Twists of Fate - (16) A Growing FamilyAuthor's Note/Summary: Picks up right after the end of Chapter 15. The "new Scoobies" try to work through what happened to Spike and Buffy at the cemetery. They try to figure out what and who attacked them. Joyce makes an appearance to try to help Buffy shake off the lingering effects of her contact with Dinza.
Note about Collaboration: Athenewolfe had input, ideas, and/or writing for part of this chapter and chapter 17. After that it will be solely written by Tasha. There have been several years in-between when Chapter 15 was posted and the rest of the story. So, not everyone was available anymore to collaborate.
Disclaimer and Distribution notes are listed on the Index page of this story.'Single' quote marks surround thoughts in this story. "Regular" quotes are around spoken words.
(Spike and Buffy's Home)
Previously: Xander pulled Anya close and hugged her. "I'm sorry, Ahn. I'm still having trouble with those whole humans good, demons bad they fed me." He took a deep breath, and he turned towards Valerie. "My apologies to you too. I have foot in mouth disease. As in my foot lives there and only comes out to cause problems. So any idea about what is going on here?"
A weak voice called out from the doorway, "That's what I would like to know". Spike moved towards the couch, indicating he would like to sit, "Do you mind luvs? I'm feeling a bit knackered."
Jumping up to give Spike her spot, Tara settled him onto the couch. "Buffy woke up, but I let her go back to sleep. The poor thing is exhausted." He sent a friendly nod to Xander and Anya. "I'm glad you both showed up. Never thought I'd say that to you Harris. Meanwhile, that thing said she was supposed to bring Buffy to the witch. I'd say we have a serious problem in the form of a redheaded witch and some very scary mojo."
Xander pondered Spike's comment. He frowned when the realization of who he meant filtered through his brain. "Willow was responsible for that thing?" He shuddered. Whatever attacked Buffy and Spike was no fluffy bunny. Even the night seemed darker around it. "I couldn't see anything solid there, but the shadows were moving. That's what I swung at, the shadows."
"That's all I saw too. Everything was dark, but it was moving against Spike," Anya added in her thoughts. "Are you sure it was Willow?"
"I'm afraid so," Tara spoke softly with a voice laced with pain. "She's repeatedly tried to come after us with spells since I left the house a few days ago." She looked at Spike. "Do you think she found out about Buffy's new status and sent a demon spirit after her?"
"I don't' think so, Glinda," Spike answered. "Whatever it was, it wasn't expecting Buffy's new life. In fact it seemed rather thrilled that Buffy was technically dead."
"That's not life, it's …" Xander interrupted. "Damn," He slapped one hand over his mouth and raised the other in a surrender motion while he shook his head. With everything he'd learned over the last week, he really had to nip his gut reactions and prejudices in the bud.
"It's all right, Xander." Anya patted Xander's knee in support. She stuck up for Xander with the others, especially after his earlier blunder with Valerie. "He did a lot of research the last few days. It's taking a little bit to sink in fully though. He is getting better, if we can get his mouth off of autopilot mode that is."
"Thanks Ahn," Xander sighed and shook his head back and forth still. He really didn't need Spike even more upset with him at the moment. He had a feeling that Buffy would not protect him from Spike either.
Spike nodded in understanding. He hadn't rushed to anger because he figured it was more of an automatic response to anyone's vampiric status. The fact that Xander hadn't staked him while he was unconscious went a long way towards convincing Spike of Xander's change of heart. "Hard to change years of training in a week, Whelp."
Xander visibly relaxed. He rested his hands back on his legs. He covered one of Anya's hands with his. "I am working on it, man. I swear I am."
"It will mean a lot to Buffy," Spike said. "She's seen the worst the human world has to offer, and it almost killed her again. She needs to know exactly who her true friends are. Your support will mean more to her now than ever before."
"It wasn't a demon that she fought?" Xander asked. Cordelia hadn't told them what happened before Spike turned Buffy. She'd said it was something Buffy needed to decide who she would tell or not. In fact, Cordelia let Xander and Anya do most of the talking before she ever uttered a word to confirm or deny what they assumed.
"No." Spike growled at the memory of how proud the murderer had been of his deeds. "The bloke was fully human. He was a hired assassin who decided to shoot her in the chest."
"A human? But why would a human…" Xander trailed out, trying to process the information and the group's grave faces. He wondered what they were not saying but left the question unasked. He was afraid of the answer.
