Other than the whole weird baby thing, everything was normal. Xander was his usual adorkable, childlike self. Giles was going on and on about things in his books that Willow would like, though she could probably do it all so much better. Anya was too busy talking about sex and money – and the possibility of combining the two – to even notice Xander shooting spitballs at her. It was all perfectly normal.
So why does it all seem wrong somehow? Buffy wondered uneasily. And just how long did it take to do a locator spell, anyway? It had to have been at least ten minutes since Dawn had come back from the shelves to snag a few of Buffy’s hairs before going down into the basement with Tara.
She should talk to Willow. Willow would have had the spell done instantly. Buffy didn’t know what Dawn’s issue was, but as soon as Riley was done getting his assignments, she was going to talk to Willow about the baby.
No! Suddenly, a big, powerful something rose inside of her like a leviathan, insisting that she was not telling Willow.
The force of it almost knocked Buffy out of her chair at the research table. What the hell? What was that? It felt strangely familiar, even though she was sure she’d never experienced it before. Had she?
She scrambles away from the body underneath her, the throbbing pleasure of afterglow a horrible counterpoint to the nausea roiling through her over what she’s done. A sound distracts her from thinking about it. Spike is standing now and pulling his jeans back up. He doesn’t look at her – his head down, eyes glued to the ground – as his shaking hands work the zipper and rebuckle his belt.
Once that’s done, his legs don’t seem able to hold him up anymore, and he drops to the ground to huddle against a gravestone. She wants to blame him for what just happened, but knows she can’t. She did it. It’s her fault. She… she violated him. What is she supposed to say to him? What is she supposed to do? Before she even has a chance to figure it out, Spike fumbles through his pockets for his lighter and a cigarette.
Something rises up, feeling almost like her slayer instincts. She pounces on Spike again, and he tries to get away, but she’s stronger than he is, and he can’t even fight back. She takes away his cigarettes and tosses aside the flask she finds in one of his jacket pockets. Poison. All poison. She can’t allow that. She hits him, over and over, even smashes his head against the gravestone. She has to protect the.... Protect the what? What was happening?
Riley finally came out of the backroom, pulling Buffy from the awful not-memories. What the hell? That hadn’t happened. She couldn’t have done any of that. Why would she have hurt Spike like that? Why… why did she even care? It was just Spike. Some chipped vampire she’d fought a few times who now spent his time in a crypt getting beat up by Riley for information.
“Hey, sweetheart,” Riley said with a smile as he approached her.
Buffy knew, even before he leaned down towards her, that he was going to try to kiss her. Instead of happy fun time tingles, an icy ball of dread splashed down in the pit of her stomach at the thought. She didn’t want anyone touching her after… whatever it was she’d just experienced. Don’t make waves. You can’t make waves. His mouth swooped down towards hers.
She gazes into haunted blue eyes and kisses away the tears. He looks away, confused and uncertain. He laughs, the sound self-mocking with none of the sheer, childlike glee she knows he’s capable of.
“Look at that, love, blubberin’ on like I’ve any right for tears. Wasn’t me what got eaten by a monster.”
“Yes, it was,” she says quietly. “One time, it was.”
She gently cups his cheek and makes him look at her. Then she leans in and kisses him, soft and sweet.
Still caught up in the not-memory, Buffy kissed Riley back. The instant his hot lips touched hers, she knew. It was all wrong. The wrong shape, wrong texture, wrong rhythm. He wrapped an arm around her. Too warm, too big. She felt smothered. She shoved him away.
“Sorry, bathroom,” she said, giving what she hoped was a reassuring and apologetic smile before jumping to her feet and hurrying to the bathroom.
The not-memories swirled through her mind along with the strangely alien and unpleasant feel of Riley’s kiss. Pinpricks of hot and cold danced along her skin as she tried to swallow back the excess moisture in her mouth. I’m going to be sick, she thought numbly. Then she dropped to her knees in front of the toilet and threw up.
Both the locator spell and the spell to check on Thursday’s wellbeing had been cast. She was in Spike’s crypt and healthy, though apparently a bit grumpy. Now, Tara was quickly filling a box with various items while Dawn watched.
“Chains? Why do we need chains?” Dawn asked, eyes wide as Tara put the restraints into the box for the spell to free Spike and Buffy.
Tara glanced at her, looking slightly embarrassed. “I… um… I’m probably going to have to retrigger the fertility ritual to burn through Willow’s spell. If Buffy isn’t restrained….”
