***Part 3***

Buffy placed the last bottle over the bottle rack to dry and finished wiping down the counters. Tara and Willow were good at cleaning up, but there was always a forgotten bottle or something that needed to be tended to before bed. Those little baby spoons were often the biggest culprits of getting forgotten about. She was still wound up from the evening. Tracking the demon had been messy - and weird.

It was clear that Riley and Buffy were not suited to fight together. She was comfortable with Spike and came to realize during the evening why she used to dread Riley patrolling with her. She did not have to worry about Spike unless something they came up against turned out to be human. As it turned out, Buffy had taken care of the Suvolte demon when it managed to get both Riley and Spike pinned with their backs against a wall. They then went in search of the eggs, which Buffy and Spike had a little chat with Willy about. Spike paid him while Buffy punched him so that he would not lose face in front of his clientele for helping the enemy.

Buffy pulled her hair back and secured it with a scrunchie before taking a Coke out of the refrigerator. "Spike, I'm done in here do you want anything?" She walked to the doorway when he did not answer and felt tears form in her eyes at the sight in front of her. Spike was dozing on the couch with Scotty soundly asleep on Spike's bare chest. She could not blame her son for falling asleep on Spike's chest; she had done it many times over the past year.

She wondered if Scott noticed Spike had no heartbeat and how she would explain it when he got old enough to ask. Heartbeats were supposed to be soothing to children, the mother's heartbeat in particular. She remembered the first time she heard little Scotty's. Spike had come with her because she had been too afraid to go alone, afraid that something would be wrong with her baby.

No one else seemed to understand her fears about that exactly, but Spike understood. That was no surprise; Spike always seemed to understand Buffy better than the others. Spike had tried to assure her before she heard the heartbeat for the first time. He claimed with his enhanced vampire hearing that he could hear it, but she would not be consoled until she heard it with her own ears. She had been thrilled at the sound of the baby's heartbeat and seeing him on the ultrasound screen had brought her to tears.

They looked so at peace, anyone looking at the man and the baby would assume they were father and son. Scotty shifted his head slightly, rubbing his downy hair against Spike's ivory chest and made the cute little noise he made when he was sleeping. It was not a coo exactly, sort of a mixture of coo and exhale of breath.

She set her Coke down and lifted Scotty from where he slept on top of Spike. She cradled him to her, one hand under his little butt and the other at his head. He had the softest brown hair and the biggest hazel eyes that were so expressive. He was precious and a miracle, Buffy knew it. That is what ultimately led to her decision to have him; she knew it might be her one and only chance to have a child.

Had she known both her mom and Dawn would be gone she might have made a different decision. She had never gotten to tell her mom she was pregnant, she had died before she knew for sure she was going to have Scotty. But Dawn knew and had been thrilled about becoming an aunt. Willow and Xander assured her that should anything happen to her they would take Scotty. Buffy was grateful to her friends, grateful to know that her son would be taken care of, but felt bad that if something were to happen to her she had nothing to leave behind to aid her friends in raising her son.

She stepped away from the couch and went upstairs, placing Scotty in his crib. She opened up his sleeper to make sure he did not need to be changed. She turned on the baby monitor and took the receiver end, closing the nursery door behind her. She stopped by the vase in the foyer and lifted out one of the roses. She still could not believe that Spike had bought her roses. The only other time she had gotten roses had been from Angelus.

She sat on the edge of the couch and traced the rose along the still sleeping vampire's jaw and chin. He mumbled something, turned into the rose and Buffy found herself crying again. She was so tired of crying all the time; it seemed that's all she did anymore. No one but Spike ever saw her do it, which she was glad of.

"Buffy?" came Spike's voice soft and questioning, as if he thought she might be a dream.

"Yeah," she said, still holding the rose by his face. "Hi."

"What are you doing, luv?"

"Nothing," she said, embarrassed he had caught her and drew her hand away.

"It smells nice," he said watching her, his eyes wide. She could not see the color of them because there were no lights on in the room but she had his eyes memorized anyway. She did not need lights to know that he was looking at her, his blue eyes wide with love and sincerity. "Did you put little one to bed?"

"Yeah, he didn't even wake up between here and his crib."

"I miss him when he's gone," he said, his eyes drifting closed at the statement.

"You miss him?"

"Yeah, his warmth, his smell, his trust. For the briefest of moments, when he's taking his bottle, grabbing onto my finger, rolling around on the floor, or even just sleeping on me I feel alive. I feel human."

"I'm sorry."

