Learn the Truth
"When are they planning to arrive? It's already ten past," Peter grumbled to himself. Mozzie hummed distractedly as he and Neal fiddled with an old pocket watch Neal had brought in. Peter thought about demanding to know what they were doing, but the content - if anticipatory - silence in the room was too rare with this group. Jones, Cruz, and Elizabeth were seated at the couch, going through old photo albums from Elizabeth's childhood and early adulthood.
Peter himself was lounging in a chair beside the couch, thinking through everything that had happened since Kate's death. Neal kidnapped, Neal escaped and returned from Brazil
of all places, relatively boring cases, mysteries involving Neal's family, magic
, and demons. Well
, Peter reasoned, I did want something to take his mind off Kate.
At that moment, three people appeared in the entryway between the dining room and living room. The redhead Peter and Elizabeth met in the jail, Willow, stood between a man her age and height, and a man old enough to be her father. A grin split Neal's face as he all but threw himself into the older man's arms.
"Grandpa! How are you? Is everything going well? How's England?"
"Everything is quite well, my boy," he answered in a British accent. "England has not changed in the five years since your last visit, at least not in any noticeable fashion. And I am told that I am as healthy now as I was the day I met your father, if not more so."
"Come on, Giles," Willow spoke up. "How can you be more healthy now than you were nearly forty years ago?"
Giles shot her an amused look as he asked, "Are you calling me old?"
Willow flushed bright red, her cheeks nearly matching her hair. "Of course not! I'm just saying, most people start getting less healthy as they age, so-"
"Wills," Oz cut in softly. He smirked and gestured at Giles's face. "He's teasing you."
"Yes, well," Giles smiled at his family. "There is rather less stress that I must deal with now, as I am not employed by the deplorable Council, in charge of a head-strong Slayer who wants to be retired, and surrounded by teenagers who wouldn't leave a secret alone to save their lives. Literally."
"As Xander isn't here, I speak for him when I say, 'Hey now! We resemble that remark!'" Willow pouted.
"Really?" Neal asked.
"Is that somehow related to the Kenney/Kennedy situation?" Peter questioned, hoping to get the conversation on the right track.
"It is. The 'Kenney/Kennedy Situation', as you call it, actually begins in 1996, in Los Angeles."
Over the next few hours, Willow, Giles, and - to some extent - Oz told of their experiences involving the supernatural, starting with Buffy's calling. After all the years that had passed, they were able to share most of the events honestly, not overly clouded by their personal feelings. Neal was a bit disturbed to learn that his Aunt Willow and Uncle Oz once dated, and his father and Aunt Faith had gotten to know each other very well one night. Also, learning that Uncle Spike was once a vampire was a shock.
"The Hellmouth was closed when Spike sacrificed himself. Buffy said that he was burning from the inside out. She wasn't the same after he died. What we didn't know at the time was that the necklace was part of a plot by Wolfram and Hart. He appeared in ghostly form in Angel's office. Well, eventually they were able to make him corporeal again, but he still kept his return to the unliving a secret from Buffy and the rest of us. Dawnie punched Andrew out when she learned that he knew about Spike's return for nearly a full year without telling her."
"Good times," Oz spoke up, interrupting Willow's narrative.
"Yes, that was amusing," Giles added. "Dawn and Andrew were roommates at the time, so she felt that he was betraying her twice over. Once for not telling her that one of her closest friends was not as dead as we believed, and again for not sharing 'juicy gossip' with the 'roomie'."
"Huh," Jones grunted, trying to wrap his mind around all that he had learned so far.
"Wait a minute," Peter said. "Wouldn't we have heard about any survivors of the Sunnydale Disaster?"
"I don't believe there were any here," Giles informed him.
"Explain?" Elizabeth requested, one hand in the air.
"We're getting to that," Willow assured the group. She picked her story back up with, "After Spike's return and a lot of badness, including Cordy dying and Fred's body being taken over by an Old One named Illyria, Angel got the bright idea of taking the fight to Wolfram and Hart. We didn't know any of this at the time; this part is what Spike told us. Each of Angel's team was given a target. After each of those targets was taken care of, the surviving team members were to meet in the alley behind the Hyperion. Only Spike, Angel, Gunn, and Illyria made it. Then Gunn died, and Angel sacrificed himself and his Shanshu to save the world.
