Life With Mother and Father...


PG13

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other
owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Summary: 18 years after the events of Romance Palace...The Walthrops are dealing with life...and its tribulations...

Well...Trying to...

(Some of the events described here as in the past are occur ing...slightly differently...in the parallel Buffy Rebecca universe story "Mona and the Monsters")

***

Play main theme...James Bond opening theme

A certain quiet street...In a certain quiet little California town...A certain quiet front door... Big opening...James Bond theme plays...Picture our dear Buffy first, then William in the familiar gunsight...Each whipping a stake, rather than firing a gun back at us... The door is kicked open... Darkness inside... But a muffled cry...Ummn!?... As if...Someone were trying to scream but stifled by a hand over the mouth... A (not quite) forty-year old Buffy Summers-Walthrop races to the nearest lamp...On their right end table by the sofa... A familiar "Dawn?!" on her lips... The light is snapped on just as she reaches it... A grinning demon...Short, hairy, fanged...Armed with a rather hefty circa 2020 submachine gun...And...Slobbering...Sitting by the lamp...She rears back... Walthrop beside her moves to stake the thing but another light snaps on at the other end table, next to him...Another ghoulish demon...Equally well armed... The kitchen light snaps on...Two more armed ghouls in the hallway enter the living room... The bathroom hallway light as well...Yet two more demons...Female this time...And behind them...A tall figure holding a struggling thirty two year old Dawn...Hand over her mouth... "Dawn!..." Buffy gasps... "Mephisto?!..." Walthrop glares at the tall rather elegant vampire demon holding Dawn... Slayers...the tall figure bows... "So happy to find you at home tonight...Dawn and I have been talking about you all evening..." This is what I get for doing the blind date thing back here in good ole wacked out Sunnydale...Dawn sighed to herself... Like I didn't know this would probably happen...I come home for a visit...I meet a "perfect" guy...He's Buffy's and Will's latest archnemesis in disguise... I couldn't settle for sweet ole dependable Clem no...Not me...Not Miss "(Studly) Humans only need apply" Summers... And Willow said he sounded a lil' too good... Oh...God...Buffy's got that "Dawn!...I told you so..." look on...Underneath the "oh God, my poor Dawny..." and the "...Slayer locked on kill..." looks... "Fortunately...My dear Ms. Summers-Walthrop..." Mephisto grinned...Maintaining a firm but gentle hold on Dawn... Unlike so many of you and your husband's previous adversaries...I have a healthy respect for Science and modern Technology...he nodded at his heavily armed assistants... She and Will eyed him carefully... Mephisto...The former famed actor Sidney Mechamber...Transformed during an ill-fated and rather short-lived TV horror series' shoot here in Sunnydale nearly seventeen years ago... Now the undisputed lord of the Sunnydale underworld...Charming, brilliant, ruthless, a master of disguise, and a mildly telepathic master of thrall, with quite a chip on his shoulder against the Walthrops...They having saved his would be mate and series co-star...From him...The same year he'd been transformed... But up to now he'd been held at bay...Failed in every attempt to enact revenge...Against either the Walthrops or their extended family... Until now...Now...As he gloated to them...When he'd finally found the perfect revenge...And made excellent use of his acting skills... To take the Slayer's own sister as his mate...And kill the Walthrops in their own home the same night... Only one thing left to make his revenge complete... "Mother...Father?..." Amelia Joyce Walthrop, a surprisingly tall and stately eighteen year old brunette...standing at the kicked-in front door with two young men and a young woman...Stared into the living room... Oh...Crap...she sighed, seeing the heavily armed demons... Who blinked at her... Not again... "Pop...? What's up?!..." seventeen year old Will Walthrop Jr.. one of the two young men called into the room... As Buffy took advantage of the surprise her offsprings' sudden arrival had caused, grabbing the nearest demon and whirling him round as a shield, firing his machine-gun at the demons' at the kitchen entrance... While Will raced for Dawny...The other startled demons having forgotten in the excitement that he remained a vampire...And throughly resistant to bullets...Despite his long regained human soul... Mephisto moved for a quick snack...Even if his doom might be eminent, he'd have his revenge...And his mate... Young Will pulled a plastic water gun from his coat and with skillful aim, fired at the vampire lord...Holy Water... Mephisto screamed in agony, loosening his grip on Dawn...No!... God!...Not the face!...he shrieked... A cry echoed by his two females... Dawn broke free and Will Sr. jerked her back... Mephisto saw his moment fading...And took the better part of valor...Fleeing the house by the back, his devoted females covering him... Buffy and Will on them and staking them with their usual swift efficiency... Though not quite fast enough to catch Mr. Big...Who continuing his appreciation for human technology had kept a car...Electric, of course...With waiting driver parked just outside...And sped off... The other two youngsters...Amelia and Will Jr.'s respective dates...Stood in the front doorway...Staring at the dead demons, the rather sheepish but unharmed Aunt Dawn, and at the returning Walthrop parental units... Amelia Joyce...Joycee to the family...Gave Will Jr....The Look... "Sid, Anne...?" he turned to their dates... "Could you guys just wait out on the walk...A sec?..." We'll explain everything in just a mo... The subdued dates rather happily stepped out... The Walthrop offspring looked at their rather guilty-looking parents...Not to mention auntie Dawn... Ummn...Sorry guys...The three adults looked at the teens...
Play Walthrops' theme (When I'm Sixty-four)

"Mother?!...Do you and Father always have to do your fighting in the house?!..." Amelia Joyce glared... Can't you ever just...Take the battle to the enemy?... Far, far away... "Now just a minute, young lady..." Walthrop eyed his daughter coolly...A little Spike definitely called for... "I don't care what year it may be in the outer world..." But in this house...It's always a year when you speak to your mother...And father...With a modicum of respect... Yeah...Respect for mad killer Spike, right...Amelia muttered under her breath... William staring...With a sudden pale look... Geesch, sis...Will Jr. staring as well...Whata thing to say to the old man... "What Did You Say to My Husband?!!..." Buffy reared on her daughter... Ummn...Assertive teen Amelia Joyce withered....Lil' Melia-Joycee rushing back... Ummn, Mommie?... "You have thirty seconds to apologize..." Buffy glared... "Sorry Daddy..." She really was too, seeing the stricken look on his face... Mentioned the unmentionable that time... Even brother Will clearly displeased...There are limits, sis... "That's a start...Keep...It...Up..." a fiercely glaring Buffy told her... "Really, really sorry...Daddy..." "If you ever...Forget what your father's gone through...What he went through...To be with us...Again..." Buffy reached a new glare level...Cicely level, Aunt Dawn noted... Complete with Cicely's trademark head throwback and look down the nose... "I may forget that I have a living daughter named Amelia..." "Now Buf...Sweetheart..." Will smiled at her... "Joycee didn't mean to hurt me..." Joycee nodded fervently... "She's just upset about her date..." Ummn...Buffy backed down a hair... "Children these days..." she muttered...In her Cicely voice...A nasal, English accented twang... "Will..." Walthrop smiled at his namesake... Nice shooting there, kid... "Hey...Pop..." Will Jr. gave a thumbs-up... "Dawn..." Buffy sighed... "Your date was through a personal ad, wasn't it?..." Again?...After that last creep you got back in New York?... Ummn...Dawn looked away... "They're not all bad..." she tried feebly... "Sunnydale's current vamp king?..." Buffy looked at her... He seemed really nice...Dawn noted... Until he did the "face" and the grabbing and the death threatening and all... Geesch...Poor Auntie Dawn...Will Jr. thought sympathetically... Talk about low self-esteem...And her so pretty and smart and all... Why she ever dumped good old Clem?... *** Life with Mother and Father...Part II... A subdued...And genuinely remorseful Amelia apologized to her father once more before she and Will Jr went to see that the respective dates had been given the usual reasonably plausible explanations... Business competitors of the parental units... Very ruthless business competitors... "I thought your parents ran a magic shop and bookstore and wrote books together..." Amelia's date Sidney noted... Well...There are very few print bookstores left... Competition for good old style print books is intense... "Yeah..." noted Will's date, the red-haired Annie Faux...Of the Crestwood Fauxs...Distant cousins of the Harrises... Not that Xander and Anya were enormously happy about Will choosing Annie over their own lil' Sallie... In fact, devoted mom Anya...Devoted former vengeance demon mom Anya...Had been rather... Especially given that Will had met Annie (or "that man-stealing nincompoop" as her loving aunt Anya now affectionately called her) at a party for Sallie Harris... While supposedly escorting the said Sallie... "My dad was telling me about this old print copy of "Tom Sawyer" that went for ten mill..." Annie continued... Exactly...Will Jr noted... Stuff's worse than hard drugs...Pricewise... But legit of course...Except when ruthless types like tonight's guys get involved... Hmmn...Sid, Melia's hulking date wisely nodded...Momentarily taking his eyes off Amelia's ample bosom...Well displayed, despite her mother's Cicely-sided (though surprisingly enthusiastically seconded by her Buffy side) efforts to take full advantage of the return to a somewhat more conservative mode of dress in the third decade of the 21st century... Eyes locking with good brother Will's for a mo...What were you looking at there, ole Sid? Will's glare asking... "Yeah..." ole Sid hastily agreeing...A lot of menace that Will Walthrop packs in his glare for a short runt...Like that little old man of his... Quite a market for the old print stuff these days...Sid continued...Smiling innocently at Amelia... Field of vision, no offense intended...he whispered, grinning nervously at the glaring Will... *** Back in the house, Buffy's momentary anger had been replaced by extreme guilt... Geesch...We did it again... God...What kinda normal life can our kids hope to lead like this?...she noted to Will Sr. "Girl..." he paused... "They seem to be coping quite well...After all, you and Dawn handled it..." Dawn...Oh yeah...Buffy frowned at her sheepish sister...Who did her best to sink deep into the sofa cushions... But even there...A beautiful and intelligent thirties-ish young woman grabbing at any good-looking creep who delivers a smooth line... All her fault...she sighed to herself...If she'd just not been the Slayer... Well...Actually...The "grabbing at any good-looking creep..." thing was probably just an inherited Summers trait...Given her own and Mom's history with guys... At least until she'd recovered her good ole Cicely side...And Cicely's good ole husband...she beamed for a second at Will... But all the rest...The curse of the Slayer...she sighed audibly...Though trying not to... Will felt terrible when she started blaming herself, she knew...Remorse and guilt in spades... And as for...His "brother"...While he might not feel remorse and guilt... The long disembodied and junior partner Spike groused within Will...Look at her...This makes me puke...Get her off this tack...I hate this...She's got that damned "poor Dawn and the kiddies...if only" look on...I hate it... Remind our girl who she is... And how dead Dawny and the kiddies would be if it weren't for her...And us... That before or after you would have bashed her skull in or blown her head off?...Will pleasantly asked his counterpart... Hey!...That was before love came acalling at our door...Spike noted within...Bearing our Cicely back to us... Thanks to me setting the stage...the demon continued... By letting the Initiative shove the chip in your skull?...Will asked within...Or by bringing ole Dru to town for rest, rehab, and mayhem?... Both...his "brother" proudly noted...Never shy to take credit... Still...Will had to admit...Spike had a point... And Buffy was getting herself worked up... You'd almost think she'd never saved all Earth, including Humanity, so many times... "You can't let things get to you like this, Dearest..." he eyed his beloved wife... After all...He spoke up...Every kid of parents who live in the public eye or acquire a little fame has to deal with this sort of thing... "William...Those kids or their parents don't nearly get killed nearly every night..." Ridiculous...Look at any CEO's or movie star's kids...Under constant threat, watched 24/7, guards around at all times... "If the character is there...and either it is or it isn't...The kid will be fine..." Well...Spike hesitated within on that one... Maybe "fine"....after years of therapy...he noted within... However Buffy was willing to buy... "Really...?" she asked Will hopefully... My side career isn't dooming my kids to twisted, tormented lives and early deaths?... Go with it, bro...Spike hastily insisted... Hey...Whatever works to make our Cics-Buf happy... *** Can never understand why your mom keeps that thing around...a slightly hefty fortyish Willow noted to Amelia...The next morning in the Walthrops' basement... As they carefully moved the head and torso of the long-defunct Buffy-bot out of their way...Preparatory stage for executing of the brilliant idea Willow had conceived at breakfast... She being home on visit from England and her dear Giles...Too bogged in Chairmanly duties to join her just yet...But hopeful for the chance to slip over the Atlantic for an inspection of the Council's Greatest Slayer and her rather unique Watcher before Willow's vacation ended... "Oh...She's got some weird idea bout sticking around with Dad when she gets older..." Joycee noted, shrugging... Huh?...Willow stared... "Yeah...Have you and Giles stuff her soul in the BB or some crazy thing like that..." You know how Mom gets when the future comes up... Can't bear to hear it when Dad tries to start a conversation about...The Day... "The...Day?" Willow eyed her god-daughter... When she's too old to Slay anymore and maybe Spike tries a comeback...Amelia explained... With good intentions from his pov at least...You know, to transform her and all when she's old and sick... And she'll have to deal...Maybe to stop ole Spike, maybe just to keep Daddy from being Immortally lonely... Dad's fine with it...A quick staking just before Mom goes and it's off to Heaven for both of them...One century alone was enough, he says...But she hates the thought of it...What if the PTBs threaten to send Dad to Purgatory or something for committing suicide?...What if she can't do it and Daddy has to stay alone after we're all gone?... A slight pale on Amelia's face suggested to Willow that she'd considered this matter as well...Poor kid... "So...She wants Giles or me to put her soul in the bot?...When her body gets too old to stay with Will?..." Willow looked at Amelia... My Rup might be a tad too old for magics himself by then, she thought... "Well...She is the Greatest Slayer of All Time...And they are the Greatest Watcher-Slayer team..." Naturally...Amelia added with a touch of pride... And she figures it might actually be better for the world...Them sticking around together...Helping the next Slayers as they come...If they'd come with her still around... Hmmn...Willow eyed the old bot... Well...Old schmuck-face Mears had done a terrific modeling job...And with modern components... "Hey, guys..." Buffy called from upstairs... How's it going?...She was at the door, turning the handle...Clearly ready to charge on down... Joycee frowned...Mother...You promised...she grumbled in low voice... "No fair..." Willow quickly called up to the Slayer... No peeking until we finish setting up Melia's new bachorlette pad... Pad...? Joycee eyed her godmom... Oh right, like in those old Austin Powers movies we study in Cinematic Literature...Those classic, sadly moving tales of the evil guy's desperate, thwarted attempts to produce an heir by any means... The human story in a nutshell... A reluctant...And grumbling Buffy retreated...Closing the door...Her Cicely half strongly arguing the case for listening at the door...Moral duty towards one's daughter and all superseding these ridiculous modern notions about privacy...However as both Buffy and Cicely could remember being a young teenaged girl...Victorian duty lost out this round... For now... "So..." Joycee eyed Willow with a grin, after assuring herself that Mom had taken herself and her Slayer supersenses away from the door... Do we finally get to hear them wedding bells for you and Mr. R?...Or no?... Well...Willow sighed...Rupert did ask again... But I dunno...I can't see myself standing there and swearing to forsake all others... I mean...You know...she grinned at Amelia... "All others..." For Eternity... Oh...Amelia's face fell... "Wil...Don't you love Giles?...You and he got two kids..." Well...Yeah...Willow nodded... But...Marriage oughta be done right...I mean, look at your parents... "How would it be if your mom had still been in love with Angel?...Or Will had been in love with?...Ummn..." she paused... My Tara-Dru... "I can't lie and say Giles is my one and only...And for his part, he'd be lying to say I was..." Not that I don't love him...And every minute we've had...Willow added hastily... Or that I don't want him with me in Eternity... It's just...I want Tara with me too...And he hasn't forgotten Jenny Calendar... "So...Screw the forsaking all part...Put in a special clause for Tara and Jenny..." Amelia suggested... A little Spikean practicality having rubbed off on his "half-children"... Eh...Whatda we need a ceremony and a piece of paper for...? Willow noted... I could be a bridesmaid...We could have a big party... Amelia grinned... Maybe in England... You know who could perform the ceremony...she grinned wider... And Abe and Sarah would love it... "The kids say anything to you?..." Willow hastily eyed her... *** Life With Mother and Father...Part III... PG13 Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series... Summary: 18 years after the events of Romance Palace...The Walthrops are dealing with life...and its