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The Meaning of Heroes
Chapter Twenty-Two (7,070 words) 
31st-Jul-2006 11:08 pm
wes/fred/giles OT3!, heroes

It had been a wonderful day and a half, just the three of them enjoying the news of the new child as well as each other’s love and support. But now it was time to go back, and he had promised to pick up Dennis. So there they were, standing in front of Cordelia’s door, her key in his hand.

“Dennis, it’s Wesley. I’m here with Fred and our friend Rupert,” he announced, not wanting the ghost to take his head off.

Fred peered around him into the apartment. She almost didn’t want to go in there, knowing what had happened to Cordelia, but they couldn’t leave Dennis there, she knew. It wasn’t fair to him, considering why he was trapped there in the first place. “Dennis? Are you there.”

Suddenly, there was a tapping noise near the door. H-E-R-E. C-O-M-E I-N.

She looked up at Wesley. “My morse code’s a bit rusty, but it sounded like he’s telling us to come in.”

Nodding, he stepped forward across the threshold first, his heart constricting, knowing Angelus had killed his surrogate sister here. He looked around, noting the cleanliness of the surroundings. “Cleaning up as usual, Dennis?”

The knocking answer came to Wesley’s question. Y-E-S. H-A-D T-O.

Giles extended his senses out, the hairs on the back of his neck standing up the way they always did anytime a ghost got within arms reach. “I wish it could have been under better circumstances, but it’s good to finally meet you, Dennis.”

Reaching out, Dennis patted his shoulder before tapping out another message. R-E-A-D-Y T-O G-O.

Fred looked around the apartment, the cleanliness and silence of it save for Dennis’ tapping so incredibly strange. It was weird knowing that Cordelia would never be back here. “I don’t blame you,” she whispered.

“Dennis, I know you want to get out of here, but we need some things first. I talked it over with Fred and Rupert, and we want to hang on to this place. It doesn’t seem right that a stranger move in here. So we need the rental agreement in order to continue to make the payments. Something tells me you know where Cordelia put it,” Wesley requested.

“Also, if there’s anything you think Cordelia would have wanted Wesley and Fred to have, we’ll need that too,” Giles chimed in, wanting to do whatever his lovers needed in order for them to heal. “Since you’ll be coming with us, I’ll also call about getting a weekly cleaning service in here. Do you know where the yellow pages are?”

There was some random tapping, and then one of the drawers in the kitchen opened. A moment later, the yellow pages came floating through the air to be delivered into Giles’ hands. Once he had a hold on them, the door to the bedroom opened, indicating Dennis had gone in there.

Giles began looking through the yellow pages, scribbling down the numbers of the cleaning services. He wanted to give his lovers a few moments peace. Picking up the reciever, he dialed the first number.

Before long, the door swung open again, and a metal box appeared. Dennis set it down on the countertop in front of the three of them and opened it, revealing a set of papers inside, including some envelopes with the names of everyone from Angel Investigations on them.

“She must have put this together in case anything happened to her,” Fred remarked.

Wes picked up the envelopes, sifting through the small stack. Locating the one with Fred’s name on it, he passed it to her. He then set aside the one with his own name and pocketed the one with Lorne’s name on it. Holding up the other two, he looked at Fred, his blue eyes sad. “What should we do with these? It doesn’t seem right to read them.”

Before she could say anything, the envelope with Angel’s name on it suddenly flew out of Wesley’s hand across the kitchen. One of the burners on the stove turned on, and within moments, the envelope was being set alight. Fred watched for a moment as fire engulfed it in midair before it was thrown into the sink. Looking over at Wesley, she shrugged. She could understand why Dennis had done it – he was still upset by what Angelus had done to Cordy.

Wesley flinched slightly as he watched the last of the envelope crumble to ash in the sink. It wasn’t that he couldn’t understand Dennis’ anger. In many ways, he was still angry himself. Still feeling the pain of watching Angelus rip his father’s throat out, he nodded, swallowing past the lump that had suddenly formed in his own throat. “I understand, Dennis. Believe me.”

“We should probably shred Charles’ as well,” Fred told him softly.

He looked at Gunn’s envelope, realizing she was right and wanting it disposed of before Rupert realized it was there. He knew his lover still harbored some guilt over having to kill Charles. “Dennis, Gunn is dead. Rupert was forced to kill him when a parasite inhabiting his body tried to hurt Fred,” Wesley whispered, so that only Dennis and Fred could hear him. “Can you dispose of this so that he doesn’t have to see it?”

