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The Crystal Ball Is Not Your Friend

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Prompt: To Switch a Witch (AU)

 


Willow stared at everyone. Everyone stared at Willow.

"So, yeah," she said into the thunderous silence. "That's the story of how I ended up coming ten years back in time." She looked down at herself nervously, plucking at her overalls. "Gotta say, I haven't missed the sartorial blind spot, but it's kinda nice to have a waistline again somewhere under h... ummm..."

"Willow, you got fat?" Xander spluttered. It was the first thing that anyone had said since she'd started talking. She gave him a look that let him know exactly what she thought of that.

"I got pregnant, dummy. I am twenty-six, you know."

Xander blinked. "Willow, you got a boyfriend?"

This time Willow just rolled her eyes. It wasn't worth breaking his tiny, pubescent mind over.

"I think the more salient issue is finding out what on earth could have caused this kind of magical interference," Giles said, valiantly trying to redirect the conversation.

"Right," Willow agreed, relieved.

"Wait," Buffy said. "If future-Willow is here in our Willow's body, then is our Willow...?"

Willow winced. "Yeah, probably."

"You're not in, like, imminent danger of... you know." Buffy waved vaguely at Willow's teenaged, flat-as-a-pancake abdomen. "’Cause that'd be quite a shock."

"Well I've got four weeks until my due date, so we should have plenty of time, but I don't exactly wanna not-rush because you know how these things can go." The three faces looking back displayed expressions ranging from blank to horrified. "Hey, don't worry," she said perkily, trying to reassure them. "My time's Spike and Buffy will be there, and you guys are total pros in that department." She looked at their faces again. "Wait, what year is this?"

"Spike?" Buffy said. "Spike as in William the Bloody? As in that bleached, punk-rock reject who just rolled into town and tried to eat half the school including me? That Spike?"

"Whaddyameantotalprosinthatdepartment!" Xander squeaked.

Willow gulped. "Oh, boy."

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Prompt: To Switch a Witch (angst)

 


For all her talk of not wanting to not rush, old-Willow-in-young-Willow's-body sure had disappeared quickly. There'd been a weird moment the day after she'd arrived, when they'd been walking down the corridor to their lockers and she'd just stopped mid-stride as though struck by a sudden idea, and her face had gone pale, and then she'd just... gone, walked right out of school without another word, and the next thing Buffy had heard about her was Mrs. Rosenberg on the phone to her mom that evening, asking if Willow was there and, even more weirdly, if she was there with Mrs. Rosenberg's car.

"The only thing I can think of," Giles said when she told him the next day, "is that she's gone to visit someone. Perhaps someone from her past."

"I don't understand," Xander said. They were all sitting around their various perches in the library. "We're all here, who would she go see?"

"Duh," Cordelia said, rolling her eyes. "He means someone from old-Willow's past. She's had another ten years to meet people who aren't you losers. Right, Giles?"

"Well," Giles said, "I wouldn't have put it quite so tactlessly, but essentially, yes."

"I mean," Cordelia continued blithely, "she managed to get herself knocked up, so she must've broken out of her tragic shell at some point. What?" She somehow managed to look offended at the glowers she was receiving. "That's a good thing."

"Yes, well, before we descend further into petty dissection of our visitor's personal life, let me point out that there's no reason we can't continue with our research in her absence."

Which was boring and pointless without more information, and Buffy was more than glad to escape when it was finally time to patrol.

The last person she'd expected to find waiting for her on the wall of Restfield Cemetery was their fugitive, time-travelling witch. And wow, yeah, which one of those descriptions was weirdest?

"Willow," she said cautiously. "You're here."

Willow glanced up at her a moment before letting her eyes drop back to her lap. "I'm here," she agreed.

Buffy frowned, and sat down beside her. "Where did you go? We were worried."

"Doesn't matter," Willow said softly. "I turned around before I got there."

"Oh," Buffy said, unsure how to take that. Awkwardly, she reached up to pat Willow's shoulder, and then gave herself a mental shaking, because this was Willow, and turned the pat into a firm, best-friends one-armed hug. Willow sniffled and let her head rest on Buffy's shoulder. "Wanna talk about it?" Buffy asked.

"I shouldn't," Willow said.  "I'm not here to change the past. I don't even know that I want to. It's just..." She sat up and wiped her face. Buffy let her arm fall. "Bad things will happen. People will die. People we love. And I thought for a moment I could... But I shouldn't. I can't."

"Oh," Buffy said again. She suddenly felt very cold.

"Hey, no, I'm sorry," Willow said, catching her expression. "I didn't mean to... to scare you."

Buffy shrugged, pasting a smile onto her face. "Hey, I'm the slayer – pretty un-scare-able, here."

"That you are," Willow said with a small grin of her own.

