Note: It's been a fun journey with Jack-Jack and Jilly and Buffy and Faith; thanks to those who came along for the ride. :) I can't thank everyone enough who left feedback or even a comment along the way. It really does mean a lot to me :) And thanks to Bobina for her wonderful beta work and for sticking through to the end. On to After The Fall I go!
Disclaimer: No actual babies were harmed in the making of this chapter. =P
Five months came and went quickly. There had been lots of good times without a doubt; Buffy and Faith watched their beautiful baby daughter grow before their very eyes, watched Jackson adapt and take a liking to being a big brother, and got a real sense of how a family depends on one another.
It had also been a very trying time too. They soon realized that while Buffy had experienced a rough pregnancy and labor and had a baby that was damned near perfect, Faith's relatively easy pregnancy and delivery had definitely not yielded the same results. Jillian drew people in with her dark eyes and thick dark hair but quickly drove them away with her near-constant crying and generally cranky demeanor.
Buffy and Faith really didn't know what to do with her at first. Jackson had been so quiet and mild-tempered, never making a fuss except for when he was tired or hungry. Jillian just cried for the sake of crying though, it seemed. The only time she was quiet was when she was naked or being held, and sometimes even that wasn't enough. She seemed to take instantly to Buffy, though, who coddled her and gave her everything she wanted.
Faith, however, wasn't having any of that.
She and Jillian would sit and have a staring contest for ten minutes, neither of them willing to budge. It would end with either Jillian crying or Faith finally giving in with Buffy's gentle prodding. Buffy clearly had a very soft spot for the little girl that was just like Faith in appearance as well as attitude.
Things seemed to improve a little as she got older but they still had to tread carefully. They never knew when she would flip from happy to hellspawn.
Meanwhile, Jackson did everything he could to be helpful. He didn't like seeing Buffy and Faith stressed out. Besides, they were generally too busy for playtime so he had to find other ways to spend time with them. Of course he always found something better to do when it came to diaper changing time, but no one could blame him for that.
Jillian sure could clear a room pretty quickly when it came to itty-bitty-baby-body-odor.
"Christ, B. What the hell are we feeding this kid?"
Faith's shirt was up over her nose, leaving only her eyes and furrowed brow visible.
"It's just your standard baby formula, Faith. The very same stuff Jack used to eat."
"Shit, have we had it sitting around that long? Maybe it's expired."
"It's a fresh can," Buffy said, rolling her eyes. "Obviously her stomach disagrees with it."
"Yeah, and my nose disagrees with the smell coming from her."
"Don't be crude, Faith, it's not that bad. Besides, I just changed her. Here, take a whiff."
She picked Jillian up and held her with her butt facing out, then proceeded to get closer toward a quickly retreating Faith.
"What? That's sick, B! Keep that stinkin' kid away from me!" Faith quickly grabbed Jackson and held him in front of her like some kind of a protective shield.
Jackson wiggled and giggled and leaned his head back against Faith's shoulder, trying to keep as far back as he could as well. He knew that the best part was coming up.
"Hey, she's your stinkin' kid too!" Buffy exclaimed, closing the distance more quickly than Faith could put between them, stepping clumsily backwards. "Tell your Mom, Jillybean."
Jillian chose that moment to make a raspberry sound, letting a nice string of drool leave her pouty little lips to land on her bib. Both Faith and Jackson grimaced at the sound.
"Yo, was that from her mouth or her butt?"
"Eww," Jackson added for effect, screwing his face up a little in mock disgust.
Jillian started to coo and her little arms thrashed around excitedly. Buffy smiled and gave her a big smooch on both of her cheeks, then held her a little bit tighter as her friendly smile turned into a grin. Jillian grinned – actually grinned! – back. It was time to let her brother and Mom know who was boss.
Suddenly Buffy took off running toward Faith and Jackson, turning Jillian around so that she was facing their prey. Jackson squealed with delight and Faith hoisted him up over her shoulder before taking off across the room and down the stairs. They dodged piles of toys and baskets of laundry, baby gates and building blocks. Faith stumbled several times but it was mostly for show; she knew how much Jackson got a kick out of their little games of family chase.
"You keep that stinky baby away from us!" Faith yelled with a huge smile on her face.
