Panic - Willow's POV
Why didn't he tell us?
For three weeks he suffered in silence as an intense pain rippled through his body. The kind of pain that brings tears to your eyes, and steals your breath until you think you will be torn apart. He never said anything and none of us saw. I thought we'd got him past this 'deny it and it might all go away' phase. I guess not.
I dread to think what might have happened if we hadn't all been there when he first collapsed. It took Xander falling unconscious for him to admit what he'd been going through.
We were all together here at Xander's apartment for one of our regular movie marathons. Xander had decided on a National Lampoon theme for the nights entertainment. We figured it would be easier on Xander if we always had them here, that way he wouldn't have to leave the apartment if he was feeling uncomfortable. He and Spike had been in the kitchen making drinks and popcorn for the gang. Spike was carrying the tray of drinks into the living room and Xander was right in front of him carrying the bowl of popcorn.
It all happened so fast, one minute we were all laughing and joking (I don't even remember what about now) the next minute Xander's face drained of color, he dropped the bowl, popcorn scattering everywhere and he collapsed forward. I heard the clatter and splash of half a dozen drinks being dropped and the next thing I see Spike is cradling Xander's unconscious body to him. The only thing that stopped Xander from harming himself from the fall, was Spike and his vampire reflexes.
We called Dr. Matthews and she came to the apartment immediately. I guess demon doctors are a little better about making house calls than the normal kind (though it doesn't hurt that she's taken a shine to Xander, either). His condition really seems to bring out the protector in everyone.
Once Xander regained consciousness, Spike carried him to the bedroom and Dr. Matthews shooed us all away so that she could examine him.
She must have been in with Xander for almost an hour before she came out to speak to the rest of us. Spike practically pounced on her, demanding details the moment she emerged from the bedroom. She managed to find out from Xander that he had been in pain for the past three weeks, especially anytime the baby moved. She seems to think the reason for this is because Xander's body is just not big enough to accommodate the bulk that he is now carrying. When performing the original spell, I had to create an artificial womb inside him that would hold the baby and supply it with all the nutrients it would need from Xander's body. But the baby has grown so much, it's putting too much pressure on Xander and now that the baby is moving about it's just aggravating the situation and turning the pressure into pain.
Spike wasn't happy with that explanation. He didn't like that this was all basically a guess on the doctor's part, an educated one, but a guess just the same. She tried to explain that this is completely new territory, and that she has no idea what kind of effects a baby can have on the male body so she prescribed complete bed rest for him, starting immediately, for the remainder of the pregnancy. That's the only thing she really could do. She is afraid to prescribe anything beyond the most mild of painkillers for fear of the effects. The only thing that would help Xander is to get the baby out, but it's too soon for that.
That was five weeks ago and I think Xander is having a severe case of cabin fever. He has to spend all his time in bed; Spike only ever lets him get up to go to the bathroom. Before this happened he spent most of his time at home anyway, but now that he doesn't have a choice, he hates it.
We all come round as often as we can to keep him company. That's what we're here doing just now. Xander is sleeping at the moment though. Spike is sitting in his usual position by Xander's bedside just watching over him and Tara and Dawn are playing a quiet game of cards at the foot of the bed.
Dawn comes here everyday after school and spends a fair chunk of her weekend here as well. Ever since Xander and Spike announced that they were a couple, she loves to spend as much free time as she has, and that they will let her, over here.
I just think that she's really proud of herself that she was the first to see it. They made the announcement to the rest of us when we were all together at the Magic Box. They said it so matter of factly, no hiding, no embarrassment, just "Xander and I are together now, if you have a problem with that, deal with it." With Xander adding, indicating with his head and grinning like a Cheshire cat "Yeah. What he said." That was it.
We all sat in stunned silence for about three seconds when a huge grin spread across Dawn's face. She jumped up, pointed at the two of them and started shouting "Ha! I knew it! I just knew something was going on. I knew it!" The guys just grinned back at her and clasped their hands together. It took me about another ten seconds to get my bearings before I went over to them and enveloped them in as big a hug as I could muster. Tara joined me. Between the four of us and Xander's considerably large middle it was rather uncomfortable, but I didn't want to let go. I was just so...am still so happy for them. I've known Xander for as long as I can remember and could see that he was genuinely happy. I hadn't seen him smile like that, a real smile that showed up in his eyes and his whole body language since Anya died. That was all I needed to know.
