Story Title: Spirit Indestructible


Season 5. Begins with ‘Spiral’ in the abandoned gas station, and goes far off-canon almost immediately.

When Dawn makes the ultimate sacrifice to save her sister, friends, and the world, Buffy’s mind snaps. When Buffy's friends give up hope of her ever recovering, and become afraid that she’ll turn violent and uncontrollable, they call in the Council to help. Fearing what the Council will do, Spike, forgotten and ignored by her friends, steps in. Will he be able to reach the Slayer when no one else could? Will he be able to keep her out of the hands of the Council and away from her ‘helpful’ friends? How much heartbreak, guilt, and failure can one girl stand before her indestructible spirit finally resigns the fight and gives up hope?




29. I'll Stand by You


Music Referenced:

I’ll Stand By You, The Pretenders

Nelly Furtado - Spirit Indestructible


Some Screencaps courtesy of Broken Innocence (others from ScreenCap Paradise which is, sadly, no more). and also from



Thanks to YOU for reading and especially to those of you who take the time to email me feedback! Love hearing from everyone! Thanks also to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions ROCK!  All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.

Rating / Warnings:

Warning for this chapter:  Time to pay the piper ... or the muse as the case may be: angst and tears.

NC17. Spike/Other. Main Character Death. Implied Rape. Plenty of angst.

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.

About a week later…


Buffy and Spike looked up from the TV when the front door opened and Joan came in.


“Bugger…” Spike muttered as Buffy turned the TV off.


“You’ve seen this at least five hundred times already. You quote it in your sleep,” Buffy admonished him in a low voice, elbowing him lightly in the ribs. “We need to talk to her.”


Spike rubbed his side. “Can never see, or quote, ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ too many times,” he retorted, scowling at his wife.


Buffy poked her tongue out at him before turning and calling to Joan. “So, how was the weekend at the lake … with India?” she asked as casually as she could.


Joan dropped her packs at the foot of the stairs and came into the living room. “It was exceedingly pleasing!” she beamed. “Would you like to see the images I rendered in oil and watercolor?”


“Sure,” Buffy replied, returning Joan’s enthusiastic smile.


Joan went back and retrieved the larger of her two packs and brought it back into the living room. Opening it, she carefully pulled out a total of four pieces of art and laid them out on the coffee table in front of Spike and Buffy. Two were water color and two were oil paintings. They were all either lake or river scenes and Buffy and Spike both had to admit they were extraordinarily good.


“Soooo …” Buffy ventured, trying to sound casual, as she looked over the paintings, “… did India have a good time too?”


“Oh, yes. She indicated that she had visited Canyon Lake many times, but that it was much more enjoyable with my companionship.”


“And does she know you’re … different?” Buffy continued, lifting her eyes from the art and looking up at Joan.


“Yes. She considers me to be singular and unique.”


“Well, who could argue with that?” Buffy agreed.


“She indicated that she enjoys my ‘refreshing viewpoint’ and will ‘never tire of my intriguingly pragmatic view of the world.' She appears to take pleasure in attempting to show me her viewpoint on subjects. I find her fascinating in an extremely abstract and idealistic manner.”


Buffy nodded thoughtfully. “Right, but … does she know you’re a … ummm … bot?”


Joan’s expression turned pensive. “I do not believe that she has gleaned that knowledge from our conversations. Do you feel it is relevant? Is that something I must disclose to newly-acquired friends?”


"No – totally no announcing. We're firmly in the 'don't ask, don't tell' camp here. It's just ... with India ... we ... were wondering ... ummm ..." Buffy’s mouth opened, then closed again; she looked at Spike for help.


 “Just how far ya planning on takin’ things with the painter?” Spike joined in for the first time.


“She is my friend,” Joan announced brightly.


“We got that bit, luv. What we were wondering is, are ya shaggin’ ‘er?”


Joan’s eyes went wide with surprise. “No. That would be disrespectful to my significant others and my family to whom I am eternally faithful.” Joan held up her right hand, showing the ring on it that matched Buffy’s and Spike’s.


