I own nothing. Buffy and Angel people belong to Joss and Mutant Enemy. I'm just playing. Don't sue. The Anita Blake verse belongs to Laurell K Hamilton. Basically I own nothing. Authors Notes:
This is written in response to Mhalachai's challenge on Twisting the Hellmouth. It was written before 'Hug a Donor' but *hugs*. A big thank you to the wonderful Demona for looking over this fic on such short notice.Spoilers/Warnings:
Set fourteen years after Normal Again, so obviously for that episode. Anita Blake 'verse is AU from Narcissist in Chains. You will need to have an understanding of Buffy and Anita Blake (although only a basic knowledge of Anita Blake is required – if in doubt, google). Also, I'm Australian. I know nothing about the geography of St Louis so I'm just making it up. :DSummary:
For a time, when she first emerged from her schizophrenic hallucination she had been weak, timid, almost terrified to exist in the real world without her slayer powers.
It's based on this challenge, however, I took a little liberty and set it a little further than what I think was wanted. The challenge is to cross BtVS's "Normal Again" episode with the fandom of your choice. If you don't recall, "Normal Again" is the season six episode where Buffy is poisoned by a demon and hallucinates that she is in a mental hospital, her mother is alive, and Dawn and Buffy's life as a Slayer are hallucinations.
The point of the challenge: Buffy's life as a Slayer is a delusion, but one she feels she has truly lived. When she recovers from her catatonic state and goes home with her mom and dad in the crossover world, she must deal with what she remembers from her "life" in Sunnydale.
Fic should include:
- Buffy falling into conversation with Joyce about Dawn, only to realize Joyce doesn't know what she's talking about.
- Buffy seeking to hold on to some vestige of her "old" life.
- Buffy interacting with the main characters of the crossover world in a work setting (her work or theirs.)
- Look-alikes (i.e., no Xander-shaped friends around the corner)
- Suicide or mutilation. No matter how you slice it, Buffy’s strong and she's moving forward.
Bonus points if you have a Hank and Buffy scene.
~ New Dawn ~
Buffy sits on the balcony of her hotel room, coffee in hand, watching, waiting for the new dawn. It's a ritual for her, one she's only missed a handful of times. She likes dawn because it's one of the only times she finds herself alone. It's the one time of day where she can really be herself, where she doesn't have to pretend that the world she created in her schizophrenic mind doesn't influence every single decision she makes in the real world. Buffy knows she wouldn't be who she is today if it wasn't for her schizophrenic world. She only has vague memories of her life before she was struck with undifferentiated schizophrenia and she knows that before she truly was the clichéd Californian teenager. When she finally woke up, she had been different, permanently altered by what she had seen in her mind. For a time, when she first emerged from her hallucination she had been weak, timid, almost terrified to exist in the real world without her slayer powers...
It took time, but she's not scared now. If she hadn't gotten over her fear, her loss, she wouldn't be here, in St Louis, about to start yet another chapter of her life.
She smiles as she watches the dawn. Once the sun has risen high enough in the sky she moves into her hotel room to prepare.~*~*~
"Ms Summers? I'm Micah Callahan."
Buffy stands and waits momentarily before shaking his hand, studying him carefully. These first meetings were always a little tricky. Some go well while others go not so well. Buffy's not wagering any money that this will turn out well. As far as she can see, it can go either way. She's heard nothing but good things about the man before her, but she's heard less than good things about this city, and about his girlfriend, which is why it's taken her so long to come out here. She knows what she's doing is dangerous, and that there will be people lining up around the block to skin her alive when they find out she's come here alone, but she's not really the type to do what people tell her to do. So she's here anyway, against everyone else's better judgement.
As far as Buffy's concerned, the risks of what she's doing aren't enough to stop her from being here. She's got a job, a purpose, and even though she isn't imbued with strength and skill from the Powers That Be, she can't stop herself from doing this regardless of how much trouble she'll be in by the time she's done. Although, a part of her is holding on to the naive hope that maybe she can get in and out of St Louis without anyone knowing she was here... or without avoid all the drama that usually follows her.
The irony that she's as well known in the real world's preternatural community as she was in the schizophrenic world she created is not lost on her.
Taking a deep breath, Buffy smiles at Mr Callahan and tries not to get too excited when she realises there's none of the recognition in his eyes she usually sees when she meets men like Callahan. She knows that her anonymity won't last long, it never does, but it's nice while it lasts. "Nice to meet you, Mr Callahan."
