You can find the story in its entirety Here.
Cross posted to warm_and_fuzzy and my regular journal.
What Dreams May Bring – Chapter 12B – Circle of Life
July 2015 – It’s A Family Affair
Slaybelle: Squee! I can’t believe the boys are coming for a visit. How’d you manage to talk Andrew into making the trip by himself with four two year olds?
1000Eyes: **snickers** Buffy, we’ve been married for two years. I have ways of making my husband do anything I want. Besides, you do remember Andrew’s co-Watcher-in-training is flying with him.
Slaybelle: Oh yeah… Martin… Melvin…
1000Eyes: Marcus, you senile bint!
Slaybelle: That’s it! You have to move back… you sound too much like Spike.
1000Eyes: You do say the sweetest things, Sis. Miss you.
Slaybelle: Wish you were coming home…
1000Eyes: **pouts** Me, too. That’s why Andy’s bringing the boys… I don’t even have time to see them right now. Stupid prophesies are taking up all our time.
Slaybelle: Did I ever mention how much…
1000Eyes: Yeah, yeah… how much you HATE prophesies? Heard it all before.
Slaybelle: **rolls eyes** Anyway… Spike’s at the airport now, waiting for the flight to land.
1000Eyes: Bet you still can’t get over him going out in the sunlight without a blanket.
Slaybelle: Heh… it’s wonderful, Dawnie. Best of all are the times he’s out with the kids. Zoo trips are a real blast.
1000Eyes: Oh! Got the piccie of Spike and Xan at Disneyland. Gods, they make a pretty pair of cowboys.
Slaybelle: **snickers** The girl who sold Spike the sunglasses told ‘em they made a lovely couple. They’re still laughing about it. Sometimes I wonder about those two…
1000Eyes: La la la… not listening. Nope! Not my virgin ears.
“We’re home, pet! Come greet the nephews,” Spike calls from downstairs.
Slaybelle: They’re here! Gotta go now. Love you!!! And btw, your ears are about as virgin as your…
1000Eyes: Bye, Buff! I’ll talk to the guys later. Kiss my boys for me.
Andrew is kneeling, surrounded by four identical little tots all wearing London Fog rain slickers. They turn en masse at his signal and chorus: “Allo, Aun’ Buffy.”
Enchanted, Buffy helps to unbutton the boys’ coats, running her fingers through each head of light brown wavy hair. They’re a lovely mixture of their parents – Andrew’s textures and Dawn’s coloring. Their slate grey eyes are unusual, but gorgeous, all the same.
“Hello, munchkins.” Sitting on the ground, she opens her arms to a frenzy of little boy hugs. Thank goodness for video cams and high speed internet connections for keeping in touch.
Spike leads the children off to the playroom, so Buffy can talk with Andrew and what’s-his-name? Marcus! There’s something about the man that sets Spike’s nerves on edge. He can’t read people like he used to – can’t smell the pheromones, or hear the racing of a heartbeat, but he still has his intuition, and this Marcus fellow is setting off all his alarms.
“Unca Spike! Unca Spike!” The tots clamor for his attention, and Spike pushes the unease to the back of his mind. He takes out some long put away age appropriate toys, which leave the boys totally disinterested.
“Baby toys,” says Jonathan of the blocks on the floor. “Boring,” says Jessie, facing the baby puzzles. Jeremy and Jason pore through the toy box, looking for something more to their liking. All four boys chorus: “’Puters!” and start pulling on Spike to pull him out of the playroom.
Andrew hands over the American versions of computer programs the boys enjoy at home. “Sorry, mi amigo, but the lads tend to be a little picky in their choice of amusements. Can we hijack a computer for awhile?”
Spike volunteers his. Anything vital is duplicated on Buffy’s computer and backup discs.
He heads downstairs, using Willa’s computer while Andrew is occupied.
FamilyGuy: ‘Lo, Niblet. The mites are smart little buggers, aren’t they? Obviously take after their Mum.
1000Eyes: I’m so proud, Spike. Jason has my love of languages. He reads better than the rest if you’ve had a chance to hear him, and he speaks some French and Spanish.
FamilyGuy: I’m wonderin’ what you think of that Marcus bloke? He a good sort?
