Merry explained her living arrangements during the flight. Buffy worked hard not to show any reaction. She probably failed miserably, but she found it rather creepy to sleep with six men. She had no idea how Merry would even know who the father was if she did happen to get pregnant. Buffy had pretty much given up on the picket fence life with 2.5 children. Still she couldn't wrap her head around even the idea of a ménage à trois
, let alone ménage a harem
She didn't know how to tell them about her previous life. Dawn's face before she jumped into the portal flashed in her mind's eye. Maybe if she learned more about the fey and this world, it would help her to decide.
They arrived at a beautiful bungalow situated behind some movie star's mansion, very elegant, but crowded. Buffy didn't see how they could all fit.
"Maybe, I should get a job and find my own place."
"We'll work out the mechanics. I might be able to get you a job where I work. We do paranormal investigative work. Do you think you'd be interested?"
"I'm not sure Merry, maybe. Would you explain to me what the big deal about the Trains dude is?" Buffy asked seriously.
Rhys snorted in laughter and soon the others joined him. As if mentioning his name caused him to appear, they heard a voice from the bedroom.
"Merry, are you there?"
They hurried into the bedroom and moved over to the large mirror standing against the wall. Buffy saw an extremely handsome man with brilliant blonde hair and eyes that were three shades of iridescent blue.
"I need some information from you, niece," he said, smiling brightly.
"Hello, Uncle, what do you need?" Merry dreaded his answer.
"The Seelie Court felt a disturbance, which we traced to the Mound. Do you possibly know what it was?"
His glamour glowed even brighter as he hoped to influence his weak niece.
"Why would an incident on the Mound concern your court?" Merry queried, instantly wary of her uncle's motives.
Realizing he would have to tell her something, Taranis stated. "I'm invariably concerned about anything that could become a danger to my own court.”
It was an insult for Taranis to use his glamour on Merry, particularly when being evasive with answers.
Buffy stood back watching. She hoped to learn why the king was so interested in her. She could see through the glowing light surrounding him. It was like those pictures in the mall, if you didn't look at them but through them, you perceived what was hiding underneath. He had long blond hair and pale white skin. Buffy thought his eyes were pretty but he looked like a crazy vamp to her. Wonder if Merry knows her uncle needs to be on Prozac.
Doyle noticed Buffy looking at Taranis. He grew worried she would become fairy struck and rushed her from the room.
"Are you okay? Can you speak?"
"Of course I can speak. What's wrong with you?"
Buffy put her hands on her hips, glaring up at the Queen's Darkness. She thought these people were beyond weird, and they didn't even live on a Hellmouth.
"You should never look at the fey when they're using their glamour. With an unprotected mind, you'll crave to be with the Sidhe, any Sidhe like an obsession. Please, look at me."
Her mouth turned mulish, but she looked at him. Doyle was shocked by what he saw, her eyes were clear. Taranis' glamour had no affect on her. Unconsciously, he started to step back when he caught himself, and stood stock-still.
"What are you?"
"Capricorn on the cusp of Aquarius." Buffy gave her patented quip with a slight smile.
"Why are you unaffected by his glamour?" Doyle tossed back at her, becoming suspicious of this unusual girl.
"Don't know. Cuz, really don't know what you're talking about. Do you mean the glowy stuff surrounding him?"
She wrinkled her nose, trying to put the name with the effect. He nodded his head, observing her closely. She shrugged her shoulders slightly.
"It was bright at first. The longer I watched it seemed to fade away until all I saw was a man with long blonde hair. What's the big deal anyway?"
Buffy crossed her arms in frustration unable to understand his panic. Doyle had never faced this type situation, and was unsure how to proceed. The anger and frustration on her face didn't bode well for him.
When the others exited the bedroom, they found Doyle and Buffy facing off. Doyle remained silent and still, the very embodiment of darkness, while Buffy fairly glowed with frustration. They were polar opposites, yet they each held barely constrained power. It practically electrified the air around them.
"What's going on here?" Merry inquired, as she carefully approached the pair.
"She looked into the mirror at Taranis in full glamour," he stated blandly, never taking his eyes from the small blonde.
Merry rushed over grabbing Buffy's face. She wondered what the effects would be, especially with her consorts around. Buffy slapped Merry's hands away, causing the others to still. Everyone except Frost, he moved toward the two women, intending to protect the princess.
"I'm starting to get pissed off. Someone had better start explaining fast or there's going to be a very cranky sl..., err, Buffy, here and you don't want that."
Frost stepped closer, intending on putting his large body between Buffy and Merry. She turned to him as if she had felt his approach, and allowed the Slayer to fill her eyes and harden her voice.
"Whoa there Silver, don't make me hurt you."