Spike slowly nodded his head and looked like he was going to say more. Changing his mind he continued, "Don't go pressing Buffy for details. I don't want her having to talk about anything that might upset her."
Tara covered Spike's shoulder with her hand, and she squeezed it a little. "It'll be okay Spike."
Like a chain reaction of support and comfort, Valerie squeezed Tara's knee. She was coming to understand that something major happened to Buffy and Spike since they'd asked her to stop by the day before.
Xander's eyes widened at the new woman touching Tara. "I guess I know why Willow's hanging around with Amy now," He said still staring at Valerie and Tara. It wasn't that he didn't like the woman, but he wasn't used to seeing Tara with anyone but Willow. Willow was freaking him out, but he hated to see his best friend and girlfriend split up.
Valerie quickly snatched her hand back. She smiled a bit in embarrassment over her natural reaction to touch someone she cared about.
Tara's eyes flashed in anger. "Whatever Willow is doing with Amy has nothing to do with me. I wasn't going to stand by any longer while she tried to manipulate me, rape my mind, and abuse magic. Anything I do now is none of her concern. Valerie has already proven herself a dear friend to us. She saved Dawn from Willow and all of us from most of Willow's manipulations."
"Red couldn't accept Glinda's choice to leave, and she's been trying to control us ever since." Spike jumped into the conversation before it got ugly. Tara may be a quieter person, but he saw the potential power that the white wicca had. "Without Valerie's help, we could have easily become her automatons. We figure Willow is the one who called the Poof."
"Angel's seen Buffy? Is he dust? I guess that he didn't get too happy about it." A part of Xander was worried about Buffy facing Angel or Angelus so soon. Another part of him danced a little jig over the possibility that Angel was gone for good. He knew that it would have to raise Angel's ire to realize that Spike was Buffy's Sire. He knew the vampire would be jealous of the bond that relationship would cause between Buffy and Spike even if nothing further developed.
"Yes they fought, but the Wanker isn't dust yet." Spike frowned. "What's worse is it seems that he somehow managed to produce a little sprog, and he brought the boy with him to Sunnyhell. What kind of father purposely brings his son to the mouth of Hell?" He shook his head back and forth in disbelief.
"No clue man. It doesn't make sense to me, but then again half of what he did never made sense to me." Xander's mind was still trying to process the information about a vampire having a child in the first place. "How …"
"Prophecy," Spike said before Xander uttered more than the one word of his question.
"Prophecy's suck." Xander frowned. "They never work out too well for Buffy."
"Somehow I don't think Buffy minds this time." Tara smiled at Spike. "Dawn should be awake soon. I'm surprised she isn't down here already with all this noise."
"Nibblet sleeps like the dead, Glinda. She must get that from her parents," Spike laughed at the inside joke.
Xander and Anya looked at the two blonds blankly. Tara and Spike seemed to be sharing in a bit of mirth, but Xander and Anya had no clue what was going on. "Care to share?" Xander asked.
"What do you think, Glinda?" Spike questioned. "Do they look on the up and up?"
Tara had been watching Xander and Anya's auras since she found them with the unconscious Buffy and Spike. Despite her earlier worries, she couldn't find any reason to doubt what they were telling her. Xander's aura had even brightened into more rainbow like colors instead of the murky grays that she noticed before.
"We can trust them, Spike." Tara smiled. "I don't know how well they'll handle it, but this is the brightest I've ever seen Xander's aura. I think we're okay."
Spike raised a brow to ask if Tara was really sure about it. He trusted her judgment, but there couldn't be any doubts about proceeding with the news about Dawn.
Tara nodded. "I'm sure." She answered Spike's unspoken question.
"All right then. No interrupting." Spike leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees. "Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip. It started out a long time ago by some monks in a holy crypt."
Xander snorted in mirth. The story had to be a big one. Spike was trying to add humor to the tale to help lessen the blow of whatever news he was about to impart.
At the end of the tale, Xander and Anya both sat unmoving and speechless. Xander blinked a few times and said, "I think that I need some more coffee before we go any further with this brainstorming session. I think my brain is going to explode if I don't."
"I can get it Xander," Tara offered.
"No, I'll get it Tara. Thanks, but I need some time to think." Xander squeezed Anya's hand when he stood up. "It's not that I don't believe you. I just need some processing time, man."
Spike nodded his understanding, and he watched Xander leave the room. He leaned back against the back of the couch and closed his eyes. He tried to sense Buffy's mood through their Sire/Childe link. She seemed to be in a bit of distress, but he figured it was a residual feeling after dealing with the creature in the cemetery.
