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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)vidiconFR1598780,1331571484390,91828 May 115 Jul 14No

87 Brotherly woes

 Author’s Note:

Thanks very much to my Beta, Letomo.

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

Speech: “Who’s on first.”

Thought: *What’s on second.*

Vision: #I-don’t-know’s on third.#

Compston, thanks for recommending me, All my other recommenders, know that I appreciate every one of you, and for sticking with me.

Chapter 87 Brotherly Woes

20th of January, Buffy’s Birthday Bash

Xander was rather quiet, Buffy noted. And since her favourite, only, brother usually only had that type of stillness when there was something seriously wrong, she’d been sent to deal with it. Willow was for freak-out bad Xander. Kit and Dawn shared despondent Xander. Kendra was too uncertain to take up Xander duty yet, and Buffy was there for the intermediate stuff. Or they just all piled on top of him and tickled him until he cried Auntie.

“Xander? Why are you moping?” she asked as she handed him a drink.

Xander gave her a look, then smiled brilliantly. “Moping? I’m not moping.”

“Yeah, you are. We all noticed it. Now spill, or do I need to get the big gun?” Buffy gestured at where Dave was squiring Willow around the dance floor.

Xander glared at Willow, then Buffy. “Nothing’s wrong. And the big gun is pointed elsewhere. Excuse me,” he put his glass down rather forcefully and left the party, heading into the corridor to 1630.

Buffy bit her lip, then drew her phone. “Mom? Xander’s upset about something and heading over.”

*******

Xander stomped down the stairs to his old bedroom. He had loved this room. Still did. He’d helped build it, finish it, and paint it. He didn’t care it was in the basement, the clerestory windows brought in enough light and he preferred to spend time with his family anyway. He just slept here, mostly. His new room was in 1632, what had been the master bedroom there. He’d picked it himself, and the colours, but it had been finished when he got home. It wasn’t really his.

“Feeling a tad unhappy?” Simon asked from the doorway.

“Dad? What’re you doing here?” Xander asked rather rudely.

“Buffy called your mother, your mother decided this required some male perspective. I decided not to argue,” Simon sat down against the wall and looked up, raising an eyebrow. “Well?”

Xander glared and then stomped over and sat down next to him.

He was silent. Simon was as well. He even closed his eyes and seemed to sleep a bit.

“Are you sleeping?” Xander asked suspiciously.

Simon smiled, his eyes still closed. “Yes. It’s a soldier’s trick. Trust me, in combat you try to get your sleep wherever you can.”

“Ah. Okay,” Xander eyed his shoes.

“You don’t like cheese like they do. Asking you to join would’ve gotten you in needless trouble for no conceivable gain,” Simon said after a few more minutes of silence. “It has nothing to do with their love for you or trust in you.”

Xander froze. Then he started to chuckle. “How did you know?”

“Your mother and I put it together. Your sisters may take a while longer. Then no doubt there will be many apologies and hugs,” Simon smiled. “It’s not unlike how soldiers feel when they’ve been kept in the dark about something all their squad mates knew about.”

“So I just wait?” Xander growled. “And let them forget about me again?”

“No. I’ve no doubt your mother will have a talk with them. On the other hand, did you really want to spend a considerable amount of time shovelling and raking?” Simon smiled.

Xander sighed. “I don’t mind working with my hands.”

“Ah, but these chores wouldn’t earn you pocket money,” Simon pointed out.

“How about when the girls start painting at the manor, I get to do my own room?” Xander asked hopefully.

Simon gave him a look. “What?”

Xander rolled his eyes. “C’mon Dad, we all know you folded. Just get the move to the big place over with. I mean, not even New York was that bad, was it? None of the rooms held any of those cold auras after Kit and Dawn had played leapfrog through the place.”

Simon sighed. “Oh very well. Any colour scheme you had in mind?”

Xander smirked. “I want to paint it black.”

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20th of January, back porch 1628

Willow was sniffing the orange blossom corsage that Dave had given her for the evening. “It wasn’t necessary Dave. But thank you. I love it.”

“Hmm, I wanted to,” Dave nuzzled her ear with his nose. “And I need to ask you something.”

“What?” Willow asked, slightly suspicious. Her biological parents had often given her something just before getting her to do something she didn’t like. Like going to the dentist. Or getting shots.

“I want you to refuse every other offer and go to the Valentine’s Night Ball with me,” Dave whispered.

Willow could feel Dave’s smile against her cheek and pouted. “But I got so many! There were all those guys in New York who- EEEEEEPPPP!”

Dave stopped tickling after a minute or two and Willow glared at him, gasping for breath. “Mean!”

Dave leaned over her, kissing her. “Gorgeous.”

Willow smiled. “Handsome.”

Dave cleared his throat. “I want to give you something.”

Willow gave him a look. “A kiss?”

“That too. No, something else,” Dave replied rather nervously.

Willow sat back up, her face thoughtful. “Okay… ground rules?”

Dave frowned. “What?”

“Do you remember when we had the first birthday party at Kindergarten? And Cordelia showed up there with a bigger gift than Nancy’s parents could afford?”

Dave nodded. “Yeah?”

“Something like that. I don’t mind you getting me things. In fact, I love you getting me things. But don’t get me anything in competition with what mom and dad could buy me, okay? Just what an ordinary boyfriend would get his girlfriend?” Willow pleaded.

Dave gave her a look. “What makes you think I would try and compete with your parents?”

