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....
Willow had studied all day, in preparation for *the meeting*. She was never so aware of her own limitation as when trying to get her head around the investment portfolio and read up on the European markets. She had been an A+ student all through High School and college (well except for the missing some months because of going magic crazy), but now found it hard. The numbers and letters seemed to swim in front of her and she had to lean close to the page and run her finger across each line to keep on track.
As Spike entered her quiet room he recognized the sight – or rather the lack of – and handed her a pair of slim, frameless glasses Nurse Susan had smuggled in for him upon request. Despite his night vision and eagle like abilities when in game face, these days his sight, when in human guise was no good for reading, and having to stay in full vampire mode – with its associated hardcore ‘feed fight and f#%’ feelings really didn’t work when one was simply trying to read the newspaper or a decent novel! The glasses were cheap – simple reading glasses from a chemist – but did the task admirably and Xander had made no comment when he ‘caught’ his lover with them on once or twice.
The sight of a bespectacled Spike sitting up in bed, leaning against some pillows happily ensconced in a novel, with a blond rather long un-gelled fringe falling over his forehead… well what was there to say. The first time Xander simply tip toed away, the second time resulted in him clearing his throat from the door, the glasses being whipped off and an hour or so of passionate lovemaking ensuing.
Willow was entirely relieved to find she was at least able to make out the symbols on the page – even if sometimes she seemed to lose the meaning until Spike explained.
Spike sat with her for almost an hour that afternoon carefully pointing out what had been done with their money… proudly showing her the current figures and making sure she knew how her Grandmother’s legacy had been allocated. They weren’t playing with the ‘big guns’ at only seventeen million, but the investment plan was sound and Willow grinned then looked puzzled as Spike pulled open a small box she had assumed to be a pencil case, lifted the lid and Willow’s eyes went wide as she peered inside on invitation, then slapped him hard.
“Oi! Steady on! What you think I never have a plan B…” snapping the lid shut on a not insignificant number of baubles and trinkets from his Gem of Amara days, “ ‘S for the family future… Like Angelus always said, gotta watch the perimeter. Things go pear shaped we’ll still be alright, and if not, the girls ‘ll have a mighty fine selection of jewellery for their dowry.”
Willow snorted and used what power she had left to slap him lightly again. William the Bloody could be such a Victorian at times… Dowry! Next he’d have them all stitching for their glory boxes and wearing white princess line dresses! Second thoughts, Willow didn’t mind the last bit, imagining her pretty girls as early teens with sausage curls, baskets of flowers and silk bows tying up their dresses at the front, wandering around some idyllic English countryside. She had always been a Jane Austin fan.
She belatedly realized that Spike had done it again, had her all dreamy and happy and… “How… do… you do that?”
“Do what Luv?”
“Get me… drea…ming nice things.”
“Just me merry way I figure!” He winked, kissed her hand with overdone flourish and a cheeky grin, before standing up grabbing his cane, only to spin it and throw it over his shoulder, much as the ‘Artful Dodger’ might before bowing theatrically.
“So, Madam Rosenberg, you ready for this meetin’, or we gonna need ta get your ducks more in a row, stack the board o’ directors any more, or ya want me t’ bonk the Managing Director t’ get him all happy ‘n listen to ya?!!”
Spike was as animated as she had ever seen him! She knew he had consulted her – but the portfolio was his and already making money… She never knew… The Aurelian fortune, that which Spike and Drew had lived on for so long, wasn’t just to do with stolen money, it was *his* skills pre turning. Bad poet perhaps, but good accountant and wise investor with a century and a half of experience, and she and her children, the family, were now the beneficiaries of the vampire others had accused of not being able to carry out a plan. How wrong they all were.
Shortly after Xander arrived home from work, and a few hours after the William (the Bloody) and Willow Rosenberg had their own meeting, (and her settling the children) the two presented their wonderful saviour – now recovered – with the family investment portfolio.
Part of Willow’s loss seemed to be her reduced ability to understand text, but she still remembered how to use a computer and was jolly good with images so now and worked her way through a series of pre prepared screen grabs (made with Nurse Susan’s help) and annotated spreadsheets (from Spike’s demon broker) manipulating PowerPoint slides with a specially designed large pen on an electronic tablet, whilst Spike (ever the Victorian Gent) deferred to her “greater dexterity on that bloody machine” and did all the talking.
Xander was stunned by the impromptu ‘show’ and understood the implications, they had another source of income that equated to five times what he could earn – and the investments were all still growing?! But the inner Xander still worried as the details were spelt out, “Yeah but… um…. What if, you know… What if… I don’t think I can…”
Spike growled just a little, “You *towk*. This is fer the woman of the house and yours truly ta manage. You go on teachin’ folks ta turn wood an’ we’ll sort the rest… Mouths ta feed an’ all that – plus gotta keep the lady here an’ I in the way she’s become accustomed!”
