Title: Chapter 2
Series: My daughter…the what?
Disclaimer: BTVS-Joss Whedon, L&O-Dick Wolf
“B, the hellmouth has survived summers without you.” Faith leans against the front bumper of the SUV. “It will survive.”
“I know the hellmouth will be fine.” Buffy says. “I do trust you, Faith, I just worry about Willow and everything. Xander and Anya will be fine as long as nobody tries to break up their honeymoon stage. Giles is heading back to England and I know you’ll keep Spike in line.”
“Or on a line.” Faith leers.
“Uh, gross.” Buffy fake gags.
“Hey!” Faith protests. “You so did the vampire lovin’ too so don’t even get with the grossness.”
“But it’s Spike.” Buffy wrinkles her nose. “He’s all Spike like and I just have to know, do you two share nail polish?”
“Did you and Angel share hair gel?” Faith asks back.
“Ha ha.” Buffy rolls her eyes. “Keep an eye on Willow.”
“How’s red doing?” Faith asks. “She doesn’t talk about it much.”
“I think she’s doing okay.” Buffy replies. “But then she saw Tara and Amy on campus yesterday and kinda went all dark Willow for a few minutes.”
“Gotta be hard to see your ex with one of your old friends.” Faith comments.
“I know.” Buffy agrees. “Dawnie and I said goodbye to Tara yesterday and her phone number is on the list I gave you in case you need her for something. But I’d suggest keeping Amy and Willow apart unless the world is ending or you might end up with ’War of the Witches’ and we all know who’d win.”
“Red.” Faith replies. “She’d fry Ams with a flick of her wrist.”
“And Willow doesn’t need anymore guilt.” Buffy says. “Not after what she did to Rack.”
Faith scoffs. “He so deserved it and everyone knows it. He fueled Red’s magic addiction and tried to suck out all Amy and Tara’s magic. He was no different than any other demon we’ve killed and you know it. Hell, he wasn’t even human anymore or Spikey wouldn’t have been able to hit him.”
“I know.” Buffy agrees. “But try telling that to Willow. She’s all with the guilt. And then with the guilt of using so much magic on Tara that Tara left her.”
“I’ll keep an eye on all of them.” Faith assures Buffy. “It’s almost dawn; shouldn’t you be heading out?”
“Just waiting on Dawn.” Buffy replies. “You can head home and tell Spike I said goodbye.”
Faith pats Buffy’s back. “Call us when you stop.”
“We will.” Buffy opens the driver’s door and climbs behind the wheel, waiting on Dawn to come out of Giles' apartment. They said goodbye to everyone a few hours ago, right before her and Faith went on patrol. She has her birth’s father address and real name in her purse and directions off the internet to New York. The back of her mom’s…actually her SUV is jammed full of her and Dawn’s stuff, neither girl wanting to leave anything behind. She doesn’t know if her father wants to meet her but like Faith said, she wants to see him at least once. So, when Dawn suggested the cross country trip, Buffy didn’t fight it.
She has a decent amount of money saved up thanks to selling her mom’s shop and the house. Added in with what’s left from her mom’s life insurance, what she didn’t have to use to pay off hospital bills, and it’s enough for her and Dawn to live off for a few years as long as they’re careful. The passenger door opens, knocking Buffy out of her thoughts.
“I got the driving music.” Dawn holds up a black CD case. “We should start off with some boy band stuff, to get our juices flowing.”
Buffy rolls her eyes. “Keep it low; you know I have to concentrate.”
“I do have my permit.” Dawn reminds her. “I can drive as long as you’re in the car.”
“I can drive.” Buffy defends herself as she backs out of Giles’s driveway. “Oops, oh, Giles didn’t need that trashcan anyways; it clashed with the rest of the neighborhood.”
Dawn grabs the cross around her neck. “Please, if there’s anybody up there, help me.”
“Hey!” Buffy protests. “I’m a good driver….”
“Buffy, please don’t run over the nice paper boy.” Dawn pleads.
Buffy swerves back onto the road. “Oh, I missed him by a foot at least.”
“Buffy, he had to dive off his bike.” Dawn says slowly.
“He was just being dramatic.” Buffy brushes it off. “Oh, give me a piece of gum.”
Dawn digs into the ‘travel bag’ they made the night before and pulls out a piece of bubble gum. “Here you go.” She hands it to Buffy. “But that’s all you get till we cross state lines.”
Buffy rolls her eyes. “I should have put Xander in charge of doing snack rations for our trip.” She mutters. “He wouldn’t be so stingy.”
“Aww, but Xander isn’t here.” Dawn does an fake ’evil’ laugh. “You’re under my control now, slayer, and I will rule the world.”
Buffy glances over at Dawn like she’s lost her mind. “Note to self: do not let younger sisters hang out with a formerly evil vampire; it gives them world domination urges.”
“Has the law firm called you?” Olivia asks Elliot.
Elliot doesn’t look up from the form under his pen. “No.”
“Elliot, you have the resources….” Munch starts.
“I tried but her phone number was turned off and there’s nothing else listed for her.” Elliot sets the pen down long enough to grab another form.
“It’s only been a few days, Elliot.” Olivia says. “Maybe it’s taken the law firm this long to get in contact with her.”
“Or maybe she doesn’t want to meet me.” Elliot finally looks up. “She has a father, one that’s raised her, and there’s a good chance she doesn’t want to meet me.”
“So that’s it?” Olivia asks. “You’re giving up?”
“I won’t force my child to meet me if she doesn’t want to.” Elliot says firmly.
“Elliot, line one.” Cragen sticks his head out of his office. “It’s the law firm in California.”
Elliot pales and fumbles for the phone. “Stabler.”
“Elliot Stabler?” An educated male voice says. “This is Edward Willis with Willis & Black in Los Angeles, California. I am calling in regards to some forms you faxed to me a few days ago; I’m sorry it took so long but I was otherwise indisposed.”
“My daughter, where….” Elliot sentence trails off as he realizes in a few seconds, he can hear that his daughter doesn’t want to meet him.
“Buffy recently sold her home and has been staying with a friend with hers.” Edward says.
“Boyfriend?” Elliot asks, for some reason disliking the idea.
“I don’t think so.” Edward replies. “Seeing how he’s at least twice her age.”
“Oh.” Elliot mutters. “Does she knows about me?”
“A week ago, she came across a rough draft of the letter Joyce had me deliver to you.” Edward says. “She is well aware that you’re her father and left me her cell phone number to give you in case you did want to contact her.”
“She wants to have contact with me?” Elliot asks quietly.
“Yes, she does.” Edward says.
Elliot jots down the phone number Edward gives him and hangs the phone up in a daze.
“Well?” Munch prods.
“She wants to talk to me.” Elliot picks up the phone and dials his daughter’s phone number before he can really think about it. It rings three times and then a female voice answers.
“Hello?” Buffy says.
Elliot tries to say something but nothing will come out.
“Hello?” Buffy says again. “Xan, is that you? This wasn’t funny the last time you did it. Hello, the heavy breathing is so lame.”
“Buffy?” Elliot whispers.
“You’re not Xander.” Buffy accuses. “Who is this?”
“My father.” Buffy interrupts, her voice sounding rather dazed. “You called me?”
“Yes.” Elliot replies. “How are you?”
“Fine.” Buffy says. “Me and Dawnie are on a cross country trip.”
“Dawnie?” Elliot questions.
“My little sister.” Buffy replies. “She’s almost 16 and I got custody of her after mom died.”
“What about your fat…Hank?” Elliot says. “Shouldn’t he have gotten custody of Dawn after Joyce died?”
“He signed over full custody of both me and Dawn to mom when I was 16.” Buffy’s voice cold. “I think I’ve seen him three times since then. He didn’t even come to mom’s funeral.”
“Oh.” Elliot says. “So, how have…I don’t even know where to start. There are so many things I want to ask you.”
“Me too.” Buffy agrees.
“Are you happy?” Elliot questions.
“I’m content.” Buffy says after a few moments of silence. “But I’m working on the happy thing. Are you happy?”
“Mostly.” Elliot answers honestly. “I have my family and my job.”
“Family?” Buffy clenches the phone, a little nervously. When Willow found Elliot in New York, Buffy wouldn’t let her go any further than that. She didn’t want to know anything besides his name and address because if he didn’t want to meet her, she didn’t want to know anything more than that.
“My wife Kathy and my four other children.” Elliot replies.
“Four?” Buffy gasps. “You have four kids.”
