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....
Two months on saw a very different household to the one of Willow’s early pregnancy.
Clem was on holidays ‘down South’. His new squeeze was apparently a die hard fan of Dolly Parton (Spike did point out a certain physical attribute that might explain why – and it *wasn’t* Noreen’s voice!). They were to be away for at least six weeks and choosing what even Xander agreed was the ‘tacky tour’ of the South! It mattered not a jot, and Clem had looked entirely embarrassed when he opened the ‘Have a great time’ card to find a thousand dollars in cash from the grateful family upstairs.
After all Clem had done for them, the money was a drop in the ocean as far as Xander was concerned. And Clem would never know that to do it Xander had taken a second job as a ‘chippy’ on a building site just to make ends meet. His teaching load for the semester was four afternoons and a Saturday morning so the building site was ideal. He left his snoozing vampire after a few hour’s sleep, checked on his girls then drove to the site around five thirty in the morning, was finished by around two, popped in to check on the family and shower, then headed to the community college, his navy college logo ‘polo’ and smart grey pants in place, and college issue, work-safety apron and goggles at the ready.
It should have been easy, but with the soon to be mother of his boys and his dear vampire still needing support of an evening when he arrived home around eight, he said nothing, just enjoyed the nights the little ones were still up, Willow following Nurse (now Nanny!) Susan’s suggestion, and bedding the girls for an extra sleep late afternoon just so Daddy could have his time with the now toddling youngsters.
He was the perfect Dad. Regardless of his own needs, he would *always* try to give time to his lovely girls. He would drop his bag at the door and grace the floor wherever they were playing. The three little girls were all starting to walk, toddling around pulling at things, sitting hard and crying if their fall was forward. More often than not Spike was somewhere nearby which suited Xander fine. Willow was (these days) usually in her recliner chair or wheelchair, her back and legs simply unable to cope with a full day of activity in these latter stages of her pregnancy.
Dinner had become rather the ‘event’. Spike was now walking with “Just a little assistance… bloody hell! Every gent back in the day had a cane!” And a very pregnant Willow, increasingly incapacitated despite her therapy (dangerously high blood pressure and blood sugar pointing to things no one wanted to face) was in her own powered wheelchair though told everyone that the waiting walker would be mastered as soon as the boys came, all being well.
Until their ‘pre honeymoon… honeymoon’, Clem and Noreen had usually joined them, but now the swinging hatch door to the basement was closed other than when his two sisters or Nurse Susan chose to be included (which was… at least a couple of times a week, truth be told.)
Coming in ‘after class’ Xander always did the same ritual with Willow, he would play with the girls for a time then simply sit with her, lift and kiss the back of each of her hands and ask her about her day, then wait patiently as a slow answer came in her trademark monotone.
Regardless of words she would give him her best smile and inevitably pull his hand to her belly, trying to convey her pride and happiness to be carrying their children. She loved the look on his face if one or two of the boys moved with the contact, and was always grateful for the now habitual squeeze to her hand, words of love and comfort, and chaste kiss to her forehead before he attended his other charge.
The worst nights were when the girls had already gone to bed, but in a sense were also the best as ‘Dad’ would kiss his three sleeping beauties then join his lover and his friend in the lounge room. Usually the three adults would simply sit together and watch something on television, but on occasion, Spike would offer to read, or quiet music and reflection was the choice.
Whichever happened, Xander, more often than not, with reheated dinner half eaten and light beer now empty, was found asleep on the couch within the hour.
Spike was able to push Willow’s chair to her room, and with both their efforts, could lever her into bed and tuck her in, but lifting Xander and carrying him to their joint resting place was not an option.
So the pattern went, Spike would ‘put Willow away’, then return to remove any detritus evident from the meal and prod his lover gently until he roused. If nothing happened, he would ease himself onto the lounge and snuggle (if he could) next to his dear one pulling one or two throw rugs over them. Even though by nature a nocturnal creature, Spike’s healing body was still more than able to snooze the night away in his lover’s embrace, but he instinctively knew, his lover needed more.
Spike was on the improve, still not back to even human abilities… but mentally all there… and demon wise also. And it was his demon who felt it first.