The look of pride on Willow’s face and the sly grin flashed her way from *William* silenced any further protests. So when Xander simply accepted his two little boys for a ‘Daddy cuddle’, he nodded to Spike then thanked Willow with such genuine gratitude and love, she feared she might melt. She really was part of this… and adult, in control, not of everything, but now the bits she could do.
She felt for her belly, and pressed lightly. It was still soft, but she knew… This was her choice, and now *she* was one of the people taking care of their future, contributing to the household, and Xander was there, and Spike was there… but her tears of happiness as she embraced the moment were sadly misinterpreted.
A worried Xander began to comfort her and called for Nurse/nanny Susan who swiftly took the boys handed them to Spike then returned to manoeuvre her chair into Willow’s sitting room where she and Xander eased the apparently upset woman into her recliner. When this seemed to create more upset, Nurse Susan moved to find Willow’s medication, at least to sedate her until the ‘storm passed’, but Xander staid her with a quiet hand. “Can we just wait for a minute…?” then knelt at Willow’s side, “Can you tell me…?”
He then waited for several minutes as she calmed. Finally Willow nodded hard, shed a few more tears and squeezed his hand before finally saying, “Jus… Happy.”
Spike had heard the hubbub and was now leaning against the doorframe of her room, having divested himself of small boys, and gave her a slightly amused smile and said, “Bloody strange way t’ show it ya daft bint. C’mon gotta smile if ya remember the look on the man o’ the house here’s when we showed ‘im just how much… Ahhh never mind, you were there… You get some rest yeah? Reckon ‘is lordship here is gonna want ‘t grill ‘is new investment dealers a bit more in the mornin’. Tell ‘im ta put on the telly for ya… but make sure you get the remote!”
Xander shot him a rather bemused look and when Willow nodded gratefully, it was Xander who hit the standby button for the TV remote and the Discovery Channel burst to life on screen opposite. Spike winked at her then excused himself, “Right I’m off, bit peckish after all this excitement.”
Xander dutifully handed Willow the controls then sat on the arm rest of her recliner, taking her hand and simply being. They sat for a time watching an archaeology dig somewhere in Britain. It was comfortable, old friends watching television together.
There was no sound from the rest of the house as he kissed Willow and nodded to Nurse Susan who had arrived to help Willow to bed.
After his warmed blood, Spike chose to sit outside in the dark and chill of the evening and smoke. He just needed to regroup for a while. He stayed in game face, it felt right for the moment. He growled at a stray cat who wandered close, and was mildly pleased to see it flee then found himself desperately wishing he was well enough to hunt again – if only for feral demons in the area. He knew he *was* on the improve but it was still taking too long.
As he returned to their shared bedroom, cane now leaned on heavily, Spike didn’t fail to notice the man he loved sitting on the edge of the bed, elbows on his knees and hands over his face.
When he was tired, Spike’s walking was always still a little too painful, something in his back was simply not mending… but he made it to the bed, eased himself down and sat quietly, placing down the cane by his ‘other’ side and slowly covering Xander’s hand closest with his own, then pulling it gently to his chest.
“Didn’t mean to upset you love… Only tryin’ to help.” He let their joined hands fall to his lap and waited.
“Spike… you have no idea… G#@% I have been so… tired… And I tried, I really did… It’s your fortune*s* that you are playing with now… and you are so good at it… I… I just… you didn’t have to…”
“Yeah, we did Pet… Come on now! Only doin’ our bit… Never really told ol’ Angelus what I went on with all the money we nicked (though later on he knew)… and the witch is a right gun at that silly piece ‘o junk they call a computer in there. ‘Specially since the nurse an’ I sorted her that writing board thingy on Ebay – just has to push the pen to the right spot on the big pad an’ bingo. She was right chuffed!”
Xander still had his eyes closed and the tears were obvious, but he managed a rough sniff then a simple, “I’m sorry… I should have… Willow and the kids…?! Oh geez… I’ve let you all down *so* much…”
“You say that once more mate and I swear I will bite you, an’ it *won’t* be friendly!”
“But all this and Willow with her… and you’re still not…”
Spike stood up and stated “Willow *needs* this, self esteem, purpose an’ all that rot, an’ I’m *perfectly* fine mate!” He swung the cane in an attempt to prove his perfect health, then genuinely needed to plant it on the ground as, for some reason, his left knee weakened.
Xander snorted a little, noted his vampire’s embarrassment at the mild slip, and smiled weakly then pulled the dear lover down to sit by him again saying “Do you know how much I love you?”
