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. Authors Notes:
Set in the 'Guardian 'verse' although I would say that this is more of a companion rather than part of the core series. Please note:
This is a little different from the other two fics in this 'verse and is actually born out of Mhalachai's comments in the challenge regarding 'bonus points' for a Hank and Buffy scene. This fic showcases Hank's role as the patriarch of the Summers Clan. It's also the only way I could write a sequel to the events in New Dawn... because as far I'm concerned there's no way in hell Jean-Claude would leave Buffy alone
without a bloody good reason. So I needed to get it out of the way before I could even think of writing more Buffy.Spoilers/Warnings:
None for anything. It's a little angsty. Summary:
The general consensus of the Summers Clan is that what Hank is doing here is far more dangerous than what his daughter did just a few short weeks ago.
Hank Summers stares at the address in his hand then up at the building in front of him. He's at the right place and it's almost the right time to do this. He's surprised that he doesn't feel any fear at being here. The general consensus of the Summers Clan – both those legally bound to his daughter and those who were bound only by their love for her – is that what he is doing here is far more dangerous than what his daughter did just a few short weeks ago. Hank's not really concerned either way. Thanks to Buffy, and as CEO of the New Dawn Foundation, he spends more time with supernatural creatures than not. He's learned a lot about their world, most of which he doesn't like, but he's used to it now and while his name or presence doesn't command the same respect and adoration his daughter receives, it does offer him some protection. This endeavour is risky, no doubt, but he'd put himself in more fearful situations for his daughter's happiness.
Not that he's actually scared. He thinks it's a little silly to be scared when he knows that somewhere in the darkness are three of his more unique grandchildren ready to fly in and save him at any given moment. ~*~*~
The hardest part about setting up a Sanctuary House is protecting Buffy. Even though she's human her ties to so many lycanthropes, and the Sanctuary Spell itself, makes her a person of interest to all vampires, sometimes even a threat. In the beginning Buffy could build a Sanctuary House without a vampire even noticing. Now it's simply too dangerous to even try, which was why every single one of her children had been furious with Buffy when she went to St Louis alone. Buffy doesn't need permission to build one of her houses, but she does need protection from vampires. Which is why they now negotiate safe passage for Buffy whenever she starts a new House. It's also why Hank's here in St Louis.
He enters the building with steel determination. His appointment is in less than ten minutes and he's hoping he'll be out in less than an hour. An hour is all his grandchildren are giving him to make this happen. They have strict instructions as to what to do if he doesn't return by the allotted time. It's the only way Buffy, Luke and Jeremiah would agreed to let him do this.
This isn't the first time they've hit political snags when trying to set up a Sanctuary House, but it's the first time Hank's been the emissary.
"Hello." The receptionist greets him with a smile when he arrives at his destination. "Welcome to Animators Inc. How can I help you?"
"I have an appointment to see Anita Blake at nine." ~*~*~
Hank doesn't know how things work at Animators Inc., so he's not sure if Anita Blake is aware that she has an appointment with him. It's more than likely she does. Luke booked the appointment more than a week ago and, considering the Summers Clan have been negotiating with the Master of St Louis and his human servant for safe passage for Buffy for the past few weeks, it's probable that Ms Blake has seen his name and put two and two together. They're all a little surprised that she hasn't cancelled the appointment or, at the very least, rescheduled it to a more advantageous venue. The current theory is that Ms Blake either doesn't know she has an appointment with one of the Summers Clan or that she knows, did a little homework, and has figured out that he's not one of Buffy's children, but her very human father. They're all hoping it's the latter because if she knows he's Buffy's father and didn't reschedule the appointment, that means Ms Blake will be more open to what Hank has to say.
The Master of St Louis is demanding that he and his human servant meet with Buffy before the work starts on the Sanctuary House, not caring that she's human. The Summers Clan is demanding that Jean-Claude and Anita guarantee that they won't
meet with Buffy and give their word that every vampire in Jean-Claude's Kiss will stay away from her as well. Naturally, they're at a stalemate. Neither side wants to give. The Master of the City is concerned for his powerbase (Hank doesn't understand all the politics of the preternatural world, but he's learned from Luke that more than one Master of the City relies on lycanthropes for power) and the Summers Clan is concerned for Buffy.
Hank is here as a last ditch effort to persuade the Master of the City, through his human servant, to their way of thinking.
If he fails, there will be no Sanctuary House in St Louis.
