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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)vidiconFR1598780,1331581492397,44628 May 115 Jul 14No

Shocks to the system

Author’s Note:

 

The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that.

 

Speech: “Who’s on first.”

 

Thought: *What’s on second.*

 

Vision: #I-don’t-know’s on third.#

 

Thanks to Dardrian and tryingtobestine for recommending this story, it means a great deal. Also I know have fifty five recommendations thanks very much all!

 

Reviews are appreciated; they are not just there to strike the ego of the author, but to leave feedback that helps me develop my story telling and plotlines.

 

 

Chapter 55 Shocks to the system

 

 

Monday Morning

 

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this!” Phoebe whined as she unpacked a crate filled with carefully wrapped ceramic beads, far too early on Monday morning in Sunnydale’s Museum of Natural History.

 

“It didn’t need much convincing, just you and your usual not-listening.” Prue sniped back. “All I had to say was Sunnydale and you were raring to go.” She carefully pulled some packing straw away from a delicately painted clay mask.

 

Penelope and Piper rolled their eyes at each other in amusement as they lifted the lid of a larger, compartmentalized crate that held four elaborately moulded and coloured statuettes. Piper lifted one and blushed.

 

Penelope grinned. “What, Piper? Didn’t think they’d discovered that in Old Peru?”

 

“Grams, my first thoughts when thinking of ancient Peru is not to find a pot of a guy going down on his girl!” Piper covered the statuette back up. “They’ll need a separate room for this one; this is sooo not for children.”

 

Prue and Phoebe had paused in their bickering to listen to the exchange. Prue grinned wickedly. “Why don’t you lift the one nearest you Grams?”

 

Penelope gently lifted the object out of the wrapping material and put it on a table. Then she stood back and pursed her lips, took a step forward again pulled on the rear part of the statue and smiled brightly. “Why how ingenuous! It has moving parts. Look you can see everything they are doing. Amazing the things they could do so long ago.”  She said placidly as her granddaughters blushed. 

 

“Err…why don’t we get to the rest of the unpacking?” Prue said.

 

Yes, lets. I can see now why you’ve always been so fascinated by these people, Prue.” Penelope beamed as she gave the moving statuette another push.

 

“GRAMS!!” Prue wailed. Piper fled into the next room.

 

Phoebe smirked and stepped up to the table, eying the statuette. Her eyes widened. “Yes, I can see exactly what Prue found so interesting. These people had unexpected depths. You must have learned soooo much!”

 

Prue groaned and blushed, striding out of the room, glaring at her grandmother and youngest sister impartially.

 

Penelope pushed the little statue again and smiled. “Well, you learn something new every day, don’t you think, Phoebe?”

 

Phoebe opened her mouth to reply, saw her grandmother’s wicked and inquisitive grin and decided that helping her sisters was the best decision.

 

Penelope grinned as her last granddaughter fled. *This will give me ammunition for years to come…*

 

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Sunnydale Elementary was a cheery, friendly building, as Joyce had noted the first time she’d gone there, to get Dawn enrolled. Now it looked a lot less cheery and friendly. A large group of parents had gathered in the cafeteria and a table had been set up behind which the seven members of the School Board sat. The centre seat was taken by a tall, dark haired man with dark, brooding eyes and heavily lidded yes and a prominent nose. Joyce looked at Simon, noting the resemblance, the man on the stage was younger, but looked older. He, like all the others, had a little table sign set up in front of him. It read Victor Chase. Chase grabbed his gavel and slammed it on the table a few times.

 

“I call this meeting to order. We are here to inform you of the matters concerning…”

 

A man in a well cut, expensive grey suit rose and cleared his throat. Chase glared at him. “…certain actions undertaken by pupils of this school and what actions this board has undertaken to mitigate the situation.” Chase finished.

 

Joyce leaned into Simon and smiled. “One of your lawyers?”

 

“Hmmm.” Simon nodded.

 

“You will be pleased to know that the perpetrator has been expelled.”

 

There were murmurs from the parents.

 

“There will also be actions taken against the ringleaders of the vigilante group.”

 

Eliza Kendall rose. “Will there now? And what action will be taken against the teachers who did nothing? The Principal and Vice-Principal? And the School board, who I was just informed, received a letter about the unfortunate young girl from social services and yet did nothing to see if she was in need of aid?”

