leonhart_17: ([btvs] faith - homecoming)
[personal profile] leonhart_17
Title: Something to Talk About pt XVI
Rating: PG/PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, don't sue...
Summary: Willow Lehane is not destined to have an easy pregnancy...

When the pain started, sudden and sharp in her stomach, Willow didn't even try and get Faith's attention. Shaking her would just waste time. Instead, she simply rolled off the bed and landed with a thud on her back. Faith shot up, eyes scanning the darkness but finding no trace of her partner. "Will," she called. "Willow!"

The witch released a groan, curling in on herself as much as she could, and Faith's head popped over the side of the bed. "Faith," Willow moaned pitifully. "Something's wrong."

The Slayer was out of the bed in a flash, but she hesitated to touch her. "What's wrong? What happened?"

"It hurts," Willow groaned, pleading. "Hospital."

Though her first instinct was to pick Willow up and run her to the hospital herself, Faith managed to keep herself under control and dialed an ambulance instead. Clicking the phone off, she dialed again, Buffy's house this time. "B, I need you over here. Will's hurt or something and there's an ambulance coming, but I need you to stay with the kids."

Buffy had obviously been asleep when the phone rang, but she responded admirably and assured her harried counterpart that she was on her way. The blonde came in without knocking and joined Faith on the floor with Willow. "What's wrong?"

"It hurts!" Willow repeated through gritted teeth. "The baby."

Fortunately, the EMTs were quick on Buffy's heels and they pushed both of the anxious Slayers out of their way while they went to work on Willow, questioning her about the source and duration of the pain and ignoring the other two. Buffy held an anxious Faith back as they got the witch onto a gurney and down the stairs.

"I know you're going with her, so call me as soon as you know anything," Buffy ordered sternly. "Okay, Faith? The minute you hear something, you call me." Faith was staring after the doctors and Buffy shook her. "Nod, Faith. I need you to nod or something, okay?" Faith nodded dully, pushing lightly against Buffy's grip on her arms. "She's going to be okay, Faith. Willow's stronger than either of us," she promised, trying to be reassuring. "She married you, didn't she? She's the strongest woman in the world."

Faith laughed, but her expression was frozen. "Buffy…"

"Don't think like that," the blonde advised, knowing what was going through her mind. "They're both going to be okay. You've got to go, though. She needs you."

Faith took off like a shot out of her room and down the stairs in pursuit of the gurney, climbing in and squeezing into the space beside her wife. "B's right, babe. You're the strongest person I know. You can do this! Whatever's happening, you can beat it." She didn't even know if Willow could hear her, but saying it made her feel better, so she did it. She prided herself on being strong, someone to be counted on, someone Willow could count on, but sitting in the back of the ambulance with her, she'd never felt more helpless or useless in her life. She had strength enough to fight demons but she couldn't do anything to help her wife and her child.

Willow was taken straight into an exam room, Faith keeping a steady grip on her hand while the doctors examined the unconscious witch. It didn't take long before they had stabilized her, but Faith found herself entirely unable to relax. "Doc, you gotta tell me something," she pleaded while they were watching the ultrasound monitor anxiously. "How are they doing?"

"I'm afraid she's losing blood," one of the doctors said from the bedside, not looking up from his examination. "Did something happen?"

Faith shook her head. "No. We were asleep but she woke up and said that it hurt. What's wrong with her?"

"She's bleeding," he repeated. "But stable."

"And the baby?" Faith demanded, squeezing her fists at her sides.

He could just meet her eyes and shrug. "We're doing everything we can."

"Do more," she insisted harshly. "They need blood, take mine." She stuck one arm out firmly, followed quickly by the other. "Hell, whatever they need, take mine. They have to live." Her phone rang in her pocket and she spared a split second to glance at the ID. Xander. She'd been expecting Buffy, but it appeared the news had spread some. She didn't answer it, though. She couldn't spare the attention.

"You should answer that," the doctor advised. "Your wife and daughter…"

"Daughter?" Faith breathed, shocked. "It's a girl?"

