Pleading Innocent

Willow looked across the field at her daughters, frowning. Everyone was very tightly wound still, and she knew that Xander had had sentries put up to warn him when she came near. But she *needed* Blair. That was the only way Tara was ever going to be healed. It took an innocent, and she knew Tigger knew too much trouble to be innocent anymore. She thought about the situation, frowning at the woman playing with her children, her eyes widening as she watched the nanny turn into a large green cat. "Oh, no he didn't," she muttered. "We are *not* allowing demons to watch my children." The cat stopped and looked in her direction so she backed up. "Damn them," she whispered, turning and running away, using her newly found wraith skills to disappear into the woods.

Kaiya shooed all the children back into the house, and went to find Xander. "I heard someone, a woman," she said, leaning in the doorway of the library.

Xander looked up at her. "Willow?"

"Probably. Redhead. Not really fully here?"

"Yup. Her skills made her into a wraith the first time she cast a spell. It was the only way she could continue to access the magic." He stood up. "She still out there? Oh, and did I ever tell you that it's really funny to see a talking six foot cat?"

She snorted and changed back into her four foot human form. "Sorry. Kids are all inside." She winced as she heard screaming. "And picking on Blair. I'm going to stop that, thought you might want to know though." She walked away, heading to break up the picking-on-the-quiet-one session. "You do not pick on your sister," she said as she walked through the doorway. She stopped when she saw Blair's face twisted in anger and her sisters huddled together in the corner. "Hey, don't do that," she said, tapping Blair on the head. "Leave them alone. They're being butts, but you can't attack them. That makes you a butt."

Blair looked up at her, blinking her big, wet, eyes. "But they pick on me," she whispered.

"Yeah, but picking on them back doesn't help the situation. It makes you just as bad as them, Blair," Xander said, walking in through the door to the library. He held out his arms, letting her come over and give him a hug. "This has gone on long enough. No more picking on your sister. No matter which one. You will not pick on your sisters. Got it?" Miri and Tigger both nodded, their eyes very wide. "Good. What was she doing?" he asked the nanny.


"Bad dreamies," Tigger accused. "She sends them!"

"No, she doesn't," Xander sighed, sitting down on the floor. "Bad dreams don't come from her, they come from other sources, ones in your mind." Blair shook her head. "No, even if you could send bad dreams, you will not. Got it?" Blair nodded, snuggling back into the comfy lap. "Girls, come here," he said gently, getting two more bodies into his lap. "Listen, Blair's got a different ability than you guys, but that doesn't make her bad. That just makes her special."

"Me special!" Miri said fiercely. "She littler."

"You can be younger and still be special," Xander explained. "Being older doesn't make you any more special. What can you *do* makes you special, not your age. Otherwise, the Daddies would be *very* special. Okay, guys?" The girls all nodded. "And we won't be picking on anyone else, right?" Everyone but Miri nodded. "Miri?" Xander asked, giving her an unblinking stare.

"Me still specialer," she complained. "Me oldest. Not a twin either."

"True, in that regard, you are still special. But then so is William."

She snorted. "No like him, he little. He no know how to play yet."

"Then you can start to teach him," Xander said, letting the twins go so he could focus on his daughter. "Listen, I know it's hard to be the oldest, but you can *not* make fun of the twins or William. If you try, you're going to welcome being grounded. Got it?" She nodded. "Good. Now apologize for all the crap you've done to Blair recently."

"Sorry," she sighed, rolling her eyes when she was given a hug by the littler twin. "Get off."

Xander brushed a hand through her hair. "Blair's cuddly. That's another difference. If you don't like her cuddles, then you're not getting any from anyone." He put her back onto the floor. "Blair, can I have another hug?" She scrambled into his lap and clung to him, giving him her best hug. "Thanks, sweetie," he said, kissing her on the head. "Want to give Miri another one?" She shook her head. "Why not?"

"She mean. No likes hugs. Me no like giving them to her."

Miri pouted. "No fair. You cling. Not nice."

"Is too," Tigger snorted. "Blair gives good hugs." She walked over and hugged her twin. "See?"

Miri nodded, looking at the floor. Blair wiggled down and pounced on her, giving her a gentle hug. "Thanks."

"Welcome. You be nicer, you get more." She kissed the side of her sister's head then smiled up at Kaiya. "We go play now? Mommy not out there."