If he gets hurt, he's not sure what will happen. ~*~*~
Hank looks up to see a short brunette woman standing in front him. His grandchildren are meticulous in the protection of their family so he knows the woman standing in front of him is Anita Blake. He notices that she's looking around the reception area, no doubt expecting more than one person. He stands and holds out his hand. "Ms Blake, a pleasure to meet you."
She takes his hand and he watches her expression carefully. There's a flicker of emotion in her eyes when their hands touch, relief. From what Hank's been told, Ms Blake can tell a were from a human by touch. The fact that she's relieved means that she knows he is one of the three human members of the Summers Clan. It also means that it's likely she's not going to be the only person at this meeting since it's more than a little obvious she thought he wouldn't be alone.
"This way to my office, Mr Summers."
They walk side by side to her office and, just like he suspected, it's not empty. He nods to the two men and sits in the seat Ms Blake gestured to. Ms Blake takes the seat behind her desk and gives him a tense smile.
"Who are your associates, Ms Blake?" Hank asks, breaking the silence.
"Micah Callahan and Richard Zeeman."
His eyebrows rise at the names. This was something else they expected, that Ms Blake would have some of her weres with her as protection, but they had expected members of her pard. Not her Nimir Raj and Ulfric. For the first time since he began this endeavour, he starts to feel a little nervous. The only alphas Hank deals with on a regular basis are his grandchildren and Jeremiah's Ulfric, and they don't ask him to act any way except human. He knows it's not always the case with some weres.
"Since you obviously know why I'm here I guess we can dispense with the usual pleasantries, Ms Blake, and we can get right down to business."
"Actually, Mr Summers, I'm not exactly sure why you
are here," Ms Blake says, leaning on the table. Hank can see the gun underneath her jacket quite clearly. "When the talks broke down, we half expected your people to send someone to talk to us but we expected one of The Guardian's sons, Luke or Jeremiah."
Hank shakes his head. "My grandsons won't set foot in your territory, Ms Blake, not unless they are provoked or invited. Even then, it would only be Luke." He doesn't mention that his other grandchildren don't have such qualms or that three are outside right now... and those are just the ones he knows about.
"Why just Luke?" Micah asks.
"Jeremiah is a wolf and therefore the Master of the City's animal to call, Mr Callahan," Hank explains.
Micah smiles. "Please, call me Micah."
"Okay," Ms Blake continues, "so you guys did your homework, but that doesn't explain why you didn't send one of her other kids. She has six, right?"
"Six adopted children," he corrects. "Buffy doesn't discriminate between her children. Once they allow her to be their mother, they're her children for life. She has another twelve adult children who chose not to take her name and four too young to choose."
The Executioner seems surprised by this. "Okay, so then why didn't she send one of her other kids?"
"I'm human, Ms Blake, and therefore not bound by protocol and rules. I don't have to worry too much about mortally offending an alpha or about being punished for any indiscretions. The only thing I have to worry about is Buffy pouting at me if I do something she doesn't like." Richard Zeeman coughs suspiciously. "More importantly, I am one of four people who knows the real reason why the Summers Clan is so determined to keep Buffy away from vampires. Since the other three are my wife, Luke and Jeremiah, I'm the only one suitable to come here."
That brings them all up short, Ms Blake especially. "There's a reason you don't want her to have contact with vampires? I mean, aside from the obvious?"
"That's why I'm here, Ms Blake," he confesses. "We were unable to persuade you without the truth, so now we're going to try to persuade you with the truth." ~*~*~
Hank waits until the receptionist brings the four of them coffee before answering any of their questions. He's a little surprised that things seem a little less tense since his announcement. A little
. Ms Blake is still on the defensive, but from what Hank knows about her she's on her best behaviour. He wonders who asked her to behave and what they said to make her do it.
"Ms Blake," Hank begins, "the first thing I want to make clear is that the Summers Clan has no ill feelings towards you or Jean-Claude. Our reasons for wanting to keep Buffy away from you both are personal and have nothing to do with either of you personally." In fact, Jean-Claude is one of the few Masters held in high regard by the Summers Clan. They don't usually go to these lengths to secure a Sanctuary House.
"Really?" She doesn't believe him.
"He's telling the truth, Anita," Micah says and it's then Hank realises the real reason for their presence. It's not for protection like he originally thought, it's a way to ensure he tells the truth.
Hank takes a drink of his coffee and then places the mug on Ms Blake's desk. "Before I begin, can I get your assurance that what I tell you here will not go beyond the four of you?"
"Four of us?" Ms Blake repeats. "There's only three of us here."
