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No! But? Bollocks!


by
Margie



  2   3   4   5   6   7




Part One ~ A Routine Patrol

They were making a final circuit when a cry pierced the silence. At first, Xander wasn't sure what direction the sound was coming from, but when Spike broke into a run he followed without question. They barreled through the cemetery, jumping the waist high, ivy covered wall without breaking stride, and came upon a gruesome sight.

Before he could stop himself Xander was bent over and heaving, the contents of his stomach roiling and pitching until they were freed. In a nauseous haze he heard his mate roar and enter the fray. Unwilling to let Spike fight without backup, Xander pulled himself together and moved forward, his right hand bringing up the axe he habitually hefted.

He tried not to look at the remains, tried not to hear the cries from the huddled mass to his left. They were safe enough for now, the car doors once again shut tight, the locks engaged. Although he made sure to station himself close enough to the automobile to render assistance if necessary.

Xander hovered anxiously on the sides watching for any break in the fight. Any help his lover might need. There were two demons circling Spike. They were of a kind Xander didn't recognize; large, red, and glistening with some type of ichor that coated their skins, but no horns, or tails, or other otherworldly appendages. But their eyes were completely black, all pupil, and their faces were elongated, as if someone had pinched the tops of their heads and then pulled their chins down as far as they could go.

"Don't let them touch you, luv!" Spike shouted a warning. "That slime's like acid. It'll burn right through you."

Xander made an 'ewww' face but nodded. "Be careful!" Xander held his breath as he watched Spike dance around the demons, his long black duster flapping behind him.

Then suddenly one of the demons charged straight at Spike, the other came from the left. Xander knew Spike couldn't escape both demon attacks at once, so he made his own move. Rushing forward, he came from the demon's blind side. His axe high, he let it slice through the air, the demon's own momentum eased the blade's entry and Xander was splattered with black ooze as the demon's head fell to the ground.

Ignoring the dripping fluid, Xander glanced up quickly to see Spike kick the other demon in the face. The monster fell backwards, but quickly came back up on his knees. Unfortunately for him, Spike had already maneuvered himself behind the unlucky demon, his arms encircling the impossibly shaped head and twisting. Xander heard the snap as its neck broke, and he watched with satisfaction as Spike dropped the demon back to the ground.

It was only then that the cries from the car broke through his battle haze. Spike was by his side before Xander could stand and make his way back toward the vehicle. "Are you okay, luv? Did you get any of the red ichor on you?" Spike was checking his mate for injuries as he spoke.

"Nah. Just blood, I think. It's blood right? Tell me it's blood," Xander babbled, not wanting to think about what else the black, viscous fluid could be.

"Yeah, luv. Just blood." Spike leaned down and gave Xander's mouth a quick kiss. "We'll get you cleaned up as soon as we get home."

"Ewww!" Xander tried to fend off Spike's kiss. "I just barfed all over the place." Xander gestured around them, though it was difficult to tell what was vomit and what was debris from the battle.

Spike let Xander push him away, but gave him a leering look. "Fine, but let's head home. Patrol's over and I'm horny."

Xander rolled his eyes at his husband. "You're always horny."

"So?"

"So, we have to go check on the people in the car." Xander headed over toward the old, beat-up Buick station wagon. He turned to find Spike pouting, but following him nonetheless. "They could be hurt, and they're probably scared."

"Yeah, all right. I'm followin' you ain't I?" Spike grumbled back, but he hastened his steps a bit.

Spike arrived at the car first, reaching out to grasp the door handle. Busting the lock as he pulled the handle up with a hard jerk, Spike peered inside. Before Xander could get close enough to check the occupants, Spike's expression tumbled from surprise to sadness to consternation, all within the space of a few seconds. "Bugger!"

"What's going - " Xander's sentence stuck in his throat when he looked into the interior of the car and saw two tiny bodies huddled together toward the other end of the bench seat. They were crying and sniffling, and Xander's heart immediately went out to them.

One of them was still in a car seat, the other had obviously unfastened their seat belts and pushed them as far away from the side the fight had occurred on as possible. The one in the seat couldn't have been much more than 2 years old, the older no more than 5, maybe 6. Xander felt tears well in his eyes as he realized that the remains he'd seen when they'd first arrived on the scene must have been those of their parents.

"Hey there." Xander slowly entered the car emitting soothing words and sounds the entire way. "Shhh…Everything's going to be all right. My name's Xander, and that's Spike. We'll take care of you. Shhhh." Xander now cradled the older child in his arms, rocking her gently back and forth. She was crying softly and asking for her momma, making Xander's tears fall even faster.

Slowly the girl began to drift into an exhausted sleep. When she'd finally succumbed, Xander lay her back down on the seat, checking on the boy in the car seat to make sure that he, too, had calmed enough to fall asleep. Slowly he climbed out of the car, making sure not to rock the vehicle and wake the children.

Spike was standing just a few feet away waiting for his lover to emerge. "Xan?"

"They're asleep. We have to take them to social services or something." Xander's voice was agitated and he paced the sidewalk. "What do we do? What do we tell them?"

"Shhh, luv." Spike came up beside him, his arms entrapping Xander's warm body, his voice soothing. "We'll figure it all out. But there is something you should know." Xander's head came up and his eyebrow quirked. "They're not human. Not entirely, anyway."

"What? How do you know? They look human."

"I know that, luv. But I can smell them, and the blood that was spilt earlier. Only one was human, the other - I'm not sure." Spike turned to look at the car, his expression one of quiet contemplation.

