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

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 11:53 am 
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Responses and story delayed on account of snuggles :)

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


My Story: Coming Home


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 2:30 am 
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Hi Zampsa! Hi Citanul!

Yeah, figured we had high drama coming out with Buffy and Faith, time for a fairly low key one with Dawn.
Rest assured, there's an actual reason for all the gayness, it's not 'Gayworld' :P

And the books. And the tree. The Scoobs are gonna take a while to puzzle through it all, but they'll get it eventually.

Yeah, i like Robin Sachs, and thus i like Ethan as a shady 'not-quite-evil' sort of character.
So i also dug into his past a bit, and Giles'.
More of his old gang will be along in a bit :)

Wasn't really going for 'Eeewww!' but i hope you weren't too offended.
Certainly some issues with informed consent.

And yes, there is someone special for the Buffybot/Anne/Buffy 2.0.
But they'll be a while coming... so to speak. :P

Yeah, Linux is a pain, but it offers a lot of freedom. I can see Willow being a fan.

Anyway, here's a fairly short chapter.
I've eaten up a lot of my buffer of ready-to-post stuff, and this was the forst post i had where i had to write some bits before i could post it.
Things may slow down a bit after this.

And... my GF Sara is a bit of an attention sponge :P

Still: snuggles. Worth it :)




Getting the Band Back together




“Giles man, do you ever drink anything besides tea?” Xander asked, sipping the cup prepared for him.


Giles smirked just a little. “Routinely. However, my drink of choice is one of several varieties of tea.”


“Don’t you ever get sick of it?”


He looked puzzled. “I like a change every once in a while, but no. Don’t you ever get sick of those dreadful mocha things?”


Xander looked as though Giles had just asked him about an unnatural act, which was all the more impressive, given that Anya liked those sorts of things.
“But Giles, it’s chocolate AND coffee. That’s like… a puppy, which is also a kitten!”


Giles chuckled.


“I really need more guy friends, don’t I?”


“It probably wouldn’t hurt.”


“Pirates AND ninjas?”


“Better, but I have no idea to what you are referring.”


“We are the shadow that comes in the night, and says ‘Arrr’?”


Giles just gave him a mystified look.


+++



Tara pulled Winona into her parking spot, enjoying the low rumble of her engine.
She smiled to herself. This was possibly the strangest and best present anyone had ever given her.
Luckily she had driven the truck on the farm, otherwise she would have had trouble with the big car.

As she hopped out of the car, she took a moment to enjoy the buttery soft cashmere sweater that Willow had given her. It was even more snuggly than Willow’s favourite fluffy pink sweater, and scented with her favourite vanilla and honeysuckle.

As she gathered her bags from the back seat, she raised an eyebrow in question at the rather psychedelically painted van parked in the next spot. It was painted light blue and green, and had orange patches on it. She chuckled wryly. It was possibly the most eye-hurting colour scheme she had ever seen.


On the other side of the van, someone was unloading baggage.
Curious as to who would have a van so astonishingly painted, she quietly walked around the van to say hello.


A compact man in ripped jeans was rummaging around inside the van, pulling out items of luggage and setting them on the concrete.

Pulling out the last of the bags he stood, revealing his spiky red hair.

He took in in Tara’s white hair, leather jacket and jeans with a raised eyebrow.
“Hey.”


Tara was floored. “Oz! How… how’ve you been?”


He shrugged. “Werewolf. You?”


She copied his shrug. “Dead. I, um, got better.”


Oz grinned. “Cool… Sorry I tried to eat you that time.”


Tara smiled sheepishly. “Sorry we didn’t tell you about the um, girlfriend thing in a better way.”


Oz shrugged again. “It happens. Friends?” he asked.


Tara smiled and nodded. Oz held out his hand and the two bumped fists.
She giggled, hand over her mouth.

Oz smirked slightly.


+++


“… so ever since, I’ve been travelling around keeping an ear to the ground, and picking up new Slayers for the school.”
The pair had wandered into the back courtyard of Slayer central, making their way over to Willow.


“Really?”


He nodded. “It’s great. We’re basically on tour, and we make money playing gigs. But if the place is a bust, we still get paid anyway, by Giles.”
He grinned. “No stress. Keeps the wolf at bay.”


Tara quirked a slightly twisted grin. “You found a cure then? A real cure?”


Oz nodded solemnly. “Totally.”


“Really? what was it” she said, genuinely curious as to how he had finally brought the wolf to bay.


NOT being a messed up teenager.”


Tara laughed. “Was it really that simple?”


Oz smiled a little. “Really helped. I had the right idea, just needed a better head-space.”

He turned solemn for a moment. “Look, I’m not happy about how things happened back then, I hope you know that.”


Tara nodded, equally solemnly.


He smiled a little. “But I am glad Willow has you. You made her really happy.”


Tara was surprized. Oz’s level of restraint was well known (with the one exception). But she thought he’d really matured in recent years. If the situation were reversed, she hoped she’d be able to be mature enough to wish someone well, for Willow’s sake.

“Th-thank you Oz. that means a lot to me, and I know it will to Willow as well.”


He smiled a little. “Her last email hinted at some changes. Who knew?”


“You guys email?” she said, surprized.


Oz shrugged again. “Sure. Not so easy when you’re on the road, but there’s internet cafés and stuff. We keep in touch.”
He grinned. “Good coffee in Chicago.”


+++


“Oz! Tara! Oz!” Xander said, looking worried. “We came looking for you!”


Oz raised an eyebrow.


“Uh, we got distracted. In my defence, robots were involved,” Xander said awkwardly.


Oz glanced at Tara. She shrugged.


“Robots?” Oz asked.


Xander ran his hand through his hair. “Uh, yeah. We were worried that you guys might… fight.”


Oz raised an eyebrow and looked at Tara. “We good?”


Solemnly she raised her fist and bumped it against Oz’s own. “We’re good.”

The seriousness of the moment was ruined by her giggling immediately thereafter.


Xander rolled his eye, though he was smiling. “In all fairness, after what happened last time you guys ran into each other, it was a fair comment.”


Tara smiled a little. “Well if it helps, I brought coffees, mochas and baked goods for everyone.”


Xander lit up. “Donuts?”


Tara nodded her head with a smile. “A variety of pastries, but yes, donuts are in there.”


He looked hopefully at the box.


“No. You can wait till we get back to the rest of the gang.”


Xander pouted slightly. “Oh fine. I’ll run along ahead then and let them know you’re coming.”


“I’ll drop off this stuff and join you,” Oz said.


“I’ll come,” Tara added.


+++



Brie shows up


Giles stood on the edge of the field with his green-robed guest. Behind him were row upon row of sophomore Slayers training hard, looking not unlike a scene from a Bond movie.


“I assure you Emily, we take our responsibilities very seriously. You have nothing to fear about our commitment.”


Before the stern woman could speak, the hubbub of Slayer training was cut by a high pitched shriek.


The pair looked around in consternation and saw Heather being chased across the field, hotly pursued by Dawn. What made the sight particularly surreal was that Heather was fleeing in apparent terror from the pink plushy octopus that Dawn was menacing her with.

They watched the squealing and giggling duo as they raced across the field until Dawn was intercepted by Jules.
She promptly stole the octopus and began chasing Dawn back across the field with it.


By this stage, most of the sophomores had stopped to watch and giggle, rather ruining the militaristic look of the display.


Giles looked slightly sheepish. “Ah, yes, well. Some of our younger and more boisterous members, just ah, blowing off a little steam.”

She gave him a funny look.
“You remember how is when you’re young,” he said helplessly.


As if to punctuate his statement, a second set of squeals was heard and two other figures chased each other across the field, a dark haired figure chasing a smaller, blonde one past the amused ranks of sophomores.


Giles pinched his nose with a sigh.


Faith tackled a squealing Buffy into the grass and proceeded to tickle her mercilessly. Buffy shrieked and squealed, but could not, or would not, get away.
Eventually, after a protracted struggle which ended with Buffy red faced, she admitted defeat, and was rewarded with a kiss.

Faith stood up and held out her hand to Buffy. When Buffy took it, Faith hauled her upright, and over her shoulder into a fireman’s carry.
Buffy squawked indignantly, but subsided when Faith swatted her on the butt.


She wandered over casually to Giles and his guest and nodded to them. “Hey G-man, who’s your friend?”


Buffy waved from behind Faith. “Hello.”


Giles seemed rather bemused. “Buffy, Faith, please meet, ah, Mistress Brie of the Guardians of the Flame. Mistress Brie, this is Buffy Summers and Faith Lehane.”


Mistress Brie smiled. “I’m pleased to meet you. I owe you both a great debt, you especially Buffy.”


“Um, hey, no problem really. Faith can you put me down? This is kinda undignified.”
Faith grinned and swatted her rear again, though she did put Buffy down.


“Girls please, don’t let me interrupt. We’ll talk later,” Mistress Brie said.


“Sweet! C’mon B, got somethin’ for ya!” Faith said and took off, towing Buffy behind her in her eagerness.


“Bye,” Buffy said, as she was dragged away.


Giles and Brie stood in silence for a moment, watching the rapidly retreating girls.
Behind them, the sounds of training slowly resumed.


Giles stammered. “I... I can assure you that this sort of thing is not an everyday occurrence and that-“
He was cut off by the sound of laughter.


Mistress Brie was laughing so hard she was leaning forward with her hands on her knees.
“Oh Rupert, do unwind a bit.”


+++


Giles’ words echoed across the library, now packed with ancient scrolls and tomes.
“No, Brie is the ill-fated result of my earlier attempts to create the perfect woman. Naturally I started with myself as the raw material, which would make Brie my clone I suppose.”


Jaws dropped all around.


Giles sighed and showed the influence of Californian culture, by rolling his eyes.
He spoke to his robed guest. “They save the world like bloody clockwork, but can I take them out in civilized company?”


Brie chuckled gently. “He’s having you on you know. I’m his sister.”


Xander came round first. “Whuh? How come we’ve never heard of you?”


“You’ve never heard about my parents, or the fact that I used to play football in my youth either,” Giles said, looking just a little testy.
“Somehow I doubt they would generate quite the same response.”


Brie raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know. Did you tell them that you tried out for England?”


“Ah, no,” he said, looking a little embarrassed.


“He can run like the bloody wind,” she said a little wistfully. “Come on Rupert, you must admit, you looked absolutely smashing in the uniform.”


For his part, Giles looked caught between embarrassment and pride. “Well, one doesn’t like to brag.”


Buffy just stared. “Who are you? Really Giles, it’s like we never knew you.”


“As you so cheerfully put it earlier Buffy, I am rather older than you. They didn’t just unpack me from a box and install me in the library, the day before you met me. I did have a life before that you know. Quite a bit of life if we must be completely honest.”


Brie started counting off from her fingers. “Tried out for England, joined a rock band, served in the army, got involved in black magic, dated Ethan. Really Rupert, your rebellious phase lasted for decades.”


Various incredulous words were blurted out. “Rock band?! Army? YOU DATED ETHAN RAYNE?!”

Buffy’s incredulous shriek drowned out everyone.
The silence rang.


Xander’s expression was blank, he looked like he had blown a fuse in his head. "Words all gone. Xander no have words."


“And this is why I keep my past quiet,” Giles said with a huff.


“Oops. Sorry brother dearest. I didn’t realize it would be a problem, given the company.” She waved her hand to encompass the same-sex couples around the room.


“You. Dated. Ethan. Rayne?!” Buffy said slowly. She could not have been more shocked if it started raining kittens.


“I did tell you I was involved with him, some time ago. I even mentioned that I lived with him.”


“But-but,” Buffy sputtered. “I assumed that you were just being, you know, extra British, with a side order of British.”


Giles was a bit subdued. “No. Ethan and I were friends for a long time, and lovers for part of that time.”


“Wait, you’re gay?” Xander said, just now catching up.


Giles looked annoyed. “And this is why I don’t talk about this sort of thing. Labels can harm. People change, Xander. I experimented, much as most of you have done.”

He looked around rather significantly. “And, like most of you, I came to the conclusion that I preferred the company of the fairer sex.”


“There does seem to be a lot of that sort of thing around,” Brie commented with a smile.


“Yes, well…”


“What he’s trying not to say, is that I’m happily married, to a wonderful woman by the name of Fiona.”


“Wicked! Mad props to you, she-Giles!” Faith said holding up her fist to bump.


Brie looked at her as though she were some unusual form of sea-life. “I’m sorry?”


Faith rolled her eyes. “You brits, no street cred, any of you.”


“I’m still trying to get past ‘Giles had an affair with Ethan’,” Xander said.
“I think my brain has a flat tire.”
He scratched his head.
“Yup, definitely pulling to the left.”


“Uh-huh,” Buffy said.


“Though the soccer thing was pretty cool, and rock band? Made of awesome!” Dawn pronounced, bouncing cheerfully.


“And I thought I was the only one around here with a taste for penis,” Anya said. “You discover an urgent need for man meat, you go look elsewhere, ok?” she said, clutching Xander jealously.


Giles glared at her. “If we could all take a moment to pretend those last few seconds never happened, I would be most grateful.”


The group seemed to be in agreement, as they fell silent for a good few seconds.


“You realize, we’re going to want details, right watcher boy?” Faith said, her trademark smirk firmly in place.


“No. What I realize is that this is my business. And that you are not going to bother me about a part of my life that holds a lot of painful and unpleasant memories for me.”


Willow spoke for all of them. “Sorry Giles, I don’t think we meant to upset you. You mean so much to all of us, we’re just naturally interested in your dark and mysterious past.”


Giles’ annoyed gaze softened. “That’s quite alright Willow.”
He looked a little sad. “There are a good few things in my life that I’m not proud of. Most of them happened in proximity to Ethan, in one way or another.”
He sighed again. “Just so we’re clear, I’m not ashamed of taking a male lover. I do however feel I could have exercised better taste in that regard.”


The room fell silent for a bit, before Dawn said. “You were in the army too? How big were you?”


Grateful for the inelegant segue into safer topics. “Major. I reached the rank of major before I retired.”


“That’s big right? You were in charge of lots of stuff?”


“I suppose. It was an infantry regiment, so I had about a hundred men under me.”


Faith snorted at the faux pas, Willow giggled hysterically, and Xander looked horrified.


“My brain went to a scary place just then. Very scary,” he said.


“Whoa G-man, I’m officially impressed,” Faith said.


“Indeed, it shows very impressive stamina. You are to be congratulated,” Anya said, clearly impressed.


Before anyone could interrupt, she added brightly. “No wonder Joyce described you as a stevedore in bed.”


Stunned silence reigned once again.


Giles’ face had a pained expression. “Some things even death cannot erase, it seems. Anya? I would take it as a personal favour if you would shut up. Right now, if you please?”


Anya just smiled broadly.


“Um, Giles?” Dawn said. “Ignoring the hundred men thing for a moment-“


“Please do,” he muttered.


“-how does all this go together?”


Giles sighed, perhaps realizing that he was not going to escape without some form of explanation.

“After a very thorough public school education, something that I totally failed to appreciate at the time, I rather fell out of sorts. I suppose I rebelled at my father’s plan for my life.”
He looked a little embarrassed. “One of the few things I put any effort into, was playing football.”


“Good enough to try out for England, I’ll have you know,” Brie said.


She smiled a restrained half-smile, something that gave Buffy the wiggins. She saw that smile regularly on the face of her watcher. Seeing a feminine version of the same restrained smile was more than a little disconcerting.

“What? I’m not allowed to bask in your reflected glory?” she teased.


“Yes, well. After that, things became rather dark for me. Father got me into the watcher training program, and while I was generally quite good at it, I had, ah, rather built up a good head of resentment about having my life laid out for me. That was when I ran into Ethan. Suffice it to say, I now know better. But in a few short years I managed to drop out, join a band and get embroiled with black magic.”
He looked away. “Not my proudest moments I must say.”


“Rupert, I know none of that was particularly fun for you, but do I believe your experiences tempered you. I think without the admittedly terrible things that happened to you, you would have been much less of a man.”


Giles sighed. “I’m sure there were less terrible ways to build character, but I expect you’re right.”
He checked his watch. “Bomber and Ethan will be along shortly. Can we assume the rest of our group is going to be joining us?”


Willow nodded. “Tara made a coffee and donut run. I’m a little worried though. Oz is somewhere around here and I’m just worried they’re gonna run into each other and… fight.”


Xander stretched out in his chair. “I’m sure they’ll be fine Will. Tara’s a big girl.”


Willow raised an eyebrow.


Xander panicked. “Not BIG big, just you know, all mature and stuff.”
His eyes widened. “Not that she’s old or anything. Nope. I think I’ll stop talking now.”


And while Xander panicked, Tara and Oz strolled in with coffee and pastries.


“You… with the coffees and the not… bitey!” Willow said, surprised and pleased.


Oz smirked a little. “There was talk of a leash. And a rolled up newspaper. We came to an agreement.”


“Told you,” Xander muttered.


“Hello Tara,” Anya said. “I’m glad Oz didn’t kill and eat you.”


Tara laughed as Willow treated Oz to a welcome hug.



+++


The terrible trio (plus Buffybot) were sitting in Giles’ office, sipping calming tea, and looking worried.


“And you say it exploded?” Giles asked, clearly puzzled.


“Yep. Kablouie! All gone,” Jules said. “It looked like it was trying to eat Heather’s face, then it looked like it was trying to get away.”


“I think it bit off more than it could chew,” Dawn said, beaming proudly at her girlfriend.


Heather flushed pinkly and sipped her tea.


“I have pictures on the network drive,” Buffybot said brightly.

“Er…?” Giles said, betraying an ever-so-slight degree of worry.
He glanced at the laptop on his desk. Closed, thank heavens.


Buffybot chirped brightly “Don’t worry Giles, I’ll take care of it for you!”


“Please,” he said in relief, gesturing for the computer.

He turned back to Heather. “How do you feel?”


Heather shrugged. “A little freaked out. But I feel fine.”


“Tara says she can’t find anything wrong with her,” Dawn added, as Buffybot cheerfully tapped away on the laptop


“Which is weird when you consider that just getting to second base with her, made something explode,” Jules added.


“Ah, how did it feel?” Giles asked.


Heather thought for a bit. “Kinda… sucky I guess. Definitely felt like it was trying to suck something.”


Giles coughed.


“Like, suck my face off, or suck the blood out of my head or something,” Heather helpfully added.


“Fascinating,” Giles essayed.


“Not that I’m complaining,” Dawn said. “But why didn’t it work?”


“The creature appeared to be gaining strength,” Buffybot said brightly. “Then it exploded.”
She turned the laptop around for Giles to see. On the screen were a series of colour-enhanced still-shots showing the struggles, and the creature getting distinctly brighter, followed by it exploding.


“My word!” Giles said, looking closer. “I’ve come across any number of demons with tentacles like that. But none insubstantial.”

He nibbled the stem of his glasses thoughtfully.
“It seems a lot like a wraith or phantom, but they usually form when humans die, and thus they rather predictably resemble ghostly humans.”

“Dead demon?” Dawn asked.


“I’m not sure that is even possible,” Giles replied. “But this was the creature we were investigating in regard to the sudden rash of elderly people.”


“Slayers are poisonous, maybe?” Jules put forth.

“Or it bit off more than it could chew,” Dawn said again.

Giles gave her a questioning look.

“No, seriously. Like, it was sucking the mojo out of people, and it bit a Slayer. So maybe it was like hitting a high pressure line or something?”

“Perhaps. In any case, you’ve given me something to think over. I shall add it to the list of things to investigate.”

He made a note in his diary.

“However, given our current state of affairs, it may be some time before I am able to devote significant time to it.”

He smiled at Heather. “For now, we shall simply have to be happy… that you suffered nothing worse than an unpleasant encounter.”


Heather smiled back, as did Dawn.
“Thanks mister Giles.”


“That’s quite all right dear girl. Now I dare say you want to get cleaned up, and get something to eat.”


Nods greeted this suggestion, and the girls left with some speed.


Giles tapped his chin thoughtfully and picked up a book.

“I wonder…”



+++

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


My Story: Coming Home


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:01 am 
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness... I'm really glad that Tara's Oz's meeting went "slighly" better than last time they met... Nice to get more info on Giles' Ripper days...

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:55 pm 
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So in the last few chapters we've seen a gathering of Giles' ex Boyfriend, old war/drinking buddy and his sister. There's a British Invasion joke in here somewhere but I'm not sure where it begins. Maybe by trying to guess if Giles is John, Paul, George or Ringo.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2016 2:46 am 
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Hi Zampsa! Hi Citanul!

Now, last week's chapter was delayed on account of snuggles, which is always a good reason.

Sadly, this week is not delayed, due to breaking up with the GF.
We make better friends than lovers, so it's not all bad.

Anyway, i'm actually ahead on this weeks chapter, having formatted it ready for posting.
But, because my writing is kinda slow these days, i'll post it next weekend.
I don't want to use up all my buffer :P

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


My Story: Coming Home


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2016 1:50 am 
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War Council


“Good Lord!”
Giles looked beyond stunned.


Xander was likewise shellshocked.


Anya just examined her perfect nails. “If you’d asked me, I could have told you.”


Giles shot her a glance. “I’m sorry Anya. Of course I should have asked you if one of the world’s most significant religions was made up.”
“Silly me,” he said dryly.


“And I lived in a tree,” Dawn said with a smile.


“Yes. Thank you for the reminder. But no matter how incendiary this other information is, it is not particularly important to our current issues.”


“Bet you’d never thought you say that,” Faith said.


“Quite.”


“What exactly IS the Key?” Bomber asked.


“No one knows,” Anya said. “I’ve looked around the great library and asked a few of the more knowledgeable folk up there. No one knows anything about the Key. It’s as much a mystery upstairs, as it is here.”


“Which still doesn’t tell us anything about why they want to kill Faith,” Buffy said angrily.


“It’s obvious B,” Faith said resignedly.


“How is it obvious?”


“What’s the most significant thing to happen to me recently?”


“Getting engaged?”


Faith smiled. “Yeah that’s pretty cool. But no, I was thinking of me being mysteriously preggo.”


“Good lord!”


“You keep saying that G-man.”


“Yes well, you’ve barely been gone two days. And then you get back with all these revelations. It’s a bit of a shock, you must admit.”


Faith shrugged. “Dawn probably made herself into a real girl, and used to live in a tree. That’s my fav so far.”


Giles shook his head in exasperation. “Yes, well that is both important and interesting. But I am more concerned with you two appearing to be mysteriously invulnerable.”


Buffy frowned. “I wouldn’t say invulnerable.”


“More like it didn’t take. We got shot full of holes, an’ it hurt plenty.”


“But like, seconds later, there were no signs of the holes. Just blood and ripped clothes.”


“And I coughed up a bullet. Which is an experience, let me tell ya.”


“And there was the lightning thing-”


“-That tickled. Real buzzy.”


“Yeah.”


“I see. So we have you two, the Key, the similarly mysterious prophesy which has been erased from every text in the world, and Faith’s surprise pregnancy. Do we have everything?”


“Yeah. Wanna get Snow White to give me a going over and figure out what’s going on.”


Tara nodded.


“Plus, we still don’t know how all these books got home,” Buffy said.
She glared at Dawn, standing hand in hand with Heather. “Though I blame Dawn for that.”


“Hey, not my fault!” Dawn protested.


“You wished for all those books, and here they are.”


“Well I wish a giant marshmallow would fall out of the sky, and squish you, and make you all sticky,” she responded.

She looked around at the total absence of giant sweets. “See? Not me. If it was me, you’d be squished and sticky by now.


Buffy glared. “Very coincidental if you ask me.”


“Luckily I didn’t. Next?” Dawn said.


“Right,” said Bomber, trying to bring a degree of order to the proceedings. “So our next step is to figure out how to break into heaven to steal this damned book.”


“Yes, that’s it,” Ethan said sarcastically. “Should be a doddle.”


“Which is where I come in,” Brie said. She turned to Willow. “I understand you can teleport groups of people?”


“Um, yup. No idea how to get them into heaven though.”


“The place you think of as heaven, is not a whole separate plane of existence. It’s a sort of demi-plane connected to this one. There’s a similar lower plane accessible by many lower beings,” Brie explained.


“Okie dokie,” Willow said. “How do we get in?”


Brie grinned. “As a servant of the Powers That Be, in an auxiliary capacity, I have the keys.”


“Uh, not meaning to be rude or anything,” Faith said. “But if you’re a servant of the Powers That Be, why are you helping us?”


The look on Brie’s face was cold. “Because blood is thicker than water. Because if the Powers That Be are treating their champions so poorly, they need to be taken to task. But mainly because my Goddess asked me to help.”


She looked at Dawn. “Brighid thinks very highly of the Slayers, and you in particular. My Goddess is angry, and she wishes for those in charge to feel that anger.”


“Why?” Dawn asked. “I mean, yay for protective goddesses, don’t get me wrong. But why all the fuss?”


“You mean besides the fact that you’re pretty much her poster child? And the Slayers?” Willow said.


Brie interrupted.
“Sometimes she sends a sign or a vision, which the seers interpret. This time she spoke directly to me from the flame, as I was meditating.”

Her expression was a little awed. “I have the words of the Goddess in my ears.”
She looked around at the impressed looking Scoobies. “In our history, this has never happened. And our history covers several thousand years.”


Giles raised an eyebrow.


Brie replied “She told me that my kin, the Watcher, would ask for help. She said that aiding him would be the most important thing any of the sisters had ever done.”


“Wow,” Xander said.


“You have no idea,” Brie said wryly. “I’m not the High Priestess, I’m just a coven-leader and seer. I really, really wasn’t expecting anything like this.”


Giles put his hand on his sister’s arm. “Thank you Emmy. Thank you for all your help.”


Emily/Brie smiled back. “My help has yet to arrive.”


Giles blinked in surprize. “I beg your pardon?”


Her smile faded. “Rupert, do you really think I could have kept this quiet? My Goddess spoke to me directly. I don’t think you can understand what a big thing this is. Brighid sent me here.”

She gave her brother a look that bored into his eyes. “I am operating on the direct orders of my Goddess, Rupert. She SPOKE to me!”


“How much help is coming?” he asked carefully.


“All of them.” Brie said.


Silence reigned.


“Er, all of who?” Buffy asked.


“The Daughters of the Flame,” Brie said simply. “I now speak for all our order.”


Giles jerked in shock. “Good lord!”


“Uh, Not a good sign,” Xander said uncertainly. “What’s up Giles?”


Giles polished his glasses as he explained.
“Xander, the Daughters of the Flame venerate Brighid, mistress of the forge and of battle. Sometimes called the Fiery Arrow.”

He rubbed his nose tiredly before replacing his squeaky clean glasses. “The Daughters have never been one of the major religions, but they have been around for a long time. A very long time.”


“How many people are we talking about here?” Bomber asked.


“There are around four hundred sanctuaries scattered around the world,” Brie said. “Each contains between twenty and a thousand Daughters, depending on the size of the place. There are around a hundred sanctuaries here in the US.”
She smiled. “Many Irish folk here in the states.”

Her smile faded. “The Mother House put out the call. All our Chapter Houses are on alert and are preparing for war. The American Chapter Houses have already started moving some of their people into position. You can expect the first of them to arrive in the next few days.”


“How many?” Bomber repeated.


“There are a little over forty thousand of us. Around a quarter are battle-ready and available, the rest are either not fighters, not fully trained, or needed elsewhere.”


Gasps echoed around the room.


Buffy frowned. “Where were you guys last year? We could have really used the help,” she grumbled.


Brie spared her a sympathetic glance. “Buffy, the Slayer is an important and powerful force for good in the world. But until recently there has only ever been one at a time. There’s a whole world full of nasty things, and the Slayer can only deal with so much. Others have to deal with the rest.”


“Who else is out there?” Faith asked.


“Besides the Daughters of the Flame, there’s the Knights of Byzantium, the Council of Watchers operations teams, the Witches Council, a few Papal ops teams and a large number of independent demon hunters.”


“Wow,” Xander said.


“And that’s just the western world. There’s the Jade Wheel in China and the Enlightened Brotherhood in India.”


Now Buffy looked more annoyed. “Well that’s just wonderful. I still want to know where everyone was when the apocalypses were coming thick and fast.”


“Most of the time the other groups only find out afterwards. Or they’re too busy with their own affairs,” Brie said.
She gave Buffy a pointed look. “Or they just don’t get on well with each other. The Knights of Byzantium are reckoned among the forces of light, and I understand you had a falling out with them?”


“Uh, yeah. More than once,” Buffy said.


“I’m not surprized. The Witches Council doesn’t like the Knights or the Papists. And the Council of Watchers doesn’t like the Daughters of the flame much.”


“Why?” Tara asked.


“When a potential has gone beyond her teenage years, it is less and less likely she will be called as the next Slayer. Some go on to regular lives, some become watchers.”
She looked up with a smile. “And many of them join our order. It annoyed the watchers no end.”


“They find a place there?” Tara asked softly.


“An order of female warriors, devoted to excellence, skill at arms, poetry and fighting evil?” Brie said with a smile. “I should think so.”


Faith laughed. “Yeah. I think I can see why we never heard about you. I bet a bunch of stuffy tweed-types didn’t want the competition.”


“You have no idea,” Giles said acerbically. “The council watched me very closely indeed. They knew about Emily joining the Daughters of the Flame. I think their main fear was losing an active Slayer to the, ah, completion.”


Brie cleared her throat. “About that, Rupert,”


Giles looked at his sister curiously.


“I mentioned that we have a lot of former potentials in our ranks?”


“Yes?”


“Well a few months ago, they stopped being potentials.”


“You can thank Red for that,” Faith said.


“How many?” Giles asked.


“I’m not sure exactly, but several hundred at least.”


Giles looked very surprised. “So many?”


Brie smirked. “The Watchers really didn’t like us.”


“Well, things have changed. I can say that the new Council thinks very highly of you,” Giles said.


“Really?”


“Given that the new Council of Watchers is effectively Giles, it’s not much of a surprise,” Willow said.


“And the rest of the new Council is made up of the people you see around you,” Giles added.


Brie smirked a little. “Change is in the wind it seems. I had heard that something had happened to the council.”


“They got blowed up,” Xander said making a ‘poof’ gesture with his hands.


“The operations teams know how to fight,” Giles said. “But no one has attacked the Council-proper in a long time. The First’s minions destroyed them with relative ease.”


Brie nodded slowly. “I’m sorry Rupert. I know you lost friends.


Giles sighed. “I did. However, the First’s minions primarily destroyed the leadership of the Council. The rank and file were largely unaffected, barring the loss of a number of field watchers. The primary structure of the Council remained intact.”


Brie smiled a little. “I’m glad. I didn’t get on with the old men that ran the place, but the others are decent enough folk.”


Giles nodded. “It is from them that we are rebuilding. As with any large organization, most of the staff were concerned with maintaining the organization itself, rather than acting as Watchers. While we have lost many experienced people, the basic structure remains.”


“And money, let’s not forget the money,” Anya said brightly.


“Indeed. The Council has been accumulating lands and treasure since the beginning of human history. We are in no danger of running out of funds at least.”


“If only money could solve this little problem for us,” Ethan said. “I imagine it would be nice to bribe the apocalypse into going away.”


“Quite.”


“So what exactly are we doing Rupert?” his sister asked.


Giles shot Willow and Tara a glance. The two witches stood side by side, holding hands as they commonly did. They both nodded.

Giles smiled slightly and turned back to his sister. “There is a prophesy-“ Giles started before being interrupted.


“There always is,” Buffy muttered.


Giles went on. “This Prophesy will explain to us why the Powers That Be are intent on trying to kill us, and give us some idea of how to stop them.”


“As Bomber has pointed out, the Powers themselves will have a copy of the prophesy. We believe it’s in a book known as the White Codex.”


