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....
The little ones hugged and snuggled and warmed… It was the salve Spike needed beyond anything… The children were his too… Xander knew that, Willow had known it in her own way, the Battle Brand knew, and the Mistress Lilliana knew… so did (thankfully unbeknownst to William) the whole coven.
A month on, Xander had taken sabbatical (leave without pay) from the college. The management knew of his deceased wife’s challenges and were genuinely saddened by her demise, but also understood that grief took time to resolve.
Hearing his daughter’s latest health challenges and need to seek assistance in the UK was… there were no words. The Chancellor of the college worried that there might be no return of their best lecturer, but HR was adamant that it was worth admitting the time off without loss of tenure.
Xander was amazed by the disciplined approach of the coven. He always assumed ‘new agey’ equalled free and easy… but it could not have been farther from the truth.
The children were organized, fed, dressed and schooled and all of them revelled in their respective groups. His girls all found friends within days… Sadie particularly quick to find Magenta, a magically gifted girl who’s mother was from Kenya, whilst Maisie hooking up with a young lad, Dajev from the Ukraine. Lucy too eventually found a little blonde local girl called Tracey to associate with - the two were both terribly shy, and sat aside from the others, usually giggling and ‘sharing secrets’. Lucy was Spike’s favourite of the three… he somehow saw himself in the nervous, intelligent little girl.
The boys were in their element – a large group of exuberant boys and girls their own age. They played and ate and snoozed and played again – a complete delight. They regularly visited Spike, accompanied by Nurse Susan, of an afternoon and were both just walking and at the beginning of the ‘babble’ stage. Sometimes Nurse Susan brought their playmates also, and noted the extra spark of pleasure in the Vampire’s eye – it was nothing to do with feeding and everything to do with being a father.
But again it was Xander who needed help. His dear one was still *so* slow to mend and the coven was really struggling.
Spike slept almost all day everyday and now it seemed almost all night as well. There was no real explanation but eventually something *did* seem to be healing and two weeks later, he asked to be helped to stand.
They were reasonably strong legs that bore him up and a perfectly delighted grin that accompanied the event, sadly his back still felt like it was on fire, that he would keep to himself if he could, as he observed the wide smile of his lover.
“See Pet? Just needed a bit of time.” The comment garnered a relieved slap from Xander – there was no weight in it – but was then accompanied by the catching of the vampire as he began to lose balance and collapsed.
He sat on the ground with the vampire over his lap stroking a very pale vampire obviously in pain, “Geez Spike I’m sorry … I’m so sorry!”
Spike took an unnecessary breath then whispered “Not your’s t’ be sorry about Pet, back’s just a bit sore is all.” It was the first time he had admitted it.
Mistress Lilliana was informed immediately and the MRI revealed three badly compromised disks and three cracked vertebra in the lumbar region… and the magical scan pulsed at the same point. Something had been taken from him in the blast that was not letting his own healing abilities ‘kick in’.
A day later, Spike was flat on his front in a full spinal bed. Three of the best coven healers had been focussing on his back and chanting but it seemed that a long struggle was to come.
His solace was being visited by their girls who were pleased to ‘cheer up Unca Spike’ and did as instructed by Nurse Susan. The three sat on the floor under him and showed their latest creations from the nursery school they were now attending at the coven, then each dutifully knelt or stood, and kissed him on the forehead.
Xander entered as the girls were leaving, they all received a hug from Dad, but as the last, Lucy, departed Xander saw his partner once again in game face and dripping blood tinged tears onto the floor below. He flew to his side.
“Talk to me… Can you talk to me… Come on please, Spike. Are you hurting? Shall I get the healers again… Oh please! Tell me what I can do?! I can’t stand seeing you like this… We’ll fix this… We’ll fix you.”
The affect of the words were only to make the injured vampire cry even harder. He remembered the original injury.
He had watched Gunn then his Grandsire die before being launched by the blast, and at the same time drained of his magic, before being slammed against the edge of metal industrial bin. Any human would have been permanently disabled or dead from the impact but his vampire system struggled to recover once Clem took care of him.
He struggled to stay conscious, “’S OK Luv… ‘S OK… Maybe had me time… ‘n if ya can’t fix… Pull out that wood and give me a permanent rest, yeah?”
Spike’s eyes closed and Xander went from concerned to frantic.
