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Four Letter Word

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This story is No. 5 in the series "The Guardian Series". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: There's a four letter word no one dares utters in the Summers household, a word that never fails to cause pain... (Prequel to New Dawn) A Guardian 'Verse snapshot

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anita Blake > Buffy-Centered(Past Donor)LaneyFR1311,6042227,97216 Apr 1016 Apr 10Yes
Disclaimer: 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: I should be working on an assignment, instead I'm posting fic. I have no discipline. This is a prequel to New Dawn. You won't have a single idea what's going on unless you read that. This fic is simply fluff, with a dash of angst. A big thanks to the wonderful Demona for getting this back to me so quickly.

Spoilers/Warnings: BTVS: Normal Again. Anita Blake 'verse – none.

Summary: There's a four letter word no one dares utters in the Summers household, a word that never fails to cause pain... (New Dawn aka Guardian 'Verse snapshot)

Buffy knows something is wrong the moment she gets home. The kids, all five of them, are standing in the living room, almost like they are in formation. Luke, as always, is standing closest to Buffy, followed by Jeremiah, Ryan, Samuel, and finally Megan. Their faces are a picture of pain and Buffy's heart accelerates at the sight.

It kills her whenever her kids are in pain.

"What's going on?" And who does she have to ask Derek to kill? It's when her kids are in pain that she misses her slayer powers the most.

Buffy's not surprised to see Luke step forward. As much as she tries to maintain a typical family structure with her kids, it's not always practical when all the children in the family are weres. Buffy learned long ago that it's nearly impossible for them to quash some of their instincts and as a result, much as Buffy dislikes it, there is a pack structure within their house. The pack structure has nothing to do with type of lycanthrope they are. In fact, that's never an issue. Their family is the pack and Luke is the alpha, although it's more to do with being her first son than strength. Buffy loves all her kids equally, but there's a special bond she and Luke share, forged in their first two months together when all they had was each other.

"We're fine," Luke quickly reassures her.

Buffy shakes her head. "You're not fine." She points to Jeremiah. "That's not 'fine' face!"

"We're not physically hurt," Jeremiah amends.

That doesn't reassure her in the slightest. "What happened?" Was one of the kids kicked out of school? Did she have to have another fight with the school board? "Guys, what's..."

"We're calling a Family Meeting," Luke tells her.

A Family Meeting? Buffy's heart sinks. Family Meetings in the Summers Household are a little different from the kind of family meeting she watched on the television growing up. She debates on whether or not to argue with Luke and demand an answer. Alpha or not, when it comes to family welfare Luke will always do as she asks. But, given the pain in his eyes, she decides that maybe a Family Meeting will be easier. She nods and slips off her shoes and starts up the stairs, knowing the kids are following. When she reaches the top of the stairs she heads straight to her room. Without a word, they pile onto her bed. Buffy sits herself in the middle of the bed and the kids crawl around her, getting comfortable. Strangely enough, the biggest adjustment Buffy had to make was getting used to the constant affection lycanthropes required. She's spent many, many long hours with various experts and alphas of different breeds of lycanthropes, trying to understand them, and the one universal truth she learned was that they needed touch, affection. Teenage lycanthropes needed more affection than adult lycanthropes, so Buffy had to adjust to a life of lots of hugs and cuddles.

In fact the Summers Family Meeting was generally one big cuddle-fest and now was no exception.

When all the kids are on the bed she leans against Luke and waits patiently for him to begin. He doesn't say anything immediately. Instead he plays with her hair... a bad sign if there ever was one.

"Luke?" she prompts. She can't take much more waiting.

He sighs. "There was a telephone message on the answering machine for you this afternoon."

Oh? "Okay..."

"It was a guy named Tony. He called to cancel your date."

Buffy freezes. There's a four letter word no one dares utters in the Summers household, a word that never fails to cause pain: date. She sighs and fights the urge not to cry. Not because Tony cancelled the date, it was only the second date and he was a bit of a jerk, but because her kids never fail to wig whenever she goes on a date or gets dumped by said date. It's why she never told them about Tony or about any guy until it gets at least past the fifth date. Although, she's yet to make a fifth date. Hey, she's a schizophrenic single mom of five were-kids... she's lucky she gets to two dates.

"Did he say why?" she asks fearfully.

"He said that he thinks you're both at different stages in your lives and want different things."

