Dealing Life
Lady Starlight - July 19 2001

"Why are we doing this again?" Spike asked as they walked up the stairs to Anya and Xanderís apartment.

"Because itís their first baby, Xander has to be out of town for a few days, and itís our TURN!" Buffy said. "Willow and Tara stayed last night, Dawn and Jason are staying tomorrow night. How many times do I have to explain this to you?"

After Buffy knocked on the door, Anya called out for them to come in.

"Iím all comfortable here on the couch, and Iím not getting up until I have to pee," she explained.

"I can see your point." Spike deadpanned. Buffy smacked him in the back of the head and told him to be polite.

Anya pointed to a stack of board games beside the coffee table. "Pick one. We played Clue last night, so Iím kind of sick of it, but any other should be OK." As she started to struggle up out of the couch, Spike walked over and helped her up. "Thanks." She smiled at him as she started her slow waddle to the bathroom.

"That was nice of you. Whatís wrong?"

"You know how I hate to see a beached whale in pain." They snickered companionably.

"I HEARD THAT!" Anya yelled from the bathroom.

They were about halfway through their Monopoly game when the lights went out. Spike stepped out onto the balcony, both to have a quick cigarette and to check the extent of the power outage. He picked up the phone on the way out. "No dial tone, looks like everythingís out," he called softly. He looked up at the stars as he smoked, remembering Druís long harangues about naming them.

Buffy was lighting candles so they could continue playing. "Hey, Monopoly by candlelight. Thatís gotta give me an edge, right?"

They had just started again when Anya exclaimed, "Oh, Shit! I knew I shouldnít have tried to wait to go pee. Iím sick of being pregnant!"

Spikeís nostrils flared as he inhaled. "Well, youíre not going to be for very much longer. I think your water just broke."

"Oh. I thought they were just those false contractions, not the real thing." Anya said in a quiet voice.

"How far apart are they?"

"About a minute, now."

Buffy stood up. "Weíve got to get help. OK, Iíve got a plan." She grabbed her jacket and sprinted for the door. "Spike, you stay here. Iíll go get help."

"Some bloody plan, you coward! Get back here!"

Anya grabbed his hand. "Iím scared. What if thingsÖdonít go well?"

He lifted her gingerly off the couch, frantically trying to recall that PBS thing heíd watched on home births once while waiting for Passions to be on. "Itíll be OK, Anya. Weíll get through this."

He put her down on the bed and found clean sheets and towels. After grabbing a garbage bag from the kitchen, he washed his hands well and went back to her. She was panting, and in obvious pain.

"Right, um, donít take shallow breaths or youíll pass out." He was trying to stay calm for her sake, but he was panicking inside. A little voice kept telling him, "Just a little longer, and you can punch Buffy out, the chipíll go off, and you can pass out then."

"And that would be bad, how exactly?"

"Just try to breathe in, hold, and breathe out."

"It hurts! Make it stop. Ohhh, I think I want to push." Their eyes met and locked. "Youíve got to do this. Thereís no one else. Please help me."

He gently lifted her dress over her knees, pushing them up as he did so. "If you feel like pushing, take a deep breath, hold it and push." He was amazed at the effort she put out. "Anya! Stop! I can see the head." She fell back against the pillows for a second, but pushed herself up and tried again.

"Uhhnng!"

Spike cupped the small head in his hands. He turned it gingerly towards Anyaís thigh, like the midwife had done. "One more, Anya. You can do it."

With a last scream of pain, the baby lay cradled in Spikeís hands. "Itís a girl, Anya. Congratulations." After wrapping her in a clean sheet, he laid the tiny infant on Anyaís stomach. He could hear the frantic heartbeat and rapid breaths of the baby as he did so. He spread the garbage bag out. "Anya, love, Iím sorry, but youíve got to deliver the afterbirth. One more push." He pushed gently down on her stomach, trying not to jostle the baby. "Good, thatís got it."

He placed the unwieldy bundle in Anyaís arms. "Sheís beautiful, isnít she? Thank you, Spike." Tears were forming in her eyes. She lifted her eyes to his. "What was your motherís name?"

"R-Rachel." His throat was clogged with emotion.

She tilted the baby towards him. "Meet Rachel Willow Harris."

He gently stroked Rachelís cheek. "Hello, sweetheart. Gave us a bit of a scare, didnít you?"

Just then, two paramedics rushed into the apartment. Spike answered their questions, then got out of the way as they prepared to take mother and daughter to the hospital to be checked out.

Buffy struggled up the stairs just as they were bringing Anya out. She assured Anya that they would lock up, and admired the baby while she caught her breath.

She stepped into the apartment. "Spike? Spike, where are you?"

She followed the slight whiff of smoke out onto the balcony. He looked up at her, tears in his eyes. He looked down at his hands and said, "I held life tonight. Iíve dealt out so much death, but tonightÖ."

"You dealt life." Buffy said as she took his hand and pulled him up. "You did good. Iíll treat you to a drink at the Bronze."

"Make it lots of drinks, and youíre on. You owe me for ducking out of here, you know."

"Donít push your luck."

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