First off I would like to thank everyone that read and reviewed the last chapter—even those who didn't like it.
Now, I am sorry for how long it has taken me to update. All I can say is that life happens. I had a few personal things going on, and a minor family health crisis to deal with. Things have quieted down a bit, so I am confident that it won't be such a wait for the next chapter.
One last thing, I am thrilled to announce that some wonderful, unknown, person out there has nominated this fic(and me) at the Absence of Light awards on LJ. Yay! There are a lot of great fics nominated so you might want to check it out. Voting is open now!
absence-oflight DOT livejournal DOT com
Okay, I'll shut up now and let you read the chapter. Hope you like it. As always, let me know what you think.
Sleep eluded Willow that night. Every time she closed her eyes she was assaulted by images of ugly, slimy creatures bursting out of her stomach. She was going to kill Xander for making her watch Alien so many times. Finally, giving up on rest, Willow got out of bed and went to the bathroom. She stared hard at her reflection for a moment.
It was funny, no matter how far she had come, no matter how much power she now possessed, sometimes when she looked in the mirror she still saw that same scrawny, geeky little girl that all the other girls teased and none of the boys ever looked twice at—heck, most never even looked once. That girl had been too timid to speak up for herself, to fight back. How could she be a mother?
A now all too familiar sense of nausea churned in Willow's stomach. Honestly, she didn't know why it was called morning sickness when it happened all the time. That was just false advertising in her put a hand to her belly and waited a moment to see if she was going to be sick, but the feeling passed for the most part. She filled up the glass by the sink and took a drink of water. Then, slowly Willow lifted up her shirt to expose her midriff. She ran her hand over the expanse of porcelain skin and turned sideways. As her hand came to rest on the lower part of her abdomen, she imagined she noticed just the slightest swell. She laid her other hand on the spot, her shirt dropping, and looked down.
Willow hated this feeling of not knowing what was inside of her. After leaving Angel at the mansion, Willow had made a pit stop at the Magic Box before heading back to the Summer's house. She had spent over two hours pouring over books, researching as much as she could about different types of mystical pregnancies. A lot of the relevant passages she found came complete with illustrations. The pictures she'd seen certainly hadn't helped Willow's sleeping situation.
Still, as terrifying as those images had been, the thought of having some kind of demon growing inside of her wasn't what scared her the most. She was even more frightened at the prospect of it being a normal human child. Demons she knew how to deal with, but, kids...that was different story.
Not that she didn't like children. She just didn't know how to handle them. Heck, she'd never even babysat before!
Except for Dawn a couple times, but she had already been ten at the time, so she could take care of herself pretty well. Still, she had managed to keep her alive and entertained those times.
Only, I didn't. I just remember it that way, she reminded herself. Great, my only experience with taking care of a kid and it's not even real.
Willow frowned and plopped down on the toilet seat.
How am I going to do this? I don't know that first thing about raising a kid. Heck, I sometimes feel like I'm still a kid myself! I'm not sure if I can handle this. I know that there are a lot of other girls out there that deal with this kind of thing on their own all the time, but I don't think that I can be one of them.
And she wasn't even on her own.
I have Angel.
Angel who had promised that they would get through this together no matter what. And I just ran away like a coward.
Willow licked her lips, tasting the saltiness of tears. She wondered when she had started crying; she did it so often nowadays she didn't even notice it anymore.
Angel had been wonderful, all things considered. He had done his best to try and calm Willow down when she was panicking. Doing everything he could to help make her feel better, despite the fact that this all must be weighing heavily on him as well. But he set aside whatever misgivings he was having to be there for Willow. She felt horrible for the way she had bailed on him without talking things out more. It wasn't like her to just run away. But, she didn't completely feel like herself at the moment; her entire life was upside down. She had only just begun to come to terms with the fact that she was in love with her best friends supposed 'soul mate', and now this. She was just having way too many life altering changes all at once.
It was making her crazy.
As justifiable as her freaking out may be right now, she still felt bad for how she left things with Angel. After all, this was pretty unlife altering for him too. It was doubtful he'd ever pictured himself in this situation. He probably needed someone to help him make sense of things as badly as Willow did.
He was right, we have to do this together.
Willow was uncertain about a lot of things at the moment, but one thing she knew was that she didn't want to lose Angel. Willow stood up and splashed some water on her face, washing away the tears, and went to get dressed.
Willow was careful as she pulled the back door shut behind her; she had enough practice by now to know how to close it without making a sound.
Willow gasped and jumped back from the steps as suddenly a pair of black boots were dangling in front of her. A second later a bleached blond vampire dropped out of the tree, and the scream Willow had been holding in her lungs dissipated.
"Hey!" Spike said, lurching back. Apparently he was as surprised to see Willow as she was to see him. "Oh, Red, 's you. What're you doin' out here so late?"
