|Story Title:||Can't Buy Me Love|
Things go from bad to worse for the Weckerlys during the summer of 2010 …
July 2010 - September 2010
Edmond “Eddie” Giles Rosenberg-Maclay born March 11, 2010
Joshua "JJ" Harris was born on April 21st, 2004
The twins (Danielle Dawn, "Dani" and William Rupert, "Billy") were born on February 12th, 2004.
Annie was born on February 14th, 1999
Spike and Buffy were married in February 1999
Buffy was born January 19th, 1981
William/Spike was turned by Dru in
All the Potentials were endowed with full Slayer power in February 2003.
Buffy and Spike learned of the other dimensions and got the memories from the 'Rome' Universe in May, 2003.
The ‘Wish-World’ lasted from January 19th, 2005 to January, 16th 2010.
ScreenCaps courtesy of ScreenCap Paradise: http://www.screencap-paradise.com/?cat=3
Thanks to 'epd4' for betaing this chapter.
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.
(next morning), Sunday, July 4th, 2010, 7:30am:
Annie sat at the kitchen table and pretended to be reading one of the books on her summer reading list as she watched her parents cooking breakfast for her and her siblings. It wasn’t any different than any other day when they were both up early … but today she was seeing them in a whole new light. Little things that in the past she either never noticed or never thought anything of, today had meaning; like the way Spike trailed his hand lightly across the small of Buffy’s back when he crossed behind her, or the way Buffy leaned her hip and shoulder against his when she was standing next to him … even the way they passed utensils back and forth … always touching the other’s hand in the process.
Annie smiled to herself … that was more of the ice cream and chocolate syrup her mom had told her about last night. She never really noticed before how much they touched each other, even when they were just doing mundane things … she wondered if they even knew they did that. When Spike turned around to deliver the eggs, potatoes, and sausage to the table, Annie quickly dropped her gaze back to her reading, but couldn’t really get the little smile to go away.
“Didn’t know ‘Lorna Doone’ was a comedy, Niblett,” Spike remarked with a smirk.
Annie shrugged but didn’t look up, instead turning her full attention to her breakfast.
Buffy put three glasses of orange juice on the table, along with her coffee, and plopped down in her seat at the table. She rubbed a hand on her growing tummy; over three months left to go and she was already starting to tire quickly; of course, she hadn’t been sleeping well since the whole blow up with Bess, either. Maybe she better keep that next doctor’s appointment, after all, just to be sure everything was ok. She had been gonna blow it off and save that money, but …
Spike brought his mug of blood and sat down in the seat next to her and began rubbing her neck and shoulders with one hand while he talked to Dani about the soccer game she was playing in later that day and trying to explain, again, why he couldn’t go to afternoon games just now; only night games and only when he wasn’t working – which was never.
Annie’s eyes met Buffy’s across the table. She gave her mom a questioning look as she danced her fingers on the table and tilted of her head towards her father to silently ask Buffy about the ‘Table Dance’. Buffy bit her bottom lip and smiled at her daughter, widening her eyes and giving her a little nod and Annie couldn’t help but smile wider.
“What the bloody hell is with you two, t’day?” Spike asked, looking between Buffy and Annie.
“Nothing,” came in unison from the two as they giggled like school girls sharing a secret.
(nine days later), 4pm, Thursday, July 15th, 2010, Dr. Benson’s office, OB/GYN (26 weeks pregnant):
“Everything with the baby looks good, Buffy … she’s developing perfectly,” the doctor told her during the sonogram.
“She?” Buffy asked. “So I can definitely go with pink now?”
The doctor smiled. “Yes … definitely pink, see?” She pointed to a spot on the screen. “No optional equipment package,” she joked.
Buffy smiled and nodded as the doctor began cleaning the jelly from her abdomen. “But I’ve been really tired … I don’t remember being this tired this early before.”
The doctor finished pushing the sonogram equipment to the side and picked up Buffy’s chart and flipped through it. “Have you been taking your prenatal vitamins?” the doctor asked. “You’re slightly anemic…”
Buffy rolled her eyes and sighed. She had started on those, but the ones from the doctor were so expensive that she’d switched to a cheaper brand she found at the discount store … apparently, you do get what you pay for sometimes.
