Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Genre: Romance, with a drama/angst chaser.
Rating: FRM – Nothing too graphic, just some mild swearing, adult situations, etc.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, least of all the characters of this story.
Spoilers: This story takes place roughly in season six, after the episode ‘Entropy’, so there may be some mild spoilers for anything up to and including this point.
Warnings: This is a male-pregnancy story, so yeah, some ick factor is involved. Some vague mentioning of past rape in later chapters (particularly chapter 6). And it's slash. All in all, fairly tame.
Author's Note: WIP - Nice comments appreciated.
Laughter, joyous and ebullient, filled the confines of the Magic Box. It was infectious, and shared by all who were in the main room, save Xander who was completely stunned by this reaction to his declaration. Then again, it was just his luck to get the most laughs on the one occasion he was being perfectly serious.
“ Dare I ask what everyone finds so amusing?” Giles asked, returning from the back room of the Magic Box.
“ Go on, Xander,” Buffy said, winded from her laughing fit, and still giggling slightly. “ Say it again.”
Xander didn’t really want to have to repeat himself, not if everyone was just going to laugh again, but as usual the instinct to obey over-rode any attempts he might have made to preserve his dignity.
“ I’m pregnant,” Xander said obediently. Giles rolled his eyes skyward, though the corners of his mouth threatened to twist up into a smile; Buffy, Dawn, and Willow went back into hysterics. Even Tara was laughing softly, though she at least had restrained herself from rolling on the floor with glee, unlike a certain slayer who would remain nameless. Xander was beginning to feel a little like the ‘boy who cried wolf’; maybe if he hadn’t claimed so many farfetched things in his lifetime, they would have known that this time he wasn’t joking. He almost wished Anya were here; she always took things literally.
“ What’s all this then?” said Spike, striding through the front door of the magic shop. Xander groaned.
Never one to miss an opportunity for making Xander’s life more miserable, Spike plonked himself down next to Xander, intentionally jostling him with an elbow. Spike smirked when Xander didn’t even retaliate.
“ Well, we were asking Xander about all the weird habits he’s had lately. You know? The puking, the mood swings, the obsession with food… though that last one isn’t exactly new,” Willow said teasingly.
“ He’s having a baby, apparently,” Willow said, snickering.
“ Can you imagine? Xander all big and fat - getting ready for the ‘big day’. How would a guy give birth anyway? Do you think it comes out of their…” Dawn’s hypothesizing was abruptly cut short by Buffy’s exclamation of protest.
“ Eww! Dawn, don’t say it, please. Bad mental image. Do you see how you’re corrupting my baby sister Alexander Harris?”
Willow was laughing hard again. “ I’m sorry, I just got a picture in my head of Xander with a huge belly, dressed in a muumuu and fuzzy pink slippers,” she explained. This of course started Buffy and Dawn off again.
“ Ahem,” Giles said loudly. “ If we could put the hilarity aside for a moment, I believe there was a real reason we all met here tonight? Remember? The demon we are trying to identify? Spike, you said you had no information for us; why are you here?”
“ I’m out of blood. Thought if I proved helpful you might see your way to giving me some,” Spike said.
“ I don’t have any blood to give you,” Giles said stonily.
Spike, who was not about to be so easily gotten rid of, returned with: “ Money then.”
Giles gave a sigh of defeat, and wandered off again into the back room for a cup of tea. The rest of the group members grabbed a couple of books from the table, and began sifting through them with poorly concealed boredom. Spike lifted a dusty tome, and placed it in front of him, pretending to be studying the pages but really just looking for gory pictures. Spike was annoyed that he had missed the period of Q and A regarding Xander’s pregnancy, for he had more than a few questions of his own. Well, it wasn’t so much questions he had, as rude comments, but at any rate, he was sorry to have missed his opportunity. To further Spike’s disappointment, it didn’t seem as though the subject would be brought up again as everyone was settling into their regular research routines. Spike considered this and thought it was rather odd that everyone, save Xander himself, was taking the news so calmly. At the very least, he would have predicted some sympathy for Xander’s plight. Spike then dismissed his thought as unimportant and started writing naughty words in the margins of his book with a pencil.
Xander didn’t even bother with the pretence of picking up a book. These were his friends, and yet in his moment of crisis, they had laughed. Granted they thought he was pulling a prank, but their ignorance, while not deliberate, still hurt. Didn’t they know him at all? Perhaps he should have been more vocal, should have tried harder to convince them, but it had taken all his courage just to blurt out ‘I’m pregnant’. He hadn’t realized that he would have to convince them as well as confess. Suddenly the need to be alone was overwhelming. The truth would sort itself out eventually, but what he wanted most right now was to go home to his apartment, and his warm bed, and pretend he felt safe.
“ Right, I’m off,” Xander said. His voice held a trace of the bitterness he was feeling, but nobody seemed to notice. They were more upset that he was shirking his slayerette duties.
“ But you haven’t done anything yet,” Buffy protested.
“ Wouldn’t make any difference if I stayed, and at least I admit that I’m not working. Spike’s drawing moustaches and fangs on all the pictures,” Xander accused.
“ What? I’m doing you lot a favour. They look much more interesting this way.”
Slayer and company glared at Spike. Spike sneered at Xander; “ Should have figured you for a tattletale.”
“ Whatever. I’m leaving,” Xander said, yawning.
“ You should get home. After all, good little mommies need their rest,” Dawn teased, a wide grin on her face. Xander tensed at the gibe, but didn’t respond, preferring just to leave as quietly as he could.
Trudging home, Xander brooded. The worst thing was, that had he gone with his instincts, and told his friends nothing, then he would have been better off. His problems going unnoticed was preferable to having those same problems laughed at. Besides, he was rather adept at denial and hiding away, and he had plenty of practice at being invisible. He should have played to his strengths, he thought ruefully.
Back at the magic shop, the girls were giggling about Xander’s pregnancy again.
“ You know, I really thought he was going to give it up before he left,” Buffy said.