Buffy bit her bottom lip and nodded. “But, do you … want to … you know … with her?”


Putting any feelings of jealousy aside, Buffy was torn about what she wanted Joan to say to this question. On one hand, she was happy the Bot had made such a good friend. Buffy felt like Joan deserved to have a love-life of her own choosing, rather than the one with Buffy and Spike which had been chosen for her. On the other hand, there were lots of secrets being kept, and she didn’t want Joan's delicate heart-shaped microchips to be crushed when India found out that everything wasn’t as it seemed on the surface.


Joan tilted her head in confusion. “There is no verb in that query, please restate.”


“Do ya want t’ shag her?” Spike clarified, rolling his eyes.


Joan furrowed her brow, considering this for nearly a minute, which would be almost an hour in ‘people-years’. “I find her extremely attractive, intelligent, compassionate, talented, and witty. I have also noted that my sentient drive rotates at an alarming rate when I am in her company. I believe if I did not already have a family, and if she were so inclined, then … yes, I would shag her brains out.”


Buffy’s brows shot up. “Whoa! Joan! You made with the metaphysical!”


“Metaphorical,” Spike corrected, also surprised. “Assuming, of course, you didn’t intend t’ literally shag ‘er brains out.”


Joan smiled proudly. “I have been assembling a collection of metaphors, analogies, similes, allegories, hyperboles to interject when presented with a suitable opportunity. I am pleased I was able to appropriately incorporate that example.”


Joan began to pick the paintings back up from where she’d laid them on the coffee table in front of Spike and Buffy, but Buffy put a hand out and stopped her. “Do you think we could get this one framed? I think it would look great on the wall there over the TV, don’t you?”


Joan stopped and looked at her with surprise. “You would like to display it here in the living area?”


Buffy nodded. “Yeah … it’s so pretty and … just really peaceful and calm. I love it,” she told Joan. “Would that be ok?”


Joan beamed again, glowing with pride. “Yes. That would be … exceptional. That makes me happier than a tornado in a trailer park.”




About six months later …


Buffy sat in the rocking chair in the nursery with her twelve-month old daughter in her arms, rocking gently. It was late – really late – the house was quiet, everyone else, even Spike, was asleep. Jade, who had come home from the hospital with the considerable weight of Joyce-Ann Dawn Elizabeth as her moniker, had woken up crying. She’d had a bad dream, Buffy supposed. What would be a bad dream for a one year old? Mr. Gordo being taken away from her, maybe? 


Buffy had lost her long-time, stuffed companion to her daughter several months ago, but she didn’t mind. Jade had loved it from the moment she’d seen it and slept with it every night. The twins slept through the night most of the time now, but once in a while there would be a disturbance in the Force that would awaken them. Buffy didn’t mind that so much either, she enjoyed these quiet times spent alone with the babies.


The last year had gone by in a blink of an eye. One day they were bringing home two frighteningly small, wrinkled, pinkish-purple aliens that seemed to do nothing but eat, poop, cry, and sleep, and the next day they had grown into two actual people: Two little people with two distinct personalities that smiled and laughed; that cooed and giggled, and screamed at the top of their lungs when things didn’t go their way. Two little people that could sit up and stuff Cheerios into their mouths and each other’s ears with perfect, little fingers. Two little people that, it seemed to Buffy, could crawl faster than Mommy could walk, and could pull themselves up to standing and even take shaking steps with the help of Mom, Dad, and Aunt Joan. Two little people who could communicate their feelings quite clearly; who could say the words all parents dreamed of: Mama and Dada, and could even offer a decent attempt at ‘Aunt Joan’, though it sounded more like ‘Aa-ja’ than anything else. Of course, at first there was a bit of confusion over who was 'Mama' and who was 'Aa-ja', but that was clarified pretty quickly at mealtimes during the months they were breastfeeding . These days the twins actually were pretty good at identifying the two women in their life, only getting it wrong occasionally.


