You can find the story in its entirety Here.
Cross posted to warm_and_fuzzy and my regular journal.
What Dreams May Bring - Chapter 14B - Rites of Passage
July 2017 – The Good Old, Bad Old Days
It’s a pleasant evening, and Buffy cajoles Spike into taking a walk. Willa’s old enough to babysit her siblings. They end up in the park, swinging gently side-by-side; enjoying the rare cool breeze.
Her feet stop the swing’s motion abruptly as her spidey sense kicks in for the first time in years. Vampire! More than one, in fact and her hand reaches automatically for a stake… that isn’t there.
“William!” she hisses, not wanting to give away his identity if she doesn’t have to.
Recognizing the Slayer’s stance, Spike moves to her left side and readies himself for a fight.
Low, rumbling growls become more pronounced as the vampires emerge from the woods and circle the two humans.
Nearly fourteen years have passed since Buffy was the active Slayer with nothing to lose but her own life on nightly patrols. Now she has a husband willing and capable of fighting by her side, and children at home who will be devastated if anything happens to their parents. It tempers her urge to land the first blow.
As the five vampires close their circle, herding Spike and Buffy closer together, a war whoop is heard, and suddenly two vampires go *poof*.
Through the clearing dust emerge three young girls Buffy estimates to be anywhere from fifteen to eighteen years old.
“Slayers!” a vampire confirms with a snarl before he takes off, followed quickly by his remaining companions. Two slayers break into an easy gait that implies they won’t be back until their prey is dust in the wind.
“At your service, Ms. Summers.” The remaining slayer bows in her direction. “And an honor to meet you, Spike.” She extends her hand in greeting. “I’m Amber, and my pack girls…” she says, waving her hand towards the trees, “…are Jelisa and Amy.”
Back home, Buffy hugs her kids, takes a shower, and snuggles into bed.
“Little run-in with the mini-mites botherin’ you, m’love?” Spike asks, rubbing the tension out of her neck and shoulders.
“We could have been killed tonight, and the kids would find out they’re orphans from the police. I can’t believe I’ve gotten so lax as to go out without a stake. You know, I think I almost miss slaying,” she says, wistfully.
“Just lookin’ back on a rose strewn path, Buffy. You were the best, but it’s time to fully let the next generation take on the mantle.”
With mock indignance, she turns to her husband. “Is this your way of saying I’m too bloody old to wield a stake, mister? I’ll have you know…”
“Not old, pet. Just have different priorities. Not that I have to tell you,” he murmurs, brushing her lips tenderly with his. “First thing you worried about was the youngsters. Not you… not me. You’ve always put them first.”
“D’ya ever miss it? The patrolling and your old spot of violence?”
“Told the eldest mite once, an’ m’tellin; you. Don’t miss being a vampire near as much as I love bein’ with m’family.”
Buffy sighs, turning onto her side, scootching back to spoon against her husband. “Don’t know why I feel so blue, Spike. It feels like things are starting to pass me by. Amber looks like she hasn’t a care in the world… and the little ones hardly looked older than Willa. Was I ever so young?”
“Younger than Amber first time I saw you behind the Bronze.” He smiles into her hair with the memory. “Had a glow about you even then that drew me in.”
“A patina that grows with each passing year. Sleep, love. Spike’s got you.”
August 2017 – An Eye For An Eye
Will wants to celebrate his birthday quietly, turning down his parents’ offers of movies or amusement parks. He prefers home and family. Of course, just family includes the Bennetts and Rosenbergs and dinner consists of no fuss, no muss food: pizza and cake.
He shuts his eyes, makes a wish, then blows out the candles on his cake. Grabbing Tara’s hand, Will pulls her into the livingroom. Fitted into the wall, is an electronic meditation waterfall with the P’linth Goddess of Prayer situated under the cascading water.
The children clasp hands, sink to their knees and begin to chant, quietly.
While continuing the chant, Will looks at Tara’s face; eyes closed in concentration, her brow wrinkled with effort. He can feel her – in his heart and head. She’s an open book to his developing empathic capabilities.
Words softly falling from his lips, he leans over for a kiss, just as her eyes open wide. She returns the press of his lips; warm and soft.
They’re interrupted by Buffy, who’s come to collect her daughter for the ride home. She says nothing to her daughter of the kiss. There’s time for talking later.
Nobody sees the little idol begin to glow.
