The three rather exhausted vampires returned, some two and a half hours later, to find all the inhabitants of the house asleep. Instead the lovely Jon found himself the recipient of a firm hug and gave a rumbling purr before saying, “I have much to learn big brother… Hope you can be patient.” The older of the pair then disappeared to find his lovely partner.
Ten minutes later, Jon had tucked himself in beside his extraordinary Eddie and three gorgeous children…. Conceding that sometimes … even for an unsouled vampire….unlife was… good.
As Jon moved inside, Spike turned to look at his mate. The youngest vampire appeared too ‘buzzed’ for sleep just yet, so Spike pulled Xander down and they sat on the steps of the back porch hand in hand and silent for a time… just … slowing down.
Spike remembered the buzz… the fledgling energy… the amazing feeling of a new preternatural body. What Xander would never know however, was the cruelty of the Aurelian training, the savage whippings and vicious learning experiences that came with being a member of the Scourge of Europe’s household.
As they sat quietly, Spike wondered who Jon’s original sire had been. His adopted Childe was obviously mild mannered and kind to a fault. The dear vampire would not have survived in traditional vampire society. Happily that was not where they were, or who they were any more… so it was all… good… And both Xander and Spike’s acute hearing heard the cooing of three little children as their ‘father’ snuggled into the Parsalas nest.
They sat. It was easy and relaxed, and they both let feelings flow freely through the open link. Words were redundant.
In the process of his shift to vampire, Xander’s hormones had restored to his pre-pregnancy levels. Though he had been sporting tiny breasts prior to the babies’ delivery, there were none now. He hadn’t brought it up, but as they sat quietly and he slowly leaned against his Sire, Spike began to rub over the still, smooth chest. Spike noted that the turned physique of his partner was that of his Initiative ‘default’: virtually hairless, slim and a little ‘softer’ than the average male. And as they sat, Spike smelt the tears.
“What’s up luv?”
“I miss them moving… I know it sounds odd… but I miss them moving inside… it… um…” Another crimson tear fell. Apparently the run could not assuage all the worries. “It feels like I’ve lost them…”
“Oh you daft bugger. Come here.” Spike hauled his Childe into his lap and tore open his shirt, slashing flesh in the process to let his Mate feed again.
As Xander took the offering, Spike felt it. It was not just the loss of the babies inside that was bothering his partner. Spike felt genuine grief flowing through the link.
Xander had put up with his extra ‘bits’ for so many months, and when he was pregnant, they had a purpose, but now…. now when they were most needed, they had disappeared over the three days of his rising.
And now their babies had to be fed with bottles. And Xander had, not so strangely, been looking forward to feeding his babies… but now had to settle for bottles. Spike continued to feel ‘Failure’ and ‘Shame’ through the link so sent unadulterated adoration back in return. Eventually Xander calmed.
“It really doesn’t matter to you?”
“’Course not luv! ’S what the wet nurse was for in my day pet!” Xander gave a teary smile gasped “Ohhh”, then simply buried his full game face in his Sire’s neck and held on. There was no biting, simply comfort.
A rather red eyed Xander and tired Spike eventually relieved Willow of her vigil (and attempting to sleep in the tortuous ‘comfy chair’), and deposited the two tiny sleeping persons between them as they took to their big bed. The children would no doubt wake to feed in an hour or so… but that was an hour of hugging and rest to be had for the parents.
With the artificially warmed bed and their fathers’ bodies surrounding them, the tiny Elsbeth and Christopher slept on. Their fathers gratefully joined them in slumber.
The beep from an old army pickup rang out from the front yard. It was not a vehicle they knew so had Eddie scurrying from the market garden to the rear of the barn. Three small people who had been ‘helping to dig’ and initially protested, were tugged forcibly to shelter by their panicked parent. The three children picked up on Eddie’s distress and immediately moved with their parents as fast as their tiny legs could carry them.