They ran into the kitchen where Faith and Jackson stayed on one side of the large table while Buffy and Jillian ended up on the other side. Buffy tried left, then right, but she couldn't quite catch Faith. Instead she held Jillian under her armpits and held her out over the table, bringing her closer to Faith and Jackson.
"Eww, stinky Jilly!" Jackson yelled, dramatically pinching his nostrils closed with his chubby little fingers.
Faith set Jackson down on the ground and urged him around the side of the table and toward the living room. "Save yourself, buddy!"
He skidded and slid in his little footed-pajamas until he was clear of Buffy and Jillian. When he reached the wall in the hallway, he stood on the other side and peeked around it so that he could still watch the fun.
"Whatcha gonna do without your little shield, Faithy?" Buffy taunted, making Jillian dance around in the air.
"Doesn't really matter, does it?" Faith taunted back, a big grin on her face. "No matter how hard you try, you know you ain't gonna make it around this table to catch me. You might be fast but you're also holdin' El Stink-o."
"Hmm," Buffy said, a small frown appearing on her face as she realized that Faith was right. "I guess you're right," she conceded.
"Glad you're finally seein' things my way."
Faith let down her defenses for only a millisecond before Buffy took advantage of it. Maybe she couldn't get around the table quickly enough to get to Faith, but that didn't mean that Jillian couldn't.
Suddenly Jillian was airborne and sailing over the dinner table, her little arms flailing about as she giggled happily. Faith had no choice but to reach out and catch the little stink-bomb, just like Buffy knew she would.
"No fair, B! I didn't know we were allowed to throw 'em!" Faith said as she held Jillian out a good foot away from her body.
"We never established rules, Fai," Buffy teased as she began taking steps backwards toward the hallway.
Faith looked down at Jillian, then grinned and started taking steps towards Buffy who was now using a giggling Jackson as a shield.
"Let's show 'em how it's done, Jillybean."
And in a flash they were taking off after Buffy and Jackson across the house, leaving a mess of toys and now-unfolded piles of clothes in their wake.
Mothers of the year they certainly were not, but they sure knew how to make their own fun.
It was well after midnight and the house was finally quiet after a long and hectic day. Buffy and Faith were upstairs getting ready for bed having just finished cleaning the kitchen and living room from Jillian's First Birthday party. They'd had a houseful of family and friends there for the better part of the day and, as happy as they were to have everyone over, they were even happier now that they were gone.
Jillian had actually behaved for most of the day, saving her crying and tantrums for when she was due her nap and when Jackson had tried to nab one of her birthday gifts. You'd think a one-year-old wouldn't realize that one of her new toys went missing but she surely did and she surely let everyone know her displeasure.
She definitely seemed to be a bit better behaved these days though, like she'd grown more comfortable in her own body. Giles had actually come up with a theory that her often tempestuous disposition up to that point wasn't actually her own doing. He believed that she wasn't your average everyday ordinary child but rather something much more special: a pure Slayer. The essence of the slayer had been passed on to her from both Buffy and Faith and - rather than manifesting by being called at a later date - presented itself immediately upon birth. Perhaps even after conception.
Faith had always joked that the baby kicked like a soccer player, so maybe Giles' theory wasn't that far off.
In any case, as Jillian grew, the slayer inside of her became less confused and irritable. From the moment that she gained just the tiniest bit of independence, she seemed to calm down a little. She was walking by the time she was nine-months-old and could nearly beat up her brother by the time she'd turned one.
Needless to say, Jackson wasn't very impressed by that. He was impressed, however, by the way Jillian would stumble back and fall over when he'd use one of his defensive spells.
Trouble or not, he wasn't going to let his little sister trounce him just for her own amusement.
And just like Jillian was getting stronger every day, Jackson's powers grew at the same rate. Willow spent time with him every day, not only trying to help him balance his own power but also teaching him things that could one day save him.
Though they'd been lucky to avoid it so far, everyone still worried that some crazy demon faction would one day find out about the children of the slayers and try to harm them. If that time ever came, they needed to be sure the kids could protect themselves.
