Stand By Me
Joshua "JJ" Harris was born on April 21st, 2004
The twins (Danielle, "Dani" and William, "Billy") were born on February 12th, 2004
Annie turned five on February 14th (she was born in 1999)
Spike and Buffy have been married five years in February. (seems longer, doesn't it?)
Buffy turned 23 on January 19th.
All the Potentials were endowed with full Slayer power in February 2003.
Buffy and Spike learned of the other dimensions in May, 2003.
William/Spike was turned by Dru in 1880; first came to Sunnydale in Sept. of 1997.
Thanks to my "ET" and wonderful Beta,
her wonderful suggestions, corrections and encouragement! She's the
“Stand By Me” by Ben E. King
ScreenCaps courtesy of ScreenCap Paradise:
|Rating / Warnings:||
This chapter is basically "G" rated - family friendly!
Saturday, December 25th, 2004 (Christmas Day):
Annie lay in bed, wide awake, and watched the digital clock on her nightstand tick slowly ahead … every minute seemed to take an hour as she waited …and waited … and waited. It was Christmas morning, there were tons of presents waiting for her under the tree and it was 6:01…6:02…6:03 … She’d been warned sternly not to wake the house up before 8:00 …and not to go downstairs on her own this morning. 6:04 … 6:05 … this was going to take forever!
She lay awake and wondered if Santa had brought her everything she’d asked for… Elmo was first on her list, but some pretty dresses and some frilly outfits for ballet class would be nice, too. Video games were always fun – plus Papa could use those, too … coloring books and story books, Barbie dolls and baby dolls were all on the list. She wondered if Santa might’ve brought her a pony … Angel said Santa had them now, she would name him ‘Sunshine’ and could keep him in the backyard and ride him to the park and feed him carrots… Speaking of carrots, she wondered if Rudolph and his friends liked the carrots she’d left them. To pass time, she tried to remember all the reindeer’s names … Dancer and Prancer … Donner and Blitzen … hmmm, Comet … Cupid – shoot! Something that rhymed with Blitzen… Sitzen…Ritzen…no. Drat! Annie eventually gave up - she’d have to ask her father later … she turned her attention to the cookies they’d left Santa. She wondered if he liked them and if any other houses had left him his new favorite or if they were the only one that knew about it. 6:11 … 6:12 …
Annie sighed heavily, got up out of bed and padded quietly to the bathroom … listening intently up and down the hall for any sign of life out of any of the other rooms, but she didn’t hear anything…no one was stirring, not even a mouse. After washing her hands and brushing her teeth, she tiptoed past her parents’ door to the top of the stairs and looked down. Oh wow! There were even more presents under the tree than she’d imagined. She didn’t see a pony, but it might be in the garden…
“And just what do ya think yer doin’?” came a deep voice from behind her and Annie nearly jumped out of her skin as she spun around with wide eyes.
“Papa! Look!” she exclaimed, grabbing Spike’s hand and pulling him towards the stairs. “Look at all the presents! Santa must’ve really liked the cookies!
“I didn’t go down! I swear!” she defended before being accused as she gazed down in wonder at all the colorful packages stacked under and around the tree.
Spike laughed and picked her up. “You weren’t supposed to be up until eight, yeah? Wasn’t that our deal?”
“I tried! I really, really tried …but LOOK!” Annie explained, pointing at the tree down by the fireplace.
“That’s not all yours, ya know…” Spike started as he carried her away from the stairs and back to her room. “The little bits have some, too … You aren’t the only bit in the house anymore.”
“I know…” Annie whined as the tree and presents disappeared from sight.
Spike set her down on her bed and Annie crawled back under the covers. 6:20…
Spike sat down next to her on the bed and straightened her covers over her. “Ya know, the littlebits are gonna depend on you to show them the ropes, pet. Can you help them unwrap their presents?”
“Sure! I’ll help them!” Annie agreed enthusiastically – a huge grin on her face.
“And then you can help them write thank you notes …” Spike continued and Annie frowned, sticking her bottom lip out in a classic Summers pout.
Spike chuckled at her. “Your face is gonna freeze like that one day, pet. It’ll be bad for you – none of the little gits will wanna kiss ya…On second thought, you just keep that look…it’s very becoming.”
“You’re silly…” Annie told him, rolling her eyes. 6:23 …
“Too true…” Spike agreed. “Now, if you go back to sleep, it’ll be time to get up quick like a rabbit…but if you lay there and watch that clock it’ll take years ‘fore it’s time to get up, yeah?
“So, close your eyes, Niblett…” Spike told her and Annie reluctantly closed her eyes. When her eyes were closed, Spike began singing the old lullaby softly to her as he stroked her hair gently…
one morning, just as the sun was rising,
I heard a maid sing in the valley below:
"Oh don't deceive me, Oh never leave me,
How could you use a poor maiden so?