He frowned. "You didn't know? You're having a daughter." He turned a monitor so she could see it. "Here." He pointed out the baby on the screen, the flutter of her tiny, rapid heartbeat loud as thunder in the Slayer's head.

"Hope," Faith whispered, not blinking as she stared at the screen. "You have to…"

"We're doing everything we can," he interjected. "I know it's difficult, but all you can do is wait, I'm afraid."

Faith shook her head. "That's not what I do, Doc." She swallowed hard. "I'm not sure I can just sit here and do nothing while they're struggling."

"We're doing everything we can," he repeated his promise earnestly. "I'll tell you if there's any change." He was unmistakably shifting her out of the room, but Faith resisted for a moment before something changed and he had to bolt back to Willow's side. "She's crashing. We've got to get her into an OR now!"

Faith wasn't allowed anywhere near the operating room and was left pacing the exam room, feeling like nothing so much as a caged animal. She was used to action, making the life and death decisions for herself, not waiting for news on the lives of her wife and daughter.

Holy shit. They were having another daughter. Hope. Joy, Jack, and Hope. Thinking of the other children, at home asleep while their mother was bleeding, in pain, instantly stole her strength and she slumped into a seat. She looked up when someone entered, surprised to see Xander.

"How's Will?"

"B call you?" Faith asked hoarsely, head dropping again.

He nodded, moving to sit beside her. One hand touched her shoulder lightly and he took a deep breath. "She's with the kids at your house, but she, we didn't want you to be here alone just waiting." He hesitated to speak again, waiting for the Slayer to say something.

"She's bleeding." Faith's eyes were locked on her hands wringing between her knees. "They said she was stable, but the baby… and then they said she was crashing and they're in surgery."

Xander was silent, his chest tight with his own fear for his oldest friend. "Willow's strong," he offered finally. "Ever since we were kids, she could do anything she wanted." His hand squeezed her shoulder supportively. "She wants you. You and your family. She can do this, Faith."

She looked up at him and he realized that he'd never seen her so broken before. "I can't… if she…"

"Stop," he cut her off gently. "She's not going anywhere. Not Willow and not your baby."

"It's a girl," Faith told him, voice soft. "Hope."

His eye pricked with tears and he had to swallow hard before he could speak again. "That's a good name," he said, voice choked with tears. "Will and Hope are going to be alright," he stated, trying to muster confidence he didn't feel. Faith didn't say anything, but neither did she stop him from pulling her into a comforting hug. "This is for me, okay?" he whispered, knowing how the confident, independent Slayer despised the perception of weakness in herself.

"Thanks." The response was barely audible, but Faith's head rocked over to rest against his chest, his arm comforting around her shoulders.

They waited in silence, neither able to speak and fill the quiet with promises that might prove false. Faith was doing everything she could to keep calm. Losing Willow would break her. The idea was utterly inconceivable. She knew she couldn't lose it completely should the unspeakable happen, she had to be strong for Joy and Jack. If something happened to Willow now, Jack wouldn't even remember his mother.

She shoved the thought from her head immediately. "Nothing can happen to her." She didn't realize that she'd said it aloud until Xander squeezed her. "They said she was losing blood. Do you think… Maybe mine could do something?" Her desperation was clear, as well as her frustration at the powerlessness of her own position.

"Faith, I don't know," Xander said helplessly. "I'm sure the doctors…"

Before he could finish, the door opened and the same doctor who'd forced her out entered. Faith and Xander were both on their feet in an instant, the Slayer moving forward helplessly. "How is she? How are they?"

He lifted a hand, the gesture meant to calm her. "Your wife and baby are both going to be alright, Ms. Lehane," he said, voice soft. He started to explain what had happened, but Faith couldn't hear anything over the pounding of her own heartbeat in her head. Xander's arm slid around her back and she dimly realized that he was supporting her from collapsing. "We'd like to keep them both here for observation for the next day or two, and I'm going to suggest that Willow remains on bed rest for at least a month, possibly longer."