So Jackson learned every defensive spell they could teach him and even a few mild offensives ones too, and Jilly . . . well, they just let Jilly take out her aggression as needed. They still weren't quite sure what to do about her yet.
"Oh man, not another rainstorm."
Buffy walked over to the opened window and looked outside at the falling rain before closing it tightly. She hoped it didn't turn into another thunderstorm; the kids hated thunderstorms and the last thing she wanted was two scared kids in her bed tonight. The bed creaked behind her and she turned to find Faith laying across it in a silly yet oddly sexy pose.
"Now? Really?" she asked, a playful smile on her face as she watched Faith scramble around the bed and kick the covers off of it.
"Hell yeah. You're walkin' around in your underoos, B. Of course I'm horny."
"I could be wearing a burlap sack and you'd still be horny," Buffy said as she approached the bed and stopped just a step away from it.
"Ooh, save that for next time."
All fun banter was put aside when Faith grabbed Buffy's hand and pulled her down onto the bed. Buffy slipped down onto the mattress and smiled as Faith moved above her, letting her long dark hair fall around her face. Buffy brought her hands up and pushed Faith's hair back, keeping her hands on the side of her head with her thumbs on her temples.
"But you know as well as I do that the first second this turns into a thunderstorm, the kids are gonna be in here with us."
"Then we'll just have to be very, very quick," Faith breathed against her lips as she leaned down to kiss her.
Their lips met and that old passion ignited in them once again, never dormant for long. It didn't matter how hectic their lives had gotten; they still craved one another more than ever and had no problem showing each other that, no matter how tired they were or how stressful their day was.
"Jack can walk in here at any minute," Buffy said in a hushed tone as Faith kissed and nibbled along her jaw.
"I locked the door," Faith mumbled, making Buffy chuckle a little.
Her fingers were already making quick work of Buffy's t-shirt, gliding along Buffy's skin as she pushed it up above her breasts. The cool air of the room kissed her skin and Buffy sighed, turning her head to the side so Faith had better access to her neck. Their breathy sighs and moans filled the room, but definitely not as loud as the thunder that seemed to boom from just outside their window, making them both jump.
"Jeez-ass!" Faith exclaimed, turning to look out the window.
"Could that have gotten any closer?"
"Yeah, maybe if it'd come from inside the friggin' house."
Jillian's wails immediately sounded from the room just down the hall, amplified by the baby monitor that was on their bedside stand. Buffy and Faith groaned simultaneously; of course it had to thunder just then! Faith rested her body fully down on top of Buffy with her head on her breasts and just lay there, disappointed. Buffy ran her fingers through Faith's hair, unable to hide her disappointment as well.
"You should go and check on her," Buffy said.
Faith lifted up her head and raised an eyebrow as she looked down at Buffy.
"No, you should go and check on her."
"You're kinda on top of me."
"Yeah, but I can move."
"Then why aren't you?"
". . . cos I'm comfy?" Faith tried, a pitiful pout on her face.
Buffy couldn't help but smile but she wasn't going to let this one go that easily. She gave Faith's ass a playful slap and tried to push her up.
"It's your turn."
"Yeah, well whoever invented this whole 'turn' system should be shot."
"That'd be you, dear."
"Oh. Well, then you should put me outta my misery and go get the baby."
They both chuckled a little and Faith buried her face between Buffy's breasts, refusing to re-surface even though Buffy was playfully poking her sides. If someone didn't go get Jillian soon, Jack was going to . . .
"It's ok, Jillybean," came a voice from over the baby monitor.
Both Buffy and Faith looked over at it, surprise on their faces.
"Well that's new," Buffy said.
Jackson had found his way into Jillian's bedroom and was trying to soothe her. Surprisingly, her screaming stopped and the only distinguishable sounds were of a soft patting and Jillian sucking on her pacifier.
"That's my boy," Faith said proudly. "And since he's in there takin' care of business . . ." she trailed off and wiggled her eyebrows.
Suddenly there was a bright flash followed by a boom so loud that the house literally shook. The shaking was followed by a loud crash coming directly through the baby monitor.
Buffy and Faith were out of their room and running down the hall in a flash. They pushed opened the door to Jillian's bedroom and stopped dead in their tracks to see the old oak tree from the back yard resting comfortably through the ceiling and on the crib.