Buffy considered her a moment. Since she'd arrived two nights ago and let slip a whole bunch of things no one had really wanted to know – or, quite frankly, believe – it had been easier to think of this whole thing as a game, something non-serious that was happening but that she didn't have to pay too much attention to. But here was her friend now – and it was her friend, she realized, however much she might have grown up in the meantime – feeling down about something she couldn't talk about, and while Buffy really, really wanted to make her feel better, it would definitely mean sacrificing some of that carefully constructed la-la-la-ness about what her future held in store. She swallowed, and steeled herself, and made her decision.

"Why don't we go get some ice cream – you still like peanut butter sundaes, right? – and you can tell me something happy about our futures."

Willow wiped her face again and smiled. "I'm sure I can think of something innocuous," she said.

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Prompt: The Night Ghoul of the Wonderworld (comedy)



They ended up at Wonderworld, which was just the positive-nostalgia trip Willow needed, even if, to her, it had always sounded like A) a kids' party venue or B) a lingerie shop. They did damn fine peanut butter sundaes, though, and that was the important thing.

On their way, Buffy started peppering her with more or less innocent questions about their future, and Willow did her best to be circumspect, but she'd never been a good liar and she suspected she was giving away more than she intended.

"So," Buffy said as they came onto the main drag, the ice cream parlor's neon lights visible a block or so down. "This Bernie, is he your partner?"

"Umm," Willow stuttered, trying to figure out when she'd let that name slip.

"Oh my god, he is," Buffy said, grinning widely. "Are you guys living in sin or was there a wedding? Ooh, did I get to be a bridesmaid?"

"Umm," Willow repeated, trying desperately to keep the cherry red that was the curse of her complexion off her already-guilty-looking face. "You did get to be a bridesmaid, yeah. You were my maid of honor."

Buffy smiled and nodded, as though it was no more than she had expected, and Willow felt a sudden pang for their friendship, because it hadn't been a straightforward decision at the time, however much they'd patched things up in the intervening years.

"Am I excited about being an aunt?" she asked next, which was another loaded question, because Dawn had had that scare last year and Buffy most decidedly had not been excited, but of course Dawn didn't even exist yet.

"Well," Willow said carefully, trying to figure out how much she could say without causing permanent damage, either to the timeline or Buffy's psyche. "It's not such a big deal for you, since you have two kids of your own."

The silence seemed to last an age and Willow found herself wiping her palms on her corduroy pant legs over and over, a nervous gesture she hadn't done in years.

"I guess... I guess it's good to know that I'm going to live that long," Buffy said, starting out hesitant but gaining strength as she went on. "I mean, how many other Slayers get to live long enough to start families?"

Good old Buff, Willow thought, filled with relief – there she went, resolutely not thinking about the awkward truth that Willow had let slip when she'd first arrived. ‘Cause if you refused to think about it, there was no possible way it could come back to bite you on the-

She should've guessed that train of thought could only lead to one outcome.

Just as they got to the threshold of the ice cream parlor a man blocked their way, coming back out. All three of them froze in shock as recognition set in.

"Slayer!" Spike hissed, hastily stuffing something into the voluminous pocket of his duster as Willow and Buffy stepped back in almost perfect unison.

"Spike!" Buffy spat back, fumbling for her stake.

"Hey, Spike," Willow squeaked, waggling her fingers at him in sheer panic. She didn't remember this confrontation from the original time-line. What if Buffy staked him? What if-?

Spike was staring at her intensely, head cocked to one side. "You reek of magic," he said thoughtfully. And then he ran for it.

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Prompt: Nowhere to Hyde (AU)



Spike slouched in a booth at the back of the caf and took in the scene. Fluorescent strip lights, red and white candy-stripe decor, serving chits in charmingly retro get up, and his nemesis, the fifteen-foot-long counter. Spike prided himself that he was a modern vampire. He liked TV and he knew how to turn a computer on. When it came to the Slayer he was sparing no resources having her surveilled with video cameras and all that electrical shit. And yet, the ice cream counter was this close to defeating him. So he was doing what all good evil masterminds did, and watching it for weaknesses before making his move.

Thing was... thing was he'd never had much of a sweet tooth, despite his liking for human food, and so the rise of the ice cream parlor had somewhat passed him by. The last time Dru had wanted it had been in Brighton, 1910 or thereabouts, and it'd come in a hand-rolled cone with one flavor on offer. Spike took a moment to fully relive the memory of Dru licking that thing like an eager cat, her gleaming eyes fixed to his, until he'd thought he would come just from watching her. He shivered pleasurably. But those were the good old days. Now, there was a counter full of at least thirty different flavors, with dipped cones or sugar cones or little plastic bowls, and that wasn't even to mention the fuck-ton of toppings on offer! And his princess was so fickle these days with her illness, the right choice could lead to a very nice evening all round, but the wrong choice...

