Concern - Willow's POV
I'm worried about him.
He barely speaks and when he does it's only when one of us asks him a question. It's usually just a one-word answer; sometimes just a non-committal grunt.
Not that I can blame him. He has been through so much. I think if it were me, if it had been Tara that had died, I would have just curled up into a little ball and died myself. I can't even begin to imagine what he is feeling. The pain he is in.
He hasn't cried since that night. He was sobbing uncontrollably when she died, but when the ambulance finally arrived to take her to the hospital, he just stopped. His expression became blank and the life just drained from his eyes. It hasn't returned.
The funeral last week was harsh. Maybe even worse than Joyce's. I don't know. It was a simple service. Not many guests. Anya didn't really make any friends outside the gang. A few regular customers from the shop attended. We managed to have the service in the late evening, so that Spike could go. That was the only thing that Xander asked for. Giles and I took care of the rest of the arrangements. It's something I hope I never have to do again. Having to pick the casket; put an announcement in the paper; order the flowers. I just hope I got ones that she would have liked. It's silly really. It's not as if she will ever get to see them.
Giles spoke a few words at the funeral. He had to gloss over a few details about her past, but he said some really nice things. He talked about her zeal for business and her refreshing honesty in all situations. His voice kept breaking. I could see the tears forming in his eyes as he spoke. Xander didn't show any reaction at all.
At least when Joyce died we knew that we could count on Xander to be there for us. Maybe we took him for granted. When I think about all the times he has been there to comfort one of us when we needed it...even if it was just to go on one of his donut runs. For him, it was just another way of showing he cared, and that he was thinking of us. Now he can barely acknowledge our existence.
I miss him.
We haven't left him alone since it happened. I guess all of us are afraid that he might try something drastic. None of us have mentioned it, but I know we have all had the same thought. We take turns spending the night on his couch. Even Spike has volunteered. In fact, I think he has done more nights with Xander that any of us. I know he and Anya were pretty close: they had that demon connection. I can see the worry in his eyes, just as strong as mine, whenever he looks at Xander.
We're all collected together at the Magic shop. Giles is telling us all about the current evil. I'm not sure any of us are really listening. Even Giles doesn't seem too interested in what he is saying. Everybody has become so introspective since that night. The silences between us have become so much longer.
I think we all really did take Xander for granted. When the silences got too long before, he was always there to fill them with a silly joke. When Giles droned on and on we could rely on Xander to tease him unmercifully. He made us laugh. He broke the tension. He kept us sane. Without him we are all lost. I don't think I ever realised how much support he really provided.
It's my turn to stay with Xander tonight while the rest of the gang is out fighting the good fight. I'm not sure whether to be relieved that I won't have to fight, or upset because I have to keep watching Xander with his dead eyes.
His first doctor's appointment is tomorrow. That's something else he barely acknowledges: the baby. I hope I did the right thing. It was the only thing I could think of. I'm not good in a crisis, I feel like I get all flustered and I don't know what to do. Anya just kept looking at me, pleading with her eyes for me to find a way to save the baby. If this had happened a couple of years ago I never would have managed, but I've been working hard at my magic. If nothing else, at least I can say I did some good. I just wish I could have saved Anya too.
The spell was just so much stronger than the one I did against Glory, and back then I needed Tara to help me. It wasn't just transporting the baby from Anya to Xander, it was changing Xander as well to prepare him for carrying the baby. I mean he's right; guys can't have babies, so I had to make some changes. I haven't gone into detail with him about what I did. I don't think he is ready to hear about it yet. He doesn't want to hear about anything to do with the baby. Male bodies just weren't designed for this. I have written down everything that I did for the doctor though. She should know about it even if Xander doesn't want to hear it.
Giles did a lot of research trying to find a doctor that could deal with Xander's condition. It looks like he found a good one. A Dr. Matthews, I think. He found out about her through one of his regular customers: a powerful witch called Megan. They are twin sisters. Tara and I have talked to Megan a few times. She's nice so hopefully her sister will be nice too. They are both human, but Dr. Matthews runs a clinic on the outskirts of town that handles a lot of demon cases. It's probably just as well we didn't know about it before, because Buffy probably would have wanted to storm the place and kill any demon she could find.