 

“The Chair recognizes…What is your name Madam?”

 

“You know very well who I am Victor Chase, and you know very well that you and your board buddies have made far more mistakes than the children at this school, and without the excuses of youth and inexperience. I would like to know what you are planning to do about that. And as this is not the first time that such a case, thankfully not nearly as extreme, has occurred here, I demand firm and immediate action.”

 

“Mrs. Kendall, I have no doubt you feel strongly about the subject, but I expect that has to do with the fact your daughters were among the ringleaders in this sad affair.”

 

Eliza waved a hand at him as if dismissing the argument. “They weren’t among the people who attacked the girl. And if they have to leave this school, I’m sure there are other places they can go. Where those who make mistakes are actually held accountable. Now kindly tell us how you and your fellow board members intend to deal with the institutional problems of this school.” Eliza sat down. There was a moment of silence and then the applause began.

 

On the dais, Victor Chase seethed.

 

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*Put on jeans, Button up jeans. Ignore pain. Put on shirt, check bandage, feels weird, ignore pain. Sit, put on socks. Ouch, ignore pain; do not make a noise, shoes, put on shoes. Won’t fit, bandage, tuck laces into shoe.*

 

Kit climbed over the sill of Buffy’s room with difficulty and pressed a hand to her abdomen, taking a deep breath and bit back the pain. *Right. Get to the tree, grab the branch and swing down.*

 

Kit hobbled over to the tree, pain jabbing through her broken toe, her tatty old bags filled with a few of the new clothes bought for her, the jar with her Mom’s ashes, with Rupert Bear carefully laid on top.. *They won’t chase me for a few clothes.* Kit reassured herself. *Things will be easier for them once I’m gone.*

 

“Kit, where do you think you are going?” Cecilia Ellis was standing right underneath the tree. A cleared throat behind her made her look round and she saw Clarice standing in the window, looking concerned. Kit twisted round, back to the edge of the porch, wide eyed, looking for a way to escape.

 

Clarice climbed out the window, approaching Kit carefully. “Easy, Kit. Let’s get you back inside.”

 

“No! I have to leave! I’m only causing trouble. Please, everything will get better if you let me leave. They won’t expel Dawn and I won’t cost you any money for lawyers and stuff. Please.” Kit pleaded. “Please just let me go.”

 

Clarice was close enough to put a gentle hand on Kit’s shoulder and the girl shuddered under her touch.  

 

“Kit I doubt very much that you running away is going to make for less trouble for Joyce and Simon than staying.”

 

“But Dawn…they’re going to expel Dawn…it’s my fault.”

 

Clarice carefully put herself between the edge of the porch and the girl. “Kit, you were desperate. And I realize that you feel guilty, but we really…” Clarice’s eyes widened and then she called out in a carrying but not overloud voice. ”Mom! Call an ambulance please, Kit’s bleeding.”

 

Kit looked down to see that her white and pink shirt had blossomed red and that a thin line of blood had run down the inside of her jeans, staining the blue denim brown and dripping onto her shoe.

 

“Oh. That’s not good is it?” She asked in a very small voice.

 

Clarice took the now trembling and wide eyed girl into her arms. “Don’t worry Kit, it’ll be fine. Now Kit, We’ll wait here for a bit until someone comes with a stretcher and then they’ll carry you down, okay?”

 

Kit shook her down-turned head, now very pale. “I’m only causing more trouble. Just tell the doctors to let me go.”

 

Clarice lifted Kit’s chin. “That is one thing that is not going to happen. Look, here’s the stretcher.”

 

Two bodyguards manoeuvred a stretcher through the bedroom window and one, a tall rangy woman with blonde hair quickly walked over to Kit, a first aid box in her hands. “Good afternoon, Miss Kit, I’m Anne Corey, I’ll just take a quick look to see if there is anything I can and need to do and then we’ll put you on the stretcher, is that okay?”

 

“’Kay.” Kit allowed her shirt to be lifted and Clarice gasped. The white bandage around the girl’s   middle was completely soaked in blood. Kit looked down and swallowed. “Clarice? I-I think I don’t want to die after all…”

 

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The tall, distinguished looking man in the dark blue suit made his way hurriedly through the crowds of talking parents, homing in unerringly on Simon and Joyce as they stood chatting with Eliza and Marcus Kendall. “Excuse me, sir.” He said quietly.