"No, luv," he said lifting his arm, his hand cupping her cheek. "You have nothing to be sorry for. I like it. In one hundred twenty years, I'd never held a baby until now," he said with a slight shrug. "Well," he said and stopped.

"Don't go there," she said with a light laugh. She took a deep breath and moved her head just a little, just enough so that she could kiss the palm of his hand resting against her face.

"Are you going to tell him?"

"I don't think so. Is that wrong?"

"There's different levels of wrong, pet. I don't think it's right, but I can't say as I blame you."

"He could try and take him away from me."

"He could," Spike admitted. "Of course, the grounds he would have to get him would be difficult for him to prove. Like a lawyer would take him seriously talking about Slayers and vampires and demons."

"Well, all they'd have to do is throw you out into the sun without a blanket and they'd believe part of it. Besides, I only have a part-time job and you're living here, helping me support my son."

"You have a part-time job so that you can go to school, Buffy. No one can fault you for that. Your dad's helping you with the bills, paying for your schooling. You have me here so he's never in daycare, yet he's around Willow, Tara, Xander, Anya and Giles enough that he's not cut off from the world or anything. All that babies need socializing crap I read about in one of those books you bought."

"I know," she said, lowering the rose to his chiseled jaw once again. His lips parted and he moaned as she traced the bud along the length of his jaw, tickling his earlobe with it. Buffy found she was surprisingly aroused at the sound such a simple action on her part elicited in him.

She had been debating for months on what to do with Spike, whether to take their relationship past friendship. She was afraid of him, of his devotion to her, which was the reason behind her hesitation. Angel and Riley had both left her, what if she let Spike into her heart and he left too? She had realized recently that letting him so totally into her life was the same as letting him into her heart. Tonight had proved to her that maybe, just maybe she should take the risk. He had gone out of his way to do something nice for her because of the holiday, even though he was not her lover.

The one friend she had made while working at the local drug store as a cashier did not believe Buffy's denial of involvement with Spike beyond friendship. Lara reminded Buffy of Faith even in physical appearance. She wondered if that was why she had gone out of her way to befriend Lara.

Like Faith, Lara seemed alone. She had no family here, was uncertain but tried to cover that up with bravado and false pride. Buffy worked at the drug store because the hours were flexible around her school and slaying schedules. Lara needed the job, which worked out well for Buffy because Lara was always willing to fill in for Buffy if something came up that she could not make a shift.

Yesterday at work, Lara told Buffy what a rare catch Spike was. Buffy had laughed at the comment. But she supposed it was true in a way. How many chipped, evil vampires was Buffy going to get to know well enough to have them fall in love with her? But something that Lara said Buffy could not brush off and dismiss easily.


"You've got some man there, Buffy," Lara said once Spike had left the store from getting a carton of cigarettes. The fact that he paid for the carton was amazing to Buffy, but he always managed to find some excuse to visit her on her shift.

"Yeah, why do you say that?" Buffy asked, watching through the window as Spike put Scotty into his car seat and then stood outside the car, smoking a cigarette. The fact that a vampire would be considerate enough not to smoke in front of her baby was pretty amazing. She wondered if Spike even realized he did it, she never asked him not to smoke in front of Scotty he just always went outside.

"Because, girl, any guy as hot as he is who helps take care of a baby that's not even his rates being called some man."

"You think so?" Buffy had asked really never thinking about it. She just took it for granted because Spike had more or less worked his way into being involved with her pregnancy with his persistence.

"Take a poll around here, Buffy. Ask any man who works with us or a customer if they would even stick around knowing the woman they loved got pregnant by another man."

"But we're not even dating and we weren't dating when I got pregnant."

"But you said he loved you."

"Well, yeah, I thought it was just a phase, though. I mean, he's Spike," Buffy said as if that explained everything. In a way it did, Spike could probably have any woman he wanted if he set his mind to it. Buffy sometimes wondered if he had set his sights on Buffy because she was unobtainable and if he would lose interest in her and set his sights on someone else if that went away.

"Does it seem like just a phase to you, Buffy? I mean, he's living with you. Does he change diapers?"

"Well, yeah, I do when I'm home, but yeah he does."

"Girl, if you don't snatch him up I might. Though looking at you, I don't know that I'd be his type."

"Oh, you'd be surprised about Spike," Buffy said softly, her thoughts turning to Drusilla, his dark princess who was the opposite of Buffy. Dark to light, vampire to Slayer, grandsire's childe to grandsire's lover.


