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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)vidiconFR1598780,1331571486392,88228 May 115 Jul 14No

From Darkness

Author’s Note:

Thanks very much to my Beta’s, Letomo and EllandrahSylver.

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. And you can thank Twilightwanderer for the Abbott and Costello.

yourself be heard.

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?%

Two new recommendations, from SpacedCadet and TheBear. Thanks very much for recommending me, All my other recommenders, know that I appreciate every one of you, and for sticking with me.

Please remember to review, feedback is important to the development of the story.

67 From darkness

“Well spotted, sister dear! You know, I can almost understand why our father enjoyed this so much. It’s a lovely thrill to feel the darkness run along your magical pathways, right into the pleasure centers of the brain. Remember that feeling, Ripper?”

Clarice’s eyes narrowed. She took a step forward but was stopped by a wall of crackling energy.

Giles lunged at him and suddenly hung suspended in midair, his arms twisted behind his back, and a scream wrung from his lips as his shoulders started to dislocate under the pressure.

Kendra stood frozen in the doorway. Then she ran at the axe standing against the desk and rushed at Simon who threw her against the wall with a negligent flick of his fingers.

Clarice closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Simon had confirmed her mother’s suspicion that she was empathic. One day she would be able to feel and sense other people’s emotions and to some extent, thoughts. One day she might, to some degree, send hers out. Regrettably that took a degree of familiarity with her powers that she, unblocked for barely a week, did not have. But right now she needed to get through to Simon. The fact he had been teaching her should help. *C’mon big brother! You didn’t find Joyce to hurt her; you don’t love the children to go evil Dad on them! You didn’t find me just to kill me! Oh, please, work!*  She slowed her breathing in the meditation technique her mother had shown her and tried to send her thoughts at the man on the other side of the force field.

Suddenly she fell, stumbling to Simon. He was leaning over the table, his face pale and his eyes closed.

“’Ris, get me out of here. Now!”

“Simon?” Clarice asked hopefully.

He gave her a strained smile. “You’re right. I didn’t find you just to kill you.” Simon’s eyes rolled up in his head and then he crumpled to the floor.

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Cordelia Chase liked quite porcelain. She collected Dresden figurines, or at least her mother did and Cordelia took care of them whenever her mother was absent, which was often enough that Cordelia considered them hers.

This sort of intimate study of porcelain was not quite her thing however. Hanging over the toilet bowl, vomiting and gasping, with Harmony worriedly holding her hair away from her face. Harmony was humming in that soothing way of hers and Cordelia felt the horrible churning tension in her stomach recede at the sound of her friend’s wordless song.

Cordelia sat back and wiped her mouth with the paper towel that Harmony handed to her. “Cordy? Are you pregnant?” Harmony asked diffidently. “I mean, you and that Frat boy were getting rather… close at the Bronze and your parents are away and you were alone last night-”

Cordelia started coughing in surprise. “WHAT? Harmony! No, I’m not pregnant. I just… I just felt ill, okay? Really sick. Like some great big mmfff.” Cordelia bent over the toilet again, vomiting bile. “God, just the thought makes me ill.”

“You should go home.” Harmony stated.

“To the nice empty house with the servants?” Cordelia snarked.

“No, home. My home. I’m calling Mom.” Harmony had her phone out and Cordelia reached out to try and grab it, but failed as Harmony moved away. “Mom? I’m at school and Cordy is really ill, she keeps throwing up. And her parents are away.” The ‘again’ remained unspoken but was pretty clear to Cordelia’s ears.

“Harm, don’t!” Cordelia whispered fiercely.

“Mom, Cordy’s being difficult,” Harmony smiled as she listened, then looked at Cordelia and handed the phone over. “Mom wants to talk to you.”

Cordelia took the phone with trepidation. “Yes, Mrs. Kendall?”

“Cordelia, I’ll be there in ten minutes, you’ll be waiting in front of the school.”

Cordelia closed her eyes. “Yes, Mrs. Kendall.”

“Good. We’ll go by the doctor too. Who’s your doctor?”

“Pearly, on Rasputin Street.”

“Pearly?” Eliza Kendall’s voice was surprised. “I see. Well, I’m getting in the car; I’ll be there in ten. Tell Harmony to stay with you.”

Cordelia looked at the phone in a daze. “She’s picking me up.”

“Yeah. I know,” Harmony helped Cordelia to her feet. Cordelia trembled and then bent over the toilet, more bile joining the vomit in the bowl. “And a good thing too.”

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“What happened to him?” Joyce asked anxiously as she watched her fiancé lying sedated on the bed in their room.

Clarice sat down and rubbed her forehead. “He tapped into the Hellmouth. Look, I promised Simon we wouldn’t talk about this until Willow and Amy were here, he wants them to learn from his mistakes. Preferably Dawn too.”

“Dawn?”

“Just a little bit too interested in the dangerous side of magic for my comfort,” Clarice replied. “For a nine year old.”

“When did you get so read in on magic?” Joyce asked curiously.

“Since Mom took me into the copse behind the house and we danced naked around a fire to remove the block on my magic,” Clarice answered with a slight blush. “And we’ve been talking about it pretty much every day since then.”

“Dance naked?”

“Well, we sat and meditated and threw herbs and stuff on the fire and we drank this potion that Mom cooked up previously. But naked, yeah.”

“Ah. I see.”

“Please ignore any and all remarks Mom makes regardin’ waxin’ and bikini lines. Especially if Patrick is mentioned in the same sentence,” Clarice grumbled, her blush deepening.

“Have you decided to ask him to come with you? To New York and London, I mean.” Joyce sat down and put a hand on Simon’s forehead, noticing he was unusually warm.

“I’d like for him and Amy to both come along. But he has a company to run, so…”

Joyce nodded. “I understand. But there’s not going to be very much business over Christmas I think. And you can afford to hire a foreman for him.”

Clarice blinked. “I can?”

Joyce snorted. “Yes, I think you can. Considering that as Simon’s wife I’ll get the same annuity as his sister…”

Clarice bit her lip. “Joyce… Do you think I should go public?”