 

Simon turned round. “Hurst? Something wrong?”

 

Hurst nodded. “Miss Katherine, sir, she tried to run away, the exertion caused bleeding and she’s being taken to hospital as we speak.”

 

Joyce gasped. Simon took her arm and quickly started to lead her out of the room. Near the door Victor Chase stopped them, smiling cheerfully. “Leaving already? I was hoping we could talk a bit, get to know each other a bit more.”

 

Simon’s eyes narrowed. Joyce tightened her hand on his arm and smiled back. “No, I’m afraid we can’t, Kit’s been taken to hospital.”

 

“Oh dear, I’m very sad to hear that. I do hope the girl recovers. We couldn’t keep her as a student, for now at least, of course, but I do hope she may return, and happier.” Chase practically oozed sympathy.

 

“No doubt.” Simon gritted out.

 

“Well I won’t delay you any further. I will be seeing you tomorrow, I assume? It is just a formality, I assure you, but these things need to be done you see.” Chase nodded in greeting and wandered away to speak to some other parents.

 

Joyce gently dragged Simon, who was standing still glaring after Chase, with her. He gritted his teeth. “I just can’t stand that man.”

 

“He’s a bit oily, yes. Bit of a schmoozer. He does look a little like you, though.” Joyce said absently, her mind obviously on Kit, her face worried.

 

Simon stopped. “I am nothing like Victor Chase. That man would sell his daughter to make a profit!”

 

Joyce rolled her eyes. “I said looked like. Now come on, I want to get to hospital. And out of here before I start crying.” She walked off quickly, not looking back.

 

Simon followed sheepishly.

 

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“Welcome to Sunnydale.” Daniel read as Sam drove them past the sign. “Well, that’s nice. Go to the Sunnydale Arms first, or try the address?”

 

“Address, it’s not yet 1700, we can introduce ourselves and make an appointment and give her the brief before Major Davis arrives with the notification.” Sam replied after some thought.

 

“Okay, and after that we can swing past the University library, I heard there was a good section on West Coast Native Americans and I never had a chance to check it out,. And then there is apparently going to be an exhibition on Inca and Peruvian culture and I’d like to talk to the visiting curator and get his views on Incan versus Egyptian mummification techniques.”

 

“Just tell me where to go Daniel.” Sam said, sighing a little. *I like him, but Holy Hannah, does he get annoying after a bit. Well, several hours. Without books.*   

 

“I wonder whether they have a good bookstore here, I need some more.” Daniel said blithely, echoing Sam’s thoughts.

 

Sam smiled. “I never knew anybody could read that fast.”

 

Daniel shrugged. “They’re just novels, not all that much information to retain, at least beyond what is needed to read them to the end.”

 

“Well, I hope you retained enough information about map reading to tell me where this Revello Drive place is?” Sam asked pointedly.

 

Daniel nodded. “Take a left here. Any ideas how we are going to convince her to join SGC?”

 

“It’s not so much ‘convince’ as ‘order’ Daniel. Major Ellis is a Reserve officer and can be called up to do her duty. Hence Major Davis and the activation notice.”

 

“So she can’t say no?” Daniel asked, aghast.

 

“Not really. I don’t think there’s a reason she can ask for recusancy, she isn’t listed as a member of a pacifist religious group and it could be described as a national emergency, if not a war.”

 

Daniel winced. “Oh, wonderful. There goes the last of my scientific respectability; I’ve just volunteered one of America’s foremost archaeologists to have her career destroyed.”

 

Sam looked at the glum man. “We need her Daniel. I only read up a bit on her, and we need her. Her country, the world, the human race, needs her.”

 

“And that is something she can’t tell anyone. How is she going to keep up publications? If we keep her for more than a year and a half she’ll lose her tenure. And her pension will take a hit.”

 

“Daniel…”

 

“Know what, I’m never recommending anyone ever again. I thought we were going to ask her. I had no better choice. We’re railroading Professor Ellis.”

 

Sam sat musing on that for a while. “We’ll figure something out. At least she’s single and has no children. Daniel?” Sam sighed.

