The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe - Willow & Tara Forever

General Chat  || Kitten  || WaV  || Pens  || Mi2  || GMP  || TiE  || FAQ  || Feed - The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe

All times are UTC - 8 hours



Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 430 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 11, 12, 13, 14, 15
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:52 pm 
Offline
6. Sassy Eggs
User avatar

Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 7:19 pm
Posts: 412
Topics: 2
Hello, Dragon. Welcome to the party. I'm always glad to hear more people are enjoying the story. Yes, it will continue. I have not abandoned it. I have not stopped writing, even though it may look like it at times.

My writing output has merely been reduced due to several personal factors. I mentioned a six month long bout of writers block a few posts ago, but another issue is the fact that I have had to go down to Florida three times in the last year and a half to help my younger sister move from one apartment to another.

There have been other issues but I'm getting back into the trenches and very eager to get the rest of the chapters in this act written and posted for all of you to enjoy. Hopefully without anymore six to twelve month long delays.

_________________
Time and Time Again


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2018 2:33 am 
Offline
9. Gay Now
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 7:45 pm
Posts: 967
Topics: 15
Location: Beyond the orbit of Mars and accelerating...
Think i'm up to 20 or so, now.

_________________
“All I feel is sunlight. All I hear is music.” Willow
How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


My Story: Coming Home


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 8:53 pm 
Offline
2. Floating Rose
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:32 pm
Posts: 35
Well, Helloooooooo! I am still with you for the long haul, Citanul, but real life DOES tend to stick it's ugly neck out occasionally.
Great work on the most recent update, and as always, keep up the good work and keep it coming!!
Love and Blessings

_________________
[font=][font=]Strength in our arms, truth on our tongue, clarity in our heart[/font][/font]


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2019 8:41 pm 
Offline
6. Sassy Eggs
User avatar

Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 7:19 pm
Posts: 412
Topics: 2
Time and Time Again.

Author: Citanul

Feedback: Be kind, rewind? Seriously though all feedback is welcome.

Spoilers: Just about all of them. Go watch the show. And Angel too. Also Agents of Shield a little bit. You know what, if a name you don’t recognize pops up most of the time you can find dozens of pages of character bio if you type that name and the word comics into Wikipedia. It’s almost scary how much page space comic book fans have taken up on that site.

Rating: NC-17 = Smutty smut smut smut. Seriously though they make love quite often.

Pairings: W/T, B/F, G/J, D/J, F/G, A/?, X/A. Also D/C (Though not till they’re older and even then maybe not so much with the graphic detail.)

Disclaimer: You all know I don’t own the rights to characters you’ve seen on TV.

Summary: A story of reincarnation and interdimensional travel made possible through the power of love. What misfortunes will our two favorite love birds be able to prevent with the aid of experience from countless past lives?

Author’s Note: And we're back. This one ran long so it's split in two parts. You guys are probably used to more vulgar language from some of the characters in my works, but be warned. There are some guest characters in this chapter that use particularly vile slurs here and there. I'll have the second part up in a few days. Just need to go over it once or twice more with grammarly and spellcheck.

*****

Chapter 40: Family Part One

“Well, she's gone.” The infuriated huff was far too obvious in the gypsy's voice. The brunette paced the length of the cramped motel room, never once sparing a glance to the Englishman sitting at the small table between the dresser and television. “Angel is back at the hotel. His ex isn’t going to single him out anymore. That new Slayer is keeping him on a tight leash. All our allies are dead, and we have absolutely nothing to show for it.” She came to a stop and glared at the Englishman sitting across the room. “Well? What are we still doing here? What was the point of all this? What am I supposed to tell the clan now?”

Ethan Rayne smiled as he stood and approached the gypsy. Jenny scowled as he came up to her, gently placing his hands on her shoulders. “My dear, though it may not look it, things are going exactly according to plan.” The incredulous look she gave him drew a sly grin. “The vampire is going to slip right back into his old routine, none the wiser. He’ll think himself free and clear right up until the next big surprise comes up and pulls the rug out from under his feet. Trust me. In time he will suffer unimaginable anguish. The likes of which not even your clan could inflict upon him.”

Jenny was skeptical for a moment before she looked into Ethan’s eyes and asked the obvious. “Just what are you going to do to him?”

“Me? Do something to the vampire?” The smarmy Englishman asked with faux innocence. “Why I’ll do nothing of the sort. The misery coming for our dear boy is entirely of his own making. He’s already set things in motion. All we need do is sit back and watch the show.”

The man’s answer surprised the former computer teacher. She did not expect the laid back response or the confident tone that accompanied it. “What’s coming for him?”

Another confident smile surfaced as Ethan Rayne put an arm around Jenny Calendar’s shoulders. “My dear, I believe it’s time I brought you in on the much larger schemes at play, but to sum it all up in a single word,” his unsettling smile grew as he paused to lean in and whisper. “Family.”

*****

“So dorm or downtown apartment?” The brunette asked with a cocky smirk as she walked through the graveyard hand in hand with her girl.

The question caught the petite blonde off guard. “Huh?”

“Living conditions, B.” Faith said as she felt a strong demonic presence off to their left. The Slayers veered in the direction of their new prey, not once worrying about the outcome of the coming battle. “Where do you want us to live next year?”

Buffy’s head tilted to the side in confusion. “We’re moving in together?”

The question took Faith by surprise. The Slayer stopped in her tracks, turning to look into confused hazel eyes. “You don’t want to live with me, B?”

“What? No! I mean yes! Of course, I want to live with you, Honey.” The blonde stammered out her quick reply as she noticed the tiniest of tears building in the corner of her girl’s expressive brown eyes. “I always want you with me. I just, I didn’t think you’d want to move out of your home.”

“You’re my home, B.” Faith’s response was firm and unquestionable. She took her girl’s hands in hers and pulled her close. “I love you, Buffy.”

Buffy all but melted at the devotion and warmth behind Faith’s words. “I love you too, Faith.” The Slayers took a moment to stare into each other’s eyes.

Eventually, they went back to their hunting. Faith still held Buffy’s hand as they moved through the graveyard. “So where are we moving for our freshman year of college?”

“I didn’t know if you wanted to leave your home with Will and Tara,” Buffy admitted as she walked along at her girl’s side. “I’d be fine wherever you were, but this is the first time you’ve ever had a real home with a real family who loves you. I didn’t want to take that away from you by demanding we get a student apartment or something.”

“Shit, it ain’t like I’m moving across state lines or nothin’.” Faith laughed as she and Buffy’ came to the back fence of the graveyard. The Slayers wordlessly scaled the length of wrought iron fence, landing in the sparsely wooded area along the rear perimeter of the cemetery they had been patrolling. “We’ll still be in town. Still be patrolling every night. I don’t know about you but I ain’t about to miss out on any of Jen’s, Tara’s, or your mom’s cooking. We’ll leave our college campus pussy palace, do a quick patrol over to Rovello Drive and check in with whichever part of the Mom Squad cooked that night, then we finish up patrolling the rest of town before heading back to our pussy palace, showering together, and getting in a little down and dirty before calling it a night.”

“Pussy palace?” Buffy asked as she sported an even more confused expression.

Faith smirked before putting on an unconvincing innocent expression. “I mean, what else would you call the one bedroom, one bath, half a kitchen shack where I go to town on your pussy, B?”

“Fine!” Buffy huffed even as a smile spread across her lips. She and her girl walked into an open clearing with three demons covered in dull blue scales loitering around a picnic table. “We can move into a pussy palace our freshman year and mooch meals off Mom and Jen.”

“Awesome!” Faith shouted as she leapt forward, butterfly swords out and ready to carve into demonic flesh. One demon was dead before the other two even knew there was an obvious threat.

“Slayers!” A demon growled as it reared back and readied its claws.

“Demon!” Buffy imitated, mocking the two remaining fiends. The petite blonde smiled as the second demon squared off against her. The third demon was already dead by Faith’s hand. The brunette smirked and sent her girl a sly wink as the last of the trio lunged in Buffy’s direction. A sidestep. One quick slice with Buffy’s longsword. A thud as a body fell to the grass at their feet.

Buffy let out an annoyed sigh as she eyed her favorite magic sword. She and Faith both fished out the handkerchiefs they kept specifically for demon gore that didn’t burn away within seconds of contact with their magic blades. “I hate it when they leave gunk behind.”

“Yeah, sucks don’t it?” Faith agreed as she cleaned and sheathed her blades. She looked around and spotted the quick fix she was looking for. “B, there’s a manhole cover right over there. Since these guys ain’t melting away how ‘bout we toss ‘em in there for Lenny.”

Buffy smirked as she thought back to one of the earliest Slayer related conversations she ever had with Faith.

*****

It had been a week since Willow and Tara made Faith a Slayer. Buffy could not be happier about the changes the young brunette brought to her life. One night the Slayers were patrolling the warehouse district around the Bronze when they came across a pair of demons lurking in an alleyway. Before the demons could attack anyone walking by the alley the Slayers went to work. In no time at all, the deed was done. Two scab covered bodies lay motionless at their feet, causing Faith to look around in confusion.

“B? These ones ain’t melting or dusting. Did we do something wrong?” Buffy had to hold back a small laugh as she rolled up her sleeves and began to drag one demon corpse deeper into the alleyway. “Seriously, what do we do now? No one said that we’d have to bury a bunch of dead bodies just so the oblivious townies don’t catch on.”

“It’s fine, Faith. Just grab that one and come this way.” Faith didn’t know how Buffy could be so sure that disposal was a minor issue. “There should be… here!” The upbeat tone in Buffy’s voice threw Faith for a loop. The newest Slayer could only watch in confusion as the girl she lusted for removed a manhole cover near the back of the alleyway and shoved one dead demon into the hole. “It’s best to just let Lenny handle these.”

Faith had blinked in utter confusion as she watched Buffy dump the second dead body and reseal the hole. “Who the hell is Lenny?”

“Demon garbage disposal,” Buffy said as she brushed off her hands. “Large, eater, non… something, something… I forget what the other letters stood for but most large cities have a huge sewer monster that eats dead bodies left underground for too long.”

“Holy shit!” Faith cried out as she imagined the most hideous monstrosity that could possibly exist in the sewers beneath a hellmouth. “When do we kill it?”

“We don’t,” Buffy said as she took the brunette’s hand and began to lead her out of the alleyway. “Come on, let’s finish patrol and head home. Mom has been all antsy since she learned about my night job.”

“What do you mean we don’t kill it?” Faith had no idea how to move on from the topic of body eating sewer demons. “Isn’t that what Slayers are for?”

Buffy stopped as they came to the mouth of the alleyway. The petite blonde turned to her newest ally and held the girl’s attention with a firm glare. “Okay, I was wondering when this would come up. I’m glad it’s now and not later when you meet up with Alonna’s Crew.”

“That’s the other girl Red and Blondie gave the full-on Slayer upgrade to, right?” Faith asked as Buffy held her hands and stared into her eyes.

“Right.” Buffy agreed before taking a breath and making sure she had all of Faith’s attention. “Listen to me, Faith. Not all demons are evil.”

Faith laughed for a second before the serious tone in the blonde’s voice sunk in. “Wait, you’re serious. Demons are killer monsters. How do you have not evil killer monsters? Ain’t that against the rules?”

“Most demons are evil monsters, yes,” Buffy admitted before moving on with more conviction in her voice. “Most of the demons you and I will meet on patrol are as evil as they get. That’s why we’re here. The hellmouth attracts the absolute worst of the worst. If they spend enough time here most demons and just about every vampire will cause the death of innocent people… but not all demons come to the hellmouth.”

“Yeah, that’s what Red and Blondie set up this Al chick in L.A. for.” Faith agreed, not quite getting the point. “To kill the ones that hide out in the big city cause they don’t got the stones to try shit here.”

“That’s part of it,” Buffy admitted. “But not all of it. You weren’t there so this may come as a shock but you’ll need to learn to play nice if you’re gonna work with some of the people Will and Tara are having Alonna work with. Not all demons are evil monsters that eat people and try to end the world. Yes, a lot of them are, but for every vampire and death cultist, there are a hundred nonviolent demons that are just trying to live their lives. Most of them have small homes in the bigger human cities and some even pay taxes.”

“Okay, now I know you’re messin’ with me. I get it, B. Pull one over on the new girl. I gotta take my lumps. Ha, ha… ha?” Faith scoffed at the notion of tamed and mild-mannered demons. Her incredulous tone started out strong but soon tapered off as it became clear the other Slayer was not joking.

“They spent a week drilling this lesson into the heads of all the boys Alonna and her brother order around.” Buffy went on, ignoring the derision in her new friend's voice. “There are innocent people who need protecting from the world-enders and the people eaters. Some of those people are not human. Some of them are here because their worlds no longer exist. Some because they ended up here by accident and have no way to get home. They are trying to make the most of their lives. We don’t bother people who are just trying to get by in human society without actually being human. We Slay monsters. We don’t murder immigrants and refugees. That's the difference between a Slayer and a killer.”

“You’re serious about this.” Faith said as she finally realized some of her assumptions over the last week had been wrong. “Okay, I can deal.” Another long uneasy moment passed before Faith connected all the things Buffy had said. “So what is this Lenny demon, and how many demons are working with the L.A. Crew?”

“Oh, I’m not actually sure,” Buffy admitted as they began to walk down the street. “The way Giles explained it “Lennies” are a nickname for anything big that lives underground, eats abandoned dead bodies, and doesn’t fight back unless you actually go into its lair and back it into a corner. Most places have them and the demon and magic communities all agree that feeding the dead to the local Lenny is the best way to keep regular people in the dark about the whole monsters and magic thing. The last thing anyone wants is a bunch of dead bodies lining the streets. That’s how you get angry mobs with torches and pitchforks marching down the street. No one wants the witch hunts to start up again. You and I could probably fend for ourselves, but what about Will, Tara, and Jen?”

“Fuck that noise.” Faith growled back as they came to the entrance of one of Sunnydale’s smaller graveyards. “Any pissed off townies come after my girls, I’ll start crackin’ heads.”

“And I’ll help.” Buffy agreed with a smile. “But it’s easier if the ridiculously high mortality rate in this town gets overlooked by feeding the Lenny.”

“What about Al’s pet demons?” Faith asked again. “You said Red and Blondie had her workin’ with some domesticated types. Who do I have to not stake when I meet them?”

“Well, one is Doyle.” Buffy began with the easy explanation. No sense in scaring her new friend off before she could explain herself. “He’s half human and half demon. He has all these hangups about his demon side, and how he lost his job and his wife after finding out his absentee father was a demon, but he’s actually a really nice person. Alonna likes to joke that he’s her sensitive biracial friend.”

Faith cocked her head to the side as she pondered Buffy’s words. “He had a human job and a life before all this demon shit went sideways on him?”

“Uh-huh. He used to be a teacher. Willow and Tara even helped him get his license back, and now he’s making sure Alonna’s friends all get their G.E.D.s.” The pride and hope in Buffy’s voice set some of Faith’s concerns aside. If her new housemates had really gone to bat for the guy and vetted him as much as they had with her, gotten him on task and helping a fellow Slayer, then there wasn’t any need for her to worry.

“And then there’s Angel,” Buffy said. The sullen tone in the petite blonde’s voice cut through all other thoughts going through the brunette’s head.

“He a half demon too?” A part of Faith knew the answer had to be worse.

“Vampire.” Buffy let out in a whisper.

“Whoa, okay hold up.” Faith pulled her fellow Slayer to a halt. “Vampire? Like the things we Slay? I get that some demons might not be all that bad, but that ain’t the case with vamps, B.”

“You’re right… usually.” Buffy added a qualifier that did little to ease Faith’s nerves. “He was a normal evil vampire, until about a hundred years ago when gypsies cursed him and forced him to live with his human soul. Since then he hasn’t been able to feed on humans without serious melodrama and regret.”

“But he still drinks blood.” Faith said with only a slight questioning tone.

“Pig’s blood.” Buffy defended the vampire to Faith’s utter shock. “He gets it from butchers’ shops and slaughterhouses. Warms it up in a microwave and… why are you looking at me like that?”

“You actually care about this soul vamp?” Faith asked as she tried to fight off the unseemly fears crashing through her mind.

