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January 2016 – Aloha Oy Vey
To celebrate the one year anniversary of Spike’s second turning and their tenth wedding anniversary, the Bennetts head off to Hawaii for two weeks of fun in the sun with the Rosenbergs.
Xander and Molly are perfectly willing to care for the children, but Tara kicks up such a ruckus about spending time with Will that Grandpa Angel and Auntie Nina agree to come in from Los Angeles.
“You know we shouldn’t give in to emotional blackmail,” Buffy murmurs to her husband on the way to the airport.
“We’ll sit the mite down when we get home, luv,” he replies.
Blue skies, blue water and white sand…Spike stretches out on his towel and basks, shamelessly stretching his body like a pale panther sunbathing. Becoming human hasn’t dulled his enjoyment of warmth on his skin.
Though Buffy diligently slathers his body with an SPF 50 sunblock, by day two Spike’s skin is the shade of a boiled lobster. Front or back, lying on the bed makes him miserable, but his wife’s hands and aloe vera gel make him believe there’s a God in heaven, after all.
Two days later he’s back on the beach… wearing a sun hat and white t-shirt.
The following week, Willow gets the phone call she and Becky have been waiting for; Social Services has a child available for adoption. A six month old of mixed Hawaiian heritage, the little girl has straight black hair, light brown skin and bright green almond shaped eyes.
Her mother was young, the father unknown and her family ready to disown her for bearing a child of impure blood. She left the baby with Social Services, wanting a better life for her.
The extensive home study done last year allows the baby to go home with her new parents right away.
Kiana Ivy Rosenberg is welcomed into the fold, and the decision is made for the new family to move back to California once the six month probationary period is up.
Spike and Buffy have the pleasure of enjoying a week with their new niece before leaving for Santa Barbara. Buffy frames the sight of Spike cuddling Kiana to his chest on the chaise in her viewfinder and for just a moment, fantasizes about having another baby… then remembers the three already needing her full attention.
Besides, an Auntie can always visit when Buffy needs a dose of baby snuggles, right?
Angel welcomes the travelers home with tales of their children. Willa was a breeze, spending much of her time with Treena. Tyler’s hooked up with Wesley, who’s offered to instruct the boy via the internet about demons, ancient and demon languages, and ancient artifacts.
The only real trouble came from Tara, who somehow managed to conjure up several small explosions in her room during a time out in a fit of pique. Nothing but smoke and stink, according to both Angel and Nina.
Still, Buffy makes a thorough sweep of all crystals, candles and magic books in her daughter’s possession.
February 2016 – Little Women
For two weeks all Willa talks about is her party: the color scheme, the guest list, menus, ad nauseum until the day finally arrives. The playroom is festooned with purple and silver balloons – silver glitter star sprinkles on every surface.
The morning of the party finds Tara standing in the doorway, all the balloons popped and laying about her like puddles. Mama tries to be understanding of her daughter’s jealousy, but won’t allow her to get away with malicious behavior and banishes Tara to her room over her protests that she didn’t do anything.
Papa shakes his head in disappointment.
A last minute dash to The Party Bazaar and the balloons are replaced, but there’s been a mini disaster with the cake. It looks like someone’s little fingers have gone skating through the frosting, and this time Tyler is confined to his room, again against protests of innocence.
Buffy is ready to tear her hair out. “I swear I’m gonna lock the cats up in the basement as a preventative measure,” she grits in frustration. “I thought we were through with this sibling rivalry nonsense.”
“I just don’t understand why the mites would lie, pet,” Spike frowns. “They’re good kids.”
“Truth or Dare, Willa?” asks Barrie, a mischievous little redhead with a devil’s grin.
“Have you ever kissed a boy?”
Willa giggles. This is an easy question, and not really embarrassing. “Yes, I have.”
Barrie isn’t finished. “With tongues?” she adds slyly.
Okay, now it’s a little more personal. Willa blushes pink and nods her head, eyes sparkling at the memory. “My turn now,” she laughs. “Meredith, Truth or Dare?”
The room rocks with the laughter of eight giggling girls as they continue to play, exposing each other’s innermost secrets in the time honored tradition of growing up.
Mama and Papa are invited to watch the great gift unveiling. With her siblings still being punished, Willa gets permission to bring them each a slice of cake and a glass of milk. Tara refuses to open her door so she leaves the tray in the hall. Both children still insist they haven’t done anything wrong.
