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Muchas thanks to the lovely willa_writes for her beta work and suggestions, making the latest chapter of Innocence Found possible.

You can find it all from the beginning Here.

Cross posted to spuffyness and my regular journal.


Innocence Found – Chapter 7 – Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog

What to do, what to do? Thoughts of a de-chipped Spike had been a Scooby nightmare for the past two years, and now that it had become a reality, Willow was freaking out.

Five year old Spike might be adorable, and Willow wasn’t about to out and out stake him like Xander almost had earlier, but five year old un-chipped Spike was dangerous. What if he got upset because he didn’t get something he wanted? Would he suddenly attack Giles for serving something he didn’t like for breakfast? Would he go after Buffy if she decided to get pushy and bossy?

The walk home to Revello Drive strengthened her resolve. A ‘Do No Harm’ spell. Surely one of her spellbooks had a simple spell she could cast without Tara or anyone else finding out. If Spike were as harmless as Angel thought, nobody ever had to know she’d done anything because the spell wouldn’t be forced to kick in.

Willow was grateful that Tara had a late study group. If she was lucky, all the ingredients she needed for the spell would be in the house, and it would be all done by the time her girl came home. She’d promised Tara that she wouldn’t to do any magicks for a week, and felt badly about trying to sneak this in… but surely everyone would understand once she explained about Spike’s chip being gone. Even if he wasn’t scary as a little boy… he could return to normal at any moment and then where would they all be?

There was a message blinking on the answering machine:

“Hey Willow. Hoping you’ll hear me out and then erase this before anyone else has to listen. Sorry for losing it at Giles’ before. I might hate Spike, but even I can’t kill a sleeping kid when I’m rational. I don’t know why I let Deadboy push my buttons like that. Hopefully he didn’t give you too hard a time after I left.

I’ll stop by and see you later this evening. Maybe we can have a movie and popcorn night. I’m not in the mood to listen to Anya gush about how cute little Spike and Buffy are and how maybe we’ll have four of our own kids one day. I just need to chill with my bestest bud. See you later.”

Hoo boy. Someone else without a definite arrival time. Better get started with the research now.

Half an hour and several spellbooks later, the Malthian Book of Wards and Protection Spells yielded what she was looking for. With a little tweaking of the original wording, and the substitution of a personal item for several strands of hair, she was set to go.

With sacred sand, she described a pentacle on the floor, setting up candles at each of the five points. Thank the goddess she had thought to check the house for an article of Spike’s clothing. The very idea of going back to Giles’ house for any reason after her argument and speedy exit was too unsettling.

Willow folded Spike’s black shirt and placed it in the center of the pentagram, checking her watch as she lit the candles. Anxious to get this done and cleared up before anyone showed up, she still paused momentarily before actually chanting the spell, wondering if there was a difference using big Spike’s clothing for a spell on little Spike… but shrugged off her concern as this being the lesser of two evils. Protection for her friends.

In his presence – by his hand
Let no harm befall those near
Should he strike – touch more than token
Let the contact point be broken


As she completed the chant, the temperature in the room dropped at least twenty degrees and a stiff breeze arose, blowing out the candles’ flames.

Willow quickly gathered the candles and the books, locking them away in her supplies trunk. A quick once over with the vacuum and a spray of air freshener and nobody would be the wiser.
.
Good thing, too. Right on cue, no sooner had she put the vacuum cleaner into the closet than the front door opened. “It’s me, Will, I’ll be in the livingroom waitin’ on ya. No hurries on my account.”

He won’t know, he can’t tell… gotta calm down. Willow’s heart was racing a mile a minute as she went downstairs to greet her friend.

“H-hey, Xan!” she chirped, overly bright and chipper. “You look… calmer. Better than when you stormed out of Giles’ place, anyway. What have you been doing with yourself?”

“Not much of anything, Wills. I was pretty disgusted with myself when I left.” Xander looked rather nauseous at the recollection. “I would have done it, you know. Right then and there, I would have pounded that stake right through Spike and into Angel’s leg… just to hurt Angel.”

She took a deep breath. It wasn’t going to be easy to break the news about Spike now that her friend was calm. “Look, Xander… there’s a problem you need to know about.”

“Yeah, yeah. I know my temper is a problem. I am so very aware of how much of a problem it is.”

“No, no, well yeah. Temper, problem, you.” Willow was flustered, but determined. “I mean another problem with Spike. Angel removed his chip last night. It was damaged in the fall, and was firing all the time. The chip was keeping him unconscious and would have killed him eventually.”

No reaction.