"Jilly!" Buffy shouted, running to the crib and tossing branches and blankets aside to find it empty. She quickly spun around and stopped dead in her tracks when she saw a faint blue glow from behind the door.
Faith was already pulling the door back before Buffy could move and they both sighed with relief when they saw Jackson huddled with Jillian in his arms, the blue glow of a protection spell surrounding them both. Faith and Buffy ran forward together and dropped to their knees next to the kids, checking them immediately over for injury.
"It's okay, Ma, I protect us," Jackson said as he looked up at Buffy and Faith, a small scrape on his forehead. Jillian was oddly quiet and looking up at Buffy with teary eyes.
Buffy wrapped her arms around both kids and cried silently knowing that they were both okay. Faith leaned in and wrapped her arms around them too, taking a deep breath and sighing with relief as she rested her chin atop Buffy's head.
It was the first time Jackson had used a spell to protect his sister rather than using one against her. And thanks to him, they were both alive right now. Maybe this marked a turning point in Jackson and Jillian's often tumultuous relationship.
"Yeah, definitely new," Faith mumbled before closing her eyes and letting the silent tears fall as well.
Faith was resting down on one knee in front of Jackson, fixing his shirt and making sure that his hair was still looking good. He'd told her that his little mohawk had to be just right today and they'd spent the better part of the morning in the bathroom, fixing it up with mousse and hairspray. It wasn't tall by any means – Buffy wouldn't let them get away with that – but it was as mohawky as a five-year-old could get his hair.
"Does it look okay, Mom?"
"You look handsome, buddy. All the girlies are gonna be chasin' after ya."
"Eww, gross." Jackson screwed up his face with disgust. Girls had cooties!
Well, except for his moms. And Jilly. And Auntie Dawn and Willow.
But Auntie Kennedy definitely had cooties.
"You won't be sayin' that ten years from now," Faith mumbled but quickly changed her tone to appear more optimistic. "You sure you're ready for this, Jack-Jack?"
"Faith, if you keep asking him he might change his mind," Buffy said from her spot just behind them.
Faith turned her head and looked up at Buffy who was holding an anxious Jillian's hand. This was a big day for all of them, not just Jack, and while Buffy was taking it in stride, Faith seemed to be struggling with it.
Jackson was her little man. She wasn't ready to let him go just yet.
"Hey, he should be free to change his mind if he wants."
"It's kindergarten, Faith. He's actually not allowed to change his mind; he has to go."
"Yeah, but if he wanted to stay home another year he could. He's already smarter than half the kids in there anyhow. He can just start late next year," Faith said. She quickly looked back at Jackson to make sure he'd heard her.
He obviously had, judging by the way he was looking at her with a smile on his face.
"It's okay, Mom. I'm ready."
Jackson nodded in response, picked up his little backpack and slung it over his shoulder. Faith had to fight the urge to ruffle his hair and instead risked embarrassing him by leaning in and giving him a quick, tight hug.
"Be good," Buffy said as she walked over and planted a soft kiss on his forehead.
"I will, Ma. Bye Jilly."
Jilly responded by crossing her arms over her chest and pouting perfectly like Buffy. She might have looked exactly like Faith but she still had some very distinguishable Buffy qualities. The pout was number one.
They all stood and watched as Jackson walked off on his own toward the playground next to the school where the rest of his classmates were waiting for him. His teacher and an aide were watching over the children as they played, making sure to keep some semblance of order before heading inside to start their first day of class.
Faith sat down on the park bench and watched, looking both nostalgic and uncomfortable at the same time.
"I don't like this. Can't we just take him home, B?"
"Yeah, take Jack-Jack home," Jilly copied as Buffy sat down on the bench next to Faith.
"No can do. He's five, Faith. It's time for him to go to school like every other kid out there."
"But he's not like every other kid out there. He's better," Faith aid with a smirk.
Buffy wanted to be angry and correct Faith but she just couldn't. As much as she knew that all kids were equal, she still knew deep down inside that hers were better. Take that, other kids!
They sat and watched Jackson play for awhile, smiling when he helped a little girl up the steps to the slide and then promptly wiped his hand off on the back of his pants. When one of the swings freed up, he ran over and began to hop on when another little boy came over and pushed him away from it. Within seconds the little boy was on it and swinging away with a taunting smile on his face.