The envelope was quickly pulled out of Wesley’s hand, and a moment later, Dennis was lighting it on the burner as well. Like Angel’s envelope, Gunn’s quickly disappeared in a burst of flames, the remains of which were also chucked into the sink. Dennis then turned on the water, washing what was left down the drain.

Fred felt her eyes tearing a little – this really was the end of Angel Investigations. Half of them were gone now, all thanks to Wolfram and Hart and what they had done. At least Rupert wouldn’t have to see that letter and be reminded of what he had been forced to do to save her. “Thank you, Dennis.”

Wesley looked at his lover, seeing the sadness in her eyes, and knew exactly what she was feeling. “It would have been better if Cordelia could have made this journey with us, but she’ll never be forgotten. Thanks to that man over there and his loved ones, this family will survive, and flourish...” He smiled, leaning over to kiss her gently before looking down at her belly, his blue eyes lit with happiness. “And grow.”

Fred smiled softly, taking his hand in hers and resting it on her abdomen. Suddenly, she felt what seemed to be another hand touching her there as well. A question seemed to hang in the air even though Dennis couldn’t speak to them directly. “Yes, I really am pregnant,” she told him. “And you’ll be there with us to see him or her. You’re going to be part of our family too.”

Hanging up the phone, Giles came to stand behind Fred, wrapping his arms around her, his hand sliding over Wesley’s on her abdomen. Leaning his head down, he kissed her on the side of the neck. She closed her eyes for a moment, taking a deep breath. She had been a little woobly in the stomach following the trip from the B&B, and coming into the place where their friend had died hadn’t helped matters, but she was finding herself feeling a bit better now, especially with both her guys there.

“Details are all taken care of. I chose a smaller cleaning company, two employees. That way this assignment will be more important to them. I’ll make you a deal, Wesley. I’ll cover the rent here, and since you’re collecting a check from the Council again, you can pick up the cleaning service and the utilities. That way this place will always be livable,” Giles offered, knowing Wes was still smarting from him taking care of them. “It’s only fair I pitch in since Buffy and the others might have to use it too.”

Wes looked down in the box, removing the lease and the utility bills, tucking them in his pocket with the letters. “Deal,” he replied with a gentle smile, thankful that Rupert was considering his pride in this and not trying to take all of it on himself.

“I think Cordy will be glad that we’ll be able to use the apartment and make it into something good again,” Fred remarked. The tapping sound that replied indicated that Dennis seemed to agree.

“Dennis, Wesley, are you ready?” Giles asked, smiling when they heard the affirmative tapping sound. He took a step back from Fred, not wanting his magic to flow through her, but he still stayed close enough. “When I start the spell, Dennis, you’ll feel a kind of a doorway form in Wesley, along with the desire to pass through it. Go ahead. Once you do so, you’ll be inside of him until we get to Sunnydale and release you.”

Reaching out, he placed his hand on Wesley’s shoulder and began chanting. A faint golden glow appeared under his hand as he felt the “doorway” open up in him, and the moment it did, Dennis slipped through.

It was strange, feeling solid again after so long, but he also knew that this wasn’t his body, so he simply rested inside the other man. He did feel the pain from him, however, that remained over all the deaths that had occurred recently. ‘It’s all right,’ he tried to let him know.

Fred noticed a brief glow in Wesley before it faded, and she couldn’t feel Dennis’ presence beside her anymore. “Wesley?” she asked softly. “Are both of you okay?”

“We’re fine,” he answered, sensing Dennis’ attempt at soothing his pain. “I think...I think it’s a little odd for him, being solid after forty plus years of being dead.” He turned his head to look at his other lover. “We should probably get going.”

He focused his attention inwardly, letting his passenger know that he appreciated having him not only with his family but also with him as well.

*****

Elizabeth took a deep breath as Geoff steered the car they had rented onto Rovello Drive. She knew Quentin and the others at the Council had thought her decision to fly to Sunnydale instead of stay for Roger’s funeral to be wrong, but she didn’t care anymore. The prat that had been her husband was dead and gone. Her son, however, was still alive and deserved for her to be there for him now that she could be, now that she didn’t have to account her time or her money to anyone else.

“Thank you for coming with me,” she told Geoff as they pulled into the driveway of the Summers house.

“Where you go, I follow,” he replied with a soft smile.

