Rating: PG-13 for language
Length: ~1,300 words
Timeline: S5, after Checkpoint but before Crush.
Warnings: Ranks a 10 on the fluffometer scale
Summary: “What,” the slayer said in tones of abject bewilderment, “is going on here?”
Notes: Thanks go to bewilde for the beta and for suggesting the set up. True to form, I have not completed my story /o\ but I have not-completed it early enough that there will certainly be more for the free-for-all days \o/ Title from I Bet My Life by Imagine Dragons – my happy Spuffy anthem. Any suggestions, anecdotes or funny stories that I can work into future parts, you are more than welcome to share ;) With thanks to my husband, who is nowhere near as inept as Spike, but who provided much of the inspiration for this story nonetheless! Feedback makes my baby sleep longer ;)
Spike was having an out-of-body experience. That had to be it. He could just picture the scene, as if he weren’t even in it – French Farce style, him and Joyce at the kitchen island while Scoobies peeped in from various doors, ooh-la-la!
The strident tone in Xander’s voice brought him back to himself with all the annoyance of an elastic band twanging against his skin. Usually, he quite enjoyed that particular fish-eyed look on the gormless tosspot, but just now it was grating on his last nerve.
“What?” he snapped.
“Spike!” Boy Wonderless said again. “You have a baby!”
Spike glanced down at said baby, who was wriggling in his grasp and making a fair bid for freedom.
“Well done,” he said, juggling the kid to free one of his hands. “Now what do we call this?”
“Spike!” This time it was Joyce, in tones of motherly disapproval. Too late, he spotted the little bit sidling in. He mentally stamped on the urge to apologise.
“Why do you have a baby?” Xander squawked, eyes still goggling at him like the catch of the day. He seemed to gather himself. “This better not be for some—”
“Oh my god, he’s so cute!” Dawn squealed in the approximate pitch of a dog whistle. Spike winced, but saved the withering scorn for those bigger and uglier.
“Will you relax,” he said, rolling his eyes at Xander. “Slayer trusted me with her family, remember? Happened just last week, recent enough for even your pea-sized brain to recall. Hardly a stretch that someone else would do the same, now, is it?”
He tried to carry it off with bravado, he really did, but honestly it sounded as ridiculous to him as it clearly did to Admiral Ackbar over there. Although…
“You left Evil Dead in charge of your family?”
…maybe the unexplained baby wasn’t top of his list of lack-wittedness after all.
“Oh, yeah,” Dawn said. “It was totally lame. His crypt doesn’t even have any dead bodies.”
Enter the slayer, stage left.
“I, uh,” Buffy stuttered. Maybe even flapped a little. “Well, I… Glory! And the Council!”
“Buffy!” Xander flailed his arms between her and Spike in an uncoordinated show of buffoonish disapproval. “Evil dead!”
“Used that one already,” Dawn said helpfully.
“Dawn, shut up. Let’s focus on the pertinent,” —Spike raised his eyebrows at the prim language— “issue here,” Buffy said. “Spike, why do you have a baby, and who does it belong to?”
“He, Slayer. Not it.”
“Xander,” she said sweetly, without breaking eye-contact with Spike. “Take the little bundle of joy, will you? I’ve got a nose to punch.”
“Oh that’s just…” Spike sputtered indignantly. “Try and inject some manners into the conversation and this is what I—”
Buffy hefted her stake and gave him a please continue, I’m dying for a good slay look, and to his utter horror, Spike found himself stepping back protectively, half-turning to shield the little tyke with his shoulder.
“Oh… fuck,” he muttered to himself, eyes going to the ceiling before he closed them in hopelessness, veneer of cool not only cracked but washed away in a tsunami of perverse and contrary instinct.
Buffy’s stare moved from him to the baby and back again.
“What,” the slayer said in tones of abject bewilderment, “is going on here?”
Two days earlier…
“His name’s Tommy,” Buffy said.