With her checkbook another $350 lighter, and another bottle of prenatal vitamins from the doctor in hand, Buffy headed home, feeling guilty for not taking the vitamins all along, but better because at least she knew there wasn’t anything seriously wrong with her or the baby. Spike had never asked her what the sex of the baby was … traditionally, they hadn’t known until the baby was born, but, since he wasn’t with her at her appointments because they were all midday and she preferred him un-dusty, she had decided to start a new tradition. She idly wondered if she should decorate the nursery in pinks or stick with what she’d done in the past and use gender non-specific colors, or if Spike would notice… Duh! Of course Spike would notice …
Well, there was still plenty of time for that earth shattering decision to be made, and she had plenty to do in the meantime. The cargo containers from the UK had started arriving and she, Faith, and Spike were trying to interview/test Slayers and Watchers from North and South America for the Apocalypse Leadership Team; after that, they still had some candidates from Africa and the Far East who had applied, as well. It was taking much longer to make the selections than Buffy had anticipated because of the volume of applicants – it seemed everyone wanted to be a chief, no one wanted to be an indian.
The good news was that the Council Governing Committee had been seated and Fred had agreed to be the ‘tie breaker’ on the Committee. The twelve person CGC was made up of six Watchers and six Slayers. The Watchers included Wes and Giles and four others that they hand selected based on their experience in the field, education, demonology expertise, and personalities. The Slayers included Faith, Buffy, and Bess … even though Bess was still, well, not missing exactly, they knew where she was, more or less, but she wasn’t there. Buffy insisted that they give her a chance to come back … if she wasn’t back within a year, then the Committee could replace her. The other three positions were filled by other ‘senior’ Slayers who had shown exceptional leadership abilities over the years: Amanda, Kennedy, and Molly.
The bad news, of course, was that now Buffy had to attend those meetings and they had to try and figure out how to get everything re-organized and how to find some source of income to keep the Council operating and keep paychecks, albeit minimal, going out to Watchers and Slayers. They also had to figure out who would be locating and training newly called Slayers and where to recruit new Watchers. It was quickly decided that the ‘one Watcher to one Slayer’ paradigm simply wouldn’t work any longer and that instead, they would set up teams of several Slayers per one Watcher and spread them out around the world, concentrating on areas with Hellmouths or other high supernatural or demon activity. After attending just a few of these CGC meetings, Buffy already regretted being on it … it was tedious and very little actually got accomplished and it seemed like she had ten thousand other things that she could/should be doing instead. She understood now why Spike passed on it, but she was determined to try and stick it out, if for no other reason than to make a better Council and a brighter future for Bess and any of her other daughters that might one day be Slayers.
Back at home, Spike was half-sleeping / half-babysitting on the couch as Dani, Billy, and JJ played ‘Jedi-Scooby’ in the training room; Annie was over at her friend Janice’s house for a birthday/slumber party.
Buffy grabbed a glass of milk and downed one of the vitamins, then headed to the research table to check on Bess … or check on her as well as they could. It had become part of everyone’s routine now, to go to the table and check the little glowing dot on the map every time they came into the great room. Buffy would re-do the spell every day or so to keep the magical tracker going. After speeding across Arizona, New Mexico, and the panhandle of Texas, Bess had stopped in a small town in eastern Oklahoma called Renaldo, just outside Fort Smith, Arkansas, and had been there nearly a week now.
Spike walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around his wife. “Everything alright with you and the bit?”
“Yeah, fine … just a little anemic. I got some more vitamins, it’s nothing to worry about,” Buffy assured him.
“And?” Spike asked expectantly.
“And ... nothing. Everything’s fine,” Buffy repeated.
“I heard that bit … and, is it a prophecy or not?” Spike questioned. “Are we going with pink or blue?”
Buffy smiled and rolled her eyes as she turned her head to the side so she could see his face. “You’re creepy sometimes …” she informed him with a sigh, wondering how he knew that she knew the sex of the baby. “Pink…”
Spike nodded and hugged her tighter. That was pretty much what he reckoned.
“I wonder why she’s stopped there so long … I hope she’s ok,” Buffy commented, looking back down at the map and changing the subject to Bess.
“The bike had a bloody oil leak … if she didn’t check it, or kept runnin’ it with low oil or no oil …” Spike shook his head. “Coulda buggered the engine good … cracked a head, thrown a rod …”
“Maybe we should …” Buffy started.
“No, Buffy … if she needs help, she can call us. She knows the number, she knows how to use the phone … this was her choice, it has to be her choice to ask for help,” Spike asserted.