Tara knows she’s not supposed to mess around with magicks anymore. She’s promised Auntie Willow and Uncle Wes not to conjure unsupervised, but Will needs her help. And Uncle Xander, too. Mama explained all about the tumor; that it damaged his eyesight and there is nothing to prevent it from coming back.
Praying to P’yohm of the Waters has given her the determination to try and help out. Just a small, harmless healing spell to fix her uncle’s eye. Give him back his sight and the job the tumor stole away. She just wants to see her family smile again.
Molly awakens to her husband’s pained whimpers. The gentle brush of her hand across his cheek comes away wet and sticky, and she panics, turning on the light to reveal a small trickle of blood from the corner of Xander’s eye.
A few hurried words to Treena and they’re once more on their way to the emergency room, where Xander’s eye is swabbed and checked for injury. The examination reveals nothing. No tears, no swelling… in fact, Xander swears he sees more clearly than earlier in the day.
Dr. Steinmetz removes the bloodied patch from his empty socket, and gasps.
Molly is ushered into the cubicle along with another half-dozen interns and doctors. Xander is sitting on an examining table, getting annoyed at all the gawping and pointing that’s going on. “What’s going on, Mol?” he asks. “Everyone’s looking at me like I’ve grown a third eye.”
Silently, Dr. Steinmetz hands Xander a mirror. The image is a bit blurry, but staring back at him are two whiskey brown eyes.
It’s the understatement of the century. An examination shows 30% vision in the regenerated eye and no idea if it will improve over time. The doctors are stumped.
The medical staff insists he check himself in for a couple of days’ worth of testing. Xander goes home two days later with the doctors none the wiser and his vision improved another 20%.
Everyone gathers at the house for the ceremonial ‘patch burning’. It’s a little disconcerting to have his head grabbed and his face stared at, but Xander weathers it well. His headaches are gone and he sees properly for the first time in forever.
Tara clambers into his lap, moving his head from side to side. She nods happily to Will, who doesn’t leave his father’s side.
Their daughter’s little inspection hasn’t gone unnoticed by Mama and Papa, who corner the youngster on her way to get another piece of cake.
“Pretty nifty of your Uncle Xander to grow a new eye, isn’t it, mite?” Papa asks. “Think the eye fairy had a hand in it?”
Tara giggles, but says nothing.
“I know. He stepped in a lucky pile of Luke or Leia’s poop and his wish was granted.”
“No way, Papa. It was me an’ Will when we… oops.” One look at Papa’s disapproving face and she knows a lecture is the least of her worries.
Willow, Wesley and Grandpa Angel question the children for the fourth time. They demand a verbatim accounting of the prayer offered to P’yohm, and the spell Tara cast to determine what powers have been invoked and the possible consequences.
“It’s not that we’re angry your Uncle Xander has his eye back,” Wesley chides.
Willow adds: “Not at all. It’s just that you promised not to practice magicks without supervision. Not only did you break your word, something went wrong with your spell. You got more than you bargained for.”
A decision is made to bind Tara’s and Will’s powers temporarily.
September 2017 – The Big Three-Oh
Dawn and family are firmly ensconced in their new home and making the most of being surrounded by loved ones. If they’re not visiting Buffy, they’re with Xander… or the whole troop is at Willow’s. The quads are ecstatic at being so close to the other kids. They find a freedom to just be amongst their kith and kin. With them, they’re not freaks or prodigies or exploitable resources… just Jesse, Jonathan, Jason, and Jeremy.
For her sister’s thirtieth birthday, Buffy schemes with Molly and Willow to throw a memorable party, and comes up with the perfect place and time.
It’s Ladies’ Night at the upscale Idyll’s Emporium. Dressed to the nines, the women are ushered to a table in front of the middle runway. Drinks are ordered and they’re primed and ready for a night’s entertainment. They’re far from disappointed.
Pretty men in all sizes bump, grind, strip, and gyrate either singly or en masse, to a loud, pumping techno beat. They roam all three runways, performing for the entire room, but center-stage rates the brightest lights and the most vigorous jiggles, and before long, everyone’s fighting for position to stuff dollar bills in the men’s tiny leather thongs.
As the evening draws to a close, Idyll’s empties. “Hang on, ladies. Got a surprise for the birthday girl,” Buffy giggles.
A pounding rhythm precedes the lyrics:
Hi Hi! We're your Weather Girls Ah huh
And have we got news for you. You better listen!
