I still do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or any mythology.
In my author's notes for the first story, I neglected to mention one other story that served as something of an inspiration for writing this. It's also very good so I thought I should mention MMcGregor's I Am What I Am now, before I forget again.
I’d also like to take a moment to thank Tammin for his hard work, and Dusel for his contribution.HomeSunnydale, Giles' Apartment
'There's no place like home,' Buffy thought with some sarcasm as the emanations from the Hellmouth started to grate at her senses. Apparently, after being away from it for over a month, her senses had to get used to its energy again.
Looking down and to the right she saw the high school itself, but that wasn't her destination as she flew on through the night sky. 'It looks so beautiful,' went through her as she passed Main Street on her way to Giles. Buffy had given though to going straight home, for all of one second. Then she had chickened-out, afraid of no longer being welcome.
So now she was going to Giles first and ask him how everybody was. 'It's a little weird how easy I can find my way from way up here. I mean, sure, I've seen maps of the town but shouldn't real life look different than a map? Even from a hundred yards high?'
Spotting what Buffy thought was Giles' apartment, the blond came to a halt but did not start her descent. Only after she'd scrutinized the surrounding buildings and streets to make sure nobody would spot her coming down did she make her way back to the ground. She also didn't land right in front of his door, but an alleyway next to his building.
Readjusting the weight of her bag slung across her left shoulder, Buffy made her way to her Watcher's apartment where she softly rapped on the door before waiting. Only then did she think of something. 'Wait, what if he isn't home? He could be out patrolling, or at the library...'
The light coming on above her combined with the faint sounds of activity from inside the apartment put her worries to rest. It wasn't much more than a minute later that Buffy came face-to-face with another person for the first time in almost two months.
It was weird, really weird. 'But it's a good kind of weird,' Buffy resolved as a happy smile split her face. Her Watcher meanwhile looked first surprised, than relieved at her. “Hey, Giles.”
“Buffy!” he said as he actually laid a hand on her shoulder. Giles looked like he wanted to say more, but in the end he settled for, “It's good to see you again. You look well.” He took a moment to look her over, then waved her in.
As Buffy stepped over the threshold she saw Miss Calendar coming down the stairs. She'd already known there had been two people inside, she'd heard as much. Still, the fact she was wearing a bathrobe made it clear what the teacher was doing at her Watcher's place or had been doing. “Hey Miss Calendar, I, errr, hope I didn't wake you up.”
She carefully didn't express her amusement as Miss Calendar went from embarrassed to pretending there was nothing awkward about the whole situation. “Not at all. I'm glad you're back in time for school, you passed by the way.”
“Good,” Buffy responded as she sat down her bag. Looking at the couch, the blond was reluctant to sit down. Her clothes weren't exactly clean and what they would do the furniture...
“Do sit down Buffy,” Giles interrupted her thoughts. “I imagine the walk back to Sunnydale must have been tiresome,” he finished as he sat down himself while Miss Calendar took a seat on the armrest of his chair.
“You sure? The desert doesn't have Laundromats you know.”
That got her a smile from the two adults and a firm assurance from Giles. Shrugging, Buffy took a seat. “And I'm not that tired really, flying is a lot easier than walking.”
“You can fly?” Miss Calendar asked.
The blond Aesir felt another grin coming on as she recalled her flight to Sunnydale. “Yep, or I would have been home more than a week ago. But let me tell you, it was worth every frustrating, hot, dusty, smelly day out there. I just... I got no words to describe what it's like floating way up in the air and to look down and see... everything.” Buffy shook her head.
“I can imagine,” her teacher murmured.
“So you had a good time out in the desert?” Giles inquired.
“Hell no,” Buffy snorted. “But it was necessary and I got something good out of it so...” she shrugged.
“Ah, I see. Well, then, ehm, how did you find your mother?”
Buffy frowned at that then widened as panic gripped. “What do you mean? Did she move? Doesn't she want me to come home?”
Giles hurriedly allayed her fears. “No, no, I wanted to know how your reunion with your mother went. From your reaction, however, I surmise you haven't seen her yet.”
“No,” Buffy started before looking down, “I haven't seen her yet.” She looked back up again and saw a look of understanding in Giles' eyes. “I was sort of hoping you could tell me how she's been about the whole Aesir-thing.”
“Of course, you already know she and I had to go straight to the police station as soon as we arrived at your home?” Seeing Buffy nod, he continued. “Good, well, I believe I should start with that then. You may be relieved to know the police will not be pressing any charges for assaulting that officer.”
Giles eyed her and apparently her embarrassment was sufficient because he moved on. “It appears that their haste to withdraw from the case as soon as your mother mentioned her kidnappers' appearance convinced her that the police would not be a help dealing with the supernatural. She still had some very sharp questions for me the day after but I think I managed to answer them to her satisfaction.”
“I can't comment on how happy she is with the situation, but I think she's accepting enough of what we've all become,” he stressed, “that it is safe for you to go home. Happiness at your return will outweigh any uncomfortable feelings regarding your status as an Aesir. At least for the time being.”
