Believe it or not, I am posting FIC! New fic! Well, at least dabbling in my Innocence Found/Reclamation Verse!
I've had it on my hard drive for a couple of years, lacking the confidence to bring it to the light of day, but here it is,
for what it's worth - hopefully will bring some smiles to those who read. And to those of you who realize I haven't actually
passed away for lack of posting.
It really helps if you read Innocence Found, and then Reclamation, or none of this will make any sense whatsoever. Just sayin'.
Two years since we've last peeked in on the gang
The sound of something scratching at the front door roused Giles from a lazy, post-dinner cuddle.
"What's the matter, Rupert?" Tara yawned, gently stretching her back to alleviate the kinks from falling asleep on the couch in her husband’s arms.
"Shhhh," he whispered, standing still. "Listen… there! There it is again," he said. "Do you hear it? A sort of scratching noise?"
Fully awake now, Tara concentrated but could hear nothing out of the ordinary until…
**thump** followed by low-pitched arguing of some sort.
"Now that I heard." She smiled, stretching once again before easing herself up from the sofa. "I'm not too worried… my wards are still in place. Nothing with intent to harm can enter."
"For which I'm extremely grateful, love. However, I think it's best if you stay here while I see what's making all the commotion."
Tara fixed him with a "silly man" roll of her eyes, but humored him by staying well out of reach of the threshold.
Giles grabbed the loaded crossbow he kept behind his desk and crept stealthily to the door, trying to listen for an opportunity to catch whatever was trying to break in unawares.
"Hold still! I'm almost there!"
"Ouch… your toenails are scratching my neck."
"Don't be such a baby!"
"Not exactly fear-inducing," he murmured. "Nevertheless…" He pulled the door open, aimed the crossbow in a well-practiced move, and was startled when two very familiar children fell at his feet.
"S'prise!" shouted Bitty-Buffy, scrambling up from the floor. "Bet you didn't know it was us."
Bitty-Spike said nothing, but dipped his head, smiling shyly.
Giles clutched at his chest like a maiden aunt. "N-no, not at all. What a surprise indeed, children. Do come in," he said, quickly putting the weapon back in its usual place and away from curious, little hands.
Tara met them at the door, enjoying their hugs. “Where are the rest of your clothes?” she asked, noting each one wore an over-sized shirt and nothing else… not even shoes.
“Outside,” Buffy said, pointing to the entrance-way.
When Tara opened the door, sure enough… halfway down the block, in the middle of the sidewalk, was a pile of clothing. “Rupert, would you please bring their clothes inside? Sooner or later they’re going to need them again.”
“Of course, my dear,” Giles said, and walked out the door to retrieve them.
Buffy stared at Tara, as if trying to figure something out. Her little brow furrowed, looking as if she were deep in thought.
Noticing the girl’s discomfort, Tara couldn’t help being curious as to the continuity of events in their little minds. “What do you remember from the last time you were here?” she asked.
“She got her arm hurt,” Spike chipped in. “I remember it was all burned an’ she was crying.”
Buffy nodded in agreement. “And you were big! But I could still tell it was you in there,” she said, smiling proudly. “A big bampire with pretty blue eyes.”
Spike ducked his head. Had he been human, his face would have burned brightly with a deep pink blush.
“Anything else?” Tara asked, wondering just how they would take the news of time passed.
Both children shook their heads.
Just then, the door opened and Giles walked back in with their grownup clothes. “How are you two feeling? Are you hungry? Tired? Hurt?” he asked tentatively, running his hands perfunctorily over both, making sure they weren’t wounded in any way. “What happened to you?”
“Hush, Rupert. You’re upsetting the children,” Tara said, gently ushering Buffy and Spike towards the couch. Why don’t you two sit while we both go to the kitchen and rustle up a snack? How do cookies and cold milk sound?”
Buffy and Spike both jumped off the couch at the same time and headed towards the table with shouts of “me, me!”
“I’m sorry we don’t have any of your special juice,” Giles said to Spike as he climbed onto the chair.
“I know you mean blood, Sir,” the little vampire said. “I remember when my Grandpa Angel fed me his.” Spike looked at Giles with reproach in his eyes. “M’not a baby. I’m a big boy vampire,” he insisted, his gameface sliding into place for a few moments before fading away again.
“I’m sorry, Spike. I should have realized. If you’re okay for the evening, I can go to the butcher in the morning.”
“S’okay, I’m not really hungry anyway,” Spike replied. “I do want the cookies, however. Have you got those little chocolate pieces in them?”
Giles set a plate in front of each child along with a glass of milk. “They do, indeed. The finest chocolate chip cookies Tara can bake.”
“Thank you, Tara,” they chorused. “Thank you, Mister Giles.” They both proceeded to chow down their cookies with gusto.
Buffy’s brow was furrowed once more as she looked up at Giles, a small mustache of cookie crumbs and milk lining her upper lip. “Mister… Did you an’ Tara get married?” she asked, grabbing his left hand and pointing to his ring finger. “You both have these,” she said, tapping the gold band shining brightly against his skin.
“Yes, dear, we did indeed marry,” he said, gently chucking the girl under the chin. “And please, call me Giles.”
“Then why did Tara call you Rupert?” Spike asked.
“Because that’s his first name, sweetie,” Tara replied. “But his friends all call him Giles, and big Buffy and Spike do, as well.”
Nodding once, Buffy said, “Well, I’m your friend, right… Giles?”
“That you are, Buffy – you and Spike, both.” He smiled warmly and then hugged each child around the shoulders.
