Title: Then there were Three
Pairing: Xander/Spike (don’t be fooled by the Willow beginning)
Rating: Mature Audiences – for content and themes
Summary: Wolfram and Hart may have won the day, but the battle is just about to begin...
Spoilers: Canon is Post S7 BtVS and S5 AtS.
Warnings: M/M – if you don't like boys together, don't play here!
Harsh circumstances and difficult start....
Her body was no longer her own.
Suspended in comfortable buoyant gel, constantly fed a cocktail of nutrients and drugs via catheter, with oxygen supplemented as needed and waste removed automatically, she was aware enough at times to see that her body was growing – rapidly. With no weight bearing and her ‘growth tank’ closed, she was aware enough to know that there was ‘piped music’ constantly, meant to stimulate both mother and babies. She would sometimes open her eyes and look sadly through her the glass wall at the other incumbents of the ‘propagation room’. There were at least twenty others, all breeding age, each in their own cubicle, Kennedy included.
It was the morning – she was only aware of time of day because it was the second check, and the roof was open. Sunlight was apparently necessary for health… though in her current state of inanimate suspension and auto-feeding, she struggled with that as a concept. Still, it was nice to see the blue and feel a little warmth on her face. The rest of her was kept at exactly perfect body temperature. Fluctuations just as they would have been were she animate apparently.
The white witch’s stomach was now bulging and she felt the movement of the two part human children inside her once again, as she did almost constantly of late. She felt strangely connected, given that they were yet another pair she had produced that were not ‘of her’, but in a strange way they were. Her body fed them, nurtured them and… it was all she had these days.
She slowly pushed her right arm through the impossibly thick red gel that suspended, sustained and restricted her, until her hand rested on the tight drum that was her belly. It was an enormous effort and took almost twenty minutes to achieve, so once in place she felt the changing shapes pressing against the lining of her skin and let her mind drift again.
It was her third pregnancy, and she was only twenty four. After her last delivery, they had delayed her ‘happy drugs’ a little too long and she had heard one of the ‘research’ doctors cheerily telling a colleague that the human 'volunteer subjects, and permanent employees' in their care were expected to continue to produce until in their fifties given their “marvellous new facility and the new drug combo.”
They were the ultimate Wolfram and Hart experiment.
Willow and Kennedy had, like the other surrogates, simply answered an employment advertisement pointed to by someone on her regular chat. It was for a “new exciting area of growth in the Wolfram and Hart research sector” and would entail “ground breaking work with a variety of clients at our state of the art research facility just outside Notre Dame University”. Successful applicants would be required to do a medical, as well as provide evidence of their academic record, any prior experience and… their knowledge of the magical arts. If successful, the employment package included medical and dental cover, and the provision of free accommodation on site.
It seemed ideal for Willow and Kennedy who had drifted back to the USA after a stint in Brazil and were rather at a loose end. Plus they both needed the money! Even when working at the Council or the coven, they had both needed to supplement their income – this seemed the perfect match.
Willow applied on line for them both, and despite Kennedy’s worry that her credentials might not cut it, two days later an Email arrived to say they were both invited to a “preliminary round of interviews and tour of the facility” and given an option of three dates in the coming fortnight to choose from. It would be a big step but even if only one of them was successful, it seemed like an opportunity to make some money and settle somewhere for a time.
The young woman in HR at Wolfram and Hart was wonderfully helpful over the phone, even recommending a hotel and arranging a private car to pick them up on the day of their interview.
Invited into a small waiting room with two other women, they had been asked to fill out a set of forms as they waited for their appointment. Willow felt the prickle as they walked into the cosy space and knew it was warded but was not worried – the fact that the company was employing individuals with magical abilities made that almost a given.
They had barely sat down and begun to fill out the first line of their personal details when Kennedy complained of feeling a little ‘off colour’. Seconds later Willow had just enough time to look over at her girlfriend and register the pins and needles in her own limbs before her own world went black.
Now, in her ‘abode’, the liquid around her was designed to siphon off her magical energy, and however long her pregnancies lasted, she was aware that two specialized breast pumps were permanently attached, harvesting her milk. The soft rubber suction devices pulsed for a few minutes every three or so hours just after something in her drug cocktail shifted, she consequently had some lucid moments and time to think, before registering feeling painfully ‘full’ and responding to the 'stimulus'.
Just as reliably as Pavlov's dog salivated, the sound of a human newborn from the small speaker in her tank was enough to make her milk drop, then the suction would begin. In an odd sort of a way it felt… nice… relief certainly… but just feeling something for those few minutes was… nice.
The children within her grew at an incredible rate emphasizing their non human status.
She had delivered her first set of twins into the hands of a researcher in the small birthing pool without really feeling the event at all. The birth was pre-planned and induced, and other than the first stab of pain, was masked by a decent dose of pethidine, followed by her limp pregnant body being unhooked from all its paraphernalia, removed from her tank and an epidural applied.
