stbethadettes: (nightmare)
Blessings on this journey.

The nun's mouth contorts to reveal unnaturally pointed teeth, and blood wells in her glowing eyes and drips down her face as the edges of her habit start to burn.

She gets closer and closer, and within seconds there's nothing left of her but all that fire and the fierce glow of those eyes.

Beth wakes with a cry of panic, and for a minute, she's disoriented as hell and can only pick up on the fact that she's not in St. Bernadette's.

I'm back?

It's just this one tiny little hopeful flicker, but she knows she's not back at the bar the instant she looks around. She's on a wheeled bed and (Where are my goddamn clothes?) she's in some kind of flimsy gown but at least it doesn't fall open at the front or back.

And there's Hero, right next to her.

"Where..." It looks like they're in some kind of dungeon. "Where are we?"
stbethadettes: (front of St. Bernadette's)
It's the first time someone's tried to enter the church since she's been back, and yeah, it kind of surprises her.

Sitting there on the front pew, her open book in her hand, Beth listens for a minute.

The amazons wouldn't bother with just trying to open the front doors. They'd get down to business, maybe shoot an arrow through another one of her goddamn windows. She doesn't expect decorum from those chicks.

Whoever it is will probably go away when they realize the doors are locked.

There's another push on the door, this one harder, and Beth quietly closes her book, putting it down, and stands up, just waiting.

They can't get in. They'll have to leave.
stbethadettes: (pregnant as hell)
It's been over three weeks, but it feels like it's been much longer.

Beth lowers herself into a squat and paws through the pile of books she'd borrowed from the library before she ever went to the bar.

"At this rate, we might finish reading some of these a second time before you're even born," she directs to her belly. "What do we feel like tonight? Fiction? Nonfiction? Flight manual? Shakespeare?" She glances to the desk. "Hell, we've even got a King James Bible or two, but let's skip those for now."

Looking down at the books again, she moves one paperback to the side. "I'm going to veto rereading The Catcher in the Rye right now, too. Sorry, kid." She rubs her belly with one hand and picks up another book with the other. "How about Dracula?"

Personally, she was kind of disappointed with it when she read it. But it'd be a change of pace.

"It's not really scary, and besides, there's nothing to worry about. I set your father on fire with a fucking lighter and a can of hair spray. Imagine what I'd do to anything out to hurt you."

She's smiling just a little as she pulls herself up again and heads out into the main area of the church to sit on a pew and start reading.

Only four paragraphs in, she hears the front doors being pushed.
stbethadettes: (glaring)
If she closes her eyes and sort of concentrates, she thinks she can remember exactly what Spike's voice sounds like when he says her name.

Those are the kind of thoughts that send her detouring to the nearest door to halfheartedly try it out before she does anything else.

If it ever worked, she wouldn't still be here.

Some people say there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. She's never been in denial; what happened is all too real for that. She's been angry, yes, and she's silently entreated the doors to open to the bar despite feeling that it was a stupid thing to do.

Acceptance, though, is what's underlying everything. She accepted the plague really quickly because she had to. She accepted the strangeness of the bar after a few days because she had to. Not that she minded.

And she's accepted showing up here again because she's had to. It's just not happy acceptance.

It sucks, to understate like Spike. It sucks a whole fucking lot, and there's not much she can safely do here now but sleep, think, read, think, clean, try to fit three small meals into each day, think, get into the occasional staring contest with the Jesus on the cross above the altar (she always loses those), and allow herself some time out in the churchyard for a while after dark most nights.

This place has a great sound system, and every now and then, back before she met Yorick, she'd play music. CDs weren't exactly being looted with the same intensity that food and toiletries were for the first few weeks after the plague, but once Beth settled here and discovered the sound system, she took some for herself.

It gets tempting sometimes to turn everything on and up and play something like Sympathy for the Devil to break the hush in here.

Now she just can't let herself take the chance.
stbethadettes: (you maybe want to holster that thing?)
Sitting on the grass in the churchyard, steps from the back door, Beth lets out a quiet oof, her hand resting on her belly again.

"What was that for, huh?"

She's smiling, though: the baby's been so active so long that she'd be worried if he suddenly stopped being such a goddamn kicker.

Her fingers rub gently over that itchy area close to her navel. She thinks she remembers reading something about it being common for that stretching skin to itch during pregnancy. Maybe in that book of Spike's.

She wouldn't mind having the reading material now.

If she could justify risking getting spotted on the walk to the library, she'd go for it. But she can't. Not when there are still those stupid amazons around to consider.