“ This is Xander we’re talking about. Just watch, tomorrow he’ll go one step further. I’m thinking triplets,” Willow said.
“ Aren’t you lot the least bit worried?” Spike interjected. He just had to find out why everyone was so damn accepting.
“ Huh? What do you mean?” Buffy asked. The others looked at him with equally puzzled expressions.
“ I realize we’re used to some strange dealings around here, but Harris having a baby? Not exactly common, is it?”
Dawn snickered, “ Oh come on. You didn’t fall for that, did you? You should be careful, I think some peroxide leeched into your brain.”
It was Spike’s turn to look utterly baffled. “ You… you all think it’s a joke?”
Buffy rolled her eyes, “ Well of course it is. You might have noticed that Xander’s a guy? As in a male?”
“ One word: Hellmouth.”
Willow looked a little less certain, as she said, “ But he was just teasing, right?”
“ Yes!” Buffy said, starting to get exasperated.
“ He bloody well wasn’t teasing! Thought there was something off with his smell for a while now; put it together tonight. And that’s not mentioning how twitchy he was when you all kept laughing.”
The expressions gracing the girls’ faces were hard to describe. Shock, incredulity, worry, and embarrassment, were all vying for dominance.
“ Oh God, Buffy. What if he really is pregnant and we just laughed at him?”
“ I still don’t see… Giles!”
Giles came into the main room, thinking they must have uncovered the demon they were after. Which was good news because he had been running out of ways to appear occupied.
“ Giles, is it possible for men to get pregnant?” Buffy asked.
“ Ha!” Buffy crowed.
“ At least, not naturally. There are a few spells that can achieve it, potions, and mystical items. Some documented cases describe a wish being granted. Some demons… Wait, why are you asking?”
“ Spike says Xander really is pregnant. He says he can smell it,” Willow replied. She was biting her lip now nervously, and Tara was running soothing hands across her back.
“ Oh dear,” Giles said, with his uncanny ability to understate things.
Spike was amused at the mayhem that he had inadvertently caused, but the guilt emanating from the small group was getting boring, and he wanted to collect his money and leave. Giles and the girls were all talking at once, and Willow was trying to get Xander on the phone, apparently without much success. It didn’t seem polite to interrupt, so Spike removed a twenty from Giles’ wallet in the confusion and slinked off.
Xander let his phone ring and ring, until the shrill noise annoyed him so much that he had to unplug it. He wasn’t up to talking anymore, and all joking aside, the pregnancy really did leave him feeling more tired than usual. He was currently staring at a glass of milk, trying to convince himself he would enjoy it more than the beer in his fridge or the whiskey in the cupboard. With a deep breath, Xander chugged the milk, wrinkling his nose slightly at the taste. Foul stuff. He would really have to pick up some chocolate syrup tomorrow to make it palatable.
With a heavy sigh, he rinsed the glass out in the kitchen sink and got ready for bed. As always happened when Xander climbed under the covers for the night, he was reminded of Anya. At first, it had felt odd sleeping alone, and he’d contemplated getting a new bed, one that was free of any memories. Gradually, those thoughts had faded, and now he was glad he’d held on to this piece of furniture. It really was a nice bed. Anya had taken a lot of the other furniture and appliances and, at the time, his guilt had been so strong that he hadn’t even complained. She had left the TV, the couch, and the bed. There wasn’t much else he needed anyway. It was almost a blessing in disguise; it would be easier to move homes with his apartment as denuded as it was.
The following morning, Xander got up early, vomited for a good thirty minutes, ate some plain, dry toast and headed for work. He worked long into the evening, eagerly accepting the offered overtime. Finally, just after sunset, things were called to a halt, and everyone on the site hurried home. The citizens of Sunnydale were slow to learn, but at least they had picked up on a few things. Exhausted, Xander entered his apartment and plugged his phone back in. Instantly, it rang.
“ Xander? Where have you been? I’ve been trying to reach you all day! I came to your apartment, and I went by your work.”
“ I was moved to a different site, I told you that last week,” Xander said. He could practically see the guilt on Willow’s face.
“ Oh right, I forgot,” Willow said quietly.
“ It’s okay, what did you want?”
“ You’re… you really are pregnant, aren’t you?”
“ Yes,” Xander said.
“ Why didn’t you… We would have listened but we thought you were joking, and I feel like such an idiot for not seeing that you were telling the truth but I mean it was pretty hard to imagine, and I guess…”
Xander decided to interrupt her nervous babbling: “ Will, it’s okay. I did just sort-of blurt it out.”
“ Well, how did this happen? When? How long have you known?”
There was a pause, and he could tell Willow was taking a deep breath, preparing for another long string of questions. “ Willow? I really don’t want to do this over the phone. That’s why I tried to do it yesterday, when we were all in one place.”
“ Of course, but…”
“ I’m really tired, Will,” Xander said forcefully.
There was another awkward pause and then Willow’s small voice, tinged with sadness: “ Okay, I guess we can talk on Friday at the next meeting. Unless you need to talk to me earlier.”
“ Friday’s good. See you then,” Xander said, hanging up. He felt bad for being so abrupt, but he was still mad at her, and he didn’t want to risk saying something really hurtful.
He didn’t feel particularly hungry, but he still turned on the oven, and popped in a frozen pizza. While it was cooking, he took a long, hot shower. Dressed in boxers and a t-shirt, his standard sleepwear, he retrieved his dinner, and a glass of orange juice. He ate methodically in front of the television, without really seeing what he was watching. As soon as he had finished cleaning his dishes, he went to bed and fell asleep almost immediately. Tomorrow promised to be another hard day.
Xander worked virtually from sun up to sun down every single day, putting in an impressive amount of overtime. Friday arrived with Xander barely noticing the passing of time, but now that his shift was coming to a close, he started getting anxious. His friends had been strangely silent this past week – even with Willow warning them about his pissy mood, he had expected a few more calls. They must be dying of curiosity by now.
