After putting the Penicillin in the fridge, Buffy joined the couple on the couch in front of the television. Oz leaned forward and picked a plastic bag off the floor and handed it to her. "What's this?"
"We figured we were staying overnight," Willow explained. "So we picked up some clothes and stuff for you and me while we were out. Oz had a change of clothes in the van."
"Spike told me once the couch in the upstairs sitting room folds out," Oz said. "And there's a trundle bed in the small bedroom."
"You guys don't have to stay," Buffy told them.
"We know," Willow replied. "But we want to. Plus, we get to play in this cool house."
Buffy looked around the large room, taking in the large entertainment center, shelves upon shelves of books, movies and CDs lining the surrounding walls. Two overstuffed couches, end tables, a coffee table and a rocking chair sat in front of the entertainment center. Plants, freestanding lamps and artwork decorated the great room. The several windows in the room were boarded over from the inside and a baby grand piano was sitting in front of black spray painted French doors. In one corner, she saw a toy chest with a wooden rocking horse near it. "I don't want to know how he got this house," she commented, thinking about the children's room she saw upstairs.
"He bought it for a hundred bucks," Oz said. Buffy looked at him as if he had grown two heads. "He met a guy in a bar whose wife and kid died in a car accident. The guy wanted to escape, but couldn't because of all the bills and the house, so Spike bought it from him and agreed to pay off all of his debts. I guess the two of them passed out here and when Spike got up the next night, the dude was gone only taking his clothes and photos."
"You're kidding," Buffy said. Oz shook his head no. "How in the world does he pay for it then, the bills and the mortgage and electricity and whatever else?"
"He's a hacker," Willow answered with a grin and an excited bounce. "He's way better than me, too."
"What did he do? Rob a bank online?"
"No," Oz replied. "What he did was ingenious, actually. He picked several overly large companies that make electronic business transactions daily, then routed one cent from random deposits to his own accounts set up all over the world."
"One cent? That's not very much," Buffy said.
"Multiply that one cent by the number of deposits made per day, then by the number of companies," Willow explained. "He's making close to $100,000 a day! I can't wait to go downstairs and check out his computer."
Buffy's mouth dropped open. "Wow." A loud knock sounded on the door, making her jump.
Oz rose to his feet and ambled to it.
"Pizza's here," Willow told her, standing as well to go to the kitchen to get napkins and drinks.
Oz returned with the pizza and set it on the coffee table, then joined Willow on the second couch. "Dig in," he instructed, opening the box.
After a few minutes of eating, Buffy looked thoughtfully at her friends. "You guys seem to know an awful lot about Spike."
"We're friends," Oz repeated the statement he made earlier.
"He called to ask a question and we got to talking," Oz answered Buffy. "He's cool."
"And Oz tells me stuff," Willow added, smiling at her boyfriend.
"I thought you told me stuff, too, Will," Buffy said.
"I promised Oz I wouldn't," Willow told her. "Spike's kind of a private person."
"Actually, the cat has already escaped the bag," Oz said.
"What?" Buffy asked, confused.
"You know that he loves you," Oz replied. "And his refrigerator seems to, as well."
Willow tittered and Buffy rolled her eyes. "Why would it be a big secret if you already knew because Willow knew that I knew that he loved me and boy that was a mouthful," Buffy said to Oz.
"Angel," Willow answered for the werewolf.
"Oh," Buffy said softly, eyes on the pizza in her hand.
"What are you going to do, Buffy?" Willow asked her best friend.
"I'm going to help Spike get better, then get to know him better," Buffy replied, taking a bite.
"How much better?" Willow said mischievously.
Buffy choked on her pizza. "Willow!"
Willow and Oz had disappeared into the basement to play with Spike's computer and the Slayer prowled around the house a few hours later. Buffy had gone to check up on the sick former vampire to find him sleeping peacefully, then cleaned up the remnants of dinner. Now she was standing in the smaller bedroom that had been set up for a child.
