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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)vidiconFR1598780,0851591496402,06728 May 115 Jul 14No

Of Many Minds

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?%

Eighty recommendations. (And 699 reviews…) Wow. Thanks everyone! Thanks to my most recent, 80th recommender, applestop

71 Of many minds

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Friday December 1st 1995, 1630 Revello Drive, after school

Willow sat on the couch, looking guilty, with Jenny beside her and a very nervous looking Dave as well. Rowan looked on from her screen, a smug, slightly superior look on her face.

Joyce came in and crossed her arms, looking at the group. “Dave, I take it your parents spoke with you already?”

“Yes, Ms. Summers,” Dave replied meekly.

“Good. I’ll call her later to coordinate punishments,” Joyce noted.

Dave winced. “Ms. Summers, it wasn’t like that. I - we, we just saw the possibilities.”

“What possibilities? How to build your own Misogynistic Murderbot? Maybe market a nice do it yourself kit?” Joyce asked, sceptically.

“Mom!” Willow voiced her annoyance. “No! We can reverse engineer Ted and build a body for Rowan!”

Joyce fumbled for a chair and looked at the computer screen, then at Jenny. “Would that really work?” she asked in a stunned voice.

“Yeah, I think so,” Jenny admitted. “That’s what got us so distracted. You see, Ted wasn’t self contained, his brain, if you will, stands in that basement of his house, with a partially automated repair facility-”

“You took your sisters into that place?” Joyce interrupted her in a dark, angry voice.

“No! I mean yes, I mean, I went there alone... Oh shit, I’m in trouble,” Jenny rattled, wilting under Joyce’s glare as she revealed her illicit visit.

“You’re just very lucky you’re too old to be grounded,” Joyce told her severely.

Rowan smirked from the screen, before giggling and then babbling. “WhatdoesGransay?Nooneisevertoooldtobespanked?”

Joyce flushed. “Yes, errr, I think you’ll find that she had a different context in mind, Rowan.”

Rowan blinked, her eyes then widened and she looked at Willow, who was looking shell shocked. “EEEEEEWWWWWWW!!!!!” The girls exclaimed.

Dave looked mildly ill and Jenny was red as a beet, though her mouth was quirking as well.

Joyce shook her head. “That’s neither here nor there, what I want to know is if you checked this with any of your father’s science people, or Jon.”

“Grandpa Jon? Why him?” Willow asked curiously.

Joyce snorted. “Because he’s old enough to have seen more weird things than anyone else. Well?”

“No,nothinglikethat,” Rowan babbled, sounding sheepish. “AfterIhackedDARPAandNASAand-”

Willow made violent cut off movements with her hands and Dave closed his eyes in resignation.

Joyce turned to the pair. “Did you two put her up to hacking like that?” she asked in a deceptively mild voice.

Willow squeaked. “No, Mom! I swear.”

“Rowan? You are aware of the no hacking without permission rule? Did Jenny give you permission to hack DARPA?” Joyce asked, still mildly.

“Nope.Andwhatareyagonnadoaboutitcutoffmyinternetaccess?” Rowan giggled.

Joyce blinked. Then she turned to the others, rather worried. “Heavens, what’s wrong with her? She sounds like Willow on caffeine.”

Willow flushed. “Errr…”

Joyce groaned. “Willow, what did you do?”

Willow bit her lip. “We went by the Espresso Pump and Dave got me a hot Choc and we talked about Caf-Pows. She wanted one. So I, errr, programmed the recipe into a database, and gave her a Mini-Shot...”

“Caf-Pows? 100% caffeinated sugar? The ones you’re banned from on pain of spanking and grounding and chores? Those Caf-Pows?” Joyce asked mildly.

“Yes,” Willow whispered, eyes wide.

“And why did you think it a good idea to give your identical twin sister one of those?” Joyce’s voice was still mild.

“She’s in a computer! She shouldn’t be affected!” Willow tried.

“I type in hug, she gets hugged,” Joyce pointed out. “Rowan’s senses are as much about magic as technology.”

“NINETHOUSANDBOTTLESOFBEERONTHEWALL!!” Rowan sang loudly, while enthusiastically head-banging in the background.

Willow’s shoulders slumped. “It was only one…”

“Can we check how many she had since you gave her that one?” Joyce gave the bouncing girl on the screen a wry look.

Willow blinked, her eyes opening even wider. “Oh, fudge! She wouldn’t have!”

Joyce sighed. “Just like you wouldn’t go back for a refill?”

Willow flushed, looking sheepish. “Okay, she would. I’ll check how much she had.”

Willow tapped in a few commands on the desktop in the corner and a list came up. Her eyes widened “Oh, sugar! She had four Big Mugs! Four!”

Joyce sighed and sat beside Willow. Rowan was almost head-banging on the screen, jumping around and singing the theme from Rocky, at double speed in a high pitched voice, taking gulps from yet another Big Mug.

“Oh man, what do we do now?” Willow bit her lip.

