(spoilers through Listening to Fear)
"I can't stay long."
"I understand, Buffy."
"I just wanted to see you today, but I couldn't get away sooner."
"Buffy, I understand. Your mother comes first. As she should under these circumstances. Please don't feel you need to apologize for wanting to be with your family."
"Well, but you're my family, too."
"Yes, that may be, but your mother and Dawn need you right now."
"And I need you."
"You have me, Buffy. Even if it's for the few minutes you can get away before and after doing your patrol I'm here. But Dawn, especially, Buffy. She doesn't know what she really is."
"I don't even know what she really is."
"Well said and good point, but you know what I mean. You need to be there for both of them. And you know I'll do what I can. Be at the hospital while you have to be at class."
"Giles, I can't go to class."
"Buffy, you have to. Your mother wouldn't want you to quit with only two weeks left of the quarter. I'll sit with her, Willow and I will help you study."
"I know, you're right."
"Sit, Buffy. I'll make you some tea."
"I don't have time, Giles. I'm already late for my patrol."
"Buffy, stressing yourself isn't going to help anybody, particularly you and our child."
She pressed her hands to her temples and rubbed. "I know, you're right. I told her, Giles. I had to."
"Well, I've been telling you to for months."
"I know, and I've chickened out every time. I had to, though, in case something goes wrong. I needed to know she knows."
"Buffy, nothing is going to go wrong. She has the best doctors."
"I know, but it's brain surgery, Giles. It's not like fixing a spleen or something. They're cutting into her head."
He set a cup filled with tea on the table. She sat automatically and started to drink it. "Thanks."
"You're welcome. Did you show her the photo?"
"Yeah, I did. She said it was beautiful, I can't see much more than a blob. Are you disappointed?"
"Disappointed? What could I possibly be disappointed by?"
"That it's a girl."
"Not in the least. Hopefully, she'll look like you and inherit my thirst for knowledge."
"Is that your way of saying you don't want her to inherit my brain?"
"Well, no, I wouldn't put it quite like that."
"Could she be a slayer one day?"
"I don't know. I'd have to research that, but I don't know of anyone who's inherited it through bloodlines."
"Will she be normal?"
"Buffy, I don't know. I could see if I can track down the son of Nikki."
"No, no, I'm just rambling I guess, getting my mind off my mother."
"Was she upset?"
"No, oddly. I think she's suspected something for a while. About us anyway. She knows I've been spending more time here than I used to and well, she said she noticed over the summer I didn't use. Well, that I didn't get my period."
"Oh yes, I imagine that would become obvious, wouldn't it."
"I'm not sure Dawn knows. Mom and I didn't talk about telling her."
"She's an intuitive girl, though."
"Yeah, she is. She's not so bad for a little sister. I just wish I knew I could protect her. Stop Glory from getting her."
"We'll do the best we can, that's all we can do. All of us. Nothing's stopped you yet, I doubt that will change."
"I know. Giles. I'm so glad she's not disappointed in me."
"My mom. Keep up with the subject."
"Well, perhaps the possibility of a granddaughter will give her something to aid in her recovery. Frame of mind is important, too. And I'm sure she's happy to know if something should happen to her that you'll be cared for."
"You're offering to take care of me?"
"I've been offering for a few months."
"You know I would, Buffy, if it came to that. We can't send her to your father, she'd be vulnerable there. And it would look suspicious that she was sent to your father's while you stayed here."
"I thought of that. My first instinct when I found out what she was, who she was, was to send her to my dad's. I figured that'd just draw attention to her."
"She wants to talk to you."
"I imagined that would come, yes."
"She didn't come right out and say so, but I could tell."
"It's natural. Perhaps you could take Dawn to the mall or something tomorrow afternoon and I'll pay her a visit."
"That would work. I almost wish I'd told her sooner. Then again if it's being sick that made her react so well earlier wouldn't have done any good."
"You can second guess yourself all over the place. Just as we could about our own lack of forethought. There's just no sense in it, though. Keep looking forward."
"Are you feeling better?"
"Yeah, I am."
He placed a hand on her abdomen, which was becoming obviously round now. "And our daughter?"
"Seems fine, too."
"Good. You don't want to stress her out any more than you have to."
"I never pictured myself a parent. I didn't think I'd live long enough."
"Bite your tongue."
"Well, it's true."
"I don't like to think about it."
"I don't much either. You'll, I mean if something happens to me."
"Please don't, Buffy, not right now with your mother's health hanging in the balance."
"I don't suppose you've gotten any word from the Council."
"No, I've inquired of course. They'll get back to us at their convenience, which may or may not coincide with our time table."
"Yes. We'll find out about her, Buffy."
"I hope so because I can't focus my attention on Dawn when my mother is sick, too."
"I wish you'd rethink telling the others. Telling them would ensure Dawn is better protected when you can't be around her."
"And would also give Glory more people to try and hurt to get the information out of. I won't put them at risk."
"I think the fewer that know the better. You and me, we're the only ones that need to know."
She stood from the table.
"I'll get that," he said when she reached for the teacup and saucer. "I do understand you need to go home, Buffy."
"I should patrol."
"Go home, Buffy. There isn't anything happening that can't wait until tomorrow. Go. You need to spend time with your mother and Dawn. I'll go by after lunch tomorrow."
"Yeah, I'll take Dawn to the mall. Thanks."
She kissed him lightly and headed for the door. "I wish you could come with me."
"I do as well, Buffy. You have no idea how I wish I could be there for you every step of the way. You'll just have to settle for my presence when you're awake. That's the best we can do for now. We'll deal with next week when it comes. If you need me with you at your home nothing could keep me away."
"I know. Thanks."
"Get some rest, Buffy. You're going to need it, probably more than your mother over the coming weeks."