Buffy threw her arms up in exasperation. “It’s not as bad as it sounds!”

“Then explain it for me, B.” Faith pleaded with her new friend. “And keep it real simple for those of us who dropped out of middle school.”

“He helped me,” Buffy said as some of the wind left her sails. “There were other vampires that he knew about and he told me how to find them and stop them. He even fought them with me. We saved each other’s lives. We got close…”

“Shit, B. Tell me you didn’t sleep with a vampire.” Faith moaned as she began to fear the worst.

“No!” Buffy snapped before she deflated further. “It never got to that. Willow said…”

Faith fought the impulse to scoff at Buffy’s emotional struggle. No vampire was worth this much concern. “Red stopped you from sleeping with a vampire that had an extra sad sob story?”

“She made him move to L.A. with Alonna because if he had stayed here he and I would have broken his curse and he’d become a monster again.” Buffy felt a few tears slide down her cheek before brushing at them and turning away from Faith. “I know, pathetic, right? I don’t even start really dating a guy and my best friend puts a stop to it because in her past life he lost his soul five minutes after I lost my virginity. He and I can’t even be in the same city for more than a few days because if he turns into a monster then this big prophecy won’t come true and he’ll never be turned human again. If anything good is going to happen I need to wait a few years, or find someone else.”

Faith froze. She had no idea how to work through the tangled web her crush was weaving. She was only certain of two important facts. First, there was a serious conversation she needed to have with both of the witches. They knew her feelings and had neglected to tell her certain devastating facts. Secondly, she had time to win her crush over. If Buffy was still hung up on this worthless vampire that needed to wait years or even decades for some big damn cosmic reward then that gave Faith years or even decades to convince Buffy that the Mr. “Right At The End Of The Rainbow” she was holding out for was a poor substitute for Ms. “Right Here Right Now Check Out This Rack.”

Buffy began to fidget as Faith stood still. Moments of tension and regret passed before Buffy could speak again. “Okay. I get it. I’m a freak. If this is a problem then you don’t have to patrol with me. I can go back to Slaying alone. I’ll just…” Buffy turned and began to wander off, only for Faith’s hand to whip out and grab her wrist.

“Whoa, hey. Where you goin’, B? What do ya mean, patrol alone?” Faith asked as she pulled her crush closer to her and puffed out her chest ever so slightly. Deep down Faith really hoped putting her girls on display for the blonde would speed up her romantic plans. “Ya ain’t gettin’ rid of me that easy. You and me are a team.”

“Really?” Buffy asked as Faith saw hope blossom in hazel eyes once more. “I didn’t freak you out with the whole “My almost ex is a two-hundred-year-old vampire with a gypsy curse?” I’d get it if that was a deal breaker. You shouldn’t have to put up with…”

“I’m on your side, Buffy.” Faith maintained steady eye contact as she spoke.

The fact that Faith said Buffy's actual name was not lost on the blonde. She only needed one hand to count the number of times Faith had addressed her as “Buffy.” Buffy smiled more brightly than she had all week. Faith felt a matching smile overcome her as her crush pulled her into a tight embrace. “Thank you, Faith.”

“Ain’t no big, B.” Faith whispered back as she wrapped her arms around her crush. “You’ll always have me watchin’ your back.”

*****

Buffy smiled as she recalled Faith’s acceptance the first time she brought up her ex. Faith's easy compliance with their use of the local Lenny, her casual friendship with Doyle, even her begrudging acceptance of Angel had done wonders to earn Buffy's respect in the early days of their partnership. Respect, which only doubled after they met Kendra. The fourth Slayer was so militant and judgmental she had to be watched like a hawk, lest she try to burn one of their witches at the stake.

“Sounds like a plan, Honey.” Buffy had a bounce in her step as she skipped over and helped Faith dispose of the slain demons. “So, got any other ideas about our “pussy palace?”

Faith shivered as she dumped the last body and dropped the manhole cover back into place. “Goddess, the way you say that is so fuckin’ dirty. I got half a mind to go to town on ya right here.”

Buffy smiled and tilted her head to one side. She brought a hand up to her chin as if she were giving the suggestion its due consideration. “Tempting, but no. We’re at our quota for public park sex for the month. Also graveyard sex, Bronze sex, and school bathroom sex now that I think about it. Plus those last three demons were full of gunk that I need to shower off before I touch your lady parts.”

“There ya go, B.” Faith shook her head in feigned exasperation as she took her girl’s hand. “Always gotta be the responsible Slayer. Keepin’ me from getting Demon guts all over our pussy palace.” The Slayers shared a smile as they walked hand in hand through the night. “What about a dog?”

“I so want to get a dog,” Buffy said before a frown took over her entire face. “But not in an apartment without a yard and not on a hellmouth. I don’t want to let our dog out to pee one night and then find them eaten by a stray hellhound or one of those big slouchy alligator-like demons that always drag their tails behind them.”

Faith held back her disappointment at the very obvious and heartbreaking logistical problems her girl laid out. “One day, B. One day we won’t have to guard this shitty town. Red and Blondie say it’s just around one or two corners, but it’s comin’. One day we’ll leave this place and live our life together on our terms.”

“One day.” Buffy agreed as she squeezed her girl’s hand. The promise of their life together was all the petite blonde and the brunette needed to face the darkness. No matter what the world threw their way they would face it together.

*****

“Ghaaa!” Doyle shouted as the vision filled his mind and wracked his body.

“Doyle!” Alonna was across the room and at his side in an instant. “Charles!”

“On it!” Gunn was quick to signal orders to Chain and Rondell. The two quickly started shouting to other teens all around the lobby and sent several others off to knock on all the occupied rooms in the hotel. Once he knew the rest of the crew would be ready he joined his sister at the side of their half demon. “How bad is it, Irish?”

Several moments of agonizing mental clarity passed before Doyle was able to open his eyes and address the Gunn siblings. “It’s bad. It’s so bad.” He muttered as he realized just what was at stake. “They’re coming for her.”

“Who?” Alonna asked as she rubbed the Irishman’s shoulders. “Who’s in danger?”

Doyle looked up for a moment. Then his eyes began to flit back and forth between the siblings. “I have to go to Sunnydale. They’re coming for her.”

“We have to go to Sunnydale,” Alonna said as she gripped the man by the shoulders. “We’re in this together.”

Doyle’s vision cleared for the first time and he took in the concern both Alonna and her brother clearly showed for him. “Thank you.”

Rondell came up to Gunn’s side. “Everyone’s here,” he whispered loud enough for the trio to hear. “What’s the mission?”

Doyle looked out and saw the concerned faces of each and every member of the Hyperion Crew. He knew they were expecting a fight. He just hoped they would still be ready once they knew how personal the coming fight was going to be. A moment passed as he let himself hope for the best.

“It’s Jen,” Doyle admitted at last. “Her husband is coming to Sunnydale and he plans to drag Jen and Tara back to his farm.”

No one spoke. Several heads began to turn, looking around the room as if their fellow crew members had heard the punchline. One person in the back laughed. “So you got a vision of your girlfriend’s ex getting skinned by the angry little redhead that gave us this setup?” A few light chuckles spread through the crowd before Alonna silenced them with a glare.

“Look, I know it’s not rescuing people from random demons…” Doyle began, only to be cut off by the Slayer.

“No,” Alonna said as she looked from the half demon to the members of her and her brother’s crew. “No, it’s not some random demon this time. It’s something much more important.”

“All y'all know what Tara and Willow have done for us,” Gunn shouted out as the humor and amusement drained from the crew. “How many of us would be dead if it weren’t for what they gave us?” A few hands went up. They went back down when Alonna stepped forward and spoke.

“Each and every one of you know what Tara and her mother mean to our people in Sunnydale. I know we all know what Jen means to Doyle.” The Slayer’s voice grew in strength and force as the speech continued. “This isn’t saving some rando townie from a vampire in a back alley. This is family! Are we gonna let some piece of shit slap his soon to be ex-wife around?”

“No!” The entire Hyperion Crew shouted back in unison.

The Slayer continued to shout questions at her loyal soldiers. “Are we gonna let some backwoods redneck come in and take the people we love?”

“No!” They shouted in turn.

“Are we gonna let some asshole from bumfuck Arkansas break apart our family?” She screamed to the all but cheering crowd.

“No!” The Crew roared.

“Actually, I think they’re from Alabama…” Doyle whispered only for Alonna to shout “Same fucking difference!”

“Yeah! Fuck that hillbilly!” Someone standing in the back shouted, drawing more cheers from the rest of the riled up Crew.

“Okay! You heard the lady!” Gunn shouted before the energy in the room could steer anyone off course. “Gear up and grab an overnight bag! I want everyone who’s combat ready on the bus in an hour!”

As the crew began to disperse and prepare for the road trip, Alonna turned to Doyle and smiled. “No one's gonna take our girls from us.”

The Irishman choked up for a moment before nodding his thanks to the Slayer. “Thank you.”

Alonna turned and saw two concerned faces standing in the wake of the dispersing crew. She knew the reservations one of them had about going back to the hellmouth and she knew the other could pick up on those fears. The Slayer took three long steps across the hotel lobby and put her hands on the shoulders of the nervous blonde and the redhead.

“Alonna…” Anne whispered as Bethany began to look nervous.

The Slayer spoke, cutting off the nervous question before it could surface. “I know how you two feel about going to the hellmouth and confronting abusive fathers. I need to go and look after our people. Can I count on both of you to take care of this place and the non-coms while I lead Charles and the boys into battle?”

“Of course,” Bethany assured. Anne quickly nodded her head and smiled at the simple fact of being left in the relative safety of L.A. One look between the two young women was all the assurance Alonna needed to know they would be fine.

Bethany and Anne wandered off leaving Doyle and the Gunn siblings in the nearly empty lobby. A beat passed before a slight throat clearing drew their attention. They looked to see both Wesley and Angel standing beside them. After adjusting his glasses the Englishman spoke in clear, if slightly hesitant, tones. “Well, it would appear we are all heading to the hellmouth then.”

“You up for this, English?” Gunn asked as he eyed the watcher. “This ain’t some demon throwdown Alonna has to break up ‘cuz she’s the chosen one and all that. We’re strictly going there to stop some redneck from breakin’ up our family.”

“Yes, yes, Charles.” Wesley rolled his eyes at the young man. “I’ll admit the way Ms. Maclay and Ms. Rosenberg initially recruited me was a tad heavy-handed, but I bear them no ill will and would never wish for Doyle’s companion to be coerced into anything against her will.” He turned to Alonna and straightened his tie. “As always, Ms. Gunn. I am at your service.”

“Good,” Alonna said before turning to the vampire.

“I’m in too,” Angel said as he turned to look Doyle in the eye. “I know I’ve lost sight of what’s important recently, but Jennifer has always given me the benefit of the doubt. I’ll be there for you and for her no matter what.”

“Good to hear,” Doyle said as he clasped hands with Angel.

“What about Fred?” Alonna asked only to jump straight into the air when a voice chimed in right behind her.

“Oh, I’m in,” Fred said. “I had my Khopesh out the second Doyle’s vision started.”

“Goddess, don’t do that,” Alonna growled at her friend as she spun around. “Does that thing let you turn invisible now too?”

Fred looked at her curved blade with a speculative eye for a moment before returning her gaze to the Slayer. “I don’t think it does.”

The Slayer eyed the ancient sword before shaking off her skepticism and returning to the matter at hand. “Okay, everyone knows if they’re coming or not. Meet at the bus in forty-five minutes. We have a milf to save and a redneck to put in his place.”

*****

The worn and ragged camper came to a stop just before passing the large decorative “Welcome to Sunnydale” sign. The two angry and clueless men inside it shared gruff and pointless reassurances.

“The women are here.” Donald Maclay muttered as he looked from one side of the street to the other. “I can practically smell their sin.”

“Dad, we got a plan for their magic?” A harsh glare from the old man nearly silenced Donny Maclay. Yet still, the question remained valid.

A sneer crossed Donald's lips as his eyes returned to the road. As the camper rolled into town, he gave his son the most empty reassurance possible. “Your mother has had her fun. She won't cross me again.”

“And Tara?” Donny asked as his hand came to rest on the ragged and crumpled issue of Time magazine folded and shoved in his jacket pocket.

“She'll get what's coming to her.” Donald seethed, his hands gripping the steering wheel all the tighter. “She'll learn her place. The shameful things she's done. No one embarrasses our family and gets away with it. No one.”

Donny sighed as his father drove past the gaudy welcome sign and into town. Along their journey, several realities had become apparent to the young man. Firstly, his father’s certainty in their success had not waned in the slightest. Even as they scoured the east coast in vain, Donald Maclay had been adamant that they would find the women and drag them back to the farm. Finding Tara’s face on the cover of some liberal rag had thrown them off balance for a few weeks, but that same rag gave up the lead which finally brought them to the unassuming town on the west coast. Secondly, his father still had no real plan other than to show up and demand the women fall in line. This didn’t worry Donny in the least. Until that one rebellious morning, his sister had always been a weakling and a doormat. She would always be weak. No amount of indulging in her magic or perversions would ever change that. His sister was a pushover through and through. She just needed a reminder of that fact.

Thirdly, and perhaps most troubling of all, they still had no way to counter any magic that might be thrown their way. This was a problem. Though he would never admit it, Donny was still terrified by the evil forces Tara had called up the morning she stole their mother away. They should have dug up some way to undo or block witchcraft. Anything that would give them an edge if Tara surprised their father and refused to go quietly. Unfortunately, Donald had dismissed the very idea of defending themselves from the women as soon as Donny brought it up. The very notion that they would have anything to fear from the weaker sex tempted Donald to slap some sense into his boy. The older man’s blatant disgust at Donny’s cowardice, the successive and casual questioning of Donny’s masculinity, and the ever-present sneer that accompanied the threat to “Beat your mother’s influence out of you, Boy!” served to silence any further complaints from Donny. His father would do what his father thought best, and there was no questioning the matter. Donny was just along for the ride at this point.

They drove through the quiet streets as the sun began to rise. They would find a place to park the camper. Then their search would continue. Donny knew they were getting close. The nearly two-year long search for the Maclay women was about to come to an end. Though he put up a decent imitation of his father’s blind confidence, deep down Donny knew that things would not be as easy as either of them thought.

The only silver lining was that Tara and their mother were most likely on their own. Neither woman had ever managed to form strong or lasting friendships back home. Neither man thought to question whether that had changed in their time apart. The assumption that there would be no opposition would prove their greatest miscalculation. Setting out on a doomed quest to reclaim their wayward kin, their greatest mistake.

*****

“Is Snyder trying to steal that guy’s lunch?” Tara’s question drew a surprised head turn from her always and a laugh from the Slayers sitting across from them. The Scoobies had taken to eating lunch at the picnic tables in the open school courtyard ever since Buffy’s fleeting brush with telepathy soured the new school’s lunch room for her. That decision, in turn, offered them small amusements and distractions, like the scene playing out at a table just across the courtyard.

“Nah, Blondie,” Faith chuckled as she shook her head. “The troll thinks it’s a bag of drugs.” The girls turned to watch as Snyder opened the brown paper bag and then sunk his head in shame. He closed the bag and handed it back to the student. Faith burst out laughing as Snyder snapped at the other teenager at the table before scurrying off. “He just told Dingus over there to sit up straight.”

A smile graced Buffy’s lips as she took in her girl’s good cheer. “I really needed this today.” The Slayer sighed in relief as her girl put an arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer.

“What’s the what, Buff?” Willow asked as she turned away from the distant picnic table and towards her petite blonde friend.

“Mom is on the “I’m so proud of you.” train again.” The Slayer admitted to the witch as her girl began to massage her scalp. “She’s also back on the denial train… again. I'm probably gonna have to disappoint her tonight when I tell her I can't go… again.” From the blank looks across the table, Buffy knew she would have to elaborate. “Acceptance letters came today. I got into Northwestern.”

The witches smiled genuinely, and even though Faith joined them Buffy could tell the expression was forced. Tara barreled ahead with all the encouragement she could. “Congratulations, Buffy. That’ll help a few years from now when we transfer.”

“Transfer?” Both Slayers perked up at the blonde’s last word.

