"Kill phone," was the only thing on Buffy's mental to do list as its shrill ring nearly bisected her head. Unfortunately, her hand would not cooperate with her intentions of phonocide, so she settled for letting the machine pick it up and then ignoring Giles's urgent message. But the phone rang three more times and she was finally forced to answer it. Seven minutes later she was rushing to the hospital.
She was dizzy when she got to the room. She was beginning to think that she shouldn't have had that fifth drink. Giles was standing outside, pacing. Through the door, she could hear the doctors yelling.
Giles started in on the situation without reprimanding her, although she could see his disapproval of her disheveled state.
"Her name is Luciana. We're not yet sure how she slipped under our radar; Willow theorizes perhaps her age. She's twenty-six, much older than any of the other Slayers we've detected. The doctors are trying to save her, but..." He paused, taking off his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose. "She's crashed three times. The Kantar demon slashed her around the chest; she lost quite a bit of blood and her heart is failing. But they managed to get the baby out." Buffy stared at him, trying to process what he was saying. He gestured down the hall. "It's a girl. She was only two weeks early, so she isn't considered premature."
"What do we do about her?" Buffy asked, nodding toward the room, wondering if she sounded callous and dispassionate, and then laughing inside because after all she had seen, she was.
"I suppose we wait. But I have to tell you, Buffy, it doesn't look good. She was trying to get to us. They found a business card on her so they called me. I've been through her diary-"
"I know, Buffy!" he snapped, and then subsided, laboring to calm down. "I would never have pried if I didn't think it was necessary. Luciana wrote in her diary nearly every day. She most definitely got her strength from Willow's spell; the dates match up. When she was about four months pregnant, demons started tracking her. They attacked her family. They killed almost everyone she knew, anyone who might try to protect her. She and her husband went on the run. He was killed about a month ago in Venice, right after someone told them where to find us, that we might help."
Buffy shoved the dying woman in the hospital room (my fault, my fault) out of her mind. "And what about the baby? What will happen to her?"
"The hospital will enter her into the social services system and she will be put up for adoption. Don't worry, Buffy. Babies have a very high chance of being adopted. She's a beautiful girl and she will grow up with a family that loves her."
"We can't know that," slipped out of Buffy's mouth.
The response was obviously inappropriate; Giles looked at her oddly. "No. No, I suppose we can't."
"Can I see her?"
The monks had planted memories that felt real. Buffy could remember holding Dawn, a chunky, bald, red-faced, squalling baby who smelled of diaper cream. Luciana's baby could not have been more different: she was creamy-skinned with sharp, birdlike bones. She had dark hair and dark eyes and she stared silently upward, as if searching for constellations in Buffy's face. A future, a whole lifespan, a human eternity looked up from the cuddle of blankets.
"I want her." She unfocused from the baby to look up at Giles so he would know she was serious. "Whatever it takes, Giles. I mean it. I want this baby."