Except… she wasn’t Buffy. Not quite. Or maybe more so. Spike shook himself mentally to clear the confusion. That was the trouble with time travel. The harder you thought about it, the less sense it made. In front of him was a version of Buffy from some indeterminate time in the future; he’d just accept it for now, however weird it had been walking into his crypt earlier that night to find her sitting there easy as you please in his comfy chair with a lump of tiny human attached to her breast.
“Hilfiger?” he said, giving the ole unaffected sarcasm routine while he tried to size things up.
Weirdly, the slayer didn’t seem to be buying it. She rolled her eyes. “Summers.”
“Oh, very modern.”
“Not really. It’s just that my husband’s name is really dumb.” There was a gleam in her eye like this was some sort of joke. A shared joke. He focussed on the weirdness that was as-yet unknown shared-jokes with a time-travelling slayer instead of the awful churning jealousy at the fact she’d not only got hitched, but apparently been happy enough with that state of affairs to pop out a sprog as well.
“You still know me, in the future,” he said, puzzling it out. “I’m still around.”
“Of course you are,” she said, and the gleam turned a little soft. It was entrancing. “We both know you don’t leave.”
“And we’re…?” He braced himself for the putdown, but couldn’t help the rising hope.
“Friends,” she said, smiling gently. “Very good friends.”
“Oh,” he said, unsure if he felt relieved or disappointed. “Well, good.” The former, he decided. It was… it was a crumb, wasn’t it? He had to think so. In a few short years, by the look of her, he’d be in Buffy’s life, trusted, openly claimed in friendship and left in charge of her kid. Mother and sister was one thing, but kid trumped them both, right? Oh, and sharing jokes about her undoubtedly shit-for-brains fellow. That sounded… well, for an optimist like him, it actually sounded pretty promising.
“So you think you can do this?” she asked.
Spike eyed the baby. He was sleeping. Babies did that a lot, he thought he’d heard. Brat didn’t look very old, three months maybe. They didn’t need much at that age, did they? Basic requirements, eat, sleep, shit. More importantly, Buffy was asking. Was looking at him like that, and asking.
“I know, I know,” she said, looking amused at his hesitation. “It’s a whole boatload of manly responsibility to come flying out of nowhere.”
“What, you think I don’t listen to you?”
“Well, yeah, actually.”
She just smirked. “You did great with Mom and Dawn. And…” she sobered. “It’s still true; you’re the only one strong enough to protect him. My baby’s in danger, Spike. I need your help.”
Right, right, the future-baddies who were after the spawn for some nefarious reason of their own. Might’ve sounded like fun, not too long ago. Kind of still did. Which begged the question, “Why this me, pet? If I’m still around in your time, why go to the trouble of coming back to now?”
She shrugged, but there was something a little shifty in her expression. “You told me this had happened, so it has to happen again.”
“And you… trusted me?”
Well that was…
What else could he say?
“So how much you going to pay me for my serv—”
“Joking! Just joking, Slayer. Fine, you’ve got yourself one vamp babysitter. Gratis,” he added, in case she hadn’t caught on to the joking part. He wouldn’t put it past her to have a stake concealed on the baby.
Instead of the po-faced glare he was expecting, she smiled so big it transformed her face. He stood frozen to the spot, absorbing it like sunlight. “Thanks. I mean it.” Spike blinked, dazzled, and she was all business again. “So, I didn’t have time to grab many supplies, but there’s a few things in the bag over there.” She nodded to a tote with a sickeningly cute barnyard print. “The rest I figured you could get later. You know what a baby needs, right? Warmth, formula, diapers? I have to get back, the spell’s running out, but if you need help, ask my mom. In fact, even if you don’t, just… let her see him, okay?”
Oh. With an unexpected stab, he realised what that was all about.
Then, before he could say anything else, ask anything else, she plonked the baby on the seat of the armchair, and in a flash of green light, she was gone.