It took Dawn a second to figure out what she meant, but then her eyes widened even further. “Oh, jeez! Yeah, definitely need restraints,” she said with a shudder.
She wasn’t exactly opposed to the idea of Buffy and Spike having another kid, but the last thing either one of them needed was another bout of magically induced rape. Yeah, they’d recover from it quicker since they were boinking and in a pretty tight relationship, but they wouldn’t know that until after Tara did her spell. They’d still have all that “had sex again when we didn’t want to” ookiness to deal with.
“I think this is everything I’ll need,” Tara said, putting a few more items into the box. Then she handed the box to Dawn. “It’ll be a couple of hours before I can sneak out. Keep Buffy at the crypt for as long as you can. Maybe hint that the baby won’t be safe at home.”
“Yeah, well, that’s kind of true with Yuckface practically living there,” Dawn said, wrinkling her nose in disgust as she turned to go up the stairs. It was better for her to be the one with the box. She could always claim she was experimenting with magic to make something nice for Willow. “Stay safe.”
A horrible thought suddenly occurred to Dawn as she returned to the main part of the shop. She knew Riley had been having sex with the not-really-there Buffy placeholder. Had he had sex with the actual real Buffy? Oh ew. God, that was… ew. Poor Buffy.
If it had happened…. They’ll get through it, Dawn thought resolutely. Buffy and Spike had gotten through what the fertility ritual had done to them. If Willow had basically used Riley as a “sex up the Buffy” Ken doll, Spike would help Buffy deal with it. Dawn and Tara just had to get the two of them back to normal, and everything would be okay. They’d make everything right again.
The sprog was crying again. Of course she bloody well is, Spike thought with a sigh. He’d only just got her down again and had gone to the lower level for a smoke. And now she was crying again. She was always crying when she wasn’t sleeping, either because she was hungry or had messed herself if not both. Eat, mess, cry, sleep. God, what a life. He wanted that life. Not being a sprog, mind. Just… to have someone worry about his well-being for once. No one but his mum had ever really cared, and she….
Mustn’t think about that. Bad boy, very bad. Mustn’t think on that…. No one cares because you’re naught but a waste of space. A monster. Unlovable. Evil, evil, evil…
He’s tired, feels like the turkey part of one of them turducken things, and his back hurts, but the bathroom grout is mocking him with its persistent filth.
“What are you doing?” she says from behind him, sounding annoyed. “Is… is that my toothbrush?”
There’s a stab of guilt, but not much of one. She’s the one who bloody well did this to him. She could sacrifice her toothbrush to the cause.
“Okay, that’s enough of that.” She grabs him and pulls him out of the bathroom. “You’re supposed to be resting.”
“But-” She can’t be serious. How is he supposed to rest when it’s so dirty everywhere?
“Nuh-uh, no buts, other than yours getting planted in front of the TV.” Her voice has gone from annoyed to soothing. It reminds him of how he’d talk to Dru when she was at her barmiest. “Come on, I’ll make us a snack. We can be whales together.”
… evil and wrong. Disgusting thing. He should beg Willow to end his pathetic existence. No, he shouldn’t bother someone as important as Willow. Bugger that, she was just the Slayer’s bleeding sidekick, she was, not some superpowered savior of Sunnydale. She….
Babies are crying. All of the babies. So many. Their blood is in his throat, and he’s choking, and he can’t scream…. He hands a baby to Dru. She steals another one from him. Cuts it right out. Blood on a tiny neck. Dru’s face covered in the stuff. So much blood. More than should be in one little sprog. He’s standing in a pile of them, all dead, but still crying….
… sick blood in his mouth, and he swallows it down, down, down. Takes his mum’s blood, drinks away her sickness and her life. But it’s okay, she’ll be okay. She has to be okay. She’s awake again, but she’s not Mum. Can’t be her. Wicked thing. Wretched thing, she is, to think… No, no, no. It’s all wro –
Pain, blessed, blessed pain. All he deserves, it is. Pain, pain, pain…. And the sprog was still crying….
Spike blinked and stared blankly as the wall for a moment. There was blood on it. Why was there…? And why did his head hurt so bloody much? He reached up to touch the part of his head radiating pain. Something sticky…. He brought his hand down. His head hurt so bloody much because it was bloody well bleeding. He stared back at the wall, then at his hand. Oh. Well, that explained things, didn’t it?
Another angry shriek sounded from above. Spike took a deep breath and turned towards the hole leading up to the main part of the crypt. Right. He could go out of his sodding mind later. Sprog needed tending at the mo’.