 

Daniel sat sulking, only speaking to give directions.

 

“She might enjoy it, the challenge. It might not be as bad as you think.” Sam tried.

 

“Left here.”

 

“She’s supposed to be quite hard ass for a Reserve officer, very good pilot too. Did some rescue flying, as well as flying during the Gulf War. She chose to be a reserve officer.”

 

“Turn right here. You can be the one to explain that to her then, or Major Davis, or the Colonel. I’ll just go and mercy kill what’s left of my scientific credibility.”  Daniel said bitterly.

 

Sam winced. They drove for a few minutes in silence, except for Daniel giving directions, even more sulkily than before.

 

“Nice neighbourhood. 1630, this is it.” Sam parked the car and got out, put on her cap and straightened her uniform. She was followed by a slouching and grumbling Daniel, and walked up the path and mounted steps. She rang the bell and waited for the door to be opened.

 

A teenage girl opened the door to a crack; her hair had obviously once been dyed black and was growing out to show a deep auburn tinge. Her eyes were red-rimmed from crying and her face pale and tear streaked. It became even paler when she took in Sam’s uniform.

 

“W-What do you want?” The girl’s voice trembled yet managed to convey her distrust of the visitors, her dislike of them, and her general belligerence towards them. She kept the door open to a mere slit and her thin hand was clasping the jamb so hard the knuckles and fingers were bone white.

 

Sam nodded, “My name is Captain Samantha Carter, US Air Force, and this is Dr. Daniel Jackson. We are looking for Major Arlene Ellis.”

 

“What do you want with my Mom?” The girl asked suspiciously. “She resigned! We’re going to spend time together! She promised!”

 

Sam blinked at the girl’s vehemence. “Can we talk to her? It’s really important…”

 

“NO!! She resigned! She promised! Go away and leave us alone!” She slammed the door in Sam’s face and they heard the lock snick closed.

 

Sam blinked at the wooden panels and then at Daniel. “Well, that could have gone better.”

 

“Definitely.” Daniel agreed. “I thought you said she had no children?”

 

“Well, yes. Obviously something changed.” Sam said dryly.

 

“The girl doesn’t seem very eager to have her Mom go off to war… “Daniel ventured hopefully.

 

“I have my orders, Daniel. And so do you.” Sam took a deep breath and rang the bell again. A throat was cleared behind them.

 

A huge African American stood behind them on the porch, and three large men leaned on their car. “I don’t quite know what you are doing here, but I think Miss Evelyn made quite clear she’s not opening this door again.” The big man said politely.

 

Daniel blinked up at the huge dark blue suit, realizing the man was half a head taller than Teal’c at least.

 

”Yes, well, we need to talk to Major Ellis.”

 

“Indeed? Well, today is not a good day.”

 

Sam looked up at the man. “And why not?”

 

“Miss Katherine was taken to the hospital with severe internal bleeding and sepsis. She was Miss Evelyn’s foster sister. Major Ellis decided that in her current fragile state Miss Evelyn should not be at the hospital.”

 

“We’re here to inform the Major about the fact that she will be receiving a Notification of activation.”

 

The big man sighed. “Look, Captain, I know you are just doing your job, but if you tell the Major that now Mrs. Ellis will kill you.”

 

Sam blinked. “Mrs. Ellis?”

 

“The Major’s mother. She’s very protective of her children and her grandchildren and Miss Evelyn is in no state to be without her mother, as you could see. The Major did not resign on a whim.”

 

“I’m sure the Major would be reasonable about it. She’s an officer.”

 

“Captain, I’m strongly suggesting you come back at a later time. Do not press this now, this evening. This is, to put it mildly, not a good week.”

 

“But…”

 

“Captain, you’re not here to serve the notification. If I’m right you’re just here to get the lay of the land, possibly sound her out. And I’m telling you, now is not a good time. You’re not going to be popular anyway.”

 

Sam nodded. “I understand. Will you please tell the Major we called, Mr…?”

 

“Bottley, Sean Bottley. US Navy. Retired.” Bottley winked.

 

Sam smiled. “Ah. I see. Thank  you, Mr. Bottley. May I leave a card?”

