"Princess…" Doyle said with a sigh.
"No!" She called back angrily.
"Princess you have to come out of there sometime." He said, leaning his head back on the wall.
"No I don't." She told him determinedly.
"But what am I gonna do if you stay in there and I'm out here?" He asked. "Then I'll be sad and cry and no one wants to see tha."
"You'll be just fine." She assured him.
"I'm gonna count to three and if I don't have a princess out here with me I'm gonna cry. 1…2…3…" He called; when no response came he started whimpering and covered his face.
"You're not really crying, you're fake-crying!" She told him but Doyle continued sobbing.
Slowly the little girl crept out from the cabinet, sneaking up on him cautiously and losing her resolve when he didn't seem to notice her presence. "You're not really crying, right Da?" She whispered worriedly, reaching out and putting her hand on his hair.
He snatched her up and her high pitched squeal echoed through the halls of the Hyperion as he tickled her. "What are you hiding for, love?" He asked after she'd been subjected to a sufficient level of tickle-torture.
His own blue eyes gazed up at him – they'd all gotten that from their father, along with his pale skin and thick, black hair. He told Cordelia he was thankful for their sake that they'd taken after her bone structure and features, though it made him dread his daughters' teen years all the more. They were stunning as children, he trembled at the thought of how beautiful they'd be come sixteen. He and Angel had spent many a night plotting ways to scare off future boyfriends. Having an overprotective vampire as a godfather and an evil-hosting half-demon for a father was going to make dating a challenge for the girls.
"Cuz you only brought us here cuz you and Mommy are going out tonight without us." She whined, sticking out her bottom lip, crossing her arms over her chest and working up her very best crocodile tears.
"Don't ya think Mommy deserves a night of fun now and then?" He asked and she shook her head feverishly as she pouted. "No?" He said with a laugh. "You know tonight is a special night, yeah?" He asked.
"Uh-huh. It's your anniver-story." She told him, stumbling over the word she'd heard her father say so many times this week.
"And she still doesn't get to go out so I can spoil her like I always spoil you?" He asked and she shook her head. "So she doesn't get to have fun…even if your Uncle Angel is watching you….and your Uncle Lorne is coming over, too?"
Her eyes widened. "Really?" She asked.
He tapped the end of her nose. "Really truly." He assured her, thankful for the meeting the group was holding tonight because the more names he could throw at his daughter the less likely a full on tantrum would be. "And Aunt Fred is gonna be here with Uncle Wesley…and Uncle Gunn is even coming, too. But noooo problem, darling – I've got you covered, just leave everything to me." He said, motioning dramatically with his hands. "Since you want us to stay home I'll tell them all that my little princess Selia says they can't see her – she'd rather we all just sit in tonight and be bored. No one's gonna keep my girl from getting her way. Stay put, I'll be right back." He told her as he started to climb to his feet and she instantly latched onto his leg.
"No!" She whined and he struggled to keep a straight face.
"What's tha?" He asked, cupping his ear. "I didn't catch what you said."
"Noooo!" She screeched shrilly.
Cordelia stood outside the door with their son in her arms trying not to laugh listening to the two of them. Doyle always seemed to know how to handle these stubborn fits with the girls – she supposed she may have been the cause for his talent; she'd given him plenty of practice before they'd been born.
"Still didn't catch you, 'no' what?" He asked.
"No – I want Uncle Angel to watch us tonight! Plleeaaseee???" She begged.
"Hmm…I don't know. I'll have to think about it." He said. "Maybe by the time I get out into the hall I'll have decided. You coming with?"
Selia grinned and hugged his leg, standing on his foot as he walked out of the room.
"So we're staying in tonight?" Cordelia asked in feigned ignorance as Doyle approached with their daughter affixed to him. "I think we should all go to bed really early if we do, get lots of rest…"
Selia paled beyond her natural complexion at the thought.
"No, you're gonna go out…cuz…cuz you deserve a night of fun now and then, don't ya think?" She repeated what her father had said, accent and all.
"The girl makes an excellent point." Doyle said with a grin, winking down at his daughter. It amused him greatly that this one was bound to develop her own thick brogue for all the time she spent trying to sound like him.
"I got rhythm…I got music…" Lorne sang as he entered the hotel lobby and Selia was off Doyle's leg like a shot.
"Lorne!" She squealed and Doyle shook his head. "Lorne! Lorne! Lorne! Lorne!" She continued, screeching his name for each of the stairs as she descended them.
"She gets her energy from you, love. I swear I get tired just watching her." He said as their daughter launched herself at the demon.
