Faith practically ran through the front door of the house, ignoring the greetings from Xander and a few young slayers as she took the stairs three at a time. Drinking that gallon of Hawaiian Punch in the car seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, she wasn’t one of those people that could pee on command. She didn’t know how Buffy had done it almost three years earlier. But now that her bladder was full and screaming for mercy, she realized that it had been a stupid idea. Didn’t most normal people take pregnancy tests in the morning anyhow?
Making her way down the long hallway with her inner thighs clenched tightly, she only barely managed not to break down the bathroom door when she realized that someone was in there. She pounded on it three times then went back to fidgeting around.
“Someone better hurry or the hallway’s gettin' flooded,” she called out.
“Then you better tell your son that tubby-time is over or find an unoccupied bathroom,” she heard Buffy reply from inside the bathroom.
Faith opened the door and peeked her head in, then stepped inside completely and closed it behind her. Jackson was busy playing away, his favorite toy train in one hand and a plastic Tyrannosaurus Rex in the other, but he still managed to look up at her and smile happily.
“Hey Choo-Choo,” Faith replied fondly, almost forgetting for a moment that she needed the toilet. “We breakin’ records tonight? Longest bath in the history of the world?”
“Yeah!” Jackson replied enthusiastically, then promptly resumed playing. The dinosaur was now riding on the train, following the rim of the bathtub like a train track.
“B?” Faith asked. She looked pleadingly over at the blonde who was sitting on the covered toilet seat, looking bored with a discarded magazine on the cupboard next to her.
“Hey, don’t blame me,” Buffy said, holding up her hands in mock surrender. “I told him it was time to get out when the water started getting cold but he told me it wasn’t time to get out until he got pruny and to add hot water like you do.”
Faith smiled and looked back at the tub, watching Jackson play, happily oblivious to the conversation they were having about him.
“He listens to everything I tell him,” she said in wonder.
Buffy stood up from the toilet seat and gave Faith a kiss on the cheek, then handed her Jackson’s favorite dinosaur-covered cotton bath towel.
“That’s because you’re his most favorite person in the world, Faith. The only person that’s gonna be able to convince him to get out of that tub is you, so hop to it.” She gave Faith a playful slap on the ass, then grabbed her magazine and headed out of the bathroom and to Jackson’s room to get his pajamas picked out.
“Fine, but ya gotta come back in two minutes to get him or I’m seriously gonna need some new pants here.”
Hearing Buffy’s short chuckle and taking it as a sign of agreement, Faith waited until she and Jackson were alone to step over to the tub. She squatted down next to it and dipped her hand in the lukewarm water, splashing it playfully at Jackson who squealed in delight. When he brought up his hands to cover his face, she could see that they were looking wrinklier than she’d normally let him get away with.
“You’re lookin a bit like a California Raisin there, Choo-Choo. What you doin’ conning your Mom into lettin ya stay in here for so long for?”
“I love tubby-time,” Jackson answered, his dark eyes focusing on Faith. He did the cute puppy look so well.
“I know you do, buddy, but it’s almost bed time now and if you get any more pruny, people are gonna start to think you’re one of those silly wrinkly puppy dogs.”
And as soon as she said the words ‘puppy dogs’, Faith knew that she’d screwed up. Jackson’s obsession – besides dinosaurs and trains, that is – was dogs. Animals of any kind, really. And his latest fascination was pretending that he was, in fact, a puppy dog.
Sure enough, Jackson let out a puppy-sized bark and waited for Faith’s reaction.
“Oh boy, that crazy dog is back again!” she said with a grin.
She reached into the tub and quickly yanked Jackson out, wrapping the towel around him as he wriggled and giggled in her arms. Giving him a quick hug to help dry some of the water off, Faith turned him upside-down with his knees over her shoulder and used her free hand to open up the bathroom door.
“Which one of you chuckleheads let the dog in the house again?” She asked loudly to nobody in particular as they stepped into the hallway, a few young slayers sticking their heads out of their rooms to witness the spectacle. “Was it Rona?” she asked as she turned Jackson to face the now laughing slayer.
“No!” Jackson said between giggles.
“How ‘bout Sam?” Faith asked as Sam stepped out of her room and gave Jackson’s bare feet a quick tickle, making him shriek with delight.
Buffy chose that moment to walk back into the hall, smiling as she saw Faith tickling a still upside-down Jackson’s tummy through the towel. She walked over to them and bent over, doing her best to angle her face so that Jackson could see her.
“Tell your mama that you’re not a doggy so she doesn’t start trying to make you sleep in the backyard again,” she said.
“I not doggy!” Jackson practically squealed, his giggles not subsiding even when Faith lifted him the right side up and handed him over to Buffy.
