Chapter 22: Home
Twenty minutes later at 1630 Revello Drive, a chagrinned Carter held a bag full of ice to the back of her head. “I can’t believe I did that,” she muttered with an embarrassed moan.
“Don’t worry about it,” Buffy said nonchalantly. “It happens to the best of us.”
“But not to me – I’m a soldier,” Carter wailed, her cheeks burning in remembrance. “I’m programmed to weather any situation.”
“Don’t worry, Carter, we won’t tell anyone,” said Jack with a smirk. “Your tough girl image is safe.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Ignore him,” she said, as she walked around the living room, taking note of the little changes here and there. She had been gone three days, and the house no longer felt like home.
“Does anyone want coffee?” said Joyce as she walked into the room.
“Let me get this,” Buffy said, hurrying to take the platter.
“Thank you,” said Joyce with a sweet smile. “I’m glad that everyone is home safe.”
“Do we have enough room for everyone?” Buffy asked distributing various cups.
“We have plenty of room if you guys don’t mind bunking in the living room,” Joyce said, taking her own cup of coffee from Buffy.
“Thank you, Ms. Summers,” said Giles. “It’s a little bit late to go by my house, and the kids need some rest.”
Adam walked over to Buffy. “How we are going to do this?” he asked.
“Do what?” she asked with a frown, having no idea what he’s talking about.
“The rooming situation,” he said gesturing to those assembled around the room. “Is there a hotel where we could bunk?”
“No, but there is a motel on the other side of town,” she said.
Giles gazed around the room. “I have room, but…”
“How about this,” said Joyce decisively. “Tomorrow night, Mr. McLeod, Mr. Dawson, and Adam will stay with Mr. Giles. And if Jack, Ms. Carter, Mr. Jackson, and Murray don’t mind they can stay here. But tonight, the gentlemen can stay in the living room.”
“How about Faith?” asked Buffy.
“Both you and Faith will share a room, and Willow if she doesn’t mind.”
“I don’t mind,” Willow said yawning hugely, her eyes shadowed.
“Good,” she said. “And Ms. Carter, if she doesn’t mind, can share mine.”
“It’s Major Carter,” Carter said more shakened than she cared to admit. The last forty-eight hours were just a whirlwind of emotions. She usually was more decisive, more take charge, but right now, she felt like a fish out of water.
“Okay, Major Carter,” Joyce said with an inclination of her head.
“An apartment with four women, sweet,” Jack said grinning
“Where’s Faith?” Buffy asked curiously, noting the other Slayer’s absence.
“Patrolling,” Joyce said flatly. She knew someone had to patrol, but she rather wished it wasn’t Buffy or Faith, but some anonymous stranger, whom she didn’t have to worry about.
Faith walked quickly down the street, her body unconsciously ready to do battle as she turned onto 1630 Revello Drive. Halfway down the street, she noticed there were several unfamiliar cars parked on the street, especially in front of Joyce’s house. Joyce
, she thought, hurrying to the door.
“It seems like Joyce has guests,” Angel said quietly behind her, matching her steps.
“Yeah,” Faith said with a frown. What kinda person visits at 3:00 o’clock? No…
she thought, looking at the functional watch on her wrist. …at 3:30 in the morning.
She took a quick glance at Angel, still not sure how she felt about him being her partner. When she first met him, she had seen how hot he was, and she grew envious of B. Then, the gang told her about all the atrocious things he had done. At first she was afraid, but after getting to know the soul inside of him, she saw what Buffy had seen.
And during the last couple of days, Angel had talked, really talked to her. She hadn’t had someone like that in a long time, someone who would take the time and effort like Joyce and Angel did. She had missed it. Her Watcher was like that. But Angel had told her some truths she had to hear. He said he had taken note of the wildness within her and how she had to channel it so that she didn’t hurt the wrong person. He told her that she had to let go of the animosity and hurt she was feeling inside, or it was going to hurt her in the long run. He promised that he would always be there, and if he wasn’t, then Joyce would be there to help.
And for the first time ever, Faith had broken down and cried. When her Watcher had died, she couldn’t take time to grieve because she was too busy running, so she had channeled the pain and hurt into killing demons and vampires. That was good, but in the end, she had missed a lot. And one thing she had missed was the friendship and love of a sister. Maybe that is why she resented Buffy.
She couldn’t believe B trusted her into her home and with her mom. When she received the phone call a couple of days ago, she almost freaked. She was both scared and elated, but she had packed her meager belongings and hopped on that gravy train. It was weird living under a roof that had so many restrictions, especially after living most of her life on the streets. But she wouldn’t admit it to anyone but herself that she loved it. It was almost like having a mom.
Thinking about Joyce as her mom, reminded her how it was kinda freaky to find out that B was ten thousand years old and Joyce wasn’t her mom. Buffy didn’t even look that old. Joyce had explained what she could about what she had understood of being immortal. It sounded so farfetched to her, but after seeing some freaky deaky shit, who was she to throw stones.
She glanced back at Angel who nodded.
“They are all human,” he said.
Her hands touched the doorknob, and with a slight hesitation, she walked inside the house. She froze for a second as she saw Buffy across the room. It was not as if she didn’t expect her to come home, but for a minute there, she felt resentment that she was there. But it was Buffy’s house after all. Not one to show her vulnerability, she strolled nonchalantly into the house, her hips swaying seductively. “What’s up B,” she said, walking over to the coffee pot to pour herself a cup.
All eyes turned to watch her swaying hips.
Seeing the men’s reaction, Buffy scowled. Faith is a baby.
Angel stood silently at the front door, a shadow. His eyes moved swiftly around the room, noting the strangers. And his eyes rested on Buffy. Buffy Summers
, he thought. When he had first met her, her name was Isabella O’Neill. Something about her had called to the demon inside, and when he received the soul, it had followed suit. Part of him had always believed they would be together; therefore, he had watched and waited for the perfect opportunity for her to get over Jack. But she never did. At one point over the summer, he had thought that finally she had stopped grieving, but then he had lost his soul. Now he knew that they could never be.
“Hey Faith,” Buffy called walking over to the young girl to give her a hug.
Faith stiffened, but after a minute leaned into the hug.
“Everyone, this is the Slayer, Faith Lehane, and Faith, this is everybody,” she said.
“Hey,” Faith said sipping at the cup, after Buffy released her. She grimaced at the bitter taste and put it down. “Full house, I see,” she said glancing around speculatively.
“Yes,” said Buffy also looking around. “It was unexpected.”
She froze after seeing Angel. Part of her had known he was in the room. Even though they were no longer together, they still had a bond that not even Jack could separate. “Hey Angel,” she said softly.
“Buffy,” he said equally as soft.
Both Adam and Jack frowned as they too spied the vampire in their midst.
Angel bared his teeth in a parody of a smile that acknowledged both men.
Feeling the tension in the room, Daniel whispered, “What’s going on?”
“Old boyfriend,” Xander whispered back.
“Really?” murmured Carter looking at the dangerous-looking man at the door.
“Yeah,” said Willow. “But we don’t talk about it.”
“Why?” Carter asked curiously.
Willow looked at Carter, then to Jack and Buffy. Biting her lip, she said, “Long story.”
Carter looked at the party involved speculatively. That was one story she needed to hear,
“So B, what’s going on?” asked Faith leaning against the wall, sizing up the people in the room. Same hotties from the last time
, she mused, her dark eyes looking at them appreciatively. New hotties
, eying Teal’c, Daniel, Jack, and a major babe. She frowned. Something was off with the big guy. Her eyes narrowed. She’ll have to keep an eye on him. At least he’s not bad looking.
Buffy looked at Jack, and he nodded his head slightly. “Where do I start?” muttered Buffy.
“My best bet,” said Giles, “is to always start at the beginning.”
She sighed. “Let me introduce Angel and Faith first. Guys, this is Dr. Daniel Jackson, an archaeologist, and Murray, no last name,” she said with a smile, gesturing.
“Like Cher?” asked Joyce.
Faith frowned, eying the big man thoughtfully. Something about him was giving her the wiggins.
“Yes,” Buffy said with a smile.
“Or like a Slayer,” said Faith.
“Or like Slayers,” Buffy acknowledged.
“Why did they do that?” asked Willow.
“I used to ask myself that same question, then I figured it out. It’s about power.”
“Power? Why do you say that,” she asked with a frown.
“Because when the Watchers erase your identity, you become dependant on them for everything – food, shelter, etc. They isolate you. You have no friends, no family. The only person that you have to depend upon is your Watcher. And if your Watcher dies, then you are adrift. In the meanwhile, you become the perfect soldier, existing only in your mind. You are an enigma. And when you no longer can function under their rule, you become expendable.”
“Oh dear God,” said Giles. “I never thought of it like that.”
Buffy shrugged. “I have had years to see what the Watcher’s Council has been doing. Remember Kendra,” she said abruptly.
Willow glance quickly at Angel, who stiffened. “Yes,” she said quietly.
“Do you remember how stiff she was? How it was ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’?”
“She was the perfect example of isolation. She had had no one except an old man for company. Because of that, Watchers and Slayers sometimes ended up having a relationship.”
“Oh,” said Willow, her eyes round, looking from Buffy to Giles.
“Eeww,” Buffy said shuddering, noticing where her eyes rested. “It’s Giles,” she said with a shocked air. “We would…I would never have a relationship with him. It’s like eeww. It would be like incest.”
“Thanks Buffy,” he said dryly.
“Under that tweed, you’re probably a stud, but you just don’t ring my bell,” she said to him.
“Can we change the subject?” he asked plaintively, taking off his glasses and pulling out his ever-ready handkerchief to start polishing them.
Joyce smiled behind her coffee cup. It was great to see Mr. Giles flustered. Since that incident several weeks ago when they had sex, he had been avoiding her like the plague.
Buffy took a deep breath. “But I digress. We have Major Samantha Carter and Colonel Jonathon O’Neill, Jack to his friends. And I don’t know if you remember Duncan McLeod and Joe Dawson. And I know you definitely remember Adam, Angel. He definitely remembers you,” she said wryly.
Angel arched one of his eyebrows.
“Is this the same husband that I heard about a couple of days ago?” Faith asked, eying Jack up and down.
Buffy nodded, with a slight blush.
“Dang B, you got yourself a stud. I can’t understand how you could leave this fine specimen to wither on the vine.”
“Faith!” said Giles groaning aloud.
Teal’c’s eyebrows rose. He didn’t understand what the young lady had said, but O’Neill seemed to be blushing. He looked around the room noting the grins on everyone’s faces.
“Did I hear you mention ranks of Colonel and Major?” Faith asked surprised.
“The Military?” asked Faith with a frown. “What is the military doing in Sunnydale? And what branch of the military are you?” she demanded.
“Air Force,” Jack said, taking note of the Slayer. Without even having an introduction, he would have known she was a Slayer. It was the way she talked and the ways she walked, although with her, she oozed sex. She was a predator, a warrior. She had the same kind of look like Bella. That look said she had been to war, but she had survived. He wished that Carter and Daniel could see that same look in Bella’s eyes, then they would understand that she would make a great leader. But they only saw the outer surface that she liked to show to the world. He glanced at Teal’c. He didn’t think he would have made the same mistake as Danny and Sam. But he noticed that part of Bella’s appeal as a great soldier was that others always underestimated her, not only for her appearance but also for the way she acts. This Faith seemed the same but different. Vastly different
, he thought, noting the tight leather pants and the faded black t-shirt that had some sort of writing on it. He squinted trying to make out the words.
Faith saw Jack’s eyes on her chest, smirked, and gave him a wink.
Jack glanced up in time to see that wink, and with a brief grin, acknowledged her wink with his own. She seemed wild, unpredictable
, Jack thought still trying to make out the words on her shirt. She hasn’t reached Bella’s measure of maturity yet. Maybe like all things, wisdom came with age because he remembered that Bella was like this once. Eons ago. Bella had told him a little about her life in Sunnydale and most of all about her sister Slayer. Physically, she and Bella were night and day. Finally, he saw what was written of the shirt: “Vampires like to do it in the dark.”
“You want me to start at the beginning?” Buffy asked.
She sighed. She started pacing around. Start at the beginning
, she chanted under her breath. She took a deep breath and told them why the military was in the Sunnydale. She also told them about the Goa’uld and why they were dangerous. She admitted that she thought she had left that life behind her, but there was that picky thing called destiny, karma, or fate. She didn’t know which. But it was using her to fight the wrongs that needed to be fought. It was her job – and Faith’s and all those Slayers yet to come – to maintain the balance.
Faith and Joyce could only sit there and stare at them in disbelief. But Angel had known about this before.
Buffy continued to tell them about Stargate Command and what it stands for. Then she dropped a bomb: in their midst, there was a living alien.
“Oh my God,” Joyce gasped, looking around the room.
“Teal’c, show them,” said Buffy.
“No!” both Daniel and Sam protested.
Teal’c eyed Buffy for a moment and came to an internal decision with a nod. He stood and unbuttoned his shirt to show his dark skin.
“Whoa!” said Xander scrambling back. “You mean to tell me, he has a baby Goa’uld inside there,” Xander pointed, looking at the x-shaped mark on Teal’c’s stomach.
“Yes indeed.” Teal’c said with mild inflection. After all this time, he thought he had gotten used to the curiosity of others. At least he was able to hide the mark of a Jaffa, but not the gold emblem on his forehead.
“How can you stand it?” asked Willow appalled. “Does it hurt?”
“No,” he said. “I have no other choice, Willow Rosenberg. It is my life; without it, I would die.”
“Oh,” she said.
“The reason I’m telling you this,” said Buffy, “is that a Goa’uld is in Sunnydale.”
“What?!” said Faith, jerking up in surprise. Aliens
, she thought. Nothing more should have surprised her. She frowned; she thought she was jaded, that she had seen and heard it all, but she’s been proven wrong.
“Yeah, that is why I’m back so early. A Goa’uld is in Sunnydale.”
“The Hellmouth,” Buffy said succinctly. “It’s a mecca of weird things. But since the Goa’uld look ordinary and act human until it is too late, everyone is vulnerable to attack except for me, Major Carter, Teal’c, Adam, Jack, and Angel.”
“Why not Angel?” Daniel asked puzzled. “Was he host to a Goa’uld?” he asked.
No,” said Carter frowning thoughtfully. “I would sense it, although there is something different about him.”
“So would I, Major Carter,” said Teal’c.
“Angel is a vampire,” Buffy said.
“Angel is a vampire,” she said. “Show them.”
“Buffy, this is not show and tell,” said Jack dryly.
Buffy gave him a speaking glance.
He held up his hand in surrender.
She turned back to Angel and said, “Show them.”
Angel looked at her for a moment and showed his true face. The monster within. His forehead ridged, his teeth elongated, and his eyes turned gold.
“Oh dear God,” said Sam scrambling backwards in her chair.
“As I stated earlier, Sunnydale is a mecca for demons. When you are not watching out for Goa’uld, you need to watch out for vampires and demons. Most vampires are night creatures, but the older ones can be out in the day as long as they avoid direct sunlight. Just like the Goa’uld, some demons looked human. But if they attack you, then you attack them back.”
“Buffy O’Neill, how do we kill a vampire and a demon?” asked Teal’c.
“Most vampires are easy to kill. Sunlight can kill them or fire. You can decapitate them and the trusty stake will work. Just aim for the heart.”
“Thanks Buffy,” Angel said dryly
“What about garlic and a cross?” asked Daniel, who seemed to be taking notes.
She smiled. “Well, some of the myths are true. Garlic will annoy the hell out of vampires, and the cross represents religion, so that will hurt them. With that in mind, I want each of you to wear a cross. I have some holy water, which you guys can carry somewhere on your person. It is like acid on a vampire’s skin. Regarding the average demons, guns might work on them, but swords or a sharp knife would probably work best,” she said.
“How about a Zat'ni'katel?” asked Daniel.
“A Zat'ni'katel,” Buffy mused.
“It’s a weapon, like a stun gun,” he said. “We call it a Zat
“I know what a Zat, is,” she said.
Daniel gave her sharp look.
“Mmm,” she murmured, biting her lip in concentration. “It might work,” she said thoughtfully. “Whatever you want to carry as weapons is your choice. But remember, not all nonhuman-looking demons are the bad guys and not all human-looking demons are the good guys. So you have to be careful you don’t hurt the wrong person.”
“I am still puzzled about the idea of demons,” said Carter.
“Aren’t we all,” she said dryly. “What do you want to know?” asked Buffy.
“You stated that vampires are also demons…”
“…but I heard you dated Angel,” asked Carter puzzled.
Buffy gave Xander and Willow a speaking glance.
Xander found his shoelaces fascinating and Willow avoided Buffy’s gaze.
“So,” she said, shrugging negligently.
“But you are a Vampire Slayer, you kill demons,” said Carter.
To stave off the inevitable fight he could see coming a mile away, Giles said diplomatically, “Buffy always was different and so is Angel. He has a soul.”
“A soul?” Carter questioned.
“All vampires are demons and they have no soul, no conscience if you will. They will attack anyone just to survive. But because of Angel’s soul, he is able to differentiate right from wrong. He is not a mindless monster. To survive, he is able to get blood from the local butchers. Also his help is valuable in our endless fight against evil.”
“But aren’t any of you afraid?” asked Carter.
“Yes,” said Willow.
“Of Angel?” Buffy said nonplussed.
“Willow,” Angel said quietly, his face dark with pain, “I would take off my right arm before I would hurt you.”
“But you did before,” she pointed out.
“I was Angelus,” he said as if that said it all.
“What guarantees that you wouldn’t hurt me again?” she asked, one eyebrow raised.
“Me,” Buffy butted in quietly. She frowned; she didn’t like where this conversation was going. She needed to nip it in the bud. What is going on with Willow?
She rather expected something like this from Xander, not her. “Before, it was emotion that stopped me from doing my duty. But I learned my lesson. I would do what it takes to stop him.”
There was an acute silence, broken only by Joyce asking if anyone wanted more coffee.
After thirty minutes of talking and hashing out a plan on where they needed to look for the Goa’uld, Angel walked towards the front door. “It’s time for me to leave,” he announced. “It will be sunrise soon.”
“I’ll walk you out,” Buffy said, struggling to get out of the comfortable chair she was snuggling in with Joyce.
“No, let me,” Jack said walking over to the other man.
Buffy eyed Jack considerately for a moment. “Are you sure?” she asked.
He nodded and opened the door.
“Jack,” Buffy called, as he followed Angel onto the porch. “Behave.”
“Don’t I always?” he said with a brief grin, shutting the door on the curiosity seekers.
She frowned at the closed door.
“So?” Jack said as he walked over to stand beside Angel, his hands stuffed in his trousers’ pocket as he looked out at the night.
“So,” echoed Angel.
“Still a vampire, eh?” asked Jack.
“Still an asshole,” Angel snapped, “I see?”
“Hey,” said Jack placatingly. He promised he would be good. He took a deep breath and turned to Angel. “How are you?”
Angel nodded. “I’m fine.”
“I heard about what you went through several weeks ago. That must have been rough,” Jack said sympathetically.
“It was, it was, but with Buffy’s help, we dealt with it.”
“So I heard,” Jack said. “I’m sorry about how everything worked out.”
“Are you?” he asked pointedly.
“Of course,” Jack said surprised. “I love Bella, and I know you love her too. It has taken fifty years apart to appreciate how wonderful she is. And yes, I begrudge you for being with her those fifty years, taking care of her and loving her.”
“I thought I smelled you on her and her on you,” Angel said with sigh.
“Yeah,” he said with a smile. “We made up.”
“You know she was always in love with you,” Angel said quietly. “For awhile there, because you weren’t here, both of us deluded ourselves into thinking that she was in love with me.”
“I don’t think it was delusion,” Jack protested, his eyebrows furrowed. “I know for a fact she loves you.”
“Yeah, but not like she loves you.”
“Maybe or maybe not. I can see the bond between the two of you, a bond I could never erase even if I tried. She loves you, man. I accept that. It kills me, but I accept it,” Jack said quietly.
Angel nodded, turning up the collar on his coat, and blended into the night.
Jack watched for a few minutes, opened the door, and walked inside.
“Are you alright?” Buffy asked quietly. She was waiting beside the door as he came in.
“It’s fine. We talked about stuff. Things that needed to be said. It’s all out in the open,” he said gathering Buffy into his arms for a tight squeeze.
Buffy lay on the bed in her bedroom that no longer felt like hers. Just like the living room, there were subtle signs of change. Like the chair. She liked the chair next to the bed, but now it’s across the room.
She lay there staring at the familiar ceiling trying to sleep. She tried counting sheep, but it wasn’t helping. One of the sheep refused to jump over the bed. She shifted, muttering under her breath, and her hand bounced off the back of Faith’s head.
“What,” Faith said groggily. “B? What time is it?” she asked peering at the bedside clock.
“Five o’clock,” Buffy said, listening to the morning outside. She could hear traffic and birds, and people’s voices as they rose to start their morning ritual.
“Five? In the morning?” Faith said in disbelief, blinking at the digital numbers on the face of the clock. “What are you doing waking me up? Wake me up in couple more hours,” she grumbled, turning to go back to sleep.
She lay on the bed for a few minutes until the question burst out of her. “Are you okay?” Buffy asked quietly.
Faith stiffened. “Of course I’m okay,” she said with a surprised air. “Why shouldn’t I be okay?” she said, pounding her pillow into shape.
Still speaking to the back of Faith’s head, Buffy leaned on her side and gazed down at her. “With me I mean. You heard some freaky things before I left a couple of days ago, and here I am telling you some more freaky things.”
Faith shrugged. “I’ll deal,” she said.
“I don’t want you to deal,” Buffy snapped fed up.
Faith eyed her for a minute and jumped out of the bed, and Buffy followed suit. They stood five feet apart with the bed in-between them. “What do you want from me?” Faith retorted her eyes narrowing.
“I don’t know,” Buffy said throwing her hands up in frustration. Maybe that was why she couldn’t sleep
, she thought. Everything about the situation with Faith seemed up in the air.
“Something,” she admitted.
Faith snorted and sat on the edge of the bed. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes and when she opened them, there was a world of pain in them. “I thought you were my friend,” she said bleakly.
“I am,” Buffy said walking over to kneel at the other girl’s feet.
“But you never told me anything about yourself,” she said in a pain-filled voice.
Buffy sighed. “I never told Xander and Willow either,” she said calmly. “It’s not like I chose to tell them, but not you. No one knew except Angel. And the reason Angel knew is because we have known each other for about a hundred years.”
“Were you planning to tell us?” she asked quietly. “I mean me. Were you planning to tell me?”
“Of course,” she said with a frown. “You’re more than a friend; you are my sister. We understand what it is like to live in the dark. No matter how long Xander, Willow, or even Cordelia live, they will never understand what it’s like to be a Slayer. Remember, we are the Chosen Two,” she said with a smile.
Faith returned her smile. “Yeah?”
“Yeah!” she said, clasping the other girl in a hug. “Forgive me?” Buffy whispered in her hair.
“Yeah, everything is five by five,” Faith said pushing Buffy away. “Enough of this touchy feely shit, I need my beauty sleep,” she said walking over to her side of the bed and getting into it.
Buffy smiled and followed suit. Ten minutes later, as she was drifting off to sleep, she heard Faith.
“Your Jack is a stud.”
“Faith?” Buffy mumbled.
“Go to sleep.”
“Will everyone please shut up? Trying to sleep here,” Willow announced.
Feeling a great weight off of her chest, Buffy sighed and let the cacophony of noise from outside and the weight of the bed lull her to sleep.
AN: May this happy holiday brings many smiles your way! Happy Holiday! Merry Christmas, Merry Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa.