THE POWER OF THREE
Book 2 Part 03

By DragonWriter17

 

Rating: R

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.

Pairings: Willow/Buffy/Tara

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. 

Number of Chapters: 16

Complete: 16

Chapter Summary: Buffy and Willow and Tara discover who the real prankster is.  The perpetual travelers, the Rosenbergs, finally return home, and Willow is forced to come out to her parents.

Return to the Home Page       Return to BtVS Stories

PART ONE       PART TWO       PART THREE       PART FOUR

PART FIVE     PART SIX       PART SEVEN       PART EIGHT

PART NINE       PART TEN       PART ELEVEN     PART TWELVE

PART THIRTEEN     PART FOURTEEN     PART FIFTEEN     PART SIXTEEN


PART THREE

Later that day, Buffy and Willow and Tara joined Xander and Anya at Giles’ apartment.  After the Three told the other Scoobies about the violent events of that morning, Willow and Buffy explained about the rash of pranks that had preceded them.

“Well, it does appear to be a-a vendetta of some kind against this Hershel fellow,” Giles commented.

“Yeah, sounds like Hershel pulled one too many pranks in the past,” Xander added.

Anya rolled her eyes.  “It sounds like a lower-echelon chaos demon, to me.”

“What?” Buffy asked incredulously.

“Oh yeah,” Anya confirmed.  “They love playing pranks on stupid humans.  This kinda stuff is right up their alley.”

“You think a demon is doing this?” Willow inquired.

“Well, they’re not really demons, per se, since they don’t have physical bodies,” Anya explained.  “They’re just spirit forms.”

“So, they’re like poltergeists or something?” Willow asked.

“Yeah, pretty much.  Although they don’t have physical form themselves, they can affect the material world around them: move objects, break things, slam doors, hide things...that sort of stuff.”

While Anya was talking, Giles went to his bookshelf.  He scanned the shelves and pulled out a particular volume.  Then he returned to his seat.  He skimmed the book until he found the passage he was looking for.

“Oh, here it is,” Giles announced.  “A iocosus spiritus.  A prankster spirit.”

“So how do we get rid of this thing?” Buffy asked.

“Well, it says here that you must trap the spirit in a binding crystal, marked with this seal,” Giles said, handing the book to Buffy.

Buffy took one look at the symbol, rolled her eyes, and handed the book to Willow and Tara.  When they looked at it, their cheeks reddened, and they dropped their heads.

“What?  What is it?” Xander asked worriedly.

“Oh.  Ummm...oops?” Tara ventured.

“Willow and Tara’s estate sale purchase...the crystal paper weight?  Guess what symbol was on the top of it?” Buffy said.

“Dear lord!” Giles said.

“Uh-huh,” Buffy confirmed.

“You mean you bought the prank-playing demon...at an estate sale?” Anya pressed for clarification.

“Ummm...kinda...sorta...” Willow answered.

“Well, you’ll never get your money back on that one,” Anya replied.

Willow looked sheepishly at the gang.  “We just knew it had some kind of power.  We felt it, all three of us.”

“And then it broke,” Buffy interjected.  “We must’ve triggered it somehow, when we touched it.”

“Okay, no more touching the unknown power thingees!” Xander ordered.

“W-W-We need to stop it,” Tara said in a concerned voice, “before anyone else gets hurt.”

“Okay, here’s what we’re gonna do,” Buffy announced.  “Willow, Tara, you two head to the magic shop and get what we need to do the spell.  The rest of us will handle the evacuation of the dorm.  I’ll feel a lot better about doing this if I know that no one else is in the building.  Once everybody’s out, we’ll do the spell and bind this thing for good.”

*     *     *

With the dorm now empty, the Three headed for Buffy and Willow’s room, armed with Giles’ book and the ingredients for the spell.  Once inside, Buffy and Tara started setting out the items for the spell, including the new crystal that they would use to bind the spirit.  Willow gathered the broken pieces of the original paper weight and added them to the altar.

As they worked, a high-pitched cackle began echoing in the hall outside the dorm room.  The Three froze and looked at each other, then picked up their pace.  Soon they were seated on the floor, holding hands and encircling their altar.