“Xan-Xander?”

He shook his head slowly back and forth, eyes closed, lips firmly pressed together. “I should have killed him. He was handed to me on a silver platter, and I should have killed him. Now, any damage that’s done will be on my hands.”

“It’s not your fault. I was screaming at you not to hurt him.” Willow wrung her hands frantically, panicking over her friend’s next move. “And besides, he-he seemed so playful and shy and sweet when we watched him yesterday before the accident.”

“Damn it, Will – he’s a fucking bloodsucker! When did we change our shingle from ‘kill’ to ‘make exceptions’?” Frustration poured off the man in waves as he paced around the room. “This grey area crap is gonna get one of us killed some day. Hell, I ended up dusting Jesse without giving him a moment’s chance. Why do Angel and Spike deserve all this consideration?”

“You know Angel has a soul. I mean, I’m personally responsible for him being all soul having this time. And he fights on our side in Los Angeles with Wesley and Cordelia and some other people.”

“Okay, even though I don’t buy the whole vampire with a soul is a good thing… thing, at least he’s unique,” Xander grudgingly admitted. “But what about Spike… and I don’t mean when he’s a cutie-pie five year old. He’s a soulless vampire on an electronic leash… or at least he was. Now, thanks to Deadboy, when he’s back to normal, he’s a killing machine again.:

At least she wasn’t the only one to be worried about that. “We don’t know exactly how he’ll behave. I mean for more than two years, he’s been helping – even Buffy trusts him… and even Joyce liked him. Maybe he’s really changed.”

“And just maybe we’ll all wake up dead.” Xander’s agitation was rising by the second. “God damn it all. Sometimes I wish we’d never met Buffy. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about good vampires and bad vampires and Watchers and Slayers and resurrections and all this crap. It’s too much, Will. Just too damned much.”

“What’s too damned much?” Willow and Xander were startled into silence. They’d been so engrossed in their discussion, neither one had heard Tara walk in.

“Okay, you two look positively spooked.” Tara gratefully placed her books down on the desk, tired from an extraordinarily long day. “Why don’t I go upstairs and get ready for bed while you two finish whatever it is you were worrying about.”

Willow hoped that Tara wouldn’t pick up on her nervousness as she watched her girlfriend climb the stairs to their room. With any luck, she would be too tired to notice anything out of the ordinary. “I-I’ll be up in a few minutes, sweetie.”

She had luck, all right… all bad. Just as the redhead turned to tell Xander that perhaps this wouldn’t be the best time for a movie night after all, Tara came thundering down the stairs.

Tara’s eyes were uncharacteristically cold as she confronted Willow. “What did you do?”

Oh boy. So much for being too tired. Think, Willow, think. “Um… I vacuumed our room ‘cause the dust bunnies were starting to attack?”

“Did you really think I wouldn’t feel it, or smell it? The stink of magicks fills the room, Willow. You promised me you could go a week without it. One single week and it’s only been one day,” Tara cried. “What was so important to you that you broke your word?”

“Oh Goddess, baby. It was just a little thing – for everyone’s protection. I promise. Xander and I found out that Angel removed Spike’s chip, and…”

“And you took it upon yourself to act without consulting anyone else!” Tara fumed.

Xander backed out of the way – not wanting to get between the two witches. He’d never seen Tara so pissed off, and she was truly frightening.

“I-I have to go, Willow. I don’t kn-know if I’ll b-be back tonight. I can’t be here another moment.” Tara grabbed her backpack and slammed the door behind her.

“Holy geeze.” Xander was almost at a loss for words. “What the hell happened here?”

Willow crumpled to the floor, sobbing as though her heart was breaking. “She hates me! She’ll never forgive me!” she wailed, as Xander gathered her into his embrace. “Oh, Xander… I tried to make things safe for us all, and she won’t forgive me.”

“Calm down, kiddo,” he soothed. “Maybe you’ll feel better if you tell me what this was all about. I can’t help you if I don’t know the facts.”

Willow nodded, and proceeded with the whole sordid tale.

***

Giles was exhausted. Looking after a pair of five year olds would have been tiring for anyone, but a pair of super-active, preternaturally strong youngsters was a bit too much for the man, especially without the distraction of Willow and Xander. He had been counting on them for relief. Instead, he almost got ashes.

Xander’s reaction wasn’t totally unexpected. He’d been the most vocal opponent of the vampires’ right to exist for years now.

Willow surprised him. Giles was sure she held a soft spot in her heart for Spike, especially since she stopped her best friend from dusting the sleeping child… neither of them knew about the chip being removed. Or did they?

