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January 2010 – Checkpoint
Tara and Tyler are being bathed and dressed in preparation for their six month checkup. Mama notices a small bruise on one of Tara’s little legs, but doesn’t pay it much attention. The babies are active and happy and it’s possible Tyler has kicked his sister at some point.
The doctor pronounces them well, with a slight touch of anemia. She sends them home with a prescription for an iron supplement; two drops, twice a day. “Nothing to worry about,” she says. “See you next month.” She hands Willa a balloon for being patient while the twins were being examined.
February 2010 – Monkeyshines
Mama takes Willa and her first grade class to the zoo for her sixth birthday, aided by Molly and several other parents. Papa is home with the bits and Will, allowing their daughter to have a ‘big girl’ birthday. Will he be crazed by the time Buffy comes home? Three six month old children will insure it.
Speaking of the power of three, Spike has three naked tushies squirming on the floor in front of him – a diaper change en masse. He notices how much paler his children are than Xander’s son, but attributes it to his own English complexion.
Willa comes tearing into the house after her zoo day, happy as a lark. “Papa! The monkeys were throwing poop and the monkey house was all stinky.”
“Sounds like fun, mite. Smells a bit like a monkey house here, too.” Spike smiled at his wife as she sat down beside him.
Buffy laughs. Obviously the day was good for her, as well. “I’m gonna have to make this up to you big time, aren’t I?”
“I can think of a few ways you can earn points towards balancin’ the scales, pet.”
“After Xander picks up Will, we’ll see,” she grinned.
March 2010 - What’s Up, Doc?
It’s a lazy, rainy, Saturday afternoon and the Bennetts have slept peacefully through the night. Willa is playing quietly in her bedroom and Mama goes to rouse the twins. She tickles their bellies, fully expecting the gurgles and coos that have become routine. What she gets sends her running for her husband.
“Spike,” she cries. Call the pediatrician! The babies won’t wake up and they’re feverish.” A frantic phone call to the doctor has them buckling their children into their carseats and heading to the hospital.
Dr. Schwartz met them in Emergency, not happy with the sluggishness of the babies.
Mama and Papa stay in the waiting room with Willa, trying to keep themselves calm for her sake. When Dr. Schwartz comes out of the examining room, her grim expression makes Buffy reach for her husband.
“We’d like to keep the babies overnight and run some blood work. Tara’s fever is 103 degrees and Tyler’s is 103.5; they’ve lost almost half a pound each since their last checkup. What worries me most is their lethargy. How have they been acting for the past few days?”
“They’ve been a little quieter than usual,” Spike offers. “But they’ve been alert and happy.”
Papa ends up taking Willa home and Mama stays with the twins. Blood work confirms the need for a transfusion, and Tara and Tyler perk up considerably. Their fevers break overnight and the little ones are fussing and kicking at the steel bars of the hospital crib, anxious for their freedom.
Dr. Schwartz signs their release papers by late afternoon, and Spike is able to drive them home. “Anything we have to watch out for, luv?”
“Just more of the same,” says Buffy. “Also rashes or bruises. They should be fine, now.”
Both parents are silent on the way home.
April 2010 – The Green Eyed Monster
Willa develops a jealous streak that has her parents tearing their hair out. It’s not enough that they’re worried about their little ones’ health… now they have to worry about their firstborn flying off the handle.
When Tara pulls herself up on her sister’s table, her fingers are pushed off, causing the little one to fall. Tyler follows his older sister around the house, pulling himself up on her legs whenever she stands still. Willa runs so that he can’t catch her.
Mama tries to soothe her eldest. “They love you, sweetie. They just want a little attention.”
The little ones have been crying all day. Buffy is lying down with a headache; Willa is locked away in her room, trying to drown out the crying with her CD player. And Spike, the Slayer of Slayers? He’s trying his best to remember he loves them all.
A quick call to Xander and the sounds of little Will screaming in the background and Treena having a temper tantrum strengthen the bond between them. They vow a boys’ night out as soon as possible.
Spike closes his eyes for a few moments, knowing the twins are safe in their playpen.
His respite doesn’t last long. “Papa! Papa! The twins!” Willa shouts out.
“Wonderful,” he grumbles. “Wonder what she can possibly be complaining about now.” With a groan Spike makes his way to the playpen. What he sees would have stopped his heart had it been beating. “Mite, go wake up Mama, fast!
Buffy was at his side in moments, gasping at the bruising on the babies’ limbs. Spike made another hurried call to Dr. Schwartz as his wife secured the children in their car seats once again.
Willa starts to cry. “I didn’t do anything, Mama. I didn’t hurt them.”
In the midst of the horror of finding their babies looking like they’d gone three rounds with a prize fighter, they have to remember Willa. She’s been so jealous of her siblings that her denial scares them even more.