The babies had filled their fixer-upper with life and love beyond anything Buffy had imagined before having them. The last eighteen months or so, ever since Gibraltar, had been a dream come true – more than that, because it was a dream neither Buffy nor Spike had allowed themselves to dream not so long ago. They were a family; not precisely the ‘normal’ family of her pre-Slayer dreams, but a family nonetheless.


Spike had begun taking long weekend trips to Louisiana about once a month to replenish their nest egg. It seemed the smarter choice for legalized gambling than Vegas, where they’d been found before. Joan was also contributing to the support of the family by refinishing old furniture she and Buffy would find at garage sales or second-hand shops, and reselling it, often for a tidy profit. Buffy had just started waitressing the lunch rush for their friend and neighbor, Sebastian’s, little Tex-Mex restaurant. She’d originally done it more as a favor than for the income, which was paltry, but she enjoyed it. It gave her some time in the ‘real world’ … with adults and – bonus! – the (complimentary) meals were excellent.


William, Jr. – who had become ‘Will’ before he’d even gotten home from the hospital – was the more serious of the twins and much better behaved than his sister. He could pick up on the moods of his parents and somehow knew when it was safe to push the envelope, and when to just bide his time. His bright, blue eyes were just as expressive as his father’s. It was impossible to chastise him too harshly for any misdeed, as he was an expert at manipulating his parents with crocodile tears that shimmered to life in the space of a heartbeat.


Joyce-Anne Dawn Elizabeth had become ‘Jade’ about six months after arriving. It began when India, who become a close friend (but nothing beyond 'good friend') to Joan and the whole family, did a collage for each baby using their initials. It was actually Aunt Joan that had started calling the baby ‘Jade’ after hanging the art over the girl’s crib in the nursery. She assumed that Buffy and Spike had changed the girl’s name just as they had changed hers all those months ago.


The moniker stuck, and seemed to fit the now green-eyed girl who was rough and tumble, heedless of danger, warnings, or scoldings from her parents … ok, Buffy and Joan did the scolding – Spike, not so much. Her single biggest joy seemed to be wrapping her daddy around her little finger and twisting until he screamed ‘Uncle’. Unlike her brother, there were no tears to discourage her parents from chastising her, only stubborn strength and unwavering aplomb shining in the jade-green depths of her eyes.


Buffy continued to rock the now sleeping baby, humming ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ softly to her. Jade was beautiful – both the babies were – and it wasn’t just Buffy and Spike that thought so, everyone did – even strangers in the park. They both had shocks of chestnut-brown curls that were utterly adorable; Will had Spike’s eyes, while Jade had gotten Buffy’s. Other people saw bits and pieces of their parents’ features in their noses, mouths, chins, or foreheads – one person even said Will had Spike’s ears – but honestly, Buffy couldn’t really tell beyond the eyes at this point.


“She’s lovely,” a soft voice said from right in front of Buffy.


Buffy’s head jerked up, her eyes wide with shock as her heart lurched in her chest. She began to rise instinctively, turning and holding Jade protectively away from the intruder. Her initial shock and surprise wasn’t completely allayed when she saw who had spoken: Joyce Summers.


“Mom? What … Is that you? What … how?”

Joyce gave Buffy a soft, reassuring smile. “It’s me, honey. I just … I had to see them. I … called in another favor.”


“Oh my, God, Mom,” Buffy breathed, relieved and overjoyed to see her again. “They’re beautiful!” Buffy exclaimed, moving forward and holding Jade up so Joyce could see her. “Mom … the Monks made two … like a BOGO for babies!”


Joyce laughed, but held her hands up when Buffy tried to hand her the sleeping child. “I can’t, honey … I’m all … ghosty. I just had to see them one time, though.”


“Oh, Mom – they’re so wonderful,” Buffy gushed. “Will is just too smart for his own good, and Jade … well ... I’m a little afraid she’s a mini-me,” Buffy admitted, twisting her face up apologetically.


Joyce laughed again. “A parent’s greatest revenge is for their children to have children of their own.”


Buffy laughed and nodded. “I totally get that.”


“So,” Joyce continued, walking over to look down at Will where he slept in his crib. “How long are you planning to keep them?”


