stbethadettes: (let she who has not sinned)
[personal profile] stbethadettes
"They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese?"

"No, man, they got the metric system. They wouldn't know what the fuck a Quarter Pounder is."

"Then what do they call it?"

"They call it a Royale with cheese."

"A Royale with cheese. What do they call a Big Mac?"

"Well, a Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it le Big-Mac."

"Le Big-Mac. Ha ha ha ha. What do they call a Whopper?"


"Beth," she mutters dryly under her breath, then glances sideways to give Spike an almost apologetic little smile.

It wasn't really a movie date they'd planned. It was kind of an impromptu thing. Spike had been stretched out with a book, and she'd swooped down on him with hey, I'm going to watch a movie, okay? Fortunately, he didn't mind.

Or if he did, he decided discretion was the better part of valor where battles with his huge pregnant girlfriend are concerned.

Date: 2006-09-15 12:03 am (UTC)
not_that_spike: (relaxing)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
Books are... always there. Always. They don't get up and walk away, although he's had a few stolen. Some of the better ones, and he's always suspected Faye but since he's a gentleman, he'd never even have considered invading her room on the Bebop to see whether or not he was right about that. The nice thing about books is that you can always buy them again, and he wonders if they had Amazon.com back in Beth's world before the plague. It's fun letting the delivery system track down the Bebop and half the time the cost of shipping is more than the book itself, but still, it's kind of fun. He's always liked the anticipation of knowing a thing was going to arrive, but never quite knowing when or where.

So when Beth told him movie (and at least it wasn't repent or burn), he said sure and so here they are, learning all about Royales with cheese and five dollar milkshakes and some guy named Marcellus Wallace and all that shit for the second time. But they haven't seen this one in a long time and he liked it a lot the first time, so here they are, stretched out on the bed watching Pulp Fiction. And since he moved the bureau to make room for Junior's swing, they get to rest on their sides to watch. He can't complain about that arrangement, either: Beth's kind of nestled into him, her back to his front, and he's propped up on his left side, right arm playing with her hair, her shirt sleeve, her arm.

It's kind of one of those nice, mellow moments. In the movie, Jules and Vincent are pulling .45s out of the car trunk, talking about how shotguns would've been better. Knowing what's coming up, Spike can't help but agree with that on a purely professional basis: less room for error. But in close quarters, sometimes, smaller is better.

Or not.

Beth's anything but small, and she's fucking great. She's the best.

Date: 2006-09-15 12:43 am (UTC)
not_that_spike: (stubborn show-off)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
She's more fun to watch than the movie, and so he does. He likes the way her eyes shut when he plays with her hair and he tries real hard not to be obvious about watching her, but the truth is he's seen enough gunplay in his life; he doesn't need to watch it in a movie. It's funny in this context, sure, but it's also a little bit painful. He knows guys like those two; he knows a lot of them.

Or at least he did. He killed a bunch of them last time he was on Mars; like Jules and Vincent, they probably thought it was just a routine day on the job too.

More than almost anything, he wants to protect Beth Junior from that kind of shit. He doesn't want her to know the bite of a bullet ripping into flesh and bone. He doesn't want her to know that warm-cold feeling of blood spreading out of a wound. He doesn't want her to see that kind of shit and he smiles to himself just a little bit: protective much, bounty hunter?

But then Beth's hand is on his and his thoughts redirect to her: to the warmth of her skin and the shine of her hair and the bulge of her stomach, and he leans over and plants a kiss to her neck. Hell, it's right there, and he's never claimed to be anything but an opportunist.

Date: 2006-09-15 01:09 am (UTC)
not_that_spike: (perplexed)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
His first thought is shit, she's seen this movie before; she knew they were going to shoot the hell out of that guy as soon as he bolted out of the bathroom but he realizes pretty damn fast that's not it. That's not it at all.

She really is squeezing the hell out of his hand.

"Beth?"

It kind of hurts: she's strong. He knows that about her, though. "Something the matter?"

He doesn't move an inch.