Jenny rose to stand behind the two and shook her head in bemusement. “She’s completely stoned out of her gourd.”

Joyce drew the keyboard towards her and typed. Rowan is no longer allowed Caf-Pow.

The cup disappeared and Rowan frowned. “HeyIwasdrinkingthat!”

“Was. Never again. And now you’re gonna take a nice, long soothing hot bath,” Joyce told her firmly.

“Don’twanna!Wannaruntotheendoftheworld!” Rowan shouted excitedly.

Joyce lifted an eyebrow and typed, sighing. Drag Rowan to the bath.

Rowan blinked when she noticed she was being dragged, and started to struggle. “Hey!Stopthat!”

“Rowan Davida Meier! Stop that this instant!” Joyce said repressively.

“Leggo!Wannawalkbymyself!” Rowan whined.

Joyce smiled indulgently and typed. Let go of Rowan.

Rowan froze. Her eyes widened in shock. She whimpered. “M-Mom? Mom? I’m sorry!” the girl fell to her knees tears streaming down her face. “Please, please, I’m sorry! Mom? Mommy?”

Willow looked confused and rather frightened. “Mom? What did you do?”

“I just let go so she could climb the stairs…” Joyce’s voice trailed off and she typed frantically. Hug Rowan. Hug Rowan hard.

Rowan’s staccato breathing on the screen calmed almost instantly, but she continued to cry as the translucent blue arms encircled her. Joyce sat back, her face anguished. “Well. Now we know what happens if I stop touching Rowan.”

Willow looked at her sobbing, frightened twin. “Errr… Mom?”

“Yes dear?” Joyce’s eyes were on the scene before her, typing commands into the keyboard.

“You’ve been ‘hugging Rowan’ all this time?” Willow asked tentatively.

“Yes, why?” Joyce still didn’t stop typing soothing words.

“What about, you know, showers?” Willow was looking more than a bit unnerved.

Joyce blinked, and then shrugged. “I’ve no idea, but if Rowan isn’t bothered by it, neither am I.”

“Ick,” Willow wrinkled her nose.

Joyce shook her head, amused. “You go talk to your father, explain this ‘create a body for Rowan’ idea to him and see if he can get some engineers over here to work on it.”

Willow rose. Jenny did the same and Dave moved over to take Willow’s hand. Joyce looked up at them. “And after that I’ll talk with your Father about a suitable punishment for the lot of you.”

Willow and Dave winced. Jenny didn’t look terribly happy either.

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Friday, December 1st 1995, Office of Dr. Marcel Ovrion

Marcel Ovrion sipped his coffee as the girl on the couch looked at her hands. She was small and still rather thin but her hair near her scalp was a glorious auburn and her pale, lightly freckled skin was clear.

He looked at his notes and then took another sip. “Well?”

There was silence. Marcel sighed. “Would you like your mother in here, Evelyn?”

The girl looked up, then down again, a flash of her brown eyes, and then a curtain of hair came down. Marcel sipped his coffee.

“So. Last time we spoke of how you feel about your mother…” Marcel let his voice trail off, hoping for some sort of reaction. He got none.

“Evy?”

No answer. “I realise that talking to a stranger is a difficult thing. But unless you want to talk about these things to your mother, you have little choice but talking to me,” the psychiatrist pointed out gently.

“I never have a choice. I always have to do things people tell me to do! I thought she was gonna be different! Let me do what I wanted!” Evy shouted at him, throwing a pillow.

Marcel caught it. “All children require boundaries, rules, restrictions and explanations. Your boundaries have been constraining you, and now they’ve been released, but you’re not yet free. There are reasons why we have boundaries. You were attacking people. You were quite ready to kill Buffy and that girl, Cordelia. I’d say that a few boundaries were necessary, don’t you?”

Evy had been ready to throw another pillow at him. “What?”

“And of course there’s the fact she feels so terribly guilty about what happened to you that if you told her everything, she might just run off and kill the Rosses, and end up in jail. Which you didn’t want, I believe? And who else is there for you to talk to?”

Evy bit her lip. “Kit. Kit would listen.”

“Yes, she would, wouldn’t she? Why haven’t you told her?” Marcel asked, making a note.

“We hug, we say good morning and good night. We hardly talk,” Evy drew up her knees again.

“I see. Who does Kit talk to?” Marcel made yet another note.

“Mostly Dawn. Aunt Joyce. Xander, sometimes Willow, or Uncle Simon, she talks to me only to ask for the salt or stuff like that,” Evy said, disgruntled.

“And you talk to?”

“Buffy, who’s actually a good listener, Xander, Aunt Clarice, Aunt Joyce. But Mostly Granpa Jon,” Evy grudgingly replied.

“Are you jealous? That she talks to other people?” Marcel asked, pen poised.

“When we were with the Rosses we only had each other. She was there for four months,” Evy drew her feet onto the couch and leaned her cheek against her knees. “I didn’t trust her for the first month; I thought she would tattle to the triplets, or to the Rosses. She never told on me. So after a month, we talked a little.”