“Which we are going to steal,” Ethan explained. “From heaven.”


“Does anyone else find this worrying?” Xander asked. “I mean wow. We’re gonna break into heaven and steal a book of prophesy? How does that work?”


“Please, let me,” Ethan said to Giles. Giles gave him a ‘go ahead’ gesture.


“The White Codex is on a higher plane,” Ethan said. “That plane is guarded and protected. Moreover it’s in a highly protected part of that plane, the Great Library. Better still, it’s in the restricted section of the library vaults, a place so totally impossible to get into, that there isn’t even a key. Only the Powers themselves can open the vault.”


Xander just looked lost. “Is this supposed to be reassuring me? Because it’s not. Really.”


Ethan grinned. “Think a little, my boy. It’s completely unthinkable that this book be reachable. So they won’t be expecting us to bloody steal it, will they?”


“Uh, no?” He scratched his head. “How are we going to steal it?”


“Emmy- sorry, Mistress Brie,” Ethan said with a hint of mockery. “Can give us the link to the plane, being on the inside as it were. Willow teleports us up there and I,” he grinned. “I distract them, so they don’t immediately figure it out, and boot you off their little plane of existence.”


“And this unbreakable vault thingy?” Xander asked.


“Dawn,” Giles said softly.


“Me?” Dawn squeaked.


Giles nodded. “You waltzed through a powerful set of layered wards put up by myself and Willow. And you did so, with so little effort that you didn’t even realize they were there. And you did it without even realizing.”
He smiled. “If anyone can do it my dear, it will be you.”


Dawn blinked in surprise, her eyes comically huge. “Wow. All this pressure on my teeny-tiny shoulders.”


“I have absolute faith in you,” Buffy said reassuringly.


“You do?!” Dawn said, absolutely shocked.


“Sure. Being somewhere you are absolutely not supposed to be? Totally,” Buffy said with a grin.


“Wow.”


“You picked the lock on my diary and read it. You totally have the super-power of being a sneak.”


“Hey!”


Buffy’s smile had a fair dose of smug in it.


Giles cleared his throat. “Perhaps if we could move onto the planning part of things?”


“Like what we’re gonna do if we get sprung?” Faith said.


“Kill everybody,” Anya said simply.


“What?!” Buffy said loudly.


Anya waved her hand to shush Buffy. “Relax. You can’t actually kill someone who’s already dead. They may look like people, but they’re just a shell of energy. Anyone you ‘kill’ will just vanish and reappear later. They won’t even have a headache.”


“Do you, ah, have the layout of the place?” Giles asked.


Anya shook her head. “It’s a consensus reality. You won’t be able to find anything that you’re not supposed to find. You’ll need someone there who knows how to find what you’re looking for. I’ll be able to guide you.”


“Are you sure Ahn?” Xander said. “I don’t want to get you in trouble with the man upstairs.”


Anya smiled brightly “Xander, that’s so sweet!”
She hugged him. “But I’m pretty much screwed anyway, when they figure out I was lying to them. At worst, they’ll de-power me and toss me in limbo a week or two early. I’ll just have to sit there, bored, until you all come and rescue me.”


She looked around at the assembled group. “I expect recuing!”


Xander hugged her tight. “Always.”


“I guess I’d better go practice breaking into bank vaults or something,” Dawn said uncertainly.


Giles tossed her a pad-lock. Idly, she gave it a tug.
It popped open.

“I wouldn’t worry too much about it if I were you,” he said dryly.


“Huh,” Dawn said. “Ok then.”


“Can I help?” Buffybot asked brightly.


“That,” Oz added.


Ethan grinned in a way that gave Buffy the serious wiggins. “Oh yes. I’m going to need you two to help me.”

Oz raised an eyebrow.

“Each of you has more than one aspect. Man, werewolf; Slayer, robot,” he said pointing to them in turn. “You are going to set off so many alarms. It will be spectacular.”


Buffybot looked at Oz curiously. Oz just shrugged. “Sure.”


“The Powers That Be will be expecting us to do something. We will give them something to watch, so they don’t figure out what we’re actually doing.”


“What are we going to be doing?” Buffybot asked brightly.


“Complete chaos. It should be fun.”



+++



“Hey G-man, got a minute?”

Giles looked up from his collection of ancient scrolls and tomes.
“Of course Faith.”

He straightened with a weary sigh and a stretch.
“I expect I’m overdue for a break, at any rate.”
He gestured to one of the ever-present couches. Couches seemed to proliferate in any place his family members found themselves spending time in.


Faith flopped down on the couch, Giles more sedately taking the other seat.
“How goes the brain strain?” she asked.


Giles massaged the bridge of his nose and sighed again.
“Rather slowly I'm afraid.”


“I woulda thought your big brain’d have it all under control by now,” Faith said.


He chuckled. “This is no simple matter of finding ancient books and reading through them to find forgotten lore.”

He ran his hand through his hair with another sigh. “This is a mixture of deliberate obfuscation, after the fact editing, and people simply failing to write down that which everyone knew, centuries ago.”


“Bummer. Sucks that you’re not getting anywhere.”


Giles looked up with a small smile. “I didn’t say that. I said ‘slowly’. And while there has been a shortage of concrete facts, I have determined a good deal of information about the nature of the problem.”


“Well come on then big guy, don’t leave me hangin’, what have ya found?”


Giles grinned a little, showing something of the boyish charm that hid beneath his formality.
“The missing passages were deleted by magic, which is something we suspected. However, in consultation with some of my surviving colleagues, I have determined that the pertinent entries in scattered tomes and scrolls were erased by one single spell. Moreover, many of the affected tomes were shielded rather heavily against what might be termed dark magic.”


Faith smiled as she saw that Giles was getting more animated as he got into his subject. Tracking down mysteries really seemed to bring him to life.

“In fact, some of those books were shielded from any form of conventional or demonic magic,” he said with an expectant look.

Faith looked blank and patiently waited for an explanation.

“Ah, that is to say, they could only have been affected by the kinds of magic used to protect them, the magic of a higher power.”


The light went on for Faith. “Ooh, gotcha. Like Queen C and her buds?”


“Exactly. Though I doubt Cordelia would be responsible, and I suspect a spell of such scope would be beyond her. The technical aspects, so to speak, of such a spell are frankly staggering.”


“Well alrighty then, colour me impressed Watcher-man. Any clues as to what they were trying to hide?”


“Well, it’s too early for anything concrete, but yes. I have determined a little about the subject that they were trying to hide.”

He took his glasses off to give them a polish, and himself time to think.

He put his glasses back on with an uncomfortable look. “Ah, children, the missing passages appear to refer to children. More specifically, a true child of Lilith. And, er… a flower of some kind. I'm not so sure of that part, it seems a little out of place.”


Faith blinked. “Damn G-man, I really wanna be impressed, but I got no idea who you’re talkin’ about. Sorry Giles, I’ve heard Blondie and Red talkin’ about her, but all I know is the name, and that she’s a chick. Probably.”


“Yes, well it’s hardly surprising that Willow and Tara would be talking about her. She is rather well known in ancient mystical circles. So many things are credited to her, that it is hard to discern fact from fantasy.”

“She is generally regarded as the first witch. And thus most witches revere her to some degree, as the mother of their craft. She is also called by some ‘the mother of demons’ and the matron saint of the abandoned and neglected, though she is probably more famous for her… other tastes.”


Faith smirked as Giles began to get visibly more flustered. “Mother o’ demons huh? Kinda what I wanted to talk to ya about. Finish your story though. C’mon British, just spit it out, it ain’t gonna kill ya.”


“Yes well, Lilith is also justifiably famous for being Adam’s first wife.”


“What, like Adam-an’-Eve, Adam? Not like killer-robot-demon dude?”


“Ah, yes,” Giles said, still looking rather uncomfortable.


“I didn’t know he had another wife. Funky. What’s got you so hot under the collar tweed boy?”


Giles recited from a tome on his desk. “Lilith, made from the same earth as Adam, was wilful. She would not bend the knee to him, nor to any man. She quarrelled with Adam and left, finding him displeasing in her sight. In time, she met the Angel Samael and they joined, and their love produced the first true child to walk the earth.”


“So she was a badass? World’s first bad-chick?”
She raised her fist to bump against Giles’. “Respect.”

Giles for his part looked utterly mystified. Faith shrugged and stuffed her hands back in her pockets.


“You don’t quite understand, ‘she would bend the knee to no man,’” he reiterated.


Faith thought for a moment. “Hold up G. Is Samael a guy’s name, or a girls?”

Giles looked ever more awkward.

Faith laughed. “Lilith was the world’s first Dyke? Wicked!”

She stopped, as recent facts percolated through her brain. “Wait, G-man, are you telling me that the first woman in the world, created by god or whoever, a chick made specifically to be Adam’s wife, took one look at the dude and walked?”


“Ah, more or less.”


Faith whooped with joy, her peals of laughter echoing around the room. “That’s fuckin’ insane! What a balls up! The first woman they made, would rather be with another chick! Man, that Adam dude must have been one repulsive motherfucker!”


“Yes, quite.”


“I guess she had to go lookin’ elsewhere for a little somethin-somethin’, given that there weren’t any spare chicks at that point.”
She grinned. “I bet she tried to bag Eve too.”


“Er, I'm not sure that’s relevant at this point. Perhaps we could move on to something less likely to give me a heart attack.”


“S’ok Giles, I’ll quit torturing ya… whoa!”

Faith looked stunned, as her hindbrain handed her forebrain a message and ran like hell.

“Fuck me! I just had a light bulb moment to end all light bulb moments!”


“I had rather gathered that,” Giles said dryly, taking in her wide-eye look of amazement. “What has been illuminated?”


“Ya said somethin’ about ‘First true child of Lilith’ a few minutes ago right?”


“Yes, I remember,” he said waiting for Faith to follow through on her thoughts.


“And that kid was the child of the world’s first witch girl… and an angel chick.”


“Ah, yes?”


“That sound familiar at all?”


“Oh… my.”


“Holy shit Giles! I think we know what the Powers That Be are after.”


“You may be on to something Faith.”


“Check me out, all with the big brain and stuff. Still don’t know why they're trina kill me, or why B’s mixed up in alla this,” she said.
She up and grinned. “But hell, I'm feelin’ pretty frikkin’ smart right now.”


“I have always thought that you were clever Faith, just not prone to fits of academia.”


“Stop it G, you’ll make me blush.”


There was silence in the library for a time.
“So… any idea what a child of this Lilith chick is gonna be like? An’ how come the halo and harp brigade are having a goddamn meltdown over it?”


“No, and sadly I have no idea,” he said, rubbing his nose tiredly. “There are passages in almost every holy book in the world about the monsters that roamed the earth in ancient times. The Nephilim were said to be around at the time, and they were said to be nearly unstoppable.”


Faith looked blank. “Uh, what?”


“Giants. Nigh unbeatable warriors. Children of angels and humans.”


“Wow, demons and giants huh? Y’know, I think you get to tell Blondie. Uh, that when she has a kid with Red, she’s gonna blow up like a house… literally. Ouch.”


Giles smiled slightly. “Much that is in these texts is apocryphal. I would not be surprised to find that these Nephilim are only slightly larger than normal.”

“That having been said, I would take it well if you didn’t tell the others just yet.”


Faith shook her head. “No way. Sorry G-man, I hear where you're comin’ from, but there’s no way I'm keepin’ this from Red. Not no way.”


“Faith, until we have more to go on-“


“Giles? No way. I never had a best friend before, I ain’t sure of the rules here. But I am not gonna keep this from Red and Glinda, just avoid a bit of stress.”

Giles looked at her levelly.
He eventually nodded. “That was… well said Faith. I think you’re right.”

He let out a huff of air.
“We do rather have a tendency toward secrecy don’t we?”


“Little bit,” Faith said with a shrug.
She eyed him thoughtfully. “Ya know, it’s ‘cos ya care right? Pretty clear G.”


“Thank you Faith.”


“None of us have had a Da worthy of the name. Ya do the name proud G-man.”


“I… thank you, Faith.”


The pair sat in awkward silence for a moment before Giles cleared his throat.


“When you came in, you were wanting to ask me something?”


Faith was silent for a moment as she mentally switched gears.
“Right. Uh, yeah. Whole different thing. I wanted to ask you about the Slayer.”


“Sorry, which one?”


The Slayer, y’know the one girl in all the world, yadda yadda.”

“Perhaps a little more context would be helpful?”


“Right, so I'm sittin’ in on one of B’s classes, listening to her tell the newest batch of kids about ‘the chosen one’ and all that malarkey.”

She grinned at Giles. “I am such a chick, hangin’ around waiting for class to finish, so I can kiss my girl.”

Giles smiled warmly. He took genuine pleasure in Faith’s softer side, which was making an appearance more regularly these days.

“Which reminds me, next time we go dancin’, can I bring B?”


He chuckled. “Of course Faith.”


“Wicked. I wanna sweep B off her feet, before I blow up like a whale and someone tries to harpoon me.”


“I’m confident that you’ll be safe from, ah, harpoon-related mishaps.”


Faith smiled. “So B says she has mad ballroom skills, ‘cos of some Halloween thing, and she’s been itching to try them out.”


Giles looked uncomfortable. “Ah Yes. I well remember. Bloody Ethan,” he muttered.


Faith’s eyebrows raised at that. “Uh, so anyways, B’s bein’ all teachery, an’ I am so hot for teacher, when Chrissie asks about the origin of The Slayer.”


“Chrissie?”


“Tiny, pink hair, looks about 10 years old?”


“Ah yes. There’s no shortage of pink around at the moment, but to my knowledge, she is the only person I have met with pink eyebrows.”


“Reckons it’s her natural hair colour, which is just weird. Man, was I ever that young?”


“You were telling me she asked about the origin of the Slayer?” Giles said, dragging the conversation back on track.


“Yeah. So B told her and the rest of ‘em about how the first Watchers made the first Slayer, and let me tell you, that was rough.”


“Oh?” he said.


“I never knew Giles, I had no idea that those African fucks had clued B in. When she told the class, you coulda heard a fuckin’ pin drop. Some of the girls were cryin’.”

“B effectively told us that we all got our super powers because some poor girl back in the dawn of time was raped or possessed or some shit. By a demon, for some nasty fuckers.”


“Oh my. Buffy told me of her vision, but she never… I had no idea.”


“She mentioned it a little, yeah. Told everyone about this black smoke pouring into this screaming, crying chick, all chained up. A chick I’m thinkin’ is Pissy Chrissie.”

At Giles’ confused look she added. “Uh, not tiny pink Chrissie. The First Slayer, the rowdy one.”


“Sineya, her name was Sineya. I'm still not sure I quite follow, beyond the fact that it all sounds rather awful.”


“What I'm sayin’ watcher boy, is that tiny pink Chrissie got me to thinkin’. We’re missin’ somethin’ here G, ‘cos it don’t make sense worth a damn.”


“How so?”


“Think about it for a sec. These African dudes made the Slayer yeah?”

Giles nodded thoughtfully.

“Took some major mojo, am I right?”


Nodding, Giles spoke up. “To bind a demon into a bloodline for all eternity? I am not sure there are any who could cast such a spell living today.”


“Don’t count Red out so easily British. I'm pretty sure if she had to, if Tara needed her to, that girl would stop the moon in its tracks.”

She shook herself.
“Right, so they did this hella big spell thing, and shoved a demon into this chick, who I’ll just bet didn’t volunteer for it…”
Her voice trailed off.

“Why Giles? Why do all of that, to create the one girl in all the world, and then spend the next forever tryin’ to kill her, an’ all the others like her?”


“That is an excellent question.”


“An’ what sorta demon? I mean for real, what sorta demon has a crazy overprotective streak a mile wide?”


“None that I know of. Protectiveness is not really in a demon’s nature, at least not the demons that come to our world.”


Faith got up to pace.
“Do ya think they changed their mind or somethin’? Were Slayers like Adam? Y’know, demon Adam? Somethin’ that got outta hand and had to be put down?”


Giles brightened. “Ah, there at least I have something. Whatever the plan was for the Slayers, it has been in operation since the very beginning. Mention is made in our recently acquired tomes, of clay tablets. These tablets are the very first records of the watchers and Slayers, and even they mention the need to watch, control and if need be, eliminate the Slayer.”


“So you’re telling me, whatever shitty thing is goin’ down, it’s been goin’ down since the beginning?”


“Apparently so.”


“Man, I'm all brained out. We need more brains on this. Brains and witchy mojo, an’ I know where to find both.”


+++

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2016 1:05 pm 
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Dibs!

Well done, Richard! Very nice chapter.

But just a thought about the "true child of Lilith" born of a witch and an angel, sounds like Tara the second time around, am I right?

What you have in store for the slayers and breaking into heaven sound like fun, I can't wait.

:flower :flower

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2016 10:39 am 
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness!... I'm glad that Faith & Giles made some progress in the nature of why the PTB's are having a hissy fit.... I'm thinking that either Sineya or the demon the "watchers" used to "power" the Slayer are related to the True Daughter of Lilith...

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 9:11 pm 
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I was not expecting there to be a whole other mystic order ready to go to war for Dawn. And something like a good fifteen percent of them are Slayers to boot. That will be fun.

While rereading the scene where they go over just how important Dawn was to Brighid something struck me. If the pre-Dawn Key had more say than the monks in deciding what type of person it would become then that opens up interesting possibilities as to the link with Brighid.

I couldn't help but be reminded of the story arc in Angel where they met and then watched the Beast kill the five different embodiments of the sun. They finally found the last one and were expecting him to be some all powerful demigod only to find out he's just some guy. The Middle child of the Ra-Tet could take the shape of literally anything and it ends up looking like a slovenly looking, middle aged guy.

By contrast the Key chose to be Dawn. Someone Brighid has a "thing" for. That might lead to something interesting down the road.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2016 6:59 pm 
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Hi all!

Special welcome back to Heather :)

Announcement:
Just so's you know, i don't seem to get most kittenboard notifications, despite being subscribed, and my email generally working.
So i'm not ignoring you.
I only found out that i had 3 replies when i went to the shed and turned on my laptop, and it refreshed this page.
:(

So, let me respond to all you nice people :)

Heather: It's ironic, but as an atheist and a skeptic, i spend more time thinking about gods and magic than any sane person should :P
Penalties of decades-worth of roleplaying, i guess.
And so i tried to reconcile what Buffy lore there is, with my vision of how magic should work (if it existed, of course).
And how we could sensibly have gotten to the things we see on the show.

The hardest part was 'why doesn't willow use that insanely useful spell? the only downside is a nose bleed? Or we could all die.'

But yep, the 'true child of Lilith' does almost perfectly describes Tara. And Willow. More to come on that front :)


Hi Zampsa! I'd say 'Welcome back!'
but you never left :P

Yes, You are entirely correct. The Tru Child of Lilith is indeed related to the Slayers. But not the way you think :P
Promise.
I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.
And it's something for you to look forward to.

Hi Citanul!
Ditto.
Ooops. I might have to go back and do some editing if that's the impression i gave you.
Yes, Brighid is oddly fond/protective/whatever of Dawn.
So is everyone else.

But the Guardians of the Flame™ (Thank you Lisa :)) are not going to war for Dawn.
TBH, they don't know why they're going to war, just that it's apparently super-important to Brighid.
And the Scoobies have not said anything about Dawn, as is habit for them.

and yes, it bugged me that a handful of scruffy monks could read a book and create life, and alter the world, in the time it takes Glory to squish them. Which is not long.
In a magical universe, i accept it could be done, but it would take epic power.
i.e: not monks in a hurry.
And so, my explanation.

Anyway, next chapter to follow shortly. See you soon!

:flower :flower :flower

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


My Story: Coming Home


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2016 7:01 pm 
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9. Gay Now
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Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 7:45 pm
Posts: 975
Topics: 15
Location: Beyond the orbit of Mars and accelerating...
Slayers



“Wait, so Slayers were made by violating a girl, with a demon?”
Willow was absolutely stunned, and just this side of horrified.
The Scoobies had gathered in the library, their work area of choice.


Buffy nodded sadly, unable to speak further.
Willow shook her head, almost unable to believe what Buffy had said.
Through their link, Tara could feel the shock, slowly giving way to anger inside Willow.


“I can see why you didn’t want to talk about it much, when you got back from your vision quest thing.”


“Which is where you two come in. I figure between the two of ya helping, we might all be able to figure something out.”


“If only we had a bona-fide seer handy,” Willow said.


She turned towards Tara’s smile. “Oh hey, there you are.”


Tara’s smile grew. “Goof.”


“So we need some out of the box thinking here,” Xander said. “I’ll be over here, trying to find a box. Possibly of donuts.”


All eyes turned to Willow.


“Someone says ‘out of the box,’ and everyone is looking at me. I'm not sure whether to be flattered or annoyed.”


“Actually Willow, I thought you did some of your best work in the box,” Tara said, with a suspiciously innocent expression.


Faith was grinning wide enough that the top of her head was in danger of falling off.


Giles looked at the ceiling and said. “Is it too much to ask that I be struck with a sudden memory loss? Alzheimer’s perhaps?”


The rest of the Scoobies were looking a little lost as to what was going on.


Willow for her part, turned a charming pink colour. “I, uh, ee, oh, um..."

Faith patted Tara on the shoulder. “Oops. I think ya broke Red.”


Xander gave Willow a funny look. “You picked a strange time to work on your vowel sounds Will.”


“If we are done with being terribly clever, perhaps we could cut to the meat of the subject?”


Faith’s grin lost none of its wickedness. “No meat for me G-man, I'm all about peaches these days.”


“Charming.”


“There’s stuff flying around that I'm missing here, isn’t there?” Dawn asked.


“Yup,” said Buffy. “Judging by Will’s expression, it was terribly naughty, and I have no idea.”


“That’s ok, I’ll get Anya to explain it to me later.”


Buffy looked slightly horrified. “Please don’t.”


Giles cleared his throat. “Children? Please focus on the terrible things, and not on the other… terrible things.”


Xander laughed lightly. “I always knew that Buffy was going to rub off on you one day Giles.”


“I do cruel and terrible things to the English language. I am Buffy, the Slayer of all things wordy.”


“The word is vocabulary,” Giles said, looking pained.


“Nope, I slayed it. The new word, is wordy… ness.”


Giles looked more pained.


“C’mon guys, we should start being serious. Giles looks ready to make with the glasses polishing,” Willow said.


“I’ll have you know I do that when I'm feeling nervous, or when I need time to think. When I am annoyed I make a clucking sound, and give you my sternest look.”


“Well, no one wants that. So there was talk of spellage and stuff?” Buffy said.


“Actually,” Tara said. “I’ve had thoughts about that.”


All eyes turned to Tara.


Willow felt her heart swell with pride.
It was such a little thing really, but it showed how much Tara had grown.

Once, not too long ago, Tara would have been stammering at the thought of being the centre of attention. Now she took it in stride.
Sensing her surge of emotion, Tara turned to look at her and smiled with such warmth, that Willow was sure that she would melt away to nothing but a pair of comfortable shoes.


Reluctantly turning back to the group, Tara spoke again. “I think I might be able to show the vision they gave you Buffy, to everyone. If you’re ok with it?”


Buffy nodded. “Yeah, I can deal. It wasn’t super fun, but it was only a vision.”


Faith put her arm around Buffy’s shoulder. “Gotta admit, I'm kinda curious my own self. I only heard about this third hand. Even if it sucks, I wanna know where we come from, y’know?”


“What do you need, Tara?” Buffy asked.


Thinking for a moment, Tara said. “Frankincense, lavender oil and holy water, plus a little incense burner for it. Also we should go somewhere with more couches.”


“Couches?”


Tara nodded. “Comfier.”


“I’ll get the stuff and meet you all in the Scooby lounge,” Dawn said. She scurried off before anyone could object.


Xander quirked a smile. “I guess we’re going to the lounge then.”


+++


A short time later, the little family was comfortably ensconced on the couches of their lounge.

Dawn currently had her arms folded and was glowering at her sister. A reminder, that for all her hard-won maturity, she was still a teenage girl.


“Relax lil’ D. Ya can tell your girls all about it afterwards.”


“I wouldn’t need to, if they were here,” she said, successfully managing to keep the whine from her voice, despite the rather sulky look.


“This stuff is freaky enough to be told about, imagine how freaky it is to actually see it? At least with just us, there are only two people in the room that this is actually about.”


“And I'm tough,” Faith added.


“And not at all a big softie, who’s addicted to snuggles,” Buffy said with a cheeky smile.


“Hey!”


Before Faith could get too wound up, there was a flare of light and Anya appeared in their midst.

“Hello lesbians!”


Willow jumped with a small squeak.
“Don’t do that!” Willow said in a distinctly high pitched voice. “And I prefer the name ‘Willow,’ actually.”


“And didn’t she ask you to stop doing that? I distinctly remember her asking,” Buffy complained.


“Yes. You did. But I like the surprised noises you make, so I’m going to keep doing it.”


“Ya catch me on the wrong day and you’re gonna catch one, right in the face,” Faith said.


Anya grinned confidently. “I’ll live. After a fashion.”

She made herself at home by sitting down in Xander’s lap, wiggling slightly.
“My gossip senses were tingling, so I thought I should make an appearance. I look forward to many salacious details.”


Faith laughed. “You’re insane, but I like you.”


Anya was sporting an ear to ear grin. “And you taught Xander about cunnilingus, so I definitely like you.”


Xander tried very hard to vanish into thin air.
To no avail.


“So what were we going to do?” Anya said, ignoring Faith’s hard stare.

Giles cleared his throat. “Questions have been raised about the creation of the first slayer. Tara was going to cast a spell to enable all of us,” he gestured around the room. “To see the vision that Buffy was given last year.”


“Excellent. You should be glad that I’m here, given that I’m an expert on all things demonic.”


“Excuse me!” Giles protested.


Anya waved her hand at him dismissively. “The stuffy British man has read books about demons. I was there. I hung out with most of the people in those books. And went to their dinner parties.”
She smiled happily as she gazed into empty space. “Good times.”


“Yes, well if perhaps we could get on. And if we could not hear anything appalling about demonic dinner parties, I would be quite grateful.”


“What do we have to do, Tara?” Dawn asked, interrupting the squabbling.


“Just lie back and get comfy. I’ll burn some frankincense, dab you with a little lavender oil and holy water and cast the spell. Anyone marked will see the visions, as I bring them out from Buffy’s mind.”


Buffy looked a little nervous. “It is only this one vision everyone will be getting, right? I mean I don’t want all my weird dreams being broadcast to everyone here. That would be all thirty-two flavours of embarrassing.”


“Relax Buff, we’ve dealt with the cheese thing before,” Willow said with a slight smirk.


Buffy rolled her eyes. “That wasn’t what I was worried about. Dreams about naked fun time should remain the property of their owner.”


“Damn, now I feel bummed,” Faith said, looking a little morose.


Buffy concentrated on the link they shared, and whispered down it, ‘Later honey, I’ll tell you all about them later.’


Faith waggled her eyebrows suggestively, ‘Hot damn, it’s a date, petal.’


‘Petal? Hmm, cute, I could live with petal.’


“Uh, B? Not sure I could survive saying it out loud though.’


‘Scratch that one then.’



She grinned, ‘How about BumbleBee?’


‘BumbleBee?’
Buffy sent, incredulous.


‘Aww, what’s not to like about Bumblebees? They’re fuzzy and cute, they’re all chicks, and if ya piss ‘em off they can sting like a motherfucker.’


‘They also have huge butts!’



Faith was about to reply with some appropriately butt-focussed comment, when she realized it had gone quiet. And most everyone was looking at them like they had gone bonkers.

Dawn was grinning, but everyone else clearly doubted their sanity.


“You two are really weird. You know that right?” Xander said.


Rather than explain, Buffy poked her tongue at him and turned to look at Tara, with an expression that closely matched that of a person politely waiting.


Tara chuckled and continued her explanation. “I’m going to get Buffy to focus on the vision, and then, once she’s got a good grip in it, I’ll, hmm, broadcast it I guess, so we’ll be able to see it in the same way Buffy did.”


“Sweet, let’s do this thing,” Faith said. “I wanna see what it’s all about.”


Buffy shook her head. “It’s definitely not puppies and kittens, Faith.”
Faith sobered.


Tara stood up with a vial of lavender oil in one hand and a vial of holy water in the other. She dipped a finger in the oil and another in the water and gently dabbed them on Willow’s forehead.
“Ooo nice!” Willow said as the smell of lavender filled the air.

Tara leaned in for a soft kiss.


“That part a the ritual there Glinda? We all getting one o’ them?”

Tara ignored her and wet her fingers with the oil and water.
With a wink to Willow, she dabbed Faith’s forehead and swiftly leaned in for a kiss.


Buffy’s eyes went wide.
Faith’s eyes went similarly wide, and she jerked her head back, banging it against the wall.


“Gotcha,” Tara murmured to Faith.


“Damn,” Faith murmured, rubbing her head.

Willow’s eyes were alive with mischief, but she heroically managed not to giggle at the expressions on the faces of the pair.

“Alright, I admit it. Ya got me good there, Blondie.”


Buffy held up a finger, like a kid in class. “No concussion for me please.”


Tara smiled again. “No concussion, I promise.”


She dabbed Buffy, Giles and Xander without any trouble.

“If you want to kiss me, you can,” Anya said cheerfully. “Just be warned I will use tongue.”

Xander made a slight choking noise.


Tara chuckled as Willow glared at Anya. As usual, her glare had the same impact on Anya that it always did: none whatsoever. She dabbed Anya’s forehead without incident.


And then she got to Dawn, a serious expression clouding her face. “Are you sure about this Dawnie?”


Dawn frowned. “Hey I’ve seen plenty of scary stuff before. I’m not a kid you know.”


Tara knelt down next to Dawn and cupped her cheek tenderly. “Oh sweetie, it’s not that, not at all.”


Her eyes were gentle and her expression was filled with compassion as she spoke softly. “Sweetie, Buffy has already given us some idea of what we’re likely to see. It’s not likely to be very nice, especially for you.”


Dawn nodded sadly.
“You’re right Tara, it’s going to freak me out lots. I’m probably going to cry, and I will definitely need lots of hugs.”

She looked up, her expression totally serious. “But I need to see. Even if it sucks and it’s really terrifying, I need to see this.”


Tara felt a mixture of pride and worry. Proud of the strength and wisdom of her heart’s daughter, and worry about how much what they were likely to see might hurt her.
She nodded solemnly, and after anointing Dawn, she pressed a gentle kiss into her hair.


Tara returned to her seat, giving herself a bit more space from Willow for spell casting, but intertwining her ankles with Willow’s for a sense of closeness.

She patted the ground in front of the couch. “I need you to sit here Buffy. I need to touch your head so I can pick up the vision.”

Buffy obediently extracted herself from the couch and sat down cross-legged on the floor in front of Tara.

Tara gently laid a hand on Buffy’s head and she began to chant, soft, liquid syllables filling the lounge.
"Fís, radharc agus dearcadh domhain, solas mystic agus smaoinimh,fós nó meabhrach beidh mo shúile a fheiceáil, déanfaidh an taobh eile a thagann chun dom. "

Spoiler:
"Vision, Sight and deep perception, mystic light and thought,
still or conscious my eyes shall see, the other side shall come to me."



“Just relax Buffy,” she said reassuringly. “Try to remember the vision that you had. The spell will help you with the details.”

Buffy frowned and nodded, concentrating.
The vision began to form, and everyone closed their eyes to focus on it.
And they saw what Buffy saw. They saw the pompous shaman and holy men telling Buffy about the source of her power. They saw her struck from behind and knocked out.
And they saw buffy chained as they told her about the demon, the source of the slayer’s power. They offered her more power, showed her how it would be, the black smoke of the demon’s power flowing into her, filling her, making her stronger, stripping away most of what made her Buffy.
And they saw Buffy fight off the shadowy presence conjured by their magic, and predictably, break free and beat everyone up.
And they saw her final gift, a vision of thousands upon thousands of Turok-Han waiting beneath the Hellmouth.

