stbethadettes: (knowing smile)
This shirt is a good one; she likes it a lot. It's not Venusian Vanilla -- it's even paler than that, almost off-white -- but she likes the way it fits. She likes the way it looks.

She likes the way it smells.

Yeah, this shirt is definitely hers. It's important that it stays with the rest of Spike's clothes and gets worn by him from time to time, but she's staking her unofficial claim on this one tonight.

It's something she hasn't been able to do since she lost that button-down of his when she left St. Bernadette's with Hero, and doing it now gives her this smug feeling of triumph.

From the bathroom, her teeth newly brushed and breath minty fresh, she quietly pads down the hallway -- not a peep from Junior's room -- and to the bedroom.
stbethadettes: (any port in a storm)
The sky is dark. A rumbling storm looms over the city.

After a sleepless night spent tracking down Beth Deville, an encounter with Alter, Beth Junior almost getting kidnapped, and Spike needing two sets of stitches, she half expected to fall asleep as soon as she had a chance to lie down.

No such luck.

Not knowing Alter's goddamn army is out there in this very city, chasing after Yorick. Not knowing Hero and Nat and the other Beth are out there hoping to find Yorick without running into Alter.

Hero doesn't even have her gun now. Nat's rifle is the only real weapon they have. Maybe Beth Deville could sic Ampersand on anyone who gives them trouble, but she kind of doubts that'll happen.

Junior's young and resilient and tired enough to sleep right through the distant thunder, even with the window open. She only makes an occasional half-murmur as she shifts in her sleep, and that's a little bit of a comfort. Spike, on the other hand, seems to only be resting a little better than she is.

Eventually she'll put her head on the pillow again and sleep will actually overtake her. Probably a deep exhausted sleep, and she won't wake up until either Junior cries or someone -- Hero, just returned, or possibly Ciba or, if worse comes to worst, one of Alter's crew -- opens the bedroom door.

When she hears Spike rising from the bed, she doesn't chide him, and when he comes up behind her and wraps an arm around her, she doesn't complain.

He's here, and little Beth's here. Ciba and Vlad are asleep -- or making the effort to be -- down the hallway. The Barak Spike gave her so long ago is sitting on her bedside table, thanks to the women of Paris for not stealing her diaper bag or the baby carriage from the alley while she was literally tied up.

If the others don't... make it back for some reason, she remembers the way back to the church that once took them to the bar.

Her hand covers Spike's. It'll be a while before she tries to sleep again.
stbethadettes: (picking up Junior)
There's a storm over Paris.

Lightning streaks the night sky with a jagged glow, and thunder rattles their apartment windows.

Though her occasional unhappy whimpers never quite evolve into a heartwrenching cry, it's been one of those nights when nobody but her mommy has been able to make Junior happy.

They're all restless. Today's searching was cut short because of the relentlessness of the rain, and even with a fire crackling in the fireplace and a game of cards that temporarily distracted all of them, Beth thinks Hero's antsiness shows through better than anyone else's.

Later, after Ciba and Vlad have both gone to bed and Natalya's reading by lamplight on the couch, her gun by her side, Beth takes her sleeping daughter in her arms and knocks on Hero's door. Spike's cloaked hand rests on the shoulder opposite Junior, and Beth covers it with her own and squeezes even though she can't see it.

He knows what she thinks it's time for.

When Hero's voice prompts her to come in, Beth opens the door and goes in with only Junior for company, then closes the door behind her.

It's time for a little good old-fashioned no-holds-barred girl talk. Nothing's off limits for the next few hours: not Spike, not Yorick, not forgiveness, not the amazons, not Beth singular, not the goddamn rain or Catholic boarding schools or botched engagements or queens named Victoria or the appeal of men with scruffy facial hair or even the bar that after about three years Beth had almost been able to start thinking of as home. Tonight's for talking without crying but not without feeling about the men they knew and loved, as well as the ones they've been lucky enough to meet at the bar. It's for laughing quietly so Junior doesn't wake up while they compare sex in the back of ambulances with sex in churchyards. It's for seeing -- with no ill intent -- who can come up with a phrase that sounds the most like something Natalya would say and making up characters for the novel Hero wanted to write years ago.