Fuck it. There was one called Death by Chocolate that seemed pretty popular with the punters. That would have to do. And if Dru didn't want to eat it, well then he'd just have to tie her down and get creative.

The girl who served him was a sweet little thing with big eyes and blonde hair that reminded him of his target in this town. Find slayer, kill slayer, feed slayer-blood to Dru to make her well again. It was almost enough to make him forget he wasn't planning to kill anyone here – if the minions found out he'd been hanging out at the ice cream parlor with the teenyboppers, insurrection was sure to follow, and he didn't have time to waste making more of them. So he watched her fill the pint carton with unconcealed impatience, fisted over his cash, and made as speedy a getaway as was likely to go unnoticed. Or, he would've done, if the damn slayer herself hadn't been standing right there, blocking his way.

At first he thought she was there for him, that somehow she'd tracked him there, and the waves of magic pouring off the sweet little bit of red-haired veal beside her seemed to back that theory up, but then he took in their expressions and the way they'd both stepped back at his appearance, the way the slayer was fumbling for a stake instead of already wielding it at him, and he realized that no, they were just there because there, apparently, was where teenagers went. That was certainly worth bearing in mind for the future, but right now, he had a tub of ice cream in his pocket to protect. Spike legged it

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Prompt: Scoo-Be or Not Scoo-Be? (AU)



He was half-way across town, the slayer still hot on his heels, when he realized he wasn't going to be able to shake her, so he spent another moment or two finding somewhere safe to leave his bounty – the local cemeteries were stuffed full to bursting with crypts and mausoleums, it seemed, so he found a nice tall one and put the pint of Death by Chocolate on its roof – before turning to await the slayer's arrival.

"Spike," she growled, when she caught him, "finally decided to fight, huh?"

Spike tongued his teeth and made a point of watching her tits as she heaved for breath. "How could I resist such a... tasty invitation?"

"Ugh, you're a pig!" she scowled, swiping a strand of golden hair out of her face, but even so, he noticed her flushing at his words. Oh yeah, this one was going to be fun.

"Think you can take me without back up this time, kitten?"

Her eyes flashed heat that went straight to his groin. "Spike, I can take you any time, any how. Now stop stalling and fight."

Her attack was fast and strong but a little lacking in skill, to his mind. His research had shown she'd been called just over a year ago, but who knew what the watchers were teaching their girls these days? No, she wasn't at her peak, this Buffy Summers, but she was inventive.

"You know, pet," he said, parrying the attack she had mounted with a broken off tree branch, "you've got a lot of potential as a slayer. Lots of vim and," he caught her leg before she could land a kick, and looked up her skirt, "vigor." Black lace, oh yeah. "Pity you're never going to live up to it."

He threw her back and she rolled easily to her feet. "There's only one of us here not living," she said. "I'll give you a hint, it's not me."

This time, her punch connected and he went stumbling back, momentarily stunned, before she was launching herself at him again. They wrestled around on the ground for a while, Spike trying and failing to pin her so he could finish it. She'd dropped her stake some time ago, and the tree branch shortly after, but she was somehow wriggling out of his holds like an eel, which was doing wonders for his throbbing prick but the exact opposite of wonders for his itching fangs. Then she head butted him. Hard.

They both sat back, thoroughly dazed, and that was how the little witch found them.

"Oh my god, Buffy!" she yelped. "Are you okay?" And Spike was just trying to crawl off to a safe distance because the little ring of birdies doing laps around his head probably meant he wasn't in the best shape to take them both on, when she turned to him and added, "Whoa whoa whoa, you stop right there, buddy," and apparently that signaled some new way of spellcasting, because he found he couldn't move.

Chapter Text

Prompt: The Sorcerer's a Menace (fluff)




"Now listen, you two," Willow said, with all the sternness she would usually bring to bear on Charlotte (4) and Henry (2). "This fight is not supposed to happen so we're all just going to take a time out and figure out what we're gonna do."

Buffy looked somewhere between horrified and resigned. "What do you mean, what we're gonna do? It can't involve staking the evil, immobile vampire?"

"No," Willow said, "it can't."

"Well that's a bloody turn up for the books," Spike muttered darkly, and she tried to singe him only figuratively with her look.

"Don't push it, William."

"No pushing, got it," he said innocently. "Definitely no pushing of the nice, friendly, time-travelling witch."

"You figured it out? How did you figure it out?" Buffy looked completely thrown.

"Well, I'm not stupid," Spike said, and when Buffy turned to Willow like she was some kind of adjudicator, she could only shrug, because he was kinda right, though just at this moment with them both pouting at each other like the image of their own children, she had to admit it perhaps wasn't displayed to best advantage.

"God, I miss the future," she muttered, asking the sky for patience before returning to the two recalcitrant future lovers at her feet. "So how do you want to play it?" she asked, because adult-Buffy had once told her it was good to involve the children in the decision-making process.

