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Once more, sieve brain strikes, and I almost forgot that Monday means
posting the next chapter of my little tale.

I only have one more chapter in the hold, and that is in need of editing
at the moment. Really hoping the muse awakens in time to get more done.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this chapter. As always, please feel
free to comment and encourage. the muse needs all the help she can get.

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“Dawn!” Buffy yelled as she stormed into the house. “Where are you?”

“I’m right here,” Dawn called from the stairs. “You don’t have to yell like a crazy person.”

“I need your help,” Buffy said as she turned, exposing the little boy in her arms.

“OMG, you’ve got Daniel!” Dawn squealed happily, reaching for the child. “Hi, Spike,” she added, as he trailed Buffy into the house and closed the door.

Spike put the child’s bag down on the nearest chair. “’Lo, Nibblet.”

“Who’s a cutie pie?” the happy teen questioned, gently poking Daniel in the belly. “Wanna tell me why he’s here? Where’re Sam and Riley?”

“I’m guessin’ Mrs. Soldier left her husband.” Spike piped up before Buffy could say anything. “And now she’s off doing some research in the Initiative files – research that should have been done -”

“Spike!” Buffy snapped. “Enough conjecture. Sam found out some information that has her upset,” she offered by way of explanation. “She’s looking into some questions she has - we have - as well.”

“That doesn’t explain why Daniel is here,” Dawn insisted. “Sam wouldn’t leave her kid just to look at some stupid papers. She’d…”

Buffy watched as the proverbial shoe dropped and Dawn digested what she’d heard.

“What do you mean that Sam left Riley? They looked so happy and they have a little boy that they love and… and…”

“And everything’s not always as rosy as it appears, pet,” Spike soothed.

“Look at Daniel and tell me what you see,” Buffy asked, watching her sister’s reactions carefully. “Tell me about his face.”

Dawn looked confused but complied, studying Daniel’s face closely. “Still seeing your nose,” she murmured quietly. She traced his brows and mouth with her finger before she shook her head in confusion. “His mouth,” she began, “his mouth is a perfect little replica of - of Spike’s! How can that be?”

Buffy knew she looked just as flustered as her sister. “You know they did experiments on demons in the Initiative labs, right? And that they did them on Spike when he was held captive.”

“So? Vampires can’t father children. Their, um, stuff is as undead as they are, right?” Dawn’s expression turned thoroughly bewildered as she insisted, “And that still doesn’t explain how Daniel has your nose.”

“You remember big sis went on a tour of the place back when she was dating Cardboard?”

Dawn nodded slowly.

“Seems the git managed to get a sample of her blood during a patrol, and whisked it away to his doctor pals.”

“We don’t know anything for sure, Dawn.” Buffy chose her words carefully; aware it was all still conjecture and gut instinct. “That’s what Sam is off investigating. To see if there are files relating to Daniel’s conception and birth.”

“And she got a mite upset when I asked her if she ever looked into Daniel’s parentage before agreeing to adopt him.” Spike raised an eyebrow. “Seems she just took her bloke’s word on things.”

Dawn joggled Daniel in her arms as he’d started to squirm. “Can I put him down? I mean, I know the house isn’t exactly child-proof, but we can watch him.”

“He’ll be fine, Dawnie. Grab a couple of his toys from his bag to keep him occupied.”

“Might want to take a sniff of his nethers first, pet,” Spike said, his nose definitely wrinkling.

“Oh, crap!” Buffy sighed, shaking her head at her choice of words. “I forgot all about the diaper part of having a baby.”

“You whiner!” Dawn laughed, checking the bag for fresh diapers. “I’ll do it if the Big Tough Slayer is afraid of a little poop.”

“Best be careful of the water spout, Nibblet,” Spike warned. “Little boys tend to shoot straight up.”

Dawn blushed scarlet, but bravely continued with her task.

“Good, that’s settled,” Buffy said. “I’m gonna go call Giles - I think it’s time to get a Watcher involved.”

“Oh, yeah. Rupert’s gonna be a big help,” Spike scoffed. “What’s he gonna do? Bring tweed nappies?”

Buffy glared at him before she turned on her heel and went into the kitchen. “Behave yourself!” were her parting words.

*****

Buffy opened the door to a flustered Giles.

“It would have been nice to know why you insisted I come to you in such a hurry,” he said, hanging his coat on the hook by the door.

“Keep yer voice down, you big lummox,” Spike hissed from the couch. “We just put the little one down for a nap, and Satan help you if he wakes up thanks to your racket.”

Giles’s befuddled expression deepened. “What on earth do you mean by little one?” he asked, albeit in a hushed tone.

“It’s Daniel,” Buffy said, “Riley’s adopted son. Spike and I are taking care of him for the time being.”

“And why would Riley – a man who does nothing but bemoan Spike’s continued existence – leave his son with the two of you?”

“He didn’t,” Buffy tried to explain. “Sam did. She and Riley are having serious issues at the moment. Sam is away doing some research and she knew the baby would be in safe hands with the two of us.”

“What I don’t understand,” Giles said slowly, “is why call me over? I know nothing about raising children – I’ve never watched one alone in my entire life.”

At that opportune moment, a distressed cry drifted down the stairs. Buffy headed upstairs to the source.

“No worries, Rupes,” Spike said, slapping the man on the shoulder. “You’re about to get up close and personal with the nipper.”

Buffy came back downstairs carrying a sniffling Daniel on her hip. “No problems here,” she said, wiping the tears from the boy’s eyes. “Clean diaper, too. Bonus! Guess he just didn’t want to sleep anymore.”

