You can find Reclamation from the beginning Here.
Crossposted to spuffyness and my regular journal.
So many *hugs* to Willa for her wonderful beta work and kind words, and liliaeth for bearing with me every time I said “Gee, I really should try to write the next chapter, shouldn’t I? As always, comments feed the muse and are much appreciated.
Reclamation – Chapter 6 - Showtime
After making up with Spike, yesterday, Xander’s mood lightened as the day wore on. He was back to being best buddies with the vampire and he could scarcely contain himself as plans were made for a Bugs Bunny cartoon festival at the Sun Theater when it got dark.
The only fly in the ointment was Angel. He sat in the middle of the bed and pouted, insisting he didn’t want to see a “moo-vie.” No amount of cajoling would get the little vampire to agree to the outing
Going by intuition, Tara approached the matter from a different direction. No more begging, bribing or pleading.
“I’m really surprised you’re not the first in line to go see the cartoons, Angel,” she said, shaking her head in dismay. “After all, there are so many drawings that went into making them.”
The little brunet’s ears pricked up at the mention of drawings, much as Tara knew they would.
“Someone holds up all the different drawings?” Angel’s eyes glittered at the thought.
Now, how to explain cartoons so he’ll understand. This would be so much easier if these children remembered their regular lives with any kind of consistency. “Can I borrow your papers and a pencil for a minute?”
Angel scampered off the bed to retrieve his things from the bookcase. “You want to draw my picture? Nobody ever did that before.”
Tara blushed. He really did have a beautiful little face. And those eyes were soul stealers. How could anyone refuse him anything?
“Sorry, hon. My drawing skills leave a lot to be desired, but I can show you why movies are called moving pictures.” She proceeded to draw circles of varying sizes on the corners of the pad. Patting the bed besides her, Tara urged Angel to sit at her side.
“Now watch the circles closely, Angel,” she said as she thumbed through the pad slowly at first, picking up a little speed as she went on.
“Oh, look! The circles are bouncing.” Angel was entranced. “Do it again, please?” he begged, bouncing up and down in his excitement.
Brava, girl. Looks like we’ll be a full complement at the theater this evening after all. Sure, hon. See? If you draw the circles in a slightly different position each time, they seem to move. And if you have enough pictures… you can make them do anything you want.”
“In this movie… will there be more than circles bouncing?”
Tara smiled. “Ever so much more than circles. I promise.” Ruffling his hair, she sent the little vampire downstairs to join the rest of the group, Watch out, Sun Theater. Here we come.
Anticipation ran high in the nearly empty theater as the children were settled into their seats. They were so excited that they didn’t even fight about who sat next to whom. Xander and Willow shared a large bucket of buttery popcorn. Rupert was busy with a big bag of strawberry licorice, and Angel was satisfied with a large soda.
Spike, Buffy and Tara sat a row behind the children, all the better to keep an eye on their charges. Once the lights went down, Tara found herself relieved to have chosen the aisle seat, as her companions made with the smoochies. With a mischievous giggle, she poked Buffy in the back, repeatedly, until the blonde finally acknowledged her.
She’s glowing, Tara sighed, happily, taking in Buffy’s appearance. Her sparkling hazel eyes and flushed cheeks made her look like a teenager caught necking. Which she sorta was, without actually being a teenager anymore. She hoped this wouldn’t all disappear once the enchantment on their friends was broken tomorrow.
“I just wanted to let you guys know I’ll keep an eye on the kids. Just go on with…with what you’re doing.”
“Aye, aye, Cap’n.” Spike laughed, pulling Buffy closer to himself. “You heard the good witch, love. Nibblets are all watchin’ the flick and taken care of. Pucker up now and give us a kiss all good n’not so proper.”
Buffy groaned as he nuzzled her neck. “Gods, Spike. What is it with you and necks?”
“Vampire, pet. Or have you forgotten?” He flashed amber eyes and fangs, nipping her ear lobe before changing back.
“Never,” she whispered, grabbing his face in her hands. “Just do it again.”
Spike had no problem complying. “As my Slayer wishes.”
Tara averted her eyes, peeking over the row of seats in front of her.
Willow sat with her feet scrunched up under her, avidly watching the animated antics of Bugs and Elmer chasing each other; dipping her hand into the popcorn bucket absentmindedly. Xander double-fisted the buttery treat, barely paying attention to the screen.
“Stop it, Will,” he hissed, smacking her hand away. “You’re gonna eat it all up and there won’t be enough left for me.”
