Regression and AggressionDisclaimer
: I don’t own Buffy or Anita Blake. That’s Joss Whedon or Laurell K. Hamilton.Author’s Note:
This is in answer to Caliadragon’s Challenge, number 3532, if you want details. Yes, I know I’ve already answered it and posted that here but when I started the first one, the ideas for three others popped up. So I wrote those, slowly, and have decided to post them, too. And yes, besides small details and the end results, the first chapters are the same. Just go with it.Chapter One
Dawn was running as fast as a woman with two seven year olds clutched to her could run. It was all the fucking Immortal’s fault. They’d all told Buffy that he was bad news but he had promised her normal and Buffy’d fallen for it. Dawn would have snorted if she had had the breath. What would an Immortal know about giving a Slayer normal?
The dinner party’d all been a ploy to get the Scoobies in one place, something rare since Sunnydale had fallen. Ones and twos they managed. The whole group was almost never together. The surviving Old School Watchers had been afraid that the Scoobies would stage a coup (which, okay, they had) and had talked the Immortal into wooing the longest-lived Slayer so that they might betray her. If it hadn’t been aimed at her friends and family, Dawn might have marveled at the ingeniousness of it. Using Buffy’s human weakness to bring her down and everyone that stood with her.
The Watchers’ plans would’ve worked perfectly if the rest of the Scoobies had trusted the Immortal as much as Buffy. Instead, they’d come to dinner loaded for bear. Or, really, the most magical, deadly creature anyone had been able to imagine. That maybe had a small army of big, nasty minions.
Willow’d sent Dawn and Xander in with enough protective amulets to ward off the Angel of Death. Faith had gone in knowing that she was their physical protection. That’s why they’d survived. The Watchers couldn’t kill them, no matter what they did but they could incapacitate them. Faith and Xander had been hit with some spell, Xander stepping in front of Faith to take the brunt of it.
The screaming when everyone had seen the two little bodies had been some of the most terrifying of Dawn’s life. Willow had yelled for Dawn to take them and run and then Darth Rosenberg was in the house. Dawn had grabbed the two little kids and the bag she’d packed earlier that day. She got clear of the building in time for it to explode, taking two thirds of the surviving Watchers, around 100 Slayers, and the rest of the Scoobies with it, and hopefully giving the Immortal’s immortality a run for its money. Asshat.
That’d been nearly a week ago and Dawn had managed to travel halfway around the globe, care for two seven-year-olds, and elude whoever was hunting them. She needed to hide Xander and Faith. She couldn’t keep running with them being the age they were. Goddess, she
had to protect them
, now. She was the oldest. She wanted to cry.
The list of who she could leave them with was so
small. She’d cast spells looking for Oz but they only came back that he was alive. The couple she’d cast looking for Cordy had popped the same so she knew that the spell was probable cracked, seeing as how she’d been to Cordy’s headstone and had only used her as a benchmark. Wesley was dead and Angel and Spike were having to fight nearly ‘round the clock to clean up L.A. after Wolfram and Hart’s little blow out, spending most of the daylight hours tromping through sewers.
She couldn’t leave them with Riley. She loved him like a brother but she couldn’t trust him, not with this. Not with Xander and Faith’s lives. For all that Riley’d fought demons, been in the know for years, he still thought like a mortal, like a norm.
And Xander and Faith weren’t normal, not anymore, thanks to the Immortal and the Watchers. Faith was a miniature Slayer. By far the youngest Slayer on record, she had very little control. And whatever the spell that’d hit them had been, it had unlocked some hidden talents of Xander’s, talents Dawn was really wishing had stayed hidden. Listening to Xander baby-babble to her sister’s ghost was freaking her out. And, seriously, the juiced up demon magnetism thing was getting old. Every time she stopped to breathe, a demon popped out of the woodwork.
Dawn dodged into a busy building and slowed to a walk, trying to catch her breath.