"Micah," he corrects her, motioning for her to sit while he moves to his seat behind the desk. "How can I help you, Ms Summers?"
"Please, call me Buffy," she tells him, "and I want you to build me a house."
His nods, not surprised by her request.
"I bought a couple of hectares of vacant land just outside town, I want to build the house there."
Micah’s brow furrows and she knows that he's trying to work out where the land she's talking about is. There's not a lot of places around town where you can buy a couple of hectares, the only place is...
"Near the forest?" he asks, frowning.
She nods and smiles brightly. "Right on the edge." He looks a little startled, and with reason. The land she purchased is used by lycanthropes on the full moon.
"Ms Summers, are you aware that St Louis has one of the largest lycanthrope community in the United States?"
It's why she's here. ~*~*~
It takes her two hours to convince him she's not just some dumb blonde and that she's serious when she says she wants to build a house out in the middle of lycan-land. He's spent more time trying to convince her to buy land elsewhere than looking at the plans to the house. The fact that he's still looking at her like she's crazy makes her think that maybe, maybe
he hasn't heard of her at all. It's possible. After all St Louis is... well, St Louis
and there's so many bad guys trying to beat them down here that it's possible he hasn't heard of one of the good guys. Or maybe he just hasn't put two and two together. Either way Buffy's almost certain she'll be able to get out of town with her secret intact. Micah's still trying to talk her out of her plan when they exit his office. He's talking so loudly that the workers nearby stop and stare at them. She smiles brightly at them and doesn't let their stares bother her. If all goes according to plan, they'll be working for her in a month's time, when this job is finished, and if she can't stand curious stares now then she won't be able to stand it when they start the job.
"So, do you think you can do it?" Buffy asks, already knowing the answer. She did a lot of research before choosing Micah's construction company. Once he finds out what she has planned for the house, he'll do it. She'd bet her life on it.
"The construction is no problem. I can have a quote to you in a week, but Buffy –"
She cuts him off before he has a chance to start trying to talk her out of this again. She won't change her mind. When it comes to this, she never does. "I don't need a quote. I want you to do the job. I don't care how much it costs."
"No quote?" he repeats and Buffy realises she's made a mistake. He's suspicious. After all, how many people hire a contractor without getting a quote? He doesn't know that she admires his work, nor does he know she has a soft spot for wereleopards.
"No, I – " Her words are cut off by her cell and her heart seizes up at the sound. Her phone ringing is never a good sign. At least not when she's somewhere she's not supposed to be. Reluctantly, she pulls it from her bag. The name flashing on the screen causes her to groan. She's a dead woman.
Her face must be showing some of the emotions she's feeling, because Micah reaches out and touches her arm. "Buffy, is everything all right?" He's concerned.
She smiles, or at least tries to. "I'm sorry, I have to take this." It's almost a little tempting to send the call to voice mail but she knows things will be worse if she gives into that temptation. The last time she did that she had several pissed off Alphas riding into town to save her from a big fat nothing.
Sometimes being human isn't all it's cracked up to be.
"Hey sweetheart," she greets the caller and glances to where Micah's standing. He's going to be able to hear every part of this conversation and she can't ask him to move away without letting on that she knows what he is. The odds she'll leave town with her secret identity intact are getting lower by the second.
"Hey Mom!" The voice on the other side of the phone greets her with excessive cheer and it’s laced with an inflection she's heard a million times. She sighs in defeat when she realises that in more ways than one the jig is up. "How ya going?"
She rolls her eyes at the innocent question. "I'm fine honey, how are you?"
"Good, good," he replies, still sounding insanely cheerful.
Buffy closes her eyes and counts to ten.
"I was just ringing to let you know that Jeremiah and I are about to come over and visit you and the kids. We thought we'd bring some food and have a nice family dinner. Derek is going to come too. Jeremiah says it's been a while since you two caught up, so..."
"Enough, Luke," she cuts him off, not bothering to even try to pretend she hasn't been busted. She knows he's lying and he knows she knows he's lying. "How did you find out I'd left town?" She carefully timed her trip to St Louis so neither Luke nor Jeremiah would even know she was gone.
"I didn't. Jeremiah dropped by the house and when you weren't there he started calling around," Luke tells her. There's a moment's pause and she thinks for a second he's going to start yelling at her. Instead, he says the words she so didn't want to hear. "St Louis, Mom? I thought we'd discussed this."