With her condition, Spike had refused Willow’s milk but as Xander and his relationship ‘consolidated’ they exchanged more and more blood. In a week that saw the out of date human blood *all* rancid, and choosing to stay hungry, Spike had *really* tasted it. Things were definitely wrong. In his semi slumber state Xander gave and received blood in an exchange that was something he now craved, but in that same process admitting the truth, grief, longing, guilt, exhaustion, fear.
That was two nights ago so now, after dinner the pattern changed a little. Nurse Susan bathed both Willow and her girls (and yes it was a bit crowded and certainly busy) and Spike sought out his rescuer and cornered an exhausted Xander on their shared bed.
Spike was tired too lately, his recovering body tested as he took on the mantel of favoured uncle whenever he was able around the girls, but what he observed in his dear lover, wasn’t just fatigue. Their lovemaking of late has petered almost to nothing, not because of lack of adoration, but simply Xander’s exhaustion. The waning libido was less worrying than the grey, drawn look of the brunette’s face as he returned from yet another shift, or tried desperately to stay awake for evening adult time.
The sight from their bedroom door was a human face down sprawled across the covers in his faded, very worn ‘Calvin Klein boy-legs'. He was apparently asleep, but when Spike approached touched his arm and face and there was no movement his partner was bordering on frantic.
Still not strong enough to carry his lover on foot, he opted for the chair, eased his partner from the bed in a rather awkward move that included the chair brake, a hand hold on the bed head and a rather too sudden tug of a body into a rarely inanimate lap, Spike could hear it. The breathing was too laboured, the heartbeat too fast and the skin too lax.
Spike manoeuvred his chair to the phone in the lounge and called a now off duty Nurse Susan for help. She had seen it coming with the too hardworking head of the household, but was still touched by Spike’s switch of ‘caree’ to carer. She listened to the described symptoms and knew the seriousness of the call, so rang the family doctor before returning to the home.
Spike fed his lover a little vampire blood, easing it down the unconscious throat with some astute massaging.
An ambulance was called shortly after the doctor’s visit, and a three day stint in hospital saw Willow and Spike beside themselves with worry (not least of which was due to not being able to visit due to their physical state), but also rallying and calling in some very overdue favours.
Spike *dragged* Willow into the adult conversation with the threat of their protector’s demise, demanded that she drink of him, then used the ensuing lucidity to “bloody well sort things”!
Spike and Xander had filled out all the paperwork for the Aurelian funds as soon as Spike was able to speak clearly and sign for it. But Xander had worried that the funds were finite, that they would be better used for Spike’s future and the children’s than dipped into for their time now. As a consequence, Xander like Clem before him, had only ever sold a few baubles of Spike’s (*with permission*) to raise the bond for their apartment and to ‘tide them over’ for a few months when things were difficult and multiple helpers needed paying.
With his own ongoing therapy and recovery, Spike had let it go, now kicking himself that he could have done more… would do more.
Willow had been crying on and off for almost a whole day, terrified that their protector was going to die. The girls had been in Nurse Susan’s constant care, and she seemed almost in complete meltdown when Spike’s frustration caused him to bare his fangs and growl in a tone and loud enough that the apartment was instantly silent, before the girls began to cry hysterically and Nanny Susan swiftly slammed the bedroom door.
The roar had the required affect, and despite her babies’ crying, Willow seemed to be fully lucid for a change.
Spike told her of his intention to pull half the Aurelian funds and begin to invest it in Xander’s name and on behalf of the children to try to alleviate some of the pressure on their dear head of household. At some point during the speech, Willow began shaking her head profusely and banging her hand on the arm of her wheelchair to get his attention. Eventually it worked, Spike waited and a laboured voice began, “In…vest… *mine*… too!”
Spike stared at her as though she really had grown another head all of a sudden.
“What ‘mine’?? Bloody Wolf, Ram and Hart will have annexed the Rosenberg ‘fortune’ for sure! What, you think they would have just let you stay in their little facility without covering all bases??”
The frustrated vampire was about to turn away but Willow banged her chair again, so he gave her time. “O’…ma… Kitz..inger… Trussst… Me… just need… Only… claim it… over… twenty one…”
“Run that by me again? Your gran set up a fund for you?”