Buffy's reaction was quite a surprise. After Tara managed to coax me out of the hug, Buffy walked upto Xander and just asked "Are you happy?" Xander smiled and nodded his head. Buffy nodded back and said "Okay then," and gave Xander another large hug. She managed to restrain herself a little more than me and let go before breathing became an issue and turned to Spike. She didn't say anything she just stared at him menacingly for about thirty seconds before leaning in and giving him a light kiss on the cheek. After that she just went out on patrol for the evening without saying another word. I know she doesn't entirely approve, she knows from first-hand experience how hard a human/vampire relationship can be, but for Xander's sake she is tolerating the situation and I'm kinda proud of her for it.
She has been just as supportive as the rest of us when it comes to helping Xander though this. She visits just as often and she's been trying to get along with Spike. They even managed to play a whole game of checkers between them yesterday without it dissolving into their usual pattern of insults and name-calling. We were all very impressed.
Dr. Matthews comes by every couple of days to check up on Xander too, since he can't go to the clinic. We had a very um...interesting conversation last week. She wanted to go over birthing options with Xander for when he reaches full term. I excused myself from the conversation thinking this would be more of a private thing for Xander, but he asked me to stay. He said that he would value my opinion. I love that he said that, it made me feel like he still needed me.
Anyway, Dr. Matthews said that she had three options that she wanted to present to Xander, and he could choose which one he preferred. She didn't get very far with the first option. Let's just say she mentioned the words attach, rectum and push and Xander went a little pale and just said "Next!" I can't say I blame him.
The second option was magic, since after all that was how he became pregnant in the first place. It wasn't an option he was very keen on either. I think he still remembers the conversation that we had a few months ago when he begged me to transfer the baby to someone else. It would have been fatal for the baby back then, but at full term the baby would be strong enough to survive it. The doctor explained that, but he still refused. I know Xander doesn't really trust magic very much, he's seen so much of it go wrong, mainly at my hand, to trust it with the baby's life.
That just left the third option: good old-fashioned surgery. Having a c-section will mean a longer recovery time for Xander, but he wasn't really worried about himself, so that was the option he decided on. Dr. Matthews' clinic has a surgery in it, so the procedure can be safely done there, instead of anybody asking too many questions at the hospital. Somehow I think even in Sunnydale a pregnant man giving birth may draw some attention.
I look at him sleeping now and he doesn't look well. He keeps getting bigger round the middle, but I think he's lost weight everywhere else. His face looks a little sallow and gaunt. He's almost always tired too. I think he sleeps at least twelve hours a day at the moment. It's probably good for him to get as much rest as he can, especially now that he only has a few weeks left in the pregnancy, but I still worry.
I see movement out of the corner of my eyes and it brings me out of my thoughts. I watch as Spike gets up from his seat beside the bed and leans over Xander to give him a soft kiss on the forehead. Xander doesn't stir. Spike stares down at him for a moment and then leaves the room without a word.
"I'll be back in a few minutes," I whisper to Tara and Dawn. They both give me understanding looks and I get up and follow Spike out of the room.
I find him on the balcony. It's become his favourite spot when not sitting by Xander's bed. This is the place where he comes to smoke as he hasn't smoked anywhere near Xander since he became pregnant. I can see the ground covered in his half smoked cigarette butts. He's pacing back and forth, puffing furiously on the cigarette in his mouth. I cough lightly to get his attention. He jumps a little in surprise.
"Oops, sorry. I didn't mean to startle you."
"S'okay Will. Don't sweat it." He must be worried, he called me Will. He hardly ever does that.
"I just wanted to see if you were okay."
"Oh yeah, I'm just peachy. You?" He takes the barely smoked cigarette out of his mouth and stubs it out on the railings, he then takes another one out of the packet and lights it up and starts to smoke again. "I'm sorry Will, I didn't mean to snap at you, I just feel...." He struggles for a word.
"Frustrated? Worried? Nervous? Helpless?"
"Yeah, all of the above."