Giles talked to the doctor on the phone, and according to him she is quite excited about meeting Xander. She has dealt with a number of male demon pregnancies, but never a human one. She did put one condition on his visit though: no Slayer. She runs her clinic as a safe haven for anyone, human or demon, that needs medical help. She will treat you as long as you respect her, and the other patients. Make any trouble and see Megan's wrath. I did say she was powerful. I think most folks are kinda scared of her. The last thing she needs is a Slayer around to agitate all her demon patients.
Xander didn't want to go at first, in fact, he downright refused to go. I think in his eyes, if he doesn't admit that there is a baby, then it will all go away and he won't have to deal with it. If he goes to the doctor, it will be confirmed, and he will have to deal with it.
In the end we wore him down through sheer persistence. I think he gave in just to shut us all up. We all wanted to go along with him to show our support, but in the end he said he would go, if only Spike went with him. I know Xander thinks Spike will make the least fuss. He's probably right. If it were Tara or I, we would probably be asking him if there was anything he needed every five minutes. Well, sometimes I just don't know what to say to him anymore. We've been best friends since we were toddlers and I can't think of anything to say. What kind of friend am I?
I haven't heard him speak a full sentence since a few days ago. I was at the back of the shop looking through a shipment of new books that Giles had just received. Xander came up to me, his head was low and his eyes were dejected.
"Willow?" His voice was so soft I almost missed it. I looked up at him. I thought, maybe this was it. Maybe he was finally going to confide in me. Let me help him.
"Xander. How are you? Is there anything I can get you?" I had to stop myself from going further. My ramblings are not going to help him now.
"I wanted to ask you something. About the spell," he was still looking down, as if afraid to meet my eyes.
"Anything Xander, you know that," he never talked about the baby voluntarily. It looked like a good sign.
"Can you do it again?" His voice look on a hint of hope that I found heartbreaking. He looked up at me and our eyes met. He was asking me to undo the procedure. To give the baby to somebody else. I lost all my words. It's only been a week, but it feels like years, since I saw any emotion on Xander's face. How could I tell him that I couldn't do it?
"Xander, I..." I didn't get to finish. My face must have given away what I was about to tell him.
"Please Willow. I can't do this. It's too much," his eyes were so large and red, moistening with unshed tears.
"I can't Xander, I'm so sorry," I could feel the tears well up in my eyes as well.
"Why? You did it once for Anya. Why can't you do it for me. Please Willow, I'm begging you, I can't handle this," his voice was stronger now. Taking on a harder edge.
I wonder if he had any idea what he was doing to me. I had been praying all week for Xander to speak, to reveal some of what he has been thinking and feeling. I wanted to help him get better and all I was doing was making it worse.
"Oh Xander, I'm sorry I can't do it for you. It's just too dangerous." Surely he would understand.
"It would harm the baby Xander. It probably wouldn't...it wouldn't survive another transference," I hated saying the words. There has been enough death in our lives already.
"The baby would die?" He was thinking about it. It was only for a moment, but I could see the look flash across his face. He actually considered it anyway. But the look was quickly replaced by the same emotionless mask he had been wearing for days. The tears that were threatening to fall quickly receded. He didn't say another word. He slowly turned around and walked back to his seat by the table.
At least he doesn't have to go to work at the moment. Thank the Powers That Be, for small mercies. When Anya died, she left everything to Xander, including a fairly hefty bank balance she had accumulated though her investments. We all knew she was good with money. None of us guessed she was quite this good. It's not enough to live off, but it will allow Xander to stop working through the pregnancy and to provide for the baby once it is born. A construction site is no place for Xander while he's pregnant.
I've had over a week to get used to it, but saying it...it still sounds so strange. Xander is pregnant!
But now, we're just sitting here in silence. It's overpowering. He has a book lying in front of him on the table. He's not reading it. He's not even pretending, like he used to back in high school, when Giles would have us researching for hours on end.