“Spike, that doesn’t sound like you at all,” Buffy retorted, turning in his arms to look at him. “If that was Annie…”
“It’s not the Niblett,” Spike pointed out. “Buffy, luv … we tried treating her like a girl, that didn’t work. She’s not a girl, she’s a Slayer and she’s a vamp. What would you have done if your mum or your Watcher came here and tried to drag you ‘ome right after you’d run off?”
Buffy sighed and rolled her eyes. “I probably would’ve run farther …”
Spike shrugged with a ‘there ya go’ expression on his face.
“Ok … fine,” Buffy acquiesced, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her head on his chest.
“She’s a smart girl … strong, resourceful … like her mum,” Spike contended. “She’ll be alright.”
The summer of 2010:
Life over the summer in Sunnydale was a whirlwind of Council business, various camps for the kids – dance and gymnastics and soccer, working, juggling bills, robbing Peter to pay Paul, and trying to get ready for the new addition. They kept track of Bess on the map in the research area, she had finally started moving again after spending over two months in that one small town… still moving away from California. She was now heading more northeast than due east; Spike still figured she was headed to Philadelphia. He didn’t know what she thought she’d find there, but hoped when her quest was over, that she’d be ready to come back home to them.
As the weeks went by, money got tighter and tighter. They couldn’t even make the annual trip up to Willow and Tara’s for the Fourth of July, not only because of the cost of the gas it would take, but because Spike couldn’t afford to miss even a single night of work. It was a huge disappointment to the kids, as well as Willow and Tara, who always looked forward to that week with the Weckerly children and Buffy and Spike.
“But, Papa!” Dani argued, when the kids were told they weren’t going north this summer. “What are we gonna say in school next year when they ask where we went on our summer vacation?”
“Tell ‘em your parents are international spies working for the bloody CIA, and you could tell them where you went, but then you’d have to kill ‘em … for the sake of national security,” Spike snarked. He wasn’t angry with her … he was just angry; angry with himself for not being able to give them even that little treat that they so enjoyed. It was hard enough just paying for their regular summer camps and other lessons they all had, but he refused to let Buffy drop any of those, even as their debt rose higher and higher.
“Daaaaad!” Annie moaned, rolling her eyes.
Spike groaned and his shoulders sagged. “Sorry … you have no idea how sorry I am that we can’t go… I promise I’ll make it up to ya.”
A couple of nights later, on a Sunday night right after dinner, Spike loaded all the kids, including JJ, along with Buffy, up in the Blue Bomber and started driving amid a relentless chorus of ‘Where are we going?” Not even Buffy knew where they were going until they got there: the ice skating rink on the outskirts of town. But it was closed on Sunday nights…
Spike made them wait in the van while he … well … uhhh, sort of opened the door without an actual key, then he unloaded a couple of duffle bags he had stashed in the way-back of the van and the group piled into the dark, deserted skating arena.
Inside, the kids put on their skates, which was what was in the duffle bags, while Spike turned on three spotlights on the ice, one halfway across near the right side of the rink, one three quarters of the way across on the left side, and one at the furthest end right in the middle, but mostly the rink was cast in complete darkness.
“Ok …” Spike began, stopping them before they headed out onto the dark ice, and pulling on skates of his own. “T’night we’re going on a magical trip to ‘Polar Bear Pass’ in the heart of the Weltschmerz mountain range, deep in the lonely wilderness of the Land Without Sun,” he explained, kneeling down in front of the kids and working on getting his skates laced up.
Buffy was lacing her skates up too, but Spike stopped her. “Bits only this trip, luv …” he informed her and she frowned at him, giving him her best pouty lip. “Pout all ya want, it’s not gonna work; you can come next time,” he assured her before turning his attention back to the kids. “You might not’ve heard of it before … but it’s a frozen zone a’ terror … very dangerous, haunted, it is, by the biggest, meanest, scariest polar bear you’d ever want t’ see,” Spike continued in a deep, ominous, ‘ghost story’, voice, his eyes wide with mock terror.
“And this polar bear looooves to gobble up little bits as they try to pass through his icy home,” Spike continued. Dani, Billy, and JJ were eating it up, their eyes wide with excitement and fear. Annie, being eleven, and beyond such silliness, wasn’t as impressed.
“Now … word is, this bear has a huge stash o’ golden treasure hidden in his den. Your mission … if you choose to accept it, is to cross the dark, sunless pass and capture the treasure on the other side,” Spike continued, pointing to the other side of the dark rink where a light shone down on a bright red gift bag that sat on the ice. “The bear is afraid of the light … but beware the dark expanse of the pass …” Spike warned in a low and threatening tone. “He could be anywhere, lurking … waiting to pounce … and gobble you up!” he exclaimed, suddenly grabbing Dani and Billy and causing them to shriek with nervous laughter.