Joyce sat on the bed. “You talked it over with Mom? This would impact on her a lot more than us.”

Clarice nodded. “I think we maybe shouldn’t yet,” she sighed and looked at her brother, sleeping fitfully. “Idiot.”

“Quite.”

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Cordelia was lying in the guest room feeling, as the twins would put it, like ick. She was hot and cold at the same time and shivering as well. Eliza Kendall walked into the room with a thermometer and an absent expression on her face. 

“Do you want to put this in yourself or do I need to do it?”

Cordelia looked at her rather woozily. She knew that they’d driven to Chase Manor to pick up clothes and such like, and even her old teddy bear. Since then she’d been a bit out of things.

Her eyes focused on the red thermometer and then widened. “Wh-what? Oh, no! Nuh-uh! Not gonna happen!”

Eliza sniggered. “I thought you might react that way. So I brought an oral thermometer as well.” She took the other thermometer out off her pocket, shook it  to settle the mercury, wiped it off with alcohol and put it under Cordelia’s tongue. All the while Cordelia glared at her. After about half a minute Cordelia spat it out and spun to the edge of her bed, vomiting bile into the bucket that Eliza had placed there.

Eliza sat down beside Cordelia, holding her hair and rubbing her back. “Well. Looks like we’ve got a choice. We can go see Marcus, or we can go to the free clinic and ask for a female doctor.”

Cordelia gagged miserably and a few more globs of bile landed in the bucket. “Please, no.”

“Oh, we will. And not just about this illness,” Eliza lifted the girl’s nightshirt. “But about these as well.” She gestured at the healing bruises and welts on Cordelia’s back. “Which I take are the reason for your chaste changing in the bathroom or locker room that always makes Harmony wonder.”

“NO!!” No, please, he’ll kill me!” Cordelia shouted in fear, before collapsing again, sobbing and trying not to vomit. “He'll kill me and then you. Please, no.”

“Yes. And then, Cordelia, you and I are going to see a man about child abuse,” Eliza said in an implacable voice.  

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The silence in the library was foreboding and Jenny rather hesitantly knocked on the office door. Rupert was sitting behind his desk, his face pale and drawn and studying a file in front of him. “Hey,” Jenny greeted him. “I heard there was some excitement here?”

“Hmmm? Yes, I suppose so.” Giles responded absently, his eyes still on the pages before him.

“So? Tell!”

“Simon received a report from Britain, from one of his sources,” Giles replied evenly. “It was worrying enough that he felt the need to tap into a leyline while he spoke to me. Apparently we are quite near the Hellmouth. He was… Less than rational, before he collapsed.”

“Collapsed?” Jenny fell into the chair opposite Giles. “How?”

“He was overwhelmed,” Giles turned another page and swallowed heavily. “Oh, dear Lord!”

“Rupert?” Jenny asked worriedly. “What have you got there?”

“The reason Simon came in here,” Giles took off his glasses and started to clean them, staring at Jenny as if she was his island in a sea of madness.

“Yes? And?” Jenny prompted.

“I’d have come in with a gun and knife,” Giles admitted. “If I had known this and kept it back... Let’s say that it’s not good at all.”

“Oh. So you don’t blame him?”

“No. No, I don’t. Certainly not for the later part, he was definitely non compos mentis then. But it does mean I need to do something I despise.”

Jenny looked at his worried and unhappy face. “Something bad?”

“Very. I have to call my father.”

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“They will be here soon,” the tall, long-haired man smiled. “Things will start to move then.”

The younger looking man bit his lower lip. “Are you sure about this? We'll get in terrible trouble.”

“More trouble than Bertram?” the older man replied pointedly.

The younger man winced. “I can't believe she did that to him! He was her and her family’s Whitelighter for decades!”

“He let her little sister be raped and told her to marry her rapist. He got less than he deserved,” the.” long-haired man stated repressively.

“She almost castrated him!”

“Yes. Only almost. Really, Leo. We can do this two ways. We can do it like the Elders want and mess everything up. The Charmed ones will tell you to leave and any influence we might have with them, any chance we may have to help and guide them, will be lost. Or we can use my method and they –and the world – might actually survive.”

“Are you sure about this?”

“Very. I know Penelope and I have a fairly good idea of the Charmed Ones.”

“How can you be so sure they are the Charmed Ones? We can't sense them! Or get into their house! They don't act differently, Prue goes to work, Piper is looking for a new job, Phoebe is going to college. Not a single mystical occurrence.”

“They unlocked their powers, but Penny showed them how to mask them. All of them are waiting for a teacher. Well, except for Prue, she’s got Penny.”

“How do you know these things? You've been a Whitelighter shorter than I have.”

“Blood, Leo. Blood and Love. You can't understand how much I love my wife, or my Granddaughters. I understand them, Leo. Even if I can't ever see them again, face to face, talk to them, I will do my utmost to protect them.”

Leo's eyes widened in surprise. “Husband? Granddaughters? How?”

“Marriage is the usual method for husband. You were a soldier; you can fill in the rest even if you never got anywhere with Lillian while you were married,” Allen replied dryly.

Leo blushed and shook his head. “You know what I mean. The Elders are going to be very upset when they find out.”

“The problem with the Elders and the Powers is that neither group understands the concept of carrot.”

“Carrot?”

“All they know is stick.”

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“Penny? It's Cece.”

“Cece, good to hear your voice. Is everything alright?”

“Not really, no. Can we come by this weekend?”

“Who are ‘we’?”

“Everybody. I think all of us can use a bit of good clean energy, and Simon most of all, he tapped into the Hellmouth”

“TAPPED INTO THE HELLMOUTH?” Penelope screamed.

“Yes. It's somewhere under the High School. He was talking to Giles about some things that worried him and tapped into a leyline. So close to the Hellmouth, it was subverted.”

“How is he?”

“Clarice used her power to get through to him. He's resting. Before he fell asleep, after he woke up from his faint, he told us that we're going to use it as a lesson for the girls.”

“Clarice, eh? So is it really empathy?” Penelope asked with interest.

“Yes. Simon has started her training,” Cecelia proudly answered. “How about your girls?”