He smiles. "Ms Blake, our family is well aware of your connection to Jean-Claude due to both your Triumvirate and as his human servant. I'm not naive enough to think he's not listening to this conversation. Do I have your word that this will remain between the four of you?"
"Yes," Richard answers for the four of them, which earns him a glare.
Truthfully, he knows that there's not much he can do to make sure they keep their word, but he wants the reassurance anyway. He has the authority from Buffy to tell them everything he needs to get them to agree to let her into the city. She's been talking with Richard, Micah, Rafael and Donovan on a regular basis about the Sanctuary House and she desperately wants to build one in St Louis.
"If it is something that will hurt my people, I can't keep it a secret," Ms Blake tells him.
"That's all we can ask," Hank says.
"You have my assurance as well," Micah agrees.
He takes a deep breath and tries to quell the growing pain in his heart. He doesn't like talking about this. It's not a taboo subject by any means, it's simply too painful. It's only because Hank can't bear to see his daughter disappointed that he's willing to endure the pain.
"All right," he begins, taking another breath. "Growing up Buffy was like most girls, the quintessential teenager; obsessed with boys, clothes and her hair. She barely concerned herself with the supernatural, although it fascinated her.
"Not long after Buffy turned fifteen, after she spent the weekend at one of her friend's house, she started to act strangely. At first, neither myself or Joyce, Buffy's mother, thought much of it. We simply assumed that she was going through a typical teenage stage. However, as the weeks progressed Buffy became worse. She started talking to people who weren't there and about events that didn't happen. Even at that stage, we didn't know something was seriously wrong. After all, right up until that moment Buffy had been fine. She had never even had a serious childhood illness.
"When it became apparent that something was seriously wrong, when Buffy began to... lose track of time, reality, we decided to get her some help. It took a while for the doctors to realise what was wrong, and by the time they did Buffy... she was in a bad way." He has to stop because the pain of the memory overwhelms him for a moment. As it is, he can't bring himself to go into too much detail. "Eventually, we had to admit her to a psychiatric hospital."
"Psychiatric hospital?" Richard repeats, horrified. "What was wrong with her?"
"She was diagnosed with undifferentiated schizophrenia," he replies. "The doctors at the time had never seen a case as bad as Buffy's. By the time she was admitted into the hospital she had essentially lost touch with reality and was suffering from multi-layered delusions. To put it bluntly, she was lost in her own mind where she had created an entire world, a different version of Earth."
"A different version of Earth, how?" Anita wants to know.
"In the world she created vampires existed like they did in ours. However, they were different. In Buffy's schizophrenic world vampires could be killed by a simple wooden stake to the heart. They couldn't roll a human's mind and their powers to enthral humans was limited only to one or two vampires. In that world Buffy was different, too. She was a mystical being, The Chosen One... Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. A girl, chosen by a group of higher beings called The Powers That Be, to fight vampires. In her hallucination she became the Slayer at fifteen, her mother and I divorced, she moved to a place called Sunnydale, California where a Hellmouth existed."
"Hellmouth?" Richard repeats.
"The mouth of Hell. Buffy, as the Slayer, watched over it and kept the world from being taken over by supernatural creatures who wanted nothing more than the annihilation of humans. For the most part, she was the only defence humans had against the supernatural. She was their equal, their bogeyman. She stayed lost in her own world for six years."
"Obviously she got better," Micah says.
He nods. "For reasons none of us really know Buffy woke up from that world. It shocked us all. The doctors had long since given up hope of a full recovery, but... Buffy surprised us. She made a choice to leave the world in her mind and to live in the real one."
Ms Blake is staring at him in shock and confusion and he knows what the next question will be before she even asks it. "That's a sad story and I'm sorry for what she had to go through." Her words are sincere. "But I don't understand what this has to do with your family's prejudice towards vampires."
"You might be interested to know that there is no history of mental illness in my family nor in my wife's family. There was also no indication in Buffy prior to the hallucinations starting that there was anything wrong with her. It just came upon her out of the blue." He pauses a moment to let his words sink in. "You might also be interested to know that when she woke she had no idea that vampires were real. She thought they only existed in her hallucination."
"What are you saying?" she asks, obviously seeing that he's going somewhere with this.
"Ms Blake, what do you think could possibly cause a seemingly normal fifteen year old girl's mind to break so suddenly? What sort of event or horror do you think could have triggered Buffy's mind to react in such a way that not only does she become completely lost in her mind, but she creates a world where she can slay vampires easily? A world where they are afraid of her
, not the other way around. Where she has the power to protect her family, her friends – the world – from any supernatural creature who intends harm."
