The bus pulled into a truck stop. Xander had been waiting impatiently for this, he knew that the time was coming. The girls were still buzzing with excitement over winning the battle with the first and closing the hellmouth forever. Since they had gotten on the bus, Xander had been feeling the movement in his belly. He had suspected this for weeks, and now he was sure.
Xander got off the bus and searched around for Faith. He found Faith and Buffy together and spoke to them as one, "I'll be back in a little while, go ahead and eat without me." he said, looking from one slayer to the other.
"You okay Xan?" Faith asked with genuine concern as Buffy nodded and walked away.
"Fine, just need a major bathroom break." Xander replied with an embarrassed smile.
"I'll see to it that we don't leave without you." Faith said, then walked to join the others in the restaurant. Xander made his way in the opposite direction to the restrooms.
He entered a bathroom stall, making note that this bathroom was sparkling clean. He had expected this place to be as nasty as the gas station bathroom that they had visited earlier. As he felt another movement under his skin, he lifted his shirt and examined his distended belly. The girls had been teasing him about how fat he had gotten over the past few months. Dawn had been the only one who didn't make fun of him. She had said that he looked good with a little extra weight, like a man instead of a boy.
He felt under the lump in his belly and noticed that an opening had formed. [Phew!] he thought to himself. I'm glad it's got a way to get out, because I sure didn't want to try this the natural way.
That's when the urge to push came upon him. It wasn't agonizing pain, just a contraction of some muscles in his abdomen pushing his little lump downward. Gently, he pushed with his hands also. He had an instinctive knowledge of what he needed to do. The lump had shifted down about 6 inches when the pushing urge stopped. Then he noticed that he was covered with a fine sheen of sweat.
He lowered his shirt and left the bathroom stall to wash his face. He began to feel the pushing urge again and made his way back into the bathroom stall. He really didn't want this being interrupted by a trucker needing to take a whiz.
He closed the stall, lifted the shirt and began the pushing again. This bout of pushing resulted in the lump pressing against the small opening that was below his beltline. He pressed his fingers into the opening and felt something leathery.
With a gasp, another pushing urge hit suddenly and with one hand above the lump, and one hand below to catch it, the lump made it's way out of the opening. He couldn't say that there was any real pain involved, just a sense of pushing and tightness and finally release.
Xander held the thing and puzzled as to what it was. Firstly, it was alive. It moved. Secondly, it was like a misshapen, half-deflated football. It was a little bigger than a football, and it was a fleshy color between tan and pink. Then the pieces began to fall into place. It was an egg. His egg. Many years before, when he was on the swim team, the coach had exposed him to something in the steam of the steamroom. Other members of the swimteam had changed into Creatures from the Black Lagoon. He had been taken to the hospital and given transfusions to 'clean' the stuff out of him.
[Yeah, like cleaning dye out of a white shirt.] he thought bitterly. Since the swim team were able to fight and live on land, they had to be reptiles, amphibians, or water mammals. So that's what he had become, at least a little. Although he didn't go through the complete transformation like Dodd and Cameron, it had changed him. And now he had laid an egg. [The girls are going to love this one!] he thought.
Then he began to consider the girls' probable reactions. Ridicule, teasing, they might even try to kill his baby.
He took off his outer flannel shirt and wrapped the egg. Then, making sure that he was decent, he stepped out of the stall to the bathroom sink. He took a few towels and wet them, placing them around the egg to keep it moist. As he was finishing, the bathroom door opened and a trucker walked in. Xander just picked up his little bundle of flannel and walked out the bathroom.
He walked into the restaurant and up to the lady at the cash register, "Where is the nearest decent motel around here?" he asked. She considered him for a moment and said, "There's a Super 8 bout a half mile up this road." "Thanks." he said as he turned and walked over to Faith.
Faith was eating a giant greasy lunch when Xander interrupted her. "Faith, can I talk to you for a minute, in private?"
"Sure, what's up, Xan?" Faith responded, getting up from her booth.
