Buffy: He ran away, right? Giles: Sort of, more. turned and swept out majestically, I suppose. Said I didn't concern him. Buffy: So a mythic triumph over a completely indifferent foe? Giles: Well, I'm not dead or unconscious, so I say bravo for me.

'Same Time, Same Place'

Buffista Fic: It Could Be Plot Bunnies  

Where the Buffistas let their fanfic creative juices flow. May contain erotica.

P.M. Marc - Sep 17, 2002 8:20:23 pm PDT #16 of 10001
So come, my friends, be not afraid/We are so lightly here/It is in love that we are made; In love we disappear

At midnight, she was still awake and staring at nothing. She frowned and did some quick calculating. It was morning where Giles was. She could call him, tell him, and then sleep knowing he'd be able to give her some advice. She grabbed the phone and dialled his number.

"Hello?" he sounded like she'd woken him.

"Giles? It's me. Do you have a few minutes? Did I wake you up?"

"Oh, hello Buffy. Yes of course, and no, I've been up since about four. Willow was having a bad night, I'm afraid."

She didn't bother with preliminaries. "Giles, I'm pregnant."

"Are you quite sure?" he didn't sound disappointed, just tired.

"Yes. Confirmed beyond any shadow of a doubt."

The phone was silent except for the faint sound of a throat being cleared.


"I'm still here. Buffy, when--how--did this happen?"

"The usual way. About two and a half months ago. I went away overnight after the hallucinations and the duct tape and ran into someone I knew from L.A. It just happened, that's all. Giles, I know you're busy, you've got your hands full with Willow, but is there..." her voice broke.

"Is there any way I could come back? Yes, of course. I'll make the arrangements. I should be there before the end of the week."

"Thank you."

"It's quite late where you are, Buffy. Get some sleep, I'll call you when I get into Sunnydale."

"Good night, Giles. And thank you again." She hung up the phone and let herself give in to the tears that had been threatening all day.

Crying brought back the nausea as mucus flowed from her sinuses down her throat. Instead of sleeping, she spent the rest of the night alternating between puking and crying.

"I'm a mess," she told her reflection with its swollen red eyes and blotched skin. Strange what difference a few hours could make. "I should be patrolling, or planning, or something. Not standing in a bathroom blowing my nose, throwing up, blowing my nose some more, and feeling sorry for myself."

The cold porcelain of the hexagonal tiles on the floor felt good under her feet. She touched her hot face and decided to see if it felt as good against her cheek. It did. She stretched out next to the bathtub and fell asleep to the chirping of birds.

//Tara handed her a tissue. "It's all going to be just fine, you'll see." "Tara, you're dead." "So were you, twice, right?" She was wearing the same dress she'd worn the day she was shot, but it was clean, the hole over her heart mended and the blood gone. "I know it's rough, but you'll get through it. You always do." "It's all I ever do. Just once, I'd like to not be getting through something. Why are you here?" "The same reason I was last time, to speak for her." "Are you going to tell me death is my gift? Because I'm sick of that. I'm sick of death." "No, not this time. You already know what you need to do." "Do I? Because I've got to tell you, I'm still not clear on the matter." Tara smiled, a wide, happy, knowing smile. "Yes you are. Trust your instincts, Buffy. I have to go now... tell Willow I love her, always." Then she vanished, leaving Buffy alone. No--her hand crept to her belly--not alone. Tara was right, it was all clear.//

When she woke up, there was a pillow under her head and a blanket draped over her. Dawn must have found her and decided to let her sleep. Her eyelids felt tight and stretched, her shoulders were stiff from sleeping on the floor, and her nose was raw from a night spent using toilet paper as tissue, but her stomach seemed stable and she felt a little better than she had the night before.

P.M. Marc - Sep 17, 2002 8:20:44 pm PDT #17 of 10001
So come, my friends, be not afraid/We are so lightly here/It is in love that we are made; In love we disappear

A shower had improved her mobility and her mood. She thought about the dream again. It felt prophetic, but maybe it was just the hormones. It didn't matter; she'd made up her mind. She went to the kitchen for a glass of milk and found Dawn already there, washing the dishes.

"Giles is coming," she told her.

"You called him? I guess you must have, huh?"