The Three closed their eyes and centered themselves, uniting their minds for the task before them.

“Watch-towers of the east and west, hear our cry,” Tara said.

“Guardians of the north and south, attend us now,” Willow continued.

“Powers that be, listen up,” Buffy added in her own paraphrase.

Willow and Tara opened their eyes simultaneously and sent a chastising glance in Buffy’s direction.  She just shrugged sheepishly.  Willow and Tara shook their heads.

“Lend us your strength to bind the evil one,” Tara said.

Suddenly, the high-pitched cackling became screeching, and the dorm room door slammed open with a huge gust of wind.  The glowing cloud of the prankster spirit shot around the three women, continuing its rage-filled screeching.  The wind it had created quickly became tornadic, sending papers and books flying around the room.  The Three grimaced as various objects struck them, but they didn’t break their circle.

“Protect us...as we...” Willow yelled as she ducked a large book that was moving toward her head, “...seek your power!”

The prankster spirit demolished the kitchenette next—throwing open the mini-fridge, exploding canned drinks, and pelting the Three with food items.

“A place is prepared!” Buffy shouted over the gale. “Let the evil spirit be bound!”

Iocosus spiritus concludatur!” the Three said together.

The prankster spirit’s screeching became a desperate wailing as the glowing cloud was pulled towards the new crystal, freshly etched with the binding symbol.  The spirit spiraled about the room as if caught in a whirlpool until, with a final cry, it disappeared completely into the crystal.

As soon as the spirit was bound, the wind died down, and all suspended objects fell to the floor with a thud.  The Three glanced nervously about the room and then sat up straight once the danger was over.  They let out a collective sigh.

The sigh became a giggle when they saw each other.  Their hair was nothing but a tangled mess.  Their clothes were torn and stained.  Tara had what looked like a peach slice plastered to her neck.  Willow had pieces of broken tortilla chips sticking out of her hair.  Buffy’s face was spotted with what appeared to be low-fat strawberry yogurt.  They looked like they’d had a food fight with a toddler and the toddler had won.  Their giggles quickly gave way to full-bellied hysterical laughter.

Just then, Xander and Anya and Giles burst into room.  They found Willow and Tara and Buffy on the floor, laughing uncontrollably.

“Oh, god, they’re possessed!” Xander cried.  “Call the exorcist!”

Giles knelt beside Buffy and touched her on the arm.  “Are you all right?” he asked.

Buffy laughed some more and then sat up.  “Oh, we’re fine,” she answered between giggles.  “A little bruised maybe, but otherwise okay.”  Willow and Tara also sat up.

“Did it work?  Did you capture the little weasel?” Anya inquired.

“Signed, sealed, and delivered,” Willow said, wrapping up the crystal in one of the altar cloths and handing it to Anya.

Anya peered into the crystal.  “That’s what you get,” she chided it, “you little trouble-maker!”

“Anya, please don’t taunt the evil spirit,” Giles said with rolled eyes.

Anya tried to hand the crystal back to Willow, but the redhead raised her hands defensively and refused to take it.

“I don’t think we should be the ones to keep that thing,” Willow said.

“Really,” Buffy agreed.  “We set it off once before, and we don’t want a repeat of that.”

“I’ll take it,” Giles offered, accepting the crystal from Anya.  “I’ll...ummm...make sure it’s carefully locked away.”

“Thanks,” Tara said sincerely.

“It looks like your room needs a good spring cleaning if you wanna get that deposit back,” Xander commented.

“Ugh,” Buffy groaned at the thought.  “Next time, we hold the ritual in someone else’s room.”

“How about we not have a next time?” Tara suggested.

“I like her idea,” Willow added, pointing at Tara.

“Well, why don’t we see about getting the residents back into the dorm while you three get yourselves cleaned up?” Giles suggested.

Buffy and Willow and Tara glanced at each other and nodded in exhaustion.  Then Giles and Xander and Anya left.

Willow looked at her two girlfriends.  “I don’t know about you two, but I’m way too tired to tackle this room right now.  Why don’t we go to my parents’ house instead?  We can get cleaned up and just crash.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Buffy said.  Tara nodded her head in agreement.

