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January 2007 – The Way It Is
Things are good for the Summers-Bennett family. Spike and Buffy have settled into their newlywed lives, doing absolutely nothing but watching their daughter thrive.
Willa’s third birthday approaches with much trepidation. Will the birthday curse hold true this year, or will peace and good health be the order of the day? Invitations have been sent out and every day the little one comes home from playgroup, another acceptance announced with a joyous giggle.
“Mama!” she yells. “Gotta sekit! Treena likes Unca Xanner.”
Buffy smiles. Guess she and Molly will be spending a little ‘girl-time’ together. Xander doesn’t stand a chance.
February 13, 2007 – I’m Free!
“I’m free! I’m free!” Willa bounces up and down on the mattress, her exuberance a bit much to take at four in the morning. “Mama, Papa, wake up. Want my party dress. My special free years old party dress.”
“C’mere, bitlet,” Spike groans, eyes still shut. “S’too early to be up. Papa an’ Mama just went to sleep.” He holds out his arms for the mite to cuddle into, hoping for a couple hours reprieve from the birthday monster.
She goes in for a snuggle, but her giggles and wiggles have Spike wishing she’d just bounce on the bed again.
They finally tumble out of bed at eight o’clock. Buffy can barely contain her laughter over the way their daughter has wrapped her father around her little finger. First comes breakfast, then bathtime
The tent is already set up in the backyard so Papa can join in all the fun. Buffy is determined he not lose any more time with his family if she can make it so.
Friends and family gather ‘round. Mama aims the camera and two days later a stunning picture of Spike and Willa blowing out her birthday candles sits on the mantle over the fireplace.
March 2007 – By Rote
“Mama! Papa! You forgotted the plate.”
They look at each other and groan. Every night for weeks it’s the same thing: bath, teeth, snuggle and story, goodnight kisses, Goodnight Moon, and a glass of water with a saucer on the nightstand. One element out of order is enough to add a half hour to bedtime.
Spike gives in right away and hurries downstairs to fetch the missing saucer. The sooner it’s in place, the sooner he can get back to his wife.
Tired of waiting for her husband, Buffy checks Willa’s room an hour later, finding them both fast asleep.
April 2007 – Anniversary Waltz
The honeymoon’s over; the bloom is off the rose; be careful what you wish for… clichés are clichés for a reason – they have a habit of ringing true.
For two days they haven’t spoken a civil word to each other, ever since the note came home from playgroup. They argue and throw things in frustration.
They hide from each other, and Willa bears the brunt of the fights and the sour dispositions. She whines and cries, seeking comfort in her Papa’s arms, angering her Mama even more.
Willa stays home from school, complaining of tummy trouble, as the tension mounts.
Friends and family have been called and notified that their first anniversary celebration has been canceled. Buffy tries the diplomatic approach. “Now isn’t a good time,” she demurs. When they don’t stop asking questions, Spike grabs the phone. “We’re not even talking to each other. Just leave us alone,” he bellows.
Eventually the phone stops ringing and the combatants are left to work through this on their own. Neither gives on the issue at hand.
Miss Kara’s letter states Willa is biting the other children and Mama and Papa come down in opposite camps.
Willa wants her happy family back.
One year married and they’re still dancing… but this time it’s to different drummers. Buffy’s locked away in their bedroom, while Spike glowers and paces alone in the livingroom.
“Ungrateful bint,” he fumes. “Think she’d be happy the Big Bad’s been tamed, but no… still not good enough.” He sits on the couch; head in his hands, muttering like a madman.
He feels a tug on his sleeve and looks up into his daughter’s upset face. “Mama’s crying.” Stamping her little foot Willa points upstairs and says, “Go fix it.”
With a kiss to her head, Spike reluctantly goes upstairs.
Just as Spike readies to knock on the door, a silent, swollen-eyed Buffy opens it and steps aside, retreating to the bed. Her posture is stiff and unyielding, and he sits, looking at her from the opposite end of the bed.
“Mite’s all upset by the fightin’, pet.”
“So’s your wife.”
“I’d’ve thought you’d be happy I wasn’t rushin’ off to eat the teacher.”
“Willa’s the daughter of a vampire for God’s sake. They should understand the bitey thing, not punish her.”
Spike hangs his head in shame. One more way he’s failed his girl… girls.
Something has to give.
The front door slams open; spooking a run downstairs to make sure their precious child is safe.
“What the bloody hell is wrong with you, git? Breakin’ into a man’s home an’ scarin’ his family?”
Angel stands in the livingroom, Willa crying in his arms. “Stop yelling, Papa. My ears are all hurted.”
Chastened by his three year old daughter, Spike quiets, reaching back blindly for Buffy’s hand and finding it waiting for him.
“Why are you here, Angel?” asks Buffy.
“Your daughter called, crying. Said you two were in big trouble and couldn’t come to the phone.”
Buffy drops to her knees, aggrieved over her little one’s pain. She and Spike have been too caught up in their own misery to realize the effect of their fighting on their child.
Wiggling out of Grandpa Angel’s arms, the mite runs over to her mother, grasping her tightly in a hug. She calls, “Papa?” opening her little arms wider to encompass both parents.
“Idiots,” says Angel, fondly, grateful that it’s only a lovers’ spat, and for the picture phone they’ve recently taught the young one to use in an emergency.
Everything can be worked out when you’re in love.
It’s a beautiful night, but the stars twinkling in the midnight blue of the sky have nothing on the sparks that shine between Spike’s blue eyes and Buffy’s hazel. Love shows true and clear once more, as they finally celebrate their first anniversary at an impromptu party on the beach thrown by Dawn.
Willa flits from one person to another, wearing her new fairy princess costume. She sprinkles glitter on everyone, wanting them all to be as happy as her family.
