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....
The children were all up instantly – as were Xander and Spike but held their little ones back. Nothing could have prepared them for the strange feeling of urgency, the demand… the powerful blast of need.
Nurse Susan was there but it was only when Xander took the bottle accepted the tiny form into his arms that the magical energy truly calmed.
Spike was on the floor – as was the nurse. She had two small boys also taking a bottle in her lap while Spike petted the three girls who had all snuggled up against him. Xander looked rather apologetically at his wonderful partner as the still recovering (would it *ever* get better) vampire whipped off the old sweater of Xander’s he’d thrown on and laid it gently over the three girls who were now snuggled down and near asleep in a three way spoon together using his thigh as their pillow.
Shortly after the children settled it was Giles who rang Xander.
“What the… Xander what’s happened?!”
Spike pulled Xander onto the settee and held him close as the sad news was related.
“It was Margaret but… Oh Giles… I don’t know how to…” Xander’s voice hitched and he took a moment before continuing in a near whisper, “Willow… She… she’s dead Giles… I… we… I’m sorry I just couldn’t… they said it was in her sleep… painless… two weeks ago… the day after Margaret’s birthday… and she seemed so happy late… [hic] I’m … oh geez ahhh [hic] We ummm… I just…. It’s [hic] it’s too hard Giles… The kids have been *so* good… *so* good… even Margaret until tonight… but she is just saying what we all feel really… I ummm” Giles heard and extra heavy sigh and hiccup then the quiet, “Here Luv, give me the phone for a tick yeah?”
And a stronger baritone voice took over, “Giles?”
“Taa for the call… right nice of the Battle Brand to ring… As you can tell… we’ve been strugglin’ here for a bit. Just we’d have sent a card but… well… we just… the boy here an’ the kids… we… she was so loved Giles… so loved right to the end…”
“I knew Spike, I knew the instant she left…” It was not normal for a Battle Brand to be emotional, but it seemed the rules had been allowed to change a little – at least in this instance and it was a very emotional Giles who added, “She was mine too… my dear redheaded girl, a magnificent witch! But I know she was at peace in the end, if it is any consolation that is fact and mine to convey. Once her magic was gone, her time was limited, but my dear boys, to be so loved, just as Fred was in the end, there is no better conclusion to one’s life…”
Spike was feeling tearful but held down the lump in his throat and simply said, “That they were – two right fine women… And kiddies will no doubt visit you – in time. But you’re beatin around the bush, no?”
Giles couldn’t speak and simply ground out “A moment…”
Spike was still dripping tears himself and in a near whisper said, “Take all the time you bloody like…”
Spike all but felt Giles’ distress as he looked over to his own partner Xander who was still sitting with his head in his hands tears falling onto his lap.
Giles pulled Spike from his own malaise, and all but whispered into the phone, “Margaret is… extraordinary… she has a power like no other witch on the planet before or since… But… you too despite your… physical limitations in vampire terms… Willow gave her daughter something special, just Illyria gave something to you. *You* will need to train her, from a very young age… she will have other tutors, but it is *you* Spike… you will make her what she can become. She has a direct link to Gaia, the Earth. If she chooses she can shift weather patterns, cause earthquakes, or save a planet already in decline. You must train her. As to your current state and inability to heal - my research… it seems Illyria took and *gave* quite liberally to her favourites – quite the Machiavelli’s Prince – as was her history… and you as designated ‘Pet’ and fellow fighter…”
Spike snorted, “She could have bloody given me a pair of pins that worked on a bad day! Need ta use the dead one’s walker soon as not!... Bloodly Hell!!! Get ta the point! Brand or not I swear I’ll come over there an’ rip out yer insides with me own hands if’n ya know sommit that we need ta keep this family from goin’ t’ the pot!”
“Oh Please Spike, William… do me the service of speaking the Queen’s English – If nothing else, it’s an insult to your mother!”
Spike would normally have fallen into game face but only managed his fangs and that after some effort. The comment regards his mother cut to the core, that combined with the death of the mother of Xander’s, their children, he would never insult… “Low bloody call Battle Brand. Callin’ me me Mum into this? Family’s still grievin’… Me included… ” Spike went silent, not trusting his own voice to continue.
Giles’ new role dictated a curt answer but managed to access enough old memories to make the conversation at least a little polite, “I will apologise for that but you presume to think I don’t grieve also? The passing of one of the most powerful witches on the planet, the girl I taught and guided through her high school years, the girl I held as she herself grieved for a friend! I too mourn her passing… and also have lost a mother.”
There was a long pause. “Yeah… bugger… sorry, just… ” [audible sniff]
“Your… abilities…? You have been drained of some of your magic and more. If Illyria reappears there may be some chance of appeal… but until then you are at least ambulant. That is surely enough. The rest you will have revealed in time. Meanwhile be the father*s* you always wished to be… As did I…
“If you are willing, when Margaret is old enough, send her to me… Might I suggest eighteen. Give her a ‘gap year’ with me after her high school. She will know if she’s ready. But visit with her before then. Xander is her father and will love her as he should, but you need to train her and she *needs* you in ways that will be revealed – just as Xander needs you.”
Spike didn’t miss the sadness, and simply said, “So surrogate Grandpa? … You OK with that, since she an’ the boy were yours… kinda logical innit?”
