She groaned at the sound of someone pounding on her door, lifting herself up on her elbows and peering at her alarm clock, seeing that it read three-thirty in the morning.
“If there isn’t an impending apocalypse, I’m going to be pissed,” she muttered as she forced herself to become more fully awake, glancing at the spot beside her in bed to see her boyfriend slowly waking up as well.
“You think it’s Angel?” Gunn asked, his voice a half-groan as he lifted himself up on his hands, looking at the clock as well, then swearing as he reached out and flipped on the bedside lamp. Both occupants of the bed blinked at the sudden intrusion of light, which really wasn’t all that bright, but it was certainly brighter than the room had been only a few seconds before.
“If it is, I’m thinking maybe I’m going to have to stake him,” Willow muttered as she pushed off the covers and swung her legs over the side of the bed. “Wouldn’t he call or something first?”
“Maybe Cordelia had a vision,” Gunn suggested as he watched the redhead climb out of bed and drag out her robe, wrapping it around herself. After a moment’s hesitation, he stood up as well, grabbing for a pair of sweatpants and pulling them on.
“No way. She *always* calls me after a vision. It’s... I don’t know who this could be,” the redheaded witch said as she rubbed at her eyes, trying to get the sleep out of them, then began to trudge into the living room and towards the front door, her boyfriend right behind her. Gunn walked quietly, almost as silent as Angel, and Willow knew it was a survival tactic that had served him well on the streets... It also served him well as an integral part of Angel Investigations. While they all fought when they were needed, Angel and Gunn did most of the leg work, Gunn handling anything that had to be done outside during the day, the pair teaming up for most anything else, Willow provided the magic and helped Wesley with the research, and Cordelia, on top of getting those mind-numbing visions, handled the public relations and did some research on the side as well. All in all, they were a good team.
Frowning, Willow looked out the peephole of the front door, hearing and seeing the rain as it came pouring down. She could make out a figure on the front steps... A woman about five and a half feet tall, long hair... She thought the person looked familiar, but the darkness caused her to question herself, and it wasn’t until a flash of lightning lit everything up that she realized who it was.
“Oh, my,” she murmured, flipping on the porch light and unlocking the door, jerking it open and pulling the woman on the doorstep inside, dragging her suitcase in as well, leaving it on the floor by the door. Gunn, who had quickly and easily gone into a fighting stance, just as easily relaxed his form, seeing that Willow quite obviously knew this person, despite the fact that he had no idea who she was.
“I... I’m sorry to just come here like this...”
“Don’t you dare apologize,” Willow said, her voice a bit sharp. Despite the heavy rain that had soaked her to the bone, Willow could see that the woman she was leading to the kitchen had been crying, and she knew without a doubt that she had come a long way to get here.
“Um, for those of us who are me, can I ask what’s going on?” Gunn questioned as he watched his girlfriend settle some unknown redhead into one of their kitchen chairs, and Willow spared him a glance as she went to make some coffee.
“Gunn, this is my cousin Lita. Lita, this is my boyfriend Charles Gunn.”
“It’s uh, it’s nice to meet you,” Lita offered with a weak smile, still looking apologetic. “I’m really sorry to just show up like this...”
Gunn saw the look on his girlfriend’s face, and he made himself smile at Lita, which really wasn’t that difficult. She looked so sad and tired... He couldn’t find it in himself to be angry that she had woken him up from one of the better dreams he’d had lately. There hadn’t been a single demon in it... Only him, Willow, and candlelight.
“It’s okay... I mean, hey, you’re family. I’m going to go and get some towels so you can dry off,” he said, and Willow smiled at him gratefully, letting him know without a doubt that he had just scored some major boyfriend points with that one.
As Gunn left the room, Willow turned to her cousin, eyeing her critically. “Lita, are you okay? And that’s a really dumb question, because it’s very obvious that you are not okay. You wouldn’t have come all this way otherwise. What’s going on?”
Lita sniffled slightly, reaching up to wipe at a tear that was escaping. “I just... Things are really messed right now, and I needed a break. Mom’s on vacation, and I needed to be around someone, so... I really am sorry that I just came like this, without any warning.”
Willow sat down next to the other woman, glancing up as Gunn came back with some towels, then left the room, obviously seeing that the women were in talk mode and he wasn’t needed. As he left, Willow turned her attention back to Lita. “You’re family. And you know I’m here if you need me. Do you... Do you want to talk about it, or save that for morning? You look exhausted.”
Lita frowned, reaching up to rub at her forehead, wishing she could rub away the tension headache that had built there and was now throbbing rather unpleasantly. She knew she’d have to tell Willow what was going on sooner or later... Probably sooner... But she didn’t want to get into it now. She was cold, she was tired, and all she wanted to do was rest for awhile. “Can we save it for tomorrow?” she finally asked, and Willow nodded, standing up and reaching for her arm.
“Sure we can. Come on, I’ll show you to the guest room.”
Gunn looked up as Willow entered their room, and he lifted his eyebrows at her. “So, do we know why dear cousin Lita showed up on our doorstep?”
“Not yet,” the redhead replied, pulling off her robe and laying back down in bed, Gunn sighing and laying down beside her, spooning her body against his.
“Will we know soon?”
“We’ll know when she’s ready. Something’s wrong, and... Lita’s more than my cousin. She and Aunt Laura were always the ones... They were the only ones who ever cared about me. They’re the only ones in my family who actually know where I live,” she said with a small laugh.
“You mean with me?”
“I mean in LA,” she replied, her voice wry. “The point is, Lita matters to me. And right now, Lita needs to be here for some reason, and I’m going to be here for her.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to do anything else.”
Willow pulled her shoulder-length hair up into a makeshift bun, letting a few strands fall freely around her face, then headed into the kitchen, smiling when she saw Gunn and Lita in there, Gunn flipping pancakes, which was his specialty. He usually took care of breakfast, and she took care of dinner. They did whatever for lunch, and truth be told, it worked quite well for them.
“Good morning,” the redheaded witch said with a winning smile as she entered the room, walking over to Gunn and wrapping her arms around his waist.
“Morning, Sleepyhead,” he replied with a smile as he piled the last of the batch of pancakes onto the plate, turning to smile at her and plant a kiss on her lips.
Lita watched the interplay between the two, the casualness with which they showed their affection, the naturalness between them, and she silently wished that she could find the same... Though deep down, she didn’t think she would. She knew Gunn and Willow hadn’t actually been all that fond of each other when they’d first met, but that had changed quickly, and now... Now it was so obvious how much they cared for each other...
As she sipped at the water she was drinking - she’d declined the coffee Gunn had offered her - she sighed, closing her eyes, trying to think about something else, her thoughts going back to where they always did, and she sighed, wondering what in the hell she was going to do.
“So, Lita, you coming with us when we go to work today?” Gunn asked as he and Willow took their seats, and Lita’s eyes snapped open, surprise on her face.
“Would that... Would that be okay? I mean, I don’t want to intrude...”
