Pieces of Me. The end is nigh, for this fic, and I am happy that
will be yet another one under my belt.
I've lived in fear of the eternal WIP, and thanks to my two betas, Twinkles
and stalwartsandall, we've accomplished miracles.
Read and enjoy - as always, feel free to comment or encourage.
“Okay, now even you have to admit this is one of the weirdest things you've ever done,” Buffy laughed, enjoying the absurd sight of Spike pushing a baby stroller down the block towards the kiddie playground.
“It is one for the books, I'll give you that,” Spike replied with a small chuckle and a shake of his head. “Here's hopin' the Sunnydale demon population has other things to do tonight, rather than witness this walkabout.”
“And there,” Buffy sighed, “Is one of the problems with us raising Daniel. He'll become a target for anything and everything looking to get at us.”
“While that's true,” Spike agreed, looking fondly down at the boy drinking juice from a turquoise sippy cup, “he's not that much safer bein' raised by Mrs. Finn, what with her ties to the Initiative. You can't tell me they're gonna be happy losin' access to their little gene-pool miracle.”
Buffy stopped in her tracks. “Do you really think they'll continue to come after him?” she asked, biting at her lower lip. “After Riley's arrest, wouldn't they want to disavow themselves of anything to do with the three of us?”
“They feel like a bloody hydra, pet,” Spike swore. “Cut off one head, another two rise up to take its place.”
“Well, the good thing is, if we decide to try and raise Daniel ourselves, we have the strength to protect him as much as possible. Sam's only human, after all. Love doesn't conquer everything.”
“While we're speaking of what-ifs, Slayer... d'you think it's possible to change the niblet's name to something less poncy than Daniel? It just doesn't sit right... having a kid named after Cardboard's family.”
“Agreed. Even Sam looked a little pale when she mentioned Riley naming Daniel after his dad.” Buffy considered a moment, then added, “And I suppose, since we'd be changing his last name, we could legally change his first, as well.”
“You're not gonna want to name him after your poor excuse of a dad, are you?” Spike asked suspiciously. “Anyone who'd walk out on the Summers women has no right to have a legacy like that.”
“I hear ya, Big Bad,” Buffy laughed. “Hank Summers is definitely not namesake material. We could name him after Mom. Indirectly, I mean... cause who would name a boy 'Joyce'?”
“Or a boy 'Sue'?”
“Gods, Slayer! Your musical knowledge really is incredibly lacking in depth. Never heard of Johnny Cash and a song called A Boy Named Sue?”
Buffy stared at him, completely nonplussed.
“Gonna have to do something about that, pet. I'm sure your Watcher would agree your lack of proper musical appreciation needs fixin', pronto. Perhaps I'll round up all those boy bands you're so fond of and eat 'em.”
“We don't joke about eating humans around here, William,” Buffy said frostily. “What kind of an example is that for our son?”
A moment passed without a comment from Spike, and Buffy stopped to look at him. He was just standing there, holding onto the stroller with a look of awe on his face.
“Have you gone brain-dead?” she asked, nudging him with a pointy elbow.
“Our son,” he murmured.
“Yeah, what of it?”
“You called the nipper our son without being prompted or getting embarrassed. Just natural-like.”
Buffy felt a little half-smile creep across her face. “I did, didn't I?” she mused. “Well, he is ours, isn't he? I guess it's time we got used to it, no matter what choices we make.”
Spike said nothing, just wheeled the stroller through the park's gate.
“So, what do we do first?” Buffy asked. “Hey, Daniel – what do you want to do? Swings? Sandbox?
“San' box,” Daniel squealed as Spike hauled him out of the stroller. sitting himself down Daniel patted a spot in the soft sand. “Buh-fee play?”
Buffy couldn't stop the giggle. “Spike, too?” she asked, looking at the vampire in question.
“'Pike, too,” Daniel agreed, happily.
Spike removed his duster, draped it over the stroller and joined his little family in the sandbox.