Faith didn't speak and Xander hurriedly thanked him. "We'll make sure of it. And thank you," he repeated himself, shaking hands with the surgeon.

"We'll have Willow back here in just a few minutes, but she's going to be under for a while longer, so…" His words were cut off as Faith seemed to snap out of her stupor and strode forward suddenly to wrap the doctor up in a hug.

He and Xander stared at each other over the Slayer's head and the Watcher stepped forward to pull her back gently. "Thank you," Faith gasped helplessly, ducking her head once she realized what she'd done. "I, uh, I didn't mean to just… Thank you."

The doctor nodded, blinking. "No trouble." He coughed, one hand on his chest. "You're quite strong, Ms. Lehane."

Faith flushed, shoulders rising and falling in a self-conscious shrug. "Sorry about that. Just…thank you." She felt lightheaded suddenly, overcome entirely with relief. Xander kept a steady arm around her while the doctor withdrew from the room, Faith drawing in an unsteady breath. Willow and Hope were going to be fine. Whatever it took to keep it that way, she'd do it.

"She's going to be okay," Xander breathed, relieved. Faith couldn't speak, just leaned into him in a gesture of shared comfort than neither of them would have ever expected they'd exchange.

It took another twenty minutes before Willow arrived, and she was still unconscious as they parked her gurney and shifted her carefully into her bed. Faith pushed in as soon as there was room, but cautiously didn't touch the witch, looking her over carefully. "B," she said softly.

"What?" Xander questioned from behind her. "Faith…"

"I told B I'd call as soon as I knew anything," she clarified. "And the kids… What time is it?"

He found a clock on the wall and took a deep breath as he realized how long they'd been waiting, the time feeling so much more interminable. "It's almost six. I can call if you want."

Faith nodded, her eyes not moving off of Willow's slowly rising and falling chest. She still hadn't touched her wife though, and Xander gently touched the Slayer's shoulder. "She looks so little," she said, voice low and hoarse.

"For someone that's over six months pregnant, yeah, I guess she does," Xander agreed softly, squeezing her shoulders as he slipped an arm around her back. "She's going to be okay, Faith. Will's tough." He pressed his lips gently against her hair for a split second in a supportive move that surprised them both. "She'd never leave you."

Faith swallowed hard, reaching forward hesitantly to stroke one finger carefully over the back of Willow's pale hand. "I can't hurt her, Xand."

"You wouldn't," he whispered. "You're not going to hurt her by touching her. You're strong, but you're careful," he encouraged her. She didn't move and he stretched his hand forward to cover hers, shifting her hand to cover the witch's pregnant belly. "You'd never hurt them."

Faith didn't speak, taking a deep breath as she stroked her hand over the thin cotton of the hospital robes Willow wore. "Thank you, Xander," she said after a long silent moment. "Could you call B?" she asked, not tearing her eyes from Willow.

Xander nodded, drawing his hand back. "Of course." Before he moved away from the bed, he leaned over and pressed a kiss to his best friend's head, whispering to her for a second.

Faith slipped closer as he retreated and her eyes moved from her hand on the bump of their child to Willow's slack, sleeping face. "You scared the shit out of me, babe," she confessed quietly. "I'll tell you again when you wake up, but don't ever do that again." Her voice was low and she leaned over to kiss Willow lightly.

Xander returned after a few minutes and Faith looked up at him. "The kids are still asleep, but Buffy's going to bring them once they wake up."

"I don't know if they should see Will like this," Faith said immediately.

"If she's not awake by the time they get here, I'll stay with them in the waiting room," he promised. "But it's still early. The kids won't be awake for a while so we've got some time." He rounded the bed to take a seat and slipped his hand over one of Willow's, single eye watching as Faith gingerly mirrored his actions but left her hand on the witch's stomach.

They sat in companionable silence, each caught up in their own thoughts. Faith's other hand gradually moved to cover Willow's hand, her forehead leaning against the side of the bed at the witch's hip. The twitch of Willow's fingers was the first sign that the redhead was rejoining them, but it took Faith a moment to recognize the motion as something to be excited about. Her head shot up as she realized it, Willow's head moving toward her. "Faith," she whispered, eyes still closed but her limbs starting to move.

