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Hearth Memory

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Summary: "His kitchen is full of memories." Written for challengetime, as a part of duckytears' baby ficathon.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > Romance > Xander/OCarganteFR1312,579021,5917 Aug 047 Aug 04Yes
Hearth Memory
by argante

For challengetime
Pairing: Xander/Random. ((Xander/OFC. Also mentions here and there of B/A, W/O and D/Mike))
Two Requirements: Xander changing a diaper
One Restriction: No character death
Disclaimer: Nope, nope and nope. All lyrics from Lisa Loeb.

the sofas are worn in
and the foot stools are gone
the lights set the room a glow
too many things held precious,
too many things held dear

His kitchen is full of memories.

Everywhere he looks he sees them, splashed on the walls and furniture like so much paint. Everywhere there are knocks, chinks in the armour surrounding the centre of his home and life, and he knows the story behind each and every one.

He can point out the exact spot in the wall where Bea threw her coffee cup at him, just to the left of where his head had been, and even though the mug had been mostly empty, if you look close enough you can see small stains of brown on the cream painted walls.

There’s still a tiny, shiny handprint on one of cupboard doors, only a few feet off the ground, where Maria had smeared the honey from her sandwich, and Becca, his baby girl, has left skid marks all over the kitchen tiles with her muddy soccer boots. It was here, too, standing at the kitchen island helping Bea make school lunches a fortnight ago, that 10-year-old Joey had confronted them about their family situation.

“How come you aren’t married?” he’d asked, his auburn hair sticking up every which way, a spiky, untameable mess. They’d exchanged a look over the sandwiches, and Bea had crinkled her nose up in a way that said ‘this one’s mine’. They’d already been over this with Atikah when she was about the same age, and Xander had spoken then, no doubt confusing the poor girl all the more.

“Well, honey, are all your friends’ parents married?” she’d replied, her voice soft and slow. Joey had shrugged and scratched the back of his head, a sign that said ‘no, but I won’t admit that’. Bea had flicked an amused look at Xander before turning back to Joey, the sandwiches falling to the wayside for the moment.

“You know that Grandma and Grandpa aren’t married anymore, don’t you?” Bea asked, referring to her own, divorced, parents. Joey nodded, folding his arms on the kitchen island counter and resting his chin on them. Bea followed suit, leaning her elbows on the counter, lowering herself a little as well.

we could still belong together
and together is much better
we're okay so hey don't worry now

“And you know that your Aunt Buffy’s parents were divorced too, just like Aunt Dawn and Uncle Mike. Well, a lot of my friend’s parents got divorced when I was growing up, too. I think that, if so many people are divorced, then what’s the point of getting married? I think that divorce ruined marriage, because now everybody’s getting married, knowing that they’ll just get divorced. And I love your Dad, I love him very much, just like he loves me, and I don’t want us to be a part of something that fails so much.”

maybe we're just
a picture in my head

Joey had just looked at them, standing together, making sandwiches, with his dad’s hand resting on his mom’s back for support, and smiled. So his parents weren’t married. Big deal. They were together, and they loved each other, and they loved him. He didn’t want anything more.

Xander had ruffled Joey’s hair then, and Bea had ducked around the island to pull him into a hug. They’d both known where the question was coming from; kids could be so cruel. Atikah’s question had come after she’d arrived home in tears one day, having had ‘Bastard!’ shouted at her the entire way from school to home by a pack of other kids.

hold me precious, hold me dear
and a dear, strong woman coos gently along

He can still remember walking into the kitchen and seeing them, sitting around the same kitchen table that he’d first changed her diaper on almost 10 years earlier. Bea was rocking Atikah in her lap as she made nonsensical, cooing noises in the back of her throat and smoothed her hair down, and he’d been filled with the urge to do some serious damage to the cause of his daughter’s tears.

