The usual flash in the lounge room announced Daniel’s arrival. He was somewhat taken aback when three small children ran from the room, all yelling for their parents… in real words. He had utterly forgotten how quickly they developed… at thirteen months they were doing things humans would take another six to twelve months longer to master… being so tiny seemed some how to make it all the more adorable. Despite being back with his ‘other half’ and the coven, Daniel had missed them all… terribly.
He took a moment to orientate himself then wandered over to lean in his favorite spot against the door-jam of the kitchen. “OK lads? Heard you’re in need of a doc… but got a beer for the weary traveler?”
He was immediately embraced by a six way hug (seven and a half counting the small figures squashing themselves against various legs).
Daniel happily accepted a beer, but with limited time at his disposal, quickly got down to the business of examining his ‘patient’.
The next day marked week twenty seven, and by his estimation in fact closer to week twenty eight. With proper care the babies were ‘viable’ even now, but he was more concerned about their carrying parent. Xander’s blood pressure seemed somewhat erratic, high one moment and dangerously low at another. Daniel could only put it down to the very rudimentary, experimental, Initiative surgery and the ridiculous pressure being put on his system by the hormonal hike.
He could do little else but prescribe bed rest and TLC. No drug nor magic in the world could do given the unpredictability of the symptoms. He emailed Mikaela and Willow with the report of the same, then spent a joyful evening with his ‘other’ family and finally left.
Kathleen insisted Samuel and Xander meet the gallery owner and some of her ‘ladies’ for drinks in their last week as Xander delivered the last pieces for sale. His shed was now clear of tools and wood, and the majority of the rest of the farm had already been packed ready for transport, sold or given away.
Even the local pastor was present at the art gallery soiree. Samuel apologized for their other ‘two boys’, explaining that the social event was still a little too much for them to handle, but sent their kind regards and thanks to the wonderful community they had been part of.
Xander was coming up for seven months pregnant and though the bump was still high and his shirt and jacket ‘ample’, he kept his distance from most of the guests and made sure to stand in the shadows when possible. He shook hands with the pastor and congratulated him on the wonderful ‘ladies’, and finally met with a gushing Edna.
Kathleen had noted Xander’s apparent weight gain a week or so before having ‘caught’ his profiled silhouette in the garage as he stood contemplating his latest creation. She had always preferred her men a little on the larger side - but noting the emerging ‘beer gut’, had cautioned him on drinking too much of Samuel’s beer of an evening. If only she knew. Xander on the odd occasion had a swig of Spike’s but effectively had not had a drink for seven months.
Xander graciously presented two beautiful candle sticks and an elegant cross to the church on Samuel’s behalf, and asked that the proceeds of the sale of the exquisite tall boy also go to the auxiliary ladies’ fund. The gesture earned both Samuel and Xander a toast from the group and kisses from both the pastor’s wife and Kathleen, and, rather to the embarrassment of Xander, the gallery’s owner (whose perfectly styled hair and black cashmere sweater reminded Xander somehow of Angel in an odd sort of way).
Four days later in the early evening, a convoy of two semi-trailers stood in the driveway, loaded to the hilt and ready for departure. They were a ‘demon friendly’ company arranged by a ‘native’ coven in Nevada via Willow. They would be paid well, but it was gratifying to know that explanations would need to be few. Samuel’s old truck was left to the next owners of the farm. It simply would not make the distance.
One huge ‘Mac’ truck had the farm equipment they had chosen to keep and a trailer of stock they were to take (the poultry were staying). The other slightly smaller but no less powerful vehicle contained the household belongings and was towing a large trailer with the tractor and small harvester/hay bailer on board. Bedding and food for the two, more likely three, day journey had been tucked into the back of the ‘household’ truck.
Samuel’s ‘boys’ would take up their spots for the long haul while he took a place with the vehicle carrying most of the farm equipment. They would not stop unless necessary, and attempt to sleep as much as possible. Harnesses were provided for safety reasons ensuring a sudden brake would not throw the occupants, and the load was fastened securely – in all honesty far more than necessary. Their little space would be as safe as it could be. With two drivers in each truck, they had the opportunity to drive ‘straight through’. It was costing a small fortune, but shifting so far, they would take no chances.
