You can find Reclamation from the beginning Here.
Crossposted to spuffyness and my regular journal.
Many smooches to moxie_fic for her wonderful beta work and kind words, and to willshenilshe and liliaeth for listening to me whinge about it forever.
Reclamation – Chapter 5 – Little Rascals
Buffy sat where she had fallen, in shock. A whole evening of skating around in circles and showing off only to fall on her ass getting into the car.
“Need a lift up, pet?”
She looked up into a pair of sparkling blue eyes shining with mischief. Would she never learn to keep her mouth shut? Spike had the equivalent of an open check in the things he could demand of her, and Buffy had to admit to being nervous.
Spike was making her very, very nervous. He’d won their skating bet, and as of yet had failed to name his ‘prize’. All he did was smile around her… that little half smirk/half melt-your-heart smile she’d begun to crave like the very air she breathed, and he didn’t.
Every time she broached the subject he’d smile, say “I’m thinkin’, pet” and walk away, chuckling to himself. She finally stopped asking, but every time he passed by, she felt a frisson of excitement run up her spine.
Just after sunset, Buffy, Spike, and Tara dragged a very surly group of children into Happy Time Photographers. They’d managed to get the last two appointments of the day, figuring that with so many children time would become an issue. Best of all, the photographers used digital cameras, which meant both Spike and Angel would show up
“Mr. & Mrs. Summers, I presume?” The manager beckoned for them to follow him. “Please bring the children this way.”
Tara snickered, earning her a quick glare from the faux-marrieds.
Before the little troop had traversed the small corridor to the back room, Xander pulled at Spike’s hand. “I have to go to the bathroom,” he whined, plaintively.
“Try and hold it in, mate,” the vampire said, figuring it was just another delaying tactic. Xander had gone twice before they left the house.
Angel picked up on the other boy’s whining and complained: “Buffy, my pants are itchy and this collar is too tight.” Running his finger under the collar, he popped the top button. “See?”
“I don’t want my picture taken. I wanna go skating again,” Rupert yelled, his voice carrying far too well in the little hallway. “Buffy, let go of me…” The little boy tried to pull his hand out of Buffy’s. “I want Spike. He’s more fun than you.”
Sensing Willow’s distress at the boys’ behavior, Tara picked the little girl up, hoping to forestall any hysterics on her part. “It’s all right, sweetie,” she soothed when the redhead began to squirm in her arms. “Just a few pictures, and we’ll all go do something fun. I promise.”
All she received for her troubles was a quiet sob… and a wet arm, as Willow’s bladder let go.
“Oh, Willow! Why didn’t you tell me you had to go to the bathroom?”
“Spike wouldn’t let Xander go… and I didn’t want anyone to be mad at me,” she sniffled.
Hearing Willow’s tearful admission, Spike hurriedly shuttled Xander to the men’s room, not willing to take the chance he was playing around anymore.
“People, please,” the manager begged. “The staff would like to go home sometime tonight to their own children...” Noting the puddle on the floor he sighed, wondering for the fifth time today why he ever left the Department of Motor Vehicles to photograph children.
“Look, lady… take the little one and dry her off. We have a box of clothing she can choose something from that’s clean and dry.” Eyeing Tara’s sodden outfit, he offered: “We also have some adult sized clothes in the lost and found you might want to check out.”
It took another fifteen minutes before everyone was clean, dry and somewhat willing to be posed for the first of their portraits. Tara found an Indian patterned skirt and a sweater… very much in keeping with her taste in clothes.
Willow agreed to wear a pair of purple Oshkosh b’gosh overalls with a fuzzy pink sweater over the bib. It wasn’t her pretty new dress, but she declared it more “comfable” and was satisfied with her choice.
The first set up was simple: three chairs for the adults, laps for the children. Spike had Angel on one knee and Xander on the other. Tara held Willow on his right side. Buffy held Rupert on his left.
Mr. Bill, the photographer, was pleased with what he saw through the viewfinder, and took his first two shots before asking his subjects to smile for the camera. And then all hell exploded.
Angel scrambled off of Spike’s lap and pulled Rupert down from Buffy’s knee. Xander decided he liked Spike’s shoulders more than his lap, and scooted to his new perch like a little monkey. Rupert announced he liked Tara’s lap better than Buffy’s because her boobies were softer to lean on. Willow wasn’t happy about sharing Tara’s lap and pulled Rupert’s hair when his back was turned. Angel, who’d set the whole fracas in motion, climbed onto Buffy’s lap and sat stock still, looking, well, angelic.
