Characters: Spike, Buffy, Spike-baby
A/N: That's right, a bit of Seraphverse fic! ruuger made me this lovely icon, which seemed excuse enough to polish up this snippet set late S5 in the Seraphverse.
A week or so after the funeral, Spike sat in his scrounged armchair cradling Cora when Buffy came creeping down the stairs. She walked as cautiously as if one misstep might call up some monster even she didn’t care to fight, and she sat silently at the edge of his bed, expression stiff and eyes blank.
Whatever words he might have said stuck in his throat, as they all seemed to these days. Probably they were worthless anyway. More than once recently he’d envied Tara her lost mother. Tara didn’t need words to understand nor be understood; there was a kinship there that he felt his mother’s death forever barring him from.
“Can I hold her?”
He glanced up at Buffy, startled. Her eyes were actually on his face and more focused than he’d seen in days. She looked as though she thought he’d say no, as if denial was to be expected of life even in this small thing.
When he held Cora out to her, she came and took her and sat again on the bed, still after all this time a bit awkward with her, but careful. Buffy slipped her fingers through Cora’s curls, a few strands at a time. It was a temptation no one seemed able to withstand; certainly Spike never could.
There was something comforting about babies, it seemed. At least, people kept wanting to borrow his. He’d pick her up from her nap and Dawn would be at his elbow, stony-faced yet insistent on changing the nappy and warming the soggy dinner. Whenever Anya was over lately, Cora could barely be pried from her arms.
Maybe it was Cora’s contented incomprehension that balmed the soul, the skies of her moods all unclouded by grief - hunger and discontent being entirely separate matters. Or maybe it was just that her very presence demanded that life carry on.
“She seems happy,” Buffy said, barely audible.
“Clean linens, full belly, adoring public – not a lot more a person wants out of life, is there? At that age, I mean,” he added hastily as he looked again at Buffy’s pale face.
He was no good at this grieving business, not when it meant sidling ghostlike through the house and saying everything in whispers. As bad as when his father died, almost, and he just a little nipper all the lonelier for being the only person in the whole house who cried aloud. Indecorous, his Aunt Georgina said.
He really ought to thank the witches for taking Cora so he could go on that bender. Cleansing, he’d found. Sooner or later, all the ache washed out with the hangover.
But it didn’t seem Buffy was even listening, whatever he said. She kept sliding her fingers through Cora’s hair while her own draped her bowed head. It was why Spike didn’t realize Buffy was crying until he smelled the tears.
It came to him, distantly, that he’d caused just such pain as this thousands of times over. He shoved the thought viciously away.
He waited for the tears to dry and Buffy to look up, mask fixed in place again, but eventually her breath began to come in near-silent gasps and her shoulders began to shake with it. Just watching her brought on a horrible ache behind his sternum.
Do something, you berk.
Maybe she wants to be let alone.
She’s here, isn’t she?
If only to still his own thoughts, he got up and sat gingerly next to Buffy, watching for some sign he was unwanted. But Buffy was crying openly now, raining tears on Cora’s sleeping face and paying him no attention at all. He let a hand fall on her shoulder and waited for her to stiffen and pull away: strong certain Slayer.
Instead, she leaned just slightly into his touch. That felt like reason enough to leave his hand where it was.
They sat that way a long time. Cora kept on sleeping. Finally, Buffy’s sniffling got the best of Spike and he went to find a tissue.
“Thanks,” she said, taking it. Whispering, she added, “I miss her so much.”
Spike nodded, though Buffy wasn’t looking at him. “Yeah.”
“I don’t know what to do now,” said she of the lifelong destiny, the sister to feed, the classes to finish, the job to find, the dishes to wash.
“Know what you mean,” he said. “Plenty to do. It’s the guiding principle that’s lacking.”
“Your mum was my guide, like. Was helping me sort this parent thing. I don’t know how, you know,” he confessed in a rush.
“I kind of figured,” she said, glancing up at him with a glimmer of humor. “Looks like you’re doing okay, though.”
“Yeah?” As she nodded, he fought down a grin of pleasure. Suddenly self-conscious, his hands awkwardly empty, he said, “I can take her, if you like.”
Buffy looked up then, eyes reddened but clear. “Could I keep her? Just for a little bit?”
And what could he do but nod, and sit beside her again, and watch a grieving vampire slayer as she watched his daughter sleep.