tribulations... Well...Trying to... (Some of the events described here as in the past are occurring...slightly differently...in the parallel Buffy Rebecca universe story "Mona and the Monsters") Part III... *** It being a Saturday, Will Sr. had gone alone to the Magic Box...Shop and bookstore now...To check on the weekend trade and staff... And to briefly meet with Anya...Making her regular bimonthly inspection of the Sunnydale franchise...Still her sentimental favorite, as the place where it had all started, in the chain of Magic Box franchises she and Xander had established with Giles and Willow...And who would be bringing Phil and Buffy Jr. back from their visit with the younger Harris children...Alex Jr. and Alysia... Naturally Xander coming along as well...Neither he nor Buffy having ever forgotten Spike and Anyanka's little romp during their demon days... Not that they had the slightest doubt of Will and An, of course...Just...Ounce of prevention and all... Besides he liked hanging with his "older brother"...And the Harrises still lived in Sunnydale...The tonier section, of course...Out past the Greenwood cemetery where Joyce lay and Spike had once had his most posh crypt... Buffy sticking behind to kick around some new book ideas (she and Will having achieved an understandable success in nineteenth century-based historical fiction), hang a bit with the visiting Willow around town, straighten the house up for dinner with the gang, and... To keep an eye on her elder daughter and her visiting sister... A Victorian-era sharpened Cicely eye... Not to mention being on hand to welcome their upcoming guests from LA... A chore Will Sr. preferred to avoid... Oh Gad (his slight modification in deference to Buffy's Cicely half's Victorian scruples about over- frequent use of the Lord's name and all)...The house and his quiet life in an uproar these past two weeks...Willow and her kids camped out in the house...Thank Gad for the additional bedrooms they'd added over the years...Out to dinner or on the town in Sunnydale or LA with Willow and the Harrises practically every night...No real work possible... Not that he didn't love Willow...Or the Harrises... And he shared Buffy's joy at seeing Willow after nearly five years of contact only by phone and letter... Just...Well...Buffy had truly appreciated his sacrificing his beloved den...to Willow...And all the time taken from his and their writing and research... And it was great to see ole Red and her kids...Abe the image of Rupert, Sarah an amazing tall and willowy combination of her parents' best features... It was just...He'd grown very fond of his settled, orderly life...As relatively settled and orderly as a Watcher-Slayer's husband-and-fighting-partner's could be at the Hellmouth...Even Spike clearly was about as content as a maniac killer demon could be...And had minced no words in complaining about the past hectic weeks... However...As to the forthcoming LA guests... Well...He loved Sister Tara-Drusilla...Young Connor...Liked ole Wesley and dear Cordelia...But as to...Well... It was bad enough when he'd just strutted around playing at being God's chosen son... Now...He had the credentials to give weight to his sanctimoniousness...And the weighty majesty and aura of the Church to support his ego... Worst of all...He was Buffy's spiritual advisor...Her resurfaced Cicely side naturally being somewhat more inclined to that end of things than young Buffy had been...Though Cics herself had been rather free-thinking as Will remembered...Possibly just as much the effect of advancing years, motherhood, and residual guilt over her Slaying activities... Of course Sister Tara-Drusilla, in a unguarded Tara moment, had grinningly noted to Will once that it was only natural he'd of ended up this way... Angelis had loved playing priests in his day... *** It had been inevitable, given his and the Church's problems with sex and all... Yes...Given human Darla being lost to him...At least for his time on Earth...His inability to enjoy human sex...His Irish Catholic upbringing...The desperate need of mid 21st century Holy Mother Church for worthy priests... And the fact that it would go a long way towards easing his dear long, long departed mum's feelings regarding his counterpart's murdering the whole family and all... It was inevitable... Father Angel...Rev. Father Liam Angel... Of course...William Sr. could be forgiven his strongly Spike-supported suspicion that Angel took a rather Angelis-like pleasure in serving Buffy as her principal religious mentor... Despite the fact of the Walthrops' Anglicanism...After all...21st century and all...And the Anglican/Episcopalian and Catholic churches...Not to mention the Greek and Russian Orthodox as well...Were, in the face of declining numbers, well on their way to achieving reunion... Someday... Well, at least he'd have a sympathetic Sister T-D as the kids liked to call her to share his own and Spike's more colorful grousings with in private... Willing, even anxious, as she was to forgive and forget where Angel was concerned, Tara-Dru's Dru nature couldn't help harboring a certain degree of...Where the counterpart of the mad fiend who'd murdered her family and driven her to insanity and decades of horror trapped in her own equally hideous counterpart was concerned... Though she always treated him kindly and with the respect due a heroic crusader for Good and her superior in the Church... *** It had been of course been hard on poor Willow...Still hurt... After she and the Walthrops...With Angel's valuable help, she had to concede... Long overdue as it was... Had cornered and captured the insane demonic Dru after a long hunt, aided by Tara-Dru's newly re- trapped counterpart human spirit... And after nearly losing Buffy...And Will Jr...It being Drusilla, after all... God...Buf might have told us she was pregnant again... And after learning both the Wolfram-Hart resurrection ceremony, used to restore human Darla briefly, and Spike's African demon god were not options here... The W-H ceremony being far too likely to leave demon Dru alone in the human body without the intercession of the W-H senior partners...Who were not likely to see any benefit to them in restoring Tara-Dru... And the African demon god not interested...The restoring William's soul to control thing having been in the nature of an ironic joke for him on Spike...If anyone had told him he'd be leaving Spike almost as happy as Will...Geesch... And neither bribable nor susceptible to Willow's worst threats... Had used the one option left, short of sending Tara-Dru to her well-deserved peace... Angel's gypsy curse... Willow hopeful that an alternative could be found...And Tara-Dru...Both human Tara and her previous life human Dru nature...Content to be among the living again...Even if still in a vampiral body... Dru's vampiral body... With a chance to live the life of dedication and service young Drusilla had dreamed of...Even if complete happiness must be carefully avoided... However...Restored Tara-Dru's life goals and Willow's had turned out to sharply differ...To Willow's intense regret... If to Rupert Giles' good fortune... They'd had it out shortly after their triumphant return to Sunnydale...Willow insisting Tara... Tara-Drusilla...Tara-Dru had noted firmly...And with the Drusilla body to prove it... Move back with her...And forget this whiny Drusilla nonsense about resuming her vows and sisterhood... In time, she and Giles would find a better cure...And they could be...Non-platonic again... Hmmn...Well...Willow...Tara-Dru had tried to be as kind as a Tara and a human Dru could be... Rosenberg...I love ya...There'll always be a Tara part of me that loves you...And will be waiting for you in Heaven when this existence is done...But... Tara-Dru frowned... "I know you guys think my human Dru self was some kind of demure pathetic simpleton...Based on what you saw in Drusilla...Well, let me tell you..." her English Dru-voice taking over... "We raised 'em tough in me day...In me town...And any toughness you ever saw in Tara came from that miner's daughter..." Whatever Angelis' tortures did to me in the end... And Dru...I...Wanted to give my life to Christ...And the poor... We still do, Willow... And...She eyed Willow sadly... Dru...Well... "She's not comfortable with the girl-girl thing...Not in a "join the religious right and Rush in a bigots' crusade" kinda thing...Just..." Personally...Ya know...? Though my Tara aspect is...Definitely...she hastily added... And that aspect of me will be seeking you one day, my Wil...In Heaven... Heaven...? Willow groused under her breath... I can't sit around waiting to be fucked until Heaven opens its pearly gates...she thought... "Tara...We can fight Dru...Just leave it to me, baby..." "What you need is to let me..." Willow began... Tara-Dru bridled a little... What I need is not for you to tell me what I need Willow...she looked at her... "I can't do it Wil...I can't ignore my Drusilla side...We are one after all...And we have waited to live our life the way we wanted to for more years than I can remember...I'm sorry...Truly..." she paused... But Goddamn it girl, I deserve the right to choose how I live...I've earned it... "I will always love you...And if you can find some happiness here...In this world...I promise you..." She took Willow's sad and shattered face in her hands... "I promise you, Willow, my Tara...Your Tara...Will be pleased...And will be waiting for you in the afterlife...If you want her..." Yeah...It had been hard... *** But life goes on...Fortunately for Willow dear Rupert had been there to ease her pain and over time, provide her with that happiness Tara-Dru had hoped she'd find... And two wonderful children... And in his kind way he'd accepted her inability to give herself fully, even perhaps mildly exaggerating his own sorrow over his lost Jenny, sincere as his regret was, to ease his Willow's guilt... Though he'd continued to hope that one day...And with regard for the children and her parents' feelings, not to mention that ole British pluck that had enabled poor William Soames Walthrop to hang on with Spike through that terrible century for his Cicely's sake, continued to occasionally bring up the subject of formalizing their relationship... A step that Willow couldn't help viewing as too committal...And the final doom of any hope... Torn as she was by the thought of the pain it must cause dear Rup...Not to mention the hurt the kids increasingly verbally expressed...Despite their attempts to continue accepting her "gotta remain a free-spirit" explanations... She loved Rup...Sincerely...But... God, adulthood was complicated...It was all so much easier when they just had to save the world from the weekly or monthly maniac... *** Buffy though was a hoot...Willow grinned at the thought as she and Amelia continued their work... Who'd have ever thought...Her friend Buffy...The "wild" friend of her youth...Doing the things she...Willow...Had only dared dream about... Now quite the proper mother and wife...With a rather old-fashioned attitude towards child- rearing...And life in general... A Cicely-inspired old-fashioned attitude... Not to imply that her Cicely nature had imposed itself in some kinda weird possessive way... Just...Cicely had been a well-educated, intellectual woman of strong principles...Who knew what she wanted and went for it... William being a prime example... And Buffy...Still a bit at sea in the tides of new wife-and-motherhood...Not to mention career- searching and resuming college...Had been happy to fall back on her Cicely side for support... Course, to be fair...For her time, Cicely had been a remarkably advanced, free-thinking woman... For her time... *** Life With Mother and Father...Part IV... PG13 Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series... Summary: 18 years after the events of Romance Palace...The Walthrops are dealing with life...and its tribulations... Well...Trying to... (Some of the events described here as in the past are occurring...slightly differently...in the parallel Buffy Rebecca universe story "Mona and the Monsters") Part IV... "Dadda!..." Six year old Buffy Jr. ran happily over to Will Sr. from the shop door, hugging his legs... Alysia and Alex Jr. likewise demanding Uncle Will's immediate attention... Young Philip a bit more restrained as befitted a dignified young man of eleven...Standing by his "uncle" Xander and "cousin" Sallie in the hallway of the shop near the door... "Guys?!..." Xander called to the group threatening to topple Will... Give Uncle Will a break... No!...No!...No!...said little Buffy determinedly, shaking her head...Every inch her mother's daughter... "I want my dadda...Now..." Putting up arms for a lift and hug... "Buffy..." Will eyed her... Is that the way we speak to your uncle?... "Sorry Unka Xan..." she looked apologetically back at "unka Xan"... Have they been like this all week?...Will looked at Xander... The group and Philip nervously looked at Uncle Xander... Dear ole Uncle Xander...Who understood youthful exuberance... And could overlook, surely...The occasional minor lapse in good behavior... And had promised not to mention the several minor incidents that had occurred in the course of the past week... Including the relative modest damage to the Harris' patio door windows...And the pool... And the car... And the cat...After all, poor Buf Jr. had sobbed her eyes out over the cat thing... And it would recover...In time... Well, seeing as he'd already kept the worst from "Aunt" Anya...Whose sense of discipline was a trifle more developed... Eh...They've been great...kindly Uncle Xander noted... Eyeing the group... "I'll bet..." Will Sr. frowned... "Unka Xander made us a castle in the woods..." little Buffy informed her father excitedly. A big castle...she noted proudly... No doubt complete with turrets, a working drawbridge, electrical wiring, and running water...Will grinned at Xander as he and Sallie came forward... Philip meanwhile coming over to the group around Will, having decided to offer his father a hearty greeting and manly handshake... "Dad..." he nodded...Manfully... All quiet on the Harris front?...Will Sr. eyed him, grinning... I see you got sis back in one piece...Well done, Philip... Phil beamed...Assignment successfully completed... "Mom around?..." he tried to keep the anxious edge out... Scoping out the shop as he did so... Hanging at home with the weird sisters...Will noted... And fine...As always...he added kindly... Poor Phil having only recently learned some details of his parents' "side career"...the hard way, much to his parents' intense regret...And to the intense suffering of the demon gang who'd tried an assault on Buffy and her younger son two weeks ago at the Mall...was understandably... But fortunately Will and Buffy had gone through this before with Will Jr and Amelia...As had Xander and An with Sallie... "Where's Anya?" Will looked at Xander... Fetching lunch from her favorite place...Xander replied...Rolling eyes at the ceiling... A response mirrored by the children... And given spoken form by the forthright Buffy Jr... "Tofu and soy burgers...Yuck!..." she made a face... "Aunt" and Mommie Anya, former immortal demon having become intensely health-conscious over the past 18 years...At least where her family and friends were concerned... It was bad enough they had to die someday...And that the adults' world-saving and admittedly (very reluctantly) necessary side work put them all at great risk... Nobody...But nobody...Among her loved ones was gonna die of unhealthy lifestyle if she could help it... *** "Don't see why Joycee gets the whole basement..." Will Jr. groused to his mom... Will...Buffy sighed... Amelia is the oldest...And she's eighteen now... She'll be off to college soon enough... "Yeah...But what if she goes to UCal-Sunnydale in the end...And stays here...?" Well...Buffy paused... Momentarily contemplating the idea in her heart...Her dearest wish for next year...with joy...and fear... If only...she thought...Well... "You'll be off after next year..." she sighed...Staring at him... So much like his dad...Except for the blood-drinking and aversion to daylight of course, thank God... "I kinda think I'll do UCal-Sunnydale myself..." he noted... She smiled wanly at him...My sweet Will...Just like his dad... Hanging around to protect ole Buffy... And I used to think I'd never get any reward for my Slaying... Oh... A clot of fear at her heart... "Well...William..." she hesitated... "You gotta do what's right for you...And not plan your life around protecting your dad and me..." After all...she smiled at him... We've done preety well all these years on our lonesome... With the rest of the gang's help... "Well...Maybe I just happen to prefer UCal...And Sunnydale is a good school with free state tuition..." Will noted... A determined look in his face... A look she...Buffy and Cicely...Had seen before... The look of a man who could spend a century in torment, hanging on by a crumb of hope... Not someone to be driven off easily...Even if to safety... I'll never get him away...Buffy thought...He won't go no matter what we do... My second Will will never be safe... None of my children will ever, ever be safe... But...As Will Sr. had pointed out countless times...Desperate to comfort himself as well as her...Even if the children moved away, were hidden somewhere...The underworld might track them, catch them alone, far away from where their parents and the others could protect them... And, in the end...We send them to a place of perfect safety, if one existed...And they get hit by a car crossing the street to get a carton of milk... One day at a time, Buffy...We get them...All of them...All our extended family...Through life...One day at a time... And, if we do lose any of them...We know...As no one else does... It's not forever... A special providence in the fall of a sparrow...As another Will once said... If not to come, it will be now...If not now, it will come...The readiness is all... Course...A nervous Spike had been quick to point out via Anya...The only other person besides Will who could hear him...From the first time Will had tried to console her with that "fall of a sparrow" philosophy...That Will didn't take much more comfort from that crap than he did... Poor ole Spike...The one really to suffer most if any of them were ever lost... Because...poor demented, condemned thing...he'd be the one least likely to ever have a chance to see them again... *** Life With Mother and Father...Part V... PG13 Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series... Summary: 18 years after the events of Romance Palace...The Walthrops are dealing with life...and its tribulations... Well...Trying to... (Some of the events described here as in the past are occurring...slightly