TUESDAY, BLOODY TUESDAY
Disclaimer: Joss is the boss.
Summary: To protect Dawn Willow transfers her keyness into Spike. Hijinks ensue.
A/N: Many thanks to reddygirl and deborahw37 for beta reading and to enigmaticblues for maintaining this project.
Part 1: Tuesday, May 1, 2001
"I always knew that the end of the world would be Spike's fault." Buffy knitted her brow. "Four fluid drachms? How much is that?"
"About one table-spoon."
"Great. Just great. Did I get you right, Willow? One table-spoon of Spike's blood is spilled - and the world ends? Now I know that today is Tuesday."
Willow shrugged apologetically.
"I thought it would be the best option - to transfer Dawn's keyness into Spike. Glory is sure he's not the one she needs, she won't touch him again. Dawn is saved. The world is saved. All we have to do is to keep Spike out of trouble."
"You mean - *I* have to keep him out of trouble!" Buffy groaned. "Because, honestly, I can't picture Willow Rosenberg saving Spike from his daily dose of trouble in Willy's bar for the next five days."
Willow dropped her eyes and clasped her hands. Buffy felt a sense of dread slowly creeping into her stomach.
"Spike will be the Key just the next five days that remain until the time of the ritual, won't he?"
Willow ducked her head.
"Will? Is there something you're not telling me? Like Spike's aggressiveness increasing tenfold after your spell? Or that Spike's blood will keep the ability to open portals forever?"
Willow gave her a furtive glance.
"Not forever, definitely... but... but... the next six... um..."
"You see, Buffy, the problem is in the spell's magic dependence on constellations positions and their activity. As soon as Capricorn acquires the domineering position..."
Willow's babbling prepared Buffy for the worst.
"Will? Just tell me."
Willow ducked her head.
"Actually, just six months."
"What?! I have to babysit Spike for six months?"
"Or you can dust him."
"No!" Buffy exclaimed vehemently. "It's out of question! Because he... because it's wrong." She sighed. "Hopefully this idiot won't be rushing in every fight now, when he knows that his blood can unleash an apocalypse."
Willow looked utterly uncomfortable.
"Um, Buffy... he doesn't".
"I thought it would be better if nobody knows." Willow looked around to check if anybody in the Magic Box was listening to them. Nobody was. Anya was in the back room. Xander and Giles haven't arrived yet. Still, Willow lowered her voice, just in case. "The less they know the safer they are."
"And Spike? How could he not notice that he became the Key?"
"He was dead drunk in his crypt. I brought Dawn there to hide her. When she went asleep I tried the spell - and it worked!"
"But Spike ought to know..."
"But, you know, Spike's tongue..." Willow made a vague gesture.
Buffy's eyes narrowed.
"What about Spike's tongue?" she said defensively.
"I mean - he's a terrible yap. Especially after a bottle of brandy. I think we should keep it between us".
It's not that easy to keep an undead evil bloodsucker safe. First of all, you have to keep him close. Close as in "close friend". Someone who's always around.
As soon as Xander arrived at Magic Box, Buffy revealed to him her brilliant idea to accept Spike in the Scooby gang.
"You must be kidding, Buff."
"Why? Because he's a vampire?"
"No. Well yes, that too. But mostly because he tried to kill us. Repeatedly. And I'm not the suicidal kind."
Buffy looked at Anya expectantly. After all, she was a former demon who was now one of them. Anya murmured something about good girlfriends always supporting their boyfriends. Resigned, Buffy dragged Willow to the training room to strategize their next move.
"I'll handle him, just play along," Willow said. "It's good that Anya sticks to him - as soon as Xan agrees we'll have two people in our camp."
"I wish I were so optimistic." Buffy sighed.
"It's not that hard," Willow smiled reassuringly. "You had to listen attentively at Maggie Walsh' lectures. The modern male is the epitome of insecurities and all you have to do is to play on them."
Sleeping through Maggie Walsh' class was a crucial mistake, Buffy realized a minute later. At Willow's request she broke a grip of the vaulting horse; they asked Xander to fix it and, while he was working on the grip, Willow was working on him.
"I can't believe you're so full of racial prejudices, Xan".
Xander blinked nervously.
"You refuse to accept Spike because he's a vampire."
"Um, Will... he's a killer."
"He was. But he has withstood Glory's torture to protect Dawn. We should encourage his desire to be a better man."
"He did it to get into Buffy's pan... I mean - Buffy's heart. He doesn't give a damn about anything else."
Willow furrowed her brows.
"You're wrong! His big bad persona in just a facade. He's really shy and insecure. He was so embarrassed when he couldn't bite me because of the chip!"
"Poor thing. I can feel his pain."
"Um, bad example. But he - he helped us with the Initiative...
"...tried to lure us into Adam's trap..."
"...he cares about Dawn and he loved Joyce..."
"Oh, yeah, he's a perfect family man. Sometimes I wish you'd live with him in the same room for several days. Listening to his barbs. Having to tie him up every evening when you go to bed. Trying to sleep when you know what he can do to you if you leave him untied..."
Willow looked at him with sympathy.
"Sorry," she murmured. "I didn't realize... Sometimes I'm so thick."
"No probs, Will. I..."
"If I knew you were sexually attracted to Spike, I'd never bring up this subject. I'm so sorry!"
"What?" Xander gasped.
"Relax, we won't tell Anya - will we, Buffy?" Willow smiled indulgently and went on. "It's your private affair, you should make your decision by yourself..."
"I'm not sexually attracted to Spike!" Xander cried indignantly.
"Sweetie, don't get worked up." Willow hugged him. "There is nothing to be ashamed of. I also went through the phase of doubt when I questioned my sexual orientation, but eventually..."
"Willow, do you hear what I'm saying? I'm not sexually attracted to Spike! Buffy, tell her!"
Buffy smiled sweetly. "You were drooling when you were talking about tying him up."