The blood drains from Ms Blake's face and it's at that moment Hank knows she's made the connection, or maybe Jean-Claude has. "Vampire."
Hank nods. "A vampire rolled her mind and broke it." ~*~*~
"Are you sure?" Is the first question Anita asks when she comes back into the office. She left the room for a few minutes to tell the receptionist to cancel her appointments for the rest of the night, something which Hank takes as a positive sign.
"Yes, we're sure that a vampire rolled her mind," he replies. "But no, we're not entirely sure he caused the schizophrenia. There's a chance, a good chance, that it was only a matter of time before the symptoms presented themselves and that all the vampire did was speed it along. There's no real way for us to ever really know, but the content of the hallucinations and the fact that she hasn't had a single symptom since she awoke seems a little too..."
"Coincidental?" Richard finishes for him.
Hank nods. "As Luke once said, there's coincidence and then there's coincidence
. Still, regardless of whether the vampire caused the schizophrenia or if it was there the entire time doesn't matter. We're not taking the chance to find out. No vampire will get near her mind again."
Anita has a faraway look on her face, and Hank wonders what Jean-Clause is saying to her. "What makes you so sure a vampire rolled her mind before she got sick?"
This is another question he hates, because there's a part of him that feels as though he's failed his daughter by not protecting her. "At first, of course, we had no idea. In fact, it was Luke who was the first one to really put two and two together." Hank stopped fighting with his daughter about her decision to become mother to lycanthropes the day Luke came to him with his suspicions. It's a day Hank will never forget. "When Luke decided that he was going to live with Buffy permanently, she told him about her schizophrenia. She thought it was only fair he knew what to look out for if ever she started to act strangely. When she told him about it, he thought it was strange that she didn't have any memories of the preternatural creatures in our world like she did of those in Sunnydale. Joyce and I simply thought her selective amnesia was a symptom of her illness, but we didn't have a lot of experience with the supernatural world, at least not until Buffy became a mother. Luke, on the other hand, had a fairly good understanding of the supernatural world. He became suspicious."
"Did you find out who did it?" Richard asks, the slight growl in his voice reminds Hank of Jeremiah.
"Yes. Although, it was purely by luck that we discovered the truth," Hank explains. "Luke had his suspicions, but he was too young to do anything at the time. He was fourteen when Buffy took him in and subsequently shared her past with him. At that stage in his life he didn't have a pack or siblings, just Buffy and close ties with the local werewolf pack. He didn't have the means or the know-how to prove or even find out if his suspicions were correct. It was two years later, when knowledge of Buffy's Sanctuary House became known to the Master of Los Angeles, that Luke's suspicions were confirmed. The Master of the City had discovered the existence of the Sanctuary Spell and wanted it for himself, so he called in the local werehyenas to find out more about it.
"Unfortunately, at the time Buffy had become well known enough with the lycanthropes and as the hyenas were the Master's animal to call the Oba had no choice but to tell them Buffy's name. One of the vampires, the Master's second, recognised it. The vampire demanded to know everything the Oba knew. Thankfully, after his interrogation, the Oba was able to overhear a conversation between the Master and his second about Buffy which confirmed Luke's suspicions. He rolled her mind."
"What happened then?" Micah wants to know.
"The local werewolves had a good relationship with the werehyenas and, fortunately for us, the hyenas didn't have a good relationship with their Master. They hated the Master of the City and were desperate to get rid of him. They allied themselves with the werewolves on the remote possibility that one day they would be able to free them from their Master. Since they knew one of Buffy's kids was a werewolf they told Derek, the Ulfric of the LA wolves, everything, including the conversation. They also told Derek that the Master of the City had requested them to bring Buffy to him. Derek and told Jeremiah and Jeremiah told Luke."
"Obviously the vampires didn't get their way," Anita says. "Otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation."
Hank shifts in his seat awkwardly. "No, they didn't."
Anita raises her eyebrows and both Richard and Micah are looking at him thoughtfully. "What happened?"
"It was before vampires became legal citizens." That's the only answer he's going to give them.
"They killed him."
"I don't know all the details," Hank tells them and it's the truth. The details of what happened is something that's never spoken about, not even by the lycanthropes who were there. "Luke and Jeremiah were careful to keep us in the dark. All I know is that the boys, Derek and some weres were involved." He also knows that a new Master of the City took over not long after that, but he's not going to mention that. He also knows that Buffy's Sanctuary House was vital to their success, but he's not going to mention that either.