“No, it would be cool,” Willow told her, though her mind was going about a mile a minute trying to figure out how to keep Lita from learning about the more demonic side of their business...
“Are you sure?” Lita asked, and Gunn smiled at her.
“We’d love to have you.”
“Willow, do you think you could- Oh, I didn’t know we had...”
“This is my cousin Lita,” Willow interrupted with a smile. “Lita, this is Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, one of the people I work with.”
“Hi,” Lita said, pushing her hair behind her ears, smiling at the man when he held out his hand, reaching out one of her hands, finding that the Englishman had a solid grip to go with his kind smile.
“Hello. It’s nice to meet you... Willow didn’t tell me that she and Gunn were having company in...”
“It was kind of spur of the moment,” Lita said, chewing on her lower lip a bit. The man in front of her was obviously surprised that she was there, but too well-mannered to allow his shock to show.
“Oh, well, then... Welcome. I hope you enjoy your visit.”
“I hope so, too,” the redhead said softly, her eyes downcast, and Wesley frowned as he studied the lovely young woman, wondering what was going on. Something told him there was more to her sudden appearance than just a quick visit.
Wesley looked up and caught Willow’s eye, a question in his gaze, and the witch shrugged, obviously unsure what was going on as well.
“Hey, Lita why don’t I show you Willow’s office?” Gunn asked, then turned to Wesley. “Is Cordelia here yet?”
“Why, yes... Yes she is.”
“Cool. I can introduce you to her as well. You’ll love her... Well, once you get past the occasional attacks of snobbiness she has. Come on,” he said, slinging his arm around her shoulders and leading her deeper into the office.
“She seems sad,” Wesley said as soon as the pair was out of earshot, and Willow turned to look at the former Watcher who had once seemed so stuffy and was now one of her best friends.
“I know... She just showed up last night with no warning. And when we were having breakfast this morning, I looked at her... She didn’t know I was watching her, and something’s wrong. She said things are messed up, but I don’t know what it is that’s so messed up... I’m not sure she wants to talk about it.”
“Yes, well, that could be a problem. What do you intend to do?” he asked, removing his glasses and rubbing them clean with his handkerchief, a nervous habit that he shared with Giles. Willow sometimes wondered if maybe it was just a Watcher thing, but she’d never gotten up the nerve to ask. Wesley wasn’t too big on being reminded of the Watcher’s Council, what with him being fired from it and all. Of course, his track record hadn’t been too good with his Slayers, considering the fact that one of them had quit and the other one had gone nuts and ended up in a coma. However, Faith wasn’t in a coma any longer... No, she was in jail.
“What can I do?” Willow asked with a shrug as she leaned against the desk, a small frown marring her lovely face. “I want to know what’s up, but I don’t want to push her. When she showed up last night, I could tell she’d been crying... And Lita doesn’t cry. She’s tough as nails, just wild, and... I just don’t get it. I mean, the last few times I’d talked to her, I could tell she was a little on edge, a little nervous or whatever, but I just chalked it up to job stress.”
“Job stress?” Wesley repeated. “What is it that she does?”
Willow cracked a small smile. “She’s a wrestler. Lots of bumps and bruises, lots of traveling... It’s liable to wear you down after awhile. But usually she loves it. She always thrived on the craziness before, so now...”
“You’d like to think that’s the issue, but you don’t think it is.”
“No, I don’t, and-”
Both Wesley and the redhead in question looked up as Angel entered the room, coming from the direction of Cordelia’s office, which led both occupants of the room to the conclusion that the vampire had already met their unexpected guest.
“What is it, Angel?”
“Can I talk to you in my office?”
“Sure,” Willow replied, a small frown on her face as she followed her boss into his office, Angel closing the door behind them. “Look, if this is about Lita...”
“It is, but not in the way you think,” Angel said as he turned to face her, leaning against his desk, his arms crossed over his chest. “I have no problem with her being here, but... Gunn said her visit was spur of the moment...”
“And do you know what spurred it on? Has she said she has any... news or anything?”
“No. She just came. Angel what are you getting at? Lita’s cool, I swear. She’s not a danger or anything, She’s my cousin; I’ve known her all my life. She’s like a sister to me.”
“So, if she had kids, then you’d be like an aunt to them?”
“Yeah, I guess, but... What are you talking about? Lita doesn’t have kids, and she... Angel, what’s going on?” she asked, a sudden thought hitting her, and she looked up, meeting her friend’s eyes, disbelief on her face. “Lita’s not pregnant...”
“Oh, she isn’t? Well, when I met her just now... if she’s not pregnant, then why did I hear two heartbeats?”
“Pregnant? That can’t be...” Willow muttered, her eyes going wide, and Angel sighed.
“I take it this is news to you?” he asked, and the redhead crossed her arms over her chest, glaring at him.
“Of course this is news. Damn it, Angel, why did you have to tell me this?” she demanded, and a confused frown came to the vampire’s face.
“I thought you would want to know-”
“Yes, I want to know! But I want to know because Lita told me! What if she doesn’t know? What if she doesn’t want me to know? Damn it, Angel... What if I say something... Oh, Lita, don’t have that, it isn’t good for the baby. How would I explain my knowing about it? Tell her my vampire boss has very astute hearing? I don’t think that would go over too well, Angel. Lita may know I’m a witch, and she may know a few things, but she doesn’t know about vampires, especially benevolent vampires with souls that run around saving people!”
The aforementioned vampire stood there quietly as Willow’s tirade came to a close, then he lifted his eyebrows at her. “Are you done?” he asked, and the redhead sighed, crossing her arms over her chest, a small pout coming to her face.
“I haven’t decided yet.”
“You think that’s why she came here?”
“I imagine it is. She’s not seeing anyone that I know of, Angel, so this can’t be a planned pregnancy. And her job... She’s a wrestler. You can’t exactly wrestle when you’re pregnant, which means she’s scared, she’s alone, and she’s out of a job. No wonder she was crying last night,” Willow muttered, putting her hand to her head. She felt like running her hand through her hair but resisted the urge, knowing her hastily made bun would just come tumbling down and not wanting to have to deal with it.
“Is there anyone we could call? Someone who might know what’s going on?” Angel asked softly, and Willow shrugged.
“She... she walks Matt and Jeff Hardy out to the ring. They’re friends, the three of them. She’s been hanging out with them for over a year now. She’s friends with a guy named Chris Jericho, too. Those are the only people I know about that she’s really close to, but I can’t... She’d kill me if I called them, and she found out about it. And Matt’s the kind of guy who would come straight here. He’s the overprotective type.”
“Could he be the father of Lita’s baby?” Angel asked softly, and Willow went to the window in Angle’s office, staring at the blinds. She wanted to look out the window, but knew the sunlight would set her boss aflame, so she restrained herself, frowning at the blinds covering the window instead.
“I don’t know. She’s never said or done anything to indicate that she feels that way about him... And I’d think she’d tell me.”
