See Prologue for disclaimer
Chapter 7 – Home
Four days later, Buffy was thinking some power was preventing them from the talk she wanted to have; every time they settled in for a serious discussion they were interrupted by one of the nursing staff or as in now Giles had been called away by Anya, to tend to some legality issue at the Magic Box. She decided to take this opportunity to visit Aria. Just as she was putting on her sneakers the doctor entered the room. He was surprised to see how much improved his patient was.
“I’d like to do a full diagnostic on you; make sure your heart wasn’t damaged.”
“My heart is way north of the baby making area why would I need that?”
“Mr. Giles didn’t tell you?” he saw her perplexed look, “Of course why should he. As you know you had the emergency c-section. Well, you were hemorrhaging and we had no choice but to perform a hysterectomy.”
Buffy sat on the bed, “You mean Aria …”
“Yes, she will be your only natural child. But there is more …” the doctor went on to explain the cardiac arrests and second surgery she had to go in for. “The last time your heart stopped it took us three minutes to get it going again. With that amount of time there is a possibility there is permanent damage.”
“All right when would you like to test me?”
“Now, if you pass you’ll be going home by this evening.”
“Wow, this evening.” Buffy was elated but also apprehensive. She didn’t want to leave Aria yet.
Giles arrived at Buffy’s room just as she was getting back from the test. “Hello Buffy,” he said then kissed her temple.
Giles sure has been Mr. Affectionate lately. She thought. “Things all straightened out at the Magic Box?”
“Yes, there are times like these that I firmly believe lawyers are actually demons.”
“Hey, we should research that theory.” They both laughed at the prospect.
“Where you visiting Aria?” He asked.
“No, I just got back from a test.”
“Test?” a flash of concern played over his eyes and she could hear it in his tone.
“Several actually to make sure no damage was done to my heart which by the way thanks for telling me I died … again.”
“Buffy, I …”
“It’s okay I forgive you.” She said playfully. “The doctors coming by later with the results but I think I passed. Wanna go visit with me?”
“Need you ask?”
As they walked toward the elevators, Giles took Buffy’s hand in his. She looked at him quizzically. “Would you rather I didn’t?”
“No, I’m just not used to it is all.”
At every visit Buffy had with Aria, Buffy would hold her for the entire time. Giles knew this was a wonderful bonding moment for her and her daughter but he couldn’t help but feel a little jealous. He missed the private time he had with Aria during her first couple of days. There were times that he thought Buffy was intentionally keeping Aria from him but he figured it must be his imagination.
Aria was placed into Buffy’s arms and she cradled Aria to her chest. Buffy spoke using soft tones, “Just wait till you are out of here. You’ll get to meet your aunties, Willow, Tara and Anya also uncle Xander. They are wonderful people who will help to protect you. There are so many weird rules we have in our home but you’ll get use to them.”
Buffy tugged on Giles sleeve, “Look, look she’s trying to look up at you.”
Giles crouched to Aria’s level, “Hello little one. How are you today?” Aria gave a small squeak. “Oh, really; you don’t say.”
“What, you understand her?”
“Of course, it’s just another language.” Giles said in all seriousness.
“Then what did she say?”
Giles thought a moment he could use this opportunity to say things to Buffy using Aria as his excuse. “She says your arms are like a warm blanket that she feels very safe in and that she hopes to grow to be as beautiful as you one day.”
“All that with one little squeak.” Buffy chided.
“Oh yes, infantese is a very compact language.”
Two nurses who had been in close proximity had heard the conversation. One said to the other, “He is such an amazing father.”
Buffy was about to set the nurses straight about Aria’s parentage but a monitor for another infant went off and they went to check on it.
By the time Buffy returned to her hospital room the nurses were gathered to give her the good news that she would be going home today; the doctor had signed her discharge papers.
With a heavy heart Buffy packed up the things she had obtained during her stay at the hospital. She gave a hug to each of the staff members who had assisted in her care then she and Giles left.
As they approached the house she could see a large banner hanging across the porch. ‘WELCOME HOME BUFFY’ it read.