“Uh huh,” Willow elaborated for her everything. “It’s way easier to get into the upper tier schools after you take your first-year prerequisites at a smaller school. Once the four of us are done with Sunnydale we’ll be able to pick any school we want to finish off our degrees. Seven Sisters, Ivy league, any of the U.C. schools aside from Sunnydale, MIT, Cambridge, Oxford. Any school you guys want to go to, we’ll make it happen.”

“Will, you already got into Oxford!” Buffy said with no small amount of cheer before her own mood dampened. “Are you sure you want to just put your life on hold for us? I mean, you and Tara can do anything. Go anywhere. Faith and I are stuck here, but you guys…”

Before the blonde Slayer could go on the redhead reached across the table and clasped her hands. “Buffy, no! Of course, we’re staying with you. You and Faith, you guys aren’t getting rid of us. Ever! We’re family.”

“Plus it ain’t like their giant computer company and their giant law firm are going anywhere.” Faith snickered as Buffy and Willow shared teary-eyed expressions.

“Faith has a point, Buffy,” Tara joined in the snickering as Buffy rolled her eyes at her girl. “You’d be surprised how many tech company CEOs don’t bother to finish high school. Let alone college.”

“I happen to enjoy academia,” Willow spoke in an almost haughty tone that drew laughter from both Tara and Faith. The redhead then turned back to the Slayer and continued her reassurances. “Buffy, as far as money and school go, Tara and I are set. We could walk into any advanced placement program, take a quiz on what we already know from all the centuries of higher education we had in our past lives, and walk out with associates degrees that could easily be transitioned into doctorates after auditing a few classes. Add in all the money we get every hour from our corporate shenanigans and there’s nothing for us to worry about. We’re not leaving you and Faith to defend the world on your own while we run off to stress over Freshman orientation in England or the east coast.”

“We had this talk a long time ago, Buffy,” Tara said in slow and meaningful tones that drew the Slayer’s full attention. “Given the choice between globe-trotting for our own amusement and standing by our true family, we choose family every time. Nothing is more important than family.”

For a moment Buffy almost teared up as the witches smiled at her. Before she could bask further in the warmth and affection from her friends, another kind of amused warmth made itself known through the connection between the Slayers. Buffy sighed and silently prompted her girl to ask the burning question dancing across her mind.

“Speaking of family,” Faith began to speak with a knowing smirk and reassuring fingers working their way across her girl’s scalp. “How did the G man take the news?”

“Giles was proud of me as usual.” Buffy sighed and relaxed further into her girl’s embrace. “He smiled and told me it was wonderful news. He knows I can’t go, but he’s still… proud.”

“That’s Giles for ya,” Willow said as she relaxed into her own girlfriend's embrace. “And of course he didn’t try to talk down to Joyce about your destiny.”

“Oh my god, never.” Buffy laughed before realizing the vast difference between the two main romantic relationships she had thus witnessed from her mother. “He never talks down to her or dismisses her points. He never calls her out on her denial. He just listens and calmly says what he needs to say. I don’t think I’ve seen them fight once. It’s nothing like it was with my dad.”

“That’s Giles alright,” Tara added before a frown surfaced. “Has he ever brought up the drinking?”

“She’s not…” Buffy began only to stop herself as she thought about her mother and the changes in the woman’s behavior over the last two years. “No, she actually, I think she stopped drinking.”

Faith actually paused her scalp massage at that comment and moved to look her girl in the eye. “What? Like she joined AA without telling us?”

Buffy shook her head at the implication. “No, I just think she doesn’t drink anywhere near as much as she used to when I was… When we first moved here. Back in L.A. and before I told her what I am she would always have a glass of wine or three after work. I think it was to deal with the fighting over the divorce and the denial of whatever she thought I was doing at night. She’ll still have a glass of wine at a party or a Lifetime movie marathon if her and Jen open a bottle, but now she…”

“She’s happy, she’s with someone who respects her, and she’s proud of all the great things her daughters accomplish every single day.” Tara’s plain assessment drew a wide smile from the Slayer. That smile was quickly replaced with a frown when Tara turned to her love and said the oddest thing the Slayer had heard that week. “Much better than a cursed-band-candy-induced hookup on the hood of a police car.”

Faith almost shot forward at that curvy blonde’s words. Only a faint tensing from her girl stopped the brunette from breaking physical contact with the petite blonde. “Oh, that is a story we need to hear.”

Willow sighed as she turned back to Buffy. “You remember the giant snake in the sewers? Well the first time through, the ritual to call it was done by the old mayor who was going to feed it four or five live babies.”

“Fuck me running.” Faith muttered as the smile left her face.

“So in order to actually steal the babies from the hospital, they needed to distract the whole town.” Willow went on with the now somber tale. “They hired Giles’ old boyfriend who did the cursed Halloween costume thing, and he cursed the candy bars that Snyder had everyone in school selling all over town to raise money for the band. Your mom bought half of your box and Giles bought the other half, Buff.”

“What did the cursed candy do?’ Buffy asked, dreading the answer.

“It made them all act like teenagers again,” Tara said as she fought back the urge to laugh.

“All the adults in town started acting like spoiled eight-year-olds on a sugar rush.” Willow went on to tell the story in only mildly enthused tones. “A few people, like your mom, Giles, and Snyder kept some of their wits, but still regressed to their rebellious teenage years. I’ve always maintained that it was because of their awareness of this town and the supernatural. The last time I had this argument Xander asked if it wasn’t just all the booze they had at the Bronze, but there were adults acting like drunk idiots all over town with nothing in their systems but the candy, and Giles and your mom kept it together even after raiding Giles’ liquor cabinet, and well, let’s just say Giles has a cigar box full of “special cigarettes” if you know what I mean. Anyway, Buffy, your mom, and Giles helped you save the day and a lot of live babies from being eaten by that giant sewer snake, but not until after they had… umm… explored each other’s bodies?”

“They what?” Both Slayers shouted.

Tara added the final stinger on the end of the story before Willow could go into another babble. “On the hood of a police car. Twice.”

The redhead’s long babble had several devastating and immediate effects on the other girls at the table. Tara began to chuckle at the ribald end of the story, the way her always told the tale, and the devastation playing out before her. As the story progressed Faith stopped massaging her girl and began to lean over the table. By the end of the tale, the brunette was cackling as loudly as she could. She carried on for a full minute before falling backwards off of the picnic table bench and onto the grass of the school courtyard. For her part, Buffy’s reaction was simple and understated. The Slayer leaned forward until her head fell to the surface of the picnic table with a dull thud. Faint moaning did little to draw attention away from the uproarious laughter coming from the brunette on the ground.

Several minutes of resounding embarrassment and uninhibited cackling passed before an aggravated grumble worked its way out of the petite blonde. “Are you done? Did you get it all out of your system, Faith?”

“Oh, Goddess.” Faith wheezed as she tried to pull herself up from the ground. “Oh, wow. That was…” She started laughing again as soon as her eyes locked on her girlfriend’s exasperated glare. “Oh shit, B!” Faith almost doubled over again as she fought to hold back her laughter. “Don’t look at me like that. You’re gonna get me goin’ again, and I’m about to piss myself this is so fucking funny.”

“You’re sleeping on the couch this week.” Buffy’s deadpan response did little to temper the brunette’s laughter as they turned back to face the witches. “Okay, seriously! No more talk about my mom and her stevedore fetish. We’re moving on to someone else’s relationship issues. What about you guys? Or Xander? What’s Xander getting up to?”

Tara raised her head as Buffy asked about their lone male friend. She looked around the school courtyard and quickly found the young man in question. With a nod and a crooked smile, she pointed the Slayer towards the obvious answer.

All four girls looked across the courtyard to see Xander and Cordelia arguing with each other. Again. Like they had been arguing all week. The argument seemed to reach a boiling point, and both teens stormed off in a huff. The ceasefire did not last long. Once they reached a distance of no more than thirty feet both teens spun on their heels and stormed right back into the fray. The Slayers and witches noticed the former couple’s spat had attracted a sizable audience. All the Cordettes, half the jocks in the school and about twenty other teens were watching the tumultuous back and forth from the sidelines. One guy sitting on the nearest stone bench was casually eating handfuls of popcorn from a large bowl in his lap. The argument carried on for a full five minutes without either Xander or Cordelia even noticing or acknowledging their audience. The crowd only dispersed when Jonathan and Larry came in and began to shoo spectators away. Snyder’s scowl was enough to disperse the rest, but when he turned his ire on the bickering couple he froze in his tracks. Buffy followed the principal's terrified gaze and found Willow sending the irate little man a vicious glare of her own. Snyder turned on his heels and scurried away.

“So that’s still happening.” Tara sighed as she began to clean up what was left of her and Willow’s lunches.

Faith shook her head as she and Buffy began clearing lunch debris as well. “Shit, they didn’t even stop fightin’ like this when they was sneakin’ off to grope each other in the janitor’s closet.”

“And the boiler room, and the basement, and the clock tower, and that one ventilation access room that we kept having to clear giant mantis eggs out of.” Buffy sighed as she took the trash Tara collected and combined it with her and Faith’s piles. “Did I ever tell you guys how much I don’t miss the old school that got blown up that night the smurfettes tried to open the hellmouth?”

“Every day.” Willow chirped happily as she took Tara’s hand in hers.

“Think Xander will have better relationship luck in college?” Buffy asked before her eyes widened in terror. “Oh my god. Did he even get into U.C. Sunnydale? Please tell me someone has a plan for keeping Xander from ending up homeless, stripping, or some rich perv’s buttmonkey.”

“Don’t worry, Buffy,” Tara smirked as she gave Willow a sly wink. “You know how those bohemian anti-establishment types are. I’m sure he’ll land on his feet.”

Before Buffy could ask what Freddie Mercury and the rest of Queen had to do with Xander’s education a loud moan from her girlfriend drew all her attention. “Goddess, please don’t bring that up!” Faith’s sudden mood change confused Buffy for a moment until the brunette carried on with her own frustrations at Xander’s new lifestyle choice. “If I have to hear any more of that “Kerouac’s school of the open road” bullshit I’m gonna scream. Seriously, B! He’s been mouthing off about takin’ some stupid year long road trip for weeks now. It’s all he talks about, and I’m all like, “Dude, being homeless fucking sucks!” Don’t matter what some dead guy wrote in a book about how to be a beatnik. Especially when that dead guy drank himself to death at the ripe old age of forty-five.”

“Forty-seven.” Willow chimed in.

“Whatever!” Faith waved off the redhead’s correction. “The Xand-man is still planning to spend the next year or so living out of some clunker he’s gonna borrow from his deadbeat uncle, or his other deadbeat uncle, or his deadbeat cousin, of his piece of shit old man. He’s either gonna end up getting himself eaten or working a mop at a donkey show dive bar in Tijuana.”

“Okay, yeah.” Buffy agreed before turning to Willow. “The parts of that I understood sounded terrible. Please tell me there is a plan for saving Xander from his awful road trip idea.”

Willow just smiled at her always before turning back to the Slayers. “Don’t worry, guys. In all the hundreds and hundreds of times Xander has planned his little road trip, his car has left the Sunnydale city limits exactly one time.”

Tara nodded as she added context to the lone worrisome exception. “And that time he only got about an hour’s walk into the desert before the car broke down and he needed to spend the summer working off the towing bill. Xander’s road trips never pan out, but he always survives them.”

“That one gave us a scare, but it ended the same as all the other post-graduation road trips. It’ll all be okay. Xander is our family.” Willow said as they all walked through a doorway and came into the halls of the new high school. “He’ll tucker himself out on this one bad idea of his, and then he’ll learn a valuable life lesson. Nothing bad is gonna happen to him.” The Slayers could only hope that the witches were as right about this as they had been about every other major event in the last two years.

*****

“So I called your aunt Arlene in Illinois.” The overt cheer in Joyce’s voice was enough to break the Slayer’s heart. “She wanted to congratulate you, but I could tell she was so jealous. Her boys only got into Wheaton.”

Buffy sighed as the conversation over the dinner table of the Summers home drifted back to the future she couldn’t have. She put on a forced smile as Joyce went on to say how proud she was of her daughter. After a while, it became apparent to everyone just how little the Slayer enjoyed the praise. Luckily her watcher stepped in with his own encouragement.

“Yes, Buffy. It’s really quite wonderful news. I’m so proud of you.” Giles was just as enthused as Joyce, but even Buffy could tell the man was holding back due to the simple fact that he, better than anyone, knew her responsibilities. “I’m sure you’ll love attending classes there. One day.”

“One day?” Joyce’s tone shifted as soon as the words were out. “She got accepted to one of the top universities in the midwest. Of course, she’s…”

“I have responsibilities, Mom,” Buffy said. Her tone obviously implying that the matter was already decided and there would be no turning from the path laid before her. “It’ll only be a few years. Plus, the guys and I were talking, and Willow said I could get all the basic first-year prerequisites out of the way at U.C. Sunnydale. Then I could transfer to just about any college I wanted.”

“But Northwestern…” Joyce’s protest died before it could fully form.

“Joyce,” Giles’ voice was soft and reassuring as he gently took his girlfriend’s hand. “You know how I feel about the dangers Buffy has to face. If I could change anything it would be the unfair burden her destiny weighs upon her shoulders.” He slowly brought her hand to his lips and held it there for a moment as the formerly single mother held back tears. He cleared his throat once before speaking again. “But there are things none of us can change, and things only the Slayer can change. She must do that which no one else can do. All we can offer is our support and love as we stand by her side and face the darkness.”

“As a family.” Dawn chimed in for the first time since her mother began gushing about colleges. “We’ll face it together. As a family.”

Giles smiled at the confidence behind the girl’s voice. “Well said, Dawn.”

Dawn smiled before ruining the moment with a far more unsettling observation. “Plus, if closing down the hellmouth is anything like what Xander and those Zombies did to the old high school then we’re gonna need to buy a house in another state about a year before Buffy and her girlfriend blow up this whole damned town.”

“Dawn.” Joyce snapped at the light profanity from her youngest daughter.

“What? That’s the right word for it. This town is literally damned.” Dawn went on to protest her mother’s reprimand. “What with all the evil, and the more evil, and the really really evil going on under our feet.”

It was at this time Cassie decided to join her girlfriend’s ramblings. “Closing the hellmouth is gonna be quite the show. I’m pretty sure Buffy’s exact words will be, “I'm standing on the mouth of hell, and it is gonna swallow me whole. And it'll choke on me.”

“Oh my god, can you two stop helping? You’re just freaking Mom out more.” Buffy rolled her eyes at the younger couple before turning back to her mother. “Willow said the big colleges will accept transfer applications from students of other universities easier than they do high school graduates. Once I’m done with U.C. Sunnydale, and literally everyone is done with Sunnydale, Willow said I could go to any major university I wanted. She told me about the Seven Sisters Universities and the Ivy League. All the other U.C. campuses.” There was a pause before she looked to Giles. “Willow even gave me the acceptance pamphlets and the promo booklets she got from Oxford in case I wanted to carry on a certain family tradition.”

Joyce gasped as she took in Buffy’s meaning. She turned to her boyfriend and found tears in the man’s eyes. Giles did his best to act the part of a reserved Brit. “Oxford is wonderful, Buffy. I’m sure you’d love the campus. My time there wasn’t the best example, but it is a lovely place. My only wish is that I had enjoyed it more while I had the opportunity.”

The obvious impact Buffy’s words had on Giles helped Joyce ease herself into the plan “the universe” and the girls next door had already laid out for her daughter. “I’m sure Oxford is spectacular.” She paused before turning back to the two younger girls snickering at one end of the dinner table. “Now what is all this doom and gloom talk? You girls are acting like Buffy is going to blow up the whole town.”

“Oh, she for sure is gonna blow this whole place to hell,” Dawn said as she scooped up another spoonful or Giles’ mushy peas and covered them with the Tabasco sauce and peanut butter mixture she used the way most people used salt and pepper. “Just look at her old school and her old, old school’s gym. Sorry, Buffy, but you have an M.O., and it involves liberal use of fire. It’ll be fine though. Willow is probably already buying up businesses all over town and hiring people just so she can “transfer” them out of Buffy’s blast radius.”