Tara smiled, letting loose a deep belly laugh the likes of which nobody could ever have conceived her capable of. It dislodged both children from her lap. Buffy joined in, tears of mirth streaming from her eyes. Spike just reared back and howled with glee, Xander holding onto his hair with both fists for all he was worth.
The photographer was in no hurry to reprimand his customers. He’d already gotten his money shots, had less than a half hour before he closed up the shop and would leave the cleanup of the studio to the morning crew. Besides, Mr. Bill enjoyed the sounds of merriment coming from his patrons. All too often he was faced with screaming, stubborn children he couldn’t get a smile out of if his life depended on it.
He snapped away, taking candid shots until only five minutes remained. “Look this way, folks,” he called, capturing everyone’s attention as he took the final pictures. “I do believe we’re done for this session. Your photos will be ready early next week. Just come on in with your receipt and you can pick the package that suits your needs. We just need a small, refundable deposit to hold them.”
Buffy opened her purse, exchanging receipt for cash. “Thanks for putting up with us, Mister. The kids had been cooped up for far too long and I guess their energy levels just skyrocketed.”
Mr. Bill nodded as he gently but firmly ushered the troop from the studio, thrilled to be going home at last.
It seemed the honeymoon phase between the boy and his vampire was finally over. Xander was unhappy. He wanted to go outside and play in the yard while the sun was shining. He pouted and sulked but to no avail. Spike wasn’t able to go with him, so he was stuck in the house.
“Pleeeeese! I won’t go far away,” Xander wheedled, turning his puppy-dog eyes on the beleaguered vampire. “You can watch me from the window.”
Spike was adamant in his refusal. “Listen to me, pet. When Buffy and Tara come back from the market, they can take you out, yeah? I can’t take the chance that you or one of the others’ll need me and I’ll be stuck hidin’ from Mr. Sunshine. I know it doesn’t seem fair to you, but they’ll be home, soon, an’ you can play then.”
Xander stomped off, unmollified. “You’re a meanie, and… and… I’m not gonna talk to you anymore all day,” he shot back over his shoulder. “Poopy head vampire.”
Satisfied that he’d gotten his point across, Spike sat on the sofa, closing his eyes, but keeping tabs on Xander, Willow, and Angel. Vampire hearing was a good babysitter’s best friend.
It came as quite a surprise when he came to, with Angel pulling on his sleeve to catch his attention.
“Spike! Spike! Wake up.”
“Keep your kit on, mate. What’s up?”
“It’s Xander... and he took Willow, too.”
Shit. Spike instinctively turned around and sure enough, the front door was wide open. Getting as close as he dared, Spike quickly spied the missing children playing ball on the front lawn. It was all innocent enough, but he felt a moment of panic at the thought of having to explain to Buffy how they’d gotten away from him. What if something happened to her friends before they reverted to their adult selves?
All right, it would break his own heart if something happened to the little ones.
“Xander, Willow… get your bloody behinds back in the house.” Great! Now I sound like a soddin’ mum.”
“Nuh uh, Mr. Poopy-Pire,” Xander yelled as he ran to the sidewalk in front of the house. “I can stay here all day and you can’t get me.”
With a sinking feeling in his gut, Spike watched as the little boy continued to walk backwards, slowly, sticking out his tongue in defiance.
“Last time m’gonna tell you, boy. Get yourself inside before…”
Obviously scared by Spike’s yelling, Willow ran past him into the house. She might have been brave enough to slip past the sleeping vampire, but couldn’t stand up to him in Papa Bear mode.
Xander, unfortunately, had no such problems as he continued his backwards journey… straight into the street.
Spike felt the force of the sunlight even from the protection of the shadows inside the house, and took a few shallow breaths to steady himself. Grabbing the blanket kept by the door, he made a mad dash out to grab Xander around the waist and haul him over his shoulders.
What he hadn’t expected was for the child to pull at the blanket in protest. By the time they’d gotten safely indoors, Spike’s arms were blistered and oozing. He tumbled Xander onto the couch and headed for the stairs.
“Don’t move from that spot, you stupid little bugger,” Spike barked, his words harsh with fear and pain from his burns, and not a little anger. “Got to go upstairs an’ take care of m’arms.” One last glare at Xander, and Spike was slightly mollified to see the boy flinch at the mention of his injuries.
