In Another Land
Buffy glared as the vampire dusted. They hadn’t expected to actually find any vampires in Highgate. While it was still a working cemetery, it didn’t have very many fresh graves. There were generally only one or two funerals a week, and mostly for older people. Yet somehow they’d still managed to stumble on a rising fledge.
Faith had all but fallen over laughing, leaving Buffy to handle it. On the bright side, it gave her a chance to work out some of her frustration. They’d really come for the atmosphere. It was practically second nature by now in both senior Slayers and the Scoobies when they were upset. Going for a walk in a cemetery was almost like being back home in Sunnydale, but usually with fewer vampires and lower risk of untimely death.
Faith folded herself into a sitting position on a nearby tombstone as Buffy brushed the dust off her jeans.
“Seriously, the one time we come here not looking for vampires there’s a vamp?” she snickered. “How many times have we patrolled this place and come up with nothing?”
“Only every other time we’ve been here,” Buffy replied with a hint of exasperation. Her brief workout hadn’t done much for her irritation level. “Typical, though.”
“You sound so British when you say that. You’ve got the accent down and everything. I wonder if Giles has noticed?”
“Sorry, B, but it’s true. And not exactly a bad thing- you’ve been based over here longer than Sunnydale by now.”
“Still think of California as home. At least, I did. Now I’m not sure where home is.”
“Yeah, about that… with the Slaying part over, you feel like talking about what’s really bugging you? I mean, we could be sleeping right now.”
Buffy’s shoulders sagged.
“I know. I should be getting a good night’s rest even though there are no minis underfoot that I’m setting a bad example for. But…”
Faith waited. It had taken her several years to get the hang of it, but she knew what to do when Buffy acted like this. Sooner or later, B would give it up and share what was really on her mind. But if you badgered her, she’d clam up.
“I guess I’m just nervous,” Buffy said. “I mean, it’s all so weird, even for us. Suddenly I have a father who’s not Hank and is presumably still alive somewhere. That might not be so bad. But if the lack of paperwork for her is anything to go by, the monks didn’t worry about the wider world when they sent Dawn to me, so he probably doesn’t know about Dawn, and I’m in not the little girl he lost. What if it’s too much for him to handle?”
“You’re doing it again, B.”
“Focusing on everyone else so you don’t have to think about your own issues. You’re worrying about Dawn, because your real pops might reject her. You’re worrying about him flipping out because the Slayer thing isn’t a little detail. What about you, Buffy? What do you think about all this?”
Buffy leaned against a sculpture of angel beseeching heaven.
“I still need time to wrap my head around it... I don’t know what to think. I mean, I guess it explains Hank walking away and never looking back- if he knew we weren’t really his responsibility it makes a lot more sense. I can understand him running away from the world we live in. Most people would if they had the choice.”
Much as she tried not to be bitter about it, Buffy couldn’t help the note that crept in. The last time she’d spent any time with Hank had been the summer after she killed Angel- the summer she’d tried to run away from being the Slayer. It hadn’t worked. She’d ended up on her own within a week.
“What do you remember about your real dad?” Faith asked quietly.
“Those memories… Family was everything. I was his little girl, his princess,” Buffy said softly. “But that girl is gone. Kelly hasn’t existed in a long time, and she isn’t coming back. I wouldn’t even know how to begin to go back to being anything like I was then. I’ve lived this life for longer than I lived that one.”
“You don’t have to try to be that girl, B,” Faith said. “No one expects you to. Just be you.”
“Not much choice,” Buffy said wryly. “I don’t know how to be anything else. But I don’t think my dad is going to understand.”
“You think he’s still going to be looking for his princess,” Faith said, starting to get what was really stressing Buffy about the situation.
“Why wouldn’t he be? The people we lose don’t age in our memory. I’m sure he’s still picturing a nine year old when he thinks of his daughter. I don’t know how they kept him from coming after me all this time, because if he knew where I was, he would have. But if this is going to work at all, I have to find a way to make him understand he can’t protect me anymore.”
“You’re worried if you give him half a chance, he’s going to try to anyway,” Faith said. “Which would probably go unbelievably badly.”
“How do you tell a Marine he can’t take care of his family?” she asked. “Of course, that’s assuming he wants anything to do with us. Twenty years is a long time. For all I know, he’s moved on. He’s probably remarried and has kids younger than us thinking about college and a wife who’s going to be completely thrown by his missing daughter showing up.”
“You think he got himself a shiny new family and isn’t going to be bothered about what happened to you? Right, B. Don’t tell Giles, cause I’d hate for him to have a heart attack on my account, but I did some research earlier. Parents of missing children don’t move on. They stay put. A lot of them keep the same house and same phone number. Just in case. Hoping maybe they’ll be the lucky one in a million whose kid turns up still alive years later.”