After a lot of thinking, Xander had finally decided on exactly what he would and wouldn’t tell them. There were some things he wanted to keep secret, simply because he could not see why anyone else would need to know. However, knowing his friends as he did, he was fairly certain they would only be satisfied with the complete story, and he would just have to hope that he was strong enough to withstand any demands.
“ Hey,” Xander said, nervously addressing the group that had gathered in Buffy’s living room.
He was early for the meeting, but everyone was already there. Tara was present so obviously the reconciliation between her and Willow was going well. He knew he could count on Tara to remain neutral on the subject of his pregnancy, so he wasn’t upset she was there. Willow looked as though she had been crying, which made him feel awful. Dawn and Giles were trying to hide their curiosity. Dawn was having little success, her eyes wide and staring, whereas Giles was acting decidedly more subtle. Buffy was the first to meet Xander’s gaze, and she had the same determined glint in her eye she usually got when she was about to face down a particularly nasty demon. It did not bode well for the evening.
“ We’ll fix this, Xander, I swear,” Buffy said.
“ Are you feeling okay? Do you need to sit down? I can get you something to drink. There’s coke, there’s juice, and I made cookies, lots of cookies,” Willow said, rushing over to him. She hugged him gingerly, and tried to lead him to the couch.
“ Juice would be great, Willow,” Xander said, sitting down. Willow hurried to the kitchen and poured him a glass of fruit punch. Nobody said anything until she was back, and even then they watched Xander drink as though completely fascinated.
“ It’s not about to burst out of my stomach like in Aliens, you know,” Xander told them.
Some of the tension broke, and everyone leaned back in their chairs.
“ So how did this happen?” Giles asked.
“ Wait, I want to know what made you all change your minds. What made you believe I was really pregnant?”
“ It was Spike, actually,” Buffy admitted. “ He was wondering why we were all laughing. He can smell your blood or something, and so he knew you weren’t kidding around.”
Typical, Xander thought. They believe the lying, homicidal vampire, rather than the faithful, human sidekick. He tried not to let it upset him.
“ Hmm, yeah, that would make sense, I guess,” Xander said.
“ So how did you know you were pregnant?” Dawn asked.
“ Anya told me. After she got her powers back, and after we could be in the same room without her plotting my grisly demise, we had a long talk. She could sense the baby, somehow. So of course she then slapped me for cheating on her when we were together, and went back to planning my grisly demise. I’d been feeling a bit off for a while though. The symptoms all match, but of course I didn’t link them with pregnancy on my own.”
“ How far are you along?”
“ I’m nearing the end of my first trimester. The morning nausea will hopefully ease off now. That’s what the books say, anyway.”
“ And… well, I was up most of the night researching, and Immaculate Conception is extraordinarily rare so I’m assuming you had a partner?” Giles asked. His tone was professional and devoid of any judgement.
Buffy’s was not, “ Oh my God, you did cheat on Anya! With who?”
Xander kept his mouth shut, but his jaw noticeably clenched.
“ It’s okay Xander. I mean, you probably had a really good reason for… needing company,” Willow said, trying to be understanding.
“ I didn’t cheat on Anya, and that’s all you need to know.”
“ Xander, if we’re going to stop this pregnancy, we have to know all the details, including who the father, err, the other donor, is. It would be very foolhardy to go into this without all the facts,” Giles explained.
Xander took a shaky breath, before saying, “ I don’t want an abortion. I’m going to keep the baby.”
There was a moment of complete silence following his words, and then that silence was shattered as three voices started speaking at once.
“ You can’t possibly; you can have no idea what you’ll be giving birth to,” Giles exclaimed.
“ It’s a demon, Xander. A parasite! What else could grow in a male body? How can you stand to have it inside you?” Buffy shouted, her fingers clenching around an imaginary stake as though tempted to plunge it straight into Xander’s abdomen, and finish things once and for all.
“ Xander, it’s so dangerous! You could be hurt,” said Willow tearfully.
“ It’s not up for discussion,” Xander said, his arms crossed over his stomach protectively. “ I would like your support, but I’m prepared to do this with or without your help.”
Giles had stood up and was pacing a small section of carpeted floor. “ Have you thought this through at all? Never mind the implications of having a potentially demonic offspring, are you really ready to go though all the ordeals of pregnancy?”
“ I’m not an idiot, and it’s not like I just decided this. But it is my decision, and I’m keeping this baby, no matter what.”
“ You’re a selfish boy, and you have no idea of the consequences of your actions,” Giles said harshly.
Xander stood up, his hands curling into fists. He looked briefly at Buffy, who was thinking the same things as her watcher, and then he glanced at Willow. Willow was studying the carpet, unwilling to take a position.
“ It’s just a baby. I think Xander should keep it if he wants,” Dawn said loudly, squaring her shoulders.
“ Well of course you would, you’re just as immature as he is,” Buffy snapped at her. “ Besides you’re only agreeing because you like Xander.”
“ At least one of us does,” Dawn hissed at her sister.
“ Enough!” Giles said, and instantly the two siblings stopped bickering. “ We are losing the focus of the argument, which is that Xander is likely to give birth to a dangerous creature, one that could very likely hurt or kill him when it emerges.”
“ How do you know that?” Xander countered. “ Maybe I have a male lover, a human male lover, and maybe we wanted to get pregnant, and so he bought a potion. In which case, this baby is entirely human. Do you still want to get rid of it?”
“ Is that the truth?” Buffy demanded. “ I won’t kill it if it’s human, you know that.”
“ Well, you’ll just have to wait and see, because I’ve shared all I’m going to tonight. I have a problem, I’ve given you guys the heads up about it, and now I’m going back to my life and you can all stay the hell out of it if you want.”
Xander stomped angrily to the front door, flinging it open with alacrity. He heard Willow call after him, but he didn’t turn back. Buffy ran after him, and forced him to stop by gripping his shoulder.