Merry tried to soothe her lover and diffuse the situation. She placed a hand on his chest, while keeping her eyes on Buffy
"Everyone calm down. Frost, I touched her first. She's still learning about our ways. Since she's not Sidhe, no insult was meant or given.
She turned back to Buffy and tried her best to explain.
"Buffy, it’s very unusual for someone who isn't Sidhe to resist fey glamour. Taranis is the King of Light and Illusion of the Seelie Court. He can make his appearance so appealing you yearn for it. Yet, it had no affect on you." She took a calming breath, and continued. "Even some Sidhe can't resist him. Therefore, for you, a human girl, to do so is a mystery."
Merry had and idea about her newest guest, but needed to find proof before she said anything.
"Can we try an experiment with your permission?"
Buffy looked at Merry closely, as if reading her heart and mind for any sign of danger. She nodded her head trusting some inner voice.
"I'm going to ask someone to drop the glamour that hides their true self. Then, I want you to tell me what you see?"
Doyle protested, "Princess, she really will become fairy struck."
Merry reprimanded him, "Trust me Doyle. Do you agree Buffy?" Merry hoped the experiment wouldn't go horribly wrong.
"Fire, whenever you're ready." She closed her eyes.
Merry looked at Doyle. Ever since they defeated the Nameless, he could vanish from plain sight. His black eyes lit with understanding. Merry turned looking at everyone else. They dropped their glamours, causing their skin and eyes to glow as only a Sidhe could.
Buffy opened her eyes and looked around the room. She turned back to Merry with a bright smile.
"I like your eyes better this way that ugly brown so wasn't you."
She didn't wait for the princess to reply. Buffy turned away and headed over to the stairs. She ascended them part way, sat down and stared at the space beside her.
Merry looked concerned. Maybe I was wrong, and we've overloaded her mind.
Then, she heard Buffy talking. "Were you a naughty boy and got sent to timeout?"
They watched as Doyle appeared beside her. "How could you see me?" he asked in mild surprise.
"You were sitting in plain sight, Points, not like I could miss you. You really aren't a blendy kind of guy."
Rhys cracked up laughing and Galen soon joined him. Doyle gave the pair a cold stare.
"Come back and join us you two. Buffy, could you see Doyle on the stairs clearly?" Merry questioned, testing her theory.
"Yes! He was sitting right there. Merry, this is getting us nowhere."
Buffy threw her hands up, marching toward the backdoor. Frost went to stop her, but she shoved him back.
"Leave me alone, Silver, I need some time to think," Buffy grumbled, crankily.
"Merry needs to talk to you. We still need to discuss what Taranis wanted," Frost, pleaded.
"Back off. I need some space or someone's going to get hurt and it won't be me." Buffy raced out the back door, taking off toward the woods.
"Doyle, can you follow her? See to her safety please, I don't want her harmed," Merry pleaded.
He walked to the door, and slipped out without a sound. Merry didn't notice the others worried looks, as she started to pace.
Buffy ran while pictures flashed through her mind. Dawn, Mom, Angel and Giles, everything went by in a blur, like watching a film on a fast speed, too fast. She stopped to scream as loud as she could.
She fell to her knees as tears slipped down her cheeks.
"I did everything I could. Everything you expected me to do. Why am I here, in this strange place with nothing - no friends, no family, and no home? What am I supposed to do?" She implored in a wounded voice.
"You're supposed to help save a dying race."
Buffy spun around; there stood Whistler, leaning against a tree in his awful clothes and dorky hat perched jauntily on his head. She stalked up to him, grabbing his throat and pinning him against the tree.
"What the hell are you doing here? Why am I here? And, no cryptic crap this time."
Buffy wouldn't mind taking her anger out on Whistler. He had only brought her pain and heartache
"Don't kill the messenger kid, literally. Uh, could you set me down? Can't talk too good this way," he asked in a choked voice.
She dropped him, stepping back to stare at him coldly.
"The Powers didn't see you jumping kid. They had other plans for you. Since you can't return, they chose to send you here." Whistler straightened his clothes while he explained.
"Is there a grocery list or something? Until it's complete, I have to keep being the slayer," Buffy growled out, not liking the explanation.
"You aren't the Slayer anymore that's another world, and another Slayer has already been called. The Powers only have so many outstanding champions. They keep them around for the big stuff, and you're at the top of the list," Whistler said, with a smile.
"You mean because I'm good, they want to keep me around like some kinda slave?"
"Uh, I wouldn't put it that way. Think of it as a new adventure, like being an astronaut or something. This is your world and you're going to have to get used to it. Listen kid, your jumping changed things, now you have to live with the consequences. Your body absorbed the portal's power. The Powers felt they had to send you here so the power could help this world."
Buffy blinked at this unexpected curveball. "What do you mean absorbed into me? What's in me? How do I get it out? They can get it out right?" Buffy asked in a panicked voice.
