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California

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This story is No. 1 in the series "California Series". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: Buffy has a few revelations about her life and some of the people in it after a night of patrolling.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Buffy-CenteredechoFR1323,73142611,7416 Sep 0315 Feb 04Yes

California

Title: California
Author: echo
Summary: Buffy has a few revelations about her life and some of the people in it after a night of patrolling.
Rating: 13
Disclaimer: Not mine. The BtVS stuff is Whedon's. The HP characters belong to JK Rowling.
Spoilers: Thru the end of season 7 in the Buffyverse. Thru OotP in the Potterverse.
Notes: I played with the time lines a bit. For Buffy, it's about ten years past the series finale, and for Harry it's about a little over a year since the events of Order.
Music: 'California' is by Phantom Planet.
Poetry: 'Howl' is by Allen Ginsberg.


*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Mom."

She'd heard her before she'd even uttered a word. Sure, her daughter was stealthy, but hello, slayer hearing. It had not faded over the years. She'd honed the ability in high school, thank you Giles, and it was still there.

"Mom."

Buffy just wanted to cling to sleep a little while longer. The sun was already quite high, she could see the light creeping in through the curtains of her bedroom from behind her eyelids.

"Mom."

She probably SHOULD rise. Shower. She groaned and moved her shoulder experimentally. Stupid vampire. She'd patrolled last night... well, this morning. The sun had already been up when she'd finally crashed into her bed. She had an ache in her shoulder from being tossed against the side of a mausoleum. Didn't the bad guys ever get tired of that particular move? She was certain she and Faith had complained on this specific subject not too long ago. At least it had been her shoulder taking the brunt of it this time and not her hip.

"Mom."

Buffy opened one hazel eye. Her daughter's blue ones were peering right at her.

"Morning. Or should I say afternoon, sleepy head."

"Hey. Be nice to Mommy. She patrolled last night and got in a fight."

"Typical."

Buffy smirked and sat up. "You didn't ask me if I won."

Her daughter snorted. "You always win, Mommy. Now please get to looking pretty. The wizards are coming for lunch. You have to be pretty. I'll just go tell Giles you're awake... finally."

The little blonde seven year old bounced out of the room. Buffy groaned and flopped back on the bed. Her daughter was a real morning person..... like her father had been. Wasn't fair. Well, sort of. She got Joey out of the deal here. Josephine Summers, called Lil Jo or Joey by... oh everyone. Pale 'Spike' blonde hair that ended just below her chin and great blue eyes. She had the look of Buffy at her age, but Joey was way smarter. Less childlike. Likely because her eyes had seen more than another child of her age. Buffy hated that, but what could be done for it? She'd rather have a less childlike child that knew some of the dangers than a beautiful little idiot who was dead.... like her father was now.

Buffy rolled out of her comfy bed onto the cold of the hardwood floor that was hidden by a rug. She was not going to think about Riley this morning, er afternoon. He always ruled her thoughts at this time of the year. The anniversary loomed close. He'd left them before he'd even known there was a 'them' to leave. It made her sad, and Buffy vowed she was not going to get into a funk right before company got here as she turned on the taps in her shower. But it was difficult not to think about it. Even almost eight years later. Especially with the anniversary of his death only one week away.

He'd come to them in London while they were trying to rebuild the Watcher's Council. He'd come in grief. His wife Sam had been killed on a mission for the government monster-hunting group the both of them worked for. One night after many drinks the two of them had tumbled into bed together. He had not been there when she woke up. Two weeks and many suicide missions later, Riley had finally managed to get himself killed. Two months later Buffy knew it was not just her worry and grief that was making her miss her menstrual cycles. Nine months later, gripping Faith's hand... because Faith was the only one who could take it... Buffy had brought Josephine Finn Summers screaming into this world.

Joey made up for it all. She was the light to end all lights in Buffy's life.

But sometimes the darkness crept in and made the oldest living slayer angry and sad. She'd been living in England for almost a decade now. They'd wandered a bit, the group, after making Sunnydale a hole in the ground. Literally. It was six months later that Giles decided that despite the fact that there was not one 'chosen one' any longer, slayers still needed help. They still needed watchers, so as he and Wesley were pretty much the last left, Giles took them all to England to see what was left of the Watcher's Council. It wasn't a lot.

They'd started small. A few watchers that hadn't been in the former headquarters at the time of the explosion, two handfuls of potential slayers who were now actual slayers, Faith and Buffy, and the Scooby gang plus the child of a fallen slayer. It hadn't taken long to get Robin Wood, Willow Rosenberg, or Xander Harris in the watcher mindset. They were the first... followed by Dawn Summers herself. But they were a new breed. No longer did a watcher just watch. They aided. It wasn't just research all the time. It was about field work some nights as well.