Buffy’s brow furrowed. “What … do you mean?”


Joyce continued studying Will, not looking at Buffy. “Well, you said it yourself, Buffy: you aren’t really cut out to be a mom. How did you put it? It’s not in your … cards, right? I know how much kids will cramp your style – yours and Spike’s. I mean, you’re young – you have a whole life ahead of you. You don’t want to be tied down with kids, and I’m sure Spike doesn’t either. Now that Spike’s soul is all here, you can set Dawn free.”


“W-what?” Buffy stammered, standing behind her mother, still holding Jade.


“It’s alright, Buffy. You can just ease them on to the next life – a pillow over their little faces would work. They probably won’t even fight – they’ll just go to sleep.”


“What!?” Buffy said again, this time loud and incredulous.


Joyce turned around. She still had that serene, patient look on her face. “Buffy, honey – they’re only going to get more demanding the older they get. You aren’t going to be able to handle them – you know that. Soon, they’ll be into everything, they’ll be wanting to sleep ‘in between’ … how do you think Spike’s gonna handle that?


“You really need to nip this in the bud, before you lose Spike. He’s a passionate man, that isn’t going to change. If he can’t get it from you, he’ll go elsewhere. Then what will you do? You’ll be a single mother of twins, with no marketable skills, no prospects, and no money.” Joyce shrugged as if it was the most logical thing in the world. “You’ve done your job, Buffy. You got Dawn’s soul out of Limbo – now, you can just send it on and concentrate on taking care of your man. It’ll be for the best.”


Buffy’s mouth hung open in shock. Her heart raced in her chest as she tried to process what her mother was telling her. “You … I … you think I’m gonna lose Spike? You think he’d leave me ‘cos of the babies?


“That … that doesn’t make sense. He loves them. You should see him with them,” Buffy shook her head in disbelief. “No … that’s not – that won’t happen.”


Joyce shrugged again. “Well, if you say so, honey.” Her tone was anything but assuring or comforting – it was placating; perfectly passive-aggressive, mother-talk.


Buffy felt tears burn her eyes and she looked down at the still-sleeping Jade. “But … I … don’t understand. You said … you said I’d make a good mom that … I could do this. A-and Spike … he loves us – me and the babies – he really does.”


“I’m sure you’re right, Buffy. What do I know?”


Buffy looked back up at her mom. “What do you know? Have you … seen something? Can you see the future? Is Spike … is he gonna leave us? Is my love not gonna be enough – again?” Buffy’s words were coming fast, she felt like she couldn’t breathe. Her heart constricted in her chest and her stomach churned. Was she going to fail again? Was what she had to give not going to be enough – again!?


Buffy’s chest heaved with fear; her breaths were loud and heavy in the cheerful nursery. “You … you said I had enough. That … I had love – that it was enough. You promised!” Buffy exclaimed between ragged breaths, anger and frustration and fear all battling to the surface.


Jade stirred in her arms, Buffy’s loud voice finally waking her. The toddler reached a small hand out and curled her small fingers around a lock of her mother’s hair. Tears fell from Buffy’s eyes as she looked back down at Jade. “No, no … no. I … Mom, please. Please – there has to be some other way. I can’t hurt the babies – I could never …”


“Buffy, what’s wrong, luv? Who ya talkin’ to?” Spike asked as he stepped through the door.


Buffy spun toward him, waves of panic rolling off her. “Spike! Tell her – tell her you love the babies. You do, don’t you? You wouldn’t leave if they had a nightmare and had to sleep in between, would you? Please … tell her!”


Spike looked around the room and then back at Buffy, his brow furrowed with concern. “What’re you talkin’ about, pet? Tell who?”


“Mom!” Buffy exclaimed waving a hand at her mother’s ghost.


“There’s no one there, luv.”


“Yes, there is! Mom's right here – she says …” Buffy turned and suddenly her mother’s form morphed into a mirror of her own. Buffy blinked. “Joan? What …”


Buffy's twin laughed snidely. “You are so pathetic,” she told Buffy disdainfully. “This is the mighty Slayer – reduced to tears over the thought of losing her vampire. Tsk, tsk. This is going to be easier than I thought.”


