Daniel and Mikaela had examined the whole family, simply reviewing their general health and well being. The reasoning was in case they did have to escape. Residual illnesses could cause very real problems and the wiccans were here to help. Both witches were impressed with the children and the robustness of their parents. All three vampires were required to show their real face in order to have their true senses tested and fangs examined.
Daniel still gasped as Xander changed. The young vampire bit his wrist while Daniel was not looking and leaned forward in full game face, begging the large witch to, “Please drink, the truth is in our blood.” Daniel felt oddly compelled to comply and it truly was magical. Love and acceptance and gratitude flowed easily with a single mouthful. The wiccan was stunned at the power of the message. Xander simply grinned, licked the wound, and stood to attend his children, but only after kissing the gentle witch’s forehead and whispering, “See?! I have a family thanks to you. Thanks to you…” He left Daniel teary eyed to be embraced by the lovely Mikaela..
The only medical worries were Robbie who had a dreadful case of athlete’s foot, and Sam whose visions were becoming ever more problematic. Mikaela was giving Robbie relief for the first time in years, while Daniel was tending to Samuel after the last round of visions when the call to ‘come home’ came. They quickly decided to take Sam with them as they had previously. Missy pushed herself against her aging master. There was no question, she would go too.
This time as they prepared to leave, Sam was semi comatose, but all the little people still came to kiss Grampa Sam farewell and hug his loyal canine before they went on their ‘holiday’. The farewell with the adults was less easy, tearful hugs were distributed as neither visitors nor residents were sure of seeing each other again. Farewells were said as if meeting again was not a possibility and tears flowed liberally, and the children were… very quiet. Elsbeth reached out from Spike insisting on one last hug from Grampa Sam.
She clung to their lovely benefactor until Xander was forced to pry the little girl from their lovely surrogate uncle/father, Elsbeth’s wails of despair at being removed from the familiar arms expressed the fear and loss they all felt for a very different reason. She continued to reach desperately for Grampa Sam crying “Maam” as he disappeared with Daniel, Mikaela and Missy in a flash of light.
Her distress was so extreme that without thought Xander sliced his own wrist and let his tiny daughter enjoy a new liquid in her diet. She latched on and fell quiet. Elsbeth settled quickly afterwards but the adults had no such luxury and Eddie’s three sobbed again quietly as they were taken to bed.
There was no question of sleeping alone as Jon and Eddie disappearing with their crew early. Spike looked at the distressed Robbie and simply took his hand as Xander carried their two up to their suite.
“’S why we bought a king size mate… No one should be alone tonight.”
Robbie looked shocked, “I can’t sleep in your family bed!”
“Course you can… but if it’s all too much, and given Xan’s record for kicking off the blankets…” It was said loud enough for Xander to hear as he ascended the stairs. Spike knew he could get a rise and lighten the mood … it worked.
Xander paused for a moment on the landing and interjected, “Hey Mr Steals-the-covers! I’d love to have a chance to sleep without a draft aft by midnight!”
Spike grinned at Robbie, noticed his confusion and dropped all pretence, “Listen mate, it’s fine.. we’ve got a trundle bed up there if you’re inclined… just don’t want ya ta feel you’ve gotta sleep solo is all.”
Robbie looked truly grateful, squeezed the hand he still held and simply answered, “That would be nice… Thanks.” then followed Spike up the stairs.
The food stashes, friendly contacts through the coven and supply lines were attended to with a sense of urgency the following day. Spike, John and Robbie all worked on enlarging their cave so there would room for all of them. The imperative was not without cause.
On the second day after the wiccans returned to the coven, word came the attacks would occur in the next three days. Advice was to find safe haven, aware of the unknown nature of Gaia’s wrath and the consequences of Dawn’s intervention nor was there really any indication of how long it was to be for. The family was unsure of how to treat the warning. Their area of the world was susceptible to the instability of the volcanic nature of the North West region. If they were underground when an earthquake occurred, the chances of being buried alive were high. The decision was made to move to the cave in the next two days. They let their neighbors know.
Time was spent packing to leave on the following day. It was taking far too long.
Jesse was inconsolable, the children had been told they were going for a few days and could only take *one* favorite toy and their own ‘bunny rug’, but it was evident that she couldn’t decide. She threw a full blown temper fit, before sitting on the floor amongst all her favorite things sobbing. It wasn’t a normal temper tantrum… they all knew that. The tension in the house had been high for days.
Each of Eddie and Jon’s brood had a purpose made tiny backpack (courtesy of an ancient Singer sewing machine) specifically designed only to take their favorite things and one change of clothes and a toothbrush.