After the vision faded there was silence for a long time.
Silence predictably broken by Anya.
“Well this just goes to show why you need me. If only you’d showed me this earlier, it could have saved you from so many unattractive frown lines.”


“Hey!” Buffy said, touching her face self-consciously.


“Your face is fine,” Faith said, glaring at Anya.


“Were they really that pompous?” Dawn asked.


“I, ah, suspect that what we saw was coloured by Buffy’s perception of events,” Giles essayed cautiously.


“Just be glad I was paying attention, otherwise you would have gotten ‘blah blah blah, something watchery, ooh shiney!’”


“Hello? I was talking?” Anya said.


“Why?” Faith asked with a sharp look.


Anya turned, exasperated to Tara. “Look, you have a brain, and a knowledge of spell casting. What was wrong with that picture?”


Tara shook her head. “I’m still dealing with Buffy chained up and violated by the people responsible for creating the slayer line.”


Dawn spoke up, in a quiet voice. “What did it feel like?”


Buffy thought for a moment. “Crushing, dark, cold. Like it wanted to blot out everything that made me Buffy, leaving only ‘The Slayer,’” she said, using finger quotes.


Anya was getting visibly annoyed at not being listened to. Giles intervened.


“Anya? You have some insight into this?”


“Yes, thank you Giles. Everyone listen to the woman who actually knows what’s going on please.”

She waited until she had everyone’s slightly annoyed attention. “So, that was a spell to infuse the First Slayer with the power of a demon, huh? With Buffy playing the part of the First Slayer?”


“With much better hair. And general hygiene,” Buffy added.


Anya held up her hand, cutting Buffy off. “In basic ritual spell casting, what do the colours of smoke signify?”


“White for cleansing, black for binding,” Tara said softly.


“Which would make sense, given the nature of the ritual, binding the demon into the Slayer bloodline,” Giles added.


“Right. So where was the demon?”


“Well, er, they had part of it. The ah, heart I would imagine.”


“Right. Which would make a handy ingredient for a spell, maybe even one to give temporary demon powers to someone. But to steal the powers of a demon, permanently-


Enlightenment dawned on Giles’ face as he took over. “-The demon would have to be alive to steal them from. Great Scott!”


Anya raised an eyebrow. “How astonishingly British of you Giles. Scones anyone? A spot of tea perhaps?”


Giles ignored her, his brow furrowed in concentration. “This explains a number of things I have had trouble understanding.”


“Like what? Which side of the road to drive? Coffee? Baseball?” Anya said.


Giles ignored Anya and looked instead to Buffy. “My dear, why are you still a Slayer?”


Buffy flushed slightly and looked a little awkward. “Um, lack of marketable skills? I don’t know much besides sticking pointy things in various types of bad guys.”


Giles essayed a tiny smile. “That wasn’t quite what I meant. Though I’m sure if you devoted your formidable mind to the task, you could acquire such skills quite rapidly.”

Giles’ expression was quite animated. “What I meant was, we had always assumed that the power of the Slayer was… contained, for lack of a better word, contained in the Slayer. And when she eventually fell, those powers were transferred to the next Slayer.”


“That fits within the bounds of traditional magic,” Willow said. “Like those battery powered tools Xander has, with the one set of batteries between all of them. Lots of different gizmos, but only one power source. Only one going at a time.”


“Exactly!” said Giles, pleased that someone had come up with a good metaphor. “So why is Buffy still a Slayer?”

He turned to Buffy. “You died at the hands of the master Buffy, a terrible fate to be sure. Xander brought you back, after the power of the Slayer had passed on to Kendra, and then later to Faith.”


“Uh Xan?” Faith said catching his eye. “Thanks for savin’ Buffy. An probably the whole world when ya get right down to it.”


Xander looked embarrassed. “Uh, sure. Anytime, really.”


Willow held up two fingers and mouthed, ‘That’s twice,” causing him to blush furiously and give a small, jerky nod of acceptance.


“Right. Well, as grateful as I was to have Buffy back, it always rather nagged at me,” Giles said.


He met Buffy’s puzzled gaze. “The power of the Slayer was passed on. So why, when Xander brought you back, why were you still a Slayer?”


“If only someone had thought to ask the demon empowerment expert,” Anya said.
She swatted Giles across the back of the head. “Stupid, stupid people. Why did you never ask questions?”


Giles smoothed his hair back down. “Usually we were busy saving the world, or recuperating afterwards.”
He sighed. “I take your point however. Please enlighten us.”


“Power has to come from somewhere, if it’s not something that’s yours to start with.”

She buffed her perfect nails. “When I was with D’hoffryn, I had an amulet that tapped into his powers and let me borrow them. This was why there were never too many of us and we were never sent out in groups, to make sure we didn’t all want to do the same thing at the same time and leave him powerless. Same with the Slayer.”

She waggled her finger at Buffy. “By rights, you should have gone back to being a potential, or maybe at best a half Slayer, sharing the power with Kendra.”


“Did you feel weaker after Xander brought you back?” Tara asked gently.


Buffy shook her head. “Stronger. I felt kinda woogy though, after Xander gave me mouth to mouth.”


“Hell of a rep there Xan-dude,” Faith said. “Your kisses make slayers go weak at the knees.”


Xander grinned as he realized that he’d kissed (or something like it) the majority of the women in the room.


Buffy smiled. “But after that, I felt stronger. A lot stronger.”
She looked thoughtful. “I kinda put it down to a sudden injection of confidence, but I put down the Master without too much trouble after that.”


Willow looked confused and slightly annoyed. “But that doesn’t make any sense… unless-”


“-unless our basic assumptions about the Slayer’s power are well… wrong,” Giles finished off.


“But Buffy’s vision,” Tara protested. “I don’t know a lot about demons. Oddly,” she smiled ruefully. “But that was a binding ritual. It had three casters, a magic circle, chains and black smoke. It was definitely a binding ritual.”


Anya nodded cheerfully. “Yes. I’ve seen it a number of times over the years. I didn’t recognise the words, but that was very similar to the kind of ritual used to bind a demon. Not into something, but to bind it’s powers. It’s a nasty form of punishment really, they don’t tend to last too long without their innate powers.”


Xander said. “So Willow’s Slayer activation spell-”


“Was a purification, an unbinding.” She turned to Willow. “Was there white light? White smoke?”
Willow nodded and Anya smiled happily. “This is how come Buffy and Faith weren’t weakened when it happened.”


“Uh, for those of us not all witchy and stuff, this means what?” Buffy asked.


Tara fielded the question. “You were born a Slayer Buffy. You were never activated, you were… released from bondage I guess.”


“Son of a bitch,” Faith breathed. “I fucking knew it!”

All eyes turned to her.

“Uh, yeah. Well I was talkin to Gramps here about the First Slayer and shit, which is what prompted this little shin-dig. I figured it didn’t make any damn sense to throw major mojo into creatin’ the Slayer, only to then spend the next forever, tryin’ to kill her.”
She looked around self-consciously. “Well, I don’t know nothin’ about magic and crap. But I know assholes pretty well, and it just didn’t seem to fit.”


“How did the council track down the potentials, Giles?” Willow asked.


“Genealogy mainly. Slayer potential followed the matrilineal line, mother to daughter. There were a few spells that could identify a potential, but they wouldn’t help you find them, just confirm if a girl was a potential or not.”


“Why no boy slayers Giles?” Xander asked.


“I don’t know Xander. I originally thought it was a stipulation of the original spell, but now I just don’t know.”


“Maybe slayers are Jewish?” Willow said with a smile.
At the puzzled looks, Willow sighed. “If a nice Jewish girl has little babies with a gentile, they’re still considered to be Jews. But boys can only have little baby Jews, if they marry a nice Jewish girl.”


“Does this mean I should start lighting a menorah?” Buffy said.


Willow laughed and shook her head.


“Which is why after untold millennia, there are only a few thousand potentials,” Giles said, ignoring the distraction.


“So mom was a Slayer?” Dawn said.


“Potential,” Giles added.

“So this is gonna sound a little odd, but how come we don’t have any Slayer moms after Willow’s spell?” Dawn asked, looking at Willow.


“I didn’t have much of a plan to be honest,” Willow said. “It was kinda desperate with the First. I hadn’t done any magic to speak of in ages. I didn’t even really have a spell, I just tapped into the Scythe, found everyone that showed up as a potential, and pushed hard.”


“So you probably got the ones that showed as being really close to achieving Slayer-dom,” Anya said.


“Breaking free,” Buffy whispered.

All eyes turned to look at Buffy.

“You guys, we didn’t thrust an unwanted destiny on these girls,” she said more clearly her voice showing her sense of wonder.
“They were always meant to be slayers. We just set them free.”


“Does that mean we can free the rest of em?” Faith asked.


Willow thought for a moment. “Maybe. Using the power of the scythe I was able to blow the binding off the girls that were held weakest. Or at least, now that we have this hypothesis, that’s what I think I did. I’m not sure I can destroy a spell that’s lasted thousands of years and was cast by the three most powerful shamen of their age.”


“I’ll take that bet,” Xander said.

Willow looked at him quizzically.

“I don’t think there’s anything you can’t do, if you put your mind to it, Will.” He smiled. “I’d back you against anything.”


Willow smiled, happy in the absolute confidence of her oldest friend. “Thanks Xander.”


“Except Buffy. Then all bets are off,” he shuddered. “Irresistible force, meet immovable object.”


Buffy glared at Xander. “Is this going to be like when you and Faith argued for, like ever, about that stupid superhero thing?”


“No, because there’s no way of knowing who would win. Unlike when the Green Lantern beats the Silver Surfer.”


Faith snorted. “As if!”


Buffy groaned. “Oh god, don’t start that again. It was bad enough the first time round.”


“Ahem,” Giles said primly.


“Sorry Giles,” Buffy said.


“Thank you. So, it is starting to look like the Watchers were created to find and control any slayers that awakened.”


“Uh, G-man, this might sound kinda dumb, but why was there always a Slayer? Why ‘one girl in all the world’ an’ shit? Not one or two, or even a bunch?”


“Magic always has a loophole,” Tara said.


Faith looked at her, awaiting an explanation.


“Magic deals with uncertainty and possibility. It can’t deal in absolutes. Which is why spells can be broken, or worked around. There’s always some wiggle room. Most of magic and spell casting, is learning how to get wiggle room and loopholes that you actually can live with. No magic can change or suppress something absolutely. Something is always left behind, or leaks out.”


“So the ‘one girl in all the world’ thing, was the left-over bit from a spell designed to do what? Make Slayers into ordinary girls?” Buffy asked.


Anya nodded. “Yes. A spell like that will always have some leakage. All spells have loopholes. Remember the gypsy curse?”


Buffy just glared at her.


+++

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


My Story: Coming Home


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2016 10:54 am 
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8. Vixen
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One word - MORE!!!

I hadn't gone away, I was just lurking around, besides RL was getting in the way far too much.

Oh, and DIBS!!!

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Heather aka vampyregurl73 aka Riverwillows73
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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 6:31 am 
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9. Gay Now
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Location: Kaskinen, Finland. Citizen of Kitopia
Yay for excellent update-y goodness... So the Slayers are all chindren of Lilith, and those Soon-to-be-Powerless "gods" want to exterminate them and got the Watchers do their dirty work...

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2016 12:19 am 
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Hi gang!

Remembering that i don't get warnings, i checked in, and there you were!


Oh, i'm so looking forward to the various levels of unveiling.

It's super complex, but it does have some layers. Like an onion. Or a troll. Without a hammer.

It allstems from one premise :)

Why are they trying to kill Faith?
Why are the former Watchers such dicks/incompetent?
What the hell is the Key? And why do we care?
Who the hell is Lilith?

all will be answered!
Eventually!

No, not next episode, sorry.

But we are definitely at the point where various Scoobies are getting ticked off and demanding answers.

More crazy to come!

Of i go, inspired to write. :bounce And not play games. Nope. Nope. :glasses

R :flower

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 2:42 pm 
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So the Slayers are a secret long lost "hybrid" race of humans that draw their superpowers from the fact hat they had a very different "Mitochondrial Eve" than the rest of us. And the Shadowmen didn't create the Slayer power but instead sought to subdue and turn them all off from the get go.

Love it! Makes a much more convincing reason for them to burn down the gates of heaven. Still wondering about the identity of the one "Power What Is" that's up there and on their side. Only time will tell.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 10:13 pm 
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Hey Citanul!

Heeheeheehee!

Nice ideas!

Totally wrong, but great ideas!

But yes, the shadowmen were restraining the Slayer, eons ago.

Haven't quite decided what they were going to 'give' Buffy in S7.
But then, i never really saw S7, so... meh.

New chapter coming soon!

R

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 12:59 am 
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The First Strike



“You’re going as well?” Ethan asked curiously.

The gang and friends were gathered in the rear courtyard of Slayer Central. Two huge rune-covered circles had been carefully drawn on the decorative bricks.


Giles looked a little embarrassed. “Well, yes. It’s not every day one gets a look at a higher plane you know.”


“You just want to give someone a good kicking, admit it.”


“Well, there’s that as well. I think someone up there has earned it.”


“Say no more. I’m just glad it’s not me, for a change.”


“We’re nearly ready mister Giles,” Tara said.

Giles nodded and stepped into the magic circle containing Willow, Tara, Xander, Buffy, Faith, Heather and Dawn. All of them were fully geared up for battle, black armour and weaponry in abundance.

Tara murmured under her breath as she completed the spell. There was a brief flare of light.


“I don’t feel any different,” Buffy said.


Tara shook her head. “You shouldn’t. All I did was blank out your aura for an hour or so. All it will really do is keep you off any, um, radar that they might have.”


“I can still feel her,” Faith said.


“I can’t,” Jules added.


Tara nodded to Jules thoughtfully. “As it should be. You can’t sense her due to her lack of aura. Faith is linked to Buffy on a spiritual level, and doesn’t have that problem.”


Willow and Tara together stepped out of one casting circle into another.

“Everyone ready to go?” Willow asked.


Ethan grinned. Oz, Jules and the rest of her squad nodded their assent.

“Good to go,” Jules said, drawing a long-bladed sword.


“Remember, you’re just decoys,” Buffy said. “Don’t go getting yourselves killed.”


“If you get killed, I will get really grumpy,” Dawn said.


“Relax. We’re gonna go at a dead sprint for the biggest, most important looking building, smash everything, and then run for home.”
She grinned. “We’re calling it the Faith manoeuvre.”


“It’s not actually possible to kill anyone up there, so don’t feel shy about swinging an axe or two,” Faith added.


“No worries. Let’s do this.”


Brie joined Willow and Tara on the outside of the circle.
As the three chanted, the pentacle flared with light between them, burning with white fire. The flames flared high, and the two men and five women were gone.


“I think I’m getting better at this teleporting thing,” Willow said. “No dizziness at all.”


“Practice makes perfect,” Tara said.


“Yup. Time for us to go I think.”


“Did we give them long enough?” Tara asked.


“I imagine by this stage, Ethan will have triggered every alarm they have. It will be pandemonium,” Giles said. “If there’s one thing Ethan excels at, it’s causing trouble.”


“Let’s go,” Anya said. “I would like to get back before Xander gets too tired. We have big plans for this evening.”


“We do?” Xander said, a little surprised.


“Dinner, a show, sex in the park.”


“Which park?” Dawn asked suspiciously. “I want to know, so I can be at the complete other end of town.”


“Of course,” Giles said acerbically. “Heaven forbid that our invasion of a higher plane interrupt your dinner plans.”


“And sex.”


“Save it for when we get back,” Buffy said. “Will, Tara, Brie, you ready to go?”


All three women nodded.
The whole group moved over to the teleportation circle, drawing various weapons as they did so.


“I’m pretty sure I can get us to the library,” Brie said. “I’m not sure what we’ll find, but it should look like a library.”


Dawn took Heather’s hand hers for reassurance.

Willow, Tara and Brie joined hands as their chanting rose to a crescendo.
With a flare of white fire they were gone.



+++



“Ok. So, heaven looks like Rome,” Dawn said.


“Cultural preconceptions,” Anya said with a sniff.

The group had appeared in a courtyard near a large and ornate looking building that looked a lot like the library of congress.
White marble, gold, and blue glass were present in abundance, as was a distinct winged motif.

There were a number of very surprised-looking passers-by when the group of heavily-armed black-clad warriors appeared in their midst. They were possibly the only black objects for miles.


“This way,” Anya said and lead off at a brisk trot.
The rest of the group followed at a similar pace.


“Damn, I’ve never seen so much white marble in all my life,” Faith grumbled.


“I feel really strange,” Tara said.


“Strange good, or strange oogy?” Willow asked.


“Um, good I guess?” Tara said with a frown.


In the distance, a heavy bell began to toll slowly with a deep, ominous sound.


“That can’t be good,” Buffy said. “Did the bell go off when you did your thing?” she asked Faith. “You know, last time you were here?”


Faith shook her head. “Nope. Whatever that’s for, it’s not for pissed-off Slayers.”


As they ran for the library, the blue sky, un-seen by the running group, began to change.




Anya burst through the doors, Buffy and Faith flanking her.
Most of the white-robed people were already running away, alerted perhaps by the heavy tolling bell.


One man however stood forth. “You do not belong here!”


Faith used the long handle of her axe to sweep his legs from under him. He grunted in surprise as he crashed to the hard floor.
She held her axe threateningly over his head. “Hey, dick-hole. What’s the bell for?”


“It-it is the Doom Bell. It only rings for cataclysmic e-events,” he stammered. “Like an invasion by dark gods.”


“Well done Ethan,” Giles murmured, in surprised respect.


“I’d ask how he managed that, but we don’t have time,” Anya said. “This way.”

She ran down a sweeping staircase to a lower level, closely followed by the rest of the group.
At the bottom she shouldered open the heavy and ornately decorated door.

“Slayers, sic ‘em,” she said with disturbing cheerfulness.


On the other side of the door were more shelves of books and scrolls, maintaining the library atmosphere. The major difference between this room and the one they’d just left, was the pair of guards inside.

Wrapped in gleaming metal and bearing swords, were two figures that could only be described as white knights.
As one, they drew their swords with a metallic whisper.


“You do not belong here,” one said as they took up defensive positions side by side.


“We get that a lot,” Buffy said. “I’ll take the chatty one.”


Buffy dove over the desk and rolled under the knight’s first swift stroke. She kicked his legs out from under him, and using the momentum of her sweep, spun and brought down the scythe, decapitating him as he hit the floor.

Faith simply smashed the sword from the hand of her adversary using the reach of her long axe. In a move similar to Buffy’s she kept her axe moving, and spinning with lightning speed she neatly removed his head.


Both knights simply evaporated in a flare of white sparks.


“Not much of a fight,” Faith complained.


“In all fairness, they really were not expecting us. Plus, I hey, like bad guys that don’t get dust and goop in your hair,” Buffy said.


Heather sheathed her sword and swept up the swords the knights had left behind. Wordlessly she handed one to Giles.


“Capital,” he pronounced, examining the shining blade with interest.


“This way,” Anya said, moving to an unassuming side door. “This is the restricted section. Through there are the vaults of the really restricted section. What we are looking for is going to be in there.”


“More guards?” Buffy asked.


Anya nodded. “Almost certainly.”


“I’ll go left, you go right,” Buffy said to Faith.


Faith nodded and kicked in the door with an almighty crash.
“Knock knock.”


“Hey, we’re here about the overdue books,” Buffy said. “Also if you have any back issues of Cosmo, I wouldn’t mind.”


Inside, the room was somewhat narrower and longer, the walls lined with shelves, packed with books and scrolls. At the far end of the room-come-hallway was a metal wall covered with ornate inscriptions. Between the group and their goal were four more knights in gleaming armour.


They drew their swords in unison and advanced on the girls.


Buffy drew a knife and tossed it at her adversary’s head. It bounced off in a spray of sparks, but certainly distracted him.
She brought the scythe down in a vicious overhand chop that moved so fast it was barely visible.


Desperately the knight blocked with his sword.
It didn’t help much.


The Scythe was forged by the Guardians in the distant past. It was made for the Slayer alone to wield, and was one of the most powerful magical weapons on the planet.


Whatever special qualities the knight’s sword may have had, the Scythe did not care. It sheared through the blade with terrible force and cleaved through the knight, armour and all, from head to toe.


Faith’s opponent fared little better. Telegraphing a mighty swing at her opponent, she was unsurprised when he tried to interrupt her swing with a thrust to her midsection. Using the haft of her axe, she knocked the blade aside and brutally slammed the handle of her axe against his helmeted head. She hit hard enough to send him crashing against the wall, several meters away.


Both knights evaporated in a flare of light.


Xander and Giles advanced on the two knights remaining.
The knights struck, Xander’s opponent slashing down from above, Giles’ lunging to thrust his blade through his chest.
Xander blocked the sword with the head of his axe, desperately throwing himself aside as the sword blade sliced impossibly through the heavy steel of the axe-head.


Giles, armed with one of the knight’s own swords, was somewhat more successful in dealing with his attacker. He parried the blade, deflecting it to one side, and thrust for the knight’s throat.
Sadly, all the armour was not just for show. The blade scored the gleaming metal, but was handily deflected by the collar-like gorget surrounding the knight’s neck.


Dawn, not one to stand idly by and let a knight chop up Xander, drew both pistols and opened fire on the knight’s helmeted head with metronome-like timing.
While none of the bullets were able to penetrate the enchanted metal, the hammering he was receiving from the rapid gunfire prevented him from following up his attack on Xander, and gave Xander the chance to dive out of the way and grab one of the fallen knight’s swords.


Taking advantage of this distraction, Heather dove past Giles and kicked out the back of his opponent’s knee. The knight fell heavily to the floor, landing on one knee. She took advantage of the other knight’s gunfire-based distraction and shoved her blade up, under his arm. The sword punched through the thin chain with ease and sank deep into his body.


Giles took advantage of his opponent’s fall, and rammed the tip of his blade in through the knight’s visor.
Two more defenders evaporated in a shower of white light.


“Thanks,” Xander said, breathing hard.


“You know, if you don’t have crazy strength and super-powered magic weapons, these guys are real trouble,” Dawn said.


Xander nodded. “Definitely worse than vampires.”
He looked at his shiny new sword. “I am so keeping this.”


“Nice moves G,” Faith said.


“Thank you. Nice to know all those fencing lessons weren’t wasted.”


Buffy moved up to Heather and patted her on the shoulder. “Well done.”


Heather smiled back. “Thanks. Is that what we’re looking for?” she said, pointing to the ornately engraved wall.


“Yes,” said Anya. “That’s the vault.”


The group approached the wall. There were no handles or keyholes, just intricately inscribed runes covering every square inch of the polished metal surface.


“Uh, how am I supposed to open this?” Dawn asked uncertainly.


“The same way you open everything else,” Tara said softly. “Don’t think about it, just open it.”


Dawn flashed her an uncertain smile and stepped up to the wall. She gave it an experimental shove.
Her eyebrows vanished into her hairline as the wall slid smoothly forwards.
“Ok. So, it’s open.”


She pushed some more and the wall slid further back and shifted to the side, revealing a small room. The only thing visible in the room was a lectern holding a large white book.


“Huh. It looks like G through H of the encyclopaedia. I was expecting something a little more fancy,” Dawn said.


“I thought you said it was all fire-y,” Buffy added.


“It is,” Anya said. “To those who can see what’s actually there. The book thing is just a disguise. This is it. Eish Da'at, the Fiery Law.”


“Well grab the thing and let’s go,” Faith said. “I been here once already, an’ I got no desire to stay.”


Anya shook her head vigorously. “You grab it. I can see what it really is. I am not touching it.”


Xander picked up the book and stuffed it in his backpack. “Just a book. Let’s go.”


Anya looked at him with newfound respect. “You just picked up the most powerful book in all creation. I am very impressed, and very turned on right now.”


“Wonderful,” Giles said, glaring at Anya. “We should leave. And not speak. At all.”


“Good plan. Let’s go,” Buffy said.


“Before we go, let me steal a few more books,” Giles said. “Hopefully it will cover our true purpose in being here.”


And with that, Buffy and Faith lead the way back out.

Dawn pulled the door shut behind her.



+++



“Uh, is the sky meant to be green?” Dawn asked. “I remember it not being green when we got here.”


“Yeah, that’s different,” Faith commented.


“Is this going to stop us getting home?” Buffy asked.


Willow’s brow furrowed. “Uh, the teleport spell doesn’t care what colour the sky is. The issue is more likely to be whatever else happened, to turn the sky green.”
She turned to Brie. “Have you ever heard of anything like this?”


Brie shook her head. “I don’t know much about weather conditions on other planes of existence. The fae lands are supposed to have green skies, I think. But that’s about the only thing I have ever heard about anything like this.”


“We should go,” Tara said softly, taking Willow’s hand.


Willow nodded, taking brie’s hand. The Scoobies gathered around as the three women chanted the shorter version of the spell to return them home.


In a flare of light, they were gone.



+++



When the blaze of light cleared, they were greeted by Ethan’s fox-like grin.
“I see you’re all alive then. How was it?” he asked.


“Fast and smooth. Reggie will be proud,” Giles replied.


“Let’s hear it for Slayer powers,” Buffy quipped.


She turned to the other group.
Oz, for some reason was wearing only a pair of black track-pants and breathing hard.

“Is there a reason you look like you’re trying out for the cast of Baywatch? I mean, you’re in good shape, but still…”


Oz’s mouth twitched slightly. “Clothes get in the way.”


“Really, it was wonderful,” Ethan said jubilantly. “You should have seen their faces when they saw a werewolf running around their own private sanctuary. He can be quite intimidating when he wants to be.”


Oz shrugged. “It’s a gift.”


“However you got them to ring their apocalypse bell, it worked like a charm,” Giles said, a hint of grudging admiration in his voice. “We had little trouble getting to the vault.”


Ethan smirked. “Stop it old boy, you’ll make me blush.”


Giles glared.


“In all honesty, I’m not sure what happened. They were convinced that a hell-god had invaded.”


“Not your work?” Giles asked, a note of caution in his voice.


Ethan shook his head. “If I’d had that kind of power, I’d have done something more useful with it.”
“As it was, we ran around hitting and breaking things, and generally having a rare old time.”


“Do you know why the sky turned green?” Dawn asked.


Ethan held up his hands helplessly. “I have no idea.”


Giles cleared his throat. “Let’s get inside and examine our prize, shall we?”


“I must admit to some curiosity about this book,” Ethan said.


“No touching,” Buffy said warningly. “I still may slay you.”


Ethan raised his hands, and attempted (with no success) to look innocent.


The small mob slowly trickled into the buildings of Slayer central, bickering mildly.



+++



“Are you ok?” Dawn asked.


Jules nodded. “Yeah. Was weird though. Everything was so bright, and it felt real strange.”


“Like a training exercise?” Heather said.


“Yeah. Normally I get a bit of a kick when I fight, a little bit of ‘grr’ from my Slayer-ness,” she said thoughtfully. “Not this time.”


“They weren’t evil,” Dawn said. “I’d feel pretty bad about trying to kill them, but Anya said you can’t kill the dead. So who knows.”


“Oz is pretty scary when he wants to be,” Jules said. “I just about peed myself when he changed.”
“I can’t believe Willow used to date him.”


“Oz is cool,” Dawn said. “Maybe a little less so when he’s all ‘grr.’ But when he’s not, he’s pretty cool.”


Jules grinned at the pair. “Speaking of dating-”


“We weren’t,” Heather interrupted.


“How are you two doing?” she finished.


Dawn smiled shyly. “Good. Really good.”


“The kissing is very good,” Heather said softly.


“Woohoo!” Jules said. “Welcome to the sisterhood.”


“Thanks,” Heather said sarcastically.


Dawn grimaced. “What I’m not looking forward to, is Buffy finding out.”


Jules looked puzzled. “What? Why? I mean she’s gay, and getting married to a woman. Or trying to. How could she possibly be down on you being gay?”


Dawn rolled her eyes. “Trust me. She’ll flip. And somehow she’ll find a way to make it all about her.”



+++



Giles carefully opened the book.
All the other Scoobies were gathered around the table, watching carefully (or in Anya’s case, hiding at minimum safe distance).

He flicked through several pages. “It’s blank,” he said.


“Bullshit!” Faith growled. “We didn’t just break into heaven and steal this stupid thing for nothing!”


“It’s not blank,” Buffy said. “I can’t read the squiggly lettering, but there is stuff written on the page.”


Giles helpfully turned the book around to Buffy.


“Yep. Squiggle squiggle, pig, squiggle squiggle.”


“Pig?” Willow said.


“See,” Buffy pointed. “It looks like a pig.”


“Uh, Buff, I can’t see anything except blank paper,” Xander said.


Buffy frowned. “Ok. Raise your hand if you can see words on the page.”


Faith, Buffy, Dawn, Tara and Anya raised their hands.


Giles hummed thoughtfully. “Hmm. What do you all have in common?” he asked out loud.


“Good hair?” Buffy said.


“We’re all chicks,” Faith suggested.


“I can’t see squat,” Jules said. “And I’m a chick, I checked.”


“We’ve all had a weird start to our new lives,” Dawn suggested. “Everyone who can read this has either died, or had a new life created for them.”


“I can read it,” Tara said.


“Yeah, you put your hand up,” Buffy said.


“No, I mean I can understand the words,” Tara said, more clearly.


“You can? What does it say?” Dawn said, pointing at the title.


“Book of days,” Tara said simply.


“Extraordinary,” Giles said. “Would you mind having a look through and see if you can find anything relevant?”


Tara nodded. “Sure. I’ll get started right now.”


“And I will bring you both dinner,” Xander said. “That being the limit of my usefulness at this point.”


“What is dinner tonight?” Faith asked.


“Creamy chicken and mushroom pasta, with salad.”


“Wicked. Let’s go carbo-load while the witches get started.”


“And I can read over your shoulder,” Willow said cheerfully. “Metaphorically speaking.”


“You can do that?” Buffy asked.


Willow nodded. “Sure. I can’t read the page, but I can read Tara.”
She grinned a little. “I have a degree in Tara studies.”


Tara chuckled. “You got an ’A’ sweetie.”


“Best exam ever.”


“You guys are too cute for words,” Buffy said with a smile. “I’ll leave you to your cuteness and super stuffy magic book, and go stuff my fiancé.”
She blinked.
“That sounded less dirty in my head.”


Laughing, Tara opened the book.


+++

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2016 1:28 am 
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Dibs...

Nice action montage slash speed run through a dungeon crawl. I'm looking forward to the shenanigans Giles and Xander will get up to with their fancy new heaven swords. Is it messed up if I'm reminded of the American Dad X-mas episode where Stan dies, goes to heaven, tries to get his death overturned, and then steals a "heaven gun"?

Also can't wait to find out which of the Scoobies set off the dark god detecting "Game Over Man!" bell. Could it be Dawn? Faith's baby? Xander's personal "Anti-Magic Field"? Maybe it goes off whenever it smells a live Slayer? Or maybe Willow's witchy aura looks like a walking hellmouth on the higher plains.

Looking forward to finding out sometime after Tara gives Willow an impromptu adult literacy class in "Contemporary Celestial Lit".

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 12:35 am 
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Hi Citanul!

Glad you liked :)

Who set off the alarm?
not telling :)

Don't forget, there were two groups up there.
Core Scoobies, and Ethan's group, with the Buffybot, Oz, and the Valkyries.