Before long, she had fallen back asleep. Spike sighed as he watched her sleeping…she looked like an angel with her dark curls framing her sweet face. Spike thought that all his Christmas wishes for the rest of his life had all been answered – and they all lived here with him: Buffy, Annie, Dani, and Billy. There was nothing left in the world to ask Santa for that he didn’t already have.
Spike left Annie sleeping and went down the hall to the nursery. Dani and Billy were still sleeping soundly – the excitement of their first Christmas totally lost on them. They’d be a year old in February … Annie would be six. Sometimes it seemed like only yesterday that he came to Sunnydale with Dru … had it really been that long ago - over seven years? Of course, sometimes it felt like he’d been here forever … he’d been through so much during that time – so much had changed.
Spike picked Dani up and sat down in the rocking chair with her in his arms. She opened her eyes, looked up at him and gave him a happy smile. Her eyes were just as blue as Annie’s, her hair fair and soft, but straight. She definitely looked like Buffy to him … the older she got the more sure he was that she would be just as lovely as her mother and she certainly was a fireball. She was much more outgoing and vocal than Junior and not afraid of anything; if she could see it, she would reach for it; if she could reach it, she would grab it; if she could grab it, she would pull it; if she could pull it, she would put it in her mouth … well, unless it was bananas – in which case she’d toss them back at you.
“Who are you going to be, Sweetbit?” Spike asked her softly and Dani giggled and reached out for his face with a small hand. “You a ‘want, take, have’ girl? Lord help us…” Spike half joked as he thought of Faith and what her parents must’ve gone through when she was younger. “Are you a Slayer? Ya kinda act like a Slayer, pet,” Spike pointed out to his baby daughter and she reached her other hand out and grabbed the collar of his t-shirt and pulled on it. “Yeah, just like yer mum … always tugging at my clothes,” Spike laughed softly.
He knew that Buffy didn’t want either of the girls to be Slayers, and he understood that – to a point. But there was still something about Slayers that intrigued and fascinated Spike … it always had from the moment Angelus had told him about them. Yeah, it was dangerous and fraught with downsides, but for a girl to be a Slayer meant they had something special within them – to keep that hidden, to block it, as Buffy wanted to do, seemed like a bad idea to Spike. On the other hand, he certainly understood that it only took a vampire or a demon having one good day to end a Slayer’s life… one good day, while the Slayer had to have a good day everyday to survive. It was a dilemma he had no answer for … losing any of his children would be heartbreaking beyond comprehension for him and Buffy … but to block their natural power seemed wrong – perhaps even dangerous. Not allowing them to be who they were meant to be seemed to Spike like it was cheating them out of their destiny …
“Well…got a few years ‘fore we’ll know, don’t we Sweetbit?” Spike asked her as she pulled harder on the collar of his shirt. “We can burn that bridge when we get to it, pet – but no worries, you’ll never walk alone, no matter what,” Spike said softly as he stood up, took her back to her crib, and laid her down gently, covering her back up with her little pink blanket.
Spike turned and picked Billy up and sat back down in the rocker with him. He enjoyed spending quiet time with the babies … usually he did it late at night, when the house was still and everyone else was asleep. His vampire timetable still hadn’t fully adjusted to sleeping through the night … it was a century old habit and not easy to change.
“And who will you be, Junior?” Spike asked his baby son as Billy woke up and looked up at him with the same blue eyes of all his siblings. Strangers had a hard time telling Dani and Billy apart if they were dressed alike, but everyone in the ‘family’ could see the differences … even without looking ‘under the hood’. Billy definitely was looking more and more like Annie and Spike as he got older. His hair, although a light, golden yellow, was wavy, just as Annie’s had been when she was a baby, and it was starting to become apparent that his facial features were more like Spike’s than Buffy’s … with high cheekbones and a strong jaw.
Billy was the more demure and cautious of the twins, though…often letting Dani take the lead on things, then following when things seemed safe. He wasn’t easy to upset, unlike Dani who had a hair trigger, and seemed to take things more to heart than his slightly older twin sister. Spike wondered if he would be more like him or Buffy … unfortunately, it seemed that he was taking after ‘William’ more than ‘Spike’ or Buffy. Spike thought back on his own childhood – he’d been bullied and pushed around his whole human life … it was only after becoming a vamp that he’d found the strength and stones to stand up for himself and transform into ‘Spike’.
He definitely didn’t want that to be Junior’s fate – he wouldn’t wish that on any child, and certainly not his own son. He’d make sure that Billy had the self-confidence and skills necessary to protect himself, to stand up for himself, if he needed to. Spike had grown up most of his life without a father (who had died when he was young) and his mother was a lady, in the strictest sense, and gave him no guidance on such barbarous affairs. Spike vowed to make sure Billy never faced those challenges … or if he did, that he had the tools and skills to handle himself like a man.