Already on the verge of tears with sleepless nights and worry, Eddie was eventually rescued by the lovely Robbie, who sat down calmly with all three young Parsalas demons and explained that they “had to be responsible and carry their own things” and that it was “only while we’re all on holidays”, so their other toys would be here for after. Eddie listened to the speech, before turning and burying himself in Jon’s embrace. They left the room so the little blue demon could have some ‘down time’. Jon couldn’t help but sympathize, he too was exhausted and fearing the worst. It should have all been over… and now everything was unknown… again!
Eventually Robbie had convinced Jesse to choose just two tiny toys. She determinedly stuffed them into her little bag, the tiny realistic sleeping tiger cub who “purred like Da” when squeezed, and a soft little dog that she had named ‘Missy’ (the color was right, the ‘pedigree’ questionable) were the privileged two.
The other two children had opted for bigger, single, soft animals. Robbie busied himself rolling each person’s little ‘bunny rug’ up tight and pushed it into their bags, making some extra room for a change of clothes, toothbrushes, some underwear, and a tiny bag of sweets each that he had ‘smuggled in’. He took particular care to have the faces of their treasured toys poking out of each little backpack, “So they can see where we’ve been when we’re walking.”
Robbie had also promised the children that he would carry two special books for night time stories and they could decided which. He grinned as the three solemnly handed him their choices then supervised in his own packing with great seriousness and attempted to assist. The children had, at least at some level, inherited their parents’ sense of helping others, and Little Willow generously offered to carry his “toofbrushes”, while Sam sat on the floor and rolled Robbie’s relatively enormous boxer shorts ready for packing. Robbie had no doubt that they knew, at least at an intuitive level, what was going on.
Eddie worked so hard in the garden on their last day that he fell asleep at the dinner table. Jon looked apologetically at the other adults then carried his lovely partner to their bed and snuggled in alongside. The vampire woke at around midnight to sobbing and words of “Sorry… Oh I am so so…”
“Talk to me my love…”
“Oh Jon…” Eddie buried his face against his beautiful partner’s throat and cried like a small child. Jon simply held on tight.
As the blue demon calmed so Jon loosened his hold and ventured a query, “Can I help?”
It brought on another flood of tears, leaving Jon at quite a loss. “Have I done something? Please Ed… you know I’m no good at guessing… just tell me…”
“I… Oh Gahh… [hic] .. I wan…nted our last nigh…ght to b be spe…cial an..nd [huge breath] I sl..eeping… and…[hic] I’ve-ruined-everything-and-if-it’s-the-end-then…. Oh Jon!!! Love you… Jus…st …”
“Ya old duffer! C’mon…” Jon lifted the pretty blue face and kissed him soundly. “Wouldn’t matter if it was ten minutes or five hours now would it! Let’s just make a lovely memory right now… are you up to it?”
Eddie melted into his partners arms and they consummated their love one more time in the familial bed. Neither dared guess if they would be back soon, or ever.
Xander lay between Spike’s legs as he leaned against the head board of their bed. The children were beside them and Robbie on the trundle bed, snoring a little. They were listening to their favorite music being played quietly as they looked through photo albums before burying them in a large plastic bag at the top corner of the top paddock (along with personal papers referring to anything to do with the extended family) for fear the Initiative might ‘sweep’ the house. The memory sticks from Sam’s old digital camera’s held the images anyway. If they could not come back, at least they would have that.
They had word around midnight. The raids were due to start in two days’ time in Oregon. They had already begun in other areas. Gaia was true to her word and the earth had begun to get angry. Tornadoes wiped out two facilities in Oklahoma and Georgia, while earthquakes had knocked out the three Californian facilities one in Turkey and one in Pakistan. There were reports of bad weather on the way and remembering the previous freeze they all agreed to leave the next evening. They had still to hear from Willow regards Dawn and just how the ‘protection’ was to work.
Xander rose a couple of hours later having not really slept, and began frantically cleaning everything. Spike saw to the children before packing food parcels to carry as much as he could to their cave home before the sun came up, and worried about their food and water supplies.
He was wondering about the wisdom of them running given the weather/earthquake when the D’Azpura’s all arrived on their doorstep… By foot. They had been sent an urgent message by a member of the resistance near the local coven headquarters. It killed all doubt It had been one pm when they got the news, two of the local witches had been taken for questioning that evening, and it seemed these were not the usual Oregon troops, but specialty Initiative operatives that had come up from the southern states to ‘help out’ their seemingly ineffectual northern colleagues. The sweeps were targeting all the previously suspected individuals and properties in the state, no exceptions.
Their four lovely neighbors took more supplies with them but departed immediately through the tunnels, heading for the cave hideout.
Spike burned three CD’s of computer data, then reformatted the hard drive. Similarly all messages on the home phone were checked, by and large they were blank or wishing Sam a ‘Happy holiday’ which fitted with the story that he had simply taken the children away for a break in another state, they left them. The ‘last call’ out was to the internet provider, so no real problem.
