THE POWER OF THREE
Content Advisory: This book eventually contains extreme violence, including torture and sexual assault. If this type of content disturbs you, don’t read it. However, it is safe to read through Part 6. From Part 7 to the end, it's pretty intense and gut-wrenching. It does end happily, though.
Disclaimer: All of the materials borrowed from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel belong to Joss Whedon and to the entities and companies associated with their creation. I have borrowed them for creative and entertainment purposes only. No compensation has been or ever shall be received for the writing below. No copyright infringement is intended.
My Website: http://www.dragonwriter17.net/
Feedback: Yes, but only if it’s of the non-flamey variety: DragonWriter17@aol.com
Distribution: The Mystic Muse, Near Her Always (If you are interested in posting my story on your site, please contact me first for permission.)
Spoilers: The end of BtVS Season 4’s “Wild At Heart” and beyond.
Author’s Notes: I have kept to the BtVS/Angel canon in some ways, borrowing directly from aired episodes; however, I have also made significant changes: deleting certain storylines, moving some, changing others, as well as adding some completely original plots. If you haven’t read my backhistory story for Tara, “Out of Shadow into Light,” you need to because it is critical to Book 2. Also, Willow’s description of her “dog scar” comes straight from Alyson Hannigan’s interview in The Watcher’s Guide Volume 1.
Number of Chapters: 16
Chapter Summary: With the resident evils at all-time low, Buffy and Willow and Tara have time to focus on themselves--both on their new relationship and on their new powers. As they discuss the prospects of moving in together, an intriguing buy at an estate sale brings an unexpected result.
It was late afternoon, the day after Lindsey had finished giving his full report on the recent events in Sunnydale. Now Lindsey stood before Holland Manners’ desk, awaiting news of his fate at Wolfram and Hart. When Holland glared coldly at him, Lindsey fought the panic in his stomach and forced himself to look his superior in the eyes.
“The Senior Partners are not pleased, Lindsey,” Holland told the young lawyer. “The Three have Joined and come into their full power. Most of our Sunnydale clients have pulled up their tent stakes and moved on. Plus, N’Faius—a possible ally for the firm—was defeated and destroyed by the Three. All while you watched!”
“Silence!” Holland interrupted angrily. “I’m not finished. The Senior Partners have asked me to deal with you since I’m the one who recruited you.”
Lindsey swallowed noticeably.
“I’ve considered the matter very carefully,” Holland said in serious tone. “Although this sort of failure usually results in an immediate termination, I’ve decided that your potential warrants a second chance.”
Lindsey allowed a small smile of relief to crack his stoicism. Thank god, he thought to himself. They aren’t going to kill me.
“Don’t get smug yet,” Holland warned. “You won’t be continuing in your present position. Starting next week, you’ll be demoted to research assistant. Your associate level clearance will be stripped, and your salary will be adjusted accordingly. Enjoy your last few days as an associate. Use your time to tie up any loose ends with outstanding cases. Perhaps, if you regain our trust and prove yourself worthy, we can revisit the matter at a later date. Otherwise, one slip-up...and I will process your termination.”
“Thank you, sir,” Lindsey said, trying to sound grateful.
When Holland turned his eyes to the papers on his desk, Lindsey assumed that their conversation was over. He started for the door. When he got there, he turned back to Holland.
“Sir?” he asked. “Whose assistant will I be?”
“You’ll be working for Lilah,” Holland replied with a satisfied grin.
Lindsey’s face fell.
* * *
Buffy, Willow, and Tara sat cross-legged on the floor of Buffy and Willow’s dorm room. They were perfectly still, facing each other and holding hands, their eyes focused on a trio of crystals before them.
“Good,” Tara said when a glowing cloud formed right above the crystals. “Now...focus.”
Soon the image of a beautiful rose, red and long-stemmed, appeared in the glowing cloud.
“Good, now let’s change the color,” Tara instructed.
The threesome concentrated once again, and the rose changed color from red to yellow to blue and then back to red again.
Suddenly, the image shifted, and Tara’s face was added to the picture. She was smiling as an invisible hand guided the soft petals of the red rose along her cheeks and then her lips.
“Buffy...” Tara chided.
“Sorry,” Buffy said sheepishly as the image reverted to the rose alone.
“Okay, let’s slowly pull the petals off,” Tara said.
In the glowing image, the rose’s petals were magically pulled off one at a time and dropped away, disappearing as they reached the edge of the glowing cloud.
Once again, the image shifted, this time focusing on the falling petals, following them as they floated down. They fell on a naked Tara, landing softly on her bare breasts.
“Willow...” Tara admonished.
“She started it,” Willow explained defensively, cutting her eyes at Buffy.
Tara glared at the two of them, and the image in the cloud returned to the original rose. When Tara turned her eyes back to the cloud, Buffy gave Willow’s hand a squeeze. Then they both smirked.
The cloud’s picture immediately changed back to Tara’s bare chest. This time the rose was being twirled around and across Tara’s nipples until the Tara in the image moaned in pleasure. Then the rose started moving down her stomach.