All felt teary as the house was closed for the last time, Eddie and the children were already settled in the vehicle when the honk of a horn signaled the arrival of their lovely ambulance driver. Xander could no longer hold back the tears as he spotted Robbie coming up the drive in time to farewell them. The man looked… distraught, but managed to hand Samuel a sack of home made cookies for the trip before scrambling into the back of the vehicle and hugging Willow, Jessie and SamII soundly, then affording their lovely parents a farewell embrace and kiss.
Xander calmed during the interlude. As Daniel jumped from the tailgate of the semi, the pregnant human took the opportunity to pull the man to the rear of the last trailer, dragging Spike with them. He would finally share their secret.
Xander bared stomach to the man for the first time and Robbie stared from vampire to human in awe, as his hand was placed on the bulge and he felt it move.
“Gonna have to come and visit us soon Uncle Robbie, gonna have five kids for you to pamper.” Xander smiled a little.
“Alex? But how? Who?”
Spike grinned, “Breathe mate… We didn’t want to tell you in case … Initiative… experiments, all that rubbish a while back. Anyway, the how was your friend Daniel and ‘is missus… figured the boy here had been redesigned for it, we wanted it, they sorted it and now we’re having…”
Robbie quickly did the arithmetic, five children in the family could only mean, “… Twins!?”
It was Spike’s turn to become a little emotional as he replied almost inaudibly, “Yeah… twins… our twins.”
“Oh God! But this is … this is… are you OK Alex? I never even guessed… figured you’d gained..”
Xander looked down at his distended figure, snorted a little then looked up with more than a measure of hurt and self disgust in his eyes, “’Man boobs and a beer belly’ to quote some stupid comedian from downunder on PBS… yeah I guess I have that…”
Robbie was still in shocked, but had watched his sister go through three pregnancies, and could not imagine the implications as a male “Oh… wow… and …*no* Alex… Will… oh God it’s wonderful… I guess … it *is* wonderful.”
Spike saw their dear friend’s attempt to back peddle, but it was unnecessary, he leant forward and whispered in the larger man’s ear as though others might possibly hear, “Nahhh mate it’s fantastic… it’s everything!... They’re gonna be ours… yours, Uncle Rob… yours!…” He kissed the man soundly on the cheek then smirked a little… “So you comin’ up to ‘beaver land’ for the summer or just for a few weeks.”
Robbie looked a little puzzled, “There are beavers?”… but then grinned realizing his naiveté… “Yeah I’ll be there, it will depend on Mom though… how well she…”
Spike cut him off as he pulled Xander back into his arms, “Understood mate. Family and all… you just let us know.”
The trucks eventually pulled away. Daniel tried to smile as the rear doors of the semi were secured. The vehicle begin to roll. They all cried.
The house in Oregon was beautiful. Sprawling and rundown, it was as expected, but ready to be loved and restored, and with more than enough room for the whole family. The original owners had had nine children and the grandfather residing with them. Xander instructed ‘his team’ and the vampires removed non weight bearing walls from the upper story to create three large bedroom suites and two children’s rooms (one up and one down) from the existing maze of eight tiny spaces. Shutters were quickly replaced, gutters repaired and ‘electricals’ checked as, over the next month, the family settled in.
A new barn was commissioned through a local builder. And by the time Xander was relaxing on his side late afternoon, tummy resting gently on a pillow on the first day of week thirty three of ‘term’, he heard a whoop of delight as Samuel christened their wonderful new ‘construction’ with a bottle of home made beer (Spike, Jon and Eddie all happy to accept the store bought for the moment).
Their immediate new neighbors arrived within days of their arrival to meet and greet. The coven had alerted them. They arrived ready to prove their status, but the stress of nosey humans, or Intitiative sympathizers, evaporated on their first meeting as both Spike and Jon smelt the difference, and Eddie sensed the magic.