"Sure," Kaiya said, nodding outside. "Let's go play ball, guys." She got out of Miri's way, letting her run out the door first. "She always has to be first," she sighed, following the twins out.

"Maybe we should let Spike talk to her," Oz said from outside the playroom.

"Maybe," Xander grunted as he heaved himself up. "I'm pretty sure she'll go to him anyway." He walked out, stealing a kiss. "Any news on lunch?"

"I just made you a sandwich," Oz said, pinching him on the rear. "Go eat. I'll go watch the kids. Was it Willow?"

"Yeah, it was. And Blair noticed." He walked away, heading for the kitchen, letting Oz go watch over their children and the nanny.


Willow watched and waited for her chance, and finally, one came her way. Doyle came to town to look over the building he was buying and renovating for the school, and had invited the boys down to take a tour with Miri. She watched as they climbed into Xander's Explorer and left, leaving just a vampire and a cat demon to guard her twins. She floated out of the woods, coming up to the house. First, she stunned the local ghost, not wanting it to get in her way. Then she stunned Wesley, the wimpy vampire, and the nanny, gagging when she caught them in bed together. She floated into the nursery, shuddering at the murals on the walls, but she had to complete her plan. She wrapped her younger twin in her magic, and floated away from the house as fast as she could, disappearing into the woods so she could go back to her little pocket dimension and wait for tomorrow night. When the Fallen One would return to hear pleas.


Oz slapped his buzzing cellphone before picking it up, answering it immediately. There was only one person who wasn't in front of him that had the number, and had to be about the kids. "What happened?" he asked, stepping away from Doyle. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Put him on, Kaiya. Did you see her?" He sighed. "Thanks. We're on our way home now. Maybe, I don't know yet. Can you identify what she was?" He hummed as he hung up, turning to find Doyle getting Miri into her jacket and Xander standing right behind him. "Willow knocked everyone in the house out and took Blair," he said calmly. "Then she disappeared. And she's definitely a wraith now."

"Fuck!" Xander yelled, turning around to punch one of the mostly constructed walls. He hit it twice more before Oz stopped him. "I want to kill her," he ground out.

"Then we will," Oz reminded him. "Come on, we've got to get home. Doyle, coming over tonight?"

"Sure. Me n'the boys'll be over for dinner and some researchin'. Want me to call my boss?"

"Sure. The more the merrier," Xander said dryly, picking up Miri to give her a hug. "Honey, Blair's mommy has taken her for a while, so Kaiya and Wes are going to watch you, okay?"

"Spike coming?" she asked.

"Probably," Doyle agreed, patting the back of her head. "He owes Willow."

Xander put her down. "Take Daddy to the car and get him settled for me." He looked at Doyle. "I don't want your kids in danger too," he said softly.

"They won't be. She's gonna have to use her own blood line." He gave Xander a hug, whispering in his ear, "We knew she wanted Tara back. Angel said this was the only way, it had to be an innocent."

Xander snorted, smiling at his friend. "Blair's not an innocent," he said, limping out to his Explorer and getting in to drive.

Doyle looked at the impressive dent in the wall. "A picture'll cover that," he told the workmen, going back to his boys.


Wesley held out the book he had come down for as soon as Xander walked in, backing away from the growling man. "We were upstairs, the children were napping." He blushed faintly, it was as dark as he could get being a vampire. "She caught us and the house spirit unawares."

"Chill, it wasn't like you could fight her," Xander said, flipping through the book. "You're sure this is what she turned into? We were pretty sure what she had become but we never verified it."

"It's as close to the description I have as I could get." His blush got a little darker as Xander peered up at him. "I was," he cleared his throat, "engaged in doing something, Xander. I'm sorry. We thought we were safe because the children were down."

"Cool by us," Oz said as he walked in. "As long as they don't catch you at it like they tried to do to us." He took the book and sat down, pulling Xander into his lap. "Wasn't she originally turned into some sort of vampire?"

"No, that was Tara," Wesley sighed, sitting down. "What *exactly* was said to Willow was, 'You are not of any group now. No longer human, no longer mortal. Not dead or alive.' He turned her into a form of wraith that could touch magic, but could only use a little of it. She would have had the option of changing her form of wraith to something that could use magic better with her first spell, but no other time." He looked at the new Watcher, then up at the werewolf. "She's still a wraith, but she can use magic as well as the ghost in this house can."

"Okay. How do we stop her?" Xander asked, looking at the book on his lap. "All I see is an option to lock up."