differently...in the parallel Buffy Rebecca universe story "Mona and the Monsters") Part V... *** After "Aunt" Anya's arrival, bearing her tofu/soy burgers... "tasting just like cow", she assured them as they uniformly groaned...Will Sr. was able to take "Unka" Xan aside to tell him the details of Mephisto's little date night with Dawn... Fortunately Mr. M was almost as grandiosely egotistical as Angelis...And nearly as slow- moving...So that Dawn had emerged unscathed... Except for having to face a major lecture from her elder sister on the perils of personal ads and blind dating... But Dawny was ok?...Xander nervously eyeing Will...No concealed bite scars, that sort of thing...? Fine, checked out throughly clean...She was picking up Abe and Sarah at the Rosenbergs' even as they spoke, Will noted... Phew...Xander smiled...Thank God vamps never seem to learn from past mistakes... Still... "Will..." he grinned at his "elder brother"... "Never gets any easier does it?..." Well...Will sighed... "There are times when I think of what I have to lose now...And how safe from hurt I was trapped within Spike 18 years ago..." And I wonder if the Powers That Be are just setting us up for suffering...Their little ironic joke on us all... But...Then I see my gang...And Buffy...And think...Well, perhaps these little jolts are just to remind us...Just to shake us out of our routine and remind us...How precious a gift life really is... And how transitory... "You sound like our Reverend Father himself..." Xander grinned at him... Exactly! Right on the nose, ole Xan!...See poof...Spike cried happily within... Even ole Xan sees the connection...You're becoming Broodo Jr. "Gad forbid...But I do go on about it sometimes..." Will chuckled at Xander and noted within to his demonic "brother"... Borderline unforgivable, there, bro...he teased to the demon...And never forget who can pull the plug on your communications system to Buffy and the kids... Uhhh...Spike groaned... "I think our friend Mephisto will need a lesson in manners after our visitors leave..." Will noted... Another poof...An actor?...As vamp king?...God, what is the demon world coming to?...Spike groused within... A old fashioned big crypt raid?...Xander grinned...With Rileyware grenades, flame thrower, and the whole bit?... Well...Lets remember we're responsible adults now, old pal...Will grinned... And Sunnydale cemeteries need no more unnecessary vandalization... But...I think it's time to take a tougher line with our current vamp king...And remind him...And any lucky survivors...Of the benefits of a strict "hands-off" policy towards the Slayer's kin... "Well...An will freak a little...But I'll be there..." Xander noted... I've got this new super-resistant armored body suit...Sort of a flexible "less-puffy Xander suit" I've been dying to try out... No doubt An will be there as well...he sighed... Well...Wouldn't be fair any other way...And I ordered two suits, just in case... Xander paused, looking at his friend... That touch of gray hair dye in his blonde-brown looks good on him...Buf finally got it just right... The distinguished author and book/magic shop owner, William S. Walthrop at "forty-one"...Or did they decide to call it "forty-five"?...Adding the years he spent in Sunnydale pre-chip to his 21 year old death date and the last chipped and finally, thank African demon god, souled years... Well, in any case...That light touch of phony aging thing looks good on him...Buf was overdoing it before... We've all aged preety well these years...Though thank God An did manage to get my weight back down after we married... And thank God, Sallie can occasionally slip me a Doublemeat Special behind Mom's back... Will was hesitant about something...But, as a father himself...And facing some of the same unique parenting challenges, he could guess... "Phil make out all right this week?..." Will looked at him... He's fine...Tough lad our Phil, like our brother Phil back in 1880...Spike noted within... A hair nervous, his demon "bro"...Will realized... "Yeah..." Xander nodded... A nightmare or two...But we kept an eye on him...And I think he'll deal ok... "Tough way to learn about things..." Will noted, a little sadly... You think I should have told him before?...he eyed Xander... "He's only 11, Will...I don't intend to go into it with Alex and Alysia until they're at least 14..." Unless... Hmmn...Will smiled ruefully, nodding...You can never quite guard against...Unless... "He's a tough kid, Will...And now he knows why his Mom and Dad slip out at night...And why his Dad has to always go through an elaborate ceremony to take him out in daylight...And get back before that ceremony wears off..." He has to learn sometime...Xander noted sympathetically... We did...The kids all do... "Right, Spike?..." Xander grinned... Yeah...the demon sighed within...As Will did without... So...Shall we go try to force a tofu burger down?...Will smiled at Xander...Who groaned... Gotta set that good example there, papa...Will teased him... At least you can wash it down with some nice spicy blood...Xander hissed back as they headed out to a beaming Anya... Happily engaged in seeing that her non-adult loved ones extend their potential lifespans via good nutrition... At whatever cost in groans and moans... *** Hey...Dawn waved from her car at Abe and Sarah... Profoundly grateful as she was to have any excuse to escape yet another Buffy-Cicely lecture, she'd jumped at the chance to pick up Willow's kids at their grandparents... Naturally for their part, getting picked up by "Aunt" Dawn was the neatest of all possible arrangements...She being the closest in age...And still suffering, at a distance in New York generally, but still...From Buffy's watchful parental eye...They found her quite simpatico to their travails with Willow... "How's things with your gramps?..." Dawn eyed them Ok...Sarah noted...I told them Mom takes us to temple, keeps kosher...Without adding the "whenever possible"...And they were happy... They give you their best...And Grandma still has someone she'd like you to meet, Dawn...Sarah grinned... "How'd your date with that guy go, by the way?..." Abe asked her curiously... *** Meanwhile, as she and her elder son waited for Willow and Amelia to complete their course in interior decoration, Buffy the Mom was facing her greatest challenge... Will Jr. had some...Questions... About our nemesis Mephisto?...Well, see...she dodged... Knowing exactly what was up...He'd already tried to start this one before... Several times...Especially since he'd started dating Annie... Mom...I'm not talking about your work... Though if you have anything new to tell me there...he paused... See...This is about... Girls... "Ask your father..." Buffy's automated response popped out... Mom...? "Dad always tells me to ask you..." Will Jr. frowned... Aw...That's so sweet of him...she thought...The gutless little... But in our day a gentleman took the lead in such matters and a lady... Refrained...her Cicely half hastily noted within... Hmmn... Still the kid wanted to know...And was still willing to ask his parents... Amazing, remembering her young Buffy days... "Well...William..." she hesitated... It's a difficult subject... But... Never do anything to unduly upset your girl...she noted... Always listen to her...Pay attention, Will... Don't make her feel like you're taking control of things...But... Help her out if she's stuck or needs help... And if she starts crying for no reason... Tell her you're sorry... And you're there for her... You know...Be like your father... And you'll do just fine...she concluded... The past 18 years having consigned much to the dusty cabinets of forgotten memory, obviously... Although...If one ignored the prechipped years... "But...Mom..." Will Jr. looked at her helplessly... I wanted to ask about... "Will?!..." Buffy put her Cicely face on...Her shocked Victorian Cicely face on... Ask your father... *** Life With Mother and Father...Part VI... PG13 Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series... Summary: 18 years after the events of Romance Palace...The Walthrops are dealing with life...and its tribulations... Well...Trying to... (Some of the events described here as in the past are occurring...slightly differently...in the parallel Buffy Rebecca universe story "Mona and the Monsters") Part VI... *** William S. Walthrop, Sr., hero of countless conflicts with evil, including his century long battle with his own demon consciousness...Not to mention that demon consciousness, the fiendish Spike... And Alexander L. Harris, Sr., likewise heroic battler of evil... All three imprisoned, held captive by opponents more powerful than Angelis, Darla, Dru (demonic side), the Master, and the entire Special Projects Division (even pre-massacre) of Wolfram-Hart, Inc... "Buffy..." William groaned... Move your foot, sweetheart... "Stay down, dadda!.." Buffy Jr. demanded...Firmly squatting on her father's prone form... As likewise Alysia with Alex Sr... "Picta, Auntie Anya!..." Buffy Jr. insisted to her "aunt" holding a camera...A moment to preserve for posterity...William the Bloody and the mighty Xander Harris brought low... Alex Jr. (They ignored the middle "D'Hoffryn" name, Alex Sr. having always hated his middle name anyway) and Phil preferring to refrain from such childish antics... While Sallie Harris watched from the counter... Someone had to be responsible for the family business...Besides she was part-time during the week at the Sunnydale Box now... And she'd inherited her mother's passion for retail... "I never do this again after eating tofu burgers..." Xander wryly noted to Will from across the floor... This remind you of the old days, bro?...All those times after Buffy had clobbered us yet again?...Will teased Spike... Shut up...And look poofily defeated for our lil' Buf...the demon growled within... *** Ummn...Buffy looked round her daughter's new basement room... Amelia watching expectantly...Willow by her side... Ummn...she blinked at the lurid posters... Her Cicely half choking a bit on the "Sex Queen here!"... Two beds?...she asked hesitantly, blinking again... Why would you need...? "The other's a daybed Buf...For when her friends come over...You know..." Willow slipped to her side... Buffy looking at her...What have you done to my sweet and innocent daughter? in her eyes... "To hang..." Willow continued... You remember "hanging" right?... Amelia waiting... "Buf..." Willow hissed... "This is where easy-going Buf-mom says... 'It's great, honey...Nice job'..." Cicely-mom has to sit this one out... Buffy eyed her friend narrowly... But...She could still remember... Sigh... "It's...Great, honey...Nice job..." Amelia, reverting to Joycee, beamed happily... "And I got the basement entrance...So my friends can come right in..." Buffy glared at Willow... "Cics-mom can come back in now..." Willow nodded... "Nobody comes in here without my knowing it, Amelia..." Buffy eyed Joycee... If I have to post Clem, myself, and your father at the door in shifts... "Hey!..." Dawn called from upstairs... "Rover has secured the pups!..." she called down... Scoobie code, Dawn solemnly noted to Abe...Winking at Will Jr... "We used to talk like that all the time when I Patrolled with the gang..." Mom still does...Will Jr. replied, smiling... "Uncle Xander's idea, right?..." Sarah grinned... Well...Lets show Sarah your new room...Back in the basement Buffy smiled at Joycee...And eyed Willow slyly... "I'm sure she'd like one just like it back in England..." Payback time, ole pal... "Lets...Not..." Willow the Mom replied... Til I change a few of these posters...she noted... And make the daybed look as little like a bed as possible...she thought... *** "Hey, guys!..." Sister Tara-Drusilla grinned at the gaggle of teens rushing out to meet the LA guests...Adjusting her headgear... Habits having come back as a general thing among the few, the proud, the nunnery...Much to Tara- Dru's human Drusilla half's preference for the traditional... And useful protection for daylight excursions to boot...Even considering the protection ceremony Giles had cooked up for Will, her, and Angel that allowed some limited exposure... Tenth wedding anniversary present for Buffy and Will...She'd finally gotten her outdoor ceremony under the trees...With the new Rev. Father Angel as minister...Even if a tiny bit spoiled by her nervous need to watch over their three favorite human-souled, but still partially daylight susceptible, vampires like hawks... Hmmn...None of the lil' kids around as yet...Tara-Dru noted to herself...as Amelia, Sarah, Abe, and Will Jr. began all talking at once to her and pulling her to the door...Great...A chance to talk shop with Buf and Willow...The teens all being more or less in the know... And goof-off a little... Even human Dru having been a fun-loving girl when not under the extreme duress of facing dear old Angelis and his tortures... She nodded responses at the gang, not trying to make sense of the four different rapid-fire teen conversations just yet... Just relishing the chance to be part of the extended Scoobie family once again... And continuing her mental efforts to come up with something perfect to say to dear Willow...Who was clearly hesitating as well...Hanging back with Buffy and Dawn inside... Yeah...Something perfect...Loving, but not ole Tara days overwhelmingly so... "Blessings on this house..." Rev. Father Angel piously noted...Smiling benevolently at the general group... The teens having been ordered to join their moms and Dawn...from the doorway...Part respect, part sensible caution while Willow's specialized barrier spell scanned for soul presence... Ditto...Sister T-D gave a wave... Whoops!...the reverend sister did a double-take at the door, faking a barrier block... "Who put up a new barrier?..." she groused...And grinned as she entered... The reverend father frowning at such levity from his associate in the Church... "Never can get used to vampires as nuns and priests..." Sarah whispered to her mom... What about all the crosses and holy water stuff...? Like in the movies... "It's like I've told you, honey..." Willow whispered back... "We learned this way back when Adam brought vamps into a church...The effect on vamps is all based on what they believe...If their human selves thought it would hurt them, the vamp experiences the effect...Tara, er...Tara-Dru and Angel are souled and know better, so it doesn't bother them..." After all, Rabbi Mordecai back home is half-demon... *** "Do you understand your instructions, my dear?..." Mephisto asked...As he stood in the large main room of the Sunnydale Cold Storage Warehouse, his latest lair, protectively surrounded by his sired offspring and various enthralled humans...In front of one of his "pet" humans, a kneeling young enthralled brunette dressed in jogging outfit... "Yes...Master..." she noted quietly... I am to jog to the street of the Slayers...Stop by their home...And deliver your message... Before sunset... "Excellent..." he smiled at her... And then eternal peace will be your reward... "I exist only to serve you, Mephisto..." she replied... So...Red-haired, tall vampiress Gretchen looked at the girl and noted to her fellow vamp, Cheryl...A shorter, brown-haired female...As they stood in an outer group some distance away from Mephisto and his subject... "She isn't gonna be one of us...Too bad..." Haven't had any new females to get news from in a while...And all the human ones just wanna worship at the Boss' feet...Never wanna just hang a bit before dinner... Shame...Cheryl agreed...But maybe the Boss'll let us go hunting tonight...And we can do a new girlfriend... "I'd settle for just gettin' to read some magazines...Geesch...We can't even have a TV in here...Let alone 3D..." All for our own protection, Grech...Cheryl noted... Boss just wants to keep the family safe from the Slayers, you know... Yeah...Grech nodded dutifully...Eyeing Margaret, the brunette human, as she rose and headed for the door to the exit hallway, intently focused on carrying out her orders... Might be safer for us if he'd stop trying to get the Slayers...We just keep gettin' 'em madder at us...She did not say... Kinda felt a little sorry for the poor kid, she noted to Cheryl...A waste of good vamp material, not to mention a couple of good meals in her... And it's not like this is likely to stop the Slayers...She again did not say...Rather wisely... Mephisto not being one to take criticism well...At least not since his transformation... *** Life With Mother and Father...Part VII... PG13 Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series... Summary: 18 years after the events of Romance Palace...The Walthrops are dealing with life...and its tribulations... Well...Trying to... (Some of the events described here as in the past are occurring...slightly differently...in the parallel Buffy Rebecca universe story "Mona and the Monsters") Part VII... Rev. Father Angel took his favorite chair in the Summers-Walthrop living room with pleasure... "I see you and Will have done a little more remodeling, Buffy..." he noted pleasantly... Just some painting and papering...Buffy replied... "Place looks great..." Sister Tara-Dru nodded at the walls, sitting on the sofa, surrounded by Amelia, Sarah, Will Jr., and Abe... Dawn grabbing the last things from the kitchen...Hoping to win a reprieve from a discussion of her previous night's "date" with Sunnydale's vampire king... Willow hanging back...Smiling a little nervously...By Buffy... Ummn...she cleared her throat... "When do Wes, Cordy, and Connor get here?..." she asked the reverend sister, headpiece now removed with Sarah's help... Off-duty, Tara-Dru explained to Will Jr. with a grin... Angel glancing at her...A slight shadow on his face...Staring at the happy face of poor Dru... He looked back at Buffy to see her regarding him kindly... No guilts, Angel...What Angelis did is over...And you...Forgiven...her look said... But...Not forgotten...his look back at her said...With just a touch of sorrow... Never...Forgotten... "Hey, Boss..." Tara-Dru had caught the look as well... "Willow wants to know when his Highness and attendants get here..." It is alright, Angel...her kind look said in turn... As always... *** A contented Anya Harris (Books at the best performing store in the Magic Box franchise chain in perfect order as always...And well in the black, in no small part due to those best-selling authors, William S and Buffy A Summers-...Walthrop) happily took the cash register with her Sallie for a bit while the seniors Will and Alex watched the kids in the main room and quietly discussed "Assault on Crypt Mephisto"...As well as Xander's plans for building a new addition to the Harris home, a greenhouse/sunroom for An... Buffy having beforehand requested a little time to discuss topics with the LA guests that were not really ready for family time before the little ones came home... "Will, you should consider one for you and Buffy..." Xander noted... "Giles confirmed the UV resistant glass would protect you and the other guys..." It would be nice to have a permanent place to safely enjoy a little sunlight for more than an hour or two...Will agreed in a low voice... "Buf's always terrified I'll screw up Giles' protection ceremony...Or forget it altogether...Run outside with Phil or Buffy and...Poof!..." Nearly did once when lil' Buffy fell and Joycee thought she'd broken something...Barely made it back inside with her...he noted...Though it did earn me a full week of bedrest and constantly attentive Buffy-Cicely care... "Well...You should take care Will...Buffy and the older kids would never forgive themselves if you took a fatal dose of the rays on their watch..." Xander noted... Exactly...Spike groused within...And we are responsible parents now, poof-boy...Gotta show a leetle consideration for the wife and kiddies... Uh-huh...Will grinned back within...This coming from you, brother? Hey!...Spike hollered within...Anya perking up as she heard his faint cries within... Show me the demon, however vicious to nonfamily, who ever harmed his or her offspring, you weak-kneed Shelley imitation...he noted sternly... I mean, besides Angelis, of course...he excepted hastily... I may have killed the occasional human in my day...But nobody accuses me of being a bad parent... My apologies, bro...Will smiled within... "Spike up and about?"