Date: 2006-09-15 01:40 am (UTC)
not_that_spike: (hurting)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
"Let me get that watch." Since that first night she had contractions they've been smart; it's been right by the side of the bed instead of buried away in the back of the dresser drawer. He extricates from her a little but doesn't let go of her hand; instead, he works his way onto his knees and reaches over to the nightstand with his other hand, glad as hell his ribs are healed enough to let him do this.

Flipping open the cover on it, he nods. "6:30." A nice, round number on the clock dial; that will be easy to remember. "Does this feel like the other contractions?"

He has a whole host of other questions too: should I turn off the movie? You want me to rub your back? Get you anything? This isn't the real thing, is it? He really doesn't know if he's ready for the answer to that last one, so he doesn't ask it. But from the way she's moving, curling, clutching at his hand like it's the only life raft in the ocean, this seems different and for a split second he's glad her back is turned because he has to blink a few times real suddenly.

And then he gets smart and cradles her in his arms again, just like before, with Joe's watch held out where they can both see it if they want.

Date: 2006-09-15 02:27 am (UTC)
not_that_spike: (pondering)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
She's not answering.

That's... different, maybe not in a good way. All he can do is let her squeeze the fuck out of his hand and just be there, which he hopes like hell is helpful enough. Out of all the things he's been through, this is one thing he can't even begin to think about in terms of how it must feel. Sure, he's had busted ribs (arguably the most painful bone injury of all) more times than he likes to admit. He's been shot in the stomach and sliced open there but shit, these are contractions. Whether this is the real thing or not, it's Junior's way of preparing to be born and that... well, it's such a humbling thing; he can't qualify it at all in terms of his own experience.

So he lies there with her, the movie completely forgotten, Beth and her comfort the only things on his mind.

Date: 2006-09-15 03:03 am (UTC)
not_that_spike: (tired of it all)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
Okay, now he can breathe again

(I didn't realize I wasn't)

and so he stretches his hand out once, twice, and a third time

(things go better in threes)

before flicking the watch shut and moving his cramped hand to her hip. It likes being there; it feels like home. On screen, Vincent Vega's getting advice on dating (but not really) his boss's wife. It would be even more amusing if Spike didn't feel like he had to be on alert for more contractions, but shit, Beth will tell him if there's another.

"You want some water or anything?" He doesn't expect any more of an answer to this than to his last question, but a guy never knows. And at least he can make the offer.

Date: 2006-09-15 03:22 am (UTC)
not_that_spike: (taking things apart)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
Good: something he can do. Something tangible, something measurable. It isn't that he's never been good at waiting, because he has been and can be. But in this situation, he wants to be able to contribute something.

So he springs out of bed, pretty much, and heads to the bathroom for her little blue cup. When she was gone, it was one of the things he couldn't even look at for remembering her: it was too painful in an innocent sort of way. But now that she's back, it's a lot more innocuous. He fills it and walks back holding it carefully, like it's precious cargo, to find her sitting up instead of lying down.

"Here you go, ma'am. If you need anything else -- you know, like a five dollar milkshake -- just put your lips together and blow." There's not a single solitary reason he wouldn't go to the ends of the universe for her right now... or ever.

Date: 2006-09-15 03:45 am (UTC)
not_that_spike: (bored)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
"Any time, Slim. I mean it." He sits next to her, all feigned casual, all attitude, all skinny long legs and arm around her. "I'll even take you to Jackrabbit Slim's for dinner if you want." He never thought about the Slim in the movie restaurant's name before, but seeing as how it's her nickname too and has been all through this pregnancy and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, it kind of makes him laugh.

He relaxes back into what he hopes looks like a bored-as-hell slump: yup, just another evening in Room 8 with contractions. They've been through it a few times now and while he doesn't really want it to become a regular occurrence, he's okay with it doing whatever it does. It's not like he has the power to make anything about it different, after all.

Whatever happens happens... whenever it chooses.

Date: 2006-09-15 04:44 am (UTC)
not_that_spike: (skeptical)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
If her arm wasn't resting in his, he might not have noticed right away but as it is, he does, and the watch isn't the first thing on his mind. No, it's the tautness in the curve of her body, and the way her fingertips are stark white, and even though he doesn't take quite as much time to study her as he normally likes to do, he can tell these contractions aren't like the other ones.