"It's very hard to kill a ghost," Kaiya said, speaking up for the first time. She looked at Wes, who shrugged. "The Angel's coming back," she told them. "He's coming back to hear pleas tomorrow night, on the night of the new moon. She'd be taking the baby there if she really wants Tara freed."

"Can we stop her from making the plea?" Oz asked. Kaiya shook her head. "Then what do we do?"

"We show up and grab our child," Xander said coldly. "Can we get to her before then?"

"Wraiths such as her usually have a very protected realm that they live in. I doubt either she or Blair are on this realm right now." He looked at the doorway, smiling at the man who had just coughed. "Well, Rupert, what a nice surprise. Why are *you* here?"

"Because my tell-tales on the house told me Willow had come," he said, looking at his former lovers. "We might be able to find her, but not without a lot of magic, which would tell her that we were coming."

"She's got Blair," Oz said calmly. "We think she's trying to get Tara freed by making Blair ask for it." He pointed at the book. "It says somewhere in here that an innocent can ask an angel for anything and have it be granted."

Xander pointed at a blue book on the shelf across from them. "That one. And I never thought it was literal."

"It's not," Giles sighed, walking in and sitting down. "A Fallen One such as the one that cursed both Willow and Tara would be more likely to listen to an innocent, but there's no guarantee that he'll grant her petition."

"Blair's not an innocent," Xander pointed out. Everyone looked at him. "She attacked her sisters the other day because they were picking on her. She's a broadcaster, she sent them dreams."

"Nightmare images," Wesley corrected absently. "Still, she's innocent in ways that most count to one like him. She's still got her blood innocence and her physical innocence." The parents all glared at him. "What? It's one of the more supposedly holy forms of innocence. It had to be taken into account."

"Then why her and not Tigger?" Oz asked. "Elizabeth is just as innocent in those ways."

"Yes, but Blair is *sweeter*," Giles said grimly. "She exudes innocence and sweetness. She would be the best choice if Willow wanted to free Tara."

"Or herself," Kaiya noted. Xander looked at her. "With what she's done, how do we know she's not in this for herself? I'm sorry, but with what she cast on the demon community, I have a hard time believing that she's anything but self-centered, especially since I heard that someone had tried to talk her out of it before hand."

"Yes, we did," Giles said, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "She doesn't listen all that well, I'm afraid." He looked at Xander. "The best bet we have of stopping her is to show up tomorrow night."

"Then we'll go then," Oz said, rubbing Xander's back. "We know she can't be hurting Blair, she needs her too much."

Xander stood up and put the book back, shaking his head as he turned around. "No, she can screw with her mind." He went to the locked bookcases and pulled out a book, handing it over to Giles. "I lend you this one," he said formally. "So you can do what's on page 87. Protect my daughter for me as I don't have the skills."

Giles flipped through the blank pages until he came to the one with writing, nodding when he saw the spell. "Very well then, I can do this. I'll go outside and do it." He walked out, Kaiya following him to help him set things up.

"What spell?" Oz asked.

"One to protect her mental state," Wesley said, looking up at Xander. "Was that wise?"

"Can you think of a better idea?" Wesley shook his head. "That spell means," he told Oz, looking down at him, "that Willow won't be able to cause any long-lasting effects in Blair's mind. Everything she'll tell her will seem like a dream once we get her back. It shouldn't allow Willow to feed her too much crap and poison her against us."

"Okay," Oz said, letting him make this decision. "Want a hug?" Xander nodded and sat down on him, giving him a very clingy hug. "Wes, what can you do magically?"

"Not a lot. I'm more of a dabbler. We had to learn some during our training of course, but nothing more substantial than how to ward and how to bless weapons. I've studied a few of the older forms of magic as a hobby, but nothing more extraordinary than some simple blood-calling rituals."

"I'll let you learn if you want," Xander told him from his protected spot on Oz's chest.

Wesley smiled at them. "Vampires can't do that sort of magic, Xander. We do a more violence and blood based version." He stood up. "I wouldn't mind studying that way, I will need something to do if I'm going to be around for quite a while." He left them alone, going to watch Kaiya from a shadow on the porch.

Oz patted Xander's back. "It's okay. Giles will cast the spell and leave. Willow won't win this one."

"I'm going to kill her," Xander whispered.

"Nope, you won't, Xander," Oz promised him. "Spike has first dibs, he was hurt more by her." Xander looked up at him. "He was. He has first right."