 

“You’re welcome, Captain Carter, I’ll see the Major gets it. And if I may,  a little piece of advice: get safely inside. It will be dark soon and it’s not really safe outside here then. Now I suggest you leave before Miss Evelyn decides to throw a water balloon.”

 

“Water Balloon?” Daniel asked, amazed.

 

“Water balloon.” Bottley repeated with a twinkle in his eyes.

 

Sam smiled again and strode down the steps, followed by Daniel. The men leaning against the car stood politely aside, but Sam noted the thickening that meant that holsters were hidden under their clothes. She got in the car closed the door and drove off.

 

“I think that getting Major Ellis to accept her activation may just have gotten a whole lot more difficult.” Daniel said, looking over his shoulder. “Let’s get to the Sunnydale Arms and then go out for some food, okay?”

 

“Yeah, good idea. And it might be better to get the Colonel rather than Major Davis. I’ll call the General.”

 

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Joyce had her head buried in Simon’s shoulder and was crying softly, Dawn was in Clarice’s lap in the seat next to Joyce, Buffy, next to Simon, had drawn her feet up on the uncomfortable plastic bucket seat, her chin and mouth hidden by her knees, her arms slung around them as her large, green eyes were fixed upon the doors through which Kit had been wheeled an hour and a half earlier.

 

“Why would she do it?” Willow, in one of the horrid green seats opposite, whispered to Dave, to whom she was clinging like a barnacle.

 

“Because she thought things would be easier for us if she was gone.” Buffy said, her voice muffled by her knees.

 

Clarice looked up sharply from stroking Dawn’s hair. “How do you know that?”

 

Buffy’s eyes flicked at her mother. “It’s one of the main reasons why I ran away.” 

 

“You ran away? Why?” Clarice looked incredulously at Joyce, who flinched as if she’d been hit.

 

Cecilia looked up from where she sat. “Joyce didn’t know about magic, so she didn’t know what to do with a Slayer for a daughter.” She sighed. “A very important lesson there, I think.” She hugged Xander, who sat in the bucket seat next to her close, and kissed the top of his head and absentmindedly smoothed down his unruly hair. Xander looked stunned. Willow smiled in spite of the situation. 

 

Joyce sniffled. “Well, I still acted very foolishly.” She reached out a hand across Simon and gently touched Buffy’s cheek. “I really should think before I speak.” She said ruefully. “But if I ever hear of you waitressing in Vegas in a Bunny outfit again…”

 

Buffy flushed as both her grandparents’ and Clarice suddenly eyed her with mixed interest and anxiety.

 

“I swear Mom; if I ever wear anything like that again it won’t be to wait tables.” Realizing what she’d just said Buffy blushed and buried her face in her knees. “Oh, man…”

 

Clarice started to giggle. Dawn in her lap looked as if she’d like to ask a question or two.

 

Cecilia sniffed. “You’re a bit young yet, dear.” Then she smirked at her husband. “Though you can pick up the nicest men while bussing tables, hmmm, Love?”

 

James smiled. “I wouldn’t know. Do tell?”


Xander snorted. Suddenly he turned to the doors and just then they opened. The same surgeon who’d operated on Kit before came through, but this time his step was a lot heavier and his face was grave above his pulled down mask.

 

“Ms. Summers, Dr. Meier? Would you come with me?”

 

Willow burrowed into Dave and James moved swiftly to Buffy while Cecilia gently hugged the suddenly tense Xander.

 

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“It’s really very quiet here, Sam.” Daniel said as they walked back from the little restaurant where they had eaten. 

 

“It’s a small town, Daniel. It’s hardly going to have the swinging nightlife of New York or Chicago.” Sam pointed out.

 

“Yeah, but it’s quiet even for a small town. Nobody is walking alone or with less than three people.” Daniel said, looking round nervously.

 

“Yeah…now you mention it, you’re right.”

 

“Give the girl a prize!  And guess what, its going to be me!” The young man who came out of the shadows was unassuming and to put it mildly, scrawny, with an oversized Adam’s apple, hardly any beard growth yet and scruffy hair. He leered at Sam. “And a lovely prize I am.”

 

Sam rolled her eyes. “Go home kid, before you get hurt.”

 

The kid sniggered. “I love newbies.” He took a step closer to Sam and Daniel noticed that the boy was actually an inch or two shorter than her. And then his face changed. His brow became ridged and his canines elongated into fangs, his whole face seeming to lengthen and he lunged at Sam.