She's in no position to try to take on anybody. It's not just herself she has to think about now.

Besides, there's really nothing like being in your third trimester -- with the huge fucking belly to prove it -- to make you want to avoid trouble.

"I could just let you at any amazons I run into," she quietly tells the baby. "Those chicks wouldn't know what hit them."

Then the sharp crack of wood snapping somewhere on the other side of the churchyard fence breaks the silence around her, and Beth goes very still.

Narrowing her eyes as if squinting into the sun, she searches the darkness for signs of... something. People. Animals. Anything.

But she doesn't hear anything, doesn't see anything, and soon enough she decides not to take any chances and just gets up (slowly and carefully) and heads back inside.

As she locks the door behind her, she thinks maybe she should start varying her schedule a little more and not going outside around the same time every night.

Just to be as safe as possible.
stbethadettes: (big belly)
It was around the two-week mark that she stopped checking the doors so religiously.

She still checked whenever the urge hit her, but realism won out over stubbornness and she kind of lost the heart to disappoint herself that often.

It is what it is.

Spike told Beth that more than once, and really, that's about all there is to it. It's just that there's too goddamn much time to think here.

One night, not wanting the hassle of having to push herself up off her mattress on the floor to turn off the overhead light when she went to sleep, she read by flashlight. It was just one of those old flight manuals she'd taken from the library not long after the crash, and after all this time, she still remembered certain parts almost word for word.

After reading a single chapter, her eyes wandered to the light from the flashlight, and she watched the particles in the air weave in and out of that beam of light, almost seeming to disappear and reappear, until they made her think of fireflies.

She wonders if Spike, whose shirt no longer smells anything like that achingly familiar smoke and soap but everything like her church, ever caught fireflies -- or the Mars equivalent -- in jars when he was little.

She wonders if her kid ever will.
stbethadettes: (pregnant and still explaining it all)
Hair partially up in a hopeless ponytail, sweats on, big shirt stretched over her belly, Beth finally sits there on the church floor, a damp rag in her hand, and lets her shoulders sag.

"This is fucking ridiculous."

And she knew that a few hours ago when she started, too, but now that she's done polishing all the pews, she can acknowledge it out loud.

On one hand, it's not like she had anything better to do.

On the other hand, she's done more cleaning in here in the past two days than she had in the whole two years of living here before she ever got to the bar.

Balling her rag up, she tosses it onto the altar in one clean shot and leans back on her hands. She figures all that movement rocked the baby to sleep in there, and she just doesn't have it in her to do any more cleaning right now.

She also doesn't have it in her to stay locked up in this church for another goddamn minute.

Carefully, she puts both hands on the pew in front of her and pulls herself up off the floor. All she's been doing for the past week is testing the doors and peeking out, daylight or not, and never leaving the doorway. Tonight that's going to change.

It's dark out. Really dark. It has to be around midnight, and it's either go out there in the fenced-in churchyard and get some much-needed fresh air or stand for being caged in the walls of the church one more night.

The back door unlocks with a heavy little click, and she can actually feel a light breeze almost as soon as she pulls open the door. It's just seconds before she's out in the churchyard between a granite angel and a cross, her arms folded over her chest, her face tilted up to the sky.

It'll rain soon.

I've had a few moments in the rain.

She can feel it in the air.

What kind of moments in the rain are we talking about?

And it feels better than anything she's felt all week.
stbethadettes: (any port in a storm)
It's mid-afternoon on the fourth day before Beth finally sits down at the desk in what passes for her bedroom and opens a drawer to pull out the pencil and paper she previously used to record the days that had passed since the plague.

Not having the patience to sit and try to estimate how many days she's missed, she just draws a quick line straight across the middle of the piece of paper and then makes four very small vertical lines underneath, one for every full day she's been here so far.

When she takes a minute to think about it, she realizes what day it'd be back at the bar.

June 26th.

That's Spike's birthday.

They could be sitting at the bar and sharing a celebratory martini and a slice of cake. Or having a lobster dinner after a swim in the lake. Or just sleeping in and holing up in his room all day except for a trip downstairs to get food and a movie.

Any of that would be heaven.

She hopes like hell he didn't try to come after her. He's not here right now, so there's really only one place he could possibly have ended up if he tried to follow her.

And that's... not something she wants to let herself think about. She would rather him stuck in the bar and miserable about her not being there than back in his time and reliving things.

No fucking question.

Folding her paper again, she places it back in the drawer and carefully pulls the Venusian Vanilla shirt that made it here with her off its perch on the back of her chair, slipping it back on over her tank top and carelessly rolling the sleeves to her elbows.