She wasn't surprised when she got home to find Willow there. She wasn't sure if she'd come on her own or if Giles had called her. Either way, Buffy was relieved, selfishly, to see Willow was alone.
"Is Dawn boring you?"
"No, I've learned more about the Backstreet Boys than I ever cared to know, but that's okay. How are you?"
"I'm good. Come on up."
"Way to be subtle, Buffy."
"If you don't want to talk in front of me, you can just tell me to leave."
"Dawn, you're watching TV. Stay down here."
"No patrolling tonight?"
"No, Giles sent me home. Said I could take the night off."
"It's sweet how you go to him."
"It still feels weird sometimes. A few years ago I did everything I could not to tell him stuff. Now I tell him everything."
"Well, that's the way it happens sometimes. So are you going to tell me what's up? Besides your mom's surgery I mean?"
"Dawn said you and your mom had a behind closed doors talk earlier."
"Dawn would tell you that."
"She said she tried to listen but you must not have been arguing because she couldn't hear anything."
Buffy smiled at that. It was such a little sister thing to do. "No, no arguing. I just had something to tell her that couldn't wait. I put it off long enough."
"She knows about Giles then, huh?"
"Yes, but there's more."
Buffy picked up Mr. Gordo and hugged him to her. She smiled at the memory of finding Angel holding him in her room when she'd come in from patrol one night.
"I'm pregnant, Will."
"What? When? How? I mean, okay, I know how."
"I'm like twenty-four weeks, so March sometime is when I'm due. I have a picture."
"Yeah, we had an ultrasound done Wednesday. Do you want to see?"
"You know I do. Buffy, I can't believe it. You've known for months."
"And didn't tell me?"
"I couldn't tell you before I'd told my mom. I wanted to, but I realized that wasn't fair to her. And it was only this surgery coming up next week that made me tell her now. If something goes wrong, I needed to have told her."
"Of course, I understand." Buffy slid the ultrasound picture out from the page of the book she'd stashed it in. Dawn wouldn't think to look in the pages of books for anything.
"That's the head," she said, pointing to the head on the X-ray like picture.
"Oh right, and there's the body. That's an arm. Oh, Buffy, it's a little Buffy or Giles."
"It's a Buffy."
"Buffy, I can't believe you went this long without telling me."
"No, I just would have been bursting to tell someone. Are you okay? Are you going to get married?"
"I'm fine. The doctor says I'm healthy and progressing nicely. And, Giles has asked me to move in with him."
She frowned at that. "Are you going to?"
"Well, I thought about it after the quarter is over. I'm going next quarter. Giles doesn't want me to, but I don't want to miss any more than I have to. And I'm due right around finals week, so it should work."
"I've seen a couple of pregnant students."
"Yeah, me, too. Thank you."
"But Will, now that my mom's going through this, I think I should move back here."
"Oh, yeah, I see your point. I don't suppose your mom would let him stay here."
"I don't think so. And, it probably won't be for very long, just until she recovers from the surgery and stuff."
"Right. How long can that take?"
"That's what I said. So, I figure Giles and I can set stuff up for the baby at his place and as soon as I know Mom and Dawn are safe and okay I can move in there."
"Wow. Moving in. That's a huge step, Buffy."
"I know. I think having a baby is huger, though."
"Well, right. I just meant. Who'd have thought all three of us would be in relationships."
"Oh, yeah, I guess we aren't so doomed after all."
"Dawn doesn't know?"
"No, I haven't told her yet."
"Can I see?"
"I want to feel."
"Oh," Buffy stood and tugged her shirt up. "I'm used to it by now. Giles does it all the time."
"That's so sweet." Willow placed her hand against her stomach. "You're hardly showing. I mean, I guess I noticed you've changed but for being as far along as you are I wouldn't have known."
"A girl, huh?"
"A little Buffy. I get to like plan a shower and stuff, don't I?"
"Uh, I hadn't thought of that."
"Well, that's what best friends do. I'll get your mom to help, too, that might help her feel better."
"Giles said something similar."
"We'll keep her busy and excited, Buffy. What did he say when you told him?"
"Oh, well, um, you remember that fight we had over the summer?"
"Yeah. He didn't get mad?"
"Well, no, not exactly. He just," Buffy shrugged. "He was surprised."
"I'll bet, but you were, too."
"Right, but it was so soon after what happened with Riley. He was feeling unsure of things I guess."
"Oh. Ohhh, like maybe you'd rather be with Riley than him?"
"Something like that."
"Well, I can see where he'd think that. But I don't know that you'd be happy with someone our age. I mean, sure Angel looked like he was a few years older than us but he wasn't."
"Well, he's fine now, over it. He even helped Riley when he was having problems earlier. So," she shrugged. "We're good. I just wish I knew if he really wants me to live with him or if it's just because of the baby."
"Does it matter?"
"Well, yeah, I guess it's better than getting married for the baby, but not much better. I want him to want me."
"Oh, Buffy, he does. I mean, it's so obvious. The way he looks at you. It's sweet, really. I remember how he was with Miss Calendar and how he looks at you is so different. It's like you're it to him."
"You think so?"
"I know so. Tara and I have talked about it. You have this energy about you, the two of you, you mix well. And this one does, too. She's strong."
"You can feel that?"
"I can sense it, yeah. It's hard to explain, but she's strong."
"I asked Giles if she'd be normal, but he didn't know."
"I don't mean that type of strong. I just mean she'll be a fighter."
"I suppose we should go back downstairs before Dawn thinks we've abandoned her. Are you spending the night?"
"If you want me to. I told Tara I wasn't sure. My mom won't bother her or anything so she's fine."
"If you're sure."
"Buffy, you guys need me right now. I'm not going anywhere. Tara understands that."
"Okay. Thanks, Will."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com