"Did you see that?" Faith asked, standing up from the bench ready to lash out. "That kid took Jack's turn on the swing!"
"Faith, sit down. The teachers will handle it."
"Man, that little punk is so lucky Jack didn't blast him with some kinda spell, turn him into a frog."
"Oh god, don't even joke," Buffy said. "That's all we need on his first day of . . ." Buffy trailed off and stood up, immediately looking behind the bench. "Faith, where's Jilly?"
"What?" Faith asked as she quickly took a look around them too. "You just had her a second ago. She . . . oh shit."
Faith pointed toward the playground and Buffy followed her gaze to see Jillian walking determinedly toward the swing with a little swagger in her step that was apparent even in her little yellow dress. They began to walk – quickly – toward her but it was too late; she grabbed one of the chains and shook it until the little boy fell from the swing.
Slayer strength be damned!
"Jilly, no!" Buffy shouted out as she walked a little bit more quickly.
The boy was off the ground in an instant and, being bigger than Jilly, was able to knock her down to the ground with a single push. As she fumbled around getting up while the little boy laughed, a sudden burst of blue light surrounded him and pushed him backwards until he landed butt-first in a muddy puddle behind the swings. By now the teachers were running over along with Buffy and Faith and were too busy helping the boy up to notice Jack's eyes glowing a bring blue from the top of the slide.
Both Buffy and Faith glared at him while they made apologies for Jilly and pretended to be completely surprised at the sudden jolt that had sent the kid flying into the puddle. It was quite the scene and they grabbed Jillian and made their way home before things could get any crazier.
Jilly received a stern lecture which she completely ignored while she played with her little dolls. She didn't seem to think she'd done anything wrong; clearly the slayer instinct to protect was strong in her and she hadn't been able to fight it. And while Buffy and Faith were upset over what had happened, neither of them could stop smirking when thinking about the little bully sailing through the air and right into the mud puddle.
When it was time for Jillian's nap, Buffy and Faith had asked Willow and Giles to come over for an impromptu meeting. With Giles as the Head of the new Council and Willow in charge of all things magic, they knew that their input on such matters was important, doubly so because they were also their friends.
"So what you're saying is that Jack used his powers in public, as did Jillian?" Giles asked. At Buffy's nod, he continued, "Well I dare say that's an alarming reality. We've always had to keep a tight lid on slayer and magic capabilities at all costs, but we've never before had the task of having to do that with such small children."
"It's difficult because of the impetuous nature of children," Willow added. "They react based on emotions, and children don't have the nature to keep such emotions in check. I've worked with Jack on control but . . . he's five, guys. He's going to slip up now and again."
"Yeah, but we can't have that when he's at school," Faith said.
"And Jilly doesn't even know her own strength," Buffy added. "She's only two and she's broken toys, furniture, even walls with her tantrums. We can't control that, as much as we try."
The mood became suddenly somber as they all took in the reality that their children weren't normal and would never have a normal childhood with the way things seemed to be going.
After a brief stretch of silence, Willow cleared her throat to get their attention.
"There's always another possibility. It's not something you've taken into consideration before because we've been determined to teach them to defend themselves, but . . . maybe it's time we put the idea on the table."
"What idea is that?" Faith asked, her brow furrowed. She didn't like it already and she didn't even know what it was.
Willow shared a look with Giles and he nodded, ready to take the reins on this one.
"Willow and I have thought this might happen at some point and we've discussed it at length. It's a temporary solution but we believe that binding their powers until they're of an age that they can control them is the best and safest option."
"Binding their powers?" Buffy asked, her hand sliding into Faith's. "Is that even possible?"
"It's been done for centuries among Wiccans," Willow replied. "I can easily bind Jack's powers so that I can restore them at a later date, or so that they revert back to him in the event that anything happens to me. It's a simple spell; I can do it now if you have some ribbon and a picture of him. But Jilly, well . . . she's a different story."
"Because despite her witchy demeanor, she's not magical," Buffy said with a timid smile.