...Xander asked...Noting Will's lack of attention...The only visible sign to others of ole Spike's attempts to communicate when Anya was not at hand to hear him... Yeah...Will nodded...A little dispute about my lack of proper sunlight safety precautions... "Well..." Xander noted... "I hafta agree with the Demonic One on this...You can never be too safety conscious..." Exactly...Spike chimed in within...Listen to our ole pal, bro... *** Connor had...A little rendevous...Angel explained... Really...? Willow, Tara-Dru, Amelia, and Sarah eyed him... Will Jr. rolling his eyes at Abe...Rendevous?...Another girl under 21 who can't spell her own name?...God, the guy's 35 years old...He oughta stop acting like a kid and settle down... Connor...And me...Dawn sighed inwardly as she returned with some plates... Just looking for love...In all the wrong places... Buffy somewhat inclined to her eldest boy's opinion, frowned a bit...Angel...she sighed inwardly... Gotta stop encouraging this kind of thing...You're just letting the kid live your love life for you, you know... "Cordy and Wes are gonna finish up some things and bring him up tonight..." the Rev. Father concluded.... Naturally...Willow thought...After all he is the Boss nowadays, since our dear Father Angel handed the business over to him and took Holy Orders... And running it into the ground but for Wes and Cordy holding him back...Not to mention Daddy's watchful brooding eye... "He's been handling things quite well...As you saw last Friday in LA..." Angel proudly noted... Quite well...Sister T-D repeated...Eyeing Willow with a barely suppressed grin... As you saw...she likewise repeated... Silently reminding them all of Connor's behavior at the restaurant Angel had taken them all to at the end of their LA day with the visiting Rosenberg-Gileses... Strutting like the uncrowned king of LA and almost certainly...Drunk...Laying it on thick for Dad's old partners in evil-fighting about his own exploits...While overlooking the constant and unremitting support of his ever-hovering father and the good Sister...Not to mention Wes, Cordy, and the AI staff... Still the good Sister T-D couldn't be too hard on poor Connor...Much as she wanted to shake him with fear, Drusilla-style, every once in a while...He was an unquestionably brave and basically good-hearted fellow...Who'd had a tough time and a pretty rough upbringing...So...She hastily added... "Connor's sure to be a credit to the firm, Angel...He's certainly got the heart for it..." "If...He'd just settle down a bit...Meet a nice girl..." Or boy...Abe whispered to Will Jr., grinning... Abe...Will Jr. frowned...Whispering back... What Spike says to Aunt Anya is not to be trusted...You know he loves to make fun of Angel and Connor... Besides...He's only a demon, not a mind reader...It's just his opinion...And Dad didn't agree... Abe shrugged... Not that there would be anything wrong with that, my son...Will Jr. whispered in a fine imitation of the Rev. Father...Pious look in his eye...Abe chortling, trying to make it look like a cough... Boys...Buffy silently caught them with a low-intensity glare...I don't even have to hear you to know...that glare said... "Say, Aunt Buffy...?" Sarah called from her place by the living room window... "You know that girl?..." she pointed...Years of training by her Watcher father kicking in... Buffy came over, followed by Willow, Dawn, and Sister Tara-Drusilla... "She's been round the street twice...And stopped here both times..." Gotta be human or daylight-capable demon at this time of day...Sarah noted... Cute...Abe looked at Will Jr. as they came to the window...Angel rising from his chair... God, lets hope she's not some pizza-faced freak under the human...he hissed to his friend... The girl had continued on...But had definitely eyed the group through the window... "Ok, guys...Basement...Amelia will show you her new room now..." Buffy told them in her best inflexible Cicely tones, eyeing Willow and Angel... "Dawn..." Buffy signaled her sis, who marshaled the reluctant teens to the basement...Will Jr. looking intently at his mother at the door... "Go on, William..." she smiled at him... Everything will be fine...It always is, right?... He frowned at her and nodded... "If she swings by again, let me go talk to her..." Tara-Drusilla suggested... "It might be just a coincidence...Besides...She'll tell me if there's anything up..." Willow grinned faintly at her...That's my girl... Was my girl...she sighed inwardly... "It's my magnetic personality..." the good Sis grinned back... "We'll both go..." Angel said, moving towards the door... No...Buffy shook her head... And smiled at her guests... My house, guys...The young lady's here to see me... "I promise...In LA the unwanted visitations are all yours...But here..." she grinned... "Let me come at least Buffy..." Tara-Drusilla insisted... I can get her to tell us what's up you know...Without having to risk hurting her... *** Angel agreeing to wait on the front steps, protected by the front awning and a hat...Buffy and Sister Tara-Drusilla, the good Sister well protected by her habit and gloves...Waited in the street, a little distance from the house... The young brunette was making her third circuit...Either very worn by her run or... Enthralled, Tara-Drusilla hissed to Buffy... No question... The girl halted and stared at them, coming over slowly... "What do you want here?..." Buffy asked her sternly... "Slayer..." the wan girl intoned...Definitely human, Buffy realized... "Mephisto begs you to accept his greetings on this, the anniversary of his transformation..." So that's it...Buffy thought as she hastily ran for the girl, knocking her to the ground before she could push the concealed button on the small bag strapped about her waist... No wonder he's been so antsy these past two weeks...It's his vamp birthday...er death day...she held the girl pinned as Margaret raved, desperately struggling to reach the detonation button... And he intends to mark the occasion... "Mephisto!...Master, I know my duty!..." the poor girl was practically foaming at the mouth... Damn him...It's that actor's magnetism...Spike and Angelis had it too...Buffy noted...As Tara-Dru beside her tried to calm the girl and they considered the best way to knock her out without inflicting permanent damage... And after all...Angel had his brood...And Will's always been terrific in reading Shakespeare for the kids... "It's all right, Angel!..." Sister Tara-Drusilla cried to him as the Rev. Father began hastening toward them...Out of the protection of the awning...Holding his homburg firmly to his head... "Stay back, Angel!..." Buffy likewise called... "We've got her..." He moved back, slightly burned on the hands...Watching anxiously... "Mom!!..." Amelia cried from the side, having broken away from Willow, Dawn, and the others in the basement... Damn...Buffy looked up in shock...We are boarding that basement door up tomorrow... Hmmn...she quickly noted...Maybe there's a silver lining in this after all... "Go Back, Amelia!!!" Buffy screamed...Easing off the squirming girl just a bit... Margaret made a desperate lunge and threw the Slayer back...Slipping out of the Sister's mild hand hold as well... A dedicated young enthrallee there, Sister Tara-Drusilla noted to herself... Margaret moved to set off her bomb...Buffy grabbed her by the wrist of the hand fumbling for the button with one hand and the throat by the other... "You..." she coldly eyed the wan girl who'd threatened her children...Her friends...A moment away from her first human kill... Buffy!...Tara-Dru cried... "She can't help herself!..." the Sister grabbed the Slayer's arm and pulled it back...Holding Margaret's other arm in her own... Buffy blinked at her friend...Drusilla's pleading face staring at her...Shielded by her rather large headpiece... My husband's murderess...And yet... The one who brought us back safely together... "Please Buffy...We can't abandon a soul to the darkness...Not if anything can be done..." Margaret struggling helpless in their mutual grip... Buffy nodded, calming a bit...And put her other hand, that had been ready to strangle, on Margaret's left arm, held by Tara-Dru... "See what you can do..." she told her friend...Eyeing her... A soul of steel under that wan waif look...Steel and compassion in equal mixture... Like my sweet Will...Buffy thought...Who likewise insists on trying to help whenever there seems the slightest chance for redemption or salvation in our victims... No wonder his soul, hovering desperately about Spike, had heard her poor soul's tormented cries from within the horror that had taken her body... "Mephisto!...Master!..." the girl cried out, twisting in their grip... "Sweetheart..." Tara-Drusilla looked at Margaret... What is your name, love?...You can tell me... You want to tell me...she fixed her eyes on Margaret's whenever the girl turned towards her... Margaret calmed and stared at her... "Look in my eyes, Sweetheart...Be in my eyes..." Tara-Dru intoned... What's your name?... "Margaret..." the girl replied...Staring into the Sister's eyes... "Margaret...What a lovely name...Who are you, Margaret...?" Tara-Dru asked kindly... I...I am...Servant to Mephisto...I must...she began struggling again... "No...Honey...No..." the Sister gently called to her... Margaret, you don't have to do this...You don't want to die, honey... "My lord says I must...Complete...If I truly love him..." No...He hurt you, Margaret...You don't love him... "I..." Tell us how he hurt you Margaret...You remember how he hurt you... "They...Those...Girls...Things...Grabbed me...A couple of nights ago...I was just..." I have to do my...Duty...she moaned... I must prove my love... "No...Sweetheart...Listen to me..." the Sister stroked her head... You were hurt by him...You were going to tell me how he hurt you...A couple of nights ago... Margaret stared at her...Yes... He took me in there...In the dark room...And he... "I know..." Tara-Dru hugged her as she burst into tears... I know... Buffy cautiously removed the girl's belt and bag...Calling to Angel to have Willow or Dawn bring up a bucket of water...Quick... A moment later Willow came out from the front door with a bucket, staring at the group in the street... "Alls well..." the Rev. Father smiled at her...Rubbing his burned hands... Thanks be to our Slayer, our dear Sister, and our Boss... *** Life With Mother and Father...Part VIII... PG13 Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series... Summary: 18 years after the events of Romance Palace...The Walthrops are dealing with life...and its tribulations... Well...Trying to... (Some of the events described here as in the past are occurring...slightly differently...in the parallel Buffy Rebecca universe story "Mona and the Monsters") Part VIII... Having gotten an ambulance for poor Margaret, doused her bomb first in water and then in a magics shielded container...The group at the Summers-Walthrop's gathered to discuss the situation... Buffy hoping to avoid the need to inform her William of the little incident when he and Xander bring the little ones home... Poor lamb frets enough for his family already...she noted... "I think it's pretty clear Mephisto wasn't expecting poor Margaret to take you out..." Sister Tara-Dru noted... "A quick knock at the door, maybe a scream for help would've been much more effective...And the bomb required her to set it off, rather than just goin' boom by remote control..." He was aiming at your soul, Buffy...He knows you better than you think...And he hoped you'd kill that poor girl in a rage when you saw what she was up to... "He nearly succeeded...I'll give him that..." Buffy nodded grimly... Before noting the kids eyeing her...And the Reverend Father frowning at her slightly... Oops...Her Cicely quickly kicked in to deal... "I don't mean that, of course, guys..." she smiled wanly at them... "Father..." she nodded at Angel... I was just upset...Don't worry, my human score is still firmly set at zero...I didn't even do in old Halfreck when she was restored to Humanity... Much as I...Still...Would like to've...she did not say... "Let us give appropriate thanks for our blessed delivery from evil..." the Rev. Father suggested... Of course, Buffy hastily noted...Both grateful for the change of subject and her Cicely side in particular rather grateful for some spiritual comfort... "Times like these you're wondering "Why did I ever have kids?"..." Sister Tara-Dru whispered to her as the group gathered round Angel in the living room... Willow slipping over to them... No...Buffy shook her head just a hair...Whispering back... That and being with William...I never question... "Though I may wish sometimes I'd carried out my plan to vamoose with him back in 1880...Had the kids and a normal life in the peaceful surroundings of Outer Mongolia..." Eh...Spike and Dru crossed the Gobi into there once, back in 1942...Place is full of sandworm demons...Tara-Dru hissed back...Grinning at Willow who grinned back... "Sorry bout this, Wil..." Buffy hissed to her... Mr. M's bomber...? No problem...Willow smiled... "However...If my mother ever finds out I let my kids attend a Catholic prayer service..." "I'm sure Angel can come up with something non-denominational..." Tara-Dru smiled... *** Against her inclination, Buffy reluctantly gave Will Sr., Xander, and Anya an edited account of Mephisto's little bombing run shortly after their arrival with the little ones... Time to give his Spike his occasional ration of violence...Perhaps a year's worth...Will noted...With Spike's enraged approval...Though even Spike accepted the need to keep a temporary lid on things for the young kids' sake... The demon being quite pleased to see his human "brother" willing to suspend his usual "give peace a chance" approach in this particular case... When the "brothers" Walthrop caught up to that poof poseur ham actor #$%#! of a vamp "king"... It's a shame, in a way...Dawn thought...Solely to herself of course...He was such a cute guy...And nearly as nice as I remember Mr. Mechamber being...Though only for the first couple of hours... But I suppose it's not a relationship with a future...Though I would note the most successful Buffy relationships have been with vampires... No wonder we hit it off...For the first coupla hours, anyway... *** Having watched the little kids settle in the playroom Will Sr. and Xander had added to the house years ago...Along with two bedrooms...Phil slipped over to his brother...Eyeing his mom who seemed rather angry about something... Will Jr. looked at him... "Hey buddy...Lil' sis and Dad ok?.." Phil nodded... "How's Mom?" he asked... She looks a little...Was there any...? "She is a little...There was...a little...trouble..." Will Jr. grinned at his younger brother...Dropping his voice a bit...Alyssa and Alex Jr. being somewhat near on the sofa...And still somewhat clueless as yet regarding the Slayer business... But he hastily noted that it had been nothing she couldn't handle... "Hey Philip..." Sister Tara-Dru came over for a hug... How's it going kiddo...? she eyed him...Well aware that he had recently learned of his mom and dad's side profession... "I'm floating, nun-lady...You ok?..." Phil grinned at her... "Just keeping myself out of trouble till you get bigger, babe..." she smiled back... Then it's the big decision...Jesus or you, cutie...she tickled him... Will Sr. smiling at them a moment...Drusilla at peace at last...Happily tickling his second-born son in her arms... Yeah, yeah...Spike grumbled within...The African trip wasn't such a bad idea... "How's Mom?..." Phil pulled back to eye her as Will Jr. moved off...Partially to escape Sallie and Anya Harris' mutual glare... "Ok...There was a little ruckus earlier..." the sister paused... "But nothing she couldn't deal with?..." Phil finished... "Except that it freaked her to be bothered here at home, babe...Go be her little boy for her..." Tara-Dru smiled at him...Glancing over at Buffy, standing by her Will Sr... She needs it right now... *** "You're sure...?" Mephisto eyed Samuel, a tall, dark-haired vampire...Practically a son to him, as he often told him... "Got as close as I could given the time of day, sir..." Samuel nodded... "So...Dear Mrs. Summers-Walthrop decided to spare our poor Margaret...And Margaret didn't even get to go out with a bang...What a pity..." the vampire "king" sighed...Tapping his fingers together... Thank you, Samuel...he nodded... "You know that I feel towards you exactly as I would towards my own son...You are after all, my son...In a way..." But...he goes on... Uh-oh...Samuel eyes him...Gulping...After all...He's what...The hundredth "beloved son"...? "If one loses one son it's always possible to get another..." Staking Samuel to the general consternation... "Never bring me bad news on my birthday, people..." Mephisto eyed the group... Guess it's not the time to ask if we could go visit Margaret in the hospital...Cheryl hissed to Gretchen... *** Anger having cooled a bit, Buffy sat by a standing William...Eyeing family and friends a bit wanly... Phil came over a little hesitant... "Hey...There's my guy..." Buffy smiled at him, hugging him... Tight...With an eye as to those old Slayer