Four months later, Eddie’s children were the equivalent of three year old humans, yet only around two. They were articulate, mobile… and intelligent… finger painting and had a fascination for tipping water over things. (All good until the dear ducklings were summarily doused! Eddie thankful it had not been the weenie rabbits in their hutch… There were stern discussions.)
The night of the Initiative ‘inspection’ they had been ‘sent word’. The governor of their state had been informed that Oregon was rather ‘remiss’ when it came to the sweep for hostiles and sympathizers. The local Magistrate vouched for Samuel and the children when asked. All the paperwork ‘was in order’ but their neighbors were under suspicion and the Initiative’s instruments were becoming more sophisticated when it came to ‘hostiles’.
Xander and Spike were utterly panicked as they had been forced to leave their little darlings in the house with Samuel. The children were registered and therefore needed to be present… and they had originally done it to protect them… but now…
Spike was carrying Jess and little Sam up the hill and Jon had his partner, vampiric speed was of the essence. Xander carried the tiny Willow, who seemed remarkably calm given that they were sprinting through a forested area to a hiding place the neighbors had identified and the wiccans warded. The ‘cave’ was realistically just a hollow under a very large old tree, but it sufficed. It was unlikely to be found and was dry and comfortable. The neighbors’ two girls were there already. Margaret and Brenda were visibly frightened, huddled at the back of the small space fearful and holding each other.
Both had tears streaking down their faces but calmed as Eddie moved forward to wipe their eyes, then passed his children to share the back of the shelter.
The girls had been forced to leave by their parents. They had never had an inspection before and it was easier for the girls to ‘be on a sleepover’ if there was to be trouble. The girls appreciated the presence of their favorite little neighbors and quickly pulled the three into their hiding space
As soon as they were settled, however, it was Eddie who comforted Xander and Jon hugged his Sire… They trusted Sam with their lives … but their twins had to be left behind. Eddie held the lovely three month old vampire as he sobbed.
“I wouldn’t leave them… I … I …. Never would … but we… OH God… Eddie… what… [hic] what if something happens!! And we’ve just ‘run’… what if??....” Spike was in full game face standing at the entrance to their hiding place. He knew that he could make it down the hill in under a minute, needs be, and knew that Jon and family were out of range of the Initiative detectors… Soul or none he would happily kill all of the Initiative group if they tried to take Sam or the children.
Eddie’s three little ones didn’t know why their younger cousins had had to stay behind, but were old enough to know it was to do with Grandpa Sam and ‘The Rules’. They explained to the girls what had to be done, and all watched on wide eyed as Xander joined Spike at the door where they grimly exchanged blood. Jon kissed Eddie passionately then went to stand with his Sire. If trouble broke out, he would be the one to look after the girls and his family. He worried for the babies and Sam.
All became silent as the three vampires listened intently. Even from this distance they could make out some of the conversation.
“Nothing to worry about Mr…. ahhhh…” The young soldier checked his papers, “Maddren, just a standard inspection.” Yet there was nothing standard about it.
Sam’s ‘guest rooms’ were inspected, and his reason for such a big house queried. One individual contacted the local magistrate to confirm the registration of the babies and their origin, while the senior officer questioned everything he could regards Sam’s background history. They had come prepared, tracking down titles and establishing parentage was all important. Sam’s medical condition had been reported as part of the legal paperwork for the babies, and confirmation that he was known to host some of the unfortunates from the mental institution back in Alabama was given via phone. The local pastor of Sam’s old home town was called.
Tipped out of bed at close to midnight to take a call from the military, who were apparently *still* harassing their ex neighbor Sam, he gave them ‘a piece of his mind’. The young private returned to his superior officer looking somewhat brow beaten and gave his report.
“Sir, if I may?”
The senior officer stepped aside, leaving Sam to feed the two now distraught tiny children.
“Sir, it seems he’s legit… real do gooder… according to the paperwork the kids are probably the progeny of one of his former ‘borders’ Sir. Pastor wasn’t surprised, in fact said the Local Mayor would even be happy to vouch for this guy!
“Sir, with all due respect, the sweeps have investigated this guy three times and it is always a big nothing… And the last time was apparently just some disgruntled neighbor who called in half the folks in the county… And Sir? Our men were a little heavy handed with some local ladies at the same time. There really was a *lot* of bad publicity.
“The full investigation cleared *everyone* in that community, but apparently this guy was a bit freaked by the whole deal and moved. Sir, may I recommend that we use the findings from Alabama to back ours and move on.”
Nicholas and Patricia, their neighbors, also passed the muster, but only while they were held in separate rooms of their own house for questioning while Nic’s business was ‘raided’. Several of his business associates were harassed late at night, something that did not go unreported by the local press and had the governor’s ‘think tank’ reconsidering the wisdom of the ‘step up’ in Initiative activity. He relied on the electoral ‘clout’ of that area and if the ‘professional people’ felt targeted then he had a problem.