"That means…that means we can't take them to social services."

"No."

"What will they do? We can't just leave them here. We have to take them home. We'll take care of them."

"No!" Spike ran his hands up and down Xander's arms. "How can we, luv? We don't know anything about children. We don’t even know what species they are!"

"I promised we'd take care of them." Xander's voice was determined while he looked at Spike in entreaty. "They don't have anyone else."

"No!"

"But…" Xander's eyes widened as he focused tear filled chocolate orbs on his lover's face. His bottom lip came out in a quivering pout, and Spike was lost.

"Bollocks!"





Part Two ~ Home



They arrived home with very little fuss. Since they had walked to the cemetery for patrol Spike hopped into the driver's seat of the station wagon. There were no keys in evidence so Spike hot-wired the vehicle with ease, but not without grousing about having to drive such a nancy boy car. Xander just patted his arm affectionately and turned back to check on the kids.

They were both sleeping peacefully, not having woken while Xander had maneuvered them back into their safety belts. He sighed slightly, wondering how he was going to explain to the two innocents about their parents. Would they even understand that mom and dad weren't coming back?

When they reached the apartment, Xander indicated silently for Spike to grab the girl. In the meantime, Xander unfastened the car seat and carted the sleeping boy up the front steps. Looking behind to check on Spike, his heart gave a little flutter at the tender look Spike was giving the sleeping child. He smiled to himself, knowing that Spike didn't even realize that he was gently caressing the child's face as he carried her gingerly up the steps.

Once inside the apartment, they placed the two children on the bed. Xander made sure to surround them with pillows in case one or both of them decided to do a little over zealous rolling. Then they slowly backed out of the room, keeping the door slightly ajar so that they would hear if either child awoke prematurely.

They adjourned to the living room and collapsed on the sofa. Xander immediately snuggled close to Spike, sighing heavily when the cool arm went around his shoulders to hold him close. After a few moments of quiet contemplation, Xander broke the silence.

"We should call Wills and Tara."

Spike's brow quirked. "You think they'd take the bits?"

"No!" Xander pushed away from Spike to look up into his eyes. "I promised them that we'd take care of them, Spike!" His eyes were pleading for understanding.

"I know, luv," Spike assured Xander. "But don't you think it might be better for the chits to take them?"

"Why? You think Wills has anymore idea of how to take care of kids than we do?" Xander shook his head. "They already know us. It would just confuse them more to send them off with the girls."

"Okay then," Spike sighed resignedly. "So what do we need the witches for?"

"Well, besides the fact that I think they'd like to know that we're now dads," Xander stood, making his way over to the phone, "we need someone to watch the kids while we go out and buy supplies."

"Xan." Spike waited until his lover turned to face him, then he stood and walked toward the boy, his arms automatically surrounding the muscled torso. "Don't get too attached, yeah? They may have relatives, or summat." Spike nuzzled Xander's neck as he spoke, trying to lessen the reprimand in his voice. "Wouldn't exactly call us 'dads'."

"I know, Spike." Xander answered, although there was a small lump in his throat. He already felt responsible for the kids, and he wanted nothing more than to protect them from anything else that might come their way. "But I won't let them go unless they have someone to love and care for them. They can't go to social services, and I don't think they have a demon equivalent."

"'Course you wouldn't, luv." Spike acknowledged. "That's one of the reasons I love you." He placed a swift kiss on Xander's pulse point. "My very own white hat."

Xander smiled and nuzzled him back, breathing in Spike's unique scent. He let himself indulge in his lover for a moment before turning and heading towards the phone.

***

"Oh my gosh!" Willow whispered quietly as she looked in on the two new residents of Xander's household. "They're so sweet!"

Xander peeked around her shoulder to find that the two children were huddled together, their arms wrapped around one another. The youngest had one thumb in his mouth and suckled quietly, while the oldest had her arms flung over her brother in what looked like a protective gesture.

Tara smiled and nodded at Willow's exclamation, while Dawn tried to nudge her way in so that she could see as well. Finally they all left to congregate back in the living room.

"What are you gonna do with them?" Dawn asked as soon as they were outside of earshot of the children.

"We're going to keep them," Xander answered without hesitation.

"What? You can't keep them," Willow replied with surprise.

"Of course we can. They don't have anywhere else to go," Xander answered defensively. Spike came to stand beside him, lending support.

"Look, we're going to try to find some relatives," Spike assured the wicca. "But until then, they stay put." He wasn't oblivious to the tension his words caused Xander. He knew his love didn't want to part with the kids. He'd fallen in love with them practically the moment he'd set eyes on them.

Willow was still looking at them with concern, when the tiny voice called out tentatively, "X-xander?"

"Hey, sweetie," Xander answered softly as he scooped up the sleepy child. "What're you doing up already? Hungry?"

"No. Where's mommy?"

Xander had to clear the lump in his throat before answering. From the sorrowful looks the girls sported, he could tell he wasn't the only one affected. "She's…she's not here right now, honey." He sat down, pulling the girl into his lap. He cradled her there, keeping her warm in his embrace. "Can you tell me your name, sweetie?"

"Lonnie," she sniffled. "Where did mommy go? Is she with daddy?"

Xander bit back tears not wanting to alarm Lonnie. His throat constricted, making it impossible for him to speak. Spike came to his rescue, kneeling down next to them and placing his hand on Lonnie's back. "Yeah, she's with your daddy, little bit. They had to go 'way for awhile. Xan and I are gonna take care of you. Okay?"