Dawn Summers had graduated from Oxford just a year ago. She was looking forward to doing some real work. She wanted her some slayers to watch. She and Willow were already known in the wizarding circles though... and not for magical reasons. This being why the wizards were meeting them likely. After they had gotten their council up and running, Willow had taken on a project that had seen its final stage just after Dawn's graduation. Werewolf rights. Dawn had aided in her research. Buffy as well. After over sixteen years, the slayer had finally learned how to research properly. She and her sister had helped the redheaded witch write the most beautiful bit of legislation the wizarding community in England had ever seen.

They'd done it for Oz. When Willow had first found out how werewolves were ostracized, she'd gone all indignant. It had taken her near four years, but she had finally gotten to address this feeling of indignant fury before a wizarding council called the Wizengamont. The new laws had been voted on, much under the public eye, but Willow had been victorious. As Buffy knew she would be. Willow was passionate about her cause. That passion had bled through and swayed most members of the Wizengamont to her side. Well, enough of them to get the wheels going on her proposals... new laws guaranteeing those who got furry three days a month job security, rent control, and many other rights that non-lycanthropes took for granted. That had been one year ago.

Now Willow was on goblin rights.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Buffy stepped out of her bathroom in a towel after drying her hair. She smiled when she noticed Joey had come in and laid her white dress with the sunflowers on it out for her. Buffy dropped the towel and began rummaging through her underwear drawer. She dressed quickly and brushed her just-below-the-shoulder hair until it shown brightly. Her strappy brown shoes were added as a last touch along with a bit of lip gloss, a flick on each set of lashes with some mascara, some under eye concealer for those circles she always seemed to have, and a light dusting of power to take the shine off her nose before she headed for the stairs.

As she neared the front sitting room in the house she shared with Giles, Willow, and Xander... when they were there... Buffy heard soft music. She stuck her head in and noticed Joey was the only one in the room. The girl was fiddling with the stereo in there. Buffy smiled. Her chin-length platinum hair was pushed back with a headband. She wore her cornflower blue 'good company' dress that hit her mid calf. Buffy sighed when she noticed the girl had toppled the outfit off with her pink converse. Sometimes Joey had such a 'Willow' sense of fashion about her.

Sounds the slayer now recognized as Led Zeppelin were pouring from the speakers her daughter was swaying before. Buffy made a mental note to have a little talk with Giles about him foisting his musical tastes on her daughter.

Then Joey reached out quickly and switched the CD.

Buffy smiled as 'their song' filled the room.

"I was waiting for you." Joey spun around. "Oh, Mommy, you look so pretty."

Buffy's smile widened as the strains of that unmistakable Phantom Planet piano filled the room.

We've been on the run
Driving in the sun
Looking out for number one
California here we come
Right back where we started from

Buffy held out her hand. Joey rushed to her and took it as the two of them started a polite waltz around the large sitting room. Giles had taught the both of them 'sophisticated' dancing, so they loved to practice. A waltz never looked so beautiful when the music wasn't waltz music.

Hustlers grab your guns
Your shadow weighs a ton
Driving down the 101
California here we come
Right back where we started from

The both of them were singing along, and did not notice the doors from the entry hall open slightly. The two pieces of oak were in a shadowy part of the room. As the music swelled to a more powerful note, Buffy spun Joey several times as their polite waltz turned into a bit more.

California California
Here we come

Their voices joined in a feminine timbre that was not for society girls. It was all 'this freebird's gonna fly'. There was power and intensity to it.

On the stereo
Listen as we go
Nothing's gonna stop me now
California here we come
Right back where we started from

Hands were clasped as they skirted to and from one another before hooking their arms across the other's middle to rest on the opposite hip, and they turned a funny circle with unoccupied hands waving in the air in moves a gypsy would have loved.

Pedal to the floor
Thinkin' of the roar
Gotta get us to the show
California here we come
Right back where we started from

They faced one another and started swaying back and forth, each in a mirror of the other, waving their arms a bit wildly. Buffy swayed her hips back and forth and laughed when Joey mimicked her perfectly.

California California
Here we come
California
California
Here we come

Joey was spinning about and doing a few moves that would have made a prima ballerina proud while her mother was doing a few things with her hips that would have made a belly dancer jealous as they let the sweet little piano melody mixed with a guitar riff narrate them.

Until they whipped around simultaneously and were facing each other. Buffy took Joey's hand and spun her in quite a few twirling circles across the room before lifting the seven year old into her arms.