"Exactly," Willow said. "But we used to scythe to activate slayers, and we can use it to deactivate them too, if needed. I can store the essence of the slayer in the scythe, but the thing is that Jilly is still destined to be a slayer. If we don't' restore the essence to her at some point, she'll be called when she's sixteen or so anyhow."
Buffy and Faith looked at one another, their eyes saying more than words ever could.
"But we can offer her a normal childhood? No beating up her friends, no hulk-like accidents?"
"Precisely," Giles answered.
The four friends went over the pros and cons a little while longer before a decision was made. It was difficult for Buffy and Faith to make a decision like that; they wanted their children to be normal, but they also wanted them to be safe. Taking away their one natural defense seemed ridiculous knowing what they did about what lurks in the darkness, but they also knew that they'd always be there for the kids and never let anything bad happen to them.
Just so happened that they had an army of slayers and wiccans behind them too, all willing to put their lives on the line for the two kids they'd all come to love as siblings.
When it came time to go and pick up Jack, Faith went to get him alone so she could talk to him a bit about what had happened on the playground. Buffy was the disciplinarian, but Faith had a way of getting through to Jack in a way no one else could. Buffy had stayed behind with a still-napping Jillian who woke only moments before Jackson and Faith returned.
And just like normal, Jackson and Jillian fell into their usual routine when they first saw each other after a long time apart. Jackson stood with his arms out and a huge smile on his face while Jillian stood about twenty steps away, scuffing her feet like a bull. It was always a fun game to watch, Jillian using her slayer strength to try to knock Jackson over while he used a defensive spell to try to keep her back.
Jillian charged at Jackson and a look of pure confusion crossed his face as he tried – unsuccessfully – to block her attack. She ended up barreling into him with all of the strength of a two-year-old and barely moved him. They looked completely perplexed and Jillian even tried head-butting him in the stomach a few times to see if she could knock him over like that.
"What happen?" Jilly asked, rubbing her head.
"Mom?" Jackson asked, looking up at Buffy and Faith with worried eyes.
"We're gonna try life without powers for a while, guys," Faith said as casually as possible.
Buffy moved to her side and wrapped her arm around Faith's back in a show of solidarity.
"What? Why?" Jackson asked, trying to ignore the way Jilly was still head-butting him.
"Because we don't want to see anyone hurt, especially after what happened this morning. We want you both to be young and have fun and not worry about having to hide a part of yourselves," Buffy explained. "It's not forever, Jack. We're going to try it for six months and see how it goes. Auntie Willow can reverse it at any time, but we're going to try to be a normal family even if it kills us."
Faith cleared her throat and Buffy realized herself, an impish smile on her face.
"What do I do until then?" he asked, pulling out the Buffy-pout that he reserved for rare occasions.
"Just be young, kiddo," Faith said, giving his shoulder a little squeeze. "Play in the mud, shave a dog; do whatever it is kids do."
"Fine, then I want a puppy and a new bike," he said, crossing his arms over his chest.
Bargaining skills. Clearly he'd been spending too much time with Aunt Dawn.
"A puppy!" Faith said incredulously, a smile as big as Buffy's appearing on her face.
Jillian's eyes lit up at the mention of a puppy and – like Jackson had when he was her age – she began barking in her little girly voice. She started crawling around on all fours and looked up at them with a mischievous look upon her face.
"Looks like ya got a puppy right there, Jack-Jack."
"That puppy smells," he said, plugging his nose.
"I not smell!" Jillian replied adamantly and stood up so that she could stomp. She reached out to grab Jackson but he was too quick and managed to hide behind Buffy and Faith. "Grr!" she growled, sounding very much like an angry dog instead of a puppy.
"Mad dog on the loose!" Buffy shouted just before Jilly charged them, causing all three to scatter in different directions.
Jilly continued to chase them all in different directions around the house, leaving piles of toys and clothes strewn about all over. The house was filled with the sounds of giggles and laughter as they played and chased each other around until hours later when a neighbor stopped by to ask them if everything was all right. Apparently they'd been making quite a ruckus.
Maybe they'd never quite be the typical everyday usual family, but they were pretty sure what they lacked in normalcy they made up for with fun and love. For Buffy and Faith, that was all they'd ever hoped for, together.