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

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2016 1:05 pm 
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8. Vixen
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ROFLMAO!!! :rofl :rofl

That is awesome! Go Willow! and I cant wait til they get to the roof, though that could be pretty funny.....LMAO

Looking forward to the next chapter. :flower :flower

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"Dry Heat""Penny Arcade" "Fireworks" "Promise" "I Did What Last Night?"


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 2:16 pm 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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Greetings gentle readers.

First I have to apologize for no posting last week. Some things came up and the last few chapters have felt rushed just before posting so I'm trying to move stuff around and build up more of a buffer.

That being said I loved all the feedback you guys have given me.

Hi Mysticrain. Glad the humor landed in these latest chapters.

About chapter 17, thanks for telling me. The same thing happened with chapter 14 and one or two of the reply posts after it sometime last year. I went back and edited one of my reply posts from the chapter before to add the chapter in at the bottom but now that I look the original chapter post is back up.

I'm hoping it will come back on it's own before too long but I may go back and edit it into a nearby post. I'm also considering posting this story to either Fanfiction.net or Archive of our own, but due to how wonky this thing is I'm pretty sure it will get lost in one of the crossover subdirectories on FF.net or get bogged down with a wall of superfluous description tags on AoO.

Hi Azirahael. Loved the home screen mock up.

And yes, Willow did invent the smart phone. It always seemed funny that the rest of the cast just took it for granted that she could "Encyclopedia Brown" her way through crime scene forensics and state department level hacking of a local municipality that is probably a decade away from having even half of their files online. The Mayor never struck me as the early adopter type when it came to technology that would let his less informed lackeys share info about all the cover ups he was having them do.

With that in mind and the fact that she's been around the block a few times it felt appropriate that she'd "go big" and invent the hand held version of the internet a decade ahead of schedule.

And just to round out the Hangover parody a little more clearly the new trio left the dildos on the roof. I should have probably mentioned this before hand but I'd advise against doing a google image search of "Crucifix Dildo." The first few pics will be exactly what you'd expect and then the next thousand will just hurt your soul.

And Johnathan is in for a few twists and turns. So is Andrew but I'm saving him for foil purposes later on.

Hi Zampsa.

Yeah Apple isn't getting that revenue. But you'll notice, she didn't invent iTunes. That company still has a few options. If it exists. Do we know if Apple exists in the Buffyverse proper? Was Steve Jobs confirmed as a client of Wolfram & Hart in the later seasons of Angel?

Hi Vampyregurl.

Sadly I think they handled the trip back to the roof "off camera". But the important thing is that bags full of interesting and naughty paraphernalia made their way onto the plane that flew the two gangs back home.

With that I finally finished proofing the next Marvels entry...

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Time and Time Again


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 2:24 pm 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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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 to Marvels. What's going on in Latveria you ask? Not much, just a quick stop over there before the girls are on their way to their next catastrophe.

I know the sheer amount of obscure character names are a bit much in this storyline specifically. I think I toned it down a little in this one, but there is still the long list of characters I added to one of the Spoiler drop downs at the top of the first post in this thread. If You draw a blank on an unfamiliar name just open this up in another window. Also the Jennifer is this one is Buffy and not Tara's mom. Still kicking myself for that one.

********************

Primer: Marvels

Willow = Wanda Maximoff = Scarlet Witch

Tara = Carol Danvers = Ms. Marvel

Buffy = Jennifer Walters = She-Hulk

Faith = Faith = X-23

Xander = Pietro Maximoff = Quicksilver

Anya = Jessica Drew = Spider-Woman

Giles = Vision = G.I.L.E.S. = Generated Intuitive Logistics Engine Source = Grumpy Intellectual Librarian Englishman Simulation

********************

Marvels: The Devil You Know

“Did you already pack the bathroom bag Baby?” Wanda called out to her love. The redhead stood in the middle of the master bedroom of the royal chambers of the soon to be presidential palace of Latveria. Once they left the suite of rooms it would no longer be the royal chambers. With their departure and the results of the election from the week before the handful of luxury rooms would officially become the presidential chambers.

“Already packed Sweetie.” Carol called back from the next room over. “Do we have anything left to cram into that last Quinjet?” The muscular blonde asked as she stepped into the doorway of what had been their bedroom for the last few months.

“I think it’s just down to personal items.” Wanda said as she gave the room a thorough once over. “All the dangerous stuff was shipped out weeks ago by Shield agents or Stark Industries reps. Dr. Richards disassembled Doom’s time machine himself and we personally ransacked all the magic stuff in the library. Dr. Strange should be getting the crate full of dark magic tomes, talismans and ritual fetishes any day now.”

“That’s a hell of a care package to send to a man we don’t know.” Carol remarked with a sly grin. “What do you think he’ll do once he realizes what Doom got his hands on?”

“I’m more worried that he’ll get it in his head to come after us.” Wanda admitted. The lithe redhead finished stuffing clothes into the large suitcase on their bed and looked up to her love. “I don’t want a repeat of what happened with the first few covens we met in the early days. We can’t let any half baked sorcerers break us apart.”

“That will never happen.” Carol promised as she walked up behind Wanda and wrapped her arms around her love’s waist. “I will always find you.” She swore with every ounce of devotion and passion she could offer up to the redhead in her tight embrace.

“I love you.” Wanda whispered as she leaned back into the much stronger woman.

They stood, wrapped up in the cocoon that was their love, for several minutes. Neither willing to relinquish the tender intimacy that soothed their souls. Each wishing to forestall the rather public exit they had been planning for months. But as time wore on they knew that any further delay would undo far too much of their work. Their last bag was packed and the couple quickly exited the chambers that had served as a makeshift home in the months since coming to the remote corner of Eastern Europe.

The few guards loitering in the halls saluted as the couple walked by. Far more volunteers had joined Latveria’s armed services and law enforcement than they had expected. Military and police agencies that had once consisted of nothing but robots now boasted full rosters of men and women eager to serve. Sweeping reforms had similar effects in countless other fields. The small country was all but unrecognizable, and every free citizen knew they had Wanda and Carol to thank for all that had come to pass.

“Captain Marvel, Scarlet Witch.” An eager voice called out in greeting as they entered what had once been the throne room. “I’m honored that you came.”

“We’re the ones who are honored Madam President.” Wanda said with a smile and a polite bow as Carol saluted. “The first democratically elected president in a nation’s history. So exciting!”

“Well we have the two of you to thank for this day.” The newly elected official said as she rose from the presidential desk that stood where the throne once had. “Our people owe you both a debt of gratitude we may never be able to repay.”

“No need to worry about any of that.” Wanda assured the woman with a slight wave of her hands. “Just continue what we started here. Live your lives, be good to each other. That’s all we could ever ask for.”

“Of course.” The president said with a slight bow of her own. An aide walked up to the side of her desk and muttered something quietly. The president smiled before looking back to the two witches. “We’re just about ready to begin the ceremony. I’m honored that you chose to participate in the inauguration? I’m sure you’re both eager to return to your home.”

“We are, but this is important and the honor is ours.” Carol assured the anxious woman.

With newly uplifted spirits Wanda and Carol followed the first president of Latveria out onto the balcony. The three women were greeted by one of the most senior judges to have been liberated from Doom’s prison months ago and the hundreds of people cheering from the town square below the newly renamed presidential balcony. Camera crews from news outlets across the small nation as well as foreign correspondents from around the world looked up to the balcony and the historic event that would soon take place upon it.

Carol and Wanda’s eyes met. They could each feel the undeniable pride growing in the heart of their lover. What had started out as nothing more than simply lashing out in vengeance against an overeager foe had turned into something magnificent. Though there had been many obstacles along their journey to this day they both knew it had all been worth it. Wanda and Carol clasped hands as the woman standing beside them was sworn into office. They could not foretell how their return to the states would be received. Nor did they care. For they had each other and nothing else mattered.

********************

“And there goes any chance we had of partying in that big ass castle again.” Jamie said as he and many of his classmates watched the inauguration on the large display screen in the school lounge.

“It was fun while it lasted.” Alex muttered with a sigh.

“Like either of you two dingbats were ever getting another invite after the mess you made in the kitchens.” Clarice shot back as she sat in Steve’s lap.

“To be fair Stark’s bodyguard started it.” Alex tried to pass blame to no avail.

“And from what I hear Wanda and Carol had to finish it.” Jennifer said as she and Faith got up from the couch on the other side of the large screen. “We should really get packed and ready for the trip back to the city Steve.”

“Agreed.” The super soldier nodded as he stood up from the couch with Clarice still in his arms.

“No need to rush.” The pink girl said as her boyfriend carried her out of the room. “I’ll port us there before you even know it.”

“I can’t believe you guys are leaving us already.” Faith grumbled as she walked alongside her girlfriend. “I was just getting used to having ya around all the time.”

“I’ll be back before you know it.” Jennifer said in as convincing a tone as she could muster. “What with all the work I’m doing to get this school’s accreditation status renewed and tax exempt status updated I’ll be back before you know it.”

“Your law firm alright with all this pro bono work you got going on here?” Faith asked in a slightly worried tone. She couldn’t help but detect the slight flinch as her girl processed the question.

“I’m not exactly telling them all the stuff I’m doing for you guys.” Jennifer said.

Faith couldn’t help but freeze up at the admission. “What? Why not?”

“The last time I was in the office I overheard two of the partners complaining about a case that involved someone with powers.” Jennifer admitted as she led them into Faith’s room. “They started arguing about who was more of a menace. Inhumans or, well…”

“Us.” Faith said as she realized where the conversation had to be going. “Figures. They just couldn’t let all the good vibes from defeating the Sentinels last.”

“I’m looking into other firms.” Jennifer said as she saw her girl’s anger begin to build. “I’ve had some offers in the past. I’m not saying I’ve seen the perfect welcome wagon, but I’m also not saying none of the old offers jumped out at me.”

“If none of that works out do you think you could move in here with us?” Faith asked in an almost too hopeful voice.

“Honey.” Jennifer began only to bite back her words as she saw the crushing disappointment in her girl’s expressive brown eyes. “I love being a lawyer. I like helping people with the law. If I can’t help the people I care about most at the firm I’m with now then I’ll just have to go find a firm where the partners don’t have their heads up their own butts. If they don’t want me fighting for you and your school then they don’t deserve all the work I’ve done for them.”

“You’d do all that for me?” Faith asked in a heartbreakingly timid voice.

“I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do and it’s what I care about.” Jennifer told the young brunette. “Doing it for you is just a nice bonus. Even if it means I can’t live with you all the time right now.”

“I love you Babe.” Faith said as she pulled her girl into her arms. Before either of them could grow too comfortable in their embrace an almost giddy grin came over Faith’s face. “Come on. I have something to give ya before ya pack up.”

“You got me something?” Jennifer asked her girl as an equally giddy expression overtook her own face. “Like a present? Oh Honey, you didn’t have to.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know.” Faith muttered as she led the petite blonde over to her dresser. “It’s not much. I just, I wanted you to have something here to show you how much ya mean to me.”

The brunette reached for the top drawer of the long dresser that ran along her bedroom wall. Jennifer looked at her girl with a speculative frown before looking down to find her standing beside an empty drawer.

“Honey?” Jennifer asked as she looked back and forth between the open drawer and the young woman she loved. “Is this, you didn’t…”

“Is it too much?” Faith asked as a new, almost terrified, grimace worked its way over her features. “Is it not enough? I’m sorry Babe. I just. You cleared out half your closet back at the tower for me and I hardly put anything in there. I mean I know you got way more clothes than me and I love how ya always got that fashion thing down tight. I mean I can clear out another couple drawers if ya want. Anything to make this place feel more homey.”

As the young woman proceeded to babble the lawyer’s smile grew all the brighter. Before Faith could talk herself in ever more daunting circles Jennifer walked up and captured the brunette’s lips with her own. Moments dragged on as Jennifer’s lips drove all doubt form Faith’s mind. After the last remnants of fear were all but a distant memory and before the clash of lips and tongues could grow too heated to be stopped Jennifer broke away from her girl.

Faith staggered at the sudden loss. She blinked several times before looking up to find her girl smiling back at her. “I done good?” She asked with a tentative smile of her own.

“Yes Honey.” Jennifer assured the relieved brunette. “You done good.” She placed one more loving peck on Faith’s nose before turning back to the empty drawer that was now her own. Faith let out a breath she hadn’t known she was holding. Relief ran through her body and mixed with more than a little joy at how well her gift was received.

In what seemed like no time at all Jennifer had completely unpacked her half packed suitcase and filled her new drawer to the brim. She repacked her bag with the few files she had brought along for the trip and the one business suit she had taken in case of emergencies. With the much lighter load zipped up inside her suitcase Jennifer turned back to her girl and smiled anew.

“All ready Honey.” The petite blonde said as she walked up to the brunette and pulled her into yet another tight embrace. “Thank you for the drawer.” She whispered just as she leaned in to kiss her girl. “It’s the most thoughtful thing anyone has ever gotten me.”

“I aim to please Babe.” Faith whispered right back as their lips clashed once more. Faith couldn’t help but lose herself as she and Jennifer melded together. Time stood still for the couple as love blossomed in their hearts. Neither wanted their time together to end. Though they both knew it would far too soon.

“Hey you guys decent in there?” A familiar voice called out from the other side of the closed bedroom door. Loud knocking put an end to the intimate reprieve Jennifer and Faith had fallen into.

With a sigh of disappointment and a harsh growl Faith turned from her girl and glared at the closed door. “You are so gonna get it Pinkie Pie.” The brunette threw open her door to find the young teleporter and her much older soldier boy standing just outside.

“Well excuse me for wanting to get this donkey show on the road.” Clarice snapped back as Faith opened the door. “The sooner we get our honeys to the tower the sooner we can get back to last minute snuggles before classes start up on Monday.”

“Classes start on Tuesday.” A thick Russian accent interrupted the girls as its tall, muscular owner came walking down the hall. “Is federal holiday with three day weekend. The Professor is giving us the time for quiet reflection and personal improvement.”

“That sounds good.” Steve said as he turned to the Russian and reached out with one hand. “It was great spending time with you Piotr.”

“Likewise grandpapa.” Piotr said as he shook his long lost grandfather’s hand. “The Professor wished me to be reminding you that we are always being the welcoming of your visits in the future. The same for you Ms. Walters.”

“Thank you Piotr.” Jennifer said as she joined them in the hallway. “Please tell the Professor I had a wonderful time and not to worry about the files he gave me. Everything will be ready when he needs it.”

“Da, is good to be hearing this.” Piotr agreed as he bowed to the lawyer. The large Russian then turned to the two students and gave them a far too amused smile. “I am also to be telling you girls to enjoy your weekend in the great apple. The Professor expects you back in class on Tuesday.”

“Pretty sure that’s the Big Apple Pete.” Faith said as Clarice squealed in delight. The pink girl leapt into her boyfriend’s arms. Steve was only too thrilled to catch her and spin around with a matching delighted cheer of his own. Faith turned back to her girl and caught the petite blonde grinning along with the others. There was no mistaking the sheer joy brought on by the news.

Clarice reigned in her celebrating to the point that it was a little more than an ear to ear grin and a spring in her step. Without giving anyone a chance to take back the promised leave the brightly colored girl opened a portal to the Avengers’ penthouse in Stark Tower. She leapt through, practically dragging Steve by the arm, and let out a loud cheer that startled Pietro and Jessica from their intimate nest of blankets on the couch across the lounge. Jennifer and Faith shared a look that held equal parts longing and amusement as they stepped through the portal. With the two couples safely through the circle of radiant pink light it began to shrink.

Piotr gave them one last cheerful farewell before the hole in space snapped shut and left him alone in the halls of the Xavier mansion. He smiled to himself as he turned to head towards his own bedroom. The oversized Russian couldn’t help but feel happy for his grandfather, the lawyer and the two students they had fallen in love with. No matter how odd their strange double date visits had seemed at first the presence of the two Avengers had become a welcome addition to the chaos around the institute. None could fault their love in light of all the good both Jennifer and Steve were doing for their cause.

Piotr chuckled to himself as he realized Faith and Clarice’s relationships may have done more to further the Professor’s dreams of racial harmony than any of the secret battles his students had fought. Preventing multiple terror attacks did little to sway public opinion in their favor when compared to the overwhelming media shift that had happened when Steve and Hank shook hands for the cameras months ago. And if Jennifer’s legal efforts paid off like the Professor hoped they would then the world was in for another shift that would hopefully save countless lives.

Piotr entered his room and quickly collapsed onto his bed. He reached for his nightstand and picked up the worn copy of Animal Farm Hank had leant him. With any luck he could work his way through another chapter before Kitty came to find him.

********************

“Are you sure this is the place Matt?” The lawyer asked his partner as they stood outside the entrance to the world famous skyscraper.

“This is the address Faith gave us Foggy.” Matt Murdock said as he stood there grinning at his closest friend. “She said we should meet her and Jen here to catch up.”

“And this doesn’t seem the least bit weird to you?” Foggy grumbled in as quiet a tone as he could. “This is Stark Tower. Stark Fucking Tower! What are Jen and our barely legal client doing here? What is Jen doing dating a teenager anyway?”

“She makes her happy.” Matt told the other lawyer. “Jen needed something in her life and it just turned out to be Faith. You remember what she used to be like in law school. What she’s been like since her friend went into that coma.”

“Yeah, I remember.” Foggy let out with an annoyed sigh. “But this is still messed up. What if Faith’s parents get involved? They could ruin her career, her life. Jen could lose her license over something like this. You can’t tell me that some teenager is worth our friend getting disbarred.”

“Something tells me that Faith’s parents haven’t reacted too badly.” Matt said with the sly grin that Foggy recognized immediately.

“You know something!” Foggy accused his partner. “Something,” he looked around them nervously, making sure no one walking nearby was listening too closely, “something Daredevil related. What’s going on Matt? What is Jen doing?”

“Let’s just say that Faith isn’t a normal teenager.” Matt said as he led Foggy into the world famous building. They walked up to the security counter but before the two lawyers could even speak to the men behind the counter a familiar voice called out to them.

“Yo Double D, Foggybear!” Faith hollered as she ran up to greet her lawyers. “Bout time you boys made it. Jen was starting to think ya got lost.”

“Hello Faith.” Matt said with a smile and a slight nod of his head. “It took me a while but I finally convinced Foggy that you didn’t give us a fake address.”

“Ha, classic.” Faith laughed as she slapped Foggy on the shoulder before turning back to the security guards behind the front desk. “Yo Homeslice, these two dingbats are with me. Got some serious lawyerin’ I need them to do.”

To Foggy’s surprise the guards nodded and smiled at the young woman’s outlandish remark and waved them through. Faith led the lawyers around a corner away from the main cluster of elevators at the rear of the main lobby to a door with a security key card scanner. She pulled out a red and white card and waved it in front of the scanner. The door opened to reveal a long corridor that led away from the main lobby. Once inside Faith led them through the hall to an open loading dock that was connected to a large underground parking deck.

Foggy let out an appreciative whistle as he practically gawked at the long row of high end and outlandishly expensive sports cars that lined one entire wall of the parking deck. “Oh my god.”

“Yeah Moneybags really likes his toys.” Faith said as she noticed Foggy’s dumbstruck look. “Most of the rest of the team sticks to those motorcycles along the other wall. Or they borrow one of those black ops SUV’s over there.” She said while gesturing to the other vehicles that filled the open chamber.

Across from the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, the lone Rolls Royce and dozens of other overpriced vehicles were a row of a dozen understated black motorcycles and a trio of larger black SUV’s. Just past the SUV’s was an odd addition to the motor pool. A mint green fifty nine two door Dodge was sitting just past the government issue SUV’s. Foggy did a double take as he noticed the classic car that bordered on ancient at this point.

“That’s Jen’s car!” Foggy cried out as he all but ran up to it. “Matt, this is Jen’s car! What is Jen’s car doing here?”

“Well she does live here ya know.” Faith admitted as she eyed the man with a curious and skeptical frown. “How you know that’s my girl’s car anyway?” Matt couldn’t help but smile at the overtly possessive tone in Faith’s voice when she mentioned her girl.

“It’s the same car she had in college.” Foggy said as he peered in the windows of the older green car. “She said it was a hand me down from her uncle of something.”

“It’s good to know that Jen still hangs onto the things that mean the most to her.” Matt said as he tried to draw Foggy’s attention back to their young host. “So you’re taking us up to see Jen Faith?”

“Yeah.” Faith said in a distracted voice as she watched Foggy walk back over to them. “Yeah, gotta introduce my snazzy legal team to the gang.”

“I knew she was in a gang!” Foggy said in a tone that hopefully conveyed enough humor to Faith. “So is Jen in this gang too? Did you guys pledge at the same time, because Jen said sororities weren’t her thing back in law school. Oh, is there a secret handshake?”

“Nah, no handshake.” Faith said as she led the lawyers back to a large service elevator by the loading dock. She pulled out the red and white card again and waved it over another scanner before holding it up just long enough for Foggy to get a better glance at the large “A” emblazoned on the surface. “Got these fancy membership cards though.”

Matt smirked as Faith led them into the elevator. He could already tell what was about to happen. He knew who they were really there to meet. The idea of meeting the famous group in their own clubhouse was turning out far more entertaining than he had thought it would before Faith started dropping overt hints.

“I can’t wait.” Matt said as he gave Faith a sly smile. His senses just barely picked up the matching smile she gave him in return.

********************

“So Faith, I gotta ask.” Foggy began as the door of the elevator opened. “Your whole leather getup, are you a biker? A dominatrix? One of those extra naughty school girls I hear awful and misleading things about?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know Foggybear.” Faith replied with a sly grin that unsettled the blond lawyer to no end.

“I can’t believe Jennifer got you to use that nick name too.” The man grumbled as his partner laughed.

“What can I say?” Faith asked with an even more sinister expression. “My girl is a hell of a story teller.”

“Story?” Foggy exclaimed in panic as he followed Matt and Faith out of the elevator. “Oh no, she told you that story didn’t she!”

“Don’t worry big guy.” Faith said as she led the men to the main lounge of the Avengers’ penthouse suite. “Lots of peeps do stupid shit during rush week.”

“And some of them even do it without the teddy bear and all those extra bottles of lube and honey you went through.” Jennifer said as she walked up to the trio. The petite blonde slipped into her girl’s arms and gave the brunette a brief kiss. “Hi Honey.”

“Oh god Jen, I can’t believe you told your jailbait about that.” Foggy moaned as he buried his head in his hands.

“She’s not jailbait!” Jennifer snapped before reigning in her emotions. “Just be thankful she’s agreed to stick with just that nickname when we’re talking to you Foggybear.” She added before turning to her other friend from law school. “Hi Matt. Good to see you again.”

“Likewise Jen.” The blind lawyer assured his friend as he clutched his white stick. “So this is the mysterious rent controlled place you told us about.”

“Something like that.” Jen said as she and Faith led the two men into the wide open space that made up the central lounge of the Avengers’ luxury penthouse. Foggy stopped in his tracks as the multi level space came into view.

The man gawked at the huge glass laboratory suspended overhead above the platform they stood on. The far wall was one massive window that allowed anyone to look out over the city. Along that clear surface were three tiers of walkways that circled the open room, each with couches, chairs and coffee tables spread out sporadically. To either side of the platform they stood on a pair of reinforced metal and Lucite staircases led down to a common area with a ring of couches and loveseats around another designer coffee table. Off to one side was one of the largest private wet bars the lawyer had ever seen.

“Oh my god.” Foggy whispered. “Oh my god Jen, how long have you been sleeping with Stark and if you’re not can I?”

Faith and Matt let out loud bursts of laughter as Jennifer scowled at the other lawyer. “I am not fucking Tony Stark!” Jennifer shouted.

“You better not be.” A tall redhead with blonde highlights said as she walked up to the group. “Who are your friends Jen?”

“Pepper, please tell this doofus I am not sleeping with your fiancé.” Jennifer growled as Faith continued to laugh. “Honey, stop laughing about this.” The petite blonde muttered quietly.

“I can’t help it.” Faith wheezed. “You and Moneybags.” She cackled again. “Like he could handle you in the sack. It’d be death by snu snu!”

Jennifer blushed a deep shade of red as the most confused looks came over Foggy and Matt’s faces. “Faith!” The petite blonde muttered in an agitated whisper as she fought for any excuse to change the subject. “So what brings you guys to this part of town?” She asked when she finally turned back to the other lawyers.

“Faith thought we’d get a kick out of touring your new place.” Matt said as he began to tilt his head to the side ever so slightly. “Would any of your lovely roommates care to guide me around before Faith shows me to the private boxing ring?”

“I’ll do it.” A gorgeous redhead volunteered as she joined the group. She walked up to Foggy and Matt with a coy little smirk before slipping her arm through Matt’s.

“Thanks Natasha.” Jennifer said as the two vanished down a side hallway. “I see Matt is still working the whole wounded handsome duck angle you guys wore out in college.”

“Oh don’t even get me started on all the gorgeous women Matt strings along before his Catholic guilt trip sabotages everything.” Foggy complained in annoyance before turning back to Pepper and nudging her shoulder with a playful wink. “Men! Am I right?”

The redheaded business woman could only laugh as Foggy and Jennifer failed to suppress wide grins. “Oh you don’t have to tell me.” Pepper replied with a smile and a light laugh. “Just wait till you meet Tony.” Pepper smoothly guided Foggy down one of the nearby staircases to the lounge where Steve, Jessica and Pietro were waiting with curious and amused expression. Foggy’s eyes widened in recognition as he took in Pietro’s stark white hair. He looked around the room to confirm his suspicions and all but let out a gasp as a young woman with bright pink skin and hair slipped down another side hallway. He had seen the papers and easily recognized the girl that saved New York and Captain America from the second invasion. The man spared one last curious glance back at a very worried Jennifer before putting on a smile and greeting the heroes she lived with. He knew he’d have to get her to fess up with the story of how she became the personal live in attorney of the Avengers.

“Faith!” Jennifer growled in a hushed voice as she grabbed her girl’s arm. “What were you thinking?”

“It will be alright Babe.” Faith assured her girl.

“I can’t believe you brought them here!” Jennifer huffed in quiet indignation. “I’m not ready for the whole freaking world to know about my messed up double life!”

“It will all be alright.” Faith assured again as she took Jennifer in her arms. “Trust me. Your old boyfriends aren’t run of the mill civilians. You are gonna love this once ya get in on the joke. Trust me.”

And Jennifer realized she had no choice. She did trust Faith. Once she thought about it she realized she even trusted Matt and Foggy. With a sigh Jennifer turned and walked down to the lounge with her girl. She knew that by the end of the day she would be sharing far too many secrets with their guests.

********************

“So you’ve known Jen for a while?” Natasha asked as she led the blind lawyer through the kitchen and dining area of the oversized penthouse suite.

“Since college.” Matt replied. “The three of us used to be inseparable, until…”

“Until what?” Natasha couldn’t help but prod him on a little.

“I started dating someone who wasn’t what she appeared to be. Then just after graduation Foggy and I got offers to apprentice at one firm while Jen went to another. We struck out on our own about the same time one of Jen’s friends went into a coma. Life just pulled us in different directions.”

“That’s rough.” Natasha said as she kept a thumb on his wrist. So far the man hadn’t lied to her. “But still you all ended up here. And you said Faith was the one who suggested this little get together?”

“Of course Ms. Romanoff.” Matt said with a sly grin. “I’d never try to trick her into giving us full access to the headquarters of the Avengers.”

“I find that difficult to believe.” She said. “What tipped my hand?”

“I’ve heard the recordings of your testimony after the fall of Shield. You have a lovely voice.” Matt told her in an almost seductive tone that amused the hardened Russian spy. “Also the thing you’re doing right now where you use my pulse as a lie detector is a dead giveaway.”

“Very good.” Natasha said with a mix of amusement and respect. “I can tell that Jennifer made the right call using you to bail Faith out of trouble. Got any other tricks you wanna share?”

“Oh, I might have one or two.” Matt said as the spy led him by the library. “Maybe once we get to the gym you and your friends will get a full demonstration.”

********************

“I gotta say Jen, I was not expecting to find out that you had a top secret spot on the Avengers’ legal team.” Foggy said as he was introduced to all the new faces around the lounge.

“And what makes you think I’m not a member?” Jen rolled her eyes at the other lawyer as Faith stifled a chuckle into the side of her neck.

“The lack of blondes your height in all the press photos.” Foggy replied as he sipped from the drink Pietro had made him. “I mean it’s kinda easy to tell that Pietro here is the guy with snow white hair and that silver and blue onesie. Plus I’m pretty sure Steve here has Captain America’s chiseled jaw.” He paused to glance over his shoulder at the hallway he had seen Clarice slip down. “Also the pink girl from the newspapers is throwing him some serious puppy dog eyes.”

“You can come out Pinkie Pie.” Faith called to her classmate as Jennifer let out an indignant. “What do you mean by my height? How do you know I’m not Captain Marvel?”

“Captain Marvel!” Foggy all but shouted as he began to laugh. “Oh that’s good.”

“What’s so funny?” Jennifer growled as the others around her started to laugh along with the lawyer.

“Jen, I love you.” Foggy said as he wiped a few joyful tears from his eyes. “But you are a good ten inches shorter and three cup sizes smaller than the flying babe in the black swimsuit.”

Jennifer fumed as Foggy and the others laughed at her expense. A moment later Clarice came out and slipped into Steve’s lap. “Hi Foggy, I’m Clarice.” She told the lawyer as Steve’s arms slipped around her waist. Foggy gave the pink girl a polite wave before turning back to the petite blonde he met in college.

“So Jen, feel free to slap me for saying this but what are you going to do if Faith’s parents don’t want her dating older women?” He asked with genuine concern in his voice. Pietro and Jessica barely stifled their own laughter as Clarice rolled her eyes. Steve let a grin play across his face as Pepper took a sip from her drink.

“Her father gave me his blessing.” Jennifer said after taking a moment to breath. Her strained tone belied just how nervous the topic made her.

“And the mom?” Foggy asked as he glanced to Faith.

“Don’t got one of those.” Faith told him with a straight face. “I was grown in a giant glass tube.”

“Do what now?” Foggy asked as he looked back and forth between the two women. The Avengers sitting around the lounge couldn’t hold back their laughter. The lawyer was all too confused as it became apparent that everyone was in on something he simply wasn’t.

“This is probably going to be a long story.” Jennifer muttered as she brought a palm up to her forehead. Before she could go any further Faith jumped up from her lap and motioned for everyone to do the same.

“Before we get into any of that we got something to show ya’ll.” Faith called out as she sprinted from the lounge. “Everyone get down to the gym. This is gonna be a hell of a show.”

“Well she’s got me convinced.” Pietro said and he and Jessica got up. The others did the same until Jennifer and Foggy were all that was left. With a sigh the lawyers looked to one another.

“I love her Foggy.” Jennifer admitted.

“I get that.” Foggy said as he saw the mixture of adoration and fear in his friend’s eyes. “From what Matt said she’s a hell of a girl. I’m just worried about my friend is all.”

“I know.” Jennifer said as she took in the concern the other lawyer had for her. “Thanks for that by the way.”

“No problem.” He said as they stood up and walked side by side out of the lounge. Neither knew just how much of a spectacle Faith and Matt had in store for them.

********************

“So what’s going on?” Tony said as Pepper dragged him over to the bar along one side of the Avengers’ gym. Faith was already dressed in tight black sweat pants and a matching sports bra. The young woman bounced on the balls of her feet as she moved around the regulation size boxing ring. “Is Faith taking someone to church?” He asked with an amused chuckle.

“Oh I think Matt’s gonna give her a run for her money.” Foggy said as he stood behind the bar and mixed drinks for the world famous billionaire.

“This I gotta see.” Logan said as he sat in one of the bar stools.

“I’m not sure I see the point in this exercise.” Ororo said as she and Hank took up stools by Logan.

“Wow.” Foggy said as he looked around the cluster of superheroes at the bar. “I was not expecting to get this star struck when I woke up this morning.”

“Get used to it Foggybear.” Faith called out as she hoped out of the ring and ran over to Jennifer who was standing beside a rack or training weapons. “And Double D is a lot scrappier than you guys give him credit for.”

“He’s had some kind of training.” Natasha said as she rejoined the group and took a place along the far wall beside Steve, Clarice, Pietro and Jessica. “He knew I was gauging his pulse to see if he was lying.”

“Yeah but he’s a blind guy.” Tony said as he looked back to Foggy. “How often does he get in some serious hand holding with strange women? Getting felt up by Natasha had to be an experience.” He finished with a mischievous grin as the Russian glared.

“Oh you would not believe how many hot women throw themselves at his Mr. Magoo shtick.” Foggy laughed as he continued to play with the bottles and mixing cups behind the bar. “If he wasn’t so unbelievably Catholic he would have been hit with at least a dozen paternity suits by now.”

“Plus he has that thing for crazy chicks.” Jennifer added.

“Elektra was not crazy.” Matt said as he walked out of the nearby locker room. He was dressed in loose gym shorts and a gray tank top that barely covered his well defined muscles. As he heard a slight cough from Foggy he knew he had to amend his statement. “Well okay, maybe she was a bad example.” He admitted. Before the blind lawyer could take another step he sniffed the air and tilted his head to one side. A smirk spread across his face as he walked right up to Logan. “You must be Faith’s father.” Matt said as he extended his hand. “I’m Matt Murdock. My partner, Franklin Nelson, and I are happy to have her as a client.”

“Seriously? He’s her dad?” Foggy asked in a newly incredulous voice. “How is that even… He doesn’t look any older than us.” Logan smirked and shook the lawyer’s hand before glancing over his shoulder to the brunette across the room.

“Already told ya Foggybear! I was grown in a tube!” Faith called out to the lawyer behind the bar. “Time to put up ya dukes Double D.” She reached over to the rack of weapons and pulled out four long wooden fighting batons. She tossed two to Matt who spun and caught them with ease. The blind lawyer smiled as he put them in one hand and then reached up with the other to remove his sunglasses. With a smirk he put them down on the surface of the bar and turned back to the boxing ring.

The assembles heroes watched in surprise and awe as Faith and Matt leapt into the ring. The two circled for a moment with their batons raised in matching defensive stances. A beat passed in silence. Faith let out a breath and charged. Much of the crowd was stunned to see the sightless man charge as well. They met in the center of the ring with a flurry of blows. Wood slammed against wood and Matt deflected every strike from Faith.

“Oh my god!” Jennifer said as the rest of the Avengers took a much closer look at the blind man. “How…” Jennifer muttered before turning to Foggy. “Is he even blind?”

“I asked the same thing!” Foggy called out as the battle intensified. “Yeah apparently he is, but he can still more of less see everything going on around him. He called it a world on fire of something just as ridiculous.” Foggy looked away from Jen to see how Matt was doing against Faith. He couldn’t help but chuckle as his best friend and their new client put on a show. “Kick her ass Matt!” Foggy cheered with a smile.

“Watch it Bub.” Logan growled before letting out a much more playful smirk. “Duck and weave kiddo!” He called out to his daughter.

Foggy smiled at the slight fatherly tone in the man’s voice. He decided to share an abridged version of what Matt had shared with him. “So anyway, way back when he was a kid Matt was walking home and he pushed an old ass man out of the way of a traffic accident. He got some toxic sludge in his eyes, went blind and all of a sudden he can hear a fly sneeze from two miles away and feel the vibrations from all the other people walking around all the other floors of any building he’s in.”

“What? Really?” Jennifer asked as she looked back to Matt and Faith. To her surprise the fight had escalated rapidly.

Neither opponent gave any ground as the loud cracks of batons clashing filled the gym. The flurry of blows sped up until an opening in both Faith’s and Matt’s defense was finally revealed. Half their audience let out a gasp as Matt brought his weapons down on Faith’s shoulders at the exact same time as Faith slammed her weapons into Matt’s lower abdominal muscles. Both were stunned and fell back into a crouching position as they faced one another.

“Draw?” Matt asked the girl.

“Draw.” Faith agreed as she stood up and walked over to the side of the ring where Jennifer waited for her.

“Matt, what the hell?” Foggy called out. “You could have killed her with that last hit!”

“Ha, not likely Bub.” Logan grunted with an amused laugh.

“Did you seriously not fill Foggy in?” Faith asked as she looked back to her lawyer.

“Foggy, she has a metal skeleton and super fast healing.” Matt told his partner.

“Also a nice set of these.” Logan said as he extended the claws in his right fist so that the shocked lawyer could see them clearly. “Nah Bub, the kid is just fine. The real question is what’s up with your boy there that let him keep up with her.”

“Right yeah oaky.” Foggy said as he looked around the room at all the now curious and interested heroes. “Okay why not. Hey Jen, watch Matt. He just hates it when I call him this.”

“Call him what?” Tony said as he looked back and forth between the lawyers.

“Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen!” Foggy announced while raising his glass.

“Holy crap Murdock!” Jennifer shouted as she broke away from Faith’s embrace to stare at the blind man. “You’re Daredevil?”

“Seems that way.” Matt replied as he gave the Avengers a little bow. “So now that you’ve seen my parlor trick I’m curious Jen. What’s your thing?”

“Oh you are gonna love this.” Faith muttered as she pulled herself against Jennifer’s back. “Show ‘em what ya got babe.”

“Yeah, yeah okay.” Jennifer muttered. “Let me go change into something more stretchy first though. I’d hate to ruin these pants.”

As Jennifer left the room Foggy noticed the amused smiles all around. He couldn’t help but question the odd statement. “Stretchy?” Laughter broke out and did little to ease the lawyer’s nerves.

********************

“And we’re docked with Avengers tower.” Carol said as she flew the Quinjet into the hangar built into the side of the skyscraper. “I wonder where everyone is. There was no response when I radioed ahead.”

“Maybe they’re all sleeping off whatever party they had while we were gone.” Wanda guessed as the rear hatch of the Quinjet opened. “Giles, how about you help us take a few of these crates to one of the labs before we all go looking for the rest of the team.”

“Of course dear girl.” Giles said as he lifted two massive crates weighing several hundred pounds each. The robot floated out of the jet with far too much ease considering the cumbersome burden in his hands.

“He’s so helpful.” Carol said as she pulled Wanda into her arms. “Sure can’t we just retreat to our room and celebrate our homecoming in private?”

“I’d love to Baby.” Wanda said as she luxuriated in the arms of her always. “But the others will want to see us.”

“I guess we could do the responsible thing and say hi.” Carol admitted with a sarcastic huff. At the sight of the pout Wanda couldn’t help but pull her love into a kiss. Several minutes later the witches finally exited the Quinjet. The conversation they walked in on once they reached the gym was just about the last thing they expected upon their return to the states.

********************

“No, yeah.” Faith said as she, Matt and Foggy stood by the boxing ring. “I’m only like two years old.”

“Two years!” Foggy shouted as Matt’s mouth fell open.

“Well, I guess it’s closer to a year and eight months.” Faith added as she thought it over. “Precocious little scamp ain’t I?”

“I think it goes well beyond precocious at this point child.” Ororo said as she and Pepper sat by the bar with Tony and Hank.

“The stunt in the mansion radio room is proof of that.” Jessica said with a suggestive waggling of her eyebrows that only caused Faith to glare.

“Don’t even bring that up.” Faith ordered. “I only just got my Babe to forgive me for that mess last week.”

“And papa Logan over there is okay with all this?” Matt asked with a curious frown.

“If the absolute worst thing she gets into is a lawyer willing to do anything for her then Faith is doin’ alright.” Logan said as he finished his beer. “Besides, it ain’t like one of ‘em is gonna get knocked up and have to drop out of school the week before prom.”

“Does the Institute even have Prom?” Steve asked as he and Clarice came up to stand beside Faith.

“It’s more like an end of the semester punch social thing.” Clarice said as she tucked herself under one of Steve’s muscular arms. “Wanna come to the next one Baby?”

“Of course Honey.” Steve replied as he placed a soft kiss on Clarice’s forehead.

“And it ain’t like they got that much of an age difference between them.” Logan added as he looked from Steve and Clarice to the lawyers. “Hell, the last serious thing I had, the age gap between us was about fifty years more than the one between those two.” He finished with a casually dismissive wave to the other one of his students in the room and the man he fought beside in World War Two.

“Do what now?” Foggy said as he looked back to Faith’s father.

“Relax Bub.” Logan said as he leaned against the boxing ring. “Super healing means I don’t age right. I’m old as hell.”

“How old?” Matt asked.

“When Logan and I first met in the War he told me a story about him and his girlfriend fleeing Canada to join the gold rush.” Steve chimed in, drawing shocked looks from the others around them.

“So you can see how I’m not tryin’ to talk Faith into dating kids her own age.” Logan said as he walked over to the bar and pulled out another beer. “At least she’s not going after one of the boys in her class. Those three got some serious growin’ up to do.”

“And the girls in her class?” Foggy asked as he tried to avoid glancing over to Clarice.

“Oh please!” Logan dismissed with a laugh as he took a swig and rejoined the group by the boxing ring. “None of them would go for Faith. Aside from the one on Steve’s arm here we’ve got a girl that is head over heels for one of the younger student teachers there, a literal ghost, and a girl that doesn’t let anyone get a peek under her veil.”

“Veil?” Foggy asked in confusion.

“One of the students is Islamic.” Matt filled in for his friend.

“We’re pretty sure she identifies as Asexual too.” Hank added.

“Young Sooraya has yet to show any interest in intimate relations of any kind.” Ororo said in a much more reserved voice.

“Good for her.” Matt said before tilting his head to the side. He smiled while turning to face Jennifer as the petite blonde returned from the locker room.

“Okay I’m ready for show and tell.” Jennifer said as she walked up to stand beside Faith. The petite blonde was dressed in matching tight fitting workout shorts and a tank top. She faced Foggy and Matt with a determined expression. “Try not to scream like little girls when you see what I can do.”

“What can you do?” Foggy asked. The lawyer grew silent as he watched Jennifer’s eyes turn green. He failed to notice as Matt staggered slightly and grasped the side of the boxing ring. The others kept their eyes on Jennifer while Logan pushed a bucket from the ring closer to the blind lawyer.

Jennifer’s newly green eyes bored their way into Foggy in a way the man had never realized was even possible. He watched with curiosity that quickly gave way to shock and then terror as the body of his old college friend rippled with muscles and shifted to a dark green shade. Jennifer grew at least three feet taller as her stance widened to compensate for bulging biceps and thighs. Her straight, medium length, blonde hair grew curly, turning a deep shade of forest green as it cascaded down her broad shoulders and taught back muscles.

She hulk smirked down at Foggy for a moment before all eyes shot to Matt. The blind man’s face was buried in the metal bucket beside the boxing ring as he heaved and choked on his own bile. Logan rubbed slow circles on Matt’s back as he continued to vomit while rocking back and forth on his knees.

“There, there.” Logan said in a surprisingly soothing tone as the lawyer suffered. “It takes some getting used to.”

“Oh god Matt, what’s wrong?” She Hulk asked. She couldn’t imagine what had struck her old friend so suddenly.

“Wow.” Foggy whispered as he looked up as the tower of green muscle. It was another moment before he could pull his eyes away and refocus on Matt. “Matt buddy, what’s wrong?”

“Jen…” The pained man wheezed in between heaves. “What the hell did you just do? I can’t even…” His head was back in the bucket as the rest of the Avengers just watched in confusion.

“The first time is always the hardest.” Logan said as he knelt beside the fallen lawyer.

“What’s going on?” Faith asked her father.

“I’m surprised you don’t notice it Kiddo.” Logan said as he spared a moment to look up to Faith. “Not as surprised as I was that you started dating her, but still.”

“What are you talking a…” Faith stopped her question short as she realized what was going on. What her enhanced senses should have been able to detect but couldn’t. “Babe change back.”

“What?” Jennifer asked as she looked back and forth between her girl and her two friends on the floor. “Okay, I don’t know what that has to do with anything but fine whatever.” A moment later She Hulk was humming to herself. Her breathing evened out as she began to shrink.

“Okay, done.” Jennifer said as she returned to normal. “Now will someone explain just what happened?”

“Oh god that was horrible.” Matt muttered as he pulled his head out of the bucket. “I don’t even know how to describe the smell.”

“Toxic.” Logan said with a knowing sigh.

“All my senses were overwhelmed by that horrible…” Matt began to explain before tilting his head up to Jennifer with genuine concern written on his face. “Jen, what the hell is wrong with you?”

“Nothing is wrong with me.” Jennifer said only to glare at Tony as the billionaire failed to hold back a fit of the giggles. “I’ve been this way for years.”

“What was that you did just now?” Matt asked as Logan handed him a towel.

“She turned into She Hulk.” Foggy said in a voice that couldn’t help but show how excited he was that he knew the secret identity of the infamous giant green woman. “Matt Jen is She Hulk. Oh my god Jen is the freakin’ She Hulk!”

“Why would turning into She Hulk overwhelm me like that?” Matt asked as Logan helped him to his feet.

“Gamma radiation.” The shorter man said. “Your senses are pretty much heightened as high as they can go. That means you get the full effect of what that poison does to someone.”

“What?” Jennifer laughed as she looked at the two men. “That’s ridiculous. Logan I’ve transformed in front of you dozens of times. Bruce has too. That never happened to you.”

“It did the first time I ran into your cousin Jen.” Logan said in as detached a voice as he could manage. “That first fight was hell on my nose. My eyes were burning the whole time. I even went through another round of gagging and vomiting when some of the stench got in my mouth and I could actually taste how horrible the smell was. It was bad.”

“I don’t believe this…” Jennifer began to protest only to recall the countless times she had tried to reach out to comfort Logan as a friend only to be shrugged off immediately. “I really do that to you? How could you not tell me about this?”

“Didn’t seem to matter enough to piss you off.” Logan admitted as he helped Matt over to a stool. “I’ve gotten used to it. Fought near the Hulk and even took on a few of his gamma powered enemies. It ain’t fun, but it don’t stop me from doin’ what I’m best at.”

Matt shivered. The blind man shook slightly as his partner handed him his sunglasses. Matt returned the tinted eye wear to his face, cringing as Jennifer took a step closer to him. The petite blonde retreated several paces as she fought to hold back a sob.

“I’m so sorry Matt.” Jennifer said. “I had no idea. I never even…” She trailed off, unable to finish her plea.

“I knew there was something.” Matt said in a hollow voice. “One day a few weeks after we graduated together we were having lunch. You were fine then. Normal. Then I heard you were hospitalized and a week later, when I went to check up on you, I got to your room and nearly passed out from the lingering stench. The week after that we had lunch again and under your normal scent I could tell there was something wrong.”

“Stop.” Faith whispered so quietly that no one noticed. Not even Matt and Logan heard the desperate utterance.

“I can’t believe I never even noticed.” Jennifer whispered. “I’m sorry Matt. I wondered why we drifted apart. I just thought I was depressing you with all the stories of hospital visits with Carol.”

“Oh are we gonna actually meet this Carol chick?” Foggy asked only to wince as several heads turned to glare at him. “Sorry, didn’t mean to derail the whole blood hound gang thing you guys were talking about.”

“It’s okay Jen.” Matt said as he turned back to face her. “If I’m gonna keep being a part of this lifestyle I’ll have to get used to it. And it’s not even an issue when you’re the way you are now. It’s not like we were ever going to sleep to…” He cut himself off, but it was too late.

Everyone watched as a look of abject horror covered Jennifer’s face. Her mouth fell open to release a strangled gasp but no sound came out. Tears filled hazel eyes as she spun to face the young woman that had changed her life so completely. Faith stood motionless for a moment before looking into her girl’s grief stricken eyes.

“Oh god.” Jennifer whispered.

“Stop.” Faith whispered right back.

“Oh god Faith.”

“No.” The brunette muttered. “We are not doing this.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Jennifer asked with overwhelming fear and panic in her quivering voice.

“I don’t know what they’re talking about.” Faith tried to brush the question off.

“How could you let me hurt you like that?” Jennifer cried as the realization broke her heart.

“You never hurt me.” Faith said with a harder edge to her voice.

“Was everything we shared a lie?” Jennifer asked, half to her lover and half to herself.

“I never lied to you!” Faith snapped.

“Faith.” Logan tried to interject only to flinch as a look of sheer hatred filled his daughter’s eyes.

“I don’t know what the fuck you guys are talking about!” Faith shouted at Logan and Matt. “Stop talking about my girl like she smells bad! She smells perfect.”

“You don’t have to lie to spare my feelings Faith.” Jennifer whispered in a broken tone that turned the brunette’s rage into fresh terror.