"I'm going to go through with it, Dawn. After that, I don't know what's going to happen. I just know that this is something I have to do."

Dawn was quiet, her attention focused on the sudsy water.

"Dawnie? What's the matter, cat got your tongue?"

"You're sure? That this is what you want to do?"

"I'm sure that this is what I have to do. Does it bother you?"

"No, it's just... Buffy, what if they try to take me away from you again? Would they do that? I mean, you've quit your job, someone tried to kill you in your own yard, Tara was killed, you're pregnant. It doesn't really look good."

"Dad's finally paying some of your support, it's been quiet for a month, and social services hasn't been beating down our door. I think we'll be okay."

Dawn made a game attempt at a smile and went back to the dishes. "I hope so. I won't have to give up my room, will I?"

"I haven't thought that far ahead, and I'm not sure that I'm going to be the person raising this baby."

"I thought you said you were going through with it, having the baby."

"I am, but having and keeping are two different things. We'll see. I'm going to wait and see what Giles says before I decide what's going to happen after the baby gets here."

"When's Giles get here?"

"Soon. He's going to call me when he gets in."



"Who's is it? It can't be Spike's, because, well.. he's a vampire, but you kind of don't know any other guys except Xander and you didn't... not with Xander. Did you?" Dawn's eyes were round as she considered the possibilities.

"There's not really enough no in the world for that, Dawn. No, not Xander. It was just someone I ran into when I went away."

"Ran into as in knew already or ran into as in, well, ran into?"

"As in knew already, and no, I haven't told him, and no, I'm not telling you who he is. It's not important."

P.M. Marc - Sep 17, 2002 8:21:23 pm PDT #18 of 10001
So come, my friends, be not afraid/We are so lightly here/It is in love that we are made; In love we disappear

Dawn didn't say anything; she just dropped the subject and left the room. Buffy waited until her sister was upstairs, then walked over to the laptop Willow had left behind when she'd gone to England with Giles. A quick search of the online L.A. white pages pulled up just one Wyndam-Pryce. She copied down the phone number and address, wondering if she'd ever get up the nerve to use either.

The next two days passed like molasses. Buffy amused herself rewatching old movies, folding the towels, and doing laundry just so she could smell the clothes as they dried. There was something comforting about sitting on the basement stairs, the cool air scented with dryer sheets and dust. It was homey in a way the upstairs hadn't been since her mom's death. If she closed her eyes, she could see Joyce standing there, hands on hips as she tried to keep from opening the dryer before the buzzer sounded. She felt closer to her mother here than anywhere else.

She was rewashing already-clean whites when the phone rang. Mindful of her condition, and not really wanting to leave the basement and its ghosts behind, she let Dawn answer.

"Buffy! It's Giles." The call from upstairs roused her from her communion.

"Hang on, I'll be right there!"

She got up and bid her mother farewell, taking one last deep breath before going to take the call.

  • **

As it wasn't certain how long Giles would be in Sunnydale, it was decided that he'd stay in the house on Revello Drive rather than staying in a hotel. A taxi dropped him off, suitcase in hand. Buffy hugged him before giving him a chance to set it down.

"Make it better?" She tried for playful, but was pretty certain it had come out a little closer to pathetic.

He returned the hug as best he could with his free hand. "I'll see what I can do, but I'm afraid I don't really have much--well, any--experience with this sort of thing."

"That makes two of us, then." She detached herself from his warm, familiar form. "I've made Willow's--the spare room up for you."

"Thank you. Would you rather talk now, or wait until I'm settled in?"

"I'd rather hold off as long as humanly possible so I can cling frantically to my last few strings of denial and shreds of dignity, but I'll settle for waiting until you've at least had a chance to recover from the plane ride before letting you read me the riot act."

"Buffy, you may rest assured that I'm not going to be reading you the riot act. I'm here to help, not to lecture."

She hugged him again and let him go upstairs to unpack while she got things ready for dinner. It had been a while since she and Dawn had had anything like a sit-down meal. Not that Dawn was going to be home for this one; she'd gone over to Janice's, saying that she'd just be in the way when Buffy and Giles were talking. Buffy supposed she had a point, but still wished she'd be here for the food part of it. She'd save Dawn some leftovers, and maybe try to have a real meal again in a couple of days.