Tears started to fall from Lonnie's eyes, "We're sniffle not 'opposed sniffle to go wif sniffle strangers!" she cried softly. "Mommy's gonna be mad when she comes for us."

"She won't be mad, sweet bit," Spike reassured her. Just then they heard a loud wail come from the bedroom.

"Dor's crying," Lonnie offered.

Spike strode quickly to the bedroom and returned with Dor in his arms. He comforted the boy with soft words and a gentle rocking motion.

Lonnie watched him carefully, relaxing when she saw that Dor was no longer crying. "So, we're gonna stay with you?" she asked, her sniffles receding.

"Yeah, does that sound okay?" Xander asked anxiously.

Lonnie looked around a bit, and Xander grew even more nervous. But before he could repeat his question, she turned her gaze back on him. "Okay. Do you have any ice cream?"

A burst of laughter escaped Xander's throat, as he hugged the girl to him. "Yeah. Yeah, we've got ice cream." He put the girl down and stood. "How about Aunt Willow gets you some, okay? Spike and I are just going to head to the store to get you some clothes and stuff."

When he looked down again, Lonnie's lips were quivering. "You're going away, too?" she asked, her voice a whisper.

Xander's heart wrenched in his chest. "No, honey!" He knelt down beside her, his hands coming up to rub up and down her arms. "We're only going to the store. We'll be right back." She looked at him with big, watery eyes. "I promise." He kissed her on the cheek to emphasize his sincerity. She nodded, but didn't say anything else.

Spike put Dor down, then directed Xander back into their bedroom. "Maybe we should take them with us, Spike?" Xander asked. "No, luv. We can't be with them every second. It'll be better if we leave them here. Once they see we'll come back, they won't be so afraid for us to leave every time."

Xander knew Spike was right, but he still felt horrible leaving the kids behind. If they didn't desperately need things like food, and diapers for Dor, he wouldn't have left at all. In the car, Spike leaned over and gave Xander a deep kiss. "Don't worry, Xan." He leaned in and suckled on the mark that graced Xander's neck, knowing that it would give his lover comfort. "They'll be fine." When they finally drove away, Spike was holding Xander's hand, while he leaned his head on the vampire's sturdy shoulder.





Part Three ~ Supplies and Nightmares



"I hate bloody Walmart!" Spike groused. "And how are we supposed to know what size to buy?" Spike muttered while they walked down the baby aisle together. There were several different sizes of diapers that came in several different quantities. How were they supposed to know what size the little bugger wore?

"Well, he looks like he's close to two, all the diapers are marked with ages. Probably this one will work." Xander offered a bag of diapers to Spike to put in the cart. "There wasn't any formula or bottles in the diaper bag, so he probably doesn't need them anymore. He might need some baby food though. Probably these ones will do." Xander grabbed a few bottles of food and threw them in the cart.

"Maybe we should buy a book on parenting?" Xander wondered aloud.

"I don't know, luv," Spike answered warily. "We may not have them that long." Spike really didn't want Xander getting hurt if they had to give the kids up, but he knew it was probably already too late for that.

"Spike!" Xander rounded on his husband. "Stop reminding me of that already! I know there's a chance they might have relatives, or somewhere else to go, but what if there isn't? Then they're ours! I don't need you to remind me every five seconds that we might be losing them!" Xander's face was hot with anger.

Spike stepped up and tried to wrap his arms around Xander, but the boy pulled away. Hurt, Spike replied quietly, "I'm sorry, Xan. I just don't want to see you get hurt, luv." Spike turned and grabbed the cart, pushing it down the aisle. "I won't mention it again, Xan. Let's just get the rest of the stuff so we can get back."

Xander felt like a heel. He hurried to catch up to the vamp, stopping his progress and sweeping him into his arms. "No, I'm sorry, Spike. I didn't mean to yell, I know you're just trying to protect me." He pulled away from Spike, pausing to place a swift kiss on his lips. "But I know what might happen. It doesn't stop me from caring about the kids. And believe me, you don't have to remind me that we might not get to keep them." The last was whispered in a rush of breath.

"Oh, luv." Spike returned the kiss with one of his own. "Let's not talk about it now, yeah? We'll worry about it if it happens."

Xander smiled up at his love, gratitude shining in his eyes. "Thanks, Spike," he said, before grabbing the cart himself and continuing their shopping trip.

***

"We're home!" Xander sing-songed as he unlocked the door. "Are the kids asleep?" he asked when he spied the girls sitting on the couch, watching an old movie.

"Geez! Did you guys buy the whole store?" Dawn sprang up to divest Xander of some bags. "What the heck did you get?"

"Just some supplies. You know diapers, food for Dor, food for Lonnie. Some clothes for them, an air mattress, some toys, some books, toothbrushes…you know. The essentials," Xander replied before going back for more bags.

Willow and Tara came over to help unpack the bags. "Essentials?" Willow questioned with a quirked brow as she pulled out the latest Spiderman comic book.

"Sure! Uhm...bed time stories." He grinned triumphantly, stopping briefly to give Spike a peck on the cheek as they passed each other.

Spike rolled his eyes indulgently. "Xanpet's right though. The kids will probably love those. Along with the thousand other things he bought them."

"Oh, like you didn't buy anything, mister!" Xander admonished while poking an accusing finger at his chest.

"Hey, I only bought them what they needed!" Spike answered.

"Oh, like Dor really needs a tiny Manchester United jersey!" Xander teased.

"Hey, the little bit needs clothes, don't he?" Spike answered, looking slightly embarrassed.

