Jackson was crouched behind the living room sofa wearing the tiny little brown leather jacket Faith had bought for him, along with the little brown fedora that Andrew had contributed to the ensemble. Andrew had said that all boys went through their Indiana Jones phase and that it was never too early for Jackson to ‘get it right’. And while Buffy said absolutely no to a leather whip, she couldn’t quite tell Jackson no when he looped a little blue jump-rope through his belt instead.
He was Indiana Jack, adventurer extraordinaire, and no treasure was safe from his grasp!
The latest treasure he was hoping to loot was a very elusive and mysterious dinosaur egg which happened to be protected by a very sly and strong Momosaurus. She’d evaded him on several occasions but he was sure that today was the day he’d be successful. The Momosaurus was very distracted and he knew that if there was ever a time to get his hands on the egg, it was now or never.
Sneaking out from behind the sofa, Jackson quickly ran over to the wall nearest the hallway and stood flat against it with his arms spread wide. He listened carefully to the sounds coming from the next room over and sure enough heard the call of the Momosaurus.
“B! We’re all outta pickles again!”
“No we’re not; I just bought a fresh jar.”
“Then where the hell is it? I checked the entire fridge!”
“Did you check behind the apple juice?”
“I’m pregnant, not blind. There are no pickles.”
Jackson was just barely peeking around the corner when he had to pull back quickly to avoid another Momosaurus who was headed toward the kitchen. He heard the unmistakable sound of the refrigerator door closing, then of a pickle jar opening with a popping sound.
“You just wanted me to open the jar for you.”
“Like I couldn’t have if I’d been able to find your secret ninja pickle jar in the first place.”
And then the squishy kissy sounds started and Jackson grimaced. No, he had no problem with the Momosauruses kissing, but he did have a problem with it when one of them had pickle breath.
Yuck, pickle breath!
It was only a few moments before he heard footsteps approaching behind him, slightly heavier and slightly slower than the ones that had passed by just a minute before. This was the Momosaurus that had the egg! Jackson quickly fumbled with his jump-rope and had it uncoiled and ready to use within seconds. He made sure to stay perfectly still against the wall as he waited for his prey to pass by.
Faith casually walked into the living room with a pickle in her hand, chewing enthusiastically as she looked around for her little buddy. When she noticed that both his jacket and hat were missing from their place on the coat rack, she knew exactly what she was dealing with. She didn’t even have time to turn around before she felt a plastic rope coil around her wrist and tug gently. She turned slowly to find Jackson standing there holding onto the other end of the rope, a proud smile on his face.
“I caught you!”
“Ya sure did,” Faith said with a smile. She brought her hand up to her mouth to have another bite of the pickle which pulled Jackson across the floor a little bit closer to her as he clung to the rope. “And what are ya gonna do now that ya caught me?”
“Steal your egg.”
“That so?” Faith asked before taking another bite of her pickle, ignoring the few drops of pickle juice that dripped onto her protruding belly.
She was just about eight and a half months along now, though one never would have guessed that. She remained slim and toned everywhere except for her obvious baby bump. Most people had guessed that she was only around seven months along. That concerned her, especially when she remembered how small her own mom had been through her second pregnancy, but Dr. Darcy had assured her again and again that both she and the baby were perfectly healthy.
And hey, the growing boobs definitely weren’t a negative.
Jackson scrunched up his face as he watched her eat the pickle so carelessly. They were at the top of the list of foods he didn’t like, right along with broccoli, green beans, peas, lettuce, and asparagus. They’d joked about his aversion to green foods until they realized it wasn’t some odd pattern; he really wouldn’t eat any green foods!
Buffy worried, of course, and went out and bought him Flintstone vitamins to take instead, but Faith didn’t think it was a big deal. She hated green foods too, and hey, she’d turned out pretty good.
“You still hatin’ on my pickles?” Faith asked.
“Smells bad,” Jackson replied.
“Yeah, but tastes awesome.”
Jackson paused and tilted his head, looking up at the pickle intently.
“Looks like a frog.”
Then it was Faith’s turn to grimace as she pulled the pickle from her mouth mid-bite and looked down at it distastefully. With a deep sigh she wrapped it in the napkin in her hand and tossed it through the living room, across the hall, and into the metal garbage bin in the kitchen with a loud thud.
