Title: That Good Night (part 11 of ?)
Rating: NC-17 (barely)
Pairing: Spike/Xander, ensemble
Continuity info: This is the sixth story in the Fragments 'verse, fitting in immediately after Before the Time of Dawn.
Summary: A couple of years post-NFA, Spike is human, and it isn’t working out so well. He and Xander are currently in Sao Paulo, where Willow has just had a baby and a new vampire problem is looming.
Warnings: This story will get dark at times. Definitely angsty, h/c with lots of hurt. Character death will most definitely be threatened, and I'd rather not say what comes of it (though if you're terribly worried, ask me privately).
This update is about 3600 words; the total length now stands at about 38,200.
If you’d like email notification of updates, please let me know either in comments or by email at shadowscast at yahoo dot com.
Previous parts are [here].
The guest room faced east and Spike had left the curtains pulled back when they’d gone to bed last night. Therefore, Xander was aware of the sunrise. The room slowly took on depth and detail. The well-padded armchair by the window separated itself from the shadows. The paisley wallpaper reappeared. Birds started chirping outside the window.
This gradual return of the world to wakefulness paralleled an opposite effect in Spike. With the first light of false dawn he finally drifted into peaceful sleep in Xander’s arms.
Xander felt like he’d just closed his eye for a moment when he woke up to a *tap* *tap* *tap* at the bedroom door. The sun was just barely peeking over the horizon outside in the gap between two houses.
He wanted to shout “Go away!” but that might wake Spike up, and besides, considering everything that had happened last night, this could easily be an emergency. He pulled on a pair of boxers on his way to the door.
It was Buffy on the other side in her pajamas, with impressive bed-head and shadowed eyes. “You awake?” she asked in a whisper.
“No, I’m sleepwalking,” Xander whispered back. It was meant for a sarcastic comeback, but it came out sounding uncomfortably close to literal truth. He stepped out into the hall and shut the door behind him. “What is it?”
“Oz and Kennedy are asleep. Willow’s feeding Tara. I think this might be our only chance to talk to her today.”
“Oh.” Xander leaned against the wall and rubbed his one gritty eye. “Christ, what time is it?”
Xander groaned. “I think I only got to sleep about a half an hour ago.”
Buffy stifled a yawn. “I feel your pain. I was up half the night with Tara. Why couldn’t you sleep?”
Xander shrugged. “Too much excitement.” He didn’t think Spike would want Buffy to know about the violent nightmares that had gripped him every time he’d drifted off to sleep. He’d even tried to hide them from Xander, but Xander was the light sleeper in the relationship and he’d heard Spike getting out of bed. In the end Spike had spent most of the night wrapped up in a blanket on the easy chair, blasting his eardrums with the iPod, while Xander read through a stack of comics he’d borrowed from Oz and kept an uneasy eye on his lover.
They found Willow in her bed, lying on her side and nursing Tara with some pillows propped around her for comfort. She looked sleepy and happy, and Xander wished like hell that he and Buffy didn’t have such bitter news to break to her. “Hi, Willow.”
She looked up and smiled. “Hey, guys. Up already?”
“Yeah,” Xander said vaguely, perching on the edge of the bed. “How’s Oz?”
“All better.” Weariness and relief mingled in Willow’s tone, with an edge of triumph. “He’s never held on to the half-wolf form for so long before. It was pretty hard, but I helped him stay in the trance.” Stroking Tara’s head, she added, “Thanks so much for looking after the baby, Buffy. I don’t know what we would have done if you weren’t here.”
Buffy looked flustered. “You’re welcome. I mean, it was fun. She’s sweet.”
Willow laughed softly. “Of course she’s sweet. She’s my baby! But getting up at two in the morning to feed her my breast milk out of a cup—that’s above and beyond normal best friend duties.”
“A cup?” Xander repeated, momentarily distracted from his awful anticipation. “Wouldn’t a bottle be easier?”
Willow shook her head. “No, no, not in the first six weeks. We don’t want to give her nipple confusion.”