muscles of course... "Don't be sad, Mom..." he whispered in her hair... Never with you here, Philip...she whispered back... "I'm ok..." she hissed... And relaxed her hold a hair... "You don't mind Mommie getting all mushy?..." she grinned... You're away a week and I start falling apart...she told him...Only half joking... *** After the teens and Phil had taken Alyssa and Alex out for volleyball in the back yard, she brightened on hearing Xander bring up plans for an assault on Mephisto and his minions... And rather enjoyed his enthusiastic description of his new armored body suit... "Lets just hope Mephisto hasn't relocated to an island on Lake Sunnydale...Or into the sewer system..." Anya noted... We'd sink like a couple of lead weights in these things... "Where the heck is our vamp actor residing now, anyway?..." Willow asked... "Not sure...He likes to move around a lot...We've kept up the pressure on him as we could over the years..." Will Sr. replied... But he does leave a trail thanks to his extended vamp family...And his egotistical habit of leaving clues... "A touch of "the Riddler" about him, eh...?" Xander noted... Former actor's need for an appreciative audience, I guess...Buffy smiled... "Mr. Mechamber was a nice guy..." Dawn interjected...With an innocent look at her frowning sister... "That musta been quite a good disguise he was in..." Willow grinned at her... "Oh yeah..." Dawn began...Breaking off as she caught Sis' Cicely glare... Saved only by Angel's coming over to enter the conversation...Diverting Buffy's attention... A true and blessed miracle...Tara-Dru's grinningly pious glance at Dawn said... Dawn smiling back...With true gratitude to the Almighty... The conversation now however took a turn to William's discomfort... The same old bugaboo...Raked up yet again by dear old Father Angel... Sanctimonious blowhard... Who now chose to ask dear Buffy if Will had reconsidered... Hmmn...She glared at him... "I'm working on him..." "Please do Buffy..." Angel beamed benevolently at William... "And Will, please think it over...It may seem unimportant to you, but...To our dear Buffy...Your family...God himself..." Sister Tara-Dru eyed William...Sorry, Will...Still...Maybe...Her look sheepishly said... "You know...It couldn't hurt..." she noted... He rolled his eyes... Xander couldn't help grinning...The picture in his mind was too good... William the Bloody dragged kicking and screaming to a beaming Father Angel standing by the baptismal font...With himself as godfather... "What's the deal?..." Willow asked him, looking at Will and Buffy... Well...William looked over at her, sighing... *** "Buffy...And Cicely...Is...Or are...Upset...Because..." he began... "He's never been baptized!..." Buffy blurted... Baptized...? These guys and their bizarre denominations...Can never figure them out...Willow thought... I didn't know Buffy opted for Catholic...she hissed to the sister... Or Baptist...Guess they do that too... "Nah...The Walthrops are Anglicans...Or Episcopalian here in America...But they're preety close to us..." Tara-Dru replied... I'll draw you a family tree of the church connections sometime...she grinned at Willow... *** "See...His recovered soul has to be baptized..." a dutiful Anglican Cicely-Buffy continued... William sighed... It's the Anglican thing to do...Buffy asserted... "Otherwise we won't all go to Heaven together..." "Now...Sweetheart...That's ridiculous..." William replied, a trifle peeved... "You're letting Cicely memories...(And the Brooding Reverend Twit here...he did not say)...Get the better of you...This is the twenty-first century, after all...And the land of separation of Church and State..." Besides... My mother...And yours...he eyed her...Never committed to any church... "I refuse to believe they're not in Heaven just because they didn't sign up with a travel service..." Hmmn...Willow thought...I've never been baptized... And have no intention of doing so... Is that Cicely half trying to hint something...? *** Life With Mother and Father...Part IX... PG13 Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series... Summary: 18 years after the events of Romance Palace...The Walthrops are dealing with life...and its tribulations... Well...Trying to... (Some of the events described here as in the past are occurring...slightly differently...in the parallel Buffy Rebecca universe story "Mona and the Monsters") Part IX... Dawn now went off to check on the little ones outside...Giving due thanks for the beneficent intercession of the Almighty...In the form of a well-meaning Reverend Father Angel...Who'd diverted her sis' attention away from her little dating mishap of the previous evening... To find Buffy Jr. and Alysia Harris constituting a raucous cheerleading squad for each of their respective volleyball teams... *** Within the house, Buffy was giving free rein to her Cicely-sided concern for dear Will's soul... He had to be baptized...Whether he found it a ridiculous and superstitious procedure or not... A man who truly loved his family...she noted stiffly...A true Victorian gentleman, minus the less- attractive features of some gentlemen of that era...Would do the right thing...Regardless of any fears of personal humiliation or embarrassment... Perhaps...The last century had required some compromises to be made with tradition...Perhaps...Some of those compromises were even...Beneficial... Even...Just... Her Buffy side, naturally...Was all for modernity and compromise... Even the Cicely in her could appreciate and applaud the many good things that the century had brought... But the bedrock values...The enduring ones...Faith, honor, commitment...The true heart...Were still legitimate... And this was a proof of his love...And a test of his devotion... Will sighed... "Buffy...Cicely..." Darling... "For God's...(she glared a bit)...er Gawd's..." he corrected... "Sake..." You know...You knew, Cicely...I was always a free-thinking type... Even before Spike popped up... "Brother Will..." the Reverend Father cut in... "Surely this is a small matter...Easily rectified..." Just to give your beloved wife a little extra peace of mind... "Yeah..." Buffy nodded vigorously... "Buffy..." Will eyed her with a determined look...Reinforced by his annoyance at Angel's unrequested in-butting... "A man must stand by his principles...Especially a man of the Victorian era...Even in this rather easy-going century of ours..." She looked at him, eyes narrowing... Last time I saw that look...At that intensity...Sister Tara-Dru noted to herself...I was on the receiving end, still trapped with demonic Dru...And just lucky to have Giles and Willow standing ready with the curse... The gang braced for an old-fashioned Buffy explosion... But being the Slayer, she naturally did the unexpected... Bursting into tears and racing for the bedroom...Which she immediately locked... Leaving William standing sheepishly by the door... The rest of the group, still in the living room, looked at each other... Will Jr. entered from outside to fetch soda...And saw the looks... And heard his father calling to his mother through the door... Oh, God...Not again... "Baptism?..." he eyed Sister Tara-Dru...Who nodded...Shaking her headdress... Baptism... *** "I don't see what your brother sees in Annie Faux..." Sallie Harris noted to Amelia...Who sat with her, along with Dawn in the Summers-Walthrop backyard as they watched the younger ones at volleyball... "What they all see..." Amelia shook her head... She's cute and says whatever she thinks will please 'em...Usually gets it right too... "I'd expected better from William..." Sallie sadly replied...Shaking her head in turn... Well...He didn't mean to hurt you, Sallie...Amelia began...Patting an arm... "He dumped me at my own party...Whatdaya mean he didn't wanta hurt me?..." Your dad never did that...Sallie noted... He stayed true, for a whole century...As a soul anyway... Right, Dawn?...Sallie eyed the elder woman of the group for confirmation... Absolutely...Dawn nodded solemnly...Rather pleased to be the wise and experienced one for once... "Well, at least my brother's not a killer vampire..." Amelia smiled... And never spent years trying to kill his past and future beloved... "And my dad came back..." Sallie noted rather proudly... To win Mom back after saving "Aunt" Willow with the force of his mighty...er...she pulled back a bit, anxious to avoid sounding childish in front of the sophisticated New Yorker, Dawn... Mighty, mighty love...Dawn sighed to herself...And only one Xander available...Damn... Well...Anyway...Sally continued... They don't make em like Dad and your dad anymore...she sighed...Looking down... If we were transformed to demonhood or vampirehood by a cruel trick of Fate, Melia...Can you name one guy we know who'd try to love us...Let alone save us...? Nope...Sallie answered her own question before Amelia could speak... The schmucks nowadays would run for their lives at the sight of us... "We'd be abandoned to fend for ourselves..." Right, Dawn?...Sallie turned back to the wise and experienced Dawn... 'Fraid so...Dawn nodded judiciously...Although... There are still a lot of nice guys out there...You just hafta be willing to look...Take a chance...she noted...A tad wistfully... And speaking of nice guys... "What's ole Clem doing these days?..." she asked... Oh...He married that old assistant of Angel's...What's her name...Amelia looked at Sallie... "Fred...er Winifred, I guess...?" Sallie thought a bit... I think they're coming with Wesley and Cordelia tonight... Oh...Dawn smiled, a bit frozenly... Nice guy, that Clem...For a demon... "I mean if one were shopping in that market...He'd of been one to consider..." she paused... "Excuse me, guys...I wanta get something from the house..." she got up and headed in... Poor "Aunt" Dawn...Sallie sighed to Amelia, watching her go... "You know...I think she never got over losing William to your mom..." Sallie noted... "Sallie..." Amelia frowned... "She was only 14 back then..." "What's age when true love is at stake?..." Sallie replied, sighing romantically... "Look at your parents...William was a century older...In the physical sense..." And my mom...A thousand years old...Give or take a few decades... Alex Jr. threw the volleyball at her...Knocking the soda in her hand... "Alex!..." Sallie screamed at him... "Mom will make you pay for this dress, you know!..." *** Life With Mother and Father...Part X... PG13 Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series... Summary: 18 years after the events of Romance Palace...The Walthrops are dealing with life...and its tribulations... Well...Trying to... (Some of the events described here as in the past are occurring...slightly differently...in the parallel Buffy Rebecca universe story "Mona and the Monsters") Part X... "Buffy..." Willow began as she stroked the head of a still sobbing Buffy's head in the Walthrops' still locked bedroom...Best friend Willow admitted on a conditional basis... "Don't ya think this is going a leetle overboard?" Buffy rolled over and eyed her...Eyes red... "If you were married to a human-souled vampire...Would you leave any stone unturned to make sure he...Or she...Made it safely to Heaven with you?" Well...I suppose... "Tara-Dru has her status sewed up...She's a nun for cryin' out loud..." Plus Dru was insane the whole time...Not even a trace of Tara-Dru humanity in her... Well...Almost no trace...Buffy corrected... "Yeah..But..." It's a simple thing...I just want him to spend ten minutes making sure he's got his papers in order... "Won't it...Hurt?...I mean the holy water and all...William may be a free-thinker but his soul believes that that stuff hurts vamps...So it will...Sting a little, right?" Nothing serious...Buffy noted...Certainly nothing like Glory or Africa... And if he really loves us... "You'd get baptized for Tara...Or Giles...Or the kids?...Right?" she eyed Willow... Well... "I mean if you believed it would help in getting you to Heaven with them...?" I was wondering when she'd start on me...But she doesn't really think I need it...? Maybe Will should just convert to my side...No water dunking required... "Well...Buffy, if it's so important to you...Maybe in time...If you let him make the decision without all this pressure..." "Pressure!!?...I'm saving his soul, Willow!..." Buffy glared...Propping her head on a hand with arm elbow-bent... I mean...she eyed her friend... Him being an Episcopalian now...It would be hypocrisy not to be baptized... And they resent hypocrisy up there...I should know... "Well...Is Will really one of...You?..." Willow looked at her friend, sitting up next to her head... What?... "I mean...Will doesn't really go for all that stuff, right?...And he's never been baptized...Either with the Anglicans or their US cousins...So...Where's the problem?" I mean...As he never really joined the club... Buffy blinked...As a Cicely moment overwhelmed her... "He has to be a member of the Church!...We'll be separated otherwise..." Oh...? Willow eyed her... "So...He'd be sent over to the heretical part of Heaven...? With us, maybe?..." "I didn't mean it that way, Willow..." Buffy tried to pull back... So I'll need a passport to get to come over up there to visit you guys?...Willow continued... Or will I be in the furnace section?... "Willow..." Buffy frowned... "Cicely..." Willow grinned... You know...For somebody who constantly works with pagan gods and goddesses, demons, witches, and every other non-Anglican/Episcopalian thing there might be in this world...You're one orthodox lady, Miss Addams... Buffy sighed...Ok... Stupid...I guess... Maybe...Even...A leetle...Nineteenth century... "But it would make me feel so much better, Wil..." Just a little love-gift from him to me...To show how much he cares... Hmmn...A slight feeling of discomfort on Willow's part...As Giles' sweet face appeared before her... Hell...I care, Rupert...It's just... Damn...All this over a couple of freaking little ceremonies and scraps of paper... "I guess I gotta just leave it to him...@#$%&!..." Buffy frowned, sighing... Is he still waiting by the door?...she asked...A sly grin spreading on her face... "Think so..." Willow nodded... "Hey, Will!..." she called... Yes?!...he called back, hopefully...From the door... See...she grinned at Buffy... That's good...Buffy nodded with a grin... C'mon...She got off the bed... "Tears still streaking?..." she looked at Willow... Oh, yeah...Willow nodded...Guilt trip first class... Great...Buffy beamed... *** Mephisto strode the length and breadth of the main room of the Cold Storage Warehouse...Arms folded, long fingers tapping the elbows... Boss is up...se...et...Cheryl noted to Gretchen...Keeping to the far end of the room...Out of wrath's way... And killing his latest "beloved son" didn't improve his disposition... The other vamp family members wisely following suit...The thralled humans worshipfully standing in two rows along his walked path... One dropping occasionally as he reached out and snapped a worshipful neck...Just relieving the tension... Though as a sensible fellow he immediately regretted wasting a loyal servant...And food source...Each time... He halted in mid-pace...Blinking a bit as the thought occurred to him... "We should prepare ourselves for an assault by the Slayers..." he noted to the "family" in general... I would assume they will track us down within a couple of days...We having attempted to violate their home and family twice in one week... We?...One young vamp eyed his closest neighbor...Since when was assaulting Slayers our idea?... Lovely...Gretchen noted to Cheryl...Back on the lam again...And we just started getting things nice here... "However..." Mephisto paused... "This need not be taken as a disaster...Or even a problem..." Unless we had come up with the plan...the young vamp hissed to his fellow... "We can evacuate non-essential personnel..." Us?..Cheryl whispered to Gretchen... "Meaning you...My dears..." Mephisto eyed the now feebly-protesting double row of humans... We love you, lord...a few murmured, begging not to be sent away from the Presence... Not us...Damn...Gretchen whispered back... "And we can entrench ourselves here..." the vamp lord continued... "With courage and luck...We may yet prevail..." As in...We entrench...And die fighting...He skips out to fight another day...the young vamp whispered...Having forgotten his sire's rather strong telepathic abilities... "Harold?...You have a complaint?..." Mephisto eyed him...Moving over to him... You know, son...I respect all the opinions of my followers...And in your case...I feel towards you as I would... My own son...As you are in a manner of speaking... Uh-boy... "SirIhaveanidea..." the hapless Harold barked out hurriedly...In the vague hope of avoiding immediate destruction... "Ah..." Mephisto smiled coolly but graciously...An idea... "One that might improve our chances..." Please...Mephisto smiled again... We are all attention... "The Slayers have children...They trust their children implicitly..." Harold...Mephisto sighed... We have tried...Many times...To capture or turn the Slayers' children... They are well protected by night...And out of our reach by day... "There'smoresir..." Harold hastily blurted... Ah...Mephisto released his grip on Harold's throat...And lowered his stake... Well then...Please... "The Slayers..." Harold gasped for breath... "Would never believe their children could be a source of harm to them..." Especially if they're still completely normal and untouched by any evil influence... But...he smiled a bit...They could still be used as bearers of harm...Unknowingly... "How?..." Mephisto eyed his "beloved son"... I used to be a teacher, if you remember...At Sunnydale Elementary... We used to have the kids sell things...One year...They were selling magic-laced candy... "And just how would you even enter the school by day?...Let alone persuade the school to have the children sell cursed candy...?" I don't...But you have...Rona...Harold noted... And she once sponsored school drives...I remember them...Years ago before you made her yours...For her real-estate business...Good community relations and all... Nobody'd be surprised if she did one more...Soon...They're probably surprised she hasn't done one in so long... "And she persuades the school to sell cursed candy...? Killing hundreds and costing me my best human agent?...Candy which we get from...Where?..." Oh, no...Perfectly good candy...Harold noted...I'd never suggest risking losing your real estate agent/financial planner... Nothing wrong at all with it...Except for the candy the Slayers get...From their kiddies...Just a couple of bad boxes that...Somehow...Got slipped in with the rest...A random accidental poisoning...Happens all the time... See, sir...It's nearly always the parents who