Spike logged off and reached for Xander… his Email contact apparently… successful?!
Xander leaned into Spike’s embrace as they watched the two rather disorientated women steady, then orientate themselves, the women still trying to get over their magical ‘transfer’, made all the worse by the otherworldly version of encryption necessary for the trip.
As the white haired witch began to turn, Spike heard Xander’s breathing hitch and scented tears. After all that had happened to them, all they had lost, a changed but smiling Willow was standing in their lounge room.
“Oh Goddess, Xander!!” There was a definite ‘eep’ from Xander as he was suddenly sandwiched between Spike and his lifelong female friend. There was no point in trying to stem the tears, Xander simply let them flow. Willow hugged, Spike supported him, and silent hot drips fell onto the top of the wiccan’s now white locks.
“Ehhh Hmmm, Mistress Willow?” An impossibly thin raven, haired girl stepped into Spike’s line of sight. Her face was half covered by a cascade of long black fringe, but Spike could still see she had emerald green eyes, framed by impossibly long lashes, and a face that hinted at elven heritage. Spike felt the awesome magic flowing from both women. The air literally prickled with it.
“Mistress Willow?! If I may… I assume we are in the right place?”
Willow pulled from the hug and turned her attention to her protégé. “Of course, dearest. This is Xander and his partner (?)” Xander nodded, Willow grinned knowingly, “Spike or is it William?”
Spike gave her a warm, welcoming smile, “Call me what you like luv, so long as you’re here to help.”
Willow giggled a little just as she might have years ago, and kissed Xander firmly on the lips, grinning as she pulled away blushing a little at Spike’s possessive “Oi! Enough with the reunion!”
“Ohh of course. This is Cassandra, Cassie to her friends...” She held out her hand to her friend as Cassandra moved toward the group. “Oz said you need us. Here we are.”
The western orientation of the bedroom and inadequate curtains meant it was Xander who had to rouse Samuel. The rather sleepy gent fell to his knees as he faced the two powerful witches. He kissed both palms of Willow’s, then Cassandra’s hands. Spike was a little confused by the Latin words of the blessing they bestowed on their subservient host, but Samuel seemed suddenly pain free for the first time in weeks. The whispered “Thank you mistresses… oh thank you” was confirmation enough for the vampire as matched the ‘thank you’(s) openly and reached for Samuel’s hand. He lifted Samuel to a chair, gave the hand a gentle squeeze and Xander a kiss, then left the group to chat and make tea, while he collected Eddie, Jon and the children from their sleeping quarters.
Spike lifted the storm door as quietly as he could, and was touched by the scene in front of him. Jonothon and Eddie’s legs were intertwined, encircling three little blue forms who were sleeping contentedly, guarded by their parent’s bodies. The two adults had also unconsciously thrown their top arms across the three children. It looked warm, comfortable and relaxed. Spike was sad to have to break their rest, but was only two steps down before Jon roused in alarm.
“No problems mate, just that … well, we have some witches here… bit of a surprise really…” By the time Spike had the sentence out, Eddie was sitting up looking excited, while SamII and Jessie began to protest their waking.
By the time the family entered the house twenty minute’s later, the two women, their host and Xander, were sitting with cups of tea and a plate of home made apple-cake. Despite his best instincts, Spike still worried for Eddie and the children, so Jon and he left Eddie with the three children in arm while they entered ahead of him. Spike waited for the knowing look from Xander and the jolt of ‘trust’ across the link, and quickly ushered in the rest of the family.
Rather than shock, Willow’s reaction to Eddie and brood was one of a delighted aunt, thrilled when her very sleepy little namesake was handed over for a cuddle and late feed. All parties settled, the ‘business end’ of the visit became a priority. Samuel addressed the group first, giving the specific details of his latest visions to the wiccans.
Cassandra was the first to speak after the distressing news, “We must help them *all* Mistress!” She then turned an accusatorial eye on Samuel, “Why have you not told us of this before?!!!”