To Beth, Hero's importance doesn't rely on the fact that she's the sister of the only man to survive the plague or even on the fact that she's a smart ex-EMT.

Sometimes a woman just needs a best friend. Hero is hers.
stbethadettes: (picking up Junior)
"Hello, beautiful."

Taking Junior into her arms, Beth presses a kiss to the top of her head. It always kind of makes her feel good to have Junior grin like that in happy recognition and talk to her and hold out her arms, wanting to be picked up, and she doesn't think there's anything silly about that unbidden surge of loving pride it inspires in her.

Beth Junior is just about everything to her.

It's nearly time to go. It was nice -- no, it was fucking great -- to discover that Paris was standing still for them when they opened the door to check, but it's almost a case of too little too late. They're too close to turn back now and too involved to choose to suddenly pull out without a word.

A few much-needed days here had to be enough, and they've tried to make the most of the opportunity.

She's emptied out the pantry and refrigerator, throwing out everything that had gone bad. Spike had helped at first, but toward the end he'd gone to hunt down some paper and write a few quick notes for them to send by owl or give to the bar before they leave. There was obviously no point in restocking the kitchen since she can predict when they'll get to come back about as accurately as she can predict where the hell she'll be in five years, but she's certainly spent enough time here in their little House of Arch apartment to know she's going to miss it even more than she did before once they've left.

Passing through the archway and into their bedroom, she stops close enough behind Spike as he writes that Junior can hold out her hand and touch him.
stbethadettes: (Beth Plural lounging)
It's always struck Beth as funny that when so many little girls are about at that stage where they think boys are gross and have cooties they also seem to have this strong belief in or desire for one day getting married.

Yeah, sure, a lot of that excitement's about the big fancy dress and the flowers and the extravagant cake and the posse of bridesmaids and feeling so intensely special and beautiful and all that. But it takes a willing couple to get married, and while she's known females who get their kicks solely with other women, pretty much every little girl she knew growing up had a groom in her dream wedding.

She doesn't really care who Junior ends up loving one day, so long as they're good to her, but she's sure her daughter won't grow up thinking of boys quite the same way she did.

She'll be lucky to know any.

On Venus, her head spinning with the discovery that she was really pregnant, Beth had sat on the bed and helped herself to some bacon for breakfast and decided to let Spike know right then and there.

He deserved to know, despite how secretive she'd been for the trip to the store for a test and in the bathroom once she got the result.

She didn't expect the conversation to lead to him telling her they could go to a justice of the peace and get married. He's a romantic and he's stubborn and he's crazy about her. She knows all that. But she never expected him to make that suggestion.

She knows just how differently things would've gone between them had she shown up in the bar for the first time with a visible belly. But he loves her, and he loves Junior more than she could possibly have asked him to.

Even now, she wouldn't marry him, though. It's a line she can't bring herself to cross.

It's a line that says nothing about him and everything about how and where they came together and how and where they'll go if they go against their will.

She knows from experience that leaving is hard enough without any official ties, without the idea of husband and wife hanging over their heads.

Some people think it's hard just to maintain a healthy relationship. Beth thinks they should try traveling with their invisible significant other, three unwitting friends, a baby, and a two-year-old boy who's very nearly the last of his kind.

It's hard, and it's complex.

It's being so glad they didn't get separated for good and yet wishing he was somewhere safer for him. It's stealing the occasional kiss, made twice as good by all the anticipation leading up to it, but rarely getting to see the look on his face as Junior makes her best attempts at crawling. It's having him sleep between her and the wall at night because it's the safest place for him to get but never being able to sleep wrapped around him even though he's right there. It's not wanting him to venture too far off because she'll never know if something happens to him but sometimes wishing she could have a conversation with Hero that she was 100% positive was just a conversation with Hero.