"OK, I give up. I'll try to tolerate the Bleached Pest in our company - but only to prove you that I'm not, repeat, not attracted to him!"
After witnessing Willow's brilliance Buffy felt stupid and inadequate when she cornered Giles in her kitchen later, when he came to visit her at home.
"I want to talk with you about Spike," she murmured, avoiding his gaze. "I... I think we should accept him in our team. We must give him a chance to be a good man."
Giles started polishing his glasses.
"Spike helps us. And he is the strongest warrior in the team..."
"But he is not in the team. Last year I tried to convince him to join us. He mocked and insulted me."
"He has changed! He was ready to die in Glory's hands. He really loves Dawn..."
Buffy bit her tongue as her little sister entered the kitchen. Talk of the devil.
"I mean he cares about her," Buffy mumbled.
"But he doesn't have a soul," Giles countered. "He's dangerous and unpredictable. I don't understand why you suddenly changed your opinion on him."
Dawn was contemplating them with her patented "all-grown-ups-are-idiots" grin.
"Isn't it obvious?" she inquired contemptuously. "She's totally into him."
"What?" Buffy and Giles exclaimed, appalled.
Dawn snorted, grabbed a bag of chips and left the kitchen without another word.
"I'm so not into Sp..." Buffy bit her tongue. Giles was looking at her weirdly. She signed and muttered through clenched teeth. "I... I mean, it's very complicated..." She blushed. "People... working together... feelings develop."
"I need a drink."
"Milk or juice?"
Luckily there was a half-full bottle of whiskey in the cabinet and Giles gulped down several shots in a row.
"I should have noticed it before." He sighed. "The way you two always butt heads... Do you try to find traces of Angel in him?"
"What?" Buffy shook her head vehemently. "A world of no!"
"Stockholm syndrome, then?"
"Do Stockholm citizens usually fall for their sworn enemies?"
"But you do realize he's an enemy, don't you?"
"Of course! I... I'm trying hard to squash my stupid and totally inappropriate feelings for an evil bloodsucker!" Buffy gave him an ingratiating smile. "But, as they say, the heart has a will of its own," she added hastily.
Giles took a swig from the bottle.
"Does Spike know?"
"No, of course not! And in no circumstances can he find out about it!"
Buffy hoped Giles didn't notice the notes of panic in her voice. Her Watcher frowned.
"But if he becomes a member of our team it will be much harder to keep your feelings in secret..."
"Not at all! All I need is to know that Spike is safe. And as soon as he joins our team, I start to regard him as a friend... I mean, he stops being a forbidden apple! And I'm sure that in the next six months I'll do away with my stupid obsession!"
Giles smiled wanly.
"So, you agree?" Buffy beamed and hugged her Watcher. "I knew you'd understand as soon as you find out that I fell for your compatriot. Yay sexy British men!"
Buffy didn't expect that Spike would be this hard to convince.
"Are you daft, Slayer? They hate me! I'm sure Harris always carries a sharp stake with a tag "To Spike with love" in his pocket. Red witch looks at me funny. And your Watcher..."
"You're absolutely wrong! After the incident with Glory they... they started to appreciate you. I overheard a conversation between Willow and Xander, and they were praising you..."
"I swear! We all want to encourage your desire to be a better man."
Buffy looked at him expectantly.
"But I don't want to be a better man, Slayer! I'm evil!"
"No, you're not. You want to be good because you want to please me. Don't you want to make me happy?"
Spike leered. "I know a lot of different ways to make a girl happy".
Buffy clenched her fists... and slowly unclenched them.
"Spike," she said as calmly as she could. "I need you there in Bronze with us. I can't leave Dawn home alone so I take her with me. I need you to protect her if something happens to me. Is it too much to ask?"
Something changed in Spike's eyes.
"Could you say right away it's about Nibblet?" he snapped. "Of course, I'll go".
"And be nice to my friends."
"I knew it! I knew that you made up this crap about your oh-so-friendly friends to make me come!"
"There is a lot of other ways to make you come..." Buffy gulped. "I can't believe I said that!"
That stupid slip of the tongue disturbed and confused her for the rest of the day. Should she warn Spike that he absolutely couldn't mention it or she'd break his nose? Should she pretend it didn't happen? Buffy hardly responded to Dawn's prattling about the Bronze and dancing and feeling very adult. And about Spike. Something clenched inside Buffy every time Dawn mentioned his stupid name.
And, of course, when they arrived at Bronze, Spike was already there, nursing his drink and ogling all those skanky hos who were happy to show off their amenities to an evil undead. Buffy looked at him appreciatively. Hard to say what was on his evil undead mind, but he was clad in white sweater that hugged his torso tightly. Something twitched inside Buffy. He looked so yummy... and so vulnerable.
Dawn smiled. "Wow, Spike. You look so nice today. And - you roll your eyes exactly like my sister."
Buffy could swear she saw amber sparkles in Spike's eyes. She noticed Xander and Anya entering the Bronze and, arm in arm with Spike she led him to her friends.
"Hi, Anya, hi, Xander!" she exclaimed with exaggerated cheerfulness and shot a warning glance at Xander.. "Um... Spike is helping me look after Dawn. So, he's with us today."
Buffy nudged Spike in the side.
"Hi, Anya, hi, whelp... I mean, hi, Harris," vampire said nervously.
Xander gulped and stepped behind Anya.
"Hi, Spike," he murmured, hiding his eyes.
The vampire arched his brow.
"Xander has got weird ideas about you," Anya said brightly. "He asked me if a male demon's anatomy..."
"You may ask me directly, Harris!"
Buffy tensed. The situation was on the verge of disaster. She had to do something to avoid a fistfight and blood-spilling. Spike's blood spilling. The only way to save the world was to...
"Spike, let's dance!"