Spike kissed the back of the hand he had been grabbed by and pushing it to his forehead in a gesture of fealty and thanks saying quietly “Yeah Mate… figure I do…”
They sat for a while before Spike squeezed the hand and turned to Xander rather uncharacteristically shyly, “I… I know this ‘as been a bit of a night for ya… but… was just wonderin’… vampire thing really – but been weighin’ on m’ mind fer a while… Just… well now I’m on the improve…”
Xander’s face paled, he had no idea what Spike planned, but after everything tonight, thought it might just entail some sort of time away from each other, some vampire quest to make himself completely whole again. Xander just didn’t think he survive that… this, his life, without Spike any more. Spike was his… well… everything.
Spike heard the heart speeding in his lover’s chest and worried, but continued, “How would it sit with you if we were to… you know… Mated an’ such… not a big deal if ya don’t o’ course… Well it is really, for me, that is… well and you obviously… But it wouldn’t be painful… just blood exchange an’ a bit of a chant by the witch… Willow can say the words… even if she’s slow… ‘No’ is an OK answer… you know or… Just maybe think on it yeah?”
The pause was rather uncomfortable but the outcome was a passionate kiss to the lips, before a nod and whispered, “Love you too… Mated… sounds nice… so… When?”
This time around Willow had hardly felt her pregnancy. With only one little person in vitro and a wonderful physical therapist, her walking had improved to the point of twenty eight steps with the walker, even though she was twenty weeks pregnant. It was the furthest she had gone independently for five years and took her from the bedroom to almost any room in the house. And with the special toilet seat and seat in the shower she was able to manage… almost by herself these days, though she knew that later on it would change, but only until baby came.
More worrying was her ongoing struggle with speech and some of her fine motor skills despite attending therapy sessions (usually involving clay or paint or something *not* what she seemed to need!) at the local community centre so *begged* Nurse Susan and Xander and Spike, to let it be. Her peers at the centre were sufferers of far more debilitating and increasingly compromising disorders, and it was Willow’s speech, dexterity and ambulation that was damaged *not* her… She was *still Willow*! There were bits missing but… She *wished* she could explain!
Despite Xander’s recent recovery he immediately banned the idea of her returning to the community centre after she slowly related her reasons for distress, and he hugged his dear friend and now mother of his *sixth* child, as she cried. Spike joined the hug later… Something that Willow belatedly realized was more to do with the father needing comfort than her and smiled at Spike. He was the quintessential hugger.
Words were not everything. Xander and Spike had both watched her with their girls and now with the new twins, she was patient, loving, giving… just the original… Willow.
Xander also knew and cried into his partner’s arms, as they read the assessment of her most recent CAT scans and MRI’s – along with the psychiatrist’s report. It predicted she might recover to a certain extent, but there was very definite damage. Whatever the demon blood/electroshock treatment had done – along with the extended cocktail of drugs and general trauma, parts of her brain were now dark, the situation in which she had been physically kept also contributing. Her speech was likely never to be restored to its original level, nor would a number of her physical functions or memories return. The good news was her short term memory was still spot on and her general state of mind was good. The sad news was that W&H had managed to destroy so much.
The night of the report coming in, it was Clem who comforted Spike and Xander downstairs over a beer.
A day later, a little better news came through as a demon analyst read her magic and measured her power. Despite the horrendous draining of her energy for so long, the respite and boost from Spike saw her back to at least half her previous strength and the improvement seemed to be ongoing as far as he could tell.
It was the news they all needed. Willow a little reassured that she might still have something to work with, and hugged by all the household adults in congratulations.
The little girls would not start their magical lessons in full until at school, but a kindly aging wiccan recommended by the magical specialist, lived locally, and agreed to tutor Willow at home. So for the next two months as Willow enjoyed the beginnings of movements of a tiny body moving within, she made the first steps toward her magical recovery.
On the same day Xander was given permanency and a promotion to Design and Technology Coordinator, in the presence of Nurse Susan, Spike and Ms Duff the tutor, Willow managed to spin a small carrot slowly mid-air using her own magic, then shocked herself and her observers as a blast of magic slammed her tutor into Spike, and caused the carrot to turn to stone as it rose to the ceiling then explode it into a million pieces, showering the room in dust.
Less than a second later, she collapsed unconscious…
Xander was called at work, Spike desperately tried to have his friend drink from him, Nurse Susan rang the local physician then attempted to placate three small girls who were wailing having been woken from afternoon sleep with a nasty jolt to their own magical energy. Thankfully the baby boys slept on unaware of the fuss.
The family was now, again, in distress. And as all the adults rallied, the worry was for her five month old foetus. Such a blast of energy would either mean a miscarriage, or something unknown. Spike quietly hoped. He had fed her less than an hour before (on recommendation) and heard the second tiny heartbeat accelerate as his own demon essence combined with magic, and also felt it, the little one had a certain ‘prickle’.