“No worries, William … they’ll be no gits tossing your books in the mud … nobody poking fun at you, I’ll see to that,” Spike told his son softly as he rocked slowly in the chair and cradled him in his arms. Billy gurgled and cooed and grabbed hold of Spike’s thumb in a firm grip. “See there … strong boy, you are … no worries at all.”
Buffy stepped into the nursery nearly an hour later to find Spike had fallen asleep in the chair, his son still cradled firmly in his arms … also sound asleep. She stood in the doorway and just took in the scene. She knew that Spike spent a lot of time in here with them at night … she’d wake up to find him gone sometimes – whenever she went looking for him, he’d either be in here or in Annie’s room – just watching them sleep.
Buffy smiled softly as tears stung her eyes. It had been a really long year … a year that nearly claimed their lives … which was par for the course, but also a year that had nearly claimed their love, their marriage, their family. Buffy looked down at the ‘promise ring’ Spike had given her on Labor Day … and her resolve to keep that promise, to never give up again, was strengthened as she watched ‘Big Bad’ holding his son … both sleeping soundly in the rocking chair. The fact that Spike could go from ‘Big Bad’ to loving father to passionate lover to best friend - that he had all that within him, made her heart swell with love and pride and it made her thankful for the life she had. Even with all the challenges and bad times they’d faced, it was times like these that made all those unhappy moments disappear from view.
Buffy moved silently into the room and gently pulled Billy from Spike’s arms … trying hard not to wake either of them, but, of course, Spike woke up immediately when he felt Billy move.
“Sorry …” Buffy whispered as she picked Billy the rest of the way up and Spike released him.
“’S ok,” he muttered, closing his eyes again. He hadn’t intended on falling asleep…it was just that old clock … sunrise was approaching, time to take cover, time to sleep.
“Why don’t you come back to bed?” Buffy suggested after she’d laid Billy back down in his crib. “You can sleep another half hour before Christmas officially starts…”
“Yeah…” Spike muttered as he stood up and followed her back to their room. Maybe Annie would oversleep … yeah, right!
At exactly 8:00am on the dot Annie began banging on her parents’ door. “It’s Christmas!!! It’s Christmas!!” she called excitedly as she ran to the top of the stairs to look back down at the tree and all the presents piled high around it.
Spike moaned and covered his head with a pillow. Getting up before noon should be a criminal offense…
“C’mon, Papa… you knew this was coming,” Buffy teased as she pulled the pillow off his head and pushed his shoulder lightly.
“Your daughter is very punctual…” Buffy informed him as she got up and pulled on some clothes.
“Your daughter is bloody early … up at six, she was,” Spike told Buffy as he rolled up to sitting on the edge of the bed and rubbed tiredly at his eyes – still in the jeans and t-shirt he’d had on earlier.
“Well, she gets that from you. Patience is a virtue, it’s just not one of yours … or hers,” Buffy laughed as she opened the door just as Annie was starting to bang on it again.
“It’s Christmas!!” Annie exclaimed again as she jumped up and down in her red and white “Frosty the Snowman” PJ’s before turning for the stairs.
“Don’t touch anything until we’re all down there!” Buffy warned Annie as she went to get the babies up and changed – she gave Tara and Willow’s room a knock as she went by, too – no sense in them missing all the fun.
When everyone was settled in the great room around the tree, Annie started passing out the presents … one to Buffy, one to Spike, Willow, Tara, Lorne … and one for her. When everyone had opened that round, she’d pass out another round of gifts … the next time including Dani and Billy and ‘helping’ them open them. By the time the twins had gotten their third gift, they had started to get the idea that tearing off that pretty paper was fun and contained more fun inside. Although some of the presents themselves were lost on them, since there were lots of new clothes mixed in with the toys, they were having fun with ripping the paper up on all of them and soon were helping Annie rip hers open, too.
So far, their favorite things were the “WalkerBuddy” and the “Start Walker” … they’d pull themselves up on them and hold on tight as they walked as far as they could in the cramped area (which was cramped due to the overload of Christmas wrapping paper debris and boxes). They’d been sharing Annie’s old ‘walking helper’, but these were more fun, more colorful and they could each have one of their very own.
They looked adorable in their red and white striped Christmas PJ’s – Buffy tried to keep Santa hats on them, but that usually only lasted about five seconds before they’d pull them off. She finally got them to hold still long enough for Lorne to snap some pictures. Buffy ran and grabbed Spike’s Santa hat that he’d worn the night before and plopped it on his head and Lorne got some great shots of all them in their ‘Christmas best’… before Spike and the babies had enough of that nonsense and pulled the hats off again.
Billy was digging into a present that Buffy didn’t recognize … it wasn’t her wrapping to be sure, in fact, it looked like Annie or Spike had wrapped it. She watched as he pulled out a large (as in, it would’ve fit Spike perfectly), red Man-U football jersey with the number “17” on it and his name, “Weckerly” above it, then came out some Man-U bibs and ‘onesies’ and an official Man-U soccer ball…errr football.
