I gripped the wall, the pains shooting through my stomach making me gasp in pain and bend over. "I hate this flu," I told myself quietly, hoping no one would notice me leaning there, especially not the non-human residents of Sunnydale. I forced myself to straighten up and try to walk around the corner to continue on my way to the Magic Box, but there wasn't any way. The next pain sent me curling up onto the ground, my arms wrapped around my stomach. I don't know how long I stayed there, but it had been nearly dusk when I had taken the shortcut through the alley down the street from the Magic Box. I groaned when I heard footsteps, hoping it was a helpful person and not something that would try and eat me. Boy, was I out of luck.
The vampire smiled down at me. "What's wrong?" he cooed in a baby voice. "Does the little boy hurt?"
"Yes," I groaned. "I think I'm dying."
"Well, I can make sure of it for you," he laughed, grabbing me and pulling me to my feet.
I whimpered as the pains got worse, throwing up from the intensity of them. The vampire didn't appreciate what little I'd been able to eat earlier coming up on his shoes, but then again, it wasn't like he really cared. I was food.
"Hey!" a voice shouted. "Leave him alone!"
"Buffy!" I called weakly. I was dropped and fell back against the wall, the vampire going to fight her. Apparently food that could fight back was more his style. She never heard me though. They fought not three hundred feet away from me, and when the vampire was gone, she walked away. I started to retch again, not surprised when I saw blood coming up. It had been happening over the last few days. I heard another set of footsteps and groaned, hoping that Buffy had just went to take care of another problem.
Instead, the problem found me. Again.
"Spike," I said weakly, raising a hand out to him. "I'm sick."
The vampire nodded. "Can see that. You're bleedin', whelp." He pulled me up and looked me over, grabbing me quickly when I started to fall again. "Want the gang?" he asked worriedly. "I have no idea what to do about you."
I shook my head. "No. Hospital. Please! Just get me to the hospital. I'll pay for your next week's worth of blood if you just get me to the hospital."
Spike grunted. "Fine. Car's around the corner. Can you make it that far?" I shook my head. "Bloody hell," he muttered, picking me up and carrying me. He put me on the car seat and stopped, one hand resting over my stomach. "You're bleedin'," he told me. "Right there," he said as he touched an area just above my navel.
I shrugged. "I don't care," I told him. "I've had the flu for the last month. I just want to get something to fix this."
Spike shook his head. "Not the flu," he said, hurrying around to get in. "You've got a passenger in there." He started the engine and gunned it, pulling out with a squeal of tires. "Harris, stay awake," he barked.
"Am," I moaned. "What was that about a passenger?"
"You're preggers. I can hear a second heartbeat. Probably why you're bleedin' too, not real common for men to have those sorta problems." He took a corner on two wheels, glancing at me. "You didn't know?"
"No!" I said as firmly as I could. "I'm ...I'd never do something that stupid and it's highly improbable. There's no way."
Spike just shrugged. "We'll see." He pulled in the parking lot of the hospital, getting out and carrying me inside. "He's bleedin'," he told the nurse who ran to meet us. "His stomach, the lower part."
She nodded and went for a gurney, holding it steady so I could be laid on it. "Are you his boyfriend, sir?" she asked as she pushed me toward a curtained off area.
"No," he snorted. "I found him."
"He stays," I whimpered, grabbing Spike's hand when a needle started for my arm. "I hate those."
"I know," she soothed, patting me. Her stethoscope rested against my stomach so she could listen, and then she went for the phone. "I need a surgeon in ER stat," she ordered. "Blood too. What type are you, sir?"
"B negative," Spike told her, squeezing my hand.
"We need units of B negative." She hung up and looked at him. "Sir, I really must have you go wait outside."
"He stays," I moaned, rolling onto my side and retching some more. "Ow," I complained as the IV needle ripped out.
She was helping me onto my back when the doctor rushed in. "Doctor Erants, he's bleeding internally and I heard something very strange in there. A heartbeat echo."
"He's stuffed up," Spike said helpfully. "Not sure how, neither of us are, but he's had the flu for the last month too. Noticed he hasn't been keepin' food down."
"Sir, you really should wait outside," the doctor said.