Get ready, all you lonely girls
and leave those umbrellas at home. Alright!...
It's Raining Men! Hallelujah! It's Raining Men! Amen!
I'm gonna go out to run and let myself get
Absolutely soaking wet!
It's Raining Men! Hallelujah!
It's Raining Men! Every Specimen!
Tall, blonde, dark and lean
Rough and tough and strong and mean
Backstage the men are just this side of frantic. Even though Xander instigated this whole idea by reminding everyone of his ‘experience’ in Oxnard as a stripper/dancer, he’s the one trying to back out of it now.
And although Xander outweighs his compatriots, Spike and Andrew manhandle him into his costume, while Spike offers his rarely used flask for extra courage. A few gulps, a final adjustment or two, and they’re ready to go.
The spotlight hits the stage when the music begins and three leather clad cowboys make their way past the curtains to the gasps of their wives.
“Howdy ma’ams,” Spike drawls. “We hear there’s a birthday gal amongst you.” He punctuates the end of the sentence with a hip roll, and a dip of his Stetson.
Xander shimmies to the front, removing his hat and takes a deep bow, placing it in front of his crotch. “Can’t let something as important as a thirtieth birthday go unnoticed, now can we men?”
The music cranks up a notch as Andrew faces his wife. “This is for you, my Princess.” He tosses his hat into her waiting arms as the beat becomes infectious and his body begins to sway.
“Oh my God!” Dawn drools. “Check out the packages they’re not hiding in those yummy leather pants.”
Buffy slaps her sister lightly, laughing. “Just remember kiddo, only one of those packages gets unwrapped by you. The rest are on a strictly look but don’t touch policy.”
Leaning back and enjoying the camaraderie, Becky watches as the women in Xander’s life flank him, doing a bump and grind that brings a huge smile to his face. His best friend in front, and wife behind him, they double team to pants the man in an unguarded moment, ripping off his cutaway leathers.
Spike takes it upon himself to rip off his own cutaways, revealing the same teensy pair of black leather shorts that his buddy is sporting. They shimmy and pose to the music, and when Spike bends over to grab his ankles and look through his legs, Buffy hops up onstage and spanks him smartly on his rump.
“That’s my little sister you’re waving that thing at,” she admonishes, slithering up close and personal for a standing lap dance, then leads him offstage with a yank to the black leather studded collar he’s sporting. “I can’t wait to get you home.”
The years have been good to Andrew, lending a bounce to his step as he struts to take his place in front of his wife.
“Come to Mama, big boy,” Dawn calls out to her husband. “It’s my party and I’ll ogle if I want to.”
“As you wish, my sweet.”
With a calming breath, Andrew reaches down and tears off his own leathers. He swings them above his head, tossing them offstage and pumping his small hips as the music urges him on. He’s all alone onstage, and he’s not wearing little black shorts like his companions.
Hands behind his head, Andrew’s showing off for all he’s worth, sporting a black leather pouch with the image of Darth Vader appliquéd to it. It’s a picture perfect moment when he starts serenading Dawn with an off-key rendition of the Beatles They Say It’s Your Birthday.
The rest of the table raucously joins in, accompanied by claps and catcalls from Idyll’s staff and resident dancers.
Spike chuckles, causing Dawn to smile fondly at him. “What’s it to you, older than dirt guy?
“Officially? I’m younger than you are, Niblet,” he snickers, setting the table off in paroxysm of laughter.
October 2017 – Children Should Listen
Tara doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. Yes, she knows she and Will disobeyed their parents, and disappointed Auntie Willow and Uncle Wes by doing magick on their own. But why are they still so bloody angry?
Uncle Xander has two good eyes, even though they only meant to fix the one. He’s got a new job and he’s happy, so why do her powers have to remain bound? She didn’t do anything bad. It’s just not fair and she’s angry.
She crawls under her bed and retrieves the spellbook hidden in a pocket slit into the mattress.
Most of the ingredients are easy enough to find in her own kitchen. Since all her meditation candles have been confiscated, Tara grabs a box of birthday candles and hopes they’ll last long enough to cast the general reversal spell.
Mama’s taking a nap, and Tyler and Papa are over at Will’s house. Just a little undisturbed time and it’ll all be over. No more restrictions. And she’ll prove to Mama and Papa that she can be trusted to not cause trouble with her spells.