California
California
Here we come

They were singing sweetly to one another... until the ending chorus picked up some power. The two of them took that as their cute to belt it out into one another's faces.

California
California
Here we come
California
California
Here we come
California
California
Here we come

Buffy had started spinning. As the song concluded, she fell back on one of the sofas in the room with Joey on her lap. Both were panting a bit from the exertion. She felt lighter. Something about singing or dancing to that particular song always took the bitter out of the bittersweet for Buffy. Amazingly, Joey had a weird sixth sense for when her mother needed a bit of California.

"Mommy, you are the most fun."

"I'll say." A voice said from the darkened doorway.

The two Summers straightened quickly as two people walked slowly into the room. A tall and sleek teenage boy with lots of black hair sticking off his head and green eyes behind glasses. Behind him stood a middle-aged... or slightly more from the gray in his hair... man with eyes like the sky when it's about to rain and brown hair that was just longer than his collar.

The older one was staring at Buffy like she was the most shocking thing he had ever seen. Not bad shocking, like he'd happened upon a unicorn drinking from a stream or something. Like she was delightfully unexpected.

"How come you're wearing a dress too?" Joey asked the teenager. "Are you what Uncle Spike calls a girlie-man?"

The boy laughed. The man slightly behind him coughed to hide a smile. Buffy poked Joey in the arm.

"Ow! Mommy!"

"Wizards wear robes, remember." She hissed through her teeth. "They aren't dresses."

"They look like dresses." Joey hissed back, imitating her mother exactly.

The boy let out a little bark of laughter. It sounded like he had not laughed in a while.

"Harry Potter." He said holding out a hand to Buffy.

"Ah." She said taking it. His being so young and being there made sense to her now. "The boy who lived. Buffy Summers."

"Ah." Harry said shaking her hand and trying not to wince from her grip. "The slayer who died... twice."

He released her hand and looked at Joey, who was still eyeing him suspiciously.

"Josephine." Buffy muttered.

Joey held up her hand to Harry. "Joey Summers, at your service."

Harry laughed again as he shook her little hand.

"Does it hurt?"

"Does what hurt?"

"That swiggle scar on your forehead that looks just like cartoon lightening."

"Joey." Buffy hissed.

Harry smirked at her. "Only when I laugh."

"Must not hurt much, huh?"

Harry was entranced. What an odd conversation to have with a kid who didn't speak like a kid.

"Joey." She hissed at her daughter again before looking at their guests. "I'm sorry. She hasn't learned that speaking your mind is all well and good, but sometimes tact is the order of the day."

"Aunt Cordy says that tact is not saying true stuff."

"Aunt Cordy is also the one who said that being popular was not only her right but her responsibility."

"That was when she was in high school, Mom. She was the princess, and you were the one who beat people up and set fires to the gym."

Buffy scowled. "And no more spending alone time with Aunt Cordy."

Joey snorted. "She mostly talks about Uncle Xander anyways, and how she would never have thought an eye patch would be sexy."

Buffy squeaked and blushed. "Stop talking. Now. Please."

Harry was laughing outright. The man behind him was chuckling as well.

"I am so sorry." Buffy said, mortified. She was SO having a talk with Cordelia.

"She's fine. Delightful, actually." The older man said as he finally got to cut in and introduce himself. His hand jutted out towards Buffy. "Remus Lupin."

Buffy took the hand in her own. Warmth spread from the points of skin his hand was touching and up her arm to her elbow. There was strange energy on him. She couldn't quite place it. Plus, there was the name. It sounded familiar.

"Mommy?"

Remus tried to pull his hand away, but the slayer held fast. She closed her eyes and inhaled all the scents in the room.

"What's she doing?" Harry whispered.

"Shh." Remus said.

A slight grin cropped up on Buffy's face. It had just occurred to her. Werewolves smelled like no one else. You could detect it in their skin. It flowed up in their very sweat. It was the smell of the call of the wild. After doing so much research, Buffy knew the scent well.

The name hit her then too. The professor. He used to teach. He was on that list of known wolves Willow had. Buffy had read over that name... Remus Lupin... hundreds of times. He'd taught Defense Against the Dark Arts. She'd liked the sound of that, so she remembered researching even harder because she wanted him to be able to teach that again

Buffy's eyes snapped open. "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical, naked..."

Remus gasped. They were still holding hands.

"You can drop my mom's hand any time now. Really."

Harry was looking confused. "Remus?"

"By scent?" Remus asked Buffy.

"It is unique."

"You are well-honed."

"Lots of practice."

"Um..." Harry interrupted.