Willow stared at him wide-eyed for a moment, still collecting herself. "What am I doing?" she finally managed. "What were you doing up that tree?"
"What tree?" Spike said with feigned ignorance. "I wasn't up any tree."
"The one you just dropped out of."
"Oh. Saw that did you?"
"Uh-huh," Willow said. "Not that I can't guess why you were sneaking around in the tree that just happens to be right outside of Buffy's bedroom."
Spike's eyebrows rose at the slight cattishness in Willow's tone. "And just where exactly is it that you are off to this time of night? Off to have a late night rendezvous with your mystery bloke?" Spike smiled at the flash of surprise in Willow's eyes. "Yeah, that's right, I know all about your extracurriculars. Looks like little Red has been an awfully bad girl. That's a right crap thing you did to poor ol' Glinda."
Willow gaped. "Are you kidding me? Is William the Bloody really trying to take the moral high ground with me? Have I stooped that low?" The questions were more to herself, but Spike responded anyway.
"Oi, now I admit I've done some evil things in my time—hell, I'll boast about 'em—but, adultery is one seven deadly I never committed. I was completely faithful to Drusilla for over a century. Too bad the crazy bitch couldn't keep it in her pants as well," he added bitterly. "You remember how I told you about that Chaos demon I found her with?"
"You mean the one you told me about that time that you kidnapped me and Xander and threatened to kill both of us if I didn't do a love spell to get the crazy woman that broke your heart to come back to you? Yeah, I seem to recall something about that."
"Hey, you're not still sore about that, are you?" Spike asked. "Thought we moved on. Let bygones be bygones and all that."
"Well you're the one that brought it up," Willow retorted. "And you were the one getting all high and mighty with me. I just thought you should be reminded of some of your bads."
"Fair enough," Spike replied, padding his jacket in search of his cigarettes. Locating them, he took out the pack and popped one in his mouth and lit up. "Look, I'm the last person to judge anyone. Like you said, I ain't got no room to be casting any stones. All I'm sayin' is, I can empathize with the good witch. I've been there, yeah. She's gotta be feeling like she's had her heart ripped right outta her chest."
"I didn't mean to hurt her," Willow defended. "It wasn't like I planned this. It just happened!"
Spike took a pull from his cigarette and slowly blew out the smoke. He felt annoyed at the twinge of guilt in his gut caused by the tortured look his words put on the witch's face. Rolling his eyes at himself, he said, "I know that. You don't have a malicious bone in your body. All I can say is, I hope that this tosser, whoever he is, is worth all the pain you caused. And the pain you're going to cause."
Willow hugged herself, thinking about what Spike was saying. "I think he is," she murmured after a moment. "No. He definitely is. He's worth it."
Spike sighed, tossing his spent cigarette on the ground and stamping it out. "All right then. As long as you're getting yours, that's what I say. Congrats. I'm happy for you." Willow's brows rose in suspicion at that. "Well, all right, so I don't really give a toss. 'M just tryin' to be polite," he added.
A small smirk tugged the corners of Willow's mouth. "Thanks, Spike," she said. "This actually kinda helped me. I can see why..." She was about to say she could see why Buffy was with him, but caught herself.
"What's that, pet?"
Willow shook her head. "Nothing. Never mind."
Spike scrutinized her through narrowed eyes for a second, but then just shrugged. "So, you need an escort to get to where you're goin'? All kinds of nasties about out there."
"Uh... I think I'll be okay," Willow said quickly. If Spike walked her to the mansion, then he would definitely figure out who she was meeting. "But, thanks though."
Spike shrugged again. Willow thought he was going to leave, but he stayed there for a moment, just staring at her. But, not at her face. His eyes were directed on some lower part of her. For a panicked moment Willow thought he was looking at her belly.
Oh no! Can he hear the baby, or whatever it is? Angel had. But, then again, he had had his ear pressed right up against her stomach at the time. But, maybe Spike had better hearing; he was younger after all.
"W-what are you looking at?" Willow asked, nervous.
Spike shook his head. " 's nothin'. Just... And don't take this the wrong way or anything, pet, but... have your breast gotten bigger?"
Willow gasped, eyes bugging. She swiftly crossed her arms over her chest and gave Spike a dirty look. "Good night, Spike," she said in a clipped tone.
Spike smirked. "Night, Red. Have a good time."
Willow shook her head, annoyed, as she watched the vampire saunter away. Once his form disappeared into the darkness, Willow dropped her arms and looked down at her chest.
Yikes! How the heck did I miss those babies?
Angel was lying in bed. Not sleeping, but thinking. Since originally gaining his soul back over a century ago, introspection had been one of Angel's main pastimes. He had more on his mind than ever now.