Willa listens outside their doors for a few moments. She hears the clinking of fork against plate as Tyler eats his cake, resigned to his punishment. Tara, on the other hand, is throwing things against the wall, muttering words that would make Papa blush.
After passing along her siblings’ messages, Willa accepts her present from Treena. Hastily ripping the pretty paper off the box, she holds up three cotton print bra and panty sets. All the females ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ while Papa turns a delicate shade of pink.
It’s the second gift that does him in, however. Morrigan’s present consists of a can of Skintimate shaving cream, a pack of disposable razors and an electric shaver. Papa’s off in a flash with a quick kiss to his daughter and wife, muttering something about leaving before she gets to the condoms and birth control pills.
Mama shares a giggle with the girls before following her husband out of the room and closing the door behind her. “Poor Spike,” she coos, taking her husband’s hands in hers. “Our girl’s turning into quite the young woman, isn’t she?”
“Feel like singing a bloody chorus of ‘Sunrise, Sunset,’” Spike shakes his head, a look of stunned awe on his face. “Been watchin’ her every day. When did she go all curvy?”
Buffy just smiles, remembering her mother’s appraisals every couple of years. “It goes with the territory of being parents, I suppose. Selective blindness until it’s too late.”
Tarabelle: Hi Auntie Willow!
WhompingWillow: Hey there, sweetie pie.
Tarabelle: Mama punished me for something I didn’t do. All the balloons got busted for Willa’s party and she thinks I did it.
WhompingWillow: So you’re sneaking in a secret whine to your old Auntie, are you? Want me to call Mom?
Tarabelle: I think I did a bad thing.
WhompingWillow: You, Tara, or you, magicks?
Tarabelle: Magicks. Remember when Grandpa Angel was here? Well, he punished me, too and I got sooo mad at him and it just went *poof* and there was smoke and I think they’re still here.
It takes three days and several rituals involving waving of smudge sticks and incense to rid the Bennett household of the Puck demons Tara has inadvertently summoned. Eighteen inches high, they look like bald Cabbage Patch dolls whose main purpose is to cause mischief.
Spike catches one locking Cheshire in the upstairs linen closet. Buffy finds one snipping the blooms off their stalks in the garden, and Willa grabs one pushing foodstuffs off the pantry shelves. Everyone is relieved when the Pucks vanish with Tara’s last chanted word.
Willow lectures her niece for over an hour on responsibility and magicks.
March 2016 – Teach Me
WWPryce: Good evening, Tyler. Have you looked over the books I sent you?
BooksRMe09: Yeah. I really liked The Aurelian Order. Are we gonna be in it? Because of Papa and Grandpa?
WWPryce: I’ll ask your Grandpa if the book is ever revised. It might not be the wisest thing to do.
BooksRMe09: Because of people like Uncle Andrew’s friend?
WWPryce: Indeed. Some people are not to be trusted with family secrets. Anyway, I’ve emailed you your next two lessons. Having a photographic memory certainly comes in handy, doesn’t it?
BooksRMe09: Especially when I like what I’m learning, Uncle Wes.
Tyler speaks with Papa about their place in the Aurelian order, and he agrees with Wesley. It wouldn’t be prudent to list mortal children in a demon history book. It would be all too tempting for some over-zealous or unscrupulous person to track them down.
“Besides all that, Ty, they’re probably goin’ to write about the end of old Spike. Not bein’ a bloody vampire anymore takes me right out of the Order.”
“Do you miss being a vampire?”
Papa answers truthfully, without hesitation. “I like bein’ with my family in the sunlight more than I miss bein’ a vampire.”
April 2016 – Faith
Willa holds the little package tightly to her chest, the delightful anticipation slowing her eager hands. Bobby’s birthday present. He told her it would be delayed, that it was being made special for her… and it is finally here.
She sits on her bed, slowly unwrapping the pretty paper and gently pries off the box’s cover. Two items nestle in the cotton batting – a gold necklace with Hebrew lettering, and a silver rectangle with ornate scrollwork and what looks to be some paper rolled up inside.
There’s also a letter from Bobby. She settles against the headboard to read it.
I hope you like the necklace. It’s ‘Willa’ in Hebrew, in case you’re wondering.