Willow snorted. “There’s plenty there, Xander Harris. If you wouldn’t be such a piggy, we could share it with everybody.” She threw a few pieces down the row at the other kids. “Anyone want some popcorn before Mr. Greedy eats it all up?”
“Nuh uh.” Rupert refused, offering his licorice instead like a little gentleman. “It’s got his bloody spit all over it. How about you, Angel?” He nudged the little vampire with his elbow.
Angel sat, eyes riveted to the screen as he watched the characters’ antics. Unwilling to take his gaze from the screen, he shook his head no when Rupert poked him again.
“Don’t say I din’t ask you guys,” the little redhead harrumphed, sticking her hand back in the greasy bucket in spite of Xander’s protests.
Tara spent the remainder of the movie transporting first one child, then another to the bathroom and the snack bar. The list of goodies was staggering. More sodas, hot dogs, ice cream, peppermints, and a big giant pretzel for them all to share. Finally, she had to put her foot down.
“That’s enough, guys. As it is, I doubt we’ll be having anything for dinner. And maybe not for breakfast, either. Now hush and watch the end of the movie.”
The ride home was rather subdued. Rupert and Willow cuddled against Tara in the back seat, Xander curled into the door, and Angel insisted on sitting on Buffy’s lap.
“Little git better remember his place when all this is over, Slayer,” Spike growled, his unhappiness with Angel’s position clear to everyone in the car.
“Do you really trust me so little, Spike? After being in my face for the last two hours, I’m back to being ‘Slayer’ in your mind?” Buffy kept her voice low, not wanting to upset the little one on her lap.
“It’s not you I don’t trust, love,” he whined, looking just as cute as any of the younger set. “S’just that this closeness we have is so new, and they’ll all be back to what passes for normal tomorrow. I don’ want to lose…”
Buffy rested her hand on Spike’s thigh, gently stroking the well-muscled limb. “Hush, you. What makes you think things’ll change? I didn’t let them after our stint in kiddyland, and I won’t after theirs. Besides…” she grinned, poking the vampire in the ribs. “…you still have your winning bet to collect, right? I hope didn’t fall on my ass for nothing.”
“Din’t forget, Buffy. Guess I’m bein’ a might foolish, but this thing between us… s’better than the way things used to be, innit?”
“Then let’s get the little buggers into bed, and we’ll see just what we really do have between us. Sound good?”
She smiled to herself, letting his question go unanswered for the moment. It was one thing to be spontaneous… and another to actually get into bed and ‘do it’.
They turned into the driveway and hustled the sleepy children inside.
Spike was in the middle of the most marvelous dream. He and Buffy had made passionate love for several hours to the point of exhaustion. They lay cuddled together on a nest of blankets they’d strewn on the floor for comfort. It was so real he could feel the weight of her warm body against his. Smell the lingering scent of their combined essences. He instinctively tightened his arms, praying to hold onto the dream for a moment longer – knowing it would prove the fallacy of the illusion when he closed his arms around… Buffy?
Bloody hell, she was there. As real in his arms as she was in his dream.
“Ow, Spike. Ease up, willya?” she grumbled, turning over to nuzzle into his chest. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Before he had time to revel in his dream-come-true, one of their little charges decided to wake him up in a less than glorious manner.
“Spike, Spike! Wake up,” little Rupert insisted, pulling on the vampire’s hair until he sat up, regretfully letting go of Buffy.
“The house had better be burnin’, mate. It’s a mite late for you to be out of bed.”
“I don’t feel good, Spike. Can I sleep with you? And Buffy?” he added, peering over Spike’s shoulder.
“Will it get you to be quiet an’ give us some more sleep time?”
Rupert nodded, and crawled on top of the covers. Spike made sure he stayed on his side, considering both he and Buffy weren’t exactly expecting company. Thinking the matter dealt with, he settled back into sleep; a warm body on either side of him.
Not more than fifteen minutes later, it started again.
“Spike, wake up. I don’t feel so good.”
“Oi, mate. Hush now, or you’ll wake Buffy.” He patted the covers besides himself. “C’mon now and go back to sleep, that’s a good lad.”
“My tummy feels all wobbly, Spike,” Rupert whined. “It’s making noises.”
“Are you sure?”
Spike didn’t have time to get out of the way. Rupert’s stomach emptied right where he stood – over the vampire’s pillow.
“I told you I didn’t feel well,” the little boy sobbed, and vomited again.