"I got my Selia clinging to my leg with a vice grip, who could ask for anything more?" Lorne sang with a laugh. "Hey there, little miss crumb-cake!" He said as he scooped her up into his arms. "Where's your sister?" He asked, looking around for her expectantly.
"Lorne! Lorne! Lorne! Lorne!" came the squealing twin voice as she burst out of Angel's office.
"And we have our missing honey-bun." Lorne said with a laugh, looking down at the little girl who hugged his leg before demanding to be picked up as well.
"Looks like we got ourselves a full house tonight." Gunn said as he entered, looking over Lorne's shoulder and making faces at the twins. "You two gonna keep us on our toes while your parents are out?"
"Yup." Selia said.
"Naturally." Shelagh said, tossing her hair over her shoulder dramatically.
"Oh, now who does she remind you of?" Doyle asked Cordy as they approached and she elbowed him playfully. Shelagh definitely took after her mother in the theatrical flair department.
"Shelagh did you – ooww!" Angel began before tripping over a toy on his way out into the lobby. "Did you take the keys to my filing cabinet and lock it again?" He asked with a sigh.
Lorne arched a brow at the guilty smile on the little girl's face. "Would you do something like that?" He asked.
"I wanted to play and he was reading too much and wasn't being any fun." She insisted.
"He does that from time to time when your Da wants to play, too." Doyle confided to her with a frown. "I usually just lock him out of his office, though. Nice move with the cabinet." He commended his daughter, giving her an impressed nod.
Angel crossed his arms over his chest and smirked. "I seem to remember being told that the 'knob is busted'."
"Hey you can't blame us for keeping you from taking life too seriously, bud." Doyle said, coaxing his daughter to give up the keys.
"Not that you need to be worrying about files." Cordelia said as she handed the baby over to Angel. "Around seven see if he's hungry; if he'll take a bottle then he should be out like a light."
"Hey little man." Angel cooed with a smile as the infant stared up at him and gripped his finger. He found it impossible to maintain his trademark stoicism whenever the baby was in his arms or the girls were crawling all over him. Smiling had become a regular occurrence since these children had come into his life. "At least Shaughn doesn't mind me reading." He said and stuck his tongue out at Shelagh as she did the same.
"Yeah …" Shelagh scoffed. "That's cuz Shaughn's a baby and doesn't know what 'boring' is yet." She told him, uncannily channeling her mother's sarcastic tone.
Angel feigned offense at her chiding, letting his mouth hang open and clutching his chest above Shaughn. His reaction earned a delighted giggle from his goddaughter.
"Truth from the mouths of babes." Doyle said with a shrug. "Can't argue with her, bud."
"Every time I hear these girls talk I grow fonder of them." A voice called from the entryway and everyone looked up, the twins grinning and wriggling to get down from Lorne's grasp as they broke into a run for the new visitor.
"Spike…you're here…why are you here?" Angel asked.
Spike tossed his cigarette out the front door and exhaled the smoke from his lungs quickly; he never smoked around the kids. "Figured I'd pop in and check if I was missing any fun..." The girls both collided with him at that point, hugging his legs as he grinned down at them. "And I was, apparently. Didn't know the twin terrors were running about or I'd have come sooner. Ello, itty-bits." He crooned as he hoisted them each up on a hip, strolling down the stairs to the rest of the group as the girls cuddled against him.
Doyle smirked and looked over at the way Angel was curling his lip. Angel and Spike might bicker worse than an old married couple over the whole Buffy fiasco but Angel hadn't been able to ignore the way Spike protected the girls, his loyalty to the twins had been as close to redemption in Angel's eyes as the man could get.
You see, half a year had passed since the fateful day when one of Doyle's visions had led him and Angel out on routine surveillance…nothing dangerous involved. The evil had been busy keeping tabs on the latest Big Bad for them but, again, nothing major was supposed to be going on…
Because the towering, multi-mouthed demon that attacked the hotel at sunset hadn't been included in Doyle's vision.
It had tossed Gunn across the room, knocking him unconscious before turning its attention to beating Wesley unmercifully. With their two protectors incapacitated a very pregnant Cordelia along with the twins had been backed into a corner, coming within a hair's breadth of losing their lives.
Spike, who at that point had only recently been brought back to life and was still on the outs with the gang, had just walked through the doors of the lobby and stood slack-jawed for a fraction of a second taking in the scene; the demon was closing in on them…Cordelia had turned her back on it and huddled down around her daughters and unborn son – leaving her back exposed in an effort to offer at least some protection to her children. He'd managed to utter a stunned 'bloody hell' before rushing in to save them and nearly getting himself killed in the process.