Xander winced. “I think I’m turning into a girl just by participating in this conversation.”
“We’ll have to check with Spike later and find out,” Willow said with an impish grin. “Hey, Buffy, wanna braid Xander’s hair? You’ll have to get it started—I’ve got my hands full.”
Xander cleared his throat. If they were going to get to the point, somebody was going to have to take the plunge. Not to mix a metaphor or anything. “Listen, Will, Buffy and I wanted to talk to you about something.”
“But it can wait,” Buffy interrupted him quickly. “Until you’ve finished feeding Tara, at least.”
Willow frowned, looking a little concerned. “This’ll take another half hour at least. Can’t you tell me now?”
Buffy still looked hesitant. “I don’t think we should talk about it in front of the baby,” she said to Xander.
“She’s three days old. It’s not like she’s going to know what we’re talking about.”
“Guys?” Willow interrupted. “You’re starting to make me nervous.”
Xander couldn’t reassure her. What they were about to tell her was probably worse than anything she was imagining. But they couldn’t let her go on not knowing—then they’d be betraying her as much as Kennedy was. “Will, I’m so sorry,” he said. “But Buffy saw something last night.”
Buffy looked like she wanted to escape the room, but she took a breath and stepped up to the bed, putting a hand over Willow’s. “Last night after the fight, Kennedy kissed Oz.”
Willow looked blank for a moment, like she couldn’t process what she’d just heard, like she couldn’t figure out what to say. Then she gave them an uncomfortable little smile and said “Is that all?”
“It wasn’t a peck on the cheek,” Buffy clarified. “It was full-on lip-lock. Will, I’m pretty sure she’s cheating on you.”
“Oh!” Willow’s eyes went wide. “No, no. Don’t worry. I mean, it’s sweet of you guys to worry and everything, but it’s really fine. They just do that sometimes. It doesn’t mean anything.”
“Did they tell you that?” Buffy’s voice broke, a little. “Because that kiss didn’t look meaningless. It was meaningful. Meaning-packed.”
“I swear, Buffy, it’s okay.” Willow was blushing now and avoiding eye contact. Xander guessed this was a hard thing to accept all at once. “It’s just, things are different in Brazil, you know? You might see things that don’t mean what you think they mean.”
There was a polite cough from the doorway and all three of them were startled. The door opened and Kennedy stood leaning against the frame. Her hair was loose and tangled and she was barefoot, still wearing her clothes from last night. She’d pulled her suspenders down so they hung loose against her thighs, hip-hop style. Her white t-shirt was smudged with bloodstains.
“Just to be clear,” she said, “Yes, I was eavesdropping, and yes, I heard everything.”
“So you heard me explaining that everything’s fine,” Willow said, giving Kennedy a weirdly intense look.
“No,” Kennedy said, “it really isn’t.”
Willow said something in Portuguese. Without understanding a word, Xander could read Willow’s tone and body language well enough to know she was wavering between defensive and angry, with an undercurrent of shame. This conversation was getting confusing, and not just from the lack of subtitles. If Kennedy was cheating on Willow, why would Willow be ashamed?
“No,” Kennedy said to whatever Willow had just told her. She went on in English, “It’s not fair to Oz. Or to anyone in this room. They’re your friends, sweetie, they’ll understand. And if they don’t, then fuck them,” she finished, with a glare in Buffy’s direction.
“I seriously don’t understand,” Buffy retorted, bristling, but Willow ignored her, addressing Kennedy in Portuguese again in a more desperate tone.
“I didn’t do it on purpose,” Kennedy said. She slumped a little lower against the doorframe. “I was scared out of my fucking mind.”
Willow didn’t reply right away, so Xander finally jumped in. “I feel like I’m listening to half of a phone call here. A really important phone call, upon which the lives of my friends possibly depend. Will? What’s going on?”
“Please, Willow,” Kennedy begged, “Let me tell them.”
Willow looked down at Tara, who’d been nursing unconcerned all this time. “Okay,” she said quietly.