"What are you thinking, pet?" he asked and Buffy could tell even without the lights on he had slipped into game face.

"Oh nothing. I was thinking about how happy you made me today. And I was thinking that I never even got to give you my gift."

"You got me a gift?"

"Yeah, it's not as nice as what you gave me, but yeah," she said and stood from the couch. She went and got the card she had bought him the day before after her conversation with Lara and the long stem, solid chocolate rose she had bought to go with it. "I'm sorry it's not much."

"Buffy," he said and Buffy thought she saw tears in his eyes. It had to be a trick of the light, there was no way Spike would cry or tear up over a simple card. But he remained lying on the couch, the card and rose clutched to his chest before he sat up and turned on the lamp by his side. She sat next to him while he read it, not recalling a time she was more nervous. It was a huge step for her; surely he had to know that.

The card was nothing gushy or mushy, it was Snoopy hugging himself, blowing kisses into the air, and clutching a heart in between his paws offering his Valentine hugs, kisses and well wishes.

"I know it's stupid and lame," she said when he had not said anything. There were not that many words on the card, even if it was one of those trifold cards, so he had to have read it by now. "I just, there aren't that many cards that don't profess undying love and all of that other stuff."

"I understand, pet, thank you," he said, still regarding the card. "I don't mind Snoopy; he's probably my favorite cartoon character. He's cool after all, Joe Cool, the red baron and all that," he said with a tilt of his head, regarding her through hooded eyes. And sure enough, there were tears in his eyes, unshed ones forming watery diamond like crystals in his eyes.

She leaned forward and kissed him. She fought the urge to pull away, to draw back and shield her heart from anymore pain she might inflict on it by getting involved with a man again. But Lara was right, if he had not left by now Buffy suspected he was not going to.

They fell into the kiss easily, comfortably, both giving and taking. Their lips remained together, parting slightly to allow Buffy to breathe but nothing more. She sensed that Spike was holding back and was grateful he was, for right now. This was a big enough step, she was not sure she was ready to be French kissing Spike.

She drew away needing to breathe more than the small gasps she had been getting in during their kiss. Her heart was racing, her hands were sweaty due to her nervousness over the card and the kiss, and she was struggling to breathe normally. These were probably things of the good as far as Spike was concerned.

"Buffy," she heard him say as he set the card and chocolate rose on the table and looked into her eyes.


"Thank you, for the card, for the candied rose, for the kiss. Especially for the kiss, but I'm not here to help you put ghosts to rest."

"I know, I'm not, that's not what I was doing." Her hands went to his chest, her fingers spreading along the width of his pectorals.

"Are you sure about that?"

"Yeah, I'm sure. What you said earlier is right, Spike. I wouldn't be happy with him. I don't know yet about telling him the truth."

"Hopefully, he doesn't suspect and won't go sniffing around asking questions."

"Well, no one would tell him."

"Well, no, but it wouldn't take a genius to look up his birth certificate, take in his date of birth do a little subtraction and come up with forty weeks before then being just before he left town in the middle of the night."

"You're right. Sooner or later I'll have to face it or lie about it. I could always say it was some guy I hooked up with after he left."

"Right, like he'd believe that."

"You forget about the guy before Riley."

"I try to forget about all your guys, Buffy, but yeah I guess I had forgotten about the little weasel."

"I could say that you and I wanted a baby."

"And you think he'd buy my letting you go out and shagging someone to get that way? Buffy, he knows me better than that. Pain in my head or not, I'd rip anyone to shreds who came near you."


"Really," he said evenly, his eyes conveyed his seriousness.

Buffy swallowed hard. She had forgotten about the possessiveness thing. She used to torment Angel back before they had stopped denying their feelings for one another. Sometimes it had been intentional, sometimes it had been out of spite because she was tired of not being able to have him yet wanting him, and sometimes it had been because she truly wanted to try for some normalcy in her life. That was a long time ago; she had been sixteen and seventeen, a high school girl. She was a junior in college due to some hard work last summer catching up on the semester she dropped out of because of Glory, a mother, and an adult. Her life would never be normal; Scotty was the most normal thing she would ever hope to do. "Well, at least we know he can't beat it out of me," she said with a light laugh, hoping to make the conversation a little lighter.

"That's one way of looking at it, and he's no Glory so I think you know I'd never tell."

"Do you really like Snoopy? Or were you just saying that to make me feel better?"

"It's from you, so I'd like it no matter what, pet."

