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January 2011 – Book Her, Dan-O
Several large boxes arrive by UPS with the return address of Elgin-Hill Publishers printed on the label. It’s only a vanity-press publication, but Buffy is as proud of it as she is of anything she’s done before. Several hundred copies of Everyone Has a Mother have been printed.
It’s a beautiful publication; definitely a child’s picture book with glossy heavy-board pages. No words other than an identifying label of each species. Newborn babies on the left-hand side; full-grown mothers on the right.
All of Buffy’s maternal feelings come rushing to the fore as she remembers walking pregnant through the zoo.
“Oh, Mama,” gushes Willa. “The pictures are so beautiful! The animals look just as pretty as I remember. And no bars to hide them.”
Buffy soaks up the praise from her eldest daughter, blushing slightly. Outside of her family, she’s never been acknowledged for doing anything of note. She was Chosen to Slay, she was blessed to have children and a loving husband, but she chose to pick up the camera.
“Thank you, my sweetness. I’m very proud of how the book turned out.”
“And we’re all proud of you, luv,” Spike whispers in her ear. “Just for being you.”
February 2011 – Things Look Grimm
Mrs. Howser stands in front of the class and calls on the students to read from their book of the week, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. She calls Willa’s name once, twice, before bringing her hand down on the desk, startling the child.
“Are you so enchanted with our book that you can’t hear me calling for you to read the next page, Miss Bennett?” the teacher asks, her voice laced with annoyance.
Willa blushes. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Howser. I was bored and brought my own book to read.” She hands her the copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
The teacher isn’t pleased at having her lessons called boring. Considering the reading material to be several grades above the ability of her student, Mrs. Howser tries another tack.
“Since you find our material so boring, perhaps you’d like to share your book?” The teacher’s stern countenance brooks no arguments.
Standing up in front of the room, Willa began: “There was once a poor widow who lived in a lonely cottage. In front of the cottage was a garden wherein stood two rose-trees, one of which bore white and the other red roses.”
A note goes home to her parents.
Willa stares at her shoes as Mama and Papa read the letter from Mrs. Howser. “You know not payin’ attention to your teacher is the wrong thing to do, Mite,” chides Papa, trying to be stern and parental and failing miserably.
“Sweetie, if you felt the books were too easy, you should have told your teacher before or after class,” says Mama.
A letter is sent back to Mrs. Howser.
A week later, the teacher presents a familiar bonnet to her happy student, and the Willa Goose reading hour is a complete success for the rest of the school year.
March 2011 – Overexposure
In the middle of the moans and gasps that signify one of their quieter lovemaking sessions, Spike freezes, and not in that ‘hold on tight, baby – here I come’ way. Sure enough, standing in the doorway with a full view of her parents’ interlocking bits and pieces, is Willa.
They disentangle themselves, pulling the covers up for modesty’s sake. “What’s the matter, sweetie?” asks Mama, trying to even out her breathing and hoping that they haven’t traumatized their girl too badly.
“You guys make an awful lot of noise, Mama,” Willa says, eyes wide with what she’s been witness to.
Papa calls his not so little one over to his side of the bed now that he’s all hidden under the quilt. “Any questions you want to ask about what you saw, Mite?”
She thinks for a moment, and then cants her head. “Are we gonna have a new baby?”
They never expected to have this discussion so early in their daughter’s life, and naked and sweaty from their interrupted session is not the best time.
Mama is relieved at Willa’s calm acceptance of what she’s seen. “No new babies, sweet girl, but we’ll talk to you in the morning”
After a smooch from her parents and promises to keep the noise down, Willa trundles off to bed, leaving Spike and Buffy quietly stunned in her wake.
“I’m impressed that she’s got the parental boinking equals baby connection down,” sighed Buffy, not looking forward to tomorrow’s discussion.
“Truth is, luv, we don’t know what she knows for sure. We’ll make sure she’s got it right.” He cuddles closer to his wife, the time for passion over for the moment. “Sleep now, Scarlett. Tomorrow is another day.”
Glad for the support, Buffy slips into sleep, wrapped tightly in her husband’s embrace.
April 2011 – The New Addition
Spike and Buffy have been married for five years – the traditional wood anniversary – and each and every guest brings the same oh, so clever gift for the half vampire couple: a beribboned stake. Some are mahogany, some are teak, some are ebony, oak, and pine to round out the selection; all sharpened.
The first stake makes Spike laugh. Of course he knows the significance, and what does one get for the vampire who has everything after all, right? The fifth stake is still chuckle worthy. By the time the twentieth stake makes its appearance, Spike’s gameface is threatening to surface.