It was true. He didn’t know how many times in the last twenty years his life had been threatened by Roger Wyndam-Pryce, but for the lady next to him and the small, brilliant boy she had borne for that bastard, he stayed. Getting out of the car, he walked around to open Elizabeth’s door for her. He extended his elbow for her to take as they walked up onto the porch.

“Seems rather a plain house for someone as great as a Vampire Slayer to live. The Council should take better care of its treasures.”

Elizabeth nodded her head. “From what I remember Wesley telling me about this particular Slayer, she’s very much someone who’s always tried to keep a normal life – or as normal as someone like her is able. I believe this was her family’s house. I still agree with you about taking better care of these girls, though. They’re people, not things to be used, no matter how Roger and Quentin have viewed them.”

Ringing on the doorbell, she glanced up at Geoff, hoping that Wesley, Rupert and Winifred had already arrived back from their weekend. She hadn’t been sure when they had been intending to return. However, when a slight blonde answered the door, she smiled, recognizing her from the pictures she had seen in her husband’s files.

“Hello...I’m Elizabeth Wyndam-Pryce, Wesley’s mother. You must Buffy Summers.”

Buffy’s eyes widened in surprise. Was it Parents’ Week, and no one had told her? “Wesley’s mother? I didn’t—we weren’t—oh, please come in,” she said, standing aside and letting the two people into the house. “Does Wesley know you’re coming?”

Elizabeth shook her head. “I knew he was going to be away for the weekend, but I wanted to surprise him. After everything that’s been happening, I wanted to be here for my son.”

Tony was coming out of the kitchen and heard voices at the door. Curiously, he approached to offer Buffy support by his presence, knowing that were it friend or foe, he – as he heard Xander say one time – “had her back”. His eyes widened, however, when he realized who was standing there. Even if he hadn’t seen her around the fancy ceremonies at the Academy, the family resemblance was uncanny. “Mrs. Wyndam-Pryce, good afternoon.”

Elizabeth looked over at the young man who had just said her name and smiled. “Even if I hadn’t heard that a third Watcher had been assigned here from Quentin, I’d still know who your father must be. You’re Martin Delacour’s boy, aren’t you?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Tony chuckled; he had been told he was the spitting image of his father his entire life. “They’re not home yet, but it should be soon. I don’t imagine Mister Giles will stay away from Buffy for too long. I think he’s afraid she might cripple me.”

Buffy snorted at that. “You’ve been holding your own quite well, I think, especially considering you haven’t worked with a Slayer before.” She looked over at Wesley’s mother and her companion. “Mrs. Wyndam-Pryce, would you and—?”

“Geoffrey Watson,” Elizabeth told her. “He’s been a friend of the family for years.”

“Would you and Mister Watson like to take a seat? Fred’s parents are in town as well and should be here soon.”

“Thank you very much, dear,” Elizabeth responded as she took a seat. “Fred...that would be Winifred? Wesley’s fiancée?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Tony replied. “I think she prefers Fred – even her parents refer to her as such. I made the mistake of calling her Winifred once, and she looked at me like she had just ingested a rancid lemon.” He smirked, seeing the older gentleman wait for her to sit before he did.

Suddenly, there was the pounding of little feet on the stairs, and he grinned at Buffy, prepared for the little bolt of energy that was about to appear. “Uh oh, here comes trouble.” As soon as Connor reached him at a full run, Tony gripped his arm and lifted him into a spin, finishing it off by holding the boy in his arms.

“Tony, are Mommy and Daddy home yet? You think Papa will bring me a present? Where’s Granny Trish and Grandpa Roger? Who are they? I don’t know them.” Connor started in one breath. He paused when Tony put a hand over his lips.

“Woah! You ramble like your mum. To answer your questions, you mum and dad will be home soon. I don’t know if your papa will bring you a present, but I think bringing your mummy and daddy home is present enough. Your Granny Trish and Grandpa Roger should be here any minute. And this is your Grandmother Elizabeth. This is your daddy’s mum.”

Elizabeth found herself smiling widely as she looked at the child in the younger Delacour’s arms. He looked so much like his father with the brown hair and the blue eyes. “Hello, Connor,” she said, holding her arms out. “We spoke on the phone the other day. It’s so wonderful to meet you. I’ve been wanting to since we talked.”