"And the little soccer ball you bought?"

"All bits need to work on hand eye coordination. That's just a tool," Spike answered smartly. "'And Lonnie can use it, too."

The girls just smiled at the interplay between the guys. After almost four years as a couple, they were used to it by now. Once all the groceries were put away, Dawn took the air mattress and inflated it in the spare bedroom. She made up the bed before re-entering the living room. "You sure you guys want to sleep on an air mattress?"

"It's just temporary, Dawn, until we buy the bunk beds. We don't want the kids having to sleep on the air mattress so they can stay in our room. It'll just be for a few days," Xander answered.

Exhausted after the supply run Xander and Spike thanked the girls and showed them out. "We'll see you tomorrow. Thanks again, Wills, Tara, Dawn," Xander nodded at each in turn as they stepped out into the hall. "Yeah, thanks, ducks," Spike followed up.

Once the girls had left the boys checked on Dor and Lonnie, finding them both fast asleep. They quietly shut the door. Xander was glad that they'd gotten the baby monitors so that they would know if either of the kids woke in the middle of the night.

After triple checking that the monitor was on, Xander joined Spike on the couch. "You know, we don't need that bleedin' monitor. I can hear everything that goes on in that room."

"Yeah, but what if you aren't here? I need to be able to hear, too."

Spike conceded, leaning his head on Xander's shoulder. They sat together for a few moments, until Spike gave in to his desire to taste his nummy treat. The vampire trailed kisses all along Xander's collarbone, reveling in the soft murmurs that escaped Xan's lips. After a while, Spike took Xander's face in his hands and pulled him down for a long, wet smooch. While they were snogging, Spike crawled into his lover's lap, straddling him and allowing their groins to come in contact.

"Ungh! Spike!" Xander thrust up against the contact. "Wait, we can't," he tried to protest in between kisses. "The kids…"

"They're asleep, Xan. And I'll hear them before they can get out of that room." Spike countered his protests.

Xander was finding it difficult to concentrate with Spike's tongue swirling delicious patterns on his skin, and Spike's hips thrusting down towards his own. "Wait! At least let's go into the spare room and lock the door!" Xander tried once more.

"Okay, luv. If that's the only way to get you to let us shag, then let's go!" Spike pulled on Xander's arm and practically flung him into their temporary bedroom. Once there, he pushed Xander down onto the air mattress, pulling and tugging at his clothes as they went. "I've been horny ever since the fight in the cemetery, luv." Kiss. Kiss. Kiss. "Want you." Kiss. Lick. Kiss. "Now." Kiss. Nibble. Kiss.

Within a matter of moments, they were both naked and hard. Xander was panting and begging Spike to hurry. Spike's fingers were in Xander's hole, stretching and lubing in preparation. "Are you ready for me, Xan?" His fingers continued to piston in and out slowly. Xander moaned and thrust back onto the intrusion. "Want more? Want my cock in you?"

"Yessss," Xander hissed out. His eyes opened and he focused them on Spike's blue gaze. "Spike, please. I'm so hard, I need to cum."

"Don't worry, Xanpet." Spike leaned down and gave him a relatively chaste kiss on the lips. "I won't leave you wanting, luv." Spike smirked down at his dazed lover, maneuvering them both so that the head of his cock was just brushing against Xan's puckered hole.

Spike pushed in slowly, the head just breaching Xander's tight ring of muscle. He paused there for a moment, just savoring being inside his Xanpet. Spike looked down at his lover's face, urging Xander to open his eyes. He would have balked to know the look he sported when Xander finally focused enough to see him. Xander's mouth turned up into a silly grin, seeing the look of love on his husband's features.

Before moving any further forward, Spike brought his hand up to play with the silver chain shining against Xander's bronzed skin. He leaned forward and placed a reverent kiss on the intricate design lying on Xan's chest. After Xander had donned the necklace on their wedding night, he'd never taken it off. And that thought was what had brought the look of absolute love to Spike's face.

Xander leaned forward and pressed his lips to Spike's whispering, "I love you." He lay back onto the pillows and hitched his legs further up onto Spike's shoulders. Without saying a word he urged Spike to push further in, hands on the slim, pale hips, pulling him forward.

"Love you too, Xan," Spike answered before thrusting all the way in, his balls slapping up against Xander's ass cheeks. They both groaned at the sound of naked flesh hitting naked flesh. Spike allowed Xander just a moment before beginning a slow but steady rhythm.

They made love, slow and sweet. Xander's whole body broke out in a light sheen of sweat that Spike loved. The vampire leaned in to lick the salty liquid off his lover's skin, until Xander was begging incoherently. "Spike! Ungh! Faster! I need…ungh! Please…God, need…harder! Fuck!"

Spurred on, Spike increased his rhythm. His hand shot down to grasp Xander around the base of his penis, jacking him fast and hard.

"Come on, Xan. Cum with me," Spike whispered as his other hand came forward to massage Xander's sac.

He was rewarded with a whimper from his mate. "That's it, luv." Spike's breath tickled the hairs on Xander's neck, just beneath his ear. "Want to see you cum. You're bleedin' beautiful when you cum, luv. Yeah. Fuck!"

Spike's own orgasm was building up fast. The vamp cried out with relief when he felt Xander's anal walls contract around him, his cum splattering onto Spike's cool skin. Spike let himself go, his orgasm thundering through him.

They lay sated for a few moments before Xander insisted they get up and shower. Afterwards, he forced Spike to wear pajama bottoms, just in case one of the kids woke up looking for them. He'd just have to learn not to sleep starkers with the kids around.