The D’Azpuras were both badly shaken by the Initiative experience but immensely grateful that their girls had been with company, and the plans to ‘take them with’ should anything have come of the nasty night.
It was nearly four in the morning before the family was game to return home, and fortunately it was Saturday the following day. Sam handed over his two sleeping charges to their fathers then made milky hot chocolate for all. Patricia had not seen the babies in the three months since their arrival, and though thrilled by their arrival, was also deeply saddened at Xander’s ‘revised status’. She, like the wiccans, had felt the jolt through the magical fabric and wondered. Their dear stressed neighbor was intrigued as her girls announced Xander’s ensouled status, and smiled for the first time when she learned of the Mated status of the two fathers.
Eventually the visitors left and the children all settled. Jon held his partner until the small demon slept then joined his Sire and Xander on the back porch. Spike was smoking and staring at the stars. Xander lay in the hammock simply waiting while his mate calmed a little.
Jon sat leaning against one of the veranda posts for a time. He was lost in thought as they all were. It was Xander who broke the silence.
“Thanks for tonight… It meant a lot for the girls.”
“Children should be with family… should feel safe…”
Xander saw the loyal father, but also felt the sadness as the other vampire added, “So should Childer.”
Xander quietly inquired, “You don’t?”
“I do …. Now that there is Sire… and you, little brother… and of course there’s my family now… but…”
“Do remember who Sired you?... What was he like?”
Jon looked rather wistful, even Spike had not questioned him regards his heritage… “Fellow called Lawson. He was never cruel… seemed like he just wanted a friend really. We met in a bar toward the end of the nineties. And yes before you ask little brother, I ‘batted for the other team always’ as Sire would say. Lawson had been a naval officer… submarine engineer during World War II. They captured a U-boat carrying some vampires being carried by the Germans and got into a load of trouble.”
“So one of them…?”
“No Americans sent a vamp down to fight them… guy named Angel.”
Xander’s eyes went wide and Spike almost inhaled his cigarette.
Jon trailed off, “I figure he really should have been given a medal… was already dying but got turned and saved the whole vessel.” Then Xander saw a tear… “He said he’d only be gone a day or two. He’d found his Sire at last… went to seek him out … He never came back. I felt him pass… oh yeah… I felt that…” The scent of salt and demeanor gave away the upset. “Eddie doesn’t know… he doesn’t need to know… Spike’s my Sire now … Eddie shouldn’t worry.”
Spike was listening intently and as the details emerged he knew. Wondered how much he should tell, then decided the whole truth was for the best.
He stepped forward to embrace the now rather upset vampire, and made the address a formal one. Xander stood gob-smacked by the words, “Dear Childe, your grandsire… is my grandsire (indeed my Sire in truth, as he was the one who trained and fed me). Angelus, Master Vampire of Aurelius.
“I too was on that boat with your Sire… and… so… though more than a hundred years apart we are indeed all of the same line… You are one of the line of Aurelius… Your blood tasted… familiar… and so should mine to you…” Spike’s voice dropped low as he whispered into his brethren’s ear before kissing him soundly, “You are with family, I did not know and I am utterly honored… We three are the last of our line as far as I know… and we are all together!”
For Jon it was some sort of completion. He held on and took the proffered wrist from his Sire. Now he truly knew why it had always tasted like family.
It was close to six when the birds announced the coming of the sun. They all retreated, the two newest fathers fed and changed their charges and the household slept.
It was late the following Wednesday that there was a desperate cry from the garden. Eddie’s children were rarely upset, but when two tiny people came running to the house and hearing the inconsolable cries of a third, the three vampires again felt the frustration of their status, Xander more so as the ‘sun free’ aspect of his existence was still problematic (as it was with most fledges, Spike was quick to point out… it didn’t help). It was again up to Sam to rush to Eddie and Sam II’s aid, as the tarpaulin was still in the shed.
It was a simple accident. Eddie had had his back turned and the children were (as usual) playing in the market garden with him as he planted lettuce for the coming season and tended to some early peas. Little Sam (despite being warned) had decided to climb the paling fence, toppling just as he settled to a sitting position and cheered for himself (hands free) on the highest paling. Luckily he had fallen forward into the garden beds rather than back into the untended paddock. Sadly he had connected with the raised edging as he fell and had a nasty gash on his forehead.
The survivors of the Hellmouth were used to patching injuries and with a couple of butterfly strips a good deal of his father’s healing saliva and a handful of jelly beans… all was well. Sam II was rather more cautious around fences for some months following the incident however.
As the children grew, Xander began to create again… though Spike worried as his partner as he began to work regularly with wood. To distract himself while his partner played with the product that might cause his own demise, Spike enlisted Jon. Once the babies were ‘abed’ and they had tended to their usual chores, they busied themselves digging an escape tunnel and building concealed spaces for future possible Initiative visits.
By month five Xander’s twins were reaching for things and smiling with genuine recognition whenever any of the family approached, and Xander had made his first table, without personal ‘wood damage’.
They sold it on Ebay.
After The Fall: 27