“What did you talk about?” Marcel inquired.

“Stuff. School. The Triplets. What they made us do. Who was going to do what chores. You know, stuff,” Evy mumbled into her knees.

“Did you ever tell her your dreams? Hopes? The things you wanted in life?” the psychiatrist probed gently.

“N-no. We couldn’t really. The Triplets would have found out,” Evy answered.

“Was there anybody at school you could talk to? That Kit could talk to?”

“No one knew who I was at school, most people ignored Kit for being bad,” Evy replied, her voice flat. “There was just her and me.”

“I see. And before that?”

“J-just me. And just her, no-one else,” Evy's voice was choked.

“And when she went to live with her mother? What happened then?”

“I visited sometimes, but mostly I had to be home to cook and do the chores. So I was alone. And the Triplets wanted more help and that I did more and then... Then one day she wasn't there.” Evy bit her lip.

“How did you feel when you realised they were gone? That Kit was gone?”

Evy whimpered at the memory. “I was frightened. I-I didn’t know anyone else. Kit was gone, who was gonna love me?”

“What did you think about Kit then? How did you feel about her?”

Evy remained silent except for a sob. “Evy? Please answer the question.”

“I HATED HER! Okay? I hated her. I hated her so much for leaving, for not saying she was leaving, for not being there, for not loving me anymore! We swore to each other that we would be there for the other, we swore it...” Evy sobbed. “B-but I never noticed... She never told me about what happened to her mom. I-I came to her home, she was there alone, I never realised, I never asked...”

“So what did you talk about?”

“School. W-what it would be like to run away from home, what you would need... I never, I never wondered, if she and her mom got along, why she would want to talk about that... And then... she was gone,” Evy sobbed.

“And there was no one there to talk to you and remind you that you existed, that you were there,” Marcel concluded. “Why didn't she tell you her mother was gone? That she was alone?”

“The Triplets. They would have known, would have told their parents to bring her back. They liked making her do things for them. Liked making her do their homework. She had to scrub their toilet with a toothbrush,” Evy answered with a shudder.

“I see. Evy, are you still angry at Kit? For leaving you alone?”

Evy sat still for two or three minutes and Marcel waited patiently until the girl answered. “I hated her. I hated her so much. And then... Mom, Mom would be angry if I hated Kit, and Aunt Joyce and then I found out what had happened to her Mom, and I remembered the Triplets and... I hate her and I love her and I don't know!”  

Marcel looked at the sobbing girl and rose, opened the door to the waiting area and beckoned to the auburn haired woman who was pacing up and down the room like an upright tiger.

“She needs you. I need to make a phone call,” Marcel told Arlene.

Arlene glared at the man. “What’s so important you can’t be there?” 

“I need to call Simon. I need to know what the effects of long term mental intrusion, mind control and domination are on an untrained witch, and possibly see what knowledge he has on how it would affect her combined with numerous other forms of degradation,” Marcel whispered. “And I need to ask him to begin an investigation on those three Ross boys, sooner rather than later.”

Arlene paled and closed her eyes. “Sorry. I’m just worried. Wait,” she opened her purse and scrabbled around in it, withdrew an address book and handed it to Marcel. “Call my Aunt. Penelope Halliwell, she’s a-”

“Psychologist, yes, I know. Buffy mentioned her and I looked her up in the directory of the AACP. She hasn’t practiced in a few years, but she and her husband did interesting work in the Sixties. She’s a witch, I understand?” Marcel looked at the number, holding the booklet open on his notepad and copying it down.

“Yes, I’ll talk later, I need to get to Evy,” Arlene answered curtly, before striding into the treatment room.

Marcel placed the address book on his secretary’s desk and went into a side office to place his call.

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Friday, December 1st 1995 Rupert Giles’ Apartment,

The phone rang and Jenny, after a look at the kitchen, where Rupert was puttering about, “Should I get that?” she called out.

“Please do, it’s probably your mother, calling to tell you to report for weeding the garden,” Giles teased.

Jenny stuck out her tongue. “She told me I’m too old to be punished by her.”

Giles lifted an eyebrow and grinned. “Who did she suggest punish you then?”

“RUPERT!” Jenny glared and leaned over to pick up the ringing phone from the desk next to the couch.

“Rupert Giles’ apartment, this is Jenny Calendar.”

“Ah… is Dr. Giles there?” An unknown male voice asked.

“Yes, he is; who is this please?” Jenny asked

“Travers, Quentin Travers,” the polite British voice responded.

“Ru! A Mr. Travers for you,” Jenny called. “Want me to finish that?”

Giles placed a slice of bacon on the dish he was preparing and washed his hands. “Please, Jenny, and thanks,” he took the phone from her and rather diffidently spoke into the horn.

“Rupert Giles speaking.”

“Can you speak freely?” came the blunt question.

“Yes, sir. Miss Calendar is fully conversant with the topics on hand,” Rupert answered truthfully.

“And she’s not a demonic creature out to breed or eat parts of your anatomy? Remarkable,” Travers remarked.

