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January 2012 – Cold Comfort
Buffy receives a package from a lawyer whose name she doesn’t recognize. Wrapped in bubble wrap is a framed picture of Buffy and her father, taken on her fifth birthday. She was wearing a pink party dress and a gold paper crown that said “Daddy’s Princess” in silver glitter.
Wiping away the tears that slide down her cheeks, she searches through the box for more, and comes up with an envelope, sealed with red wax. Gingerly breaking the seal, she finds a death certificate for Hank Summers. Cause of death is listed as pancreatic cancer.
She finds one more envelope.
Inside the envelope is a personal letter to her from her father, written several days before he died.
My Dearest Buffy,
I know I’ve lost the right to call you mine, but indulge the dreams of a dying man for a moment. I’m sorry for abandoning you and your sister, and for making your mother’s life miserable. Doesn’t change anything, but I am sorry.
I regret that my actions have kept me from knowing my grandchildren. I’m sure you and your husband will do a far better job of things than I ever did.
I never stopped loving you,
Buffy’s sobbing in earnest now, the letter crumples in her hand as her emotions overwhelm her. She’s glad to be alone in the house. It gives her time to assimilate the loss of her father, and to mourn the relationship they lost while he was still alive.
She shakes the envelope, and out falls a worn school picture of Buffy, the last one he’d been home for. Written in faded ink on the back: “My sweet girl.”
Within an hour she gets a phone call from her sister, and they begin to heal, together. Another chapter of their lives closed.
February 2012 – Heart to Heart
Cupid must be shopping for his arrows at COSTCO lately, because happy couples are announcing engagements all over the place. A small box arrives from Hawaii that explodes with white orchid and pink rose petals, heralding the engagement of Willow and Rebecca. Love has truly blossomed on their island paradise.
The shocker is Dawn. She and her mystery beau are also engaged, yet she still refuses to divulge his identity. “All in due time,” she says. “We’ll see you in the Fall.”
Buffy thinks that at twenty-five, Dawn isn’t too old to turn over her knee to receive a spanking.
Giles and Olivia have not only renewed their romance, but have moved in together. It seems they’ve chosen a new flat to go with their new start. More amazing is her position as Giles’ right hand woman at the Council. No more denial for Olivia. Time to face reality head on with the man she loves.
Sixteen years after meeting Buffy, eleven years after falling for Cordelia, and eight years of being alone, Angel and Nina have decided to try and make a go of things. The family circle widens again with the addition of a werewolf to their midst.
There’s a Valentine’s Day party in playgroup as well as Willa’s class, and Mama and Papa work together to bake enough heart shaped cookies for both classes. Their eldest likes the red glaze the dyed sugar leaves on her lips.
Tara and Tyler hand out their treats to their classmates, leaving several extra in the basket on Miss Kara’s desk. Before taking her seat, Tara grabs an extra cookie, and takes it over to her best friend. “Happy Val’tine Day, Will.”
Mama nudged Papa. “Cute, aren’t they?”
“Glad they’re all too young to be worryin’ about dating an’ such, luv.”
March 2012 – A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words
Elgin-Hill Publishers has broken with tradition. For the first time, they solicit a publication. The owner is a young mother who fell in love with Buffy’s first picture book and wants another associated with her company. She feels there is a small market in pre-schools for her work, and will publish it for a percentage of sales.
Spike and Buffy pore through their pictures, selecting the right ones from their ‘makeover’ session. The children add their favorites, too.
The dedication for Make Me reads:
Make me up
Take me over
Make me yours
From our family to yours
It’s a gamble for the little publishing house, but it pays off nicely. A handful of school districts are interested in Make Me as well as Everyone Has a Mother, which is reprinted. The money they earn from the sales is invested in finally setting up the attic office with two new computers and desks.
Wonderland Productions is formed as Spike agrees to become an active partner. He might not write brilliant prose, but he can please the kiddies, having plenty of practice with his own brood and his Father Goose stint at preschool.
Molly offers to design their logo.
Willa develops a fascination for the wedding symbols list. She wants to do something special for her parents’ sixth anniversary, and enlists her brother, sister, and Treena in her quest. Carefully saving her allowance gives her just enough money to pull off her idea.
She makes a list of things she needs and asks her best friend to buy and store certain things in her house. Several bull sessions after school set up a family game date with the Harrises for the afternoon of April first.
The Bennett siblings are very excited. Mama and Papa won’t know what hit them.
April 2012 – Candyland
There’s an odd feeling as the families settle down in the Harrises’ livingroom to play Candyland. Buffy and Spike look at each other as if everyone is possessed. They go along with it, since the children are having fun and Xander and Molly are playing along.
