harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote in spanderverse,
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The Family We Choose, chapter 2 of 7

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

POV: Shifts Perspective

Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and Spanderverse: stories.

Notes: Story number twelve in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Hunting Our Needs”. Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse.

People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.

Thanks to the authors of Fanfiction, wherever you may post. It’s probable that I’ve read at least one of your stories somewhere. I apologize for recycling concepts inadvertently from the plentitude of stories I’ve read.

Note that this story begins the same night as Chapter 10 of ‘Hunting Our Needs’. In addition, it is the night before Tara’s 20th birthday and two weeks or so before Thanksgiving (November for our non-American audience).

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The Family We Choose

Ch 2 – Preparations

 

Spike was in a right fury with the way things had ended with Buffy at the Bronze and that anger had barely lessened over the past six hours. Outside of the crypt, daylight was approaching. He could smell it in the pre-dawn air even though the little opened vents near the ceiling of the place was still showing deep darkness.

 

Harmony wasn’t back yet and Spike was torn between relief and more anger. The bubble-headed bitch was supposed to have retrieved him the next time Riley visited the cathouse, but so far… nothing. He was afraid the git might end up backing off and Spike had lost his chance to show Buffy just what her “love” was up to.

 

His tracking back and forth led him near the plastic mannequin’s torso that he’d been using to practice talking to Buff. It was covered in the ambient dirt of the mausoleum and still had a few dried and unidentifiable bits from the dump where it’d been retrieved. He stood stock still in the way only a vampire could staring holes into the thing.

 

“Bitch! Think you’re better than me? Hah! Think you know what love is? With the Great Bloody Poof and the Cardboard King? Stupid little skirt playing games… you couldn’t handle a true love. Sometimes I could just…,” Spike raised a heavy dark boot and slammed it down on his faux-Buffy crushing the plasti-torso easily. Just for good measure he yelled at it, asking how good that felt for ‘her’. With a vicious kick, the head was sent careening into the wall and smashed into three large chunks. He then grabbed the wig and held his lighter to it, laughing as the flames consumed it and he heard Buffy’s voice in his head begging him to stop.

 

As the flames reached his fingers and began to scorch him, he dropped the flaming piece to the cement floor and watched the noxious smoke rise from its melted remains. As a calmness descended back upon him, he heard Joyce’s voice in his mind: Maybe you only think you love her, Spike. Maybe you’re just obsessed with her because she’s the Slayer and you haven’t been able to dominate her any other way.

 

“No,” he whispered, “That’s not true.” But he was surprised to realize the demon had come on him and he was in full fang mode. Through force of will he subdued his rage and reformed his borrowed face. Lighting a cigarette and pulling a deep drag, he wondered, not for the first time and not the last, what had happened to him; what the chip had done to his screwy brain.

 

It was this moment when Harmony decided to make her grand entrance. Spike could see the flush of her cheeks as no doubt human blood saturated her body. He envied and hated her. When was the last time he’d been able to bite into screaming flesh and felt the dregs of life slip away from his writhing victim? Hell, when was the last time he’d even allowed himself to drink from a plasma bag? No, he was a good little demon. Keeping himself existing, but not really living, on pig and cow. He felt demeaned and frustrated and having Harmony so close with that human blood in her only made him feel worse. It wasn’t like he couldn’t fang a fellow demon… he could bite her right now before she knew what hit her and suck until she was empty and turning to dust or whatever happened when a vampire was starved of blood.

 

“Hey Blondie, what have you been doing with your evening? Isn’t it beautiful tonight,” she said, completely unaware of his mood.

 

“Where you been, Harms? I was expecting a little gift wrapped commando sometime tonight. What the hell happened?”

 

“Sorry, Spikey. I hung around Sandy’s place as long as I could, but he just didn’t show,” she smoothly lied. “Don’t worry though, he will sooner or later. You know how humans are. And I was able to recruit Sandy to put Riley off next time until she can find me.”

 

“Strange,” Spike worried at his eyebrow with a distracted gesture from his hand, “I would have thought he’d be back by now. He sure hasn’t been around Buffy much as far as I can tell. I wonder what the bugger is up to?”

 

Harmony only shrugged in boredom. She was so completely finished with Spike’s ridiculous infatuations with Buffy and Riley. Of course, at least it stopped him from blathering on about wonder-zero Xander. Whatever had happened to Spike with that chip in his head, he wasn’t the suave Master Vampire she’d hoped for. But still, he did have his uses.

 

“Wanna fool around?”

