Reclamation is the sequel to Innocence Found, which can be found Here.
Crossposted to spuffyness and my regular journal.
Once again, kisses and kudos to willa_writes for her wonderful beta work and support!
Reclamation – Chapter 4 – Little Things Mean a Lot
The complaints started immediately after breakfast:
“Buuu-ffy,” Rupert whined. “Willow keeps taking the books I want to read, and won’t give them back!”
“Spiii-ike,” Xander howled. “Rupert hid all of the cookies. He called me a piggie and kept oinking at me!”
“Taaaa-ra,” cried Willow. “Angel’s hogging all of the crayons, the big meanie!”
“Buffy, Buffy, Buuu-ffy,” Angel nagged. “Nobody will sit still and let me draw them.”
Buffy held her hands over her ears. The sheer racket created by four children whining at one time was about to break her where greater demons couldn’t. Something had to be done, and fast, before she lost what little was left of her already precarious sanity.
“Taaaa-ra,” she yelled over the children’s voices. “I think it’s time we break up the unholy Brady Bunch. How does a field trip to the library sound to you?”
The beleaguered young woman wrestled her way toward the livingroom with Willow in her arms and Xander pulling on her skirt. “Goddess, Buffy… getting out of the house sounds wonderful. But what about Angel?”
Buffy considered that. “I think we can handle him. Think you can handle three kids on your own?”
“How much trouble could they get into in a library?” Tara smiled, picturing a nice, peaceful couple of hours amongst the books and the quiet.
“Great. Then Spike and I will keep Angel entertained. God willing, we’ll figure out something to all do together once it gets dark.”
Tara gathered her charges together and herded them upstairs to get washed and dressed for their outing. After saying their goodbyes to Tara and her troop of mini-mites Spike and Buffy assured Angel that they would spend the next few hours any way he wanted.
Angel, however, sat himself down on the bottom step and pouted, looking for all the world as if he’d lost his best friend.
“What’s the matter, kiddo?” Buffy tried to catch the little boy’s interest, but he wouldn’t even look at her.
Spike knew. Knew what it felt like to be left out of the group – left behind. He picked the little dark-haired tyke up and settled him on his hip. “Don’t be so glum, mate. I can’t go with the others for the same reason as you… Mr. Sunshine makes us dusty.”
He slipped into gameface and snarled, giving Angel the vampiric equivalent of a raspberry on his belly. The little boy also dropped into gameface, growling back in-between giggles.
Buffy watched the interplay between the two vampires and smiled. Amazing what a little wish could do in eliminating over a century’s worth of hatred and antagonism. Now if only the lessons learned would stick when her friends returned to normal!
She did have hope. Things were certainly different between herself and Spike since their kiddie days. Okay, make that exceedingly different, if you want to count their shower interruptus from the other day. Would it really be too much to ask that her friends and possible, probable lover get along? For however long it lasted? For however long she lasted?
“So, l’il Fang, what’s your pleasure?” asked Spike, looking deeply into the small vampire’s amber gaze.
Angel brought his hand up to trace Spike’s furrowed brow ridges and frowned. “You an’ me have two faces. Does Buffy?”
“One word, Spike… just one word, and I can guarantee that raincheck we have for our interrupted shower will never, ever be cashed.” Hands on her hips, Buffy’s attitude and promise were very effective weapons in keeping the vampire’s mouth shut.
Nothing could stop him from chuckling, however. “Nah, pet. She’s only got the one pretty face you see before you,” Spike chortled. “You an’ me, we’re vampires… everyone else is human.”
“Can I touch?” Angel asked, reaching out for Buffy.” He ran his fingers gently over Buffy’s nose, cheeks, and forehead with his right hand, while continuing his examination of Spike’s face with his left.
“I want to draw you both. So I can remember everybody when Aunty Cordelia comes to take me home.”
Buffy clapped her hands with a sudden burst of enthusiasm. “Oh, Angel… you gave me a great idea! We can all go for a picture sitting at the mall. I think everybody would want to remember you, too.
Pleased that he gave Buffy a good idea, the little vampire turned his explorations to his own gameface, then his human mask. With a thoughtful expression, he said: “I wish I knew what my two faces look like. I can’t even comb my hair in the mirror. I look and look but I’m not there.”