That, it turned out, was a mistake. Instead of the mature negotiation she'd been hoping for, things devolved pretty quickly.

"I was just minding my own business! Not my fault you landed in my lap, Slayer."

"What, at Wonderworld? That little-visited haunt of Sunnydale residents?"

"Well, yeah!"

"I don't. Believe. You."

"You actually think I'd do my hunting in a brightly lit place in the middle of town? You're off your bird."

"Don't tell me I'm not going to find a pile of dead bodies when I go back there."

"Uh, well, as a matter of fact..."

Spike gave them both an incredibly transparent, shifty look that had the conversational effect of screeching brakes.

"He didn't kill anyone, Buffy, I checked," Willow said quietly.

"Oh, right," she said, words oozing with sarcasm, though Willow could see her confusion underneath. "He just stopped by for a late night sugar hit."

"So what if I did," Spike said, sulky now.

"Be sure to brush your fangs before bed, then, Spikey, I would hate for you to get cavities," Buffy said, but the earlier energy of the argument had run its course, and it was clear they were both finally winding down.

"So what were you doing in there?" Buffy asked after a moment.

Spike looked up at Willow almost imploringly, but she wasn't feeling especially charitable just then. When he realized no help was coming from that quarter he looked away, jaw clenching, before he muttered, "I was getting an ice cream for my girl, wasn't I?"

"You were?" Now Buffy just looked confused again. "That's actually kind of..." She cut herself off at Spike's warning growl.

"Okay, you two," Willow said brightly, switching tactics to The Spelling Out of Expectations. "If you're done fighting then listen up, ‘cause this is how it's going to go. Spike, I'm going to release you first, and then you will leave or I will fry you, capiche?" He nodded. "Then, Buffy, you and I are gonna go back to Wonderworld because I've had a hell of a day and you promised me sundaes." When Buffy nodded too, she released the spell on Spike and he slowly got to his feet, watching her cautiously as he backed away.

"Know each other in the future, then, do we?" he asked, although it was in that way where he already knew the answer.

Hating to feel outdone by anyone, especially in the knowledge stakes, Willow gave him a very slightly nasty smile and said, "Spike, every Tuesday and Friday I babysit your kids."

He gave her a long, considering look before shaking his head and letting out a low chuckle. "Almost had me for a minute, there, Red. Bloody menace, you are." Then he was gone.

Buffy was quiet all the way back through town, though Willow could see she was thinking hard. She didn't say anything, in fact, until they were seated in a booth together in Wonderworld, swirling their sundaes into ice creamy, fudgey, peanutty goodness, when she voiced what was clearly occupying her mind in that moment and said, a little sadly, "It was warm out tonight. His ice cream would've been all melty by the time he got it home." Then her eyes widened as she realized what she'd said. "Oh my god!" she burst out. "It’s Spike? Seriously? Spike?"

Willow just grinned.

Chapter Text

Prompt: Never Ape an Ape Man (AU)



"Dru, love?"

"Hmm?"

They were lying quiet and contented in their bed. Every now and then, Dru's tongue would flick out to touch the corner of her mouth, the tip of a fang, dreamily chasing the last traces of ice cream.

"Have you ever... ever seen my future?"

"Oh, yes," Dru said, smiling distantly at the ceiling. "Such burning and glowing, sparks in the night, like a beautiful bonfire of souls."

"Right," Spike said, because that was old news. "How about more..." he winced, "domestic?"

He watched carefully as her faraway expression came back to earth with a delicate frown, and she rolled from her back to her side, facing him, and held out her fore and middle fingers in a V, tracing lines down his face from beneath each eye. "Say what you mean, sweet."

He grit his teeth and just said it. "Have you ever seen children in my future?"

"What?" she said blankly. "To eat, you mean?"

Chapter Text

Prompt: The Harum Scarum Sanitarium (angst)



Willow lay on Buffy's couch feeling heavy and bloated and very sorry for herself. As if the whole time-travel thing wasn't stressful enough – and hoo, boy, did she never expect to wake up to find her best friend married to a vampire of all things – except, not a vampire anymore, apparently, but that was a whole ‘nother kettle of weird – the body of her future self, that she'd suddenly found herself inhabiting, had to go and be eight months pregnant. Or, in the common parlance, as huge as a freaking whale.

Oh, and it was all her fault, too, it seemed.

"But I'm not a witch," she said for what felt like the thousandth time. "I mean, I asked Miss Calendar if she could show me a few things, but I could never do something like this!"

"Who's Miss Calendar?" Spike asked. He was vacuuming, so they were both yelling a bit, but apparently there was no time to waste once the kids were out the house. The mad-house, she corrected silently. Shouldn't she have her own place, anyway? Why was she even here?