Sometimes I wish we could go back to that time. Just Buffy, Giles, Xander and I, researching the latest evil in the school library. We didn't see it at the time, but things were so much simpler back then. We were so innocent. Before Buffy came we never carried stakes, or crosses or holy water. We had no idea what was really out there. How dangerous the world really is. Even after Buffy came, I think we still thought, deep down, that we were invincible. We were the Scooby Gang. All of demon kind should flee in terror at our might. Who knew the world actually contained evil like The Master, Adam, or Glory.
But then there would be no Tara. I don't think I could ever give up Tara. Joyce would be alive though, but I guess technically Dawn wouldn't. Then there is Jenny, and Larry, and hell, even Harmony. So much death. If only I could get rid of all the bad stuff and keep all the good.
Our lives have been so full of them recently: if only's. If only Anya hadn't gone on patrol. If only we had been a little more alert. If only we had managed to kill the demon more quickly.
I just wish...no there's no point. Wishing won't bring her back. I just have to focus on Xander now. I have to find a way to help him get through this.
Breakthrough - Spike's POV
This has to stop.
It's been a month and he's hardly opened his gob. He won't talk to anyone about what's going on in that head of his. Well, tonight I am gonna make him talk, even if I have to drag it out of him.
We've all been pussyfooting around him. None of us know what to say. We've just let him sink deeper and deeper into this pit of despair he's dug for himself. No more. I've gone along with it because the rest of them all think he just needs time. Bugger that. He needs a good kick up the arse.
If I can just get him to show some emotion, it'll be a start. Get him angry at me. Get him to cry. Get him to acknowledge that he is still alive; even if she isn't. I know he misses her. Hell, even I miss her. But she is gone now, and he has to realise that there are people out here that are still alive, and who need him.
Rupert should be with him now. We're still all taking turns at Xanderwatch. We don't think he's gonna top himself anymore. We were worried there for a while. At least I was. So much of his life was wrapped up in Anya. When Dru left me, I'd be lying if I said the idea didn't cross my mind a coupla times. Not that what I felt back then can really compare. Now I think we watch over him to see if we can see any sign of life from him. We're like parents, attentively watching over their sick child, waiting to see if they'll pull through.
Well here goes. I stub out my cigarette, and blow out the last of the smoke, before I knock on the apartment door.
"Ah Spike. Come in." Damn, he looks tired. I've never seen him look this bad. His eyes are all bloodshot with dark circles underneath. I know he thinks of Xander like a son. Maybe compensating for the shitty parents Xander was born with. I know he misses Anya too. She was invaluable to him at that shop of his. The bint was good with money, I'll give her that. He hasn't found anybody to replace her yet. I don't think he can bring himself to even look.
"Hey Watcher. Anything?" He knows what I'm asking. We all ask it whenever one us takes over for our shift.
"No change. He's been in his room all day. I don't think he's slept though." That's another thing that has us all worried. He spends so much time in that bed, but he never sleeps. No matter how bad The Watcher looks, well Xander looks ten times worse. He doesn't bathe unless we make him. He spends all his time in his pj's. He never leaves the apartment now, so I guess he doesn't see the point in getting dressed. He's lost weight, even with the baby. He doesn't eat properly. That doctor we saw put him on a proper diet, but it's useless unless he actually agrees to eat. It's just as well one of us did go with him to his appointment. I don't think he heard a damn word the Doc said. I did though and I'm gonna try to make him healthy again. He's just gotta stop being so bloody stubborn.
"You off then?"
"Yes. I'll see you tomorrow Spike. I'll be at the shop if anything...if you need me," he leaves with a final worried glance over his shoulder toward Xander's room.
I shrug off my duster and hang it up. I head to the kitchen. First off: food. I'll be damned if I'm gonna go through this, with him on an empty stomach. I'll bet whatever you like he hasn't eaten much today.
Soup. That's nutritious right? A healthy bowl of chicken soup. I think I remember that if you're sick, you have some chicken soup, so it must be good for you.
Okay I guess that's hot enough.
Right, let's go then. I can't believe I am feeling nervous. I'm a one hundred and twenty-four years old master fucking vampire, and I'm nervous about talking to the boy, of all people. What if I make it worse? Okay, I can do this.
I knock very gently on the door to announce my presence, just in case he's asleep. Fat chance.