Eyes swollen shut, bleeding profusely and trying to heal from the beating he'd endured he sat amid the broken glass with his back propped up against the counter beside Cordelia, squeezing her hand in support as she struggled to stop crying. The girls clung to him, telling their Mommy with complete certainty that he had been 'sent' to them; that it was his 'destiny' to be the 'champion' for the 'seers' and that his protection of them had been 'foretold'. With a look of disbelief on her face and a hand pressed to her swollen belly she'd noted it was the first time she'd heard them using these terms; the rule was no one talked about prophecies around her or the twins – she knew no one had ever explained to them the concepts of destinies or someone being a champion for the Powers That Be.
Cordelia hadn't been able to look at Spike the same since then.
The evil had apparently checked in on them around that point and found the place a wreck – doing a headcount, finding that everyone was alive and telling Doyle and Angel to get their asses home pronto. It had been then that it informed them it would never again be leaving Cordelia and the children without the two of them there to protect them.
Doyle had raced in through the broken doors in a blind panic with Angel hot on his trail, sliding in beside them on the floor and holding the three (well, four) of them frantically as he dealt with the terror of having almost lost them. Angel had stared at his family with tear-filled eyes, looking over at Spike in confusion and wondering how he played into the chaos. When Doyle finally calmed down enough to relax his hold his daughters informed him that the man he'd once hated had just saved their lives. From that point on Spike had been a close friend. Even Angel hadn't been able to hide his gratitude for the bastard, the three of them drinking together to excess that night and many nights since.
The evil even liked Spike, telling Doyle and Angel that it found not a shadow of a doubt in Spike's mind of how willing he was to die for the twins that were currently snuggling under his chin and playing with the collar of his leather duster.
"You two off to shag like rabbits and bring on more tykes to make fun of Angel, are you?" Spike asked Doyle and Cordelia arched a brow at him.
"What's 'shag'?" Selia asked.
"Carpet." Angel answered quickly, giving Spike a warning glare.
"That doesn't make sense." Shelagh said, looking up at Spike quizzically.
"Spike rarely does, love." Doyle told her and she grinned.
"We like him anyway." Selia said as she played with his necklace. "He's funny."
"Well there ya have it." Spike told Angel with a smile. "I'd be the funny one, while you, apparently are the boring one."
Everyone in the room groaned, muttering 'not this again' as Spike and Angel scowled at one another.
Selia and Shelagh broke in on the moment. "Catch! Catch! Catch!" Both of the little girls started squealing in unison without warning and Spike flinched at their outbursts beside his ears, muttering an anguished 'bollocks!' as he was unable to cover his aching eardrums from the assault.
Doyle, however, tensed up expectantly at their words, Gunn and Angel both diving for him the instant before the vision hit. As always he fought to keep as much control as possible so as not to scare his daughters but they had never seemed to be worried by his visions. In fact, they'd been acting as his personal impending-vision-alert system since they were old enough to talk, somehow able to sense their approach before he or even the evil could. He slowly opened his eyes, thanking Gunn and Angel as he pressed the heel of his hand against his forehead.
"That was a bad one. Da needs a pen, paper and…" Shelagh began.
"Single malt scotch…you'd best make it a double." Selia told her Uncle Angel emphatically, once again mimicking her father's brogue to perfection and Angel smirked. She had a habit of talking to him the way her father did which was always exceedingly comical.
"I'm fine, girls." Doyle assured them.
"You're no good at lying, Da. Your head still hurts real bad." Selia insisted.
"Yup. Mommy, Da needs aspirinses. He's doing his 'pretend it doesn't hurt' thing again." Shelagh said.
Doyle smiled over at her. "Tattle-tale." He told her and she grinned triumphantly.
"No! No bad visions, not tonight." Cordelia whined as she fished the aspirin bottle out of her purse and handed them to Doyle. "I just got all dressed up and even managed not to get spit-up on for once!"
"You're looking great, by the way." Doyle told her with a wink. "And hey, you still manage to pull off spit-up somehow."
"Shut up." She said with a smile and rolled her eyes. "This is serious. We've been trying to get out for months."
It's nothing major, princess. I can handle it. The evil assured her, making sure everyone in the room could hear it as always. It had become necessary over the years in order to keep everyone in the loop.
