Title: Maternal Instinct
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.
Summary: BtVS/AtS/Atlantis. Buffy was a little jealous that this legendary demoness had managed what she couldn't. 1500 words.
Spoilers: General for all shows. Vaguely set post-"Chosen", post-"Not Fade Away" and post-SGA Season 3, no comics canon.
Notes: For Team SGA at SG_BtVS, challenge four, "Twins". Also for the TTHFFA. (Merry's name is borrowed from Jinni's excellent fic, "Grounded
Buffy cradled the infant carefully in her arms, staring down wide-eyed at the tiny fists and the scrunched little nose. He stirred a little as she ran a wondering finger over his miniature little knuckles, and raised dark lashes to blink blue eyes sleepily at her; they were the same color as the beauty lock at his left temple and the little freckles that marched like Trill-spots down the side of his face.
"He's-- he's so--" she said haltingly, then lifted her gaze to the baby's mother. "I-- wow. How is this possible?"
Illyria stared back impassively for a moment from the infirmary bed, then softened her expression a little as she gazed down at the tiny figure she held, twin to the other. "I wished to experience motherhood," she said simply. "You humans seem strangely fixated on the genetic makeup of your offspring, so it was necessary to generate them myself."
"But-- how?" Buffy asked again, still stunned. "I mean, when Spike told me about you after the big battle, he said-- well, he said you were--"
"A hollow shell," Illyria confirmed, nodding regally. "But while I may be less than I was, I am yet more than your miniscule human minds can fathom. I wished to experience motherhood, and it was so."
She was as arrogant as Buffy had been led to expect, but her tone was unexpectedly soft. Buffy glanced down at little Wesley again, and marveled over the lengths creatures of all shapes and sizes would go to for their children. She certainly had; though she usually thought of Dawnie as an annoying little sister, there was no getting around the fact that she'd been made from *Buffy*, and when the choice had come Buffy had gladly sacrificed her own life rather than allow Dawn to die. The Mayor had, as well; though she didn't much like to think of the period when Faith had turned against the Scooby Gang, she had to admit that the evil mastermind had treated her Slayer sister better than any of them had, even to making plans for Faith's future after he was gone. Adam had slaughtered *hundreds* trying to create "children" of his own.
Okay, so maybe that last analogy had been a mistake. But there was no denying that the parenting instinct had a strong effect on people—demons-- whatever. Maybe this really was as innocent a situation as she wanted to believe.
"So," she said, clearing her throat. "If this is Wesley Carson McKay, what's his sister's name?"
Illyria smiled a little, a tiny twitch at the corner of blue-frosted lips, and gazed down again. "She will be addressed as Merry, but her full name is Meredith Elizabeth McKay."
"Merry," Buffy said with a smile. It was mildly unusual, but much better than Buffy. And it wasn't like any of the other colonists' kids would have room to tease out here, what with Teylas and Mikos and Radeks for parents. "I like it. So. Um. How did you get involved with their dad, anyway? I know you were pretending to be Fred when you came here, but Angel said your disguise got stripped pretty quick when the base was under attack and you had to defend yourself. Wasn't he kind of, you know, intimidated by the whole god-King thing?"
In Buffy's experience, men were usually unsettled by women that were stronger, or even merely equal, to themselves. None of her human relationships had ever been a great success, and most of the inhuman ones had ended in memorably bad ways. She was a little jealous that this legendary demoness had managed what she couldn't.
Illyria's lips quirked again, and the icy frost over her eyes faded a little, leaving them an arresting shade of hazel-blue. "No," she said. "He wished instead to study me. I disabused him of that idea, but he refused to respect his proper place and continued to harass me on a frequent basis."
"Ahhhh," Buffy said, understanding. "You found a guy whose ego was as big as yours?" she asked, teasingly. Not a method that would work for her-- a relationship built on conflict like that could drive her insane-- but it made sense for what she'd heard of Illyria.
Illyria blinked at that and cocked her head to the side. "You surprise me, Slayer," she said, in firm tones. "To your kind, demons are anathema. And yet you journey here to congratulate me on the birth of my children?"
"More like evaluate than congratulate," Buffy said wryly, shifting the baby in her arms to a more comfortable position against her shoulder. "I wasn't going to threaten them; I've heard what you can do. It's just, the Council was a little concerned that you might be trying to breed a new army to take over Atlantis since you couldn't have Earth, but Spike said you'd promised not to get all murdery-conquery again. I said I'd come check it out, just to settle the argument; I've always wanted to see this place anyway." She glanced fondly at the walls at that comment, and the nearest blue-tinted light flared a little at her attention; the geometry of the city was a little weird, very definitely alien, but the thought-activated toilets and intelligent doors and so on more than made up for it, in her opinion.
"The half-breed made an adequate pet," Illyria said, consideringly. "I think I shall name the next one William."
"Next one?" A slightly alarmed male voice burst in, followed by an agitated man with slightly thinning hair in an Atlantis uniform. "Don't you think we should adjust to being parents first before you start planning the next one? I mean, not that they aren't amazing-- not that *you* aren't amazing--"
He trailed off as he noticed Buffy's presence, and his forehead wrinkled up suspiciously. "Wait. Who are you? And why are you holding my son?"
Buffy adjusted her grip on the tiny boy, carefully supporting his neck so she could safely hand him over. "I'm just-- an old friend of some of Illyria's former co-workers. Since I was going to be in the city anyway, I said I'd drop by and say hello."
"Yes, well." Dr. McKay's eyes were still fixed on his son; when she held Wesley out to him, he quickly took the baby into his own arms, gazing down at him with a crooked smile. "Wait." His gaze snapped back up to Buffy's face, then over to his wife. "Former co-workers? You mean, from that demonic law firm?"
"Yes," Buffy said, wincing. She respected that Angel had thought it was a good idea at the time-- now that she'd heard the full story, anyway-- but their side was never going to live that association down. "But I'm not with them," she hastened to reassure the scientist. "Or-- or any other demon group, or anything. Really. I just came by to say hello."
She turned her attention to Illyria for the next sentence, and spoke with as much conviction as she could. "It's just really good to see someone in our line of work all settled down and-- happy. I used to dream about the white picket fence and the two point five kids, but I'd pretty much given up on that ever happening. Maybe it's not as impossible as I thought it was."
"How very--" McKay paused and glanced at his wife before finishing the sentence, "--inspirational of us. I trust you've seen enough to pass on glowing reports to everyone back home?"
He was so earnest, and so intent on hurrying her out of there, that Buffy had to smile. "They're beautiful," she said, nodding. "Do you mind if I stop by again to take a few pictures before I leave?"
He puffed up a little at the compliment, glanced at Illyria again, and then nodded. "That would be fine," he said. "Just make sure you call beforehand. Now, if you don't mind, I have business with-- ah, there you are!" He called over Buffy's shoulder to a doctor who was just entering the room. "Explain to me why my wife is still in the infirmary! If we've told you people once, we've told you a thousand times..."
Buffy grinned as she backed out of the room, the admiring smirk on Illyria's face still in her mind's eye as she walked away. So maybe the former god-King did still think of humans in general as insects, but she'd clearly found one she thought worthy of her attention, and that could only be of the good. Buffy knew better than any of the old, unretired Council Watchers that attachments were what kept people in their business sane; the quick deaths of all too many Slayers before her were testament to that.
When she made her report to Giles about this, she was going to write "Mostly Harmless" all over it.
In the meantime, though, she had this whole amazing, beautiful city to explore...