Samantha Finn sat in the Summers' living room, ostensibly playing gin-rummy with Buffy's younger sister, Dawn – but her mind kept wandering to her missing son. She'd agreed to let him go to the park with Buffy and Spike, to allow them to get some sense of what it's like to be around a child – their child, if she was being totally honest with herself.
It just didn't sit comfortably with her. Buffy was the Slayer, and Spike was a vampire; they were not her idea of model childcare. It just wasn't normal. They weren't normal.
Was she insane to allow her heart to go with them?
Was it only a harbinger of things to come? Would she be forced to give up her boy to his biological parents? Would they fight her on custody? Would...
“Are you still with me, Sam?” Dawn asked, putting her handful of cards face-down on the table. “You've been staring out the window for the past five minutes.”
“I-I'm sorry,” Sam said, putting her own cards down and shaking her head. “I'm just worried about Daniel.”
“You don't have to stress about him. Being with Spike and Buffy is about the safest thing in the world,” Dawn claimed. “They're strong on their own, but together, they're downright unbeatable.”
Sam tried to smile. “It's not that – not only that,” she said. “Sure, they're strong enough to protect him – far stronger than I am, but... it takes more than strength to raise a happy, healthy child.”
“Spike's dead!” Sam blurted out. “Or I guess undead is the preferred term. And Buffy herself said she never gave motherhood a thought before we showed up.”
“But Buffy was already a mother,” Dawn reminded her gently. “It's just that she only just found out about it. And it might not have been her first choice - just as becoming my guardian after M-Mom died wasn't her choice. But she's doing a wonderful job of it.” She glared and added quickly, “If you ever tell her I said that, I'll deny it.”
Dawn's expression softened again.“My sister hasn't had a lot of choice in how her life has turned out, not since she was chosen as the Slayer, but she's made the best of everything that's come her way. And if there's one thing she's learned to do – it's take care of people.”
Sam swiped at the tears forming in her eyes before they could fall.
“And don't get me started on Spike,” Dawn continued. “He's a vampire, so he's mostly hard-wired to be evil... unless he cares about you. He may not have a soul, but he loves with his whole, unbeating heart.”
“How is that even possible?” Sam asked. “I mean, I've seen enough of him to know he's different, but different enough to be a parent? What happens when Daniel acts up? When he throws up his lunch all over Spike's coat? How will Spike react to a baby screaming and squalling for hours on end? Daniel taxes me beyond what I can take on occasion - how is a vampire going to be able to handle it?”
Dawn laughed. Actually downright belly-laughed. “My god, Sam. He handled me! When Buffy died, he spent the summer with me when everyone else pretty much avoided me. I screamed and cried for hours at a time. I didn't eat, then I overate. Puked, too... though not on him.
“He never blamed me for her sacrifice; he just cried with me. We mourned together.” Dawn smiled. “He has an unbelievable capacity for love, and more patience than anyone gives him credit for.
“Trust me, he and Buffy together would be wonderful parents.”
This time Sam couldn't hide the tears coursing down her cheeks. “You make them sound like perfect paragons of virtue.”
“Oh, god no,” Dawn exclaimed. “They're not perfect at all. But they love fiercely. They'll screw up, they'll fight, they'll yell. Spike'll curse too much, but he'll try to curtail it. Buffy'll probably storm off on patrol to let off some steam whenever things get a bit 'elevated' at home.
“But the bottom line is, Daniel would be loved and protected by two people who pretty much consider 'love and protect' their raison d'etre.”
Sam put her head in her hands, grief at the thought of her possible loss radiating through her shaking form.
Dawn got up and wrapped her arms around Sam, making shushing sounds. “I'm so sorry, Sam. I didn't mean to imply that you weren't a wonderful mother to Daniel. Not in the slightest. I was just -”
“You were just championing your sister and her vampire,” Sam acknowledged. “I understand that, Dawn. This whole thing is just very painful. It's one thing on paper – it's another thing altogether in practice.”