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[personal profile] moscow_watcher
Title: Black Magic White Lies
Chapter 19 - Buffy Cringes. Buffy Helps. (Well, She Mostly Cringes)
Timeline: BtVS, alternate season 5
Genre: drama, mystery, action
Characters, pairing: general, Xander/Faith
Rating: R (for intense situations).
Summary: Alternate BtVS season 5. Xander thinks he has a little secret. He doesn't know that his little secret is a part of a big fat conspiracy.
Disclaimer: They all belong to Joss. He said I could play with'em, so there.
Author's notes: Much thanks to my wonderful betas [personal profile] lusciousxander and [personal profile] deird1 who encourage me, help me with character voices, fix my bad grammar and style. All mistakes are mine. This is my first plotty multi-character fic, so concrit is very welcome.



The story starts here

"You're lying!"

Buffy is furious. "You think we'll believe you and start killing each other? These people are my closest friends and I trust them more than I trust myself. There are no traitors here!"

Giles coughs discreetly. "Actually, it's hard to believe it was a coincidence..." Off Buffy's glare he falls silent.

The arrival of Buffy's doctor is a pleasant distraction from the tension. The knights are reluctant to let him in, but Spike assures them that Gregor needs medical help, namely, a blood transfusion, because he, Big Bad Bloodsucker, drained him almost dry, grrr, - and demonstrates his fangs with relish.

Doctor Ben looks very unhappy but he acts professionally. He orders Xander and Spike to put the unconscious Faith on the countertop, checks her pulse. He can't help but cast furtive glances at Spike, at the same time trying to ignore the fact that Gregor is tied to the pillar. Does the doctor take them for a bunch of homeless junkies? Raving maniacs? Bonnies and Clydes on the run?

"Is your friend drugged?" he asks Buffy. "What happened to her?"

"She doesn't take drugs," Buffy murmurs. "She was having contractions. Then something went wrong. She was in terrible pain. Willow put her under a spe... under hypnosis."

"Was she bleeding?"

Buffy winces. "N-no," she murmurs. "I don't think so."

Xander tenses when the doctor bares Faith's abdomen. He doesn't understand why he suddenly feels like someone is walking over his grave when this stranger presses his stethoscope to Faith's belly.

"Has she had any abdominal trauma in the past?"

Buffy flinches and averts her eyes. "She was wounded in the stomach once..."

The doctor puts away his stethoscope and examines Faith's belly closely. "I don't see any scars. But if she really was shot in the abdomen during pregnancy - especially in the lower abdomen - there could have been grave complications."

Apparently, the doctor thinks they're a gang of sado-masochistic scum who shoot pregnant girlfriends in the stomach.

"It happened before her pregnancy," Buffy says with difficulty.

"How long ago?"

"Eighteen months. And - she hasn't been shot. She has been stabbed. With a knife." She presses her index finger to her own gut below navel. "Here."

Doctor Ben scrutinizes Faith's skin again.

"You're wrong, Buffy. She has no scars. Could she make it up? You know, to gain your sympathy?"

"No, she didn't make it up."

"How do you know? You were there when she was stabbed?"

Buffy half-laughs, half-sobs.

"It was me who stabbed her."

"What?!" The doctor is officially creeped out. He looks at the others, but nobody tells him it was a joke. "Over the phone you told me the girl who needed help was your friend."

"She is my friend!" Off the doctor's shocked look she adds. "It's... complicated."

Poor Doc will probably reconsider asking Buffy out now. "Did she recover completely after you sta... after that incident? Were there complications?"

Buffy hugs herself nervously. "Yes. She was in a coma for nine months. But, when she woke up... Her body felt okay. Recovered."

The doctor's eyebrows go up.

"It's not what you think," Buffy murmurs, blushing.

"Am I getting this right? Eighteen months ago you stabbed her, she spent nine months in a coma, woke up, you... something happened between you, and for the next nine months she carried a baby. May I ask who the proud father is?"

Buffy looks at Xander.

"I am," he says.