1000Eyes: Andrew trusts him. I find him a bit opportunistic… but he’s a hard worker. Does the Council proud.
FamilyGuy: Not sure why, but I don’t trust him.
1000Eyes: I’ll check into his background here, but I’m sure my Andy won’t let anyone near the boys if he can’t be trusted.
FamilyGuy: You do that, Dawn. I’m keepin’ my eye on him, just in case. Talk to you later, luv.
The children are all asleep and Buffy waits for him upstairs, but the light and conversation in the kitchen draw a curious Spike.
“C’mon, mate. I’m sure they’ll be more than willing to watch the sprogs. Let’s go out and have some fun. No ball and chain to hold you back… we can have a grand old time.”
Andrew looks about four shades of uncomfortable. “No can do, Marcus, old pal. Being a parent’s a full time responsibility. We’re in a strange house, in a strange country. I’m sticking close by to the little ones.”
“What are you? Afraid your in-laws are goin’ to rat you out to the wife? Gods, mate! That woman has you on a leash, even across the Pond.” Marcus snorts, shaking his head. “You need to hang out with more humans. Slayers and vampires and God knows what else are warping you, Drew.”
“Slayers and Vampyres have treated me better than most humans.”
Spike’s heard enough. “Andrew, one of my nephews is havin’ a hard time settlin’ down. Be a good man an’ tend to the lad.” He claps Marcus on the shoulder hard enough to make the man wince. “I’ll keep your mate entertained until you get back.”
Once Andrew is out of range, Spike snarls: “What the bloody hell are you tryin’ to do? Drive a wedge between a man and his family?” He cocks his head, hitting on a possible angle. “You bastard! You want the boy for yourself.”
“And if I do? What’re you goin’ to do about it?”
In just three steps Marcus finds himself up close and personal with one pissed off ex-vampire. “So, Watcher-boy… got a problem hangin’ with a mixed lot? Aimin’ to spread your poison an’ bust up my family?”
Marcus laughs, blustering his way through. “Yeah, I’ve got a problem. And you… do you know that William the Bloody is a bloody joke all throughout the Council? Man, vampire, and humanish… fuckin’ Slayers instead of killin’ ‘em. Half-breed Hellspawn…”
Before Spike can reach back and deck the man, he hears: “Papa? What’s going on in the kitchen? I can hear you from upstairs.”
“One word,” Spike warns. “One word that hurts my little girl and there won’t be enough left of you to mail back to England.”
Marcus shoves back at Spike’s shoulders and whispers: “One word in the right ear and you and your little family will find themselves on dissection tables. Freaks.”
“Sorry you can’t stay longer, mate,” Spike replies airily as Willa enters the room. “Good thing you haven’t unpacked yet. We’ll make sure Andrew and the tots get home safely.” He turns to his daughter. “What’s up, Poppet? Not feeling well?”
“Just thirsty, Papa. Oh, and Mama wants you.”
Spike calls a cab for the airport – leaving nothing to chance before he heads upstairs. “Go right to bed, sweet girl. I’ll be in to see you after I see what Mama wants.”
As soon as her papa leaves the kitchen, Willa rounds on Marcus, gameface to the fore. “Just because Papa didn’t hurt you, doesn’t mean I won’t,” she spits. “Nobody threatens my family. They’ll know all about you. Grandpa Giles and Auntie Dawn will have your guts for garters.”
“You need to mind your manners, child.”
Willa roars, taking pleasure in watching Marcus race out of the house.
Andrew apologizes profusely; sick at heart for misjudging Marcus. Dawn and Giles are warned, and the man is summarily dismissed. There is no place for hatred and bigotry – not with the Council changing to accommodate the friendlier demon species desiring to work with them.
They manage to book a new flight home with Becky onboard. Her familiarity with the quads is a big help to Andrew.
The Bennetts sit down and agree that bringing anyone new into the family must be done with the utmost caution. It hurts to pop the bubble for the youngsters, but not everyone means well.
August 2015 – To Catch A Bookworm
Back to school shopping is completed, and as a reward, the Bennetts and the Harrises split up for a girls’ and boys’ weekend. Not that the girls weren’t asked, mind you, but they prefer a little pampering to roughing it.