A quick phone call to Angel confirmed the Watcher’s worst fears. Willow knew of the chip’s status before she ran out of the house. It was the very reason she ran out of the house. Considering his own first reaction to the chip being removed, Giles supposed it wasn’t unexpected, after all.

And as much as Giles loved Xander, the man could be a mite pig-headed when it came to the subject of Spike, and he was sure Willow had run to him with the news. Would he be able to protect the little vampire from Xander, and keep Buffy safe at the same time?

Just then, his thoughts were interrupted by the children’s roughhousing. Shouts of ‘you can’t catch me,’ ‘I’m gonna get you,’ and ‘I’m soo gonna thump you when I get my hands on you’ reverberated through the halls, accompanied by the pitter patter of clumping little feet.

“Spike! Buffy! Calm down.” Giles called out to them, in the vain hope of preventing an accident. “It’s all fun and games until somebody pokes an eye out.”

The sound of their giggles came floating down from the second floor, followed immediately by the loud crash of broken glass. Giles rushed upstairs, just in time to hear a sharp crack as Spike flew backwards, away from Buffy and onto the floor, howling in pain and holding his left wrist.

“Oh for crying out loud, Buffy!” Giles picked the stunned little girl up and put her on the bed, out of the way, before making his way to a crying Spike.

He dropped to his knees in front of the boy, reaching out to wipe the tears from his face. “It will be all right, William. I’m sure Buffy didn’t mean to hurt you. Sometimes she doesn’t know her own strength. That’s why I wanted you two to be more careful.”

“I din’t do it! I din’t do nothing!” Buffy cried, almost as upset as Spike was. “I don’t hurt my friends, Mister.”

Giles knew he had to be gentle with the little vampire. With no chip in place and in pain, he might lash out, and the older man had to be prepared for the possibility. “What hurts, son?”

Spike whimpered, holding his left arm just above the wrist. “My hand is all tingly, Mi-mister Giles. I can’t move my fingers.”

“It’s probably broken, William. I’m going to have to make sure the bones are in the right place to heal, and immobilize it with a splint. Do you understand what that means?” When the boy shook his head, Giles continued. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to be very brave. When I check your wrist, it’s going to hurt quite a bit.”

Buffy scampered off the bed and stood between Spike and Giles. “I din’t hurt him before, honest Mister.” The little girl waggled her finger in Giles’ face, her other hand on her hip. “I won’t let you hurt him, either.”

“I-it’s all right, dear. I won’t hurt him on purpose,” Giles soothed. “I’m just warning him that it will hurt to straighten the broken bones to help his wrist heal. Why don’t you go sit next to him whilst I get the first aid kit?”

Appeased that her banishment to the bed was over, Buffy sat down next to Spike, just close enough for him to rest his head on her shoulder.

When Giles reappeared with the splint and kit, Tara was with him. He’d already explained what had happened, and was most grateful for her way with the children.

“Buffy, do you want to tell me what happened to Spike’s wrist?” Tara wanted to hear it from the little girl, making sure not to be accusatory.

“I din’t do nothing. Spike an’ me was running and playing catch me, and I fell into the table and knocked the lamp over. It broked.” She looked Tara directly in the eyes, her own glistening with unshed tears. “Spike tried to push me out of the way so I din’t get cut on the pieces, and he fell backwards.”

“Now Buffy, don’t make things worse by lying,” Giles chided. “I was standing here and saw you push Spike, hard.”

“N-no, Sir. You didn’t.” Spike was trying very hard not to cry out from the pain, but he couldn’t let them think ill of his only friend. “Buffy’s telling the truth. I tried to push her away from the broken pieces, but I couldn’t touch her. I got close, then my hand snapped, and I was pushed backwards. Buffy never touched me.”

“Did you smell anything funny before you were pushed, sweetie?” Tara knew his answer before he spoke, but she needed confirmation.

Spike nodded. “I smelled it before, too. When that tree lady ran away before. Smelled like burnded toast.”

“Tree lady?” Tara was momentarily confused. “Oh! You mean Willow, right? The lady with the red hair that took you to the park?”

“Yes, Willow.” He sniffled as his tears finally fell.

Tara bit her lip. She was hesitant to use any kind of magic for healing, but he had to be in so much pain… “I’m going to say a few words – a spell,” she said softly. “It should take most of the pain away. Don’t be frightened. It’s healing magick.” A few quietly mouthed words and she could see the boy visibly relax. “It’s okay to work on his wrist now, Giles. The pain should be minimal now.”