“Coulda fooled me,” Faith said, giving him a few last tickles. Nature, however, wasn’t going to let her keep ignoring its call. Making sure she still had the pregnancy test stashed safely in her pocket, she began walking backwards down the hallway toward the bathroom. “I just need like five minutes. Keep him occupied,” she said to Buffy.
“I’ll do my best,” Buffy answered, then lifted Jackson over her shoulder and carried him into his bedroom.
As soon as they were out of sight and the younger slayers started going back into their bedrooms, Faith turned around and all but ran into the bathroom, closing the door behind her. She reached for the box in her pocket and ripped it open, sending one of the two test sticks inside flying into the empty sink. She fished it out as she read the directions on the back again, making sure that she knew what she was doing.
Finally ready to take the test, she yanked her pants down and sighed in relief as she was finally able to empty her very full and angry bladder. The test stick was small and she had no idea if she was actually peeing on it or not, but at that point she didn’t care. She was just so happy to finally have some relief.
When all was said and done, she placed the test stick on the outside of the box while she was busy getting herself put back together. She couldn’t stop staring at the stick as the little digital hour-glass mocked her. Really, who the hell would make a possibly pregnant woman wait three minutes for test results? It was sadistic!
Just as she finished washing her hands, there was a small knock at the door. She didn’t need to ask who it was; she could feel their connection through the door.
“Is there a bun in the oven?” Buffy asked quietly. Before she could realize what was happening, Faith yanked her in the room and had her pressed against the back of the door.
“Not sure, but there’s some pee on a hand,” she joked, laughing when Buffy grimaced and tried to push her away. “Settle down, I washed. Who’s with Jack?”
“Andrew, and Jack’s not happy about it. If one of us isn’t in there in two minutes there’s gonna be a total two-year old meltdown.”
“Can’t have that,” Faith said. They both looked over at the test stick, only to find that the hour-glass was still circling around.
“Ugh, who makes a possibly pregnant woman wait three minutes for a test result?”
“That’s what I said!” They both laughed, then Faith rested her forehead against Buffy’s and they both closed their eyes. “I’m freakin out here,” she confessed, her voice barely a whisper.
“You don’t need to,” Buffy answered just as quietly, her hands coming up to hold Faith’s face in them.
“Wasn’t supposed to be me.”
“Tell that to fate.”
After a short pause, Faith pulled back and smiled at Buffy, though Buffy could see how nervous she was underneath it.
“I’m gonna go and relieve Andrew before it gets ugly in there.”
“But don’t you wanna see the results?” Buffy asked.
Faith could only grin then, the kind of grin that had Buffy tripping over her from day one, though the girl would never admit it until recently.
“You do the homework, I’ll copy yours.” She planted a quick kiss on Buffy’s lips and was out of the room before Buffy could protest.
With nothing left to do but wait, Buffy walked over to the tub and let the water out, then stashed Jackson’s toys in a basket near the sink. Luckily for them, the younger slayers had accepted that this was Jackson’s bathroom now and had resorted to using one of the other two bathrooms in the house. They’d found out the hard way that you don’t make a potty-training two-year old wait for the bathroom.
By the time she’d finished cleaning up, several minutes had passed. She turned around and looked at the test to find the hour glass gone and the results were there in broad daylight. Picking up the test stick in her hand, she smiled softly and headed out of the room to find Faith and Jackson.
When she finally reached Jackson’s room, he was already dressed in his pajamas and sitting on his dresser, trying to be still as Faith combed his hair. This was their nightly ritual; Faith would get him dressed and comb his hair up into a spiky mohawk, then Buffy would come in and comb it flat. It did manage to stick up just a little bit in the middle no matter how much Buffy tried to comb it down.
Hiding the test stick into the back pocket of her jeans, Buffy entered the room and took the comb from Faith’s hand, bumping her hip into hers playfully.
“If you keep sticking it up like that he’s gonna have a permanent mohawk.”
“Cool. Mohawk’s are wicked,” Faith replied, giving Jackson a wink.
“Wicked,” he repeated.
It took them nearly an hour to get him into bed, having to read six stories and then making one up when that wasn’t enough. Faith and Buffy knew exactly what he wanted to hear: a story about a young boy out on an adventure. A young Indiana Jones, if you will. He’d swoop in and steal an ancient artifact . . . and then ride away on his train while dodging dinosaurs.
Had they mentioned that he had an active imagination?
When they finally had him tucked in and sleeping soundly, they left his room and headed to their own, but not before Faith had to make another pit-stop in the bathroom. She wasn’t sure what they hell they put in Hawaiian Punch but she was pretty sure that her kidneys hated her at the moment.
She walked slowly back to their room, almost scared to enter. Buffy knew whether she was pregnant or not, and now she was going to have to face that news. Honestly, the thought of having another baby in their lives didn’t scare her. After all, they’d decided to let fate take its course the night of Jackson’s birthday party when they were under the spell again. She just never imagined that fate would throw them a curveball in the form of her being the pregnant one this time around.