*     *     *

At her house on Revello Drive, Joyce got home from work at the usual time.  When she arrived, she found a FedEx package on the doorstep.  She picked it up, tucked it under her arm, and then unlocked her front door. 

After she walked inside, she put her keys and purse on the table inside the door and then looked at the package curiously.  It was addressed to Buffy Summers.  Joyce shrugged and set the package behind her purse.  Then she headed for the kitchen.

*     *     *

Once at the Rosenberg home, the Three trudged up the stairs to the second floor and into the master bedroom.  Buffy set down their bag of clean clothes they had salvaged from their trashed dorm room.  The Three quickly stripped and heaped their soiled clothes in a pile on the bathroom floor. 

While Willow started a bath in the large garden tub, Buffy and Tara each took a turn in the shower, rinsing the majority of the food residue from their bodies and washing their hair.  Willow added several bath oil beads to the hot water and then set out their towels.  As Buffy and Tara finished their showers, they entered the tub.  When Willow had showered, she did the same, joining them in the fragrant bath.  All Three leaned back and sighed with contentment.

“Oh, god, this feels soooo good,” Buffy said.

“Mmmm,” Tara agreed.

“You know, if I wasn’t so darn tired, I’d probably be all over you two,” Willow murmured.

“There’s always tomorrow,” Tara suggested in a sing-song voice.

Buffy chuckled, and Willow grinned.

After a long and thorough bath, the Three dried off, dragged into the bedroom, and literally collapsed into the bed—Tara nearest the door, Willow in the middle, and Buffy on the far side.  With the briefest of kisses and the barest of snuggles, the Three fell fast asleep.

*     *     *

The next morning, Tara was the first to awaken.  She extricated herself from Willow’s arm and turned over.  Then she leaned up in bed.  She gazed lovingly at her two girlfriends.  With her trademark half-smile, she watched as Willow reversed her position and faced Buffy, snuggling against Buffy’s chest.  The Slayer stirred slightly then unconsciously wrapped her arms around the redhead.  Tara eased out of the bed.  She found one of Mrs. Rosenberg’s robes in the closet and put it on.  Then she quietly left the bedroom and headed downstairs.

After about twenty minutes, she returned, bearing a tray containing a large carafe of coffee, three mugs and spoons, and cream and sugar.  She set the tray on the dresser and then left the room again.

Almost simultaneously, Willow and Buffy began to twitch their noses.  They sniffed the air and then opened their eyes.

“Do I smell coffee?” Willow asked.

Buffy nodded.  Then the two of them sat up.  They saw the tray across the room on the dresser.

“Tara,” they both said, realizing who was responsible for the caffeine-laden bounty.

They retrieved the tray, and then they each prepared their own cup of coffee.  They took a sip and sighed.  “Ahhh,” they said at the same time.

Just then, Tara re-entered the room, carrying yet another tray, this one covered with a large cloth.  She smiled widely when she saw that Willow and Tara were awake.

“I see my aromatic alarm clock worked,” Tara quipped.

“Oh, yeah,” Willow responded.

“Whatcha got there?” Buffy inquired.

“Breakfast,” Tara replied, setting the tray on the end of the bed.  “And more,” she added in a husky voice as she removed the robe she had borrowed.

She carried the tray to the head of the bed and put it down in front of Willow.  Then she slid back into the bed.  She lifted the cloth with a flourish and revealed a huge feast of pancakes with a choice of butter and maple syrup or strawberry glaze and whipped cream.  Buffy’s and Willow’s eyes widened when they took in the sight.

“Hope you’re hungry,” Tara said.

“Tara...ohmigod...” Willow said in amazement.

“This looks great!” Buffy added excitedly.

“Well, dig in!” Tara suggested, and the Three did just that, ravenously consuming stack after stack until all of the pancakes were gone.

Willow plopped back against her pillows and groaned happily.  “That was awesome, Tara, thank you.”

“Yes, it was,” Buffy readily agreed.