In the delivery room they didn’t bother covering her at all as she was lowered into a water bath. She watched in hazy amazement as the tiny green forms with huge eyes and an obvious tails emerged from her after three or so hours of her uterus apparently contracting without her participation. The newborns were handed to two thrilled new demon parents who were standing outside her watery birthing bed in quiet anticipation.
She was lucid enough to hear the doctor say that all was well and trying to get her tongue around asking if she could hold them just once… before the prick of a needle sent her world into oblivion again.
Sometime later she was roused a little found herself in a different laboratory, on a different table, legs strung up and someone with a mask pushing a cold metal object into her still sore… oh then relief… black once more…
She woke in her fluid prison, her drugs kicking in again and milking back on schedule… and within days felt her body responding, the process was being repeated, it was true, she was pregnant for the second time, the only question was really, with who… or what?
Ground breaking work indeed – and certainly involving supplied accommodation, but as her body gave up her milk yet again after the auto response to a baby’s cry, she shed a silent tear. If it went to Wolfram and Hart’s research plan, she was to be a magical human breeding vessel – for the next twenty five plus years!
The third time around, she now wished they planted a full-blooded dragon egg within her, at least then it might tear her apart as it hatched just as it had Kennedy a month ago. There was no noise but her tank had suddenly turned bright red, and a young reptile could be seen clawing the glass before the staff came running. Her friend, her former lover, was now… free… of pain and everything else. Two days later the tank was replaced, and another sedated brunette was floating in her place.
She knew she was only days away from delivering again, but also knew that her next pregnancy was to be fully human, magically inclined – of that there would be no doubt – but she had heard her minders and thanked the goddess for small mercies.
At least it would be a slower gestation… and perhaps she might feel connected somehow.
The latest pregnancy (her third) had been hard as the mixture of nutrients had included the mother demon’s blood, throwing Willow into a state of shock every few days and requiring a custom designed form of electro-therapy. As a consequence she seemed almost euphoric for a few hours after regaining consciousness, but also seemed to have lost large chunks of memory and continued to have various muscles twitch for no apparent reason.
On the upside the young demons inside her grew at an ever accelerated rate and became almost constantly active. Her feeding was tripled, their birthing date pushed forward by a month and the research team recommended a shift in the choice of species for any consequent pregnancies.
So now, as she lay on the ever more familiar laboratory table, her legs pulled up in stirrups and her stomach sagging flat for the moment, she reflected on how far she was from her former life.
Formerly the most powerful witch on the planet, she was now utterly drained of magical energy on a daily basis but for the small amount that was apparently directed for her babies to subsume. Her partner(s) were both dead and her body was not in her control.
As the researcher pressed the broad catheter through her cervix and she felt the usual ‘nothing’ as the embryo’s were implanted, she was actually thankful of be being helplessly impregnated with three *human* embryos for the first time.
She was patted on the arm and told that for first time since being at Wolfram and Hart, they were in fact her own eggs, though fertilised by some unknown male, and due to be ‘farmed out’ to three happy Wolfram and Hart ‘power couples’. She took some solace in the idea that at least they would be looked after… private nannies, exclusive schools, new cars at sixteen, and magical training along with an ivy league education… In her lucid hours over the coming days, she dwelt on what might be the three (apparently girls’) lives and with no chance of her own escape, she at least thanked the goddess for that scenario.
Strangely, as she vaguely felt her legs lowered after a physical examination to confirm the successful two month mark of the babies’ development, she looked forward to being back in her own personal oblivion – drugs, feeding, breast pumps, her tank, and in a month or two she would have the feeling of a relative close by… strictly speaking… inside.
Spike was incapable of seeking anyone out after the Black Thorn – and had *definitely* stayed off the Wolfram and Hart radar – well everyone’s really.
It wasn’t hard, the end was almost a private affair
Faced with ridiculous odds, he saw Charles fall, watched in horror then felt his Grandsire dust and felt the sword of an assailant penetrate his torso just before Illyria took vengeance to its extreme – as only a diminished Old One might. Her form compromised by a dragon talon allowed her true essence to release, the blast annihilating all in the vicinity, but strangely, saving Spike.
He felt her, rather than heard the message as the sword was triumphantly pulled from his chest mere seconds before his assailant immolated. The pain was almost absolution for his sins, but he also heard a whispered “Take mine.” He was still not sure what that had meant as blackness claimed him.
It might have been hours, days or weeks later that he woke underground somewhere but it was certainly *not* in LA.
Clem’s chirpy, “There you are! Geez!!! *That’s* a relief. After the Magical Memo from some ‘entity’ just thought I’d be demon goo under someone’s… ahhh never mind… How ya feelin’?... Well kind of know you’re not… Yet that is… well you will be of course… or not… ummm”
The second sound Spike registered was that of a tiny kitten, and was still trying to get his head around things, but couldn’t seem to work out how to sit up, no matter his intentions. In his head he had limbs – but what happened to the real ones! And why was there a tube down his throat?!
