A child’s voice calling “Maam… maaauuuumm…. Mumm!” preceded the appearance of a tiny blue Willow tottered her way from the safety of the bedroom door-jam to the legs of her dear ‘uncles’ who were temporarily (and conveniently) sleeping on the floor in front of the lounge room fire. She dived joyfully into the arms of Spike… her call for ‘Mum’ apparently referred to everyone in the building who constituted family and safe. She was captured by a loving embrace, lifted by two strong arms, then brought down to have her tummy attacked by a ‘raspberry’, eliciting giggles and squeals of delight.
It was inevitable… two other small folk escaped their parents’ bedroom to join their loving uncles, ‘diving in’ and receiving the same treatment as their sister. Spike eventually took all the little bedroom ‘invaders’, placed them in the ‘trap’ made by his own legs, and to squeals of delight, closed the trap, engulfed the youngsters in the bed covers for a moment, then released with a ‘boo’ for effect, and when demanded, ‘trapped’ them again. The high pitched squeaks and giggles, and consequent cuddles, occupied the first waking hour of their day. The rest of the house roused to the happy sound.
Eventually the three little invaders departed on a ‘discovery tour’ of the Daniel variety as the witch pottered around the kitchen preparing breakfast.
Xander rolled onto his side. A teary brown eye fixed on Spike’s baby blues as he stroked the golden blonde locks and began tentatively. “Would you mind if we had our own?... You know… *really* yours and mine… if we could… would you mind?”
“Be lovely pet… but gotta think … you’re my better half now… if we keep exchanging blood and… I really want to claim you pet… we can wait ‘til after the kids but then it’s a forever thing luv… do you want the forever?.. I won’t do it if you don’t want …. and kids …lovely but don’t want to be without you and….” Spike looked at the confusion in Xander’s face and smelt the mixture of love and fear rolling off his partner.
“But… no sun and stakage… and…?”
He added quickly, “Not a vamp… not a vamp!! A consort… human consort… with all the connections and the longevity … but not a vamp… tie you to me forever… Could you? Would you? And… I do… I do want to have a family with you... We do that first yeah?” Spike stroked the brunette’s blind side and felt his friend lean into the caress. “Our kids… That would be lovely pet… It would be an honor to father children with you… if we can… but Xan?” He stroked the face again, “Xan if we can’t it doesn’t matter OK… It really won’t matter. I love *you*. I want you as my partner… always… always luv… can we do that regardless?”
“Yes… please… just… yes!” Xander buried his face against Spike’s neck and in the process bared his own.
Later that day the issue of Robbie came up again. Daniel was keen to make contact before he returned to the coven.
Spike was still worried, “We can’t just call ‘im up and say ‘Oi you a member of the resistance’! C’mon! Let’s Email the chap, drop some hints and see if it is really him.”
Daniel looked a little crestfallen, he had been so convinced that the Email belonged to their drinking friend, but he also saw the wisdom in Spike’s words. “What do you suggest?”
Spike was already on his way to the computer. “Let’s send an Email… if it’s Robbie that’s great, if it’s not then… we get to meet someone new I guess.” Spike dialed up and logged in. Still not trusting the system he bounced from a wiccan group in Singapore continuing to use a dynamic IP. There was no point risking themselves now.
Hope the storms passed you by. Got your Email from some OS friends of yours, said you were a good stick. Not sure if we’ve met but figure we may have.
If you’re into wooden furniture, you’ll remember our place.
The boss is still away but is well and sends his love. Still resisting standard treatment of course.
We’re having beers tonight if you’re up to it, store bought this time. You’ll know the address if the above makes sense.
D, A & W.”
Daniel read the note and grinned. “That will do it…” He squeezed Spike’s shoulder then turned to wander back into the kitchen… “In the meantime, we’ve got a farm to run!”
The garden had recovered surprisingly well. The first time Kathleen made it in to pick up produce, they had close to thirty dozen eggs ready, plus butter to ‘feed the county’, it seemed. Spike had also jarred sauerkraut from some of the cabbages, and Jon and he had made mint sauce and lemon syrup. (They were almost out of sugar and vinegar as a consequence). Other produce had been used by the family during the storms, but they still had around four boxes of cabbages ready for market. Garlic and onions had all been plaited ready for hanging while they were in the shelter, and after two months were just perfect for the ‘rustic market’ look.
Kathleen was thrilled. She was amazed to find ‘her boys’ had fared so well and even a little envious as she noted the unscathed farm. Their own property had suffered several roof losses, the death of two calves and trees down everywhere. However she also knew that other neighbors had suffered far worse, the McPherson’s property was worst hit.
Kathleen would admit that Enid and Jock McPherson weren’t her favorite neighbors due mainly to their politics and in particular their hostility toward Samuel. They had also made their thoughts known regarding their intense dislike of the ‘moderate’ opinions of their local pastor. Love thy neighbor an unwelcome message it seemed. Their son was in the military, apparently a unit specializing in ‘rounding up hostiles’, something celebrated by his father in particular who never missed an opportunity to remind the local community how his son was ‘saving them’ on a daily basis.
In the early days of the ‘round up of hostiles’, Jock had reported Samuel as the ‘son of a foreign witch’. Kathleen was grateful for the first time, that Sam had been ill and was away attending his clinic. Enid seemed a nice enough soul however still snubbed the lovely afro-American families joining their church.
They were away visiting their son in Texas when the storms hit. Every building on the McPherson property had been destroyed.
