure you realize that."

Sam gazed back at her like she had three heads. It was ridiculous. She liked Cas, she did. He'd been nice to her in his weird way and he was a pretty cool guy ever since he quit sneaking around and trying to open the door Monsterland, but she was in no mood for this crap right now. It was time to get blunt.

Her brother-in-law laughed uncomfortably. "Buffy, that's ridiculous. They're just good friends."

"Yes," she nodded. "They are. But that doesn't mean Cas doesn't have whatever passes for 'the hots' in Angel Land when it comes to Dean. He is really, really good looking. It's not like I blame the guy. That's just how it is."

"Buffy-," Sam began in obvious disbelief.

"There's subtext," Willow put in. "I'm with Buffy. The guy at least has an epic bromance sorta thing for your brother."

"See!" Buffy said as she pointed to Willow. Then she closed her eyes again and said, "Dearest Castiel, Dean's in trouble. Could you please come on down?"

Buffy barely had a chance to open her eyes before the stone faced, trench coat wearing angel appeared in the room. He took a second to gaze curiously at Faith, who was doubled over in laughter, before turning back toward Buffy.

"What is wrong with Dean?"

Chapter Text

~Chapter 5~

"Look mate, all 'm saying is that quantity's got bugger all to do with quality. Detroit makes more cars. You got me there, but think about it. The Aston Martin, the Jag, the bleeding Rolls-Royce! The cars we make are simply better, you can't argue with facts. How can you even compare some of the rubbish you lot drive to any of those?" Spike snorted. "Oh right, just remembered… the Ford Pinto. I stand corrected. You win."

"Fine, the Pinto was a blemish on the ass of American car superiority, but I'm still not convinced the Russians didn't work some sabotage on that one. That was the Cold War era, dude. They were secretly screwing around with all sorts of crap over here. The Pinto was just proof. That and disco, man. Someday it'll all come out."

Spike sighed deeply. "So, what do we argue 'bout next? Seein' as how Dru might leave us hanging here a bit longer. Must be taking her a while to get sorted after you chundered all over her."

Dean groaned and tried to wiggle his wrists around. The freaks had put the manacles on extra tight this time and his hands were now completely numb, a problem he doubted the bleached undead had to contend with, considering he had no circulation to cut off. "I don't friggin' know. I'm bored as hell. I wish she'd just get her damn freaky show on the road."

As if on cue, Drusilla strolled into the room wearing a clean and super fancy-looking dress. She'd obviously taken extra time getting herself ready too, because her hair was painstakingly arranged in lots of perfect ringlet curls and she wore glittering jewels around her neck.

"Thanks for that," Spike hissed over toward Dean. "Hope you enjoy your freak show. Drusilla," he greeted in a much louder tone. "Luv, you look ravishing. That dress is perfection on you. Never seen you looking so—,"

"Shush," she warned with a raised finger. "I'm in no mood for more of your lies, Spike. Princess is very cross with you."

"Yeah dude, grow some balls. Stop kissin' ass. It's sad."

"Right, like you aren't terrified of the Slayer when you do something what gets her knickers in a twist. I've had my face bashed in a time or two by that one. It's nothing to sneeze at."

"Guarantee it," Dean agreed smugly. "But she likes me and she'd never wanna mess with this face."

"Please. You –,"

"Silence! No more talk of that horrid Slayer. You're with Drusilla now and you'll both be thoroughly punished. Starting with you," she purred as she crept up toward Dean and growled at him in what he assumed was supposed to be a sexy way. Then, with no foreplay whatsoever she stuck her tongue down his throat. God help him.

"Dru!" Spike exclaimed in horror from his spot on the wall. "That's bloody disgusting, pet. The boy just finished throwing up everything he's eaten in the past decade."

Dean never thought he'd agree with a vampire on the subject of personal hygiene, but yeah, this was just gross. He was beginning to wonder if she was going to settle for choking him to death with her tongue when she finally pulled back and looked him up and down while she licked her lips.

"You're going to make a wonderful daddy for our new little one. We'll be a proper family, we will. We can take her pram to the park at night, buy her lovely li'l dresses, go to the fair," she added excitedly. "She'll have all the lollipops and sweeties she wants. Perhaps we'll even find her a kitten."

No way, Dean thought. No freaking way. This crazy bitch couldn't be saying what he thought she was saying. It was a whole new level of crazy. "Lady, I know you and reality ain't exactly on speaking terms, but you do realize you can't get pregnant… don't ya?"