There are no secrets she needs to keep from Spike. She just doesn't want him to be omniscient. It's not a comfortable feeling.

She'd like to not have to keep him a secret, but her other options are even more undesirable.

One starry night somewhere in Ohio, claiming not to feel all that great and honestly not sure that it's not the truth, she escapes out of doors to get some air, take a walk around, while Hero sweetly volunteers to keep an eye on her sleeping niece.

Spike barely opens his cloak once she's under the cover of some trees, and she watches him closely. "How much room do you have in that thing?"


She smiles slightly.

"Try me."

She's better with secrets than she is with temptation.
stbethadettes: (front of St. Bernadette's)
When I was about fifteen or sixteen, a colleague of my dad's died. I remember sitting behind this man's family with my mom and dad to my left, her hand resting on his knee in affection or comfort or both.

The priest's voice was low and monotonous and broken occasionally by a sniffle from one of the rows in front of us, and my eyes wandered over the marbled floor and polished pews and glittering candelabra. The stained glass windows were deep greens and jewel-like blues and scandalizing scarlets; the dark wood of the archways and door frames was carved with intricate curlicues. Every cross gleamed. Rows of candles flickered.

When the smell of incense wafted over me, I thought about what a decadent way to mourn it all was.

It was ritual and routine and nothing out of the ordinary, but something about it didn't sit right with me.

I never thought I'd mourn every guy I'd ever known -- and plenty I hadn't -- in a church across the country about ten years later. It wasn't many of those guys who got so elaborate a burial, much less an actual funeral. When I buried remains from the crash site in that churchyard, I didn't wear ceremonial robes and read from the Bible. There wouldn't have been any point in incense or reading from Scripture. The men who died and the women I didn't save deserved more than what they got, and I can't say I paused over each grave for a moment of prayerful silence (ashes to ashes, dust to dust) as much as to rest on my shovel for a minute, tired and dirty and pink from spending hours upon hours out there in the sun.

(I had dirt under my fingernails for weeks, but I never once resented it.)

I tended those graves. It was just... what I could do.

I stayed positive whenever I talked to anyone about the vaccine, about Vlad. Especially around Ciba. But that didn't mean I wasn't invaded by a healthy amount of anxious dread the afternoon Heidi told us they'd finished their work on the vaccine. They expected it to work; they were optimistic. They made sure Ciba knew it, and she talked positive, too, but she was scared. I could see it in her eyes. And I couldn't blame her.

One of the last things I wanted to even imagine doing was digging a goddamn grave for little Vlad.

Fortunately, Yorick's doctor friend and the Hartles do good work.
stbethadettes: (here we go again)
Once the door is closed behind them, Beth can't help looking back for a moment.

It just looks like an old rickety wooden shed, and out here, in the bright light of day, she remembers exactly how odd it was to step into the bar for the very first time when she'd been going through the back door of St. Bernadette's.

She wonders if Hero thought she'd lost her mind when she found the bar in there.

Surrounding them on all sides are rows and rows of corn, all the stalks taller than the two of them, and the sky is a pure cloudless blue.

Half-smiling at Hero, she nods. "Just us girls now, fearless leader."
stbethadettes: (long-necked)
It's a quick trip through the portrait, and once in the House of Arch's main gallery, she points a finger to the smaller portrait that leads to the rooms she and Spike live in, barely stifling a laugh at Hero's mutter of surprise over the whole sucked-through-portrait manner of travel.

"Another church. How do you like that? I keep falling away from them, and they keep taking me back."

She gives Hero's hand a light squeeze. As far as she knows, they've got to be connected for her to escort her through.

"This one'll take us to our rooms. Ready?"

At Hero's nod, she touches the portrait and leads her through again. And again, there's that second-long sensation of having your body turned inside out before they find themselves in the family room, insides exactly where they should be and outsides barely ruffled.