“Well, we can fix that!” Rummaging around for her camera, Buffy took a half roll of pictures of Spike and Angel both in and out of gameface and promised to have them developed as soon as someone could get to the mall. Contented then, Angel spent the rest of the afternoon sketching Buffy and Spike, both posed and candid images, as they waited for their friends to come home from the library.
Sunnydale’s Wilkins Library was an imposing structure. In an attempt to imitate New York City’s 42nd Street Library, a pair of lions had been commissioned to stand guard on either side of the entrance. Unfortunately they looked more like gargoyles than lions, and most people shuddered subconsciously as they passed by.
Not mini-Giles. Running up to the lion on the right of the door, Rupert would not be cowed. He climbed up onto the stone animal’s back and beat at his little chest. “Grrrrrowr! I am the great hunter. All animals fear me as I tame this wild beast!” He jumped down from the lion’s back, and started to climb into its gaping maw.
Tara pulled him out by the seat of his pants. For some unknown reason, terror gripped at her, urging her to remove the boy from any possible danger. This was Sunnydale, after all. You never knew when the statuary would come to life and devour you.
Once inside, however, there was a relievingly different aesthetic. Warm and inviting, with lovingly polished woods and soft carpeting, especially in the children’s section. With deep gold carpeting and blond wood chairs, tables and shelves; the area practically glowed in invitation to sit and enjoy the books on display.
Tara led her charges to a small table and pulled out a small chair for each child. After searching through the shelves and calling out the names of several books, they all agreed on Wind in the Willows, because the name matched that of their friend. Willow climbed into Tara’s lap instead of staying on her chair, needing to be close to someone willing to give her the time of day.
THE Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms.”
The little redhead sighed and snuggled into the warmth of her bosom, feeling safe and relaxed and wanted!
“ Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said `Bother!'
She smiled down at the little redhead in her embrace. So sweet and innocent, and entirely happy with a few crumbs of affection and attention – no need to bend things to her will.
Tara looked up to see how the other children were enjoying her storytelling abilities. Hmm. Apparently, not so much. Xander was passed out with his head cradled in his arms on the table. Maybe Wind in the Willows wasn’t to everyone’s taste.
And Rupert was… missing. A quick, panicked glance around found the boy climbing the stacks, aiming for some Winnie the Pooh figurines on the top shelf.
Oh, for crying out loud. “Rupert! Get down from there!” Tara whispered harshly, pulling him down for the second time in less than an hour by the seat of his pants. “If you’re not interested in what I’m reading, go and pick out a book of your own.”
Annoyed, the little boy promptly threw a tantrum. “I’m bored!” he yelled, loudly enough to be shushed by some of the other nearby patrons. “The library is a place for Poofs! I hate books. They’re no fun and I want to go out and play, instead!”
“When it’s dark enough for Angel and Spike to go outside safely, we’ll all do something together,” Tara promised. “You’ll have all the fun you can handle. But for now, I need you to sit and behave. Can you do that for me?”
Disgusted, but mollified for the moment with the promise of some good, rowdy playtime, Rupert settled down at the table. He nestled his head in his hands as he listened to Tara continue reading, meek as a mouse – but unbeknownst to her, the tail end of the Piglet figurine from the display peeked out of his back pocket.
Watching Spike act all fatherly with a pint-sized Angel was creating havoc with Buffy’s emotions. Yes, she knew he was a vampire and unable to procreate… and vampire children remained children until they dusted… but there were other ways to have children in their lives, and where the hell had that thought come from?
Outside of a heated, hours long grope on a motorcycle and an almost touchy feely shower, they hadn’t even been intimate with each other yet, and there she was thinking of having children with him. Rushing things much?
Again her eyes strayed to the two vampires rolling all over the livingroom carpet. Angel’s drawings had finally been abandoned for the more manly pursuit of the tickle-fest going on now. It all seemed so normal. Well, normal for her, anyway.
Twenty two years old, and instead of being in college like normal girls her age, her life revolved around cemeteries, demons, and magicks that turned adults into children and back again. So maybe, just… maybe… thinking of a future with a vampire and kids wasn’t so outlandish after all.
Buffy’s thoughts were interrupted by a shriek of laughter from Angel, as Spike had found a particularly vulnerable spot in his ribcage. She sighed, deeply. They just didn’t make vampires like they used to.
After dinner, Tara explained her promise to Rupert, and the other children. Frazzled, she tried to be patient in explaining that they really needed a physical outlet for all of their energy. It was unnatural for children to be so housebound.