Dinner was unexpectedly uncomfortable. She played with her food, her appetite lost to nerves, until Giles finally set down his fork and cleared his throat. She was a little surprised when he didn't clean his glasses.

"Buffy, if you'd rather talk about all this now and get it over with, please feel free to do so."

She looked up from her plate with a wistful smile. "That obvious, was it?"

"Yes, I'm afraid so."

"You should finish eating. Airplane food is no substitute for actual food. I think I'm going to stick my plate in the fridge and come back to it when my stomach doesn't contain a fresh load of butterflies. Meet me on the couch when you're done?"

She fled the room, plate in hand, and settled on the couch to wait for him to finish. It didn't take long. He'd either eaten in haste, or (and she figured the second possibility was the more likely of the two) set his meal aside to come and talk with her before she freaked out.

P.M. Marc - Sep 17, 2002 8:21:45 pm PDT #19 of 10001
So come, my friends, be not afraid/We are so lightly here/It is in love that we are made; In love we disappear

"Giles, I don't know what to do. I'm scared, half going out of my mind. Dawn's made me stop patrolling, and I've gotten away with it so far, but I can't just not do it. Sooner or later, something's going to come up and I'm going to need to be out there. Only problem is, it's not just me I have to worry about any more."

He frowned a little before answering. "Have you thought about what you're going to do in the long term? This is a very serious situation, Buffy."

"Having it. I haven't thought much beyond that. As little sense as it makes, it's the only option I'm willing to look at. Take what I felt about Dawn when I had to think about choosing between her and the world, and make it about a million times stronger."

The glasses came off. She stifled a laugh as he cleaned them while collecting his thoughts. "I took the liberty of looking through all the materials the Council had on hand, but I'm afraid I couldn't find anything that dealt with this particular situation. Most Slayers don't..."

"Live long enough for it to be an issue? I didn't, but there were extenuating circumstances that nixed that, as you know."

Except for a slightly pained frown, he chose to ignore her comment. "It's something that, if it has happened, hasn't been documented. There's no precedent for it."

"So it's safe to say it's not in that handbook I didn't get?" Better living through flip responses, she thought when she heard the words.

"Yes, it's safe to say that this information is not covered in the handbook." He hesitated, choosing his words carefully. "Buffy, I felt it was best if I didn't inform the Council of your condition. I don't trust them to do what would be best for you under these circumstances. However, it isn't something that can be kept from them forever, and you need to keep that in mind when making plans."

"I know. If it helps, the closest I've come to planning is deciding to keep it."

"Strange as it may seem, I find that not at all comforting. We'll try to take this one step at a time. Find some sort of a solution to the patrolling limitations first, and take the rest as we come to it. You'll need to tell the others, of course. They need to know what they'll be up against, what the stakes are."

"Dawn knows, and, well, Xander and Anya are really the only people left since the big blow up. Speaking of, will Willow be all right while you're over here?"

Giles threw her a look that managed to convey irritation and affection and a hint of disappointment that she'd even felt the need to ask the question. "She's in very good hands, there's nothing to worry about there."

"So tomorrow I tell Xander and Anya. Somehow, I'm not sure it will even register."

"They are, well, on speaking terms, aren't they?"

"If by speaking you mean occasionally saying a word or two to try and fool everyone into thinking they're just fine with each other, then yes. Anya's convinced him that it doesn't make any economic sense for one of them to move out when there's plenty of space and a lease-breaking penalty, but I'm getting the impression that their housing situation makes me and Kathy look like a match made in heaven."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

P.M. Marc - Sep 17, 2002 8:22:05 pm PDT #20 of 10001
So come, my friends, be not afraid/We are so lightly here/It is in love that we are made; In love we disappear

"On the other hand, I'm pretty certain they're having sex again, so it's almost like nothing's changed."

Giles cleaned his glasses again. "Perhaps we should change the subject."

"Sorry. I guess that was a little more information than you needed. So, once again, I'm up against something the council hasn't faced. That's never been good."

The discussion shifted to the level of demonic activity, which was low, but steady--nothing out of the ordinary, which for Sunnydale was something out of the ordinary--and to the consideration of possible short-term solutions. Giles was unwilling to look any further ahead than a handful of months.