Before they could fall fully asleep Xander heard a light knock on their door. He jumped up quickly and opened it to find Dor standing there, looking frightened, with Lonnie just behind him.

"What's wrong?" he asked, quickly crouching down to their eye level. Spike was now standing beside him, checking the kids for injuries and the hall for intruders. "Did you guys have a nightmare?"

Dor nodded and Lonnie sniffled. "Did you want to sleep with us?"

"Please?" Lonnie's small voice echoed in the empty hall.

Spike felt something tug at his heart as he scooped up the small girl. "Sure, luv." He motioned to Xander to get Dor. "'Course you can sleep with us." Spike laid Lonnie down in the center of the air bed, while Xander laid Dor beside her. Then they each got in beside them.

"Do you wanna talk about it?" Xander asked them. He was surprised when it was Dor that answered.

"Was scary. Dark. Momma and Daddy wouldn't come." Dor turned and snuggled into Xander.

"They left us alone. We called and they wouldn't answer." Lonnie continued for Dor. She too turned to snuggle up, burrowing into Spike's arms.

"You two shared the same dream?" Spike asked, perplexed to hear them both describe the same thing.

"Yeah. Not always, but sometimes. Usually the scary ones, though," Lonnie answered. "I like it that way. So's I'm not alone."

Spike kissed the top of Lonnie's head, his hand rubbing soothing circles on her back. "I'm glad, luv. It's good you and Dor have each other," Spike reassured her.

"And now you have us, too," Xander replied.

As the kids drifted off to sleep, Xander and Spike glanced at each other. They'd have to do some research soon. They needed to figure out exactly what Dor and Lonnie were, especially if they were going to try to take care of them. Shared dreams? At least it was a clue. And then they, too, drifted off into slumber.





Part Four ~ Getting to Know You



The next morning Xander woke, snuggled between one warm body and one cool. Dor was cuddled comfortably on his left side, while Spike was wedged on his right between Lonnie and himself.

Xander smiled at the low purring sound Spike was emitting.

He knew from previous experience that the sound was Spike’s way of comforting those around him. Xander supposed that Angel and Dru must have done the same for Spike when he was first turned.

Xander’s smile grew wider when he realized that the purring must have begun last night after the kids had joined them in bed.

Slowly, Xander extricated himself from the pile of bodies, making sure not to jostle anyone awake. He made his way to the kitchen and put on a pot of coffee, then rummaged through the cupboards to see what suitable fare they had for breakfast. He pulled out the new box of Quaker Oats they had bought at Walmart the other day and poured it into the pot of boiling milk he had on the stove.

Xander was humming when Lonnie walked into the kitchen. She looked adorably sleep rumpled, her hair a mass of riotous curls, her jaw slack in a wide open yawn, and her tiny hands rubbing circles over dazed eyes.

“Morning sweetheart.” Xander greeted her as he continued to stir the pot. “Breakfast is almost ready. Did you want some hot chocolate?”

Lonnie sat at the table, still trying to yawn away the morning. Finally she looked up at Xander to answer his question. “Yes, please.” She looked eagerly around the kitchen. “Do you have those little marshmallows?”

“You're a woman after me own heart, luv,” Spike chuckled as he walked into the kitchen, chest bare, pajama bottoms clinging precariously low on his hips as he carried Dor to the table.

Xander laughed too, leaning his cheek out for his morning kiss as Spike passed him on the way to the cupboard with the marshmallows.

“Good morning, Spike.”

“Morning, luv.”

Xander poured the oatmeal into two different bowls for the kids. Then grabbed the carton of eggs from the fridge. He scrambled them together, throwing in a couple of chunks of ham as he went. He poured them into the frying pan before sprinkling some shredded cheese on top.

The kids were busily scarfing down their oats when Spike pulled out his mug of blood from the microwave. He and Xander both sat at the same time. Xander divided the eggs onto two plates, one for Spike and one for himself. Without thought they both started eating, until Dor’s small voice broke the silence.

“Is that blood?”

Xander threw Spike a worried look, panic in his eyes.

“What makes you ask that, Dor?” Spike asked warily.

“Smells like it. Kinda looks like it, too,” the little boy mumbled between spoonfuls of oatmeal. “Can I have more ‘mallows please?”

“Sure, sweetie,” Xander answered, glad for the change of subject. He grabbed the bag and was pouring in a few more treats, when Dor spoke again.

“Are you a vampire?” Dor asked, raising one eyebrow at Spike. “Like Dracula?”

“Dracula?” Xander asked, voice squeaking. “Did you know him?”

“We had dinner at his house once.” Lonnie wrinkled her nose. “He wasn’t very nice.”

Spike’s brow crinkled in curiosity and a bit of worry. “Did he hurt you, luv?”

“No.” Lonnie put her spoon down and stared at the table. “But I heard daddy tell mommy that Dracula made him feel small. He sounded kinda sad when he said it.”

Spike’s hand reached out to cup Lonnie’s. “Drac’s not a very nice bloke. So no, I’m not like Dracula.” He directed his response to Dor. “But I am a vampire.” Spike stole a quick glance at Xander, wishing he could ease the tension he saw in his lover’s broad shoulders.

“Oh.” Dor turned to face Xander, tilting his head in thought. “Are you a vampire, too?”

Xander let out a tension filled chuckle. “Nope, not me. Just your regular average Joe human.”

“Oh,” Dor shrugged, as if he didn’t know or maybe didn’t care what the differences between a human and a vampire were. “'kay.”