Giles flushed. “Really, sir!”

Jenny, who had not gotten out of earshot yet, had heard Travers’ remark and grinned, “Oh, but I do want to eat parts of your anatomy, Ru, just not permanently…” she purred in a whisper.

Giles spluttered and blushed. “Jenny!” he hissed.

“Ah, did the young lady just make some pertinent remark, Rupert?” Travers asked.

“N-nothing to bother you with sir,” Giles responded as Jenny walked into the kitchen with a little extra sway to her hips.

“Ah, and here I thought she was offering to perform fellatio,” Travers mused. “I must be getting old as well as deaf.”

Giles spluttered again. The spluttering noise became a gargle that ended in a whimper.

Jenny turned around at the noise, saw Giles expression and cringed. “He heard?” She mouthed and flushed bright red when Giles nodded.

“Does she know, Dr. Giles?” Travers asked formally.

“Yes sir, like I said she is fully aware,” Giles responded, equally formally.

“I see. And she’s not run for the horizon yet?” Travers sounded impressed.

“She’s been aware for most of her life,” Giles rather sadly responded.

“Very well. I’m calling to fill you in on the latest news. I’ve been elected Augustus and the Council has been reformed, as you know. And in that capacity I’ve been in contact with all the remaining Watchers,” Travers explained. “One of those Watchers is Dr. Diana Dormer. Some time ago she became aware of the way that one of our then colleagues was abusing a Potential and rescued her. I’ll be sending the pertinent information tomorrow, but I thought you might want to tell Dr. Meier that Miss Lehane is alive and doing as well as might be expected.”

“Dear Lord. Errr, he might want to contact her…” Giles noted.

“I’ll send you her contact information. We’ve got no objection, as long as he does not upset the girl. Diana would have my balls,” Travers replied dryly. “She’s very protective of Miss Lehane.”

Giles grinned. “He’ll understand that. Very good. I’ll tell him.”

“Excellent. Well then, all that remains is for me to wish you a very good night. Give my regards to your lady, Rupert,” Travers audibly smirked.

Giles sighed and hung up. “Bloody annoying self-satisfied old bastards.”

Jenny grinned. “Unlike bloody annoying self-satisfied young bastards?” she teased.

“I‘ll have you know that my parents were quite decently married when I was born,” Giles countered.

“Ah. So Miranda-”

Jenny squealed as Giles sprang up and started to tickle her.

“Dreadful slander!” He growled out. “All my siblings were conceived within wedlock!”

“Uncle! Uncle!” Jenny cried out, giggling.

“And Uncle Sebastian as well!” Giles mock-growled, as she tickled her into submission, and then kissed her. It was some time before they managed to finish dinner.

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Saturday, December 2nd Revello Drive

Kit scowled as Cecilia ran hand over her brow and she felt the little niggle in her brain. Clarice was there as well, eyes closed, face tranquil.

Then Kit’s feet started to itch and she began to giggle when she felt feather light touches on her sides and arms. “That tickles,” Kit complained.

“Sorry, dear. I’m afraid that rooting around in your skull tends to do things like that,” Cecilia looked at Danielle and Penelope who were sitting in the corner. “What do you think?”

“Nothing. She’s completely normal, not a single thing that shouldn’t be there,” Danielle stated.

Penelope looked thoughtful. “It seemed to me there was something there, but I couldn’t exactly sense what…”

Danielle grinned. “Protective ward, I could sense it in Tara Beckforth as well and Mary explained. It’s something Joyce does, that Mothers do. I’d not classify it as dangerous.”

“Mother ward? Yes, that sounds about right. But it’s rather more nebulous than I was expecting from that…” Penelope mused.

Cecilia sighed. “Joyce never got training as a witch, remember? So most of her Workings are on an instinctive level.”

“Yes, we’ll need to give her some training,” Penelope nodded.

 “I think it might be best if one of you did that. I don’t think she trusts me to teach her what she needs,” Cecilia smiled sadly.

Penelope tsked. “We’ll teach her together. Hmm, maybe we should ask Mary to come over again. There are some things only someone with a similar power can teach after all.”

Danielle nodded. “Yes. Now Kit, how are you feeling?”

Kit looked thoughtful. “The soles of my feet itch, but otherwise I’m OK.”

“Excellent. Well, we’ll go and see Evy then. Come on, ladies,” Danielle waved at the girl and led the older women out. After a minute or so of scratching the soles of her feet, wincing slightly at the weird feeling that always induced, Kit bounced off the bed and headed downstairs. Aunt Joyce had promised to make her cocoa and sit with her. That would assuage the guilt over not caring enough for Evy, and the fear that something was really wrong with the first sister she’d ever had.

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Evy looked at the three formidable old witches and then at her mother. Arlene looked pale and worried. More worried than when she’d had the vision of Evy being kidnapped. She looked terrified.

Penelope smiled encouragingly and gestured at the bed. “Please lie down, Evy.”

Evy bit her lip. “Will it hurt?”