“I don’t think that jersey’s gonna fit him,” Buffy pointed out to Spike who had gone down onto the floor next to Billy to help him get all the Manchester United bounty out of the package.
“It will one day…” Spike posited. “I’ll keep it for ‘im ‘til it does,” he offered, slipping the jersey up over his head and pulling it down over his t-shirt. Spike rolled the soccer ball back and forth on the floor between Billy and Dani until they both got tired of that game and went in search for more paper to rip up.
“You don’t think Dani would’ve wanted one?” Buffy asked with a teasing smile. “I could’ve kept it for her…”
Spike’s eyes went wide as he turned around to see if Buffy was really upset that he hadn’t gotten her one – she never showed anything but a passing interest in football except to ask why they wore such baggy shorts. “I think they could run faster in spandex, frankly…” she had suggested with a shrug one time. “It’d draw more women fans, too, I bet…” Spike was relieved to see that she was kidding about the jersey – he’d gotten two bibs and two onesies, so both the twins could have them – he could’ve just as well gotten two jerseys.
“What number would you want, luv?” he asked as he raised himself back up off the floor and onto the couch.
“Hmmmm…well, my favorite number, seventeen, is taken I see. I guess I’d go with seven then,” she told him with a nonchalant shrug.
“Seven…” Spike thought for a moment. “Bloody Beckham?!” he exclaimed. “Traitor, he is! Going to bloody Real Madrid… ponce!” he declared, shaking his head. He got mad every time he thought about Beckham jumping ship.
Buffy shrugged. “He’s cute.”
“Cute my soddin’ arse…” Spike mumbled under his breath as he rolled his eyes. She’d never make a Man-U fan with that attitude – not in a million years – cute did not win football games.
They were interrupted by Annie’s shrieks of joy as she opened the package that contained the Elmo doll. And, as Buffy had predicted, the laughing and talking red demon-doll soon started getting on the nerves of the adults … but Annie couldn’t get enough of it, laughing and giggling along with it over and over again. The only thing that got her to stop playing with it was Spike sliding a huge box out from one corner of the room and announcing that it was a present for Annie from Uncle Giles.
Annie’s eyes got wide – the box was as big as she was! She ran over to it and began ripping the paper off and Spike helped her get the box open … inside she found a large, old-fashioned rocking horse. It wasn’t a pony … but it was pretty close to one and almost as big! She happily climbed aboard it and started riding as soon as Spike got it out of the box and sat it down on the floor.
It was the best Christmas, ever! Annie had gotten her beloved Elmo, plus two new Barbie dolls, lots of outfits for the Barbies from Santa, several new ballet outfits from Tara, some new books from Willow, and a gorgeous, frilly princess dress and a whole new Princess Make-up kit with new barrettes, bows, lipstick, and nail polish from Lorne! She couldn’t wait to paint everyone’s fingernails … including Spike’s, with the new shades of polish in it!
On top of all that there were more video games and some board games … ‘Chutes and Ladders’ and ‘Candyland’ and ‘Monopoly’, and Faith and Wes had each given her a card with ten dollars in it! Anya and Xander (and JJ) had given her a $50 US Savings Bond … which she wasn’t quite sure what that meant, but wow! $50!? Plus there were numerous presents with new school and play clothes and the obligatory jacket and underwear, socks and shoes, and other stuffed animals and dolls – but none nearly as fun and annoying as Elmo – which was her new very favorite doll. He could ride with her on the rocking horse – it would almost be like Tonto and the Lone Ranger … only on one horse and with a laugh track.
Dani and Billy had done pretty well too – although a lot of their bounty was in the form of more sensible things like new (larger) clothes, socks, and shoes, they both loved the walking-helpers they’d gotten and those would get some good use over the next months as they started walking more. They’d also gotten lots of stuffed animals and teething rings and toys that taught shapes and colors and some books made especially for small hands.
But at the moment, Dani and Billy seemed more interested in the big box that the rocking horse had come in than any of the actual toys they’d gotten. They crawled in and out of the box, playing peek-a-boo with each other and everyone else in the room. Before long, Annie, Elmo, and Miss Kitty joined them crawling in and out of the box as it lay on its side at the end of the couch. The box soon became a submarine … then a truck…then a cave … a fort… a castle – the only limit was the imagination of the inhabitants.
“We could’ve saved a fortune and just gotten them all big, empty boxes…” Buffy commented dryly as the kids all laughed and played together crawling in and out and around the box as Miss Kitty sat atop it and swatted at their hair every time they poked their heads up within range.
Annie had gotten so distracted that she’d stopped handing out gifts, so Spike retrieved Buffy’s present from under the tree and handed it to her as he sat back down on the couch next to her. Buffy smiled as she started to unwrap the gift … she knew what it would be - the paperwork for the star he’d given her last night – she loved it and couldn’t wait to show Tara and Willow her star, but instead what she found inside was something totally different.