(It still kind of smells like Spike and smoke.)

Then she pulls out a blank piece of paper. Right here and now, for his birthday, she's going to make a list of things about Spike that she misses.

And if she ever sees him again, she'll even give it to him.
stbethadettes: (big belly)
"Anyway," Beth continues, "it was December and all, and it was cold as a witch's teat, especially on top of that stupid hill. I only had on my reversible and no gloves or anything. The week before that, somebody'd stolen my camel's-hair coat right out of my room, with my fur-lined gloves right in the pocket and all. Pencey was full of crooks. Quite a few guys came from these very wealthy families, but it was full of crooks anyway. The more expensive a school is, the more crooks it has—I'm not kidding. Anyway, I kept standing next to that crazy cannon, looking down at the game and freezing my ass off. Only, I wasn't watching the game too much. What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by. I mean I've left schools and places I didn't even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don't care if it's a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse."

She pauses then, left hand holding the open book and right hand resting on her belly like it's a shelf made specifically for that purpose.

There's a kick from the baby, aimed low on her right, and she moves her hand enough to gently rub, to restlessly circle that area of her middle.

"Yeah, I'm sorry, sweetheart." It's been three days. "But maybe we should read something else."

She doesn't move, though. She just sits there on her pew, the hand holding the book lowering until the book tents against her stomach. He's active now, her little guy.

"Feeling kind of stir-crazy, huh? You and me both." She almost smiles. "And I'd pretty much kill for those fucking corn flakes right about now."

She moves the book, still tented, to the pew beside her and starts to stand.

"Come on, kiddo. Let's go check those doors again now that it's dark."
stbethadettes: (face in hand)
Beth's eye opens just a crack against the offending ray of sunlight filtering in through the stained glass window above her mattress and onto her face.

She didn't sleep well.

There's no big bed.

No big body pillow.

No Spike.

Fuck you.

Almost feeling too tired to move, she manages to flop over onto her other side and then lets that eye close again once her face is turned away from the sunlight.

But it's too late, and try as she might, sleep's not coming back to her.

The need to pee is, though, so she sits up and turns as if to stand and then realizes with a slump of her shoulders just how fucking hard it's going to be to get up from this mattress on the floor now.

Stretching her legs, she hooks the nearby stool with her foot and pulls it a little closer, then carefully uses it and the wall to help herself up.

As she shuffles through the church to the bathroom, she doesn't let herself think that maybe today the bathroom door will take her right back to the bar.

She doesn't let herself think that maybe today any of the doors will take her back to the bar.

She'll still try them all anyway.
stbethadettes: (front of St. Bernadette's)
Beth freezes in place one step inside the door.

Oh, fuck.

She knows this restroom. It was hers for two years, and spending almost as long at the bar hasn't made her forget it.

Not even close.

And suddenly it's just like when she was on the plane and men started dying, just like when she first showed up at the bar, just like when she and Spike walked through a door on Outpost 12 and ended up here at the church: her brain can hardly acknowledge what her eyes are seeing.

This low panicked mantra of no no no no no starts in the back of her mind, and the first thing she does is whip right back around and open the door.

But fuck, it's still the church in all its earthy colors and dim lighting and crucifixes and stained glass, and her reason for going to the goddamn bathroom in the first place is pushed desperately aside while she hurries from door to door to door, unlocking and opening and poking just enough of herself out to be sure the bar's not waiting for her on the other side.

It's not.

It's not there at all, and she locks each door against the still night air each time.

(She can't be seen like this.)

Resting her head against one of those thick front doors, the last one she'd checked, she tries to will it to open to the bar. She just asks silently and then cajoles and even threatens, but it's not like she expects any of it to work.

(She checks to be sure anyway.)

The church is too hushed, and there's no Spike to whisper something irreverent in her ear or pull out a much-needed cigarette or wrap his long arms around her in defiance of everything.

(She has nothing with her.)

Almost dazed, her chest feeling uncomfortably tight, she stands there at the front of the church and looks down the aisle between pews to the altar, both of her hands moving to rest on the rise of her belly.

"Well." She wets her lips, her mouth too dry. "It looks like it's just you and me, kid."
stbethadettes: (at rest)
She'd been dreaming.

Dreaming about the baby and walking around the Georgetown campus in only one of those Venusian Vanilla shirts of Spike's.

It wasn't a bad dream, really, but she woke suddenly and pointed her toes, stretched her legs.