Buffy smiled as she watched Spike weave his tale of danger and treasure for the children and transport them to ‘Polar Bear Pass’ … it was the best summer vacation he could do on their non-existent budget.
Just as suddenly as Spike had grabbed the twins, he released them and sped out onto the dark rink, his thick-bladed, hockey-style skates scraping an eerie melody on the cold ice as he went. Buffy shook her head … when had he learned to skate? When had he even gotten any ice skates for himself? Had he been holding out on her the whole time, or had he learned just so he could do this for the kids?
The kids quickly followed him out onto the ice … all their skates covering up the sound from his, making it impossible for them to tell where he was; if they stopped, he stopped … when they moved, he moved. In the dark, they couldn’t see him, but Spike, of course, had a slight advantage, he could see fine.
Spike darted into the pack of children and growled dangerously as they made their way across the dark ice and they all shrieked and scurried away from him, trying to reach the ‘safety’ of the light that shone down on the ice near mid-rink. He cut them off with deep roar, raising his hands menacingly above his head like a polar bear, and they all screamed again and changed directions. By the time the kids made it to the first spotlight, they were all panting from excitement and exertion, and their eyes were wide with enthusiasm, even Annie’s, looking around in the dark as they tried to spy where the polar bear had gone.
Spike knelt down on the ice far enough away that they couldn’t see him and watched with delight as the kids all searched for him from the safety of the light.
“We need to split up,” Annie suggested. “The bear can’t chase us all.”
“What if he catches us alone and gobbles us up!?” Billy questioned, looking around warily.
“Billy … it’s just Papa, he’s not gonna really hurt you,” Annie reminded him.
“Ok … on three we all go in different directions …” Annie took control of the plan. “One … two …” On ‘three’, Spike shot past them, growling deeply and staying just barely out of the light as if careening off an invisible forcefield. The kids all shrieked again and took off as a group in the opposite direction … so much for Annie’s plan.
Spike grabbed up JJ, who was at the back of the pack, and rumbled a growl against his neck, causing the boy to scream with a mixture of laughter and fear and squirm and kick as he tried to get away from the ‘bear’. Spike set him down outside the wall of the rink and informed him he was ‘dead’, then quickly turned and went after the remaining trespassers that were after his treasure in Polar Bear Pass. The hardest to track down was Annie … she was a better skater and much faster than the others, and she was able to make it into the safety of the second spotlight before Spike could catch her.
Now she stood alone in the spotlight, her compatriots all ‘dead’. She was three quarters of the way to the other end of the rink … only about fifty feet of dark ice stood between her and the last spotlight where the treasure was. Spike circled near her like a shark circling its prey, taunting her, daring her to make a break for it.
“C’mon then … can’t get the treasure there,” he reminded her, trying to lure her into the dark by circling further away, then coming closer again.
Annie bit her bottom lip as she tried to formulate another plan and turned in a circle keeping the bear …errr … her father in front of her where she could watch him.
“Chicken? Bwaaak, bwwaaaak, bwwwaaaak,” Spike taunted, putting his thumbs against his armpits and flapping his ‘wings’ like a chicken.
Annie suddenly lunged at him, pushing him in the chest and knocking him backwards before she turned the opposite way and sprinted for the end of the rink and the not-so-hidden treasure. Spike caught his balance and raced after her, catching her arm at the last moment and swinging her around. Annie fell down onto her butt and slid across the ice, coming to a stop when her back hit the side of the rink.
Spike panicked, he hadn’t meant to knock her down, he lost his grip on her when he spun her and she’d just sailed out of control. He heard her crying as he raced over to where she was still sitting on the cold ice, her face covered with one hand as she held her knee with the other.
“God, Niblett … I’m sorry, I didn’t mean … are you hurt?” he asked in a panic.
“My knee…” she moaned, rubbing it.
When Spike dropped down onto his knees next to her to examine her leg, she caught him completely off guard and pushed hard against his shoulders, knocking him backwards and down onto his butt. “Psyche!!!” she screamed as she jumped up and raced to the end of the rink, grabbing up the red gift bag by its handles and twirling around in victory with it held high above her head.
Spike stood back up, dusting the ice from his jeans and shaking his head. “Shoulda known to never trust a bloody Summers girl…” he muttered as all the other kids, who were watching from the sidelines with Buffy, screamed, clapped, and cheered.