“No, I have five.” Elliot corrects. “That is if…”
“I’m going to be brutally honest with you.” Buffy interrupts. “I’m 21 years old, well past the age of needing a daddy to take care of me but I would maybe one day, like to have a dad, if you want.”
“Yes.” Elliot says without hesitation.
“You might not wanna answer so quickly.” Buffy warns. “Cuz I come with all sorts of baggage. And not your every day trip to Disney Land baggage but your two months around the world cruise baggage.”
“I can handle your baggage.” Elliot assures her.
“And Dawnie is my sister.” Buffy says firmly, though mentally she adds ’and your daughter’. “Nothing will ever change that so I’m telling you up front, she’s part of the Buffy package. You can just think of her as my little parasite.”
Elliot laughs when he hears a loud ’hey!’. “I completely understand.”
“Okay then.” Buffy replies. “So, what do you think about….”
“Oh, shit.” Buffy mutters. “Elliot, here, talk to Dawnie for a second.”
Elliot sits up straight, straining his ears to hear what’s going happening on the other end. Thinking he might be able to hear more, he puts the phone on speaker. There is a loud fumbling and breathing as the phone is passed from one person to another.
“Hello.” Dawn pants into the phone. “I’m Dawn and I am not a parasite.”
“That’s good to know.” Elliot smiles at the perky tilt in her voice. “I’m Elliot.”
“I know.” Dawn replies. “So, are you like freakishly short?”
“No.” Elliot stares at the phone, completely confused. “Why?”
“Oh, cause Buff is and me and mom aren’t so I was just wondering if maybe she didn’t get her shortness from you.” Dawn explains and then squeals loudly, the phone dropping from her hand.
“Dawn?” Elliot questions loudly. “Dawn?” He almost starts panicking when Dawn comes back on.
“Sorry, I tripped and dropped the phone.” Dawn says.
“What’s going on?” Elliot asks.
“Um, here’s Buffy.” Dawn says in a rush.
“Elliot?” Buffy questions.
“Buffy, what’s going on?” Elliot asks.
“Um, there was two cats and they fought.” Buffy says. “And then they went away.”
“What?” Elliot says disbelievingly.
“Dawn has cat fear.” Buffy explains. “And we’re walking around and boom, two cats. She freaked out so I tried to chase them away but it’s actually a lot harder than it sounds and then they just stopped fighting and went away.”
“Where are you?”
“Um, some little town in Pennsylvania, but I don’t remember what it’s called.” Buffy replies.
His heart stops for a second at how close they are. “Do you have family in Pennsylvania?”
“Nope.” Buffy replies.
“Why are you there?” Elliot asks.
“We’re on our way to New York.” Buffy replies. “And before you ask, yes, it’s so I could see you. I needed to see you even if you didn’t want to meet me so Dawn suggested we just drive to New York and I agreed.”
“I want to meet you.” Elliot says firmly. “And Dawn. And I know my family does too.”
“They know?” Buffy asks.
“Yes, they know.” Elliot replies. “And they want to meet you too.”
“Okay.” Buffy says. “We should be in New York tomorrow afternoon. Do you want to meet at a restaurant or something?”
“You can come to our house.” Elliot says. “If you’re comfortable with it.”
“I’m cool with that.” Buffy agrees.
“Let me give you our address.” Elliot starts.
“Already have it.” Buffy stops him before he can say it.
“How do you…how did you even know I lived in New York.” Elliot questions suspiciously.
“There was some info in a folder about you, first name, a city, and a base plus some dates.” Buffy replies. “And after I got mom’s lawyer to tell me you were in the Marines, one of my friends tracked you down.”
“How?” Elliot asks.
“Um, I don’t know.” Buffy replies honestly. “I asked and she did. What’s with the suspicious voice, you kinda sound like a cop.”
“I am a cop.” Elliot says.
“Oh.” Buffy mutters.
“Oh, what?” Elliot prods.
“Oh, I guess I can’t hold it against you that you’re a cop.” Buffy teases. “It’s an honest line of work I suppose.”
“Come across many cops?” Elliot asks.
“That is something you will only learn with time.” Buffy says. “There are many things about my life that I don’t tell unless I trust someone.”
“Fair enough.” Elliot agrees.
“Okay, well, I gotta go.” Buffy says quickly. “Um, we should be there around 4 or 5 pm, okay?”
“Okay.” Elliot agrees. “Goodbye, Buffy.”