Tara smiled in response.  Then her face took on expression of mischief.  “Oh, look,” she said in mock surprise, “we didn’t eat all the strawberries and whipped cream.”  Tara caught Buffy’s eye.  “Whatever shall we do with what’s left?”

Buffy grinned impishly.  “Well, we can’t let it go to waste.  But we really need something to put it on.  Oh, I know!”

Buffy and Tara both looked at Willow, who blushed and started giggling.  While Buffy lifted the tray and set it aside on the floor, Tara folded the sheet and covers about halfway down the bed.  Buffy picked up the bowl of strawberry glaze and handed it to Tara, keeping the can of whipped cream for herself.

Tara dipped her finger in the strawberry glaze and ran it along Willow’s smiling lips.  When she was done, Buffy captured Tara’s finger in her mouth and sucked the remaining glaze away with a grin.  Then Tara kissed Willow’s strawberry mouth, running her tongue over her lips and ending with a nibbling pluck at her bottom lip.

When Tara pulled away, she turned back to the bowl of glaze.  She dipped her finger once again and ran a line of strawberry goodness down the right side of Willow’s neck.  Tara held the bowl out to Buffy, who did the same on the left side of Willow’s neck.  While Tara turned over to set the bowl on the nightstand, Buffy immediately dug in, dragging the tip of her tongue along the line of glaze, starting at Willow’s shoulder and moving up towards her ear.  With the bowl safely out of the way, Tara started in on her side, just as Buffy began round two.  Willow closed her eyes and made a strangled kind of sound deep in her throat.  She shuddered when Tara started suckling her earlobe. 

When Tara finished her side and sat up, she found Buffy shaking the can of whipped cream.  When it was sufficiently shaken, Buffy took her free hand and pulled Tara over for a searing kiss.  When Willow was able to open her eyes, she was greeted with the sight of her two girlfriends kissing deeply and passionately.

Oh, god, she thought. That’s gotta be the hottest thing I have ever seen!  Please don’t let this be a dream!

Buffy was so into the kiss that she was sharing with Tara that she gripped the head of the can too tightly and accidentally shot a stream of whipped cream between herself and Tara.  They instantly separated, laughing as they wiped at the fluffs of whipped cream that dotted their necks and faces.  When they heard Willow giggling, they turned to her.

“Looks like somebody got left out of the whipped cream event,” Tara commented.

“I should rectify that, then, shouldn’t I?” Buffy replied.

When Willow nodded enthusiastically, Buffy turned the can upside down and squirted a lopsided circle around Willow’s left nipple.  She repeated the process for the right nipple.  Then she handed the can over to Tara, who ran one then two wavy lines down Willow’s chest and stomach before setting the can aside. 

While Willow quivered in anticipation, Tara and Buffy looked at each other and grinned, then dove in, attacking Willow’s breasts in earnest.  They licked and sucked until the whipped cream was gone, then started nibbling on the redhead’s nipples.  Willow rocked in place, moaning in pleasure...until she heard her name and the attentions to her breasts stopped.  She heard her name again, louder, but then realized that it wasn’t Buffy’s or Tara’s voice.  Willow’s eyes shot open.

At the foot of the bed stood Willow’s parents, Drs. Ira and Sheila Rosenberg.  They were frozen in place, gaping at their daughter.  Then they dropped their luggage to the floor with a thunk.

“Mom!  Dad!” Willow squeaked in alarm.

*     *     *

Lindsey drew a deep breath and entered Lilah’s office for his first day on the job as her assistant.  Lilah smiled predatorily when he came in.  She stood and gestured towards the chair sitting in front of her desk.  Lindsey sat down.

“On time, I see,” Lilah said.

“Of course,” Lindsey replied.

“Before we get started, I have something I want to show you,” Lilah announced.

Lilah picked up a folder and then walked around her desk to stand in front of Lindsey.  She handed him the folder and then leaned against her desk.  She folded her arms and waited.

Lindsey opened the folder.  When he saw what was inside, he froze.  It was a stack of pages from his Power of Three file, the same pages he had photocopied earlier.  Lindsey recovered quickly and closed the folder.

“So?” he said, handing the folder back. 

