Chapter One: New Life, Old Problems
AN: Disclaimer and summary found with Prologue.
Chapter One: New Life, Old Problems
He dreamed of girls.
Hundreds of girls.
This dream was different than that of an average teenage boy’s dreams of many women.
In his dream, the girls weren’t waiting to do his every bidding or the things that only a hormonal male’s mind could think, they were battling the darkness and the things that dwell within it. They fought the things nightmares were made of.
He saw one, with dark hair and eyes, crouching in the rain with other’s like herself. She was in a muggle alleyway, clutching an axe and growling at a shadow that growled back.
He saw a girl Ginny’s age, wearing a uniform and carrying a baseball bat as she walked out through a busy, but dimly lit, parking lot. A group of older kids sat on a car nearby and watched her closely. Light reflects off one of their eyes like a cat’s. It didn’t mean any harm, so girl kept on walking.
There is another with sharp features with purple and platinum hair. She ran through a crowd of people in a busy street in what looks to be a large Asian city somewhere. She nearly ran over a man coming out of the front and he cursed at her. Ignoring him, she turned a corner and hurried down an entrance into their Underground system. There were less people there and hardly any after she jumped the turnstile. On the platform, she slid to a stop just a train took off down a dark tunnel and she waited for her pursuers. A smirk curled her lips when she heard a crash and screams of people fleeing. A the top of the stairs, something large, scaly, and sharp toothed snarled at her. She simply brought up her fists and waited.
There were others, but the last one stood out. She was blonde and young, but old at the same time. She spoke to others in the room, but was clearly the one in charge. She was powerful and important. So important.
He dreamed of men – warriors. Three men, wielding weapons high in the rain as they ran into a battle they knew they would never win. They held no fear, though. If they were to die, they would die, but at least death in this battle would have meaning.
They had something else with them; something that had once been a woman but was now something else. She had the most power of them all and was certainly not afraid to use it.
Then there was another man. He had been apart of the warriors, but had fallen before the battle. He died and he lived. It didn’t make any sense, but something told him that he would understand someday. Someday soon.
Someone shook him hard, causing Harry open his eyes. Ron still had his hand on Harry’s shoulder and offered his friend a smile as he woke. “Sorry to wake you, mate,” he said, “but we’ll be at King’s Cross soon.”
Blinking, Harry looked out the train’s window. It was getting dark and he could just make out the London on the fast approaching horizon. That was funny. He hadn’t remember falling asleep. The last thing he could remember was playing exploding snaps and talking with Fred and George. He must have drifted off sometime after that.
The twins were pulling their luggage together and exchanging a grin when they took hold of their trunk. Harry didn’t want to know what they had that would make them look at each other like that. Whatever it was, he was sure Mrs. Weasley would not approve, and he would surely be hearing all about it in a letter before the summer was through.
“Better get you’re stuff together, Harry,” Hermione said. Gently, she placed the jar that contained Rita Skettler into her trunk and shut the lid. “We’ll want to leave as soon as possible after what you three did to Malfoy and his goons.”
“Um, right,” Harry said. He gathered his stuff like the others, his mind drifting only briefly back to the men and women he had dreamed of, but he shook his head.
Dismissing the dream, Harry tucked Hedwig’s cage close to him and his trunk and waited for the train to pull into the station.
Angel’s last clear memory from that night was standing at the end of the alley with Spike, Gunn, and Illyria, waiting for the demon horde. He could remember claiming the dragon for himself and then, well, everything was kind of blurry after that. He just remembered bits and pieces; swinging his sword, blood – his opponent’s or his own, he didn’t know – and heat from a fire. After that, he had no idea.
The next clear memory he had was the overpowering smell of must. That was strange. Those hundred some odd years he had spent in hell, he never remembered it smelling musty. Burning flesh, yes. Brimstone, most definitely. Old wet sock that had been soaking in used kitty litter, yeah, he even remembered that. But hell smelling like someone’s grandmother’s house? He didn’t remember that. Besides shouldn’t he be in agony right now instead of…an extraordinary amount of pain.
Okay, maybe this was hell.
“Oh, stop your wimperin’,” he heard a distinct and annoying British voice say. “S’not like you haven’t been through worse.”
Forcing his eyes opened, Angel found himself staring up at a grandly decorated and familiar ceiling.
The Hyperion? How’d they get here?
With some effort, Angel was finally able to sit up and take in his surroundings.