Once again meeting them in Emergency, Dr. Schwartz has the babies thoroughly examined, coming back with a possible diagnosis that has the parents reeling. Leukemia. Buffy clings to Spike while the doctor explains her findings.
How can things go so wrong, so quickly? Why would the fates be so cruel as to take them away in the most painful way possible?
Holding Tyler and Tara in their laps, they try and make sense of what the doctor is saying. Leukemia is not a death sentence. It might not be the diagnosis at all, just a possibility. Either way it has them reeling. Those bruises indicate a blood disorder of some kind.
What was it Spike once said? “’Cause it’s always got to be blood.” Just never thought it would refer to their children.
They want to transfuse the twins once more… buy themselves some time while digging further for an actual diagnosis.
Everyone’s heartbreak is palpable. Willa is almost beyond comforting.
May 2010 – Life Goes On
The bruises fade, the children thrive, but the Bennett family dynamic has been changed. Mama and Papa watch over the little ones like hawks. The carefree rough and tumble play has stopped, replaced with soft touches and pained smiles. Even Willa is affected. Her jealousy gone for the moment, she spends every spare moment with her siblings.
They’re afraid. The family pulls into themselves, avoiding all contact with the outside world. Outside of Willa going to school, they speak to nobody. Buffy doesn’t dare unplug the phone, but she screens all incoming calls.
Friends are determined to make things better.
The Harrises force the issue. They pick up Willa and drop her off at their home, leaving the three children in care of their trusted babysitter. Molly stays with Buffy and Xander pulls Spike out of the house for that boys’ night out. It’s not for the fun and games they deserve. Tonight is a rescue mission.
“What’s wrong, Spike?” he pushes, knowing that for once the vampire wouldn’t offer. “Why won’t you let us help?”
“Would that you could, mate,” Spike tearfully admits, and tells the sad tale of his children’s misfortunes.
Xander won’t allow him to hide again.
Molly sits in shock as Buffy tells her about Dr. Schwartz’s fears. “How can you keep all this to yourself?” she cries, holding her best friend close. “We’re best friends and mothers. When your children are in pain, I feel it.”
Buffy watches her little ones crawl around the livingroom through tear-filled eyes and realizes she and Spike have been on a deathwatch. The diagnosis hasn’t even been properly made yet and they’ve all stopped living. Thanking whatever powers brought Molly into their lives, Buffy vows to take back their happiness.
When their husbands return, it’s to two determined women.
Willa walks over to her Papa, hugging him tightly. Spike swings her into his arms and looks deeply into her serious blue eyes. “What’s up, mite?”
She cocks her head in an imitation of her father. “Are you sick too, Papa?”
“I’m fine, sweeting. What makes you think I’m sick?” he asks, curious as to where her mind is heading.
“The babies need blood and the doctor says they’re sick. You drink blood all the time,” she reasons. “Does that mean you’re sick?”
No! That’s so simple it has to be wrong. Or does it? Spike beckons to his wife.
It’s an experiment; that’s how they view it. Spike places a few ounces of warmed blood in a juice bottle, and enlarges the hole in the nipple to allow for the thickness. One taste will tell the tale. Blood is not a pleasant taste for the human palate.
Tara drains the bottle with relish and holds it out for more.
Buffy emerges from the kitchen with two full bottles and watches the twins imbibe the viscous fluid. She’s said it before: her children were fathered by a vampire. Their need for blood shouldn’t be so surprising.
Please, let this help.
June 2010 – A Bloody Miracle
Uncle Xander presents the eldest Bennett child with a plaque for her room that boldly states: “Children should be seen and heard!” It becomes one of her most prized possessions.
Joy rules again in the Bennett household. It takes trial and error before the right amount of blood is determined for the twins; two eight ounce bottles a week of human blood, type A, is sufficient to keep the babies healthy.
Xander and Molly ask their friends to be Godparents to Treena and Will, and the honor is reciprocated. Legal documents are drawn up and filed away in family safes.
July 2010 – The Gang’s All Here
There hasn’t been much time for celebration this year and now that the babies are healthy, the Bennetts have gone all out for their first birthday. The tent is back up in the backyard, and everyone they know has been invited to share in the festivities.
Giles, Willow, Dawn and Andrew have flown in for the occasion and are mobbed by the trio of youngsters as soon as they enter the house. Tara’s recently found her legs and toddles from person to person, while Tyler crawls and cruises.
The house is quickly overrun and Buffy herds them towards the tent.
Angel and Lorne arrive; hoping to get a reading from the children after the party is over. After the scare with the twins, any kind of heads up about their condition is welcome.
“How’s my girl?” asks Angel, as he picks up Willa and airplanes her above his head. “Keeping your fangs clean?”
Willa vamps, showing off her pearly whites. “Brush both sets twice a day, Grandpa. Papa makes sure.”