Willow put her head against his shoulder. “Because I’m not stupid. I’ve been thinking back and I realised that a good number of the gifts you got me since we were twelve? Much more expensive then what any of the others, even Xander, got me.”

As Dave was about to protest she put a hand on his lips. “I love you. But Dave, I don’t need you to prove that with lots of gifts. Y-you’ve been loving me for years. That’s all I need.”

Dave sighed ostentatiously and reached into his pocket. “So if I showed you this,” he opened a small ring box. It held a simple silver signet ring, with an eagle with spread wings making as if to take off from a willow tree. “You wouldn’t be interested?”

Willow bit back a squeal. “DAVE! How? What? When?”

“The signet rings are easy to get, I took it to an engraver. It wasn’t that expensive,” Dave defended himself.

Willow held out her hand. Dave carefully put the ring on her index finger of her left hand. Willow raised an eyebrow.

“Your dad would ask questions. I like my balls where they are,” he answered her unasked question.

Willow smiled. “I can imagine,” she looked around carefully and then straddled his hips, smoothing herself against his chest and started to kiss him.

Suddenly she let out a squeal of pain. In seconds Xander was outside, having grabbed a short sword that lay in one of the kitchen cabinets.

He glared at Dave who was looking mortified. “Will? You okay? Did he hurt you?”

Willow wasn’t paying attention to the scratches on her back. She was looking at Dave’s hands.

Xander did the same. “Dude, if you weren’t dating my sister I would so make a remark about that.”

Willow had taken Dave’s half-transformed hands in hers. “You’re starting to change? Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked half wondering, half accusatory.

Xander smirked. “Probably wanted to show you everything in a big reveal.”

“I heard that Alexander Gabriel!” Joyce called from inside, walking out. “Willow, let’s go upstairs and see if you’re injured and get you a new top. David?”

Dave winced. “I’ll go and try and cool off.”

“Very wise,” Joyce stated dryly. “Before Simon catches you.”

Willow started to blush furiously as she realised what had set off the change, and fled upstairs.

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Sunday 21st of January, Revello Drive Complex

“It’s still not funny, Henry Summers!” Joyce scolded.

Hank laughed. “I’m sorry, it’s hilarious,” he shook his head. “Joyce, she’s coming back to her self. Our little Princess Tomboy is getting better and picking up her old habits. I’m sorry, but I just can’t be very angry.”

Joyce sighed. “Neither can I, really. But you do understand?”

“Perfectly,” Hank assured her. “Glad though I am that things are getting back to normal with Buffy, she and Dawn did lie and did steal. I was sorry not to have them over, but it wouldn’t have been much fun for any of us as they would still have been grounded.”

Joyce sighed and tucked her foot under her leg. “So. What’re you going to do this weekend instead?”

“Probably work a bit. I’m volunteering at UCLA to help train paralegals and talk young lawyers out of the less salubrious career choices. Ethics. Stuff like that,” Hank waited for the explosion. It didn’t come.

“Yes. That might work very well,” Joyce mused.

Hank coughed. “What?”

“Everyone can learn, Hank. You have. I have. We grew apart and we both did things that hurt the other. We were wrong for each other at the end,” Joyce laughed. “And I admit it did my poor battered feminine ego no harm that Simon set his sights on me. Or that the New York Post states I have to be a supermodel to contend with all the actresses and starlets and models that’ve chased him.”

Hank smiled. “I’m glad. I’m still very sorry for what I did and said, Joyce.”

Joyce leaned back. “As am I. Eventually we’ll work our way to forgiveness. So, with a month of grounding coming up, how about you take them the entire Spring Break and the weekend of skating?”

Hank grabbed his planner and marked the dates he hadn‘t reserved yet. “Blocked them in and I’ll do the same at work. Have you thought about my idea for a gift?”

Joyce sighed. “I have. I’m still not happy with it. I remember Mr. Orange…”

“Mr. Orange was a goldfish, Buffy was five and there is no comparison,” Hank fell into his court voice.

Joyce laughed. “Don’t you go lawyer on me, Hank Summers! I’ll talk it over with Simon again.”

“Well at least the girls can’t say I didn’t try,” Hank remarked facetiously.

“I’m sure they’ll appreciate it. And I’ll be sure to remind them when they’re mucking out the stables…” Joyce teased.

“They’ve wanted a horse for years, Joyce,” Hank said, suddenly serious. “And now you’ve got the room. It was never about the money, you know that.”

“I know, but it’s still a responsibility. We really should talk it over with the girls,” Joyce pointed out.

“And then there’s the matter of the other girls wanting their own?” Hank laughed.

“Not really. Willow thinks horses altogether too high. Kendra sees riding as another skill to master. Kit prefers nicely upholstered leather seats and purring engines,” Joyce smiled.

“Well, think about it. Ummm… Do I need to come by and have a word with that O’Connell fellow?” There was a note of disapproval in Hank’s voice.

Joyce chuckled. “Need, no. But you’re welcome to come by and act the father. Simon is quite good at it, and Dad had a quiet word, but I’m in favour of all the discouragement we can heap upon him.”

“Ditto. I’ll let you know. At least hotels are cheap in Sunnydale,” Hank laughed.

“Don’t be ridiculous. There’s a guestroom here, you can use that,” Joyce suggested.

“What?” Hank was stunned. “Ummm, won’t Simon mind?”

Joyce sniggered. “Well, last time you showed up I got lots of PDA’s. He gets jealous and he needs to realise there’s no need.”

“I had my shot and missed,” Hank acknowledged.