Fuck.

Now, the watch snaps open: 6:41. It's only been ten minutes since the other one ended. At this rate... well, hell, he has no idea what this rate is or what it means, except he has to keep watching. Think, think, think, asshole: you've read that part of the book a hundred times. When do we have to start worrying? He thinks it's when she starts swearing, but he knows he just made that up; it's not what the book says. The book says something like... what the fuck does it say? His mind is a blank.

Breathe.

Right: that's what he's supposed to be telling Beth to do. And then it comes flooding back: if the contractions are more frequent than every five minutes and last for more than a minute consistently, then the time's getting near.

And suddenly, his brain kicks into high gear. "Let me time these, Beth. I'll take care of that part. You just breathe, Slim. Breathe. I'm right here." The second hand on the watch has to be moving in slow fucking motion. It has to be.

Or else things have just moved into a different gear entirely. Ten seconds, fifteen, twenty. Twenty-five. Thirty. Thirty-five, forty. At forty-five seconds, he sees her hands uncurl and her jaw relax. "Okay. That was ten minutes after the first, and lasted 45 seconds."

He doesn't need to write it down: there's no fucking way he'll forget.

Date: 2006-09-15 06:00 am (UTC)
not_that_spike: (adorable)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
His lips threaten to curl into a smile and he's kind of helpless to keep them from doing it. "I think we're good, Beth. It's when they're less than five minutes apart that... what do they call it, the second phase? begins." That camera in his eye is replaying all sorts of shit from the book now and he knows the second phase is also called the active phase of labor, but he's not going to call it that, not in front of Beth. This first phase -- if that's what it is -- is looking pretty fucking active to him, and he doesn't want to piss her off.

Nope. That can wait till the third phase, the transition phase. The book says she might get a little bit irritable during that one, but it also doesn't last as long as the first two phases. He promised her she could swear at him all she wanted when she was in labor, and he meant it.

He just doesn't want her to start quite yet; he runs his forefinger up and down her arm gently. "How's your back? Want me to rub it for you?" According to the book, her backache is only going to get worse, but... that's something else he's not going to mention to her. She'll feel it when she feels it.

"Or... we could watch the movie."

It's just another option.

"Or anything else you wanted to do."

Date: 2006-09-15 06:17 am (UTC)
not_that_spike: (so you didn't come because of the rain.)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
Reaching for the remote, he clicks off the movie: now's not the time. If this isn't real labor, they can turn it on again but right now her question seems the more pressing concern. Pulp Fiction isn't going anywhere.

At least he has the luxury of taking a moment to study her face, her expression, the way she's holding herself. "I... don't know, Slim. That book says the woman will know when it's real labor, not the guy who's sitting there with her. I wish I could tell you, one way or the other, but the best I can do is time them and wait for pure and utter panic to set in. For me, I mean, not for you."

But he laughs as he says it; he knows the way he works with these things. He'll be calm as fuck during it, and then, once it's over, he'll have his own little breakdown. It's just the way he is, the way he's always been. Flicking open the cover on the watch, he glances down at it and back to Beth. "Having this thing open doesn't make a damn thing happen in there." So very gently, he pats her belly.

"So, is your back okay, or is it okay if I rub it for you?"

Date: 2006-09-15 06:46 am (UTC)
not_that_spike: (fatalistic with a smile)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
"All right." His touch is gentle, softer than usual, as he draws circles on her back with the palm of his hand. "Look on the bright side of things, Slim. If this is really it -- if it's time -- you'll be able to sleep on your stomach again soon and we won't even need zero-g for it."

Deep in his heart, he thinks this type of thing looks so damn different from the other contractions that he'd put money on Junior having decided she's ready to check out of Hotel Beth. "And if this is it, Beth, try to remember one real important thing throughout the whole experience: there's a guy sitting over here -- just some humble bounty hunter -- who loves you like crazy and who'll do anything in the universe for you."