And promptly got a fucking cramp in her calf.

Fuck!

Being this pregnant is not conducive to bolting into an upright position and immediately clutching at her leg. It takes her a little time, but she gets there: propped up on one hand, the other kneading that cramping muscle, and her eyes squinting so much they're all but shut in that kind of pain that's so damn bad you can't quite stay still.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

Waking Spike in the middle of the night, purposefully or accidentally, is something she tries not to do these days.

Of course, it used to be that she'd only wake up and want to wrap herself around him or have sex or just feel that he was there. Waking before morning these days often means having to run to the bathroom or needing to shift and get more comfortable.

Fuck.

Besides, if this ever happened back at St. Bernadette's, she'd have had to take care of herself.

Quietly, she rubs and rubs and rubs until it doesn't hurt so goddamn much, even if it does still feel stiff. Then she lets her arm slowly slide out from under her and turns to sleep on her other side, having to wrap her arms around herself now rather than around Spike.

The baby kicks as if it's unhappy with the whole turn of events, and yeah, she kind of thinks it's worth a kick or two.

Moving back until her back touches Spike, she lets her cheek hit the pillow and her eyes close again.

Sleep'll come. It always does eventually.
stbethadettes: (nightmare)
It's Spike who opens the door for her, Spike with his dark green hair and mismatched eyes and ghost of a smile, but he changes at some point within those two steps it takes her to reach the door.

Grows shorter, thicker in the torso, his hair lighter and tamer, his eyes melting into a chocolate-brown.

His grin is wider.

But the voice, that low voice she almost thinks could get her through a whole reading of the dictionary, stays the same.

"Would you do things differently?"

And then they're both through the door, standing in the churchyard with stars twinkling above them in the clear night sky.

"What about Kermit the Frog?"

He just looks at her, puzzled.

"He's not Kermit Frog, right? The the makes sense," she explains. "Smokey Bear sounds all wrong. It's not--"

She could've suffocated in all that goddamn sexual tension. And even so, she's surprised when he puts his hands on the sides of her face and stops her train of thought with a kiss.

And it's everything.

It's sex and need and bristly facial hair and broad shoulders and appreciation and loneliness and understanding and the tiniest sliver of hope.

It's not until later, when she's mostly rolled off of him and they're breathing more regularly and her eyes are closed in the best and most contented tiredness she's known in two years, that things are different. Yorick had asked what he'd done.

But now, with Spike's voice, he asks again, "Would you do things differently?"

She lifts her head up to look him in the face. That's when it starts: blood seeping from his eyes, nose, mouth.

She doesn't wake quietly.
stbethadettes: (Default)
It was a nice, slow morning.

So slow, in fact, that Spike never really made it out for his regular workout. But they kept trying to get dressed and eventually the clothes stuck.

And now, near sunset, after an easy jog around the lake, Spike finally gets to do his thing.

The sky's changing color as the sun sinks and dark clouds are slowly rolling in. Beth's just sprawled out on the grass with her head pillowed on her arms, watching.

"Looks like rain," she comments idly, despite the fact that her eyes haven't left Spike for the last five minutes.
stbethadettes: (back of head)
Beth is slim. She's always been slender and got even leaner in the two years after the plague. Despite maybe gaining a couple of pounds within the past month or so, it's not obvious she's carrying a baby.

A doctor would probably tell her that the ideal amount of weight for her to gain with this pregnancy is a little more than the average.

But she doesn't have a regular doctor. And for this entire first trimester, she hasn't had very much interest in reading any pregnancy books. At St. Bernadette's she'd flip through one or two, if only because taking books from the library and reading them once or twice was one of the best ways she has to pass time there.

She knows she will eventually, though. Either she'll ask the bar for something ideal to read or find Snow and ask some questions or talk to Tonks next time she sees her. Or hell, maybe all of the above at some point.

About eight years ago (or closer to ten, bar time), she read something about pregnancy that talked about how the memory of the morning sickness and mood swings and other obnoxious symptoms would just melt right away as soon as the baby was born.

She thought that was bullshit. She still does.

Even so, she's got a new primary concern in the well-being of this baby. And multiple other concerns stem from it.

She just refuses to address those secondary concerns until she has to.

Right this minute, the only thing really concerning her is making sure Spike's back gets soaped up.

And maybe that no members of the Official Tough Guy Club burst in. Not for her sake, of course. The bubbles tend to end up strategically placed, and she'd let any intruders in her bathroom have it anyway.