The Slayer and Xander were both on their feet, Faith leaning over to brush red hair back. "I'm here, Will. I'm here!" She couldn't help kissing the witch's forehead, hand squeezing her wife's fingers. "Open your eyes for me. Please," she pleaded, not caring how weak she appeared. Until she saw Willow's eyes meet hers, she couldn't breathe.

Willow groaned, but did her best to comply. "Faith," she repeated, voice soft and weak.

"Do I need to go get a doctor?" Xander asked, moving as soon as the Slayer gave him a nod.

"Was that Xander?" Willow asked, her eyes open for a heartbeat before she let them slide closed again.

"Don't try and talk, babe," Faith advised. "He went to get a doctor to check on you two."

A frown furrowed between the redhead's eyebrows, mouth turning down as she struggled to remember. "Two?" she questioned weakly. "The baby?"

"So far, so good," Faith said, glancing down toward the bump where their daughter was growing. "She's going to be okay, Will."

Green eyes fought their way open again. "She?"

Faith nodded, smiling. "She," she confirmed. "Hope and you are both going to be fine." Willow's hand moved slowly to touch her belly, fingers colliding with Faith's. "That's our daughter in there," the Slayer whispered. She wanted to say more but Xander chose that moment to return with the doctor.

The inspection reassured the anxious parents and Xander excused himself to call Buffy and fill her in on everything. "I'm afraid you're going to need to be on bed rest for the next several months, but your wife has assured me that she is more than capable of keeping you safely incapacitated."

Willow was weakly pouting, but Faith crossed her arms and glared pointedly, her own exhaustion obvious in her expression. "She's good at that," Willow agreed reluctantly. "When can I go home?"

"Not yet," Faith stated before the doctor could, the Slayer's arms still crossed over her chest. There was something in her voice that made Willow submit without argument.

Xander was still in the hall when the doctor left and Willow squeezed Faith's hand, struggling to push herself up in the bed. Faith helped her, hands fidgeting restlessly with the edge of the sheets, the fringe of Willow's hair, the pillows, anything to keep from meeting Willow's eyes and starting the conversation she knew was coming. "Faith." Willow's voice was tired and weak, but she was determined. "Look at me." Faith's brown eyes flickered to her and Willow could see the depth of the Slayer's fear in her face. "Honey," she breathed sympathetically.

"No," Faith interjected hoarsely. "Don't do that, Willow."

The redhead sighed. "You look so…"

"You scared the shit out of me, Will." Faith started walking, pacing at the foot of the bed while both hands tousled her hair. "Tonight, this whole thing, waiting to see if you were going to live, I've never been so scared in my entire life." She spun as she reached the wall, Willow watching her partner prowl from side to side soundlessly except for her increasingly heavy breathing. "Is this what it's like whenever I go out to fight demons, because I don't know how you do this! If anything like this ever happens again I think I'm going to lose it, Will…"

"Faith!" Willow called her, seeing her Slayer's calm bleeding out rapidly. "Come here, please," she requested.

Faith was at her side in an instant. "What's wrong? What hurts? I'll get the doc back…"

"No, Faith, I'm okay," Willow cut in quickly, taking her partner's hand to keep her from bolting off. "I'm sorry you got scared, but we're going to be fine. I would never scare you like this on purpose, sweetheart." She tugged the Slayer closer by the hand. "You know that, right?" Faith nodded quietly, starting to regain her calm. "I would-will never leave you if there's anything I can do to stop it." She squeezed the hand in her grip, dragging it up to her lips. "I'm glad you're here."

"I'm not leaving you," Faith stated, eyes still anxious as she surveyed the redhead again. "B's going to bring the kids when they wake up."

Willow nodded, yawning. "Good. Will you do me a favor until they get here?"

"Anything you want," Faith promised without a second's pause.

"Get in here," Willow requested, voice heavy and tired. Faith just stared until the witch started to shift herself over gingerly.

