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....
Willow was comatose for eleven days. Spike fed her daily, easing the rich vampire blood down her throat by stroking her neck in a time old tradition, and both he and Xander held her, massaged her and talked to her, but as the days went by hope waned.
Spike, now cane free (except when tired) and at what he described as fifty percent vampire strength and speed, nightly held his wonderful lover as a once again an exhausted distressed Xander confessed his worries before giving in to kind touches and gentle caresses. There had been tears before but after the eleventh day it seemed worse than ever.
“C’mon Luv… Not your fault the little’un got all excited with the… ahhh Pet! Just hold on t’ me… yeah? Just hold on… We’ll get through this… Girls need ya… an’ you’ve got those lovely lads needin’ you firm hand… And Willow… she’s not gone… she’s just needin’ a bit of shut eye while the little un grows.”
Xander was crying uncontrollably now but he did manage to sob, “Oh G#$% Spike! What if she dies? What if she dies? And the baby dies too?? Was me! I let her do the… magic again….”
Spike kissed his wonderful rescuer, his lover, on the temple and stroked his hair. They had to go back into the sick room soon, he knew that, and his lover would need to be strong.
“C’mon now… Willow would ‘ave wanted the littlie t’ be full of magic if she’s that way inclined… and both heart rates are doin’ fine. Trust me Pet I can hear ‘em.” It was true, he could hear the two hearts beating, the baby’s faint and very fast but Willow’s unnaturally slow.
Xander looked up from his lover’s lap at the last statement, “Really?”
“What ya think I’d leave the bint if she was wanin’? Mother of *our* kids? You daft?” Spike’s rather insincere incensed look took the cake and Xander smiled weakly and accepted the fond caress from someone he knew was still struggling with his own recovery, but was so strong… so *very* strong. He gulped hard and drew on that strength as he heard one of the girls cry for her mother after their afternoon sleep, it was just about too much.
Spike heard the heart rate increase, smelt the distress and saw the tears. He tore off his T-shirt, scored his chest and pulled his dearest up and into his lap. He bore no argument as he pushed the brunette’s mouth to his bleeding wound. The father needed to be strong. It was always as he understood it… and if not the father, then the son… and as son then Childe he had tried *so* hard and failed… and as his blood was pulled from him, he also felt the truth. He had failed, his mother, Dru, and Angel… but he would not fail now.
Strangely it would be the Battle Brand who directly felt Spike’s angst and prayer on behalf of Xander, children and Willow. Giles also began an investigation of the possible effects on the foetus after Willow’s ‘episode’, and reinvigorated his study of Illyria and the energy she might have taken or given in her last blast from the world. His sources were vast, his time limitless these days… It did seem that it was not only Willow’s in vitro child that was special. He also wondered about Spike - the slow recovery, the survival in the first place, the connection to Illyria and possibly even the Well.
Two days later there was quiet in the house, Xander was at work and the children were having their afternoon nap. It was the thirteenth day after the traumatic magical event and Spike was sitting with Willow as she slowly came to. He heard the heart rate accelerate first, then saw her eyelids flicker open.
“There you are Luv… thought we’d lost you there for a moment…”
He stroked her face gently and she remembered who he was, where she was, and just why she counted this vampire as one of her dearest friends.
She wanted to say something, but unlike before, there didn’t seem to be any words available at all. Perhaps something had happened… inside. She worried some but then Spike opened his wrist and she reflexively accepted the blood straight from the source, then relaxed back.
“You up to me calling for the kiddies?”
Willow nodded, smiled and squeezed Spike’s hand.
“Right then. Hold on Pet… just go get nursery and we’ll be in business.”
Three rather frightened little girls were accompanied by Nurse Susan carrying two little boys. All the children were desperate for their mother’s direct contact, but the girls having seen her so ill, worried what they might find. They were all extremely quiet as they entered her room.
Reassured by their mother’s recovery but still almost in a state of shock, the boys suckled, then, although nearly three, the girls were accepted one by one and did the same. Willow should have felt like a jersey cow mid season, but instead felt incredibly grounded. Nurse Susan stayed as five little bodies surrounded their mother to cuddle and snooze post feeding, every little person embraced by at least two others and all touching their recovering mother.
Willow felt a very strange difference as she gave up her milk, and wondered if it was just that she had slept for so long. Each time she fed someone, it was like there was a fire inside her, like the connection was stronger, like someone else was also connecting, and after some consideration, she knew. Her foetus magically gifted, was seeking family through her, and Willow’s own need also flared as each connection was consciously restored.