“It could have been one of those things that just happened,” Angel said, and Willow sighed, turning to face him once more.
“Yeah, well, with that scenario, it could be any one of the three. Or it could be someone completely different. I just... We don’t know, Angel. We don’t know the circumstances, or who the father is... Father. It feels really weird to think of my cousin Lita as pregnant... A mother,” the little redhead said, shaking her head in something akin to disbelief, and Angel forced a grin.
“Well, she could always just be one of those demons with two hearts,” he said helpfully. “Is there any possibility that Lita’s a demon? Ow!”
Willow pursed her lips and lifted her eyebrows at the vampire as he rubbed the back of his head where the heavy magic book had floated up and whacked him. “Lita is not a demon. Trust me, I know that. I’ve known her forever.”
“I was just making a joke.”
“Yeah, well, you definitely need some practice on your timing. Maybe a new writer as well,” the redhead stated, then sighed, closing her eyes. “I wish she’d tell me. I wish I knew whether or not she even knew about the pregnancy... But I’ve got to say that she does. She wouldn’t have come here like this unless it was a big deal... And this is definitely a big deal.”
“What are you going to do about it?” Angel asked softly, his eyes on his young friend and employee, and the young woman shrugged.
“What can I do, Angel? She’s family. I’m going to be here for her.”
Lita kept the polite smile on her face as long as she could, dropping it as soon as she exited the room, placing her hand on her abdomen as she hurried to where Cordelia had told her the bathroom was, trying not to lose it on her shoes. Yeah, that would make for a great impression on the nice people. Barf in their office. Gunn would probably think it was his cooking... Which it most definitely was not.
As soon as she made it to the bathroom, she shut and locked the door behind her, then fell to her knees in front of the toilet, yanking her hair away from her face. She vaguely wished that she’d been smart enough to put her hair up like Willow had, but it was too late for that now.
As her stomach rolled dangerously, she closed her eyes, feeling tears prick at the backs of them just an instant before the contents of her stomach finally made a return engagement, and she leaned over the toilet, praying that no one heard her retching. She knew she’d eventually have to tell Willow what was going on, but she wanted a day or two to rest, to settle in, first.
Sighing shakily as she finished, she sat back on her heels, using the wall to hold herself steady, breathing deeply, feeling the little beads of sweat popping up on her forehead. Damn, but she felt wretched... Stupid morning sickness... That was all she got to think before her stomach rolled again, and she was once again hanging her head over the toilet, vaguely wishing that she hadn’t eaten so many of those pancakes... Then there would have been less food to come back up.
Finally, her stomach seemed to find its calm again, and Lita reached out to flush the toilet, standing shakily as she did so. She wiped at her mouth, then rinsed it out with water, wishing that she could brush her teeth, but she didn’t have a toothbrush with her, so she’d have to settle for lots of water and some breath mints. She popped three of them out of the package and into her mouth one at a time, chewing them slowly, not wanting to throw them up, too. That would be the last straw... Barfing up breath mints.
After she was sure that they were going to stay where they belongs, Lita sighed, looking into the mirror, taking in the tired look and sad eyes, the edge of fear that colored her expression, and she carefully cooled herself back down to calm again. Even so, all she was doing deep down was wondering what in the hell she was going to do about this. She didn’t know how to tell him about the baby, if she even should... She wasn’t even entirely sure he remembered what had happened between them; he’d been so drunk, they both had.
How was she supposed to tell him that they had made a baby?
Lita sighed softly as she walked down the street, tucking her long hair behind her ears, not really making eye contact with anyone, being sure to stay close to Gunn as they passed by a crowd of rather creepy-looking people. It was early afternoon, a little after one o’clock, and she had spent the entire morning at the office with them, doing some research for cases that Willow had deemed ‘safe’ - meaning the cases they had that didn’t involve anything supernatural. About fifteen minutes before, Angel had come in to ask Gunn to go pick up the lunch they had ordered, and the redheaded wrestler had offered to go with him.
“So, Lita, how do you like the office of Angel Investigations so far?” the man beside her asked as he slung his arm around her shoulders, drawing her nearer to him, not liking some of the looks that were being sent her way.
“Well, you were certainly right about Cordelia,” the pretty redhead said after a moment, turning her head to glance at him. “I do like her... She is really nice. I haven’t seen the snobbiness yet, though. Of course, when you consider some of the women I work with... Well, it would be pretty hard to top them.”
“That bad, huh?” he asked, and she shrugged.
“It’s really just Trish and Stephanie, I suppose. Everyone else... I don’t know. I don’t hang around the women too much... But getting back to the people in your offices,” she said, politely making it clear to him that she didn’t really want to talk about work, at least not at the moment. Maybe later.
“But of course,” Gunn said with a nod, letting the switch back to their original subject slide with grace.
“Wesley seems nice. A little reserved... I guess the word is proper. I like him, though.”
“England’s nice. Pretty cool guy for the most part. He’s actually loosened up since I met him. Wills and Cordy say he was really uptight back when they met him in Sunnydale... And what do you think about our fearless leader?”
“Not a real talkative guy,” she said with a laugh. “That’s not something I’m too used to... He seems cool, though... Maybe a little brooding.”
“Only a little?” Gunn replied with a chuckle, and the redhead shrugged, wondering if maybe she should tell Gunn that there were a few occasions that morning when she had caught the dark-haired man staring at her with an odd expression on his handsome face, but then decided to let it slide. Maybe she’d mention it to Willow later on...
“You know, Gunn, I really am sorry about just showing up like that last night,” Lita said suddenly, running her hand over her hair and biting her lip nervously as she shot a glance his way. “I... I really should have called or something... Given you two some warning. It was thoughtless of me to just show up on your doorstep. I mean, you might not have even been there...”
“Lita, it’s okay,” Gunn tried to assure her, giving her shoulder a gentle squeeze as they headed into the diner from which they had ordered lunch for the office... Even Angel had ordered food in order to avoid any questions from Lita. “We’re glad to have you visit, okay? You’re welcome to stay as long as you like.”
“You’re a really good guy, Gunn. You know that, don’t you?” she told him, a small, sweet smile on her lips, and he grinned back at her.
“I’ve been told that before. It helps to hear it on occasion, though.”
“I’ll make sure and let Willow know she needs to tell you that every once in awhile,” Lita replied as she followed Gunn up to the counter, waiting for some pimply-faced teenage boy to come over to wait on them. When the idiot’s gaze finally drifted from the redhead’s chest to her face, he was met with a rather annoyed glare from the woman, and the kid quickly cleared his throat, turning his gaze to Gunn.
“Can I- Can I help you?” he asked, his voice cracking slightly from nervousness, and Gunn gave him a look that told him he knew precisely what the boy had been looking at before speaking.
“I’m here to pick up an order for Angel Investigations,” he told him as he reached into his back pocket to grab his wallet, pulling out the cash Angel had given him to cover for it.