“Dawn,” a tiny voice caught her attention. She looked down at Xander’s face and cringed at his milky eyes. “Dawn, it’s me, Andrew. Take them to the Marshall, Dawn. The Marshall. She’ll protect them. She owes…” Xander trailed off and blinked, white fading to the familiar chocolate brown. “Sleepy,” he yawned.
She kissed his forehead. “Go to sleep, Xan. I know what to do.”
Dawn managed to convince the building manager to let her out the back way and caught a cab, saying, “Take me to the nearest hotel.”
And Dawn thanked the goddess for Xander’s paranoia and the emergency packets of cash that had been spread out over the globe now resting at her feet in its own magicked knapsack. The hotel was a roach motel and she refused to even set Faith and Xander on the floor. She set them carefully on the spindly table that’s only saving grace was that it was moderately clean, warning them to stay still and quiet. She was sure, since they’d been so well behaved thus far, that they were still mostly themselves, just trapped in smaller bodies. Then she rooted through her bag for all the spare magical ingredients she’d managed to pick up on the way.
What she was going to do was, well, possibly foolhardy. There were definitely other ways to do it but those ways took time and that was something she just didn’t have.
The power built and built until she could barely breathe. Their connection to Anita’s world was so tenuous. They’d gone to the Alternate Universe for some herbs that were necessary for one of Willow’s potions, yet extinct in their world. Anita had been kind if a bit surly, bringing them under the umbrella of her protection. It was that link, however faint, that Dawn reached for now, reached for and used to shift from this, the world of her creation, to Anita’s world.
It hurt. Goddess above, it all hurt so bad. She was pretty sure she had empathy for Warren fucking Meers, now, because this was like being flayed alive, the magic writhing under her skin and bursting forth.
Then she was there, standing in front of the deceptively tiny woman that would be their salvation.
“Dawn?” Anita asked, scowling.
Dawn answered by her eyes rolling back in her head and sinking into a tangle of tiny people and wore out Key. Chapter Two
Dawn had slept for two days. She knew that, because she’d asked. She was trying not to freak out. The Watchers didn’t know she could tap into the Key. Giles had made it clear that that was privileged information. He’d been worried about what the Watchers would try to do to her if they knew. Dawn fought off tears, embracing the dark anger she’d inherited from Buffy.
They were staying at the Circus of the Damned because Anita was worried about taking three people from another world out into hers. Dawn was going to fix that, though.
“Anita,” Dawn started again. They’d been having this conversation for nearly an hour but this was Anita Blake she was dealing with. Stubbornness was to be expected. “Please.” Begging wasn’t something she’d tried, yet, and it seemed to shake Anita. Or maybe that was the tears she angrily swiped from her face. “Please take them. There is no fixing them. I can’t take them back or they’ll be killed.” Dawn sobbed. “I can’t even stay with them. The Watchers can find me, will
find me once they figure out the world-jumping thing. Please. Please, Anita, please
Anita looked severely uncomfortable. She was very mannish in her ineptitude with emotion. “Dawn…”
“I can make them yours,” Dawn said on a shuddery breath. “Genetically your son and daughter. The whole world
will see them as yours. Please
Anita looked at the other side of the bed where Xander was wrapped around Faith in sleep. They’d fallen into the same comatose state as Dawn, which the teen had said probably
had to do with her maybe borrowing power on the trip to Anita’s world. That, and their brand new little bodies had gone through several shocks in the past few days.
Anita could barely reconcile that little boy with the grown man she’d met and formed a quick and unbreakable attachment to. He’d been the only man she’d ever met that hadn’t underestimated her, something not even Edward could claim. And Faith, he’d told her stories about Faith. Stories that’d been full of affection even as he’d been completely honest and told her what the woman had done. Could she take them? Could she accept that responsibility?
Not even a month ago, she’d gone nearly catatonic at the idea. But she knew
Xander Harris, had seen him smile, seen him angry. She couldn’t turn him away and if that meant taking Faith too, well, alright.