"I know Spike, I feel it too." He just nods absently in understanding as he lights yet another cigarette.
"I just can't stand all this waiting around. I don't have that kind of patience. I feel like I should be out there doing something to help instead of just sitting around, watching him in all this pain. You know if I just had some big ass demon to protect him from instead. I just...I can't protect him from this."
"You do help Spike. Just being there for him helps." He just snorts in disbelief.
"I just...I can't help but blame myself for all this."
"Spike, why would you blame yourself, you didn't do anything. If anybody should be blamed it's me, I put the baby in him in the fir-"
"No, I mean about the pain, not the pregnancy. I mean it all started when he first felt the baby move right? That was right after the first time we had sex."
"The first time you...um okay." I'm not quite sure what to say to that. After all the years I've known him, Spike's bluntness still catches me off guard sometimes.
"What if I did something to harm him, to put him in all this pain."
"Spike what could you have done? You heard Dr. Matthews, it's a result of the pressure the baby is putting on his body; it's not you. I mean has he ever said anything about feeling pain after any of the other times you guys have...you know" I feel like my face probably matches the color of my hair. I can't believe I am having a conversation with Spike, about his and my best friend's sex life.
"Well, that was the only time we...you know, did the full thing. After that he was in so much discomfort from his size, he never felt up to it. I mean we've done other stuff like-"
"Hey, not needing to know the details here. But you see that just proves my point. He was still in pain but you guys only did it once, so it wasn't you."
"I dunno. I just don't want him hating me. What if he thinks it's my fault?"
"Spike, he could never hate you. You should never doubt how much you mean to him. I don't think he would have ever survived though this without you, you know mister." I give him the Willow Rosenberg patented resolve face and he smiles a little.
"You know Red, if there is one thing I've learned it's never to arg-" Spike stops pacing suddenly, a terrified expression on his face. He throws his cigarette over the balcony and races past me, back into the bedroom. I run after him.
Tara and Dawn jump up from their seats, startled at Spike's sudden reappearance. He runs up to the bed and places a gentle hand on Xander's face "Xander, wake up." Spike's voice is full of worry. He doesn't respond.
"Spike, what's wrong." He either doesn't hear me or he's ignoring me. I can feel the fear rising in me and the butterfly-feeling in my stomach.
"Come on Xander, wake up for me." Spike rubs up and down Xander's arms in an effort to rouse him.
I step closer to the bed and speak in a firmer voice "Spike, tell me what's wrong?" I can feel the adrenaline start to rush though by body and my hands start to shake
"Damn it Xander, come on don't do this to me." Suddenly Spike's hands start to move all over Xander's body as if searching for something. His hands are shaking more than mine.
"Spike what is it, what's wrong." I'm practically screaming at him now. Tara and Dawn have backed away to the other side of the room. I think they're both too shocked at the scene to say anything.
"Blood. I can smell it. It's Xander's. Come on Xan, please wake up for me." Spike's voice is cracking and I can see tears forming in his eyes. All my attention had been placed on Spike and his actions, I take a proper look at Xander and I can see he is incredibly pale except for the large dark circles under his eyes.
Spike's hands move lower over Xander's body as he pushes aside the bed covers. He shoves them past his legs and we all just stare for a moment, transfixed by the pool of blood slowly spreading over the sheet and soaking Xander's pajama bottoms.
"Will, call the doctor. NOW!!"
Fear - Spike's POV
This is torture.
Forget Angelus, forget The Master. What they could do in their prime is nothing compared to the torture that just fucking sitting here and waiting is causing.
How long does it bloody take anyway? Why isn't there anybody here telling us what's going on? Why is this happening?
He was fine, I mean he hurt most of the time and he had to stay in bed, but he was fine. I was taking good care of him wasn't I? He didn't want for anything, so what the hell happened? I only left for a minute to have a smoke. I should have stayed there with him, if I had smelled the blood sooner, sensed that he was in trouble, helped him earlier, maybe he would be okay now.
God, I am so fucking stupid. This is all my fault. Why the hell did I leave to smoke? It's not as if the bloody things are addictive to vampires. Dead people can't have addictions. It's more out of habit than anything else, just a way to escape for a few minutes and stop me from climbing the walls. I'm just a selfish bastard. I shouldn't have been thinking of me, I should have been thinking of him.