But i'm hoping no one will guess for a while.
Not that i'm trying to hide it, there are little clues as time goes by.
:P

more soon :)

R :flower

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 1:01 am 
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness... I'm glad that the Raid-on-Heaven went without too much problems... The sky turning green and the Apocalypse bell have me kinda worried of what those Soon-to-be-Gone folks in Heaven are going to do in desperation when they realize that the book is gone...

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2016 1:23 am 
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Sorry about the delay: board issues.

Should be an update up tomorrow :)

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2016 1:29 am 
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Hi gang! Well, it took so long for the board to start behaving itself (for me, anyway) that i figured i'd wait till the weekend.
So, here you go!
Finally, answers are coming :)


The most important book in the universe. And pasta.


“Wow. Buffy’s in here,” Tara said with surprise. “At least I think that’s who they’re talking about.”

The pair sat side by side at the table, ankles intertwined. Willow had a big note-filled ledger laid out in front of her, along with many coloured pens.


“This thing is hard to read,” Willow grumbled, carefully focusing on what Tara was seeing. “And I don’t just mean that it’s a blank page to me. It looks like some of the paragraphs have faded out.”


Tara nodded, smiling as Willow stroked the back of her neck. “I think those are prophesies that are, um, no longer relevant. There’s something here about the ‘Last Hellmouth Guardian, killed by the master,’ which I’m pretty sure is Buffy.”


“Yup. Yay for Xander actually paying attention in first-aid class.”


“It looks like they weren’t expecting that.”


“Uh, ‘Dark Slayer?’ Is that Faith?” Willow asked, carefully reading the images from Tara’s head.


Tara read a little more. “Um, I think so.”
Reading further her eyes widened. “Oh wow. It’s like they deliberately sabotaged Faith’s relationship with Buffy.”


“Yikes! It’s like a ‘how-to’ guide for screwing up relationships. ‘The return of the souled-vampire will thwart their joining.’” Willow frowned. “Buffy is going to be so pee’d off.”


“I think I’ll let you tell her,” Tara said teasingly.


“Darn.”


“Oh. This looks scary,” Tara said. “‘The Key must be separated from its guardians, for they are the first children of the Goddess, and could awaken her. In all matters, keep the Key from the guardians, for fear of the prophesy’s fulfilment, and the destruction of the world.’”


“Oh! I’ve seen that before. In one of the books we brought home. Accidentally.”


Tara frowned. “I’d still like to know how that happened. Um, who are the guardians?”


Willow shook her head. “We don’t know. Maybe us, maybe Mistress Brie’s pals? Um, now that I think of it, there’s the people who made the Scythe. They were called guardians too.”


“First children of the Goddess,” Tara said. “That sounds a lot like the Daughters of the Flame.”


“Well, Brighid seems to like Dawn. Which is a little worrying if you think about it. I mean, if the Daughters are the guardians… hello end of the world.”


“Well, hopefully the mysterious prophesy is in here somewhere,” Tara said.


At that point, Xander strolled in carrying a big tray with covered dishes.
“Ta-da! The Xander-man brings food.”


“Yay Xander! Have I mentioned that you are my favourite Xander-shaped friend?” Willow said, gazing hungrily at him.


“No. Why?”


“Because you are.”


“I also brought salt, pepper and stinky-feet cheese.”


“Parmesan.”


Xander nodded. “That too. Found anything yet?”


Tara nodded and looked up as Willow organized dinner. “I’m just skimming through it for now, to see if anything jumps out at me. “I’ve found a few things. It’s strange. But this is less like a book of prophesy and more like a strangely written history book. Or a diary.”


“Can I have a look while you guys are eating?” Dawn said, wandering in with her own plate piled with pasta and greenery.


“I thought you couldn’t read it?” Willow said, sprinkling a thick layer of parmesan all over her food.


Dawn goggled at Willow. “Geez Willow, you want some food with that cheese?”


Willow looked a little guilty, but didn’t stop sprinkling.
Dawn rolled her eyes and laughed. “I can’t read it, but I figure I can try and learn. Or Tara can try her translate-y spell after dinner.”


Tara slid the book over to her.

“Um, please don’t spill delicious pasta sauce on the most important book in the universe,” Willow said worriedly.


Dawn nodded. “I won’t. I promise.”


She focused on the words as the two witches tucked into their yummy meal.
She frowned. Surely she should be able to read this? After all, she could see the letters, unlike most.
And she was good with languages.
She thought about it a little more. She could unlock things, and this book was between her and knowledge she wanted very badly.
So she closed her eyes and concentrated, imagining the book as something that needed unlocking. She visualized the words becoming readable.

She opened her eyes.
And smiled.


+++


Heather sat down next to Dawn, a plate of creamy pasta and salad in each hand. Wordlessly she held a fork in front of Dawn’s face until she noticed.

Dawn focussed on the fork. She realised how hungry she was the second the delicious smell of chicken-y pasta hit her.
Gratefully, she pushed the book aside, and looked up into smiling blue eyes.


“You, are so the best.”

Heather smiled radiantly, and Dawn felt her heart warm.
She leaned forward and whispered “Best girlfriend ever,” before pressing a soft kiss against her cheek.

Heather flushed pinkly and giggled, Dawn joining her.
Together they interlinked their ankles and started in on their dinner.


+++


“What’s up chicks?” Jules said, strolling in to the lounge.
She patted her slightly protruding stomach. “Damn that Mary girl can cook.”


Heather and Dawn both nodded, their mouths full.
“Mmm-hmm.”


“How’s the big book o scary stuff going?”
Dawn held up her thumb.


“Cool. I’ll just shut up then.” She flopped down on of the couch next to them.

The quiet sounds of determined eating filled the room for a little while.
Eventually the two girls finished, and pushed their plates away, all scraped clean.


“Wow. That was amazing,” Dawn said.


“Oh yeah. I am gonna have to get her to give me cooking lessons,” Heather replied.


“Hey, good idea.”


The three sat in companionable silence, absorbing their yummy meal.


“So now you two clowns have finished stuffing your faces, have you found anything in the book of doom?”


Dawn nodded. “Yep. There’s a ton of stuff in here. Not just about us, but lots of other folks too. Angel’s in here, like, a lot.”


“Really?” Jules said.


“Oh yeah. The plans they had for him are… really not going to work anymore,” she said with a grin.


“Try to keep in mind that you two are the brainy ones here. I am the one who kicks butt and looks fabulous doing it.”


Dawn chuckled. “It looks like the Powers That Be wanted to get him back together, with Buffy.”


“For real?” Jules said, eyebrows vanishing into her hairline. “I… really don’t see that happening. Though, hey, if they did get together, maybe I could date Faith.”


Heather poked her with a finger. “I thought you gave up pining for Faith?”


Jules frowned. “Hey, I’m not pining for anyone. But a girl can dream, can’t she?”


“Don’t let Buffy hear that. She’s likely to assign you to Alaska or something,” Dawn said.


Jules grinned. “I hear those Alaskan chicks are real warm and friendly.”


Dawn rolled her eyes. “Dork.”


Jules grinned some more. “Loonie.”


Heather touched Dawn’s arm. “Have you found anything about this super-important prophesy yet?”


Dawn frowned. “Maybe. I wanted to do a bit more reading though, before I scream ‘I know what’s going on.’ And everybody pounces on me.”


“Ok. What’s it say?” Jules asked, leaning over to stare at the page. It was still blank as far as she could tell.


“Well, there’s all this stuff about ‘the end of the third age’ and the destruction of the world.”


“Freaky.”


Dawn nodded. “Oh yeah. I’ve got no idea what the third age is, but I’m figuring it’s now. I can’t help but wonder what the other two ages are though.”


“Classical and Disco?” Jules put in with a smirk.


“Nope. And you’re still a dork.”


“What’s the stuff say?” Heather asked.


Dawn flicked through a few pages and put her finger on a line of words that only she could see. “There shall be three signs. Three signs that mark the end of the Third Age and world we know. The thrice-born shall walk the earth. The heavens shall be girt with emerald, and a child shall be born to the fallen and the dead. She shall be the first true child of Lilith to be born since the second age, and if the child be born, nothing can stop the heavens from falling.”


“Wow. Uh, kinda portent-y and stuff,” Jules said.


Dawn and Heather nodded at the same time. “Oh yeah.”


“So I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that part two has already happened,” Jules said. “’Cos we were in actual heaven, and the sky actually turned green. Which was pretty fucking weird, though it looked cool.”


Heather nodded. “Yup. And I’m gonna add Buffy to part one. I mean, she came back from the dead twice, which makes three lives.”


Dawn nodded thoughtfully. “Yeah, that makes sense. And then we have step three, a child of the fallen and the dead.”


“Creepy. Connor?” Jules asked.


Dawn thought for a moment. “No. He’s more like a child of the dead and the dead. And if it was him, the panic would have happened ages ago.”


“I’m thinking that could be either Buffy and Faith, or Willow and Tara,” Heather said.


Jules made a ‘go on’ gesture.


“Well Buffy died. So did Tara. And Willow and Faith could both be said to have fallen into darkness.”


Jules whistled. “What are the chances that they’ll have kids though? I mean, unless I’m missing something, they’re both girls.”


Dawn squirmed uncomfortably. She knew Faith was pregnant, but she had promised not to tell anyone.
She remembered something related. “Magic. They could use magic to have a baby. There’s a few different spells they could use, and I know Tara has one.”


Jules slowly turned her head to look at Dawn, one eyebrow raised. “For real?”


Dawn shrugged. “Sure. There have been witches around for a long time. I bet there’s been more than a few who paired up and wanted a baby.”


“So Tara and Willow are going to have a baby, and end the world? Seriously?”


Dawn held up her hands helplessly. “Hey don’t blame me, I’m just reading what it says.”


Heather piped up. “I’m not seeing a miniature Tara ending the world. That’s like, super innocent, plus. And pretty cute too I bet.”


“Um,” Dawn said.


Jules poked her in the shoulder. “Spill.”


“Well, when we were in Europe, Willow blew up a mountain. Like, it was a before and after shot of Mount St Helens. And Tara called down the sun. It was like watching startrek or something. This huge beam of light came down from the sky and drilled a hole in the earth. It ate a tank.”


Jules whistled.


“Yeah. Keep in mind, any kid of theirs could have more power than either of them.”


“That’s… kinda scary,” Heather said.


“Ok, so one possibility,” Jules said. “What about Buffy and Faith? Is there anything saying a Slayer can’t be a witch?”


Dawn shook her head. “I’ve asked to Giles about it. Any Slayer could be a witch if they wanted to, being all filled with mystical power and stuff. The problem comes from the mindset required. Slayers like to do physical things. Act, fight, move. Magic requires a lot of brain work. My sister is really smart, and she barely made it through high-school. She’s got way too much on her plate to learn magic.”


“And I don’t see Faith being any different,” Jules added.


“Could someone else do the spell for them?” Heather asked.


“I’d say… no,” Dawn said, blushing. “The spell Tara has, is for two to cast. It takes hours and involves a lot of, uh, sex. I don’t see Buffy or Faith going for a threesome to make a baby.”
By the time she was finished with her explanation, Dawn was beetroot red.


“You get to tell Faith and Buffy about that little wrinkle, if they ever decide they want to make a baby,” Jules said.
She grinned. “And I want to watch you tell them.”


Dawn shot her a look. “If they ever decide they want to do that, I’m pretty sure they’ll ask Tara or Willow. They can do the explaining.”


“We should tell them what we’ve found,” Heather said quietly.


Dawn nodded. “We will. When everyone gets back from dinner.”


+++


“Uh guys?” Dawn said, a little nervously. “I found something.”


Willow looked up, surprised. Tara looked up a little from the couch, her head in Willow’s lap.
Buffy and Faith were sprawled across another couch, blissfully stuffed, hands on tummies.

Xander chuckled as he wandered into the room and saw the happily replete women.


“What have you found?” Giles asked.


“Yeah, that,” Buffy said sleepily, as Faith rubbed her tummy with soft comforting strokes.


“Ok. Well I think I found the prophesy they were trying to hide. I’m not completely sure, but it sure looks like the kind of thing they’d want hidden.”


“Uh, this may sound dumb,” Xander said. “But I thought you couldn’t read the book?”


Giles cleared his throat. “I had assumed you’d used your translation spell, Tara.”


Tara shook her head. “Not yet. I’m not sure it would even work on a book like this.”


All eyes turned to a beaming Dawn. “I figured since I could see the words, I should be able to read them. So I unlocked them.”


Buffy sat up. “You can do that?”


Dawn lifted her hands helplessly. “I guess. I mean, it worked.”


“What did you find Dawnie?” Tara said softly.


“A prophesy about the destruction of the world. Listen to this,” she said.
“There shall be three signs. Three signs that mark the end of the world that we know. The thrice-born shall walk the earth. The heavens shall be girt with emerald, and a child shall be born to the fallen and the dead. This shall be the first true child of Lilith to born since the second age, and If the child be born, nothing can stop the heavens from falling.”


“We figure Buffy’s the thrice born,” Heather said. “And we know the sky in heaven turned green for whatever reason. All we need now is the child.”


Silence greeted this pronouncement.

“Fuck,” Faith said succinctly.


“Quite,” Giles responded.


“Uh, what?” Heather said. “All you have to do is not have a baby with Buffy, and no apocalypse.”


“Bit late for that. I’m knocked up,” Faith said.


Heather and Jules just stared blankly at Faith. Simultaneously, they both turned their heads to Buffy.
Buffy just raised her hands helplessly.


“Uh, so… no uh, little slips?” Jules asked hesitantly.


Both Buffy and Faith looked annoyed, but they shook their heads.


“And now that the secret is out, I can talk about it,” Dawn said. “No one knows how the baby thing happened, but Tara was going to do a diagnosis type spell and see if she could figure out how.”


“Which is something we can do now,” Tara said.


“We should go to the sanctuary,” Willow said. “It’s all pre-cleansed and quiet. Good for figuring stuff out.”


“Cool. Let’s do it,” Faith said.


After Willow and Faith left, towing Tara and Buffy with them, the remaining Scoobies looked at each other.


Jules broke the silence. “So, a baby Faith is slightly more believable at ending the world than a baby Tara, but how the hell does a kid destroy the world?”


“I don’t know,” Giles said quietly. “But if this child is somehow both Buffy and Faith’s child, it could easily be the most powerful being to walk the earth in aeons.”


“How?” Heather asked.


“Because a Slayer has at least one parent who is ordinary,” Dawn said. “Ordinary human. And look how powerful they are. Now imagine that both parents are active Slayers. Not just potentials, but the oldest and most powerful Slayers alive. Maybe the most powerful ever.”


They pondered that in silence for a little while.

“I still don’t get it,” Jules said after a while. “I mean, so what? This kid grows up to be a super Slayer, and then what?”

Everyone turned to hear her explanation. “I mean, say she’s gonna be so super strong, and so super tough, that it makes Buffy and Faith look like regular folks. So what? She can still only swing an axe at so many dudes, still only stake so many vamps. How does that end the world?”


“There is more to a Slayer than simple strength and speed,” Giles said quietly. “A Slayer is a mystical force. Things are possible for a Slayer that are just not possible for more regular people. Imagine that doubled, or even squared. That child could change to world.”


“I would have thought that a baby Willow-Tara would be more dangerous, what with the magic and stuff.”


“As with many prophesies, it seems as though this one could be fulfilled by more than one person. Note that it mentions nothing about witches or Slayers. Only a child of the fallen and the dead. Arguably this could be a child of Buffy and Faith, or of Willow and Tara.”


“And Faith is already preggo,” Jules said. “Not so much waiting there.”


“Quite,” Giles said dryly.


+++


In Willow’s sanctuary, Faith lay on her back, her head pillowed in Buffy’s lap. She was looking around at the symbols on the walls and the runes embroidered on the wall hangings. It wasn’t often that she got to look in here, it being all witchy and she being... not.

Willow watched with interest as Tara passed her hand back and forth, a few inches above Faith’s body.

“Hmm,” Tara murmured.


“Is that a good ‘hmm’ or a bad one?” Buffy asked, more than a little anxiously.


“Neither,” Tara said. “I’m still getting the hang of Slayer auras, but I’m still seeing a lot of green.”


“Green? That good or bad?” Faith asked, with vested interest.


“I think… It’s Dawn,” Tara responded carefully.


“What?! How?!” Buffy demanded.


“Plenty of auras have green in them,” Tara said. “It’s a good colour. But this is like green fingerprints almost. Something I couldn’t see before, because everything was green.”


“Great. So we’ve swapped ‘Buffy knocked me up’ for ‘Dawn knocked me up.’” Faith said caustically.


“How?” Buffy asked. “She’s still got the training wheels on her broom.”


Willow spoke softly. “She’s still the Key Buffy.”


“No she’s not.” Buffy said automatically.


“Of course. Because of that really long ritual we did, to separate ‘The Key’ from Dawn,” Willow said with a hint of sarcasm.

Buffy just glared at her.

Willow sighed. “Sorry Buff, we talked about this. Yeah, Glory’s gone, blah-blah-blah. But Dawn is still the Key. She opened a vault in heaven Buffy. She’s really powerful.”


Buffy sighed. “I know. I just wanted her to have a normal life, y’know? Like I never had.”


“What is normal Buffy?” Tara said quietly.


Buffy looked down at Faith sadly. “Not risking your life every night,” she said, stroking Faith’s soft dark hair.


“B? Firefighters do that. And cops, soldiers, and even ambulance drivers. Lots of important jobs have danger.”


“This is normal, Buffy. For us at least,” Tara said softly.


Willow reached out and put a gentle hand on her best friend’s shoulder. “I chose this life Buffy. So did Xander, Tara and Giles. Is it so bad that Dawn wants to as well?”


Buffy looked away. “I know. I hear what you’re saying, I just wish… that there was something better for her. Something more.”


Faith reached up and turned Buffy’s head to face her. “More than what, B? A life that really matters? Friends and family willing to fight an’ die for you? A chance to change the world for the better? For real?”


Buffy sighed again. “I guess,” she said unconvincingly.


“No one said you have to like it B, she’s your little baby sister,” Faith said. “O’ course you wanna protect her. An’ o’ course you’re not gonna be happy if she throws herself into harm’s way. But ya do have to accept it, because it’s her choice, an’ she’s smarter than both of us.”


Buffy huffed. “I know you’re right. All of you. I just hate it, that’s all.”


Willow smiled a little at her. “Well, if you were suddenly ok with Dawn’s lifestyle choices, we might start to wonder when you been replaced by a pod person.”


Buffy rolled her eyes, though she was trying hard not to smile at least a little. “Oh come on, I’m not that bad.”


Faith snorted and Willow tried perhaps too hard to keep the look of disbelief from her face.


Buffy slumped. “That bad huh?”


“Yeah, pretty much,” Faith said. “But we still love ya.”


Buffy chuckled. “Ok, overprotective Buffy has left the building. Can we get back to my sister impregnating random women?”


Willow blinked in surprize. “Uh, that definitely sounded a little bit bizarre. Um, sweetie can you tell if the baby is Buffy’s?”


“Or Dawn’s,” Faith said.


All three women looked at her in surprize.

“What? If lil’ D knocked me up, ain’t it gonna be her kid?”


“God. Just thinking about that makes my brain hurt,” Buffy complained.


“Well, women don’t usually impregnate other women without mystical help,” Tara said helpfully.


“And when things get mystical, they can get kinda hinkey,” Willow said.


Buffy absorbed this information in silence.


Tara made a thoughtful face.
“Give Faith your hand, Buffy,” she suggested.

Buffy helpfully held out her hand.

Tara closed her eyes, and smiled when Faith took the proffered hand.
“I think she’s yours Buffy.”


“She?” Buffy said, her voice soft with awed surprise.


“Told ya,” Faith added.


Tara nodded, smiling warmly as she opened her eyes. “She brightens when you touch Faith. She knows you Buffy.”


“She knows me?” Buffy said. Her hazel eyes glittered with unshed tears as she met Faith’s gaze. In the light from the sunny day pouring in through the big windows, her light brown eyes were almost gold.


“What’s she like?” Buffy said, her voice small and trembling, her eyes locked with Faith.


“She’s gold Buffy, pure gold,” Tara said gently.


“Gold?” Faith said brokenly, her voice rough as she looked up at Buffy’s shining eyes.


Willow looked at Tara, confused. Tara silently shook her head, indicating that she had no idea what the pair were talking about, or why Faith was crying.


Willow got to her feet and held out her hand for Tara. “We’ll go get a drink or something and give you guys some space.”


Tara took Willow’s hand and was hauled to her feet. “Did you want us to get you anything?”


“Hot chocolate please,” Buffy said with a sniffle.


“With them little marshmallows,” Faith added, her voice somewhat rough and raspy.


Willow smiled. “Two hot chocolates with marshmallows, check.”


+++


Buffy and Faith returned to the library looking somewhat better, having cleaned up a little and gotten some hot chocolate inside them. They were still sipping their drinks, Faith poking a finger into her cup to get the teeny marshmallows.


Faith gave Tara a look as she nibbled her marshmallow-y finger.
Tara shook her head, indicating that she hadn’t told anyone what she’d found.


Faith flashed her a quick smile.
She cleared her throat to get everyone’s attention. “Uh, yeah. So by now everyone knows I’m knocked up, yeah?”


Everyone in the room nodded or murmured “Yep.”


Faith smiled a little. “Well, congratulate us, ‘cos we’re gonna be moms.”


“Congratulations, of course,” Giles said. “But… has something changed?”


Faith smiled a little and looked at Buffy. “Yeah. B here is gonna be a mom too.”


Buffy blushed furiously, but was smiling nervously.


“Yeah. It turns out the little tadpole is Buffy’s.”


“Well that neatly fits the apocalyptic prophesy,” Anya said cheerfully. “Well done lesbians, you broke the world.”


Buffy glared at Anya in outrage. “Well excuse me Anya! I’m new at all this girl-girl love, and I didn’t think I was going to impregnate anyone, what with being a girl and all!”
She slumped and huffed mightily. “I should have known. Buffy gets a happy, the world ends. Again.”


Faith sat down next to her and laughed a little sadly. “We just don’t have the best luck do we?”


Buffy shook her head and took Faith’s hand. “Nope.”


Jules looked out the window at the sophomore Slayers walking through the courtyard below. It was break-time between classes and a fair few were walking hand in hand. She pointed out the window at the passing girls.
“The Powers That Be must be panicking, because all that needs to happen is for a pair of them to decide on kids and go find a spell for it. We all must be right in their crosshairs. And that’s without even taking Buffy and Faith into account.”


“No,” Anya said. “As far as prophesy and fate are concerned, only Buffy and Faith are ‘true’ Slayers. Buffy is the oldest Slayer and part of the original Slayer lineage, as is Faith. Those girls out there would not considered to be part of this prophesy.”
“Given that James was given orders about the Slayer line, that leaves them out of it. Also none of them fit the fallen-and-dead part.”


“So this is the real reason they put a hit on me then? To stop me and B having kids? Somebody get me back up there, I got a powerful urge to hurt someone.”


“Yes. They wanted the ‘Slayer legacy’ far away from Buffy,” Anya said. “With you gone, even if we managed to find and recruit the newest traditional Slayer, there would be no chance of Buffy making babies with her.”


“So how did Buffy get Faith pregnant?” Xander said curiously. “I mean, I didn’t pay a lot of attention in school, but health class was pretty specific about the boy-girl part.”


“And are we going to have an outbreak of pregnant lesbians?” Jules asked. “Because in this place, that could be a real problem.”


Buffy blushed and said “Dawn.”


Xander looked at Dawn. “Uh, what?”


Dawn blushed, and suddenly discovered her feet to be the most fascinating things in the entire world.


Buffy explained. “Her blood, my blood, Summers blood, remember? I think I tapped into her power, and her desire for family. I mean you know what she’s like for setting people up, she wants all her family happily married and with kids.”


Faith chuckled. “Yeah. It shows.”
She looked down at her flat belly. “Or it will soon.”
Filled with nervous energy, she got up and paced. “So let me get this straight, the birth of the child of two Slayers is the dinner bell for the beginning of a new age, right?”

Giles nodded.

“What’s in this ‘new age’ thing then?”


Giles ran his hand through his hair. “I… don’t know.”


Anya shrugged. “No one does. It will upset the applecart though.”
All eyes turned to Anya.
“The Powers That Be are in charge right now. Any major change is going to be a threat to their power base. They are going to do everything they can to stop that child being born,” she said pointing at Faith’s tummy.


Faith clutched her belly protectively and responded in a voice none of the Scoobies had ever heard from her, a voice of vulnerability. “They’re going to kill my baby?” she said, tears glittering in her eyes.


Something broke inside Buffy at seeing Faith so vulnerable. Rage exploded within her, rage at a universe that would do this to them, to Faith.

“No! No! No! A world of NO!” Buffy shouted, pounding the heavy oak table.

Her body almost vibrated with barely restrained fury.
“Never! Do you hear me? Never!” she raged.

“I will burn heaven to the ground before I let anything happen to our baby!” She ground out in a tone of hammered iron. “You hear me Faith? Our baby is going to be born, if I have to kill every living thing that walks on the face of the earth to do it.”


Xander put his hand on Buffy’s iron-hard shoulder. “And I’ll help you.”


She put her hand to her shoulder and squeezed Xander’s larger hand appreciatively, relaxing a little at his unwavering support.


Willow looked at Tara, sharing a look, Tara nodded. “We all will,” she said.


Fire burned in Faith’s eyes, amid the tears. “You an’ me B, against the world.”


“Always.”


“Heaven is fucked. I swear they are gonna burn for this.”


“You know I really figured me and Tara would be the first all-girl couple having kids around here,” Willow grumbled, breaking the tension and pouting slightly.


“Sorry Red. You know me, always jumping the gun. And Buffy,” she grinned.


Buffy blushed.


Willow and Tara exchanged worried looks. “Uh, guys?” Willow said.


“More bad news?” Xander asked.


“Sort of,” Willow said. “Um, we weren’t planning anything right away…” Willow trailed off awkwardly.


Tara stepped closer and took her hand. “But we had talked a little about starting a family, one day.”


“Yikes!” Xander said. “It’s baby fever all over!”


Willow shot him an annoyed look.
“That wasn’t what I was trying to say. What I was trying to say was that the prophesy could apply to Tara and me. If we decide to have a baby one day, are they going to come after us?”


“Or even Anya,” Dawn said. “I mean you were a demon, sort of. That’s pretty fallen. And you did die.”


“Yeah,” Heather said. “You could be both, by yourself.”


Anya waved her hand and shook her head. “No. That’s one worry I don’t have. That’s a mortal thing. I’m post mortal. I can do many interesting things, but giving birth is not one of them. Think of it as menopause, without the hot flashes.”

Despite her cavalier tone, her face betrayed a hint of wistfulness.
Xander looked at her, sadness in his eyes.


“Can we talk to them?” Dawn asked. “The Powers That Be?”


“No,” Bomber said, reminding everyone of his presence.
“For something of this magnitude, there’s no way they’d negotiate, and no wiggle room.”

“Unfortunately, the whole situation is rather black and white, I’m afraid.”
He sighed and rubbed his face tiredly, clearly wishing he had better news.
“Sadly it’s the birth of the child that signals the end for the world. Whether she’s born in the usual way, c-section or even teleported out of Faith, she’s still going to be born.”


“Which means that any negotiations are going to involve the Powers demanding that the child not be born,” Giles said.
He looked over at Buffy and Faith, standing defensively together. “I can’t imagine that is an option that any of us here would tolerate.”


“Fuck no,” Faith said angrily.


Buffy looked like she was going to cry. “This is so screwed up! How does a baby end the world? She just a baby? She’s not even born yet!”


Giles looked at her with infinite compassion. “I don’t think your child will end the world. I don’t think that is what the prophesy is saying.”


“Seemed pretty clear to me watcher-man,” Faith growled.


“No.”
Giles shook his head. “The child of the fallen and the dead is one of the signs, not the likely cause. Something is going to end the world, the prophesy simply describes the timing.”


“Uh, this may sound dumb, but if it ain’t the kid, why are the Powers That Be so hot to stop her being born?” Jules asked.


“Because the prophesy describes the time when it happens. If it never comes to pass, it’s obviously not the right time,” Dawn said.


“Just so,” Giles said with a nod to his protégé.


The Scoobies sat in tense silence.


“So what do we do?” Willow said worriedly.


“If the birth of Buffy and Faith’s child truly signals the end of the world…” Giles said, unable to finish.


Buffy stared at Giles coldly. “Go on. Say it,” she hissed.


Giles nodded, defeated. “If their child heralds the end of the world, then I for one think it’s time for the world to end.”


Buffy’s expression changed to one of shock.


“I’ve done many reprehensible things over the years, always for the greater good.”
He looked up, proud, almost defiant. “But if the greater good requires the death of an unborn child, one unspeakably special and precious, then the greater good can go hang. I for one will have no part in it.”


“Well said old boy,” Bomber said approvingly.


Buffy flung herself at the older man, hugging him with quiet desperation.

Ethan gave him a measuring look.


“I’ve gone to war for queen and country,” Bomber said. “I’ve gone to war for reasons far less clear. I can think of no finer purpose than to go to war for one’s family.”
He clapped his friend on the shoulder. “I’m with you all the way old bean, come what may.”


Giles nodded gratefully.


Ethan shrugged. “I wasn’t doing anything more important. Besides, it’s been highly entertaining so far. Count me in.”


Buffy gave Giles a look, clearly asking if Ethan could be trusted. Giles just shrugged.


“What about you Emmy?” he asked his sister.


For once she didn’t grumble about using her old name. “I’ve reached my limit. There’s no way in hell I’m going to be party to the death of an unborn child. I stand with you. My whole order stands with you. My Goddess stands with you.”


“I’m glad we’re all on the same page here,” Xander said. “You have no idea how glad. But we still need to know what to do.”


“We have two choices as I see it,” Bomber said, taking over the post of master strategist. “We can hold off whatever attacks and plots they throw at us until the child is born, or we can remove our enemy’s ability to attack us.”


“So we gotta blow up heaven, or hold them off for seven months?” Faith asked.


“Less than seven months,” the Buffybot said cheerily.


Faith blinked in surprise, clearly having forgotten that the Buffybot was even present. She could be very quiet when she wanted to be. “Uh, how you figure that BB?”


“The physiological changes you have undergone show you to be at least two months pregnant. But you have not been intimate with Buffy for that long. Logic suggests that one possibility is that the pregnancy is occurring at an accelerated rate. Due to either the manner of conception, or the status of the parents.”


“Is anyone a little freaked out to see Buffy talking like Doctor Spock?” Xander stage-whispered.


“Mister Spock,” Willow said absently. “Doctor Spock is the baby doctor.”
She frowned. “Which is kinda appropriate, now that I think of it.”


“And she’s not Buffy,” Buffy said, a little testy. “She’s Anne, remember?”


Xander shrugged. “Yeah, but she looks like you.”


“That is alright Xander,” Buffybot said. “Buffy 1.0 objects to me being called Buffy, but I still answer to that name.”


Buffy glared at the perky bot. “Hey, I thought you were going to stop calling me that?” she complained.


Buffybot just smiled brightly.


“I’m so tired of people using me to make other people,” Buffy grumbled. “Without even asking. It’s happened like, three times so far.”


“Can’t fault the quality of the raw material though,” Faith said with a smirk.


“Just be glad I updated her speech protocols,” Willow put in. “Otherwise she’d still be calling Giles ‘guyles’.”


“Children, focus please,” Giles said dryly.


“Relax G-man. We haven’t lost the plot. Two choices: dig in for a siege, or blow them the fuck up, yeah?”


“Quite.”


“I have questions,” Xander said. “Can we wait out the Powers That Be?”

He thought for a moment, everyone giving him a little space to do so.

“I’m not trying to be scary or anything, but if these guys get frustrated, couldn’t they just drop a big rock on us? Like, deep impact or whatever?”