“I have never lied to you Jennifer!” Faith shot back before all the air could leave her sails.

“But you know what we’re talking about with Bruce don’t you?” Logan asked his daughter.

“Bruce is fine enough when he’s just normal lookin’.” Faith said with evident disinterest. “His normal stink is bearable, but when he’s the other guy.” She trailed off as she avoided Jennifer’s eyes.

“How bad could all the Hulks really smell to you guys?” Steve asked as he wondered just how these revelations might affect the team.

“Sick.” Logan grunted in disgust. “Toxic.”

“How toxic?” Natasha asked.

“Like a dumpster fire having sex with a meth lab.” Faith explained. “And not any vanilla stuff too. We’re talkin’ like rough angry sex. Like there was something wrong with the relationship and that’s where they had to take it to keep things going.”

“Oh god.” Jennifer whispered as she tried to back out of the room. Tears came freely now as the lawyer saw her world implode. “I’m sorry Faith. I never even realized…”

“No!” Faith snapped. She ran to her love and desperately tried to prove just how much she needed the other woman. “You don’t smell like that Babe.” Faith pleaded as she grabbed Jennifer’s arms.

“Actually…” Logan began only to be cut off by yet another furious glare from Faith.

“I don’t know why but you do not smell like all that gamma crap to me.” Faith assured the petite blonde. “I love your smell. It gets me through the day. You get me through the day Babe. You are the first thing in my short, fucked up, little life that has meant anything to me.”

“Faith.” Jennifer whispered.

“I love you Jennifer.” Faith promised. “I love you. That’s all I care about. You are all I care about.”

“Even if there is something wrong with your superpowers?” Clarice asked in a concerned tone.

“Damn it Pinkie Pie! Ain’t you been listenin’ to a word I said?” Faith shouted at her classmate in annoyance. “So what if I can’t smell what they smell? I don’t need to. All I need is her!” She turned back to her stunned girlfriend with a far more fearful expression in her eyes. “All I need is you Babe.” Faith whispered as her eyes pleaded with Jennifer’s for acceptance.

“You’re all I need too Faith.” Jennifer swore through a voice heavy with emotion. “I can’t believe how much I need you. I’ve never had someone love me the way you do. I didn’t even know what love was before you came into my life. Even with the embarrassing age difference, and the way you keep getting me to make a fool of myself in public, I can’t handle the thought of not being with you.”

“Then don’t!” Faith all but shouted. “Be with me! Don’t let what anyone else says about your smell or my nose get between us. Don’t leave me. Please.” Towards the end Faith’s voice was a desperate whisper in Jennifer’s ear.

“You promise that I don’t make you want to vomit?” Jennifer whispered as Faith pulled her close. “Even when we’re this close?”

The brunette leaned back just enough to look her girl square in the eyes. “How many times have I gone down on you Babe?” Faith deadpanned. “How many times have you hulked out while we was fuckin’? Aside from that one time I coughed up a green hairball have I ever gagged in front of you?”

“Okay wow, I’m not sure the rest of us needed to hear all that.” Foggy said as he and the rest of Jennifer and Faith’s audience began to shift uncomfortably.

“So how about we just chalk this all up to Hydra screwing up the cloning process and move on?” Steve said in hopes of finishing the intensely personal discussion happening in front of them.

“It can’t just be that they got her sense of smell wrong.” Tony said as the scientific analysis portion of his brain kicked in. “It has to be something specific to Jen. Otherwise she wouldn’t smell the Hulk’s gamma rays either.”

“Or it could be an environmental factor.” Hank pondered.

“Drop it ya’ll.” Faith growled as she felt Jennifer try to shift away from her. “Please Babe.” She whispered directly into the petite blonde’s ear. “Please don’t run.”

“Never Faith.” Jennifer assured quietly before leaning back and looking her in the eyes. “But what if there’s something wrong with your powers?”

“So long as I got you I don’t need my powers.” Faith said with honesty and a sliver of desperation that sent a chill down Jennifer’s spine.

“I don’t think this is something you should ignore Faith.” Clarice chimed in with clear concern.

“What the hell is wrong with you people?” Faith snapped at the peanut gallery again. “I don’t care why my powers don’t pick up on Jen’s gamma scent! All I care about is being with her! None of that other crap matters!”

“Child, what if someone did this to you to manipulate your decisions?” Ororo finally spoke up.

“Then I’d thank them!” Faith snapped.

“You’re welcome Faith.” A familiar voice came from the gym entrance Jennifer had almost run through. All eyes turned to see the redhead that had spoken and the blonde on her arm.

“Red, Blondie, tell them I’m fine.” Faith pleaded with the witches. “Tell them my powers are just fine.”

“Oh there is definitely something going on with your powers Sweetie.” Carol said as she and Wanda walked up to Faith and Jennifer. “We know because we changed them.”

“You what?” Logan shouted as he turned to glare at the witches.

“How could you have changed her powers?” Matt asked as he and Foggy stood to face the two newcomers.

“Carol?” Jennifer tried to ask only to falter for a moment. She knew she had to ask. She also knew she didn’t want to know the answer. “What did you do to Faith?”

“That’s Carol?” Foggy asked only to be ignored by the others.

“We cursed Faith.” Wanda said in a far too pleased tone.

“Cursed?” Jennifer and Faith whispered as the truth sank in.

“You cursed her?” Matt asked in a clearly confused voice.

“Uh-huh.” Wanda replied. “With magic. We put a curse of Faith while we were taking out all of Hydra’s assassin brainwashing. It seemed like the simplest solution at the time.”

“You cursed her?” Foggy repeated the question. “Like with magic? A for real magic curse?”

“Yup.” Wanda said.

“With magic.” Carol added.

“So magic is real?” Foggy asked. “Like really real?”

“No way.” Matt said with a far more dismissive attitude than he expected.

“Oh like magic is anymore ridiculous than you getting ninja training from a blind old man named Stick.” Foggy snapped at his partner.

“That’s completely different.” Matt protested.

“Let’s put a pin in this whole ninjas verses magic issue and come back around to the little matter of our teammates cursing people.” Tony chimed in with a much more concerned glare at the two witches.

“What does the curse do?” Jennifer asked Wanda and Carol as she fought the urge to shift forms again. The petite blonde couldn’t help but feel protective of her girl.

“For as long as they both live Faith’s enhanced senses will never be able to detect the lingering effects of gamma radiation coming from Jennifer.” Wanda explained. “That is all the curse does. Faith can’t smell or taste that one aspect of Jennifer’s altered physiology.”

“Taste?” Jennifer shouted in shock. “Why tas… oh, never mind.” She murmured quietly as the realization struck.

“We needed to help Faith get past all the damage Hydra did to her.” Carol said in a more caring tone. “Faith deserves to be happy. To have a life. To find love.”

“So we cursed Faith and took away the one thing that would prevent her from finding that happiness.” Wanda went on. “Her sense of smell is perfect in all other cases. It’s just Jen’s gamma rays that she’ll never pick up on.”

“It’s like this one little blind spot in Faith’s nose.” Carol told them.

“So you made it so Faith would be drawn to Jen no matter what?” Natasha asked.

“Why would we need to do that when they’re already drawn together by default?” Wanda asked in turn. “I mean sure, they don’t usually have this big of an age gap between the two of them but still.”

“Faith and Jennifer are meant to be together.” Carol told the group. “They just are. In every life where we come across both of them they are simply made for each other. And in the worlds where they can’t or won’t be together things end badly.”

“So yes.” Wanda admitted to the group. “We helped Faith find happiness by taking away the one thing in this life that would keep it from her. Without being able to smell the She-Hulk inside Jennifer Faith has built a real relationship and a life for herself. Did we ask her if she felt like sleeping with Jen before hand? No. Will we do it again in any other dimension we are reborn in? Yes. That’s not even a question. They belong together.”

“Who gave you the right to make that decision for her?” Logan seethed. He couldn’t believe they had manipulated his daughter so thoroughly.

“They did.” Carol said, drawing more confused looks from most of the Avengers.

“Every time we have this conversation every version of the women you know as Jennifer and Faith ask us to help them find each other.” Wanda went on. “In the eight hundred and forty two lives we have lived we have come across versions of Jen and Faith in all but a few dozen or so. And every time we leave them to sort out their own relationship they end up trying to kill each other. Every! Single! Time! So we stepped in. We took care of the things standing in their way. One of them is dating a vampire? No problem. We either stake him or move him out of town. One of them is the self appointed mayor of boystown? Well that’s just fine. All she needs is to see what a real relationship between two women is capable of. One of them was a victim of almost every kind of abuse her parents and the darkest corners of the foster care system had to offer. We step in. We help her pick up the pieces. We restore her faith in other people just enough so that she lets her soulmate into her heart.”

“And nine times out of ten their love helps them lead the army that saves the world.” Carol told the newly stunned group. “Plus they are great babysitters for when Wanda and I have kids.”

“Godparents too. There’s literally no one I’d trust my children with more then those two.” Wanda added with a smirk before turning back to Jennifer and Faith. “But if you guys don’t want our help just say so. Tell us to back off now and we won’t bother in any future lives until both of you come begging for our help. That choice has always been in your hands. Now that you can make an informed decision just say the word and we’ll leave the next hundred versions of you two alone.”

“No!” Jennifer shouted to the surprise of everyone. “No, please don’t stop.”

“Yeah.” Faith added as she became lost in her girl’s watery eyes. “Give me all the help you can.”

“Give both of us all the help you can.” Jennifer corrected her girl. “I don’t want to think about any version of me missing out on what Faith and I have.”

“How do you break the curse?” One curious voice shattered the intimate and longing look Faith and Jennifer gave each other.

“No one is going to break the curse!” Faith snapped.

“I’m just saying that curses can be broken.” Jessica told the outraged brunette. “Don’t you want to know the details so that you guys don’t do it on accident?”

“They have to hate each other.” Carol said with a slight shudder.

“That’s not going to happen.” Jennifer said with almost as much of an edge behind her words as Faith had used.

“When you say hate…” Hank began to ask as Ororo cut him off.

“They are going to have disagreements and fights.” The African queen said in a knowing tone. “That is eventually going to happen. It’s just a part of any relationship. What happens if they say something truly offensive to each other and break the curse.”

“Oh, no.” Wanda said with a dismissive wave of her hand. “No, no that isn’t what we’re talking about. When we say they have to hate each other we really mean they have to go out of their way to destroy their relationship. The after that relationship is ruined they have to burn the ruins to the ground and salt the Earth.”

“If Faith ever wants to be able to sense the gamma radiation in Jen like she can with any other exposed person then there are st-steps they both h-have to take.” Carol explained in a voice that began to waver towards the end.

“What steps?” Logan asked.

“First they have to cheat on each other.” Wanda began only to pause briefly as Faith gave her a dismissive snort. “In the weeks before a solstice, under the open sky and the light of the full moon they each have to willingly have sex with a man their girlfriend absolutely despises. After they have both lain with the reviled men, to completion, they must then stay away from each other until the night of the next full moon after the solstice. No contact whatsoever.”

“No.” Jennifer said in a voice that barely held back the anger that would cause her to transform.

“There’s more.” Wanda told her. “On the night of that next full moon you have to meet each other in an open field under a clear sky. After having no contact whatsoever for the better part of a month the two of you have to meet and stare into each other’s eyes.”

“And once you both are doing that you then have to hate each other.” Carol told Jennifer and Faith.

“And we’re talking about real hatred here.” Wanda went on. “You have to consciously want to never be near each other ever again. You have to look at each other and see nothing worth you time in the person before you. You have to wish nothing but the most horrible things to happen to the girl whose hand you are so desperately clutching right this second.”

Faith and Jennifer flinched as they realized Wanda had just winked at their joined hands. They looked down to where their fingers had subconsciously intertwined. Then they slowly looked up and let their gazes meet once more.

“If both of you do all of that.” Wanda continued. “If you can each hate the person you say you love more than life itself. If you can absolutely despise one another and forsake any chance of ever getting back together then, and only then, will Faith be able to break the curse and smell the gamma radiation coming off of She Hulk.”

“That is a lot of hoops to jump through for a breakup.” Natasha said.

“We wanted it to be something they couldn’t possibly do on accident.” Carol replied. “We’ve had so many run-ins with poorly worded and easily broken curses.”

“When my Baby and I make a curse we make one that will only break if we want it to break” Wanda said with an almost prideful smirk. “Jen and Faith are free to break up and break each other’s hearts until they can’t stand it anymore. But if they really want to undo the curse and ensure that they will never be tempted to get back together then they have to work for it.”

“Never.” Jennifer said as Faith nodded along.

“That’s right Babe. We are never going to,” Faith began strong but stopped herself as doubt crept in. “I am never going to cheat on you Jen. I don’t care if I lose my sense of smell completely. I don’t need it so long as I have you. I can’t even, I won’t put you through that. If you don’t want me around then I’ll just go. I won’t ask you to…”

“No!” Jennifer shouted as she clutched Faith by the shoulders. “No Faith. Never. Don’t leave me. I’ll never send you away.” Her last words were spoken in a desperate whisper. “Please don’t leave me.”

“I love you Jen.” Faith swore as she melted into Jennifer’s embrace.

“You guys are seriously on board with all this?” Foggy asked, drawing more than a few surprised looks from several of the crime fighters all around the room. “Jen, how do you even know they’re telling the truth about this magical past life stuff? They could just be making it all up to justify or rationalize what sounds an awful lot like brainwashing. They have no proof.”

“I don’t need proof Foggy.” Jennifer said as she stared into Faith’s loving eyes. “I have Faith.”

“Aww!” Several teammates said in unison at the bad pun.

“Gah! That’s it! You guys had me right up until that last pun.” Clarice said as she feigned indignation. She opened a portal that Natasha instantly recognized as leading to Steve’s bedroom. “Come on Steve. Let’s leave these magic lesbians to their magical lesbianism.” On her way out she shot a playful wink at Faith, Jennifer, Wanda and Carol. Steve just held a surprised and amused look as he was dragged through the portal.

A moment after the portal closed Faith took one step away from Jennifer. The petite blonde watched with confusion that shifted into hurt and then finally settled as relief. Faith took a step away from her girl and turned. The brunette leapt at the redheaded witch and wrapped her arms around the stunned woman.

“Thank you Red.” Faith whispered into her ear. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome Faith.” Wanda replied just as quietly as the brunette released her.

In an instant Faith was hugging Carol just as tightly and whispering into the blonde’s ear. “Thanks Blondie. For everything. Thank you.”

“Always Sweetie.” Carol assured the young woman. “We love you.”

********************

“So how did you guys like your first visit to our HQ?” Pietro asked the two lawyers as everyone gathered in the lounge. The tense revelation in the gym was still fresh in everyone’s minds. But the heroes found it hard to stay offended in light of how thoroughly enthralled Faith and Jennifer were with each other. None could find an excuse to justify standing between the two women.

“It was certainly memorable.” Matt replied as Jessica walked up to them carrying a tray with several tall thin glasses of wine. She handed one to each lawyer and her boyfriend as Natasha and Pepper also passed out glasses around the room.

“We’re celebrating something?” Foggy asked.

“To the peaceful transition of power in Latveria.” Wanda said as she and Carol raised their glasses. “May we never have to go to war in that tiny country again.”

“Amen to that.” Tony said as he and the rest of the team raised their glasses.

All around the lounge Avengers nodded in agreement. Matt and Foggy did the same. Before Matt could take a sip from his glass he realized what had been tugging at the edge of his senses since stepping out of the elevator. He tilted his head to the side as he faced Jessica. He knew he had to stop her.

“Wait!” Matt cried out as he lunged past Pietro and yanked the wine glass out of Jessica’s hand. “You don’t want to drink that.” He told her.

Jessica scowled as Pietro looked confused and then offended. The room grew quiet for an instant and Matt could suddenly hear what had caught his attention all the more clearly. He smiled as he faced Jessica and her boyfriend.

“That was rude.” Jessica muttered. “Jen why is your old boyfriend grabbing drinks out of other people’s hands?”

Jennifer choked on her own sip of wine before coughing and sputtering out an angry reply. “He was never my boyfriend!” She declared as Faith began to chuckle.

“Me want snu snu!” Faith murmured into Jennifer’s ear between laughs.

“I just don’t think you’d want to drink any alcohol if you knew about your… well…” Matt stammered. “Condition.” He finished after a far too long pause.

“Matt, what are you talking about?” Jennifer asked. Something in the blind lawyer’s tone registered with the others and Faith and Logan began to take much closer looks at Jessica.

“Oh.” Logan let out in a hushed sigh.

“Well damn.” Faith added with a more cheerful smirk. “Way to go Q-Tip!” She congratulated Wanda’s brother with a firm slap on the back. “I didn’t know ya had it in ya.”

“Huh?” Pietro asked as he looked back and forth between the young brunette and his girlfriend. “What?”

“Seriously, what’s going on?” Jessica asked in an angry growl as she shot withering glares at the three bloodhounds circling her.

“Yeah guys.” Jennifer added. “What are you talking about? Spill.”

“I’d say she’s about seven weeks along.” Matt admitted. “I can just faintly hear the extra heartbeat in the room.”

“Plus she’s putting out some serious extra pheromones now that I know what it is I’m smelling.” Logan said.

“Kinda hard to tell with Q Tip’s stink all over her the way it’s been for months now.” Faith said with another chuckle. “But she’s definitely getting ready for the next seven or eight months.”

“Oh my god.” Natasha gasped as she looked back and forth between Jessica and the others. “Can you really tell that?”

“May I?” Matt asked Jessica as he reached one bare hand towards her stomach. “My sense of touch is through the roof when I don’t focus on blocking most of it out. On a good day I can focus it to the point that I’m better than an ultrasound.”

“Oh my god.” Jessica whispered as she let Matt touch her stomach. “Oh my god. Oh my god.”

“What’s going on?” Pietro asked again in complete confusion.

“You’ve really done it now bro.” Wanda told her brother with an amused grin.

“What’s going on?” He asked again.

“Pietro.” Jessica said as Matt withdrew his hand and nodded to her once more. She took in a deep breath before staring into her boyfriend’s bewildered eyes. Only once she knew she had his complete attention did she tell him the terrifying news. “I’m pregnant.”

For once in his life Pietro moved as slowly as humanly possible. He slowly leaned back on his heels. He felt his eyes slowly flutter closed. He very slowly lost feeling in his knees. And he oh so slowly fell backwards onto the floor of the Avengers penthouse lounge.

“I was not expecting that.” Wanda muttered to herself as she slipped Carol a dollar.

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Time and Time Again


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2016 11:34 am 
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LOL, very funny chapter.

Explained a lot of the little things that made you wonder what you were missing, because things didn't add up, but c'mon Xander/Pietro what did he think was gonna happen when he repeatedly had unprotected sex (which since nothing was ever mentioned about anyone much less the males characters, stopping to use any kinda means of protection that pregnancy is an option)?!? Then again that's a man for you.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 12:04 am 
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness... Nice to get an explanation for why Faith can't smell She-Hulk's Gamma radiation... Big lol for Xander/Pietro getting Anya/Jessica pregnant...

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 7:24 pm 
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Hokay, this time i did get the update notification, on time even.
But i didn't post anything, because i was re-reading the entire thing again.

I was thinking 'Heehee! i'm reading this for the sixth time!'
And then i spotted one of my posts saying i'd read it eight times. Already.
So, this is at least my ninth go through, possibly tenth.

Yeah, it's that good.

Seriously, if i EVER need cheering up, i just read the first couple chapters.
Which usually leads to me reading more... you get the idea.


Right, on to this week's episode:
Sorry, but i totally saw Xander/Pietro fainting when he knocked up Jessica/Anya.
Surprised Willow and Tara didn't.

Though, you have to wonder, how dumb are they?
The link between sex and babies is well known.
Was one or both of them thinking their mutations/radioactive blood made them sterile?

One slight grumble: how the hell are they supposed to smell radiation?
Would it not be better to say they smell the horrible effects the radiation has on the body?
Even for Wolverine/Faith/Daredevil, smelling radiation is a bit of a stretch.

Looking forward to more :) :bounce :kiss1

R :flower

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2016 5:58 am 
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And the board is finally up when I check to post again. Yay!

Hi Vampyregurl. I liked having a brief side quest about how improbably Faith's and Jen/Buffy's relationship what with how the bloodhound gang feels about Hulks. Plus it gave a good excuse to show the teams where Faith's priorities are.

Hi Zampsa. Big lolz were had by all.

Hi Azirahael. Glad to hear that the starting chapters still hold up. Yes, being able to smell gamma rays isn't a real thing. But it makes good short hand for "Permanent cellular degradation brought on by massive bombardment of high frequency radiation." Funny side note. In a bunch of older comics a handful of characters like Superman and Quicksilver are said to be able to "see faster." Obviously that isn't how light works but it took the writers at DC and Marvel a few decades to come up with the idea that their synapses process information at super speed.

And since everyone brought it up I have to address the issue of protection and safe sex. I kinda lost track but at this point in the Marvels story Pietro/Xander and Jessica/Anya have been sleeping together for something like a year and a half to two years. It goes without saying that they've used condoms most, if not all, of the times they've boinked.

But condoms are not absolutely 100% effective. Especially if Pietro/Xander likes to use his super speed to vibrate his hips and "nice tight ass" at different speeds during the act of coitus. Neither of them probably noticed one or two condoms "popping."

Also I openly admit that I haven't written a dental dam into a love scene. Yes it's reckless and shortsighted. But I'm kinda hiding behind the idea that characters with super human healing (Like Slayers and more than a few mutants.) Don't need to worry about it as much as us mere mortals.

Also Willow and Tara have been monogamous for a ridiculous number of lifetimes. In the cases were one of them may have been unknowingly infected by something (via a public toilet seat or improperly sterilized doctor's tool, thank you for that new set of nightmares by the way Laragh) that can't be cleared up with a penicillin shot they don't let it stop their relationship.

And I don't know about you guys but Willow strikes me as the type who'd get frustrated by having to keep all the fun parts behind a dental dam and would just end up throwing the damn thing across the bedroom.

And now to finally post the next chapter.

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Time and Time Again


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2016 6:04 am 
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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: So were were we? Oh, right. The Zeppo. Sorry if this one doesn't have much in the way of Willow/Tara scenes. Xander is getting his "one a season" spotlight and there were some fun little twists i came up with. Also some stuff is going on with the antagonists that are running around LA. No idea where that is going. Hope you all enjoy.

********************

Chapter 34: The One with the Penis Metaphor

Fog filled every inch of the underground cavern as the demons prowled their most recent nest. The blue skinned female monsters growled as they searched for the intruders. The indignant grunts came to an end as one loud voice called out from the heart of the mists.

“Buffy! Behind you and two steps to your left! Faith! Ten o’clock!” Xander shouted into the fog. Light and shadow flared into existence as the blades of each Slayer found their marks in the remaining demons. Wet slicing sounds bounced off the walls of the old sewer tunnel chamber and were soon followed by two distinct thuds.

“Obscurate nos non diutius.” Willow and Tara chanted as they blew out the large candle they both held. The mist that filled the tunnel cleared in an instant to reveal the Slayers standing triumphantly over a trio of slain demons. “That was really great guys. You all did much better than usual.”

“There’s no way these chicks put up that much of a fight Red.” Faith said with a disbelieving huff as she booted one of the corpses. “We had this in the bag. Right B?”

“You know it Honey.” Buffy agreed as she cuddled into her girl’s side.

“Well we don’t usually have Xander’s magic glasses.” Tara added with a nod towards the young man.

“Oh yeah.” Faith said as she realized how surprisingly helpful he had been. “Good hustle with those calls X man.”

The dark haired teen only smiled as he bowed and adjusted his magic sunglasses. The horn rimmed frames and clear lenses faded and shifted until they had become one blue tinted monocle with a silver frame and chain that ran into his shirt pocket. The odd accessory was slipped into the pocket before Xander could take another look around the dingy cavern. “I try.” Was all he said in return.

“What should we do with the trio here?” Buffy asked her watcher as the Scoobies gathered in the center of the room. “Should we burn them?”

“I brought marshmallows!” Willow chimed in only to draw confused and morbid looks from all but Tara. The honey blonde smirked as she threw an arm over the shoulders of her always. “Occasionally I’m callous and strange.” The redhead admitted to no one in particular.

“Which I find adorable Sweetie.” Tara whispered in Willow’s ear. The curvy young witch was happy to receive a delighted shiver as her breath ghosted over pale, lightly freckled skin.

“I suspect we can leave them.” Giles tried to bring things back on track as he took a closer look at the nearest demon. “I’m more interested in finding out what they are and, well, if we can expect more of their kind.”

“Definitely more.” Willow said as she and Tara began to lead the others out of the underground chamber. “The Sisterhood of Jhe is in town for some big alignment or convergence or something, I don’t know, they all kind of blur together after a while. The point is there are more of them and they have a short list of targets they will hit in the next day or two.”

“What is their plan exactly?” Giles asked as he followed his young friends.

“They’re going to open the hellmouth.” Tara told the watcher. His gasp was only slightly undermined by a loud moan from his Slayer.

“Again!” Buffy cried out in disbelief and exhaustion. “This is like the third or fourth time! What do these blotchy looking Smurfette rejects want to go and open the hellmouth for?”

“Evil, chaos, death, destruction.” Willow rattled off the standard list for the disgruntled Slayer. “The usual.”

“I hate the usual.” Buffy muttered as she looked back to Giles. “So we’re clearing out the Library again then?”

“Actually it’s all but empty.” He told the petite blonde. “What with the fumigation preparations there are only a few personal effects I have to remove.”

“Take out everything you can Giles.” Willow warned him as they neared the access hatch to the sewer tunnel they had come through. “That giant hydra thing will be bigger than it was when the Master got free. We’ll lose the library to this one.”

“And yet another reason I am grateful that you girls had the foresight to move my collection to a safer locale.” The Englishman replied with a sigh as he realized just how much they had all come to depend on Willow and Tara’s preternatural insights. “Should we stock the front counter of the library with weapons for the battle?”

“No.” Willow said as she turned and looked to Xander. “How did things go with your creepy uncle Rory?”

“As good as can be expected.” Xander told his oldest friend before giving her a sly wink. “Want me to bring it around tomorrow so you girls can get the full effect?” The redhead simply rolled her eyes as they all made their way back to Rovello Drive. The watcher and Slayers looked back and forth between Xander and Willow as Tara let out a small chuckle. It seemed that, no matter the plan the witches had in the works, there were no more details being shared this night.

********************

“Can you believe they’re having us clear everything out on such short notice?” Cordelia complained as she went through her locker. “Like one little round of fumigation is going to fix the problems with this crappy school!”

“I heard the Mayor’s office ordered Snyder to go through with it.” Aura said as she cleaned out her own locker beside Cordelia’s. “Something about problems in the foundations. Or maybe there’s a cave system under the boiler room.”

“Or a goddamn hellmouth.” The head cheerleader grumbled quietly to herself.

********************

“So they really cleared everything out of this place.” Buffy said as she and her girl stood by the front desk in the now empty library.

“Yes quite.” Giles said as he stuffed the last of his files into his worn leather satchel. “I’d dare say we should all prepare for the battle ahead. If the hellmouth were to open again the collateral damage to this school will be the least of our worries.”

“Don’t worry Giles.” Willow called out from the raised platform in front of the stacks and behind the empty space where central table at the heart of the library once stood. “We have a plan.” The redhead and her honey blonde love were just about done with their prep work. “One more coat aught to do it.” Willow said as she ran the can of red spray paint over the target area.

“X marks the spot Sweetie.” Tara said as she stood back and removed the painter’s mask from her face. “Okay that should do it. No way they’ll miss this.”

“They’re complete morons Baby.” Willow said with casual disgust. “If it weren’t for Xander pointing this spot out to them I’d say we do the deed ourselves. It’s not like we haven’t done this before.”

“Care to let the rest of the class in on the plan Wills?” Buffy asked as she leaned into Faith’s side at the other end of the room.

The witch got up off her knees and removed her own painter’s mask. “Not just yet Buff.” Willow said as the library doors opened. “You’re early Prescott.” She called out to the tall blonde that strolled into the open room.

“I’d say I’m cutting it extremely close Ms. Rosenberg.” Prescott replied in her standard neutral tone. “Company policy is to avoid any and all active hellmouths during times of convergence such as this.” The arms dealer gave a slight glance to the two Slayers standing by the front desk before turning and bowing to them. “No matter how vigorously its active guardians may be protecting it.”

“Was that a compliment B?” Faith asked as she gave the arms dealer a smirk. “Bout damn time someone appreciated all the good we was doin’.”

“My employers and many of our top clients are very appreciative of your efforts Ms. Lehane.” Prescott said as she stood up straight. “You as well Ms. Summers. I may not have expressed such in our earlier meetings but only an idiot could ignore the good you two young women have done. That fact alone helped me convince my employers to apply a sixty percent discount to all the custom orders Ms. Rosenberg and Ms. Maclay have requested.”

“Sixty!” Buffy all but shouted. “Willow has dropped millions of dollars into stuff she bought from you! How can it all be so expensive if you’re giving her over half off?”

“To be fair most of your friends’ recent orders have been on the cheap side.” Prescott admitted before leveling a smirk at the Slayer. “But high end custom body armor tailored to specific individuals doesn’t come cheap. Especially when the chemical composition of the armor polymers and the nanoweave fibers is decades ahead of what is currently on the market. I was fortunate enough to convince my company to agree to a ten year exclusivity contract with Ms. Rosenberg and Ms. Maclay.”

“Okay, what does that all mean exactly?” Buffy asked as she and Faith cocked their heads to the side in confusion.

“It means we paid extra so that Prescott wouldn’t sell copies of the body armor she sells us to anyone else for ten years Buffy.” Willow explained as she and Tara walked over to the arms dealer. “It also means they can fast track replacements for when any of us or the Hyperion Crew need a new suit. Until Pentacle’s R&D department is ready to manufacture the armor for us Prescott’s company is our best option.”

“The fact that three of our fittings were for Slayers was more than enough to convince my employers to take the deal.” Prescott added.

“Why help Slayers specifically?” Buffy asked as she gave the woman a skeptical frown.

“Notoriety, prestige, the cost of doing business.” Prescott listed off reasons. “It frankly baffles me and everyone at my office that the watchers council refused our services for so long. Any weapons and armor outfit in the world would kill for the chance to have their product sported by The Slayer.”

“And that cost of doing business line?” Buffy asked the woman.

“Oh my yes.” Prescott said as she turned to face the spot where the hellmouth would soon open. “How many hours do we have before that tear in the fabric of space time over there opens up? That nightmare is a threat to all of us. If the world ends then no one will be around for my employers to sell product to. I’m not just selling dangerous and mildly illegal weapons to some unruly gang of misfit youths. I’m providing the Slayers with the tools to save the world. You girls doing what you are destined to do allows me to sell weapons and armaments to all of my other clients. I truly am thankful for your service and your continued patronage.”

“Okay wow.” Buffy muttered as she let the arms dealer’s praise sink in. “Not too many people thank us for this. You’re not gonna turn out to be evil at some point are you?”

Prescott let out a small laugh at the petite blonde’s question. “Oh Ms. Summers. If anything I’m true neutral. Though I don’t expect many of my coworkers’ other clients would pass your standards for moral conduct, I should also state that we never filled an order from Wolfram & Hart. My employers don’t trust old demon triumvirates.”

“Let’s not poke this bear just yet Buff.” Willow told the Slayer who was eyeing the arms dealer suspiciously. “We’re still a ways off from concluding our contract with Ms. Prescott.” The redhead turned to face the blonde woman. “Did you bring the materials we asked for?”

“Of course Ms. Rosenberg.” Prescott said as the library doors opened up. A line of men in baggy jumpsuits pushed hand trucks filled with crates and boxes into the library. Prescott immediately guided them towards the back of the room. The Scoobies watched as Prescott’s loading crew disappeared into the stacks at the rear of the library.

“Well that was unexpected.” Giles said as he turned back to face the four girls. “And you are certain we can trust her “Employers” to not sell the same armor as ours to demons or criminals?”

“She signed a ten year contract Giles.” Willow said with a slight shrug of her shoulders. “By that point we’ll have our own armor manufacturing wing up and running and I’ll have redesigned the tools and manufacturing process to allow even higher quality designs. And if they betray us before then there are plenty of good and not so good lawyers ready to take her company down.”

“One of the perks of owning our own law firm.” Tara said with a slightly quirked grin. “Our business contracts really are iron clad.”

“Like a great big iron hoop skirt.” Willow added only to receive perplexed looks from Giles, Faith and Buffy. “None of my one liners are landing this week.” The redhead complained to herself as her always ran a hand through her shoulder length red locks.

“It’s okay Sweetie.” Tara soothed Willow’s grumpiness away with her soft voice. A moment later the honey blonde looked to their friends and smiled. “So I’m pretty sure Xander has something he wants to show us right about now.”

“You girls go ahead.” Giles said as he waved the Slayers and witches out the door. “I have just a few more things to pack before we prepare for the battle tonight.”

The four young women left the library and soon found themselves standing in the school parking lot with wide eyed looks of confusion and chagrin as their lone male friend sat in the driver’s seat of an older model muscle car.

“You girls need a lift?” Xander asked with a far too cocky attitude.

“What is this?” Buffy asked as she skeptically eyed the car.

“What do you mean what is it?” Xander protested. “It’s my thing.”

“Please don’t call it your thing Xander.” Willow begged as she brought her hands up to her face.

“But it’s my thing.” The boy protested.

“Is this a penis metaphor?” Buffy asked with an almost horrified grimace. Faith burst into laughter at the mortified tone her girl couldn’t help but adopt.

“It’s my thing that makes me cool.” Xander went on to explain as Faith cackled uncontrollably. “My thing that makes me unique. I’m car guy. Guy with a car!” He finished with a suggestive waggle of his eyebrows. The look fell short and was only made less impressive as Faith snorted and fell to her knees with a fresh bout of cackling.

“Xander why would you waste your money on a penis metaphor like this?” Buffy asked as Willow and Tara shared a look.

“Oh god!” Faith wheezed as she tried to draw in fresh breath. “Oh wow, X man. You’re killing me here.” The brunette chuckled.

“My uncle Rory stacked up his DUI’s.” Xander said as he turned back to answer Buffy’s question. “Let me rent this bad boy until he’s mobile again and Faith would you please stop laughing at my thing?”

“Oh Goddess.” Faith said as she finally got herself back together. “Oh Xan man. You do not want to be car guy.”

“But it’s my thing.” Xander protested again.

“Oh god Xander, you don’t need a penis metaphor this… tacky.” Buffy said as she wildly gestured towards the hood to of the car.

“Xander the only “thing” cruzin’ around this hellhole in a fifty seven Chevy Bel Air does is tell people you’re overcompensating for the size of your “actual thing.” The brunette paused as she put her hands on the door and leaned over suggestively. “And not in the good way.”

“But my thing.” Xander pleaded with the girls.

“Dude, your thing is plenty big enough!” Faith shouted for all the students moving through the parking lot to hear. “You ain’t got nothin’ to prove with all this. If you really want to turn heads you cruise around in a beat up old Honda or Ford from ten or fifteen years ago. Nothin’ says I don’t need to worry about my girth like pulling up in a clunker.”

“Okay hold up!” Buffy snapped at her girl. “How can you say you know Xander’s… thing… is big enough to…” The petite blonde stopped as embarrassment overtook her entire body.

“Hey relax B.” Faith said as she pulled her girl to her side. “We all got a good look at the Xan man’s “thing” last year. Our boy is packing a respectable sized anaconda down there.”

“What?” Willow all but shrieked in disgust at the thought of having seen her friend’s privates. “No we didn’t!”

“Oh come on Red!” Faith shot down the witch’s outrage with a knowing eye roll. “Are you seriously gonna tell me that you and Blondie didn’t get a good long look when he joined the swim team? Hell I know B remembers the bulge of that banana hammock he was shakin’ his tight little ass in.”

“Oh my god she’s right.” Buffy whispered in complete surprise as all the wind left her sails. “We’ve all pretty much seen Xander’s penis. Xander how could you let us see that much of your thing!”

“Hey, it’s not my fault.” He pleaded. “I was undercover.”

“Not much cover dude.” Faith added with another chuckle. “Seriously though, stop calling it your thing and don’t act like you know too much about cars. Chicks worth stickin’ it to don’t know jack about cars, and “car guys” don’t got enough down there for a proper sticking in the first place.”

“This car is “so” not the kind of penis metaphor you want Xander.” Buffy said once she finally dragged her mind out of a gutter full of repressed memories about Xander skipping around the school pool in a speedo. “Besides, we have an apocalypse to stop.”

“Which is another reason I got the car.” Xander said as he looked over to Willow and Tara. “You guys are sure you want me to do all that stuff we talked about?”

“Yes Xander.” Tara said as she tried to comfort Willow. “Penis metaphor aside, you need a car for all the stops we need you to make tonight.”

“Without it our “guests” won’t arrive in time.” Willow said as she finally found the courage to look at the young man again after what Faith had just pointed out.

“Alright then.” Xander said with a smile much closer to his more normal expression in place of the cocky grin he had sported while sitting in the driver’s seat of the borrowed car.

********************

“What’s she doing now?” Smith asked as he deliberately averted his eyes away from the large crystal ball in front of the gypsy.

“She dragged this dimwitted fledge with a mullet out of the bar.” Weatherby said with a far too amused smirk. “Oh she just kissed the blood sucker! Smith you ponce, are you gonna stand there and let her step out on you like that?”

“Nothing happened!” Smith shouted only to be waved off by Collins.

“Weatherby, stop picking on Smith and his terrible taste in women.” The lead watcher said as he peered into the crystal ball. He, Weatherby and Jenny watched as Darla explained the process to the young vampire. She bared her neck for the monster and just as fangs were about to sink into pale flash the image was filled with an explosion of dust.

“And here comes lover boy to the rescue!” Weatherby shouted as he raised his half empty beer in salute. “I’ll say this for that undead piece of trash. He’s got half decent timing.”

“Is she safe?” Smith all but shouted as he lunged back to the table the others had clustered around.

“Oh relax you ponce.” Weatherby dismissed the other watcher’s concern. “What are they saying gypsy?”

“Oh wouldn’t you like to know watcher!” Jenny snapped back as she focused on maintaining the scrying spell Ethan had given her.

“Weatherby, stop picking fights with the only ally that has actually helped us through this entire mess.” Collins ordered in a much harsher tone than he had used to chastise the man just moments before. “Ms. Calendar, if you’d be so kind as to provide colour commentary.”

“They’re talking about second chances again.” She said after taking a moment to cool her indignation at the belligerent watcher. “She’s leaving to find another dive bar. He’s asking her to give it some time. She’s, oh…”

“She’s what?” Smith asked as the other watchers leaned closer to the crystal ball.

The gypsy smirked. “She’s dying.” Jenny told them. “This is good. Oh Goddess, this is good! He’s gonna have to turn her or watch her die! That will keep his guilt trip going for centuries! The clan elders will love this!”

“There’s no way the Slayer will let that slide.” Collins said with a smirk of his own. “Whether she stakes him or just casts him out of the hotel our plans will move forward.”

All eyes were on the crystal ball and the two old souls it followed through the night. With almost everything going according to plan neither the watchers nor the gypsy wondered where the fifth member of their cabal had disappeared to. If only they had paid more attention to the English sorcerer things just might have turned out in their favor. But they were beyond that point. Events were already in motion. The plot was about to unfold in a way none of them could predict.

********************

“And you’re sure this is necessary Mr. Mayor?” Snyder asked as he tried to figure out just why the elected official had taken such a keen interest in clearing out his school.

“I’m sure Snyder.” Mayor Allan Finch said as he looked over the principal’s empty office. “Believe me. This is the best course of action, all things considering.”

“I still don’t know why you’ve put so much stock in those girls.” Snyder grumbled to himself.

“Because Wilkins never saw them coming.” Allan replied with ease and a slight smile. “That old warlock was crafty. He spent centuries building himself up as the most evil monster we’d ever meet, and they walked into his throne room and ripped out his throat before he could even blink. Believe me Snyder. The fact that they have let anyone who bowed to the old regime stay in place is a miracle for people like us. So we are going to go along with their plans. No matter how absurd or drastic they sound.”

“Yes Mr. Mayor.” Snyder agreed stiffly. The low level bureaucrat held no illusions about his importance to the witches. He doubted whether or not he could put stock in their promises. With all that the Mayor had told him in recent months he knew he should never have put stock in the promises of Richard Wilkins. But who was to say that Rosenberg and Maclay were any different? All Snyder knew was that he had gone too far to back out now. His hands were tied.

********************

“What’s happening? Did we get the spell working again?” Weatherby asked as he watched the crystal ball flicker back to life.

“We?” Jenny asked with an incredulous tone as she glared at the abrasive watcher. “Where the hell are you getting this “we” from? I’m the one over here doing all the magic!”

“Ms. Calendar I’m sure Weatherby didn’t mean to be any more offensive than he usually is.” Collins said with a weary sigh as his subordinate tried his last bit of patience. “We really should never have expected the scrying spell to work while the vampire was inside the law firm.”

“The witches must have put up wards around the place just for this.” Smith guessed. The statement drew an even more exasperated glare from both Collins and Jenny.

“Are you daft man?” Collins asked with no particular restraint on his rebuke.

“That building has to have some of the oldest and most powerful wards of any place on this continent.” Jenny told the confused watcher. “Even if most of them were wiped out with the Senior Partners there will still be defenses that the girls wouldn’t need to bother reapplying. You people are lucky I was able to follow Angel all the way to the front door of the building.”

“Yes we know how hard this spell is to maintain.” Collins assured the woman. “Do you see where they’re going now that they left the law firm?”

“They just spoke with a doctor.” Jenny said as she focused the spell so that their voices would come through to her ears. “A Dr. Faust. He must work for the lawyers. She has a syphilitic heart condition. It’s too advanced. She’s going to die.”

“Excellent!” Collins cheered as Weatherby threw a fist into the air.

“Hey!” Smith’s protests fell on deaf ears.

“At this rate he’ll have to turn her.” Weatherby said.

“They’re going to get a second opinion.” Jenny told the watchers. “Another second opinion anyway.”

“Where?” Collins asked with a renewed scowl.

“The karaoke bar.” Jenny said as she realized where Angel was taking Darla. “Oh that can’t end well.”

“I still say we should have wiped out that demon nest months ago.” Weatherby told the other watchers. They had all long since tired of the brash watcher’s objections to the green pacifist and the nightclub he ran.

“For the last time Weatherby, that night club isn’t a part of the job!” Collins shouted down the man’s call to arms. “The council has better things to do than fret over humans too stupid to avoid obvious demon nests. Our mission is to get our Slayers back in line. Not clear out a green lounge singer and his riffraff.”

“Besides it’s warded against violence.” Jenny said. “Even if the three of you could figure out a loophole to bypass the wards you’d still be facing over a dozen well fed and relaxed demons. And that’s not even counting the racial diversity of demons there. Too many different types of powers and threats to prepare for. Even with the benefit of your ego getting taken down a peg afterwards it’s just not worth the effort.”

“I’m more concerned about wherever the bloody hell Rayne has gotten off to.” Collins muttered as he leaned in to peer into the crystal ball again. “He set this spell up and now he’s nowhere to be found.”

“Ethan said he was getting things ready for the next attack.” Jenny told the watchers. “Just be thankful he had this trick up his sleeve or else we’d be completely in the dark again.”

As the images solidified in the crystal orb the three watchers gathered around. There was far more they needed to find out about the movements of their foes and the only method of learning was sitting in the center of the table in front of the gypsy. Collins smirked as he watched the vampire and the blonde they had resurrected. He knew this wild goose chase the blood sucker was on would pay off for their cause in the end. Their task would soon be over.

********************

“Okay, you can do this.” Xander told himself as he sat behind the steering wheel of his uncle’s car. The alley outside the Bronze was crowded that night and he was more than a little suspicious about how his mission would really play out. “Be a part of the team. Save the world. It’s all resting on your shoulders. And I’m talking to myself. Great. Nice going car guy.” He finished with a huff.

Xander steeled himself for what he knew he must do. The young man took three deep breaths as he turned the key and started the engine of his borrowed convertible. He shifted into drive and immediately rammed into the rear bumper of the hatchback parked in front of him.

“Oh god!” Xander called out for added effect as he climbed out of his uncle’s car. “Oh god. Okay don’t panic. Just a little fender bender.” The driver’s door of the parked car opened and a familiar face stepped out. The other driver glared at Xander with murderous intent in his eyes. “Oh gosh, Jack.” Xander apologized profusely as the epitome of thuggery walked up to him. “Are you okay? I am really sorry about that. Your car came out of nowhere!”

Jack O’Toole looked at Xander, then to the rear bumper of the car he had been sitting in, and then back to Xander again. “I was parked.” He said in a moderately perplexed voice.

“Exactly!” Xander agreed all too quickly. “Don’t worry, I can get this fixed up. I know a few guys with a garage. The important thing is we’re alright and we can work this out like two reasonable…” He paused as the bully pulled out an oversized bowie knife. Xander almost smirked as his earlier conversation with the girls about overcompensation leapt to the forefront of his mind. “Frontiersmen.” He finished with a gulp as the bully stepped closer with the knife held high.

“Where do you want it?” Jack O’Toole asked in a cold voice that seethed with the violence he was about to inflict upon Xander.

“Do what now?” Xander asked with far more confusion in his tone than he actually felt.

“Where, do you, want it?” O’Toole slowly asked again as he began to sway the bowie knife back and forth.

“I’m fairly certain I don’t want it at all.” Xander quipped with what was mean to be a reassuring grin. “But, uh, thank you. It’s not every day I see such a mighty fine knife.” He hoped the obvious lie tacked on at the end wouldn’t give him away.

“She’s called Katie.” Jack said as he gazed at his own blade.

“You gave it a girl’s name.” Xander said as his eyes stayed on Katie. “How very serial killer of you. Listen I think we should be going. We both have places to be with the alignment tonight.” Before Xander could turn further away from the thug Katie was pressed gently against the back of his ear and jaw line.

“Are ya scared?” O’Toole asked in a much more menacing voice.

“Would that make you happy?” Xander asked through a forced smile that did little to hide his apprehension.

“You know what the difference between you and me is?” The thug asked.

“Well right now Katie is springing to mind.” Xander replied while holding himself perfectly still.

“Fear.” O’Toole leaned forward with a whisper. “Who has the least fear.” The thug lunged forward and had Xander sprawled out on the hood of the Bel Air. He was surprised to find Xander firmly holding his hand around the grip of the knife. The young man’s grip was tighter than O’Toole would have expected. As he loomed over Xander and struggled to move the knife closer to his throat the bully began to wonder if there wasn’t something more behind the cowardly exterior Xander showed the world.

“Hey!” A loud voice shouted as a bright light fell on the two young men. The knife was quickly hidden behind O’Toole’s back as he and Xander stood up from their impromptu grappling match over the hood of the car. “What’s goin’ on?” The police officer called out to them as he calmly walked up to the scene of the struggle.

“Nothing!” O’Toole said far too quickly. “Just wrasslin!” Xander almost laughed at the idiotic lie the thug had come up with.

“O’Toole.” The cop said with a chuckle as he came closer to the two teens. “What a surprise.” His flashlight was in their faces again as he glanced over to Xander. “He attack you?”

Xander gave O’Toole one last look before turning back to the officer. “No!” He assured the cop. “Just blowin’ off steam. Two guy wrasslin! Heh heh.” Xander paused before a serious look came over his face. “But not in a gay way.” He told the cop.

“Do it somewhere else, huh?” The officer said before turning and walking away. Xander let out a sigh before glancing back to the bully that had just held a bowie knife to his throat. There was an unmistakable smile on Jack’s face.

“What?” Xander asked.

“That was alright.” O’Toole admitted as he looked Xander over again. “Could have narced on me. Didn’t do it.” There was grudging respect in O’Toole’s eyes as he nodded. “Decent of you.” Xander could only look at the bully, dumbfounded. The tables had turned just as Willow said they would. “I like you.” Jack finished with an unsettling smirk.

Xander’s confused frown turned into a strained grimace. “Yay?”

“Come on.” O’Toole said as he walked around to hop into the passenger’s seat of Xander’s car. “We’re gonna go have ourselves some fun!”

“What did you have in mind?” Xander asked as he climbed into the driver’s seat.

“I was on my way to go get the boys.” Jack said with an almost smug grin. “Gonna cruise around. We’ll take your wheels.”

“And your car?” Xander asked as he started the engine up again.