The little girl’s pretty blue eyes in her demon face turn Angel into a puddle of goo.
The wide circle of friends she has gives him hope for the future.
In a rare moment together, watching Dawn take pictures of friends and family, Spike asks: “Did I ever tell you about the time me an’ Dru were in Florida in the sixties?”
“Can’t say that you did, sweetie. I am curious as to why you’d bring her up, now.”
“Used to visit a place called Parrot Jungle. They’d line up birds on your arms an’ take piccies. Real touristy. Dru used to like the way their claws would scratch her arms.”
“And this is relevant, how?” Buffy asked.
Spike pointed to Giles, one baby on each hip… Dawn taking pictures.
Willow corners Buffy and asks if she’d consider submitting pictures of the children to modeling agencies. “Goddess but they’ve been whacked with the pretty stick,” she murmurs.
Mama assesses her brood, critically:
Willa’s a lively little sprite; golden blonde hair done up in a French braid, sparkling blue eyes, and a ready smile.
Tyler’s hair is as straight as his Mama’s, hazel eyes sparkling with mischief. Tara’s got her Papa’s curly locks and shy disposition; her eyes a soft sea green.
“They’re just our children, Will.” Buffy smiles warmly. “Spike and I aren’t ready to share them with the world.”
Andrew trails after Dawn like a puppy. He carries her camera bag, reloads her film and fetches food and drink at her command. “Did you ever think about having some rug-rats of your own?” he asks, a wistful smile graces his face as he ruffles the hair of some passing tot.
“I think I’d have to find a man first,” is Dawn’s ready answer, not seeing the pain flicker in the man’s eyes.
“Maybe you should look a little harder at who’s right under your nose,” he mutters, voicing the words that have been sticking in his throat for months.
Xander holds Will in his arms, soothing away his son’s tears. Looking up he finds himself standing next to Angel. “Something I can do for you, Dea… Angel?” he asks, the old words not easily forgotten.
“Just admiring your son.” Reaching out his hand to touch the boy’s chubby cheek, Angel pauses, asking permission.
Handing little Will over to the vampire, Xander says, “Let’s see how Uncle Angel handles you, my little hellbeast,” chucking him under the chin.
“Any child named after William the Bloody is bound to be a handful.” Angel grins as Will grabs fistfuls of his hair.
He’s been in this position before, Giles thinks. On the outside; an observer to life instead of participating in it. Buffy’s nineteenth birthday comes to mind. It left him feeling old and out of place. She’s thirty now – three children and a vampire husband - inconceivable. He has to admit that she’s never been happier or looked better.
Startled out of his reverie by little hands pulling at him, Giles smiles into the beautiful faces of Tara and Tyler. “Up! Up!” they chorus.
When he bends to pick up the twins, Willa zooms over and kisses him on the cheek.
“I love you, Grandpa Giles,” she says, pulling him towards her circle of friends. “Play Hokey Pokey with us?”
Another flash of memory brings up Buffy’s vision quest, and this time Giles smiles. Kissing each child on the cheek, he hands them off to one admiring fan or another and allows the Grandfather mantle to settle in place. “Lead on, MacDuff,” he says as Willa giggles.
One nudge leads to another and still another and before long everyone is participating in the group game, except for Andrew, who’s recording for posterity.
It becomes an annual favorite shown at family gatherings.
Soon after the final strains of ‘Happy Birthday’ fade away, Lorne pulls Spike and Buffy aside. “There’s no need to read the petite fours individually. I’ve been reading the group all day and there ain’t a bad vibe to be found.”
Looking out over the thinning crowd, he turns to Spike. “That doesn’t mean you don’t have some very special munchkins, mon ami. I’d keep those blue eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary where they’re concerned.”
“Learned that lesson the hard way, mate. Sometimes forget the kidlets are part vampire.”
“You sometimes forget you’re a vampire,” Lorne grinned.
August 2010 – Growing Pains
Mama and Papa are feeling the squeeze in their little house these days. What’s cozy for three is downright cramped for five. They’re in need of another bedroom and a playroom.
“Maybe we can ask Xander to design an addition to the house.” Buffy mused, trying to be practical. “We can always ask for the godparent discount.”
Spike was intrigued by the idea of more space for his family. “Could always make over the garage. Would save yard space.”
“Sounds good. We’ll talk it over with the construction expert and see what he says will work best. Get the phone.”
Xander comes over after dinner and walks around the house and the yard, getting a feel for the new addition. Vamp safety precludes remodeling the garage, and while he agrees that putting a second story over the garage would be the most efficient, worry about carbon dioxide fumes from the car make it a bad idea.
In the end, they decide to extend the living room and add a second story, which will place the third bedroom right next to Willa’s and the playroom right off the livingroom. As an added bonus, Xander’ll rework the attic into two home offices.