“ Look,” she said calmly, “ I won’t stop you from continuing the pregnancy, if that’s what you really want. I’ll even go so far as to wish you good luck.”
“ Thanks,” he mumbled. “ That means a lot to me.”
Buffy’s expression hardened, “ But if there’s so much as a single scale or the hint of a horn on that thing when it’s born, then I will kill it, do you understand? You may hate me for it, but if that’s what it takes to protect you, then that’s what I’ll do.”
Xander paled, for he knew that she spoke the absolute truth. He instinctively stepped away from Buffy, and shielded his stomach with his hands.
“ You don’t have to worry about me,” Xander said.
“ You really want this baby don’t you?” Buffy asked. An answer wasn’t required, but as Buffy walked him to his apartment, Xander turned the question over and over in his mind. Did he want the baby? Well he must, considering he had stood up to all of his friends tonight saying just that. When he had first realized he was pregnant, his reaction had been much the same as those he had witnessed tonight from his friends. It was an unwanted aberration that had to be removed immediately. When the moment came to act, however, he found himself reluctant. The idea of having a child had grown on him, he supposed, no pun intended. But it hadn’t been until that very evening that he had realized just how much this baby meant to him, and how just how far he was willing to go to protect it.
At his door, Buffy gave him a quick one-armed hug, before turning back the way she had come. Xander slipped into his quiet apartment building, and headed straight for his bedroom. He lay on his back, staring at the ceiling, still thinking and making plans. His fingers traced circles on his cotton covered abdomen.
“ I guess it’s just you and me for now baby. Those were my friends that you met tonight; they’re really nice. They don’t usually yell that much. It’s going to take them some time to get used to you, but I just know that once you’re born, they’re going to spoil you rotten. And no matter what, you’ll always have me. I’ll take care of you, and look out for you, I promise.” He stroked his still flat stomach, imagining that his baby was listening intently to his soothing words. “ I’ll love you, no matter what. I think I already do.”
The following few weeks were hectic ones for Xander, and he saw little of his friends during that time. The morning nausea was thankfully slowing down, and he found his sleep routines were starting to stabilize themselves again. According to the library books he had borrowed, his pregnancy was continuing to progress similar to that of a normal pregnancy. This was good, as it meant Xander could somewhat predict what was happening inside his body, but he occasionally wished his body would forget a few of the more ‘icky’ details. He had already decided that if he started to develop breasts, that he was going to take a late night stroll with an ‘eat me’ sign taped to his back. Not that there was anything wrong with breasts… He thoroughly enjoyed them so long as they remained on women.
During this time, Xander was also looking for a new place to live. Not only was his current apartment an adult-only establishment, but also it was well outside his newly constructed budget. So far, the baby wasn’t costing him too much, but he was well aware how much that would change once the due date was near. Already he was wondering how much longer he could continue working. Construction was dangerous enough without adding male pregnancy to the mix, and there was also the problem of his altering physique. A beer belly could only explain things so far, after all.
“ Xander, you got a minute?”
Xander hustled over to the beat-up trailer, and his boss, Terry, gestured for him to step inside the makeshift office. Taking off his hard-hat, Xander ran his fingers roughly through his sweaty brown locks, before taking a seat in one of the metal collapsible chairs.
“ Something the matter?”
“ I was going to ask you that. I’ve been noticing that you’re not as keen as usual to get off the ground. If there’s something wrong with one of my workers, I’d like to know about it.”
Xander hesitated, and then went ahead with the story he had concocted beforehand.
“ I’m sick,” Xander said, lifting his head and meeting his boss’s stern gaze. “ Nothing too serious, the doctors think, but I get dizzy every now and then, so I’ve been staying off the scaffolding. I really didn’t think it was affecting my work any, so I didn’t say anything. I don’t have health insurance, so I need to keep this job.”
“ Relax, I’m not about to fire you. But this thing you’ve got, is it likely to get worse, do you think?”
“ Uh, they don’t think so. But if things don’t change within the next six months or so, I’ll be going into hospital for a while. So, yeah, I could really use some extra funds.”
“ Rough deal, Harris, but I can’t afford to keep someone around if they’re only going to do half the work. You understand?”
Xander felt his heart sink. He needed the money desperately, but he couldn’t even blame his boss for firing him. He would do the same thing were their positions reversed.
“ Here’s what we’ll do. You’ll keep doing what you’ve been doing, and so long as your output levels remain high, you can keep working. If I, or your supervisors, start to feel you’re slacking in any way, though, that’ll be it. Consider yourself on a sort-of probation.”
Xander perked up at the unexpected good news, “ Thanks, Terry. I promise I can do the work.”
“ Well, you’ve worked hard so far, and I’ve got no complaints. It’s hardly your fault that you’re sick. Though if anything health-wise changes, you better tell me quick. I could already get in trouble for not reporting this, and you getting hurt on the job could really mess things up.”
“ I get it. Thanks,” Xander said. They shook hands, and Xander hurried back onto the site. From now on, he couldn’t afford to make the slightest of mistakes, and he would have to prove that he could still do his job as efficiently as ever. It was a good thing he had been getting so much sleep lately, as his days at work had just gotten harder.
It was a few days after his conversation with Terry, that he found a new apartment. It was in a not-so-nice neighbourhood, but the building itself was in good repair. The apartment was tiny; besides a closet, and a small, grimy looking bathroom, there was just the one room, which was a combination kitchen, living room, and bedroom. It somewhat reminded him of his old basement room, though at least there was a window to let in some sunlight.
By himself, he packed up his few belongings, and transferred them to his new place. The landlord at his previous apartment had kept his damage deposit, but he hadn’t imposed a penalty on Xander for breaking his lease early. It had helped that Xander had explained he was soon going to be looking after a shrieking infant; the landlord had been eager to see him go after that. The new tenant had purchased most of Xander’s furniture, which was a plus, for it meant that Xander didn’t have to worry about transporting it. The second-hand store delivered the bed Xander had bought, and set it up for him in the corner of the room. Xander set his TV on a wooden crate opposite the bed. The dishes and other kitchen utensils that Xander had brought with him were put away, as were his clothes. When he was finished settling in, Xander did a slow turn in the centre of the room, taking it all in. The cheap carpet, the ceiling stains, the chipped counter-tops… It was depressing comparing his new place with his old one, so he tried not to dwell on it. He focussed on the money he was saving, and tried to be happy with that.
