Warnings: Will appear on chapters if needed – some M/M relations
Summary: Spike survived the Black Thorn but only because one of the Senior Partners had heard Illyria refer to him as suitable for her pet and decided to amuse themselves with devastating results
Previous Parts here
They all knew it was Andrew’s doing but Willow remembered something from the first note, “I thought the first note was from J G Winchester IV? If it’s still the same Master of Calgary ‘and surrounds’ then… ”
“Ponce has just took on a more regal moniker is all, ‘Andrew’ not exactly the most threatening of titles for a vamp. Now we’ve seen him, figure he just wants to rattle Xander. No need for pontificatin’. Geez… Need to chat to my two for a minute if you’ll excuse me.”
A very upset Poppie and Luka were settled onto their plushy mat beside Xander’s bed. Xander had added two pillows and a thick sheepskin throw to the mat, and both children expressed a preference that they be covered with the faux fur when going to sleep. Longer term it was likely they would take the double bed in the second room, but for now the smell of family and familiar proximity to father and master was important.
Spike sat down beside the two children and began to stroke Luka’s curls, “Now you two, no need to be afraid. Master and Gracie will be here for us when we are dogs, but it’s up to us to look after each other too. There will be times when we are threatened but all you need do is stay in the house, is that clear?”
They both answered dutifully, “Yes Papa.”
“And you tell me if you smell anything odd around the yard or see anything yeah?”
They both looked most serious as the “Yes Papa” was the reply, but Luka had other things on his mind, “Can we have a story now?”
Xander and Willow shared some time over coffee before sneaking a peak into the family bedroom and were privy to Spike lying with the children reading Christopher Robin until Luka was happily asleep. Spike kissed Poppie’s curls and whispered, “’Night love” before joining the adults in the hall.
The look of contentment on Spike’s face as he quietly closed the door said it all but the voice was one of quiet concern. “Poppie wanted a private chat with Aunt Willow before you leave Pet, but I don’t think the sun will allow it. Any chance I can ask a few questions on her behalf, I think I know what’s up.”
Willow and Xander led the way to the kitchen, but were redirected out to the back porch where Spike lit a cigarette before continuing.
“I think we’re all in a bit of a muddle as to how to deal with this. How do they age? How can they…”
Poppie had pulled herself to standing at the back door and was quickly assisted forward by the strong arm of Xander around her back. Spike flicked the still lit cigarette into the yard and was at her other side with vampiric speed.
“What is it Pet? How can we help?”
“Can I talk to Aunt Willow alone?”
“Of course Pet, Master and I were just about to go… watch *real* football on the telly.” Xander raised an eyebrow at that but followed Spike’s lead and left Willow with the teenager.
“Aunt Willow, I’m scared. I can learn to walk and read and everything you want… but…” Poppie began to cry. Amongst sobs she managed to divulge her fears, “I… I wanted to have a litter [hic] even just one [hic] and now?... [hic] When I am three, I should [hic] have your grandchildren [hic] and I… I… Papa when will you turn me? I am confused… Am I the reason for the vampires coming [hic] I don’t want to endanger master… Auntie Willow I really need [hic] to know.”
Willow was also close to tears by the time she had made her worries known, but eased her down into a gentle hug, “Oh my dearest Poppie. You need to know a little more about who Spike, your father is, but that can wait. I’ll ask the Battle Brand when I get home – he’s your family too you know, and loves you too I’m sure. He has a special connection to the powers of light and dark, and can only tell the truth so you will have your answers then. Can you wait that long sweetie? I promise I will ask for you.”
Willow sat beside the upset teenager as she wiped her nose on her sleeve and ‘hicced’ once more. “Sweetie we’re doing our best to sort all this out. I have contacted Blue Feather – Master… Xander knows her. She will tutor you in the old magic, that’s a promise. As to children, be patient, until we talk to the Battle Brand at least. And do you know what sweetie… you have done *so* well so far… and some of us will never have children.” Willow looked a little sad at that statement of her own status then tempered the statement, “It just means we make terrific aunties and friends, don’t you agree?” She gave Poppie a tight hug and kiss to the forehead.