“As expected from the Prophecy of the Chosen, it’s Visions for Phoebe. You already knew about Prue's Telekinesis and Piper's Time Stop.”

“Do you think she can handle it? Phoebe I mean.”

“I think she can. She may get frustrated, but as long as she doesn't See too much, if she can actually do something about the things she Sees. Yes, I think she can,” Penelope chuckled. “Though she will probably get heartily fed up by the fact that both her sisters have active powers.”

“That she will.”

“When will you be here?”

“Later tonight. Joyce has booked a plane.”

“From LAX? It might be just as fast just to drive what with the check in and out,” Penelope noted.

“No, she booked a plane, to land in Sunnydale and fly to a private field near San Francisco. And apparently Simon always flies First Class. Check in is a few minutes for that.”

“Oh. Sometimes I forget that Simon is rich enough to do stuff like that.”

“Actually Joyce is using her own income. Or at least, the income she gets under the pre-nup.” There was a slight tinge of maternal pride in Cecelia’s voice.

There was a moment of silence. “I knew I should’ve married him when I had the chance,” Penelope noted, dryly.

“PENNY!”

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Rupert Giles took a deep breath. He sat behind his desk at home, Jenny with her feet tucked under her was watching him with concern and for the past two minutes he’d been looking at the phone.

“Rupert?”

“I know. I have to do this.” Giles took another deep breath picked up the phone and dialed and put the phone on speaker. The dial tone went several times and finally Jenny heard a feminine voice. “Lillian Giles.”

“Mum? It's Rupert.”

“Ru! Tom, it's Ru! Ru, is everything alright? Did he get at you? Are you alright? Is your Slayer alright?”

“Mum! Calm down! I'm fine and so's Buffy.”

“Thank God. We've been so worried.”

“I'm glad to hear that. It would've been nice to actually know what was going on,”.” Giles commented acidly. There was a moment of stunned silence.

“Know what was going on? You mean you didn't know?” Lillian Giles voice was icy and angry.

“Not until this morning, no. Do you know why I wasn't told?” Giles asked, now in a rather less belligerent voice. It was quite obvious that his mother at least had not been aware he’d been kept in the dark.

“Lillian may I have the phone?” Jenny could hear the deep, resonant voice and recognized a bit of her Rupert in it. “Ru, I swear I didn't know you weren't told. Dumbledore and Wyndham- Pryce told me that you knew, had been fully briefed and were staying incommunicado until things… the situation became clearer.”

“No. No, I wasn't told.”

“Then how did you find out? I've been working like blazes to keep it under the radar,” the older Giles asked, exasperated. “We're in total communications lockdown.”

“Buffy Summers' mother is dating Simon Meier. He has sources. He was looking for a girl, a Potential. She was kidnapped by the Council, which led to this whole mess. Look, father you may have to confront the Thirteen. If this continues, there may not be any Watchers left in a year. Even if he does leave the Potentials unharmed they cannot fight unsupported.”

Thomas Giles bitter laughter came over the phone. “There is no Council of Thirteen. Except for Sirk, who was appointed Headmaster of the Academy, they are all dead.”

“Good Lord. How?”

“Howard got to them. The... former Potentials betrayed them at Travers' instigation. Howard has promised that he won't kill any more Watchers if we hand over, or withdraw our support, of those who aided in the murder of his wife and foster daughter.”

“I see. And what is going to happen?”

“Travers has called a Conclave-”

“I thought you said the Council was dead? How is Travers alive then?” Giles asked in confusion.

“They are. Travers was removed and Wyndham-Pryce appointed Legate in his stead.”

Giles sputtered in indignation. “But Pryce never had an active Slayer!”

“Yes. And he was abysmal at being the Legate. At any rate, Travers is not going to be Legate, he's going for Augustus.”

“And you? Will you try for a seat?”

“Temporarily. We don’t know who will become the new Legate, we’d ask Bernard Crowley, but we think he was among the first to die, even if we didn’t hear about it. Fillworthe has stated he’s interested. But I don’t trust him, and neither does Travers. A few too many questions remain about the death of Heike Möller. We think Howard got Zabuto before he went after the rest of the Thirteen. Dumbledore had him elected because he wanted the support from his faction and he knew Sam would never leave Jamaica to take an active seat. Poor fellow. You said Howard never harmed the Potentials? How can you be so sure?”

*He’s rambling. He never rambles. The strain must be getting to him.* Giles noted. “Because he made certain that Sam's Potential got off the Island safely and was registered as an unaccompanied minor. She's staying with the current Slayer. And Sam’s alive; he's in hospital in Kingston.”

“Good Lord. That is good news. Ru? How are you otherwise? The Slayer is well?”

“The Slayer has an exceptionally powerful support system in her future stepfather,” Giles took a breath. “And I'll be home for Christmas.”

“Rupert Edmund Giles, you will not abandon your Slayer!” Lillian’s voice rang out. His father merely spluttered.

“I’m not. She’s going to Britain. Apparently her stepfather has some things to do there.”

“And you’re letting him take her?” Thomas asked, aghast.

Jenny giggled at Rupert’s face. Giles glared at her then answered. “Let is not really the word. I’m, we’re, lucky that Meier even allows any Watcher near her. Her mother is even more protective.”

“But shouldn’t you remain behind to guard the Hellmouth yourself? The Slayer can report to the Council for help in researching and instructions and training.” Thomas said after a moment’s thought.

“She’s being trained by a platoon of former special forces soldiers. The Council has nothing to match their quality. And Dr. Meier’s chief archivist is Lord Carnahan,” Giles replied. “Which explains why we were never able to recruit him.”

“Dear God. But that still means the Hellmouth will be unguarded. Why are you coming over?”

Giles took a deep breath, looked at Jenny who nodded encouragingly and took the plunge. “Because Lord Carnahan knows a way to break the bond with Eyghon. And the others who are in the Circle with me all live in Britain and Lord Carnahan is going there as well.”

There was a noise as of a struggle and then Lillian Giles was back on the phone. “Oh Ru, that’s wonderful! Now there won’t be any reason for you not to marry Geraldine!”