Dancing with Spike was easy. Buffy felt his hand on the small of her back and it was strangely comforting. Damn. She shouldn't relax. She must think about her mission - to protect Spike from blood-spilling. To achieve this goal, she could invite him to dinner... take him to the movies... or have a DVD marathon at her home. They could watch something nice and sweet. As a "Passions"-lover, Spike would support her and Willow's choice of something romantic against another Xander's stupid action movie. Who needs a film titled "Apocalypse Now" when they have them on a daily basis in real life...
Buffy jumped nervously at Spike's question.
"Why have you suddenly started caring about me?"
Buffy frowned. She had to think quick or...
"Willow hacked your robot's programming and discovered that Dawn's safety was its top priority," she mumbled. "That was quite a revelation. Really".
Spike nodded, seemingly accepting her half-truth. Buffy wisely decided to change the topic.
"Why did you dress your robot in a rose top and a white pleated skirt? If I were you, I'd choose black leather pants or something like that."
"It would be a crime to deprive you of your leather pants, Slayer!"
"Not necessarily mine. You could take *any* leather pants."
"You don't understand, do you?"
She shook her head. Spike bent to her ear and purred.
"Ewww!" Buffy made a wry face. "Gross, Spike!"
"What else has Willow discovered? Have you girls checked my sex programs?"
Buffy blushed furiously. Actually, she urged Willow to check the bot's folders marked "Make Spike Happy" and they watched, fascinated, video records filed under "kissing01," "kissing02," "positions01," "positions02," and up to "positions05", until they were interrupted by Dawn who returned from school. She enquired why Buffy looked flushed and excited; Buffy stammered something about going to Bronze and having fun. So here she was, having it in full measure...
"You're pig, Spike!"
He laughed, delighted.
"Meaning you checked them!"
Buffy mentally hit his nose and kicked him in the groin. She contemplated the picture. Yes, nobody looks as beautiful beaten up as Spike does. Pity she can't do it for real and has to limit herself to verbal sparring. Speaking of...
"Position number three is absolutely ridiculous," she said gleefully. "Did you really give your bot oral sex? Because the bot's camera registered only the crypt's ceiling and your grunting."
Spike coughed, a bit embarrassed.
"Pretty soulless things like Buffybot also need a bit of fun in their lives."
Buffy felt his eyes on her and her whole body, strangely electrified, started working separately from her brain.
"Is it an allusion to another pretty soulless thing?" she asked innocently and touched his lips with her fingers. His tongue immediately curled around her index finger and her knees went weak.
"Summers, you are evil."
"Shut up," she whispered and decided that closing his mouth with a kiss is the only right option. The music throbbed in her ears and between her legs; the floor became unsteady; she soared higher and higher... until a powerful jolt ripped Spike out of her embrace and sent him sprawling on the floor.
"What the bleeding hell is happening to me?" he shouted, contorting in pain, as streams of white light poured into his eyes and mouth.
Buffy gasped. She has already seen this process once when Willow re-ensouled Angel.
"Damn," Buffy sighed. "I should have kissed Spike three years ago. He'd get his soul much, much earlier and save me a lot of trouble."
...When Buffy dragged Spike to the dance floor, Anya contemplated them pensively for a while.
"Are we sure she's not a Buffybot?" she asked finally.
"Nope, she's just totally into Spike," Dawn explained helpfully.
Xander choked over his beer. Anya patted him on his back.
"Don't worry, honey, Spike matches her more than he matches you," she said. "Vampires and Slayers have similar libidos. And humans aren't able to perform on their level."
"Anya, please! Could we not talk about libidos in Dawn's presence? Dawn, wouldn't you... Dawn? Where is Dawn?"
"I'm not here," she hissed from under the table. "I'm at the other end of the universe!"
Xander jumped up, took a fighting stance and looked around in search of Glory or her minions.
"What happened?" Anya asked Dawn. "Have you noticed Glory?"
"Worse!" Dawn whimpered. "Our school counselor is here. If she sees me in the Bronze, I'm dead. I shirked my lessons yesterday and... Oh, crap, she's coming right here!"
A beautiful dark-haired woman approached their table.
"Hallie, honey!" Anya exclaimed. "What a nice surprise! Xander, meet my best friend Halfrek. Hallie, meet Alexander Harris, my boyfriend. What brought you in our town, Hallie?"
Halfrek gave them an amused smile.
"I work here. I'm a counselor in the school where your young companion studies."
"What companion?" Xander asked defensively.
"The girl who's hiding under the table, Dawn Summers."
Dawn scrambled out of her hiding place, flushed and angry.
"I wasn't hiding," she declared. "I lost my... my... hairpin. And I totally didn't shirk my lessons yesterday - I was studying in the library..."
"That's OK, sweetie," Anya said. "Hallie won't harm you. She is a justice demon. She helps children to revenge on the people who hurt them."
"Oh, really?" Dawn froze, thinking hard. "And when you say "people" you mean humans or all intelligent species in this universe?"
Halfrek winked at her.
"Technically we service humans, but there are many loopholes in our rules".
"OK," Dawn said. "There is an evil God who did a lot of harm to me and my family. Can I avenge myself?"
Halfrek clapped her hands.
"You have great potential, Dawn," she said. "Challenging a God in such young age! Are you sure you want to punish a God? Maybe you'd start with something less ambitious?"
"No, thanks," Dawn narrowed her eyes. "I wish that evil God Glory was destroyed right now, once and forever."
Dawn looked around. Xander was tense, Anya smiled contentedly, on the dance-floor Buffy was making out with Spike. Nothing changed.
"That's it?" she asked incredulously.
"Evil God Glory is destroyed," she said.
"Um... How can we be sure it's true?" Xander asked.
"She will never bother you anymore."
"Cool," Dawn said. "I wish Buffy and Spike would get married."
"No-no-no-no-no-no-no!" Xander protested. "Halfrek, don't grant that wish!"
"They're so cute together. And Spike is cool. Why can't they marry?"
"There are many reasons," Xander said. "First, they're sworn enemies".