Kennedy stood up straight and faced Xander and Buffy, with a hint of nervous defiance in the tilt of her chin. “Oz and I are lovers. So are Oz and Willow. All three of us together.”
There was silence for a moment. Buffy looked as stunned as Xander felt.
And then he heard himself asking “Are we talking two at a time, or all three at once?”
“Xander!” Buffy gasped, simultaneous with Kennedy’s answering smirk.
“Either/or,” Kennedy said.
Buffy had that my-world’s-coming-apart expression on her face now, usually reserved for Apocalypse Eve and the night after a breakup. Xander was feeling mostly confused. Or maybe it was dissociation from the shock. Hard to tell.
“But aren’t you both gay?” Buffy said.
Kennedy’s smirk broadened into a grin. “Well, Oz is kind of girly-looking...”
Willow said something in Portuguese; it sounded like she was scolding Kennedy.
Whatever she’d said, Kennedy stopped grinning. “For God’s sake, Willow, speak in English. How are they supposed to understand if we don’t talk about it?”
“I’m not sure I can understand,” Buffy said in a tiny voice.
“Well, it’s not actually that complicated,” Kennedy said. “Just think of two people being in love, and multiply it by one point five.”
Willow blinked. “Hey, that’s my joke!”
“And you could’ve told it yourself if you’d been willing to come out to your friends,” Kennedy said sweetly.
“Wait, are we already on to the joking?” Xander said. “I thought the joking was supposed to come during the getting-used-to-it part, which comes after the understanding-what-the-hell-is-going-on-h
“Okay, know what?” Willow said. “We’re going to talk about this at breakfast. After I’ve finished feeding Tara, and when all of us have had at least one cup of coffee. Okay?” It wasn’t a question; this was Willow taking charge, and even Kennedy with all her brash attitude seemed to get a little smaller and meeker in response. There was nothing else to say but “Okay.”
Xander didn’t really want to wake Spike up, but they had the doctor’s appointment later in the morning. Kennedy had said, while shooing them back to their own bedrooms, that if Oz wasn’t feeling up to it she’d take Spike herself. The important thing was that there be someone there to translate, since the doctor didn’t speak much English.
He waited for Spike to get dressed before he said “There’s something you should know before breakfast.”
Spike looked over at him. Xander was sitting in the armchair, fiddling with the playlist on the iPod without actually listening to the music; the earbuds were dangling loose. “That sounded ominous,” Spike observed. “What’s up?”
Xander wondered whether it was his body language or his tone that gave it away. “Buffy saw Kennedy kissing Oz yesterday. We went to tell Willow about it this morning, and Kennedy heard us.”
Spike raised an eyebrow. “And ripped into you? You bloody well deserve it. Wasn’t any of your soddin’ business, was it?”
And this, see, this was why Xander hadn’t told Spike last night. “She told us that she and Oz and Willow are lovers,” he said. “All three of them.”
“Well, yeah,” Spike said.
“Wait.” Xander set the iPod down without looking away from Spike. “You knew?”
“Not in the sense of anybody told me, no,” Spike replied, sitting down on the edge of the bed. “But it’s been obvious since we got here that all three of them love each other. Whether they’re all shagging besides, that’s between the three of them. Besides, Red was shagging dog-boy years ago,” he reminded Xander, as though it could have slipped his mind.
“Don’t you find it weird, though, the three of them being ... together like that?”
“No. Not like they’re the first people in the world to make that sort of arrangement. Hell, Dru and Darla and Angelus and I—“ He stopped short with a shit, I didn’t mean to say that look on his face.
“You and Dru and Darla and Angelus what?” Xander asked slowly.
“Well, there wasn’t a lot to do during the day back then. And we were fucking vampires, so we didn’t exactly give a shit for social conventions.”
“So let me get this straight,” Xander said, even though his inner voice of reasonable caution was shouting at him to let it go. But what the hell, he’d been ignoring that voice since he was sixteen years old. “You and Drusilla?”