“MUM!” Giles called out.

“GERALDINE? MARRY? MARRY GERALDINE?” Jenny shrieked.

“I knew it! I knew I heard a woman giggle,” Lillian sounded smug. “And I knew you’d never have your Slayer there. So who is she?”

“Rupert, she’s not American is she? She- she can read?” Thomas asked with dread in his voice.

“Thomas! She can hear you! Shush!” Lillian scolded. “Now Ru, what is her name?”

“Jenny. Jenny Calendar.”

“Good. And how did you meet her?”

“Err… she’s a technopagan. She helped cast the Demon Moloch out of the Internet.”

“That’s what she does. Now how did you meet?” Lillian pressed.

Jenny giggled at Rupert’s put upon expression. Giles glared at Jenny again but she failed to look nearly as contrite as she should.   

 Giles sighed. “She’s the Computer Science teacher at the school. She’s got a Master’s in Computer Science at MIT and a Bachelor's in Education. And yes, Father, she does indeed read. She's working on a PhD in Computer Science.” Giles added proudly.

“So she’s smart and she knows about our world. But you’ve barely known her three months and you’re bringing her home already? You’ve never done that before.” Lillian inquired.

Jenny looked at Rupert. She bit her lip and then nodded. He reached a hand out and she rose, coming over to sit on his lap. He put a gentle arm around her.

“Ru? Are you still there?”

“Yes. Yes. She has another name, Janna Nadezhda Kalderash. She’s a Seer of the People.”

“Buggering HELL! Rupert!” Thomas called out. “Well done, boy! Well done!”

“Thomas Edward Giles, if I find out you are thinking of my future daughter-in-law as an asset, I will cut off your oldest and dearest friends!” Lillian threatened.

Jenny blinked and bit her lips.

“Asset? Who cares! They’re Bonded, Lilly!” Thomas’ voice was exuberant.

Rupert Giles sat in stunned silence. “You- you-”

“Now Rupert, if she has visions of great import you should tell us. But otherwise only tell Travers and Sebastian. They can be trusted to keep it quiet.” Thomas’ voice was filled with incredible joy.

“DAD!” Rupert finally called out. “Why are you so excited? And I’m not going to ask her to start dropping baby Watchers just to fill the ranks!”

Lillian answered instead of her husband. “Ru… He’s just happy you’re no longer alone. You’re so much like him. It’s hard… He’s not very good at showing his emotions, the really deep ones. Neither are you.”

Jenny snorted as she leaned into Rupert’s shoulder. “You can say that again.” Then she flushed at the older woman’s tinkling laughter. “He’s showing plenty of emotion now, I thought? Your husband I mean,” she ventured.

“That’s because he’s completely sloshed,” Lillian noted dryly. “You’ll find, Jenny that the Giles male can be as drunk as skunk and still discuss Plato in Greek. It’s very annoying really. But even they get more emotional when they’re, how do you Americans say it? Hammered? Especially when they worry their son may have been killed.”

“K-killed? Worry? ” Giles stammered out.

“Yes, Rupert, killed. And yes, worry. Just before the Thirteen were slaughtered we heard Wyndham-Pryce was looking for a new Primus. And since Merrick died… Well, he was one of the very best field Watchers…” Lillian sobbed. “Dammit Ru! What were we supposed to think?”

“He was going to replace me or have me killed… I feel sudden urge to come over and spit on his grave.”

“He isn’t, strictly speaking, dead,” Lillian noted, a strange satisfaction in her voice. “His soul was sucked out by a Soul Leech.”

“What? How?”

“The Council had one imprisoned. I’ll ask Quentin to send you all pertinent information. Now, onto the important stuff. When will you two be here, and how long are you staying?”

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Willow looked up anxiously and her double on the monitor did the same. The one difference was that Willow was in Dave’s arms and Rowan in the translucent arms of what Dave and Willow called the ‘computer surrogate Joyce’. Buffy was by the hearth, leaning up against Angel. Amy was folding and releasing the strap on her bag, her eyes on the top of the stairs. Simon came down, carefully leaning on Joyce and hanging onto the banister. Kendra eyed him warily and Xander with concern, Dawn and Kit hovered near the bottom of the stairs and as soon as he set foot there Kit moved in to hug him. “Don’t do that ever again!” she demanded fiercely.

“I’d second that,”.” Charles stated from the chair he occupied.

Danielle nodded, walked up to Simon and thwacked him lightly on the back of the head. “Thirded.” 

Simon grinned rather sheepishly as Joyce helped him settle on the couch. Kit and Dawn sat down next to him and cuddled close. “I’ll immediately admit it was not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.”

“You can say that again,” Joyce muttered darkly. “This ranks right up there with driving a truck behind enemy lines to collect a group of wounded soldiers.”

Charles raised an eyebrow. “Told you about that piece of idiocy, did he?”

“Yes. We discussed the meaning of his medals,” Joyce replied.

Clarice coughed. “Discussed?”

Joyce flushed. “Yes. So, everybody here who needs to be?”

Simon looked around. The entire family was present. “Just waiting for Rupert and Jenny.” 

As if on cue the doorbell rang and James went to open it. “Good afternoon,” he greeted them and stood aside to let them in.”

The couple entered and Simon tried to rise. Giles quickly walked up to him and pressed him down. “Sit, please. It wasn’t your fault.”

“I should have known better,” Simon countered.

“Possibly. But it gives us a much closer location for the Hellmouth. It explains a few things about certain goings on at the School at any rate. And you stopped before anyone was seriously injured.”

“How are your shoulders?” Charles rose and gestured to Giles who sighed.

“Blooming house is full of bloody doctors,” he muttered. Only Buffy and Angel could hear him. Buffy grinned slightly, looking at Angel, but Angel’s face did not change. Seeing the lack of reaction on her boyfriend’s face Buffy sighed and settled for leaning a bit closer.

“So what happened?” Willow demanded to know. “All Mom would say was that it was magic gone bad and that you’d tell us after school. And to pack our bags. So?”

Simon chuckled. “Very well, explanations. Willow, Amy, why do some people have more magical power than others?”