Lita stood at Gunn’s side for a moment, then her eyes widened suddenly, and she put her hand to her belly as her eyes wildly roamed around the diner, falling gratefully on the restroom sign. “I’ll be right back,” she told him, hurrying off before he could say anything in reply, not seeing the speculative look on his face as she walked away.
She shoved the door open, her insides quivering as she glanced around the room, glad to find that it was empty. Moving quickly, she ran into the first stall, slamming and locking it shut behind her, then falling to her knees and leaning over the toilet, retching as she had earlier that morning... Damn it, she’d thought she’d gotten rid of everything then.
“Oh, God,” she muttered as she finished, wiping at her mouth and grimacing. If this was what morning sickness was like, she hoped she hurried the hell up and got that phase of her pregnancy over with.
Her lower lip trembling slightly, she reached out and flushed the toilet, then made her way to her feet, opening the door to the stall and going over to the sink. She wiped at her face, wanting to splash it with cold water, but knowing that wasn’t really an option... It would be a dead giveaway to Gunn that she had been sick. Sighing, she looked into the mirror, taking in her pale face, the tears in her eyes...
“God, how did I get into this mess?” she whispered, shaking her head.
After a long moment of staring at herself, she turned the water on and rinsed out her mouth, then popped a few breath mints in her mouth, mentally making a note to buy more soon. At this rate, they wouldn’t last that much longer. Taking a deep breath, the redhead turned and headed to the door, pushing the door open and walking out, her eyes immediately going to the counter, looking for Gunn. He wasn’t there, and for a second she almost panicked, but then she saw him sitting at one of the tables, watching her, and she took a deep breath before making her way over to him.
“Sorry about that. We ready?”
“Sit down, Lita,” he told her, and she did, frowning.
“What is it?”
“You tell me... This is the second time today you’ve run off to the bathroom like that, and that tells me one of two things: either you’re sick, or you’re pregnant.” At the look on Lita’s face, he nodded. “That’s what I thought.”
“Don’t tell anybody Gunn,” she told him, and he sighed, then nodded, not wanting to tell her that Angel probably already knew...
“You’re going to have to tell Willow, you know. I mean, if you came here for help... Did... Did the baby’s father react badly, or...”
“He doesn’t know.”
“I don’t know how to tell him, Gunn. God, I don’t know how he’s going to react. We’re not a couple... Sleeping together just happened, and now I’m suddenly pregnant. How do I tell him that? What do I do if he tells me to stay the hell away from him, that he wants nothing to do with me or the baby?”
“I don’t know,” Gunn replied. “But you know Willow will be here for you no matter what. I will, too. You have to tell him, Lita. He deserves to know. You have to give him a chance.”
“I know he does. I just don’t know how to tell him... I don’t know if I can.”
Willow ran her hands through her medium-length bright red hair, trying to get it to stop appearing like she’d had it up in a bun all day. Which, of course, she had... She just didn’t want it to look that way. Sighing, she made one last attempt, then nodded, at least semi-satisfied with the result of her efforts and turned away from the mirror, heading into the living room to join Lita. Gunn and Angel were off doing some footwork for a case, and who knew how long they would be gone... Which meant she and Lita had some time to fill.
The day had been tough for Willow... Though she loved having her cousin around - she, Cordelia, and Lita had had a great conversation earlier in the day - Willow found it incredibly difficult not to bring up Lita’s pregnancy that Angel had made her aware of, and it had at times also been a challenge to keep her cousin from seeing some of the more supernatural files. Lita knew some stuff, sure, but knowing about the basics of witchcraft didn’t exactly make her ready for Hellhounds.
“Willow, can I talk to you?”
As she entered the living room, she was greeted by the tentative sound of her cousin’s voice, and Willow turned to see the redheaded wrestler curled up on the couch, a blanket wrapped around her while she pretended to watch the eleven o’clock news, probably waiting for Leno to come on. Willow frowned as she walked over to the couch, not liking the nervous look on her cousin’s face, despite the fact that she knew - or at least hoped that she knew - what it was that Lita wanted to talk about. Geezus, she hoped there wasn’t another secret besides Lita’s pregnancy... She didn’t think she could take too many more surprises.
“Sure,” the slender redheaded witch said as she joined her cousin on the couch, immediately noticing that Lita had already brought in some drinks... It looked like hot tea for Willow - and when she tasted it, she realized that it was her favorite flavor - but Lita was drinking water. The caffeine from the tea probably wasn’t the greatest for the baby. “What’s on your mind, Li?”
Lita shook her head ruefully, tightening the blanket around her. “A lot of things, actually. Things are kind of a mess right now... More than kind of, if I’m honest,” Lita said softly, shoving her hand through her hair, looking incredibly nervous.
Willow reached out and put her hand on her cousin’s blanket-covered arm. “You can talk to me. Anything, no matter what. I’m here. I mean, think about it, Lita. I tell you things that I don’t tell anyone else. You can trust me.”
“I know I can. That’s not the problem, Wills,” Lita said with a heavy sigh as she uncurled her knees from her chest and put her feet on the floor, letting the blanket fall away a little as she leaned forward, staring blankly at the television. “The problem is, I want so badly *not* to talk about it. Because, you know, if I talk about it, if I actually say the words, it makes it real. I have said the words, but... Each time I say them, it makes it more and more real, more frightening. I feel like I’m sinking, Willow, and I don’t know what to do.”
“I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what it is,” the witch replied calmly, though in reality it was taking all of her willpower not to just blurt out that she already knew that Lita was pregnant.
Lita was silent for a moment, then began to speak again, her voice soft and a little wistful. “You’re lucky to have Gunn, you know. You know where you stand with him. He loves you. I heard him tell you that today before he and Angel left for that case. I don’t have anyone who tells me he loves me when he leaves each day.”
“And that’s important to you?”
“I never thought it was,” Lita admitted, toying a little with her long red hair now. “I always thought men would come and go, I could take ‘em or leave ‘em. But... there’s so much more to it than that. I want more than that, and I need more than that. But I should have made sure I had it before... Damn it, Willow, this is all just such a mess.”
“What is, Lita? You’re giving me bits and pieces, but I’m not getting the whole story here. Just tell me,” Willow urged, and her cousin sighed, the sound managing to be both sad and frustrated at the same time.
“I’m not ready for this, Willow. I’m nuts. You know that... You’ve seen the things I do in the ring, and now I can’t even do that. And that sounds resentful. I... I don’t blame anybody, and despite how scared I am, I don’t want it to go away... I want it... But I wasn’t planning on this, Willow. I wasn’t ready to get pregnant.”
There. She had said it. She had gotten out the word ‘pregnant,’ so now her cousin knew...
“Oh, Lita,” Willow breathed, relieved that the other woman had finally managed to get the words out, even though she was so obviously scared to say them, scared to admit it.
Lita felt Willow’s hand on her shoulder, and she quickly wiped at her eyes before turning to look at her cousin. “I’m going to have to tell the WWF, and I’m going to have to leave... Maybe I can just quit without giving a reason. I don’t know. But I’m already a couple months along... I found out a few weeks ago.”