"Look at them."
"Second, he is a killer," Xander continued.
"She's a killer too. She kills them, they kill us."
"Third, he doesn't have a soul."
"He has a chip. Same diff. So, I wish..."
"No!" Xander exclaimed. "Dawn you can't... You can't strip Buffy of her free will! It's unfair. She should decide herself."
Dawn pointed at her sister who was devouring Spike with a kiss.
"She already has."
"Sex doesn't necessarily mean marriage," Anya countered. "For example, Xander and I have had sex for almost two years, but he consistently dodges marriage so far..."
Dawn giggled and waved her hand to Willow who was heading to their table.
"What happened, Will?" Xander asked when he saw his friend's sad and upset face. Willow sighed.
"I'll tell you, but don't tell Buffy, OK? She had her share of grief. Remember Ben? The doctor in the hospital?"
"Of course," Dawn said. "He is so nice and friendly!"
"He was. He fell and died on the steps of Bronze several minutes ago. Ambulance took him away, but I heard them saying it was too late."
"How horrible," Dawn exclaimed.
"Maybe he saw Buffy sucking Spike's face and had a stroke?" Xander suggested.
Willow was thoroughly shocked.
"What do you mean - Buffy sucking Spike's face?"
Xander nodded towards the dance floor. Willow's eyes grew very big when she saw her best friend in vampire's embrace. Dawn snorted and turned to Halfrek.
"All genies always grant three wishes. So I reckon I have another two. I want Buffy to be with Spike. And don't listen to Xander - he's not a child anymore so his opinion doesn't matter."
"Dawnie, what do you mean - three wishes?" Willow asked, bewildered. Dawn smiled smugly.
"Halfrek is here to grant wishes to children. Specifically, me. She has already destroyed Glory..."
"That's what she says..." Dawn shrugged. "Now I want her to grant me two more wishes".
"But Dawnie, you can't decide for other people! Do you remember how I wished that Buffy married Spike! It was wrong!"
Dawn looked unconvinced.
"I remember how they were making out in Giles' bedroom. That was very... mmm... educational. Education is good, isn't it?"
"Pity we arrived too late," Anya said.
Xander gulped. Willow quickly turned the conversation to less dangerous topic.
"But, Dawnie, Buffy deserves better than a guy who can't walk in the sun, doesn't have papers, can't get a legal job and doesn't even have a soul!"
"Exactly!" Xander exclaimed. "If you want Buffy to be happy, why wouldn't you wish, for example, that she gets the guy she deserves?"
"I'm afraid it's not a vengeance wish," Anya said.
Halfrek smiled gleefully.
"Actually, giving somebody a partner he or she deserves may be one of the most cruel vengeance wishes ever. Are you sure you want to inflict it on your sister?"
"I only want Buffy to be happy. I can wish that our money problems were resolved so that Buffy could be happy with Spike. They deserve each other."
"Definitely a pair of lemons," Halfrek agreed with contempt.
'But... but..." Xander stammered. "Work, brain, work... Oh, yes! If you are so sure they deserve each other, then by wishing that Buffy gets a guy she deserves you'll automatically hook her with Spike!"
Dawn furrowed her brow, thinking it over.
"And Dawnie, please don't wish them to marry," Willow added. " Spike doesn't have papers, and marriage is hard without documents."
"I hope you won't trick me."
Halfrek looked insulted.
"I can't believe I'm wasting my time on these losers," she complained to Anya. "Dawn - if you don't want it..."
"No!" Dawn exclaimed. "I wish we don't have any more money problems and I wish Buffy gets the guy she deserves!"
With these words Halfrek wisely dissolved in the air while everybody was distracted by the sudden commotion on the dance floor where a guy in a white sweater suddenly lighted up like an electric bulb.
Part 2: Tuesday, October, 30, 2001
It was already past midnight, but Buffy continued patrolling the cemetery. Walking alone gave her a chance to think about her currently wonderful life, which, frankly, sucked big time.
Not that she could complain about anything. Glory had disappeared. Giles has convinced the Council to pay Buffy a neat monthly sum for her slaying duties. She returned at the university. Dawn's grades in school improved. Xander and Anya were preparing their wedding. Willow and Tara were happy. Spike had got a soul and she could stop worrying about his evil activities. Everything was OK.
Yet she was utterly miserable.
Of course, it was all Spike's fault. Every day his blood could end the world. Willow always kept her magic healing herbs at hand and even created a time cocoon to wrap Spike in is the case of emergence. But, so far, everything was going smoothly. Spike lived in her basement peacefully, was infuriatingly polite to everybody, especially her and steered clear of troubles. And her. He steadily avoided her company, which was quite a task, since they lived under the same roof, but this jerk persevered. And tomorrow his keyness would expire and she would lose the excuse to keep him safe and protected in her home.
It was unfair. She brought him, newly-souled, to Revello Drive when he was drowning in tears and snot. She put a roof over his head and blood in his mug. She chained him in the basement when he decided to have a walk in the sun. She even suggested giving him her blood - which was rejected flatly. And since that incident he visibly tensed every time she was around. And left the room before she could address to him.
Sometimes she even wondered if Dawn made the right call when she wished to ensoul him. Her friends were vague about details, although Anya explained that her friend, who helps children, did it at Dawn's request. "You don't want to know about justice demon's ways," Anya said when Buffy asked if there was anything else.
Anya was very happy nowadays. When Spike and Xander became friends, the former gave the latter a lot of useful tips about sex. Once Buffy overheard a bit of their conversation; her imagination created a vivid picture she couldn't get rid of all night long as she tossed and turned and fluffed up her pillows. How did it happen that Xander, the chairman of Spike-hate club, became Spike's bosom buddy? And how did it happen that she has been left out? That bleached jerk lives in her basement, helps Dawn with her homework, works with Willow on Latin translations, argues with Giles about Pink Floyd and Jefferson Airplane and clams up every time she tried to talk to him. "Yes, Slayer." "No, Slayer." "Sure, Slayer." "Whatever you say, Slayer."