“I think that Holland would find such a file very interesting,” Lilah said as she set the folder back on her desk. “What do you suppose he’d do if he knew that you’d been copying the Power of Three files?” 

“He’d assume that I was closing out my cases...as he asked me to do.” 

Lilah smiled.  “Somehow, I doubt he’d see it that way.”  Lilah stood back up and walked behind Lindsey.  She leaned over to whisper into his ear.  “Of course, a visit from the one of the mind-readers would settle everything, now wouldn’t it?” 

Lindsey got a scared look on his face, but he tried not to show it. 

As Lilah circled Lindsey, she played with the lapels of Lindsey’s coat.  “Lindsey, I want our working relationship to be...amiable,” she said as she came to a stop directly in front of Lindsey.  “And I think that’s best achieved by knowing where we stand.  Do you understand?” 

As Lilah looked down at him, Lindsey clenched his jaw and then said, “Yes, I think you’ve made that perfectly clear.” 

“Good,” she replied.  “Now let’s talk about what your specific duties will be.”

*     *     *

Sheila and Ira Rosenberg stared open-mouthed at the sight before them...until propriety dictated that they avert their gaze.  Buffy and Tara and Willow instantly grabbed the sheet and pulled it up to cover themselves.

“Mom, Dad...wh-wh-what are you doing here?” Willow said. “Y-Y-You’re not supposed to be back until tomorrow.”

“We...ummm...” Ira started.

“We got an earlier flight,” Sheila finished.

No one else said anything for the longest moment.  Eyes darted about the room, but no one spoke.  Finally, Buffy decided to break the silence.

“I think...we’d better...get dressed a-a-and cleaned up,” she offered nervously. “O-O-Or maybe that would work better the other way around,” she added with a frown.

Tara nodded in agreement.  “Yeah, we should...ummm...do that...what Buffy said.”

Ira guided Sheila to the door.  “We’ll be downstairs,” he announced in a cold voice. 

When Ira and Sheila had left, Buffy and Tara each laid a hand on Willow’s shoulder.

“You okay?” Buffy asked gently.

“No,” Willow replied in a choked voice.  “I mean, could this be any worse?” she said as tears began rolling down her face.

Tara lifted Willow’s chin and wiped the tears from her cheeks.  “Baby, I know this looks bad, but it’ll be okay.  Maybe not today, but...”

Buffy took Willow’s hand.  “Why don’t you go get in the shower, and Tara and I will take care of cleaning up the bed, okay?”

Willow nodded numbly and headed for the master bath.  Once Willow had shut the door, Buffy and Tara looked at one another, the same expression of worry on their faces.

*     *     *

After the Three had showered and the master bedroom had been returned to its former state, Willow and Buffy and Tara went downstairs.  They met beside the front door.

“Willow,” Buffy said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to leave you here by yourself.”

“Really, we don’t mind staying, we want to,” Tara insisted.

Willow shook her head.  “No, I think it’s best if you go.  I need to talk to my parents alone.”

Buffy and Tara still didn’t move.

“Really, I’ll be okay,” Willow said with a forced smile.  “I’ll catch up with you later, back at school.”

Buffy and Tara exchanged worried expressions again and then glanced back at Willow.  After a long look, they finally nodded, opened the front door, and left.

When she had shut the front door behind her girlfriends, Willow turned toward the living room.  She took a deep breath and headed in that direction.

*     *     *

Tara and Buffy walked slowly along the sidewalk on their way back to campus.  Buffy looked back once, then twice.  After the third time, she just stopped in place.

“I don’t like this.  I don’t like this one bit,” Buffy said angrily.  “We shouldn’t’ve left her there alone.”

“I don’t like it either, but we’ve got to respect her wishes,” Tara replied.  “Willow wants to do this by herself.”

Buffy’s face creased in pain.  “She’s upset, I can feel it.” 

Tara nodded sympathetically.  “I know.  I feel it too.” 

They both looked back down the street toward the Rosenberg house and frowned.  They stared for the longest time. 

Tara broke off her stare and sighed.  “Let’s just get back to school.  Willow will find us when she’s done.” 

Tara extended her hand to Buffy.  After a moment, Buffy took Tara’s hand, and the two of them reluctantly went back to their walking.