“You guys!” Tara complained.
Willow and Buffy just grinned mischievously.
“We’re supposed to be practicing with our powers,” Tara said as she pulled her hands away and ran them through the image, dispersing the cloud instantly. “I give up!” she said exasperatingly.
“Good!” Willow and Buffy cried simultaneously.
Then the naughty duo jumped on Tara, causing her to squeal in delight.
* * *
Giles leaned back on the sofa in the Summers’ home. Joyce soon joined him, setting a tray with tea on the coffee table. Giles took the cup she offered him.
“Thank you, Joyce,” he said. “Dinner was wonderful, as always.”
Joyce smiled in response and took up her own tea. She brought the cup to her lips, but didn’t drink. Instead, she stared off, deep in thought.
When Giles saw her brow furrow, he spoke. “Something on your mind?” he prompted.
Joyce met Giles’ gaze. “Just the usual,” she said ruefully before taking a sip of her tea.
“Buffy,” Giles supplied.
“It’s bad enough that she’s the Slayer, but now she’s one third of this ‘Power of Three’ thing. Won’t she be even more of a target now?”
“Well, ummm, yes, I suppose so,” Giles admitted. “But the good news is that she’s not alone. She has Willow a-a-and Tara, and the three of them will be quite formidable.”
“And that’s another thing,” Joyce continued, setting her cup on the table. “This threesome relationship...it worries me.
“Joyce, you’ve seen them together,” Giles said. “Do you really doubt the depth of their feelings for each other?”
“No, no, not at all,” Joyce said. “It’s clear they love each other very much. In fact, I’ve never seen Buffy so happy.”
“Then what’s troubling you?”
“Right now, their relationship is still new, but after time...well, these things never turn out good. They’re just too hard to maintain, with jealousy and—”
Giles interrupted Joyce’s worry-rant by taking her hand in his. He waited until she met his eyes. “What they have is very real, and it will last. Of that, I am absolutely certain.”
Joyce smiled in gratitude, reassured by Giles’ confidence. She touched his cheek. “I don’t know what I would do if you weren’t here to help me through this.”
It was Giles’ turn to smile. He leaned in and kissed Joyce gently on the lips. She kissed him back and then snuggled against his shoulder with a sigh. He wrapped his arm around her, holding her tightly.
* * *
Willow and Tara and Buffy were naked and piled up in the bed they had improvised by pushing Buffy’s single bunk next to Willow’s. Willow was against the wall, Tara in the middle, and Buffy on the outside. Willow and Tara were giggling as Buffy pointed to a scar on her side and finished explaining the wacky way she had received it while fighting a demon.
“Well, that certainly beats my story, but I’ll tell it anyway,” Willow said, shifting her position so that she faced both of her girlfriends. “See this scar on my nose?” she asked. When Buffy and Tara nodded, she continued. “A dog ripped it open when I was two.” Buffy and Tara both made alarmed faces. “No, no, it wasn’t like that,” Willow amended. “See, he was kissing me, and then his tooth got caught in my nose, and he was trying to get it out, and he just ripped my nose apart. Weird, huh?”
“And here I thought you just had a nose-piercing that went horribly wrong,” Buffy teased.
“As if!” Willow replied, giving Buffy’s leg a playful push. “Like my parents would have allowed that!”
Almost simultaneously, Buffy and Willow looked at Tara as if expecting her to chime in with her own version of the name-that-scar game.
Tara smiled and shook her head. “Oh, I-I-I don’t have any scars,” Tara insisted.
“Sure you do,” Willow said, taking Tara’s left hand and turning it over. “You’ve got the one on your palm.”
“Oh, I m-m-mean I don’t have any with funny stories attached to them,” Tara corrected.
Buffy looked at Tara’s hand and ran her finger down the long scar that crossed her palm. “Where did you get that?” she asked.
Tara quickly pulled her hand back. “It was just a stupid accident in the kitchen,” she mumbled, hanging her head for a moment. “Look, we should probably go to sleep if we want to make that estate sale before our morning classes.”
“Yeah, sure,” Buffy replied as Tara fluffed up her pillows and lay down in the bed. Buffy looked at Willow questioningly, but Willow simply shrugged in response. After good-night kisses all around, Buffy turned out the light, and the three settled down to sleep.
* * *
At Wolfram and Hart, Lindsey dashed down hallway after hallway, trying desperately to escape. He was breathing hard, running in a panic. When he rounded a corner, he came sliding to a halt as Holland Manners, flanked by a pair of guards, blocked his only exit. Desperate, he turned back the way he had come—only to find the demon lord N’Faius standing right in front of him.
Lindsey watched in horror as his chest was suddenly penetrated by the demon’s clawed hand. Lindsey struggled in vain as he felt his life-force being sucked from his body. When N’Faius yanked his hand from the lawyer’s chest, Lindsey was faced with the sight of his own bloody heart, held in the claws of N’Faius. His mouth opened in a silent scream.