The elder man sat down in front of the little vampire and gently took his injured hand into his own, much larger hands.

Seeing that Spike was about to grab for Buffy’s hand in support, Tara quickly restrained his other arm.

“I’m so sorry, Spike. It’s not that I don’t want you holding Buffy’s hand, but I think the magicks that pushed you away from her before would do the same thing if you tried to grab at her. Let her offer her hand, and I’m sure you’ll be able to take it.”

Sure enough, when the little girl extended her hand, Spike was able to grasp it, entwining his fingers gently with hers.

Giles worked quickly, carefully pressing down on the tiny wrist, making sure things felt smooth and aligned… applying soft and steady pressure to pop a little bone back into place. Throughout the procedure, Spike was relatively calm, occasionally taking a few shallow breaths as his wrist was splinted, to cope with the slight pain. Not once did he revert to gameface, which the Watcher found amazing.

“How does your wrist feel now, son?” Giles hoped the boy wasn’t in too much discomfort.

Looking at the gauze and metal wrapped tightly around his arm, Spike cocked his head, as if waiting for his arm to tell him how it felt. “I-it feels better not moving. My head still feels fuzzy.” He winced when he tried to flex his fingers and attempted to stand, but his legs wouldn’t cooperate.

Giles swiftly picked the boy up, gently depositing him on the bed – followed immediately by his Buffy shadow. “You two wait here. Tara and I will be right back with something to drink and snacks for you both.”

As they gathered mugs and bowls for juice, blood and vanilla ice cream, Giles couldn’t help but unleash the Watcher in him. “You have to tell me just what happened, Tara… how you knew Spike was injured. Did Willow tell you she’d hurt him on purpose?”

“N-no. She and Xander were yelling when I got home, and wouldn’t answer me when I asked what was going on.” She closed her eyes for a moment, recalling the betrayal and fear she felt in what used to be her sanctuary from the world. “When I g-got to our room, I could smell the remnants of Willow’s casting.”

Tara’s eyes welled with tears. “She promised me, Giles. No witchcraft for a week. She swore on our relationship and it didn’t even last one day. I c-can’t go back there. We’re finished.”

Giles gathered the emotionally overwrought woman into his arms, thinking about the amount of physical contact he’d had in the course of two days. Maybe he wasn’t faring as well as he thought, living the life of the confirmed bachelor.

“There, there, girl.” He patted her gently on the back, soothing her like one of the children upstairs. “You’re welcome to spend the night here. As much time as you need to make other arrangements.”

“Thank you. Just… thank you.” Wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, Tara composed herself. “Let’s take this tray upstairs before they get into any more trouble.”

Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
slackerace
Jul. 1st, 2004 05:55 pm (UTC)
With a little tweaking of the original wording, and the substitution of a personal item for several strands of hair, she was set to go.

Willow and the words substitution and tweaking in the same sentence when referring to a spell = badness. I just know there is more to this...
spikes_heart
Jul. 1st, 2004 09:15 pm (UTC)
Consequences, consequences... something Willow never thought of when she acted. I think little Spike is relatively safe... for now. Now I think I just have to worry about "you know who" not acting on his rash impulses.
greenstone_j
Jul. 1st, 2004 06:07 pm (UTC)
Oh, poor little Spike. I suppose we are lucky outside the scoobies cause we know that Spike isn't just about killing and that he really is love's bitch and therefore would never hurt Buffy...*smacks Willow and Xander a little bit to feel better*
spikes_heart
Jul. 1st, 2004 09:18 pm (UTC)
Willow and Xander were always into their own heads just a little bit too much for everyone's good. I do believe we need to do something about that. I'll have to see what I can arrange. **grins**
red_sunflower
Jul. 1st, 2004 06:42 pm (UTC)
Right now I feel like hating Xander. Willow is not a bad girl but is not smart. Poor Spikey, I wish I could hold him and don't let go.
spikes_heart
Jul. 1st, 2004 09:19 pm (UTC)
Xander does have his issues, doesn't he? As for Willow... she's got to get it into her head to think before she acts for everyone else.
poetlover
Jul. 1st, 2004 06:53 pm (UTC)
I keep thinking about two quotes from the S4. Tara said that Willow was "powerful" and Willow said that she wasn't a "good witch". A powerful witch who makes huge mistakes; not of the good.

Poor Little Spike. I hope somebody sics Little Buffy on Willow. And Xander again.
spikes_heart
Jul. 1st, 2004 09:21 pm (UTC)
With Willow, I've always thought it was about the power, not the addiction. Insecurity can drive a person to the very depths of their soul in trying to gain control of things.