Xander and Spike take their sons on a fishing/camping trip; complete with tent and sleeping bags. Will bounces around, helping his father set up the tent, while Tyler is less than enthusiastic about the whole thing.
They all enjoy wading in the river; the air is hot and water refreshing, but Spike watches his son close himself off during dinner.
Instead of hanging around the campfire and toasting marshmallows, Tyler crawls into the tent, and burrows into his sleeping bag.
Spike stands to go after him and Xander grabs at the back of his shirt. “If I were you, I’d give the boy some time alone. You probably haven’t seen him do this at home because he’s been happy to have you back… but when Tyler stayed with us, he’d withdraw when he was upset.”
“Why would he be upset? He seemed fine, earlier.”
“Trust me on this. He obviously needs to talk… just give him about an hour’s grace.”
Some time later, Spike crawls into the tent and finds Tyler reading. Bookmarking his place, the boy hands the book to his father, hoping he won’t be upset.
“Ancient Sumerian for Beginners?” Spike was incredulous. “Ty… what’s going on?”
“Don’t be mad, Papa. Auntie Dawn sent it to me. I can read a lot of it,” he says, brightly. “We send IMs in Sumerian. It’s fun.”
“I’m not mad, luv. But this is supposed to be a break before books an’ learning. All kinds of guy stuff with Will and Uncle Xander. We have fishing planned for tomorrow mornin’, early.”
Looking at his son’s face, Spike realizes he’s about to cry. “If you don’t tell me what’s wrong, Ty, I can’t help you.”
Tyler scrunches closer to Papa and lets the tears fly. “I want to go home, Papa. I love you and Uncle Xander and Will, but I wanna be home with the computer and my books. It’s more fun. To me.”
How can he fault the child? As a youngster, he, himself was an avid book reader. True there were no computers or tellies, but William would choose a good book over football any day of the year.
The best Spike can offer is a compromise. “Look, Ty… we’re far away from home, and the women have taken over our house. What say you stay tomorrow; come out fishing… but bring your book or anything else you’d like to do while we fish?” Softly, wistfully, he says: “It’s good to be outdoors.”
Tyler knows how precious the sun is to his Papa after being a vampire all those years, so he agrees to stay.
Looking into his boy’s relieved face, Spike makes up his mind to call Angel. They can work something out something for Tyler’s special interests.
The girls decide to spend the entire weekend in jammies or sweats. Comfort is the word; in clothing or food. Buffy makes her famous five cheese macaroni casserole, and they order pizza and Chinese food as the mood strikes.
Willa and Treena drift off into their own little corner from time to time, occasionally taking Tara with them. Both mothers have explained the need to include the younger girl in some of their activities, and neither young lady has a problem with doing so.
Point of fact, only Tara has a problem with talk of boys, clothes, and now periods.
“Mama, I’m bored,” she whines, looking backwards as Buffy brushes her shoulder length curls.
Buffy throws Molly a beleaguered look. Out of all her children, she just knows Tara is going to be the ball buster. “Tara, we had this discussion. You could have gone camping with Papa and Tyler but you wanted to stay with the girls.”
The girl pouts. “I wanted to go camping, but that poopy-head Will was gonna be there. I-I’m so mad at him.”
“Tara Rose Alexis Bennett!!”
“It’s okay, Buffy. Will can be a poopy-head at times,” Molly says. “He’ll learn, eventually… or suffer.”
Tara stomps off in a fit of pique. Treena and Willa are preening in front of a mirror yet again, and she’s tired of playing games with Mama and Molly.
She slams her door shut and heads for her closet, tearing her clothes off the hanger and throwing them into piles on the floor. Little girl clothes for a little girl body. No wonder Will… no wonder nobody ever notices her.
Staring at her reflection in the mirror, Tara runs her fingers through her little girl hair, all long and curly, and reaches for the scissors in her desk drawer.
Mama decides her little miss has sulked enough, and goes upstairs to try and soothe her feelings. Such an awkward age – how did any of them survive childhood?
She knocks on the door before walking in, and is shocked at the sight that greets her. Tara’s beautiful hair lies in clumps on the floor. Buffy can’t move; can’t speak; can’t even punish her daughter. She fully understands the distress that must have driven her daughter to this act of desperation. Been there, done that, wore the t-shirt.
