Hello, All(

Well, here begins Book Seven of the Peacemaker Chronicles. That ficlet that keeps on giving. I never planned for it to go this far, but here it is. I owe those of you that have read and given me comments since the beginning, many, many thanks. The story would have stopped long ago were it not for you.

As many of you know, my personal life has been a wreck since the start of book six and the passing of my grandfather. The old adage of "when it rains, it pours" has held true in my circumstance. Hence the delays in starting book seven. I did not want to let the insecurity and upheaval in my real life eaffect the story that many of you rely on to be the happier side of "what could have been.". So, please forgive the delay.

The big perk to having a pretty hard life at the moment, is that I have found some life long friends through writing this story, both directly and indirectly. People who have mentally, physically, and financially been there all the way. So, thank you to you all, especially Brat, Linda, Crystal, Bittn, Karen, Alane, J, Theresa, Melissa, Laurie and of course, my dear Kay.

Because of my personal circumstances, I cannot say, with all certainty, when the chapters will be released. I can tell you that I will release at least one a week, with my goal being two. I have some massive changes coming up in RL and it may disrupt me here and there, but I will do my best. For you.

With all that said, welcome to Book Seven. I hope that you enjoy it. As always, your comments, emails and questions make me think, and create and write, so please let me know on Always, BAPS and ff.net, what you think. This story would no longer exist without you all reminding me how much you want it, and reminding me how much I love to write.

Again, thank you all for your kindness throughout this story. I would not, nor could I, do this without you.

*Cheery Vibes*, Nimue

Title: Whispers and Sighs (Chapter One of Meant to Be)

Author: Nimue

Rating: PG -13

Pairing Buffy/Spike. Most major characters included.

Feedback: Yes, please

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Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, UPN, Fox... Just Borrowing. (With, of course, the exception of Emma and William, who belong to Buffy and Spike)

Summary: Welcome to the beginning of Book Seven of the Peacemaker Chronicles. This book is set about one year after the ending of Book Six, which puts us in about September of 2010.

Just to give you a little timeline of the Peacemaker story to date, which I had to do anyway to start up again, here are some dates of major events. This story breaks AU after Normal Again, in April 2002. In Book One, Buffy finds out that she is pregnant with Emma. Emma is then born in Book Two in what would be October 2002 (the date being 10/29/02). William was born in Book Five when Emma was three, which makes his birthday 05/30/06. River Harris, daughter of Takina and Xander born 03/9/07 and Randolph (aka Randy) Giles (yes, you got that right), son of Rupert and Anya, who insisted on the name, on 11/25/07. Lastly, Willow and Tara gave birth to a son and a daughter respectively (thanks to Oz's input) born 09/20/09. This story is then set in September 2010. Buffy and Spike have been together for eight years and hand fasted for four (August 2006). They live in the same house on Revello. Dawn is in design school and lives with her boyfriend Brian, although they live nearby. Xander and Takina are married. Officially. Giles and Anya are not. But they do their own thing. She sort of decided that the dress was too much anyway. Willow, Tara and Oz. well, that is yet to be told.

Things have been relatively quiet in Sunnydale since the last round with evil in Book Six. Just the run of the mill apocalypses. But the Windsor's have been free of attacks on Emma and their family and friends while the forces of evil regroup. That is until now. But the bad boys have a new plan, not that any of them are particularly effective. But this one is just downright mean. And the wish of a little girl is what starts it all.

Welcome back to Sunnydale 2010.

Whispers and Sighs

He walked silently for a moment, watching the cracks in the ground pass under his feaet. William was careful not to step on them. Didn't want to break anything else on mummy. Specially not her back. He was older now, but still young enough to believe in the fairy tales and superstitions. Still young enough to cling to his father's hand as they walked and trust the bigger man to make sure the monsters stayed away. That's what he did. Dad and Mum. Chased the monsters away.

"You all right, Will?" Spike asked, tugging the pensive child's hand as they walked along the tree lined sidewalk. "Seem a bit lost."

William looked up at what his face would be in in 30thirty some years. Rugged and handsome and kind. The boy squinted in the sunlight and Spike moved to block the rays from the child's face instinctively. "I'm okay," he answered quietly.

Spike stopped, the boy stopping next to him. "Been walking long enough, tot," he said quietly, leaning down and hoisting the boy up. William grumbled, but secretly was glad to be in his dad's arms. It was safe there and something bad was coming. "Want to tell me what's on your mind?"

William was quiet as Spike walked towards the school, watching the shadows in the trees covering the lane. It was a long time before he spoke. "Why is mum sad?"

Spike stopped again, amazed at the boy's uncanny ability to read his family. And River. William went into a panic clear down the road when he knew that girl was upset. Between heim and Xander, they'd thought of building some kind of ski lift between the two houses to save the frantic jog every time, but then the two men invariably huffed in disgust at each other and drank another beer.

"You're mum's not sad," Spike answered, brushing hair out of the boy's face. It was mostly true. Buffy had been a little down lately, but everyone got that way from time to time. Truth be told, Spike had as well. Much of a pleasure that those two tots of the witches had been, they were a constant reminder that Spike and Buffy would never have a normal family. A normal marriage where you make mistakes and triumphs, and love and babies when you could or would. The Fates owned their lives. Most of the time that was fine. They were The One and they had more than they could ask for.