“Thanks buddy. Can’t wait ‘til I get to ruin the mystery of hot dogs for ya some day,” she said playfully.
She suddenly looped her hand around and caught the rope that was still on her wrist and gave it a quick yank, tugging Jackson over to her. He bumped into her belly and bounced off, sending him staggering backwards a few steps. His giggle was infections and suddenly both he and Faith were laughing as she yanked him forward again. Jackson was ready this time though and spread his arms out, clinging tightly to her belly.
“My dinosaur egg!” he exclaimed while Faith tickled him and tried to make him loosen his grip.
Buffy happened upon the room and watched them for a few seconds before interrupting their fun.
“Ooh, are we playing Choo Choo Chaboochie and the Mysterious Dinosaur Egg again?”
Suddenly Jackson let go of Faith and looked up at Buffy, his displeasure apparent on his pouting little face. So much like Buffy when he pouted!
“I not Choo Choo Chaboochie anymore. I Indiana Jack, Ma!”
“Oh, well excuse me, Indiana Jack,” Buffy apologized, trying to sound as sincere as possible though she couldn’t hide her amused smile. “Are you at least still hunting the Mysterious Dinosaur Egg, or have we moved on to a new treasure as well?”
“Da egg’s right dere,” he answered pointing to Faith’s belly.
“Well now that you’ve found it, do you think that maybe you can hang up your jacket and hat and go get your bag, comb your hair? Elias’ mom is going to be here to pick you up soon.”
“Okay, Ma!” he yelled excitedly, then ran over to the coat rack and hung up his jacket and hat before disappearing up the stairs toward his bedroom.
It was his very first sleepover at the house of his best friend from daycare, Elias. Buffy knew that it was a bit early for sleepovers at Jackson’s age but there was a big slaying mission tonight and she knew there was a good chance she’d be gone until very late. While Faith was more than capable of watching and caring for Jackson, picking him up was awkward with her belly and the doctor had advised her against it this late in the pregnancy.
Besides, it was good for Faith to stay as rested and relaxed as she could at this point and Buffy remembered that from when she was pregnant with Jack.
Faith walked over to the sofa and slouched down onto it with a scowl on her face, her arms crossed over her chest.
“Don’t know why you’re sending him off, B. It’s not like he’s difficult to take care of. Give the kid a juicebox and the remote control and he’s set for the night. I can totally handle that.”
“True, but you know as well as I do that if I let him stay alone here with you, the two of you will eat junk food and watch movies until you both pass out on the couch, and then you’re gonna have to carry him upstairs to his bed.”
“There’s a perfectly good solution for that,” Faith said. At Buffy’s raised eyebrow she continued, “We need to get him a TV for his room.”
“Absolutely not,” Buffy said as she sat down on the couch next to Faith and made herself comfortable.
“You’re such a stick in the mud,” Faith grumbled but lifted her arm so Buffy could get closer to her.
“You love it.”
“Yeah, yeah. But still, B. I’m still not sure about this whole sleepover deal. I mean, what if he uses magic? And he’s too young to be hangin’ out with other kids. If they corrupt my little man they’re gonna get a quick lesson on why ya never piss off a slayer.”
Buffy scoffed and sat forward, looking at Faith accusingly.
“Weren’t you the one who taught him to burp his name last week?”
Faith’s only response was complete silence as she bit on her lower lip, followed by a round of raucous laughter when she couldn’t keep it inside any longer.
“Oh come on, B, even you hafta admit that ya nearly pissed yourself laughing when he did it in front of Giles. Seriously, never seen a grown man look so shocked in my entire life.”
“Yeah, that was just great, Faith. Definitely a moment to add to his memory book, huh.” She was obviously being sarcastic but it was completely lost on Faith who reached over the arm of the sofa and pulled Jackson’s memory book out.
“Already did it,” Faith answered proudly, flipping to the page that was commemorated with a short handwritten passage along with a photo of Jackson chugging down a can of Pepsi that someone had secretly given him.
“Well that’s just . . . wonderful,” Buffy replied with a frown. That page was supposed to be saved for his first sleepover! “And you don’t have to worry about him using magic. Willow’s been working with him for months now. He’s got his craft under control and he knows better now than to practice it without the proper supervision.”
