Title: Little Things (and another year goes by)
Disclaimer: I'm just borrowing Joss's characters.
Setting: Starting the summer post-NFA, spanning a year.
Summary: These things are always simpler when she deals with them alone.
Thanks to: LillianMorgan for the beta!
She gets a letter in the mail from her exes. She spends more time thinking about how strange it is that it's one letter from the two of them, signed by both, than the fact that she now officially knows that they're okay.
They're starting over in a new city. The letter says that she can come and visit any time she likes, and they sound like they're getting along so much better than she'd ever expected, so much that she almost thinks a visit could work. But she'd be more likely to ruin whatever they have going on right now, and she wouldn't have thought to see them if they hadn't extended the invitation.
She's feeling satisfied in her life now, happily single for more than two months straight. She's completely at peace exactly where she is, for the first time in a very, very long time. This single thing is working for her.
She's decided this single thing is totally overrated.
His name is Darren. He's an investment banker. He's polite, but not boring, charming, but not smarmy about it, funny, but knows when to be serious. They look good on each other's arms. He can hold an intelligent and absorbing conversation for hours. He's a fellow American working over on this side of the Atlantic, and they've both admitted that they'd like to go back some day. He misses living in New York, and she's starting to think she'd like to live there too.
He's fucking phenomenal in the sack.
It's not love yet, but for now it's more appealing than the single thing.
She hasn't explicitly decided on a plan for her life, but this certainly wasn't a part of it.
She feels like it's a cliché, the oldest excuse in the book, but it's a thought she can't stop running through her head repeatedly: we were so careful.
The damn stick turned blue, and she has no idea what to do about it. She's used to making huge decisions for the fate of the world and the lives of her friends, not her own future.
Abortion crosses her mind, and quickly leaves as she winds up in tears at the fact that she could ever even think of it. Damn hormones kicking in already.
She calls up Darren to meet for coffee, and when he shows up, she ends it. These things are always simpler when she deals with them by herself. (She stubbornly ignores the fact that she's never dealt with this particular type of thing before.)
He doesn't even seem that hurt by it, and that hurts her more than she'd expected.
But she knows it's going to be better this way.
When she first told the others, they looked at her like she'd grown two heads. It only took two hours for them to get over the shock (whereas she's known for over three weeks and is still working on that part) enough to start thinking that this is really exciting news.
They're already thinking names. She's still wondering if she wasn't too quick to dismiss the abortion idea.
She's been a leader, she's ordered people around, she's been someone people look up to. But she can't even begin to imagine how she's going to handle being a mother.
She excuses herself from their laughter and gleeful smiles to go throw up.
She's getting used to the idea that she's pregnant. Well, in the sense that she's dealing with the fact that she feels like throwing up most of the time, and she knows her body's changing and that there's a life inside of her that's going to come out in several months as an actual person.
She knows all this. She's dealing. She doesn't, however, exactly feel the way she thinks she's supposed to – emotionally speaking. She's not excited, she's not dreading it, she's just … empty. She doesn't feel connected to this child inside of her. She doesn't feel like a mom.
She doesn't know how to feel like a mom.
She doesn't know exactly why or how she came to be here. She's been aching to feel something, so she came to feel the cold. She's on a hilltop, standing in the breeze, and there's no question that she feels the cold. Now she needs to feel something else.
There's a person inside her. That should mean something. Normal people feel something when they create a whole new person, and sure, she's not normal, but she should be able to do this.
She's grown distant over the years, but she can't accept that she's so unfeeling to not be able to put her whole heart into a relationship like this. She remembers her mom, and how she loved her, and she knows she wouldn't mind becoming like her. Most people can't help becoming like their parents, but it's like she can't become like hers even if she chooses.
There are two heartbeats inside of her right now, and she's trying so hard just to feel one.
It kicks. She actually feels something, for once.
She presses her hand to her belly, and it kicks again. She laughs. She laughs so hard she shakes, and she has to press her hands to the table for support to remain standing.
Willow and Dawn insisted on coming to this appointment, and when the doctor tells them it's going to be a boy, she feels her hands being squeezed tightly on both sides.
The doctor leaves the three of them alone to absorb the news, and the second he's gone, the other two start giggling and gushing about how wonderful it is, what a strong and beautiful little boy she's going to have.
She just sits quietly and rests her hand on her stomach wistfully. She'd thought it would be a girl.
She's lying in her bed, staring at the ceiling, continuously rubbing her hand over her belly repeating in her head, my little boy, my little boy, my little boy and trying to find meaning in the words.
It's closer to feeling real, but she keeps thinking about that too-short period of time when she was dead. When she had heaven, and how since then, nothing on earth has been able to compare. Nothing has brought her nearly that much happiness.
This little boy is supposed to become her whole world, but the world doesn't fill her as much as it used to.
It's a stupid thing, really. She still thinks of herself as unbeatable, but she's gotten bigger and clumsier, and she can't fight like she used to.
Apparently the others have taken that fact under more consideration than she has. When a demon attacks her on her way home one night and she finds herself quickly on the losing side of a fight, the two younger slayers – bodyguards who have been shadowing her without her knowledge – come out of nowhere and save her ass.
She feels undignified thanking them, admitting that she needs protection, but the attack and her imminent failure has shaken her. It's the wake up call she's needed, the reminder that she's not invincible. She could lose her life, or worse, her baby's life.
She suddenly realizes how very badly she wants to keep him safe.
She feels useless, but she's reached the point where she can't move around much at all anymore. Everyone else takes that to mean that she wants visitors as often as possible. If she can't go to them, they'll come to her.
Willow's made a new friend, just a friend, from the Watcher's Council who reminds them all of Tara more than they'd like to mention out loud. Maya's got a similar talent for seeing deeper inside people, and often seeing what's still to come. When Willow brings Maya around for a visit, she stares at the round belly with a frightening intensity for a length of time that makes everyone else in the room distinctly uncomfortable.
She finally can't take it anymore, and demands that Maya tell her if something's wrong with her baby. She's still upset from last month's attack, and has been experiencing the terrible fear that her baby's not going to live long in this world.
Maya looks up and smiles, reassuring her that no, her baby's just fine. He's going to be perfectly healthy. He's going to be happy.
It's over. It didn't hurt as much as they say, but she's the slayer after all, and she's used to pain. They took him away and she finally relaxed, but she's too quickly surprised when he comes back to her, all wrapped up, and they're expecting her to hold him.
She looks at him and forces herself to think, This thing just came out of me. For a moment, that thought means nothing. She feels nothing.
And then he lets out a loud wail, and she notices the tears already on his cheeks, and she begins to cry too. He's not a thing. He's a little person. He's her son.
He looks a little bit like heaven.
She gets a letter in the mail from her exes. Both of them. They've heard her news and want to congratulate her. They want to meet the boy someday soon.
They sound like they're trying to be supportive, but there are notes of resentment and jealousy between the lines, and that makes her happier than she'll admit.
She places the letter carefully in a drawer, reminding herself to respond to it later, and goes to find her son who's waking from his nap in tears. He needs his mommy now.