Willow was pregnant. He was still awed by the reality of that. He knew Willow had her worries about this being a mystical pregnancy, but for some reason, Angel thought that the baby she was carrying was human. He had felt something when he heard that heartbeat—and he was sure it was a heartbeat—something had shifted inside of him at the sound.
He was going to be a father.
Angel had never really thought himself father material even when he was human; he had been nothing but a useless, lousy drunk then. He was more responsible now than his human counterpart, but was he any more fit?
Angel didn't have the answer to that question, and even if he did, it had to wait. His thoughts were interrupted, his eyes flashing open, as he vampiric senses picked up on someone entering the mansion. His first instinct was to jump out of bed and take out the threat. He bolted upright, but before his feet even touched the floor, he registered the scent.
He relaxed, allowing his body to ease back against the headboard and waited for her to come to him.
It was dark in the mansion, Willow had thought about conjuring up a light ball or something to help her see better, but the moon was big and there was enough light coming in from the windows so that she could make it down the hallway to Angel's bedroom.
She lifted her hand to knock, but before she could Angel's voice filtered out from the crack in the door.
Willow pushed the door the rest of the way open and poked her head in. She couldn't really see anything in the bedroom; the windows were covered with thick curtains to protect Angel when the sun rose.
"Um, hey," she said in the general direction of the bed. "Did I wake you? I'm sorry. I didn't want to bother you."
"Don't be ridiculous," Angel said, dismissing her apology. "You couldn't bother me."
Willow smiled. "Uh, Angel?"
"Do you think you could turn on a light or something. I can't really see you and I have something to say to you. I'd like to say it to your face."
"Oh. Right." Angel sometimes forgot that others might not have his keen night vision. He reached over and clicked on the lamp on the bedside table.
The light was soft, so Willow's eyes didn't feel assaulted by the sudden illumination, but she still had to blink a few times to adjust them. When she could see clearly, Willow took in a shirtless—and maybe pant-less?—Angel sitting up on the bed and felt a flutter.
"Much better," she murmured.
Angel smirked at the slight hint of arousal he picked up from Willow, but sobered quickly when he reminded himself she had something she needed to say. He cleared his throat, his brow pulling together and asked, "Is everything okay?"
Willow shook herself. "Oh. Yeah, everything's fine. Well, you know except for the stuff that isn't fine. But, other than that, fine."
"So what is it you have to tell me?"
"That I'm sorry," Willow said. "I shouldn't have just left the way I did earlier. You were being so sweet and trying to make me feel better and I just bolted. I feel terrible."
Tears pooled in Willow's eyes causing Angel's heart to twist in his chest.
"Hey," he said gently. "Come over here." He scooted over and pulled back the blanket to clear a spot for Willow on the bed.
Willow sniffed and practically sprinted over to him. Angel wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close, resting her head on his chest; feeling the warm, wetness of her tears on his skin.
He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "You don't have anything to be sorry for, Willow," he assured. "You were scared. It's perfectly understandable. You have a lot to deal with."
Willow sat back a little and looked up at Angel. "Yeah, but I'm not the only one. You're dealing with this stuff too. It has just as much to do with you as it does me. And you're not freaking out."
"Well, that's not entirely true," Angel said. "I think I am every bit as freaked out as you are, I just have more practice internalising my emotions."
"Really? You're scared too?"
"Terrified," Angel said. "But, I have faith that we'll get through this. As long as we stick together."
Willow gave him a watery smile. "You're right. We just have to stick together." She lifted herself up and placed a light kiss to Angel's lips, then laid her head back down on his chest.
They were quiet for awhile, just holding each other, Angel running his fingers soothingly through Willow's hair.
Willow hated to break the calm she was feeling, but a question was niggling at her, making the moment less than perfect.
"Did you talk to Wesley yet?"
"I wasn't able to get a hold of him," Angel said. "I left a message for him to call me."
"You're still all right with me confiding in him, aren't you?" Angel asked.
"Yes. Of course," Willow said. "You were right about that too. We do need help. And you were right about not being able to keep it a secret for much longer too. People are already noticing changes in my body." A blush ghosted across Willow's face as she recalled Spike's comment about her growing bust line. "Still, I'm not looking forward to telling everyone, you know? I can't imagine what they'll say. Actually, I can imagine it, and it's not good."
Angel's arms tightened around her in a gentle hug. "Hey, let's not think about that right now, okay? Let's just get some rest. All of that stuff will still be there tomorrow."
Willow looked up at Angel with a wry smirk. "Are you telling me not to brood?" she shook her head. "Jeez, the world really has turned upside down."
Angel chuckled and ducked down to give Willow a quick kiss. "Good night, my love," he whispered against her lips.
"Mmm, night." She rested her head back down against Angel's chest and let her eyes slip closed.
Angel was right, all their problems would be there waiting for them in the morning.
Thank you so much for reading! I would love to know what you all think about this chapter!