“I remember you,” Connor said, smiling at the older woman as Tony set him down. He walked slowly toward her, never taking his eyes off of her. “I talked to you the night Daddy was sad. It was good he talked to you – he smiled after.” He reached up a small hand once he stepped into her arms and touched her face. “You have blue eyes, like Daddy and me.”

“Yes, I do. I used to have brown hair too, but it turned grey a long, long time ago,” she whispered, reaching out and running her hand through his hair. She gave him a smile. “I was glad to talk to your daddy the other day too. And now, I’m glad to be here with you, waiting for him and your mummy and your...did you call him papa?”

Connor nodded vigorously. “Giles is my papa!”

“Waiting for all of them to come back.”

It was then that Buffy heard a vehicle engine and looked at the window to see the Burkles’ truck pulling into the driveway. “Looks like Trish and Roger are here.”

“Roger...that’s Fred’s father?” Elizabeth asked. It was a bit strange hearing her husband’s name on someone else so soon after he was killed.

“Yes,” Buffy said as she headed for the door.

“It’s good that you’ll get a chance to meet the Burkles. Once Wes and Fred are back, you’ll see why I say that,” Tony told the old woman. “The three of them – I’ve never seen anything like it. The love they share is almost tangible in the air.” He pauled and smiled, looking at the boy and ruffling his hair. “And Connor here is as important to them as air.”

Elizabeth smiled. “Wesley told me about being in love with two people when we spoke the other day. Lord knows, after the way his father treated him, he deserves all the love he can get. I’m glad he’s found two people who care about him so much.”

When Trish and Roger appeared at the door, Connor pulled out of Elizabeth’s arms and ran over. “Granny Trish, Granny Trish!” he yelled, giggling when he was caught at the door by his grandmother. “Granny Lizbeth is here!” He pointed toward the living room.

She stood up as the two new arrivals came into the house. “Hello. I’m Elizabeth, Wesley’s mother. You’re Fred’s parents? I’m so glad to meet you.”

Holding Connor in one arm, Trish extended the other one to shake. “Call me Trish,” she said. “The big lummox is Roger.” She smirked since she was still giving her husband a hard time about his ideas about Rupert Giles. “You have a hell of a boy, Elizabeth.”

She shook the other woman’s hand, her smile widening at the compliment. “Goodness knows how, especially with everything he’s been through. I’m very proud of him, though. As you must be proud of your daughter – from what I understand, she’s quite a young woman.”

“Mommy’s the best!” Connor said, still holding onto Trish’s neck.

Tony saw the familiar car pull up out front and grinned at Buffy, who was enjoying watching the meeting of the grandparents. Stepping up in front of Trish, he placed a large hand on Connor’s back. “Well, why don’t you tell her that, Connor, because there she is.” He pointed toward the open front door, seeing the three lovers walking up the front pathway.

“Mommy!” Connor called out excitedly.

Fred smiled when she heard their son’s voice calling out to them and peered through the door. “Hi, Connor. We’re—.” Just then, she noticed who was holding him, and her smile got ever bigger as she rushed forward. “Mom! Dad! Oh, my God, you’re really here!”

“Of course, we’re here. Our baby is gettin’ married!” Trish protested, remembering telling her specifically that they would be there for that. She saw Wesley come in behind Fred, and another man behind him. That must be Rupert. She smiled faintly. Fred was right – he was handsome.

The moment they were in the front door, Giles put his hand on Wes’ shoulder, and muttered the phrase needed to release Dennis. The ghost would have to stay there until they moved into their own place.

Wesley was happy to see the Burkles there, knowing how close Fred was to her parents, but when he felt Rupert’s hand on his shoulder, he stopped. He felt Dennis leave his body the moment the phrase was spoken and sagged a little, his head swimming. It was only then that he noticed the two other people in the house. “Mum?”

Fred was still hugging her parents. “I know we are, but we haven’t even started planning yet. I’m so glad you’re here, though,” she told them. Connor practically jumped into her arms once she was finished.

“Granny Lizbeth is here too!”

She looked over then, seeing the elegant grey-haired woman standing there, her eyes fixed on Wesley, a smile on her face. “Hello, son,” Elizabeth said softly, moving over to him. “Oh, you don’t know how good it is to finally see you again.”

“Mum,” Wesley gasped again. “I didn’t expect you to come....” He waved off his own stupidity, blue eyes shining with emotion as he hugged her tightly. “It doesn’t matter what I expected. I’m just glad you’re here.”