Maybe patrolling together could get his fire back? The day after tomorrow Capricorn will take the domineering position or whatever it has to take to stop Spike's keyness. They would be able to spar again, and Spike always regarded sparring as erotic massage...
Buffy cursed as she stumbled over a dead body and almost fell. She recognized him - it was Warren, the guy who made the robot. Why the hell this idiot returned to Sunnydale? To be sucked dry by a vamp?
She heard a high-pitched scream and rushed to the bushes it came from. She arrived just in time to see a blonde vampire woman tearing into the jugular of another boy who thrashed and waved his hands helplessly.
"Hey, bitch," Buffy said. "Looks like your dinner doesn't appreciate your table manners."
The vampire raised her head and Buffy gasped.
The vampire hissed. Buffy frowned.
"Does anybody stay dead in this damn town?"
"When I kill you, you'll stay dead forever, horny slayer. Loitering about the cemetery, looking for vampires... Can't have Angel, can you?"
"Whatever you are, shut up," Buffy grumbled.
Darla hurled the boy aside and sprang on Buffy. She was incredibly quick, her attacks were a blur of motion. Buffy couldn't see her properly to understand what was wrong with her figure. She seemed chubbier, more massive than the slim schoolgirl Buffy remembered. And angrier. And meaner. Darla's vicious kick sent Buffy flying.
"Dru told me everything," vampire panted out. "How you stripped Angel of his soul. How you sent him to hell. How you stole her Spike... You destroy everything in your path... Ohhh!"
Buffy couldn't see her well - the vampire was hiding in the shadows. Darla seemed to sag, leaning against a tree, clutching at her suspiciously bloated body. Buffy rubbed her eyes and looked again. Darla was sliding down the tree trunk, groaning loudly, hands clasped to her protruding abdomen. Buffy couldn't miss the opportunity to strike back - she sprang to her feet, snatched out her stake and stuck it into Darla's chest.
"Hopefully third time's the charm," Buffy murmured as she shook dust off her hands. "It's the third time, isn't it? First she's been vamped by Master, then dusted by Angel and now...."
She fell silent because weird sound reached her ears. A meowing? Confused, Buffy groped blindly in the dark. Her fingers felt something warm and wet. And moving. And squealing. Curiosity won over disgust; Buffy picked up the creature, got out of the bushes and directed her steps to the streetlamp to inspect her discovery.
It turned out to be a baby - tiny and cute as a button.
"That's why Darla's stomach was so distended," Buffy surmised. "She ate a baby! I only don't understand how she could swallow the whole baby without chewing. No wonder she'd got belly-ache."
Willow heard loud voices downstairs and looked at her watch drowsily. Half past midnight. Great. Looks like another sleepless night. As she was getting out of her bed and putting on her clothes, she cursed again the day when she made a spell and transferred Dawn's keyness into Spike.
Of course, after that spell she couldn't refuse when Buffy asked her to relocate to her house to help with that delicate Spike problem. Friends help each other. Especially when your friend is dealing with a depressed newly-souled vampire who had to be watched 24\7, because he regularly tried to cut himself, and any successful attempt could bring the world's end.
But days of constant worry were in the past. Spike had adapted to his soul amazingly quickly, thanks to Dawn's steady stream of jokes and funny stories, Xander's movie marathons and research work Giles and Willow provided him with. Buffy was the only one who was cold and distant with Spike - obviously, her weird behavior in Bronze that fateful night when he had got his soul was a fluke. Or a spell. Since that day Buffy was visibly awkward around Spike. Every time Willow saw her fidgeting in his presence she wondered how hard it could be for a vampire slayer to live under the same roof with a vampire.
Thankfully tomorrow it will be over. Spike's keyness would expire and Buffy could have a normal life again. And maybe she wouldn't be so cranky about everything when Spike wasn't around. And they would have fun.
As Willow descended to the living room, she saw Dawn, Spike and Buffy who held a newborn baby in her hands.
"Willow, just look at him!" Dawn squealed. "Isn't he cute?"
"What happened?" Willow asked, bewildered. "Have you got a mystical instant pregnancy, Buffy?"
"As if!" Buffy snorted contemptuously. "It's Darla."
"Darla? Isn't she dead?"
"She is. Now. Hopefully. The bitch fed on Warren - the guy who made the robot. And almost killed Jonathan Levenson. And has eaten this baby."
Willow carefully took the tiny bundle out of Buffy's hands. She noticed that Spike was looking at baby intensely and sniffing at him.
"That baby doesn't look like he's been eaten," Willow said dubiously.
"Looks like she had swallowed him whole. Or mystically devoured him. She looked like a hippopotamus with her enormous gut."
"Darla had a big belly?" Spike asked, clearly concerned.
"Have a hard time accepting your great-grandmother's dusty ending?"
Spike ducked his head and went out; Dawn looked daggers at Buffy and followed him. Buffy dropped on the couch, exasperated.
"What's wrong with me, Will? Why they all hate me?"
"They don't hate you, Buffy. It's just... It's late, we're tired. Tomorrow everything will be OK."
"I hate this phrase," Buffy murmured. "Every time anybody says it all hell breaks loose."
The baby in Willow's hands started to cry.
"I'll handle him," she said. "Go to sleep, Buffy. You need rest."
Willow quickly magicked a bottle with baby formula, a diaper and a small rose blanket. When the baby stopped mewling and started sucking, Willow noticed Spike standing in the doorway.
"What do you plan to do with the baby?" he asked.
"To call the social services first thing in the morning." Willow shot a glance at Spike. "Why?"
The vampire looked uneasy.
"You know, Red, there is a lot of weird stuff happening in this town recently... I kiss Buffy and suddenly my soul is back. Buffy hates me but suddenly brings me to her house..."