 

Spike glanced over at her and gave her a shrug. “Sure, why not?”

 

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Later that morning found Xander playing a little hooky again from work. He’d been to the site and gotten his guys started then ducked out to go to the Bronze with Willow. While she finalized everything for tonight’s celebration with Mr. Omart, insisting that Xander would have the damage repaired in no time, Xander himself was installing a new window. It was amazing how much money you could make on the side just fixing stuff the monsters broke. Not that this was Spike’s fault, according to Buffy they had a robo-girl who didn’t tolerate dirty talk.

 

Xander shushed mentally to Hyena whose hackles were up at the thought that the vampire was trying to make time with some bar tramp. Commando, of course, reminded Xander that he still could give it another try with Anya. Both of them were less than helpful when they couldn’t agree with each other, and right now he could have used a little solidarity since he, himself, was so damned confused.

 

“Xan,” Willow’s questioning voice broke into his reverie.

 

“Huh? Oh, sorry, Wills. My mind drifted a bit there,” he gave her a grin.

 

“Please tell me I didn’t just lie my face off. You will have this thing fixed in ‘no time’, right?”

 

He gave her a brief laugh and jokingly said, “Hey… would I want to disappoint my best bud and piss off a major Wicca to boot? Don’t worry. Tara’s party is happening here tonight come Hellbeasts or high water.”

 

“Well, you’re doing a great job…, uh, I guess. Construction? Not my deal, but if you need support to get it done, I’m right here for ya.”

 

“Relax, Willow. Told ya… no problemo. Hey, I didn’t tell you my news! I think we have a buyer on my folk’s place. I mean, not that I’m not feeling a tad bit guilty what with the whole Hellmouth issue, but I figure I’ll throw in a free life-savage sometime.”

 

“Oh, well that’s great! I mean, Anya will be happy that you can spend the extra on her instead of that mortgage, right?”

 

She immediately noticed a sudden change in her oldest friend’s demeanor. It was nothing obvious and if they weren’t so close she might have missed it. But they were that close, and she didn’t. “Okay, Xan… spill it.”

 

Xander shot her a bemused glance before returning his attention to what he was doing. Over his shoulder he said, “You’re not using magic telepathy to read my mind, are you?”

 

“Hah! Doesn’t take a mind reading spell for me to read you like a book, you know that. So come on, get it out… don’t make me resort to my resolve-face again.”

 

“No, we wouldn’t want that, would we? It’s just… I’m not sure things are working out with Anya anymore. I mean, I know they’re not. And it’s not even our fault really… it’s just things are different now. Anyway, I know I have to break up with her and I don’t know how to do it without ripping her heart out… uh… metaphorically speaking.”

 

“Oh, wow,” Willow said. She was caught between sympathy and elation and felt like a bitch being happy at this turn of events. Not that Anya was entirely objectionable, but she was… Anya and Xander deserved better. “I’m sorry Xander. Really. I knew there was tension between you guys lately, but I didn’t realize it had gotten so bad.”

 

“Things aren’t ugly or anything,” he was quick to add, “But I’m sure they will be when I dump her. It’s just, that whole thing with Toth and my counterparts and all….”

 

“Oh, yeah,” Willow exclaimed and went on with a laugh in her voice. “That was pretty freaksome with that Hyena-Xander tackling Spike and sucking on his neck. And then that Soldier-you admitting that Spike was really cute and….”

 

Her stream of Toth related babble dried up in mid sentence when she saw Xander quickly look away from her. It must have been really embarrassing remembering all of that, but what caught her off guard was the tell Xander was showing whenever he felt guilty over something. Guilt? What would Xander have… to… feel… gui…?

 

“Oh? Oh! OH!” Willow practically screamed, as his face began to burn with shame.

 

Nothing got by Willow; she knew him too damned well for his own good.

 

“Tone it back a notch, Will. If your eyes get any wider you’re going to turn into anime.”

 

“Xander… I’m… uh… I’m….”

 

“Yeah, I know the feeling.”

 

Willow’s mouth gaped as she tried to form a coherent response before it finally snapped shut all together. In lieu of words, she went over to him and wrapped him in a big hug. She remembered quite vividly how terrifying it was when she had to explain to Buffy why Oz’s return was ‘complicated’. Wondering how long it would be before their friendship disintegrated… what Giles would think… she couldn’t even bring herself to tell Xander; he’d had to find out during that stupid argument. Bad times, and she quickly pushed them out of her mind… things had turned out alright after all. She hadn’t given the people who loved her enough credit; even her parents barely blinked when she came over with Tara in tow holding hands these days.