Willow nodded then let a tear fall, and looked at the ceiling.
She couldn’t remember the number… she knew she should, she’d been taught from six years of age… she should know… it *must* come… sometime… it *would* come. The needed paperwork would be at the bank but anything Sunnydale bound, destroyed… but that wouldn’t matter, and for the first time Willow knew something Wolfram and Hart could not, and turned to Spike in amazement… Some of her past might just be safe.
Oma Kitzinger was no ordinary grandmother, and her assets, dating back seven generations across Russia, Finland, Germany and finally Switzerland were an astutely invested sum for the ‘first daughter of the first daughter’ of the… (and pretty much anyone got the message from there ;-)
The result was Willow’s remembering the name of the bank, Banca Raiffeisen – Geneva, Switzerland, slowly related the information, and had Spike almost falling off his chair. “Bloody hell Pet, you’re old grandma didn’t mess about! So let’s us get this on a roll… Kitzinger… and Willow? And what set up at birth say 1979?”
Willow nodded profusely then arched out of her chair a little with a sharp pain near her ribs as a small person inside pressed a tiny elbow against something inside. Spike heard the heart rate increase again and worried that the current discussion was too much, then registered the slight sigh of relief as the little one shifted again and the pressure was, literally, off.
He turned back to the damaged white witch and continued to wait patiently.
“O’ma… false sur…name… didn’t… like… my dad!” Willow snorted and gave a begging look as though to ask for reassurance. She got none as Spike’s face looked hopeful then went suddenly game face.
“Got their fingers in a lot ‘a pies Wolfram and bloody Hart… what’s to say they didn’t grab that too… or know it’s you if you try to touch it!?”
Willow was openly crying now, “Had… to… [hic] believe… but don’t [hic] know… just don’t [hic] know! [hic] but I wanted… Ohhh….”
She threw herself back in her chair, one hand over her eyes and the other on her stomach and let grief take over… grief for her grandmother who had died when she was twelve years old; grief for her parents and their joint demise in a light plane accident during (of all things) a joy flight to celebrate their thirtieth anniversary – she was in Brazil at the time; and her grief for now her own limitations and the worry for the family.
Willow’s words might now be slower, slurred and through sobbed efforts but were still unmistakeable in their content, “Send me back… wait for [hic] these boys but then it’s OK… me… wrong now but… They’re Xan’s! The girls…” There were no more words, just gesticulations and heaving sobs, before Spike heard her heart rate rise impossibly with a corresponding response from the two children she carried.
Spike’s demeanour instantly shifted as he realized her very real distress.
Spike remembered this fear. He’d done it for so long… and knew his own feeling of helplessness when a fragile loved one needed comfort but he needed them to just keep going - Mother, Dru, Dawn, Fred, even Angel… and the number of nights he had… he tried to blot it all out.
Without thought Spike found himself on his knees in front of her chair, her hands pulled to his chest with his left, and his right wrist open and against her lips *begging* her to drink, whispering, “C’mon Pet… drink a little then just… let it out… breathe it out… give it all to me… I need ya Willow…” and kept going with a series of random words of endearment he could come up with much like he would have done with Dru, and silently thanked any sappy poet or song writer he had quoted, as he heard Willow’s heart rate steady and the babies stabilize.
Spike saw the eyes open and pressed the advantage… “No one here’s lettin’ you go back, for any reason, so get that outa your pretty noggin once and for all!...” He held her for a bit longer then started again, “That’s it Sweet thing… there’s the calm, now what do we do about Xan? C’mon Pet... stay with me… The father of you bubbies is needin’ our help… let’s us do this… You want him around for a while yet yeah? Way he’s goin’ he’ll kill ‘imself with work and the alternative… Well, sure as hell I don’t fancy turnin’ the bugger whilst you can’t plonk that soul right back in!!”
Willow looked pained at the last statement but seemed to rally, took a hitched breath, and said quietly, “Keep… writing.”
She continued slowly, Spike taking dictation then as she finished and relaxed back into her chair, he picked up the phone for an exchange Willow simply could not believe.