"I don't think I should," Faith started to say. "The doctors, and you've got all those tubes and wires and all…"

"I don't care," Willow insisted. "I need you to hold me." She was still stubbornly moving herself sideways in the bed. "Faith, nothing can get me if you're with me." She knew that she'd been in Faith's arms when the pain had started, but the plea worked nonetheless and the Slayer sighed as she studied the free space next to Willow. She moved slowly and gingerly, carefully settling her weight on the edge of the mattress and guided Willow's head to her shoulder, arm stretched carefully under her witch's shoulders.

"Better?" Faith questioned quietly. Willow nodded, breathing deeply against the brunette's chest. "Babe, Willow…"

"Faith, you'll drive yourself crazy thinking about what didn't happen," Willow advised. "Believe me."

Faith took a deep breath against red hair. "I kind of understand you going nuts when Tara died," the Slayer admitted, realizing too late that she wasn't being sensitive or tactful at all, but Willow didn't chide her. "I didn't mean that," Faith said quickly. "Will…"

"It's okay," Willow whispered. "I did go crazy." She sucked in a shaky breath. "And I would never want you to feel like that. I'm not going anywhere, sweetheart." One hand moved slowly up to stroke the Slayer's brown hair. "You're stuck with me, Faith. Hate to break it to you."

Faith laughed hoarsely, curling imperceptibly closer to her wife. "That's not funny," she said, recognizing that her voice almost sounded normal. "You need to sleep."

"Are you okay?" Willow asked instead, still touching her lover's hair gently.

"You're in the hospital. You just had surgery. You shouldn't be asking me that," Faith protested. "I'm only okay if you are, Will." She kissed the top of the witch's head. "Sleep," she requested. "I'm sure the kids will be here soon enough. You need to get some rest."

Willow sighed, knowing that her partner was right, she could have died and she needed sleep. Especially before their children arrived and inevitably disturbed her slumber. "You too, okay?" she countered. "I'm right here with you."

They lapsed into silence, Willow's breathing steadying and slowing against her chest, the predictable exhales against her collarbone soothing Faith slowly. Xander poked his head in the room, but didn't say anything, just taking his seat back at the bedside. He looked to be dozing himself, a state Faith hadn't been able to reach, when the door opened a crack to admit Buffy's head and shoulders. Faith tensed to move, but Willow's arm tightened against her chest, fingers wrapping themselves in her shirt to keep her in place.

"Come in," Faith called softly, reluctantly shaking Willow to wake her. "Babe, the kids are here," she whispered. The sleepy witch's green eyes opening were a relief and she was a bit astounded by the blast of comfort that she took from simply seeing Willow looking at her.

Jack was riding Buffy's hip, but Joy rushed around her aunt to reach her parents at the bed, stopping beside Xander's chair. "Mama?" she asked, confusion and fear battling in her voice.

"Your Mom was sick, but she's going to be okay," Faith promised, meeting their daughter's eyes solidly. "Something happened to the baby, but the doctors did a surgery and they're both going to be fine." Joy found Willow's eyes for reassurance, one hand reaching forward slowly but hesitating before she touched her mother.

Willow took her hand and drew it to her lips to press a soft kiss to the back. "I'm going to be just fine, baby girl." Joy wrinkled her nose distastefully at the nickname and Willow gave her an encouraging smile. "And so is the baby girl," she continued, guiding Joy's hand to cover her growing sister.

The look of surprise on Joy's face was echoed by the shock in Buffy's expression and the pair gaped at the couple in the bed. "Girl?" Joy questioned, smile breaking out in response. "My sister?"

"Hope," Willow confirmed, nodding. "Hear that, Jackie boy?"

The little boy just blinked at her. "Sister?" he asked, waving one arm toward Joy.

"That's right, Joy is your sister," she said encouragingly, Buffy's hand smoothing over his back as he yawned. Willow couldn't help echoing the tired gesture and Buffy's free hand reached for Joy's shoulder. "Don't go," Willow requested. "You just got here."

"I don't want to go yet!" Joy agreed. "I've got a sister!"