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner? Or come? You know you could have come to me the instant you found out.”
“I was just in shock, I suppose. I mean, I was feeling a little sick, under the weather, so I went to the doctor and told her my symptoms. She more or less recognized them and asked if I could possibly be pregnant. I wanted so badly to say no, but I couldn’t. I knew there was a chance, so she tested me. And congratulations, I’m going to be a mommy. A messed up, crazy mommy who enjoys jumping off the top rope for a living - of course, I can't do that anymore - but a mommy nonetheless,” she said, then looked over at Willow. “How could I have screwed up this badly?”
“That isn’t fair,” Willow told her. “The father is as much in this as you are. He made the choice as much as you did.”
“Yeah, well, he’s not carrying a baby for nine months... And that sounds resentful. I don’t mean to. It’s not the baby’s fault that this isn’t exactly the best time for this. And despite all of this, I really do want the baby. I’m just scared of what’s going to happen... Not just now, but in the future.”
“What does the father say?” Willow asked, and Lita shrugged.
“Your guess is as good as mine. I haven’t told him yet.”
“I... I couldn’t. I can hardly handle this myself, let alone take it if he abandons me. Right now, I’m alone by choice. But if he just tosses me out after I tell him, then it’s no longer my choice. I don’t know if I can take that. I couldn’t take it if he looked at me with this accusing expression, like I meant to do this to him, like I meant to trap him or something... I didn’t. I didn’t mean to get pregnant. I just did.”
“You have to tell him eventually, Lita. He deserves to know,” Willow said, and Lita sighed in response before speaking.
“I know he does. And I will tell him. I just need to do this in my own time.”
Good intentions are called good intentions because that’s just what they are. They’re things people intend to do, that just happen to be good... But people don’t always do what they intend to. It happens to the best people.
And it happened to Lita.
It had been nearly three weeks since the redhead had shown up on her cousin’s doorstep, and while everyone in the offices of Angel Investigations were well aware of Lita’s pregnancy by now, she was no closer to picking up the phone and calling the baby’s father... or anyone else, for that matter. It was too hard to do, and too easy to let it slide...
“Do you happen to know where the Wilcox file is? I still don’t understand Cordelia’s filing system.”
Lita looked up at Angel’s question, smiling at the vampire. She’d found out what he was a little over a week ago, the fact that he was standing behind her while she was checking out her reflection in the mirror and realizing he didn’t have one of his own leading to some major screaming, a fainting spell, and a long explanation when she had finally calmed down. She was also now well aware of Cordelia’s visions, having been witness to them on more than one occasion.
“Um, let’s see... Wilcox... That’s the woman with the deadbeat ex-husband, right?”
“Yeah... The, uh, deadbeat demon ex-husband...”
“Right...” Lita said with a nod. “It might be under deadbeat, or G.”
“G? And that would be because...?” Angel questioned, and the redhead shrugged.
“Cordelia really liked the women’s Gucci purse. I’ll find it for you, okay?”
“Are you sure you should-,” he began, and she cut him off with a roll of her eyes.
“I’m pregnant; I’m not an invalid. I can look for a file. You really were raised in the era in which chivalry was alive and well, weren’t you?”
“Yes, but I didn’t necessarily practice it,” the vampire replied as he watched Lita go over to the filing cabinet and begin her search, listening to the beating of two hearts that was coming from the woman. It amazed him to know that life was forming within her, that in just about six months, a baby would be born. He still wondered who the father was, why she struggled so hard against telling the man, but he didn’t feel it was his right to intrude. He was, after all, just a vampire, and a male one at that. He couldn’t have a clue what she was going through.
“So you’re making up for lost time by being chivalrous now?” she questioned, her voice close, and he jerked out of his thoughts, surprised to discover that Lita was right there in front of him, the Wilcox file in her hand. “You okay?”
“Just thinking, I guess.”
“Or is that brooding?” she countered, lifting her eyebrows at him, and he smiled as he took the file from her.
“You’ve been hanging around with Cordelia far too much, haven’t you?”
“Girls night in a few days ago. It was actually quite fun, though poor Gunn was so put upon that he had to take refuge at Wesley’s. He said next time we have to go to Cordelia’s, but then we have the whole Dennis issue. He’s a ghost, and he’s pretty much bound to that apartment. He can’t escape from us.”
“You know, you’re taking this whole supernatural thing quite well.”
“My cousin is a witch. I knew that before I came here, so it sort of softened the blow,” she said as she went back to sit down once more, watching him as she played with her hair. “So, what is it you need the file for?”
“Got some leads on the deadbeat demon,” Angel replied, then looked up as Cordelia came in. “I’ll leave you two to your work... And Lita, I would pay you a fortune if you’d do the filing for me.”
“I heard that,” Cordelia stated mildly as she sat down at her desk, exchanging a look with Lita. “And I’d appreciate it if you’d leave so I can get back to work and perhaps file the Lawson file under F for no apparent reason at all.”
Lita snickered as Angel made a face, enjoying the banter between the two, watching as the vampire left before turning to the other woman. “You’re really friends, aren’t you?”
“Who? Me and Angel? I guess you could say that,” the brunette said after a moment, cocking her head slightly as she paused in going through the files on her desk. “I mean, he can be a pain in the butt sometimes, but he’s cool.”
Lita nodded, a sad look on her face, and Cordelia frowned, looking at the other woman. “You miss your friends, don’t you?”
The redhead gave a start of surprise at the woman’s question, then turned to gaze at her, frowning. “I guess I do. We were pretty close, but... I’m not sure how to go back... I guess I’m a wimp, but-”
“You’re not a wimp, Lita. Just confused,” she stated, then looked up as Willow entered the room. “What’s up, witch?”
“Not much, Cordy,” she replied, running her hand through her hair. “It’s a slow day, actually. Are you having fun filing things in a way that will drive Angel completely and totally insane?”
Cordelia grinned at the other woman. “You know me far too well,” she said and the redhead shrugged.
“Not really. I just ran into Angel. He was grumbling about something or other, and he had a file in his hand, and I’m smart enough to put two and two together.”
“But of course. Never underestimate the mind of Willow Rosenberg,” Cordelia said, holding out a file to her friend. “Want to help me?”
The redhead waved away the offer. “No, no, no... Far be it for me to hone in on your territory. You’re the champ when it comes to screwing up the filing system for the sole purpose of driving Angel and Wesley insane. If they ever find out you do it on purpose...”
“I’ll use my superb acting skills in order to weasel my way out of it,” the brunette said cheerfully, smiling charmingly at the two women in front of her.
Willow couldn’t help but laugh. “You’re insane, you know that?”
“So I’ve been told.”
“Willow? Willow, can I borrow you for a moment?”
“What is it, Wes?” the redheaded witch said as she turned to face the former Watcher, and he smiled at her.