The other thing is a ‘mezuzah’. It’s for the front door of the house. In simple words, it means ‘G-d will guard your going and coming from now and for all time.’ I’m sure your aunts can explain it better if you want to know more.
I know that we aren’t really into religion, but we both believe in all things good and well meaning… and it never hurts to have a blessing for your house.
I miss you more each day.
May 2016 – Bragging Rights
“Dawnie! How’s my favorite sister?” Buffy squeals into the receiver, always thrilled when the younger woman finds spare time to call.
“No wonder Giles always looked so exhausted. This Council stuff is running me ragged.”
“Not to mention my nephews. How are the little beastlings?”
“All four boys are reading, and Jason’s not only fluent in French and Spanish,” she brags with a mother’s pride, “but he’s picked up smatterings of Sumerian and Hebrew! And Jeremy’s a prodigy at the piano. He even reads music.”
Buffy’s pride knows no bounds. “Is it bad of me to wish you lived closer?”
“Of course not, and I know the boys would enjoy seeing you guys more, too. Oh! Get this… Jesse opens portals! He was sitting in his bedroom and said he wanted a cookie. The next thing I knew, there was a flash of green light, and he showed up in the kitchen. Almost scared Andy to death.”
Laughing out loud, Buffy manages to gasp: “I guess there goes our hope for perfectly normal kids. And what about Jonathan? Does he blend into the walls or something?”
“Nope, but he can take apart a computer and put it all back together.”
“Gods, girl… Lorne said to keep an eye on the kids. Xander’s Will is empathic to some degree, and believe it or not, Willa needs to be tested for Slayer tendencies.”
“You mean in addition to the vampy thing she does? And you never said a word about it?”
“Um, yeah? Sorry…”
“Okay, forgetting for the moment that you didn’t tell your own sister about the Slayer thing… what about the twins? Anything unusual there?”
“Ty’s studying demonology with Wesley by computer, and Tara’s into witchcraft. Willow’s gonna work with her on proper usage. It’ll be good for them both.”
“We just got new pictures of Kiana. She’s adorable!” Dawn gushes. “You’re so lucky they’re moving back to California.”
“Is this where I try and guilt you into moving back again? Twice in one phone call? I mean, after all… what are older sisters for?”
There’s silence for a moment before Dawn continues. “Tell you what, Buff. Andrew and I will talk about it and see what it would mean for the Council. For all of us to be close together again would be wonderful. It would be so good for the kids.”
Buffy sighs, hoping against hope for someday.
June 2016 – Live and Learn
‘Goddess bless the era of the Internet,’ thinks Willow. With hope borne of optimism, she and Becky have researched and rented a house in Ventura, California with an option to buy. It’s no more than an hour away from their friends. Close, but not too close.
By the time Social Services schedules their final interview, everything is packed for shipping. They sit in the office anxiously awaiting the word from on high, and the smile Ms. Leilani Kai wears entering her office tells them everything they need to know.
Final adoption papers are signed, and Kiana is legally a Rosenberg.
As soon as their belongings leave the house, the Rosenberg family head to the airport. Angel wants to meet Kiana, and he’s putting them all up in one of Wolfram & Hart’s luxury suites for two weeks.
Lorne helps to organize a welcome home/first birthday party, and Willow breaks into tears when the Bennetts and Harrises show up unexpectedly. It’s so good to be home again, back in the bosom of her friends.
Buffy promises to house sit the day the movers are expected, and will call after everything has been delivered. It can’t be soon enough for everyone involved.
Wesley pulls Willow aside a few days before she’s scheduled to leave for her new home to talk about Tyler’s demonology lessons. He’s heard about Tara’s little bout with the Puck demons and wonders what direction the girl’s lessons are taking.
“I think the twins are remarkably bright children. We should run them through a gamut of tests to see what talents they share, and what is unique to each of them.”
“Let’s not forget responsibility,” Willow insists. “It’s an issue I still deal with every day.”
Wesley agrees wholeheartedly. “You’ve grown wise, Ms. Rose… erm, Willow. Lessons well learnt.”
Willow smiles gently at Wesley, still amazed at the changes in the man. “When there’s so much to live for, Wes, it becomes important to recognize your place in the world – not destroy it. Right now, I find my greatest power is making Kiana smile and my woman happy.”