Buffy breathed easier at hearing that. As long as Mom still wanted to see her it meant things could be talked out and that was the most important thing. “What about Willow? She got pretty badly hurt during the fight. I know Xander healed her,” she rushed to add. “But it took a lot out of her, she was still pretty weak when she and Xander brought my camping stuff.”
“She's fine. Willow exhibited none of that unsteadiness the day after, it seems she only needed a few hours sleep and some breakfast. As for her summer, I've been teaching her seidr.” Giles must have misunderstood her confusion because he clarified, “It's the magic system that uses runes, you may recall I used it to help those ghosts a few months ago.”
“Oh, I know what it is,” Buffy said unhappily. “I had another encounter with it out in the desert. Got a souvenir and everything as a proof.” With those words she yanked down her top just enough to reveal Fragarach's hilt.
Stunned silence greeted her action. Finally, Giles managed to ask. “Is-is that a tattoo?”
“How did you get one out in the desert?” Miss Calendar asked interested. “It looks very well done, by the way.”
“Why did you get it?” Giles asked before Buffy even had a chance to answer his first question.
“It wasn't my choice,” she bit out. “I just got zapped to some cave where there was another item like Mjöllnir and there was this demon guarding it so Mjöllnir was adamant it couldn't stay there. I was dumb enough to listen so I killed the demon and was going to just grab it when there was a flash and next thing I know I'm sporting body art. Giles, Mom might be hunky dory with me being an Aesir now but I'll be grounded for life the minute she sees this.” And there she ran out of steam.
The flood of words left Giles blinking as he processed the information. “Ah, yes, that is a more likely explanation then some form of teenage rebellion.” Seeing Buffy's expression at that, he hurried along. “Right, yes, uhm, you wouldn't happen to know its name?”
“Mjöllnir called it Fragarach. Apparently it's decided to follow me around until it finds someone to wield it and this is the only way it knows how. Giles, it can't stay! I need you to find a way to get it off. Before Mom finds out!”
But Giles' mind seemed to have latched on to something else. “Fragarach you say? That's not a Norse name, but it does sound familiar... Yes, I've heard the name before but that sword was from Irish mythology.” Her Watcher went quiet then and Buffy recognized his look. He was talking with Gungnir now, probably getting the lowdown on the sword.“Which will include what I've already told you,”
the war hammer butted in. “The sword can't be removed against its will.”
'A girl can dream,' Buffy thought back. 'But I'm starting to think you're right. And that's a scary thought.'
Mjöllnir's affronted “Hey!”
lifted her spirits enough that she didn't want to dwell on the whole Fragarach issue any longer.
“So, you've been teaching Willow magic. How's she doing with that?”
“I, uhm,” Giles began embarrassed. “I, don't exactly know. Her artifact has been actually doing most of the tutoring, I've been more of an assistant to it really. Not an easy thing when you can't actually communicate with each other but we've managed.”
Buffy nodded. “Right, guess I'll just have to ask Willow directly. And how has Xander held up? What, with Cordelia gone and Willow studying he must have been pretty bored,” the blond clarified.
“Actually, Xander's had quite the eventful summer. He's found the hide-out of Loki's Children and he's living there now.”
“What?! What happened to his parents? And why didn't you let him live here instead of some cave or rundown warehouse?”
“Actually, it's a mansion,” Giles corrected her. “And he moved out of his parent's home on his birthday.” He must have seen Buffy's discomfort at missing her friends' eighteenth birthdays because he gently added, “You couldn't be there; we all understood that. I'm sure we'll have better luck next year.”
“Yeah, next year,” Buffy muttered. Shaking off her regret at missing their anniversary again, Buffy posed the question that first came to mind when she heard of Xander's new living arrangements. “The bad guys were living in a mansion?”
“An abandoned one,” Giles affirmed. “They'd also left some supplies behind and that's how Xander managed to afford it. He said it was a steal.” Her Watcher shook her head. “I personally don't see why he went for a dwelling as big as that, he's still busy effecting repairs, but he seems to be very happy with the arrangements so I've kept my peace on the matter.”
The blond Aesir nodded along. “Well, if I want to know how things are with Oz I should really be asking Willow and I can see Miss Calendar is doing fine.” Buffy couldn't stop a teasing smile from making its appearance.
“Ah, ehm, yes, well...” Giles spluttered as Miss Calendar blushed again.
“Giles, relax, I'm happy to see you both happy, together,” the blond finished making a vague gesture encompassing the two adults. “Angel still hasn't come home, has he?” she suddenly asked.
It earned her an understanding look from Giles. “No, Buffy. I'm afraid we haven't heard from him. But I'm sure he's fine.”
Buffy nodded at that, but couldn't help but feel a little worried. Soon it would be almost a year, a whole year. “Now,” Buffy started as she got up, “I better get going before very late becomes really early.”
Giles got up as well. “Are you sure? You can spend the night here and face your mother in the morning if you think that will help make the process go smoother.”
Buffy smiled at the concerned thought, but her answer was a firm no. “To be honest, I really want to soak in the bath for a few hours so I'm hurrying for a selfish reason to. I'll swing by the library tomorrow to tell you all about that cave and the demon,” she promised hefting her bag back on her shoulder.