“Well yeah, but what if he’s like me and likes to show off for his little buddies? I was seventeen and still tryin’ to impress you when I first met ya. What if he decides to show Elias how to fly across the room?”
The thought had never occurred to Buffy and a look of doubt suddenly crossed her face but she didn’t have long to ponder it. They were interrupted by the doorbell and a short knock at the front door.
“That’ll be Wendy and Elias. It’ll be okay, Faith. He’s a good boy,” Buffy said as she easily stood up and began to make her way to the door. She stopped when she heard brief struggling and turned around to see Faith trying her best to get up from their sofa.
“Uh, a little help?”
Buffy put her hand over her mouth to hide her smile but nodded and walked back, offering Faith two hands to help pull her up. Faith flew up easily enough and quickly tried to regain her cool, smoothing out the non-existent wrinkles in her shirt.
They made their way to the hallway just in time to hear little feet pattering down the carpeted stairs. Jackson had the little black leather backpack Faith bought and packed for him over his shoulder and he was smiling so big. The kid was excited like it was Christmas time!
“Jackson, you remember the rules, right buddy?” Faith asked as she got down on one knee to be at eye level with him.
“No magic, no spells, ‘n no bein’ bad,” he repeated the words that had obviously been told to him over and over again.
“And if anything bad happens?” Buffy asked.
“Protect myself ‘n call Auntie Willow.”
Faith looked up at Buffy who merely nodded down at her. She looked back at Jackson and gave his shoulder a squeeze before standing up with a little help from Buffy and walking over to the door. Jackson was immediately at their side as they opened the door and greeted Wendy and Elias, who was looking equally as excited as Jackson.
What should have been a thirty second conversation turned into ten minutes with a nervous Buffy and Faith going over all of Jackson’s likes, dislikes, and no-no’s. No candy before bed. No candy after bed. Umm, pretty much no candy at any time unless strictly supervised. He’d apparently inherited Dawn’s propensity to spazz after just the tiniest bit of sugar.
A dozen hugs and kisses later, Jackson was waving to Buffy and Faith from the back seat of Wendy’s minivan as it pulled out of the driveway and down the street.
“Why do I feel like I just tossed him out into the real world?” Faith asked.
“Because we did,” Buffy answered, wrapping her arm around Faith’s back. “But he’ll be back tomorrow and you can teach him more crude habits then.”
“Only feels right,” Faith said after a moment. “If he’s gonna pick up a bad habit, it sure as hell better be from me.”
She wrapped her arm around Buffy and they made their way into the house, closing the door behind them. The house had never felt so quiet or empty and they both seemed at a loss for what to do. Buffy had to leave to meet at the academy in just under an hour so they decided to spend a bit of time together, just relaxing on the sofa and talking like grown ups.
“Yeah right, get bent!”
“Faith, Lesley is a perfectly nice name.”
“Yeah, if you’re a lesbian. Lesley the Lezzie! No way am I puttin’ her through that.”
And just like their last few conversations, this one had turned into a baby naming debate. Faith was resting back with her legs over Buffy while Buffy rubbed her sock-covered feet.
“Fine, if you’re so good at this, you pick one.” She gave Faith’s big toe a tweak and Faith nearly jumped off the couch.
“Ow! Jesus, that hurt, ya spousal abuser! Ya want me to pick out a name? Wicked. Harley it is.”
“Ugh! Faith, she’s a little girl, not a motorcycle! Choose again.”
“Oh, barf, Faith! Barf!”
“You think you’re so smart, you do better.”
“Easily. Johanna.” At Faith’s gagging noise she tried again. “Carrie.”
“That’s horrible! That’s like the Sex and The City chick. No way is any kid of mine walking around named after a tutu-wearing sex-talking girly chick.”
Buffy could only growl in frustration at Faith’s stubbornness. She gave her toe another tug, smiling when the girl nearly jumped off of the couch again. The baby-naming madness needed to stop!
“Okay, Faith. Fine. We’re gonna have to agree to disagree on this one, and we’ll just call her Jellybean until she’s all old and wrinkled and can choose a name of her own liking.”
There was a short pause before Faith relaxed against the cushions and shrugged.
“I can live with that.”
And by that point, there was nothing Buffy could do other than lean over and give Faith a kiss, smiling against her lips.
“You’re lucky I’m kinda crazy about you, you know,” she said as they rested their foreheads together.