Drusilla giggled and began rubbing his chest. "Someone else has our baby right now," she whispered. "Someone very naughty. But don't you worry. Your Drusilla will cut it out of that nasty girl, then I will be her mummy and all will be perfect."

"You won't lay a finger on her," Dean warned. "I'll kill you first, you skank bitch!" He struggled against the shackles some more, even though he knew it was useless. "Cas!" he yelled (another useless effort he realized). "Castiel, I'm serious! This is terror alert red, dude! Where the hell are you?"

The crazy vampire started with the maniacal laughter again and turned her gaze upward. Dean's eyes followed and the question of what was keeping Cas became abundantly clear. Enochian sigils. The ceiling was covered in them. "Fuck!"

"Language," she scolded. "Miss Edith will hear. I knew you'd try to bring in outsiders. But, it's not your fault," she said sadly. "You don't understand yet, my poor lost boy. But you will… once I've made you mine, you will. And we can finally be happy."

"Let me guess. The friggin faeries told you about the sigils, right?" he asked sarcastically.

She stroked his face. "No my silly, beautiful new Angel. It was the pixies, of course."

"Yeah, of course. Cause that makes buttloads more sense.

XXXXXXXXXX

"That is a vampire," Castiel observed as he gazed at Angel.

"Yeah," Sam agreed impatiently. "He's a vampire named Angel. Ironic, huh?"

Cas sized up Angel for a long moment. "You are the one who may one day fulfill the Shanshu prophecy."

"That's the rumor," he agreed. "And you're a…?"

"He's an actual angel," Sam supplied in a clipped tone. "Now can we get back to Dean? Have you heard from him?"

"No, he has not prayed to me."

This news terrified Buffy. "Seriously?" she asked a bit desperately.

"Yes, seriously," he echoed back. "He has not prayed to me."

Buffy wrinkled her nose and kicked irritably at the table leg in front of her. "Are you really, really sure? I mean, maybe you were sleeping or had the TV on too loud or something?" God, she hated it when the angel gave her 'the blank look'.

"I do not sleep."

"But… he'd call you if he was in serious trouble. He's stubborn, but he's smart enough to know when he really needs help and he also realizes I'm about to go into labor at any second. He had to call you…. unless he couldn't. You don't think?"

"He's not dead. He would have appeared in heaven if he was."

That answer soothed Buffy's nerves a little, but not much. She knew Drusilla enough to know that Dean could still be in a severe amount of pain even if he was alive. "Will!" she exclaimed, deciding it was time to go back to pestering her best friend now that summoning the angel seemed to be a bust.

"I'm trying, Buffy," Willow whined. It was possible Buffy had been taking the pestering to an extreme. "Look," she said as she swung her laptop around so everyone could see the screen. "This is a map of Cleveland. The red hotspots are vamps," she explained as she pointed out blobs of red dots throughout the city. "The blue are Fyaryl demons. I thought we'd look for a hotspot with both and then hit that one… but since Fyaryls commonly work for vamps, there are actually quite a few of those dual hotspots. Sooooo…. that means we have at least thirty-five maybes."

"Fine, we'll grab all the girls, split up and hit 'em all."

"Works for me," Sam agreed. "What do you think, Cas? Any of those spots give you the angelic tinglies?" He pursed his lips and frowned uncomfortably once he'd said that. "I mean, do you – you know - sense anything?"

Castiel didn't answer, he was mesmerized by the laptop screen. "This is impressive. Did you use magic?"

Willow beamed with pride. "Yes, it's a Willow Rosenberg special. Part magic, part mad coding skills."

Cas furrowed his brow and leaned in closer. "But there is nothing there," he said as he pointed to one of the red and blue hotspots.

Will was obviously annoyed that he'd touched her screen and quickly wiped at the smudge with a tissue. "Is too," she said defensively. "This program has been thoroughly bug tested. I stand by it 1000%"

"But there is nothing there," Castiel repeated, clearly unaffected by Willow's indignation. "Nothing. It's as if that area does not exist. There must be a flaw in your logic."

"Well… well," Willow sputtered. "Maybe there's just a flaw in your big poopie head!"

Poopie head, seriously? Buffy just let that one go on by and exchanged glances with Sam, who seemed to have come to the same conclusion as her.

"That's the place!" they both exclaimed.