The three blue children were silent as they swiftly pushed through the barn’s rear hay trap. The tiny Willow, Sam and Jess cooed with relief as their rather ‘smokey’ Papa (Jon) joined them after sprinting the length of kthe sunlit yard under the protection of a heavy tarp.
His partner whispered, “Not sure Ed… Just…” Desperate looks were exchanged as Jon took two of his lovely little ones into a warm hug, and the family moved further back in their planned emergency hiding place, deep toward the rear of what they knew to be last year’s hay bales.
The children were given bottles of cool chamomile tea, stowed for just such a purpose, and relaxed as their parents settled into the small space. The little ones had ‘practiced’ this a few times and knew that this place had to be for ‘quiet games’. It was late afternoon so in preference to play, the three tucked themselves in between the two larger bodies. All three tiny figures were spooned together, with Jess in the middle as was their habit, and took an early nap. In contrast the two adults held on tight to each other, wakeful and fearful. Jon listened, and Eddie worried.
Xander and Spike had been equally ‘caught’, though their escape was a little easier as the loose floorboards were lifted, Spike dropped into the cellar underneath and tiny people were passed down.
Daniel, Mikaela and Willow were still inside the house, but retreated to a couple of bedrooms as Sam answered the door.
Two rather buxom women, and a very thin man were lined up to greet him, as Sam pushed aside the fly wire screen.
The woman in the dark blue twin set, spoke first. “Good afternoon. We were just wondering if you’ve found Jesus.”
In his best southern accent Sam answered, “Oh dear lady, um, I’m sure he’s found *me* on occasion, though I do confess… as my Momma would put it, it jes don’t seem polite to discuss a fella’s religion with a bunch of strangers before ya break bread together! So…. Far be it from me ta be un neighborly… might I interest ya’ll in a cup of milky tea and one of my home made treacle cookies?”
The ‘speaker’ was quietly pleased. Their new neighbor was obviously a private man, but also polite, and though a ‘southerner’, seemed welcoming and friendly, unlike others that had previously resided on the property. All the treacle cookies were eaten, and Mavis had a fine time, though her friend (Enid? Sam did wonder later!) and the lad James… (or was it John?) barely said two words.
As the ex-army truck bounced back down the road, Mavis was exuberant. “Now see how easy it is to make contact?! He may not be in our church yet… but I can just feel it… he’s a prayerful man… and he has a sense of family… so let us all bless this place and the brother within.”
Sam wondered at their real agenda, and hoped that their report to the Initiative which he was sure they would make, (given the discussion of the ‘helping to eliminate the aberrations of nature’) was a positive one.
Sam had barely been able to take a breath before another beep announced a second set of visitors, this time in an ancient pickup much like his own beloved vehicle they had had to leave in Alabama. Two brethren and three sisters from the local Coven arrived together. The ‘visit’ from the local church was somewhat unexpected, but the rag tag bunch ensconced in an old pickup, were all the more unusual!
As they were invited in, however, it was Willow who felt their presence and the High Mistress stepped into the kitchen with Daniel and Mikaela flanking her. To Samuel’s amazement the newcomers all fell to their knees, heads bowed.
“Beloved Mistress Willow?! We had no idea?! We are honored! … And a Master … and a Healer… oh goddess we have not come prepared… We… we have no gifts!!! We are honored…. Honored…!!”
The High Mistress had not been given her title lightly. The most powerful ‘white witch’ on the planet, Sam watched as she pulled herself proudly to her ‘proper height’ before addressing the group. To be truthful, she had suspected that this would happen, after her ensoulment of Xander and the mating of the two ensouled vampires… But it was ‘of the good’. She, Daniel and Mikaela needed to be there to meet and support the local group. They had precious additions to their community and ones that would require protection.
Willow addressed the group at her feet, “Then please honor your role and bear with us, as we gather the esteemed members of this household. All deserve the protection of the covens, and none warranted the torture they have borne…”
Mikaela coaxed the two vampires and their newborns from their hiding place. Spike emerging with a babe in arms and his lovely Childe and now Mate, Xander behind him similarly encumbered. Eddie and Jon followed Daniel inside, the wiccan leading three beautiful little people, hand in hand, into the room under the cover of the full tarpaulin.