Some days the figures jump out at him, the scenes replayed in his head in near-perfect detail. It had been Xander’s day off a few days ago, and he’d been out in the yard, cleaning the leaves out of the pool filter. He’d walked back into the house from the sliding glass door off the side of the kitchen, and the first thing he’d seen had been the kitchen table, and whether it was the weather or the peacefulness of the empty house or that he’d ODed on caffeine, again, he could see, clear as day, the first time he’d changed a diaper on that table. The first time he’d changed a diaper at all, really.

and when I'm left at home, i'm all alone

Despite her maturnity leave, Bea had been called to the hospital on an emergency, because Sunnydale General only had so many neurologists, and had handed Atikah over to him with a hurried, rambling list of instructions and ‘make sure you’s. Confronted with the sole responsibility of his month-old daughter for the first time, Xander had been so flustered and nervous that he’d called Buffy and Willow, falling to his old ‘Scooby Girl-Support Network’ for backup. But they’d been busy too, and had told him they’d be at least an hour or so. Within that time, Atikah had needed feeding and burping and, eventually, changing. He’d emptied the baby bag onto the kitchen table, setting things out the way he’d seen Bea do it. Finally, he’d carefully extracted Atikah from her bouncer and laid her out on the table, divesting her of her clothes and beginning the daunting task of changing her.

An hour and a half after they’d received Xander’s panicked phone call, Buffy and Willow had slidden open the sliding glass backdoor and frozen in the door way, surveying the room. Xander had baby powder coating almost every visible part of him, as well as various areas of the table and floor, and there had been wipes strewn all over the room. The room had looked like a bomb had hit it, and standing at Ground Zero had been Xander, bent over Atikah, adjusting the diaper so it sat just-so. He had taken almost an hour to change her diaper, and had been so hell-bent on having it perfect that Atikah had fallen asleep.

Buffy and Willow had had to go outside in order to keep their raucous laughter from waking the baby, and Bea had been in stitches when they told her. She’d said that it was the first time she’d ever heard of a baby falling asleep while it was being changed. It took Xander almost a year to live it down, and even then it was only because Angel took close to two hours to change his own daughter’s diaper, making him a much better target for ridicule.

this isn't what i like to call flattery,
but i know that i believe that i've found what's true,
that i've found what's you

“Whatcha thinkin’ about?” Warm arms wrap around him from behind, and he can feel a soft cheek pressed against his back through his sweater and shirt. Bea’s so tiny, and he realises that Buffy’s cheek presses in exactly the same spot as hers does, now that they’re friendly again and can touch each other in near-safety. Safety meaning, of course, without the risk of Angel’s irrational jealousy and possessiveness flaring up; something that would never totally happen. Not that Xander can blame him, really; if he was ever confronted with the image of Bea’s arms wrapped around another man the way they’re wrapped around him right now, he’d probably be tempted to beat the man to death too.

“Nothing much. Just how incredibly lucky I am to have you all.” Bea’s arms tighten around his waist, and he can feel the warmth of her cheek move away slightly as she presses a kiss to his back.

of all the rooms i've loved before it's you i love inside this room

“And we’re lucky to have you,” she replied, her voice soft. Sometimes he thinks he might forget how much he loves her, this woman who stole his heart on a Brooklyn street when she spilt her morning coffee all over his favourite shirt and a pair of Angel’s pants. But then he catches a glimpse of chestnut hair, so dark red it looks brown, or a playful wink of glittering mahogany eyes, a loving look or a soft word, and he falls in love with her all over again.

“Willow dropped by today,” he said randomly, picking a stray thought from the whirlpool inside his mind. Today was just one of those days, he thought as he took a sip of his tea and rubbed her arm with his free hand.

“Oh yeh? What did you two talk about?” Once upon a time, there would have been an underlying current of hostility in such a statement. In the early years, up until Atikah was born, Bea had harboured a crazy sort of jealousy towards the Scoobies, and Willow in particular. She’d felt that they’d always have parts of him she couldn’t touch, and Willow held even more of him then even the other Scoobies. She’d been right too, to a certain extent.

but I could be restful, I could be someone's home

Due almost exclusively to the fact that she’d been absent from the first 25 years of his life, Bea just couldn’t have the memories and moments with him that the others had. Now, however, the tables were turned. Bea was his best friend, his partner and the mother of his children. Instead of having parts of him, Bea was a part of him, one that no-one else could touch, and no-one expected any different.

“She said Oz’s band has another record deal, a legit one this time. Looks like they might earn enough on this one to open up their own production company."

“That’s great! It’s what he’s always wanted.”