Spike and Xander locked gazes for a silent moment waiting for more from the tiny duo, but no further questions were asked. Xander breathed a sigh of relief before shooing both kids off to the sofa to watch morning cartoons while he and Spike cleared the table.

"What do you think?"

"I think Drac may be able to answer a few questions for us," Spike answered, rinsing off the bowls before placing them in the dishwasher.

"But Dracula's dead, Spike. Buffy dusted him," Xander reminded his mate.

Spike gave Xander an exasperated look. "Do you think that after all these centuries, Dracula was going to let Buffy dust him? With all the gypsy tricks that silly sod knows, he'll unlive forever."

"O-k-a-y." Xander dragged the word out. "How do we find him?"

"It'll take a bit. I know some demons, who know some demons. I'll start askin' around." Spike finished rinsing the silverware before dropping them into the washer cage.

Xander's expression turned pensive as he thought about the fact that they might actually know who and what the kids are sometime in the near future. That meant that they might actually discover some living relatives. Some people who might take the kids away from them.

Xander was feeling really torn. On the one hand, he knew that having relatives that loved them would probably be good for Dor and Lonnie. But on the other, Xander dreaded having to give them up. He knew that he and Spike would love and take care of them better than almost anybody else in the world. He already loved them! Xander swallowed back the lump in his throat. It was going to be really hard to give them up.

Before Xander knew what was happening, strong arms surrounded his torso and pulled him close to a cool body. "None of that now, luv." Spike squeezed him in a tight embrace. "Thought we decided not to worry 'bout that 'til we had to."

Xander hugged Spike back, wondering how it was that the vampire always knew what he was thinking. Always knew when he needed comfort and exactly how to provide it.

"You're right," Xander answered, giving Spike a quick peck on the lips. "So...what should we do today?"

"Maybe we should ask the little blighters what they want to do?" Spike suggested.

"Good idea, sweetie."

They went out into the living room together, a small smile curving Xander's lips at the picture the two kids made on the couch. They were curled up together under a worn blanket that Xander kept for those late night movie sessions he and Spike usually had. Xander really loved the fact that the kids were so affectionate towards each other. They really seemed to want to take care of and protect the other.

"Hey, kids!" Xander addressed them cheerfully. "What do you want to do today?"

"Can we go to the zoo?" "Can we go to the movies?"

Both children spoke at once. They turned and gave each other assessing looks.

"Let's go to the movies." "Let's go to the zoo."

They said in unison again, each suggesting the other's activity.

Xander laughed. "Why don't we do both? We can go to the zoo, and then catch one of those IMAX movies, okay?"

"Yeah!" Dor answered happily. He was in the process of jumping off the couch to go get dressed when Lonnie spoke again.

"Wait. What about Spike? He can't come out to the zoo with us, can he?" Lonnie asked. Dor stopped and turned to stare at the vampire.

"No, luv. 'Fraid I won't be able to go out with you during the day," Spike answered. "No worries, though. I'll just see you when you get back."

"No." Lonnie shook her head. "We should all stay together. Why don't we do something Spike can do, too?" She turned an inquiring look at Xander.

"Well, sweetheart." Xander was touched that Lonnie wanted to include Spike, but wondered whether this still had something to do with her phobia about being separated from the two of them. "That would mean we'd all have to stay indoors. Probably here in the apartment."

"That's okay," Lonnie turned toward Dor, "right?"

Dor hesitated a tiny moment before nodding his head. "Can we still watch a movie?"

"Are you sure you want to do that, luv? I don't mind, really," Spike asked Lonnie.

"We want to stay with you." Lonnie turned her pleading look toward Xander. "Please?"

"Of course, sweetheart," Xander answered, hugging her and sending both she and Dor back to their bedroom to get dressed for the day.

"Sorry, luv." Spike apologized as soon as they were out of earshot.

"For what?"

"For ruining your plans," Spike answered dejectedly. He hated it when his undead state got in the way of Xander's life. It was one of his deepest fears that Xander would one day realize what a hassle it was being with a vampire.

And now that there were kids in the picture, and Spike had no doubts that Xander would keep them in the picture for as long as possible, he worried about it even more. What would they do if there was an emergency during the day? Spike couldn't go, couldn't help. What if one of the kids needed a ride to or from school? They would have to call Xander. How could he be a parent to any child, let alone two, when he was so hampered?

Xander watched as Spike's expression turned from dejected to worrisome. He knew what his lover was thinking; it was a conversation they'd had more than once during their relationship. Xander wouldn't trade Spike for anything in the world, and he never saw Spike's sun allergy as anything more than a small hiccup in their plans.

But Xander knew that it was just another thing that made Spike feel like less of a man, at least in their relationship. As a vampire he was never bothered by the fact that he could only carouse during the night. But after the chip, it was just another thing he couldn't do.

With the chip in his head he couldn't hunt, and when he started to hang out with the Scoobies he couldn't do anything but wave goodbye to them during the day.

The chip wouldn't allow him to be a vampire, and he couldn't be a man.

"Hey," Xander called softly, breaking Spike out of his funk. He stepped closer bringing Spike into his embrace, and pressing a rough kiss against his forehead. "You didn't ruin anything. I love that the kids want to spend time with you. And even though I'm a little bit wigged, I'm glad that they know you're a vamp." Xander kissed him, pressing gently then sweeping his tongue across Spike's pouty bottom lip. "My vamp." Xander nibbled, grazing his teeth against said lip, until it was red and swollen from his kisses.