"It's because you're a good guy now," Willow said quickly. Spike signed.
"Not the point. I mean - this baby. He smells... I know it sounds crazy, but he smells Darla and Angel in equal parts."
"What do you mean?" Willow whispered, confused. Spike arched his brow.
"I mean he has the smell of Darla and Angel's offspring."
"Buffy said Darla had a big belly," Willow murmured pensively. "You really think she was pregnant with Angel's child?"
"I don't know. Like I said, weird. Maybe you should make inquiries in your magic circles before calling social services."
Willow had never been the one who puts off till tomorrow what can be done today. As soon as baby got to sleep, she opened her notebook, ran the magic search engine and wrote "pregnant vampire" in the search box. Within a minute she was reading a thread on "Virtual Magic" forum about a heavily pregnant vampire woman who had visited a South American shaman several weeks ago. The members of the forum discussed the phenomenon in details; soon Willow knew that the father of the child also was a vampire; that shaman couldn't extract the baby out of woman's womb because it was mystically protected; and that the pregnant vampire set off to California.
Willow signed. Looks like her promise of better tomorrow was precipitate. She looked at her watch. 1 a.m. If she phones right now, Angel can make it just before dawn.
When Angel knocked on the door of Buffy's house it was Dawn who opened.
"Hi," she said unenthusiastically. "Buffy's still asleep."
"Actually, I..." Angel cautiously probed the air for the invisible barrier. There was none. "I came because Willow called me. She said it was urgent. And very important."
"Willow? Good. Steer clear of Buffy. She's as cranky as hell."
Dawn took off toward the kitchen. Angel entered the house, took a breath and choked over the bouquet of spicy smells. He followed the most disturbing one and descended to the basement. There he discovered Spike who slept, naked and barely covered with a flimsy bed sheet.
"Buffy..." Spike moaned in his sleep, touching himself in inappropriate places.
Angel's felt his blood boiling. In a blink he sprang on Spike and pressed him into the mattress. Spike's cot broke under their double weight and both vampires found themselves on the floor.
"What the hell are you doing here, Spike?" Angel roared. "Why are you sleeping naked in Buffy's basement?"
"Sod off, Peaches!"
"How have you penetrated Buffy's house?"
"I live here, you moron!"
"Stop lying to me!"
"What the hell is happening here?"
He looked up. Buffy stood at the top of the stairs, her hands crossed on her chest.
"Your bloody ex has broken my cot, luv" Spike murmured, squirming under Angel's weight. "He saw me sleeping naked and lost the last remnants of his brains."
"Shut up, you idiot!" Angel hissed. He looked at Buffy guiltily. "I'm sorry about the cot, but I had to secure you against his evil..." Angel made an involuntary movement with his crotch. "...deeds."
Buffy glared at him.
"Angel, get off Spike."
Angel obeyed reluctantly.
"Spike, are you OK? You're not bleeding?" Buffy helped him to his feet and felt his face, chest and abdomen. She was about to roam lower but Spike's cough stopped her.
"I'm OK, luv. Thanks for saving me from Mighty Poof."
Angel sighed, dejected.
"Does he really live here?"
"He does. And, before you ask, he has a soul, and he helps me, and would you, please, abstain from fighting him within the next 24 hours?"
"It's impossible," Spike said, pulling his jeans on. "Peaches and me - we always fight."
"Next time I'll lock you both in the basement. Naked. With a gallon of oil."
Spike gave her a suggestive leer. "Why wait for the next time? We can start right now. The Slayer can sell tickets to the greatest show on Earth."
Angel swung his fist at Spike, but Buffy quickly stepped in between them, a small rock of common sense in the ocean of imprudence.
"Angel, did you came only to save me from Spike? Or is there other business that brought you here?"
"I came because you asked me," Angel snapped.
"I asked you?!"
"Not you personally. Willow called and told me it's very important. But she said it wasn't something she could discuss over the phone. What's up?"
"I don't know what are you talking about." Buffy was genuinely surprised. "I'm going to wake up Will and ask her..."
"No need, Slayer," Spike said. "I think I know. It's about Angel's baby."
"My what?" Angel asked.
"Stop kidding, Spike," Buffy said.
"I'm serious! The baby you brought home yesterday - it's Angel's son."
Buffy frowned and felt the back of Spike's head. "Might be a concussion." Her fingers lingered on his curls. "My psych professor says that brain concussion may cause behavioral aberrations..."
Spike rolled his eyes.
"Now I know why you're so daft, Slayer. You've been hit on your head way too much... Ow!"
"Vampires can't have babies!"
Buffy looked around the room in search of somebody or something to punch. Nothing. Angel was drooling over the baby, Spike contemplated his sire with a smirk, Willow sat at the computer, Dawn was at Janice's. Finding nothing punchable, Buffy stared back at a freeze-frame of a very pregnant Darla on Willow's laptop.
They spent the whole day looking for clues how Darla could have conceived without, you know, doing the nasty with the father in question. Because Angel just couldn't have sex with Darla, couldn't he? Especially when she was in South America and he - in Los Angeles.
Angel kept a diplomatic silence. Willow checked every magic place online but couldn't find anything. The only useful tip they discovered were local surveillance systems. Willow hacked them and now was playing the tape of Darla's arrival on Sunnydale railway station. The vampire was visibly uncomfortable with her condition; she was wincing, clutching at her belly and obviously cursing.
"Can you add the sound?" Buffy asked.
Willow nodded. "I may run a magical sound enhancer."
Angel visibly squirmed. "Could we not add the sound?" he said hesitantly.
Spike snorted loudly. Buffy looked at Angel narrowly and finally accepted the inevitable.
"You... did it? With her?"
Angel dropped his eyes.
"It was just... It was a very dark time."
"You - what? - slept with her to lighten your dark time?"
"That's what he usually does," Spike murmured.
Buffy dropped on the couch and closed her face with her hands.