“Ain’t mine!” Jack told him with a genuine laugh. “Gonna get the Boys!” The thug hollered and Xander could only nod along as he backed the car up and drove away from the Bronze.

********************

“You sure about letting O’Toole off the hook with that kid?” The cop heard his partner ask as he climbed back into the driver’s seat of his squad car. “That Harris boy looked like he was two seconds away from getting split up the middle.”

“We have our orders.” The cop said with a dour expression on his face.

“I just don’t know why the chief is taking orders from Rosenberg & Maclay on all of this.” The rookie told his partner. “Jack O’Toole is a menace. Why aren’t we arresting him right now?”

“Because the mayor said so.” The older cop snapped at the rookie. “And I don’t want him or that law firm coming down on me. Kid you haven’t been on the force long so you don’t know what things used to be like with the old mayor. Just be thankful the shadiest thing the new bosses have asked us to do is so small. Knowing this town it could be so much worse.”

Both men sat in silence as the ominous warning hung in the air between them. Neither was willing to step out of line over such an odd and seemingly minor request from the people pulling their superiors’ strings. Neither wanted to risk the wrath of the infamous law firm or the strange people who lived at the two neighboring houses on Rovello Drive. Both knew that no good could ever come from questioning the Mayor of Sunnydale.

********************

Four blue skinned demons stalked into Willie’s Bar. They looked the dingy place over before turning to glare at the human behind the counter. He was the only other living being in the room and that suited the Sisterhood of Jhe just fine for the moment.

“Where is she?” One demon growled as she stormed up to the bar.

“Oh, hi, um…” Willie began to stammer as the demons spread out around the bar. “Who are we talking about again?”

“Slayer!” Another demon shouted as she flipped a pair of tables over. One was flung at the jukebox in the corner while the other was aimed squarely at Willie’s head.

“Ah!” The bartender screamed as the demons began to howl. Willie managed to duck just in time as the table slammed into the shelves full of liquor bottles just behind the bar. He cringed as alcohol and tiny shards of glass rained down around him.

“That sounds like our cue B.” Faith said as she stepped out from the door leading into the back room. Her twin butterfly swords were already drawn. The blades crackled with energy and malice as the brunette caught sight of the demons.

“Sorry about this Willie.” Buffy told the man as she stepped into the room and stood beside her girl. “But if what Willow and Tara said is true then we just saved you from a pretty savage beating.”

“That’s okay!” Willie shouted from the fetal position he had curled into behind his bar. “Anything to help you girls out. I’m not about to pick a fight with you Slayers. You just do your thing and I’ll be down here when you’re done.”

“Sounds good enough for me B.” Faith said with a wicked smile as she ran her eyes over the snarling demons across the bar.

“Me too Honey.” Buffy said as she drew her long sword.

The demons surged forward and found themselves woefully outmatched. The Slayers cut the quartet of blue women down with ease. The last demon barely had time to growl out a threat of the world ending that very night before Faith’s blades tore through her neck.

“Well that was underwhelming.” Buffy said as she looked over to the bar. “You can come out Willie.”

“Thanks girls.” The sleazy little man said as he crawled back up to his feet. “Oh hey, the damage isn’t as bad as I though it’d be.”

“Yeah, sure whatever.” Faith said as she knelt down and grabbed two of the corpses by the hand. “You want us to drag these to your sewer grate in the back?”

“Please, thank you.” Willie said as he began to brush stray pieces of glass off his beer and liquor stained shirt. “That was intense.”

“Tell me about it.” Buffy said while grabbing the other two dead demons and following Faith. “But we have a plan for taking out the rest of these ho-bags.”

“The mouth on you Summers.” Willie muttered as he picked up a broom and began the long process of making his dive bar look just slightly less like a warzone. “When did that happen? You kiss you butch girlfriend over there with that mouth?” He asked as both Slayers came back out to the front of the bar.

“You know I do Willie.” Buffy said with a bright smile as Faith just smirked.

“Guess I’m a bad influence on ya B.” Faith admitted as the smirk on her lips only grew bolder. “Don’t tell your mom.”

“Like she doesn’t know.” Buffy dismissed the thought out of hand as she wrapped an arm around her girl’s waist. “You okay here Willie? We kind of have other stops to make tonight before the sisterhood tries to open the hellmouth.”

“No, yeah, sure.” Willie said as he waved the Slayers off. “You girls go on. Save the world again. Thanks for that by the way. And thanks for stopping by tonight.”

“No prob dude.” Faith said with a wave over one shoulder as she and Buffy walked out of the bar. Willie couldn’t help but feel relived that the Slayers were on top of things. He may deal with the less reputable monsters that lived on the hellmouth every night, but even the vast majority of his customers didn’t want the world to end. The very idea of ending it all just seemed so pointless. As he cleaned up the most obvious signs of the brief skirmish Willie truly hoped the Slayers would succeed that night.

********************

“Let’s get some Beer!” Bob screamed into the night as he stood up in the back seat of Xander’s convertible. Three graveyards after leaving The Bronze Xander’s borrowed Bel Air was packed with four zombies. Each one dumber than the last. One actually thought they could pick up girls. Xander had to stifle a laugh at that. The largest zombie, Bob, seemed interested in beer, fighting and more beer.

“I want to bake a cake.” One of the more decomposed zombies in the back said. It was the phrase the girls had warned him about. The one they had taken time to explain the true meaning behind.

“Baking a cake sounds good to me.” Xander said as he glanced over to O’Toole. The other zombies kept bouncing the same ideas around as the car rolled down Main Street.

“Well I’ve heard some interesting suggestions but I’m gonna have to go with Dickey’s.” Jack said as Xander pulled up in front of the hardware store. “Let’s go bake a cake!” O’Toole yelled as Bob leapt from the back seat and threw a garbage can through the store’s front window.

“And I’ve got a pretty good idea where we’ll do the baking.” Xander said as he watched the zombies ransack the hardware store.

********************

“What’s the problem this time?” Weatherby demanded as Jenny sifted through images within the crystal ball.

The gypsy glared at the impatient watcher before turning to his superior. “The karaoke bar is a sacred sight.” She told Collins. “It’s protected by strong wards and veils. Be thankful I can scry inside the building at all.”

“Fine, fine, just tell us what the vampire is asking that demon.” Collins said far too dismissively.

“That’s what I’m working on. Their conversation has the biggest veil of anything in there.” Jenny snapped as a haunting melody filled the room. Sound poured out of the crystal ball for the first time since the scrying spell was cast. All eyes returned to the crystal ball and the scene reflected within. Darla was sitting on a stool in the middle of the night club stage. She held a microphone in her hand as she sang the somber tune.



Nature, nurture heaven and home
Sum of all, and by them, driven
To conquer every mountain shown
But I've never crossed the river

Braved the forests, braved the stone
Braved the icy winds and fire
Braved and beat them on my own
Yet I'm helpless by the river

Angel, angel, what have I done?
I've faced the quakes, the wind, the fire
I've conquered country, crown, and throne
Why can't I cross this river?

Pay no mind to the battles you've won
It'll take a lot more than rage and muscle
Open your heart and hands, my son
Or you'll never make it over the river

It'll take a lot more than words and guns
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we'll cross the river


“Oh my.” Jenny whispered as the three watchers remained silent for once. Each of them felt the full force of the emotions behind the doomed blonde’s voice. The pain. The regret. Even the beginnings of acceptance and resignation. Darla knew she was not long for this world.

It'll take a lot more than words and guns
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we'll cross the river

(Nature, nurture heaven and home)
It'll take a lot more than words and guns
(Sum of all, and by them, driven)
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
(To conquer every mountain shown)
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we'll cross the river

(Braved the forests, braved the stone)
It'll take a lot more than words and guns
(Braved the icy winds and fire)
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
(Braved and beat them on my own)
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we'll cross the river

And together we'll cross the river

And together we'll cross the river


As the song began to wind down an unmistakable sob broke free from one watcher. The naked display of humanity just so happened to come from the man the others in the room least expected it from.

“Weatherby, are you crying?” Smith asked as he stared at his much more abrasive partner.

“No!” Weatherby snapped as he turned away.

Collins simply ignored the other two men and turned back to the gypsy. “What can you hear from the demon? Where is the vampire going next?”

“Their conversation is clouded from the spell.” Jenny said as she fixed both of the junior watchers with a wary look. “We’ll have to wait for them to leave and then follow.”

“Damn it Smith I’m not crying!” Weatherby shouted as Smith tried to put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. All Jenny could do was roll her eyes as the two men returned to their old patterns.

********************

“Why are we baking the cake in the library and not the boiler room again?” Bob asked as Jack and the other two zombies assembled the bomb. They had filled an old oil drum with accelerants with a large bundle of blasting caps, flares, a small digital clock and a bird’s nest of wires sitting atop the lid. The bomb itself stood in the middle of the now empty book shelves on the raised dais to the rear of the library’s main room.

As he took in the crude design Xander wondered how the zombies hadn’t blown their bodies apart long before their original deaths. He sighed as the undead completely missed the giant red “X” painted on the floor. Xander himself stood by one of the rear doors that led deeper into the library stacks. He checked his watch again for what had to be the dozenth time. The odd habit was beginning to annoy O’Toole. The leader of the zombie gang turned to glare at the live teen and demand more answers.

“Explain that again Xander.” Jack began in an agitated tone. “The cake will do more damage if it goes off in the boiler room instead of an empty library.”

“Usually, but not this time.” Xander said as he pulled his sleeve back over his watch. “See there was a reason why the school was cleared out for fumigation. They just found a massive underground gas pocket and it’s slowly leaking into this room. This is where the cake needs to be. So when you guys are done set the clock for two hours from now.”

“Why two hours?” Bob asked as Jack’s eyes narrowed on Xander.

“Because at midnight the mayor is meeting in Snyder’s office with the school board and the little troll himself to try and figure out what they’re gonna do for a cover up.” Xander told the zombies as he brought both his hands up to shoulder height. “Two birds.” He said before lowering his arms and pointing to the bomb. “One stone.”

O’Toole and the other zombies smiled wickedly as they realized the full extent of Xander’s plan. For his part Xander played along with the script he had been given. The obvious flaws in Willow and Tara’s plan had thrown him for a loop at the start but as they explained the severity of the Sisterhood of Jhe and the reopening of the hellmouth he had to give the girls credit for coming up with the least crazy plan out of all the insanely crazy plans on the table.

As they finished the bomb and began to sneak out of the school none of the zombies noticed the dozens of crates full of high explosives on the other side of the door Xander had stood in front of. They had no idea just how much destruction their cake would bring about. Xander smirked to himself. He knew none of the zombies would survive long enough to see the explosion.

********************

“What’s with the empty swimming pool?” Smith asked as the three watchers peered into the crystal ball.

“It’s a leap of faith to get into the trials. The demon must have told Angel about this back at the night club.” Jenny explained as she watched the vampire leap off of the diving board into the dry pool.

Smith let out a gasp as Angel vanished through the bottom of the pool instead of cracking his skull on the cement surface. “Where did he go?”

“She just told you it was a leap of faith you dolt.” Collins muttered as the image reformed to show the vampire standing in a lavish stone room that brought innumerable medieval castles to mind. Two male blue skinned demons stood silently by columns on one side of the room. As Angel took in his surroundings a figure dressed in a traditional butler’s uniform shimmered into existence beside the vampire. The two men spoke but no sound came from the orb. “What are they saying?”

“The pocket dimension is shrouded.” Jenny told the watchers. “I can barely make it out. He’s going to attempt a series of trials. Three of them. The butler is his guide. He sounds even more British than you three.”

“Hey!” Smith and Weatherby protested as Collins just rolled his eyes.

“He’s talking about collateral.” Jenny went on ignoring their complaints. “Darla’s life is the wager, so her life is the collateral. If he loses or walks away she dies.”

“Well this just got interesting.” Collins said with an almost genuine smile as he leaned forward to watch the ensuing carnage.

Jenny could only roll her eyes and focus on maintaining the scrying spell. She was rapidly tiring of these watchers and their squabbling. If only Ethan were there to handle them. The gypsy was suddenly distracted by thoughts about where the sorcerer might be. She had no clue what he was planning for the next stage if Darla died. His absence at such a pivotal moment was more than unusual. Uncertainty gave rise to hesitation before the effort of actively maintaining the spell drew he focus back to the crystal ball. She would have to ponder Ethan Rayne’s behavior later. For now there was too much work to be done.

********************

“Alright! Let’s go get some beers!” Bob shouted as the gang of zombies entered the school lounge. To their surprise the open room was far from deserted.

“Girls.” One of the more decomposed zombies said as he took in the sight of four young women sitting on the couches beside the school lounge’s large bay windows.

“Wait.” Jack said as he recognized two of the girls right away. “What are Summers and her gutter skank doing here?”

“What the fuck did that undead piece of shit just call me?” Faith shouted as two of the other women shared a laugh. The brunette was already on her feet and the petite blonde wasn’t far behind.

“Oh you are gonna regret that one.” Willow said as she and Tara stood up behind the two enraged Slayers.

“Not your brightest move Jackie boy.” Xander said as he slowly walked around the cluster of zombies and came to stand beside the two Slayers. “Hey guys. Everything is in place. They did exactly what Willow said they would.”

“What’s going on Xander?” Jack shouted in a harsh voice. He knew a double cross when he saw one. The thought that he and his boys had been manipulated by the cowardly teen filled the zombie with more rage than he had felt in a long time. “You takin’ orders from a bunch of dykes now?”

“What can I say?” Xander asked as the Slayers drew their blades. The room filled with the crackling light and darkness of Buffy and Faith’s flickering auras. The most decomposed corpses began to step back as some instinctive part of them commanded that they flee. “I’ve got a thing for strong women. You guys can handle this trash right?” Xander asked as the Slayers charged.

Bob and the other two obvious walking corpses fell in the blink of an eye. Shimmering blades sliced through undead flesh as if it were air. The light and dark swirls of the auras that engulfed the blades lashed out along the bodies of the three undead. They burned as easily as the countless vampires that had fallen to those blades.

Jack gawked in horror as his boys vanished in the briefest of infernos. He glared at Xander and as the Slayers circled him Jack O’Toole felt fear for the first time in years. He schooled his emotions, drew his bowie knife and scowled at Xander yet again. “You think I’m afraid to die? I’m already dead!”

“Yeah, but this is different.” Xander said as Faith and Buffy smirked. “Being dusted by the Slayer isn’t walkin’ around and drinking with your buddies dead. It’s little bits floating in the breeze and being swept up by the janitor dead, and I don’t think you’re ready for that.”

“Don’t worry Jack. You’ll fit just fine in a tiny dust bit?” Buffy added as Faith began to chuckle menacingly.

“Nah, B.” Faith chimed in as a particularly sinister idea came to her mind. The brunette sheathed her butterfly swords and pulled out a large hunting knife of her own. “Dusting is too easy for this little bitch. We’re gonna need someone to take the fall.”

“What?” O’Toole asked in confusion just as Faith surged forward. Before he could even react the Slayer had severed the tendons in both his arms. He howled in indignant frustration as she went on to shatter both of his kneecaps. The bowie knife fell to the floor with a clatter as Faith dragged its former owner over to the last vending machine that had been left in the school. “You bitch!” O’Toole growled helplessly as he was manhandled against the large machine.

Faith said nothing as she pulled a long, thin piece of rebar from a duffle bag on the floor. She let go of O’Toole but before he could even think to react the length of rebar was plunged through his chest and buried a foot into the vending machine. The thug howled again as Faith wrenched and twisted the rebar around. Once the Slayer was satisfied that it was firmly in place she held onto the end of the rebar and bent the last foot at a ninety degree angle. There would be no escape for O’Toole.

“Oh my god that is so hot.” Buffy whispered to herself. The odd statement drew more than a few shocked, sideways glances from the other Scoobies.

“Thanks B.” Faith replied as she gave O’Toole one last dismissive look. “Now your punk ass gets a front row seat to that pathetic little cake your dipshit brigade cooked up.”

“And with all the added party favors we packed into the library stacks it will be a hell of a show.” Willow added as they turned to leave the bully to his fate. “And in the morning the cops will find what’s left of you here and put the pieces together.”

“Don’t you walk away from me!” O’Toole shouted at their backs. “Come back her and finish this you cowards!” His outraged pleas fell of deaf ears.

********************

“He’s in the first trial.” Jenny telecast the events going on in the crystal orb. “He just has to get through that door. Oh…”

“That’s a rather ugly demon in his way.” Collins remarked as he looked the yellow skinned monster over.

“What do you think the hook and the sword are for… Oh.” Smith began to ask as the fight ended. Angel had taken the demon’s sword and used it rather expertly to cleave the fiend in twain.

“And the demon goes down.” Weatherby said in disgust. “What kind of shoddy trials are these that they can’t even kill one lousy vampire?”

“It’s not over.” Jenny said as she saw the two halves of the demon wriggle and crawl towards each other. “It’s pulling itself together. It’s back up.” The gypsy actually let out a laugh as she watched Angel sigh and roll his eyes at the persistent foe. The demon was quickly bisected again and just as the watchers were about to comment they saw Angel use the large meat hooks and chains the demon had wielded to hang the two separate parts on opposite ends of the room. “And he’s through the first trial.”

“That’s it!” Weatherby shouted in disgust. “That took all of five minutes! Twice! How is that a trial?”

“He’s at the second trial.” Jenny said as she refocused on the orb. “He’s standing at the end of a long hallway. There’s a basin on a small pedestal half way through. The skylight is opening… Oh. Oh that’s clever.”

“What’s going on now?” Collins asked before his eyes widened in comprehension. “So that’s why he asked for the vampire’s shoes and shirt at the start.”

“Every surface of the hallway is lined with crosses.” Jenny said as she watched Angel painfully skip through the new obstacle.

“Ha! Look at that blood sucker go!” Weatherby cheered as smoke poured off of Angel’s feet. “Now that’s a trial!”

“He’s at the door.” Jenny went on as the events played out. “It’s locked. The key is back in the, oh my god it’s holy water!” She let out a shocked gasp as she saw Angel’s arm dive into the caustic liquid to pull out the key. The sounds of searing flesh followed by the vampire’s pained screams sickened the gypsy.

“Ha, ha!” Weatherby almost cackled as he watched Angel speed back across the hall and dive through the door as soon as he had the key in the lock. “Take that vampire.”

“That one seemed much more tailor made for Angelus.” Smith said as he tried to reconcile the two wildly different trials. “Oddly vampire specific.”

“And yet he’s already on his way to the third.” Collins groaned as they watched Angel advance.

“The first trial is probably standard for all challengers while the later ones are custom made once the yellow demon is actually defeated.” Jenny remarked as she focused the scrying spell. “The butler said no one has beaten the first trial before.”

“And yet he got through two in record time.” Collins muttered. “We’re going to have to take him out ourselves at this rate.”

The gypsy and the watchers gathered around the crystal ball and watched as Angel entered what they assumed would be the third trial. There was little doubt in their minds that he would breeze through it just as quickly as he had the last two. Again Jenny was left to wonder where Ethan had gone during such a key moment in their scheming. The creeping doubt left her unsettled.

********************

Agitated growls filled the halls as six blue skinned demons slunk into Sunnydale high. The Sisterhood of Jhe had come to ensure the opening of the hellmouth and nothing was going to stop them. Even with the recent thinning of their ranks by the Slayers the demons were sure of their inevitable victory. Within moments they reached the library and threw open the doors. Inside was a most unexpected sight. The room was empty and bare. The demons had expected the Slayers and their people to make one last desperate stand. They had prepared to fight, kill and eat every last human in the building, but there was no one in the library.

The ground began to rumble. The alignment was at its zenith. Time had run out. The marble floor in the heart of the school library began to crack and heave. The stonework split open revealing the horror below. The mass of blotchy, mottled flesh forced its way out of the gaping crack in the floor. Screams erupted from the beast’s many maws. Jaws full of discolored fangs wove back and forth in the air as the massive stalks they capped burst free from the opening in reality. Countless smaller tendrils writhed as the hydra like nightmare emerged from the hellmouth. It was only the first to step into the mortal world. Countless legions would soon follow.

The cheers of the Sisterhood of Jhe filled the room. None of the demons paid the slightest bit of attention to the platform behind the hellmouth and its hideous herald. None saw the mass of wires and incendiaries atop the barrel. None of them reacted as the clock counted down to zero.

********************

“Damn but that’s a mighty fine explosion!” Faith hooted as the high school performed a competent impression of an erupting volcano.

“Do we need to do any clean up? ‘Cause that explosion probably woke the neighbors.” Xander remarked as the witches sat in a small circle, chanting the words to an ancient binding ritual. Small flecks of light burst into existence around Willow and Tara before shooting into the now ruined and smoldering school. The redhead breathed a sigh of relief as the flames on the outer edge of the school grounds guttered out.

“The m-mayor’s office will handle the cleanup.” Tara said as she relaxed beside her always. “The spell w-worked even from here. The hellmouth is sealed again.”

“None of the Sisterhood made it out.” Willow added as she let her head fall to Tara’s shoulder.

“Good.” Buffy said as she and Faith began packing up the ritual paraphernalia that their friends had spread around the small hillside that overlooked the former school. “We should go home before anyone comes by to check this mess out.”

“We already talked with the Chiefs of the police and fire departments about tonight and everything that led up to it.” Willow assured the Slayer. “They’ll help Allan handle things on the official end.”

“But the school is gone.” Xander said as he realized just how much damage they had wrought. “Like gone, gone. Is that… Are we going to have to deal with this at some point?”

“Already taken care of.” Willow assured the stunned Scoobies. “Classes will pick up next week right where they left off. The only change is the venue.” In the wake of the redhead’s odd statement the Scoobies could only sigh and begin the short walk home. They knew Willow and Tara had planned things out well in advance. They could only hope that the changes in the weeks to come would be far less dramatic.

********************

“Is he at the last trial yet?” Collins asked as he watched the crystal ball.

“He just rounded a corner.” Jenny said as she concentrated on what was playing out in her mind’s eye. “He’s still limping along after the holy water and crosses… And he’s captured again.”

“Captured?” Smith cried out in confusion. “What do you mean captured? Why captured?”

“Shackles and chains shot out of the walls around him and latched onto his wrists and ankles.” Jenny explained as she scryed the vampire’s progress. “He’s stuck in place. Can’t move an inch.”

“Finally this gets interesting.” Weatherby chuckled as he leered at the orb.

“That butler is back, and a wall full of wooden stakes just popped up out of nowhere.” Jenny explained as she witnessed the latest conversation between the guide and the vampire. “He’s explaining the third test. Oh, there’s no catch. Death is the final challenge.”

“About time!” Weatherby shouted as he clapped Collins on the shoulder.

“Not now you imbecile!” Collins snapped as he peered into the crystal ball with just as much focus as the gypsy. “He won’t do it. He won’t give himself up for her.”

“Does he have a choice?” Smith asked in an almost resigned tone.

“Apparently he does.” Jenny told the morose watcher. “The butler is saying Angel can leave at any time. All their doors are now open. But Darla will die.”

“No.” Smith whispered helplessly.

“Oh come off it.” Weatherby snapped. “The whore has it coming.”

“Shut up you fools!” Collins shouted as he tried to watch the clash of emotions waging war across the vampire’s face. “He wouldn’t…”

“He would and you know it.” Jenny said as she resigned herself to failing her clan. Angel would die before letting Darla meet the same fate again. She knew that better than any of the three watchers she had been forced to tolerate for the better part of the last year. The vampire they despised was many things. First and foremost being a martyr.

They all watched silently as the wooden stakes retracted several inches. Jenny let out a gasp as each sharpened piece of wood was launched at the helpless vampire. The watchers held their breaths as the hail of stakes reached the vampire. Just as they would have grazed his flash the image of the stone corridor all around Angel shifted. In an instant the vampire was once more standing in the lavish entry chamber, fully clothed and completely bewildered.

“What?” Collins shouted as Smith let a very slight cheer escape his lips.

“Bah!” Weatherby muttered in disgust. “These trials are rubbish! Can’t even stake one vampire.”

“He passed.” Jenny said as she listened to the guide congratulate Angel. “The willingness to sacrifice himself was all they really wanted. They just wanted to see if they could break him emotionally at the last step. Oh that’s good. Uncle Enyos is going to love this.”

“So that’s it then?” Collins asked as he watched the butler mover over to Darla. “She’ll live then and we’ve lost our main tool. Just perfect.” Collins couldn’t help but sulk at the prospect of failure. He was so distraught that he almost missed the remorseful look in the butler’s face as he stepped back from the former vampire.

“Oh.” Jenny said as she heard the stunned and regretful apology of the guide. “Oh wow. I actually forgot about that rule.”

“What?” Smith asked as he looked back and forth between the orb and the gypsy. “What’s going on?”

“She’s dying.” Jenny said.

“Still?” Weatherby asked.

“She can’t have a second chance?” Smith asked as he fought back crushing despair.

“She’s living her second chance.” Jenny told them. “The one we gave her. With magic.” The frown on the gypsy’s face turned up slightly as the butler’s words came to her. “But he played the game magnificently.”

The gypsy laughed. She couldn’t help it. The Butler’s parting words were the perfect way to twist the knife in the vampire’s side. The watcher’s stared into the crystal ball and watched as the butler faded out of existence. Jenny could only laugh all the harder as Angle flew into a rage and destroyed everything in the room. She practically cackled as he slew the two guardian demons standing by the stairway leading up and out of the pocket dimension.

“Oh…” Jenny said as she gasped for breath. “Oh the clan is going to love this. He’s gone through hell and suffered just like they always wanted and the only thing he gets in return is some British sounding ghost butler saying “Kudos, thanks for playing!” Ha, ha, ha, Ha!”

She burst into laughter yet again as the watchers starred into the crystal ball. They watched as the vampire destroyed the last pieces of furniture in the room and began to slam his fist against a massive stone column off to one side of the chamber. Just as Angel slumped to his knees in defeat the image blurred. The orb went dark.

“What happened?” Collins demanded.

“Oh this was fun.” Jenny said as she got up. “I have to report this to the clan elders.”

“What about the mission?” Smith asked as the gypsy walked to the door of the warehouse’s back office. “What about Darla?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Jenny asked as she glanced once over her shoulder. “She’s dead. It will just take her a few months to figure it out. Angel will watch her wither away. He’ll suffer. He’ll be of no use to the Slayer. Good luck on your end boys. I really doubt he’ll pull through this in one piece.”

With that the gypsy walked out of the room. The watchers watched her go in stunned silence. None of them could grasp just what had happened after the long and circuitous route the night had taken. Nor could they know what lay ahead in the hours before morning.”

********************

“So what happens now?” Snyder asked as he sipped from one of the mayor’s scotch glasses and watched the last remnants of the burning school gutter out in the night. He was shocked to find that the conference room window on the second floor of the mayor’s office had a perfect view of his school. Well, what was left of it anyway.

“Now we go ahead with the plan.” Mayor Allan Finch said as he too sipped from a glass. “You and I both know that school was a deathtrap Snyder. If anything this should have been done by the people of this town decades ago. The new one will be better.”

“So we’re going to rebuild.” Snyder said with a weary sigh. “What about the hellmouth? Won’t it just be as big a problem for the new school?”

“What?” Allan asked as he looked up to the man for the first time in a few hours. “Snyder the new school is already built across town and waiting for you to get it up and running. I need you to focus here. Your students will be starting up classes in a week or two. All the stuff you moved out of the old school has to be moved into your new one. You can handle that right?”

“What?” Snyder gaped in disbelief as the mayor’s words sunk in. “New school? Oh, of course I can handle running my new school Mr. Mayor. My new school. I like the sound of that.”

“Good.” Allan said as he went back to his scotch. “With that out of the way and the building over the hellmouth in rubble this town will be safer. For a while anyway.”

“What about the old school Mr. Mayor?” Snyder asked in a worried voice.

“I’ve already sold the land to Pentacle in exchange for the building they just donated to the city. In a year or so it will be Pentacle’s Sunnydale offices’ campus.” Allan said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Let those girls deal with building maintenance fees on top of the hellmouth for a change.”

“Pentacle?” Snyder asked before he realized the connection. “Rosenberg and Maclay sold you a new building? Why? What for?”

“For the new school Snyder.” Allan said with a small laugh. “Do keep up. We’re trying to fix this town for he better here.”

“Of course Mr. Mayor.” Snyder said while all but snapping to attention.

“I just hope this all pays off in the end.” Allan muttered to himself as he sipped his drink. “Thank the Goddess for the Slayers.”

********************

“I’m not gonna leave you.” Angel said as he came over to the bed in the center of Darla’s cheap motel room. The vampire was on the verge of tears as he sat beside the dying blonde. He had offered to bite her. Clinging to the vain hope that his soul might preserve some vestige of her humanity. Darla knew it wouldn’t.

She had resigned herself to her fate. On some level she actually felt acceptance of it. She had lived a long and bloody life, though not one without many, many pleasures. Darla knew now that she should have died long ago. She knew that going with what little grace she had left was the right thing to do. She would no longer run from the specter of death. She would embrace it.

“Every moment you have left, I’m going to be by your side.” Angel promised as he put his arms around her. “You’ll never have to be alone again.” She believed him. Darla melted into the arms of the man who had risked everything for her. The one who had been willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for her. There was nothing more that needed to be said. For the first time in over four hundred years Darla was at peace.

That peace was shattered as the door to the motel room caved in. Before either Angel or Darla knew it six Fyarl demons stomped their way into Darla’s room. Angel was swarmed in an instant. His lingering wounds from the trials were too severe to allow his resistance. One demon brought a gnarled fist hard across Angel’s face. Two others bound the vampire’s wrists with duct tape. Another clamped its clawed hands down on Angel’s shoulders.

The last two were what really concerned the vampire. Each grabbed onto one of Darla’s arms. They held her in place as their master casually strolled into the room. Angel recognized the sorcerer as soon as he waltzed up and kneeled before the restrained vampire. The man who had resurrected Darla smiled at Angel.

“Well here we are.” He said with all the smarmy false charm that typified his each and every mannerism. “How did that old ghost put it? You played the game magnificently. I hardly expected either of you to survive the trials, but here we are.”

Angel struggled in vain as he tried to lunge at the Englishman. Darla let out a pained whimper as she realized just what the sorcerer was up to. Angel sensed an all too familiar presence looming in the doorway behind him. Darla looked up and saw just who the sorcerer had brought along.

Drusilla all but floated into the room, her eyes locked on Darla. The blonde struggled helplessly as the deranged vampire drifted up to her. Angel used his last bit of strength to growl as he watched Drusilla sink her fangs into Darla’s neck. As the life was drained from Darla Drusilla laid her grandsire down on the bed. She sat beside the dying blonde and turned to face Angel for the first time since wafting into the room.

Their eyes met and Angel could only watch in horror and grief as Drusilla drew one razor sharp nail across the skin just above her breasts. The vampire brought the bloody fingernail up to her lips for a taste as crimson seeped from the thin cut at her chest. With cold, lifeless eyes locked on Angel Drusilla gentle wrapped one hand around the back of Darla’s head. She brought the blonde to her breasts to drink deeply from the self inflicted wound.

Ethan smirked as he loomed over Angel. He couldn’t help but offer one last jab to the champion who had put himself through hell with absolutely nothing to show for it. “You didn’t really think this could play out any other way, did you Dear Boy?”

_________________
Time and Time Again


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2016 2:22 pm 
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness... Nice plan to use the zombies and their "cake" to get rid of the smurfettes... I'm really wondering how W&T are going to react to news about Angel, Darla, Drusilla & Ethan... I'm starting to think that the Watcher's Council needs to learn the price of interfering W&T's plans...

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2016 11:08 pm 
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Huzzah, an update!

And the board seems to be behaving itself very slightly.

I find myself curious as to what the plan is with angel.
Unless the girls are just really really pissed at him for some reason.
Besides his creepy obsession with underage girls.

Ooo, the girls have big plans.
Big plans.

I can't wait! :bounce

R :flower

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How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2016 7:13 pm 
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Hi Zmapsa, hi Azirahael.

Going into this I knew the school had to go pretty much just like it did in the show, but waiting for the Mayor to slither through it didn't fit with any of the other plot contrivances I had planned out. So Zombies!

Willow and Tara and a good chunk of their law firm are going to react to Ethan's plans. At some point... Not just yet. Things still have to unfold a bit more. But there is a plan. Especially when it comes to Angel. There is a plan worked out for him and the girls are going to see it through.

And the watchers council is going to learn not to poke the bear. But not before losing a few fingers.

I have to apologize for the delay of this next entry. A few projects around the house have shot my writing schedule all to hell and this next chapter both kicked my ass and spiraled way out of control.

It spiraled so much that I had to split it into two parts. I'm hoping to post the second bit asap but until then please enjoy this first part of the next Sirens entry.

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Time and Time Again


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2016 7:28 pm 
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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've made it to Lois and Clark's wedding day. I know I might be giving too much screen time to an ancillary straight couple but it will pay off soonish. Also I may have gone and added a few extra characters to an already sprawling cast. Honestly, don't worry if you don't recognize most of them. Most of them are like the Dwarves in The Hobbit. There's a dozen but only three have names you need to remember.

If you really want more in depth knowledge of the supporting cast I actually recommend watching both seasons of Young Justice on Netflix and the first season of the new Supergirl show. But it's not necessary. The extra players are really set dressing for the main couple and their love story.

Also I had to break the meet and greet scenes before the ceremony and the reception scenes into two entries. I'll try and post the follow up as soon as possible. Until then, enjoy.

Spoiler:
P.S. I also took the Laurence Fishburne version of Perry White from the recent bad movies, because it honestly isn't his fault. He did the best he could with the script he was handed.


********************

Primer: Sirens

Willow = Dr. Harleen Quinzel = Harley Quinn = the blonde/blue eyes

Tara = Dr. Pamela Isley = Poison Ivy = the redhead/green eyes

Xander = Bruce Wayne = Batman

Anya = Selina Kyle = Catwoman

Buffy = Death of the Endless = From Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series and a few of her own trade paperback story arcs.

Dawn = Kyle Rayner = Green Lantern

Rupert Giles = Shade

Joyce = Joyce Rayner

********************

Sirens: Wedding Day Hijinks: The Preshow

“So are we doing this thing or what?”

“Yeah Tim.” Dick said as he went over the security feeds for the wedding and reception halls one last time. “We’re good to go. The guests are arriving and both the Titans and the Birds of Prey are in position.”

“Great work boys.” Bruce said as he walked up behind two of the orphans he had taken in. “Any signs of trouble so far?”

“No, but between the constant scanning from Cyborg, Raven, Red Tornado’s human looking drone, Kyle and the other five lanterns here, Kyle’s psychic girlfriend, J’onn’s psychic niece, and Jamie and his Blue Beetle tech we have the place covered.” Dick rattled off the excessive front line of the day’s security detail. He had no doubt that the lineup would be able to spot any trouble coming from several miles away. “We’ll be ready no matter what happens.”

“Good.” Bruce said as he let out a relieved sigh. “Good, Lois and Clark deserve for this day to go off without a hitch.”

“Don’t you mean with just the one hitch?” Tim asked, a sly grin on his young face.

“Very funny smartass.” Dick muttered as the butler who had raised them all walked into the room.

“Ah, Master Bruce, Masters Dick and Tim, I have just returned with Ms. Kyle, Ms. Isley and Ms. Quinn.” Alfred said as he strode up to the billionaire and the boys clustered around the security monitors. “They were quite amused to find out the location of the Metropolis waypoint.”

“I figured they’d get a kick out of where Star Labs stashed Clark’s personal teleport pad.” Bruce chuckled as he looked up to see his girlfriend on the security monitors. The blonde cat burglar was accompanied by the two infamous women who had made this day possible. Clark had been all too thankful for the motivational nightmare inflicted by the alien plant creature Harley had summoned. Bruce pondered whether the wedding had been a part of their plans all along or simply a happy coincidence. He could only hope that no such manipulations happened with his own relationship.

********************

“I can’t believe the Metropolis Zeta tube is in the back of a dive bar owned by a retired prize fighter.” Harley said as she, Ivy and Selina walked through the front door of the large reception hall. The venue attached to one of Metropolis’ most extravagant hotels would soon host a wedding with the most peculiar guest lists in history.

“Yeah, Bibbo is always going on about how much he likes having the League eat at the Ace o’ Clubs.” The cat burglar said as she led her friends through the main entrance to the luxury hotel into one of the halls running off the back of the lobby. They walked past a row of open ball rooms on their way to the main wedding venue. “He loves telling random people he’s Superman’s biggest fan and then showing them the picture on the wall of him bro hugging the big guy when they don’t believe him. The fact that it’s signed in Kryptonian gibberish always flies over people’s heads though.”

“So I take it the League eats there after missions.” Ivy said as she clasped Harley’s hand.

“Once a month at least.” Selina replied. “Soops himself eats there weekly. Bibbo gets a kick out of how none of the other regulars notice him order more or less the same meals in and out of costume.”

“Those glasses are probably the best mask in the business.” Harley admitted as they reached a changing room.

Selina opened the door and both women following her let out a surprised gasp. The dresses on the rack along the far wall were stunning. Neither woman had ever expected to see such tasteful gowns for such an occasion.

“Those are our Bridesmaids’ dresses?” Harley all but shouted in surprise.

“They’re beautiful.” Ivy whispered.

“And we’ve got you to thank for that.” Selina said as she led the psychiatrist and botanist into the changing room. “Lois was adamant about not having the dress colors clash with a certain eye catching redhead.”

“Oh.” Ivy said, cringing slightly at the admission. “I didn’t think.”

“Hey, don’t feel self-conscious about it Baby.” Harley whispered into a green ear hidden behind long red locks. “It just means she cares. Besides, you didn’t really want to wear some ugly pastel mess for the rest of the day did you?”

“I like them.” Selina said as she picked out the dress with her name printed on a tag clipped to the hanger. “You can never have enough strapless black ball gowns. Plus this little red sash at the waist is cute.”

“I bet the other girls are glad we’re in the bridal party.” Harley added as she grabbed both her dress and Ivy’s. “I once saw a wedding magazine with eighty pages of frumpy bridesmaids’ dresses, each one more of a frilly eye sore than the last. We’re lucky the reporter chose something that goes well with your gorgeous green curves Baby.”

“Alright, I get it.” Ivy said as Harley led her into the changing stall next to the one Selina had disappeared behind. “I won’t get all mopey over my looks on the one day when they actually help.”

“You are so unbelievably beautiful Baby.” Harley assured her Love. “Anyone who can’t see that is a moron.”

“I Love you Sweetie.” Ivy whispered back as Harley helped divest her Love of her red button down shirt and tight fitting shorts. Ivy joined in the effort by stripping the jean shorts and skin tight jersey tee shirt off her Love’s lithe frame. As they stood staring at each other in an awed daze a loud coughing came from the other side of the thin wall.

“Ahem! Don’t get too distracted in there with all that lesbianism and witchcraft you two!” Selina called out sarcastically. “We have to check in with bridezilla after changing. Plus they wanted Harl to check in on the groom and his boy band before the ceremony.”

“That’s not at all ominous.” Harley muttered with equal sarcasm and a deliberate eye roll.

“Come on Sweetie.” Ivy said as she stepped into her dress and pulled it up her long legs and curvy thighs. The emerald woman let out a surprised gasp and sucked in a short sigh as her Love’s nimble fingers trailed along her torso and helped secure the dress in place so that it best showed off Ivy’s ample assets. “Ha-Harley.” She let out in a whimper full of lust and frustration. “Of c-course you know this means war.”

“Promises, promises.” Harley said with a lurid smirk as she stepped into the puddle that was her own dress. Before the slender blonde could even think to lift the gown green hands delicately took over the task. Harley all but shrieked as her Love’s tongue trailed upwards well in advance of the bust line of her dress. The former psychiatrist couldn’t help but shudder as the teasing went well beyond anything she had hoped for that morning. “No fair.” She whimpered piteously as green lips trailed from her thighs all the way up to the most sensitive spots her neck had to offer.

“You’re right.” Ivy whispered as she trailed kisses up to Harley’s jaw and over to her lips. “This isn’t fair.” She said while zipping up the back of her Love’s dress. “But when has that ever stopped either of us?”

“You are so lucky you’re gorgeous and sexy and fuckable and kind and loving and hot and mouthwatering and fuckable and smart and witty and perfect in every way imaginable.” Harley warned her Love with an enthusiastic babble as Ivy took a step back.

“You said fuckable twice.” Selina called out form the other side of the curtain shrouding their changing stall.

“It bears repeating!” Harley shouted back. Ivy could only let the wide smirk put on her face by Harley’s words run its course. She couldn’t help but swoon a little as the enthusiastic fawning of her everything took on a decidedly ribald tone.

Ivy sighed as she took her Love’s hands in her own. “As much as I want to make you back those claims up we should really get out there.”

“Oh, right, yeah of course Baby.” Harley rattled off as she resigned herself to the busy schedule ahead. “Why are we doing this again?”

“Because two people who are very much in Love want to share their happiness with all the people who made it possible, and we kind of played a big part in helping the groom get over his cold feet.” Ivy replied as she took a moment to straighten Harley’s long blonde pigtails. “Also being on friendly terms with the guest list of this little hootenanny is of the good. We don’t need any more of them looking over our shoulders.”

“Curse the importance of our various and sundry nefarious schemes!” Harley shouted in overly campy mock indignation.

“You know the groom can probably hear you two, right?” Selina reminded them.

“Yeah we know.” Harley admitted before a playful smirk crossed her lips. She went on to talk in a slightly raised voice while looking towards the changing room ceiling. “Congrats on your big day Clark, and don’t worry about tonight. Just remember that the clitoris is the tiny nub hiding at the top of the vage and once you get it to come out to play just keep sucking on it. Then take two of your fingers and curl them in a come hither motion on the inside of Lois’ cooch. Most people use their pointer and middle finger but I’m a fan of the middle and ring fingers. The G-spot is inside along the top, about two knuckles deep, and feels like a round, bumpy, kinda spongy patch. Just keep running two fingers over the G-spot while sucking her clit as far down your throat as it will go and you’ll drive her crazy.”

“Oh my god!” Selina shouted as she and Ivy began to cackle at the groom’s expense.

“And for the Goddess’ sake swallow when your wife comes in your mouth!” Harley added in a more indignant tone. “No one likes a spitter!”

********************

“You okay son?” Jonathan Kent asked as he noticed a stunned and vacant look on his boy’s face.

“What’s the matter Clark?” Bruce asked as he and several of the other groomsmen gathered around the reporter. “Did someone off the guest list get past Barbara and the boys?”

“Oh god.” Clark Kent whispered before schooling his emotions and filing the helpful advice away for later. “I mean, nothing, I’m fine.”

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost Kent.” Perry White said as he looked the groom in the eye once more. The older chief editor of the Daily Planet had the same small smirk on his face that had been there all day. He more than suspected that his reporter had overheard something particularly interesting. Or possible mortifying if the expression on the man’s face was anything to go by.

“No, everything is good.” Clark assured the now worried men standing around the groom suite. “I just got some really great advice is all.”

********************

“I can’t believe you actually told that boy scout how to plow his wife later tonight.” Selina said with a laugh as she led Harley and Ivy down the hallway. They stopped at a door just a few yards away form the changing room. With yet another chuckle the cat burglar threw the door open and waltzed inside. “The love birds have arrived ladies.” She called out to the cluster of women in matching dresses around the room.

“Hi.” Harley said with an easy wave and a smile as she clutched Ivy’s green hand. “Long time no see…”

“Finally!” Lois called out from across the room as the two women at her side shot her withering glares while applying her makeup.

“You made it!” An overjoyed voice sounded off as the couple was engulfed in a devastating hug. “I still owe you girls drinks for freeing my dad.”

“We missed you too Zatanna.” Ivy assured the raven haired magician. “We were actually looking forward to meeting him for the first time.”

“He’s here!” The black haired magician said with abundant cheer in her voice. “He’s one of the groomsmen. He wants to thank you both himself.”

“As would I.” Another familiar voice said from behind Zatanna. Harley and Ivy looked up in surprise to see Wonder Woman smiling back at them while wearing one of the same bridesmaid dresses. “I have yet to properly thank you both for bringing Amy into my life.”

“Really?” Harley asked in clear astonishment. “Amy?”

“That’s wonderful Diana.” Ivy stepped in quickly before her Love’s questions could set off the Amazon’s mood.

“Amy Madison?” Harley asked again as Diana only laughed in return. “The witch that we ripped Circe out of?”

“Trust me Harley.” Diana said as she regained her compose. “None were more surprised than I, but after taking her to my homeland, helping her train her body and refocus her mind, Amy has more than won over my affections.”

“We’re so happy for you both.” Ivy said as Harley shook the confused look off her face. “It’s good to see all of you again.”

“Especially after the way things went sideways last time.” Harley added with a chuckle that was hastily returned by one blonde sitting off to the side.

“And boy did they go sideways.” Dinah Lance said as she stood to greet Harley and Ivy with a forced smile. “Ollie and I never even saw it coming.”

“You weren’t the one picking leaves and twigs out of your hair for what seemed like days.” Selina grumbled as she recalled the one sided struggle she and the rest of the League suffered while under the control of the Legion of Doom.

“Sorry Selina.” Ivy replied with just enough concern to sound sincere. “The plants seemed like the best chance I had to end things peacefully.”

“I’m over it.” Selina said as she strolled across the room and took a vacant seat beside Lois and the two unknown women.

“I should do a sweep, just in case.” Dinah said as she gave Harley and Ivy another smile. Her second attempt seemed much more sincere.

“I’ll join you. Can’t have too many Lanterns on patrol.” Carol Ferris said a she quickly moved to join the other woman.

“Oh please, we’re safe as houses. There are six lanterns from two different color guards here.” Lois said with an amused laugh. “Plus all the kids and sidekicks are sweeping the building nonstop.”

Carol let a smile play across her lips at the bride’s faith in the heroes throughout the building. “Still.” She told the bride, knowing full well that as the leader of the Lantern Corps powered by Love she bore a greater duty than most to ensure that the ceremony went smoothly. On her way out the leader of the Star Sapphire Corps gave both of her fellow Lanterns a nod and a smile. “It was good seeing you both again.”

“Likewise Carol.” Ivy said as Harley snapped to attention and saluted the retreating brunette.

“What the hell was all that about?” Asked the slightly older blonde at Lois’ side. “She was completely normal until you two came in.”

“Oh don’t blame Carol.” Harley said with a smirk that could terrify most witnesses. “She’s just worried we’ll stage a coup and steal her job.”

“She’s kinda supposed to be our boss.” Ivy added at the wide eyed looks of astonishment on both women standing beside Lois. “She’s in charge of our Corps but we don’t really bother reporting in.” A slight pause in the botanist’s explanation drove the point home. “Ever.”

“Plus we know all her best tricks and a few that she’ll probably never figure out.” Harley added with a smug grin as she walked closer to the bride and the two unknown women. “Hell, I bet she’s still trying to figure out all the neat stuff the Love Star can do.”

“That giant pink Death Star parody in the night sky was you two?” The shorter brunette at Lois’ side was all but overcome with shock as she just stared at the two women who had waltzed into the Bridal Suite like they owned the place.

“One of my network affiliates covered the battle in Belém.” The taller blonde said. “You two ladies caused quite the stir that day.”

“Thank you stranger.” Harley said with a flourish and an exaggerated bow. “So Lois, were you going to introduce us to your charming and flabbergasted friends?”

“With pleasure Harley.” Lois said as the two women paused in their prep work. “I needed some help rounding out my side of the wedding party. So after getting shot down by old college friends I was completely surprised and relieved when Cat Grant and my little sister Lucy stepped up.”

“Like I’d miss your wedding.” Lucy Lane said as she straightened out her big sister’s dress. “We may not have been on the best of terms after college but you’re still my sister LoLo.”

“I love you too Luce.” Lois replied with a warm smile.

Cat simply rolled her eyes. “How touching Lanes.” The gossip columnist turned dour CEO said. “Seriously though. If you want this finished in time stop fidgeting.”

“I can’t believe I’m getting married in a few hours.” Lois said as awe snuck into her voice.

“I can.” Harley said as Ivy took a seat by Selina. The former psychiatrist quickly plopped down in her Love’s lap.

Ivy smiled as she stroked Harley’s back. “You both deserve all the happiness in the world Lois.”

“Gives a whole new meaning to the term star-crossed.” Harley added with a laugh that was joined by Cat Grant’s snide snickering. Before anyone could ask just what the media mogul found so amusing the door opened to reveal two new redheads.