"You mind staying in here just a minute, Hero? They're probably in the nursery, and I'll bring them to see you."

Actually, Junior's probably still sleeping in her crib while Spike's stretched out on their bed and reading, but she'll find out. Somehow she suspects Spike will probably appreciate it more this once if she tells him Hero's here rather than abruptly shows him.
stbethadettes: (Beth Plural)
When Beth Junior started crying about ten minutes after they put her down for the night, Beth had been a little startled. Junior's a tricky kid, though, which might be Spike's fault (and could even have something to do with Yorick), and she'd brightened as soon as they'd gotten into her view.

"You know, sweetheart," Beth tells her confidentially, lifting her from the crib, "I appreciate the six or so hours you've been sleeping lately, but how about you keep going to sleep easily?"

Junior gurgles noncommittally, but she's still pretty sweet.

Cupping the baby's head with her hand and holding her close, Beth rocks gently from side to side. Over her shoulder, Junior sticks her hand in her mouth and eyes Spike.
stbethadettes: (Beth Plural)
Just a glass of wine, she'd said, and he made sure she had a good one. It was something Martian and pricey and vaguely fruity that looked like liquid garnets in a glass, and it tasted every damn bit as nice as it looked.

Junior didn't take at all easily to the idea of sleep, not even after Beth's story about Agnes Snoth, but they had the wine and that book of fairy tales with commentary that Snow had given them. The wine wasn't for the baby, but the lull of words accompanied by the rock of the chair in the nursery eventually persuaded her that sleep was the way to go.

By that time, their first kiss of the new year was half an hour after the traditional time. At that point, sleep wasn't for them.

Beth didn't mind.
stbethadettes: (at rest)
"Beth Durand. Long time no see."

Patting her hair, which is pulled back loosely on top of head and actually long enough to stay put there, she looks over at the man in the uniform that's so similar to her own.

"Well, if it isn't my favorite purser." She grins at him.

"Your favorite?" He practically preens, one hand running over his short black hair. "I had no idea you cared."

"I had no idea I did, either." It kind of slips out in spite of herself, but she laughs.

Wayne is -- was -- good guy, if a joker at times, and though they were never especially close, she'll never ever forget what happened to him that day on that flight to Los Angeles.

There's a momentary flash in her mind of how he looked crumpled on the plane floor, blood running from his eyes and nose and mouth. He didn't deserve it. None of them did.

"Thanks," he tells her dryly. He passes a hand over his face, and it suddenly changes, cheekbones becoming more noticeable, chin lengthening a little, hair fading to a dirty blonde color, eyes lightening to hazel. There's even a dimple in his right cheek. "You probably would've liked seeing this guy more."

It's Chris. Her stubborn, Catholic, just so Chris, but only in a manner of speaking. He still sounds like Wayne, and besides, he stopped being her Chris when she decided not to marry him.

Part of her is completely unfazed -- it's a dream and she knows it -- and part of her is a little horrified. Wayne never knew anything about Chris, for one thing. And for another, that's just goddamn unnerving. "I don't know about that, Wayne."

Running the same hand over his face a second time, the features too-easily change back to what they were originally. "Yeah, I hear you go for green hair these days."

That brings back a hint of her smile. "Nowadays my type's primarily the living breathing type, but yeah, you could say I have an interest in green hair."

"Oh, the living breathing type." He nods knowingly. "You always did strike me as tough to get." Sobering fractionally, he adds, "He treats you well?"

"What the hell is it with people asking me if he treats me well?"

He instinctively raises both hands in front of him as if she shouldn't take it out on him.

"Really. I might be just a washed-up Theology major, but I know enough to let go when I'm treated like crap and not to stay where I'm not wanted and when to take care of myself and my own." She pauses. "And I don't think he could treat me badly if he wanted to."

"Hey, that's all I was asking."

She lets herself drop into the seat behind her, tugging the handle of her bag so it sits in front of the empty seat beside her, and it's then that she really looks around the seats at this gate and realizes she recognizes faces.