“I honestly don’t think it will. Kit said it tickled. But the number of people who’ve dealt with long time mental control and possession is very small,” Penelope answered.

“Uncle Simon helped Uncle Patrick,” Evy pointed out.  

The four women exchanged glances. This was the first time that Evy had acknowledged Patrick and Simon in this way.

“Yes, he did. And if necessary, he will help you. But Uncle Simon prefers not to root about in the mind of his daughters and nieces and teenage girls in general,” Danielle smiled. “You do catch the odd glimpse of memories and thoughts while looking at a mindscape and Uncle Simon doesn’t think he should catch yours.”

Evy nodded. “I can understand that. Okay,” she took a deep breath and lay down on the bed. It was obvious from her posture that she was tense, frightened, but unwilling to show it.

Penelope took a step forward and let her hand hover over Evy’s head, whispering a few words. After a few minutes she frowned. “Very odd… Danielle? Could you come over here?”

Danielle came over and repeated Penelope’s actions. “Goddess preserve us…” she whispered.

Arlene growled. “Will you stop with the mysterious exclamations and tell us what’s wrong?”

Danielle and Penelope looked at Cecilia. “Sorry, Cece, we’ll need your opinion again after all.”

“Ah. Very well. I do apologize, Evy,” Cecilia joined her sister and friend and repeated their words and gestures. Her face was grave when she looked up at Arlene and then down at Evy. “We’re going to need Simon for this. And Lilith as well.”

“Will someone tell us what’s wrong?” Arlene demanded, harshly, dropping to sit next to Evy.

Penelope looked at the other older witches and spoke. “Evy, you have to understand that there are a lot of things we can do, so you’re not to worry about this, Okay?”

Evy nodded, but her eyes were wide and she was as pale as a ghost.

Penelope continued. “Evy’s mind is full of charms and influences. I think we didn’t notice them before because of the particular way they are layered and constructed. They were melded in with the background magic of the Hellmouth, very skilfully. We removed the obvious and juvenile enchantments placed by the Ross boys, but this… this is a master’s work.”

Arlene had gone very pale. “C-can you undo them?”

Penelope shrugged, rather helplessly. “Arlene, I know of only one true mind mage skilled enough to do this. And that’s Simon. And whoever placed these enchantments was a lot more powerful than Simon. Not to mention a lot darker, Simon would never do anything like this.”

Arlene swallowed heavily and hugged Evy close. “So nothing can be done?”

Danielle smiled. “What did Penelope start with? There are many things we could do, but Simon is better at mindwork, so first he’ll have to look. He’s got a unique perspective on things like this. And with the power of the Node, he’s very likely to be able to help,” she soothed. “He’s really very good with mind magics, as he showed with Patrick and me.”

Arlene looked from one older witch to the next and finally nodded. “I’ll go talk to him. No, we will,” she hugged Evy, who was glaring at the wall.

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Arlene growled every time Evy whimpered. She looked at the strain on Simon’s face and did not interfere, but her displeasure was clear to everybody. Simon’s hand was on Evy’s forehead, his eyes boring into her, forcing her to face him no matter how much the girl squirmed to get away. Then Evy’s eyes fell shut and in seconds she was asleep.

Finally Simon carefully took his hand off Evy’s brow so as not to waken the girl. Arlene did not really need to ask how bad it was. Simon’s face was haggard and grey.

“You put her to sleep,” Arlene stated looking at her daughter. “Why?”

Simon shivered and Joyce who’d been watching walked over to him and put her hand on his shoulders, letting him lean back into her.

Simon grimaced. “I placed a minor block to help her forget what I saw and did. Arlene, I’m sorry but I can’t help her.” 

Arlene’s eyes narrowed. “Why not? You’re supposed to be the very best at this in the entire Concordat, how the hell can you not help?”

Simon rose from Evy’s bed, groaning. “I’ll explain upstairs. Don’t worry, Evy won’t wake for another hour at the very least.”

Simon walked up the stairs, carefully, as if he was decades older than he was and suddenly Arlene remembered a conversation she’d overheard, of exactly how Simon had become so good at mental magics. She met Joyce’s eyes and saw the haunted, helpless look in them and wondered exactly how much Simon had told her sister about his childhood.

They sat in the dining room and Simon sipped very strong black coffee. “The spells were set by a very adept magic user; very few people could place enchantments like that. I might, had I the power, but I can’t think of anybody else.”

Danielle nodded thoughtfully. “So it has to be a rogue, who do we know who can do spells like that?”

“Vail could, but he’s dead, my father ripped his lungs out,” Simon noted absently. “There might be a focus user who could, Grindelwald, or the idiot who called himself Voldemort, but neither would dare come to the US and face a Concordat merge. Not to mention one is in jail and the other is dead. So the options are limited.”

“Ripped his lungs out? Cyvus Vail?” Penelope swallowed. “Ah. I always wondered what happened to him.”

Cecilia nodded, slightly pale herself. “Could it have been Pulchritudia Black?”