The girls exchanged looks and Willow sighed. “This had better have to do with what is wrong with you, Dad! Okay, so all witches, all people really, have a reservoir or pool of magic. This reservoir is filled by either the power of the earth or what might be called the spirit or soul realm. You can immediately use the power in the reservoir to cast spells, but it takes time to fill up again, and that differs per person and where you are. The channel the power uses to fill the reservoir is called a funnel. It goes faster in areas with high ambient magic, like here on the Hellmouth. But some people have only a very small funnel, so it can take ages for a big reservoir to fill up for someone with a small funnel. There are techniques to do it faster, but that takes meditation and a place where there’s a lot of magic, again, a Hellmouth will do.”

Willow saw Giles looked like he wanted to take notes and Jenny did as well. She bit her lip as if she was literally biting back questions. Willow went on.

“Then there’s the conduit, that’s the amount of power you can draw out of the reservoir to cast spells. So if you have a large reservoir and a small conduit, you can cast only small spells, but a great many of them, without recharging.” She looked questioningly at Simon who nodded.

Willow continued. “Okay then, most people have only a minute reservoir, funnel and conduit. They reach their naturally largest size at around age twenty-one. All can grow with practice and use, just like building muscle. Then there’s control and knowledge, the more control you have of your emotions-”

“Anger, fear, hate, to the Dark Side they lead,” Amy quipped. Then she looked at Simon and gulped in sudden realization. “Oh… Oh fucking shit!

Clarice rose and glared at Amy. “Amelia Morgana Agrippina Apolonia Circe Minerva Madison! One more word of bad language out of you and you’ll be in such trouble! Do you understand?”

Amy quailed. “Yes! Completely! Sorry?”

Clarice eyed her and then nodded. “Very well. Consider this is your last warning.”

Amy sagged in relief and scuttled away from Clarice, only to encounter Cecelia. She let out a very Willow-like ‘eep’ and froze, like a deer in the headlights. Cecelia merely raised an eyebrow, though a glint of humour could be seen in her eyes. Amy scurried away from her as well.

Willow swallowed, her wide green eyes on Simon. “The more control you have of your emotions, the better at magic you are, but you can find control at different levels. You can maintain yourself at a level of peace, of love or… or of anger.” She looked at Simon and took a deep breath. “And when you use a darker emotion as your emotional stability level it affects the mind and your actions.”

Simon nodded encouragingly. “Very good. Go on. Extrapolate.”

“Knowledge is just that, how many spells you know.” Willow looked at Simon. “You told us you have a very small reservoir, barely larger than that of a normal human, but a very large funnel and conduit. That is what allows you to use Leylines so well. Most witches and adepts who use them are very powerful, have large reservoirs. The power from the lines gets stuck in eddies and currents in the reservoirs, beats up against the conduit, making it really difficult to control the power. You’re just a channel.” Willow bit her lip. “You really hate Watchers. You’d heard something that upset you, made you angry. You were afraid for us, for Buffy. And then you tried to draw in power and that was very near the Hellmouth. So your will and consciousness were overwhelmed by the evil and you went all dark.”

Simon smiled. “Yes, almost exactly. Now, how does this affect you and Amy and other witches on the Hellmouth?” He looked at Amy, cowering in the corner as far away from Cecelia and Clarice as she could get. “Amy? Answer that one.”

Amy gulped, but complied. “We’ve lived on the Hellmouth for our entire lives. That’s gotta mean our Reservoirs are mostly full of dark magic, which influences our thinking and our emotions to a certain degree. Before we can practice magic safely we need to have a means to keep the dark magic from filling us, and to achieve a certain level of emotional stability. Teenagers lack that.” She looked at Clarice uncertainly and then continued, thoughtfully. “But I thought you’d become more stable?” She shook her head. “Anyway, to use a leyline you have to have a constant trickle of the power run in and out of you, like Hoover Dam. That meant there was a constant trickle of Hellmouth badness running through you, all the while you talked to Giles, right?”

“Quite correct. The darkness of it would ordinarily not have been enough to make me lose my composure, and normally I would have noticed the excessive darkness and dropped the leyline. However what I read was sufficiently upsetting that I lost it. I do apologize again, Rupert.” 

Giles nodded. “And accepted once more. I probably would have come in with a loaded gun,” he looked around the room. “I called my father to ask for an explanation. I’ve got some things to tell you all.”

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Xander kept looking around, trying to see where the candid camera was. “So this is really your airplane? This jet is yours?”

“Well, excluding various tax-dodges, false companies and Bermuda fronts, yes,” Simon replied from his own chair, which was reclining. He looked drawn and tired.

“Okay. Just takes some time getting used to the notion that you own, like a jet, whereas my birthparents barely managed to pay the installments on their secondhand car’s loan,” Xander noted. Then he saw the tremors in Simon’s hands and just how pale he was. “Dad, go to sleep. Please? Get some sort of rest?” he pleaded.

Simon nodded. Joyce handed him a sleep mask and within minutes Simon was in an exhausted sleep. Joyce looked around, rose and took a seat next to Kendra, who was sitting alone at the back of the plane.

“Well, it seems we’ll have a bit of quiet for a few hours.” Joyce looked at the girl.

“Yes.”

“It must be a great shock for you, all this.”

“Yes.” Came the mulish reply.

“I assume you do not like Simon very much after his little display of hate for the Watchers.”

“No.”

“Hmmm, well, if you want to talk, I’m right here.” She cast a considering look around the plane, saw her various offspring and relatives dispose of themselves in the seats, wondered if she and Simon would ever get the chance of using the bed in the rear compartment, blushed at the notion of the Mile High Club and took a book out of her bag. If she was going to finish her thesis, she needed to read up. *The House of Habsburg and the Medici marriage. Yay.*

Half an hour later, a quarter of an hour after take off, she heard the little sob and put the book away, rose, drew Kendra up as well, and dragged the girl to the bedroom. Once there, the girl collapsed in tears.

“Shhh, it’s alright, everything will be alright.” Joyce soothed.