Spike rolled his eyes. “Obviously.”
“Angelus and Darla.”
“Angelus and Drusilla?”
“Much to my irritation, yes.”
“You and Darla?”
“When she felt like it.”
“Darla and Drusilla?”
“Yes,” Spike said with a smirk, “and you can’t imagine how fucking hot that was.”
Xander sort of could, but the idea gave him shivers down his spine. The bad kind. And there was only one question left to ask, and he guessed maybe Spike had been trying to derail him with the Darla/Drusilla thought picture, but this was a question that had been eating at him for too long to let it go now. “You and Angel?”
“It was a hundred years ago, pet,” Spike said quietly.
“I want to know.”
Spike sighed. “Yes. Me and Angelus.”
“Okay.” Xander’s voice sounded calm and distant in his own ears. “I just wanted to know.” You already knew, his inner voice reminded him. They pretty much told you last week in Sunnydale.
Spike’s eyes were on him, wary. “So now you do. And just to be clear, we’re not going to talk about this again.”
Like hell, Xander was going to say, but there was a knock at the door. “Breakfast’s ready!” Kennedy called out.
“Pass me the juice there, Slayer?”
“Spike,” Willow said with a dark look, putting her hand on the pitcher of pineapple juice which Kennedy was about to hand to Spike, “What did I just finish saying?”
Spike raised an eyebrow at her. “You have bloody well got to be kidding.”
Willow brandished the polished, gnarled ebony wand she’d brought to the table. “The talking stick won’t work if we don’t all respect the rules.”
Xander, meanwhile, was feeling a bit uncomfortable watching her waving the thing around. “Hey, Will, that’s not, like, a magic wand, is it?”
“Huh?” she said, glancing down. “Oh, no, it’s just some folk art from the market.”
“Maybe we can just do without the talking stick, sweetie?” Kennedy said, making a grab for the wand.
“No.” Willow cradled it protectively against her chest. “Do you want this conversation to descend into chaos?”
“How about we just talk one at a time like normal people—“ Kennedy started at the same time that Xander said “Can we talk about this whole threesome thing now?” while Spike simultaneously interrupted with “Will somebody pass me the fucking juice?”
Willow glared at them all, simultaneously vindicated and irritated. “See?”
Oz raised his hand. When everyone turned to look at him, he turned his palm up and gestured for the stick.
“Oh!” Willow said. “Right. Um, here.”
“Thanks,” Oz said mildly, taking the stick. “Kennedy, the juice?”
Kennedy rolled her eyes, but looked like she was holding back a snicker as she finally picked up the juice pitcher and handed it down the table to Spike.
Considering the state he’d been in last night, Oz was looking pretty good this morning. His hair was wet from a shower and he was wearing clean clothes—which put him ahead of Kennedy, anyway—and he didn’t look like he was in any pain. “Who wants coffee?” he asked.
The wanting of coffee was unanimous by a show of hands. Oz got up to get the pot, taking the stick with him. Xander wondered who was going to crack first and speak while stickless. His money was on Spike, but Kennedy was a pretty good candidate too. She was eyeing Willow and nibbling on a piece of toast as if she needed to keep her mouth occupied.
Oz came back with the coffee and when he poured a cup for Buffy, she tapped him on the arm and made a stick, please gesture. With the talking stick in hand, she said “Okay, I really want to understand what’s going on here. Could somebody maybe start from the beginning?”
Willow reached for the stick that Buffy offered, but Kennedy got to it first. “My turn,” she said. “Your rules, sweetie,” she reminded Willow, and kissed her on the forehead. “Okay, the beginning—you know that Oz went back to Sunnydale for a little while just after Willow and Tara got together, right?”
“Well, yeah, I was there,” Xander said.
“You just talked without the talking stick, luv,” Spike pointed out. “I’m gonna have to confiscate your bacon.” He snagged the crispiest piece off Xander’s plate.
“Hey! You just talked without the stick!” Xander shot back, putting a protective hand over his plate.