“Oh Tara,” she finally manages. “What am I going to do with you?”
Mama picks up the scissors and evens out the length as best she can. Not much can be saved… hair that once reached to the middle of Tara’s back will barely reach the bottom of her earlobes once the hairdresser gets a hold of her tomorrow.
“I’m sorry Mama,” Tara cries. “I can’t fix it!”
“We’ll get your hair fixed tomorrow, sweetie. It’ll grow back.”
“Not my hair. Me! I can’t fix me! I hate boys ‘cause they’re mean and I don’t wanna play with toys and dolls. I just want Will to like me again. “What’s wrong with me?”
September 2015 – For the Love of a Child
Willow’s excited babbling is enough the make the receiver vibrate in Buffy’s hand. It seems that the Rosenbergs are about to hear the pitter patter of little feet. They’ve been working with a private adoption agency for the past year, and it seems that a single mother has agreed to give up her newborn upon delivery.
The nursery is being decorated on weekends, and they’re stocking up on baby essentials. The baby’s expected to arrive in the middle of October, and Willow promises they’ll bring the child for ‘inspection’ as soon as it’s feasible to fly.
They can hardly wait.
Two weeks later, Becky calls, and the mood of this call is diametrically opposed to that of her spouse’s. It’s bad news on the baby front; for them, anyway. The mother went into premature labor. After staying in the hospital for a week watching over the baby, she decided to keep her son.
The couple is devastated, but Social Services promises they’ll remain at the top of the list if and when another opportunity arises.
Buffy looks sadly at the small layette she and Spike had purchased, and places it into the cedar chest at the foot of their bed.
October 2015 – The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree
The day is bright with just a hint of autumn in the air. Buffy sits quietly on the porch swing, watching her husband gather the fallen leaves and mown grass with an old fashioned hand rake. Without an unchanging vampire constitution, Spike has to consciously work at maintaining his ‘girlish figure’ and tight muscle tone.
Buffy just appreciates the view of his ass as he bends and reaches. Who needs multi-colored leaves when you’ve got a view like that?
Yard-work done, Spike stands with rake in hand, looking satisfied. Something clicks, and Buffy is off the swing like a shot.
She barrels past Spike and jumps directly into the large neat pile of leaves at his feet, spreading them far and wide.
“Oi, bitch!” he yells, pissed off that all his hard work has been for naught. “I’ve better things to do than re-rake the bloody yard…”
Looking down at the scattered leaves, his breath catches at the sight of his wife, face flushed with desire and hair fanned out like a halo around her head. She raises her arms to him and his anger dissipates. Spike drops to his knees, and then covers his wife’s body with his own.
His hands reach under her bulky sweater to fondle his wiggling woman. At thirty five, her figure is lush and round with a delightful little droop to her breasts as they fill his hands. The epitome of womanhood, all ripe… William, you git! Get on with it… remember, you both age now.
Buffy’s hands aren’t idle, either. She manages to undo the buttons of Spike’s fly, releasing his hard length into her fingers. Gasping at the coolness of her hand, he quickly grasps the waistband of her sweats, yanking them down and out of his way.
Slight maneuvering, then… bliss.
Sheathed within the soft, slick heat of his wife’s body, Spike holds still for a moment – reveling in the feeling of coming home. He moves with long, slow strokes that slowly draw Buffy’s body up to meet his own.
Her eyes glisten with warmth and passion and her breath comes in small pants, soon to be swallowed by her lover’s kisses.
They both realize at the same time that spontaneous sex with human participants can result in an expanded family. In for a penny… in for a pound – they continue their lovemaking to its obvious conclusion.
They lie on their backs in the leaves… replete; the heat of the mid-afternoon sun making them drowsy. Buffy has enough presence of mind to make sure they redress, just in case the youngsters make their way to the backyard.
“I think we have to be more careful, luv,” Spike says softly. “Bein’ human again means payin’ attention to family planning. Not that I’d mind, but I think we should talk about it before we get another ‘surprise’.”
Buffy smiles. “Yeah… cause even as a vamp, you managed to do the deed. I think we’re done, though. Our family’s complete.”
The Bennetts throw open their doors for a haunted house party. They’ve gone all out for the decorations, from spider webbing on the shrubbery and doors to headstones in the yard.