Buffy tries to soothe her barely restrained husband, praying that this is all a gag. Their friends couldn’t all be so cruel, could they? Before she could defend Spike’s hurt feelings, William and Treena Harris drag in a large, bulky present.
“Happy ‘versary, Annie Buffy an’ Unca Spike,” chirps Xander’s and Molly’s youngest, as his sister lifts the gift into her arms and hands it to Spike.
“What’s this all about, Poppet?” he asks, relieved that the stakes are a joke.
“We all got one big anniversary present for you and Aunt Buffy.” Treena smiles, proud to make the presentation.
Spike hands the gift to his wife for the unveiling, and Buffy rips into the paper with relish. She holds up… a dollhouse with a box glued to one side? “Okay,” she says, rather perplexed. “As unsettling as the stakes were, at least they made sense. What’s the what with this?”
A blushing Xander hands Spike a large manila envelope. “Sorry, pal. I meant to tape this to the house last night, but got… distracted. You know how it is,” he said, winking.
Opening the envelope reveals blueprints for the planned changes to the Bennett household, marked ‘Paid in Full’.
May 2011 – Baker’s Man
How hard can it be? Buffy and Willa do it all the time, and if he runs into trouble, his daughter will show him where he went wrong. Right? Right?
So why, pray tell, is Willa sitting on the floor, doubled over with laughter as the batter drips from kitchen cabinets and the twins are running around, shaking sprinkles all over the floor?
Spike gives up all pretence of parenthood and slips into gameface, stalking over to his gigglepuss daughter. She, too, slips into gameface and eludes her Papa easily, bolting from the kitchen.
He catches her in the livingroom.
Buffy walks in on the mess just as Spike drags Willa to the ground for a little tickle torture, and the twins double team him; Tyler jumped on his back like a drunken cowboy, and Tara trying to pull both his legs out from under him.
Peals of laughter ring through the house, and Buffy is hard-pressed to be angry. She has a funny feeling what all this is about and is not willing to belittle any efforts made on her behalf.
“Might as well have your fun now, Spike,” she laughs. “You know I’m not cleaning up this mess.”
Four o’clock in the morning, Buffy awakens to the most delicious smells coming from downstairs. She pulls on her robe and tiptoes down the stairs to see what’s going on.
Her kitchen is neat as a pin. Looks like Spike has been practicing his technique behind her back. The hard work over, her husband sits at the table, decorating dozens of heart and lip shaped sugar cookies, and arranging them in a basket decked out with red bows.
After all these years he still manages to surprise her. Coming back from the dead holds nothing over the scene before her.
Spike knows Buffy is watching, and ignores her totally. As much as he’s doing this for her, he’s doing it for himself. What he starts, he finishes – it’s his way. He’s going after his Slayer’s heart with both hands this Mother’s Day, and he’s not above using their children to help.
He breathes a sigh of relief when Buffy goes back to bed, grateful that she respects his efforts to do things on his own. Spike could feel her desire to fetch their camera and applauds her self control in not doing so. Tomorrow he’ll pose pretty with the bits.
The weight pressing on her bladder is intolerable. Buffy can’t believe Spike’s arm is so heavy. She opens her eyes and sees Tyler’s pretty hazel eyes. He’s actually kneeling on her abdomen. “Happy Mama’s Day,” he shrieks, obviously wound tight waiting for her to wake up.
Willa and Tara come in bearing the basket of goodies. Tara surreptitiously swipes at her mouth, trying to hide the crumbs that show she’s already snitched one of the cookies.
The children all huddle against Mama, and Papa takes the pictures. He’s never seen her look more radiant.
Motherhood does Buffy Summers Bennett proud.
June 2011 – A Tale of Three Kitties
Buffy is exhausted. The little darlings have been home from school this past week, suffering through the common cold. She’s grateful it’s not a repeat of Willa’s flu. This time there’s no fever, just stuffy noses, weepy eyes, and congested chests. Eau de Vicks permeates the house as vaporizers work non-stop.
Papa goes out food shopping when the little ones fall sleep and hopes that his wife will get several hours of downtime, as well.
Hours later, he walks into the house carrying with a large box making the oddest sounds.
Buffy looks at him with murder in her eyes.
She builds up a head of steam quickly and hisses: “Tell me you didn’t bring a stray puppy home. Spike, please! It’s not like we don’t have enough to keep ourselves busy.”
The mewing that followed her outburst proves he isn’t holding a puppy. “Let me explain…” he tries.
“Don’t you dare open that box. I don’t want to see it, and I certainly don’t want the children seeing it. How could you bring an animal home without talking to me first?”
“I couldn’t leave them, luv. They’re so young.”
“They?” she shrieks. “As in more than one?”