Cas looked unconvinced. "I do not understand."

"Yeah, me neither," Willow reluctantly agreed after shooting the angel another sour look. The girl did not like to have her magical or her coding skills called into question. If you did both at once, she was going to be steamed.

"Think about it," Buffy said excitedly as she addressed Cas. "Dean's obviously in deep trouble, but he hasn't even tried to call you… or so you think. And now there's this hotspot full of vamps and Fyaryls right in front of you and you can't see it. Like, AT ALL. You said it was like it didn't even exist."

"You are saying the area is protected from angelic interference? Perhaps guarded by Enochian sigils?"

"Makes sense," Sam agreed. "That's how I'd read it."

Buffy hugged the stunned angel. "Yay! You're not completely useless after all. Let's go!"

"Buffy."

She looked up at her brother-in-law and frowned. "Don't start, Sam. I'll tell Dean I threatened you with your life if you're that scared of him. I'll even hit you if you think it'll look more convincing."

"He has a point, Buffy," Angel added as he stood up. "You are the one Drusilla's looking for. You know she only grabbed Dean to draw you in. You'd be stupid to go there."

"Well, I am blond, female, and from California," she snapped back sarcastically. "So yeah, I'm practically guaranteed to be a moron. Obviously, I'm going and all of you can deal with it. Besides," she added as she grinned up at Castiel and attempted to appear as innocent and cute as possible. "I've got an angel on my shoulder. You wouldn't let anything happen to little old stupid me, would you Cas?"

"That would displease Dean."

"Darn right it would," she nodded. "Let's pack it up, people. This baby can't wait forever and I'm not going into labor by myself."

XXXXXXXXXX

A rescue party consisting of fifteen junior Slayers, herself, Faith, Sam, Willow, Xander, Giles, Angel, Castiel, and even Dawn was beyond overkill when it came to facing maybe a dozen vamps and a couple of stupid Fyaryls, but Buffy wasn't about to feel guilty about wasting resources. This time she was going to take full advantage of her status as Head Slayer. It wasn't like the job came with that many glamorous perks anyway. Mostly it was just a lot of ruined shoes and demon goo.

It turned out that Drusilla had holed up in a mansion that some wealthy eccentric had built to look like a medieval castle. It had been abandoned during the height of the recession and no one had yet stepped up to buy it. Big shock there.

"Dammit," Sam cursed in frustration as he observed the monstrosity in front of them. "This place is huge! We'll have to search every room. It could take hours."

"Not if this place has a dungeon," Angel remarked. "Drusilla loves dungeons."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Why is that not surprising? And my bet is firmly on dungeon, because if you're weird enough to build a full-scale medieval castle in the middle of Cleveland, you're definitely not gonna skimp on that part. So I say we just kick in the doors and head on downstairs. Kill everything in your path, but leave Drusilla for me."

"I cannot enter," Castiel said as he indicated the windows decorated in sigils. It was in his usual monotone, but Buffy could almost swear there was a bit of petulance in there.

"Will, you think you can take care of that?"

"Abso-tutely," she chirped. It was a well-known fact that her best friend loved to show off in front of the angel, especially when said angel had recently dared to question her competence. She raised her arms and uttered a short incantation and every single window shattered. So much for the element of surprise. "Just stay behind me," she said smugly as she dusted off her hands. "If we run into any more of those puppies, I'll blast those too."

Chapter Text

~Chapter 6~

Buffy wanted to be the first person down the stairs, but wanting and doing were two completely different concepts when you were nine months pregnant. Once she made it to the first landing, desperately gulping for air, she was pretty sure that if anything was going to kick start her labor, this was going to be it.

At least Cas hadn’t abandoned her. Not that she blamed the others for doing so. Getting to Dean was the priority and it would take all night if everyone was forced to move at her pace. Besides, Cas was mostly just guarding her because he knew it was what Dean would want him to do, not that she was complaining about that either. She still had all of her Slayer strength, but over the past month her agility and speed had taken a severe hit. She would never actually admit it out loud, but coming on this raid probably wasn’t her smartest move, and yet she’d still do it again in a heartbeat.

Up ahead she heard a few growls and warning yells of ‘Slayers, Slayers… oh shit!’ She never got tired of that one. One lone vamp somehow slipped through the throng and despite her no third trimester slaying vow, Buffy couldn’t resist staking him. Mostly because he pretty much ran right into her stake. She didn’t even have to try.