“Yes and no,” Bomber said.


“Well that narrows it down,” Xander grumbled.


“If you’ll give me a minute, I’ll explain.”


“Sorry.”


“Yes, they could drop a rock on the school and kill us all. That would be well within their powers. But they won’t.”


“How do you know that?” Xander asked.


“How do I know you won’t kill Willow?” Bomber asked mildly.


“What?!”


“Like that. You could, but that’s not who you are. So it’s not really feasible.”


“No killing Willow please,” Tara added.


“Seconded,” Xander put in.


“From what Rupert tells me, the Powers That Be fancy themselves on the side of the angels. And evidently, they have plans for you all beyond today. All of which would go to pot, if the lot of you were squashed under a rock. I also imagine they’re trying to think of a way to get you back on side after the smoke clears.”


“They’ve got shit-show of that,” Faith growled.


“You drown Buffy,” Dawn said quietly.


“What the fuck?!”


Dawn nodded solemnly. “They have all sorts of crappy things planned for you guys. It’s really hard to puzzle this stuff out, but it’s pretty clear they have you guys still hating each other years from now.”


“And they call themselves the good guys?” Buffy said, disbelief writ large on her face.


“Fuck. Next time we go up there, I’m taking a nuke,” Faith said.


“What about us?” Xander said, pointing to his chest, and Anya.


Dawn shook her head. “Anya and Tara are not in the picture. At all.”


“Uh, am I supposed to date anyone nice?” he asked.


“Is there anyone I need to keep a lookout for?” Anya said sharply, before anyone could answer.


Dawn cleared her throat and looked incredibly uncomfortable. “Uh, me,” she said in a small, squeaky voice.


Xander looked stunned. “Wha…?”


Dawn threw up her hands. “I don’t know everything Xander, I just skimmed it looking for bits mentioning the Key. The thing about Buffy sort of popped out at me.”


Dawn grinned at Xander. “I love you and all, Xander. But no offense, dating you would be like dating my brother. Ick on so many levels.”


Xander just nodded. “Not really having an argument with that.”


Dawn took a deep steadying breath. “Besides, I’m already dating someone. So it really just wouldn’t work out,” she said with a shy smile.


His face lit up. “Really? Who’s the lucky guy, and is he good enough for you?”
He put on a stern expression, made all the more intimidating by his ferocious eye-patch. “I take my big-brotherly duties seriously you know.”


“When did you find time to date anyone?” Buffy asked. “I thought you didn’t like purple-eyeshadow-boy?”


“He’s fine, if a little weird. But no, I’m not dating him.”
She glanced to Heather sat next to her. She gave a shy, encouraging smile.

“It turns out the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. I like girls. Or girl, singular.”

Heather shyly interlinked her fingers with Dawn as Buffy rapidly turned red.


“We’re dating,” Heather said simply.


“What?!” Buffy said, practically shouting.


“Spedoinkle,” Xander said. “Did they put something in the water?”


“No,” Dawn said. “I just like girls.”


“Is this my fault?” Buffy asked, looking terribly self-conscious.


“God, self-centred much?” Dawn scoffed. “Saying that is both selfish and insulting.”


“Hey!” Buffy protested.


“Chill B. Girl’s got a point. It’s about her, not you.”


“Gayness just seems to run in the family, that’s all,” Dawn said.
She looked at her girlfriend with a smile. “We’re not together because we’re gay. We’re gay because we’re together.”


“But-” Buffy sputtered.


Dawn held up her hand. “I can almost guarantee that whatever you were about to say was dumb, and would piss me off. Don’t.”


Buffy glared, swapping out shocked-and-upset, for annoyed, which was something Dawn was much more familiar with.


“It’s got not much to do with you, and you get zero control over the choices I make. You can either be happy for me, or make me angry. Let me know which way you want it to go, because we have a busy day.”


“Quite right,” Giles said. “Perhaps we can table that particular subject until later?”


Buffy looked exasperated at Giles. Giles for his part looked back calmly, but not unkindly.


“Is it always like this?” Bomber asked mildly.


“Yes,” Giles replied.


“Well, if we could return to the subject at hand, I believe we were talking about a siege?”


“That’s one possibility,” Giles said. “All we really have to do, is stay alive until the child is born.”


“Daughter,” Buffy said. “She’s a girl.”

She took Faith’s hand with a shy smile, Faith responded with a similar smile.


Giles smiled fondly. “Congratulations. I’m sure she’d be a handful.”


“Oh yeah,” Faith said.


“We must discuss the feasibility of our options,” Bomber interjected. “Anya, is there any chance we could hide from the Powers That Be?”


“Not really. They can pretty much see everywhere. About the best you can do is sit on a Hellmouth. It’s a real chore to wade through the metaphysical muck they leak.”


“We do have a couple of advantages though,” she added brightly. “They can’t track Tara, or Faith. Both of them are supposed to be dead, so they are no longer part of fate.”


“What about you Ahn?” Xander asked.


She shook her head. “No. When I stepped up to become a Whitelighter, it put me back in official play. They can find me, same as anyone.”


“Can we block them with a spell?” Willow asked.


“I don’t think so. They don’t use magic to keep track of people. They read and manipulate fate. It’s like they know you inside and out.”

She grinned cheerfully at Faith and Tara. “Luckily, they cannot account for the changes these two make, so the more they influence your lives, the less the Powers will be able to figure out what we’re up to.”


“Neat!” Willow said. “I like being influenced by Tara.”


Buffy rolled her eyes, though she was smiling.


“Which brings us to the other option,” Bomber said. “We attack them.”


“Fuckin’ A,” Faith said. “This plan I like.”


“It won’t be as easy as it was this time,” Giles said. “They’ll be on their guard.”


“They know we can reach them now,” Brie added.


“Can we send ‘em up a nuke? Like in that sci-fi movie?” Faith asked.


“No,” Brie said. “It’s a different plane of existence, with different rules. Things like particle physics and fission work differently.”


“It’s one of the reasons so many demons and magical practitioners carry swords and crossbows,” Giles explained. “Steel is always sharp, springs always spring.”


“Bugger,” Bomber said. “Because I could have gotten hold of a good sized nuclear weapon in about 48 hours.”

That got some raised eyebrows.


“Really?” Xander said, stunned.


Bomber nodded. “I would have had some explaining to do afterwards, but getting the bomb would be easy enough.”


“Okaaay. Note to self, don’t piss off the man with the nuclear weapons,” Xander said.


“Because nuclear weapons are the perfect petty revenge tool,” Giles said dryly. “If we could all continue to focus for just a little longer, I would be most grateful.”

Bomber made a rude face at the back of Giles’ head, which cause Willow to giggle uncontrollably.

Giles sighed. “He’s making faces again, isn’t he?”

Willow managed to nod between giggles.

Giles shook his head in disbelief. “Some things never change.”


After the chuckles and amused looks died down, Giles continued.
“If we are to go on the offensive, it must be to achieve something useful. In this case to prevent the Powers That Be from completing their plans.”


“Normally at this point we’d be looking at crippling supply lines and wrecking their economy,” Bomber said. “None of which they have.”


“Is there anything we can blow up, that will mess up their ability to do stuff?” Xander asked.


Anya’s brow furrowed as she thought furiously. “No. Things up there aren’t really real. They’re more… representations of things. With a few rare exceptions like the Well of Souls.”


“Even if you could somehow blow up, oh say, the library for example, you wouldn’t destroy the knowledge. It’s just a representation.”

The assembled Scoobies, and honorary Scoobies, pondered their fate in silence.


“Can we kill the Powers That Be?” Buffy asked quietly.


“What?!” Mistress Brie shouted in disbelief. “You can’t be serious!”


Buffy looked at her levelly. “Like a heart attack. These guys are coming after my fiancé, and my baby. I want them dead.”


Ethan let out a low whistle. “And I was wondering what we were going to do for an encore.”


“Normally, it would be unthinkable,” Giles said. “However, these are not normal times.”


“We’d need an army,” Bomber said.


Buffy pulled back the curtain shading the room from the bright sunlight. Hundreds of Slayers could be seen training in the bright sunlight. “What’s next?”


“Can they even be killed?” Xander asked. “I mean, everything I’ve ever heard about these guys has been of the ‘don’t mess with them’ variety.”


“We dealt with the First Evil,” Buffy said. “We can deal with these guys.”


“You are the Godslayer, B.”


“Flatterer,” Buffy said with a tiny smirk.


“Let’s not forget, these are the beings that made the universe,” Giles cautioned.


“No they didn’t. They just run it,” a flat, oddly toned voice stated.

All eyes turned to Dawn.
She looked surprised. “Uh, don’t ask how I know that, it’s just something that I know.”


“Interesting,” Giles said. “I’m wondering if you are starting to access the knowledge of the Key.”


Dawn looked thoughtful. “I’m not sure if I’m freaked out about that or not.”


“You ok?” Heather asked.


She thought for a minute. “A little bit freaked. But hey, it’s all part of the crazy.”


Heather grinned. “You’re still hoping you get the ability to fly, aren’t you?”


“Well yeah. Plus hey, Willow and Tara get to have plenty of fun up there.”


Faith turned and grinned horribly at Tara. “I knew it. Someone’s been getting busy, up above the clouds.”


“Oh for the days when ‘safe sex’ didn’t mean ‘doing it on the ground,’” Giles muttered under his breath.


Willow just looked surprised.


“You were telling us that the Powers That Be didn’t create the universe?” Bomber interjected, trying to get the conversation back on track.


“Uh yeah. Not sure how I know it, but they’re administrators, not creators,” Dawn said.


“They are still extremely powerful,” Anya said. “They may not have created the universe, but they still have more power than the gods.”


“But gods can be killed, right?” Dawn said. “I mean Glory died, and there’s all those myths about gods killing each other.”


“Gods in myth are typically killed by other gods, or at least demi-gods,” Giles said.


“Cool,” Buffy said. “No one has ever called me a demi-god before.”


“I dunno,” Xander said. “When I met you Buff, I turned to Willow and said ‘she’s a demi-god, that one.’”


Willow nodded in agreement. “And then it rained pudding.”
She turned to Tara. “Actually, he drooled quite a bit. And nearly knocked himself out. It was something to see.”


Tara chuckled.


“Anya, have you ever heard of one of the Powers That Be, dying?” Giles asked.


“No,” she said. “Some of the lesser types have come to a sticky end, like Whitelighters and such. But I’ve never heard of any of the big guys dying off.”


“We have the Scythe now Giles. If we’d hit Glory with it, would it have killed her?” Buffy asked.


“I’m just not sure Buffy.”
He sighed. “However, the scythe is the single most powerful weapon we have ever encountered. And it was made by the Guardians, for the Slayer. If there’s anything that could do it, it would be the Scythe.”
He met her eyes with a meaningful look. “But I’m not sure even that weapon could kill one of the Powers That Be.”


“Look in the book,” Faith said. “If this is their secret diary, maybe there’s a how-to guide in there, on how to kill these fucks.”


“Or maybe I’ll remember something,” Dawn said. “But yeah, I can keep reading until I find something.”


“I'm all for takin’ the fight to the enemy, but there’s no point, if we can’t kill them,” Faith said.


“Back to the book then,” Dawn said. She looked down at the big book and started reading.


“Could we do something to distract them?” Willow asked. “Like so we could run away and hide?”


“What if we blow up their radar?” Xander said. “Can we blow up or break the thing they use to look at stuff?”


Giles pondered the questions for a moment, before turning to Brie.

“All the legends say that they use a pool to view things on earth,” she said.


“It’s true,” Anya added. “There’s a pool. It’s usually called the Moon Pool, but it has other names.”


“Right. Can we blow that up?” Xander asked. “Then maybe we could hide Buffy and Faith somewhere.”


Ethan shrugged. “If we can get up there again, I can jam their scrying pool for a time.”


“How long for?” Buffy asked sharply.


Ethan spread his hands. “Only a few days, I’m afraid.”


“Seems like a lot of effort to go to. A couple of days ain’t much,” Faith said.


“It would probably be worth it if we could jam it for a few months,” Xander said.


“I can jam just about anything,” Ethan said. “The trouble is that other people can undo any damage I do. Even if I make it difficult, they’ll be able to sort it out in a few days.”


“Fuck,” Faith said. She looked annoyed, and somewhat defeated.


“Guys, I have something!” Dawn said.


“That was fast,” Buffy said, surprised.


“Yeah, well I was reading… this book is a pain,” she complained.


“What does it say?” Faith said.


“According to this bit, the powers are protected. They cannot be hurt by any weapon forged by man.”


“Woohoo! Good news at last!” Xander said, waving his arms in the air.


“Missile launcher?” Buffy said, allowing herself a small smile.


Brie cleared her throat. “That would have the same problem as the nuke. Different plane, complex things like guns and explosives usually don’t work.”


“I got this,” Faith said, with a surge of confidence. “Hey G? Who made the Scythe?”


“A group known as the Guardians made it, according to Buffy.”


“A bunch of old ladies,” Buffy added.


“And Glinda, who made big-bad-Bridgit?”


Tara smiled a little as she saw where Faith was going with this. “Sondra forged it, a female smith.”


“You wanna have a look at that passage, maybe check to make sure it says what we hope it does?”


Tara read the passage that Dawn pointed out, very carefully. She nodded thoughtfully. “It looks like it does. I see the passage, and it matches what Dawn said.”


“So I figure we can kill ‘em with Axecalibre and my big-ass axe.”


Everyone went silent as they digested this news.


“Wicked,” Dawn breathed.


“I take this as hopeful news,” Giles said. “But I would like to be a touch more certain, before we launch an assault of some kind.”


“Uh, guys?” Buffy said, looking a little uncomfortable. “If our funky axes can kill the Powers, does that mean the guys we killed in the library are really dead? Like, extra dead?”


“Good point,” Giles said thoughtfully.


“Suddenly feeling a little less awesome, right about now,” Faith muttered.


“Don’t get so wound up, they’re fine,” Anya said into the silence.


“They are?” Buffy said, relieved.


“Uh-huh. They aren’t affected by the axes the same way as the powers might be. I checked. I also had a quick chat with Cordelia, and our fearless leader to confirm it.”


“How are things in the wake of our visit?” Giles asked quietly.


Anya grinned. “Complete pandemonium. And I’ve been to Pandemonium, so I know what I’m talking about.”


Ethan smiled triumphantly. “I told you this job was right in my bailiwick.”


“What does that even mean?” Xander grumbled.


“I believe the American equivalent is ‘wheelhouse,’” Giles said.
He turned to Anya. “Is there any way we can take advantage of this?”


Anya smiled brightly, always happy to be the one with the information. “Absolutely. There’s panicking and rioting up there. It’s going to take weeks for everything to calm down. And with that kind of emotional storm, they won’t be able to use the Moon Pool for anything. So for a couple of weeks at least, they will be too busy to do anything, and unable to spy on us.”


“Yay us! Holiday?” Buffy said.


“As much as I like the sound of that, there is far too much to do,” Giles said quickly, clearly hoping to head off any kind of slacking-off.”

“Poop,” Willow said quietly. “Uh, Giles? Are you sure we couldn’t take a day or two? There’s this thing Tara and I have been hoping to do.”

Giles raised a questioning eyebrow.


“Well… we were hoping to visit Tara’s old home, and grab a few of her mom’s things.”


Giles looked as though he was about to object, but he stopped himself. “I think that is a fine idea. We may not have long, but I think we can spare a day or so.”


Willow brightened. “Neat! An-and with our handy-dandy new teleport spell, we can be there and back super-fast!”


“Go Wills,” Buffy said with a grin.


“And, while the more studious among us go over the newly acquired library, I suggest that the… more active among us, take the rest of the day off,” Giles said, looking not unkindly towards Buffy and Faith.


“Aww Giles, you're so sweet!” Buffy said. “You just want us out of your hair, so you can play with your dusty new toys.”


Giles quirked a small smile. “Quite.”


“We can do that,” Faith said. “But we’re taking Snow-White and Red with us.”


Before Giles could protest, Buffy jumped in. “Yeah, they’ve been working super hard, teleporting us around the world, translating, flying and getting shot at. They need a little down-time too.”


“Wow. Free time. Whatever will we do?” Willow said.


“Well, I was thinking Put-Put. Just us girls kicking back. There could be icecream,” Buffy said.


“Or you could go hang a sock on your door,” Faith said, smirking.


“Or we could do Put-Put, then we could have socks,” Tara said innocently.


Buffy blinked. “That was terrible.”


Faith chuckled. “Let’s book, before G-man changes his mind.”


+++

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


My Story: Coming Home


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 3:27 pm 
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness... Big yay for figuring out that Faith & Buffy are going to have a daughter... I guess the 4th Age is when children of Lilith take their rightful place and PTB's go bye-bye... Extra big yay for figuring out that weapons forged by females can hurt/kill PTBs...

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 2:09 am 
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The girls have some fun :)
There is icecream :P


Tiny hammers and bright green balls


“Goddamn, Fuck! Shit! Argh!” Faith shouted, almost hopping up and down in frustration.

Buffy and Willow looked mortified.

Tara smiled, and unsuccessfully tried to stifle a series of giggles.


“I can literally nail a god-damn fly to a god-damn wall, with a thrown dagger at thirty paces. By its god-damn wings!”


So far, Put-Put had been a rousing success. At least in terms of entertainment. For people not named Faith anyway.


Slayers were gifted with many things, things which let them fight and survive in the darkness. Superhuman strength and reflexes, the ability to see in the dark, and an inherited memory for combat skills and weaponry. This last was what gave them their ability to learn new combat techniques with impossible ease.

Sadly it seemed none of the previous generations of women warriors had ever learned to play mini-golf.
Thus the profuse swearing, lost balls and bent clubs.


So far the bright green balls had landed in the pond (on the other side of the park), gone through the stomach of a plastic pirate figure, punched through the wooden wall of a shed, and (after bouncing off a kerb and hitting Faith in the head with a resounding thwack) Willow was certain that one of the day-glow green balls was currently exiting the solar system.

She had no idea anything could be hit that hard.
It had broken the sound barrier.


And Buffy’s advice “Just think of it like a tiny hammer,” had not helped.
Faith could hit the ball without issue. What she couldn’t do was aim it. Or not break things.


Buffy just patted Faith on the shoulder. “Guess those Slayer skills don’t translate to Put-Put.”
Faith sulked mightily, but said nothing.


“I’m just gonna go with ‘pregnancy hormones.’ It’s your get out of jail free card,” Buffy said to a sulking Faith.


Faith eyed Buffy suspiciously. “How come you’re so freaking good at this?”


“I learned mini golf before I was called,” Buffy said cheerfully.


“Well I learned how to drive so… nyer!” Faith said, poking out her tongue.


“Oh my god. All this time I’ve been worried about you rubbing off on Dawn.”
She hid her face in her hands. “My sister has corrupted my fiancé.”


“Man, I could really use a peanut butter icecream,” Faith grumbled.


“Again? You had two already!”


“Yeah, well, a girl gets cravings. Least I don’t eat cheese flavoured icecream.”


“It’s not cheese flavoured! It’s French vanilla!”


“Tastes like cheese to me B.”


Willow and Tara fell back a little, to talk mind-to-mind.
‘Baby, do you think they’ll be ok?’

Tara looked over at the two squabbling Slayers, currently poking each other and giggling like idiots.

Tara smiled. Buffy had found more than a lover in Faith. She had found a friend, and one who really got what it was like to have been the ‘one girl in all the world.’

But, more than that, she had found a playmate. Someone she didn’t have to be careful around, someone who could take everything she had to give. Someone she could just be a girl with.

She put her arm around Willow. Willow let her head fall back into the embrace with a sigh.

‘Sweetie, I think they’ll be more than ok,’ Tara said silently.


They watched the two women for a moment. Eventually they stopped shoving and poking each other, and Buffy threw her arms around Faith.
The adoring look on her face was heart-warming.
A young man nearby said something, and Faith’s eyes narrowed dangerously.

‘Uh-oh’ Tara sent, ‘we should get over there.’
By the time they got close enough to hear, Faith was waving her fist in the guy’s face while Buffy tried to restrain her.


“See? The sparkly rock means ‘fuck-off, taken!’ so fuck off!”


“Geez sorry. I didn’t know, ok?”


“Fa-aith,” Buffy whined.


“Dude, you just hit on my girl in front of me! While she was cuddling me, you douche!”


“Hey, I thought you were just friends!”


“Special lezbi-friends maybe,” Faith growled.


“Look, I said I’m sorry, ok? Just a mistake.”


“Faith really, it’s no big deal,” Buffy protested.


“I know,” Faith said, glaring at the retreating back of the would-be romeo.


She sighed. “I’m sorry B. I just get so… I dunno, freaked I guess.”


Buffy smiled tenderly, with a hint of sadness. “You’re still worried someone is going to take me from you, aren’t you?”

Faith looked at her feet, and nodded sadly.

Buffy lifted her chin and kissed her softly.


“I can’t be taken Faith. No-one can. I’d have to want to go, and I don’t ever want to. So if you can’t trust other people, trust me.”


Faith smiled a little dopily. “Yeah B, I trust ya. It’s just an instinct thing, y’know? Like, I gotta mark my territory.”


Buffy smiled a half smile. “Well a little possessiveness is nice, but no peeing on me ok?”


Faith smirked. “No peeing, check.”


“I think that deserves a reward,” Buffy said, and towed Faith off to the icecream stand.


Minutes later, all four were absorbed in eating their icecreams.

“So, uh, now what do we talk about?” Faith said.


“Anything you like,” Willow said.


“Anything?” Faith said, eyebrows raised.


“Sure. We’re all friends here. We’ve even been through the end of the world. More than once.”


“Hell, some of us have been the end of the world,” Faith added.


“True. So, ask away,” Willow said, licking her icecream carefully.


“I don’t think any of us will be offended at anything you ask, Faith. Though if it’s embarrassing, I reserve the right to not answer,” Tara said.


Faith nodded. “Cool. Uh, ok, lemme think.”
She thought for a moment.
“Ok, how about this. Who was everybody’s first crush?”


“Um,” Willow said. “You mean like, first-ever crush? Or like first real crush?”


“Whatever you wanna tell us about I guess.”


“Um, sure. That should be easy enough, everybody knows all my stuff anyway.”
She licked her alarming green icecream for a moment.

“Ok, so my first ever crush was Xander. He’s been my hero almost my whole life. He was also my first serious crush, given that I ended up making out with him a few times. Oh! And my first real girl crush was Tara,” she added, taking Tara’s free hand.

Tara pressed a slightly sticky kiss to her knuckles.


“First real girl crush? Did you have a little bitty crush on someone?” Faith asked, teasing just a little.

Willow blushed slightly and nodded.

“I bet you were all hot for teacher huh?”


“Oh wow,” Willow said, looking as though she’d just figured something out. “I was. I really really was.”


“Really?” Buffy said. “C’mon Wills, dish. Who was the yummy teacher in your past?”


Willow grinned a little embarrassedly. “Um, Miss Calender.”


“Ooo… yep,” Buffy said. “She was nice.”


“Yeah,” Faith added. “Giles got lucky there.”


At the puzzled looks, Faith just pointed at the sky.
Comprehension dawned.


Faith licked her rum and raisin icecream. “C’mon Red, got any other naughty crushes?”


Willow blushed furiously. “Ah, oh, ee,” she stammered.


“Ooo, vowel sounds. It must be really embarrassing,” Buffy said. “Even worse than admitting a crush on Giles?”


“Buffy, if she doesn’t want to say, you should respect her wishes,” Tara admonished.


Buffy sighed. “You’re right. Sorry Will.”


“Uh, no, it’s ok. It’s just horribly mortifying in every way.”

She looked around nervously. “We’re all friends right?”


A chorus of ‘sure’ and ‘always’ went around.


“Um ok. Well I guess I’ve had a crush on Buffy for a while,” she said, looking down at her feet.


“Really?” Buffy squeaked. “Why?”


“What do you mean, why?” Willow said, as if it was obvious.

“You’re my hero Buffy. You have been for the longest time. You always, always look after us. A girl can only be rescued from certain death so many times before it turns her head.”

She paused to catch a dribble of green. “And you’re very pretty.”


“Really?” Buffy said.

Willow was still blushing furiously, but she nodded.

Buffy blushed a little herself. “Um, thanks I guess.”


Willow patted her hand reassuringly. “Don’t get wigged out Buff. It’s only a little crush.”


“Thanks Will.”



The four licked their ice-creams in silence for a while, letting the blushes fade.


“Y’know, there’s probably a joke here somewhere. Four lesbians sat around licking ice-cream and such,” Faith said, between licks.


“Shh!” Willow said, frantically waving her free hand. “If you keep talking like that, Anya will pop in out of nowhere.”


Faith shrugged. “Anya’s cool. Plus it’s nice that Xan-man is getting some. If the spacey look he has half the time is anything to go on, he’s getting some serious action.”

She licked her rum and raisin ice-cream thoughtfully. “And Anya is hella kinky.”


“No kink please,” Willow said. “It’s embarrassing enough talking about our crushes, without talking about our kinks too.”


Faith grinned evilly. “So you admit there’s kink?”


Willow shrugged. “One woman’s kink, is another woman’s foreplay.”


The four absorbed this information in silence, broken only by the quiet sounds of ice-cream licking.


“I suppose I should go next huh?” Faith said.


“Ooo yes!” Buffy said. “Tell us about your high-school crushes.”


“Heh. I think by now, we all know my big high-school crush was you, B.” Faith nudged Buffy with her shoulder.


Buffy smiled a shy, flirty smile.


“But before Sunnydale? Hmm. Father McIlhenny. He was like a younger Giles, all tall and with these blue eyes and crazy hair, and man could he sing!”

The slightly dreamy expression on her face made the others smile.

“And ah, seeing as I bugged Red about her favourite girl-crush, I’m gonna admit to fancying sister Rose.”

She looked over at Willow with a grin. “I know you’d have liked her Red. Lemme paint you girls a picture, ‘cos you’ll never get it.’”

“Now sister Rose took the whole catholic ‘no vanity’ thing seriously. I think, because she was as hot as fuck. Anyways, she never wore skirts, or them old fashioned nuns habits. I think she thought that they were immoral or she hated the wind blowing up there or something. So she always wore black pants and a black top, or sometimes a black one piece. Never wore makeup either. She also said that bras were immoral, because they advertised the goods. Ya with me so far?”


Various slow nods greeted her question.

“Sounds pretty grim yeah?”

More nods.


“Now what you’ve got to understand is this girl was packed. I mean she had big fucking jugs and a tight ass. Plus she was young and a super-hot strawberry blonde. That starting to look a little different? Mid-twenties, tight black outfit, big tits with no bra, fucking nipples you could always see, and jugs that always swung free. And oh man, that ass!”

The girls were blushing furiously and fanning themselves.

“Yeah, that right there was when I twigged that I weren’t all the way straight. But it gets better.”


“Better?” Willow squeaked.


“Oh yeah,” Faith said. “See she knew the effect she had on the boys, and she was dead strict. So the nuns used to send all the girls to her for punishment. Except she also believed the Christian thing, that any punishment should be delivered in love, and she was a bit of a softie.”


Faith took a break to get her brown ice-cream under control, before continuing.

“I figure she’s where my bad-streak started, because one day, I was late to class and she punished me. Well she thought she was punishing me. She knew my home life wasn’t the best, so she went kinda easy on me, but I was late to class for like the third time in a week, so she kept me after class. She told me how much she cared for me, and because she cared, I had to learn discipline, otherwise I’d get in trouble one day. Oh the irony, right?”


Willow could not restrain a small smile.


“So, after the others had gone home, she put me over her knee and spanked my ass but good. And after my butt had a nice glow, she gave me a big hug and told me she only did it because she loved me.”


Willow whimpered. Buffy and Tara had glassy stares.


“I just about creamed myself. It was the coolest, sexiest thing I had ever had happen in my whole life. You gotta understand I was like, fifteen and hormone crazy. So I started to act up. Just little stuff that wouldn’t piss her off too much, but would get me a good spanking. I always thanked her afterwards for helping me out, and made her feel ok about smacking my butt. But most weekdays, I finished my schoolday bent over, staring at the curviest, sexiest ass I ever saw, getting spanked by a hot as fuck nun, who gave me a big cuddle afterwards, and a face-full of big braless tits.”


“Oh. My. God!” Buffy whispered.


“Fuckin A. That’s a god I could get behind. So to speak,” Faith said with a huge smirk.


“Frankly I’m amazed you ever had anything to do with boys, after growing up with that,” Willow said wonderingly.


Faith shrugged. “Guys are like junk food. Just grab and go. But yeah, I liked catholic school. Creamed my jeans every day after school on sister Rose’s sexy lap. Jesus, I wanted to fuck her so bad. I kinda cried afterwards and smooshed up against her tits a bit. I used to fantasize about her just sticking her hand up there or something.”

She smiled dreamily. “Some days I wore one of those schoolgirl pleated skirts so when she spanked me, she spanked my bare ass. I figure she had to know I was getting off on it, even though I was real quiet. She never did anything, y’know, bad? Like take advantage or whatever. But jesus she was the sexiest woman in my world, until I came to Sunnydale.”


She took Buffy’s hand and squeezed the shell-shocked woman. “Then I met B, and my definition of sexy changed forever.”


“Ten points to Griffindor,” Willow muttered, still getting her furious blushing under control and fanning herself.


“So, yeah. My first crushes.”


Faith licked her ice cream some more. “I shared. Someone else’s go.”


“Just, um, give me a minute to get the naughty images out of my mind,” Buffy said.


“Might take me a bit longer than a minute,” Willow muttered.


Tara nodded, still a little glassy-eyed.


“What about you B? anything you wanna share with the class?”


Buffy sighed. “Not really. It’s just the sad tale of Buffy’s love life up until now. I dated Pike, and he was eaten by vampires when I burned down the Hemery gym. I had a crush on Billy Fordham for a while, and he turned out to be all twisted and evil. I had a crush on Faith, and we know how that went.”

Tears formed in Buffy’s eyes.

“And that’s without even mentioning the disasters that were Angel, Parker and Spike. The only relationship that looks good is Riley. And that’s only because the others were so much worse. I still kinda made him dump me.”

Buffy sniffled sadly.

“I… sorta had a little crush on Tara… and-and…” she stopped, unable to continue.

She burst into tears and burrowed into Faith’s side.


“Shh, Bumblebee, it’s ok. I ain’t going anywhere, I swear,” Faith said, stroking Buffy’s hair as she sobbed into her shirt.


Tara knelt in front of Buffy and took her hands in hers, sending her silent support as she cried.
When Buffy’s tears died down a little, Tara smiled reassuringly, and got a watery smile in return.

“Sweetie, I didn’t die because you were attracted to me. I died because a horribly maladjusted little man had no sense of judgment or understanding.”


Buffy sniffled. “I know. But it’s hard to be all sensible about it, when it just keeps happening.”


Tara smiled sadly. “I know. Former demon, remember?”


Buffy nodded sadly. “I remember.”


She sniffled again. “Sorry I ruined our first fun-double-date thing.”


“Oh hey, now wait there missy!” Willow said. “There’s no ruin-age here ok? If you gotta cry, then you gotta cry. I know it’s been a few weeks Buff, but remember, it’s only been a few weeks! So much crazy stuff has happened, good and bad. It takes a while to get your feet under you, y’know?”


“Oh yeah,” Faith agreed.


“I’m still all leaky,” Buffy said sadly.


“Good,” Willow said. “Buffy, you’ve been on lockdown for years. Under the kinds of stress that were only seen in the ‘Nam.”

She smiled softly. “The fact that you are still sane is a testimony to your strength. And you just found love, started to come awake again, after years of locking it all away. And then some really stressful stuff happened.”


“Be leaky, Buffy,” Tara said with a fond smile and a squeeze. “To leak is to live.”