“Even if he hasn’t moved on, it’s still been twenty years of life lived separately for both of us,” Buffy said sadly. “It won’t be as easy as showing up and hugs and tears and everything’s great, even without trying to explain to him that he has two daughters instead of one.”
“Probably not, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see where this goes,” Faith said. “You sound like you’re ready to give up before you even try. The Council took a lot from you, B. You can deny that to most people- hell, to almost everyone else- but I know how it was. You’ve given up just about everything you can give at one point or another, and the most you’ve gotten in return was being voted class protector at SHS and the post-Initiative cleanup crew agreeing to leave you the hell alone. Maybe this is the Powers finally giving something back. You gotta admit, it’s the least they could do.”
Left unsaid was that it was also more than Faith had ever gotten.
“What about Dawn?”
“What is your dad like? What do you remember?”
Faith watched as Buffy’s face softened. It was the polar opposite of what mention of Hank did. Privately, she thought that whether B wanted to admit it or not, now that she remembered, she missed her daddy.
“He was great. He loved spending time with me and my mom. When we went on vacation, it was us time, not spend the whole time on the phone with the office time, and when he had friends over, I didn’t have to be some model child. It was ok to be myself. When he was deployed, I made tapes to send him so I could talk to him. He promised he’d come home as soon as he could- and he never broke promises.”
“One hundred eighty degrees from Hank. So why are you expecting him to react the way Hank would?”
Buffy chewed her lip thoughtfully.
“I don’t know. Habit, I guess.”
“Quit driving yourself nuts worrying. Your mom seemed pretty sure you were going to see him, and she seemed to think it was going to be ok. And I can’t imagine the guy you’re describing getting his long lost daughter back and going ‘wait, I didn’t sign up for a package deal’ over little D. So give it a shot. If he turns out to be an asshole, well, you tried.”
“I hope he’s not.”
Buffy had spoken so quietly she sounded like a little kid. Faith thought that it was like the girl she’d been once upon a time had come out to play for a minute.
“I hope so, too, B. Especially since those damn Navy cops will probably be telling him about Dawn and maybe even doing introductions before we get there. Now come on, let's get some sleep before we have to head for the airport.” ---
Giles was thankful it had been decided that coming to London tonight was a better idea than going from Council headquarters to the airport in the morning. The surviving remnants of the old Council archives were in London, not to mention a private contact list that he kept at his property. With Buffy, Willow, and Xander staying at Faith’s flat, it was safe for him to do some research of his own before leaving for Washington.
He had been reluctant to say so in front of the children, but the time frame of Buffy’s abduction had made him recall some of Travers’ more extreme tactics, and the furious undeclared war raging at the higher levels of the Council over the issue around that time. He wanted to ascertain before he faced a presumably angry father whether or not this was one more sin of the old Council he would be called to answer for.
The trouble, of course, was finding anyone else who had been around and high enough in the organization at that time who could answer his questions. He himself had been only a junior Watcher in those days, assigned to the British Museum. Once he was named Watcher to the Slayer and assigned to Sunnydale, he’d been granted access to the archives, but he’d had no reason at that point to delve into the Council’s internal politics. By the time he had reason, Travers had moved many of the most interesting files to headquarters, where he could personally control access to them.
Buffy’s actions had caused a considerable shakeup in the Council, but it was the First’s vicious war of attrition culminating in the destruction of the main Council building that had really decimated the ranks of the old stalwarts- and obliterated many of the records he might have found helpful in the present situation.
Giles flipped through his index, finally settling on one name in particular. He could only pray the old git would actually answer the phone… happily, the man was even more of a Luddite than he himself had been at his worst, and so unlikely to have anything as modern as caller ID.
“Good evening, I’m sorry to disturb you. No, don’t hang up. Of course this is not a polite social call- at this hour of the night? I’m well aware of your feelings about the Council. But you’re the only person I know of who might be able to answer my questions, and I need answers. You were Travers’ loyal lackey in those days, so you should be able to tell me- did the Council attempt to abduct a Potential from a Marine base in California? It would have been in 1991. Of course there is a reason I’m asking. What will I give you?”
Giles paused for a moment, trying to recall if this particular contact was aware of his Ripper days. If memory served, the man did know. He let the silence draw out a beat longer- just enough for it to be menacing.
“I’ll do you the favor of not coming to ask the question in person. Or sending one of the girls to ask. Many of them would be so happy to meet one of Quentin’s dear friends… there might even be a fight over who gets to claim such a sought-after assignment.”
He tried not to take satisfaction in the sniveling at the other end of the line.
“Yes, I rather thought you might.”---
Gibbs picked up the phone on the third ring. It had better be good, or he was going to tear DiNozzo a new one for calling after midnight- and it had to be DiNozzo. McGee had come a long way from the timid boy he’d been when he joined the team, but he still wasn’t brave enough to wake the boss.