“He hurt Mr. Zabuto and I was scared, but I wanted to go back, but he told me to run. And here, there were vampires and they, they took my clothes away, and there were other girls and they laughed and there was a man…” Kendra sobbed into Joyce’s shoulder. “He asked us questions and they tied us down and he looked down there…” Kendra shuddered.

Joyce kept up her soothing, but inwardly she seethed with anger. *Whoever hurt this girl, all of them, no matter who they are, are going to pay. I swear.*

“And they gave us some p-potion and we had to tell them the truth and I was so afraid that they wanted to know about the Slayer and the Council, but all they wanted to know was if we were v-virgins, the things we’d done with boys and g-girls,” Kendra stammered, her words soft and frightened between her sobs. “I didn’t even know girls could like girls!” she almost wailed.

Joyce hugged her tight and her hands made soothing circles on Kendra’s back. *Note to self, explain the facts of life to her, including homosexuality and bisexuality and take her to Margaret as soon as possible. And as soon as she comes out of her shell a little, take her for a real shopping trip, not a just a buy the necessities one.* 

“I-I was the only one who’d never even kissed anyone. So they put me in a cell. And I could hear the vampires and what they did to the other g-girls.” Kendra shuddered.

*Kick Simon for not questioning her more gently, at home, first. Then do it again. Also kick Rupert, just to be safe. He probably should have done more. Men. A girl says she’s alright and they immediately believe her.*

“Afterwards, they made them into Vampires. So they c-could have them l-longer. I could hear them still, screaming, but d-different. I can still hear them! I want it to stop! I want it to stop!” Kendra sobbed.

“We’ll make it stop, Kendra, we’ll make it stop. Now, how many girls were there?”

“F-five. There were five. They were pretty, and young. One of them, Coby, knew Buffy, and kept hoping she would come to save her ag-gain,” Kendra sobbed. “She never did. Not even the Slayer can save everyone. Mr. Zabuto told me that, but I never believed it. The Slayer is Chosen, the one girl, and the bulwark against the Darkness…”

“I know, shhh, I know. But that’s the problem see, how can one girl defend the entire world? Everybody? All anybody can hope to do, even a Slayer, is the best they can.”

“Why couldn’t she save them? Why did they have to die? Why did Alison have to die? And Kylie? And Winona? Why?”

“I don’t know sweetie, I don’t know. Just cry, just let it all out.”

“Did Mr. Zabuto really take me from my parents? Or did they give me up? Did they love me? Or were they glad to be r-rid of me?” Kendra sobbed.

“I don’t know dear, but that we can find out. Shhhh, shhh…”

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“So this is San Francisco, huh? Well, now I can say I’ve been.” Buffy looked around the dark city, noting the lights of the shops and the streets as the hired cars, driven by the bodyguards, made their smooth way through the hilly city by the bay. “Any good shops around here?”

Joyce smiled as she hugged the still trembling Kendra closer. The child had finally cried herself to sleep, but she was still very emotional which apparently, due to her training, she saw as flaw. Joyce had promised herself to have some serious words with Sam Zabuto about how he'd raised the girl. “Many of them, as you can see. But I fear you won't have much of a chance to see them or visit them. We do have to be back by Monday and I don't know how long the Cleansing Ritual will take.”

Buffy pouted. “Not even a teensy-weensy tiny little minute?”

“Not until the ritual is over, no. Or unless Aunt Penny says it’s alright.”

Buffy sighed. “Oh, that so totally is not fair! First time in San Francisco and not allowed to shop! This is almost as bad as Aunt Arlene dragging us off to all those boring museums instead of the glorious Chicago Mile.”

“Buffy, shopping is very secondary to our main purpose here. Later we can come back here and look at shops,” Joyce assured her. “Apparently this is one of the main stomping grounds of the Warrens, and part of our destiny lies here, so we may as well get to know the city.”

“Oh, okay,” Buffy perked up. “Can I take Kendra shopping back home? Or in LA? I mean, she has no wardrobe and she totally needs one. And no offense to Aunt Clarice, but what she bought for Kendra so totally is not what she needs to be cool.”

“I have no need to be cool,” Kendra stated. “As a matter of fact I would much favour a coat; the air here is quite chilly.”    

Buffy blinked. “Tell me that was a joke. Please tell me you're pulling my leg?” she almost begged.

“Pulling your leg? No, I assure you that I'm feeling quite cold. You yourself are wearing a coat, why then do you think that me wanting one is a jest?” Kendra asked confused.

Buffy groaned. “Oh man, you so need my help. Mom, tell me we can keep her and make her into a real girl?”

Joyce grinned. “I think so. I think socializing is probably going to resolve a lot of her problems.”

“I do not have problems,” Kendra declared, nestling herself deeper into Joyce's hug. Then she shivered. “Slayers can not allow themselves to be distracted from their calling for anything, certainly not mere personal problems.”

Joyce lifted an eyebrow as Buffy laughed. “Yeah, right. Look, I'm the Slayer. I also like to have some sort of fun in life. And I’ve got plenty of problems.”

“You can say that again,” Joyce teased.

“Mom! I didn’t mean it like that and you totally know it!” Buffy glared.

Joyce cleared her throat. “Remind me to make certain the cabin crew lock up the coffee next time we fly. I can't imagine what Willow's like right now.”

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Willow jumped out of the car, face flushed and eyes wide, squealing at the sight before her. “Oh! It's wonderful!” she gushed, jumping up and down. “When was it built? Was it damaged in one of the earthquakes? Does it ever flood? Who's the architect? Is there one?”

“Willow, breathe.” Joyce had gotten out of her own car and took in her daughter's antics with amusement. She then cast an apologetic glance at Arlene, who merely smiled.

The door at the top of the path opened and Phoebe grinned down at them. “Good evening! Welcome all. Want to come inside?”

There was a rush of footsteps as Dawn and Kit galloped up the steps. “AUNT PENNY! We're here!”

Penelope stepped out from behind Prue and grinned. “I had actually  noticed and I’m fairly sure that everybody in a five mile radius did, too.”

The girls blushed. “Sorry,” Kit whispered.