Spike was sitting on the round couch they had placed over the pentagram he had painted in the middle of the lobby over a year ago in a vain attempt to open a portal and bring Connor back. Aside from a few cuts and bruises, the blond vampire appeared to be alright. Though he had always found Spike annoying, Angel was glad that he seemed uninjured. At least one of his friends - and with Spike, he used the term loosely - had made it through the battle.
Sitting next to him were two young girls. One was dressing the other’s wounds while she watched Spike with a cynical eye. He was ignoring them both. Instead stared at Angel and then nodded his head. Angel knew what he meant, that his guess was right and that they were both Slayers.
Now that he was sitting up and his head had stopped pounding so furiously, Angel saw that they were not the only ones there. A few more of the girls walked past, carrying one of their comrades between them. They were followed by a familiar looking dark-haired woman dressed in red and who wore long gloves up her arms. Gwen caught Angel’s eyes and grinned at him as she passed by.
They went to his old office. An older Asian-looking woman with tattoos on her cheek waited for them and held opened the door. She too caught Angel’s eyes, nodded hello, and then shut the door.
Beside the counter stood a group of men. Most were street kids who looked like they had just been in an all out gang war. They laughed loudly at something one of them said, and then began to nudge each other as another group of apparently uninjured Slayers walked by.
Two of the men stood out among the group, though. One was a young man in his twenties wearing a business suit. Angel easily recognized him as Andrew, which explained the slayers. The other was older and someone that Angel hadn’t seen since…well, he hadn‘t seen him in a very long time. Even though his old friend had his head bandaged, Angel recognized the Groosolage.
“What’s going on?” Angel asked, slipping his legs off the edge of the couch.
Spike snorted. “Well, as brilliant as your ‘four against an entire army’ plan was, Liberache thought we could do with some backup.”
Angel blinked, again. “Lorne?”
“Right here, Angel Cakes.”
Looking towards the large staircase, Angel saw the missing member of the A.I. team descending to the lobby. His suit was torn and burned in places and he was covered in a large amount of blood, soot, and dirt. One of his horns had been broken off and there was a large gash across his forehead, but he appeared to be as uninjured at Spike.
At his left side was Illyria. Unlike the rest of the group, she only had a single scratch on her cheek as proof that she had been in any sort of fight. Considering the way she fought, it would have been impressive to anyone who didn’t know her. To those who did, it came as no surprise.
At Lorne’s right side of were Connor and a girl Angel vaguely remembered as Anne. Angel frowned. He remembered telling Connor to leave, but, judging by his bandages and a small limp, his son hadn’t listened to him.
Like Illyria, Anne appeared completely unharmed. She must not have fought in the battle, but had come to help in the aftermath.
In Anne’s arms was an infant only a few weeks old. It was small and easily hid in the blankets she had wrapped around it, with only it’s bald head exposed. Angel knew who the child was and was curious as to why he was here.
Turning back to Spike, he gave the younger vampire a pointed stare. Spike just stared back as if Angel had just announced that he had decided to take up sunbathing.
“Didn’t think I was going to return the sprout to his mother, did you?” Spike snorted. “Bloody woman sold him to be a sacrifice. Not exactly mother-of-the-year material there.”
“You live,” Illyria said, stopping with Anne next to where Spike and the slayer sat. “I am glad of this.” She tilted her head to the side. “Though I do not know why.”
“Are you okay?” Connor asked, sitting down next to his father.
“I’m fine,” Angel said, still trying to take in all the people who were in his hotel. “But where’d all these people come from?”
“California mostly,” Lorne said. He glanced over at Andrew and Groo as they approached, followed by Gwen and Jhiera, who had left the slayers in Angel’s office. “Though, I did have to go out of town to get some of the others.”
“Hello, Angel,” Groo said, bowing. “It is good to see you have started to recover from your injuries.”
“Angelus,” Andrew said, using his coolest tone. “You have awake, I see.”
“Wouldn’t be talkin’ to him if he weren’t, you git,” Spike said.
“Yes, true,” Andrew said. He cleared his throat, as if somehow that would help him save face and then said, “I’m sure Buffy will be pleased when I inform her that I arrived in time to help save you and the others.”
“I wouldn’t call standing on the sidelines, calling to your slayers ‘Remember Sunnydale’ helping, tweed boy,” Gwen said, crossing her gloved arms.