“Ugh.” Buffy let out a groan as she let her head smack against the table. “I just realized that is totally what she’s been doing.”

Warm laughter filled the dining room in the wake of the Slayer’s distress. The Summers family and all those caught in its gravity knew the dangers. They knew the risks. More importantly, they knew how to face the odds stacked against them. It was as Dawn said. They would face the darkness together, as a family.

*****

A small private jet rolled to a stop by a closed hangar. The door to the plane opened. An imposing figure stepped out of the open hatch, surveying the darkened tarmac of the Sunnydale international airport before stepping onto the stairs built into the plane door. At first glance, the figure looked human. Looming tall, with waning muscle just beginning to encroach on flabbiness from the passage of time. A thinning hairline was pulled back in a graying ponytail. A fine snakeskin jacket and matching boots did little to draw the eye away from a large black tattoo of a serpent winding its way from the chest, up the neck, vanishing into the hairline. Another serpent tattoo emerging from the hairline on the other side of the face, working its way back down to the chest. The figure looked human enough, though a more trained eye could easily spot the subtle signs that gave away their true nature.

The snake bearing a striking resemblance to a man descended the stairs, clutching a massive box made of aged metal, tinged green after centuries of corrosion and neglect. One of the handles on the side of the box was handcuffed to the snake’s wrist. The box rattled and hissed with each step the snake took towards the waiting limo. As the snake approached the limo one of the rear doors opened. The snake came to a halt as a slight but confident man with wavy hair stepped out. The man extended a hand to the limo’s unseen occupant, a tall slender woman with light brown hair. The woman took one look at the hand, rolled her eyes, and cast a glare at its owner as she stepped out of the limo without anyone’s assistance. The snake sighed as the pair of sharply dressed lawyers turned and offered perfunctory greetings.

Lilah wore a patently false smile as she spoke. “Mr. Ophidian, lovely to meet you.”

The Snake dismissed the woman’s pleasantries with a gruff sigh as he spoke to Lindsey. “They in the car?”

“We’ll be taking you to the meeting site,” Lindsey assured the snake with a gesture to the open limo door. “Hop in.”

One snakeskin clad boot whipped out and struck the car door, closing it with a bang. “The senior partners were supposed to be here. In person. With the money.” The snake leaned back, its arms still firmly holding the ancient metallic box. “Well, the price just went up. I don’t like surprises.”

Lilah gave a faint smirk as she looked the snake up and down. She had known the meeting would not go according to plan. The snake had called to change the meeting time and the price at least a half dozen times. Always finding some flimsy excuse to make new demands. With every passing second, there was less and less chance they would be able to talk the courier into handing over the box, no matter how much they offered above the price they had already agreed on. Lilah and Lindsey knew this going into the meeting. Thankfully there was always at least one backup plan. Lilah smiled at the snake. Then she turned and smiled at Lindsey. She brought up one hand and brushed nonexistent lent off the shoulder of the other lawyer’s suit jacket. She gave Lindsey one last smirk before opening the limo door and climbing back inside.

Lindsey just sighed and waited. He looked to the snake. “So what’s the deal with the tattoos? Why bother trying to look that human if you’re just gonna slap a giant snake cult logo all over your face?”

Confusion filled the snake’s eyes for an instant. It was immediately replaced with shock and horror as a soft popping sound came from the shadows several yards behind the snake. The snake looked down to see a dark red stain spreading across the tacky Hawaiian shirt worn under the snakeskin jacket. The figure staggered, slumped, and fell to the airport tarmac with a wet thud.

“Good work, Bob,” Lindsey called out as the mercenary stepped out of the shadows of the cargo containers by the closed hangar.

“Thank you, Mr. McDonald,” Bob said before looking up to the roof of the hangar and sighing wearily. “Steve, get your ass down here and help me secure the package.”

Shrill crooning filled the air as yet another figure emerged from the shadows, dropped a line from the roof of the hangar, and began to rappel down to the tarmac. “Dun Nah Nah! Duh Nah Nah! Dun! Dun! Dun! Dah! Dun! Dun!”

Bob shook his head, bringing a palm up to his forehead as Steve spent far too much time unhooking himself from the rappelling harness. All the while arrhythmically chortling the theme song to some terrible movie.

“Dun! Dun! Dah! Nuh! Dun! Dun! Dah Nuh!” Steve jogged up to Bob’s side as the two walked over to the fallen snake. As they arrived, the obnoxious mercenary performed an excessive jazz hands maneuver that drew a laugh from the lawyer.

“Don’t encourage him.” Bob pleaded before glaring at his insane partner. “Are you done now? Was that really necessary?”

Lindsey managed to stifle his laughter before addressing the men. “Fellas, the senior partners are waiting. They’ve got a box of infinite face eating bugs to destroy.”

“Right away Mr. McDonald,” Steve said as he pulled a hacksaw out of his tactical bag. The mercenary moved towards the body with the jagged teeth of the saw blade poised to strike.

Upon seeing the grizzly tool Bob immediately slapped his partner across the back of his head. “What are you? Twelve?” Bob then proceeded to pull bolt cutters out of his bag. “We’re not mutilating any more corpses this month. Go get the body bag from the trunk.”

Steve’s shoulders slumped in disappointment as he trudged off to the rear of the limo. Lindsey smiled as he climbed into the vehicle with Lilah. The last sounds he heard before closing the door were Bob’s exasperated mutterings. “I swear. This is why we can't have nice things.”

*****

Lindsey hit the button on his cell phone just as the ritual was completed and the Box of Gavrok dissolved before his eyes. “The boys just called. Your local Lenny enjoys our patronage.”

Jennifer perked up as she put away leftover spell components. “Why is it called a Lenny again? Is that the type of demon it is?”

Willow perked up at her future mother in law’s question. “Lenny stands for Large Edacious Non-aggressive Nether Yielder.”

A brief laugh from Lilah drew more than a few glances from around the room. “What does that even mean?”

Tara smirked as she helped her always up to her feet. “It means some desk worker in the watchers council really wanted the initials to spell out Lenny.”

Willow laughed while the joke only drew a light chuckle from both Faith and Jennifer. “You’re so funny, Sweetie. Isn’t she funny, guys?”

“Oh, oh yeah,” Lindsey said as Lilah rolled her eyes. “You’re a riot, Ms. Maclay.”

“Settle down, kiss-ass,” Lilah muttered to her partner before turning back to the witches and Slayer. “So how exactly does a box of infinite face eating bugs draw such a high asking price from its current owners?”

Willow smiled as she helped Jennifer finish cleaning up after their ritual. “The Box of Gavrok was a crucial step in the ascension process. Sometime between the dedication ritual to become physically invincible until the day of the ascension, and the eclipse that starts the ascension process, the individual attempting to become a pure-blood demon must consume the entire contents of the box.”

“How the hell does some jackass actually eat an infinity’s worth of bugs?” Faith’s question was actually on the minds of both lawyers and Tara’s mother.

“It’s not actually infinite,” Willow said as she and Tara put away the last of the spell components and supplies. “The Box of Gavrok only had about fifty billion or so giant face eating bugs in it. At least that’s what the old Mayor said when one of them broke free and tried to eat his face.”

Faith just shook her head in disgust. “Gross.”

“You have no idea.” Willow agreed with the Slayer before turning back to their lawyers. “Lindsey, how is Anne’s shelter going? Does she need any more help or advice?”

“Ms. Steele’s project is moving at the pace we laid out.” Lindsey was relaxed and calm as he reported on one of the minor assignments he was managing for the senior partners. “I put her in contact with the appropriate realtors. I’ve been touring properties with her. Alonna and Ms. Chaulk have tagged along for all but one of the property viewings, but that one was never a serious option. She’s narrowed it down to three potential sites…”

The lawyer’s report was cut off as light filled the room. The instant he uttered the word potential he triggered the strangest sequence. Mystical runes came to life along every hard surface in the library. Arcane sigils glowed with power and purpose so strong their presence seemed to weigh physically on the lawyers. Light poured from every wall, bookshelf, piece of furniture, and corner of the very floor as a low hum filled the air. Lindsey and Lilah both looked terrified as they scanned the Scooby Gang’s headquarters with newfound terror. Their fear was only slightly abated as they saw the honey blonde laugh and the redhead roll her eyes.

“It’s okay guys,” Willow assured as the room began to quiet down once more. Light faded from each and every hidden rune engraved in every nook and cranny of the library. “It’s just our anti-scrying wards. We don’t want certain topics coming up on our enemies radar until it’s too late for them to stop Buffy and Faith from slaying them.”

Blank stares and more than a little fear still occupied the faces of both lawyers. Light chuckling could be heard coming from both Tara and Faith, while a slight smile was the only sign that Jennifer was still paying attention to their houseguests.

Before any further amusement could be had at the expense of either lawyer, Lindsey’s phone rang. The lawyer sighed before answering. “McDonald.” He listened to the voice on the other end of the line. Faith perked up for a moment before growing tense. “You’re on your way here?” Another pause. “All of you?” Pause again just as both Jennifer and Lilah grew concerned. “Oh, just most of you. Really? Doyle saw what?” Faith flinched as she and Lindsey listened to the voice on the other end of the line. “They’re here?”

Faith moved closer to Jennifer and Tara as the lawyer listened to the person on the phone line. Overt defensiveness in her stance. She locked eyes with Willow and Tara before putting an arm around Jennifer's shoulders. The move was more than enough to clue the couple into the perils ahead.

“Okay, I'll tell them. Yeah, they're right here.” Lindsey looked to Lilah and the two nodded in unison. “Okay. We’ll see you soon.” The lawyer hung up the phone and straightened himself. He put on a practiced and obviously forced smile before turning to fully face the senior partners and their housemates. “So that was Gunn. He says hi.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Lilah muttered as she and Faith rolled their eyes.

Tara and Willow shared a look before the honey blonde raised her head and addresses the lawyers. “So they found us then. It feels like it happened quicker in this dimension.”

“Plastering our faces on the covers of dozens of magazines and industry periodicals probably gave them a clue.” Willow’s voice remained soft as she held one of Tara’s hands. “We’ll take care of them, Baby. I’m not letting anything take you from me.”

“I know, Sweetie.” Tara smiled briefly before looking to Lilah. “But I’m not going to stand by and be a helpless damsel. Lilah, I think we’ll need that paperwork we talked about.”

“Of course Ms. Maclay,” Lilah snapped to attention as the young witch addresses her. She held up the small leather briefcase that had been at her side all evening and began to sift through its contents. “Everything is in order. The documents you requested were among my first priorities when you promoted us. If Mrs. Maclay is ready I can walk her through all the places that need her signature.”

Lindsey rolled his eyes at his partner’s instant shift in tone. “Now who’s a kiss-ass?”

“What… What’s going on?” Jennifer asked as Faith glared at the two lawyers.

“Your ex is in town.” Faith said. The visible shudder that went through the woman’s body was offset by the firm grip the Slayer had on her. “I ain’t gonna let him touch you, Jen. Not gonna happen.”

“None of us will let that happen,” Willow added. She and her always held hands as they stared into each other’s eyes. The steel in her voice was only matched by the warmth in her gaze. “No one is going to break apart this family.”

*****

“Finally! A respectable establishment in this godforsaken liberal hell hole!”

The odd shout rang through the late afternoon gloom of Willie’s Bar. Regulars of the bar turned to look at the bold and clearly unwitting man standing in the open doorway. The man’s confident strides betrayed the fact that he didn’t notice any scales, fangs, tentacles, or “nonstandard” skin tones as he approached the bar. The same could not be said for the younger man following in his wake. Donny Maclay looked around the bar and flinched. He noticed one drunk hunched over at the bar, a few vampires in the back of the room, and a half dozen demons scattered among the booths and tables. The young man dismissed most of them as either disfigured or just plain ugly. The demon with gray skin and jet black razor-sharp quills in place of hair was harder to dismiss. Especially after the creature turned its blood red eyes on the pair of humans and gave Donny a wicked smile full or jagged black teeth.

Willie looked at the two humans now standing just on the other side of his bar. He noticed the handful of demons and about a half dozen vampires in the room watching the men with clear interest. He could easily spot the fear coming off the younger one and the soon to be fatal obliviousness of the older man. He put on a forced smile as he waved off his other clientele for the moment. “What can I get you, gentlemen?”

Donald Maclay smiled at Willie. He was pleased to have finally found a bar that fit his taste and a barkeeper that fit his definition of respectability. “Pabst Blue Ribbon, Barkeep. Two of them.”

“Ah, that explains it. Coming right up.” Willie muttered to himself as Donald Maclay’s eyes roved over the shelf behind Willie. The diminutive barkeeper knew what he was dealing with just from the drink order. It wasn’t the first time two rednecks had wandered into the hellmouth. It wouldn’t be the last. It was a shame, but Willie knew these men would probably be dead before tomorrow morning. The locals weren’t known for letting ignorant tourists slip through their claws. Hell, it would be a miracle if they managed to pay for their redneck swill before the vampires dragged the young one into the back room and one or two of the demons literally split the old man in two. “So, I haven’t seen you fellas around before. New in town? Just passing through?”

“Rounding up wayward family.” Donald’s boast was far too loud for a man about to be devoured by the handful of demons that were just standing up. “Women!” Donald went on to complain. “You know how they can be when they get ideas.”

“Oh. Yeah. Ideas.” Willie went along with the rant as he pulled out two cans from one of the less used mini fridges below the bar and poured what could easily be the two men’s last meal. “My ex had ideas. Always worrying. “That bar is too dangerous, Willie. It’s not safe, Willie.”

“Wives! What do they know? They know nothing about our business. Nothing! She’s supposed to be in the kitchen all day. What’s a wife know about the things we men do, huh?” Donald shouted as he went on to rant, clearly oblivious to both Willie’s eye roll and the demons approaching his back. “You give these women an inch and they’ll take every square acre of land you’ve worked your fingers to the bone to claim. The nagging, the questions, and just look at the way the goddamn, jew run, liberal media coddles weakness and questions authority! A woman gets ideas and before you know it the only solution is for a man to lay down the law! See, Donny? This is what I’ve been telling you since that wretched girl ran off with your mother. This man gets it! We’ll give those ungrateful women what’s coming to them!” Donald’s voice rose along with his belligerent ranting.

Donny was surprised at the ripple of amusement that went through the crowd of demons. What really struck his curiosity were the cries of “That’s right!” and “Damn Slayers!” from many of the hideous men behind the row of what were now obviously demons.

Willie smiled at the loud, hateful, and ignorant rant. It was clear he and this man had two very different definitions of what it meant when women “got ideas.” Though he took no joy in the deaths of humans at the hands of his regulars, Willie knew that these two men would not live long enough to “lay down the law” for the women who had escaped whatever hell these rednecks put them through.

“Here are your drinks, gentlemen.” Willie smiled as he stepped back from the bar and walked down to the far end. He wanted to avoid as much blood splatter as he could until the carnage was over and he had to mop up the mess.

“Dad, I don’t think…” Donny began to whisper as his eyes nervously traced the slowly tightening circle of demons around the bar.

“I don’t think. I don’t think.” Donald sneered as he took a gulp of his favored swill. “Damn it, Boy! Don’t you see that’s your problem? Donald Maclay Junior, I did not raise you to be such a weak little bitch!”

The bar went silent at the mention of one word. Though Donald Senior couldn’t be bothered to notice, and Donny couldn’t tell which word triggered the silence, everyone else knew the only important word in Donald Senior’s rant.

“Well so much for that.” One of the demons muttered as he turned and shuffled towards the back door of the barroom. Several answering mutters of resignation came from the other demons as they all followed suit. Even a good number of the vampires cleared out at the mention of the notorious Witch’s last name. After a few minutes of quiet muttering and trudging the bar was empty save for Willie, the Maclay men, and one slumped figure whose head rested on the bar.

“Oh.” Willie let out a whisper as he tried to parse what was sure to happen once the men left the bar and continued their search. All roads still lead to their untimely deaths. Though now it looked like those deaths would be at the hands of two enraged Slayers and one terrifying redheaded witch. “Oh, that’s not gonna be pretty.”