Penelope's grin widened into a smile. “Don't worry Kit, they're used to some noise. Now come here and let me look at you.”

Kit and Dawn obediently stepped forward to be inspected and hugged. The rest of the family took the steps rather more sedately and arrived at the door. Prue and Piper had come from the dining room and the kitchen respectively.

“Hello all. This is Kendra. She's a potential Slayer from Jamaica and ran away because someone attacked her Watcher.” Joyce gave Kendra a shoulder hug.

Penelope noted the tentative way in which the girl leaned into it, yet the eagerness at the same time. She smiled gently. “Welcome to our home, Kendra.”

Kendra looked as if she was about to curtsy, but finally settled for a handshake. “It is a pleasure to meet you and I am honoured by your hospitality.”

“Most welcome, These are my granddaughters, Prue, Piper and Phoebe.”

Kendra shook hands again, a little uneasily. Joyce then waved Willow forward and gestured at the camera on her shoulder. “This is Rowan. We'll set up a computer for her as soon as possible.”

“Heya.” Rowan’s voice came from the mini speaker on Willow’s other shoulder.

“Good to meet you. Yeah, we heard and we got in the industrial strength cable internet as soon as we did. And Phoebe has been chatting with boys ever since we got it,” Prue teased.

Phoebe sniffed. “And you haven't? I'm not the one who bookmarked half a dozen singles sites.”

Prue looked confused. Phoebe looked at Piper, who denied her knowledge with a shake of her head. The girls then turned to Penelope with shocked looks. “Grams?” Prue asked diffidently and with a slightly horrified expression on her face.

Penelope shrugged. “I’ve got a big bed. I get lonely.”

Prue made a gargling noise. Piper groaned. Phoebe hid her face in her hands and Xander went an interesting shade of puce, Willow and Buffy looked about ready to throw up and Evy burrowed into her mother. Amy shuddered and glared at her father, who had just picked up Clarice’s hand.

Willow shook herself and then started babbling a mile a minute, demanding to know every possible detail about the construction and history of what she termed the ‘historic family seat of the Warrens.’

Piper took one look at the hyper Willow and then at Joyce. “Coffee?”

Joyce nodded ruefully. “Coffee. I was looking after Kendra and didn’t think to warn Arlene or another responsible adult. She and Buffy both got into the espresso packets. Apparently Slayer metabolism gets hyper and babbly on caffeine as much as Willow metabolism. I assume that Slayer metabolism deals with it faster though, Buffy has calmed down a lot already.”

Piper grinned. “Well, at any rate, we've got a small buffet set up in the dining room...”

Piper looked on rather bemused as a horde of ravenous teens stampeded past her on the way to food, closely followed by Kit and Dawn. Only Kendra held back, even Evy had hurried past her after a shy nod and a hug.

Phoebe started to giggle. “Told you so.”

Piper merely shook her head. “We were never that bad.”

Penelope let out a hoot of derisive laughter. “Yes, you were. Now if you’ll excuse me, I've got to drag my reluctant sister inside. You all go eat.”

Cecelia was standing at the foot of the stairs and looking around, her eyes misty with unshed tears. James was beside her, waiting calmly. Penelope walked down the stairs and smiled. She put her arms around Cecelia and whispered. “Welcome home, baby sister.”

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Food had been eaten, or in the case of the teens, inhaled. When Penelope led the group down the stairs Cecelia let out a sigh and James suddenly looked ten years younger. “What a wonderful feeling...”

Penelope smiled. “Isn't it? We had a dickens of a time digging this hole, but I think we did rather well.”

Patrick leaned over the rough hole in the concrete floor. “It can do with a little edging. I’ll get some supplies in tomorrow and fin-” He cleared his throat as he saw Clarice's expression. “On second thought, I'll take Amy and 'Ris sight seeing.”

Amy grinned at Clarice and then sobered again.

Penelope gestured at the soft glow that emanated from the pit. “At any rate, the ceremony has to be done around the property and the final one requires all of us to be here. And since wandering around the garden chanting at this time of night is bound to get the neighbors complaining, I suggest we break up for tonight and meet again tomorrow morning.”

“Umm... Not too early?” Buffy asked hopefully after exchanging looks with the other teens.

“Just after dawn should be fine.” Penelope assured her. “Not early at all.”

“Dawn?” Buffy whispered, shocked. Xander whimpered. Willow gulped.

Joyce rolled her eyes. “Aunt Penny, stop teasing my children. “We'll be here at ten-thirty.”

Penelope grinned. “That will be fine. Better get your brood to bed; otherwise they'll still barely be able to open their eyes.”

Buffy glared at her great aunt. “That was mean!”

Penny chuckled. “Yes. But it never ceases to amaze me that teens will fight to stay up until dawn, but fight even harder to avoid getting up at that time.”

Buffy stomped up the stairs, followed by Willow and Xander. Joyce grinned. “We’ll head for the hotel. We’ll be back tomorrow.”

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Buffy was rather quiet during the drive from the Ritz Carlton Hotel to the Manor, as were all the teens. She scooted over to sit next to her mother in the large black BMW that had been rented at a secure car facility and looked at her, biting her lip. “Mom? What happens today? Will I be able to do magic? And will I end up like that girl, Jehanne de Domrémy?.”

Joyce smiled, noting again that when Buffy didn’t want to project ‘California ditz’ her memory of, and pronunciation, of names was excellent. “We don’t think so dear. The Nexus might break through your latency, but your Slayer powers may interfere. But we will certainly not allow the Council to treat you the way they did Jehanne.”

Kendra looked up from where her head was resting against Joyce’s shoulder. “What did the Council do to Jehanne?”

“She was sold to the English, and burned at the stake. She’s normally called Joan of Arc,” Joyce explained. “She was an earth witch, a channeler. Apparently the combination of being a witch and a Slayer is considered a dangerous one by the Council, sort of a double destiny, and according to the Council it interfered a little bit too much with affairs outside of the defeat of demons. So they killed her Watcher, the Primus, and handed her over to her enemies.”

“The Council did that? But it was a long time ago!”