Faith wasn’t sure she could handle it, to be honest.
Hesitating outside the room for just a moment, she finally opened the door and stepped inside to find Buffy . . . missing in action? She looked behind the door, then stepped over to their private bathroom and peeked inside. Where the hell had Buffy gone? Looking around suspiciously, she froze completely when she saw the test stick mocking her in all of its pregnancy knowing glory from the nightstand. She didn’t want to look. Really, she didn’t. Still, she found herself standing up on her tip-toes, trying to read it from across the room.
The stick was face-down though, so she had to take a few steps toward it. Biting on her bottom lip, she finally reached out, ready to find out the response, when Buffy breezed into the room behind her and made her jump.
“Ya scared me.”
“Sorry,” Buffy said, a chipper tone in her voice as she maneuvered a large plastic blue tote down onto a pile of several other totes already in the room.
While this particular tote held a mystery to Faith, she knew what was in all of the others. Clothes, toys, pictures, shoes – everything that they would need to move to the house they were in the process of buying. It would be at least another month or two before they could move in, but Buffy was big on being prepared.
“Kinda late to be packing, ya think?” Faith asked, wondering why Buffy wasn’t bringing up the test stick.
“Not too late. We’ve packed later than this.”
After a few moments of suspicious silence, Faith raised her eyebrows expectantly. “You gonna tell me what’s in the tote?” She approached the leather armchair that Buffy was leaning against – Faith and Jackson’s favorite chair to play video games on – and waited for Buffy to elaborate.
“Just some things we’re going to need to take to the new house,” Buffy said evasively.
“Such as?” Faith hedged.
And Buffy couldn’t hold it back any longer. Her smile was radiant as she stepped into Faith’s arms and wrapped her arms around the girl, hugging her tightly.
“My old maternity clothes.”
There was a long pause before Faith replied, “Are you positive?”
“Well, the test is,” Buffy said, pulling back to see a hesitant look on Faith’s face. “We’ll have to make an appointment with a doctor though to be sure. We can do that tomorrow if you want.”
Faith nodded, her gaze at some far off place as she ran her hands down Buffy’s arms and then flopped down onto the armchair. The deep breath she took wasn’t lost on Buffy, who sat down on her lap and turned so she could look into her eyes. She ran a soft hand over the side of Faith’s face, waiting for the girl to say something. She was concerned, but she didn’t want to push Faith. The one thing she’d learned about her after all this time is that she’ll eventually say what she needs to given enough time and space. Pushing never helped.
“Did I ever tell you about Tommy?” Faith finally asked. When Buffy shook her head no, Faith continued. “I was like ten, maybe eleven years old. Dad was long gone and Ma was drinking. A lot. That’s one thing I always remember about my Ma: she always had a bottle or a glass in her hand. She tried, yunno? The booze was like a demon though. Made her a different person. Couldn’t take care of me let alone herself. That’s probably one of the reasons she never knew she was pregnant until she started showing. Guess she figured it was too late by then, that the baby was spoiled by her boozing, cos she never stopped drinking or even slowed down.”
She took a deep, shaky breath and finally looked up at Buffy, instantly finding the strength to continue in her eyes.
“I was young then, but I knew what she was doing was bad for the baby. Couldn’t stop her though; I was just a kid. Came home from school one day and she was panting and sweating and in pain and I knew that the baby was on its way. Called 911 – first of many times I had to do with her – and they took her to the hospital to deliver. It was too soon though. She was only seven and a half months along. Barely even looked pregnant, to be honest. Anyhow, the baby was born, this tiny, wrinkly little thing, and Ma didn’t even wanna look at him. He was alive though, so they made her name him.”
“Thomas. Jack’s middle name,” Buffy said, her thumb still stroking over Faith’s cheek.
“Little Tommy James. I was excited. I had plans for me and T.J. Guess life had other plans though. Crazy thing is, he coulda survived being born early. He woulda too, but he had fetal alcohol syndrome. Shoulda seen him, just this tiny little thing in an incubator, twitching away. Fought for a whole six days before he died.”
“Oh, Faith,” Buffy said, her voice soft and sympathetic as she leaned down and rested her head on Faith’s shoulder and wrapped her arms around her.
“I dunno. Guess something just kinda spooked me about the whole pregnancy thing cos I promised myself I’d never go through something like that. Never even wanted or thought about having kids ‘til we found out you were knocked up, and even then it took me a while to get used to the idea. I think the fact that you were carrying the kid kinda made it feel like it wasn’t gonna be a part of me; like it wasn’t gonna get my crappy genetics.”
Buffy lifted her head from Faith’s shoulder then and looked into her eyes, her own eyes filling with tears.
“Baby, you don’t have bad genetics. You’re a good person who happened to have crappy parents. Jackson is as much yours as he is mine, magic or none, and you know how awesome he is.”