Valerie, Tara and Anya talked about what the shadows looked like and if there were any sounds that Anya heard. Spike added in bits of information on what the form looked like to him, since he could actually see most of it. They started to brainstorm about what kinds of demons Willow might have summoned and what she might have used to summon them with. Spike tried to relax a little before Xander returned.
(Upstairs at Spike and Buffy's House)
Buffy tossed her head back and forth. Her dreams were plagued with the image of Dinza, the creature that attacked them in the cemetery. She'd already awakened once. Even if Spike hadn't told her to get some more rest, she doubted that she could have stayed awake. Something kept pulling her back to slumber, something dark and sinister.
The image of Joyce Summers pushed its way through the darkness of Buffy's dreams. It was as if she physically assaulted the beast that plagued her daughter's memories. Her light emerged triumphant, and the blazing flames of the sword in the gentle woman's hand dispersed into the ether again.
"Buffy, you have to stay awake sweetie. Fight this," Joyce gently shook her daughter's thoughts. She looked up heavenward. "Some help here would be nice," She grumbled. "You'd think that the powers that be wouldn't be so limited in what they can do."
Buffy tried to keep fighting through the fog in her brain. It was easier now that she felt a presence with her, but she couldn't shake it completely.
"Don't even think of sending me to Willow with a message," Joyce muttered angrily. "About the only thing I want to tell her is go to Hell."
"Temper, temper Joyce." A male voice entered the room followed by a very badly dressed messenger. "They don't like it when people get too testy with them," He said out loud. To himself he thought, 'Must be a family trait.'
Joyce's eyes narrowed on the little man. "Ethereal messenger here, Whistler. I heard that."
Whistler gulped. Summers women were scary ladies to cross paths with.
( 1630 Revello Drive )
Willow stretched out her arms. Her hand bumped against the back of Amy's neck. She smiled and curled around her newest lover. Although she still wanted Tara back, she didn't see any reason why her bed needed to be cold and empty until she found a way to get Tara to return.
Willow absentmindedly rubbed her thumb over the new ring on her index finger. The large deep blue jewel was encased in a band of silver. It wasn't her usual style, but she wasn't taking any chances on losing control over Dinza. So, she kept the talisman close at hand at all times. She thought she was pretty smart to create a talisman that was so easily able to be worn.
Willow hoped that everything would get back to normal soon, well the exact kind of normal that Willow wanted it to be. Hopefully Dinza would take care of Buffy's memories of heaven, and the wayward Slayer would return home. Maybe it wasn't too late to keep the house from being sold if Buffy told the bank she'd changed her mind.
(Spike and Buffy's Home)
Dawn walked down the stairs and headed straight for the kitchen. She knew that Valerie would be there shortly, if she wasn't already. She wanted to get some breakfast. Much like her genetic mother, she was not all that thrilled about mornings. True, she was bouncy at times, but that was usually due to being jazzed up on caffeine already or a burst of teenage joy.
Xander looked up from the coffee maker. He was just waiting on the last cup of coffee before he brought the drinks out to everyone. Their brainstorming session was in serious need of a kick. "Hey, Dawnie." His heart had broken when Spike and Tara told him about how scared for Dawn they were after Willow's attempt to control them.
Dawn's eyes blinked wide open when she heard Xander's voice. She shrieked, "Get away from me." She grabbed the nearest utensil on the counter. A soup ladle wasn't exactly the most threatening of utensils, but she was willing to slap the metal upside Xander's head if he got too close to her. 'How was he able to get into the house? Valerie and Tara had it protected.'
"Dawn, calm down." Xander tried to placate Dawn. He hadn't seen her this erratic acting since Buffy's leap off Glory's tower.
"No, I won't let you take me away from my home." Dawn swatted the metal ladle in front of her at Xander. "I don't know how you got in here, but I know how to get you out. SPIKE!" She yelled. "BUFFY!"
"I'm not trying to do anything, Dawn." Xander covered his ears. 'Damn, that is one shrill scream.'
Spike darted into the kitchen. His momentum sent him through the doorway, and he slid across the tile. He grabbed the island and whipped himself around in front of Dawn, ready for battle.
"Xander … he … he …" Dawn panicked. She couldn't get a word out. She just kept waving her ladle in Xander's direction.