The children were all touching her and the foetus inside her squirmed with delight and seemed to send her messages of bliss… though Willow it was only later that she realised it was not her imagination, and for Willow there was an overwhelming need for family, for Xander and Spike too. She felt compelled to seek them out in a way that she no longer understood, but her speech had been even more compromised by the blast and it let her down again, as the children were removed (afternoon activities and baths necessary) she began to cry.
Nurse Susan saw the distress as she departed and was relieved to see Spike take the woman’s hand and simply be as they waited for Xander to come home – he had been called and had excused himself immediately but was currently stuck in traffic.
Two weeks later saw Willow permanently in her chair, the recliner or her bed. Whatever else the magical blast had done, it had compromised her further than anyone could measure. There was no more speech, just gestures and the girls knew to be ‘patient with Mummy’ and were encouraged to involve her in everything.
It was hardest on Xander though Spike sat with her during the afternoon, even though technically he should still have been sleeping.
Xander always came to sit with her after work, relating the events of the day, asking her about the children, waiting as she pointed to things on the purpose designed images on the screen with enormous effort using her special pen but he could not help note that she was losing condition, eating too little and crying too much. She fed the boys and still played with the girls but now seemed so exhausted some days that even lifting a spoon to her own lips was just too much, and even if she was fed, she would only take the tiniest amount.
He used all Willow’s therapists, the coven and any contact he could think of to assist. It was decided that it was not so much a magical issue any more, the consultant mage who attended, confirmed that her child was draining her magic completely, and was pulling her physical energy also. Then Xander finally discovered the possibility of, post delivery, trying to ‘stimulate’ some of Willow’s less active brain areas and other parts with stem cell therapy from her own placenta after the daughter was born. The hope was not so much to have her recover lost memory or ‘jog around the block’(!), but rather, that the brain might adapt and allow her to learn ‘new’ skills that seemed to have been lost, perhaps restore her speech a little.
There was a forty percent chance of success, but as Spike caught his lover’s hand and they both watched sadly as Willow was spoon fed her evening meal, then only barely managed to kiss all the children as they mounted her bed and bade her goodnight… forty percent was enough.
Willow nodded her agreement they night they discussed it with her, but were unsure now if she really understood, particularly as she cried. Xander struggled with the emotional reaction and worried he had said something to upset.
Spike had her measure, “Pet, the lady just needs to tell you a few other bits I reckon.” He looked over to Willow and she smiled sadly then indicated to her writing tablet on the bench.
With the keyboard on the twenty inch screen, she slowly managed to spell out “Try but nt hur baby she specil”
It was enough and Xander took the now seven month pregnant Willow into his arms and hugged her, and said “Never! Not the baby, not you… c’mon Wills we’ve got you… We’ve got you”, all the while reassured by his partner’s calm hand literally at his back.
She improved over the next two weeks, in spirits at least, and the child grew and her boys were weaned and the little girls were a delight. But Spike worried. Something wasn’t right, but as the therapy seemed to have an effect, and Willow began to try stand by herself (with the walker) again, he kept his opinion to himself as Xander, Spike and Clem took on W&H.
Clem was their ace card.
He and Noreen were looking to reproduce (all true!) and the story was he could but she was too busy (also true) so they were looking for a surrogate. He had a handsome deposit ready to secure their position and so was welcomed with open arms by the staff at the centre, though informed that there was a ten month waiting period – at least! Nevertheless he was led around the facility, the sanitary nature of the establishment and its fine history of neither demon nor human viruses or infections a tribute to the care of the ‘volunteer vessels’.
So now they were looking at the photos from Clem’s phone – taken with full permission.
Spike felt his fingers almost break with Willow’s grip, then the jolt from the small one that had all the magical signature of a full wiccan mistress. She would relate her knowledge later, but for now it was enough Spike just held on.
Willow knew the face but not the placid glassy eyes nor the digital picture of body that now reminded her of how far she had come, and how much she owed her dear Xander, and for that matter Spike and all her carers.
The girl was the brunette who had replaced Kennedy in the tank opposite her when she was in the facility. She never knew her name but the girl had thrashed around for weeks even after she was fully restrained on a body board they tied her to then lowered her back into her tank. Willow remembered chewing a little on her own jaw divider and wishing she could help the distressed girl, wished she could tell her to just relax and drift, enjoy the breast pump, lose herself in memories of before, appreciate the movement of the children she was carrying, but it was not to be and she watched as the girl continued to struggle until exhausted.