“Same goes for you. But if ya tug my toe again, swear to god I’m callin’ Dr. Phil and reportin’ your ass.”
Buffy laughed and moved so that she was resting back with Faith against the arm of the sofa, both girls talking quietly and kissing softly until it was time for Buffy to get ready to leave. Faith hadn’t wanted her to go; she wasn’t too keen these days on slaying gigs that involved anything more than a basic patrol. Not only was Cleveland bigger than Sunnydale but it was also fairly more active as far as Hellmouths went. They’d come up against dozens of doom-and-gloom apocalypse breeders over the last few years, which meant that these big missions always tended to be a little bit scary.
And what scared Faith most of all was that she couldn’t be there to back Buffy up. That there would come a time when Buffy was so busy protecting someone else that she’d leave herself open to harm or worse. That was something that always made Faith tense and nervous during the big missions.
She couldn’t lose Buffy, no matter what.
So after the world’s tightest yet non-baby-smooshing hug and what felt like a thousand kisses and whispered words of assurance, Buffy made her way to the door with her weapon bag in hand and Faith in tow behind her. They got to the door and Buffy hugged Faith one more time before kissing her shoulder.
“Listen, I know you’re not gonna like it but . . . I know how tense you get when I’m out on missions. I called Willow while I was upstairs and I made some special arrangements.”
Faith pulled back and looked at her skeptically.
“What kind of special arrangements are we talkin’?”
And with perfect timing, someone began to knock on the other side of the door. Faith raised an eyebrow as Buffy smiled guiltily and moved to open the door. When the blonde stepped out of the way, she revealed an excited Andrew who was holding some kind of a folding table under one arm and a basket full of oils and lotions under the other.
“Did someone order a massage?”
Faith’s eyes widened comically as she looked over at Buffy who was already running out of the door past Andrew.
“Just enjoy it!” Buffy shouted from the driveway. “I love you!”
Andrew stood awkwardly on the patio as he waited for Faith to greet him inside. Faith eyed him up and down, along with the contents of the basket that was starting to slip from under his arm. She reached out and took it from him, then stepped to the side so that he could maneuver inside with the table.
“I really think you’re going to enjoy this,” Andrew said. “I got some books from the library a few weeks ago and I’ve been dying to try it out. Buffy suggested I wait until you were a little less likely to chase me away or beat me though.” Suddenly he stopped moving and turned to Faith with a worried frown on his face. “You’re not going to beat me, are you?”
While it had crossed Faith’s mind when she saw one of the oils labeled Sensual Sandalwood in his basket, she realized that this wasn’t his idea and that he’d been asked to do it as a favor. Sighing loudly, she closed the door behind them and followed him into the living room.
“No, but if this starts to get any kind of sexy, someone’s gonna lose a hand and it ain’t gonna be me.”
It took Andrew about half an hour to set up the living room, but only because he didn’t stop with the table and the oils. There were silk scarves over the lamp shades and the stereo was playing what sounded like rain forest sounds with a pan-flute thrown in for good measure.
Oh yeah, this was exactly how Faith thought she’d be spending her Saturday night. She laughed and shook her head as she made her way into the room with only a bed sheet wrapped around herself. My how much things had changed since Sunnydale. Her only regret was that she hadn’t locked the door while she was changing and Andrew had gotten an eyeful of her birthday suit when he came up to check on her.
If he wasn’t gay before, he certainly was now.
She wondered where he’d run off to when she finally saw him on the other side of the living room lighting some kind of stinky incense stick. It smelled a little bit like a cross between marijuana and lavender, which was actually a bit more disturbing than it was soothing.
“Is all of this really necessary?” she asked. “I mean, it’s not that I don’t appreciate the effort and all but you can probably just crack me and be on your merry way.”
“There’s no cracking involved. Just rubbing, and pushing, and a little bit more rubbing.”
“And you’re like some kinda expert rubber, right?” Faith asked, snorting unceremoniously at her own joke.
“Yes, I am. I’m rubber, and you’re glue; whatever you call me . . .” his voice trailed off when he saw the glare she was giving him, “. . . is probably true and I should just shut up and get to work.”
Making her way over to the portable massage table, Faith checked out its sturdiness before taking a seat on the end. She was actually pretty impressed; she wasn’t sure how the massage would work with her belly in the way but she quickly came to realize that the table had the center cut out so that she could lay without smooshing the jellybean.
