Chapter 21 (Epilogue)
Early August 2005
She sat on the swing seat of the porch, in the shade, and fanned herself ineffectually with an old newspaper in the heat of the Californian summer.
"You sure picked a great time of the year to be pregnant," drawled Spike, as he watched her struggle to her feet before putting out a hand to help her.
"Tell me about it, I'm melting with junior inside of me. Yep my little girl is gonna be just like me, a right pain in the as..." groaned Faith. She placed a hand on her swelling belly and wiped at her dampened forehead. "You could stick B and I together as a pair of bookends right now,"
"I am sure that between your daughter and my son, we are all set for some interesting times," he grinned.
At that moment, Buffy and Angel rejoined them on the porch, the former balancing a bowl of salad on her protruding stomach before passing it to Spike to place on the picnic table.
"Spike, the burgers are supposed to be chargrilled, not charcoaled," said Buffy noticing the black smoke curling up from the barbeque.
"Oh Bugger," Spike slopped the salad bowl onto the table just as the meat caught fire.
Angel appeared by his side carrying a small fire extinguisher he had retrieved from the kitchen, a mocking smile played at the corner of his lips.
"Thank you," said Spike, sarcastically as he doused out the flames.
Spike and Angel turned back to look at their women. Both Buffy and Faith wore twin expressions of annoyance. Spike's look melted at the sight of Buffy, big with their child and only days until she was due. Just three weeks after their announcement, Faith and Angel had had one of their own. This had of course given Spike endless satisfaction and teasing opportunities for his best friend.
Spike turned to look at Angel. "I never get tired seeing you enjoy the same domestic bliss as myself,"
"Bastard," Hissed Angel under his breath.
"Like attracts like," Spike replied, walking over to Buffy and putting an arm around her.
"It's all ruined and Dad will be here soon. He drove all the way from LA for this?" asked Buffy, as she felt tears threaten to take over her.
"Now keep your hair on love, there is always Wendy's or McDonald's," He replied soothingly as he rubbed her back.
Buffy frowned at him. "Takeout burgers and fries wasn't quite the atmosphere I was going for,"
"If looks could kill I would be a dead man," said Spike.
Buffy sighed. "Sorry for being so cranky. Don't know what's wrong with me today, kinda been feeling out of sorts ever since I got up,"
"Hey tragedy averted. I found some burgers lurking in the back of the freezer," called out Dawn from the back door. "Also Dad just called, he is gonna be a little late, caught up in traffic,"
Dawn came bounding across the lawn. Her hair had grown almost to her shoulders now, and she a picture of improved health.
"How long have they been lurking in the freezer Dawnie?" asked Buffy.
"By the looks of them, since the ice age," said Faith.
"That's it, I am ordering takeout," announced Angel as he got out his cell phone.
Buffy held up her hands in defeat. "I am gonna lie down for a while, I'm tired. Do whatever," she said, rubbing at the persistent ache in her back. "Let me know when dad gets here,"
"Want me to come with you?" asked Spike.
"No, I just need a nap," she replied, giving him a quick kiss before disappearing inside the house and the welcome relief of the air conditioning.
Buffy climbed each stair as if it were an insurmountable task. She gripped the handrail tightly, with the exertion it took to reach the top and having a sudden need to go to the bathroom. She made it just in time as she sat down on the toilet, and felt a twinge in her stomach. She cried out as she gripped her sides as she felt a warm gush of fluid. She stood up shakily and made her way over to the window clutching the waistband of her maternity pants in her hands. With a bit of effort Buffy worked the window open and stuck her head out.
Spike was playing an impromptu game of football with Angel, when he looked up and noticed her distress. "What is it luv?" he called up to her.
"You packed my bag to the hospital right?" she asked.
"Yeah, last week, it's all taken care of," he assured her.
Buffy's face twisted as another pain shot through her. "Good cos we are gonna need it now,"
Spike dropped the ball. "Now, now?" he asked.
"Oh yeah," yelped Buffy.
Spike ran in the house and grabbed his car keys and ran out the front of the house and started up the car. He left it open as he ran up the stairs, two at a time.
He opened the door to the bathroom to see Buffy standing in a puddle. She looked at him and burst into tears. "My water broke," she wailed.
Spike smiled at her gently, hiding his inner tension, and put his arms around her. "C'mon let's get you to hospital and let Mother Nature take its course," he replied steering her out of the bathroom and into the bedroom so she could change herself.
Spike manoeuvred Buffy down the stairs, to be met by their guests.
Faith hugged her. "Good luck, and don't tell me how much it's gonna hurt, I don't wanna know,"
"Have you let Willow know?" asked Buffy.
"Yeah Giles is shutting up the diner as we speak," replied Faith.
Dawn took her other arm as she and Spike led her to the car.
"See you all at the hospital I guess," said Buffy as she got into the car. "Oh what about Dad?" she asked suddenly remembering.
"It's taken care off, now get your ass to the hospital," said Angel.
Spike pulled out of the driveway, and Buffy squeezed his arm, they exchanged glances.
