There was a time in my life when having a family meant going to fancy parties to meet a lovely young lady of impeccable breeding. One who was accomplished at needlepoint and piano. One, who even if she didn't agree, knew enough to adhere to all the appropriate rules of conduct. After a lengthy courtship, which had been fully approved of by both parents, we would marry. After another socially acceptable length of time, we would start a family. I would then live my life as an upstanding Husband and Father. It was something my timid and pathetic self had hoped for but would probably never, ever attain. It was also something I had thought I'd surely given up when I accepted Drusilla's offer that long ago night.
When Willow and Tara had shown up that night and explained, haltingly and with much stopping and starting, what they had in mind? I never imagined how my life would eventually change. While listening to Willow babble and watching Tara blush and duck her head, I realised exactly what Xander had given up by being with me. A proper family with the kids and the white picket fence was not something he would ever have if he stayed with me. Xander looked at me hard then. As if he knew exactly what I was thinking at that moment.
Later that night, Xander had taken a lot of time telling me how happy he was and how he couldn't imagine his life any other way. He pointed out the absurdity of any child in his position growing up to have a normal life. I admit, I didn't take much convincing.
Willow and Tara wanting children wasn't a surprise really. They both had a lot of love to give, and now that things were as settled as they were ever gonna be, it did seem the right time. So they collected what they needed and worked their special mojo.
Watching them both grow larger, their bellies swelling to accommodate the life growing inside them, I felt a sense of wonderment and gratefulness at being included. Holding my hand gently against Willow's bump to feel the first stirrings of life inside or when they let me listen to the rapid beating of the small hearts. It had been thrilling. They had both indulged my curiosity with gentle smiles and giggles. Tara had said since Xander and I had been willing to share what they needed it was the least they could do. At the time I still hadn't understood what possible use they could have for my dead, useless seed. But they had both insisted it had to be both of us or nothing at all.
Sitting here with those tiny fingers grasping one of mine, the skin so soft against my own, I can only look at that gorgeous face in awe and disbelief. The overwhelming ache in my heart when she was gently placed in my arms has been replaced with a happy sense of love and acceptance. Xander sits on the arm of the chair, one hand on my shoulder and the other carefully stroking over our child's dark hair.
I look up at Willow and Tara, who are cooing and fawning over their Nina. Sensing my gaze, they both look up.
"What are you going to call her?"
A name immediately comes to mind and I glance up at Xan. I don't have to say anything at all. He smiles, nods and gives me an 'on you go' gesture.
"Anna Joyce Harris," I say with confidence. Xander gives me a squeeze, letting me know I'd gotten it right.
With a happy sigh, I rest my head against Xan's thigh. My eyes are wet, my throat burns with tears, my Big Bad rep is in tatters and I can't bring myself to care. Not when I'm a father. Not when we're fathers.
~ Mòran taing ~