I'm going nuts here, I need to do something, anything, I hate just sitting here. My fingers find their way into a hole in the seat of the hideous green padded chair I'm sitting on. I can feel the cheap crumbling foam in my fingers and I start to pick away at it, needing to do something to keep my hands and my mind occupied before I go insane. I can feel the padding is already pretty worn where some other person has picked at it in a fit of nerves and anxiety. I stop myself before I start to build up my own little foam pile on the floor. I need to pace, that'll help, I just need to move.
"Spike..." Red sees me pacing. I know she wanted to say something there to try and comfort me. What can she possibly say though?. There isn't anything to say and I think she knows that really. She just gives me a sad understanding face and lets me carry on pacing.
They're all here now, even the Slayer. The doc relented and let her in, given the circumstances. They all look about as bad as I feel. Red looks like she's in shock, she's pale and her eyes are puffy from crying. She's clinging on to Tara for dear life, afraid to let go of anyone else that she loves.
Little Bit is holding on to the Slayer in pretty much the same way. The sight of all that blood shook her up pretty badly. She has a far away look in her eyes, probably trying to forget what happened and think happier thoughts. I wish I could.
Rupert just looks lost. He thinks of Xander like a son. Hell they're all his children in his eyes. A parent should never have to outlive their child. He's always had to face the real possibility that he would outlive Buffy, I don't think he could handle it if something happened to...
No! Nothing's gonna happen, the doc'll deliver the baby, they'll both be fine and we can all go home and be a family. Yeah, everything's gonna be fine. Shit, this pacing isn't helping. Maybe if I sit down, it will help me to relax.
God, why do these places always have to smell so much of blood? It's like they use it to paint the soddin' walls. It used to torment me because it reminded me of what I couldn't have, now it just reminds me of Xander, and the smell of his blood as it hit me like a wave, the sight of it seeping out of his body. The thought of it just sickens me. Not much of a vampire, now am I?
There was just so much of it. We soaked so many sheets and towels, wrapping him in them before we got in the car to drive him over here. Xander's gonna be pissed once he's all better. Anya bought all that stuff, I think they reminded him of her.
There's probably blood in the car. I'll have to remember to clean that up before Xander comes home; don't want him seeing that. The car ride was traumatic enough for him, without the red-stained reminder. He was pretty groggy when he regained consciousness, maybe he won't remember. His eyes were unfocused and distant, he kept trying to talk but his speech was slurred. No, he probably won't remember. I wish I couldn't remember. He seemed so scared.
"Spike." It was only a whisper but hearing his voice again filled me with hope.
"Xander! Oh Xander thank God you're awake. Stay with me now, don't close your eyes, just look at me."
"Spike, what happened? It hurts Spike, it hurts so much, make it stop. I'm so cold." He tried to look up at me from his position sitting across my lap on the back seat of his car, but his eyes couldn't focus on me. I tried to wrap myself around him in a futile attempt to warm him.
"Everything's gonna be okay Xan, I promise. We're gonna go see the doc and she's gonna fix you right up, you'll see. Don't worry Pet, don't worry."
He looked down at himself and saw the blood stained towels wrapped around him. I don't think it registered at first what he was looking at but then I could see the panic cross his face as he realised he was looking at his own blood.
"No, Spike the baby. Please help me, I can't lose my baby." The tears came flooding over his cheeks.
I just held him tighter to me, wrapping my arms around as far as they would go. I held his head to my chest and started to stroke his hair. I knew he liked it when I did that, it always soothed him.
"Shhh, it's okay Xan. The baby's gonna be okay, you'll see. You'll both be fine, I won't let anything happen I promise you Xan. I love you so much, nothing is gonna happen." I kept on murmuring soft reassuring words to him as I ran my fingers through his hair. He curled himself up on my lap as much as he could, pressing his body to mine, trying to get as much contact as possible.
I never took my eyes off his face, making sure that he stayed awake. He kept blinking and widening his eyes, struggling to remain conscious.
"Stay with me Xan, stay with me. I love you, so you have to stay with me. Come on now, it's gonna be you me and the baby from now on Xan, so you have to stay awake for me. We're gonna be a family, just the three of us together. I love you and the baby so much."