“Got anything new on the shooting range?” Joyce asked idly.

“Not really,” Hank shook his head. “And I don’t feel like it anyway. I need to get some things clear in my mind first.”

“Wise decision. Well, I’ve gotta go. Kit and Dawn will be home soon,” Joyce rose from her seat on the couch.

“Well, I’ll let you know and give the kids my love. Buffy still doesn’t mind I wasn’t there for her actual birthday?” he asked anxiously.

“Every adult was one too many, we all fled under the onslaught of teen stares after a few minutes. I kept it down to checking once an hour,” Joyce reassured him. “Don’t worry. Just be there to take her to the IceCapades and Dorothy Hamill’s master class and you’ll be fine.”

Hank laughed. “Take care then. Bye Joyce.”

“Bye Hank,” Joyce hung up. She stared at the phone in wonder. That had been the most civil conversation she’d had with Hank since quite some time before the divorce. Maybe, one day, they could be friends again.

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21st of January, an undisclosed location, Sunnydale

Tucker Wells stumbled into the Tribunal Chamber. He was pale as a sheet and almost fell into his seat as if his legs were unable to bear his weight.

“The accused will stand,” the Bailiff intoned in a deep voice.

Tucker pushed against the desk and managed to get back to his feet. He tried to lift his eyes, to meet the gazes of his judges, but the ice cold expressions on their faces made him turn away again.

“Tucker Wells, you stand accused of wilfully using dark magic, of breaching or intending to breach, the Laws of magic. How do you plead?” the old man asked in menacing tones.

“G-guilty,” Tucker managed to stammer. “Please? My little brother?” he begged.

The old woman in the centre, the one Tucker called 'Older than God' in his mind looked at him with her eerily dark eyes. “We will consider his case on its merits. If he has not committed any crimes against the laws of magic, we will educate him. If he has...” she let her voice trail off threateningly.

Tucker gulped. “I-I understand. M-may I ask the method of execution?”

The old woman looked at him bleakly. “The traditional method of execution, considering the nature of your crimes and the plans you had, would be to impale you.”

Tucker gripped the desk, his breath coming in fast gasps.

“However, because of your youth and our belief that your actions my have been partially inspired by the dark magic prevalent here, we have decided that your punishment will be altered,” the old woman continued remorselessly. “To something more fitting.”

“Not the Sempharg, please!” Tucker fell to his knees beside the desk, “Anything, anything but that!”

“Therefore it is the decision of this court that your execution be stayed you be given into the care and tutelage of High Magister Aloysius Crumrin,” the old woman indicated the man next to her. “The former Grand Magister is willing to help fund your move and further education in the East. Be aware, Mr. Wells. One spell that is even slightly out of line and Magister Crumrin has been authorized to execute you without prejudice.”

The old woman's face was harsh and unforgiving but for the first time Tucker thought he saw a glimpse of humanity. “If your brother proves to be innocent of wrongdoing against the Laws and able to do magic, he will be sent to be trained with you. For the others you have named, suitable mentors will be sought and found.”

Tucker looked into the deep, glittering eyes of his new master, realised that he was going to live, and promptly fainted.

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Sunday 21st of January 1996

Kendra was humming. That in itself was unusual. Xander also realized she was humming the last song she’d danced to with Morgan. Morgan, who might very well be the first guy to ever pay attention to Kendra while Kendra was even in a slightly receptive mood.

Who had joked with her all evening. And now she was humming. His innocent, vulnerable little sister, who disliked using contractions in conversations and thought that frivolity interfered with the Calling of the Slayer.

Xander very quietly resolved to have a word or two with Mr. Shay the next day.

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Monday 22nd of January, Sunnydale High

“Morgan? Can we talk?” Xander smiled at the older boy, who gestured at the place next to him on the bench in the school courtyard.

“Sit. Help me enjoy the beautiful morning,” Morgan grimaced as Principal Snyder strode by, trying to make up for his lack of height by a surfeit of attitude. “Well, mostly beautiful anyway.”

Xander chuckled, then grew serious. “Okay. Now as a good, Victorian brother it’s my duty to inquire into your intentions towards my sister.”

Morgan smiled wryly. “And my prospects?” He sighed. “I have no intentions towards her. She's cute and sweet and it would be dreadfully unfair on her.”

“Unfair?” Xander asked, confused.

“Buffy really didn't tell anybody, did she?” Morgan sounded impressed.

“No, the Buffster is very good at keeping other people's secrets. Unless it's about who you like or dating, in which case 'you shouldn't be telling her things like that 'cause you know I've gotta totally tell people'!''

Xander's imitation of his younger sister's intonation and speech patterns was accurate enough that Morgan laughed.

Then he sighed and leaned back, letting the morning sun play on his freckled face.

“Too much sun will give you skin cancer, dude,” Xander remarked half-jokingly.

“It’ll have to get me very fast then. Before my brain tumor kills me,” Morgan's words were so soft Xander almost didn't hear him.

“Woah!” Xander slid sideways so he could look at Morgan fully. “Say what?”

“Brain cancer. Big, nasty tumor. It's only a matter of time before my scintillating wit turns into gurgles and I forget my own name,” Morgan smiled deprecatingly. “So no prospects, no intentions.”

Xander nodded. “I see. Okay. I can understand that.”

“Good. The last thing I need right now is romantic complications.”



“Sooo... Is Morgan gonna make a move on Kendra?” Amy inquired as Xander sat down on the bench they hung out on when they didn't consider it too cold.