 

Sam reacted with all the instinct of training and brought up her knee into his groin and her flat hand thumped against his furrowed nose.  

 

“Agh! You bitsh! You bwoke my dose!” The alien thing lashed out at Sam and she brought up her arm to deflect him, only to let out a yell of pain; only her retreating before the blow sparing her from having it broken.

 

Sam let out a wary breath. “This is not a kid, Daniel. I don’t know what it is, but it’s dangerous.”

 

“Dow you understand!” The boy-thing said, baring its fangs and attacking. Sam fended him off, but she could feel that he was much stronger than she was and only toying with her. And then there was a sudden expression of surprise on the thing’s face and a tall, very handsome young man was gazing soulfully at Sam from deep, liquid brown eyes through a cloud of swirling dust.

 

“I suggest you and your friend get to a safe place as soon as possible, Miss.” The tall young man said in a quiet voice.

 

Sam gawped. “Err. Yes. Safe. Of course. Err. What was that?”

 

The young man’s lips twitched. “Probably a gang member on PCP armed with a barbeque fork. Good night.” He walked away swiftly, merging with the shadows in an instant.

 

Daniel, who’d just managed to fumble out of his amazement at the sudden occurrences, looked at Sam, who was looking at where the young man had disappeared. “What the hell was that?”

 

Sam took a deep breath and knelt by the heap of ashes and dust. “I don’t know. But I intend to find out. Do you have a specimen bag with you, Daniel?”

 

Daniel reached into a pocket and handed her a plastic Ziploc baggy. Sam grinned up to him. “Now all we need is to train you to be as well prepared in other things. Your reaction time is dreadful. Ow.”

 

Daniel who’d been about to reply with a witticism instead knelt and took the bag from Sam, filling it with the ashes. “We need to get inside and you need to get that arm looked at. I think we passed a hospital sign somewhere on Mainstreet, some sort of free clinic.”

 

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“We’ll take her to the MIC clinic.” Simon said after the doctor had left, to let them digest the bad news.

 

“Simon, this is a hospital, they can offer her the best care.” Joyce pointed out. “You really can’t do anything more than they can here.”

 

“Actually, the Clinic is better equipped than this hospital. I also have two doctors and several nurses on standby to receive the Beckforths.”

 

Joyce looked at him, shocked. “You’re going to try and heal her? Are you insane? You might kill her!”

 

“I know. Joyce, she has a worsening case of sepsis, if that is not dealt with quickly, we will lose her anyway.” Simon ran a hand through his hair. “She seemed to be doing better. I hate this stupid Hellmouth!”

 

“You think it’s having an influence on her?”

 

“It might. She was born here. I don’t know. I just know that in her condition her chances of survival without intervention are very low, and she’s too weak for antibiotics in the amount needed.”

 

“Oh. We’d better do it then. When will you perform the ritual?” Joyce’s voice was anxious and resigned.

 

“Tomorrow at sunset. We’ll need a perimeter of bodyguards and we’d better ask Buffy. Maybe Liam as well.”

 

Joyce sobbed. “Why did she have to run away! I thought she liked us!”

 

“I think Buffy hit the nail on the head. She wants to spare us trouble.”

 

Joyce sniffed. “So when will the Beckforths arrive?”

 

“Some time tonight, they’re heading straight for the Clinic and then they’ll be put up at the Valley Palace.”

 

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Sam looked up from where the female doctor was bandaging her arm. The thing’s nails had cut her and the doctor had disinfected the wounds very thoroughly. She’d also been given a tetanus jab, despite saying that she’d had one only a few weeks earlier. 

 

The door opened and a stretcher was wheeled in, a pale woman with deep red hair on it, an IV drip attached to her arm, an oxygen mask covering her mouth lying atop it. A small woman walked next to it, and Sam blinked.

 

“Dr. Fraiser?”

 

Janet looked at the blonde woman sitting on the emergency table and smiled. “Captain Carter, what a surprise to see you here.”

 

“You as well. Err. Why are you here?”

 

An older woman who showed a striking likeness to Janet and a young girl, barely sixteen, if that, walked in, the girl huddling under the older woman’s arm.