“Rupert,” Tara called her husband over. “What should we do? I mean, I know there’s nobody to call about their missing adult selves, but we’re not set up to care for them for an extended period of time. We have no clothes or shoes they can wear.”
Giles nodded in agreement. “We did give their togs to Goodwill over a year ago. Who would have expected we’d need them again?” he mused. “Not to mention who knows how long they’ll stay in this condition. Have you sensed anything magical about them? Obviously they were on their way here when it happened. I don’t understand why they would just transform in the middle of the street like that. Thank goodness their younger selves remembered where we live. Imagine… the idea of two small children out alone after dark.”
Tara shuddered. Even preternaturally strong children would be vulnerable prey on their own. “I guess we can find out what happened when they return to normal. And no, I didn’t sense anything off when I hugged them. Nothing pinging the magic meter at all.”
“Well, my love… for the moment there’s nothing to research. We can open the sofabed and make sure the curtains are completely closed and look at our little problem with new eyes in the morning.”
“We can enjoy them as long as it lasts,” Tara said, smiling at the children’s antics at the table. Buffy was dive-bombing both her glass and Spike’s with chunks of cookie, making quite the mess on the table. For his part, Spike was busy stealing bits of Buffy’s cookies and shoving them into his mouth when she wasn’t looking.
The skin around Giles’ eyes crinkled as he, too, couldn’t hold back a grin. “I – I can’t believe how much I’ve missed them,” he murmured, reaching out for Tara’s hand. “As much as Buffy’s grown into an astounding young woman, and Spike… well… has defied expectations numerous times… there is something so precious and innocent that gets lost in their older selves.”
Tara curled her arm around Giles’ waist, pulling the man closer to herself. “They really are special, aren’t they? And their auras… they complement each other so. She’s truly the Yin to his Yang.”
Giles shook his head gently, and sighed. “There are more things in Heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy,” he paraphrased the Shakespearean quote. “I didn’t have the foggiest clue we’d end up here when I first spied her youthful face that day in the school library.”
“And that you’d finally accept her choices as a grown, adult woman,” Tara added, warmly.
“Frankly, I didn’t expect her to live to adulthood,” Giles murmured. “I mean I’d hoped, but the odds were against her. And she did end up dying twice, after all.”
Tara leaned over and kissed him lightly on the cheek. “There’s no reason to worry over the past, sweetie. You need to revel in the here and now or you’ll miss all the good things in life. Oh!” she exclaimed as she felt a tug on her sweater. “Buffy, you scared me.”
The little blonde giggled. “I’m really good at being sneaky. Nobody can find me in Hide and Seek.”
“Is there something you wanted, dear?” Giles asked.
“Me and Spike are finished with our cookies, an’ we put the dishes in the sink,” Buffy answered proudly.
“And I cleaned all the crumbly bits off the table,” Spike chimed in.
“Such good little helpers!” Tara clapped her hands, making a big fuss over the children, enjoying the way their little faces lit up at the praise. “If I wash the dishes, would you both help me dry them so I can put them away?”
“I will! I will!” they both clamored as they rushed to the sink.
Tara slid a stepstool over to each child and handed them a towel. “I’ll wash, and you dry,” she said. “We’ll be finished in no time.”
She smiled as Buffy dried a small plate, and Spike was very intent on getting the last drop of water out of a glass. She was so enchanted with the little vampire that she failed to notice the gleam in Buffy’s eyes as she grabbed for the water sprayer.
Buffy squealed with childish glee as the spray caught Spike square in the face. Unfortunately, she inadvertently caught Tara in the belly before Tara could turn off the water.
“Buffy! How could you?” she cried. “Look at the mess you made. Poor Spike is drenched, and… and… “
“Tara, sweetheart. Wake up.” Giles’ mellifluous voice slowly got through to her drowsy brain. “Is everything all right? You were moaning in your sleep.”
“Oh, Rupert! It was a dream,” she murmured, leaning into his warm embrace. “Spike and Buffy were little again, and they were helping me wash dishes, when someone got the bright idea to use the sprayer as a water gun. I was soaked!”
“There, there, dear. You’re awake now. Perfectly dry, see?” he said as he peeled back the comforter. “Or not,” he added, eyes wide with wonder. “It would appear that your water broke.”
Tara looked down over her distended belly to find the sheets and her thighs soaked in rapidly cooling liquid.
Giles eased his wife off the bed so she could dress, and placed a call to her obstetrician. He then gathered her pre-packed maternity suitcase from the closet floor and snagged his keys from the tray on their double dresser.
“The next time we step through our front door, we’ll be parents,” he murmured, “Of our own little one.”
“It’s bound to be easier than taking care of preternaturally de-aged youngsters,” Tara answered back, before grabbing her belly with a loud ‘umph’.
“Are you all right, love?” Concerned, Giles dropped the suitcase and rushed to Tara’s side.
“I-I’m fine. I think we’d better be on our way. It feels like the little one is anxious to make its way into the world.”
“Are you glad we decided to be surprised as to the baby’s gender?”
Tara smiled, stroking her husband’s cheek gently. “One of the last, best mysteries in this world,” she answered, holding onto the bannister as they made their way down the stairs and out to the car. “You’ll call everyone from the hospital?”
“You have my word of honor,” Giles promised. “Besides, Anya and Buffy would have my guts for garters if I forgot.
With that, Mr. and Mrs. Rupert Giles left the house for the beginning of their greatest adventure yet.