AN: Sorry for the long delay. I blame my muses. Instead of inspiring me, they were busy staging naked jello wrestling. How they got the jello naked, I'll never know.
"So if vampires dust when their demonic energies are disrupted, what exactly can kill me now?" Willow asked inside the car.
"Excellent question , daughter," Jessica smiled from the passenger's side seat, "Always know your limits. How else will you know what to surpass? Vampires were created by a fleeing old-one level demon mixing it's blood with that of a human. But just like our surrogate fictional family found out in their hasty move from Transylvania, there is not that much time to plan effectively when you are trying to escape. So unlike us, who are a result of generations of mystical planning; vampires are of a poor design. However unlike vampires, we are not immortal. We do age, although the process is far slower than ordinary people."
"So daughter of mine, to answer your question, if you were to be cut up into little pieces and not scattered; it would take you only a little while to come back together and you'll be lethargic for the next day or so. The same would happen if an intact you were to suddenly catch and remain on fire for a few hours. However as fun as either of those can be, the combination of the two may overpower the magical energies," Tony said while driving.
"Usually to make sure, our more clever of enemies would scatter our ashes to the winds," Jessica smiled, "Although with the massive innate magical potential you have, Willow daughter, even that may not be enough. The more magical you are, the more the magical energies keeping your body together can draw upon in an emergency. An interesting note is that innate magical ability also helps lessen the chance of the initial process' failure."
Willow nodded. After a few minutes, the girl's eyes widened when she remembered something Tony had said, "I'm glad my head didn't explode. Hard to make with the smoochies with an explode-y head. Oh and *hey*! How did you know I was a natural redhead?"
Xander's father grinned and looked back, "Just guessed from the color of your eyebrows. Most girls don't color them if they color their hair. And no offense, but you don't seem vain enough to color your hair to the roots every day. So that is that. Oh, and I know what you're probably thinking now, and just to reassure you, no matter how much I tried to convince him it was part of the ritual, Xander kept refusing to strip your body and lather your naked form with Nutella and slowly lick it off later."
Willow started to blush as red as her hair at that thought, but slowly got herself under control. If she was going to be living in the Harris household from now on, she would have to learn to deal with a Tony Harris that combined Gomez Addams' sense of humor and libido with that of his former self. That was why when Xander was actively sputtering and protesting that he would never do such a thing, she just put on a small wry smile and answered, "Yeah. I may not be at Cordelia's level of make-up trivia knowledge, but even I know that coloring your hair that often would damage it and make it look yucky. And thank you Xander. I would really rather be awake and aware for any naked Nutella licking rituals involving you in the future."
Truth be told, Willow did think that the shade of red Xander suddenly turned was cute.
Jessica Harris just smiled as the newest member of the family started to learn the flirting game, "You know, if you keep this up, Willow daughter, we may just have to have a traditional shotgun wedding for you two."
"Okay," Willow said, "I know what one of those is to the rest of the world. What is a traditional Harris shotgun wedding like?"
"Well, you and your groom both get large guns or rifles, colts and Winchesters. Load them all with enchanted ammo. Then, go and gather as many evil demons and vampires you can to attend the wedding. Once the ceremony is finished, the reception begins," Tony said with a wide grin.
"And what happens during the reception?" asked Xander.
"Why, that's when you and your new bride open up with your weapons on the guests together," Jessica said wistfully, "What more can you want from a great wedding reception? Demon's heads exploding, vampires dusting in unison. Plus, a tastefully decorated cake."
"You know," Willow smiled. She was definitely going to like her new family, "That does sound like a great fun wedding reception."
"Excellent!" Tony grinned, "Just give us the word and we'll start bespelling the ammo."
"Bubalah, dear. Let's give our new Willow daughter a little time to adjust first," Jessica smiled, turned around from the passenger's side seat and patted Willow on the head, "She's still in the adorable 'everything is new' phase. Or maybe just in shock. Also equally adorable."
When they arrived at home, Willow was introduced to Dodge, whom she promptly scolded for his wanting to sacrifice Buffy. Dodge then took the car and drove to school to clean up the mess per his orders.
Xander did have the vague suspicion that he had forgotten something as he opened the door to the house, but decided that he'd eventually remember what it was if it was important enough.
Dodge, for his part, simply ignored the thumping sound coming from the car's trunk. It wasn't in his orders to investigate, and personally he could care less.