She embraced him for several long moments before pulling back and looking at her son, so glad to see him again. Then her eyes fell on the scar on his neck, and she felt her breath catch in her throat. “Oh, Wesley,” she said softly, tears coming to her eyes as she reached up to touch it gently. “You said that man left you for dead, but you didn’t say...I didn’t know...”

“I’m all right, mum. Fred—Fred found me in time. She and Rupert have been taking excellent care of me.” He reached up, cupping his mother’s cheek in his palm, his thumb wiping away her tears. “Rupert calls it a badge of honor. I’m still...” He looked back at the man in question. “I’m still trying to get used to it.”

“Daddy got that ‘cause of me.” Connor looked up at his father sadly. “But no one is gonna hurt Daddy again. Papa protects us, and Buffy too.”

Elizabeth nodded before looking over at the young woman Wesley was marrying. “Thank you,” she told her, reaching out and taking her hand in hers. Then she turned her head to Giles. “And thank you. Both of you. Thank you for watching out for my son.”

“Always,” Fred told her, looking at both of the men she loved.

“Always.” Giles stepped forward, closer to his lovers, and chuckled when Wesley ducked his head, blushing. He was so focused on his lovers that he didn’t see Trish elbow her husband in the ribs, nodding her head between him and Fred as if to say, ‘I told you so.’ Placing a hand flat against Wesley’s back, he rubbed gently before looking up at Tony. “I’m glad to see you’re still in one piece,” he teased before smirking at his Slayer.

“I wouldn’t hurt him,” Buffy said with a mock huff, looking over at Tony. “Besides, he’s really good. Whoever taught him, taught him well.”

“Well, I should get started on dinner,” Trish stated, reaching out a hand to touch her daughter’s shoulder. “And I wouldn’t worry about planning. These amazing young people have taken care of everything. Now, Roger, play nice and stay out of trouble,” she ordered before excusing herself to the kitchen.

It was then that Wesley noticed the taller man standing in the living room. “Geoff? Mum, you brought Geoff?” He smiled, remembering the only one of the family’s servants that had been willing to brave his father’s fury for him.

Elizabeth nodded, turning and looking over her shoulder at Geoff. “He’s...he’s stayed with me through everything, so I wanted him to come with me to see you,” she told Wesley, reaching behind her to take Geoff’s hand and bring him stand closer with her. “I wanted him to be with me on the most important days of my son’s life.”

“Always loyal, even when father didn’t make it easy for you. Thank you for taking care of her,” Wes said sincerely. At the way his mother held the other man’s hand, he arched an eyebrow in surprise. Their closeness was the closeness of lovers. “Mum? Is there something you want to tell me?”

Glancing back at Geoff for a moment, she nodded before turning back to look at Wesley. “I suppose you already know what I’m going to tell you, but when I say Geoff has stayed with me through everything, I really mean that. Geoff has been my best friend and confidant and...lover, for years now. I know it’s not proper, everything considered, but...you know what your father was like. I’m sorry for the way he died, and I’m sorry you had to witness what happened to him, but I’ll never be sorry for loving Geoff.”

Wesley took a moment to absorb what his mother was saying to him. He looked up at the man in question, as if he were looking for answers in his eyes. After several moments, he nodded. “You’ve always stood by us, Geoff, sometimes putting yourself in the line of fire.” He held up a hand when the man tried to interrupt. “It was more than what father would ever do. We do what we have to do to survive. I’m sorry you were left behind when I went to the Academy, Mum, and I’m glad Geoff was there to protect you.” It was the best he could do without coming right out and saying that it was okay that she committed adultery.

“I was glad when you went to the Academy because it got you out of the house with him,” Elizabeth told him, glad that he understood. She knew that she couldn’t ask him or anyone to condone the choices she and Geoff had made over the years, but at least he understood, and that was the most important thing. “All that mattered to me was that you were safe. You’ve survived so much, Wesley. All I ever wanted for you was that you were safe and loved for who you are.”

“I still felt guilty leaving you alone with him,” Wesley whispered softly. He looked up at Geoff, his blue eyes sincere. “It makes me feel a little better to know that she wasn’t alone.”

“She never was,” Geoff admitted, grateful for the young man before him. He didn’t know if Elizabeth could have handled her son’s disappointment. He should have known that Wesley would understand.

Giles stepped forward. “And Wesley is safe here and loved,” he said adamantly, smiling when Fred nodded in agreement.