They entered through the front door and was showered with little pieces of pink and blue confetti. The people in the living room yelled in unison “Happy Baby Shower!”
“What …?” Buffy looked to Giles, “You knew about this, didn’t you?”
He put his hands in his pockets, “Well…”
“He told us before you left the hospital. We decorated the house and got everything ready yesterday so that it would be all set at a moment’s notice.” Willow chimed in.
“Come on Buff, let’s get this party started.”
She was shown to a decorated chair placed in the middle of the living room. Giles started to leave the young adults to their fun. “Giles, where you going?” Buffy called to him. “If I have to sit through this so do you. Xander get another chair and put it beside me.”
“Um … sure.” Xander set out to accomplish the task.
There were several large brightly wrapped gifts leaning against the wall and several smaller ones on the coffee table. Anya handed the gifts to Buffy and Willow recorded what they were and who they were from so Buffy could send out ‘proper’ thank you cards.
The smaller items had things like, protective covers for the outlets, safety catches for the kitchen drawers, bibs, pacifiers, rattles, clothes, crib linens; the typical shower gifts. The next one she opened was a combination stroller and car-seat.
“Okay Buffy you have to come over here to open this one ‘cause it is way to heavy for me to bring it to you.”
When she removed the wrapping paper she saw it was the crib she had been drooling over before she went into the hospital. Glancing at Giles she said, “Thank you so much.”
Then she did something the others weren’t sure actually happened. After wrapping Giles in a hug she gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“You are most welcome.” He blushed.
She stepped back from the embrace. “Thank you everyone. These are all awesome gifts.”
“Oh then you’ll like the last one.” Willow said.
“Last one, I thought the crib was …” Tara was shaking her head.
“Nope, we just couldn’t bring it to you; you have to go to it.” Xander informed her.
“All right, what’s going on?” Giles shrugged his shoulders when she looked to him.
“Got the blindfold? I heard when there is a big reveal that you’re supposed to blindfold the recipient.” Anya said with excitement.
“I’m not wearing a blindfold.” Buffy protested. “I’ll close my eyes and promise not to peek.”
Buffy was lead up the stairs and bumped against a closed door. “Oops sorry,” Xander said, “That was supposed to be open.” He opened the door and Giles led Buffy in.
“You can open your eyes now.” Xander’s tone though excited was soft.
With eyes now open, she didn’t know what to say. “Um … thanks guys. It’s … perfect?” her voice echoed back.
Buffy was standing in a completely bare room; there wasn’t a cobweb or dust-bunny to be seen anywhere. The walls were stripped of the pinstripe wallpaper that had been there, when she and her mom moved in. The two windows, opposite the entrance, were bare of any window treatments.
Tara, noticing Buffy’s baffled expression said “T-try not to see it as it is now but what it will look like when it’s done.”
“Tara is right; just tell us the colors you want and presto change-o you’ve got one stylish nursery.”
Buffy wheeled around and grabbed both Xander and Willow in a hug, “A nursery! You guys are making this into a nursery for me?”
“Not for you, for the baby. What do you need a nursery for, you’re grown.” Anya, said; then added, “Willow, Tara and I are going to put the finishing touches on it after Xander and his crew complete all the manly work.”
“It will be ideal; the room is next to the master bedroom…” Giles began.
“But my room is down the hall?” Buffy interrupted.
“Well we thought, maybe for a while … cause you might want to keep her in your room at first … that you’d want to change rooms. Cause the master is so much larger … you can fit a bassinet and a rocker.” Willow blurted out not sure how Buffy would like the idea. After all it was only less than a year ago that Joyce passed away.
“Willow is right, it will give us …” Giles blushed, “I-I mean you a little more space.”
Willow and Xander exchanged looks with Tara but it was Anya who spoke, “When you move into the house maybe Tara and Willow can sublet your condo. It would be a very lucrative business deal for you.”
Giles scrunched his forehead; he and Buffy both spoke, “What!”