Her eyes lit on the toys in the room, the teddy bear wallpaper, the little table and chairs. The man who owned the house must have had a little girl because of the princess costume she'd found in the closet, the rest of the clothes being boxed up and on the floor in the large walk-in.
Buffy sat on the edge of the bed, her heart sad from the loss the man must have felt. Then, she lifted up her tank top and looked down at her belly. Growing in her womb was a child who would one day have a room like this. She put her hand over her lower abdomen, thinking about the tiny life inside of her. Her baby. Spike's baby.
Smiling softly, she stood and walked to the master bedroom. Spike lay on his stomach, the covers having been kicked down to his waist, the T-shirt he was wearing bunched under him. Buffy went over to the bed and sat, gently smoothing his sleep-tussled hair back from his forehead. She studied his peaceful features and thought back to the times she'd interacted with him the year before.
From the moment she had seen him in the school, she had known she'd met her match. He was as strong as her, if not more so, witty, sarcastic and full of life. She giggled quietly as she remembered how he told her he messed up her doilies. Then she recalled the look of panic and fear in his eyes when she held a stake to Drusilla's heart. The love he had for the vampiress had been true and real, making her doubt that vampires did not have souls.
Then came the day he asked for her help. To save the world and his princess. Granted, his motives were not sterling, but the fact he had come to his mortal enemy spake of his conviction to stopping Angel and his love of Drusilla. Buffy remembered feeling the tension walking back to her house with him, as if something was under her skin, itching to get out. At the time, she thought it was because what she really wanted to do was kill him. Now, she was not so sure.
Buffy had to admit that she did think of Spike every once in awhile after she had run away, then returned to Sunnydale. She wondered if he and Drusilla were the happy couple once more, if he did indeed leave the country as promised, if he knew of the sacrifice she made to save this world and his love.
Then he appeared drunk and heartbroken back in Sunnydale. He was pathetic and annoying and utterly infuriating. However, he spoke the truth about her and Angel, that they would love each other until they died, but could never be just friends. And he was right, she would always love Angel, she could just no longer be in love with him. Just like Spike would always love Drusilla, even though he now loved her.
Her mind lit upon something Oz told her earlier and she frowned. "August? But that would be before he came back hurting over Drusilla," she said to herself. Then she thought about what Willow had said about the Chaos Demon and the vampiress, and pieced together that perhaps Drusilla had turned to someone else because Spike had done so, whether he knew it or not.
Spike muttered something unintelligible in his sleep, shaking her from her memories. Buffy lightly traced his scar with her finger. "I guess you're dreams weren't that far off," she whispered. He stirred slightly and she stood, quickly leaving the room. She sat down on the couch in the sitting room, curling her feet under her and looking at the boarded up window.
*What am I going to do?* Buffy thought, one hand rubbing her lower abdomen gently. *Who ever heard of a pregnant Slayer? And what do I tell Spike? Or Angel? I don't think ‘hi honey, I got knocked up by the vampire turned human you loathe. Yes, I know you have to have sex to get pregnant.' I can see that going over well.*
She sighed, laying her head down on her arm. *Maybe I just won't say anything until I absolutely have to. My luck, I'll lose the child anyway from my slaying duties.* With that depressing thought, the Slayer drifted off to sleep.
Buffy woke when she heard Willow and Oz come up the stairs. "Hey, guys," she greeted groggily. "What time is it?"
"Ten," Willow answered. "We came up to get the beds ready." She frowned, not completely awake yet. "Beds? Sleeping? You know, that thing you do when you're tired?"
"Sleeping, got it," Buffy replied, swinging to her feet, then stopping. "Um, where are we doing this sleeping thing?"
"Will and I will take the kids's room, you can have the couch out here," Oz said. "It folds out. Still."
"Oh, right, you told me that already," Buffy said. "I'm gonna...go...and, uh, get Spike's medicine."
As she went down the stairs, Willow and Oz looked at each other. "What's up with Buffy?"