Other times, it was a painful reality. They were at the mercy of outside forces. Their gifts came with athe price and that was that they hadof having little control. Sometimes, that made Buffy sad. And it made Spike angry because he wanted to give her everything she wanted. But he couldn't give her this. This especially. A man should be able to give his wife children. That was his job.

Spike swallowed a growl and thought of a way to explain it to the four year old who was clinging to his hip. Softly, he smiled at the boy. Too easy to forget, sometimes, that Fate gave them two perfect tots as it stood. Shouldn't be so selfish. "Think your mum just misses fussing over you when you were smaller, is all," Spike explained, ruffling the boy's hair again.

"She wants another baby?" William asked, still watching his father with serious eyes. "Coz of Loki and Kali?"

Spike shook his head. The boy was good. "Think they remind her of when you two were smaller."

"I'm still small," William said, hanging his head. He was small for his age and he knew it. One of the downsides of being premature. But he was growing now and strong and smart as a whip. But, like his father, acutely aware of his faults.

Spike set the boy on the ground, letting him walk again as they approached the school. "Not like your mum's very big and she can kick me cross the pond," Spike consoled. "And Emma's just a wee thing and she's."

"Magic," William answered, smiling, looking up at his dad's blue eyes. It made Spike smile, the raw adoration that Will had for his sister. That would change forward and back for years to come, but right now, they stuck together, with River, like the Three Musketeers.

"That she is, tot," Spike answered, walking round the back of the school to the playground. Emma was waiting with a bunch of other students, swinging languidly in the late summer air. "That she is."

"Daddy!" The little girl's voice cried out in absolute joy as she jumped off the swing and tore across the sandlot, fuzzy pink backpack slapping into her with each long stride. William was nearly hopping in place with excitement. The teachers watched the little girl hurtle through the air, landing with her legs around the attractive man in the black long sleeve shirt, and the way the man hugged her close, planting a gentle kiss in her hair.

The female teacher's sighed. And some of the males.

Mr. Windsor.


Spike waved at the gaggle of kids and teachers, shifting the 7 year old onto one hip and pulling the tot up to hang on to the other. This was a change from ten years ago. Walking away from the playground, two kids in tow, broad daylight, and nodding at the PTA. Not quite the least bit scary. But this was his life.

And he wouldn't ever go back. ~~~~~

It was a beautiful day, even if she was walking over the Hellmouth, Anya thought as she carried Randy on one hip and River on the other and strolled up the walk to Xander and Takina's house. She and Giles lived a bit further out of town now. They'd upsized their home to move the nanny in full time, and in hopes of another baby or two. Someday. But Anya insisted that Randy be in school first because she liked too fuss too much over one to have two small ones all the time. So, there were a couple of years yet.

Xander, however, had stayed close to home base and bought and renovated a house less than a block from Buffy's. Just around the end of Revello on Tulip. The house was much nicer than it had been when they'd bought it, thanks to a whole lot of help from the construction crew Xander had working for him. They were even thinking about a pool, that is if he oculdcould prove to Takina that he could safety proof it so that none of the little ones could wander in and.

Couldn't think about that.

This had become a daily summer ritual. While the days were long and Buffy was helping out with Willow and Tara's kids, Anya would watch River and Randy during the day. Xander would get home early and Anya would swing by and pick him up and they'd all meet up at the park. None of them could ever quite figure out how it started, but he showed up there one day to claim his little girl and Buffy and Spike were spread out on a blanket, mooning over the witchlets and watching Emma and Will play with River and Randy and Anya would swing on the playsetplay set, keeping an eye on them all. He ended up swinging next to her, watching them, remembering simpler times. Then someone from the Willow household would show and pick up the twins, as they'd come to be known, and they'd all just sit there and watch dusk fall. Sometimes they laughed. Sometimes they didn't speak. But always they were there.

He'd miss this when the days were short,short; Xander mused as he locked the door behind him and took River from a smiling Anya, cudllingcuddling the little girl close to his chest and kissing her forehead. She giggled, as the happy little one always did, and wrapped her arms around her daddy's neck, letting her head drop onto his shoulder.

It was a beautiful day over the Hellmouth, so Xander and Anya walked together with their kids in silence. It never crossed their minds anymore what could have been, because what *was* was so much better.

~~~~~ ~~~~~

~~~~~~~~Their hands were sticky messes, Spike thought as Will reached up to grab his father's fingers. Spike chuckled as he looked down at the boy, covered in chocolate ice cream from forehead to toes. Emma was doing slightly better, but her butter pecan was smeared all over her hands. It was warm and the napkins weren't helping.

"Not a chance, Will," Spike chided, smiling and handing his son a napkin. "You're mum is going to kill the lot of us."

"I'll help her clean up," Emma chanted, walking to her brother and dutifully wiping off his hands.

Again, Spike smiled. "Only because you don't want her to stop letting me take you for ice cream after school." The girl looked like a deer in headlights, blushing at being caught. "Don't worry, Mite. Secret's safe," he comforted, watching the grin break on her face.