“There are a few things I need for a little incantation. Herbs and the like. You know they don’t really like me down at the shops...”
“And you want me to go pick the stuff up for you,” Willow said with a nod, grinning. “For a man who was once shot in the gut, you can certainly be a wuss at times.”
“Why thank you, my dear Willow. Now are you going to do this for me, or not? I really would appreciate it,” he said, and the redhead walked over to him.
“You got a list?” she asked, her grin widening as he handed it to her. “I figured as much. Lita, you want to come with me?”
The taller redhead nodded as she stood. “Sure, I’ll come. Cordy?”
“I’ve still got some filing to do,” the brunette replied, pretending to ignore the pained look Wesley gave her. Just for that, she was going to file the Jenkins file under the name of the family dog. “Now off with you.”
The others left the room, Lita and Willow heading off to the magic shop while Wesley went to bemoan the fate of the files to Angel, leaving Cordelia humming to herself. She jumped a little as the phone rang, quickly realizing that it wasn’t the phone on her desk, but the cellular phone on the couch, going over to answer it.
“Hello, Angel Investigations,” she said automatically correcting herself. “Sorry, force of habit. Hello, you have reached Lita’s cell phone. Can I take a message?”
“Is, uh, is Lita there?” a decidedly male voice on the other end asked.
“Nope, she just went to run an errand with Willow, but she’ll be back soon. Should I have her call you back?”
“No, that’s okay. I’ll catch her later. Thanks.”
“Well, who should I tell her called?” Cordelia asked, then frowned. “Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?”
But he’d already hung up.
“And what exactly is it that we’re doing today?” Willow asked as she took in the sight of Gunn sitting on the floor surrounded by files.
“Well, at the moment, I’m pretty sure I’m going completely nuts trying to figure out Cordelia’s filing system,” he said with a sigh, and the slender redhead smiled as she knelt down beside him, carefully removing the files from his hands.
“Honey, you really shouldn’t try to understand Cordelia, or anything that she does. I’ve known her since we were five, and I still don’t always understand her. Trying to understand her would just make your head explode, and I really don’t want that to happen,” she told him, and Gunn smiled slowly.
“Cause you couldn’t live without me?” he questioned, and Willow grinned at him.
“I was thinking more along the lines of I really didn’t want to clean up the mess,” she informed him, then squealed as he grabbed her around the waist and tackled her to the ground, tickling her mercilessly.
“Take that back!” he told her, and Willow stuck her tongue out at him, laughing, before muttering a few words under her breath, and Gunn suddenly came to an abrupt halt. “Hey, no fair using magic.”
“And no fair tickling me,” she returned as she sat up, lifting her eyebrows at him. He gave her a look, but he couldn’t really do much more since Willow had him frozen in place. The little redhead grinned wickedly at him. “Now isn’t this interesting? Now *you’re* at *my* mercy... This could be fun...”
“I’m thinking it’s bordering on boyfriend abuse,” he countered, and Willow frowned considering, then shrugged.
“I guess it could be,” she admitted before speaking a few words quietly again, and Gunn smiled as he realized he could move again, slowly lifting his hands, palm out.
“You are quite the interesting woman,” he told her as he cupped her face in his hands, and she smiled sweetly at him.
“I certainly keep you on your toes, don’t I?” she asked with a laugh before leaning in to kiss him, feeling the same rush she always did whenever her lips touched his...
“What are you two- Oh, sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt... But then again, I’m not paying the two of you to make out in the entryway of the office, so I’m not going to apologize. I am, however, going to ask why the files are all over the floor.”
Willow looked up at Angel, smiling cheerily at her boss as she got to her feet and went to shut the blinds she he could leave the doorway and actually come into the sunny room. “Well, it’s got to be easier to find what you’re looking for now than it was before,” she told the vampire, and he couldn’t resist the urge to smile back at her.
“You’re probably right. However, I don’t really think it’s the best of ideas to have files about deadbeat demon husbands and computer magnates who are being blackmailed about their relationship with demon hookers out in the middle of the floor like this where anyone... Like a *normal* client could see them,” Angel replied, and Gunn shrugged.
“Sorry, but I’m working on trying to re-file all this crap in an order in which it can actually be found again instead of the way Cordy does it. If it bothers you, I can just scoop it all up in a big heap and shove it back in the drawers. Couldn’t be much worse than the way Cordy files it,” the young man said, making a move to actually do just that, but Angel shook his head.
“No, no, don’t do that,” he said, holding his hands out to stop Gunn. “Please, by all means, file away. I’m begging you. I’ll pay you triple this week for doing it...”
“What is going on in here? Those are my files!” Cordelia squealed loudly as she came into the room, her eyes wide at the sight of Gunn on the floor sitting in the middle of what amounted to the files of the entire clientele Angel Investigations had ever had... Well, okay, maybe not quite so many as that. They’d lost a bunch of them back when the first office had blown up. But still... “All my hard work.”
“Yeah, your hard work in filing things as creatively as you can,” Gunn told her, giving her a look. “I’ve heard about your GPA, I know what your SAT scores were. You’re smart, Cordelia. There’s no way in hell you think this is actually how you file. You been playin’ us, and that just doesn’t work when we really need a file, and fast. Got it?”
“But it’s so fun,” the brunette told him as she got to her knees and scooped up a random file. “Besides, I know exactly where each file went. And that makes me indispensable.”
“You’re vision girl,” Gunn reminded her. “You’re already indispensable.”
“Fine, I’ll help you put the files in order,” Cordelia said, giving him a put out look, and Willow smiled as she joined them.
“Here, I’ll help...”
“Well, this certainly looks like a party.”
“It’s definitely my idea of a good time,” Cordelia said as she looked up to see Wesley entering the room. “We’re redoing the filing system.”
“Really? Into a system that actually makes sense to those of us who aren’t you?” the former Watcher asked as he looked from person to person, a flicker of hope on his face.
“Lita understands it,” Cordelia protested, and Willow grinned.
“Yeah, well, Lita also works with men who have taken a few too many chair shots. She understands a lot of things that most people wouldn’t.”
“She still understands it,” the brunette said as haughtily as she could manage, smiling as both Wesley and Angel joined her, Willow, and Gunn on the floor, each one taking a section and starting to alphabetize it. “Well, this is certainly cozy.”
“Maybe we should have done this a long time ago-” Angel began, then cut himself off when the front door began to open, and a man the vampire had never seen before slowly entered the building, looking like he wasn’t certain that he wanted to be there. “Can we help you?”
The man’s gaze flew to Angel almost immediately, and he lifted his eyebrows as he spotted the group sitting on the floor. Quickly realizing how unprofessional they must look sitting on the floor going through the files like they were, Cordelia scrambled to her feet, smoothing out her skirt before heading over to the man, holding out her hand.
“Hello,” she said with a bright smile that faltered a bit when he didn’t return it, but her smiled strengthened a little when he actually did shake her hand. “Can we... Can we help you?”
