FYI... Willa is now 11 years old, and Tyler and Tara are 6 years old. Time is flying by for the Bennetts.
You can find the story from the beginning Here.
Cross posted to warm_and_fuzzy and my regular journal.
What Dreams May Bring – Chapter 12A – Circle of Life
January 2015 – They Say It’s Your Birthday
Buffy sits on the corner of their bed, ghosting her hand over Spike’s emaciated face. Never in a million years will she get used to body heat emanating from her husband. It’s just not natural. She’s so focused on her spouse that the sound of the door opening doesn’t register.
Hurrying up the stairs, Dawn rushes to her sister’s side, while Willow slips around to sit by Spike, wondering what could affect the vampire to such a degree.
His color is off. She’s never seen him quite so pink before, and his breathing is rapid and shallow. Wait a minute…
“How long has Spike been like this?” Take it slow, Will – Buffy looks like she’s at the end of her rope.
Buffy raises her head from her sister’s shoulder, trying to figure out what her friend is talking about. She’s still finding it hard to believe she’s not alone at the moment. It’s been so long since she’s actually spoken to anyone.
“Oh, you mean Spike’s color? Or the sweat? He’s been feverish on and off all year. It’s nowhere near as high as his last fever…”
Willow shook her head. “No, silly goose. How long has he been breathing?”
What kind of question is that? “Spike usually breathes in his sleep. Something you’d never have the chance to notice, but I’m used to it.”
“Oookay…” Nervous but trusting a feeling, Willow places her hand on the center of Spike’s chest.
Buffy turns, unable to wrap her mind around what she’s seeing. “What’s with the touchy-feely?”
Grabbing Buffy’s hand, Willow places it palm down on Spike’s chest, where her hand has just been. Before she can remove it from shock, a warm wrist clasps around her own, and Buffy looks into her husband’s eyes for the first time in weeks.
“Bloody hell. Why is it that every time I try an’ sleep, someone’s pokin’ or grabbin’ at me? Can’t a sick man rest in peace?”
Dawn squeals. She may be twenty-eight years old, but the shock has her reverting to her old, childish habits. “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!”
Spike attempts to sit up and fails; still too weak to move even his diminished body weight. There’s also the issue of Buffy’s hand not moving from his chest. Suddenly, things click into place… Dawn, Willow… “How long have I been out of it this time, luv?”
The news that he’s been out cold for at least two weeks leaves Spike speechless. The fact that he’s surrounded by women who can’t keep their hands off him has him flummoxed. Not that he minds, much… but Dawn groping him gives him a slight case of the wiggins.
“I know I’m a beauty, pet,” he says to his wife, “but what’s with the group groping?”
The women giggle. The look on Spike’s face is priceless.
“You really can’t tell, can you?” Dawn smiles, torn between amazement and the need to write this all down for the record.
Buffy places his hand over his heart, and waits for the light of recognition to set in. One… two… beautiful!
His eyes widen and a soft “Ohhhh” escapes his lips. Alive. He is alive! A real boy at last. In the space of two heartbeats, he realizes he’s wanted it all along. To grow old with his wife in the natural order of things. With any luck, he won’t be stuck watching everyone wither and die along with Angel. Immortality isn’t the boon people think, when everyone you care about is mortal.
“The mites? Where are the kidlets?” he asks.
Spike manages to sit up, feeling an uncomfortable pressure in his lower abdomen. For the first time in one hundred and thirty five years, he has to pee. Blessedly, he makes it to the bathroom without embarrassing himself.
While the happy couple is in the bathroom getting Spike all clean and smell-free in the shower, phone calls go out to everyone who cares. Willow calls Xander, and speaks to Willa, who spreads the happy news with glee.
Dawn opens her laptop, and sends messages to Andrew and Giles. Just that Spike’s doing better. The rest will be told in person.
Waiting for Angel to arrive with a doctor versed in the unusual, Willow does some testing of her own. Spike still has his soul, still has his demon, but can’t go into gameface. From reading his aura, it appears the demon is fully integrated into Spike’s system. He’s more like Buffy now – a true hybrid.
Spike’s head reels with the information. To not become a burden to his wife and family… to be able to protect them as he always has… this is a blessing. With the added bonus of being able to do it in the sunshine, as well.
The doctor’s exam reveals Spike is indeed human. A few drops of blood show no trace of vampirism left in his system. Apparently, the fevers he’s suffered from all year purified his system. Painful, but effective.
Angel’s sub-vocal growl is heard throughout the examination.
“I didn’t ask for this, mate. If it’ll make you feel any better, you can dance on my grave when the time comes.”
The growling stops. The sobering thought of Spike dying for a final time is enough to stop any petty jealousy over losing the Shanshu. Angel can’t suffer the loss of another family member.
“Listen up, Broodypants.” Two strides and Spike’s directly in front of his erstwhile grandsire. “Vampire or not, we won’t stop bein’ family. Come too far over the past years to be anything but, yeah?”
The elder vampire doesn’t know how to handle this. Vampire or human, Spike is meant to drive him insane. Confusion is evident on his face.
“All I ever wanted is to be loved, Angelus. To have family. Do you think I’m goin’ to let you go now? After all the crap is behind us?”
A firm hug and a kiss to Angel’s cheek caps the discussion.
February 2015 – Hello, It’s Me
FamilyGuy: Allo, Poppet.
ShiningStar04: Papa? You changed your screen name! It’s true then? What Will said?
FamilyGuy: How would… nevermind, sweeting. I forget that our little Will’s all-knowing about people. Saved little Sis, after all. It’s true – all human and sun loving now.
**ShiningStar04 signed off at 07:11:05 PM**
**ShiningStar04 returned at 7:38:31 PM**
FamilyGuy: You okay, mite? Want to talk over the phone instead?
ShiningStar04: Do you still love me, Papa?
FamilyGuy: How can you ask me that, Willa?
ShiningStar04: I still have demon in me, and you don’t. Who is my real Papa… you or the demon?
Spike stares at the AIM box… and wonders how to answer his baby. No, obviously she’s not a baby anymore – she’s really thinking about her existence. He’s not even sure, himself. He was a vampire when she is conceived… man and demon.
FamilyGuy: Dunno about the actual biology, sweet girl. Also, don’t care. I’ll always be your Papa. Feelings don’t change.
ShiningStar04: You won’t hate me for having demon in me? And Mama? Now that you’re both human and I’m not?
FamilyGuy: Phhht. You’re human, pet. Just with… extras.
**ShiningStar04 signed off at 08:09:45 PM**
**ShiningStar04 returned at 8:12:04 PM**
ShiningStar04: Papa, I can’t talk now. My chest hurts. **sniffles**
FamilyGuy: Mite… go talk to Molly right now. I’ll be right over.
ShiningStar04: NO!!!! Stay home, Papa. Please. Don’t come. I’ll talk to Auntie Molly. I promise.
**ShiningStar04 signed off at 08:15:33 PM**
Buffy finds her husband crying at the computer desk, head in his hands. “What’s wrong, my love? Something with the children?”
He points to the screen – the AIM conversation still staring at him, accusingly.
“Oh, Spike.” Buffy sighs, wrapping her arms around his trembling shoulders. “She just needs some time to understand. And she’s growing up, herself.”
Spike’s stomach clenches. His daughter’s eleventh birthday is in three days, and he hasn’t seen her in almost two months. She’s afraid of him. Even through the bloody computer he could feel her terror and the haste of her retreat.
Working through this isn’t going to be easy, Buffy realizes. For all his years of experience as a vampire, Spike’s a newly minted human being now, no matter how human he’s been.
“We’ll find some way to make this right, baby. You know how much Willa loves you.”
“Yeah, which me? The demon or the man?” echoing his daughter’s question.
Willa tentatively walks into her house, while Uncle Xander sits outside in the car. “Mama? Papa? Is anyone home?”
Mama flies down the stairs, wrapping her arms around her daughter in a joyful embrace. “What a
surprise, sweetie. How did you get here? Uncle Xander?”
She nods slowly, “I n-need to see Papa. We were talking on the IM yesterday and I shut it down on him. I know I hurt his feelings.”
“He’s upstairs in the office. Papa isn’t sure you’d want to see him so he’s waiting for you to decide.”
Swallowing hard, Willa makes her way upstairs.
Papa stays seated and Willa doesn’t go to him. Both are too nervous for the hugs and kisses each crave. When he can’t stand the silence any longer, Papa speaks first. “It’s good to see you, sweeting. Mama and I’ve missed you so…”
Willa’s eyes tear up and her breath hitches in her chest. She’s sure the bruised look around her Papa’s eyes is her fault.
His baby is fighting herself, trying to act all grown up when all she wants is to be Papa’s beloved little girl again. So Spike takes a chance – slowly walking over to his daughter.
“Why did you come here, Willa?” asks Papa.
The young girl sniffles; the wall holding back her emotions crumbling fast. “I-I don’t w-want things to be different, Papa. I want to still love you… you are still you, right?”
“I feel warmer, an’ sometimes my heart beats so loud I swear it blocks out the telly. And I do have to go to the bloody loo like everyone else now.” Papa hugs his not so little girl tightly, relief flooding through him when she hugs back. “As for how I feel about my family? Nothing different. I’ll always love you.”
“Will says you’re scared, too. That you think it’s going to be hard to be around everyone when you’re so changed.”
She reaches out, running her hand through newly bleached hair that’s grown back enough to curl around her fingers. “You look like Papa, again,” she whispers, relief evident. “You’ve been gone for so long.”
“My sweet girl,” he murmurs tenderly, “I didn’t mean to frighten you or the little mites so. An’ I’m feelin’ better every day. You’ll all come home, soon. When you’re ready.”
“Can we have dinner at home for my birthday? Together?” Willa asks. “With cake?”
February 13th finds the Bennetts gathered together for the first time in months. Willa’s requested meal of baked ziti is sitting center-stage on the dining table, with a huge platter of garlic bread on the side.
The dinner is pleasant enough… everyone’s forks going from plate to mouth with relish, but something isn’t right. Until… the first piece of ziti lands on Willa’s cheek with a **plop.**
A small cry of outrage escapes her lips as she looks around for the perpetrator of the crime. Nobody acknowledges the drippy red sauce running down her neck and into her new sweater.
A slight shaking of the shoulders gives away Tyler and several pieces of ziti leave Willa’s fork, heading in his direction. Unfortunately, Tara gets caught in the crossfire. Tara lets loose her own dinner barrage, catching Papa in the chest, and the children freeze – unsure of his reactions to the horseplay.
Quick as a wink, Papa grabs his wife and hugs her tightly, squashing the ziti between their bodies, making a complete and total mess.
Oh yeah! Same old Papa. Just like that the tension breaks and more food flies around the room. Even the cats get into the act.
Mama fetches the birthday cake once the dining room is clean and everyone has washed and changed. It’s a beautiful creation… the top looks like a garden with sugar flowers, butterflies, and grass.
Willa cuts the first slice, and hands it over to Papa, herself. “I want to come home, Papa. That’s what I want for my present this year.”
A look passes between Mama and Papa, and they silently come to the same conclusion. It’s time for their family to be reunited. As soon as it’s school break, the Bennett children will come home.
“Birthday wish granted,” says Papa.
March 2015 – The Waltons
It’s a big day for everyone; Tara, Tyler and Willa move back home. The sun shines brightly and Buffy sets out a blanket in the backyard for a picnic lunch. Spike lounges shirtless on their brand new hammock, relishing the warmth of the sun that’s been so long denied.
“Mama! Papa! We’re home!!” The kids barrel into the yard, followed by the Harrises. Molly carries a basket full of fried chicken to add to Buffy’s festive spread.
Spike joins the little group on the blanket, grinning broadly from ear to ear. Sun, friends, family… he couldn’t ask for anything more.
“You do know how much you’re freaking me out, Spike?” Xander exclaimed, clapping his friend on the back. “Seeing your pasty bod in the sun is doing things to me.”
The eloquence of raised eyebrows all around has him replaying his words.
“Oh for… I mean it’s giving me the wiggins, and you know it. I’ve known you for eighteen years, and this is the first time I’ve seen you in sunlight.”
Spike preens. “Wanna tell me if I freckle, Harris?”
The sniggering increases the blush blooming on Xander’s cheeks as he hands a gift wrapped package to the ex-vampire.
Spike shreds the paper – as eager to get to the contents as any child to get to the prezzie inside. Pulling the tissue paper open, he sees a black t-shirt. All well and good – black is still his favorite color most of the time.
“Open it, you moron. It’s not like a plain black shirt is anything special,” Xander coaxes.
Emblazoned across the front of the shirt in red and yellow lettering are the words: “The Phoenix,” right across the chest.
Spike looks at his friend’s expectant face and chuckles, eventually turning into a deep belly laugh.
“What’s so funny?”
Buffy’s eyes sparkle as she watches the interaction between the men. There are some days she delves far back into her memories and remembers their seething hatred. This is so much better.
She’s died twice, but Spike has her beat. His original death, a re-souling in Africa, his dusting in the Hellmouth, back as a ghost and then undead again, and now a re-birth back to humanity. Even she got the shirt humor.
Spike’s laughter draws the children; each looking at the happy man before them. Tyler starts the dogpile. When Spike emerges, kidlets flying everywhere…his happiness matches his wife’s.
Happy hugs end the day as Xander, Molly, Treena, and Will go home, leaving the Bennett family intact. As if no time has passed, their nighttime rituals go smoothly… bathing, teeth, stories and kisses before the lights go out.
Mama and Papa aren’t sure what to expect from the troops, but hope for a peaceful night. A half hour later, Tara’s voice rings out: “Night, Papa.” “Night, pet.” “Night, Mama.” “Night, sweetie.”
Five minutes later, the words are seconded by Tyler, and in another fifteen… by Willa.
Life is good on Walton Mountain for Willa, Tyler, Tara and their parents.
April 2015 – You’ve Just Turned Human… What Are You Going to Do Now?
The kids are in school, Buffy and Molly have a planning session for a possible new book, and Spike and Xander decide to take advantage of a glorious Spring day and have themselves some boy time.
And yes, that’s boy time. A few hours in the Xandermobile lands them at the gates of the happiest place on earth: Disneyland. Spike is entranced by the sights and sounds of the park during the day. It’s like a first visit for him, and he and Xander are determined to see as much of the park as they possibly can in one day.
They head for their first ride: Teacups! Spike’s not sure what he’s capable of in the strength department anymore – he’s still recovering from his resurrection – but he’s fast. Faster than Xander, anyway.
Fairly strong, too – if their opposing grips on the turning mechanism are any indication. Not as strong as two vampires against one human… but if Xander’s eyes rolling back in his head are any indication… stronger than Xander, too.
When the ride is over, Spike endures several choruses of “Wuss” from his companion He needs to regain his equilibrium by sitting on one of the nearby park benches.
Both men conclude that Disney is a sadistic demon for having developed the ride as they wobble away from the ride. Preferably towards something slow. And not spinning.
Spike’s newly human constitution has a lot to learn about the physics of an amusement park, and to borrow a phrase from his wife: ‘Spike and spinning rides are not mixy.’ When his complexion is closer to peach than pea, the men head over to a costume photo booth.
They turn to each other, each raising an eyebrow in a silent dare. A half hour later, they have presents for their families.
It’s an utterly glorious day. No wives, no children… just another guy to be rude and crude with. They go on anything that doesn’t spin – even that blasted “It’s a Small World” ride. They make it bearable by keeping up a running commentary on places Spike has visited, and Xander keeps waiting for the little dolls to pick up their skirts. It’s good to be manly men.
The rest of the day is spent just enjoying the sunshine. Spike buys sunglasses to protect his still sensitive eyes, and the woman in the shop tells them they make a lovely couple.
By the time they leave, the sun has long since set. Xander drives home while Spike drifts in and out of a light sleep. All that fun and sun has left him as sleepy as the twins after a day in the park.
A gentle nudge does absolutely nothing to awaken Sleeping Beauty, so Xander resorts to a more manly measure: the time honored wet willie. Sure enough, Spike awakens with a splutter, frantically digging in his ear to remove the moisture.
He gathers his packages together and stumbles out of the car, no words necessary as the friends part.
“What did you bring me?” “Ooooh! Anything for me?” “Gimme, gimme, gimme!” Never let it be said that the Bennett’s angels wouldn’t have made Anya proud with their enthusiastic greeting.
“Let Papa inside, and maybe he’ll show you,” laughed Mama.
Assorted t-shirts are pulled out and admired; a Tinkerbelle necklace for Tara; a set of Mickey Mouse pens for Tyler; a Belle figurine for Willa, who looks at her Papa with adoration for understanding her so deeply.
Spike tells his wife she’ll get her prezzie later. She laughs when she sees the foil packets with Mickey printed on the front.
May 2015 – A Young Man’s Fancy
Graduation day for the kindergarten class and all the youngsters are dressed in their best. No gowns, but mortarboards are handed out to everyone. Traditional blue with a white tassel. Miss Soutar has them line up for a class picture.
While waiting to be called for their ‘diplomas’, Will turns to the girl on his left; Gracie Peterson. She’s a cute little thing with curly brown ringlets, and Will falls hard for her little smiles.
He doesn’t notice Tara beginning to stew over all the attention no longer turned in her direction. He doesn’t seem to notice Tara at all.
When the ceremony is finished and the kids rejoin their families for an outdoor buffet, Tara clings to her Mama. Will invites her to join him and a few others in a game of ball, but she takes one look at Gracie waiting with the others, and refuses to talk to him.
Shrugging off Tara’s attitude, Will heads back to his friends for a spirited game of catch.
Mama notices the exchange between the children, but says nothing – hoping things will straighten out all on their own.
Tyler tries to snap his sister out of her funk but is unsuccessful.
The car ride home is too quiet, and Tara runs to her room without speaking another word when they get home. She slams the connecting wall shut for privacy and cries her little heart out to Harry. Once the tears have stopped, she rips into the little stuffed hedgehog, remembering all the years Will had it, because she’d given it to him when his arm is broken.
Mama knocks on the door before entering, and gets hit in the head with one of Harry’s little paws. She sits down on the bed and listens to her daughter’s tale of woe.
Oh, my sweet little girl! It starts so early these days. Things were much simpler when boys had the cooties. “What’s the matter, sweetie?” she asks, picking up the little felt paw from the ground.
Tara sniffles. “Will’s a poopy-head! He doesn’t like me anymore,” she cries. “I saw him playing with Gracie Peterson all day, and he forgot all about me.”
“I’m sure that’s no true, Tara. Will can have other friends… other girls as friends. You’re only six years old.”
“Then why does it hurt so much, Mama? Will is my friend.”
Mama sighs, and hugs her tightly.
June 2015 - Woman
“Mama, I don’t feel well,” Willa announces when she walks into the kitchen. “My stomach aches, and I’m so very tired.”
Pressing her lips to her daughter’s head, Mama doesn’t note a fever. She pulls back, looking at Willa’s general appearance.
She’s grown at least four inches in the past month or so, and developed a bit of pudginess around… Aha! Buffy’s so thrilled they’ve already had the birds and bees discussion. It makes this so much easier.
“You know your body’s been changing,” Mama says, “Maybe you’re getting your period. Let’s go look at that kit you sent for.”
My First Period. Pink letters painted on a white plastic case. Buffy is grateful that Children’s Digest recognizes the varying age of the onset of menstruation and carries the ad in a magazine for pre-teens.
There are several different sanitary pads of varying thicknesses, a couple of slim sized tampons, a box of Midol, and several pamphlets: The Onset Of Puberty, Becoming A Woman, and Your Period And You.
Mama explains the cramps will ease once her period begins to flow, and about the discomfort of the pads, but stops short when she sees Willa’s face pale regarding the tampons.
Several weeks later, Willa and Mama find themselves in the backyard, silently weeding the flowerbeds that border the house. Something is definitely up, since gardening in any form is the most hated chore in Willa’s repertoire.
“Mama, I got my period two days ago,” Willa says softly, unable to look her mother in the eyes.
Buffy simply smiles. Her baby is growing up so quickly. “Do you feel all right, sweetie?” is all she can ask.
Willa nods. “We need to go shopping for…”
Gardening gloves and tools are forgotten, as mother and daughter take a trip to the drugstore.