Title: Grown Up Stuff

Author: Brooke

Email: yabbadabbadome13@yahoo.com

Rating: R for a sexual situation

Disclaimer: I used to own a Scooby Doo bobble head, but then I traded it for some magic beans. Then I ate the magic beans, so now I got nothing. Buffy and friends are owned by Joss, Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox, The UPN and whoever else has rights to the show.

Summary: Last (for reals this time) in the series that includes "Domestic Fallacies" and "Ambiguously Monogamous" and "Conceding to Empyrean". Basically, Buffy and Xander's relationship isn't just fun and games anymore.

Distribution: Let me know you took it and that'll do.

Feedback: GIVE IT! GIVE IT! GIVE IT! Please?

Authors Note: I read Lori's "Special Occasions" and got a tiny idea for another story of that fashion, but not to worry, this one is different (hopefully).

Authors Note 2: Seasons 1-7 in the show happened, EXCEPT nobody knew that Xander lost his virginity to Faith and (and I know it's a biggie) Sunnydale didn't implode. The Scoobies were able to beat the Big Evil and save the town. And I never wanted Xander to loose his eye, so guess what, didn't happen. Let's see…Giles took Faith and some of the other SiTs to Chicago to do stuff with the new Hellmouth. And I've never written Kennedy before and really don't remember what she was like or ever said. I do remember that she had a tongue ring and that's about all. I think that'll covers everything though.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Summers House

June 4, 2005

4:45 PM

~*~

Everybody was home. Summer brought the end of the school year for Dawn and Willow, and it was Saturday so Xander and Kennedy had nowhere to be, and Buffy…

Everybody but Buffy was home.

She had left in a huff that morning complaining that, not only, was it the weekend, but school had been let out four days ago. Why was it so important that the faculty showed up? Then she had started muttering about how useless finals had always been in the past and they were continuing to be a huge pain in her ass.

Xander had just given her his closest approximation of a sleepy smile. He felt sympathy as Buffy didn't even have any tests to grade. She would mostly be functioning as 'get the coffee – girl' and 'photocopy this report card – woman', not at all the hustle and bustle that somebody who had spent almost a decade fighting the forces of darkness and saving the world was accustomed to. Plus, 9 seemed a little excessive in Xander's eyes on any weekend day.

He had thought he was offering helpful insight when, through a yawn, he reminded her that Giles had to go into work during the summer all the time. He never complained once. Xander didn't think that she even said goodbye to him after that, but he couldn't be certain because he was pretty sure that he had fallen back to sleep before the door shut behind her.

"I don't know why everybody was always so down on Velma," Willow commented philosophically while wearing a tiny frown. "Being the smartest one in the group isn't a crime."

Dawn, who had insisted on watching this movie, was spending the entire time talking on the phone and probably not even listening to the dialogue, but she did manage to hear the tone of Willow's voice. She covered the mouth piece with her hand and smiled innocently, "Somebody having a high school flashback?"

Kennedy grinned but then turned away from the TV to look at her girlfriend. "Smart girls are hot." She received a grin.

Xander nodded whole heartedly at his friends in the recliner. "So are redheads," he play leered at her. "All the chicks in this movie are way above average hotness," he added and then turned to Dawn. "Thank you for reopening my eyes to the wonders of Scooby Doo."

Dawn smiled brightly, but kept up her conversation with whichever of her friend's was on the phone. Willow fired a comment instead, "Xander's just a Daphne fan."

He shook his head dismissively. "C'mon now, Wills," he winked in her direction. "You know I wouldn't limit myself to just that one character…"

"Not picky then?" Kennedy grinned. "Cuz Scoob was wearing that dress a few scenes ago."

Xander's response was cut off when everybody turned to the doorway, prompted by the sound of the front door slamming shut just beyond their line of vision. They all knew who it was, but everybody watched Buffy lumber past the living room, tossing her purse and shoes, which had apparently been her hands, just inside the room before trudging up the stairs without acknowledging any of them.

"HI TO YOU TOO, SIS!" Dawn called out and rolled her eyes, but received no response. "She always thinks it's my fault that she has bad days," the teen spoke into the phone. "I'm like, hello, this is life. Welcome to it." She was so engrossed in the conversation that she missed Xander's sending her a stern look.

He glanced away from Buffy's sister to his best friend, who shrugged sympathetically, while everybody heard stomping upstairs.

"Well," Kennedy spoke through the silence. "You're not going to go up there?"

Xander huffed out a disbelieving breath. "When she's pissed…at something that's not me?"

Willow nodded. "I'm sorry to have to say this, but as a card carrying member of the Woman Club, I gotta agree."

"And here I thought the breasts and vagina were all I needed to get into that," Kennedy quirked a brow.

The Wicca ignored her. "Whatever's the matter'll become 'Xander's Satan' in 5 seconds flat if he times this wrong." She received a gratefully agreed nod from Xander. "It's best to figure this stuff out before the wedding," Willow nodded. "I say kudos."

Xander smirked superiorly. "And you think you're the smart one in the group."

Willow frowned at him. "I did all that reading and translating and hacking and magic…"

"And I had to figure you chicks out front and back." Xander countered. "It was life or death every other day."

Dawn piped up again, obviously paying more attention to the conversation that any of them thought. "You made out with all of them."

Xander smirked again, seemingly having some sort of pleasurable flashback that earned him a pillow to the face courtesy of Willow's girlfriend. He rubbed his head where the contact had been made and frowned. "You make your master plans, and I make mine." His gaze turned back to the stairs and he watched Buffy walking slowly down them. He knew something was wrong before, but he also knew that now, instead of coming out and saying what the problem was, she wanted him to mine it out of her.

He did the next best thing and gave her a soft warm smile when she reached the bottom of the step. "Hi, sweetie," he reached out with his right arm in a signal for her to come over to him.

Dawn rolled her eyes and turned back to the TV with a defiantly raised brow when her sister, now dressed in a pair of Xander's boxers and a tank top, ambled towards her boyfriend, wearing a pout, and flopped down beside him. She could handle them back together, even them getting married. She and Buffy had talked and she had finally gotten her sister to admit that she knew that she and Xander were a forever type of couple. She could handle them. She loved them.

But she drew the line at 'Pity Me Buffy' and 'Anything for you, Sweetie – Xander'.

That was just nauseating. Dawn spoke in hushed tones to her friend, detailing what was happening in the room and receiving the required empathy, all while thanking the heavens that she was out of here in a few months. All the way back to LA, she eyed Kennedy and Willow watching the screen… and out of this Lovefest.

Buffy was leaning against his shoulder and Xander pulled her into a tight sideways hug, kissing the top of her head. "What's the matter, babe?" he murmured when Buffy chose to stay pressed against his side after his grip relaxed. He accommodated her prodding when she groaned and moved him out of the seat he had settled in, reclining on her side in the process. He shifted to the end of the couch and left Buffy laying, facing the TV, with her head in his lap, and he took to stroking her hair softly.

"Today was the day from hell," Buffy spoke solemnly and sighed under his petting. She brought her hand up and curled it over his thigh and rested her head on it.

"What happened?" Willow turned to her friend, only to find the Slayer resting with her eyes closed while Xander brushed the hair out of her face. She could see how much Xander loved her, and she could tell, by the simple fact that she had seen all of Buffy's boyfriends, and had only this time seen her friend accept such outward displays of affection, that Buffy loved him too. Then there was the whole fact, and semi surprise, when they had returned from Xander's 'business trip' and casually announced that they were engaged last month. She knew that they would probably get married some day because she knew the status of their alleged break up, but she was expecting more dating instead of a 'Hey, lets plan this wedding, now'.

"I'm tired." Buffy said simply. She opened her eyes briefly to glare at her little sister. "Your stupid peers and their stupid tests." She stirred when Xander moved behind her, shifting awkwardly until he was laying long ways on the couch behind her. His arm wrapped around her waist and he kissed the back of her head before propping his up on his arm.

"Excuse?" Dawn looked affronted after informing her friend that she was on her way to her house and hanging up.

Buffy matched the acidy tone. How dare Dawn cop a tude with her when she was up at 8 in the morning… "The senior class of 245 students needs their exams scored and the final grades turned in before Monday's graduation." Buffy huffed and shut her eyes again, relaxing into Xander behind her. His solid body was bracing and warming her from behind and his large hand was caressing her stomach through the thin tank top she was wearing. It was the most relaxed Buffy had been all day considering that she had left uber pissed at him this morning. "So, yes. *Your stupid peers* stands."

"Whatever," Dawn huffed and headed for the door. "I'm going to Megan's."

"Move into your dorm," Buffy countered tiredly. "That way I'll know you're not coming back tonight."

"Maybe I won't," Dawn defied from the doorway.

"Maybe you'd better," Buffy started to sit up, but Xander resisted her pull and she, surprisingly, meekly settled back down.

"Hey, Dawnie," he turned and looked over Buffy's shoulder. "One o'clock curfew sound fair?" He received an eye roll and a slamming door. "I'm a pro," he smiled to Willow and Kennedy.

"She's not coming back," the younger Slayer shrugged.