One of the new redheads was in her mid twenties, with glasses, carrying a small tablet device. She wore a modest black dress that was distinct from the ones sported by the women in the wedding party, yet conservative enough to not steal attention from the elegant white gown the Bride wore. The other woman was taller, dressed in a long flowing light blue gown with a small gold tiara atop her head and carried herself with an odd combination of aloof dignity and gravitas that set her apart from the other women. Her swollen belly also added something to her entrance.

“Queenie!” Harley shouted in joy as she leapt up to greet the pregnant redhead. “You don’t call you don’t write. Plus you’re about ready to pop. Your hubby get the nursery ready yet?”

“Dear Harley.” The regal woman said with a light laugh and a kiss to each of Harley’s cheeks. “It has been too long. My boorish husband hardly ever brings dinner guests to the palace anymore. Even with the added security during my pregnancy I am lacking in good surface world gossip.”

“That might be my fault Queen Mera.” Ivy said as she stood to clasp hands with the Queen of Atlantis. “I can get a little crabby when I go without sunlight for too long.”

“More’s the pity.” Mera said as she kissed two emerald cheeks just as easily as she had pale ones an instant ago. “Still, you two always have a standing invitation to tour the royal palace. After the gift you bestowed to my nation our people have entered into a new renaissance, and renewed contact with the surface world is nice too.” With a sly grin the Queen turned to face the bride sitting across the room. “Contact which has allowed me to join in wishing two dear friends all the happiness in the world.”

“I’m honored that you came your highness.” Lois said as she tried to stand and greet the Queen properly.

Mera simply put out her hands and halted the reporter’s movements. “It is my pleasure Lois.” She told the bride with a smile and a reassuring hand on Lois’ bare shoulder. “I am honored to be invited to bear witness to your betrothal. And you will call me Mera. Women like us are too few these days. Rare are those who could hope to tame such bold and headstrong mates.”

“I’ll drink to that.” Selina said as she raised a tall thin champagne glass from one of the side tables near her chair.

“Are you sure you’ve completely tamed Bruce?” Zatanna teased the cat burglar only to turn her head as Ivy and Harley burst into laughter.

“Oh she’s got him wrapped around her finger alright!” Harley told them all. “Always has, but old Brucie isn’t nearly as whipped as Clark. Kudos for that Lois.”

“Thanks Harl.” Lois replied as Cat switched out makeup brushes.

“What about just now when Harley called you Queenie, your highness?” Lucy asked. For a moment she wondered how the Atlanteans viewed the relationship shared by the two odd Star Sapphires.

“She has tamed the great Poison Ivy has she not?” Mera asked in turn with a sly smirk.

“Oh yeah.” Ivy agreed as her hands found their way to wrap around Harley’s waist. “And then some.” She then turned to the younger redhead who had entered along with Mera. “And how are you doing Ms. Gordon?”

“Can’t complain Ivy.” The young woman said as she walked over to take a seat beside Zatanna and Diana. “Though I’m sure you and your Girl Friday there have something in the works that will no doubt supply me with a massive headache before turning out just fine in the end.”

“Maybe later Babs.” Harley admitted with another grin. “But for right now we just have to get Little Miss Thang here down the isle and off to the honeymoon. World domination can wait a day or two. Am I right Cat?”

“Damn straight!” Cat grant shot back with a laugh.

“So you’ve met Barbara before?” Lucy asked Harley and Ivy. The chuckling coming from the blonde was enough to raise her concerns until Ivy volunteered the obvious answer.

“I’ve had my share of run ins with her father over the years.” Ivy said. “How is the Commissioner by the way?”

“Daddy is doing just fine Ivy.” Barbara Gordon admitted. “He’s here as my plus one by the way and mentioned wanting to see the two of you.”

“Got any outstanding parking tickets Baby?” Harley wondered out loud.

“Maybe a few arrest warrants.” Ivy admitted with a sheepish smile.

“Pretty sure he wanted to thank you girls for making his job easier.” Barbara went on as she found a champagne glass of her own.

“How did two reformed criminals make Gotham City’s police commissioner’s job easier?” Lucy asked as Zatanna and Diana shared a look.

“Taking out the Joker for one.” Barbara said. “With him gone the city is on the mend and he can focus on rounding up lesser crazies like the Queen of Hearts.”

“Ooh, I don’t think we’ve heard of her.” Harley asked the cop’s daughter with renewed interest. “Is she new on the scene?”

“Not really anymore.” Barbara replied while barely suppressing a smirk. “The Queen popped up about a month of so after you two moved out of the city. Wasn’t really that active until Batman took out a few of the crime families and you took out the Joker.” She paused for a moment to consider the odd villain. “But it’s nothing the Birds of Prey or the Gotham arm of the Titans can’t handle.”

Cat cut in with a brief chuckle. “Speaking of child soldiers and how much they can handle, I was surprised to find so many kids around Carter’s age on the guest list.”

“Well you know how orphans are with strays.” Lois told her maid of honor. “Clark and his buddies practically draw the poor kids in like magnets. I know all the ones adopted by Selina’s boy toy and I wanted at least a few more loving families in the crowd today.”

“I don’t know if Bruce Wayne counts as a boy toy.” Lucy said as she went to work on her sister’s hair.

“Oh he so does.” Barbara said with such certainty that Cat, Harley, Ivy, Lois and Diana couldn’t help but laugh. Selina only smiled smugly as the odd praise of her relationship status lifted the spirits of everyone in the room.

Lucy looked around the room and realized just how many members of the bridal party ranged from high profile to downright infamous. “So Sis, what was the excuse you had for this incredibly odd guest list again?”

“Well Lucy, I just so happen to be a world renowned reporter who is marrying another reporter that is only slightly less renowned for his reporting.” Lois had an almost smug grin on her face as she told the younger brunette. “And we just so happen to have interviewed a lot of high profile individuals. If anyone asks why we invited them to stand by us at the altar well, we’re going with the story that we both like the drama.”

“You’re a terrible liar Lane.” Cat said as she took a break from applying Lois’ makeup and joined Lucy in the effort to get the Bride’s hair just right. “So is your farm boy now that I think about it.”

“Speaking of your betrothed I recall a few of his groomsmen wished to speak with Harley.” Mera said as she stood once more. “It is also high time I collect my King to make the rounds among the other guests. I shall escort you my dear.”

“Duty calls.” Harley said as she climbed out of Ivy’s lap. Before the green skinned woman could protest her Love spun around and captured her lips in a delightfully possessive kiss. “I’ll see you before the ceremony Baby.”

Ivy let out a slow whimper as she watched her Love saunter out of the Bridal Suite on the arm of the literal Queen of the Mermaids. A moment passed before she recalled just how many other women were still in the room with her.

“Wow.” Lucy Lane said with a surprised whistle. “I didn’t actually believe it until just now.”

“Be nice Luce.” Lois warned her sister as Ivy schooled her emotions and leaned back in her chair.

“No, I’m just saying I had no idea.” Lucy went on. “The media coverage from two years ago when they first ran off together never really showed that the relationship was so…”

“Real?” Cat asked as she fixed the younger brunette with a glare.

“Intimate?” Diana asked as she leaned back and continued to watch with pride as the women of man’s world bantered back and forth about things other than men for a rare moment.

“Loving!” Lucy snapped back with just a hint of challenge in her voice. “I was going to say loving.”

“Well Harley is so easy to Love.” Ivy whispered almost to herself. Her voice had a shy quality to it that stole the fire from the chatter going back and forth just above Lois’ hair. “Incredibly easy to Love.”

“You guys make a great couple.” Zatanna assured Ivy just as it seemed the botanist would lose herself in thoughts of her Love.

“I know.” Ivy said at last before looking up to the bride and other bridesmaids with a smile. None of them truly understood the depths of her commitment to the slender blonde. Her utter devotion. Even so, it was still nice that the odd assortment of old friends and new acquaintances was more than supportive of the relationship that defined Ivy’s ever evolving cycle of lives.

********************

“So on the way here we noticed the fleet sitting in the Metropolis Bay.” Harley said as she walked beside the pregnant queen. “They must have wanted to pull out all the good toys for your protection detail. I’m a little surprised you managed to come to the surface at all with your due date being so close.”

“I was as well.” Mera admitted as she let one hand rest on her swollen belly. “At first the Admirals wouldn’t hear of it. But after Orin told them of the bride and groom’s guest list it was easy enough to convince them of the safety measures in place. That and our own forces lending aid to the security here.”

“How are Tula and the boys by the way?” Harley asked Mera as they turned a corner and walked down one slightly narrow hallway.

“Tula is magnificent for her age.” The Queen said with more than a little pride in her voice. “She is one of the most gifted students I have ever trained in the mystical arts. Garth and Kaldur’ahm are progressing as well, though they are still a couple of brash young men so one can’t expect miracles. Though all three are gifted in their own unique ways. My husband only had to tell the Admirals that the trio would be joining the Batman’s children in guarding this wedding hall and their concerns for my safety evaporated.”

“That’s great.” Harley replied with a genuine smile. “I always get a kick out of how you and your husband’s squires hold such high ranks when it comes to your military. Plus the fact that your ranking military leaders know not to question the Bat and his kids is fun too. I can’t tell you how many surface dwellers have lost everything by underestimating those kids.”

“Believe me, my husband has spent hours drilling into those old men the need to respect the members of the League.” Mera added with a sigh. “Not one of them is foolish enough to ignore a tactician like the legendary Batman. And if any simpleton ever makes that mistake there are countless naval officers waiting to ascend the ranks.”

A moment passed before the Queen looked to Harley again. “I am unfamiliar with surface world bonding rituals. My husband and all the other groomsmen will be walking down the aisle beside you and the bridesmaids correct?”

“Yes Mera.” Harley said. “I think they have a lineup planned but I have to check.”

“I was wondering about who would be on Orin’s arm while I am watching from the crowd.” Mera said in a more speculative tone. She sighed before looking down to her belly. “Not that I wished to stand for the duration of the ceremony in this condition. Otherwise I’m sure Lois would have asked for my participation.”

“Of course.” Harley said before giving the question more thought. “I think they’re gonna have Ivy on your hubby’s arm for the walk up to the altar. Get a kinda feng shui balance thing going on. The King of the high seas and the Goddess of the earth and forests ushering in new Love.”

“I hadn’t thought of that. How poetic.” Mera admitted before giving Harley another glance. “So your Ivy is a Goddess now?”

“She’s always been my Goddess.” Harley replied in a voice that provided the Queen with absolute certainty as to the depths of their Love.

The two women came to an unmarked door. Harley paused as Mera knocked before speaking in a loud and authoritative voice. “I hope you surface men are decent in there! The penalties for flashing the Queen of Atlantis are as gruesome as they are bloody!”

The door opened to reveal an older man with short trimmed white hair and a reserved yet polite expression. “Greetings your highness. Ms. Quinn.” Alfred said as he stepped aside to allow the two women entry.

“My Queen!” The King of Atlantis shouted as Mera came into his view.

“My King.” Mera said in a demure yet noticeably upbeat tone. “It is time for another royal tour, and my child and I have been without companionship for too long.”

“It would be my honor my love.” King Orin said as he linked arms with his wife and turned to face the blonde psychiatrist. “A pleasure as always Harley.”

“You too big guy.” Harley said with an overt wink to the flamboyant royal couple. The King and Queen strode from the groom suite and towards the reception hall where guests were gathering in large numbers. In their wake they left the former psychiatrist with the groom and more than a few groomsmen who were still visibly shaken by the Queen’s grizzly threat. “Well she’s as fun as she always is.” Harley said before turning to face the flabbergasted men all dressed in matching tuxedos.

“I’ll say.” Bruce Wayne replied with a slight nod towards Harley. “Good to see you again Quinn. I take it your other half is here as well?”

“You know she is Bruce.” Clark Kent said as he struggled to straighten out the bow tie at his neck. “Glad you two could make it Harley.”

“Hi Clark, Bruce. Glad to be here for the big day.” Harley greeted the two before giving the other groomsmen a second glance. “Well damn you’ve got just about all the founding members in here don’t cha?”

“How did she?” Asked one nervous looking red headed man standing off to the side with a dour looking square jawed brunette man and an equally dour looking ebony skinned man with a crew cut.

“She can read auras.” A much more pleasantly smiling ebony man with even shorter hair said as he extended a hand in greeting. “It’s good to see you again Harley.”

“You too J’onn.” Harley replied while taking his hand in both of hers. A moment passed before Harley glanced over the Martian’s shoulder to find a dapper looking older man with a thin mustache and jet black hair that was just starting to turn gray at the temples. “I hear you’ve been looking forward to meeting me and my girlfriend.”

“Quite right Dr. Quinzel.” Zartara said as he bowed to the woman who saved his life. “I have so much to thank the both of you for.”

“Please call me Harley.” The woman said as she stepped forward and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “I know a few things about losing yourself inside of an ancient mystical force. It sucks.”

“Indeed.” Zatara said with a smile as he straightened up and looked into the woman’s eyes for the first time. “Nabu may have been necessary for a few of the League’s battles, but I can’t say I miss him.”

“Well it’s a good thing that there are two semi professional witches willing to take up any magical subcontracting work the League has to offer.” Harley replied with a smirk that actually drew a slight smile from the magician. “Plus the magical father daughter team already on the roster of course.”

“Of course.” Zatara agreed with a lighthearted laugh.

Harley then turned back to the groom and the two new faces at his side. She smiled as she realized just who the men were likely to be. “So we haven’t met, but I’m sure Clark was going to introduce me to you two gentlemen.” She said as she approached the tall muscular man with a clean shaven head and light mahogany skin and the much older man with a similar skin tone offset by his almost shaved off graying black hair and thin beard.

“Where are my manners?” Clark asked as he pulled his attention away from the struggle with his bow tie. “Harley these are two of my closest friends from the Daily Planet. Jimmy Olsen, our prize winning photojournalist, and Perry White. Chief editor of the entire operation.”

“A pleasure.” Jimmy Olsen said as he stepped forward to shake Harley’s hand. “Clark hasn’t really said all that much about you.”

“Oh what’s there to tell.” Harley replied with a dismissive wave. “I’m the disgraced psychologist that helped Poison Ivy escape from Arkham Asylum and then disappeared with her on the high seas for months on end before accidentally getting our hands on two alien super weapons of unimaginable power.”

Silence fell across the room as all eyes turned to the grinning woman. No one knew how to respond to that particular stretch of babble. The looks of horror and bewilderment on the faces of both Green Lanterns, the Flash and Green Arrow were enough to still any reply. That they were joined by mixtures of incredulity and chagrin from Superman, Batman, Martian Manhunter, Zatara the Magician and Jimmy Olsen only added fuel to the fire. It was a minor miracle that Alfred maintained a stoic bulwark throughout the conversation and the ensuing silence. Thankfully the unsettling miasma of quiet dread was shattered by jovial laughter.

“Oh my god!” Perry White said after letting out deep guffaws of laughter that stunned the other men into diverting their eyes from the lone woman. “You and Lane were right Kent! This guest list is going to be better than any fireworks show I’ve seen in years.”

“I aim to please Mr. White.” Harley said as she pulled up a chair. The mood settled as everyone returned to watching the one bit of odd entertainment in the middle of the room. The strongest man alive was trapped in a ceaseless grudge match with an uncooperative length of black fabric.

“Damn this bow tie.” Clark muttered as Bruce and Jimmy suppressed the urge to chuckle at the Kryptonian and his daunting task.

“So just before I left the Bridal Suite Carol and Dinah said they were going to mingle with the crowd before the ceremony starts.” Harley said while deliberately not looking at Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen. “It would be a shame if some suave billionaire or statuesque Amazon were to sweep either of those ladies off their feet before the day even got started.”

“Shit.” Hal Jordan muttered to himself before standing and almost racing out the door. Oliver Queen looked from the now open doorway the man had disappeared through and then back to Harley who casually sipped from a wine glass Alfred had offered her on a serving tray. The archer’s head swung back and forth between the doorway and the woman. A moment of frantic hesitation passed until he scurried out the door before anyone could tell him otherwise.

“That was mean.” J’onn said with a far too amused undertone to his voice.

For his part John Stewart, the remaining Green Lantern in the room, sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose in exasperation. “Well I might as well go do another scan if those chuckleheads are that distracted.” The ebony skinned Lantern marched to the door and closed it on his way out. Laughter filled the room almost the instant the door was shut.

“Oh that has got to be your best superpower.” Perry White said as his laughter burst forth yet again.

“It’s up there.” Harley admitted with a wicked smile. “My Baby is way better at it than I am, but that might just be because of her whole weaponized pheromone thing.”

“So what else was going on in the Bridal Suite?” Jimmy asked with renewed interest. “I can’t imagine things are going easy between Lois and Cat.”

“Oh it can’t be all that bad.” Clark said as he renewed his struggle with the bow tie. “Lois and Cat like to put on a big show of actively despising each other, but when no one is looking they are as open and kind as two friends can be.”

“No way!” Jimmy said as Perry simply nodded along with the groom’s sentiment. “Really?”

“Oh yeah.” Perry told his best photographer. “Big time.”

“They may act cold and distant or indignant and contemptuous, but they really just have this close, kind of scary, bond.” Clark went on before undoing the bow tie and starting over from scratch.

“I’ve known a bunch of chicks with relationships like that.” Harley said causing more than a few heads to turn her way. “But I’m still always shocked when I find out that they’re just gal pals.”

“Just gal pals you say?” Bruce Wayne asked as he looked to the psychiatrist. “As opposed to what?”

“On the down low.” Harley replied but paused as she took in the wide eyed expressions of the men all around her. “I mean something more than just friends, you know? More intimate like, like…”

“Secret girlfriends.” J’onn said as the woman’s explanation trailed off.

“Exactly!” Harley practically shouted before going on. “I’m always surprised when I figure out that they aren’t secretly dating each other.”

“Thank god Cat isn’t Lois’ type.” Clark said as all of his groomsmen took Harley’s explanation with varying levels of bewilderment and surprise. An uneasy quiet fell over the room as more than a few men wondered just what else might be going on in the Bridal Suite.

********************

“Everything checks out on this sweep.” Cyborg said as Dick Grayson came up to stand beside him. “I’m gonna calibrate my scans to a higher spectrum.”

“Great work Victor. I just checked in with Barbara before she escorted the Queen to the Bridal Suite. She has Raven doing with magic all the things you’re doing with tech. So far there’s no sign of trouble.” Dick assured the ebony skinned young man. “And it’s good to see that you got the hologram running in time.”

“Kaldur, Garth and Tula offered a magic spell fix but I wanted to prove I could do this myself. Couldn’t let the sight of a dude with half a metal face and way too many robot parts mess up the wedding album.” Cyborg admitted before looking over Dick’s shoulder at a group of three boys rapidly approaching. “That seems like trouble.”

“What’s going… well crap.” Dick began to ask but faltered as he turned around and saw the boy he had passed the mantel of Robin down to. “Hey Tim, who’s this?”

“Dick!” Tim Drake practically shouted as he and two other boys ran up to the young man. “You know Billy Batson right?”

“Howdy.” Billy said with a quick wave and a far from inconspicuous wink to Dick.

Dick just rolled his eyes. The reveal that Captain Marvel was a magical construct conjured from the dreams and aspirations of a ten year old boy was just one of many recent turns that had shocked the entire League as well as the two support teams. “Yeah I know all about Billy.” Dick finally told Tim while staring at the third boy of the group. “Who is your new friend?”

“Hi.” The new boy said with a timid wave. “I’m Carter grant.” He all but whispered his name. The quiet admission was still loud enough to noticeably widen Dick’s eyes. The young man who led the Titans did not expect to find the son of the infamous media mogul mingling with his teammates.

“Carter is awesome!” Tim went on to gush about his new friend. “You think Bruce and Alfred will let him hang out the next time his mom comes to Gotham?”

“I don’t know.” Dick admitted as he looked between the three boys staring up at him with ever more pleading looks in their eyes. “You’ll both have to ask Bruce and Ms. Grant.”

“Probably Selina too.” Victor chuckled as another young couple walked up to the group. “How’d things go on your end Kyle?”

“We’re clear on the outer perimeter.” Kyle Rayner said as he and his fiancé Cassie shared looks with Dick and Victor. “We were gonna check the gifts table one more time before the groom’s parents get here. I’m pretty sure the big guy wants me to hang around them for the rest of the day.”

“God knows we can’t let anything happen to the Kents while this powder keg of a wedding is set to go off.” Dick grumbled to himself.

“I have a good feeling about today.” Cassie said in a tone that almost concealed the extent of her foreknowledge. The mild cover was quickly undone as she looked directly at Dick and gave him the most blatant and glaringly obvious of winks.

“Come on Carter, Billy.” Tim said as he realized his foster brother was more than preoccupied with running security for the big event. “Lets go watch the band set up for the reception later.”

“Cool.” Carter said in a way that left the young heroes all around him thinking he was far too easily impressed. Before anyone could question the young trio they were off and running.

“Oh no.” Cassie muttered under her breath.

“What is it Babe?” Kyle asked the young blonde. “Vibes?” Before she could answer her feet were carrying her across the floor of the reception hall. The young men followed in her wake and quickly found her looming over the gifts table.

“Oh no.” Cassie continued to mutter to herself as she began to sift through the piles of wrapped presents. “No. No this is no good. This will not do. Not at all.”

“Kyle what is it?” Dick asked in a more concerned tone as he noticed both Raven and Jamie Reyes walking up to join them. Both had dour looks on their faces.

“We just got a ping.” Jamie said as his hands were quickly covered by a dark blue substance that formed gauntlets over his skin. The visually striking shift in apparel looked like something out of a cheesy sci-fi movies.

“Ah ha!” Cassie shouted as she lifted a small, unassuming box above her head. Her voice lowered several octaves and grew desperate as the heroes stared at her in confusion. “We need to get rid of this right now!”

“What’s in the bo…” Dick’s question was cut off as a loud beeping sound came from Victor who stood by his left side and a low humming sound came from Jamie off to his right.

Raven’s eyes filled with shadows as they often did while she worked her magic. “Oh Goddess no.” Raven said as the color returned to her eyes. “She’s right. Get that thing out of here this second.”

“My Blue Beetle tech is picking up very low level radiation coming form that gift.” Jamie said as he raised one slightly glowing blue glove up to the box cradled in Cassie’s hands. “Why does it feel like I’ve studied this chemical structure before?”

“Because you have.” Victor said as his own scans finished. “It’s kryptonite.”

********************

“Well the kids just reported in a threat they’ve already handled.” Bruce told Harley and the rest of the groomsmen still in the room. “Somebody thought it would be funny to give Clark a sampler pack of Kryptonite.”

“Oh, I just got word of what Barbara is saying to Ivy and the girls.” Harley said as her ring let out a soft pink glow. “There was a note with the gift. It said, “Hey there buddy congrats on getting the girl. Here’s a little something in case her ex comes sniffing around again.” She paused to consider what her ring was showing her alone. “It looks like it was written in professional calligraphy.”

“Well thank god the kids took care of that whole mess.” Said the redheaded man standing off to the side.

“It has already been stored in John Smith’s shielded chest cavity.” J’onn J’onzz added as he got a far away look.

“Oh, is that the tall, white, bald guy who doesn’t have an aura?” Harley asked. “We passed him on the way in. He’s Red Tornado’s remote controlled drone or something isn’t he?”

All around the room stunned men shot more than a few horrified looks Harley’s way. The redheaded man practically cringed as his head snapped back and forth between the woman and Perry White. “She’s not wrong.” The ebony newspaper editor said in a casual tone as he checked his phone.

“So wait, he has an empty chest compartment for storage, like Bender from Futurama style?” Harley asked the room. J’onn, Bruce and Clark burst into another fit of laughter that was soon joined by Jimmy and Zatara. Alfred let a slight smile curl his lips while doing his best to maintain a professional demeanor. Even the yet unnamed redhead did little to hide his amused reaction.

“Oh, I needed that.” Clark said as the laughter died down. “Thanks Harley. Bruce, tell the kids they did great. It would have really sucked to die while opening presents with Lois.”

“Might not have just killed you.” Bruce said with far less cheer in his voice. “It was a sampler pack.”

“Oh, right. There are a bunch of different flavors of kryptonite.” Harley said as she did her best to recall ancillary facts from old comics she had been shown many lifetimes ago. “Everyone in the multiverse knows what green does and most also know about red. I’m blanking on the others.”

“Everyone in the multiverse? What the hell is that supposed to mean?” The redheaded man asked with a more than incredulous tremor to his voice.

“It’s a past lives slash alternate dimension thing.” Clark said, only drawing further confused looks out of some of the men present. “Apparently most of us are famous cartoon characters in a bunch of Harley and Ivy’s past lives.”

“No way.” Jimmy Olsen said as he and Perry White shared concerned looks.

Harley smiled before going into an explanation that would surely cause a few of the men around her to question their world views. “In most worlds Superman’s comic book has been in publication on and off since the forties.” She paused to think the dates over for a moment before going on. “Maybe the late thirties. I can never remember. Batman’s too now that I think about it. People know about kryptonite. Many people refer to things they can’t handle, can’t overcome or just plain make them horny as their own personal kryptonite. For example Ivy’s smile is my kryptonite.”

“Apparently the gift contained green, red and pink.” Bruce said as he tried to overlook the absurdity of the conversation.

“Oh god those are my three least favorite flavors of kryptonite.” Clark muttered as it looked like he was about to finally get the upper hand on his bow tie.

“I heard about red and what happened to Superman after his exposure.” The redheaded man said before looking back to Clark. “What does pink do again?” He asked. Harley couldn’t help but smile as she noticed Jimmy visibly cringing at the mention of the rare substance.

“Oh you guys have no idea how annoying my last run in with pink kryptonite was.” Clark began to explain.

********************

Loud cackles of laughter filled the Bridal Suite. Anyone passing by the closed door would have grown concerned if not for the fact that the Bride was the source of the loudest laughter.

“So then I walk into our apartment and the lights are turned down low. I turn a corner and right there in the middle of our living room is a shirtless Jimmy Olsen tied to a chair!” Lois went on to tell the women gathered around. “I’m about to run up and untie him when Clark in his full costume floats between us. He had this panicked look in his eyes and he starts talking in this concerned monotone. “Lois, this, this isn’t what it looks like.” He said just as Jimmy screamed out “Lois! Help me!” I was about to shove my way past Smallville when he says the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“What did he say?” Selina was practically on the edge of her seat.

Ivy and Cat shared a look as they noticed Lucy Lane’s horrified grimace grow more and more tortured as her sister’s story went on.

Lois smirked wickedly before she continued with the tale. She immediately put a dour expression on her face and lowered her voice to try and portray the stern yet confused tone her fiancé had used that day. “I was thinking we could have a three way.”

Nearly all the women in the room burst into laughter once more as the tale of Clark’s last encounter with pink kryptonite was retold. Even Lucy failed to stifle a giggling fit of her own. It was a long time before they each stopped long enough to draw in fresh breath. Lois continued once all eyes were on her again.

“So I just look at him and roll my eyes.” The bride explained. “I said, “With Jimmy? Clark we talked about this! Did you even try to contact with Zoe Saldana or Halle Berry?”

“Oh my god you didn’t.” Zatanna cried out with another laugh.

“Oh she did.” Cat said with a delighted smirk. “You girls have no idea what Lane is capable of.”

“Quiet you!” Lois snapped at Cat. “I can’t have you spreading lies about old times around all these ladies. Where was I? Oh, that’s right. Jimmy was tied up and screaming, “Lois! Help! He’s crazy! Get me out of here!” So then Clark just puts a finger on Jimmy’s lips and whispers “Hush now my chocolate Adonis.” in the deepest come hither voice I’ve ever heard. I seriously think pink kryptonite messes with his voice box of something while messing with his libido.”

Laughter erupted again as Lois wrapped up the story. Few of the women in the Bridal Suite could contain themselves once they learned the embarrassing story about the iconic hero.

“Well at least you both have the same type.” Diana said with a smug grin as she sipped from her glass.

“Yeah, who would have thought that these two have a thing for gorgeous African Americans.” Cat added with just as much smug satisfaction as the Amazon. Several women continued to laugh at the bride’s expense.

“Yeah, yeah.” Lois muttered as Cat came close to finishing her hair.

Barbara realized something as the laughter went on. She gave both Cat and Lucy an appraising look before turning back to Lois with what seemed like a pertinent question. “Lois, is it really a good idea to talk about kryptonite and your ex on your wedding day?”

“What?” Lois asked as she looked to the redhead. “Barbara, Cat and Lucy are both in the know.”

“Please.” Cat scoffed. “I spotted that over muscled alien masquerading as a farm boy in our newsroom weeks before you caught on Lane. What an all powerful alien is doing rubbing his secret identity in the faces of the international press all day is beyond me. I could hardly stand my time there. Why he would willingly subject himself to it for so many years is beyond me.”

“Everyone needs a hobby.” Ivy said with a much softer expression. The possible explanation raised another laugh from one of the bridesmaids.

“Can you imagine if he had picked stamp collecting instead of being a news reporter?” Zatanna practically fell out of her chair at the absurd idea before going on in an equally absurd monotone. “What is that fiendish Lex Luthor doing now? I can’t stop him today. I just found the last blue jay stamp for my… what the hell do they call their stamp, book, things? Scrapbooks?”

“God that would suck for all of us.” Cat muttered as Lois and Lucy just nodded along. “Can you imagine trusting the fate of the entire planet to an anal retentive stamp collector from Kansas? There would be rioting in the streets if people ever found out.”

“And when did your sister find out Lois?” Selina asked as she watched Lucy fidget nervously.

“A few months ago.” Lois went on in a much more restrained tone. “She came by to bury the hatchet and Clark was, well…”

“It’s not important.” Lucy said as a panicked look crossed her eyes.

“Oh my god.” Selina let out a gasp as she closely watched the two sisters’ expressions. “She walked in on the two of you idiots while he was still in his costume!”

“Just the cape and the boots.” Lucy admitted quietly.

“Lucy!” Lois all but screamed in a panic.

“Oh enough with that.” Cat snapped at the two of them as a round of uncontrollable giggling swept through the room. “So your little sister got to see his big, muscular, farm boy ass. Everyone has an embarrassing story about walking in on family. It’s called having a social life!”

“You guys would not believe the number of times Harley and I have almost been walked in on.” Ivy muttered in between sips of champagne. “Thank the Goddess for mystical alarm wards.”

“That sound like cheating.” Selina shot a glare at the green woman.

“It is.” Zatanna said before raising one hand in the air half way between Ivy and herself. The green witch met her half way and many of the other bridesmaids just rolled their eyes at the far too proud high five.

“Anyway, I was worried at first but got over it.” Lucy went on. “He makes my sister happy. That’s all that matters. Plus she’s totally got him whipped.” Lucy added with a sharp whipping sound and quick flick of her wrist through the air over her head. “Why would I ruin that for her?” Laughter filled the room once more as Lucy’s rhetorical question went unanswered. A moment later Lucy gave Barbara a pointed look and asked her own question of the redhead. “And just what did the daughter of Gotham City’s police commissioner have to do to be included in the big secret?”

“Oh don’t worry about Babs Lucy.” Ivy said in a far too casual tone that silenced Barbara’s retort. “Her night job is a lot more exciting than she lets on.”

“And just what would you know about my night job Poison Ivy?” Barbara asked with a newly threatening edge to her voice.

“Oh please Sweetie.” Ivy replied with a dismissive wave. “Harley and I pretty much know about everyone important who dons a mask.” She paused for a moment before admitting the one major identity that hadn’t concerned them as much as the others. “Except for maybe the Flash, and that’s just because his mask gets passed around more than most.”

********************

“So Clark, is it really a good idea to be openly talking about Superman stuff with so many people in the room?” The question came from the redheaded man whose name Harley had yet to hear.

The groom just laughed the man’s concern off before looking him in the eye. “Barry, don’t worry about it. Harley is good people. She and her girl figured it out months ago and haven’t said a word about me to anyone.”

“That isn’t really what I was…” Barry tried to say before being cut off by an outburst from the slender blonde.

“Barry Allen!” Harley shouted. “That’s who you are! Oh man, I’ve been trying to figure out which one you were since I walked in the room.”

“Excuse me?” Barry asked as he turned to face Harley.

“Oh hey, don’t worry about it.” Harley told him. “I’m not interested in outing anybody here. Your secret is safe dude.”

“What, I don’t have a secret.” Barry tried to derail the conversation to no avail.

“I could totally tell you were a speedster by the bits of lightning trailing off your aura. Plus this room was full of founding members.” Harley went on. “But so many guys have worn that red suit in the stories from other worlds that I didn’t really give much thought to your street name until I sat down across from you.”

“What do you mean so many guys have worn my suit… I mean.” Barry tried to ask but quickly realized the corner he had backed himself into and tried to backtrack.

“Hey don’t worry about it too much.” Harley assured him. “The things teams of writers come up with in other dimensions rarely play out the same in worlds like this one. Hell, in the comics Batman has a son with Talia al Ghul, both he and Green Arrow get courted by Ra’s to lead the League of Shadows, Lex Luthor gets elected president a few times, Ivy ends up a mass murder with a god complex and I’m hopelessly infatuated with the Joker. But none of that is ever going to happen here.”

“I had a son with Talia?” Bruce asked just before all the air left his lungs.

“You might have if things played out differently in this world Bruce.” Harley told him as she realized what she had let slip. “But now you are much more likely to have one with Selina. Is that really something you didn’t see coming? Didn’t want?”

“I… I do.” Bruce admitted. A moment passed in silence before a wide smile took over his face. “Oh god I really do. I never dreamed of, but I want that with her so much.”

“There.” Harley said in a moderately proud tone. “And now that the seed is planted all we need to do is sit back and wait for you to get your act together.”

“What do you mean by that Harley?” J’onn asked as he glanced between Bruce and Harley with concern in his eyes.

“I mean I have stood by and watched Bruce and Selina fall in love and break each other’s hearts more times than I can count.” Harley told the Martian. “You still remember those first few lives, don’t you J’onn? How badly the man we call Bruce here screwed things up there.”

“Oh.” J’onn let out in a whisper as the truth hit him. He looked upon the billionaire with a truly mournful gaze in his eyes.

Bruce saw the sadness and pity there and was instantly on guard. “What is she talking about?”

“The first time through your proposed and went through all the steps a normal couple is supposed to take.” Harley explained with regret heavy in her voice. “But we were all so young then and you both had the worst families and guest lists imaginable. You were shown a vision of a future based on a lie. You thought you would eventually become an abusive drunk like the man who raised you. So you took it on yourself to save her from that life.”

“Oh Master Bruce.” Alfred said as he let a hand rest on Bruce’s shoulder. The butler fought back the tears building in his eyes. He couldn’t imagine the boy he raised ever raising a hand to a loved one. The fighting that ensued when young Jason returned from the dead had almost destroyed Bruce Wayne’s sense of self. Alfred had stood by and did everything in his power to heal the grown man he had raised since the loss of his former employers. Yet it never seemed to be enough.

“You left her at the altar because you believed the words and illusions of a liar.” Harley told Bruce. “And that’s why you’re a dummy.”

“But what if that other version of me was going to really…” Bruce began to ask.

“Stop!” Harley snapped. “I know you Bruce. Even with a completely different childhood and life you don’t have that in you. I have stood at your side each and every time you actually get around to marrying that woman and I will for every time you do in every world I awaken to. I know that you guys belong together. Sometimes it takes a little prodding on my part to get your head out of you own butt, but she is the one thing in any world that makes you happy. I’ll never regret helping you find your way to her.”

“Am I always so easily manipulated?” Bruce asked as he tired to quell his own emotions.

“Yes.” Harley admitted with a smile. “And I won’t lie. Having a doctorate in psychology from before I came to my senses in this world helps. But you two were already living together when you met me. So you can’t say I forced you into anything you didn’t want. Same goes for you Clark.” She finished with a glare at the groom. The reporter simply gulped nervously as he paused his efforts with the half done bow tie.

“Wouldn’t dream of it Harley.” Clark replied before refocusing on the tie. “More than happy with how far Lois and I have come.”

“As confusing and enlightening as all this is, that wasn’t what I was talking about.” Barry said as he once more looked to Clark. The reporter looked up and followed the speedster’s gaze to Jimmy and Perry standing at either of his sides.

“Oh.” Clark said before his eyes widened. “Oh! No Barry, relax. Jimmy knows. He’s one of my most loyal friends.”

Jimmy Olsen just smirked at that sentiment. “Aside from Bibbo you mean.”

“You know that’s an overstatement.” Clark said with a grin.

“And your boss over there?” Barry asked.

“Hmmm?” Perry White said as he looked up from his phone for the first time since Barry had asked about Superman directly. “I’m sorry I didn’t hear the question. I had something retarded in my ear.”

“Ouch.” Jimmy whispered as he smirked at his boss’ jibe.

“What?” Barry asked in confusion.

“Oh were we talking about Superman?” Perry White asked the room as if he hadn’t been standing there listening to the far too personal tales of Bruce Wayne’s love life. “Our official stance at the Daily Planet is that Superman does not have a secret identity. He’s always Superman. Obviously he hangs his cape up somewhere, probably the North or South Pole considering how good his ears are and how loud our species can be.”

“But I am not about to send my people out on some wild goose chase to find out every one of the big guy’s deepest darkest secrets. Whoever he might be!” Perry paused and winked at Clark. The overt gesture brought out a loud cry of laughter from Harley and a far from professional smirk from Alfred. Bruce, J’onn and Zatara couldn’t help but chuckle.

“No, the Daily Planet and all my people there are journalists. Not like the vultures over at TMZ or the National Enquirer.” The chief editor went on. “I’m not gonna have Lane ask the big guy boxers or briefs and I’m certainly not sending poor Jimmy here out at night to sift through his garbage cans. His private life may be the story of the century but after all the dust settles it’s just one story. And if anyone ever reported that story it would mean the big guy couldn’t flit around the sky pulling senior citizens out of trees and pet cats out of hostage situations. All while smiling for Jimmy here in those nice, juicy, front page worthy, candid shots.”

“Hell outing him might force him into retirement altogether, and my paper can’t take that hit to over half of our business model.” Perry went on in a far more harsh tone. “Whatever he does in his downtime is his business. Same for all the other nuts in that League of his. So long as he goes out of his way to keep the world turning he’s entitled to any day job he can hold down when out of the uniform. And it’s like I said, breaking the story of the century gets us exactly one story no one will care about a month later and makes too many enemies. I don’t know about any of you but I’m not going ruin the personal life of a man who can throw anyone who pisses him off into space! Am I right Kent?”

“Yes sir Mr. White!” Clark sounded off with a wide grin on his face. The reporter had grown to love the little willful ignorance game Perry had come up with a few months after Superman stories became a regular fixture in the papers.

“See? Kent gets it!” Perry White all but shouted to the now giggling men around the room. “And he’s hardly ever around when the big guy shows up at the office!” Loud cackles of laughter filled the room and the playful smirk on Perry White’s face was all too evident.

********************

“So comic books.” Zatanna said after a long lull in the conversation.

“And movies, television shows, cartoons.” Ivy went on. “The next lifetime where we meet Bruce he’ll probably faint when we tell him he lived one of our past lives as “The Batman!”

“He’s a big fan of himself?” Barbara asked with a sideways glance at Ivy.

“Batman and Superman are two of human history’s most popular fictional characters.” Ivy said as if the information was obvious. “Right up there with Han Solo, Jesus and Hercules.”

“The fact that my people’s greatest enemy is remembered so fondly vexes me to no end.” Diana grumbled as she downed the last of her champagne.

“You have no idea how much his life’s story has been cleaned up to be sold to modern audiences.” Ivy went on. “On the plus side most of the worlds that give him his own tv show also make a spinoff show about an unstoppable warrior woman. She meets up with a plucky blonde sidekick that eventually becomes the plucky blonde queen of the Amazons.” She paused with a slight smirk before adding one last detail. “And the warrior woman’s not so secret lover.”

“Really?” Diana asked with renewed interest. The idea of such a character, seemingly built up from her people’s core values, intrigued the princess. “And the people of man’s world really lionized such a woman in the fictions they use to distract themselves?”

“Men liked the show because the lead actress looked good in a leather skirt and bronze trimmed leather corset.” Ivy said before a sly smile played across her lips. “And women well, the show had a very devout lesbian following.”

“But comic books?” Selina asked as more of the redhead’s confusing stories of parallel dimensions came to light. “Featuring pretty much everyone at this wedding?”

“Have Harley tell you about the embarrassing Aquaman Underoos story from her and Bruce’s Kindergarten days.” Ivy replied with an almost wistful smile. “His name wasn’t Bruce Wayne our first time through but she and I still see so much of our old friend in your fiancé Selina.”

“Fiancé?” Selina all but shrieked. “He hasn’t even asked…”

“He will.” Ivy cut her off with a promise.

“So you’re saying you and your girlfriend know our future from books you read in past lives.” Barbara drew the conclusion she thought the green woman was leading her towards. She couldn’t know how far off she was.

“Goddess no.” Ivy said with an almost horrified shiver. “Nothing in any of Xander’s old books is going to happen here. Not if we have anything to say about it.”

“Could that be the reason you took out Lex Luthor and the Joker the way you did?” Cat chimed in.

“We didn’t kill Luthor!” Ivy protested in an agitated tone the other women hadn’t quite expected. “We just trapped him in a giant crystal and dropped him on an alien planet. And that clown was a menace to all life on this planet.”

“Really?” Lucy asked as the assertion silenced each of the women present who had suffered through prior encounters with the Joker. “I get that he was a mass murderer but…”

“No, you don’t get it.” Barbara shot the brunette down. “That fucking clown had it coming. What Ivy and her girl did to him was a public service.”

“Listen, I could tell you all about the ways the Joker might have ripped the League in half by killing or crippling some of the women in this very room.” Ivy drew attention away from the staring match between the other redhead and the bride’s sister. “I could tell you how if you ever wake up in an alternate dimension branching off of this one you will probably run into President Luthor and a version of Superman who is mourning the loss of his wife. I could even talk about how an affair between Aquaman and Wonder Woman would drag the entire planet into world war three.”

“I would never lay with a man!” Diana shouted in disgust.

“Not even for a three-way with me and Bruce?” Selina asked with just a hint of hopefulness in her tone. Everyone but Ivy stopped what they were doing and stared at the cat burglar in shock. Diana titled her head to the side and gave the blonde sitting across from her an appraising look. “What?” Selina asked as she noticed the looks she was getting from the other bridesmaids and the bride herself. “She’s on both of our free pass lists. I figured if I ever needed a really good last minute birthday present for Bruce it wouldn’t hurt to ask her.”

“I thought you were like super straight Selina?” Zatanna asked as she eyed the woman up and down.

“No one is that straight.” Selina replied. “Besides, if I ever want to try being spit roasted by my man and a beautiful woman I might as well ask the queen of all the lesbians to do the honors.”

“Just because she’s an Amazon princess doesn’t necessarily mean she’s the queen of all the lesbians.” Lucy remarked only to receive a head shake from Cat.

“No that’s exactly what it means.” The media mogul said. “There was a floor vote at the last big gathering, you know, Dyke-Con, and we all decided that Diana here is the undisputed queen of all the lesbians.”

“We all chipped in a dollar each to get her a tiara and a little sash that reads “Queen of all the Lesbians!” Ivy added while sharing a playful smirk with Cat. “Anyway I could go on and on about things that happened in stories from other worlds. But that’s a little like telling you that I know the Empire will be defeated by a rag tag group of rebels and some Ewoks.”

“Whoa there, spoilers!” Cat cried out. “There are some children here that might not have seen the classics.”

“Oh my god Cat how old do you think I am?” Lucy grumbled at the blonde.

“Barely old enough to know better but still young enough to make all the fun mistakes with what you’ve got.” Cat said after giving the girl a careful assessment.

“That’s my sister you’re talking about Grant.” Lois muttered.

“Which is why I’m trying to advise her against giving Olsen all the goods right off the bat.” Cat told the scandalized bride.

“Oh that’s interesting.” Ivy said as she gave Lucy a closer look. “Her aura did a little fluttery jump when you mentioned the photographer. Let me test something.” Ivy then held up her ring and studied its soft glow for a second. Little did the other bridesmaids know what she had set in motion.

********************

“Oh would you look at that.” Harley murmured as her ring let out a soft glow. She then turned her widest grin on the photographer at Clark’s side. “So Jimmy, have ya met Lucy?”

“Huh? Wha… I mean.” Jimmy began to stammer out a reply only to fall short as Harley began cackling.

“Awesome!” Harley cried out as she turned back to her ring, ignoring the confused looks from the men in the room with her. “The girls are gonna get a kick out of this.”

********************

“Oh yeah, he’s just as smitten as she is.” Ivy said as she watched the glow from her ring. “Harley just mentioned her name and his aura shot through the roof.”

“Well damn if that isn’t a ringing endorsement.” Zatanna said with a laugh.

“In knew it all along.” Cat said with a board huff.

“No!” Lucy protested. “There is nothing to know going on here!”

“Oh honey.” Lois said while trying valiantly to hold back her own laughter.

“Hey, why don’t we just go back to the fact that Ivy over here knows all about everyone’s secret identities and just blabbed about it in front of the “Queen of All Media”? Huh? That sounds like fun.” The frantic pleading note to Lucy’s voice did little to force the change in topics but Ivy decided to go easy on the poor young woman.

“Oh like Cat was going to do anything about it.” Ivy dismissed with a wave of her hand. “She may have some of you fooled with the Ice Queen act but she’d never go through with publicly outing anyone here.”

“CatCo has no plans to dig into the personal lives of overly civic minded busy bodies.” Cat droned out a response as if she was reading off a teleprompter. “I won’t out anyone for being secretly gay, straight, transgender, costumed vigilante or republican.”

“Pretty sure you’ve outed people for that last one.” Lois chimed in.

“Oh hush you slut.” Cat snapped as she reapplied the faintest layer of makeup to Lois’s cheeks. “None of those egomaniacs were secretive about any of the lies they spewed. I’ll gladly rake any out and proud right wingers over the coals.”

“So how many of you girls brought dates to this shindig?” Lois asked as she saw Cat was finished with her last minute preparations. “Aside from Ivy of course.”

“Of course.” Ivy said while raising a new glass of champagne that seemed to appear out of nowhere. “Zatanna are you magicking these drinks into existence?”

“Don’t give me that look Ivy.” The magician complained. “The boys have Alfred in there with them. If one of you ladies had a full blown man servant half as good as him I wouldn’t have to bother.”

“I’m sadly between assistants.” Cat remarked as she sipped from her own glass.

“Thanks for your help Zatanna.” Lois added.

“You’re welcome Lois.” Zatanna replied before giving the bride’s last question some thought. “I came stag unless you count my father.”

“Ditto.” Barbara added.

“I brought Brucie.” Selina chimed in to no one’s surprise.

“Amy.” Diana said.

“I always bring Carter to events like these.” Cat admitted. “He helps remind me that it’s less about schmoozing with socialites and more about small talk with actual friends.”

All eyes turned to Lucy for a moment. The bride’s sister all but cringed under the weight of that scrutiny. It was a long, tense moment before she openly admitted the truth. “Okay, fine, alright. I came alone because I was planning on leaving with Jimmy.”

“Like there was ever any doubt.” Lois said before looking to the woman who had given the flimsiest answer. “Have anything to share with the class Barbara?”

“Nope.” The redhead said as she sipped champagne.

“Not yet anyway. We’ll have to scope out the honeys together.” Zatanna added with a playful smile before a frown clouded her gaze. “Didn’t you come with Dick?”

“That’s what she said.” Selina cried out in a far too pleased tone as all the other women groaned. “Oh come on. That was a classic.”

“Ivy you’re her friend right?” Lucy pleaded. “Any advice on curtailing her dirty mind?”

“Oh there isn’t anything you can do about that.” Ivy stated as she gave Selina an almost proud smile. “Plus that was pretty tame by Selina’s standards. Hardly the dirtiest thing I’ve heard her say this lifetime. It’s not ever the dirtiest thing she’s said this morning.”

“No I didn’t come here with Grayson.” Barbara said in a clipped tone that hid her emotions only partially. “But I have promised several dances to him, Tim and my dad.”

“Aww, that’s no fun.” Zatanna grumbled. “Now it’s just Lucy and me doing the bachelorette thing and she’s already called dibs on her piece of man candy.”