"My computer teacher."

"Oh, right." Willow frowned at his complete lack of recognition and tried not to read too much into it. "You gonna move or what?" he asked then, nodding to the couch and the sea of detritus undoubtedly seeking refuge beneath. Willow gestured meekly at her hippo-like proportions. Having only just sat down, fighting gravity to get back up again seemed like far too much effort.

Spike sighed in a way that really was less sympathetic than she'd have thought he might be, given he was a real person now, with a soul and all, and not to mention a father of two – though maybe that part worked in reverse? – and turned towards the kitchen and yelled, "Oi, Slayer. Little help with the couch, love?"

Buffy came in, looking scarily momsy in an apron with a streak of flour on her face. Spike didn't seem to agree with the ‘scary’ assessment, however, as he turned off the vacuum and caught her by the arm, gently brushing the flour away while telling her how adorable she looked. And then they kissed like... like... they did it all the time! Which they probably did! Because they were married!

"Oh god oh god oh god," Willow whispered to herself.

"How's the cake baking going?" Spike was asking in a low, weirdly seductive voice. "Got one in the oven, yet?"

Buffy slapped him playfully on the chest, catching Willow watching them and disentangling herself. "You'll scar our visitor. What did you want, anyway? This birthday party isn't going to make itself happen."

"Free Willy here can't get off the couch," he said, grinning a little at his own joke, and more widely when he noticed Willow's cherry red blush.

"That's not nice," Willow said sulkily. "It's not like I've had 8 months to get acclimatized or anything."

"There is no acclimatization," Buffy said gravely, but she sounded more sympathetic, at least. "Don't worry. If you go into premature labor, we'll make Spike do the catching. He's got form."

“What the jeepers does that mean?” Willow squeaked.

“You know.” Buffy held up her hands and waggled slightly-floury fingers at Willow. “Hands-on experience.”

"Oh god," Willow moaned again. She didn’t want hands-on. She wanted hands very much off!

"You ready?" Buffy asked, and Willow was just about to yell at her, ‘No! Are you insane? I'm a sixteen year old virgin, of course I'm not ready!’ Except she apparently didn't mean about the whole childbirth thing because the next thing Willow knew the ceiling was about five feet closer and Spike was vacuuming underneath her.

"Buffy?" she yelped. "Are you lifting the couch?"

"Yup."

"Wow," Willow told the plasterwork. "You're a lot stronger these days."

Buffy chuckled, although something about it just didn't sound entirely... happy. "So are you."

Chapter Text

“Xander!”

 

Willow sprang to her feet and bounded across the room to hug him. Or she would have, if she hadn’t inexplicably and very suddenly gained thirty pounds around the midsection.

 

“Now that’s what I call a reception,” Xander grinned, coming over to the couch. “But it’s probably better for all concerned if you don’t get up.”

 

Willow gave a grateful smile and stopped her floundering. “Boy am I glad to see you. Say, no one mentioned this was a fancy dress party, I could’ve dressed up as Krang.”

 

“Funny,” Xander said, tapping his eyepatch almost in salute. “Who knew all those hormones would make you such a comedian?” She took him in as he was talking, the fine lines around his uncovered eye, small smattering of grey hairs above his ears, arms tanned and strong-looking. He was definitely still Xander, but he was also definitely a man. A very attractive man. And he was wearing a wedding ring. Covertly she tried to compare it to her own, excitement fluttering in her stomach. Did they match? Hard to say. Hers looked more like an engagement ring, with a diamond in the middle, but they were both gold and—

 

“Xander, hurry up!” A woman’s voice called from the other side of Buffy’s front door. “The kids need help emptying the trunk.”

 

Xander patted Willow’s hand absently as he got back up to respond to his summons. Shortly after, a pretty woman with chestnut brown hair came in trailed by a whole gaggle of kids, two of whom she recognized as Buffy’s (the thought of them also being Spike’s was just a little too much right now), each carrying grocery bags and other party supplies. The woman directed them to the kitchen before flashing a smile at Willow that seemed more like a grimace.

 

“Good idea, being pregnant,” she said. “You’ve definitely got the easiest role.” Then she followed after the children and the escalating noise levels.

 

“Who’s that?” Willow asked Xander when he came back in, arms similarly laden.

 

“Who?”

 

They frowned at each other a moment.

 

“That, that woman, with the kids.”

 

“You mean my wife?” he asked sardonically, and the sheer surprise of it hit her in the heart like a jackhammer. Buffy growing up and doing grown up things like getting married without her was one thing, but Xander was supposed to be… he was supposed to be... Don’t cry, she told herself sternly, but her eyes didn’t seem to be on board with her. Xander was staring at her dumbly, face all crinkled up in consternation as though his whole world was tilting on its axis at the thought she might have actual feelings. How darn typical.