He couldn’t taste blood exactly, but someone had been feeding him… he wasn’t hungry? Perhaps he’d been injured? He wasn’t a ghost… he knew that feeling… Perhaps he’d just been on a bit of a ‘bender’? Or there might have been some sort of weird time shift… to when or where? And if so, why were the walls pink? And why did a bloke he recognized now as Clem keep patting his face!!!!?
The tube was abruptly pulled out and he groaned and tried once more to turn but the rasped groan was the extent of his protest. Clem seemed undeterred.
“C’mon buddy… Someone’s come to visit… You’ve been out for a week! Well more really, but let’s not dwell on that…
“Now I *know for a fact* you’ll brighten up for this… Slayer’s friend… you know… one eye?... C’mon?! Got the word from the magical community to sort of take him under my wing… well folds really ::snorts:: Anyway new Watcher’s council ‘Deputy assistant of recognisance”… some big wig. Thought I recognized him but he kind of just looked at me funny so perhaps not… anyway fellow’s name’s Andrew?? Ring any bells?? He apparently had been keeping tabs on all those new slayers… you know since your lot… phew, anyway…
“I’m ‘off their dial’ since I signed that thing, and of course… seemings that I was friends… well… with the Slayer … anyway… OW!!!” The tiny tabby had obviously penetrated skin deeply enough to really smart.
Holding the little ginger fur ball far enough away from his being to remove the pain, Clem continued… “*Anyway* Xander is here because you need a person who is… Oww!!! Oww!!! Right that’s it – You are officially banned to the basket!”
There was a bit of a scuffle somewhere behind him before Clem patted Spike’s face again. “C’mon… brighten up… company!”
And who could really argue with the rather bizarre image of an upside down goofy red eyed grin. At least not until he saw the significantly slimmer visage of a one eye sometime Scoobie looming over him who’s single greeting word was, “F$#%!!!” followed by the even more expressive “F$#%!!! Spike! But I th… He said and then Andrew… but F$#%!!!”
Spike was sure he would be dusted, and the boy fingering something in his pockets was warning enough, but the vampire’s (if he still counted as one) power to move was zero at the current time.
Instead he opted for a quick prayer to anyone who might listen, “Make it quick Harris.”
He closed his eyes, but instead of oblivion, found himself enveloped in a genuinely loving hug.
His broken body had no way of reciprocating, but realized one incredible fact, he could feel the warmth… it seemed to flow directly into him… he could feel that when nothing had ‘felt’ since the Black Thorn face off.
Clem was all but bouncing with glee. “Knew that Green demon had the minerals! Now apparently all you have to do is find that Willow… and she’ll have you right as rain in no time apparently! And here’s the great news… she’s workin’ for that Wolfram and Hart mob up north! Demon friendly that lot… You might need to ring ahead but they’re real helpful if ever a demon’s in a scrape… not that I’ve ever needed them but Cousin Marty, when that *thing* happened…”
Clem stopped short, looked embarrassed and grinned apologetically, “Yup… TMI… anyways… I reckon if that friend is working at the demon research facility – the one in all the ‘New News’ mags… that is just awesome! They’ve got a whole program going for helping magical couples who can’t have kids sort that out!”
Clem stopped again, realized that Spike was crying silently (again) and Xander looked somewhat puzzled – both by the babble and the severely broken vampire’s response, then said very quietly… “F#$%... do they have a sperm bank as part of that thing?”
Clem nodded enthusiastically.
“And they advertised for… Hellmouth residents at some point?”
Clem nodded again then offered, “Yup and paid me almost a month’s rent for my contribution… Not that I’m boasting of course…” He trailed off and grinned shyly at the rather, now pale looking man.
Xander simply whispered, “It paid my ticket to England… Oh Ghod!!! I might have… That’s kind of… but what if?? We have to talk to her… find out…” He looked down belatedly at his upset companion. “Oh Spike… and I’m sure she will fix you!”
Clem grinned widely “There you go… we’re all winners!” He fished the little black kitten from under the couch, plonked it in the sealed basket gently in with the rather aggressive mate then pushed Xander gently aside.
Spike tried to swallow desperately as a feeding tube was pushed past his gag reflex and Clem tipped an entire litre of slightly warmed, out of date, AB positive blood into a large funnel and held it for a minute or three as it drained into the vampire’s stomach.
“Be nice if that witch can get him back on his feet… Really does my back in holding that funnel some days… Just lucky I’m not paying… Angelus left him the lot apparently, though I’ve just been hocking some of his rings ‘n things…Don’t mind helping out a friend. Figure he’d do the same for me one day.”
This time Xander didn’t miss the desperate tears tracking down the impossibly defined jaw and into the thick dark blonde curls as the tube was summarily removed.
Xander was still reeling from the helplessness of a former Big Bad… or hero, whatever… when Clem dumped the apparatus, slapped a loose skinned arm around his shoulder, and simply said, “Don’t worry too much about the tears. Demon mate of mine reckons they’re part of the healing process… Now let’s get to finding that witch friend of yours… Phone is over here.”