Scenes From a Life Not Lived: The Gift
by Trekker

Gentle fingers brushed his shoulders, and when he looked up, he found himself looking into solemn brown eyes.

“Jenny... I... I thought we agreed you’d go?”

She ducked her head, turned and lowered herself into the plastic chair beside his own.

“I-- You needed me. I just... I just knew you needed me.”

The battered old clock across the hall told him it was noon, and he realized he’d been awake for... Good lord, at least forty-eight hours. His chest was aching like someone had replaced his left lung with slow-burning charcoal. He’d been dealing with the hospital staff and the police since somewhere around six a.m....

And Buffy’s body was wrapped in a blanket on his couch back at home.

Suddenly, even the light weight of Jenny’s arm around his shoulder felt like an anvil, and he turned towards her, his knee bumped hers, and he buried his face against her neck.

“God. Jenny. She’s... Buffy’s...”

‘I know. Shh. I know. I saw Xander.”

It was an awkward position, turned towards each other in unyielding hospital chairs, his larger frame trying to curl up inside her smaller one, and the swell of her stomach between them just making them that much less able to properly intertwine, and yet, even having her there, feeling the warmth of her arm around her back and her other hand stroking his hair...

He gasped a wet and broken sob against her shoulder, and she just held him tighter, silently. He guessed she knew as well as he did that words... that there were no words. Nothing that could--

Then she tensed, and gasped, and he pulled back in concern, trying to see her through the blur of tears.


“Oh God... Oh, god, I think that was a contraction.”

He could only stare.


They’d said it was all right, nothing to be ashamed of. Lots of men couldn’t bear to see the woman they loved in so much pain.

But not him. He was supposed to be strong. He fought demons. He... he.. trained Slayers.

But he couldn’t hack it. The first time she’d squeezed his hand and gasped that it *hurt, hurt so bad*, he’d bolted, like a scared deer, straight to the nearest restroom where he’d dry-heaved into the toilet, because, god knew, it wasn’t like he’d had time to *eat* anything at any point in the near past.

He’d taken a deep breath, walked back to the delivery room, even had his hand on the door handle... but then he’d heard her groan, and he’d simply walked away. All the way down the hall to the small waiting room there where all the mobile members of the shell-shocked Scooby Gang, right now Willow, Tara, and Xander, had gathered.

“Hey, Giles. What’s the news?” Xander had said, tossing aside a magazine and looking up expectantly.

He’d snatched off his glasses, cleaned them automatically, sat down, didn’t meet anyone’s eyes.


And it was only the rising note of panic in Willow’s voice that forced the words from him: “I-I-I... I can’t.”

“Can’t? They won’t let you in? You’re... you’re her husband... it’s even legit and all,” Xander protested.

“I can’t... watch her suffer. I... She...”

He was back on his feet, pacing the small room.

“Damn. She needs me, and I’m such a coward I can’t even--”

Then another small hand was touching his arm, and he found Willow there, looking up at him with soft concern.

“Hey. Don’t. We’ve all been hurt enough tonight, I think. We really don’t need to be adding self-inflicted badness, ok? Stay here. I’ll go. She won’t be alone.”

He’d returned to his chair after she left, but he could feel Xander’s eyes weighing heavily on him.

He decided not to deal with it.

He just leaned back, shut his eyes, and the next thing he knew, someone was gently shaking him. He sat up, blinked the sleep away, and Willow smiled down at him, and said, “Come with me,” and then took his hand like he was a child, and led him down the hall and back into the room he’d fled.

Jenny looked anything but condemning as he came to stand next to the bed.

“Look,” she whispered, and shifted the small bundle in her arms.

For the second time in twenty-four hours, his world stopped, as he caught his first glimpse of pink skin peeking out of the blankets.

“Oh,” he said, barely above a whisper, “Can... can I...?”

Jenny smiled a tired, but still characteristically wry, smile.

“She’s yours, too, Ru... you’re gonna have to hold her at some point, cause I am *not* gonna be doing all the 2 a.m. feedings on my own.”

But he was too amazed to reply or even react, because now the tiny thing was in his hands, and, oh, it was warm, and it moved, and it was a real, solid weight in his arms... and, there, in all those blankets, was a little, tiny person. A scrunched-up red face, squinty eyes, one tiny pink hand with tiny pink fingers peeking out and clenching and opening.

“She?” he said, softly, looking down in wonder at this perfect little being that they had somehow been deemed worthy to have.

“She,” Jenny confirmed, as he reached to touch the little hand with his own finger, which looked so huge and unwieldy now, against the tininess...

And when his fingertip touched her palm, her fingers closed around it, light as butterfly wings. Daughter. His daughter.

“Hello, there,” he said, and she peered up at him, her brows drawn together as if perplexed. He smiled, so soon after he’d been sure he’d never smile again.

“Welcome to the world... Annie.”

The End
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