The doctor takes his measure sourly. "Has she been complaining of abdominal pains during pregnancy?"

"I - I don't know. She was... not here."

The disapproval in the doctor's eyes becomes more evident. "I see. Do you know if she has been under medical observation?"

He nods vigorously. "The last five months she has been under constant medical observation. And she was okay."

"Where was she observed?"

"In Northern California Women's Facility." He doesn't realize how it sounds until he's done saying it. "She didn't escape from jail," he adds hastily. "She's been paroled."

"Really? When?"

"Today. Or, rather, yesterday. And she was - okay. Until something went wrong."

The doctor shrugs. "So far, I don't see anything wrong with her or the baby. She isn't bleeding, she has fully dilated, the fetus' pulse is steady. You have to wake her up from hypnosis so that she could push."

Xander is afraid to believe him. Afraid to jinx it. "But she was in terrible pain."

"It's her first delivery, isn't it? She has narrow hips and very strong abdominal muscles - so, the dilation could have been extremely painful. Besides, pain level is greatly influenced by fear and anxiety. Wake her up. It's good that she has rested a bit. Because she has work to do."

When Faith comes to her senses the first word she says is his name. "Xander... don't let them..."

"It's okay, Faith," he hastens to say. "Buffy is helping us. She won't let anybody hurt our baby."

He looks at Buffy pointedly. She nods.

"I promise, Faith. You and baby will be okay. Relax - I mean, don't relax, because you have to push... right, doctor?"

"I'll take it from here, if you don't mind," Ben says. "Faith, right? Good name. Now, Faith, listen closely. You have to help your baby to get born. So, when I tell you to push, you push..."

The next several minutes are a blur. When did the doctor tell him to hold Faith down? Did it happen when she almost broke the doctor's arm? Or when she started thrashing and ruined his stethoscope? Transfixed, Xander watches Buffy pressing hard on Faith's belly. Did she step in when Faith moaned that she couldn't do it anymore? Or when the doctor appealed to Giles, only to see him frozen with shock? "Help her, Buffy, now!" - "What do I do?" - "Weight upon her upper stomach with both hands and press down, with all your force!" - "But, Ben, I'm very strong, you know?" - "Good!" - "I can hurt her!" - "You won't!"

Then, suddenly, it's over. Faith relaxes in his arms, sobbing and laughing, Buffy lies across Faith's midsection, also sobbing and laughing, and their daughter proudly demonstrates her lung power.

"Congratulations, Faith," Ben says. "You've given birth to a healthy girl. Do you want to hold her?"

"Yes," she whispers. "Yes."

The baby is tiny. Hard to believe that this fragile creature could cause so much pain. Impossible to believe that this little bundle can destroy the world.

"She is the spitting image of her mother," he says to Faith. "She has your eyes."

"And your mouth, Xander" Buffy adds. "Oh, guys, she is so beautiful."

Xander grins at her. "Does it make you wanna have one?"

"Oh, no. I couldn't survive such an ordeal." Buffy sounds genuinely awed. "You're a real hero, Faith. I don't think I'm that brave."

Spike smirks. "Thank your lucky stars you have an undead lover."

"Don't listen to Spike, Buffy," Willow says. "Delivering a child must be an incredibly empowering experience. Right, Faith?"

She grins feebly. "Yep, I'm a poster child of women power."

"No, really. You created a new life. You became equal to God. You..."

"You have to let me out!" the doctor Ben screams suddenly.

Willow is puzzled. "Why? Did I hurt your feelings by not mentioning your help?"

"You don't understand! I've got to get out! Open a door! Now!"

Instinctively, Xander covers Faith and the baby, and that's when it happens.

A shift.

Like a slide projector. When one cartridge is taken out of the slot, for a brief moment you can see a blank white wall. Then another cartridge is inserted and there is a new picture.

A completely new picture.

Where the doctor Ben stood few moments ago, now stands the already-familiar woman with a wicked, haughty face.

Glorificus.

The Beast.

Next: Chapter 20 - The Finale
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