Buffy smiled, still kind of watery. “Thanks Tara, guys.”


Buffy took a moment to get her peanut-butter ice-cream under control. After insisting on another icecream, Faith had abruptly gone off peanut-butter and given her puppy-dog eyes until she swapped. So much for trying something daring, like rum and raisin.
Silence persisted for a moment, broken only by the small sounds of determined icecream consumption.


Eventually, after whittling down her icecream substantially, Faith pointed something out.

“You know blondie, you haven’t told us about your first crush yet.”


Tara looked a little embarrassed. “Darn. I was hoping no-one would notice.”


“Come one Tara,” Buffy said. “We’ve had crying and super-hot nuns already. It can’t be that bad can it?”


Tara shook her head. “No, just… well, you know how I am about talking about myself.”


“S’cool. If you don’t wanna, you don’t have to,” Faith said magnanimously.


Tara thought for a moment. “No, it’s ok. I don’t mind. I guess after so many years, it’s kind of instinctive to not talk about my home life.”


“I can relate,” Faith replied.


Tara licked her walnut-whip icecream into temporary submission.
“Well, my first crush and my first girl crush were the same person. I guess I worked out I like girls before I worked out what I wanted to do with them.”

Willow laughed, attracting a half-hearted swat from a smiling Tara.

“April was her name, and she was my best friend in the whole world. She was the sun and the moon to me. And a good two thirds of the stars too, now that I stop to think of it.”


“Ooo Will, a little competition there I think,” Buffy teased.

Tara shook her head and smiled.

She nudged Willow with her shoulder. “We were friends from the time we were kids in short pants, not unlike Willow and Xander.”

Willow smiled goofily at the mental image of a miniature Tara, running around in short pants.

“Her family lived on the next farm from ours. We spent every waking moment together, and a good few sleeping ones too.”

She smiled dreamily as she remembered her friend. “She had big blue eyes, freckles, and curly orange hair. It shone like polished copper, streaked with gold. And she was always kinda tanned from running around outside.”

“You’d have liked her I think. My mom called her the Tiny Terror, because she wasn’t very big, but she was fearless. After Donny pushed me down one time, she beat him with a rake.”


Faith laughed heartily. “I like her already.”


“Donny never did anything when she was around. I think he was scared of her.”


Willow could sense sadness approaching in Tara’s story. “Baby, what happened?”


Tara sighed sadly. “Her daddy lost his job. He found a new one, a good one by all accounts, but out of state.”


“Oh Tara, I’m so sorry,” Willow said, sadness deepening her eyes.


“Jeez, that’s gotta suck. Losin’ your bestie, crush and protector all in one go.”


“Did you ever catch up with her?” Willow asked.


Tara shook her head. “We wrote for a while. I kind of poured my heart out to her in our letters. But we were only little kids. Eventually she just stopped one day. I wrote a few more letters, for a few more weeks, but eventually I stopped too. After that I just lost track of her.”


“Wow. That just… sucks,” Buffy said.


“That pretty well covers my feelings too,” Tara said.
“There was this one other crush, another cute red-head. I met her at a bake-sale disguised as a wiccan club. But I think you know about that one,” Tara said, a sneaky smile spreading across her face.


Faith cleared her throat. “Actually Snowy, I know fuck-all about you and Red back in the day.”


“Oh. Good point,” Tara said.

She took a momentary pause to lick her icecream. “What would you like to know?”


“Uh, y’know, the usual. How’d you meet, first kiss, that sorta thing,” Faith said.

Tara smiled dreamily. “Well our first kiss was sort of an accident.”

“Ya slipped and stuck your tongue in her mouth?” Faith said, giving Willow an incredulous look.


“Um, sort of?” Willow said.


Buffy was almost bursting at the seams, trying to keep quiet. Faith sensed the emotion coming off of her and gave her a weird look.
“Better tell me Snow-White, before the little blonde here blows a gasket.”


Tara looked around. “Somehow I feel lost without my journal. At least when it comes to telling stories.”


“Ooo! Ooo-ooo!” Willow said excitedly. “I have a journal! Of Tara things to share!”


Tara raised one eyebrow in question.
Willow looked self-conscious once all eyes were on her. “Remind me later, but I started writing a journal of stuff that happened. Things special and funny to tell you about when you got home.”


Tara reached out and stroked Willow’s cheek. “I’d really like to hear that some time.”


“Then you shall,” Willow said with a cheery nod.


“So, journal aside, you were telling Faith how you guys met?” Buffy prodded. “And there was kissage.”


Tara smiled sadly. “I had hoped that going to college, in another state even, would help me put my past behind me.”

She sighed. “It didn’t. I was just as shy and lonely as ever. The habits of many years were just too ingrained to get rid of. But when I saw a flyer for the wiccan club, I screwed up my courage and went.”

Gently she took Willow’s hand. “It was the best decision I ever made.”


Willow smiled adoringly. “I think so too,” she said.


They gazed contentedly at each other for a long moment before Tara continued. “I had only been to a few meetings, but it was obvious that despite the supposed aims, it was just like my old school. There was a pecking order, there were the cool kids, and they were happy to look down on the shy girl with the stutter.”

Willow squeezed her hand in silent support.

“And then one day, everything changed. One day a beautiful Red-head strode into the room like a queen of old. She took one look at the wiccan wannabe’s and held out her hand to me. She said ‘come with me, and I will show you wonders.’”


“You know, I remember that a little differently,” Willow said.


Tara smirked. “It’s my story, and I thought you were amazing.”

Willow wriggled happily.

“Ok. So, truthfully, I saw Willow and I thought ‘at last, a real witch.’ So when we all lost our voices, she was the first person I thought about.”


“So you weren’t crushing on her yet?” Faith said with a grin.


Tara shook her head, her shining silver hair swinging. “Uh-uh. No way did I think anyone as amazing and pretty as her, would ever be with me.”


“Oh hey! Objection or something!” Willow protested, frowning muchly.


Tara nuzzled Willow’s neck reassuringly. “You have to understand Willow, I was a different person back then. I thought you were so far above me that I didn’t even think about being attracted to you, sweetie. I was just amazed that you wanted to be my friend.”


“Well who wouldn’t? You were so amazing and kind. And so sweet. Was it any wonder I fell in love with you?”


Tara smiled softly. “We slowly got closer. I should thank you Faith. Hiding from you kept Willow in my room for more than a week. And I only had one bed,” she said cheekily.


“Go Blondie. Glad I could help,” Faith said ruefully. “So how did you two manage to have your fist kiss all accidental like?”


Tara smiled. “It was my fault entirely. I was feeling very close and snuggly one morning, after a night of snuggling with my new best friend. As Willow was leaving, I impulsively kissed her on the cheek. Or at least I tried. Willow sort of sensed me moving close, and turned to see what I was doing. I kissed her right on the lips.”


“Oh boy, that was a surprise,” Willow said.


Tara smiled shyly. “A very nice surprise though.”


“You can only imagine the babbling and stammering after that,” Willow said. “It was very impressive.”


“I bet,” Faith said with a grin.


“And then I said that I didn’t mind at all,” Willow said.


“You are the best kisser in the world baby, I swear. It was just a surprise kiss, but it was so soft, so right. It was right then that I realized I wanted you to do it again. Though it took me a while to admit that to myself.”


Buffy groaned. “I know the feeling. I swear Will, I was my own worst enemy about all of that stuff.”

She put on a squeaky voice. “I can’t like girls, I am a girl! That would make me gay, and that’s wrong!”

She sighed and slumped. “I’m such an stupid-head.”


Faith nodded. “Yeah.”

Buffy looked up sharply.

“But you’re my stupid-head,” Faith finished.


“Thanks. I guess,” Buffy grumped.


"Aww it's okay, Buff. I'll be stupid with you! We'll be stupid buddies," Willow said


"Thanks Will."


"No problem.”

Faith stroked Buffy’s hair lovingly. “Face it B. You’re gay. Or gay enough. Bisexual, whatever.”


“Is that so bad?” Willow asked with a soft smile.


Buffy shook her head. “No. Just, you know how I am. What with the preconceived notions and the resistance to change. I freak. Happens every time.”


They four sat in silence for a bit.

“So, Red, Blondie. How was your first time?” Faith asked, steering the conversation away from things that made her girl sad.


Tara smiled ruefully. “I think by now, thousands know about our first time. But for the benefit of those who haven’t read the story of Seren and Danni-”


“I have.”


“Yup.”


“Me too.”


“Ok then. That makes it easier,” Tara said.
She frowned. “Sort of.”


Buffy chuckled softly at Tara’s expression.


Tara cleared her throat. “Yes, there was an extra flamey candle. Yes, there were lots of nerves and a little embarrassment. But it was wonderful.”


Willow smiled adoringly.
“I’m so grateful that I got to share my first time with someone as wonderful as Willow.”


“Go Will!” Buffy said cheerily.


Willow smiled and blushed at the praise. “Well what about you two? How was your first time?”


“Well, my first guy was Angel,” Buffy said. “And it was nice, except for the whole going soulless and evil afterwards.”


“That’ll make a girl kinda gun-shy,” Willow said.


“Uh-huh. My first time with Faith was amazing.”


“It certainly sounded impressive,” Tara said innocently.


“And there was that whole ‘can’t sit down’ thing afterwards,” Willow put in.


“Mad skills,” Faith said with a shit-eating grin.


Buffy just focussed on her icecream while she waited for the red to fade from her cheeks.


The only thing heard for a while were the birds and the quiet sounds of icecream consumption.

“Ok, so wadda ya wanna do now?” Faith asked after a while.


“I think we should kidnap Xander from his watchery duties for a little while. Maybe catch a movie or something,” Willow said. “I feel kinda bad, because I promised him he could come on the next Scooby adventure, but it’s just a ‘me and Tara’ kind of thing.”


“Xander will understand sweetie,” Tara said reassuringly.


Willow bobbed her head. “Sure he will. I still feel bad about it though.”


“Good plan Will. We should stock up on snackage and find out what’s playing.”


“The second Lord of the Rings movie, aaand the second Harry Potter movie,” Willow said.


“It is the year for sequels,” Buffy said. “Anyone have a preference?”


Faith piped up. “They’re also re-screening Tomb Raider, if that’s more people’s speed?”


Willow made a strange sound, which attracted everyone’s attention.

Willow looked a little embarrassed. “Sorry, I’ve never been the same since I talked to Giles about Lara Croft.”


Buffy quirked a smile. “Giles is a fan?”


“Yeah. Worse than that, he knows the real Lara Croft.”



Silence reigned.

“Lara Croft is real?” Faith said.


“Yup,” Willow said. “I was kinda shocked myself. Her name’s not Lara Croft, it’s Lady Cecile Monteagle, but apparently, other than that, she’s a real-life tomb raider.”


“And Giles knows her?” Buffy said, shocked.


Willow nodded. “Apparently she’s a distant cousin of Giles’ that he used to babysit. He told her all about Slayers, vampires and stuff, when he was baby-sitting, and off she went to explore the world and kill monsters.”


“Nice one Red. Had me going there for a minute.”


Willow shook her head. “I’m not kidding. She sends him post cards and stuff from all over the place.”
At the disbelieving looks she said, “Ask him, if you don’t believe me.”


“Does she look like Angelina?” Faith asked.


“Not really. She has auburn hair and kinda hazel eyes. But yeah, she has a long ponytail.”


“Our is a strange world,” Buffy said.


“I dunno why you’re saying that Buffy. I mean, except for not being a British noble, Dawn pretty much IS Lara Croft.”


Buffy grinned. “Don’t tell her that, her ego’s big enough already.”


“Magical adventures to strange parts of the world? Check. Athletic? Check. Fights with guns? Check.”


“Well that could describe me. Or Faith,” Buffy said.


“Yeah, but you’re a Slayer. You get super powers.”


“I’ve played Tomb Raider,” Faith said. “That chick has to be a Slayer. No regular woman has that much upper body strength. And she can run all day, without getting tired.”


“Well, when we get back to the dustiness, we can ask Giles about her,” Buffy said.


Faith finished off her icecream, crunching the cone enthusiastically.
She looked thoughtful for a moment before saying, “Screw it.”

She got up for another icecream.
Buffy sighed good naturedly.


Willow giggled. “This pregnancy thing’s really kicked her sweet-tooth into overdrive.”


Buffy chuckled. “I’m not so sure. I think she figures she’s going to get fat anyway, so what the hell.”


“Uh, Buff?” Willow said hesitantly. “I’m kinda new to the whole ‘pregnant girlfriend’ thing, but I think it’s probably good to stay away from the ‘F’ word.”


“Fuck?” Faith said, flopping down on her chair, ice cream in hand. “Pretty sure you shouldn’t be doing it, if you can’t say it.”


“Eep!” Willow squeaked. “Sneaky Slayer, sneaking up on me. With the sneaky sneaking!”


Faith shrugged. “Settled on a movie yet?”


“Well the Harry Potter movies are pretty fun,” Buffy said. “But Tara hasn’t seen the second one, so it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to go to that one.”


“Same prob with Lord of the Rings,” Faith said, between licks of her coffee and walnut flavoured icecream.


“Actually, Lord of the Rings is re-showing the first movie, so we could catch her up!” Willow said.


“Sure. If ya don’t have anything else you’d wanna do. That’s six hours of movie, Red.”


“I don’t mind a movie marathon,” Tara said. “But there are other things I want to do today. How about the Harry Potter movie? I’ve read the books, so I know what happens. It would be nice to see it on the big screen.”


“If Buffy can stop yelling bad Latin all the time,” Willow muttered.


“Sure. If you can stop giggling every time someone starts waving their wand around,” Buffy retorted.


Willow grinned. “But they’re so funny! Magic just doesn’t work that way!”

Buffy just looked at her levelly.

“Ok, fine. No giggling and no yelling Latin.”


“Cool. So, Harry it is.”


“Yer a wizard Harry!” Willow growled in a fake Hagrid voice.

Tara giggled. Willow grinned.


Buffy rolled her eyes and laughed. “Now all we have to do is get the munchies, and kidnap Xander.”


“Sure! We have to go see the Lord of the Rings movie at some stage though. The first one was amazing!”


“Are we going to have time to get changed?” Willow asked.


“Are you going to do it for every movie?” Buffy asked with a grin.


“Sure! Why not?” Willow grinned back.


It?” Tara asked.


“Willow dresses up in a Hogwarts uniform for the movies,” Buffy explained.


Tara chuckled. “Why am I not surprized?”


“Hey, I could give Hermione Granger a run for her money.”


“I bet you could,” Tara said approvingly. “Though with that hair, we might have to change your name to Weasley.”


“Willow Weasley? Cool.”


“Ten points to Griffindor,” Tara said with a smirk.


“Actually, I thought I’d be a Ravenclaw,” Willow said. “They are the clever ones.”
“What about you?”


“Hufflepuff. They’re the steady ones,” Tara said. “Plus, I like the colours. Yellow and black.”


“Griffindor,” Faith said. “I wanna be in Griffindor.”


“You read Harry Potter?” Buffy asked.


“Doesn’t everyone?” Faith said.


“Huh. Ok.”


“Hey, red and gold. Good colours. Plus ass kicking.”


“So… costumes?” Buffy said.


Faith just grinned.


+++


“Hey Xander,” Willow said.


Xander looked up from his paperwork. “Hey Wills,” he said.
He took in her robes. “Doing witchy stuff?”


Willow grinned. “Kinda. Magic is definitely involved.”


“So what’s the what?”


“Random fun. We’re off to the new Harry Potter movie.”


Xander’s face fell. “Oh man, I wanted to go to that!”


Willow’s grin didn’t fade. “Yup. That’s why we’re kidnapping you.”


Xander grinned. “Cool. Lemme just finish this up and I’m all yours.”
He scribbled down a few notes, and slammed his journal shut with a sense of satisfaction. “Let’s go.”


+++


Tara looked up at the sound of giggling.


Xander came in to the lounge with Willow riding on his shoulders. They were both in full Hogwarts uniform. Willow waved her hands excitedly in the air. “Woohoo!”


Tara laughed to see their excitement. “Where did you get Xander a Hogwarts outfit so quickly?” she asked.


Xander grinned. “Giles.”


That got a surprised expression. “Giles is a fan too?”


Willow giggled. “Nope. But apparently English people dress like this when they’re not wearing tweed. Though it doesn’t explain why he has robes.”


“Griffindor!” Xander shouted.


Willow waved her arms around enthusiastically, ignoring the fact that she had a blue and gold tie, and blue trimmed robes.

Faith and Buffy made an appearance, with red and gold striped ties, and red trimming on their black robes.


“Griffindor!” Faith shouted, raising both fists in the air triumphantly.


“Aren’t we a bit old?” Buffy said.


“We could be seventh years. Or prefects,” Willow said.


“What house are you?” Buffy said, looking at Tara’s yellow trimmed robes, and black and yellow striped tie.


“Hufflepuff. They’re the steady, loyal ones,” Tara said.


“All we’re missing is Slytherin,” Faith said.


“Well, they’re poopy-heads. Who’d want to be in that house?”


“Point. Let’s go,” Faith said.


Willow held up a finger. “Hold up. We’re missing something.”

“Spectacles?” Tara said. She’d done her hair up in a bun, and put on a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles.


Willow just stared in shock, about a dozen fantasies about sexy school-marm’s flashing through her mind’s eye.
“Uh,” she said intelligently, her cheeks flushing somewhat.


“I thought I’d be a professor,” Tara said.


“Buh,” Willow said.


“Call me professor Giles,” Tara said with a prim smirk.


Buffy grinned madly at Willow’s complete and total brain failure.
“I think somebody has a thing for the teacher.”


“Uh-huh,” Willow managed.
Her mouth slowly curved up into a sly smile.


Tara folder her hands primly in front of her and gave Willow her best disapproving school-marm look.
Willow whimpered.


“Do you two want to be alone,” Faith said with a smirk.


“Movie first, socks later,” Tara said primly.
She reached into her robes and pulled out five wands, handing them out to everyone.


“Wingardium leviosa,” Buffy said, executing a perfect swish and flick, aimed at willow.

Sadly, Willow completely failed to rise.

“Poo,” Buffy huffed.


Willow grinned. “It’s wingardium leviosaaa,” she said, exaggerating the final syllable.
With a swish and flick of Willow’s wand, Buffy lifted gently off the ground.


“Hey!” Buffy protested. She kicked her legs, but could make no headway. “No fair!”


“Yer a witch, Willow,” Tara said in a growly voice.


“Har-de-har,” Buffy said dryly. “Put me down now please.”

Willow gently put her down.


“Dawn’s going to be so annoyed she missed this,” Buffy said.


“Pretty sure she ain’t,” Faith said. “She’s getting all snuggly. Way better than movies.”


Willow shook her head. “Nope. Her and Giles are digging away at their dusty books.”


“I said snuggly, not sweaty. You can snuggle and read at the same time.”


Buffy shuddered. “No images please. I get that she’s all grown up now, but I really don’t want to think about it. At all.”


“What are you going to teach?” Willow asked Tara, ignoring Buffy and all excited about having her very own sexy school-teacher.


Tara looked thoughtful. “Charms I think. Divination maybe?”


Willow nodded seriously. “Play to your strengths sweetie.”


“Because I charmed you?” Tara said with a smirk.


“Yup,” Willow said cheerily.


Buffy chuckled. “Come on you two, before the overload of adorableness gets to me.”


Willow smiled. “Ok Buffy. One last thing though, pass me your wand?”


Buffy handed over her wand, curious what Willow was up to.


“Pick a colour, Buff.”


“Pink?”


“Pink it is.”

Willow concentrated, and the tip of Buffy’s wand lit up with a spark of warm, radiant pink light.


“Cool!”


“Ok Xander, what colour do you want?”


“Well, I thought about red. Because, you know, Griffindor, but then I thought: evil. Very Darth Vader.”


“Red it is.”


“Yeah Xander, green is evil. Everyone knows that,” Faith said, nudging him with her elbow.


Willow handed him back a wand glowing a bright orange-red.
Tara concentrated on her wand, and lit it a cheery golden yellow.

Faith handed her wand to Tara, and got back one glowing an intense purple.

Willow concentrated on her own wand, turning it bright green.
“I’m not evil, I just like the colour!” she protested.


“Heh. All we need now is a blue one and we’ll have the full set.”


“This is not a pride parade,” Buffy said, waggling her glowy pink wand at Faith.


Faith held up her own wand, lit with a spark of deep purple. “You sure?”


“Uh, ladies? If we’re going to catch the movie, we should go,” Xander said.


“How do we turn them off?” Buffy asked as they left the room.


“You put it in your pocket,” Tara replied.


+++

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


My Story: Coming Home


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 12:32 pm 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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I loved the way Faith completely lost it and just about rage quit putt putt golf right at the top of this chapter. Whether the reason was from all the repressed rage that she's been working on since turning over a new leaf, embarrassment at sucking so hard in front of her girl, or just plain pregnancy hormones it was a fun scene.

Plus it was fun how sharing war stories over ice cream gradually shifted into the realm of general Harry Potter fandom. And who can resist the appeal of Professor Tara, the naughty Hufflepuff charms instructor.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2016 2:40 am 
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9. Gay Now
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Location: Beyond the orbit of Mars and accelerating...
It's finally happened.

I've caught up to the point where bits are still being written.
Not in a linear fashion, i'm not nearly that logical, but even though there's loads more stuff, some of this i'm writing just before posting.

If it looks suddenly rougher, it's because i haven't had a chance to review it with fresh eyes.

I don't have a beta.
I did have an offer, but when they found out that the story was slightly longer than the Lord of the Rings, they said it was too much to take on.
No stamina this young generation :P

So, if you spot anything, point it out and i'll try and fix it up :)


Hi Citanul!
Yeah, it's not pent up rage, it's embarrassment and a little hormones, and some stress, mixed with Faith's generally high-revving personality :)

Yeah, the Naughty Hufflepuff image stuck in my head for a while.
And Willow has always loved learning. And school. Now she gets her three favourite things all at once :)

Enjoy!



Reunion


“That Hermione Granger is going to grow up to be such a cutie,” Tara said.


“Do I need to start being jealous?” Willow asked, eyebrow raised.


Currently she and Tara were walking hand in hand behind the others.
Up ahead, Xander and Faith were having lightsabre duels with their still-glowing wands, while Buffy critiqued their form.

Eventually, frustrated, she yelled “Expeliarmus!” and pointed her wand at Xander with a flourish.

She gaped when the wand catapulted out of his hand, and ten feet into the evening air.
She looked over at Willow, who was making a terrible attempt at looking innocent.

And while Buffy was looking at Willow, Xander caught his red glowing wand, and poked her in the stomach with it. “Yes! Chalk up a win for Xander!”

Buffy yelped in surprise.


Willow joined in the laughter, and revelled in the warm feelings that flowed through her.
Just watching her friends messing around made her feel happy and fulfilled.
Tara leaned into her and squeezed her in a hug.
She smiled and leaned into her hug. She would never tire of Tara’s warmth, or her scent. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, drawing in the scent of vanilla and honeysuckle with a happy sigh.

“Hey there Mrs Rosenberg-Giles.”


More gooshy feelings flowed down their link from Tara. “Hey there Mrs Giles-Rosenberg.”


Whatever Willow was going to say next was lost, as Anya appeared in a shimmer of light.
“Hello lesbians!”


“Eeek!” Willow yelped, jumping about a foot in the air.


Buffy’s pink glowing wand instantly bounced off of Anya’s head, thrown with pinpoint accuracy.
On anyone else that probably would have stung, being hit with a high-speed bit of wood. If it had any effect on Anya, it didn’t show.


“If everyone is finished pretending to be small children, you should come inside. Cordelia is coming for a visit, and she’s bringing a surprise guest with her.”


“Who?” Willow asked, slightly worried about what the erratic woman was going to say.


“It’s a surprise,” Anya said, as if to someone terribly slow. “And she asked me to keep quiet about it. Although, you only have to wait a few minutes, so it shouldn’t tax even your limited patience.”


Buffy frowned and stopped walking. “I don’t like surprizes. Except surprize presents.”


Anya rolled her eyes impatiently. “Fine. The leader of the resistance wants to talk to all of you. Given that the Moon Pool is messed up, and the entire heavens are in an uproar, she figured now was the best time.”
She waggled her finger admonishingly. “Now you have to act surprized, ok? Otherwise Cordelia will get angry with me.”


“Uh, sure.”


Willow looked at Tara. Tara shrugged.

“I must admit, I’ve been curious about this leader person,” Tara said.


“Mom. We call her mom. You’ll see why in a minute,” Anya said.


“Uh, should we change?” Buffy asked, looking down at her robes.


“You look fine, other than looking like you belong to some weird cult,” Anya said.
She cocked her head thoughtfully. “Which is a reasonably accurate description, so stay as you are.”


“I am so changing,” Buffy said.


“No time. Really Buffy, if you run off to get changed now, you are going to regret it.”


“Ok, fine. But you get to explain Harry Potter to her,” Buffy said.


“If you want. Though I’m not sure she’s had time to catch up on the latest movies, what with the revolution to run.”



Anya impatiently herded everyone inside, steering the group to the library. Giles, Xander, Dawn and co were already inside, surrounded by books.


Dawn looked up from the couch where she was snuggling with Heather. “How was the movie?”


Tara smiled. “Good, really good.”


“Someone has a crush on Hermione,” Faith said.


“I do not,” Tara said. “I do like smart girls, but I do not fancy Hermione. She’s a teenager for starters.”


“You dressed up for it?” Dawn said, taking in the robes and house colours.


Willow laughed. “We were not the only ones.”


“Yeah, there were like, a dozen kids dressed up,” Faith said.


“We were professors,” Tara said. “I taught charms.”


“I was professor of potions,” Willow said. “I always wanted to be good at potions. Because, y’know, I stink at it.”


“Though you do make great soup,” Xander said. “Also much prettier than Professor Snape.”


“True,” Tara said with a sneaky smile.


“Er, weren’t we supposed to be getting visitors?” Buffy asked.


“Don’t be impatient Buffy. They’ll be along in a minute,” Anya said.

Buffy glared.

“Nice beady-eyed look. You realize that you’ll get many unattractive frown-lines like that?”

Buffy’s glare continued unabated. Anya smiled back beatifically.



With a shimmer of white light, Cordelia appeared. Unlike Anya, she appeared at the door, rather than right in the middle of everybody.

“Hi guys!”


A chorus of hello’s greeted her.
She sat down, looking somewhat tired. “Well, I have no idea what you guys were up to, but you stirred up a hornet’s nest.”


“How do you know we were up to anything?” Giles asked mildly.


Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Oh please. The doom bell rang, the sky turned green, and people have been speaking about an invasion. We haven’t been able to get anything useful out of the Powers That Be, It’s like they’re panicking.”
She fixed Giles with a knowing look. “Of course you guys are involved. What were you up to?”


Dawn simply held up the unassuming-looking codex.


Cordelia’s eyes went comically wide when she saw it.
“What the hell is that?!”


“That my dear, was the reason for our little visit,” Giles said.


“It’s the White Codex,” Anya said simply.


“The White… that thing is real? And you stole it?!”


Anya smiled. “Yes to both questions.”


Cordelia’s head fell into her hands. “Ohmigod. No wonder everyone is panicking up there.”


Anya looked thoughtful. “Well, I’m pretty sure they don’t know we’ve got it. If they did, it would be a lot different upstairs. Less panicking, more horrible death and destruction.”


Cordelia groaned. “You people are a menace. So, have you found anything useful?” Cordelia asked, curious despite her shock.


“Oh yeah,” Dawn said. “There’s stuff in here about how to screw up pretty much all our relationships.”


“Uh, what? Just… What?”


“This thing has all sorts of prophesies and stuff. But it also an inordinate amount of stuff about messing up all our relationships.”


“That’s… oddly focussed. And a lot creepy.”


“Yeah. There’s stuff about Angel, Buffy, Faith. Even Willow and Tara.”


“More creepy.”


“Oh yeah.”


“Is there anything in there, besides creepy stalker stuff?”


“Oh yeah. It’s like a badly written how-to guide, to prevent the future from happening.”


“Prevent it? That seems a little weird.”


“Yeah. It’s not written in here, but there’s something that they are afraid of. This whole book is about stopping whatever it is.”


“Cordelia?” Giles said. “Do you know anything about the third age?”


She shook her head. “No idea. What is it?”


“We don’t know either,” Dawn said. “But there is this prophesy about it.”
She flipped through the book, searching for the right bookmark.

“Here’s the prophesy: There shall be three signs. Three signs that mark the end of the Third Age, and world that we know. The thrice-born shall walk the earth. The heavens shall become as emerald, and a child shall be born to the fallen and the dead. She shall be the first true child of Lilith to be born since the second age, and if the child be born, nothing can stop the heavens from falling.”


Cordelia looked thoughtful. “So that’s the missing prophesy huh?”


Dawn nodded, somewhat subdued. “We’re pretty sure that’s it.”


“And that’s why they’re after Faith,” Buffy put in.


“What? Why?”


“Because I got a bun in the oven,” Faith said. “Didn’t the crazy blonde tell you?”


“No. I’ve been staying off the radar, largely by staying here,” Anya said. “It wouldn’t exactly be ‘off the radar,’ if I went back to base, would it?”


“Oh. Crap,” Cordelia said.


“Yeah.”


Cordelia frowned. “So we have to hold out for nine months?”


Buffy flashed her a wan smile, pleased that Cordelia had automatically sided with them, without even thinking.
This was clearly not the Cordelia from her old school days.


“Uh, we got lucky there. Sorta,” Faith said. “Turns out the little tadpole is growing extra fast. So she should be done baking a little quicker.”


“Should I be worried? Is it going to pop out now?” Anya said, looking worriedly at Faith’s midsection.


“No,” Buffy said, unamused.


“Because I have been to a lot of births, and it’s just messy. All that straining, sweating and fluids. You’d be amazed how many women want to curse their men when labour starts.”


“Sorry. Well, before we get too far into planning things, I think mom is about to arrive. I think she’s kinda grateful about the havoc you guys caused. We wouldn’t have been able to sneak her down here for months otherwise.”


The familiar shimmery glow appeared on the other side of the frosted glass library doors, and faded to reveal the fuzzy outline of a tall blonde woman, wearing the now-traditional white outfit.


“I feel weirdly nervous,” Willow said.


Buffy nodded her agreement, as the doors opened.



There was stunned silence among the assembled Scoobies.
Though Anya, Faith and Cordelia had broad grins.


“Mom?” Buffy whispered, her eyes glittering.


Joyce nodded, with a soft and watery smile. “Hello darling.”


“Mommy?” Dawn squeaked.


“I’ve missed you, girls. I’ve missed you both so much.”


Joyce opened her arms, and both her girls flew into her embrace.
It may have been two years or more since Joyce’s death, but no amount of healing, or acceptance could prepare the Summers girls to see her again.
For the next few minutes, there wasn’t a sound in the room, save the sobs of the two girls, and the murmurs of reassurance from Joyce.
Reunited at last.



Faith fell on her butt, such was the strength of the motions thundering down the link she shared with Buffy.
Somehow seeing Joyce again brought forth all the feelings of loss once more, though this time they were mixed in with an inexpressible joy, so powerful and so sharp that it physically hurt.
She sat, unnoticed on the floor with a dazed look, simply letting the torrent of feelings thunder through her.


Joyce stroked Dawn’s hair as her youngest cried out all the tears of her loss, and joy at their reunion.
Buffy was no less overcome than Dawn, as squeezed her sister and her mom ‘Mom!’ tight.


“Shh girls. It’s going to be alright.”


Buffy and Dawn both looked up, their eyes still brimming with tears.

“It is?” Dawn asked hesitantly.


“I promise you darling, it’s going to be alright.”

