Thanks to Mari and Meli for their input and beta reading!!!

Happy reading!

Chapter 23

A Moment of Grace

"My bag," Buffy pointed to the closet as she tried to remember how to breathe, "Just get my bag."

"Love, slow down," Spike pulled open the door and pulled out Buffy's suitcase that she'd pack for this very moment.

Finally their little miracle was coming into the world. It was time to have the baby.

"Spike," Buffy tried to catch her breathe as a contraction squeezed her pelvis.

"Yes, love?" Spike anxiously checked his jeans pocket as he tried to find his car keys. "Where in bloody hell's name did I put my keys?"

"Spike!" Buffy looked at her watch as she tried to count the minutes between her contractions which had gotten shorter and more intense as the night had progressed. "Spike!"

"What's wrong, love?" Spike dropped her suitcase as he sized her up with a quick glance. "You in alotta pain?" he checked his pockets again for the elusive keys that would enable him to get her to the hospital before the baby decided to show itself here and now.

"No, but I've changed my mind," Buffy rubbed her abdomen hoping that it would somehow soothe the life below her hands into slowing down its pending arrival into the world. "I'm not ready…please can we put this off for another month or two?"

"Awh love," Spike gently leaned over to her and kissed her lips. "It'll all be over soon."

"I don't want it to happen yet. I'm not ready you prat!" Buffy could feel her discomfort begin to fuel her frustration and fear as it trickled into her blood stream as denial of the impending delivery override the reality of the situation. "Why did I ever talk myself into this? Why am I always talking myself into these bloody ridiculous situations?"

"The only thing that you've talked yourself into is the best thing that will ever happen in both our lives and one I hope to repeat again and again." Spike winced as Buffy grabbed his hand and squeezed it with all her might as a ripple of contraction fluttered across her body. "Just remember to breathe through it. In and out. In and out. Maybe some visualization might help?"

"Fuck the visualization," Buffy winced herself as the pain ebbed with the echoing ripple of her contraction. "I just want this thing over with."

"It'll be over soon," Spike gently pulled her towards the front door. "Wait here and I'll find those keys and we'll be on our way."

"Just hurry up and get me to the hospital."

"Your wish is my command."

"Just shut up and get me to the hospital."

"Push, Buffy," Dr Singer's calm voice echoed off the tiled walls of the Delivery Suite. The doctor stood in front of Buffy as she braced herself against the intense pressure in her pelvis. "One more push. I can see the baby's crown."

"The baby's what?" Spike sat behind Buffy as he lovingly held her against his chest as she laboured with the impending appearance of their child. He had to control his tone as he wanted to scream in pain from his hands almost being ripped out from their wrist by Buffy. As she struggled in pain with the long labour that Buffy had endured since early last night and now the immediate pain of the delivery wishing that she had opted for the epidural instead of trying without it.

"I can see the baby's head...come on Buffy just one more push," Dr Singer tried to persuade his tired patient to find the strength to complete the delivery of her child. "Push!"

"Oh for fuck's sake," Buffy took a deep breath and pushed with all her might and with all the energy that she had left to give from within herself. "Awhhhhh!! No...hhhhoooo[exhale...way...ahhh[ you get to touch me again. Hhhhooo[exhale."

"Here comes baby," Dr Singer leaned in closer to Buffy as he slipped his hands around the baby's shoulders to supported the slippery infant's entry into the world. Placing the baby for a few seconds on Buffy's tummy, Dr Singer held the baby as he declared for all in the room. "It's a little boy."

Grabbing a sterile towel the doctor wrapped the now screaming newborn into the arms of the waiting midwife that quickly suctioned the baby's throat and checked the baby over. Within minutes the child was placed into Buffy's waiting arms as she closely looked over every inch and ten fingers and toes of the baby.

"Look, William," Buffy held onto the newborn as if he would break if she held onto him too tight and with a gentle pull of the towel she looked down at the baby. "Look at our son."

"We have a little boy," Spike whispered to himself in awe of the little life that he'd created only nine months ago. "A little boy..."

"What a surprise." Buffy lifted the baby up to her face and gently place a butterfly kiss on the head of her son. "What was I thinking when I could have sworn you were going to be a girl?"