By the time they finally made it to the dungeon the dust had basically settled -- literally. Although there were still a few lingering clouds. The only one left alive was Drusilla, who was chained to the wall by her wrists and babbling nonsensically. Buffy sensed some payback in that scenario, but the bonus for her was that it would make staking her so much easier. She was in no condition to engage in a fair fight with Drusilla and she wasn’t real concerned about playing fair either. But staking crazy old Dru wasn’t exactly on the top of her priority list right now. Her priority was leaning against his brother, looking battered, bruised, and most definitely pissed. She was certain her presence was the source of his anger, which was fine. If he was pissed, then he must be halfway okay.

“Buffy!”

“Shut up,” she said as she reached out and gingerly touched his chest, examining the crisscrossing of shallow cuts. He looked like a cutting board. “Look at you!” she gasped. “What did she do?”

Dean grinned, which somehow managed to be cute beneath all the blood and bruising. “She just wanted a taste of this, can you blame her?”

“Well this was completely unnecessary,” she remarked as she ran her fingers over the huge bruise across his cheekbone. “I’m guessing she did this too. And you know how furious I get when something messes with your face.”

She noticed that Dean hesitated a moment before answering with, “Nah… that was just some other annoying fake-vamp. Guess dude’s dust now.”

Spike piped up from over near Dru. “And some other annoying bastard stabbed me right in the gut.”

Buffy looked over at Spike and frowned sympathetically. “Sorry Spike. I really should kick your ass for not telling us where you were headed, but guess this wasn’t much fun for you either. Thanks for trying. I owe you one.”

“Yeah, you’re welcome,” he grumbled.

Buffy turned back to Dean and leaned gently into the side that wasn’t propped up by Sam. “I was so worried,” she said as she stood up on her tiptoes to kiss him. To her surprise, he flinched away from her. “Jeez, touchy much? There’s no point in being all cranky, because you know there was no way I was sitting this one out.”

“So? I’m still pretty pissed… and yeah, not surprised. Buffy you’re THE LAST person that needs to be here! I can’t believe you. That nutbag was–” He stopped, obviously realizing it made absolutely no difference what he said anyway. “Just trust me, you don’t want to kiss me. I need to brush my teeth and rinse my mouth out with bleach first.”

Buffy wrinkled her brow and stuck out her lower lip in sympathy. “Head injury?”

“Oh yeah. Lights out twice in one day. It was awesome. Then Elvira decided to play tonsil hockey with me, which was just plain disturbing. I’ll never be the same.”

Buffy gave Dean one light squeeze and then turned toward Drusilla with a vengeance, stake raised high. “Guess what crazy lady? You’re not getting out of this one. Mr. Pointy here will make sure you never molest my husband again.”

“William,” Drusilla said sweetly. “You wouldn’t let that horrid girl stake your black goddess, would you?”

Spike stroked her hair and frowned. “Sorry, pet. You’re evil. Can’t be having you runnin’ about maiming and killing and whatnot. I will miss you.”

Buffy actually felt sorry for Spike. He was nothing if not loyal, but he was also right. She was evil and she should have been dust years ago.

Castiel was apparently still on guard duty, because he dogged her steps the whole ten feet to where Drusilla was chained, but Buffy swallowed her annoyance at that. She wasn’t going to let anyone harsh her enjoyment of this moment. Then he leaned in and whispered in her ear and her moment was officially harshed.

“You are in the first stage of labor.”

“Ewww! I do not want to know how you even know that,” she hissed back in a whisper. “Just keep it to yourself.”

As the pair of them drew closer, Drusilla gasped in horror. “He’s the one. Thursday’s angel’s come to take me back to the nunnery! Don’t let him do it, Spike,” she pleaded. “The nuns will set me in a corner. I can’t bear it there, flowers never grow.”

“Very true,” Spike agreed reflexively as he examined Cas, who was staring at Drusilla in wonder. “So what’s your story, mate? You’ve got the gelled hair of angst and the broody glare bit goin’. I’m assuming you’re a big Angel fan.”

Cas regarded Spike with a creased brow. He was clearly confused. “Some of my brethren are difficult, but yes, I suppose ‘fan’ is a fair choice of words.”

“How ‘bout that? Someone actually makes less sense than Dru. Huh.”

