Alexander sat anxiously waiting to hear the words. Yesterday it would have mattered what the words would be... Now he just wanted to know. He had had enough time to decide that whatever The Shamenka said, he would love Willie just the same.
But for now, all he could do was wait.
Finally The Shamenka shifted Willie in her arms and opened her eyes. When her gaze met the worried eyes of Alexander, they softened. "Worry not child, your son is as he was meant to be. He has inherited a talent from you, the ability to attract spirits and demons."
"So does this mean that Willie is possessed by Spike?" Alexander asked in nervous anticipation.
"No, he now carries his father in the same way that you carry the hyena and the soldier, are you possessed by them?" she asked calmly.
"I'm not now, but I was. Now I have their memories and their instincts, but their... consciousness isn't with me." he said, searching for the words.
"That's exactly what happened to the young one. He, like you, has a spirit that calls out to displaced spirits and demons, when the child's father died his final death, he must have had a soul, because it came into contact with your child and imprinted itself on him. I can imagine that the combined pull of you and the child you were carrying, would have been quite irresistible." The Shamenka said as she began to refill the teacups on the coffee table.
"So let me get this straight, Willie is a seamonster, human, vampire, demon-magnet?" Alexander asked carefully.
"No, not exactly. To become a true vampire he would have to have been made a vampire in the traditional fashion. The child is part sea creature, which he inherits exclusively from you, part human, which he inherits from you and his other father, and part demon which he inherits exclusively from his other father. And by that I mean to say that he is the spawn of a demon, not possessed by a demon." The Shamenka said sagely.
Alexander needed a few minutes to process all that, finally he had it all in place in his mind and asked his next question. "What about his growing? He's not even three weeks old and he's walking."
"I suspect that your friend Wesley is correct in his assessment. He will most probably have growth spurts for a while. He will grow quickly through his childhood years and probably slow to a more normal growth rate at the onset of puberty. After that the growth rate should slow to a near stop when he reaches adulthood." She said speculatively.
"Um... isn't there some way to speed him through the puberty too? I mean, that's the one phase of his life that I'm really worried about. What with rebellion, hormones and stuff." Alexander asked, worried.
"No, the child will need those formative experiences to make him into whatever type of adult he will be. And you need to go through those experiences with him." The Shamenka said with absolute certainty, then took a sip of tea.
"Why do I have to go through it with him?" Alexander asked, even more worried.
"Because puberty is natures way of making parents let go of their young when the time comes... Believe me, it works." The Shamenka said with a wide eyed, distant gaze.
After a moment of thought Alexander asked, "Since his adult growth rate slows down so much, does that mean he's virtually immortal?"
"From a human perspective, I suppose you could say that. Assuming that he lives to the end of his natural lifespan... I can only say that it would be inconvenient to measure in units less than centuries." The Shamenka said, trying to find the correct words.
"Okay... seamonster, human, demon-spawn, immortal, demon-magnet... anything else I should know?" Alexander asked warily.
"Just some small matters. It is time that he be introduced to solid food. Basically you need to wean him off the blood, and when you are finished he should only need blood once a week to meet his demonic nutritional needs." The Shamenka said professionally.
"Good, I was hoping he wouldn't feed exclusively on blood, that would get expensive quick." Alexander said offhandedly.
"Quite. Are you still living with Liam?" The Shamenka asked without insinuation.
"Yes, I have a room in his hotel. Why?" Alexander asked, warily.
"The child needs examples of demons in his life, especially vampires, to give him a sense of normalcy. This is a concern for most children of mixed heritage who don't live with both parents. They need to be exposed to both cultures." The Shamenka said in a lecturing tone.
"We live with Angel... I mean, Liam. So that shouldn't be a problem." Alexander said dismissively.
"But what the child needs is to see him in his demon form. If he becomes used to seeing Liam in human form, he may feel that he should be ashamed of his demon heritage, and thereby deny his other father's legacy." she said while offering chocolate chip cookies on a plate.
"I would never want him to be ashamed of Spike. I don't think Angel will mind, and I'll ask Lorn if he would visit with Willie. Lorn is a good guy." Alexander said, going into deep thought.
The Shamenka nodded with agreement.
"I guess that's all I wanted to ask, I'll take Willie home now and tomorrow we'll start him on human food." Alexander said as he stood to go.
"Try starting him with chunks of raw meat at body temperature, soaked in blood. He has the teeth to handle it and it should make the transition a little easier. Just a few bites to begin with and his usual blood after he's eaten his solids. He may decide that he likes it and ask for more sooner. He may not and you'll have to push it on him. Either way, over the course of the next few weeks, increase the solids and decrease the blood and slowly introduce a variety of foods. He may get fussy about it, but be persistant. Know that you are doing it for his own good." The Shamenka said, handing Willie to Alexander and walking with him out of the living room.
* * * * *
In the kitchen Angel, Wesley, Gunn, Fred and Lorn waited nervously. Alexander entered the kitchen carrying a sleeping Willie, he was followed by The Shamenka.
"So how is he?" Gunn asked before anyone else could think of what to say.
"He's fine. He just has Spike's memories, he's not possessed. Since he's able to talk, he'll probably remember other things that Spike knew and it'll be easier to raise him." Alexander said cheerily. The Shamenka stood aside and got an 'I wouldn't bet on it' look on her face.
Angel noticed the look and shuddered. [Adult Spike was a challenge to control, baby Spike... did I remember to pay the insurance premium on the hotel?] Angel thought to himself as the group prepared to leave.
"Liam, a moment of your time." The Shamenka said in her motherly 'do it now' tone.