Sam who was normally utterly shy, held the floor for a moment, emboldened by the fact that he was still rather rattled by their previous visitors. His address was most formal. “I present to you the members of my family, *our* family. Use and abuse has been their experience, but all have only ever responded with loyalty to each other and honor for their fellow beings.
“Dear brothers and sisters you simply must do your best for them. If you are here to help us then that is good. If you are here out of curiosity alone then let it be satisfied. If you are here for other reasons then may you leave us be. We will not report your visit and we hope you will be sparing with reports of our coming. There is dire risk to the children if we are found!”
Xander hugged the tiny Christopher to his chest and noted that Eddie and Jon were already kneeling with their backs to the guest and their three pulled close in to the family unit. He was reminded of disturbing images of women in war zones desperately, futilely, trying to shield their children from bullets, using their own bodies. Thankfully, in this room, at this time… the shield was not really needed.
It was the youngest witch who spoke, “We mean you *no harm*. No harm! Oh…High Mistress!” She touched her forehead to her hands, “Esteemed Master Samuel...” she repeated the act in his direction, but seemed quite overwhelmed.
Their older compatriot continued, “We come *only* as fellow magical creatures…. there was such activity in the fabric here… We were so hopeful… We only came to… see…!! Please… we mean no harm! And to learn that you, High Mistress… that you have graced us with your presence… Oh … *such* an honor! And to have two of the most powerful of inner court… Master… Mistress … we never could have hoped… thank you …” Willow grasped her fellow wiccans by the hand and pulled them to their feet.
The dialogue in the following hours became increasingly more comfortable. Parents and children retired to bed and the witches chatted on. Tea was served, and by the time the local witches left, there were promises of protective wards and ongoing contact.
Willow was tired, Samuel exhausted, and Daniel and Mikaela just…. relieved. Willow went up to look for Xander. The witches would have to leave the following day and she had hoped to have time to talk. What she found was so profoundly moving that she decided to leave the discussion to the morning. Jon was spooning Eddie on one side of the bed and Spike held Xander in a similar position on the other. Between them were five little bodies in various positions, a tiny blue Willow with her arm protectively over her newborn cousins’ tummies. The family had been badly distressed. Their only comfort was each other. It should not be that way, but the world did not tolerate their kind at the moment…. She smiled sadly, and left them to sleep.
The following day, several vital decisions were made. Xander and Spike’s children would be registered. Elsbeth and Christopher were both human according to all the tests Daniel had run, though both were (it seemed) magically inclined, no doubt a legacy of Willow and Spike’s DNA. Their magical abilities would grow slowly, and with the kind help of their local coven, (and given their heritage) they would no doubt have a plethora of tutors.
One of the local wiccans was also a lawyer and most helpful. Willow filled in the papers submitting the records to indicate herself as the mother, relinquishing babies to her ‘estranged partner’s family’ and as grandfather of the two, Samuel, was specifically named guardian. Also in the documents was an indication that Samuel was to have exclusive custody as the mother was now ‘out of the country’.
The babies were formally named and their births registered. They were human. Eddie’s dear children were unable to have such a privilege, nor would any of the fathers… Nevertheless, Elsbeth and Christoper Maddren, were officially ‘on the planet’, and Samuel glowed with pride as he delivered the documents to the local magistrate’s office, the two babes sleeping in their car capsules. The magistrate’s secretary gushed and the ‘grandfather’ was congratulated as they sympathized with his plight as carer, several of the magistrate’s staff commenting on the state of American families when a elderly grandfather such as Samuel was left with tiny twins to care for.
As he returned home, the real parents gratefully relieved him of his burden and that evening a teary Willow, along with Daniel and Mikaela departed in a flash of light.
After The Fall: 26