 

“Um, Will? You feeling okay?” he asked tentatively.

 

“Oh good, Xand, you’re here,” Buffy said, materializing at his shoulder.

 

“Buffy!” he all but squeaked. “What’s going on here? Willow’s all forgetful and…” he gestured helplessly at where she sat, beached, not even able to make a quick exit. Humiliation quota met for the day.

 

Buffy sighed, biting her lip and looking between them for a moment, before seeming to come to a decision. “Go find Spike,” she told him. “He’ll explain. I’d better deal with…”

 

“It’s just,” Willow told her between hiccups a few minutes later, as Buffy attempted to clean her up in the bathroom. “I can’t – think of anyone else – I’d ever want to have a – a baby with.”

 

“Oh, sweetie,” Buffy said, her whole body seeming to soften with compassion, and all of a sudden she looked like Buffy again – Willow’s Buffy – minus all the hard edges that she hadn’t really noticed until they were gone. Hard edges that only seemed hard towards Willow. She blames me for the body-switch, Willow realized, and it so totally wasn’t fair because whatever future-Willow had done it had nothing to do with her. But then Buffy was hugging her and it all went away again. “There is someone, a very special someone, I promise. You’ll find each other, you just have to be patient.”

 

“Will I… will I get to meet him? While I’m here?”

 

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”

 

“Okay, but,” Willow sniffled. “Please just tell me I don’t actually live here with you and Spike.”

 

“God, no,” Buffy said, laughing a little. “Well, not anymore, anyway.”

 

Willow pulled back and tried for a smile. Bit wobbly on the dismount, but a solid effort. “I would ask, but…”

 

“Not such a good idea,” Buffy repeated, smiling with her.

Chapter Text

Prompt: Spike & A Moment’s Respite

 

 

The guests all gone home, the kids squared away for the night, the house a complete and total wreck, and Buffy driving a sozzled ex-Watcher back to his motel, Spike stepped outside onto the porch to snatch a moment of well-earned quiet for himself -- and get in a cheeky fag.

 

 “You smoke?” a familiar voice peeped from the shadows and he almost choked on that blissful first drag. He’d somehow managed to forget about her.

 

“Uh, yeah,” he got out, wheezing. “Fuck. Don’t startle a man like that, I’m not as unbreakable as I used to be.”

 

“Sorry,” Willow said, which only served to remind him that this was actually impostor-Willow-from-the-past. “Wait, not sorry! You brought it on yourself with your, your cancer sticks! And around a pregnant lady too.”

 

He smirked at her, purposely taking another long drag before cutting his losses – and the chance Buffy would find out – and flicking it into the rose beds. “That’s more like it, Red.”

 

She watched him curiously as he came to sit beside her on the long chair swing, throwing his boots up on the porch railing.

 

“You act like you really... know me,” she said haltingly. 

 

Spike gave a sardonic side-glance. “Yeah, well I do.”

 

“I mean,” she said, “I’ve completely recalibrated my weird scale the last year or so, but this is weird. I only just met you a few days ago, and you were trying to kill us.”

 

He shrugged. “I got over it. So did you.”

 

“That easy, huh?”

 

“No.”

 

He watched from the corner of his eye as she fiddled with her nails, the kind of nervous twitching you hardly ever saw Red making these days.

 

“I don’t know how to talk,” she said then, the words spilling out in an anxious gush. “I mean, not how to talk, obviously, because mouth moving, words coming out, but -- people! Who I don’t know! Or who’ve changed, or just, just grown up without me, I guess. And I don’t know what I can say or ask without destroying the timeline, or my head exploding! And even if it’s completely fine and nothing I do or find out here matters, I don’t actually know if I want to know. You know?”

 

Spike found himself smiling fondly by the time she was done. Girl really had been a sweet little piece of veal, once upon a time. The look she was giving him in return was one of pure confusion, which he had to admit was adding to the upwelling of his softer feelings, but then her face crumpled into a frown and she let out a soft grunt, clutching at her swollen belly.

 

“Don’t worry,” Spike felt moved to comfort her, “it’s just the little one kicking, happens more after you eat. He’s not trying to claw his way out or anything.”

 

“Thanks,” she muttered sarcastically, then, “It’s a ‘he’?”

 

Spike wracked his brains for a moment, but no, this wasn’t one of the things they’d hurriedly agreed to leave out of conversation.

 

“Yeah,” he said, relaxing. “There was this whole gender reveal thing, with these cute little cupcakes we had to bite into to find the blue centers.” Willow was looking at him like he’d just said ‘babies’ instead of ‘cupcakes’. “What?”

 

She shook her head. “Nothing. Just...” She smiled. “Nothing.”