"We have no idea if he succeeded, because at that moment Spike was knocked into a portal. He told us that he woke up to find himself in a field in Ohio. He saw the rest of us - that is, the Scoobies as you grew up knowing them, Jesse - facing off against a huge demon. We later learned that it was what's commonly called a Time Demon. The short members of that race are about nine feet tall. We were facing a fifteen-foot demon with the markings of a rogue. We did manage to kill it, but not before it sent out a shock-wave, sending us back in time to the year 1983. The strange part is that the field we were in? Became a mansion sitting on a fairly large estate."Ohio, 1983
"What just happened?" Xander asked.
"I think we just got shifted to a parallel dimension," Dawn answered. "Everything feels kind of tingly."
"We're in a different dimension because you just got feeling back in your arms and legs? Yeah, makes sense," Faith grumbled sarcastically.
"Hello, Key to all Dimensions here! I think I would know if we were somewhere other than where we started!"
"Devil's Advocate," Kennedy spoke up. "Let's say that what you're feeling is the result of that weird burst demon-boy shot out. For all we know, we're just in another part of the country, and some old guy's gonna slam outta the house with a shotgun demanding we get off his lawn."
"Nah, we won't have to worry about that," Xander drawled. When everyone turned to look at him, he pointed to a sign near the end of the long driveway. "Now, this may just be me seeing things, and let's face, I see things a little differently than other people now," he pointed to his eye patch, "but I'm pretty sure that's a chain around the gate. And that looks like a pretty heavy-duty lock on the front door. Those, plus the boards on the windows, lead me to believe that shotgun-man won't be joining us."
"So what? We wait here and get arrested for trespassing and loitering?"
"Most of us are wearing dark clothing, and there's no moon tonight. Even if the police did come up that road right now they probably wouldn't see us."
"Still," Kennedy protested.
"The first thing we need to do," Buffy said, straightening, "Is find out where we are."
The rest of the group agreed and started for the gate. After getting through it, they picked a direction and began walking. Thirty minutes later saw them at a second, larger gate. They had a choice of either going through the gate or continuing past it on the road. They climbed over the gate, then turned to look back.
"I bet you a box of Twinkies that that road was some kind of giant, circular driveway. We probably would have gotten here even if we went the other way when we left the mansion."
"No deal," Kennedy responded. "You're probably right, and I don't want to owe you anything, even Twinkies."
"Standing around chatting isn't going to get us any closer to finding out where we are," Spike piped up. Contrary to his intentions, no one started moving. Instead, they all turned to stare at him. "What?"
"I thought you were dead," Faith answered, looking a bit shocked.
"I've been traveling with you lot for the past half-hour, and helped you fight big and nasty right before. How could I do that if I was dead?"
"This wouldn't be the first time a demon made us see someone who was dead just to mess with us," Dawn pointed out. "Although the hallucinations usually stop once the demon's dead."
"Oy! Not a hallucination! 'M real, an' right here!" Spike would have continued if Buffy hadn't walked forward at that moment, poking a finger against his chest. She then looked at him in confusion. "It's really me, Luv."
"You're warm," she informed him.
Buffy placed one hand over his heart and touched his neck with the other. She waited a few seconds, then nodded decisively. "It's definitely Spike. Only he would completely miss the fact that he's been made human."
"I'm what? When did that happen?"New York, 2010
"We had to take a minute and let that sink in, and that's when Dawn punched Andrew. Faith and Kennedy took turns carrying him. So anyway, we were a little surprised when we got into town and realized that everyone was already in bed. Then Giles found a newspaper stand, and we learned that we were still in the same place, but it was 1983.
"Willow mostly," Oz interrupted.
"Fine, I - with a lot of help from Oz and Dawn - hacked into the Council finances and liberated some money. We didn't want to get jobs and risk someone else not getting the job they should have had, and screwing up the timeline too badly. Of course, about a week later we finally had to concede that we weren't in our natural dimension anymore."