 

“So, uh,” she started when she felt like she wasn’t going to say something stupid, “Does this mean you and Spike are… you know, together?”

 

“No! No, we’re just friends… sometimes. At least, when he’s not trying to kill my other friends. God, no wonder Buffy was a mess when she fell for Angel. Anyway, on my part there are still these feelings that haven’t gone away after we were all merged back together. It’s taken awhile, Wills, but I think I was already falling for him and just didn’t want to see it as far back as the ‘Basement of Doom’. He’s… funny, you know? I mean, sometimes he’s just a jerk, but who isn’t in this group?”

 

“What does he think? Oh, does he like you too… I mean in that way?”

 

Willow was grinning broadly now, getting caught up in the whole romance of the thing. He’d seen her do the same thing with Giles and Jenny and with Buffy and Angel. Poor romantic Willow; always rooting for the underdogs to get together.

 

“Are you kidding? I’m not about to tell him that I’m checking out his face and falling into his blue eyes at every turn.”

 

“Oh my god, that is so romantic!”

 

Guess I know Willow as well as she knows me, Xander thought with amusement. Did I call it or what?

 

“It’s not romantic. It’s disturbing. And kinda hot, yeah, but I mean there’s hurting Anya and facing what Spike does when he finally clues in and God! What is Buffy and Giles going to say after I was such an asshole with the whole Angel thing?”

 

“Hey, already been through the big fear here. But believe me Xan, if you don’t at least explore this with Spike… talk it out with him, you’re going to regret not taking the chance forever. And as for Anya… well, it’s too bad she’s going to be hurt, but… you know, things happen sometimes between couples.”

 

“Most exes can’t cast real hexes. Or invite their best Vengeance Demon friends to dump suffering on their offending ex.”

 

Willow blanched, having not thought through the ramifications of pissing off Anya. Xander wished he hadn’t thought that far ahead too, it would’ve made it easier to bite the bullet by now and get it over with.

 

“I’ll start working with Tara on counter measures. I mean, just in case of a worst case scenario thing…,” Willow went quiet before wrapping him in another hug.

 

“I better get back to this repair job,” he said as he extracted himself. “Window’s not going to repair itself… though if you could find a spell like that, it’d be real helpful around here.”

 

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Tara left Choir fumbling a little with the stack of music sheets she carried when a man’s hand reached out and helped her. She recognized its owner immediately, even before she glanced up at the man’s face.

 

“D-donnie! Uh, hi.”

 

Her brother relieved her of the stack of loose sheets and slung an arm possessively around her shoulders. “Hey T. Dad’s waiting up in your room. He wants to see where a good place for your birthday dinner would be before we head out.”

 

“Y-you’re leaving, t-today?”

 

We’re leaving tonight. I’m telling you sis, I’ve missed you. Cousin Beth does too. She’ll be so relieved when she can concentrate on her own family’s homestead again.”

 

Tara’s eyes widened as fear stabbed her in the stomach. Donnie’s prior comment had just occurred to her. “Daddy’s up in my room?”

 

“Yeah… the R.A. let us in. You really should’ve cleaned up that junk, Tara. You know how he feels about you flirting with your evil powers. It don’t matter how good it feels, you promised him when you left that you’d fight using ‘em.”

 

By the time they reached Tara and Willow’s dorm room, Tara was quaking inside. She could see everything she’d worked for being torn down around her by her family. And yes, okay, she was part demon and maybe her powers did have some kind of evil attached to them, but she helped people! She used her knowledge and skills to fight the very evil her daddy was so afraid of! It wasn’t right that they come here and tear her life apart. Well, she wasn’t going to tolerate this; she was an adult now and could do what she wanted. She wasn’t going to let even her daddy ruin what she’d found with Willow!

 

All of her bravado and determination held until she opened the door to find her father’s severe features scowling in displeasure at her. He let his eyes sweep over her room: the Wicca protection symbol over the bed, the drying clumps of herbs in the window, her test tube rack of experimental potions. When his eyes met hers again, she couldn’t stop herself from immediately staring at the floor, allowing her hair to cover her face in a way she hadn’t in the past year. She felt five again and could only hope she didn’t pee her pants when he started his ranting.

 

“I should’ve known you’d be too weak to be left to your own judgment, Tara.” Her daddy sighed and her heart broke. “You know you’re only making the demon stronger by placating it with your spells and bric-a-brac. Well, I guess it’s my fault, too. You so wanted to go away to college and when I see your mother in you, I get soft. But I am very, very disappointed Tara. You promised me on the phone that you’d fight using your powers, but this looks to me like you didn’t even make the attempt.”

