'Awwww...' Charley said. 'Whosa good boy? You are, yes you are, you're a good boy...'
'Careful. We don't know what he's capable of.'
Stacy blinked. 'Anji... he's a baby.'
Anji had positioned herself as far away from the baby boy as humanly possible.'Trust me, Stacy. They're the worst.'
'He does not /look/ different from a human child.' Ssard rumbled. 'But then, I have heard it said that all human babies are supposed to look the same.'
'Coochy coochy coo.' Charley told the baby.
The baby gurgled in response.
'Aww... Who'd wanna hurt a sweet little thing like this?'
'A crazed vampire hunter who wants revenge on Daddy and Daddy's friends.' Izzy said.
'Daddy killed the vampire hunter's family.'
'Oh.' Charley quietly handed the baby over to Izzy.
The baby looked up into Izzy's scaled face, and gurgled again.
'Hey, anybody seen a kitten around here?'
Izzy blinked. 'Um... no. Why?'
'Oh, no reason. Just looking after it for a friend... Here, kitty, kitty, kitty. Uncle Fitzie needs to pay Uncle Spikey-wikey...'
'/What/ did he just say?' Fey said.
'Trust me, Fey. You do not wanna know.'
Fey raised an eyebrow.
'We babysitting again?' Fitz asked.
'Yep. For Angel Investigations.'
'Oh, okay. Here, puss, puss, puss...'
'We're never going to have a normal year, are we?' Sam remarked. 'Start it off watching the TARDIS fuse back together, end up looking after a vampire's baby.'
Fitz froze mid-search. 'Did you just say /vampire/?'
'Angel's.' Sam clarified. 'Which makes him Spike's uncle.'
Fitz paused. 'Fair enough.'
The others stared at him.
'Hey, if Buffy can come back from the dead, Angel can have a baby.' Fitz said. 'No skin off my nose.'
'Fair point.' Sam agreed. 'Compared to kitten poker, it's not /that/ odd... what am I /saying/?!'
Compassion's eyes narrowed. 'Fitz, you've been gambling with Spike again.'
'And lost again.'
Sam raised an eyebrow. 'Lost?'
Sam facefaulted. 'Fitz... you're not James Bond. You're never going to /be/ James Bond.'
'Yeah, but I can still whip him at Magic.' Fitz said. 'Trust me. After playing with an ex-vengeance demon, you /learn/ as fast as you bloody can.'
'You still lost the poker game,' Compassion pointed out.
'Ah-heh...' Fitz managed to look sheepish. 'Sort of a little misjudgment...'
'You're going to pay him with a /kitten/?' Charley squeaked. 'Fitz, you can't do that!'
'Legitimate form of payment in his Inside.' Fitz said.
'Why? What's a kitten worth?'
'One Galactic Credit.'
'Oh, very funny.' Anji said. 'Why not /give/ him a Galactic Credit?'
'What's he gonna spend it on?' Fitz asked reasonably. 'One kitten. Up front.'
'Sam, you talk to him.'
'He's travelling with you now. He's /your/ responsibility.'
'Here, kitty, kitty, kitty...' Charley coaxed, giving Fitz a hard look. 'We're not going to let the nasty man hurt you, are we? No, we're not...'
The small grey kitten sidled out from behind a potted plant.
'Does sweetums want a kitty?' Compassion asked the baby. 'Does he?'
The baby gurgled happily.
Izzy grinned, and pulled a photograph out of her pocket. 'Maybe this'll satisfy Spike...'
'Oh no. Oh /no/.' Fitz protested desperately. 'You said you'd /burned/ them!'
'I did.' Izzy paused. 'I lied.' she added.
'Why? What is it?' Charley asked curiously.
Izzy's grin grew wider. 'Managed to wangle Fitz into a panto earlier this year.'
Anji snapped her fingers. 'I remember that... Didn't he end up in... Oh yes.'
'Oh /no/.' Fitz said. 'No way. No sodding way.'
The girls turned to smile at him.
'You're gonna do it anyway, aren't you.' Fitz said.
The girls nodded.
Fitz covered his eyes. 'Shoot me now.'
The next poker game...
Five Galactic Credits landed on the table. As did one photograph.
Death sighed, and looked at Spike.
YOU CANNOT GAMBLE WITH PHOTOGRAPHS.
'Out of kittens, okay? 'Sides, /look/ at it.'
Tegan picked it up.
'Fitz in /drag/?! You could blackmail the poor guy for /years/ with this thing.'
Spike smirked. 'I know.'
The other players at the table took this in.
Finally, Ace picked up the cards, gave them a shuffle, and grinned.
'Ante up, anybody?'
(For those wondering, Izzy's photograph of Fitz is from Doug Killings' 'Story Time: Cinderella'.)
Copyright 2001 Imran Inayat