“Are you thirsty, little man?” Dawn asked, taking Daniel from Buffy’s arms. “Let’s go get you some water for your sippy cup.”

“As soon as Daniel’s calm, we’ll begin with the questions,” Buffy said, stalling Giles in his tracks.

When Dawn came back into the living room a couple of minutes later, it was with a happy Daniel, drinking lustily from his cup.

“Nibblet, hand the boy over to the Watcher,” Spike directed.

“But… but…”

“No ‘buts’, mister,” Buffy insisted. “This is the important part.”

With an expression that looked much as if he was being asked to hold a nuclear bomb, Giles took the boy onto his lap and held him nervously.

“Okay, now I need you to be your stuffy, Watcherly self,” Buffy started, smiling at the picture the two of them made. “As if you’re writing in one of your journals, I want you to describe Daniel. Pay particular attention to the details of his face.”

Giles grimaced as Daniel gave a large burp, and tossed his cup to the floor. He recovered quickly, however, and Buffy watched as the mantle of Watcher descended and his expression changed to one of analytical interest.

“It’s a human child – a boy, going by the outfit,” he began, tilting the child’s head up a fraction to see his features better. “Two eyes, hazel. Two somewhat pronounced cheekbones, covered with baby fat. One little upturned nose…” he faltered here, running his fingers over the aforementioned nose. “One little nose with an odd little bump on the end. Two lips – the upper a cupid’s bow shape and the bottom… the bottom fuller and plump.”

“And?” Buffy asked impatiently. “What are your conclusions?”

“He’s a little boy, like millions of other little boys,” Giles murmured, examining the boy’s face once again. “His nose… it’s very much like yours, Buffy,” he said, a troubled look in his eyes.

“Anything else, Watcher?” Spike pressed. “Anything else you find familiar?”

Giles fixed the vampire with an annoyed stare, which melted into one of confusion. “This makes no sense,” he said. “None, at all.”

“Spill, please?” Buffy could barely contain her emotions. It wasn’t all imaginary, this could really be happening.

“I must be losing my mind,” Giles concluded. “Why else would I be seeing both your features, and Spike’s, on this child?” His tone turned demanding. “Explain, please?”

“That’s the rub, Rupert,” Spike said. “We’ve been over it and over it, and the only possible conclusion is that the Initiative played mad scientist and scrambled together the Little Bit in one of their attempts to create their fabled ‘super soldier’.”

“But you can’t create a child from a vampire and a human… It’s a known fact that vampire, erm, sperm is immotile – dead. Nothing can be fertilized from it,” Giles insisted. “And though it is rather readily obtainable,” he continued, unable to look Spike directly in the eyes, “where and how would they be able to harvest eggs…”

He stopped, horror overcoming his mien.

“Buffy, what did they do to you? When you toured the facility, did they…?” He was unable to complete the question.

“They never touched me, Giles,” Buffy soothed, touched by his obvious concern. “Riley and I went on patrol later that night. I got wounded, slightly. But it bled, and Riley helped me clean up and Spike and I figured out that he’d saved the bloody cloth he used to clean the cut. Fresh DNA, right from the source. No eggs needed.”

“Not yours, at least,” Spike concluded. “DNA had to go somewhere to develop into something that looks human. Smells human, too. Smells like family, still.”

Daniel began to fuss and Dawn, ever ready, picked him up and took him to the floor to keep him distracted.

“My god, it’s Machiavellian!” Giles exclaimed. “The Initiative were toying with the building blocks of life… and unlife, as it were. Who knows where they would stop?”

“Ain’t that the truth,” Spike scoffed. “And you call us vampires evil? Most of us kill to eat. We are obligate blood drinkers. You won’t find a vegetarian amongst the species. But tryin’ to make a whole new creature? That’s beyond the pale.”

Giles was clearly overcome with outrage at this point. “They violated you, Buffy. Perhaps not your person, per se, but they took what makes you you and used it for their own personal agenda.” After a moment, he looked straight at Spike. “I gather you didn’t willingly assist in the retrieval of your… DNA?”

Spike simply shook his head.

“Then they violated you, as well. This whole situation is obscene,” Giles spat. “Is this what Riley’s wife is looking into? What’s going to happen if it’s proven that this child is yours?” He paused a moment and asked quietly, “And what is Riley going to do?”

“That’s the $64,000 question, innit, mate?” Spike said. “Turns out the git had his own agenda coming back to Sunnyhell – and it had nothing to do with needing Buffy’s help with a demon he let loose, himself. He’s never gotten over the chit not cleaving herself to his whims.”

“We don’t know what he’s going to do now,” Buffy took over. “He used Sam to get the baby, and he wanted to use the baby for some kind of revenge on Spike. I just hope that he doesn’t hurt Sam when he catches up with her.”

“Do you really think that little of him, Buffy?” Giles looked appalled. That he would physically harm the woman he married?”

“At this point, I don’t think I ever knew him,” Buffy said, steadfastly. “I know there’s more to him than he lets on. He’s not the corn-fed, all American soldier he makes himself out to be. And that scares me.”

Giles sighed. “As atrocious as this situation is, I must admit to being grateful that this child isn’t the result of an actual union between you and Spike. The thought of you taking yet another vampire as a lover is most ‘wigsome’, to borrow a phrase.”

Buffy looked at Spike and he returned her gaze with a small upturn of his lips. Neither said a word. Buffy quickly averted her gaze, and blushed to the roots of her hair.