“Fine,” Anita said quietly. “I need to talk to some people but fine.”
Dawn slumped back into her pillows in relief. “Thank you. I’ll cast in three days. Have to recharge the ole batteries but in three days, they’ll be yours.”
Anita smiled wanly. “Wonderful.” She stalked away to talk to some people, leaving Dawn to do whatever.
‘Whatever’ mostly meant sleeping. And sleeping meant dreaming. Dawn was pretty sure she’d been having the same dream for days but it was pretty damn fuzzy when she woke up.
For three days, she ate, slept, and prayed that Xander and Faith would wake up after she did yet another spell on them. She would feel guilty if she wasn’t busy trying to save their damned lives.
Finally, when her powers were back to their steady, gentle flow and she was beyond terrified that they’d waited too long, that the Watchers would be coming for them any minute, she decided to cast.
Dawn pushed the panic away and began to make the magic build. As she did, the faintest memory of her dreams drifted back to her. Every time
, Cordelia had promised that she would be there soon, to just hang on. Dawn just smiled grimly and kept amping up the power. This would kill her, strip the Key from her very essence and re-write the world to keep Xander and Faith safe. She had made peace with that. She just hoped Anita could forgive her. After all, she’d promised that, while it was a difficult spell, everyone would be fine. Technically, it wasn’t a lie. Dead was fine, if not exactly the same state of being.
When the magic burned in her blood, boiled along her skin, she thrust it outward and welcomed oblivion. She was unaware of the bright white light that washed through the room, then raced after the Key’s magic, gathering it back up as it spread across the world. Oh, the memories were recreated, shifted a bit. But the Key wouldn’t stay with those memories. Once they changed, it dispersed.
So the white light that wrapped around the world finally started to shrink back, back to a room under the Circus of the Damned, to shove that green essence into the tiny vessel that’d been recreated for it. Then the white light receded back into two sleeping forms, one tiny red haired boy and one brunette girl.
The room went from painfully silent to deafening as people freaked out.
Anita pressed a hand to her chest where there felt like there was a burning hole and wondered just what the hell she’d gotten herself into. Because, instead of just two seven-year-olds, there were five kids and if any of them were over five, she’d eat Jean-Claude’s ruffled shirt. Chapter Three
Anita was sitting, staring at the bed. The bed that held five kids that all the paperwork she’d found said were hers. And besides everyone that’d been in the room at the time of the spell, the rest of the world thought they were hers, too.
Hell, she had memories of giving birth to them, of fielding calls from her father wanting to talk, wanting to reconnect so he could know his grandchildren. Remembered having them Christened with Edward as their godfather and Catherine as their godmother. And all of that was impossible because she hadn’t known Micah five years ago, hadn’t been sleeping with anyone
four years ago. She’d had Dr. Lillian do a DNA test plus blood tests for Vlad’s syndrome and Lycanthropy. She didn’t need the tests, though. She could feel
their power, dancing along her skin, pressing against her mind.
Oz was Nathaniel’s, she knew, and he’d been named after the Wizard of Oz, one of his father’s favorite books. Oz was tiny, fair skinned, and redhaired, barely looking a thing like Anita. She remembered that that was always everyone’s first comment upon seeing him. He didn’t really resemble her.
Faith was Micah’s, which still struck Anita as ludicrous. She’d been surrounded by other men at the time, not that she’d ever want such a binding tie to one of them. But not only hadn’t she known him, but Micah’d been clipped so he couldn’t have children. Still, though, Faith was all long, dark curls and pale skin, much like Anita herself. Unlike Oz, there was never any doubt when it came to Faith. She was definitely
Anita’s daughter, in looks and temperament.
Xander and Cordelia were Raphael’s and Anita was more comfortable with that than she’d like to admit. He was a good man and it had never set right that his ex-wife had taken his son and wouldn’t share. Anita would share, happily, her dark-haired, golden skinned babies.