Willow shook her head, "That's Dawn's 'yes', now…ever since finals started…"

"She thinks she's grown," Buffy mumbled. "I'll have her know that I wasn't out till all hours of the morning…" she trailed off and thought. "I still listened to Mom about…" She was reflective again. "I had responsibilities. I had to stay out to fight evil."

"That's what they all say," Xander grinned in her ear and rocked her slightly in his arms. She yawned and wrapped her arm over his, weaving their fingers together. "Do you want something caffeiney?" he said while pressing his cheek into her shoulder. "I can tell Willow to go get it for you."

"Hey!" the redhead protested.

"I'm comforting," Xander argued. "You're suggesting that I leave my post here on the couch? You don't want your best friend to feel better?"

"You're lazy," Buffy yawned again and stretched, but then winced slightly at the sharp pain that lanced through her back.

"What is it?" Xander's voice seemed seriously urgent at her flinch. "You okay, babe?"

"Yeah," Buffy shrugged him off.

"You sure Buffy?" Kennedy furrowed her brow. "If you need anything…"

"I'm cool," the eldest Slayer's voice held a bit of bite to it.

Kennedy shrugged it off and snuggled in closer to Willow. "Your mood swing." The Wicca slapped her arm. "She's the one that's been tired everyday since the beginning of forever and is PMSing like none other…unless…"

Willow looked at her with wide pleading eyes, but Kennedy, with a grin would not be deterred. "…unless," she glanced at Xander who was rocking subtly with Buffy and whispering something to her. "You knocked her up." She laughed out loud when Buffy's eyes snapped open and all of the color drained from Xander's face. She just shrugged, "I'm just saying."

Buffy sat up quickly but seemed to steady herself before standing. "I'm just tired," she snapped. She turned back over her shoulder to Xander who was looking up at her worriedly. "I'm going to go lay down," Buffy spoke emotionlessly and without another word walked out of the room and up the stairs.

Xander swung his legs over the edge of the couch and eyed Kennedy. "You're a laugh riot, you know that?" he asked dryly. He cast one last glance at the TV and shook his head, wiping his hands over his long short legs and pushing himself up. "Now I gotta go up there," he sounded accusing and pointed at the path that Buffy had just taken. "I gotta go up there and fix what *you* did."

Kennedy shrugged and smiled brightly. "Your misses."

Xander sneered, "Your misses," he repeated in a high whiney mockery of the young Slayer's voice. He was at the stairs and still muttering to himself. "…you and Dawn are going to get me killed…"

Willow watched her best friend leave worriedly, but was distracted by her girlfriend's dismissive voice.

"He knocked her up."

The Wicca did her best to not show the anxiousness that the previously joking comment caused in her now. She narrowed her eyes and shifted in the restricting seat, being pulled closer to Kennedy in the process. "She's eating a lot of weird stuff…" she said after a moment.

"She always eats weird stuff," Kennedy broke off into a laugh at the on screen antics.

Willow nodded and outwardly let it drop. That was true. Buffy was an eccentric eater. No matter what the Slayer claimed, pineapples were not now, and never would be a all purpose fruit …but the other day she knew that she had watched the Slayer eat cottage cheese and salsa. Anything cottage cheese was cause for unease as far and she was concerned.

*`*`*

Upstairs

*`*`*

Xander had spent the majority of the last five minutes staring at the bedroom door and considering his options. Whatever he said here was pivotal. Buffy had had a bad day, was dead tired, had a fight with her little sister, and had just stormed out of the room after being called pregnant. Weighing all of those facts all Xander had ascertained was that she was going to ask him if she looked pregnant and that his answer had to be a resounding 'NO'. He was still deciding on a dismissive laugh…he'd play that by ear.

He hadn't heard anything in the room since the toilet flushing when he got up there and set himself mentally and reached for the knob. Nodding with his final decision he flung the door open… "YOU'RE NOT FAT!" When his eyes opened after the avowal passed he found Buffy staring at him from the bed.

"Thank you?" she asked unsurely and hugged her pillow closer to her.

"I didn't mean that," Xander shook his head after giving the matter some more thought, but was faced with Buffy staring again. "Now, I didn't mean that." She still looked confused and the fact that she wasn't speaking wasn't helping him. "You're not fat. I mean that…but I didn't mean…I was trying to think of something to make you…" He took a deep breath, "Kennedy's a bitch, isn't she?" he chuckled nervously and started to the side of the bed. He sat precariously on the edge beside her.

Buffy just sighed and didn't open her eyes. "So it was between those two before you came in here?" She opened one eye and saw him shrug. "I would have gone with the second one, myself."

"I went with the moment." He was relieved at the semi joke. Using his small opening Xander made a show of crawling over Buffy's reclined form and wrapping her in his arms again. He snuggled up behind her, "I mean…" he snorted, "…where would she get that?"

Buffy shrugged and knew from the feel of the pillow beneath her head that he wasn't resting, but more than likely examining her face for a peripheral reaction. "I'unno."

"That's…that's almost offensive."

Buffy nodded.

"You're not…" he waved abstractly with his hand after lifting it from her stomach. It didn't feel like there was impregnation… "I mean…everything's set…down there with that. Right? I mean…"

Buffy turned over her shoulder with a raised eyebrow and regarded his anxiousness. "Rest assured that if I were any less, I'd be you." She turned and slammed her head back into her pillow, exhibiting her frustration for Xander to see plainly. "And lucky for you, since if you can't say the word, you really don't need any part in my being it."

Xander bit his lower lip and decided against bringing up the fact that she hadn't said the P-word either. "Is that the tiredness snapping again?" Okay, he admitted to himself. That wasn't much better than calling her on her double standard. He jumped when Buffy, without speaking swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood. She smoothed out her shorts and headed towards the bathroom. "Where are you going?"

She rolled her eyes. "To pee," she responded dryly.

She just went… "You just went," Xander's voice sounded unnecessarily skeptical and Buffy turned to look at him.

"What?" she held her arms out in front of her, "I have to check in with you every time I need to use the facilities in my own home? There's a bathroom monitor now?"

Xander's eyes went wide and he sprung up to defend himself against the venom that was building in her gaze. "No," he denied meekly. "I'm just saying…"

"You seem to be 'just saying' a lot today," Buffy muttered and then turned on her heel. She was in the doorway when she spoke to him again. "Why don't you go back down and finish watching your movie." She shut the door behind her.

Xander growled in frustration and flopped back down onto the bed, squeezing his eyes shut. "I'm supposed to make you feel better when you have a bad day," he spoke loud enough for Buffy to hear through the bathroom door. "That's what I'm doing."

The toilet flushed again and he heard the water in the sink running. Buffy opened the door and walked evenly back into the room, "Well, mission accomplished." She sat lay back down with her back to him and felt him hesitate to pull her back into his arms. "You're free to go back to your relaxing day off in front of the TV."

Xander studied her back and closed off posture with slit eyes. "Are you being serious?"

"Yep."

He didn't like the dismissive levity in her tone, but then decided to play the game as well. "Alright then." He leant over and pressed a quick kiss to the side of her neck. "Come down when you wanna go to dinner or something." Xander was out of the bed and shutting the door behind him before Buffy responded or even moved, for that matter, and he sighed in relief when he was in the hall.

That either went very well or very badly. Xander hung his head, his hand finding the door knob again, and this time, without conscious thought to the contrary he let himself back into the room. He hadn't expected a response from Buffy, who was now pretending to be fast asleep, so when one didn't come he counted himself lucky. He headed back over to the bed, grabbing up the thick duvet that Buffy had draped over the chest at the foot of her bed and opened it.

Moving with a surprising amount of coordination Xander climbed over her small defiantly still form, wrapping the blanket over the both of them and snuggled in behind her again. He curled himself around Buffy's back, tucking her against him with strong arms and burrowing his face into her hair.

Buffy sighed at the warmth of his body bracing hers again and relaxed into him. She was silent until she couldn't stand not to speak anymore, and even when she did she was certain to keep her voice low. Almost a whisper because anything else might disturb the new world that Xander had just created for the both of them. "I thought you were going to go finish your movie?"

"Nah," he felt her shudder at the wash of his warm breath on the nape of her neck. "I've seen it," Xander pulled her a little closer and she shifted to accommodate him willingly. "Plus, I'll let you in on a little secret," he leant over her ear surreptitiously, "That dog…not even a real one. All computers."

Buffy could feel him smile when she giggled. "Yeah well," she raised her hand to trace through his arm hair under the blanket. "Daphne was real."

His voice was almost a whine. "Why does everybody think I'm so into her?"

"Do I really need to get the purple dress out of the closet?" Buffy teased lightly and heard him groan behind her. He pulled her even closer and pressed a warm kiss to the side of her neck.

"If you feel you need to," he gave in with a playful grin that earned him a slap on his arm.

"Nun uh, mister," Buffy yawned and relaxed again. "I was up at 8 so it's my nap time."

Yawning always had been contagious even if he didn't think he was tired before. "You sure you don't want to color first?" That got him another half hearted tap on the arm. "Well fine," he huffed even as he felt Buffy's breathing become even under his arm, "You sleep now, but its all Mystery Machine time later, baby."