She looks towards Micah and the look of concentration on his face means he's listening to every word. Not only that, but now he's studying her thoughtfully, differently. He's no longer looking at her like she's crazy... which is a relief, because she's had enough people looking at her like she's crazy to last several lifetimes. "No, you and your brother discussed this. I merely sat there while you two decided that I was never allowed to come here."
He sighs. "Okay, I concede your point, but you should have still called us to discuss it. At the very least we would have arranged safe passage –"
"I'm not a were, Luke. I don't need permission to enter into new territory."
He ignores her point and continues on like she hasn't said a word. "—and warned the lycanthrope community that you were going to be there and would need protection."
"I don't need protection, young man!" Oh God, she sounds like her mother!
"Company, then," he amends, amused. "Hell, I could have spoken to the Nimir Raj of the Blooddrinkers Clan. He owns a construction in St..." Luke trails off as the penny drops.
Buffy looks to Micah once again. His eyes are wide. Obviously Luke has met Micah at one stage or another which means it won't take Micah long to work out who she is. After all, Luke has never been exactly quiet about her, nor has Jeremiah or any of her other kids for that matter. It's both touching and a little annoying that they so readily share the story of their lives with anyone who will listen. The story of Buffy and her two sons is so well known in some
preternatural circles that it's earned her a moniker. It'll only be seconds now before Micah realises who
she is, especially since Luke Summers is calling her 'mom'.
"Ah, Mom, where are you right now?" Luke's voice brings her mind back to the problem at hand. He sounds pissed – and a little worried.
"I'm on the way to my car and I'll be back at the hotel in half an hour. We can continue this conversation then," she says in her sternest 'mom' voice. It doesn't always work, but she's willing to give it a shot.
It's her turn to ignore him. "Tell your brother and his Alpha to call me then. I'm not answering my cell while I'm driving." She flips her cell shut and shakes her head in disgust.
Micah clears his throat.
Buffy sighs, annoyed. He looks more than a little shell shocked. "So, Micah, you have my numbers. You can reach me on my cell for the next couple of days while I'm in St Louis after that you can reach me on the landline. When you've made your decision call me and we'll discuss the schedule."
He nods his head slowly. "Ms Summers..."
Back to Ms Summers? So
not a good sign. "It was nice meeting you, Mr Callahan." She hesitates a moment before adding, "You might want to get to your cell phone. I'm pretty sure the Luke, the Nimir Raj of the Annoying-Leopards Clan, will be calling you soon."
She turns on her heel and heads to her car. When she's only a few steps from it she turns and calls out to Micah who, incidentally, hasn't moved from where she left him. "You might want to get in touch with the local Ulfric and tell him he might get a call from Jeremiah, Freki of the Big-Butthead Clan."
It's only when she’s in her car and driving to her hotel that she realises every lycanthrope on the construction site was watching the exchange. ~*~*~
She spends the next several hours on the phone. By the time the phone rings for the last time she's ready to kill every person with the last name Summers who isn't her. She's pretty sure Luke and Jeremiah have called every member of their family just to piss her off. No sooner does she hang up from one call, the phone rings again and it's someone else wanting to rip her a new one for sneaking off. Worse still, they called her mother, who is not
happy. God, she's going to kick their butts... or hire someone to do it for her. Technically, they had no right to be annoyed with her. She told the two or three people where she was just in case there was an emergency back home.
"...know you can take care of yourself, Buffy," Buffy heard her mom say over the phone when she tunes back into the conversation. "I'm just worried about you."
Buffy winces at the concern she hears in her mother's voice. "I'm fine, Mom. I give you my word that I'm taking every precaution to remain safe. I've scheduled all my appointments with suppliers and contractors through the day so I won't accidentally meet with any vampires. In fact I deliberately arranged the whole trip so I wouldn't be away from home on a Tuesday."
"Why? What's wrong with Tuesdays?"
"It's the day Dawn usually..." She freezes at the slip.
"Dawn? Is she one of your new kids?"