 

“Look,” Spike told her. “Your time, when you get back there – shit’s coming, and it’ll hit the biggest fan you could ever imagine. But then, things’ll get better.” He looked at her belly, still fluttering with the baby’s movements, and nostalgia and love for Buffy and his own beautiful little bits swelled up in him to overflowing. “That’s what kids’ll do for you.”

 

“Thanks,” she said again. “I guess.” She didn’t get it, of course, but maybe she’d remember in a few years. Maybe... “You’re not what I expected,” she said.

 

“Never was,” he said. “Then again,” he added meditatively, “S’pose it’s a bit harder to see when someone’s threatening to eat you.”

 

She shuddered, looking away. “I had to spend hours in a janitor’s closet with Cordelia that night you invaded the school, you know. Hours. I don’t want to think about vamp-you right now.”

 

“Fair enough,” he said easily. “Not exactly chock full of rosy memories for me, either.”

 

He was more than happy to sit in silence until Buffy got back, which wouldn’t be long now, but Red had never done silence well. On reflection, neither had he.

 

“Tell me something about human-you, instead,” the girl prodded, and, well, how was a guy to resist that kind of invitation?

 

Immediately, options crossed his mind. Heroic stories, like how he’d won his humanity. Romantic stories, like his wedding day to the slayer of his dreams. But in the end his urge to needle the little witch won out and he smiled a bit wolfishly and started telling her about the time he’d ended up delivering Charlotte with his own two hands in the middle of an enchanted maize maze.

Chapter Text

Prompt: Buffy & Subtle Kindnesses

 

 

Buffy looked at her watch again and sighed. Angel was supposed to have come seen her tonight. Well, he’d said he’d catch up with her while she was patrolling, and there’d been something about some intel he was trying to track down, but she’d hoped that’d just been for the benefit of her Watcherly audience. Apparently, he’d been serious, because it was nearing 1am and he hadn’t shown yet, and Buffy had run out of graveyards.

 

Also, there’d been a strange itching between her shoulder blades all evening and it was totally creeping her out because she had a bad feeling she knew what it meant; she really wasn’t in the mood for hanging around in the dark with nothing for company but the grave-markers.

 

Something moved and detached itself from the shadows, and Buffy heaved another put-upon sigh – completely justifiable since it was Spike who’d just appeared before her. That dealt with the ‘nothing for company’ thing, at least, she supposed. She should be more careful what she wished for.

 

“What are you doing here?” she asked snippily. She’d been doing great with ignoring future-Willow’s very disturbing information the last couple of weeks, as it pertained to this particular impediment, but that was very much dependent on blocking out the entire reality that was Spike. With him right there in front of her... well, there was always something about him that was impossible to ignore.

 

Weirdly, though, he only shrugged, hands in the pockets of his long leather coat, and walked slowly towards her.

 

“Been watching you, Slayer,” he said eventually, though his voice was oddly quiet. “Thought about having my boys film you, but there’s nothing quite like the personal touch, is there?”

 

“Great,” Buffy muttered, rolling her eyes, “another stalker. Look, Spike, if you wanna fight, then fight, but this...” she waved her hand at him, “popping up at random times for a friendly chat is just...” she didn’t know what, but she’d had enough of it with Angel and beyond enough of it with Spike. How many times had it been, now, anyway – two? Three? They were supposed to be enemies. It was throwing her off more than she wanted to admit.

 

He smirked, though his look was intent, as though he was trying to peel back the layers of Buffy to find the snappy toy surprise at her center. If that’s what he was expecting, he was going to be sorely disappointed.

 

“Any developments with Little Red Riding Hood?” he asked.

 

Buffy took a deep breath to repel him again, and then... just... deflated.

 

“No joy,” she sighed. “We’ve researched and read through about four hundred years’ worth of Watcher diaries, but nothing like this has ever been recorded. Of course, if it had it might’ve changed the timeline and then no one would remember it had happened in the first place, but if that’s the case then how come Willow’s memories haven’t been changed? Unless they already have, because it’s not like she’d remember, because it always would’ve been that way. But she said she’d be able to tell, so…”

 

Was he... was he smiling at her? She blinked, and the expression was gone. Probably had never been there in the first place. Bad lighting and all.

 

“Sure she’s telling the truth?”

 

“Of course!” Buffy spluttered, outraged, although the other possibility hadn’t actually occurred to her.

 

“All right,” he said, holding up his hands and taking a step back. “Didn’t come here to fight.”

 

“When do you ever?” she spat, which made him quirk an eyebrow kinda sardonically, but otherwise failed to rile him.

 

“Could fight if you want, pet,” he said – finally! – but then he reached back into his pocket and withdrew a slim book, no bigger than her diary, and yet even from here she could see it was old. “Just thought you’d rather have some fresh info for your quest.”

 

At her wordless scowl, he shrugged and balanced it carefully on top of a nearby gravestone. 