“Is and always will be,” she added, placing her hand over both Wesley’s and Rupert’s. “We’d do anything for him.” Just then, she realized that her father was still there, watching them, and looked over. She knew Wesley’s mother knew, and of course, her mother knew, as did everyone else in the house. But her father... “Dad, there’s something I need to tell you.”

Roger eyed the older man that his daughter was touching; he had been watching him carefully since they all entered. “The people in this house are loyal to you. And I’ve met a couple more who’d give their lives for you. You and I have been around long enough to know that that kind of loyalty is practically impossible to get. If I didn’t know anything else about you, that would be enough. Just make sure my daughter isn’t one of those that has give up her life, and I won’t have to introduce you to the business end of my shotgun.”

Fred’s eyes widened at the idea of her father shooting Rupert. “Dad! You stop that. I love Rupert very much—both him and Wesley. He’s good to both of us, and you won’t be threatening him or anyone else with your shotgun, you understand? I’ve made my own choice with my life.”

Giles looked at her, more amused than threatened. “As you so aptly pointed out, Mister Burkle, I have quite a bit more history than Wesley or Fred. I assure you, this is not the first time I have been threatened by a father. Oddly enough, I didn’t blame them then either.” He smiled. “I love Fred, and Wesley, and would die before I harmed either one of them. Fred loves you. And if it comes down to it, I won’t force her to choose. I’ll remove myself from the equation first. She needs you.” He looked at her, knowing that should it come to that, it would be one of the most painful decisions of his life. But he wouldn’t come between Fred and her parents.

She stared at him, feeling her throat tighten at the idea of him ever having to leave her. “Don’t make me choose,” she said, turning her eyes to her father. “Don’t ever make me choose. I love you, Dad, but I love Rupert too. I...I can’t imagine my life without him or Wesley. Being without either of them...” She shook her head, tightening her hand around Rupert’s and Wesley’s.

Wesley gripped Fred’s hand, bringing it up to his mouth, pressing his lips to the palm. “With all due respect, Mister Burkle, it’s not your decision. Rupert and I have lived our lives, doing what others expected of us, living for others. I’m done. I know what you and your wife mean to Fred; I was there when you came to visit when we brought her home from Pylea. But enough is enough. This isn’t about you anymore. Fred will always love you, but this is about our family now. Rupert, Fred and I, along with Connor and our other children. It’s time we started living for ourselves. If that makes us selfish, so be it, but watching my own father be murdered by the vampire wearing the face of my best friend...I think entitles me to be selfish. I’m through living for others. And I swear I’ll chain Rupert up before I allow him to walk away from us out of some misplaced sense of honor.”

Buffy whistled softly under her breath at Wesley standing up to his future father-in-law. He really had changed. “Wow, Wes,” she said, loud enough that only Tony standing next to her could hear.

“Wesley is right, Dad,” Fred said, looking into his eyes, grateful to him for what he had just said. “This is my decision. As much as I love you, I need to do what’s right for me. My life is here, and my life is with Rupert and Wesley and Connor and everyone else here. I spent five years fearing that I’d never see my family again or find a home. Now I’ve finally found what I wanted, I can’t let it go. I won’t, no matter what you think.”

“Be happy for her, Roger. Most people go their whole lives looking for a love like this. You were lucky to find it in Trish, and Fred has found it in us. I think you’ve heard enough to know that my own mother wasn’t so lucky.” Wesley looked toward his mum, his eyes apologetic. “You look at Rupert, and all you see is grey hair. Fred and I, we see his heart, and we’re damned lucky to be loved by a man like him. The lives we live, fighting the hells out there, we never know when we might live our last day. Fred and Rupert and little Connor, they make me happier than I have ever been in my life. I won’t give that up, and I sure as hell won’t ask Fred to. Especially now.” He placed his hand over her abdomen. “This family has made you a grandfather twice over. Look at it as the blessing it is, and stop judging a few grey hairs.”

“Fred?” Roger said softly, his eyes locked on where Wesley’s hand was resting.

She nodded, her voice catching her throat for a moment. “I’m pregnant. Connor’s going to have a little brother or sister in about eight months.” She looked from Wesley to Rupert then back over to her dad. “This is our baby, Dad. Ours – the three of us. I have two wonderful men who are going to be amazing fathers to our children, and I won’t ever give them up.”

“But don’t you want to know...?” Roger started, but Giles decided it was time to chime in. He had let Wesley and Fred defend him enough.