Xander listened to the usually irrepressible Kathleen speak sadly of the county’s losses, then made his apologies for lack of furniture or wood turning, and promised that ‘production’ was back on track now the weather was improving (and electricity had returned).
She smiled, patted him on the cheek, and promised to return the next day with some of the essentials they were missing. She was apparently immensely encouraged by news that Samuel was to ‘come home’ soon. Much as she liked Daniel, he was still a ‘medico’, and not from around here. Her boys deserved their lovely Samuel back.
Spike checked the Email on the hour… eventually a reply came from R_ambo
“Think we’ve met, CU soon… hope the home brew made it. R”
Spike grinned as did Daniel who spoke first, “It *is* him…”
“Yeah mate it is… but now the fun starts…”
The day on the farm passed as normal: Xander was back at his woodwork; Eddie still planting and tending his vegetable patch; Jon tended the animals as soon as the sun dropped enough; Spike cruised the web while small people played inside, then, like Jon, worked outside once the sun was less deadly; meanwhile Daniel spent his time sorting eggs and making sure the poultry were appropriately fed and nurtured.
An old four wheel drive bounced up the driveway, and a familiar figure emerged.
Spike answered the back door, sleeves pulled up and rather covered in… flour… “Cheers mate! Wondered if you’d show.”
Robbie grinned, Spike smiled back as the mature paramedic suddenly took on the appearance of a twelve year old with a secret.
Spike had his hands back in the dough, kneading the bread expertly. “Out with it you silly bugger… ‘n stop starin’ at a chap…. *What*?”
Robbie dropped his gaze then mumbled, “Sorry… didn’t mean to get all…. Goofy… it’s just… I should have known! And now there are others… Geez William… do you realize how hard it is to run a resistance out here… if only I’d known! I just didn’t realize you guys had come to help out Sam… thought you were… well anyway.”
Spike stopped his activity. “How much do you know pet?”
“Ummm just that … well you must be sympathizers… right… and figure you were soldiers… kind of tried to hint when we had drinks but when you didn’t… well… you know… reciprocate…” Robbie’s tone dropped for a moment, but then he brightened, “So you’re here to help old Sam?!”
Spike reached out for Robbie’s hand and pulled it to rest against his throat. “No mate… he’s helping us.”
Robbie’s eyes went wide. There was no pulse. The beautiful gentle and loving individual before him… had no pulse. “How?... What?... But you??”
“Are one of the undead pet… Of the souled variety you’ll be happy to note, but no less undead.”
“But then you and Alex?”
“Are partners pet… Kept each other alive by intent or practical assistance… didn’t matter. Torture harder to endure alone…”
Xander had felt the jolt through the link and joined his blonde friend, hugging him tight. He pulled off the eye patch and stripped his shirt off to expose the marks for Robbie to see: the scars of operations, the signs of whippings, the violation of flesh, the evidence of cigarette burns.
Robbie was suddenly pale and looked as though he might be ill, “So you were? ... You were??”
“Guests of the government, yeah pet… we were. Couple of counties over, more than a year ago now..” Spike took his partner’s hand and squeezed it tight. Robbie suddenly understood.
“… when the resistance blew up the facility… I remember! Oh god! But you and …oh William … and Alex? and Jon?” When Spike did not respond their gentle neighbor continued, “Oh shoot and I never knew! Sam didn’t say… I’m so sorry… And I just didn’t think?!! S..so what are… I mean how can I…??... Oh god I am still so stupid! How could I not see?”
Spike, still holding his partner close, called to Eddie and Jon, then continued.
“So you see pet … me ensouled and *yes* vampire. Partner here was simply a Sunnydale white hat, a good guy! He saved the world more times than anyone can count … and still only a straight up human until those bastards!... Rob … He was no more the criminal than your aunt Mavis… just a sympathizer!... A kid that ran with the original Slayer… but they’ve… ummm…” Spike pulled Xander closer, “they’ve changed him… They abused and mutilated… Ahhh Robbie….” Spike paused for a moment to compose himself.
“He should never have been hurt…. But … you know?... I’m thankful that in the end we’ve… that and we could perhaps… anyway… thankful we’ve got each other now for all time… ummm… Ahhh pet… ” Spike ignored their guest for a moment to hug his lover close and bury his face against Xander’s neck.
Robbie reached over to the two men, “Hey it’s OK… I figured…. But there’s more isn’t there?!”
Spike nodded… but was cut off, barely having time to say, “Hope you like kids”, before the pretty blue Eddie and his newly toothed partner Jon emerged with three little charges.
With his arm around his blue lover’s waist Jon simply introduced them by saying, “Robbie this is my partner Eddie, and our children, Willow, Jessie and Sam…. They’re the part of our family we couldn’t show you before…”
Robbie grinned broadly, nodded and waited in silence as a temporarily shy little Jessie slowly made her way over to the visitor.
Not quite ten minutes later, the tiny children had all overcome any shyness and were reaching in turn for their lovely neighbor. Robbie had been initially taken aback by the coloring of the children but quickly adapted to the role of ‘favorite big person of the moment’ and proceeded to being bounce each child in turn on a broad, strong knee, as the children begged for more and responded gleefully to Robbie’s deep baritone laugh. Daniel came in from the chicken shed following the joyous sound. He greeted their neighbor as if a long lost brother, handshake quickly evolving into a warm hug, then settled to join them for a midmorning coffee,
Robbie was still present when a flash in the lounge signaled Willow, Mikaela and Sam’s arrival.
After The Fall: 20