Warnings/Squicks: M/M relations (way later) and human boys (for now)
Rating: NC-17 (or MA 15+ or R?) There is violence and sex and vampires, and boys.
Summary: Saving both of them had a bizarre set of implications – not least of which was the chance to start again.
Disclaimer: Characters are the concept of the wonderful Joss and Co. Don’t make money from the writing etc etc.
Alexander only had a bottle in the evening these days, strangely proud to be congratulated as the ‘big boy’, and now even an older brother to the family’s newest addition - Poppie, but his adult memories of Africa kept returning as his blonde brother by circumstance continued to have health ‘concerns’.
Three nights in a row Billie had been crying and unable to sleep with stomach pains and vomiting… again. As soon as the two had begun eating solids the trouble had started. William had constant, terrible nappy rash and tried not to cry when a new nappy was gently eased back on. Luckily living where they were he sometimes got away with delightedly toddling around in the garden and playing nappy free… (though there was that one incident with the ant bite on his tiny willy!)
But lately it had become more than that. It seemed that the nights of pain (for worried parents and Spike) were becoming more frequent. An exuberant Xander was often left in the care of his big sister while his mother took William to the children’s ward at the hospital yet again.
Blanche was generally OK but it was not always a pleasant experience and she tended to smack him on the leg then ‘tell’, for dragging one of her favourite dolls through the mud… But even the adult Xander was confused, it was only a *little* bit of mud, and the doll washed… where was the harm?!
His Charlotte and Trent had both been to hospital with Billie this time, Charlotte needing to nurse the new little one and Trent too distraught to drive, they had called an ambulance. This time it was serious and Xander had cried, he remembered seeing the vampire doing as similar thing when the chip fired badly and knew there must be so much pain. Little Spike had a virus that caused a fever high enough to result in a full convulsive fit, after which he had passed out completely. All the healers in the coven had come at a sprint but hospital was really the only option – if only to confirm the reason.
Really, little could be done for the fit or his other ailments – which also accounted for the susceptibility to every cold or flu that came along until the results of yet more tests came through. So Xander cried again and was pulled up into the arms of his wonderful adoptive father as he returned from the shops with Blanche and one of the wiccan acolytes, his toddler and adult mind shocked by the scene of a tiny blonde boy lying listlessly in his extremely worried mother’s arms, being encouraged to ingest a rather nasty herbal remedy. The little boy whimpered but finally took the mixture then tried to suck at a bottle of warm camomile tea to wash away the horrid taste.
African memories of sick children mixed with an injured, self sacrificing Sunnydale vampire and the desperate illness of his own all returned as he observed his brother by default coughing back some of the fluid then crying quietly as his mother rocked him.
Trent took him from the room as the little brunette continued to cry, and distracted him by sitting him in his lap to watch Thomas the Tank Engine, episode… who cared… *yet again*. Adult Xander didn’t miss the cup of tea delivered, or the worried conversation and words of encouragement from the other wiccans. Xander rolled over and cuddled the broad chest as best he could manage just as ‘George’ tried to outrun the trusty Thomas and the fat controller had to step in. He loved that part, but his dad was sad because his brother was sick and, well, a cuddle was really all he could do.
Less than a day later the coven knew, William was wheat and lactose intolerant, and needed to be monitored carefully for the emergence of other allergies as he grew, they still could not pinpoint the reason for his extreme sensitivity to light, though Willow suspected as his vampire memories saw him reflexively cry in fear if exposed to sunlight unprotected. His preference for a liquid diet – and eating red things – she also had her suspicions about.
In contrast, just on twenty two months, the only health issues Xander had had were a few falls and new teeth arriving - requiring cuddles and bandaids for the former and anaesthetic gel and paracetamol for the latter… always particularly grateful when large strong arms lifted him and a deep voice comforted. Inevitably then there was rubbing and rocking until he felt better and able to join his brother again.
Spike did wonder if his illness was part of payback for his vampire days… and though the memories were tending to fade, they still haunted his dreams sometimes. But his biggest bother as Spike’s older memories wafted in and out was his terrible trouble with toilet training. He simply could not seem to predict his needs enough in advance… and gave in to tears more than once at the humiliation of having to stay in a full nappy rather than the ‘pull-up’ training pants of Xander’s.
The doctor had explained to his parents that it would ‘even out’ once his diet was sorted out and he was well again. The aware adult Spike understood on some level but he really couldn’t help but cry when, yet again, his bowels seemed to release of their own accord, or yet another stream of warmth was added to the now hefty wad of damp padding between his legs. It all seemed to ‘come out’ of its own accord, often meaning sitting in his own ‘doings’ until someone realized his efforts to tug at the top of his tiny pants, or cry whilst trying to say ‘Poos’ to a nearby big person.
Billie/Spike’s only compensation in all the illness and toddler trials, was that he was still allowed the breast on demand – and seemed like it would be almost all he could eat until things settled. He did know, however, not to plant his sharp new teeth into the source of lovingly given liquid. The warmth and the semi prone position was a joyful one, and he always tried to stroke the soft skin and cuddle… But sometimes she tricked him when he fed, and he would wake up a bit confused next to the *huge* dark brown teddy bear in his bed, having lost several hours of his day! The nice part was that sometimes it was his brother-by-adoption not teddy and the cuddles were real.