“Yeah, but he came from you, Buffy. He’s just like you, kind and considerate and good. It’s different this time though, B. You’ve heard about my parents and you were there front and center to see the fucked up things I’ve done in the past. My body is like, this fucking dirty cesspool of badness and you want me to mmph . . .”
Her words were cut off as Buffy pressed her lips to hers, ending her emotional tirade. They kissed softly, Buffy’s hands still holding the sides of her face. When they finally broke apart, Buffy rested her forehead against Faith’s and closed her eyes, trying to collect her thoughts.
“I never want to hear you talk like that again, Faith. Nothing in the past matters. Your parents, Sunnydale . . . none of it. We live in the here and now where you’re the most amazing mother I’ve ever seen. Jackson adores you. No one takes care of him and understands him like you do. There are . . .” she paused, pulling back to look into Faith’s eyes, “there are times where I’m jealous. So jealous. And it’s silly, I know it is. That’s why I get over it. But seeing the way he looks at you and just is with you . . . I wonder what I’m doing wrong that I don’t have that with him.”
Faith’s eyes got wide, her arms tightening around Buffy.
“God B, do you know how ridiculous that sounds? He’s crazy about you. The kid just comes to me cos he knows I’m the fun one.”
“I’m fun too,” Buffy said, smiling when she saw the corner of Faith’s lips crack up in the teeniest of smiles.
“You’re great fun, baby. But you feed him broccoli and I take him to Chuck E. Cheese’s for pizza and games. You take him shopping for clothes and I take him shopping for toys. You’ve gotta keep me and him in line when I play with him cos you know we can get a bit nutty. But the way he clings to you when you hold him and the way he twirls your hair around his fingers when you rock him to sleep? B, he’s smitten with you. I’m just the fun one.”
“You play with him and spend time with him and know him better than anyone else. Most parents aren’t as devoted as you are.”
Faith shrugged like it was nothing, “That’s because he’s my best friend. I’d do anything for him.”
A soft smile appeared on Buffy’s face and she leaned in and gave Faith a soft, chaste kiss.
“And that’s why you’re an amazing mother. An amazing person.” She placed her hand on Faith’s stomach and smiled even bigger. “This little one is gonna be lucky to have someone who cares for them as much as you do.”
It took Faith a moment but she finally smiled and laid her hand over Buffy’s.
“So we’re really doin’ this then, huh.”
“Yep, and we’re gonna enjoy every minute of it. Well, except for the whole morning sickness and labor part. But hey, there’s lotsa other stuff to start looking forward to.”
She stood up from Faith’s lap and held her hand out to Faith, helping to pull her up from the squishy chair.
“Like the whole getting fat and having gas thing?” Faith asked and laughed as Buffy playfully poked her on her sides and stomach.
“I did not have gas!”
“Sure ya didn’t. You musta just been growlin’ in your sleep or something all those nights then. Loud, smelly growlin.”
Seeing the mock indignant look on Buffy’s face, she gave her a swat on the ass and made her way over to the bed, flopping down on it with the remote in her hand. She patted the bed for Buffy to join her but Buffy narrowed her eyes at her instead.
“Sure, now you want to be nice to me,” Buffy said playfully.
“Oh, I can be plenty nice,” Faith said and wriggled her eyebrows suggestively. “But not ‘til after you go and make me a nice sammich. Got a wicked craving for some ham and swiss on rye.”
“Cravings don’t kick in until you’re further along,” Buffy said matter-of-factly.
“Yunno, I see your lips moving but all I can hear are the cries of our unborn child, starving away in my bottomless pit.”
Buffy smirked, “There’s a dirty joke that could be made about that.”
“Ham sammich. Swiss cheese. Don’t be stingy with the mustard.”
Buffy could only laugh as she crossed the room and bent over to give Faith a kiss on the top of her head as the girl fiddled with the remote control.
“On rye, you said?”
Smiling, Buffy made her way over to the door and opened it just in time to find Willow there about to knock.
“Oh, hey Buff. Where ya headed?” the redhead asked.
“Kitchen. That spell of yours sure is unpredictable, Wills. I’ve gotta say though, I’m not upset that I’ll miss the aching and swelling though. And that whole childbirth thing? Maybe we should send that spell goddess a gift basket.”
Willow looked at Buffy, completely puzzled.
“Is this the part where you tell me what you’re talking about or the part where I head to the library and look for a Dictionary of Vague Buffy References?”
Buffy laughed and pulled her best friend into a tight hug.
“The spell, Wills, from the night of Jackson’s birthday party. It worked. Faith’s pregnant.” She waited for some kind of congratulations or joyous squeal, but instead she only felt hands on her shoulders pushing her back so that Willow could look at her smiling face.
“Umm, Buffy? I hate to delay any appropriate celebrating, but . . . what spell?”
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