"Once your situation becomes known, the main factor in keeping things in check, which is fear of the Slayer, will be compromised. At that point, Buffy, I would say it's a safe bet that all hell will, as usual, break loose," he informed her.

Xander and Anya took it quietly, although Xander's "I'm trying not to be judgey, see I'm not judging" efforts were pretty transparent. Anya managed to say "Don't you wish..." before waving her hand and adding, "forget that I said that. I'm pleased for you and your unborn human."

Following a suggestion of Anya's--she pointed out that they'd managed to survive one summer with no Buffy, so a summer with a slightly subfunctional Buffy would just involve a minor reworking of that arrangement--they worked out a patrolling system. Buffy basically acted as bait, drawing out the vampires so that Xander or Giles or Anya could dust them.

"It's all about creative accounting," Anya said a little too enthusiastically after their first night on the job. "The demons still think there's a Slayer after them, so the level of intimidation remains high, which buys us time."

"Slaying, the Enron way. That's Anya for you." Xander responded. She glared at him and he ducked his head. "I know. Insensitive."

The summer fashion for loose peasant blouses hid the evidence of Buffy's rapidly expanding girth for a couple of months, but her increased discomfort and exhaustion forced them to find a different solution to the patrolling issue. It was Xander who finally came up with it.

"I say we bribe 'em. Anya could tell us the best group to go with until Buffy's back in fighting shape. Who's with me here? Show of hands?"

Anya stuck up both of hers, beaming at her erstwhile fiance. "Xander is learning the importance of currency."

Buffy and Giles raised theirs weakly. It wasn't much, but it was the best they'd managed to come up with. When Xander and Anya left for the night, they sat in silence in the living room.

"It's not going to work, is it, Giles?" She was too tired to cry, no matter how tempting it was.

"The bribing? It could." He sounded as if he wanted to convince himself.

"I was thinking more along the lines of working motherhood."

"No, I'm afraid it won't. I'm sorry, Buffy."

"I guess that leaves adoption, huh?"

P.M. Marc - Sep 17, 2002 8:22:33 pm PDT #21 of 10001
So come, my friends, be not afraid/We are so lightly here/It is in love that we are made; In love we disappear

"I'm not certain that's the best solution, either," he frowned, looking about a decade older than usual. "There have been rumours, in the sort of circles where they'd be most damaging, about your pregnancy. It's hard to hide the fact that you're showing now, and your medical records, if compromised, would provide all the proof needed. The Council, if they got wind of this, and I have no doubt that they will, would be understandably curious about the offspring of a Slayer. I wouldn't put kidnapping or manipulation of the adoption process past them. Buffy, I haven't asked this, because it's clearly none of my business, but what about the father? Have you informed him? Does he know what you are?"

"No, and yes. And before you ask, yes, I think he would know what to do, and no, I'm not going to say who he is."

"In that case, you should contact him and inform him of the situation as soon as can be arranged."

"I'd rather tell him in person; this isn't the sort of thing I think I could handle telling him over the phone. I'll see if Xander will drive me to L.A. this weekend. I'll call when I know what his response is."

"Buffy, I know you don't want to do this, but it really is for the best, you know."

She tried a smile, and almost succeeded. "I know," she agreed, and made her way to her room where, she spent the rest of the night convincing herself that she didn't have another choice.

  • **

For once he was grateful to hear a knock on his door. He'd been about ready to throw darts at the Playstation to relieve the boredom.

It could have been worse, he supposed. He could have been tempted to call Lilah.

The door had been open for at least a minute before he realized that it was worse.

"Can I come in?"

Buffy Summers stood there, looking very much as she had almost half a year before. Excepting, of course, for the noticeable bulge in her midsection.

It seemed he hadn't imagined the interlude in her hotel room. It also seemed that the night had not been without consequence.

He appeared to have lost the power of speech, so he merely nodded and gestured towards the living room. She walked to the couch and collapsed in a tired heap.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to just show up. I should have told you when I found out."

She paused and he found his tongue. "I--can I get you anything?"


He walked blindly to the kitchen and filled a glass from the filter. Life had suddenly become quite a bit more complicated, and he found himself missing the boredom. The sensation he was experiencing now was not unfamiliar. Quite to the contrary, he and panic were old companions.

She took the glass and slowly drank, her eyes focusing on anything but him.