The D’Azpuras were half breed M’Atoth demons, quite stunningly beautiful. The whole family was tall, to the point of looking quite regal, parents and daughters all dark haired with light green eyes. In the nineteen sixties, when Nic and Pat arrived in Oregon, the local community had assumed they were from the Mediterranean somewhere (following some ‘hippie pilgrimage’, according to local rumor). The family never bothered to correct the assumption, and luckily the Initiative had apparently ‘overlooked’ the whole region after their first rudimentary sweep.
Their two girls both went to the local high school. Nicholas was an upstanding citizen and member of several local professional groups (he was a trained civil engineer and ran his own consultancy); and his partner, Patricia, volunteered at the town library and was known for her interest in local history. Few knew… the children appeared as their chronological age suggested, but their parents were close to a hundred years old. ‘Nic and Patty’ were thrilled to find that William (aka Spike) was significantly older… and from Europe, ensouled and quite the legend in his own right. Xander excused himself from the dinner around ten, the stories of the ‘old days’ (regardless of continent) were rather ‘inaccessible’ for the ex-Sunnydale Scooby.
After their first ‘neighborly dinner’ (shortly after the ‘opening’ of the barn’), Nic’s girls both offered to baby sit for Eddie and Jon. The boys really didn’t need it, but it meant the world to the stalwart parents. They eventually took up the offer, spending the night recreating their first coupling amongst specially purchased straw to replicate (at least in part) the barn in the first week after their escape, so many years ago. Even Sam’s failing hearing picked up the final cries of ecstasy.
The house was near perfect and the garden planted (though with a way to go), animals were settled and a new batch of ducks and chickens under the warm lights of an incubator. It would still be a month or three before they could be truly productive, but their expenses were few and their savings adequate. Xander however, was not faring as well as the farm.
It was day one of week thirty five. Jon’s report had not been good, and they had already contacted Daniel.
In the early hours of that morning Spike woke to a jolt of pain that rivaled anything from the Initiative. Swiftly realizing it came from his partner, who was already alternating between arching and crying out, and sobbing in a fetal ball, he opened his wrist. It seemed to little avail.
He called urgently for Jon and Sam. Moments later, the room was full of the household adults.
Overhead lights blazed and the rudimentary medical equipment came to the fore.
Jon did a couple of quick tests. “We need to do something now… The protein count from his urine is beyond the scale, there’s blood…. Sire, I fear his kidneys may be shutting down.” Spike was shaking his head violently but it was Jon who continued to provide the strength. “Sire, I’ve already contacted the coven, Daniel is coming… and Mikaela possibly… but Sire… listen…
*Listen!!!* his heart… the babies’ pulses… Sire please!
Spike turned to the audience in full game face and growled, “Get. Them. Here. NOW.”
Moments later a call had been made and Xander roused as a little trickle of Spike’s blood hit his lips. A flash marked Daniel and Mikaela’s arrival. While still lucent, Xander begged Spike for the lives of their children, then gave in with the effort and drifted off again. The brunette’s breathing was now shallow to the point of almost imperceptible. His hands and feet were icy cold and lips slowly turning blue.
Daniel quickly assessed the patient while Mikaela placed calm hands on Xander, lending her own life force to ease the distress and ‘buy them some time’.
Less than three minutes later, the tall male witch, the distressed friend, pulled Spike aside. “We can’t help, Spike…” The vampire just stood motionless in shock.
Daniel grabbed his hands and forced the vampire to look at him. “William!!!! *PLEASE* We need permission to take the babies… Now! We can save them but it must be now!.... But um… Alex…
Xander… Oh dear heart… You… You must know” Daniel swallowed hard as Spike’s tears began to flow in earnest and he gave a single resigned nod.
Daniel’s tone dropped, the quiet, emotionally charged baritone eventually came forth, “You need to decide if you turn him… or let him go… It seems the Initiative never intended for their subjects to survive… but only you can…. Oh God… Spike… I don’t know what to…. We can get Willow!.. and… perhaps… Oh God…”
Tears streaming down his face, Spike finally answered in a near monotone. “Save the children… and *bloody-well* get the White Witch here pronto.”
After The Fall: 23