"Wayne. These are the people from the flight." She doesn't even specify which flight, and she suspects he'll know exactly what she means.

He glances around, the nods. "Yeah."

Tired even in the dream, she shakes her head firmly. "I'm not reliving that tonight, Wayne. I'm not getting a lot of sleep as it is, and I'm going to be pretty fucking mad if I have to spend the little dream time I have on that flight."

"You ever dream about really landing the plane and saving all the women?"

She almost has to think about it. "No," she shakes her head, looking him straight in the eye, "I don't think I've ever managed to."

He doesn't answer for a minute. "It was a raw deal, Beth."

"Yeah." But she shrugs, reaching for the leather-enclosed name tag on her bag and playing with it idly. "It was for everybody. It's just what happened."

"Hey. You hear that?"

Looking up at him in confusion, she listens. "Hear what?"


Suddenly things feel a lot more surreal, and in the moment she realizes it's a baby's cry, Wayne gives her a smile and a dismissive wave.

By the time her eyes are open and she's extracting herself from the bedsheets, little Beth's cry has picked up some volume.

"Hey, little girl," she whispers, taking her out of the basket. "You've got some great timing, you know that?"
stbethadettes: (at rest)
As soon as Beth opens the door, she can hear the clink of glasses and the rattle of dishes and the susurrus of a building full of conversation.

Smoothing her green dress a little, she walks up to the maitre d', but before she can say a word, she notices a silver-haired man in a simple white button-down shirt and black slacks sitting at a table just feet away. He raises one hand in greeting.

Her voice gets caught in her throat, and she's a hell of a lot more grateful than she lets on when the maitre d' puts two and two together easily enough and leads her over to the man's table, lingering long enough to hold her seat out for her and tell them their waiter will be with them shortly.

Once in her seat, her forehead wrinkles so intensely it almost hurts and she has to study his face, every inch of it, and she hears herself use a word she hasn't in over fifteen years.

"Hi, daddy."

She might be imagining that he looks paler than she remembers and even a little hazy around the edges, but she knows she's not imagining the small smile on his face. "Beth."

"Where's mom?"

"She... couldn't be here tonight."

"Oh." Her eyes lower for a moment.

"Sorry to disappoint."

Looking up again, she can see that almost unnoticeable gleam of humor in his eyes. "It's okay, dad. I think I can make do."

"You're smoking again."

"Fuck, dad, what are you, some kind of goddamn bloodhound? I've smoked twice in the past two months."

Her mom, ten years her dad's junior and always the parent she was closest to, often said that the silver hair -- which he's had almost as long as Beth can remember -- made him look distinguished, even if she teased him about it sometimes. Looking at him now, she thinks she has to agree.

"It's not good for you." It's what he always said. "Or anybody else."

"Dad, I think that if I'm entitled to one thing these days," she leans forward, arms crossed on the table in front of her, and continues to ignore her menu, "it's smoking whenever I can and want to."

He's quiet for a moment, almost as if he doesn't have it in him to argue with her on that one, and takes a drink of the deep red wine in his glass, which seems almost as hazy around the edges as he does. "It's not your fault things happened the way they did, Elizabeth."

It nearly seems unrelated, but... it's not. Not really, and suddenly she can't quite make herself look at him. "I know."

"Do you?"

She still doesn't look up. "Did mom have to watch you die?"

It's his turn to pause a moment. "We'd met for lunch, but I was on my way back to work when it happened."

It was a Wednesday, she remembers that well, and as glad as she is to know her mom didn't have to watch him start bleeding all over the place and die in front of her, it's still difficult to accept how it must've happened, that he was one of the hundreds of thousands who started dying while they were in vehicles and ended up in pile-ups of cars on the roads because even if they somehow managed to keep control of the vehicle once they started hemorrhaging, it didn't last long.