Spike caught up with Annie and wrapped an arm around her shoulders as they skated back towards the group. “Bloody chip off the Slayer block, you are, Bit,” he told her with a smirk, pulling her against him. Annie smiled proudly, swinging the treasure in her outside hand as she wrapped an arm around her father’s waist and they skated back to the group of ‘dead’ onlookers.
Inside the bag, the ‘golden treasure’ turned out to be Ferrero candies wrapped in shiny foil … dark chocolate for Annie and Buffy, hazelnut ones for Billy and JJ, and (milk-free) coconut for Dani and Spike.
After they’d eaten all the treasure, the kids played a game of tag on the dark ice, using the lights as safe areas while Spike sat with Buffy and watched.
“Soooo …” Buffy began, banging the side of his skates with hers. “You been holdin’ out on me or are you just a fast learner?”
Spike smirked and pulled his eyes off the kids and looked at her. “Didn’t want ya to feel bad, what with me bein’ a better skater than you…”
“Oh, please!” Buffy objected. “I could stake rings around you right now … me and the ‘littlest bit’ can both skate rings around you!” she declared, rubbing a hand on her tummy.
“Can ya now?”
“Just try us!” she dared him.
Spike stood up and Buffy followed him onto the ice. Buffy started to skate in a wide ring around him, but he grabbed her hand and swung her around in a slow arc and back to him. He pulled her body against his and wrapped his arms around her before capturing her lips with his. The pair turned in a slow circle from the momentum Buffy had started as their lips and tongues created enough heat to almost literally melt the ice from under their feet.
When they came to a stop, Spike pulled back and looked down at the ice. Buffy’s skates had made a full circle around him as they kissed. He smiled and looked back into her eyes, cocking a brow at her. “I reckon you can skate rings around me, pet.”
Buffy smirked and pushed off with one toe, starting them in another slow circle. “Told ya so…” she murmured, lifting her lips back to his and trying once again to actually melt the ice.
That night at the skating rink had been one of the best of the summer for all of them, but, as summer went on, things only got worse for the Weckerlys …
Spike came home one night to a house full of swarming termites … Buffy and the kids were trying to kill them with anything they could find, from bug spray to fly swatters to brooms. A seemingly never-ending supply of the small creatures flooded out of the wall near the fireplace where wood met brick, and filled the great room, research area, and kitchen with a cloud of the wood-eating, translucent-winged monsters. Getting the mansion treated for the ‘subterranean demons’ pretty much wiped out the money Buffy was trying to keep back to pay for the hospital and doctor bills for the baby. The termite company told her the house really needed to be tented, as well as treated below ground, that the termites were everywhere. After putting them off for a while, she and Spike finally decided to go ahead with it now, before the baby came. The family had to stay with Xander and Anya for three days while the house was being tented and they had to do what Buffy wanted to avoid at all costs to pay for it … take out a mortgage on the mansion.
Getting a bank to even agree to give them a mortgage was nearly impossible and beyond frustrating. It seemed that if you didn’t have money, no one would give you a loan … but, Buffy pointed out, if she had money, she wouldn’t need the stupid loan! Buffy went to four different banks before one would even consider it, especially after they looked at the paystubs from the Council and the bar and Buffy and Spike’s recent credit report. Up until the last few months, they’d had perfect credit, but since then their score had dropped significantly with rising debt and only making minimum payments … and often those payments were late. Buffy finally found a sympathetic loan officer at a small, locally owned bank, who agreed to give her what amounted to a ‘renovation loan’ … like a construction loan, the money could only be used to make improvements or renovations on the house.
“It’s not for taking vacations to Hawaii or buying flat screen TV’s,” the man at the bank told her … as if either of those things were high on Buffy’s list of things to pay for. “And you can’t pay off other debt with it. This way, if you do default, we’ll have some chance of getting our money back,” he explained. “You will need to submit copies of invoices and work orders from any contractors you use and those need to match the checks you write on the line of credit.”
Despite the exorbitant rate of interest and Buffy’s reticence about mortgaging their house, she agreed … it was the only way to stop the damage being done by the little, winged demons that had taken up residence with them in the mansion.
On her way home from the bank, the Blue Bomber turned into the parking lot at the Department of Children and Families … seemingly of its own accord. Buffy parked the van and sat there in the parking lot for a long time … she had to do something to help her family; she knew Spike wouldn’t like it, but … Finally, Buffy took a deep breath, summoned her courage, swallowed back her tears and her pride, and headed inside to see about getting food stamps. She’d just have to make Spike see that everyone needed help sometimes and it wasn’t a reflection on him … or them.