He went up and behind the sarcophagus where he’d stashed the sprog to keep her hidden. She’d messed herself again, and was probably hungry. Way she eats, might not be enough milk to last ‘til sundown, he thought as he picked her up.
He put her on the stone lid to be cleaned up and changed, keeping his thoughts focused on what he was doing. He couldn’t let himself think. He felt like he was being held together by bubblegum and half-rotted duct tape. If he let himself think, he’d fall apart, and he couldn’t do that right now.
Evil. Bad. Wrong. Use one of the spit up rags to wipe away the blood from his head wound, then unwrap the warm little body and set aside the strange, warmth-radiating amulet. Like a packaged little meal, she is. Not fully human. You can eat her right up, like the monstrous beast you are. Peel open the sticky tabs and pull back the front of the soiled nappy. Worthless thing, is all you are. All the death and misery. All the families left bereft. None of that, now. Had to make his girl comfortable. Use the wipes, get her all cleaned up. Muscle memory knew what he was doing even if his mind didn’t, despite all of the day’s practice. Made it a bit hard to keep said mind occupied, though, didn’t it?
He managed to get her changed and wrapped back up without any sort of mental breakdown, which honestly felt like a minor miracle. Then he settled the still fussing infant back into her car seat while he got her bottle ready. Come on now, mate, you can do this, he told himself as his thoughts started to wander. Steady on. Focus. Stir up the milk in the jar to get rid of any hot spots and pour.
Can’t even bloody well do that right, he thought with a curse as a little of it splashed onto his hand instead of going into the bottle. He licked up the spill. More watery than cow. Sweet. Milky flavor mixed in with a taste like how the Slayer smelled. Her essence distilled into liquid form.
She moans and buries her hand in his hair, pushing him closer as his tongue curls around her hardening nub of flesh. He takes her in deeper, mouth and tongue expertly working her like a pinprick wound, drawing out her essence. It’s like squeezing out a sponge rather than the stream from a puncture. He drinks it down, the sweet twin to the elixir flowing through her veins. A precious gift.
Spike had actually swallowed a small mouthful of the sprog’s feed before he came back to his senses. Selfish, greedy wanker, he thought in disgust, filling the bottle and putting the lid on the jar with more force than necessary. He put it back in the refrigerator and screwed the top back onto the bottle. Considering how sweet it was, he had pretty much just taken candy from a baby. Not even Angelus would stoop that low.
He could still taste the milk, the flavor lingering on his tongue and reminding him that the sprog wasn’t the only one in need of some grub. He sighed and opened the refrigerator again, this time pulling out one of the jars of blood and getting it going in the microwave. While it heated, he scooped up his little girl and gave her the bottle.
Feeding a sprog didn’t exactly take a lot of brainpower. Bit like knitting, it was. Something that occupied the hands and left thoughts free to chase each other about. They started to creep in, all those thinky thoughts did. Morality and guilt. Did the guilt serve any real purpose beyond “do that again, and you’ll feel even more like utter crap”? Could he ever be forgiven for all that he’d done?
“Am I to go to Hell, then, Mother?” he asks anxiously. Naughty little boys were sent to Hell – most likely after a right proper caning and no supper, he expected – and he’s been quite naughty.
Mother chuckles and wipes away his tears. “Fret not, my sweet little William. God forgives all who ask with a sincere heart, even little boys who wander the house with muddy shoes.”
Was she watching over him right now, up in Heaven? Had she seen all his horrible, evil deeds? Was she ashamed? He stared down at the baby in his arms. So sweet and innocent. How would he feel if she went all over evil? It… hurt, thinking of that. Was that how his mum felt? A sort of hollow ball of pain in her chest? He deserved eternal damnation just for that…. Except he was fairly certain his mother wouldn’t want him damned. Could his sins be forgiven?
God forgave all who asked with a sincere heart…. He hadn’t the right to ask, not for himself, and he knew it. But for Mother? For his girl, who was gazing back at him like he was her entire world? The fires of hell were easy. He didn’t have to do anything to get chucked there when he finally shuffled off good and proper.
The other, though…. That would take work. None of that “making amends” bollocks Angel was always on about. You couldn’t do that, cash in lives saved against lives taken as if it were some kind of currency. You just had to sincerely repent. So simple, and yet so hard. He just had to…
The microwave beeped, startling Spike enough that he nearly dropped the sprog. Bloody hell. Sodding piece of machinery. He snarled at it, fangs sliding down in response to his anger. And that, of course, was when the crypt door was kicked open and Buffy strode in.