Before he can plead his case, one of the kittens escapes through a hole in the top of the box. A tiny ginger tabby with green eyes stares Buffy down, and switches its tail back and forth. Spike holds his metaphorical breath, waiting for someone to declare themselves the winner.
The Queen is dead! Long live the King! The winner and new champion of the house is… the little kitten!
“This does not get you off the hook, you big mush,” she coos, cuddling the ginger cat as she speaks. “How many more have you smuggled into the house?”
Spike finally places the box on the floor and pops open the top. Two more kittens nestle together; a grey tabby and a champagne and cream puffball.
“And the world thinks William the Bloody is no longer evil,” she sighs. “You bastard.” The softness in her eyes belies her harsh words. “The kids are gonna flip when they see Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail.”
Her husband is indignant. “Oi! You’ll not be naming any pets of mine after bunnies. At least give them names as befits their heritage. Bastet, for one. Or even Simba, if we have to tap soddin’ Disney.”
Stomping kiddie feet forestall the discussion as the Bennett hoard descends.
“Mama, let me see,” squeals Willa, practically yanking the kitten from her mother’s arms. “Look, it’s Tigger!” she insists, stroking the animal’s fur as it cuddles into her arms and promptly falls asleep.
Tara gently approaches the puffball, sitting down and letting the kitten walk into her lap. “Such a treasure you have, Princess,” says Papa. “Cheshire cat,” agrees the little girl, mispronouncing the word, and the second name sticks.
The grey tabby stalks after Tyler, pouncing on his sneaker laces. Spike knows the lion king has been named.
July 2011 – Room to Grow
Today’s the day. The twins’ bedroom is complete and ready for them. It’s a large room, fully capable of being split in half when Tyler and Tara need their own rooms. A grass green rug, sky blue walls and glow in the dark stars on the ceiling complete the picture.
Each side of the room sports a half bay window with a padded bench for weather watching, through baby-safe window gates.
Brand new beds with carved headboards grace each side of the room. Tara’s has moons and stars and Tyler’s has the solar system, all lovingly hand painted by Molly.
August 2011 – It’s My Party
Molly calls from the Emergency Room, exhaustion and tears coloring her voice. “Can Xander drop Treena off for the night? Will fell and broke his left arm and it’s going to take forever until he’s seen.”
Of course it’s no problem, and the Bennetts simply add another setting to the dinner table.
Before Xander can leave, Tara brings him Harry, her stuffed hedgehog. “For my Will,” she says. “To feel better.”
Looking from the toy to Willa’s parents, he leaves before breaking into tears. Xander is touched by the little girl’s soft heart, and hurries back to his son’s bedside.
The Harris’ backyard is abuzz with laughter and frolicking children for Will’s second birthday. When Spike elects to stay home to play nursemaid to one of their kittens, the party is held under the bright blue sky without benefit of the tent.
Buffy, Willa, Tara and Tyler walk in and Will circles around, looking high and low for something. Finally, he pulls on Buffy’s skirt with his good hand. “Where’s Unca Spike?” he asks, absentmindedly trying to scratch under his cast.
“Simba is sick, Will. Uncle Spike is taking care of him until I get home. He’ll be here later.”
Spike shows up in time for a hug and kiss from the birthday boy before he goes down for a nap, along with Tara and Tyler. The party’s over and the guests have gone home. Buffy takes over his kitty-sitting duties.
“Gods, Spike.” Xander claps him on the shoulder and hands him a beer. “Talk about being pussy-whipped.”
The vampire smiles, still predator enough to bring chills into Xander’s heart. “Be quiet, Harris, before I drop a boxful of kittens on your house.”
The two men sit quietly on the porch, drinking their beers and silently sharing their good fortune.
September 2011 – Back to School
Treena saves a seat for Willa and waves her over when she gets on the bus. They huddle together and whine about the unfairness of being in separate classes this year. The excitement of meeting new friends is tempered when you’re worried about missing the old.
When the lunch bell rings, the girls are feeling somewhat better. They compare notes on teachers and the other girls… and of course they giggle about the icky boys.
Soon it’s time to go back to their separate classrooms, but they promise to save a seat for each other on the ride back home.
First day of playgroup for the twins and both Mama and Papa accompany their youngsters. Molly shows up with Will shortly thereafter.
Tyler runs over to a group of children stacking large cardboard blocks and fits in with no problem. Tara stands off to the side, shyly watching everyone else at play.
Papa wants to take her by the hand and lead her over to the others, but Mama stays his actions, telling him to watch and wait.
Little Will comes to the rescue, enticing her with several plastic dump-trucks. Before long they’re joined by other children.
Mama knows best.