 

“My sister, she had a stroke that’s presenting unusual symptoms. There are some medical experts willing to examine her and hopefully they’ll be able to help her.” Janet said tonelessly.

 

Sam nodded. “I see.”

 

“And you?”

 

Sam sighed. “We’re here to try and recruit an Army Major to join. She wasn’t very receptive the first attempt. And then we got jumped by some ali…” Sam looked at the two other persons in the room and the doctor who was wrapping her arm in gauze. “guy jumped us.” She finished.

 

The doctor smiled. “A very strong someone with strange brow ridges. Almost Neanderthal like, I would say. Better be careful, Dr. Fraiser.”

 

 Janet nodded. “I plan to be. Not a good town to be out at night in, Sunnydale.”

 

“Quite true. Deborah Renner, by the way.”

 

“Janet Fraiser, pleased to make your acquaintance.”

 

Sam looked between the women and then frowned. “Okay, what are you not telling me, and how did you know what the guy who attacked me looked like?” She pulled her arm out of Dr. Renner’s hold, upsetting the bandage.

 

“Because it was a vampire, dear, they’re endemic here. Now let the nice doctor bandage you properly.” The older woman said.

 

Sam nodded. “Yes, Ma’am!”  She extended her arm back to Renner and then looked at Janet. “Wait, what? Vampires? And why did I just…Janet?” She asked plaintively. “What’s going on here?”

 

Mom! Stop that!” Janet hissed at her mother who merely smiled and turned to where the second doctor and a nurse were wheeling Eileen, a private room beyond the emergency room.

 

Janet looked after her and sighed. “I’ll tell you one day. Maybe. If the General says it’s okay.”

 

“The General?” Sam repeated owlishly. “What has he got to do with it?”

 

“I’ll let the General tell you that. Were you out there alone?”

 

“No, Daniel is doing the insurance things. It’s a free clinic only if you can’t afford it.”

 

“Oh, yes.” Janet smiled. “Going to check on Eileen. Talk to you later, Captain. And let Daniel drive. I think your painkillers are kicking in.”

 

Sam Carter looked after her colleague in bemusement while obediently sitting and having her arm bandaged.

 

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Victor Chase arrived home not too late, a slight smile around his lips. He parked his Mercedes SL73 AMG in the underground garage and used the interior staircase to get into the house proper, shucked his coat on the floor for the maid to pick up and strode into the living room.

 

Cordelia was sitting on the couch, demurely, head down, knees together, hands in her lap.

 

Chase greeted her coldly. “Cordelia.”

 

“Good evening, Father.”

 

“I hear you’ve been staying over at the Kendalls?”

 

“Mrs. Kendall invited me, Father.” Cordelia had still not looked up.

 

“You left the house, Cordelia. With just the servants in it.”

 

“Yes, Father.”

 

“While I ordered you not to. I expressly ordered you not to do so, Cordelia.”

 

“Y-yes Father.”

 

Victor sat down. “Tell me what you know about a woman called Joyce Summers and a man called Simon Meier.”

 

“She’s the mother of Buffy Summers. They’ve taken in Willow Rosenberg and Alexander Harris as foster children. He’s got bodyguards. He’s very rich and used to live in New York; he’s on a first name basis with Mrs. Buffum Chandler and Mikhail Baryshnikov.”

 

“Bodyguards? Yes…that explains that. How rich?”

 

“I do not know, Father.”

 

“Very well.” Chase rose again and grasped Cordelia’s chin, forcing her to look him in the eyes. “Do you fear me, Cordelia?”

 

“Y-yes Father.” Cordelia’s eyes were wide and her breathing shallow.

 

“Good. As it should be, daughters should fear their Fathers. You displeased me with your disobedience but your knowledge was acceptable. Go to my office and get the number 2 cane off the wall. ”

 

“Y-yes Father.” Cordelia rose and walked out of the room swiftly. 

 

Victor Chase poured himself a shot of Bourbon and slugged it back. Then he went upstairs to chastise his daughter like a proper father should.

 

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Marcus Kendall looked at his wife again as he rose from his chair. “Are you sure?”

 

“Very. She feels left out, Marcus. You know that…you know Meeny isn’t always as adult as she could be.” Eliza replied

 

Marcus nodded. “I know. I just thought well, Cordelia was rather scathing about it.”