That evening, he made himself a healthy meal full of all the nutrients and vitamins the baby books claimed he needed. He shovelled the food into his mouth mindlessly, and swallowed without tasting. There was a Scooby meeting that night, but he didn’t feel up to attending. Then he remembered he had yet to connect his phone, so he wouldn’t be able to call and tell them he would be absent. It would be easier just to show up.
When Xander arrived at the Magic Box, the lively conversation halted. Since their talk, Buffy had been as good as her word, and had not said one thing against the pregnancy. She remained, however, tense around him. Part of it was her intrinsic nature as a slayer: she needed to protect those she loved from danger. Another part of the problem was she just didn’t trust Xander to not get himself into trouble. Giles was always demanding details from Xander, and it got so tiresome that Xander avoided being alone with him if at all possible. Willow was forced to act as peacemaker between Xander and the others, and the stress of the role was wearing on her. She wanted to be supportive of her best friend, but she also didn’t want to see him hurt. Xander didn’t know how to alleviate this problem, so when they were together, they tended to avoid the issue of his pregnancy altogether. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but it at least kept things calm between them. Sometimes, when Xander was cracking jokes, and Willow was laughing back, it felt like old times, when things were normal and made sense.
“ What’s on the agenda for tonight, ladies, gentleman, and vampires?” Xander asked, noticing that Spike was among the group gathered.
“ Demons. Of the smelly, sharp-clawed, razor-teethed type. It’s your typical cut off their head, poke them in the eye kind of slay. You want a sword or a cross-bow?” Buffy asked conversationally.
“ Um, I think I’ll give it a pass, thanks. Have fun storming the castle though,” Xander joked.
“ You’re not coming? Then why’d you come over?”
Xander shrugged, “ I can help with the research stuff. I just don’t think it’s a good idea if… Forget it.”
“ Is this because of the pregnancy? Don’t you think you’re taking this whole thing a little too seriously?” Buffy said.
Xander was surprised that her off-hand comment hurt so much. Of course the baby was important. Hadn’t she noticed all the sacrifices he had been making lately, just to be able to provide better for his child? He was working so very hard at doing the right thing, and it was exceedingly painful to realize that those he cared about were hoping he wouldn’t succeed.
“ It’s not like you need me anyway, remember? I’m just Mr. Mediocre. I’m doing you a favour by not getting in the way,” Xander snapped.
“ Are we going or what? The demons will have died of old age by now,” Spike said.
“ I thought Mr. Giles said the demons were immortal… Oh, right, a joke. I knew that,” Tara said, ducking her head into the collar of her shirt.
“ Time you were going regardless,” Giles said. “ Best be on your way; Xander and I will be here should you need us.”
Buffy rolled her eyes and marched out into the night, followed by an overly enthusiastic vampire. Willow smiled apologetically at Xander, before she and Tara hurried after the rest of the group.
The shop seemed strangely quiet after the others had left. Xander slumped onto the couch, and closed his eyes against an on-coming headache. He really should be at home now resting. He opened his eyes to find Giles staring at him.
“ I know I’m gorgeous, G-Man, but don’t you have stuff to do?”
“ There’s a type of demon about the size of a house cat, that creep into people’s homes in the night, and implant their offspring in human hosts. Granted, it seems to be only females affected, but possibly since this is the Hellmouth… Is it possible this is what impregnated you? If so, then the child you are carrying is undoubtedly a demon, and should be disposed of.”
“ It wasn’t one of them,” Xander said tiredly.
“ Can you be absolutely certain?”
Xander clearly enunciated it a second time: “ It wasn’t one of them.”
“ Why do you insist on being so pig-headed about this? Your very life could be in danger.”
“ Because it is MY life. I’m going home,” Xander said, getting to his feet. The sudden rush of blood to his head made him momentarily dizzy, and he stumbled a bit.
“ What’s the matter?”
“ Nothing,” Xander said, standing perfectly still while waiting for the floor to stop moving. The wobbly feeling soon passed, and Xander answered Giles’ unasked question. “ It happens every now and then, don’t worry.”
“ Of course I worry. You may think we’re being unduly hard on you, but it truly is because we worry about your welfare,” Giles said gently. Xander looked towards the door, and then back at Giles’ earnest expression. “ Look, why don’t you stay until the others return. It obviously isn’t safe out on the streets for you, and I promise not to pry anymore.”
“ No prying? But how will I recognize you?” Xander teased lightly.
“ I think I can manage without - for one evening at least,” Giles rejoined.
While they waited for the others to return, Xander took care of a few loose bookshelves, and Giles updated his watcher journals. The work helped to pass the time, and made the silence less oppressive. A few hours passed, and a triumphant slayer bounced through the front door, victorious once again.
“ It seems you were right, Xander. We did just fine without you,” Buffy said, her cheerful voice only slightly masking her reproachful tone.
“ Tired. Need sleep. Can I sleep here?” Willow asked, addressing nobody in particular. Tara smiled at her.
“ You’ll get bed-head. Or maybe couch-head since there’s no bed here. Can you get couch-head?” Tara asked, her voice gentle.
“ Oh absolutely, but crypt-hair is the worst. Kind-of makes it stick up, right in the back,” Spike said helpfully. He ignored the looks everyone gave him, and started poking around at the various items on display in the shop.
“ Spike, for a moment there I thought you had been left behind,” Giles said, taking an expensive voodoo doll out of Spike’s hands roughly and replacing it on the shelf.
“ Worried, were you?”
“ Something more akin to hopeful,” Giles said. Spike gave him the finger.