William, the accountant/solicitor had not left when the demon moved in, and a hundred plus years of living in Europe had certain other advantages as Spike found himself in conversation with his own bank regards setting up a fund then to another on behalf of Willow, and thanked the powers or whoever that his strength might still be coming, but his speech was as good as ever. With perfect French, decent Italian and enough German to get himself into trouble (but perhaps not out of it), he spoke to a variety of managers at Banca Raiffeisen in Geneva, to their head office and their legal department on behalf of his ‘client’.
With none of her Grandmother’s documents available courtesy of the Sunnydale end, and not wanting to push Willow’s identity back onto the Wolfram and Hart dial with an information search, Spike was worried their efforts were about to fail, without the account number and password there was no way there was able to be any access to the trust.
Spike was so involved in the conversation that he almost missed Willow banging the chair arm again. He asked the man to hold while the witch closed her eyes, focused every bit of her energy on remembering then as he took a punt and pushed the handset of the phone to the correct position against her ear and mouth, she recited, “55470-9741… LILYK1979”.
Spike was frantically writing as Willow spoke. She smiled as she finished. A genuine, half embarrassed Sunnydale Willow smile – as though she had just finished her schoolgirl babble. Spike jumped back on the phone and in his most conciliatory of tones said in the French the current bank consultant had addressed him in “I am happy to read the numbers again in French if you wish… my friend is not fluent.”
The answer was surprisingly from a supervisor who addressed Spike in heavily accented rather patronizing English, “I… this is…. Your client is American so though she has an account with us we will need her to scribe…”
Spike was stressed enough and struggled to be polite, greeted the new voice with a formal “Guten Morgen Herr Meier” then switched back to formal English, “It would therefore be most helpful if you forward me a Fax of the needed documents attached… I will happily have my client sign them in her current hand – limited as it may be. Though I am sure the details will adequately assure you that this is a genuine claim from a woman who is now in great need of the funds.”
There was a meaningful pause, “Fielen Dank… Herr Aurelius… aber… Wir sind seinen…”
Spike filled in the rest, this time in the manager’s preferred tongue of German. In the end they were chatting in friendly tones and the task was made simple. Willow’s slowness of signature was of little concern – the accuracy was, her credentials were confirmed, and a grandmother’s legacy signed over – or rather transferred to a more accessible account allowing investment and high interest opportunities.
On the same evening a still pale Xander was released from hospital into his family’s care, to be coddled and loved, close to seventeen million dollars in total (seven from the Aurelians and *ten* from Willow’s trust) entered a fund that would see the “Lavelle-Kitzinger and Co”, investment account established. It was owned by a small family interest based in Luxemburg (a piece of history that saw ‘William Aurelius’ somehow still owning property in said nation state).
The favours called in by Spike were more to do with decent demon brokers who shifted the funds: a third equity, a third property, a third shares… Dubai or Delhi or Dublin, it really didn’t matter the brief was to invest in things that would continue to grow for a *very* long time. Not immune to European law there would be some taxes of course, but Spike was careful in his dealings, very, very careful… with his meticulous eye there was no track back for Wolfram and Hart unless one of the signatories did something very silly. The end result was Willow feeling that she was finally contributing, Spike rather proud of himself, and pleased with the end result, and an alternate income that should find Xander even work free should he wish it.
After Xander was welcomed with relieved enthusiasm and tucked into bed, Spike eased his still limited, very pregnant, friend from chair to her bed after dripping blood into the water bottle that was ever present these days. She held onto his hand like a lifeline as she lay back, thanking him again and again.
As he turned out the lights he found his own head spinning and his legs finally gave out.
He slowly crawled back to Willow’s chair hauled himself up and pushed the controls so similar to the ones he had needed in the months before. Easing himself from chair to bed, he belatedly realized that he had slept only a little and eaten nothing for the whole time Xander was in hospital. A fully fit Master vampire might survive that easily… it emphasised his ‘condition’ yet again.
He snuggled close to his still slightly sedated and sleeping lover, relieved to note the strong heart beat and clearing breathing. He made a mental note to apologise to Willow for stealing her chair and fell asleep.