After the termites, things continued to get worse as the summer went on ….
On a balmy night in July, Spike came home to find Buffy in the basement rinsing their clothes out in the utility sink and wringing them out by hand before tossing them into the dryer. The washer had died halfway through a load… there were four more loads waiting to be washed. Now Buffy was washing clothes and dishes by hand, since the dishwasher had died months ago. Two days later a new washing machine and a new dishwasher were delivered and installed, and another store credit card bill was added to the stack…
One hot night in August he came home to find her inconsolable in the backyard. As Spike had feared, the southern California heat had been too much for the mandrake plants and the few that remained after the bunny assault on the garden, succumbed to the late summer swelter. No matter what she tried – putting up shade cloth, watering three and four times a day … she even brought fans out with long extension cords to try and keep them cool … but nothing worked. She finally had to admit defeat and that started a cascade of tears that she’d been powerless to stop. Spike held her in his arms in the grass under the oak tree until nearly dawn … he felt like a failure. He was working double shifts six nights a week, he was hustling games of pool and darts and poker, but still, it wasn’t enough, it wasn’t nearly enough. Everything was going to hell in a handbasket and he felt powerless to stop it.
The coup de grâce came one stormy night in September when he came in to find over half of the research library had been moved into the training room, along with the couch and chairs and TV. Where the bookcases and furniture had been now sat pots and pans, bowls, garbage cans, and buckets of every size and color … the water dripping from the high, cathedral ceiling above played a depressing symphony … plop, pling, splash, plop, pling, splash, plop, pling, splash …
Buffy sat on the stairs in utter shock, watching but not seeing and listening but not hearing, the morose production of Chinese water torture. Before the reality of the whole scene even had time to sink in with Spike, Xander arrived with several blue tarps from the twenty-four hour Wal-Mart and he and Spike went up on the roof to cover it with them in an effort to stop the indoor downpour. Buffy sat emotionless on the staircase as the plaster from the ceiling began to fall in large chunks when Spike and Xander began walking across the waterlogged, termite damaged, flat roof of the mansion as they spread the tarps out and tried to secure them.
As she watched the plaster rain down with the … rain onto the floor of the great room, the phone began to ring, but it barely registered with her. After four rings, the answering machine picked up with a cheery greeting that seemed to grate against the scene in the house like fingernails on a blackboard. Buffy’s happy voice bubbled out of the answering machine,
bet you’re wondering where we are!
Well, put your mouth up to the phone,
And leave us a message for when we get home.
And if you can make your message rhyme,
We'll call you back in half the time!!!!!”
As whoever was on the other end of the phone hung up without leaving a message, Annie appeared at the top of the stairs. “Mom?” she ventured tentatively as she walked down the stairs to where Buffy was sitting, but Buffy didn’t even hear her.
“Mama …” Annie tried again when she got closer. “Mama, it’s raining in my room too … Mama?”
Buffy finally turned and looked at her daughter as the words filtered through the fog in her mind. Buffy nodded and stood up slowly, holding onto the banister to keep from toppling over out of utter exhaustion. She’d called Xander when it started raining indoors and he’d helped her move the stuff into the training room, which hadn’t been leaking, then he went to get the tarps… but even with his help she was left exhausted; not to mention mentally and emotionally drained.
Buffy turned on the stairs and headed up to Annie’s room and started moving things out into the hallway. She’d just gotten her daughter’s mattress out in the hall when she heard a loud crash in the next room … the newly painted, newly furnished, (with used furniture and bedding and toys from the consignment shop) pink and lavender nursery.
She and Annie rushed over and Billy and Dani both came out of their new separate bedrooms down the hall to see what had happened. Inside the nursery, which Buffy had spent hours and hours working on, not to mention the money she’d spent on the furniture and bedding, they found Xander writhing in pain on the floor. He’d fallen through the termite and water weakened roof, crashed through the ceiling, and brought down dirt and tarpaper and water from the roof, along with drywall, plaster, and lathe from the ceiling, with him.
“Oh my God! Xander!” Buffy exclaimed rushing over to him, but when she dropped down onto her knees next to him, she was hit with a pain in her abdomen so strong it doubled her over. It only took a moment for Spike to drop down through the hole in the roof into the nursery where he found both Buffy and Xander on the floor in agony. Buffy was clutching her stomach and moaning and Xander was reaching for his leg. His foot lay at a grotesquely unnatural angle, an angle that could only mean one thing, Xander’s leg was broken.