When she opened the box there was a full size chocolate shoe … real chocolate, as in an edible shoe! Buffy looked at Spike quizzically as he watched her. The look on her face was priceless, he knew she was expecting the star paperwork … which was in a different gift box still under the tree.
“Go on then,” Spike urged her. “Open it up.”
Buffy lifted the shoe out of the box and broke a piece off and tasted it… Mmmmmm, it was heaven – no doubt, Ghirardelli’s. Underneath the shoe was an envelope, she lifted it out and pulled a card out of it ...
Bearer entitled to one free day on Rodeo Drive:
Half day at the Beverly Wilshire Day Spa, including massage, pedicure, manicure, facial and shampoo, cut, and style followed by lunch at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, Spago Beverly Hills, then a few hours of shopping at Jimmy Choo’s. Pick out any three pairs of shoes and they’re yours. Of course, transportation via limo to and from and around Beverly Hills is also included…
You’re a star, and so you shall be treated.
With all our love,
William, Danielle, Annie, and Spike
“OH. MY. GOD!” Buffy exclaimed as she set the shoe down and dove atop Spike, wrapping her arms around him in a fierce hug and knocking him onto his back on the couch. She captured his lips with hers and gave him a sloppy, chocolaty kiss, keeping him pinned down on his back under her.
“What?! What is it?” Willow and Tara asked excitedly. Lorne already knew – he helped Spike set it up. If there was one thing Lorne knew, it was how to do luxury … he couldn’t afford it himself, but he was happy to help Spike give Buffy the ‘star treatment’, at least for one day.
“Wow!” Willow and Tara both exclaimed as they retrieved the card from her hand and read it. They could live a month…maybe three, on the money Spike would drop on that one day. Still, they were happy for Buffy – if anyone deserved a day as a star, it was her.
“I think she liked it!” Annie exclaimed as she left Elmo, Miss Kitty, her siblings, and the ‘box castle’ and ran back over to the couch, climbing up on top of Buffy’s back as Buffy laid on top of Spike.
“Oi! Bloody hell!” Spike exclaimed in mock displeasure when Buffy released his lips so she could breathe. “You bloody women are killin’ me ‘ere! Uncle! I give up!” he yelled and Buffy and Annie laughed as they sat back and let him up. “Remind me to never give ya anything like that again if I’m gonna get squashed like a bloody bug for m’ efforts…”
“Oh, you poor baby,” Buffy cooed, wiping chocolate off his mouth with her thumb.
“I think she liked it, Papa!” Annie exclaimed again, climbing over Buffy and depositing herself on Spike’s lap.
“Yeah… reckon so. I’da hate to’ve seen her if she didn’t like it… I think my back is broken…” Spike teased, reaching behind himself as if checking his spine for breaks.
“Annie – go see if you can find the rest of Papa’s gifts … I think they’re the blue ones over there,” Buffy directed her daughter, pointing to some gifts still piled behind the tree.
Spike smirked as he opened the first package and pulled out a “Kiss the Cook” apron, followed by one that read, “English Yardman, let’s get dirty!”
“Maybe I should’ve given you a bloody microwave … or a hoover,” Spike teased, but he could tell by the look in Buffy’s eye that the aprons weren’t for work… well, not entirely for work, anyway. He looked forward to modeling them for her very soon.
From the second box, Spike pulled out a pair of white, “Nancy Sinatra” go-go boots and a white mini-dress with white fringe on it. He cocked a brow at Buffy. “Thanks, pet, but I don’t think it’s my size… and white’s not really m’ best color.”
“It’s not for you, silly!” Annie chimed in. “It’s for Mama to wear to sixties night … she said ‘those boots are gonna walk all over you’ and that you’d love it!” Annie offered, repeating what she’d heard Buffy say about the outfit.
“Did she now?” Spike pursed his lips together as he looked at the outfit again. “Well, I reckon that’s right…” He laughed as he put the outfit back in the box – sixties night was looking better already.
Buffy gave Spike a quick wink that Annie didn’t see and laughed. Oh yeah, those boots would do some walkin’ alright …
“One more…” Buffy announced as she got up and retrieved the last present wrapped in the same blue paper. She would’ve sent Annie for it, but it was heavy and she definitely didn’t want it dropped, not after all the time and money she’d spent getting it shipped over from England.
Buffy checked on the babies…who had fallen asleep inside the big box that Annie’s rocking horse came in – apparently Christmas morning had taken its toll on them, before setting Spike’s last present down on his lap. He looked at her with a furrowed brow … it smelled old, even through the wrapping, but oddly familiar, and was pretty heavy.
Spike tore open the paper, but Buffy stopped him from ripping into the cardboard box, instead offering him a pair of scissors to carefully cut the tape.
“Bloody hell,” Spike muttered when he opened it and peered inside. It was a set of old…very old, leather-bound books with gold gilding … books that contained the complete works of William Shakespeare.