“No, we don’t. Biologically, it doesn’t matter who the father is; this child, like Connor, has two fathers and more love than he or she will know what to do with,” he said firmly.

“Are you through being a dolt now?” Trish asked, poking her head out of the kitchen. “’Cause I could use your help in here if for no other reason than to get you out of their hair. They just got home, so leave ‘em alone!” She disappeared back into the kitchen, but a moment later her voice called out, “Now! Roger Burkle!”

Wes barely bit back a smile when the older man immediately followed orders. He leaned over, pressing his forehead to Rupert’s. “I meant what I said – no selfless acts here. You’re stuck with us.”

“What he said,” Fred agreed, looking up at both of them. “No way I’m letting either of you go just because my dad’s being a idiot. Besides, I have a feeling my mom would kick him in the ass before she allowed him to interfere.” Rising up on her toes, she pressed a kiss to Giles’ cheek in front of his ear.

“Awww, he’ll come around,” Dawn said.

“Mommy?” Connor suddenly chirped up. “There’s going to be another baby?”

She turned her attention down to their son. “Yes, sweetie. We’re going to have another baby. You’ll have a brother or sister.”

Wesley watched his son’s face light with happiness, causing a smile to cross his own. “I trust this news meets with your approval?” He chuckled when Connor nodded excitedly. Looking up at his mother, he nodded. “What do you think about this mum? Grandmother twice over?”

Smiling, Elizabeth shook her head in amazement. “I think it’s wonderful,” she told him. “A bit strange to think after just finding out the other day that I’m already a grandmother, but still, wonderful all the same. Congratulations, the three of you.”

“Thank you,” Fred responded, returning her soon-to-be mother-in-law’s smile.

“Why don’t I go help the Burkles with dinner?” Geoff suggested, wanting to give mother and son their time alone. She should have her time to get to know those that loved her child. Silently, he backed away, heading for the kitchen.

“Was there any trouble while we were away?” Giles asked Buffy, suspecting that things ran smoothly. He knew his Slayer – if there was something big, she would have told him the second they walked in.

“Unless you count Dawnie trying to share her banana quesadillas,” she said, moving out of the way when Dawn tried to kick at her from her spot on the floor.

Giles laughed when Wesley made a face at the mention of Dawn’s cuisine. “Yes, Dawn’s recipes do take some getting used to.”

“In any event, everything went fine. Xander, Anya, Willow and Tara are back at their respectives places.” She then looked at Tony. “Should we tell them?”

“It’s up to you,” Tony said with a shrug as Giles’ eyebrow arched curiously. “Fitzpatrick left something for Wesley, though. I put the scroll upstairs. Apparently it’s been through at least a half a dozen hands without a successful translation. To quote Quentin, ‘It’s about bloody time he earns the paycheck I’m being forced to pay him.’ I wouldn’t worry about it, though. You have bigger things to worry about right now, so it’ll keep.”

Buffy shook her head and turned back to the other three. “Well, the rest of us were talking about things yesterday, and we know with the way things have been that you guys haven’t really had any time at all to think about the wedding and the commitment ceremony, so we decided—we’ve started planning for you guys. We’re going to have the wedding here, and the ceremony at the Magic Box.”

Giles smiled at his Slayer gratefully. Stepping forward, he hugged her tightly. “Thank you, all of you,” he whispered. With the news of Fred’s pregnancy, he had been wondering how they could squeeze a wedding – much less two – into the middle of this turmoil. And his family had taken care of that for them.

“You’re welcome,” she told him, giving him a gentle squeeze. “Anything for my Watcher and our family.”

“Dinner should be done in about 40 minutes,” Trish called out from the kitchen. “Can I get a few volunteers to set the table?”

Buffy turned and looked toward the kitchen before reaching down to pull Dawn up and grabbing Tony’s arm. “Come on, you two. Let’s set the table and let those three rest a bit.”

“All right, all right, I’m coming,” Dawn griped.

As they disappeared into the kitchen, Lorne came down the stairs. “I think I finally got the attic cleared out so I can—hey!” He smiled when he saw Wes, Fred and Giles standing there with the others, not noticing the woman standing there whose eyes had suddenly widened in amazement. “Welcome back, you three. How was your weekend?”

Wesley smiled when he saw Lorne, but his smile quickly fell when he saw the look on his mother’s face. “Mum, it’s all right. It’s just Lorne. He’s a friend of ours from LA although he’s originally from Pylea, where we rescued Fred from. Lorne, this is my mum, Elizabeth Wyndam-Pryce.”

