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In the Moment

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“You’re doing great, Buffy, I’ve just seen the baby’s head crown,” the midwife encourages with a cheery smile. “Just a few more pushes.”


Giles looks down at his wife. The contraction has passed and she reclines back into the raised hospital bed, sweat on her brow. He offers her an ice chip and she takes it, gazing up at him through tired eyes. She handles the pain better than the average woman due to being the Slayer, but eleven hours of labour with an hour of pushing is like going toe to toe with a particularly nasty demon and he can see she’s exhausted and sore and ready to be done.


Buffy hasn’t called him any terrible names, nor has she threatened divorce, or any of the other stereotypical things he’s heard about women saying to their partners in the birthing room. In fact, she’s held his hand, lightly squeezing it through the contractions, and accepted his gentle massages and offers of ice chips readily. They both know that for them, this baby is a miracle… and not just in the miracle of life sense.


A Slayer’s Calling is one of sacrifice: the sacrifice of a future and the literal sacrifice of one’s self. Giles would argue that it is the same for a Watcher, though he doesn’t ever talk about it. She’s been dead twice and injured more times than he cares to count, and if it weren’t for the spell that she and Willow performed to activate the Potentials, she wouldn’t ever have considered bringing a child into the world. As for Giles, he’d given up on the idea of having a family long ago, his pledge to his Slayer was to remain unattached until her duty was fulfilled. A family was a distraction and liability. And so if he was ever to marry and have a family, well, it was going to happen after…


He swallows hard and shakes his head to rid himself of those thoughts - things turned out differently for them, falling in love while building the new Council in the wake of the First’s destruction. It seems rather poetic when he thinks about it. But he also knows things can go horribly wrong during the birthing process even these days and again he wants no part of those maudlin thoughts.


He and Buffy are welcoming their child and he smiles encouragingly down at her. A contraction is due to hit any moment and he leans in and kisses her forehead.


“You constantly amaze me,” he says, his voice full of awe. And it’s true. He’s been proud of her so many, many times before, but in this single moment, he couldn’t be more so.


Early in the pregnancy, much to Dawn and Willow’s disappointment, they’d decided not to find out the sex of the baby. It doesn’t matter to either of them whether they have a boy or a girl and so they’d opted for the surprise, enjoying the process of picking out names - even terrible ones to make the other laugh - and choosing a nursery theme to go along with the sage green and white colour scheme.


When the contraction hits, the midwife tells Buffy to push. Giles counts along with the nurse, letting Buffy know how much longer she needs to continue pushing.


“Head’s out!” the midwife calls from between his wife’s legs as Buffy falls back against the bed once more. She invites Giles to take a look, but he steadfastly stays by Buffy’s side. “One more push and you’ll meet your baby,” she says during the break between contractions.


Buffy and Giles share a look. It says a million and one things, but above all it says I love you! 


“Okay, Buffy, one last time,” the midwife says at the start of another contraction.


Giles helps his wife up and supports her through the final push, whispering words of encouragement and love as the nurse counts the seconds for her. At the count of eight, the midwife calls, “He’s here!”


Buffy collapses back against the bed and turns her head to him. “He’s here,” she repeats, and gives him a tired and loving smile.


“He is,” he confirms softly and looks over at the squirming bundle in the midwife’s arms. He can scarcely believe it. He wants to go over and have a proper look, but his focus is on Buffy at that moment and he kisses her softly. “You are… amazing,” he says, wishing he could find the proper word to convey all the emotions he is experiencing in those precious seconds. “I love you.”


They both stop and turn at the first healthy wail of protest coming from their son and Giles takes his first deep breath since Buffy’s labour began. At the moment a Mozart concerto would sound disharmonious next to his son’s cry.


“Care to cut the cord, Dad?” The midwife asks over the short burst of protest from the baby.


Giles doesn’t understand why this is even a thing. He supposes it’s to give fathers a feeling of inclusion in the birthing process. He doesn’t care to do it, but he supposes he must and the nurse hands him the scissors while the midwife is cleaning his son off with a towel. He cuts the cord and the nurse takes the baby from the midwife and whisks him over to the scale.


He takes up his post next to his wife and waits for the nurses to finish up with their son. It’s all happened so quickly and he’s not sure how to deal with the influx of emotions.


“How is he?” she asks, her eyes meeting his.


“Oh, Buffy,” Giles murmurs, not knowing what else to say, but she is so earnest so he says the first thing that comes to mind. “He’s strong. So strong,” he adds.


“Check on him?” she says, her tired, green eyes conveying her worry.


“Of course.”