"Hi Xander, I brought you some food." He doesn't answer me. He doesn't even look up. I didn't really expect him to. He's lying on his bed over the covers. His eyes are closed but I can tell by the rhythm of his breathing that he's awake. He's on his side, facing what I think was her side of the bed. His legs are curled up to his chest with his arms around them, hugging himself.
"Come on. It's piping hot. It'll do you good." Still no answer.
"This isn't a request you know. You are going to sit up and eat this soup. Now." That got his attention. He has been so used to all of us using quiet, soft voices around him, so afraid that we would burst this protective bubble he's placed around himself, that a forceful voice manages to break through, if only for a moment.
"Sit up." He complies without comment.
I place the tray on his lap and hand him the spoon. I sit down on a chair in the corner of the room. I watch him eat, determined to make sure he finishes every last mouthful.
A couple of times it looks like he is going to stop eating and put the tray aside, but a stony glare from me convinces him otherwise. It takes him a while, and it was probably pretty cold at the end there, but he finally finishes it all.
I take the tray away from him and go though to the kitchen to place the dishes in the sink.
When I get back to his room he is still in the same position as before: sitting up against his headboard. He's probably too dazed at my new forceful attitude to think about lying back down.
I sit back down in my chair, lean forward, rest my elbows on my knees and stare at him until I get eye contact. I need to be sure that he is really here with me when I do this.
"So how long do you think you can keep this up?" He looks confused. It's not fooling me. He knows exactly what I'm on about.
"Don't give me that look. You know what I'm talking about. I'm through with this Xander. You can't go on living like this." He looks away. I know he doesn't want to hear it, but he's damn well gonna.
"Look at me." He ignores me.
"Look at me dammit!" I get up off my chair and walk toward the bed. I reach out and gently grasp his chin in my hand. I turn his head towards me.
"Talk to me. Say anything. Tell me to bugger off, just say something." All I get is a blank stare. This is getting me nowhere. I let out a heavy sigh and sit down on the edge of the bed, my hand still holding his face.
"What do you think this will accomplish, huh? Do you think this will get her back?" His eyes turn colder at my mention of Anya. He wrenches his head away from my touch.
"Leave me alone." Three words. Three beautiful, softly spoken words. Okay, not a very encouraging sentiment, but it's a beginning.
"You know I'm not gonna do that. You are going to talk to me if I have to sit here all night." I mean it too. I can be just as stubborn as he can.
He moves to lie back down as he was, when I first came in. Not if I can help it. I grab him under his armpits and haul him back up into a sitting position facing me. His expression is one of shock and indignation. He shrugs off my hold.
"I said leave me alone!" He's mad now. Good, now we're really getting somewhere.
"Never! You hear that. I am never going to leave you alone until you talk to me, so you might as well stop protesting."
"I. Don't. Wanna. Talk," he enunciates each word separately, making sure I get the message. He folds his arms over his chest and refuses to look in my direction.
"Why? What, do you think the world is gonna end just because you open your mouth?"
"No! It's just... what's the point?" Okay, I have him on a roll here. I think he has spoken more words in the last thirty seconds than he has in a week.
"What's the point? The point is that you are still alive Xander, whether you wanna deal with it or not. People who are alive do speak from time to time. They bathe every day and eat regularly. And sometimes, you know, on special occasions, they even leave their homes and venture out into the world." Was that too much? Am I pushing him too far?
"Am I alive? It doesn't feel like it. It hasn't since she..." he still can't bring himself to say it, let alone truly admit it.
"Of course you're bloody alive!" I lift his hand and place it over his chest. "See, feel that? That's your heart pumping away, just like it always has. Nothing's changed..." Oops! Wrong thing to say. I didn't mean it like that, but his eyes just went wide and he jerks away from me.
"Nothing's changed? Everything's changed. Everything." He rises up onto his knees facing me. His expression nothing but searing rage. "You have no idea Spike. No idea at all. You don't understand the pain...the constant agony I have to live though. I am missing a part of myself and it gnaws at my insides day after day." He's building up quite a head of steam. I don't think I have ever seen a more beautiful sight.