Willow grinned, nodding. "You will, Joy-rider."

The teen looked concerned. "Are you okay, Mom? Really? Is the baby going to make you sick again?"

Faith's arm tightened almost imperceptibly around Willow, holding her that much tighter. "I don't know, sweetie. I'm going to have to be really careful until Hope is born, but Mama's going to take good care of me, you know?"

Joy nodded seriously, looking over Willow's shoulder at Faith, her own personal hero. "You are, right, Mama? You're going to take care of Mom and Hope, aren't you?" It was clear the faith she put in her mother to take care of them all.

The Slayer nodded her head firmly. "Of course I am, Joy," she promised. "Nothing's going to happen to your mom or your sister."

"Good," Joy said, heaving a sigh of relief. If Faith made her a promise, it would be kept. She knew it without a doubt.

"You love your sister and Mom, don't you?" Buffy questioned, leaning over to kiss the top of her niece's head.

Joy nodded, getting choked up. "Aww, sweetie, don't cry. It's okay," Willow spoke up quickly, moving toward her daughter. "Come here, Joy," she said, opening her arms and pulling the little girl to her. "We're both going to be fine, honey. I promise you. I'm not going anywhere, and your Mama and I will never let anything happen to you or your brother or your sister." Faith's arm shifted to let her squeeze her daughter's arm as she cried against Willow's chest. "It's okay, baby. I promise you."

It took Joy a few minutes to calm down, the teen wiping her eyes as she leaned back. "You promise?"

"Absolutely," Willow answered earnestly. "We promise."

"Okay," Buffy interjected gently. "You're both exhausted," she stated. "Faith can barely keep her eyes open." If there was one thing that would get Willow to submit to going back to bed it was the knowledge that Faith would drive herself past exhaustion to keep an eye on her. Going to sleep herself was the only way to ensure that Faith did as well.

Willow sighed, knowing that it was a ploy but equally unable to deny it. "Fine, but can you come back after school?" she requested. "I missed you guys this morning!"

Joy nodded, leaning over to kiss Willow's cheek when she tapped the spot with a finger. The teen climbed onto the side of the bed to lean over the redhead and do the same to Faith's cheek. "Love you," she said as she hopped back, wiping her cheeks.

Buffy carried Jack to Willow's side, the redhead kissing his forehead and cheeks before he could giggle and squirm away. "I love you," the witch echoed. "And you too, bub."

"I'm glad you're okay," Buffy murmured as she leaned over to plant a kiss of her own on Willow's head, smirking as Faith pushed her back slowly. "It's not nice to scare us like that," the Slayer said, sobering.

"I'm not planning on doing it again," Willow promised tiredly, Faith's arm around her shoulders snuggling her that much tighter against herself. "Thanks for the help."

"Anything, anytime," Buffy agreed, clarification not necessary. "I'll bring them back around three?"

Willow nodded, having to hide another yawn. "Thank you." The Slayer took the baby back and the witch didn't resist melting into Faith's arms again. "Love you guys." She was fading quick and the others left without speaking again, leaving the redhead and her partner to sleep in peace.


It took less than a week for bed rest to become intolerable. After a month, the witch was sure she was going crazy, Willow anxious to move and get out of the house. Unfortunately for her, Faith was diligent and more than capable of keeping the redhead in bed. "At least if I have to stay in here, you could join me and make it fun!" Willow complained, crossing her arms as she pouted.

Faith laughed, in the middle of folding laundry. "I don't think bed rest involves sex, Will."

"Well, it should!" Willow said, glaring around at the sheets. "This is boring! And it would be fun!"

The Slayer laughed again, shaking her head. "I have no doubt about that, babe. But I don't think you're supposed to be moving around a whole lot." She held up a colorful t-shirt. "Is this yours or Joy's?"

Willow rolled her eyes. "Very funny. It's Joy's. Faith…"

"The doctors said you're on bed rest, Will. There's nothing I can do about it," Faith stated, the two of them having had this discussion more than once in the last month. Willow huffed, a sure sign that she was annoyed. "I'll go," Faith offered, picking up the laundry basket. "But you know I'll hear you if you move out of that bed."

