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Lonely Souls

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Waifs and strays". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The second (much longer) installment in the Waifs and Strays AU. Covers season 1. Please READ THE SERIES INTRODUCTION!

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Joyce-Centered(Current Donor)vidiconFR1598780,0851591501409,28428 May 115 Jul 14No

NOTE: This chapter is rated FR13

Unknown relatives and money in the bank

Author’s note:

A long chapter to end the weekend…the written one at any rate. We will be getting a bit more action again from now on. Family relations with lots of OC’s are fun, but phew! I can do with a bit of Vampire slaying action…

Speech: “Who’s on first.”

Thought: *What’s on second.*

Vision: #I-don’t-know’s on third.#

Greek: ^Who cares?^

Ancient Egyptian: »Who’s that?«

Latin: ~Who’s who?~

Telepathy: %Who’s that in my mind?%

Too ill to go to work and just well enough to write…so a few more updates than expected this week…

Also, has anyone else been having problems updating/accessing/answering reviews lately?

Reviews much appreciated!

Chapter 32: Unknown relatives and money in the bank

Jenny had sent her message to SoS expecting it to be a while before she got an answer. She was rather surprised when she received a message to come online immediately.

Good evening Dategirl

Heya Sos

This is bad, where did you get it?

What is it?

A being called Eyghon, the Sleeper, or He Who Walks the Dead

Walks the dead? What is he, a demonic dead dog walking service?

No. A demon that inhabits the bodies of the unconscious or the dead.

How can he be summoned?

Depends on how powerful he is at the moment. He can enter the bodies of dead worshipers. When he’s stronger, those of the sleeping. Where did you see the mark Dategirl?

A friend had a picture of it

On him?

Jenny hesitated. She didn’t know what sort of resources SoS had…She liked Rupert. She liked Rupert a lot…

Tattooed on his arm

You’ll need to ask him how he got it…who else has it…and try and get them to do a Disavowal ritual. If they all got it at the same time or were members of the same Circle, they’ll need to do it together.

What if he doesn’t want to?

…I think you know the answer to that Dategirl.

I need to think about this…

Don’t take too long…we can’t have Eyghon walking around here…

I’ll let you know tomorrow?

Very well…be very careful Dategirl.

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Clarice Starling woke slowly. Normally she started awake, but this morning was different. And she was not alone…soft breathing filled her ears, two people. The first was snoring, just a very little, the other was breathing very softly and was very close…and small. She looked down and saw the little girl and grinned. Her youngest niece…Dawn. The one she hadn’t met because she’d fallen asleep before she even got there... Clarice yawned. She gently pulled the little girl closer and fell asleep again.

When she woke up the second time it was because the soft warmth of Dawn had gone. She opened her eyes to see two very wide blue ones.

“Good morning…you’d be Dawn…” She whispered.

“Yeah…and you’re my Aunt Clarice?”

*I hope so…I think so…won’t know until the test comes in…* “We think so, yes.”

“You look a bit like Simon…and like Aunt Arlene…” The little girl was thoughtful.

*Holy…that little girl sees way too much!* “Uh? Really?”

“Soooo…I guess that was what they wouldn’t tell me last night…Simon’s dad and Gran? And she was real young?”

Dawn was beginning to look distressed and Clarice grabbed her and hugged her. “Yes honey…but don’t worry, we won’t ever let anything happen to you!”

Dawn let out a little sob. “’kay.”

Clarice sighed and held onto her for a while longer. To her surprise the girl did not move. After a bit she even fell asleep. It had been a long time since Clarice had felt such love and trust. She glanced at the rather crooked Bugs Bunny alarm clock and saw it was way too early to get up for a Sunday morning. Her cousin Phoebe was sleeping on the camp bed and Clarice soothed by the soft breathing, fell asleep again, Dawn tucked under her chin.

Joyce went to look in on her oldest sister, youngest cousin and youngest daughter when there had been no sound at nine thirty. She tiptoed out of the room a few seconds later to get her camera and her mother. Mom would never forgive her if she didn’t get to see that scene in person.

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Jenny Calendar sighed. She’d been doing that an awful lot since last afternoon. She had absolutely no idea how to ask Rupert what the hell he’d been thinking getting himself tattooed with the mark of a demon…except maybe asking him why the hell he’d been stupid enough to get tattooed with the mark of a demon. And yeah, that was really going to work…She groaned. She’d been doing that a lot too.

She hadn’t slept much and the little she had slept had been disturbed by dreams. Dreams of Rupert stalking her, Rupert stalking her with the face of a demon. She shivered and punched her pillow.  *Why do all the men I fall for have to meddle with the bloody darkness! Bloody stupid idiots*

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Rupert Giles sat at his desk, gazing at the mark on his arm. Jenny had left minutes after seeing it. There was something fey about her, something magical. And he knew she knew the darkness that lay within the tattoo. He rose and took off his clothes, quickly washed and dressed again, not in tweed but in a carpenter shirt and fresh jeans. He walked into the late morning sunshine and got into his car, started the unwilling engine and drove off. He had a confession to make.

He stood before the ramshackle apartment building that Jenny lived in and looked at the peeling paint. He could smell the problems with the drains from here…why on earth did she live here? It may not be the best of apartments, but even his was more pleasant. He sighed and pushed open the door to the communal foyer, his nose wrinkling at the acrid smell inside. He walked up the concrete stairs to the first floor and knocked. He could tell by her handwriting in the note beneath the bell she had been very annoyed. ‘Out of order’ indeed…Jenny was a woman of passion, it showed in everything she did.

After a minute or so the door was opened by Jenny. Her hair was disheveled and she wore a simple cotton t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants and flip flops. Not at all the well dressed, well groomed young lady of the night before. Her eyes widened in fear and she shook as she took a breath and he saw she was about to close the door in his face. He put his foot in and pushed the door open. Jenny stumbled back, up against the wall and looked at him with trepidation.

“Miss Calendar…Jenny…There are some things…I have to tell you about my misspent youth.”

She let out the breath she had been holding. “A-and?”

“I won’t hurt you...I…I did stupid things when I was young…And before, oh shove it.” Giles took a step forward and kissed her very gently on the lips.

“You’re a very beautiful and wonderful young woman…and before…anything happens…you should know why it wouldn’t be wise…” Giles stumbled over his words as his lips still tingled with the touch of hers.

Jenny glared and poked a finger in his chest. “One: I’m the one who decides if anything happens! Two I’ve made my share of mistakes and ‘wise’ is not a word that’s been associated with me very often. Three: Call that a kiss?”

She forcefully pushed him up against the other wall of the narrow corridor and kissed him, hard, forcing his mouth open, closed more by the shock of what was happening than any desire to keep it so, and didn’t let him go for at least a minute.

“Now…we talk…c’mon English!” She grabbed his arm and led him into her small living room. He noted the window held open with a twist of paper as the sash was broken and shook his head. This really was a dump.

Jenny cleared the couch of the detritus of a morning of moping and made space for him. “So…talk.”

Giles took a deep breath. “When I was young my father had a vision of what I should be, a destiny, one that I disagreed with. And I rebelled. Badly…running with a bad crowd does not begin to describe the utter stupidity of it. Cigarettes, booze, drugs…you name it, we did it…”

He took a deep breath. “And we messed with magic. Dark magic. Summoning demons. We…a friend of mine and I…we discovered a ritual to summon Eyghon in an old Grimoire…”

“Which one? The Gaudeamus? The Heresies of Gaius?”

“No…the Black Grimoire of Agostinus of Compostella…”

“The NEGRA? YOU GOT A RITUAL FROM THE NEGRA? TO PLAY WITH?” Jenny’s voice was stopped by Rupert’s hand.

“Jenny…yes...we were incredibly stupid. We stole the book from a visiting collector…we used the spells in it to gather wealth, power, friends…enough to safeguard and fund our lifestyle…keep the Bobbies from our trail…and then it all went pear shaped…we were doing a ritual to get Eyghon into a friend of ours…Randall…and it went wrong…Very wrong…we all would have died…but we managed to bind him…in Randall…but we couldn’t exorcize it fast enough…Randall died.”

“Ah…and then?” Jenny asked, fearful in spite of everything, of the man before her.

Rupert took a deep breath. “To most of us…it was a wake up call…we changed our lives…cleaned up our act if you will…and became upstanding citizens. But all this time…we know his darkness hangs over us Jenny…and that is why we can never…”

“Oh stop moaning Rupert, I sent a drawing of your tattoo to SoS, and he says that if you can get all of your friends together, we can perform a ritual of Disavowal,” Jenny told him, relief making her blunt.

“W-what?”

“Look…SoS…he knows stuff ok? If he says that there’s a ritual…there’s a ritual.”

“Oh...God…I’ve got to call them! To be able to…oh it would be wonderful!” Giles looked as excited as a little boy.

“To what?” Jenny drew a pointless twirl on his chest and he swallowed.

“To err…live without the fear of him…of Eyghon…” 

“Aha. I see you’ve got some sense then. Soooo ‘you name it’? Coke? Crack? Pot?”

Giles winced. “Yes.”

“Sex?”

“Yes…that too…”

“Would’ve been a waste otherwise…” Jenny sniffed.

“Orgies and bacchanalia like you wouldn’t believe…” Giles gazed reminiscently into the distance.

Jenny lifted an eyebrow. “Seriously?” *Holy…still waters and all…*

“Yes,” Giles admitted with shame. 

“So…you’re very experienced?” She felt her heart thump in her chest as she asked.

“Err…Well I was…I’ve…held off from relationships since then…serious ones…so since then it was mostly, well relations for mutual pleasure…”

“Friends with benefits? You? English…you’re just full of surprises…” Jenny moved closer and flattened the hand that had been drawing pointless designs to lie on his chest.

“Yes…well…errr…”

Jenny rose. “Well then…You get into contact with your friends…I’ll contact SoS…And after we get the whole mess straightened out…We’ll see where things go?” She suddenly felt uncertain. He was experienced…much more experienced than she’d thought…than she was…Hell she thought she was going after a near virgin and it turned out he’d had orgies…She silently prayed to the Goddess, hoping that this time, it would work out…

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Clarice woke up. Again. Dawn was sitting up next to her and rubbing her eyes and Phoebe was stretching and yawning. Cecilia was standing in the doorway, smiling.

“Good morning sleepy heads.”

“Morning Gran.” “Good morning Aunt Cecilia” Dawn and Phoebe greeted the woman.

Clarice looked at her hands. In the warm light of day the events of yesterday seemed far away. Would the woman who’d claimed her so enthusiastically yesterday still feel the same way? Did she herself? The DNA test wasn’t in yet and it would take several weeks to get it. And yet…she felt an attraction, an attachment to this family…The bed moved beside her and she felt a finger smoothing out the wrinkle on her forehead that appeared when she thought.

“Don’t worry Clarice…Everything will be fine…”

“But...what if A’hm… I’m not…” She corrected her accent

Cecilia looked stunned. “Oh honey, I’m quite certain no one else left a beautiful baby girl on the steps of the police station. You’re mine, and after all the legal rigmarole is done, you’ll know it for certain too…which considering Simon is stirring the pot, will be soon.”

“Stirring the pot?”

“He’s got people working on that DNA right now…”

“He does?”

“Clarice…Simon has been alone for a very long time…the chance that he might have a sister… Why do you think you were called by the Meier Institute Director of Operations? In the weekend?”

Clarice blinked and suddenly paled. “B-but…the Meier Institute…”

“Yes…Now get out of bed young lady…time to get into a shower and dressed. Breakfast is waiting.”

“Yes mom.” Clarice looked at her mother. “Why am I so…biddable? I was never this biddable even as a child?!”

Cecilia grinned. “Ask your sister…the one who didn’t say what power she has…”

“Joyce? What has Joyce got to do with it?”

“I’ll let her tell you that…”

Mom!*I’m whining…at my mother…who I’ve not even known for a day…*

Cecilia ruffled her daughter’s hair. “Just be patient…and talk to Joyce. You’ll need to anyway…”

Clarice huffed and glared after he mother as she left. Phoebe and Dawn had slipped out to the bathroom during the conversation and sighing she went looking for one as well.

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Joyce was in the kitchen when her oldest sister appeared, silently behind her, her hair still wet from her shower and a glint in her grey green eyes. “Mom says we should talk…”

Joyce gulped and dropped the orange she’d been peeling for the fruit salad. Clarice looked down at it. “And that to me means we should talk now.” She grabbed Joyce by the arm and dragged her off to the porch, sitting her down on the swing. Joyce’s fingers were agitatedly wringing together.

“Well now…mom says that there’s something you ought to tell me…”

“You’re going to be mad at me,” Joyce quavered.

“Joyce…” The younger woman…her sister…almost cowered. “Joyce…tell me…”

“I…My power, its called ‘Mother’, it enhances the bonds of family, strengthens love, offers protection, makes things happen to increase the happiness of people that the person with he power loves, you have to understand it’s not a conscious power, I can’t control it…” Joyce babbled.

Clarice sat down beside her. “Holy...Cow…”

“Yes…I’m sorry.”

Clarice blinked. “For what?”

“I-I…it manipulates you…you’re an FBI agent… You should’ve taken weeks, research, tests before you got here…I twisted you…I must have…”

Clarice barked out a short, bitter laugh. “Joy…do you know why I was in LA?”

“No?” Joyce asked, surprised.

“On Friday I was told that I’d have to hand in my resignation before the end of the year…I drank myself into a stupor…I was only just awake when I got the call…I’ve got no family…what friends I had…they abandoned me when I wouldn’t let go of my delusion…Why the hell do you think I rushed here? Even the slimmest chance at having somebody...anybody…be there for me…” Clarice felt her tears start again and then Joyce wrapped her in an embrace.

“Easy sister mine…We’re all here for you…”

Clarice took a deep breath. “But…I want to know why when mom tells me to do something, I do it…”

“Err…I don’t think that’s me…” Joyce smirked.

“What?”

“I think that’s just because Mom is really scary…” Joyce winked slightly and Clarice realized their mother was behind her, eavesdropping.

She grinned slightly. “Yeah…Simon mentioned that…He told me to watch my language or there would be soap…?”

“Oh yes…And I’m not entirely certain she wouldn’t reach for the slipper if she thought we’d been naughty…”

“She sounds a right terror…” Clarice winked.

“Clarice Brigid and Joyce Marie! There is no chance I would spank my adult daughters! Or wash their mouths with soap. I count on them to act like responsible adults!”

Joyce grinned at her mother who suddenly looked sheepish.

“And I’m supposed to be a right terror? Fooling your old mother like that?”

“Your not old mom…and you’re two years younger even…Clarice? ‘Ris? You alright?”

Clarice was pale and gulping in great big breaths, trying not to cry. “Y-yes…fine…” She looked up at her mother. “I-I have a second name? That’s what the B. stands for?”

Cecilia sat down heavily. “You still have the blanket?

“C.B…we didn’t know if it was a last name…or where it came from…”

“Well…I worked in a small shop in Virginia…I bought the blanket and was allowed to embroider it…I-I still have the receipt…” Cecilia offered.

“Oh…Mom? I-Is there a reason for Brigid?” Clarice asked, wonder in her voice.

“She’s the patron saint of babies…I figured…you needed all the help I could give you…” Cecilia looked at her with sad eyes.

Clarice leaned into her mother, feeling the older woman’s arms go around her. “Thank you…”

Cecilia snorted. “It was the least I could do dear…Clarice? Have you thought about…your magic?”

“No…not really…It’s not been at the forefront of my mind if you catch my drift…lots of other things to think about…” Clarice smiled.

“I can imagine dear…well there’s lots of time.”

“Okay…I think I should get something to eat…” Clarice put a hand on her stomach, almost certain they could hear it rumble.

“Yes…we have a busy day ahead of us,” Cecilia affirmed.

“Oh?” Joyce looked interested.

“The three P’s want vengeance for yesterday’s debacle and have challenged your kids to a team contest, and have laid claim on ‘cousin’ Clarice to lead them, if she wants to?” Cecilia looked at Clarice with a smirk.

“Team challenge?”

Joyce snorted at her sister’s expression. “The bodyguards are training our children…and yesterday Prue, Piper and Phoebe were defeated in epic Water pistol battle…But I can understand if you don’t want to…”

Clarice gave her a look. “And why exactly are you and Charlotte not competing?”

 “W-what?” Joyce asked, rather shocked.

“If the children are in danger…so are you…and it won’t do our baby sister any harm to join in!”

There was a splutter from behind them and Clarice tilted her head back, grinning. “Good morning ‘Lolly.”

“I’m not running around getting spritzed!” Charlotte objected from her place in the door.

“Of course you are dear…Celia will be ever so disappointed if you don’t…now all we need is to convince Harry and Simon…” Cecilia grinned.

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“No,” Simon crossed his arms. “I won’t do it.”

“But Simon…everybody else is…” Joyce wheedled.

“Right…We got our three P’s…and our own kids, who’re four, but insist on adding Amy and Celia, and then Team Momster, which has three members as well…even if we split the kids into two teams, we’re still outnumbered.”

“Wha…you’re not going to join because you’ll be outnumbered?” *Team Momster? We’ll be discussing that one later Simon Coenraad Hendrick Meier!* Joyce inwardly growled.

Simon exchanged a glance with Harry, who nodded firmly. “Yeah…we call in reinforcements…or we don’t play.”

Joyce picked at her lip. “Who?”

“Patrick of course,” Simon smiled.

Joyce looked at the teens, seeing that Amy looked hopeful. Then her sisters. ”Who’s this Patrick?” Clarice asked.

“Amy’s dad, he’s the guy who rebuilt the house,” Joyce explained.

Clarice eyed Harry and Simon. “Well…an accountant and a CEO… I suppose you two desk jockeys need a bit of support…this ok with you?” She glanced at the younger generation. The Halliwell sisters nodded, as did the Johnson offspring and Amy.

Simon grinned. “Excellent…” He reached into his pocket for his mobile and dialed. “Patrick? We’re on…”

Patrick Madison, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans arrived a few minutes later in his old truck. He’d lost a good deal of weight and regained a lot of his old muscle since Catherine’s death and his experience with the Wizard’s node. Buffy let out a low whistle. “Wow…Ames…your dad’s been working out…”

Charlotte and Clarice looked slightly stunned as the tall, blonde man made his way over to them. He shook hands with Danielle first. “Mrs. Moritz, It’s been too long. You look…good.”

“So do you Mr. Madison…So do you.” Danielle grinned at the attention the now quite buff man was getting from various females, including her shy little Willow. Until Amy rather pointedly elbowed her and Buffy and glared.

Joyce, as the lady of the house, effected the other introductions. Phoebe seemed rather impressed with Pat’s biceps. Clarice eyed them as well. She took the man to the side for a talk.

“Marines?” Clarice asked.

“Yes ma’am…Single tour,” Pat confirmed.

“Ah…I thought I recognized the tattoo…I suppose Simon knew this before…” Clarice raised an inquisitive eyebrow.

“Yes Ma’am, the General was fully aware of my service, Ma’am!” Patrick grinned.

“General…” Clarice looked at Simon who was looking at them, appearing quite amused.

“Yes ma’am. General Meier Ma’am,” Patrick clarified, the humour in his voice now quite clear.

“I see…and Harry?” Clarice asked, resigned.

Patrick’s eyes twinkled. “I believe the LT was in the Army, Ma’am.”

“Aha…so three ex military men are taking on me and my sisters?”

“Yes ma’am…think we’ve got a chance?” Patrick’s amusement faded quite quickly.

Clarice blinked. The man was serious? “Errr…I would assume so…”

“It’s just…I’ve seen Buffy fight…and her mother…well lets just say that I don’t fancy getting between her and her children…”

Clarice grinned. “Ah…don’t worry. The teams will not compete at the same time. So…what rank did you reach?”

“Sergeant, Ma’am.”

“Well sergeant, if you ma’am me once more, I’ll show you something Hannibal Lecter once did to a prison guard,” Clarice threatened softly.

Pat swallowed. “Okay…agent Starling?”

“Clarice.”

“Okay…Clarice.”

“Well…let’s go and get active, shall we, Patrick?”

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“Simon…”

“Yes dear?”

“What are those?”

“These? Supersoakers dear.”

“SIMON!!!”

“Just levelling the playing field love…”

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“Harry?” Charlotte asked, slightly annoyed.

“Hmmm?”

“I thought you were in accounting while you were in the Army?”

“Yes dear, but I went to bootcamp and officer training. It’s been years since I picked up a gun…I must admit this is quite fun!” Harry smiled brightly at his wife.

“Harry…you realize you’re sleeping on the couch tonight?”

“Still beats bootcamp…” Harry teased.

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“Ames?”

“Yeah?”

“Where in hell did your dad learn to shoot?”

“The Marines.”

“We’re so dead…”

“Hey, your dad brought the Supersoaker Xand!”

“Yeah. Sorry.”

“Way cool the way he managed to get the drop on Celia though…”

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“Simon! Put me down this instant! Simon! Don’t you dare!!!”

“Oh dear…Did dad just drop mom in the fountain?” Willow winced.

“Yup.”

Yeppers.”

“Yah.”

“Think he’s gonna be sleeping on the couch?

“Naah…she’s drawn him in with her…errrr…..are they supposed to do that?”

“Oh man…those two…”

“Bunnies.”

“Total bunnies.”

“I’d say bucket of water time, but it’s kinda redundant…Man I need brain bleach…again!!!”

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“Celia…have you seen your parents?” Joyce looked around. “We’re ready for the next match…”

Celia blushed. “No.” She shook her head vehemently. “No! I did not see my parents! I did not!” Celia rubbed her face as if to wipe out a memory.

Joyce nodded wisely. ”Of course you didn’t dear…”

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Clarice sat on the couch wearing Joyce’s old robe, her hair still wet from the shower she’d taken after the afternoon of water filled fun. She hadn’t laughed this much in years…Even if this all proved to be a drunken dream…or not true...she’d have a few good memories at least. She felt a little sad when she remembered how her sisters…god she hoped they were…had been kissed by their respective partners.

Charlotte sat down next to her, also in a robe, rubbing her hair with a towel. “That was fun. Wet, but fun.”

“Certainly looked like you and Harry were having fun…”

“Oh haha. And like you weren’t eying the Sarge for all you were worth…”

“Lolly…he’s younger than me…what would he want with me?”

Charlotte gave her an incredulous look. “You serious? ‘Ris…have you looked in the mirror lately?”

“Yes? And?”

“Oh come off it ‘Ris! You’re gorgeous!” Charlotte scoffed.

“Yeah…guys come knocking down my door…” Clarice said bitterly.

“You’re also as intimidating as he..ck” Charlotte admitted.

Clarice grinned. “Mom come in?” She whispered.

“Charlotte nodded. “I mean, c’mon ‘Ris! You’re…well…you’re you!”

“Gee, that’s helpful.”

“Clarice, I’m sure that there’s someone out there for you.”

Clarice looked up to see her mother, impeccably dressed in a blue sundress, standing in the arc to the living room.

“Yeah…sure mom…”

“Clarice, this might sound wrong and I certainly hope it won’t take as long…but you found me.”

Clarice blinked. “Yeah…yeah that’s true.”

“And Lolly is right. You are beautiful.” Cecilia smiled. There was as sudden shriek from above.

“Simon!!! Stop that!” Joyce dissolved into giggles and a door closed with a bang.

Cecilia sighed, Charlotte rolled her eyes and Clarice manfully contained a snigger. “You’d think that they’d had enough, after that scene in the fountain…”

“Bunnies.” Clarice said, repeating Willow’s words.

“Oh yeah. Total Bunnies.” Charlotte grinned.

Cecilia merely went into the kitchen. But her shoulders shook rather suspiciously.

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The Halliwells, who had the furthest to go, had to leave first.

“You three take care of my sister now, do you hear?”

“Yes Aunt Cecilia…”

“And drive carefully…”

“Yes Grams…”

“I hope to see you again soon…”

“Sure Joyce…you take care!”

“Bye Roomie!” Phoebe hugged Dawn who enthusiastically returned it. This was the signal for general hugging and kissing.

“EEEEE!!! PRUE!!!” Prue grinned as Buffy squealed.

“Vengeance, cousin mine, is best served cold…”

Buffy laughed through her glare. “Well…yeah…but you better watch you back Prudence…Next time I see you…we’ll see how well you can stand up to me!” She grinned and hugged Prue again. “I’ll miss you.”

Prue realized that she’d miss her new cousins too, after two days of being young again...she felt better than she had in weeks, maybe months. It was a good feeling, feeling young. “I’ll miss you too Buffy…please, be very careful out there, ok?”

“ “kay. Prue…if you choose to, you know, be very careful too…”

“Yeah…I’ll let you know.”

“Bye, Willow.”

“Bye, Piper…take care.”

“I will.”

Willow looked around and then whispered into Piper’s ear. “Hope you get a nice boyfriend soon…”

Piper grinned. “Yeah…you too.”

Willow blushed.

Xander was looking on with trepidation as the three Halliwell sisters came nearer. “Now ladies…”

Prue grinned. “Yeeees?”

“There’s no need for this…”

“We disagree Xander…there is…” Piper grabbed him and gave him a hug, as did Phoebe.

Prue grinned at his stunned face. “What Xand? You were expecting something different? Don’t worry. I’ll have my vengeance later.”

Xander shuddered, but he did give Prue a bone crushing hug. “Be careful cousin.”

“We will, you too Xander.”

Cece hugged Penny. “Now promise me you’ll see a doctor as soon as you get home. Simon promises he’ll have the paperwork ready so you’ll be insured…”

Penny rolled her eyes. “Yes Cece.”

“And don’t distract Oleg while he’s driving.”

Cece!!”

“Well he is a handsome man…”

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Clarice stood looking after the departing cars. Cecilia put an arm around her shoulder. “How are you honey?”

“What if I’m not your daughter?” Clarice spoke her fear without thinking and she felt the woman she now so dearly hoped was her mother stiffen.

“Clarice Brigid! If you were thirty years younger I’d take my slipper to your backside! And I’m sorely tempted even now!”

Clarice blushed. “Mom!

Cecilia gave her a shake and a grin. “And don’t you forget it! And I repeat I doubt very much that anyone else left their beautiful girl on the steps of that police station, so no more senseless doubts!”

Clarice bit her lip. “Yeah, but I won’t see you again…”

“Oh love…its less than two hours drive to San Diego…That’s hardly the world…”

“So I can…” Clarice sound hopeful.

“As long as you call ahead so I can get a bedroom ready and food in the house…you’re always welcome…”

Clarice swallowed. “And if…”

“And if there’s anything wrong you just come by…no call needed…that’s just padding dear…just me wanting to get your favourite foods in the closet…” Suddenly she looked sad. “I don’t even know what they are yet…”

Clarice smiled a bit embarrassed. “Well, your pasta certainly ranks near the top of the list…”

Cecilia gave her a sharp look. “Clarice…can you cook?”

Clarice looked at her feet. “Not very well…”

“Do you want me to teach you?”

“Would you?” Clarice looked hopeful.

“Oh little one, I’d love to. Come on inside. If we stay here any longer Dawnie will get a stiff butt up there on the roof listening to us.”

There was an ‘eep’ and a scramble and then Dawn had entered her mother’s bedroom again, through the window. Clarice giggled. “Oh, she’s just like me, a curious…”

“Curious little monkey, yes.” Cecilia grinned at her eldest, who merely rolled her eyes.

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Simon sat down next to Clarice while Danielle packed her bags, helped by Willow and Dawn. The Special Agent had finished packing in ten minutes, and that had included double checking all the closets.

“Thank you for offering to drive her home Clarice…I really appreciate it.”

“It’s on my way, not a problem…and she is your mother…big brother.”

“Yes…about that…”

Clarice stiffened. “What?”

“Stipend, houses, cars, seat on the board. You might want to consider becoming a patroness of a charity or two.”

Clarice gulped. “W-what?”

“Clarice, you’re my sister. That makes you a part of the Meier family…and that comes with a lot of perks and some responsibilities,” Simon told her ruefully.

“You mean…”

“You’re rich. Wealthy. Loaded.” Simon smirked.

“Oh…I thought that was what you meant. But…”

“You thought I wouldn’t share? Clarice, I’ll be honest, if you start dipping into the principal, we’ll have words. But every Meier of the first generation has the right to an annual stipend.”

“So…how much are we talking about…in a round number? Fifty thousand? A hundred?”