"Never mind, it doesn't matter." Buffy sags against the wall in relief. It's been fourteen years since she woke up from her schizophrenic hallucination and it took a long time for her to adjust to the real world – to the fact that vampires were actually real and that she wasn't the Slayer, that couldn't protect herself or anyone else from... anything. For the longest time she missed Sunnydale, the simple vampires she invented there... and the safety she felt there. Over the years, she's been careful not to slip up, to say something that would remind her family of the time when the only world Buffy could see was the one in her head. This is her first slip in a long time. In fact, it's been so long since she's slipped that her mom has forgotten a few details about the world she created for herself. If Buffy had been talking to her father, however, she'd be in a whole world of trouble. The Hank Summers in the real world is nothing
like the one in her hallucination. He doesn't miss a thing and he's not afraid to involve her kids to keep her safe. Damn the man.
"Honey, are you all right?" Her mom pauses for a moment before asking the question that never fails to make Buffy cringe. "Are you taking your medication?"
"Every day and night," Buffy promises, feeling a stab of guilt at the question. There's a good reason why Buffy's avoided St Louis for all these years and why just the mention of St Louis would send her entire family into a state of worry. It's not the city that scares her family so much, rather it's the people and their relationships. This is the only city where the real world's version of a slayer is in love a vampire. It's the parallel to Buffy's false life that scares her family. They're scared that it will remind her of the life she left behind in Sunnydale, and that Buffy might want to go back there.
She does miss that world – her sister and her friends – more than anything. But she won't go back to it. She's needed here. She's worked out her own way to protect those that need protecting. She didn't need to go back. She's found her power, her gift, and it's nothing to do with death.
"Mom, seriously, you don't have to worry. I met with the contractor today and I'm pretty sure he's going to take the job. That means I only have to meet with the window people and the local coven and then I'm done. I should be home the day after..." A sharp knock at the door causes her words to fall away. Since Micah is the only person close enough who knows her, she's not at all surprised to see Micah standing outside her hotel room door. Although she's a little surprised to see three men behind him.
"Mom, I have to go. The contractor is here and he has some questions about the house." It's not quite a lie, she's sure.
After all, this isn't the first time she's done this and his presence here means that he knows who she is.~*~*~
"Okay, there's tea and coffee so help yourself," Buffy tells him. They've been here for over twenty minutes and so far they've barely gotten past the introductions. At least she knows who the other three men are now – Richard, Ulfric of the local werewolf pack; Rafael, wererat king; and Donovan, the swanmane king. All four men are watching her carefully, probably looking for any sign of fear, but she's not scared of these men.
"Thank you," Richard says, reaching for a teacup.
"So..." Buffy begins after another minute of awkward silence. "Since I'm playing host to lycanthrope royalty, can I assume my sons have called some if not all of you?"
Micah's lip twitches at the question. "Luke called not long after you left."
"Jeremiah called a little over three hours ago," Richard confirms.
"I was not contacted by your sons," Rafael tells her. "The Rom of the Los Angeles Rodere contacted me."
"I was contacted by a wereraven," Donovan confesses, smiling slightly.
She sighs. "Let me guess, they told you if anything happened to me within your territory they would hold you and your respective clans personally responsible and you would be hunted down and killed if you ever left your territory. They also told you that under no circumstances are any vampires or their human servants to approach me in any way shape or form and that if any of your people take me to the Master of the City, even under duress, they will pull out your ribcage and wear it as a hat." It was their usual threat.
"Something like that," Micah says.
It goes quiet again and Buffy sighs. "I'm sorry, they're protective and big annoying buttheads."
Richard chokes on his tea.
It's enough to make her crack a smile. "I'd like to tell you that they don't mean it, but they do. They'll kill all of you if anything happens to me and they'll call in help to do it. They'd even hire Death himself to do it." It's only fair to warn them. "It's why I tried to get in and out of here before they found out or word got back to them that I was here. Sorry."
They didn't look too happy with her, but she didn't care all too much. After all, she's been through this very situation more than once and nine times out of ten the local lycanthrope leaders usually let her explain before kicking her out of their town.
"So you're really The Guardian?" Richard asks, breaking the silence.
She winces at the name. Not so much because it's dorky as hell, but because it reminds her too much of another name she created.~*~*~
"The Guardian?" Donovan repeats, confused. "What is The Guardian?"
Her embarrassment at being called The Guardian fades momentarily as she looks at Donovan. "You haven't heard of The Guardian?" He shakes his head. "Wow. Been a long while since I met one who didn't know me." While there were those out there who didn't know Buffy Summers was The Guardian, at the very least they had heard of The Guardian... even if they believed it was just a story someone made up to make teenage lycanthropes sleep better at night.
"So you are The Guardian? You founded the New Dawn Foundation?" Micah pushes.