*     *     *

When Willow entered the living room, she found her parents standing in front of the sofa, heavy into their discussion.

“This is clearly an intensification of her post-adolescent need for separation from her parental figures,” Sheila speculated.

Willow slipped in completely unnoticed by her parents and sat down in the chair across from the sofa.

“Yes, she’s chosen to state her desire for autonomy in the most dramatic way possible,” Ira added.

“Mom, Dad,” Willow said in an attempt to get her parents’ attention.  They didn’t even hear her.

“I agree,” Sheila said, continuing the debate with her husband.  “First it was the ‘witchcraft’ thing, then dating that musician of hers, thank goodness that’s over with...”

“Mom, Dad,” Willow said a little louder, but with no effect on her parents.

“Not to mention her choice of university,” Ira complained.  “UC Sunnydale?  Please!”

MOM! DAD!” Willow finally shouted.

Ira and Sheila jumped, startled by Willow’s loud voice.

“I’m right here,” Willow said in a normal tone. “You can talk to me now.” 

Ira cleared his throat and attempted an authoritarian stance.  “We’d like an explanation, young lady.  We did not raise you to exhibit such...such...”

“...wanton behavior!” Sheila supplied.

“I...I wasn’t...it wasn’t...like that...” Willow said.

Ira turned back to his wife.  “An obvious case of college experimentation, sexual mores in flux, influenced by high levels of peer pressure.”

“But the fact that it was displayed before us suggests that she—”

SHUT UP!” Willow bellowed.  When her parents finally looked in her direction, she pleaded, “Listen to me.  For once, will you please listen to me?” Willow took a deep breath and continued.  “I am not going through some advanced adolescent rebellion, and I am not engaging in the obligatory college experimentation.  And before you suggest it, I’m not on drugs either, and I haven’t joined some crazy free-love sex cult.”

Her parents started to speak, but she raised her hand to stop them.

“What you saw up there was three women making love—three women in love...with each other.”  Willow paused and put on her resolve face.  “Buffy and Tara and I are in love, and we’re in a relationship with each other.  And we’re going to stay that way.  Nothing you can say or do will change that.  So I suggest you get used to the idea.”

Willow got up and left the room, with her parents calling in vain after her.  She went upstairs, gathered her things, and came right back down.  When she reached the front door, she heard her mother and father arguing in the living room.  She could tell that this was no scholarly debate.  She went to the doorway and listened.

“This is all your fault!” Ira accused.

My fault?” Sheila replied incredulously.

“Yes, you’re the one who took those pills during your pregnancy, though I urged you not to.”

“I was studying for my comps, thank you very much, and my doctor assured me they were safe,” Sheila stated angrily.  “And by the way, you were the one who seduced me that night, knowing I had my last course final the next day.”

“I didn’t think you’d get pregnant.  We used protection.”

“Well, it failed, didn’t it?  And now we’ve got a lesbian daughter who thinks she’s in love with two women at the same time!”

Tears rolled down Willow’s face.  She moved away from living room entrance and quietly left the house.

*     *     *

Willow forced herself to keep walking, though she could hardly see the sidewalk in front of her because of the tears pouring from her eyes.  She also didn’t notice Xander as he drove by and honked.

When he saw Willow so distraught, Xander immediately parked his car and ran back to where Willow was still shuffling.

“Willow!” Xander called out as he approached her.

Willow’s head shot up.  When she saw Xander before her, she threw herself into his arms.  “Oh Xander!” she cried, burying her head in his shoulder as new sobs hit her.

Xander wrapped his arms around the weeping redhead.  “Hey now, it’s okay,” he said in a soothing voice.  “I’ve got you.  What’s wrong?”

“It’s awful, Xander, just awful,” Willow replied, pulling away to look Xander in the eyes.

“What is it?  Is it Buffy and Tara?  Has something happened to them?”

“No, no...thank god, it’s nothing like that.  If it were, I’d...” Willow’s face became even more pained at that thought.

“Then what is it?”

“It’s my parents,” Willow explained.  “They’re home.”

“Ohhhh...I get it.  You did the ol’ coming out to the parental units, huh?”