“Is this Angel Investigations?” he asked, looking around the inside of the abandoned hotel turned office building, and it was obvious to Cordy that he didn’t really think it was.
“Yes, yes it is. Is there... Can we help you?” she asked again, and he shrugged, lifting his eyebrows at her as he studied her.
“Maybe... I came here to see Lita. Is she here?” he asked, and Cordelia frowned, not sure what she should say to that, taking in the set of his jaw, but then seeing the uncertainty in his eyes.
Cordelia bit her lip, then turned to Willow, who shrugged. Sighing, Cordelia turned back to the man. “I’ll go get her...”
Sighing, the brunette went over to the intercom, buzzing up to the room she knew Lita had been resting in. “Lita?”
“Could you come down here for a sec?”
“Be right there,” the redhead replied, and Cordelia was about to buzz her back and tell her that someone was here to see her, but Lita had apparently left the room already, because she didn’t answer. A few moments later, Lita came into the room, her hand on her belly as she shook her head. “You know, I really thought the morning sickness would be over by now. Pregnancy can be such a pain...”
“Lita,” Willow hissed, and the redhead looked up, her eyes widening when she saw the man standing there, and she smiled weakly at him, his expressionless, unwavering gaze fixed on her.
“Hi, Chris,” she managed, and Chris Benoit nodded slightly in response, watching her for a moment before speaking, his voice belying none of the shock he felt.
“I think we need to talk.”
Cordelia looked towards the door Lita and the dark-haired guy with the bright blue eyes had gone through, then back to the others. “This is bad, isn’t it?” she asked, and Willow shrugged.
“I don’t know. I hope not. Lita was just getting settled... calm, happy. And now... he shows up.”
“Who is he?” Angel asked, looking at the slender redhead. “She called him Chris, right? Didn’t you say she’s friends with a guy named Chris Jericho? Was that him?”
Willow shook her head. “No. No way. Jericho’s hair is blonde... And long. But Chris... Jericho’s tag partner, Chris Benoit. Damn it, that’s Chris Benoit.”
“Is that good or bad?” Gunn asked, and Willow responded with a shrug.
“I don’t know,” she said, and Cordelia bit her lip, thinking about the guy who had just gone off with Lita. Despite being kind of intimidating, he wasn’t bad looking, and damn sure was built.
“Do you think... Do you think he could be the father of Lita’s baby?” the brunette asked.
“I don’t know,” the redhead responded, looking in the direction the others had gone. “But whatever he is to her, he already knows she’s pregnant. I just hope that isn’t a bad thing.”
Lita’s hands were shaking as she led Chris into one of the rooms of the hotel that Angel Investigations used as their offices, and she turned to look at him. She started to cross her arms over her chest, then let them drop, afraid that would look defensive. After a moment, she looked up to meet his eyes. “How... how did you know where to find me?” she asked, wringing her hands slightly, and he was silent for a moment before answering.
“I called you... A few days ago. We’d been worried about you ever since you’d disappeared. Jeff is frantic, Matt’s trying to pretend he isn’t worried but is brooding almost constantly instead, and Jericho is hiding the fact that he’s worried about you by being even more of a pain in the ass than usual. Anyway... I called your cell phone, someone else answered. Said it was Angel Investigations, then corrected herself. She told me you were out with Willow. So I had two clues as to where to find you, if I could figure them out. Jeff knew who Willow was, and where she lived, so... I came here, and I looked up Angel Investigations. And here I am,” he finally finished up, holding his hands out as it to say, ‘and that’s that.’
“But... but why did you come looking for me? I don’t understand...” Lita inquired, and Chris closed his eyes, shaking his head, choosing not to dignify that with an answer and to instead move on.
“Why didn’t you tell anyone you were pregnant? Why didn’t... Oh, Lita” he said softly, deciding to ask the question that was foremost on his mind, the question that had leapt into his mind from the instant he had heard her muttered words out in the lobby, and she shrugged.
“I was scared... I was... I don’t know what I was. I was going to tell, but then it just got easier and easier not to...”
“Is it mine? Is the baby-? Wait, don’t answer that,” he said with a sharp shake of his head. “It was insulting of me to even ask that question. You’re not the type... It’s my baby. I know it is. God, Lita why didn’t you come to me?”
“What would you have said?” she asked, shrugging her shoulders, hating that she could already feel the tears coming to her eyes. “One night, Chris. We were together one night. The five of us had gone out to celebrate your tag title win, that it’s. All of us were drunk, and... We ended up in your room, just the two of us, and... God, Chris. I didn’t even know if you remembered what we did...”
“Of course I remember. Being with you was amazing,” he told her, stepping closer to her, then stopping when she tensed up. “God, after it happened, you avoided me, and I thought you were so angry with me. I thought you hated me...”
“I was embarrassed,” Lita whispered, looking down at her hands before sighing and sitting down on the old bed that still remained in the room. “I practically threw myself at you that night...”
“No, you didn’t. And if you insist on saying that you did, then you’ve got to know that I caught you willingly,” he told her as he knelt down on the floor, getting as close to her eye level as he could considering the fact that she was sitting on the bed staring at her hands in her lap. “Maybe alcohol had reduced our inhibitions that night. I’m pretty dam certain that they did. But my memories are still there. I wanted that night, Lita. I’ve always... Damn it, Lita I’m sorry if I ever did anything to give you any indication that I didn’t want that night. I wanted it.”
“Yeah, well, I bet you didn’t think that our one-night stand would end up making a baby... Of course, one time is all it takes..” Lita muttered, wiping at her eyes, and Chris gave her a look.
“If I remember correctly, it may have only been one night, but it was more than one time, my dear.”
“Can I come over there?” he asked suddenly, and she looked over at him, confused. “Without you shrinking away from me? I’m not going to hurt you, Lita.”
She watched him for a moment, then nodded, tucking her hair behind her ears as he came over to sit next to her. “I don’t know what to say, Chris.”
“Then listen,” he advised softly before reaching out to take her chin in his hand, gently forcing her to look at him, using his free hand to wipe away her tears. “I don’t know how you feel about me, how you feel about our baby... If you think I ruined your life... But... Did I ever tell you how much I want children, Lita?”
“Kids. I want children. We’re not kids in high school, Lita. I’m not the kind of man to take a look at responsibility and run scared. I don’t run away from things...”
“No, that’s my job,” Lita sniffled, and Chris shook his head.
“Don’t get down on yourself like that.”
“Why not? It’s true...”
“Shh... Let me talk. What’s done is done. I’m not going to yell, because that’s not going to do us any good, and we both know it. I’m trying to put myself in your shoes, Lita. You didn’t know where I stood, and you found yourself pregnant, single, and without a job. So you went home. Going home isn’t running away. But now... I will take care of you, Lita. I will take care of you, and I will take care of our baby. We could... We could be a family if you let us, if you want us to be,” he told her, keeping his eyes on hers.
“What are you saying, Chris?” she asked softly, and Benoit smiled gently at her.