She nods. "I prefer Buffy, but yeah, that's what some of the lycanthrope community call me."
"I'm sorry, I still don't understand the title," Donovan says. "You are human."
"She's human," Micah confirms.
"The title The Guardian is a little misleading," Buffy tells them. "It makes me sound like some preternatural knight, a protector. I'm not. I don't have any super powers or magic. I'm one hundred percent human."
"So why do they call you The Guardian," Donovan asks. "What does it mean?"
"It's kind of a long story, but..." She takes a deep breath and looks to Micah. It's clear that Micah, Richard and maybe Rafael have heard the story and she doesn't want to bore them with unnecessary details.
"Go ahead," Richard tells her. "I've only heard parts of it. I'd like to hear the real version."
Okay, then. "About ten years ago I was walking home from college. It was late in the afternoon, close to sunset so I was in a bit of a hurry and not really watching where I was going. On the way to my apartment I tripped over something. A kid. He'd been beaten up pretty bad. There was a lot of blood but he was conscious, barely. Normally, I would have called 911, but I didn't have my cell on me and it was far too close to sunset so I took him home with me. I know it probably wasn't the smartest thing to do, but a kid bleeding on the street at night would only end one way. Once we got home I started cleaning him up and calling for help. I just started calling 911 when I noticed a few wounds he had on the street had healed. I hung up the phone and confronted the kid." Actually, that wasn't true. She had wigged. Up until that night, her parents had kept her almost obsessively sheltered from the supernatural world. She had not, at least as far as she knew, met any preternatural beings. So, when the kid had been less than human – and Buffy had been so very very human – she had freaked.
"He was a lycanthrope," Donovan says.
Buffy nods. "He was the only one of his kind at the time and a were of a similar nature attacked him, left him for dead."
"What was he?" he asks.
"A leopard," Micah answers for her. "It was Luke."
She nods even though it wasn't a question. "When he realised I was going to call the paramedics, he freaked and begged me not to send him to hospital." It was the only time she had seen Luke cry. "I just stared at him, I was wigging a little myself. When I didn't say anything he started trying to leave. He was still hurt, nowhere near full strength, but he was going to leave because I was going to call the authorities. I didn't know it at the time, but his family had abandoned him when they found out he was no longer human, as they were. If I took him to a hospital they would have put him in a safe house. When he eventually told me why he didn't want me to call the police or paramedics I told him he could stay."
"How old was he?" Rafael asks.
"He was fourteen."
"Fourteen?" Richard is stunned. This must be one of the parts he hasn't heard. "You let a fourteen year old wereleopard stay with you? He could have killed you! Not to mention the ones who left him for dead!"
"He needed someone." And she needed to be needed. One of the hardest parts of being in the normal world was that she wasn't needed. Buffy hadn't known how much she needed that until Luke. "But you're right, it was dangerous. He had a temper like you wouldn't believe and eventually the werecheetahs came back to finish the job. They hit us hard and fast, about two months after I took Luke in. They would have killed us if the local werewolf clan hadn't stepped in. Luke, at the time, knew that there was a chance the werecheetahs would come after him and, to protect me, he approached the werewolves for help. Luke told them everything from his attack, to me taking him in, and it caught the interest of the Ulfric. He was curious about the human college student who took a homeless wereleopard into her home. So, they saved us. Unfortunately, they didn't save the apartment."
"What happened then?" Donovan places his coffee cup on the table and is watching her with wrapt interest.
"Derek, the Ulfric, found us a house just a little out of town and gave it to me."
"He gave you a house?"
She nods. "On the condition that I take in one of his pack. He was a year younger than Luke but it was the same story. His family kicked him out when they found out what he was. Jeremiah was the second lycanthrope I took in."
"So you took in two lycanthropes?" Richard asks incredulously.
"Unofficially. I was only twenty-five and, well, with my history there was no way the state would officially let me foster them. The three of us did all right for a while, but it was hard. I mean, you all know what it's like controlling your animal side but for kids it's a lot harder. Every time Luke and Jeremiah fought they shifted."
"It's lucky you weren't killed," Micah says, almost disapprovingly.
"Luck had nothing to do with it." She smiles. This is the part she likes, the part of her story that's not so well known. "After one particularly bad near miss, I approached a coven of witches. To make a really long story not so long, I worked with them and we developed what's called the Sanctuary Spell."