"I don't know," Willow replied. "Maybe she's been having serious thoughts. Sometimes that happens."
Buffy stared into the refrigerator, her mind a million miles away. She had been dreaming so vividly and it was distressing. It could have been a portent or just a nightmare. She was hoping it was the latter.
The images of the dream played out in her mind. Some man she'd never seen before going after Spike. Her shoving Spike out of the way, taking the knife that was intended for him. The pain and fear that she felt as she had curled into a ball, her arms wrapped around her swollen middle. Her telling Spike that she loved him, then everything going dark.
She was shaken out of her thoughts by the sudden hum of the refrigerator as the motor went on. Taking a deep breath, she grabbed the Penicillin then went back upstairs. "Spike," she said quietly, sitting on the edge of the bed while switching on the lamp. "Time to take your medicine."
Opening the bottle, she poured the pink liquid into the measuring cup, then set it on the night stand, accidentally knocking a book to the floor. Buffy ignored it for the moment and gently rubbed Spike's back, trying to wake him. "Spike, you need to wake up and take this."
"Mmpph," Spike moaned into the pillow, barely opening his eyes. His head felt as though it was detached from his body and everything was functioning really slow. "Buffy?"
"Hey," she said, still rubbing his back. "We need to get this medicine in you, ok?"
He sighed heavily as he turned over, the sheets and his shirt twisting around his body. "This is no fun," he mumbled as he slowly pushed himself into a semi-sitting position.
"I imagine it's not," Buffy told him, sliding the pillow behind him as he pushed himself up. She handed him the medicine. "Bottoms up."
Spike gave her a look which consisted little more than letting his head loll towards her, accepting the cup. He quickly downed the pink stuff, then handed it back to her. "That'll make me feel better soon, right?"
"Right," she grinned at the hopefulness in his voice. "It'll take a few days, though."
"Bloody hell," he sighed, closing his eyes for a moment.
Buffy's smile grew and she bent to get the book from the floor. "I think I lost your place," she said, picking up the book and the piece of paper that was acting as a bookmark. She turned it over in her hand. ‘To My Spike.' "What's this?"
"What's what, pet?" Spike asked, looking over at her.
Her eyes widened as she read the letter, then she quickly stuck it in the book. "What? Oh, nothing." She put the book back on the night stand, then gave him a fake grin. "So, uh, how are you feeling?"
Spike frowned. "Didn't we already cover that?"
"Oh, er...sorry," Buffy said. "My mind is...not all here."
"So I gathered," he replied. He grabbed the bottom of his shirt and tried to twist it back into place.
"Here," she said, taking the hem of his shirt. He arched up on his elbows, allowing her to straighten it out, then lightly patted his stomach. "There you go. All fixed."
"Thanks," Spike breathed, relaxing back on the pillow.
"Well, I'll let you get back to sleep," she said, straightening the rest of the sheets as she stood.
"No, don't," he stopped her, putting his hand on her arm. "Would you...stay. For just a bit. We can do that talking thing humans are so good at."
Buffy looked at the hopeful expression on his face and smiled genuinely, sitting back down on the bed with one leg tucked under her. "I can do that. In fact, talking is something I excel at, just ask my teachers."
Spike chuckled quietly. There was a knock on the open door and they both looked over to see Willow and Oz standing there. "Can we come in?" Willow asked. He nodded and the two came around to the other side of the bed and took a seat, the werewolf pulling the desk chair up to the side.
"Hey, man," Oz said to him. "You're looking...sick."
"Understatement, mate," Spike replied.
"Before I forget," Willow began. "You have a really cool computer. Wow, think of all the stuff I could do if I had that setup."
"Actually, that's kind of a scary thought," Oz joked. Willow wrinkled her nose at him.
"That's right, " Buffy said, looking at Spike. "I heard you were quite the hacker."
"Yeah, well," he blushed slightly. "I get bored."