*Gonna be long time to forget how cold it was in Scotland and New York,* Xander sat down and looked at Buffy. “Nope, his intentions are pure and noble and of the non-girlfriendy type.”

“What?” Willow scowled. “That's mean! He dances with her all night, he makes jokes with her, got her all flustered! H-he should be impure and dastardly and a-and drool over her shoes like a puppy!”

Amy, Xander and Buffy's gazes met. It was Buffy who voiced their thoughts. “Drool over your shoes eh, Willow? Well, whatever makes you happy...”

“Or is it Dave who gets happy?” Xander teased. Then he scowled. “And I’ll have a few words with Dave; there will be no impure thoughts about my sisters!”

Willow blushed and thwacked Buffy, who was sitting next to her and tried to reach across her to poke Xander, who dodge agilely. “Stop that! You know that's not what I meant.”

“We know. But lets just say that Morgan has an excellent reason for not pressing his suit,” Xander assured her.

Buffy frowned. “What does ironing his clothes have to do with anything, Xander?”

Xander sighed. Willow giggled and swatted Buffy. “Buff? Last warning on the dumb blonde act.”

“Or what?” Buffy challenged, chin in the air. “If I want to act the empty-headed bimbo, that's my choice, right?”

“Nope. I'll tell Gran and Aunt Penny. And Mom,” Willow replied cheerfully.

“Traitor!” Buffy pouted. “How am I gonna draw the attention of cute guys to carry my bag and books if I act all intellegent-y.”

“Yeah, well that's what you get for picking a boyfriend looks old enough to be in college. And broods a lot. And is sunlight allergic. And covered in hair gel,” Xander pointed out.

Buffy let out an indignant huff. “He uses mousse! And that was probably not the best defense.”

Dave snorted in amusement and received a pointy elbow from Willow, sighed a long suffering sigh and rose. “Anyway, time to get to class. May I carry your books, Willow?”

Willow beamed, nodded and handed him the stack of books. Buffy pouted. Not that she needed anybody to carry her books, but it would be nice.

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St. Ursula's 22nd of January

“Soooo... “ Madeline 'Maddy' More began. “What does your father do?”

“Biological or Adoptive?” Kendra countered, not looking up from her reading for history next period.

“Biological, then adoptive.” Maddy replied.

“Neither is any of your business,” came the measured answer. “We have a test. I suggest you study.”

“Well, aren't you nice,” Maddy snarked. “Still think she can carry a conversation, Henry?”

Henrietta 'Henry' Oberski shrugged. “About history, yeah. She doesn't want to talk about her parents? Big deal.”

Maddy sniffed. “Right. Okay. So what about boyfriends? Ever kiss anybody, Young?”

“No. Are you volunteering?” Kendra looked up this time.

Maddy let out a squeal. "I'm reporting that to the Principal! That's harassment!”

She hurried away, her clique following her. Henrietta sat down. “Okay, that was funny, but it might get you in trouble.”

“I doubt it. The Principal will see it as it was meant to be, a way to stop her from inquiring into subjects I did not wish to discuss,” Kendra scowled at the page listing the Presidents of the United States, in order, with their primary policies. “Kings are much easier. They rule longer.”

Henry laughed. “Not all of them. I've got a boyfriend. His name is Darren,” she volunteered. “And yeah, we've kissed.”

“I don't, and haven't,” Kendra sighed. “Can I study now?”

“So there's no one who draws your eye? A guy you like to talk to?” Henry sounded disappointed.

“I-I haven't met many boys,” Kendra admitted. “J-just my brother. And some who live in Britain.”

“You were in England? Cool! Where?” Henry bounced on her seat.

Kendra closed her book. “If I fail this test I will 'take it out of your hide'.”

“That would sound way more impressive if you actually added a threatening inflection, you know,” Henry giggled. “Now tell me, I've only been to Canada and all they've got are trees.”

“I believe they've got Mounties, too,” Kendra added after some thought. “But we visited London and Scotland.”

“Cool. What where the boys like?” Henry smirked. Kendra sighed and closed her book.

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January 22nd, afternoon Revello Drive Complex

Buffy was trying to learn French verbs, scowling at the irritating things in the hopes that they would run away like vampires did when she did it. French verbs obviously were tougher than vamps. They didn’t run.

“Buffy! Mail!” her mother called from the kitchen.

Buffy frowned, then got to her feet. “Is it important, Mom?”

Joyce smiled. “Well, the poor thing won’t accept any food or water until you take the letter off.”

Buffy blinked at the scruffy looking buff Eagle owl on the railing that Patrick had installed by the window. “Oh. That isn’t Aud.”

“No. I’ve no idea whose she is-”

“HOOOT!”

“Whose he is,” Joyce corrected herself with a smile. “But the letter is addressed to you.”

Buffy smiled at the owl. “Well big fellow, care to show some leg?”

The owl eyed her with an expression that clearly indicated what it thought of jokes at his expense, but it dutifully extended the leg that held the letter. Buffy untied it.

The owl immediately flew to land beside the bowls of minced meat and water and fell to.

Buffy read the letter, frowning. “This is from Luna’s dad, he wants to thank Captain Carter personally for helping to save Luna.”

“Best ask your Papa what the regulations are about that. Though I think that thankful wizards might sort of fall outside of them,” Joyce smiled.

Buffy nodded. “Okay. I can get back to my French then. He isn’t home yet.”