“S’alright, pet. I believe you.” As he rooted around the blankets for his pants, he realized Buffy was up as well.
“Take him upstairs and get him into a bath, Spike. It’s probably all that crap we let them eat at the movies.” Buffy wrapped the clean end of the blanket around herself. “I’ll get dressed and make some tea to try and settle his tummy so we can all go back to sleep.”
Already splattered in the remnants of the movie feast, Spike picked Rupert up and sprinted up the stairs. “I really hope you remember what a patient and understanding fellow I can be, old man.” At Rupert’s nod, Spike said: “And I promise to listen the next time you tell me you’re not feelin’ right.”
This time, when the little face before him turned a deeper shade of green, Spike was ready. He held him over the toilet and let him rip.
By the time he headed downstairs, Spike’s little entourage had increased by three. While Rupert was getting cleaned up in the bath, Xander and Willow took turns anointing the toilet with their own overindulgences.
One more heave an’ I’m gonna do something I haven’t in a hundred and twenty five bloody years.
Angel, on the other hand, wasn’t sick. He just didn’t want to be left out.
“Oi, Buffy,” Spike called out halfway down the stairs. “Hope you made plenty ‘cause we have the whole upchuckin’ bunch.”
A bleary eyed Tara appeared behind him. “I’ll clean up the bathroom, Spike. Seems as if you have your hands full.”
“Not to mention m’blanket downstairs, Tara-love. Rupert sought fit to christen it earlier,” he grumbled, and headed for the kitchen.
The morning was spent ministering to three very cranky children. Four, actually, if you counted Angel. Just because he wasn’t sick didn’t mean he didn’t want his fair share of attention.
“My god, Spike,” Buffy panted as she pulled the vampire aside. “I don’t know how the hell my mother survived my childhood. “These guys are gonna be the death of me. Just one more…”
“Buuuuffy,” Rupert called from the bedroom. “More tea would be smashing. It makes me feel aaaall better.”
“One, two… wait for it,” she whispered, not moving from the spot.
“Buuuuffy, can I have some ging’rale? I’m tired of having tea,” Willow whined. “And some chicken soup, like my Bubbe makes?”
Burying her face in Spike’s t-shirt, she mumbled, “One more… I know it’s coming.”
“Buuuuffy, I’m feeling better. Can I have some twinkies?” Xander begged. “I’m all empty now, I promise.”
“Sit, love. I’ll get the little moochers their goodies.” Spike stroked her hair as Buffy slid down the wall, shoulders rigid with tension. “Hey, Angel. Anythin’ you want, mate? You’re the only country not been heard from.”
Angel slipped out of the bedroom, stepping over Buffy’s prone form with a funny look on his face. “Is she okay, Spike? She don’t look too good.”
“Just tired, mate. Let’s you an’ me head down to the kitchen and bring back what the mob is callin’ for. Buffy’ll get up when she’s ready. Xander,” he called as he walked down the stairs. “You can forget those bloody twinkies.”
A loud, baritone ‘Oh, dear Lord’ was heard coming from the upstairs bedroom, followed by several unmanly squeaks and the shuffle of not so little feet and slamming doors.
Buffy looked at her companions with a deep sigh of relief. “It’s over, isn’t it? Really and truly over?”
“No more emergency potty runs or cleaning up somebody else’s vomit,” Tara agreed. “It’ll be nice to have some alone time, I think. Children are definitely not on my immediate agenda.”
Spike remained silent, sitting on the couch with his eyes shut and his head down.
“What’sa matter, Big Bad? Gonna miss the kiddies?” Buffy tried her best to lighten his mood, but to no avail.
The vampire’s shoulders slumped even further.
“Oh, Spike,” Tara patted him gently on the back. “It’ll be all right. At least you’ll still have Buffy and me. It won’t go back to the way things were.”
They all looked up when Xander came thundering down the stairs.
“Gotta go,” he muttered, not looking at anyone in the face, and slammed out the front door.
Willow followed shortly after, not saying a single word as she slipped out the kitchen entrance.
Last down the stairs were Giles and Angel, both looking a little embarrassed.
“Yes, right,” Giles murmured, looking at the exhausted trio on his couch. “If you don’t mind, I believe I’ll make some more tea for myself. This business of growing up in mere minutes is a mite unsettling; as I’m sure you’ll both remember.”
Angel stared at the floor, mumbled something about calling Cordelia, and then followed Giles into the kitchen.
Buffy and Tara giggled at the soft-spoken ‘Pouf’ they heard from their otherwise silent vampire.