Spike wrapped his arms around Dawn and rocked her back and forth. Tara, Valerie, and Anya all made it into the kitchen to see what the commotion was about. "It's all right, Bit. You're ours." He continued to rock Dawn in his arms, and he kissed the top of her head. "No one is coming to take you away."
Dawn cried into Spike's chest. One of her worst fears since she found out about Buffy was that one of the Scoobies would try to take her away from her sister. Her whole body trembled as her adrenaline wore down. "Sp … Spike." The ladle hit the ground, and she tightened her own grip on Spike.
"I'm sorry man." Xander felt guilty, even though he hadn't done anything this time. He had a feeling that his previous prejudices were the reason why Dawn was so freaked out. Naturally she would assume that he was there to stop Buffy and Spike or take her away from them. He felt ashamed of himself.
"It's all right," Tara spoke softly while Anya walked over to comfort her fiancé. "We've all been pretty stressed out here between Angelus, Buffy's death, Willow's magic, Dawn's news, and last night's attack." She joined Spike and Dawn, hugging Dawn from behind.
It was Dawn's scream of her name that finally awakened all of Buffy's senses. The fear in her sister's, no - her genetic daughter's, voice was enough to chase away anything that was trying to keep her from reality. She jolted upright in bed. She was out the door and down the stairs before her brain fully registered where the scream came from.
"Dawn!" Buffy ran into the kitchen in full vamp face. She started to attack Spike without realizing that he was the one comforting Dawn and not an attacker.
"Merciful Zeus," Xander shouted. His mouth dropped to the ground. A very naked and angry vampire dashed in front of his eyes. He was half petrified of the fervor that Buffy was tearing into Spike with and half ready to faint over seeing the woman he obsessed about for years buck naked in front of him.
Spike pushed Dawn away from himself and into Tara's arms. Buffy's sharp nails dug into his back and shredded his shirt. He whipped around to face Buffy as he yelled, "Enough!" He was forced to block several more of Buffy's blows before he growled out in a stern Sire's voice, "STOP!"
Buffy's arms immediately moved to her sides. Although she stopped moving, she was still growling in full game face in a language that only Spike and Buffy understood.
Spike slowly walked forward, ignoring everyone else around them. His yellow demon eyes flickered, and he snarled. The two demons squared off with each other verbally. Spike tried to calm Buffy down enough to realize that Dawn was safe. He gestured at the brunette in Tara's arms.
Buffy's chest heaved. Even though she didn't need to breathe, air was being forced in and out of her dead lungs at a rapid rate. Her angry growl had lessened to a lower growl and finally a whimper. She looked over at Dawn and then around the room. When her eyes rested on Xander her whimpers turned to a full-fledged growl again.
"Whoa!" Xander backed up.
"Don't move, Xander," Anya cautioned. Buffy was always protective of her sister. Now that she was a vampire those protective familial instincts would be even greater. She had no desire to see her fiancé shredded to pieces. Spike was a strong Master vampire, but she didn't want to test his control over his Childe. Buffy was a Slayer before becoming a vampire, and there was no telling how strong that would make her overall.
Spike turned Buffy's head to face him again with one hand on each cheek. He held her in place, making her look directly into his eyes. He growled a few more phrases before he pulled her towards him and smashed his lips to hers. Fangs clashed with fangs and both of their blood was spilt and shared.
Buffy's arms were free to move again, and she wrapped them around her Sire. Her growls no longer sounded of anger but of passion and want.
Spike wrapped his duster around Buffy's naked form with one hand. The other hand waved at Tara and Dawn to get out of the kitchen.
Tara nodded over to Xander, Valerie and Anya, and all five of them vacated hastily to the living room.
Sounds of bodies smashing into walls, moaning, and cloth tearing hastened Tara to move everyone even further away from the vampires and out onto the porch.
A sniffling Dawn looked over at Xander. She could tell he was still in shock over what he saw. "I'm sorry. She's not normally … Oh God, what happened?"
"Buffy must have heard you call for her," Valerie attempted to explain. "She thought you were in danger. So, she attacked the first thing she saw holding you. I'm just glad it was Spike and not Tara."
"She … She isn't usually like this Xander," Tara hoped that Xander wouldn't run for the nearest stake once he got over his shock.
Xander nodded slowly. He hoped that he never had to see that side of Buffy's new state ever again. It was scary. In a way he felt comforted though to know that Buffy would protect those she loved that strongly. He only hoped that he would be considered in that category for her again soon.