"Sorry kid, its your responsibility, now. You have to learn how to utilize it. Ask the princess, she's had to learn about new powers recently, and should know how to help you."
Whistler tried to move away before Buffy could grab him. Her hand reached out to snag him, before he could take more than one step.
"Oh no, Mr. Cryptic Midget, you're so not leaving me with no information. Not this time. New world, new rules and you're going to explain this to me, right now. How did the portal change me? What did you mean about saving a race?"
Buffy shook him for emphasis. Secretly smiling when his head bounced against the tree.
"Easy there, I'm breakable."
Buffy's eyes narrowed when his frown turned into an enigmatic grin.
"Glad to see you have some smarts after all."
"You mean all I had to do was threaten you and you would've told me everything," Buffy growled, then shook him harder.
"Okay, okay! Here's the scoop. The portal's power made you immune to this world's magic, and allows you to open a portal to any place you can picture in your mind." Before Buffy could say anything, he continued, "There's no going back, so don't ask. The Powers amped up your Slayer powers so they're in tune with this world. You probably didn't notice it, but the fey are much more powerful than what you're used to dealing with. Think Adam on steroids."
Whistler chuckled when her eyes grew large. He broke out laughing when she glanced down at the arm that still held him against the tree. She stared at it as if she wasn't sure it belonged to her.
"Slayer, the fey are fading as they call it. The princess is the last child born to them, and she's part human. That's where you come into the picture."
"What! I'm not going to have babies for the Powers, no way!" Buffy squealed in shocked horror, dropping him in the process.
"Would you hold on? Yeesh. They don't expect you to have babies for them. They want you to help those chosen by the Powers to become pregnant."
He watched her eyes light with anger, and rushed to complete the explanation.
"Your Slayer dreams will tell you who to help. Bye kid."
Whistler disappeared in a flash. Buffy stared at the empty space and proceeded to throw a Slayer fit.
"Damn, damn, damn you didn't explain to me how I'm expected to help them have babies. You slimy, bad dressing, cryptic midget, I'll get you, just you wait."
Buffy turned to walk back to the house. She stopped, and stared into the shadows. Great, another unwanted visitor. Her thoughts lightened at the prospect of working out her anger the best way she knew.
"Pointy, it isn't nice to spy on people. Come out here so I can kick your ass."
Doyle appeared from the shadows, several yards away. His expression was as dark as his skin.
"Who's that man? Where'd he go? I believed that you didn't know anyone here. You are a spy; I'll not allow you to hurt Merry."
Doyle hurled Snick & Snack at Buffy. His expression turned from anger to shock when she caught the twin daggers. Never had he missed when using his magical blades. Buffy ignored him as she balanced the blades in her hands, testing their weight.
"These will do in a pinch, though I prefer the crossbow." Buffy raised an eyebrow in challenge. "Are you going to just stand there, or do you wanna dance?"
After everything that had happened today, she could use a nice fight to unwind. Doyle observed her ready stance, his own daggers in her hands, clearly showing her experience as a warrior. He pulled Bainidhe Dub
, Black Madness, from his back as he advanced on her. The black sword gleamed in the afternoon sun. Doyle knew his duty was to protect Merry and he had no intention of allowing this girl to hurt her.
When he slashed his sword downward, Buffy caught it between the daggers. She held him there effortlessly and smiled, a real smile, for the first time. Doyle caught his breath. She's beautiful and fierce, like Boadicea.
Shoving him backward, Buffy slipped into his personal space when he swung at her. She kicked his stomach, before slipping down on one hand to shoot a foot up at his hands. The angle caught him just right. It dislodged the sword from his hand. Doyle looked at her in surprise; he'd never been disarmed. His hands went numb from the kick's power, shaking it off, he went for the sword but Buffy beat him to it.
"I need a good work out. So, to make this more entertaining," she said casually flipping the daggers.
Doyle expected her to send them at him; instead, they flew into a tree, yards away. As they stuck side-by-side, Buffy gave him a predatory smile.
"How about this? If I beat you in a fair fight, you don't tell anyone about the magic midget. You win, and I tell you everything." He thought about it a moment, then gestured in agreement. "Okay, just you and me - no blades, no swords. Feet and fists, let's dance."
She surged into a spinning, scissor kick, smacking him against the head - hard, as her feet hit one after the other. Doyle barely caught himself from falling. By the Mound, are her feet made from stone?
He turned in time to catch her foot in a high kick but wasn't prepared, for the other one. Buffy used his hold for balance, putting pressure behind the other foot, when he released her foot she flipped over, and stood ready for him. Doyle punched her jaw, causing her to fly back. Buffy went with the punch into a handstand, grabbing his head with her feet, drawing him down and applying her finger to his throat.
"Do you yield?" she snarled. How could this happen?
Staring into cool green eyes, Doyle responded coldly. "No."