Before the Maclay men could respond to either Willie or the sudden departure of nearly everyone in the bar, a sullen grumble came from the hunched figure beside them. “Oy! Maclay. You lot wouldn’t be lookin’ for a girl… dirty blonde hair, long dresses, more tits than brains… hangs out with just the worst lot of sodding wankers…”

“Spike…” Willie tried to quiet the drunk vampire but was too late.

“You’ve seen my daughter?” Donald snapped. He was on the leather-clad drunk in an instant. “We’ve been running all over this town! Where is that ungrateful bitch? Tell me, you drunk!”

A smile played across Spike’s face as he slowly but firmly removed Donald’s hands from his favorite leather coat. His trophy of long past conquests and better times. “Yeah. Yeah, I’ve seen her around. Her and her little red bird.” As Spike was beginning to sober up, his British accent wavered from slurred cockney to the posh tones he once favored.

“She bought a parrot?” Donny asked. Like many things, the details and meaning seemed to fly right over the heads of the Maclay men. Willie rolled his eyes as Spike laughed.

Though he hid it better than Donny, Donald was left just as confused by both the drunkard’s words and accent. Donald did his best to hold back a sneer. He would go to great lengths to round up his wayward family. Even if it meant putting up with some good for nothing foreigner. He just had to get the man talking in plain English.

“Now you listen here, Frenchie.” Donald seethed, oblivious to Spike's incredulous grimace at the sound of the word “Frenchie.” “I haven't traveled all over this great country just to get the runaround from some illegal alien with a funny accent. You're going to tell me where to find that ungrateful girl so that I can finally teach those useless witches some respect.”

It was slow, curious, and just a tad bit vindictive, but eventually, the smirk worked its way across the entirety of the bleach blond vampire's face. This was going to be the most fun Spike had since the moment he realized he had no bloody idea how to track down his wayward sire.

“Blimey, but of course, Guv'nah. No need to be a tosser now is there?” Spike did his best to look chastised. All while laying on the thickest accent he could manage and still maintain his pride as a Victorian Era Englishman. “I was walkin’ down this street by the name of Rovello drive, and I comes to this great big proper manor home with no one livin’ innit save for these two blonde trollops and this ginger slag what keeps runin’ ‘er mouth all the time.”

By the end of the cockney gibberish, Donald Maclay was both bewildered and furious. “Damn you, Frenchman! This is America for fuck's sake! Learn English!”

Donny was quick to hold back his father's outrage with the only actual useful information Spike had given them. “Dad, I think he's saying they're in a big house over on Rovello drive.”

“What? How can you tell?” Donald shouted in disgust. “When did he say Rovello drive?”

“Somewhere between calling you an asshole and your wife and daughter whores,” Willie muttered just quietly enough from the far end of the bar so that the only one who heard him was the now grinning vampire.

“They'll be livin’ it up on Rovello drive, Guv'nah.” Spike went on to slight the Maclay men in a language they should’ve had a better grasp on. “You and your bell end may be a right pair of pillocks, but I ain't one to steer ya wrong. I ain't no dodgy git.”

“I don't have time for this!” Donald shouted in disgust. “Boy, you're going to tell me where you heard that street name while we drive over there. Barkeep, give us those beers for the road.”

“Yeah, sure. Why not?” Willie muttered to himself as he lifted up the unopened remainder of the Pabst Blue Ribbon six pack and slid the cans down the bar. “Not like I'm running a business here, or there's any open container laws in this state.”

Donald ignored Willie's mutterings as he had from the moment he set foot in the bar. “To the camper, Boy.” As the Maclay men hurried out the door their exit was witnessed by the incredulous bartender and the far too amused vampire.

As the door closed Spike finally let loose the laughter he had been holding back. “Did you see the looks on those two sodding wankers’ faces? How do you Americans keep ordering other countries around with pikeys that bloody stupid filling the streets?”

Willie just sighed as he came out from behind the bar and walked towards the storage room in the back. “Hellmouth notwithstanding, there's a reason I moved out of a small hick town and came to a blue state, Spike.”

With that, Spike gathered up his oversized black blanket and made his way to the side door leading to the partly shaded alley where his newly stolen eighty-seven Yugo awaited his drunken return. Willie watched the door close behind the vampire. He counted to ten as slowly as he could. As his lips formed the last syllable in the seven he ran back and leapt over the bar. He grabbed his phone and dialed a number he had hoped he would never need to use.

“Hello?” Willie asked after the line was picked up on the second ring. “This is Willie. From Willie's Place. Can I speak to Ms. Rosenberg… please.” He held his breath at the sound of laughter from the other end of the line. Soon enough the voice responded to his question. “Oh. Oh, this is her speaking? Hello Ms. Rosenberg. No, I was just calling to warn you and your family. Two men just left my bar. They were complaining about, well… “women” getting “ideas.” Yes, that's how he sounded when he said those words. The older one said he named the younger one Donald Maclay Junior. Soon as he said her last name all the demons and vamps got up and left the bar. Yes. Yes, I thought you would want to know right away. Oh, and umm… on the way out… one of the vampires muttered something about Rovello drive, and Junior picked up on it so those two rednecks are on their way. Of course, they're rednecks. They snatched up my last few cans of Pabst Blue Redneck Swill. I was about to throw it out, it's been so long since anyone ordered the stuff… Yes. I… you'll have the mayor's office fast track my liquor license renewal? Thank you, Ms. Rosenberg. That's so incredibly kind of you... No, it's my pleasure being helpful. Okay, tell the Slayers I said hi, and maybe ask Faith to go easy on the nose next time?” There was a pause as more laughter filtered in through the phone line. “Thank you. Thank you. Okay, I will. Bye, bye.”

Willie hung up before he could say anything that might draw attention to his regulars or have unwanted attention drawn to himself. He knew the vampires and most of the demons didn't like anyone giving info to the Slayers, but he wasn't an idiot. He knew where the true power on the hellmouth resided. What's more, all his regulars knew it too. They proved it the second the redneck said one of the two last names that you just don't say anymore.

Nobody wanted to draw the wrath of the senior partners or their family. Doing so at best lead to getting a wooden stake rammed into your heart. At worst… no one talked about the “at worst.” Not anymore.

*****

“Ha!” Steve shouted in triumph as he watched the two men exit the bar. Donald Maclay looked up for a moment as if he’d heard a distant noise, only to shake his head and continue walking towards the camper. Bob glared at his partner only to be ignored in light of what the man had seen through the binoculars. “I told you they were a Pabst Blue Redneck Swill household! Look at chin strap over there! Look at that loose three pack he’s waving around. I knew it!”

“Of course they’re drinking redneck swill.” Bob sighed as his partner did an unnecessary celebratory dance. He stowed their gear and climbed down from the roof of the small mausoleum they had used as a surveillance perch. “Those two idiots are living examples of every stereotype about brain dead rednecks in the book.”

The two mercenaries had spent the day following the Maclay men around town. Even Bob had laughed at how clueless their search pattern seemed. The Maclay men clearly had no idea what either of the senior partners did with their time. Nor could they have any clue about Jennifer Maclay’s habits and activities. Sunnydale wasn’t a large or sprawling town, yet the two rednecks had managed to look for their former family members in every wrong place the town had to offer.

Bob gave a dismissive huff as he and his partner climbed back in their van and followed the signal from the camper they had tagged hours ago. “Now whether or not these two pricks stumble into a vampire nest and get themselves eaten, that’s worth betting on.”

*****

“So… How are you holding up? Really.”

The gentle question shook Jennifer Maclay out of the detached haze that had hung over her since the moment Faith broke the news. She looked at her friend and sighed. She tried to answer, only for the raw emotion to catch in her throat. Looking back down at her kitchen sink, she did her best to hold back the hideous grief-stricken sobs that threatened to drive her to her knees. After a long heart-wrenching moment Jennifer Maclay finally managed to speak through the tears that were building in the corners of her eyes.

“I feel like, for the first time in my life, I’m finally content. Maybe even happy. I love the life I’ve built here, even if it’s all going to end in a few hours.”

“Jen, no.” Joyce did her best to reassure her friend. The two mothers clung to each other with all the strength they had. Neither willing to give up the connection they made after finding out about the war their children fought each and every night. “This isn’t the end for you. Your husband isn’t going to take you away from here. Tara and Willow would never allow it. Hell, Faith and Buffy would never let him lay a hand on you. He’d draw back a stump if he even tired.” A brief laugh burst from the distraught blonde only to be consumed by heart-wrenching sobs. It was all Joyce could do to hold Jennifer close, running a hand through pale blonde locks as grief and mirth struggled for dominance.

“I just…” Jennifer took another moment to gather herself before diving back into the emotionally tumultuous and devastating conversation. “I just don’t want them to look at me differently. My girls. Your girls. The kids from L.A. Even you and Giles. I don’t want them to see him and think that he’s the man I used to love. I don’t want them to think I’m some pathetic cow who can’t stand up for herself. I don’t want them to pity me.”

“No one is going to judge you for surviving an abusive relationship,” Joyce promised. “Look at me, Jen. They all love you. None of the kids will turn on you just because you went along with the lies of some manipulative ass. Lord knows I have no room to complain after putting up with Buffy and Dawn’s father and his man whoring for so long.”

“He was different when we were young.” Jennifer paused for a moment. “He was kind in the beginning.” Another pause drew her last words into question. “To me, anyway.”

“They always are.” Joyce nodded along as she heard an all too familiar tale.

Another long moment passed before Jennifer could speak again. “Do you think I’m a terrible mother?”

“What?” Joyce could hardly hold back the disbelief in her voice. “Why would you even ask that?”

“I abandoned my son.” Jennifer went on as tears began to fall freely. “I just left Donny with his father. I didn’t even hesitate when Tara asked me to come with her. I chose one of my children over the other and never looked back. What kind of mother does that to her only son?”

“You didn’t choose one of your kids over the other, Jen. You chose yourself.” Joyce realized it was the wrong thing to say as soon as the words left her mouth and the tears streaming from her friend seemed to double. “I mean, not like that! You chose survival. You were dying in that house, and if you didn’t make it out when you did you wouldn’t be alive right now. You did what was best for you and your daughter, and you knew your son would eventually be handed everything by his father anyway. The only voices questioning your decision to leave with Tara when you did are the ones trying to convince you that submitting to your abuser was the right thing all along.”

“It wasn’t…” Jennifer tired to protest only to be cut off by the other blonde.

“It was.” Joyce’s voice held firm as she locked eyes with her friend. “You need to accept the truth if you ever want to move on with your life. Say it with me. My marriage was an abusive nightmare.”

Jennifer pauses for a second before letting out a strained whisper. “My marriage was an abusive nightmare.”

“My husband didn’t respect me.”

“My husband didn’t respect me.”

“I did not deserve to be treated the way he treated me.”

“I did not deserve to be treated the way he treated me.”

“He was never going to change.”

“He was never going to change.”

“Leaving was the right choice.”

“Leaving was the right choice.”

“I deserve all the love and respect my new family gives me.”

“I deserve all the love and respect my new family gives me.”

“If he ever lays a hand on me again Faith will chop that hand clean off.”

“If he ever…” Jennifer stopped and stared at the other blonde. “Joyce!”

“What? You know it’s true.” Joyce chided as Jennifer stared at her in shock. “You may have lost one son to his father, but you gained so many new children. All the kids love you, but Faith most of all. You’re the only real mother that poor girl has ever known. Don’t think for a second that she’d let anything happen to you. She would do everything in her power to protect you. All of our girls would, but especially the Slayers.”

“Goddess, you’re right.” Jennifer finally admitted as she let go of several unhealthy regrets she had been holding onto. “I still miss Donny so much, but he has too much of his father in him. Even if he could be trusted to treat his sister with respect, he’d never fit in with this family.”

“That’s putting it lightly.” Joyce nodded along as Jennifer’s tears finally stopped. “There are days when I even wonder if Xander is too much of a hormonal teenage boy for the girls to put up with for much longer, but then I remember that Willow has been training him since kindergarten and that he actually might be smart enough to not end up like his parents.”

“Xander is a sweetheart.” Jennifer was quick to leap to the boy’s defense. “I had my doubts when the girls first asked about inviting Xander to live in this house, but he’s been nothing but nice and respectful since he moved in. He doesn't even look at Faith when she traipses around the kitchen in nothing but a white tank top and those lacy black panties your little sexual deviant keeps buying for her.”

Joyce let out a dismayed groan at the easy comparison between her eldest daughter and a horny teenage boy. “There are days when I just want to grab that girl and throw her in an ice cold shower. I can’t even claim Xander as a bad influence when we both know Willow is the biggest horndog of their little Scooby trio.”

“So they’ve finally got you using their “gang lingo?” Jennifer smiled as she traded exasperated barbs with her friend. “Did they show you the sketch of the flag Dawn and Cassie are making for the L.A. kids’ hotel?”

“Of course they did.” Joyce smiled back. “Doyle’s already signed off on it, right? I can’t wait to see Wesley’s reaction to all the rainbows, pink and black triangles, and double battle axes on a bright purple field. They really went overboard with the LGBT pictographs in their first five designs. I’m actually surprised Dawn didn’t just draw two of the women’s restroom stick figures wearing strapons or something equally terrifying.”

“Hopefully one of the older girls will tell them to put a big wooden stake somewhere on the flag to actually tie things back into the vampire slaying.” Jennifer sighed as she heard the front door open and close. Voices flowed down the hall and into the kitchen.

Joyce and Jennifer shared a laugh as Xander pleaded with the Slayers to help him carry in the few dozen pizzas still waiting in the car. Joyce caught another hesitant look in her friend’s eyes before pulling the other blonde into yet another reassuring hug. “No matter what happens tonight we will all be here for you.”

For the first time in what felt like weeks, Jennifer Maclay sighed in relief. She knew the coming confrontation could utterly destroy her. Yet she took solace in the fact that no matter the damage, her family would be there to help her pick up the pieces.

*****

“What is that sissy doing? Letting two little girls carry all that food in the house for him. That just goes to show you, Boy. There are no real men in this limp-wristed, liberal, hippie commune of a state!” Donald Maclay groused as he pulled the camper to a stop in front of sixteen-thirty-two Rovello Drive. It had taken them until nightfall, but they finally figured out what the strange man from the bar had meant when he said “great big proper manor home” in a slurred “French” accent. “This is what happens when those god damn queermosexuals get to vote!”

“Sure, Dad,” Donny muttered as he took in the largest house on the block. As their search narrowed the young man grew all the more nervous. They still had no plan to deal with Tara’s magic, and now there were at least three strangers to contend with while they confronted the Maclay women. “So are we just walking in there or…”

Before Donny could even finish the question his father’s fist slammed down on the dashboard. “That tears it! I have had it with these women! They think they can just move across the country and live it up in some huge mansion bought and paid for with my taxes? I’ll show them!” The nonsensical rant was punctuated by shifting the camper into park.

“Your taxes?” Donny began to ask only to be cut off again.

“Tarnation, Boy! Don’t you see?” Donald could only shout in frustration at Donny’s continued bewilderment. “Your mother and sister are a pair of god damn welfare queens! That’s the only explanation for how they swindled the taxpayers out of the money to buy that god damn mansion. Well, the buck stops here! I’m am gonna go in there and put my foot down!”

Donny watched in complete confusion as his father got out of the camper and stormed his way up to the front door. Finally catching on to the old man’s outrage and reckless approach, Donny did his best to catch up.

Neither of the Maclay men noticed anything strange as they began to pound on the front door of the large house. Neither spotted the eyes watching them from the far side of the street. Neither saw the front door of the house across the street open as they barged their way into the Rosenberg-Maclay home. They never saw the thirty or so armed and aggravated figures file out of the house, walk across the darkened street, and climb the front porch steps of sixteen-thirty-two Rovello Drive. The Maclay men were far too busy preparing a lesson about the negative consequences of “living it up.”

_________________
Time and Time Again


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 1:06 am 
Offline
9. Gay Now
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 7:45 pm
Posts: 967
Topics: 15
Location: Beyond the orbit of Mars and accelerating...
Dayum. Who pissed you off recently?
Were they perhaps of the necked, and reddish persuasion? :)

Well, i think we might be about to see our first human combustion brought about by pure furious glares.
Bring it on! :bounce

R :flower

_________________
“All I feel is sunlight. All I hear is music.” Willow
How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


My Story: Coming Home


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 2:19 am 
Offline
6. Sassy Eggs
User avatar

Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 7:19 pm
Posts: 412
Topics: 2
Hi Azirahael.