"Why is that?" Peter asked, ignoring all of the instincts screaming that the redhead had just confessed to hacking. He couldn't exactly arrest someone for a crime committed twenty-seven years earlier, especially considering she was one of the current heads on the organization she had stolen funds from.
"Little things were different. Mostly demon species in charge of certain communities being different than our histories said they were. Also, Quentin Travers had already become the head of the Council by that time.
"With that in mind, we decided to set up our own company. We called it the New Associated Council for the Sciences, since magic is, technically, just a mostly-unknown science. We bought the mansion we landed in, renovated it, and opened for business. One of the first research projects we did was to learn what the Time Demon was, what it wanted, and why we were sent here."
"As it happens," Giles said, picking up the story, "The demon only truly wanted Dawn, Oz, and Spike, as they were all considered supernatural beings. Andrew, Willow, and I were a pleasant bonus for it, since we all practiced magic. Buffy, Faith, Kennedy, and Xander accompanied Dawn when she was invited to that location for a party or some such. We encountered Oz while we were there. The demon was intending to use their blood in its plan for the apocalypse. It didn't take into consideration that Dawn, as the Key, would disrupt the plan if her blood was spilt. Her blood, combined with the demon's 'shock-wave' - as Willow put it - transported us all to this world. We never did learn why it also sent us back in time twenty years, though the common theory is just that time moved a touch faster in our home dimension."
"During our first few weeks here, Faith and Oz... well, let's just say that ten months after we got here Cor was born. Buffy and Spike worked out all their differences and got married about four months later, and six months after that the triplets were born."
"The baby boom," Oz said with a nod.
"Yes, all of the children were born within five years of each other."
"But only Cor, the triplets, and Jesse were born in Ohio. Remember? We all decided to split up and take different parts of the globe after JV, Anya, and Cassie were born."Ohio, 1984
"Who's taking where?" Buffy asked while bouncing her daughter in her arms. Spike and Giles, each holding one of the baby's sisters, glanced at each other. Buffy bit back a groan. While she was glad the two men were no longer hostile toward each other, she could do with less plotting between them.
"Watcher wants to open a small branch in England. I was thinking we could join him for a few years, maybe sneak out some of the more important things we'll want if the old Council blows up again."
"And after those few years? I know there's somewhere you'd like to go," Buffy told him.
"France. With Rupert watching over the islands, we can take the mainland area of Europe. Unless there's somewhere you'd rather."
"Are you sure you want to take my sister to France? Land of shopping?"
"Not to mention right next door to Italy."
Buffy leveled a glare at her sister and best friend. "Even without the temptation of shopping, that sounds like a great plan. That's Europe covered. Who else?"
"Asia," Oz called. Faith announced that she would go too, as it was a large bit of land for one person. No one in the room was fooled though, her expanding waistline was obvious."
"I'll stay here in America," Dawn piped up. "I can set this building up as a sort of headquarters house. The other buildings on the property can be used for research in the different sciences."
"I'd like Africa," Xander requested. "That's an amazing country, and I didn't get nearly as much time there as I'd like before we were brought here."
"That really just leaves Australia and South America of the different continents. Willow? Kennedy? Andrew?"
"We talked before we landed here about me and Kennedy traveling to Brazil and setting up a Council branch there. I don't see why we can't still do that. Though I would like Andrew to visit when he can. This is his baby, too, and I want him to be part of his or her life," Willow said, stroking her stomach.
"Why don't we have Andrew be a kind of liaison between the two Americas. I can add Australia to my territory," Xander offered.
"I don't know, Xan, that's a lot of ground to cover for one person."
"Unless this world's Scoobies activate all the slayers we're just backup anyway. I'll just be checking on all the different branches of magic and other sciences in those areas, and maybe teaching self-defense to some of the kids there."
"Are you creating your own army Xan?" Dawn asked with a grin. He ducked his head, a light blush dusting over his cheeks.
"Army? No. I'll just be teaching some of the norms how to defend themselves from demon attacks, at least until they get a slayer to help."Africa, 1985
"What are you doing here, Dawnie?"
"I had some vacation time saved up, so I thought I'd just go ahead and take it."
"And you decided to come to war-torn Africa. Those monks really did make you different, didn't they?" Xander asked with a grin. Dawn grinned back at him.