With that, the apparition was gone.


“W-what … What’s going on?” Buffy stammered, looking wide-eyed from Spike to the empty place where her mom, then she, had been standing. “Did you see that?” she asked Spike. “Did you hear it?”


Spike shook his head and moved into the room. “No, pet, didn’t see or hear anything. What was it? What did it want?”


Buffy shook her head. “She … it … looked like Mom. It said I should … kill the babies.”


“What!?” Spike exclaimed loud enough to wake Will, who had remained sleeping through Buffy’s conversation with her dead mother.


Buffy began rocking Jade again, trying to soothe her as Spike picked his son up and did the same. “She tried to get me to kill them,” Buffy repeated. “She said that my mission was done, their souls could move on, and if I didn’t, I’d end up losing you, ‘cos they’d sleep in between and you’d go looking for it somewhere else.”


“That’s bollocks!” Spike growled, but he kept his voice low. “You know I love the bits and I love you. Know there won’t be anymore shaggin’ on the kitchen counter with them scampering about, but … bloody hell, Buffy – doesn’t mean I’m gonna run off.”


Buffy nodded. “I know that … I mean, I really do, but she somehow, she just made it sound so ... possible.”


“It wasn’t your mum. Joyce was a good lady, she’d never suggest any such rubbish,” Spike assured Buffy as he laid the now-sleeping Will back into his crib.


“Something’s found us,” Buffy breathed, her voice barely over a whisper as she laid Jade down, as well.


Spike pursed his lips, hands on his hips, and nodded. “I’ll get Joan to renew the runes under the shutters on the outside o’ the house. Been over a year … maybe they’re fadin’,” Spike suggested.


“Maybe we should paint some on the rafters in the attic and under the floorboards, too,” Buffy added.


Spike nodded his agreement as he pulled her into a hug. “Buffy, never think I don’t love the bits or you with all my heart.”


Buffy wrapped her arms around him and buried her face against his chest. She nodded against him, her tears returning. “I know. We love you too.”


“You’re a good mum. Joyce said you would be, an’ she was right. Don’t know what this was ‘ere t’night, but it wasn’t your mum,” Spike assured her.


Buffy nodded again. “No … it wasn’t,” she agreed. She just wished she knew what it was, what it wanted, and how to kick its ghosty, shape-shifty ass.




A couple of nights later…


“Yer mum thinks ‘cos I don’t have ta breathe, that I should be the one t’ always change the stinky nappies,” Spike complained to his son, who lay before him on the changing table in the nursery. “Not bloody fair, that.”


“I was beginning to think you’d never take a wife and give me any grandchildren, William.”


Spike spun away from his task of changing Will’s nappy toward the sound, fists immediately clenched and ready to strike.


“Oh, my … William!” Anne Pratt exclaimed, recoiling in fright from her son. “I didn’t mean to startle you, dear. I simply meant to see the children.”


Spike narrowed his eyes at the vision of his mother. She looked well, healthy – just as she’d been the last time he saw her, just before he dusted her.


“Dunno who you are, but you’d be smart t’ get the bloody hell outta my house,” Spike warned. “On to your little games, we are.”


“William,” Anne cajoled, fanning her face with her hand as if to calm herself from his outburst. “Surely you remember me, dear. I remember you very well, indeed.


“‘Oh, lark. Grant a sign if crook'd be Cupid's shaft. Hark, the lark, her name it hath spake. ‘Cecily’ it discharges from twixt its wee beak,’” she quoted her son’s poetry with solemn reverence.


Spike’s expression darkened. “Who the bloody hell are you?” he demanded. “And what do ya want?”


“Now, William, there’s no need to take that tone with me, and you know how I dislike vulgarities. It’s quite unbecoming. Dear Joyce told me of the grandchildren, and I simply had to come to see them for myself.”