It takes a blink or two before she can finally make herself meet his eyes again, and she moves on as if he hadn't answered her question at all. She doesn't think very many women out there who are aware of exactly how their fathers died when the plague hit wouldn't have some kind of goddamn daddy issue, no matter how mild.

"You're a grandfather." And before he can say a word, she goes on in a rush. "Her name's Beth. Elizabeth Marie, but a lot of the time we just call her Beth Junior. She's about to be six weeks old and she's absolutely beautiful, even though she looks a lot like her father and I don't think I'll ever see him again." She pauses for a breath. "It's... all kind of a complicated story."

"You remind me a little of your mother."

It surprises her to hear that. She and Charlotte, her mom, both had blonde hair and the same kind of build, but Jack and Charlotte are her adoptive parents. She's never really looked a whole lot like either of them.

"From the moment we first met you at the hospital, you were all hers," he goes on. "She'd been wanting you for so long, and the minute she first got to hold you, she looked at me like I'd managed to gift-wrap the moon and hand it to her. You were hers, adopted or not, and she was determined for you to know that."

That makes her smile slightly. "What about you, dad?"

"Me?" He doesn't seem to have expected that at all. "I loved you when you were a tiny golden-haired infant, and I loved you when you were a willful teenager who kept trying to smoke behind our backs, and I loved you when I died."

She's not sure he ever would've said any of that in life, or at least not specifically to her.

"I'm proudest of you now," he adds in a tone that's a bit confidential, and she's so tempted to reach out and touch his hand or his arm or his shoulder but something about his outline seems so tenuous that she's afraid to lay a finger on him.

"Damn, Jack. Death certainly has mellowed you into a hell of a softie."

He gives her one of his sternest looks at first -- one that rivals any he ever gave her -- but then he laughs. Long and loud and clear, and it's one of the best things she's ever heard.
stbethadettes: (not so happy)
Jesus fucking Christ.

Beth's grip on Spike's hand is viselike, and she shakily presses her other hand to her face.

For the first time since the contractions began, she's actually starting to think she might not be able to do this. She survived a goddamn plane crash, trekked back and forth in the hot sun from the crash site to St. Bernadette's with remains she felt she had to bury, lived two years alone in a church, defended her home and even the last man alive, and then left that home and only known link to the bar to go with a former amazon on a trip to Kansas. Until now, she's been meeting this head-on, determined.

But she's pushing, for fuck's sake. She's been pushing. She almost can't remember what it's like not to be pushing so much and so often.


Hero calls her mamacita and tells her this is it and tries to coax her for one more push, just one more, and for a moment her mind can't even comprehend one more push and her body rebels. She's been fairly well-behaved most of the time, except for when she threatened the next person to tell her to breathe, but it feels like she's about half an inch from the end of her rope.

One more push.

It better be a promise.

Steeling herself, she lets her fingers bite into Spike's hand and gives that one last push, and just as she's delving into doubt, just as she's on the verge of telling Hero to screw herself, there's this pressure gone, this weight lifted, this sense of some type of release. And she opens her eyes, lets them focus, and she can see Hero's hands are full and hear Elaine cooing as she steps forward with a fresh towel and notice that Spike's grasp is as tight as hers must've been.

She's panting, her mouth kind of falling open, and it's all a little hazy, a little dreamlike.

"Is... she okay?"

She hardly hears the reassuring answers she's given.

It's a baby. Her baby. This tiny little thing is responsible for making her feel so goddamn huge these past few months. There's this quiet sort of whimper that turns into an actual cry after the baby's face is wiped at with a washcloth, and Beth can't take her eyes off her.

The baby's messy, covered in gunk, and crying and looks a little wrinkly and... well, it kind of looks like her head's shaped sort of funny. She's anything but beautiful and somehow completely breath-taking at the exact same time. But once the cord's cut and the little girl's wrapped in a towel, Hero gives Beth a wide grin and asks if the santa madre would like to hold her daughter.

My daughter.