“Wesley’s mother? Oh, I’m so glad to meet the beautiful woman responsible for bringing our favorite language guy into the world,” Lorne said, proferring his hand.

Elizabeth found herself returning the demon’s large smile as she took his hand, which he kissed. “It’s...erm, very nice to meet you. I didn’t realize that Wesley had any—that is, that he knew a...oh, lord, I think I’d better stop right now.”

“It’s all right. I know I’m not the kind of person others expect to see coming down the stairs, especially in a Slayer’s house.” He released her hand before turning to hug Fred. “How are you feeling, sweetie?”

“All right at the moment. Everyone knows the news,” Fred told him. She looked over at Elizabeth. “Lorne’s an anagogic – he was the one who told me I was pregnant.”

“Figured it was the fastest way to tell for sure,” he said. He looked toward the kitchen. “Ohhh, is Mom Burkle cooking dinner?”

Wesley had snorted in amusement when Lorne kissed his mother’s hand, rolling his eyes at Fred. They were used to their friend’s antics. “We actually have two demons helping us here, Mum. Lorne, as Fred said, is anagogic. If you sing for him, he can look directly into your soul. The other is a vampire, Spike, also known as William the Bloody. He’s a pain in the arse but an effective ally. He’s been chipped, preventing him from feeding on humans. He satifies his demon’s blood lust by helping Buffy and the others keep Sunnydale’s demon population in check.”

“I remember hearing about that,” Elizabeth said, recalling how Roger had raged about the fact that the Slayer had allied herself with a vampire not once but twice. It had been worse when Wesley had then gone to work with Angel in Los Angeles. “It’s...it’s not an easy thing to accept, you know, but so long as you trust him, that’s what’s important.”

Wesley nodded before looking back over at his friend. “Oh, and Lorne, say hello to the guest we brought from LA.” He smirked when a pillow flew from the couch, impacting with the green demon’s back.

“Hey!” Lorne spun around, only to find no one there. “Dennis?” A tapping sound answered him. “Glad that you made here okay. Sorry I had to leave you down there a few weeks ago.”

“Dennis?” Elizabeth asked, looking around. “A ghost?”

Fred nodded. “He lived in the apartment our friend Cordelia lived in. Since he was left alone in Los Angeles, we decided to bring him up here.”

Letting out a soft chuckle, Elizabeth shook her head before looking back to her son. “You sure do things differently here, dear.”

Wesley groaned, glancing out the window and seeing the four approaching people coming up the walk. “You have no idea, Mum,” he told her with a smirk, wondering how he was going to explain Anya to his mother.

“Dinner’s ready!” Trish called out just as the others came through the door.

“Was that Mrs. Burkle I heard call everyone to dinner?” Xander asked excitedly, smelling the air, giving a groan as he followed his nose to the dining room.

“That would be Xander Harris,” Giles told Wesley’s mother with a chuckle. “He makes friends through his stomach. Undoubtedly, he loves your mum, Fred.”

She laughed as they followed into the dining room to find the table laden with enough food to feed an army, which was pretty much what they were doing with everyone that was there now. Seeing what her mom had made, she smiled widely. “You made fried chicken!” she said happily. It had been so long since she had eaten her mom’s homecooking.

Trish shrugged, feeling a glow at the happiness she saw reflected in her child’s eyes. “It was the easiest thing for feeding this group,” she explained. “Plus, I remember it was always one of your favorites. Your daddy should be along with the Mashed Potatoes and Corn on the Cob.” She then leaned toward her daughter to whisper. “I made my blue ribbon cole slaw too.”

Wrapping her arms around her mother, Fred hugged her tightly. “You know that’s my favorite,” she whispered back. It had been years since she had last had it – before Pylea, before everything that had happened to change her life.

“It all smells wonderful,” Lorne commented as he pulled out a chair for Dawn to sit down. He then pulled out another one. “Mrs. Wyndam-Pryce?”

“Thank you,” Elizabeth said and sat down in the seat. She gave Geoff a smile when he came in from the kitchen. “My son has quite a family here.”

*****

Comments 
(Deleted comment)
2nd-Aug-2006 04:28 am (UTC)
Hee! The house is getting full! But we're dealing with that. ;-)

Thanks for the lovely comments! *hug*
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