"Maybe it wasn't the country
that I wanted to visit," she pointed out. Xander had to take a minute to clear his throat. "You realize that I'm twenty-one now, right? Old enough to know my own mind."
"Dawnie, I'm twenty-seven and I still
don't know my mind. Age has nothing to do with it."
"So you're saying you don't want me?" she asked, disappointed.
"Oh no, I said nothing of the sort. I just... You could do so much better."
"Better? There will never be anyone better. Xander, you're it. You are a good person, who is courageous to the point of stupid when it comes to people you care about; you can use humor as both a weapon and a shield, but you know when to set it aside and be serious. I already know you get along with my family. You're brave, funny, caring, honest, and honorable, and you know how to set those things aside to get things done. I know your strengths, weaknesses, and flaws, and I love you for them all."
Xander stared at her in silence for a few minutes before nodding. "Okay. Okay. I just have one question. How is this going to work with me in Africa and you in Ohio?"
"Andrew and my minions can handle America."New York, 2010
"They were married that year, and when Dawn got pregnant they moved to Ohio. They agreed that Africa and Australia would be okay with Oz, Faith, Buffy, Spike, and Giles in that area if something happened, and they took most of their vacations there. Jesse was born a year later. One year after his birth Buffy had Ken, and Faith had Molly.
"Then fast forward a bit; Cor got married and moved to Spain, Jesse left home and changed his name, Cor's first daughter, Abby was born, and we catch up to the Sunnydale Disaster. It all still happened as it did in our world, only in this one there were no survivors.
"For whatever reason, the citizens of Sunnydale didn't
have a mass exodus, and very few of the mini-slayers made it out of the Hellmouth. Those who did escaped on the school bus. I heard that they made it to Los Angeles, but none of them lasted long beyond that. We checked all the names of those made it onto the bus in our dimension. Not even our doubles lasted longer than a week."
"Which brings us back to Kennedy and Kenney," Giles told them. "Kennedy Langton is our Kennedy Rosenberg, just born of this dimension, rather than brought here by magic. She was attacked in her home by Bringers and brought to Sunnydale, just as in our dimension. She survived the destruction of the Sunnydale Hellmouth and the trip to L.A., and made a call to her parents. However, since this dimension's Willow died just after activating all the slayers, Kennedy had no reason to head to England. She stayed in L.A. to help with the demon population there. Sadly, she was struck down during the riots a few months later."
"Kennedy was the only one of the Sunnydale group who had wealthy living relatives left. Most of the girls lost their whole families, assuming they weren't living with their watchers at the time. Those who still had family members couldn't afford to keep the search going. We tried to send each of them something that would help them get closure."
"Wow," Cruz breathed. "That's... a lot to take in."
"I take it you believe Jesse now?" Willow asked.
"After a close encounter with a vampire, I couldn't not
"Which reminds me," Willow said, turning to her nephew, "I've already spoken with Angie about this, but you need to hear it, too. You are not to be left alone with a vampire or aggressive demon unless someone else's life is at stake, do you understand? We know you can defend yourself if need be, but you don't have the extensive training that a slayer or witch goes through. Do not put yourself in a situation like last week ever again, understood?"
"I wasn't thrilled with the idea in the first place," Neal pointed out. "But I understand."
"Good. You got out of our world. None of us knows how you managed it, but you did. Don't draw unnecessary attention to yourself by patrolling."
"Why is it odd that he got out of it? Can't any of you stop fighting?" Peter asked.
"At this point, JV, Cor and Anya's daughters are the only ones who can truly leave the fight. Even Xander's been marked by his time fighting. They say that Slayers show up like a beacon to a demon's senses. Those of us who regularly and actively fight the supernatural show up as well, if not a strongly. Jesse, who has a pretty powerful supernatural bloodline, should show up at least as strongly as a slayer, somehow slipped through the cracks."
"Except for the kidnapping a few months ago."
"You did have a second generation slayer, daughter of a former vampire, with you that night."
"So now you all know. If you don't mind, Giles, Oz, and I would like to spend some time with my nephew. Once your deal is over and Jesse is free, though, you should come visit us in Ohio. It'll be fun."
Thank you everyone who has stuck with me through this! I appreciate it!