“So what, I just strip down and you get to ogle the goodies and fondle me? Pretty sure that deal is sweeter for you than it is for me.”
Andrew walked back over to the table and placed several bottles of the scented oil on it for her to choose from.
“You can keep the sheet on and I’ll just move it down as I need to. If you want me to work on your calves and hamstrings, we’ll have to maneuver a bit but I’m sure we can . . .”
“Hell yeah, that’s what I’m talking about,” Faith said. “The legs are a must-do. They get kinda tired carryin’ around an extra twenty-pounds that’s not a kickass weapon of some kind.”
She unscrewed the tops of a few bottles of oil and sniffed them until she found a scent that pleased her. Making sure all of the caps were closed to avoid spilling on the carpet, she handed the bottle of Blackberry Amber oil to Andrew and quickly slipped the sheet off her front and lay down on the table. It was left covering only her lower half which gave Andrew a starting place.
She felt soft hands moving her hair over her shoulders, then a few drops of the warm oil pooling onto her back.
A soft groan echoed throughout the room as Andrew finally rested his hands on her back and began to rub the oil into her soft skin. Faith immediately relaxed, turning into a big pile of squishy happiness as he expertly worked her weary muscles.
“Nyughhhhhh,” Faith moaned as she exhaled. Andrew’s fingers were doing some kind of rubby-pushy thing on her spine and she was pretty sure that her brain was starting to leak out of her head. “I think I have to marry you, dude.”
“I don’t think Buffy would appreciate that,” he said, his smug smile going unnoticed by the prone girl.
“She can deal.”
He continued to work her back and shoulders, careful to avoid certain pressure points while he did. When Faith gave him the go-ahead to continue lower, he adjusted the sheet and exposed her legs, making sure to keep her modesty – or what little she had of it, anyhow – protected.
Faith continued to groan appreciatively as he thoroughly rubbed the backs of her thighs and calves. He even went as far as bending her legs at the knees so he could rub her shins as well. When the only area left that hadn’t been given attention were her feet, Andrew began to cover the bottom half of her body again but was stopped with a hand on his wrist.
“Aren’t you forgetting something?”
Andrew looked down and his eyes widened. “I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can rub that and feel good about myself.”
Faith looked down and realized that he was looking at her sheet-covered butt.
“What? I’m talkin’ about my feet. I think they can use a bit of love too.”
Andrew frowned slightly, a worried look upon his face.
“I’m not so sure about that, Faith. The books warn that you shouldn’t rub a pregnant woman’s feet. There are pressure points there that can induce labor.”
“What? That’s crazy talk, dude. Buffy rubs my feet every night and the baby hasn’t gone anywhere. I think we’re safe.”
“But I . . .”
“Listen, I’ll take full responsibility. And hey, I’ll even recommend ya to some of the other slayers. I know you and Kennedy aren’t close but I bet she’d worship the ground you walk on if ya did this to her a few times.”
“You really think so?”
“I know so. Now come on, start rubbin’ my dogs before they start barkin’ at ya.”
She rested back down on the table and closed her eyes, waiting for Andrew to pick up where he’d left off. He hesitated for a few moments but really, what were the chances that he could actually induce labor? Taking a deep breath, he lifted the sheet back and took one of Faith’s feet in his hands, pivoting the ankle slowly to stretch the muscle. When it was good and relaxed, he rested her foot back down and pressed both thumbs into the bottom of her foot.
The loud sigh she let out let him know that he was hitting the exact right spot. His fingertips caressed the top of her foot while his thumbs worked slow circles on the soles, applying more pressure to Faith’s liking.
He alternated to the other foot after a few minutes, then back again at Faith’s urging.
Before he could go back to the second foot again, he realized that the Sounds of the Rainforest CD had stopped. He walked over to the stereo to restart it and hit play, but the CD just didn’t seem to want to spin. Tapping the disc drawer, he smiled happily when he heard the pitter-patter of rain drops start up again.
“Yes?” he asked, turning around to find Faith sitting up with a worried look on her face.
“Think we’ve got us a little problem on our hands.”
He quickly looked down to see a small trickle of water leaking down from where she had just been laying.
It wasn’t the sound of the rain forest he was hearing.
Her water had broken.
Back to Chapter Selection