Samuel was unable to disguise his distress at the implication of failure and sobbed a little, but before he had a chance to reply, they were all caught in a wave of pain as a new pulse came though the implants. Samuel collapsed with yet another series of crippling visions. Spike grabbed SammyII from Jonothon as the other vampire fell to his knees and threw up with the pain. As the various members of the group righted themselves and were tended to, Spike rounded on the dark witch in full game face, “And what the F@#& to you think we’ve been trying to do!! Everyone. Is. Inside. Running. Or *Dead*. Samuel ‘ere has been nigh on ‘is death bed just with the visions…. and… well if it weren’t for your dogboy we’d *still* ‘ave noone to tell! So… Back. The. F#%$. Off Morticia!....” He snarled at the witch, then hugged and petted his tiny charge…shifting face then shooting a begging look toward the white haired witch. “Willow …Please… Please!!… Help. Us!!” He was still hugging the now extremely distressed Sam II to his chest, as he tried to calm the tiny figure as crimson tears fell a legacy of the change to his true vampire countenance.
This was so far beyond anything Willow had expected. “Oh Goddess” was all she could say before moving to help Xander who was still prostrate on the floor keening quietly with the residual pain. Samuel was in a worse state, totally unconscious again, while Jonothon was openly sobbing but trying to take a little blood from his partner’s proffered wrist, all the while breaking the suction to apologize for needing to do the same.
Cassandra began to comment, “Mistress, shouldn’t we be……”
Willow cut her off. “Cassie, set up a ward? *NOW*.” The air prickled, Cassie dipped her head in submission and complied, as Willow sat on the floor and took Samuel’s head in her lap while still cradling the tiny blue Willow safely in her arms, Sam’s dog whimpered a little and moved to lie touching his afflicted master.
The unhappy group gradually regained their composure and moved to the familiar comfort of the kitchen. They all heard the thunder like crack as the ward fell into place over the tiny home.
Samuel took a long draft of soothing water and smiled up weakly at Willow.
The remainder of the evening was spent in ‘debrief’ mode with frequent stops as one of two of their number needed to be comforted. Particularly distressing for Xander and Spike was the knowledge that Buffy had been eliminated mere hours after Xander had last seen her. Already tranquilized, she was still shot at point blank range, along with three other demons. The orders shoot to kill Buffy directly related to her prior association with the Initiative in Sunnydale. It seemed that saving the world at least three times simply did not count. She constituted a security risk and was apparently a hybrid, therefore had no status. Drugged she stood no chance. Spike held Xander’s head as he was violently ill twice then cradled the boy as he sobbed with the grief that constituted the confirmation of loss.
Amongst discussions of old colleagues and acquaintances, Jonothon opened his mouth for the two wiccans so they might view the damage done there. Eddie held his hand and their three progeny squirmed in the arms of ‘uncles’. It was Cassandra’s turn to gasp in shock. She had never seen such cruelty first hand. Jonothon reached for her and attempted to convey his toothless message. They were still alive. That was something for which he was grateful, and as his gaze fell deliberately to the three minute blue people now crawling on the floor, Cassie began to openly weep. This was more than she had been prepared for. They *had* to succeed or so many would die… so many….
Xander lifted his shirt for Willow to review the scar across his chest. Next, the ocular implant was examined and finally Jonothon’s chip site was reviewed. Spike had missed rechipping, Xander suspected it was to do with the obsession of removing bones and skin for regenerative studies. Eddie had been ‘altered’ in similar fashion to Xander though the impregnation was an easier process due to the position of internal organs. Willow was still unsure of her friend’s odd status but the implants and visions were the priority.
She patted Jon on the shoulder and murmured, “Hmmm, it seems the technology hasn’t changed much” then led them all back in to the front room.
Spike quietly pulled Willow aside as the others took coffee and cake into the other room.
Willow sat him down, Spike swallowed hard and wrapped his arms around his torso… it was going to be… awful he knew that… His anguish transmitted even before the story started. Willow found herself talking to two men holding on to each other with a ferocity that spelt pain.
Dawn had been taken to a ‘medical facility’ in Denver not dissimilar from Spike and Xander’s accommodations. Her captors had tortured her (Willow was rather closed mouthed as to exactly how) but they had eventually, and quite unwittingly, driven her back to her original energy form and in the process, took out the facility and a twenty mile radius of surrounding county with the energy surge. Oddly a fiery green ball of otherworldly energy turned up at the (then) tiny resistance HQ, a home in Balfron Scotland, within seconds of Dawn’s Denver destruction. The extraordinary energy ball pulsed and seemed responsive, particularly to both Willow and also Giles who had ‘made it’ to that spot. Technically Dawn still existed, but… Spike went very quiet… no body meant… He had been down that road. They *had* to fix it… The Niblet had to be helped to ‘be’… It was all too terrible!