“Call 911!” he instructed Annie as he rushed over to the pair on the floor. “Buffy, what is it? What’s wrong?” he demanded in a panic. He didn’t know if Xander had fallen on her or what had happened.
“I … don’t … know. OH GOD! It hurts … God, Spike!” Buffy exclaimed as she held her stomach tighter and tried to stop whatever it was that seemed to be stabbing her from the inside out.
Spike grabbed Buffy up, cradling her in his arms, and headed out of the room and for the stairs.
“They’re on the way!” Annie called to him, still holding the phone to her ear as the dispatcher continued asking questions.
“Stay with Harris,” Spike instructed her. “I’ll be back.”
“Is Mama ok!?” Billy asked wide eyed as Spike passed by him and Dani in the hall.
“Be ok, Junior …” Spike tried to assure him, but he didn’t sound too assuring, in fact, he sounded scared.
Spike wanted desperately to put Buffy in the van and drive her to the hospital himself, but he couldn’t leave Xander with a broken leg and the kids alone … so he settled for taking her into the training room and putting her down on the couch.
Buffy curled on her side into as small a fetal position she could get being eight months pregnant and tried to lay as still as possible. Tears streamed from her eyes … she couldn’t get the pain to stop. “Oh God … please make it stop … Spike, please … oh, God … ohhh… God it hurts, Spike.”
“Shhhh …ok, baby … shhhh …I’m here, I got ya’ … it’s ok … shhhhh,” Spike tried to soothe her as he knelt next to the couch and held her, not knowing what else to do. “Breathe, Buffy … breathe, breathe, easy now …” he admonished her, as he blew in and out exaggeratedly like they taught in the Lamaze class, trying to calm her.
Buffy nodded her understanding and breathed with him, following his slow tempo, and slowly the pain subsided down to merely agonizing. Spike heard the ambulance pull up outside and he picked her back up and rushed out to meet them … getting to the ambulance before they could even get the gurney out of the back. The paramedics started firing off questions about what happened and how far along she was as Spike loaded her into the ambulance and placed her onto the gurney himself. He answered their questions as best he could since he didn’t really know what happened as he continued breathing with her and assuring her quietly, his mouth near her ear. He told them about Xander and they radioed in for another ambulance while they hooked Buffy up to an IV and put monitors on her and the baby.
“Buffy .. I haveta stay ‘ere with the bits ‘til they get Harris… but I’ll be right behind you, yeah?” Spike whispered to her.
“No, Spike …” Buffy begged, holding onto his arm.
“Buffy … you need to go to hospital now, I haveta get the bits … Ok? I swear I’ll be right there … I swear,” Spike promised her. “Just keep breathing like that, yeah? …Slow, in … out … slow…”
Buffy finally nodded and released his arm and Spike dropped a fast kiss on her forehead. “I love you,” he murmured before dashing out of the ambulance so they could get her to the hospital.
“Love you more…” Buffy replied softly just before the doors closed.
Dr. Benson was called to the hospital and she, along with the resident on duty, examined Buffy, did a sonogram of the baby and ran a few tests. Her pain had subsided to a dull ache with only intermittent stabbing by the time Spike and the kids got there, although she was still mentally and emotionally distressed and exhausted.
Luckily, it was a slow night at the ER and the nurses let Spike bring the kids in with him. He’d called Anya on the way to tell her about Xander, and called Giles so someone could watch the kids, but neither of them had arrived yet. As Spike, Annie, Dani, and Billy waited in the small curtained ‘room’ in the ER with Buffy, Dr. Benson and a nurse came in with the test results.
The doctor greeted Spike, whom she knew from Buffy’s previous pregnancies, and suggested the nurse take the children down the hall to get a snack. “There are some donuts in the lounge …” the doctor suggested and the nurse nodded, herding the children out of the small area. Annie looked worriedly between her mother and father, and Spike nodded to her to go. “It’ll be alright, Niblett … get a bite and you can come right back.”
When the children were gone, Dr. Benson turned to the worried parents. “First of all, the baby is ok, Buffy …” the doctor started and both Spike and Buffy breathed a sigh of relief as Spike held his wife’s hand with both of his. “There’s a premature abruption …or separation, in the placenta … that’s most likely what caused the pain – it began to tear as if you were going into labor, but you’ve been here …” the doctor looked at the admittance time and then at her watch, “… almost two hours and haven’t had any contractions, so I don’t think you’re actually in labor. What I’d like is for you to spend the night to be sure, then you need to be on bed rest until the baby comes.”
