Her fingers drum erratically against the chair armrests, the edge of the table, her knees. The magazine rack, the phone in her lap, the other armrest, the armrest of the chair next to her, and then Spike’s had enough.
“Alright, what are you on?” he snaps, glancing up from the Good Housekeeping he grabbed from the rack. “And why didn’t you share?”
“What?” Buffy says, distracted. He throws a pointed glare at her frantic hands. “Oh,” she says, sounding exhausted. “I just… hate hospitals.”
“Yeah, you said that. Twenty-seven times.”
“Yeah, well that’s because I hate hospitals.”
Buffy groans and twists her hair back into a bun, just for something to do with her hands. After a second she gets sick of that and lets her hair back down. “I’m worried,” she says, as if it’s some revelation. “I mean, she’s my only sister.”
“Well, if something happens to this one, I’m sure the monks’ll just make you a new one,” he jokes. Buffy turns to him with an even expression.
“Can I see that magazine?”
“Sure,” he says, handing it over. She promptly rolls it up and thwacks him over the head with it. “Ow.”
“Will you just admit that you’re getting incredibly worked up over nothing?” he says, and she won’t.
“What if there are complications?” she says. “What if something goes wrong? I’ve… I can’t sit still. I have to go kill something.”
As she starts to get up, Spike snags the back of her sweatshirt and pulls her back down. “If I’d known you were gonna act like this I would’ve picked you up to come here much later, love.”
“Let me go.”
“You’re being irrational.”
“Well!” she says, but gives in and settles back in her seat. “I… I hate hospitals.”
“Twenty-nine,” he mutters. Then—“I don’t get what the big deal is. Hospitals are... nice. Families coming together. Everyone’s hugging and holding hands and it’s all just sort of…” He catches her staring. “And blood! Loads of blood. Love the blood. Gore. Sickness. Wonderful.”
“Hospitals are creepy,” Buffy says. “People just… come here to die. I don’t like it.”
“You spend most of your time in graveyards.”
“That’s different,” she says. “Everyone’s already dead.”
“How is that better?”
She won’t give him back his magazine so it’s either make conversation with his unbelievably tense girlfriend or sit there in utter silence.
Spike goes for the latter—or, at least, it would have been utter silence if Buffy hadn’t resumed her incessant finger-drumming. They’re locked into that holding pattern for another twenty minutes before Xander finally shows up, openly weeping.
Buffy hops out of the chair like she’s been electrocuted. “Is she-”
“Yeah, she’s fine, Buff,” he says, smiling through the tears. “They’re both… oh my God. Just come on.”
Buffy actually runs to the hospital room, Spike and Xander not far behind. It’s a private room, thank God, and she barges in without knocking or glancing back behind her at her boyfriend and her brother-in-law.
And then there’s Dawn, looking flushed and sweaty and exhausted but beaming, a tiny bundle nested carefully in her arms.
“Hey,” she says, looking up at Buffy. “How are ya feeling?”
“What?” Buffy coughs. “How are you feeling?”
Dawn says somberly, “I’m on a lot of drugs right now,” and then laughs. “I think I’m holding the baby. I’m holding the baby, right?”
“Yeah,” says Buffy, barely registering the fact that they’re both whispering. “What, um, what kind is it?” she says, having left her grasp of the English language back in the waiting room.
“The cute kind,” Dawn says, looking down at her newborn’s sleeping face.
The door opens again and Xander and Spike walk in. “She’s a girl,” Xander says, trying in vain to wipe his eyes even as he continues to cry. “She’s a baby girl.”
“What other kind of girl would she be?” Spike grumbles, walking over to Dawn’s hospital bed. “Stellar job, Little Bit. Looks just like you.”
“Aww,” Dawn says. “Please don’t say that, actually. She’s all red and wrinkly and bald.”
“She’s beautiful,” Xander says, going to stand on the other side of the bed. “I… I can’t stop crying.”
“Well, that’s okay,” Dawn says, but she’s smirking. “Childbirth is, like, a really emotional time. All those hormones. Your uterus is going berserkers. Oh, wait…”
“Ha ha,” he says, and leans down to kiss her.
Just then, the door goes flying open and Willow crashes into the room shouting, “Did I miss it? Did I miss it?”
“Yeah, Will, you missed the whole beginning part,” Xander says. “We’re already looking at colleges. What do you know about Columbia?”
“Oh,” she says, heading toward Spike’s side of the bed. Buffy’s still frozen near the doorway. “Dawnie, she’s beautiful. She, right? I just… assumed…”
“Yup,” Dawn says, still grinning.
“Ooh, what’d you name her?” Willow says, glancing between Dawn and Xander, who suddenly look a little guilty.
“Well,” Xander starts, “see, we’d been talking about something like… Joyce Tara, or Tara Joyce Anya, or Anya Tara Joyce, or something… but the thing is. I mean, we loved all those people. A lot. We just-”
“We hated all their names,” Dawn says, sheepish. “So she’s Alyssa Rey.”
“Alyssa Rey,” Buffy repeats, looking at Dawn and Xander and their baby and this tiny bubble of happiness somehow manifesting here, in a hospital. “Oh my God. I have a niece.”
“You all do,” Xander says, and now Buffy’s joined in on the crying. As she goes to stand on his side of Dawn, she hugs him. “She’s your niece, too,” he says to Willow, his best friend, and to Spike, a man he once hated.
“Yeah,” Buffy says through the tears, “but I’m the only one who’s blood-related!”
“There ya go,” Xander says, grinning.
Buffy looks down at her sister and her new baby niece. Dawn and Alyssa. “You’re okay, right?” she says in a voice barely above a whisper.
“Oh yeah,” Dawn says, smiling. “Yeah, we’re okay.”