The set up is quick, the candles hold, barely, and Tara chants the words carefully.
Tara quickly cleans up her room. She doesn’t want to leave traces of her spellcasting for Mama to find and get all mad about. For a quick moment, the little girl thinks she can feel the tickle at the base of her neck that means Will’s trying to make contact but she makes a distinct effort to ignore it and it goes away. When the phone rings, Tara hurries to answer it, not wanting to awaken Mama.
It’s Will, of course. “What did you do, Tara?” he asks. “I can feel something all creepy crawly around you, and it’s scary.”
She promises to tell him tomorrow in school. Right now there’s too much worry about being discovered. Tara finishes her homework and her chores without any scolding and is very quiet throughout dinner.
“What’s the matter, Poppet?” Papa asks, concerned about his daughter’s lackadaisical demeanor.
“M’fine. Just tired. Can I go to bed now?”
Mama feels Tara’s forehead, worried about fever. She never goes to bed without a fuss. “Are you sure there’s nothing wrong, sweetie? You don’t feel warm, but you could be coming down with something.”
Tara shakes her head, really wanting to do nothing more than sleep.
Buffy gets a phone call from the school nurse at 11:30. “Please pick up your child, Mrs. Bennett. You shouldn’t have sent her in to school with a fever and nausea. It isn’t fair to the other students.” Instead of arguing with the obnoxious woman, Buffy tersely tells her she’ll be right there, and heads out, sticking a note for Spike on the refrigerator door with a magnet.
By the time Tara is home, her fever has spiked to 104.5 and after a quick lukewarm bath and a dose of Tylenol, she’s bundled into bed where she promptly falls asleep.
Leaving Kiana at home with Becky, Willow pays an unannounced visit. “How’s Tara feeling?” are the first words out of her mouth when Buffy opens the door.
“I just brought her home from school. How did you…?”
“I got a call from Xander’s Will. He got the school nurse to place the call; told me about a talk he had with her – about something she did involving a spell.”
Buffy is flabbergasted. “A spell? Are you telling me she’s still messing around with magic even after the binding?”
“The spell reacted with the binding. It’s meant to teach a lesson.”
Furious, Buffy turns on the red head. “Why didn’t you tell me she’d get sick? She’s a baby, Will. She’s only eight years old!”
“Buffy, don’t you see that she’s not normal? She has power and all the arrogance of a child. It’s worse than when I first learned about witchcraft and magicks.” Willow sighs, sorry that the little one is suffering for her gifts, but she knows intimately that Tara must learn control early or suffer possibly deadly consequences.
“She’s so sick, Will. Her fever is so high, and she’s vomiting. Maybe I should take her to the hospital?”
Tara’s screams brought the adults running. She’s sitting in a puddle of vomit and sobbing uncontrollably. Mama can tell just by holding the girl that her fever has risen. With an efficiency born of practice, she shucks Tara’s nightclothes, gathers her child in her arms and sets her down in another lukewarm bath. Tara is so out of it, she doesn’t take her hands away.
“Making with the bed detail. Kiana’s trained me well. And I know it looks bad. Magick kickback is a bitch to recover from. You do remember me, right?”
All too well, Willow.
Taking Willow’s suggestions, Mama gives Tara a double dose of Advil and makes sure she knows her garbage pail is right by the side of the bed for her to be sick in. It takes three days before the symptoms abate, and by the time she’s feeling better, Mama lets her know in no uncertain terms they need to talk.
Papa explains her illness is a direct consequence of trying to remove the binding spell. Any spell would have left her feeling poorly, but she hit the jackpot with the reversal spell.
This time, she swears she’s learnt her lesson.
November 2017 – My Body, My Self
On her way to bed, Mama is drawn to Tyler’s room by a faint whimper. When calling to him from the doorway produces no response, Mama enters the room to find him shaking under the covers. Worried that he’s in pain, she slowly draws back the covers and finds the reason for his distress. With a firm, constant motion, Tyler Liam James Bennett is masturbating in his sleep.
She gently replaces the covers and tiptoes out of the room, marveling at how quickly Tyler’s childhood seems to be slipping by. Eight years old and it’s time for the sex talk.
Ty’s newfound sensuality doesn’t confine itself in the bedroom. Subconsciously, his hands are always in his pockets, or down the front of his pants. He’s reprimanded in school and teased by the other children, but he can’t seem to control his actions.