"He wants him," the nurse said gently, tossing some powder down onto the stuff that had come out of me. "He's tossing blood too," she told him. She forced Spike to move some, back against a wall, and glared at him. "Stay there. Just stay out of the way and fill out the forms on the clipboard I brought in." She went back to help, grabbing the blood to hook it up. "I took the liberty," she said when the doctor looked at her.
The doctor nodded. "Good." He released the blood pressure cuff and looked down at me. "Young man, do you have *any* idea what's going on?"
I shook my head. "Five months ago, I had stomach ripping pains," I told him. "Flu for the last month. I collapsed tonight because of the pain."
He nodded. "I can understand why. For right now, we're going to feed you blood, we need to get some bloodwork done before we can move you to surgery. You *are* bleeding internally and it will have to be fixed."
"I barely have insurance," I whispered.
"It'll cover it, this is an emergency." He looked at the nurse. "Get the standard bloodwork, get it run stat, I want the answer to whether or not he is." He looked at Spike as she drew blood from my other arm. "And you are?"
"His friend," Spike told him. "Saved him, I did."
"He stays," I ground out, curling up as another pain started to tear me up from the inside out. "Ow," I complained.
The doctor forced me onto my back, checking my stomach again. "Just get me the bloodwork," he ordered the nurse. "Call OR and have a room ready." He looked down at me. "Son, I won't lie, I think you are pregnant. This is going to come down to your life or its. It's your choice."
I looked up at him, reading the feeling in his eyes. "I'm not ready to die," I told him, desperately reaching for Spike. "I don't want to die here."
Spike grabbed my hand. "You sure?"
I looked at him. "Spike, how did this happen? I don't want to die."
"Then you won't," the doctor agreed, grabbing the next bag of blood to stick onto the IV drip too, squeezing it into the IV line. The nurse came back in. "I want at least five more units ready."
"Yes, sir. The orderlies are here."
"Good. We're moving him to OR," he told Spike. "You can't come in, but you can wait up there." He readied the IV bags then kicked the brakes on the bed. The orderlies came in and started me moving, the nurse and doctor squeezing the bags of blood into me.
Spike stood in the hallway outside the OR doors and watched me disappear. I guess he went to try and call everyone then. It would have made waiting easier.
The next thing I knew, I was waking up in a hospital bed, my stomach was sore, and I really needed a drink. I pushed the button a few times, not able to move. My stomach still hurt too much for that. "Water?" I croaked.
"Of course, Mr. Harris." She held up a cup, letting me sip through the straw. "Are you sleepy or can the doctor come up and talk to you?"
"Please," I told her, giving her a begging look. "Spike? Did he get home okay?"
"Yes, sir, he left after the first surgery." She left, coming back a few minutes later with the doctor. "He's just woken up and had some water," she reported, taking my hand.
"Mr. Harris, I won't lie to you," the doctor started. "But I can be blunt or I can be kind."
"Be blunt," I encouraged.
"We couldn't find it," he said bluntly. "I looked each time I've went in to fix the bleeding, but I was unable to locate the fetus. We know he's in there, and that he's living, but we can't terminate it." I nodded for him to go on. "You've had three surgeries to fix your internal bleeding in the last two days. You've also had about ten units of blood." I know I went a little pale at that. "It's a shock, I know, but you're not moving from that bed until we can determine that you're better and what's really going on inside your stomach. Any questions?"
"Did anyone call my boss?"
The doctor shook his head. "No, we haven't made any calls. Your friend, the one who brought you in, made a lot that first night. He may have. He's been back each night, I'm sure he'll be back tonight too." He smiled. "With that said, you're very healthy, young man, you should be able to weather this if you get past this hurdle."
"So I'm still pregnant?" I asked quietly, one hand drifting over to cover my stomach without my approval. I realized what I was doing and I moved my hand quickly away. "Now what?" I asked, trying to center myself in practicalities. This was not the time for hysterical crying. That would come later, when I was alone.
The nurse squeezed my hand. "For now, you rest. You may need some more blood over the next few days. The most important thing is that you rest and heal. Everything else comes later." I nodded, that was a good practicality. "Doctor?" she asked.