"And cracking codes or breaking into top secret government files is always a fun challenge," Willow said. "Well, at least, it is for me."
"That's my juvenile delinquent," Oz said, squeezing her hand. "Although soon you won't be."
"Eighteen," Willow sighed. "I can't wait. I get to vote and-and do other stuff that legal adults can do."
"Luckily you're not me, or I'd tell you to try and avoid your birthday," Buffy said.
"Why's that, ducks?" Spike asked her.
"Buffy doesn't have very happy birthdays," Willow answered for the Slayer. "Things tend to go really bad for her."
"Not that bad," Buffy said. Willow and Oz looked at her. "Ok, so I haven't had the best past three birthdays, but all the ones before that were good."
"What made the last three bad?" Spike inquired.
"Let's see, for my sixteenth birthday I failed the driving test," Buffy said. "Well, I didn't even get to do the driving part."
"And on your seventeenth birthday, your surprise party was ruined by the Judge's arm," Willow continued. She turned to Oz. "That's the night you found out vampires existed."
"Yes, I seem to recall that," Oz said. "I also seem to recall that was the night our friendly neighborhood vampire became not so friendly."
Spike's eyes widened as he pieced together events in his mind from the year before. "You mean the great poofini lost his soul on your birthday?"
Buffy picked at an invisible thread on her knee. "Great gift, huh?" She looked up and glowered at him. "Of course, if someone hadn't been trying to rid the world of humanity, it wouldn't have happened."
Spike had the sense to look ashamed, but Willow came to his defense. "It still probably would have happened, Buffy," she said. "Just not necessarily on your birthday. You two were moving in that direction, remember? Carpe diem?"
Buffy sighed. "I know. And I've blamed myself enough for what happened. But, that's in the past and...it's in the past." She made a face. "Moving on to this year's fiasco."
"The powerless Slayer," Oz summarized.
"Powerless?" Spike asked.
"Buffy lost her super Slayer strength," Willow replied. "Well, not lost really. Just...misplaced."
Spike arched his eyebrow at Buffy, waiting for the story. "The pompous assess that make up the Watcher's Council have a test for Slayers when they turn eighteen. They take away what makes us the Chosen few, lock us in a house with some big, scary monster and say good luck."
He looked at her incredulously. "They sent you off to get killed?"
"Pretty much a big yes to that one," Buffy replied.
"But Buffy is one tough cookie," Willow said. "Like the ones they serve in the cafeteria."
"The bloody bastards," he growled. "I'll rip their hearts out."
"I don't think you're going anywhere, cowboy," Buffy said with a grin. "But thanks for the offer."
"Pillocks," Spike scowled. He closed his eyes as a wave of sickness washed over him, swallowing heavily.
"Want me to take you to the bathroom?" Buffy asked, noting his actions. He was going to say no, then thought better of it and nodded.
"We'll get out of your hair," Willow said, standing as Buffy helped Spike out of bed. "See you in the morning."
"‘Night Will, night Oz," Buffy replied. The couple left the bedroom as she led Spike slowly to the bathroom. The light from the small lamp was still glowing in the large room, and she had him lean against the sink as she laid the towel out on the floor again. "My mom use to do this for me," she said as she helped him onto the floor. "It was weird, but I always felt better laying on the bathroom floor when my stomach hurt."
Spike didn't reply, feeling nauseous. He sat in front of the toilet and rested his forehead on the rim. After a few minutes, the feeling went away and he laid down, the softness of the towel rubbing against his cheek. He closed his eyes and cursed having a human body.
"Spike, do you want me to stay?" Buffy asked quietly, sitting on her heels as she knelt by his head.
"Please," he whispered in reply.