Buffy's attention was semi-perked but she didn't fully need to wake up to respond. "Get out."

"Make me," Xander challenged even as he shut his eyes. She was silent for a moment, and just the sound of their breathing was audible in the room over the hushed sound of t he TV downstairs.

"I farted." Buffy whispered after a minute.

Xander chuckled drowsily, "Try again." He stayed semi awake for a second longer and heard a muffled 'Loser' from in front of him. "That's what I thought," he kissed the back of her hair again before drifting off himself.

*`*`*

A while later

*`*`*

Sometime over the course of their nap they had switched positions on the bed. Where Xander had been holding her, now Buffy was pressed completely against his back. That was what he had woken up to. Buffy's hand running smoothly from his side to his chest beneath his shirt while her left leg shifted against the back of his.

Xander had always loved the soft feel of her fingers caressing his bare flesh, and the way her smooth legs felt against the coarse hair of his own, and the way that he could feel her whole body pressed warm against his. He grumbled in his semi-wakefulness and shifted while still under the blanket. A lazy smile broke out on his face when he felt Buffy respond and rock her hips out against his buttocks and…

"How do you always do that?" he questioned sleepily, still grinning at the feel of the warm wet kisses and licks that Buffy was placing with a precise abandon over his back. She seemed to have successfully maneuvered his t-shirt so that more than half his torso was exposed, and currently being treated to a most pleasurable tactile examination.

Buffy hummed and slid lower on the bed, her mouth gliding over a ticklish patch that made him squirm on her way to his side. "You're easy to manipulate when you're not conscious."

"Ahhh…" Xander's breath was quickening and he let Buffy roll him onto his back. "Guess that's the case all the time, huh?"

"Yep," she flashed him a smile right before nipping against the skin over his ribs and straddling his hips. Her hands were moving again, skimming his sides, and she pressed her chest against his hips. Buffy grinned secretly when she felt him responding to her touch in the way that she had hoped he would – hardening and pressing into the cloth covered skin of her stomach.

Xander licked his suddenly dry lips and glanced down. Buffy was moving intently with no real pattern; dipping low on his abdomen with on kiss and then dragging her tongue up towards his chest with another. When she would reach his chest he would drop his head back and try to contain the groans and purrs that bubbled up when her mouth would close over one of his nipples, all while her fingers continued to press torturously into his sides and she ground down with her stomach and breasts into his straining groin. He knew that she felt what she was doing to him, but was intent to let her control this encounter as he raised his hands and let them rest, palm up, on the pillow beneath his head.

Buffy drug her lips down his stomach, flicking her tongue into his navel and continuing down the line of hair beneath it. She kissed the skin right above the waist band of his shorts before she lifted her head, with an innocent smirk in place. "Take your shirt off," she ordered in a playfully serious tone while settling her whole weight on his thighs. She saw him arch a questioning eyebrow, but she prompted his own action with her own and pulling her thin tank top over her head and tossing it over the side of the bed. She smiled when she saw his eyes fix on her breasts before he hurriedly sat up to yank his shirt off.

"Not that I'm complaining, cuz, so not the case," Xander's voice was huskily quiet. He was sitting up, bend at the waist and looking up slightly into Buffy's eyes. "But what's with the not cranky you're making with?"

Her grin could only be described as deliberate and sultry. That's how she felt right then – like she was in control of everything. Buffy could feel her heart pounding in her chest and the tingling beneath her skin that signaled the blush she felt spreading all over her body. Just thinking about Xander so solid and hard beneath her…wanting her the way she knew he always did, made her own arousal mount and when that first clench and rush of moisture flooded her core she chose to ignore his question in favor of tasting the lips that had posed it.

Her hands grasping his face, Buffy tilted her head and lunged in. Her lips closed around his first, and then opened, provoking his acquiescent response. Buffy groaned when Xander's hands wound themselves around her waist and she was pressed forward in his lap. The twin pairs of thin shorts they were wearing did nothing to hide his stiff arousal from her and Buffy rocked against the protrusion beneath her; trying to close her lips over his upper one, but being denied when Xander refused to stop engaging her tongue with his own.

When she broke his kiss, still mewling from the way his long rough fingers were softly stroking her sides, her eyes were sparkling. "Wanna fool around before dinner?"

Xander's smile belayed his spoken answer, "Nah," he rolled her over onto her back simultaneously. He loved the way Buffy was looking up at him while he watched her adjust her position on the pillow, her legs opening to wrap around his waist the way her arms did around his back, hands hooked over her shoulders while she clung to him. He dipped his head low again and pressed a contrastingly gentle peck to her lips, and then brushed his lips over her cheek. "That nap time really did wonders for you."

Buffy arched beneath his body, her breasts compressing against his chest and making her breath catch in her throat while her hands scratched down his back and into his shorts from behind. She dug her nails in sharply enough to elicit a gasp and make him pull away from where he had taken to sucking on the side of her neck. "I wasn't in a bad mood before," she challenged seriously while making sure she had his full attention.

He gave in immediately. "Ok," Xander thrust his hips forward into her center and caught the moan that Buffy tried to stifle with another ardent kiss. His tongue probed into her slack mouth and rolled until she responded, and he withdrew with a wet grin in place. "We don't have to argue…"

"I don't want to argue. I wasn't…"

Her sentence was swallowed again. Xander kissed down the tip of her chin, shifting lower in her embrace and lapping at her throat. His lips were closed over the ridge of her collarbone. "I know," he mumbled, lapping his tongue into the small hallow above her clavicle. He kissed his way down the center of her chest, "You weren't angry…" His series of trailing wet smacks veered off to her right breast and he licked the top of the soft mound while Buffy's hands found their way back up his torso and wove themselves in his hair. "…now don't ruin the horny."

Buffy whined so that he would know that she was pouting, but then it segued into a shocked squeal. She jerked away from the sharp pressure of his mouth when the rough wet pad of his tongue scraped over the hardened nub of her nipple.

"What?" His head shot up at her unexpected response. He had at first mistaken it for a customary moan of approval, but when her fingers tensed in his hair and she pushed him back slightly he knew that his ministrations weren't having the desired or predicted responses. "You ok, hun?"

Buffy's breathing was coming in short pants and she tried not to focus on the tingling discomfort that felt like it was prickling beneath her skin. She tried to relax as Xander's hand quested up her side until he was cupping the breast that had just been in his mouth, but she winced slightly. "Yeah," she huffed out and shifted on the mattress. "I'm good," she grinned for his benefit and Xander returned it with a lopsided smirk before his head dropped again.

She shut her eyes against the sensations and filled her hands with his hair as Xander sucked her nipple into his mouth and squeezed the yielding slope of her breast to angle it against his lips. He was working his tongue over and around her sensitive flesh and she squealed again when his teeth scraped over the pebbled tip. He placed a final kiss on the peak of flesh and glanced up at her through his eyelashes with a crooked grin. Buffy's version was shakier and her eyes were unfocused and near apprehensive when his head ducked again and he rubbed his lips across the valley between to her left side. Buffy's eyes shut in preparation and she tried to focus on the sound and vibrations of Xander's humming against her skin instead of the rough feeling of his tongue lapping at her.

His hand palmed her right breast again and squeezed in time with his light nip to the hard peak of her left breast and Buffy shoved him back again. "Hurry up," she tried to keep the discomfort she was feeling out of her voice by grinning at him, "I'm hungry."

Xander hummed and then pressed his lips to the skin over her ribs, "Mmmm…me too…"

Buffy's eyes lolled shut and her head dropped back as she succeeded in getting him to change his focus. Her fingers combed teasingly through his hair, making it stand up and then smoothing it back down, as he moved lower and lower on her body. She lifted her hips to let him tug the boxers she was wearing down her hips while his lips fastened to her hip and he peered up at her, his hand now stroking up her thigh while his mouth pressed disjointed kisses to the juncture of her leg and center.

Xander closed one last kiss right above her slit and flicked his tongue out over the slick skin there and took a deep breath. He broke her grasp on his head, catching her disappointed moan, as he sat up and knelt between her legs. Buffy sat up to face him, opening herself in offering before him, and hooked her trembling fingers over the waistband of his shorts and keeping her eyes locked with the very visible protrusion that his arousal for her was creating.

"Be right back," he said suddenly and rocked back on his shins, standing up on the mattress and then jumping down and jogging into the bathroom.

Buffy looked after him, confused at why she was now alone in the bed, and listening to, what she assumed, were items in the medicine cabinet being sorted through. When Xander jogged back into the room he was kicking off his shorts before jumping shin first onto the bed.

Her semi-pissed grin turned seductive again and she leaned back on her elbows while Xander loomed over her. Buffy reached for him and Xander fell into her, lips pressed together while she tried to lure him fully back into the open cradle of her thighs. Buffy bite lightly into his kiss swollen bottom lip when she felt him hesitate, poised above her and brace of one outstretched arm, while his other seemed to be busy below her line of sight but not touching her.

"Now who's acting weird?" Buffy's voice was a breathy tease and she gripped his sides before falling back heavily to the bed. "What are you…" she trailed off and looked down when Xander didn't follow her lead and she couldn't help that her face turned into a mask of shocked anger and mild hurt.