"I was going to call," she murmured in the direction of the coffee table. "I didn't realize it myself until long after it should have been obvious. It's been a rough couple of months... I guess I lost track of time."

"What is it you... what do you plan on doing?"

"Having her. But I can't keep her."

"Her?" Wesley wondered if the news of impending parenthood stripped all men of their vocabularies. It would certainly explain a great deal about Angel. He felt he should sit down, but he couldn't seem to locate the lower half of his body.

"Her. At least, that's what the ultrasound guy said at my last check up. She's due in about three and a half months." A smile lit her features and faded quickly. "Wesley, I have to give her up. I know that. Don't think I haven't tried to figure out some way to balance slaying and motherhood." She folded her hands protectively over the bump. "I can't do it. I can't be both. That's why I'm here."

P.M. Marc - Sep 17, 2002 8:22:53 pm PDT #22 of 10001
So come, my friends, be not afraid/We are so lightly here/It is in love that we are made; In love we disappear

"Oh. I see. No, that's not quite right. I don't see. I beg your pardon?"

"She needs someone who can protect her. If I give her up for adoption, I can't trust that she'd be safe. She's still the daughter of the Slayer. If word got out...well, between the Council and various nasties, I'm not sure I really want to think about what could happen."

Things were starting to become much clearer. He still couldn't feel his feet, but the disconnect between brain and mouth seemed to have vanished.

"You want me to take her, raise her, keep her safe, is that it?"

She nodded and he wondered just how twisted the Powers That Be were, wondered if this was their revenge for his bungling of the Connor situation.

He told her as much, not glossing over his role in the debacle.

There was a long silence after he finished. He stared at his hands, wishing he had something to occupy them.

"You wouldn't fail a second time." Her matter-of-fact statement broke the silence. "You were willing to walk away from everything you cared about to protect someone else's child. I think you'd do at least as much for your own."

"There is no guarantee that it would be enough. Given my track record, I'd say the odds are somewhat in favour of the enemy."

Buffy shrugged. "At least they wouldn't be astronomically so. She deserves a chance at a normal life, and like it or not, you're the best she's got."

He knew he was willing himself to be convinced by her argument, but he didn't really care. He couldn't make up for what had happened with Connor, but he had a chance to try again and he needed to take it.

Besides, if he let his child grow up with strangers, let himself out of her life, he'd never forgive himself. He could do this. He just had to figure out how.

"Buffy, do you have a plan? Some sort of strategy?"

"Not really. We kind of planned ourselves out coming up with a way to keep Sunnydale safe during my maternity leave."

His curiosity must have been evident, because she elucidated without waiting for him to form the question.

"We used good old fashioned bribery. Giles and Xander pooled resources and paid one of the local demon gangs to keep things in check until I'm back in fighting shape. I'm pretty sure I'll have to kill them in a few months, but so far, so good."

He frowned, thinking rapidly. "We need to avoid a paper trail, anything that could be pulled up by the Council or other interested parties. Have you a decent set of alternative papers?"

"A... huh?"

"Fake ID. I'll take that as a no." He hurried over to a table and grabbed a paper and pen. "So we'll need that. Shouldn't be too hard. We should get you out of Los Angeles, too. Go somewhere, perhaps out of state for the duration."

"Wow. You can take the Watcher out of the Council, but you really can't take the Council out of the Watcher, can you?"

"Buffy, you know it's the only way possible to keep her safe."

She grinned. "I know. It's just that last time I saw you, you weren't exactly Mr. Loquacious. I'd kind of forgotten what you're like when you can talk." She sobered up. "You're right, though. How soon will I need to have everything in order?"

"As soon as possible. I presume that your physician's appointments were under your name?"

Buffy nodded.

"Well, there's nothing we can do about that at the moment. So long as there aren't any further visits by Buffy Summers, the trail should cool rapidly." He considered how long it would take him to break his lease and find a safe location. "A week. I can handle the paperwork and the travel plans. You should gather whatever items you need for the next few months. I'd prefer if you didn't return to Sunnydale until this is all over. Is there someone who can send your things here?"

"Not really. I mean, they know what city I'm in, but I kind of left out some of the details. All I said was that the father is someone in L.A. who I've known for a few years. So they know I'm talking to him, but they don't know that him is you. Giles was already pretty upset, and I kind of don't think he'd have been pleased by that bit of information."