“I bet this stick would hurt if I hit you with it,” Kennedy said sweetly to the two of them. Xander was pretty sure she didn’t really mean it, but with Willow and Buffy both glaring at him he settled down fast.
“Okay, so the thing was, they still had feelings for each other, but Willow chose Tara. So Oz left.” Kennedy took a sip of coffee. “Fast forward a few years. Willow and I moved into this place so that we could coordinate the South American branch of Operation: Find All The New Slayers Before They Break Anything. Meanwhile, Oz was already living in Sao Paulo. One day he and Willow just ran into each other on the street, totally out of nowhere.”
“Wow,” Buffy said.
“Willow and I had already been talking about having a baby,” Kennedy went on. “So when Oz showed up, we talked about asking him to be the sperm donor.”
“This might be more detail than we actually need,” Xander suggested.
Kennedy rolled her eyes. “Sorry, I assumed you knew where babies come from. And by the way, I still have the stick. Anyway ... one thing kind of led to another.”
Willow touched the end of the stick, making contact without taking it away from Kennedy. “We realized, hey, we’re making a family together. We are a family together.”
“Well, and also there was sex,” Kennedy added, which got a smile from Oz.
“And that’s it?” Buffy said.
“Pretty much, yeah,” Kennedy said.
Buffy still looked troubled. “Weren’t you worried about ... I mean, it’s not exactly normal.”
“We’re a vampire slayer, a witch and a werewolf,” Kennedy pointed out. “We left normal behind so long ago I don’t even remember what it looks like.”
“Well, I think it’s a beautiful story,” Spike said with a wave of his fork. “I love a happy ending.” Even though he sounded all flippant, Xander could tell he meant it. Xander wasn’t so sure how he felt about the whole thing himself. It was going to take some getting used to.
“Um, hey, the stick?” Willow said. “Have we all forgotten about the stick?”
Kennedy gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Let it go, sweetie,” she murmured.
Willow put the ebony wand down on the table with a resigned shrug. “I still say it was a good idea. Keeping things under control.”
“I’m just glad we can stop tip-toeing around.” Kennedy sat back in her chair and took another drink of coffee. “That was getting old.”
Willow turned to Xander with a help me change the subject! glint in her eyes. “Well, hey, enough about us! How are you two doing?”
“Um, fine,” Xander said. “The guest bedroom’s great. It’s pretty cool that you have a guest bedroom. Very ... grown-up.”
“We also have a baby,” Oz reminded him.
“How are you feeling today, Spike?” Willow asked. “You look better.”
Spike shrugged. “Should do, after sleeping for a whole sodding day.”
“Oz, are you up to taking Spike to the doctor?” Kennedy asked. “If you’re not, I can do it.”
“I feel pretty good,” Oz said. “Should be all right.”
“Okay, then how about you drop me off at the free clinic on the way?” Kennedy said. “I wanna see if Gabriel’s awake.”
“I’ll come too,” Buffy said quickly, and Xander remembered her worries last night about what Kennedy might do to the boy.
“That’ll make five in the car,” Xander pointed out. “Is that okay?”
“Oz, Kennedy, Buffy, me,” Spike counted on his fingers. “Makes four, pet.”
“And me,” Xander said, forcing calm. They weren’t going to have this particular fight in front of everyone, were they?
“There’s no point in you coming just to wait in reception,” Spike said.
“Right, except I’m not waiting in fucking reception. I want to meet the doctor.”
Spike shrugged. “There’s no need.”
Xander was losing his cool, which was not a good thing, and he knew that the response on the tip of his tongue would only make things worse. I need to go with you because I don’t trust you to tell me whatever the doctor tells you.
Then he felt Willow’s hand on his arm. “I’d be more comfortable if someone stayed with me and Tara,” she said. “I’m pretty wiped from last night, on top of childbirth and everything. I might need some help lifting her and changing her.”
She was trying to help, Xander could tell. And she had a point, too.
“Okay,” he said, with a feeling like he’d just lost a round of something. “I’ll stay with you.”