Papa sits the boy down for a quiet discussion. “I know it feels good, Ty, an’ there’s nothing wrong with it. Just that there’s a time and place for everything. Like in your room with the door closed.”
“Do you massurtate?”
Masturbate, love. And yes. Been known to from time to time.”
“And Mama? And Willa and Tara?”
Taking a deep breath, Papa tries to block out the knowledge of his daughters as sexual beings, and fails. “It’s natural, pet. It feels good an’ doesn’t hurt anyone else. Pretty much everyone masturbates at one time or another.”
“I don’t mean to do it at school, Papa. It just happens,” Tyler complains.
“All you can do is make an effort to know where your hands are. Maybe tellin’ yourself to wait until you get home will help. Now that you’re aware that it’s not acceptable around other people you’ll try harder, yeah?”
Tyler nods and hugs his Papa tightly.
Will grabs Tyler in the schoolyard and herds him towards the back fence. “You gotta see what I found under Treena’s bed,” he giggles as he pulls a glossy magazine from his backpack and hands it to his friend.
“Playgirl’s College Hunks for 2017,” he reads, confused. “Hunks of what?”
“Open it, stupid. Treena thinks it’s a big secret, but she looks at all the naked men when she thinks nobody’s looking.
Tyler turns page after page, silently appraising the smooth and hairy bodies presented; feeling a strange tingle in his belly at the sight of all those dangly bits.
“Just hide it until you get home, kiddo,” Will chides. “You don’t want to get caught by anyone here with that.” They wouldn’t understand, Ty.
Tyler hastily stuffs the magazine into his own backpack. “Won’t your sister miss her magazine?”
“Who do you think she’s gonna complain to? Mom or Dad? If she asks me I can always tell her I have no idea what she’s talking about.”
“Y-you won’t tell her you gave it to me?”
Will shakes his head. “Cross my heart and hope to die. Our secret.” He watches his friend head off to class, and smiles.
December 2017 – Home and Hearth
It’s Christmas Eve and all’s quiet at the Giles household. Braden is tucked away in his bed. The exuberant four year old had to be jollied into bed with one of ‘Santa’s cookies’ and a glass of milk. Even so, Giles knows the boy sits up in bed for another half an hour, waiting for Santa to make his appearance before sleep finally claims him.
All the family phone calls have been made and best wishes exchanged; now it’s time for snuggling by the roaring fire and contemplating the upcoming year with his wife of four years by his side.
He’s happy – healthier than he was years ago, and totally besotted with his life. Dawn’s absence at the Council has forced him to take a more active role, but he’s already looking for a permanent successor. The title of Watcher Emeritus is appealing.
At fifty-seven years of age, Giles believes he’s earned his retirement. Nothing compares to watching Braden grow up, his whole life unplanned and uncharted. Right now, he wants to play around the horses. He loves the way they snuffle food out of his hands.
Olivia presses a kiss to her husband’s cheek and heads off to bed.
Giles picks up his pen and begins to write:
My Dearest Girl,
The family is all abed and peace reigns, yet I find myself missing you. I know we’ve spoken earlier, and it was a joy to hear all the little ones. Only they’re not so little anymore, are they? Willa’s a fine young lady with her heart in the throes of her first love. The twins are extraordinary, and I’m afraid they’re going to put you through your paces as they grow up. May I just say ‘your turn’ in advance? Allow an old man to laugh in retribution.”
I’m glad Dawn is out from under the Council’s mantle. Her little ones will need to be home schooled to meet their needs and protect them. I’ll see if there’s anyone I can recommend for that position – someone trustworthy and with no ties to the organization.
The news about Xander’s eye has us totally gobsmacked. To think Will and Tara are responsible for its restoration. It’s a good thing their powers are restricted and Willow is there to impress the dangers inherent in overstepping their bounds.
Speaking of Willow…and Becky, of course – their Kiana is a real charmer, isn’t she?
I’m proud of you, Buffy. You’ve weathered so much over the years. I suppose I must give credit where credit is due. Spike… William. You’re good for each other. He’s come a long way… even before… well, you know. He’s a decent man and a wonderful father.
That’s all for now, dear. I believe it’s time to get back to my wife. Olivia may have the patience of a saint, but her toes get downright chilly if she’s left alone too long.
With a flick of his wrist, Giles closes the lights and heads off to bed.