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Afternoon of Tuesday 23rd of January

Kendra was looking rather despondent the next afternoon, a lot less cheerful than the night before.

Xander sat down next to her at the long table where most of them did their homework. “Are you alright?”

Kendra nodded and concentrated on her Latin translation. Xander gave it a look and winced. “Don't know how you guys can read that.”

“You are making progress with it yourself,” Kendra pointed out.

“Not as fast as you and Willow. Or even Buffy,” Xander sighed.

“Buffy is more intelligent than she wants people to know,” Kendra acknowledged. “Is there a reason why you keep interrupting my studies?”

Xander smirked. “Besides enjoying your scintillating conversation?”

Kendra gave him a look. Xander's smirk became a grin. “Well, since you asked... What's got you so down?”

“I am not down,” Kendra frowned. “I am not on the floor, nor am I in the basement.”

Xander rolled his eyes, “And like Buffy acts dumber than she is, you act more clueless than you are. We've used and explained 'down' Ken. So, spill.”

Kendra permitted herself a small smile and reached for her glass of milk. “If you insist...”

Xander grabbed her hand. “Okay Little Miss Literally, no more of that,” he scolded.

Kendra laughed. “But it's so much fun!”

“Uhuh. For you maybe. Now, tell me? School not fun? Classmates bitches?” Xander nudged her. “Underwear ride up under that neat pleated skirt? Can’t be boy trouble at an all-girls school.”

Kendra pulled her skirt straight and glared at Xander. “No, no, and two none of your business!”

Buffy on the other side of the table started to giggle at Xander’s stunned expression, which set off the others. Rowan recovered first. “C’mon Ken! I don’t even have a body! I need double the vicarious smoochies.”

“There were no smoochies!” Kendra replied fiercely. “Stop it!”

Buffy smiled. “Guys, put a sock in it.”

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Evening of Tuesday 23rd of January

Buffy was brushing her hair, a scrunchie in her mouth, her combat boots and fatigues on already, getting ready for patrol. Giles, with Willow’s tracking program and Jenny’s help had located six possible fledglings. That was a considerable number. Two or three was far more usual from what they could tell from earlier years. That was a worrying development that pointed to a build up of forces by The Master. What was worrying as well was that there were even more disappearances rather than outright deaths lately.

If Buffy didn’t have her support, there would be hundreds of vamps in Sunnydale now. As it was, she was taking out the ones in the cemeteries, mostly, and whatever ones she met near the usual hunting sites.

There was a knock, almost a scratch, at her door. Buffy frowned. Her mother would knock more firmly, as would papa. Dawn never knocked, and Kit was copying that, much to her older siblings’ annoyance. Willow tended to go for secret knocks.

Xander tended to thump with his fist. That left… “Come in, Ken!”

Kendra opened the door. “How did you know it was me? C-can you sense me with your Slayer powers?” she asked both nervously and curiously.

Buffy smiled. “Nope. Process of elimination. And if you tell anyone I said that I will deny it!” Seeing the bleak little smile on Kendra’s face, she quickly finished her ponytail and sat down on the bed, patting the space beside her.

Kendra sat. “What is it like, being in love?”

Buffy sighed like a teakettle. “Oy vey, you come up with some doozies. Well, it’s wonderful and scary. And why are you asking?”

“I-if a boy likes you, and dances with you, and laughs with you, and he has your number, should he call the next day?” Kendra asked. “H-Henry said that if he liked me, he would.”

Buffy closed her eyes. “Ken… Morgan… Morgan is a special case.”

“He is? I didn’t see him look at Xander, or Dave, or Mike or Angel,” Kendra stated bluntly.

Buffy giggled. “Not that way! Nothing wrong with it, but no,” she became serious again. “Look, he told Xander, so he won’t mind me telling you, I think. Morgan is ill. Very ill. He doesn’t consider it fair to you.”

Kendra frowned. “Ah. Ill like Xander’s Sun Chaser?”

Buffy sighed. “Nothing supernatural, but yes.”

“Is Xander not still happy about knowing her, loving her?” Kendra asked.

“Yes,” Buffy admitted. “But also sad.”

“I shall call him, then,” Kendra decided. “Thank you. Good hunting, Buffy.”

She reached out and hugged Buffy, the first time Buffy could remember the younger girl doing that. “Be careful.”

“I will be,” Buffy smiled. “Good night.”

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Afternoon of 24th of January, Revello Drive Complex

Kendra picked up the phone and dialed the number she’d looked up earlier. “Shay,” a curt, older male voice said.

“Mr. Shay? This is Kendra Young. Is Morgan available?”

There was a rustle, and then a bellow. “MORGAN! A GIRL FOR YOU ON THE PHONE!”

Kendra had to grin a little. Then she heard the phone being picked up somewhere else. “Morgan Shay.”

“Morgan, this is Kendra,” Kendra began. “Are you alone?”

There was a click of a door closing. “Am now,” a bed creaked.

“D-do you know what Buffy is?” Kendra asked.

Morgan was silent. “Yeah. A mutual friend told me.”

“He was rather wooden, I understand. I-I… some day I may be the same. I wish to live my life, Morgan Shay. I think you need to do the same,” Kendra’s heart was beating in her throat and her hands were sweaty.

Morgan chuckled. “I think I do. And As I think we understand each other, may I ask you to accompany me to the Sunnydale High Valentine’s Day bash?”

Kendra smiled broadly. “Yes, you may.”

“Good. I will contact you later about corsages and stuff. And I have a headache, so I should hang up,” Morgan’s voice was light.