"Now, what kind of movie do you want?" Xander pulled away to grab his coat. "The kids and I will go pick it out, and grab some movie munchies."

"No monster flicks, yeah? 'Cept maybe that one with the giant man eating plant and the transvestite, bloody brilliant that!" Spike grinned cheekily.

"I think the kids are a little too young for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Spike," Xander admonished, though he was grinning at his lover.

"Fine." Spike pretended to pout. "But you better get the popcorn with the extra butter. And some of those chocolate covered peanut things." Spike added.

"Goobers."

"Am not!"

"Not you, you doof." Xander laughed. "The chocolate covered peanuts. They're called Goobers."

"Oh, yeah, knew that," Spike mumbled and was happy to be saved by the kids rushing back into the room.

Spike grabbed the coats they'd bought the other day and made sure each of them was wearing one.

"But 's not even cold outside!" Dor whined.

"Doesn't matter. You keep this coat on, unless Xander says it's okay." Spike gave Dor his best 'Master' look.

"Yes, Spike," Dor agreed grudgingly.

"Can't you come with us?" Lonnie asked as Spike bundled her in her own coat.

"Sorry, luv. But you'll only be gone for a few and then we'll all squat out in the living room with the snacks and movies, okay?" Spike asked, kissing her on the cheek.

"Okay," Lonnie agreed reluctantly.

Xander observed the byplay with concern. Lonnie really was afraid to be separated from either of them. He supposed it was only natural, but Xander wished he knew what he could do to help.

Xander watched as Spike turned to give Dor a goodbye kiss as well. The boy made an 'ick' face, but he turned his cheek up anyway, waiting for the peck. Xander sighed. How could Spike think he wouldn't make a good dad?

When it was his turn for a goodbye kiss, Xander eagerly leaned forward. Before pulling away completely he pressed his lips to Spike's ear and whispered. "I think you'd make a bloody brilliant dad." Xander tried for the accent, but it came out wonky and ended up making Spike laugh. Which was his goal anyway, so score!

They kissed again, and only stopped when Dor tugged on Xander's coat urging them to leave. "Better go." Xander grinned, taking both kids' hands in his. "Be back in a jiffy." Then they were out the door, and Spike was left alone.

Spike sat down on the couch and considered Xander's words. What kind of da would he make? It wasn't as if he had any real examples, his father having died when Spike was barely twelve. And he definitely wasn't going to use Angelus as a role model. So how did he know what kind of da he would be? How did Xander know?

Well, maybe now wasn't the time to think about it. Maybe he could just shove it aside the way he and Xander were shoving aside their worry over losing the kids. He was a one day at a time kind of vamp. So that's how he'd handle this. One day at a time. So far, so good.





Part Five ~ The Hard Questions



When Xander and the kids returned home they did indeed have several good movies, Goobers, and extra-buttery popcorn.

"Harry Potter! Harry Potter! Please? Please? Please?" Dor was begging for his choice of first movie.

Xander laughed and sorted through the pile of DVDs they'd brought home. "Which one?" They'd gotten both The Sorcerer's Stone and the Chamber of Secrets, at Dor's insistence, of course.

"Stone! Stone!" Dor was clapping in between grabbing handfuls of popcorn.

Xander looked at Spike who was grinning foolishly at Dor's antics and then at Lonnie. Both shrugged their acceptance and seated themselves comfortably on the living room floor, where they had piled all the snacky goodness.

Before joining them, Xander made sure to turn off all the lights. With the curtains firmly shut, the room was almost completely dark. "Wow, it's almost like actually being at the movie theater," Lonnie commented.

"Yeah, luv, but this way we don't have to worry about any other wankers ruining the movie for us." Spike ducked Xander's balled fist.

"Spike, language!" Xander admonished him.

"Sorry, pet." He pecked Xan on the cheek in apology, although in truth he never actually considered 'wanker' to be a 'bad' word. But he supposed he'd have a devil of time explaining if one of the kids asked what it meant.

They spent the afternoon sprawled on the floor, eating junk food and watching Harry Potter battle all sorts of nefarious villains. By the time they made it through the second movie, Dor was yawning widely.

"Time for your nap, pet." Spike scooped him up from the floor and carried him back to the bedroom. Xander gave Lonnie a look and she followed, also yawning sporadically.

They climbed into bed together, Xander and Spike tucking them in on each side. As they were straightening the covers, Dor blinked at them sleepily. "Poor Harry," he whispered, drifting closer and closer to sleep.

"Why's that, luv?" Spike asked, as he finished tugging the wrinkles out of the coverlet.

"He had to live with the mean old Dursleys. He didn't have a mom and dad to love him," Dor answered before closing his eyes and falling into a light slumber.

Xander's eyes filled with tears. He blinked them back not wanting to alert the kids to the reason why Dor's statement had caused him so much pain. He looked up to find Spike watching him, the vampire's own eyes wetter than normal.

Xander leant down to kiss Lonnie on the cheek. She had been silent the entire time, making no comment on Dor's remark or its effect on Xander. "Get some rest, sweetheart." Both Xander and Spike quickly escaped the room before anything more could be said.

***

"Oh, Spike." Xander breathed a sad sigh. "How are we going to tell them?"

They were cuddled on the couch together, the Die Hard DVD playing in the background. Xander hadn't wanted to talk about Dor's comments when they'd first come out to the living room so he'd put the movie on. But after a few minutes Xander found that he couldn't stop the worry and had to voice his concerns.

"Maybe it's time to have a sit down with them and explain," Spike suggested.