buy the school candy...And I have this friend...Who, for the right price...Might be willing to poison one or two boxes...And the poison could be adjusted only to effect the Slayers...Normal humans left untouched... We do have some of their effects left from when you tried voodoo on them...he noted... Whoops...Gretchen blanched...As did Mephisto...Somewhat more angrily... Had to bring up a major past failure, didn't you, kid?...Gretchen thought... Hmmn...The vamp lord glared...Still, a reasonable boss...Who appreciated initiative in his followers...He restrained himself for now... But...His past experience with trying to destroy the Walthrops magically had not been...A smashing success... "I see some potential in your plan, boy...But..." he shook his head... Magics...I haven't a great deal of faith in them... "No, sir...not magics...Poison...Adapted to the Slayers' body chemistry..." Harold noted proudly... Which we get a handle on by studying the personal effects... Undetectable by any of their magics protections... And delivered to them by their own children... "My boy..." Mephisto beamed... A rather clever idea... "Rona!..." he called... A middle-aged, somewhat large human female in dress suit came from the desk where she'd been working...Stubbing out a cigarette...The one person in Mephisto's entourage granted the privilege... Yeah, boss?...she eyed him... "Dear...Did you hear any of young Harold's plan?..." Yeah...she stared at Harold... "Sounds like crap to me...Though maybe poisoning the Slayers isn't too bad an idea..." she noted... You should just let me shoot them or run them down with my car, though...I've told you so before...she sighed... "And risk the loss of my best human?...And the only person who understands my financial holdings...?" Mephisto shook his head... Rona...Dear... She beamed slightly in the glow of his esteem...But frowned at him...Seventeen years of thrall not having dimmed her practical nature... "It sounds a little kooky to me..." But you remember having done things like this before...? Harold eyed her... Candy drives, fancy pen drives, sponsoring walks, all of that crap?...Sure...she noted... Years ago...When I cared a little about what people in this burg thought of my business...And about what happened to humans around me... "Poisonings on the other hand...Only a few rats on a couple of my properties...Though I used to wish my cousin Harry would take a nibble or two..." She looked Harold over...Moron...Out to impress the boss...No concern for potential fallout from failure... "How can you be sure you'll get the Slayers with this?...One's almost human, the other's a vamp..." she noted... Plus if our stuff kills anyone else...You know I don't give a rat's ass about myself...she eyed Mephisto...But you... Lord...her voice briefly quavered...His enthralled servant of seventeen years... "Might be endangered...If they caught and arrested me...I couldn't watch over your holdings..." "It won't hurt anyone else..." Harold told them confidently... My friend's an expert chemist...And magics person... And she hates the Slayers...But never could risk trying to get close to them...She can analyze their body chemistries...And she'll come up with a sure-fire killer... Well...he paused...At least for Ms. Summers-Walthrop... Amy wasn't sure if poison would work on a vampire... Right...Rona threw up her hands...Sneering at Harold... So much for getting the Slayers... "But it will work on the human Slayer..." he insisted... She has no doubt about that... "Just who is this...Amy?" Rona asked... Some girl of yours?.... "Harold...?...Are you keeping human pets on your own?..." Mephisto eyed him... Strictly forbidden, you know...he noted... Owing to the potential danger of exposure... No, no...Harold hastily replied...Amy is a wiccan...I tried to take her one night a few weeks back...She brushed me off with magics... The Slayers came close by...And she got me away...Told me she hated them...They or one of their friends hurt her somehow...Cost her her family, her old life... Slayers...They do that...Gretchen noted quietly to Cheryl...Someone should really write up our side of the story sometime... I told her...he gulped...Nothing about you, sir...But that I and friends wanted the Slayers dead... She said she'd help me...If I was ever serious about getting them...But not by magics...They're too well protected and they'd detect her hand in it... But she's a chemist now as well...And she's been playing around with this idea for a while...Just needed a little help to pull it off... "Sounds like a useful addition to our family..." Mephisto noted... "She's protected herself, sir...It's pretty damned good protection too..." Against me?...Mephisto glared... Ummn...Not against your full power, I'm sure sir...But...Harold hesitated... You might damage her...Overwhelming her protections and all...And then she'd be of no use to you... The vamp lord eyed Harold narrowly... "I don't think she'd agree to come here...But she might be willing to do a meeting somewhere else..." he noted nervously... You could judge her ability for yourself, sir...And if I'm wrong about her... Your tortures will be endless...Mephisto finished... However, I have the utmost confidence in you, boy...he patted Harold's shoulder...And perhaps a willing free human on my team is a useful commodity... Free-willed humans...Rona shook her head... "Rona...If they fail...One box of poorly manufactured candy is not all that difficult to explain...A factory error..." And Harold and his friend would pay the penalty...You could even "help" the Slayers find them...As the horrified innocent used as a tool for this terrible crime...Mephisto grinned... You know, Harold...Mephisto smiled at him...I'm getting to like this plan...It sounds rather like one of our old Mona plots... *** Life With Mother and Father...Part XI... PG13 Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series... Summary: 18 years after the events of Romance Palace...The Walthrops are dealing with life...and its tribulations... Well...Trying to... (Some of the events described here as in the past are occurring...slightly differently...in the parallel Buffy Rebecca universe story "Mona and the Monsters") Part XI... A tear-streaked Buffy emerged from the Walthrop's bedroom with Willow...Glaring slightly at her stricken husband as she strode over to the living room...Apologizing to the others for her little outburst... While avoiding her husband's looks... Xander rolling his eyes...God does he know this routine... Anya watching Buffy...Hmmn... "She really shouldn't pressure poor Will like that..." she notes to her hubby...In a whisper... Xander eyeing his wife, blinking... It's really emotional blackmail...I mean...To keep it up like that...she continued... Will Jr. hearing, grinned at "Uncle" Xan... What was "Aunt" Anya's record...? Five days locked in her room when Xander insisted on helping Mom and Dad fight those magically enlarged killer shrews...Just after Alyssa Harris was born...? *** From her position at the kids' end of the dining table, young Buffy, Queen of the children's section, eyed her parents at the opposing adult end and made her usual shrewd observation... "Mooma's pissed at Dodda..." she noted to Alyssa and Dawn...Dawn having volunteered to provide the adult anchor for the younger set at table... Anything to avoid becoming her sis' primary topic of dinner conversation... "Buffy!..." Buffy called down the table... Is that the way we talk?... Whoa...Dawn thought...Her supersenses have either redoubled with age...Or it's the Mommie effect... "Sorry, Momma!..." Buffy Jr. boomed back... Sorry, Sistar...Father...she eyed Angel and Sister Tara-Dru who tried to nod solemnly but grinned... Mooma's very mad at Dodda...Buffy Jr. corrected...In a voice loud enough to be heard by all... That's my girly girl...Spike beamed within to Will... *** Anya paused from her constant glare at Will Jr. to frown at the dinner... Pasta, with sauce...Chicken with the skin on...Cheese?!...Butter?!...White bread...she rolled her eyes... Xander, beside her, patting her hand, knowing her reaction instinctively... Doesn't Buffy care?...she sighed to herself ...This is gonna cut a month...or two...from our lives at least... Still, Buffy's cooking...Xander's sure to stop after two helpings... And we are planning to risk death within the next few days assaulting Mephisto and co in their lair... But...Hell...At least this is one risk factor I can control...A leetle bit... "Two helpings...No more..." she hissed to Xander... And only a sliver of that pie for dessert...I mean sliver... *** In the living room for coffee and pie...Xander dutifully restricting himself to a sliver...Dawn utilized the skills she'd acquired at various New York functions in her career as magazine editor to direct the conversation to a discussion of Buffy's and Will's latest book projects...Not only protecting herself but earning her the earnest, quickly beamed, thanks of her brother-in-law... Outside, on the backyard deck Xander and Will had built years ago...Will Jr. and the other teens sat and stood talking in the twilight... Finding himself beside Sallie Harris, Will tried to be suitably polite and ended up rather apologetic...Both bringing nothing more than rather contemptuous replies from Sallie...Who very pleasantly asked him if her dear cousin Annie would be joining them tonight...? Home with her family for dinner...he noted... "Couldn't tear herself away for you, eh?..." Sallie smiled pityingly... Well...Annie always was attached to her parents...she noted...Though, a pretty girl like her...Probably had some other guy to see as well...Some old neighborhood friend, I mean... Ummn...Sallie...Will Jr. sighed... Phil, watching with Alex, looked at his companion who shook his head... This is what we got to look forward to...? Geesh... On the other hand...Abe Giles seemed to be quite comfortable, tucked between his sister and Amelia...With Amelia showing a fair degree of interest in what he had to say... In his charmingly British accented voice...So like Uncle Rupert's and Daddy's...she thought... Phil shrugged at Alex, nodding at the rather content looking Abe...As Will Jr. came over, seeking escape from Sallie's increasingly withering gaze... Maybe it ain't all bad...his look said... *** Monday morning, Willow came to the Summers-Walthrop kitchen to find Buffy, Will Sr., and her own Sarah heavily engaged in breakfast preparations...It being first fall school day for all of Buffy and Will's gang... Lil' Buf waving a hearty greeting from her breakfast...Hiya, Aunt Willow!... School...she sighed, remembering...And gloom settling in... "C'mon..." Sarah patted her... "You'll love first grade..." And here they don't beat you with sticks like back in England...she teased... They don't do that...Buffy Jr. frowned at her "cousin"... Auntie?...she looked to Willow for confirmation... "Only bad ones like my Sarah..." Willow noted...Eyeing her daughter... "Abe's still out cold...Probably til ten..." Sarah smiled back... Amelia rushed up from the depths of her new room...HiyaAuntWillow,Sarah.Momwhere'smygreensweater?! she demanded in a rushed breath... Wherever you put, honey...Buffy noted drily... You packed your own stuff, yourself...Remember?... And Aunt Willow is my witness...I touched nothing...she finished... "Well...It's not there..." Amelia insisted... "Then go back down and find it... " Will Sr. chimed in from where he manned the spatula and frying pan...Turning pancakes with the skill of a retired Doublemeat Palace Assistant Manager of many years' standing... "Look in the laundry on the side..." Buffy noted... Arggh...Joycee grumbled...Little girl returned...And turning in a huff went back down... "Morning, Wil...Grab the first chair you can..." Buffy grinned...As Phil raced down from his room and took a seat... "Hey, guy..." Buffy hugged him...And made quick inspection of first day back clothes and hair... Nice job...she noted... First rate...Willow agreed... We ought to go help Joycee...Spike noted within to Will...We could find that sweater in a sec... Buffy headed over to the stairs...One more member of the group yet awol.. "William!!!!...Get down here!!!!!...." Buffy hollered...In her best, guaranteed-to-wake-the-dead-and-occasionally-effective-with-teenaged-sons Slayer yell... "Guess you don't miss this kind of craziness..." Buffy smiled at Willow as she came over with pancakes... Willow grinned back...Eyeing Sarah with young Buffy with an internal sigh... Hmmn...Ya know...Forty really isn't too old to have one...Or two more...she thought... God, I hope Rup gets to come... *** Amelia having taken Will Jr. to high school with her, along with Sarah...Who was to return the old Spikemobile...Now the Joyceemobile as Spike liked to proudly...If a hair nervously...Note to his counterpart...For her, Dawn, Buffy, and Willow's use later...Buffy and Willow now dropped young Buffy and Phil off at their school... Buffy thanking God fervently that Sunnydale's school expansion bill had failed...Much as she had been for it in the interests of better education...In the interests of having her Phil around, keeping a watch over her poor lil namesake...Now bravely trying to hold back tears at the thought of a full six hour school day...In a new school and class...It was an outcome she could definitely bear... "Poor Will..." Buffy tried to deflect her thoughts...As she tearfully watched her lil' innocent baby courageously trudge up the school steps... "He wanted to come...But Spike was so upset he didn't think it was a good idea..." she noted... Plus it would have limited his spell time outdoors today...And we wanted to start checking some crypts this afternoon while Angel and Tara-Dru are still with the Harrises... Young Buffy, Slayer's descendant...Two Slayers, really...To the core...Turned at the top of the stairs to wave at her mom and "aunt"...Phil nobly on guard beside her...Nodding to his mom... "Goodbye, baby...Goodbye..." Buffy tearfully waved...Trying to smile... Willow sympathetically patting her hand... Well...Maybe two is enough...she thought... But God I wish Rup were here... *** Life With Mother and Father...Part XII... PG13 Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series... Summary: Cicelyverse tale: 18 years after the events of Romance Palace...The Walthrops are dealing with life...and its tribulations... Well...Trying to... (Some of the events described here as in the past are occurring...slightly differently...in the parallel Buffy Rebecca universe story "Mona and the Monsters") Part XII... Willow kindly heeded her stricken friend's hint and suggested a brief stop for coffee before heading home to give Will Sr. the car... Poor Will felt bad enough already over losing their last to school...And Spike was inconsolable... Seeing her in her current state...Would just break both the "brothers Walthrops'" hearts...If one granted Spike a heart for the sake of argument... Besides, as Buffy sheepishly admitted, sitting at the coffee shop, if the Walthrops met now in such a mutual state...Baby five would be on his or her way within the hour... And four to get through college was quite enough... *** Buffy decided to swing the focus of conversation onto her friend and her upcoming decision...She was, after all, quite interested in the outcome... "Have you given Giles an answer yet, Wil...?" she asked... Willow sighed...Back to that, eh... "Not yet...But I can't see any reason to change my mind from last time..." Oh...Buffy looked at her...Just a hair Cicely-vexed... The living in sin and all...Though she pushed her Victorian former self down hard... Twenty-first century, Cics...And we weren't no virgin angel before Will came back to us... Part however being pure Buffy... My Giles ain't good enough for you?... Willow caught the dual look with amusement before Buffy wiped it away... "It's not that I don't love Rup, Buf..." Buffy nodded... "I know, Wil...And it's your decision...It's just...Be so neat..." My poor Giles ain't good enough for you?...The look, now a single one, was now taking on a mostly pleading aspect... Yeah...Joycee told me she'd like a big wedding in England...Willow smiled... But maybe we could do that for her wedding...she slyly suggested... A clever dodge, Cicely-half coolly registered...But Buffy was not to be thrown off this track so easily... Silently maintaining the look...One that had broken even William the Bloody countless times... "Honestly I don't want to hurt him..." Willow eyed her... Or you, you hurt puppy...she did not say... "But it would be wrong for me to claim he was my one and only, Buffy..." I won't lie to him...Even if it's only a ceremony... "It's like Will and his baptism...What good is it if he doesn't believe in it?...And how can I swear to forsake all others..." "If he does it for my sake, God will forgive any lack of belief..." Buffy hastily noted... And Giles is a generous man...He can share... "Wil...Tara-Dru is not testing your love...She's not gonna give up the sisterhood..." In this life...Willow hastily noted in her turn... But in Eternity...Her Tara is coming back to me...And... "...And there's no room for Giles in that equation?..." "That's not fair, Buf..." Willow was a leetle... I love Rup...There'll always be some part of me for him...He knows that... "But I can't promise him all of me...And I won't say it just to please you guys..." *** "Well...?" Will Jr. looked at his sister...As they stood in a reasonably secluded corner of the cafeteria... A corner thoughtfully provided by "Uncle" Xander in his reconstruction of Sunnydale High 17 years ago... Who well remembered all the times he'd wished for such a hiding spot in the cafeteria... Amelia frowned... "I haven't got it, Will...And I'm not sure I'd give it to you in any case..." All that cash just to impress Annie Faux?... First day of school having impressed Will Jr. with the urgency of upgrading his wardrobe... A true son of two fashion prima donnas...However practical the passing of years and the need to clothe four children might have made them... "C'mon Melia...I'd give it...Geesh I've given it...To you if and when you asked and I had it..." "$300 bucks...?" Strictly in electronic form, of course...Paper money being largely an odd curiosity now, indulged in by older folks... "Why can't you ask Mother or Dad?..." Amelia eyed her brother... You know what Mom would say...And Dad would start in about the one suit he wore for fifty years... "Well...I ain't got it..." She grinned... "Why don't you ask Phil?...He's a hoarder...I'll bet he's got twice that put away..." Hey, Amelia...Ole Sid paused a mo...Will giving him a slight stare... He moved off, nervously grinning...Hey, Will... "So frighten off all my guys, why don't ya...?" Amelia glared... Should I call him back and tell him