Anne lowered her voice conspiratorially. “Just between us, I thought you might’ve been … well … not inclined toward the fairer sex … romantically, I mean. You were a bit of a Nancy boy, William; a limp, sentimental fool,” she divulged. “You can’t possibly imagine my surprise when I heard that you had married and had children! And you married the Slayer, no less.


“It is a bit worrisome, though, isn’t it? Dear William, don’t you think you’re …quite beneath her? I mean, really, dear – you’re a vampire, you’re evil incarnate. Does she know that you killed me, turned me into a monster like you, and then staked me when I wouldn’t let you slither your nasty body back into my womb?”


“That’s bloody not what happened,” Spike ground out through clenched teeth.


“Isn’t it? Whatever would she think if she found out?” Anne asked, ignoring his objection and feigning deep concern.


Spike growled at the apparition and charged. “GET OUT!” he screamed at it as he struck out ineffectually. His fists simply whipped through the air, not connecting with anything, as his mother stood unmoving and unperturbed.


“How long do you think she would allow you to live here with her and the children if she knew what you truly were? A monster,” Anne continued as Spike spun and readied himself for another strike. “Surely you haven’t deluded yourself into thinking that she loves you, William, that she would forgive your past transgressions.


“This was a mission to her,” Anne continued, waving a hand at Will, who was still on the changing table, now becoming impatient with the lack of attention. “And your part of the mission is over, dear.”


“GET OUT!” Spike demanded again, seething with frustration and fury.


“Now that she has the house and the children and some money saved up, what in the world would she possibly need you for? To write her dreadful poetry? Or do you bore her with your witless prattle as you did me?”


“OUT! OUT! OUT!” Spike screamed at her, swiping his fists through her apparition as Will began to wail at the top of his lungs.


“Now look what you’ve done, dear. Little William is crying.” Anne moved over to where the boy lay on the changing table and began to sing, “Early one morning, just as the sun was rising, I heard a maid sing in the valley below, ‘Oh, don't deceive me. Oh, never leave me. How could you use a poor maiden so?’”


Spike roared and again charged through her, grabbing up the distressed baby and whisking him away from the vision of Anne Pratt. “You are not her! Shut your gob and get the fuck outta my house!”


Suddenly, his mother was gone and Dru stood in front of him, dressed in her finest red lace and black velvet, her dark hair a sharp contrast to her ivory skin. She swayed to music only she heard, and ran her hands down her body seductively, from her breasts to her hips. “Don’t be cross with us, my pretty William,” she pouted. “Miss Edith told me a secret,” Dru breathed, moving closer to him. “Do you want to hear?”


His ex leaned in near his ear and whispered, “From beneath you it devours.” Dru pulled back, her eyes wide with evil glee, a giggle in her voice. “It will be like lollipops and lemon drops at the fair, my Spike! Oooo … the world will be ours again, my love,” she purred, bouncing on her toes gleefully. “We will …”


“Spike? What’s ...” Buffy began from the doorway.


Dru looked from Buffy to Spike, her expression darkening. “Bad dog!” she admonished Spike. “Rrrruff! Rrrruff!” she snarled at him, snapping her teeth closed with vicious clicks, before vanishing.


“Buffy!” Spike exclaimed, his eyes wide with panic, as he moved forward toward her, Will still in his arms. “How long you been there? What did you hear?” he demanded with alarm.


“Nothing – just … you yelling,” Buffy replied, her own anxiety growing with her husband’s. “What was it?”


Spike stopped and took a deep, relieved breath, running his free hand through his hair. “Not sure … that … same thing that you saw, I reckon.”


“You saw my mom?” Buffy asked, moving toward him now that he’d stopped.


“No … mine … and Dru,” Spike admitted.


Buffy’s brows furrowed. “Dru? What did they say?”


Spike shifted uncomfortably, then remembered the bare-bottomed baby in his arms and went back to the changing table to complete his task. “Dru said Miss Edith told ‘er a secret: ‘From beneath you it devours.’ Mean anything to you?”


Buffy shook her head. “No, but it doesn’t sound good.”


Spike snorted. “Dru was chuffed t’ bits over it – that’s never bloody good.”


“What about your mom, what did she say?” Buffy wondered.