“Come on you spend all of you time together, you have a baby; all you need to do now is set the date and …”
Xander grabbed Anya by the shoulders and ushered her out of the room. “All right who’s hungry, I know I am; let’s go to the kitchen and get to the party food.”
Willow and Tara followed to avoid the discussion that seemed imminent between Watcher and Slayer.
Giles glanced at the floor stuffing his hands in his pockets, “I-I am sorry Buffy. I-I didn’t mean to, to insinuate … just we, we’ve been spending so much time together; It – it just slipped out.”
Buffy moved to stand in front of Giles so she could make him look her in the eyes. “Giles listen, our lives, yes I do mean our, have been a major rollercoaster ride these past eight months with a double spiral loop the loop here at the end. I know I couldn’t have done it without you.”
She wrapped him in another tight embrace which he reciprocated. Eventually she broke the hold and asked “Can we talk once the Scooby gang clears out?” He nodded and they headed out of the room and down to the kitchen where everyone else had gathered.
The baby shower was winding down so Willow, Tara and Anya helped with the clean up. No one had seen Aria yet, because of the NICU policy of only allowing two visitors at a time with one having to be a parent. Buffy started to tell them all about her daughter then suddenly she burst into tears. Giles held her until her crying wound down.
“Are you all right?”
“Yeah, I just miss Aria is all; we’re here and she’s way over in the hospital.”
“The hospital is only ten minutes from here?” Xander said
“I know but well she’s so small and vulnerable what if …”
“Shhh, you’ll work yourself into a frenzy.” Giles rubbed her back. “Trust me … she’s perfectly safe in the NICU.”
Something in his tone made the hair on Buffy’s neck stand on end. “Giles … what did you do?”
“I think this is our clue to skedaddle.” Xander said taking Anya by the hand.
“Yeah, we have … stuff to do at home too.” Willow and Tara followed.
“Thanks again guys for everything.” Buffy said as her friends headed out the door. Then she turned to Giles, “Are you going to answer my question or change the subject like you normally do?”
“What … what do you mean change the subject?”
“See you’re doing it again … asking me a question before you’ve answered mine.”
Giles let out a breath, okay I thought these mood swings were supposed to lessen after pregnancy.
His hesitation only fueled her anger. “Giles you said we’d talk so start talking.”
“What would you like to know?”
“First what did you do to the NICU?”
“The entrance to the NICU is locked like the front door of your home but the staff work in shifts, yes?” she nodded. “The infants, they’re there 24/7; where they are nourished, loved, and protected; so it is basically their home.”
Buffy crossed her arms over her chest, “So what did you do?”
“I-I warded the area to, to reinforce the idea … at least mystically … that the NICU is their home.”
“You warded the NICU.”
“Yes.” He thought she would be happy that he was protecting Aria.
“Willow told me, that wards are detectable by other beings.”
“Giles, you’ve lit a beacon; to where my daughter is; for anyone who’s looking.” Giles tried to say something but Buffy threw her hands up in the air. “How could you do this … I gotta get to the hospital.”
He stopped her just before she made it out the door. “Buffy …” he turned her toward him, “Buffy, trust me Aria is safe.”
“Trust you … I hardly know you …” He was stunned into silence. “All I know is the person you have shown me and the little glimpses to your past whenever Ethan rears his ugly head. So tell me why I can trust you.”
Giles decided to cut right to the chase about the warding spell. “First Willow is right to, to a point.” Buffy glared at him her anger rising, “It, it is easy to detect a ward set by a novice magick practitioner but not if it is set by a-a more experienced one. Second Ethan was taken by the initiative remember.”
“Yeah, well Riley told me he escaped before they came anywhere near the holding facility.”
“Is that all you’ve got to say, Oh.” She spun back toward the door. “I’m going to see Aria.”
“Let me get my …”
“I’m going alone. I need some time to think.”
“Of, of course. I-I’ll go to my flat.” Giles felt as though his heart were ripped from his chest.
Buffy paused at the doorway. She didn’t turn but did speak to him. “I’d rather you were here, when I got back; so we can talk.”
“I-I’ll be here.”
To be continued in Full Disclosure