Oh don't worry. There's so much more redneck shaming to come. Just wait till all the characters are crammed into one room together.

Considering the depths of the abuse and lies Tara, and presumably her mother, had to suffer through, I've always thought the show didn't go anywhere near far enough to demonize Tara's relatives. They hinted at the Maclay's "Redneckitude" by having Donny be dumb as a brick in two scenes, but then went right back to having Tara's father put on a Father Knows Best / all knowing 50's TV Dad tone.

Willow will most likely comment on this in a later chapter, but they've faced off against many different versions on Donald Maclay Sr. The one in this chapter isn't the most brazenly ignorant, and the one in the original show wasn't the most reserved and seemingly rational. But deep down the same prejudice and arrogance is the driving motivation behind most versions of the man.

_________________
Time and Time Again


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:05 pm 
Offline
6. Sassy Eggs
User avatar

Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 7:19 pm
Posts: 412
Topics: 2
Time and Time Again.

Author: Citanul

Feedback: Be kind, rewind? Seriously though all feedback is welcome.

Spoilers: Just about all of them. Go watch the show. And Angel too. Also Agents of Shield a little bit. You know what, if a name you don’t recognize pops up most of the time you can find dozens of pages of character bio if you type that name and the word comics into Wikipedia. It’s almost scary how much page space comic book fans have taken up on that site.

Rating: NC-17 = Smutty smut smut smut. Seriously though they make love quite often.

Pairings: W/T, B/F, G/J, D/J, F/G, A/?, X/A. Also D/C (Though not till they’re older and even then maybe not so much with the graphic detail.)

Disclaimer: You all know I don’t own the rights to characters you’ve seen on TV.

Summary: A story of reincarnation and interdimensional travel made possible through the power of love. What misfortunes will our two favorite love birds be able to prevent with the aid of experience from countless past lives?

Author’s Note: And here's the conclusion. Fair warning, Donny is a racist redneck and Donald is the kind of puritanical, homophobic, bible thumping hate-monger that you only see in reruns of Duck Dynasty, the halls of congress, and political rallies where everyone paid triple market value for ugly red hats. So what happens when you put them in a room with at least 5 lesbians, around 15 to 30 non white teens, and 2 "foreigners" with funny accents? Spoilers, It ain't pretty.

*****

Chapter 40: Family Part Two

Loud banging filled the air. All eyes shot towards the hall leading to the front door. Every member of the odd but close-knit family knew who was responsible for the racket. The Slayers turned to the adults in the room. Joyce and Giles shared resolute glances before putting reassuring hands on Jennifer’s shoulders. Only once Jennifer Maclay nodded to the Slayers did they turn to face the other teens. Xander gave a nod and a military salute which only drew eye rolls from both Slayers. Cassie mirrored the young man’s salute as Dawn let out a huff and skipped off towards the front door. A moment later the banging on the front door was replaced with outraged shouting.

“Out of my way!” Donald Maclay roared as he brushed Dawn aside. “Where is she? Woman!” He shouted while coming around the corner and into the main living room of the Rosenberg Maclay household. His voice only stilled once his eyes landed on the woman he married. A sneer curled his lips before twisting into a sinister smirk. “Well, look at that. I’ve finally found you.”

“Dad,” Donny half growled, half pleaded to his father as he came into the room and looked over the crowd they had not accounted for. He blinked in surprise as his eyes focused on his mother. “Hey, Mom,” he said with a small wave.

“Hello, Donny,” Jennifer said, completely ignoring her husband. “It’s been a long time.”

“Enough of that!” Donald snapped as he took another step forward. “We’re all leaving! Where is that ungrateful girl? It’s time for the both of you to come home!”

Jennifer let out a sigh before straightening her shoulders and looking her husband in the eye. “This is my home, Donald.”

“Woman, I have had it with…” He took three more angry steps forward only to come up short as both Buffy and Faith stepped in his path. “Is this a joke?”

“Yeah.” Faith smiled at the intruder. Those who knew her recognized that smile as the one reserved for the monsters she hunted each and every night. “It’s a real funny one too.”

“Dad.” Donny’s plea once more fell on deaf ears. Though the danger flew over Donald Maclay’s head, for once Donny Maclay was smart enough to see the threat for what it was. The two girls standing before his father were more dangerous than any witch or demon the fool had ever ranted and raved about.

“Quiet, Boy!” Donald snapped as the last of his limited patience ran out. “I have had enough of this insolent little tantrum from all of you. I am here for the women. They’re coming home where their sinful urges can be put down. Now, where is Tara?”

“Right here, Dad.” All eyes turned to the archway behind the Maclay men. Tara stood just a few paces behind her father and brother. She smiled as she walked into the living room, hand in hand with Willow. The redhead scowled at the intruders as she held the hand of her always. They made a wide circle, coming to stand in front of Jennifer, Joyce, and Giles. Following along in the wake of the two witches were a pair of smirking lawyers who cast forced smiles at the Sunnydale residents, and more than a few scowls at each other. The male lawyer looked to the Maclay men and barely held back a laugh. He shook his head as the taller lawyer rolled her eyes.

Tara smiled at the assembled members of her family before turning to face her father and brother. Before she could speak a soft knocking came from the front door. The honey blonde witch smiled and nodded to Dawn who skipped off down the hall again.

“Well, it looks like the gang’s all here,” Tara spoke in calm even tones as the front door opened and the sound of dozens of footsteps filtered down the hall. “We can begin.”

“Damn it, girl,” Donald muttered as he ignored the footsteps coming from behind him. “Of all the shameful things you could have done. Did you think you could hide from us forever? Did you really think I wouldn’t notice your disgraceful behavior? Flaunting your sin on newspapers and magazine covers! Shaming our family!”

The redneck’s rant was cut short by a commanding feminine voice. “Well, it’s good to know I ain’t the only one here with shitty biological parents.” Donald and Donny spun to see a large and overtly diverse group of teens standing in the archway they had come through. The teens were all armed with some kind of melee weapons. They filed into the room, taking up positions all around. Buffy noticed Jonathan standing with Chain and Rondell. She cast a questioning look to Alonna, only to receive an eye roll and a shrug before both Slayers turned all their attention back to Tara’s father. Jennifer’s unwitting ex.

Towards the back of the new group of arrivals, three men stood, blocking the archway connecting the hallway to the living room and any hope of escape. One dressed in glasses and tweed held up his nose at the Maclay men. Another man dressed in black leaned against the wall while a small smile played across his face. The shortest of the three held Donald with a hard glare before glancing across the room to Jennifer.

Any further complaints from Donald Maclay died in his throat as it became apparent that he and his son were now surrounded by roughly thirty people who would not let them have their way. For once, he was speechless. If only the same could be said for his son.

“Wow. Dang, Tara.” Donny let out a whistle as he surveyed the mix of angry and annoyed faces glaring at him. “This is more people than you met back home. Might be more people than went to our high school. Definitely more of a mixed bag, what with all the coloreds too.”

“Ooh…” Xander let out a groan of chagrin as more than a few hands gripped weapons all the tighter. “Beard-guy, know your audience.”

“Donny, I spend a lot of my time trying to convince my friends and loved ones that not all people from Alabama are racist, inbred, rednecks.” Tara’s soft rebuke almost flew over her brother’s head. “Please don’t make me look like a liar by acting like your usual self.”

The young intruder stiffened at the insult before he noticed the young black woman that lead the second group into the room was staring at him. Her eyes held a dangerous, predatory look. The same look as the two girls who had stood in his father’s path. Angering any of those girls would lead to nothing but suffering and death. Wisely, Donny decided to hold his tongue.

Seeing the redneck with a chinstrap suitable chastised, Alonna turned her attention back to her extended family. She walked arm in arm with Dawn, around the Maclay men and the other Slayers, her brother close behind. As Dawn broke off to rejoin Cassie, the Gunn siblings approached Jennifer and Tara. They hugged both blondes before Gunn went to stand beside Xander and Alonna joined her fellow Slayers. The intimidating trio began to circle Donald Maclay. No one in the room even batted an eye at the sheer malevolence pouring off the Slayers in nearly palpable waves.

With Donny suitably cowed it fell to Donald to once more plead their case. The intruder ignored the trio of apex predators circling him, waiting to strike. He took in a breath, straightened his shoulders, and locked eyes with the only obvious figure of authority that had been there when he stormed in. “Mister, I don’t know what your game is with all these gangbangers and uppity little girls, but the fact remains. Jennifer and Tara are dangerous. They need to come home where they belong. Where they can be controlled. Before their evil spreads.”

A moment passed with the disgruntled southerner staring at the Brit before Buffy finally spoke up. “Giles, I think he’s talking to you.”

“Figures he’d think the middle-aged man was the one calling the shots.” Faith muttered as more than a few laughs came from around the room.

Giles for his part simply smiled and took one step forward. Before speaking he removed his glasses and began to polish them in an almost languid manner. “Ah, there’s the rub, isn’t it. Ever so sorry to disappoint you, but where Tara and Jennifer go is simply not up to me to decide.”

A sneer curled Donald Maclay’s lip as the posh accent poured from the foreigner. Donald’s voice rose as Giles returned the glasses to his face. “It’s for your own good. The women in our family are different. They have demon in them. They need to be quelled.”

The room was silent for a long moment. All eyes staring at Donald Maclay. For an instant, the intruder thought they would see reason. Then the quiet was broken by a giggle from the little girl that had opened the door for him. The giggling was met by a few chuckles, and eventually outright laughter. He looked around the room. Even as the laughter died down it was clear none of the adults were taking him seriously.

Faith eventually drew the laughter to a close with mockery and a particularly menacing threat of her own. “Check out the stones on Jed Clampett over here! Anybody with brains, anybody who knew what was gonna happen to ‘em, would have turned around and started running the other way. But not you,” the Slayer smirked wickedly as she circled Tara’s father. “Ya just can’t stop with the daddy dearest act. Can ya?”

Before either of the Maclay men could plead further Doyle walked around them to stand in front of Jennifer. He faced Donald. He took his measure of his girlfriend’s husband and let the glare drop for a moment. He looked around the room and seemingly spoke to everyone except for Donald Maclay. “Now come on, everyone. Let’s hear them out. They could be onto something with all this demon nonsense.” He looked back to Donald and addressed the man directly. “How much demon are we talkin’ about here?”

Donald and Donny blinked at the question. Of all the rebuttals he imagined, that was not something he ever expected. Donald could only shake his head as he failed to answer the shorter man. “What?”

“How much demon do they have in them?” Snickers filtered in from the teens spread around the room and Jennifer began to blush. “Come on now, man. It’s a simple question. How much demon is inside your wife?”

“Does it matter?” Donald asked as he became lost at the oddity of the questions. “Evil is evil.”

“Oh, well, of course, it’s all evil.” Doyle shrugged off the non-answer. “Still, it comes in all shapes and sizes. Doesn’t it?”

A faint “That’s what she said.” could be heard before a slap quieted whoever had spoken up. Donald Maclay was growing more suspicious as the amusement and questions kept coming. He stared at the shorter man with what he thought might have been a German or English accent and failed to come up with a more detailed answer for the amount of demon inside his wife.

“Okay, okay. Maybe if I rephrase the question.” Doyle said before turning to look around the room. “That’s fair? Right, guys? Give him one more chance to figure out just how much demon we’re talking about?”

“Go for it, Irish,” Gunn smirked as the Irishman returned his attention back to the interlopers.

“Okay, so, how much demon do you think is inside Jen over there?” Doyle asked with a thumb thrown over his shoulder towards the woman he would do anything to defend. “Is it this much?”

Donald and Donny gasped in terror as the diminutive man standing before them changed. His skin rippled and shifted as he threw his head back and rolled his neck. Pale Irish coloring darkened into a dull green hue as hundreds of tiny blue spikes erupted from every square inch of the man’s face. The demon before them opened his blood red eyes and fixed them with a menacing yet quizzical glare.

“Is this about how much demon you think is inside your wife?” Doyle’s accent fell away as his words grew harsher. While he spoke Jennifer walked up behind him and put one arm around his waist. Two of the fingers on her free hand began to walk their way from one spike to the next across the surface of his altered face. “More demon than this? Less? Come on, man! Give us something to work with!”

Laughter again filled the room as Jennifer began to fawn over her half-demon boyfriend. Whistles and catcalls filled the air until Doyle turned to look his girl in the eye. “Jen, Darlin’, I don’t think he gets it.”

“He always was a bit oblivious, Sweetie.” Jennifer’s casual remark was all it took to stir Donald from the stunned and terrified stupor Doyle’s transformation had inflicted. He lunged forward only to halt abruptly. Faith stood in his path and planted one firm hand in the center of his chest.

“Get away from him you stupid woman! He’s a demon!” Donald shouted as Faith forced him back, nearly throwing him into Donny. “Jennifer, what the hell are you doing?”

“Living my life, Donald.” For once the derisive and condescending tone in Jennifer’s voice did not fly over Donald’s head. He was about to lunge forward again until a light kick to the back of his knee sent him to the floor. Donny was about to move to his father’s aid until a harsh growl from Faith stopped him in his tracks. “Don’t even think about it, chinstrap.”

Donald seethed as he managed to prop himself up on his knees. His eye cast about the room, taking in the mocking, disdainful, and hateful expression aimed his way. Finally, his gaze landed on the short blonde who had been staring daggers at him from the moment he barged into the house. The girl’s glare had only intensified after she stepped in his way. He could see that she was waiting for his next move. Donald climbed back up to his feet and straightened his back. Whatever the little girl thought she could do to stop him wasn’t a concern. All that mattered was getting the women to see reason. “This is insane. You people have no right interfering in our affairs. We are blood kin! Who the hell are you?”

Buffy stood firm against the redneck’s incredulous outrage. She stood taller than her diminutive stature would have ever suggested she could. She answered for the group, never once noticing the tears that seeped from the corners of Tara’s eyes. Tears that came forth each and every time the Slayer unerringly told Tara’s father two simple words. “We’re family.”

“Dad?” Donny couldn’t help but stare in confusion as he saw his headstrong father flinch. “What are you… You’re just gonna let them? What the hell?” He shouted as he turned to address the group. “Don’t you people get it? They’re demons! This is the only way! There’s evil in their blood!”

A chuckle came from behind the Maclay men. “Funny you should mention that.” Donny turned to see the black-leather-clad man step forward. A casual smirk on his face. “Their blood is the problem? That’s what I’m hearing? That’s the main point you’re trying to make?”

“Yes!” Donald agreed as Angel stalked his way up to the Maclay men. The Slayers casually parted for the smirking vampire. The expression never faltered as he came to stand within a few inches of Donny.

“See, I just wanted to clarify a few things, because I’ve tasted their blood,” Angel spoke in calm tones as Donny and Donald began to pale. “They were very kind to offer so long as I answered truthfully, and I can tell you that Tara and Jennifer are fully human.” He smiled as he leaned in, his face mere inches from Donny’s. “And I’d know human blood from demon blood…” Both Maclay men gasped and fell backwards as Angel revealed his true face. “Because I’m a big scary vampire!”

Angel let out a melodramatic chuckle and had more than a few of the Hyperion Crew laughing along with him at the now terrified rednecks. Laughter which only intensified as Angel made a show of menacing the two intruders. The display carried on for almost a full minute before Buffy and Alonna cleared their throats. Angel drew back to a respectable distance, never dropping his vampiric visage. “Now don’t get me wrong. Witch blood…” The undead shuddered as he addresses the Maclays. “It’s exquisite. Unlike anything, you’ve ever tasted. Almost as good as Slayer’s blood, but that’s something few of us bloodsucking demons get away with. Demon blood, on the other hand, tastes like a mix of raw sewage and warm piss. So you can trust me when I tell you that those two women are in fact purebred, grade A, human. Accept no substitutes.”

“Says the guy who lives off microwaved pig’s blood.” Gunn and a few of the other boys chuckled as the vampire gave them an unrepentant and mostly shameless look.