"Okay," she said softly, shyly and with her hands still at his chest pushed him so he sat back against the couch. She straddled him and draped her arms over his shoulders. "I want to give you some of those hugs and kisses now, is that all right?"

"Do I get to collect more later or is this a one-time payment?"

"I think there's the chance of more later," she murmured before lowering her body along his until their mouths met once again.

Memories of kissing him under the influence of Willow's spell came flooding back as her brain shut down and she opened her heart, letting her heart decide for the first time in years. She had not even let her heart decide with Riley. Riley had been safe, they had taken things slow but she still did not know Riley as well as she knew Spike. Riley certainly never knew her, at least not the real her because there were parts he could not deal with.

She had said once the spell had been broken that kissing him had been disgusting. She had been too afraid of Spike's ridicule to admit he had kissed incredibly well so she had lied. She was no pro when it came to this stuff. Sure she had two years of intense kissing under her belt with Angel and about a year of sex with Riley. But sex with Riley was pretty dull and monotonous, so she was not sure how that counted toward experience. Was it experience when you felt smothered and unsatisfied all of the time?

Her hands went from his shoulders around his neck, pulling her body flush against his. She had showered and changed into one of her tank tops and a pair of workout pants when they got home earlier. His hands were at her back, caressing and she knew when his hands went over the spot at the middle of her back once, twice and a third time followed by a muffled groan that he realized she was not wearing a bra. She could not help but feel the heat of arousal rush through her when that seemed to turn him on.

The doorbell rang and Buffy drew away from him with a whimper of protest. His hands slid from her lower back to her bottom, cupping her with his palms as his fingertips grazed the backs of her thighs. "I don't want to get it. Anybody coming to the house at this time of night is only coming here for Slayery stuff. I don't want to be the Slayer tonight, I want to be Buffy tonight."

The doorbell rang a second time and she groaned. "They'll go away," she whispered until a rap at the door came. She sighed and slid off his lap, feeling the loss of his touch as soon as she pulled away from him and his hands were no longer on her. "Don't go away," she whispered.

"I don't think you have to worry about that," he said with a smirk. She smiled when his eyes raked over the length of her body. She knew her arousal was apparent, her peaks were at attention and he had not even done anything to stimulate them. But she was not embarrassed about it, instead she found it exciting. Exciting that he wanted to sit there with the light on and look at her. Riley had never wanted to look at her. Always the lights were off.

Another knock at the door. "I'm coming," she called out as she walked from the living room to the front door. "Riley," she said, tugging on her top until she realized it was probably making her current state more obvious. "What are you doing here?"

"Buffy, we need to talk."

"Riley, you can't come here at this hour telling me we need to do anything."

"Buffy," he said crisply, in that military voice of his. He was used to getting his way; he was not used to having to say please to anyone.

She placed a hand in her hair, running it through her blonde tresses and sighed heavily. "Come in," she said softly and stepped away from the door. She walked to the living room, where the card and chocolate rose were in plain view. She was embarrassed at how lame the chocolate rose would look after Spike had gotten her roses. She stopped feeling quite so embarrassed when her eyes fell on Spike who was draped casually on the couch, still shirtless and looking yummier than the chocolate rose. The real rose she had used to touch his face with was clutched in his hand. Buffy had no idea where his shirt even was, he might not have bothered to put one on after his shower for all she knew. Not that she cared. There was certainly nothing wrong with a shirtless Spike.

Riley came into the living room just as Buffy sat next to Spike. "Is there another demon or something?"

"No," Riley said obviously watching the two of them on the couch. Good, Buffy thought, let him wonder what he interrupted.

"Well, then what? It's late and I'm ready for bed."

"I was hoping we could talk. Privately."

"We can talk sure; I don't know what we have to talk about. We broke up, you left town, you came back to fight a demon and looked me up for help. You can look me up anytime, Riley. I have no problem helping the home team."

If looks could kill the look Riley bestowed upon Spike as he adjusted his jeans with faux discreetness and stood from the couch would have dusted Spike where he stood. "I guess I'll leave you two to talk then, pet. I'll be upstairs, try not to be too long." Ordinarily, Buffy would have gotten angry at him for saying something like that. But she could not find it within herself to get angry tonight. She was turned on and wanted nothing more than to follow Spike up the stairs to see where their kissing might lead if it were done in a bed. His words about ripping someone to shreds repeated in her mind and she smiled slightly that he really had meant it. He slid the rose into her hand carefully and kissed her. "Finn," he said with contempt and left the room.

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