Buffy still looked worried.


Joyce lifted her chin gently. “Buffy, I started a rebellion in heaven for you. By the time I’m finished, heaven itself will be on your side.”
She stroked Buffy’s hair. “Who knew all those PTA meetings would be useful for something?”


Buffy smiled a watery smile. “Somehow ‘Thanks mom’ doesn’t seem to cover it.”


Dawn giggled and sniffled.


Joyce smiled warmly. “It’s all part of being a mom.”
She cleared her throat. “Which I understand is something you’re going to find out about shortly.”


Buffy looked at her feet. “Uh, yeah. I kinda um, got Faith pregnant.”


Joyce chuckled. “You know, somehow I imagined this conversation going quite differently.”


“Yeah. I’m a little thrown, my own self,” Faith said, from the floor.


“Buffy, how could you be so irresponsible?” Joyce said, shaking her head in mock disappointment. Her small smile took the sting out of it.


“Mo-om!” Buffy whined. “It’s not like we were planning it. It’s just… one thing lead to another and… oops.”


Joyce laughed.
“Well before we get into the serious stuff, won’t you introduce me to your fiancé? I think it’s only fair, given that I’m your mother.”


“C’mon Mrs S, it’s not like we didn’t talk upstairs,” Faith said.


“True. But then you weren’t carrying my granddaughter.”
Joyce laughed slightly. “I really wasn’t expecting to say that to my daughter’s fiancé. Buffy maybe, but not you.”

She stepped forward and pulled Faith into an affectionate hug. “Congratulations. And welcome to the family.”


Faith suffered herself to be hugged. Though it was pretty obvious to most, that despite her grumbling, she was enjoying the contact.

“Now, how is everyone else doing? I see some new faces, and some I have missed for a long time.”


She let Faith go, and moved on to Xander. “Hello Xander.”


Xander needed no prompting. He stepping forward and hugged her, the woman who’d been more of a mother to him than his own biological mother.
“Hey Mrs Summers. It’s… really good to see you again.”


“Joyce remember? And have you been looking after my girls?”


“Absolutely.”


She touched the side of his face gently, taking in his eye patch. “Oh Xander. What happened?”


“Mislaid it somewhere. Sunnydale I think.”

Joyce gave him a look, which made him look distinctly embarrassed.

“Uh, lost it fighting a priest. Doing some of that looking-after that you mentioned.”


Joyce hugged him extra tight.

“Hey, it’s ok. I’m not afraid to sacrifice for my friends. I look in the mirror, and I’m proud.”


“Family, remember?” Buffy said, softly punching him in the shoulder.


Xander just grinned.
“Looks like the Summers are growing almost as fast as the Giles’.”


Joyce looked across at Giles with a questioning expression.

“Ah, nothing untoward I promise you,” Giles said awkwardly. “Tara, ah, joined the family.”


Joyce looked at Tara for an explanation.

“I needed a new identity,” Tara said. “Um, and I didn’t want to be Tara Maclay anymore.”


“So she asked Giles if she could be Tara Giles,” Willow said. “And some point in the future, she’s going to be Tara Giles-rosenberg. Or Rosenberg-Giles, we haven’t decided. And so am I, but Willow because… yeah.”


Joyce smiled broadly. “Congratulations you two.”


“And Buffy and Faith too! Hey, are you going to be Summers-Lehane, or Lehane-Summers?”


Buffy shook her head. “Sorry Will. We haven’t even thought that far ahead.”


“Though we can’t get married in this state,” Faith said. “I looked.”


“Or any states,” Willow said. “But we can in Holland.”


“Sweet. Trip to the land of weed and kink.”


Joyce shook her head in amazement. Her eyes shone as she took in Buffy, standing with an odd mix of happiness and nerves. “My little girl. All grown up.”


Buffy cleared her throat. “Dawn too.”


“What?!” Joyce said, her head snapping around to focus on her youngest.


“No!” Dawn shrieked. “I am not getting married! I only just got a girlfriend. It’s waaaay too early to even be thinking about all that stuff.”


“Well at least I can’t actually get a heart attack any more. Please be a little more careful with your words Buffy. I’d say you just took ten years off my life but…” she shrugged sheepishly.


“Great. Just what we need, more gallows humour,” Buffy grumbled.


Joyce ignored her. “Aren’t you going to introduce me?” Joyce said to Dawn.


Heather jumped up from the couch, and looked like she was seriously considering running for it. At least until Dawn snagged her hand.

“Mom, this is Heather, my girlfriend.”


Joyce looked at her youngest, standing next to a tall girl with a similar build, wearing an odd mixture of punk clothing and pink. She stood proudly, with a slight air of defiance, as if expecting to get told off.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Heather. How did you two meet?”


“Uh, Dawn’s sort of a watcher in training. I’m a Slayer, also in training, and that’s how we met. We were best friends for ages, then one day she just planted this kiss on me. Uh, we’ve been dating ever since.”


Jules coughed and muttered under her breath. “Two days ago.”


“Everyone’s got to start somewhere,” Dawn said. “And just because we’ve only been together a few days, doesn’t make her any less my girlfriend.”

She looked nervously at her mother. “Uh, mom? Are you ok with me having a girlfriend?”


Joyce chuckled. “Yes sweetie, I’m fine with it. I worked in an art gallery remember?”

Dawn looked puzzled.

Joyce explained. “Let’s just say the stereotype for artistic people? It isn’t completely wrong.”

Buffy cleared her throat and looked at her mother pointedly.

“And my first love was a woman,” Joyce continued smoothly. “So jumping down your throat about it would be rather hypocritical.”


Xander’s good eye was wide enough that Willow was worried it was going to pop out right out. His mouth just gaped as he stared in shock.


“Close your mouth Xander,” Anya said. “It’s not a good look.”

Xander closed his mouth with a click.


Joyce turned to Heather. “Do you love my little girl?”


The struggle was visible in Heather. At first she looked down, staring at her feet. Then she gathered herself and looked up, proudly. “Yes. I do.”


Joyce smiled warmly. “Then that’s all I need. And I’m happy for you.”

Dawn and Heather smiled at each other.


“Mom? What was she like?” Buffy asked softly. “Jo, I mean.”


“Golden-brown eyes, hair like a fall of chestnut waves, utterly gorgeous,” Joyce said dreamily.
She looked at Faith. “It seems that Summers women have a type.

Faith’s eyes went wide… and then she grinned.


“Blue eyes,” Dawn contended softly, smiling.


Buffy cleared her throat. “Uh, mom? Is everyone in our family gay?”


Joyce smirked. “Not exclusively dear, otherwise there wouldn’t be a family. Well, not in the traditional sense.”

She looked at Giles and gave him a significant look.
He flushed a little pinkly, despite his attempt at control.

“But we certainly are… female-friendly.”


“So aunt Arlene’s roommate…”


“Is her girlfriend, yes.”


“And aunt Lollie?”


“Not that I know of. Though if I ever brought it up, she got really upset and defensive. So she might have, for all I know.”


Giles cleared his throat as politely as possible.

Joyce smiled indulgently. “Don’t worry so Rupert. I haven’t forgotten why we are here.”


“Dawn honey? Would you be so kind as to introduce everyone?”


“Sure mom.”
She gestured like Vanna White. “This is my best friend Jules. She leads the Valkyries, they’re our heavy hitters.”

Joyce smiled, and Jules waved back cheerfully.


“This is Ethan, Giles’ really really shady friend, who helps with the magic.”

Ethan grinned from where he was sprawled across a comfortable chair. “I’d complain about her impugning my good character, but it’s a completely accurate description.”


Joyce looked at him intently. “I assume the chaos upstairs is some of your doing?”

He nodded, still grinning unashamedly.


“The doom bell rang. That sort of thing only happens for things like invasions by evil gods. How on earth did you manage it?”


Ethan shrugged. “No idea at all, sorry.”


“And the sky turning green?”


He grinned.


Jules stuck her hand up hesitantly. “Uh, Mrs Summers? That was probably Dawn.”


“I'm an evil god now?” Dawn said.


“No, dope. I meant the sky turning green. It’s like, a thing with you. Your spells are green, your aura is green… everywhere, greeny green green.”


“Well, at least it’s not as bad-sounding as ‘The DOOM BELL,’” Heather said. “I don’t like the connection between you, and DOOM.”


“Green is a nice colour,” Dawn said.


“The nicest,” Heather said sweetly.


Jules just rolled her eyes and made gagging noises.

When Dawn had finished making goo-goo eyes at Heather, she resumed her introductions.
“So, this is Reggie, Giles’ other friend, who flies planes, so he’s called Bomber.”


Bomber bowed slightly and grinned roguishly. “Charmed.”


Giles cleared his throat and shot him a look, which he ignored.


“Oz you know.”


Joyce smiled at him. “Good to see you again Oz.”


Oz smiled in his low key way and nodded. “Likewise.”


“And um, the one hiding in the corner… that you might just recognize… is Buffybot, Buffy 2.0 or Anne, depending on how formal we’re being.”


“Goodness!” Joyce said. She looked at the purple-clad girl who was doing her best to hide behind Oz. Sadly he was nowhere near big enough to hide the petite blonde from Joyce’s gaze.

The Buffybot seemed oddly reluctant to meet Joyce’s gaze.
She also seemed to have lost the power of speech.

“What? Who? How?” Joyce sputtered.


Buffy groaned. “Uh, mom? Try not to freak, but this is Anne. She’s… a robot… person,” she said awkwardly.


Buffybot shot her a grateful glance.

“And I have no idea why she’s so quiet, she’s normally like Willow, after she been mainlining the espresso’s.”


Still amazed, Joyce looked closely at Buffy, as if analysing her. “She looks just like you.”


“Yeah, it’s a thing. People keep using me to make other people. And no one ever asks!”


Joyce turned back to the worried-looking bot. “Are you alright dear?”
She was having trouble just comprehending the frightened girl.
On one level, she looked exactly like Buffy. But despite that, she also seemed much younger. It wasn’t just the dress and socks, the girl radiated an innocence and a need that she hadn’t felt from Buffy in a long time.

The girl looked at her with sad eyes.

Something clicked inside Joyce. She’d seen that expression before, behind Willow’s green eyes. It was the look of someone with a desperate need for a mother.
Instinctively, she stepped forward, and swept the sad blonde girl into a hug.

Buffybot/Anne whimpered gratefully and hugged her back.


Buffy rolled her eyes. “Oh for the love of kittens,” she muttered.


“Oh hush Buffy,” Joyce murmured good naturedly, as Buffy’s duplicate snuggled happily into her embrace.


“Yes mom,” Buffy said in a much-put-upon tone.


“Creating Love file,” Buffybot murmured.

Buffy huffed slightly and glanced at Dawn.


Dawn was smiling slightly, and her smile turned into a grin as she saw Buffy’s mildly annoyed expression.
“Looks like there’s another Summers girl,” she said lightly.


Buffy smiled a little. “Yeah, we pick up a lot of strays.”


Dawn poked her tongue out. Buffy responded in kind.


Joyce smiled a little. Some things never changed.


+++


Some minutes later, not letting go of the happy blonde bot, Joyce spoke to Giles. “How on earth did you break into heaven?”


“My sister Emily, though she goes by the name of Brie these days. With her help and Willow’s casting of a teleport spell, we were able to make an entry. With Ethan’s help we were able to cause such confusion and chaos, that they still do not know of the theft of the Codex.”


“Won’t they suspect it’s missing?”


Giles shook his head. “Not only is it unthinkable that mere mortals be able to steal it, we had another team causing as much damage and chaos as possible.”


“Even still,” Joyce said. “Won’t they wonder what you were doing in the library?”


“I took the precaution of quietly stealing a number of valuable artefacts. If they should investigate beneath the distraction, they will find the missing items, and hopefully look no further for an explanation.”


Joyce raised an appreciative eyebrow. “Cunning.”


Giles looked a little embarrassed. “Yes well, I had help.”
Ethan waved from his spot, still looking stylishly untidy.


“And what have you found from the book?” Joyce asked.


“A lot of terrifying stuff,” Dawn said, resident expert on ‘The Big Book.’
“Really mom, they were hell-bent on keeping Buffy and Faith apart. They even arranged the whole ‘Angel’ mess to make it happen.”


Joyce looked deeply offended. “Why?”


“Because if they have a kid, it will signal the end of the third age, and the end of the world.”
She cleared her throat. “Also they wanted to keep me away from my guardians, whoever they are.”


“It would have been nice to have these ‘guardians’ around, when we were dealing with Our Lady of Clairol,” Buffy grumbled.


“Yeah,” Xander agreed. “Though I gotta say Buff, smacking the bitch with a wrecking ball has to be one of the high points of my life.”


Willow giggled. She hadn’t had a chance to appreciate it at the time, but she could almost taste Xander’s satisfaction.


Buffy got a faraway look. “Yeah. It was gooood,” she said appreciatively.


“Shame we can’t do that to more baddies,” Willow said.


“Well, I could borrow a crane….” Xander said. He was grinning like a pirate. A pirate who’d just found an unsecured cargo of rum AND gold.


Giles cleared his throat. “Collateral damage is just a word to you lot, isn’t it?”


Buffy blinked. “Huh?”


Giles sighed. “Americans,” he muttered.


“Eh,” Xander said with a shrug. “Go big or go home I always say.”


Willow looked puzzled. “When do you say that?”


He grinned sheepishly. “Just now?”


Giles looked annoyed.
Everyone’s response was to simply grin madly at him.
He sighed. “You know, in theory, you lot are adults. And yet I still feel like the only grown-up in the room.”

He glanced across at his blonde friend. Both he and Ethan were grinning in a way that promised no good.

“Ah. That would explain it.”


Joyce cleared her throat and gave Giles a pointed look. Giles looked away, a little abashed.

Dawn giggled. “Ohmigod! It’s normally him that does that to us!


“Years of practice,” Joyce murmured.
She looked down at the blonde bot. “Feeling better?”

Buffybot looked up and nodded wordlessly, smiling a little.

“Welcome to the family dear.”

Buffybot snuggled some more, and murmured something happy and unintelligible into Joyce’s white sweater.

Joyce chuckled and squirmed just a little. Apparently being dead didn’t stop you getting ticklish.
“Let’s sit for a while shall we?”
She steered the clingy girl to a vacant couch.
She sat next to her, one arm around her shoulders.

“So how did you get here, dear?” she asked.


“I came with Ethan, who is now my friend,” Buffybot answered. “I couldn’t be paired with him anymore, as Buffy 1.0 is gay.”


Joyce gave Buffy a funny look. Buffy just shrugged.


Willow cleared her throat. “Um, when she was built, she was designed to be as perfect a copy as possible.”


Buffybot nodded, some of her customary brightness returning.
“I am feeling much better about myself, now that I have put on some weight.”


Buffy hid her face in her hands, and most of the Scoobies unsuccessfully tried to hide snickers at Buffy’s embarrassment.


“I also have a soul! And I’m a Slayer too!”


“How?” Joyce asked, still catching up with her mental leaps.


“She got a piece of my soul, apparently,” Buffy said wryly.


“When I cast the spell to bring Buffy back, um, not quite all of her ended up in her original body,” Willow said.


“And like a seed, that fragment grew into a true soul,” Tara said softly.


Joyce smiled. “You really are a Summers, now.”


Dawn glared at Buffy. “You complained way more when I showed up.”


“Nah. You never had a knock-down fight with her,” Faith said. “That puts you one up on BB here.”


“Plus I’d gotten used to you,” Buffy said.


“Buffy, no hitting your sister,” Joyce admonished.


“Wait, she’s my sister now?”


“Well what would you call her?”


“Can we try for crazy out-of-town cousin?”


“Sister it is,” Joyce said firmly. “I want to sit with my girls and catch up a little more, but right now we have a war to plan.”


Giles cleared his throat. “Ah, we have help, for a change.”


Joyce smiled at him. “That does make a change. Who’s coming?”


Giles grinned. “The Daughters of The Flame.”

Joyce raised an eyebrow in question.

“They’re a religious order of female warriors, spell-casters and artisans. They also have several hundred extremely well trained Slayers.”


“How well trained?”


“The Daughters are some of the most skilled mystical combatants in existence. Add Slayer abilities to that, and I would say they are probably the deadliest fighting force in the history of the world.”


Joyce looked impressed. “That good?”


Giles nodded. “Individually they are a more that match for anyone, save Buffy or Faith. And even that would be a close call.”


She nodded. “Finally, help comes.”


Faith grinned evilly. “You got no idea, Mrs S.”


“Ah, Brie said that they are bringing all their order that they can spare. There are some ten thousand of the Daughters on their way.”


“Their Goddess gave them direct orders,” Tara said. “They tend to take that sort of thing seriously.”


Joyce gave a low whistle. “That’s… impressive.”


“This is going to take some planning,” she said. “I’d best get my advisor down here.”


“Is it safe?” Giles asked.


“As safe as can be expected. He’s not a… what did you call us? Whitelighter?”
She concentrated for a moment, eyes shut.
Behind her, in what was rapidly becoming the default orbing spot, two white dressed figures appeared behind the frosted glass door.

“I think some of you have already met,” Joyce said with a smirk.


Behind her, the doors opened, revealing Cordelia and another, taller figure.


“Jesse?!”


+++


“Giles, do you have a minute?”


Giles looked up from his paperwork and saw Dawn, standing by his door frame.
Gone was the confident young woman. When he looked, he saw a girl as worried and insecure as anyone he’d ever met.

“Of course. Do come in.”

She closed the door behind her and sat down in the comfy chair, still looking distraught.

“Is everything alright?” he asked gently.


Dawn shook her head.

“Erm… a spot of tea perhaps?”

Dawn nodded gratefully, and he got up to make tea.

Watching Giles potter around the kitchenette attached to his suite was a welcome touch of familiarity.
A faint smile played across her lips. The sight brought back memories of late nights at his house, while Buffy was off saving Sunnydale from its latest catastrophe.

He had been most emphatic that he was NOT babysitting her, because that was not what watchers did.
And she had been just as emphatic that she was not being babysat, because she wasn’t a baby.

The making of tea was almost a ritual for them, Giles never being particularly adept at talking to young girls.
And it was a ritual that at first had ineffectually smoothed over their awkwardness, and then brought the comfort of familiarity and friendship.


When they had been supplied with both tea and cookies, they settled in to appreciate the company.


After a calming couple of minutes, Giles spoke up. “Would it be alright if I asked what was the matter?”

Dawn sat silent for a moment, gathering strength.
“I found something in the book. About me this time.”


Giles sipped his tea.
“Would I be right in assuming it was something disturbing?”


She nodded. “Oh yeah, hugely. That’s why I came to you. You’re the only one I could talk to. Buffy would explode, and Tara would never… I just can’t do that to her.”


“What have you found?” he said gently.


Dawn looked at him sadly. “I’ll tell you Giles, but you have to promise me you won’t tell anyone else.”


He nodded solemnly. “Of course, dear girl.”


Dawn let out a huge breath, one she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.

“The shell must be destroyed for the Key to be freed. Unless the key be freed, it shall never know its true power. The great seal shall remain closed, and we shall remain inviolate.”


Giles looked not horrified, but sad. Deeply sad, as though he’d been expecting something like this.
“Blast,” he said tiredly. “I knew we’d had it too easy.”


“I’m starting to really hate prophesies,” she said.


“A perfectly sensible reaction,” he replied. “Was there anything else? Something that might clarify matters?”


She nodded slightly. “It was at the end of the book. I got bored picking through everything, so I skipped to the end… and found that. There are no prophesy lines beyond that point. It’s the end for the Powers That Be.”
Her voice hitched. “There’s a whole bunch of stuff that has to come first, some of which has happened already, or started to.”
She let out a big breath, sounding defeated. “But yeah, that’s where it ends.”


“I… I wish this had never happened,” Giles said awkwardly, emotion thickening his voice.


Dawn looked at him, her eyes bright with tears, as sad and lost as he had ever seen her. “Giles… I’m eighteen! I don’t wanna die.”


Giles’ heart broke. To hear those words spoken by another Summers girl was unbearable.


“But I will,” she continued, in a more level tone.


“What?” Giles said hoarsely. He was more shocked than he had words for.


“Giles, Buffy gave her life for me. It’s my turn now.”


His teacup rattled against his saucer as his hand shook. He fought to keep his voice steady. “This is not some contest of bravery, you know. No one doubts your courage.”


“That’s not what this is about, and you know it.”


She looked at Giles, the man who was a father-figure to them all, her especially.
He was in pain, and she felt a stab of guilt for bringing him that pain.

“I may not be real, but I’m a Summers. And we don’t run away from the hard choices.”


“Dear girl, you are most definitely real. And you definitely are a Summers.”


Dawn smiled a small, sad smile. “I’m not trying to throw my life away Giles. My life is awesome. But if there’s no other way to stop the Powers That Be, than to stop being a person and become the Key again… I’ll do it.”


Giles’ expression was pained. “Please Dawn, help me understand why.”


“Buffy. And Faith. And their new daughter.”


Giles nodded. He understood the grim calculus of war, all too well.
“It would devastate her to lose you, you realize? In truth it would hurt all of us terribly.”


Dawn nodded. “Yeah, I believe you. But imagine what she would be like if she lost Faith and her daughter. If we all did. I couldn’t live with that Giles.”


Giles lowered his gaze sadly. “To lose them both would destroy her. Thought their relationship is new, and their daughter is unexpected, I can see the depth of love they share. To take that from Buffy, after all she’s been through, would be like…”


Dawn interjected while Giles was searching for words. “-Like taking Tara from Willow. Only without the restraint.”


Giles nodded sadly. As much as it pained him to think of such things, Dawn was right.
It was horrific to have lost Tara, and Willow’s following decent into madness and rage had almost destroyed the world.

The madness unleashed if Buffy followed the same path would be worse.
And while Buffy lacked Willow’s magic, Buffy had a power all her own.


“Forgive my obtuseness Dawn, but while I agree with you that it would be a terrible tragedy, how does it necessarily follow that you must give up your life?”


Dawn nodded slightly to herself, glad that she had chosen Giles, of all her family, to speak to.
Out of their crazy little group, only he was able to analyse a horrible situation so dispassionately.


“Because if I don’t become the Key again, they’ll just be able to keep coming after Faith until they get her. I don’t want that for Buffy, or Faith. And I sure don’t want their daughter to die before she’s even born.”


“I understand. But tell me, how does becoming the Key again, stop the Powers That Be?” he asked. “Say for the sake of argument that you do this, how will the Key then stop the Powers?”


“I will throw them outside creation,” Dawn said, her voice resonating strangely.


Giles shot her a glance. That hadn’t sounded like Dawn at all. Her voice had chimed like crystal when she spoke.
“Ah, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but that sounded rather odd.”


Dawn blinked, sleepily. “Huh? What do you mean?”


“Your voice sounded quite different.”


“Okaaay,” Dawn said slowly. “Well, that was weird.”


Giles looked thoughtful. “Perhaps, as a human, the powers of the Key are limited? It may be that to exercise your full powers, you need to have that limitation removed.”


“Makes sense, I guess.”
She sighed, a sound of infinite fatigue. “I just wish there was a way that involved me being alive afterwards.”


Giles shook his head. “You’re talking like this is a forgone conclusion. Remember, Buffy was prophesised to die at the hands of the Master. And though she technically did, she’s still here today.”


Dawn absorbed his words, looking slightly more hopeful.

“So don’t throw in the towel just yet.”


“Well, that would be good. This is why I came to you for advice. You didn’t just explode and start shouting.”


Giles gave her a sad smile.

“I guess why I’m really here, is to ask you… how to be brave,” she said sadly.


+++


“Rupert, whatever is the matter?” Joyce said.

Giles looked defeated. He seemed emotionally battered, more so than she had ever seen him.

After the long exchange of information, she had left Jesse catching up with Xander, and planning their next move with Bomber and Ethan.
She had wanted to catch Giles for a quiet conversation, but he had been in a private discussion with someone, and she hadn’t wanted to pry.
And so she waited for him in his suite.


Whatever they had discussed, it had hurt him profoundly.

He almost fell onto the comfortable couch across from her.
Without a word she sat down on the couch next to him.


“I… I may have just had the hardest conversation in my life,” he stammered.


She took his larger hand in her own. “Rupert, what is going on?”


“I am sworn to secrecy. But one of my charges has just told me that they will lay down their life, to protect your granddaughter.”


Joyce squeezed his hand in shocked, silent support.

“And they came to me for advice… on how to be brave enough to go through with it.”


“Oh Rupert,” Joyce said softly, her voice filled with sympathy.


“And god help me, I gave it.”


She enfolded him in a hug, giving what support she could.
They stayed like that for a few moments. Eventually an awkwardly grateful Giles politely extracted himself with an embarrassed, but thankful smile.


“I’m not sure how I feel about that,” Joyce said. “I don’t want anyone to die. But if there was ever a reason to do so, I think that would be a good one.”


“And death is not the end,” Giles whispered. “As we have discovered.”


“I would have preferred not to die. But yes, there is a widening of perspective that comes, after the physical form has been left behind.”


“But I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on all that this life has to offer, unnecessarily.”


Giles smiled sadly. “We did rather miss our chance, didn’t we?”


Joyce smirked. “No. We haven’t.”


+++


“Giles, have you seen my- Gah!”

Buffy stood open mouthed at the sight of her mother. On the couch. Making out with Giles.


Joyce broke their lip lock just long enough to look at her eldest and say “If you stand there with your mouth open like that, something is going to fly in there.”

Buffy closed her mouth with a click.


“Darling, can we catch up in a little while?”


“We’re rather indisposed at the moment,” Giles said indistinctly, from underneath Joyce.


“Gah!” Buffy said. “There has got to be something in the water!”


“Grownups like to kiss too,” Joyce said.

Giles muttered something indistinct. With Joyce sitting across his lap, his face was engulfed by her cleavage.


“Just… ah, leaving now,” Buffy said.

She turned, and still looking rather horrified, locked the door behind her as she left.


Joyce turned back to Giles. “Where were we?”

The passionate kissing resumed.


+++


“Dude, this is awesome!” Jesse said.
He was staring raptly at the giant screen in the ‘war-room.’ Currently it was showing the X-Box logo.
“Man, it sucks that I got killed before the X-box came out.”


Xander gave him a look.


“Don’t give me that look, man. I’m the one who got killed. It isn’t that bad.”


“You’re not the first person to tell me that. But we all missed you.”


“You mean you and Willow missed me.”


“Yeah.”


“Wow. Will’s all grown up now. And gay.”


“Gayer than Christmas,” Xander said with a grin.


“And did you see her girlfriend? Damn!”


Xander chuckled. “Yeah, Will’s got game.”
He shoved in a disc in the machine and sat down, handing a controller to his friend.


“All we need now is-”
He broke off as Xander handed him a cold beer, from the small snack-fridge they kept in the war-room.


“Buddy, you read my mind.”


+++


“Where is everybody?” Buffy said, a hint of whine in her voice.


Faith shrugged. “I figure Xan and Jess are of doing male bonding and crap, you know, measuring their dicks and grunting. I figure Glinda and Red are smooching some place.”


They strolled down the corridor to the nerve centre of Slayer Central. They passed the library, where Giles, Joyce, Tara and Brie were all having a civilized discussion over cups of tea.


Faith frowned. “Where the hell is Red? I thought those two were welded together?”


Buffy opened her mouth to make an amazingly witty reply, when Willow’s voice could be heard shouting in triumph over the sounds of digital violence. “Woohoo! In your face buster!”


Faith snorted. “Found her.”


Pushing open the doors to the war-room, they found that most of the Scoobies had gathered to watch the showdown.

Willow was wedged into the couch between the two guys, bouncing madly in her seat, as she mashed buttons with alarming enthusiasm.

Xander was grinning madly as Willow’s character, a woman with an impressive chest, beat the stuffing out of Jesse’s overly muscled male character.


The terrible three were shouting encouragement to everybody simultaneously, while Anya sat on the arm of the couch, graciously avoiding comments about orgasms.
Xander waved his hands in the air and yelled in triumph as Willow’s character pounded Jesse’s guy into the ground, and then jumped up and down on his unconscious form.


“Aww man! Did you have to stomp on my body?”


“Yep. You totally had it coming, buster.”


“Aww man,” Jesse complained. “You come back from the dead, and your best friend beats you up. And then she jumps up and down on your body.” He shook his head in mock disappointment. “Not cool Willow, not cool.”


His feigned sadness had no impact on her jubilation. On screen, her scantily clad character did a victory dance. Willow hopped up and did her own, slightly more spazzy victory dance.


That was too much for Jesse and he cracked up, taking Xander with him. Even Anya was smiling at Willow’s antics.


She froze when her victory dance let her catch sight of Buffy and Faith both grinning like maniacs.
She shrugged and went back to her dance, for a few long, uncoordinated seconds, before flopping back on the couch.


“Man, this rocks! I gotta get one of these,” Jesse said admiringly of the controller in his hand.


“Are you gonna be around for Hanumastice?” Xander asked.


Jesse grinned. “Sure. Upstairs, I’m nobody special, so I can come down any time I can hitch a lift.”


Xander raised the eyebrow over his good eye. “Catch a lift? Can’t you just-” he waggled his fingers.


“Nah. I’m not a Whitelighter. Just a dead guy.”


“He will develop ‘Whitelighter’ powers eventually,” Anya said, complete with air quotes. “But it takes decades or even centuries. Being empowered by the Powers That Be, short-cuts the whole thing.”


“Cool. I know what you’re getting for Hanumastice, Jess.”


“Cool.”


“Ooo! Ooo!” Willow said, bouncing excitedly. “It’s our big birthday bash next week! You have to come!”


He grinned. “Will, I wouldn’t miss it. Uh, hey Anya, any chance of a lift?”


“I like you on Xander’s behalf, Jesse. Especially as he’ll be all cheerful and frisky for the next few days. But I don’t like you enough to risk going upstairs.”


Jesse waggled his eyebrows suggestively at Xander. “Got yourself a live one there bud.”


“Man, you have noooo idea,” he drawled.


“Technically, I’m not alive, but I do still enjoy a vigorous sex life,” she said with a bright smile. “Very vigorous.”


Xander coughed.


“Damn.”


“Ok,” Willow chirped. “Who’s hiney am I kicking next?”


“Me,” Faith said. “Shuffle over.”


“You can sit here if you like,” Jesse said, patting his lap.

“Sure,” Faith said.
She grabbed him by his collar and yanked him out of the seat. “Thanks.”

She flopped bonelessly into the vacated seat. “Hey Red, ready to get spanked?”


“No. Tara’s still being all grownup and stuffy. So that will have to wait till later. I can kick your hiney though,” she said with a smirk.


“Damn,” Faith said, eyebrow raised. “Always the quiet ones you gotta watch.”


Buffy sat down on the arm of the overloaded couch next to Faith and smirked at Jesse. “Struck out huh?”


He got up and rubbed his butt ruefully. “Looks like.”

Buffy wrapped herself around Faith, acting as her backrest. Faith snuggled back against her with a purr and a smirk at Jesse.


Jesse’s eyes widened slightly. “Oops, sorry. Not just Willow huh?”


Buffy smiled and shook her head. “Nope. This is Faith, my fiancé.”


He met Faith’s eyes. “Uh, sorry about that.”


Faith shrugged. “No worries.”
She smirked. “I’ll kick your ass later.”


She looked at the screen and saw Willow’s scantily clad, big breasted character. She smirked at Willow, one eyebrow raised.
Willow blushed but said nothing.
“Showing your weakness huh? I can work with that.”


She fiddled with the controls and selected a different, scantily-dressed female.
“Can’t win against Slayer reflexes Red. No shame in losing with a disadvantage like that.”


Willow just grinned. There was a lot of confidence in that grin.
“This is my domain Faith. This is my kung-fu, and it is strong.”