"Explain what? That their parents are never coming for them? That they're gone for good?" Xander couldn't keep the anger from his voice. He didn't know where the feeling had come from, but the fact that these two little kids were left all alone made his blood boil. He wasn't angry with their parents, of course, just at the situation itself.

"Calm down, Xanpet," Spike soothed, running his hands up and down Xander's arm. "They're not alone, yeah? Even if we never find any relatives, they'll always have us."

"How do you always know what I'm thinking?" Xander gave Spike a wan smile.

"Years of study, luv." Spike returned Xander's smile with one of his own. He reached up to run a finger along Xander's jaw line before leaning toward his mate for a comforting kiss. "So, what shall we tell them, then?"

"Well, you're right that no matter what happens they'll always have us." Xander's smile became more genuine. "Thank you, Spike."

"For what, Xan?"

"For being you. For being the kind of man that wouldn't think twice about taking in two kids who need a home," Xander answered.

"Don't you mean the kind of vamp?" Spike smirked.

Xander just continued to smile taking Spike's hand in his and rubbing circles on Spike's palm with his thumb. "Nope. Man," Xander rebuked. "You know you're not just a monster to me, Spike."

"I know, luv." Spike's heart contracted. Xander was right, Spike knew how his mate felt about him. But it always made his undead heart beat in his chest whenever Xander said the words aloud. "Thank you."

"Anyway, maybe we should just start by making them understand that they won't ever have to worry about being alone. Worry about not having a family." Xander got the conversation back on track.

"Why would we have to worry about that?" A small voice interrupted their talk.

Xander's head whipped around to find Lonnie standing in the doorway. Her eyes were huge in her face as she stood staring at them, chewing hard on her bottom lip.

Xander's voice got stuck in his throat and he found himself unable to speak. His heart was hammering in his chest and he could feel his eyes begin to water. How much had she heard?

"Luv..." Spike began but the word trailed off into nothing when he realized he didn't know what to say.

"They're not coming back are they?" Lonnie whispered, her eyes on the ground, her big toe drawing circles in the carpet. "They...they went to heaven, didn't they?" Her eyes came up to meet Xander's in time to see the first of his tears fall.

And then Lonnie was running. She raced across the room and launched herself into Xander's arms, sobbing all the way.

Xander held her close as she cried, giving Spike a pleading look. Spike wished he could give Xander what he wanted. But there was no getting around death. And Lonnie's grief would only wane over time.

So Spike did the only thing he could do, he wrapped his arms around Xander and purred softly. They stayed like that, huddled together on the couch for what seemed like hours.

Finally, Lonnie's sobs died down, and she pulled away from Xander's chest to wipe at her wet cheeks. "Are we going to stay with you now?"

"Oh, sweetie." Xander kissed her softly on the crown of her head. "You can always stay with us. But we're going to try to find some relatives. They might want to take care of you. And they would want to know about your mom and dad, too," he answered truthfully.

"Relatives?" Lonnie asked, confused at the big word.

"Like aunts and uncles and cousins," Xander explained. "Do you know any of your relatives names?"

"Nuh uh." Lonnie shook her head. "We just had mommy and daddy."

"You've never met anyone else in your family, luv?" Spike asked, curious.

"No." Lonnie shook her head again.

"Okay, well we'll just have to find them the hard way," Xander interjected.

"But you said you'd take care of us! Why do you have to find someone else? Don't you want us?" Lonnie was almost in tears again.

"Oh, God!" Xander exclaimed. "Of course we do! We just want to do what's best for you, sweetheart." Xander swept Lonnie back into his arms and hugged her close.

"Does Dor know, as well?" Spike asked after a bit.

"No," Lonnie answered. "I didn't tell him what I thought. I didn't want to scare him."

"How did you know?" Xander asked, turning Lonnie's face up so he could see into her eyes.

"They sniffle told me to wait in the car, but I looked out and saw the big monster." Lonnie wiped at the fresh tears. "I heard yelling. And sniffle I unbuckled Dor and pushed him to the other side."

Spike nodded, remembering how they'd found the children huddled on the far side of the bench seat. "That was right smart of you, luv," Spike praised her. "And very brave to try and keep your brother safe."

"We should tell Dor." Lonnie suddenly stood straighter. "He's waking up now."

Spike's brow furrowed at Lonnie's comment. "You know Dor's waking?"

"It tickles." Lonnie shrugged.

"What tickles, luv?"

"My head." She pointed to the back of her head.

"Your head tickles when Dor's around?" Xander asked.

"Only sometimes. But I can tell when he's awake and when he's sleeping," Lonnie told them.

"Maybe we can wait a little while before we tell him?" Xander suggested, wanting to put off the unpleasant task.

"He'll know something's wrong," Lonnie said.

"How?"

"Because I'm sad."

Xander was done trying to figure out the mental link that existed between the two siblings. His head hurt and he was exhausted from the emotional embrace they'd all just shared. It was something that could wait for another day. Besides, from the look on Spike's face Xander had a feeling that the vampire was thinking about the implications of Lonnie's statements enough for the both of them.

They all untangled themselves from the couch, each man dipping down to kiss Lonnie on the cheek before heading back toward the bedroom. Lonnie ran ahead, wanting to be there before Dor was fully awake and wondering where she was.

"You ready for this, luv?" Spike asked, his hand clasping Xander's as they made their way through the apartment.

"No," Xander answered truthfully.

Spike's only response was to squeeze his lover's hand as they walked into the bedroom together.



T B C








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