They rounded the corner and before they even reached the edge of the grassy field, William was at a run. River sat on the edge of the sandbox, long dark ringlets shining in the late day sun. Emma looked back up at her dad, waiting for permission, but as soon as he began to nod, she was off.

Spike strolled behind them, watching his own dive in with the rest, completely at home and safe with each other, and with Anya and Xander watching over them like hawks. He took a moment, surveying the green, lush field, trying to spot her. He could already feel her like a sweet, white light, warming his veins, but the little rise from field to sidewalk shielded her from view.

As he crested the hill, he saw her. Buffy was stretched out on a huge blanket, staring at the clouds rolling over head. Loki, Willow and Oz's son, was stretched out on her stomach, staring up at her face. Kali, Tara and Oz's daughter, was curled in the crook of Buffy's arm, watching her quietly.

"Looks comfy," Spike purred as he stood behind Buffy, bringing her back to reality. "Got room for a Vampire who just got sized up on the sandlot in an elementary school?"

Buffy smiled, shielding her eyes and looking at her beautiful other half, standing behind her head. He stared down at her with such complete devotion. It made her heart ache with joy. "You like it," she joked.

"Like what, Pet?" Spike joked, lowering himself on the blanket next to her and pulling her head into his lap. He stroked her hair quietly as she stared up at him.

"Getting all ogled by the teaching staff," Buffy chided. "Makes you feel all manly."

"Does not!" Spike huffed with mock offense. Buffy smiled again, calling his bluff, but he wouldn't budge. "I don't."

"I see," she commented knowingly. "Brats with River?"

"Yes, the galloping horde of energy is currently wrestling in the sandbox," Spike answered.

"Covered in ice cream?"

Spike shrugged. "They're tots. Bound to be covered in something."

"Good, coz you're going to be covered in laundry detergent," she said, leaning up and letting him brush his lips to hers. "Night off tonight? I don't feel like patrolling."

Spike took a look around, sizing up the serenity of the scene. "Don't see why not, Love. Been quiet of late."

"Want to spend it with you," Buffy whispered, brushing her lips to his again. He smiled against the softness of her mouth.

"Want me to ask the git if he can have an overnight with Emma and Will?"

Buffy nodded quietly. "Yeah. Tell him we'll take them all on Friday night. Dawn can baby-sit while we patrol."

"Right then," Spike agreed, his mind reeling with devious thoughts. "So, how are the witchlets today?"

Buffy sat up, handing Loki to Spike and pulling Kali into her arms. "Are they Witchlets or Wolflets? Or is it pups?"

"Not sure," Spike answered, sitting the boy on his outstretched legs. "Handsome little devils, though."

"Pretty," Buffy corrected, brushing the wispy light brown hair out of the little girl's eyes.

"Personally, I'm thinking cute," a voice said from their right. Buffy and Spike both whipped around to see Oz standing next to the blanket. "And I thought you had Vampire hearing," Oz snarked.

"Must have been turned off," Spike countered.

"Nah, you were deafened by the power of excessive cuteness," Oz replied, nodding sagely. "Need to get them home soon. Willow and Tara were out on interviews today."

"They're going back to work?" Buffy asked, pushing herself to her feet.

"Well, part time, at least. I keep telling them that I can afford to take care of them," Oz countered, "But I think that they feel like. I dunno, like they want to make sure that they can make it on their own?"

"I don't think that," Buffy corrected, shaking her head and softly handing the little girl to her father. "Think it has more to do with grown up stuff. You know? I mean, I love having Will and Emma around, but sometimes it's nice to see adults and talk in languages that other humans understand."

"Probably just need a change of scenery, Mate," Spike contributed, situating the little boy on Oz's other hip. Both kids clung to their father, staring up at him adoringly. It had been a little strange at first, but Oz had stayed to help Tara and Willow right after the babies were born. The kids grew so attached, he grew so attached to them, and Willow and Tara just. It was best this way. Oz lived in a separate bedroom in the same flat with the girls. They were a family now. A different one, but one all the same.

"Yeah," Oz answered. "I just."

"They love having you there," Buffy interrupted. "In fact, Willow told me herself that she was all happy that you stayed."

"She did?" Oz asked brightening.

Buffy nodded. "So go. Be all, super dad."

"Plan to," Oz agreed smiling. "Thanks for watching them."

"Sure," Buffy called as the werewolf strolled away. She watched him go, cooing to his babies, remembering when Will was that little. When Emma was. She missed that.

"You all right, Love?" Spike asked, wrapping an arm around her waist.

She jumped a little, mustering a fragile smile. "Definitely. Now, where are ours? Can't believe I got the cold shoulder."

Spike sighed. "Alas, the magic of River."

Buffy returned the sigh, wrapping her fingers through her lovers'. "We're second fiddle to a three year old."

"Well, you're the whole bloody symphony to me," Spike whispered, nuzzling her shiny blonde hair. "Always."

Buffy smiled, looking up at him. His eyes. Those endless blue eyes. "Everyday, Spike."

To be contd.