“Indeed,” Illyria said, her cold gaze resting on Andrew. He squeaked and took a step back to hide from her on the other side of Groo.
“But what are you all doing here?” Angel asked.
Stretching her arms over her head, Gwen said, “Big Green here got us.”
“He said you were in need of assistance,” Jhiera said. “We agreed to help.”
Angel blinked and looked to Lorne. He smiled and waved his hand in a dismissive manner. “Yeah, that was why I was a little late for the party. It took a little longer than I expected to find some of these lovely people.”
“You came to help me?” Angel asked. “Why? It wasn’t any of your fight.”
Jhiera adjusted her coat and tossed some of her now long, jet black hair over her shoulder. Even though he had not seen her in five years, she just the same; young, beautiful, and – if she is still standing – deadly.
Angel wondered how Lorne had been able to find her and made a note to ask him later when the others were gone.
“I owed you a debt,” Jhiera said. “I have repaid it this day.”
“Yeah,” Gwen said, regarding Jhiera with an equal amount of curiosity and contempt before turning her attention back to Angel. “Speaking of debt, you now owe me fifty-g’s.”
“She’s gettin’ paid?” one of the kids asked. Angel had never seen him or any of the others with him before, though there was something familiar about them. “That ain’t right, man.”
Spike had pulled out his cigarettes and was about to light one when he saw the confused look on Angel’s face. “They’re part of Matlock’s old crew,” he said.
“Where’s Gunn?” Angel asked, looking around the room as if he would appear. “Is he okay? Did he make it?”
The hotel became quiet for a moment as the others looked from one to another. Except for Illyria, each had found the floor particular interesting at that moment.
“Oh,” Angel said. He pressed his lips and closed his eyes.
Even with everything that had happened to them, Gunn had been a good friend and great fighter. He had deserved to die, but they had all known it was a good possibility that they would that night. Still, it hurt to know that he had lost yet another one of his friends because of his mistakes.
Pushing his grief away for a moment, Angel forced himself to ask, “How did we do on casualties?”
“It could have been worse,” Connor said solemnly. Without being prompt, he added, “The news is already claiming that the destruction was caused by a gas leak that occurred after the earthquake.”
Shaking his head, Andrew said, “Victims of Sunnydale Syndrome.”
Spike, finally having lit his cigarette, snorted a cloud of smoke out through his nose. “Yeah, when are people goin’ learn that, sometimes, a gas leak is just an evil demon army tryin’ to enact revenge on a group of white hats for taking out their evil headquarters?”
“Well,” a new voice said, dragging their attention away from each other and to her. “That’s unexpected in an expected sort of way.”
Turning rather painfully in his seat, Angel felt his jaw go slack when he saw the blonde-haired woman who stood in the hotel’s doorway. Much like Jhiera, Kate hadn’t changed much over the years. In fact, he would swear that was the same frown she had on her face the he last saw her.
The others who had never meet Kate bristled at her presence, but the only one she seemed concerned about was Illyria. The demon god tilted her head to an unnatural angle as she considered the lady cop. It was as if she were trying to decide if Kate were some sort of threat to the others that needed to be taken care of. When Kate’s hand started to drift towards her gun, Angel decided it would be best if he stepped in.
“Kate,” he said, standing. He winced as a sharp pain shot up his side but ignored it. “What are you doing here?”
“Looking for you,” she said, her eyes cutting back and forth between Angel and Illyria. “We found your friend last night. Thought you might want to tell me what really happened since I know it wasn’t another ‘gas leak’.”
“You speak of Wesley,” Illyria said, her tone as even.
Kate held her breath and nodded her head slowly. For a moment, Angel wondered if Illyria would try and harm her for speaking about Wesley. Instead, the demon god simply said, “He was mortally wounded in battle with a demon wizard. I avenged his death by taking the demon wizard’s life.”
There was a moment where Angel saw what could be sadness flash through Illyria’s eyes, but it was so small and quick that he wasn’t sure he had actually seen anything. Kate, on the other hand, was clearly confused.
“What are you talking about?” she asked. “Wesley’s alive.”
The place smelled like a strange combination of a Buddhist temple and a candy shop. Buffy supposed that the sent would normally make a person more relaxed and comfortable. Still, the fact that she knew that this place was a principal’s office – or this school’s equivalent of one – put her on edge.