Dawn had come a year later and was Jean-Claude’s. Anita remembered the look on his face when the little girl had been born. He’d been beautiful in his joy. Dawn was auburn haired and blue-eyed, like his mother, he’d told her.
Richard had come very close to pouting because he didn’t get a child, even if it would have tied him into something that he wouldn’t have wanted. That was another thing. When the lights had faded, the triumvirate bonds had shifted from Richard to Jason. Richard was the same powerful wolf he’d always been but now, he was free of Anita and Jean-Claude. Jason was bound to them and his powers were in flux because of it. He was getting the hang of it faster than Richard had but still…What a time to be having to relearn everything.
Anita herself was having to get used to not having the arduer. It’d been a welcome shock even as she’d had to consider how it would affect her private life.
Anita wanted to rage that this wasn’t what she’d agreed to but she didn’t think any of this was what Dawn had intended, either. Anita had a nasty feeling Dawn hadn’t meant to survive. Whether she was ready or not, five little souls now depended on her to keep them safe. Surprisingly, she found that made her feel fiercer than she had before instead of soft and cuddly like she’d imagined motherhood would make her feel. Chapter Four
The first day all the kids were awake would stand out for three things. Dr. Lillian had dropped by early, while the children were eating breakfast, and asked to speak to Anita privately.
Raphael followed her in and commanded, “Just tell everyone, Doctor. It’ll affect everyone here, anyway.”
Xander and Cordelia had run and thrown themselves at his front and he’d swept them up like they’d always been his. Yes, Anita was okay with sharing two of her babies with him.
Dr. Lillian sighed resignedly and said, “All of the children have Anita’s multiple strands of Lycanthropy, although theirs is active and I don’t believe they must answer the moon’s call.”
Anita had paled, setting her hand on Dawn’s head. “You don’t think it’ll drive them crazy, do you?”
Dr. Lillian frowned. “I believe…Chimera went insane immediately after his first infection. He began as a man with principle that believed that it was okay to hunt Lycanthropes because they were animals. The very idea might have driven him mad. Of course, that’s all conjecture. I’m not a psychologist.”
Anita nodded, idly petting Dawn’s hair. “That’s fine with me. It sounds right, too.”
Dr. Lillian left and the day progressed as normally as a day with five kids under the age of six could go. Anita was sure, later, that they been lulling her into a false sense of security.
The moon rose and the shit hit the fan.
Anita finally had to kneecap a couple of vampires before all the preternaturals got the clue that Xander was her little boy and the next being that tried to pick him up and take him home was going to end up hurting, quite possibly dead. Melanie the Lamia had had to be warned twice but Melanie’d always been a little thick brained, plus she’d lost all of her offspring when Anita had killed them. She was lonely, Anita got that, but he was hers and she wasn’t sharing with a woman-beast that had tried to kill her.
Anita spent so much time fending off the preternaturals that she didn’t really notice that the normal humans were acting odd, too. Not until a shot echoed to the room off the performance areas that she was standing in. The screams were followed by shouting and Anita was torn between running towards the sound of gunshots or to the basement where her kids were holed up. She finally shoved into the crowd, choosing to trust that Jean-Claude and Asher would protect the kids to their dying moment.
When she got to the stadium, she went stock still at the sight of several hundred people trying to force open the doors, several of them lycanthropes. Whatever was happening, she wasn’t going to be any help to them, so she turned and raced for the basement.
“Humans First,” Jean-Claude announced as she skidded to a halt in the living room. Anita’s heart thumped hard. “The police have been called but I doubt, Ma Petite, that they will arrive in time.”
He looked pinched and worried, Dawn cradled securely in his arms.
“In time for what?” Anita demanded, although she knew that they didn’t know.
“To stop the fire,” Cordelia whispered and turned her face up to Anita. Anita winced at her milk white eyes. Xander did that, too, but only when he was communing with the dead. Cordy’s was purely from her seer talents.