"I can't look at you. Take your baby and leave. The sun is already setting."
"You said you couldn't sleep with me but you could sleep with her all right! Why? Why does everybody hate me, avoid me, come up with a thousand lame excuses not to go shopping together, or not to have a dinner together, or not to go to the movies together..."
"Harry Potter" isn't my type of movie, pet," Spike said, embarrassed.
"Exactly. As though people go to the movies to watch movies. And on top of everything my ex, who left because he couldn't have sex with me, sleeps with his own sire and becomes a father! Can anybody imagine a girl in a worse situation?!"
Plomp! An arrow broke the window and stuck into the wall. A second arrow followed. And third one.
"Spike, down!" Buffy shrieked and rushed to him. "Are you OK? Steer clear of the windows! Willow, take the baby and go to the basement! Call Giles and Xander. Spike, you go with her."
"Are you daft? No way am I going to leave you!"
"Really, Buffy," Angel said. "As much as it pains me to admit it, Spike can help us."
Encouraged by Angel's support, Spike shoved him out of the way and, before Buffy could react, leaned out of the broken window.
"Hey, you, morons! If you are planning to attack us, you are making a terrible mistake! There are two master vampires in the house and they will kill anybody who is stupid enough to cross the threshold!"
"I know you're there, Angelus!" a voice replied. "We followed you. Come out and surrender! The house is surrounded!"
"Oops," Spike said and quickly resumed his position under the windowsill.
"Willow," Buffy called. "Can your shiny magic deal with these demons?"
Willow looked out of the basement door.
"They're human, Buffy. I feel them. And they are using very strong spells to protect themselves."
"The baby?" Angel whispered.
"He's safe," Willow looked down. "As long as they're outside, I can keep your baby under my protection."
Buffy crept to the window and looked out cautiously.
"Who the hell are you and why did you attack us?" she shouted to the invisible opponent.
"I'm Holtz the Vampire Hunter and I came for Angelus and his demon spawn!"
"You've got the wrong address," Buffy shouted. "I'm Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it's my house!"
She was answered with roaring laughter.
"I can't believe you're so stupid, Angelus! Using your victim to trick me and making her pose as a vampire slayer - how lame is that?"
"Listen, Mr. Holtz..." Buffy started.
"No, you listen, Angelus. I give you ten minutes to let the humans out. In ten minutes I'll burn the house with you, your spawn and whoever else stays inside."
"Can anybody imagine a girl in a worse situation," Spike murmured in a Buffy voice.
"Shut up, Spike," Buffy and Angel said in unison.
"We could take mom's car in the garage," Buffy suggested. "We break through the siege, go somewhere where you'll be safe..."
"Too risky," Angel whispered. "I bet the bastard has modern weapons. One grenade and we're all dead. I have to surrender. You'll hide the baby..."
"No way!" Buffy exclaimed. "We'll figure out something... Some diversion..."
They heard the entrance door opening. Buffy rushed into the hall just in time to see Spike's coat in the doorway before the door closed.
"Hey, you, moron," Spike shouted from the porch. "Leave Angel alone! He's a good guy now, saves puppies and helps old ladies to cross the street."
"He killed my family!" Holtz replied grimly. "He has to pay for it with his own."
"Oh, climb down from your cross! Find a shrink. Create a site. Name it "Angelus sucks big time". I can even send you a couple of compromising pics..."
"Son of a bitch," Angel whispered.
Buffy peeped through the crack in the door and saw a vague figure of a man with a crossbow in his hands. He was aiming at Spike's chest. There were several others behind him. They were also armed.
"Seriously, mate, get over yourself," Spike continued. "If you want to kill his family, start with me. I'm also Angelus' spawn. Even more than spawn. I'm... I'm his favorite childe, his best friend and his hottest lover! If he loses me, he loses everything!"
Buffy glared at Angel in disbelief.
"Spike is trying to get round him," Angel murmured, mortified.
"You won't fool me with fine words!" Holtz shouted. "My patience is over!"
Buffy saw his crossbow hovering and she sprang at the porch.
"You can't kill him, Mr. Holtz!" she screamed. "His blood will unleash the world's end!"
"What?" Holtz shouted.
"What?" Spike asked.
"You have to believe me," Buffy said hastily. "Spike is the Key. His blood opens interdimensional portals. If you shed a tablespoon of his blood, the apocalypse destroys everything on Earth. Do you want to end the world?"
Holtz's laugh dripped with contempt.
"Try another one, little girl. This tale is too improbable."
"It's the veritable solemn truth!" Spike assured him. "I'm the sodding Key. My blood unlocks sacred gates between worlds. A lock of my shiny hair grants any bloody wish you have. My cold dead seed may fill your wretched existence with unimaginable pleasures - Slayer, stop stomping on my feet!"
Holtz laughed again. Obviously he was having a blast.
"If you're so precious, why do you offer yourself as a sacrificial lamb?"
"Um... I have a death wish."
"Then I'm ready to fulfill it."
"No, please!" Buffy heard the door open behind her and saw Angel stepping out on the porch.
"Leave these people alone, Holtz," he said. "It's me you want. I'm all yours. You may kill me, or torture me or send me to hell - I don't care."
Holtz smiled darkly.
"If you don't care, what's the point? There is a better option - starting with the people who love you and want to protect you at any cost..."
"Noooooo!" Buffy screeched.
The bow-string sang its deadly song. Spike pushed Buffy away and she fell off the porch head over heels. She sprang to her feet, heard police siren wailing and saw Holtz and his men running away, followed by police cars. Then she noticed Spike who was laying on the ground with an arrow in his shoulder.
"Willow!" she shrieked. "Quickly! Where are your magic healing herbs and the time cocoon to wrap him in?"
"Drop the act, pet," Spike groaned. "They're already gone."
"Don't move." Buffy kneeled before him and put his head on her lap. "Hold on, Spike, just hold on." She cut her wrist and brought her hand to his lips. "Drink."