"She was my whole world for five years. How am I supposed to go on without her here? Eating? Sleeping? Bathing? That's all just trivial compared to this. My world ended a month ago, and you say nothing's changed." He looks at me and I think I can see hate in his eyes now. I went too far. I crossed the line. Stupid! Bloody stupid.
"Pet, I..." I want to apologise. To explain myself.
"Don't Spike...just don't." He slumps back down onto the bed. He hangs his head low, I think resigned to the fact that this is all the rest of his life has to offer him.
I don't know what to do now. What do I say to make this better? I came here to try help and I just screwed it up. I turn around to face the wall. I'm still sitting on the edge of his bed but my back is to him. Maybe I should just go. I could phone Red or the Slayer to come and take over from me. It'd probably be best. I move to get up but I hear his soft voice behind me.
"I miss her Spike. I miss her so much it hurts."
"I know mate. I know. I miss her too."
"How could she do it, Spike?"
"How could she do what?"
"How could she leave me? She said she would never leave me. This was supposed to be forever. Five years isn't forever. She left me all alone to raise the baby."
I turn around again to look at him. I still see the anger in his face and I could hear it in his voice, but it wasn't directed at me any longer. It was directed at her.
"She didn't even try. She just gave up. She was the strongest person I knew. The bravest person. She never said, but I know that becoming a human again terrified her. She was so scared, but she managed. She survived that. Why couldn't she survive this?" I don't have the answers. I don't think he's really asking me. This is just a month's-worth of repressed emotion finally bubbling to the surface.
"She never even told me about the baby. I had a right to know. It's my baby too. She should have told me. I would have made her stay home. She would have been safe. I could have protected her." I climb up further onto the bed. I'm sitting on my heels right in front of him.
"Now I'm alone and I don't know what to do anymore. Spike, I'm so scared," I can see the tears starting to run down his face now. He looks exhausted. All this emotion wearing him down. I'm still not saying anything. I'm just letting him get it all out of his system.
"I don't know how to be a father. It's not as if I can look to mine as a good example. Oh God, what if I end up just like him? I don't wanna be that kind of dad." He looks terrified as that thought hits him.
"Then don't be. It's that simple. You're not like him, Xander and you never will be." He seems to take me at my word. It's true though. He could never be like that bastard. I don't think Xander has a mean bone in his body.
"Anya would know what to do. She could have handled this. I don't think I can. This baby is all I have left of her. I'm so scared that I'm gonna lose it too." He's thrown me for a loop there. We all thought that he didn't want the baby. He's never talked about it and now he's scared of losing it?
"Willow said the spell was dangerous and if we tried it again the baby would die. What if it dies anyway, Spike? What if I do something wrong and I kill the only thing I have left of Anya?" He is barely managing to get the words out, he is sobbing so hard. His body is shaking. I reach out to him and his body crumples into my arms. I hug him tightly and gently rock us back and forth in an effort to soothe him. He grabs onto my tee shirt and holds on for dear life. I place my hand on his hair and softly stroke it.
"Sshhhh. It's okay. Everything is gonna be fine, you'll see," I carry on like that. Whispering calming words to him over and over until his shaking stops, and his sobbing is reduced to light sniffles. I move him away from me slightly so that I can see his face. He looks up at me, his eyes are red and swollen from the crying. He looks so lost.
"Nothing's gonna happen to you or the baby, Xander. I'll make sure of it. I promise." I kiss him softly on the forehead as a comforting gesture. I think I see the edges of his mouth curl up in a slight smile, but it's only for a moment, and then it is gone. He lays his head back on my chest and closes his eyes. He needs to sleep. He hasn't slept properly in a month and tonight has just depleted any energy he had left.
I lay him back down onto the bed and try to move away. He won't let me go. He just hangs on tighter to the hold he has on my tee shirt. He opens his eyes and looks at me, pleading not to be left alone. I smile softly and lie down next to him. I wrap my arms around him and he moves closer until our foreheads are touching. I hear him softly whisper.
"Thank you Spike."
"Get some sleep."
He closes his eyes again and I watch as he slowly drifts off into the first full night's sleep he has had since Anya died. I hold him like that for the rest of the night.