“Come back with me.”
“What? I can’t-”
“You can. We miss you, baby. I want you back, and so do Matt, Jeff, and Jericho. They’d go crazy for you and the baby... You could send all four of out on silly food errands when you get cravings...”
“Our child would have three built-in uncles. Please, Lita. Please come back with me. Please give it a chance,” he implored, his eyes eloquent, and Lita took a deep breath, still unsure.
“I’m... I’m scared,” she confessed, and Benoit leaned in to press a gentle kiss on her forehead.
“That makes two of us. But I’m willing to try if you are. What do you say, Lita?” he asked, and she locked eyes with him for a moment, then nodded slowly.
“I... I’ll go home with you,” she told him, and he breathed out a sigh of relief before drawing her into his arms.
“I really wish you weren’t going,” Willow said quietly as she watched Chris Benoit pack up the rental car he and Lita would be taking to the airport, where they would catch their flight to rejoin the WWF in time for Chris to make SmackDown on the following night.
“I need to go, though, Willow, and you know it,” the taller of the two redheads said as she turned to look at her cousin. “You told me yourself that I needed to tell him the truth... So I did.”
“And now you’re leaving. I was getting used to having you around,” the witch replied with a shrug.
“Yeah, well, six months from now, when I’ve got a screaming baby, you wouldn’t feel that way. I’d definitely have worn out my welcome by then,” Lita commented, putting her hand over her abdomen, which still didn’t show much in the way of signs that she was having a baby.
“You could never wear out your welcome,” Willow told her, leaning over to give her cousin a hug, before holding her out at arm’s distance. “You do know that, don’t you? You’re family, Lita, and no matter what happens, you’re welcome here.”
“So are you scared?”
“Scared? Of what?”
“Of anything... I mean, the future, how the guys will react...”
“Chris and I are going to take it day by day, which is really the only thing we can do. I’ll be on the road with him right up until I become as big as a house... When it gets to be too much for me, we’ll decide what to do then... I’ll go home with Mom or something. But we’re going to work on it,” Lita said with a sigh as she pushed her hair out of her face. “We’ve got a lot to think about, but at least we’re both old enough to realize that.”
“And the guys?”
“I talked to all three of them last night... I talked to Jeff for over an hour. He was so glad to hear from me. I explained... He was upset that I hadn’t told him, but then he just got excited. If I’m not careful, he’ll probably be trying to dye the baby’s hair purple or something,” Lita said with a little laugh. “He missed me, and I... I think talking to him last night made me really realize how much I’d missed him. I miss Matt and Jericho, too. Only talked to Matt for a few minutes... I think I shocked him. He was kind of quiet, but sometimes he’s just that way. I know if I need a friend to just listen, he’ll be there for me. Not the same as having you there since Matt’s most definitely a guy, but... He’s a good friend.”
“Swore profusely, then said he hoped the baby looked like me instead of Chris.”
“How charming,” the redheaded witch said, her voice wry, and Lita smiled.
“That’s just Y2J. He was happy for me underneath it, I could tell. I don’t know why I was so damn scared before... Makes me feel silly for running out here like this...”
“Yeah, well, I’m glad you did,” Willow told her, holding her gaze. “Before you showed up like that, it had been nearly a year since I’d seen you. That was far too long. I’m sorry that it took you running scared to bring you out here, but I’m glad you came. I wish you’d come more often.”
“You could visit me, too, you know,” Lita said, giving her a look. “In fact, when the baby’s born, I fully expect you to come visit.”
“Are you sure I wouldn’t be in the way?”
“Of course you wouldn’t! And bring Gunn, too. And anyone else you want to... Wills, we have to keep in touch better, okay? I mean, I loved this past month. I came because I was scared, and I... I found a lot of friends here, and it means a lot to me to know that. And if we get much sappier, I’m going to cry, and we both know that isn’t a good thing,” Lita said with a forced laugh, and Willow grinned.
“Lita... We need to get going soon if we’re going to make our flight,” Benoit said as he came up behind the redhead, putting a hand on her shoulder, and Lita nodded.
“Okay, just give me a minute,” she told him before reaching out to hug Willow. “Thank you... thank you for being there for me.”
“Thanks for coming to me,” Willow replied as she returned the hug, trying not to cry as Lita pulled away and turned to the others, who had been standing at a distance letting Willow and Lita talk in private.
Cordelia was the first to step forward, and she wrapped her arms around the redhead. “It was great to get to know you,” the brunette said, and Lita smiled.
“Same goes... You’ll have to come visit. I could introduce you to Chris Jericho... I think you’d like him.”
“Is he cute?”
“Oh, yeah... And he’s got a great butt,” Lita said with a laugh, and Cordelia grinned.
“Maybe I’ll have to start watching wrestling now,” she said before getting serious again. “You take care of yourself, okay? Plenty of rest, the right food... And remember, no ugly maternity clothes. Got it?”
“Got it,” the other woman said with a laugh before turning to Wesley and hugging the Englishman.
“What Cordelia said is good advice,” he told her. “Well, the rest and eating part... I’m no expert on the clothes. You take care of yourself and that baby, you understand?”
“I understand, and I’ve got four very odd, rather overprotective wrestlers who will make sure I do just that,” she told him. “And one of them is the baby’s father, so he’ll be especially overprotective.”
That said, she turned to Gunn, who easily wrapped her up in a bear hug, and she grinned at the man. “You take care of Willow, you hear me?”
“I hear you, Red. I’ve done a pretty good job of taking care of her so far, I don’t intend to stop now,” he assured her, giving her an extra squeeze. “You take care of you and that baby... And he better take care of you. If he doesn’t, let him know that me, Angel, and England over here will be all up on his ass.”
“I’m sure he’ll be terrified,” Lita informed Gunn before turning toward the shadows where angel stood and going over to the vampire. “Thanks for everything, Angel.”
“I didn’t do anything.”
“You were my friend... You - all of you - let me into your lives. I appreciate that, and I’ll never forget it,” she told him before hugging him in turn as well, then looking over to Benoit, smiling and taking his hand when he held it out to her.
“You ready?” he asked her, and she took a deep breath, then nodded.
As they got in the car and drove off, Willow felt Gunn wrap his arms around her from behind, and she looked up at him. “I miss her already.”
“You know, I’ve been thinking... This whole thing with Lita being pregnant, it kind of made me think about the future... I’ve always wanted kids,” she told him, and he gave her a look before nodding slowly.
“Uh-huh. Is that a fact?”
“Yes, it is.”
“And what do you plan to do about it?” he asked cautiously, and she smiled at him.
“Don’t worry, Gunn. I don’t mean now... I know I’m not ready for that. Lita’s five years older than me, and she still isn’t entirely sure she’s ready. It’s just... Something to think about. Eventually.”
“Eventually,” he agreed, and Willow grinned before leaning up to kiss him.
“Don’t worry, Gunn. We still have plenty of time.”