"Basically, it prevents violence or attacks of any kind. It prevents humans from harming humans, lycanthropes from harming lycanthropes and humans and lycanthropes from harming one another. It creates a complete sanctuary." It's one of the things Buffy only tells a few people about, mostly Alphas she's trying to win over. Although, she has never told a soul where the idea of the spell came from.
Buffy can't help but laugh at Micah's reaction. It's always the same reaction. She often wonders why more people don't realise that she has never been scratched by a lycanthrope for a reason. They always assume she's insanely lucky, no pun intended. "With the Sanctuary Spell, I was able to turn my house into a sanctuary for teenage lycanthropes." Caritas, but she never calls it that out loud. "When word spread through the lycanthrope community in Los Angeles that there was a safe place for kids to stay, more kids came my way. Even some of the more sympathetic police and hospital staff would send the newly infected teenagers to me, unofficially of course." She gets adults too, from time to time, but they never usually stay longer than the next full moon. "It wasn't long before lycanthropes from nearby cities started asking me to set up similar refuges for them."
At first the Alphas of nearby cities thought she was simply setting up a home for unwanted teenagers, but when they found out about the Sanctuary Spell... that was when she received the name The Guardian. She kept the younger weres safe – from both humans and other lycanthropes. She wasn't always successful, but she was successful enough.
"When there were more calls for sanctuaries, I created the New Dawn Foundation, to help fund and support the kids. There are over thirty Sanctuary Houses throughout the United States. I don't run them personally, usually a witch or sometimes parents of lycanthropes run the refuges. I just provide the protection." Although, it wasn't as easy as she makes it sound, but she doesn't know these men enough to tell them more, about how the vampires had reacted when some of them found out about the Sanctuary Spell. If Derek and his pack hadn't been there, Buffy would have been killed a million times over. Suffice to say she doesn't like or trust vampires. Actually, she's never trusted vampires, at least not any that exist.
"You mentioned a few times that you didn't have official custody of Luke and Jeremiah," Micah says. "Yet they call you Mom."
"That's because I am." At their looks she adds, "Their mom, I mean. I adopted both of them when they turned eighteen."
"You... wow." Richard leans back on the chair where he's sitting. "Do you have any other adopted children?"
"I have six children," she tells them, unable to stop herself from beaming with pride. "It should be eight early next year. There's no law preventing someone from adopting an adult. I simply wait until the kids turn eighteen and offer them the chance to be part of the family legally. Not all the kids want it, some don't want to give up the chance that their blood families will take them back, others are happy with the family they have with their packs."
She doesn't offer any further information, instead she lets what she's told them sink in.
"So the house you want me to build is a Sanctuary House?" Micah asks.
"You didn't ask permission to build a house here," Rafael points out.
"I have building approval, if that's what you're asking. But if what you mean is that I didn't ask any of you for permission... I don't need to. I'm human, I don't have to follow your laws regardless of the fact that all my children are weres. Besides, I'm not building the Sanctuary for you guys, it's for the kids. It's a place where they don't have to worry about control and where they won't be rejected just because they go furry once a month." There were a few nightclubs out there, some adult sanctuaries, but those were always funded directly by the packs themselves.
"Can I ask why you do this?" Rafael asks.
This is always the question that is always the most difficult to answer. Only her parents, Luke and Jeremiah know about the world she created in her mind for six years and the possible reasons behind why she had created that world. Out of the four of them, it's only her boys who know the most intimate details. Things she couldn't tell her Mom or Dad. They're the only ones who knew that, even though it was a hallucination, she hated that death had been her gift. Towards the end of her, um, time in Sunnydale... Buffy had been so tired of fighting.
"I wanted to help people." She wanted to save people, but she didn't want to do it with violence.
Silence falls over the room again, but it's not an awkward silence like before. It's more like a thoughtful silence.
"I'll take the job," Micah says.
"I have a few wolves who will be willing to help speed up the construction," Richard offers.
"My Rodere can assist as well," Rafael adds.
"I can help fund the construction," Donovan says.
Buffy smiles. ~*~*~
The kings stay with her until just before dawn. The entire night was spent discussing her plans, her goals as well as what they wanted from her. She's tired when they leave, almost exhausted, but instead of going to bed like she should she heads out to the balcony with a glass of wine to watch the new dawn.
When the sun rises, she raises her glass and toasts the dawn... and the life she lived that never existed.
She never would have had this life without that one.