Spike looked up at her, his mouth slightly ajar; she was still standing in front of him, half holding her breath, on the verge of biting her fingernails, as she waited for his reaction. “How…how did you know?” he asked her, looking at her with unbelieving eyes.
“You helped me with it when I took that British Lit class in college – you actually liked it, and you quoted that Shakespeare stuff at the school … with the principal, remember?” Buffy asked, still not sure if he liked them or not.
“But how did you know to get this particular edition?” Spike asked, holding the book up that he had taken out of the box.
“I…I didn’t … it just seemed like the one to get… Is it wrong?” Buffy asked, worry creasing her features. She’d spent a lot of money on them – and then had to arrange for them to be shipped, with insurance, from the bookseller in London where she’d found them online.
“Wrong? No…no! Not wrong! God, Buffy! This is the very edition my father had in his library…it’s unbelievable – it’s… it could be the very same set!” Spike exclaimed, looking back at the book in his hand and flipping through it. His father’s set had been pristine … but that was over a century ago; this set was certainly in good enough condition to be the very same one. Spike, or William at the time, had spent many nights reading from them to his mother, it had been her favorite thing for him to read to her; it always reminded her of her husband and was one of the things that had inspired young William to try his hand at writing and poetry.
“Oh, God…really? I … I don’t know,” Buffy stammered, her own eyes going wide with wonder. Then it dawned on her. “The thrall…Spike! I must’ve seen you with them when I went through your memories… I don’t remember them, but subconsciously maybe…”
“God, Buffy …they’re… they’re perfect,” Spike said softly as tears stung his eyes. He closed his eyes and brought the old leather to his nose … it smelled just the same as they had when he was a human. He’d never forget that smell, never forget how the heavy pages felt in his hands or the feel of the leather, never forget how much his mother had loved those books and loved him reading from them.
Annie looked up at Buffy then back at her father. “Your Papa had those same books?” she asked Spike hesitantly.
Spike opened his eyes and blinked back his emotions. “Yeah … I used ta read to my mum from them, pet. Now I can read to you from them … Would you like that?” Spike asked her.
Annie smiled. “Yeah! And Mama? You can read to her, too!”
Spike looked up at Buffy and smiled. “Yeah … I can read to her, too.”
Buffy leaned down and feathered a soft kiss on Spike’s lips. She had hoped he’d like the books – she had no idea that they’d hold that much meaning for him when she bought them, though.
“Thank you…” Spike whispered to her as she pulled away.
“Merry Christmas,” Buffy replied with a smile as she laid her hand gently atop his hand that was holding the book and met his eyes with hers. She hoped to find joy and excitement in his eyes when he opened his present, what she saw now was so much more – like a window in his heart had been opened – a window that tied the long ago past with the present and the future … from his father, to him, to their children; it was more than she could’ve hoped for.
“Now open mine!” Annie exclaimed as she jumped up and retrieved another present from under the tree. “It’s for both of you! Tara helped me!” she explained as she excitedly gave the haphazardly wrapped gift to Buffy.
Spike put his Shakespeare books down on the floor as Buffy sat down on the couch next to him, pulling her legs up under herself and leaning in close to him before they both ripped at the bright paper on their present. The removal of the wrapping revealed another book – but definitely not an old one, it was clearly new – a scrapbook. Everyone gathered around to see the book – of course Tara had already seen it, but she and Annie kept it hidden from everyone else in the house.
On the outside cover and binding it read, “The Weckerly Family - 2004” in neat writing – obviously Tara’s, when they opened the book, it was filled with drawings done by Annie chronicling the year just past … and what a year it had been.
“Wow, Annie, you did all this?” Buffy asked in amazement.
“Tara helped me with the words and stuff …” Annie started to explain.
“Annie did most of it … it was her idea and she drew all the pictures…” Tara told them – clearly proud of all the work that Annie had done on it.
Buffy turned the pages slowly as their year in crayon drawings and simple words was laid out for her and Spike….
|Play the Video to see the scrapbook:||Stand By Me - Ben E. King
When the night has come
v Last year, Christmas had come in January … because Spike had been in jail in Arizona on Christmas and then Annie had gotten kidnapped right afterwards … they had celebrated Buffy’s birthday and Christmas on the same day.
v Next came Dani and Billy, born on February 12th… two days before Annie’s birthday – Tara had made foot and handprints of the babies and included it in the book, and Annie had drawn pictures of the two blond bundles … one dressed in pink, the other in blue.
v Then Buffy was in the coma and didn’t wake up - Annie showed her only waking up when Spike sang their old lullaby, ‘Early One Morning’ … what she called ‘Papa’s song’.
v Then Lorne moved in and the babies came home and cried all the time.
v Then Dani got sick and had to go back to the hospital and everyone was very scared, but she got better and finally the twins stopped crying all the time when Dani got home.
v Then Minnie Mouse came to live with them … Annie loved her new pet!
v Then Annie drew her chocolate dream world and Buffy and Spike visiting her dreams from the other dimension to say goodbye … They hadn’t meant to scare her, but it had. They just wanted to make sure she knew how much they loved her and how proud they were of her, just in case they didn’t make it back from the other dimension and that Angel’s grand plan to take down the Black Thorn.