She groans. That wasn't cancelling a date, that was cancelling all dating. God, she can't believe he did it over the phone!

"Was he human?" Megan asks.

"Yeah." The kids move closer to her. The cuddle-fest is in full swing.

"Do you want us to hunt him down and – "

"NO!" She cuts Ryan off before he can finish that threat.

"Do you want us to scare him, then?" Samuel asks. "We could call Derek if you don't want us kids to get our hands dirty."

Buffy laughs and smacks Samuel on the leg. "No scaring anyone and no calling Derek, please."

Jeremiah snorts in amusement. "Derek would be more than happy to talk to him."

She rolls her eyes. "I'm serious. No maiming, no beatings, no tearing the limbs from his body and no Ulfrics." This is the other reason she hates mentioning dating, the kids – and Derek – go a little nuts trying to save her from any form of hurt. "Tony was just a guy, kids. No one important."

"If he was no one, why didn't you tell us about him?" Luke wants to know.

She sighs. "Because I didn't want you kids to worry about me." It's a lie and they all know it. Buffy doesn't care if she gets hurt. It's the kids she worries about. She doesn't want them to bear the guilt of yet another failed romance. No matter what she tells them they never believe her when she tells them it's not their fault when things don't work out. And it's not their fault, really. She just picks jerks.

"You told him about us, didn't you?" Jeremiah asks.

She used to leave telling her dates about the kids until the third or fourth date, but she's learned the hard way that it's better to come clean early up. It hurts less for everyone involved.

"I'm sorry," Luke whispers into her ear.

"It's not your fault," she tells him, all of them. "And it's okay, really."

They don't believe her.

"Guys, seriously, it's okay."

None of them say anything in response, instead they hug her even more. She's pretty sure there will be bruises in the morning.

"You should date weres," Megan announces in all her thirteen-year-old wisdom.

"Mom won't date weres," Luke tells her. Megan is the newest member of their family.

"Why not?" Megan wants to know. "It'd make things easier."

"Not if they're an alpha," Jeremiah points out. "Mom won't allow another alpha to tell us what to do at home. Besides, if they're high up in the pack structure her being human complicates things. It's why she won't agree to date Derek. She can't be Lupa and our mom."

"And there's the risk of infection during sex," Luke adds.

Buffy winces. She really would prefer if her kids didn't talk about her sex life as if she isn't here... or at all.

"What about a beta?" Samuel suggests. "Someone lower in the pack, but not someone too submissive. Mom doesn't need to feel like she's dating someone she should adopt."

Oh God. She's feeling a little nauseous now.

"It's possible," Jeremiah concedes, "but then there's the complication of me and Luke. We're both young, but we're definitely alphas. If they fight we'll probably beat the shit out of him."

"If he breaks her heart we'd probably kill him," Luke states matter-of-factly.

Buffy sighs. And here she thought her love life had been doomed in Sunnydale!

"What about a vamp?"

"NO!" Both Luke and Jeremiah roar, causing the rest of them, including Buffy, to jump.

"No," Luke repeats once he's calmed down. "A million times no. My mother is not going to date a corpse!"

Buffy wants to reprimand him for the comment, after all who she dates is her business, but... he's right. She's not going to date a vamp. She'd never date someone with the power to enslave one of her kids.

"Well that doesn't leave her a lot of options," Megan mutters. "She can't date a human because they dump her because of us."

"She can't date an alpha were-anything because they'll try to dominate us," Ryan says.

"She can't date a beta because they'll try to dominate him," Samuel continues, pointing to Luke and Jeremiah.

"She can't date vampires because they'll try to dominate everyone," Jeremiah mutters.

"Is there even anything left?" Ryan asks, sounding depressed.


All eyes turn to her and she shrugs. She wants this conversation to end... and she wants it to end now.

Thankfully, Luke gets the hint. "You want some?" His smile is sad.

"For dessert, dinner first." She extricates herself from her children and walks to her wardrobe. "I have a reservation at that new restaurant in town. I'm sure if I ring now, I can change the table from two to six."

The kids hesitate for a minute before they all jump up and race to their respective rooms. She smiles as she hears them arguing over the bathroom, Megan's voice rising the loudest.

It wasn't quite the date she'd planned for, but she's not complaining.

The End

You have reached the end of "Four Letter Word". This story is complete.

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