“Won’t it heal? I’m a fast healer …” Buffy suggested hopefully.
The doctor frowned and shook her head. “I don’t think so Buffy … it’s not really an injury, it’s a part of childbirth, it’s just starting too soon. Bed rest is really the only option.”
Buffy closed her eyes and shook her head. Bed rest!? BED REST?! Was she serious?
The doctor continued talking, “That means just short walks in the house … to the bathroom and back, no stairs, no lifting, no standing up for any length of time … you can sit in a chair, but no more than half an hour at a time, and no intercourse or anything that will put stress on your abdomen or uterus.”
Tears leaked from Buffy’s eyes, the doctor obviously hadn’t seen their house … it was a shambles … the roof was leaking, there was water and plaster everywhere, and the nursery was practically destroyed – everything in there needed to be taken down and washed … oh, and let’s not forget the huge hole in the roof. Bed rest!?
The doctor looked at Spike since Buffy still had her eyes closed tightly. “You need to try and keep her stress level down and keep her off her feet,” she admonished him and Spike blew out a long breath and nodded. How was he supposed to do that? This was Buffy they were talking about…
“Buffy … the baby is perfectly viable, even if it comes early, but it’s best for it to go to term. It’s only about three weeks …” the doctor offered. “Sit back for a while … be a queen, let someone wait on you for a change.”
Buffy snorted a sarcastic laugh and opened her eyes. “Are you free?”
Buffy awoke the next morning in the hospital room they had moved her into for her overnight stay to find Spike had pushed the other bed in the room over next to hers and was sleeping next to her, still holding her hand. There was a tangle of small arms and legs laying every-which-way next to him and on top of him … all the kids were in the small bed, too.
Tears stung Buffy’s eyes as she watched him sleeping. He’d been working so hard, trying so hard, and everything was just slipping away … falling apart. He probably wished he’d never gotten involved with an insane Slayer and her kooky friends. He and Dru could be kicking back on the French Riviera right now, dining on the local cuisine, or the locals, at any rate, without a worry in the world… not working his ass off for a paltry paycheck that didn’t cover even half of what their expanding family needed to live, and worrying about her.
“Hey, cutie…” Spike murmured when he awoke a moment later.
Buffy smiled sadly and ran her hand through her hair, which was still tangled and dirty from the night before. “What would you do without a glamorous, drama queen for a wife?” she only half teased.
Spike pulled her hand to his lips and kissed her fingers gently. “I’d be lost…” he assured her sincerely. “I reckon I’d have a lot more bed, though,” he quipped as he lifted someone’s foot off his neck.
Buffy laughed lightly and closed her eyes.
“It’ll be alright, luv … no worries,” Spike assured her as he disentangled himself from the mass of small limbs and sat up on the edge of the bed.
“How, Spike? How is it gonna be alright?” she asked, her voice harsher than she intended. “The house is a wreck, a wreck with a mortgage, no less, the nursery is trashed … Oh, God, Xander!” Buffy suddenly remembered. “Is he alright?”
“Broke his leg above the ankle … lucky he didn’t break the ankle,” Spike informed her. “He’ll be right as rain in a few weeks.”
“Everything I touch turns to shit … you should run, Spike … run away as fast as you can and don’t look back, you could be next…” Buffy warned.
“Told ya before, Slayer … I don’t scare easy, and I never run. Gonna take a lot more than this to get rid o’ my sorry ass,” Spike assured her.
“You’re a glutton for punishment,” Buffy advised him. “You should look into getting some help for that condition…I think they may have pills for that now.”
“I’m a glutton for you, pet,” Spike corrected, leaning forward and dropping a soft kiss on her lips. “Don’t worry about anything, my queen… I am your humble servant,” Spike declared dramatically, as he pulled away from her and bowed at the waist.
“Oh, God, Spike,” Buffy sighed, a small smile on her lips. “What would I do without you?”
“Probably be kickin’ back on a nude beach on the French Riviera, eatin’ chocolate petit fours, and ogling the hard bodied, local boys … your only worry would be blonde, brunette, or redhead…” Spike teased, giving her a wink.
“You really give me the creeps sometimes,” Buffy informed him with an eye roll and a laugh, shaking her head in disbelief. Could he read her mind now or had they just been married waaay too long?
Sixteen Tons, Tennessee Ernie Ford
Some people say a man is
made outta mud.
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