They fed the animals, releasing those they could and leaving enough grain behind to sustain them all for a time at least. They also left the barn open to the home paddock, hoping that at least the larger animals would find their way inside in a storm. The chickens and ducks were left in their free range pen. At least they were safe from foxes or other smaller predators that way.
By six, the children were all snuggly dress and being fed for the last time before everything was packed away, the house neat and tidy as though left naturally. By seven there was a cheery note on the door regarding ‘Sam’s’ woodwork, and the fact that he was on holiday for a month inviting any visitors to please call again. By seven thirty they were in the tunnel. And by midnight the Initiative had come to pay another visit.
The progress had been slow through the tunnels as little people and a larger amount of extras were carted through with them, but it did not matter. At least this way they would be well away from the house before anyone would see footfalls. If they had dogs there might be more of a problem.
Eddie and Spike were the smallest of the adults so carried the twins in a front sling custom made, though Eddie only had to bend a few times. The other children were stoic about their escape but an hour later, only half way up the steep hill Sam II whimpered a little as his foot slipped on a rock. Xander realized that despite the moonlight, the children would still be having a struggle seeing their path so simply picked up the youngster and slung him onto the top of his own pack. Sam held on tight to his Uncle’s ears, eventually sitting a little straighter and opting for a hair grip (Xander now appreciating the niceties of a bridle as the little fists tugged at his long locks). Jon consequently picked up Willow, and Robbie took Jess in similar fashion.
Once the family was settled the three vampires and Robbie pushed several larger rocks in to place at the entrance of the cave.
There were four main chambers – albeit small but sufficient. The rear three would be used for sleeping and the rather larger one housing the ‘family’ area (complete with shower curtain and camp toilet at the rear. The two resident tunnelers had busied themselves making a very deep hole just a little way from the entrance (now covered with a log) which would act as their waste disposal.
The children settled quickly, the bedding had been laid down some week or two previously. The exhausting walk, a warm drink, and the familiar smells of their favorite blankets and toys all helped. And for the older two girls wrapped in the warmth of their sleeping bags, it was having their parents there this time that made all the difference.
They heard the soldiers arrive, this time by helicopter and soon after a standard troop carrier. The smashing of a window left no doubt as to their intent were anyone to be found inside.
The three vampires strained to hear what was said.
“Sir, no one is present Sir.”
“Then you know what to do Lieutenant! Evidence, these idiots around here reckon this guy is clean?! F@#$ing Governor is an idiot that’s fairly clear… one sweep in three years … pffft ridiculous! Guy living here has a file two inches thick! ‘Never charged’ *BS* Probably paid some poor bastard to do his records… Find everything… anything! We’ll get this guy when he comes back … but let’s make the case water tight.” The crunch of heavy boots in their driveway confirmed movement and crash from inside the house made Eddie flinch a little.
Spike fell into game face when he heard it.
They all waited tense and quiet. There were dogs. Fifteen minutes later more crunching of boots.
“Right what have we got Lieutenant?”
“Ahhh Still very little Sir. The computer is clean and messages are all legit. Last dialed number was the Net but the history has been cleared. Old man was probably just looking up porn and figured he’d better..”
“That’s enough speculation soldier! Papers? Photographs?”
“Couple with his two kids sir. Medical records show in and out of hospitals ‘til the last year or so. Seems he took in the kids from some girl from England who got herself knocked up out here on holidays.”
“All well and good, but give me some evidence.”
“That’s the thing Sir there is none! The dogs have found other scents around but they could have been from neighbors or friends!”
“This ‘man’ has been investigated three times that I know of… the whole children thing is very odd. Send the dogs on a sweep of the property, we’ll find his little secret.”
Two bloodhounds and two Alsatians were set free to sniff through the house. They were then set out to mark out increasing circles until finally one of the bloodhounds took off up the hill.
“Sir! I think we have something, Sir!” The families cowered to the back of the three caves as far as they could from the entrance. Despite the rocks in the way they knew the dogs would find them now they were this close.
Xander and Spike held hands and Spike did something he had never done before, he called for Dawn through the magical link. Chanting in Latin, he called for her and kept calling. Xander and Jon both picked up on the words, as did the others.
They were trapped, there was no harm in trying.
They could hear the dogs approaching and the handlers’ heavy breathing and various complaints as the men followed their charges up the hill…
Xander watched in horror as a sharp nose pressed through the tiny opening at the base of one of the entrance rocks. Frantic digging ensued, and moments later the rock began to be shifted aside.
They were sure they were doomed. The couples all held hands and Spike grabbed Robbie’s at the last moment. “Guess this’s it then, pet.”
The rock rolled aside at the same moment a blinding green flash enveloped the cave.
The flashlight scanned the cave, pointing straight at them, yet the soldier reported, “Nothing here Sir. Probably just chasing a fox. Sorry sir.”
After The Fall: 31