“No, it felt like a man. But it’s more than that. Whoever did this is alive and he’s using the Ross boys as his booster stations. So we can’t do anything until we decide what to do about them,” Simon shrugged helplessly.

“Wait, you knew that they were doing things to Evy and you haven’t dealt with them?” Arlene almost rose from her chair but Cecilia pushed her down again.

“Simon did a cursory examination of Evy when she first came in and it showed some minor glamours which he told us about and then removed. They were the sort of thing that magical siblings might do to each other, if unsupervised,” James supplied, thoughtfully.

“Really? And why wasn’t I told?” Arlene argued.

“You were. We told you there was nothing to worry about, and you would have if we had told you, and you were worried enough,” James still looked thoughtful.

“Oh? Oh, you think you can decide what’s best for me and Evy? You think it’s normal for siblings to try and control each other through magic?” Arlene bristled.

Cecilia started to laugh, as did Penelope.  It was Cecilia who spoke. “Yes, quite normal, and usually they do it quite unconsciously. So when you did it to Joyce and Charlotte, I merely performed the Ritual of Siblings and told you not to use magic on your sisters. You were five, I recall.”

Arlene blinked. “W-what?”

“Children can be quite cruel to their siblings and other children,” Cecilia reminded her daughter. “And often an enraged reaction will not help them. So Penelope and I dealt with the Ross children in a calm and reasonable manner, putting a minor spell on them to prevent them inadvertently controlling anybody, including their parents. I believe they showed a considerable improvement in behaviour soon after,” Cecilia noted with satisfaction. “It would’ve worked better if a parent could’ve done it, but neither of them has the ability or the requisite belief in magic. And we weren’t going to let you do it, you were about ready to drink their blood and that would not have gone down well.”

Arlene blinked. “You were managing me?” 

James nodded placidly. “Yes, we were. It may interest you to know that the Rosses seem to be recovering and that the loss of Marcie, or Evy hit them quite hard. They loved her very much until their minds were altered.”

Arlene winced. “Oh. Great. And I suppose they want to see her now?”

James shook his head thoughtfully. “They actually had no memory of you and Simon visiting them. Or signing away the custody over Marcie. They think that what they signed was a set of papers officially identifying a body found as Marcie.”

Arlene blinked. “Oh. I-I never realised that. Who do you think did it?”

“I don’t know, but from what we know now I’d say the same person who’s using the Ross triplets to affect Evy,” Cecilia looked thoughtfully at her daughter. “I’m beginning to think that moving to Colorado Springs will be good for you and her for various reasons.”

Arlene looked ready to protest and then her shoulders slumped. “Evy’s not going to be happy.”

James nodded in agreement. “She’ll understand better when we explain the reasons to her. She may not accept it completely, but she’s a very intelligent girl and quite able to realize that sometimes things have to be done, no matter that we don’t like them.” 

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“…And so we think it best that you and your mother move to Colorado Springs as soon as possible,” Cecilia concluded.

Evy looked rebellious and angry. “Don’t wanna! I wanna stay here and find who did this stuff to me!”

Cecilia raised an eyebrow. “If there ever was any doubt that you were a member of this family you just removed it completely.”

Arlene smirked at Evy and gave her a hug. “The Johnson women’s way, get angry and get even.” 

James sighed. “Well, yes. But until we find out who did this I agree with your grandmother that I want you as far away from the Hellmouth as possible.”

Evy bit her lip and looked around the room. “B-but I’ll be all alone… I’ll be there and Mom will be at work and, and…”

“I’ll be there,” Jon’s voice came from the doorway. “Every step you take, if you want me to be there, I’ll be there. If you want me to be there at school, I’ll make arrangements. I’ll be there.”

“Sch-school? I’ve got to go to school?!” Evy yipped.

“Yes. It will be good for you to meet other people. But we’ll pick it together,” Arlene reassured her daughter. “I won’t send you to a school you don’t like. It won’t be like here, like Sunnydale High.”

“Promise?” Evy whispered.

“Promise,” Arlene smiled.

“Might I suggest we travel to Colorado Springs soon so that Evy may pick her school with some leisure and you can inspect the house? It may need a bit of refurbishment, I haven’t been there in a while and it’s usually rented out to visiting officers,” Jon put a soothing hand on Evy’s shoulder as the girl started to look panicky.

Arlene hugged Evy and kissed her forehead. “That’s an excellent idea. It will allow Evy to see the place for herself, get to know it.”

“And it will get her away from the Hellmouth and whoever assaulted her mind,” Cecilia noted.

Arlene glared at her mother when Evy paled and started to tremble. “Well, done, mother.”

Cecilia winced. “Sorry dear, sorry Evy, that was thoughtless of me.”

Evy smiled wanly. “Will it help? Leaving?”

Danielle gestured to the north. “Didn’t you feel better in San Francisco? Even before the Purification Ritual was performed?”

Evy bit her lip. “Yeah, I did. Au-aunt Joyce? Will Kit be allowed to visit?”