“Don’t blame me Zatanna.” Barbara said before a more playful smirk cropped up. “Blame Lois for stacking her big day with monogamous lesbians, whipped boy toys and almost married spinsters.”

“Hey now!” Selina protested only be cut off by Ivy’s laughter.

Ivy continued to chuckle for a long moment before she fixed the cat burglar with a disarming smile. “She’s not wrong.” Her eyes then found Barbara’s across the room and the two redheads shared a warm smile. They both knew the other had no interest in weeding through lonely men at the reception.

********************

“Right this way Mr. and Mrs. Kent.” Kyle said as he and his fiancé led the older couple through the back halls of the reception area. “The wedding hall is beginning to fill up with guests. Once both wedding parties are ready we can start.”

“Of course you two will get front row seats.” Cassie added as she walked with one arm intertwined with Martha Kent’s. “You both must be so proud.”

“Lois is a wonderful woman.” Martha said with noticeable pride in her voice. “I know she’ll make Clark very happy.”

“I’m just glad our son finally wised up and sealed the deal before anymore mad scientists or bored billionaires threw their hats in the ring.” Jonathan Kent added as they entered the wedding hall and began the long walk to the pews at the front of the wide open room.

“Oh like Clark would ever be bone headed enough to watch her slip away.” Martha dismissed her husband’s worries with a laugh. “My boy knows a good thing when it falls into his lap.”

Kyle and Cassie shared an amused smile as the proud tone in the woman’s voice came through loud and clear. The young couple couldn’t help but be charmed by the older pair who had raised the world’s strongest hero. As they seated the Kents Kyle and Cassie wondered just how much the world owed these two people for their lifetime of work spent molding the man of steel.

********************

“Ah ha!” Clark shouted triumphantly as his hands came away from his neatly centered bow tie.

“Finally.” Bruce said as he set his champagne glass aside. “I was almost ready to call Barbara in here to tie the damn thing for you.”

“Why not just have Alfred do it?” Jimmy asked while glancing over at the smirking butler.

“Then he would have lost the bet.” J’onn said with a chuckle. “The founding members all took bets on just how long it would take Clark to finish dressing himself without help from one of us.”

“I’m not that helpless.” Clark complained in an annoyed huff.

“Yes you are Kent.” Perry added with a chuckle of his own. “Well it’s probably about time I checked in with the bride. Care to join me Ms. Quinn?”

“I’d be delighted.” Harley told the older reporter.

“Tell Diana she won the pot while you’re at it.” Bruce added as Harley and Perry linked arms and strolled out the door.

“Sure thing Brucie.” Harley called out just as the door closed. “So I take it you’re giving the bride away.” She said once they were out in the service halls that led back to the reception and wedding areas as well as other prep rooms.

“That would be correct.” Perry White admitted with a sigh as he thought of his few brief confrontations with General Sam Lane. “Politics aside, I just don’t understand that man.”

“I’m sure Lois and Lucy feel the same way.” Harley lamented as they walked back to the Bridal Suite. “It wasn’t too much of a shock when Ivy and I figured out that the general wasn’t here today.”

“So you’ve met the man?” Perry asked in a newly curious tone.

“Oh no.” Harley admitted with a sly smile. “Let’s just say Ivy and I have more than our fair share of reasons to distrust the military. Too many worlds have slipped into chaos because a handful of generals decided to play god in secret underground compounds.”

“I’ll bet.” Perry agreed with a solemn nod. “But enough talk about jack booted thuggery. I’m much more interested in how you and your partner met.”

“It was my freshman year of college and I had gone as far as I could practicing witchcraft on my own.” Harley began in a tone of reverence and awe. “One of the student groups that met weekly was a Wicca group. I went to one meeting, got bored out of my mind from all the empty headed talk of bake sales and sisterhood empowerment clichés, and met the most amazing woman to ever walk the earth.” A sly smile crept across her face as she recounted the story yet again. “She was just as fed up with all the blessed wannabes and we started holding nightly meetings of our own.”

“That must have been fun.” Perry said suggestively as he nudged her shoulder. Harley only sighed and shook her head at his innuendo.

“Not as much as it sounds.” She lamented. “I was hopelessly straight and just barely getting over the fact that the werewolf I dated in high school cheated on me with another werewolf.”

“Werewolves?” Perry asked as he stopped dead in his tracks. “Seriously? Werewolves are real?”

“Long, totally different, story.” Harley said before forging ahead. “She was so patient with me. I put her through hell with all my indecisive second guessing. Even when the wolf came back to try and rekindle our relationship she was willing to step aside and let me be happy with someone else.”

“I can’t even imagine.” Perry said as a lull in Harley’s story dragged on. For a few silent moments they walked the back halls of the reception area. Perry almost jumped when Harley spoke up again.

“I chose her of course.” She said with a much lighter air. “Even when my friends and I had to storm one of those secret underground military chop shop compounds to save my ex I still chose her. I told him I’d always care but I couldn’t be in love with him and then I sent him on his way.” Music began to pick up in the distance as the wedding hall filled up. Word must have spread of the groom’s bow tie because Hal Jordan, Oliver Queen and John Stewart raced past Perry and Harley on their way back to the groom suite.

“I came to her dorm.” Harley went on in a whisper. “The whole town was under a black out I caused because we needed to storm the secret base so I had this extra flamey candle in my hands and I was ready to finally come out to the world. She was waiting up for me. Even though she was convinced I’d choose him, that I would break her heart again, she was waiting for me. I swore I’d make up for all the pain I put her through, and she took me in with open arms.”

“That’s beautiful.” Perry said as he held back more than a few tears. It was another minute of silent walking before he realized there was something he was missing. “But if you two met in college how did Ivy become a plant person?”

Harley stopped in her tracks and stared at the man. She blinked once. Then she laughed. Full throated belly laughter poured from the slender blonde as she doubled over in her mirth. Perry White stood in shock for a moment before Harley looked up to him once more.

“Oh Mr. White.” Harley chuckled as she came back up for air. “I needed that. This all happened in our first life.”

“So I’ve heard.” He said as he gave the woman an appraising look. “To be honest I didn’t actually believe what Lane and Kent told me you said in the interview about other dimensions. I even called up a scientist or two to explain things slowly a few more times. I was beyond confused when Professor Hamilton said that the existence of magic was scientifically proven and documented.”

“In that first life I spent a few short years loving her with all my heart.” Harley went on as if his doubts and confusion mattered not. “I screwed up and ruined things but she still took me back. Then I lost her forever.”

“But you found her again.” Perry said as if the current fact could negate the pain of the distant past.

“I spent the rest of that life struggling to find meaning without her.” Harley countered his claim. “It was all in vain. I cast a spell on my deathbed and cast my memories and a shard of my soul into the void. I eventually found her and did everything in my power to prove I was worthy of her. And she took me back with open arms. Again. This world marks a hundred and forty two times where she has done that. I wasn’t about to let a little thing like her criminal record stop us from being together.”

“So you helped her pass a psych evaluation and sailed off into the sunset on a second hand cargo freighter.” Perry repeated the very public story he had heard from Gotham City’s floundering news outlets.

“What can I say?” Harley asked as they came to a halt outside the bridal Suite. “I’m a hopeless romantic.”

“Yeah you are.” Ivy agreed as she opened the door and pulled Harley into her arms. “Goddess I missed you Sweetie.”

“I Love you Baby.” Harley promised as she nuzzled into Ivy’s neck.

“How did she know her girl was coming back?” Lucy asked as Perry made his way into the Bridal Suite. “Is it a Star Sapphire thing?”

“Maybe.” Carol Ferris said as Zatanna just shook her head.

“It’s definitely a witch thing.” The magician began to explain. “But they’ve done something that is way beyond what the average magic user is capable of.” She paused for a moment to consider just what the couple had already accomplished. “You know, aside from all the other impossible magic stuff they’ve done that literally no one else can do.”

“Oh it’s not that difficult.” Harley announced as she and Ivy walked arm in arm back to one of the chairs around the room. “First you have to find the one girl in all the world that you are meant to be with for all eternity.”

“Just for starters.” Ivy chimed in with a playful smirk.

“Then you have to practice traditional witchcraft with her for decades on end.” Harley went on. “Mostly spells with candles and floating roses in the air as you both telekinetically pluck their petals one by one. Of course naked dancing is a crucial step as well. You need to set aside time during at least three full moons a year and one or more moonless weekend nights to go out into the wilderness and dance naked as a couple around a giant bonfire.”

“Are they making this up?” Lucy asked Zatanna with a mildly disturbed frown on her face.

“Nope.” Zatanna replied with a knowing smirk. “Sounds pretty standard so far.”

“There’s other stuff but the final step is to bind your souls together in a mystical ritual that defies all the laws of both man and god.” Harley went on as if she was explaining commonly known details about mundane occurrences. “Once all that is done you can really get to work on undermining the fabric of society by promoting the homosexual agenda and forcing all citizens into mandatory gay marriages. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!” She finished with overly clichéd maniacal laughter. Only a handful of those present got the joke.

A few of the women around the room froze as they stared at the babbling blonde in complete shock. Fortunately, some recognized the outlandish statements and cartoonish villainous cackles for what they were and burst into laughter of their own.

“That took a turn.” Lucy said as she watched Cat Grant practically double over while cackling. “You okay Cat?”

“Oh, god Lane.” Cat asked in between gasps once she was able to stop laughing. “Where have you been hiding these two?”

“Sadly they keep to themselves far too much. Otherwise I’d hire them to work the room at all the parties I hate attending.” Lois said as she stood up from the seat where Cat and Lucy had kept her prisoner for the past few hours. “Perry, thank you for coming out today.” She greeted her boss with a warm smile.

“It’s my pleasure Lois.” Perry said as he walked up to the bride and gave her a quick hug. “You look amazing.”

The bride smiled as she stood there in her sleek white dress. Her shoulders and arms were bare as the dress stopped a few inches below her collar bone but well above her bust line. As the dress trailed down her body it accentuated her curves until it expanded outward half way down her thighs. Her hair was up in a bun that gave way to torrents of tight curls that matched the dark brunette strands framing her face.

“Thanks boss.” Lois said with an almost bashful grin.

Perry smiled at the bride once more before looking over her shoulder to the familiar woman who had toiled over her hair and makeup. “And it’s good to see you too Cat.” He said with a nod and a slight smirk.

“Perry.” Cat greeted the man with a restrained smile and a curt nod. The mild response was well practiced between the two media titans. Cat had spent the early years of her career working for Perry alongside Lois. The fact that her media empire now matched, if not outright eclipsed, his own was actually a point of pride for the chief editor.

“I think the boys are ready.” Diana said as Bruce and Jimmy appeared in the open doorway.

“Oh by the way Diana, you won the pot.” Harley added just as the Amazonian Princess was about to leave the room.

“Ha!” Diana shouted in triumph. “Victory has never tasted sweeter!” She laughed in the faces of each of the other founding members waiting in the hall. Each man had the good sense to avert his gaze.

“That’s our cue.” Cat said as she put on a bright smile and patted Lois on the back. “I’ve done all I can with what little you’ve given me to work with Lane. Try not to embarrass yourself before you actually seal the deal with your farm boy.”

“Love you too bitch.” Lois replied with a matching smile of her own. Though the back and forth left some of those present wondering about the need to separate both women it was clear to Ivy and Harley that the odd friendship was built on a strong foundation of scathing back and forth banter.

“Come along Other Lane.” Cat ordered Lucy in a self assured tone. “I believe you and I are at the front of this train wreck.”

With that the Maid of Honor and the Bride’s sister waltzed out of the room. They were soon followed by Carol and Dinah who had returned just before Harley and Perry came back. Selina and Barbara shot Lois a pair of encouraging smiles before heading out the door so Barbara could check in with the others working security, and Selina and Bruce could line up the other Bridesmaids and groomsmen that would march down the aisle before the Bride made an appearance.

One of the last five people in the Bridal Suite shared a warm smile with the bride. “You will do wonderfully out there Lois.” Diana said as she walked up to the bride once more. “Though I’d never partake in such a relationship I can more than see the appeal in a man such as Clark. Be proud of the love you have found, but never forget one important thing.”

“What’s that Diana?” Lois asked in an almost awed tone.

“Your place as a woman is to, as your people would say, call the shots in the relationship.” The Princess of Themyscira said with a conspiratorial wink to the stunned bride. A beat passed as Lois stared back at the strange woman before bursting into laughter yet again.

“I’ll remember that Princess.” Lois assured her with a proud grin. “I’ve been doing that with Smallville since day one I might as well keep it up.”

“I am proud to hear that.” Diana said before bowing her head slightly and turning to leave the room.

“Come on Ms. Thang.” Harley said as she and Ivy faced Lois and Perry one last time. “Let’s get you hitched.”

“I can’t wait.” Lois said in a quiet voice that did little to hide the ear to ear smile spread out across her face. With that the Bride and the Chief reporter followed the last of the bridesmaids out of the room. The music picked up as the groom and best man made their appearance in the nearby wedding hall. Two by two bridesmaids and groomsmen marched out of the entrance hallway of the wedding hall and down the aisle until the Bride and the man giving her away stood just outside the wedding hall. Through it all nothing dampened the all consuming happiness that filled Lois’ heart.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2016 6:54 pm 
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Dibs!! Woohoo! Two for two! Excellent chapter.

Willow/Harley giving Clark instructions was too funny.

I have to admit, I not much of a comic book reader so some of the new introductions for the wedding didn't make a lot of sense to me - I just have no point of reference for them, buts that's on me.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2016 12:27 am 
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Hi Vampyregurl.

To me at least, Harley seems like the type who would be most willing to teach an "adult cliteracy" class. The blending of the two characters in the weird way this side story has ended up with just helped bring that to the surface and Willow out of her shell in "later" story lines.

Honestly I don't read comics either. I tried getting into Spiderman books a while back, then fell out of it. Then I was in a book store in a mall, anyone else remember book stores in malls?, and I flipped through the trade paperback for Spiderman: One More Day. I won't spoil it but that's part of the reason I only read Deadpool books now.

More to the point, I'm basing almost all of this off of the cartoons that DC has been pumping out fairly regularly since the 90's. The Batman and Superman cartoons from years and years ago, the 2 Justice League cartoons that came right after those, and Young Justice from six years ago are where most of the extraneous characters are coming from.

Also the new Supergirl show is pretty great. Even the outright terrible episodes each have a great Cat Grant scene where Calista Flockhart makes the whole thing worth it. Plus the red kryptonite episode they did is the single best use of that plot device in the history of the whole Superman franchise.

If you have a Netflix account and want a quick primer on characters I recommend watching the Young Justice episodes Revelation, Misplaced, and Agendas from season 1 and maybe the first episode from season 2. Those episodes have some ties to the overarching plot of season 1 but they can stand on their own and they show off more characters that are running around the broader universe.

The movies Justice League: Doom, Justice League: War, Batman: Under the Red Hood, and Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths are also good but they seem to come and go from Netflix at random intervals. Honestly one of the best Batman movies is Mask of the Phantasm, but Warner Brothers seems to have forgotten that they ever made that one.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2016 11:40 am 
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Ok, cool. I do have a netflix account I can use so I'll check those out. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2016 10:27 pm 
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Gosh Darn it!

Frilly heck!

And other mild swears!

No notification again :(

I think because i was reading the rest of the thread.
I just can't stop reading this story :P

Anyway, good chapter.
And i learned so much about comicbook characters :)
And i thought the wedding was nicely handled :)

One question: Is the timeframe of this story such that we are going to see our favourite girls getting married?
Possibly by using their vast wealth and power to club right wing idiots into behaving?
I'd pay to see that :P

More please! :flower

R :flower

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2016 4:57 am 
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness... Loved Harley's instructions to Clark...

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2016 2:56 am 
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Absolutely love this story! I binge read it and now I am patiently awaiting the next update :applause


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 4:19 am 
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Hi Azirahael, hi Zampsa. Hello Bindingwiccan, welcome to the party.

The farmboy from Kansas can appreciate a few pointers. And we all know how much Harley/Willow likes educational experiences.

Glad you guys liked the sideline comic characters and some of their antics. I'm using this storyline as an example of worlds where Harley and Ivy are more or less on their own or independent of the main Buffy cast. But even if they can't have their main group of friends with them all the time they still need a few helpful side characters to either fill the void or bounce ideas off of.

The wedding was a fun little way to introduce a few element to the story while keeping things grounded. Or at the very least it was a good way to fill the room with these character without a giant fight scene breaking out.

As for Willow and Tara's big day, there will be at least one chapter down the road dedicated completely to that. It might not be in one of the four worlds covered so far. Or maybe I'll write multiple wedding chapters across a few different dimensions. Or one chapter that covers the stages of multiple wedding days across a half dozen lifetimes.

That's something I'll need to think about more.

Until then there are a few other details and distractions to get out of the way in most of these stories. I'll have the reception chapter that follows this up as soon as I can. Thank you all for reading.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 11:19 pm 
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Scooby Doo, where are you?! :bigkiss

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 6:07 pm 
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Damn, I can't believe I let so much time pass between postings.

Sorry for the delay everyone. Over the last few weeks I've been helping my sister clean and redecorate her new apartment. A few other surprises came up and my writing schedule was involved in an unfortunate wood chipper accident.

At long last here is the conclusion to the events that were set up in the last entry.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 6:14 pm 
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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: So last time we left things off just as the ceremony that one kooky straight couple started. Spoilers: the ceremony went just fine. Here's how the after party went.

********************
Primer: Sirens

Willow = Dr. Harleen Quinzel = Harley Quinn = the blonde/blue eyes

Tara = Dr. Pamela Isley = Poison Ivy = the redhead/green eyes

Xander = Bruce Wayne = Batman

Anya = Selina Kyle = Catwoman

Buffy = Death of the Endless = From Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series and a few of her own trade paperback story arcs.

Dawn = Kyle Rayner = Green Lantern

Rupert Giles = Shade

Joyce = Joyce Rayner

********************

Sirens: Wedding Day Hijinks: The After Party

“That was a beautiful ceremony.” Ivy whispered to her Love once they separated from the groomsmen who had walked them each down and back up the isle. With their arms interlinked once more both women followed the rest of the wedding party to the reception hall. The band was already in place.

Harley let out a small chuckle as she noticed Dick Grayson and several other Titans spread around the room. “Well at least we know security at this little hootenanny is top notch.”

“Be nice Sweetie.” Ivy chastised her Love with the quirked smile she knew the other woman adored.

“I’m always nice.” Harley replied with false innocence. “Think they’ll like our presents?”

“Oh I’m sure Lois and Clark will love what we have in store for them.” Ivy replied with a wider smirk as she thought of the small box awaiting the couple in the honeymoon suite upstairs. “We should find our table before the newlyweds get back.”

“Ooh, I think they seated us with the people they thought would cause the least amount of drama.” Harley replied with a happy little bounce as she began to lead Ivy to one table set just off the side of the main table on the dais at one end of the dance floor.

Ivy could see Cat Grant, Lucy Lane and the tall muscular best man that she assumed was Jimmy Olsen. The trio were already moving along the back side of the long table and taking their assigned seats. She also noticed an older couple heading the same way. “I’m guessing those are the Kents.” She said quietly as Harley pulled her along.

“One would hope.” Harley agreed with a smile that soon gave way to a dour grimace. “Near as I can tell the Bride’s father is a no show. I’m not too sure if we should bring him up around the Lane girls.”

“Right.” Ivy nodded along as she recalled her own lackluster father figures over the centuries. “How did her boss sound when you talked to him about giving Lois away?”

“Oh Perry was thrilled.” Harley said with a laugh that drew a few stray looks from the nearest of the teens acting as security for the event. “I think he despises the General almost as much as we do.”

“Despise might be a strong word.” Ivy said in as measured a tone as she could manage. “We just have no reason to trust him.”

“And we never will Baby.” Harley went on as they came to the table set beside the dais. “Not if what I remember Xander saying about Project Cadmus applies to this world. I swear, if he comes for us.”

“That won’t happen Sweetie.” Ivy assured her Love. “I’ll never let anyone take you from me.”

“Sounds like love if I ever heard it.” Kyle chimed in as he and Cassie walked up beside the two Star Sapphires. “Hey look. We’re table buddies.”

Cassie favored the couple with just as wide a smile as Kyle had. “I was hoping I’d get to see my fiancé’s favorite couple again.”

“We were hoping to run into you too Sweetie.” Ivy said a she and Harley pulled the younger couple into their arms.

“Goddess, I can’t even tell you how happy I am that you two found each other in this world.” Harley whispered into their ears as she held Kyle and Cassie close. “You kids know you can always call us no matter what, right?”

“We know.” Kyle assured the slender blonde. “From what Cassie has shown me of Dawn’s life I know I can always trust you. We’re family, even if it’ll take my Mom and her new boyfriend a while to come around to the idea.”

“Giles and Joyce will come around.” Ivy promised as Cassie nodded her head to the inevitable sentiment. “I’m more interested in hearing about you two sharing visions of other worlds.”

“All part of my fancy ring mojo.” Kyle said as he casually waved his ring hand for the pair of Star Sapphires to see. “Cassie commits what pops up in her head to memory and then later the two of us hold hands and open our minds to one another.”

“Sounds dangerous.” Selina remarked as she and Bruce strolled up to the table and the two couples beside it.

“It’s sweet and romantic.” Cassie said as she fixed the cat burglar with a glare. “Besides, it’s the best learning tool we’ve ever found. If you only knew the things Kyle has been able to learn from all those other versions of himself.”

“What kinds of things?” Selina asked in a curious yet mildly annoyed tone.

“Combat techniques, other languages, career training courses?” Bruce asked. Both he and Selina failed to recognize the matching smirks playing across the young couple’s faces.

“Kind of the other languages thing mostly.” Kyle admitted in a voice that did little to hide the fact that he wasn’t telling the whole story just yet. “Let’s just say I’m a very cunning linguist.”

“He’s had a lot of practice.” Cassie added with what had to be the most pleased grin Bruce and Selina had ever seen. “With his mouth.” She paused while waggling her eyebrows. “Linguistically.”

Neither Bruce nor Selina could tell why the young blonde’s words caused both Harley and Ivy to burst into uncontrollable laughter. The billionaire and the cat burglar simply shrugged and let the issue drop until the two women eventually regained their composure. Just as the cackles and guffaws died down the last couple that would be joining their table made their appearance.

“Friends!” Aquaman shouted as he and his queen joined the others. “How fortuitous a joy to be dining with such trusted companions.”

“King Orin, Queen Mera.” Kyle greeted the royal couple with a slight bow as Cassie gave them a curtsey.

“Come now Lantern Rayner.” King Orin said as he grasped the young man’s hand in a firm shake. “No need for formalities between brothers in arms.”

“The same goes for you dear girl.” Mera said as she let one hand rest on Cassie’s shoulder.

“Thank you your highness.” Cassie began to say only to be cut off by the Queen’s amused laughter.

“Call me Mera dear.” Mera chuckled to herself. “Even if I wasn’t suitably impressed by the degree to which you have wrapped a skilled Lantern around your finger I’d still hold you in a position of respect.”

“Really? Me?” Cassie asked while caught in a rare moment of genuine surprise. “But I’m just...”

“A truly gifted Seer.” Mera finished the statement with a smile and another pat on the young woman’s shoulder. “The mystical arts are revered by my culture. In my homeland there are none more respected and cherished than those born into the roll of Oracle.”

“Atlantis sounds wonderful.” Kyle said once the king released his hand.

“It is.” Mera agreed as a slight smirk crossed her lips. “Though that is not quite the homeland I was referring to.”

Before the pleasant greetings could drag on any further half the guests that had filled up most of the reception hall turned and began to lightly applaud. Harley and Ivy looked up to see the Bride and Groom walking arm in arm towards the long table on the slightly raised dais near their table. The entire room watched as the newlyweds joined their family and closest friends. Once Lois and Clark took their seats the applause tapered off and everyone else sat down at the dinning tables throughout the hall.

Servers appeared, bringing trays and platters out to each and every guest. As wine was poured a smiling Jimmy Olsen stood up from his seat next to Clark’s parents. Harley turned to Ivy as the best man began the speech that was expected of him. Ivy couldn’t help but notice the playful smirk her Love was sporting. The botanist could already tell that her always was planning to seek out her own unique brand of entertainment once the reception truly got underway. She couldn’t help but smile in return at the prospect.

********************

“So Jimmy gave a decent speech.” Lois whispered as her husband led her out onto the dance floor. The dinner portion of the reception had just wrapped up and the guests formed a wide circle around the room as the couple took their first dance as man and wife.

“He did good.” Clark protested as he picked up on his wife’s slightly sarcastic tone. “He really cares about us. He’s been rooting for us since day one.”

“I’m only teasing.” Lois relented as Clark took one of her hands in his and wrapped a strong arm around her back. The band began a slow melody that the couple easily relaxed into. “Just be glad Cat went second.”

“Everyone knows that the illustrious Cat Grant is no one’s opening act.” Clark said with a chuckle that Lois all too easily returned. “I’m glad she came out for us. It’s been too long.”

“Me too.” Lois admitted. “I didn’t know how much I missed her and Lucy until they were doting over my hair and makeup like a couple of frantic hens.”

“Your sister loves you Lois.” Clark assured her as he caught the regretful tone in her voice. “I know you two had your differences growing up, but you both deserve a second chance.”

“You and your second chances.” Lois muttered half to herself. With a bright smile plastered across her face the seasoned reporter let her cheek rest against her husband’s broad chest. They danced together as one and before either of them knew it the first song had ended. Other couples began to flow onto the dance floor. As far as Lois was concerned the night was off to a wonderful start.

********************

“Oh please!” Harley laughed in the faces of the small circle of wedding guests that had gathered around her. “Have you guys ever even met another psychiatrist from Arkham Asylum? Only the crazy ones willingly apply for positions in that meat grinder. Most just send in their résumés when they have no where else to go and need to wait a year or two for their credentials to be sorted out. Half of them rotate out as soon as their contract is up and they can find work anywhere else. Those are the mildly sane ones. The rest either end up conducting legit mad science experiments on the patients the Bat brings in every other day or they make a costume of their own and take to the streets.”

“And you Ms. Quinn?” Asked one of the junior reporters who worked in the Daily Planet bullpen alongside the Bride and Groom. “Which category do you fall under?”

Harley favored the young man with an amused smirk as Ivy slowly stepped up to her side and wrapped one arm around the blonde’s waist. “Oh, isn’t it obvious?” She asked as Ivy just stood there smiling wickedly at her side. “My Baby and I are doing the whole costumed nut case thing so that no one asks any questions about our nefarious schemes. Isn’t that right Baby?” She turned to Ivy and all but burst into laughter as she saw how hard it was for her Love to keep a straight face.

“Oh yes.” Ivy said once she stifled the fresh wave of giggles that threatened to erupt. “Nefarious doesn’t even begin to explain it. They’re just so, nefarious.” As the last word left her lips so to did a brief giggle. Ivy quickly schooled her expression and turned to all but bury her face in Harley’s hair. She noticed her Love was grinning so widely that the muscles in her face must have been strained beyond measure.

As blue eyes met green both women burst into laughter that only served to horrify the wedding guests that had been listening to Harley’s overblown exaggerations. The crowd rapidly thinned out leaving the laughing couple to reign in their now terrifying laughter. Moments after the couple finally stopped cackling an amused voice came from behind them.

“Well that was interesting.” Martha Kent said as she and Jonathan Kent made their presence known. “Did you really have to scare the dickens out of those reporters?”

Harley couldn’t help but giggle as the older couple stared at them. “She said dickens.” The blonde whispered between bouts of seemingly unwarranted laughter.

“Oh Harl.” Ivy just let out an amused sigh and shook her head before turning back to the Kents. “It’s an honor to meet you Mr. and Mrs. Kent.”

“Likewise Ms…” Martha Kent paused for a moment to study the two as if she was trying to recall a story from months ago that she was only half listening to in the first place. “I’m sorry do you two prefer to be called Doctor? I refuse to use the term the local gossip rag in Smallville coined for you gals.”

“Was that the one that called us the Dyke-Brigade or the one that kept using phrases like “gal pals” and “BFF’s” even when the pictures of us making out on the Gotham City docks surfaced?”

“No, I think those were the Kansas City and Wichita papers.” Jonathan said as he favored both women with a smile. “Our local rag just said “Crazy plant lady and Dr. Slut.” whenever your names came up in the national news.” He paused to try and put a more diplomatic smile on his face before going on. “But don’t pay it any mind. The guy who runs the town newsletter went overboard with supporting the tea party a few years back, and now no one wants to call him out on account of the downward spiral his life is caught in.”

“We get all our news from the Planet anyway.” Martha chimed in as her husband’s tangent slowed down. “As you both probably guessed.”

“Well since we have such a strong working relationship with your boy you can call us Harley and Ivy. You must both be so proud of the big lug.” Harley said as Ivy nodded along. “I don’t know if you guys hear this from people but it can’t be often enough. Thank you for making sure he grew up with such a strong moral compass.”

“Oh we didn’t do much really.” Martha Kent began to dismiss the praise only to be fixed with a much more convincing look from Ivy.

“No, you did.” The green skinned woman said in a serious tone.

“I’d say only a third of the people here are in on the secret, and for sure that gaggle of reporters and acquaintances we just scared off don’t know a thing about Clark’s moonlighting.” Harley went on as she took Martha’s hands in her own. “But really. Thank you both for raising such a hero.”

The older woman managed to hold back a brief gasp and more than a few tears as her eyes met with Harley’s. A moment that danced the line between proud and terrified passed before the farmer’s wife realized that the strange couple before her might be worthy of her trust. “He is worth every sacrifice we made.”

“We couldn’t be more proud of the man Clark has become.” Jonathan Kent added with a tender smile as he put an arm over his wife’s shoulder. “Especially since he’ll be going by Clark Kent-Lane now.”

“What makes you think they won’t go with Lane-Kent?” Martha asked with a sly smirk.

“I don’t think Lois is going to hyphenate.” Harley chimed in as the older couple held a conversation with their eyes that veered further and further into the realm of unspoken innuendo.

“That’s just a public career thing.” Ivy remarked as she looked across the dance floor to the newlyweds that still swayed to music while lost in each other’s eyes. “Besides, when the space stuff starts coming up she’ll be the first to refer to herself as Lois El.”

“El?” Martha and Jonathan asked as they came up from the silent exchange that had consumed all but a sliver of their attention. “Who’s last name is El?” Martha asked.

“Kal El.” Harley said before the confused looks in the older couple’s eyes registered. “Seriously? He doesn’t even know his Kryptonian name?”

“We never figured out what that strange writing meant.” Jonathan whispered as a worried look came over Martha’s face.

“What else do you two know about our son?” The older woman asked as she looked to the pair of Star Sapphires.

“Oh, there’s not much more.” Harley admitted with a sideways glance to the couple at the center of the dance floor. “Life on Krypton was different. Extended families there were organized into something like clans. One of the most powerful families was the great house of El. Your son wears the family crest just about everywhere he goes.”

“The S.” Martha said as realization dawned.

“Bingo.” Harley said. “All the houses had a different symbol in that diamond shape. I’m trying to remember if the crest stands for something but my memory is a little fuzzy.” The blonde then turned to her emerald skinned Love with a smile. “We’ll have to bone up on comic book lore in our next life Baby. Never know when we’ll end up in a dimension as weird as this one.”

“Of course Sweetie.” Ivy agreed as she briefly tightened her grip on her Love’s waist.

“The S was all over the inside of his pod.” Jonathan said to his wife as he recalled the day their son had crash landed into their lives. “We always wondered why that one letter was so important.”

“What else can you tell us about the houses?” Martha asked the two women who seemed dangerously close to getting lost in their own little world.

“Oh.” Harley whispered as she realized the Groom’s parents were now far more interested in what she had to say. “There’s not much else I remember. Really there are only two Houses that ever show up in the stories after Krypton falls. Let’s just be thankful no one from the House of Zod has popped up on Earth.”

“How do you know no one from that House is on Earth?” Jonathan asked.

“Oh that’s easy.” Harley said with a laugh. “Our species hasn’t been enslaved by any crazy Kryptonian generals.”

“Enslaved?” Martha asked. The word conjured up worries she had in the early years of her son’s childhood. When the pod first crashed down in the back field of their farm Martha worried that their world would end. When she first saw the helpless baby boy nestled in the small alien craft she worried that he would never have the life or childhood he deserved. In the days after Jonathan hid the pod under their barn she worried that men from the government or the military would show up one day and take their son away. Never had she worried that her son or the people from his other world would threaten life on Earth.

“Don’t worry about it.” Harley assured the nervous couple. “If the warlord we’re talking about had shown up before the big guy started saving the world he might have been a threat. But the League is more than capable of handling one or two super strong despots.”

Harley’s words did little to quell the fears now blossoming in Martha and Jonathan Kent. They knew their son would do everything he could to protect the world. They just hoped that in doing so he would never be forced to kill one of the last members of his own species.

********************

“Are you enjoying the ceremony my Queen?” The young redheaded Atlantean woman asked.

“Oh yes Tula.” Mera said with an upbeat smile as she let one palm rest on her swollen belly. “It’s so rare that we are blessed with the opportunity to engage our surface friends. Are you and the boys making the most of this time spent with the Titans and your fellow Birds of Prey?”

“Of course my Queen.” Tula said with a polite bow. “Barbara has been eager to hear all about my studies in the mystic arts, and Dick has already introduced Garth and Kaldur’ahm to all the young men who have joined the team in the time before our King’s return to the League.”

“Have you met with Lantern Rayner and his betrothed?” Mera asked the young merwoman. “It has been quite some time since I have met such a gifted Seer.”

“The boys said she was instrumental in pointing out threats to this gathering.” Tula said as she looked across the dance floor to see the couple in question laughing as they swayed to the music. “But that can’t be the only reason you’ve taken a liking to her my Queen.”

“Indeed.” Mera said with a small sigh. “The tedium of maintaining a royal countenance and demeanor demands I only associate with true peers, and yet there are few if any “queens” among the surface nations who are my equal. Aside from Cat Grant and her whimsical title as Queen of all Media that is. Any human woman capable of building an empire such as hers is a worthy ally.”

“So aside from her the wives of heroes will have to do.” Tula said as she saw where the woman her people adored was going.

The Queen of Atlantis let out a brief laugh at the insinuation of her handmaiden. “No dear, not just wives.” Mera said. “I have come to the decision that I shall embrace any determined woman who has managed to charm a mate of incredible character and power. Aside from gaining the devotion of a gifted Lantern young Cassie is gifted with divine gifts the people of my homeland have always respected and even worshipped. I expect great things from her and the young women wise enough to seek her council.”

“I understand my Queen.” Tula said as she gave the young blonde on the arm of the youngest human Green Lantern a closer look. “I’ll be sure to speak with both her and Barbara about working together in the near future.”

“You make me so proud Tula.” Mera said with a warm smile as she let one hand rest on the girl’s shoulder. “But do go and enjoy the party. It is rare that we are blessed with such a peaceful gathering.”

“At once my Queen.” Tula said with a bow before turning and seeking out a nearby group of young heroines that had gathered in one corner of the dance floor. The Queen of Atlantis took a moment to watch her student unwind. Her reverie drew to a close as a familiar voice stole her attention.

“You’re so good with her.” Ivy said as she stepped up beside Mera. “I suspect it’s more than just the fact that she’s your favorite student.”

“I see much of my younger self in that girl.” Mera admitted as she once more let a hand rest on her stomach. “That and it would be nice to know there is another strong and capable woman I’ll be able to depend on once the heir is born.”

“You have no lack of friends here Mera.” Ivy assured the queen. “If anything comes up give Harley and me a call. We’d be honored to visit your palace.”

“Even with your dependence on sunlight?” Mera asked the emerald toned redhead.

“There’s a few spells we’ve mastered that can make up the difference.” Ivy added with a sly smile. “There’s also a few things we should be taking a more active role in with our duties as Star Sapphires.”

“While my respect for Ms. Farris taking over the role of leadership in your Corps is considerable I hardly think my pregnancy merits a Lantern affair.” Mera said as she gave the woman at her side a questioning glance.

“A child conceived out of Love who will one day shape the world.” Ivy said as if the pregnant queen’s first child’s fate was already written. “That seems like something the Lantern Corps dedicated to the power of Love should offer assistance with.”

Mera let out another short laugh as Ivy’s words sunk in. “If only more Lanterns were so wise.”

“If only.” Ivy agreed as her Love came up and wrapped an arm around her waist. “Hi Sweetie.”

“Hi yourself Baby.” Harley replied with a light kiss. After a long and all too pleasurable moment the kiss was broken and Ivy noticed they had been joined by a few other Atlanteans.

“My Queen!” King Orin nearly shouted in joy as he embraced his pregnant wife. “We must share at least one dance.”

“I’d be delighted my King.” Mera said with a smile as her husband led her onto the dance floor. As the royal couple lost themselves in the music Harley and Ivy looked to the two young men who had been left at their side.

“So how are you boys holding up with running security for those two?” Harley asked Garth and Kaldur’ahm.

“Tula is more proficient at organizing such security measures by far.” Kaldur’ahm admitted with a polite nod to the two Star Sapphires.

“Mostly we’ve just been walking around this place looking intimidating.” Garth said. “Dick and Barbara were the real heroes when it came to securing this event.”

“And Cassie.” A new voice added. “I can’t tell you guys how impressed I was when she noticed that box of evil rocks before my wards went off.” Zatanna said as she walked up to the small gathering with her father at her side. “Daddy I believe you wanted to meet Ivy.”

“Yes my darling.” Zatara told his daughter before he turned to face the botanist. “I wanted to thank you so much for freeing me.” He said as he bowed to the woman. “I’ve already expressed my gratitude to your lovely paramour, but I owe you both just so much more than words can express.”

“It was our pleasure.” Ivy assured the man before he could outright prostrate himself at their feet.

“The ghost trapped in that helmet was an arrogant jerk.” Harley chimed in. “You are much better company.”

“Thank you both.” Zatara said once more as he came back up to face the couple. “I must say I’m glad that I finally regained my wits in time for this ceremony. I’d have regretted missing the chance to congratulate Clark and Ms. Lane.”

“I’m sure they knew you supported them all along Dad.” Zatanna added.

“Of course dear.” He said.

“The way I heard it we have Harley to thank for this day coming so soon.” Garth chimed in with a reserved nod to the psychiatrist.

“Had she not inundated the Man of Steel with such compelling visions he might have dragged his feet for years.” Kaldur’ahm agreed.

“Oh stop you two.” Harley said with a laugh and a mildly dismissive wave. “The big guy just needed the right motivation.”

“Which you gave him Sweetie.” Ivy said as she pulled her Love closer to her body. As the two women lost themselves in each other’s eyes the magicians and the mermen realized their presence would soon be unnecessary and took the opportunity to discretely exit. Each moved off to mingle with other heroes and wedding guests as Harley and Ivy were left to their own devices. No one could fault the happy couple.

********************

“Those two seem like they’re having fun.” Amy said as she followed her girlfriend’s lead on the dance floor.

“Any reason they shouldn’t?” Diana asked as she held Amy all the closer to her chest.

“No.” The smaller brunette admitted as she felt nearly every inch of the muscular Amazon princess press against her. “I just didn’t expect them to be able to relax in this crowd. What with the big fight you told me about.”

“Darling, that was nearly a year ago.” Diana said as the music sped up to something ill suited for romantic slow dances. “Besides it’s not like that was the first time most of these boys, what’s the expression? Got the taste slapped out of their mouths?”

Amy couldn’t help but laugh at her girlfriend’s attempt at American slang. “Oh wow Babe, where did you even hear that?”

“I can’t recall.” Diana admitted as she began to grind the former witch against her to the pounding beat of the music. “It was either from one of the Bat-children or from Harley.”

Amy spun in Diana’s arms so that she could fully grind her hips and ass against the larger woman. “I still can’t get over the fact that I’m at a wedding with all of the most famous mask and cape types in the world.” She whispered into the Amazon’s ear. “Or that I’m the pet of one of their main leaders.”

“You are far more than my pet Amy!” Diana protested with a serious tone that betrayed how far Amy’s joke had flown over her head. “Don’t think for an instant that I hold you with so little regard!”

“Babe.” Amy chuckled as she tried to calm the tense Amazon’s. “I’m kidding. I know you care about me.” A moment passed before Amy took on a sly grin and an overtly seductive voice. “And it’s not like I even object to being your pet. I can think of at least a few fun things we could do with that magic lasso of yours.”

Diana froze as the playful innuendo unleashed a torrent of possibilities in her mind. She had been teetering on the edge of making just such a suggestion for weeks now. If Amy was making the suggestion herself then she was ready and willing. At least that would be the case if she was born and raised as an Amazon.

“Are you sure Darling?” Diana asked in an almost timid voice. “I’ve been meaning to ask you, but I was waiting to be sure, I just didn’t want to scare you off.”

“Oh Diana.” Amy whispered in amusement as she pulled her Amazon into her warm embrace. “I’m dating the badass warrior goddess who runs around dressed like a star spangled dominatrix. If I wasn’t willing and interested in trying out at least a little kink I’d never have made it on your island, let alone be able to call myself your girl.”

The joy that bloomed in Diana’s heart knew no bounds. With excited laughter and an outpouring of renewed hope she scooped up her girlfriend and swung her around in a circle. “Oh Amy. There are not words for how happy you make me.”

“There’s a few.” Amy ventured with a playful smirk. “But none of them are suitable for the wedding reception of a straight guy with super hearing.”

“True my darling.” Diana agreed before pulling her girlfriend into a brief yet deep kiss that bespoke of heartfelt passion and desire. “All too true.”

********************

“It’s good to see those two hitting it off.” Ivy said as she and Harley stood off to one side of the dance floor. “At least a few people found true happiness in the wreckage of that awful day.”

“I guess it’s a good thing we stomped the caveman and his Legion into the ground.” Harley agreed with her Love. “Oh, and bonus, with Amy shacking up with Wonder Britches over there she won’t ever get around to enacting horrible vengeance on us like she did the first time through.”

“Just how horrible are we talking here?” Kyle asked as he and Cassie joined the couple.

“A few months after some creep killed my girl she cursed me so that if I tried to move on with anyone else I’d guilt trip myself into becoming just as much of a monster as him.” Harley admitted with a voice that was devoid of the cheer and humor that she had exuded all day long. “I ended up with a glamour that made me look like him. Things got crazier and crazier until I ended up buying the same kind of gun he used to kill her and went after my rebound girlfriend.”

“Oh my god.” Cassie whispered as Kyle stood there in shock.

“That’s not even the worst part.” Harley went on. “Two years after I had killed my girl’s killer she brought the son of a bitch back to life as a skinless freak just to torment my friends.”

“Why skinless?” Barbara asked as she and Dick walked up with an older man at the redhead’s side.

“Because after she hunted the killer down she skinned him alive.” Cassie said with a far too calm voice considering the subject matter. Shocked looks from the three newcomers caused the young blonde to almost laugh as she waved off their fears. “Oh don’t even think about feeling sorry for that scumbag. He was a rapist and a murderer who spent a whole year plotting the death of the one female hero that fought to save the people in his hometown. When he couldn’t beat her to death in a rigged fight he walked into her back yard with a gun.”

“You saw that Cassie?” Harley asked in a suddenly worried tone.

“We both did.” Kyle replied in a whisper as he held Cassie’s hand. “One of her visions showed my old self sitting beside the body for hours. I knew I just couldn’t leave her.”

“Oh Sweetie.” Ivy said as she pulled both Kyle and Cassie into her arms. The botanist quietly wondered what played the biggest role in deciding what the young couple saw in their incomplete glimpses of events from other worlds. Cassie had seen the entirety of events surrounding Ivy’s first death, but reacted with genuine shock at the role Amy played in the aftermath months later. “We’re not letting that ever happen again.”

“Ever!” Harley agreed more sternly than Barbara, Dick and the older man at their side seemed to feel comfortable with.

“And just how far would you both go to avenge the other?” Barbara asked in a more accusing tone.

“Ask the Joker, Vandal Savage and Lex Luthor.” Harley answered with an almost convincingly innocent sing song voice.

Before the young redhead could fire back another comment the older man at her side put a hand on her shoulder. “Barbara, please.” He said in an almost indecipherable whisper. The young woman turned to glare at him but faltered at the haunted and broken look in his eyes.

“Dad?” Barbara asked.

“If it had been you.” He began while fighting off the emotion that threatened to choke each syllable. “If someone had shown up on your doorstep with a gun, I don’t know what I’d do. Please don’t hold how much these two love each other against them.” Both Barbara and Dick had the good sense to remain quiet as the man’s words filled the air between them all.

“Thank you Commissioner.” Ivy said as she released Kyle and Cassie from her arms. She gave the ranking police official a wary appraisal before nodding to him. “I was so relieved to hear that you and your department no longer consider me a serious threat.”

“Yeah, thanks for that Jimbo.” Harley chimed in with a playful smirk as she draped her arms around Ivy’s shoulders. “The missus and I were not looking forward to any old arrest warrants popping up in our new life together.”

“Don’t mention it ladies.” Jim Gordon almost chuckled as he waved off their gratitude. “After you both handled the mess with that damn clown my life became so much easier. With Bruce’s girlfriend over there and the penguin deciding to “reform” and the fact that the other crazies have gone to ground I’ve been able to repurpose department resources to fighting mob bosses and corrupt business owners like Falcone and Daggett.”

“What about this Queen of Hearts Barbara mentioned earlier?” Ivy asked. She noticed the slight flinch from the Commissioner at the mention of the unknown criminal. Harley and Ivy both wondered just how much of a threat the fiend posed to their old city.

“That nut is the craziest of the crazies.” Gordon admitted with a sigh. “For some reason the Queen can pull crews together faster than any other player on the streets and never stays in Arkham long enough to even change out of that ridiculous costume. The S.O.B. manages to eat up whole weeks worth of Batman’s time being hunted but never manages to steal enough or hurt enough people to warrant being locked away in Arkham’s highest security wing.”

“Has anyone thought about calling in the League to help deal with the nutcase?” Cassie asked. Her seemingly innocuous question caused several of those around her to cringe ever so slightly. The only ones who took the question in stride were Harley and Ivy. For them the mention of the League had the opposite effect it had on the Commissioner and the young heroes around the Seer.

“Babe.” Kyle said in an almost nervous voice as Harley and Ivy began to cackle at the mention of the League. “Calling in the League is kind of the nuclear option. This Queen of Hearts sounds like a pain in the butt, but it’s still up to the Bat weather or not he wants the others to come in and mess around with the small timers in his city.”

“But the League rushes into the cities protected by its members all the time?” Cassie protested as Dick and Barbara stayed remarkably quiet.

“Yeah, when guys like Luthor or that damn clown threaten the entire city with a bomb or bio weapon.” Kyle said. He held gently onto his fiancé’s hands as he spoke. “But no one in the League’s roster even bothers to phone in when they’re responding to an ordinary bank robbery. Yeah, I mean if I was in Gotham and heard about a heist going down I’d swing by to see if Batman or anyone on his team wanted my help, but I wouldn’t charge in and permanently nail one of his rogues to the wall without getting his input first.”

“Don’t worry Sweetie.” Ivy said once she and Harley finally stopped laughing. “This Queen sounds like all the other Arkham rogues. A high functioning schizophrenic that has just enough charm to sway a handful of thugs into joining their crew. She won’t last.”

“Not like us anyway, right Baby?” Harley added while casting a knowing smirk and a few exaggerated eyebrow waggles at the three Gotham residents. Each had the good sense to ignore the former psychiatrist’s baited comment. Harley let the bad joke quietly fade away before turning her gaze to the dance floor. The sight that greeted her drew a much more genuine smile. “Speaking of eccentric power couples, it looks like Bruce and Selina are having a grand old time.”

“They deserve it.” Ivy said as everyone turned to take in the sight of the billionaire and the partly reformed cat burglar. Selina smiled as Bruce leaned down to whisper something in her ear. The laughter that erupted from Selina drew a few brief and worried glances before those around the couple decided to leave well enough alone. “They’ve had to put up with almost as much crap as the bride and groom.”

“I’ll say.” Barbara agreed with the woman she had once helped Bruce lock away in Arkham. For their parts her father and Dick remained quiet while nodding along with the young redhead.

********************

“The kids managed to pull off the nearly impossible.” Bruce said as he led Selina through a classical waltz. “I really expected a fight to break out much sooner.”

“Not under Dick and Babb’s watch.” Selina remarked dryly as she caught sight of the two young heroes and the Commissioner out of the corner of her eye. “You raised some great kids.” She admitted only to take a far too long pause before tacking on a qualifier that always brought a smirk to her face. “Even if the oldest has better tastes in lesbians than he does in straight gals.”

Bruce could only cringe at the embarrassing fact about the first boy he had taken into his home. “Dick just hasn’t met the right girl yet. Or he has and she’s taking her time.”

“Or she got scared off by his constant palling around with that cute redheaded school girl that has built her own personal harem out of one of the “B” teams.” Selina quipped back.

“That’s also possible.” Bruce admitted. “And the Birds of Prey are more than just some tawdry sexual fantasy Barbara cooked up.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know.” Selina dismissed his protest with a wave of her hand. “You really think I don’t get the whole “Women Power” “take back the night” vibe the girls have? I practically invented that whole shtick.”

“Yes Dear.” Bruce agreed with the barely reformed thief who had stolen his heart. “Speaking of the kids, it looks like Tim made some new friends.”

“Good for him.” Selina replied as she saw the boy moving along the edge of the dance floor with Billy Batson and Carter Grant in tow. “Though I don’t envy the long distance mess they’ll have to deal with.”

“Maybe, maybe not.” Bruce said as he too watched his youngest cavort with the two boys close to his own age. “I have an idea about that but I need to talk with Cat and Billy’s guardian first.”

“You’re going to buy the kid a ticket to that fancy prep school you send the boys, aren’t you?” Selina asked as she recognized the look in her rich boyfriend’s eyes.

“The Tomas and Martha Wayne Foundations both have more than enough scholarships to Gotham Academy for Billy to get a great education.” Bruce said as he tried to rationalize his decision to throw a ridiculous amount of money at such a minor problem. “Plus I can always hire his uncle on as a part time consultant for something my company is doing. They both might enjoy a fresh start in Gotham.”

“And Cat?” Selina asked as it became apparent that Wayne Enterprises had little to offer the CEO of CatCo.

“She’s more than welcome to bring Carter along if she decides to open a branch in our town.” He said. “If anything I’m worried that Cat’s takeover will make Vicki Vale turn to a life of crime.”

“Hardly!” Selina cried out with a laugh. “If anything that skank will just start hooking.”

“Whoa now!” Bruce cried out in surprise at his girlfriend’s venomous rebuttal. “Where did that come from?”

“She knows what she did.” Selina grumbled as she continued to dance with the man so many outsiders had accused her of swindling.

Bruce took a moment to absorb Selina’s words. He had long ago written off what the gossip rags said of his beloved. None of them knew the woman he knew. None took the time to see her for more than her skintight cat suit. He knew he had to tell her all the things he had been feeling from the moment she sauntered into his life.

“I’ve gotta say something, because I don’t think I’ve made it clear. I’m in love with you. Powerfully, painfully in love. The things you do. The way you think. The way you move. I get excited every time I’m about to see you. You make me feel like I’ve never felt before in my life.” Bruce paused as the tears built up in Selina’s eyes. “Like a hero. I just thought you might want to know.”

As emotion choked back any response Selina could let out she did the one thing she new would get her point across. The kiss took Bruce by surprise and just as the song ended two weary souls melted into one another in the middle of the dance floor. The couple remained oblivious to the warm smiles and encouraging catcalls from all the nearby wedding guests who knew of the couple’s nightly routine played out across the rooftops of Gotham City.

********************

“Okay but seriously though, why isn’t Vixen a member of the League?” Harley asked the small crowd of heroes who had gathered around one of the refreshment tables.

“Thank you!” Diana all but shouted in an exasperated huff as Amy chuckled at her tall, muscular, Amazonian girlfriend’s side. Dinah Lance let out an amused smirk and nodded along with Diana.

“What were her powers again?” Kaldur’ahm asked as he looked back and forth between several nervous faces.

“She can copy the abilities of any member of the Animal Kingdom.” Oliver Queen said.

“Oh, you mean like Beast Boy.” Victor said as he finished up another discreet security scan of the reception hall.

“No, nothing like Beast Boy.” Barry Allen complained. “He’s a green shapeshifter. Vixen touches her hand to a magic amulet and then gets as strong or fast or agile as whatever animal she can think of.”

“Plus she can fly, breath under water, turn nearly invisible with six different flavors of camouflage.” Oliver went on before pausing as he recalled one strange stake out he had went on with the woman in question. “Oh and have any of you ever seen her do the cuttlefish thing?”

“The what now?” More than a few voices asked in unison.

“Rapid chromatic oscillation.” Kaldur’ahm said as he realized what they were talking about.

“Cuttlefish do this thing with their skin that feels like staring into a Technicolor strobe light while on an acid trip.” Ivy drew more than a few concerned looks with her comment. “I spent a year trying to engineer a species of giant flower that could do the same thing. Nothing worked.”

“Sounds fun.” Hal Jordan said before looking back to Harley. “The League already scouted out Animal Man and he was kind of flaky.”

“Oh please!” Harley shot back. “Animal man is a complete ding bat.”

“And he can’t do the cuttlefish thing like Vixen can.” Oliver admitted.

“Like it would kill you men to get at least a few more women on the League.” Diana added before looking across the dance floor to Barbara and Dick. “Batgirl keeps poaching all the good female talent before any of you even get the chance to meet with them.”

“The Birds’ roster has grown in the last few months.” Barry admitted before looking over to Oliver. “Think Vixen will want to join up and even the teams out?”

“If I meet with her and make an offer are you and Victor going to convince Star Labs to put a Zeta tube in Detroit?” Oliver asked. “You know how hard it is to get her to swing by Central City. She’ll want her own teleporter or she’ll just blow us off again.”

“To be fair we did kind of just show up on her father’s doorstep in full battle gear.” Barry admitted as Victor and several other heroes in the group began to laugh.

“What about Icon?” Hal Jordan asked. “Superman keeps bringing up the possibility that he might be another Kryptonian like him.”

“Yeah, but the big guy thought Captain Marvel was a Kryptonian too.” Oliver reminded the Lantern as they turned to see Billy Batson, Tim Drake and Carter Grant sneaking around the edge of the reception hall. The three boys were up to something and none of the adults observing them wanted to be caught in the crossfire.

“Icon is not a Kryptonian.” Kyle dismissed the notion out of hand.

Cassie jumped in with a more thorough explanation. “He’s an alien lawyer whose escape pod altered his DNA to make him look like the slaves on the cotton plantation where he crash landed over a hundred years ago.” The entire group stopped to stare at the young blonde. None could process the seemingly outlandish back story she had laid out.

“Besides, Icon is kind of really conservative and depressing when you get to know him.” Harley added. A moment passed before her eyes lit up again. “Oh, but as long as we’re talking about Dakota based heroes Ivy and I can get you a meeting with Static Shock and his sidekick Gear.”

“You’ve met Static Shock?” Victor asked with sudden renewed interest.

“When were you two in Dakota City?” Diana asked with a slightly quirked grin.

“We tracked the kid down to help us develop the energy prison Major Force is trapped in.” Harley explained. “He helped us stress test the prototype before we sent the design specs off to Star Labs. They’re both really great kids. Oh! The last time we swung by the “Gas Station of Solitude” Gear was installing his own closed circuit Zeta Tube Prototype. Give them a look at your setup and they’ll probably be able to hook up with your Zeta network on their own.”

“The Titans call dibs on Static and Gear.” Victor called out before any of the older heroes present could speak.

“Aww!” Barry moaned in annoyance.

“To be fair the League already has a few members capable of producing lightning with their bare hands.” Kaldur’ahm remarked.

“The kid is right.” Oliver agreed. “Plus it’s not like the teams really stay segregated anymore. Dick and Barbara already have every member of the Birds and Titans fill in for active duty rotations on the Watchtower.”

“We’ll make a few calls and see what we can muster up for you guys in Dakota.” Harley said before something across the room caught her eye. “But first there’s someone I just have to go mess with. Come on Baby.”

With a heartfelt laugh Ivy was pulled away from the stunned heroes and all but half way across the room. Few of them could grasp the former psychiatrist’s motivations. Though they all knew that the time for second guessing the pair of Star Sapphires had long since passed.

********************

“So Zatanna seems nice.” Barbara said as she and Dick went through the motions of an improvised tango with far more grace and flair than anyone else still on the dance floor.

“You interested?” Dick asked with a knowing smirk as the music sped up and the beat all but drowned out the cheers of the crowd around them. “I thought you didn’t go for daddy’s girls?”

“Very funny smart ass.” Barbara deadpanned as she let Dick spin her away and then pull her back with a flourish that led seamlessly into a dip. “We were talking about your train wreck of a love life. Not mine. What about Lane’s little sister?”

“Even if she didn’t have more daddy issues than Zatanna she still has her eyes on that tall ebony slab of muscles behind the press badge and the camera. And I doubt anyone would call your little harem a train wreck.” Dick quipped as he pulled her back up. “Tell me, how many of the Birds call you Barbara Senpai?”

“That’s it! No more hentai for you and Tim!” She snapped as she once again spun to face her grinning dance partner. “And I’m not fucking any of my girls. Which is more than can be said for the boy’s club we both provide tactical support for.”

Dick let out an amused laugh before protesting her claim. “The League isn’t that bad about interpersonal affairs.”

Barbara scoffed at the level of denial her friend was capable of. “Batman recruited Catwoman after they started a relationship. Green Arrow and Black Canary are all but married and got caught a dozen different times using the League comms channel for phone sex. And that’s not even counting the times they’ve been caught bickering in the field. Hal Jordan and his on again off again thing with the first pink ranger.

“Violet Lantern.” Dick corrected as they circled each other at arms length.

“Whatever!” Barbara dismissed his correction out of hand. “Do I really have to mention Wonder Woman and her newest little slip of a girl.”

“I think they’re counting that one as an attempt to reform a known villain.” Dick tried his best as Barbara advanced on him and marched him backwards across the dance floor. With deceptive ease she took the lead and led their tango through another flourish that impressed the crowd. “Don’t tell me you’re jealous.”

“Jealous!” Barbara all but shouted before laughing in his face. “If I wanted to I could screw any beautiful woman here. Don’t talk to me about jealousy when you’ve been on a marathon dry spell for the better part of a year.”

“I know, I know, you’ve got that swag that all the girls just can’t resist.” Dick relented as he was dipped nearly to the floor. “Well, almost all the girls.” He said as his eyes landed on the two infamous Star Sapphires.

“Don’t even go there.” Barbara snapped as she pulled him up from their dip. “Like I’d ever go for one of your old man’s sloppy seconds.”

“I don’t think Bruce ever screwed either of them.” Dick said as they bowed to their cheering audience and walked off the dance floor.

“He’s fought both of them.” Barbara said as they returned to the open bar. “You’ve seen the way he’s run around with chicks like Selina and Talia. For guys like him a good fight is on par with a good lay. Just be glad the Queen of Hearts isn’t his type.”

“Oh god, don’t even joke about that.” Dick moaned as he downed the nearest glass of hard liquor.

“Relax Boy Wonder. Your pops is monogamous now.” She teased Dick with far too wicked a grin. “I’d bet almost anything that the next wedding we all go to will be for him and Selina.”

Dick simply sighed and nodded along with the inevitable outcome. For so long he had dreaded the hold Selina had on the man who raised him. It had only been in recent months that he and Selina came to respect that they each had an important place in Bruce’s life. As Dick took another drink he marveled at how far many of the people all around him had come. Old friends he had all but lost completely now danced and laughed side by side once again. If nothing else he was glad that they had been granted a brief respite in their ceaseless struggles.

********************

“Lucy! J’onn!” Harley was a pillar of cheerful smiles and unending joy as she led Ivy over to the small group. “We were looking to catch up with you guys again. Baby, this is Jimmy Olsen.” Harley informed Ivy with a friendly wave to the tall ebony figure Lucy was practically wrapped around.

“It’s James.” The man said as he reached out to Ivy with an open hand.

“Ivy.” She said with a smile as she shook his hand before glancing to a younger ebony woman standing beside J’onn and the tall muscular teen her other arm was interlaced with. The couple could instantly see the close family resemblance he shared with the groom. “I don’t think we’ve had the pleasure of meeting these two.”

“Where are my manners?” J’onn J’onzz asked as he turned to the young woman and smiled. “This is my niece M’gann M’orzz, and her boyfriend.”

“Conner Kent.” The young man said as he too offered his hand.

Harley was quick to take it with a smile that soon turned into a full blown smirk. “You know I was looking forward to finally meeting Clark’s boy. I can’t tell you how relived I am that the boy’s brigade managed to sneak you out of Cadmus.”

Every person standing in the small group froze at Harley’s words. Conner’s polite expression hardened before being completely replaced with one of mild surprise. He glanced down at their still joined hands before meeting Harley’s eyes once more. “You’re not what I expected Ms. Quinn.” He could feel the strength of the slender blonde’s grip. She was squeezing with more than enough pressure to crush the bones in a normal person’s hand.

“We always try for the unexpected.” Harley told him as she loosened the iron hard grip she had on his hand. The minor show of physical strength had been a taxing gamble but one that paid off. Harley and Ivy had spent an entire evening brainstorming ways to keep Clark’s young clone on his toes. Even with Ivy’s free hand at the small of her back giving her an extra boost of mystical energy Harley still needed a surprising amount of power to meet and even slightly exceed the young man’s grip. The look on his face proved the convoluted trick was more than worth it.

“How could you tell who he was right away?” Lucy asked as she and James took on more guarded expressions.

“Aura reading.” Ivy said as she reached over to a passing waiter and took two tall thin glasses of wine off his serving tray. Once he was gone she continued. “Martians and Kryptonians have unique auras that can be spotted a mile away. Even in this crowd.”

“Martians!” M’gann let out a horrified yelp before forcing an unconvincing laugh. “There are no Martians here! That’s crazy talk!”

“Relax M’gann.” J’onn assured the girl. “We are among friends.”

“Uncle J’onn!” She protested before quieting down to a pained whisper. “They attacked you.”

“They saved me from losing my free will.” Said the older Martian disguised as a human of medium height, broad shoulders and dark complexion.

“Not to interrupt but just what do auras look like to Star Sapphires?” Lucy asked before M’gann or Conner could say something more.

“Oh Star Sapphires can’t see auras.” Ivy began to answer but chose to cheekily evade the question. “We’re witches.”

“Well they can but only when a person is just overflowing with Love.” Harley added. Another playful smirk crossed her face before she went on with a more graphic explanation. “Or in some cases horniness.” The last word was followed with distinct eyebrow wiggling directed at the tall photojournalist.

“Okay! Who needs Drinks?” James cried out before the conversation could veer further off course. “Conner? J’onn? Either of you guys want to help me get another round?”

J’onn smiled as Conner gave Harley and Ivy another wary look. “Yeah, sure, okay.” The young Kryptonian said as he leaned in to kiss M’gann’s cheek. “Be safe my love.” With that he and J’onn followed the photographer to the bar.

“I’m impressed ladies.” Harley said as she and Ivy watched the boys retreat. “For a couple of straight girls you’ve got good tastes in boy toys.”

“Conner is not a boy toy!” M’gann snapped as Ivy and Harley began to laugh. A moment later Lucy was also bent over in hysterical glee.

“Oh wow.” Lucy said as she finally regained her composure. “You gals scared the boys off faster then I thought you would. I’m kinda impressed.”

“Nah, J’onn is a soft touch and the other two are whipped.” Harley said with an all too modest wave. “And to answer your question most human auras have a soft glow that radiates from their heart. Martians have the same aura patterns as all other shape shifters, constantly moving waves that flow like water within their silhouettes. Kryptonians are all hard edges and rigid lines that orbit and twirl around each other without ever touching.”

“At least that’s what auras look like in this dimension.” Ivy added.

“Right, some other worlds we’ve lived through play by different rules.” Harley agreed as she and Ivy interlaced their fingers. “But colorful light is a common theme.”

“So you could spot us right away?” M’gann asked as she suddenly grew worried about the wider implications. “How many magic users can do this? Why hasn’t Uncle J’onn been found out on missions before?”

“Relax Meg.” Harley said all too calmly as she waved off the young alien’s concerns. “There aren’t any other witches or sorcerers in our league. The few who were close weren’t as good at this as we are and few criminals ever bother to learn aura reading since it has no flashy combat tricks.”

“You said were.” Lucy said once Harley drew to a close. “Why the past tense?”

“Well the two top spell casters in this world that had any hope of matching us are gone because they tried to write checks with their mouths that their butts couldn’t cash.” Harley answered the question with what felt like an out of place smile to the bride’s sister.

“Who were they?” M’gann asked.

“Well Dr. Fate was the big one we took out of play first.” Ivy admitted before a sly smirk worked its way into her voice. “But we could tell that ghost had no actual talent for the art.”

“The other was well, Circe.” Harley said as she cast her gaze back to the edge of the dance floor to find the tall Amazon laughing along with something said by the slender brunette in her arms. “As you can clearly see the Queen of all the Lesbians has made it her personal mission to fuck the wicked out of what’s left of that witch.”

“And then some.” Lucy agreed as M’gann let out a genuine giggle. “I’m really surprised this day turned out so well. My sister is such a disaster magnet like every other day of the year. I half expected one of Clark’s pains in the ass to bust through the front of the wedding hall half way through the ceremony.”

“We all chipped in to make sure their special day was a good one.” M’gann told Lucy. “Mr. Kent does so much for everyone, this was the least we could give him and your sister.”

“If only Dad felt the same way.” Lucy sighed as she felt the young Martian’s comforting hand on her shoulder.

“We were wondering how much the General objected to this whole thing since he’s so completely absent.” Harley said as she and Ivy moved closer to Lucy to offer what comfort they could. “We knew he had a problem with the big blue boy scout, but we didn’t think that extended to Clark too.”

“Oh he has completely different issues with Clark Kent.” Lucy informed the other women. “The last time the three of us were together he sat Lois and I down and tried to convince us not to waste our lives on “worthless paparazzi.”

“He didn’t.” M’gann whispered in shock.

“He knows Clark and Lois have the same job right?” Harley asked as she fought to hold back a bout of woefully inappropriate laughter. “I mean Lois is much better at it than Clark and world famous for all the “paparazzi-ing” she does but they both still have degrees in journalism and work in the same bullpen.” There was a heavily sarcastic emphasis on the derogative term the bride’s father had used to describe the groom and potentially Lucy’s boyfriend.

“Little things like reality and a daughter’s self respect don’t matter to men like that.” Ivy whispered in barely restrained agitation.

“Lois stormed out of the room five seconds after he said the word paparazzi.” Lucy said as she went on with the tale of her family’s drama. “I made the mistake of staying to hear him out before trying to get him to see reason.”

“What did he do?” Harley asked.

“He went through the list of every black West Point grad he’s ever tried to set me up on blind dates with and asked why I couldn’t just settle on one of them to satisfy my, well, Jungle Fever.” Lucy told them as she made an effort to contain her own disgust. “Like I’m some bimbo who only sees race and just about any fit black guy would do! Do you have any idea how insulting that is?”

“I honestly can’t tell if that makes him more racist or less racist.” Harley admitted before she failed to stifle a chuckle. “Sorry, this isn’t supposed to be funny, is it?”

“It’s kind of funny.” Ivy admitted while giving Lucy an apologetic smile. A moment passed before the bride’s sister’s lips crack into a wide smile and all four women began to laugh.

J’onn, Conner and James returned to find the cackling women in much better spirits than they were just moments before. When James asked Lucy what was so funny he couldn’t begin to guess why his question caused their amusement to redouble in severity and volume. The three confused men could only smile and nod along with a joke they had clearly missed.

********************

“So your favorite couple is making the rounds.” Cassie said as she melded into her fiancé’s arms for the slow dance they had both been looking forward to.

“You know you love them too.” Kyle said as he held her all the closer.

“I do.” She admitted with a heartfelt laugh. The couple continued slowly dancing to the music that filled the reception hall. Towards the end of the song Kyle finally voiced concerns that had only grown as the day progressed.

“A part of me is worried they’ll take one of their jokes too far and alienate the few guests here that don’t have a sense of humor.” He whispered into Cassie’s ear. “They’ve done so much for us. I just don’t want another fight to break out between them and the “good guys.” Especially not if you and I are on the other side.”

“It won’t come to that Babe.” Cassie assured her Lantern. As she noticed the concerned look in his eyes the young seer knew she had to elaborate just a little more. “Oh there will be at least one more fight. Nothing can prevent that. But there won’t be any casualties. Harley and Ivy will swoop in, stop someone with the best of intentions from unleashing all hell on earth, and then on their way out they will leave the League with something that will make all they’ve done so far seem as trivial as helping an old woman cross the street.”

“Now I’m worried.” Kyle muttered as the music slowed and the dance came to a close. “What’s coming and how do we stop it?”

“That would be telling.” Cassie replied with a smirk. “But don’t worry, the few details I can see about that are amazing. When it happens you’ll be amazing and you’ll love what comes after.”

“I sure hope so.” Kyle relented as a new song began and he let his fiancé lead him off the dance floor.

“I know this is a lot to take on faith Babe.” Cassie admitted as she felt Kyle relax at her side. “But I promise it will all work out in the end. I just know it.”

“Well then we’re in luck.” Kyle said. He wrapped his arms around Cassie’s waist and pulled her closer into a gentle yet passionate embrace. “Because you are the one person in the entire universe that I have absolute faith in.”

“And as someone with a magic ring that lets him travel to all the other planets out there you mean that literally.” She added with a playful smile.

“Literally.” Kyle agreed just before he leaned in to kiss his fiancé.

********************

“No seriously, both of you should take the lead on this.” Harley went on in an animated fashion as she told two of the nation’s most important media moguls about the long term plans she and Ivy had cooked up. “I have seen this technology change entire industries on dozens of other worlds. Once it’s out there the outlets that don’t embrace the change will be left in the dust.”

“I still don’t know.” Perry White said as he stroked his thin beard. “You’re talking about disbanding the print portion of our print media empires altogether.”

“Going digital will allow your companies to reach the widest market possible while eliminating one of your largest business expenses.” Harley went on. “Once your content can be sent out over the internet without scribbling it all out on paper you’ll no longer be limited by physically shipping newspapers and magazines across your cities or even your states. You’ll be able to reach the entire planet with the press of a button.”

“I like it,” Cat Grant began to say only to pause as she looked the two women over once more, “but what about the printers and the delivery crews? That is a lot of jobs eliminated.”

“You’ll still need employees in those departments.” Ivy said. “The shift from print to digital will take time. You’ll still be making higher quality glossy magazines every month or so, just not the hundreds of thousands of tons of paper wasted on daily editions.” The botanist paused as she considered another point. “Also it would be nice if you could switch to recycled paper.”

“I don’t know about Perry here, but CatCo World Wide Media’s print division uses one hundred percent recycled paper.” Cat had a smug smirk as she glanced sideways at her former boss and current competitor.

Perry nearly coughed up a lung as he realized the thinly veiled accusation his former gossip columnist had thrown his way. His eyes shot back and forth between the infamous eco terrorist and the female CEO. “Whoa now, I’ll have you know the Daily Planet uses nothing but recycled paper for all our daily and weekly releases.”

“And monthly publications?” Cat asked with an almost sinister smirk.

“I’m working on it okay!” Perry snapped at the other media mogul. “I’ve got most of my board to sign off on the changes. I just need one or two holdouts to change their minds, retire or die of old age and we’ll be fully converted by the end of this quarter.”

“Sounds like someone needs to prune the dead weight in their board of directors.” Cat replied with an even more smug expression of delight. “Maybe you could ask Ivy here for some pointers. I hear she worked wonders for that one company that makes the cardboard boxes you use over at the Planet.”

“That was years ago.” Ivy said in a more defensive tone. “Besides, the Bat made sure there were no fatalities among the people I kidnapped.”

“Plus the hearings afterward uncovered the company’s illegal dumping and the human trafficking ring the COO was involved in.” Harley easily dismissed any concern for her Love’s former victims. “I don’t know about either of you but I’m against underage Malaysian prostitutes being smuggled across international borders.”

“We were talking about digital distribution.” Perry tried desperately to veer the conversation back on course. “My board will want to know how much we can charge.”

“That’s the best part.” Harley jumped back into the conversation. “There are pretty much three ways you can go. One pricing option is to charge a ridiculously high subscription fee for anyone who wants to read stories on your websites. Honestly that option is a trap that most companies fall for and it ends up sending all of their current and potential customers to the competition. I’d recommend against it.”

“What are the other two options?” Cat asked as Perry shook his head.

“Option two is to go completely free.” Harley said only to draw horrified looks from both media moguls. “Put access to the entirety of your news outlets into one app and allow users to download it to all their devices for free. They get to read every story, article and puff piece your companies put out every day and can easily search through archives of all the older pieces that you’ve printed since your first issues came out.”

“The board will never go for that.” Perry muttered as he tried to grasp what the woman was explaining. “We’d go bankrupt in a day. How would I pay my employees?”

“Ad revenue from space sold in the margins of every page your customers view.” Harley went on. “With your content being streamed to literally all the screens you’ll be able to charge more from current advertisers and attract more than ever before. People have trouble grasping this but with the right setup it’s possible to make millions more by giving something away for free than if you’d charged for that same thing in the first place.”

“I can see where you’re going with this but it will still be an uphill battle.” Cat said as she pieced together what Harley was saying. “I’d have trouble convincing even my board. Perry’s will never go for it. What’s the third option?”

“All of the above.” Ivy said only to draw bewildered looks from both the Chief Editor and the CEO.

“You give your customers a choice.” Harley elaborated. “Some of them will choose to pay a monthly subscription rate to view all of your content on an ad free version of the app. The rest will download the free app and prove that your advertisers will pay you a fortune for the chance to have their ads ignored by your users.”

“That just might work.” Cat whispered as she realized the third option was there mostly to trick her board into allowing the second option to flourish.

“What if our boards want to charge double our current rates for access to a pay per view app with ads?” Perry asked.

“Won’t work.” Harley said in a knowing tone that drew notice. “Tell them that idea has been market tested and it always ends badly for the companies involved.”

“How badly?” Perry asked. He just had to know.

Harley looked him squarely in the eye before explaining what she had seen a few dozen times. “Every alternate world we’ve come across where there is a major shift from physical to digital media has had at least one company that tried to gouge for access to their content. And every single time the company in question went bankrupt while losing all it’s customers to the competition that was giving something away for free.”

Before Harley could continue her sales pitch a shrill yet muffled voice interrupted everyone’s train of thought. “When Krypton blew up they didn’t ship us their best and brightest. We got their murderers, their rapists, their war criminals, and I assume some are good people.” Cat and Perry stood in stunned silence as the madwoman’s outlandish diatribe went on. Both recognized the voice right away.

“What does this crazy bitch want now?” Harley muttered as she pulled out her cell phone. “Senator Crane!” She said with abundant false cheer as she answered the phone. “How are you doing with the campaign? You’re calling about the dome plans I sent to your adviser. Right, yes, I agree with you one hundred percent. If it takes a dome let’s build a dome.”

“Is she serious right now?” Cat asked as she looked back and forth between Harley and Ivy.

“Yes the listed cost is accurate.” Harley assured the senator. “Yes that number is more than the nation’s entire GDP. Yes it is more than the GDP of Russia, Britain, Germany, China and a few other UN member nations. Well what price would you put on freedom? How much is the safety of your constituents’ children worth to you?”

“She can’t be serious.” Perry whispered to Cat as both media moguls continued to stare at the former psychiatrist.

“Yes the dome will be opaque.” Harley went on. “Well there just isn’t a transparent substance that is strong enough to withstand being donkey punched by the average Kryptonian or Martian or Tamaranean. Well the farmers will just have to switch over to jobs in the construction market now won’t they? Where is all this coming from Senator Crane? I thought you believed in keeping our country safe. How will our children know that the aliens can’t get to them if they can’t look up at where the sky used to be and see a giant dome overhead keeping the rest of the galaxy out of our country?”

Ivy suppressed a giggle as she watched both Cat and Perry’s jaws fall open. The sound of laughter could be heard nearby as Harley went on to rant at the xenophobic politician.

“No Senator, Lexan polycarbonate will not be good enough. Have you ever seen a pissed off Czarnian head butt a Lexan barrier? It just crumbles to dust in one hit, and if any of it gets in the alien’s nose he starts sneezing globs of acidic goo all over the place. It’s not a fun time!”

“Is this happening right now?” Cat asked Ivy in her most accusing tone. Ivy simply shrugged and smiled at the older blonde.

“Yes Senator, construction of the dome will take several decades.” Harley went on with the outlandish conversation. “No, it won’t do anything to keep out the ones that are already here. Not unless they leave and don’t come back before it’s finished. Well no one will be able to come back once it’s finished. No, we can’t put hatches in the dome to allow entry and exit. Because then it wouldn’t be alien poof now would it? Next you’re gonna ask me if we can poke air holes in the lid. We’re not catching fireflies in a glass jar here! We’re building a giant alien-proof dome over the entire continental United States!”

“This is insane!” Perry White declared as he stood there staring at Harley. “You can’t do this.”

“Of course Senator.” Harley said with an almost maniacal smile. “Yes it was good to hear from you again. Keep making America great again.” She pulled the phone away from her ear and returned all of her attention back to the two media moguls standing before her. “Can you believe that crazy bitch still wants to build a dome?”

“Please tell me this is some elaborate prank.” Cat almost pleaded with the two women. “Where’s Ashton Kutcher? Am I being “Punk’d” right now?”

“You can’t build a dome.” Perry said almost as soon as Cat’s question left her lips. “You just can’t build a dome. No sane person in this country wants a dome!”

“I’ll say.” A new voice chimed in as an older man in glasses and a classy, yet modestly affordable suit walked up to them. “I see you ladies have roped these two into your “nefarious schemes.”

“Professor Hamilton!” Harley cheered as she and Ivy faced the man. “I was wondering if you’d gotten an invite to this little hootenanny.”

“Professor, please tell me you’re not going to help that sociopath build a dome.” Perry begged the scientist.

Hamilton looked up from his glass of Champaign to fix Harley with an almost desperate glare. “Please tell me you are not crediting myself or anyone else at Star Labs with work on this monstrosity.”

“But Professor.” Harley replied with a coy pout. “We went to all the trouble of including you in the design phase.”

“You emailed me a copy of the blueprints with a note that said “Hey buddy, double check our math for us.” He protested in disgust. “You can’t build a dome. Countless lives will be lost!”

“Will it collapse and crush the entire country?” Cat asked.

“Oh please.” Ivy scoffed at the very idea of her Love designing something so faulty. “Harley would never engineer something that could fall apart so easily.”

“It’s gonna be a great dome. The best dome! And the aliens are gonna pay for it!” Harley said in as mocking a tone as seemed humanly possible. As her tirade ended the group could hear a loud burst of laughter coming from the newly married couple in the center of the dance floor. For some reason the Groom couldn’t help but laugh in time with Harley’s mad ramblings.

Once the laughter died down the older media mogul let out a huff of exasperation. “Not on a reporter’s salary he’s not.” Perry White grumbled dismissively just before the groom’s cackles renewed.

“You’re seriously helping her build a dome?” Cat all but shouted in disgust at the two strange women who seemed perfectly content to indulge the madness of one xenophobic senator. “I won’t allow it! By this time tomorrow every media outlet in the world will be talking about Crane and her campaign ties with two deranged super villains!”

“That’s just the reaction we wanted to hear.” Harley practically bounced up and down with glee as Cat tried her best to shout her down. “See Baby? I told you they’d be willing to help with this stage of our nefarious schemes. This is going to be so much fun.”

“Yes Sweetie.” Ivy agreed as she pulled her overjoyed Love into her arms.

“Wait, what just happened?” Perry asked as she looked between Cat and the two Star Sapphires. “You don’t want to build a dome?”

“Hell no!” Harley snapped back. “I just wrote up a blueprint and cost analysis for what it would take for her dome to be built. I’m still waiting for her to get the joke because the plans I wrote up will never work.”

“You’re dome won’t keep aliens out.” Perry White said as he thought he knew where this was all going.

“Oh no. It will keep everything out.” She told him. “And it will keep everything in.”

“What? Does that mean, exactly?” Cat asked as she suddenly grew more nervous about some of the answers Harley had given the Senator over the phone.

“The dome she designed doesn’t have any exits or openings.” Professor Hamilton chimed in with a resigned sigh.

“She wanted a dome to keep out all aliens.” Harley explained. “It’s not my fault that any openings that let people out would also let off worlders in. What’s next? Are they’re gonna ask me why we can’t poke air holes in the top when construction is finished?”

“So anyone inside the dome when it’s finished will be stuck forever.” Cat whispered.

“No, not forever.” Ivy added.

“I mean they’ll eventually die after a few weeks.” Harley went on only to receive stunned looks from those around. “Guys, it’s a giant alien-proof dome. It will destroy the ecosystem, weather patterns, and environment of all of North America. And that’s not even mentioning the social and economic impact. Any dome that could actually do the things she asked for will snuff out all life under it in a matter of months. It’s not my fault if some dimwitted senator can’t see that.”

“Why on Earth would you design such a thing?” Cat asked.

“To bankrupt anyone who’d try and build something so awful.” Ivy replied.

“Seriously.” Harley agreed. “My Baby and I were watching TV one night and that crazy bitch came on and started ranting about her plans to build a dome. A dome! Someone has to stop her, and if I can do that by stringing her along until her campaign finances dry up then that’s just a sacrifice I’ll have to make.”

“Plus as soon as the two of you write matching in depth exposés about how Senator Crane is taking policy advice from a disgraced psychiatrist who ran off with her super villain girlfriend her supporters will hopefully abandon ship.” Ivy explained for the two stunned media moguls.

“Oh thank god.” Hamilton whispered as relief flooded his body. “When I first read your designs I thought you two had gone off the deep end.”

“That’s… I don’t know what to say.” Perry admitted as he looked at the two women.

“It’s genius.” Cat said. “I can’t believe I didn’t think of this. This will ruin her entire platform.” The blonde CEO was grinning from ear to ear as she looked between the two smiling Star Sapphires. “What else can you tell us about the Senator’s dome?”

“Oh you should ask Professor Hamilton form Star Labs.” Harley said as she put one slender hand on the older man’s shoulder. “Inside sources from Crane’s staff say he has a copy of all the documents. Apparently they reached out to his lab for assistance and he soundly rejected their proposal.”

“I only have copies because you CC’ed me in the emails.” The Professor protested.

“There, see? Corroboration of an anonymous source. He can tell you all about how the dome will destroy this wonderful country.” Harley added in a far more chipper tone. “Inside sources also say that Crane is colluding in secret with some shady figures that have ties to both the aliens in the League and Gotham City’s shady criminal institutions.”

“Oh, so you two are colluding now.” Ivy let out an annoyed huff. “Should I be jealous?”

“What? Eww! No Baby. I swear she means nothing to me.” Harley pleaded in an overly dramatic tone that let those around know that both women were more than certain that their relationship would withstand the sarcastic banter.

“Well so long as there are no aliens involved I think we can manage.” Ivy pretended to relent with a sly smirk.

“Inside sources also say there is someone “aiding” the campaign with ties to some highly dangerous, alien, military organization.” Harley added with a matching smirk. “Just for full disclosure and all that. You understand.”

“It isn’t one of those dreadful Green Lanterns is it?” Ivy feigned shock and disgust at the very notion. “I can’t believe our government just lets aliens abduct people to join some crazy group of space police.”

“No Sweetie, sources within the Crane campaign say it isn’t one of the green guys.” Harley went on to explain in her overly campy tone. “It’s a pair of those dangerous Star Sapphires.”

“Not those horrible lesbians who keep trapping good honest men in giant pink crystals!” Ivy all but pretended to swoon in horror at the very notion. “What is Senator Crane thinking? Unless of course she’s already been recruited! Oh no, what if she’s been one of those awful aliens or metahumans this whole time?”

“Sources within the campaign can’t say if she’s not one of us normal humans at the moment.” Harley said before taking on a more somber tone. “But it’s just not safe to rule anything out at this time.”

“Oh whatever shall we do?” Ivy pleaded as Harley returned to her arms.

“I know how you feel Baby.” Harley agreed in a falsely earnest tone. “All this talk of aliens and people running around with magic rings and super powers. I just don’t feel safe anymore.” The groom’s distant cackling once more picked up in volume and was joined by the laughter of more than a few other men and women spread throughout the room.

“Alright, we get it.” Cat Grant said as the couple turned back to her with matching mischievous smiles. “Perry and I can whip the public up into enough of a panic about Crane and her illicit liaisons. You don’t have to write the articles for us.”

“Be sure to play up the fact that Crane is taking math and science advice from a pair of lesbians that live in a big city in one of the blue states.” Harley added with a smirk. “That’ll play real well in the bible belt.”

“Oh those awful lesbians.” Ivy said in an affronted tone that oozed sarcasm. “I don’t know how they do it. Don’t they know how important it is to have a man around to pay for all their shoe shopping and kitchen appliances?”

The laughter that sounded off from the dance floor after that comment had a distinctly feminine quality. Cat glanced across the room to see Diana doubled over beside her panicking girlfriend. “Okay that last one was laid on a little thick, don’t you think?” She asked the grinning couple.

“Considering Crane’s polls in some states I doubt subtlety will be all that useful.” Hamilton remarked as she downed his drink and began to look around for a nearby waiter. “I’ll admit I’ve been wondering just why you two wanted so little public credit for the nanite island.”

“Being feared and being adored are each useful in different ways.” Harley said as she glanced towards the dance floor. “Just ask Superman and Batman. We have plenty of allies the public can love and be inspired by. But they don’t have many friends who can strike fear in the hearts of small minded idiots.”

“If letting Star Labs and a few heroes take credit for some of our work helps our world then so be it.” Ivy said.

“It just means we can be there when a couple bad guys need to take credit for something for the greater good.” Harley added solemnly before her lips curled into another grin. “Otherwise some idiot might build a dome.”

Cat, Perry and Hamilton each realized that the two women before them were more then willing to give up the adoration and respect from the public that just about all the heroes present took for granted. That sacrifice went a long way towards earning the trust of the two media moguls. Though questions of journalistic ethics might be raised for withholding the exact identities of their sources both Cat and Perry knew that the greater truth would be served more by bringing the hammer of public awareness down upon Senator Crane and her dome. The fate of the entire country may very well depend on that scrutiny.

********************

“Mr. Dudley!” A kind yet confident voice startled the older man out of his quiet reverie. The heavy set man with thinning gray hair stood to greet whoever had called out to him. To his surprise the voice belonged to one of the more infamous and most wealthy individuals in attendance.

“Mr. Wayne?” Uncle Dudley whispered in surprise as the playboy strolled up to him. “What, um have I, it’s an honor to meet you sir.” He stumbled through a greeting as the billionaire took his hand.

“Nonsense!” Bruce said with one of his more charming smiles. “The honor is all mine. After seeing the way our boys have hit it off I just had to come over and introduce myself.”

The casual observation caused Uncle Dudley to look up to where his adopted son was standing across the room. Billy was in the middle of an animated discussion with two other boys his own age. The first time Dudley had seen the boys together he had nearly cheered in joy. So rare was the sight of the young hero making such an easy connection with other children.

“One of those boys is your son then.” Uncle Dudley said as he turned his attention back to the billionaire.

“The darker haired one that’s bouncing around more.” Bruce replied with a warm smile. “Tim is my youngest. I took him in after he lost his father in the crossfire between Two Face and Carmine Falcone. I’ve tried to help him find his place in the world.”

“That’s rough.” Dudley replied with a knowing frown. “When I found Billy living on the streets I never expected how important he’d be to me. But that boy changed my life.”

“I felt the same with Dick, Jason and Tim.” Bruce admitted as they both took seats at the bar. “It’s amazing how kids can just come along and change your whole world.”

“You’re just now figuring that out Bruce?” An amused feminine voice interrupted the sappy small talk both men had fallen into. Dudley looked up to see an even more infamous and influential media personality standing beside them. “Don’t mind me boys, just here to freshen up my scotch.” Cat Grant said as she took a seat on Dudley’s left, opposite Bruce.

“Good to see you too Cat.” Bruce said with a more genuine smile. “Selina and I loved your speech. Some of the others were half expecting you to tear Lois a few new holes, but we knew better.”

“Oh please.” Cat scoffed with a dismissive wave of her hand. “Giving the old cow a day off seemed like the right thing to do for once. Besides, I can always put the least flattering pictures of her wedding dress on the cover of my magazine.”

“Ms. Grant I just want to say I love your work. Huge fan.” Dudley chimed in drawing an amused smile from the media mogul.

“I’ll have to introduce you to my marketing department.” Cat said with a coy smirk. “They keep putting spreadsheets about target demographics on my desk and you don’t seem to fall into any of their little cookie cutter categories.” She paused to appraise the man further. “So tell me Mr…”

“Dudley.” He said with an almost shy squeak in his voice. “Dudley H. Dudley. I know, my parents had weird ideas about names and alliteration. Everyone just calls me Uncle Dudley.”

“Hmm, alright then. So Uncle Dudley.” Cat went on. “What first drew you to my fashion magazine and media empire?”

“Oh I’ve been a fan since your days at the Daily Planet.” He said proudly.

“Not the gossip column.” She muttered in despair.

“No, actually your opinion and editorial pieces.” Dudley was quick to correct her before her opinion of him could fall any further. “I especially liked how you were the only person with the courage to call out Superman on his few mistakes in his early days. No one else even mentioned his slip ups except for you and in a few weeks time it was clear he took that constructive criticism to heart.”

“Really?” Cat said in wonder as she looked the man over once more. “I’ve always been proud of those articles. Though that may just be because they forced Perry White’s hand and gave me the chance to strike out on my own.”

“I saved copies of each one.” Dudley added as he looked off into the distance. “Whenever my boy gets in over his head I pull them out and we read them together. It’s important for him to know that even heroes fall. What matters is getting back up and learning from our mistakes. Your work helped him get through some tough times.”

“I…” Cat was almost speechless. She had no idea how much the early work she rarely looked back on had helped people. The thought that this man and his son had taken her words to heart moved her more than she thought possible. “Thank you.”

“Thank you Ms. Grant.” Dudley replied with a warm smile. “I should introduce you to Billy while we’re here. He’d love to meet you.” The older man looked around the room before his eyes landed on the three boys moving around the edge of the dance floor. “There he is. I was so relieved that he managed to make two new friends here.”

Cat looked to where the man’s gaze had fallen and gasped in surprise. “That boy playing with Carter and Bruce’s little Heathen is your son?” She asked before turning back to Dudley.

“Tim is actually the most mild mannered of my boys.” Bruce complained. “Not that that’s saying much.”

“It was a term of endearment darling.” Cat dismissed the billionaire’s comment before turning back to Dudley.

“That’s your son runnin’ around here with my boy?” Dudley asked. “I’m sorry I’ll go tell him to behave himself.”

“No!” Cat commanded while reaching out and gently grabbing one of his arms. “Please, it’s so rare that Carter bonds with children his own age. I don’t want to ruin any new friendships he’s lucky enough to make.”

“And we already know that Billy over there is lucky enough to have a guardian who plucks positive and uplifting messages out of the media for him.” Bruce commented with an amused smirk. “So tell me Cat. Any plans to open a branch of CatCo World Wide Media in Gotham City?”

“I’ll have you know I’m always open to suggestions Bruce.” Cat replied in a guarded tone. “Though I don’t think your little friend Vicki Vale will handle being put out of work with much grace. The prospect does seem more plausible ever since that damn clown was taken care of.”

“Too true.” Bruce admitted. “And any big project like that would need a hands on approach, so I’d assume you’d consider enrolling Carter in Gotham Academy. I know Tim and my older boys thrived there. Carter could do worse than going to a school where his friends can look out for him.”

“Alright I’ll consider it Wayne.” Cat huffed in annoyance at the man’s overt request. “But when Vale comes complaining to me after I put her out of work I’ll be sure to send her your way.”

“Excellent.” Bruce said. He smiled as Cat seemed more than willing to go along with his idea for their sons’ schooling. “I half expected you to make a fuss about Selina’s preference for cat memorabilia.”

“There is a giant pink ceramic statue of a lioness sitting on the fortieth floor of my building between the elevators and the bullpen right outside my personal office.” Cat replied all too calmly. “It weighs nearly a thousand pounds and I would love to watch your girlfriend just try and steal it one of these days.”

“Please don’t mention that to her face.” Bruce all but begged. “She’ll take it as a challenge.”

“Then I’ll be sure to have an even bigger one commissioned for my future Gotham City headquarters.” Cat smirked wickedly as she sipped her scotch.

“Speaking of fresh starts I had an offer I wanted to make you as well Mr. Dudley.” Bruce said a she pulled out a business card. “This is the number for Lucius Fox, my close friend and the COO of my company. If you and Billy are interested I’m sure Wayne Enterprises could use your talents.”

“What about his school?” Dudley asked as he stared at the business car in shock. “I don’t think I could afford to send him to that fancy academy.”

“Oh please.” Cat waved off his concerns. “Bruce is golf buddies with half the board of directors at that school and drinking buddies with the dean and all the regents. One phone call and Carter’s new friend is getting fitted with one of their school blazers and ties.”

“The Thomas and Martha Wayne Foundations both offer dozens of scholarships to bright and gifted youth from all walks of life.” Bruce told Dudley as he tried to ignore the sarcasm coming off of Cat in ever larger waves. “We both know that Billy Batson more than qualifies.”

Dudley sat speechless. There was no frame of reference in his meager life for what was happening at that moment. He was sitting between two of the most rich and powerful people in the world and chatting over drinks as if there wasn’t an overwhelming financial chasm between himself and either of his companions.

When Billy had first come home with a surprise wedding invite he had been curious. The boy would only say it was “official League business” and that “important members” like him were allowed to bring a plus one. The man had no idea what importance Clark Kent and Lois Lane had to the League but he was more than willing to chaperone the boy to what promised to be a fancy shindig.

He never could have expected the likes of Wayne or Grant to even acknowledge his existence on their own. Yet here they were, bonding over vastly different experiences in single parenting and the fact that their boys had all spent the afternoon doing some surprise bonding of their own. Now he was given the chance to give Billy the education and the future he deserved. As he laughed at one of Cat’s surprisingly sharp barbs lobbed at Bruce’s ego Dudley wondered what other miracles would fall into his lap while he and his son were on “official League business.”

********************

“So this day turned out better than expected.” Harley whispered as she and her Love swayed to the music filling the air. “I half expected a fight to break out.”

“I half expected the groom to have a heart attack from all the suggestive innuendo you’ve been whispering to him all day.” Ivy replied with a mildly amused smirk. “I almost forgot how much fun you have teasing straight guys.”

“Aww Baby don’t be jealous.” Harley said. “I’m just making sure Lois is in good hands tonight. Best case scenario, Clark can play it off like he was holding back his “A” game for their big night.”

“Mmm hmm.” Ivy murmured. “And worst case scenario?”

Harley pondered the question for a moment before looking her Love right in the eyes and smiling. “Lois figures out how much fun girl on girl action is, hops the next boat to Themyscira and Diana’s gigantic body builder looking ex-girlfriends go all “Me want Snu-Snu!” on her tiny ass.”

The loud burst of laughter that left Ivy’s throat drew more than a few nervous glances from the couples dancing nearby. As she quieted down Ivy couldn’t help but pull her always closer to her chest. Harley was eager to oblige.

With matching contented sighs both women let their heads rest on the shoulder of the one they cherished above all others. Neither Harley nor Ivy noticed as they slowly floated into the air. Few if any of those on the dance floor noticed as the couple hovered two feet off the ground, twirling slowly to the soft tune in the air.

********************

“Should they be using their power rings like that?” Cat asked as she sipped from her drink. She had switched to juice an hour before in the vain hope of avoiding tomorrow’s hangover. She doubted it would make any difference.

“It’s not their rings.” Zatanna said as she sat down beside the CEO. “You can tell by them not being all glow-y and pink. That’s magic.”

“Magic you say?” Cat raised one eyebrow with renewed interest. “Should they be casting spells in the open like that?”

“No spell.” Zatara said as he sat down at a nearby table. “That little display only happens when two mystically joined souls are truly happy and at peace.” He paused as he stared off into the distance. “It’s been years since I’ve felt that kind of contentment.”

“I miss Mom too Dad.” Zatanna whispered. Cat was surprised to see a few stray tears building in the corners of the young woman’s eyes.

“She was a hell of a woman.” Bruce remarked as he and Selina joined them.

“Should we tell the lovebirds that the Bride and Groom and all the other guests have already left?” Selina asked those around her as they all watched Harley and Ivy float through the nearly vacant reception hall.

“Don’t you dare! Just let them float.” Cat dismissed the idea with a sharp tone and an idle wave of her hand. “We rented this place out for the night. Might as well get the most out of it.”

“I was wondering how they could afford all this on two reporters’ salaries.” Zatara said with a smirk.

“It was the least Oliver, Cat and I could do.” Bruce admitted. “We all know Clark has more then earned it.”

“Plus it would just look gauche to have three or four of the richest people in the country and actual kings and princesses in the wedding parties only to hold the event in a drive through chapel o’ love.” Cat quipped in amusement before a genuine chuckle escaped her lips. “That would make an interesting new branch to my company. Pricey weddings for working class superheroes! Brought to you by CatCo World Wide Media!”

“And Wayne Enterprises and Queen Industries.” Bruce added with a smirk of his own. “Where did Oliver and Dinah run off to anyway?”

“I think most of the League called it a night when the rank and file Planet reporters headed out.” Kyle told the billionaire as he and Cassie joined the group. “Dick and Barbara ran off with most of the young’uns about twenty minutes ago.”

“You!” Cat exclaimed as she spotted Cassie for the first time. “You’re familiar. Aren’t you one of mine?”

“It’s an honor to meet you Miss Grant.” Cassie said with a small curtsey to the CEO. “I’m a photographer for your L.A. branch.”

“Cassiopeia!” Cat exclaimed only to draw an amused laugh from Zatanna and Selina.

“Close enough.” Cassie said with a shrug.

“I’ll admit this is a mildly pleasant surprise.” Cat went on ignoring the chuckles from the other women around her. “Of all the work I’ve seen come out of that office yours is the most adequate.”

“Oh my god, thank you Miss grant!” Cassie said. The slightly backhanded praise and the young woman’s reaction to it drew a few confused looks only to be shrugged off by Kyle and laughed at by Bruce.

“Trust me, for Cat that is on par with getting an Oscar nomination.” Bruce told the others.

“Only it’s a Pulitzer.” Kyle quipped, drawing blank stares from all but Cat and Cassie. “You know, ‘cause they’re journalists.”

“Well said lad.” Zatara laughed as he stood and faced the last of his friends left in the reception hall. “I must sadly retire for the evening. I am to relieve Captain Atom of Watchtower duty in a few short hours.”

“I’ll walk you home Dad.” Zatanna said as she also stood up to join her father.

The older magician looked as if he was ready to argue with his daughter only to sigh and let his shoulders sag a moment later. “Thank you my darling.” Zatara put one arm over her shoulders before bidding one last farewell to their friends and allies. “Blessed be my friends.” Zatanna smiled and gave them a wave as she walked her father to the exit.

“I get that she’s a daddy’s girl but has Little Miss Fishnets always been so clingy?” Cat asked once the pair was out of sight.

“You don’t know the half of it.” Selina replied with a long and drawn out sigh. “Should have seen her when her father was first freed from that stupid magic helmet. She wouldn’t leave his side for a month.”

“Magic helmet?” Cat asked.

“Nabu.” Bruce answered with a noticeable shudder. “Zatara was possessed by the mystical entity known as Dr. Fate for years. The league only kept that thing on the roster because we needed more magic users and Zatara technically volunteered to sacrifice himself to Fate for the good for the world.”

“How did he finally get free?” Cat asked as she looked back and forth between the billionaire and the cat burglar. The couple simply shared a look before pointedly glancing to the dance floor while nodding their heads. Cat followed their vague gestures only to gasp as she realized they were not so subtly pointing to Harley and Ivy. A moment passed before she let out a laugh. “Well aren’t you glad the Batman, whoever he may be, Bruce, isn’t chasing them around Gotham City anymore.”

“Right as always Cat.” Bruce admitted with a small smile as Selina leaned into his side. Before they could trade any more barbed comments or sarcastic quips a young boy crashed into Cat’s side.

“Mom!” Carter Grant shouted as he hugged his mother. “Mom, you’ll never guess what Tim said we could do! He said we could go to Mogo!”

“The alien planet that just showed up a few weeks ago?” Cat cried out in surprise as she looked to see Tim, Billy and Uncle Dudley walking up to join them. “How is that even possible?”

Bruce leveled Tim with a mildly chastising glare. “Tim.”

“I just said we might be able to all go if we got you guys to agree and we convinced one of the Lanterns to fly us there and back for a little after party.” Tim Drake said in a rush with his hands raised in surrender.

“All the other guests are gone.” Cat said as she looked around the empty hall before letting her eyes land on Harley and Ivy. “And I genuinely doubt we are going to be able to pry the lovebirds over there off of each other.”

“It was worth a shot boys.” Uncle Dudley said as Billy and Tim tried to hold back matching smirks.

“Well, I guess that’s my cue.” Kyle said as he walked over to the middle of the group. “So Ms. Grant, Mr. Wayne, Uncle Dudley. Would you like to chaperone your boys on a short trip to space and back?”

Bruce gave Selina one curious glance only to cringe at the look of unhinged glee in her eyes. “Why not?” He said.

“I’m in.” Uncle Dudley jumped in just as soon as he realized he wouldn’t be the only adult to say yes.

“Okay, fine, yes, but where are we going to get a Lantern to play our designated driver?” Cat asked in disbelief.

Cassie took the opportunity to walk up to her bosses’ boss and put a gentle hand on the woman’s shoulder. “You should watch this next part. You’ll love it.”

Cat looked to the younger blonde and then back to the girl’s fiancé. She watched in curiosity and then shock as he held one hand up in front of his chest and began to focus all of his Will. Green light seeped out of the emerald ring on his finger as his body was covered in a stylized green and black suit. A large green mask formed over most of Kyle’s face before he looked to the group of stunned wedding guests once more.

“So that was a yes right?” Kyle asked with a knowing smirk on his face.

Cat merely blinked before turning back to Cassie with a far more sinister smirk of her own. “Well aren’t you full of surprises. I’m seriously impressed Cassie. The way the CEO of Ferris Air goes on about it you’d think dating a Green Lantern is the hardest ordeal in the galaxy. Well done.”

“Thank you Ms. Grant.” Cassie said before leaning down to whisper in the woman’s ear. “I couldn’t have done is without you by the way. Your “Lighthouse Technique” is the first thing I try when he’s away on missions for too long and needs a little incentive to come back home.”

“Of course it is.” Cat said with an even more smug expression on her face. “I’m going to have to keep an eye on you.” The media mogul turned back to the Lantern and fixed him with a glare. “This is safe, right?”

“Of course Ms. Grant.” Kyle said with a bow. “I’d never let anything happen to you and your son. Let alone Cassie and everyone else here. Too much of the future depends on most of us to be there for it.”

“Spoilers Babe.” Cassie said as she walked up and wrapped her arms around her fiancé. They shared a brief kiss before Cassie turned back to Cat with a far from innocent smile on her face. “But seriously Ms. Grant Mogo is beautiful this time of year.”

“Yes, yes, let’s get on with it.” Cat tried and nearly managed to conceal her own delight at the prospect of spending even a small amount of time on an alien world.

“You mean it Mom? Can we?” Carter asked in his now familiar overly excited voice.

“Yes Darling.” Cat assured her son as she began to guide him out of the reception hall. In no time at all Kyle, Cassie, Bruce, Selina, Tim, Billy and Uncle Dudley followed the pair outside and were enveloped in the warm green glow of Kyle’s ring. The group shot upwards into the late afternoon sky and zoomed off towards the sentient planet.

With the group’s departure the two Star Sapphires smiled, still floating in the middle of the empty reception hall. Harley pulled her head up from Ivy’s shoulder and Ivy did the same in turn. Their eyes met and in no time they were kissing once more. Soft pink light filled the dance floor and all corners of the reception hall. When the glare finally cleared the women were gone. Whisked away to their own personal Love nest by the power of that one all encompassing emotion.

********************

“Greetings Kilowog.” Saint Walker said as he and his fellow Blue Lantern arrived on Mogo. “Al-Abin-Aht is the newest individual to join the Blue Lanterns and as is our way he shall decide the next candidate to join our ranks.”

“Oh, yeah.” Kilowog said in his usual gruff manner. He tried to muster up more excitement for the leader of the Blue Corps, but he just came up short. “That’s all well and good Saint Walker, but what brings you to Mogo?”

“I have heard many good things of the people of the nearby planet, Eee-Arrth?” Al-Abin-Aht said as he stepped forward to address the Green Lantern Corps’ primary drill sergeant. “They show great potential. Great Hope.”

“I guess that’s as good a reason as any.” Kilowog said with a reluctant sigh. “You both know the rules for hiding out on Mogo. Don’t do nothin’ that you wouldn’t want a colony of little aliens doing if they camped out on your skin, and for the love of the maker don’t piss off his trees.”

“Understood Kilowog.” Saint Walker said as he and his newest recruit bowed to the larger pink skinned alien with a massive under bite. Before they could even look up to the other Lantern a bright green orb broke the outer atmosphere and sailed through the air towards a distant mountain range. Both Blue Lanterns looked up and then back to Kilowog.

“Heh, looks like the Poozer is bringin’ another group of tourists around.” The Lantern chuckled to himself.

“Saint Walker, do you sense what I sense?” Al-Abin-Aht said in an excited voice.

“I do indeed my brother.” Saint Walker admitted to his fellow Lantern. “Hope springs eternal.”

“Wait.” Kilowog said as he eyeed the pale alien skeptically. “That’s an Earth saying. Where did you guys hear it?”

“Oh, um… Kyle Rayner?” Saint Walker guessed as he turned back to the Green Lantern.

“Of course you did.” Kilowog said with a gruff sigh as he looked back to see that his rookie and their newest batch of tourists were long gone. He could only smile as he recalled the reactions of all Mogo’s prior human guests. If the pattern held true they were in for a fun evening.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 8:15 pm 
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Location: Beyond the orbit of Mars and accelerating...
Oh no you didn't!
A Trump stand in? Really?

Ugh, that orange idiot is everywhere. Even other universes.
I wouldn't be surprised to discover that he was paid by Hillary to act like a clown, so she'd look good by comparison :(

Anyway, a fun episode despite that :P
Cheered up my day no end. I'm home sick and feeling very grotty.
Any minute now, i might summon up the strength and go post this week's chapter.

Blergh.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:28 am 
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness... I'm glad that the wedding party went without too much problems....

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:30 am 
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OMG! The whole "trump-esque" politician Crane phone call was hilarious - I was laughing so hard I was crying!

More please! :flirt :flower

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 9:34 am 
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Hi Azirahael. Hope you're feeling better. Hi Zampsa. Hi Vampyregurl.

Yup, I let the Trump stand in from this last season of Supergirl slip into the story. To be fair she's in two of the show's best episodes, even if her roles in those episodes are shallow and nonsensical.

Her first appearance is at a "We Hate Aliens" pride rally and her bid xenophobic speech ends with the line "If it takes a dome let's build a dome." And for some reason the main characters ignore just how crazy this person is after an alien attacks and she pretends to be grateful for them saving her life.

By her second episode Senator Crane is just loitering in the halls of their secret base and jumping into conversations the main characters are having right after discussing Supergirl's secret identity. Seriously, the second things go sideways and two of the main characters start arguing about what to do "Senator I have a dome" jumps in with sage advice. And all the while i'm screaming at the TV saying "Don't listen to her! She's crazy! She was gonna build a dome! Did you all forget about her big dumb dome?"

As for the jackass we have to deal with in the real world we have only the Tea Party and the complete gerrymandering along ideologically extreme lines throughout this entire country to thank. As if his ranting and raving wasn't bad enough he went and picked "Governor Mandatory Conversion Therapy Laws" as his running mate. Even if I cared about email servers and the shitstorm that happened during the last Clinton administration when Bill got all those extra blowjobs I'd still vote against the guy who thinks pray out the gay camps deserve federal funding.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2016 9:42 pm 
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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: Okay where were we last time I posted a chapter in the main Buffyverse storyline? Oh, right. Zombies blew up the school, a British ghost butler gave Angel the business and Ethan fed Darla to Drusilla. Um... spoilers I guess. So where does that leave us here? There's a new school ready for the last few months of their senior year, but that will have to wait as it seems some other problems are about to pop up and bite our favorite characters in the rear.

********************

Chapter 35: Bad Girls

“So Red and Blondie already got the new school up and runnin’.” Faith said as she and Buffy walked through Sunnydale Cemetery on the last sweep of their patrol. The night had been slow, coming across only a few stray vampires woefully incapable of offering any real challenge to the couple.

“Yeah I was disappointed too when I heard the news.” Buffy grumbled as she looked around at the tombstones and crypts that lined the darkened walkway. “But that’s Willow for you. Girl just can’t get enough school.”

“You know it B.” Faith let out an amused laugh as she let her Slayer senses expand outwards. A small tremor of hatred clued her into the presence of yet another vampire lurking just ahead of them. “Even when she has us blow one school up she just has to go and secretly build another across town that no one knew about. She can’t let us have a week or two to bask in the moment.” Without warning the brunette lunged forward with one of her twin butterfly swords in each hand. She burst through a large hedge that the walkway curved around and caught her prey by complete surprise.

The vampire let out a stunned gasp before raising both of his own blades in defense. Faith smirked as she caught his long sword near the hilt with the curved guard that ran along the back of one of her blades. The demon let out a growl as he went in to stab the Slayer in the gut with his parrying dagger. Faith all but laughed in his face as she parried the blow and severed the tendons in his wrist with one fluid motion of her other sword. The jewel encrusted dagger fell to the ground as an upbeat voice robbed the vampire of his concentration on the Slayer.

“Okay I get that you’re a vampire and that you’ve been dead for centuries, but seriously, come on!” Buffy mocked the doomed vampire as her long sword came to rest against his neck. “What are you thinking with that outfit? Were you even thinking at all? Who wears a gaudy, off yellow, medieval jerkin in this day and age? Who dressed you this morning? The Swiss Guard?”

The vampire’s eyes widened in confusion that gave way to horror as the Slayer flicked her wrist. Light and shadow flared out of the blade held against his neck as it sunk into undead flash. Before the petite blonde even reached bone her prey was consumed in a cold blaze that left little if any dust fluttering in the night breeze. Faith caught the foe’s long sword before it could clatter to the ground with its mate. Brown eyes looked up to meet hazel and Faith couldn’t help but swoon a little at the coquettish batting of her girl’s eye lashes. Buffy let out an even more playful smile as Faith stared at her with a slacked jaw.

“Damn B.” Faith said with as much bravado as she could manage once she regained the ability to speak. “Even after all this time you still know how to melt a girl’s panties right off.”

“You better be ready to back those words up when we get home Honey.” Buffy said in a husky whisper as she reached for the parrying dagger on the ground. “Ooh, shiny.”

“Yeah, these pig stickers got some serious sparkle going on.” Faith said as she slid her butterfly swords back into the twin sheaths at the small of her back. Once Buffy did the same with her sword Faith handed the dead vampire’s long sword over without question. “And what was with that getup? The Renn Fair left town months ago. Think there’s a new playa in town?”

“Maybe.” Buffy replied as she held up both the sword and parrying dagger. “But we can ask the guys to look into that tomorrow. I just got the best idea for what to do with these.”

“What’s that B?” Faith asked.

“I know just what to give Giles for his birthday next month!” The petite blonde exclaimed with a bright smile.

“What?” Faith cried out. “No fair! What am I supposed to get him?”

“Oh that’s simple Faith.” Buffy replied as she gave her girl another seductive look. “You and I have just over three weeks to find and slay something with one of those fancy thin fencing swords that’s just as shiny and pretty as these. You know what I’m talking about, right? The French swords that look like really long ice picks.”

“Rapier B.” Faith chuckled as she shook her head in relief. “And we’re getting him one of those frilly lookin’ ones with the fancy guard and a matching parrying dagger that looks just as baller as that one.”

“Of course Honey.” Buffy agreed with an exasperated huff as if those demands were obvious from the start. “But it has to be something we took as a trophy otherwise what’s the point?”

“Damn right B.” Faith said as she leaned in and wrapped her arms around her girl. “The G man has got two of the most badass Slayers to ever walk the walk. He deserves some sick trophies for braggin’ about his girls. What’s that Reginald? Your boy got into Fancy Stuffed Shirt Academy. Good for him, but look at what my girls took off Blackheart the Deatheater. Aren’t they pretty?”

Buffy eyed Faith with a mixture of amusement and skepticism before asking the most obvious question. “Blackheart the Deatheater?”

“Or whatever his D&D name ends up bein’.” Faith answered with a dismissive wave before taking one of Buffy’s arms in her own and leading the way out of the cemetery. “Oh this is gonna be sweet. Once we get a chance lets ask Red and Blondie where the nearest demon cult that’s into the whole “Parry, Parry, Thrust, Thrust” scene hangs out. Gotta be at least one group of creepy crawlies with that fetish in this state.”

Buffy could only let out an amused laugh as she strolled into the night, arm in arm with her girlfriend. The routine and rather bland patrol had proven far more rewarding than either Slayer had anticipated.

No matter what obstacles awaited them in the new school building that would serve for the remainder of their senior year they had each other. Now they also had an amusing little side quest to throw themselves into for the coming weeks. Life on the Hellmouth was turning out better than anyone ever expected.

********************

“Yo, Fangs! You here?” Gunn called out as he rapped his fist on the door of the cheap motel room Angel had tracked Darla to.

The sun was just about to rise and the young man knew the vampire must have gone through hell after the trial turned out to be a waste of time. The decision to spend a few days with Darla hadn’t even been questioned by anyone at the hotel. But now that things had settled down Alonna wanted to know just what the hell was going on with their vampire.

“Angel come on man.” Gunn complained. “You’ve been hold up here all week with your girl.” Growing weary of the lack of response Gunn tried the doorknob. To his surprise it opened with the slightest touch. To his horror the battered vampire lying on the floor of the motel room was the last thing he expected to find. “Shit!”

********************

“What do you mean we blew up the school for nothing?” Xander complained as Willow and Tara led him through the main room of the library for the new high school they had commissioned in secret. “I was looking forward to summer goofing off a few months earlier than usual.”

As the trio stepped through the new library’s double doors Xander almost gasped at the sight before him. Tall windows lined each wall near the ceiling of the large rectangular space, letting sunlight cover the rows of long tables in the center of the floor. Bookshelves with light wood stain lined the outer walls and formed dozens of rows that almost came within arms reach of the tables. Looking up Xander spied two floors with balconies that overlooked the floor level. The first held more stacks of bookshelves than the ground floor. The uppermost floor was partitioned off by tall glass windows that blocked out any noise but still allowed an unobstructed view of the library below. The tables beyond the glass appeared to be filled with lines of dozens of computers.

“S-sorry Sweetie.” Tara said with a warm laugh as they walked behind the front counter and the main desk that Giles would no doubt fill with ancient documents and arcane texts once he was fully moved in. “We all s-still need to graduate this year. Things will pick up on the U.C. Sunnydale campus next year and Buffy and Faith can’t be stuck in high school while mad scientists are being pesky.”

“More mad scientists?” Xander asked in disbelief as they moved to an unassuming door tucked away behind the library’s front desk. At first he thought it would lead to Giles’ new office, but then he caught sight of what was obviously the Englishman’s new office on the other side of the small, partially enclosed area. “Oh just shoot me now. Demons and vamps are one thing, but why do we have to deal with so many horny terminators and bargain bin Frankensteins? How is that fair? Hell, the only mad scientist I’ve ever met that was worth a damn is Willow and one of her is plenty!”

“Thanks Xand.” Willow laughed while rolling her eyes. She pulled a key card out of her pocket and slid it through the small security scanner next to the doorknob. The door opened and Willow stepped through with Tara at her side. Xander followed the couple with another sarcastic quip ready to go only to choke it back as he saw who was already inside the room.

“How are you liking the new digs Giles?” Willow called out to the watcher who stood off to one side of the large table that had once resided in the heart of the old high school library. Bookshelves lined one wall while a large gym mat and a small weapons rack took up space on the far side from the research table. One of Willow’s computers sat on a desk in the corner. The floor mat was occupied by the room’s other two occupants.

Giles looked up and smiled at the three students who joined him while his Slayers were busy on the mat. “Ah, Willow, Tara, Xander, so good of you to join us. This exercise is too easy on our girls. Buffy and Faith could do well with a few more distractions to divide their attention.”

“Not funny G man.” Faith muttered as her eyes remained locked with Buffy’s. Both Slayers were dressed in tight gym shorts and mildly revealing spots bra style tank tops. The dark haired Slayer stood in the center of the gym mat on the floor with her left arm pointing straight out away from her body and her right held rigidly towards the ceiling. In the palm of her right hand was Buffy’s. Their fingers were interlaced as all of Buffy weight was supported by Faith. The blonde Slayer was held aloft, one arm stretched out mirroring Faith’s while the rest of her body formed a rigid line trailing towards the ceiling.

“Seriously, you’re scratchin’ the bottom of the barrel on this one aren’t ya?” Faith questioned as she focused on holding her girlfriend aloft.

“Actually there’s nothing about this in the training manuals.” Giles admitted as he took a seat at the table and sipped from his tea. “I ran out of material for your training a few short weeks after you first joined us Faith. Since then the approach I’ve taken with your lesson plans has been, how should I put this? I’ve been playing it by ear.”

At the sound of Xander’s inappropriate giggling at their expense Buffy gritted her teeth while she concentrated on her balance. “Don’t listen to them Honey. All that matters is you and me.”

“Got that right B.” Faith replied with a flirtatious smirk that was soon met with an exasperated eye roll from her girl. “Remind me to show you just how much you matter later tonight.”

“So not helping with the concentration F.” Buffy chastised her girl while failing to hold back a smile. The aroused expression let Faith know the petite blonde teetering above her was more than eager to find out just what the brunette was planning.

“You know you love me.” Faith continued to smirk up at her girl.

“Yeah.” Buffy admitted as she all but lost herself in Faith’s expressive brown eyes. “I really do.”

“Aww, aren’t they just the cutest? With their playful banter, and their sappy doe eyed grins, and their ungodly super strength.” Xander quipped as he walked over to the research table and plopped down into an open chair.

“Hey! What’s so ungodly about it?” Buffy complained just before she started to wobble.

Faith gritted her teeth before adjusting just enough to keep her girl aloft. “Maybe keep you head in the game with the focusing on keepin’ up there B?” She pleaded as she fought the urge to wipe a fresh bead of sweat from her brow.

“Sorry Faith.” Buffy said in a quiet voice as she redirected her attention back to her girl. The Slayers once more steadied each other. It appeared to each of their friends present that they could potentially remain in their precarious position for hours.

“Not to be a buzzkill, but did you guys run into any trouble on patrol last night?” Willow asked. Tara suppressed a smirk at the seemingly nonchalant tone her everything tried to convey. The young witches took seats across the table from Xander.

“You could say that.” Faith answered while maintaining eye contact with Buffy. “We dusted this old school lookin’ vamp on our last sweep through the big cemetery downtown.”

“Major fashion victim.” Buffy agreed. “Who in their right mind thinks it’s a good idea to wear a dirty yellow squire’s costume from the set of First Knight?”

“Pretty sure he was dressed by whatever big bad runs his cult.” Faith added. “He was carrying some wicked sharp blades with him. One long sword that couldn’t hold a candle to B’s and a good sized pig sticker.”

“Some sort of vampiric swordsman cult.” Giles mused as he walked over to one of the book shelves along the far wall. “This could be a serious.” He muttered while pulling books out. A brief moment later small stacks of ancient looking books were sitting on the table before Xander, Willow, Tara and the vacant seat Giles pulled out for himself. “And you’re certain the vampire was wearing medieval garb?”

“Yup.” Buffy replied. Faith could only smirk as it became apparent that they were not going to be asked to aid in the research.

“Medieval dueling cult, preference for long swords and parrying daggers.” Giles was muttering under his breath as he poured over the tomes open before him. Xander only sighed and went to work sifting through the book that had been placed in his hand.

“I missed this.” Willow told Tara in a soft whisper. “The research parties I mean. Not the demon cults.”

“I know Sweetie.” Tara said with a warm smile that Willow couldn’t help but swoon for. Another minute passed before the honey blonde and the redhead managed to pull their eyes away from each other and back to the texts arrayed before them.

“Ah hah!” Giles exclaimed as he ran his finger over a passage that caught his eye. “El Eliminati. Fifteenth century duelist cult. It would seem they suffered dwindling numbers in later centuries.”

“Slayers?” Xander asked as he set his book aside. “Or are we talking about angry mobs that got tired of their local bloodsuckers?”

“Both as it were.” Giles replied before skimming the next passage and smiling at the predictable consequence of the group’s passion. “And a great deal of rather pointless dueling. They eventually swore their allegiance to a demon of some power. Let’s see, ah, its name was Balthazar. The demon brought the cult to the new world. Hmm. It was somewhere around, bloody hell, of course they settled here.” His last words were weighed down with a depressing mix of resignation and exasperation. Giles’ glasses soon found their way to the surface of the table as he attempted to rub the annoyance out of the bridge of his own nose.

“Of course they settle here G man.” Xander chimed in with far more humor than the Englishman was feeling. “What’s not to like with all the sun, low rent, twisting blind alleyways and willfully ignorant townspeople determined to become happy meals.”

“Quite right.” Giles agreed as he retrieved his glasses. “What more does this say? Perhaps why we haven’t seen them before. Ah, they were driven out a hundred years ago. No word as to who sent them packing. There’s one flimsy report that Balthazar was killed, but if the cult is back in force he may have just been gravely wounded.”

“That’s all fine and dandy and shit, but why did these pricks decide to show up now?” Faith asked as Buffy wobbled slightly above her.

“Relax Honey.” Buffy told her girl. “We can take them.”

“It says here that the demon Balthazar had an amulet.” Giles told the Slayers. “It gave him immense strength and power. Blackened skies, rivers ran red, befouled the land and its inhabitants. The usual evil rhetoric. Hmm, here’s something new. Apparently all dairy cows milked within a mile of the amulet secreted nothing but cottage cheese.”

“Well that’s a fun way to expand your business portfolio.” Willow quipped only to draw stunned looks from both Slayers. “Probably not so much for the cows I guess.”

“Hmm, I would assume not.” Giles replied while searching the text for further details. “The amulet was taken after his defeat. Buried with a wealthy land owner. You girls will need to retrieve the amulet before the vampire cultists do. Even if the demon really is dead we can’t assume the amulet’s power died with him.”

“Does it say were the thingy is buried?” Buffy asked.

“This book doesn’t say who took the amulet.” Giles grumbled as he closed the book. “But one can assume the thief is buried in one of the larger crypts in the oldest of this town’s many cemeteries. The dozen or so graveyards can’t all be over a hundred years old.”

“Only about half of them are.” Willow added with a slight grin. “But we won’t have to worry too much about finding the amulet.”

“Ha!” Faith all but shouted. Her outburst drew a surprised yelp from Buffy followed by a precarious shift in her legs and hips.

“Faith!” The petite blonde teetered wildly for a few tense moments as all eyes fell on her. The brunette tried to correct her position. It soon became clear that wasn’t possible. Willow, Tara, Xander and Giles watched in morbid fascination. Buffy let out a shriek and fell towards the floor. She cringed and shut her eyes as she braced for impact. When none occurred she slowly opened one eye.

Playful brown orbs awaited her with a far too amused smirk on the luscious lips just below. “Gotta love how you’re always fallin’ for me B.”

“Don’t push it Honey.” Buffy grumbled to her girl who only continued to grin widely as she sat in her arms. “Were you going to put me down at some point?”

“Nope.” Faith replied with a straight face. “I like having you where I can keep an eye on your cute little bod.”

“Just an eye?” Buffy wondered as she too began to smirk at the ribald innuendo.

“Hands too.” Faith admitted in a whisper just before leaning in to steal a kiss.

“You were saying something about the location of the amulet Willow?” Giles asked as it became clear his Slayers were lost in their own little world.

“You’ve got it in that panic room vault thingy don’t you?” Xander asked. The almost timid look Willow gave in reply caused Giles to remove his glasses once more and pinch the bridge of his nose.

“Of course you do.” The librarian lamented. “Is there anything else you girls would like to share with the class on this topic? Something we missed in the text?”

“The demon is probably very much alive but crippled.” Willow went on. “We’re pretty sure it was the old mayor that drove him out of town. Unless this dimension had some other warlock making unholy pacts and insane power plays on the hellmouth a century ago.”

“And now that the mayor is gone Balthazar wants to reestablish his domain.” Giles said.

“Seems that way.” Tara told the watcher. “If the demon follows his u-usual pattern h-he’ll be hold up in the packing warehouse on Devereux.”

“Yup.” Willow chimed in with a smile as she interwove her fingers with Tara’s. “He’ll be the big white blob sitting in a concrete tub full of sludge. He usually has one vamp armed with a ladle whose only job is to keep his blubber moist.”

“So you’re saying he’s on the husky side.” Xander quipped.

“Fat as the Queen of all Sea Cows would be an understatement.” Tara assured him. All eyes turned to the honey blonde who suddenly realized what she had said.

“Damn Blondie.” Faith let out with an amused whistle at Tara’s blush.

“Be that as it may.” Giles tried desperately to bring the conversation back around to the threat they were facing. “His vampires will be armed and out in force. We should all remain cautious until the danger has passed.”

“Don’t worry about it Giles.” Buffy said as she finally tore her eyes away from Willow’s girlfriend. “Faith and I will go to the thingy where Will and Tara found the shiny.”

“The Gleaves crypt.” Willow supplied.

“Right!” Buffy agreed. “Faith and I will go there and wait for the vamps to show up. A few arrows. A few hits with our magic swords. We’ll duel those duelists right out of town. Right Honey?”

“Damn straight B.” Faith said before pulling her girl into another kiss.

All around them the Slayers’ friends couldn’t help but smile at the confident couple. They had all seen Buffy and Faith pull through worse trials than what this newest crop of vampires had to offer. They knew their friends would persevere.

********************

“Yo! Anybody home?” Gunn called out as he dragged a barely conscious Angel into the hotel lobby.

“What the? Angel? Charles, what happened to him?” Alonna asked as she saw her brother and her vampire stumbling into the lobby. Wesley and Doyle were quick to rush in and relieve the young man of his burden.

“I don’t know, he’s been in and out.” Gunn admitted as they helped carry the vampire to one of the couches by the front desk. “I only got half the story. The half that didn’t make sense.”

“No, no time.” Angel muttered in a daze as he was half carried and half dragged. “No time… I couldn’t save her…”

“Where the hell was he? The sun came up hours ago.” Alonna asked her brother.

“The motel.” Gunn answered. “I just barely got him in the van without bursting into flames.”

“That rat’s nest he tracked Darla to?” Alonna was livid as she rushed to the worst conclusions.

“The place was a wreck.” Gunn went on. “Something went down there. Something not good.”

“Angel?” Doyle asked the rambling vampire.

“I should have… I was just so tired.” Angel mumbled.

“He was only gone for two days!” Alonna shouted. “What did that whore do to him?”

“She’s dead.” The vampire said. His admission stunned the humans gathering around him. “I... I should have stopped them… They… He made her drink.”

“Angel?” Bethany asked as most of the crew watched in silence.

“She didn’t want to…” Angel rambled on. “You think, you can resist… but then it’s, it’s too late.”

“Someone made Darla drink?” Wesley asked in an appalled tone.

“It was her.” The vampire muttered, half to himself.

“A proper noun would be nice.” Alonna told the frazzled vampire.

“Drusilla.” Angel said before standing up and marching over to the nearest weapons locker.

“Drusilla!” Wesley and Doyle all but shouted in unison.

“That loopy dipstick that Al ran out of town with the Peroxide Avenger?” Rondell asked. The nicknames drew an entirely inappropriate laugh from the Slayer. Angel seemed unfazed as he dug through the weapons locker.

“Who’s Drusilla?” Anne asked.

“Vampire I guess.” Bethany said.

Both young women failed to notice the nervous shift that went through the rest of the room. Several breathless moments passed before Virginia dared to offer her support. “Well one vampire can’t be all that bad? Alonna should be able to handle her.”

“Two vampires.” Doyle corrected the Slayer’s girlfriend before a worried frown creased his brow. “Maybe three if Spike is with her.”

“Angel this is important.” Wesley called the vampire’s attention. “Was Spike the “He” you mentioned? Was Drusilla working with him to torture you and reunite the Scourge of Europe?”

“I have to find her.” Angel ignored the watcher as he ransacked the weapons locker.

“She probably ain’t in there.” Gunn hazarded a guess as Alonna scowled.

“I can save her.” Angel said in a much more coherent tone that only drew worried looks from the others.

“Save who?” Alonna asked in a whisper.

“Darla!” Angel snapped.

“Angel if what you’ve been saying is so, there’s no saving Darla. It’s too late.” Wesley knelt down and tried to talk the agitated vampire out of his frantic searching.

“It’s not too late!” Angel shot back just before his eyes landed on the object he had been seeking.

“It is.” The watcher all but shouted as she tried to grasp the vampire’s shoulders. “She’s dead already, and come nightfall she will rise again.”

“No she won’t.” Angel said in an eerily calm voice as he stood up clutching the prize he had sought. Alonna and all the members of her crew watched the vampire raise one of their finely carved wooden stakes. As he twirled the sharp wooden stake the vampire spoke with confidence. “I can save her from that.”

********************

“So you hear from Al and her gang B?” Faith asked as they waited in the back of the Gleaves Crypt. The pair crouched behind the third large sarcophagus that sat in the middle of the room. Thus far there was no sign of the El Eliminati and the boredom was starting to wear on the brunette.

“Not for a week or so, no.” Buffy admitted before a worried frown clouded her bright smile. “Does that make me a horrible long distance friend?”

“Nah B.” Faith assured her girl with a quick hug and a kiss to her temple. “We just been busy blowin’ up the school is all. I got a call from her right after all that. Seems like all your ex boy toy’s drama is coming up to bite them in the ass.”

“What did Angel do this time?” Buffy moaned as she resigned herself to light teasing from her girlfriend over her lousy taste in male partners.

“You know the witchdoctor that raised his other little blonde ex? Well the prick went and signed up with the watchers council wet works squad.” Faith went on.

“What’s wet work?” Buffy asked as confusion once more took over her features.

“Hitman type stuff.” Faith said only to realize she needed to be very clear. “Murder B. The council has a team of guys whose job it is to go around killin’ people that get in the way of council business.”

“But we’re not supposed to kill humans!” Buffy cried out in shock and disgust. “Slayers slay demons.”

“Well these guys ain’t Slayers.” Faith remarked as if it were obvious. “You know what they say. Do as I say not as I do, and get your ass back I the kitchen and make me a sandwich while you’re at it.”

“Have I mentioned how much I don’t like the council?” Buffy asked as she dwelled on the gruesome implications.

“Not since we had that pussy eating marathon in Vegas to celebrate not going through their big dumb murder test.” Faith remarked in a dry tone.

Buffy was so caught off guard by the comment that she nearly choked on the breath she was taking. A few coughs followed by Faith’s soothing hand rubbing circles on her back were all it took to regain her composure. “You’re the worst Honey.”

“You know it B.” Faith replied with pride. “Anyway. These guys came to L.A. and brought Fang’s ex back to life in a big ol’ box.”

“Which ex?” Buffy asked. Faith stared at her girl for a long moment before just shaking her head in laughter.

“Darla!” Faith cried out with a laugh. At the blank look on Buffy’s face Faith knew she would have to go on. “His sire.” Another blank stare. “Jesus Christ! The little blonde whore that wore a school girl’s outfit all the time. Red said you and your boyfriend dusted her in the Bronze after you brought a crossbow to a gun fight!”

“They brought that gun toting bitch back from the dead!” Buffy shrieked and shot up from the sitting position they had taken behind a sarcophagus. “When did that happen?”

“Al said it was the same night I kissed you and then bailed.” Faith admitted as she recalled the less amusing events from that one week so very long ago.

Buffy froze and stared at Faith for a moment. She knew the sullen pout was only prelude to guilt and recriminations that would do neither Slayer any good. In an instant she was kneeling beside her girl and desperate to ease the brunette of her worries. “Oh god, Faith I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to snap. I love you so much Honey.”

As she felt her girl’s arms wrap around her and heard the desperate and fearful tone in the back of her voice Faith knew Buffy regretted that night every bit as much as she did. She also knew they were both in a far better place for that disastrous night. “Love you too B. I can’t get enough of you. And that’s not just because you got the best tongue of any “straight girl” I ever fucked.”

“Watch it.” Buffy warned with renewed confidence in her voice. The Slayers shared a smile before the petite blonde continued with her questions. “So we were so busy with our stuff here that we ignored all the really big stuff going on with Alonna.”

“Maybe a little.” Faith admitted before taking on a more playful smirk. “But they just found out that this Darla chick was brought back like a few months ago. Hell it might have been right before Al started dating that cute little rich girl with the daddy issues.”

“How did Angel handle Alonna staking his sire?” Buffy asked.

“What?” Faith asked in turn. “Nah B, it ain’t like that. They brought her back human.”

“Wait, okay that makes no sense whatsoever. Why the hell would they even bother with that?” The petite blonde asked in exasperation.

“To screw with his brooding ass?” Faith guessed with a shrug.

“Where the hell was I when all this happened?” Buffy asked with even more disbelief at how far she had been left out of the loop.

“Sitting on my face.” Faith deadpanned. Her straightforward tone drew a surprised laugh from her girl. Buffy nearly doubled over as she realized just who and what had occupied her attention so thoroughly.

“Okay, I’ll admit it.” Buffy said almost a full minute later once she cuddled up to her girl and stopped laughing. “I’ve been oblivious girl. But can you really blame me? My distractions are just so much more distracting than other people’s.”

“Nope, can’t blame ya B.” Faith assured her girl. “Especially with all the good lovin’ you give me when I distract your hot little ass.” The Slayers shared a smile before Faith continued recapping news from the Hyperion Crew. “So where was I? Oh yeah, they brought this Darla skank back as a human but she was still dying of whatever crotch rot she had from before she was first killed by that pug nosed freak you dusted before we met.”

“The Master. I hate it when they drown me.” Buffy said as she recalled just how much that foe had nearly cost her. “What’s killing Darla?” She asked.

“Hell if I know. Some messed up shit that killed off all the career hookers a few centuries back.” Faith dismissed the notion of even pretending to care about the former vampire. “Last time I heard from Al she said a day before we blew the school Miss Thang came strolling back into the vamp’s life and wanted to get made again. Fangs took the news like a whiny little punk and has been looking for a magic cure. They said he found a lead and ran off to save the ho. When I called Al she said it was a dead end. All she knew is your ex and his old girl spent the last few days hold up in some motel.”

“Please don’t take this the wrong way,” Buffy began to say in a nervous tone, “but Angel can probably do better.”

“Ain’t that the truth.” Faith agreed easily enough. She blinked at the look of utter disbelief on Buffy’s face before letting out a bark of laughter. “I ain’t gonna get all jealous and bitchy every time you talk about that vampire B. What we got beats all that. I know you’re my girl.”

“If we weren’t about to have company I would…” Buffy’s promise was cut short as the crypt door was thrown open and the sounds of a half dozen pairs of shuffling feet filled the stone chamber.

Buffy and Faith shared one long, knowing look as they listened to the vampires open and then ransack the first sarcophagus closest to the door. The sounds then moved closer and a moment later the Slayers felt their hiding place shake as the lid from the second sarcophagus was slammed against the far side of the third. Just as the vampires gave up on the second stone coffin Buffy and Faith nodded to each other and drew their blades.

With matching flares or light and darkness rippling off their weapons the Slayers leapt into action. Three vampires were dusted before they even knew what was coming for them. Buffy and Faith looked up at the three remaining vampires and smirked.

“Hey B.” Faith said in an easy conversational tone that the vampires were sure to pick up on. “Johnny on the Spot over there is sportin’ a fancy lookin’ skewer. Weren’t we just talking about picking up one of those for the G man?”

“I believe we were Faith.” Buffy replied as she fixed the lead vampire with a wicked grin. “We’ll have to wash the dust off it of course.”

“Of course.” Faith said just a fraction of a second before she and Buffy lunged forward. In a howl of pain and the hiss of bodies being replaced with clouds of dust two of the remaining El Eliminati were slain. The lead vampire turned and fled. With a howl of laughter Faith gave chase. Buffy smiled as she followed close behind.

********************

“This place pleases you grandmother. I can tell.” Drusilla said as she wrapped Darla’s body in a clean white shroud. The location of the rooftop greenhouse had been a parting gift from the sorcerer. The raven haired vampire giggled as she took a long pole and opened the skylights directly over Darla’s still form.

She looked up into the night sky and saw the faint glimmer of the stars. “I can hear them singing.” The vampire moaned in a daze. Drusilla began to sing as she assembled the walls of the wooden box frame around Darla. A dozen bags of soil sat at the foot of the table, ready to be poured out over the deceased blonde.

Run and catch.
Run and catch.
The Lamb is caught.
In the black.
Berry patch.

A delighted giggle escaped Drusilla’s lips as she prepared for the birth.

********************

“And your parents didn’t mind you staying late to work?” Allan asked as he sat in his home office. “I mean Ms. Rosenberg and Ms. Maclay just said I should stay in tonight and not tempt fate again. You didn’t have to volunteer to guard me.”

“I wanted to Mr. Mayor.” Larry said as he set the two drinks he had poured on the Mayor’s desk. “I wouldn’t be able to sleep without knowing for sure that you were okay.” As the jock spoke he came around the desk and placed both hands on the smaller man’s shoulders. As Larry began to massage the weary politician Allan Finch let out a sigh of contentment.

“Thank you Larry. I don’t know what I’d do without you looking after me.” Allan whispered as Larry’s arms wound their way around his chest. As he relaxed into the muscular young man’s embrace he heard an amused whisper and felt a warm, inviting breath against the side of his neck.

“You’ll never have to worry about that Baby.” Larry said before leaning in that last fraction of an inch to kiss Allan’s neck. The Mayor could only sigh and give in to the young man who had turned his life around.

********************

“Let me tell you what I see.” The pale, bulbous demon said as he sat in the large cement vat in the middle of the main floor of the abandoned packing warehouse. The vat was filled nearly to the brim with fetid black sludge. One vampire in a pale yellow jerkin stood at the demon’s side with a large ladle in hand. He continuously scooped up the foul liquid and poured it over the exposed folds, rolls and crevices that made up the body of the demon lord Balthazar.

“I see fear.” Balthazar said as he looked over his assembled minions. The vampires clad in matching yellow jerkins shuddered at their master’s glare. “And remorse, and the pitiful look of faces that cry out for mercy.” The demon paused and let out a grunt that could more accurately be described as an oink, but none around him were brave enough to make that comparison. “But what I don’t see is want to see! And that’s my amulet!” By the end Balthazar was shrieking to the ceiling of the abandoned warehouse.

“It’s been a hundred years since my enemy crippled me.” Balthazar went on. “Now he’s dead and I should be the one to rule over the hellmouth. And yet I am still without my amulet!” Another shriek drew nervous flinches out of the dozen vampires present.

“Lord Balthazar!” One vampire called out as he ran into the warehouse.

“Vincent!” The demon shouted at his minion. “Where is my Amulet!”

“My lord we went to the crypt.” Vincent began as he approached the bloated demon and his vat of fetid sludge. “The Slayers were laying in wait for us. They must have your amulet.”

“The Slayers!” Balthazar screamed and shook with rage. The vampire assigned to ladle duty was hit with a light splattering of sludge. “You were supposed to kill the Slayers! I want my Amulet! Bring their watchers to me! Find the Slayers and kill them! Kill everything that gets in your way! Go! Goooo!” He howled and roared as the terrified vampires began to move.

Before any of the El Eliminati could so much as reach the door an arrow embedded itself in the chest of the vampire that had wielded the demon’s ladle. He turned to ash right before their eyes.

“You led the Slayers here!” Balthazar screamed as more arrows found their way to the hearts of his minions. “Damn you! Where is my amulet? Get them! Pull off their kneecaps!”

“Not much for the stirring speeches are ya?” Buffy quipped as she cleaved through a handful of vampires with her long sword.

“Unacceptable!” Blathazar screamed and flailed as his followers died. “Unacceptable!”

“Save a few for me B!” Faith called out as she leapt down from the rafters.

Balthazar saw the brunette and hastily made his move. The corpulent demon waved his flabby, stubby arms in the air and called up a wave of telekinetic force. Faith was gripped tightly by the unseen force and dragged towards the demon.

Buffy saw her love struggling as the demon grasped her head and seethed. She saw a low hanging light fixture suspended just above Balthazar’s tub. With one leap Buffy grasped the hanging electrical cables and yanked the light loose from the overhead rafters. It fell into the black sludge. Faith broke free while Balthazar let out a shriek of torment. His layers of fat and gristle sizzled and smoked as the rest of the overhead lights flickered.

Buffy and Faith locked eyes for one moment before realizing that there were still a few stray vampires left in the warehouse. Buffy leapt back into the fray while Faith surveyed the chaos. She spotted the vampire they had followed and the intricate rapier and parrying dagger he wielded. He was just slipping out one of the side doors when Faith gave chase. She had a plan now. She would make up for her slip with the demon by chasing down the lead vampire and claiming his weapons just as she and Buffy had planned. As Faith broke out into the night air outside the warehouse she smiled. Little did she know the decision to follow Vincent would have drastic consequences for the entire Scooby gang.

********************

The open box of dirt began to quake. The soil shifted and churned for an instant. One pale slender hand shot up out of the loose earth. It was soon followed by another. As the arms flailed and grasped, searching in vain for more sturdy purchase, the slender raven haired vampire squealed with delight.

“Happy birthday Grandmummy!” Drusilla cheered as a head still covered in a dirty white shroud broke free from the casket.

Darla shivered at the sudden onslaught of sensation. As the world around her came rushing back into focus the newly risen vampire cringed. She recalled what she had gone through the first time she rose from the dead.

Centuries ago she had awoken to the gruesome visage of her Master. Darla had felt the sway his presence held over her. It was dark and cruel and all encompassing. But for every ounce of darkness and despair he inflicted upon her she couldn’t help but find comfort in his power. For centuries afterwards she reveled in her submission to her Master. In the death and destruction she had wrought in service to him.

None of that happened the second time she awoke to the night. Darla felt the all too familiar presence of her most deranged minion. She ripped the shroud off of her face and turned to find Drusilla smiling as her. The dark haired vampire was manic in her overzealous joy. Darla could feel the familiar surge from having such a strong minion within arms reach. She could feel Drusilla’s yearning to submit to her just as strongly as she had felt it the night she and Angelus watched the slender woman claw her way out of her own grave.

“Happy birthday Grandmummy!” Drusilla squealed as she flung her arms around Darla. “I was so worried about you. I saw you coming. The moon told me. She said to come into the twentieth century.”

“Well better late than never Dru.” Darla muttered to herself. The fact that they were less than ten months away from the twenty first century was clearly lost on the disturbed brunette. “Why?” Darla seethed with a glare at the woman who had killed her.

“Grandmummy?” Drusilla asked with newfound concern in her childlike voice.

Darla surge out of the box of dirt with a vengeance. Her face shifted to her demonic visage for the first time since her resurrection. She growled down at Drusilla as she straddled her. For her part Drusilla let out a delighted laugh as the petite blonde pressed against her.

“Why?” Darla shouted.

“Did I do something to displease you?” Drusilla asked as Darla slapped her across the face. “Grandmother why? Don’t be angry.”

“Why?” Darla screamed into Drusilla’s shivering face.

“For you.” Drusilla whispered. “All for you. I thought it was what you wanted. To be saved.”

Darla looked into Drusilla’s tear filled eyes and paused. She felt her anguish and outrage melt away as the slender woman clung to her. “All alone. All alone in the dirt. We’ve lost our way, and the little wormy won’t dance if he’s told to. No, no.” Drusilla began to sob as Darla pulled her closer.

The petite blonde vampire couldn’t help but luxuriate in the desperate need coming off of her minion. Darla ran her fingers through long black hair. Once her hand caressed the back of Drusilla’s skull she clenched her fist tightly around the raven locks. Drusilla hissed as her hair was pulled. She swooned as Darla’s tongue forced its way into her mouth.

The hand that wasn’t in Drusilla’s hair worked its way down across supple breasts, across the smooth plane of her stomach and down to the hem of the tight red satin dress Drusilla had chosen for the birth. Darla’s pale fingers slithered between Drusilla’s thighs until they ran through soft black curls. With a smile she gripped those curls just as violently as she had the long raven locks.

Drusilla let out a gasp that mixed pain and pleasure as she felt her Mistress fill her for the first time since they had parted ways. Her hips bucked upwards and drove Darla’s slender fingers ever deeper into her slick folds. Drusilla writhed beneath Darla in the way she knew her Mistress liked best. Though it had been almost a full century since their last play session both vampires fell right back into old habits.

Drusilla’s hands slid down to Darla’s hips and began to squeeze and kneed. The burial shroud was ripped aside and Darla’s soiled white dress was bunched up around her hips. As pale white ass cheeks were exposed to the rest of the greenhouse and the night sky Darla shuddered. She felt Drusilla’s cold hands playfully squeeze and tease as they spread her open.

Darla smirked down at her plaything. She knew what Drusilla was almost begging for. Just as Drusilla’s fingers began to tease and flick through her pussy lips Darla straightened her wrist and gave her minion one powerful thrust. Drusilla howled to the night sky as Darla repeated the thrust again and again. In turn Drusilla slipped inside Darla and found her most sensitive inner places as the blonde mercilessly fucked her into oblivion.

With each thrust Darla reveled in the screams of agony and rapture coming from her minion. With each shudder of her body Drusilla delighted in the undivided attention of her Mistress. Darla fucked Drusilla harder and more ruthlessly than any other creature ever had. Though many might have thought otherwise Spike had always given in to the overwhelming presence of his sire. He had never been given the chance to hold Drusilla down and have his way with every part of her slender frame. That was a privilege Darla kept for herself, only rarely sharing the honor with Angelus during the few times they shared the deranged vampire’s body.

“Yes Grandmother!” Drusilla shouted. “Fuck me raw and spank me till Tuesday!”

“Fucking hell Dru!” Darla snapped. “Don’t call me that while I’m insi…” Darla’s demand ground to a halt as a piercing moan escaped her lips. Drusilla’s finger curved inside her and brought her over the edge of the abyss they had both been racing towards. Both vampires shuddered and quaked in unison as they writhed together against one another. Their moans and gasps of pleasure filled the rooftop greenhouse for far longer than either expected.

“Fuck me, you still got it Dru.” Darla moaned as she slumped to the side and rolled off her minion. “Spike not up to the challenge these days?”

“My William’s heart belongs to another.” Drusilla whispered as she clung to Darla’s side. “The little ball of green sunshine told me to take him far away but I could tell he was already lost to me. When the King holds court my poor boy’s head will be the first to roll. Our Spike won’t be saved from the first son. That naughty boy won’t even save a lamb for the final altar. Thinks himself worthy or Her glory.”

“Okay.” Darla muttered as Drusilla cringed in her arms. “Whatever that means we have other priorities right now. I’m absolutely famished Darling. I need to feed before I can fuck you senseless again.” She paused to reconsider her choice of phrasing. “Well more senseless than usual for you anyway.”

“Fear not Grandmummy!” Drusilla said as she pulled herself up to rest on her elbow. “I have a right proper feast for you.”

It was then that Darla heard the terrified heartbeat. She looked around the room until she finally saw a naked woman handcuffed to a support pillar along the far wall. The bound and gagged victim’s eyes never left the two half naked vampires. “That’s just perfect Darling. You thought of everything.” Without warning Darla was across the room and on the terrified woman. Drusilla laughed as she listened to dying cries muffled by the gag in the mouth of Darla’s meal.

Drusilla watched as Darla dropped the dead girl to the floor and stood. “You’re all new again.” She said as Darla walked over to her and extended a hand to pull her up from the floor.

Darla smiled as she felt the fresh blood flood her newly reborn body. She had plans for the rest of this evening. But first they would have to do something about their ragged and soiled clothing. “Let’s go shopping.” She said with a playful smile as she guided them out of the dirt and blood stained greenhouse. The night was young and they had so many people to kill.

********************

“Oh dear.” Ira Rosenberg moaned as he hurried down the darkened streets. He knew better than to be out at night in Sunnydale. Everyone knew better. They didn’t talk about it, but they all knew better. He silently cursed his meeting with the new head of the psychology department at U.C. Sunnydale. Who scheduled their dinner meetings so late in this town? Obviously she was new to Sunnydale. He wondered if she would last long. For a grim moment he wondered the same about himself.

Sheila would never forgive him if he died as a result of some routine courtesy meeting with some stranger at such a small and unimportant university. But their daughter and her new partner would soon be attending that minor institution. He owed it to them to at least take stock of the faculty. He dreaded the sad prospect of the school’s new psychology head being one of the newest wave of fools hell bent on pushing pseudoscience on the student body. If the woman turned out to be a proponent of reparative therapy it may very well put his daughter off the field of psychology all together.

Fortunately the woman seemed far more level headed than any of the people he had met while giving brief guest lectures at schools like Brigham Young University. That particular incident had disappointed both he and Sheila severely. The visit had been so bad the Rosenbergs flew home a whole three days early and spent a pleasant week with their daughter for once. Afterwards they agreed to vet any appearances in the fly over states beforehand.

Ira turned onto Main Street and let a small sense of relief take hold. Though there was no one else outside as he passed the Magic Box and the Espresso Pump he knew he was just slightly safer on the well lit main road as opposed to the dimly lit areas around the campus he had just left. He felt so assured in his safety that it came as a complete surprise when he was bowled over by a large muscular figure in a grimy yellow vest like jacket that seemed several centuries out of place.

“Who are you, oh my god someone help!” Ira cried out as he looked up into feral yellow eyes and a hideously deformed face. The vampire hissed and bared his fangs at the terrified academic. Ira knew his luck had run out. He was so certain of his own demise that he barely registered the outraged shout of a strange young woman fast approaching them.

“Oh hell no!” Faith roared. “You did not think you could just stop for snacks with me running your ass down!”

The Slayer grasped the vampire by the scruff of its neck and hauled him off Ira. Ira watched in shock and confusion as the young woman hoisted his assailant above her head and slammed him headfirst into the nearest brick wall. After two more solid thwacks of his skull against the wall the vampire tried to draw his jewel encrusted weapons. By the third slam the long rapier slipped from his grasp with the parrying dagger soon to follow. The vampire was helpless as Faith drew out a long slender wooden stake and rammed it home.

Ira watched in awe as the monster burst into a cloud of ash right before his eyes. He looked to the young brunette. To his horror he realized she couldn’t be any older than his own daughter. And yet he knew she held a strength and power beyond his understanding.

“You… you saved me.” Ira whispered as he watched the girl take several deep breaths.

“Huh?” Faith asked as she turned back to face the fallen man she had saved. “Yeah no shit there big guy. What did you think you were doin’ walkin’ around this town at night. You know how hard it is to keep the body count down with all the goddamn townies walkin’ around like oblivious little happy meals? I tell ya, you are lucky I just happened to be hunting that creep right when you walked by.”

“I know.” Ira continued to whisper. “I know, I should already be home by now. My wife will be so worried. I was just visiting a work associate at the university. I tried to schedule for earlier but they changed at the last minute. Oh god I almost died tonight.”

“Yeah, you did.” Faith muttered to herself as she pocketed the stake and leaned down to scoop up the vampire’s weapons. “Just be glad I wanted these as a trophy. My girlfriend’s soon to be step pappy is gonna love these beauties.”

“Girlfriend.” Ira said as shock mixed with sudden realization. “My daughter. If I died she and Tara would never forgive me. I would have missed her wedding day. I’d never get to walk my baby girl down the isle. Oh god Willow I’m so sorry.”

Faith froze. She slowly took another look at the man on the ground. She took in his glasses, receding hairline, slightly bushy mustache beneath his nose, the gentle look in eyes that were now filling with tears. She couldn’t help but feel like she had seen the look behind those tears before. It was present each and every time Red wept tears of joy while she lost herself in Blondie’s eyes.

“Fuck.” Faith whispered as she stowed the weapons. “Shit fuck dick.” The Slayer was shaking as she realized what had nearly happened. “You’re Ira Rosenberg aren’t you?”

“How do you know my name?” Ira asked as he finally looked up to the girl. His voice held only confusion as he stared at Faith’s rapidly growing panic.

“Fuck it all to hell!” Faith shouted as she stood up and marched several paces away from Ira. “Damnit. This is so fucking bad.”

“What’s wrong?” Ira asked his savior.

“Oh nothing much.” Faith said with evident sarcasm. “I’m just totally screwed over now because I’m pretty fuckin’ sure I wasn’t supposed to Slay in front of you.”

“Why me?” Ira asked.

“Pretty sure you’re smart enough to guess big guy.” Faith muttered in disgust. A moment passed before the Slayer stomped her way back over to Ira and reached out a hand. “Well come on.”

“What?” Ira said with a surprised gasp.

Faith just gritted her teeth and leaned down to pull the man up to his feet. “We’re walking your ass home right the fuck now.” Faith declared to the confused academic.

“Are you sure?” Ira asked yet again. “I mean I don’t want to take up all of your time. I’m sure there are others you could save.”

“No.” Faith snapped. “No way in hell! I am not letting you out of my sight until I see you safely tucked away behind a threshold. I ain’t gonna be the one blamed for you getting yourself killed on the walk home. If you die on my watch that’s it for me. My life goes to shit. Again! So you are getting an escort and we are not talking about this night to anyone.”

“Thank you.” Ira said as he began to walk towards his home with the strange young woman at his side. A moment later a slight laugh escaped his lips. “I can’t even begin to properly thank you. You must get this a lot.”

“Not as often as you’d think.” Faith admitted. “Most people just panic and run off into the night, but it ain’t like I do this everyday for the praise.”

“Of course not, you’re a hero.” Ira said before letting an amused smile cross his lips. “You do it to pick up the ladies.”

Faith froze yet again. She fixed the man with one wary eye before she caught the humor in his tone. A moment later she was laughing a she walked beside the father of one of her best friends. “There’s only the one lady for me big guy.” She said once the laughing fit subsided. “Speaking of, she’s gonna be pissed I bailed on her in the middle of a fight.”

“Just tell her you saved someone’s life.” Ira dismissed her concern with an easy wave of his hand. “If she’s worth you’re time she’ll understand.”

“She’s worth it.” Faith said in a far more serious tone that almost gave Ira pause. “She’s beyond worth it. If it weren’t for her I’d be nothing. Just some waste living on the streets.”

“Don’t sell yourself short young lady.” Ira admonished in a firm tone Faith had not expected. “Just because you love someone does not mean they can be your only reason for being. Codependent relationships never end well.”

“I meant she turned my life around.” Faith said as they neared the street Willow said her parents lived on. The brisk pace the Slayer kept them at was sure to cut this awkward encounter as short as possible. “Twice. I was in a bad place before the people I live with brought me here and introduced me to my girl. You don’t even want to know.”

“I wouldn’t say no to hearing your story.” Ira said. His statement drew a confused look from the Slayer who was quick to shake the almost hopeful expression off her face. “I owe you my life miss… I sorry, I just realized I don’t even know your name.”

“It’s not important.” Faith said as they turned the corner and the Rosenberg home came into view. “Just go home and chill. Tell your wife you love her and the next time you see them give your kid and her girl a big ol’ bear hug. That’s what matters.”

“I will.” Ira promised. He was hurried to his front door at an almost breathless pace. As soon as he was safely inside his savior’s last order struck him again. How did the girl know that his daughter wouldn’t be waiting for him when he got home?

********************

“Where the hell is Rayne?” Collins shouted as he, Smith and Weatherby walked into the abandoned warehouse they had set up as their base.

“And the gypsy.” Weatherby said with a sneer. “Haven’t seen her since the night we watched the vampire go through that gauntlet.”

“I’m sure Jenny and Ethan are already planning another attack on Angelus.” Smith said as he walked over to the weapons chest in the corner. He opened it up to retrieve his favorite crossbow only to stare in bewilderment at the empty container. “Um… Fellas?”

“What the devil is it this time Smith?” Collins grumbled out as he rubbed the bridge of his nose.

“The weapons are gone.” Smith replied.

“What?” Collins asked as he looked up. “This can’t be. I just checked that chest before we left. Weatherby check the backups!” The other watcher was moving before the order was half complete. They knew they were in trouble if their regular armaments were suddenly out of reach.

“Gone!” Weatherby shouted as he threw open the two hidden trunks by the back wall. “What game is that damned warlock playing this time?” He was about to charge through the rear door that led to the office and the stairs to the upper apartments when the door opened and a petite blonde figure knocked him back to the floor of the warehouse.

“Oh I think Ethan’s scheming is the least of the problems you boys have at the moment.” Darla said as she strode in and locked the office door behind her. She was dressed in tight fitting black leather pants and a lacey black top that left little to the imagination. Her high heels clicked loudly as they struck the cement floor of the warehouse.

“Darla?” Smith asked only to cringe as she turned to face him with her fully demonic visage.

“So Angelus did it.” Weatherby said as he slowly picked himself up off the floor “He finally turned your worthless husk. How does it feel to be a demon again whore?”

“Weatherby, shut your gob.” Collins ordered as he assessed the threat he and his men were in. One freshly risen vampire could be a problem even for trained watchers. If they had their weapons she’d be no real danger in a straight forward fight. That was of course if she was just a regular fledge. If she had retained her former master status they were all in serious trouble. “So what’s you plan now Darla?” He asked hoping to by time for his men to inch their way into a more defensible formation.

“Oh, we had a few ideas.” Darla said as she glanced to the doorway the watchers had entered through. “My girl and I.”

“Your girl?” Smith asked in confusion before turning with Collins to see a raven haired figure standing in the doorway.

“We met the loveliest shop girl.” Drusilla said as she wiped a small drop of blood out of the corner of her lips. She sported red leather pants that were even tighter than Darla’s and a long flowing overcoat with tufts of leopard print fur along the collar and cuffs. The open coat revealed a form fitting crimson tube top that put Drusilla’s perky breasts on full display. “She tasted of clover.” A pause as the vampire considered the last hour of their tour through the city. “And honey. Pretty watchers all in a row.”

Collins cringed internally. Even if Darla was a weak fledge they still had Drusilla to contend with. A master vampire well over a century old would be the death of even a heavily armed group of watchers. Throw in the somewhat unreliable accounts of her psychic abilities and Collins was certain both Smith and Weatherby would die before he could escape. He quickly contemplated the best way to get past the dazed vampire at the door when she turned to face the doorway itself.

“Daddy’s home.” Drusilla said as Darla moved past Smith and Weatherby.

Collins looked up to find the vampire they had been tormenting for months. Angel glared around the room before taking one step into the doorway. Collins fought back a wave of apprehension as he noticed Angel was still blocking the door, ensuring that no one could get out.

“It’s not daddy.” Drusilla said as she sensed Angel’s soul. “It’s never daddy. It’s the Angel beast.” She finished with a hiss.

“Come to punish us?” Darla asked. “Or maybe you caught the trail of our little shopping trip?”

“Yes, again.” Drusilla brightened at the prospect of punishment. “Grandmummy already gave me a spanking. We promise to be bad if you join us.”

“How about it Angel?” Darla asked. “For old time’s sake?”

Angel simply looked around the warehouse with a stoic glare. After a tense moment his eyes finally settled on Darla. “I’m sorry I didn’t get to you in time.”

“I’m not.” Darla replied with a sinister smirk. “Come on love. I never did get that goodbye kiss.”

“You will.” Angel promised. The statement drew a sigh of relief from Collins. The emotion was dashed aside by the cursed vampire’s next utterance. “But not tonight.”

“What?” Smith cried out with fresh panic.

“Knew he couldn’t be trusted.” Weatherby grumbled in a far too snide tone considering the situation.

“So this is where you stand Angelus?” Collins asked as he watched the vampire step back out of the doorway. “Is this all that precious soul of yours is good for? Watching as good men die?”

Angel smirked at the lead watcher’s challenge. “If only there were good men here. Good men wouldn’t have brought this on themselves.”

“We’re going to die here.” Smith pleaded with the cursed vampire.

“Our blood is on your hands vampire.” Weatherby sneered.

“And yet,” Angel began as he reached for the door and a chain to seal it shut, “I just can’t seem to care.”

The door closed on the delighted yet confused grins of Darla and Drusilla and an instant later they all heard the latch closing and a heavy chain being wrapped around and through the door handle. Collins tried to ready any form of defense but before he knew it both vampires had grasped and broken his arms. He screamed in agony as they released him and turned on Smith and Collins with equal ferocity. The lead watcher watched as the life was drained from his men. He knew he would soon follow them into oblivion.

********************

“Nearly ready dear?” Ira asked as his wife busied herself at the bathroom mirror.

“Just a moment Ira.” Sheila replied in exasperation. “First you come home at all hours last night and now you’re rushing me out the door. What’s gotten into you?”

“Just realizing some things darling.” Ira replied as he sat on their bed. “Every moment is precious and I don’t want us to lose anymore time with our daughter. This is our first dinner with Tara’s mother and if things don’t go well I’m afraid Willow will come to the conclusion that she has to choose between her girlfriend and us.”

“Oh relax darling.” Sheila dismissed his fears as he came striding out of the master bath. “Tara is a perfectly delightful girl and I’m sure her mother is just as charming. Besides, Willow is our daughter and as long as we make it clear we love and support her she’ll always make room for us in her life.”

“Even if she doesn’t need us anymore because her girlfriend inspired her to invent a brand new type of cell phone?” Ira asked. The shocking reveal at the Consumers Electronics Show was all some of his friends and colleagues could talk about in recent weeks. Countless men and women had lined up to ask him if is genius daughter had given him a prototype to play around with yet. He told them all that his device was still in the mail.

“Of course she still needs us.” Sheila replied as she fiddled with her nicer pair of diamond earrings. “Now that our little Willow is a household name she’ll need us to screen all the distant relatives coming out of the woodwork in the hopes that she can pay off their student loans. I am so proud of her. Not even out of high school and she’s already made a name for herself and built an empire around a hobby she enjoys. If I had known all it would take was a curvy blonde witchcraft practicing shiksa I’d have brought her along on a few research trips to some of those lesbian covens you hear so much about.”

“I hardly think that’s the kind of support Willow needs from us dear.” Ira said as he shook off a mild laugh at his wife’s slightly backhanded enthusiasm. “And I’d hate to find out that Tara is the jealous or territorial type.”

“Of course dear.” Sheila said as she finished her preparations. “How do I look?”

“Lovely as always.” Ira replied instantly. He had no desire to accidentally quibble over any of the clichéd sitcom style relationship traps before meeting the mother of his future daughter in law.

“Yes, you always say that, but I’m asking if you think Tara’s mother will like it.” Sheila told a now flabbergasted Ira as she did a little spin for him. “I want to impress her just incase her daughter takes after her more than she lets on.”

“Should I be the one getting jealous dear?” Ira asked as he stood and slid his arms around his wife’s waist.

“Don’t be ridiculous Ira.” Sheila dismissed his question out of hand with a playful kiss. A moment later she broke away from her husband’s lips. A wicked smirk worked its way across her face. “Of course I’d convince her to let you watch our little play sessions. I am happily married after all.”

Sheila smirked as she watched her husband’s jaw fall halfway to the floor. Several amusing moments passed before Ira could form a reply to his wife’s unusually naughty banter. “Nope! Nuh-uh. Not walking into that one.”

“Very clever darling.” Sheila quipped playfully as she gathered up her purse and walked over to their bedroom door. “Now come along. We don’t want to be late to dinner.”

Ira hurried to follow his wife out of the house. As they loaded into their car he wondered just what Tara’s mother would be like. Little did he know he was about to come face to face with another person in his daughter’s life. Someone he honestly never expected to meet again, but whose secrets would forever alter the course of his life.

********************

“Is the roast ready to come out of the oven Mama?” Tara asked as her mother came into the kitchen.

“I’m sure it is Sweetie.” Jennifer Maclay said as she put her earrings in and walked over to the stove to check the main dish for their family dinner. “Just a few more minutes. You should relax Sweetie. I’m sure Willow’s parents adore you.”

“I just want everything to go well tonight.” Tara admitted as she finished up her work on dishes of grilled vegetables and homemade redskin mashed potatoes. “It’s important that our families get along. I don’t want them to ever think I’m holding Willow back.”

“Oh Sweetie.” Jennifer said as she came over to console her daughter. “They don’t think that. And even if they did Willow would always go out of her way to prove them wrong.”

“You really think that?” Tara asked with an almost timid quiver to her voice.

Jennifer just smiled knowingly as she replied. “In the year and a half of so since you two reunited she has gone from a slightly above average straight “A” student to the president and or cofounder of two of the most powerful companies on the planet. If they saw even half of what I saw of your big press event in Vegas they’ll be overjoyed that their daughter found such a wonderful young woman to be her muse.”

“Thanks Jen.” Willow said as she came into the kitchen and put a reassuring arm around her everything. “You do make a pretty nifty muse Baby.”

“Very funny Sweetie.” Tara whispered in Willow’s ear. “Check the broccoli in the microwave?”

“Of course.” Willow agreed. She pressed a kiss to Tara’s temple before skipping off to the other side of the kitchen. “Yup, they’re ready.” Willow cheered as she picked up a pot holder and carried the side dish to the dinning room. Once out of the room she felt a wave of longing and affection wash back and forth across their link. Willow couldn’t help but grin wildly as she returned every ounce of love her always sent her way.

“Goddess, how did I get so lucky?” Tara whispered in a tone only her mother could hear.

“Pretty sure Magic had something to do with it.” Jennifer remarked with a small laugh as she carried the other side dishes out to the table. “At least that’s what you two keep saying to each other every time that question comes up.”

Tara couldn’t help but laugh as she grabbed pot holders and a warming pad and carried the roast out to the dinning room. When she got there Jennifer and Willow were facing each other as Jennifer was straightening out her long flowing dress.

“You look great Jen.” Willow assured the older woman.

“I hope so.” Jennifer said just before a playful smirk came over her face. “Now Willow Dear, which one of your parents do I flirt with first to break the ice?”

“Mama!” Tara all but shrieked in terror as Willow’s mouth fell open. Jennifer burst into laughter as both girls stared at her in shock.

“Oh you girls are too easy.” Jennifer chuckled. “Now what about Faith and Xander? Aren’t they joining us?”

“Sorry Jen.” Xander said as he came into the room with his jacket tucked under one arm. “Faith has a hot date with the Buffster and I’m heading next door for Dawn Patrol. Besides, Will’s parents already know me. I’m the example they used when they told her boys can’t be trusted because we’ll get her preggers and such.”

“Xander!” Willow shrieked as Tara and Jennifer burst into laughter.

“Or was Jesse the one Sheila ranted about when you got the talk?” Xander asked as Willow just shook her head in annoyance.

“And just what did your parents say about me when we started hanging out all the time?” Willow asked with a snippy tone she hoped would take the wind out of his sails. Unfortunately the jab was far too effective.

“Come on Will, you know my old man.” Xander began as he straightened and shifted uncomfortably. “He was drunk at the time but I’m pretty sure he said don’t knock up the little “derogatory term for Jews” or else you’re getting shipped off to an oil rig with your deadbeat uncle Jimmy. Then he spent the rest of the day ranting about the “Jew-run” liberal media.”

“Oh Goddess Xander I’m so sorry.” Willow said as she rushed across the room to hug her friend. Before the young man could protest Tara and Jennifer were holding him as well.

“It’s okay Will.” Xander said after a tense but loving moment. “Just one more reason why I’m glad I finally moved in here with you guys.”

“You’re always welcomed here Sweetie.” Jennifer said as she pulled away from the group hug.

“I know.” Xander said as he looked around at three of the four women who had taken him into their home. “I love you guys.”

“And we love you Sweetie.” Tara assured him.

A moment later Willow peeled herself off of Xander’s chest and stepped back. The redhead gave him a reassuring nod and the two old friends smiled at one another. Another smile from Tara and Xander made his way out the door. Once outside Xander took a moment to steady himself. He sucked in a deep breath and pulled his jacket over his shoulders. Once he was certain that the tears building in the corners of his eyes could be held back he looked up and took the first step towards the Summers house. The unexpected figures standing in his path all but caused him to jump off the porch and into the nearby bushes.

“Mr. Harris.” Ira said with a polite yet forced smile as he and Sheila stood at the base of the porch steps.

“Mr. and Mrs. Rosenberg!” Xander yelped in surprise. “Long time no see.”

“Yes.” Sheila agreed as she looked the young man over once more. “We certainly weren’t expecting you to be here this evening. Stopping by for a visit?”

“Sort of something like that.” Xander admitted. “I’m just heading next door to babysit Buffy’s sister. Jen and the girls just finished up inside. Have fun tonight, hope you enjoy your dinner.”

With a smile only slightly less forced than Ira’s Xander made his way down the steps and slipped by Willow’s now skeptical parents. Once on the front lawn he quickly jogged away. Ira and Sheila watched the boy go and shook their heads. Without a second thought for their daughter’s best friend they turned and climbed the porch steps.

They knocked on the front door and were surprised when it opened immediately. “Mr. and Mrs. Rosenberg.” Tara smiled as she opened the door wider and nodded for the couple to enter. “Dinner is ready wh-whenever you are. Please, l-let me introduce you to my mother.”

“Of course dear.” Sheila said as Ira gave the honey blonde the hug he had promised to give. Afterwards they followed Tara to the dining room. They turned a corner and found their daughter standing with a middle aged blonde woman who had Tara’s soft blue eyes and gentle smile.

“Mama, this is Sheila and Ira Rosenberg.” Tara said as she guided the parents of her everything into the dining room. “Mr. and Mrs. Rosenberg this is my mother, Jennifer Maclay.”

“Welcome to our home.” Jennifer said as she walked up to Sheila and clasped hands with the taller, auburn haired woman. “It’s so good to finally meet you both.”

“A pleasure.” Sheila said as she held the woman’s hands for a moment.

“Yes, quite.” Ira agreed as he hugged Willow and smiled along with his wife.

“This is such a lovely home.” Sheila said as she looked around the room.

“Yes.” Jennifer agreed. She walked around the table and took her seat. “Tara and I were lucky to find such good friends when we moved here. Joyce and her daughters have been wonderful. Moving in next door to the Summers girls made perfect sense.”

Ira and Sheila took their seats and continued to chat with Jennifer. Willow and Tara retreated to the kitchen for a moment before returning with drinks for the table. The Rosenbergs and the Maclays were soon laughing as the conversation flowed far more easily than any expected. The evening was off to a wonderful start.

********************

“I had just the best time tonight Honey.” Buffy said as she walked her girl to the front door of her home.

“The best B?” Faith asked in a sly seductive voice. “Seems like I remember a few times we had just as much fun. Course those fun times were the naked kind of fun.”

“You are so bad.” Buffy whined playfully as she clung to her girl’s arm. “So we’re still going on patrol later?”

“You know it beautiful.” Faith affirmed with another playful smile that went straight to Buffy’s knees before working its way up her thighs.

“Trying to seduce me with a new nickname F?” Buffy asked as Faith walked her up the porch steps of the Summers home.

“No need to try B.” Faith said just before she pulled Buffy into a searing kiss. The brunette maneuvered her petite blonde love around the porch, pressing Buffy’s back up against one of the pillars supporting the overhang above. Buffy couldn’t help but moan into Faith’s mouth. Faith for her part reveled in the soft, needful writhing of Buffy’s entire body against her own. The brunette wished they could go on like this forever. But as the blonde’s legs came up to wrap around her hips the last sliver of responsibility in Faith’s mind forced her to stop.

She knew her girl would never forgive her if they were ever caught screwing on the front porch of the Summers home. What’s more Faith knew that if she didn’t stop at that moment she too would be carried away by the passion between them. Faith reluctantly played the role of responsible girlfriend and broke away just enough to catch her breath.

“God Faith.” Buffy moaned as she squeezed her thighs around Faith’s hips. “Tease a girl why don’t cha?”

“Sorry B.” Faith murmured as she let her forehead rest against Buffy’s neck and shoulder. “But if we don’t stop now I’m gonna be inside you the next time your mom or lil’ sis look outside. And last time I checked you didn’t want us puttin’ on a show for all the neighbors.”

“God why do I have to be so responsible and levelheaded?” Buffy quipped as she wriggled her hips into Faith once more. The all too pleasurable pressure was more than enough to weaken Faith’s knees.

The brunette braced the two of them against the pillar as she desperately tried to resist her girl. “You’re killin’ me here Buffy.” Faith moaned into Buffy’s neck. “This is for the scare I gave you last night isn’t it?”

“I looked up and you were gone Faith.” Buffy whispered in a hurt tone that she hadn’t used all evening. “And then when I finally caught up with you it was in Willow’s parents’ neighborhood after at least a half hour of frantic searching, and the whole time your emotions were all over the place. You still won’t tell me what spooked you.”

“I saved a guy B,” Faith began only to pause for a long moment, “but it was a close one. I think I’m gonna be in trouble later. For now though I just want to enjoy the time I have with you.” Faith brought up one hand and tapped a finger against her own head. “You make all the fear and anxiety runnin’ around up in here go away.”

“I love you Faith.” Buffy assured her girl. “I’m here for you no matter what. We can face this together. When you’re ready just come and talk to me and we’ll figure it all out.”

“Damn if I don’t know what I did to get you in my life B.” Faith whispered as she pulled her head up to rest her forehead against Buffy’s. “But now that you’re mine I ain’t ever gonna let you go.”

“Ditto Faith.” Buffy swore as she squeezed her girl just a little tighter. The emotions behind their declarations of love cut each Slayer to their core. “You are mine. No questions there. Neither one of us is leaving the other. And if anyone or anything tries to get between us I will destroy them.”

“Not just Slay them B?” Faith asked as awe and wonder filled her view of the girl still wrapped around her body.

“Nope. Slay isn’t big enough to cover what I’ll do.” Buffy explained in a more gentle tone. “I’m talking about scorched earth. There’ll be crushing and driving them before me and lamentations from the women folk.”

Faith couldn’t help but let out a small chuckle. “Well if it’s good enough for Conan and his half naked, shirtless kinfolk it’s good enough for me.”

“Who?” Buffy asked as confusion overtook her face. Faith just blinked in surprise once she took in her girl’s befuddlement.

“Oh man B.” Faith said as she laughed even harder than before. “We have got to have a movie marathon soon.” Another pause for laughter. “And not one of those Bollywood nights Xander keeps talking you and Red into.”

“Something tells me I’m gonna have trouble focusing on these old guy movies with you in the room.” Buffy pouted in a way Faith found far to endearing.

“Probably.” The brunette admitted before grasping Buffy by the hips and setting her back down on her feet. “But if I don’t walk next door now I’m pretty sure neither one of us is gonna make it anywhere but your bedroom upstairs for the next five or six hours.”

“That sounds like a great idea.” Buffy cheered in a way that wore Faith’s resistance down to nearly nothing. “There’s still half a bottle of chocolate syrup in my mini-fridge upstairs. We could split it and then you could split me.”

“Damn girl.” Faith muttered as she peeled herself away and forced her legs to start the long, tedious walk next door. “You are so gonna get it the next time it’s your turn to be the responsible Slayer.”

“Promises, promises.” Buffy said as she waved to her girl and slipped through her front door.

With the tantalizing blonde out of sight Faith found the journey far easier. She was across the lawn, up the porch steps and through the front door of her home in a heartbeat. What she found on the other side of that door wiped out all the pleasant thoughts her girl had so diligently poured into her mind.

“It’s you.” Ira whispered in wonder and confusion as he and Faith stared at each other.

“Crap.” Faith muttered to herself. She knew she’d eventually see Willow’s parents. She had just clung to the fleeting hope that it wouldn’t be until Willow and Tara’s wedding day. Seeing Ira Rosenberg standing in her home the day after she stumbled over him in pursuit of a vampire was the last thing she expected.

“Jennifer you simply must show us the rest of the house.” Sheila said as she and Tara’s mother walked arm in arm into the front foyer. They stopped and puzzled over the pair at the door. Sheila, wondering who this new young woman was and why her husband was staring so intently. Jennifer, wondering when Faith had come home and why she looked so pale and frightened. “And who might this be?” Sheila asked out loud.

“Faith you’re back early.” Jennifer said as she looked the visibly nervous brunette over. “Sweetie, did something happen with Buffy?”

“B, Buffy’s fine.” Faith said as she averted her eyes away from Ira and Sheila.

“Jen, you didn’t tell me you had another daughter.” Sheila said as she looked the girl over. “Ira, stop staring! You’re scaring the poor girl.”

“What? No, it’s just…” Ira asked as he turned back to his wife. Realization dawned before he quickly looked back to Faith. “I didn’t expect to see you again.”

“You two have met?” Sheila asked in a newly curious tone. “Ira please tell me Willow doesn’t have a long lost half sister I’m just now learning about.”

“Heh I wish.” Faith chuckled weakly.

“She saved my life.” Ira said as he continued to stare at Faith.

“She what?” Willow called out as she and Tara came into the room. “Faith what is my dad talking about?”

“It was an accident Red.” Faith began to panic as she realized her housemates were going to find out just how careless she had been. “I was running down this vam… guy and he tried to mug your old man.”

“Vam…?” Willow whispered as she caught the slip. “You saved my dad.”

“Oh that’s wonderful Sweetie.” Jennifer said as she looked back and forth between Faith and the two elder Rosenbergs. “Ira you really shouldn’t have been out after dark. There are so many, um, muggers in Sunnydale.”

“It was a vampire wasn’t it?” Ira whispered as he still looked at Faith. “I’ve heard the rumors, but I always hoped they were just that. But it really was one of those things.”

“Ira what are you talking about?” Sheila asked as she looked around to all the worried faces in the room. “You were attacked by one of those things the news always makes up ridiculous stories about? You could have died!”

“You guys know?” Willow all but shouted at her parents.

“Of course we know Willow.” Sheila said in exasperation. “We just don’t talk about it. Like everyone else in this wretched town. Why do you think we always said to never invite anyone over and keep the doors locked and stay inside after dark? This town isn’t safe.”

Sheila looked up to the stunned faces of both Jennifer and Tara. She wondered if this new shameful secret about the town would scare off something wonderful that had turned her daughter’s life around. “Oh Jennifer please don’t be frightened. It always takes some getting used to from new arrivals. It’s entirely possible to live a long happy life in this town if you know the rules.”

Jennifer met Sheila’s concerned gaze and then glanced at the grin working its way across her daughter’s face. It was too much. Tara’s mother burst into laughter that only served to confuse Sheila even further. “Oh Sheila, dear. Wow.” Jennifer said as she continued to laugh. “Don’t worry about us. I’d say I’m a little more familiar with the rules than even you.”

“What?” Sheila asked before turning back to Ira. “Wait. Ira how did this girl save your life from a monster? She can’t be any older than Willow.”

“Two years younger than Red.” Faith added as she kept her eyes fixed on the floor. “Not that it matters. Willow I’m sorry. I know you didn’t want to drag your parents into any of this.”

“Faith, why are you apologizing?” Willow asked as she walked up and pulled the Slayer into her arms. “You saved my dad’s life. How can I blame you for that? How can I be anything but grateful?”

“You did an amazing thing Faith.” Tara added as she joined the hug for a brief moment. The loving embrace was soon cut short as a panic stricken petite blonde burst through the front door.

“Faith!” Buffy shouted with her long sword held high, casting the waves of its aura around the room. “What’s going on? It felt like you were in trouble!”

“Bunny?” Sheila asked as she stared in horror at the Slayer. “Willow what is going on here?”

Willow looked to her mother and then to the two Slayers. She couldn’t help but laugh at the absurd turn the evening had taken. “Don’t worry Mom.” Willow said once she finally stopped giggling. “Buffy it’s okay. Faith was just worried that we wanted to keep some secrets from my parents. She was afraid she’d be in trouble but it’s all good now.”

“You sure Will?” Buffy asked before lowering the sword and turning back to Faith. “Honey?” She asked as she brought a hand up to cup Faith’s cheek. “I’m here for you. I love you.”

“Love you too B.” Faith whispered as she hugged her girl. A moment passed before she looked back to Willow. “So Red, now that the cat’s out of the bag and all that, how much are we telling your folks?”

“Everything.” Willow said as if it was obvious. “Mom, Dad. There’s some stuff Tara and I have to tell you. Most of it will sound insane. Come with us into the living room and please try to keep an open mind.”

“Of course Willow.” Sheila said as she followed the witches through the open archway. Ira lagged behind still looking at Faith and Buffy as if seeing them for the first time. “Thank you again Faith. I owe you everything. For what it’s worth you and Willow’s little friend there make a lovely couple.”

“Was that a short joke Mr. Rosenberg?” Buffy scowled as she questioned the smirking man.

“Maybe.” Ira admitted before following the others into the living room. As the Slayers joined them they heard Willow and Tara begin the long and drawn out tale.

“Let’s start from the very beginning.” Tara said as she turned to Willow.

“A few thousand years before the invention of the written word there was a young woman named Sineya.” Willow told her parents. Buffy and Faith just shared a look as they settled into on large recliner in the corner, pressed as close together as possible.

********************

“So Faith is some sort of ancient mystical superhero destined to fight the forces of evil and she lives here with Tara and Jennifer because they are powerful witches that help her fight the good fight?” Sheila asked as she tried to piece together all the background pieces of the various myths and legends she had just been told.

“Close but way off.” Faith said before looking back to Willow. “Red you gotta give her the specifics and stop selling yourself short.”

“But Faith has to be the Slayer.” Ira said as he looked back and forth between his daughter and his savior. “She had the superpowers you talked about.”

“I’m a Slayer. Buffy is “The” Slayer.” Faith said as if the distinction was obvious for all to see. “She’s the one that got drafted by fate. I’m the street trash who volunteered after Red and her girl tracked me down in one of Boston’s uglier slums.”

“You are not street trash!” Buffy snapped. “We’ve been over this Faith. You are more than that awful place you had to fight your way out of.”

“So Buffy is the Slayer and Faith is also the Slayer?” Sheila asked before looking back to Willow. “I thought you said there can be only one.”

“Yes, the current one has to die before…” Ira broke off his statement as he looked back to Buffy in horror.

“Yeah, I died.” Buffy admitted. “But it was only for like a minute. Then Xander brought me back with CPR.”

“Xander Harris!” Ira and Sheila asked in unison just as Xander walked into the room.

“That’s my name. Don’t put a stake in it.” Xander quipped as he joined the group. “What’s the what? Did Will’s parents find out the big top secrety secret?”

“Oh yeah.” Jennifer told him.

“Okay so Buffy died at the end of our sophomore year.” Willow went on. “Xander saved her life and she turned around and Slayed the big bad evil vampire that “killed” her. Then the next school year our spell activated and Tara found her way to me.”

“You and Tara are under some kind of spell?” Sheila asked as she and Ira tried to reconcile their long held views of Xander with the news that he had in fact saved the lives of some of their daughter’s closest friends and in the process the entire world.

“It’s a reincarnation slash interdimensional travel thing set up to make sure we find each other in all the worlds where we both exist.” Willow began the much longer and more convoluted explanation of the evening. “How much do you guys know about Multiverse Theory?”

********************

“This is all a lot to take in Bubula.” Ira admitted once his daughter’s explanation drew to a close. “You’re sure you aren’t just being mind controlled by these memories of other worlds?”

“Are you sure you aren’t being mind controlled by your memories of last week?” Willow asked her father.

“Ooh! She’s got ya there big guy.” Faith laughed at Ira’s befuddled frown.

“Dad, Mom.” Willow said as she looked at both of her parents. “I lived with Tara for just under three years. In spite of all the mistakes I made to ruin things, they were the happiest moments of my life. After she was taken from me I survived for over seventy years without her. It was hell, just drifting from one mistake to another. I tried to move on, I really did, but it was all meaningless. Empty. So I taught myself one of the most difficult forms of magic until I was a master unlike any this world or any other had ever seen.”

“And you found me.” Tara whispered to her everything.

“I will always find you Baby.” Willow swore.

“I still think this would all go a lot faster if you had some visual aids.” Buffy chimed in.

“Yeah.” Xander agreed far too readily. “And some finger puppets.”

“No!” Buffy snapped at Xander to the surprise of everyone. “No puppets. Am I the only one who remembers Sid the Dummy?”

“The what now?” Faith asked as both of Willow’s parents looked to the Slayer in confusion.

“Alright, I’ll bite.” Jennifer said as she watched Buffy, Willow and Xander cringe. “Who is Sid the Dummy?”

“Sid was a demon hunter these guys ran into during their sophomore year talent show.” Tara explained for Faith and the parents in the room.

“Was this before or after Red dated a robot?” Faith asked, drawing more shocked and confused looks from the Rosenbergs.

“Thanks Faith, I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to tell my parents about that whole mess.” Willow grumbled to herself.

“The talent show was literally the week after the whole thing with Malcolm, Moloch.” Buffy said. “Then the week after that some psycho little league coach beat a little boy until he was comatose, but lucky us the hellmouth gave the kid coma dream powers that made it so everyone’s nightmares came to life in the real world.”

“What like Freddy Kruger coming to get ya?” Faith asked. “Damn I’m gonna be pissed if I missed the chance to Slay some movie monsters from this decade.”

“More like surprise pop quizzes and regular bad dream stuff.” Buffy admitted. “Willow was dragged on stage to sing an Opera she didn’t know the words to, Xander’s clothes vanished in the middle of class then he had to punch a clown, Giles forgot how to read, my Dad…” Buffy trailed off in a whisper towards the end.

“What did your dad do B?” Faith asked as she felt her girl grow tense with each passing second.

“He blamed me for the divorce, said we should go our separate ways and then he left me right when I had to fight the Master.” Buffy said after taking a deep breath. “I lost and then I became a vampire until we finally got Billy to wake up.”

“Jesus.” Faith whispered. “Remind me to deck you dad if he ever shows up.”

“Thanks Honey.” Buffy whispered as she nuzzled into Faith’s neck.

“I don’t understand.” Sheila said as she turned back to Willow and Tara. “Why did Sid turn you kids off of puppets?”

“Oh, oh yeah he was a ventriloquist dummy.” Willow told her parents. The adults in the room froze as the ridiculous statement hung in the air.

“Like one of those “Redrum” screaming, butcher’s knife wielding, chucky dolls.” Faith asked.

“Pretty much.” Willow replied. “A bunch of decades ago he slept with the wrong witch’s sister. So they removed his soul and trapped it inside a wooden dummy.”

“Damn if that don’t sound all kinds of messed up.” Faith whistled at the gruesome prospect.

“That was a really weird month for us.” Buffy admitted as she ticked off the most outlandish struggles from her first year on the hellmouth. “Demon robot trapped in the internet, walking talking sex offender dummy at the talent show, nightmares made real.”

“I’m sorry.” Sheila interrupted the Slayers as she looked back to her daughter once more. “Willow did you seriously date a demon robot?”

“That’s not even the worst of it.” Willow said before waving a hand at Xander. “Ask Xander about the time he dated a teacher.”

“Okay first off she was a substitute teacher, and nothing even happened because she turned out to be a seven foot tall praying mantis.” Xander shot back only to draw out howls of laughter from Jennifer, Faith, Ira and Sheila. As the three main Scoobies traded barbs and embarrassing stories of demons from their pasts a calm settled over the room. Sheila and Ira shared a look as they both realized their daughter was far more capable than either of them had ever imagined. What’s more she had surrounded herself with friends that she could depend on without question. Any fears they had about Willow’s future soon faded to distant memories as the evening wore on.

********************

“Well that went about as well as it could have.” Jennifer said as she waved to Ira and Sheila while the married couple pulled out of the driveway.

“They seemed to take the news well.” Tara added as she held Willow close.

“I was not expecting to have the “I’m a witch” talk this early.” Willow muttered as she watched her parents drive off.

“But it went okay right?” Faith asked. “Your folks seemed to like the idea that you and your girl just go around collecting superheroes.”

Buffy put a reassuring hand on her girl’s shoulder as she turned back to Willow. “Yeah Will, Mr. Rosenberg called us superheroes like twenty times since I ran in the door.”

“Yeah.” Willow said as she let all the events of the evening sink in. “Yeah, they seemed okay with everything. I think we’re gonna be okay.”

“I know we will.” Tara assured her always. She knew Willow would make it through whatever hardships she faced. She and the rest of their odd little family would be there by her girlfriend’s side every step of the way.

********************

Alonna paced the lobby of the hotel. All those around her could tell that she was furious. “You bailed on us Angel.” She seethed. “On a mission from one of Doyle’s visions to stop a troubled guy from taking his own life, and then when you finally show up you go straight to your room and sleep off the rest of the day. Now you tell us this?”

“And you… just walked away.” Wesley said as he sat in shock at the story Angel had just wrapped up.

“No.” Angel deadpanned as he stared vacantly at the watcher. “I walked to my car and drove away.”

“That’s not funny!” Alonna shouted. The rest of the Crew cringed at the Slayer’s outrage.

Gunn shared a concerned look with Wesley, and Rondell before turning back to the vampire. “You didn’t do anything?”

“You allowed Darla and Drusilla to have free reign.” Wesley let out in a still shell-shocked voice.

“I didn’t bring either one of them into this.” Angel said all too calmly. “They did.”

“You could have stopped them.” Doyle said before Wesley could even react to the cold, emotionless tone the vampire took.

“And I will.” Angel said as if it was obvious.

“When?” Fred asked as for the first time she looked at the vampire that had helped rescue her with uncertainty and dread. “After they murder all the people that ever gave you the stink eye?”

“Angel, while it’s certainly true that the watchers council special operations team members were no saints and actively trying to undermine Alonna’s work here, what you did…” Wesley was at a loss once more.

“It’s wrong.” Doyle finished.

“You went too far.” Gunn added.

“We’ve all been, concerned.” Wesley began. “I guess it’s fair to say we all share some of the blame. We should have spoken up sooner.”

“And louder.” Gunn said as heads all around the room nodded in agreement.

“This is unacceptable Angel.” Alonna growled out with steel in her voice. “This is not what we do here. Vengeance is not the mission! Especially not when it involves letting two master vampires eat whoever they fucking want!” By the end she was shouting her fury to the rafters high above the floor of the lobby. No one dared speak over the Slayer.

A long tense moment passed before Alonna forced her rage down. The Slayer spoke to the vampire that had been her ally in a calm tone that still held the glimmer of one final olive branch. “Your soul isn’t what makes you special Angel. Lot’s of murderers and monsters have souls. What sets you apart is the mission. Your place here is what keeps you from the darkness. Real darkness! That’s what makes you better than all the other bloodsuckers out there! I won’t have you in my home and my city if you’re going to turn a blind eye whenever those two mass murdering whores decide to go on a killing spree.”

“I know.” Angel said as he stepped over to the stairs that led up to the front door of the hotel. The vampire leaned down and picked up a duffle bag he had placed there before starting his explanation.

With no trace of emotion he turned and faced each and every member of the Hyperion Crew. His eyes moved across the room and each person there unflinchingly met his gaze. At last he looked to Alonna. The Vampire and the Slayer locked their gazes for one long moment that dragged on for far longer than either expected.

“I quit.” Angel said. He turned, walking out the door and into the night. Not a word was spoken in the wake of his departure.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2016 1:11 am 
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8. Vixen
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Dibs-y Goodness! :banana :bounce

Yay for excellent update-y goodness... Kinda happy that those council creeps got what they deserved... I wonder how the LA gang is going to handle Dru & Darla team and Angel quitting... Big yay for Ira & Sheila getting to know the truth about Slayers & the Sunnydale situation...

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 11:59 pm 
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9. Gay Now
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Sorry i took so long to post.

I was on my 13th read through :)
Need that context, dontyaknow?

:P

Anyhoo, it's nice to see Willow's parents being brought into the fold.
And the parental byplay was hilarious :)


And i find myself wondering What the hell, hero? with Angel.
Something's going on there, for sure.


But at least Giles gets a shiny new sword set for his birthday :)

Looking forward to the next episode :bounce

R :flower

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 9:18 pm 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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Hi Zampsa, hi Azirahael.

Sorry for not replying to your feedback earlier. I just got back from visiting my sister in Florida and all that wackiness.

I'm having fun playing around with Ira in the main storyline. Also Faith getting a good scare about her living situation was a good bit of paranoid drama. Plus having Willow's parents in the know opens the door for a few other surprises that will come up before the end of this act.

As for Angel well, he's got a few more ups and downs to go before Ethan is done with him. Some of those ups and downs will include Darla and stuff we saw in the spin off after he fired his support structure. And some will be all new and mildly entertaining.

Now to get back to work on the upcoming Dark Ages chapter.

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