Willow yawned again, and leaned her head on Tara’s shoulder.
“ Giles, do you think you could give us a ride home?” Buffy said, noting everyone’s exhaustion.
“ What, everyone? I don’t think we’d all fit. And where’s Dawn, by the way?”
“ Spending the night at a friend’s. I guess I could walk Xander home, if you want to take the girls,” Buffy said. Xander could tell that she was asleep on her feet; she even had dark circles under her eyes, and that pinched look to her face that was becoming far too common for Xander’s liking.
“ Spike can take me. You go with Giles, Buff,” Xander said.
“ Who says? Maybe I don’t want to walk your lazy self home,” Spike complained.
“ I’ll give you beer,” Xander cajoled, rolling his eyes.
“ Well, that’s different then, ain’t it? Come on, let’s move,” Spike said, turning on his heel and striding for the exit. Xander waved at his friends as he hustled after the vampire.
“ So what sort-of beer we talking? I bet you get the good stuff, now that there’s nobody to keep you warm at night.”
“ We’ll have to stop somewhere and pick something up,” Xander said. “ And don’t go nuts, I only have a twenty on me.”
“ You’re joking? You, alcoholic-in-training, have no beer? Knocked it back before the meeting, is that it?”
Xander didn’t reply, just shoved the twenty in Spike’s hands, and jerked his thumb in the direction of the brightly lit liquor store they were passing by. Spike’s eyes widened happily, and he proceeded into the store, where he spent an enormous amount of time figuring out how to maximize the twenty. Nineteen dollars and ninety-seven cents later, they had resumed the walk to Xander’s apartment.
“ Much as I’m enjoying this late night promenade, aren’t we going the long way to get to your place?”
“ I moved,” Xander replied curtly. Spike stared at him a moment, then shrugged and unscrewed the top of one of his drinks. They walked in silence after that until they reached the foot of Xander’s apartment.
“ This is it,” Xander said. Slightly mocking, he said: “ Thanks ever so much for walking me home. You were as useful as always.”
“ Damn right I was useful,” Spike said. “ Smelling the way you do? It’s only ‘cause you got me next to you, that you weren’t jumped six times on the way over. Think I’m under appreciated, I do. A lousy twenty bucks for risking life and limb protecting you; that’s a crime, that is.”
Xander paused, automatically ignoring Spike’s grumbling. “ That’s the second time I’ve heard that you can smell me.”
“ Yeah? What’s your point?” Spike asked warily.
Xander shrugged, trying to appear uninterested. If Spike knew how badly he wanted an answer, then there was no way he would get one. “ Just wondered if you could tell me anything about the baby.”
Spike narrowed his eyes shrewdly, “ Information like that will cost you.”
Xander sighed, “ You already took my last twenty. What more do you want?”
“ Invite me up for a start,” Spike said. He clapped Xander on the shoulder a little too forcefully for it to be considered a friendly action. “ We’ll figure things out from there.”
Xander considered his options, and wondered if Spike really did have anything to tell him. Then again, there wasn’t much Spike could steal or wreck even if he was invited inside. What did he have to lose?
“ Fine. But inviting strange men into my place on my first night is going to send the wrong impression to my new neighbours. I hope you can live with damaging my reputation.”
Spike snorted, and followed Xander into the apartment building. Xander officially invited Spike inside with a self-mocking bow and simper. Spike strode into the room as though it was his due.
“ Jesus, Xander. Didn’t think the basement was slumming it enough?”
“ I was thinking more along the lines of destitute chic.”
Spike rolled his eyes and headed for the kitchen. He pulled open the fridge and was stunned to find vegetables in the vegetable containers. Spike looked hard, but couldn’t find any beer. He proceeded to look through all the cupboards, but failed to turn up anything of the alcoholic variety. There was also a shocking lack of Twinkies and other chemically enhanced junk food. The only possible answer to this was that Xander had led them to the wrong apartment.
“ No alcohol, Harris? What would your parents say?”
“ I tried to warn you,” Xander said with a shrug of his shoulders.
Spike gripped his remaining bottles of booze tightly to his chest, and sat down in the one semi-comfy chair in the room.
“ Well, I ain’t sharing. Not my fault you lost all your priorities,” Spike said. He lifted his booted feet and rested them on the edge of a wooden crate, and fumbled in his duster pocket for his smokes. He had just lifted one to his lips, when Xander reached out and took it away from him. “ Hey! I just said: no sharing!”
“ You can’t smoke in here,” Xander said, tossing the cigarette back to him.
“ You have got to be kidding,” Spike said. “ Hate to break it to you, but those smoke stains on the ceiling aren’t about to disappear just because nobody smokes in here.”
“ It’s not that,” Xander said, going to the kitchen area of the room, and pouring himself a glass of milk. He added in an obscene amount of chocolate syrup, and started to stir.
“ Then what? You don’t drink, you won’t let me smoke, and there are vegetables in your fridge. Actual vegetables. Should I have the witch test for possession?”
“ It’s for the baby,” Xander mumbled. Only Spike’s acute hearing enabled him to hear the words. The statement surprised him, and he took a better look around the small apartment. There was a pile of library books in a stack by the bed, the top one showing a mother and her sickeningly sweet looking baby. There were magazines on the floor next to the chair Spike was sitting in, also on the theme of pregnancy and parenting. Considering all that Xander had changed, seemingly completely on his own, Spike was duly impressed. Not that he was about to share that fact with Xander Harris, the perpetual screw-up.
“ Clearly whatever made you pregnant, also made you a woman,” Spike scoffed.
“ Look, do you have anything useful to offer, or not? I sure as hell didn’t bring you up here for your sparkling conversation.”
Spike was fiddling with the reception on the TV. Finally satisfied, he slumped back into his chair, and stared coolly at the increasingly agitated boy.
“ The thing is, you got nothing I want. I don’t do favours,” Spike said.