“Just wanted t’ prattle on ‘bout old times. Nothin’ worth repeatin’,” Spike dodged as he fastened the diaper and picked Will back up.


When he turned around, Buffy was standing with her arms crossed, a disbelieving look on her face. “All that screaming I heard wasn’t you reminiscing about old times with your mom,” she challenged. “My mom tried to make me think I’d lose you, that I wasn’t good enough. She tried to get me to kill the babies,” Buffy reminded him.


Spike sighed heavily, then took Will and laid him in his crib, much to the youngster’s dismay. The baby immediately began to squirm around so he could pull himself up to standing behind the tall rails that enclosed him.


“Spike, just tell me,” Buffy pleaded softly, moving forward to lay a hand on his arm.


Spike heaved another dramatic sigh and turned to face her, but his eyes were on the floor. You’re beneath her, his mother’s words echoed in his mind. Surely you haven’t deluded yourself into thinking that she loves you, William, that she would forgive your past transgressions. This was a mission to her.


 “She said … that now that you ‘ad the bits, the house, and a bit of dosh, that ya wouldn’t need me anymore. That it was just a mission t’ you and …”


“Spike,” Buffy cut him off sharply. “You know better. If that was true, I would’ve gone with my first plan and left the day after I got pregnant. This isn’t a mission – it’s my life; it’s our life.”


Spike nodded, but didn’t look up at her. “Sounds right when you say it, luv … just, sounded right when she said it too.”


Finally he raised his eyes, but he was afraid to meet her gaze, afraid she'd see the truth of him – see the pathetic excuse for a man he was. “I’m less than you deserve, Buffy. I know that … always known. Just … afraid one day you’ll figure that out.”


Spike was suddenly frightened beyond all reason that his mother, or whatever this ghost was who knew him so well, would come to Buffy. That she’d tell his wife everything and then Buffy would know … she’d know what a truly hideous monster he was. The ghost of his mother was right: he didn't deserve this life, but God ... he couldn't lose it now. He couldn't allow it to be ripped from him – not without a fight.


“Spike,” Buffy cajoled, as if to dispute him, but he cut her off, deciding in that moment that he had to be the one to tell Buffy the one thing he had never wanted her to know.


“I turned my mum … right after I … met Dru,” he blurted out, his words coming fast and furious. “Drained ‘er, killed ‘er and turned ‘er into a monster, like me.”


Buffy gasped and raised a hand to her mouth in shock and horror. “Oh my God…” she murmured, caught off-guard. “Why … why would you …?”


Spike swallowed hard, his Adam’s apple bobbing wildly in his throat. “She … What I mean is, I thought she’d still be my mum after. She’d been sick, ya see? – coughing up blood, gettin’ weaker day by day. Thought I could save ‘er, yeah? Make her well again…”


“Save her by killing her and turning her into a vampire?” Buffy couldn’t stop herself from asking, incredulity dripping from the words.


Spike flinched, took a step back, and turned away from Buffy, unable to face her scorn. “Well … yeah,” he affirmed meekly. “And it worked, ‘cept … she wasn’t my mum after. My mum was a good woman, never a harsh word, but the woman that came back…” Spike’s voice trailed off, his head bowed and shaking in dismay. “The woman that came back was a demon. I had to stake ‘er, Buffy. I staked me own mum.”


Buffy gasped again. “Oh my God, Spike …”


He turned back to face Buffy, tears shimmering in his eyes. “I’m a bad man, Buffy … a bad, bad man. Don’t deserve you … don’t deserve this life … these bits.”


Spike took a long step forward and dropped down to his knees. He wrapped his arms around Buffy and clung to her in desperation.


“Please … can’t lose you, Buffy,” he begged, tears streaming from his eyes. “I can’t … I need ya so much. I’m sorry … so bloody sorry. Shoulda’ told you before … before ya … married me. Wasn’t fair … shoulda’ told you. Just couldn’t … never wanted ya to know. Never wanted you to …”


“Spike … no … it’s … alright … I … I get it, I do,” Buffy assured him as she processed all he'd said about his mom. She stroked her hand gently over his neck as a sob shuddered through his body.