Xander wiggled his eyebrows when he had succeeded in rolling the condom down his shaft and he dropped down on top of her. He frowned when, though, when Buffy turned to dodge his kiss. "What?"

"This is about what Kennedy said isn't it?" She looked directly into his eyes and when Xander didn't have a response in, what she considered was, a reasonable amount of time she slide from beneath him, shoving him onto his back in the process.

"What?" he pressed again with the vague hope that he didn't sound overly annoyed that he was now alone in the bed and she was now pulling on a pair of jeans.

"Look," Buffy whirled on him, ignoring the fact that he was still laying naked and hard in the bed. She stomped over to where she had tossed her top and retrieved it to put back on. "I'm not pregnant." She huffed in frustration when she realized that she wanted to put on a bra and set about putting another cotton barrier between herself and her confused boyfriend.  "I never have been, and I have no plans on being it."

"Great," Xander finally sat up, his arousal being replaced by anger and he cursed that fact as he felt his erection fading. "Me either. That's why I was thinking 'Hey, I don't want a kid. I'll look into contraceptives'."

Buffy's expression changed again and her jaw set. "You don't want a kid?" She repeated his tone snottily, her hands now on her hips while she watched Xander realize that he should be wearing pants for this conversation too. "Or you don't want a kid with me?"

"What?!" Xander repeated for the third time.

"Just say it," Buffy glared at him.

"We're 24 years old, Buffy!" He had some trouble getting his head through this t-shirt, but when he accomplished that feat he matched her heady glare. "No I don't want kids yet. And yes when I do want them, I have every intention of having them with you, but I'm not in hurry to make it happen this year."

"So you think about that now?" She was still angry despite his logic.

"Well," Xander shrugged. "Sue me. If somebody tells me point blank that if I go outside tomorrow lightning's going to strike me, I'm not going to go for a jog in the park in the morning."

Buffy narrowed her eyes at him in a fresh wave of frustration. "So now Kennedy's your guru. Is she a doctor now?" She was fuming as she ran her fingers through her hair and headed for the bedroom door, flinging it open before turning to glare at him. "You people are running around here like I don't know my own body…"

"Do you?" Xander prodded and Buffy outright turned and walked out of the room. "Well?!" he followed, moving quickly down the stairs behind her and ignoring Willow and Kennedy watching them from the living room as he followed Buffy into the kitchen. "When was your last…y'know…"

Buffy looked at him in disbelief, the water bottle she had gotten from the fridge frozen poised at her mouth before she could take a sip, as she watch Xander try to illustrate 'something' with his hands. "Are you serious?"

"It's supposed to be the 12th of the month, right?" he pressed.

"You're crazy." Buffy spoke with wide eyes and walked out past him. She nodded to her friends, who had moved to the couch and were watching TV.

"Isn't it?!" Xander was still trailing her. He still hadn't acknowledged the other occupants of the room who were content to watch this scene unfold instead of the cable movie that had been on. "You just tell me if you're on schedule…"

Buffy stood up angrily and squared off against him while Xander took a defensive step away from her. "Why don't you tell me! You obviously keep track!" She shoved past him again and stomped back up the stairs.

"Why are you so worked up over a condom?!" he followed her still.

Buffy turned on the steps and she squeezed the railing so hard that Xander heard the wood splintering. "Why do you feel the sudden need to run for one?! Cuz I had a bad freakin day?! Cuz I'm tired?!"

"Because it's…"

"Because you don't want me to be pregnant."

"YOU'RE RIGHT!" Xander flung his arms up. "YOU SHOULDN'T WANT THAT EITHER!"

"I DON'T!"

"GOOD!"

Buffy's argument boiled down to a sneer and a growl and she stomped back up the stairs.

"Somebody missed the 12th…" Kennedy sang and was slapped on the leg by Willow and glared at by Xander.

"She's crazy," he pointed angrily up the stairs, his eyes pleading his case silently to Willow. Unfortunately, his break in concentration meant that he didn't see the blanket and pillow fly with extreme force from the top of the stairs and into his face.

~*~

Summers' House

June 5, 2005

1:33 AM

~*~

Dawn flinched when the door clicked shut behind her. "Shhhh," she whispered harshly and turned to let her eyes adjust to the darkness surrounding her. She crept as quietly as she could over the old squeaky floorboards. It seemed that everybody was asleep, which meant that either Buffy went to sleep way before her curfew and she could be safe, or her sister had turned all of the lights off as a prelude to the verbal reaming she was going to get in the morning.

"You're late."

Dawn's startled scream got caught in her throat when she was at the base of the stairs and Xander's gravely tenor rumbled through the darkness. "Xander," she tried to mask the shakiness in her voice with a cautious smile. "What are you doing down here?" she suddenly turned defensive when she saw him sit up awkwardly and lip on a table lamp on the end of the sofa. "If you're waiting for me…"

Xander wiped at his eyes with the back of his hand and shook his head with a yawn. "Did you know that your sister might be clinically insane?"

"You mean the one you're marrying?" Dawn met his raised eyebrow with one of her own. Xander nodded at her. "I've seen signs that that may be the case," the teen shrugged when Xander's gaze dropped to the floor. "One time when she was, like, ten, she locked us in the bathroom and said that Bloody Mary thing just to see what would happen. That was my first hint that something wasn't right with that one. Then there was her bangs back in '98…"

He chuckled, but it segued into a heavier sigh than he intended. He knew Dawn was still staring at him and that her curiosity had gotten the best of her when she dropped into the recliner across from him.

"What'd she do now?"

He laughed again. "Besides banishing me to the land of Laze-E-Boy?" She nodded at him as if it was obvious, and Xander lifted his gaze. He regarded the youngest Summers for a moment and then narrowed his eyes, "Can I be honest?"

Dawn's eyes went wide suddenly, but it seemed that as soon as the shock was upon her she masked it with a deep breath and a nod. He looked as if he seriously wanted to talk to her, and all Dawn could hope for was that it had nothing to do with her being late…but then again, why would it?

"It's, uh…" Xander bit his lip shyly. "It's not something that…"

Her heart was suddenly beating faster. Just listening to him stutter over his words in front of her, possibly because of her…Dawn's mind set off in a variety of possible scenarios to justify what Xander had said or done while she was gone that ended him up on the couch. "Just say it," she beckoned through a slightly dry throat as her inner teenager jumped up and down.

Xander nodded and wiped his hands over his pajama pants legs. Willow had, thankfully, been able to finagle them out of his room. "Hypothetically," he emphasized, "…totally in the land of make believe, if you…as a girl…a woman," he took a deep breath to clear his head. "If you were late…"

"It's only thirty minutes," Dawn bit out quickly and Xander's brow furrowed. "Oh…" she grinned unsurely. "Yeah, uh…if I was late…"

He raised one questioning brow at her defensiveness, but kept on his train of thought. No matter how much he wanted to get off that the light and airy station that was Dawn's whereabouts for the greater part of the night, his own locomotive track was plowing nonstop into a dark and twisted wood…with bats and wolves…and howling winds and screaming and those trees that would reach out and grab you. "Late," he repeated locking eyes with the teen and accentuating with his hands. "Like late late for that thing that you get…"

Dawn shifted uncomfortably, "I actually got you on that about three minutes ago."

His sigh of relief was audible.

"So, huh," She didn't come right out and fly into conniptions, but she was starting to connect some rudimentary dots. "How late late for the thing are we talking?"

Xander scooped his watch up from the table and glanced at it. "Today's the fifth?" His eyes turned to the ceiling in thought, "Say I was supposed to be there on the twelfth..."

"I'd say that you were early?" Dawn tried.

"Last twelfth…" Xander clarified and tried to ignore Dawn's newly widened eyes boring into him. "And I may not have been there then because I missed it the month before so I said what the hey, late is late, let's run with it."

"TWO MONTHS?!"

His eyes beckoned her silence and Dawn smiled a shy apology. "That I know of…its not something…"

"God," she slammed back into the chair. "She's such a dumbass." Dawn looked up to see Xander gazing at her expectantly. "Oh, don't get me wrong," she clarified evenly, "You're a major one too."

"Thanks," Xander replied dryly.

"So what's the what?" Dawn pressed. "I mean…OOH!" her eyes went wide. "I'll check the stash!"

Xander sat up with renewed hope. 'The Stash' was something he wanted no part in. All he remembered was one time Buffy had sent him to get towels and he had happened a shelf with more feminine products than he had ever even imagined had been manufactured in the history of the world, and in turn, made him worry about the health of the people in this house. It seemed that there was going to be hemorrhaging to the point that transfusions might be necessary, and that scared him more than anything. And everybody had a preference. He hadn't known that there were so many choices, but there were four separate areas on two shelves. And then there was the time where he had been requested to do a low scale restock of Buffy's section, but he hadn't put the items away so much as just swept a few into his basket at the store and tried to keep from running away screaming. In truth he had only seen the mythological 'Stash' once, but Dawn…young sweet helpful Dawnie, had anytime access and it wouldn't freak her out in the least.