 

“Cordelia isn’t here now.” Eliza pointed out. “And I wouldn’t be too sure about her true opinion.”

 

Marcus nodded. “Okay.” He took a deep breath. “You know…I’ll miss this. When they won’t enjoy it anymore…”

 

Eliza gave him a gentle kiss. “Then there will be grandchildren.”

 

Marcus nodded and left the kitchen. Eliza stood with her arms crossed in the door to the hall and grinned as her husband snuck up the stairs for the nightly ritual. He knocked on the door to Melody’s room and stuck his head in through the gap as he opened it. “Anyone here want to join their old Dad for a bit of story time on the couch?”

 

Melody let out a giggle. “ME!”

 

Marcus nodded sagely. “I see. Well, I’ll just go see if Felicity wants to join us too.”

 

Melody nodded and rose from the chair by her desk, following her father to the opposite side of the hall, where he knocked once more. A giggle came from Felicity, but she gamely played along as Marcus put his head around the door, and in his most affected British accent, addressed her. “Would you like to join me and Melody for a bit of storytelling, Flissy?”

 

“Yes, Daddy, that would be quite an appropriate way to spend a pleasant half hour, I would say.” Felicity answered with a straight face in an equally British accented voice. Melody giggled as Felicity rose.

 

Marcus walked passed Harmony’s door and saw his twin daughters stop, He saw the door was slightly ajar. He took a step back and knocked, then pushed the door slightly open. “Harmony? Would you like to join story time?”

 

Harmony opened the door wider and nodded a smile on her face. “Yes, please!”

 

Marcus extended her his arm and she accepted with grave courtesy, in a gesture that would have amazed her classmates. “Then let me lead you, My Lady.”

 

Marcus led his daughters down the stairs and into the living room, settled them on the couch, with a spot in the middle for him, saw Eliza bring in the cocoa and then moved to a cupboard with leaded bottle glass doors and opened it with a key from his pocket. “Now, what shall we read tonight?” He asked musingly. “Maybe some Chaucer?”

 

“NO!” The girls chorused.

 

“Shakespeare then?”

 

“No!”

 

Eliza rolled her eyes as Marcus hammed it up. The girls never went for his first choices. She did admit very quietly to herself that to have him read her Shakespeare in his wonderfully warm voice and native accent was a major turn on.  

 

“How about some Gulliver’s travels then?”

 

“No, Daddy! The Great Bard! Tell us a tale from the Great Bard!” Felicity demanded after sharing a look with her sisters.

 

“Some of the tales of Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr?” Marcus scratched his head. “But that’s dreadfully boring, wouldn’t you say?’

 

“Daddy!” Harmony pouted.

 

“Oh, very well.” Marcus grinned and reached for the huge leather bound tome and carefully took it from its pride of place in the cupboard. It was as hefty tome and he had to use both arms to carry it. He put it on the table and opened it to the first beautifully illuminated page, the black and red handwritten letters of the manuscript crisp and clear on the parchment pages.

 

Marcus settled on the couch between Harmony and Felicity while Melody cuddled up against Eliza. Marcus took out his reading glasses and settled them on his nose in a minor theatrical performance. Then he turned to the girls. “And what tale of the Bard do you want to hear tonight?”

 

“You pick, Daddy.” Harmony said after a silent consultation with her sisters.

 

Marcus smiled and turned the pages until her reached the page he wanted. “Here begins the tale of He who brought freedom, the Liberator, who set all free, the Sword that severs and the Sickle that shears…”

 

End note:

 

The pottery the Three P’s and the old P are unpacking was created by the Moche or Mochica culture of Peru, which flourished between about 100 AD and 800 AD. Nothing described there does not exist. Trust me on this.

 

Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr ("Cynddelw the Great Poet"; Middle Welsh: Kyndelw Brydyt or Cyndelw Brydyd Maur; fl. c. 1155–1200), in English also known as Kendall, was the court poet of Madog ap Maredudd, Owain Gwynedd (Owen the Great), and Dafydd ab Owain Gwynedd, and one of the most prominent Welsh poets of the 12th century.

 

 Still not going as fast as I’d like. However a great many important facts were divulged and the attentive reader may discover a few major plot points about a number of stories.   

 

 
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