Xander nodded and put his head back down. "All right, but I'm next in line." He closed his eyes, sending a small prayer to whomever was listening to protect his daughter.


Willow nudged Blair forward when the demon in front of them moved away. "Go ahead," she encouraged lightly.

Blair, who had heard stories all last night of how good her Auntie Tara had been, smiled up at the winged person up on the raised chair. "Hi," she said quietly, waving. "Are those real?"

The Fallen One waved his hand and the room cleared. "Yes, dear one, they are. Would you like to come up and feel them?" She nodded and ran up to touch one of the outstretched wings. "Soft, aren't they?" he asked, patting her on the head. He looked at Willow. "Having someone else ask for you?" he asked coolly.

"Not for me, for my former girlfriend Tara." She bowed. "Blair," she hissed.

"Mommy said that my Auntie Tara was nice and sweet but that she forced Auntie Tara to cast the spell," Blair said, not looking at him. "Mommy wants her to be normal again." She glanced up. "How did you get wings?"

The Fallen Angel laughed, picking her up to get a hug. "I have them naturally, little one." He handed her off to the robed figure that walked up beside them. "I think you're supposed to be with him, sweetheart." He looked down at Willow. "She is not an innocent, Willow, but I will consider your plea anyway because one such as her is a great pleasure for me to see. It's not often that I have children who are not afraid to ask what's on their minds put before me. Why not for yourself?"

"I've come to appreciate this form," Willow said honestly, looking up at him. "I understand so much more now, and...and I'm trying to atone for what I've done by helping those that need me."

"And if this Tara has accustomed herself to her new role?" the Fallen One asked.

"Then let me join her," Willow said firmly. "Or let her join me if she chooses."

The Fallen One shrugged, looking at the robed figure beside him, gauging his reaction. "So be it, you'll be returned to what you were and you will have two weeks to be changed into what she is." He waved a hand and changed her state, making her human again.

The robed figure handed the little girl he had been hugging off to her father and removed the hood from in front of his face. "With all due deference, she's mine," he told the Fallen One. "She owes me her life for not killin' her yet. With what she did to me, I should have rights to her. I claim vengeance." He looked over at Willow, making her squeak.


He walked down and grabbed her before she could run. "I claim vengeance rights," he repeated.

"Have them," the Fallen One said, waving a hand. "She still has two weeks to be turned by her girlfriend, or you if you so choose." He stood up. "Were there any more petitions?"

"Undo whatever you did to her," Xander said as he walked out from behind the throne, glaring at his former friend.

"Xander, you've got to believe me, I didn't mean to..." Her pleading was cut off by Spike shaking her.

"Shut it, you," he growled. He looked at Xander, then at the Fallen Angel. "Does she need fixed?"

The Demon shook his head. "Not in the least. The spell cast last night has guarded her mind well enough. She will remember that her mother took her and that she was working out of love for another, nothing more harmful than that." He sat back down and fluffed out his wings, looking down at Willow. "Your punishment shall begin tonight," he told her. "What you had done to this community was worth no less than permanent death, but others have interceded for you. It will be up to Spike to find your Tara for you and for you to ask her for forgiveness and to be turned. Remove her, Spike, before I become ill." He watched as the family left behind the vampire, shaking his head. He called back in the other petitioners, going back to his duties for the night. He had enjoyed the parent's plea, and it had been nice to have simple things asked of him for once, but it was time to go back to doing the impossible.


Xander walked into the house, leaning on Oz as he hugged his daughter as hard as he could. "We're back," he called out, brining Kaiya and Wesley running. "She's safe." He reluctantly handed his daughter off to Oz, who sat down at the table and cuddled her just as hard. "The Fallen Angel said she wasn't harmed and that the spell held."

"I'll call Giles and tell him," Wesley said, patting him on the arm. "Spike?"

"Claimed vengeance rights," Oz said, not looking up from cuddling.

"He's got two weeks to work on her, and then either Tara turns her or she ..." He trailed off, looking down at his daughter. "Well, I guess it won't matter," he said, looking at Wesley, who nodded.

"I'll call him tonight, I have an idea where he'll be staying in town." Wesley patted Blair on top of the head. "It's good to see you again, little one. We all missed you."

Blair smiled up at him. "Me like you too," she said, holding an arm up to get a hug from him too. "Daddy, let me hug the Unclie."