"Ok," she said, changing her position so she was leaning up against the wall to the large bathtub. She listened as his breathing slowed shortly thereafter, evening out as he drifted back to sleep. As she did earlier, she lifted her shirt up, rolling it to expose her stomach, then unbuttoned her jeans. She laid one hand over the non-existent swell of her abdomen, trying to imagine a baby with bright, blue eyes. She smiled to herself as she looked over at Spike's sleeping form. "That's your daddy. He's a royal pain and was your mommy's enemy, but now he's your mommy's friend. Sort of. But maybe one day he'll be more."
Spike turned over in his sleep so he was now facing her and she let her eyes trace over his features. He snuggled against the towel, his hands coming to rest up near his face. She felt the wave of tenderness wash over her again. "Maybe one day he'll be more."
Spike came awake slowly, not too aware of his surroundings other than the fact that he wasn't in his bed. Opening his eyes, the first thing he focused on was Buffy laying a few feet from him by the tub wall, hand on her exposed stomach, sound asleep. He smiled at the sight, love bubbling up inside him rather than sickness. Pushing himself up into a sitting position, he rubbed a weary hand over his face, glad that he was feeling slightly better than he did the day before.
Loathing to wake Buffy after all she'd done for him, he shakily stood, grabbed his toothbrush and made his way out of the master bath and bedroom to the other bathroom. When he came out, he saw Oz standing there waiting, looking sleep tussled.
"Morning," Oz said, entering the bathroom after Spike vacated and closing the door behind him.
"Morning, Spike," Willow greeted, coming out of the other bedroom before he could take two steps. "How are you feeling?"
"Better than yesterday," he replied. He frowned at her. "I didn't know you were going to stay overnight."
"You were in no condition to take care of yourself," Willow told him. "Probably still aren't. But you don't look as ghostly today. Not that you weren't pale before, what with your lack of sunshine for two centuries. But you were definitely white yesterday. Hungry?"
"Yes," Spike said, mentally chuckling at her abrupt change of topic.
"Toast and jelly sound good? Or how about just some crackers?" Willow asked.
"I think I'll go with the crackers," he answered.
"Ok. You get back into bed where you belong," she said, giving him a friendly push towards the master bedroom. "I'll bring it and your medicine up"
"Yes, Nurse Willow," he replied in a little boy voice. Willow made a face at him, then went downstairs. He chuckled out loud this time and made his way back to his room. He paused as he put his toothbrush away, looking down at the sleeping Slayer. *That can't be comfortable,* he thought after a minute of just enjoying her beauty. Crouching, he tentatively reached his hand out to her bare skin, running his fingers lightly over it. "Slayer?"
"It's your turn," Buffy muttered in her sleep. "I got up last time."
Spike grinned. "Slayer, I think you want to get up before you get a crick in your neck."
"He's your son, too," she mumbled in reply, curling further into a ball.
"What?" Spike said, arching his brow. *She must be dreaming,* he thought, still rubbing her side in an attempts to wake her. *I wonder who she's talking to in the dream?* With the second thought, his eyes lit up. "Buffy, pet, who are you talking to?"
"Hmm?" Buffy replied, coming awake. She wondered briefly why her bed was so hard, then she remembered she was at Spike's house, in particular the master bathroom. She felt a hand running slowly up and down her side and knew immediately who it was attached to by the comfortable tingling on her skin. "Morning, Spike. Did you ask me something?"
"How did you know it was me?" Spike asked, disappointed that he didn't get to find out who she was dreaming about.
"Talent," she replied, pushing herself to a sitting position and tugging her shirt down. "What are you doing up and about? You're sick. You should be in bed."
"That's where I was going, luv," he said. "But I thought you'd be a happier Slayer if you didn't have a sore neck."
"You're right," Buffy said, rising to her feet as Spike did the same. "There's nothing scarier than a cranky Slayer."
"Except a cranky Witch," Willow said from the bathroom door, box of crackers and Penicillin in hand. She looked at Spike. "You. Bed."
"I'm going," he grumbled, making the two girls laugh. "This being sick thing is for the bloody birds."