In his own bed in his own apartment, Lindsey shot up and screamed for real. His hands flew to his sweat-covered chest as he struggled to regain his breath. When he finally realized where he was, he flopped back on the bed and grumbled, laying his arm across his eyes.
* * *
The next morning, Tara was the first to awaken. When she tried to sit up, her body complained, and she groaned in discomfort. Both Willow and Buffy heard her groan and opened their eyes.
“Hey, baby,” Willow said, sitting up. “What’s wrong?”
“Ugh, my back,” Tara replied. “Next time, you’re sleeping on the gap,” she added, tapping Willow on the nose.
“We should look into getting a bigger bed,” Willow said.
“If we get a bigger bed, then we’ll need a bigger room,” Buffy suggested with a smile.
“You know, I hear there are some off-campus places that are way cool for groups to go in on,” Willow said.
Tara grinned, and the other two instantly joined her.
* * *
After eating a quick breakfast, Buffy and Tara and Willow headed for the estate sale they were hoping to visit before classes. As they entered the decrepit mansion, they saw Giles already there, examining the items on a small table near the stairs. While Buffy went to meet with Giles, Willow and Tara moved toward the tables set up in the living room off the foyer.
“You better be careful what you buy,” Buffy said as she walked up behind Giles. “You know what happened with your last purchase.” When Giles gave her a confused look, she gave him a reminder: “The Word of Valios?”
“Oh, yes,” Giles said with a chuckle. “Well, so far I haven’t seen anything like that.”
“Have you been able to come up with any additional information on this ‘Power of Three’ stuff?” Buffy asked, glancing at the items on the table Giles had been looking at.
“No, but the Council is looking into it,” he answered. “I’ve sent copies of the documents you brought back with you from the...ummm...other Sunnydale, and I’ve sent a report on what this Lindsey fellow shared with us.”
“Rats! I was really hoping to learn more about this thing.”
“Have you and Willow and Tara been working on your powers?”
“Yes, just last night as a matter of fact,” Buffy replied as she passed the stairwell and into a small alcove behind it. “We were...Ooo! Look at that!”
Buffy moved immediately to an old dagger hanging on the wall. It was tarnished but otherwise in good shape. She hefted it in her right palm, switched it to her left, then switched it back. Suddenly, she flipped it so that the blade was in her hand, and then she threw it across the room, sinking into the wall...right in front of the woman conducting the sale for the estate.
The woman jumped in fright then turned her head in Buffy’s direction. The woman straightened and placed her hands on her hips. She gave Buffy an icy stare.
“I-I-I’ll take it?” Buffy offered apologetically.
Giles rolled his eyes.
Elsewhere, Willow and Tara perused the items on the long tables lining the living room. As Tara scanned the objects in front of her, her eyes settled on what appeared to be a very old paper weight. It was made of heavy glass, multi-colored, with an emblem etched into the surface. The years had rubbed most of the emblem away; only the ghost of an image remained. Tara reached out to pick up the object, but she stopped only inches from it. She moved her hand through the air above it as if sensing something about it. She finally placed her fingers on it.
When she did, she felt an immediate shock, like the pop of a static charge in winter. She jumped and let a small yelp, and Willow was instantly at her side.
“What is it?” Willow asked.
Tara was giggling, a little embarrassed at her outburst. “That paper weight, it shocked me,” she explained. “I felt something about it and when I reached out to touch it, it shocked me.”
“Which one? This one?” Willow asked, pointing to the glass object.
When Tara nodded, Willow reached out for the object. Like Tara, she too received a small jolt and yelped in surprise. Tara began giggling again as Willow reached for the glass paper weight a second time. This time, there was no shock, and Willow was able to safely pick up the object.
“Huh,” Willow said examining the glass item closely.
Tara drew closer and touched the object Willow held. “Do you feel it?” Tara asked.
“Yeah,” the redhead replied. “Kinda warm and tingly. It’s definitely a charm of some kind. Do you think we should get it?”
“Well, it does have an emblem on it, or part of one, anyway,” Tara suggested. “Maybe we can research it, see what it can do.”
“Sounds good to me,” Willow said.
“Hey, look what I got,” Buffy said as she joined her two girlfriends. She held up her dagger for them to see. They nodded appreciatively. “What’d you guys get?”
Willow held out the paper weight in her palm. When Buffy touched it, it gave her an immediate shock, causing her to jump back. Willow and Tara began giggling. Buffy put her hand on her hip and raised an eyebrow in Willow and Tara’s direction. The giggling stopped, but the grinning didn’t.
* * *
Back at Buffy and Willow’s dorm room, the three put up their purchases and gathered their books for class. When they were ready to go, the three left together, shutting the door behind them.
Once they had left,
the glass paper weight, which Willow had set on her desk, began to glow,
pulsing faintly then growing stronger. When the glow became bright, a soft
sound started to seep from the glass; it was a high-pitched maniacal cackle
that seemed to be increasing in its intensity.
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO…