Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That is Joss Whedon's beautiful creation. Nor do I own Meredith Gentry and her fellow characters. These are owned by Laurell K. Hamilton. The idea for Merry and Buffy being sisters is owned by Lotusja. The story itself is mine.
Buffy lay curled on the bed, arms wrapped around herself, as silent tears soaked the pillows. She couldn't believe this. With all the different problems that had happened in her short 25 years and now to find out that her parents weren't her actual parents.
'Why?' her brain screamed as she pressed a fist to her mouth. 'Why didn't she tell me when she realized that she had that tumor?'
And her father? Why hadn't he? Her mother had died two years ago. She still missed her mother but she would have been able to understand eventually but he'd disappeared after the funeral and neither she nor Dawn had heard from him since.
Buffy's eyes widened as she remembered her. 'Oh my God, Dawn must be doing worse than me. I need to be strong...again...for someone else.' Buffy's eyes fluttered shut, more tears seeping out. 'But who is going to be strong for me, with Willow and Giles in England?'
Buffy allowed herself to silently cry a few minutes longer before pushing herself to a sitting position and wiped her face with the backs of her hand and then she slowly moved toward the bathroom of the bedroom she was in.
Meredith, the Princess of the Sidhe, had paid for the hotel suite down the street from the Grey Detective Agency where she'd tried to apply that morning.
That man, Jeremy, he'd told her he wanted to hire her but how could he want to hire her now after she'd broken down like that? She still wanted the job. It would give her a chance to help people and get paid for it. 'For once,' the forbidden thought streamed through her thoughts.
Since she was 15, she'd been protecting others, helping others and putting their needs before her own. She'd lost the first two men she'd loved, the woman she'd called mother for years and many friends.
Now, she not only had another sister, and had Dawn to take care of, but now she had to find Hank Summers and find out why they hadn't told her. Then she had to find Besaba, the woman who'd given birth to her and Merry, to find out why she'd given her up.
Buffy's hazel eyes, ringed in cobalt blue and green, turned to hardened flint. 'And if she gives me any of the shit about my being mortal, she'll wished she never told Merry about me.'
As she left her room, her eyes searched the vast room for Dawn. Surprisingly, Dawn was sitting next to the young man with long green hair, laughing at something he'd said before she entered the room.
Merry had positioned herself and two of her guards in front of the balcony doors. Their eyes were on Dawn and she could clearly read the amazement at the man gently teasing her sister into laughter. All except for one man. His white hair cascaded down past his waist. His eyes stared into hers.
Her spider sense was off the wall with him. The others felt strange to her, but he was the only one death clung to.
Rhys eyes snapped to the petite blonde as she stepped from one of the bedrooms. Fresh from crying, he could still see faint traces of tears lingering on her cheeks.
Since his powers over death had returned from the Nameless he'd once more been able to sense people who had come close to death. This beauty hadn't just died once, but at least twice her spirit had left her body.
The shadows in this woman's eyes spoke of a life of pain and sorrow that no one should have to deal with in life.
"And we've only added to her troubles," Rhys said softly under his breath.
buffy was small. Smaller than Merry. 'She wouldn't even reach to his chin and her waist was small enough that he could probably wrap his hands around her waist and touch on both sides of her body.
'I wonder how she would feel in my arms?' The brief thought flickered through his brain and he shut it down before it could go any farther. 'What am I thinking? I have Merry in my arms and bed! Why am I thinking of this small, hurt young woman when I have a chance at the throne?' Rhys stared at the small blonde as she walked toward them.
"We need to talk," Buffy spoke quietly, glancing toward Galen where he sat with Dawn.
Merry glanced up to Doyle. He nodded and moved to the balcony windows. Rhys led the way onto the balcony, followed by Merry and Buffy then by Doyle. Buffy sat facing the door to the suite. Rhys approved of her defensive tactics of not putting the door to her back, but he knew that even the air was unsafe. He moved to stand behind Buffy. She looked over her shoulder at him, her eyes narrowing before she turned her chair to watch him from the corner of her eye.
He sighed. She really was a warrior. He stared at her for a moment before shifting his eyes back to Merry. He waited for Buffy's soft, lilting voice to start her story
"I need to tell you about my life, so you'll understand what and why I do the things I do.
"I was fifteen, when I began to train. My Watcher, Merrick, came to train as the Slayer..." Buffy's voice began hesitantly. Rhys lost himself in her quiet voice and thought, 'Merry might have been younger but she'd been involved since she'd been a babe in arms. She'd grown up a regular girl and should have been allowed to grow up normal. But,then again, who among the Sidhe ever were allowed to grow up normal?'
Near the end of her life's story, Buffy had started to cry softly. She'd told the good along with the bad, the sweet successes with the painful losses.
"And now I'm here, in San Francisco. And you're telling me that my parents weren't my parents, you're my sister and we're in serious trouble," Buffy said, feeling her eyes go cold and hard as steel. If she was in trouble, then so was Dawn and no one was going to hurt her again.
Merry nodded solemnly. "Yes, because my mother knows me and she knows I would search for you. To find herself in the king of Light and Illusion's good graces once more, she would almost certainly sell me and you out. Besaba is a very vain creature, as is the King. You look like one of the Seelie but I see my father in you as well."
"Merry," Doyle spoke from behind the princess, "the problem is actually bigger than that, but you touched on it."
Buffy blinked in surprise. 'More problems?' she thought, grimacing.
"What would that be, Doyle?" Merry's voice sounded tired, as if she had also had troubles her entire life.
"You were right when you said you could see Prince Essus in her but you were also correct in seeing the Seelie blood in her. I'm surprised that we haven't received a call from King Taranis. He may try claiming her as a long-lost daughter." Meredith visibly cringed as Doyle continued. We need to get her to the Sithen, maybe Andais will know what to do."
Merry sighed, she'd known this would be coming. "You're right. Though Aunt Andais will probably say she should have been drowned at birth as well. We'll have to go shopping for Court and dinner."
Buffy could feel her body leap in anticipation. "Did you just say the magic word?"
Doyle, Merry and Rhys just laughed.
Buffy, Merry, Rhys and Doyle walked into the dress shop.
"They usually have to hem my dresses for me when I come here." Merry looked her up and down for a couple seconds. "You're shorter than me. Didn't think that was possible. They'll definitely have to hem yours."
The four of them stepped into the shop and Buffy's eyes widened. The dresses here were beautiful. Then she took a glance at a price tag and her jaw dropped. "Merry, I can't afford these, they're way too expensive!"
Rhys spoke up to answer her protests. "Trust us, Buffy, or at least me. You don't want to meet Queen Andais in anything but a gown that she would approve. She's been known to come up with some harsh punishments for those who do."
Buffy watched as Merry shuddered and Doyle cringed for a quick second. Buffy raised one slender eyebrow in a mocking gesture. "I am not changing what I like to dress in to please anyone but myself."
Buffy spun on her heels and stalked off toward a rack of gowns.
Meredith grimaced. 'This trip is not going to be easy.' If Buffy didn't watch what she said, Andais would send her to Ezekial and she doubted the queen would limit Buffy's torture like she had Merry's.
Merry met Rhys' eye. "Can you please talk to her? I don't want it to sound like we're threatening her."
"Sure," Rhys said, sighing. He knew it would be safer for him if he refused, but Merry had been the first to look on him in centuries with something other than pity. Problem was he didn't know how it would be safer for him.
Buffy knew it was the white-haired man who was walking up behind her. She could sense him as if he were a vampire. She looked back over her shoulder to watch him coming up behind her. His white leather tench oat fell down around his ankles and below it his body was encased in black. Men had no right to look that good. He looked even yummier than Angel or Spike ever had. Buffy could feel herself blush a that thought.
"And what do yo want, Mr. Tall and Handsome?" she said flippantly to cover hr blush of embarrassment. She watched as he threw his head back and laughed, feeling things low in her abdomen tighten.
"You're certainly going to be a breath of fresh air around court. Buffy, we haven't been properly introduced ó I'm Rhys." Rhys held his hand out and smiled at her as he gripped her hand and felt the calluses on her palm. "Buffy, Merry is afraid for you. Her aunt, the queen, isn't very tolerant of good news. That Besaba gave you up won't upset her too much, but that she gave you up to humans will send her into a rage." An image of Buff being tortured by the queen's tormentor made him shudder as a black rage consumed him. "She doesn't want you sent to be tortured when the queen gets angry and if she doesn't like your dress and how you speak is insolent to her she will take it out on you even though you're the innocent one in this problem."
Buffy sighed. They weren't threatening her, just warning her about what could potentially happen. "Maybe you'll be able to help me between now and the meeting." Buffy looked up at him through her eyelashes, an invitation plain in her eyes.
Buffy's hand was still in his after their handshake and he raised it to his lips to press a light kiss to her knuckles. He was drawn to this vivacious woman and he didn't understand it. "Lets go see what dresses Merry thinks would avoid Queen Andais' wrath."
Buffy nodded, feeling slightly flustered and foolish. She let him lead her back toward Merry and the tall, black man Merry had called Doyle, who watched everyone and everything around him as if it were a threat.
Back at the hotel suite, Buffy lay the dress bag out flat on her bed. The dress was beautiful, close to the one her mother had bough her for the prom when she'd first moved them to Sunnydale. 'I died in that dress,' she thought to herself, remembering all the crazy and horrible things that had happened to her since moving to the Hellmouth.
Buffy smiled softly to herself. 'Then again, if I hadn't moved to Sunnydale I would have never met Willow, Xander or Giles...and then they would have turned vampire or been killed.' Buffy sighed. Her thoughts then turned to Rhys.
In a way he reminded her of Angel and Spike, with the way death clung to him but then he reminded her of Riley and Xander with his ability to laugh outright.
'He does look yummy in the white and black. And when he took off his coat...' Buffy sighed. Best not to even think about it. She was plain compared to her newfound sister...'besides, no time for guys now. More important things to do tonight before we head to see the queen and her court. if there's going to be trouble like Doyle thinks, then I need to train.'
Grabbing the sword that she'd kept with her since she'd used it to send Angel into hell all those years ago, she moved to the living area and began to move furniture around so she wouldn't hurt herself...or the furniture.
Drawing the sword, she moved swiftly into the dance, heart steady and she closed her eyes at the rush of adrenaline that always swept over her.
As she moved through her exercises, she was unaware that Dawn had entered with Galen, Rhys, Merry and Doyle.
Doyle calmly watched Buffy, unable to see many flaws in her dance with her weapon. 'Perhaps she wouldn't be averse to lessons to further her education.'
Merry watched Buffy, envious of the other woman's fluid movements. Merry glanced at the two men at her sides. While Doyle's was one she should have expected, she certainly hadn't expected the enraptured look that was plain on Rhys' face as he watched her younger sister. Merry caught her lower lip between her teeth and glanced down at her finger.
She hadn't worn the ring since the last time she'd been near the queen and now she was afraid to put it back on. She'd already lost one of her men to another woman and she was almost certain she knew what she'd find if she did put it on. She shoved her hands into the pockets of her light spring jacket and was unsurprised to have her fingers come into contact with the round, ancient piece of metal.
Sighing, she pulled it out of her pocket and discreetly slipped it on. She raised her eyes to meet Doyle's and hesitantly turned to stare at her sister once more.
As Buffy slowed to a stop she noticed The group in the doorway and calmly walked over to set her sword down and pick up her towel.
"Hey, everyone. What's up?" Buffy was barely out of breath. She'd need a sparring partner to get a full workout. 'Hmmm...maybe Rhys or Doyle would be willing.'
"Nothing, Buffy. We just wanted to spend a bit of time with you and Dawn before we leave in the morning." Merry said, not liking what she saw when she looked at Buffy with the ancient Tool on her finger. there was a fuzzy shadow over Buffy, belly swollen with child. Somehow, in the future, Buffy would find someone to father a child for her. Looking at Rhys, bleak sadness plain in his eyes, she knew who it should be.
It did not take long for the Sidhe to come to terms with their feelings at times and Rhys had been one of Andais' Ravens for centuries before Merry had come along and the ban on the Raven's sexual behaviors lifted.
Merry shook her head. She'd be losing another of the men in her bed. Not her life because now that she'd found Buffy she wasn't about to lose her again and if Andais allowed the couple to be together he would never be in her bed again.
Rhys stood in Merry's home and stared out over the city. It was three in the morning and he had been staring out the window for the past three hours, since Merry had gone to bed.
It had been his turn in her bed that night and, for the first time since he'd learned to accept Kitto in her bed, he'd refused. Since first meeting her, he couldn't stop thinking of her. The quiet sorrow and pain lined her body as she moved, something he'd only seen in someone who'd glimpsed Heaven and been denied it.
Rhys sighed. He should go to sleep. But every time he closed his eye he saw her there, dancing with her sword.
At a quiet shuffling sound behind him he turned. Merry stood watching him in her black silk nightie. Not even a week ago his body would have hardened with desire upon seeing her in such a state of disarray but as he stared at her now, his body did not react.
He smiled sadly to himself and, sighing, turned back to the windows.
"Rhys," Merry started then paused. He glanced over his shoulder and froze. She was wearing the Queen's ring and was twisting it around her finger.
"Rhys," she began again, "I saw something today. After the ring appeared in my pocket this afternoon."
"What, Merry-girl? What did you see?" Rhys waited, barely able to breathe, hardly daring to hope.
"Rhys...I saw Buffy...with child. I'm not sure when but I'm pretty sure it will be soon. Rhys...you're going to be a father." Merry gave a small, sad smile. "I would say if you wanted to, but I don't think I need to even guess at your answer." She walked up to him and gave him a light kiss on his parted lips, open in shock at the idea of being a father after over a thousand years. "I'm going to petition Aunt Andais to release you, to let you and Buffy be together."