But she'd never tell anyone she's managed to get Spike in a bubble bath with her twice now.
stbethadettes: (at rest)
Beth wakes three times in the night. Every time, she goes through this cycle of relief and disappointment and relief again because Spike's next to her and they're here but he's alive.

He survived last time, and those simulations on the Bebop were reassuring... but fuck if she knows how the plague really worked.

His life isn't something to take for granted.

When she opens her eyes and there's finally light in the room and birds chirping outside, she stretches and turns and gently rests her arm across Spike's middle.

"Hey. How's the handsomest guy on the planet doing?"
stbethadettes: (front of St. Bernadette's)
It's the way it feels out here once they step through the doorway that alerts her that something's different before her brain can even recognize what her eyes are seeing. The door heavily swings shut behind them, and at first she's just surprised because they're having to go back to the bar already.

But then her mouth kind of falls open, and she stares at the overgrown lot directly across the road.

No fucking way.

Hurriedly, she glances up and down the road, but it's deserted right now.

She can barely even feel relief.

She finally turns to Spike. "I think you better try opening the door."
stbethadettes: (at rest)
It's a good thing Spike never looks under her bed.

Or at least Beth can't recall him ever getting down on his hands and knees to see what's down there. He's usually too busy topside when he's in here, and she sure doesn't mind keeping him that way.

She's got part of his Christmas gift hidden down there now, though. And while she wouldn't be all broken up about it if he did discover it, she'd like to give it all at once. For the effect.

And she can't get the rest of it before Monday.

(Or until whenever they get back out again.)

She kind of can't believe Spike's not awake yet, but that's not going to be the case for long. She tugs the sheet so it's not so tightly wrapped around their bodies and raises up, crawling onto him and dropping a feather-light kiss on his nose.

He blinks, and she's encouraged.

It calls for a few more kisses.
stbethadettes: (Default)
He left his cigarettes in the pocket of the jacket draped over the back of the chair.

She knew they'd be there, though, so she helped herself to one and grabbed the notebook he gave her on her birthday and sat there on the bed, right on top of the pillow on Spike's side of the bed with the ashtray in easy reach, her legs bent in front of her to support the notebook in front of her.

She flips to what he wrote about Mars with every intention of rereading what he wrote.

But she doesn't do a very good job of it.

Her eyes wander, her gaze drifting up and just over the notebook, looking over at the wall. And she sure as fuck still can't stop thinking about him and about how he stayed with her, how he didn't want to try to change his past.

And how he kissed her. That was good, too.

Having Julia around, dead, wasn't enough to make him want to change things. He'd said Julia told him she used to love him, though, and that he'd basically told her to fuck off.

She still doesn't know if he's been seeing Julia around and just not telling her about it, so maybe his decision was influenced by how Julia's acting now.

Beth doesn't know.

But what she does know is that this is something she should avoid overanalyzing and just appreciate.

Damn, does she appreciate it.
stbethadettes: (back of head)
It's sort of a romantic idea, but she likes the way they fit together.

She likes his fingers toying with her hair, his arms curving around her, hands molding over her. The way their lips feel pressed together, his teeth, his tongue. The five scars on his chest that she has to stretch to fit her fingertips over. The feel of him in her arms, against her thighs, and how his hands on her hips feel like fire, like some kind of scorching urge to action.

Either of them, Beth knows, could probably have easily found themselves fitting as well (or almost as well) with other people by this point. It was just a happy chance that they'd hit it off so fucking well with each other when they did.

But she doesn't care about other people. She cares about him.

She thinks about semantics and how she's never, never, used the phrase making love before.

Chris used to say it. Not in front of his friends or anything, but he'd say it. It always made her smirk or laugh or tease him; she'd just hated it.

Make love just seems all wrong.

You're not making love. It's not something that can be made, not like that. It's there or it's not. It happens or it doesn't.

She's always kind of liked the word fuck. It's a rough word, a hard sound at the beginning and another at the end, and it was one of those words to think defiantly in church or try not to let slip too often in front of the sisters at school.

She likes the word lover and she enjoys innuendo, but really, most of the time having sex is what she considers the best way to put it.

Spike told her he'd never made love with anyone in a lake before.

And it didn't make her laugh. Didn't make her roll her eyes.

She kind of liked it when he said it. Maybe two years alone at St. Bernadette's increased her tolerance. Maybe it was his voice as he said it, the way he makes certain words sound.

Maybe it was just the idea of the tough guy bounty hunter, the former hit man, saying something like that.

Maybe.

She'll never use the phrase herself, but she won't find herself minding it much if he does.
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