"I'm mad at you," Willow said in frustration as Faith turned to go.

The Slayer just gave her a wink over her shoulder. "I know you are." For all of Willow's protests, she was still feeling weak, the baby simply sucking her energy away. It killed Faith to not be able to give Willow what she wanted, but taking care of the stubborn redhead was her first priority. Tucking the plastic basket under one arm, her free hand dug in her pocket for her phone. "B, I need you to come over here," she said as her counterpart answered.

"She's mad at you again?" Buffy asked sympathetically.

"Says she is," Faith answered with a sigh. "Will you come hang out?"

"Of course, but maybe we could mix it up a little bit," the blonde suggested. "It's nice out. What if we moved her down into the yard for a little while? You've got lawn chairs and the backyard should have some shade."

"And it's not the bedroom, so maybe she'll be a little happier with me." Faith turned into Joy's room to drop the stack of fresh laundry on her daughter's bed.

"You know she's not actually mad at you, she's mad at the situation," Buffy reminded her. "But she's only got a few more weeks, right?"

Faith moved across the hall to put Jack's tiny outfits away in their drawers, phone pinned between jaw and shoulder. "Thank God," she said earnestly. "She keeps trying to convince me that sex is allowed on bed rest."

"Oh jeez!" Buffy complained. "I can't hear about this, Faith! You know the rule! No talking sex with me!"

"I can't tell Will how much I want to give in, and Xander's out, of course, so you're it, B!" Faith stated.

"She's on bed rest! You better keep your hands to yourself."

"I know! I am!" Faith said. "We're both just so frustrated with everything and it's hard. But Hope is fine, and Willow stays tried, but she's okay too. It's just stressful."

"Well, I'll be upstairs in a few minutes to help you," Buffy promised.

Willow was decidedly apologetic as Faith reentered their bedroom, the witch reaching one hand for her. "I'm sorry," she said immediately. "I'm not mad at you. I just kind of hate being trapped in here, and you're the only person I can take it out on," she explained.

"I know that, Will," Faith assured her, smiling as she leaned over to kiss the redhead's hair. "I get it. And I'm tough. I can take it." She shrugged. "B's coming over. She figured we could go sit outside for a while, maybe."

Willow's expression fell for a moment, but she schooled it back to normal quickly. "Oh, okay. Well, it looks like it feels good out there. Should be nice."

"No, dummy, you're coming too," Faith clarified, seeing her mistake immediately. "A lawn chair and some shade and you'll be in good shape, right?" she asked, hoping the change of scenery would help.

She was answered by a kiss, Willow hauling her in thank her passionately. They both groaned into a gap for breath, but Faith was the one to reinitiate the kiss, leaning forward with both hands planting themselves on either side of Willow's body and taking her lips again. Willow's fingers curled into the Slayer's hair, tugging her closer while Faith struggled to balance herself in a way that kept her from putting any weight on the pregnant witch. "We've got to stop," Faith breathed desperately, wanting nothing less than to stop, but needing to be sure that Willow was healthy.

The witch groaned again, the sound frustrated. "We don't," Willow growled. "Faith…" She was cut off by a gasp, Faith withdrawing immediately. "Nothing hurts," Willow said quickly, grabbing her wife's hand before she could move out of reach. "She's kicking." She put Faith's hand in place to feel it, smiling as Faith's lips broke out in a wide grin. "She's going to be strong."

"Like her mom," Faith said, thumb moving in slow circles against Willow's stomach.

Their eyes locked and Faith had just leaned in for another kiss when Buffy cleared her throat behind them. "What happened to hands off?" she requested.

"Hope's kicking," Faith said in answer.

"And hands off sucks," Willow added, pouting as she leaned over so her best friend got the full effect of her plaintive expression. The blonde just smirked and laughed and Willow shook her head. "No, not being funny here! It sucks, Buffy!"