On the other hand, Tony Harris watched as the late 80's rusty Monte Carlo drove away and thought that they should soon be able to afford something a bit more roomier and a bit more classy. This being Sunnydale, he was sure there was at least one hearse on the market at all times.
Jessica Harris was daydreaming in her mind about what type of cake she would try to make for the wedding. It just wasn't a proper wedding unless there was a final battle with a tastefully decorated cake.
"Here you are, kids! Your new room!" Tony announced proudly, "Except for you, Xander. It's your old room."
Both Xander and Willow were shocked. Willow had been to Xander's room before, but between the clutter and the clothes on the floor, there was barely enough space for Xander all by himself in the tiny bedroom.
"Uh, dad," Xander started slowly and calmly, "Not to rain on your parade or anything, but I thought Willow would stay in the basement. At least until we can move out or something."
"There's nothing wrong with your room, son of mine. Why it is a time honored practice to let children grow up in the same room."
"That's usually before the kids are of high school age, dad! And there *is* one thing wrong with my room. There's only one bed!"
"Well, yes. I noticed," Tony said with a smile to Xander and Willow, both of whom happened to have turned a bright shade of red, "I did master basic counting sometime around my kindergarten years. Just try not to be too loud when exploring each others' bodies. Because then, your mother might hear and it would make her also very... actually, you know what? Go ahead and be as loud as you want. You kids seem to have had a busy, busy day what with battling a pudding monster and Willow almost getting killed and whatever else you wacky children of mine did today. We'll go ahead and pick up Willow's stuff tomorrow."
Willow and Xander looked at the single twin-sized bed, then at each other. "We need a bigger house!" they said in unison.
Tony Harris walked outside when Dodge had returned from his task. He walked over to the trunk of the car and banked on it with his fist twice, while yelling, "Marco!"
From inside the rear of the car came unintelligible muffled whimpering.
"Good enough!" Tony said and popped open the trunk, revealing a hog tied and gagged Ethan Rayne.
Xander's father quickly removed the gag with a quick, practiced motion.
"Bloody hell! It felt like I was in that thing forever!" Ethan exclaimed before smiling in a manner he thought was charming, "Do you mind untying the rest of me now? I promise to leave this town and all. Besides, I have the worst cramps. And I do believe all my assembled limbs have fallen asleep at the same time."
"Excellent, old chap! Don't worry. In fact, I mean to thank you for changing the lives of my family so positively. To thank you, I happen to have two openings in my household that you'll simply be perfect for. First, my son and daughter are magical and seem to be in need of some expert tutoring since me and my lovely wife are very, very frequently... indisposed. Now Willow is a powerful mage, but she's fairly straightforward. Her elements are fire for offense and rapid change, and water for mind and adaptability. A powerful combination that can make for a powerful battle mage."
"Now Xander, on the other hand, has a rarer elemental affinity. His elements are earth for strength and defense, and chaos for power and unpredictability. My son has tons of power, but no focus. Him casting spells is like trying to swat a fly with a stick of dynamite. Most of the time, nothing will happen when you miss. It's when you hit the fly that you should start worrying. And, since you are a self-styled Chaos mage, I figured who better to tutor him? Right?"
"Great!" Said Ethan Rayne, although inside he was alternating between seething about having to train a snot-nosed brat and trying to come up with a plan to escape as soon as his binds were undone. "Oh, you mentioned two possible jobs?
"Of course! You see, we're looking to buy one of several mansions. But all of the ones we have seen have simply awful lawns!"
Ethan was confused, "So... you're looking for a landscaper?"
"Not quite, my good chap," Tony grin widened, "We're looking for mulch!"
"Oh," Ethan Rayne's eyes widened in sudden understanding.
"Xander, stop laying on the floor, grab that pillow, and get up in your bed!" Willow said with full resolve face.
"But, but...," the boy sputtered.
"Yes I know I have a butt, but I'll try to keep in under the covers so it doesn't offend you, okay?"
"That's not what I meant. I mean.. er.. must stop thinking about my new sister's cute butt.. um.. I mean, I can still go sleep in the basement."
"I'm not going to have you sleep in the same room as Ethan Rayne. I don't care if he did sign a contract in blood; I don't trust him. Now make with the getting yourself off the floor and into bed, mister!"
Xander reluctantly grabbed his pillow and got in bed next to his former best friend - turned adopted sister.
They both laid stiffly, staring straight up for several minutes. Willow broke the silence first.
"You really think my butt is cute?" she shifted to face the boy.