Twenty minutes later, Faith had learned several new phrases.
Phrases like ‘stun lock’ and ‘unblockable combo.’
She had also seen Willow’s victory dance more than once.


She couldn’t be mad though. Willow had beaten her fair and square, and was too cute and spazzy in her celebration to be mad at.
That, and Buffy was giving her world-class hugs. Hard to stay mad with that happening.


A tinkling laugh rang out, as Tara entered the room, and joined in with Willow’s impressively uncoordinated victory dance.


“Woohoo! Go geek powers!” Willow crowed cheerfully as she bounced against Tara enthusiastically.


“What are we celebrating?” Giles asked mildly.


“Willow’s geek-fu,” Buffy said. “Poor Faith got her butt kicked. Slayer reflexes were no match for Will’s geek powers.”
She gave Faith a big squeeze, and nuzzled softly into her neck just behind her ear.


Faith went a little cross-eyed and had a dazed smile on her face.
“Yeah. Butt kicked. All good,” Faith said dreamily.


“And thus everybody wins,” Anya commented. “Except him,” she said, pointing to Jesse.


Jesse sighed. “Yep. I lose.”


“You are a very poor military advisor,” Anya said.


Jesse fell into a chair and looked at her with a glare. “Who said I was a military advisor? Also hello, computer game?”
“My job usually is to watch over you guys, from the Moon Pool. I help Mom try and figure out where things are going to go.”


“You call mom, Mom?” Buffy said.


“Sure. She’s like a mom to all of us, so that’s what we call her.”


“Military-wise, the big kahuna is James, the one that Faith got on so well with.”


“How’s it goin’ up there?” Faith asked, still wrapped in her warm blanket of Buffy.


“That’s one of the things we were talking about,” Tara said as she sat on Willow’s knee and was cuddled in turn.


“We’re getting more support,” Jesse said. “A whole lot of people know that something is wrong now. There are people looking for answers, and they’re used to getting them.”


“Not helped by The Powers That Be,” Anya said, looking pleased with herself. “Their normal, totally counterproductive response is to clamp down, and not tell anybody anything.”


“Jesse, what does everyone think is going on?” Xander asked.


Jesse shook his head, almost in disbelief. “The Powers haven’t told anyone diddly-squat. Which makes sense, because if they told anyone what’s going on, people might ask why the champions of light have a contract on their heads.”


He grinned. “Luckily, we leaked pretty well everything. So now most people have some idea what’s up.”


“We should count ourselves lucky that they think they are in the dark ages. Especially when it comes to public relations,” Giles said dryly.


“Oh yes,” Anya said. “They relied far too much on awe and reverence to get things done. Now that they’re acting like your ordinary soulless corporation, a lot of people have started re-thinking things. Like ‘are they always right.’ And ‘why are you in charge?’”


Buffy shook her head in wonder. “I still can’t get my head round the idea that my mom is leading the revolution. We need to get her a beret or something. You know, like that guy I see all the time on t-shirts.”


“The name ‘Summers’ has weight upstairs,” Jesse said.
“I’m sure there must be some reason,” he said, looking pointedly at Buffy.


Buffy grinned, then frowned at Faith. “Hey, didn’t you say that this mysterious leader had fancy blood or something? How’s that my mom?”


“Summers is a proud name, honey,” Joyce said.


“Uh, it is? Is dad a prince or something?” Buffy asked.


Joyce shook her head with a fond smile. “No. He’s just a regular old architect.”


“Uh?” Buffy said. “Little help here?”


“You know when a woman marries, it’s tradition to take the husband’s name?”


“Uh-huh.”


“Well it’s a tradition, not a rule. Didn’t you ever wonder why your cousin Cecelia, your aunt Lolly and aunt Arlene all have the surname Summers?”


“Uh, no? I just figured ‘hey, they’re family.’” Buffy said.


“Well, the Summers family has a tradition too. The women in our family keep our names when we marry. Your father is only Hank Summers because he took my name.”


“Oh. Cool.”


“So does that mean I’m gonna be Faith Summers?” Faith asked.


“Oh honey, I hadn’t though even that far ahead.”


“I like ‘Summers.’”


“I like your name Faith,” Buffy said softly. “How about Summers-Lehane?”


“Sure. I could live with that. What about you?”


“Me too. It’s only fair. Plus, hey, I want a little piece of you too.”


Faith smiled. “Wicked. I’m looking forward to this just a little more now.”


“Anything I can do to make this easier for you, ok?” Buffy murmured into her ear.


“Thanks B. But it ain’t bad. Looking forward to all o’ this. Just never done anything this big and this scary before.”


Buffy squeezed her tight. “Me either. But I wouldn’t do it with anyone else.”


“You know what they say Buff, it takes a village to raise a child,” Xander said with a soft smile.


“Hell of a village right here,” Faith said seriously.


“You realize, you are all volunteered for babysitting duty, right?”


Willow nodded seriously. “Sure. Just realize Buffy, turnabout is fair play.”


Buffy blinked. “Are you… is Tara… uh.”


Willow’s face broke into a smile. “No. Not yet. But one day Buff, one day.”


+++


“There you are!” Joyce said.


Willow froze like a deer in the headlights, a stolen slice of Buffy’s cheese part-way to her open mouth.


“I see you still sneak off with Buffy’s cheese. Did you think you’d get away without a hug?” Joyce said with a touch of humour.


She noticed Willow’s frozen look, a worried look appearing on her face.
“Willow honey, are you alright?”


Willow’s mouth opened and closed inarticulately.

Without further thought, she enfolded Willow in a hug, holding her tight and giving whatever comfort she could.

Eventually Willow sniffled and looked up, watery eyed.


“Willow, what’s wrong dear?


Willow buried her face in her top and mumbled something inaudible.


“Honey, you might have to look up a little if you want me to hear you.”


Willow sniffled again, and did as she was asked.

“I said, I didn’t want you to be ashamed of me,” she said in a tiny voice.


Joyce looked utterly lost. “Ashamed? You’re almost Buffy’s other sister. Why would I ever be ashamed of you, Willow?”


Willow still looked woebegone. “Because of what I did… after Tara…”


Joyce nodded, understanding at last. “Because you killed Warren?”


Willow nodded, shamefaced.


“Maybe you shouldn’t have killed him,” she said gently.
“But I understand your anger Willow. And I understand why you lashed out at Buffy, and the others. Pain like that fills your world, to the point that you can’t even see the people that love you most.”


“But you don’t have to be ashamed. I’m not sure I’d react any differently if I was in your situation, I just don’t know.”

“I did hit Spike with an axe that one time. So I might have done the same,” she said with the tiniest hint of a smile.


Willow brightened very slightly at the tiny dose of humour.

“Willow, you’re one of the family. You looked after my girls when I was gone. You stayed with Buffy and fought the good fight, when you’d lost everything that made your life bright. Whatever else you might have done, I will always love you for that.”


Willow squeaked happily and redoubled her Joyce-hug.

“Now, where’s Tara, and why do I get the feeling she’s avoiding her hug?”


“Er, um, ah,” Willow said.


Joyce sighed. “So many hangups, so little time.”


“Um, you’ll really need to talk to her about it, but I don’t think I’ll be giving anything away if I say it’s to do with her coming back from the dead, and, um, Dawn.”


“Dawn?” Joyce said, puzzled.


Willow nodded, her eyes large.

With a final squeeze, Joyce let Willow go. “Don’t worry Willow, I promise I won’t be mad at Tara.”


Willow relaxed a bit and mimed wiping her brow. “Um, she’s talking in the rear courtyard with Buffybot, if you want to talk to her.”


Joyce gave her a curious look. Willow responded with a shrug. “It’s a witch thing.”


“Alright, I’ll go and find your missing other half. And I promise, no getting angry.”


Willow smiled nervously in relief. “Well, I’ll go hang out with Jesse and Xander for a little bit. So you can talk,” she added.



+++



Tara could feel Joyce’s approach, as she sat on the wall in the back courtyard.
Overhead, their purple flag snapped in the breeze.

One small change she had noticed since her resurrection, was a tendency to perch on things, or sit in a raised position.
She imagined it was a subconscious need for take-off height, or wing clearance.

On some level, if she was perfectly honest with herself, she had been avoiding Joyce as much as possible, given the circumstances.
She sighed slightly.
And she knew why.

Guilt.

Joyce sat down quietly beside her, leaving her the space to think.

Tara sighed again. No sense putting it off.
“I’m sorry Joyce.”


Joyce frowned. “What are you sorry for?” she said softly.


“Um, avoiding you?”
She cleared her throat. “And some other things.”


After a pause to process this, Joyce said, “I’m sorry Tara, I have no idea what you’re sorry for.”


Tara finally met her eyes. “Really?”


She touched Tara on her shoulder. “I wouldn’t hide something like this honey. I haven’t seen much from upstairs, to be honest. But what I have seen and heard of your actions, has been nothing but good.”

She smiled sadly at Tara. “So why don’t you catch me up?”


Tara nodded to herself and took a deep breath.

“I’m sorry that I let so many things go wrong. That I didn’t teach Willow about the philosophy of magic better. I’m sorry I didn’t put more effort into learning magic. And… I feel really bad about trying to… to take your place.”

There, it was out. Tara felt a little scared, and a lot relieved. It still amazed her, given what she had seen and survived, that this sort of thing was still so hard. But then it was Joyce she was facing, the original ‘Mom’ to all the Scoobies.


Joyce gathered her into a warm hug. “Sweetie, you did your best. That’s all we can hope for. And I’m glad that this group had a Mother. Especially Dawn.”

She pulled back a little, so she could meet Tara’s blue eyes. “If I had to pick a mom for Dawn, other than me? I’d pick you in a heartbeat. I’m glad she had you sweetie.”


Tara smiled with relief. She knew it was silly, but she had been worried.
It’s not every day that the person who’s ‘spot’ you’d taken, came back from the dead.


“So why don’t you fill me in on what you’ve been doing since I died. I was really worried when I didn’t see you up there.”


Tara blinked in surprise. “Oh! I hadn’t even thought about that, sorry.”


“Darling, where were you?”


“Even now it’s a little vague,” Tara said. “I couldn’t bear to be parted from Willow, so I stayed with her… as a ghost I suppose.”


Joyce rubbed her back comfortingly, as she worked to process memories she’d been deliberately ignoring.

“I sang to her, I know that much. I thought I might be getting through to her, but then I was pulled away.”
She took a deep breath, this next part was very hard. “I was pulled so far away. Across an endless void. It felt like it took forever to cross.”


Joyce frowned. Up until then, this had sounded a lot like her own experience. But, for her, there had been no void, just a sensation that she needed to be somewhere, and then everything snapped into focus, and there she was.


“I remember a voice. Vast, ancient, cold. It asked me if I would do what was necessary to return, and… I told it yes. I told it that I would do anything to get back to Willow.”

Tears ran down Tara’s face, unheeded, lost as she was in memories she’d tried so hard to ignore.

“The next bit was kind of blurry, but I remember chanting, and I could feel dark magic. I heard a woman’s voice saying ‘fly, be free!’”

“I felt something pushing against the darkness, pushing me out and away. It felt like I was tearing in half.”

“I remember falling, and then I hit the ground.”

“And that was it. I was alive. It took days before I could remember how to walk, and a couple of weeks before I remembered how to talk.”


“That must have been very disorientating,” Joyce said, sympathetically.


“It wasn’t so bad. The bad part was later. I was mostly ok, but had no clue who I was, or why I was here.”


“Did you ever find out?” Joyce asked hesitantly.


Tara nodded. “Yes. Vampires. The most powerful vampire in another world wanted to be made human again. They used dark magic to resurrect me, so I could use my mortal magic to resurrect her.”


Joyce made a face. “Vampires. Nothing but trouble.”


Tara nodded more emphatically. “Well, my friends took care of the vampire queen, and helped me get home. It took almost two years to do it, but here I am.”


Joyce hugged her again. “Well, I’m glad you’re back. You look very well. And I see you’ve bleached your hair again.”


Tara chuckled. “No, no bleach here. It’s a side effect of heavy magic use.”


Joyce nodded. “I can feel it. The power, it’s just crackling off you.”


“It’s only partly my power. The other part is a side effect of how I was resurrected.”


“I don’t understand Tara. Please remember, I might be a Whitelighter now, but I don’t have a very good working knowledge of magic.”


Tara nodded. “They made me a new body. One that was a good fit for my soul.”


Joyce looked at her with new eyes. “You look very much the same. Fitter perhaps?”


Tara shook her head with a shy smile. “No, that’s just exercise. A lot of walking, climbing and even running. And flying.”


Joyce blinked. “You can fly?”


Tara nodded. “My new body is just like my old one. With a few small differences. I’m missing a few moles, I don’t get cramps every month and… I have wings.”

She stood and let her wings unfurl.


Joyce was wide eyed as Tara’s wings almost seemed to light up the rear courtyard. The floodlights shone through them and added to the natural glow.

“Oh my!” she said breathlessly.


After a moment she gathered herself. “You know, I really thought I’d seen everything. I mean really. My daughter is the Slayer, her best friend is a witch, and my other daughter was a mystical blob of light. And then I died, started a rebellion in heaven, I’m going to be a grandmother, and the father of my grandchild… is my daughter.”

She paused for a moment.
“I was wrong, obviously.”
She stood to admire Tara’s wings. She’d stretched them up high, so they didn’t trail on the ground.


“They’re beautiful honey. Absolutely stunning,” Joyce said admiringly.
She reached out a hand almost unconsciously to see if they were real.
“So warm, so soft.”


Tara blushed a little at the awed attention. “Um, Whitelighters don’t get wings?” she asked.


Joyce shook her head. “Only in the metaphorical sense. We are kind of glowy and can move from place to place. We learn a few other tricks, but nothing like this.”


Joyce frowned. Something about Tara’s wings, and the way she was sitting was niggling at her. She mentally poked and prodded a little, but it wouldn’t come. Too many interesting things were happening at the moment. She’d need to sit down and have a quiet think about things.

In the middle of a rebellion in heaven, she was fighting to protect her grand-daughter, her daughters and all their friends. Plus she had prophesies of the end of the world to deal with.
She thought back wryly to the days when she worried about delayed art shipments, and Buffy’s clothing budget.
‘Oh to have first world problems again,’ she thought to herself.

“Well, whatever happens next, I’m glad you’re here,” Joyce said.


Tara smiled gratefully. “Me too.”


“So what was it like, this other world?” Joyce asked.


“Have you ever read lord of the rings?” Tara said with a slight smirk.


Joyce shook her head. “No. I know it’s a fantasy book, but that’s all I know. Why?”


“Ah. That would have made things a bit simpler.”

Joyce gave her a questioning look.

“Well, it’s like this…”


+++


“Ah, there you are,” Giles said.

The two women had been talking for some time, and it had taken him a while to track them down.

Joyce and Tara looked up to see Giles looking oddly ill-at-ease.
Tara looked between him and Joyce, noticing something of a connection there.
“This looks private. I’ll give you some space if you like.”


Giles flashed her a grateful smile. “You are too kind dear girl. But there is no need. And while I don’t relish a huge audience, it’s not as though any of this is going to be secret. Carpe diem and all that.”
Tara raised an eyebrow. She had seen many sides to mister Giles, but this bordered on babbling.
That was definitely a new side to him.


“Rupert?” Joyce said.


“Ah. I seem to be making rather a hash of things,” he said sheepishly.


Tara clicked. He was never like this when the world was ending, and it was a matter of record that the only thing that really got him flustered were matters of the heart. She looked at Giles with wide eyes. There was only one thing that could make him this nervous.


“Joyce? I don’t know if this is possible, or even the cleverest thing to do, but I would not be able to live with myself if I didn’t…”
He gave up on attempting to explain himself and knelt formally, slipping a satin pouch from his pocket.
From it he removed a ring.
“Joyce my dear, will you marry me?”


Tara stared, shocked. So did Joyce.


Joyce thought for a moment.
In the past, she would never have agreed to anything so sudden.
But, like her daughter, she was re-evaluating her life choices.
Things looked different when mortality has passed by the wayside.


“Yes Rupert. I’ll marry you,” she said. “Eventually.”


“Ah…” Giles said, clearly caught by surprise.


Joyce chuckled. “Oh Rupert. Give me the ring.”


He obediently slipped the ring on her finger.


“What I meant was, I want a nice long engagement before the wedding. I did just kiss you for the first time in two years, not a couple of hours ago.”


He smiled a little sheepishly. “Of course.”


“Congratulations you two!” Tara said happily.


“Thank you my dear,” Giles said.


“Now, I have to be off in the morning. So I want to spend the evening with my daughters, and the night with you,” she said to Giles. “You won’t be getting any sleep Rupert, so plan accordingly.”


Tara was impressed and more than slightly shocked.

Giles blushed furiously, and took off his glasses to polish them on his tie.


“Mind out of the gutter everyone,” Joyce said with a chuckle.
“I meant that we haven’t talked in a long time. We have a good deal of catching up to do.”


“Of course.”


“How do you feel about long distance relationships?”


“I’m sure we’ll make it work,” he said with a small smile.


“Um, can I see the ring please?” Tara asked


Joyce smiled. “Of course. Actually, I didn’t get a good look myself.”


Tara bobbed her head cheerfully. They both held out their hands for inspection.

They both were interested in Joyce’s ring, which was a shining silver band decorated with tiny gold letters.


Giles cleared his throat. “The ring has been in my family since time immemorial. The legend is that the first watcher gave it to his first charge.”


“It’s very pretty,” Tara said. “What do the letters say?”


Joyce took it off and looked closely. Though a simple polished band, the gilt inlaid letters gave it a lovely baroque look.
Most of the words were in unrecognisable languages, but words in German, Latin and French could be seen, along with a couple of English words.


“Hope, Faith, Courage,” Joyce read out the words she recognised. “What’s this?” she asked of the largest and strangest word, written in tiny circles connected with straight lines.


Giles shook his head. “I don’t know. I recognize many of these other words, Enochian for example. I think that it’s the first word engraved on the ring, but I don’t recognize the language.”


“Love,” Tara said softly. “It says ‘love.’”


Giles looked surprised. “You can read it?”


Tara nodded.


“Your magic?”


She shook her head. “I haven’t had a chance to cast the translation spell. All I know is that it says ‘love.’”


“For an engagement ring, that’s a fine sentiment,” Joyce said.


Giles cleared his throat and looked embarrassed again. “Ah, it’s not actually an engagement ring.”


“Well, it does look a lot like a wedding ring,” Tara said.


“Yes. Well there’s a reason for that,” Giles said, rosy cheeked.


Joyce laughed. “Oh my! Rupert, you cheeky devil!”


He sighed. “Well, I’m sorry. I only had the one heirloom ring. At the moment, it’s doing double duty.”


“I’ll forgive you this once,” Joyce said with a smile. “I suppose I’ll have to take it off for the big day, then you get to put it back on me again.”


“Quite,” Giles said softly.


“Um, guys? I can’t quite believe I’m saying this, given, you know,” she said sheepishly. “But don’t you think this is rather sudden?”


“Yes, and no,” Giles said. “I have admired and cared for Joyce for a long time. I was slowly working my way up to asking her out when… well, let’s just say I acted too slowly. I would like to say I’ve learned from at least some of my mistakes.”


“It should come as no surprise to discover that I have long admired and respected Rupert. After the band candy incident, things were… awkward. But I was dating again, working my way up to asking Rupert for a date. Or, let’s be honest, hoping he’d ask me for a date.”

She sighed. “And then I had my funny aneurism moment, and that was that.”


“I think what we are both trying to say is: no more missed opportunities,” Giles said.


Tara smiled. “I’m happy for you both. And Dawn will be over the moon!”


“And Buffy will be traumatized,” Joyce said dryly.


“Um,” Tara said.


“Don’t worry dear. I know how badly Buffy reacts to change. I’ve gotten used to it. You should have seen her when I told her we were moving to Sunnydale.”


“Oh? Did she throw a tantrum?” Tara asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.


Joyce shook her head with a chuckle. “No, not at all. She moped around for ages saying things like ‘my life is over.’ And ‘Sunnywhere?’”


Tara chuckled.


“That’s my Buffy, always a big fan of drama,” Joyce said wryly.


“I have a suggestion,” Tara said with a grin.


+++


OMIGOD, THIS IS AWESOME!!” Dawn shrieked.


Giles winced. “A little less volume please, those windows are expensive to replace.”


Heedless, Dawn flung herself at her mother and hugged her so tight that she lifted Joyce of the ground.

Joyce laughed. It was so nice to see this side of her youngest.

After an enthusiastic hugging session with her mom, she turned to Giles and hugged him too.

He chuckled slightly and hugged her back.


“Tara suggested that you’d want to know, first of all,” Joyce said.


“Yep!” Dawn chirped. “I’m so totally pleased you told me first,” Dawn said. “But if you told me first, how come Tara knows already?”


“She was with me when Rupert got down on one knee.”


“Yep, that’ll do it. So, do I get to tell everyone?” Dawn asked cheerily.


Giles cleared his throat. “Well, we weren’t intending to make a big performance out of the whole affair. But I have no objection if you want to be the one to break the news.”


Dawn’s eyes brightened and she looked at her mom.


“Of course dear.”


Dawn grinned. “Wicked!”


Dawn stood. “Well, first I’m going to tell my girlfriend, because that’s what a good girlfriend would do. Then I’m going to go make Buffy have a meltdown.”


“Rather you than me,” Giles said wryly.


“All part of the job when you’re a big sister.”


“She’s the big sister, Dawnie,” Joyce admonished.


Dawn waved her had dismissively. “Pfft. She’s a midget. Plus I have always been… oh hey! I need to show you something mom. Like, right now!”


“Right now?”


“Yep, absolutely!”


She grabbed her mom’s hand. “C’mon, I’ve got to show you this, mom!”


Joyce allowed herself to be towed from the room, with Giles following along in their wake.

Dawn excitedly towed her mother out of the room, down the hall, down the back staircase, and out into the rear courtyard.


The books and scrolls were long gone, put into storage until Giles and Dawn’s busy worker bees could sort all through it all.
And work was proceeding apace, though there was still a lot of work to do to catalogue it all.

The tree however, was still there, and seemed to be doing very well. Someone had planted bright cheerful flowers around the base.


“Ok mom. You see the tree?”


“Yes,” Joyce said uncertainly. “It looks like a small apple-tree.”


“Yep! The fruit is super yummy. Ok well, this tree used to be me.”


“Honey?”


“Like, before I was Dawn, I lived in this tree. Now I live in here,” she said, gesturing to herself.
She patted the tree affectionately. “This is my old home.”


Joyce reached out and touched the smooth bark of the trunk.
She smiled. “Yes it was.”


Dawn blinked. “Uh, I was expecting to have to work harder to convince you.”


“It feels like you, darling. It feels familiar.”


“Oh. Cool. Is that a Whitelighter thing?”


Joyce smiled. “A little bit. Mostly it’s a mom thing.”


“Huh. Do all moms get super-powers like that?”


“If they’re paying attention, dear. So how did you find the tree?”


“Uh, we found it in Bohemia. It came home with us. We’re still not sure how.”


Joyce chuckled. “Well, it’s a little different from a puppy following you home.”


“Well, it’s easy to care for,” Dawn said. “Doesn’t make a lot of mess.”
She smiled again as she touched the tree.
“It’s important to me, so I wanted to share it with you.”


Joyce hugged her youngest. “Thank you honey. I’m glad you shared this with me.”


Dawn grinned, “Plus fruit.”
She snagged an apple from the tree. “Here you go.”

The apple she put in Joyce’s hand was huge and bright green.

“Thank you dear. I don’t need to eat, but it’s nice sometimes.”
She took a bite out of the apple. It was crisp, sweet and juicy, despite being the size of a cooking apple.
“You’re right, it is yummy.”


“Would you like an apple Giles?” Dawn asked politely.


He smiled. “Indeed I would, thank you.”

He watched carefully as Dawn casually plucked another bright green apple from the tree.
“Most kind,” he murmured as he bit into the fruit. It was crisp and delicious.


In his mind he was quietly going over what he had just seen.
Dawn had plucked an apple from the tree.
An apple that hadn’t been there a moment ago.
“Interesting,” he murmured, and filed the observation for later contemplation.


Dawn excitedly dragged her mother (and an ever attendant Giles) around the sights of Slayer central.
Highlights were the field lush with bright flowers, the obstacle course, and the grove.
Giles enjoyed the field, but was struck almost speechless by the appearance of giggling blue and green fairies.

Dawn had been out to see them herself, and personally thought they were too cute for words.
She knew about the spell Willow and Tara had cast to keep them here, and she was glad they hadn’t faded away.


Joyce found her gaze fixed on the tree at the top of the hill.
“There’s something special about that tree, I can feel it,” she said thoughtfully.


Dawn bobbed her head excitedly. “Yep! That’s Buffy and Faith’s secret special tree. That’s where they had their first cuddle and big talk.”


Joyce gave her a ‘look.’ “Dawn, if it’s secret, how is it that you know all about it?”


Dawn put on her best innocent expression. “Because I’m awesome?”

The look continued.

“Fine,” Dawn huffed. “I overheard Faith talking with Willow, and afterwards I asked her about it.”


Joyce chuckled, shaking her head affectionately. “Some things never change.”


“Do you know why there are so very many flowers?” Giles asked.
He was amazed. The flowers were riotous, waist deep and every colour of the rainbow.
And the scent was heavenly.


“Sure!” Dawn said brightly, happy to talk about her second favourite subject, magic.
“Well, you’ve seen those two already?” she said, pointing at the tiny faeries playing in the flowers.


Joyce and Giles nodded.


Dawn took a deep breath. “Well, the tiny blue Tara was something Willow created, as part of her rehabilitation. Learning control, and all that good stuff. Well Tara liked her, but said that she’d be lonely without a Willow of her very own. So she made the tiny green Willow faerie. But they were basically just very fancy lights, and they didn’t want them to fade away, which they would have when they left. So after Willow ended up in the sky, they cast a fertility spell on the field, so the little faeries could live off the magic in the field. There weren’t any crops in the field, so you ended up with an amazing harvest of wild flowers.”

Both adults looked impressed. While it wasn’t quite up to Willowbabble™ standards, Dawn’s excitement left her speaking impressively fast.


“Breathe dear,” Joyce said with a chuckle.


Dawn caught up on her breathing.

“Er, mom?” Dawn said hesitantly.

Joyce looked at her youngest, who at this moment, had her attention focussed on one foot, poking in the grass.

“What’s it like? Being…”


“Dead?” Joyce said softly.


Dawn bobbed her head.


Joyce thought for a moment. “Here, let’s sit and I’ll try to explain.”
She matched actions to words, and sat in a small clearing amidst the flowers.

Dawn flopped down bonelessly and Giles sat crosslegged on the grass.

“When I died, it was very sudden. All I remember was a strange whooshing sensation, and I passed out. I died shortly thereafter I imagine.”


“I wish you hadn’t died,” Dawn muttered sadly.

Giles found himself nodding his agreement silently.


“Me too,” Joyce said. “Death is not the end, and what comes after your first life is pretty amazing. But I wish I had never left.”
She reached out and took the hand of her youngest, squeezing it reassuringly.
After a pause, she did the same with Giles.
He smiled shyly, but seemed bashfully happy with the gesture.


“A few aches and pains and a few more wrinkles, would have been a small price to pay, to not have been separated from you all.”

“But you wanted to know what it’s like. It was a little like sleep, in that I don’t really remember it. But the next thing I remember was a floating sensation and bright lights. After a little while everything started to come into focus, and I ‘woke up.’”

She squeezed both Giles and Dawn’s hands. “Contrary to popular opinion, there’s no pearly gates. There are quite a few gates up there, but when you awaken, you’re in a pool. It’s this big, outdoor place like a roman bath.”


“It sounds nice,” Dawn said.


Joyce smiled. “It is. There are guides around to tell everyone what’s going on. It’s rather like seaworld, or a museum tour.”
“I got my own personal tour guide, James. It seems everyone thought I was someone special. Can’t imagine why.”


“I can,” Dawn said.


“Myself as well,” Giles added.

“Have you seen the movie ‘what dreams may come?’” Joyce asked.


Dawn’s eyes widened. “The painting movie? Wait, you get movies up there?”


Joyce chuckled. “Yes, we get movies. We can use the moonpool and other lesser pools to watch all sorts of things. Usually the antics of our loved ones, but we can watch other things if we want, including movies.”

“So, tell me about it?” Dawn asked.

“I’ll try. But language is so limited for this sort of thing.”

“There are no words in heaven,” Dawn said.

Joyce looked surprised.

Dawn shrugged. “Buffy told us.”

Joyce smiled. “Good. Well, that makes things a little easier. But there’s more to it than that.”
She thought for a moment.
“Do you remember how you used to speak and think when you were two years old?”

“Wuh?” Dawn said. “Technically, I am two years old, but… nope. No idea. Goo-goo Ga-ga?”

“Oh no, you were a talker. You started very early, unlike your sister. My point is, you have grown so much since then. Not just physically, but in how you think. Can you even put yourself into that mindset any more?”

“Not really.”

“Well, it’s the same once you shed your body. You begin to grow again, to expand. And it becomes harder and harder to remember how to think like you used to. That’s why they constantly recruit new people to act for them. Because the older and more powerful you become, the harder it is to even communicate with the living.”

“Fascinating,” Giles said.

“Which is why Whitelighters are all recently deceased, or even occasionally still mortal. Cordelia is valuable that way. Her main advantage is that she will remain much more like a mortal, and still be able to communicate.”

“Um, what can you tell us mom?”

“Thoughts. Feelings. A constant flow of information. I imagine it’s a little like the bond Buffy and Faith share, but with everyone.”

“There are more dimensions as well. They’re hard to understand, but you pick it up as you slowly forget how it is to be limited to four dimensions.”

“Wow,” Dawn said. “What’s that even like?”

“I don’t really know. Don’t forget, I’m new at this. I get glimpses every now and then, but I can’t really wrap my head around it.”

She smiled again. “There is one thing I can see though.”

“Really? What?” Dawn said excitedly.

Joyce tickled her tummy. “You!”

“Eek!”


+++

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 5:16 pm 
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8. Vixen
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Dibs!!

I knew it! I knew it! Joyce is in on it too! Interesting explanation for "white lighters". And I thought that Buffy-Bot's reaction was interesting and that Joyce could see the spark of her soul as well. And that she wanted to be held by, well, her mother is just another clue in her evolution too.

More please!

:flower :flower :flower

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2016 7:03 pm 
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Great chapter. And what a way to bring Joyce back for a short stint. Though Dawn's reveal of the last prophecy in the book was sure to be a kick in the balls I liked how Giles and Joyce still had it in them to try and pick things up in their own relationship.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2016 3:46 am 
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness... I'm glad that Joyce got to meet all the Scoobies and as a "bonus" got engaged with Giles... I'm sure the Summers name in the "heaven" is famous due to Slayer/Lilith connections...

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2016 2:30 am 
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Hi gang!

New chapter incoming :)

Heya Vampyregurl!
Yep, Joyce is in on it.
Did you really expect her to sit around when bad things were happening?
Yeah, BB is very much like a younger and more naive version of Buffy.
I read a fun little story about her getting powered up in the 24th century, and wanting to date Mr Data of star-trek fame.
Was a fun story.

It kinda inspired me :P
There will be more of her, later on :)
The terrible trio becomes a quartet.


Heya Citanul!
Yeah, it's rough. but i figured that people's attitude is gonna shift, one they know death is not the end.
And hey, snuggling is a life affirming activity :)


Hi Zampsa!
Maybe:)
Or maybe being the mother of the Slayer who defeated a god and the First Evil yadda yadda carries some weight :P

New chapter shortly.

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How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


My Story: Coming Home


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