Spike heard Giles’s voice hitch a little, “Given the circumstances… I… Goodness… Yes of course… of course but you must realise…”
“Yup got it, Battle Brand, taciturn… all that rot… kids just need a bit of a note on the 25th of December and a cuddle if’n they visit… Me boy Xan is a little the same…”
“Oh for heaven’s sake Spike… I know… Just *yes* and *yes* for all the reasons that… *of course*. Now do me the honour of *getting off the phone*. All this emotion is tedious at best!”
Spike handed the handpiece back to his partner who simply thanked Giles politely and wished him well, but after hanging up was in full damage mode.
There had been another small tug on the energy in the room as Margaret was carried to bed and it seemed to drain the last of Spike’s energy.
His beloved vampire was shaking in a way that was… not of the good… and even though seated already, he was leaning against the recliner for support, not game to move with three little girls still using his leg as a pillow. And Xander realized yet again just how fragile Spike really was.
Eventually the other children were all carried back to bed by a now exhausted Nurse Susan and overtired Xander, who then returned for his partner.
Lifting Spike was surprisingly easy, especially after one of the magical draining as had just occurred. The blonde vampire was already incredibly thin but now… Xander felt like he was carrying a young boy.
He eased Spike onto their bed and simply stroked him lovingly until they both slumbered.
Noreen and Clem had two of their own a week later, both cute as a button and each one tiny. A girl and a boy with floppy skin and red eyes from day one, but adored by Xander’s brood – even the boys were intrigued and… gentle (for a change).
Margaret was banned from them – when she came near, they became over excited and Noreen simply did not have the milk supply to calm them again. The little budding wiccan didn’t understand and had a minor tantrum the first time she was dragged away, but when Noreen knelt down and explained quietly that the “Bubbies need t’ work up to you… You’re very special”, she seemed to understand, particularly after ‘Uncle Clem’ asked her to give him lots of hugs to pass on. He was good with hugs.
Xander didn’t miss the exchange, nor did Spike, and the following day a very large bunch of flowers were delivered with the message “Just because… Thank you to our wonderful Aunty Noreen and Uncle Clem.” A rather tearful Clem arrived on their doorstep that night with a small basket of kittens to return the gesture. He had always had a ‘good’ family and now included the boys (and children) in it.
Spike answered the door, leaning heavily on his cane and smiled. “Come in mate, kiddies ‘ll play with the kitties but then you take ‘em back for yourself yeah? We’ve got enough mouths ta feed… Anyway… Was a right nice gesture you and the missus – flowers were well deserved. Little’un here don’t know her own strength yet. How are the kids anyway?”
At that point Margaret toddled over to ‘Unca’ and was lifted onto Spike’s lap, Clem amazed as his friend switched to game face, bit his wrist over the scar, then allowed the small one to drink.
“They’re um fine… wonderful… She?”
“Don’t worry mate… no vampire just… Reckon it’s sommit about me and her an’ her Da bein’ connected and this little un’s I dunno, she seems to need it… just a few times a week – all good.”
As the tiny Margaret drank – both blood and magic from Spike, she let her joy be known to *any* magical being in the vicinity. Poor Clem fell off his chair with the blast, rising with tears in his eyes. “Good glory be!”
Spike was positively grey and weakly eased the ‘Little Miss’ back onto the floor. “You an’ me both mate… No bloody wonder me pins are still out of perfect workin’ order! She’s a… fire cracker, drains more than a fledge every time… tell ya that for nothin’. Can’t even…”
Xander flew into the room past Clem, to catch his partner. Even sitting, after the draining physically and magically, Spike was in a dead faint.
A week later saw Spike in a wheelchair again, his ‘pins’ failing after each feeding. The other children didn’t mind, in fact were quite please that ‘Unca’ was seated and ambulant and regularly took trips down the hall to their rooms squealing gleefully in his lap.
Xander worried constantly and tried to encourage his dear partner to drink from him. Spike had repeatedly refused. The vampire knew his demon was being drained… over and over, and if he started drinking from the source he might not be able to stop.
It was post work and the children had all been tucked in – Margaret included and they finally had a few moments together, Spike trying to be chipper for his lover… because of late, their lovemaking had waned to nothing due to his condition – a loving hug and kiss about as much ardour as the vampire could muster before collapsing.
“Please Spike – this is crazy! She is draining you… anyone can see that… If you’re going to then…there’s human blood in the fridge… can you at *least* eat that? You have to eat something!”
There was a bluish tinge to Spike’s lips and Xander didn’t miss the listless effort to brush away a long lock of hair from his eyes.
“Not really inclined ta eat…”
“Spike, I can’t *lose* you… You can’t keep feeding her, and don’t give me the ‘tisn’t that much crap! I know she pulls away your magical energy more.”
“Battle Brand said as much… Little un needs the magic an’ it’s all in the blood with us vampires. I… ohhh…”
“This is ridiculous… Spike?” The vampire had passed out.
Xander wheeled the chair to their room and gently lifted Spike onto their bed, then rang Giles… again.
“Who dares ring the Well?”
“Giles it’s Xander… I’m sorry to bother but we really have no other… well our circumstances… I have to know Giles… Spike is *so* ill… and she keeps… and the kids are…” Xander gave in to worry and grief, pulled the phone away and began to sob in earnest.
There was a long pause but eventually a shaky voice answered, “Sorry… my bad… just that… ahh geez!” There was a sniff and heavy sigh.
“It is time for you to bring them here.”
“All six kids and Spike!?”
“Indeed, Willow’s old coven will have answers.”
Xander was about to ask another question but Giles had already hung up.
It seemed there were some arrangements to be made. He just thanked the lucky stars that semester break was coming and hoped Spike could hold out until then.