Xander made an exasperated noise, and stomped into the bathroom. His fingers tightened around the yellowed edge of the bathroom sink, as he fought to keep his temper in check. He knew Spike was deliberately trying to get under his skin; this would go on, back and forth, and eventually Spike would give him what he asked. Spike just had to have his fun first. On a different day, Xander might even have laughed at Spike’s pitiful attempt to prolong any sort of human contact.
Xander turned on the shower, and undressed. He would let the alcohol soften Spike up somewhat, before he interrogated him again. If that didn’t work, then he’d toss the vampire out. He wasn’t much for beating up on the helpless, but in Spike’s case he would make an exception.
The hot shower worked wonders on Xander’s mood, and he almost forgot about the potentially dangerous predator sitting in his apartment. Dressed in clean boxers and a t-shirt, Xander entered the main room, and promptly turned off the TV.
“ Hey, I was watching that!” Spike complained, trying to reach around Xander to turn the TV on again. Xander crossed his arms over his chest and waited for Spike to stop fidgeting.
“ Answer my questions, and I’ll let you watch TV,” Xander bargained.
“ I can watch telly anywhere. Better reception elsewhere too,” Spike muttered.
“ Well, I don’t have anything else to offer, so you might as well leave,” Xander snapped. He reached to haul Spike out of the chair, but Spike resisted.
“ Wait. Let me stay over,” Spike said.
“ Are you insane? Oh wait, you don’t have to answer that.”
“ It’s nice and warm here. I like to be warm. You let me crash here tonight, and I’ll tell you what I know. Deal?”
Xander sputtered for a moment, but he was really desperate for any kind of information about his baby. Spike looked suitably humbled for having had to ask to stay, instead of merely demanding, so maybe it wasn’t totally stupid to let him have his way.
“ Okay, but just for the night…”
“ And tomorrow, when the sun’s up,” Spike added in hastily.
“ Alright, fine. Now, ‘fess up.”
“ Uh, best move to the bed,” Spike said, sliding gracefully out of his chair. Xander walked the few steps necessary and sat down on the edge of his bed warily.
Spike was stalling for time; truth was his sense of smell wasn’t all that great. About the only thing he could detect by smell was that Xander was nervous, and that was because the boy was sweating. The fact that Xander was twisting his fingers into the mattress, while looking slightly panicked, were further clues as to his state of mind. Spike had been planning on coming up with a few pacifying yet vague assurances, but Xander’s trusting gaze was wreaking havoc on his resolve. Well, it couldn’t hurt to at least try to do an examination.
“ Calm down, Harris, or the only thing I’ll be able to smell is your putrid sweaty-stink,” Spike snarled. He brought his head down to the boy’s neck, and breathed deeply. Xander smelled fresh and clean from his recent shower, and there was a whiff of masculine musk underneath that. There was a slight tang of salty sweat, which mingled with the more subtle smells of Xander’s body that Spike couldn’t identify - woodchips and spice, perhaps.
The demon in Spike was happily cataloguing all of the plusses indicated by the smell: young, healthy human, with blood that would surely taste clean and rich on the tongue. Spike felt the need to bring his teeth to the fore, and was rewarded with a warning jolt from his government-installed chip. He fought the impulse to sample the tempting neck, and pushed himself roughly away from Xander.
“ Lift your shirt,” Spike said curtly.
Xander dropped his hands to his shirt hem, but hesitated slightly. He hadn’t been this close to anyone physically since the night he’d been… since the night the baby had been conceived.
“ Christ, Harris. I’ve seen stomachs before. Hell, I’ve seen yours before,” Spike said. Xander glared and angrily lifted his shirt. Xander was studiously not looking at Spike, embarrassed that he was blushing fiercely, when Spike’s unneeded breath against his stomach made him twitch. He looked down, and saw the unlikely sight of Spike’s bleached-blond head pressed close to the slight bulge of his abdomen.
“ Anything?” Xander asked hopefully.
“ Well, I can’t smell anything out of the ordinary. No infection, or weird chemicals,” Spike replied honestly.
“ Can you tell… can you tell if it’s human?” Xander eventually asked.
So, Xander had cause to worry about the baby’s genetics. That was interesting, and Spike stored the information away for future reference. An idea suddenly came to Spike, and he bit down on the inside of his lip to keep from grinning and spoiling it all.
“ Blood could tell me an awful lot about you.”
“ How lovely! Be sure to put that skill on your resume. Now, get away from me,” Xander said.
“ No really, I’m not just saying that to get a quick meal. Blood’s what we’re all about. I wouldn’t need much either, just a mouthful or three.”
“ No way, no how,” Xander said, wriggling himself away from Spike.
“ I’m surprised at you, Harris. Figured you’d do anything for that kid of yours, but I guess with parents like yours it’s hard not to pick up bad habits.”
Spike knew he had played his cards right, when he saw Xander flinch at the mention of his parents. Xander ran a hand meaningfully over the lump in his belly, and Spike knew he was going to agree even before Xander spoke.
Xander was cursing himself as he lay back on his bed, watching as Spike happily bounced alongside of him. Spike’s game-face was as nasty as Xander remembered, and he had to force himself not to pull away.
Spike went for the neck, but Xander pushed him away and offered up his wrist instead. There was something just a little too intimate about letting Spike suck from his neck. Xander barely felt the prick of Spike’s teeth in his wrist, and he supposed Spike was being careful so that his chip didn’t fire. So long as Spike didn’t intend to cause Xander harm, then they should both come out of this okay. The difficult part for Xander was convincing himself that a little, unobservable piece of technology would stand against a hundred-year-old killer.
The first taste Spike had of Xander’s blood hit him hard and fast. It was as sweet as imagined, and headier then the very best of wines. Spike forgot who he was, where he was, and every other significant detail save that of the warm body that was supplying the most satisfying concoction he ever remembered drinking. It was like a drug, but instead of clouding his mind, Xander’s blood sharpened it, and made every sensation a thousand times more intense. His mouth tightened around the wrist, his tongue swirling madly to keep even the minutest drops from escaping. To think, he had been around this boy everyday and never guessed at the wonders flowing beneath his skin. He was starting to think there might be some legitimate reasons for Xander’s ‘demon-magnet’ status.