Joyce smiled. “Of course she will.”

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Kit lay on her bed and played with Rupert’s ears. She heard a knock and sighed. The one really annoying thing about Aunt Joyce was that she always seemed to know when you needed her, even when you yourself were almost absolutely certain that what you needed was a good, long, lonely sulk. “C’m in!” She called out.

The door opened and revealed Joyce, who proceeded to lean against the doorframe. “Want to talk about it?” 

“What’s there ta talk?” Kit didn’t meet her foster mother’s eyes. “I screwed up, and because of that Evy's gotta leave,” her voice broke on the last word.

Joyce sighed and sat down on Kit’s bed. “First off, language. Second, this is not your fault.”

“Whose is it then?” Kit carefully enunciated, trying to keep her voice even.

Joyce lifted an eyebrow. “Not a scared nine year old girl’s who was desperately striving to remain alive and then to fit into a new family while watching Evy trying to fit in as well. Life became wholly different for the two of you and things were bound to change.”

“I shoulda done better for her,” Kit began, her voice now really breaking.

 Joyce gathered the girl close and held her. “Kit, I’m afraid that you’ll find that we can’t always foresee everything or do everything as good as we want to, or always say and do the right thing. We’re all human. But Evy is strong, and you’re strong and we’re all going to be there for you.”

Kit started to sob. “B-but Evy’s going to Colorado Springs! And Aunt Arlene will be busy every day and she’ll be all alone!”

“No she won’t. Grandpa Jon will be there and her father, Jack. And she’ll be going to school and she’ll make friends and be happy,” Joyce reassured her.

“She never had friends before, they’ll ignore her and she’ll be depressed and lonely and hide it and then she’ll run awa-ay,” Kit wailed.

“Do you really think Grandpa Jon, Aunt Arlene and Jack would allow that? Do you think that they would stand for the sort of treatment that was allowed at Sunnydale High?” Joyce soothed.

Kit sniffled. “But the popular kids will tease her because she’s poor and dresses weird and-”

“She’s not going to be poor or weirdly dressed. Well, not unless she wants to dress weirdly. Arlene will still make a good income as a major, Jack will contribute and Grandpa Jon is rich and will spoil her rotten,” Joyce pointed out. “Now come down and talk to her, she feels as bad as you do and neither of you did anything wrong.”

“I screwed up. I shoulda-” Kit’s voice was cut off by a stern look, a finger to her lips and a cleared throat.

“Last warning on the language, Kit. Then it’s weeding,” Joyce told her sternly.

Kit rolled her eyes. “We can’t weed, the garden is completely clear of them.”

“Not the one at Hooghwater,” Joyce replied, a trifle smugly.

Kit blinked. Her dark blue eyes went wide with outrage. “B-but that’s huge!”

“Hmm, good reason for the lot of you to behave then, isn’t it?” Joyce smiled and rose, pulling Kit with her. “Up. Evy needs to talk to you and you to Evy.”

Kit followed, her steps hesitant, and her eyes downcast.

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They had been talking for hours, comparing, explaining, apologizing, laughing, and crying. Evy had held Kit while the girl wept for her mother. Kit had held Evy as she remembered what life had been like before the birth of the triplets that had changed her life forever, as she remembered how her adoptive parents had loved her, once. They ate, sitting next to each other, then went off to Kit's bedroom where the disgruntled younger girl showed her uniform and the 'totally excessive' daily schedule of classes she was going to take once a sufficient amount of time had passed to allow for her 'recovery'. The faintness of her scars was going to be ascribed to her youthful vigour.

When Joyce and Arlene came to check on the two girls when it was time for Kit to go to bed, they found them wrapped in each other's arms, sleeping deeply.

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Monday, December 4th Colorado Springs

“Big place,” Daniel noted as he looked up at the large house.

“Yeah, granddad said six bedrooms. I think he may have been talking about bathrooms,” Jack replied, swinging around to take in the considerable garden.

A rather glitzy looking car pulled up and an equally glitzy looking young woman came out. Her skin was a little too powdered, her skirt a little too short, her heels a little too high. She was, Jack thought, a little too much of a possibly good thing.

“Mr. O’Neill?” the young woman asked, slight disapproval in her voice at his casual attire in the expensive neighbourhood.

“Yeah, that’s me, Jack O’Neill,” Jack replied, extending a hand. “You’d be Miss Fulham?”

The young woman nodded, obviously still disapproving

“Colonel, I’ve picked three schools you might want to suggest for Evy. Oh, I didn’t realize you had company, Sir,” Sam came round the corner, a file in her hands.

“Colonel O’Neill?” Miss Fulham was slightly less disapproving.

“Yeah. You got the keys? Granddad asked me to see if anything needed to be done before he got here,” Jack was looking at the house critically. “He thought it might be a bit dated and he’d planned to wait another month or so to move in. But Sunnydale’s got a bit of a gang problem and I want my daughter out of there.”

“Your grandfather is renting the house?” Miss Fulham seemed confused. “I thought you were?”