Wesley was inclined to agree with that assessment. He rather suspected Giles' reaction would have made Angel's bedside attack seem rational in comparison.

Still, he didn't want her going back home.

P.M. Marc - Sep 17, 2002 8:23:14 pm PDT #23 of 10001
So come, my friends, be not afraid/We are so lightly here/It is in love that we are made; In love we disappear

"We can pick up the essential items before we leave, then. You might as well make yourself at home for now."

He walked over to the closet, lost in thought, and took out his jacket.

"I need to get out and clear my head. I'll get you a toothbrush and some sundries on my way back. There are various microwave meals in the freezer if you get hungry."

When he locked the door behind him, he realized he was shaking.

Christ, what had he gotten himself into? He was tempted to go to the pub and drink himself stupid, but didn't want to chance Lilah tracking him down. Besides, it would take up too much of the very short amount of time he had in which to get everything sorted out.

There were records to have altered, identifications and credentials to set up. He visited the most reliable of his contacts, handed over a fairly large sum of money, and scheduled an appointment for the next day. Wesley Wyndam-Price would soon, for all practical purposes, cease to exist, leaving Terence Bardsley in his place.

The notion upset him more than he would have thought.

A quick trip to the department store provided him with a couple changes of women's maternity clothing, a package of underpants, and some toiletries. He didn't risk guessing a bra size. Buffy would just have to make do with the one she was wearing.

He picked up a bottle of gin before heading back to the apartment, rationalizing that as he wouldn't be drinking it when he had other things to do, it was a better option than pubbing. Besides, he doubted he'd be able to get to sleep without it, and he knew better than to strategize when exhausted.

She was asleep on the couch when he let himself in, her feet tucked under her, head pillowed on her hands. Sleeping, she looked far too young to be in her situation. He was shocked to remember that she was only twenty-one. She didn't merely look too young, she was too young.

Wesley opened the gin, not bothering to get a glass. He drank two-thirds of the bottle before the guilt was numbed enough for him to fall asleep watching her.

It wasn't yet light out when he woke up. He stumbled to the bathroom and vomited until there was nothing left in his stomach and the dry heaves subsided. Rinsed his mouth and washed down some aspirin with Alka-Seltzer before showering.

"Wonderful planning, Wesley," he muttered. "You'll be so bloody effective hung over, won't you?"

After getting dressed, he poured the rest of the bottle down the sink. He'd comfort himself with something later, when he had time. Even if that proved to be a point 18 years in the future.

The day went better than he'd expected. They picked up the paperwork and a few more sundries before heading back to the apartment. She napped, and he narrowed the hunt for a temporary location to three mid-sized towns not known for supernatural activity. After making some calls, he decided that Eugene, Oregon would be the best of the lot and made the necessary motel reservations.

She called Sunnydale and informed them that she wouldn't be back until after the birth. One look at her face after she hung up was enough to keep him from asking for specifics.

The forger knew someone who specialized in buying out the possessions of people who needed to leave town in a hurry. The amount he quoted Wesley for the contents of the apartment was low, but it would be enough to sustain him until he'd settled somewhere permanent. The rest of the week was spent arranging transportation, and packing the items he'd tagged to keep.

P.M. Marc - Sep 17, 2002 8:23:34 pm PDT #24 of 10001
So come, my friends, be not afraid/We are so lightly here/It is in love that we are made; In love we disappear

He and Buffy settled into an uneasy routine, eating meals in silence and watching old movies so they wouldn't have to talk. She slept on the bed, and he took the couch.

He had the uncomfortable notion that he'd miss her when she returned to Sunnydale.

  • **

The move went as smoothly as could be expected. The rental van was cramped, and the silence more awkward than it had been in the apartment, but they made good time, only spending one night in a motel.

Within the week he found them a short-term lease in a cramped house that was fairly centrally located while Buffy made arrangements with a midwife for a home birth.

She shrugged when he questioned the wisdom of that notion. "I'm healthy, in good condition, and I hate hospitals."

He couldn't really argue with her; he wasn't especially fond of them himself. He recalled the condition of Angel's car after Darla's water broke in the backseat and added the damage deposit to the list of unrecoverable expenses.