Xander’s blood had the indulgence of innocence, tempered with maturity, and edged by sadness. It was an almost painful experience, drinking blood of that calibre. Actually, the feeding was causing some pain already, in one very specific area; Spike, like most vampires, found good blood to be an aphrodisiac.
“ Hey, happy hour’s over, do I have to cut you off?” Xander asked, tapping the involved vampire on the shoulder. Spike felt the warm pressure of Xander’s hand like a brand. It sent heat tearing through his body, and Spike unlatched his mouth from Xander’s wrist with a groan of disappointment. He lapped at the wound a few times, watched the blood seal itself off, and then pounced.
There was a muffled ‘glompf’ sound from Xander, as Spike settled his weight against Xander’s body, and then there was nothing to hear but the soft, wet sounds as mouth met mouth. Xander’s lips were soft, and Spike almost regretted the bruising he was causing Xander's mouth, as he pressed hard into the kiss, his teeth nipping and his tongue probing. Lost in the kiss, that was easily as dizzying as the blood tasting had been, Spike failed to notice Xander wasn’t exactly responding.
Xander had been pleasantly sleepy while Spike had fed, and the sudden move from wrist-sucking to face-sucking, had been far too fast for Xander’s drowsy brain to comprehend all at once. However, the thought eventually did manage to penetrate, and the very instant it did, Spike found himself flat on his back on the floor with an enraged Xander about to smash a lamp over his head. It was a cheap lamp, and probably wouldn’t hurt much, but that was beside the point.
“ What the fuck was that?” Xander practically screamed. He dropped the lamp, and it hit Spike on the temple. Spike corrected his earlier hypothesis; the lamp did hurt.
“ You hit me!” Spike accused.
“ So? I repeat, what the fuck was that?”
Spike sat up slowly, and opened and closed his eyes a few times, before giving Xander a sour look.
“ It’s not like I planned it. Got a little carried away, didn’t I? Didn’t need to hit me on the head like that. Could've seriously damaged me,” Spike complained, rubbing at the sore spot.
“ I’m more concerned for the lamp. Jesus Christ, Spike. You kissed me!”
“ Oh get over it already. It’s not like it meant anything.” Spike got to his feet and wondered if there was any more alcohol left. He had to get the taste of Xander out of his mouth before he jumped the man again. There was a vein throbbing on Xander’s forehead that told Spike such an action would be a bad idea. Of course, something else was still slightly throbbing and it was telling Spike that getting close to Xander was a very, very good idea.
“ I figured as much,” Xander murmured. “ God, could my life get any weirder? You know it’s a bad sign when a male vampire kisses you and it’s not the strangest thing happening to you. Finding out I’m gay would really only be a lateral move now on the scale of oddness.”
“ I know I’m good, but one kiss does not make you gay. You people are far too hung up on labelling anyway. What’s the big deal?”
“ Oh no, you are not talking your way out of this. You kissing me? That’s crazy – the crazy from Crazytown kind of crazy. In fact, it’s so totally out there that it never even happened. This is all some hormone-induced hallucination. Willow told me not to eat glue in kindergarten, but did I listen? No, and now look at me… And, hey, what about our deal? You’re supposed to tell me about my blood. Unless this was all a ploy so that you could kiss me.”
Spike looked affronted, “ If it was a ploy, then it was a ploy to get a mouthful of fresh blood, you ponce.”
“ Then you really don’t know anything?” Xander asked quietly.
“ Why is this so important anyway?”
“ If the baby isn’t human, Buffy’s going to kill it,” Xander said. “ I won’t let that happen.”
“ And the one who did this to you, he’d be a demon, would he?”
Xander rolled his eyes. “ Like I’m going to tell you when I won’t even tell my friends, whom I actually trust.”
“ Maybe you’re just a slut, and can’t remember who it was,” Spike smirked.
Xander’s eyes turned stone cold, and he gestured at the door. “ You can leave now.”
“ We had a bargain,” Spike said.
“ You didn’t tell me anything!”
“ You’re blood is clean, remarkably so in fact. I didn’t taste any demon blood, so I would guess your baby is human like you. Which scares me, in and of itself, because who wants more Xander prats in the world? You’re healthy, the baby is healthy, and why won’t you tell anyone how you got pregnant?”
“ No, no, no! First a kiss, and now you want to know about my condition? Stop freaking me out! It’s not funny anymore, Spike. Making Xander go loony, and getting him to talk in the third person is not the kind-of thing evil vampires should do… Well, maybe it is, because what would I know about it…”
“ Oh would you shut-up already, Harris? I don’t want to be reminded of this little scene any more than you do, so if you’ll just go to bed, and let me get back to watching some telly, then we’ll both be better off.”
Xander abruptly stopped babbling, and thought that just maybe Spike had the right idea. And didn’t that just put the finishing touches on a day gone horribly wrong? Xander grumbled something about never trusting the remote control to somebody who honestly enjoyed Passions, before climbing under the blankets of the bed. “ I don’t have any rope, so feel lucky I don’t use the toaster’s electrical cord to tie you to your chair.”
“ Aw, you’d do that after all we’ve shared?” Spike asked coyly.
Xander put his head under his pillow and prayed for sleep to come quickly. Or for lightning to strike in the vicinity of Spike’s head. Either would work, really.
Spike waited until Xander’s breathing had evened out and deepened. Then he turned off the television, and the overhead light. He removed his boots and socks, and then his shirt and pants. Moving soundlessly, he slipped over to Xander’s bed, and climbed under the covers, being very careful not to jostle Xander awake.
After witnessing Xander’s reaction to the kiss, Spike couldn’t wait to see the expression on Xander’s face when he woke-up in bed next to a naked vampire. Blackmail could be a beautiful thing.
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