“Bye, Elliot.” Buffy says.
Elliot hit’s the button to turn off the speaker phone and spins around to see Munch, Finn, Olivia, Alex, and Cragen all looking at him. "What?"
"She sounds nice." Olivia says. "Both of them do."
"She does, doesn't she?" Elliot agrees.
"Only one thing bothers me." Munch says. "How did her friend find you? She said she only had your first name, a city, some dates and that you were in the Marines."
"It took the law firm Willis & Black a year to get the clearance to gain access to the Marine files where you did basics." Alex says. "That's how they found you; I highly doubt her friend got that same clearance in a matter of days."
"Maybe she didn't wait for clearance." Finn suggests.
"Hacking into military records isn't something your every day hacker can do." Munch says. "It'd take someone of extreme talent to do so."
"Stop!" Elliot shouts. "I haven't even met her and you're trying to make her friends into criminals. I don't know how she did either but right now, I don't care about it. All I care about is meeting my daughter."
They back off reluctantly.
"Thank you." Elliot says. "Now, as long as nothi…"
"Don't say it, Elliot." Olivia warns. "The moment you say it, it'll happen."
Elliot nods and returns to his forms, intent on getting them filled out so he can go home early.
"So?" Dawn prods Buffy.
"We're going to meet him tomorrow." Buffy wipes the slime off her face. "Ugh, that is so gross."
"Are you sure it's dead?" Dawn nudges the headless water demon thing with her foot.
"Yep." Buffy replies. "It's a kro…some weird name that I can't remember but anyways, once it's headless and heartless, it's dead. Now all we have to do is burn it."
"I am so not carrying that thing." Dawn says.
"That thing weighs close to five hundred pounds." Buffy picks the demon up and throws it over her shoulder. "You couldn't carry it."
Dawn looks around the woods they're 'camping' out in until she finds a somewhat bare spot. "I think this is good."
Buffy drops the demon onto the ground. "Now all we need is a…."
Dawn hands Buffy a lighter.
"Where did you….Spike?" Buffy kneels down and lights the demon's 'hair' on fire.
"Spike." Dawn verifies, watching in amazement as the demon bursts into flames.
"I know, neat huh?" Buffy throws an arm over Dawn's shoulder as they watch the demon burn.
"It let's off such pretty colors." Dawn comments. Then she starts coughing. "But not such pretty smells."
Buffy laughs. "You wanted me to stop sheltering you from my slayerhood; here it is, smells, slime, grime, dirt, and all."
"I can handle the grime, dirt, and slime." Dawn plugs her nose. "But not the smell."
Buffy stomps onto the burnt down ashes of the demon. "Come on, Dawnie, let's head back to the car."
"Are you excited?" Dawn asks.
"More nervous than anything." Buffy replies. "I'm not a daughter anyone would really want if they have the choice and he does have the choice. We have no bond so it is his choice whether he really wants to have me as a daughter."
"At least you get to claim him." Dawn sulks. "We can't tell him I'm his daughter without telling him I'm the key and we can't tell him that until we tell him you're the slayer."
"Dawnie, I know this is hard for you." Buffy says. "And I hope the day comes that we can tell him but no matter if that day never comes, you'll always have me. Nothing will ever change that."
"Tears." Dawn traces fake tears down her face.
"Brat." Buffy punches Dawn on the arm.
"Ouch, jeez, Buff, watch the strength." Dawn rubs her arm.
"I didn't hit you that hard." Buffy defends.
"Yes, you did Buffy." Dawn says. "You're gonna have to watch the strength thing again."
"I know." Buffy pouts. "I suck at the whole secret identity thing."
"You hid it from mom." Dawn points out.
"Yeah, but mom was gullible." Buffy says. "She refused to see me as anything but the girl she raised. Look at the way she wrote off all the trouble I got into. But Elliot is a cop; I kinda think he's not going to fall for all my old lines."
"You mean the 'two cats fighting' line?" Dawn replies with a grin.
"Cut me a break." Buffy climbs up onto the hood of the SUV and leans back against the windshield. "It's been so damn long since I had to cover up a slayage and it was the first thing that popped into my head."
"We'll have to work on the cover stories." Dawn climbs up beside Buffy and lies her head on her sister's shoulder. "Do you think we'll ever get to tell him?"
"I don't know." Buffy replies honestly. "But I hope so."