As for Xander... I do believe he'll have his moment, as well. **cuddles little Spike and Buffy**
poetlover
Jul. 1st, 2004 09:36 pm (UTC)
And you know, her spells always worked great when she followed them exactly or she wasn't trying to be sneaky. The soul restoration, the Katra thing, the magic against Glory, etc. But anytime she tried to tinker with a spell or be sneaky, it would usually backfire in spectacular fashion. Tara and Giles always tried to warn her about being careful with magic.

You did a very good job of capturing that in this chapter. Kudos.
ladycat713
Jul. 1st, 2004 07:53 pm (UTC)
Yet another example of Willow's control issues and addiction to power. The magic was never a problem , it was what she did with that was the problem.
spikes_heart
Jul. 1st, 2004 09:22 pm (UTC)
**nods in agreement** Power was always her issue. She was a frustrated leader, and everyone suffered for her insecurities.
(Deleted comment)
spikes_heart
Jul. 1st, 2004 09:23 pm (UTC)
Hee! I think we'll all get carpal tunnel syndrome shaking that fist at Willow before she actually gets it.
tabaqui
Jul. 1st, 2004 10:12 pm (UTC)
Actually makin' me not like Xander, here!
Gah!
He was that bad on the show, too, which truly, truly sucked. I mean, we got SEVEN YEARS of that crap.
Blah.
And Willow....
Never a favorite, but now....
Booo!
*pets Spike*
Nice chapter, deari-o, very nice.
Oooh. I bet Angel'd kick her ass.
Hehe.
spikes_heart
Jul. 1st, 2004 11:16 pm (UTC)
Xander will make a reappearance... and depending on which way the muse bounces... he might make some interesting discoveries. Believe me, I so hated him during season 6. They absolutely ruined his character. **smooches you**
tabaqui
Jul. 2nd, 2004 08:10 am (UTC)
Yeah, they did.
Oh please, let him be nicer, 'cause i hate hating him!
*bounce*
Still enjoying the story, though.
Can't wait for Giles to 'talk' to Willow about her latest spell!
meli1_77
Jul. 2nd, 2004 02:58 am (UTC)
One day Willow will learn that she can not fix everything or whatever she wants with magic. Poor lil' William, and all he was trying to do was help Buffy.
spikes_heart
Jul. 2nd, 2004 04:01 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking of borrowing a plotline from All My Children right about now. If you watch it, you'll know where I'm heading. If not... you'll see when I post. Willow needs to get it through her thick skull that everything isn't hers to manipulate.
meli1_77
Jul. 3rd, 2004 12:20 am (UTC)
I no longer watch AMC. I think the last time I really watched it was when SMG was on there. I'mm looking forward to seeing what happens then.
ex_just_kumi863
Jul. 2nd, 2004 04:59 am (UTC)
I just found your story and read the first seven chapters all in one good. Looks really interesting and I can't imagine what Willow's spell is going to do to the magic already surrounding Spike. Adored Angel's soft spot for his grandchilde.

Was a bit worried about how the kids were going to talk at first (I've got a five and four old and most writer shoot for that age but have the kids talking like three 2 or 3) but I think you got them at the right developmental age.

I just friend you so I don't miss any more
spikes_heart
Jul. 2nd, 2004 06:39 pm (UTC)
So glad you found me, Kumi! And that you like my story. As for the kids' speech? I am desperately trying to pull on my memories of my own kids at five. They're now 21 and 25... so it's a helluva pull... but thanks for telling me I'm in the ballpark. It's a struggle to keep them from sounding too babyish.

Hope you like what's coming up for them all.
jesse_kips
Jul. 2nd, 2004 06:07 pm (UTC)
Once again a fantastic chapter! I'm loving your portrayal of the super charged children, and your Willow is just spot on - still thinking that magic can solve every little thing, and she always knows what's best!
My heart breaks for poor Tara, she deserves much better treatment!
And what will happen with Xander? He's crazy with the hatred, and that won't mix well with Angel in poppa bear mode!

*Loved*
spikes_heart
Jul. 2nd, 2004 06:48 pm (UTC)
I'm so pleased you're enjoying it... me, too! As for Angel in protective mode? I don't thing we've seen the last of him. Nuh uh.

Working on the Xander and Willow bits as we speak. Hope I get them to listen to reason.
(Deleted comment)
spikes_heart
Nov. 21st, 2006 09:44 am (UTC)
Glad you still find them in character. Not as easy as I used to envision it being.
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )