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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 4:26 pm 
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9. Gay Now
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Location: Beyond the orbit of Mars and accelerating...
Ok, now i REALLY can't wait! :bounce :bounce :bounce :bounce :bounce :bounce

R :flower

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“All I feel is sunlight. All I hear is music.” Willow
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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 4:43 pm 
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8. Vixen
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:banana :banana :banana Me either!

More soon please! :eatme :eatme :eatme

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Heather aka vampyregurl73 aka Riverwillows73
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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 5:03 pm 
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3. Flaming O

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azirahael wrote:

quote
"Ok, now i REALLY can't wait!"

Same here!


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:55 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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Time and Time Again.

Author: Citanul

Feedback: Be kind, rewind?

Spoilers: Just about all of them. Go watch the show.

Rating: NC-17

Pairings: W/T, B/F

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 that last entry ended on a bit of a cliff hanger. I'm thinking I shouldn't have the three side stories do that too often. But for now we're back to the Buffyverse. I think we'll all get a kick out of the way the episode "The Dark Age" plays out when Eyghon isn't in the picture. Some very familiar faces are going to show up. And sadly we'll be saying a temporary goodbye to someone as well.

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

Chapter 11: Lives Saved, Spent, Bargained and Brokered

The Rosenberg & Maclay private jet landed at LAX and pulled into the law firm’s private hangar. Its three passengers were greeted by Lilah Morgan and a limo.

“Hello Ms. Rosenberg, Ms. Maclay.” The brunette lawyer said. “Wonderful to have you back so soon.”

“Thank you Lilah.” Tara replied. “Tell me, how is your mother doing?”

The tall woman paused briefly. It shouldn’t have surprised her to have a superior ask her such a personal question about her private life in such a caring tone. It was certainly something that never would have happened in the old days. Back then she would have expected such a question to be immediately followed with a threat that her mother would die if her performance reviews started to slip. Lilah realized she still had a lot of adjusting to do.

“She’s undergoing a miraculous recovery.” Lilah finally answered with a slight smile. “The doctors have no clue what’s causing it but I’m bringing her home to live with me later this week. She’s well enough that my housekeeper will barely have to watch her and she’s getting stronger every day.”

“That’s wonderful Lilah.” Willow said. “We’re so happy for you.”

“Again thank you both so much for the medicine and the amulet.” Lilah added. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to repay you for that and all the perks from the new job title.”

Willow and Tara shared a glance and then both of them put a hand on either of Lilah’s shoulders. With a meaningful look they both reassured the lawyer they had chosen as one of their key agents.

“It was the right thing to do Lilah.” Willow said. “We’ll never ask you to pay us back for the help we gave your mother. As for the job the best way you can pay us back is with loyal service in the near future.”

The lawyer looked confused at the redhead’s statement but was soon answered by another from the honey blonde.

“Things are going to get v-very dangerous in the next few years.” Tara admitted. “The w-work we’ll ask you to do will save lives.”

“Of course.” Lilah said after a brief pause. “Might I ask who this is accompanying you?”

Wesley who had been standing to the side the whole time stepped forward and introduced himself. “Wesley Wyndam-Pryce.” He said while raising his hand.

“He’s the watcher we acquired.” Willow added as Lilah took the man’s hand. “He’ll be joining our Hyperion Crew. If things don’t pan out with the council and he remains loyal to us you may have to fight them over his and Mr. Giles’ immigration status.”

Lilah took another look at the man who seemed shocked by the young redhead’s statement. She couldn’t tell if he was reeling from the assumption they would go up against his council or the possibility of his betrayal.

“Well that’s good to know at least.” Lilah said as she released the Englishman’s hand. “I have a car waiting to take us to the hotel.”

“Excellent.” Willow cheered as she and Tara skipped off to the waiting limo. The lawyer and the watcher gave each other one more cursory inspection before following the two young women who had so irrevocable changed their lives.

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

“I’m on a beach.” Buffy said as she and Faith sat in the school’s courtyard. “But not one of those American beaches. One of those island beaches where the water’s way too blue. And I’m lying on my towel, and it’s just before sunset and.” She paused. “Gavin Rossdale’s massaging my feet.”

“Good one B.” Faith said with what she hoped was a convincing smile. “Let’s see. I’m in a ratty cantina in Mexico.” Faith began. “And some guys start some shit. Then all sudden like Antonio Banderas swoops in, kicks some ass and sweeps me off my feet.” She really hoped that was convincing enough.

“Very impressive.” Buffy replied before a frown crossed her face. “But wait. Isn’t that a scene from Desperado?”

Faith was caught. “What can I say?” She tried to recover. “I’m a girl with simple taste.” Faith couldn’t believe how easy it was getting to lie to the one girl in all the world that she just wanted to scream the truth at more than anything.

“What are you two up to?” Xander asked as he joined them.

“Just having a quick game of anywhere but here.” Buffy said.

“Oh, Amy Yipp at the waterslide park.” He replied.

Just as Faith was about to ask about the girl and the park she saw Giles across the courtyard. “Yo, how wild do you guys think the G-man was back in his wild days?”

“Before I’d say not at all, and that his diapers were tweed.” Buffy answered. “But after Halloween and all the hints about this “recklessly misspent youth” Willow keeps dropping I’d say if we actually got a chance to meet the boy he was he’d turn out to be wilder than you Faith.”

“Is that a challenge B?” Faith asked with a coy smirk. “Cause if you wanted to see wild I got some ideas we could have fun with.”

“Easy girl.” Buffy said causing Faith to pout ever so slightly. “Giles!” The Slayer called out.

“Oh!” The librarian remarked. “There you are.”

“Hey, morning, say is that tweed?” Buffy asked.

“What?” Giles asked before realizing. “Oh, yes, now look tonight is very important.” He said as he led the teens inside the school.

“Now that’s a surprise.” Buffy smirked. “So what’s on tap tonight that’s so important? Uprising, prophesized ritual, preordained death fests?”

“Ah the old standards.” Xander said jovially.

“Um, a medical transport is delivering a monthly supply blood to the hospital.” Giles answered.

“Hmm, vampire meals on wheels.” Buffy remarked.

“Hopefully not.” Giles replied. “We’ll meet outside the hospital at eight thirty sharp. Bring some of those special weapons you both have gotten from Willow and Tara’s sojourns.”

“Is that what we’re calling it now when they take that plane of theirs half way around the world?” Xander asked.

“Yes quite.” Giles remarked. “Just don’t be late.”

“Have I ever let you down?” Buffy asked her watcher.

“Do you want me to answer that or shall I just glare.” Giles replied with a disbelieving look.

“Morning England.” Jenny Calendar said as she strolled up.

“Oh, yes, hello miss, um ah, Jenny.” Giles greeted the woman he was tentatively dating.

“Feel the passion.” Faith smirked causing Jenny to look up and suddenly realize she hadn’t met the brunette standing where Willow usually stood in the group.

“Who’s the new girl and what happened to Willow?” Jenny said.

The Scoobies present all shared confused looks and couldn’t help wonder how Willow’s favorite teacher had been left so thoroughly out of their loop.

“Faith.” The Boston girl said after a long pause. “Red and Blondie adopted me so I could help out B here.”

“B is Buffy?” Jenny asked. After Xander nodded a quick yes she suddenly realized she was missing something else. “Then who is Blondie?”

“You haven’t met Tara?” Buffy asked as her eyes widened in surprise.

“No, who is Tara?” Jenny asked.

“Oh well she’s.” Giles began to say as Buffy cut him off.

“New in town and she and Willow have been getting really close.” The Slayer said quickly.

“Is she in the know or not?” Faith asked with a perplexed look.

“I thought she was but now I can’t tell.” Xander whispered.

“Guys what’s going on?” Jenny asked.

“Listen, Ms. Calendar.” Buffy said. “Some stuff happened the last few weeks and I just don’t feel comfortable talking about all the changes Willow is going through personally until she is back in town and gives you the full introduction herself.”

“Now Buffy I’m sure Jenny has proven herself trustworthy.” Giles stated.

“Giles think about the last few weeks.” Buffy replied. “Jenny should have been the first person Willow told after that light show in the library. If they haven’t told her yet then it might be safer for her if we wait till they get back from their trip.”

“Willow’s out of town?” Jenny asked growing more confused. “I wanted to ask her about coming to help review computer basic tomorrow with students who fell behind.”

“Ha, those poor shlubs have to attend school on Saturday.” Xander laughed.

“Nine a.m. okay with you Xander?” Jenny asked causing the boy to loose his grin.

“You got a bit of shlub on your shoe there.” Buffy smirked.

“Cordelia’s gonna meet us.” Jenny added. “And you should probably come too Faith.”

“Ooh gang did ya hear that?” Xander remarked snidely. “A bonus day of class plus Cordelia, mix in a little rectal surgery and it’s my best day ever.”

“No big.” Faith said. “Ol’ Ginsberg isn’t enough of a hacker for me to be able to sleep through that class and still ace the tests.”

Feeling thoroughly confused and a little left out Jenny turned to Giles. “Walk me to class?” She asked.

“My pleasure.” Giles replied.

As the two adults walked off Faith turned to Buffy with a questioning look. “I don’t get it B. I thought Red and the G-man’s squeeze were tight.”

“I did too but if Willow hasn’t introduced Jenny to Tara after all these weeks then it means there’s more to the situation than we know.” Buffy said.

“You think Ms. Calendar is hiding something?” Xander asked.

“I’m hoping it’s that simple.” Buffy remarked before heading to class. As she walked away Faith couldn’t help but take in the view.

“You know Faith.” Xander said. “You might want to tell her how you feel if you got it that bad.”

“Yeah right.” Faith scoffed. “How well did that turn out for you X-man?”

“Total crash and burn.” Xander answered with a sigh. “But if it turns out she’s way more interested in barking up your tree my ego can rest easy as it recovers.”

Faith glanced at the young man with a bewildered expression. “How you figure me getting some helps restore your manhood.”

“Well ya see I spent months pining over our little blonde friend.” Xander replied. “When I put myself out there for her she shot me down hard. Probably something to do with being too close as a friend. But if it turns out she doesn’t even like my side of the fence it means there was never anything I could do. I can’t give her what she wants but you could easily give her what I can’t and what I can. Plus you aren’t deadboy.”

“Okay ya lost me.” Faith said. “What do you mean by me giving her what you can?”

“Come on Faith.” Xander said with a sly grin. “You’d already be the butch one. All you’d need to give her a more “masculine” experience is a flannel shirt, a fake beard, and a strap on three times bigger than me. And no I’m not telling you my measurements.”

Faith looked at her only guy friend with a sideways glance before letting out heartfelt laughter. It was good to know she didn’t have to hide her true feelings from anyone but the one person she had them for. The fact that the boy who spent months pinning over Buffy had given Faith his blessing in the form of a mildly dirty joke did more to lift her spirits than she ever thought it would.

With what could have been an ugly battle for the blonde Slayer’s heart already conceded Faith and Xander went to class.

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

As the limo pulled up to the Hyperion Hotel its four passengers got out. They entered the building and found no one in the lobby. After a brief moment Willow and Tara led Lilah and Wesley to one of the ball rooms. Specifically the one the crew turned into a martial arts training room. There they found a truly impressive sight.

A slender brunette girl was locked in fierce combat with a tall muscular vampire. He wielded a longsword while she used a wickedly curved Khopesh that seemed to dance through the air. Their swords clashed repeatedly with deafening clangs. Though it was clear by the sword strikes that the girl was physically weaker she moved with an almost catlike grace that kept the vampire on guard.

Without warning the girl stepped inside the vampire’s swing and brought her blade up to his throat. Though her apparent victory was spoiled by the fact his sword was placed precariously at the back of her neck.

“Draw?” Fred asked.

“Draw.” Angel agreed.

“That was amazing Fred.” Willow said as they both set aside their swords. “Just wait till your muscle memory fully catches up with your episodic memory. You’ll be dancing circles around dozens of demons at a time.”

“Hi Willow. Hey Tara.” Fred called as she looked to see she had an unexpected audience. “What brings you guys here?”

“That would be me.” Wesley said as he stepped forward and reached out a hand to Fred. “Wesley Wyndam-Pryce at your service. I look forward to being your new watcher.”

“Oh no, I don’t need a watcher do I?” Fred asked. “I mean the thought is nice and all but I’m good with just helping out with the training and the science.”

“Miss every Slayer deserves a watcher.” The Englishman replied. After a moment he looked up to see the vampire and witches laughing at him. “What’s so funny?”

“Fred isn’t the Slayer Wesley.” Tara said.

“But then how?” He asked utterly confused.

“Cursed Halloween costumes.” Willow said.

“Yup.” Fred replied. “No Slayer in here. Just a head full of space pirate ninja assassin memories.”

“Don’t forget genius physicist too.” Angel added. “And that was before the costumes rewrote everyone’s brains.”

“Fascinating.” Wesley remarked before turning to the witches. “So if this isn’t the Slayer where is she?”

“Next ball room over.” Angel answered. “We turned it into a class room and Doyle is in there giving the whole gang a practice run through their G.E.D. tests.”

“Lindsey should be in there too.” Lilah added.

“Good, we can get introductions out of the way.” Willow said.

As the group made their way next door they heard the sounds of light conversation. coming from the room.

“Really excellent work guys.” Doyle said happily. “You all breezed through this in record time.”

“And just as soon as the paperwork for Doyle’s license clears you’ll all be able to take the test for real and pass without a problem.” Lindsey cheered.

“Those study sessions go a lot smoother now that half of us think like Nobel Prize winners.” Gunn said.

“You’re welcome.” Willow and Tara said as they walked into the dining hall turned classroom.

“Hey what brings you ladies round here?” Gunn asked with a wide smile.

“A couple reasons.” Tara stated before turning to the dark haired Irishman. “Hey Doyle, Mom says hi.”

“Oh, that’s, um, that’s just great.” Doyle stammered. “You can tell her I said hi too?”

“Sure.” Tara smiled.

“Damn Irish!” Gunn remarked with a laugh. “Pretty ballsy making a move on the boss’s mom.”

“Doyle is dating Ms. Maclay’s mother?” Lilah and Lindsey asked in unison. Her voice was tinged with shock while his held a tone far closer to surprised and congratulatory respect.

“Hey now, I’ll have you lot know that Jen is a classy lady who we should all stop talking about while two terrifyingly powerful witches are in the room.” Doyle said with a nervous look to Willow and Tara.

“Relax Doyle.” Willow said. “We already gave you the shovel speech.”

“Shovel speech?” Lindsey asked.

Doyle raised his hands to mime holding a shovel. “If you hurt her I’ll beat you to death with a shovel. I think it’s a standard warning the Scoobies give everyone’s new beau.”

“Yup.” Willow replied. “It’s a time honored tradition. Plus a vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend.”

“Nice.” Gunn remarked. “I’ll have to try that next time some punk catches Alonna’s eye.”

“Yeah like I still need you looking over my shoulder since Willow and Tara shuffled my name to the top of Destiny’s in box.” Alonna smirked.

“Speaking of which, we have someone here you should all meet.” Willow said. “This is Wesley. He’s a watcher we just bullied the council into handing over. He’ll be working with you guys for now.”

“You guys got me a watcher?” Alonna asked surprised.

“More like we demanded the council hand over a guy who might be useful to us one day after your team is done breaking him in.” Tara said with a coy smirk.

Alonna stood up and walked over to stand right in front of Wesley. The watcher was unperturbed and boldly extended his right hand in greeting.

“Wesley Wyndam-Pryce at your service. I look forward to being your new watcher.” He repeated.

Alonna took his hand but held his gaze with a much firmer glare. “Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat Wesley. If you ever drug me to take away my powers and lock me in a building with a crazy vampire I’ll cut them off.”

At first Wesley didn’t understand who the “them” in that statement referred to but as he look around the room and saw a few young men crossing their legs nervously he suddenly realized the severity of the young woman’s promise.

“Yes, well.” He stammered in a high pitched voice before clearing his throat. “Completely understood.” He then turned to the witches. “I take it you told Ms. Summers and this other alleged fourth Slayer about the Cruciamentum as well.”

“Oh yeah.” Willow answered. “Buffy was furious.”

“And the other girl?” Wesley asked.

“Wasn’t too impressed with the idea of getting her own watcher and decided to share Mr. Giles.” Tara stated.

“Besides.” Alonna said. “She already had one when she was ten.”

“Oh yeah.” Gunn chimed in. “That girl is somethin’ else.”

“She survived a confrontation with a vampire when she was only ten years old?” Wesley said in shock.

“What can I say?” Willow said with casual disinterest. “You meet all sorts of interesting “people” in the foster care system.”

“Ain’t that the truth.” Gunn agreed.

Wesley was stunned by this revelation. This fourth Slayer was clearly a force to be reckoned with.

“Everyone introduce yourselves to Wesley.” Willow called out. “The sooner he gets to know all of you the sooner you can get to work convincing him to turn his back on the council. Good luck Wes.” She smirked as she led Tara, Alonna and Angel out the door.

Wesley could only try to hide the look of utter confusion on his face as the redhead yet again brought up the subject of his loyalties as a point of contention in her own private games. He suddenly felt like her was very much in over his head.

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

Willow and Tara led the Slayer and vampire down the hallway to a room that held a number of windows with the curtains all drawn. They had things to discuss about the newest teammate.

“Is he going to be a problem?” Angel asked.

“Probably.” Willow admitted.

“Then why bring him onboard?” Alonna asked.

“Right now he is only useful as an extra set of eyes for research.” Willow said. “Once he gets actual field experience and gets knocked on his ass a few times he’ll be an asset we can’t do without. You two and Gunn are still in charge here. I told Wesley as much. Just make sure he knows you know that and when the time comes try to convince him the place in our ranks we are offering him is better than the one the council would give.”

Before either of the Hyperion Crew’s leaders could ask for more details one of the windows on the far side of the room shattered and a demon burst into the chamber wielding a sword. It had green skin and dressed in medieval armor befitting a warrior. Multiple weapons hung from its belt. Yet most peculiar about the beast was the bright red gem in the center of its forehead.

“Mohra.” Willow whispered as Alonna and Angel went to confront their attacker.

The Slayer delivered a kick to the demon’s chest as Angel slid along the ground and swept the intruders legs out from under him. Once the foe was prone Angel leapt atop it and drew one of the blades from the demon’s belt to deliver a killing blow.

“No!” Willow shouted as she brought a wave telekinetic force up to separate and confine the vampire and the demon. The Mohra looked panicked as it was held aloft and all the weapons it carried fell to the floor beneath it.

Angel merely looked confused and a little put out as he found himself pressed against the far wall safely out of the reach of both the demon and sunlight.

“Um, Willow?” Angel said with confusion evident in his voice. “What gives?”

“I’m sorry Angel but we need this demon alive for some very important reasons.” Willow said. “Also its blood has very strange effects on vampires. We can’t risk you mixing his with yours just yet.”

“Willow this thing attacked us.” Alonna said. “What are we supposed to do with it if you don’t let us kill it.”

“Oh dear. That’s a Mohra demon.” Wesley said as he and several others crowded the door. “A high ranking assassin and warrior breed for the forces of darkness.”

“And you want us to just let it go?” Alonna asked turning back to the witches.

“Why on earth would we let it go?” Tara asked.

“Willow said you have plans for it.” Alonna asked confused.

“And those plans involve keeping it alive in a box for years while our scientists study it.” Willow stated. “Angel I’m going to let you down now. Please leave the room and go bring Lilah and Lindsey back here right away.”

“Okay.” Angel said as he felt the force pinning him to the wall relax and ease him to his feet. He left without another word.

“Goddess hold him fast with your radiance. Prevent him from doing harm to himself and others.” Tara chanted as chains of light encircled the floating demon and bound his limbs.

“Thespia bind this demon. Cloud the mind and hold the body. Bring my victim low.” Willow chanted another spell that seemed to put the demon into a catatonic trance. She eased back slightly as the now completely helpless and immobile demon sank to the floor.

“You wanted us Ms. Rosenberg?” Lilah asked as she walk into the room then gasped as she saw the demon and broken glass on the floor.

“We’re in luck Lilah.” Willow said. “Now that we have the Mohra demon in our possession a world of possibilities has opened up. Call in a team from the law firm. I want a steel box strong enough to hold him. Shackles too. Once we get him into containment back at office I want our best scientists studying his blood.”

“Right away Ms. Rosenberg.” Lilah said as she pulled out a phone and made a call to her office to get the cargo safely back there as fast as possible.

“What’s so special about his blood?” Alonna asked. This was starting to sound all the more disturbing as she thought about it.

“If we are very lucky it will allow us to save millions of lives.” Willow said with a wide uncompromising smile. “I’m sorry guys but this is gonna cut our visit short.”

“What?” Alonna asked. “You just got here.”

“I know and I’m so sorry, but if we don’t get this settled before we fly back to Europe tonight we’ll miss our window.” Willow said hastily.

Minutes later there was a commotion from down the hall. The residents of the hotel stepped aside to make way for six overtly muscular men in black guiding a large metal coffin resting on a gurney.

“This way boys.” Willow said. “Put him in the box and get him back to the office right away.” As they complied with her orders Willow turned to the other people who had come to trust her.

“Guys this is going to be so amazing when it pays off.” She said. “We normally have to hunt one of his kind down a year from now to even begin all the things we’ll be able to start now that we have him. You’ve all been doing amazingly, keep up the good work and we’ll drop by soon. Wesley if you don’t want to move into a room in this hotel then talk to Lilah and she’ll see about an allowance and housing budget.”

With that babble complete Willow and Tara followed the team of large men out of the hotel. The Hyperion Crew stood stunned as they watched their benefactors leave with the prisoner.

“Should we be worried?” Gunn asked. “It kinda sounded like they were gonna dissect that demon.”

“They wouldn’t.” Alonna said before growing uncertain. “Would they?”

“I wouldn’t worry.” Angel said. “Willow isn’t one of those kids who grew up pulling the wings off flies or legs off bugs.”

“Besides, that was a Mohra demon.” Doyle added. “We’re talking fanatical warriors dedicated to ending the world. It’s not like he’s someone you can reason with.”

“Someone take the demon’s weapons down to the armory.” Alonna said, deciding not to dwell on this turn of events. “I’ll get a broom to sweep up all this glass.”

“I’ll help.” Fred said as a handful of the boys went over to examine the discarded swords, daggers, mace and flail the witches took off the demon. Things settled back down in the hotel as the young demon hunters went back to their studying and training.

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

“This will do nicely.” Willow said as the guards wheeled the demon into the lab and restrained him inside the clear containment chamber. She quickly typed a list of diseases into a computer and addressed the scientist that would be leading the research. “I want samples of his blood taken and exposed in small doses to the bacteria and viruses that cause these diseases. I also want full analysis done on the reaction every type of cancerous growth has to the blood. We need to know if it is just preventative or if it stops growth. If we are very lucky we may be able to combine it with other medicines to reverse the growth of abnormal cells.”

While Willow was addressing the lab workers Tara stood by and entered a very specific chemical composition into the computer. She then turned to a shallow trough she had ordered them to fill with topsoil. With a calming effort she cleared her mind and entered a meditative state. Moments passed before tiny green stalks started to sprout all across the wide trough. Each stalk sprouted dark green leaves covered in deep blue veins.

“Th-this may help.” Tara said as Willow came over to her and wrapped her arms around her curvy love.

“Come on Baby.” Willow whispered. “We have a plane to catch.”

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

That night in Sunnydale went by quickly and with little incident. Buffy and Faith made quick work of the three vampires dressed in doctors scrubs that tried to steal the blood delivery.

Saturday passed for the Scoobies rather uneventfully. Xander, Faith and Cordelia went with Jenny to study in the computer lab. Buffy trained in the library with Giles and was soon joined by Faith who finished surprisingly early for a girl with next to no computer experience.

All in all, the most troubling thing on the hellmouth that day was the fear blooming in the mind of one Janna of the Kalderash. It had been weeks since she had noticed Angel snooping about and she was beginning to grow worried that something the Slayer wasn’t willing to tell her just yet was the reason. In any event meeting this Tara was sure to be interesting.

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

Dawn broke out across the skies over Prague on Sunday morning. As the warm glow of daylight illuminated the city a black SUV pulled up outside of a warehouse on the edge of town. After the driver killed the engine six men stepped out of the vehicle. Each wore chainmail and carried a longsword. Each had a distinctive tattoo on his forehead.

“Orlando, Dante.” The oldest of the men called. “Search the perimeter. If this meeting is a trap I want to be prepared.”

“Yes sir, General Gregor!” Both men saluted before running off.

The leader of the Knights of Byzantium had been called to a secret meeting and he wasn’t about to walk blindly into an enemy trap. Minutes passed before Dante and Orlando returned.

“Sir, there is no sign of an ambush.” The ebony knight confirmed.

“There are no signs of enemy preparation or fortification.” The taller dark haired knight added.

“Hmm. We proceed with caution then. Knights form up on me.” Gregor ordered. They made their way to the main doors of the warehouse. With a forceful push they threw open the doors and strode inside. Who they found waiting for them truly shocked them.

“What is the meaning of this?” General Gregor demanded when he saw the group of men in dark brown robes huddled together in prayer on the far side of the warehouse.

One by one the members of the Order of Dagon looked up at the knights. Nervous whispers spread through the monks.

“What are the knights doing here?” One monk spoke up.

“What are we doing here?” Gregor cried. “What are you monks doing here? Why have you called us to this run down eye sore?”

“We did not summon you here General.” The lead monk said calmly. “We were summoned to this meeting. I take it you didn’t expect to be seeing us.”

“No monk, your face was the last I expected to be seeing here.” The General replied with a weary sigh. “How long have you been waiting for our host to appear?”

“We arrived only moments before your car pulled up.” The monk replied before letting a slight smile spread across his face. “I thought you stuck to horses.”

“Not in cities this large.” Gregor admitted. “I don’t suppose you’d hand over the Key while we’re waiting.”

“No General.” The monk answered. “I assume you have yet to find the vessel.”

“No we haven’t found the damn vessel.” Gregor answered with an exasperated sigh.

“General, we should force them to hand over the Key while we have this opportunity.” Dante declared.

“Dante unless you became a cleric on the ride over here while I wasn’t looking we have no means of destroying the Key in its energy state.” The General admonished the eager subordinate. “Unless the monks willingly give the Key a form we can interact with then we can’t sever the link now can we?”

“And we can’t resort to fighting each other over the Key. The resulting chaos would only afford the followers of the Beast an opportunity to wipe us out and take the Key for their own.” Orlando remarked as Dante continued to glare at the monks.

“I am impressed General.” The monk said with a smile. “I have not heard such wise council from a knight so young in many years.”

“Wisdom and youth may not go hand in hand but they are far from mutually exclusive traits.” Gregor said. “Now if only the ones who called this meeting would show themselves.”

“That sounds like our cue Sweetie.” A young woman’s voice came from a section of the warehouse between both groups of men. All heads turned to stare at the spot they hadn’t even noticed was shrouded in shadow.

The monks and knights both stared in shock as the air began to ripple with energy. A translucent veil took form and fell to the ground to melt away into the ether. Its passing revealed two girls standing in front of a heavy curtain. They smiled and the honey blonde let out a slight giggle.

“Sorry for that.” The redhead said with a grin. “We wanted to make sure your organizations sent men willing to listen before we made our offer.”

“And just what could two little girls have to offer the Knights of Byzantium?” Gregor asked with a mildly irritated tone. This mysterious rendezvous was starting to look all the more suspicious.

“You’d be surprised.” Tara said, not taking her eyes off the knights.

“Watch yourself General.” The head monk warned. “These two are hiding great power.”

“Thank you for noticing.” Willow said. “We have a gift that both of your orders can appreciate. After we hand it over we’ll talk about what we want from each of you.”

“And just what gift would make both our orders so indebted to you?” Gregor asked.

“This.” Willow said as she yanked the curtain aside to reveal a young man bound to a chair and gagged. He had wavy brown hair and a terrified look in his eyes. His upper body was bruised and bleeding. On the floor around him thirteen glowing golden orbs were arrayed in a circle.

The monks and knights gathered gasped in shock at the sight. They couldn’t imagine what good a broken hostage would do their orders.

“What is the meaning of this?” Gregor asked as he began to suspect the boy in the chair was more than he seemed.

“Those are Dagon Spheres!” Several monks cried out.

“Yes they are.” Tara affirmed.

“It took us a few centuries to figure out how you made them.” Willow said to the monks. “These are all the ones we’ve been able to manufacture since we got those memories back weeks ago. We couldn’t afford to take any chances with him.”

Gregor was mildly taken aback. The young redhead had poured such vehemence into that last word he wondered what sins the fool had committed against the two girls.

“Who is he?” Orlando asked with a whisper.

“Watch and learn.” Willow said as she and Tara walked around to stand behind the bound man’s chair. They each clasped one hand while bringing their other up to the temples on either side of his head. While quietly chanting in unison they touched the tips of their fingers to his skin.

Light seeped out of his head around their hands as he began to scream in agony. Their fingers sunk into his skull so deeply they might have been able to touch inside his brain. His form began to ripple and shift. Hair turned from light brown waves to long curly golden locks. Shoulders narrowed. Face and body changed from that of a young man to a young woman as the cries of agony turned to shrieks of torment.

“The Beast.” Several monks and knights whispered in surprise. “They captured the Beast in its vessel.”

The witches began to withdraw their fingers from the hellgod’s skull and its form snapped back to that of the male vessel. Light whimpers of pain could be heard through the gag in his mouth. As the witches stepped back panting slightly they turned to the knights.

“Gregor, would you care to do the honors?” Willow asked the General with a smile.

Without warning or hesitation the General of the Knights of Byzantium drew his sword and rushed the bound man. One last panicked cry was muffled by the gag before the longsword came down and severed head from shoulders.

“Ding dong the bitch is dead.” Tara said with a smirk as Ben’s head fell to the floor and rolled a short distance away.

“I love your spicy talk Baby.” Willow remarked as the gathered monks and knights cheered.

“This is truly a great day!” The lead monk cried out. “The Beast is gone from this world for good.”

“How can we ever thank you ladies for this “glorious” gift?” Gregor said as his men groaned at their leaders pun.

“Your orders will both repay us for this.” Willow said with a serious tone. “The monks will give us the Key so that we may guard it against all who would use it and fashion it into a form of our choosing.”

“It will be safe and all who try to use its power will die painfully.” Tara said with cold menace.

“And the knights will forget the Key exists.” Willow added. “You won’t look for it. You won’t try to destroy it. You won’t even think about it. The link was severed with Glory’s neck. Your god’s will has been done. These terms are not up for negotiation and will be obeyed starting now.”

“What would you do with the key?” Dante asked with a scowl.

“We will do exactly what the monks would have done as their last resort while Glory was busy killing all of them.” The redhead answered with a glare. “That is all you need to know.”

The monks huddled together quickly before reaching a consensus. Their leader then turned to the witches and bowed slightly.

“We agree to these terms.” He said drawing shocked looks from the knights.

“How can you just hand the Key over to two witches you know nothing about?” Dante asked with incredulous outrage.

“We know they serve the Goddess.” The monk said calmly. “And we know they know of our last resort to safeguard the key. After seeing what they just did to a being that could have killed everyone in both our orders I can safely say the Key will be well guarded in their hands.”

“You give us your word you will prevent the Key from being used to break down the walls between dimensions?” Gregor asked after taking a moment to consider the options.

“You have our word that any who try will be dealt with just as harshly as we dealt with the Beast, the Wolf, the Ram and the Hart.” Willow said, gaining even more shocked whispers from the men she had gathered.

“It was you who banished those demons and took over their agents on this world?” Orlando asked in awe.

“Yup.” Willow answered before growing serious. “Don’t fight us on this General. We don’t want anyone to use the Key for its intended purpose. But we need it more than you’ll ever understand. Once we have it in our possession it will be guarded by the fiercest protectors imaginable.”

Minutes passed in the warehouse as Gregor weighed the options and their consequences. He had no idea if he and his men could best the two young women who had already proven themselves by taking down the Beast. What’s more he didn’t know their true intentions but he knew when the monk mentioned the Goddess they could at least be trusted not to end the world with the Key.

“We will accept the terms of your demands for now.” Gregor said at last. “Though in the days leading up to the alignment we will call another meeting to ensure the Key remains unused.”

“In that time we expect you to hunt down every last follower the Beast had on this plane.” Willow replied. “I don’t want to see any of those scabby hobbits ever again.”

“That is a mission the Knights of Byzantium would be honored to undertake.” Gregor said with a smile.

“Perfect.” Willow beamed. “Now if you knights will excuse us we have a ritual to perform with the monks.”

“General are you certain?” Dante asked is shock.

“I am certain the six of us have no hope of defeating them on a stage they have obviously set to their advantage.” Gregor remarked. “I am also certain that even if they are planning to betray us it will be years before the alignment. We have news to report to the rest of our order. This is now a day of celebration for all who stand against evil.”

With that the General turned and strode out of the warehouse. His men were quick to follow. The lead monk turned to Tara and Willow with a renewed smile.

“I have to say that was handled quite well.” He assessed. “We must have caught the general in a good mood today.”

“Or he’s still in shock from getting to kill the Beast himself.” Tara replied.

“Yes, that helped as well.” The monk replied. “So I take it you want the Key given to the Slayer in the form of a young sibling.”

“Yes sir.” Willow said with a smile. “We want the Key transformed into the little sister of the Slayer Buffy Summers. Either we’ll perform the ritual ourselves or you can while we watch.”

“My fellow monks and I would be honored to craft the key into the young woman you wish for.” He said as his fellow monks formed a circle and began to chant.

Willow and Tara smiled as the words to the ancient ritual perfectly outlined the person they had loved as a daughter almost as long as they had loved each other. As light filled the warehouse hope and joy swelled in their hearts. As the light condensed to a single point it shot into the sky and plunged the residents of the grimy building into darkness.

“The deed is done.” The head monk said with a smile. “She should be anxiously awaiting your return home.”

“Thank you so much.” Willow said as she returned the smile. The redhead turned to look at her love and saw tears forming in the corners of her blue eyes. “Baby?”

“Happy tears Sweetie.” Tara promised. “Very happy tears. I can’t wait to see her again.”

“I know.” Willow said. “I feel the same way. We should head home now.” She added before turning back towards the monks. “Thank you all for your cooperation today. I sincerely hope we don’t see any of you again. I mean that in the nicest way possible.”

“We understand.” The lead monk said. “Thank you for bringing the Beast’s reign of terror to an end. We may never be able to repay you for that or for the things you will do in the future to protect the Key. You have our most sincere and profound gratitude.”

With that the monks all bowed to Willow and Tara. The two witches smiled, gathered up the Dagon Spheres they had crafted and took the opportunity to turn and exit the warehouse. With the wave of a hand they dismissed the cloaks that prevented the knights from seeing their town car and the vehicles the monks arrived in.

Tara signaled their driver to take them back to the airport. As the sounds of their car’s engine started one of the monks turned to his elder in the order and ventured a worrying question.

“Brother?” The younger monk began. “What if the Key is harmed by the dangers of living on the hellmouth?”

“They will see to it that possibility never comes to pass.” The head monk affirmed. “Though we do not follow their Goddess or her teachings only a fool could deny the power of her chosen followers, and I suspect those two young women are the most powerful followers the Goddess has ever chosen. The Key will be safe and all who try to take her from those witches are in for a very serious lesson.”

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

As their car pulled into the private hangar at Prague’s Ruzyně International Airport Willow and Tara gathered the few ritual items they had used to capture Ben and keep Glory from surfacing. They then stepped out of the vehicle and proceeded through the somewhat lax customs checkpoint. A very minor glamour ensured the odd assortment of herbs, crystals and orbs was completely overlooked.

Willow approached the pilot to instruct him they would be flying directly back to Sunnydale but was surprised to find him on the phone with someone who his gestures indicated wanted to talk to her. The redhead took the phone and cleared her voice softly.

“Hello, this is Willow Rosenberg.” She stated calmly.

“Ms. Rosenberg!” Came Lilah’s ecstatic voice. “I was just checking to see if the pilot knew when would be a good time to call you. I have great news about your Trojan Horse.”

“We were just about to head back to Sunnydale.” Willow said before the end of Lilah’s statement registered. “It paid off that quickly?”

“And then some.” The lawyer replied. “I was in the archive rooms with the transcription teams all day yesterday. They say thanks to your gift we have complete access to everything in the watchers council archives. Our teams have already transcribed about thirty percent of their London headquarters materials to hard copies of our own.”

“Excellent work Lilah.” Willow said with a smile. “Be sure to keep the new copies isolated from our main archive. I don’t want them to notice what we’re doing through the source book we gave them until we’re done. We can’t allow the coming war to destroy all those works.”

“Of course Ms. Rosenberg.” Lilah assured.

“And Lilah.” Willow added.

“Yes?” The lawyer asked.

“Thank you for coming in to work on our special projects over the weekend.” Willow said. “I know you could be spending this time reconnecting with your mother.”

“Actually.” Lilah said but quickly trailed off.

“What’s wrong?” Willow asked, growing worried by her employee’s nervous tone.

“I kind of have been spending time with her.” Lilah admitted. “She always loved books so much and I figured there wouldn’t be much harm in telling her my office has a special library.”

“That’s wonderful Lilah. I hope she is enjoying herself.” Willow cheered.

“You aren’t mad I violated the rules on restricted areas?” Lilah asked nervously.

“Knowledge is a beautiful gift and should never be restricted.” Willow said firmly. “Giles taught me that so very long ago. If it wasn’t for the fact our enemies would try to destroy us with that knowledge I’d make most of the contents of our archives open to the public. As it stands the vast majority of family or friends our other employees might have are of no concern to our security as far as “library visits” go. With your mother’s medical history there is absolutely no reason to restrict her access. None of our serious threats would ever target or even believe intel gained from someone recovering from her condition.”

Lilah took in the sincere approval in the redhead’s babble and smiled. She had never expected to be praised for bringing her recovering mother to the office. Taking orders from the honey blonde and redhead just kept revealing unexpected benefits.

“Thank you again Ms. Rosenberg.” Lilah said after a moment. “If there is nothing else I should get back to work. Please give Ms. Maclay my regards.”

“That will be all Lilah.” Willow said with another smile. “Enjoy the rest of your day.”

Willow hung up and finished telling the pilot to ready the plane for the return trip to the hellmouth. She then went to check on her love who she found on their usual couch in the main cabin.

“That seemed to take longer than usual.” Tara remarked. “Is everything okay?”

“Lilah called.” Willow answered with a smile as she walked to the couch and curled into her love’s embrace. “They’ve copied about thirty percent of the watcher library in London. Oh and she brought her mom to the archives for the last few days so they could bond. Plus she says hi to you.”

“Aww.” Tara remarked with her distinctive grin. “That’s so sweet of her.”

“Hey now Baby!” Willow retorted before letting her own smirk out. “Don’t go getting all soft on our recovering villain employees.”

“Funny Sweetie.” Tara said as she held the love of her life. “So have you sorted through the “new” memories yet?”

“Uh huh.” Willow nodded as her head came to rest on Tara’s chest. “You?”

“Pretty much.” Tara replied. “Goddess I can’t believe we got her an Einstein costume for Halloween.”

“I know right.” Willow replied with a laugh. “What were we thinking?”

“Maybe it won’t be as bad as the Freud costume fiasco?” Tara said with a somewhat skeptical tone.

“I never expected to become such an expert on which historical figures knew the most jokes about eating pussy, but it happened anyway.” Willow said with a forlorn huff before looking into Tara’s eyes and letting out a heartfelt laugh.

As their plane took to the skies their laughter tapered off and they both shared a soft, sensual kiss. They were coming home with the highest of hopes for the homecoming they would receive.

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

The taxi pulled up in front of 1632 Rovello Drive. With eager hearts Tara and Willow got out, paid the driver and grabbed their bags from the trunk. They stood on the sidewalk in front of their home, building up the courage for the fateful encounter.

“You ready Sweetie?” Tara asked after a few minutes passed.

“Yes, no, maybe, I don’t know. Can you repeat the question?” Willow replied with a worried tone. “I don’t know why I’m so nervous. We’ve known her forever. Why do I always feel this way right before meeting her?”

“I feel it too Sweetie.” Tara assured. “Even w-when we manage to save Joyce I feel it all the same. I’ll always feel connected to her. She’ll always be our little girl.”

“I love you so much Baby.” Willow said with a wide, uncompromising smile. “Let’s go meet her.”

With their nerves addressed and set aside Willow and Tara walked to the front door of their home and stepped inside. Before they could even call out to anyone a skinny yet deceptively energetic twelve year old with long light brown locks ran right into them.

“Oh my god Tara, Willow! You’re back!” She yelled while hugging Tara. “I missed you guys so much!”

“We missed you too Dawnie.” Tara said as she wrapped her arms around the young girl and slowly mouthed “I love you” to Willow. “We missed you so much.”

“We sure did.” Willow added as she joined in the hug.

“Hey guys.” Buffy called as she walked up to the cluster of hugging girls. “What’s the what?” The Slayer asked before she noticed tears gathering at the corners of Tara’s eyes. “Oh god Tara why are you crying? Did something hurt you guys? It’s already dead, just tell me where to go.”

“Happy tears Buffy.” Tara whispered. “Very happy tears.”

“This last trip just brought up a lot of old and painful memories.” Willow told her friend. “It made us really appreciate having our whole family together.”

“Oh good.” Buffy said. “Dawn, Mom and me are part of that family right?”

“Of course you’re our family doofus.” Willow shot back as Tara let out a light laugh. “You Summers girls, Xander, Giles, Jennifer, Faith, Alonna, Gunn, Fred, Doyle and even Angel and Lorne. You’re all the most important family we’ve ever had.”

“See B? I told ya you didn’t need to worry about Red and Blondie replacing you with the next could be a Slayer gal they find and unlock.” Faith said as she sauntered up to the group. “Now lets all head back to the kitchen. The mom squad has been in there making lunch and X-man is already helping himself to the first round.”

At the brash outburst all the girls that had been hugging burst into laughter and followed Faith down the hall. One thing was certain. Now that their family was just about complete Willow and Tara weren’t going to let anyone or anything tear it apart. Though they knew many would try, they did not fear. The love in their hearts was too great for that.

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

Later that night Tara awoke to find herself alone in bed. She immediately felt a sense of uncertainty and agitation in the depths of her soul. Whatever Willow was up to it had her worried.

With a heavy heart Tara lifted herself out of bed and slipped on a robe. She then followed the path her heart guided her on to the library. She stepped inside and found the vault door open.

Tara sighed as she walked into the secret room and found her love standing before their list holding a marker in either hand and glaring at them as if they had vexed her to no end.

“Sweetie whatever the markers did it isn’t worth loosing sleep over.” Tara said with a coy smile.

“What?” Willow asked as she looked up and registered Tara’s comment. “No Baby, I just. I don’t know who should get credit for this last kill. Us?” She asked as she held up the red marker. “Or “other?” She said as she waved the black marker around. “See Gregor really is the one who did the deed but we did all the work. I just want what the board reflects to be fair and honest.”

Tara let out a small laugh as she stepped forward and took the red marker out of Willow’s hand. With a smile she stepped in front of the red section of their “Big Board of Big Bads” and slashed several red lines through the name Skankzilla.

“There.” Tara said with a smile as she set the markers down. “We killed Glory. Problem solved. Now come back to bed.” The honey blonde whispered provocatively into Willow’s ear while running her hands along her love’s slender hips.

A mischievous grin broke out on Willow’s face as Tara’s body language put several very lurid ideas in her head.

“Yes Ma’am!” Willow said with enthusiasm. They sealed up their vault and quickly returned to bed. Quiet giggles and hushed whispers were all that could be heard until sleep finally claimed them some time later.

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

The next day Ms. Calendar asked Willow to meet her after school. Willow agreed, hoping it would be for something innocuous, but deep down she knew what the technopagan wanted. She knew they had put this off for too long and had to face the consequences.

So when the last class for the day was over Willow and Tara found each other and walked calmly to the school’s computer lab. They stepped inside and closed the door behind them. Jenny looked up with a smile at first but then noticed Willow was not alone.

“Willow, thank you for coming.” Jenny said as a confused look came over her face. “Is this the new friend Buffy seemed to be so tight lipped about?”

“H-hello Ms. Calendar.” Tara said with a genuine smile. “I’m Tara Maclay.”

“Lovely to meet you Tara.” Jenny said. “The others seemed to think it was odd that Willow hadn’t introduced us yet. So what brings you to Sunnydale?”

“Willow.” Tara said without hesitation. “She’s just about the only th-thing that could make me drag my mother and m-myself all the way across the country to live on the hellmouth.”

“So you know.” Jenny said with a serious tone. “And knowing that you still came for Willow?”

“How did Buffy put it?” Tara asked. “Love makes you do the Wacky.”

“Love?” Jenny asked turning to look at Willow who was now casually resting her head on Tara’s shoulder and wrapping her arms around the curvy girl’s waist.

“Yup.” Willow replied. “I’m so completely in love with this girl. Sorry for not telling you sooner Ms. Calendar but we had a few things to line up first.”

“Would those things have anything to do with your absences lately?” Jenny asked as she leaned back in her chair.

“Yes and no.” Willow replied. “You see the two of us have a very deep connection. The moment Tara found me we relearned memories from our past lives. I won’t bore you with the details of how the more complex magic works but you should know we now have a pretty good idea of all the threats coming for the Slayer in this world and the two of us are now incredibly powerful witches.”

“What?” Jenny asked. “Willow that’s not possible.”

“It’s more than possible Jenny.” Willow replied as she came to stand in front of the desk directly in front of Jenny. “With those memories and that power I wrote a comprehensive suite of computer software that I sold to David Nabbit for millions. We then set up our own company and took over certain properties in LA. We also took a group of homeless teens who were forced to fight off the vampires overtaking their neighborhood and set them up with weapons, training and housing. We also left them with a certain cursed vampire we all know.”

“Angel?” Jenny cried out in panic. “You sent Angel to LA? Why on earth would you keep this from me?”

“Because we couldn’t allow the loyalties of Janna of the Kalderash to stand in the way of the plans we have.” Willow answered with firm conviction. “Too many lives are at stake for the vengeance and hatred of one gypsy clan to be put first.”

“Angel will be watched by the people we told him to fight alongside and if his curse is ever broken we will recast it.” Tara promised.

Jenny was taken aback by the bold statements made by the two young women before her. How could they have learned of her actual identity? How could they claim to know how to cast a centuries old and long lost gypsy curse?

“You girl’s don’t know the forces you’re dealing with.” Jenny said.

“No Jenny, you don’t know what you’re dealing with.” Willow shot back. “Do you have any idea how bad things turned out because you kept the secret of breaking Angel’s curse from Buffy? Do you have the slightest clue how many lives he took after he made sure to destroy your research into casting the curse? Do you know how much it hurt Giles when he found your body after Angelus posed you just right? Oh you’d get a kick out of it. That worthless vampire lit candles and left a trail of flower petals leading Giles from the front door all the way to the bed.”

“Sweetie that’s enough.” Tara admonished, causing Willow to stop her angry babble.

“Sorry Baby.” Willow apologized before turning back to Jenny. “Listen Ms. Calendar, I really do like you as a teacher and as a friend. I didn’t want to put you in an awkward position with you clan. But I refuse to let Buffy destroy herself with guilt over freeing Angelus. I won’t let him go on another killing spree. Moving him to LA has saved countless lives. Including yours.”

“I don’t know what to say.” Jenny muttered. The very idea of all that Willow now claimed to know, if true, was terrifying. Add to that the fact the young redhead had pretty boldly described the exact details of Jenny’s death and the raven haired technopagan was at a complete loss.

“There’s nothing to say.” Willow replied. “I won’t stand in the way of what you decide to do next.” With that Willow and Tara went to the door and stepped out into the hall. Just before walking out Willow turned to Jenny with a sad smile.

“It’s been nice knowing you Ms. Calendar.” Willow said softly before turning and leaving the classroom.

Jenny watched the young woman who was her favorite student walk out the door as shock and confusion played across her face. What was she going to do? The clan would certainly order her to follow the vampire. How could she leave what was going on in Sunnydale? She realized she didn’t have a choice. With a heavy heart she picked up her phone and dialed the number she had long ago memorized.

“Hello, it’s Janna.” Jenny said. “Is Enyos there?” As she waited for the old man to be put on the line she sighed. She hoped Giles would understand.

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

The next day students filed into computer class. Schedules had been switched around to accommodate the new temporary computer teacher. As luck would have it one class was comprised almost entirely of Scoobies. Buffy, Xander, Tara, Faith and Cordelia were reassigned and looking around for the new teacher. Even Larry, Amy, and Jonathan were placed there as well.

To their surprise two other students were also present. Off to one side of the room two boys stood talking to each other. One tall and handsome with dark hair and a confused look on his face. The other short with red hair and the beginnings of a moustache. He was quiet as he looked around the room and studied the new setting.

“Devon! Oz!” Cordelia called as she came in. “What are you two doing in this class?”

“Schedule mix-up?” Oz asked as he let his friend and band mate take up the vapid girl’s attention.

“I don’t get what all the hush hush is about with this new teacher.” Buffy said as she walked in with Faith and sat down beside Tara and Xander. “What happened to Ms. Calendar?”

“Conflict of interests.” Called a familiar voice from the door. Everyone turned to see a familiar redhead standing there.

“Hey Wills, what’s going on with this new teach?” Xander asked as Tara let a wide smile spread across her face.

“That would be me.” Willow said with a mischievous grin. “Ms. Calendar had to move suddenly and since I’ve already designed and sold millions of dollars worth of computer software Snyder asked me to fill in until a replacement could be found.”

“Can he really do that?” Amy asked.

“Wouldn’t be the first time.” Tara said with a coy smirk.

“So welcome to the new computer class everyone.” Willow said after giving her love a heartwarming smile. “We’re gonna have a lot of fun.”

_________________
Time and Time Again


Last edited by Citanul on Sun Nov 30, 2014 1:54 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 8:44 am 
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9. Gay Now
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Dibs-y Goodness!

Yay for excellent update-y goodness... Big yay for Skankzilla headtrim... Extra big yay for return of Dawn... I hope the Kalderash clan stays clear of Angel and other Scoobies....

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 4:15 am 
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Yay! They got Dawny! One of the very very few things I liked about s6 was the surrogate mother/daughter relationship between Tara and Dawn, and when Willow had her head on straight, her also being Dawn's surrogate mother. (stupid s6, stupid joss. {grumble grumble})

cool new comp class. Now they can hopefully warn oz in time to avoid his cousin biting him.

I always thought Jonathan would have been more useful and less annoying than andrew in s7, and wouldn't have had the problems he had, in the first place, if he only had friends.
So maybe his being in this class might help him a little? I think back in the halloween chappy, you nailed the loneliness of his character at this point, when he was surprised he was invited to the party, and he thought about how he'd never been invited to a party before.

Can't wait until the next update!


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:39 am 
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Hello Zampsa. Yes the Glory/Dawn resolution was fun and having the kid running around this early opens up some fun scenarios. Sadly, as far as the Kalderash are concerned I don't think they can help themselves.

Hi Mysticrain. Yes their relationship with Dawn is one of the more powerful motivations Tara and Willow have that, it can be argued, doesn't involve what they have together.

I agree, season 6 was a kick in the balls. But having the ability to look at Joss' other work since then anyone can tell that season 6 is the way it is because season 5 ended the way it did. And season 5 only ended the way it did because the show was canceled on that network and Joss likes to go out in a blaze of fiery wreckage.

So really all of this is Warner Brothers and, by extension, TheCW's fault.

Willow being in charge of the computer class something like two and a half semesters early is also a neat twist. It probably won't last to the end of the school year though.

Speaking of Andrew and Jonathan I have to say one aspect of season 6 i don't see talked about much is how each member of the trio is a perfect stand in for a problem Buffy, and by extension all young women, face.

Warren is an almost perfect personification of sexism and misogyny. He was Buffy's inability to find a meaningful job.

Andrew represents the damage sycophantic enabling can do if it leads you astray. Her friends not really understanding how they should have helped her and looking the other way far too often in both her and Willow's case.

And Jonathan was the poster boy for depression and self doubt. Turmoils that led to the "hate fucking" relationship with Spike.

Honestly being mind swapped with Radagast the Brown should help him more than being in their computer class. One thing is for sure. I'm not having him climb the bell tower to try and kill himself with a hunting rifle that has a barrel longer than his arms. What the hell was he supposed to do? Pull the trigger with his toes? Shoot his own foot and wait? Honestly that one detail completely sidelined the whole anti suicide message of the episode for me.

But no Willow and Tara are going to help Jonathan. Andrew...?

Also I think what happens to Oz by the end of season 2 will surprise many readers.

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Time and Time Again


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:58 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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Time and Time Again.

Author: Citanul

Feedback: Be kind, rewind?

Spoilers: Just about all of them. Go watch the show.

Rating: NC-17

Pairings: W/T, B/F

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: Hello again. Okay so I might have glossed over it in previous marvels chapters but there is a noticeable age difference between Faith and the rest of the cast so far. Let's just say she may only be six months old but she can pass for nineteen. Jennifer/Buffy is a practicing lawyer. That means she went to law school and passed the New York State Bar exam. So she's in her late twenties at the earliest.

I mention this because they'll meet another "age challenged" couple and the frustrations of one of those characters will come out loud and clear. Just to be perfectly straight forward some stuff in this next chapter won't be my personal opinions but an approximation of my opinion of that characters most plausible opinions. The age of consent for New York is seventeen.

Lastly there are new faces added here. This is the last time I add so many faces for this storyline. Many will only show up sporadically. After this there is only one main recurring character left to add to Marvels. They're coming soon. Appendix and links at the bottom.

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

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

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

Marvels: Distance

Faith awoke to find Jennifer wrapped around her body in the most delightful way the brunette had ever experienced. The petite blonde was lying atop Faith with her head practically buried in the brunette’s ample chest. One toned leg nestled between two pale yet muscular thighs. Faith couldn’t help but wrap her arms around Jennifer. It broke her heart that today was the day she would be leaving.

Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters awaited her. Hidden on the far side of Westchester County. She still had to figure out a way to see her girl more often after the move. Faith doubted either team would let her use one of their fancy jets for booty calls.

Faith felt the form wrapped around her begin to shift slightly. The head dozing peacefully upon her breasts stirred. The leg between her thighs pressed into her in a way that took her breath away. A light snore turned into a satisfied little grunt that warmed the brunette’s heart.

She still couldn’t believe how great her life was compared to this time last week. Faith had friends, a life she could choose to do nearly anything with, and the love of a beautiful woman who asked for nothing more than what Faith had already freely given her. As beautiful hazel eyes slowly opened and began to sleepily trail their way up Faith’s chest to her face the brunette smiled widely at the woman holding her.

“Morning Babe.” Faith said.

“Please tell me today isn’t Monday.” Jennifer begged sleepily.

“Today isn’t Monday.” Faith intoned.

“I can’t believe you’re leaving me.” Jennifer whispered as tears began to form in the corners of her eyes.

“Hey Babe!” Faith said forcefully as she stared into hazel pools. “I ain’t never gonna leave you! I promise, okay? I didn’t come this far to lose you or walk out on ya.” She paused and looked up to the ceiling for a moment before returning her gaze to her love’s eyes. “But all our friends are saying this school thing is gonna be a good fit for me. If I could go to a regular school, maybe even take night classes or some shit, I would. I’d do anything to stay by your side.”

“Faith.” Jennifer whispered as she took in the brunette’s words and felt all the love and devotion behind each syllable. “I love you.” She swore just before she leaned up and captured Faith’s lips in a searing kiss that boldly affirmed love and defiantly staked out her claim.

Faith for her part couldn’t help but melt into the passionate embrace of lips and the sensual dual of tongues. She was leaving in a few hours and this time tomorrow she would be waking up alone. Luckily for her the love of her short life was very enthusiastically showing her why she should do everything in her power to stay in touch.

Jennifer smirked for an instant before deciding to take things further. Without hesitation she ground her thigh into Faith and found Faith’s thigh reciprocating on her center. She could already feel the slickness of her arousal building as their hips began to buck in a steady rhythm that drove both women wild.

Before she left Faith received the best possible incentive for coming back to the city as often as possible.

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

In a nearby room just down the hall, Carol woke to find a petite form sleeping peacefully atop her more pronounced curves. Wanda was using Carol’s breasts as pillows much the same way she had throughout their long relationship. The spritely redhead began to stir and once again green eyes met blue. Both smiled as they each poured all the love welling up in their hearts into the connection that ran so deeply in their very souls. Before Wanda could make a more amorous move on her blonde love Carol let a slight frown slip across her face.

“Baby?” Wanda asked, growing concerned. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing Sweetie.” Carol assured quickly. “Nothing is wrong with us. It’s just.” She paused before finishing with the statement that would perfectly crystallize the problem for her love. “Today’s Monday.”

“Oh.” The redhead whispered as realization of what that meant for their friends hit home.

“Exactly.” Carol agreed.

“Well we’ll just have to be extra supportive today before they leave and then even more thoughtful to Jen when she gets back.” Wanda said with the most adorable resolve face Carol had seen yet.

“Goddess, how do you manage to get me so turned on while talking about helping our friends through an emotional breakdown?” Carol asked.

“Magic.” Wanda said as she slithered up Carol’s body and placed a firm kiss on the blonde’s mouth. Without hesitation Carol flipped them so that Wanda was flat on her back and pressed firmly into the mattress as Carol ground a muscular thigh into slick red curls.

“Ooh Baby, yes.” Wanda moaned in delight.

Carol continued to work her slender love up to a point where her body would literally burst with pleasure. As they both made love the sun slowly rose over the city of New York. Though today would hold different kinds of obstacles for them and their friends they knew they would persevere. After all, they were part of the mightiest team of heroes on the planet.

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

Over the course of the last few days several teammates had left the tower to return to their own adventures and lives. Thor had returned to Switzerland so he could be closer to his girlfriend as she conducted groundbreaking research at CERN. T’Challa went back to Wakanda to tend to matters of state, but promised to visit his wife often at the school. White Hank and Janet went on a little vacation together. Janet said seeing all the couples forming helped reignite their spark. Rhodey had to report in for a classified briefing, and Natasha, Clint and Bobbi had to do pretty much the same thing only with the expectation of slightly more dead hydra agents at the end of their meeting.

That left Carol, Wanda, Steve, Tony, Pepper, Bruce, Pietro, Jessica and Sam in the garage level of the building giving Faith, Jennifer, Logan, Blue Hank and Ororo a heartfelt sendoff.

“Before you go Faith we have something for you.” Tony said as he pulled out a small package and handed it to the brunette.

“Sweet.” Faith said as she opened the box to reveal an Avengers ID card and a small cylinder with a translucent button at the top. “This mean I’m in the club now?” She asked with a slightly confused expression.

“Almost.” Steve said. “That’s a temporary card. You’ll get a permanent one when you graduate but until then this will give you access to any of our facilities.”

“The device is a more heavy duty signal beacon.” Tony added. “In case you’re ever in trouble just press it and any of us nearby will come running. Worst case scenario, it will call in one of my spare suits piloted by Jarvis.”

“Wow, for real?” Faith asked, slightly stunned that they had gone to so much trouble for her.

“If you turn out half as good as some of our other recent recruits you’ll more than earn it.” Sam said with a slight wink and a nod towards Wanda and Pietro.

Faith took the gifts and smiled at the people who had literally pulled her out of hell. “Thanks for everything you guys. I don’t know how or if I’ll ever be able to repay what ya’ll did for me.” She then turned to the two women who changed her enough that she could actually enjoy that newfound lease on life and smiled even wider. “Especially you two. Red, Blondie thank you so much. There aren’t even words for how far you both went to give me my life.”

Before the young brunette even knew what was going on Wanda and Carol both enveloped her in a warm hug. They failed to hold back the tears that had been building the entire time.

“Don’t ever worry about owing us anything Faith.” Wanda whispered in her ear. “We’re family.”

“So don’t be a stranger Sweetie.” Carol whispered in the other.

“I won’t.” Faith promised quietly.

“As much as I hate to break up this heartwarming moment, we have quite some distance to drive.” Hank said with a calm tone.

“Don’t worry guys.” Faith said as she pulled away from her friends. “I’m just heading up the road a bit, and we know lots of peeps who can get around without worrying about rush hour traffic.”

“Okay fine.” Pietro said as he rolled his eyes dramatically. “I’ll ferry you gals back and forth whenever I’m free.” The white haired man let out a grin as all the ladies around laughed lightly at his far from reluctant promise.

Before the goodbyes could be dragged out any further Faith, Jennifer and the three X-Men climbed into the van and began the drive to the school that lay just over fifty miles to the northeast. The Avengers waved with smiles and more than a few tears at the fact the young woman they had all grown fond of was leaving so soon.

“Well that was fairly agonizing.” Tony said with a sigh. Before anyone could respond Pepper slapped him on the arm. “Oww, no I mean I’m gonna miss her too.”

With a few light grins they all began to head back upstairs to their headquarters and lives. The last to leave the garage were Carol and Wanda. The couple shared a long look as they held each other.

“She’ll be back before we even know it.” Wanda whispered.

“Goddess I hope so.” Carol said.

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

Just over an hour later the van pulled up to a long brick wall with an intricately designed iron gate. A beep was heard as the gate mechanism opened and Logan drove the van onto the school grounds. Faith and Jennifer marveled at the heavily wooded property that opened up to reveal large fields with a truly massive, older looking gothic mansion awaiting them at the end of the drive.

“Nice digs.” Faith said after a long whistle. “This place come with the spice channel or does that get charged to the room?”

“Faith!” Jennifer cried in shock as Logan let out a deep laugh.

“Relax Babe, I’m just teasin’.” Faith said soothingly as she caressed the blonde’s cheek. “You know you’re all the woman I could ever handle.”

“Are we certain Ms. Maximoff and Ms. Danvers didn’t give her too much of your sense of humor when they cast that spell Logan?” Ororo asked in her restrained yet elegant tone.

“Nah, the kid just takes after her old man.” Logan said with a chuckle. “Right Kiddo?”

“Sure thing Pops.” Faith replied as she put an arm around Jennifer and held her girl close.

They continued up the driveway until they pulled up to the front doors. Logan killed the engine and turned to the two girls in the middle seat. With a grin he addressed the passengers.

“Well this is it. You wanna give Hank a yell?” Logan asked.

Faith smiled wickedly before turning her head to look at the sleeping mound of blue shag in the back seat. “Yo Shakespeare! We’re here.” She shouted.

With a start the sleeping man in the back of the van leapt up, tried to grasp at the vehicle’s ceiling, and promptly fell back to the seat he had stretched out on.

“I’m up, I’m up.” Hank said with a frantic tone before her recalled his whereabouts. “That’s not funny Logan.” He huffed.

“You’re right. I should have made her rattle a leash.” Logan replied while laughing.

“No leashes!” Faith said in a serious tone that caught everyone off guard for a moment. “Sorry, don’t know where that came from.”

“Let’s head inside and meet the people you’re gonna be living with Honey.” Jennifer said with a worried smile.

“Yes, that is a good idea.” Ororo agreed.

The group piled out of the van and began to unload the few bags Faith had brought to the school. Logan and Hank decided to carry the girl’s bags for her and that left Faith free to walk into the school’s main entrance hand in hand with her girl.

Ororo walked along calmly at Faith’s other side and began telling the young brunette all about how kind the Professor was, and how much he looked out for each and every one of his students. As they entered the grand hall Faith was beginning to grow suspicious of just how involved this guy was gonna try to be in her case. She honestly didn’t want anymore people up in her business than the handful of women who were already among her closest friends.

“Greetings my friends!” Came a loud voice with a thick Russian accent. “What is this I am hearing about us having new student?” Asked a tall man with short black hair and a body composed almost entirely of rippling muscles. He stood at the base of a large staircase and smiled at the group.

“Ah Piotr, so good to see you.” Ororo said with a smile. “Please tell the others we have a new student and a guest to show around the school grounds. I expect the Professor is already waiting for us.”

“Da, da, he is in study. I go gather our friends.” Piotr said with a smile as her bowed then walked up the stairs.

“There’s a red menace joke in here somewhere but I’m not sure where.” Faith said causing Jennifer to let out a small laugh before quickly covering her mouth. “Seriously though, what’s the exchange rate like? How many skinny white kids from the midwest equaled one of him?”

“Piotr came to us after saving his sister from a runaway tractor and being nearly run out of town when his transformation terrified his neighbors.” Hank answered quietly. “He really is nice once you get to know him.”

“I don’t know.” Faith said slowly as a wicked smile crept across her face. “I think I prefer my walking mountains to have a more green tone.”

“Honey!” Jennifer said in a hushed tone before the smile on Faith’s face was met with a matching one on hers.

“He’s probably one of the easier ones to handle round here.” Logan added.

“Fair ‘nuff.” Faith relented.

The group made their way towards a large study just off the main hall. Ororo knocked once and a voice responded almost immediately.

“Yes, do come in everyone.” The man inside said as Ororo opened the door and the five heroes entered. The room before them was large enough for over a dozen people to meet and converse in comfort. Bookshelves covered the side walls and the wall around the door. A large desk sat at the far side of the room where massive bay windows allowed light to flood the space for most of the day. A large mechanical arm on a rail near the ceiling moved over the shelves as it extracted a single book and deposited it on the main desk.

Behind that desk sat a man with no hair whatsoever. He looked up and smiled warmly at the group. “Ah, it’s so good to have you all back. Please sit wherever you like.” Professor Xavier said as he rolled his wheelchair out from behind the desk and went to meet them halfway across the room.

“We missed you as well Professor.” Ororo said as she bent down to hug her mentor. “T’Challa sends his regards.”

“How nice of him.” The Professor replied. “So, I believe there is a harrowing tale of your adventures with the Avengers and a young woman I should be introduced to.” He said as he turned from Ororo and looked directly at Faith with another smile.

“Oh have we got a story for you Chuck.” Logan smirked.

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

As Piotr went around the mansion informing others that several of their core teammates had returned with guests he was ambushed by a petite brunette who leapt from the ceiling and into his arms. She managed to kiss him once before he pulled away and a terrified look came over his face.

“Kitty!” He pleaded. “I can’t be with the making of the smoochies.” He said with noticeable panic seeping through his heavy accent.

“Come on Peter.” Kitty Pride said with an exasperated sigh. “We’ve waited so long already. Why can’t I have a little fun while no one is looking?”

“I am getting very stern lecture from our friends about New York age of consent and corruption of minor.” Piotr replied. “I am, how you say, being very bad man.”

“Pete Baby, you’re the best man I’ve ever met.” Kitty said with a smile. “I don’t need to wait the year till I’m old enough in this state to know that you’re the one I’m spending my life with. You’re it for me.”

“I am.” He paused for a long moment to consider his next words carefully as he held the girl whose arms were wrapped tightly round his neck and ankles locked firmly behind his lower back. “Very happy, in my heart, to hear these words.”

Kitty smiled and lunged in to kiss him. The move caught the big Russian off guard as the tiny girl stuck her tongue down his throat. For a moment he wanted nothing more than to carry the brunette back to his or her room and go along with whatever she wanted.

But he couldn’t. Kurt had been talking to him about the special hell reserved for weak willed men in his position. Bobby continued to taunt him about “the slammer.” Rogue and Gambit would just continue to laugh whenever they saw Kitty and he together. Even Kitty’s tiny purple dragon friend Lockheed kept giving the big Russian dirty looks.

No there was nothing Piotr could do for now. With a heavy heart the big man put his hands around the petite girl’s waist and pulled her off of his chest. He held her up to his eye level and looked directly into her pouting lips as he tried one last time to beg her for patience.

“I am sorry my ljubímyj.” He said before putting her on the floor and turning to walk down the hall.

Kitty seethed. It just wasn’t fair. They could be killed by bigoted peasants wielding pitchforks and torches any day and yet all of their “friends” had convinced the man she loved that the one thing she wanted more than anything else was a crime. What was so special about waiting that year anyway? As far as she was concerned it was an arbitrary number picked at random by a bunch of old men in the state capital. Men who couldn’t even be trusted around interns barely a third their age.

“Careful ma chère.” A lean man in a long brown duster coat said as he came to stand beside her seemingly from out of nowhere. “Ol’ Gambit, he be thinking you may want to look before you go leaping off any bridges you come to cross.”

“Damn it Remy!” Kitty just about shouted. “I’m not in the mood for you and your folksy Cajun third person gibberish! Why can’t you people just trust that I know what I want and stay out of my business?” She demanded before she turned and stormed off.

“What Gambit say?” The man with red eyes and wavy brown hair asked himself in his thick Cajun accent.

“You just have a way with the ladies don’tcha Cajun?” Came a sultry voice with a southern accent from one of the nearby doorways. Remy turned and saw the woman he himself had no luck with since joining the team.

“Rogue, ma chère!” Remy called to the brunette with a thick shock of white hair wearing a skin tight suit. “What you say you come along with Ol’ Gambit for a nice stroll? Maybe we stay out late and watch de stars? Maybe we watch each other a little, no?”

“Nice try Cajun.” Rogue said with a sad forlorn look. “But you know I’m a hands off kinda girl.”

“Can’t blame a t’ief for trying.” Remy said with a wide and deceptively charming smile.

“Come on Sugar.” Rogue told the man she didn’t want to keep rejecting but knew she didn’t have a choice. “Logan and the others brought in some new student the professor wants everyone to meet.”

“But of course ma chère.” Remy replied with a flourish as he bowed to the southern girl. “Lead the way.”

With a sad smile Rogue put a gloved hand on his arm and led the scoundrel she couldn’t get enough of towards the main living room of the mansion. She had no idea how much of her past would come back to haunt her in the next few hours.

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

“Fascinating.” Charles Xavier said as Logan, Ororo and Hank finished the story of how Magneto’s daughter and Rogue’s victim had led them straight to the brunette girl before him. “And you are certain they used actual magic and not some advanced technology or a hard to classify power stemming from a personal mutation?”

“Magic is real Professor.” Ororo said in an exasperated voice. She didn’t know how many times she would have to say this for it to sink in.

“Yes, you keep telling me that.” Xavier admitted reluctantly.

“Wait.” Jennifer said, causing all the heads in the room to turn in her direction. “Do you mean one of the most powerful mind readers on the planet, a man who knows for a fact humans are capable of unbelievable thing, is skeptical about magic? Haven’t you met Dr. Strange a whole bunch of times?”

“Yes, well, be that as it may I’m always open to both new possibilities and reasonable explanations for the inexplicable.” The Professor replied. As he looked at the petite blonde a curious expression crossed his face. “Ms. Walters may I ask why you have decided to follow Faith all the way to this school?”

“Figured now was as good a time as any to let my girlfriend scope out the place where I’m gonna be spending all this time away from her.” Faith replied with a casual tone as she put a very possessive arm around Jennifer.

“Girlfriend?” The Professor asked with a shocked gasp. “After only a few days?”

“Didn’t even take me an hour after they brought me back to New York to get her to fall for me.” Faith bragged while casually stroking Jennifer’s arm as the blonde blushed under the mind reader’s incredulous scrutiny.

“And you’re okay with this Logan?” He asked still shocked.

“You think I had a say in this Chuck?” Logan asked with a smirk. “Besides, Jennifer is smart, strong and more loyal than just about anyone in our circles. If Faith had even asked for my advice I’d have told her to pick Jen over every student we got in this school.”

“Yo Professor.” Faith called. “It ain’t like I’m asking for conjugal visits in the classrooms or nothing. I just want my girl to be able to visit when I can’t make it back to the city to see her.”

Professor Xavier sent a quick telepathic question to both Hank and Ororo. To his surprise both of his most trusted and levelheaded students sent back nothing but a glowing endorsement of the somewhat unconventional relationship. The Professor soon realized that as odd as it seemed to let this grown woman date a seemingly young student the matter was already settled. A small, happy thought struck him. Maybe having the famous She-Hulk hanging around the school would turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

“Alright then.” Charles relented. “Faith, welcome to our school. Ms. Walters, though I don’t normally allow adults to roam the grounds and date our students, the fact you are a well known name in the costumed community and already have the approval of the girl’s father and select faculty members leads me to extend an open invitation to you whenever you wish to visit.”

“Thank you Professor.” Jennifer said. “I thought about this on the drive up here and if you have any legal issues or any of the students needs help with the emancipated minor process I would be happy to offer my legal services pro bono.”

A smile spread across the Professor’s face. “Now that you mention it there are a number of issues I have been meaning to have a practicing attorney look into.”

As the group continued to chat about the school and Faith’s academic prospects Jennifer felt a sense of tremendous relief. She was going to be able to see her girl. Maybe not as often as she would want, but more often than just every time Faith could sneak back to the city on long weekends.

The life she had to look forward to until Faith graduated was starting to brighten up again.

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

While Faith and Jennifer were wrapping up their meeting with the school’s headmaster Wanda and Carol were enjoying their day together in the main living room at the top of Stark Tower. Wanda was busy on her laptop finishing a program that she knew would come in handy all too soon. Carol was catching up on some reading while absentmindedly stroking the locks of long crimson hair she adored.

As Carol was starting to think about interrupting Wanda’s typing to see if she wanted to eat a loud noise came for just outside the room. A motorcycle with retractable jet thrusters was coming in for a landing on the large balcony just outside the living room.

The girls watched through the large glass wall as the flying jet bike set down and the tall man riding it swung one leg over the back of the machine. He was dressed in black and stood facing away from them as he removed his helmet. The sun shone on his hairless ebony head. As he turned to face the building the infamous eye patch was revealed. Nick Fury had come a calling.

Carol and Wanda gulped as the spymaster general himself slowly strode towards them. He stepped through the open glass doorway and turned to smile at them.

“Hello ladies.” Fury said with just enough false kindness to be almost convincing. “Ms. Danvers, it’s good to see you back in the field again. Ms. Maximoff, it’s very surprising seeing you on this side of that field.”

“Well you know what they say.” Wanda replied with a halfhearted smile. “Love makes you do the wacky.”

“Don’t know if I’ve heard that one before.” Fury commented. “So would now be a good time to meet the team’s new tech expert Cap was so happy about? I’d really like to get that enemy intel before it gets any colder.”

“Oh!” Wanda said as her eyes widened. “Sure, yeah, no problem.” She quickly walked out of the room and left the spy with her love.

“So who did she or her brother fall in love with that made the rest of the team overlook their criminal records?” Fury asked.

“That’s my girlfriend you’re talking about General.” Carol said in a cold tone, causing the man’s eye to widen suddenly. “We all have a past. She and Pietro are part of the team now because they want better futures. I don’t expect you to understand but you will leave them alone.”

Nick Fury took a moment to consider his response before replying. He really didn’t want to get in a fight with someone strong enough to toss tanks and quinjets into space.

“So long as they behave themselves that’ll be fine.” He said finally. “At least their old gang will be easier to handle now that two of their heavy hitters are gone.” They settled into an uneasy silence for a few moments until the redhead returned.

“Here you go General.” Wanda said with a smile as she handed him a portable drive. “I checked and there weren’t any viruses or nazi ghosts hiding in the ones and zeros. Just about all the hydra data is intact but I deleted and scrubbed the data on Weapon X.”

“I don’t understand.” Fury remarked with a confused look. “Does this mean you’re the team’s new tech expert?”

“Uh huh.” Wanda answered with a slight smile.

“Our files on you say you don’t know the first thing about computers, let alone how to program or parse this much data.” Fury stated in shock.

“Oh that was the old me.” Wanda said dismissively. “New me is a whizz.”

“If ever a whizz there was.” Carol added with a giggle.

“Why the Weapon X data?” Fury asked as he felt the conversation slipping away.

“Because those are my friends.” Wanda answered with her most intimidating resolve face. “They are good people just trying to get past the horrors inflicted on them and no one is going to use them or their DNA to make a super soldier army to destroy the world. I don’t care how good your intentions are for that data. You are not going to resurrect the Weapon X project.”

“Our enemies aren’t going to be so kind as to forget about that project.” Fury retorted.

“With the data on that drive you can cripple Hydra.” Wanda said calmly. “Before we went in we sent out a signal on their frequencies to mask the attack and loss of their leaders at the base. They should be sitting ducks right now. As for any other enemies that may try to clone my friends, I’m working on a solution right now.”

“Alright then.” Fury said after giving the redhead a measured look. “I can see how you bullied Cap, Stark, and the alien into letting you on the team. Romanoff, Barton and Morse are a surprise though, but I bet Danvers helped “convince” them. If this doesn’t pan out I’ll be in touch.” He said, waving the drive around before he turned and strode back to his hover cycle.

Wanda and Carol watched the spy take off into the sky before they relaxed into each other’s embrace. Neither of them wanted to pick a fight with the entirety of whatever new incarnation of S.H.I.E.L.D. Fury was running now but they couldn’t give him the data on mass producing clones of Faith. They cared about her far too much for that and even though they had a rough start with Logan they didn’t want him to suffer anymore either.

“You think he’ll come after us or Faith Baby?” Wanda asked after resting her head on Carol’s shoulder.

“Goddess I hope not.” The blonde replied. “I all but threatened him about leaving you alone. No matter what happens we’ll be together Sweetie.”

“I love you baby.” Wanda whispered as they stood in the large room, holding onto each other with a mix of desperate need and calm reassurance.

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

Piotr was nearly finished rounding up the few students who boarded at the school year round. The last student he had to tell was most likely in his room. As the big Russian knocked on the door he heard a commotion inside.

What sounded, unmistakably, like several dozen pairs of feet moving around suddenly quieted down. A moment later the door opened to reveal a slightly disheveled, lanky teen with dark brown hair.

“Hey Pete! What up?” The teen greeted Piotr who looked over the boy’s shoulder at a mirror image of the same boy sitting at a computer playing a game Piotr had tried out but found thoroughly confusing.

“Greetings Jamie. Everyone is on way to meeting of new student.” Piotr said cheerily. “I am hearing good things about them.”

“A new kid in town.” Jamie Madrox said with a grin. “This should be fun.” Before stepping out into the hall to join Piotr Jamie turned back to the copy of him still at the far side of the room. “Hey doofus! Pause it and get back in here. We got new faces to meet and figure out how to mess with.”

“Can’t you handle this? I’m so close to this next loot drop I can feel it.” The other Jamie moaned while deliberately not looking at his counterpart.

“Not a chance.” The Jamie by the door replied. “You know what happened the last time I let one of you dupes run around too long. Besides you’ve been at that grind fest for twelve hours now. You’re gonna start crapping out on it any minute.”

“Fine.” The other Jamie said with an exasperated sigh. He got up and trudged over to “Proper” Jamie. As soon as they touched there was a popping sound and the dupe dissolved into the teen that was seemingly the main one.

“Come, my friend.” Piotr said after Jamie shook his shoulders slightly at having reabsorbed his copy. “We have new friend to meet and stories to hear.”

“Sure thing big guy.” Jamie said as he stepped into the hall and closed his door. Today just might turn out interesting after all.

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

“So what do you think of Clarice?” A slightly muscular blond boy asked his friend as they walked through the school’s outer grounds.

“She’s great but I don’t think she even sees any of the guys here as more than friends.” The thinner boy with light brown hair replied. “Sooraya?” He asked in return.

“Pretty eyes, but I doubt she has even looked at either of us since she came here. I don’t think she likes guys perving on her.” The blond said with a forlorn sigh. “And we know Kitty is a lost cause.”

“Well at least none of them are looking at Jamie.” The brunette remarked.

“Thank god for small blessings, right Bobby?” The blond asked.

“You said it Alex.” Bobby Drake replied. “Maybe some new girls will transfer in when the school year starts.”

Suddenly they heard a blinking sound as a large portal rimed with pink light opened up directly behind them. A tall girl with delicate features and bright pink skin stepped out and looked directly at the two boys. She threw her long dark pink hair over one shoulder revealing pointed ears and a scattering of magenta facial markings. Her pupiless green eyes conveyed more joy than either one of the boys thought possible.

“Guys!” She called out cheerfully. “You’ll never believe it. Logan, Ororo and Hank came back and they brought a new student with them. Sooraya and I were talking with Alisa when Piotr came up and asked me to help gather everyone.”

“Clarice when are you girls going to stop with this whole imaginary roommate thing you got going on?” Bobby asked with a smirk.

“If you would stop being such jerks about it then maybe Alisa would show herself to you dimwits.” Clarice shot back. “Now are you coming with me or walking back the long way?”

“We’re definitely coming with you.” Bobby answered. “Right Alex?”

“Right.” Alex Summers answered. “So you guys think this new student is gonna turn out interesting or what?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Clarice said as she raised her hands and enveloped all of them in a spatial displacement composed of pink light. With another blinking sound the light faded and the wooded walking path was left vacant.

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

“Well, I’d say now is as good a time as any to meet the rest of the team.” Xavier said with a hopeful smile.

“Sure thing Proff.” Faith replied with a grin as the Professor cringed at the overt familiarity of the nickname.

“I believe enough time has passed for Piotr to inform everyone.” Ororo said. “Shall we?”

At a leisurely pace the group exited the Professor’s office and made their way back to the large common room just off the grand hall they had passed on the way to the office. As Faith, Jennifer and the X-Men followed the Professor in his mechanized chair they all turned the corner into the large room.

“Everyone I’d like you to meet our newest student and teammate.” The Professor called out in a cheery voice. “Say hello to Faith.”

Faith and Jennifer were shocked by the diverse appearance of the group. In the room was the large Russian they had met as well as a small blue man with solid yellow eyes and a distinctly demonic looking tail perched on the far wall beside the big man. A petite young woman in her teens with light brown hair was standing at Piotr’s side in a definitively territorial manner. A tiny purple dragon was curled up in a fruit bowl on a small table beside the trio.

Just a short distance from them was a tall pink girl with solid green eyes. She was chatting with another girl covered in a long flowing black abaya with a matching niqāb covering all of her face and head except for her brown eyes and the bridge of her nose. Both girls seemed to turn to an unseen third person they had been conversing with before quickly looking up to see the new arrivals.

Along another wall a wiry man with red eyes, wavy brunette hair and a long brown duster coat was practically hanging off a woman in a skin tight green and yellow suit with a leather bomber jacket and a wide white streak running through her long brown hair. Jennifer’s eyes widened before narrowing slightly as she recognized the woman immediately. Both were talking to a tall Native American man with slightly graying dark hair and a mechanical leg and hand on his right side.

In the middle of the room a boy with light brown hair and a boy with blonde hair were in the middle of a hushed debate with a trio of identical lanky boys with dark brunette hair.

As the Professor called out to his students and faculty everyone grew silent for a moment. The silence was broken by Faith who stepped forward with a smile.

“Sup y’all.” She said with an amused grin.

“Awesome.” Bobby said with a dopey smile. “What are your powers like? And can we give you a codename?”

“Chill dude, I already got one.” Faith replied. “X-23.”

“That’s a new one.” Jamie said as the two copies of him merged back into the original.

“May we ask how you came upon that name?” The girl covered completely in black fabric asked tentatively.

“Sure girl.” Faith replied happily. “I’m the twenty third time Hydra tried to clone my Pops.”

“Who’s your dad and why would they want clones of him running around.” Kitty asked as she stepped away from the wall Piotr and Kurt rested on.

With a smirk Faith brought up both fists to show the room the backs of her hands. They all grew silent as she slowly extended both claws from either fist. “I think you guys know him. I’ve been told he’s the best there is at what he does.”

“Gott im Himmel!” Kurt called out in surprise.

“Easy there kid.” Logan said with a smile. “I think they get the picture.”

“You’re Logan’s daughter?” At least half a dozen voices cried out in shock at once. Jamie started to laugh as he nudged Alex’s arm. Alex just stood there staring in open mouthed shock. Several of the adults in the room looked back and forth between Faith and Logan as the girl retracted her claws.

“Yeah something about apples and trees.” Faith replied causally.

“Logan how did you get her out of a hydra base?” The man with the robotic leg and hand asked with wonder in his voice.

“Did they not hear that you’re the best there is at what you do?” Faith asked Logan with a smirk.

“We had the help of the entire Avengers team Forge.” Ororo answered him calmly. “With their newest members and the woman who just returned to active duty they found Faith’s exact location and we all took part in capturing their leader and turning the base into a smoldering crater.”

“They stomped in, magicked out most of my Hydra assassin brainwashing, and brought me back to their tower.” Faith said as if it was all too easy. “I even got an honorary member decoder ring before the drive up here.”

“Really?” Bobby asked, trying to reign in the urge to ask if he could see it.

“Nope, no ring.” Faith smirked. “But everything else happened.”

“Who’re the new Avengers that made all this happen?” Rogue asked in mild surprise.

“Oh you guys know them too.” Faith said. “Some of you more intimately than others. Pops? You, Hank or Ororo want to fill them in?”

“I’d be delighted.” Hank replied as he stepped up. “Apparently Ms. Marvel returned from her extended medical leave while the three of us were in Wakanda aiding T’Challa.” At the mention of the woman’s name Rogue gasped and put a hand over her mouth. “While she was just stepping in the building Magneto attacked the city with some strange device. She got there before the other Avengers and as soon as she and Scarlet Witch met they both changed.”

“Scarlet Witch did something to Ms. Marvel?” Clarice asked in confusion.

“Oh yeah, she did something to her alright.” Faith smirked. “And then she kept doing it for the better part of a week. Then Blondie probably took over and did a whole bunch of things right back.”

“I don’t get it.” Rogue said.

“Scarlet Witch and Ms. Marvel are soulmates.” Ororo stated simply. “They are apparently bonded by powerful magics that brought back memories of their many past lives the moment they met each other. Both also appear to have gained a significant amount of magical power and skills they didn’t possess before.”

“Yeah, Red and Blondie got the whole big forever love thing goin’ on.” Faith chuckled. “Made the whole “me getting my life back from Snake Bitch” thing so much easier.”

“Snake Bitch?” Kitty asked in surprise.

“Madame Hydra, also known as Viper, was the head of Hydra and directly in control of the base we rescued Faith from.” Ororo answered.

“I damn near sliced her arm off after Hawkeye stuck one of his frag grenades to her sword.” Logan said with a happy smile.

“Thanks for that Pops.” Faith added. “A part of me had been wanting to do that for months.”

“No problem Kid.” Logan assured his daughter.

“So they cloned Logan as a young woman for some unfathomable reason and then Magneto’s daughter helped the Avengers steal her.” Forge assessed the story. “And now you three have brought her here to be trained in how to interact with the normal parts of the world that her programming wouldn’t handle well?”

“Red and Blondie took out all the programming that wasn’t useful, like reading and shit.” Faith said. “They kept saying I should go here at least until I get a G.E.D.”

“Quicksilver was there too.” Hank added.

“Both of Magneto’s children have joined the Avengers.” Ororo said, drawing more shocked looks. “It would seem that Spider-Woman has already claimed Pietro as hers.”

“Mon ami, are we sure ere’ t’ing they be sayin’ is on de up and up?” Remy asked.

“This isn’t a trap Magneto is using to destroy the Avengers is it?” Clarice asked in a slightly panicked tone.

“Hey whoa! Ease up on the paranoia train!” Faith demanded. “Those are my friends you’re talking about. They pulled me out of a hell y’all can’t even imagine. I wasn’t even a person before they worked their mojo. No matter the beef y’all got with magnet boy, I owe Red, Blondie and even Q-tip my life.”

“Sugar, you don’t know them like we do.” Rogue said.

“And it’s gonna take a lot more than the word of the chick that put Blondie in a coma for six months to turn me against them.” Faith said coldly, causing Rogue to step back and lament her past once again. Jennifer couldn’t help but smile as her girl stood up for their friends.

“From what we observed Wanda and Pietro have completely switched sides and dedicated themselves to working for the Avengers.” Ororo added. “Though it may be impossible to determine their long term goals right now, they have behaved in ways that have benefited virtually all of the Avengers.”

“I for one am inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.” The Professor said, calmly drawing the issue to a close. “They are being watched by Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and at least a half dozen senior S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Any dark intent they might be hiding will be revealed in time. It is my sincere hope they have come to see the folly of their father’s ambitions. It wouldn’t be the first time a gifted person has seen the light.”

As he said this several of the X-Men grew introspective. They had each been tempted to use their powers for less than noble purposes in the past. Some had even been henchmen to villains just as bad as Magneto.

“So wait.” Bobby said after a moment passed. “Faith, if you’re a clone of Logan does that mean this other woman isn’t your mom?”

“What?” Jennifer cried in shock. “I am not her mother! Oh god it’s my hair isn’t it. I have mom hair.”

“Relax Babe.” Faith said as she pulled the petite blonde into her arms. “You’re hair is beautiful.” The brunette said as she drew the woman she loved into a sensual kiss.

Around the room just about everyone who hadn’t seen the displays of affection on the car ride upstate had matching looks of bewilderment and surprise on their faces. To say they were shocked was an understatement.

“Okay so to recap the new girl is gay, taken and Logan’s daughter.” Bobby said as he counted off Faith’s main qualities on his fingers. “Guys I think we hit the trifecta.” He smirked.

Jamie burst out with more laughter. “No, Alex, man.” He wheezed between guffaws. “You totally have a shot. Go ask if she’s into long walks on the beach.”

“Shut up Jamie.” Alex groaned out as he hung his head and rubbed the bridge of his nose. Jamie only continued to laugh and nudge Alex incessantly.

“Is this a more common practice in the states than I thought?” The girl in the abaya asked her pink friend.

“No Sooraya, it isn’t all that common for same sex couples to have such an age gap.” Clarice replied quietly. “Even less common for the dad of the younger one to be so blasé about it.”

“Okay seriously?” Kitty cried out in outrage as the kiss wore on. “None of you have a problem with them doing that but you each took turns butting into my personal life? What the hell?”

“Well you see, there were very persuasive arguments before over some very tasty pancakes.” Hank said weakly.

“Seriously Sugar, do we need to get you some books on parenting or something?” Rogue asked Logan with a smirk.

“Right!” Jamie cried out. “Like the best seller ‘How to Raise my Gender Flipped Teenaged Clone.’ We should check if Amazon has an e-reader copy.” He said with a laugh.

“Faith and I already had the talk.” Logan said, causing everyone one to look at him incredulously. “So long as she doesn’t get knocked up till after graduation it’s all fine.”

“Oh my god, that is so unfair.” Kitty remarked to herself.

Sensing the crowd was growing restless Faith pulled out of the kiss, eliciting a soft moan from Jennifer. She then turned to look at the new classmates and teachers she’d have to get along with for the foreseeable future and decided to give them the simplest justification.

“Guy’s this is my girlfriend Jennifer.” Faith began. “It may look like there’s this big age difference but I ain’t giving her up.”

“How much of an age difference are we talking about?” Kurt asked in a placid tone with his light German accent.

“Faith claims to be only six months old.” Hank said drawing even more shocked gasps from the room.

“Six months?” Clarice cried out. “How? Why? How?”

“We been over that.” Faith said as she calmly put an arm around Jennifer’s waist. “I’m a clone of Logan grown in a machine in a secret evil terrorist lab. I was aged to the point where my bones were more or less full size so that they could do the whole metal skeleton thing. Because of all that I don’t know if my max age is two years or two thousand. I ain’t gonna put off being with my girl while I wait to find out.”

“Two thousand?” Sooraya asked in confusion as several of the people present who had known Logan the longest realized what the implication meant.

“Pops, how old are you?” Faith asked her father. “One eighty? Two hundred and change? Something like that?”

“Pretty much.” Logan admitted. “I remember growing up in Canada, the gold rush and fighting alongside Cap in world war two. A lot of the in between is a blur though.”

“See, I might live forever and a day.” Faith said. “Or I got about six months left. Could be anything in between. I’m spending as much of that time as I can with my girl here until she can’t stand me no more.”

“Wait.” Kitty said with a confused expression. “If she’s only six months how is she carrying on this conversation? And how much of that Hydra programming is still hiding in there?”

“Red and Blondie did a big magic spell that set me straight.” Faith answered before pausing with a smile. “So to speak.”

Jamie laughed even louder at that. As almost everyone else turned to look at him questioningly. He reined in his mirth to light giggling and answered their incredulous looks.

“Get it?” He asked as he barely held back his laughter. “Set her straight. Cause she’s a lesbian.”

“Did he slip out and leave one of his more personality deprived doubles in his place?” Ororo asked as most of the adults in the room shook their heads at the terrible pun.

“Nah, I t’ink de boy just has a screw loose.” Remy said.

“Sorry.” Jamie said as he got himself under control. “This is just too good. I haven’t seen a show this funny in months.”

“So this spell.” Clarice said trying to pull the conversation back to reality. “What did it do exactly to fix you?”

“They replaced most of the Hydra programming with shadows of versions of me they met in their past lives.” Faith answered. “At least I think that’s it. The longer explanation was way over my head. I think it gave me all this instinct and general knowledge that other versions of me in other dimensions have learned but not specific memories from lives lived. I ain’t the sharpest knife in the back but at least I can manage better than “Fire bad, tree pretty!” She then turned to Logan and asked his opinion.

“Me do words good father?” Faith asked with a grunt.

“Well, daughter.” Logan grunted back. “Me do words well.”

“Logan, as the girl’s English and Science teacher I have to insist you stop encouraging the grunting cavewoman jokes.” Hank said with an exasperated sigh.

“Oh god.” Bobby said in awe. “Hank never gets that worked up. What did she do?”

“They were grunting back and forth at each other the entire ride up here until Hank finally went to sleep in the back seat.” Ororo said. “At least that’s what they did while Faith wasn’t kissing Jennifer.”

At the mildly humored tone in the African Queen’s voice Jennifer blushed, and Faith pulled her in closer. Several people around the room let out light laughter at that and the students began to walk up to Faith to introduce themselves personally.

Sooraya approached cautiously and Faith took her hand with a smile and greeted the fully covered girl.

“Khosh Amadid!” Faith said with cheer as she drew curious looks from several of those around her.

“Salam.” Sooraya replied happily.

“What was that?” Bobby asked. “Arabic?”

“No it wasn’t Arabic.” Ororo said with a slight frown at the boy.

“You speak Farsi?” Sooraya asked Faith.

“Apparently.” Faith answered. “Just kinda slipped out.”

“Say something else!” Clarice asked, excitedly.

Faith replied with a string of words almost no one there understood. When she finished they all turned to Sooraya who looked confused for a moment before elaborating.

“This is very odd.” The young Afghani teen said. “She is definitely speaking Farsi but for anything longer than a simple greeting she puts on a severe Boston accent that changes the dialect in a strange way. I did not know that was even possible.”

“Okay, more with the how.” Jennifer asked, growing slightly worried.

“Hydra programming?” Faith asked.

“Are you going to use that excuse every time you do something no one else understands?” Jennifer asked with a frown.

“Probably Babe.” Faith replied before letting a smirk cross her face. “It seems to be working so far.” The brunette then leaned in and lightly kissed her girl.

Across the room Kitty looked to her blue friend perched on the wall. With a frown she looked back and forth between the new couple and the devoutly religious man.

“You’ve been awfully quiet for a while now Kurt.” Kitty whispered. “You okay with them doing that in front of everyone?”

“Dear Kitty.” Kurt replied quietly with his usual German accent as his barbed tail swished back and forth. “True Love in all its forms iz a gift from almighty God himself. It iz to be cherished and nurtured. Praise it as one should praise all his miracles.”

“Wow.” Kitty said in surprise. “I didn’t expect that answer.”

“Did you think me one of those imbeciles waving a “God Hates this or that” sign at funeral processions?” Kurt asked with an amused grin. “Anyone who believes God has hate in his heart for any of his children iz ignorant of their entire faith. Whether that faith is mine, or yours, or Sooraya’s or any of the other fractured ideologies out there. Anyone to say otherwise has not read the tale of Ruth and Naomi, or the story of David and Jonathan.”

“That’s really beautiful.” Kitty remarked with a slight smile.

“Is bringing tear to my eye, friend Kurt.” Piotr added.

Kitty let out a smile as her friends greeted the two women. Her feelings were a mixture of jealousy and optimism. If her friends could accept the two women’s relationship then maybe they would finally accept her feelings for Piotr. For the first time in a long while Kitty had hope.

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

As Wanda was putting the finishing touches on her special program several of her teammates came into the living room of the Avengers penthouse. They all looked exhausted.

“Hey guys.” The redheaded witch called out before growing anxious. “Is everything okay?”

Natasha looked up to see the worried look on her new friend’s face. She suddenly felt very awkward about the things Fury had asked her, Clint and Bobbi to do now that he was at the helm of S.H.I.E.L.D. once more.

Of particular concern was the fact he had stuck them in debriefing chambers to report everything they knew about their new teammates to video cameras while he jetted off somewhere.

An hour later he returned and ordered them to keep tabs on everyone in the team who seemed to be siding with Carol and Wanda. He even said he was keeping them out of the next phase of the Hydra hunt so they could focus on lying to their friends. With a sigh Natasha made a decision she knew would bite her in the ass at some point down the road.

“Fury is scared shitless about you and Carol’s sudden change and he is sidelining us so we can spy on you guys for him.” Natasha said with a dull tone.

“Natasha!” Bobbi practically screamed. “What the hell? You just compromised everything.”

“I don’t care Bobbi.” The Russian countered. “I quit the agency when Hydra gutted it from the inside so I could focus on this team. I’m not about to let Fury pull his Monday morning quarterback crap on the people who could be the best additions we’ve made in a long while.”

“Oh Goddess.” Wanda whispered as she began to panic. “Guys I am so sorry. I never wanted to cause any of you problems or, or ruin your careers. What am I gonna do? I can’t put this team against S.H.I.E.L.D. I can’t fight a war that big this soon.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong Wanda!” Clint said as he strode up to her table. The man set his bow and quiver before the witch. “Cap said you were looking for weapon and armor solutions for futures on other worlds. Will these help?”

Wanda looked up at the man then back down at the weapons. “Yes.” She replied after a moment. “This is perfect Clint. I know she’ll love them as soon as I calibrate the draw weight for Slayer strength.”

The three spies in the room all looked at each other with worried expressions. Something had just slipped out that they needed to know about. With trepidation Natasha looked directly at the other redhead in the room examining the bow.

“Wanda, what is a slayer?” The spy asked.

“Oh Goddess.” Wanda whispered. “I don’t know if I should have kept that a secret or not.”

“Sweetie what’s going on out here?” Carol asked as she came out of the hall leading to the bedroom holding her book. “I can feel your emotions jumping all over the place.” She stopped as she looked up and saw the three spies hovering over her girl. “What happened? What did you do to her?”

“Fury told us to keep tabs on you both, so Clint gave her his bow and she let slip something about a slayer.” Natasha said calmly. “It sounded important.”

“Oh.” Carol remarked. “Thank the Goddess it isn’t anything too important.”

“Baby, how could it be less important?” Wanda asked in a pained voice.

“Sweetie there are no Slayer’s on this world.” Carol said in a soothing voice. “The closest thing they have is that guy. What was he again? The half breed? No the Daywalker! That’s it!”

“Okay well obviously he doesn’t count.” Wanda replied.

“No he doesn’t.” Carol said. “They have no frame of reference for the Slayer. So why don’t we just tell them and get it over with.”

“Guys what’s going on?” Steve said as he, Pietro, Sam and Jessica walked into the room.

“Fury wanted us to keep tabs on the girls and maybe Pietro.” Clint said. “I decided to follow your advice and give Wanda my weapons to study and she said someone known as the Slayer would love them.”

“Go ahead and blow the whole op to everyone why don’t you?” Bobbi muttered.

“I think we’re about to learn more than Fury ever bargained for.” Natasha said before turning to Carol. “So who or what is the slayer and what do they slay.”

“Slayer.” Clint remarked. “It sounded like it had a capital “S” when they said it.”

“It does.” Carol replied. “Okay everyone gather around. This is going to take a while.”

The Avengers present took seats on couches around the room as Carol came to sit beside Wanda and put her arms around the woman still clutching the bow. With a heavy pause the redhead took a deep breath. She began her tale.

“You have no idea how lucky this world is.” Wanda said slowly. “Imagine a world where the number of humans with powers like Logan or Ororo could be counted on one hand. Then imagine what it would be like if the physics there didn’t allow for heroes like Steve, Thor or even Tony to have the power they do. Now imagine that world is plagued with vampires and demons, but the monsters that feed on humanity keep to the shadows so well no one believes in them until they have a set of horrible fangs buried in their neck.”

“Sweetie.” Carol admonished soothingly.

“Sorry.” Wanda replied before getting to the point. “Once upon a time there was a young girl named Sineya.”

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

“So this is the danger room huh?” Faith remarked as they toured the underground sections of the facility. “What do ya think Babe? We could get a sweet workout in here.”

“Why would your lawyer girlfriend need to work out in here?” Alex asked.

Before any of the adults could answer Faith spun around and looked directly at the boy. She walked up to him with a smirk.

“Fifty bucks says my girlfriend can beat the big guy at arm wrestling.” Faith challenged.

“What?” Several students asked before laughing.

“No way.” Alex said. “Might as well hand your money over right now. No one is stronger than Colossus.”

“I am being made the wager of, yes?” Piotr asked with a frown.

“You totally are Baby.” Kitty answered.

“Faith is this really necessary?” Ororo asked plaintively.

“Deffinitely.” The brunette replied. “Hank can you magic us up a real sturdy table for them to go at it.”

“Oh, I’d be delighted.” The blue scientist replied as he started for the control room.

“I don’t know Faith.” Jennifer said. “I don’t want to embarrass the poor guy.”

“Sweet Cheeks, ain’t no way you’re gonna even budge the big guy’s arm.” Kitty said derisively.

“Okay it’s on now Kid.” Jennifer said with a cold glare.

“Logan, should we stop this?” Charles asked his friend.

“No way Chuck.” Logan said with a sinister chuckle. “The kids could do with a lesson in judging others by their looks and I want to see who wins.”

“Agreed.” The Professor said with a sigh.

Hank quickly moved to the overhanging control room and began pressing buttons. Within no time there was a large table with benches standing between Jennifer and Piotr. Both opponents stepped up to the benches and faced each other.

“Ol’ Gambit t’ink someone not know what they in for.” Remy said.

“You have no idea.” Ororo said as she slowly shook her head before resting it in her open palm.

“Go ahead and show her what she’s in for.” Bobby called to the big Russian.

“Is this wise?” Sooraya asked.

“No.” Clarice said.

“Just wait for it.” Jamie said with a grin. He had a hunch he recognized the blonde from somewhere but it was less than a rumor. This might turn out to be a fun show.

Colossus flexed his muscles and began to grow in size as every inch of his skin transformed into living metal. He looked down at the petite blonde and smiled meekly.

“Is no shame in turning back now.” He said quietly.

“Funny big guy.” Jennifer said as she pulled open the trench coat she had been wearing all day to reveal tight form fitting clothes that looked more like exercise wear than actual clothing. Her form began to shift and grow as she changed. Almost all of the X-Men stood by in open mouthed shock as her skin and hair turned green. She looked across the table to the big man she had grown to an even height with.

“I was about to say the same to you.” She-Hulk replied.

Colossus gulped as he recognized his opponent. Almost everyone else stood silent.

“Oh my god!” Jamie cackled with delight. “She’s dating the friggin She-Hulk!” He wheezed out as he laughed.

Both combatants took their seats and each others hands. With a whistle noise from the computer files Hank signaled the start. Neither arm moved a fraction of an inch as both of them flexed and strained their muscles. After a minute of almost perfectly even fighting Faith decided to mix things up.

“Hey Babe.” Faith said as she leaned in close to her love’s ear.

“Kinda busy here Honey.” She-Hulk replied through gritted teeth.

With a grin Faith whispered the dirtiest thing she could imagine in Jennifer’s ear. Emerald muscles bulged and strengthened. A fire ignited in the green giantess’s eyes and stomach.

Colossus only had time to wonder what the balloon Faith mentioned would be used for before he found the back of his hand slammed into the surface of the table. For a long moment the metal giant sat there looking down at his hand. Then a smile crept across his face.

“Da, da! Is good to be having worthy foe to spar.” He cheered. “We go to junk yard and crush dead cars into tiny balls yes?”

“Sure thing Piotr.” She-Hulk said. “Sounds like fun.”

With light laughter all around the high tech training room the X-Men joined in the happy atmosphere. As the mirth tapered off Jennifer turned to her smiling love.

“You are so going to pay for that Missy.” She-Hulk promised as she scooped up the brunette with her massive green arms.

“Five by five Babe.” Faith replied with a kiss.

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

“Oh god that’s horrible.” Bobbi said as the description of every Slayer’s fate drew to a close.

“But they’re just kids.” Sam said pleadingly.

“Most of them aren’t even fifteen when first called.” Carol added. “Far too many don’t last a week or two.”

“You survived helping one of these Slayers fight the good fight Sis?” Pietro asked in a stunned voice.

“Barely.” Wanda said. “You guys have no idea how many times I’ve watched good friends die horribly.”

Natasha was silent throughout the entire story. As Wanda grew quiet the Russian made a decision. She stood up and left the room without another word.

“Where’s she going?” Jessica asked.

“I have no idea.” Steve said. “What about my shield? Could that help?” He asked.

“Vibranium is just as rare as the various flavors of unobtainium that power Stark’s suits.” Wanda sighed in reply.

Before the silence that fell over the group could grow any more ominous Natasha stormed back into the room with several garments in her arms.

“Here, I don’t know what will help.” She said. “I have a few different types of body armor I wear. This one is a little on the bulky side but it still offers great flexibility. This one is a new version of Kevlar that is incredibly thin and flexible but has great stopping power. Please tell me something here will help.”

Wanda slowly took the different skin tight black suits in her hands. She rubbed the different fabrics and armors between her fingers for a long time before a smile spread across her face.

“Natasha you may have just given me the key to perfecting the armor designs we’ve been working on for centuries.” The redheaded witch said.

“Will it save lives?” Natasha asked.

“Millions.” Wanda answered with a grin.

Smiles spread around the room as the seemingly minor gifts paved the way for brighter futures in worlds only two members of the team would see. What had started out with a harrowing tale of one young girl after another being brutally murdered for all of human history soon became a hopeful gathering of friends. Friends who specialized in saving the world, even when it wasn’t exactly the world they knew.

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

Appendix:

Ljubímyj = Beloved : Russian

Khosh Amadid = Welcome/Greetings : Farsi

Pro Bono = In exchange for boners : Latin

One of these might not be accurate.

X-Men:

School staff / adults of varying ages:
Professor Charles Xavier: The Professor

Logan: Wolverine

Ororo Munroe: Storm

Hank McCoy: Beast

Piotr: Colossus
= Pete/Peter – The youngest of the “adults” at age 20.

Remy LeBeau: Gambit

Rogue

Kurt Wagner: Nightcrawler, no not Jake Gyllenhaal

Forge

Lockheed : Kitty’s tiny purple alien dragon pet/familiar/sidekick.

Students: All in their mid to late teens.
Kitty Pryde: Shadowcat, but I don’t even think anyone ever calls her that. – Just turned 16.

Bobby Drake: Iceman

Sooraya Qadir: Dust

Alisa Tager: Cipher

Clarice Ferguson: Blink

Alex Summers: Havok

Jamie Madrox: Multiple Man

Various others once school year starts, but they won’t have names or speaking rolls for the most part.

_________________
Time and Time Again


Last edited by Citanul on Fri Dec 12, 2014 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:33 am 
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Dibs-y Goodness!

Yay for great update-y goodness... I have a suspicion that the girls are going to have a ass kicking session with Fury in the future...

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 6:46 pm 
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Heya!

Sorry i haven't FB'd in a while, moving house, new job... bah!

But i have been reading :)

I have to say, i do not foresee an ass kicking session with Nick Fury. These girls brought down the Wolf, the Ram and the Hart, Glory and a few others. Gods, or close to them.

And depending on which world came first, they may still have the power of Violet/Pink/Purple to unleash.
That's not an ass kicking.
That's swatting a fly. With an ocean liner.

As to the 'why season 6 sux' idea, i was always under the impression that it was due to Joss running off to play with his shiny new toy: Firefly.
And leaving Buffy in the hands of lesser talents. But yeah, the guy has a positive fetish for killing of the most likable characters. Buffy, Angel, Doll House, Avengers and even arguably Cabin in the Woods.

And i always thought that Jonathan had more character potential than Andrew.
I always figured he climbed the clock tower to commit suicide by police-bullet.
I.e: take a few pot shots, get shot.

Anyway, i'm really enjoying the cross pollination of the timelines.
It makes it fun to guess what order they came in.

And i liked Willow trying to decide who should get credit for Glory. It was very Willow :)
And I am looking forward to the girls meddling with Buffy prime's love life.

Buffy discovering that the girls know who her soulmate is, and that it's a girl, should lead to some epic explosions.
Canon Buffy is quite bright, but seems to be mentally inflexible/really bad at dealing with change, especially in the social arena.

Willow and Tara are going to 'out' Buffy... to Buffy!
Or maybe Faith will.

I can't wait! :bounce

R :flower




Typo: 'harrowing tail' should be 'harrowing tale' unless we're using Kurt's tail to plow fields or something :)

Also: Slayer’s does not need an apostrophe. Unless we are describing something that belongs to the Slayer?

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 4:39 am 
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Hi Zampsa. Things may have gotten off on the wrong foot but remember, Fury isn't a bad guy. He is however the King of the Spies. As such he trusts next to no one.

In his book the biological children of ethnocentric super terrorists obsessed with privilege based on genetic superiority do not get the benefit of the doubt.

He may not be their best friend but he isn't stupid and he isn't going to act out against them without something serious going on giving him cause.

Hello Azirahael. Congratulations on the new house and job. Going forward we'll see that Fury falls into one category that god like demons simply don't fall into. As such the girls have drastically different responses they can use on him.

Also they don't get to keep things like the Star Sapphire rings. Super advanced alien tech so incredible it's indistinguishable from magic isn't something Willow can memorize and replicate in later lives as easily as her computer programs, electricity generating water wheels, various plants they spent time studying so they could call out to them through the earth later if they happen to evolve on multiple worlds, etc...

On a similar note Scarlet Witch and Ms. Marvel's power sets probably mean they could come very close to swatting actual flies with ocean liners. So...

Very good point's on Joss's work history and Jonathan's potential and plans. The cross pollination is only going to grow now that all three side stories are more or less set and ready to run off in various directions. For a while there it kinda felt like I was telling the same story four times during the long setup period.

Neurotic Willow is almost as much fun to write as erotic Willow. As to Buffy Prime's love life, that will be a slow buildup. You got it exactly right about her reactions. When it comes to the Slayer stuff she is just fine. It's the real life stuff that trips her up nearly every time. Just like it was in most of the show.

Needless to say when Buffy finally "gets it" it'll hit her like a brick wall.

PS. Thanks for the typo spotting. I thought I caught the tale vs tail one during a proof reading. But the Slayer's line was meant to denote each Slayer had possession of her own fate. Even if those fates were all the same.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 4:51 am 
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Time and Time Again.

Author: Citanul

Feedback: Be kind, rewind?

Spoilers: Just about all of them. Go watch the show.

Rating: NC-17

Pairings: W/T, B/F

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: Hello all. Okay so I crammed a two part episode into one chapter. The Scoobies get to meet someone Willow and Tara told them about earlier and some of the things that took them by surprise in recent chapters begin to pay off. Things will definitely play out differently with the changes the couple made to the gang's roster.

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

Chapter 12: Lines

Lights dimmed as the sounds emitted from the machine died out. A long gurney slid out from the center of the device and revealed a single female occupant resting on the slab wearing nothing but a flimsy hospital gown.

She sighed and as soon as she was clear from the hole in the large machine she lifted up her head to look meaningfully at the young honey blonde woman standing by two doctors in the nearby glass room. As they looked at a monitor, which no doubt held the readings the machine just took, she rolled her eyes.

“Well how did I do?” Joyce Summers asked in a mildly exasperated tone.

“You did great Joyce.” Tara replied while pressing down a microphone button on the small room’s console. “We’ll let you get dressed. Then we can discuss yours and my mother’s results.” She said as the two doctors looked back and forth between the readings and the young blonde with worried expressions.

Joyce sighed as she slowly got up and walked to a magnetically insulated cubby that held her clothes and purse. This was the fifteenth test and the largest machine they put her in so far. She honestly didn’t know what all the fuss was about. She had seen one of Jennifer’s “dizzy spells” but she herself felt perfectly fine. If it wasn’t for the tears she saw just barely starting to form whenever Willow looked at her she wouldn’t have even gone on this trip with the Maclay women.

Joyce got dressed and went to find her new friend from the single moms club. As she turned a corner she saw Jennifer sitting just down the hall by an open doorway. Joyce quickly walked up to her friend who jumped up the minute she realized she wasn’t alone.

“Oh Sweetie.” Jennifer said as she pulled Joyce into a hug. “How did it go?”

“I keep telling everyone I feel fine.” Joyce replied. “How are you holding up Jen?”

“Oh it’s not as bad as it looks.” The other blonde woman lied. “I can’t complain really. I got to see my little girl happy beyond my wildest dreams. Hers too for that matter.”

“Don’t talk like that Mom!” Tara ordered after stepping up beside the two women from seemingly out of nowhere. “We are not losing either of you.”

“Tara, Sweetie.” Jennifer said with a sad, defeated tone.

“Ladies.” A doctor said with a polite smile as he and a colleague came up to the trio of blondes. “If you’ll step inside we can begin to discuss treatments.”

The two mothers looked to the doctors and then back to Tara. With light smiles the five of them walked into the conference room on the medical science floor of the Law Offices of Rosenberg and Maclay.

“Well how does it look?” Joyce asked as she took her seat and one of Jennifer’s hands while Tara took the other.

“Mrs. Summers I can honestly say it is bad but not beyond hope.” The doctor replied with a serious tone. “Mrs. Maclay your condition has progressed to a stage where any other doctor would say it’s a miracle you’re still with us. Knowing a little about the treatments your daughter has given you and having looked at the plants she and our other senior partner provided to the science division I can say I believe you could make a full recovery one day soon.”

“What do we have to do going forward doctor?” Tara asked with a dour expression. She couldn’t afford to get her hopes up yet.

“I know this may sound radically unorthodox and like grounds for my disbarment but I strongly recommend we give Jennifer a small injection of the.” He paused looking back and forth between the two women and Tara. “Well let’s just say the substance we acquired from the new specimen we are referring to as Subject Zero.”

“Do it!” Tara said without hesitation. “Now, while we’re going over Joyce’s results.”

“Wait Tara.” Jennifer said as Joyce looked around the room shocked at the shift in tone from the young woman. “What is this? There’s something you aren’t telling me.”

Tara looked at her mother and began to panic. She had to convince her to take this one leap of faith. If this didn’t work then the dreams she and Willow had for their future would end up all the darker for the loss of this one woman.

“M-m-mama p-please.” Tara stuttered horribly. “I n-need y-you t-to tr-tr-trust m-me. You’ll kn-know everything w-w-once we are ready to sh-show all our friends. B-but I-I-I n-n-need you t-to accept this one th-thing.”

“Oh Goddess Tara.” Jennifer said. She couldn’t believe how bad the stutter had gotten. She hadn’t heard Tara stumble over her words like that since the day they left the farm. “I’ll do it okay, you don’t have to worry.”

Tara took a deep breath and closed her eyes. After taking a few moments to compose herself she then looked her mother in the eyes and spoke with the conviction she had gained from finding her soulmate.

“I can’t lose you again.” The honey blonde said firmly. “Not yet, not until you see the world we’re building.”

Tara then turned to the doctor who nodded to his colleague. The second man got up and left the room quickly. Without batting an eye at the emotional moment the family shared the doctor continued with the diagnosis.

“Excellent.” He said. “You’ll be the first human trial for this treatment and if the thousands of simulations we have been running all week are any indication then you will make a full recovery almost instantly.”

“Really?” Joyce asked. “Tara if this is such a miracle cure then why hasn’t it been shared? This could save millions of lives.”

“Joyce I p-promise you that if and w-when we figure out a way to m-mass produce it then Willow and I will give it to the whole world for next to n-nothing.” Tara replied. “But we aren’t th-there yet.”

“As it stands revealing the substance now would necessitate revealing the source and the nature of the supernatural world, and start a few years of FDA mandated trials before we even begin to think about human testing.” The doctor said all too casually. “We are under strict orders not to reveal anything as of yet.”

‘Who’s orders?” Joyce asked before realizing how dumb the question must be. The doctor simply put one finger up in the air and let it point towards Tara as it slowly meandered its way back to the surface of the table.

“Oh.” Joyce said quietly.

“Willow and I both wrestled with this decision.” Tara said with calm detachment. “The mystical component of Subject Zero c-can’t be mass produced just yet. We can’t take s-something like this to the world until we solve that problem with science. We also n-need Subject Zero for something down the road. I’m sorry Joyce, but there is no other way and we can’t t-tell you why just yet.”

“I understand.” Joyce said quietly.

“Now if we could return to the topic of Mrs. Summers test results I believe there is some very happy news.” The doctor stated. “We found it.”

“Really?” Tara asked as the two mothers beside her grew silent.

“Yes.” The doctor said. “It would never even show up on normal scans but we ran the tests multiple times on the highest end machinery the firm has at its disposal. I’m afraid to say that by the time symptoms would have manifested the necessary surgery would have had something close to a seventy percent mortality rate. Even a seemingly successful operation would most likely trigger an aneurism shortly after.”

“Get to the good news doctor.” Tara said as she took in the horrified look on Joyce’s face.

“The good news is we can treat it with some very common medications starting right away.” He replied. “You’ll need to keep drinking the tea for a time, and both of you ladies should come in once a month for follow ups over the next year, but I believe neither of you will ever need to see the inside of an operating room for these conditions.”

“I’m going to be okay?” Joyce asked while still reeling from the idea of leaving her girls alone in the world.

“Yes you are.” Tara said firmly. “I’ll call the Gunn’s and Doyle. Have them set aside two rooms for you to use whenever you’re in the city for these checkups.”

“Oh no Tara.” Joyce pleaded. “You’ve already done so much. I can’t impose.”

“You’re family Joyce.” Tara said as Jennifer nodded. “It’s n-never an imposition when it comes fr-from the heart.”

“Thank you.” Joyce whispered.

Before they could ask anymore questions about Joyce’s prognosis the other doctor returned with two very large and very armed men. One had a briefcase chained to his hand and approached the table to set it down.

“I am the Gatekeeper!” He declared while still handcuffed to the case.

“I am the Keymaster!” The other responded before he pulled a key from his vest pocket and uncuffed his fellow guard. He then pulled another key from a hidden pocket and unlocked the case.

“Do they always do that?” Joyce asked while Tara failed to stifle a giggle.

“Apologies Miss.” The Keymaster said. “Ms. Rosenberg was very adamant about us doing that every time.”

“And you wouldn’t believe the pay raise we’re getting by going along with whatever she says.” The Gatekeeper said.

“I see.” Joyce sighed while lightly shaking her head at Tara

The guards both stepped back as Tara stood and opened the case. From it she pulled a single vial of a mysterious liquid. Its neon green contents emitted an eerie glow even under the florescent lights of the conference room.

The lead doctor stood and readied a hypodermic needle, antiseptic wipe, cotton ball and a small bandage. He arranged them on the table beside Jennifer then turned to the woman.

“Please roll up your sleeve Mrs. Maclay. We’ll be done in no time.” He assured.

Tara handed the doctor the vial and he drew five cc’s into the needle as his colleague sanitized the injection site on the inside of Jennifer’s elbow. Tara and Joyce both put reassuring hands on Jennifer’s other arm as the needle entered. Before she even knew it the needle was pulled out and deposited in a biohazard canister.

“Well that wasn’t so bad.” Jennifer said with a light smile before her entire body convulsed with terrifying tremors. Tara and Joyce were at her side as the doctors began to panic. Neither expected to live out the work day if they were responsible for the death of the mother of one of the Senior Partners.

Jennifer’s skin began to glow with a miraculous white light that seeped out of every pore. Her eyes flew open and Joyce marveled at the beautiful glow they cast upon the room. Jennifer gasped as the light faded and she looked around the room in a state of awe.

“By the Goddess I feel better than I have ever felt before in my entire life.” Jennifer whispered. “It feels like my entire body is completely new.”

“I don’t even know how to describe what I just saw.” Joyce said.

“Ms. Maclay I am so sorry.” The doctor groveled. “I had no idea it would have such drastic results.”

“I suspected it might, but I didn’t w-want to go ahead until I had informed consensus from you and your team.” Tara said calmly. “Thank you for suggesting we go right ahead.”

“What would you suggest we do now?” The doctor asked.

“Perform the tests to see if my mother is fully cured or just in remission for a short time.” Tara ordered before turning to Joyce with a much softer voice. “Joyce I know that must have been a sh-shock but if it really did work please, th-think about taking some yourself.”

Joyce looked back and forth between Jennifer and Tara. After a moment she came to a decision. “Let’s see what the new tests say.” She replied quietly.

Tara looked at the Slayer’s mother with a smile that glowed almost as much as her own mother just had. She then nodded to the guards. The glowing vial was back in the briefcase, locked and cuffed to The Gatekeeper. Both armed men bowed severely to Tara before turning and walking back to the research department the substance came from.

Jennifer was guided out of the room for a new round of tests. As they were left alone Tara visibly relaxed. She sat down in the chair beside Joyce and bowed her head. A moment later she looked up and Joyce could see fresh tears just starting to form.

“Thank you so much for coming with us for this.” Tara said. “I know it must be weird going through this without Buffy and Dawn at your side.”

“Oh Honey.” Joyce said as she took Tara’s hands in her own. “It’s like you said. We’re family. Thank you for.” She paused for a long moment. “Saving my life, I guess would be the term.” Joyce said with a smile.

“We couldn’t l-lose you Joyce.” Tara said. “It almost k-killed Willow and Xander. More than losing their “real” parents did years later. Buffy was just.” She paused for a long moment. “Broken is the nicest way I can put it. And poor Dawnie, oh Goddess, Joyce she suffered worst of all. I can’t tell you how much you mean to all of us.”

“If the tests come back and Jennifer is perfectly fine I’ll take the shot.” Joyce said. “I don’t know about the glowing thing but if it makes that much of a difference I can’t turn it down. I can’t leave my girls. Or Xander.” She finished with a smirk as Tara laughed.

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

“Do I like Shrubs?” Buffy asked as she sat in the student lounge and stared, perplexed, at the aptitude test.

“That’s between you and your god.” Xander remarked sarcastically.

“What did you guys put?” The blonde Slayer asked her friends.

“Who don’t like shrubs?” Faith said.

“Buffy relax.” Willow replied. “This test is meaningless for pretty much all of us.”

“How do ya figure Will?” Xander asked as both Slayers stared at the redhead.

“Well Tara and I are set.” Willow replied. “Not too many of these booths are going to offer head of fortune five hundred company in their presentations. So we aren’t even looking. You Slayers may have the whole “Sword of Damocles” destiny thing hanging over you but with our help you’ll live full lives. Xander is actually set up pretty good too.”

“How am I set up good?” He asked.

“Xander nine times out of ten you become a successful construction contractor with your own crew and business while the rest of us are still goofing around in college classes.” Willow said. “You have a real gift for it Xander and once a few things are taken care of my company will probably need to higher out plenty of work to a firm we can trust.”

“Really?” He asked.

“Yep.” She affirmed. “Just fill out whatever you want honestly and don’t worry about it. Oh and swing by the booth those architects are setting up. Grab some pamphlets. Ask a few questions about entry level work.”

“Okay.” Xander said with a renewed smile.

“That’s great for X man but what about us?” Faith asked.

“Well okay that may seem more dire.” Willow admitted. “But you two are going to be busy saving the world a lot for the next few years. I was hoping the Halloween costumes might make your school work easier but in the end I kinda need you both for stuff once we’re done with Sunnydale.”

“Will, it’s the hellmouth.” Buffy whispered back with a mildly chastising tone. “We’ll never be done with it.”

“Buffy trust me on this.” Willow said soothingly. “Hellmouths don’t last forever. There will come a day when we are all done with Sunnydale and we’ll move on as a family to bigger and better things.”

Buffy looked at the redhead in complete shock. The idea that Willow was holding back a plan to deal with the hellmouth permanently was unbelievable. The idea that an end to the mission was in sight almost made her giddy.

“Seriously?” Buffy asked with a smile.

“Don’t get you hopes up yet Summers.” Willow said with a slight hint of her resolve face. “It’s years away still, but it’s coming. Tara and I need both you and Faith and just about every other Slayer we’ll be able to find to get to that point. But on that day we’ll all leave Sunnydale for good and never look back. After that someone will be needed to guide the next generation. I can’t think of anyone better suited to that role than the two of you.”

“Hear that B?” Faith asked. “We already got a fallback plan once we’re done. Go us.”

Buffy looked to her fellow Slayer. After a moment she let the brunette’s infectious cheer put a small smile on her own face. She let out a light laugh and shook her head.

“Okay that’s great.” Buffy said. “But what booth do I go to tomorrow during the fair?”

“Any you think might be a fun hobby.” Willow said with a smile before a frown crossed her face. “But you’re gonna want to go to the police booth at least once in the next few days. Also we should all probably wear our body armor to school for the rest of the week, and watch for demons wearing matching rings.”

With that ominous statement Willow fell silent. Buffy and Faith locked their eyes at the warning and gave each other slight nods. They decided to be extra careful the next few days.

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

Later that night Buffy and Faith were making their usual rounds through the largest of Sunnydale’s many cemeteries. As they approached a crypt near the entrance both felt a twinge in their Slayer senses. Buffy noticed lights and sound coming from the crypt and the chosen two went to investigate.

“Damn it, where is it?” A short vampire with thinning hair and glasses cried as they peeked inside the tomb. “It should be here.”

Buffy and Faith slowly crept inside to join the vampire. With a grin Faith slammed the door shut. The vampire spun around to look at them in terror.

“Does rest in peace have no sanctity to you people?” Buffy asked before tilting her head and growing introspective for a moment. “Oh, I forgot. You’re not a people.”

“What have you done with the Du Lac cross Slayer?” The sniveling vampire cried out trying to sound brave and intimidating and failing miserably. “You can not keep it from us.”

“The huh?” Buffy asked the terrified vampire. He lunged forward in an awkward fashion that surprisingly left his chest completely exposed. Buffy staked him without the slightest bit of effort.

She turned to get an appraisal from Faith and saw the brunette was finishing off a larger vamp of her own with just as much ease. As the second foe dissolved around Faith’s stake the two Slayers shared a brief smile.

“So what do you think the deal is with this Dull Lace dealie?” Buffy asked her counterpart.

“Not a clue.” Faith replied. “But we should head back home and check up on Little Sis.”

“Of course.” Buffy sighed. “Can’t just dump her off on Xander the whole time my mom is in LA for gallery stuff.”

“It ain’t that bad B.” Faith said. “Besides, at least if he’s sleeping on your couch while he baby sits then we don’t have to walk him back to his parents’ dump every night.”

“True.” Buffy admitted. “Can’t be too careful in this town no matter how many we dust in a night.”

The duo made their way back to Rovello Drive and entered the Summers residence. They were surprised to find Xander and Dawn had been joined by Willow and Giles for an impromptu movie night.

“I’m not entirely sure I get the appeal of this Leonardo DiCaprio fellow.” They heard Giles mutter.

“Come on Mr. Giles.” Dawn cried. “He’s just so dreamy.”

“I suppose, if one were to recast the roles of Shakespeare with today’s flavor of the week, then “dreamy” is as good a deciding factor as any.” Giles said as he munched on a bowl of popcorn.

“No sweat G man.” Faith called from the living room doorway. “You’d have us more worried if you did get Leo’s appeal. If ya know what I’m saying.” She finished with several very suggestive winks and eyebrow waggles.

“Hah!” Giles laughed with a snort. “Perish the thought. How did things go on patrol?”

“Dusted two vamps trying to steal something from a crypt.” Buffy said with a bored sigh. “Apparently the brainy one of the two thought we had taken it before he got there.”

“Couldn’t be too brainy if he thought you were running around grave robbing.” Xander said.

“Did you get the name of the item he was after?” Giles asked growing serious.

“The Duck Lake cross.” Buffy said boldly causing Faith to snicker. “What?”

“Sorry B but it was Du Lac.” Faith remarked.

“The Du Lac cross?” Giles asked as all the humor drained from his expression. “Are you certain he didn’t find it?”

“Yup.” Faith nodded.

“This could be very bad indeed.” Giles said. “We must find out who took the cross and why. It may be the key to any number of dark rituals.”

“I have it.” Came a small voice from the other side of the room.

“Of course you do.” Giles said with a weary sigh. He was beginning to dread the extent of Willow and Tara’s manipulations and foreknowledge. “Willow, may I ask why you and or Tara decided to steal that particular relic?”

“Remember the Vampire Buffy dusted in the library a few weeks back?” Willow asked the room. Several nods affirmed they knew what she was referencing. “Well it was after the Du Lac manuscript. Spike wants both so he can complete a ritual to heal Drusilla. I don’t know how much her visions are able to fill in the gaps but they need the cross to help drain blood from her sire to strengthen her.”

“So there were other reasons for sending him to LA.” Buffy said.

“Believe me Buffy, I have told you the most important reasons in graphic detail.” Willow promised. “This was the least important reason to get him out of Sunnydale.”

“So we’re fine then?” Xander asked. “Crisis averted.”

“Not really.” Willow said. “This is about the time Spike gets desperate and calls in the Order of Taraka.”

“Oh dear lord.” Giles muttered. “We have to prepare.”

“How bad are these guys?” Faith asked.

“As bad as bad gets I’m afraid.” Giles said. “It’s a society of deadly assassins dating back to King Solomon.”

“Okay but before you freak out anymore Giles just know that each time Tara and I have seen Spike call these guys in it has been the same three each and every time.” Willow assured the room. “We can face this and win.”

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

The bleach blond vampire paced his lair growing more and more agitated by the minute. Dalton was supposed to be back hours ago. Spike knew what the problem was.

“It’s that bloody Slayer.” Spike muttered between gritted teeth. “She’s the gnat in my ear. The gristle in my teeth. She’s the bloody thorn in my bloody side.” He yelled as he smashed a crate with his boot.

“Spike?” Drusilla called from the bed while laying out her tarot cards.

“I’ve gotta do something.” Spike said before turning to is infirm love. “We’ll never complete your cure with that bitch breathing down our necks.” Spike paused for a long moment.

“Huh.” He said to himself. “I need to bring in the big guns. They’ll take care of her once and for all. The order of Taraka.”

Drusilla smiled as she revealed three cards. One held a fearsome one eyed demon. Another, a giant centipede writhing out of a hand in the sky. The last showed a spotted jungle cat emerging from dense shrubbery.

“They’re coming to my party.” Drusilla said with a shudder. “Three of them.”

Spike slowly prowled up to his girl. With a smirk he sat beside her and wrapped his arms around the dazed vampire. This was going to be good.

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

Buffy stepped out of the shower with a towel wrapped around her hair. She grabbed another large towel and dried herself off. After she felt almost ready for bed she padded her way down the hall to her room. Once Buffy stood in the doorway she was struck with a surprising sight.

Faith was in the room looking at a shelf of her personal knickknacks. Buffy lightly walked into her room and gave the door a quick shove so it closed just loud enough. The sound caused Faith to spin around in shock and Buffy was surprised to see the brunette was clutching the blonde’s favorite stuffed pig in her hands.

“Shit B! Ya scared me.” Faith said while still clutching the childhood toy.

“Hey Faith. Just dropping by for some quality time with Mr. Gordo?” Buffy asked as she walked over to her dresser and started brushing her hair.

Faith gazed at the girl she longed for wearing nothing but a bath towel and didn’t even register the question.

“The pig.” Buffy clarified.

A smile crept across Faith’s pouty lips at that statement. She never would have expected to fall for a girl that could come up with such a cutesy name for her dolls.

“I love that you were one of those kids that named her stuffed animals.” Faith said, hoping the admission wouldn’t reveal too much.

“Did you have any favorite toys growing up?” Buffy asked as she worked the tangles out of her shoulder length blonde hair.

“Shoot B.” Faith replied. “Toss me a live grenade why don’t ya? I didn’t have much around the house aside from empty bottles of Jack, and the occasional loose rubber.”

Buffy’s eyes widened at that response. How could she forget Faith’s life before coming here? How could she forget the drastically different worlds and upbringings they both had.

“Oh god Faith I’m so sorry.” Buffy said as she turned to look at her cohort. “It just slipped out. I didn’t mean to bring up anything too painful.”

“It’s cool B. Five by five.” Faith assured her as she took a seat on the bed. Buffy slowly stood and walked into her closet. Moments later she walked out again dressed in her full length pajamas. She saw that Faith was staring at a framed picture in her hands. Buffy went up to the edge of her bed and sat down besides Faith.

“Do you ever wish we could be normal kids?” Buffy asked as her head came to rest on Faith’s shoulder.

“I probably ain’t the best one to ask ‘bout normal B.” Faith replied with a weary sigh. She could feel Buffy all around her. Her body pressing into her side. Her scent coming from just about everything in the room. Her fine hairs cascading down the shoulder Faith’s tank top left exposed. She could feel Buffy’s soul wrapping around her own through their connection. It took everything Faith had to keep from shuddering in ecstasy at the delicious contact she wished would never end.

“You know what I mean.” Buffy said. “Being free to choose our own futures.”

“I won’t lie B.” Faith said. “There was a time not too long ago when I would have said having nothing holding you down was the only way to live. I didn’t see the point in letting someone else have that kind of power over me.”

“What changed?” Buffy asked.

“Xander’s nice tight ass.” Faith deadpanned causing Buffy to snort and almost fall off the bed with laughter. After a few moments Buffy regained her senses and looked back at Faith expecting a real answer.

“No seriously though, I met you guys.” Faith went on. “I felt what it was like to have a real family for the first time in my life. I saw all the shit you had to deal with that was so much worse than the handful of horrible close calls I had and I decided standing by you through it all would be better than running off to LA the second Red and Blondie turned their backs. I may not ever be able to go back to what passes for normal, but I can’t imagine ever wanting to if it meant giving up you guys.”

“Wow Faith.” Buffy whispered in awe. “Thank you so much for sharing that.”

Faith smiled back at the blonde, then an idea struck her. She hoped it would give them more than enough time to bond together privately.

“Say B?” The brunette asked. “I see a lot of pictures around this room with a cute little girl on ice skates. You still got them?”

“Sure.” Buffy said before sporting a confused expression. “Why?”

“There’s a rink out past route seventeen that’s closed on Tuesdays.” Faith replied.

“Tomorrow’s Tuesday.” Buffy said with a grin.

“I know.” Faith remarked wistfully. “Think you could teach me?”

“I’d love to Faith.” Buffy said as she put an arm around Faith’s shoulder. Faith couldn’t help it. She smiled as she put an arm around Buffy in return. She knew she had to be patient. Times like this gave Faith the barest glimpse of what the life she longed for could be like.

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

The next day began with little fanfare for the Scoobies. Though Willow knew at least four people had come to town she still worried it would be different threats this time. Fortunately that was all washed away as she opened the front door of her and Tara’s house to find an unassuming looking man in glasses standing on her porch with a cosmetics sample case.

“Mrs. Maclay?” He asked and Willow nodded in return. “Hello, I’m Norman Pfister with Blush Beautiful Skin Care. I’m not selling anything so I’m not asking you to buy, just to accept a few free samples.”

Willow smiled and stepped back into the hallway leaving the door open for him to follow. He followed with a smile of his own. It didn’t last.

As the monster disguised as a man stepped across the threshold of the house he felt the full force of the wards all three witches had been casting on the building for weeks. He managed to stand inside the doorway before his visage shifted and melted away revealing a mass of writhing worms and maggots roughly shaped like a man.

His shock at being revealed was short lived however as the rune hidden under the throw rug by the front door activated with him standing on it. He managed a loud piercing scream before flames consumed every last worm that made up his form.

In moments all that remained of one of the order’s most inhuman assassins was a charred cosmetics case and a ring that fell to the floor with a light clatter. Willow stooped down to pick it up. She looked it over before taking it back to the kitchen to wash the ash off. Once that was complete she slipped it into a pocket and headed off for school.

The day was off to a good start.

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

That night Buffy and Faith snuck into the ice skating rink. With a smile that hadn’t been on her face in months Buffy helped Faith pick out and put on the first pair of skates she had ever worn.

Though there were more than a few slips early on Faith proved to be a quick study. After only a few laps around the rink with Buffy skating backwards in front of her holding her hands Faith got the hang of it enough to do long easy laps unassisted. She watched in wonder as Buffy gracefully skimmed across the ice performing intricate and beautiful ballet moves.

On one particularly hard move Buffy slipped and slid across the ice to hit the side wall with a light thud. She looked up at Faith with a smile that melted away as an arm reached down and pulled her up by the throat. The Slayer was manhandled over the sidewall by a brutish demihuman dressed in worn biker apparel. Buffy looked up into his heavily scarred face and saw he only had one eye.

“Leave her the fuck alone you fucking piece of shit!” Faith screamed as she flew into the demon’s chest with both Butterfly swords. Buffy found herself released and rolled back onto the ice. As she stood up she saw Faith straddling the now dead assassin and screaming at his corpse.

“You! Don’t! Get! To! Touch! Her!” Faith cried out, punctuating each word by plunging one of her blades into his chest.

“Faith! It’s okay, he’s dead!” Buffy called out to her traumatized friend.

Faith froze. She looked down at what she had just done in front of Buffy and prayed for the first time in her life. She prayed to the Goddess Willow and Tara were always going on about that she hadn’t just blown everything. She prayed that Buffy wouldn’t look at her like she was just the stupid psychotic bitch she feared lay within her.

“Come on Faith, it’s okay.” Buffy assured as she helped Faith to her feet.

“You hurt B?” Faith asked trying to sidestep any further questions.

“I’m fine Faith.” Buffy said with a smirk while looking Faith over. “What about you? Is that your blood I see?” She asked bringing a hand up to Faith’s brow.

“Nah, I’m good.” Faith replied before wincing slightly as Buffy touched the tiny wound.

“Come on, let’s get you home before that gets infected.” Buffy said.

“Wait!” Faith said with more force in her voice than she intended. “You feel that?”

Buffy didn’t know what Faith was talking about at first but then felt a twinge with her Slayer senses and put her guard up. Faith looked around the edge of the rink until her eyes came to rest on one spot by a far entrance.

“Yo ugly thing lurking in the shadows!” Faith yelled. “Come out and face us or we’ll hunt you down and make sure you suffer way worse than that last piece of shit did!”

“Show yourself!” Buffy ordered.

Both Slayers were on edge and ready for a fight as they watched a young woman around their age, with ebony skin and long curly black hair step out of the shadows and face them with determination and resolve that matched their own.

“And just who are you supposed to be?” Buffy asked.

“I am Kendra. De vampire Slayer.” The ebony girl said with a thick Jamaican accent.

“No shit really?” Faith asked.

“Oh god, I was wondering when you would show up.” Buffy said with a smile. “This is gonna be so much fun. I wonder if we could call Alonna in for this? That way the four of us can stomp Spike extra hard.”

“What are ye talking about?” Kendra asked in a harsh voice. “Identify ye’selves.”

“I’m Buffy the vampire Slayer and this is Faith the vampire Slayer.” She said drawing even more confusion from the new girl.

“Nonsense.” Kendra retorted. “Thar is but one, and I am she.”

“That was then, this is now.” Faith said with a smirk.

“Kendra we have so much to tell you about all the wonderful things that have been going on in the last few weeks.” Buffy assured. “Please come home with us. Meet our friends, talk to our watcher, everything will be so much clearer then.”

“If this be a trick I won’t be goin’ easy on ye.” Kendra said menacingly.

“No tricks.” Buffy said.

“Hold up B.” Faith said as she shook the last traces of blood off her blades and returned them to the crossed sheaths at her back, hidden under her jacket. “Before we go let’s grab that ring. Red said she was making a necklace.” The brunette then stooped down to pry the ring of the Order of Taraka off the dead man’s finger. “Okay ready.”

“So Willow said you were from Jamaica?” Buffy asked the new Slayer as they walked off the ice.

Kendra could already tell something strange was afoot. She had her suspicions about the dark power rising on the hellmouth. She decided to play along with these two strange girls until she could verify the true threat.

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

“I miss you too Baby.” Willow said into the phone. “When do you think you can come back?”

Across the room Dawn looked up from the guide to ancient languages she was reading and watched the redhead talk to her girlfriend.

“When do you think Tara’s going to be back?” Xander asked not even having to look up to get the gist of the young girl’s thoughts.

“I hope it’s soon.” Dawn remarked with a frown. “Everything got better when Tara and her mom showed up.”

“Yes.” Giles said. “I can honestly say I agree with you on that.”

Though the man put on a cheery façade he was still reeling from the void Jenny left by walking out on him. He still had trouble coming to terms with the fact she had lied about her own identity to him. That perhaps more than any other issue led him to spend more of his nights in the Rosenberg-Maclay house and its impressive library. Tara had even been thoughtful enough to stock up on all his favorite varieties of tea.

“I love you.” Willow said into the phone before hanging up.

“Everything okay Willster?” Xander asked with a dopey smile.

“Yeah it will be.” Willow said weakly. “Tara, Jennifer and Joyce are coming home late tomorrow.”

“Wonderful.” Giles said with more cheer than he had shown all night. “I hope Joyce’s gallery work was fruitful.”

“Oh, the trip was well worth it.” Willow said with a slightly coy smirk.

Just as Willow was about to stand and join the others at the research table the front door opened and closed. Footsteps from three pairs of boots could be heard moving down the hall. With a mixed looks of curiosity and surprise the four people in the library looked up to see the three Slayers enter the room.

“Look who we found!” Buffy called out with cheer. “Kendra the vampire Slayer.”

“What is de meaning of this?” Kendra asked the blonde Slayer.

“Oh chill out Rasta girl.” Faith said with exasperation evident. “This is our crew.”

“Crew?” The ebony girl asked growing confused.

“Gang, posse, amigos, friends.” Buffy said.

“I don’t understand.” Kendra replied.

“Don’t tell me your watcher doesn’t let you have friends!” Buffy asked in complete shock.

“De Slayer must work in secret.” Kendra declared. “For security.”

“The council just says that because they don’t want anyone asking questions every time their rules get one of you killed.” Willow said with a cold edge to her voice. “The rules are going to change.”

“De rules of de council are what saves de world from de darkness.” Kendra said with absolute conviction.

“Say that again if you survive the Cruciamentum and we’ll talk.” Willow said with a smirk.

“I do believe you’ve made your point Willow.” Giles said in a placating tone before standing up and walking over to Kendra. “Hello, I am Rupert Giles. Buffy and Faith’s Watcher.”

Kendra straitened up at his title as if she were an army private and a two star general just happened to stroll by.

“Willow, Xander and even Buffy’s sister Dawn along with a few others know of their identity, and they also spend time together socially.” Giles added.

“And you allow this Sir?” The ebony Slayer asked yet again.

“Yes well, considering that since I “allowed this” as you put it, the number of active Slayers in the world has grown from one to four I’d say that allowing Buffy to have more of her own leeway is the better decision.” Giles replied. “Who is your watcher now?”

“Mr. Zabuto.” Kendra said with pride.

“Ah. Sam Zabuto.” Giles said as he recognized the name. “We’ve never met but he’s very well respected.”

“Sir how can there be four Slayers?” Kendra asked.

“Now that is a somewhat complicated story.” Giles said. “You see, Buffy, faced the Master and was left for dead. Xander.” Giles gestured to the young man who waved lightly as the story went on. Willow smirked as Kendra began to blush when the boy looked her way. “Revived her with CPR. That would have activated you.”

“She died!” Kendra asked in shock.

“Only for a minute.” Buffy said as she took a seat at the table.

“Indeed. It would seem that is all it took.” Giles said. “Then several weeks ago Willow and her soulmate met and they gained all of the magical powers they had shared in several past lives.”

“She’s a witch?” Kendra said looking at the redhead suspiciously and widening her stance as if she was trying to ready herself for a fight.

“Whoa! Ease up there Pink Ranger.” Buffy said while moving between Kendra and Willow.

“Yeah, we didn’t bring ya to Red’s pad just so you could start some shit you can’t finish.” Faith said as she moved into a flanking position behind Kendra. “Ease up and listen to G man’s story.”

Kendra relaxed her stance and looked to Giles expecting an explanation for why they would consort with witches.

“Hmm.” Giles muttered trying to decide where to continue. “After setting things in order so Buffy would be better equipped on her patrols Willow and her counterpart took most of us to LA and set about forming a second unit of demon hunters there. The two of them left a young woman and her brother in charge of that group after they cast a spell that unlocked her potential to become the Slayer.”

“That be impossible.” Kendra remarked.

“Yes I thought so as well but the results speak for themselves.” Giles said. “After that they went to Boston, slayed Kakistos, and brought Faith here to be unlocked and fight beside Buffy.”

“They slayed de vampire Kakistos?” Kendra asked before looking back at Willow in surprise.

“Yeah, it was a great show too.” Faith remarked. “They shoulda sold tickets.”

“The point is we aren’t about to let you pick on our friend just because she happens to be a witch.” Buffy said coldly.

“You both feel dis way?” Kendra asked.

“Oh yeah!” Faith agreed. “I owe Red and Blondie way too much to let you come in and ruin the roll they’re on.”

“I was sent here to stop a dark power from rising on de hellmouth.” Kendra said boldly. “I can’t be looking the other way now that I’ve found it.”

“I’m not the dark power your watcher told you about.” Willow said, drawing a confused look from the ebony Slayer. “Would you like to know all the information we have on the actual threat?”

“Tell me.” Kendra said after relaxing her guard once again.

Willow pulled up several pictures on the screens around her terminal. She began the long description of Spike and Drusilla, what they wanted, what they needed, what Willow had done to keep them from it up to this point and what members of the Order of Taraka had most likely been sent after them. As the presentation drew to a close Willow turned to Kendra and locked eyes with her.

“Kendra what I’m about to tell you is very important.” The redhead intoned. “We need to keep Drusilla alive for now. She is needed as a sacrifice to stop a very bad apocalypse that will pop up in a few years. If she dies our options for saving the world become limited.”

“What do ye expect me to do?” Kendra asked in disbelief with her usual accent. “She, like all vampires and demons, must be slain.”

“Oh you are definitely not getting introduced to Doyle and Lorne.” Buffy said with a smirk.

“I expect you to help us keep her from getting healed to full health.” Willow replied tightly. “You should also know that if you face her once healed she has some minor hypnotic powers. Don’t look her in the eyes when and if you fight her. She’ll put you in a trance and slit your throat.”

“I’m not some helpless child.” Kendra scoffed.

“And I’ve seen her kill you exactly like that, at the end of this school year, in more past lives than I care to share.” Willow said firmly. “I’ve warned you as much as I can. Please try to remember that I’m not your enemy. Do you want to stay in my guest room or with Giles?”

“I’ll be staying with the watcher.” Kendra said before she turned and left the library.

“Wow.” Faith said with a smirk. “Aren’t y’all glad I ain’t as big a barrel of laughs as her?”

“Quite.” Giles said before standing to follow the new charge. “I’ll contact her watcher in the morning and check his sources.”

“Before you go Giles you should know we took out an assassin right before we met her.” Buffy said.

“Really?” The watcher asked. “Quite impressive.”

“Was it the one eyed biker?” Willow asked.

“Yeah Red.” Faith replied as she pulled the ring out of her pocket and placed it on the table. “How’d you know?”

“I killed the guy who turns into a mass of worms this morning.” Willow said as she pulled out an identical ring and set it beside the other. “That leaves the woman dressed as a red haired cop. You should all wear your body armor to school until you slay her. She likes to play with guns.”

“I’ll warn Xander.” Buffy said.

“Yes, we should all prepare for whatever new attack Spike is plotting.” Giles said before he left to find the new Slayer in town.

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

Kendra stormed out of the library and down the hall. As she turned a corner a startled yelp escaped from the young girl she bumped into. Dawn stepped back right away and Xander greeted Kendra as she came into the living room he and Dawn had moved to during the less friendly parts of the meet and greet.

“Welcome. So you’re a Slayer huh? I like that in a woman.” Xander said with a confident smile.

“I. I hope.” Kendra stammered while looking at the floor. “I t‘ank you. I mean Sir um. I will be of service.”

“Great, good!” Xander said, slightly put off by the strange lack of eye contact. “It’s good to be a giver. Dawn let’s get you home before it gets any later and your mom skins me.”

A light giggle escaped from the young girl as she followed Xander out the front door. Kendra watched them go and almost didn’t notice it when Giles came up behind her.

“Ah, Kendra, come along.” Giles said politely. “You’ll be staying at my residence for the time being.”

“Is this not your home?” Kendra asked. “I t’ought with de library.”

“Oh no.” Giles said quite hastily. “This is Willow’s home. She bought and remodeled it so that Buffy would have a better place to train and I would have a much safer place than the school library to store the more valuable books.”

“I see.” Kendra said as she followed the watcher out the door.

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

The next day at school saw the Scooby gang on edge. Kendra began pacing the library after Giles contacted her watcher and Sam left decisions in the field up to him. Buffy and Faith prowled the school looking all over for the redheaded cop Willow seemed sure would be at the police booth for career week.

Willow was working on the programs she had high hopes for in the coming months when the greatest sight she could imagine came through the door. The honey blonde vision lifted both Willow’s spirits and her body from the chair.

“Tara!” Willow called as she raced across the library to envelope her girl in her arms. “Oh Goddess Baby I missed you so much.”

“I missed you to Sweetie.” Tara whispered as she held Willow tightly. “How have things been while I was away?”

“Order of Taraka.” Willow answered. “We got two out of three though. Oh, and Kendra showed up.”

“Of course she did.” Tara sighed. “Mom decided to hang out with Joyce in LA for the rest of the week. Everything worked out perfectly. They both took the shot and both are in perfect health. Mom is still going to be making frequent checkups and spending most of her time in LA at the Hyperion.” Tara finished with a wink.

“Of course she is.” Willow smiled back. “Thank the Goddess everything worked out.”

“Who is this now?” A slightly angry Jamaican voice came from behind them.

“Hi Kendra.” Tara said calmly. “I’m Tara Maclay. Welcome to the hellmouth. We can always use more Slayers.”

“This one knows as well?” Kendra asked, mildly outraged. “Does the term secret identity have no meaning here?”

“Relax Special K.” Faith said as she came in the library and greeted Tara with a hug. “Sup Blondie good to have ya back.” The brunette then turned back to the ebony Slayer and held her gaze. “Blondie is half the reason we got things so good, so back off.”

“And de other half.” Kendra asked.

“Red.” Faith nodded to the lithe redhead nuzzling into Tara. “Nothing to report. It don’t look like the assassin cop is here.”

“Damn.” Willow said as she turned to guide Tara back to the table never once letting go of her hand. “I sent Xander and Cordy to pick up Dawn. They should have been back by now.”

“Well I for one suck at hide and seek in plain sight if the other side won’t do the hide in plain sight part.” Buffy said as she came into the library. “The school day is over and we got bupkis, oh hey Tara’s back.” Buffy finished the statement by moving over to give the honey blonde a warm hug.

“Hi Buffy.” Tara said as the petite blonde hugged her. “So we’re looking for the assassins, but the last one isn’t showing herself. What do you Slayers think should be our next move?”

Before any of the three could answer the door burst open and Cordelia walked in with Xander draped over her shoulder, wincing in pain.

“I’m okay just let me sit down for a bit.” He protested as Buffy and Faith rushed to help the head cheerleader move him into a chair.

“Oh dear lord.” Giles said as the commotion drew him from his office.

“Oh my god Xander what happened?” Buffy said before she noticed someone was supposed to be with him. “Oh god where’s Dawn?”

“You’re gonna hate me for this Buffy.” Xander said as he pulled up his shirt to reveal the chest piece of his body armor had a sizeable dent and a bullet lodged in its center. “I was just walking up to the elementary school when I saw the cop taking Dawn away in her car and yelled to stop her. She opened fire and sped off.”

“Damn it Xander you gotta take that shit off after you get popped.” Faith yelled at him as she started removing layers of shirt to peel off the body armor beneath. “Real brave of you to take a bullet for the Kid but you ain’t getting extra macho points for dying because the spent armor is crushing your lungs.”

“Thank you Xander.” Buffy said before standing up and looking around the library. “Okay new plan. We kill Spike. Hard!”

“Agreed.” Tara and Willow said in unison.

“Didn’t you guys say you needed him?” Buffy asked.

“Not if he pulls crap like this.” Willow stated coldly.

“Dawnie comes first.” Tara said in a tone far harsher than any the other Scoobies had ever heard her use before. “We take her back. Whatever else happens to Spike isn’t important.”

“Good to know we’re on the same page.” Buffy said after looking both of them in the eye. “Any ideas for striking back that won’t let them hurt my sister?”

Willow pulled up a screen on her laptop and turned it to Buffy. “I put a tracker in Dawns backpack lining. She’s on her way to the factory. I have a plan Buffy.” Willow said before looking at Tara. “But it will take all of us and I’m gonna have to say and do some things that will seem to come from the grumpy side of the force.”

“If it’ll get Dawn back you can do whatever you want Will.” Buffy said with firm conviction.

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

Dawn struggled as the fake cop dragged her into the old abandoned factory. Dawn knew all too well about the monsters that dwelled within. She had been there as Willow showed everyone the photos and files on Spike and Drusilla. She had seen the screen that showed the tracking beacons on his car were in the building this assassin was dragging her towards.

“Let me go!” Dawn cried out. “My sister is so going to slay you.”

The assassin only sneered and threw the girl at the feet of a vampire with bleach blond hair in a long black leather coat.

“Well we wouldn’t want that now would we?” Spike mocked her with far too casual a tone. “Tell you what Little Bit.” He said as he got down to eye level with Dawn. “Give me the information I want and when they come for you they’ll find you in one piece.”

“Spike.” Drusilla called as she came out from the basement they kept their bedroom in. “I can feel it. So shiny.” She said in an almost delirious voice.

“Pet, you shouldn’t be up and about until you’re better.” Spike called out to her, worried.

“Oh but I feel so much better.” Drusilla said as she languidly moved across the room to crouch next to Dawn. “So shiny. Pretty shiny green girl. I could gobble you up.”

Dawn flinched as the raven haired vampire snapped at her. In a panic she tried to come up with a convincing lie to stall for time.

“You don’t want to do that!” Dawn said. “I’m no good to you as food.”

“Shiny isn’t for eating?” Drusilla asked as if in a daze.

“No Pet.” Spike said. “Shiny is for bargaining a cure for you out of the Slayer.”

“That’s right.” Dawn said to Drusilla. “You don’t want any harm to come to me.”

“I don’t want any harm to come to the shiny green girl.” Drusilla said in a voice that was almost a monotone.

“Well I wouldn’t take it that far.” Spike said with a confused frown.

“No harm must come to the shiny.” Drusilla shot back. “She holds her secrets until they come but they are not for us.”

As Spike was about to ask what his delusional love was on about Drusilla stood and pulled Dawn to her feet. She then walked off towards their room with the girl in tow.

“Dru what are you doing?” Spike asked in an exasperated tone.

“I’m going to comb shiny girl’s lovely hair.” Drusilla replied.

“Just don’t eat her yet.” He called out as the two disappeared down the stairs.

In the bedroom below the factory Drusilla placed Dawn in the center of the bed. She then walked over to an old traveler’s trunk and pulled a hair brush out of it. The deranged vampire then ran back and sat behind Dawn.

“You just want to brush my hair?” Dawn asked with a hopeful smile.

“I just want to brush your shiny shiny hair.” Drusilla said in that same voice that gave Dawn an idea.

“You don’t ever want to hurt me or the people I care about.” Dawn said, testing out a theory.

“I don’t want to hurt you and yours.” Drusilla said with a dull tone.

“Because we’re friends.” Dawn said, venturing further with her new trick.

“Oh goody for me.” Drusilla said. “Wait till Miss Edith finds out I’m friends with the shiny new key. She will be ever so jealous.”

Dawn had no idea what to make of those words but she had to try to get this new trick to work to her advantage. With a deep breath she pushed ahead.

“Drusilla they will come for me.” Dawn said. “I need you to make sure none of the vampires or that woman do anything to me until my sister comes to take me home. Can you do that for me since I’m so shiny and green? Can you protect me?”

“I don’t like the Slayer.” Drusilla sneered. “She never invites Miss Edith to tea.”

Dawn flinched at the word invite. She would have to be very careful about her phrasing if whatever was going on depended on her talking to a vampire at any length. No point in getting out of this alive if Drusilla had an open invitation to come murder them all in their sleep.

“She’s very sorry but she can’t invite anyone. It’s one of those rules her watcher has. But she might change her mind once she learns what good friends we are. You want to be my friend still right?” Dawn asked.

“Oh we are such good friends.” Drusilla replied. “Not like Miss Edith. No, very good friends my shiny green ball of light.”

“And friends look out for each other.” Dawn assured. “I’ll look out for you but you have to look out for me. Even if Spike comes and says to drain me you can’t let that happen.”

“Why doesn’t the shiny girl want to be like us?” Drusilla asked with a pout. “She hates us.”

“No, I don’t hate you.” Dawn said quickly. “But if you or anyone drained me I wouldn’t shine anymore would I? All my green would fade away. You don’t want that do you? You like me being green and shiny.”

“I must say I rather do like the light.” Drusilla replied with a laugh. “It sparkles on my skin and makes me feel strong again.”

Dawn suddenly felt like no matter what happened to her they would all be in for serious trouble after this.

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

Just after sunset Spike walked around the factory floor as he gave out orders to the handful of vampires he had left and the last assassin he had on the payroll.

“Okay, after our copper delivers the list of demands we’ll fall back and head for the exchange site with the girl. Keep things fast so they can’t plan how to hit us back.” Spike said.

Suddenly his plans fell apart. He should have known this was coming. From the very first time he set foot in Sunnydale it was as if fate had taken a personal interest in kicking his ass. This time fate took the form of an arrow buried in the heart of his last Order of Taraka assassin. What really surprised Spike was that before the woman could even slump to the ground the arrow exploded, sending out a concussive force that knocked himself and most of his men to the ground.

More arrows pierced the hearts of vampires all around him as the Slayer and an ebony girl he had never seen before stormed in cutting down any vampire lucky enough to still be standing. The ebony girl then walked over to the prone assassin and stuck a knife in her neck for good measure. So much for the bloody Order of Taraka he thought.

“Where is my sister Spike?” Buffy said as she walked over to him with menace in her voice. She pulled something out of her back pocket and drove it into his torso.

He gasped in pain before he looked down and realized the Slayer had driven a metal railroad spike into his stomach rather than his heart. Buffy then pulled out a second spike.

“I can do this all night. Where is she?” As Buffy spoke the second oversized nail was rammed into Spike’s left thigh, eliciting screams of agony from the vampire.

Before he could say anything the girl in question popped her head out from the basement stairs. Buffy looked up and ran towards Dawn as Dawn ran to meet her. They embraced in the middle of the factory floor.

“Oh god Dawnie, are you alright? Did they hurt you?” Buffy asked.

“I’m fine Buffy.” Dawn assured her sister. “In fact I might have a new trick I’ll tell you about later.”

“Where did my shiny friend go?” Drusilla said as she walked up the stairs in a daze. “You are my sunshine my only sunshine.” She sang lightly before seeing the girl in Buffy’s arms. “Slayer took my sunshine away. Bad Slayer. No cakes for you, you naughty girl.”

“Yeah sure, whatever Drusilla.” Buffy said as a rope dropped from a now open skylight and Faith rappelled down. The brunette Slayer crouched besides the dead assassin and yanked off the ring before walking up to Buffy and pulling Dawn back towards the entrance to the warehouse.

“This isn’t over Slayer.” Spike said. “I will find a cure for Dru and when I do we’ll bleed this town dry.”

“Do you have any idea how much extra work you are forcing me to go through William Pratt?” A deep voice boomed from the entrance Faith approached with Dawn. “Here I am building my army and lining up vampires to sacrifice at the eleventh hour and you keep proving to be more trouble than you’re worth.”

Spike looked up to see a truly terrifying sight. A woman dressed in a tight black satin jacket and pants floated towards him a foot above the warehouse floor. Her hair and eyes were jet black and dark veins stretched across her face as purple arcs of lightning danced off her fingers. He had seen dark wizards before but none compared to the monster that sailed towards him now. In a deep masculine voice she continued.

“Do you know how easy it would be vampire? I wouldn’t even break a sweat. Nor would my minions here.” As she said this Spike was lifted into the air by an unseen force to hang upside down before her. “I told some of them I needed you and Dru. I told you the same now that I think about it.” With those words tiny firefly lights filled the room and sang to him.

Early one morning,
Just as the sun was rising,
I heard a young maid sing,
In the valley below.

Oh, don't deceive me,
Oh, never leave me,
How could you use
A poor maiden so?

Remember the vows,
That you made to me truly,
Remember how tenderly,
You nestled close to me,

Oh, don't deceive me,
Oh, never leave me,
How could you use
A poor maiden so?

Oh Gay is the garland,
And fresh are the roses,
I've culled from the garden,
To bind over thee.

Oh, don't deceive me,
Oh, never leave me,
How could you use
A poor maiden so?

Thus sang the poor maiden,
Her sorrows bewailing,
Thus sang the poor maid,
In the valley below.

Oh, don't deceive me,
Oh, never leave me,
How could you use
A poor maiden so?


As the song died down Spike was left speechless. How could this dark witch, or whatever she or he was, know enough about his distant past to say the things that had been said. How much of his life and unlife was an open book to this new nemesis?

“Do you want to know the truth mama’s boy?” The deep voice asked the floating vampire. “The truth is I don’t need you. You’re beneath me.”

With the flick of her wrist Spike was thrown back and a terrible crunching sound reverberated through the factory as his body smashed through the cinder block wall on the far side of the building.

“Spike?” Drusilla asked in a daze.

“It was fun meeting you Drusilla.” Dawn called the vampire to attention. “Take Spike and leave town. You don’t ever want to come back here.”

“Alright shiny green girl.” Drusilla said causing all three Slayers to look up in confusion and Willow’s eyes to widen. “You look after the shiny ball of light Slayer.” The deranged vampire continued. “Would be very naughty to lose her before the doctor calls out the invitations for her party.”

“Is she crazier than usual?” Buffy asked those present as they all backed out of the warehouse.

“No clue B.” Faith replied. “Let’s just get Dawn back to the van.”

As they exited the factory the fairy lights blinked out of existence. As the street lights hit Willow the visage of a horribly twisted dark witch melted away to reveal the exhausted looking redhead they all knew and loved. The Slayers helped both girls back to the van that awaited them. Once there the door opened to reveal Tara slumped over in the back surrounded by spent candles and burned out herbs. They piled in and Buffy turned to the driver.

“Okay Oz we need to be gone now.” She ordered as the boy with dyed hair started the engine and sped off.

“Anyplace in particular or just that way fast?” He asked, still not entirely sure what he just saw had actually happened.

“Faith, please climb up there and tell him how to get to your house.” Buffy asked, not wanting to take any attention off her sister.

“Sure B.” Faith replied as she went to play guide for the guitarist.

A smile crept across Buffy’s face as she held her sister and watched as Willow and Tara once again wrapped themselves around each other. The pair continued to whisper little promises and vows to one another throughout the ride to their home.

“Do they always do that after they cast dark magics?” Kendra asked.

“Kendra weren’t you paying attention before?” Buffy asked. “All that back there was an act. Illusions designed to make those vampires think some hugely powerful dark wizard has moved into town. We may need to work on it a little but if word spreads it might help cut down on the number of low level monsters moving into town for a while.”

“What be the point of this deception?” Kendra asked again.

“To weed out the minor league crap that distracts us from the serious threats that want to open the hellmouth.” Buffy shot back with an exasperated huff. “Fewer out of town vamps migrating in helps us put a serious dent in the local population. Plus we get to focus on bigger demons.”

The Jamaican Slayer didn’t know if she agreed with that but she kept quiet none the less. A frown crossed her face as she realized she could no longer tell if this turn of events meant they had stopped the dark power from rising or if the rumor from Willow’s performance were what all her watcher’s signs had been pointing to.

As they turned down Rovello Drive she realized it didn’t matter. They had stopped a powerful vampire from healing another and had seriously injured or killed him as well. It was enough for now.

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

As the group entered Willow’s front door they were greeted by an unusual sight. Giles was pacing the hall as Cordelia doted over Xander on the living room couch.

“Xander!” Dawn screamed as she saw the young man. Before anyone could stop her she ran into his arms and hugged him fiercely as he winced.

“Hey there Dawn Patrol.” He remarked through slightly gritted teeth. “Long time no see.”

“I saw her shoot you.” Dawn cried into his chest. “I thought you were dead.”

“Hey now.” Xander soothed. “That’s what the body armor Wills and Tara bought us all is for. Turning fatal gun fights into great big bruises all over the chest.”

The young girl’s eyes widened at that remark. She immediately let go and backed off a bit.

“Oh god Xander I’m so sorry. Did I hurt you?” Dawn asked.

“No worries.” Xander replied. “Isn’t it past your bedtime?”

“Yeah I guess.” Dawn sighed.

“We’ll talk more tomorrow.” He assured. “I’m just gonna pass out here on the couch.”

“Okay.” Dawn said with a smile.

“We should all find places to pass out.” Willow said as she leaned in Tara’s shoulder. “Oz thank you so much for driving us around during the hostage crisis.”

“Oh, no problem.” The young man said.

“Kendra I think that about wraps up the things your watcher sent you here for.” Willow went on. “There are some details we need to talk about before you go home. I’ve already booked you a flight for a few days from now. Enjoy the plane ride in the passenger section this time. It raises fewer red flags than stowing away in a cargo hold.”

“T’ank ye.” Kendra replied.

“Come on Sweetie.” Tara said. “Let’s get to bed.”

“I love you Baby.” Willow replied as they walked up the stairs to their room.

“Yes I do believe Willow has the right idea.” Giles said. “I’m sure we can wrap up any loose strings tomorrow.”

With that everyone who didn’t live with Willow and Tara left to find their own beds. With the exception of Xander of course. Faith stood by as everyone left for the night and was surprised to find the last to leave was Cordelia.

“Yo Xand.” Faith asked causing the young man’s eyes to pop open. “You gettin’ anywhere with Queen C?”

“Hah!” Xander laughed before wincing slightly. “Good one Faith.” He replied before passing out again.

Faith just shook her head and pulled a blanket over her friend. With newly uplifted spirits she went upstairs to her room. After all, if Xander Harris could score some strange off of Cordelia Chase then Faith Lehane could surely get Buffy Summers to fall madly in love with her.

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

As Tara guided Willow into their room and closed the door behind them Willow finally let out the flood of emotions she had been holding back since they left the factory. She completely broke down sobbing in Tara’s arms.

“It’s okay Willow.” Tara soothed as she held her girl. “I’m here for you. Always.”

“Oh Goddess.” Willow moaned between sobs. “I’m so sorry Tara. I just hate it when they see me like that.”

“I know.” Tara whispered in Willow’s ear while she moved them to their bed. “But they don’t know what that comes from. They don’t know the darkness we’re capable of when we lose one another, and they never will.”

“You’re not capable of the ugly darkness that I am.” Willow said meekly.

“Sweetie what do you think the Witch King was?” Tara asked with a smile as she continued to stroke Willow. “I was going mad looking for you. Do you remember how many people I killed before I found your father’s library?”

“Well okay but those were slave traders, and it was a very primitive planet.” Willow justified the actions of the woman she saw no evil in.

“And tonight was nothing more than you yelling at an evil, soulless, vampire.” Tara justified right back. “Buffy and Faith took one look at your glamour and assumed you got the look from cartoons. Giles could have recognized the signs of dark magic overdose but he stayed here with Xander. We don’t have to worry about you ever losing it again because we are never going to let anything tear us apart. I love you Willow.”

“I love you Tara.” Willow replied as she pulled Tara into a deep kiss.

They spent the rest of the night just holding each other. Content in the reassurance that nothing could ever come between them. They knew they wouldn’t have things easy in this world. Even after having lived so many lives together new threats and surprises always emerged. Yet they would face every challenge as they had all the others in their past. Together.

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

Drusilla picked through the shattered remains of the factory wall. As she removed a board it revealed Spike’s unconscious form beneath.

“Don’t worry dear heart.” Drusilla told Spike as she hoisted him up with one hand. “I’ll see that you get strong again.” She promised before draping him across both arms. She turned to carry him back to their car.

“Like me.” Drusilla said as they set out on their new journey together.

_________________
Time and Time Again


Last edited by Citanul on Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 12:06 pm 
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Dibs!

I would have guessed Buffy would have gone with 'Dulux cross,' like the paint :)

Heh, i love Mr Gordo.
Also, nice to know, he made it out of Sunnydale in the big crunch. (In canon anyway)

Hmm, why do i have the feeling that the girls are playing match-maker for more than one couple?
Joiles, anyone?

And so nice to see things slowly getting better for Buffy and Faith.
Interestingly i spotted something from waaaay back when i was stuck for something to read over breakfast, and re-read the first few chapters. Yes, it's that good.

Buffy said "I would love to spend my nights watching TV, or gossiping about boys or maybe girls, or god even studying!”
I totally missed that little hint the first, and second time around :)

Wow, this story is getting good...er.

and so regular too!
I always have something to look forward to.

Typo catches:
"cubby that held her cloths and purse" should be "clothes."
“We are not loosing either of you.” should be “We are not losing either of you.”
"They don’t know the darkness we’re capable of when we loose one another" should be "lose".
also: "we don’t have to worry about you ever loosing" should probably be "losing" unless we're talking about loosing (unleashing) the darkness within. if so, might wanna change the sentence to reflect it better.

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


My Story: Coming Home


Last edited by Azirahael on Wed Nov 19, 2014 1:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 12:44 pm 
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Yay for great update-y goodness... I'm glad that Kendra didn't cause any undue problems to the Scoobies, and big yay for her to keep her only shirt intact... I hope the X-man - Queen C romance has a happier ending than in the series. I wonder how Anya fits in all the things since there is no way in hell that Willow would have a fling with Xander so Cordy doesn't invite Anyanka...

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:37 am 
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hmmmmm curious how being near dawnie cured dru, and how dawn can put dru under some sort of thrawl.

I'm wondering if willow and tara will try to warn kendra about the cruciamentum before she leaves. I mean other than Willow mentioning it briefly in this chapter.

I loved willow scaring spike with how much she knows about his life as william the poet.

and lol the gatekeeper and the keymaster

I missed fb for marvels, so I'll just say that I can't wait to see what's up with faith there, and also to see if or when carol and rogue will meet up again.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Can't wait for the next update!


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:52 am 
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Hello Azirahael. They are totally playing matchmaker on a few different people but they are trying to be sneaky about it.

Glad you caught the "or maybe girls" bit I added to the line taken from the show. I like to think that Buffy is a lot more honest with herself when she's having an overly emotional argument with her mom. Even back then she saw how happy Willow was and that got the ball rolling. But she and Faith still have a long road ahead.

And thanks again for the typo check. The sad thing is I distinctly remember making the Loose/Lose mistake a few times on the chapter I wrote before chapter 12 but caught it while writing and playing around with phrasing. I have no idea what I was doing on this one though.

Hi Zampsa. Kendra was fun to have around. One of her best qualities is how easy it is to see that if you put the three Slayer's fighting styles and personalities in a row you can tell she's at one end of the spectrum and Faith is almost the exact polar opposite. Buffy falls firmly in the middle.

Rest assured Anya is coming. One of the reasons I decided to introduce her in Sirens and Marvels so early is the fact she won't pop up till I play with the season 3 stuff. Also she won't need the Xander/Willow "fluke" to be called in.

The Cordy/Xander relationship can best be summed up with one phrase. "They can't all be true love." What those two characters have is a perfect storm of heavily charged emotions, inexperience with processing those emotions, and enough hormones pumping through their bodies to kill an adult buffalo. One of them is going to do something at some point to end the relationship and the damage to Cordelia's social status is more than enough to call in Anyanka.

Hello Mysticrain. A lot of curious things are going to be happening with the Key now that the Beast isn't in the picture. Dawn is only beginning to scratch the surface.

They are definitely going to do everything they can to warn Kendra. Whether it helps or not is another story.

It was fun to write Willow's over the top performance in the factory. While we have not seen the last of Spike and Dru it may be a while before either of them pop up again.

Ghostbusters references are always fun. As for Marvels, Faith is going to have a few interesting conversations with her fellow students/teachers, and Carol is deliberately putting off visiting the Institute. But that "reunion" is unavoidable at this point.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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Time and Time Again


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 5:28 am 
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Time and Time Again.

Author: Citanul

Feedback: Be kind, rewind?

Spoilers: Just about all of them. Go watch the show.

Rating: NC-17

Pairings: W/T, B/F

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 this one starts off slow and then a dramatic twist hits, and there is angst a plenty towards the end. I'm sure over the course of this entry many of you may notice I'm drawing several story and setting elements from the animated series "Young Justice."

I also haven't posted a detailed list of DC comics character's street names mostly because the only non stand ins whose regular names I'm mentioning are either nearly planet wide cultural touchstones like Superman or my assumption that we can all see that J'onn is less of a mouthful than The Martian Manhunter.

On a side note I will say that when I was talking to my sister about Wonder Woman it came up that she had always heard that since the character was an Amazonian warrior princess she though that meant she was from the Amazon river basin in Brazil. The phrase "Fiery Latina" came up several times when talking about casting choices for the next Superman Movie.

Needless to say she was heartbroken when I told her Wonder Woman was an Amazon from ancient mythology. So she's Greek, not Brazilian.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

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

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

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

Sirens: Justice

It had been a week since Carol Ferris moved the “Love Star” into L1. There it sat in the night sky. A bright pink dot in front of the moon. She had asked if they wanted it at L2, L3, L4 or L5.

After superman made a call to the white house and held a brief conversation over just what Lagrange points were it was decided to put it right in front of the moon in plain sight. The government of Brazil was still reeling from the surprise attack and having the mysterious object that saved the day out in the open seemed to ease matters.

Another helpful factor as far as several world governments were concerned was the fact that the Watchtower could easily keep an eye on the crystal orb at that location. With that in mind about a third of the league had gathered in their orbiting headquarters to discuss how they would move forward.

Martian Manhunter and Red Tornado had taken one of the Javelin planes from the hangar and done a cursory sweep around the Earth. There were floating crystal eyes at each Lagrange point. John Stewart, Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner had each returned from more extensive surveys where they each found dozens upon dozens of the pink crystals littered throughout the solar system.

“So are we just leaving these things lying around?” Flash asked after the situation became apparent.

“I still think we should ask them politely if they would put a view screen in our control room here.” Superman said. “That is if Carol hasn’t figured out the trick herself yet.”

“No such luck.” Hal remarked. “She says whatever method Harley used to make the first one is extremely advanced. It might take her years to figure it out.”

“Hmm.” Superman muttered as he pondered their options. “What about dropping by their ship and seeing if they’re open too house calls?”

“Can’t.” Batman stated sourly.

“It’s not often I here that word from you.” Wonder Woman mused. “Just why can’t we?”

“It’s gone.” Batman replied. “Vanished without a trace.”

“How does a ship that size, disappear?” Catwoman asked as everyone else looked on, stunned.

“Hal, how big of a pocket dimension can those rings produce?” Batman asked the Lantern, not sure he really wanted the answer.

“Barely large enough for our own personal lantern batteries to hold.” Jordan confirmed. “I can’t imagine how they could manage to stow away an entire container ship. It’s beyond anything I’ve seen before.”

“Oh and seeing them build that thing was an everyday occurrence was it?” Captain Marvel asked the Lantern while waving his hand at the giant pink sphere they could all see out the window. “Let’s face it. There are a lot of things we don’t know going on here.”

“He’s right.” The Atom said as he shrunk down to the size of a coffee mug and began to pace the large U shaped table that dominated the League’s war room. “Without certain key details there isn’t much we can act on.”

“Is it possible to locate them through magic of telepathy?” Red Tornado asked in his dull robotic voice.

“Zatanna does not want us to engage them if there is any chance a fight would break out.” Batman said all too calmly. “She is beyond grateful to them for freeing Zatara.”

“She’s been doting over the poor guy all week.” Catwoman added with a slight smile. “You’re never going to get a daddy’s girl like her to turn on the two women who gave her daddy his life back.”

“That rules out our magical forces.” Batman said. “J’onn, what do you think?”

“Based on the presence I felt in the crystal orb I am exceedingly hesitant to try reaching out to them with my mind under any circumstances other than an absolute emergency.” The Martian Manhunter said.

“So we’re boned?” Captain Marvel asked.

“Would seem that way.” Flash replied.

As they were about to call it a night an alert came in from the security sensors at the Hall of Justice in DC. An image popped up on the monitor that covered one wall of the large stone chamber. A mildly bubbly voice accompanied the sight.

“Yoohoo! Hey guys! Anyone in there?” Harley called out as she got ever closer to the security camera at the front door.

“Sweetie it doesn’t look like anyone is home.” Ivy remarked as her Love bounced around the screen.

“Well of course no one’s home.” The blonde said. “Cause it isn’t a home. It isn’t even an office really. More like a club house. Oh Goddess the Justice League’s DC HQ is a stag club they keep for tax purposes isn’t it?”

“Heehee.” Ivy giggled at her energetic partner. “I don’t think Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Zatanna or Black Canary would let them treat the place like a “stag club.” The emerald redhead looked introspective for a moment. “Maybe something closer to an Elk’s Lodge?”

“Oh like there’s even a difference.” Harley remarked. “Hey! Heroes! We just wanted to talk for a minute.”

Batman quickly pressed the button to open a comm. link with the terrestrial base. “Hello ladies. We were just wrapping up a minor meeting. What did you need?”

“Oh, Baby it’s Batman!” Harley said with an excited smile. “Hi Bats. Is Catwoman with you?”

“Hello Harley.” Catwoman said as she pressed a comm. button by her seat. “Zatanna is really looking forward to meeting you gals and thanking you in person.”

“Aww, that’s so sweet.” Ivy said.

“See Baby, I told you there were no hard feelings about last week.” Harley said before turning back to the security camera. “So um, listen can we come in and talk? We kinda had something we wanted to run by two of your members.”

“Just two of us?” Batman asked.

“Well yeah.” Harley answered. “We didn’t want to take up everyone’s time with this next project. But hey, anyone is welcome to help out if they aren’t too busy.”

“Come inside.” Batman said as he pressed another button that opened the door the two Star Sapphires stood by. “We’ll be out in a minute.”

“Nifty.” Harley said as she took Ivy’s hand and walked inside the Hall.

“Well, this just got interesting.” Hal Jordan said.

“Think it’s a trap?” John Stewart asked.

“Only one way to find out.” Superman said with a grin as he walked towards the Zeta chambers that would teleport them all down to the Hall.

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

Harley and Ivy stood in the grand entryway of the Hall of Justice. They both took an appropriate amount of time to marvel at the massive bronze statues of the founding members of the Justice League. To either side stretched rows of museum cases that displayed trophies taken from fallen villains the League had stopped from wreaking havoc.

“And you said they weren’t overcompensating for anything.” Ivy whispered causing Harley to let out a loud giggle as she took in some of the more generously proportioned parts of the statues.

Before the blonde could form a retort the large double doors under the massive statues opened and out walked Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Catwoman, the Flash, three Green Lanterns, the Martian Manhunter, a red robot the couple didn’t recognize, a man who looked eerily similar to Superman only wearing a red suit with a gold lightning bolt across the chest and a small white cape with gold trim, and a man wearing a blue and red suit the couple had been hoping to see.

“Oh Atom, good, we were hoping you’d be here.” Harley said. “Is um, Aquaman here too maybe?”

“You wanted to see me?” The Atom asked, almost dumbfounded with surprise.

“Yes.” Ivy said with a smile.

“And Aquaman?” Superman asked growing more curious as to what this next project they had planned might entail.

“Uh huh.” Harley replied as she walked up to the scientist who specialized in nanotechnology. “Here is the address of the place we’re renting in Opal City. Is three days good for you?”

“Three days for what?” The Atom asked.

“We wanted to have a meeting with you, Aquaman, Lucius Fox and Professor Hamilton in Opal City.” Harley clarified. “We still have Fox and Hamilton’s contact info but we wanted to ask you first. Also, we’re not too sure what policy Atlantis has for visits from Pink Lanterns.”

“Carol keeps saying Violet or Star Sapphire.” Hal remarked with a frown.

“Okay yeah, but still.” Harley said as she waved her power ring hand around for them to see. “Pink.”

“I know right.” Catwoman said as Wonder Woman let out a light laugh.

“You should know that Aquaman left the League some time ago.” Batman said.

“What?” Harley and Ivy said in shock.

“He didn’t like the way the U.N. kept stonewalling his environmental concerns.” Superman added.

“Okay yeah, that’s kinda the main reason we’re calling this meeting.” Harley said.

“Should we go down there to ask him in person or do you have a means of contacting him from here?” Ivy asked, growing concerned.

“We have a transmitter and comm. console through here.” Atom replied. “Follow me.”

“Thank the Goddess.” Harley remarked with a sigh as she and Ivy followed the man into the room the league had just exited.

“Should we be worried?” Flash asked.

“Yes.” The three Green Lanterns replied as one.

“Now hold on.” Superman said. “This may be the perfect chance to get some of those Crystal view screens installed. Let’s wait to see how things go for Atom at the meeting before we jump to any conclusions.”

“What is it with you and those crystal eyes?” Captain Marvel asked.

“They just look really neat.” Superman said before a slight smirk spread across his face.

“Oh god!” Catwoman cried out. “You just want to be able to moon whoever is on Watchtower duty from space don’t you?”

“Never.” The man of steel affirmed with an impish smile. “Okay maybe a little. But only when one of these guys is acting like a sourpuss.”

Batman just put his head in the palm of his hand. He couldn’t believe the affect his girlfriend was having on the League after only a few months. He had yet to admit it to any of his teammates but he had long since stopped worrying about the actions of the two newest Star Sapphires. The work they were doing in the jungles and on the high seas was resulting in countless lives being saved in countries all over the world. The breakthroughs in medical science alone proved to him that they weren’t a threat he needed to actively manage while just about every other member of his rogues’ gallery treated Arkham like a hotel with a revolving door.

“Well at any rate we should see if there’s anything special about Opal City that drew them there.” Wonder Woman said.

“Off the top of my head I can only think of Starman and Shade.” Flash remarked. “Wait didn’t Starman die?”

“It’s a revolving position.” Superman said. “A protégé always takes up the mantle.”

“So what do we do?” Guy Gardner asked.

“We wait three days.” The Martian Manhunter replied in an ominous voice.

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

The sleek Atlantean frigate surfaced in the Opal City bay just a short distance away from a row of dockside warehouses. The ship’s captain turned to the two young men standing beside him and bowed.

“We have reached the coordinates the surface dwellers provided young lords. Do you know which of these structures is our destination?” The Atlantean Naval officer asked.

“Based on the appearance of one of the women who requested this audience, and my time on the surface around many docks such as this I’d say that is our target.” The ebony skinned young man with a head of almost completely shaved off blond hair said while pointing at a warehouse that was completely overrun with dense, tropical vegetation. “Wouldn’t you agree Garth?”

“I’d say you’re right as usual Kaldur’ahm.” The pale youth with long black hair replied. “Pull the ship alongside the dock. We shall inform the King.”

The Captain saluted and began docking preparations. Kaldur’ahm nodded and fell in step beside his friend as they went to the royal passenger’s cabin to the rear of the vessel. Once there they both knocked and then stepped back to bow their heads. They didn’t have to wait long.

The door opened to reveal a tall muscular man with short blond hair wearing green tights and an orange shirt. Both garments were covered in scales. The man looked around and smiled as his eyes fell on the two young men.

“Ah boys.” He cheered. “No need to stand on such formality. We’ve arrived yes?”

“Yes my King.” Kaldur’ahm said as he looked up to see his King’s smiling face. “Based on what we know and have seen of this Poison Ivy it is easy to see they wasted no time in setting up this meeting site to their liking.”

“Any other word from the League?” Aquaman asked.

“No.” Garth said. “But I doubt we are the first to arrive.”

“Good, let’s go then shall we.” Aquaman said as he and his two protégés went to the upper deck hatch. On the way out they were greeted by the salutes of various crewmen and saluted the rank and file in return. No one could claim Aquaman was a callous ruler.

The ship’s Captain was the last to bid them farewell as they exited the vessel. Once the trio was standing on the deck they noticed a fairly unusual sight awaiting them on the dock.

A tall, springy plant creature with long wavering tendrils in place of a head was bouncing up and down slightly on the dock as it waved to them. Aquaman strode towards the creature and once he stood a few yards away the plant beast bowed politely before turning and plodding up the ramp to the warehouse turned greenhouse.

“Well this certainly seems more interesting than I had initially thought.” The King of Atlantis said as he went to follow the leafy creature. “Come along boys. This trip just might be worth all the trouble after all.”

“Of course my King.” Both young men said at once.

The trio of ocean dwellers moved along the walkway that went under the main docks and ascended into the building itself. Coming to the top of the ramp they entered into the main floor of the now verdant warehouse. They were only mildly surprised to see the other three men invited to the meeting were already conversing lightly nearby.

“Atom, Mr. Fox, Professor Hamilton!” Aquaman called out. “Neptune’s beard it’s good to see you men again.”

“Always a pleasure your highness.” Lucius Fox said with a mild bow that was quickly mimicked by Hamilton.

“Come now my friends.” Aquaman protested as he walked up and shook their hands. “No need for that. And you Atom, how fares the League?”

“Doing fairly well I would say.” Atom replied while receiving a vigorous hand shake. “We lost Dr. Fate but Zatara is recovering from being trapped in the helmet for so long. His daughter is overjoyed to have him back. Oh and Batman brought Catwoman into the fold so there’s that.”

“Amazing!” Aquman replied. “Who bested Fate but left our old friend Zatara alive?”

“That would be us.” Harley said as she and Ivy floated down from one of the upper levels to join the group of men. “Thank you all for coming. We have a lot to discuss. If you’d please follow us this way we can begin.” She then turned to face the far wall and two of the plant creatures opened a large set of double doors hidden there. The men watched as the two Star Sapphires walked through the now open doorway.

“Well that was odd.” Garth remarked.

“Son, knowing those two, you haven’t seen odd yet.” Lucius said with a laugh as he followed the ladies.

The group went through the doorway and found a large room with several monitors arrayed around a large round table. Harley and Ivy were already seated on the far side of the table, practically in each other’s laps.

“Please take a seat and we can show you what we have planned.” Ivy said.

Lucius, Professor Hamilton and Atom were quick to move around to one side of the table and take seats they found there. Aquaman then walked around to the other side and sat down. Kaldur’ahm and Garth looked around for extra chairs and soon found them offered up by yet more plant creatures.

“Okay first we have something for Wayne Enterprises and Star Labs.” Harley said as she pulled up two matching cases and several small potted shrubs of varying colors. “This is the last batch of plants we discovered in the field and were going to send your way like we have in the past. Of particular interest are the plants with the blue veins running throughout their leaves.”

“It’s exactly what we’ve been looking for this whole time.” Ivy added. “The results from our simulations are in these cases. Once you verify our findings you should be able to revolutionize modern medicine.”

“Pardon my ignorance.” Garth interrupted. “But if you men both represent rival companies why are you sharing these specimens and results?”

“Ah, well for starters Star Labs is not a traditional company.” Professor Hamilton said. “We make profits off various patents and inventions we own, but our main goal has always been the pursuit of new advances in science for the betterment of mankind.”

“And Wayne Enterprises has a long standing relationship of mutual cooperation with organizations that meet Mr. Wayne’s unique criteria.” Lucius Fox added. “Especially when those partners can help when it comes to other endeavors. Such as the special request that these ladies made each time they sent us their findings.”

“How is Lexcorp these days?” Ivy asked casually.

“Hanging by a thread.” Hamilton remarked with a slight grin.

“Wayne Enterprises has already begun the initial phases of a wide scale buyout.” Lucius said.

“This is all fascinating.” Atom said as the two men sitting beside him shared wicked smiles. “But was there a specific reason you requested Aquaman and myself?”

“Yes we should be getting on with this meeting.” Harley said. “And yes Atom you are all crucial to the proposal we have for today.”

The former psychiatrist then began typing away on her laptop and monitors around the room came to life. Most showed aerial views of what seemed to be a garbage dump. More distant angles revealed it was a floating mound of garbage in the ocean.

“As I’m sure many of you are well aware there is a floating cluster a trash in the Pacific Ocean roughly as wide as the state of Texas.” Harley said as Ivy scowled.

“I am more than aware of the befoulment of my kingdom.” Aquaman said with no small amount of animosity.

“Good, then we’re all in agreement on what needs to be done.” Harley said as she continued to press buttons. New images came up on the screens placed before each man at the table and on the walls around the chamber. They showed tiny metallic insects moving out in waves across the ocean from the center of the garbage island. As the waves expanded the garbage contracted to a point they thought it would disappear but instead formed a circular shape with spokes that extended out like a spider web.

“What did we just see?” Lucius Fox asked as the other men seated grew deathly silent.

“Nanites.” Harley said as she pulled up a schematic for an infinitesimally small spiderlike machine. “Or nanobots. Whatever you prefer to call them. We release a thimble full of them at the exact center of the garbage island. Anyone who can fly can do the task. The nanites feed on the trash and convert it into more nanites. Once they reach a certain density point they form this.”

She pressed another button and more images came up. This time they showed the circular platform in much greater detail. The spider web like protrusions were in fact docks for cargo ships of nearly any size. The floating platform itself was littered with towers and cranes. A dense mound of shipping container sized blocks was at the heart of the new island.

“They turn all that floating trash into this.” Harley said with a smile. “A floating platform the size of Rhode Island sitting at the heart of the vortex of ocean currents. Constructed of and by nanites that convert any floating debris they touch into either more nanites or useable component materials. I’m thinking mostly giant spools of plastic.”

“And what would be done with all these recycled materials?” Hamilton asked.

“In exchange for running and guarding the platform the Atlanteans would get first pick of the materials.” Ivy said calmly. “But there is going to be more than enough to justify Wayne Enterprises hauling away most of it in ships. Wayne and Star Labs can split that portion however they like.”

“Why haven’t you done this already?” Kaldur’ahm asked.

“Ha.” Harley laughed. “I can just see the headlines now. Supervillains release deadly mechanical swarm into ocean. Justice League powerless to stop them. No we aren’t doing that. We called you all here to play various, important roles in this plan. Atom, Professor Hamilton and I will build the initial batch of nanites. If you guys know of any other engineers or scientists who’d like to help then give them a call.”

“I think Cyborg would be able to offer a great deal of assistance in this.” Atom said.

“Perfect!” Ivy replied. “The more heroes we can tack onto the public face of this the better.”

“Once the platform is built it would officially be Atlantean soil.” Harley went on. “Aquaman we are asking you to station troops and guard the island how you see fit. Once this first one is fully up and running we can explore the possibility of putting smaller ones in other ocean vortexes.”

“I like this.” Aquaman said as a smile grew across his face. “I like this very much. Thank you ladies for bringing forth this solution to one of my most vexing issues with the practices of the surface world. I can only hope one day I am able to repay you.”

“Excellent.” Harley cheered. “Any other questions or concerns?”

“What brought on this desire to help heal the oceans?” Garth asked.

“This is our planet.” Ivy said with bold certainty. “Life on land affects and is affected by life in the seas.”

“Everything is connected.” Harley added as she took Ivy’s hand. “Crusading to save one while ignoring the other is pointless.”

“I couldn’t agree more.” Professor Hamilton said as he stood and gathered the materials before him. “I’ll set the Metropolis labs to work on this right away. Atom if you would contact Cyborg and the two of you could join my teams it would be most appreciated.”

“Agreed.” Atom said.

“I’ll begin smoothing out the legal and political hurdles some fools are sure to throw in our way.” Lucius said as he stood. “I’ll also have Wayne Shipping begin preparations to reroute our shipping lanes in the Pacific to pass by the platform.”

“I’ll dispatch a portion of the fleet to the target area in the next few days.” Aquaman said. “Once the platform is ready they’ll move in and take care of the routine upkeep.”

“One last thing.” Atom said causing everyone to look his way. “Superman has been asking me to put forth the possibility of getting one of those crystal display screens for your crystal eyes. He seems remarkably excited about the idea.”

Harley turned to Ivy and let out a wide smile. She then turned back to Atom and put forth a compromise.

“Now that I think about it I’m certain the Watchtower would be the perfect place to coordinate the initial dispersal of nanites. We could put one in while wrapping up this mission.” Harley said.

“Excellent idea.” Atom replied with relief that they had already guessed where Superman wanted the screen to go.

“I think that wraps everything up for today.” Harley stated with a smile. “It was good meeting with you all. I think we’ll all enjoy working together.”

With newfound cheer the Atlanteans returned to their ship. The Atom, Lucius and Hamilton gathered up the schematics data, plants and cases of research data and made their way to the nearest hidden Zeta tube. They had great news to bring to the Watchtower. The next few days were sure to be full of surprises.

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

“Recognized – Atom – One Three – Cyborg – One Five – Harley Quinn – A One Nine – Poison Ivy – A Two Zero.” The AI voice echoed through the bridge of the Watchtower.

“And of course you guys have your own teleporters.” Harley called out as she stepped onto the bridge of the massive satellite. The blonde hacker whistled appreciatively as she took in the sight of the rough hewn stonework and the impressive array of holographic screens and monitors around the command center of the orbiting headquarters. “I gotta say I like what you’ve done with the place.”

“Ooh Sweetie look!” Ivy said as she joined her Love. “They have a biosphere up here. Look at all the lovely plants and cute little birds.”

“Not half as lovely as you Baby.” Harley whispered as she wrapped an arm around her Love.

“I was wondering when you four would finally make it up here.” Professor Hamilton said with a warm smile as he walked up to the group.

“Just had to give them the cursory tour of the Hall.” Cyborg said. The young man whose body was more machine than man smiled as he shook hands with the scientist. The work they had all done at Star Labs over the last week was going to finally pay off.

“Yes, the Zeta platform hidden in the Hall is one of our more impressive toys.” Atom said with a grin.

“So these Zeta teleporters, are they alien tech or something Star Labs, Wayne Enterprises, or Queen Industries cooked up?” Harley asked.

“Star Labs reverse engineered some advanced technology the League found on a mission.” Hamilton explained. “Why would you think Wayne Enterprises or Queen Industries are involved?”

“Well look at this place.” Harley said with a wave of her hands. “Someone with deep pockets has to be hiding the bill in his quarterly reports and it sure as hell isn’t Lex Luthor.”

“Very good guesses.” Superman admitted as he floated towards them. “But no, we can’t reveal our backers just yet.”

“Of course.” Ivy said before putting on a smile and looking at the man of steel. “So are you ready to save the oceans?”

“Very.” Superman replied before putting on a curious look. “So does this nanite bomb have a blast radius and will it eat my clothes?”

“Very funny.” Harley said as she handed a silver orb to the Kryptonian. “No blast or boom. Just press the button and set it down on the surface.”

“Good to know.” He smiled back before turning and flying towards the Zeta chambers.

“Recognized – Superman – Zero One.” The AI voice droned as Superman vanished in a flash of light.

“You guys finally made it up here!” Catwoman cheered as she ran up and hugged Ivy and then Harley. “I have to introduce you gals to someone. She’s been dying to thank the two of you.”

“Is this them?” A voice asked as Harley and Ivy turned to see a woman with long black hair wearing fishnet stockings, a fitted jacket with coattails, and a top hat hurry to join Catwoman by them.

“Thank you both so much.” Zatanna said as she too pulled the couple into a tight embrace. “I can’t even begin to thank you for giving my father his life back. He means everything to me.”

“It was our pleasure.” Ivy whispered into the magician’s ear.

“If you want we’ll show you the spell we used.” Harley added as Zatanna released them and stood back to stare with tears starting to form in the corners of her eyes.

“I’d like that.” She said after taking a moment to collect herself.

“Why don’t we show you ladies around the place after the big guy finishes this cleanup thing.” Catwoman said with slightly over enthusiastic cheer.

“Sounds great.” Ivy replied as she and Harley followed the scientists to the control and communication consoles on the bridge.

“Can’t wait for the after party.” Harley added with a grin.

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

Superman took another slow lap around the mass of floating debris. It stretched out beneath him for miles. Farther than the human eye could see. Truth be told, not even he could see the edges while hovering just over the middle. It was no wonder Aquaman held such disdain for the surface world politics that refused to see this problem.

The good news was it had only taken a week for the minds at Star Labs and the Atlantis Science Council, along with Atom and Cyborg, to take Harley’s incredibly advanced schematics and turn out a workable device. The programming was already written but the former psychiatrist had been adamant about having multiple scientists check her coding for any “villainy type stuff.”

So here he was. Floating five feet above the surface of the Pacific Ocean and he couldn’t see an inch of open water in any direction. He smiled as he realized how much things were going to change after he pressed the button on the small silver ball they had given him.

“You’re just over the target site Superman.” Harley’s voice came from the ear piece he wore to communicate with the Watchtower. “Anywhere in there should be perfect.”

“Copy that.” He responded as he slowed his flight. “So Harley, tell me again why you wanted me to be the one for this job.”

“Ha.” She let out a short laugh. “You know what people think of you Big Guy. Aside from Luthor, they practically worship you. Some of us mere mortals actually do worship you. I couldn’t be the one to press that button, but you can.”

“I think a great many people have come to depend on the good things you’ve done for this world.” Superman said with honest approval in his voice.

“Yeah.” She replied before letting out another light laugh. “And some will always see me as that evil dyke that helped the crazy plant chick escape from Arkham. It’s better for this whole project if it’s your finger on the button.”

“I see your point.” The man of steel sighed. “At least it looks like Aquaman will be rejoining the League thanks to this. You have no idea how grateful I am to you for making that a possibility.”

“I gotta figure you’ve saved my life, what? A few hundred times?” Harley said. “Each time you single handedly stopped the world from ending. I’d say we’re even for that, but I can never repay you for all the times you saved Ivy’s life too. So thank you.” She finished with a whisper.

“You really love her don’t you?” He asked.

“That’s what the little pink ring on my finger says.” Harley answered with a small laugh. “She’s my Lesbian Gay Type Lover.”

“I guess that was a silly question.” Superman admitted. “But I liked the answer. It’s sweet.”

Before the conversation could grow any more personal Superman leaned down towards the plastic riddled ocean surface with the nanite device in hand. He pressed the button as it touched the mounds of floating trash.

Almost at once the ball dissolved into a silver ooze that spread outwards. He could see with his visual powers that rivaled any microscope that the nanites were working perfectly at breaking down the trash. It wouldn’t be long now.

“Mission complete.” Superman said into the communicator. “Everything looks good down here.”

He could hear cheers come in through the ear piece and smiled. No doubt there would be a celebration on the Watchtower. With renewed joy Superman set off for the nearest Zeta tube. He didn’t want to miss the party.

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

Professor Emil Hamilton smiled as the culmination of the last week’s work paid off. The oceans would never be the same thanks to the tireless efforts of his team and these heroes. Before he could turn to seek out the two women chiefly responsible for the breakthrough he was overcome with a strange sensation.

His eyes closed and a part of his conscious mind quietly took a vacation. As he looked up once more he knew what he had to do. With casual ease he walked across The Atom’s lab where he had been monitoring the deployment and slipped a tiny red chip with oddly designed circuitry into his palm.

“We’ve done it Atom.” Hamilton said as he brought the hand to rest on Atom’s back.

Atom smiled, and then his eyes closed. He knew what he had to do. He took a dozen of the red chips from Hamilton and the two men set off. They had a mission to complete.

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

Harley was on the bridge by herself for the moment. She decided now would be the perfect time to give the league the crystal view screen and links to the various crystal eyes she and Ivy had planted all over the Earth and the solar system.

The hacker brought her ring hand up to focus her energies on a spot to the side of the bridge’s other consoles. With a heart full of Love she brought a crystal seed into existence. She nurtured it to grow into the form she desired. A pillar took shape and grew to her waist height. Then it widened into a large flat oval at least twice the size of the one she had put in the Love Star. Two other pillars sprouted from the bottom of the screen and attached themselves to the floor. Several spines extended from the back and anchored themselves to the stone obelisk like wall that formed one side of the Watchtower’s bridge.

Deciding to add a little more utility to the creation for non ring wielders, Harley focused her attention on the support pillar at the center of the screen. It grew slightly at its top and a long flat panel extended out along the bottom of the screen. Buttons formed in the layout of a standard keyboard in three places. Along the top of each set of keys was a row of oversized buttons on which she put the almost universal symbols for play, pause, record, fast forward, rewind, and shuffle. They would certainly have a lot of fun with this.

“That looks amazing.” Batman said as he strolled up. “Superman is going to love it.” He went to put a friendly hand on Harley’s shoulder but was suddenly hit with a strange shock and thrown back a good twelve feet.

Harley looked up in complete surprise. Her wards should only have gone off if someone was trying to plant something on her that would completely overwrite her mind. Something foul was going on within the League. Before she could even ask what the caped crusader was planning he was on the offensive again.

Batman threw punch after punch as he flowed from one martial art style to another. Luckily for Harley she had spent a ridiculous number of lifetimes watching a certain petite blonde fight monsters that almost always loomed over her. Harley more than knew how to handle herself.

Harley blocked a punch and brought her leg around to sweep batman’s knees. As her leg connected she threw a deliberate punch directly to the man’s throat. Batman went down and couldn’t react for a moment. It was all she needed. With a wave of her hand Harley tapped into the Love Bruce Wayne held in his heart for Selina Kyle and the fight was won. Pink crystal formed around Batman and completely cocooned him.

Before Harley could take another breath she felt pain coming through the connection she shared with her Love. Ivy was in trouble. Harley held her ring aloft and vanished in a swirl of pink light.

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

Ivy was in the gardens on the lover level of the Watchtower’s biosphere taking in the beauty of the wide array of plants the league had grown within yards of the cold vacuum of space. It truly was an amazing feeling for the plant woman.

“Hey Ivy.” She heard a voice behind her yell in excitement. She turned to see Catwoman, Black Canary and Green Arrow approaching her with smiles.

“I was wondering where you had gotten off to. I haven’t had a chance to catch up with you ever since you got your new orgasm buddy.” Catwoman said as she went to hug her old friend.

“Sorry about that Catwoman.” Ivy replied. “I guess I have been a little wrapped up lately. How have you?” Her question was cut off as Catwoman’s hand triggered a defensive ward Harley had insisted they develop and keep up whenever they were out and about.

The cat burglar shrieked as she was thrown back several yards. Both Green Arrow and Black Canary went into defensive combat stances immediately. That was their big mistake.

Ivy put out both hands and enveloped the Archer and his girlfriend in pink crystals. The blonde’s sonic scream might have been the only weapon the League had that could safely free them. With it out of the way she was free to ask the most pertinent question.

“Damn it Selina! What the fuck was that?” Ivy yelled. “That ward is only supposed to go off if I’m in danger of becoming a mindless slave. Since when do you play with toys like that?”

“Well I guess if I can’t join ‘em I’ll just have to kill ‘em.” Catwoman said as she got up. With a quick sprint she launched into a series of flips that brought her right back to Ivy.

Unfortunately for her Ivy had already grown a large plant to reach out and grasp the woman just before she came within striking distance. As thick vines wrapped around Catwoman Ivy looked around again and saw trouble on its way.

Wonder Woman was flying right towards Ivy with her sword drawn. It was all Ivy could do to bring up as thick of a protective shield as she could. Wonder Woman slammed into the construct of pink light and continued to hammer away. Ivy kept her concentration up but could feel strain starting to take effect.

Just as the shield shattered and Wonder Woman brought a fist up to strike Ivy in the stomach a bright pink light blossomed at her side and a boot connected hard with the Amazonian’s face.

“You always go too easy on them.” Harley said with a smile as she cradled her Love, and flew the two of them back to the cluster of Zeta tubes near the bridge. The sight awaiting them stopped her cold.

Superman, Flash, Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Red Tornado, Captain Marvel, and the Martian Manhunter all stood between her and the primary exit. Cyborg was standing at the Zeta platform. He entered a combination into a nearby console and all three tubes powered down immediately. Wonder Woman flew up behind them and took a defensive stance blocking any chance of retreat.

“Well this is certainly going put a damper on things.” Ivy muttered as she clutched her injured stomach.

“Hush baby.” Harley whispered. “I’ll take care of it.”

Harley set down on the large circular plateau in the center of the Bridge. She walked Ivy Over to one side and laid her down. With a smile she stared lovingly into the emerald woman’s eyes and assured her everything would be alright.

“Put up a shield my Love.” Harley whispered. “You’re gonna get a great view of the show.”

Ivy cooperated and put up a tight spherical shield. With a smile Harley stood and turned to face the assembled heavy hitters of the Justice League. Without even batting an eye she walked through her Love’s barrier and strode to the center of the room with no shields of her own to speak of. They had celebrated in their traditional fashion the day they learned that no amount of hard light projections their rings made could keep them from being able to touch one another. Little shows of their unique mastery of the alien weapons always put a smirk on Harley’s face. Nuance indeed.

“This may not be the exact quote but here goes.” Harley called out to the heroes standing in her way. “Twenty enter. Two women leave. Welcome to thunder dome bitches.”

The three green lanterns leapt at her with frightening speed. Harley simply threw out her hand, releasing three batarang like devices she had designed. The tiny projectiles were easily snatched out of the air by each Lantern. The men smirked as they snidely took appraisal of the attack. Then each device released a burst of noxious gas, enveloping the men of the Green Lantern Corps. Hal, John, and Guy each fell to their knees coughing.

“Did I get ya?” Harley asked loudly. “Cause it looks like I gotcha!”

Each man looked up at the smug Star Sapphire with a brief glare on their face before recoiling in terror. Before their eyes stood a horrific monster from out of their most graphic nightmares. Each laugh the beast let out struck terror in their hearts as they quickly scrambled backwards along the floor. The light from the green rings on their fingers died out as the will of men failed.

“So few people have the imagination to use Scarecrow’s work to its full potential.” Harley mused. She didn’t take long to savor her victory as two of the biggest threats came barreling towards her.

“I conjure thee, vine of suffering, for my foe to know pain.” Harley chanted as Superman and Captain Marvel neared.

“Come forth, beast of nightmares, to bring my victim low.” She spoke as a sickly purple light blossomed in her hand. Yellow vines erupted into being and spread out form a cluster of brighter yellow flowers in her hand. She reared back and threw the tangle directly at the man of steel.

The plant creature hit him in the chest. The flowers seemed to take root in the giant “S” over his sternum as vines wrapped around his torso and limbs. Superman was sapped of all his momentum. He came to a stop and fell to his knees as tears began to build in the corners of his eyes.

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

“Hmm hey, clothes.” Clark Kent said with a cheery smile as he buttoned up the white shirt.

“Better not get used to ‘em.” Tara smirked as she stood before him wearing a light blue sweater and blue jeans.

“Ooh, yes ma’am.” Clark replied as he hooked a finger through a belt loop on the honey blonde’s pants and pulled her in for another kiss. The love they had rekindled over the last few days was perhaps the most important thing in his life. Loosing Tara and plunging even deeper into dark magic had nearly destroyed him. The road his recovery had taken had been long and hard, but with the help of his friends he had made it. Now Tara had taken him back and his life was once again complete.

As the kiss turned into a warm hug Tara rested her chin on Clark’s shoulder. She looked out the back window and saw someone she had not expected to be walking around their back yard.

“Bruce.” Tara said.

“Okay not the reaction I was fishing for.” Clark remarked as he let his love go to the window while he went to the dresser to find his glasses.

“No he’s here.” Tara clarified.

“Think they’re making up?” Clark asked as he looked back to his curvy love with a smile.

Tara spun around letting her long hair swirl through the air. With another coy smile she looked up to Clark’s eyes and smirked.

“I hope so, that’s the best part.”

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

Captain Marvel stopped to stare at the now immobilized Superman. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. To think the mighty Superman could be felled so easily by a strange yellow plant. Taking the time to gawk soon turned out to be a mistake.

“Shouldn’t let your guard down like that Captain.” Harley whispered in the man’s ear.

Captain Marvel spun around and came face to face with Harley Quinn. Before he could even think to react she grabbed his face with one hand and began a new chant.

“Back from whence you came. Leave this mortal form. Revert!” Harley intoned.

Lightning struck Captain Marvel, enveloping he and his foe in smoke. As it slowly cleared all those present stared in shock at the sight of Harley Quinn holding a struggling ten year old boy by his face. He lightly struggled as his feet dangled just off the ground.

“Be gone the gift of gab. Be gone the Siren’s call. Silencio!” Harley chanted as the boy’s muffled cries ceased.

She let him fall to the floor. He came to land on his rear and looked up at the witch standing before him. His lips moved, hastily trying to shout out one word over and over. Yet no sound escaped his throat.

“Run along boy.” Harley said before stepping past him to face her next foe.

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

Loud bangs could be heard from outside as glass shattered and fresh blood splattered across Clark’s face and shirt.

“Your shirt?” Tara asked with confusion in her eyes before she fell.

“Tara?” Clark said before he fell to her side. “Tara! Baby! Baby come on, get up!” He cried as the tears began to flow freely and his world ended.

“No, no, no!” Clark wept. He felt the darkness inside take hold once more.

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

Harley ducked and dodged as Wonder Woman continued her relentless assault. Just as it looked like the Amazonian would finally grasp the petite woman by the throat Harley fell into a back flip, bringing her boot to once again contact hard with Wonder Woman’s jaw.

The princess staggered backwards a few steps as Harley continued her flips to the other side of the room. As she regained her senses Wonder Woman grew tired of the prolonged battle and decided to end things. She drew her magic lasso and readied it to ensnare her foe.

As she sent it sailing through the air towards Harley the Star Sapphire smirked. With a wave of her hand the lasso took on new life of its own and turned back on Wonder Woman. Before she could even shake the shocked look from her face the Amazonian Princess was bound in her own golden ropes.

“Better luck next time Princess.” Harley said with a laugh.

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

“It’s something isn’t it?” Clarke whispered As Warren writhed in agony with his lips sewn shut. “One tiny piece of metal destroys everything.”

Warren’s muffled screams could barely be heard as the bullet slowly traveled through the organs in his chest. His eyes pleaded with Clark to stop this.

“It ripped her insides out.” Clark said with a mournful voice. “Took her light away. From me. From the world. Now the one person who should be here is gone. And a waste like you gets to live.” He paused to look at the blood slowly seeping out of the wound in Warren’s chest. “One tiny piece of metal.”

“Can you feel it now?” Clark asked the dying man before him. “I said, can you feel it?” Clark waved his hand and the threads that had sewn his victim’s lips shut vanished.

“Please god!” Warren screamed as he was once again freed to speak. He continued to beg and grovel in desperation. Grasping at anything that would convince Clark to let him live.

“Clark!” Buffy called, causing the man to look up and see that the Slayer was fast approaching with Bruce and Selina.

Warren continued talking about all the people and things Clark would lose if he didn’t free the pathetic murderer. As if he could lose anymore than he already had. Clark raised one hand and spoke with a dull emotionless voice.

“Bored now.”

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

Catwoman had freed herself and was attempting to square off with Harley up close while Zatanna readied a spell. Unfortunately for them Harley raised her ring and with a flash of light tapped into the love in their hearts. They were encased in crystals before they knew what was going on.

That was when a fist came out of nowhere and connected with Harley’s jaw. She staggered back as the Flash rounded the room and prepared for another charge.

Harley slipped one hand into the pouch at her side. She pulled it out, revealing a strange glove with a glowing blue disc on the palm. With a smirk across her now bleeding lips Harley pointed her hand at the floor and with brief pulse a thin coating of ice covered the chamber.

The Flash was already running headfirst into the ice and slipped. His momentum carried him right past Harley who reached out and tapped him lightly as he passed.

By the time the world’s fastest man slowed to a stop on the far side of the room he was completely encased in pink crystal.

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

Clark stood atop Kingman’s Bluff before the Statue of Proserpexa. He was ready to put an end to all the world’s suffering. As he sent his dark energies into the ancient statue of the demon the ground around him slowly began to burn. It seemed that nothing could stand in his way.

That was when the beam of mystic energies was cut off. As the glare cleared he saw Bruce standing between him and the Statue.

“Hey black eyed guy.” Bruce said with a serious look the belied the casual tone. “What’cha doing?”

“Get out of here.” Clark ordered.

“Ah no.” Bruce replied. “You’re not the only one with powers you know. You may be a hopped up uberwitch, but this carpenter can drywall you into next century.”

“I’m not joking Bruce. Get out of my way, now.” Clark said as he released a stream of dark energies at his old friend.

Bruce was thrown back and fell to the ground at the statue’s feet. Clark began the ritual again, only for Bruce to once more stand up directly in the beam blocking all the energy Clark sent into the statue.

“You can’t stop this.” Clark warned.

“Yeah, I get that.” Bruce wheezed. “It’s just, where else am I gonna go? You’ve been my best friend my whole life. World gonna end? Where else would I wanna be?”

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

Martian Manhunter stood before Harley Quinn. He knew he had to end this now before they lost anymore ground to the enemy. Putting aside his previous fears he readied his mind to strike at the woman directly.

Harley smirked as his psychic assault hit her considerable defenses. With a wicked smile she let down the first line of barriers and exposed the Martian to the second layer of defense she and her Love had long ago devised for such occasions.

The screams of the Martian echoed throughout the bridge of the Watchtower as his mind was overloaded with thoughts and memories from lives lived long ago.

“That was the first fifty J’onn.” Harley said as she walked up to loom over the now prone man whose green body shifted back to his natural Martian form. “I got plenty more where those came from.”

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

“Shut up!” Clark cried as he sent another wave of dark lightning at Bruce. The man staggered briefly but was soon up again.

“I love you Clark.” Bruce repeated.

“Stop!” Clark demanded as he sent out another stream of energy that did next to nothing.

“I love you.” Bruce said again and again.

“Stop!” Clark begged as the tears overcame him once more. He batted away at Bruce’s lightly bleeding chest with barely clenched fists. It wasn’t long before sobs wracked his entire body. Bruce enveloped him in a fierce hug and both men fell to their knees.

“I love you.” Bruce promised again as Clark continued to wail and sob. Before too long the dark veins covering his face melted away. The two friends sat there on Kingman’s Bluff as the pain and grief from the last day and a half overtook them. The world was saved.

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

Cyborg and Red Tornado had used their advanced systems to analyze Harley’s attacks. They both charged her from opposite angles planning to fully exploit the weaknesses they had detected.

With a flick of either wrist the blonde sent out a metallic disc towards each of her foes. The devices affixed themselves to their chestplates and sent out a steady electromagnetic pulse.

Red Tornado was down for good as his systems rebooted. Cyborg faired slightly better. His mechanical parts seized up while his organic parts watched in horror as he was encased in crystal like most of his team.

Harley turned to face Ivy and began the short walk back to her Love. From the side a small blue and red object flew at her holding a strange red chip. With a wave of her hand the Atom was swatted out of the air and encased in crystal. He fell to the floor with a dull thud and rolled into a corner.

“Ms. Quinn help me!” She heard a man call. “They all went mad suddenly. It’s as though they were possessed.”

“Nice try Hamilton, or whoever is pulling the strings here.” Harley said as she used the power of her ring to bind the Professor in pink light. As she was waving the poor scientists around the room strange red chips fell from his pockets.

“Well would ya look at that.” Harley said as she picked one up with another tendril of pink light. “These must be the little buggers causing all the trouble. I may owe some of you an apology after this is over.” Harley said as she stood over a bound Wonder Woman and encased her in more pink crystals.

“We have to find a way to free them.” Ivy said as she stood, leaning heavily against the stone wall of the bridge.

“Of course.” Harley said as she walked up to her love and helped use the power of their rings to heal the weakened plant woman. “And then we’ll make whoever did this pay.”

Harley walked up to the holographic terminal and began entering commands into the system. Minutes later she was done and the holographic keyboard disappeared.

“Computer! Command override protocol. Authorization: Red Witch of Sunnydale the Wicked Witch of the West Coast.” Harley ordered.

“Access Granted. Awaiting Commands.” The AI droned in a bored voice.

“Total lockdown, seal all bulkheads, keep the Zeta system offline, and cover every entrance to the command chamber in force shields. No one gets in or out.” The Star Sapphire commanded.

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

It had been an hour since Harley and Ivy gathered all of the fallen League members on the bridge. With the exception of Superman, the Martian and Red Tornado all were encased in crystals. Even Professor Hamilton.

They had studied the red chips and found they contained elements of advanced technology, mysticism, and xenobiological organics throughout the design. Fortunately they had devised a countermeasure to deactivate the chips and extract them safely from their hosts.

One by one Harley and Ivy walked up to each crystal cocoon and released the hero imprisoned within. Before they could regain their senses each was infused with a solution of enchanted nanites. Once they made contact with the control chips each chip detached from their victim’s nervous system, phased out of the body, and fell to the floor dead.

As soon as the nanites had worked their magic the EMP discs were removed from Cyborg and Red Tornado, Wonder Woman was untied, almost all were free.

Except of course for Superman and Martian Manhunter . They still remained in states of complete catatonia.

“Why aren’t they free yet?” Wonder Woman asked menacingly. “Haven’t you given them the antidote yet?”

“Oh we did.” Harley said with casual disregard. “They should come out of it any second now.”

“That plant looks like the Black Mercy one of our enemies used to try entrapping Superman in a dream world.” Batman remarked. “When he wakes up he’s going to be furious at what you put him through.”

“Don’t worry.” Ivy said. “It isn’t the Black Mercy.”

“Then what?” Green Arrow began but was cut off.

“It’s the Yellow Malice.” Harley chimed in. “Close cousins, but they have wildly different results. He isn’t living through some beautiful fantasy world he has to give up on in order to free himself.”

“What did you put him through then?” Wonder Woman asked with cold menace in her voice.

“My absolute worst day.” Harley said. “And believe me, it was about ten times worse than any of you can imagine. You think that fight we had was bad, well.” She paused for a long moment. “Let’s just say you haven’t seen me at my worst.”

“Bats I thought you said Ivy was the evil genius of the two of them.” Captain Marvel said. He had been quick to put his “adult” form back on once the nanites healed him.

“Oh no, Harley is way smarter than me.” Ivy said with a smirk. “And she’s right you guys don’t want to try us again.”

“Okay we get it.” Cyborg said. “No fighting, right guys? Let’s just heal J’onn and Superman and go about figuring out who did this to all of us.”

“They’re healed.” Harley said. “They just need a few minutes to snap out of it. What they are seeing right now is.”

“Tara!” The Martian Manhunter screamed as he sat bolt upright. In the middle of the room. “Oh Goddess.” He muttered to himself.

“J’onn!” Several of his teammates cried as they went to check on him.

“Give him a minute to process.” Harley said softly as she entered more commands into the computer to end the lockdown and return system control to the League.

“The things you’ve lived through.” J’onn muttered as he slowly took on his more human looking green form.

“I only let you take a peek at the first fifty Martian.” Harley said calmly. “Pray I don’t show you any more. I would advise against using psionic attacks against us in the future. If you had come at me with your other powers you might have won, but I suspect you knew that.”

“Indeed.” The Martian admitted. “On some level I was able to suggest a mental attack even though I knew your defenses would be too much for me. I don’t think the ones pulling our strings saw that coming.”

“Thank you for going easy on me then.” Harley said with a smile. “And sorry if some of the demons I’ve seen give you nightmares.”

“What about Superman?” Zatanna asked, growing slightly worried that the plant was still clinging to him.

“I’ll dismiss it on our way out.” Harley said quietly.

“Out?” Wonder Woman asked. “What about this attack?”

“We’re going to deal with them now.” Ivy stated. “You guys should rest up.”

“When you say deal.” Catwoman said already knowing the answer she was afraid to confirm.

“They infiltrated your headquarters using the good Professor here.” Harley said. “That means they may have my nanotech designs and a means of controlling the ones we released, or be mass producing their own for some evil purpose. But more importantly they used you to hurt the woman I Love.” Harley finished with a tone of grim determination. “They are done for.”

“You can’t just kill them.” Captain Marvel said as a surprising number of heroes around him remained silent. There were many conflicting emotions on the issue at hand.

“Watch me.” Harley said as she took Ivy’s hand. “Release!” She called out as the two of them were enveloped in pink light. They vanished into thin air while the Yellow Malice wrapped around Superman’s chest dissolved. He gasped in a breath of fresh air as the tears continued to stream down his face.

“Superman?” Wonder Woman said as she went to his side.

“Oh god.” He moaned as the emotions he had felt and the actions taken sunk in. “I can’t believe all that happened.”

“Harley said she made you relive her worst day.” Batman said as he kneeled down next to the man.

“Oh Bruce.” Superman whispered as he pulled Batman into a hug and cried into his shoulder. “It was so horrible.”

“Okay that is unsettling.” Flash said.

“Leave him be.” Martian Manhunter ordered. “I too know what he just went through and I can’t imagine how much harder it was for him feeling all of Ms. Quinn’s emotions while he sought vengeance.”

“I have to go.” Superman said as he suddenly released Batman and stood. “There’s somewhere I have to be. I have to tell her.” He muttered as he walked towards the Zeta platform.

“Um, we kinda have a crisis here.” Flash called to him.

“You can handle it.” Superman shot back. “Cyborg, get these damn Zeta tubes turned on again.”

“Sure thing Superman.” Cyborg said as he sprinted over to the agitated Kryptonian and entered in the sequence to power up the system once more.

“Let him go.” Martian Manhunter said as the rest of the League looked on. “We have to make sure no one in Atlantis or Star Labs was also compromised.”

“Maybe check Wayne Enterprises too.” Atom added. “If they targeted Hamilton they also may have gone after Fox.”

“J’onn, are you okay?” Wonder Woman asked with a worried tone.

“I will be Diana.” The Martian replied as he rubbed the bridge of his nose.

“Good.” Batman remarked as he went up to Hal, John and Guy to inoculate the three Green Lanterns against Scarecrow’s gas.

Atom quickly checked one monitor to see how the Nanite Island was progressing. So far everything was clear and there were no signs of deviation from Harley’s original programming. At least this crisis hadn’t ruined a full week’s worth of groundbreaking work.

Wonder Woman walked over to the new crystal monitor to the side of the bridge. She began pressing buttons and soon found herself looking at Carol Ferris on the bridge of the Love Star.

“Oh, Wonder Woman, hello.” She said with mild surprise. “I didn’t expect to find you on one of these channels.”

“Yes, I am surprised as well.” Wonder Woman replied. “Tell me Carol, has anything strange happened over there recently?”

“No just mopping up the last of the reds.” Carol said. “All of the female lantern’s ring’s turned Violet. So we got a new batch of Star Sapphires. Most of the males just wanted to return to what homes they may have left. A few asked to join the Blue Lantern Corps. Saint Walker gladly took them in.”

“That’s nice but has anyone shown signs of their minds being controlled by outside forces?” Wonder Woman asked.

“Very funny Diana but the rings don’t make any of us lash out like the Star Sapphire stone used to.” Carol said. “No one has gone crazy over here.”

“Thank Hera.” Wonder Woman replied.

“Did.” Carol began before faltering slightly. “Did something happen to you guys?”

“Where do I even begin?” Wonder Woman replied with a light smile.

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

Superman arrived at the apartment. He slipped in quietly through the balcony and followed his superhuman ears to the source of the strong heartbeat he heard within the mid sized loft. The man of steel came to the bedroom door and knocked softly. It opened to reveal a slender brunette wearing an oversized men’s shirt.

“Hey Smallville.” Lois Lane smiled as she leaned against the doorframe. “You left in such a rush this morning I was starting to think you were sick of me.”

He couldn’t hold back anymore. With his strong arms Superman scooped up the woman he loved and kissed her passionately. Lois melted into the embrace for several long moments before curiosity got the better of her.

“Okay.” She sighed as he pulled his lips away. “What was that about?”

“I love you Lois.” Superman said.

“Clark?” She asked growing nervous as he set her back down on the floor.

“I’ve been a fool.” He went on. “You are the most important part of my life. I love you and I can no longer ignore what I’ve know in my heart to be true since the first day I met you.”

“Clark, you’re scaring me a little.” Lois said before noticing something that made her nervous. “Your eyes look puffy. Have you been crying?”

“I met someone today. Really met them. Lived through the worst moments of their life. She lost everything. She spent a lifetime regretting the things she let get in the way of love.” Superman replied. “I won’t make those mistakes. I won’t put off the life I’ve always wanted.”

Lois watched in shock and terror as the man before her knelt down on one knee. Her hands moved on their own to cover her mouth. He reached behind his back and pulled out a small box. It opened to reveal a white gold ring with a diamond the size of one of her thumbnails.

“Lois Lane will you marry me?” Clark Kent asked the love of his life.

Tears formed in the reporter’s eyes as all the air escaped from her lungs. All she could manage were silent nods over and over as a huge smile broke out on her fiancé’s face.

_________________
Time and Time Again


Last edited by Citanul on Wed Nov 26, 2014 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 7:49 am 
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Dibs-y Goodness...

Yay for excellent update-y goodness... I guess someone is going to get a royal ass kicking from pissed off Harley & Ivy...

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2014 2:58 pm 
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did martian manhunter only see fights with demons and other foes from their first fifty lives, or did he get glimpses of more than that?

Also, how come they don't mix up a similar serum giving them the traits of a slayer in their other lives?

And awesome fight scene with harley kicking some ass.
and now she's off to seriously kick whoever's ass for hurting ivy!

and I lol the "welcome to thunder dome bitches."

Can't wait for the next update!


Last edited by mysticrain on Tue Dec 02, 2014 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 1:43 am 
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Location: Beyond the orbit of Mars and accelerating...
Nice episode!

Good to see Tara and Willow inspiring Clark.

Also, interesting use of the multiple lifetimes of history.
It was really good that it's acknowledged, and has impact.



and heh, the 'Pink' lanterns are cool.

beating people with the power of love.
To Quote Faolan228:

Quote:
"Friendship is obviously magic. Love is a sorta super strong friendship. We gay people love so hard we broke 'Social Norm'. Ergo, we gay people are ultra-strong wizards."


See? It's completely true!


Anyway, as always, looking forward to the next bit. :bounce

R :flower

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 3:15 am 
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Hello Zampsa. Yes there is another round of ass kickings coming up in the next Sirens installment.

Hi Mysticrain. I'm glad you asked about what exactly it was Maritan Manhunter saw. The second J'onn came into contact with Harley's second line of mental barriers he basically had to sit down in his own mind and watch as every second of every day in Willow/Harley's first fifty lives played out on a big screen in his own brain.

That's the beauty of that psychic defense. It just inundates the mind of the mental invader with far too much data. It was different though from what Clark saw and felt. J'onn wasn't jacked into and feeling each and every one of Willow's emotions like the man of steel was. But after watching similar events play out over the course of fifty lives he got the picture.

Also good question about mixing the psuedo Slayer serum. One answer is that that is an actual thing Ivy made for Harley in the cartoons and some of the comics. Another is that it is a insanely complex mix of toxins and extracts from a dozen or so different plant species. Some key plants may not have evolved on that many of the other worlds they've lived on.

Plus, Having Willow or Tara run around, trying to keep up with multiple full power Slayers, when they didn't have the evil radar and low level psychic powers seemed like a bad idea.

Hello Azirahael. Yup Clark took the wakeup call that was Harley/Willow's first life to heart. Making use of their multiple lives seemed like a great and unique way to have them deal with "Mind Walkers." Why try to best a guy with limitless mental manipulations woven into his mind, when you can take him out of the fights for a time by making him watch your life story fifty times over.

Excellent quote. Yes the power of lesbian gay type love is a thing to behold especially when supplemented by alien power rings.

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Time and Time Again


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 3:24 am 
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Time and Time Again.

Author: Citanul

Feedback: Be kind, rewind?

Spoilers: Just about all of them. Go watch the show.

Rating: NC-17

Pairings: W/T, B/F

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: Here we are. Back in Sunnydale for a nice relaxing day of shopping that leads into a night dominated by one minor altercation.

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

Chapter 13: Deconstructing Ted

Tara awoke to the most delightful of circumstances. Willow was atop her, moaning softly in her sleep. One of the redhead’s thighs was tormenting Tara’s already aching core, and judging by the slickness Tara felt on her own thigh she was more than reciprocating on the patch of fine red curls. Perhaps most pleasing to the honey blonde was the fact that her arms were wrapped around Willow in a way that left her hands firmly grasping both of the petite redhead’s ass cheeks.

A wicked smile spread across Tara’s face as she continued to knead soft flesh with her hands while her leg ground upward, into paradise. Light whimpers escaped Willow’s lips as her hips moved of their own accord. Moments passed before Tara heard a startled response.

“Huh?” Willow asked with a slight shiver before her eyes flew open and she looked up to find a nervous grin on her love’s face. “Baby? No fair, you started without me.”

“Sorry Sweetie, but you’re the one who woke me up while working me up.” Tara replied weakly as her hips slowed.

“I didn’t say stop!” Willow cried as she worked her thigh in between Tara’s legs harder. Tara’s head flew back at the sudden forceful need the redhead awoke in her. She almost screamed in ecstasy as Willow began to nibble and suck on her breast. Before too long the petite young woman had worked her tongue around Tara’s nipple completely, letting her saliva thoroughly coat the dark aureole. Willow locked eyes with Tara before taking almost the entire breast in her mouth.

Tara bit her lip to stifle the loud moans she knew would wake at least one of the other women who lived in their house. The warring sensations of Willow’s mouth on her and Willow’s thigh working into her drove Tara over the edge. She dove headfirst into the abyss as pleasure rocked through her body.

Willow’s eyes clenched. The breast slipped from her lips as the hands clenching her ass and the thigh grinding into her already soaked curls shook viciously. Her body must have been building itself up longer than she thought because she soon joined Tara in the throes of ecstasy.

As their bodies stilled both woman luxuriated in the intimate embrace, waiting for their breathing to come under control. With a coy smirk Tara looked to the redhead resting peacefully atop her chest.

“You’re insatiable. You know that, right?” Tara said.

“I don’t recall you complaining.” Willow replied as she lightly traced a fingertip in slow circles across Tara’s chest.

“No complaints.” Tara assured with a grin. “I never have any complaints about the things you do to me Sweetie.”

“Good.” Willow said with a smug smile before slipping a hand between their bodies. “Because that was a great warm up, but I want to really make you squirm.”

Tara’s eyes widened as three slender fingers slipped into her still slick folds. Before she could let out a surprised yelp Willow’s lips devoured hers in a hungry kiss. As Willow explored Tara’s depths with a vigorous pace the honey blonde had just enough presence of mind left to raise her knee and brace her leg in a position that gave Willow’s still shaking hips something firm to slide up and down. The fresh coat of moisture trailing down Tara’s thigh was all the reassurance she needed.

Before too long Tara could feel her second orgasm of the morning about to break loose. She felt the arm Willow had wrapped around her back tighten. The hand at Tara’s aching core stirred mercilessly. Willow brought her thumb up to massage Tara’s still swollen clit. The fingers within the honey blonde curled, bringing desperately needed friction to the sensitive bump Willow loved to torment. With a fresh wave of shuddering release Tara once more felt the world melt away.

Tara’s body bucked wildly. Willow clung to her tightly as they rode out the orgasm. Once the worst of the tremors was over Tara fell back to the mattress. It took her a moment to realize Willow was still inside of her. Before she even knew what was going on Willow worked through the aftershocks of the last orgasm and brought on yet another. Tara let out a scream that was once again swallowed up by the all too eager redhead. As another round of tremors came and went Willow’s hand finally stilled.

Once the last traces of Tara’s rapture were all but gone Tara built up the strength to open her eyes and look upon the beautiful woman that held her heart.

“I love you.” Tara whispered.

“And I love you, my Tara.” Willow swore before slowly extracting her glistening fingers from Tara. With a lurid grin the still energetic redhead brought the hand up to her mouth and made sure her love got a good view as she savored every last drop.

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

“Well those two are certainly up.” Jennifer remarked with a quirked grin as she prepared breakfast and listened to yet another round of giggles coming from the upstairs bathroom.

“Just be glad you don’t have Slayer hearing Mrs. M.” Faith replied as she moved around the kitchen readying plates and silverware. “Seriously, I’m gonna need to get headphones or something.”

“You poor dear.” Jennifer said as both of them shared a look before laughing. “So what did you kids have planned for today?”

“I think we were all gonna go shopping or somethin’.” Faith replied. “Not too sure.”

“What about those assassins and that new girl Kendra?” Jennifer asked, still not sure they had told her and Joyce the whole story.

“Assassins are done. Bounty was called off after we took care of Spike. As for Special K well B and I put her on a plane a few days back. She should have made it home days ago.”

“It must be so tough on her.” Jennifer said. “Only having her watcher and no one else in her life. I can see why the girls don’t have the highest opinion of the council.”

“No doubt.” Faith said as she thought back to the scene at the airport earlier that week.

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

“T’ank ye for the new clothes.” Kendra said as she pulled her new luggage onto the curb in front of the Sunnydale Airport. The case was full of choice hand me downs both Buffy and Faith had decided to give her.

“Hey it’s the least we could do after you came all the way up here to help.” Buffy replied.

“I still don’t know if I can be trusting de word of that witch about what me watcher is supposed to do when I turn eighteen.” Kendra said as she looked between the other two Slayers.

“Can you trust the words of our watcher who confirmed everything she said?” Buffy asked.

“Maybe.” Kendra replied.

“Listen, Ken.” Faith said. “I know a lot of this is weird an all but you gotta believe Red and Blondie are looking out for all of us. Too much shit had gone down right in front of me to think otherwise. They’re good people.”

“I know this all came on suddenly but please believe me when I say we care about you Kendra.” Buffy said. “We’re all Slayers, and we’re all in this fight together. With what Willow and Tara are offering we could all have a shot at living full, happy lives while still doing the whole monster hunting gig.”

“You always do that.” Kendra said with a slight frown.

“Do what?” Buffy asked.

“You talk about Slaying like it’s a job.” The ebony girl said. “It’s not. It’s who you are.”

“You get that from your handbook?” Buffy remarked.

“From you.” Kendra answered with what might have been her first smile the entire trip.

“I guess it’s something I really can’t fight.” Buffy replied. “I’m a freak.”

“Not de only freak.” Kendra said.

“Not by a long shot B.” Faith added.

“Not anymore.” Buffy said as she took a step forward to hug her new friend.

“I don’t hug.” Kendra said as she stepped back.

“Right, no, hate hugs.” Buffy said before she and Faith waved goodbye to Kendra. The Ebony girl smiled and turned to walk off, into the airport.

“Hey, no sweat B.” Faith said as she put an arm around Buffy. “Like Red would say. You give great hug.”

“Thanks Faith.” Buffy said with a smirk as the brunette pulled her into a warm hug. “Think she’ll make it?”

“We ain’t seen the last of her.” Faith stated confidently as she held her dream girl in her arms.

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

“So you and Faith have any hot plans today?” A voice came from across the table.

“Huh?” Buffy said looking up at her mother with a confused, vacant stare.

“Plans?” Joyce repeated. “With your friends? Buffy where were you just now?”

“I was just thinking about everything we said when we dropped Kendra off at the airport.” Buffy said with a hollow tone before livening up. “We were all gonna go shopping.”

“That’s wonderful.” Joyce said with a smile. “Maybe you should think about taking your sister.”

“Alright.” Buffy said as she rolled her eyes. “Why did you ask me about Faith specifically?”

“Oh no reason.” Joyce said with a coy smile.

“Faith’s great Buffy.” Dawn said as she strolled into the dining room and made herself a plate. “You should totally bang her before Xander tries his luck.”

“Dawn!” Both Buffy and Joyce shouted in complete shock.

“Why would I sleep with Faith?” Buffy asked, looking at her sister with utter confusion.

“Young lady where did you get that kind of language?” Joyce asked trying to derail Buffy’s questions before Dawn’s outburst could ruin any hope the brunette had.

“Um, Einstein costume?” Dawn asked sheepishly.

“Is that the best you can do?” Joyce asked with a stern tone.

“No really, after theoretical physics his favorite pastime was “the ladies.” Dawn said, quickly adding an eyebrow waggle to the end of her excuse. “I cleaned that question up a lot. Also I think it was in German in my head.”

“You speak German now?” Buffy asked.

“Oh ja. Die Dinge, die ich Ihnen erzählen kann, über Essen Pussy würde Ihre Meinung zu blasen.” Dawn said as Joyce and Buffy’s jaws hit the floor.

“Oh my god that is so unfair.” Buffy said after a long pause.

“Didn’t Marie Curie know like four or five languages?” Dawn asked.

“Okay yeah, but every time I try to pick out a line in either Polish, Russian or French the other two get jumbled up in there and I get a headache.” Buffy replied with a severe pout.

“Aww, Honey.” Joyce said as she put a comforting hand on the Slayer’s shoulder. “Well, on the bright side, at least you’re acing all your science classes now.”

“Thanks mom.” Buffy said, once more rolling her eyes as she stood up from the breakfast table. “I’m gonna go take a shower and change before we head out for the day.”

Dawn and Joyce nodded as they watched Buffy leave the room. After she heard the sounds of doors closing and water running Joyce turned to her youngest with another stern look.

“Dawn I don’t want you asking Buffy questions about Faith.” Joyce stated firmly.

“How come?” Dawn asked with a perplexed tilt of her head.

“I’ve already had the talk with Faith and she is doing everything she can to build up to a relationship with your sister.” Joyce said.

“Well at least that explains why she’s been following Buffy around like a lost puppy.” Dawn remarked. “Why doesn’t she just come out and say it though?”

“Dawn, do you even remember what Buffy’s friends were like in LA?” Joyce asked.

“Oh.” Dawn whispered.

“This is something she has to come to terms with in her own time.” Joyce told Dawn as they both looked to the doorway Buffy had walked through on her way upstairs.

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

The six Scoobies walked through the main entrance of the Sunnydale Mall. They quickly moved into the largest department store there and headed off in varying directions. Faith followed Buffy to the shoe section. Tara stood by with a quirked smile as Willow and Dawn went through racks of brightly colored garments in the juniors section. Xander found a nice chair roughly halfway between the two factions of girls and parked himself there as bags piled up around him.

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

“So Dawn speaks German now.” Buffy said with exasperation evident in her voice.

“No shit?” Faith asked in surprise. “So the Brat sprechen sie deutsch. Anything cool to say or just more teen idol worship?”

“As if I’d know.” Buffy scoffed before a pair of thigh highs caught her eye. “Ooh look at these cute boots.”

“Damn B.” Faith said with an appreciative whistle. “You’d be all kinds of fine wearin’ those.”

“But they’re way too much.” Buffy said with a frown as she glanced at the price on the display rack. “Mom would totally blow a gasket if I spent that much on one pair of shoes.”

“How ‘bout I get them for ya?” Faith asked with a coy smirk.

“Oh no, Faith? I can’t just ask you to buy me things.” Buffy said, growing worried that lamenting the sticker price would put a strain on their friendship.

“Relax B.” Faith replied as a smile spread across her pouty lips. “I got all this rainy day money I’ve been squirreling away whenever Red and Blondie pay my allowance.” A slightly wicked grin slipped out before she continued. “Besides you ain’t even heard my conditions yet.”

“Conditions?” Buffy asked with an even more worried look.

“Yeah, conditions.” Faith went on. “Like if I was to buy you these kick ass boots you’d have to also pick out a cute little outfit to match. Then you have to wear them while you and I go out dancing one night. Just the two of us like. No guys crampin’ our style.”

“Well they would be great for dancing at the Bronze.” Buffy said to herself. “And I did just see this cute black skirt that would match.”

Faith could hardly contain her glee. With only the slightest prompting Buffy was already planning to wear gorgeous thigh high “Fuck Me” boots along with the obscenely small miniskirt Faith caught the blonde eyeing on the way into the store. To top it all off they would be worn on what might charitably be called their first date. The brunette was well past the point of caring about the sticker price. Seeing Buffy done up like the Goddess she was, happily grinding into Faith on the dance floor was worth any cost.

“Okay you got a deal Faith.” Buffy said at last.

“Awesome.” Faith cheered. “You’re gonna need a sexy top to go with that outfit.”

“What about you Faith?” Buffy asked with a curious tilt of her head.

“Oh don’t worry about me B.” Faith replied with a wicked smile. “I got just the thing in my closet to go with all that sexy you’re planning. We’ll be awesome together.”

Buffy let a bright smile spread across her face. She suddenly felt giddy about the idea of a night out with her fellow Slayer. She had absolutely no idea why. It even felt like her stomach was doing summersaults every time Faith called her sexy. Buffy didn’t dwell on the sensation long however. There was shopping to be done.

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

“So what’s the next big bad coming to town?” Dawn asked Willow and Tara.

“Oh Sweetie.” Tara frowned at Dawn before she looked to Willow for an answer.

“A robot, a hive mind, two cowboy vamps, and probably the fallout from one or two things we’ve already changed.” Willow rattled off with vague hand gestures.

“Okay.” Dawn relented. “How about stuff you’ve already changed? Plans for the future?” The young girl asked as she perused a rack of tee shirts with various cartoon and animal figures on the front. “Gotta be some good stories in their.”

“Well we’ve completely changed how our senior year of high school and our sophomore year of college are going to play out.” Willow said. “And as long as Angel stays in LA this year will be a lot easier as well.”

“That’s probably good.” Dawn said. “I still don’t see what my sister saw in Angel. I mean he seems nice enough, but he’s like way too old and I don’t know about you guys but the no body heat thing is a deal breaker for me.”

“I know right.” Willow replied. “I can’t even get to sleep anymore with out a certain someone’s warm body holding me.”

“Willow!” Tara cried out. The honey blonde tried to come up with a chastising rebuke but fell completely flabbergasted.

“Aww, you know I love you Baby.” Willow said as she wrapped her arms around Tara and nuzzled into her neck.

“You can’t just get out of trouble by being a Sweetie.” Tara said before falling silent as Willow began to kiss her throat. “Okay maybe you can, but stop telling Dawn about our sleeping arrangements.”

“Oh come on Tara.” Dawn complained. “She only mentioned light snuggling at best and it’s not like I don’t know you guys have been doing it around the clock for a few weeks now.”

“Young lady that is none of your business.” Tara said.

“What makes you think that Dawnie?” Willow asked, curious as to how the youngest Scoobie had caught on.

“You guys are so obvious.” Dawn said with a grin. “Tara you’ve been glowing almost nonstop. And Willow, well whenever you’re getting some you practically vibrate with energy. You’ve been bouncing all over town for weeks. When was the first time? It was that trip to Boston right? The one where you brought Faith home.”

Both witches stared at the young brunette in shock. She could apparently read them like a book. After a long pause in which Dawn became very aware that she had crossed a line they picked their jaws up off the floor.

“Dawnie we love you. You’re a part of our family, but we aren’t telling you about all the very private moments we share together.” Willow said.

“So I guess asking you guys about sex pointers for when I start dating is out of the question.” Dawn said with a downcast Summers pout.

“No Dawn, you are not asking us about that.” Tara said. “Besides you got more than enough pointers from your Halloween costume.”

“How did you know?” Dawn asked while looking up in shock.

“Oh please.” Willow said. “This isn’t the first time we let you dress as Einstein. We learned about his hobbies a long time ago.”

“But if you knew then why did you let me dress like him?” Dawn asked, still confused.

“Trust me Dawn, his baggage is a walk in the park compared to what happened when you dressed like some other guys.” Willow assured. “Dressing like Mark Twain, Ben Franklin, and Sigmund Freud turned you into a sex crazed, ego maniac. Edgar Allen Poe was almost as bad as Einstein but made you act like a mopey loner. And the Gandhi costume.”

“No way are we letting you wear the Gandhi costume again.” Tara said with a shudder.

“What’s so bad about Gandhi?” Dawn ventured with a curious grin.

“By the time you were ready to graduate high school you had slept with over half of your classmates.” Willow said with no small amount of scorn. “You were completely out of control. You even had about a dozen disciples who wouldn’t leave your side or your pants.”

“You got more ass than a cult leader who calls dibs on each of his followers’ wives!” Tara said, drawing wide eyed looks from both Willow and Dawn. “Just trying some of the spicy talk.” Tara muttered as Willow wrapped her arms around her once more.

Dawn was silent for a long moment before looking back up at the witches with a bright smile on her face. Tara quirked one eyebrow at the seemingly out of place smirk as Willow frowned in confusion. Their worry gave way to relaxed laughter as Dawn spoke.

“So then you guys are saying I’m gonna have an easier time with relationships than my sister?” Dawn asked with a smug grin.

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

“Oh Faith, stay with Xander for a bit.” Buffy said as they stood beside the young man and deposited their bags. “I want the top to be a surprise.” Buffy smiled at the brunette before running off.

“So Faith.” Xander asked, causing Faith’s eyes to pop open as she pried them off of the retreating blonde. “You gettin’ anywhere with Buffy?”

Faith just looked at the young man for a moment before bursting out with light laughter as she took a seat beside him. The call back to her question about his potential fling with the head cheerleader was just too good.

“If you count me buying her killer boots and plans for a girls’ night out getting’ somewhere then yeah, I guess I am.” Faith told her guy friend as she looked around the store for any sign of their other friends.

“Good.” Xander said with a casual smile. “You both deserve a little bit more of the happy in your lives.”

“Don’t be thinkin’ just cause you’re in on the situation you can fantasize about all the things I’m gonna do to her.” Faith said half jokingly.

“Faith, I’m a guy.” Xander remarked. “I think about all the things you two would do together each time my eyes close. It’s a completely natural process I have no control over. Like gravity and the electoral college.”

“Ha!” Faith laughed loud enough to draw strange looks from passersby. “Good one. I can’t blame you though. We make a pretty fuckin’ hot couple.”

“I’m sure that’s one of the last thoughts vampires have before you two turn them to dust.” Xander said with another easy smile.

“No doubt.” Faith replied as she saw Dawn, Willow and Tara coming. “Sup y’all?”

“Hey Faith.” Dawn said casually taking a seat beside the Slayer. “Is it true you want to bang my sister?”

“Dawn!” Willow cried out.

“Yeah but don’t tell her about it.” Faith said. “I gotta play it just right or ain’t nothin’ gonna happen.”

“Okay.” Dawn said with an exaggerated eye roll.

The topic of discussion quickly turned away from Slayer romance as the three seated Scoobies made mildly outlandish kissy faces and “aww” sounds while Tara and Willow stood by lightly rubbing their noses together. This was the state Buffy found her family in when she returned minutes later with another bag.

“Hey guys, aww don’t they make the cutest couple?” Buffy said as she joined in on the light hearted ribbing. “Is anyone else getting hungry?”

“You know it B.” Faith replied as everyone else started to nod along. “Let’s head down to that new pizza place and thug up the joint.”

With that the bags were gathered and the group made their way to the exit of the mall.

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

“What do you guys think? The Margherita, the Hawaiian and the BBQ chicken?” Willow asked as they all sat in the large booth, staring at menus.

“Sounds good Red.” Faith replied.

“Yeah that should just about do it.” Buffy added.

Willow told the waitress their order then turned to lean against Tara. The honey blonde simply put an arm around Willow and continued to play with her hair.

“So thanksgiving is just around the corner.” Xander said. “What plans did everyone have?”

“You’re all ha-having dinner at our house.” Tara stated with only a slight stutter. “Joyce and Mr. Giles too.”

“Sweet.” Faith replied. “I can’t wait to eat whatever the mom squad whips up when they do the whole iron chef thing.”

“Right, like Jennifer and Joyce are gonna have a knock down drag out over yams.” Xander said with a laugh.

“Speaking of face offs.” Buffy said before the conversation could take a stranger turn. “Any baddies we should be on the lookout for?”

“Two potential big pains I already have secret weapons tucked away to deal with, and a pair of vampire cowboys who think they’re the next Big Bad.” Willow said. “You guys should be more than equipped to take them by now.”

“Neat.” Faith remarked.

“I take it Spike and Drusilla are not in the picture anymore?” Xander asked.

“Their car’s tracking beacons were several hundred miles outside of town and moving farther away when I checked this morning.” Willow said.

“I don’t think w-we need to worry about that pair for awhile.” Tara added.

“Any companies you’re planning to take over in the next few months?” Buffy asked with a mildly sarcastic tone.

“Nope.” Willow answered. “But we are going to put the people we hired at Pentacle to work on a few big projects that won’t be ready for a while.”

“You guys will each get your own toys when we’re ready to release them to the world.” Tara said.

“What kind of toys?” Dawn asked eagerly.

“It’s a big surprise.” Willow said. “But you guys are gonna love them.”

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

Once all but a few slices of pizza were gone, and the Slayers looked suitably stuffed, Willow paid with a crisp hundred dollar bill. The Scoobies gathered up their bags and headed for the door. Xander and Dawn each grabbed napkins and the last two slices to nibble on during the walk home.

“So Dawn.” Willow began with an optimistic smile. “What’s your homeroom class like this year?”

“They’re okay I guess.” Dawn said with a noncommittal shrug. “There’s this boy named Andrew, he keeps running around with a green towel taped to his shirt. He likes to yell “All will bow before Doom!” at the top of his lungs.”

Xander couldn’t help but break out in another giggling fit at that assessment. Willow and Tara shared a look before turning back to Dawn.

“Yeah, he doesn’t really ever grow out of that phase.” Willow added, causing Faith to burst out laughing and Buffy to join in with a light giggle.

“There’s also this blonde girl named Cassie.” Dawn continued. “She seems nice, though we were talking one day and I brought up Cassandra from the Iliad. She got really quiet all of a sudden. I think her parents are going to get divorced.”

“She seems like a Sweetie.” Tara said with a knowing look to Willow. “You should hang out with her more. Maybe invite her over some time.”

“Okay.” Dawn said before growing quiet, trying to think of ways she could get the shy blonde to open up to her more.

As the gang moved onto Rovello Drive they all looked to the two homes they each spent most of their time in. The moment they reached the steps of the Summers house something put Buffy on high alert. The door was slightly ajar and she heard strange shouts coming from within.

“You guys wait here.” The blonde Slayer ordered as she rushed inside.

“Well poop.” Willow said. “It looks like he’s here early.” She then separated from Tara and went next door to her home with a huff.

“How bad is it?” Faith asked.

“It’ll be fine.” Tara affirmed. “She just has to get her secret weapon ready. Let’s go make sure Buffy is alright. Dawn, don’t get to close to him when Willow comes back.”

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

Faith leaned against the wall of Buffy’s kitchen. She had made it a point as the introductions went on to never let this new guy of Joyce’s stand between her and Dawn. Buffy would never forgive her if something happened to the Brat.

It surprised the Brunette how quickly Buffy took an immediate dislike to the new guy who seemed dead set on becoming the man of the house. Maybe catching the prick with his hands all over her mom was all it took to lump him in with all the other bad guys. Buffy and her mom were still out on the back porch having a quiet chat about the relationship.

Xander was also keeping himself in a vaguely protective position near Dawn as this “Ted” guy moved around the kitchen. Tara had been silent for most of the encounter. Something about this guy’s old fashioned, father knows best routine made them all think he’d try something stupid as soon as he learned about the two witches and their relationship status.

Luckily none of that would matter soon. Faith could hear the front door opening and closing. Red was back with whatever secret she had ready to deal with this problem.

“Hey guys.” Willow said cheerily as she walked into the kitchen. “So Ted I hear you’re a computer guy.”

“I sure am little lady.” Ted said just a little too cheerily. “From what I hear you’re starting to play around with computers yourself.”

“I sure am.” Willow said with a smile the rest of the gang could tell was a cover. “I just came up with this new gadget. Wanna take a look?” She asked as she pulled a small metallic disc from her pocket. “I think you’ll get a kick out of what it can do.”

“Why, I would be delighted little lady.” Ted said as he took several steps towards the redhead.

Faith and Xander took Tara’s earlier warning to heart and moved into defensive positions around Dawn. Buffy and Joyce were just coming in through the back door when all hell broke loose.

Just before Ted could reach out and take the device from Willow’s hand she moved faster than her friends had ever seen her move. Not anywhere near Slayer speed but it was now obvious she had been exercising in the training room more than they thought. With pinpoint accuracy she slapped the device on Ted’s chest. It stuck there and began to beep loudly.

Ted looked down and then back up to Willow with shock and no small amount of anger evident on his face before he jerked his head back suddenly.

“Want a little gravy with that?” He yelled as sparks began to radiate from the device on his chest. “Oh she just hasn’t met the right fella yet.” Smoke began to pour from his ears. “Hell of a day. Makes you feel like you’re eighteen again.” His head kept jerking from one side to another as Willow stepped back with a wicked grin on her face.

“I don’t take orders from women!” He declared. “I’m not wired that way.”

“Oh no!” Joyce cried. “Willow, what did you do?”

“I won’t stand for that kind of malarkey in my house!” Ted screamed once before going completely still and falling to the floor with a loud metallic thud.

“Ted!” Joyce cried out as Buffy grabbed her mother and held her back.

“Everything is going to be okay Joyce.” Willow promised as she pulled a pocket knife out and unfolded it. “We just need to let the drugs it gave you worked their way out of your system.”

“He drugged my mother?” Buffy asked in shock.

“It drugged your mother.” Tara corrected softly.

“Ted was an it?” Xander asked as he raised a fresh mini pizza to his mouth. Tara quickly slapped it out of his hand. “Ow.”

“Sorry Sweetie, but Ted liked to l-lace all of its cooking with a blend of horse tranquilizers and ecstasy.” Tara apologized. “Joyce should start thinking straight again by tomorrow.”

“What the hell kind of demon would date and drug my mother?” Buffy asked as Joyce began to settle down.

“Not a demon.” Willow said as she stood over his still form. She then leaned down to retrieve the disc, and used her knife to remove Ted’s shirt. Once that was done she then took the blade and made a long incision from his throat to his belly button.

Several of the people in the kitchen stood by in open mouthed shock at the gruesome sight but the gore they were expecting never came. Willow made another cut along the prone man’s collar bone and began to peel back the skin, revealing to everyone that he wasn’t a man at all.

“Well that’s a relief.” Willow muttered as she peeled back more “skin” to expose a metallic framework beneath. “It looks like this one has the fairly standard construction we’ve seen before.”

“No shit!” Faith almost shouted in surprise. “The Mr. Rogers parody is a robot? Mrs. S was dating a robot!”

“Yup.” Willow said. “Welcome to the club Joyce.”

“He was a robot?” Joyce asked weakly as Willow began to remove several parts from the chest and neck of the mechanical “man.”

“Okay without these servos and this CPU it can’t reboot itself.” Willow stated. “Buffy, Faith. Could you guys help drag this heap to the back yard and toss it over the fence so the neighbors don’t see us move it into the library next door? Tara, do you want to do the honors?”

Tara already had a cell phone out and in her hand. Before dialing she started breathing heavily and working herself nearly to the point of hyperventilating. She then dialed three numbers.

“H-he-hello? O-o-operator? I-I was going to see my c-c-coworker Ted Buchanan. Wh-when I got to h-his home I saw him moving what l-l-looked l-like a w-woman’s body inside. He w-went down a trap door in the fr-front room. It’s under a r-rug. Oh no. I th-think he saw me. I can’t. I have to. Ahhh!” Tara screamed before hanging up the phone. “And scene.” She added with a smile.

“Beautiful performance Baby.” Willow remarked.

“What’s going on?” Buffy demanded. “What was all that about?”

“It’s all going to be okay now Buffy.” Willow said. “The original Ted was an engineer. He got sick in the fifties and his wife left him. Before he died he made a robot version of himself. This robot.” She said while pointing at the now ruined machine on the floor. “It found his wife and dragged her back to its bunker under the house and workshop, and kept her there. When she eventually died it went out to look for her again. It married some poor woman and dragged her down to a slow miserable death imprisoned in a basement. Then it went looking for her again. Joyce would have been its fifth wife.”

“Oh god.” Buffy whispered.

“Now that’s creepy on a level I hardly knew existed.” Xander remarked.

“There aren’t more of him are there?” Dawn asked growing worried.

“No Sweetie. He didn’t have time to mass produce his monsters.” Tara assured.

“I think I’m going to be sick.” Joyce whispered as she stood there horrified at what had happened, and what nearly happened. “Thank god he didn’t believe in sex before marriage.”

“Eww eww eww.” Buffy yelled after looking back and forth between her mother and the thing she would no longer be expected to call daddy.

“It’s okay B.” Faith said as she put reassuring hands on Buffy’s shoulders. “Let’s move the Stepford Husband so Red can get to work tearing him apart with her tools next door.”

“I don’t ever want to see that thing again.” Buffy stated with the full authority of her Slayer voice. “Use whatever parts you want for whatever tech company mumbo jumbo you have planned but I never want to see its face again.”

“Some of the skin could be useful for science and stuff but I was already planning on destroying the face, and wiping all the programming from the drives.” Willow admitted.

“Good.” Buffy said as she and Faith went to carry the mechanical fiend out the back door.

“I feel so stupid.” Joyce whispered to herself once they were gone.

“Hey, don’t think like that.” Willow said.

“You didn’t do anything wrong Joyce.” Tara promised before letting a small smile creep across her face. “Just be sure to introduce us to anyone you meet before going away with them for a long weekend.”

A few moments later Jennifer came running into the house. She went right to the kitchen and found everyone still trying to comfort Joyce.

“Oh Sweetie.” Jennifer said as she went to put her arms around the Slayer’s mother. “The girls told me everything. Don’t worry. We’re going to get through this.”

“Thanks Jen.” Joyce said as she relaxed and let the other woman guide her upstairs.

“I should get to work breaking the robot down so Buffy can relax.” Willow said.

“I’ll stay here with Dawn and Xander for now Sweetie.” Tara replied while giving Willow a light kiss. “I love you.”

“I love you Baby.” Willow affirmed before walking next door to check on the Slayers.

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

Buffy had paced the entire library while Faith poked and prodded the machine spread out on the table like a cooked goose. The brunette was beyond curious, having never seen a robot before. The blonde was seething at the fact a toy built by some long dead degenerate could have destroyed her family.

“I really hate robots.” Buffy said. “I know I shouldn’t care this much but after the whole Malcolm, Moloch deal I think I’m entitled to say I am not a fan of robots.”

“You guys went up against another robot before?” Faith said turning to look directly at Buffy. “Why is this the first time I’m hearing about this? Come on B, spill.”

Buffy looked to her dark haired friend and sighed. After a moment she looked up again and started the tale.

“Last year, just before I died fighting the Master we were all helping Giles in the library.” Buffy began. “Willow scanned a book into the computer and it turned out there was a demon trapped inside. After she scanned the book Moloch was free to run all over the internet. He got some followers to worship him, cause that’s what got him off. His victims had to tell him they love him. They built him a robot body I had to destroy. The worst part was he started dating Willow online while pretending to be some guy named Malcolm.”

“That sucks.” Faith replied. “So Red had some relationship troubles before Blondie came in and fixed everything?”

“Aside from not getting Xander to even look at her no that was the first big dating problem she had to deal with.” Buffy said.

“And it was a nightmare.” Willow said as she entered the room. “I’ll get to work removing the limbs and head so that even if it has backup processors and manages a reboot it won’t be able to do anything besides bitch and moan about malarkey.”

“Thank you so much for this Will.” Buffy said as she walked up to hug her friend.

“Hey I couldn’t have this prick making the cops think you’re a killer after faking a tumble down the stairs now could I?” Willow replied with a smile.

“So it would have gotten bad then?” Buffy asked.

“Not “end of the world” bad, but still “what the hell am I gonna do about my life” bad.” Willow said. “With this taken care of before Thanksgiving we are probably in the clear until Christmas break.”

“Good.” Buffy said with a relieved sigh before turning to head home. There was no doubt in her mind that her mother would need her support to get through this.

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

“Faith Sweetie.” Jennifer said as the door bell rang. “That’s probably them. Could you get the door?”

“Sure thing Mrs. M.” Faith replied as she got up and ran from the kitchen. It had been almost a week since the nasty encounter in the Summers’ kitchen and the brunette Slayer was all too eager to see their diner guests. She threw open the front door with a smile that quickly melted when she saw who it was.

“Oh hey guys.” Faith said while trying to sound happier than she was. “There’s snacks and stuff in the living room.” She added as she stepped aside.

“Delightful.” Giles said as he stepped across the threshold.

“Good to see you too Faith.” Xander added as he followed the Brit inside. “I take it you’ve spent about as much time next door as I have since Ol’ Ted came a callin’.”

“Yeah sorry X man.” Faith said. “Was kinda getting’ antsy from not seeing any of them for days now.”

“I’m sure Buffy is just helping her mother cope with the horrors of this town coming at us all from unexpected angles.” Giles assured. “They are sure to come by today.”

“Wouldn’t be a Scooby Thanksgiving Special without those kooky Summers girls.” Xander said with a grin.

Faith smiled in return as Willow came out of the kitchen. “You guys made it.” The redhead said with a cherry smile. “Tara and Jennifer are getting things in line for dinner. Why don’t you guys relax in the living room.”

The two men smiled and found their way to the living room. Giles took a seat in the large recliner as Xander perched himself by a bowl of chips.

“She’ll come Faith.” Willow said while resting a hand on the brunette’s shoulder. “They all will.”

“I ain’t never missed seeing someone like this before and it’s only been a few fuckin’ days.” Faith whispered. “I know she’s alright ‘cause I can feel her with my Slayer senses next door but it’s killing me not being able to just go over there and see her. What the hell is wrong with me?”

“You’re in love.” Willow replied with a smile. “I’m so proud of you for that. Not many people could survive the things you have and still be able to feel what you’re feeling. It proves how strong you are.”

“Thanks Red.” Faith said with a forlorn sigh. The sigh turned into a bright smile as the doorbell rang again. Without hesitation Faith was off to answer it. This time the sight that greeted her was more than worth it.

“Hey ladies!” Faith greeted the two blondes and the young brunette cheerfully. “Now the party can really get started.”

“Good to see you too Faith.” Buffy said with a small smile as she led her mother and sister inside. “Are we the last to show?”

“Yup.” Faith replied, not taking her eyes off Buffy. “Blondie and Mrs. M are in the kitchen workin’ up the eats. Xand and G man are in the living room chillin’ with Red.”

“Oh I think I’ll go see if Jennifer needs any help.” Joyce said before resting a hand on Faith’s shoulder. “It’s good seeing you again dear.”

Faith just stared in surprise as the single mother hugged her then walked towards the kitchen. Buffy decided she had some explaining to do before things got to far ahead.

“Dawn why don’t you check on the gang in the living room.” The petite blonde told her sister who merely rolled her eyes and hopped off towards the front room of the house. “Faith I think I owe you and apology.” Buffy said when they were alone in the foyer.

“Nah B you don’t owe me anything.” Faith tried to brush the sentiment off only for Buffy to look her in the eye and steal her breath away.

“I do Faith.” Buffy insisted. “I know it seems like I’ve been avoiding you this week and I know we were going to make plans to hit up the Bronze. I still want to go have fun with you, it’s just.” She paused for a long moment.

“Your mom needed you.” Faith said as she slowly put her hand on Buffy’s arm and began to rub in soft circles. “You don’t owe me an explanation for any of that.”

“Thank you.” Buffy whispered. “Damn that robot. I’ve been Thelma and Louiseing it with my own mother this whole week while you’ve been covering my Slaying. I shouldn’t have put everything on you like that. Thank you Faith.”

“No worries B. What else are friends for?” Faith said with a smile. She then let the smile turn into an even wider grin. “Come on, I got something to show ya.”

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

Joyce came into the kitchen and found her new friend standing by the counter pulling the mashed potatoes from the mixer. The other blonde looked up and smiled at the sight of her neighbor standing in her kitchen.

“Joyce!” She called out with a smile. “Sweetie it’s so good to see you.”

“Oh Jennifer.” Joyce said with a weak smile. “I think I’ve been letting myself drag my daughters down in the dumps with me over this whole Ted thing.”

“That’s probably the leftovers from Ted’s drugged baking.” Willow said as she came into the kitchen behind Joyce. “Don’t dwell on it too much. We’re all here for you.” The redhead added before walking across the kitchen and wrapping her arms around Tara as the honey blonde prepared one of the side dishes.

“Thanks Willow.” Joyce smirked as she watched the young couple wrap themselves up in a love she didn’t even know if she was capable of. “How can I help?” Joyce asked as she turned back to Jennifer.

“Right over here dear.” Jennifer said with a knowing smile. “We’re just about ready to start the last round of side dishes.”

“Sounds like fun.” Joyce said with a smile.

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

“Right over here B.” Faith said as she led Buffy into the library. “You’ll get a kick out of this.”

Buffy followed along as Faith led her to a piece of paper on the long table. She leaned over to read it and all the humor drained from her face.

“I swear to god that woman is never going to learn my name.” Buffy said after letting out a huff at Sheila Rosenberg’s note. “Your Father and I will be just finishing up a conference in Boston. Be sure to ask if you can spend the holidays with Bunny’s family! What the hell?”

“I know right.” Faith chuckled. “Red and Blondie have been laughing all week over that slip of paper they found on the fridge at her old place. I’m thinking of getting it framed.”

“I’ve met her.” Buffy said continuing her huff. “I even met Will’s dad once. He got my name right. As far as she knows I’m her only child’s closest friend that isn’t the neighbor boy she can’t stand. Is it really too much to think that she would learn my name?”

“Aww don’t fret B.” Faith said with a wicked smirk. “I’m sure lots of trophy wives don’t mind being called Bunny.”

“And just whose side are you on?” Buffy almost yelled at Faith.

“The side that brings out that cute blush whenever you get good and furious.” Faith replied with a straight face.

Buffy looked Faith directly in the eyes for a long moment. Seconds passed as Faith just returned the steady look. Buffy broke first. The petite blonde laughed whole heartedly and Faith quickly joined her.

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

“Jeez, when are they going to just do it already?” Dawn said as the laughter rolled down the hallway and into the living room.

“I know right.” Xander chuckled. “Seriously though, it’s gotta be killing Faith.”

“Indeed.” Giles lamented while polishing his glasses. “I pray it doesn’t end up getting one of them distracted on patrol.”

“Way to suck the romance out of their quality time Mr. Giles.” Dawn rolled her eyes.

“Sorry dear girl, but I’m far too used to considering the perils they’ll face in the field before the ones they’ll face in their personal lives.” Giles admitted.

“Hey at least you let them have personal lives.” Xander remarked. “That puts you miles ahead of any other watcher we’ve heard about.”

“Yes I suppose it does.” Giles let a soft smile grace his face as he leaned back in the recliner.

“So Xander.” Dawn said, changing the subject sharply. “How did your parents take the fact you’d be spending the day with us?”

“Didn’t come up.” He replied with far too much good humor. “They were already passed out from all the drinking they did last night. I’m sure they’ll come to some time tomorrow and want a do over.”

“Sorry.” Dawn said with a downcast frown as she realized she shouldn’t have brought certain people up.

“No worries.” Xander replied. “Just means I can spend the time with friends closer to me than my family will ever be.”

Dawn smiled at that answer then turned to the librarian. “What about you Mr. Giles? Anyone back in England you miss?”

“No child, I can assure you the entirety of my true family is inside this house.” Giles said, favoring the two young people on the couch with a smile. “Relations I may have across the pond are so distant and ignorant of my life’s work that they’d hardly recognize me. Those who were close passed a long time ago. It’s safe to say I’m embracing the spirit of this holiday best by spending time with all of you.”

“Hear that B?” Faith said from the door. “The G man really does care.”

“Of course Giles cares.” Buffy said with a perky smile. “If he didn’t care he wouldn’t polish his glasses each time we embarrass him.”

Easy laughter spread around the room as the Englishman smiled at the lighthearted ribbing. The Slayers took seats by the table of snacks and before too long Willow and Tara appeared in the doorway.

“Hey guys.” The bubbly redhead said as she leaned against Tara. “Dinner is ready.”

“Great!” Xander cheered while standing up. As a group they all went across the foyer, to the dining room, and found Joyce and Jennifer setting out the last of the sides.

“Everyone have a seat.” Jennifer said. “We were going to list of all the things we have to be thankful for before digging in.”

“Jennifer and I had some good news to share with you all so we were going to go last.” Joyce remarked as Giles came to sit next to her. “Rupert, why don’t you start us off?”

“Yes, well, it is no surprise that I have a great many things to be thankful for.” Giles said as he polished his glasses. Once they were returned to his face he looked around the table at each member of his family. When his eyes came to rest on Buffy and Faith he smiled warmly.

“First and foremost I am thankful for my work. The duty I had looked upon as a burden most of my life has brought me so many wonderful things these past few years.” He continued with a nod to Buffy. “Meeting my first charge. Accepting the aid of her young friends, each of whom proves themselves all the more capable with each passing day. Meeting both Joyce and Jennifer trough their wonderful daughters. Even young Dawn’s insistence on teaching me all the latest fads in popular culture. And finally meeting my second charge through some of the more inexplicable actions of, what I must say is, the finest group of young people I have ever had the pleasure of calling my family.”

“Buffy, Faith I want you both to know that I could never be prouder as a watcher.” Giles said while looking to his two Slayers before turning to the other teens. “Willow, Xander, thank you for standing by Buffy even when I was less than welcoming of your aid in the early days. Tara, I don’t even know if there are words for how grateful I am that you walked into the school library that day. Setting aside the changes to the world from you and Willow causing there to be four Slayers running about, the changes you brought about in this group are so very wonderful. Thank you.”

Each of the teens smiled at the man who had filled the desperately needed role of mentor in their lives. The man who hid a troubled past behind the façade of the quiet English fuddy-duddy and bookworm couldn’t be happier with the family he had found himself drawn into.

“That was beautiful Rupert.” Joyce remarked as she squeezed his hand. “Xander would you care to go next?”

“Oh um, yes?” The young man said sheepishly. “I thankful for the wonderful food we’re about to eat. Being welcomed into this wonderful home. I guess I’m thankful for most of the same things Giles said.” Xander paused as he looked around the table to each of his female friends. “I’m thankful that I have the best friends in the world. And that since the second Tara walked into our lives the friend I’ve been closest to since the first day of kindergarten has been happier than I have ever seen her in my life.” He paused again for a brief second. “And I’m a little thankful for some of the rumors going around school ever since our trio turned into a fivesome.”

Faith let out a loud bark of laughter as Buffy’s eyes widened in horror. Willow and Tara just shared a knowing smirk at Xander’s last remark.

“While I’m sure I don’t want to know what those rumors are, that was very well said Xander.” Joyce said. “Dawn?”

“I’m thankful for Tara.” The youngest member of the tight knit family said. “Everything got so much better when she came to town. Mom found out about Buffy’s whole monster thing and only did a little gasket blowing. Mr. Giles is spending a lot more time around us now that the books live next door. Willow is happier than ever. Jennifer might be the first adult I’ve seen mom have fun with since dad left. Tara and Willow both brought Faith home from one of their trips. I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without Tara and all the things she and Willow did for all of us. I love you guys.”

“We love you too Dawnie.” Tara said with a smile and the slightest hint of a tear in the corner of her eye.

“That was very sweet Dawn.” Jennifer said as Joyce smiled at her baby girl. “Willow Sweetie, it looks like it’s your turn.”

“I’m thankful that I have each and every one of you in my family.” Willow said before turning to Tara and holding her hands. “But most of all I am thankful for the love I share with the other half of my heart and soul. I love you Tara. I am so very thankful that you are my life.”

“I love you Willow.” Tara said in return. “I am so unbelievably in love with you. I’m thankful I found you. I’m thankful your family accepted my mother and I so easily. I’m thankful that each and every person here has done everything they could to welcome us into their lives. And most of all I am thankful that you and I are going to spend the rest of this and every other life together.”

As Tara finished her declaration Willow pulled her into a tight embrace. Everyone else watched as the hug continued. No one who truly knew the young couple could doubt the love they shared.

“That was beautiful.” Joyce said. “Buffy?”

“I’m thankful for all the things that happened in the few months since Tara and Jennifer came to town.” The Slayer said. “I’m so grateful my mom knows about my secret and accepts me in spite of all the weirdness in my life. I’m thankful Will and Xander have stuck by me through all the nightmares we’ve faced. And thanks to Willow and Tara I can’t believe how thankful I am that I’m not the one girl in all the world anymore. Knowing that there are others out there facing what I have to face. Thank you for joining me Faith. Thank you for going out into the darkness with me almost every night. Thank you for always watching my back even when I know I’m being a diva about the whole fate thing. Thank you for being in my life and thank you Willow and Tara for bringing her into your home.”

Faith was stunned by the outpouring of emotions and gratitude directed at her. A small cynical part of her mused that Buffy might not be so grateful if she realized just how often watching her back turned into watching her ass. Faith took a very long moment to collect herself and form what she would say next.

“This is probably the first time I’ve ever had things that I’m really thankful for.” Faith said finally. “I didn’t really have much reason for gratitude back in Boston. I don’t even remember celebrating too many holidays or even birthdays.” The brunette paused for another moment as the assembled Scoobies looked to her. “I can’t believe how thankful I am that I have people in my life I can call family. You guys all have been so amazing. I’m thankful that Mrs. M has taken me in like I was her kid. I’m thankful that Giles lets me get away way more stuff than he should. I’m thankful Mrs. S is letting someone with my past hang with her kids.”

“Faith, Honey, you have nothing to be ashamed of.” Joyce interrupted. “At your age any troubles in your past are not your fault. You did the best you could with the failures of every adult to enter your life. The fact you turned out so well proves you are a great person.”

“Thanks Joyce.” Faith whispered. “Where was I? Oh right. I’m thankful I got someone like Xander to share dirty jokes with.”

“Oh! Something about a genie with a tiny piano.” Xander added, pulling a smile from the brunette.

“I’m thankful Red and Blondie pulled me out of the dive they found me in and brought me clear across the country. I’m thankful they saw something in me I never could have believed in before meeting all of you. And I’m most thankful I met B. Thank you for accepting me Buffy.”

As Faith finished her speech Buffy pulled her fellow Slayer into a light hug. She couldn’t tell why it seemed like the brunette tensed up at first before relaxing into the embrace. As she felt Faith’s arms slide around her she let the idle curiosity fall by the wayside. What mattered was this seemingly strong girl had shared a fragile side of herself with everyone present. Buffy knew just opening herself up that much was a tremendous accomplishment for her friend. Faith had truly found a family of her own.

“That was beautiful Faith.” Jennifer said as the two Slayers released each other from the embrace. “Thank you for sharing that with everyone. I would go on to list how I’m grateful for just about all the things you’ve all mentioned but Joyce and I have some news I’m sure most of you will be glad to hear.”

“That’s right.” Joyce said. “Jennifer and I have something we are both so incredibly thankful for. Our health.”

“Mom?” Buffy asked as everyone’s eyes widened at the statement.

“We both went to see special doctors that worked for part of that law firm in LA.” Jennifer said. “They ran several tests and found out what was wrong with both of us.”

“At Tara’s insistence they gave us both some new, experimental treatment.” Joyce went on. “It worked. We are both in perfect health.”

“Oh my god mom!” Buffy and Dawn both screamed in delight as they stood up and ran to hug their mother. Happy smiles spread around the table as every one of the Scoobies Looked from the two blonde mothers and then back to the pair of young witches.

“You were holding this back for what? A few weeks?” Faith asked with a sly grin.

“Well it was doctor patient stuff.” Willow said. “And they still have to go to checkups in LA every month or so for at least the next year. We can’t be too careful.”

“Will, Tara.” Buffy said as she let her mother go and then rounded the table on her two friends. “You guys.” The Slayer cried through joyful tears as she hugged the witches.

Both girls hugged Buffy right back. After several long moments the emotions tapered off and the overjoyed family sat down to enjoy the feast Tara, Jennifer and Joyce had so lovingly prepared.

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

The next week Joyce dropped both of her girls off at school. Buffy gave her mother a cheerful smile as she stepped out onto the sidewalk and went to look for her friends. The Slayer didn’t see her mother pulling into the school’s visitor parking lot and exit the vehicle heading for the library. The woman had done a great deal of thinking since Thanksgiving dinner and there was something she had to get off her chest.

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

“So I’m Ted the sickly loser.” Xander said as he recapped the night a robot almost banged the Slayer’s mom for the head cheerleader. “I’m dying and my wife dumps me. I build a better Ted. He brings her back, holds her hostage in his bunker o’ love until she dies, and then he keeps bringing her back over and over. Now, now that’s creepy on a level I hardly knew existed.”

“Oh god.” Cordelia said as Buffy walked up to the group huddled by the lockers.

“That ain’t even the worst part Queen C.” Faith said as she opened a newspaper. “Check out this picture of the basement love nest the cops found after Blondie made the crank call.”

“Oh god! That’s ever worse!” Cordelia shrieked. “Is that shag?”

“Thanks for the concern Cordy.” Buffy said with a casual roll of her eyes.

“Yo B, we’re getting Miss Thang here caught up on the last batch of weirdness.” Faith remarked as she went to stand beside her fellow Slayer.

“Of course.” Buffy replied. “Like I needed everyone in the school to know about my mom’s questionable dating history.”

“Oh like I’m gonna tell anyone about the robot Rosenberg has already carted off somewhere.” Cordelia scoffed.

“That’s a good point.” Xander said. “Will, where is the tin man of the hour?”

“Dissasembled and shipped off to multiple labs for study and backwards engineering.” Willow replied as she, Tara and the others followed Buffy towards the library. “All the drives containing his memories, programming, and evil were wiped with my biggest magnets and then smashed with a hammer. He won’t be back.”

“Good.” Buffy said.

“I can’t imagine one of my parents dating a robot.” Cordelia said.

“And you didn’t have to walk in on your mom kissing the damn thing.” Faith remarked with a chuckle.

“Eww, can we just drop the subject?” Cordelia pleaded.

“Absolutely!” Buffy exclaimed. “I plan to forget the whole thing and pick up right where we left off.” Buffy opened the door to the library a crack before the sight inside sent her running the other way.

“Okay, that’s it! I give up!” Buffy declared as she stormed off. “Do I have to sound an air horn every time I walk into a room? I mean what is it with grownups these days?”

The other Scoobies huddled around to peek inside the windows on the library’s doors. Xander, Faith and Tara let out light giggles as they watched Giles and Joyce sharing a long, tender kiss by the main desk of the library. They each shared knowing looks before running to catch up with Buffy and Willow. Cordelia just rolled her eyes and followed along.

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

In an almost cleared out costume shop just off of Sunnydale’s main street a phone began to ring. The beaded curtain leading to the back room opened and a man dressed in a gaudy silk shirt strolled out. He grasped the receiver and brought it up to his ear.

“Hello, this is Ethan Rayne. Who do I have the pleasure of speaking with this fine evening?” The smarmy Brit said with his usual carefree disregard.

The British voice on the other end of the line was brief and agitated. The man spoke for only a moment before falling silent, awaiting an answer.

“Why I’d be delighted to have your team employ my services. Provided you can meet my usual fee of course.” Ethan replied in an all too oily tone. “I’ll pack up and set out to meet your team right away. See you chaps in a few days.”

With that assurance the phone went dead. Ethan smirked. It was all as his new primary employers had said. Without a moments hesitation he pulled his newest cell phone out of his pocket and speed dialed the number he had been anxiously awaiting a reason to call.

“Hello.” He said as the line was picked up on the other end. “It’s Ethan. They just called, demanding my services. Everything is as you said. I’ll be leaving town in the morning.”

The cheery feminine voice on the other end told him to keep up the good work and go right ahead with the meeting. He could practically hear the ear to ear smile as she spoke. With his message relayed and her orders confirmed she wished him a pleasant evening and hung up.

Things were falling into place just as Ethan’s new overseers had said they would. The world would soon change more than any of the key players realized and the English sorcerer would be standing right in the middle of the chaos. Ethan absolutely could not wait.

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

Appendix:
Dawn’s line in English translated via Babelfish: If I’m way off I apologize.

“Oh yeah. The things I could tell you about eating pussy would blow your mind.”

_________________
Time and Time Again


Last edited by Citanul on Sat Dec 06, 2014 3:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 7:32 am 
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Dibs-y goodness...

Yay for excellent update-y goodness... I'm glad that Ted-bot is Rusting In Pieces... I wonder if Ethan is working for the Initiative... I really liked those thanksgivings...

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2014 2:00 pm 
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awesome

nice sexy love scene to start the chapter off with.

Did Dawn tell Willow and Tara about how she was able to tell Dru what to do?

And Yay for Joyce and Giles Getting Together!
I always wanted that to happen on the show.

I like what each person said about what they were thankful for.

It's going to be a trip when Willow's parents finally find out about Tara and pentacle. I can't wait for that. lol

and LOL this line,
"I’ll get to work removing the limbs and head so that even if it has backup processors and manages a reboot it won’t be able to do anything besides bitch and moan about malarkey.”

Is the council hiring ethan to spy on the girls, since they can't enter sunnydale themselves? I think I remember Willow making a comment about them not being able to enter sunnydale so they were going to mess with angel in la or something like that.

And now, we finally see the fall out from buffy's assassination attempt on the witch king!

I can't wait!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2014 1:31 am 
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Hee!

I just about pee'd myself when Dawn popped up with the 'Pussy' comment!

Definately got some funny looks when i bust out laughing :)

This was a really happy episode, and i liked it.
I'm glad Buffy & Faith are getting slowly closer.

Anmd it's nice to know the mom squad is going to be around for a while yet :)


I now find myself wondering about Dawn. All that girl-knowledge. What is a girl to do?
and i note the pronoun thing happened again when they were describing her/Ghandi's exploits.

Hmm...

:grin

Looking forward to the next bit :bounce

R :flower

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:19 am 
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Hello Zampsa. Yes Ted was a relatively quick fix. We'll see more of Ethan in chapter 14 and I think you'll get a pretty good idea who he's working for. The "I'm thankful for." scene was probably the part i spent the most time brainstorming beforehand. I'm glad it paid off.

Hi Mysticrain. I'm also glad the surprise early morning love scene paid off as well. Dawn isn't at the point where she runs to tell Tara and Willow every new thing that pops up. Don't worry. The fallout from her "experimenting" with her new hypno toad powers is coming.

Technically they did get together on the show just not in a meaningful way half the audience wanted. If anything the band candy deal made Joyce put off dating Giles until it was too late.

The big Thanksgiving scene was a fun bit of rampant character exposition. Sadly the Rosenbergs are still a ways off. But when they show up they are in for a surprise.

Ted's 1950's "father knows best" with a dark side lines were fun. His preoccupation with Malarkey will be missed.

Yes Willow did say that they couldn't enter the town. The specifics of that are a ways off but the details of Ethan's leg of the story are coming quickly. Since we might not see Angelus in the usual manner things are now open for a slightly different class of villain to take the stage.

Yup, Dark Ages part 5 is imminent.

Hello Azirahael. It made my day when I typed that line into babelfish and saw that not only was pussy still intact but it had been capitalized.

The Buffy/Faith part of the main story is fun but it's definitely a slow boil affair compared to just about every other relationship I'm writing.

Yup the Mom Squad is just fine. Radioactive green demon blood that glows in the dark really is an amazing product they don't quite know how to mass market just yet.

And about Dawn's love life. Let's just say she's way too young in season 2 but there will be a few funny scenes further down the road. Also, it was less of a repeat instance of the pronoun game and more to do with the fact that the Ghandi costume turned Dawn into, what did she call herself on the show? Oh right "The Pushy Queen of Slut Town!"

Sitting down and rewatching the series led me to a startling realization. "Him" from season 7 is the last intentionally, really funny, full blown comedy episode of the series. From then on it's all "Hey look, the big bad is making moves.", "Is that the girl from The O.C. in Xander's sex dream?" and "Why is this character everyone hates getting more screen time than really young Felicia Day?"

I may or may not go into details on the past life where Dawn was Ghandi for Halloween. But, needless to say, there were multiple genders represented among Dawn's far too many disciples and conquests. Hence Willow and Tara never letting her dress like Ghandi again.

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Time and Time Again


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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:41 am 
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Time and Time Again.

Author: Citanul

Feedback: Be kind, rewind?

Spoilers: Just about all of them. Go watch the show.

Rating: NC-17

Pairings: W/T, B/F

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: When last we left off Tara and Buffy had engaged in a knock down drag out fight to end all cat fights between a super powered armor wearing witch and an ancient mystic weapon wielding chosen one.

"Good masquerading as intimidating stranger" won out over "good taking orders from unscrupulous secret society with nefarious means and methodology." But all is not well in the kingdom of the Witch King.

What will happen as our heroes pick up the shattered pieces of social stability left on the cobblestone floor of the town square? What dark intents lie behind the British mannerisms of a cabal of English librarians? How many Slayers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Who is going to taste Clem's cooking? These questions will not be answered in this, our thrilling installment.

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

Dark Age Chronicles: Machinations Revealed

The doors of the citadel flew open and the Witch King stormed inside carrying her still weeping love. Willow’s emerald gown flowed down passed Tara’s knees, almost dragging along the ground. The petite redhead clung to Tara’s chest as they moved down corridors and up stair wells towards their private study. Along the way several frightened servants bowed, practically falling to their knees.

Almost no one wanted to confront their ruler during an obviously emotional moment. Fewer were willing to challenge her judgment after such an overwhelming display of magical power. Only two people barred the Witch King’s path as she and her distraught love passed the doorway leading to her throne room and the balcony that overlooked the town square.

“Tara!” Sheila Rosenberg called out in a tone just short of a shriek. “What is wrong with Willow? What did you force her to do? How long has she been a witch?”

“Sheila, dear.” Ira pleaded trying to calm his wife. “I’m sure the last thing Willow needs right now is for us to be fighting over something I’m sure she and Tara can explain once she recovers.” The peacemaking husband paused and the worried father took the moment to ask the most pertinent question. “She is going to recover soon, won’t she Tara?”

Tara took a moment to calm her fraying nerves. She really didn’t want to fight her in-laws at this moment. Fighting the Slayer she had once counted as her closest friend had taken a far greater toll on her than anyone in her kingdom could have realized. At the same time she had to see to Willow’s fragile state. Nothing else mattered at the moment.

“Sheila, Ira.” Tara stated calmly. “Willow is going to recover. I understand your concern for your daughter, but right now she needs me.”

“Tara.” The slender redhead moaned weakly as if on cue. “Don’t leave me Tara.” She whispered as a fresh wave of sobs wracked her body.

“Of course.” Ira said sheepishly as he held onto his wife’s shoulders and the two of them stepped aside.

Tara spared them a brief smile before she resumed walking towards the private rooms where she could lay Willow down on a couch and hold her until the worst of it passed.

“She’s going to be okay.” Ira said as Tara turned down a hall. “Tara cares about her more than anything else in the whole world. Willow is strong. She won’t let something like this hold her down.”

Sheila just stared down the long corridor as an all consuming sense of dread filled her.

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

“And these will be your rooms.” Alonna said cheerfully as she, Faith and a dozen other brand new Slayers escorted Buffy and Giles to the dungeon. “I know they’re not much to look at but you did walk into our city and try to murder our ruler.”

The experienced Slayer and her watcher took a moment to look the two cells over. It was nothing like they were expecting. The cells had three solid stone walls and a fourth made of thick iron bars. In each held a single bed with a relatively comfortable looking mattress and clean sheets. A barred window high up on the back wall allowed air flow and light to come in. In the corner was a chain and handle dangling from a metal faucet just overhead. The stone floor beneath housed a wide drain and a stone bench that, upon closer inspection, apparently contained a privy.

“These are your dungeons?” Buffy asked in shock. “I’ve stayed in upscale inns that looked like a cesspit compared to this.”

“I must say that most dungeons I’ve seen are nothing more than squalid holes with several feet of muck and human waste atop dirt floors.” Giles added, just as shocked by their accommodations as his Slayer was.

“Yeah, Red and Blondie don’t go in for the whole leaving filth wherever you drop it thing.” Faith said as she gently pushed Buffy into one of the cells and locked the door. “That’s one of the first things they have the new comers learn before they assign housing and work orders.”

“That’s why the streets outside didn’t have gutters filled with rotting garbage!” Buffy said as small details she had noticed since entering the gates formed a much larger picture.

“Hey, it seems like the assassin is smarter than she looks.” Alonna sneered as she shoved Giles into the cell next to Buffy’s. “Don’t get any ideas about escaping or charming your way out of here. You two burned a lot of bridges when you tried to kill the woman that saved the lives of every single person in this city.”

“If what she said about each of you becoming Slayers is true then I must say I have no intention of leaving this city.” Giles said. “I may not be very popular right now but I’m sure my training as a watcher is something your Witch King is going to want to discuss at some point.”

“Giles please don’t do the thing were you try to get them all to read that stupid handbook.” Buffy said. “If they’ve been planning this then they probably already know the basics and frankly all the pro council propaganda in there is likely to get us lynched.”

“Yes dear girl.” Giles said through the stone wall. “I dare say the traditional approach to Slayer training has been thoroughly put to rest by this day’s events.”

“Faith.” Alonna said causing the brunette to pull her eyes off the younger of the two prisoners.

“Yeah Al?” Faith responded.

“About that thing we discussed earlier.” Alonna said while trying specifically not to mention the attraction Faith had expressed after first laying eyes on the blonde. “This puts it on hold for now. Maybe a while later you can look into it but right now the priority is that these two stay here.”

Faith caught on all too easily and gave her friend a fairly angry look in return. “Damn it Al, you think I don’t know that already? Of course this new shit comes first. I ain’t risking my life here for some stupid daydream.”

“Sorry Faith.” Alonna replied. “Just had to be sure.”

“Yeah whatever.” Faith huffed as she took a seat along the wall and watched the blonde she had spent the afternoon getting herself done up for. “A girl can dream though.”

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

Xander walked down the long corridor holding the strange weapon that had somehow driven Lady Willow to the brink of madness. At his side strode Gunn, holding the single key to the empty vault Lady Tara had ordered built into an isolated corner of the citadel.

Many of the men under Tara’s command had made a game of guessing the eventual use of this room and several others that seemed to be purposefully left vacant. The two friends who had served the Witch King longer than just about everyone else in the city had never suspected the tiny vault would be used to hold such an odd looking weapon. Neither man could believe the power they now knew lay within the strange “Scythe.”

“You ordered the guards right?” Xander asked as he nervously clutched the weapon that seemed to harm the brilliant redhead.

“Two dozen.” Gunn said. “Each is gonna bring one of the big tower shields. Half will have boar hunting spears and the rest will have short swords. No one is getting down that narrow hallway without a serious fight.”

“As serious as the one we just sat back and watched with our thumbs up our butts?” Xander asked, still worried about the two women who last held the weapon in his hands.

“Red ordered us to keep back while Tara took the little blonde to the cleaners.” Gunn said. “I don’t know any more than you about what they did but whatever it was Alonna looked like it hit her nearly as hard as Red. Only difference is whatever hit left my sister as strong and confident as it left Willow the opposite.”

“She’s going to pull through this.” Xander declared. “Tara needs her to pull through this.”

“I know.” Gunn whispered as they came to the door at the end of a narrow corridor. The ebony soldier used the ornate key he had been told long ago was the only one made for this door. It fit perfectly and the thick metal door swung open to reveal a room the size of a broom closet with pegs on the back wall. As the two men looked closer they had the startling realization that the pegs were perfectly positioned to hold the scythe in place.

“How could they know?” Gunn asked.

“They’ve known about other stuff long before it happened.” Xander replied. “About people. Willow and Tara just seem to know things.” He went on as he brought the weapon up to the pegs. Once the weapon was in place the strange supports came to life and wrapped around the shaft and handles of the scythe. It wasn’t going anywhere without a mage or witch saying so.

“Okay.” Gunn said. “I’m officially freaked.” He punctuated his admission by closeing the door and locking it before he turned to walk away.

“Where are you going?” Xander asked in shock.

“To hide this damn key somewhere no one will suspect I’d hide it.” Gunn replied as the sound of heavily armored footsteps came down the hallway. “Stay with the first wave of guards. I’ll be back to relieve you in an hour.”

With that Gunn ran off and left Xander behind to order men positioned along the hall that two tower shields could easily barricade. At each layer of defenders he placed one man with a spear and one with a sword. If any attackers got past the spear the shields would give the men time to put a sword in place and have the spearman immediately behind ready to thrust. No one other than the guards, Tara and Willow was getting through this corridor.

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

Tara strode into the comfortably furnished lounge of her private “office” and went straight to the large couch she had commissioned as soon as they got in enough craftsmen to fill her furniture needs. She gently sat down with Willow still in her arms. Before she could say anything reassuring to her love footsteps at the door drew her eyes up.

“We need some privacy Marcie.” Tara said to the almost invisible servant girl.

“Of course your highness.” She said quickly. “I just thought you’d want some water and maybe light food when Lady Willow recovers.” She walked forth and set down the tray she was holding on the table at Tara’s side. To Tara’s surprise it was filled with a few loaves of bread, some chesses, meats, and a tall pitcher of water with two goblets. With a genuine smile she looked back up to the other girl she had taken from the Rosenberg library.

“Thank you Marcie.” Tara said. “I’m sure Willow will appreciate this. Close the door on your way out.”

“Of course your highness.” Marcie said with a deep bow as she backed out of the room. One of these days Tara would have to work on getting her to stop that. But there were far more important matters this day.

“I love you Willow.” Tara whispered into an ear tucked behind long red strands. “I am never going to leave you. I belong to you and you belong to me. We belong together, in this life and every other. You’re my everything. My always. I love you Willow.”

Tara repeatedly whispered the words she knew would bring Willow back to her. The words seared into their very souls. No mater how long it may take, Tara would guide her love back to her. Their lives depended on it.

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

“Charles!” Fred yelled as the ebony soldier turned a corner and came into view.

“Fred.” He called with a more than relieved smile. “How are things holding up since the fight ended?”

“Tara and Willow have sealed themselves up in one of their rooms.” Fred answered as she came up to the lean man and wrapped her arms around him. “The girls from the academy brought that girl and the old man to the dungeon. Did you really put the weapon she had in that vault Tara said she hoped to never use?”

“Yes.” Gunn replied as he embraced the skinny brunette, kissing the top of her head. “The vault is only the size of a small broom closet. The only things inside were some pegs on the wall that looked like they were meant to mount that weird scythe.”

“Do you think that weapon is something they foresaw just like all the other strange inventions they have made for this city?” Fred asked.

“Foresaw?” Gunn remarked with a curious tilt of his head.

“Well how else do ya think they made all the stuff that no one else has ever even imagined?” Fred replied. “Gotta be some crystal ball they’re hiding somewhere around here that shows them the future.”

“Fred I don’t think anyone else has as much access to that kind of thing around here as you.” Gunn said. “If they’ve got something like that and you haven’t seen it then no one but the two of them is ever going to.”

“You really think I’d have been told about it?” She asked as she nuzzled into his chest.

“No doubt about it Fred.” Gunn affirmed as he tilted her chin up with one finger and leaned down to kiss the lab assistant. Fred melted into the warm clashing of lips and nearly swooned as she felt his strong arms tighten around her. She had never felt more cherished than in his arms.

The slow caress of lips went on for moments that felt infinitely longer to the young couple. Only when the need to draw breath grew did the slender young woman break off contact with her love.

“Charles we shouldn’t be doing this while everyone else is in crisis mode.” Fred said as she closed her eyes and rested her forehead upon his sternum.

“That’s actually why I came looking for you.” Gunn said as he pulled a large and intricately designed key from his pocket. “I need you to hide this somewhere no one would ever expect me to hide it.”

“Is that the key to the vault?” Fred asked, her eyes widening in surprise. “You’re trusting the key to that horrible weapon to me?”

“I trust you with every other part of me.” Gunn said confidently. “This ain’t no different.”

Fred looked from the key up to his deep brown eyes. She marveled at the unwavering faith bestowed on her by the man she loved. Without a second thought she smiled and took the key in one hand while the other still clung to the warrior.

“I love you Charles.” Fred said.

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

“I’m so sorry Tara.” Willow said for what had to be the thousandth time. “I was so stupid.”

“Willow I love you.” Tara replied in earnest. “You are the smartest person I have ever known.”

“Before you saved me.” Willow began to say but halted abruptly. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay Baby.” Tara promised. The seldom used pet name seemed to revitalize the distraught redhead.

“Oh Goddess. What are we gonna tell everyone?” Willow lamented after a long pause.

“The truth.” Tara said. “No more putting off the big conversation. Our friends deserve to know.”

“Okay.” Willow agreed. “What about my parents?”

“We’ll bring them in with everyone else I guess.” Tara said with significantly less enthusiasm. “I hope they don’t think I was brushing them off earlier.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be stronger for you Tara.” Willow said, once more casting blame upon herself.

“How many times do I have to say it before you believe me?” Tara asked with a quirked smile and a lone raised eyebrow. “You have always been the strong one. Only someone with incredible inner strength could have gone to the lengths you did to reunite us. It took strength to forge our reincarnation spell. Even more to do the millions of other things you always do that make me love you more and more each day.”

“Even when I’m at my worst you always make me feel special.” Willow said while gazing into sapphire pools. “How do you do that?”

“Magic.” Tara replied with a knowing smile.

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

Buffy sat in her cell awaiting the inevitable gloating rant from the Witch King. It wouldn’t be the first time one of her foes had tried to get in her head, thinking they had the upper hand. This time may prove different. She had never had that conversation with another woman before. It might prove interesting.

The blonde Slayer heard the door at the end of the hall open and close. Footsteps approached. She looked up expecting to see her honey blonde foe. Instead she almost recoiled in shock at just who was now standing on the other side of the bars.

“Hey Buffy.” The tall brunette girl said with a false smile. “You know you really didn’t have to try and ruin the best thing this family has ever had going for it.”

“Dawn!” Buffy cried out in shock as she flung herself at the bars of her cell. “They let you see me? Oh god what have they done to you and Mom?”

“Done to us?” Dawn asked. In an instant all the cheer melted from her face. “You seriously don’t get it do you? Tara saved us. We were snatched up by slavers and dumped in a cage heading for the Mad Queen’s castle. Lord only knows what might have happened if we actually made it there. Do you even understand how wonderful it was to see the Witch King’s army surround the slave caravan? Every one of those disgusting men that had been leering at me the whole time was put down like an animal. When the last slaver was dead a figure in the darkest armor I’d ever seen took one look at the cage Mom and I were in and dropped everything to make sure we were okay.”

Dawn paused for a moment and pulled the large black helmet of the Witch King out from behind her back. Buffy recognized the armored visage she had fought earlier and cringed.

“How did you get that helmet?” Buffy asked her younger sister. The worried tone in the question elicited light laughter from Faith, Alonna and the other young women guarding the cells.

“How did I?” Dawn asked in exasperation. “How did I get this helmet? Buffy were you not paying attention out there? Tara made me her head squire. From the second she pulled us out of that cage she has done nothing but ensure that Mom and I are comfortable and happy. We have our own cluster of rooms in this castle bigger than the house we used to live in. They let me see you because I’m free to go anywhere in this place I want. Just about the only place I don’t go is Tara and Willow’s private bed chamber and if you ask anyone here why they’ll probably tell you the same answer.”

“Ha!” Faith laughed. “Good one D. Yeah no one with any brains ever tries to barge into that bedroom. Red and Blondie get way too much use out of it.”

Buffy’s eyes widened at that statement. It was almost unbelievable. This day was piling surprise after surprise on her. The first shock was the state of the Witch King’s city itself. Never before had she seen such a clean and seemingly happy town. Next to hit her was the gender of the foe the council sent her after. Now they were more than implying that this Tara and the young redhead she handed the Slayer Scythe off to were in a relationship. It was beginning to border on too much to process.

“Oh dear lord.” Giles gasped from the next cell over.

“And who the hell is this guy?” Dawn shouted. “Buffy please don’t tell me you survived the slavers that took us only to end up some old guy’s toy. He looks like he might even be older than dad!”

“What?” Buffy shouted back in shock and disgust. “Dawn! No! That’s disgusting. He’s my watcher.”

“So he likes to watch does he?” Faith asked with a lurid grin. “That’s all kinds of disturbing.”

“The watcher is the man who trains the Slayer to fight vampires.” Joyce said as she stepped in front of Buffy’s cell for the first time. “It’s good to see you again Honey.”

“Mom?” Buffy gasped as she went to the bars as close to her mother as she could get. “You’re okay? You know?”

“I’m more than okay dear.” Joyce answered while keeping her hands clasped tightly in front of her. “And I’m well aware of a great many things. I learned many of them from him.” The last word of Joyce’s statement positively oozed venom. She slowly walked to the cell Giles waited within. “It’s been a long time Mr. Watch.” Joyce paused abruptly as she took in the sight of the Brit behind the bars. “Wait! Who the hell are you?”

Giles looked up in confusion. He knew this would be a difficult conversation and he was beginning to suspect the organization he had served most of his life had engaged in some rather unsavory dealings that would only complicate matters.

“Hello madam.” He said with a deep and sincere bow. “I am Rupert Giles. Buffy’s watcher.”

“Where the hell is Merrick?” Joyce demanded. “Buffy what’s going on?”

“You met Merrick mom?” Buffy asked. “He never mentioned it. Giles why would he never mention meeting my mother?”

“I’m beginning to suspect that he did a great deal of lying to you before he died Buffy.” Giles said with a hollow voice.

“He died?” Joyce asked.

“Yeah.” Buffy said. “Pretty much right after he told me you and Dawn had been killed by demons. I went out on patrol and some master vamp got the jump on him. I tracked him down to a small village but found it was entirely populated with vampires and their bleeding half dead victims.”

“Oh god Buffy.” Dawn said. “What did you do?”

“Burned it all to the ground and made sure they were dust the next day.” Buffy admitted sheepishly. “Giles found me a week or so later.”

“Upon receiving orders from the council to teach Buffy I was told her entire family had been killed.” Giles added. “It’s actually a great relief to see the two of you alive.”

Joyce looked back and forth between the two cells. She couldn’t believe how much differently this conversation was going. It occurred to her she should have probably taken a closer look at the man they dragged out of the town square with Buffy but she was still too wrapped up in the shock that her daughter was both alive and fighting the young woman who saved them all.

“A week before we were abducted Merrick came to me while you were out of the house Buffy.” Joyce said, trying desperately to hold back the flurry of emotions waging war within her. “He said you had a great destiny far beyond our little hovel and then he offered to buy you from me.”

“What?” Buffy shouted as Giles let out a weary. “Oh dear lord.”

“I have to talk to Tara.” Joyce said quietly. She turned to meet Buffy’s desperate gaze once more. “Honey please don’t try anything. Once Willow recovers I’m sure Tara will listen to your side of the story.” Joyce told her eldest daughter before turning and fleeing the dungeon.

“Mom? Mom wait!” Buffy cried out. “Why would she leave me?”

“I’ll talk to her Buffy.” Dawn said as she watched their mother flee. “But she’s right. You can’t do anything stupid. Don’t try to break out of here and don’t ever try to kill Tara again. Please Buffy, you have no idea how wonderful she has made all of our lives. As soon as Willow recovers I’m sure she’ll come talk to you and give you the chance to prove you aren’t a threat.” With that Dawn turned and followed her mother out.

Outside the dungeon Dawn found her mother leaning heavily against a wall. The young brunette raced up to her side.

“Mom?” Dawn asked with a worried tone. “What’s wrong?”

“He’s dead.” Joyce whispered. The single mother looked up to her youngest daughter’s pale blue eyes. “The bastard who tried to destroy us is dead and he hasn’t had all this time to do lord knows what with your sister.” As Joyce finished her statement a smile spread across her face.

“Happy tears?” Dawn asked with a tentative smile of her own.

“Happy tears.” Joyce affirmed as she pulled Dawn into a hug. “Very happy tears my little Pumpkin Belly.”

Back in the cells Buffy was pressed up against the bars trying to catch even the barest glimpse of her family.

“They’re gone B.” Faith told her. “She’ll be back once this is all cleared up.”

“If this Willow makes it you mean.” Buffy said with a dull defeated tone as she went back to her bunk to sit down. “What happens if she doesn’t recover?”

“She’ll pull through.” Faith said sternly. “Red’s a fighter. No way is she gonna leave Blondie. She’s gonna make it.”

“But what if she doesn’t?” Buffy continued.

“If your actions today cause Willow’s death then both of you are already dead.” Alonna said with a flat grim tone. “Lady Tara will kill you herself and then the Witch King will lead all of her forces to the doors of this watchers council and burn it all to the ground.”

“Oh dear lord.” Giles whispered. “The main library.”

“Oh there’s a library is there.” Faith said with a renewed smirk. “Don’t worry. After Blondie kills everyone but before she turns the place into a smoldering crater she’ll have the boys pack up every book, scroll and artifact and ship it all back here.”

“Right.” Alonna said. “How silly of me. Even on the brink of madness I can’t see Tara ever destroying a library.”

Buffy sat there staring at the brunette. She couldn’t believe the certainty with which they spoke. They knew the Witch King could do everything they just mentioned. In that moment Buffy no longer wondered why the council had sent her here. She also now knew no one on the council expected her to survive this mission. Giles may have been hoping she would live through this but the others probably expected him to share her fate. Buffy doubted if any watcher besides Giles even cared that she was still alive.

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

“We should get going.” Willow said while still cradled in Tara’s arms.

“I know Sweetie.” Tara agreed. “There’s going to be a lot to talk about.”

“Do you think they’ll hate me?” Willow asked.

“They’ll understand.” Tara promised.

“I don’t even know if I understand and I lived through it.” Willow said. “Oh Goddess I was such a fool before you found me.”

“And now that we’re together you see that and won’t ever make those same mistakes.” Tara assured.

“How can you have such faith in me?” Willow asked as she stood and left Tara’s embrace for the first time in hours.

“Easy.” Tara stated. “You’re my everything.”

Willow just smiled as Tara stood up and pulled her into a deep, sensual kiss. Moments passed before the tender reconnection was finished and the lovers exited the chamber. Once they came across a few girls from the academy it was easy enough to send word for their family to gather in the library.

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

“So you girls are all Slayers now?” Buffy asked still not sure if she liked the change the pair of witches had brought about.

“Seems that way.” Faith replied with a coy smirk. “Maybe once this is done I’ll let you spar with me B.”

“Sure like that’s all you want to do to her Faith.” One of the other girls remarked sarcastically.

“Rona, watch your mouth! Faith, stop answering all of their questions!” Alonna snapped. “This isn’t a date. We still have a long way to go before we can even think about trusting them.”

“Your friend isn’t very much fun.” Buffy said casually. There had been several innuendos thrown around by the other girls guarding the cells. Taken together they painted a clear picture of Faith’s perceived sex life. Buffy thought for an instant she could use a little bit of light flirting to sneak out of the dungeon but as things progressed she began to realize that leading Faith on would turn against her fast.

“Aww that ain’t fair B.” Faith said with another smile. “Al can be all kinds of fun once you get to know her. Thing is she’s been with Blondie the longest of any of us. Even if the Boss and Red were to walk in here and tell us to let you go you’d still have to prove to Al that you won’t try nothin’ again.”

“And what about you Faith?” Buffy asked. “How much work do I have to put in to earn your trust?”

“Oh Faith doesn’t need trust for what she has planned for you.” Another girl standing by Alonna said with a laugh and a cockney accent.

“Damn it Molly!” Alonna said harshly. Before she could further rebuke her fellow Slayers another girl came running towards the cells.

“Guys!” The slender redhead said in an excited yet nervous voice. “Lady Willow is all better now. She and Lady Tara wanted to see Faith and Alonna in the library along with the rest of the inner circle.”

“That’s great Vi.” Faith said to the newcomer. “Let’s go Al.”

“Faith, wait!” Buffy said as she clung to the bars of her cell. “This means you’re coming back to let me out right? I mean, you weren’t going to just keep me locked up for some perverse game. Were you?”

A slow smile spread across Faith’s face. She let it turn into a positively wicked grin before suppressing it and turning back to the caged blonde.

“Listen B.” Faith began slowly. “You don’t know me, so I’m gonna let that slide. There’s somethin’ I gotta make real clear for ya. No matter what these other girls have said about me there is one thing you need to understand.” The brunette leaned in close to the bars and stared directly into hazel eyes. “The first time I make love to you, it won’t be in a cage with some old guy and a bunch of little girls three feet away.”

Buffy gulped suddenly as Faith turned and began to strut out of the dungeon. Alonna just rolled her eyes as she followed along. Giles began to furiously polish his glasses.

“Oh dear lord.” He remarked.

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

“Here you go Sugar.” Lorne said as he set two glasses of cool water on the table in front of his two companions.

“I just don’t know why Tara would shut us out like that.” Sheila said. “And how can Willow have all this magical power and never show it to us before?”

“I’m sure we’ll get plenty of answers soon dear.” Ira said before taking a sip. “Tara just needs time to see Willow through the worst of it.”

“I don’t like the idea that they have been keeping things from us.” Shelia added before relenting and taking a drink. Just as she was setting the glass back down an excited young blonde came running up to the table.

“Guys, great news!” Cassie said. “Lady Willow is all better now. She’s in the library with Tara and they want all of us there for an announcement.”

Relieved looks circled the table. Sheila held back what should have been overwhelming joy.

“What kind of announcement?” Sheila asked as Ira’s face fell.

“No idea.” Cassie replied. “Come on though, they sent the Academy girls out to fetch everyone else. We might be the last ones there.”

The young girl turned and ran off towards the library. Lorne smiled at the two concerned parents sitting before him and got up.

“Well I can’t imagine why we should keep them waiting.” The green man smiled and began to walk off. Ira and Sheila shared a look before getting up and following.

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

At the grand round table in the heart of the library sat Tara. Willow was perched in her lap, idly playing with honey blonde hair. She still wore the emerald dress though it now sported considerably more wrinkles than before.

Xander was the first member of their family to take a seat at the table. He greeted them happily and sat beside the empty chair that would have been Willow’s. Moments passed in the all too quiet library before another pair of faces joined them.

“Oh.” Fred said in surprise as she turned the corner and saw the others. “Hi y’all. I didn’t think we’d make it here before the others.”

“No worries Fred.” Tara said calmly. “Why don’t you and Gunn have a seat?”

The ebony man and pale girl took seats beside Xander. Shortly after they were seated, still holding each other’s hands the rest of the family began to trickle in. Alonna and Faith took seats on the other side of Tara. Next to them sat Joyce, Dawn and Cassie.

The Burkles sat beside their daughter. Roger shook Gunn’s hand as they came up to the table and Trish gave the young man a hug. Both parents had been greatly relieved when they noticed the overtly protective young man’s interest in their daughter. Trish was just as happy to notice the renewed perk in her daughter’s behavior and movement whenever the young man was around.

Soon after that Harry and Doyle walked in and sat next to the Burkles. They were followed by Lorne and then the Rosenbergs who took seats facing Tara and Willow.

“Thank you all for coming.” Tara said as she continued to stroke Willow’s back. “We want you to know we are s-sorry for the way things played out today. We didn’t want any of you to have to meet the l-last two members of this family that way.”

Around the table several heads shot up. As the men and women looked to their leader none of them could understand how the two intruders qualified as family so quickly after such a disastrous encounter.

“Exactly which definition of the word family are we using here?” Doyle asked. “Cause I don’t recall assassins that try what those two pulled being on the short list.”

“That can wait.” Sheila countered with a noticeably short temper. “Willow dear, how are you feeling? What was that out there?”

A small smile crept across Willow’s face as she raised her head for the first time since taking a seat in Tara’s lap. She looked across the table to her mother and let the smile fade.

“I’m alright Mom.” The slender redhead said. “I just reacted badly to the magic because I’ve been making a lot of mistakes recently.”

“What mistakes?” Sheila asked before taking on a more pained voice. “Since when do you know magic? Is it something Tara taught you?”

“Yes and no.” Tara answered the last question first.

“This is going to take a while to explain.” Willow began. “I am a witch. I have magical powers. I have had them all my life.”

“Impossible.” Ira said. “We would have known if you had the power to do whatever it was you two did out there.” He grew introspective for a moment. “Wouldn’t we?”

Willow sighed and looked at her father with sad eyes. It pained her to have to admit to the dark past she once hid from the world. She took another breath before continuing.

“Until the day Tara found me I practiced almost exclusively with dark magic.” Willow admitted. Silence fell across the library at the admission. None who knew the young woman could believe the claim.

“How dark?” Lorne asked.

“Dark enough that I haven’t sung for you in all these months Lorne.” Willow admitted. “I’m sorry to say this but I had a hidden lab in our old estates. There I conducted my research and worked many dark rituals. Dad, I even manipulated you into building your library on that spot because it was a site of power. Not anywhere near as powerful as an active hellmouth but still powerful enough that I was able to tap into it regularly.”

“Oh god.” Ira moaned.

“After you two were taken and Warren took over our home I plotted a way to kill him and any who he served.” Willow forged ahead with the dark details. “I crafted a special crystal. I was going to use incredibly powerful necromancy to steal his soul and the souls of all his men. Once empowered by their life essences I would have raised their corpses as my army and crossed into the lands of the Mad Queen. I was going to kill every living soul I came across and animate their bodies to fight my war. I was ready to become the most powerful necromancer in history.”

“Oh god Willow.” Dawn whispered.

“What stopped you?” Joyce asked, growing more nervous about the revelations by the second.

“I was one day away from a planetary alignment that would have made the initial work easy when Adam the Scarred came to visit.” Willow said. “I waited too long and he would have easily killed me if not for Tara.”

“Tara did you know all of this?” Alonna asked. When the Witch King nodded Alonna’s jaw practically hit the table. “If she was so evil then why the hell did you dive into a relationship with her so fast? Why even bring Willow back here in the first place?”

“I was dying without her in my life.” Tara said with a bold smile. “None of you can even begin to understand what we have together. Even after several dozen decades I still can’t get enough of her.”

“You’ve only known her for months.” Alonna said. “Tara what is going on? What aren’t you telling us?”

“That don’t make any sense.” Faith interrupted. “If you are some big badass witch then why did you freak out today?”

“Because of my abuse of dark magics I quit the day Tara brought me here. I can’t and won’t touch the stuff now that I have my memories back.” Willow told Faith. “I haven’t even unpacked the trunk I stored my lab in. I quit completely. That caused the magic to build up in my system again and when I did the ritual with the Scythe I had to tap into a lot of power. Specifically reserves of light magic far beyond any I had practiced in this life. That level of exposure caused me to react negatively.”

“What do you mean by having your memories back and “this life?” Xander asked. “And how can you talk about decades when it’s been months?”

“You guys need to tell them the full story.” Cassie said quietly.

“Cassie?” Dawn asked with a worried look.

“Thank you Cassie. We had decided to do just that.” Tara replied to the girl before looking to the rest of the table. “Willow and I are soulmates. Because we are both powerful witches we have certain options open to us that no one else in existence has even dreamed of.”

“This isn’t our first life together.” Willow said. “We have lived several lives together and until now each seemed to get worse and worse. Our first life was on a world very different from this one. All the people here are more or less the same as they were there. It’s just everything else that is different.”

“How different?” Gunn asked.

“You wouldn’t believe them if they told you.” Cassie said.

“Okay seriously why does she know?” Alonna asked.

“I get visions.” Cassie said. “Mostly it’s horrible stuff but ever since I moved here it’s mostly been a highlight reel of Dawn’s sister saving the whole world.”

“What’s a highlight reel?” Xander asked.

“An expression based on a form of entertainment and an invention from our first life that does not have an equivalent here.” Willow explained.

“Inventions like the stuff you cook up in the lab with Fred?” Gunn asked in a slightly hopeful tone.

“Not even close.” Willow said drawing confused looks from everyone. “Okay guys I’m just going to come out and say it. This dimension is primitive. There are forms of technology I can perfectly remember how to make but I can’t replicate them because the tools to make them don’t exist in this world. I can’t even make those tools yet because the tool to make the tools don’t exist either. Most of what I’ve been doing with Fred is trying to get our chemical engineering up to a level where I can start synthesizing useful compounds for city wide use but it’s an incredibly long process.”

“How primitive are we?” Roger Burkle asked. He was a blacksmith and knew something about the strange inventions and designs Willow kept running by all the tradesmen in the city.

“This world is barely beginning to enter the Iron Age.” Willow answered the man. “From the moment I got my memories back I’ve been searching historical documents looking for reasons why and it seems like several dozen key historical inventors and philosophers were eaten by demons before they could get around to the work they did on other worlds. They could have advanced science over a thousand years beyond what counts as cutting edge here. But they never got the chance and I’m trying to get things back on track.” Willow paused before diving back into another long babble.

“It’s like I know how to build a world wide information network that connects all mankind together but I can’t even start to work on it because I’m stuck beating rocks together.” Willow lamented. “There were machines the size of my palm that allowed you to talk to any other person on the entire planet. Half the population owned vehicles shaped like large wagons that could travel a hundred miles an hour without a horse. We built machines that could fly through the air and take you around the world in hours. Rockets that carried enclosed capsules millions of miles from the earth’s surface. Man even walked on the moon and safely returned several times.”

“Sweetie.” Tara whispered as the people around the table stared in open mouthed shock at the redhead’s descriptions of wonders beyond their imagination.

“Sorry baby.” Willow said. “So where was I?”

“Begin again with the first time you lost Tara.” Cassie suggested. “That will probably help set the stage best.”

“You lost Tara?” Dawn asked in shock. “How?”

“Warren shot her.” Willow said with a hollow voice. It was as if the life and spirit had left her the moment the painful memory surfaced.

“Warren, as in the guy that took over your library?” Xander asked. “No wonder you took extra time chopping him up.” He said as he looked back to Tara.

“No one messes with my girl.” Tara stated.

“Did he shoot you with an arrow or some kind of magic?” Doyle asked.

“A weapon I could easily reinvent in this world and distribute to our forces.” Willow replied with a bitter laugh. “But I never will.”

“That’s understandable.” Xander said. “What happened after you lost her?”

“Imagine what you saw today only with my hair turning pitch black, my face covered in dark veins and instead of giggling on the ground I’m hunting Warren down and skinning him alive.” Willow replied. “And once he was dead I turned on each of you that happened to live within the same city. I came so close to destroying the entire world.”

“Damn Red.” Faith whistled. “How close did you get to ending it all?”

“At the last minute my brother stopped me by telling me he loved me.” Willow said.

“Thanks for that by the way Xander.” Tara added.

“I was your brother?” The young man asked.

“In every way that counted except blood.” Willow told him. “We grew up together. We knew everything about each other. And when Buffy came to the hellmouth our home town was built on we helped her fight every monster that came to end our world.”

“As touching as this all is kiddos you still haven’t explained the whole multiple lives thing.” Lorne said as Xander stared at Willow in awe.

“Right, sorry.” Willow said. “After I lost Tara and lost my mind Giles, that would be Buffy’s watcher sitting in our dungeon right now, sent me to England to a coven so I could relearn control.”

“So she could learn all the basic rules I should have been t-teaching her from the start of our relationship but was too much of a coward to s-say anything.” Tara added.

“No, Baby you tried your best.” Willow countered. “I should have done a better job listening.” The redhead paused for a long moment to stare into the eyes of her love. “Anyway I came back to town a few months later and helped Buffy destroy an incorporeal old one and the hellmouth itself. That would be the first time I cast the Slayer awakening spell you all saw us cast today. After that I spent years trying to get my life back together while helping Buffy deal with the world we had changed. Things didn’t turn out as good as I hoped. About a year after the third time Buffy died I realized I’d never be as happy as the brief time I spent with Tara helping raise Dawn after Joyce passed.”

“I died?” Joyce asked with growing concern. “Wait, Buffy died three times?”

“Everyone died Joyce.” Willow replied. “It wasn’t a very safe world we lived in. I spent a few decades towards the end of my life crafting a spell. When I died that spell broke off a large part of my soul. One part went to the afterlife. I really hoped I had redeemed myself enough to be allowed to spend eternity with Tara, but I couldn’t count on that. The rest of my soul and all my memories went on to a younger version of me in another dimension far away. Another version of Earth where I would get a chance to set things right and spend another lifetime in the arms of the woman I loved.”

“And you found her?” Dawn asked with a voice filled with awe by the love her friends shared.

“She found me.” Tara said. “Luckily for her that world was relatively peaceful.”

“How peaceful?” Fred asked.

“The number of hell dimensions pressing up against the borders of that world could be counted on one hand.” Willow said. “There were almost no demons and stable interdimensional portals didn’t work at all. So the shamans that made the original Slayer never bothered ruining Sineya’s life on that world. Magic still worked which made my job so much easier. I went to Tara’s home and took her away from her scumbag father and brother.”

“He wasn’t a warlord then but h-he was still a horrible person.” Tara remarked. “We haven’t met a nice version of him yet.”

“Once I had her back in my home I spent weeks getting her to love me.” Willow explained.

“It only took her seconds but I wanted to play hard to get for once in my miserable life.” Tara said with a coy smile.

“After we started dating I eventually told her how I had gotten so much magical power at such a young age.” Willow continued her tale. “I cast a spell that gave her the memories of the Tara from my first life. I even gave her memories of my own from the moments I’m still ashamed of.”

“And it made me love you even more.” Tara said. “You went through so much Willow. Yes you made some mistakes and you hurt me when I trusted you most, but you turned your life around. You made yourself a better person and gave me all the proof I needed to cast my doubts aside.”

“I still can’t believe you’ve forgiven me.” Willow said quietly.

“You crossed from one world to another to save me from my psychotic father.” Tara replied. “You took me into your life and shared every part of yourself with me. You confessed your greatest fears and shame to me knowing it might end the relationship you wanted more than anything else in the world. How could I not love you even more?”

The friends and loved ones gathered around the table watched with varying degrees of cheerful smiles as the two young women gazed longingly into each others eyes. After a time Willow finally cleared her throat and continued the story.

“We lived together for several years.” The redhead explained. “We grew, we loved, we raised a family. We had a home we could both be proud of. Friends we trusted more than anything else. We were so happy we didn’t want it to end.”

“You cast the spell again and came here.” Alonna said with calm approval in her voice.

“Not even close.” Willow replied.

“We cast a much stronger spell to bind our souls on a never ending journey from one pair of our doubles in a far off dimension to the next.” Tara answered with no small amount of pride in her voice. “Whenever we find each other or one of us needs the magical power we’ve accumulated to survive the spell unlocks memories of our past so we can find one another and live out our life together.”

“That third life didn’t pan out so well.” Willow said. “Tara found me because her dad was an ass again. The world had just as many demons as our first life. We had Buffy on our side and due to the way Xander saved Buffy’s life Faith was also fighting along side us as a full fledged Slayer. There was a big battle coming up and I decided it would be a great chance to dig up the super weapon hidden for the eleventh hour so Buffy could use it much earlier in her career. That was a mistake.”

“You couldn’t do the Slayer spell on that world?” Faith asked.

“I took Buffy to the place the Scythe was buried.” Willow said. “I magicked it out of the ground for her. I told Tara to stay behind at home and prepare the spell to unlock all the Slayers while Buffy and I went to the hellmouth to fight the giant tentacle covered hydra that burst out every time some cult tried to open the hellmouth. Buffy went for the biggest head with her new weapon and the hellmouth was destroyed.”

“Well that’s great.” Doyle said. “You were able to destroy the hellmouth in one blow.”

“Along with everything else.” Tara corrected, drawing confused and horrified looks from everyone.

“The second the blade touched the beast the hellmouth exploded.” Willow went on. “The entire town was turned to dust in an instant. Thousands of lives snuffed out. We died, then moved on to another life in another world and somewhere on that world a new Slayer was called.”

Silence reigned over the library once more. The gravity of the admission was something none of Tara and Willow’s inner circle expected to ever hear. Few of them could even grasp the idea that thousands of lives had ended in one explosion of mystical power.

“So you can see why we’re so concerned about that w-weapon.” Tara said all too casually. “It isn’t something to be taken lightly. Everything happened so quickly the last time it surfaced that I didn’t even get a chance to see the damn thing until today.”

Finally someone spoke up. It was Willow’s mother. She had questions she needed answered.

“Are you still my daughter and how many lives have you two lived together?” Sheila asked.

“Mom, of course I’m still your daughter. And our relationship in this world is closer than any of the others I’ve lived through.” Willow assured her mother. “This is our twelfth life.”

“How come Red is the only one working with Fred on lab stuff if you both remember all this advanced stuff from other worlds?” Faith asked, quickly derailing the storm of emotions building in the redhead’s mother.

“Cause Willow is smarter than me.” Tara said happily causing strange looks around the table. “What? I’m n-not kidding. Guys she’s smarter than something like half the people in this city put together. I remember all the technology stuff she talked about before but that doesn’t mean I have the first clue how to build any of it from scratch.”

“Are these new powers you unlocked in us permanent?” Alonna asked.

“Each of you girls that we’ve been training in the academy, and a few thousand more all over the world, will be Slayers until the day y-you die.” Tara stated. “Just like Buffy.”

“Can Buffy and Giles be trusted?” Xander asked. The question drew a glare from Dawn and Cassie, a nervous fidget from Joyce, and several concerned looks all around the table.

“Yes.” Both Tara and Willow said in unison.

“We weren’t kidding w-when we said both of them are a part of this family.” Tara added.

“Tara will talk to them tonight.” Willow said. “Guys please give them a chance. They really are great people. They were just lied to by the watchers council.”

“I think that’s everything we had to reveal today.” Tara said after it seemed like no one had questions left to ask. “Guys we know this is a lot to process. Thank you for hearing us out.”

“Oh I forgot to mention.” Xander said as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small message written on carrier bird paper. “The mining camp sent this in. It seems like they caught the light show way up in the mountains.”

“The light from that spell traveled that far?” Ira asked in bewilderment.

“Farther.” Tara said as Willow grabbed the note and they began reading together. It wasn’t long before slight smiles spread across both their faces.

“Send back word that everything is fine. The wards will hold. Also tell Snyder he has something to tell our miners.” Willow said as a wicked grin took up residence on her face.

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

The raven came to rest on the perch atop the garrison. The soldier assigned to communications took the message from its leg and made haste towards the two men in charge of operations for the small camp.

“I still say we load up with crosses, holy water, and crossbows and make sure nothing exits the mine tonight.” Larry said as Snyder paced the large man’s office.

“Boy there are seven vampires in that mine.” The diminutive man shot back. “Six of them are masters, each over a hundred years old. They’re too clever for that. If the wards have failed we can’t be on this mountain come nightfall. We have no choice but to collapse the entrance and hope that buys us enough time to flee with our tails between our legs.”

“Sirs!” Called the young soldier as he came to stand in the doorway of Larry’s office. “Message from the capital.”

Snyder took the slip of paper from the man and a devious smile spread across his face as he read it. He handed the note to Larry and began to beam at the young man bearing the good news.

“Exemplary work my boy.” Snyder told the soldier. “This is just the thing we needed to hear. I have some pomp and circumstance to make ready.” With that the balding man sped out of the garrison and off towards his house. A raven followed him. He didn’t even hear Larry ask one final question.

“What’s a Slayer?”

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

Angelus paced the shadows along the edge of the barrier. He could not stand the constant bickering between Luke and the others he and Darla had sired. Jesse often tried to suggest compromises but as the youngest prisoner of the mine his voice carried no weight. The dark haired master’s brooding was interrupted by a commotion at the entrance.

“This way boys.” Snyder called out loudly as he strolled in holding a large lantern. “Set up the torches around the central chamber. No one go anywhere near the metal line.”

Angelus watched in shock as a dozen soldiers marched into the cavern at the heels of the little man that was their warden. Up until now the worm was the only human any of the vampires had seen here aside from the ones they fed upon. Snyder had mentioned “the boys” once or twice but the vampire had no idea he was referring to armed soldiers.

“What’s all this then Snyder?” Angelus called out in an almost casual brogue.

“Angelus dear boy.” Snyder said as her turned to the vampire and revealed the raven perched on his shoulder. “Good to see you. You can help me inform your compatriots about the big event.”

“What big event?” Darla asked as she came to stand beside Angelus.

“Darla good to see you too.” Snyder said with a cheery grin. “Do you and Drusilla want me to send down any nicer dresses? Nothing too fancy mind you but I figure you ladies might want to look your best for the inspection.”

“Inspection?” Jesse said as he came up to the barrier with Penn.

“Ah Susan, Sally. You’re here as well. Perfect!” Snyder cried in excitement. “Did either of you want a pretty dress for the big event?”

“No thank you. I’m good for dresses.” Jesse said as Penn seethed. “What big event?”

“Why the royal inspection of the Witch King’s mines of course.” Snyder said as he waved for soldiers to position unlit torches around the chamber. “In a matter of days the Witch King will be paying us a personal visit. You see my Lord has just recruited a new general and increased the kingdoms military strength by at least ten fold. I’m told the general will be coming along for the show and is very interested in meeting all of you.”

“What interest could this new general have in us and why should we care about him?” Penn demanded to know.

“Oh I’m sure you’ve heard of her.” Snyder replied casually as all the motion from the soldiers stopped and each human in the mine turned to look at the vampires. “Maybe not her specifically but you’ve definitely heard of her title and office.”

Angelus had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. He had been hunting humans for a very long time and he had heard a great many stories he knew better than to go searching for. A female general interested in them could only mean one thing.

“You see dear friends.” Snyder went on with lavish hand gestures. “The new general my Lord has just recruited is a very special young woman. She’s cunning and brave. Stronger than a dozen men. As fast as an arrow. A very special girl indeed.”

“What is he talking about?” Jesse asked.

“A very special girl.” Snyder repeated. “After all, this new general coming to visit our little mine.” He paused for a moment. “She’s the Slayer.”

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

Alonna and Faith stared in shock at the visceral reactions each of the vampires had to the revelation that the Slayer would be visiting their prison. Entering the large spherical room lined with mirrors for the first time had been something of a surprise to both girls. Neither had ever suspected Tara and Willow had such a place hidden in the library.

Learning that the mirrored surfaces could be attuned to the eyes of any raven in Tara’s vast conspiracy was also somewhat startling but it answered several questions about the kingdom’s intelligence gathering abilities. This particular bird was also enchanted so that every sound he heard was carried into the observatory.

The two Slayers standing behind the chair the two witches were sitting in marveled at the terror one or two of the vampires exhibited at the mere mention of the Slayer. The older ones guarded their reactions better but were visibly shaken. After all they were fish in a barrel and the most threatening human they could ever face was coming for them.

“How much you wanna bet one of those two craps his pants when Blondie rolls in there with over a dozen slayers?” Faith asked casually.

“Oh that blond guy is definitely going to faint of something.” Alonna replied.

The four women watched as the vampires collected themselves enough to put up a good show of their usual bravado for their warden and the handful of soldiers still in the mine.

“Oh Baby.” Willow said as she noticed one of the men. “You didn’t tell me Larry was up there with Snyder.”

“I didn’t?” Tara asked. “I swear I thought I mentioned that once before. I really never told you I found Larry in this world?”

“Nope.” Willow replied as she casually rested her head on Tara’s shoulder. “You told me about the mine and the time you caught Angelus and Spike’s crew of six. You even told me Snyder was their warden. But never a mention of Larry.”

“I have no idea how I let that slip.” Tara admitted. “I put him in charge of the military operations up there specifically because of what he did to help you in high school.”

“What did he do for you guys in school?” Alonna asked with a slight smile.

“The mayor turned out to be a nearly immortal warlock.” Willow said. “He had this big plan to ascend beyond his human form. Unfortunately his ascension turned him into a giant snake demon with a head bigger than Tara’s large carriage and a body thick enough and long enough that he could wrap it around the base of this tower at least once. The first thing he was going to do was eat all of our classmates. Larry gave his life saving others that day.”

“Hey Al.” Faith said. “He sounds like a catch.”

“Faith!” Alonna shot back.

“Unfortunately none of us are his type.” Tara remarked with a grin.

“What’s his type?” Faith asked.

“A lot closer to Xander or Gunn than anyone in this room.” Willow replied. Faith took one more look at the screen then turned to Alonna and started laughing.

“I don’t recall giving you this much grief over your crush on Buffy.” Alonna said with a huff.

Both Willow and Tara’s heads shot up at that statement. They looked at each other for a long moment then back to Faith. Sudden realization Dawned on them.

“Faith, do you like Buffy?” Tara asked with a slight smile.

“I did before she turned the town square into a battlefield.” The brunette replied with a measured tone while deliberately avoiding eye contact.

“Faith what do you think of Buffy?” Tara asked with a much more serious tone.

Faith looked at the two witches staring at her with expectant looks and felt like she couldn’t hide the truth anymore.

“I think B is amazing.” Faith replied slowly. “She's the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. I had this whole romantic date planned from the moment I saw her approaching the city on the main road. The thought that the old dude walking with her wasn’t her dad but some creepy sugar daddy almost made me physically ill. I even told Dawn I cold see the two of us getting hitched one day.”

“Faith.” Tara and Alonna said quietly.

“I’m so unbelievably stupid for not seeing this before.” Willow said as she put her head in her open palms. “All the signs were there.”

“What’s the problem?” Faith asked.

“You.” Willow replied. “Being in love with Buffy. It’s something I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to figure out. It explains so much about the actions you took over and over in our past lives. What the hell is wrong with me? I should have been able to spot the signs.”

“You were too close Sweetie.” Tara said. “Faith, you may need to give her time but this relationship with Buffy is something you should pursue.”

“You askin’ me to get lucky Boss?” Faith asked with a smirk. “Cause I’ll do a lot for this kingdom but I never expected getting some ass was on the short list.”

“No Faith.” Tara said calmly. “I’m asking you go ahead and see if you can build the relationship you were day dreaming about. If you two can find happiness in each other’s arms in this world then that is something Willow and I need to consider about every other world we may end up living through.”

“So you’re what?” Faith asked. “Going to manipulate us into banging in another life if things go well here?”

“If things go well here then that means all we’d have to do in most other worlds is get you two to meet early enough and let you two fall in love on your own.” Tara said. “Even if things don’t work out it is still something we have to consider. Both of you deserve to be happy.”

“You sayin’ B don’t end up happy most of the time?” Faith asked with a curious tone.

“She has terrible taste in men Faith.” Willow said. “Now that I think about it you were always extra flirty with her in our first life. But then her stupid ex came back to life and got in between you two. I always thought that version of you was just a crazy bitch that turned on us but now I think you turned because you couldn’t stand the idea of being right next to her night after night fighting side by side and not having her.”

“I was evil?” Faith asked in shock.

“You were a troubled kid and that crazy evil mayor we mentioned was the first adult in your life to treat you like family.” Tara corrected. “He was a master at manipulating people.” The Witch King paused for a long moment before making a decision.

“I’m going to talk to Buffy and Giles.” Tara said. “I’ll tell them what we know about Merrick and let them out of their cells. If all goes well Buffy can join the Academy and share all of her experience with the girls.”

Willow stood from Tara’s lap and offered her love a hand up. The two Slayers shared a look as Tara left the spherical room and Willow took her seat once more. With a gesture Willow changed the images on the screen. The view of the bird returning to the tower roost shifted to display a view of both cells. At the stunned looks on both Slayer’s faces Willow smiled.

“Tiny gems imbedded in the dungeon walls across from each cell.” Willow remarked. “Now let’s watch my Baby work.”

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

Buffy sat in her cell. The conversation with her mother and sister still weighed heavily on her mind. The mild back and forth flirting with Faith had her stomach tied in knots for hours. She was consumed with emotions she didn’t want to dwell on while locked in a cage. Buffy tried to get one of the younger girls guarding them to talk but they all kept silent in the absence of Alonna and Faith. It was clear just who was at the top of the class in this Slayer Academy Faith had mentioned.

Suddenly the door at the end of the hallway opened and closed. Buffy’s head shot up. She couldn’t help but hope that her mother and sister had returned. She would even have gladly taken another opportunity to chat with Faith. The figure she saw dashed those hopes.

“Leave us.” Tara said. Without a word or hesitation the eight new Slayers guarding the Slayer and watcher stood and left the dungeon. Once the door was closed behind the last of them Tara turned to Buffy and smiled. “It’s amazing isn’t it? Each of those girls is a Slayer strong enough to sn-snap me in half without breaking a s-sweat and they still listen to my orders.”

“Funny.” Buffy replied. “I seem to recall you giving me a run for my money earlier today.”

“That was all my enchanted armor. Without it I’m practically d-defenseless.” Tara said. “What did you think of it Buffy? I wanted s-something strong enough to stand up to just about any demon and scary looking enough to terrify slavers and bandits staring down the business end of my sword.”

“Well you succeeded on both counts.” Buffy replied. “I wasn’t even fazing you until I pulled out my Scythe.”

“Oh you had me on the ropes for more of the fight than I let on Buffy.” Tara assured. “That opening attack nearly took my arm off. Willow would have been so disappointed. She likes that arm.”

“Ah that redheaded lover of yours.” Buffy said with a smirk. “So you and her are both witches right? I have to assume so after what you did with my Scythe. Did the rest of your kingdom know about your consort or were you hiding that from them?”

“Fiancé, and just about everyone who w-works in and around the citadel knows.” Tara replied casually. “I’m always walking in on her meetings with the tradesmen and various smithies. Every blacksmith in this city has s-seen me scoop her up in my arms and haul her off to our private ch-chambers.” She finished with a wistful sigh. “I really can’t imagine any of my citizens not at least suspecting the truth before today. I may not have told them all in person but I didn’t hide anything.”

“And they still follow you?” Buffy asked with a slightly awe filled tone.

“Near as I can tell.” Tara answered before looking Buffy in the eye. “Buffy I meant what I said earlier. I’m not your enemy and I really hope that one day very soon we can be friends. Willow and I both want you on our side and I know Dawn and Joyce missed you every day since they saw you last.”

“And what about the council’s orders?” Buffy asked. “They must be afraid of you for some reason or else they wouldn’t have sent me here.”

“Did you ever stop and think that maybe they are afraid of you?” Tara asked. “I know they can’t be too comfortable knowing you have the Scythe.”

“What could they possibly have to fear from lil’ ol’ me?” Buffy said with a mildly sarcastic laugh.

“Rightful vengeance for one.” Tara answered. “Your eighteenth birthday is coming up isn’t it? Giles tell Buffy about the Cruciamentum.”

“Oh dear lord.” Giles moaned. “I had hoped to avoid that actually. I just couldn’t figure out a way to hide her from the rest of the council when the time came.”

“Giles what is she talking about.” Buffy asked. The defeated tone in her watcher’s voice set her on edge.

“If the Slayer lives to turn eighteen years old the council puts her through a rite of passage that is an age old tradition.” Tara said. “They order the girl’s watcher to drug her so she looses her powers and then they lock her up in a confined space with a deranged vampire they keep half starved. At least that’s what it’s like in other dimensions. Is it different here?”

“No, you described the whole gruesome affair rather accurately.” Giles sighed as he hung his head in shame on the other side of the stone wall from Buffy.

“Giles?” Buffy called out to the one man she trusted. “You wouldn’t. How could you even think of doing that to me after everything we’ve been through?”

“I never wanted to cause you any more pain than that which has already been heaped upon you dear girl.” Giles assured his Slayer with a sad voice. “I don’t know of any way to keep the rest of the council out of your life though.”

“Speaking of the rest of the council I found this in the slave caravan that I took Dawn and Joyce from.” Tara said as she pulled out a folded piece of paper. “It’s something of a purchase order Southern Claw uses to inventory the lives they ruin.” Tara skimmed the list of names and descriptions until she came to the ones she needed the Slayer to see.

“Oh here it is.” The Witch King said happily. “Cargo – One blonde woman, middle aged. One brunette girl, young – virgin. Client purchasing Cargo – The Mad Queen. Freelance Contractor scouting cargo and facilitating acquisitions.” Tara trailed off and turned the page so Buffy could see the signature. The bold “M” scribbled in the space sent a chill down her spine.

“Merrick?” Buffy whispered. “Merrick sold my family to a slave guild?”

“Seems that way.” Tara affirmed before taking a few steps to stand in front of Giles’ cell. “Mr. Giles I’m going to ask you this once and only once. Your fate in my kingdom depends on you answering honestly. Did you know?”

“I swear I never even suspected this until I met Joyce earlier today in this very dungeon.” Giles said holding steady eye contact with Tara for a long moment. He then turned to the wall of his cell and called out. “Buffy please believe me. Had I known I would have done everything in my power to track your family down and kill the blighters responsible for their suffering.”

“How can I believe anything you say to me?” Buffy said in a hollow voice. At the distraught tone Tara moved back to stand outside Buffy’s cell. The honey blonde was struck much harder than she expected as she saw tears flowing freely down the Slayer’s puffy cheeks.

“Oh Sweetie.” Tara said as she quickly unlocked the cell door and moved inside. Buffy flinched as Tara wrapped her arms around her petite frame. It wasn’t long though before Buffy let the emotions she had been holding back overtake her.

“Everything is going to be okay now.” Tara whispered as Buffy began to weep into her shoulder. Moments passed before the sobs tapered off and Tara stopped stroking Buffy’s hair. With a sniffle Buffy pulled away from Tara slightly.

“Why are you doing this?” Buffy asked weakly.

“Sweetie.” Tara began. “You may not believe it now but you’re family as far as I’m concerned. Come with me. I’ll bring you to Joyce and Dawn’s chambers. You’ll be settled in before you know it.”

“Okay.” Buffy whispered as Tara took her hand and guided her out of the cell.

“You too Mr. Giles.” Tara added as she unlocked his cell. “I have a special place reserved for you just off the main library. It’s right next to the Slayer Academy.”

Giles nodded with what enthusiasm he could barely muster. In seconds he and his distraught charge were following the Witch King through the halls of her massive citadel. Before they even knew what was going on Giles had collapsed into the soft bed in the loft overlooking the main room of his new home.

Buffy fell into her mother and sister’s arms as soon as she was standing in their rooms. The very real presence of the family she thought was long dead moved the Slayer’s frayed emotions past the breaking point.

Fresh tears began to wash away the day’s turmoil as Tara made her way back to the bed she shared with Willow. She had reconnecting of her own to do.

_________________
Time and Time Again


Last edited by Citanul on Fri Dec 12, 2014 8:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 12:05 pm 
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Dibs-y goodness!

Yay for excellent update-y goodness... I'm glad that Buffy & Giles are now aware of the Council's evilness... I see a visit from the Witch king and the Slayer Army to the Watcher Council and teaching the council the foolishness of messing with the plans of Willow & Tara... Big lol for the reaction of the mine occupants to the news of visit of few slayers...

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 1:12 pm 
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Goddess, i love this story!

Goddess, this story is annoying!

Uh, what?


What i mean, is it's like going to one of those smorgasbord places for your birthday.
So many choices, only so much space in your tummy.

My favourite section keeps changing!.

Currently it's hovering between the 'Prime' timeline and the 'Witchking.'

It changes.


Anyway, great chapter.

Good to see the Summers family reunited.
And it raises interesting thoughts about the watchers council.
Opinion is divided in canon Buffy about the council, whether they were just massively incompetent, or outright corrupt.
I'm curious as to what they're like in this world.

And Buffy/Faith, "When i make love to you..." not 'If' :)
Interesting to see Buffy NOT freaking out.
Maybe this world has more important things to worry about than who people end up in bed with?
If so, our world could use a lesson or two.

As always, looking forward to the next bit :bounce

R :flower

P.S: nice that we're slowly piecing together Willow and Tara's lives. So, the Witchking is early in their career, and Prime is late. now to figure out the other two :)

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 Post subject: Re: Time and Time Again
PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 11:11 pm 
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Reposted chapter 14 below the replies.

Hello Zampsa and Azirahael. You both raised excellent points about the watchers and the practices of the council.

Despite what Alonna and Faith said it is going to be a lot harder for Tara to march an army through the front door of the council headquarters. The organization has pretty impressive defenses, and its main library is located in England. The kingdom of the Witch King is not.

Besides Tara and Willow have a few more pressing matters to resolve with much closer threats than Quentin Travers.

It’s good that the family is reunited. It shouldn’t be overlooked that the only reason Tara survived her fight with Buffy is because Joyce and Dawn happened to be on the sidelines.

I may have glossed over it but Buffy was doing plenty of freaking out in her own head. Though it might have been the good kind of freaking out.

And you’re right about the placement so far. Of the four worlds Dark Ages is the first and, based on the toys Willow has given the Slayers, the Buffyverse story is the last. At least from Willow and Tara’s perspective. The Goddess, the First and a few other characters later on might have different perspectives.

As for the council, I like to think the organization is solidly in the neutral camp, with strict adherence to the doctrines “For the greater good.” And “The ends justify the means.”

It can be argued that all the unseemly actions they undertake evolved from the base rules governing the Slayer that the Shadow Men put in place.

From the perspective of the head of the council they are fighting a war for the fate of all mankind. Travers need only tell himself that to justify whatever he orders.

They are an ancient and secret order that “Watches” for two things. Signs of the Apocalypse, and signs of Slayer potential in the world’s population of preteen girls.

They have vast resources. They are able to take or adopt a percentage of potentials from their parents. Kendra. Or they may be able to get the parents to sign waivers to send their girls off to "special boarding schools" and "youth camps" for training the family isn’t entirely aware of. Ken, Vi, Rona, Molly, and most off the girls from season seven. Schools and camps may be elaborate euphemisms for whatever training site each watchers has access to.

But they obviously don’t have limitless resources and insight into the Slayer Line. The vast majority of potentials go unnoticed until called. Buffy and Faith were not found until right before or right after they were Chosen. Amanda and all of the thousands of potentials made into full fledged Slayers in the series finale were never found by the Council and proved they and the First didn’t have perfect awareness of the Slayer Line.

The best the Council can do is have a handful of agents like Merrick out in the world looking for newly Chosen girls. Giving them the bare minimum of training before something kills the girl and they move on as the rest of the council hopes that “Fate” picks a girl they have been preparing for most of her life.

The movie Merrick even said he had trained five girls before Buffy. So obviously, no matter how good he trained them, he still got each of them killed and moved on.

Looking at the rules for how a girl is called it’s clear the council doesn’t have long term investments in their survivability. If a girl is the Chosen One for too long the prevailing thinking is that she’ll get burned out and die while trying to stop a world ending threat. So instead the council holds a trial by fire that the girl isn’t meant to survive in order to help “fate” get a do over and select the next “one girl in all the world.”

Enter the Cruciamentum.

As for incompetence, it’s clear they have fallen into one unchanging pattern. “The council fights evil. The Slayer is their instrument. When one instrument breaks the hand picks up a new one. All of their resources are focused on sharpening that one instrument and getting what they hope is the next one lined up quickly.

The First and Willow did the two things they never expected that completely threw this system out the window.

Willow made it so there were far too many instruments for one hand to ever hope to pick up and the First simply cut off the hand before the instrument saw it coming.

All of this is obviously gruesome and horrible for the young girls whose lives are ruined. But the council didn’t make the rule that in order for one to be called one has to die. They have just lived with it for all of human history.

As for corrupt there is one thing that should be considered when judging the council.

After the first time Buffy died they knew it was possible to have multiple Slayers active at once. Someone had to have gotten two reports stapled together and slapped on Travers’ desk. One from Giles concerning the death of the Master and the true outcome of the prophecy. And one from Sam Zabuto saying he found the next Slayer.

That fact taught them that all they needed to build a Slayer army was the current Chosen One, a bucket of water, and a team of paramedics standing by ready to perform CPR. The fact they didn’t cross that line has to count for something.

As for the Dark Ages world. The council is pretty much the same. They are just operating under the much harsher rules and social norms of that world. Humanity hasn’t gone through the enlightenment, the Renaissance, or the industrial age. It can even be argued that the demons are winning.

The world itself is such a vicious place that other people are just as much of a threat. Slavery is such a common practice that Tara was able to populate a city with several hundred people by raiding slave caravans in the countryside surrounding the repurposed ruins of her father’s fortress. The lands once ruled by the Dread Warlord Maclay are tiny. The mass troop transport spells Tara has allow her to move forces into and through several of the surrounding kingdoms fairly quickly. But even then we are talking about an area something roughly less than a few thousand square miles or so.

Merrick betraying Buffy by selling her family out to slavers may have been something of an early Cruciamentum in his mind. Still doesn’t give him a leg to stand on but it does give Tara everything she needed to break any resistance to joining her that Buffy had left. It’s the kind of thing that proves, unless the council changes their methods quickly, they won’t be able to handle the thousands of new Slayers Willow and Tara made. Tara might not need to act at all.


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

Time and Time Again.

Author: Citanul

Feedback: Be kind, rewind?

Spoilers: Just about all of them. Go watch the show.

Rating: NC-17 Love scene at the end. A spicy one too.

Pairings: W/T, B/F

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 so I have no idea what I wrote here the first time. Even less of an idea why one chapter in the middle of this thread went missing. I think the dibs post is gone too. Anyway I went and double checked my old save of chapter 14 and squeezed it into this response post. Please enjoy.

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Chapter 14: Hats & Toys

“I’m surprised Buffy.” Joyce said as she, her daughters and Faith walked through the Sunnydale mall. “I expected more pleading about that outfit that made you look like a street walker.”

“But a thin streetwalker.” Buffy replied causing Faith to let out a bark of laughter.

Joyce merely rolled her eyes at her eldest daughter. At the disapproving expression Buffy tried to back track on any comments that might cause her mother to rifle through her wardrobe.

“I picked up a better looking outfit that was way more modest the last time the gang went shopping.” Buffy amended.

“Buffy, do I need to check your closet for anything too skimpy?” Joyce asked in a tone that caused Dawn to giggle.

“No Mom, I swear it isn’t anything too revealing.” Buffy said. “I just got it to go with these boots Faith got me so we could go dancing.”

At that admission Joyce stopped in her tracks and did a double take. Fearing her mother didn’t believe her Buffy lightly nudged Faith in the ribs.

“Huh, oh yeah.” Faith said as she jumped into the conversation. “No worries Mrs. S. B and I just wanted to dress up for a girl’s night at the Bronze. Just us Slayers.”

Joyce caught the hopeful glint in the brunette’s eyes and realized the girl was almost pleading with her to drop the subject. Clearly Faith was nervous about her plans falling apart or being revealed if the blonde Slayer over thought the scenario.

“That sounds lovely Honey.” Joyce said with a slight nod to Faith. She then looked around at the various shops along the walkway with a worried frown. “The stores are closing and I still need to order the flyers for the opening. Okay, Dawn and I’ll go to the printers and then get our food. You two go to the tailor and pick up my outfit from everyday woman.” Joyce finished as she handed Buffy a claim slip.

“Everyday Woman?” Buffy scowled.

“There’s the receipt.” Joyce said.

“Why didn’t you just go to “Muumuus R’ Us?” Buffy asked.

“Do now. Make fun of your mother later.” Joyce replied with a sigh and another eye roll before walking off with Dawn.

“Come on B, it’ll be fun.” Faith said as she dragged the petite blonde away in the opposite direction.

“So it’s okay to dress like a street walker if it’s for Faith?” Dawn asked with a coy smirk after the two Slayers were out of sight.

“No, but Faith does so much for Buffy and is doing her best to build a real relationship. I really can’t fault her.” Joyce said. “Beside, Buffy dressing inappropriately for random men to leer at her is different from her dressing like that with Faith running interference all night. Now come on my little Pumpkin Belly.” Joyce added while giving Dawn a playful hug.

Dawn simply laughed and went along with her mother.

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

“You gettin’ any pings B?” Faith asked as they stepped onto the down escalator.

“Now that you mention it my spidey senses have been tingling a little.” Buffy replied. She looked around the mall and saw a man in a cowboy hat hanging on a woman while moving up the other escalator. A quick glance at the mirror beside them revealed the surprising fact that the man had no reflection.

“I see him too B.” Faith said after the vampire and his intended victim passed them by. Once the demon and the girl were at the top and walking off Faith vaulted over the divider and landed on the up escalator. Buffy quickly followed suit. They had hunting to do.

Following their Slayer senses both young woman easily trailed the monster and woman to the closed arcade. He was hovering over the young woman’s exposed neck as she obliviously played pinball.

“Turn around Baby. I have something to show you.” The vampire said as he removed the white cowboy hat and revealed his game face.

“Wait a sec. This is my high score.” She replied as he swept her hair aside.

“Well ain’t you just got the prettiest little neck I ever did see.” He said, preparing to sink his fangs into the exposed flesh.

“Boy, you guys really never come up with any new lines do you?” Buffy said with an exasperated sigh.

“Do you mind?” The still clueless girl said. “We were talking here.”

“You promised you’d never cheat on me again, Honey.” Buffy said as she took a few steps forward.

“Um, I better go.” The girl replied as she started to panic.

“But I ain’t done yet.” The vampire replied as she turned to see his true face for the first time. The girl gasped then let out a startled scream and made a quick exit as the demon and Slayer squared off.

“Well alright Sugar Lips.” He said as he put his hat back on and began to circle Buffy. “Giddy Up.”

He made a clumsy swing for Buffy which she easily countered with a series of punches that knocked her opponent against an arcade cabinet.

“You’re a rough one ain’t ya?” He asked. “I like that.”

He lunged back into the fray and after trading a few more blows threw Buffy onto the pinball machine. He pulled Buffy up by grabbing the straps on her backpack.

“You must be that Slayer I’ve been hearing so much about.” He said. “Lyle Gorch. Pleased to meet ya.”

With a swift kick Buffy sent him flying into another pinball machine.

“Pleasure’s mine.” Buffy shot back before she leapt at her foe.

Lyle ducked and rolled across the room as Buffy pulled out her stake. With a smooth flourish he snatched up his fallen cowboy hat and returned it to his head. He stood and turned pointing a finger at the Slayer.

“This ain’t over.” Lyle promised. Before he could turn and run he lurched forward with a surprised look. His hat fell to the ground just before he exploded in a cloud of dust Buffy stared in mild surprise. Faith stepped out of the shadow by the arcade cabinet and slipped the stake back into her sleeve.

“Yeah it is.” The brunette said with a wide smirk.

“You know you could have jumped in at any time.” Buffy said with a pout.

“Aww shucks B.” Faith replied as she snatched up the cowboy hat and looked it over. “I reckon a pretty lil’ thang like you could more than handle herself.” She said as she placed the hat on her head.

“Great.” Buffy said with another eye roll. “Is the hat and accent gonna be a staple of our work life now?”

“That depends Darlin’.” Faith replied. “This doin’ anything for ya?” She asked with an eyebrow waggle.

As Buffy looked at her friend she let a loud snort burst out then turn into full blown laughter. Faith just grinned at the way she could bring a smile to the blonde’s face. It didn’t last long though.

“Shit B!” Faith called out as her smiled turned to panic. “Your Mom’s dress.”

“Crap.” Buffy said.

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

Joyce and Dawn sat at a table in the food court with four trays of food. The youngest Summers was looking around slightly nervously for her sister and the dark haired Slayer. Joyce was engaged in heavy eye rolling as she wondered if Faith’s efforts had far exceeded anyone’s expectations.

“Ooh, here they come.” Dawn said with an energetic glee that soon turned to a worried frown. “Something seems odd.”

Joyce looked to where her daughter was gazing and saw both Slayers slowly approaching. Faith was wearing a cowboy hat Joyce didn’t recognize and Buffy had a large bag from Everyday Woman in her hand.

“Honey is everything okay?” Joyce asked as they came to sit at the table. “You girls look like you just ran a marathon.”

“Damn vampire almost made us miss the store closing.” Buffy said with a huff. Joyce’s expression grew even more concerned which caused Buffy to wince slightly. “Everything’s okay Mom. We followed this baddie and some girl he was going to snack on to the closed arcade on the far side of the mall. She ran off after she saw his game face and I fought him.”

“And where was Faith while you were fighting?” Joyce asked with a concerned frown.

“Mom, chill.” Buffy said. “Faith was watching my back like always.”

At the suddenly wide eyed look on Joyce’s face Faith jumped into the conversation. She didn’t want Joyce worrying over the effect her emotions would have on their work life when Buffy was still a long way off from being told about those emotions.

“Oh yeah, B totally had him on the ropes so he makes to vamoose like.” Faith said. “But he didn’t even know I was there. So I’m all like. “Yo Dawg, what’s with the hat?” And he’s all like. “Don’t mess with Texas bitch.” So I staked him before he could run away.”

“Oh dear.” Joyce muttered.

“Wow. Really?” Dawn asked in awe.

“Nah, not really.” Faith said. “But I did get the drop on him as he was about to run away. Then we had to run all the way across the mall to get to the dress shop.”

“Thank you for looking out for Buffy Faith.” Joyce said with a genuine smile.

“No problem Mrs. S.” Faith replied. “Thanks for grabbing some food. I’m starving.” The Boston girl said as she dug into her plate.

As the girls began to eat Joyce looked to Buffy with a slightly nervous expression. After a few minutes passed Buffy finally noticed the tense atmosphere.

“Okay Mom, what’s the what?” Buffy asked with a neutral tone she was ready to turn into a full blown pout at any moment.

“It’s nothing Honey.” Joyce said at first. “It’s just. There is this gallery event coming up next weekend and I was wondering about asking Ru, Mr. Giles if he would like to accompany me.”

“Really Mom?” Dawn asked with a perplexed look. “Mr. Giles?”

Buffy’s expression fell for a moment before she decided to just go along with the obvious outcome. Buffy knew she couldn’t keep her mother from living her life. So long as she was with Giles it at least meant she wasn’t getting preyed upon by some demon or even another robot.

“Mom if you want to date Giles you can date Giles just, please don’t rub my face in it.” Buffy said after a long pause.

“Buffy.” Joyce began.

“No, okay?” Buffy replied. “I get it. You are not getting back together with dad and I’m not asking you to join a convent or something. It’s better that I know you’re seeing someone I know is human. I just don’t want to think about Giles doing anything besides wearing tweed, drinking tea and reading musty old books.”

“Seconded.” Faith added. “G man is a great watcher and everything. I couldn’t ask for a better one. But we don’t need to hear about him gettin’ his play on.”

Joyce looked at both Slayers for a long moment before a smile crept along her lips. She had worried the issue of her personal life after the Ted nightmare would turn into a fight, but apparently both Slayers had caught on much more quickly than Joyce could have hoped.

“Thank you.” Joyce said as she began to eat with her girls.

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

“Thank you again for meeting us Ms. Prescott.” Willow said in a cheery voice as the woman followed her into the library.

“I must say I was surprised by this recent purchase order.” The tall blonde said in a demure tone. “The limited availability and exceedingly volatile nature of this requisition is far outside the scope of your previous orders.”

As the woman spoke Willow and Tara simply met her seemingly concerned attitude with polite smiles. Prescott knew she was making a calculated risk but she had to ask the pressing question.

“I honestly can’t imagine what you would need this item for.” Prescott said with a placid tone.

Willow only smiled at the attempt to fish for information. She decided to grace the woman with the most tantalizing half answer she could come up with.

“In a short while a grave threat to the safety of this town is going to rise.” Willow said. “The item we requested from you will ensure that the situation at hand is dealt with in the most expedient way possible.”

Prescott smiled at the fact the young redhead saw right through her and gave her an honest answer without giving her anything at all. Without further delay she set a metal briefcase on the table and unlatched it so the two young women could get a clear look at its contents.

“I believe this will suit your needs.” Prescott said before closing the case. “It isn’t often that I’m asked to procure standard issue military ordinance.”

Willow reached over to her laptop and pressed a single button. She then turned to the arms dealer and smiled.

“The payment has been wired to your account. Believe me.” Willow replied. “We don’t plan on making a habit of this. But there were time constraints on this task that necessitated going through a third party.”

“Very well.” The tall blonde said with a courteous smile. “As always it has been a pleasure ladies.”

“Thank you again Ms. Prescott.” Tara said as the woman turned to leave the house.

Willow opened the case one more time and pulled out the metal cylinder. She checked to make sure the pin was in place and the ignition mechanism was in order.

“Think that’s really necessary Sweetie?” Tara asked.

“Probably not.” Willow replied. “But I can’t stand the thought of that ugly thing swallowing one of our friends.”

“I agree.” Tara admitted. “The sight of Buffy crawling out of that pit covered in that horrible black gunk.” A shiver ran up and down Tara’s spine at the vivid memory from several different lives.

At the sound of the front door opening and footsteps quickly approaching the library Willow hurried to place the weapon back inside the briefcase and close it.

“Sup girlfriends.” Faith called with a grin as she stepped inside the library still wearing the white cowboy hat she had managed to claim.

“Faith, where did you get that hat?” Tara asked with a nervous tone.

“B and I dusted Lyle Gorch while we were hitting up the mall with the Brat and Mrs. S.” Faith said. “Ya’ll weren’t in here messin’ with Texas now were ya? Cause I reckon ya ought not ta be doin’ that.” She finished with an outlandish southern drawl.

Willow and Tara shared a look before Willow went over to one of the book shelves and pulled out a relatively recently printed tome. She brought it back to the table and flipped through several pages before coming to a stop on one page with a sizeable picture of two men.

“This was him right?” Willow asked as Faith moseyed on up to her.

“Yeah Red, that’s the guy.” Faith replied. “Who’s the dingus next to him?”

“His brother Tector.” Tara said. “He’ll be in town and as soon as he figures out what happened he’ll want revenge.”

“I’ll warn B.” Faith said as she took the hat off and set it down on the table. “Probably best to leave this here so I can get the drop on the blood sucker.”

“You gonna leave the accent here too?” Willow asked.

“No can do Darlin’.” Faith said with another drawl and a wicked smile. “You can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the cowboy out of the girl unless you hit him with a fire hose or something.”

Both witches looked at the Slayer in shock for about a second before breaking out in laughter. Faith simply smiled at how close she had gotten with her new family in such a short time. With a carefree wave the Boston girl turned and headed upstairs. She had plans for a relaxing shower and a warm bed.

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

All seemed well the next day at school as most of the Scoobies gathered at their bench in the courtyard during lunch. The girls were busy discussing various plans they all had.

“So it’s the last day of class before the Christmas break. What are you gonna get down to B?” Faith asked with the smile it seemed she always reserved for the blonde.

“I dunno.” Buffy replied. “I’ll probably have to put in a lot of family time. We have to track down Teddy the Cowboy.”

“Tector.” Willow corrected with a light smile.

“But after that I’m pretty sure I owe you a night on the town to break in my new boots.” Buffy said to Faith. The brunette let the dopiest grin cross her face before she realized how obvious she was being. She quickly cleared her throat and tried valiantly to change the subject.

“Anyone know what the deal is with Xander and his whole here one minute gone the next thing?” Faith asked while turning to the witches.

“Odds are he’s in a closet somewhere making out with Cordelia.” Willow said with a neutral expression.

“What?” Buffy nearly shouted, drawing strange looks from all around. “No way! No freaking way!”

“I know right.” Willow said. “I don’t know how he does it.”

“Lots of people try th-things out before they f-finally meet the person they’re meant to be with.” Tara said with a crooked smirk.

“Okay but I was young and so completely confused.” Willow said while starting to grow worried. “Baby you said you didn’t hold that against me.”

“And I never will hold it against you.” Tara replied before putting on a positively wicked grin. “Not when there are so many other things I enjoy holding against you even more.”

Willow let out a startled meep as she felt Tara’s eyes practically undress her and lay her naked form out across the stone bench. Her skin began to take on a tone several shades closer to her hair color as Tara began to twirl long red locks around her fingers with one hand while massaging Willow’s inner thigh with the other. With a satisfied sigh Tara turned back to the Slayers while still playing with Willow’s hair.

“I’m just saying Xander is young and h-he’s going through s-something private that will hurt him but in the end make him a much b-better person.” The honey blonde finished.

“Okay, but with Cordelia?” Buffy asked.

“I know Buff.” Willow replied. “It will work itself out though. We just have to be there for our friend.”

“Alright, I guess I can be Supporto Gal.” Buffy sighed.

“Speaking of support we have a job to do tonight.” Willow said.

“How bad is it and will it ruin my hair?” Buffy asked, causing Faith to let out a snort of laughter.

“Demon nesting under the school.” Willow said. “Once everything shuts down for the break we’ll come back with Giles, or maybe just his keys, and sneak into the basement that now has a huge hole in one wall.”

“Then we need to hold off its offspring w-while one of us sets Willow’s new toy to take care of the mother.” Tara finished.

“What kind of new toy?” Buffy asked.

“The one time use, duck and cover kind.” Willow said with a grin.

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

The sun was just setting as Giles used his building keys to let the gang into the Library. With a slight smile he turned to Willow.

“From what I have read this Bezoar demon is nothing to scoff at.” Giles remarked. “It’s good that we have some advanced warning before it was able to fill the school with its spawn, but how were we planning on dispatching it again?”

“Relax G man.” Faith said as she strolled inside. “Red and Blondie got a new toy from that Prescott chick the other night.”

“The woman whose company made the body armor you designed?” Xander asked.

“Yup.” Willow replied. “Got it right here in my pocket. Tara and I just have to bless each of you so you can’t be controlled by the spawn. Then we head downstairs, I’ll levitate it over to the hole and set it off.”

“How big of a bang are we talking here Will?” Buffy asked with a worried frown.

“No bang at all.” Willow said. “Just a lot of heat.”

“I’ll set up the circle.” Tara said as she pulled several canisters of salt from a bag and began laying out ritual items and bags of herbs on the library table.

“How does this thing control us again Will?” Xander asked as the preparations took shape.

“It lays these eggs that look like chicken eggs.” Willow said. “Then they hatch and this ugly purplish gray thing that kinda looks like a face hugger from the Alien movies skitters up your back and latches onto your spine. The whole thing is very unpleasant.”

“Damn.” Faith said. “We really do gotta watch out for the ugly little shits crawling up our butts?”

“Hence the protection spell.” Tara said as she laid the last bit of the now completed circle in place. “Okay everyone step into the circle and hold still for a bit.”

Each of the Scoobies took care not to disturb the carefully laid out design on the floor as they stepped over it. Once both Slayers and both men were in place Willow and Tara took up opposite positions on either side.

Faith gave out a light laugh. Buffy turned to look her fellow Slayer in the eyes and the brunette quickly gave her a small smile.

“Last time I was in a circle between these two I was a muggle.” Faith admitted.

“Dawn get you reading those books too?” Buffy asked. Faith gave a little nod and then looked back to Giles as he softly chuckled.

“Quite.” Giles said with a weary smile. Perhaps one of the more obvious benefits to moving their headquarters out of the school library was the fact that students had started frequenting the place after he got in a shipment of books about a young boy wizard.

“Just wait till those movies start coming out Giles.” Willow said with an impish grin. “This place will be packed.”

“I don’t know how I shall ever contain myself.” The Brit replied with a soft smile.

“Everyone ready?” Willow asked. As their four friends nodded along Willow and Tara began to chant softly under their breaths. A minute passed before their voices rose to a discernable volume.

“Goddess hear us.” They intoned in unison. “Your children walk through darkness. Shroud them in blessed light. Shield them from all mind takers. Protect their will so they may honor yours.”

Light suffused the library as the watcher, the boy and the two Slayers felt their minds clear and their thoughts flow more freely. The spell took effect and they each breathed in a fresh breath of air. As the glare faded the four friends noticed that the circle of salt and herbs was gone. Tara and Willow stooped to retrieve the few crystals left behind.

Buffy turned to the two witches and quirked her head. Something had popped into her mind and she had to ask her friends about their own safety.

“What about you two?” Buffy asked. “Won’t you guys need this too?”

“Not really.” Willow replied with a coy smirk. “Tara and I have this much bigger spell that lasts over a month and has much more dramatic defenses. We cast the ward every other week and we just refreshed it this morning.”

“We can’t let anything use us against each other.” Tara said with firm conviction.

“Sweet.” Faith remarked. “Come on B let’s get to Slaying.”

Buffy smiled at her friend and felt a sudden uplifting in her spirit as the brunette looked at her. She gazed into deep chocolate pools for a long moment and for the first time in a long while felt at peace. Buffy wondered briefly if the spell had made her see something that wasn’t there before until she realized, whatever this was she was feeling, it had always been there. Just beneath the surface, waiting for her to notice.

For the briefest of moments Buffy knew she could trust Faith with much more than her life. She had no idea why that thought struck her with such terror.

For her part Faith favored the blonde with a warm smile. She had known Buffy would give her life new meaning for weeks now. The suddenly clear insight from the spell just confirmed what was in her heart. What came as a shock to Faith was the sudden realization of just why Joyce had cautioned her to take things slowly. Before the intense eye contact could escalate to a point Faith knew her love still wasn’t ready for she cocked her head to the side and grinned.

“Come on B.” Faith said as she turned and headed towards the basement.

Buffy, for her part, visibly shuddered as Faith turned and walked away. She couldn’t tell why but she knew she didn’t like the way it seemed like Faith gave up on a part of herself each time the brunette turned away from her. With out hesitation Buffy fell into step beside Faith and the two Slayers strolled out of the library side by side.

“Sweet merciful Zeus.” Xander said in open mouthed shock. “Did you guys see that?”

“I know right.” Willow said. “It’s so painful to watch two people so perfect for each other go through something like that because one of them can’t see it.”

“She’ll find a way.” Giles remarked. “Now let’s go give them all the support we can.”

With the watcher’s bold statement he, the boy and the witches quickly followed the Slayers. They all had work to do.

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

“You getting a reading too B?” Faith asked as Xander held the electric lantern up to illuminate the dark stair case behind the maintenance door.

“I’m getting something.” Buffy said.

As one unit the Scoobies moved down the stairs and into the basement of the school. Once at the foot of the stairs Willow and Tara led the group down a corridor and past several fuse boxes.

At the end of one corridor they saw stacks of boxes and barrels concealing one wall. With only minimal effort the Slayers knock the barricade down to reveal a gaping hole in the cement wall. Beyond the opening was a tunnel with rough stone walls.

“This school must have several of these tunnels all over this basement.” Willow said. “Damn warlock Mayor Wilkins and his demonic pacts.”

“The old Mayor was a demon?” Xander asked. “Why does that not surprise me as much as it should?”

“No he was mostly human.” Tara said.

“As human as a hundred and something year old sorcerer could be.” Willow remarked. “Why do you guys think we killed him the first week Tara showed up?”

“That was you?” Giles cried out, aghast.

“Oh yeah.” Willow replied. “The hardest part was sealing all of his vampire staff in the building as we cleared them all out. You wouldn’t believe how many blood suckers he had working for him.”

“How bad was the mess he would have brought down on us?” Buffy asked while not even looking at her friend. Something was off and she needed to be on high alert.

“For as much suffering as he caused to each of us he had simple dreams.” Willow admitted. “He wanted to ascend to the level and form of an Old One.”

“Oh dear lord.” Giles said.

“What kind of demon is that?” Faith asked.

“The creature all vampires are descended from was an Old One. One of the last and weakest.” Giles told her. “They were all powerful immortals that died out in the early days of humanity. But there are still legends of a place their bodies are held so they can’t be revived.”

“The Deeper Well.” Tara said. “If you guys are very unlucky we’ll h-have to take you there some day.”

“You know of.” Giles began before realizing his mistake. “Of course you know where it is. You probably went there to seal it in another dimension or the like.”

“Nope.” Willow said. “A few years from now one of the more powerful Old Ones is prophesized to escape. Its sarcophagus goes to where its kingdom once stood but it never accounted for continental drift. One of the side benefits of taking over the law firm is that we can have teams sent to kill the cultists waiting for their dead demigod and ship the damn thing back to the Well.”

“So we don’t have to worry about that one?” Buffy asked.

“Not for another four or five years. Even then if it manages to infect a human host its kingdom and army are already destroyed.” Willow said. “By then we’ll have bigger problems you’ll both need to focus on.”

“Bigger problems than an Old One?” Giles asked in shock.

“Oh yeah. You have no idea.” Willow said. Before she could continue a form jumped out at them from the shadows.

“Protect the Mother!” The small portly man with dark hair and glasses shouted as he lunged clumsily at the group.

“Mr. Whitmore?” Buffy shouted back. “What the hell?”

“Crap he’s already infected.” Willow cried out. “Xander, Giles! Hold him while we take out the demon.”

“I reckon you’ll be havin’ some problems with that.” A voice called out from behind them. Faith spun around and found the vampire that perfectly matched the picture of Tector Gorch standing behind them.

“Look B.” Faith called loud enough she was sure the vampire could hear. “This must be the little brother of that chump we dusted.”

“You really killed my brother?” He asked with a tone that barely held back seething hatred. “I’m gonna make all y’all pay.”

The vampire lunged at the two slayers who managed to sidestep without any effort. Tector went sailing into the cavern opening where the slowly awakening demon nested. Buffy and Faith were quick to follow. Giles and Xander were just as quick to subdue the high school’s health teacher.

“Come on Baby.” Willow said to Tara. “We have to get this done before it swallows one of them.”

Tara nodded and the two young women went through the tunnel into a large cavern that had a slowly moving pile of rubble in the middle of the cracked stone floor. Looking around the cavern they saw several of the small offspring skitter past the Slayers and up the legs of Tector Gorch.

The vampire quickly ripped off the creatures which caused a deep bellow to reverberate throughout the cave. Tector lunged again at Buffy who grabbed him by the collar and in one smooth flurry of motion flipped him over her. His hat went flying to the side as Tector himself skidded to a halt just over the center of the cracked floor. Tector looked down and saw the largest eye he had ever seen slowly crack open and glare at him.

“Well hello.” Tector said just before a tentacle wrapped around his neck and dragged him into the creature’s still buried maw. Screams and gurgling could be heard echoing through the chamber as the last of the Gorch brothers was digested.

“Well that solved one problem.” Tara remarked.

“Quickly.” Willow said as she pulled a small metal cylinder from her bag. “We need to end this.”

The demon’s offspring were quickly converging on the two witches. Buffy and Faith did what they could but there were dozens spread throughout the cavern. One of the beasts managed to touch Willow’s foot as she stood there focusing on the canister in her hand.

What happened next completely surprised both Slayers. A static charge erupted from the contact between witch and demon. The slimy little monster was thrown back so hard it hit the far wall of the cavern and fell to the ground in a charred heap. Several other creatures reached Tara and met similar fates.

“That must be some really powerful mojo you guys set up.” Buffy said as she began to mop up the last of the spawn by her.

“No doubt.” Faith said as she reached down to scoop up the black cowboy hat Tector had left behind. “Check it out B.” The brunette said after checking the inside of the hat for tiny demons. “Air it out a little and you got your self a mighty fine hat.”

“What would I want with a cowboy hat?” Buffy asked.

“Aww shucks lil’ lady.” Faith replied. “Ya’ll don’t want to go line dancin’ wit me now?” Buffy just rolled her eyes at Faith’s accent laden pout and snatched the hat from her hands.

“Fine Faith.” The blonde said before putting a pout of her own on. “I’ll wear mine if you wear yours.” Faith met Buffy’s pout with a genuine smile.

Across the room Willow used magic to slowly move the weapon she had special ordered for this occasion over the now gaping crack in the floor. Tara stood at her side clasping the hand that wasn’t stretched out towards the canister. Once it was over the hole the redhead let out a sigh of relief.

With a tiny amount of telekinetic effort she slid the pin out of the thermite grenade and stepped back towards the tunnel with Tara. The Slayers soon followed.

Smoke billowed out as the small incendiary ignited. A bright glow emitted from the now burning molten core of the device. Without Willow holding it aloft with her mind the grenade fell through the air and landed right beside the eye of the Bezoar. The brightly burning compound bored through the creature’s flesh with a searing crackle. Loud shrieks of pain echoed thought the cavern. Smoke and an eerie orange light poured from the smoldering crevice. Within moments the screams stopped. A minute later the smoke dissipated and all that was left was the stench of burning demon.

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

“And what were we all doing at school at this hour.” Mr. Whitmore asked Giles again in a state of confusion as the Scoobies lead him out of the building.

“Last minute security check.” The librarian lied. “And I’m glad we did or else you might not have made it out after that gas leak.”

“Oh.” The short man said.

“Come along, I’ll see that you get home.” Giles told the man as he loaded him into his car.

“Should we be more worried about him?” Xander asked.

“With Mama Bezoar dead the babies are gone for good and their control is done for.” Willow replied.

“So, job well done?” He asked.

“And then some.” Buffy said as she and he friends began to walk towards their homes. It was an odd fight but with it done she finally had some time to fulfill her promise to Faith.

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

As the Scoobies made their way home only two of them had any idea that at that very moment a very important meeting was taking place in the city of Los Angeles.

Ethan Rayne sauntered up to the front door of the dock side warehouse he had been given directions to. There was a certain upbeat glee in his step. He really couldn’t help his good cheer. The show was about to begin.

With a steady hand Ethan knocked on the door three times. A moment later the speakeasy style peephole slid open and an angry set of eyes glared at him.

“And just who the hell do you think you are?” The man asked in a noticeably gruff British accent.

“Ethan Rayne my dear chap, and I believe you’re the ones who called me.” The sorcerer replied with a measured smile. “Now are we going to conduct this bit of business through that murder hole, or am I going to be let in?”

“Weatherby let the man in for piss sake.” Another Englishman said from behind the door.

“Alright.” Weatherby replied as the peephole cover slid closed and the door slowly swung open.

“Alright then.” Ethan replied as he strode inside. “So you gents would be the Council’s special operations team. I must say I’m surprised you contacted me.”

“Well all the Council mages are busy in other fields and this job is quickly snowballing out of proportion from what we were initially told.” The second man said. He had dark brown hair and a slightly pudgy face.

“Damn it Smith!” The first man said angrily. “We don’t even know if this warlock can be trusted.” He also had dark hair as well as a pronounced five o’ clock shadow and more angular features.

“Sorcerer my dear man.” Ethan replied with a mildly annoyed tone. “I’ll have you know I’ve never broken an oath I made willingly.”

“There, see Weatherby?” Smith asked. “He’s the slightly more trustworthy kind of rogue magic user. Come on then Mr. Rayne, Collins will be wanting to speak with you.”

Ethan smiled politely as the men led him deeper into the warehouse. They turned a corner and made their way through some doors to an office space with a kitchen off to one side and doors along one wall that presumably held sleeping quarters.

“Is this the Mystic?” A dour looking man with slightly graying curly hair asked.

“That would be one way of putting it.” Ethan replied as he walked up to the table the man was sitting behind and took a seat facing him. “You must be Collins.”

“That I would be Mr. Rayne.” Collins replied. “Normally my team doesn’t call in freelance contractors for jobs that might require magic but we’ve hit a bit of a snag much earlier than the higher ups ever anticipated.”

“A snag you say?” Ethan enquired with a carefully crafted frown.

“Yes.” Collins said as Smith and Weatherby took up seats at either of his sides. “The main crux of this mission was to gather intel and figure out just how much the witches have interfered in council business. But we ran into a wall.”

“Damn witches put some kind of curse on us.” Weatherby growled.

“Might be on the entire council with the way this trip was handled.” Smith added.

“Pardon my ignorance gentlemen, but what makes you think you’ve been cursed?” Ethan asked.

“Our travel arrangements for one.” Collins answered. “We were supposed to fly to the Hellmouth directly. But the council department that booked our flights said they just couldn’t bring themselves to book the right flight so they routed us through LA.”

“I’m sensing there’s more to this than one flight plan.” Ethan said.

“We were all set to board the flight to Sunnydale and then we just froze.” Collins went on. “There we were, sitting by the gate, waiting to board. They started calling groups and we just sat there. They called our section and we stayed seated. They announced final boarding and we were still completely frozen.”

“You missed the flight while six feet from the door to the plane?” As far as curses went that was something Ethan had never even imagined. He would have to compliment the girls the next time he checked in.

“We bloody sat there on our asses for three hours after the plane took off.” Weatherby said.

“When we were finally able to stand up we went to rent a van.” Smith said. “The second I tried to merge onto the expressway heading to Sunnydale it felt as if I was making the biggest mistake of my life. I didn’t even notice what I was doing as I pulled the van off to the side of the road and killed the engine.”

“We sat in that van not saying a word for five more bloody hours.” Weatherby said angrily. “Those damn witches have already made fools of us, and we haven’t even started the job.”

“I can see how that would lead you gentlemen to seek assistance outside your normal means.” Ethan remarked. “Alright I’ll help.”

“Excellent, what do you need to break this curse?” Collins said.

“Oh I can’t break this curse.” Ethan replied. All three men from the council’s wetworks team stared at the middle aged sorcerer with the most bewildered expressions.

“If you can’t break the curse then what good are you?” Weatherby asked with his usual amount of contempt.

“Gentlemen it may come as a shock to you to know that I have actually faced these witches.” Ethan said. “I was up to some mischief. Mostly to cause an old friend some light hearted grief. And they figured out my plans long before I even made it to town. They turned things around so that my tricks would give their followers tremendous wisdom and insight they wouldn’t normally have. Needless to say we are not dealing with two run of the mill witches.”

“What do you have in mind then?” Collins asked with a measured, neutral look.

“They made it so you can’t come at them head on.” Ethan said. “And you can count on them having their backs covered. So we’re going to stay here in LA and come at them from the side they won’t expect.”

“And which side is that then?” Weatherby asked.

“Why, the vampire they have stationed here in town of course.” Ethan said with a truly uncompromising smile. “It won’t be easy, and we can’t just dust him or else they’ll go and hand pick another vampire we don’t know anything about. But I believe with your help I can throw a wrench in their plans.”

As the three men gathered around the far side of the table looked at him Ethan couldn’t help but notice the looks of sheer glee take up residence on their faces. By the end of the evening he would have them convinced of his plan. Things were falling into place and Ethan couldn’t wait to watch as fresh chaos took all of the players the witches assembled on a ride they would never forget.

“We’ll start by stealing a certain scroll.” Ethan said with a wicked grin.

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

“How does this look?” Joyce asked her daughters after spinning around in a long black dress sparsely decorated with flowers and fans.

“I might like it more than the others. Can you spin around again?” Buffy commented, causing Joyce to comply.

“Ooh, I’m not sure, once more.” Dawn said, eliciting another spin from Joyce.

“Now could you go the other way?” Buffy asked while pointing her finger.

Joyce was about to give another spin when she stopped and looked at Buffy with an amused smile.

“You’re messing with me.” The single mother said. Dawn let out a giggle as her mother caught on to their fun.

“We just wanted to see how many times we could get you to do it.” Buffy said.

“Was that five or four and a half?” Dawn asked with another smile.

“So is anyone going to talk about my dress?” Joyce pleaded.

“I like it.” Dawn replied.

“You sure?” Joyce said. “It’s not too mom-ish?”

“Oh.” Dawn frowned. “That was why I liked it.”

“You’re both crazy.” Buffy declared. “It’s not mom-ish at all. It’s sexy. It screams “Randy sex kitten, buy me one drink and I’ll.” Oh my god you got all sexy just for Giles!”

“Oh god.” Joyce began to panic. “What time is it?”

“Four twenty three.” Buffy answered while checking her watch. “You have lots of time until seven. Vast acres of time in which you can plant crops. Now tell me about this gallery opening you got all sexy to take Giles to.”

“Oh it’s nothing special.” Joyce remarked. “Just premiering a new artist. Do you really think Rupert will like it?”

“He’ll love it Mom.” Buffy said before a worried frown crossed her face. “Maybe a little too much.”

“Oh don’t worry about any of that Buffy.” Joyce assured with a sly grin. “Rupert seems like the type who likes to be teased.”

“Eww, Mom!” Buffy complained. “Please, no with the details. I have to look the guy in the face every single day.”

“Possibly every morning if things go really well.” Dawn added with a wicked smirk.

“Don’t you start on that too.” Buffy told her sister. Dawn only giggled in reply.

“And what about your plans for the evening Buffy?” Joyce asked.

“I’ll start getting ready in a bit and then Faith and I will hit the Bronze.” The Slayer replied.

“I cleaned that hat you brought home a few nights ago.” Joyce said. “Where did you get another cowboy hat anyway?”

“The brother of the vampire Faith took her hat from showed up at the school while we were clearing out the mind control-ly demons in the basement.” Buffy said.

“I still don’t like the fact that your school is built on top of so many demon nests and an actual portal to hell.” Joyce said with a worried frown.

“Several thousand different hells if all of Mr. Giles’s books are right.” Dawn added.

“Yeah it sucks, but I can’t do anything about that now.” Buffy said with a frown before making an effort to put a smile on her face. “Besides, Willow says it won’t be like this forever. She has a plan to get rid of the hellmouth and then we can all leave this town for good.”

“Leave?” Joyce asked. “Why would we leave? Where would we go?”

“She wasn’t clear on the aftermath of this eleventh hour she’s mentioned a few times, but it sounded like this plan of hers was still a ways off.” The Slayer said. “I’m sure it’ll show up in one of the books and Giles will tell us in time to pack the house up.”

“Oh god, Rupert.” Joyce said as she brought her hands up to her chest and caught her breath as a fresh wave of butterflies rushed through her stomach. “What time is it now?”

“Four twenty four.” Buffy said with a straight face.

“You sure the dress is okay?” Joyce asked one last time.

“Spin again. Real fast this time!” Dawn said, drawing another amused smile.

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

“What do you guys think of this outfit?” Faith asked the three women she lived with.

“I’m tempted to tell you that you can’t ever leave the house looking like that.” Jennifer said with a worried expression. “But since I’ve seen the way you look at, what was it? Bunny? I know you’ll be safe and want to pull out all the stops.”

“Perfect!” Faith said as Tara and Willow shared a laugh at Jennifer’s joke about Sheila Rosenberg. “Oh god, I hope Buffy likes it.”

“She will Faith.” Willow assured. “She’ll come around in time. You just have to prove to her that she can trust you more than she even trusts herself.”

“Thanks Red.” Faith replied. “I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you guys are cool about this whole thing I have for B.”

“We’ve known for a very long time that you would develop feelings for her Faith.” Willow answered while perched in Tara’s lap. “It seems like just about every version of you we come across falls for her hard the second you see her.”

“Plus the worlds where you two end up together are just better places to live.” Tara remarked as she stroked Willow’s hair. “Life just seems to go by more smoothly.”

“So what’s my success rate?” Faith asked with a nervous smile.

“Ninety? Maybe Ninety five percent?” Willow said, looking to Tara for confirmation. “That’s just counting the worlds where we actually ran into both of you or you two met.”

“Sweet!” Faith said with renewed cheer. “What kind of mistakes did I make in the five to ten percent of worlds that sucked ass?”

“Oh Sweetie.” Tara said with a nervous frown. “You don’t want to dwell on those.”

“How bad could it be?” Faith asked.

“The worst case was our very first life.” Willow said. “You were with Buffy on patrol and slaying vamps left and right in a dark alleyway. A human showed up and you accidentally killed him.”

“Well fuck.” Faith whispered.

“It gets worse.” Willow continued. “That mistake, the way the watcher the council sent to replace Giles treated you, the way the major bad guy that year treated you, and the way Buffy would not shut up about her tragic love with a cursed vampire all led to a series of fights, betrayals, another murder and way too much high school crap that ended with you in a coma for months.”

Faith sat down hard on the bed. She couldn’t believe the babble she was hearing. She knew she wasn’t particularly bright before the Halloween mind swap night. She knew she had a temper. But she never would have suspected she could go off the rails so badly.

“When you woke up Buffy tried to talk you back.” Tara said. “She still looked at you as a person that could be saved then.”

“She didn’t truly hate you.” Willow added. “Yet.”

“What did I do?” Faith asked. She couldn’t let anything drive that big of a wedge between her and the blonde that haunted her dreams.

“You used a magic gizmo your old boss left to you after he died and you stole her body.” Willow answered. “The watchers council sent a team of killers after you and took her while she was trapped in your body. They spat on her while you slept with the one human guy she held a relatively long relationship with. That is the point where she truly began to hate you for a long time.”

“Oh Sweetie.” Jennifer said as she saw tears begin to run down Faith’s cheeks. In no time the woman was on the bed next to the brunette with her arms wrapped around the lightly weeping girl.

It took several minutes but Faith collected herself and looked to the two witches she had come to depend on.

“You guys won’t let me do any of that shit, right?” The Slayer asked.

“We already killed the bad guy that manipulated you and sent Giles’s replacement to LA.” Willow answered. “Killing Kakistos before he brutally violated and butchered your first watcher in front of you also helped.”

“You guys really don’t want me to screw this up do you?” Faith said with an almost sarcastic smile as she fought back fresh tears.

“Like we said.” Willow replied. “The worlds where you are at Buffy’s side both on patrol and in the bedroom are happier, better places to live. Plus we’ve kinda grown attached to having you around after all these centuries.”

“If nothing else you make a great baby sitter for our kids.” Tara said.

“You guys are gonna have kids?” Faith asked in shock.

“I’ll be a grandmother?” Jennifer whispered as she brought a hand up to her mouth in shock.

“One day.” Willow replied with a slight smile as she leaned into Tara’s chest. “It’s still early days for this world.”

Faith simply smiled at the sheer hopeful joy aroused by the fact that Willow and Tara still trusted her to protect their children after all the mistakes they listed. As the Slayer went back to preparing for her date she knew this family that had taken her in so deeply was worth every hardship she had to face to get here.

With a smile she put aside fears of mistakes she would never allow herself to repeat and hurried through her last minute preparations. On her way out the door she grabbed the freshly cleaned, white cowboy hat and hurried to see the blonde she loved.

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

“Dawn can you get the door?” Buffy shouted down the hall as she pulled on and zipped up the black, thigh high leather boots faith had bought her. Once done she stood and gave herself a thorough appraisal in the bedroom mirror.

The boots stopped mid thigh and left quite a bit of exposed skin before a tight black miniskirt took over and covered from around the top of her thighs to just below her belly button. She would not be doing any high kicks tonight.

After an expanse of tight abdominal muscles above her belly button she was once again covered with a loose black top that sported an open back and a deeply plunging neck line. Spaghetti straps trailed behind her neck to suspend the ruffles of fabric that covered her breasts. Those ruffles did nothing to cover her modest cleavage.

Her hair and makeup were already done just the way she liked, yet the outfit needed one thing. With a smile Buffy put on the black cowboy hat she got from good old Tector Gorch. Looking herself over once more brought a smile to her face. She and Faith were going to tear up the dance floor at the Bronze.

With a grin she hurried downstairs and was greeted by a sight that stopped her cold. Faith was standing just inside the front door dressed in white.

White leather boots came halfway up her claves. The tightest white leather pants Buffy had ever seen hugged Faith’s toned and muscular curves. Wide slits along the sides ran from the Brunette’s knees up to her waist. The large amount of skin they put on display was only covered by a light crisscrossing of white laces.

The low cut waistline of the pants left faith’s belly button and much of her midriff exposed as well. A tight, form fitting white vest kept faith’s ample breasts in check and a short length leather jacket had slight bulges at the ends of her sleeves. Buffy almost breathed a sigh of relief knowing Faith had brought stakes for both of them this night.

Atop the brunette’s head was the same white cowboy hat she had taken from Lyle. Buffy stood there staring at her fellow Slayer unaware that the reaction in the pit of her stomach was pure, unadulterated lust. She was also completely unaware of the fact that Faith was having the exact same reaction to her outfit.

Off to one side Jennifer, Xander, Dawn, Tara and Willow stood staring at the obviously enamored pair. Xander caught himself staring a little harder than he should but couldn’t stop until Willow elbowed him in the gut.

“My, don’t you two look lovely.” Jennifer said after a moment. The comment seemed to snap the two young women out of the trances they were caught in.

“Yeah you look amazing B. Really beautiful.” Faith said with a nervous smile as her eyes roved over the petite blonde.

“Thanks faith.” Buffy replied. “You look great too. Very sexy.” She finished with a happy grin.

Faith nearly jumped at the way her stomach did a series of cartwheels the second Buffy called her sexy. “We should go B.” Was all Faith could say in response. “Not fair to keep your good looks all to myself.”

Buffy felt her heart fluttering slightly. She wondered why she had never felt so moved by a friend’s compliments before. Maybe it had something to do with the way her Slayer senses seemed to give her a sense of calm whenever Faith was around.

“You two have fun.” Jennifer said. “We’ll watch Dawn until Joyce gets home.”

“Okay.” Buffy whispered, still unable to take her eyes off Faith. The brunette took her hand and they were quickly out the door.

“You gonna need to put some ice on that thing Xander?” Dawn asked with a far too innocent tone.

“Huh, what?” Xander asked before looking down and yelping.

“Oh goddess!” Willow shrieked in surprise at the excessively lewd innuendo behind the question. “Dawn!”

“What?” The young girl asked with a straight face. “I’m sure if I was a teenage boy and saw two girls dressed like that I’d have the same reaction.”

“That’ll be enough of the Halloween costume shenanigans missy.” Tara said.

Jennifer looked from the young girl to her daughter then to the young man who seemed to be surrounded by girls he had no hope of anything beyond simple friendship with. With a smile she put a reassuring hand on his shoulder.

“Why don’t you go in the kitchen and make yourself an ice pack Sweetie.” Jennifer said with a smirk of her own.

“Mom!” Tara cried out.

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

Buffy recognized the bouncer working the door and she and Faith strolled right up to him. The muscular man smiled at the young woman that had saved his life at least three times that he knew about. With a nod he sent them inside.

Being the doorman to a nightclub in a town overrun by vampires was a dangerous job. He and just about all of his coworkers had quickly come to the conclusion that having the tiny blonde free to come and go as she pleased was more important than any cover charge.

Once in the club Buffy smiled at the beat of the music. The DJ on stage was a regular and always good for putting on something fast to gyrate to. Buffy pulled Faith towards the dance floor and the brunette was happy to comply.

No words were spoken for a long time that night as Buffy and Faith danced along to the steady beat. Each time a guy tried to move in on either of them the other was quick to throw up a hard denial. More often than not these small annoyances served to make one of the Slayers hold the other just a little closer. Arms protectively encircled shoulders as legs moved together in a sinuous, interlocking rhythm.

Faith was more than a little excited that she wasn’t the only one pulling the two of them closer together each time they rejected one or more men. She felt a jolt of excitement and a rush of arousal each and every time Buffy’s thigh accidentally ground into her center. Though she couldn’t admit to herself why, Buffy felt the same sensations as she immersed herself in the primal heat pouring off the brunette.

By the end of the night they were practically grinding into each other on the dance floor. Faith had the time of her life. Judging by the smile plastered across Buffy’s face the brunette wasn’t alone.

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

After the dates had ended and most of the Scoobies had gone to sleep for the night Tara found herself in one of her favorite positions. Alone with Willow.

The honey blonde pulled out one of their oversized throw pillows and placed it on the floor beside the bed. She then went over to Willow as the girl was just getting ready to shut down her laptop. Tara draped her arms around Willow’s petite shoulders.

“I’m going to slip into something more comfortable Sweetie.” Tara whispered into Willow’s ear with a breathy, sensual voice. “When I come back I expect you to be naked and kneeling on that pillow next to our bed with your eyes closed.”

Willow’s breath caught in her throat as Tara finished by lightly kissing the side of her head and blowing softly in her ear. The curvy girl then stood up and gave her hips an extra shake with each step as she sauntered over to the door to their bathroom.

Shortly after Tara disappeared into their bathroom Willow picked her jaw up off the floor, hurriedly stripped and jogged over to the pillow. Once on her knees the hacker spread her thighs just wide enough that Tara could have full access for whatever she had planned and eagerly awaited her love’s return.

Inside the bathroom Tara shut the door and pulled out the package she had ordered and hidden under the sink behind a stack of towels. With a gleeful smile she opened the box to reveal the brand new purple “Share” dildo. With a delighted grin Tara quickly, but thoroughly washed the sex toy then began to strip all of her clothes off just as she had ordered Willow to do.

Tara then took a much longer look at the new toy she couldn’t wait to use on Willow. The thought of her slender redhead writhing in pleasure with each thrust into Willow’s molten core was enough to make Tara’s nipples stand at attention. The thought that soon every ripple, quiver and shudder from Willow would travel through the Share and deep into her own center worked Tara into a state that eased what she had to do next.

Tara took two fingers and licked them thoroughly. Once she felt they were wet enough she brought them down to her pussy and slowly began to stroke her lips. Tara’s eyes closed and her mind filled with images of her Willow waiting eagerly by their bed. Her eyes clenched shut. Her breasts heaving as she anxiously awaited Tara’s return. Her thighs beginning to squirm as the anticipation built her arousal ever higher.

Before she even knew it Tara had slipped both fingers deep within her center and began massaging her inner walls. She felt her juices beginning to build and quickly withdrew her hand. Tara then picked up the Share and began to slide the ball end of the double dildo past her slightly damp honey blonde curls and into her pussy.

The curvy girl gasped as she felt the toy within her. The subtle curves of the almost handle shaped silicon ball rubbed against Tara’s walls. Tara’s inner muscles gripped the toy in a way that felt all too pleasurable. She couldn’t wait to share this with her love.

Tara opened her eyes and took in the sight of the gently curved, purple cock protruding out from her crotch. She couldn’t help but let out a slight giggle. With the ground work lain Tara returned to the bedroom were she found Willow naked, eagerly awaiting whatever game was in store for her.

With calm, assured steps Tara walked up to stand right in front of the kneeling redhead. The head of the toy waved back and forth gently in front of Willow’s face. Tara spoke with all the care and love she could put in her voice.

“You can look now Sweetie.” Tara said. Willow cracked open one eye and then both flew wide open in astonishment. She gasped at the sight of the erect toy hovering just beyond the tip of her nose. Tara brought a hand down to tenderly stroke Willow’s cheek as the slender girl stared, transfixed by the phallus emerging from between her love’s legs.

“Happy Chanukah Willow.” Tara said as her hand gently worked its way from Willow’s cheek back through long red locks. Once Tara was cradling the back of Willow’s head she ever so gently applied pressure.

Before Willow could even form a coherent reply to what she was seeing the head and shaft of the Share had already slipped passed her lips. Her eyes fluttered closed briefly before she opened them again. Willow stared up at Tara with a deeply entrancing gaze filled to the brim with lust, love and joy. Then she began using her tongue.

Tara nearly came right there as the sight of Willow gleefully sucking the shaft coupled with the feeling of the curved ball within her hitting the oh so sensitive bundle of nerves along her front wall. The sheer erotic presence Willow exuded lit a fire in Tara’s stomach and set her heart a flutter. With every flick and curl of the redhead’s tongue, with every bob of her head, with every grazing of the back of her throat Willow sent wave after wave of pleasure deep into Tara’s core.

Tara felt both of Willow’s hands grasping her ass cheeks desperately. With a raspy voice she moaned out another order for her petite love.

“Willow, finger yourself.” Tara commanded.

Willow was so enamored by the fact she was giving her girlfriend a blowjob that she almost didn’t hear the command. Fortunately some part of Willow that always seemed to respond to Tara’s needs had heard loud and clear. One of Willow’s hands found its way to the patch of already soaked red curls between her legs and began to apply desperately needed friction.

With each little shake of Willow’s body the shaft of the toy in her mouth sent vibrations deeper and deeper into Tara. The honey blonde knew the end was coming far too soon and elected to change things up before she collapsed on the floor.

With slightly shaky movements Tara pulled the shaft from Willow’s mouth and knelt down to kiss her. The redhead moaned into the clashing of lips. Tongues dueled in a sensual dance that lasted far longer than it took Tara to settle herself enough for what she had planned next. As they parted Willow almost began to plead with Tara to let her continue sucking the shaft of their new toy.

“On the bed Sweetie.” Tara said as she climbed up and laid herself out on their mattress face and cock up. “I want you to ride me.”

A wide smile broke out across Willow’s face as she understood. Without hesitation Willow straddled Tara’s thighs. Before taking the next plunge the slender girl gently grasped the shaft of the toy. Once she saw Tara look down at her with a curious frown Willow pressed the phallus against her stomach. The tip of the head reached past her belly button. Willow smiled at the way the not so subtle positioning of the toy made Tara’s eyes widen. With a smile Willow spoke for the first time since Tara began their lovemaking session.

“I want you inside me Baby.” Willow begged before raising her hips to hover her sopping wet center over the tip of the purple shaft.

Tara locked eyes with Willow once as they clasped their hands together. She replied with the one truth she knew above all others. The one fact she could always depend on.

“I love you Willow.” Tara swore just before she bucked her hips upward and rammed the silicon dick deep inside of Willow.

The redhead gasped and threw her head back in pure ecstasy as Tara filled her. With a shudder Willow slowly began rocking her hips up and down until she began to pick up speed. The feeling of the shaft sliding in and out as she bounced up and down atop Tara was nearly enough to send her over the edge. The fact that she and Tara had never let go of each other’s hands only heightened their connection.

Moments filled with pleasure dragged on as Tara continued to thrust into Willow and Willow in turn rocked her hips back and forth as the dildo stirred within her. The pressure and rapture that had been building within Willow since Tara ordered her to strip finally reached its limit. With a shudder that came in waves Willow’s eyes clenched shut and every inch of her body shook as the orgasm cascaded through her slender frame.

With every wiggle, shake and tremor in Willow Tara was inundated with pleasure. As Willow came hard on the purple dildo her bucking hips sent Tara over the edge. Tara bucked wildly in return as Willow rode her past the breaking point. The almost continuous shaking of the toy turned each aftershock into its own little orgasm. It wasn’t long before Willow lost count of how many times the pleasure tore through her body and stripped away her ability to think and speak. She collapsed atop Tara with the Share still inside each of them.

“Sweetie.” Tara begged as the little tremors from Willow continued to torment her. Willow caught on after a few moments and went to take out the toy. It easily slid out of both their bodies due in no small part to the copious amount of juices their lovemaking always produced. With a wicked grin Willow brought the ball end that had been inside Tara up to her mouth and licked away every last trace of Tara’s essence.

“I love you Tara.” Willow promised as she put the toy down and nestled into Tara’s chest and neck. With a relieved sigh Tara brought their blankets up to cover their naked bodies.

“I know Sweetie.” Tara whispered as she felt Willow nod off with a purely contented grin on her face. “Always.”

_________________
Time and Time Again


Last edited by Citanul on Sun Apr 05, 2015 2:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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