Now that simple two-word phrase -- until this point not even in the running -- has even I'm pregnant and I'm having contractions beat when it comes to surprise and amazement and pure awe. At least in her opinion.

She lets out very short, very tired -- too tired -- laugh. And then she half-smiles, outstretching arms that feel about as solid as toothpaste, so fucking thankful for the fact that she can't possibly drop her daughter in this position.

"You bet your ass I do."
stbethadettes: (let she who has not sinned)
"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.
stbethadettes: (pregnant and still explaining it all)
It's been a while since Elaine moved into the flat, and Beth's never seen it. She's never even been in the staff wing at all, in fact, and it's time that changed.

She's got a small bundle of pure white lilies -- from the bar rather than the greenhouse -- in one hand, and she raises the other to knock on Elaine and Ryan's door. She's pretty sure it's the right place, and if it's not, she can't imagine whoever answers won't tell the huge pregnant chick how to find it.
stbethadettes: (knowing smile)
You don't leave a little I love you letter for someone just because unless you're pretty fucking smitten.

Spike, otherwise what she'd consider a tough guy, is pretty fucking smitten.

Beth can't say she minds.

And it's kind of funny. The first time he told her he thought he was falling for her, she'd though it was great to hear but probably not really true and hardly a surprising way for him to think he felt after they'd both shown up here, hit it off, and been sleeping together for about a month or so.

After a while she couldn't keep doubting he actually felt that way, and no, she's never minded at all.

When she wakes up, yawning, and gets up to find the note he left tented on the table, she moves to one of her drawers and opens it to fish out a folded piece of paper.

It's her list, the one she originally started on his birthday. And this is a good opportunity to finish it.

About twenty minutes later, the shower's running and a new note is tented on the table so Spike can see it when he gets in. It's an invitation to join his favorite pregnant chick in the shower if he gets back in time, but lying flat on the table beneath it is a neatly written list of things she missed about him while she was in Cooksfield:

1. your hands
2. your shoulders
3. those significant little barely-there smiles
4. your scars (And if I were to cheat, I'd list the one Vincent left on you separately)
5. the goddamn skinny tie
6. your voice
7. your magic tricks
8. the way you smell
9. those three-word phrases you're so fucking good at
10. the way your eyes don't quite match
11. your jawline
12. you kissing me awake
13. sharing cigarettes
14. that way you grab my hips like I'm the only vital thing you can get your hands on
15. your shirtless workouts
16. "Slim"
17. showers together
18. mornings when we can't seem to make ourselves get out of bed
19. the way you look at me
20. just walking upstairs with you after spending part of the night in the bar
21. reading to each other
22. target practice together
23. how your hair feels between my fingers
24. how cool and calm you often are
25. all those "Zen things"
26. Telesto Pops
27. waking up in the middle of the night and having your arms around me
28. your stories
29. back rubs
30. your tendency to understate
31. your stubbornness
32. how fucking sharp you are
33. your habit of being surprisingly noble when the situation calls for it
34. that all-action, almost businesslike way you get when you're after a bounty
35. you're just about fearless
36. your sense of humor
37. swimming in the lake together
38. the way you seem to get so focused when you clean your gun
39. you always eat with chopsticks
40. the way you trace the scar across my face
41. unbuttoning the buttons on your Venusian vanilla shirts
42. and borrowing those same shirts
43. your habit of not being able to turn down a good challenge
44. the knack you have for being able to keep promises I know you'd try your hardest to follow through on but probably shouldn't be able to
45. trips to other planets
46. martinis for two
47. potechi (and never making it through a plate)
48. sex (please keep in mind these are in no particular order)
49. you got a nanobot shot so you wouldn't have to worry about having kids
50. you already love the baby I'm going to have
51. getting joyrides in the Swordfish
52. your impossibly tough-guy moments
53. the way you sometimes end up stretched out with a book over your face
54. you're such a fucking survivor
55. (last but certainly not least) your Y chromosome

She had no intention of duplicating his original 100 or making this into some kind of competition, but there is a note at the end that 54 is two times (while two is roughly the number of years he's been here) the age he was when he arrived at bar. She thought 54 kind of sucked as a number to end things on, and it wasn't hard at all to come up with a 55th thing she missed about him.