With a quick wave and a hearty “Goodbye” to the both of them, Buffy went to the door. But Giles followed her seemingly uncomfortable about something.
“Buffy,” he began, “there is another matter you're not aware of. I... I'm sorry but Kendra is dead.”
The blond Aesir blinked. “What?”
“Sam called me with the news a day or two after you left,” Giles explained in a gentle voice. “She actually died before we became aware of Loki's Children. He, the poor man was devastated of course. It took him a while before he was collected enough to inform me of what had happened.”
Her mouth opened and closed, but she didn't know what to say. What she should say. So she settled for “How?”
“It looks to be vampires, and Sam Zabuto thinks it was Spike and Drusilla but there's only rumor that they were on the island at the time.”
“But I thought you'd warned them, after they skipped town?”
Giles nodded. “I did, and we stayed in touch after but Kendra couldn't stop patrolling and... It might have been some other vampire who got... lucky.” He shook his head. “I'm sorry to lay this news on you like this but I honestly couldn't come up with a better way or time to do so. How, uhm, are you feeling, I mean...”
“I'm...” Buffy interrupted haltingly trying to help her Watcher out. “I don't think I'm feeling as much grief as I should. I mean, she was, I knew her, Giles. But a lot of what I'm feeling is just shock and knowing she's gone. She was a friend and... I'm feeling nothing.” That wasn't right, Kendra deserved more.
“That doesn't make you a bad person, Buffy,” Giles assured her. “I'm sure it simply hasn't sunken in yet that Kendra is... gone.”
Buffy was unsure if he was right, but she nodded along anyway. “Yeah, that's probably it.” Silence descended as she tried to find something else to talk about. Something less painful. “Uhhh, so, who's the new Slayer?”
Giles' expression went from sad to cold. “I don't know.”
“The Council hasn't even informed me yet of Kendra's demise. If it weren't for Sam, I would not even know Kendra is dead. I have done some enquiries since but all I've gotten is vague promises that they'll get back to me.”
“Oh, well...” And there she trailed off because she didn't really have anything to add. It was strange, and on second thought, insulting. A young girl had just died for them, and they couldn't even be bothered to acknowledge that fact while they sat around in merry-old England drinking tea or whatever. 'It doesn't feel right.'
But telling her Watcher that might not be smart either. They were still his bosses and honestly, Buffy just wanted to go home and wash all the real world troubles away. Even if that only lasted until tomorrow morning. She looked around and found only darkened windows and a deserted courtyard.
“I should go now, I don't want to wake my Mom in the middle of the night. I'll see you tomorrow.” And with those words she took to the skies. Her mind already firmly home, floating in hot, soapy water.Revello Drive 1630
Curled up in the bed, the next book on the book club's list on her lap, Joyce still found her thoughts drifting away
from what she was reading. She found herself doing that more often now as time went on and she still had heard nothing of Buffy.
'She's been gone for more than a month now, and even her friends don't know where she is. Anything could have happened and...' Not wanting to finish that, Joyce wrenched her thoughts away from that topic. Oh, how it pained her to find out how little of her daughter's life she'd actually been involved in.
Finding out that Buffy's friends and her high school librarian knew her better than her own mother had thrown Joyce for a loop. An angry, panicky loop that had only gotten worse when she'd described her kidnappers to the police and had found herself walked out of the station with indecent haste right after. Their assurances that they would get to the bottom of it all would have rung hollow even if she hadn't know those kidnappers had already been... dealt with.
The confrontation the day after with Mister Giles had not started well, and Joyce had to admit that it was all her. But finding out that they too were superheroes, that her daughter wasn't alone, that had given her pause. Over the weeks, her anger had faded. Her worry, however, had risen just as fast. Worry for now, worry for later.
Her eyes returned to the book. Joyce was still trying to find where exactly she was on the page when the doorbell rung. Cautiously she made her way down the stairs, Mr. Giles had clearly explained the dangers of Sunnydale, and it was dark outside.
All of that was forgotten as she spotted a flash of blond through the glass of the door. Yanking the door open, her heart leapt into her throat as Buffy gave her a sheepish wave. “Hey, Mom,” she greeted with a soft voice.
Even as she bridged the distance between them, a part of her made note of all the little changes. The deepened tan of her skin, the fact that her hair was flowing free, and the inch in height Buffy had gained. And then her arms wrapped around her daughter and that little part of her mind became aware that Buffy had gained some muscle on her desert-trip.
But most of her was too busy being happy to pay attention to all that. Joyce tried to say something, welcome her home, to say how glad she was Buffy was whole and safe. But the words wouldn't come. So instead she tightened her hug to try and express it that way.
Buffy's answering hug was just as firm, but she had no problem speaking. “I'm home.”
Joyce only answer was a sniff and an upwelling of tears. She was making such a scene, but she couldn't bring herself to care. 'Buffy is home!'TO BE CONTINUED
Here's my Christmas present for all of you, I'll be posting one chapter per day for the next five days after which I'm afraid you'll have to wait quite a while for the rest. I want to get at least halfway writing the story before I post again.
So a Merry Christmas to you, my readers.