how badly you want him...? Will Jr. grinned... "Go stake yourself..." "Sid!..." he called...Waving his arms... Enough, jackass...Amelia pulled at her brother... "So it's not eternally and forever?..." he smiled, backing off... With Sidney?...Hardly...Amelia shook her head... "But he's a nice guy more or less...And his sis is my friend..." I thought you hated her...Will eyed her... "She grow on you since you realized she can freeze you out of nearly every senior committee this year or what?..." Back to your new suit...she frowned...Looking to make sure no one was listening... Phil really might have the cash... Except...she noted...He'd never be crazy enough to hand it over for something like that... "So...What is he saving it for, anyway?..." I think he just likes to have it...Something he got from Aunt Anya, maybe...Hanging around her...Though since... She paused...And Will turned a little serious, knowing what she meant... Poor guy...Even tougher than when we found out...At least we got the "sit down, we've got something to tell you" approach...he thought... Having six demons attacking you with swords is no way to find out your parents' side job...And Mom got hurt that night a little... Though not as much as the six demons... "I think he's hoping to buy Mom something...Protective..." Amelia noted... *** "Well..." the principal beamed at Rona...Who'd dropped by to discuss her idea for a new student drive... "This is wonderful of you Ms. Ferrill...You know, we've missed your input these past years..." Had to focus a little...she smiled... Economy's been up and down...Not as much free time as I once had... "And of course, your husband's passing..." the principal nodded solemnly...But immediately resumed his beam... Oh yeah...Rona thought...Rich did croak just before my Lord took me for his own... Or did my Master take him...? Can't remember... "Thank you..." she nodded back... It was hard to think of continuing the social things ...For a long time...she began... "But now that things are a little better...I'd like to start doing some things with the school again..." Well...We'd certainly appreciate it...the principal nodded... "Your past work for this school is legendary..." he smiled... God, does this one ever stop smiling?...Rona wondered as she watched him... Well...First principal to ever last eighteen years at Sunnydale Elementary...Must be a leetle touched in the head... *** Life With Mother and Father...Part XIII... PG13 Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series... Summary: Cicelyverse tale: 18 years after the events of Romance Palace...The Walthrops are dealing with life...and its tribulations... Well...Trying to... (Some of the events described here as in the past are occurring...slightly differently...in the parallel Buffy Rebecca universe story "Mona and the Monsters") Part XIII... So...Harold eyed the returned Rona Ferrill in the main room of the Cold Storage Warehouse... Mephisto still in the process of choosing a suitable new lair large enough to accommodate the whole clan...One of the headaches of being father...and master...to a large, mixed family... "Stage one complete?..." the former teacher asked the most devoted of the human enthrallees... Rona eyed him...Stage one?...Jesus... "Yeah, Goldfinger..." she muttered sarcastically... "Stage one" completed...The school's gonna do a candy drive with me as organizer... "And I still say...This idea's a load of..." "Rona, my dear..." Mephisto appeared, beaming, as he walked down from his upper level office...A cluster of enthralled humans and his vamp "children" following and protectively surrounding...Never can be sure when the Slayers may strike... Lord...she knelt before him... He raised her up... "All went well?..." Yes...she nodded, a younger woman's eagerness shining in her eyes... Love's a beautifying force Harold noted romantically... "The principal was happy to accept my offer...But..." her hard edge of practicality meshing with her utter devotion... "I still have my doubts about this one..." "I see little danger to us..." Mephisto noted... We can't be traced through the candy manufacturer...And the poison is not a magical one... "If we fail...Even if we kill the little blonde bitch...If they should come to me, discover my link to you..." she paused... You would die for me as you've always been prepared to do...he smiled at her... Yes...In a heartbeat...she nodded... But...You've no one else capable of working for you in the light time...These zombies...she indicated the group of enthralled happy-meals-to-be....Couldn't do a thing for you except lead the Slayers right to you... "Then, darling..." he smiled... "You must not fail..." Let me kill the bitch myself, Master...she begged... I'll wait by her home, run her down...I might even get both of them... It'll just be an accident...I can down a few shots beforehand and if they catch me they'll call it DWI... "You tried once before, my girl...For which, despite my disappointment...I did forgive you..." he eyed her... As you escaped detection...But a second attempt may not go unnoticed... And I would as likely lose you in your scenario as dear Harold's... "Lets let the boy have his chance..." he nodded at Harold... After all, I feel towards him...Exactly as I would my own son... *** After confirming plans to meet at the Magic Box that afternoon to try to locate and firm up plans for assaulting "Crypt Mephisto"... Will Sr. headed off to work... Buffy, Willow, Dawn, Sarah, and Abe...With the returned Spikemobile at their disposal...Had other plans... Ah...Buffy positively purring with satisfaction as she took her place behind the wheel... I hardly ever get the chance to drive her nowadays...she eagerly noted to Willow beside her... Oh, God...Dawn rolled her eyes in back...Past repressed memories of drives with Buffy in poor Will's baby resurfacing... Sarah and Abe showing similar signs of trepidation...They'd been driven by "Aunt" Buffy several times in the past week...And had similar thankfully buried memories from past visits... "Ummn...Aunt Buffy?" Sarah gently asked... You may wanta take it slow...She was clicking a little this morning... "Clicking?..." Buffy eyed the dashboard... No...Not clicks!...Sarah, I love ya but...you fool!...thought Dawn... Well...Buffy beamed...There's only one way to get the clicks out of our old girl... "Flat out..." she grinned...Pressing on the gas as she roared the car out of its parking place... It's not wrong to protect my children with magics...Willow told herself desperately as she hung on to her seat...Over and over...Trying to keep several injury-protective spells in mind and at hand... "God, listen to our sweet girl coo..." Buffy smiled at the dash as they roared down Revello Street... "Evildoers...Beware!!!..." she cried happily out the window as the car zoomed along... Sorry...she called to the two folks racing for the sidewalk... NowIlaymedowntosleep, IpraytheLordmysoultokeep...Dawn mumbled under her breath... *** Life With Mother and Father...Part XIV... PG13 Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series... Summary: Cicelyverse tale: 18 years after the events of Romance Palace...The Walthrops are dealing with life...and its tribulations... Well...Trying to... (Some of the events described here as in the past are occurring...slightly differently...in the parallel Buffy Rebecca universe story "Mona and the Monsters") Part XIV... Safely arrived at the Sunnydale Mall, Dawn and the others resisted the temptation to kiss the sweet ground...Buffy happily noting the perfection of her parallel parking technique... Smooth as a clean staking... "This old girl has the electrics beat by a country mile..." she patted the Spikemobile fondly... But...Sarah hissed to her mom... "We're not parallel..." "We're in the lot, in a space in one piece, parallel to other cars...Don't press it, honey..." Willow hissed back... Or ya want her to go try and parallel park the real way?...With us in the car?... "Great job, Aunt Buffy..." Sarah beamed... *** There are worse things one could imagine than being a tall, distinguished-looking teenaged Englishman surrounded by a bevy of beautiful young and reasonably youthful women, not all his relatives, Abe Giles thought...As he and the ladies cruised the Mall main corridor... Ah...The memories this brings back...Dawn smiled at her "niece" and "nephew"...The Mall at ten- thirty...Folks just starting to flow in...The stores still half-empty... "All those wonderful Tuesdays..." Buffy glared at her...Er, Saturdays...Dawn hastily corrected... There...Buffy pointed to a side corridor, rather less trafficked than the rest... "That's where it happened..." she noted to Willow sadly...The others peering at the spot as well... "All I wanted was to check out some school shoes for Phil and Buffy..." she sighed... The bastards were clever...Put up a "70% off on all shoes" discount sign on one of the unrented stores there as soon they saw us coming...After watching me and my poor Phil go in and out of shoe stores in the main corridor for an hour... My poor lamby...He had no idea what was going on, thought it was a game, a publicity stunt for one of the new stores...Until one of their swords cut my arm... "He saw my blood and screamed..." Buffy tensed at the memory... Willow nodded, patting her friend's arm... I didn't give them a chance...she shook her head...Not even a "Here's the deal..." "I was never happier to kill than when I took those animals out..." Buffy looked grimly at the spot... Though I let one live...To take the word back to his friends... Never spoil my night out with my kids... *** The setting...Will Sr. thought...As he absently polished the glass of the Magic Box's main display case... London, 1884...At a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Mikado"... Our hero is beguiled by a strange, dark-haired temptress...Who has appeared to him in his dreams, haunting him...Offering him all the riches of her dark world... Though his heart belongs to his true beloved...He senses the desperation and the lost soul trapped within the dark one...Grasping at any hope of rescue from her horrible fate... And her name... Had best not be...Drusilla... Not if he knew what was good for him...Spike within agreed... And best to make her a blonde...In fact... Let Cicely have the Beguiled One's role the demon brother suggested... We'll be the hero... And a certain Brooding Twit can play the tempter... That was...Basically...Our last novel...Will noted... And Buf loved it...Spike firmly replied...We just do it again, only shuffle things a bit... And no more sex-tinged scenes with Angel's stand-in...he insisted... Too unrealistic anyway...the demon chuckled a bit within... Eh...Will shook his head...We've got to break away from the supernatural for a while... Could have our couple as a Holmesian sleuthing team again...Spike suggested...Bringing the fiendish Jack to justice... A Ripper who bears a striking resemblance to a certain brooding priestly friend of our family... And you know how the Missus loves playing the female Holmes to our idiot Watson... "Hey?!..". "What?..." Will blinked and vaguely smiled at the customer who'd been standing in front of him for a full minute, trying to get his distracted attention... Ah...Sorry... *** Life With Mother and Father...Part XV... PG13 Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series... Summary: Cicelyverse tale: 18 years after the events of Romance Palace...The Walthrops are dealing with life...and its tribulations... Well...Trying to... (Some of the events described here as in the past are occurring...slightly differently...in the parallel Buffy Rebecca universe story "Mona and the Monsters") Part XV... School over, Will Jr. and Amelia had walked to Sunnydale Elementary to wait for the ride home with Phil and Buffy Jr...Dad slated to pick them up, they all mentally thanked God... William Sr. not only being a cautious motorist himself but having demonic, but excellent co-parent, Spike as his internal backseat driver...A rather safety-obsessed Spike when it came to the kids... While Buffy Jr. gave her account of the first day of school to Amelia, Will took advantage of the chance to hit his bro up for the loan he knew Mom would frown upon... "And...It'd just be a loan..." Will Jr. smiled at his younger brother... Hmmn...Phil frowned at him... Three hundred bucks for some dumb outfit...To impress some dumb girl?...Geesh... This is what the future holds for me?... "I can't take it out...I'm saving it for something for Mom..." Phil noted...Eyeing his brother firmly... "Something...? For Mom?..." Will Jr. stared at him... "It's a surprise...Uncle Xan's helping me...And it's gonna take all I got and more..." "C'mon Phil...I'll get it back to you by the end of the month..." "Forget it...$300's a lot of money..." (especially since the deflation of the 10's)... "and I'm not taking any chances with Mom's surprise..." "Why don't ya do a few extra shifts at Doublemeat...?" "All that's going straight to my college fund...Mom's got it locked up, even Dad couldn't get her to loosen the strings..." The last time you wanted to blow it all on something stupid...I remember...Phil thought... "Well...Then ask Mom..." Phil smiled innocently... "It'll be just like the time you found the greatest stock of all time in the paper...And wanted to have Mom and Dad risk everything on one chance..." Will Jr. glared...Mistakes of an impetuous youth......He was a grown man, now... And this was a vital matter... "I'll pay interest..." "You know you would..." Phil nodded...A true, spiritually at least, nephew of Anya Harris... But the answer's no... "But..." he paused... "I might be able to help you another way...If you're really that anxious to get the money..." *** "Lets see..." Will Sr. smiled at the young woman with stroller as she waited at the shop counter... Demon...Spike hissed within... I know...Will hissed back...But she's just buying some ginseng... "Packet of ginseng...And a book...Oh, our latest...Thanks..." he beamed at her... The thing in the stroller is not a baby...Spike noted... They're probably a couple of Mephisto's agents...For Christ sakes' lets do a pre-emptive strike for once...he insisted within... Think of our kids, you moron... "Could you sign it, Mr. Walthrop?..." the "young woman" asked shyly... Her species is harmless, Spike...William patiently reminded him... And the "thing" is a baby...Just not a human one... "I'm not really human..." the "woman" quietly admitted as he began signing...After quickly looking round the nearly empty shop... Really?...Will eyed her...She put up a hand... "But we Comez are non-aggressive vegetarians..." And I really love your and Mrs. Summers-Walthrop's stuff...she finished... Quite all right...he smiled kindly... The Slayer and I welcome all peaceful sentient beings... Spike did his best to glare within... Our Buffy and gang are dead meat if you keep up like this... he sulked internally... Who...? Will paused... "Could you make it out to Gertfrood...And Janus?" she smiled... Your little one?...he asked... Hmmn...she beamed...Stroking the whatever it was wrapped in blankets in the stroller... "I'd bring him out to say hi...But he can't hold human form yet..." He loves the Cecily and Soames mysteries too...she noted... "What he understands of them...I read them to him every night..." Of course...I edit the demon killing parts a little... "Only evil demons..." Will noted... "And occasionally, they do in evil humans..." "Oh, it's very balanced...And you have heroic demons too...There are so few books with good role models for non-aggressive demons, you know..." Janus just loves Clem...she gushed a little... "Well...Just between us...You can tell Janus that Cecily and Soames' Clem is based on a real-life friend of ours..." Who really has helped us on a few missions... Oh?...she perked up... "Does he live in Sunnydale?..." LA...And married, I'm afraid...Will smiled... "The best ones usually are..." she sighed... The door bell chimed...Anya entering... "Gertfrood?..." she stared at the young woman... Anyanka?...Gertfrood stared back... "Oooh..." they cooed, Anya running over for a hug... "She's ok, Will...An old, non-aggressive friend..." Anya hissed, looking over at him... No problem...he waved... A leetle caution, idiots...Spike hissed from within... You morons are all gonna get slaughtered this afternoon if you keep on like this, you know... She's ok, Spike...Anya hissed telepathically... That's what she said about Halfreck...Spike noted within... *** "A candy drive...?" Will Jr. frowned at his brother... "Candy!!" Buffy Jr. raised a little fist, overhearing... "How is selling a box of candy to get cash for the school gonna help me out?..." Will Jr. groused... "This one is different..." Phil explained... They're giving a special incentive...To teach us about the benefits of work, the lady said at the auditorium this morning... "We get to keep 10% of what we sell..." Whoa...Will eyed him... Aunt Anya sponsor this one?... *** "What a cutie..." Anya beamed at little Janus...Gertfrood having pulled back just enough of its blankets for a quick gander... Eggdh...Spike noted within as William echoed Anya's sentiment... I hate eyes on stalks...It's not right... Lets not even get into how appropriate the name "Janus" is for this one...he continued... Spike...Anya hissed telepathically...You're lucky the Comez aren't telepathic... So are you, love...he sneered back...I caught that jump when you saw the little bundle of eye-stalks... Spike, you're not exactly the loveliest thing to see in my mirror...William noted to his demonic "bro"... Hey...Two eyes, nose, mouth, one head...A few ridges, splotchy skin, and yellow eyes...Practically human...Spike replied with a sniff... The correct form for the sentient...None of that weird freaky stuff... Vamp demons...Anya shook her head...Think they've got the highest spot in the hierarchy just cause they hold human form so much... Heck, my vengeance demon relations are human-souled...If we're gonna use closeness to Humanity as the measuring stick... Gertfrood happily rewrapped Janus in its blanket... "So..." Anya led her over to a table while Will dealt with two new customers and began securing the shop for early closing...On account of afternoon crypt raid... "You're with somebody new these days?...As well as female now...?" "Not really...I was seeing a fella...Human, actually...But I decided to go the asexual route with my Janus..." Asexual...Spike did his best to give the impression of rolling his eyes...In disembodied form... Disgust...he began... Hey, you filthy little mass murdering bigot...Anya hissed telepathically...Stop with the Archie Bunker routine already... No offense, Will...she added... But sometimes your "brother"... No problem...he noted within...Smiling at