Arching his back to shove her off, he kicked her in the stomach.
"Didn't think you would."
Buffy was enjoying herself. She sprang up to hit him full force to the chest. Doyle flew back into a tree. He struck it so hard he barely remained responsive.
"I yield," he muttered softly.
"Its okay, Pointy. I'll tell Merry everything as soon as I can wrap my head around it."
Buffy walked over bending to pick up the black sword.
"Buffy," Doyle yelled in warning.
She grabbed the sword, trotting back over to him. "Are you okay? I didn't hurt you, did I?"
Doyle could clearly see she held the Black Madness in her small hands with no ill effects.
"Let me help you up. Oh, here's your sword."
Buffy easily pulled him up, sliding the black sword into its case. She put her arm around his waist to help him back to the house. Doyle felt shocked as they stopped to retrieve Snick & Snack and he saw the blades buried to the hilt. What is this girl? She's no mere human, or any type fairy I know.
He felt her once again wrap her arm around his waist to help him walk. Doyle didn't need the assistance, having already recovered from the fight. After everything he had heard and seen, the man known as the Darkness, felt as if he stood in the dark with no idea of what was taking place.
"Pointy," softly unsure how to say it, Buffy asked.
"Doyle, my name's Doyle," he stated firmly.
Buffy grinned up at him as she asked, "Okay, Doyle, do you remember how to get back to the house?"
He laughed, pointing the way home.
Merry looked worried when Doyle and Buffy returned. Buffy had her arm wrapped around Doyle's waist and they strolled close together talking. Merry felt her body fill with jealousy. Of all her consorts, Doyle still kept his distance from her. She suddenly realized Buffy was helping him walk as if he was hurt. She rushed from the house with the others close behind her.
"What happened were you assaulted?" Merry asked, as her eyes swept their bodies for wounds.
"No, we just sparred," Buffy absently admitted. “I only broke him, a little. He'll be okay."
Buffy missed the shock that went from one person to the next. It stopped when it reached Frost. She was still mulling over everything Whistler told her.
"You beat Doyle in a fight?" Frost asked, looking from the former Captain of the Ravens to the small blonde.
"Yeah, what about it, Silver?" Buffy still wasn't happy with him from earlier.
"What kind of sparring?" Rhys asked, trying to think of a style Doyle hadn't mastered.
"Blades, then we moved to hand-to-hand. It was just what I needed. I'm going to take a bath, then a long nap," Buffy commented as she walked by the others, and into the house.
"If you value your life, Rhys, don't say a word," Doyle growled. "Princess, what happened after we left the bedroom?"
Merry released a frustrated sigh, before recounting what she knew. "Taranis' seers know something happened in the Sithin. He wanted to know what it was and hoped I would tell him. There's something more to it, but he wouldn't tell me."
"The seers knew about Buffy's arrival, and that it’s somehow significant to the Sidhe. The important question is to whom," Frost said what everyone was thinking.
"Perhaps, we can help her find out. I'm worried the Seelie Court will send spies. What happens when they find out about Buffy? Will they try to take her?"
Merry pondered the implications. She knew about her great Uncle's secret. If she had to, she would use it. Merry felt Buffy was important to her and the fey.
"I believe she's going to require her own personal guard. Someone she trusts intuitively. Doyle, will you contact my aunt, please?"
He bowed his head, moving into the house. Frost wrapped his arms around her as she leaned into him. She had finally realized she loved him, and would be extremely happy if he got her pregnant. Frost would be a good consort and father to her child. If only she could control her future, but she was a pawn chased by time.
"The Queen's waiting for you, princess," Doyle called from the house.
She rushed inside to keep Andais from waiting. Terror raced through her body as she tried to prepare for what she was about to do.
"Merry, what's the purpose of this meeting." Andais scowled, already unhappy with her niece.
"Taranis contacted me, aunt. His seers forewarned him about what happened at the Mound. There's more to this; the Seelie Court is unduly interested. Buffy needs a guard she trusts, and I humbly request one. The only person she seemed to like was Barinthus. Would you permit him to watch over her?"
She watched her aunt, almost afraid what she would see or hear. A silent prayer went out to the goddess, in hopes she would have mercy on them.
"Merry, do you want all my Ravens?” Silence hung heavy between the, before she continued. “She may have Barinthus. I discharge him from my service. I won't want him back once that girl has further contaminated him.”
Merry wasn’t sure whether to sigh in relief, or worry more, with her aunt’s words.
Andais gave her no time to ponder this further, as she announced, “He’s accountable for anything she does. Do we understand each other, niece?"
The queen stared at Merry coldly, before disappearing. Merry fell to the bed in confusion, and no little bit of fear.
"She released Barinthus from duty. What in the world's going on? What happened between her and Taranis, or her and Buffy?"