"You wanted a girl, Buffy?" Spike trailed his index finger around the head of his newborn child. "Maybe next time, love."

"I really didn't care if we had a boy or girl just as long as they were healthy." Buffy looked up to Spike with a tired smile on her face. "And who said anything about next time? Didn't you hear me telling you that you won't be coming near me again?"

"Lucky for me that I know you're only kidding, sweetheart."

"Who says I'm kidding?" Buffy laughed softly.

"Hey you two, I don't think this is the place to discuss the next kid or your impending sex life." Dr Singer looked at the two of them as he took of his surgical gloves and a nurse helped him with his surgical gown. "Just get over the birth of this one first who I need to remind you is only ten minutes old."

"Sure, doc," Spike by this time had his son's fingers wrapped around the tip of his index finger. "So small for such a loud wail," noting the loudness of the cry that came from the small lungs of his newborn.

"Yes, loud like his father." Buffy handed over the baby to his father as the midwife motioned to Buffy that she wanted to take her blood pressure as the cuff was raised to her arm.

"Better get used to it," the nurse knowingly smiled at the couple. "Bubby will want your constant attention."

"I'm very sure of that if he is anything like his father."

"Okay mom," the nurse took the chart from a table near the bed that Buffy sat on. "Obs are stable, baby scored well on his first test and dad's not on the floor so I think that we can get you back to the ward."

"Dad's not on the floor?" Buffy smiled at the midwife's comments.

"You'd be surprised by the number of fathers that end up deciding the floor looks more comfortable." The midwife let a light laugh out as she shook her head, recounting the men which had landed on the floor and ended needing hospitalisation. Talk about keeping it in the family as sometimes the fathers needed admitting to the hospital for concussion as they hit their head on the way down as they fainted. "So many Dads faint as their partners give birth that we're thinking of padding the floor."

"Buffy, would you like to have a quick bed sponge with one of the nurse's help?" the midwife asked her patient. "I'm sure that Dad can look after the little one for a while."

"Spike?" Buffy looked unsure towards him and the baby. "I might leave it till later." She wasn't ready to let the two men she loved most in her life out of her sight.

"Buffy, let the nurses help you. You'd probably feel better with a clean up," Spike leaned over her holding with all his might their precious little boy.

"And I think that Jack would like to meet his granddad and grandma."

"Hey Jack, want to meet your grandma and granddad?" Buffy gently stroked her son's head feeling the little bumps that the white vermilion left on his forehead. "You're so cute even with all this white stuff on you."

"Love, you freshen up and I'll introduce him to dad and your mum." Spike lifted the baby away and cuddled him into the curve of his elbow. "We won't be long, mum."

"Okay, don't be too long," Buffy leaned up and kissed Spike on the cheek. "I love you."

"I love you, too," Spike finally allowed the tears that he'd been trying to hold back during the birth of their child flow. "Thank you so much, Buffy. Thank you for our son."

"Okay Dad, give us girls about 10 minutes to clean up and then you'd better bring bubby back to mom." The nurse gently pushed Spike out of the way and towards the door of the delivery suite.

"Back soon love," Spike pushed past the door as he went out to show his father and soon to be mother in law his greatest joy in his life beside his girl.

"Just go!" Spike heard his father's raised voice in anger, "Just go away. Now before they come out!"

"Dad? What the hell?" Spike came around the corner where the family waiting room was sure that his father was speaking to Buffy's mother like she was the enemy. But with a shock that could have caused a heart attack he came face to face with Lily. No words came from his mouth as he was stunned at the sight of the woman in front of him that would dare show her face on a day as precious as this to him.

"Oohh look..."

"Get out," Spike cut her short even before she could say anything more. "You're not welcome here."

"What Spike I can't see my own...nephew," Lily spat the last word out like it was diseased. "You know it's ruuu…de not to allow me to see my own flesh 'n' blood."

"What the fuck are you talking about?" Spike looked sharply at his ex as Lily began to seemingly slur her words and he could not notice the dilation of her iris. Taking a deep inhalation of oxygen in trying to curb the sudden anger that gripped his being, Spike handed little Jack over to his grandmother. "Joyce meet Jack. Jack meet Nana."

"Oh...Jack," Joyce wanted to start to cry as she held her grandson in her arms but couldn't bring herself to feel anything caught as she was between her daughter and the new life that had been brought into the world by her other daughter just minutes before. "You're so beautiful."