In the beginning it had never sent its voice to the girls…then came the day when Shelagh had impatiently informed it that they had always been able to hear it. To say the evil had been unnerved by the experience of a child speaking to it like it was failing to comprehend something would be a drastic understatement. He'd been more than a little disappointed to find that while Cordelia was able to open her emotions to him at will the twins were just as easily able to shut him out of their heads. The revelation had put a kink in his earlier belief that they'd never be able to sneak one by on their Da with him around to snoop.
"Just a nasty demon in the sewers that's hatching. He can take care of it." Doyle said and Angel nodded for him to go ahead. As long as it didn't involve any innocents they let the evil do its thing. The only outward indication of the evil leaving Doyle's body were the goose bumps on his arms, another attempt to shield the girls from anything traumatic – though he figured a day was coming when they'd tell him they could always see him as well.
"Hatching demon?" Wesley asked, walking into the lobby with Fred on his arm.
"Nothing to worry about." Doyle told him as Cordelia smoothed his shirt and hair, trying to make him look presentable again after his round of playing with their daughter and then getting hit with the vision. The man was impossible to keep looking groomed for these reasons.
"Hey girls! We gonna have fun tonight?" Fred asked, walking up beside Spike and smiling as they each stretched away from him and wrapped an arm around her for a hug.
"Yup – we're not gonna let Uncle Angel be boring at all." Shelagh insisted.
"Well there goes any chance of research…" Wesley sighed.
Back – and that thing was all kinds of ugly, let me tell ya. The evil laughed. You two enjoy yourselves, we'll hold down the fort.
"Sounds good to me, we're outta here. You girls be good and listen to your Uncle Angel, okay?" Cordelia said sternly as she hugged her daughters.
"Yes, Mommy." The girls said in their tone of feigned innocence.
Doyle waited until Cordelia was out of earshot before whispering to them with a grin, "Be sure to keep him on his toes for your Da, though." They both smiled mischievously and nodded as he kissed their cheeks. Spike gave him a mischievous smirk of his own to assure Doyle there'd be no rest for Angel tonight.
Four hours later Doyle and Cordelia returned, pushing the doors of the hotel and giving one another knowing smiles seeing the mess in the lobby.
Gunn was asleep in one of the chairs with a pink feather boa draped around his neck. Fred was curled up in a chair next the counter, her hair pulled up impossibly high on her head with dozens of pink barrettes and an insane amount of makeup was covering her face. These were signs that the first round of the girls' assault had been devoted to 'dress up' – Gunn and Fred had apparently fallen in the battle.
They found Wesley sitting behind the counter and he gave them an exhausted smile when he looked up from the book he was reading. He smirked over at his sleeping wife to ensure they'd noted what the twins had done to her before pressing a finger to his mouth and pointing at Angel's office.
As quietly as possible they pushed the door – but immediately had to grab one another and race out into the lobby to control their laughter. After a minute of silent hysterics they crept into the office again, smiling and shaking their heads at the scene.
Angel was passed out on the floor with a twin on either side of him nestled into the crooks of his arms, pink barrettes in his hair, the three of them covered in toys and books and the entire office looking like a tornado had swept through it. A blanket from the couch had been draped over them and they looked up knowing who would have done it.
Lorne slowly opened his eyes where he'd been sleeping beside the baby's crib with his hand on the little guy's back. Spike was on the other side of the crib passed out with his hand similarly draped over the infant's tiny fist. Lorne smirked at the poses of the sleeping vampires and climbed to his feet silently, motioning for Cordelia and Doyle to follow him out into the lobby and closing the door behind them.
"Story time?" Cordelia whispered and Lorne nodded.
"They never get tired of that big softy curling up with them to tell stories. I think it's because the books seem to change every time he reads them." Lorne told her with a smile. "Dr. Seuss becomes a lot more gripping with Angel doing the narration, let me tell you. And with Spike there to egg him on? Forget about it. For starters, did you know that Horton heard a Howler demon, not a 'Who'? Yeah, tonight it was a coming-of-age tale about learning to face the minions of hell while maintaining relationships with friends and family – really riveting stuff."
Doyle grinned. "That settles it – I've gotta stick around for the next one."
Cordelia arched a brow. "And did this story they were telling our little girls at any point contain the words 'decapitate' or 'dismember'?"
Lorne opened his mouth hesitantly and Doyle cut in.
"So I see you and Gunn managed to avoid makeup this time around, congratulations." He said, smirking at Cordelia's scowl that he'd avoided her hearing the answer to her question.
"Fred really took one for the team on that one. I think her cheeks are gonna be rosy for a month. And poor Gunn, with all the chasing and giving piggy-back rides he's gonna be out of commission for the next few days. Everybody had a blast, even Mr. Stuffy over there was playing hide and seek with them." Lorne said, inclining his head in Wesley's direction as the man raised his book to block his face from view.