“A few weeks ago they kidnapped a Potential and tortured her. They killed her foster mother. Her foster father was the man who came after Mr. Zabuto. Since then he’s killed almost the entire Council of Thirteen. The only reason Mr. Zabuto is still alive is that he was willing to die for you. All the others were too selfish to care about their potentials.” Joyce sighed. “I’m sorry Kendra, but they’re just not very nice people. You can ask Dr. Giles about them when we’re back in Sunnydale.”

“Why is he not here to direct his Slayer?” Kendra asked her gaze on Buffy.

Buffy snorted. “I don’t take direction well, and this is a family thing. I like Giles, and Mom has sorta adopted Miss Calendar, but I don’t think they oughta be here. Besides, someone has to help Angel guard the Hellmouth. And Jenny totally wanted to have him for herself this weekend.”

“Buffy!” Joyce warned. “Behave.”

Buffy grinned. “Behave like Jenny? I mean, I think Willow is looking at her to set an example for how she deals with Dave. And you and Simon aren’t shy either. What’s a girl to think?”

“That you’re fifteen years old and no matter how exciting the thought of sex is, if you go too far too soon there will be a lot of yard work in your future?” Joyce suggested mildly.

Buffy stuck out her tongue. “You take all the fun out of it.”

“For now, dear. Once you get older I’ll regretfully give in.”

Buffy winced. “Ugh. Now I’ve got images of you and Simon. Can you, like, not mention sex and older in the same sentence?”

“I didn’t. You did.” Suddenly, Joyce winced. “Oh Lord, Mom and Dad had the Wedding Suite! Oh! BUFFY!”

Buffy shuddered. “Truce?”

Joyce nodded, shuddering as well. “Truce.”  

Kendra looked from one Summers woman to the other in bemusement.

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Matt Duncan smiled at the girl lying on the bed, looking feverish. “Now, Miss Chase-”

“You know, if I’m gonna do this I don’t wanna be Miss Chase anymore,” Cordelia shivered. “Not that I think it’ll work.”

Matt looked at the report he’d typed on his laptop and then at the frightened girl. He’d seen her, even spoken to her while investigating the Rosenberg and Harris cases. She’d been the only one who’d seen that Xander had been abused, or at least the only one who admitted to it. He’d seen her around the Kendall home when he’d come to inquire into the Holburn girl. And both times he’d failed to see the signs.

“It will work,” Matt assured her.

“Ha. My father will call the Governor, and the mayor and lots of friends he has on the bench. And then I’ll get sent home and I’ll be totally dead,” Cordelia argued in a hopeless monotone.

“Cordelia, I assure you that no matter how powerful your father is, we will keep you safe,” Matt tried again.

Cordelia merely looked at her feet, hidden under the duvet. “At least I’ll have a few good days before I disappear mysteriously.”

Matt shook his head and rose, realizing that whatever he said, Cordelia was convinced her father would manage to retain or regain custody of her or, even worse, have her illegally ‘disposed of’. He closed his laptop and put it away, smiled and nodded at the frightened girl and left the room. Downstairs he saw Paige talking to Mrs. Kendall and Harmony, drinking tea and joined them.

“Mrs. Kendall? How powerful is Victor Chase?”

Eliza pursed her lips. “Inside Sunnydale? Very. I must admit that the only reason I’m willing to call you is that Sunnydale Social Services are now under direct State control and that I know someone who will be willing to help.”

Matt’s eyes narrowed. “How long have you really known? About Cordelia being abused, I mean.”

Eliza smiled bitterly. “The 2nd of August 1986, the first day Harmony brought Cordelia home to play. Would you like to see the letters I sent to the Social Services, including the State one? Don’t you dare blame this on me, Mr. Duncan. And you’d better keep that girl safely out of his hands or…”

Matthew Duncan looked at Paige who was glaring at him, he nodded apologetically. “I’m sorry. I just…”

“You care. It makes you angry. Mom, can I go see Cordy now?” Harmony was almost whining.

Eliza nodded. “Go and see if you can cheer her up a little. She’ll need it. And tell her I’ll be up in an hour and if she’s still puking we are going to the Clinic.”

“Clinic? Doesn’t she have a family doctor?”

“Pearly is incompetent. He’s also easily bullied, and a drunk. I always wondered why he wasn’t censured or had his license revoked. Now I’m beginning to think that he was being protected,” Eliza’s expression was angry. “Which should give you an indication of the power of Victor Chase.”

“I see. And the Clinic?”

“Meier Free Clinic, they’ve got a good female doctor. Which reminds me I still have to call Joyce.”

Matt’s eyebrows rose. “Ms. Summers?”

“Yes. Simon may not like Cordelia very much, but he likes Victor even less and he’ll do his best to help her.” Eliza smiled at Matt. “You may remember Dawn and the Twins are in the same grade.”

“Oh, yes of course, and with everything that went on with Kit, yes,” Matt nodded.

Paige giggled. “Sorry, I just remembered talking to them. The whole twin-speak thing, I thought that was just a myth.”

Eliza snorted. “I wish. They can even do it through a closed door, I think.”

Matt smiled. He too, remembered his conversation with the twins. “At any rate, I will do my utmost to get, and keep, Cordelia out of her parent’s hands.”

There was a yodel from upstairs. “MOM!! CAN CORDELIA BE, LIKE, MY SISTER?”

Followed by an anguished “HARMONY!” followed by the sound of retching.

Eliza shook her head, half amused, half worried. “I might take her to the clinic earlier. That doesn’t sound good.”

Matt smiled. “No. And yes. I take you’re going to fulfill Harmony’s wish?”

“Hopefully. Marcus said he needed to think about it.”

Matt looked slightly disappointed. “Ah, I see.”

Eliza’s smile was a bit sad. “It’s a big step, taking in a foster child.”

“True, it is,” Matt smiled and rose. “Well, we’ll leave and get the ball running.”

“Thank you.”

“No, Mrs. Kendall. Thank you.”

End Note:

A large part of the discussion on the nature of magic, magical strength and such was inspired by DeacBlue’s explanation of Willow to Buffy in Back to the Beginning, chapter 6. Thanks to him for letting me use this.

 
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