At Wesley’s sad expression, she hastens to add: “Which is why I think teaching and encouraging the children is the best thing for both of us. The ability to pass down all the knowledge and experiences we have – it means the best part of us will live on in the future.”
“That’s a beautiful thought, indeed.” Wesley face brightens. He might not have children of his own, but the chance to get close to Tyler and by extension the rest of the Bennett family, makes him happy. The appellation ‘Uncle Wes” warms him like nothing else.
He makes a snap decision, eager to get on with this new phase of life. “I think I’d like to spend some time getting to know the children better, with the approval of their parents. Perhaps spend some time with them this coming summer.”
Willow nods, looking forward to spending some time with them all.
True to her word, Buffy calls to let Willow know that the movers have finally arrived and it’s time to make the trek to Ventura. She promises to order in their favorite pizzas to celebrate the old-fashioned Scooby way.
Both Willow and Becky are looking forward to their new home. What they didn’t expect was to be greeted with a fully stocked kitchen, uncrated furniture, and empty boxes.
“I say when you have super strong friends, you take full advantage,” grinned Spike.
“Plus… nosy,” Buffy chimes in. “Nice lingerie. Remind me to shop with you sometimes.”
Spike nods in agreement.
August 2016 – Give and Take
Wesley takes up residence in the Bennett playroom for a month. He finds himself fascinated with the woman his erstwhile Slayer has become and the vampire – ex-vampire – she has tamed. From his first ill-placed steps into her life to the fondness and trust she places in him now, Wesley is grateful for the opportunities dropped into his lap.
To be a part of a loving family is beyond priceless to him. It fills a need he’s had all his life, one never satisfied by his own coldly reserved parents.
Each open display of affection heals another piece of his heart.
Willow brings a few magickal herbs with her as she and Wes prepare to test the Bennett children. Calling in Willa, she chants an incantation over a handful, and blows the herb over her niece’s head.
Willa sneezes as the herbs form a sparkling orange cloud around her. “Does this mean what I think it means, Auntie Willow?”
She smiles softly, knowing her parents won’t be jumping for joy at what they’ve already suspected for the past few years. “Yes, sweetie, you’re growing into your Slayer powers, with a side-helping of vampire demon.”
Her training will be very interesting, indeed.
The twins are tested as well, showing no indication of slayer or demon powers. Tara and Tyler are equally bright – Tyler having a photographic memory and a minor capacity for witchcraft, while Tara has high retention skills and is bursting with magickal abilities.
They agree to teach the twins the basics that Wes was raised on and Willow bypassed in her eagerness to show off in her younger days. The reasons behind the seemingly boring lessons are explained simply – magicks are a blessing and a responsibility and must be treated with reverence. The consequences for foolhardy use can be severe.
One rule is drummed into their heads above all others. They are never to practice magicks unsupervised. Tara’s already learned how things can get out of hand and isn’t eager to repeat the experience. She and Tyler agree to follow the rules explained and set before them.
Mama and Papa watch from the doorway, relishing the simple pleasure on all four faces. The twins soak up the knowledge offered like greedy sponges… both book and life lessons alike. Wes and Willow glow as they share part of themselves.
Everybody wins in a situation like this as their family grows stronger.
September 2016 – Friend or Foe
Tara finds herself sitting alone on the bench, not so eagerly awaiting the bell to announce the first day of school. Old friends have been treating her like a… piranha. Gracie Peterson sees to that with whispers and pointed fingers.
Mean and rotten, that’s what she is, and Tara is determined not to cry because of her. All she needs is the chant of “Cry baby” to add to her misery.
Groups of little girls snicker behind their hands, making the wait intolerable. Just as the bell rings, her escape is blocked. She looks up into Will’s sparkling brown eyes.
“A-are you gonna laugh at me too, Will?” Tara sniffled, bravely jutting her little chin out in an unconscious imitation of her Mama.
“I told Gracie to knock it off, and I don’t laugh at my friends,” he assures her.
Tara wants to believe him so badly. It’s been more than a year since Gracie first stuck her stupid nose in Will’s direction and she misses him desperately.
The bell rings its final warning call, and after wiping away the few tears coursing down Tara’s cheeks, Will grabs her hand as the friends make a mad dash for their classroom.