Doyle smirked at how Wesley never seemed to want to own up to cutting loose with the children.
"Did they get into it again?" Cordelia asked.
Lorne laughed. "Oh, you mean the debate over which role is more significant – godfather or champion? Yeah they did, Angel went with the old 'well at least they call me Uncle' bit which Spike countered with the 'they don't call me Uncle cuz unlike family you can actually pick your friends – means they chose me and got saddled with you straight outta the womb' line. That of course sparked the competition for who could make the girls laugh more…and just between me, you two and the fence post? I think little Miss Selia and Shelagh egg them on and make it worse on purpose. Who can blame'em, though – am I right? Those two big lugs go gaga over those girls…at this rate they're liable to grow up and develop crushes, I mean can you imagine when they hit the boy-crazy phase and realize those guys are never gonna stop looking the way they do? And with them always around saving the day you've gotta figure…" Lorne stopped rambling at that point, eyeing the stunned expression on Doyle's face and realizing this wasn't the sort of thing a father wanted to contemplate.
Doyle's coloring was going paler than usual at the thought of his daughters one day hitting him with, 'Da – I'm in love with (insert Angel/Spike here)'.
Lorne cleared his throat, quickly changing the subject as Cordelia smiled at him knowingly and rubbed Doyle's back. "So what about you two crazy kids – how was your night?" He asked.
"Wonderful." Cordelia said with a contented smile. "A nice, quiet, romantic dinner – time to talk about things not involving demons or diapers which is tough to accomplish these days." She said in an impressed tone, looking over to Doyle who nodded in agreement. "Annndd…check out my present!" She beamed, holding up her wrist for inspection.
"Nice! You know, if this boy puts any more diamonds on you I'm gonna have to start wearing sunglasses when you walk through the door." Lorne teased which only made her grin wider.
"We had a great time. No crying or tantrums, well, other than Doyle when I wouldn't let him stop by a sports bar on the way here to get a few more drinks and check the scores." Cordelia said in feigned annoyance before elbowing her husband playfully.
Doyle shrugged. "Hey, it always works for the girls, figured it was worth a try. On a more successful note I did, however, manage to talk Cordy here into another little one." He said, grinning at Lorne over her shoulder as he wrapped his arms around her and kissed the side of her head.
"You seem to start pleading for another baby every year or so until she gives in…just how many tykes are you planning on having?" Lorne asked with a laugh.
Doyle thought about it for a second. "Don't know…never thought of an actual number…say, how many babies can a woman have?" He asked and Cordelia rolled her eyes, wriggling out of his grasp and smacking his chest as he winked at her.
"I'm gonna go wake them up, try not to make any further plans for my body while I'm gone, k?" She said, kissing his cheek, whispering something in his ear that made him bite his lip before going back to Angel's office.
"Woo…a lucky man, Lorne…what a lucky man I am…" Doyle breathed and Lorne smiled over at him.
"Cupcake, we both know you don't need to tell me anymore about how much you worship that girl – the first time you sang at the club I had to jump back out of reading you before I fell in love with her. The two of you really have something special, it's nice to have around this group – keeps things from getting too bad when they…you know…get too bad." Lorne rambled…but the second Cordelia was in the office he caught Doyle's elbow and led him to the other side of the lobby. "Listen, I know the golden rule around here about not bringing up prophecies and stuff in front of Cordelia..." He began in an excited whisper.
Doyle arched a brow at the way he was being ushered along and looked up at the awe in Lorne's eyes. "Right…" He said suspiciously.
"But the princesses did something new tonight." He said quietly.
"Tried to put makeup on Angel?" Doyle asked hopefully.
"No…they…told me they wanted to sing for me." Lorne said softly, looking down at Doyle and smiling brightly. "And I gotta tell you, strudel – I think you might actually want to hear this."
Well? :D What d'ya think? Leave me something even if it's two words (since this fic was well over 84,000 that's not asking too much, right? LOL) I know a great many readers worry that they 'don't know what to say' in reviews but just say whatever comes to mind! (Unless of course it's negative, in that case – in the words of Spike, "Sod off!" ;) ha-ha)
Speaking of Spike, I realize his arc gets a bit murky since in the series he was made corporal by Lindsey and I killed him already, but being how characters never really die in the Whedon-verse I figured you could fill in the blanks whichever way you see fit :D
I hope you enjoyed this – and remember, "If you read it, FEED it!"
Thanks for reading!