Willa excuses herself for a potty break, and comes back five minutes later with her hands behind her back. Standing in front of her parents, she reveals a purple envelope with sugar hearts pasted on the outside, and hands it to them.
“Happy Anniversary!” they all shout, shocking the elder Bennetts into stunned silence.
The significance of the game and the card and the date finally hits Spike. “Did you plan all this, Poppet?” he asks his daughter, love shining bright in his eyes.
“Yes, Papa. I did.”
“And we helped!” yelled the twins, in stereo.
Mama smiles at their children. “So this is what you wanted that anniversary list for. What a lovely present for Papa and me.”
Molly hands the little ones bowls of M&M’s and Jelly Bellies to hand out for their candy anniversary.
“Only for you guys,” Xander laughed. “Do you think we play Candyland with just anyone these days?”
May 2012 – A Young Man’s Fancy
With Mama’s approval, Willa brings home a friend from school. She introduces Nicholas Tanner to her parents and heads into the playroom, where they’ll work on their homework together.
Papa is unnerved. “Since when is the mite bringin’ home fellas?””
“For crying out loud, Spike. They’re only eight years old.” Mama smirks, knowing he’s in for a tough ride through his children’s lives. “What are you gonna do when she needs her first bra, or gets her first period?”
He looks decidedly green around the gills. Period? Bras? Not his little girl. She’s always going to be his little niblet.
Spike groans, dropping his head into his hands. “She’s really goin’ to grow up an’ leave us, isn’t she, Buffy? And then the twins are goin’ to follow in big Sis’ footsteps an’ they’ll leave, too.”
The panic on his face makes him vulnerable, and Buffy can’t help but climb into his lap and cuddle her husband. “She’ll always be Papa’s little girl, Spike. Even when she’s a sixty-five year old grandmother. They’ll grow up and make families of their own, but they’ll always be ours.”
“Do you promise, luv?” he asks, hopeful.
“Until the end of the world, Spike.”
June 2012 – Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty
Tigger, Cheshire, and Simba are the three biggest mooches ever to have wormed their way into a ‘people house’. And who is the worst offender when it comes to sneaking scraps from the table to the fuzzy children? Buffy, of course.
The three cats have her wrapped around their sturdy tails. Tigger likes to walk on the couch or chair that Buffy sits on and rub heads, totally redoing whatever hairstyle she had in mind. Cheshire sticks her dainty pink nose into every bowl or cup and ‘shares’ with her Mama. Simba begs, complete with raised paw and plaintive ‘miaow’.
During dinnertime, the cats have staked out territory under the diningroom table. Tara and Tyler still aren’t the neatest of eaters, and if a kitty goes away hungry, it’s not for lack of food.
“Finish all your sprouts, Sprout?” asks Papa, knowing it’s Willa’s least favorite vegetable. “Uh huh,” she says brightly and shows off her plate. “All gone.”
Meows and hisses come from under the table. Simba and Tigger are fighting over something green and the ginger cat wins, batting it away from Simba. Cheshire zooms out of hiding and chases the green whatever it is around the house.
Mama worries that Cheshire has caught a bug or maybe a bug demon and goes to check. She walks back into the room and stands in front of her eldest; Joyce’s patented ‘You know you’ve done something wrong and you should be feeling really guilty right about now’ look on her face.
Papa is concerned over the look on Mama’s face. “What’d you find, sweetling?”
“It looks like one of our little brood isn’t a big fan of Brussels sprouts,” she says, holding up the fuzzy green sprout she rescued from Cheshire. Checking under the table, she sees three more.
Papa looks at his eldest daughter, listening to her heart rate increase as she realizes she’s been caught green handed. “Have somethin’ you want to tell us, Poppet?”
Shaking her head vehemently back and forth, eyes tearing up, she says, “No, Papa. Don’t want to tell you anything.”
One raised eyebrow is all it takes for the tears to come streaming down her cheeks.
“Mite, if you don’t like Brussels sprouts, tell Mama, and we won’t give them to you again.”
“Yes, Papa,” she sniffles. So much to learn about growing up. And another sprout will never cross her lips.
July 2012 – The Happiest Place On Earth
It’s a grand adventure for the Bennetts and Harrises. Grandpa Angel has invited the clan to Disneyland for the twins’ third birthday, and they figure to celebrate Will’s, at the same time. They rent a suite of rooms in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, with instructions to the staff to keep the curtains drawn during daylight hours.
Their favorite rides are things that spin, and the adults will look a bit worse for wear by the time they leave the park for their hotel. The King Arthur Carousel is a favorite, and Buffy’s digital camera gets the workout of a lifetime.