Spike smiled at her gently. "I know it's easy for me to say from my side of the fence, but I am going to be there with you every step of the way," he reassured her.
They arrived at the hospital and Spike got a wheelchair from reception and ran back out with it.
"Panic much? Oh look the others have arrived," Said Dawn.
"Why did the bloody poof park here? It's for emergencies only," asked Spike.
Buffy, Spike and Dawn watched in interest as Angel ran from the car and returned seconds later with another wheelchair.
"Angel have you gone mad we already have one, see?" asked Spike.
"This one isn't for Buffy, guess who else wanted to get in on the act,"
"You mean…Faith too?" asked Buffy.
"Oh yeah," Angel panted as he went to his car and helped his fiancée from the vehicle.
Faith and Buffy sat side by side in their wheelchairs. Buffy arched an eyebrow at her, a grin on her face. "Trust you to wanna to steal my thunder,"
Faith smiled at her archly. "Wanna bet who has their baby first?"
"I'll place that bet, ten bucks says Faith has her baby first," called out Xander, as he arrived with Willow and Anya.
"Gee thanks for the vote of confidence Xander," said Buffy.
Willow punched him on the arm. "Hey, this is not the time for betting, they aren't a couple of horses,"
"You're on Xander," said Angel as he wheeled Faith into the hospital.
"I'll put ten on my wife here. She has never disappointed me yet," grinned Spike.
"I think I'll take that as a compliment," said Buffy. "OWWWWEEEE, how about we get me some medical attention. I need drugs,"
Spike followed Angel into the hospital with all their friends trailing behind them. Willow, Xander, Anya and Dawn all settled down in the waiting room. It was not long before they were joined by Hank.
"I'm not too late am I?" he asked Dawn, giving her a hug.
"Not even, we have been here for almost an hour and still no word," said Dawn.
Hank smiled down at his younger daughter. "These things take time honey; your sister took nearly eighteen hours before she decided to be born,"
Dawn sighed and flopped down in one of the chairs. "Guess we are here for the long haul then,"
"I 'm just going to check on Buffy," said Hank as he left the room.
"Anyone want to come with? Going to boost morale with twinkies and over brewed vending machine coffee," announced Xander.
"Sounds good to me," said Dawn eager for something to do.
Willow was left alone in the waiting room with Anya, the silence stretched out between them while Willow searched around for something to say. She looked at the door thankfully as Oz appeared through it. She got up from her seat and hugged him and they sat back down together.
"Hi Anya," Oz smiled at her.
Anya smiled back at him, and they all went back to studying to the pale blue walls of the waiting room. There were three collective sighs of relief at they heard the approaching voices of Xander and Dawn.
"Hey Oz, good to see ya man," said Xander enthusiastically.
Oz walked over to help with the coffees that were precariously balanced in the other man's hands.
Hank came back in, a reassuring smile on his face. "Mother and baby are doing just fine,"
"You mean she has had it?" asked Willow.
"Damn, that's ten bucks I will never see again," said Xander, glancing at Anya's angry expression.
"Now hold your horses, I just said she was doing fine, the baby hasn't arrived yet," said Hank.
Xander let out a sigh of relief, as the angry look on Anya's face faded.
"What about Faith?" asked Dawn.
"Faith?" asked Hank
"Yeah, she is having her baby too," said Willow.
Hank chuckled. "And they say lightening never strikes in the same place twice,"
Five Hours Later….
All that separated Faith and Buffy was a few feet of hospital room and a drawn curtain.
"All that bloody money on medical insurance and we don't even get a private room?" asked Spike.
"Yeah and we love you too," yelled Faith.
"It just seems that half of Sunnydale decided today was Labour Day," said the nurse sympathetically.
"Besides, I'm not the one with the potty mouth around here. Never knew B had such a colourful vocabulary on her," shouted Faith across the room.
Buffy gripped Spike's hand as another colourful metaphor left her lips. Angel laughed at the other couple as he held Faith's hand.
"Don't know why you are looking so smug, give me time, and I swear I will better anything that comes outta Buffy's mouth," she cried as another contraction came over her.
The curtain was pulled back and a nurse entered the room to look at Buffy. Spike stood at the nurse's side while she examined his wife.
"It can't be much longer," he commented to the nurse.
She looked at him, a slight smile on her face, used to the dozens of fathers who asked the same question almost every day. "Mr Sutton babies come when they are ready, which in your wife's case is any moment now. She is ten centimetres dilated,"
"Bloody hell," said Spike as he recalled all he had learnt at Lamaze, a few short weeks ago. He went back to his wife's side and looked at her. "Buffy it's time,"
She gripped his hand tightly. You did this to me you mother fu…arrghh, I need to push,"
"Good, come on Mrs Sutton, you can do it," encouraged the nurse.
"This is your entire fault," Buffy yelled almost crushing his hand with the strength of her grip.
"If it makes you feel better to say it…I love you," Spike smiled at her, knowing it was the only way she could vent her pain. It was killing him to see her like this, but it would soon be over, for something he could only be glad.