It took several months to truly work out a diet that worked, but as Billie improved he played more and truly began to love the existence - even if running often involved a nasty tumble, or things that he would have liked to play with were put just that much too high.
Their second name day was celebrated in fine style with gluten free everything – finger food for small people – lovely platter of fresh fruit – with an emphasis on strawberries and all things red! Little vegetable pies made with gluten free flour, rice crackers, and tiny dry roast potatoes that were all mushy inside and presented on a plate in the form of a pyramid.
The cake was in the shape of a large Thomas the Tank Engine – but Billie knew that he was not to eat the icing, and his inner Spike was actually quite relieved – ingesting that much blue sugar stuff could not be good for *anyone*, but Xander was in his element!
The party was a big afternoon for the two as all the coven children and several local friends were invited. Billie did do the best at blowing out the candles, though rather disgraced himself late in the proceedings when Blanche would not let him have the ‘dangerous’ toy car left lying on the ground by one of the older children, putting it just out of reach. The inner Spike was incensed! He just wanted to look and *really* could not understand why it was so upsetting, but gave in to his frustration and two year old sensibilities, and threw ‘a wobbly’.
He screamed and tried to get his message across by throwing himself to the floor and kicking as hard as he could as he yelled – and that felt *good* for a while, until he realized that no adult was taking a scrap of notice, so resorted to out and out howling, at which point Trent firmly but kindly, picked him up off the floor and put him to bed. There was no mother, so no ‘booby’, but the firm arms around him and stern but kind words were strangely calming, and he had slept through the departure of all the other guests.
At two and a bit Alexander could throw a ball and was able to connect a bat to ball if thrown slowly enough. Old memories were amused and thrilled when a hard hat and toy toolset were presented to him by a friend of Trent’s, and everything… but *everything* went ‘Brrummmm’.
His best days were when he was allowed to collect the chicken eggs from the coop and follow one or other wiccan around pulling an ancient old ‘trailer’. They gave him the important task of taking the full trolley of herbs or vegetables – or both - back to the house, and the highlight was *always* if Willow was there – she was at the coven less and less of late.
Alexander was always the most enthusiastic in the bath, and would remain in the toy infested waters splashing and blowing bubbles long after William had begged to depart in favour of the fluffy towel. There were many comments of admiration from his carers alluding to his future in water sports of any description – even synchronized swimming or deep sea diving were mentioned after discovered the delightful pastime of plunging to the bottom of the bath and holding his breath for what seemed an age.
The adult Xander remembered his love of water, and ability to swim so clearly that it really came very naturally, and his most fun was in summer when Trent took the boys (and a few taggers on) to a nearby town with ‘children friendly swimming centre’. One of the other male wiccans was a wonderful swimmer and took Alexander on his back as he did breaststroke up and down the pool then dived like a dolphin and came up again causing the adult Xander inside to join with his little self in whoops of delight; the feeling of being thrown from one strong pair of arms to land in the water to be caught safely in the hands of another, equally thrilling. His only frustration that despite how hard he tried the best he could do was kick enthusiastically, or manage a very inefficient dogpaddle.
Alexander might have outgrown William by height and weight, and had physical skills very different to William’s own, (and was most definitely the male coven members favourite), but the pint sized blonde had it all when it came to getting what he wanted from any wiccan at the coven (or human visitor it seemed).
He was an expert at hugging, and sought the altitude and warm arms by putting arms up and levelling begging baby blue eyes at his hapless helpers. They were then rewarded with a blonde head on a friendly shoulder, little arms and legs holding on tight at any opportunity. And, if tired, the sweet boy would simply relax, quite happy to be adjusted a little and stay on a hip as the adults went about their business.
William picked up language at an extraordinary rate, had a remarkable memory and quirky habit of naming people that was entirely charming… “Sexy Anna” – Charlotte’s best friend at the coven; “Nanna Ella” who was a lovely buxom woman at the small grocer’s in the village; “Will-like-me” after High Mistress Willow compared their names; and “Big Paula” for one of the wiccans who regularly minded the boys when their parents were busy (why she was noted as ‘big’ exactly no one was quite sure of – she was really quite petite!). By two and a half he also used the phrase “Ah Pet!” when exasperated with someone, which was really was quite amusing and made Willow wonder again just how much of her old friends were really just ‘playing them’ inside their now pint sized beings.
The odd part was that above all the boys seemed a perfect complement to each other and that they were easing more and more into their old personalities – albeit human and pint sized versions. One thing was abundantly clear, they were both budding wiccans with noble traits carried over from their previous life.
At just approaching three, Little William was heard to growl when a young boy from an adjoining farm tried to take his tiny sister Poppie’s favourite toy rabbit when they were at the shops. Twice ‘her Billie’s’ height, Charlotte watched in amazement as the pint sized blonde (only just now weaned for good) followed the growl with a “No!” then grabbed back the toy and stared down the other boy.
Alexander was similarly inclined – even defending Blanche on two occasions, or more truthfully standing at her back in solidarity then going to get an adult when things led to tears (girl fights were *so* confusing!)
And as for the two together – well, *no one* touched one without the other intervening in defence.
Two days after their third birthday, Willow’s cross referencing of the prophesy (assisted by Giles and three learned ex Watchers) finally came off. An extraordinary meeting of the whole coven was called immediately – strangely involving the two children whose future was the only topic on the agenda.