 

“D-d-daddy, I help p-people,” she said in a small voice. She hated her stutter. She hated that she couldn’t raise her head and meet his eyes. She hated being weak like this, but its how it had always been when he chastised her. Even coming here to California and living on her own hadn’t given her the backbone to tell him to shut up and get out.

 

“Good Lord on high, do you hear yourself?”

 

Tara, listen to daddy. He knows what you need,” Donnie offered. He felt sorry for his sister, but he knew this was for the best. Once she returned home, things would be better for everyone.

 

“Who knows what darkness you’ve brought into people’s lives with your meddling? No, you’re coming home with us tonight. We’ll stop somewhere on the road and eat. Now you pack your things and you go and tell your friends good-bye. We can call the college admissions office from home and tell them that you’ve dropped out.”

 

She stood staring at the floor as tears flooded her eyes. She was going to be like Cousin Beth… doing all of the chores around the house and then getting married off to whoever would have her and having her workload doubled. She’d never be able to get her degree in Teaching and Literature. She’d never be allowed to have a girlfriend and marry her and maybe adopt a child someday and just have her own life that she built with her own two hands.

 

“I know this upsets you, Tara. But it’s for your own good. I’m not going to let you get lost the way your poor, dead mother did. You need help to protect yourself from yourself and we’ll be there for you every step of the way. Your family loves you, Tara. No matter what you’ve done here. Now, please, don’t make things worse by disobeying me. I know you don’t want me to go to your friends and bring your demon forth for all of them to see. How long do you think they’d stand by you knowing how you’ve lied and betrayed their trust? My way is the only way for you to know any peace of mind, girl!”

 

She managed to remain still and silent, despite the tears until she heard her brother’s heavy tread clomping down the hallway. Then she quickly lost it in terrible sobs. But even as she cried she was determined not to take what her father was shoveling on top of her. She’d had a spell in mind for a while now, just in case it became necessary and she quickly broke out her black candles, desert sand, a symbolic black scarf to cover sight and the book holding the chant she’d need. Casting a circle with the sand and lighting the candles she reached out for the magic within her and without to blind her friends to her demon half.

 

It didn’t matter if her daddy tried to summon it forth for all to see. Her friends wouldn’t notice it anyway and once her family was convinced to go away and leave her alone she’d reverse it. She would harm none, as Wicca demanded and in the long run she’d be able to keep helping people. She whispered an apology directed at her daddy for her disobedience and then call upon Blind Cadria to work her will.

 

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In the hospital’s locker room, Ben prepared to change from his scrubs to his street clothes. A chill ran up his spine and he hesitantly called out if anyone else was in the room with him. He received nothing in reply but a rasping sound that seemed almost too quiet to notice. But Ben did notice it; after all he was surrounded up to his neck in supernaturalness. As he crept forward, he regretted not keeping a ball bat in his locker.

 

The Lei-Ach demon crept as quietly as possible through the locker room. It was hungry and its tongue scented the air. He could smell a human nearby and he began salivating in anticipation of the human’s brain. Barbs extended from the two tips of its bifurcated tongue in ready for piercing the human’s skull.

 

 A moment later and the Lei-Ach stood frozen and confused. The human’s scent was gone and in its place came the smell of vanilla and jasmine and something else; something powerful. He was still trying to figure out what to do when a female appeared next to him, as if from thin air and grabbed him in an iron grip.

 

The smell of power was overwhelming and the demon spit out its tongue in an automatic defensive gesture. The hand tightened painfully on his throat and pushed him into a wall.

 

“Now, now,” Glory said with a small and snide looking smile, “Believe me when I tell you, those barbs aren’t going to do you any good anyway.”

 

When the Lei-Ach began to hiss something rather rude at her, she gave it a vicious shove. The demon’s head connected with the wall rather solidly and it went out like a light.

 

“Goru, are you still following Ben?”

 

“I’m here Mistress,” Goru said from behind her.

 

“Drag this thing to my penthouse. I have a job for it.”

 

“Of course your Most Specialness,” the minion bowed and scraped. It continued smiling and scraping toward his goddess as it tried to yank and pull at the Lei-Ach, all without budging it more than an inch.

 

“Oh, good gracious! Get out of my way, I’ll carry it myself!”

 

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End Chapter 2

 

Tags: btvs, buffy, fanfiction, harsens-rob, spander, spanderverse, the family we choose
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