They furnished the house with two futons and a number of plastic milk crates. He took the one small bedroom and she took the living room on the logic that it was closer to the bathroom.

It came as something of a shock to realize how attached he had been to his possessions now that he'd given them up. His flat had been, while not luxurious, at least comfortable in a way that this tiny house with its cracked plaster walls and dingy berber carpets could never manage.

He tried to convince himself that the Spartan look was underrated rather than merely unpleasant. When that failed, he went over the budget he'd set up and decided that if he eliminated razorblades from the toiletries column, he could afford some houseplants and throw rugs. He had enough blades left to get him through the next few months if he simply reduced the number of times per week he shaved.

The new additions to the decor were met with a raised brow from Buffy.

"Why the greenery, Wesley?"

He flushed. "I wanted the place to feel more homey," he admitted from behind a ficus.

She stared at him, puzzled, then comprehension spread across her face. "You're kind of homesick here, aren't you?"

"Perhaps a little." He busied himself with positioning the plant. "It's rather a moot point, as I don't exactly have a home to which I'd return."

"Wesley, I'm sorry..."

"Don't be. There wasn't anything there for me anymore. I was homesick long before I left."

He didn't realize she'd come up beside him until he felt her hand patting his shoulder.

"I'll make pancakes," she said with forced brightness.

"Pancakes? Buffy, it's 8:30 at night."

"Trust me. Pancakes always help. The later the better. Why do you think IHoP has stayed open for so long?"

P.M. Marc - Sep 17, 2002 8:24:10 pm PDT #25 of 10001
So come, my friends, be not afraid/We are so lightly here/It is in love that we are made; In love we disappear

"Demon pact?"

"Pancakes available 24/7. No demonic influence necessary."

She dragged him over to the futon, sat him down in front of the makeshift coffee table, and headed to the kitchen. He got up and followed her.

"Buffy, I don't need pancakes."

She turned to him, a tiny figure with a huge stomach, brandishing a spatula.

"Yes," she insisted firmly, "you do. Now sit down, you're in my way."

She waved the spatula in the direction of the living room and he started to laugh, winding up doubled over on the linoleum.

"What's so funny?"

He looked up at her and grinned for the first time in longer than he cared to remember. "You, the spatula, pancakes, this whole situation."

Her face softened. "Go sit down, Wes. I'm still going to make you eat pancakes. By the way," she added quietly, "it's nice to see you smile."

On his way to the futon, he grinned at the ficus and fought the temptation to go and give it a pat. It was silly, really, but he felt like he owed it a debt of gratitude. He wasn't quite certain what for. Perhaps the fact that three weeks of tension had finally broken. Perhaps just for pancakes.

They did help, she was right about that. He suspected they were lacking in nutritional value, and the amount of butter and syrup she'd added to them couldn't help, but they were warm and solid and filling.


"Hmm?" She looked up from her plate.

"Thank you."

"What for? I'm the one who dragged you away from everything you knew so you can eventually end up going underground as a single dad. Hardly seems like something I should be thanked for."

"For the pancakes."

She looked a little sheepish. "Oh, those. Kind of the least I could do, considering."

"Buffy, I'm profoundly grateful, for what it's worth. You're giving up far more than I am."

"Wesley, you gave up your family, your friends, and your whole identity. I still kind of think you're getting the bad end of the bargain."

"My family was hardly a loss, I haven't really had friends for some time, and my identity was just a reminder of both those things. You're giving up your child."

"I know."

She was silent for a long moment.

"But somehow, knowing she'll be with you, it helps. I won't pretend it's easy, but it helps. She'll be with family, even if she's not with me."

He found himself swallowing. Hard. And wanting very much to change the subject.

Of course, he couldn't think of a single thing to change it to.

Perhaps he should have kept the television instead of the dartboard.

Her hand reached out and covered his, squeezing it gently. "It's okay. Really. Do you want to feel something?"

She dragged his hand to her belly and held it there until he felt a kick against his palm.

"Does it hurt?" He kept his hand pressed against the spot in case the baby moved again.

"Sometimes. It depends on what she's kicking. I think all that demon-fighting I did before I found out was a bad influence. Weird, isn't it?"

He was grinning again, and close to an exceptionally undignified fit of the giggles.