He shook his head.
"No, pet. I will be OK, really."
"Drink, moron! Don't make me dust you to avoid the end of the world!"
Spike looked at her in disbelief.
"You're serious? You really meant it, about the apocalypse, my blood, the Key... I'm the Key?! That's why you protected me all this time?"
He laughed bitterly.
"Spike, please," Buffy felt traitorous moisture in her eyes. "You have to believe me. I really care about you. Just drink..."
"Oh, sure. You care about the dangerous world-ending tool. You keep it protected in your sodding basement."
"Newsflash, Spike! Saving the world is more important than my love for you! I sent Angel to hell to save the world. No matter how I love you I have to do my duty... What?"
Both Angel and Spike were staring at her their mouths agape.
"What?" she repeated, suddenly embarrassed.
"You said you love this jerk," Angel murmured, disgusted.
"I did?.. Oh." Buffy blushed. "Oh. Oh, God." She looked around desperately. "Where is an apocalypse when you need it?"
"Yes, where is it?" Angel echoed.
Everything was quiet. Then they heard the sound of an approaching motor. Xander's car emerged out of the darkness, got parked on the curb, and Xander rushed to them.
"Are you OK? Did the police come?"
"You called the police?"
"Willow called and told me that a human psycho tried to kill you. I called the cops. Humans are their clients, aren't they?"
"I guess," Angel said slowly. "So, Buffy... what about the Apocalypse?"
"Apocalypse?" Xander snorted. "Is it May already?"
Willow squirmed on the couch in the living-room under Giles' indignant scrutiny. She looked back at Buffy in search of support, but Buffy was busy bandaging Spike's shoulder.
"Where are your calculations for the spell?"
Silently she found a file on her notebook and showed to Giles.
"Congratulations. Your spell didn't work. Thank God."
"It didn't work?" Willow smiled ruefully.
"The essence of violet got neutralized by the rats' eyes. These two components are unmixy in their pure state."
"You mean Spike wasn't the Key all these months?" Buffy gasped.
Giles sat down tiredly. "Willow, I wanted to talk to you about it for a long time. You can't go on like this. You have to learn to use magic properly."
"The spell didn't work," Buffy repeated dumbly.
"No, it didn't. The world still exists. Willow, tomorrow we leave for England. I’m taking you to the Coven to Ms. Harkness' class. Don't even try to argue with me."
"I won't," Willow ducked her head. "I mean I will go with you. I'm so sorry..."
"The spell didn't work," Buffy repeated again. "Spike wasn't the Key."
Spike winced as he put on a shirt.
"Yes, Slayer, I'm just a regular souled vampire. You can stop pretending you care about me."
"You're a regular souled idiot," Buffy murmured.
"You both are."
She turned around. Angel approached noiselessly and was standing behind her.
"You both smell of love and lust and frustration so strongly my head hurts in your presence."
"It's you she lusts after, Peaches," Spike said sullenly.
"No, Spike, it's you who lusts after him," Buffy snapped.
"Sure," Angel murmured sourly. "Today I happen to be the hottest vampire father in the universe." He gave them an appreciative glance. "Well, if you're at daggers-drawn with each other, maybe Spike would rather go with me to Los-Angeles? What do you say, Spike? I need a partner to fight the good fight."
"No way!" Buffy interjected. "There is a lot of good fight here. And I - I also need a partner! I mean..." She blushed furiously. "I mean - a partner for fighting the good..." She felt Spike's hand on her waist and timidly glanced at him. He looked at her with an unsure smile. "You vampires are so disgusting." A thought occurred to her. "So, you can smell when a girl feels, um... And - and all this time, when you lived in my house you could smell my..."
Spike hunched his shoulders.
"I'll dust you," Buffy murmured. "Slowly and painfully."
"You can't dust a vampire slowly," Angel reminded.
"I'll do my best."
Spike grinned and Buffy could swear that Angel grinned back. She kicked Spike in the shin and they went to see Angel off to his car.
"Drive carefully," Buffy warned as she put the cot with sleeping baby in it on the back seat and helped Angel to fasten it. "And don't forget to feed him every three hours. Where's the instruction list I wrote for you?"
Angel patted his breast pocket reassuringly. "I'll pass it to Cordy as soon as I'm there. She'll take care of everything. She's great. She's... What?"
"Since when do you call her Cordy?"
He averted her gaze. She snorted. "Can't believe it. You and Cordelia."
Angel shrugged. "You and Spike."
Buffy blushed. "That’s different! He has a soul..."
"Hey, standing right here," Spike said.
"Okay. I'm officially okay with Cordelia. Just don't let her boss you around. Or I'll come and slay her fashionable ass."
Angel smiled wistfully. "I promise I won't. And you don't let Spike get under your skin." He faltered. "No offense, but you don't know what you're getting yourself into."
"Want to enlighten her, Peaches?" Spike made a suggestive leer.
"Next time," Buffy said quickly, stepping between them. "You don't have time for that, Angel. You have to go now if you’re going to make it before dawn."
"Next time?" Spike arched his brow. "You're serious?"
"Yes, he should come more often. When he's around you become your normal self."
"You mean - my good old infuriating self?"
"Better than your newly brooding self." Buffy winked. "Angel, can you imagine Spike brooding?"
Angel shuddered. "Do you still want to lock us in your basement?" he asked.
"I'll lock myself in with you..." Off their incredulous glances she added quickly, "...as a ref."
"Next time don't forget to bring oil, Peaches," Spike said. "'And handcuffs. And a dildo for the lady... Ow!"
Buffy rubbed her hand and blushed. Yes, she definitely felt a wave of pleasant heat rushing through her body. They waved Angel good-bye and made their way into the house. In the living room Buffy glanced at the clock and resolutely tugged Spike upstairs.
It was already past midnight.
Tuesday was over.
Maybe Wednesday would be less sucktastic.