So, Buffy took the lead – and Giles’ credit card – and had Spike drive them all to WalMart. Scarily, she no longer had to ask where the kiddy sections were.
“I know you guys have been bored and tonight I want to change things. Anyone have idea on what they’d like to do? I know a place where we can run and play and get dirty and just have some real fun.”
“Can we get a ball to play catch?” Willow asked timidly; not wanting to ask for too much.
Rupert snorted. “Catch is for babies. I want something for bigger kids.”
“Catch is okay,” said Xander, secretly happy that Willow had picked something easy. He never was one for outdoor activities.
Noting a brightly colored display, Buffy felt inspired. “Tell you what, guys… why don’t you just trust Auntie Buffy and go back to the car with Tara. Spike and I will bring you all a nice surprise for our play date.”
Once the kids were out of sight, Buffy showed Spike the display of skates. “If this doesn’t tire them all out, nothing will. And look,” she said, holding out a pair of pink skates with daisies as decorations, “they’re all adjustable so we can’t mess up the sizes.”
With a mischievous glint in his eyes, Spike challenged: “Think you can keep your luscious backside off the ground, Princess?”
“Better than you can, Bony Butt.”
“Care to wager, Slayer? Bet your ass will hit the ground more times than mine?”
Buffy giggled, finding the whole situation hysterical. “And just what’s at stake with this wager? Ooooh, I know,” she exclaimed, her eyes glittering with anticipation, “You’ll be my willing slave for a week. Cooking, washing, cleaning, bathing, massaging… and whatever other ‘ing I can think of. Acceptable?”
“And when I win?”
“Like that’s ever gonna happen.”
“Be that way, Slayer. But when I do win… what’s in it for me?”
With a swish of her hips and a saucy smile, Buffy tossed a pair of skates in her size into the cart. “Tell you what, Spike. Since I’m so sure you’re not gonna win, why don’t we name your stakes after the fact. Sort of anything goes?”
This was going to be fun. “You’re playin’ a dangerous game, pet. But I’ll bite. When I win, I’ll name my prize.”
The car pulled up to the USC track. Well lit despite being deserted, the track was the perfect place to keep the kiddies safely contained and entertained.
The children were thrilled with Buffy’s surprise gifts. Even little Willow’s eyes lit up when Tara laced up her daisy covered pink skates. She stood shakily, hanging onto Tara’s skirts with a deathgrip. Eventually, though, she was able to relax enough to skate slowly around the track on her own.
Rupert, Xander, and Angel chased Buffy around the track, shrieking with glee every time she doubled back and came up behind them. It wasn’t so much of a race as it was a test of endurance. Skate as hard and as long as you can, and stay up on your feet.
Having as much fun as the children, Spike skated circles around everyone; vampiric grace keeping him on his feet. He dropped his human mask and chased after each child, scooping them up in his arms and giving them a complete lap around the track. Their happy squeals echoed in the night.
Buffy kept a careful eye on her free-wheeling vampire. So far, neither one of them had fallen. Spike didn’t know of her ice skating background and the unfair advantage she was sure she’d have over him, but his natural grace seemed to translate well into his own ability to stay upright.
She took a break from chasing the boys around. They seemed to be happy skating on their own, with the occasional goose from Spike. As for Willow, after the first time Spike picked her up and she screamed in terror, his approach became much gentler, and eventually she stood in the middle of the track, awaiting his next pass.
After a few hours, Tara and Buffy found themselves sitting on the grass to one side, watching Spike still skating up a storm with the kids. Apparently, they weren’t the only ones with an overabundance of energy.
Tara sighed, rolling over onto her belly and propping her hands up to support her chin. “They’re beautiful, aren’t they? No hatred, no hostility, and most of all no prejudice.”
“Yeah,” Buffy agreed. “In a way, it’s a shame they couldn’t start all over again. We could give them the love and understanding they missed the first time around.”
“Well, we do have a couple more days with them. Maybe they’ll remember some of this when they’re back to themselves.” Tara took Buffy’s hand in hers and looked into her eyes. “After all, look at the differences in you and Spike. Neither one of you is the same since your childhood romp.”
“It’s something we can hope for, Tara. It certainly can’t be any worse than it was before my wish.”
Finally, the children were worn out, and ready to go home for a night’s sleep. Gathering everyone together for the car ride, Buffy’s thoughts were elsewhere as she was about to step into the car. To her surprise, she slipped - and fell.
Right in front of Spike!