"Now?" Xander sounded hopeful. The girl nodded and stood up, now walking confidently to the stairs. "Hey," he called out when she was on the third step. Dawn turned with raised eyebrows. "Then when you get back you can tell me why you were so late."

"Oh no," she grinned evilly, not intending to have Xander reveal this golden information and think that he could pull rank on her right after. "I'm right on time." She smiled when his died and turned back to the stairs. "Be right back."

She took a deep breath when she reached the top of the stairs. She glanced at each door to see if there was light on underneath, but it seemed that everybody but she and Xander had turned in. Dawn tried to steady her foot steps to maintain her stealth on her way to the hall bathroom, slipping inside and flicking on the light. She studied the small closet in preparation before reaching for the handle and praying. Praying that her dimwitted sister's side wasn't as stocked as she remembered it being before. With a reassuring nod that everything was alright, Dawn bit her bottom lip and pulled the door open. "God."

~*~

Summers' House

The Next Morning

10:12 AM

~*~

She had never come back downstairs and that hadn't helped Xander sleep any easier. Now it was 10 in the morning and he was sitting at the kitchen island, where he had been since 7, just waiting for young sweet helpful Dawnie to peek her head out so he could possibly rip it off verbally.

Come in an hour past curfew saying that she could help him and then reneging on her end of the bargain. So help her if he had to go examine the Kotex cavern by himself, because he wouldn't notice a change if he did. She was his inside man, and she was as unreliable as a vampire in a blood bank.

Xander nodded at his analogy and took a satisfied sip of coffee. That was a good one. He'd tell that one to somebody once they woke up and or got home. Buffy and Kennedy had gone out for a workout two hours ago, and all he had gotten by way greeting from the woman who loved him was a nod and a sneer. It had been the younger Slayer who had secretly whispered him their planned whereabouts before leaving, and Xander couldn't blame her for her anonymity. He wouldn't wish the oldest living Vampire Slayer's wrath on anyone…even the annoying person who got him into this mess in the first place.

He heard sluggish footsteps and doors opening and shutting upstairs and knew that somebody else was awake…somebody like that sneaky conniving…

"You're up early," Willow offered him a sleepy grin simple because she was Willow. She was the only person in this house who would even muster a half grin before noon.

Xander gave one back since he had four cups of coffee flowing through his veins and had already spent the last three hours completely conscious. "Back wouldn't re-align to the couch," he couldn't strain the bitterness out of his voice even if she wasn't the actual cause of his strife.

Willow was pouring herself some juice while standing next to her best friend. "Buffy's just…she's…" She looked up to find herself faced with Xander's pleadingly hopeful brown eyes. He could still pull adorable off flawlessly and Willow wished that she would be able to say something comforting with conviction. "She's being Buffy," she said finally and turned to put the juice away. Sometimes wishes weren't answered after all. "You know how she gets some times."

Xander sneered a little and didn't make an attempt to meet Willow's eyes. "Somehow I don't think that she's gotten quite like this before." He noticed that the Wicca stopped at his quiet admission. He matched her gulp and maintained his gaze with the countertop. "I…it's…" Xander sighed and shut his eyes. "Buff and I…we weren't always…cautious…about that kind of thing." His friend nodded awkwardly, "And I know it's dumb and we should have, I don't know…we just should have…but, God Wills, I can't…"

She let her hand fall onto his hunched shoulder and rubbed it lightly. "Xander," she was going to reach for the positive since it seemed that he was already wallowing. And maybe he was doing so rightfully, but there were no certainties yet. "She's a Slayer."

He looked at her and waited for the next part of that argument.

"Can she even have a baby?"

Xander shrugged. "I'm assuming so. She can do everything else."

Willow nodded. Tactic two. "And she would know. Slayer's have to be crazy in touch with everything about their bodies. Buffy'd probably know before it even finished."

He looked skeptical again. "Wills, I really appreciate it. I do, but, and this might be a first, you're over estimating the supernatural. There's nothing Hellmouthian anymore and she's just a girl." He hesitated for a moment. "A freakishly strong, fast, strong girl."

"You said strong twice," Willow pointed out before taking a sip of juice.

Xander nodded and grinned briefly. "I think it's a trait that's way too glossed over. She can bench press me." He nodded when Willow looked impressed. "I made her stop cuz I thought her grip on my shoulder would dislocate it, but she could've kept going."

She lost herself in trying to imagine what it would look like to see little tiny Buffy benching big oafy Xander, but then shook it away. "And what if she is?"

He looked up shocked. It was obviously one thing for him to have his doubts, but it was quiet another for somebody else to seriously suggest that he might need to start planning Lamaze and nurseries and preschools and high schools and first cars and first dates and college funds…

Willow jumped into action and jogged to the sink. She filled a glass with water and pressed it into Xander's shaking hand. He drank it in one gulp, but was still pale and breathing hard. "Xander you're in love with each other," she pointed out softly. "You can't ask for more than that. You're getting married…you'd have children…"

"Eventually." He breathed out. "We'd have children eventually. Not we'd have children in December…ohgod…" His eyes went wide and he tried to take another sip out of his empty glass. He was thankful when Willow gave him a refill, but he doubted his expression was anything but panicked when he looked at her. "This is going to happen before the wedding. The kids going to have parents who are still dating. He's going to go to school and they'll have him draw his family and he'll describe it and say 'This is my teenaged mystical dimension unlocking aunt, my mommy's two live in lesbians, my mommy and her boyfriend."

"That's really a mouthful for a preschooler, Xan," Willow sounded skeptical. "Plus, by the time the kid…the hypothetical kid, is in school you won't be 'the boyfriend', and do you have any idea how many preoperational stages he's going to have to go through before he can draw – or talk?" Then a point stuck her, "And this isn't even a definite scenario! You're overreacting…"

"Is he?" Dawn's bleakly questioning voice renewed his panic.

Willow looked pleadingly at the pajama clad teen. "Yes," she assured sternly with a glare. "We don't know and anything besides an EPT test is going to be speculation…"

"You sold me out," Xander shook his head with narrowed eyes. "Oh I'll check it," he mimicked Dawn's voice in a high pitched mockery that made her pout. "I'll be right down to tell you."

She didn't like him making fun of her when she had had his best interests at heart. Dawn locked eyes with him and tried to make her shrug look indifferent. "You wouldn't have liked the findings." He paled again.

"What are we talking about?" Willow darted her eyes between the two of them. "What findings?"

Xander's bottom lip jutted out and Dawn continued to smirk superiorly while Willow waited…

"I fwed I'm fwine."

They all turned to the back kitchen door when it opened and Xander was on his feet, the earlier argument forgotten in a heartbeat. Buffy was being trailed by Kennedy and he rushed towards her. "Buff," his worry was evident in his tone and the way he was examining her tilted head, wincing at the blood that was staining her lower face and white tank top she was wearing and still falling from her nose. "Babe? What…"

"I got kicked," she interrupted nasally.

"YOU KICKED HER?!" he whirled on Kennedy while Willow was wetting a towel and handing it to the blonde Slayer.

"IT WAS AN ACCIDENT!" Kennedy defended herself. "She said she wanted to spar, and then she walked right into that snap kick." Her brow furrowed angrily because now even Willow was glaring at her while she dabbed at her friend's upper lip. "And she probably only wanted to hit things because of you anyway."

"Yeah well," Xander shot at the younger Slayer, relieving Willow of the bloody towel. Buffy was letting him touch her and he was too incensed to realize it. He titled her head back further and examined the circles that were appearing under her eyes. "She only wanted to hit me because of what you said."

"Because of what you did." The girl corrected pointedly.

"That's still no reason to kick her." Willow grimaced when Buffy squeaked and flinched away from Xander's hands.

"I didn't kick her!" Everybody including Buffy looked at her acidly. "Well so I kicked her. I wasn't aiming for her nose."

"It could be broken," Willow spoke next to Xander after examining Buffy's face. He nodded and wiped some more blood from Buffy's chin and the Slayer suddenly looked fearful. "You need to go to the doctor, Buff."

Xander nodded again. "She's right, Buffy. This looks…"

"Like crap," Dawn arched an eyebrow. She smiled on the inside when Buffy's eyes flashed before a comment came, but as soon as her big sister's mouth opened it snapped shut at the flash of pain that it had caused. The teen shrugged at the glare she got instead, "It does," she insisted on her way over to Kennedy. When she reached the younger Slayer she punched her semi-hard in the forearm.

Kennedy narrowed her eyes and rubbed where she had just been hit and Dawn shrugged again. "She's my sister," the younger girl explained. "You can have your point about the situation, but I can't just let you beat on her."

"She didn't beat on fweme." Buffy's insistence lacked the bite she intended because Xander was forcing her to hold her head back to curtail the bleeding. He pressed an icepack that Willow handed to him to the bridge of her nose and she slapped his hands away from her face and glared. "And don't think that I'm still not angry with you." Xander rolled his eyes agitatedly.

"I know," Kennedy was happy to agree with somebody even if it was Buffy. "She was the one who didn't say she was feeling sluggish."

"Sluggish?" Willow raised her eyebrows and her girlfriend nodded before Buffy could respond.

"She was totally dragging after the warm up run."

"It was hot out," Buffy bit out.

"It was a quarter mile and you had to sit down," Kennedy corrected superiorly. "You downed two bottles of water and said you were dizzy."

Buffy's eyes flickered with rage. "So sue me for not warming up properly…"

"Warming up for a warm up?" Dawn looked skeptical. Her sister glared. "I didn't know you were supposed to do that."

"You are," Buffy bit out and then flinched.

"And you lost your footing," Kennedy pressed on.

"That doesn't mean that I was dizzy." Buffy denied whole heartedly. "It could mean that…that Xander's clumsiness is finally pathogenic. It rubbed off on me." She smiled at her reasoning even though her boyfriend scowled beside her and everybody else in the room seemed to be trying to stave off outright laughter.

"Oh, we think he rubbed you," Dawn smirked and got in the dig under her breath. She grinned innocently when Xander's pout turned to a hard glare in her direction, but it was obvious that her older sister was opting for the selective hearing that she was so fond of.

"And then when you sorta grabbed your head and your stomach and sat down and *said* 'whoa, dizziness', I took that for its stock meaning." The other Slayer reminded dryly.

Xander's throat was dry just from listening to the conversation, but there was some relief for his coronary that Buffy was so adamant to the contrary. That was usually a good sign even if there was no blood flowing to his brain because his raging panic had closed off all type of arteries and other valuable circulation things. Then the sight of all that blood on Buffy's shirt wasn't calming his stomach any…neither was the darkening bruises under her eyes or the rising swollenness of her cheeks.

He tried to take a deep breath, but when everybody turned to look at him, matching confused expressions on three separate faces, he knew that the high pitched wheezing he heard in his mind had actually accompanied what came out as more of a panicked gasp than a calming sigh. "Let's just deal with one problem at a time here," he suggested, knowing that his eyes were possibly wider than they had been in years. He hadn't been this scared in years and he had watched the dead walk, things eating people, various other demons who were just plain ugly, and lived in a house with three women. "Sweetie," he turned to Buffy and tried not to sound to peeved at her nonchalance. "We need to get you to a …"

"I'm not going to the doctor!" The Slayer interrupted him sharply and her word was final. Her fiancé, sister and friends watched her stomp angry and bloody up the stairs. They all shared glances until the sound of the door slamming shut up stairs rang out so loudly that they all jumped.

Kennedy was the first to break the silence. "So was it decided that she's *not* going to the doctor then?" Everybody glared, but Dawn who was trying to stifle a laugh.

~*~

3:45 PM

~*~

Dawn considered her options from the doorway of the living room. Xander had to know that she was standing there, but he seemed content to ignore her and watch TV…if he was in fact paying attention to the screen. She had actually never seen anybody watch television so…angrily.

His jaw was set and his lips were in a tight sneer that matched his narrowed eyes perfectly. He was sitting stark still, and had been since Buffy had stormed out of the kitchen almost four hours ago, and he was even changing the channels with the remote with an air of pissivity that Dawn didn't even know existed – and that was saying a lot because she had lived with Buffy for her whole life. When the Slayer got mad, it was a death-con four situation.

"Xander," she sighed finally, taking cautious steps into the room. "Look, about earlier…" He changed the channel and didn't turn to acknowledge her in the slightest.  "I'm sorry, ok."

"What for?" he spoke while still studying the commercial on screen.

"For making you angry."

"I'm not angry," he denied.

"Riight," Dawn breathed. "Well, I'm sorry anyway." She only received a nod and then took a step closer. "And," she started again, leaning over and taking the remote from him. She turned off the TV and tossed the controller into the recliner that was a good deal away from where Xander was seething. "You know that you have to go up there," she nodded towards the stairs. "She's been quiet for hours and that, in the past, has meant apocalypse."

Xander shrugged. "She'll be fine."

"You're ridiculous," the teen shook her head. "Listen, whatever other problem there is or may be, her face is still broken. The least you can do is press for help with that…ooh, tell her about the heinous swelling and probable disfigurement. That'll make her spring into action." She was smiling hopefully at him but Xander was maintaining a steady sneer. "And don't look at me like that," Dawn pointed. "I didn't do anything."

"I'm not looking at you like anything!" Xander huffed frustrated. "I'm just sitting here *trying* to watch TV and you're coming in here telling me what to do! Newsflash Dawn, its completely obvious to me that Buffy doesn't want me up there so I'm not going to walk into a firing range…" He stopped suddenly and paled again. "I'm doing it now too," he spoke philosophically with his revelation. "She's making me do it too."

Dawn nodded at his obvious, to her, observation.

"Right," Xander breathed and stood up slowly. He looked apologetic at the younger girl. "I have to go," he nodded to the stairs.

"Because you love her," Dawn filled in and he nodded with a soft grin in place.

"Because I love her."

"And because she needs you."

He looked shyly at the ground and headed for the stairs. "Thanks Dawn," he gave a tight lipped grin, and despite Kennedy's mock trumpeting of the 'death march' from the kitchen, he jogged up to his and Buffy's room.

*`*`*

Upstairs

*`*`*

Xander was a cautious man. He had grown up on a Hellmouth and was best friends with the Slayer – when he read the word 'cautious' in the dictionary, his picture was next to it along with a tally of how many times he hadn't, in fact, been eviscerated in the field. He knew how to handle most situations…almost every single thing that could be thrown at him.

Everything but how exactly to deal with the opposite sex…and more specifically, one Buffy Summers, since whatever information he thought he had gathered from his experiences in that department, she made a regular practice of refuting them.

He entered his bed room cautiously, having for once in the recent past not even considered what he might say or what might need to be said. All Xander had boiled it down to was that Dawn was right. Buffy was hurt and no matter what verbal munitions she threw at him he had to take it like shrapnel and keep charging the field. As Colonial Patton once said, or Xander's closest approximation, "Courage is fear holding on a second longer." That had to be his new motto.

He didn't speak right away, and when his eyes fell to the bed, he was glad. It was clear that Buffy had been laying in it as the covers were pulled back and the pillow was bunched up where she had been hugging it, but she wasn't there now. As recent history and the fact that Buffy hadn't been downstairs since she and Kennedy had returned that morning, had dictated, his next destination was the bathroom.

Part of the reason he had been so agitated when Dawn had finally come into talk to him was that Kennedy had beat her to it. He had been pretty much in confused sulk mode until the brunette Slayer had decided to waltz in and regale him with more tales of her Buffy-observational study; which, much to his denial questing, included a 'pee count' for the morning.

It seems that to Kennedy the fact that she had counted eight trips to the bathroom before the accident was a little out of the norm. Xander wished that she would take such ardent joy in the current state of his and Buffy's relationship, or at least the sex part of it. Every other word that came out of the younger girl's mouth seemed to be a taunt or a jab like Xander wasn't completely freaked out and in need of comfort. But who was he kidding, not even Willow or Dawn was completely sure about how to offer that.

He stopped at the partially closed door and tried to peer into the mirror that was visible through the crack. All that that revealed was that Buffy wasn't actually going to the bathroom and that prompted his next course of action. If she wasn't paying the water bill again and he couldn't see her, that meant…

He pushed open the door and rushed into a crouch. "Buffy," his voice was worried and his hand spanned over  the expanse of her shoulder where it was relaxed against the side of her bath tub. She was sitting, now in just her sports bra and sweats, on the floor, seemingly asleep against the shower door. He shook her gently and called her name again as his roving eyes caught sight of the remnants of the bloodstained tank top she had been wearing earlier. Apparently she at least had the time and means to remove it before she conked out.

"Buffy, hun." All of his anger faded when Buffy's eyes opened hazily and offered him a tired smile. He tried to return it but all he could see was the obviously purple areas surrounding both of her eyes. "That's definitely broken," he whispered.

Her face felt a little numb so she just shrugged. "It'll be probably feel a little better in a few hours."

"Still don't like it," Xander refuted and sat on his knees. "Any reason for the bathroom nap?"

She shrugged again. "Stomach hurts. Walking's bad."

He nodded and filed it away. "You think you're okay to go lay back down?" he asked instead of voicing his more predominant concerns. "I'll get the trashcan for you and everything." The fight was out of her too and the strongest Slayer in history just nodded and let her boyfriend scoop her up in his arms. "And while you're sleeping I'll call the doctor…make an appointment."

"Don't wanna," Buffy mumbled against his shoulder where she had snuggled in. She pouted with her eyes closed when he set her back down in the covers and pull them up over her.

"You have to Buffy." Xander insisted seriously. "For this, if nothing else. Dawn said you'll be disfigured."

"What does Dawn know?"

"Well, how about you just go for me?"

She opened one eye and caught the overly boyish grin he put on when he knew she was looking at him. "Hmmm, for you?" He nodded brightly at her despite her broken and tired appearance, "…nope."

"Ok," Xander cleared his throat and wiped his hands down his pants legs. "How about if you don't go, I call Giles?"

"What's he going to do?" Buffy gave an abbreviated yawn that ended with a sharp wince. "He's not even in the country," she challenged even though both she and Xander knew that facial movement and expression hurt more than Buffy would ever let on.

"I can find one to come here," Xander offered.

"Can you find a way to let this drop?" Buffy suggested sharply. She hoped that her glare was well relayed through the black eyes that she knew she had when she had looked in the mirror. The way Buffy had reasoned it there was no point in involving professional medicine when there was a Wicca in the house. A doctor might be able to alleviate the pain but a full fledged witch could wave her hand and everything could be reversed. That's what Buffy needed. A reversal spell…

And that trash can.

She took a shaky breath and tried to swallow the film in her throat unsuccessfully while shutting her eyes. "Xander," she spoke quietly. "Look, I…I really just…" The feeling that had prompted the bathroom nap was back with a vengeance and, like before, wouldn't be ignored. "…think I'm going to throw up."

Xander raised an eyebrow. "Not the response I was expecting…"

Buffy paled and shoved off of him to roll off the other side of the bed, moving as quickly as possible to remove the blankets that had become tangled around her legs. She stumbled heavily to the bathroom and knew that Xander was right behind her, and when she fell to the floor in front of the toilet and felt him pulling her hair back after that first heave she was suddenly thankful that he had come upstairs.

She knew what the reason for this was too. It was simply a reaction to the intense pain in her face and head – that's all. She'd tell him that once she got a second conversational wind and her mouth wasn't her stomach's emergency exit. She'd tell him that her nose hurt so much that it made her nauseous and when that feeling caused her to have to bend over…it was a whole chain reaction thing that, in the end, had nothing to do with anything that smartass Kennedy had ever said. 

Xander would have been surprised that the amount of thought that she could have whilst being violently sick. He stayed with her, rubbing her back periodically and making the obligatory congratulations when she accomplished more than a dry heave and it became glaringly clear to the Slayer. Buffy let out a deep breath and swallowed the bitter taste in her mouth. Her eyes were shut but she was silently thankful when she felt a cool cloth on the back of her neck. "Fine," she murmured, feeling the cloth wiping her mouth now. She pulled it away and looked into Xander's concerned eyes with her tired ones, knowing and begrudgingly accepting that it was time to bite the bullet, so to speak. "Make your stupid appointment."   

~*~

Buffy and Xander's room

June 6, 2005

7:25 AM

~*~

Sleeping had never been such an ordeal as it was last night. Granted, Xander wasn't going to look his welcoming back into the bed in the mouth. He may have attributed it more to Buffy's extreme exhaustion, but he was secure in his reaffirmed knowledge that his presence was wanted and coveted when she had sleepily asked him to hold her instead of maintaining his post sitting awkwardly against the headboard on the top half of her side.

Gratefully he obliged, but a reconsideration of the logistics was undergone when sometime in the night he was awoken by a muffled scream when, apparently, Buffy had bumped her nose on either the pillow or his body, he still didn't know. He had jumped to calm her and gotten another ice pack from the freezer, but when he suggested that since they had to get an early start the next day, what with Dawn's graduation in the morning and the doctor in the afternoon, that they better try to get some more sleep, Buffy had been reluctant to let him go.

Of course it didn't help him that her eyes were still watery when she resumed her task of trying to snuggle up to his side. And he knew that he had to do something since she would gasp with a restrained whine with each move. It took about five minutes of maneuvering, but they had settled on the position that Xander had just woken up in, which was surprising, but he chalked it up to a subconscious desire to not move so much as to not cause her unnecessary pain.

Buffy was still asleep, laying on her back with one of her hands tucked under her head and the other curled beneath Xander's shoulder so that her fingers were woven in the hair on the back of his head. Xander, himself, opened one eye to a sight he had absolutely no problem at all with even if the room was unnecessarily bright. His head being pillowed on her left breast him with a nice landscape view of the other side, and his hand had somehow found its way beneath the hem of his button down work shirt that he had given her to wear.

The clock hadn't gone off yet, but he could easily hear Dawn moving excitedly around the house already, even though her graduation was still three hours away and they lived fifteen minutes from the school. He hadn't slept much on his graduation night, himself, but it hadn't been excitement about finally being out of school. He remembered having more of a succinct terror before he headed to the school that morning. It made him happy for Dawn…that she was able to have just joy about this accomplishment.

Buffy had worked so hard to ensure that her little sister would have just the joy about these years. Xander smiled at the thought and his fingers contracted against the soft skin of her stomach beneath them. She sacrificed so much and rarely asked or expected anything in return…if he were to have to be a parent, he couldn't imagine anybody he'd rather have opposite him than her.

He lifted his head as subtly as possible and glanced up to make sure that he hadn't woken her. Buffy just grumbled and frowned but then relaxed again and he left his eyes follow the path down her body to where his hand was. Moving delicately he brushed the shirt tails away so that he could see just her skin and resumed his cautious petting. He didn't know why he hadn't dedicated as much time in the recent past to studying her the way he had before. Maybe he had just gotten used to her being there or maybe he just didn't want to notice or maybe he just assumed that she was changing again…nothing bad, so no need to bring it up and have to have *that* conversation. But if he looked carefully there was…she had…

He knew that his exhale was audible and his focus was so intense on his own hand that he hadn't even noticed Buffy's head raise slightly. Her voice was just above a hoarse whisper and her fingers tightened in his hair to break his concentration.  "Really not a fan of you doing that."

Xander looked up guiltily and withdrew his hand and Buffy immediately straightened out her shirt. "Sorry." He looked back down pensively but didn't move from his position pressed tightly to her side, "How's, uh…how's the schnoz?"

"I don't have a schnoz," Buffy denied even though she wasn't smiling at his attempt to defuse the situation. "And my nose feels a little better," she shrugged dismissively.

"Good." Xander nodded.

"You can move now." Buffy's hand wandered down to his shoulder and she pushed slightly, but he didn't budge. "Or…" she sounded a little affronted, "Can you move now?"

"I was just looking," Xander explained himself in a quiet tone. "It wasn't…I was just…"

"Looking?" Buffy filled in with a raised eyebrow. He nodded and didn't meet her eyes. "Well don't."

"Why?"

"Look," Buffy pushed at his shoulder again and was, again, denied more vehemently when Xander locked his arm around her waist and anchored her to the mattress. "I said I'd go to the doctor, so just drop it, okay?"

Xander huffed out a chuckle. "I said that because your nose is broken."

"I'm not stupid Xander," Buffy spoke evenly. "I know what everybody in this house thinks…"

"And you're going because you're not so sure anymore either?"

"I'm going," Buffy annunciated, "because I want to prove you all wrong."

"And if you don't?" Xander pressed. "What if…"

Buffy hated the way that he was looking at her recently. She knew that he loved her, but there was something in his gaze and in some of the things that he said and the way he was saying them that carried an air of disappointment. She hated that because *if* his 'what if' hypothetical situation was true, it wasn't all her doing, and not once had she sounded disappointed in him. "Yeah, Xander." Buffy agreed in a way that forced him to have to look her in the eyes. "What if?" He looked confused and Buffy sighed angrily. "Are you going to leave me or something? Just because this wouldn't be on some timetable that you've devised for our perfect romantic future?"

"Buffy," Xander's eyes were wide and he sat up in the bed. He turned over his shoulder to look at where she was hefting herself up to lean back against the headboard to look at him. "I wouldn't ever…Never. I'd never leave you…"

"Because it'd be half your fault," Buffy smirked bitterly. "If I were…"

"I wouldn't think about it in terms of faults." Xander's voice was hard and challenging. "There wouldn't be blame because in the end of it all I love you." She rolled her eyes at him and scooted off the side of the bed, leaving him sitting there. "When I think about my children, I want them to be yours, too." He said just as the bathroom door clicked shut behind her. He sat in silence, hugging his knees to his chest, and listened to the muted sounds from the room Buffy was in. "Well?" he pressed when she breezed out and simply started getting out her clothes for the day.

"Well," she repeated, not looking at him. "Get dressed."

Defiantly, Xander reached out and caught her by the wrist when she reached to set a blouse on the bed. "About what I said, Buffy." He tugged her hand until she collapsed into a sitting position on the edge of the bed and he scooted up to sit beside her.

She took a deep breath. "I think that if you're going to be angry with me…"

"I'm not," Xander cut her off vehemently, but then didn't continue his train of thought when Buffy sent him a stern glare.

"I think," she repeated, "That if I were to be…and you can just sit there and be pissed than I have the same right. I can look at you and talk to you the way you've been doing to me because in the end…" Buffy ignored his subtle wince when she used the words he had chosen earlier. "…it's going to be mine. I'll be the one who's going to have to sacrifice and change and have this…this thing…for the rest of my life, and you'll always be the one who can walk away." She was looking at her hands and didn't see his shocked expression while he studied the side of her face.

His voice was so quiet and private when he finally spoke. His hand was so large and hot when it grasped hers and squeezed. His breath so warm on the side of his face when it accompanied the genteel, but obligatory, kiss he pressed to her temple. "I could *never* walk away, Buffy." He had never said anything with such conviction as he did that. That was his one truth in life. He could lose his job or his home or his right arm, but he could never lose Buffy. Never let anything take her from him now that he had her. "Don't ever think that." When he ducked his head he could see tears slicking the purple bruises on her cheeks.

"Everybody at the graduation is going to be wondering what happened to me," she tried to laugh and change the subject.

"I was looking," Xander didn't follow her lead and moved their still joined hands up her lap until their thumbs were pressed against the soft curve of her belly. "Because I woke up with the overwhelming thought that if you were to have my child…you'd be the most beautiful mother. You'd be the best mother."

Buffy's lips turned into a skeptical but thankful grin at his appraisal. She partly attributed it to the fact that Xander thought he was still in the doghouse and he wanted out, but when she looked into his eyes; his sincerity almost knocked the wind out of her. He wasn't even smiling, he was so serious in his conviction, but his eyes were etched with the most tender sincerity that she had ever seen. "Overwhelmed, huh? You've got no facts to back that up."

"Never been more whelmed in my life," Xander leaned into her shoulder for a moment before gently urging Buffy to recline again. She complied tentatively and soon he was poised over her again. Her eyes shut when she felt him move her shirt away from her stomach again and shuddered at the feel of his fingertips on her exposed skin. "Can I look at you," he asked before resuming his study, even though through actions Buffy was complying completely. She nodded and, no sooner had her minute head shake been started, his eyes transfixed with her flesh again. "I've got evidence," he informed her softly, his fingers trailing over her belly.

"Really?" Buffy whispered and shifted semi-uncomfortably. "What's that?" She felt his hair tickled her navel before his lips pressed completely to the skin below.

"Dawn's graduating today," he tilted his head away from her stomach, satisfied with his rudimentary findings as well as the fact that Buffy was comfortable enough to grant him the liberties he had just taken. "And she's not wearing a battle axe around her neck."

Buffy laughed a little at that and opened her eyes. Xander was smiling down at her and his whole hand was resting warmly on her stomach. She reached up tentatively and tucked some of his bed frayed hair behind his ear and then leant up, pressing her lips just barely to his own. She pulled back and let her eyes rove his brown ones, ignoring the sharp pain that their close proximity was causing in her gaze. "I don't want you to think that I don't really want to prove you wrong today," she informed him and all Xander could offer was a nod in response. "But if I don't?"

He leant down and kissed her again, and then pulled back with a smile that was both comforting and nervous. "I'm not adverse to being right sometimes too." Buffy nodded this time.

~*~

Sunnydale County Memorial Hospital

June 6, 2005

4:30 PM

~*~

Dawn's graduation had gone off without a hitch. Despite the black eyes that Buffy had discretely hidden behind a huge pair of sun glasses that her little sister had deemed 'totally Jackie O', Xander could see her beaming when she handed the diploma meant for Dawn Marie Summers to the principal.

The Summers cheering section, comprised of Xander, Willow, Kennedy and Giles via cell phone cheered and clapped, and much to Dawn's embarrassment, whistled…well, Xander whistled. Once the parchment had been in her hand and she had stepped past the principal Buffy had almost bowled her over in a tight embrace, and Xander was still cheering. It had been the proudest moment of the three of their lives and it only helped to prepare him for where he sat now.

Dawn was safely off at a post graduation BBQ and later a circuit of parties, leaving Buffy and Xander to excuse themselves from their other roommates and handle their other affairs for the day. Kennedy had maintained her quiet suspicions about where the two of them were going, but Willow had just said that she would see them later.

So here he sat. Buffy had been in the office alone for about twenty-five minutes. The doctor had examined her nose and determined that, and he chalked it up to Slayer healing, she had suffered a sever cartilage bruise that would be painful for the next week or so. Then the question had been posed if there were any other problems. Buffy had begrudgingly said that there was a 'maybe kind of problem' which had prompted more medical questions and fidgeting from Xander.

When she had been asked, after a line of round about inquiries, when her last period was, Xander had paled and almost fainted when she started doing whispered math. Math, he cursed and watched her figure it out. Buffy came up with the guiltily given answer of 'some light spotting in March'.

"Hmm."

The doctor's reaction had been the understatement that all other understatements wished they could grow up to be, in Xander's eyes. March was, like, four 'before they were engaged' months ago. She hadn't said anything since four months ago. They were still denying four months ago, and she was, for all intents and purposes, saying that she wasn't remotely interested in him, lie or not, while carrying his maybe child.

The next thing that Xander had heard was something about drawing blood and a pelvic exam. Buffy had squeezed his hand lightly, sensing his tension, and relieving some in the process. She told him that he could wait outside, and he may or may not have ran out of the room before she actually finished the sentence.

He had seen a nurse walk out of the examination room with a vile of blood over the top of the magazine he was crumpling in his sweaty hands while he waited. He didn't know why everybody in this waiting room was staring at him…judging him because his girlfriend was probably pregnant and unwed thanks to him. They'd have to move the wedding up and clear everything out of Dawn's room and, a small grin broke out on his face, he could build a crib and he and Buffy could paint the room all baby-like with ducks and bunnies and all that other stuff that kids liked to look at. Willow could buy stuffed animals and do all the reading about how to be a good parent for him, and Kennedy could…she could, well…she could probably handle helping her sister Slayer maneuver around the house once she got really big. It might not be that bad if he could not participate in the whole vomiting thing that he felt building in the pit of his stomach.

The examination room door opened and Buffy nodded over her shoulder before smiling and heading over to where Xander was seated. She even managed a small laugh when he threw the magazine into the chair and jumped up to meet her.

"All set," she bite her lower lip and slipped around him, studiously avoiding his eyes boring into her with unspoken questions. Buffy felt him staring at her while she paid for the visit and picked up the prescriptions and referrals that she was being advised of – smiling despite herself the whole time.

She waited for Xander to catch up to her and hit the unlock button on his car and, without a word, she got in.

"So…" he prompted at her eerie silence.

Buffy looked confused when she turned her gaze away from the windshield. "The pharmacy closes at 5," she said simply and gestured to the ignition with a wave of her hand. She caught his frustrated sigh when he started the car. "Dr. Ryan said that I might have a bump in my nose," she started telling him. "She gave me the name of a plastic surgeon to go for a consultation…I might get a nose job."

Xander glanced out of the corner of his eye at her excitement at the prospect. "Anything else?" he shrugged, glad that her nose was going to be alright, and she had been apparently, administered some sort of pain killers, after he had left. He pulled into the Walgreen's and Buffy hopped out of the car without answering him.

He didn't have much choice in the matter so he watched her walk into the drug store and sat in silence. He didn't like this. He couldn't read her. She was either happy because she wasn't pregnant or rhetorically silent because she was and still processing…but either was there had to be drugs involved because the almost half grin thing was coming off more creepy, than its usual, adorably sexy.

Xander watched Buffy slide back into the passenger side of the car and toss her prescription bags into the back seat. He counted three separate bags when they flew past his shoulder; more than he had ever seen or known Buffy to require in the past.

"I hate the medical profession," she huffed abstractly while slamming her door shut. "You go to them for a minor bruise…"

"A broken nose," Xander corrected with a shrug and ignored her glare.

"And then they hop you up on medications." Buffy folded her arms over her stomach. "Then," she continued just when Xander was about to speak again, "they run all these tests on you just so they can call you the next week and say 'you've got a tumor'."

She was fixated with her hands while she recited her bitter diatribe, and Xander instinctively reached for one. He took it in his and squeezed gently by way of support. Buffy had never liked hospitals as long as he knew her, and oddly enough, he knew that der Kinderstod monster that she had killed years back was the reason for it. But, now, her discomfort was born of not trusting that whole system.

She had watched her mother go in there with a headache, and then seen her dead in front of her face a month later, after they had ensured her that she would be alright. There was no faith there, and Xander understood that.

Buffy smiled softly at the sight of their joined hands and cleared her throat. "Thank you."

"Anytime," Xander cocked a half smile and shrugged dismissively. "That's what you got me for."

Buffy sighed deeply and pulled her bottom lip into her mouth. He deserved to know what she had learned, and it wasn't fair for her to be so afraid to say it. She hadn't had any fear when she was doing it…when they were doing it...

Xander was still holding her hand in one of his while he turned onto their street.

"Xander," she beckoned softly and he 'hmmed' in response. She assumed that he was waiting for her cues and downplaying his own nervous frantic energy in favor of making her feel as comfortable as possible. Xander always tried to do that for her – he always tried to put her first regardless of what was fair to him. She squeezed his damp hand in both of hers now and felt him shaking slightly. He must know what was coming and she felt the car pick up speed a little…an unconscious urge to get to the destination and get out.

She knew that it was a common reaction. She had felt it at the doctor's office. Well, the 'get out' response mixed with a little 'I'll kill him if I can't fit into that dress' irritation. But she knew and took comfort in the fact that Xander wouldn't act on it drastically. Xander would always be there for the simple fact that she was his Buffy. She cleared her throat again and nodded in resolution. Her voice was just barely a whisper and she almost couldn't hear it herself, but she knew that she had, in fact, spoken when Xander stopped the car just before turning into their driveway. "I'm…we're," she nodded tightly with her correction. "We're going to have a baby…"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The End