“What can I say?” Angel shrugged as he walked over to Jennifer and Doyle. He stood where he could easily shield the couple if either of the Maclay men tried anything. “The witches and Slayers keep me on a tight leash, but the upside of their diet plan is not getting turned into a pile of dust. So I call it a fair compromise.”

As the various members of the Hyperion Crew laughed at the vampire’s antics Doyle, Wesley, Lilah, the Slayers, and all of the Sunnydale residents kept their eyes on the Maclay men. As they watched the intruders they noticed a change. It started off as a small flinch. Then a straightening of the shoulders. Posture growing rigid closed off. Eyes hardening as one redneck saw the other in a new light. They watched as a young fool lost all illusions about the old fool who raised him.

“You lied to me,” Donny whispered as he turned to face his father.

“What, boy? Not now.” Donald tried to cast his son’s mutterings out of his mind. He had more important problems at the moment. Primarily the obvious demon and vampire standing between himself and his wife.

“You fucking lied to me!” Donny’s shout filled the room and put an end to any laughter from the teens. “You made me believe my own fucking mother was a god damn demon! You lied to me like I was some fucking woman! My whole fucking life you fucking told me I had a duty to keep our family on god’s fucking path! You told me I had to “quell” their fucking sin or else their demons would get loose and fuck up our lives!”

“Damn it, boy!” Donald shouted down his son. He had to get things under control or else he would never get his wife and daughter back to the farm. Donald was so preoccupied with his own delusional goals that he never saw the hit coming.

Donny’s fist connected squarely with his father’s jaw. The old man went tumbling to the floor. The strike drew stunned gasps from the boy’s mother and most of the adults in the room. A few of the teens were actually impressed by the fact that Donny had laid out his old man in a single hit. The Slayers were not. They saw all the flaws and problems in the young redneck’s form.

“I’m done with you, old man!” Donny shouted as he turned to leave Willow and Tara’s home. “Never fucking lie to me again!”

Quiet awe settled over the living room as Donald Maclay once more clawed his way back up to his feet. The stunned mood was only ended when one of the many teens lining the room questioned the scene that had played out.

“Did that white boy just make his mom and his sister being tortured for years all about him?” Rondell’s quiet utterance drew an exasperated eye roll from Tara and an almost shamed lowering of the head from Jennifer.

“Donny always did act like the world revolved around him.” Tara sighed as she turned away from the archway her brother had exited through and towards the leader of the gang she and her everything had befriended and financed. “Charles, I’d really appreciate it if my brother didn’t come back here in a week as a vampire and try to convince one of us to invite him in. Could you please take the boys and follow him. Make sure he makes it to the train or bus station in one piece and leaves town. Please?”

Gunn looked to the honey blonde witch and smiled. “Sure thing, Tara.” His eyes circled the room. One finger went up and spun in a circle. The teens lining the room all nodded and filed out of the house. Gunn threw one arm over Fred’s shoulders. The couple walked towards the front door. Giving Alonna a few light fist bumps on the way out.

Jonathan perked up as he went with Chain and Rondell. “Oh, I know the way to the bus station. I’ll lead you guys.” His friends laughed and clapped the shorter teen on the shoulders.

“I shall accompany them,” Wesley said as he nodded to the witches and then to Alonna. “Just in case they run into any local law enforcement and need someone “respectable” to plead their case.” The others could tell by the derisive tone around the word respectable that the watcher held no respect for any officer or official who would take the word of Tara’s brother over that of Gunn. Or even Chain and Rondell for that matter.

The room nearly emptied as the Hyperion Crew left in pursuit of Tara’s short-sighted and belligerent brother. Donald Maclay nearly felt a sense of smug satisfaction as his boy’s antics had cleared out all but a few of the obvious threats. The notion quickly died a violent and ugly death. The smugness lodging somewhere in the back of his throat as he realized the demon and vampire remained to bracket his wife. More vexing was the fact that the three girls still circled him.

“Enough of this!” He snapped as the Slayers continued to circle. “I’m not going to be threatened by three little girls.”

Giles let out an exasperated sigh as he and Joyce came to stand beside Doyle. “Mr. Maclay, you are not just dealing with three little girls.”

“You’re dealing with all of us,” Xander added before Giles could go on.

“What’s more, you seem to have overlooked one simple piece of information.” The Englishman smirked in a way that almost gave the redneck pause.

The sneer could be heard in every word the man spat back at Giles. “And what pray tell is that?”

“Not to put too fine a point on it, but we have a demon and a vampire arrayed in defensive positions around Jennifer.” Giles smiled at the man as he spoke in his most refined English accent. “Knowing what these men are and what they can do, you should really have asked yourself one very important question.”

“What?” The snide flippant retort just drew sinister grins from the Slayers.

Giles simply smiled as he faced down the belligerent intruder. “If we have literal monsters protecting her then how powerful are the, as you put it, “three little girls” who have been circling you like hungry wolves?”

“Nah, it’s more like sharks.” Xander chimed in from where he stood beside Dawn and Cassie. “And from the looks of it, there’s definitely blood in the water.”

The truth dawned on the man in all of a single heartbeat. He had ignored his son’s warning and every instinct left in the modern human psyche. He finally saw the danger he was in. The predators slowly closing in. Jaws at the ready to snap, tear, and gnash. He had slathered himself up in honey and barbecue sauce, then blindly walked into a bear cave. Fear blossomed as Donald Maclay saw just where his prejudiced and ignorant lifestyle choices had taken him.

*****

“What the hell are you Darkeys still followin’ me for?”

It had not been the first racial slur of the night, and from the looks of things, it would not be the last. The Hyperion Crew trudged along through the darkened streets of the hellmouth, following a scant five yards behind Donny Maclay. Though many of them chafed at protecting the offensive redneck, none would act on those impulses. None were willing to betray the trust placed in them by Tara and Jennifer.

“Be thankful we’re here to watch your ass, chinstrap.” Chain shouted back.

Mutterings of agreement came from others in the Hyperion Crew until an unexpected voice addresses Donny directly. “You’re gonna want to take the next right at this intersection.”

Donny scoffed and spit on the ground before replying to Jonathan’s casual directions. “What the hell is that supposed to mean, race traitor? I ain’t takin’ lip from some pussy who pals around with this many spooks.”

“Hey man, if you don’t want to make it to the bus station alive and in one piece that’s fine.” Gunn shot back before either Chain or Rondell could leap to their friend's defense. “But we got orders to make sure you make it out of this town alive. So shut your mouth and keep walking towards the bus station. You can get yourself eaten after you cross the state line.”

“You threatening me, boy?” Donny’s abrasive retort actually drew laughter from several members of the Hyperion Crew, and a sly smile from Gunn.

“Nah, son.” Gunn laughed off Donny’s racist nicknames. “If I was threatening you, you’d be able to tell. What with my foot being planted up your narrow ass and my girl here holdin’ her blade to your throat.”

“Oh, that’s it!” Donny shouted as he turned to face his unenthusiastic guard detail. “It’s been too long since I skinned a coon.” The brash redneck stormed up to the calm gang leader, only to come up short as a curved sword almost shaped like a question mark, and a battle axe forged from a hubcap came to rest on either side of his neck. Donny looked around to find no less than five crossbows aimed directly at his head. Sweat dripped down his brow as Gunn took a deep breath and spoke with all the calm and restraint he could muster.

“I get it, Donny-Boy.” Gunn locked eyes with the redneck as he eased back on his axe. “You don’t like us, and we don’t like you. That’s fine. We don’t got to like each other. We can hate on you and you can hate on us all you want, but we got a job to do. Your sister asked us to make sure you don’t get eaten by any of the monsters in this town. She asked us real nice like to walk your ungrateful racist ass to the bus station and watch you get on the next bus out of the hellmouth. So that’s what we’re gonna do.”

Donny was once again at a loss for words. He had known all his life how dangerous gangbangers and hoodrats were. Here he was, facing off against a small army of them. Each of them armed with weapons he never expected to see. Where had his sister dug up three dozen thugs who’d choose swords and crossbows over handguns? Then he recalled the demon and the vampire. Before the redneck could ponder the gang before him, red and blue lights flickered on and a high pitched blaring noise filled the night air. Donny smiled as he stepped back from the gang and glanced over to see the oncoming squad car. “Oh, you boys are in for it now. Officer! Hey! Officer! Over here!”

Weapons were stowed as the police car came to a stop and two uniformed men stepped out. The older of the two looked back and forth between the Hyperion Crew and Donny Maclay before raising his voice. “What’s going on here?”

“Oh thank god you’re here, officer!” Donny went on to draw all the attention of the cops. “I was just walking along when these gangbangers assaulted me for no reason.”

Before Donny could spout off any more nonsense, Wesley stepped forward. “Officer, I believe this young man is mistaken about a great many things.”

The cops looked to each other and nodded before turning back to the odd group. “Okay, you with the beard. You go over there with my partner and he’ll take your statement.” Donny looked offended that the cop wasn’t already pulling out handcuffs to arrest thirty or so people on his word alone. The look was dispelled by a harsh word. “Now!”

The second cop and the redneck walked a dozen feet back towards the car as the first cop turned all his attention back to the Hyperion Crew. “Now, you, Mr. Belvedere. What are you and all these urban youths doing in this neighborhood at night?”

“Mr. Belvedere?” Wesley was flummoxed as a new wave of chuckles went through the group of teens behind him. “Officer, I can assure you that my associates here meant that young ruffian no harm.”

“Uh-huh.” The cop’s reply did little to hide his disbelief. “Alright, I’m gonna have to ask you all to cooperate while…”

“Wait!” Gunn said as he stepped forward in front of Wesley. “Officer, I’d like to apologize for my friend here. He tends to beat around the bush if you know what I’m saying. The truth is we’re a private security firm contracted by Rosenberg and Maclay.”

The cop was all to disinterested in Gunn’s spiel until the very last three words. “What? What did you just say?”

“That’s right, maybe you’ve heard of the fine works Ms. Rosenberg and Ms. Maclay have done for this fine town.” Gunn went on, laying heavy emphasis on the two names that he knew would rattle the cop more than anything else they could say. “Now we don’t normally divulge contract details, but seeing as how you’re obviously in the know I can tell you why we’re out on your streets on this fine night.”

“Rosenberg and Maclay.” The cop whispered as Gunn’s speech drained the color from his face.

“That’s right. We were seeing to a separate issue at the behest of Ms. Rosenberg when the young Mr. Maclay over there barged into their home and started making demands.” Gunn held back a smile as the cop’s head spun around to look at Donny before looking back to the Hyperion Crew in terror. “Luckily Mr. Maclay was dissuaded from causing too much of a scene. As he left the Rosenberg and Maclay household, Ms. Maclay asked us to ensure that her brother made it safely to the nearest bus station and exited this fine town. She was worried, seeing as how Sunnydale’s nightlife has a reputation and all that.”

The cop swallowed any reply that may have fought its way to the surface of his mind. The young man before him had very clearly name dropped all the right names to make both he and his partner run for the hills. Even with their oddly specific knowledge of local politics, at least part of the group’s story had to be verified. The cop turned and briskly stomped his way over to his partner.

“So then the one spade…”

“Sir! I’m gonna ask you to refrain from using any more derogatory terms! Now, what happened before…” The second cop’s innocuous question was cut short as his partner barged in on the interview.

“Are you Donny Maclay?” The older cop barked, startling both his partner and the redneck.

“What’s that got to…” Donny’s annoyed rebuttal was cut off again.

“Answer the goddamn question! Are you Donald Maclay Junior?” The older cop was furious as his eyes darted back and forth in panic.

After Donny looked between the two cops and saw the obvious tension, he finally answered the question “Yeah, I’m Donny Maclay. What’s that got to do with me being assaulted by those gangbangers?”

The cop grit his teeth before looking at his partner. “Get in the car. We’re leaving.” The second cop did not question or hesitate. The second his partner asked to verify the young redneck’s full name he knew they were in far over their pay grades. He simply nodded and climbed back into the passenger seat of the squad car.

“Hey!” Donny shouted as the cops began to leave. “Hey! What the fuck? Get back here and arrest these coons!”

The older cop stuck his head out the window of the squad car as he snapped at Donny. “Listen, you dumb redneck! I don’t know what you’re doing in this town, and I don’t want to know. Just do the smart thing for once in your life and take my advice. Let these boys walk you to the bus station, get on the first bus out of town, and don’t come back. The last thing I need is the brother of one of the Senior Partners getting eaten because he doesn’t know the rules.” The lights and siren blared once as the cops pulled out and sped down the road. In their wake remained the amused Hyperion Crew and one woefully confused redneck.

“What the fuck?” Donny called out as the cop car disappeared around a corner. His confusion was made all the more troublesome by the laughter coming from the group following him.

Donny turned to see the leader of the gang smiling, taking two steps closer to where he stood in utter disbelief. “That should clue you in, chinstrap. The only colors that matter in a town like Sunnydale are green and red. Your sister has the green, and if you know what’s good for ya, you’ll get walkin’ before some bloodsucker comes along to take all your red.”

*****

“So are we throwing him out the door or what?” Faith’s casual remark caused Donald Maclay to flinch. He looked around to the Slayer’s still circling him. His eyes only left the predatory young women once his daughter spoke.

“Not yet, Faith.” Tara gave her friend a reassuring smile. The expression melted away as she looked back to her father. “Lilah, if you could get that papers we talked about.”

“Of course Ms. Maclay.” The tall lawyer pulled up her briefcase and began to rifle through papers. In no time she pulled out a small stack of documents and a clipboard. Lilah set her briefcase aside and walked towards the bewildered man. “Mr. Maclay. I am Lilah Morgan, a representative of the law firm of Rosenberg and Maclay. I’ll be representing Jennifer Maclay in any future legal proceedings. If you wish to contact your own legal representative you may, but in all honesty, things will go more easily for you if you just sign these documents and cooperate with your wife’s limited requests.”

“What the devil are you rambling about, woman?” Donald snatched the stack of papers out of Lilah’s outstretched hand. The move drew a harsh glare from the Slayers. His eyes skimmed the documents, incomprehension complete and overwhelming as he grasped for meaning amidst the legalese. “What is this nonsense?”

Jennifer’s gentle voice shocked the man and drew every ounce of his attention. “They’re divorce papers, Donald. It’s for the best.”

“You’re insane.” Donald scoffed as he dropped the clipboard and documents to the floor. “You thought I’d allow something like this? You’re both coming home and you are going to learn the cost of running off to indulge in sin and depravity.”

“No, Donald.” Jennifer sighed as she felt Doyle squeeze her hand. “No. This is where I belong. This is my home now. I’m sorry, but it has no place for you in it.”

The outraged redneck glared at his wife. The other people in the room all but faded away as his ire came to rest on the woman he had tormented and controlled for so many years. “Woman, I am out of patience. You know your place. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll get in the camper and put this shameful insolence behind you.”

“I really think I’m being more than fair, Donald.” His eyes bulged as his wife ignored every blatant threat and demand he threw at her. “I’m letting you keep the house, the land, the joint account, everything we earned and bought back in Alabama. I’m not even going to bother with alimony. All I’m taking is my freedom and my life. Things that should have never been yours to give.”

Donald felt an outraged scream building in the back of his throat. Before he could roar his defiance and indignation a surprising thought crossed his mind. He looked around the room and realized several important details. A sinister smirk curled his lips. “I see what’s going on here. You thought you could pull one over on me. No, no I won’t just be walking away from this with nothing to show for it. I know what I’m entitled to.”

An exasperated sigh escaped from Giles as Doyle and Angel tensed. “What the bloody hell is this cretin on about now?” The Englishman’s question only drew a sinister grin from the redneck.

“You people can’t fool me!” Donald snapped. “I know my rights. Selling this eyesore of a house will just about cover all the money I wasted tracking down you women.”

No one spoke for almost a full minute. As the quiet wore on Donald began to wonder why no one looked the least bit concerned with his threats. A laugh behind him broke the silence. It was joined by more chuckling from the demon and vampire. Perhaps most concerning was the fact that the tall lawyer burst into laughter, nearly doubling over as she tried and failed to draw breath.

