Think of Me as Your Family (Chapter One)

Willow should have known.

Everything had been going so well: Xander and Anya were happily married (just how happily had been described in embarrassing detail by Anya more than once); Giles was coming to terms with the fact that she and Spike were together and his presence was doing wonders for Buffy, who was also being terrific about the way things had turned out; Dawn was even thawing towards Willow. Other than a bunch of nonsense from the Loser Trio, things had been great for a whole week. Willow should have known it was too good to last.

"Hold on. What are you saying, Angel? Whose son?" Willow held the phone to her ear, trying to ignore Spike's eye-rolling and annoyed sighs. She put her hand over the mouthpiece. "Shh!" Then she turned her attention back to Angel. "Another dimension? Okay, whose son is this again? Yours? But I thought you said this was a…" He was drunk, she finally realized as she listened to him slur his words. Obviously he was hallucinating, or confused, or… "What do you mean you and Darla have a son? I thought Drusilla was Spike's…" This was getting more confusing by the minute, especially with what Angel said next. "Not Spike? But… and Darla's dead – really dead. You killed her!"

Her confusion seemed to sober him up and he started filling in some key details. "Wolfram and Hart – they're an evil law firm – they brought Darla back somehow. We… became involved. And yeah, I know it's impossible, but she got pregnant, gave birth to my son: Connor."

Oh god. Willow wanted to sit down, but she was at the phone in the hall. Spike was trying to grab the receiver, and she pulled it away. Covering the mouthpiece – again – she admonished him, "I'll tell you in a minute." Getting back to Angel, she asked, "So what happened to him? Connor."

"I should have told him. About the magic. I should have told him I can't help him." Willow was sitting on the couch with Spike, still completely discombobulated by Angel's phone call. Goddess but this was… unexpected? Bizarre? Unbelievable? She couldn't even figure out the right word for it. "Are you okay?" she asked, noticing that Spike looked pretty freaked out.

"Yeah," he said softly, but it wasn't very convincing.

"It's got to be weird for you, huh?" She edged closer and put her arm around him, bringing his head down to her shoulder. What was she supposed to say? What could you say to a vampire who just discovered he had a brand new human uncle… an infant uncle… an uncle who'd been kidnapped and taken to another dimension? This wasn't the kind of situation Hallmark made cards for… though she had always wondered what they thought about the brisk business the local Gold Crown store did in condolence cards.

"That's one way to put it, love." Spike's voice was soft and strange and he leaned into her hand as she stroked his hair. Somehow this reminded her of the night he'd first kissed her. "Angel having a brat? Seems hard to believe, doesn't it?"

"And now his son's been kidnapped and taken to another dimension," Willow reminded him.

"Yeah." Spike sat up. There was a tension in his posture now. "He called you. He asked for your help."

It took her a moment to figure it out, but she knew Spike well enough to realize that he was hurt. He hated Angel, but… Angel was family and she knew that deep down a part of Spike longed for his approval, or at least some acknowledgment. "He probably doesn't know how to reach you," she offered. "It's not like anyone's told him about us." Her hand was over his and she felt him relax slightly. It was a relief. She hated to see him in any kind of pain. "I'm sorry I didn't get the chance to tell him you were here."

He shrugged, but the tension was back. "Not like I'd be much use. You're the one with the mojo he needs."

Huh? "Was the one. Remember? I'm off the sauce these days."

"Yeah. Guess no one told him about that either." Now his other hand was over hers. "Sorry. Didn't mean to remind ya."

His lips touched her forehead and it felt like the forgiveness she hadn't known she needed until he offered it. A part of her wished so badly that she could help Angel. Maybe… "I should talk to Tara. She could probably…"

Spike put an arm around her. "She might do. Never seen her work the really big mojo on her own."

Neither had Willow and for a moment her hope dimmed. But Tara's problem was probably more a confidence issue than any magical deficiency. After all, she was a hereditary witch. She had to be able to call on a wellspring of pure power, right? She could save Angel's son. All she needed was to believe in herself, and maybe if Willow and Spike showed her that they had faith in her abilities, she'd have the courage to dig deep and find her full potential. "She can do it," Willow affirmed with more certainty.

"You gonna call the Poof? Tell him you're sending a relief witch?"

Willow thought about it for a moment, weighing both sides of the equation. Then she shook her head. "I better wait and talk to Tara first." As much as she longed to give Angel concrete hope, she realized it would be wrong to back Tara into a corner. No matter what, Tara had the right to decide for herself. Then another issue came to mind. "What about Buffy? Should we…?"

"No." It was one word and it was vehement.

He was right, of course. Buffy had been through enough; the last thing she needed was to learn that Angel had had sex with someone else… and had a child with them. Willow knew how much it would hurt Buffy that her dream had come true with a different woman in the starring role. "Yeah. Guess it would do a lot more harm than good."

"That's the understatement of the year, pet." He pulled her close. "The Slayer's come a long way, longer than I thought she could, really, but this? This'd send her right back into the abyss."

"I know." She leaned against her lover, wondering, and not for the first time, how she'd gotten so lucky while Buffy couldn't seem to catch a break. It didn't seem fair. "You know, I've tried everything I know, checked every source I could… I could bring Buffy back from the dead and I couldn't fix Angel's soul. I wish…" She started to cry.

Spike was having none of it. "She and Angelus were always a lost cause. As friends, as lovers… They were never gonna make it work. Should have stuck to bein' allies in battle, that's how I see it." She looked at him, feeling insecure again. He got it. He always did. "Now, now. I am not sayin' that because I used to fancy her. I'm sayin' it because I know what love is now. Because of you." He kissed her softly and then continued. "What they had? It was only gonna end badly. Not because of his soul, but because of who they are."

For a second, Willow thought about arguing with him, but then she wondered: was he right? Yeah, sure, Willow had seen Buffy and Angel together more than he had… still, now that she thought about it he sort of had a point. Even before they'd known about the happiness clause, things hadn't exactly been rosy, had they? What with Buffy wanting a normal life and all, which, come to think of it, she pretty much still did.

Before she could agree with him, however, Spike's lips were on hers again and there were hands… hands in very familiar and enjoyable places. He needed comfort and a way to get his mind off of everything – and hey, she didn't think that was such a bad idea herself. So when he moved to pull her shirt over her head, she helped him.

"I love you," she breathed as his mouth moved down to her neck and his fingers found the clasp of her bra.

Again, she got thinky for a moment as she wondered if maybe they should move this upstairs… and then Spike's lips closed around one of her nipples. The heck with it. Rechristening the couch seemed like a great idea.

As her hands began the work of undoing Spike's jeans, she decided to turn off her brain and let herself feel. With everything she was going to have to think about, her brain needed the rest anyway. Besides, this was a job for her body and…. "Oh!" She was on her back and her jeans and panties were gone and… "Oh God!" Spike was doing that amazing thing with his tongue. Bye-bye brain. Come back later… way later.

To be continued…