Kendra sighed. “I understand. Rest well.”

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Evening of 24th of January, Revello Drive Complex

“Please Mom? Pretty please?” the collected girls of the Family were surrounding their mother. The current pleader was Willow.

“No,” Joyce replied calmly as she leafed through a catalogue of baby equipment. The disturbing thing being that they were already owned by her future husband. The two hundred year old Meier crib was at her disposal, as was the magnificently if disturbingly carved thousand year old Vicari one. *Though it will be a cold day in hell before I let any child of mine sleep in that monstrosity.*

“Mom, please. It's Valentine's day!” Buffy begged.

“And you'll still be grounded,” Joyce noted. “Birthday party, remember? That counts against you all. Besides, it’s a weekday.”

Kendra was looking about ready to cry. Joyce looked up and sighed. “Don't tell me, Morgan Shay asked you to the Valentine's Day bash?”

Kendra nodded and bit her lip. “I said yes, not realising that it would be a problem.”

Joyce rose. “I will discuss it with your father.”

She held up a hand at the collective squeals. “Do realize that this is your father, who will have the right to forbid his daughters to go on dates?”

Willow pouted. “But I bought that dress in New York! I wanted to dance in it with Dave!”

Joyce groaned inwardly. *You try and make them more outgoing, and happy and self confident. And now it comes and kicks you right in the ass.*

“Like I said, I will discuss it with your father,” she left the room.

Willow sighed. “Do you think Dad will let us?”

Buffy shrugged. “He may, he may not. If it was just me? He-heck no. No way they'd let me out just to date Liam. All of you? Especially Ken? Mom is gonna be utterly over the moon she's got a date.”

Kendra blushed. “Stop it Buffy!”

“Oh come on, Ken, Morgan is nice and sweet. And you liked dancing with him,” Rowan called out from her screen. "At least you can actually dance with a guy,” she finished, pouting.

“I will admit that dancing might be a good way to practice balance and close-quarters coordination,” Kendra grudgingly admitted.

Kit leaned back. “It’s not fair that you might get to go and we won't.”

Buffy leaned over and ruffled her hair. “Wait a few years until you're a bit older, KK,” then she grinned slyly. “And until Draco comes to visit."

Kit’s ears reddened a bit and she threw a pillow at Buffy, who caught it with a laugh.

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Thursday 24th of January, Sunnydale research, Industrial Moulding room

The room was quite warm but the contents were chilling and clinical. A strange cube had been constructed, set with various sensors and lasers. Gleaming metallic shields had been set up around them.

In a corner stood a table, a vat with a strange, viscous white liquid and a chair with lots of removable parts.

Joyce put a calming hand on Willow’s shoulder. “It’ll be fine, dear.”

“That’s easy for you to say, mom! You’re not gonna be the one getting groped!” Willow groused.

Joyce smiled a little. Willow was so nervous she was practically vibrating. “I think ‘groping’ is the wrong word, dear. You’ll be modelled with lasers and with wax-”

“And I’ll be naked,” Willow pulled her white robe more tightly around her. A white bathing cap covered her hair, making her seem pale and hairless, with a slightly deformed head. A smooth white paste had been painted over her eyebrows too. And she really didn’t want to think about the other preparations. *Not as if it’s possible to smooth out my hair down there,* she considered ruefully

“Yes, well. I’m afraid that can’t be avoided. They need a model to base Rowan’s exterior on,” Joyce made soothing circles between Willow’s shoulder blades. “And your father made doubly sure they’re all women.”

From the screen on the wall Rowan made puppy eyes at Willow. “Please, Will?”

Willow groaned. “You soooo owe me for this!” She took off the robe, handing it to Joyce without looking and stepped forward, into the cube. She spread her legs slightly, moving her feet into positions marked on a mat on the floor and raised her arms in the pose of the Vitruvian man closed her eyes and let out a whimper of embarrassment.

“Subject W has entered the scanning cage. Activating primary scan,” a clinical female voice spoke. “Try not to move, Willow. The technology is still finicky,” the same voice said, now rather more warmly.

“Guinea Pig Willow, that’s me,” Willow muttered.

Beams of light started to play over Willow, slowly moving down from the crown of her head to her feet.

Joyce folded the robe and took out a book. “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit…”

It took ten minutes. At the end of it Willow was almost visibly trembling with the need to fidget.

“Primary scan complete. Bring in the gurney,” the clinical voice spoke. “Okay Willow, that was the difficult part. You can lay down for the next one.”

Willow sighed and moved her shoulders, looking on sullenly as the gurney was driven in. With a put upon look she got onto the gurney and lay down on her back.

The lights moved again, and Joyce took up her reading where she’d left off. The scan took another ten minutes.

“Secondary scan complete. Commencing preparations for tertiary scans,” came from the speaker. “Willow, would you turn over?”

Willow sighed and did as she was told. Joyce read. Ten minutes later Willow stood up and scurried into the robe her mother held out.

Then she hurried out of the room, coming back a few minutes later, blushing slightly.

She looked at the set up in the corner with loathing. “I suppose it’s time for that now?”

Joyce nodded. “Yes. It is.”

Willow glared at the screen where Rowan was following everything avidly. “Why couldn’t you be, like a brother, so we could use Xander for this?”

“Because this is Freudian enough as it is,” Joyce interrupted. She touched Willow’s face. “I know you’re uncomfortable. But think of it this way, if all this goes as planned, you’ll be able to hug Rowan in a month’s time. Maybe less.”