“Oh.” Lilah’s laughter came in staggered bursts. “Oh, my. Wow. That’s precious. Really. Do you really think you have any legal standing in this state? Do you think you could actually get away with trying to sell this house?” Lilah’s cackling only served to further enrage the redneck.

“Woman, I don’t know what you think is so funny.” Donald straightened up as he looked back to Jennifer with a smug grin. “As Jennifer's husband her possessions are mine. That includes this house.”

Lilah paused in her laughter. She looked at the man just to check if he was serious. As soon as his arrogant assumptions and undeserved pride became clear the lawyer couldn’t help her response. Lilah’s cackling filled the room and was soon followed by similar laughter from Lindsey and all three Slayers. The lawyer turned her back on the redneck and threw one last remark over her shoulder as she walked back to Lindsey’s side.

“Have fun with this one, Slayers.”

Donald’s confusion became clear as the laughter continued. “What’s so funny? Any house my wife buys is rightfully mine.”

Jennifer sighed as she leaned against Doyle’s side. “They’re laughing because this isn’t my house, Donald. You really don’t need to make such a fool of yourself.”

“Then it’s Tara’s?” Donald asked before looking at his daughter. “Trying to hide behind a name on a deed won’t work, girl. You’re still my daughter and still under my legal authority.”

“Funny,” Lindsey said from the sidelines as he and Lilah continued to snicker at the redneck. “But even if that was how the law worked, Ms. Maclay isn’t a minor and this house isn’t in her name.”

“Then who owns this house? Some cult?” Donald’s question caused the laughter to slow. As it died out all eyes in the room turned to one person. The slender redheaded girl who had not spoken since she walked into the room at Tara’s side. Donald took his measure of the girl. The redhead had done nothing but glare at him, hatred, venom, and disgust dripping from her steady gaze. He sneered right back as it became clear that Tara had latched onto the first useless feminist dyke she came across in this liberal hell hole. “And just who the hell are you supposed to be?”

The redhead paused before answering. A smirk crossed her face, growing into a bright and far too sunny smile. “Oh, how rude of me. It’s so nice to finally meet you, Mr. Maclay.” Even Donald could grasp her obvious sarcasm. “I’m Willow Rosenberg. The redheaded, Jewish, lesbian, witch that has been sleeping with your daughter outside of wedlock. We’ve been doing all sorts of sinful things together. I’d invite you to the wedding, but, well, we wanted to keep the guest list to just family. No reason to invite every Tom, Dick, and ignorant piece of trash to our big day.”

Donald could not hold back the rage boiling over as Willow spoke. His furious response was hasty and ill-advised. The reaction from the Slayers was brutal and swift. Donald Maclay lunged forward, arms outstretched. He covered a small fraction of the distance between himself and the redhead at his daughter’s side. He came up short. Faith’s fist impacted the center of his chest, sending him sprawling backwards faster than he could have moved on his own. Before he could impact with the floor or the far wall his stomach came in contact with a solid knee. Alonna smirked as she picked the crumpled redneck off of her knee and tossed him across the room. He went flying for the briefest of instances, only stopping when his torso slammed into an outstretched arm that felt like it was forged from solid iron.

The arrogant fool struggled for breath after having it beaten out of him three times in rapid succession. Gasping, he barely noticed as he was pulled back and lifted into the air. A hand wrapped around his throat in a viselike grip. Blinking back tears, Donald’s vision was filled by furious hazel eyes. When the Slayer spoke there was just as much iron in her word and her gaze as there was in her arm. Fear gripped his mind just as surely as the hand around his throat gripped his windpipe. No one spoke up to challenge the petite blonde. No one came to his rescue. No one batted an eye as he was threatened with three simple words.

“Behave. Or else.”

*****

“I say, that was rather quick thinking on your part, Charles.”

The watcher nodded his unnecessary approval to his Slayer’s brother. Gunn leaned against the wall of the Sunnydale bus station. His arm draped over Fred’s shoulders. His Crew openly mocking a shaken Donny Maclay. The young redneck was climbing onto a bus that would take him east to Los Vegas, where a connecting bus would take him back home to Alabama. Or just anywhere that wasn’t southern California. Realistically, they didn’t care. All that mattered was they had done their part to follow Tara Maclay’s wishes. Hopefully, they would never again have to deal with Donny Maclay.

“Shoot, English.” Gunn laughed as Fred smiled into his side. “Name droppin’ our “bosses” ain’t nothin’ special. They’ve got the law in this town on a tight leash. The fact that we knew their names and chinstrap gave up his own name was all we needed.”

“You guys should see them at school,” Jonathan chimed in from where he stood by Chain and Rondell. “Principal Snyder is terrified of them. Whenever he’s going to bother Xander or Faith or Buffy, all it takes is one look from Willow and he turns and runs off to pester someone else.”

Wesley nodded and raised his head. “I can’t even imagine the chaos this town would be suffering if not for those two young women. What’s more, after having met the men of her family, I’m finding myself full of newfound respect for Ms. Maclay. To think she had to cope with those… “people” while growing up.” The nearby members of the Hyperion Crew smiled at the overt disdain in the Englishman’s voice.

“Yeah, the boss is a saint,” Rondell added as he watched the rest of the Crew tauntingly wave their farewells to Donny from the curb. “Don’t know how she came out so nice having to listen to shit like “that” all day every day.”

“And the things he said.” Jonathan shook his head in disbelief. “I’ll admit. I’ve got an uncle that we only see at holidays and no one ever discusses politics with. So I’ve heard a lot of those words, but this guy. I mean, he called Chain a… you know… a,” he paused, looked around, and whispered the rest of the sentence. “A “gook” at one point. Chain, are you even part Asian? One eighth? One sixteenth?”

Chain actually smiled at the questions. “Nah, holmes. All my great grandparents are from Honduras. Maybe one was from Puerto Rico or El Salvador. I don’t know where chinstrap got the idea I was Filipino or Vietnamese or whatever. I’d have thought he’d be making jokes about tacos and asking how wet my back was.”

“Shameful.” Wesley shook his head as Rondell and Gunn laughed at Chain’s remark. The bus began to pull out of the station lot and onto the road out of town. “Our benefactor must be a woman of remarkable character to have survived such ignorance and vitriol.”

*****

As Donald hung in the air, teetering on the verge of blacking out, a soft voice broke the tension in the room. “Buffy, you can put him down now.” Donald blinked back tears as the petite blonde looked over her shoulder and smiled at his daughter.

“Sure thing, Tara.” Buffy released her grip and Donald Maclay went tumbling to the ground. The man landed on his ass, gasping for breath as the trio of Slayers loomed over him. As he finally caught his breath Donald looked up from his place on the floor. He could see nothing but contempt and disdain in the eyes of those around him.

“Dad.” Tara’s voice drew his attention. He looked to her as he climbed up to his knees. The calm resolve he found in her eyes set his blood to boiling once more. When she looked upon him there was nothing in her gaze save for pity. “Mom and I are happy. Finally, happy. For the first time in our lives. That should be enough. You should accept the truth and let go.” He climbed back up to his feet, a furious retort ready to be thrown at the girl. Her next words stopped him just as surely as the Slayers had. “But I know it’s not enough to convince you. So I’ll just state the obvious. This is Willow’s home. She’s easily the most powerful witch on the planet, and right now I can tell how hard it is for her to be holding all that power back. So for your own safety, just go.”

Donald’s eyes wandered back to the redhead. He all but gasped in shock at the nearly visible waves of power rippling off the girl. There was nothing but sheer hatred in her gaze. Hatred for everything Donald Maclay was. For everything he did. For everything he believed. As their eyes met he could feel just how small he was compared to the undeniable magical force hiding within the slender redhead.

A chuckling behind the intruder broke the terrifying spell the redhead’s gaze cast. He did not turn his back on the witch, but he could easily hear the smirk coming from the brunette at his back. “Ooh, I ain’t never seen Red this riled up before. Think there’s gonna be anything left of Jed Clampett here when she’s done?”

“No,” Alonna smirked as she kept her eyes fixed on the redneck.

Buffy smiled as she too stared down the man. “Will really doesn’t like to get Jen’s nice clean floors all messy.”

Before the Slayers or the rest of the peanut gallery could chime in with any further quips, Willow spoke in a calm voice that belied the rage Donald felt coming from her. “Tara, this has always been your decision. Do you want to leave me?”

Tara smiled as she looked back to her always. “Never.”

The faintest sigh came from Willow before she spoke again. “Jen, do you want to leave my home?”

“No, Sweetie,” Jennifer said. “I don’t even want to think about how much trouble you’d get into without me.”

With a small nod at the reassurances of the Maclay women, darkness filled Willow’s eyes as she spoke. “There’s your answer, Donald. You know where the door is.”

Donald hesitated for a moment. In that moment all three Slayers took a step forward. Their menacing presence was only held back by Tara as she raised one hand. The girls looked varying flavors of chastised and exasperated as they eased back from the intruder. When Tara spoke, her father knew he had no choice but to listen.

“We aren’t going back to the farm. Ever. That isn’t in the cards.” Tara spoke with more conviction and steel than Donald had ever heard from her. “You have a choice. You can sign Lilah’s papers, and we can all move on. You can walk away and get back to your life. Or my friends can throw you out the door. You may not like it, but those are your only options.”

“Tara…” Donald began, angry, only to still as Tara shook her head and frowned. Willow stepped forward and joined hands with her everything. As they met, Donald balked at waves of power coming from both Willow and Tara. Even with his nonexistent perception of magic, he could feel the all-encompassing power within the girl that was once his daughter. The threat she posed. The undeniable magic.

“Dad.” The gentle words coming from his former daughter cast a stark contrast with the menace of her mystical presence. “Just go.”

He could not argue. He could not lash out. He could not deny the power of the young women before him. There was nothing left for him here. With a disgruntled huff, Donald turned on his heel and stormed out. He stopped for a brief moment in the archway between the hall and living room. He turned to survey the family that stood firm and resolute against his demands. They did not falter under his contemptuous gaze. He let out a single word, twisted into a curse by his own animosity. Then he fled. Out the door, into the night, and back to the camper.

“Magic.”

*****

“I swear. He wasn’t always like this. He used to be normal.” Jennifer sat on the living room couch with Doyle and Faith on either side, doing all they could to comfort her. “He wasn’t like this in high school.”

“Oh, Darlin’.” Doyle’s arm was wrapped around the woman’s shoulders as he ran his fingers through her hair. “You don’t have to tell me about young love. I know how bad that can go.”

Faith smirked as she squeezed Jennifer’s hand. “You been holding out on us, D man?”

Doyle did what he could to hide his grimace with a small smile. “My marriage didn’t end well. Neither one of us could handle the fact that I turned out to be a demon. In the end, I didn’t want to bring her down with me.” He paused, failing to hold back the tired sigh dredged up by the memory of his wife. “I really hope Harry is doing alright for herself.”

“Oh, Sweetie.” Tears built in the corners of Jennifer’s eyes as she felt the depths of her boyfriend’s remorse and lingering affection. She knew the door to his past life was well and truly closed. She could not fault the man for his entirely too human kindness and love. “The fact that you care at all makes you the finest man I have ever known.” Doyle smiled and before either he or Jennifer knew it they collapsed into each other.

Faith smirked, and in a moment was dragged away from the couple by an exasperated petite blonde. “No more goosing along Jen’s sex life, you.” Faith could only laugh as her girl pulled her away. Before her amusement could fully end the front door opened.

“What’s good, Y’all?” Gunn called out as he and the rest of the Hyperion Crew appeared in the hallway. “The good old boy is on a bus heading for Vegas as we speak.”

“Thank you, Charles.” Tara smiled as the Hyperion Crew filtered into the room. “Thank you all for everything.”

“Shoot, girl.” Rondell laughed as the last of the crew came into the room. “After everything you did for us. This ain’t nothin’.”

The young man’s words were met with a chorus of agreement all around the room. Before a full round of cheers could break out the Slayers began to corral people down the hall and into the kitchen where dozens of pizzas awaited. Music was turned on and people began to spread and mingle throughout the house. Tara sighed in relief as familiar arms wrapped around her waist.

“They’d do anything for you, Baby.” The easy assurance caused Tara to smile. The way Willow’s nose nuzzled into her neck drew a pleased sigh. “You’re their family.”

“Our family,” Tara whispered as she melted into Willow’s warm embrace. “Our true family.”

Before long the couple was floating in the middle of their living room. Swaying to the soft music filling the air. Their open display of affection drawing no more attention than a few sly smiles and knowing eye rolls. They had their home, their mission, their family, but most of all they had each other.

*****

“Well, that’s the end of that.” The bleach blond vampire scoffed into an open bottle of tequila. He sat in the driver’s seat of his stolen eighty-seven Yugo, no apparent cares or worries as he watched the ragged camper pull onto the highway. The useless redneck was heading east, into the desert. Possibly home. Possibly to Los Angeles. In either case, he was of no use to Spike. “Leave it to a sodding wanker to waste his life chasing after women he’ll never be able to keep.”

As the glowing crimson tail lights faded into the night, the vampire knew he could not depend on humans to solve his problems. If he wanted his revenge he’d have to take matters into his own hands.

“Right then!” He called out to no one in particular. “That’s enough of that. Time for good old Spike to get what’s coming to him.”

The vampire threw open the car door, empty and discarded bottles toppling out onto the pavement. He leapt to his feet. He attempted to leap at any rate. The drunken undead joined his empty bottles in an undignified heap on the ground. A dull moan came from the pile. Things were not off to a good start.

_________________
Time and Time Again


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:17 pm 
Offline
9. Gay Now
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 7:45 pm
Posts: 967
Topics: 15
Location: Beyond the orbit of Mars and accelerating...
I am half surprised that Willow didn't set anyone on fire.

We all remember that one guy...

R :flower

_________________
“All I feel is sunlight. All I hear is music.” Willow
How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


My Story: Coming Home


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:34 pm 
Offline
2. Floating Rose
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:32 pm
Posts: 35
Can I get a WOO? And a GREAT BIG HOO!!!! Thank you and Yay for the update! Great, as always. I'm never disappointed with the ways you take the very well known arc and turn it on it's axis!
If ONLY we could have seen Snyder of the TV show cower from Willow!
Hopefully I don't irritate too much when I say,....Can't WAIT for more!

_________________
[font=][font=]Strength in our arms, truth on our tongue, clarity in our heart[/font][/font]


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 12:38 am 
Offline
6. Sassy Eggs
User avatar

Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 7:19 pm
Posts: 412
Topics: 2
Hi Azirahael. Hi MotherD.

I'd like to think Tara has spent too many lifetimes working on all of Willow's issues. That includes the self esteem issues that got shown off in the show, and her tendency to lash out with magic. Setting Donald Maclay Sr on fire is always on the table. And a more angry, less restrained Willow could easily do so. But the Willow in this storyline/world is confident, secure in her worldly power and more importantly her relationships, and mature enough to know that setting a live human on fire in front of her 30 closest friends and family members is a line she probably shouldn't cross... But they haven't heard the last of Donald Maclay, and the next time he pops up there might not be 30 witnesses holding Willow back.

Glad to hear you guys still enjoy the way I've been shuffling events around and shifting the main series arcs. I've had Willow and Tara outright say that there are things that need to happen. Particularly in the Buffyverse storyline, Willow and Tara are operating off of a script they've based on all their many repeated experiences. But even with that repetition there are many ways to surprise both the characters and the audience.

I'm working on the next chapter. I'm confident it will take less time to finish than the last. The upcoming Sirens entry is on the lighter side compared to the drama in this last chapter. Plus it doesn't have any scenes that have been kicking around in my brain for over a year or two. Those set piece moments tend to ruin my writing schedule.

Act 2 is coming to a close. After Sirens there are two Buffyverse Chapters covering the events of Prom and Graduation Day. And in between them is the last Dark Ages chapter of the Arc. Azirahael, you might like that one or you might hate it. Just by skimming my notes it's going to be all about Cable and Deadpool poorly reenacting "The Departed" but as a long distance Buddy Cop movie. It might even end with a musical number and a Micheal Bay-esque explosion.

_________________
Time and Time Again


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 430 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron

W/T Love 24/7 since July 2000
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group