"Mm hmm." Xander nodded affirmatively; hoping to show enthusiasm, but not *too much* enthusiasm.
"Thanks!" a smiling Willow shifted back on her back. Now all she had to do was not think about (what she could only presume) was a large flashlight (which she had 'accidentally' brushed up against) that Xander was keeping in his boxer shorts for some reason.
It was going to be a long night for both of them.
"And let's never talk about the positions we woke up in ever again," Willow said firmly.
"Agreed," Xander nodded, before widening his eyes in realization. He started to race around the room, picking up his clutter and looking everywhere.
"What are you doing, Xander?"
The boy looked at his new sister, "Searching for any cameras my parents may have hidden."
"They're you're.. our parents, Xander. Do you really think they would do something like that?" Willow asked, and then thought about exactly what she had said, "What am I saying? Here, I'll help you look!"
Half an hour later, the two teenagers came down for breakfast looking disheveled and sweaty.
"What exactly have you two been doing?" Jessica asked with mild curiosity and a mischievous smile.
"It's not what you think!" Willow eeped, "We were searching for hidden cameras!"
"Now why would you think we would hide cameras in your room?"
"I'm sorry, mom," Xander said.
"That is all right, son," Jessica said, before adding, "You should know better. There is no point to us hiding cameras in your room when we were completely out of film."
"Err... so when are we moving to a bigger house?" the boy quickly tried to change subjects.
"Your father is out as of this moment, looking at properties with our new magic tutor. We needed more space when it was just your new baby sibling on the way," Jessica patted her slightly showing belly, "Now that you've quickly gathered a new sister and live-in magic tutor, finding a larger domicile became an even greater priority."
Xander sat down between his mother and sister, "It's too bad we can't stay at your old house, Willow."
Jessica faced her son, "Why ever not? That is a grand idea!"
"What if they're home?"
Xander's mother was nonplussed, "How does that matter?"
"But we would make a mess, and be living in a house that's not ours. One that belongs to other people," Xander scrabbled for excuses.
"The same people who kept abandoning your little sister for up to several months at a time?"
No one spoke as they took in Willow's less than ideal childhood.
Willow, herself, was the first to break the silence, "Don't worry, Xander. My old house isn't that big. I'll show you around the place."
"Excellent!" Jessica Harris exclaimed, "Dodge!"
"What.. do... you.. need... mistress?" Dodge growled out as he came up from the basement. He had been busy making the cement-walled storage space livable for Ethan Rayne.
"Dodge, pick up everything of sentimental value. Then pick up everything of significant monetary value. Move them both out onto the lawn so you can load both piles into the car when my husband comes back."
Jessica looked around the small family house, "There are so many memories here. Such memories."
She turned towards the hulking former student-turned-butler, "After you finish your task, set most of the house on fire. Leave the kitchen. Hopefully, the flames would take their time before they fall upon my former cooking attempts inside the refrigerator freezer. Those were the ones we couldn't burn. They were... extra spicy."
Dodge just groaned and went back down into the basement.
"Are you sure about the fire, mom?" Xander asked.
"Of course, son. With luck, Tony will be back in time to watch the flames expediently consume the alcohol-stained walls. My only regret is that my sculptures of empty alcoholic beverage containers will not be able to make the trip with us," she pointed to the living room where the horrible *things* she had constructed mostly out of glass sat impossibly, reveling in their non-euclidean geometries and almost daring someone to stare at them directly for longer than five seconds at a time.
"Yes. A great loss," Xander said in perfect deadpan, "H.R. Geiger would have been proud."
Luckily, for them, the Rosenbergs were out of town on a lecture circuit. And even though they had acknowledged loosing custody of Willow, at least in written documents, they never bothered taking away her house keys.
The larger temporary house proved to be a godsend. Tony and Jessica broke in the master bedroom. Willow stayed in her old room, but Xander managed (despite his parents' preferences of just moving another bed into the redhead's room) to snag a guest room next to his new sister. Dodge had to make a new unfurnished basement habitable for both himself and his new roommate, Ethan.
The next few weeks passed by relatively quickly. A new daily pattern emerged consisting of patrolling, magic lessons at home, hanging out with Buffy, and Willow's new hobby of trying to create new and innovative magical weapons. At least until the notices were posted on the school board announcing the upcoming career week. AN: Well, there it is. I'll try to get the next installment out MUCH quicker than last time. Enjoy!