October 2011 – Siblings
These days, Dawn calls at least three times weekly. She loves talking to her nieces and nephew and hearing of their exploits from her sister and brother-in-law. Dawn hints that there is someone special in her life, but won’t tell them who it is so’s not to jinx the relationship.
She’s so proud of Buffy for publishing her children’s book. Copies have been passed around to friends all over Europe, and one of the little publishing houses might be interested if she does another one.
Buffy doesn’t say ‘no’.
Distance may keep them apart, but they’re always close in heart.
November 2011 – Full to Bursting
The entire third grade presents a play before school breaks for Thanksgiving. Willa and Treena lead off with a song:
Be kind to your parents,
Though they don't deserve it,
Remember that "grownup"
Is a difficult stage of life.
They're apt to be nervous,
Confused by the daily storm and strife.
Just keep in mind
Though it sounds odd I know. . .
Most parents once were children
So treat them with patience
And sweet understanding,
In spite of the foolish things they do.
Some day you may wake up
And find you're a parent, too.
Be Kind To Your Parents was written by Harold Rome for the 1954 musical Fanny, and turned into a song by J.(Jackie) O'Neill
Mama sits with Tyler in her lap, crying softly as she listens to Willa’s beautiful soprano. She knows her voice has to be inherited from her Papa. Nobody in the Summers’ line can carry a tune to save their lives. It hits her with a flash, then, that their daughter will have a life independent of her parents – Willa Bennett – and not just Spike and Buffy’s oldest daughter.
Gazing into the future, she fantasizes: Willa – latest pop star sensation; Willa – hot new actress; Dr. Bennett – discoverer of the cure for cancer.
Looking over at her husband and Tyler, she smiles.
Papa refuses to look at Mama. A glimpse of his teary eyed wife and Spike knows he’ll break into sobs of his own. There’s real talent in his daughter’s voice – not just passably carrying a tune as he can. And no, he’s not just being prejudiced, thank you very much.
For the first time he acutely feels life passing him by. His children are growing up. His wife is aging, albeit slower than the children. She looks barely older than the first time he met her.
It frightens him, and he holds Tara tightly, determined not to lose a moment.
December 2011 – Painting the Town Red
The Harrises plan on celebrating their first year anniversary in style. Keeping with the traditional symbol of paper, Xander gifts his bride with plane tickets to New York and reservations at The Plaza Hotel several weeks before Christmas. First class all the way for once in their lives. They leave their children at the Bennett household for the week. A quick kiss goodbye, and they’re off.
Hours later, mother’s intuition begins to nag at Buffy. “Spike,” she asks, “when did you last see the kids? Five kids are never this quiet.”
They quietly walk up the stairs, prepared for anything.
Spike has to clap his hand over his wife’s mouth to keep her from shrieking in fury. Treena and Willa have found their way into Buffy’s makeup stash and have been working diligently to turn Tara, Tyler and Will into what can only be described as vampire drag queen clowns on acid.
Black eyeliner and glitter shadows grace the little ones’ faces, along with garish, splotchy circles of blusher.
Buffy tenses in her husband’s embrace, but the look that passes between them means it’s safe to let her go.
She comes back with a fully loaded camera and starts clicking.
Willa tenses when she hears the click-click of the shutter, and braces herself for a well earned lecture from Mama.
“You know that you and Miss Treena are in big trouble, don’t you, young lady?” Buffy says sternly, in-between pictures.
The older girls hang their heads, knowing that Buffy’s makeup was not on their approved toys list, especially without permission.
Papa’s eyes gleamed with mischief. “Why don’t you give Mama a make-over before we put all this stuff away?”
“I’ll agree on one condition,” laughs Mama. “That you also do Papa, and we take pictures.”
Conditions accepted by all parties.
The children are all asleep upstairs, and Spike and Buffy collapse into a heap of tangled limbs in front of the fireplace. Making sure five children are completely make-up free and clean enough for bed is exhausting business, even for supernatural being such as them.
“What’s. It. Gonna. Take. M’love,” he whispers, pressing butterfly kisses against her neck in-between words, “for you to burn that film before those pictures reach the light of day?”
Buffy giggles. “You don’t have it in you, handsome.”
“If you’re real lucky, maybe you will,” he intimates, “and then we’ll talk about those bloody pictures.”
Molly and Xander return to their children and friends in time to celebrate a quiet, family Christmas together.
It’s just the nine of them this year. Dawn is traveling for the Council with the boyfriend she still refuses to divulge anything about, Willow and Rebecca are moving to Hawaii for a change of pace as their relationship deepens, Giles takes up with Olivia again. It seems that opening his heart to his extended family brings benefits to his personal life. An upsurge in demonic activity keeps Angel busy in Los Angeles.
There’s always next year to gather them all together.