By the time the plans are drawn up and the costs estimated, the Bennetts decide to put off construction until the Spring. They needed time to gather the finances and figure out just what they wanted. Decorating materials – paint colors, wallpapers, wooden trim… all to be decided on before the project is begun.
As usual, Angel promises necro-tempered glass for the windows. Not that he’s overly concerned for Spike, he says, but you never know if the bitlets might develop a sun allergy, and he’s not taking a chance with their welfare.
They have plenty of time for the details.
September 2010 – The Tooth Fairy
Willa came home from school with trails of blood dripping down her chin. “Mama! Ook ah me!” Buffy tried to quell her panic at the sight of her bloodied daughter. Spike came racing down the stairs having smelt the coppery fluid.
She holds her hand out; a teensy little white tooth with bloody flecks and a piece of tissue nestles in her palm. “If few owt by issewf!”
Spike snorted, mumbling something about ‘falling out with the help of a pair of pliers’. For a lark, he said, “Change, mite.”
Gamefaced and gap-toothed; Buffy couldn’t think of a cuter sight.
October 2010 – Halloween Treat
The Bennetts and Harrises decide to co-host a community-wide costume party for children of all ages. Buffy dresses up as Old Mother Hubbard, complete with grey wig and stuffed dog. Spike finally wears the Mother Goose bonnet from pre-school, delighting all the children he’s read to.
Willa is all decked out as Little Bo Peep, and the twins are dressed as sheep. Each ‘baaah’ from Tara and Tyler sends their older sister into fits of giggles; so of course, they do it as often as they can. Tyler is walking now, and Willa holds the leash to their baby harnesses.
Keeping with the fairytale theme, Treena is dressed as Snow White, and little Will is dressed as one of the Dwarves. Molly and Xander come as the Wicked Queen and the Huntsman.
There are standard Halloween games, including a wet and dry version of bobbing for apples, pin the nose on the jack-o-lantern, and of course, the hit of the night is Spike’s reading of a very condensed version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, still wearing the bonnet.
Some of the other parents bring goody bags as door prizes for all the children. Everyone goes home tired and happy.
November 2010 – The Festival of Lights
Willow flies into town, bringing Rebecca, the stewardess – her current paramour. They’ve been seeing each other since July. This year they’re not celebrating Thanksgiving. In honor of their guests, Molly and Buffy have planned and prepared a Hanukkah meal, complete with latkes and applesauce.
A beautiful brass Tree of Life menorah is the centerpiece of the dinner table, and Willow recites the traditional prayers in Hebrew as she lights the candles.
After dinner, Rebecca tells the story of Hanukkah and Willa listens with rapt attention. Her eyes light up when she hears one present for each of the eight nights.
After dinner, they sit around the fireplace, exchanging gifts. Willa does get eight small presents; the prettiest one is a Star of David pendant on a chain that she insists Willow fasten around her neck. Mama warns her to be careful when hugging Papa.
Tyler and Tara receive lots of prettily wrapped gifts. Mostly blocks individually wrapped, just for the fun of opening them. Treena and Will receive their fair share, as well.
Eventually the children tire. Baths are taken, diapers changed and little ones settled down for the night.
Everyone cuddles around their partner and talks the night away.
December 2010 – A Pox On Your House
When Buffy sees the first marks on Tyler’s body she panics like a madwoman. She thought they were free and clear with the addition of blood to the little ones’ diets. “Spike!” she yells. “Bring Tara upstairs right now!”
Fearing the worst, the vampire scoops up his youngest daughter and flies up the stairs, making the little one laugh out loud with glee. “What’s the matter, pet?” he gasps, not enough air in his system to speak calmly.
She points to Tyler’s chest, watching blisters rise one after the other. Quickly stripping off Tara’s shirt they find the same blisters.
Before either can reach for the phone, Willa announces that she’s home from school. “No school for me,” she sing-songs. “Got the chicken poxes.”
“Come upstairs, mite,” Papa calls. “Let me look at you.” Sure enough, Willa is covered from head to toe with the same blisters as her siblings.
Mama lets out a laugh that borders on the hysterical. “Oh God, Spike!” she cries. “It’s normal. Our kids are sick with a normal childhood disease. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy about an illness in my life.”
Spike takes the breath he didn’t realize he was holding.
Dr. Schwartz is called, just to keep the children’s medical records up to date. “Don’t give them aspirin for the fever, give them Tylenol,” was the only medical advice she could offer.
The next two weeks are hell. When the pox begin to itch, it was easy to explain to Willa why she shouldn’t scratch the blisters. However, explaining the same concept to two miserable seventeen month olds was impossible.
Oatmeal baths become de rigueur, and Mama and Papa buy calamine lotion by the case. By the time the children are through the worst of it, their parents are exhausted.