Shifting uncomfortably in her chair, Buffy sucked on the lemon drop that the old wizard behind the desk had given her. He was the guy in charge that she had Giles had come to see, though Buffy still wasn’t exactly sure why. All Giles had told her was that there was something important going on in the ‘Wizarding World’ and that this guy - Timberlore or something? - might be needing the New Watcher’s Council help.
Yeah, Giles and the Council couldn’t have mentioned that there was a hidden community of witches and wizards before? Like when they might needed their help with say something like evil hell goddess or evil itself? A bunch of trained magical people might have been helpful then, wouldn’t you think? But no. Buffy, of course, is the last to know and only finds out when they need help. Yeah, wasn’t that typical.
Giles sat next to her, fidgeting in his seat and trying not to look in the direction of the guy with the wacky eye as Giles and Bubblebee – Dundledee – whatever talked about nothing in particular.
They were waiting for others to come and, though the office was quit large, Buffy couldn’t help but wonder how they expected to fit everyone in here. So far, not counting herself, Giles, Wacky Eye, and Mister I Wannabe Merlin behind the desk, there were at least ten other people pilled into the office. A wicked-looking witch, who reminded Buffy of her mother whenever she was in that I’ve-Made-My-Decision-And-That’s-Final-Young-Lady mode when she was teenager, stood near the desk with her arms crossed, frowning at the two Council members. There was also a greasy looking man dressed in black by the fireplace. Three very redheaded men and a woman were standing close together. And a Samuel L. Jackson impersonator stood by the windows, while a young woman with baby-blue shoulder length hair stood next to him.
Lastly, two people, a witch dressed in green – God, didn’t these people ever read fashion magazines? – robes whispered to an older man who stroked his beard and openly stared at Buffy. Unable to resist, Buffy sneered nastily at the wizard, then slouched down as far as she could in her seat with her arms crossed.
This was stupid. She shouldn’t be here. She should have been in LA with Andrew, helping Angel fight Wolfram and Hart. Deep down, she had always known that Angel hadn’t turned against them. She should have gone them. Andrew had even asked if she wanted to go.
Giles had talked her out of it. She wasn’t quite sure how, but he had. Stupid Giles and his stupid logic. Why’d these people need their help anyway? Could just turn their enemies into frogs or bunnies or something?
The door to the office opened and rescued Buffy from thoughts.
“Sorry we’re late,” a man said, entering the office with an overly large dog trotting behind him.
“Remus, dear boy,” Dumbledore – that’s it! – said. “Glad that you could make it.”
“You weren’t followed, were you?” Wild Eye asked, his magical eye zooming from one side to the other looking past Remus and his pet.
“No, but you should have warned us about how long your path would take, Mad-Eye,” Remus said.
Mad-Eye - wasn’t that name fitting? - grumbled under his breath as the new guy and his dog approached her and Giles. Buffy raised her eyebrow at the pair. There was something a little off about this Remus guy and his little dog too.
Getting to his feet, Giles adjusted his jacket and extended his hand. “Rupert Giles. And this is Buffy Summers.”
“Pleasure,” he said, shaking Giles and nodding at Buffy. “Remus Lupin.”
Buffy tilted her head to the side. Remus was making her spidey senses tingle, but not in the way that a vampire or a demon would. Still, there was something about him#…
“You’re a werewolf, aren’t you?” she finally said.
Paling considerably, which was quit a feat considering that he was almost completely pasty white anyway, Remus took a step back from her as if she had just burned him. Some of the others in the room bristled, as if she had insulted there friend terribly. Even his dog began to growl at her.
The only who hadn’t been insulted by her statement – besides Dumbledore – was the Grease Ball, and he was smiling like a child on Christmas morning. It was a frightening sight.
Beside her, Giles sighed and pinched his nose.
Okay, so it must have really been the wrong thing to say.
“Hey, look, I have no problem with it if you don’t,” she said, holding up her hands. “It was just you were making my spidey senses go nuts. You’re obviously not a vampire or demon, so it was either a werewolf or a half-demon. I thought the werewolf would be less insulting.”
The tension in the room diminished somewhat, but Buffy could still feel the occupants of the office watching her closely. After a moment, Remus stepped closer to her and asked in a rather surprised tone, “You - you can sense that I’m a werewolf?”
“Well…yeah. It’s kind of part of the slayer package.”