“Yeh, it is. Willow’s really excited, and she said the girls are too."

“How are they?” Bea asked, releasing Xander as she slid around his body, snagging his tea at the same time.

“Mel and Tara? Oh, good, I 'spose. They were at school, so they didn’t come by.”

“Oh, of course.” Bea slid up onto the kitchen island, crossing her legs and fiddling with the threads of her jeans.

“Did something happen at work today?” Xander asked, after a moment of just watching her. He stepped forward towards her, and she shook her head no, taking a swallow of tea as she did.

“Well, are you feeling ok?” Again, she shook her head, and Xander confiscated the tea mug, setting it to the side before turning to face her again, resting his hands on her thighs.

in an open room that echoes well, this is where I can tell you

“Are you happy?” Bea blurted out, her voice low and wavering. Caught off guard, Xander was speechless while he registered the question, trying to interpret the question in a way he was sure Bea would have meant it.

“Well, yeh, of course I’m happy! I have a loving family, a job I love, great friends and my mortgage is paid off. What’s not to be happy about?” he asked, incredulous, his arms extended in question.

but what could be worse?
that you don't look me in the eye
look me in the eye

“I just... well... nothing. Don’t worry.” She made to jump down from the counter, but Xander pressed down on her thighs lightly as a request for her not to. She complied, and settled back, purposely avoiding his gaze.

“Beatrix,” he began, a warning note in his use of her full name. “Talk to me.” There was an extended silence at that, in which Bea looked everywhere but at Xander, until she finally seemed to gather her courage and, exhaling loudly, turned her eyes to his.

i had to get the words out of my head
so i did

“I’m pregnant,” she whispered, her eyes filled with a mixture of emotions. What Xander wasn’t expecting to see there was fear.

“Oh baby,” Xander cooed, pulling her into his arms. “Were you afraid I wouldn’t want it?” Bea sniffled in response, burying her face in the soft grey cashmere of his sweater.

“I’ll never not want a child of ours. Never,” he whispered, soothingly, in her ear. She hugged him tighter, her legs wrapping themselves around his waist. He rocked her softly, trying to soothe her, although he had no idea why she was so upset.

“I’m sorry, I just... well, you’ve always said that four is a good number, and, well, I didn’t know if you wanted more, or if... and then, there’s a lot of hormones and so I kinda just... freaked out...” she trailed off, and Xander smiled at her as he slid a stray lock of hair behind her ear.

what you've got is what you wanted
what you need just happens to be

“Well, four is a good number, and we have our four. Now we have another one, for good luck. And besides, I’ve always felt sorry for Joey, sandwiched between Atikah and Maria. A brother would be good for him.” He leant his forehead against hers then, linking his hands behind her waist and scooting her even closer to him.

“How far along are you?” he asked, his voice almost reverant as he slipped a hand around to rub her stomach. They’d been together for 15 years, and he’d done this four times already, and yet Xander still felt 27 all over again, finding out that Bea was pregnant with Atikah.

“About three months. The nearest I can guess is your birthday.” Ahh, his birthday; Xander smirked at the memory. To distract him from the fact that he was turning the big 4-0, Bea had seduced him first thing that morning, and they’d spent the rest of the day making love. Spike and Faith, who lived next door, had complained that they’d been able to hear them, loud and clear, all day. Xander could feel a goofy grin coming on at the mere thought of that day. It had definitely renewed his appreciation for birthdays, that was for sure.

your smile: the soul of witchery

Xander’s grin only reassured Bea further, and she smiled slightly.

“You’re sure you’re happy about this?” she asked again, tentatively threading her fingers through his hair.

“Am I sure that I’m happy about having another beautiful child with the woman I love more than anything in the world?” Xander asked, his voice mock thoughtful. Bea worried her bottom lip between her teeth as she watched him, only releasing it when his face broke out into a brilliant smile.

“Yeh, I suppose I am.” Xander grinned at her again, pulling her closer for a kiss that would, hopefully, lead to much more.

After all, his kitchen is full of memories. What’s one more?

like water, it rushes,
it's the last thing you see when you close your eyes,
it's the one place you want to be

The End

You have reached the end of "Hearth Memory". This story is complete.

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