"Joyce..." Spike's father gathered closely in front of Joyce as if to protect her and the baby. "Why don't you take the baby back to Buffy I'm sure that she'd love to see you and Jack."

"But Lily..." Joyce's eyes began to water as her daughter and her ex-son in law had begun a standoff. "What about Lily?"

"Yeah, mom what...what... about me?" Lily head slightly wobbled as she spoke and it was clear to all that something was drastically wrong with her as she spoke. "Come on, Spike, what are...areee... you going toooo... do, big boy? Spank me like a bad girl?"

"Joyce, take Jack to Buffy?" Spike looked directly at Joyce as he pleaded to have his newborn child removed from what he only saw as a threat to the baby's safety. "Please, Joyce."

Reluctantly Joyce moved slowly away from the protective range of Spike's father and moved across the corridor on the other side of her daughter. The men could almost hear Joyce's heart break as she felt her forsaking one child for another. Despite all Lily had done to her, Giles and Buffy, she was still her daughter. As Joyce passed by her daughter, Lily snapped her teeth together as if she was taking a bite out of the baby.

Spike was pulled back by his father as he went to lunge at his ex for even daring to threaten the baby even if it was jokingly. At the moment he couldn't tell what was wrong with Lily but he could take a guess. Watching Joyce disappear behind the doors that lead to the maternity ward, Spike turned to finally confront Lily.

"What the bloody hell do you want, Lily?" Spike took a step forward towards her as he again inhaled deeply as if trying to find something cloying to her skin. "And what the hell have you been taking?"

"Oh Lily..." Mr Freemantle sighed as he realised what his son was suggesting and closely looked at his ex daughter in law for the signs and symptoms that Spike must have seen. "Lily, what have you done?"

"Nothing, you son of a bitch," Lily spat out at Spike. " dddare you suggest that...III..."

"I don't have to suggest anything, Lily," Spike took her arm as he began to lead her away from the maternity unit. "You look like you've gone through the ringer, your eyes are bloodshot and you stink of weed."

"Hey...heyyyyyyyyy a little relaxant and some coke doesn't hurt anyone," Lily too offence to his words. "I look"

"Dad, please get her to a cab and get the bi...her home before I do something I regret." Spike turned toward his father as he caught up to take over the movement of getting her out by guiding her by the arm. "I don't want to have to deal with her today of all days."

"But baby...I want youuuu," Lily stumbled a little as Mr Freemantle wasn't as gentle as his son. "Want to talk tooooyouuuuu. Want toooo aassk you..."

"Ask me for what, Lily? More money?" Spike nearly spat out his disgust at her appearance at this moment in time but also her abhorrent behaviour.

"To come back...I missss...I misss youuu." Lily tried to pull away from her ex father in law but was held in place with a forceful hold.

"Come back to what, Lily?" Spike laughed with an errie laugh. "You?"

"Yes," Lily lifted her head up higher with what she thought was her pride. "Me. You...are...mmm...mine. Nooo...not hers."

"Go away, Lily," Spike hung his head in defeat as his anger began to rise and the need to strangle the cow became overwhelming. He wanted to be with Buffy not a woman that appeared to be so out of her brain on drugs that it scared him. "But before you go, you'd better understand that you had your chance with me. I belong to her now. Do you understand I belong to her?"

"No!" Lily began to raise her voice in denial. "My husband!"

"Go away, Lily," Spike sighed as he looked at his father, too appalled to look at her for a minute longer. "Dad, go, please, before I do something that I regret."

Spike could only hear her pleas as his father took Lily away from the sight of his son under the pretext that "if she didn't leave with him then security would be called and remove her bodily." Reminding her that she would have "to explain her state of mind to security and possibly the police" if she "continued with her freak out".

"Fuck," was all Spike could think to himself as this revelation of his ex's behaviour confused and perplexed him at the same time it chilled him down to his marrow. If Lily had been using drugs then it could explain a lot of her strange behaviour over the past nine months. "Fuck!" Spike said a little louder as he walked past Buffy's room and heard her and Joyce cooing over his son.

How the hell was he supposed to explain this one to Buffy?

"Fucking bloody sodding hell."