“Nah, granddad’s just moving in here with my ex and my daughter,” Jack bent over to look at the carefully built ashlar steps up to the house and then jabbed at with his fingernail in the doorpost to check for rot.

Miss Fulham sniffed perceptibly and then moved past him to open the wide, white painted front door.

“The hall has a half bath off it, and a cloak room. It leads to the main room, which comes fully furnished and has a large, fieldstone hearth and under-floor heating,” the woman rattled off.

Sam Carter looked around the main room of the house, her eyes wide. “Wow. This is quite some place. Who does the owner rent it out to?” she asked innocently.

Jack pushed down on the couch and tried the lamps, then headed for the kitchen.

Miss Fulham cleared her throat. “It used to be rented mostly to executives and Generals. He once rented it to a group of Russian spies. He found that rather amusing so he asked us to put it in the brochure. He's also rented it to single junior officers, a room each. About two years ago the owner let us know he wanted to move in himself to be closer to his family, so we had it renovated. He changed his plans and we've mostly rented it to visiting Generals since then.”

“Most of this stuff looks pretty solid, Jack.” Daniel stated, while studying a well upholstered leather club seat in front of the stone fireplace.

“The owner had it in storage. He didn't have it stored again so now it rents furnished again,” Miss Fulham supplied after consulting her notes.

“Master bedroom on this floor, seven more, each with their own en suite, upstairs,” Miss Fulham purred at Jack as the Colonel emerged from the kitchen.

“Yes. I was told the place had six bedrooms? How did it get to eight?” Jack asked absently.

“The additional wing at the south end was added to allow space for the new master bedroom and two more bedrooms were realised above it. The previous master bedroom was the room over the Library, that's the north wing. En Suites were added to all rooms then as well,” Miss Fullham led the way to the library. “The Library is stocked with an assortment of American and British classics. There are some locked bookcases. I’m not entirely sure what they contain. But should they need the book space,” here Miss Fullham sniffed disdainfully, “I’m sure I can convince the owner to vacate them.”

Jack eyed the closed book cases and then the ceiling high ones that lined three walls and the areas between the north facing windows and then shook his head. “No one is ever opening any of those while Evy or Arlene are in the house, period.”

Daniel lifted an eyebrow. “Research?”

Jack shuddered. “Nope. That’s the sorta cupboard granddad keeps the photo albums in.”

Sam grinned at Daniel. “Were you a cute baby, sir?”

Jack looked at her warily. “Carter…”

Carter looked at him with guileless blue eyes. “Sir?”

“Don’t even go there,” Jack warned.

“I-I beg your pardon, but Granddad?” Miss Fulham asked, intrigued.

Daniel smirked. “Yes, Colonel O’Neill is Lord Carnahan’s grandson. Lord Carnahan asked him to see if the house was habitable. Jack here didn’t have a key though. Which is why we asked for someone to come over with one from your office. Didn’t anyone tell you?”

“You are Lord Carnahan’s grandson?” Miss Fulham asked disbelievingly, looking at the man before her. 

“By special Act of Congress Colonel the Honourable Jonathon O’Neill,” Sam informed her, a slightly malicious grin on her face as the young woman immediately went into vamp mode.

“Oh, I’m so sorry Colonel, I didn’t realize-” Miss Fulham moved towards Jack, hips swaying. Jack backed away towards the stairs.

Jack glared at his friends. “I need to see what rooms are fit for Evy and Arlene,” he barked and ran up the stairs as quickly as his knees would bear him.

Daniel chuckled and winked at Sam as Miss Fulham followed her prey up the stairs.

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Monday, December 4th 1995

Kit hugged Evy and Evy hugged Kit. The rest of the family had said their goodbyes and were looking on as the two girls stood by the car and reassured each other that they were alright, were going to be alright and that this separation would not impede their rediscovered closeness.

After minute or so Evy released Kit, keeping her hands on the younger, smaller girl's shoulders. “You be careful, okay? And listen to what Aunt Joyce tells you and don't do anything stupid like go looking for vamps.”

Kit rolled her eyes. “If I did I'd spent two years weeding with an icepack down my pants.”

Evy grinned. “Lotsa incentive to be good.”

Kit grinned back. “Punishment is not why I'm good,” she glanced over her shoulder. “I gotta lot to lose here. I don't wanna.” She leaned in and hugged Evy again, who hugged her back. “Better get going, Granpa Jon is getting impatient.”

“Yeah, I know. Take care, ok?” Evy told the younger girl.

“I will. Promise you will too?” Kit asked anxiously.

“I swear,” Evy hugged Kit one last time and got into the back of the car next to Arlene. Jon drove off.

Kit watched the car drive away, the two on the backseat waving, until it rounded the corner and passed out of her sight. Then she ran up the steps and threw herself into Joyce’s waiting arms.

End Note:

I still do not own Buffy, or Stargate, or Charmed or any of these wonderful properties…

Some delving into the psyche of poor Evy/Marcie. Hope you enjoyed it.
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