Giles heads over to the nurses station where they are taking the baby’s vitals. He counts ten fingers and ten toes and listens to his son wail at the unfairness of being poked and prodded and manhandled as the nurses run their tests to determine his health. He shoves his hand into his pocket while he watches and finds the little cap his mother had recently knitted for her first grandchild. He pulls it out and looks at it with a soft smile before handing it to one of the nurses. When they finally finish up and swaddle his son in a blanket, they place the little sage green cap with white stars onto his head before the head nurse expertly transfers the protesting infant into Giles’ waiting arms. The moment the baby hears his father’s voice cooing at him, he stops crying, his blue eyes opening wide at the sound.


For the first time, father meets son as Giles looks down into his baby’s face and his heart wants to skip several beats. He’s perfect. Beautiful. And he can’t believe how much he loves this little boy already. He kisses his son’s head and promises that he’ll always be there for him as tears form in his eyes.


The midwife is just finishing up with Buffy and tells them that everything looks good. She congratulates them on the birth of their son and she and the nurses dim the lights and leave the new family to get acquainted. Giles walks the baby over to Buffy and partially unswaddles him before placing him in his wife’s arms, skin to skin over her heart.


He watches as she peers down into their baby’s face and lifts his hand with her finger. Instinctually their son wraps his fingers around hers and she looks up at Giles with tears in her eyes.


“He’s perfect!” she declares as a tear escapes her lash.


“He is,” Giles agrees as he cradles their son’s head in his left hand and kisses the top of his head. “And so are you,” he says, brushing his lips against hers. “Thank you.”


Buffy gingerly moves over on the bed and motions for him to sit beside her. It isn’t really wide enough for two, but they’ll make it work. He kicks off his shoes and climbs in with her. The bed is still in the upright position, allowing them to sit up and recline and Giles turns to his side to watch his wife and son bond, occasionally reaching out to stroke the baby’s cheek and to kiss his wife.


It’s not long before the baby starts rooting and Giles asks if she wants to try feeding him or whether he should call a nurse to have a bottle brought in. He knows that Buffy wants to try feeding him on her own, but she is also exhausted and he doesn’t want her to stress out about it either. She gives it a go and their son latches on with gusto.


She smiles up at Giles at their success and she is positively radiant. He takes a moment to commit the image of mother and son to memory. It’s the purest love he’s ever seen and it moves him to tears. He never wants to forget it.


“I adore you, Buffy,” he whispers as he leans in to kiss her again.


“I adore you too, Giles,” she whispers back against his lips. “Can you believe we created him?” she asks as she looks down at their son in awe.


Giles tucks the blanket around the little boy’s legs to keep him warm and says, “It seems impossible, and yet…” he doesn’t continue.


“And yet, here he is,” Buffy finishes for him.


“Here he is.” After a few moments he asks, “Are we still agreed on the name?”


The baby lets go of the nipple and Buffy moves him to the other breast where he latches on greedily.


“Thomas Everett Giles,” Buffy states.


Giles smiles. Strong names. Family names. Suitable for his strapping lad and he approves. They had other names in reserve just in case, but Thomas Everett it is.


Buffy finishes feeding Thomas and Giles takes him from her to rub his back. He slowly paces around the room with him, singing softly to him, and when he finally coaxes the belch up, he turns and finds Buffy asleep. It’s three in the morning and just over fourteen hours since Buffy went into labour. He’s exhausted too.


He calls the nurse in to show him how to swaddle little Thomas. He watches intently and worries she’s done it too tightly, but she’s the expert and Thomas, like his mother, has fallen fast asleep.


“He likes the confinement,” the nurse explains, knowing what the first time father is thinking. “He’s not used to all that space yet.” She gives him a wink and hands the baby back to him. “I’ll be back to check on your wife and son in a few hours. Get some rest while they do.”


“Thank you,” Giles says sincerely.


She leaves and Giles gently places his son into the bassinet and wheels it over closer to the bed. He climbs back in, places a soft kiss on Buffy’s temple and lowers the bed a few inches, still keeping a little bit of an incline. Buffy snuggles into him, using his shoulder as a pillow, and he places a protective arm around her.


His eyelids are heavy, but there is one thing left to do. The Latin easily rolls off his tongue and when the protective ward finishes weaving around the room, Giles finally allows himself to relax. The morning will bring more excitement as Dawn and Xander and Willow will come to meet little Thomas and check on Buffy; and if all goes well, his wife and son will be released to go home in the evening. It seems like too short a stay for Giles, yet he knows that both he and Buffy will feel better once they get their son home.


But for now, it is the three of them together in the protected room. His little family. Giles reaches over and places his hand in the bassinet, his fingers touching Thomas’ swaddled side. He can feel his son breathing and he takes one more deep breath before sleep overtakes him as he holds Buffy close.