Oz slowly let her go, handing her off to Wesley when he was ready. He got up and hugged Xander, watching as Kaiya and Wes hugged her together. "Our baby's okay," he noted. Xander just hugged him hard, comforting them both.


Blair knocked on the door and walked in, smiling at the happy couple sitting together at the table, reading over some papers together. "Hey," he said, walking over to give them a hug. "I know you said Saturday, but Sam had this feeling that I should come out." He slid behind the table. "Anything major going on?"

"Just that our palimony has been solved," Oz said, not looking up.

"And we got our little Blair back," Xander said, shooting Oz a grin.

"Uh-huh," Blair said, leaning back. "Truth guys?"

"Truth," they said together, looking up and smiling.

"Willow took Blair to petition for Tara's release from her punishment," Oz told him.

"We got her back, after Giles helped us actually," Xander told him. "He actually offered to help us, no strings, no nothing."

"Uh-huh," Blair repeated.

"Yeah, and he amended his desires from the palimony. Didn't ask for hardly anything," Oz added.

"Gee, that was nice," Blair said dryly. "Any lasting effects from her capture?"

"Not a one," Xander told him. "That was what Giles cast, to make it all seem like a dream to her once we got her back."

"Yeah, and the Fallen Angel really liked her," Oz said, looking at Xander. "He seemed to think she was a pretty neat little kid."

"Well, she is. She's a lot like me," Xander said, grinning at him. He pinched Oz's cheek. "Like Daddy, like daughter. Genes don't tell that much," he said when Blair opened his mouth. "But the nanny has them right now."

"And how is she working out?" Blair asked.

"Good," Xander admitted. "I trust her a lot more now. She didn't smack William around when he grabbed her tail."

Blair shook his head. "Tail? Is she deformed?"

"No, just a rather large cat at times," Oz said.

"A green one," Wesley said as he walked in, smiling at Blair. "Blair, do you have any idea where I might find someone rather...special to make mine."

"Whoa, I doubt you're ready to make a child," Blair said, his eyes wide.

"Not a child," Wesley snorted. "Someone to take in as a feeder." He slid in across from Blair. "During our sojourn, I found a sort of person that tasted very...." He got a dreamy look on his face. "I don't remember anything from my mortal life that tasted that good. And they're very hardy creatures. The one I tasted healed very quickly and seemed to like the act of the feeding."

Blair shook his head. "I have *no* idea what you're talking about. I'm not really sure I want to, but if I find one, I'll gladly send them your way, okay, Wesley?"

Wesley smiled. "Thank you. Oz has even said that if we started a true relationship between us three, then they might be able to stay here."

"You did?" Xander asked Oz.

"I told him he couldn't keep just a feeder here."

"Oh. Okay." Xander looked at Wesley. "As long as it's a real relationship, that's fine with us. Just no using them for their tastiness."

Wesley nodded. "Definitely. I would never do anything else. Using someone like that in front of the children has never occurred to me, it would set a very bad example." He smiled at Xander. "Though, if I do find one, will you meet them, feel them out to see if we match?"

"Sure," Xander said, shrugging. "Anytime, Wes."

"What's Kaiya think about all this?" Oz asked.

"She's very pragmatic about it. She realizes that I'm much more comfortable feeding during sexual relations, and that the only real way for me to remain monogamous with her is to bring a third person between us. She said as long as she agrees and they agree, she would have no problem."

"Then it's fine by us, as long as all parties agree," Oz said.

Xander leaned over and nipped Oz's nose for him. "Lawyer speak."

"Shoot." He pulled a quarter out of his pocket and tossed it over at his lover. "You're the only one who knows where the jar is."

"Jar?" Blair asked.

"Oz has been going back to legal speak lately and he doesn't want to keep sounding like that. So we set up a jar for him to stop. A quarter each time he starts talking like that."

"Is it working?" Blair asked.

Oz nodded. "Ten dollars worth so far. The palimony hearings set it off again." He got comfortable. "But I'm getting better."

"Good." Blair smiled and leaned forward. "So what did Sam see, guys?"

"How does she see?" Wesley asked.

"She sees things from a crime perspective. At the scene usually." Blair looked him over. "You know about visions?"

"Yes, our friend Cordelia has them. She gets precognitive episodes about things we need to take care of."

"Sam gets visions after the fact, after someone has been killed. This time, she got a very strong feeling that we needed to come up here and check on you guys."

"We're fine," Oz told him.

Outside, a siren went off.