Willow bit her lip and looked up at the screen and her distraught looking sister. “Sorry Row, it’s just…” she gestured down at herself.

Rowan nodded. “Yeah, I know. I understand. And I’m really, really grateful!” She bit her lip. “It feels weird, thinking that so many people have seen us naked.”

Willow smirked and looked at their mother. “Yeah. Or fondled us, with our parents’ permission.”

Joyce sighed and rolled her eyes.

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Thursday afternoon, 25th of January, Revello Drive Complex

Willow was glowering at her fingers as she was trying to figure out why they wouldn’t do what she wanted them to. She was concentrating so hard that she nearly fell of the piano stool when Dave leaned down and put his arms around her middle.

“Hello my little virtuoso,” he whispered.

“Hello Dave,” Willow she turned her head and kissed him.

“I couldn’t ask in school, so how did it go yesterday evening? Everything go… smoothly? ” Dave asked waggling his eyebrows.

Willow blushed and thumped his shoulder with a small fist. “Dork.”

“Ow!” Dave smiled. “Sorry. Buffy bet me five dollars I wouldn’t refer to it.”

“And money is more important than your girlfriend?” Willow pouted.

Dave looked away.

Willow’s eyes narrowed. “Dave!” she pulled him to face her. “Dave, you don’t have to buy me anything expensive, o-or take me on big dates!”

“The money was just a bonus,” Dave sniggered and at Willow’s look started to blush.

It took Willow les than a second to realise why he was. Then she went red too. “Oooh you! You MAN!” she squealed in outrage, and slapped his shoulder again.

Dave smiled rather ruefully. “Yep. Sorry.”

Willow sighed, trying to suppress her blush. “Just, be careful, okay? If dad finds out you think about me like that, he’ll ground me until I’m thirty.”

“Ground you? What about me?” Dave asked, confused.

“You would just get measured for a pair of cement overshoes,” Willow smirked.

“That’ll teach me to touch the Boss’ daughter,” Dave hammed in an over the top Italian accent, as he leaned in to kiss her again.

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Friday afternoon, 26th of January, Ellis family house, Imperial California

Xander got out of the car and peered up at the huge trees that stood around the perimeter of the lawn. “Not much shade on the house,” he remarked.

“Not much chance of them falling on the roof either,” James pointed out with a smile.

Xander nodded. “I see. So. Now what?”

“Well, we start your training in earnest. First there is the forty mile hike, then after that the swimming and after that the personal combat. Knives, tomahawks and possibly guns,” James emphasized each part of the training with a tap on his fingers.

Xander gulped. “Errr, I’m training to be a Heyoka and not a Navy Seal right?”

James laughed. “Yes. Don’t worry, there’s some physical training, but mostly to get to know yourself. Tai Chi works for that as well as running a hundred miles.”

“New fangled foreign muck,” a dry voice stated from under the trees.

Xander whirled. A man stepped out of the shadows. Not step, grow. He was definitely a native American. Six feet two, straight as an arrow with deep, brown eyes he studied Xander as if he was an insect. “You teaching this boy, Ellis?” he sneered. “Couldn’t find anything better?”

Xander flinched. James smirked. “Doesn’t get any better than this, does it?”

To Xander’s surprise the man laughed. “Good to see you, James. So this is him?” he walked around Xander, studying him carefully. When he was in front of him again, he frowned. “You’re all out of whack, kid. Need to work on that.”

“Out of whack?” Xander asked, surprised.

James gave the other man a look. “No.”

“He needs it,” the other argued. “His pain is tremendous.”

“No. We’re dealing with it. He doesn’t need magic, just love and support. And you shouldn’t. The last time nearly took you,” James voice was edged with a strong emotion.

It took Xander a while to recognized it as worry. Worry for one the older man loved. “Who are you? Are you one of granddad’s pupils?”

The man’s mouth quirked. “Sometimes. Sometimes not, Sometimes I-”

“Am right annoying. Xander, this is Kol’Tek. My teacher,” James interrupted with a roll of his eyes.

Xander blinked, then looked up at the sun. “Okay… He’s not a vamp. So how can a guy half your age be your teacher?”

“It’s a kind of magic,” Kol’tek told him blandly. “Well, if that is all, can we go eat now?”

“You didn’t come here to see my grandson, you just want to eat Cecilia’s cooking,” James accused him.

Kol’tek shrugged. “I came for both. And since you knew I was coming, I assume you have the Tribute?”

“Tribute?” Xander asked warily. The notion of tribute seemed wrong to him, considering what he’d heard about Heyoka’s.

“Yes, tribute. The greatest food in the world,” Kol’tek stated reverentially.

“Gran’s pasta?” Xander asked confused.

“Hah!” Kol’tek guffawed. “No. You have much to learn, my young apprentice. The greatest food in the world is-”

“I’d say Twinkies, but no doubt you want some horrible bean mash with cornbread,” Xander quipped.

Kol’tek stopped and glared at James. “You told him?”

James smirked. “No need. They really are his favourite food.”

Kol’tek’s face wreathed in smiles. “Ah! Wonderful. A true believer,” he put an arm around Xander’s shoulder. “Now tell me, young Xander, do you know of the proper way to eat these golden treasures?”

James sighed. “Introducing these two might have been the worst mistake of my life,” he muttered to himself.

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Saturday afternoon, 27th of January, Revello Drive Complex

“Morgan, if you play the piano that well, why did you go on stage with that Dummy?” Buffy smirked as Willow glared at Morgan for daring to have fingers that did as he wanted them to...