"Of course." he said to The Shamenka before turning and saying, "I'll be out in a minute." to the group going out the kitchen door.
"I am aware of some of your history with Spike, you need to know that this child is not Spike, he just holds his memories. He will say and do things that will try to... 'push your buttons'." She said in a tone that made it apparent she didn't like using such a contemporary phrase.
"So I should ignore him when he does?" Angel asked, seriously.
"Hells below us! no. Never ignore his misbehaving, punish incorrect behavior and reward correct behavior. Just don't react to him as Spike... perhaps you could look at this as your chance to get it right?" she finished, tidying up the coffee cups in the kitchen.
Angel, realizing that he had been dismissed, made his way out of the kitchen and out to the car, deep in thought.
* * * * *
Wesley had arrived on his motorcycle, so he went home from The Shamenka's house. Angel dropped Gunn and Fred off at their apartment building. As he was making the turn to Lorn's, Alexander spoke, "Lorn, The Shamenka suggested that it might be a good idea for Willie to be around some demons, because I'm human... looking... and she thought he needed to be comfortable around non-human people."
Lorn looked at him with caution and said, "No insult meant to you or your kid, baby cakes, but I don't do well around children. I mean, I'm just not emotionally equipped to deal with them."
Angel looked at Lorn and remembered things that only he knew. Angel's undead heart broke as he thought of Connor and remembered how Lorn had taken care of him as a baby.
"Lorn, would you please try, for the baby's sake. We won't leave you alone with him or anything. He just needs to get to know you." Angel said with uncharacteristic pleading. He would never tell anyone his motives, but he couldn't deny Lorn this experience; it had made Lorn so happy before. Lorn had such a wealth of paternal instinct that it would be a crime to waste it.
Lorn looked with surprise at Angel's request. He didn't know that old dark and dangerous had it in him to care about a child. "Fine, I'll stop by now and then, but remember that you promised that I don't get left alone with him." Lorn said as they pulled up in front of his building.
"Thank you Lorn, I really appreciate your help." Alexander said genuinely.
* * * * *
Angel and Alexander arrived back at the hotel as Willie was waking up.
"Bloody 'ell, where'm I?" Willie asked from his Poppa's arms.
"We're back at the hotel. We went for a drive and you fell asleep." Alexander said soothingly.
"Bloody starving, give us a mug, would'ja pop?" Willie asked with a very Spike-like smile.
Alexander and Angel stared at each other in astonishment. Willie had only been able to say a few words before he went to sleep. Now he sounded like Spike... same accent, same inflection, same vocabulary...
"Sure... Angel, would you mind heating some blood while I bring in Willie's things?" Alexander asked in a daze.
"Yeah." Angel answered in his own daze.
"Why'm I feelin all soggy down below?" Willie asked as Alexander juggled Willie with one arm and the diaper bag with the other.
"If your skin dries out you'll get sick. So we've been putting wet diapers on you." Alexander said as he struggled to get child and diaper bag into the hotel.
"I can bloody well walk if ya let me down, pop." Willie said in a voice that was too Spike.
Alexander let Willie down and said, "You couldn't have told me that out at the car?"
Willie just responded with a mischievous grin and ran to the kitchen.
Alexander dropped the diaper bag and went to follow Willie.
"I'm too short ta git inta the fuckin chair." Willie screamed in frustration, trying to get up to the table.
"Willie! Watch your language." Alexander said as he walked into the room. Angel was just watching silently as the blood heated.
"Or you'll do what?" Willie said defiantly.
Alexander thought for a moment then got an evil smile. "Barney, Teletubbies, Blue's Clues..."
"Bloody 'ell! Alright. I'll keep me a civil tongue, just don't do that ta me. That... that's like abuse." Willie huffed indignantly.
Angel placed the mug of blood on the table and looked questioningly at Alexander.
Alexander lifted Willie to stand in the chair and asked, "Do you think you can handle a mug, or do I need to put it in a bag for you?"
"Let me try the mug, pop." Willie mumbled as he picked it up with both hands and carefully tipped the mug to his lips.
He quickly put the mug back down on the table, spilling a little and with a glare at Angel said, "You got it too hot, ya bloody wanker."
Angel was far beyond speech at this point. He just stood and stared at the miniature Spike. Alexander however was very much able to talk. "Willie, you apologize this minute. Angel was kind enough to heat the blood for you and this is his house. You will not disrespect him."
Willie considered for a moment and shyly said, "Sorry."
Alexander looked at Angel, signaling him not to talk then asked, "What are you sorry for Willie?"
"I'm sorry I called you a wanker, thank you for heating the blood for me. That was nice." Willie said, near tears.
Alexander nodded, then Angel said, "It's okay Willie, I'm not angry. If you'll be nice to me, I'll be nice to you. Okay?"
"Okay." Willie mumbled.
"You're blood should be cool enough to drink now, give it a try." Angel said quietly.
Willie carefully lifted the mug and took a drink while Alexander went to get a towel to clean up the spilled blood.
"Do ya 'ave sumthin I could put in this? It's awfully... liquid." Willie said with a crinkled nose.
"I know just the thing." Alexander said happily as he went to the cupboard and got out the tin of wheat-a-bix that he had bought... Just in case.
Willie's eyes got big when he saw the tin and he said, "Thanks pop!"
"Definitely Spike's son." Angel said with a smile as he walked to the sink to rinse out his mug.
"Yeah, he is." Alexander said happily.
* * * * *
In the darkness outside the Hyperion Hotel a figure lurked. She had been keeping watch and had seen Alexander carrying the child, and heard the child's words.
She mumbled to herself, "Don't worry baby, GranMum's here for you."