The men decide to be macho idiots and head for the Teacups. With a promise extracted from the vampires not to destroy the ride, Angel and Spike try to make Xander lose his lunch. They almost succeed, but the screeching of tortured metal make them pull back their speed, and Xander recovers.
Buffy and Molly choose the next ride, and they all pile into the It’s A Small World boat. Wicked women that they are, the theme song resonates in everyone’s head for the next week. And just when it seems to have been forgotten, someone sings it out loud.
Tara, Tyler, and Will feel very special. So much attention is lavished on them this trip. Grandpa Angel takes them all on rides by himself, having just as much fun as the little ones.
Willa and Treena shop for souvenirs and just enjoy the park and the crowds. When they go out with Molly and Xander in the sunlight, they marvel at the differences in the park from night to day.
One night, they leave the children with the hotel babysitter and the adults tour the park themselves. A wonderful time is had by all.
Angel finally earns his wings.
August 2012 – Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer
There is nothing left to do to prepare for upcoming classes. All the shopping is done for both clothing and school supplies. Stuff that’s been outgrown is been boxed up and placed in the basement, just in case another miracle comes to pass.
The kids play outdoors most days weather permitting, either at home or at the Harrises’ place. Buffy and Spike are hard at work trying to develop a series of early reading books. It will be their first joint effort and their eldest daughter has been very encouraging.
She keeps a close eye on her brother and sister.
September 2012 – I See You
It’s the second week of school and Willa brings home a letter. Seems she’s having trouble seeing the blackboard, at least in human face, so it’s off to the ophthalmologist. Both sets of eyes are examined carefully, and it’s determined that her human eyes are nearsighted, and her demon eyes are perfect.
The little blonde takes a long look at all the frames on display, before choosing. When she puts them on for the first time, Papa stands with his mouth agape. Perched prettily on her nose is a pair of round gold-wire frames – the spitting image of William Bennett.
Mama also buys a pair of reading glasses for Papa. Can’t claim vanity anymore if they expect their daughter to follow their lead.
Willa preens. Father and daughter in matching frames. Mama’s shutter finger itches, and both know a portrait session is in the works.
“We want glasses, too,” the twins clamor, not wanting to be left out of anything. Papa buys them each a pair of plastic sunglasses and everyone is satisfied.
Treena claps when she sees the new glasses. “You look great, Willa. Mr. Barker will be happy you can see the board now.”
They walk into class.
Willa slams open the door to her home and makes her way to her room, sobbing as if her heart was breaking. Mama’s close behind, already hurting for her baby. “What’s wrong, sweetie? Why are you so upset?” she asks, holding her daughter close to her heart.
“B-bobby called me a f-four eyed freak. He said I wasn’t human, wasn’t a vampire and didn’t belong anywhere. Mama,” she cried, unable to stop shaking, “He told me I was a… a… ‘bomination.”
Buffy chokes back her own sobs at the overly familiar words, knowing how deeply they hurt. Her heart breaks.
“My sweet, precious child,” Mama soothes, settling Willa in her lap. You are a true miracle. Papa and I were blessed with you. You are the best of both of us – human and vampire. You are beautiful and strong and smart. You belong anywhere you want to be.”
Willa sniffles, and hearing Papa come home with the twins, runs downstairs. “Oi, Mite,” he exclaims as she barrels into him, “what’s got your tail feathers all ruffled?”
“Someone said very hurtful things to her at school. I was telling her how special she is.” Mama greeted her husband with a kiss.
Wrapping her arms around Spike’s waist, she envelopes both husband and child. “I’m so sorry, Spike,” she sighs, those bitter words burning in her memory. “I never realized how badly words can wound, and some of the things I said to you… well, let’s just say they’ve come back and bitten our baby.”
“How so, luv?”
“Bobby’s words were racist… told her that she wasn’t human or vampire and had no place.” Buffy hung her head in shame, wishing she’d never said those same words.
He cupped her chin and looked into her teary eyes. “Never too late to learn.”
October 2012 – The Birds and Bees
Tara and Tyler run around their room, naked as jaybirds as the bathtub fills. It’s a good thing Uncle Xander crafted the beds for heavy duty usage, because in no time at all, they’re using them as trampolines.
The noise attracts big Sis’ attention, and in no time, Willa joins her rambunctious siblings in their bedroom gymnastics. Eventually the differences between her brother and sister catch her attention and she sits back and watches.
Pretty soon she’s naming body parts and the little ones get their first lesson in what’s what about boys and girls. They are apt pupils, indeed.
Mama and Papa receive another letter home from school on Willa’s behalf. Apparently during quiet time, their young lady took it upon herself to conduct an impromptu discussion of the birds and the bees.