“Spike, you aren’t a bad man … you’re a horrible vampire, though,” she tried to joke. He only shook his head against her abdomen, wrapping his arms around her even more tightly, like a drowning man holding to a life-raft.


“My mom … my real mom, told me something about you,” Buffy continued. “She said that you may not have a soul, but you have a heart, and she was right. Your heart is so big, Spike – I’ve seen it so many times. Your heart is so strong and true that the demon couldn’t taint it, couldn’t banish it.


“I used to think that when the demon took a vampire’s soul, that it took his heart too. I used to think that all vampires were like Angelus, that soulless meant heartless. But you’re not … you’re different.


“You turned your mom because you thought she’d keep her heart, just like you did. It’s not your fault, Spike. You were just wrong – you didn’t know that you were different, just like I didn’t know at first. But I know now,” Buffy assured him.


Buffy pulled his arms from around her waist and dropped down to her knees in front of him. She took his face between her palms and made him look at her. “You’re a good man. I love you. You can tell me anything – don’t feel like you have to keep secrets. I know what you were – I can’t say I approve, but … I get it and… I forgive you, Spike.


“Whatever this … ‘devour-y beneath you’ thing is, it’s trying to set us against each other, trying to drive a wedge between us and weaken us. We can’t let it, Spike. We have to stand by each other, now more than ever.


“And, just to be super-crystal-clear, this is a family, not a mission.”


Spike nodded, blinking back the tears that burned his eyes as relief washed over him. He couldn’t bear the thought of losing Buffy, of losing his children. The apparition had known exactly what buttons to push … it had known everything. Spike was not easily rattled or frightened, but that frightened Spike to his bones. An enemy that knew you that well was terrifying.


Buffy pulled his mouth to hers and kissed him gently. “I love you. Believe that if you don’t believe anything else.”


“I love you too, Buffy. Never hurt you or the bits, ya know that, right?”


Buffy smiled and nodded, blinking back tears of her own.


“Dada! Down!” Will cried from behind Spike.


Both Buffy and Spike laughed through their tears and broke apart to look at their son. “I think you’re being paged, Dad,” Buffy teased.


Spike bit his lip, a sad smile quirking the corners of his mouth. He stood up, pulling Buffy up with him. “Wish my mum could’ve seen ‘em, Buffy. She would’ve melted over ‘em … woulda loved you too, pet. She was a strong woman … a good woman, had a big heart. Lot like Joyce, she was.”


A stray tear leaked from the corner of Buffy’s eye as she nodded.  “Maybe somewhere my mom and your mom are sitting in a kitchen, having coffee, and looking down on them, gushing over every little thing they do,” she suggested.


Spike let his smile widen as he picked Will up out of the crib, but it didn't reach his eyes. Buffy could still see the worry and anguish reflected in their cerulean depths, despite his attempt to look unruffled. “That’s a right nice thought, Slayer.”


Buffy returned Spike’s smile, hoping she looked more reassuring than he did. She envisioned the twins’ grandmothers sitting together, looking down from heaven, watching over the little ones, arguing about which child got which behavior or feature from whom.


It was a nice thought. Unfortunately it didn’t offset the fact that someone, something, had found them, something that knew them as well, perhaps even better, than they knew themselves, and they had no idea how to fight it or even what it wanted.




I’ll Stand By You, The Pretenders




Oh, why you look so sad?
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now
Don't be ashamed to cry
Let me see you through
'cause I've seen the dark side too
When the night falls on you
You don't know what to do
Nothing you confess
Could make me love you less

I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you

So if you're mad, get mad
Don't hold it all inside
Come on and talk to me now
Hey, what you got to hide?
I get angry too
Well I'm a lot like you
When you're standing at the crossroads
And don't know which path to choose
Let me come along
'cause even if you're wrong

I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I'll never desert you
I'll stand by you

And when...
When the night falls on you, baby
You're feeling all alone
You won't be on your own

I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you

I'll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I'll never desert you
I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you

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