Anita leans back in her chair and sighs. "So that's why you don't want her near vampires?"
"Is she better now?" Anita asks. "Has she had a relapse?"
"She's completely fine," he tells her proudly. "She's on medication and she hasn't had a single psychotic episode since she made her choice to return to reality. The first few years were hard, but she got past them. Things improved a lot when she met Luke."
"That explains why you want the vampires to stay away from her," Richard says, "but it doesn't explain why you don't want Anita near her either."
"Anita's the closest person in the real world to Buffy's slayer persona. We're... well, we're a little nervous about how Buffy may react to that, but it is something we're willing to negotiate on."
The office goes silent, and he knows what they're thinking. They're thinking about everything that Buffy has done in the last ten years, how the fact that The Guardian was, at one time, a broken girl. No doubt they're also wondering how the hell a woman with a serious psychotic illness can look after so many children.
"You should know that most of the kids know about Buffy's illness, but they don't know that she created a world in her mind. They just know their mother suffered a mental illness as a teenager and know to make sure she takes her medication and to look out for signs. They certainly don't know about the possible cause of it, nor does Buffy. We think she suspects, but she's never outright asked and until she does we intend to keep this quiet.
"The stipulations we request are not Buffy's stipulations. She doesn't like vampires, but she doesn't fear them. Not like we do... like I
are the ones who fear what will happen if Buffy's ever reunited with a vampire, not Buffy." He smiles a little. "She doesn't see her schizophrenia like we do. She sees it as an illness, but she doesn't let it define her. She doesn't live her life in fear of it, as you have all probably worked out. Her mother and I do that for her."
"There's nothing wrong with wanting to protect your daughter," Richard says.
Hank laughs. "Try telling Buffy that. Like I said, she doesn't see her illness like we do and she hates it when we fuss over her. As far as Buffy is concerned, she's cured. She doesn't worry about retreating back to Sunnydale."
"Is she cured?" Anita asks.
"I don't know. All I know is that we don't want to risk Buffy for anything."
The room goes silent and Hank knows he's done what he came to do. ~*~*~
Hank stares at his watch. He's got the time right but Buffy's still a no show at their favourite cafe. It's been two weeks since his trip to St Louis and there's been no word yet from Jean-Claude or Anita. There are several running bets going on between the children in the Summers Clan as to whether or not their final attempt to get Buffy into St Louis on their terms has worked. Luke and Jeremiah have bet a hundred dollars each and a month of doing chores for Buffy that Hank was unsuccessful. Megan is betting against her brothers, her faith in Hank unflappable, and has bet a hundred dollars and a month of servitude to both Luke and Jeremiah. The rest of the kids have bets running as well, but Hank's lost track of them. The amount of money changing hands between the kids is staggering.
"Sorry I'm late!" Buffy's voice cuts through his thoughts and he looks up to see her standing in front of him, eyes bright and smiling blindingly. She kisses his cheek and sits down across from him. "I had to play advocate with the kids again."
"Oh?" he asks, only half-interested as he picks up the menu. The kids fighting is nothing unusual, regardless of the age of them or if they live thousands of miles apart. Hank is actually impressed at how his grandchildren find a way to fight across state lines. "Anything serious?"
"Just Luke and Jeremiah plotting to kill Megan, but she keeps pissing them off by either shifting and flying away or running away and hiding at the house." She sighs. "I swear, you would think they were in their teens instead of in their twenties."
Hank laughs. "Why are Luke and Jeremiah trying to kill Megan?" He wonders on some level if he should be worried, but since Buffy seems more amused than anything he decides that he shouldn't be.
"She's being a little... ungracious."
Her words cause him to look up from his menu. There's an inflection in her voice, a joy that he only hears when she gets a new charge or one of them chooses to take her name. Sure enough, she's smiling blindingly at him. "What?"
Her smile falters and she rolls her eyes. "No, you're supposed to ask why Megan's being ungracious."
"Why is Megan being ungracious?" he asks, biting his lip to keep from smiling. Her joy is infectious.
"I'm glad you asked," Buffy says. Hank rolls his eyes. "She's being a sore winner."
A sore winner? He freezes, though he doesn't know why. Did that mean... "They agreed to our terms?"
"Most of them. Jean-Claude and the vamps will stay away, but I have to meet Anita in her capacity as Lupa and Nimir Ra." She shrugs. "It's more than I thought they would give."
Hank leans back in his chair and grins.
Buffy returns the smile. "You're quite the emissary, Mr Summers."