There was no word of Faith or Robin, and Andrew had disappeared after a raid in Mexico, presumed dead. As an afterthought, Xander asked after Riley. The Initiative sweeps included demon sympathizers and 'not quite humans'. Riley had been part of the initial Sunnydale crew, and had a ‘history’. The last the resistance had heard, he had been demoted then summarily dismissed (dishonorable discharge) after he refused to shoot a group of bracken demons... six tiny children. Willow’s stared at her friend as her voice hitched with emotion. "Did they...?" Xander had looked toward Eddie's little triplets.
Willow saw the glance and the fear, and they both knew the truth. Little Willow, Jes and SammyII would not stand a chance. She whispered, "Someone else killed the kids then they arrested Riley and court marshalled him." She continued, even though she knew her life long friend was now silently weeping for the innocents lost, "The last we heard, he was on the ‘elimination on sight’ list. He may be still running or he may be dead, who knows."
Willow’s own story was no less fraught. Her captors had been keen to explore her ‘computer and amateur wiccan talents’ but were rather ignorant of her immense power. She had convinced her captors to give her a few minutes in the exercise yard late in week two of her captivity. Feet firmly planted on the earth, she had drawn in the lethal earth power that had previously threatened the world. An earthquake reading 7.5 on the Rictor scale resulted, allowing her to disappear through the gap in her ‘pen’, and escape in the mayhem of the earthquake emergency (along with close to seventy other inmates who ‘made it’ to resistance groups or sympathetic individuals).
Cassandra had avoided the purges courtesy of a mother who simply hid her children away in their farmhouse on the Isle of Skye. Only later did she bring her four magically gifted progeny to the Balfron group.
Willow took Xander’s hand as he began to explain what had occurred to him since they had last seen each other. He felt it unnecessary to include the most painful details. She ran her fingers over the virtually hairless soft skin of his lower arm, and again noticed the subtle differences in her old friend. The face had softer lines, but the haunted look, the residual result of torture was unmistakable. He was so much thinner, more akin to the pre-pubescent Xander of Sunnydale she remembered from Junior high school. He was certainly devoid of the manly musculature she had seen post school nor was there any sign of ‘afternoon shadow’. The slightly rounded, yet extremely thin frame suddenly made sense as she watched Eddie with the children. He admitted his fear to her. He did not know how much or how permanent the ‘change’ was… he told her everything… and admitted his fear that *they* had done ‘something else’.
Willow continued to take in the changes as she held her now sobbing, long time friend. The skin on his chest was like all her female lovers and Xander’s aura was androgynous. As she released the man into the arms of Spike and accepted Willow II again, she smiled at Spike and Xander interacting, and she finally let tears fall. Later she admitted that they were tears were of joy. In amongst all the horror and torture, Xander had found Spike, and Spike had found Xander, a more caring and loving couple would have been difficult to find anywhere on the planet. She watched as Spike fed his lover the necessary painkillers as the pulses from the Initiative began again, then applied a cool towel and finally cradled Xander’s head in his lap while burping their tiny blue ‘niece’.
Around midnight Cassie and Willow tapped Jonothon and Xander in turn. They were soon sitting in a circle on the lounge room floor, holding hands in ‘boy/girl’ order.
Partners Spike and Eddie were both frantic as the household all roused. They remained outside, sitting in the kitchen as requested. Samuel joined them in their vigil. The babies thankfully slept on, wrapped in their ‘bunny rugs’ and resting comfortably on a cushion of straw (covered by two tea towels) meant for the chickens’ enclosure. The partners and their benefactor all held hands as the screams began, and Spike fell into game face with the pain flowing through the link.
When Willow pushed open the kitchen door with a shaky hand, Eddie was the only one still lucid. Samuel had succumbed to the pain of his visions and Spike had passed out in sympathy with Xander. She still nudged both the unconscious individuals until they were able to hear the news. The implants were *gone*. Not merely disabled but actually removed. Apparently the translocation and restorative spells they had been working on… had been… successful! In her open palm lay the offensive items, still coated in blood, but too valuable to the resistance to destroy outright.
It was apparent… she needed time with Cassie… they did apparently now *have* the potential to save tens of thousands of demons worldwide, but obtaining the energy needed was going to be… a challenge.
A pale, but implant free, Xander stood leaning shakily against the door frame… “ Waddya reckon deadboy? Shall we save the world again?”
Spike saw the implant free socket and slight grin of old…“Oh Xan!”
After The Fall: 13