“What’s that there, pet?” Spike asked, pointing to what looked like mushrooms in the chocolate world.
“Cupcakes!” Annie explained. “Those are chocolate chip cookies and chocolate kisses and chocolate cake…” Annie clarified the rest of the items on the drawing.
“Ahhh, of course, I see it now,” Spike agreed with a smile. “Ya know, we didn’t mean to scare you, Niblett … just wanted you to know how much we love you and how proud we are of ya. I’m sorry we scared you,” Spike told her, pulling her up onto his lap as Buffy held the book out of the way.
“I know…” Annie said softly, her eyes down on the book.
“Hey – look at me,” Spike said softly, lifting Annie’s chin up with one finger. “We. Love. You. We won’t leave you – never again, neither one of us, got it?”
“Do you promise?” Annie asked, looking Spike in the eye.
“We do – we both promise,” Spike assured her, pulling his daughter into a hug and looking over her head to meet Buffy’s eyes, which were glistening with unshed tears. “We promise to stand by you and by each other forever … until not one star lights the night sky.”
Buffy laid a hand on Annie’s back as she blinked back the tears. They had put Annie through hell … and she wasn’t even six yet! How in the world could she grow up without having major ‘issues’ was beyond Buffy. This is why Slayers shouldn’t have kids… but the idea of not having her or the twins broke Buffy’s heart – she couldn’t imagine life without them. She and Spike would have to do a better job at being good parents … that definitely needed to be their New Year’s resolution for many years to come.
Spike released her and turned her around so her back was to his chest and Buffy laid the book across her knees as they continued flipping through it…
v Next was a picture of Spike with Mickey Mouse ears on and Buffy laughed aloud.
“You looked so cute in those! What happened to those ears, anyway?” Buffy asked him and Spike rolled his eyes. Those ears had been tossed in the dustbin before they even left Disneyland.
v The next page showed a sad Minnie Mouse … or Hallie Rat, she’d gotten out of the cage and run away. They still had never found her …
v The next page was one big angry scribble of colors across the page … Buffy and Spike’s eyes met – they knew what it was, the only way a nearly six year old could express the confusion and anger and sadness of their fight over her helping Angel and their month-long separation. And Annie didn’t even know about the divorce papers or Buffy trying to commit suicide by vampire…
Buffy sat the book down on the couch on the other side of her and motioned for Annie to come and sit on her lap. “C’mere, I want to tell you something…” Buffy said to Annie and Annie climbed off Spike’s knees and over to Buffy’s, still facing out, her back to Buffy. Buffy picked up the book and flipped back to the picture Annie drew of their family just after Dani got home from the hospital and Lorne had told her how to get them to stop crying. It was a happy picture – everyone smiling, everyone happy and together. Annie looked down at the picture her mother had flipped to, her expression sadly serious.
“I can’t promise that I’ll never make a mistake again, honey, but I promise that this will be us from now on. Papa and me, we made a mistake – we both made mistakes and it hurt you, and neither of us ever wanted to hurt you. I made a promise to Papa and I’m making it to you right now – I’ll never leave, I’ll never give up no matter what and he’ll never leave, either. We’ll be together from now on – what happened in this picture,” Buffy continued, turning back to the scribbled page, “won’t happen again. We love you very much. Do you believe me?” Buffy asked softly, wrapping her arms around Annie and leaning the side of her head against her daughter’s.
“You promise, too?” Annie asked softly, her eyes glued on the book in her lap.
“Yeah … we both promise, cross our hearts,” Buffy assured her.
Annie nodded her head slowly. “Good… I missed you when you were gone … and I got tired of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches…”
Buffy smiled and looked at Spike who just rolled his eyes. He knew Buffy was right, though – they’d hurt Annie with their selfishness, and he knew he was more to blame than Buffy. He’d handled that all wrong from the beginning … she’d been wrong to lie to him, but his stubborn pride had trumped her mistake in spades.
“I’ll make sure you never have to suffer through endless peanut butter and jelly again…” Buffy assured her again. “I love you, Anne Joyce,” Buffy told her softly as she pressed a kiss to her daughter’s cheek.
“I love you, too,” Annie replied as she turned the page in the book – leaving the sadness and worry of that time behind – she believed their promises. She still worried about her parents – she knew what they did was different than other grownups, but she felt sure now that neither of them would leave again if there was any possible way to help it…as long as there was one star left in the sky, they would be standing by her and by each other.
v The next picture showed Annie on the beach in the sun with Spike … Spike had a green dot on his chest, symbolizing where the Gem of Amarra had been embedded next to his heart.
v Next came Willow and Tara’s handfasting/wedding … it showed the two witches being showered with lavender, their hands joined together with the red ribbon as well as the broom they’d jumped and the purple flowers they’d carried in their bouquets.
v The next drawing was obviously Cordelia in her wedding gown standing next to a huge peacock feather … Spike thought Angel had never look so good…
v Spike moaned at the next picture, though – obviously Angel, telling the ‘Spike fell off the horse’ story … one time, one time he fell off a bloody horse – and it didn’t even count ‘cause the miserable beast scrubbed him off on a bloody tree, and now it was forever memorialized in Annie’s scrapbook.