"Harry, that was a quote from a muggle poem by Allen Ginsberg."

"Okaaaaaay." Harry still looked confused.

"The poem's called 'Howl'."

"Ohhhh." Joey whispered in awe. "You're a werewolf. That's so cool."

Remus looked at the little girl in shock. This was nothing like he had expected. Albus had asked him if he would like to meet the slayer. Remus had jumped at the chance because he had wanted so to meet one of the researchers behind the laws that allowed him a life now. Buffy Summers was a force behind anything and everything he had now, and he had wanted to know what sort of person she was. He had not, however, expected her to be a lovely woman with a little girl just as charming and beautiful as she appeared to be. He'd been unable to breath when Harry and he had walked into the room and caught them singing and dancing. He felt as if he'd stumbled upon a fairy ring in the forbidden forest.

Plus she was so tiny, so delicate-looking... so... well pretty. He'd expected the slayer to be bigger or at least a little worn and rough-looking. Especially considering she had outlived slayer life expectancy by about fifteen years. She was none of that. This woman was as fresh as a daisy.

"Ah, Remus, Harry, I see you have met Miss Buffy Summers and her daughter Josephine. Excellent."

Everyone looked up as Giles entered with a full-on wizard behind him. This guy looked the part. White beard, flowing robes, pointy hat, and all.

"Gandalf like a mug." Joey whispered.

Buffy poked her again.

Joey skirted around everyone and held her hand out to the old wizard who was looking at her with a delighted expression. "Joey Summers."

He took her hand. "Albus Dumbledore."

Joey's eyes went wide. He was the head of that school she'd heard the adults talking about. A witch school. They taught you magic there. Joey was interested.

"You're the hog parts guy."

"Hogwarts."

"Right. It sounds cool, a place where they teach you magic. Aunt Willow SO could have used that a few times. Could I visit sometime?"

"Joey." Giles hissed.

"Oh I think you and I will be seeing one another in about four years, Miss Summers."

"What?" Giles and Buffy said at the same time.

"Ms. Summers, your daughter is a witch."

Joey gaped. "Just like Aunt Willow."

Dumbledore leveled his gaze at her. "I do believe there is no one just like your Aunt Willow."

"Well, no, but me? A witch? I can barely float a pencil. Even my mom can float a pencil, and she's magically challenged."

"Hey." Buffy said.

"Your talents will emerge in time, Miss Summers."

"Cool." Joey eyed Harry. "So you go there, huh?"

"Yes."

"So tell me about the place?" Joey ordered as she grabbed Harry's hand and dragged him off from the adults.

Buffy was about to say something, but Dumbledore raised his hand. "That is the first time our Mister Potter has smiled a a great while, Ms. Summers. Best to let them be. I knew Harry would find someone to take his mind off of his troubles here."

Buffy cast a worried glance at Harry who was already looking as big brother-y with Joey as Angel's son Connor did sometimes.

"Harry's a good kid. He'll watch out for her."

Buffy looked at Remus Lupin as he offered his arm. They were only going about ten feet where the sofas were near the fireplace and a silver tea service was waiting, but Buffy took the arm anyhow.

Giles was grinning at her, and Dumbledore seemed to have a particular sparkle in his eye as the four of them sat down to talk about how the Watcher's Council could aid the Order of the Phoenix in getting rid of Voldemort once and for all.

Buffy relaxed into the conversation. It would be good to have a real villain to work against again. She was always at her best when she had a target for pummeling. The sadness of Riley's memory from her thoughts earlier was fading. She was fighter. She always had been. Sure, she had been torn apart by losses in her life, but she would never leave everyone who loved her behind... not without a fight.

And even if she did, Willow could always bring her back. Joey was right. She always won. The victory may be a bit bittersweet at times, but she prevailed because she never laid down and died... figuratively speaking. She would not dwell on her personal losses. She would help prevent more of them. She would not dwell on Riley. She had not loved him anyway. Well, she had, but it wasn't all-consuming. It hadn't made her burn. Not like with Angel. Angel was a 'nothing compares to you' kind of love, but she was not going to dwell on that either. The thing with Angel and herself was neither here nor there just now. The both of them still had battles to fight. Maybe they always would, maybe they'd had their brief time in Eden, and it was never meant to be again. Time would tell on that particular bit of fate.

Buffy was not going to let herself be sad about the men who had left her life at various times, some of them more than once, any longer. She had other things to think on. She'd had a shower, a dance, and a revelation. Buffy was feeling much better now. Her shoulder ache had all but disappeared into an annoying twinge.

This Voltron guy didn't stand a chance.

*~*

end
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