Suddenly Morgan’s fingers spasmed and a discordant note ran out. He looked at Kendra before answering Buffy. “My body doesn’t always do what I want it anymore. Nobody expected me to be good at ventriloquism, so Sid and I decided to go with that. I-I didn’t want people to guess.”

Kendra put a hand on Morgan’s shoulder. “Would you play that again, Morgan?” she asked softly.

Morgan looked up at her, and smiled, as his fingers found the keys to play again.

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Saturday afternoon, 27th of January, Revello Drive Complex

“So, what do you think?” Joyce was leaning back against Simon and playing with her engagement ring.

“About?” Simon asked as he looked down. “Your cleavage? Very nice.”

Joyce lightly slapped his thigh. “No, you dork. What do we do about the girls and Valentine’s day?”

“Grounding is grounding,” Simon shrugged. “I’m inclined to let the punishment stand.”

“Ah,” Joyce nodded. “I suppose you’re right.”

“We are letting their boyfriends visit. And some other friends. Dawn and Kit are having the Twins over tomorrow,” Simon reminded her.

“I know, I know,” Joyce sighed. “It’s just that Kendra is actually coming out of her shell…”

Simon sighed. “Abbey said that we might substitute something else, something onerous.”

“Onerous?” Joyce wrinkled her nose. “Sounds dire. Did she suggest anything?”

“Depends on the child. She doesn't know them well enough yet to make suggestions,” Simon slid a hand up to Joyce's breast.

Joyce looked up. “Daddy duties first. Sugar daddy's fun later.”

Simon grimaced. “And there goes my libido.”

“Don't worry. I've got ways of stoking it back up,” Joyce soothed. “So. Whadda we do?”

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Heathrow Airport, Business Class departure lounge

Quentin Travers didn't tend to pay much attention to what his mother had called 'his grandfather's people'. The Focus users, the wand wizarding world, no matter what one called them, were insular and secretive and highly xenophobic. His grandfather had been a Squib. His father as well, and so was Quentin. And unlike his grandfather who saw his Council position as his due as a Squib of an old Wizarding family, and his father, who at best saw it as a sinecure, Quentin strove to serve as best he could. And striving meant sometimes screwing up.

He was aware of the fact that it was very likely that his youngest daughters would receive a Hogwarts letter. He was also quite positive that he would tell the School to go and insert their wands in their rectums and take a seat. He was not interested in restoring relations with a family that at best looked down on him and his children, and at worst spat.

But he was quite able to recognize a Wand Wizard when he met one, or saw one. It was very rare for a wand wizard to enter an area such as Heathrow, and a waiting room no less.

The man he was watching was travelling with an old fashioned bag, and like all business class passengers, the rest of his luggage had been loaded already.

He had long, blond hair in a ponytail and a suit of good, if old fashioned clothes. His eyes were steely grey and his he looked to be in his late thirties or early forties. He also carried a cane. And he looked around the room as if he expected something to jump out and eat his face any second.

The last thing Quentin wanted was a wand-happy idiot travelling with him. He wondered if he might dissuade the other man from flying. With a sigh he limped over, supporting himself on his own cane.

“First time traveling by plane?” He asked as he sat down.

The man looked up, his nostrils flaring and his hand clenching around the cane.

*He's got his wand in there,* Quentin decided. “Quentin Travers,” he extended a hand.

The man's eyes narrowed. “Indeed. Were you related to Adolphus Travers?”

Quentin frowned. Common politeness would've demanded the man introduce himself. “He was my cousin. He was in an... unfortunate accident... I believe.” *Splinched himself while escaping from an angry father, from what I heard.*

The man lifted an eyebrow at him. “Indeed. Most unfortunate. Did you share his political views?”

Quentin smiled darkly. “I'm sitting here. What do you think?”

The man smiled slightly. “That you would've done very well in Slytherin,” he held out his own hand. “Lucius Bedell. And yes, this is the first time I'm doing something like this.”

Quentin shook the hand. “I fear that the name is unfamiliar to me. Might I ask why you are travelling by this method?”

Bedell grimaced. “My Lord ordered me to use Mug- Normal travel methods. He believes that more of us need to be exposed to what they, you, have achieved since the Statute of Secrecy was instituted.”

Quentin's brows rose. “Indeed. Must be an interesting man.”

“You have no idea,” Bedell looked at his white fingers where they delicately lay around the cane's head. “And since I'm travelling to meet my brother, and my lord and he thought it a good way to start my, ah... lessons.”

“Your brother lives in the Colonies?” Quentin inquired delicately.

“Yes, he has for some time,” Lucius sighed.

“I myself am on my way there. I have some apologies to make and a case to state,” Quentin smiled. “If you’d like, I could help you with the process and explain it to you.”

“You know about planes?” Lucius asked, hopefully.

“I often travel by them. And when I was young, I wanted to be a fighter pilot,” Travers laughed a trifle bitterly. “That of course, was before I realised I had little choice of what my career would be like.”

“Ah yes… I can imagine that your grandfather was not best pleased that you hadn’t inherited the… ability?” Lucius asked delicately.

“Not at all, no,” Travers looked around the area. “But I realised that in its way, the work of the Council, corrupt though it was, is far more important than having the ability.”

Lucius nodded. “I suppose that it is.”

End note:

Xander will be getting some more airtime as the focus shifts a bit. And Kol’Tek has made his entry into the Family.

 
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