“Did you really ride horses lots when you were young?” Annie asked, looking over at Spike from her perch on Buffy’s lap.
“Yeah … rode my share – bloody miserable beasts, they are…” Spike grumbled. He’d never gotten on really well with horses … they made him nervous, too unpredictable and too big for him to control. He was one happy vampire when the automobile was invented…he gladly swapped out stealing cars or motorbikes for stealing horses. Cars might leave you stranded, but they didn’t kick or buck or bite or scrub you off on trees and if you told them to go left, they bloody well did.
“Not Black Beauty or Flicka or My Little Pony …” Annie pointed out. “They’re nice.”
“I reckon Mr. Ed was nice, too … don’t mean I want to ride him around town, pet. Trust me, cars are much better than horses…” Spike argued.
Annie scrunched up her face like she didn’t agree with him, but didn’t say anything more about it. Some people just didn’t know a good thing when they saw it … next year Santa would bring her a real pony and then Papa would see how great they were… until then, she could practice on the rocking horse Uncle Giles had given her.
v The final picture was one of the whole family … the whole extended family …including Lorne, Xander, Anya and JJ, Wes and Faith, Giles, Tara and Willow as well as Buffy, Spike, Dani, Billy and Annie and Miss Kitty, with her one blue eye and one green eye. Spike was happy that she hadn’t included ‘grandpa Angel’ or Cordy in the picture…
“Annie, I love it! Thank you so much!” Buffy told her sincerely, hugging Annie against her and dropping a kiss on the top of her head.
“Brilliant, Niblett,” Spike agreed, taking the book from Buffy’s hands and flipping through it again from the beginning.
A lot had happened to them this past year … of course, that wasn’t anything that unusual, but it was kind of shocking to see it all brought together in one place like that. Plus there were things not in there – things that Annie didn’t know about, like the huge battle with the armies of hell in the other dimension, like the thrall Dru had put on Spike and the fight in the pool when he nearly killed Buffy. What they had been through this last year, if chronicled thoroughly, would fill a bloody Encyclopedia Britannica. Spike hoped that next year’s scrap book would be full of happy memories … of picnics and bike rides and beaches, chocolate cakes and candy cane cookies and happy stories at bedtime and babies’ first steps and first words and that there was no need for a page with angry, frightened scrawls ever again.
“Thank you, Anne Joyce,” Spike said sincerely, looking up from the book and meeting Annie’s eyes. “I love it too. You’re a special girl…one in a million, you are, pet.”
Annie smiled proudly as Spike passed the book to Willow and she and Lorne began looking through it. Annie looked up at Tara who was still standing nearby. “Thank you for helping me, Aunt Tara,” Annie told her, still beaming with pride that her parents had liked it.
“You’re welcome, sweetie… Next year we’ll start sooner so you don’t have to do it all at the end…” Tara suggested, giving Annie a crooked smile and ruffling a hand through the top of her hair. Tara had worked hard to get the book done by Christmas. To get it bound and help Annie with writing the words she wasn’t sure of ... but it was worth it to see the pride on her face and to hear Buffy and Spike both make promises to never act so stupidly again.
Tara watched as Spike grabbed Buffy and Annie into a strong hug on the couch… Annie giggling as she got lightly smooshed between the two warriors. She knew that Buffy and Spike had vowed to stand by each other - that they had learned a hard lesson during that time they were apart, but it was good to see and hear them assure Annie of the same thing. The dark worry that she’d seen in Annie’s aura since that happened seemed to lift as Spike and Buffy hugged her between them.
Annie started tickling Spike’s sides and he yelped and wiggled to try and get free of Buffy’s hold or still Annie’s hands. Annie squealed in delight as Buffy kept Spike from escaping her tickle torture and before long they’d all tumbled off the couch onto the floor and collapsed in waves of laughter among brightly colored shreds of paper and boxes and toys …
The ruckus woke the babies up and they crawled over to see what was going on. Soon there were shrieks of laughter coming from all the Weckerlys as a round-robin tickle-fest ensued on the floor under the Christmas tree. Even Elmo couldn’t hold a light to the never-ending giggles that seemed to fill the whole mansion with joy and glee this Christmas morning.
Tara laughed as she watched them – she felt sure everything would be alright now; maybe not easy – ‘cause life on the Hellmouth would never be easy, but it would be alright – they were standing together again and that would make all the difference in the world.
More Christmas Day to come ….the rest of the gang will be here soon…
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