Tara gets off the school bus with Will and calls home. Since it’s the first day of school and there’s no homework, she’s allowed to stay for dinner and to catch up with her once best friend.
Molly and Xander watch over the two little ones as they sit on the porch swing waiting for Spike to come and ferry his daughter home. There’s a sense of peace around the little girl that’s been missing for far too long.
“You realize what the future has in store?” Molly asks, nodding in the children’s direction.
Xander adjusts his eyepatch, and smiles.
“Life’s funny, Mol,” he sighs, trying to rub away the headache forming behind his good eye. “If you would have told me when I was a kid that I’d be married to a demon and looking forward to being related to an ex-vampire by marriage of our children… I’d have laughed myself into the funny-farm.”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way.” He turns to go inside. “Say hello to Spike for me. I’m gonna take some Advil and lie down. This headache is getting worse.”
Molly nods, making a mental note to call the ophthalmologist in the morning.
The visit to Dr. Steinmetz proves pointless. Remembering Joyce’s condition, he’s a nervous wreck until the doctor renders his diagnosis. Xander’s eye appears to be perfectly healthy, and reading glasses are all the doctor can recommend to take the strain off for close work. With any luck, the headaches will fade away.
After several weeks of wearing the glasses on the job, the headaches are more manageable – down to maybe one a week and Xander finds himself relaxing. Until he starts making careless errors. Reading numbers backwards, missing a digit, putting things in the wrong column…he opts for stronger glasses.
October 2016 – In Defense of Family
Buffy hopes second grade will be easier on her boy than last year. Unfortunately, things don’t work out that way. The boy is quiet and shy, and a group of louts have made it their special mission to terrorize him when the teachers are out of sight.
Spike’s heart goes out to his son when once again, the lad comes home bloodied and bruised in both body and soul.
“Why, Papa?” he asks, distress juddering through his small frame. “I try to stay away from them.”
How can he tell his son it’ll probably get worse before it gets better?
Tyler is astute enough to know one thing for sure – if he brings anyone into his battles it will only escalate things, so he’s resigned to fighting his way through school. However, the day he finds his sister cornered by two of the larger boys – David and Larry – something snaps inside him.
In a cold fury Tyler grabs David’s arm and spins him around. When the bigger boy laughs, Ty hauls off and decks him with a single punch to his chin. With a fluidity he’s never shown before, he heads for the other boy, who tucks tail and runs.
The twins sit in Mrs. Beene’s office, waiting for their Mama to answer the Principal’s summons. David sits on the opposite side of the room, sullenly waiting for his mother.
Everyone listens to the lengthy lecture on fighting in school and turning the other cheek. Detention is issued for all three children. When Tara complains and relays what actually happened, David is suspended for a week’s time and Tyler is given an essay to write on the merits of non-violence and a warning.
Catching Mrs. Beene’s wink as he leaves the office gives Tyler an unexpected spring to his step.
November 2016 – We Gather Together
In spite of the reading glasses, Xander finds himself unable to read blueprints or fine print for any length of time without developing a migraine. His company has no choice but to let him go. Six weeks before Christmas finds the head of the Harris household unemployed for the first time in ten years.
His severance package is more than generous, but the issue is not money, it’s pride. It isn’t chauvinism, Xander insists. He doesn’t object to Molly becoming the breadwinner. The man just can’t stand to think of himself as a burden… a Zeppo after all these years.
Losing a job is not a tragedy along the lines of, say… a death in the family, but it’s mourned the same way and Spike decides to help out in a decidedly male show of support. He takes Xander out and they get rip roaring drunk.
The men start with beer, then move on to scotch and whiskey. By this time, the tears are free-flowing complete with sobs and wails. Frustration and grief draw other patrons into their circle and before long the bar is one boat-load of commiserated misery.
Several hours later, Buffy arrives to ferry the guys home.
The Bennetts host Thanksgiving dinner this year. Willow and Becky bring their rambunctious toddler, who takes an immediate liking to her Uncle Xander. Kiana finds his eye patch fascinating. She squeals with delight each time Xander ducks away from her grasping fingers.
Things could be worse, he thinks, as laughter and gaiety surround him. He is truly grateful to be amidst family and friends who constantly remind him of his worth in their eyes.
He’ll just sit back and enjoy his family for awhile before worrying about getting some kind of job. Maybe after the New Year. He has time.