Buffy took the thermometer out of the cabinet, then trailed Willow to the bedside as Spike climbed in. The red head set the items in her hand on the night stand. "I'm going downstairs to whip us up some breakfast," she told Buffy. "Want anything in particular?"
"Whatever is fine," Buffy answered. "But you don't have to make anything."
"Don't want to get cranky," she replied with a grin before leaving the bedroom.
Buffy shook her head, then turned her attention to Spike. "Open," she instructed, holding up the thermometer. She stuck it under his tongue, then went about measuring the Penicillin. "I don't know what time we're leaving tonight, but you need to know that you take this much three times a day until it's all gone."
Spike nodded, not speaking because of the object in his mouth. Buffy continued, "The doctor's office should call here on Monday with the results of your blood tests. They'll let you know if you need to be on any other medication. Willow and Oz got your prescription filled at Walgreens over on Eighth Street, Mr. Spike Williams."
The thermometer beeped, and she removed it from his mouth, handing him the cup at the same time. "Mr. Spike Williams?" Spike said with an arch of his brow.
"We didn't know what to put on the medical forms, so we named you that," Buffy explained. "Looks like you're fever has gone way down."
"What's that for?" Spike asked, pointing to the thermometer.
"Measuring your body temperature," Buffy answered. "You had almost a 104 degree fever yesterday and that's not a good thing."
"What's it now?"
"A little over 100," she replied. "Still sick, but not overly so. And if you ever get sick again, normal is around 98.6 degrees."
"I thought that was a song," Spike said, grabbing the box of crackers and opening it.
"98.6," he replied. At her confused look, he sang a few lyrics. "It's 98.6 and I know what your feeling, baby."
"Oh," she said, giving him a small grin. "Never heard of it."
"Not surprised," Spike said. "It's a bit before your time."
"You sing good, even when you're sick," Buffy said before she could stop herself. She blushed slightly, then stood. "I'm gonna...go and uh, get cleaned up. For breakfast."
"Come back later and keep me company?" Spike asked, picking up the book from the night stand.
"Sure," she replied. "Maybe we'll dig out some cards and play a few hands with Willow and Oz."
"You wish," Buffy said over her shoulder as she left the room.
"Do I ever," Spike replied quietly. Then he grinned at the images in his mind and opened the book, settling back on the pillows to read.
The four friends played cards for several hours, Spike winning most of the time, until Buffy got fed up and threw the deck at him on her deal. Then they made the former vampire take a nap while the trio went downstairs to watch some television and eat a late lunch. Buffy called her mom to update her on Spike's illness, then had to let her talk to him herself.
"Do you think you're going to be ok?" Buffy asked, sitting once again on the edge of the bed, saying goodbye.
"I'll live," Spike replied, then grinned. "Didn't think I'd ever hear myself say that."
Buffy laughed. "Your humor is back. I think you'll be just fine."
He reached out suddenly and grabbed her hand. "I wanted to thank you, luv."
"It's not necessary..."
"Yes, it is," Spike insisted. "I don't know anyone who would have taken the time to care about an ex-enemy like you and your chums."
"They're your friends, too, Spike," Buffy told him. "Don't be surprised if after graduation you suddenly find yourself with a houseful of guests."
Spike looked nervous as he asked the next question. "Including you?"
A smile stretched across Buffy's face. "Including me. But I'll be down here anyway for the summer with my dad."
"Well, then we'll have to do something, the two of us," he said offhandedly.
"Sounds like a plan," she replied. She stood and gave his had a squeeze. "Get better."
"I will," he said. "Be careful, ok? I don't want my favorite Slayer hurt."
"I'm only your favorite Slayer ‘cuz you love me," Buffy teased. Spike blushed bright red. "I'll be careful and leave now before you match Willow's hair."
"Thanks bunches, Slayer," Spike growled at her.
With a smile, she bent and gave him a quick kiss on the lips, surprising him. "Bye, Spike," she said, then turned and went out the door.
He slowly smiled, bringing his fingers up to touch his lips while they were still burning from her kiss.