Complete with her parents’ live action demonstration.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bennett. While we’re pleased that you have a wonderfully healthy sex life, Mr. Barker’s third grade class is no place for it to be discussed. Please advise Willa that a little tact goes a long way.
Ms. Frances Beene,
Willa receives a lecture on the proper time and place for everything that night.
November 2012 – All You Need is Love
The taxi drops Dawn off after four. The entire family crowds around, looking to check out her secret fiancé.
“You’ve been toyin’ with us for a year, Niblet,” Spike laughed. “Anything to keep Sis from playin’ matchmaker.”
Dawn rolls her eyes in mock-irritation. “Spike, I’m going to be twenty six years old. Haven’t I turned into a full-fledged ear of corn yet?”
A knock on the door diverts Spike’s attention. He opens the door to a pile of luggage with feet. No, make that Andrew, buried under the pile of luggage. “I’m not a pack mule. Somebody help me, please?”
“What are you doing here, Andrew?” asks Buffy, though not unkindly. “We’ve got our hands full this week. Dawnie is here with her fiancé and we plan on celebrating, so it’s not a real good time for an unannounced visit.”
Dawn rests her arms on Andrew shoulders, smiling over his head at her family. “Are you trying to throw my guy out before we’ve had a chance to party?”
Whooping, Tara, Tyler, and Willa pile on top of their favorite Auntie and now Uncle-to-be while their parents look on in shock.
“People can change,” Andrew says, looking pointedly at Spike.
Dawn faces down her sister. “C’mon, Buffy. Please. Give me the “He was evil” speech so’s I can laugh myself silly.
“She’s got you there, pet.” Spike nuzzles his wife’s neck, draining most of the fight out of her.
“But… but… he’s Andrew,” she whines, as if it’s self-explanatory.
“And you wonder why we kept things quiet for a year? He may be a twerp, but he’s my twerp.”
“Dawn and I are very happy, you guys. We travel together, live together and…”
Spike holds up his hands. “Not another bloody word or I’ll have to pull out your tongue.”
Andrew squares his shoulders and stands up to the vampire he admires. “I know she’ll always have a special place in your heart, Spike. Now she has one in mine. A-and isn’t there strength in numbers?” He nervously brushes invisible lint from his clothing. “Besides, I already got the shovel talk from Willow.”
Buffy caves. They look so happy. “I guess it’s official then. If you’ve passed Will’s shovel speech without being turned into a frog, I’m forced by Wiccan law to include you in my family.”
With dual sighs of relief, Dawn and Andrew embrace, relieved to be accepted.
The two sisters share some private time, after the kiddies go to bed. Spike’s taken Andrew out for some manly bonding and Buffy and Dawn settle down with hot chocolate for a good old fashioned hen session.
“Andrew, huh? How did this happen?”
Dawn reflects for a moment. “Andrew saved me from a whole lot of trouble in an Italian silk suit. Actually decked a guy six foot four.”
Buffy smiles. “Your own little white knight?”
“And he’s smart. Take his focus away from television and movies and you’ll find out.”
“Never ever tell me his new focal point, Dawnie.”
December 2012 – Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
It’s all set; a family portrait for the holidays. Papa wants it to hang over the fireplace.
Tyler’s hair is a beautiful sable color, setting off his hazel eyes. It’s almost shoulder length now. Mama refuses to cut it, preferring to pull it into a ponytail. Tara’s hair is longer, hanging down mid-back in soft ringlets. The color is somewhat lighter than her brother’s and her eye color has turned towards teal.
Willa is a stunner. Her hair is still golden blonde, with a soft wave when she wears it loose. Her pretty blue eyes rival her father’s in intensity.
The weather is dismal, with no relief in sight. It’s been raining for days and everyone is beginning to think that grey is the sky’s natural color.
Schools are closed for the Winter break and the children are bored. At any given time someone is napping. Tyler finds himself the only person awake on a dreary Tuesday afternoon.
Papa finds himself following trails of sable and blonde hair throughout the house and alerts his wife before checking on the siblings.
And that’s why Mama finds herself waiting at Star Cuts with three children at seven o’clock, a week before Christmas.
The portrait sitting is a breeze, though the children look markedly different. Tyler’s ponytail is gone – vanished with one snip of the scissors. Tara’s hair is now shoulder length, and she’s finally stopped crying over how different she looks. And while Willa’s length could have been rescued, she’s opted to change her look entirely, and is now sporting a pixie cap of feathered waves.
Spike and Buffy sit, Tyler on Mama’s lap and Tara on Papa’s. Willa stands in-between her parents.
The framed portrait hangs above the fireplace, and copies sent out to family and friends with their Christmas cards.