Xander and Molly aren’t overly surprised when the child dumps the remainder of the container’s contents on their heads.
May 2007 – What Ails You
Willa is miserable. Her nose is stuffy, her head aches, and her chest is congested. By nightfall her fever has reached one hundred and four degrees. Mama tries hard to soothe her, but after a few kisses and hugs she’s asking for Papa. “Too hot, Mama. Go away,” she whines.
Papa snuggles into bed with his little one; his cooler body temperature soothing to her overheated skin. And even though Mama knows better, she can’t help but feel she’s being pushed aside in their daughter’s affections.
Buffy remembers what it’s like to be Daddy’s Princess… before Dawn took her place.
June 2007 – Graduation Day
Angel’s anniversary present finally arrives… necro-tempered glass for the house, and a similarly equipped car, allowing the couple a daytime freedom that’s intoxicating. Any place with an inside garage is fair game.
Playgroup ends, but Willa’s excited about a summer camp program – a combination of indoor/outdoor activities that parents and children participate in. Mama’s agreed to accompany the class on outings to the zoo and the beach. Papa’s volunteered to hold a storytime hour and help the kidlets with arts and crafts.
They hold a mini-graduation ceremony, complete with mortarboards. This time Papa takes the picture of mite and Mum.
July 2007 – Father Goose
It’s Treena who gives Spike his new nickname – Father Goose. He doesn’t mind sitting on the floor surrounded by the munchkins. There are no complaints when a child hangs over his shoulders or even climbs into his lap.
However, even Willa stamping her feet and crying will not get Spike to wear the bloody bonnet!
The parents now gather ‘round for storytime. Spike’s smooth, accented voice casts a spell that enchants all who listen to the fanciful tales of mystical characters.
When Buffy arrives to take her family home, she’s greeted with envious stares. She’s torn between pride and jealousy.
August 2007 – Oh, Those Summer Nights
Hot August nights… the last bastion for families before vacations end and school starts; fragmenting a unit into parts.
Most of the tension between Spike and Buffy has eased; not vanquished, but for the moment no longer an issue.
They spend every night on the beach. Willa learns to swim as befits a California girl, even with dual British citizenship. Sandcastles grow high, and are washed out with the tide.
Buffy’s Olympic event, where she outshines any and all competitors? Shopping for Willa’s pre-school wardrobe. Their little one will be the epitome of playground chic.
Spike sits back and basks.
September 2007 – Lesson the First
After dinner, Willa kisses both her parents. “Nite. M’sleepy now,” and heads off to her room.
“Spike, it’s only seven-thirty. Her routine… maybe she’s sick?”
“Mite didn’t feel warm, pet. Let’s go upstairs an’ check.”
Dressed in her pajamas, Willa’s lying in bed, hugging her teddy bear and crying softly.
Mama strokes her forehead. “What’s the matter, sweetie? Are you sick?”
“I don’ wanna go to school,” she wails. “I’m dumb!”
“Don’t fret, lamb.” Papa gathers her into his arms. “You’re very smart.”
“But I don’t know everything.
Her parents sooth her fears, and she finally settles in to sleep.
October 2007 – Doctor, Doctor
The little bus delivers Willa to her home at three o’clock. Mama sets her up with a glass of milk, several cookies and a fruit.
“Oh, Mama. I wanna be a docker,” she gushes.
Buffy looks confused. “You want to work on a boat?”
“Silly Mama. No boats.” Willa laughs. “A docker with a white coat an’ he makes you take all your cloths off.”
Papa walks into the kitchen. “Playin’ doctor already, Poppet?” he glowers. “Nobody touches you where your undergarments cover.”
“No worry, Papa.” She grins before heading upstairs to her room. “I do it better, myself.”
November 2007 – Thankful
“Mr. Bennett!” The urgency of the voice and the pounding on the door send Spike running in panic. Buffy is unconscious and cradled in the arms of a neighbor. He’s never been so grateful for their daughter being with Xander, Molly and Treena in his unlife.
She comes to with a moan several hours later, in her husband’s caring arms.
“What the bloody hell happened to you, luv?”
“Sugroth demon,” she whispers, tears falling.
Spike holds her closer. “Sugroth venom is toxic. You’re lucky to be alive.”
“Not as lucky as you think,” she sobs, staring blankly with unseeing eyes.
Spike is devastated as he listens to the tale of Buffy’s patrol. She’d insisted on going alone – needing some peace from the tension that still keeps them from the happiness of their first married months.
The Sugroth caught her unaware, from behind. All she remembers is it spitting in her face, followed by intense burning. She crawled as far as she could before her sight vanished and she passed out.
He prays to the bastard Powers That Be as he drips cold water into her eyes, hoping to ease her pain. He curses his bloody pride for leaving her unprotected.
It’s a quiet Thanksgiving for the Summers-Bennetts this year. No friends or family at their own request. Buffy’s sight is slowly returning to normal. Nobody complains. The little family is entitled to heal in private.
Each and every day Spike and Buffy renew their commitment to each other; finally recognizing the petty and normal jealousies and oversights for what they are.
They sit back with pride as Willa matures; her biting is a thing of the past. She’s blossoming in pre-school, and the only notes they get from school sing her praises.
Extended family is promised a Christmas to remember.
December 2007 – A Family Man
What a year it’s been for them all. Emotionally and physically, everyone has been put through the wringer and come out the stronger for it.
Christmas finds the little house stuffed to the rafters with beloved people and joy. Their family has two new additions – Xander has announced his engagement to Molly with a happiness that’s been missing for far too long. Obviously Treena has the bestest present this year – a Daddy for Christmas.
Giles looks around the dinner table with pride. His children have come through hells that would have destroyed lesser people.
“Happy Holidays to all,” he toasts.