I could see him smile though the pain when I mentioned the three of us being a family. "Hmmm, yeah, a family, just you me and the baby forever, right Spike?"
"Yeah damn straight, you know I'm never leaving you. You're stuck with me now, for better or for worse."
"That almost sounds like a propos-" He jerked in pain again and his hands clutched at his middle, cradling his stomach. "Oh God Spike, it's too much, I can't take it anymore, please make it stop."
"Red, can't you make this bloody thing go any faster?" I glanced over at Willow at the wheel.
"I'm going as fast as I can Spike, I swear. Just hang on Xander, we're nearly there." Her voice was cracking and I could see the tear tracks down her cheeks as I looked at her in the rear view mirror. She used the back of her hand to wipe away the tears and tried to concentrate on her driving instead of her best friend in agony in the back seat.
"See we're nearly there Xan, not long now." I look back down at Xander and see that he had closed his eyes. I used my hand in his hair to jerk his head a little in an effort to wake him up. I didn't want to cause him more pain, but he had to stay awake. I felt the searing pain jolt through my skull and I released his hair to clasp at my own head. The throbbing subsided slowly and I feel another hand at my face. Xander was awake again and looking at me in such sweet concern. His tears had stopped for the moment and he was gently rubbing his thumb over my cheek.
"Spike, no. No pain please." I could feel my own tears start to fall and I return my hand to its place stroking through his hair. I bent down and give him a tender kiss on the lips. I left my head in place there so I could feel his soft breath on my face.
"Okay, no pain. I'm fine Xan. I love you."
"Spike I-" His body was again racked with pain. He clenched his fists and screwed his eyes shut in an attempt to ride it out. "Oh God make it stop." I didn't know what to say, there is nothing I could do to make it better. I just keep holding him tightly and whispering to him, "I love you Xan. Everything is gonna be okay. I love you."
Finally we arrived at the clinic and I could see Dr. Matthews and a few others waiting outside for us. Red quickly pulled over and they rushed to the car and opened the door. As gently as they could they took Xander from my lap and placed him on the gurney and wheeled him into the clinic. I practically jumped out of the car and ran after them, not even bothering to close the car door behind me, knowing Red'd take care of it.
I caught up to them and Xander held out his hand for me to take. I squeezed it making sure he knew I was there with him. The doc fired out a dozen questions I can't even really remember now about what happened. I answered as best I could but the whole thing was such a blur. She started yelling out instructions to the others working there but I wasn't paying any attention, I was just looking at Xander.
Finally we reached the operating room and the doc stopped me from going in.
"I'm sorry Spike, you have to let us take it from here."
"No Spike, please don't go, don't leave me here."
"Please let me stay doc, I have to be here."
"I'm sorry, my team and I won't be able to work properly with you in there. I'll keep you updated but you have to go. Now."
"I have to go Xan, I love you so much. I'll just be in the waiting room, I'm not going far I promise. I love you." I bent down to kiss him again just as they wheeled him through the double doors.
"No, wait, please I need to speak to him please. Spike I....." His voice was drowned out by the squeak of the gurney wheels and the clatter of the doors as they shut me out.
One of the clinic nurses showed me to the waiting area where Willow was already sitting bent forward with her head in her hands. She looked up when she saw me enter and stepped toward me. She held her hand out tentatively and I took it and enveloped her in as big a hug as I could manage. She wrapped her arms around my waist, buried her face in my chest and started sobbing hysterically. Her body was shaking and she could hardly breathe. After a while her tears subsided but she didn't let go of me until Tara and Little Bit arrived with Rupert and the Slayer. She ran over to her girlfriend and hugged her just as hard, her sobbing starting anew.
We've all been sitting here ever since, just waiting for some word on what's happening.
I can see the others stand up suddenly and I see Dr. Matthew walking towards us all, her clothes covered in blood. His blood. Her expression is unreadable as she enters the waiting room. She looks at us all but her gaze rests on me. I can feel everyone holding their breath, desperately wanting to know what's going on but too afraid to ask.
I can't take the tension anymore, so finally I ask the question we all want the answer to.
"How is he?"