“He’s an actual angel, Spike. You know halos and fluttery wings and all that stuff,” Buffy snapped a bit irritably. She’d heard enough witty male banter for one day, and then there was the small fact that she was (according to Cas) now officially in the early stages of labor. There was no time for stalling, she needed to stake Dru and get out of here.

“Wait,” Castiel said urgently. “You cannot kill her.”

“I what now?”

“There is a prophecy concerning a vampire with a broken mind, one who was once a true child of my father. Taken on the night she took her vows. She is destined—“

“Oh give me a friggin break!” Dean thundered. “I don’t give a crap if she’s destined to be the next American Idol! Are all the fake-vamps part of some bullshit prophecy these days? Buffy, just ignore him. Stake her.”

“Oh you better believe it,” she agreed as she brought the stake down, but she only connected with the empty wall where Dru once stood. No poof of dust or anything. “What just happened?” she whined in frustration.

“Yeah,” Dean joined in. “What the hell? Cas is gone too.”

“This makes no sense! I’m so gonna kill Cas when he…” That was as far as Buffy got before she was interrupted by an odd twinge. It wasn’t exactly painful. It was just indescribable. She felt some wetness and stared down in horror as fluid gushed from between her legs and pooled on the floor…. while the entire world watched, of course. Why was the universe so determined to humiliate her on a regular basis? One look at Dean showed that he was just as horrified. At least that was something.

“Baby, don’t take this the wrong way, but please tell me you just peed yourself.”

Buffy stared at him for a beat. “Peed myself!? Are you serious? Why? Just, why?”

“Well, look at me. Nobody’s going to let me anywhere near a delivery room right now, so I was hoping maybe it was just all the excitement or something. Little dogs do it all the time, and you do have to pee a lot lately….”

“Little dogs?”

Dean shrugged sheepishly and tried his most innocent grin. “It was just a theory. Little dogs are awful damn cute. You know, the chick kind. The ones with the tiny bows in their hair.”

Buffy was going to kill him for that one, but a massive contraction bent her over double before she could try. “Oh God. Somebody please say we overlooked the elevator on the way down here?”

Angel stepped forward, put his arm around her, and started to scoop her up in his arms. “It’s okay, Buffy. I’ll get you out of here.”

“Hell no!” Dean snapped. “Don’t even think about it. I’ll do it.”

Angel rolled his eyes. “Look man, I get it. You don’t like me and honestly, so far I’m not real impressed with you. But you’re going to have a tough time getting yourself out of here as it is. Can we just set this aside and take care of Buffy?”

Dean gritted his teeth and glared at Angel for a long moment. Buffy knew he was battling with himself and she really didn’t want him to miss out on any part of the delivery, but unfortunately the baby wasn’t going to wait for him to get his strength back. “Dean, honey-,” she began gently, but he cut her off before she could finish.

“Son of a bitch,” he cursed in frustration before looking up. “Cas! Dammit! Why didn’t you fix me before you decided to elope with Sybil?”

Castiel appeared immediately and touched a very stunned Dean on the forehead, healing him instantly. “I intended to come back and heal you, but I had to ensure the vampire’s escape first,” he said flatly.

Dean looked down at his healed chest happily for a moment before Castiel’s words had a chance to sink in. “Escape? You helped her escape? Man, I was hoping you were giving that bitch a ride on the Angel Express to hell. What did you do with her?”

Castiel shrugged unapologetically. “She’s in New Jersey.”

“Close enough to hell,” Spike remarked with a nod. “Dru hates Jersey.”

Buffy noted more than a hint of glee in Spike’s tone. Once again his nutso ex had managed to squeak out of another one. What were the odds? Damn, it was so frustrating. Even if she couldn’t actually hurt Cas, she was going to give him the bitching out of his life -- after she got this baby out of her, of course. “Sweetie can we go to the hospital now and yell at Cas later?”

“Yeah,” he agreed. “New Jersey? Seriously?” he continued to grumble as he swung Buffy up in his arms. “If that freaky bitch ever messes with us again, I’ll find a way to kick your ass.” He continued to glare at the angel for a moment before shaking his head in exasperation. “Well, at least you gave me minty fresh breath.” He made a point to demonstrate by kissing Buffy and then grinning smugly at Angel and Spike. Once he’d taken a moment to gloat, he spun around and started to take off up the stairs.

“Hold on one second,” Buffy said before turning back towards Angel. “Did you get that pendant back?”

He pulled it out of his coat pocket and held it up. “Yes, of course.”

“Can I see it, please?” she asked sweetly.