As the caress was released, Willow took a large amethyst charm on a chain from around her neck and draped it on Poppie’s slim, collar bound form. It was longer than the collar so Willow looped it through a few times until the gem sat at the front.
“There… That’s to keep you safe and healthy. Promise you’ll honour the stone? For your Auntie Willow, will you do that?” Willow melted into a hug with the girl as adoring blue eyes met her own green and she was privy to an almost formal thank you speech.
“Oh Aunt Willow I shall… I shall… And thank you… for everything. I shall miss you [hic] enormously! Thank you. Perhaps there will be a time I may visit you? May I write?”
“Of course sweetie, now let’s get you back to bed shall we? You can always find me on MSN or MySpace… you know that.”
Poppie was almost asleep as she was guided to her brother’s side on the mat. The fur was lifted and the two snuggled just a little, Luka appreciating the extra body heat in his sleep.
Willow sobered as she re-entered the kitchen. “I will go to the Battle Brand this week. He must have answers regarding the status of the children – particularly as you are now feeding them. Oh… but they are two such innocents… I would take Poppie back to the coven in a heart beat.”
Spike looked up hopefully, “Would that work… I mean when she’s older… with her desirin’ it? Would you be willing? Even if by then she’s vamped?”
“A vampire with a soul is always welcome. Spike you should know that.”
“Not so much welcomed though, was I?”
“Spike, you saved the world… maybe twice! That won’t be forgotten… And her signature is the same as yours… to a fault.”
Willow’s departure was a near tearful one on Spike’s part. There were so many unanswered questions, and he felt the ward drop as the SUV carrying their friend pulled off the property. They would be safe from vampires inside but the general surrounds were a different matter.
He waited patiently inside until Xander returned, kissed the human apologetically and retired to bed with his children.
Xander understood, but pulled the Spike scented covers tight for comfort.
The morning was extremely cold and it was still dark as Xander chose to run on the treadmill rather than brave the sleet. Work on their new project would be held up, he knew that, but it simply meant re ordering priorities for the day. They were nearly six weeks ahead of schedule courtesy of a dry period so the pressure was off… at least for the day.
He was deep in thought when surprised by the figure of a young girl standing mid stairway to the basement.
“Master? May I walk on that also? My walking is still not good.”
Xander could see her leaning against the wall most deliberately, but admired her determination. Stairs were the last thing one would want to tackle when just learning to walk. He stopped the treadmill and made toward her.
“Sure! Here let me help you the rest of the way.”
“No, thank you Master but Papa wants us strong, so I shall do it myself. I only have a few minutes left anyway. If you don’t mind can you turn off the light when the change comes. I have to take off my night clothes you see.”
It was Xander’s turn to blush. The girl was beautiful, just the sort Xander would never have spoken to at High School for fear of rejection, yet here she was deferring to him.
“I’ll show you how it works and give you a heads up when the sun’s on its way up. I think you have about a half hour tops.”
“Thank you Master. And thank you for all the treats you give us and for Gracie and Aunt Willow. We are very lucky to be your pets.”
Xander was a little at a loss with the last statement, “I… I think of you as my family too, just like Spike is Papa. You are more than just pets… Gahhh… You are all *so* much more.”
He left the young girl to ponder the statement, fifteen minutes later, mouth full of toast, he yelled a warning to Poppie and heard the machine turn off.
There was a slight whimper from the bedroom as the change took place and Xander entered the shower. He was at least satisfied that at least Poppie was not on the treadmill during the transformation.
A large husky made his way into the cubicle without invitation and though taking a thorough drenching, nuzzled the side of his friend’s leg. Xander would have to leave for work before they would have a chance to talk but Xander knew the reason for the affection and simply said, “You’re welcome.”
It was four weeks to the Milk Run and Christmas 'cheer' was in full swing.