Simon gave her a look. “I settled a million on each of the kids from this year’s stipend alone. Don’t tell Joyce that by the way…”

Clarice swallowed. “Simon…I-I…”

“Its money Clarice. We have lots of it. The annuities for the family really don’t touch the real wealth.” He shrugged. “Most of the profit goes to charities, the Houses and the Institute and the Free Hospitals…” He gave her a look. “We’ll need to talk about that, I’m no longer the only Meier, though by my father’s will I am the heir and controlling Chairman of the Meier family Trust.”

Clarice glared. “Do you honestly think I’d break up the Meier Houses merely for personal gain?”

“Of course not, that’s not what I meant…but Clarice, well, you know what it’s like, like I never will…I could really use your help…”

“You want help?”

“Micheala runs the Institute very well…but, well, I don’t think she’d mind if you took an interest…I do need to spend a lot of time running the Trust.”

“Simon…Are you headhunting me?”

“No…well…not really…I haven’t even offered you a salary yet…” He grinned. “How much do you want to make you leave the FBI? Take a sabbatical? We’ll get you a short term medical discharge, everybody will buy that after the things you’ve been through, and then hit them with Number One. Get you put in charge of Special Operations West Coast…”

“Special Operations West Coast? What’s that?”

“Liaison between the FBI and the Covens of the Concordat…It’s never been anyone from the Old Families before. Owen Lassiter will be over the moon.”

“Owen Lassiter, Simon are you on fist name terms with the President?”

“Clarice, if you want to go public with this, and it is entirely up to you and Cecilia, you’ll be on first name terms with everybody.”

“The Queen?”

Simon laughed. “Ah…got me there. First name terms with everybody in our age bracket?”

Our age bracket Simon? Last I checked you were a dozen years older than me.” Clarice lifted an eyebrow and Simon sighed.

“I’m beginning to see the downside to this whole sibling thing.”

They heard noises on the basement stairs and Xander came up carrying Danielle’s bag.

“I’m fine Willow…the journey will not overtire me, and yes I’ll go and find a doctor as soon as I get to LA.”

Willow blushed as her grandmother good-naturedly chided her. “I’m sorry! I just…”

“Worry. I know dear. It will be fine. I’m certain the Spirit of the Place meant me no harm, and possibly all good. Now, make certain you sleep enough. Teen age girls need their sleep. So do teenage boys.”

Xander stowed Danielle’s bag while Willow hugged her, then did the same. Buffy and Dawn followed and then Amy, then Joyce and Simon.

Joyce hugged Charlotte and Buffy swung a squealing Celia around, Harry hugged Dawn and exchanged manly handshakes with Simon and Xander as well as Patrick.

Clarice stood watching, biting her lip until her mother came up to her. “You don’t have to wait dear, just join in.” Clarice blinked. Cecilia rolled her eyes. “No one will mind silly girl. Go on.”

Timidly, Clarice did.

Clarice stood in her mother’s arms for several minutes before she had the strength to break away. No one remarked on it; or the extra along hugs she gave everyone else.

Simon closed the door behind his sister and watched as she drove off with the only mother he’d ever known with a strangely neutral expression on his face. Joyce put her arm through his and smiled. “Never had family to see off before, love?”

“None that I cared about…My parents certainly never bothered to see me off.”

“Well, my parents are leaving. I think you need to do some ‘I promise I’ll take care of her speech’ for dad.”

Simon smirked. “I can do that. Do you think the Taming of the Shrew will make an impression?”

Joyce thumped his arm and guided him away.

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The house was oddly silent and empty with only two adults and four teens in it. Joyce sat down wearily. “Well…that was some weekend.”

“Yes.”

“Simon, that thing you did for Danielle and Penelope, did that affect you?”

“I didn’t do it so much as enable it I think…and if it did, very little.”

Joyce looked disappointed. “Ah…I see.”

“What you were hoping for a younger man? More stamina perhaps?” Simon teased.

“No…just remember that conversation we had when we first met?”

“We talked about a great many things.”

“About you not wanting children…”

“Joyce…I’m sorry…I-I admit…I checked. I’m still infertile.”

“I suppose it’s for the best…neither of us is getting any younger…”

“Yes.”

“Yes.”

She cuddled into him and sighed.

End note:

I hope the last few chapters weren’t too relationship intensive. As the AU veers from the straight and narrow there will be more action sequences needed, but until then, please remember most of this is character driven!
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