Inside, he's scared as hell, and he doesn't scare easily. But this is so fucking brand new, and any sense of calm he might project is just smoke and mirrors honed by years and years of practice.

Date: 2006-09-15 07:05 am (UTC)
not_that_spike: (love you Beth)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
That's his Beth: the question makes him smile. "Hell yeah, ma'am, go for it. I want to see those guys win their dance contest."

As long as he can keep rubbing her back, he's good with it; the remote goes right to Beth so she can take the movie off pause.

His hands are busy.

The fact that he hasn't had to refer to the book yet feels like some misguided badge of honor, too; it fills him with a little extra pride, a little gratitude for his memory being as good as it is. Jet used to tell him it was his eyes that were too sharp but that wasn't really it: he just has a pretty decent brain.

He thinks.

And maybe -- just maybe -- this is another false alarm after all. If it is, he's going to go downstairs himself and get Beth her own five dollar milkshake.

And then he's going to get himself a really good bottle of tequila... and drink it.

Date: 2006-09-15 04:15 pm (UTC)
not_that_spike: (remembering on mars)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
"Okay."

He's ready for them to fucking stop too, but this disassociated and small part of him monitoring the situation knows it's not going to stop like the other ones did; it's going to keep going and it's going to get worse and the contractions will become more frequent. And then, after some unknown period of time, he'll make his way down the hall and tell Hero it's time and bring her back and get relegated to whatever spot works best for Beth, because he doesn't know how to coach her through this. The end of the universe didn't give them the luxury of labor classes or breathing classes; the only shit he knows about this is shit he's read.

He also knows, in a far more intimate and involved way, that these are the last few moments he's going to have alone with Beth for a long fucking time and that's when the emotional piece of his brain takes this stunning leap to the front of the class, hand held high for attention. Shit! We're about to have a baby here, pal. In a few hours or a few days or whenever, everything's going to be different. There's going to be Beth and Beth Junior, who's been a part of her body for not just nine months but two fucking years... and then there will be that guy over there.

Fuck you, it won't be like that,
he argues back, all the while helplessly rubbing her back because it's the only thing he can do. It won't be like that. I'm not going to be some annoyance, some appendage she doesn't want. Besides, I kind of love that baby so much already that it hurts, so back the fuck off.

At least he's able to swallow back those thoughts. Right now, this isn't about him, and it's sure as hell not about him being some needy bastard. It's about Beth, about making her comfortable, about doing what little things he can to help her as much as he can.

He doesn't like feeling helpless, but at the same time the only thing he can do is to just be here. Taking a chance as Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon plays in the background, he leans over and kisses her forehead. There won't be any interrogation about what can I do because she's got enough on her mind. Pretty much all he can do is what he's doing: rubbing her back, timing contractions, just kind of being there. It's not entirely useless.

Date: 2006-09-15 05:03 pm (UTC)
not_that_spike: (adorable)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
There's nothing but this extreme fondness written all over his face now: even though he never wanted kids, he sure as hell wants and has wanted Beth. Even if this baby isn't something he'd have chosen if the cards had all been laid out on the table, every potential future revealed, he's still glad as hell it's happening. First, it's a challenge and he never shies away from those but second (and more importantly), he loves Beth. Whatever happens to her, for her, with her... he'll take it. For better or for worse, as the saying goes, he'll not only take it but he wants it. So what if he's always been a sucker for a pretty blonde with a great smile?

He really loves her, and her thing about practice runs makes him laugh, pulls him out of his private little reverie moment and back into the present, which is kind of really where he needs to be. "Hell yeah, Slim: that first practice run was really something. I'm glad I had that heart attack back then, because see how well I'm doing today? No oh fuck, at least not out loud and not yet."

He's not paying attention to the movie, but he learned his lesson about turning it off; he won't be doing that until she tells him to do it right fucking now. So it plays on in the background, and he stops rubbing her back just long enough to brush the hair back from her face.

"Just wanted to see if you were packing any fortune telling fish in there, ma'am."

Date: 2006-09-15 07:50 pm (UTC)
not_that_spike: (you're so damn beautiful)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
First they were ten minutes apart, then around eight, and now they're six. That idle fantasy of this isn't it, let's go drinking shrinks away and fades in a sudden surreal pop.