The house is full of costumed guests both old and young. Even Tyler seems to have gotten into the spirit of the night, dressing up as the Tin Man. Mama is Dorothy Gale, Papa is the Scarecrow, Willa is the Cowardly Lion, and Tara is Glinda, the Good Witch.
Buffy senses something’s wrong and scans the room for her husband and children. Willa’s at the door, talking to… Dracula.
It only takes a moment for Buffy to realize it’s the real Dracula… the one she thought she dusted in Sunnydale. And Willa’s gone outside with him. “Spike! Stake! Door!” she cries, pushing her way through the crowd.
Spike is less than a second behind her, and with a glance from the vampire, restrains his wife from leaping to her defense. The sight of Willa swaying under Drac’s thrall makes him nauseous – caution slows his steps.
They’re all surprised when Willa pulls out a stake and thrusts it into Dracula’s heart, dusting him instantly, to the applause of several guests.
The dust begins to reform and Willa growls, watching it dissipate once more. She’s so glad Mama told her about that little trick and her own encounter with the well-known vampire, and that she’s taken to carrying stakes with her wherever she goes.
She can’t shake off the odd feelings anymore; the tummy tingles every once in a while and the urgent sense of danger… Willa supposes this is as good a time as any to talk to her parents. It’s not normal, that’s for sure.
Mama and Papa linger outside and talk as the party goes on without them.
With the party in full swing, Lorne arrives, decked out in one of his normally flamboyant outfits. The children gather ‘round, hopeful for a scary story. Willa hangs over his right shoulder, while Tara and Will each claim a knee. They look at each other warily, but don’t say a word.
Lorne is happy to oblige the kiddies and reads The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to all those willing to listen.
He offers a few words to Tara before she wriggles off his lap. Tells her it’s time to mend her fences, and that not all attention is good attention.
Willa stays for a little, talking about the twins… she’s worried about their behavior as of late. Lorne commiserates – telling her he had a hard time with siblings when he was growing up, but they turned out all right, for Pyleans, anyway.
A hug and a kiss and she’s off, looking for her friends. Lorne decides it’s time to talk to Mama and Papa. He finds them in the kitchen, taking a momentary breather.
“Hello, Bon Bons. Have a seat ‘cause I think you’re gonna want to know this.”
Parents know when it’s about their children, and sit down, quickly.
In short order, Lorne advises the nervous twosome that Willa should be checked out as a potential Slayer. “There’s strength in that girl,” he says, “and it’ll need to be watched.”
Lorne frowns before continuing, trying to find the best way to phrase what he has to say. “The twins are going to keep you hopping. Tara’s walking down a rocky path… and she’ll be asking for help. Only it won’t be in her words so you have to listen carefully.”
Buffy snorts in frustration. “Can you be any more cryptic?”
“Sure can, sweetikins. Tyler needs to find his center.”
November 2015 – Childish Behavior
The dividing wall in the twins’ room is never open. At six years old, they’ve become very private people.
Tara finds herself torn. Sometimes she wants to be more grown up. She wants to care about clothes and music and boys. Other times she just wants to be Papa’s little girl… but both spots seem to be occupied by Willa.
It’s always Willa at the center of everything. Willa has a boyfriend, Willa has her period, Willa has boobs. Willa is a potential Slayer. She sucks up so much attention, that there’s none left for her.
Or so it seems.
Her most prized possession is one of her newest gifts from Auntie Willow – a fica… no, focusing crystal. It’s made of pretty purple quartz with a small fissure deep inside. Tara has been practicing her media… meditation as she’s been taught – every day – and manages to find her ‘quiet place’ in less than ten minutes.
The crystal warms to her touch. If she listens very carefully, Tara hears a soft bell tone. She concentrates with everything she has, and if she’s lucky, can block out thoughts of Have-It-All Willa, Hibernating Tyler, and parents who think she’s just a little girl.
Tyler isn’t having an easy time of things in school. Whereas he was an easygoing and well liked child in kindergarten, first grade is another story altogether. There’s a large emphasis on the physical… team sports and gymnastics – not Tyler’s forte.
Ms. Franck sends letters home, complaining of Tyler’s combative attitude. He refuses to take an active part in his phys-ed class, and when forced to participate, he stands around, stiff and uncooperative.
Mama and Papa try to talk about the need to participate in school activities, But Tyler is resistant. He says he would much rather read than play.
Papa meets with Ms. Franck when his son refuses to go to school for the third day in a row. He expects to hate the teacher on sight for refusing to work closer with Tyler, and help him through whatever it is that’s bothering him in class.
Ms. Franck and the Principal, Ms. Beene, sit calmly and discuss what they see as problematic. Tyler’s withdrawn, has very few friends, and likes to bury himself in his books. He may be too bright for the class, and will be tested for advanced placement. They’re concerned about his lack of social skills.
They agree to remove Tyler from phys-ed, if his parents are willing to have him checked out by his pediatrician, which, of course, Spike agrees to.
Tyler tests well enough to sit in with the sixth grade English class, and participate for actual school credit. At first he’s isolated because of his age, but after a few weeks, Tyler becomes the darling of the class, and is well protected in the schoolyard by his new friends.
Everyone from Ms. Franck to Tyler is relieved, and the boy’s attitude improves tremendously. He’s happy to go and participate in class once more.
With the spark of learning so strong in the boy, both Mama and Papa agree that he needs more stimulating material than what’s being offered in school. Between Auntie Dawn, the demon linguist, and Uncle Wesley and his demon lore, newly pressed into service, Tyler has more than enough new material to keep him happy.
The boy reads voraciously, and apparently has a photographic memory. The amount of information he retains is staggering, and both Dawn and Wes show an interest in fostering his demon education when school is out.
It seems to be a win-win situation for them all.
December 2015 – Silent Night
The house is decorated for the holiday; a beautiful tree in the livingroom, completely decorated with popcorn garlands and handmade ornaments. Everything simple and old fashioned. Including presents.
A new pair of shoes or earrings is lovely, but Buffy’s got the whole package: a house with a picket fence, a husband, three children, three cats and her health. There isn’t another thing she would ask for. Her life is so Norman Rockwell, she giggles.
“What’s so funny, luv?”
“All I had to do to get this normal life was give up on the idea of ever having a normal life.”
No company for the Bennetts this year. No gala dress up affair, and no visiting family. Everyone is involved with their own little families this year, and that’s just fine.
Willa’s hopping up and down. Bobby and his parents will be visiting their relatives in Santa Barbara, and have invited Willa out for Christmas Eve dinner, with her parents’ permission.
“Mama! Dinner in a fancy restaurant. Please… can I get a new dress? Something special?”
What mother can resist a clothes shopping junket with her daughter? To the mall they go, fighting the holiday crowds tooth and nail, emerging victorious.
Willa appears at the top of the stairs wearing a simple green velvet dress; princess seams and puffy sleeves, showing off her budding figure. Bobby’s breath catches in his throat. It’s only been a little over a year and a half since he moved away, less since they’ve seen each other… but in his eyes she’s grown up.
Mama and Papa watch the boy drool as he stares at their eldest daughter. Buffy wraps her arm around her husband’s waist, silently reminding him that he’d looked at her like that once upon a time.
Spike tells her she’s not helping.
“It’s just dinner, Spike. And it’s with Bobby’s parents.” Buffy hugs him tightly. “You’re gonna give yourself a heart attack if you keep this up.”
Spike misses his demon’s growl at times like this. The human equivalent doesn’t cut it, and he has to settle for glowering crossly.
Willa rolls her eyes at Papa’s antics, and Bobby smiles into his hand. All this fuss over a silly dinner with a friend and his parents. Sheesh, you would think they were dating or something lame like that.
Just before she leaves, Willa runs back in and kisses Papa on the cheek.
Spike and Buffy relax in front of their fireplace. The children are all tucked into their beds for the night. The Murcers will be over later tomorrow morning to share Christmas brunch and open presents long stashed under the tree.
They haven’t spoken a single word to each other for the past few hours. Both are thinking of the same thing, however – this time, last year – when they’d almost lost each other. Then Spike’s newfound humanity. Another unbelievable event in the long line of impossible events that make up their lives together.
Eyes close and sleep claims the happy couple.
Thanks to my darling willshenilshe for the beta and encouragement, as always.