Asher sucked in a deep, harsh breath and Anita took a moment to worry about his psychosis. Fire had taken his Judith and now seemed ready to take his new human family.
“Well,” she started, thinking of escape routes. Except there weren’t any because Jean-Claude had closed up the few there had been after he’d taken control of the city.
“I’ll fix it,” Cordy said dazedly and threw up her hands, her head falling back. A wash of white swept out of the room and then she crumpled to the floor.
Jean-Claude tilted his head even as Anita rushed to Cordelia. “The others are saying that the people that had been surrounding the building with flaming bottles have…dropped them as they were shoved back by a light. Most of them caught fire.”
“What the hell was that?” Anita demanded, a bit nonplussed at Jean-Claude’s nonchalant attitude about their daughter throwing some kind of white force outwards.
Xander came up and wrapped his hand around the sleeve of her shirt. “It’s part of her magic, Mama.” He blinked his pretty brown eyes at her and Anita felt that familiar yet not softness sweep through her heart. “Don’ be mad.”
Don’t be mad. Anger had always been Anita’s go-to emotion but having kids (inheriting them, whatever) had taught her that everything couldn’t be about anger all the time.
“I’m not,” she said, although she was. She was angry. At Humans First and the Watcher’s Council and anybody else that wanted to hurt her kids. She wasn’t, however, angry about Cordelia. “I’m not mad at Cordelia.”
His little body slumped into hers. “Okay.”
Anita wrapped her free arm around him, watching as Oz and Faith pressed into Asher, instinctively trying to comfort him. It didn’t matter what had been done to make them hers, they were
, and that was all that mattered. EpilogueThirteen Years Later
Prom was an odd thing to be preparing for in the Blake-Callahan household. Dawn, the little smarty pants, had skipped a year and was therefore going with her brothers and sisters. Well, she had a date of her own, so she wasn’t exactly going with them. Cordelia had laughed her ass
off the first time she’d seen Dawn’s date. Connor was an interesting boy, admittedly, but Anita didn’t quite get what was so funny about him.
Anita finished zipping Faith’s dress, careful not to shake her head in dismay where Faith could see it. Leather. Her daughter looked like a dominatrix. A classy dominatrix but still, a dominatrix. Xander and Oz had at least settled for a traditional suit, even if Oz had blue hair and Xander was wearing Chuck Taylors with his.
Cordelia swept into the room, hair perfectly coifed, dress just so
. Dawn might have been Jean-Claude’s by blood but Cordelia was his by way of fashion. It didn’t help at all that Raphael doted on her, too.
“Mom, we’re going to be late,” Cordelia said and for once didn’t sound like she was giving someone a command.
Anita pursed her lips. “I want some pictures.” There were several groans. “Okay, fine. Your fathers want some pictures.”
There was rustling and grumbling but they all arranged themselves and smiled pretty for the camera. A few pictures taken, they all hustled out to the limousine Jean-Claude had insisted on hiring for the evening.
“You all behave and no after parties,” Anita said with resolve. They all nodded and flapped their hands in the way that said she was being an annoyingly overprotective mother. “And have fun.”
She slammed the door to the car and stood in the driveway, watching it pull away. Micah wrapped himself around her from behind and Nathaniel carefully took her hand in his.
He squeezed her fingers. “They’ll be fine.”
Anita nodded, brow furrowed. “I know.”
Micah squeezed her waist. “They’re good kids.”
Anita’s heart squeezed. “I know.”
And she did. She was pretty sure, if it hadn’t been for them, she never would have reached her current age, at least with most of her health intact. They’d given her something to keep going for, something she could look at and say, ‘Hey, I did that,’ and be proud. And she never had to worry about them with the other preternaturals because, to a one, they were each some of the most powerful individuals around. They would come home from this oh so human right of passage and tomorrow night, they’d go to the Lupanar and by the light of the moon, celebrate their very inhumanness. Her children straddled two worlds like they were born to.