After the woman’s first pregnancy Willow saw little change but as she hung in her sling being hosed down waiting for her one month check, she heard the ‘researchers’ discussing the Slayer. They rejoiced in finding a new drug that worked on Slayers and calmed their prize charge, and were thrilled that her part demon nature sped up the pregnancies as long as they got the ‘mix’ right. Willow then listened and watched in horror as the demon mother herself physically injected the eggs. The relaxant filled Slayer, simply lying of a trolley in front of her tank, was completely aware as the lizard like creature penetrated her with a strange 0white appendage and happily deposited her fertilized eggs inside the Slayer/incubator.
By the time Willow entered her second trimester with the three human children, she had seen her fellow surrogate produce nine ‘lizard’ babies from two pregnancies/incubations…. Four then five baby ‘something or others’ in the space of three months. And after the ex-slayer was impregnated again Willow saw the signs, there was no more struggle, the girl simply hung in her tank, now free of all restraints, there was no need.
Merely days before Willow was ‘purchased’ she also noted the similar head fitting to her own had been attached to hold the girl’s head out of her fluid, she had been impregnated again, the bumps of the eggs in her belly again obvious. The girl looked sadly across at her but still had awareness in her eye at that time.
That had been three years ago.
Despite her own limitations Willow noted, even from the still photo. The Slayer was utterly placid, physically unable to ‘thrash’ and completely catatonic after years of pregnancies, sedation and sensory deprivation, and the girl was huge and unnaturally pregnant. Clem had also caught the note on the clipboard hanging from her tank that they could just make out, “Milk yield down. Dragon egg incubation viable. Recommend no further incubation or pregnancies. Subject suitable only for harvest of organs *not* limbs. ”
According to Clem there were three other women in the same row with similar messages. It was obvious two had already lost ‘parts’, eyes the easiest to take first, then kidneys one by one apparently.
The young lab assistant who was showing their ‘prospective client’ the demon (Clem) around was a little too chatty, and let drop that the funding for the project was in trouble; that the establishment was due to be closed and as soon as the latest round of orders were filled; and that all the women would be moved to a new facility, either for continued milk and in some cases blood production, and for the rest, organ &/or limb donation (apparently quite lucrative).
Poor Clem had excused himself politely at that point and threw up in the basin of the men’s lavatory. He adored Willow and the whole family, and tried not to think about his dear Noreen in the same situation, but also realized to his distress that all the women in the establishment were deemed disposable. The majority were already catatonic and the kindest thing for Xander and the family team to do would be… end their suffering as painlessly as possible.
He headed home to his lovely floppy skinned wife with a ‘price list’ for the various services offered and thanked his lucky stars that he was able to be the messenger not the one to make the decisions as he delivered the photos.
The following week a package came for the director of the establishment from somewhere in England. It contained a polite letter from an unknown vendor, they had apparently met at a conference, accompanied by a small wrapped gift.
Seven covens and the Watcher’s council were ready, as was Willow and all her girls – young as they might be. Spike, Xander and Clem and Noreen even added their energy as they waited for the moment.
The director tugged at the pretty tie and the trigger was tripped. An enormous blast of magical energy blew through the facility knocking over all the researchers who quickly scrambled out of the building. But the blast had already killed the ‘propagating stock’ before the real device detonated. With staff already outside and diving to the ground it blasted the facility with such force that it blew out all the windows on an adjacent building. The director died with his charges, but like them knew nothing.
Sadly, in some cases there was a faint message of joy felt through the ether by those who had contributed their magic as freed desperate spirits joined sisters elsewhere.
All grieved for the two new eggs (demon babies) that were killed in the process, but if Clem’s happy informant was correct there was *only* two as the establishment now had abandoned human birth cycles and all ‘propagators’ were now on the same schedule and had just been harvested according to their chirpy corporate guide.
Watchers, Slayers and Wiccans all sent a prayer for the women and two demon children lost. Gaia and the Powers heard. There would be no repercussions from the Senior Partners. At least not soon but the Battle Brand knew when he felt the jolt through the ether and knew from his older memories, the Senior Partners had many interests.
Willow’s sixth child was not in the right position when her waters broke but all was well, and now Xander then Spike kissed her on the forehead as she held their beautiful sixth child – another girl, again a little early and by caesarean, but... perfect.
As had been planned, the stem cells from the placenta were extracted and frozen. The treatment would take months but everyone was hopeful, and despite Willow’s depleted state there seemed every reason to stay positive.
Baby Margaret Louise was born with a magical signature so strong it made Spike’s demon shiver every time he picked her up. On the other hand Willow’s magic seemed to have gone all together.