Willow nodded ruefully.  “Yeah, you could say that.”

“I’m guessin’ they didn’t immediately call up PFLAG and order a lifetime membership?

“Ah, no,” Willow confirmed.  “They just gave me their usual psycho-social babble, debating the issue as if I were one of their test subjects.”  She paused, and when she began again, her voice was choked, and her tears began rolling down again.  “When I left, they were arguing...blaming each other...”

Anger entered Xander’s expression.  “If anyone oughtta be blamed, it’s them!” he said, pointing in an accusatory fashion.  Then he corrected himself, “Not that you’re being a lesbian is anything blamable, ’cause it’s not.  It’s just that...”  Xander shrugged and then continued.  “Your parents have never really...well...been parents.  They’re gone more than they’re here.  You’ve had more nannies and babysitters than I’ve had drunken family holidays.”

“They never really wanted children.  I was just an inconvenience,” Willow said sadly.  “Except when it was time to play the compare-your-child’s-achievements game with other parents.”

“I’m sure they love you, though, Will.”

“Yeah,” Willow said, unconvinced.

Xander gave Willow a grin.  “Well, as you are well aware, the Harris household isn’t about to win any Family of the Year awards either.”  Willow gave an agreeing nod to that.  “So you know what I think?” Xander announced.  “I think we make our own families.  And you’re my family, Will.  I love you, and I’m here for you.”

Willow’s eyes filled with tears once again, this time from happiness and a deep sense of being loved.  She hugged Xander tightly.  Xander kissed Willow on the top of her head and returned her hug with enthusiasm.

*     *     *

Angel  yawned and ran his hand through his hair as he exited his bedroom.  He trudged into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator, and pulled out a jar of pig’s blood.  He removed the top, placed the jar in the microwave, and heated it for a short time.  When the device beeped, he retrieved the jar and headed for the den.  After a few steps, he stopped in place as he became suddenly aware of another person in the room.

Angel’s eyes narrowed, and he growled, “Spike...”

The bleach-blonde vampire grinned as he sat slumped in the chair with his feet propped up on the coffee table.

“What are you doing here?” Angel asked in a dangerous tone as he set his jar of blood on the table.

“Oh, just passin’ through,” Spike replied. “Thought I’d stop by for a chat.”

“Still have soldier boys on your tail?”

“Uh, no,” Spike said. “What do you know about that?”

“Just what Buffy told me.”

Spike glared and then grinned again.  “Talk to Buffy a lot, do you?”

“Enough.”

“She tell you I helped bring her back from her little dimensional vacation?”

“It’s the only reason I’m not kickin’ your ass all over this room right now.”

“Now, now,” Spike said sarcastically, “as if you could.”

“Oh, I could,” Angel said, taking a step in Spike’s direction. 

Spike stood and met his grandsire’s eyes.  The two vampires stared harshly at one another until Spike finally looked away, smiling and chuckling to himself.

“So Buffy told you all about her latest adventure, did she?”

“She gave me the highlights.”

“Including her new honey?” Spike prodded.

“What?” Angel asked, a confused look on his face.  “I knew she was seeing one of those government soldier guys, but—”

“Oh, Mr. Initiative is ancient history,” Spike said over his shoulder as he headed for the exit.  “Now she’s got a new love.  Or loves, I should say.”

“What are you talking about?” Angel demanded.

“It seems Buffy’s found religion.  Now she’s worshipping at the temple of Wicca.”

Angel’s mouth dropped open, and he tried to speak but failed.  He tried again.  “Willow?  Buffy’s involved with Willow?”

Spike nodded.  “And Tina too.”

Angel looked confused.  “Do you mean Tara?” Angel asked for clarification.

“Oh...yeah...Tara,” Spike corrected. Then he returned to his needling of Angel. “Yep, the Slayer’s just up to her eyeballs in witchy goodness.  Seemed as happy as a lark.  I’m surprised she didn’t tell you.”

Angel didn’t answer.  He just stared broodingly off into space. 

Spike smirked.  My work here is done, he thought to himself.
 


TO BE CONTINUED IN PART FOUR
 


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