Gertfrood as she tickled her Janus in its blanket... I get no respect...Spike groused within...None at all... And after all I've done for you people... *** At a certain famed Sunnydale watering hole, a small group of thralled humans tried to look natural...As did their comrades, a small group of vamps now removing coats and wrappings... One of the vamps pointed out a young woman, about twenty, waiting at the bar...Willie the bar owner at her corner, happily attempting to maintain a conversation...He led the group over, waving at Amy who nodded back...Willie frowning slightly but quick to size up his new customers... Mephisto's boys and girls...Trouble... His eyes flashed to his favorite underbar hideaway...And the cell phone nearby...On occasion, the Slayers...If not busy or mad at him...Or both...Would come by to check on his heartrending cries for help...Buffy having long had a thing for...Ok, ok...Having found him a useful source at times... But Buffy did kinda find him sweet...In a mascoty kinda way...When he wasn't selling her and the hubs and kiddies out...Especially as his affection for her kids when they visited was genuine...If not boundless... The vamp leader emerged from his crowd of vamp and human guardians to join his "beloved son" Harold now standing in front of Amy... "So..." Mephisto purred elegantly...Viewing the young woman...Wiccan...he reminded himself carefully...From head to toe... "You are our Ms. Amy...?" he put out a hand... She dropped back a step... "No offense...But my protective spell would sting if you touched me..." Amy smiled back... "I see..." he stared at her carefully... "I have seen you before..." Mephisto pondered... When I was still that weak human fool... "I worked as an extra on "Mona and the Monsters"..." Amy nodded, smiling... Nice of you to remember me, Mr. Mechamber... "Mephisto..." he politely corrected... "The dear Sidney in me is long gone...Best to keep that in mind, my dear..." "Oh, I do..." Amy eyed him... "You haven't aged a day...Literally..." Mephisto stared at her... "And shouldn't for quite some time..." she agreed... "Anti-aging spell...Plus some use of my chemistry skills...Not Immortality by a long shot but I'll be around quite a while..." "Long enough to see the Walthrops' friends and their families die in slow torment one after the other after the Slayer and her husband are dead?..." he smiled... "If you can pull it off..." she waved him to a booth where she sat on one side and he, Harold, and a protective minion sat on the other...His other followers find various scattered seats close by... Mephisto leaned back...Signing to Willie to come over... "My chief human pet, Ms. Ferrill...My financial planner and real estate agent...Has arranged things with the youngest Walthrop children's school...The rest is up to you, dear..." A brandy and... "Special"...he told Willie... "Just cow ... "special"..." Willie sighed... "Hospital blood bank was cleaned out last night..." What!...The vamp king glared...Who would dare without his permission...? "Big accident on Highway 12..." the barkeep explained... Oh...My condolences...Mephisto nodded... "Harold?..." he turned to his "son"... "Call Rona later...See a proper donation is sent to any victims' fund from the Mechamber trust..." "One must attend to the amenities..." he smiled at Amy... Still got that actor's charm...she noted... Brandy...No "special"...Amy eyed Willie... "But let me ask you..." Mephisto paused, returning to her... "How does poisoning the Slayer benefit you?...You're obviously powerful...Quite lovely...Why are you here in this little town simply living a staid existence as an industrial chemist?...And what has the Slayer done to you that you'd risk her wrath...And mine..." he beamed... "Just to harm her and hers...?" "The Slayer doesn't interest me so much..." Amy noted... "But she's Willow Rosenberg's best friend...And Willow does interest me..." Ah...Mephisto smiled pleasantly...The powerful Ms. Rosenberg...Mate to the Slayers' famed Watcher... "I've had a few plans set back by her assistance to Mrs. Summers-Walthrop from time to time..." he nodded... "Willow abandoned me...Years ago...After leaving me in stasis as...Something awful...For three years...Three years while she played with me and did nothing to help me...Then when she finally had a boring day and turned me back...Easy as pie...She and her friends kicked me away...Left me to turn back to magics..." It's like drugs, good magics...The most addictive stuff in the world...I couldn't fight the cravings...I needed help to regain my life...They left me...The only people I had to turn to in this world and they left me flat... "You think I'm powerful...And I can do whatever I want?...Hah..." Amy sneered, downing the brandy Willie had set before her... "Why do you think the really powerful Wiccans aren't running this world?...They can't...They either can't risk tapping the power...Or they're hooked like me... I've almost no control now...I can't get enough out of spells on others so I can only go for bigger and better spells on myself...I can barely follow a coherent plan of action with magics...I had to force myself even to do this dinky little protective spell against you guys..." She frowned at her drink, waving for another... "I took that crummy job as a chemist cause it was the only work I could manage to do...No responsibilities, plenty of dead time, and access to lots of stuff I can use..." And now...she grinned bitterly... "I'm practically Immortal...Not cause I really wanted it...But because I couldn't bear to lose the magics...So...I'll be like this until I find the spell that finally kills me..." Do you want to know why I met up with your friend Harry here...? she pointed at Harold...Who was eyeing her rather sadly...Poor kid, so pretty and young... "I was lookin' for a vamp to kill me...But, the craving wouldn't let me die... I can't have a relationship with a normal human...I either convince myself they're nothing next to me when I'm up...Or that they're only making up to me cause I hexed them subconsciously when I'm down...Either way I drive them off..." "It might have been different...If Willow and the others had given a damn about me...But..." she frowned... "Well...Now it's my turn to watch them suffer..." Tragic...Mephisto nodded kindly... "But I assure you...They will, once Mrs. Summers-Walthrop is dead..." "Until the next Slayer shows..." Amy grinned... "All that effort and another one pops right up...Kinda makes you wonder if it's worth it, huh?..." Another, Willie!...she turned to the bar... Mephisto glared a bit... "Did I mention Buffy killed my mother?...No?...Well..." Amy waved a hand... Mephisto eyed Harold...The young witch was getting a bit incoherent...Eyes blackening...Not boding well... Willie caught the black eyes and moved cautiously to his safe spot...Uh-Oh... "I guess she had to...Mom was out of it with magics..." she chuckled... Like mother, like daughter... "But that's one more thing for me to remember about Buffy Summers..." In an amplified raging voice... Sorry...Amy shook her head...Eyes returned to normal... "Like I said...I've lost most of my control..." "But...For this little scheme...We won't need magics...Just my chemistry skills..." she smiled... And some personal effects of the Slayers...she eyed her new partners... "As to that..." Mephisto snapped a finger... Two thralled humans came forward...A sack of garbage in hand... Amy looked at the vamp king...Who shrugged... "The only way personal effects of the Slayers leave that house..." he noted... And Ms. Summers-Walthrop recycles...This is all clothing... Hmmn...Well... "Probably just what we need..." she sighed... Though plowing through a bag of Buffy's worst laundry....she thought... And I saw how Buffy lives when I stayed at her place...What a pig without Mommie around to pick up...Yuck... Though she's probably improved since she married... "Well...I'm sure Harold and some of my assistants will help you...After all their existences depend on the success of this little plan..." Mephisto eyed his minions... "As does yours, dear..." he smiled at Amy...Who eyed him coolly back... *** Life With Mother and Father...Part XVI... PG13 Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series... Summary: Cicelyverse tale: 18 years after the events of Romance Palace...The Walthrops are dealing with life...and its tribulations... Well...Trying to... (Some of the events described here as in the past are occurring...slightly differently...in the parallel Buffy Rebecca universe story "Mona and the Monsters") Part XVI... Sister Tara-Drusilla and Father Angel had joined the group at the Sunnydale Mall...After a few brief stops on Church business...To Sunnydale High for the routine sanctification of the Hellmouth...(Maybe it doesn't do much good, but the bishop wants it done whenever we come and it couldn't hurt as Sister Tara-Dru had noted to Willow the previous evening) and to check on the needs of the local churches...The practical as well as supernatural... All in all, not a bad thing to have two experienced supernaturals as Church staff, as the local bishop frequently emphasized in his reports to Rome...Especially with a parish like Sunnydale in his diocese... "How'd things go at the Hellmouth portal?..." Willow asked... "The usual screams and threats...Some wind-blowing...Nothing new..." the Sister replied with a grin... Just enough to rumple my wimple... "Evil remains in check...Thanks to the Slayer's efforts..." Angel cut in... A serious matter, Sister...His look at Tara-Dru said... A tad less levity, please... She nodded, a rueful "sorry, Father" look...A quiet wink to Willow... "But I fear our own efforts avail little..." he noted... "I'm sure the sanctification helps, Angel..." Buffy patted his hand... Anything that makes it even a leetle harder for them to get through is a help... "We mustn't lose faith, Father..." Sister Tara-Dru chimed in... "It's not meant to be easy to destroy the major source of outside Evil in our world...God simply wants us to work at it...And to combine our Slayer's practical work with the Church's sacred..." "I suppose you're right, Sister..." Angel nodded... "And...When a younger Holy Father is installed...Perhaps he will come and add his efforts..." she smiled... "The Pope himself...?" Dawn asked... Popemoble and all..? Nah...Tara-Dru shook her head... "It would have to be a secret visit..." the Sister explained... "He'd slip out while visiting LA..." "The Church would rather not give credence to the wild tales one hears about this little town..." Angel smiled faintly... "But...Speaking of the practical..." Sister Tara-Dru eyed Buffy... "How's things shaping up for this afternoon?..." Xander get his new super-suit in yet?...she grinned... *** "UV light...The exact spectral frequency of the sun's..." Xander noted proudly, pointing out the head-lantern on his new suit... Course it's not good for people to be exposed to it either...But it should come in handy at night or in the dark corners of crypts and vamp nests... He'd brought two of the new suits over to the Magic Box where Anya and Will Sr. were preparing to close up...Will to pick up the kids at school before the adults massed for "assault on Crypt Mephisto"...Or wherever that damned ham actor-vamp prince had decided to hole up, Anya sighed... Padded, flame- and heat-resistant armor...Xander showed the interior lining...With small airbags in vital sections to deploy when tossed or strangled by a rather Big Baddy... Or a psychotic Buffy or Willow...Anya did not say... Wood-spear firing gun in the left ankle pouch, dart gun...For capturing a prisoner...Or a friend in need of soul-restoration/magics assist...In the right... Cell phone in the right pouch near the mouth...Choice of water or a sugar solution in the left...In case one's on a long stake-out or hunt... "Very nice, Alexander..." Will nodded, examining the suit... Only wish Buf had had one of these when she took Glory on...he smiled... My guy...Anya thought proudly... No wonder Harris Construction is one of California's leaders... "But what's in the other boxes...?" Will looked over... Well...Xander grinned... "Thought it was time to break out some of the heavy stuff..." He pulled a large contraption out of one of the boxes...Warren Mears' old freeze ray... Packed away since they'd frozen the giant Sloth demon six years ago... "I had Willow look it over the other day when she came to the house...It still works pretty well..." And naturally, our ole friend...He pulled out Buffy's rocket launcher...Patting it familiarly... "I was wondering where that'd gotten off to..." Will smiled... "Buffy asked me to put it away for her after Amelia started walking...When she moved all the house weapons but the stakes and bows in your bedroom to the Box..." I've kept the maintenance up...Just in case we ever needed it... "We'll be a regular Initiative on this one..." Will beamed... I just hope I can get Buffy to wear one of these things...he eyed the suit... "Eh...I think the suit'd just slow her down..." Xander noted... But...There is something for her here... Courtesy of my nephew, your Phil... "Phil...?" Will stared... "He's paying for it in installments but I figured it'd be best to give it to Buf now...He asked me not to wait if she needed it..." "My sweet boy..." Will murmured...Looking away from the Harrises for a moment... Good ole Phil... Spike called out from within...That's our boy...Our brother Philip's worthy namesake... Anya smiled at Xander...Give him a mo, honey... "Right..." Will looked back...A few tears still in his eyes...The tears of a man with a good claim to being the luckiest man in the long history of this world, he noted to Anya, smiling... "So...?" "Ta-dah..." Xander pulled out a belt with a control panel in front...And put it on... "Afraid once again we gotta thank Warren Mears, Hellmouth supergenius for this one..." He pressed a button on the panel...And vanished... "Neat, huh?..." he called...Invisible... And no dangerous side effects...At least in less than a week's use "Though..." he reappeared... "The engineers I had redesign this into a wearable form wouldn't recommend using it too often or too long..." "Phil arranged this...?" William stared... "He wanted to find something to protect his Mom better...I've had this kicking around for a long time but he tracked down the only two guys who'd were willing to take a look at crazy Mears' old blueprints...And get it into a stylish form even our Buf would consider wearing...And he wants to pay half the costs so I'm letting him put what he can in from time to time..." Xander removed the belt and handed to Will... "He's quite a kid, Will..." "I'll have him give this to Buffy...After we get the other kids home..." Will fingered the belt... Absolutely...Spike echoed... "Thanks, Xander..." he put out a hand... "Just sorry it took so long to get it together..." Xander grinned... "I'm glad Buffy's had a brother like you...All these years..." Will nodded... And all the years I wasn't able to help her... "Though next time you find a love-lorn vamp hanging around a sister...I would recommend immediate action..." "Well...Lucky for me I waited after we found out about the chip...Cicely would have killed me, even if Buffy let me off..." Xander smiled... Rough as it all was for you and Cicely-Buffy, Will...We were damned lucky how things turned out... "Amen..." William nodded... Though there's something to be said for throwing the practical Harris nature into the scales...he waved at the equipment, grinning to Anya who beamed... *** "So...?" Mephisto eyed Amy as they sat in Willie's bar booth... All the candy will be poisoned...? But a poison tailored to Ms. Summers-Walthrop's unique physiology...? Not effecting anyone else...? Harmless for others...Amy nodded...A triumph, she grinned, of modern pharmacogenetics... "Remarkable...Pity Mr. Walthrop is immune..." he sighed... "But he'll find things rather difficult playing Slayer alone and protecting his family..." Amy noted... "And a devoted husband like him will be anxious to rejoin her asap..." Harold chimed in... Not soon enough...Mephisto frowned at his "beloved son"... "And we can expect him to take the most extreme retaliation...Still, with the Slayer gone...And the true line Slayer still in prison..." May that dear lady live a long and fruitless life...he smiled... "Yes, the risk is worth taking...I approve this little scheme...And hope to see many happy years of future collaborations between us, my dear..." he nodded to Amy... "I'll settle for seeing Buffy dead...And Willow in pain..." Amy noted grimly... *** A rather bitter young lady, though clearly quite capable...Mephisto remarked to Harold as his group took its leave, carefully proceeding to cars outside, the vamps again carefully wrapped up...Pity to see such hardness and unhappiness in one so young... "Well, we must see if we can't put a smile on her dear face, eh Harold..." he grinned as they took their seats... Now...he paused... "We'd best take steps to secure our own home base and family...The Walthrops are sure to try us soon, perhaps even before tonight...No point in not surviving to witness our triumph..." *** "Mother..." Abe Giles frowned at Willow...As he and Sarah stood by her and Angel...Buffy, Dawn, and Sister Tara-Drusilla off to look at shoes...A shopping mission Buffy was determined to complete despite the near disaster of her trip with her Philip... "I'm not a kid...There's no reason why I can't help this afternoon..." Ditto...Sarah chimed in... "And you were what...Fourteen?...When you and Aunt Buffy started working together..." he noted... Fifteen...Willow corrected....And we had no choice...The Master was gonna kill us all... "You're not experienced enough..." she solemnly noted... "That's ridiculous...Father's trained us for years...And we've taken a few vamps back in England together..." "A few strays...This is a fully entrenched nest...Angel?..." Willow turned to the reverend Father... "Your mother is quite right...The group we have for today's action should be more than enough..." "Make assurance double sure, Dad would say..." Sarah noted... And two more stake-wielders can't hurt... "You may be needed at home..." Angel pointed out... If he feels he's cornered this Mephisto might try a suicide run on the home grounds...Even if his vamps can't get pass the sun and the barriers, he has humans and a few daylight capable demons in his service... Hmmn...Willow stared... Hadn't thought of that... Maybe...On second thought... I couldn't bear it if...And Rup would be devastated if I ever let anything happen...And I can watch them better with me than trying to observe them by spell while we fight... "I'll speak to Aunt Buffy..." she eyed them... ***


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