 

“You can say thank you later,” he said, grinning, and melted back into the darkness – and how did he even do that when his hair was that color?

 

Buffy waited a moment or two to make sure he was really gone, then snatched up the book and strode quickly for home. And tried, on the way, to figure out how the hell that vamp had the made the words ‘fight’ and ‘thank you’ sound so utterly pornographic.

Chapter Text

Prompt: Drusilla & The Color Green

 

 

Drusilla was playing with her dolls at her dressing table when Spike returned from his rendezvous with the Slayer. The prey he’d brought home for her earlier in the evening was still chained up in the corner, and still very much breathing.

 

“You haven’t eaten, my sweet,” he said, coming to stand behind her and running a hand affectionately down the dark, silky fall of her hair.

 

“Is there food?” she asked dreamily, leaning back into his touch. “I’ve been all caught up.”

 

“Has Miss Edith been bad?” he asked, leaving it for now. The way Dru treated her dolls was often a useful barometer for how the rest of his night would go. For once – the first time in a long time, he realized – not a one of them was gagged or blindfolded.

 

“Don’t know,” his love murmured. “Haven’t heard. No little pixies on my shoulder tonight.”

 

Well, that was sufficiently unusual to pique his interest.

 

“What have you been doing, then, poppet?”

 

She smiled, almost a mischievous look, and held up a paint brush and tiny artist’s palette. “Green,” she said confidingly. “Like mermaids’ tails and untried girls. All green, and me along with them, dragged down to the deep...”

 

Bending over her shoulder, Spike took a closer look, and saw it – Dru had painted each of the dolls’ eyes a limpid, silvery, familiar green. 

 

And he wondered, not for the first time, if her sickness was affecting her Sight, or if she simply hadn’t been able to put the pieces together yet. 

 

If only he knew what the pieces were.

Chapter Text

Prompt: Spuffy & Coming Home

 

 

“You ever wonder how things might’ve gone?” Buffy asked later that night as she came out of the en suite in her pajamas, hair brush in hand. “I mean, so much of this-” she waved it around her in a gesture that was intended to encompass the two of them, their home and the entirety of the world- “came down to a handful of split second decisions. What if… what if a different decision was made? Would it just make a little change, or a great big honking one? How would we even know?”

 

On the bed, Spike had laid his book face-down on his chest, marking his page, and was treating her to a raised eyebrow and soft smile – a combination she was particularly partial to, it had to be said.

 

“Been stewing on this all day, have you, love?” he asked. God, had it only been this morning that young-Willow had suddenly stumbled into her best friend’s body in the middle of Buffy’s bedroom?

 

“No,” she denied, because it had been a hell of a day for a magical crisis, what with it being Henry’s third birthday party, and she honestly hadn’t had enough spare moments to string together to genuinely call it stewing. “More like… bubbling away under the surface.”

 

“Right,” Spike said, amused. “Important distinction, good to know.”

 

“Shut up,” she sighed, “you know what I mean. Are you honestly saying it doesn’t worry you, what could happen?”

 

Suddenly, as though the idea had just then taken solid form, it hit her like a truck full of Gorlan demons, the magnitude of everything she could lose – her husband, her children, everything. It all teetered on a knife edge. “Oh god,” she whispered, feeling light-headed. “We have to fix this.”

 

And there was Spike, out of nowhere at her side, wrapping her in arms more familiar than anything.

“Buffy,” he said, completely serious now. “Falling in love with you was the best thing that ever happened to me. I can’t imagine any version of myself that could be stupid enough not to do that.”

 

“You sure about that?” Buffy asked into the warm plane of his chest. “You had some moments of intense stupidity back in the day.”

 

“Oh, that so? Well I seem to recall a snotty little slayer who had a few of her own less than stellar moments.” Then it seemed to hit him, too. “Right, that’s your point.” He held her tighter, and didn’t complain when she squeezed him so hard his ribs creaked. 

 

“What’re we gonna do?” she asked. “Our whole lives could change and we wouldn’t even realize. I can’t…”

 

She trailed off as their bedroom door cracked open. Charlotte stood there looking sleepy and forlorn, trailing Benji Bunny by the ear. “Henry keeps kicking me,” she whined. They’d had to put the kids in together to give Willow a bed, so this wasn’t entirely unexpected, and yet suddenly Buffy couldn’t think of anything more important than wrapping up her daughter, that beautiful little miracle, in the safety of her own bed and watching over her all night.

 

She met Spike’s eyes for a moment and he nodded. “I’ll go get the little one,” he said, brushing past Charlotte with an affectionate hand to the top of her flossy head, a gesture so familiar and yet it set off a powerful pang in her chest just for the thought of its loss.

 

The children slept between them that night, and over their shoulders, Buffy entwined her fingers with Spike’s and just looked and looked at him until the sky began to lighten and her eyes wouldn’t stay open any more.