There's nothing about how she first started a list on his birthday while she was in Cooksfield, though she'll tell him if he asks about it. There's another thing that goes unsaid, too, and it's that writing out a list like this and giving it to him isn't really her style. She's got her moments, but she's not an incurable romantic by any means. It's true that she probably wouldn't have thought to do this if things hadn't happened like they did. But she promised herself that she'd give Spike the list if she ever saw him again.

And she can keep her promises as well as he can.
stbethadettes: (big belly)
The sidecar was uncomfortable at times, especially for long stretches, but now Beth thinks she'd kill to still have the luxury of it.

Now the travel's all on foot.

Hero could be making much better time on this trip without Beth; there's nothing like being enormously pregnant to slow a woman down. But they're stuck together, the two of them, and it's not so bad if you look past the slow pace and aching back and sore feet and tiring so damn easily.

Okay, those all make it hell of a pain sometimes.

But Hero... well, she's really not bad, and Beth can't stop herself from thinking sometimes that she was too smart to have ever become an amazon.

"Hey, do you smoke?"
stbethadettes: (any port in a storm)
Hero does nearly all the bargaining and bartering and buying and looting. For now, at least.

It's just easier and safer to keep the pregnant woman out of sight as much as possible, and Beth knows it. But they've only been on the road a couple of days and she's had to go from completely (and maybe too) independent to being a hell of a lot more reliant. It's not easy to adjust to a big change like that, and sometimes it really fucking irritates her. She just tries not to let on.

Hero'd gotten her a sleeping bag, though, and just about all the necessities she's needed on the road so far. What Hero can't possibly get for her is another Venusian vanilla shirt to replace the one that got left at the church, and it had been so goddamn unsettling when she'd realized she'd left it behind.

The sky tonight is clear and the stars are bright pinpoints up there, but Beth, curled up on her side in her sleeping bag, just stares into the gently flickering remains of their fire and can't even get her eyes to stay closed long enough to try to sleep. It's not like she doesn't still have plenty of time to think; there's lots of time on the road with the motorcycle's engine droning too loudly in their ears to be conducive to real conversation, and all that time is great for thinking too much.

It's hard to stop.
stbethadettes: (glaring)
Medieval Castle, the outside of the building says above the main doors.

Some place for a center of operations for Sister Ober and her Swiss Guard stooges.

At least they gave Beth a black maternity dress, something she can actually fit in, and had a bag with her other clothes (and Yorick's letter) in it for her to take back.

Maybe they're not monsters, like Sister Ober said, but Beth can't make herself feel all that thankful.

It looks like morning's coming, and she's finally getting a chance to feel that lack of easy, undisturbed sleep.
stbethadettes: (...what?)
"What's happening?"

Nobody's answering her goddamn questions. Fucking Sister Ober and the woman with the bun and glasses are just staring at the screen.

"Is... is something wrong with my boy?"

Sister Ober -- even more stoic and stony-faced that before, if that's possible -- turns to her again. "I'm afraid so. Your boy is a girl."

It's like she's not even speaking English; her words make about as much sense to Beth as the German the other woman was speaking.

Her mouth opens in surprise, and as she stares down at her belly, it seems like a whole lot longer than it must actually be before the meaning of the words sinks in. "...What?"

But it's the Sister's turn to make demands. "Where did this child come from?"

Beth unconsciously shrinks into herself a little.

She wants to cry. For the first time in years, she wants to cry. It's not a boy, and she'd been so sure. But she doesn't know any doctors or scientists to make up something believable about. She also knows what happened to most -- if not all -- of the sperm banks after the plague so there's no thinking fast there. She has no fucking clue what she could say that Sister Ober would believe.

All she knows is she can't tell the truth. "I..."
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