If Beth wasn't about to have a baby, he'd offer her a smoke. But he's smarter than that, so he doesn't. When she puts down the remote he takes that hand in his, sandwiches it between his own two hands. Trying to remember everything the book says is an exercise in futility, but he does remember a few things and doesn't feel like he has to double-check it or anything. No, he's read that book enough times to feel pretty damn confident his memory isn't faulty; it's been like cramming for an exam and now it's showtime and the most important information floods back in.

"You want to walk around at all? Just in here, or up and down the halls?" The book says it can help, but he's thinking fuck the book: only if Beth wants to do it. It's just that he's watched her face and seen it wracked with pain during every contraction and there's not a damn thing he can do about that -- he knows that much -- but maybe moving around is just a good alternative to lying there curled up. He's got a feeling there's plenty of time left for that.

There's nothing in his past that's prepared him for this moment... with the exception of those practice contractions. Joe's watch is pretty much glued to him now, like it's worn a groove right into his palm, and he knows he fixates on little things. Like Beth's blue cup, or on the constellations she painted on their ceiling, or on the baby's swing sitting and waiting across the room.

When it's time, he'll go get Hero. When they're down to four minutes apart, he'll go get her. In the meantime he gives her hand a squeeze and stands and moves to the bureau where all those towels and blankets and sheets are, and swallows hard. Odds are, no one's ever really ready for a moment like this.

He feels very young, very inadequate, very far away.

Date: 2006-09-15 08:41 pm (UTC)
not_that_spike: (remembering on mars)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
"Let me fix those for you." In a flash he's down on one knee, tying those running shoes for her before she can even complain. And then he's standing again, his arm around her waist protectively, taking little baby steps with her.

If the universe was at my disposal, where would I go?

It's an interesting question his psyche has posed, but he knows the answer without hesitation.

Wherever Beth is.

"Yo. Slim. We could start small, just in this room, and if it feels good, expand the trip to the immediate hallway. Sound okay?" He's really fucking good at projecting calm in the midst of chaos. She's seen him do it, too: at the spaceport in Mars-L.A. At his father's apartment. Here, the first time she had contractions although maybe that wasn't his most stellar performance; he'll have to think about that one.

"Got the watch, so we'll know." Hell, he'll know if they're getting closer; he has a good sense for that kind of shit. "But before we walk, just one thing." Turning his head, he studies her face, memorizes her face

(click)

before pressing his lips to her forehead. "This is the single scariest day of my life, Beth, but... it's okay. It's going to be fine. I'm right here with you, for as long as you can stand me, okay?"

The smile on his face softens: he hopes she can stand him for a long, long time. Years and years.

Decades.

Date: 2006-09-15 11:27 pm (UTC)
not_that_spike: (fatalistic with a smile)
From: [personal profile] not_that_spike
"Nice is overrated." It takes no time at all to get to the door; he opens it and peers into the hallway. "Coast is clear, ma'am. No other pregnant chicks out here fighting for territory." Despite the situation, he laughs; what's he supposed to do, be all solemn and shit? Hell, he can't do that.

"Hey. Elizabeth Catherine." The words sound so strange: she's Beth, Beth in his mind, his heart. But it does catch her attention. "I think if you look in the records, you'll see it written pretty damn clearly that I gave you permission to swear at me as much as you want while you're in labor, and I don't give a fuck if this is the so-called active stage or the early stage or what: do what you need to do. I won't take it personal. I promise."

This is the one place where he feels perfectly justified. And unless Junior pops out with a head of green hair looking just like him -- which he seriously doubts because as Doc reminded him, those contraceptive nanobots rarely fail -- he can tell her it wasn't his fault.

Somehow, though, he knows he won't. She can curse like a sailor or squeeze the fuck out of his hand or arm. She can be as mean as she needs to be: he'll still be there. That's just the kind of guy he is. And... even if she tells him to leave, he probably won't go. No, scratch that: he definitely won't go. He promised he'd be there with her, and damn if he's not really fucking good at keeping his promises.

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