Buffy and Tara arrived home from shopping with Rupert glowering between them, to a house that was eerily quiet. Angel and Willow were sitting quietly on the floor by the couch, where Spike was curled up, holding his bandaged arms close to his body.
Putting her packages down and letting Tara take the children in hand, Buffy knelt down and gently stroked her fingers through Spike’s hair.
“Hey, cutie,” she murmured softly. “What happened? Is everyone okay?”
Spike groaned and rolled over to face her. “Had a spot of difference with m’shadow. He wanted to play outside an’ I told him no.”
“And he snuck out, huh?”
“Grabbed little Red and hit the front yard while my eyes were closed. Never expected him t’open the door and disobey…”
Buffy couldn’t help herself. The smile she’d tried to hide burst out into giggles. “Gods, Spike. The first rule of babysitting is never tell a kid he can’t do something. It’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull.”
“Yeah, an’ when I pulled the little bullock out of the street before the car could hit ‘im, he tried to yank the blanket off me and nearly toasted his old pal Spike.”
Taking hold of his hands, Buffy looked into his eyes. “Poor baby,” she soothed. “Want Nurse Buffy to make you feel all better?”
“Cruel to tease the injured vamp, love, what with the munchkins roaming about. I’ll have to remind Nurse Buffy of her duty once things are back to normal.”
She pouted, her lower lip jutting just enough to draw Spike’s attention. “But your arms will be healed up by then. Whatever will I have to kiss and make all better?”
His expression was priceless.
“Ha! Speechless! And they said it couldn’t be done.” Buffy doubled over with laughter. “Rendered powerless by my mouth alone… and… and I think I’d better stop while I’m ahead.” She buried her face in her arms, blushing furiously at her out of control comments.
“Right fetching when you blush, love,” Spike drawled, flinching as he reached out to stroke Buffy’s pinkened cheek. “An’ I’d love to test out Nurse Buffy’s bedside manner, but…”
“Yeah, yeah. I know. Parenthood does have its downside, doesn’t it?”
Tara softly cleared her throat to announce her presence. “Um, guys? I think we have a little problem. Xander’s missing. A-and it’s not that I want to point fingers, but Willow seems to think it’s partly because Spike yelled at him.”
“Tara!” Rupert called from the top of the stairs. “Angel found him hiding in the attic and he won’t open the door. Even Willow can’t make him open it. You’d better hurry before Angel pulls the door off.”
“At least he’s still in the house,” Buffy grumbled. “So, Big Bad, who’s gonna try and talk Xander out of the attic without removing or smashing down the door which would involve costly repairs to Rup… um, to Giles’ house that we can’t possibly afford when things get back to normal and he sees his credit card bill?”
Spike stood outside the attic door, listening to the boy’s dejected sniffles.
“C’mon, pet. Be a good lad an’ open the door. Your mates are getting lonely.”
“Nuh uh. **sniffle** Not gonna come out. You’re gonna yell again.”
“I won’t yell, Xander. M’not mad anymore,” Spike promised. “Just open the lock and come out.”
Even with his enhanced hearing, Spike was hard pressed to hear the little boy’s words through his tears. He was back to chanting “I’m sorry” over and over again and rocking against the door.
Buffy said she didn’t want the door broken down, but she didn’t say anything about tinkering with the lock. A minute later, he had the door opened and a sobbing boy held tightly against his chest.
“Shush, little one,” he soothed, ignoring his aching limbs as the boy’s weight settled onto his burnt arms. “S’all right now. Think you can use a good nap an’ we’ll talk, you an’ me. Later.”
As Xander settled into bed, he still muttered softly only the words had changed. “Bad Xander. Stupid Xander.”
Spike felt exactly three inches high. Father of the year material he certainly wasn’t, and now he’d pretty much shot his creds for being Uncle Spike right down the loo.
He sat on the bed, smoothing the curls from Xander’s forehead, willing peace to settle on the lad. “You’re not stupid, boy. You scared me and I said something I shouldn’t’ve. I’m sorry.” Spike gently wiped the tears from Xander’s eyes with his thumbs. “Sleep now,” he murmured, and quietly closed the door behind him.
And promptly walked straight into Buffy.
“You know you’ve just risen in rank to head Big Bad Mush, Spike,” she cajoled, eyes bright with affection. “I was coming up to check on you two, and heard the last part. I really hope he remembers this week.”
“Yeah, love. It’s bound to be interesting.”
ETA: Corrected a boo boo that had the photographer using a digital camera and film at the same time. Silly man. Thanks, talesofspike, for catching the goof!