"Well, come on and we'll get you outside and you can calm down and stop glaring at me," Buffy teased. "It's not the bedroom," she coaxed. "All the sunshine, and the fresh air, and Jack playing and laughing."

"Fine," Willow said, smiling down at Faith's hand on her stomach, covering their baby. "I'm mad at her now," she told her Slayer, sounding almost cheerful as she took a final quick kiss.

Faith grinned. "I'm good with that." Her eyes considered the witch. "Want me to ca-"

"I want to walk," Willow interjected rapidly.

"Fine," the brunette said, a warning edge in her voice. "But you lean on me and if anything even twinges, you tell me," she ordered, brown eyes serious.

Willow nodded, eager expression on her face. "Let's go!"

Buffy moved up on the witch's other side as Faith gingerly helped her sit up, feet over the edge of the bed. The blonde rolled her eyes as Willow swatted her arm lightly, shaking her head. "Now I see why Faith wanted me to come over," she muttered. "Hormones and bed rest do not mix," she advised them.

"Believe me, pregnancy hormones don't mix with anything," Faith commented, yelping as Willow swatted her on the back of the head sharply. Buffy laughed and got a swat of her own for good measure. Giving each other long-suffering looks behind Willow's shoulders, the two Slayers each guided an arm around the witch to support her.

Their progress was slow, but it was the most Willow had been permitted to move in weeks and she was overjoyed by the time they reached the yard. Joy was boxing her mother's punching bag at the tree and Jack was running circles around Bones, trying to coerce the elderly dog to get up and play with him, but the most he got in response was a languid tail flop.

It proved entertaining enough as it swept the eighteen month old off his unsteady feet. However, the son of Faith and Willow Lehane didn't stay down. The women could just watch as he climbed back up, using Bones as a stabilizer. Little hands tugging his fur prompted another tail flop and Bones lifted his head to look at the little boy. Brown eyes locked and Jack schooled his face in a pouty glare that made his elders all laugh. The tail flopped again and Jack made his best attempt to grab it while Bones turned his head to give his redheaded mistress a patient look.

Satisfied that he was entertained and would subsequently entertain them, Faith quickly brushed stray leaves off of the lawn chair and helped Buffy lower the baby encumbered Willow into the chair. The witch made a show of taking a big, deep breath of the fresh afternoon air.

"She might not go back inside," Faith commented as she flopped down in the grass next to the chair and curled one arm behind her head, eyes closed against the bright sunlight.

"Nope," Willow stated cheerfully.

"I think I can find a tent for you guys," Buffy chimed in with a laugh. "Since I'm sure you wouldn't leave her out here alone."

"Nope," Faith echoed. "No tent, though. I'll just pick her up and take her in once she falls asleep."

Willow dropped one hand over the side of her chair, finding Faith's wrist and pulling on her arm. "Come here," she said. Faith sat up obligingly and Willow tugged on her arm again. "Here," Willow clarified, doing her best to sit up. "Sit with me."

Faith took a deep breath, trying to think of an argument that would appease Willow, but able to think of nothing. "Fine," she agreed slowly, gingerly sliding into the space behind Willow and leaving her knees spread wide as the witch shifted back into her.

"Thank you," Willow murmured as she pulled Faith's hand around to rest on her stomach, their baby. Her head rocked back against the Slayer's chest and she trailed her fingers across her belly, tracing Faith's hand and lacing their fingers together.

Jack's giggles as he succeeded in trapping Bones' tail drew their eyes and Willow could help smiling widely. Even if she couldn't get out of bed, or walk without an overprotective Slayer at her side, these moments with her family were priceless. And once their newest family member arrived, there would only be more. And it would make all of the frustration and impatience at not being allowed to move entirely worth it.

"You okay?" Faith's whisper drew her back to the present, Jack still laughing as Bones rolled over and knocked the little boy off his feet again. That was his signal to resume the game and Jack hopped up and made a grab for the dog's tail again.

Willow let out a deep breath, relaxing further into her partner. "Five-by-five," she promised, moving their joined hands over their sleeping baby inside her.

[part 17 here]
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February 2012

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