“Hello?” he knew there was an edge to his voice.
There was silence at the other end of the line.
“Hello?” he repeated. Still no response.
“DiNozzo, this better not be your idea of a joke,” he snapped. “It’s 1am!”
“I’m terribly sorry, I have a wrong number,” a woman said.
The call was abruptly disconnected before he could reply. The slight British accent made him think it had probably been an international wrong number, which would explain the late hour. It was already morning in Europe.
He wouldn’t have thought anything of it had he not remembered that Dawn Summers said she and her sister lived in England. He punched the buttons to dial the last incoming call. He waited, trying not to get his hopes up, but the phone did nothing but ring. ---
Dawn stared at the laptop on the kitchen table. Ok, so she wasn’t the hacker Willow was, but she had picked up a few things over the years. How hard could it be to hack into a government agency?
“You know it’s a bad idea,” Graham told her, not for the first time that evening. “Wait until Willow gets here- it’s less than twenty-four hours. She can probably waltz in and out of NCIS’s systems without them noticing a thing. Unless you’ve got some skills you never mentioned before, you’ll get caught.”
Dawn pouted, trying not to glare at her boyfriend for being so damn reasonable.
“I want to know where Buffy’s really from. Where I’m really from. Who our parents are. And how the hell did we end up in Sunnydale?”
What she didn’t say out loud was that she also wanted to know if Mom had been her real mother or not. If the monks didn’t know Buffy was really someone else, maybe she and Buffy weren’t actually related biologically. Just because the monks had sent the Slayer a sister didn’t mean they had to be biological siblings. Faith was every bit as much their sister despite having not sharing genetics with them. Maybe Joyce was her mother but not Buffy’s. Having a father who wasn’t Hank Summers wouldn’t be so bad, but she didn’t want her mother to be some woman she’d never met who had never known her.
“I thought you ended up in Sunnydale because Joyce thought it was a good idea after Buffy got expelled from Hemery,” Graham said.
“You know what I meant,” Dawn replied, rolling her eyes.
“You meant how did you end up in California,” he replied. “Easy, your father was a Marine. He was probably stationed at Pendleton. Next question?”
“Where are we really from? And why did the Navy investigators do DNA testing on my locket?”
The look on Graham’s face said plainly that he had no answers to either of those questions, and knew perfectly well that her list of questions was considerably longer.
“Dawn, it’s 2 in the morning. Don’t you think you should maybe give it a rest? Since you’re determined to keep playing reindeer games with NCIS, you might want to get some sleep. Isn’t there a rule about that?”
“Pshaw,” Dawn retorted. “As long as I get 3 hours, caffeine will keep me going. Wait, did you say two?”
“Why is two special?” Graham asked warily. He’d been dealing with a heavily caffeinated and increasingly hyper girlfriend all night, and was already regretting mentioning the time.
“Because that means it’s past 7:30 in Rome, which is when Lara’s flight was supposed to land. So I can call her. Her mother was going to pick her up from the airport, and Lara is finding out if she can tell us anything about why the Council didn’t know about Buffy.”
“And she’s going to tell you this over the phone?” Graham asked skeptically.
He had dealt with the Council long enough to know that the really interesting conversations either involved magic or face to face, and details about what the Council had or hadn’t known about the senior Slayer definitely fell in the category that did not get talked about on the telephone.
Dawn deflated slightly.
“You have a point. But I can still call her!”
Graham sighed and headed for his bedroom. There was clearly no reasoning with Dawn, who was showing no signs of calming down enough to sleep anytime soon, and one of them needed to be well rested in the morning.
Dawn punched Lara’s number and was immensely cheered when her friend picked up at the first ring.
“You are very impatient,” Lara said, with no preamble. Despite the blunt greeting, she sounded amused.
“Wouldn’t you be?” Dawn asked.
“Quite probably,” Lara agreed. “I have been talking to Mamma. She is thinking about it, and she believes there was a girl in California, but she was killed in a car crash before they could extract her. Once they confirmed her death, they did not show any further Potentials in the area right up until your sister’s Calling. She is trying to remember the name now. If she does, I will text you. Can you sleep now?”
“Probably not,” Dawn said wryly, “but consensus is I should try to anyway.”
“Consensus is sensible, even if you aren’t. Go sleep. I will text you later- and by later I mean your morning or afternoon. Do not stay up thinking it will be soon. Oh- and you may tell your sister my mother would like to meet with her when convenient.”
Dawn grinned. Getting Lara to work with the Council was great, but getting Adriana Doria to agree to talk to them was nothing short of phenomenal. She’d worked with the Council long enough and at high enough levels to know where all the bodies were buried, including some from before Giles’ time. There was an upside to her awful, terrible, no-good Tuesday.
Dawn paused, reviewing what she had just said to herself. Maybe everyone was right and she should put down the coffee and go sleep…