If everyone hadn’t been staring at her before, they were doing so now. Buffy shifted uncomfortably on her feet, and looked over to Giles. He looked just as perplexed by their reaction.
“She’s the slayer?” someone asked. Buffy didn’t know who, but she was pretty sure it was one of the redheads.
“Um…yeah, one of them,” Buffy said before turning around to Dumbledore. “Didn’t you tell them who we were before we got here?”
“Oh, did I forget to mention to you that Ms. Summers is the Slayer from Sunnydale?” he asked innocently. The wizards went slack-jawed – even the dog – and were somehow managing to stare at Buffy and Dumbledore at the same time. Dumbledore just smiled and waved his hand as if he had just forgotten to tell them that a telemarketer had called for them today.
“How forgetful of me,” Dumbledore said. “Lemon drop anyone?”
Nancy Lynn walked through the I.C.U., her green scrubs standing out slightly from the drab green of the walls. There were several rows of small rooms with beds inside, all of which were full with patients of varying degrees of critical health. The patients who had just gotten out of heart surgery were there, off in a corner that some of the nurses call Cardiac Row.
Then there was the girl who had been injured in a deadly car accident a few hours before. None of them were very sure whether she would make, but they were hoping for the best.
There was even a man here who had survived a cougar attack. Of all the odd things to happen, especially in the middle of the city, but she had seen far stranger things happen in her tenure at St. Mary’s. Especially when the moon was full or it was late May or early June. For some reason, the demons really began to act up then.
Nancy Lynn was checking on Mr. Springler, a resident of Cardiac Row, when one of the heart monitors started beeping rapidly. It was coming from their newest patient, Mr. Wyndham-Pryce.
She had barely reached his bed when Mr. Wyndham-Pryce’s eyes flew opened. He gasped and thrashed in his bed, fighting off some imaginary figure that his mind had convinced him was a threat. That happened every so often, especially when the patient had suffered a great trauma. She was fairly sure being stabbed and left in a building as it collapsed would qualify.
Grabbing hold of him, she held him down as best she could called out for help. At the same time, she whispered reassurance gently too him. He must have found her tone soothing because he stopped fighting her and laid back in the bed. But his muscles were still tense and drawn as if he expected to jump out of the bed at any moment to defend himself or flee. With his injuries, he wouldn’t be ‘jumping’ anywhere for awhile, so Nancy Lynn relaxed her grip on him.
“Where am I?” he asked, his voice cracking. He tried to clear it and rubbed against it as he did so.
“It’s alright, Mr. Wyndham-Pryce. You’re safe now,” Nancy Lynn said gently. She didn‘t like the look he gave her so she decided to see if there was any damage to his memory. “Can you remember what happened to you?”
He blinked his eyes several times and squinted at her. She knew that his chart had said he was nearsighted, but she had realized he was that bad.
“What?” he asked.
“What happened last night,” she said. “Do you remember what happened?”
“I…” His face tightened as if he were trying to remember something, but just couldn’t quite. Giving up on the task, he shook his head and asked, “Where am I? And who’s Mr. Wyndham-Pryce?”
Nancy Lynn frowned. This was not a good sign. “You’re at Saint Mary’s Hospital,” she said. “And you’re Mr. Wyndham-Pryce. Wesley Wyndham-Pryce. Remember?”
He tilted his head to the side and looked at her as if she had jus told him that the Tooth Fairy was real and had invited him to have tea with her and the Easter Bunny. “Are you daft?” he asked. “I’m not Mr. Wyndham-Pryce. And where in the sodding hell is the Saint Mary’s Hospital? And where’s Lily?”
Nancy Lynn sighed. No, this was definitely not a good sign. Trying again, she said, “Of course you’re Mr. Wyndham-Pryce. That’s what your ID says. And we’ve had someone confirm that identity, and she’s a police office.”
“Well, this poe-lees officer is mistaken,” he said, sounding rather aggravated. “Find my wife, Lily. She’ll tell you who I am. Or Sirius or Remus will. Where are they, anyway?”
Wife? His charts had said nothing about a wife. And what sort of names were Serious and Reemus anyway?
Oh, dear. Perhaps she really should call the doctor and quickly.
With one last try at trying to make him remember that he was who she said, she asked, “If you’re not Mr. Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, than who are you?”
Groaning, he placed his hands on either side of his head, as if she were causing him to have a headache. “Merlin‘s beard, woman. My name is James. James Potter.”