The doctor placed the squalling baby in her arms. . .and thirty-six hours of labor melted into sheer joy. "Congratulations, Mrs. Kenyon. You have a baby girl."
"*We*," corrected her husband, husky-voiced. His dark eyes sparkled above the rim of his surgical mask.
She cuddled the baby close, nuzzling the soft, blond, fuzz on its head. "We," she repeated to her new daughter. "You, me, and Daddy."
Little Angela Kenyon opened her big blue eyes and her cries turned into laughs. Buffy was the happiest woman on Earth.
His lover was sobbing again. . .softly, into her pillow. The eighth night in a row. And all he could do was clench his fists and stare up at the high, white ceiling, checking the urge to kill something. He wanted to leap out of the bed, pound out of the mansion, find Giles, and demand to know why these dreams were plaguing her. He wanted to rip the Watcher's head off, but he knew that would only cause her more pain.
He turned, slowly, and pulled her into his arms. Automatically, her face buried itself in his chest and her slim form stopped shaking. "Spike. . .Spike, why?" she asked brokenly, strands of long blond hair catching his neck.
"I wish I knew, Pet," he whispered against her forehead, clasping her legs between his.
"Its not fair!" Her lips trembled. Hot tears soaked his cold skin.
No, it wasn't fair. None of this was bloody fair. Falling in love with his sworn enemy. . .spending the last six months in her bed--well, his sire's bed, technically. . .fighting along side her and her friends. . .and knowing that there would never be anything else. No miracle babies making a rowdy vampire and a slayer parents. . .no weddings. . .no calling Joyce 'Mum'. . .no white picket fences. She was going to die young. But, it was an ill-fated romance that neither of them could give up.
And still she could dream of nothing but happy endings.
He wound his fingers in the hair at the base of her skull, gently tilted her face up. "Slayer, shhh. Live in the now," he reminded her.
Her brown eyes were so wet, so full of grief. "Its cruel. Its cruel to make me want a future we're not going to have!"
He knew the feeling, oh, he certainly did. Being haunted by visions of her ripe with his child, of her face aglow, was his curse. But he would never tell her. Never add to the burden that all ready sank her thin shoulders down. He stroked the curve of her cheek. "Then want *me* instead, Luv," he urged, bringing his mouth down on hers.
They kissed voraciously, as if passion could erase the bleakness of her empty womb. And they made love with the quiet desperation of a couple trying to deny Fate. Afterwards, he held her close. . .and, like he did every night, he prayed for another six months.
At twenty-one, Buffy Summers was the oldest living vampire slayer on record. And, at twenty-one, she was sitting at the head of yet another fresh grave. The eighth in as many months. No dream, no prophecy, had told her to expect it. They had just started dying. Giles in a car wreck. Willow and Oz at the hands of werewolf hunters. Xander by vampires. Cordy and Angel had died trying to save each other from demons. And Mom. . .her mom had just dropped dead of a heart attack last month. Too much stress, the doctors said.
She'd begun to keep a vigil in front of the headstones every night after patrol. Making sure the roses were fresh. . .or maybe that none of the people or the ashes below them were lonely. Spike had tried to get her to stop. Before.
She choked harshly, leaning her head against the cool rose quartz of the newest headstone. Drawn and pale, she clutched a stake tightly. Waited as the dirt over the grave shifted. A small white fist plunged upwards, through the mixture of ash and earth, followed by a gold-crowned head. A second birth. Barely two years after her first.
"Up, Mama!" Chubby arms extended and big blue eyes demanded. "Up me!" Not a bit of dirt clung to the perfect white gown. And the legs below it stumbled because tiny feet had not quite mastered walking.
"Hey, Sweetie," she murmured, putting her stake down at her side, and pulling the baby close before she could fall. "How's Mama's big girl? Huh? How are you?"
The 22-month-old laughed and laughed, snuggling against her neck like the perfect child. . .and her tiny canines latched on like the perfect vampire.
Buffy closed her eyes, humming an old lullaby as she rocked the cool little body. "I love you. . .I love you." It was like nursing. . .feeling the baby suck life from her body. "That's a good girl."
Moments later, as a new layer of dust settled over the grave, the oldest living Slayer rested her weak head. . .tracing the letters on the newly carved face of the headstone. The ashes in their bed, and the malevolent smile on the face of her broken, dead child on the floor beside it--her arms spread wide, embracing death, a gruesome echo of a human child's plea to be held-- all suddenly made a hideous sort of sense.
*William Kenyon, Beloved Husband.
Angela Willow Kenyon, Beloved Daughter.*
Their beloved daughter. . .*theirs*. It was only fitting that she should slay a vampire and then rise again to drain a slayer. Angela had done her parentage proud.
"You were right," she murmured, wiping at the tears that tracked down her cheeks. "You were right, Spike. . .we should've lived in the now."
The ninth night, his lover woke up screaming. And when he'd soothed her enough, he asked her why. One muffled sentence came through.
"Oh, God, I think I'm pregnant."
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