The healers were all called back but their ministrations seemed to have little effect, even their laid on hands gave no improvement and little relief. Spike would die in agony or drug induced oblivion if possible and no-one at the coven could reassure Xander.
The magic was one thing, but at this stage drugs were the best option, morphine the drug of choice as it usually affected heart and lungs… the latter not so much a problem with vampires therefore the dose could be ‘upped’.
Xander returned to the girls’ room kissing them all and lying through his teeth as he told them Unca Spike was ‘just fine… but a bit sick at the moment’. Even at four the girls weren’t fooled and all asked for a ‘special bottle’ that night – these days, sadly (but thankfully) it was from another wiccan at the coven.
Gemma had lost her second boy twin to natural causes he (Thomas) died in-vitro, the cause a suspected heart problem. Hence her lovely Lance was born too early at 32 weeks. She continued to express for two and caressed Xander’s darling boys along with her own, realizing that without the intervention she might have lost her firstborn and her own life, and appreciated even more what Xander was trying to do.
Gemma gave up her milk willingly… her Lance had no hope of consuming her supply, so it was cherished and frozen for him and the other boys (and of course Margaret) that she now fed.
Her supply was ample and regular, except on the day they buried Thomas, Lance’s twin.
There had to be an autopsy, and he had to be named, then the tiny casket was buried… The whole coven grieved – many of them mothers sending blessings to aid the grieving parents…
Perhaps as a consequence – no-one knew - three days later, Gemma’s partner renounced his Coven vows and walked out, never to return.
Xander visited and helped settle all the children, checked his patient, then went to watch some television… something mindless… anything mindless. He would never be able to thank Gemma and her partner… never… to lose a child and then help others? He was so humbled by their generosity.
What he didn’t notice, nor anyone else apparently, was the tiny girl who was now toddling, and toddled to Unca Spike’s sick bed.
At two the next morning, a regular check time, Nurse Susan looked in on Spike, only to see, once again, that Margaret had fed of him. Mistress Lillian came on the run. The little Miss had snuck in and taken of him, but this time there was something different.
Margaret was asleep on Spike’s chest. He was grey and drained as ever, but something about his magical signature was stronger. It was unprecedented, but for Xander, the news was wonderful.
Spike could have pushed away the little Margaret, but chose to pull her onto his chest, scored it, and let her take her fill. But somehow she had registered her ‘obligation’ to return the favour and swung to the side so she could touch the floor. The near two year old instinctively planted her feet and despite continuing to feed, this time gave back far more magic than she took.
And unbeknownst to Xander, Spike’s back began to heal.
Xander was just about to enter and pull Margaret away but paused as Mistress Lilliana arrived and opted to say, “Why would he?... Goddess Why?? He’s already weak!”
Mistress Lilliana turned on him, “Would you do it?”
“Give up everything… for you children?”
“G#$%!!!! Of course!”
“So you are denying William the same right?”
“What?? No!! Oh G@#$ But he *has* to be OK!!!”
Mistress Lilliana levelled dark green eyes on him, “I think you will find that the combination of the Battle Brand and the ensouled Vampire will provide quite a unique young woman.”
“But how does that work?? what about Spike?!!!… He is *dying* F#@$ sake! I *can’t* do this alone!!!”
Xander was genuinely frantic. This was ridiculous – they were postulating and predicting and his lover was… *dying*, *dusting*, or even *leaving the realm*??!!!!
In the end there was no rational thought, Xander tried to get to his partner for minutes, which could have been hours… only to be held back and watch him feeding Margaret again and again, as she rested and latched back on… but through tearful eyes he eventually saw the truth. Spike had been placed on the floor, she was feeding from his breast much as any child would a mother, and had her tiny hand wrapped around Spike’s thumb. But she was kneeling, connected to the earth.
And when her father entered, she stretched out her other arm instinctively and drew him down to comfort, first her then his own partner.
She had few words yet but ‘Da’ and ‘hug’ were two of them…
Xander dismissed Nurse Susan – the happy youngster on one hip, but was utterly distressed so rushed to his partner’s side. The last time this had occurred Spike was down for weeks!
He was most definitely drained but had been given back something...
“Chit gave of herself… didn’t have to… but right nice. Look! She’s on the shy side of two but knows how to pull from the earth!”
Xander had seen it too. Margaret clearly had bare feet planted as she suckled, and had crawled up afterward to lie with her game faced ‘uncle’.