"Mr Sutton you might want to get down here and see this, the baby's head is crowning,"
Spike left Buffy's side for a moment. Tears glistened in his eyes as he caught the first glimpse of his child. "Come on luv just one more push and he will be here,"
"When you have squeezed something the size of a melon through something the size of a lemon, then you can tell me to hurry up," she groaned, with one more push the head was out, the hard part was over as the rest of the body followed.
The nurse put the baby onto Buffy's stomach and clamped the cord. She handed Spike a pair of scissors, he started to feel a little woozy at the sight of so much blood.
"Oh come on, your not gonna wimp out now?" asked Buffy tiredly as she held their newborn son.
"Of course not," he replied defiantly as he cut the cord.
The baby began to yell at the top of his lungs. The nurse took him away and cleaned him up a little before handing him back to Spike.
"Thank you Buffy. He is so beautiful," said Spike, in awe as he stroked his son's cheek.
"My pleasure, well the pain part wasn't pleasurable, oh it's coming out all wrong. I love you William," she said as she put her arms out for the baby. The nurse cleaned and covered Buffy up and left the new family to become acquainted with each other. Spike sat on the edge of the bed as they both marvelled over the new life they had created.
Spike chuckled. "Looks like Angel lost the bet,"
"Spike," came his friend's voice.
"Okay if I come in?" asked Angel.
"Yeah we are all decent,"
Angel pulled back the curtain and smiled at the picture they made.
"How's Faith doing?" asked Spike.
"Her contractions have faded a little; the doctor just came in to see her. I was kind of surplus to requirements for the moment,"
"Mr O'Connor?" Asked the nurse.
"Looks like it's your turn mate," grinned Spike.
The nurse spoke to Angel in hushed tones. Buffy and Spike, looked on in concern as their friend's face paled.
"Angel what is it?" asked Spike.
Angel swallowed hard, before looking at them. "It seems there is a complication. They think the baby's cord is wrapped around it's neck. They aren't taking any chances, they want to perform and emergency c-section. I have to go…"
The last they saw was Faith being sedated and her bed being wheeled off to the OR, Angel following behind her. Buffy felt the tears that had been threatening, finally spill down her cheeks.
"Spike, I knew things were too good to be true…what if Faith loses the baby?"
Spike leant down and kissed his son's head. "That's not gonna happen luv, this tale is going to have a happy ending. I'd better tell your family and friends the good news and…the bad,"
He kissed Buffy and was gone; Buffy hugged her son to her chest, thankful for the safe delivery of their child and letting up a silent prayer for the safe delivery of her friend's.
Dawn held her little nephew in her arms, Buffy's watchful eyes never leaving her sister. Dawn noticed her sister watching them and guessed her reason for it. "Geez Buffy, I am not gonna drop him," said Dawn rolling he eyes. "Some things I am clumsy with, baby nephews I am not. What is his name by the way? I can't keep calling him baby nephew," grinned Dawn, quickly handing the baby back to her sister as he begun to cry.
"Spike and I decided on Ashley, it's a good English name according to Spike. It's Ashley William Hank Summers," Said Buffy looking at her father.
Hank swallowed emotionally. "That's a big name for such a little boy,"
Buffy smiled at him. "He'll grow into it,"
Spike came back in the room.
"Any word on Faith?" asked Willow.
"Nope not yet, Angel is going out of his mind the poor guy. I better get back to him,"
"Give him our love," said Buffy, smiling sadly as her husband left.
The mood in the room fell into heavy silence as they all waited for news of their dear friend. The time seemed to drag on endlessly. Moments later Spike burst into the room, a huge grin on his face.
"Mother and baby are fine, six pounds eight ounces," Spike panted as he tried to catch his breath.
Xander jumped up in the air and yelled, earning a black look from Buffy as her son began to scream. "Oops, sorry," said Xander apologetically.
"No worries mate, we all feel the same," Spike assured him.
An hour later, Spike wheeled Buffy along the corridor to her friend's room to see her and the new baby girl. Angel was wiping away what suspiciously looked like tears. He took his daughter from Faith's arms and brought her over to Buffy.
"Aww she is beautiful, she is gonna be a heartbreaker one day," said Buffy as she touched the soft dark hair of the baby's head, gently.
"Yeah Ashley had better watch out," grinned Spike.
"Ashley?" asked Faith.
"Yeah, that's the name we decided on for our son,"
"Cool, Buffy meet Brianna. Angel tells me it's an old Celtic name that has been in his family for generations," Faith yawned tiredly.
Spike handed the baby back to Angel. "We'd better let you get some rest; it's been a big day for everyone,"
Spike took the wheelchair, and took the return journey to their room slowly. "Told you," he said smugly.
"Told me what?" asked Buffy in confusion.
"Told you our story was going to have a happy ending,"
"You never said any such thing,"
"Selective memory girl! Besides, I prefer happy beginning," smiled Spike.
"Amen to that," sighed Buffy.
A/N Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed the story, and a Happy New Year to you all.