"I think that's as good of advice as I can give you. I'll have one of the candy strippers come bring you a book, we'll get you a bed bath, and then you'll be able to make the practical calls to people like your boss and someone to watch over your apartment." I guess I nodded because he clapped me on the shoulder. "Good boy. Just rest and think. We'll send whomever you need down to you tomorrow, once you've had the time to think." He and the nurse left.
I carefully curled onto my side, allowing my non-needle stuck hand to drift back over my stomach. "What did I do to deserve this?" I whispered. "I've been a good boy. Why does this stuff happen to me?" The tears came and I let them. I was alone, it was time for this now.
Spike strolled in, handing over a blanket from the apartment. "Thought you'd like something comforting," he said as he sat down. He looked at my book, then back at me. "Needed naps?" he asked with a grin.
I forced myself to sit up some. "Yeah, I think I do." I looked him over. "What's going on with the gang?"
"I called 'em," he admitted. "Got Niblet. Left messages everywhere. Haven't heard a thing." I groaned. "Have no idea, I'll pop 'round tonight and tell 'em if you want. Be good to see their faces."
"Oh, I don't think I want to see their faces," I told him, scooting back down so my stomach wouldn't ache any more. "I don't want to see the disappointment, or the disgust, or whatever else they'll come up with." I glanced out the window. "Did you call my boss?"
"Took a note over from the nurse," he said with a shrug. "They were workin' late last night. He's worried, said he'd be over this weekend if you're still here." He shifted some. "Anything else I need to do?"
"Yeah, I want this to be a *really* bad dream," I told him, staring straight into his eyes. "This can't be my life, things like this don't happen to me, nothing this bad and strange does. This is a Buffy problem, not a Xander problem."
Spike sighed and reached for the button on the bed, bringing a nurse. "He's babblin'," he pointed out. "Needs a head shrinker." She glared at him.
"Aren't I a good boy?" I asked her.
She nodded and patted me on the hand. "Of course you are. Whomever did this was the evil one, you're just an innocent bystander who has to deal with the issue." She nodded at Spike to join her out in the hall, but the door wasn't closed. "You can't upset him," she told him. "He'll start bleeding again. He's under orders not to become stressed and to rest. If you can't deal with that, you'll have to leave. No matter how much he wanted you to be here."
"He wanted me?"
"He said your name in his sleep, Spike," she said calmly. "Now keep him calm or go arrange things for him. He'll be here for a long time." She walked away and he came back in.
"Sorry," he mumbled as he sat down again. "Need anything from home?"
"Jammies?" I asked. "If I'm going to be here for a long time, I'd like real clothes and a few of my books."
"I'll get 'em," Spike promised, then he stood up. "Gonna go get the rest of 'em into this."
I grabbed his hand. "Tell Giles first," I pleaded. "Not in front of the girls right away. I don't think I can stand their laughing."
"Sure," he said, patting me on the hand. Then he breezed out.
I curled up under my blanket and hoped that this was all a dream. It had to be a dream, I was a guy and guys couldn't get pregnant. It was just some funky echo of my heartbeat showing up because of all the bleeding.
Spike walked backwards through the door the next night, growling at something in the hallway. "No, leave him be," he shouted, then he kicked the door shut. He tossed me a long shirt and set a bag beside the bed. "They come yet?" he asked.
I shook my head after putting on the comfortable t-shirt. "Not even a call. I bugged the nurses all afternoon. What happened?"
Spike coughed but he wouldn't look at me.
"They didn't believe you?"
He shook his head. "Not a word. Giles tried to have Buffy stake me because I was now 'broken'," he said with a sneer. "Told the rest, and they all laughed."
"Just like I knew they would," I sighed. "Any hope?"
"Niblet's coming over tonight. Said she would. She even said she'd take pictures." He shrugged. "Short of stealin' a copy of your records, I doubt they're gonna be here for a bit." He sat down and looked me over. "You look less pale."
"I'm feeling better," I admitted. "They said that I haven't bled for almost a day. No more bags of blood." He snorted. "Sorry, I'd offer you the rest of my last one, but I kinda needed it more," I said in an attempt at weak humor, my usual brand of humor under stress.
"No problem. I've got some stashed at your place. Hope you don't mind."
"Hey, it's not like I'm going to be using it," I said philosophically. I jumped as the door opened, smiling at the young woman standing there. "Hey, Dawn," I said weakly. "Just you?"
"Yup, just me," she said, pointing a camera at me and snapping a few pictures. "Spike wasn't lying?" she asked. I shook my head. "How did this happen?" She carefully moved closer. "I know enough about the human body to know that this isn't normal." She plopped down on the foot of the bed when no one said anything to her about being careful.
"If I only knew," I sighed, curling up a little more. All I had on under my blankets was a t-shirt and some boxers, something I doubted she needed to see. "All I know is that I started to collapse in an alleyway the other night and Buffy drew away the vamp trying to eat me, but didn't hear me, and that Spike saved my life." I smiled at him. "I guess I'm going to have to take care of him now. I already owe him some blood." He waved it off, but he was grinning.
She shook her head. "Xander, if you're really...pregnant, then what's going to happen when it's time for it to come out?"
"More surgery," I said, sounding hopeful. "I don't think it'll be coming out any other way." She smiled at that. "Other than that, I have not a clue."
She nodded. "Okay. I'm here if you'd like to bounce ideas off me." She slid off the bed. "I'd better get to the shop before Buffy throws a fit over me being out at night." She looked at Spike. "And you'd better stay away for a few more weeks. Giles is convinced that you've done something to Xander or that you're playing some elaborate prank to get back at Buffy." She shrugged. "I'll report on what I've seen."
I buzzed the nurse, who came running in. "Can you give her a copy of the medical records so no one tries to kill Spike?" I asked her.
She frowned. "I don't think I'm allowed to do that, Mr. Harris." I pouted at her. "I guess I can copy off a few of the more pertinent forms," she relented. "With the approval of the charge nurse and you signing a form." She left, going to check on it. When she came back, she was holding a slim folder and a consent form, which I signed. "All right," she said, handing it to Dawn. "You keep that private," she said, staring at the young girl.
"I won't tell anyone that Xander didn't want told," she promised. "I'll even bring it back in a few days." She waved at us and left, running for the elevator.
I looked at the nurse. "My supposed friends are threatening Spike because they think he did this to me," I explained. "The records will hopefully prove to them that I'm not imagining...this," I said, waving a hand over my stomach. "Maybe they'll even show up."
Spike was nice enough to let me harbor my delusions for a little while longer.
Six weeks later, I was released. I couldn't walk, I was supposed to spend my whole day in bed, or as much as I could manage living on my own, and I was to not have *any* stress. I had a really pretty monitor that was hooked up to my stomach that was on loan from the OB who was taking care of me. I even had some food because I was fortunate enough to have a little bit of money still in savings. Now came the hard part. I was going to have to spend two months on my back. I couldn't imagine it. Spike helped me up the stairs, watching out for any more demons that might find me tasty, he'd killed seven in the last week alone when they had come in and rampaged in the hospital to get to me. One had even eaten the baby names' book. When we were safely inside, I plopped my heavy butt on the couch and looked through the bag of groceries. I noticed Spike standing around and grunted him over. "Come sit," I finally said when he didn't take the hint.
"I'm stayin'," he announced.
I nodded. "Okay." I had learned how to get along with Spike as a roommate long before I had gone into the hospital. "I kinda expected it. You can have the couch if you want, but if you come into the bed, I'm going to use you to prop up this enormous child of mine."
Spike smiled, then he started to laugh. "Good, glad that's settled then. Now what?"
"Now, I eat and then take a shower so I can nap without a hospital smell in my nose. You, well what did you want to do?"
"Probably rent a movie and relax," he said dryly. "Not much to do when you're layin' low."
"True," I agreed. "I could come watch it with you. Get something corny? Or an action movie?"
Spike shrugged. "We'll see." He grabbed the bag of groceries and handed over the smaller bag of fast food. "Eat. Little bit in there needs it."
"Demon bait," I muttered, settling in to eat my burger and fries. "Spike, do you think it's human?"
"Smells like it," he said as he headed for the kitchen. He came back with a diet soda for me and a beer for him. "Welcome," he said as he sat down.
"Thanks," I said between bites. I looked at the date on the calendar beside the TV and winced. Rent was coming due. I had paid last month by check, but this month was going to become a stretch. It was time to make some hard choices. "Spike, what are we going to do when it becomes tight?" I asked.
He snorted. "Tight how, whelp?"
"Tight money-wise. I won't be able to work. Your food is more expensive than mine is."
Spike waved a hand. "Don't worry 'bout mine. Got that covered. Worry 'bout yourself."
I nodded. "Okay. But you need to tell me if you need anything, and I do mean anything. I'm going to have to start cutting corners soon."
"Sell the whelp-mobile, you won't be needin' it for a while," Spike suggested. "And that tacky crap your girl left."
I smiled at that. Spike didn't like the fact that Anya had left during the extended bout of what I had thought was the flu. "Can you imagine her dealing with this?" I asked, grinning. "She'd *freak*."
"Probably," Spike agreed, smiling again. "I could see her bein' sedated that first night." He opened his beer and took a gulp.
I reached over and touched his knee. "Thank you, Spike. You've been a great friend through all this," I said quietly. "I don't know why you did it, but I'm really glad you did. I owe you majorly, even more than my life." When he didn't say anything, I pulled my hand back. He finally nodded. "With that mushiness settled, I think I should probably go shower. I'm feeling odd and I want a nap."
"Odd how?" Spike asked, suddenly alert.
"Odd like emotional and mushy, girl like," I snorted. "I'm going to shower. We can hook up the monitor after that." I waddled into the bathroom and closed the door gently. Then I leaned against it. I had no idea why I had said that. Even if it was true. I pulled off my t-shirt as I started the shower. I had to start moving on and making plans. More than my life was in the balance now.
Spike looked up from his watching the outside world. "More demons," he noted.
"Call Buffy, it's her job," I pointed out as I trudged into the kitchen. A week in bed had made me appreciate what I was no longer allowed to have, including the freedom to roam and get juice whenever I wanted. I heard him pick up the phone and dial, but then he slammed the phone down and grabbed his duster. "Be careful," I called after him, smiling at his back. Spike was so predictable. He was starting to get more protective the longer I carried. Which would hopefully not be to full term. "Long enough for a healthy baby," I muttered as I carried my juice over to look down at the sidewalk, where Spike was beating the crap out of three demons with another one sneaking up on him. A blur took out that demon and I smiled. "Not a Buffy blur," I told myself, "just a nice one." I sipped my juice as I watched the fight, getting some vicarious pleasure from watching my friend fight.
Yes, friend, I said friend and I meant it. Spike had not only saved me, but he had kept me calm and had taken care of me. Much more than my friends, who hadn't shown up in six weeks, had ever done for me. Spike was now central in my world. He was my touchstone to reality, because I was very far away from it at the moment. I groaned and dropped the glass as I felt a pain in my stomach, praying that I wasn't going to have to have more surgery. I was a little relieved when I felt some movement. The door crashed inwards and I flinched, but it was only Spike.
Spike reached out to me, one hand going to my stomach and stroking gently. "What happened?"
"Pain," I told him. "Short and hard."
"Kicked," Spike said, looking at me in awe as the pain came again. "It's bloody well a footballer." He looked up at me. "He's kickin' me."
I grinned. "I wish he would kick you for a while. This hurts."
Spike laughed and patted me on the arm. "Back to bed with you. I'll call your doc and tell her." He headed for the phone, stopping long enough to kick the door shut.
"What about the Xander and baby-eating demons?" I asked as I carefully walked around the broken glass. Spike picked me up and put me down in front of my bedroom door.
"They'll die, saw the cunt comin' this way."
"Gee, maybe she's come to do her job," I said sarcastically as I headed back to bed. "Bet she won't show up here."
"Not bettin' against a sure thing," Spike called as he dialed the phone. My doctor was a great person with a lot of patience, even for Spike. I laid down and clipped back on the leads, then smiled as the monitor beeped and spit out paper at me. "Just like always," I said, looking at the wiggling lines. "It's steady," I called, then I grunted because my child had done it again. "Settle down," I complained, rubbing over the large lump that was to be my son. "There's no reason to get pissed at me like that. I'm doing the best I can."
Spike walked in. "She said it's normal, and that your appointment's now at ten tomorrow instead of day after." He leaned against the doorway, watching me rub my stomach. "Feel better?"
"It seems to calm him down," I said with a shrug.
Spike came over and sat beside me, one hand coming over to rest on top of the lump too. It slowly started to rub over the lump, which shifted, and the baby calmed down as I fell asleep. It was the first time, but not the last.
I woke up in pain, panting and groaning. I hadn't felt this bad in months. "Spike!" I called, trying to roll onto my side so I could get out of the bed. "Help!"
He came running and pulled me up, holding me until I quit wobbling. "What's wrong?" he asked, rubbing my stomach. "That's too tense."
"Pain," I panted. "Time."
He shook his head. "Can't be."
"Bet me," I said firmly. "It's time!"
Spike backed off and went to call my doctor, she of the great patience. He came back a few minutes later and helped me dress in some sweats, then helped me down to his car. It was time.
A few hours later, he helped me back up the stairs, wondering how many more times they'd have to do this. "False labor still?" he asked as he sat me on the couch.
I nodded, biting my lip. "Why don't drugs work on me anymore?" I whined.
"It's the bite," he said, pointing at the baby, it was his cute nickname for him. "Part of his magic." He relaxed into my old easy chair, staring at me. "Another day of this and it'll probably be over," he said, paraphrasing the doctor, who had let me go because of my insurance people's demands - the baby wasn't ready to come out and they wouldn't pay for us to stay in the hospital until it the baby was ready. They had actually said it wasn't necessary surgery, yet.
I laughed. "Spike, I'm having a baby, it won't be over for a *very* long time."
"Decided to keep him?" Spike asked quietly.
I considered it for a moment, then nodded. "Yeah, I think I should. After all, I've come this far. At least it'll quit hurting once he's born." That got a smile. I grunted as a lesser pain hit me, my son kicking me again. "He's not liking this either."
Spike snorted. "I wouldn't like to be squished either," he pointed out. "Bet they'd take 'im out if he'd breathe."
"Trust me, it won't be too soon." I scooted forward and braced myself, letting Spike help me up again. "I want a nap," I told him, heading for the bed with him following me. The son and I would sleep while Spike rubbed the son's back. It was how we did it best.
I gasped and sat up, screaming in pain. "Spike!" I whimpered. He was instantly there and helping me up, and away we went to the hospital. Within an hour, I was in an operating room without enough drugs to mask the pain, and two doctors waiting to work on my insides to fix whatever had gone wrong this time. I cried as my son was removed, his cries echoing above mine, and then the blessed anesthesia claimed my mind.
I woke up later in a familiar bed, with Spike sitting in the chair beside it holding a lump of red, wiggling, blanket-covered lifeform. "Is that him?" I mumbled as I sat the head of the bed up. "He doesn't look human."
"He is," Spike assured me, handing him over. "Takes a bit to look human, give him time." He smiled at me. "Gonna name him now?"
I looked at him. "I have no idea what to call him," I admitted.
Spike laughed. "How about Herbert? He'd make a good one."
"I'm not naming my son Herbert," I noted. "No way." I looked down at him, getting entranced in his eyes. "Hi, little guy, I'm the daddy. How are you? Are you enjoying your Uncle Spike's attention? It's a good thing, he's going to be around for a while." I glanced over, but Spike didn't contradict me.
The nurse walked in and smiled at us. "I see you've met him. How do you like him?"
"He's very magical," I said, giving her a smile. I looked back down at his eyes. "When do I go home?"
"Tonight if you'll follow orders," she said with a brighter smile. "We need the bed and you're used to having a stomach incision."
Spike snorted. "Sure, I'll take care of 'em both," he told her.
"Good," she said happily. "Have we decided on a name?" I shook my head. "Then we'll leave that part blank. Let me get the doctor for one last check and then you can go," she said as she left us alone.
I looked over at him. "You're sure?"
"Sure," he said with a grin. "The bite needs ta have a real role model. Make a great one I would."
I laughed but I was nodding. "Yeah, you'd be a good one for a lot of things," I agreed.