Angel handed it over reluctantly, Buffy could tell he was suspicious. And he should be, because she immediately threw it at the stone wall using every ounce of her strength. The stone shattered on contact. “Oops.”

“Buffy… I… you…” he stammered. “I paid a lot of money for that thing!”

“Yeah, well, too bad.

Dean beamed. He obviously approved. “Alrighty then. Let’s move, cause I sure as hell can’t deliver a baby.”

“I sure as hell don’t want you to,” Buffy agreed as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “Remember, in the delivery room there’s gonna be a sheet. No peaking beyond the sheet. It’s the great barrier. Got it?”

XXXXXXXXXX

Buffy smiled at Dean as he gingerly stroked the back of their daughter with one finger while she lay snoozing on her mother’s chest. “It’s okay. You won’t break her,” she said quietly.

“I dunno, she’s awful tiny. I don’t remember Sammy ever being this little. You sure that’s normal?”

“She weighs six pounds, two ounces and that’s totally normal. A little on the small end, maybe, but still completely fine. The doctor has declared her perfect and I for one am completely on board with that.”

“Yeah true, but she is bald. Which is kinda cool actually. Not many dudes are into the Sinead O’Conner look. It’ll make my job a lot easier.”

“She does too have hair! It’s just hard to see cuz it’s so blond. Besides, Dawn was totally bald and look at the head of hair that girl has now.” Buffy reached down and petted the little peach fuzz covered head. It was so warm and soft, and it seriously made her want to squeeze her really hard, but one look at Dean’s casted hand was all it took to control that urge. She’d sort of crushed a few of his bones during the worst part of her labor and, to make matters worse, he didn’t even mention it until it was all over with. Needless to say, she felt like the most horrible person ever.

“I’m so sorry about your hand. I was having a bad moment.”

“Not a big deal,” he shrugged and then gave her one of those smiles that made him look like he was a little boy instead of a grown man in his early thirties. “I got a nice shot of morphine out of it. I’m not sure if they normally give those in the ass, but I think the nurse had a thing for me. She was really smokin’ hot too.”

“Cute.”

“Yeah, I’m adorable,” he agreed. “But you, sister, you are no lady,” he teased. “I didn’t even know you knew some of those words. I barely even know some of those words.”

“Yeah right. I’m sure you were shocked and offended.”

“I was. Our poor kid’s gonna be a little potty mouth. She’ll probably get bounced out of every kindergarten in the city.”

That was probably and sadly going to be true, but Buffy was also damn sure her cursing wouldn’t have anything to do with it. Nope, it certainly wouldn’t be her. Dean was the foul mouthed one.

You still cool with the name?” he asked, his expression more serious. “I mean, I know it’s not hip or anything…”

“I think it’s perfect. Mary Joyce Winchester is a beautiful name… Obviously not as cool as something cutting-edge like ‘Brittney Rihanna Winchester’ or maybe ‘Miley Montana Cyrus Winchester’, but I can totally live with it.”

He leaned in carefully and kissed her. “You’re awesome.”

Buffy watched her husband for a long minute. He was clearly fascinated with the baby, barely blinking as he watched her sleeping, despite the dark circles under his eyes. It had been a long day and they were both exhausted. Crazy vampire drama followed by fifteen hours of labor was enough to take it out of anybody. If they ever did this again, she was moving to a desert island for the duration of her pregnancy and she was definitely going for the epidural. No question about that. Who cared if she was the Slayer, having a baby was a whole new level of pain. The first person to judge her would get the honor of picking up their own teeth.

“You know… Spike and Angel really want to see her before they go back to L.A.,” she remarked uncertainly. “I swear they won’t try to eat her or anything. They just want to see all this prettiness too. You can’t blame them. It is overwhelming.”

“Fine,” Dean said, surprising her by the way he gave in without an argument. “But they’ll have to wait until tomorrow. I’ve shared you with the fake-vamps enough for one day. Besides, the hot little nurse that wants my body is supposed to be bringing me a rollaway bed. I need my beauty rest.”

Almost as soon as the words left his mouth, a short, plump little nurse, who appeared to be in her early sixties, entered the room with a rollaway cot and made a show of fussing over the poor, exhausted new daddy with the mysteriously injured hand. She barely even glanced at the poor exhausted mommy, but Buffy decided that Dean was right; she was kind of cute.

“Tomorrow it is,” she agreed.

~The End~