Xander lead her outside and around the corner of the restaurant. "Faith, you're the only one I trust not to go all ballistic about this, and I need someone to keep the Queen B from coming after me."
Faith began to look worried and asked, "What's the problem Xan, you know I've got your back."
"This." Xander said, opening the flannel bundle to reveal a leathery beige mass.
"Okay... " Faith said questioningly, "What is it?"
"It's an egg. My egg. I just, I dunno, delivered it, in the bathroom." Xander said, with a flushed face.
Faith was stunned into silence, then she put her hand on his belly to see that it was flattened back to the way it was a year ago.
"How? Who?" Faith asked in stunned disbelief.
"Long story Faith, and we don't have time. I don't know what Buffy will do if she finds out, but I can't imagine it being anything good. This is going to be my child, whatever species it turns out to be, and it will be raised knowing that it is loved and wanted." Xander said with conviction.
"In the years that I've fought along side Buffy and the others, I've felt many things, but loved and wanted wasn't among them." He said quietly.
"Why wouldn't B like your baby?" Faith asked, truly confused.
"I don't know if it's going to look human. I think the reason that I was able to have a child was because I was changed many years ago. I think I'm like an amphibian or something. So my child might have gills or a tail. Then there is the matter of the other parent... " Xander trailed off.
"Spike, huh?" Faith asked knowingly.
"You knew? Here I thought we hid it pretty well." Xander said with surprise.
"Well, I just noticed that you two were getting chummy about 7 or 8 months back, I didn't know you were 'doing it', I just figured that you were becoming friends.
"We had a few nights together, then we decided that we were better as friends. Then Spike fell for Buffy again. Which was okay with me, he was a friend and in the end I just wanted him to be happy." Xander said sadly, thinking of the sacrifice that Spike had made for all of them.
"I didn't think vampires could, you know, father children." Faith said nervously.
"I didn't think so either, but I guess the combination of him and whatever I have become can. Because here is our child, and it IS his. It couldn't be anyone else's." Xander said with finality.
"So what are you going to do now?" Faith asked quietly, also thinking about Spike's sacrifice.
"Right now, I'm going to get a motel room, then I'm going to sit down and figure out what to do next. All I know for sure is that I have to get away from Buffy, every instinct that I have tells me to take my baby and get as far away from her as I can." Xander replied with a little fear showing in his voice.
"Get on the bus, I'll drive you where you need to go and be back before the girls are finished eating. C'mon." Faith said quickly.
On the bus, a few minutes later, Faith asked, "Why'd you come to me? I thought Willow was your best bud."
"Willow would have tried to talk me into going with you. And if I said 'no' she would have gone to Buffy. I trust you Faith, I trust you to do what needs to be done, even when you don't like it." Xander said with assurance.
"Yeah." Was all that Faith could think to say.
"Here it is, the Super 8. Pull in here and I'll get my stuff." Xander said hurriedly.
Faith parked the bus in the truck parking area. Xander was pulling his things out of the back of the bus with one hand, protecting his egg gently in the other.
"I can hold your... egg... while you get your things." Faith said cautiously.
Xander thought about it for a second before handing his precious bundle to Faith.
She held the flannel bundle reverently and watched while Xander extracted three suitcases from the pile of luggage.
He got his things off the bus, then stepped back onto the bus and took his precious bundle back.
"I guess this is goodbye." Faith said with tears of emotion creeping into her voice.
"Yeah, but I'm trying to think of it as a new beginning." He said with equal emotion.
"What do you want me to tell the girls?" She asked, thinking about the probable reactions of leaving without Xander.
"Tell them that I hitched a ride with an old friend I ran into at the truck stop, and that I'll try to meet up with them in Cleveland. That should throw them off my trail." He said sadly.
She gave him a hug, careful not to squish his bundle.
"I remember your email address. I'll let you know when I've decided what I'm going to do. You'd better go now. The girls will be finished soon." Xander said as he left the bus.
Faith got back into the driver's seat and started the bus. Xander watched as she pulled away from the motel. Then he turned and went to the lobbya of the motel to check in.