Warnings and disclaimer in Chapter 1. Enjoy.
"Look who it is," Xander said from his position from Buffy's bedside. "Look who learned a new trick." Joyce sighed as she entered the room.
"You can't talk about her like she's a dog," she grumbled, secretly glad things were becoming less awkward between the friends. Ever since they returned she could feel the tension whenever they talked to Buffy. Her friends just weren't sure how to act around her. She knew the feeling. She spent a few days getting over it herself. She turned to the cots, automatically checking on the infants before turning to Xander and Buffy. "Oh," she gasped, unprepared for the surprise. "She's sitting up."
"You can't talk about her like she's a dog," Xander playfully called back to her. She rolled her eyes and took the few steps over to them, giving him a casual swipe to the back of the head as she went. "Ouch," he said automatically, though it didn't really hurt. He relinquished his spot to Joyce, moving instead to the foot of the bed.
"When did this happen?" she asked, automatically grabbing Buffy's hand and squeezing. She was surprised to feel the gesture returned, even more surprised to find her daughter looking at her. It usually took several minutes of prompting to get those reactions.
"Last night," Xander said proudly. They had finished the painting party early, it only took a few hours with everyone helping, and he had offered to stay the night at the hospital. The girls also offered and she left it to them and enjoyed her night with Dawn. Dawn had left early, before she had even gotten up, and Joyce assumed she would be here. She looked around carefully and only then noticed the small pile of weapons in the far corner of the room.
"Xander what's going on?" Joyce asked in her Mom voice. Xander shifted uneasily. "Where is everyone?"
"They're fine," he quickly reassured her. "Dawn's at school and the girls are out shopping for baby things. You remember the nursery don't you? Well apparently shopping and baby things just have the woman folk squealing with excitement. I will be doing the manly assembling thing as soon as they get back."
"Xander," she interrupted him. "What happened?" He sighed.
"Have you seen Giles?" he asked cryptically. She shook her head. "Maybe you should. He's across the hall with Gregory and Ben." She immediately left the room only to be stopped in shock as entered the next room.
"Oh my God," she said, taking in the bruised forms inside. "What happened?"
"There was another attack," Giles said, getting up from the bed he was sitting on gingerly and limping over to her. "A demon. We managed to stop it, but not without taking a few hits ourselves." She scanned over the men. Giles had his right ankle wrapped up and was limping. He also had several scratches down his cheek that she knew would disappear in a few days. Ben also had several scratches and was holding his chest carefully, but Gregory was another story. There were several large scratches down his back, which Ben was trying to dress when she came in, as well as several bite marks on his arms and bruising down the entire length of his body.
"A demon did this?" she asked, looking between the men. Gregory was definitely the worst between them.
"No," he said between pained gasps. "Several vampires did this."
"But you said demon," she protested.
"The initial attack was a demon," Giles told her calmly. "Well, a group of demons actually. They charged into the room before we even knew they were there. Luckily Spike was also there. He was able to push them back into the hall and eventually outside when they ran. He went to follow them and I went to help also. They are all dead."
"Then what is this?" she asked, gesturing to Gregory's injuries.
"Ben and I were discussing raising the bed to help Buffy breath easier," Gregory told her, "when the demons attacked. When Rupert chased after them, Ben and I decided to continue. That's when the vampires attacked us. I would have been killed without Ben's help."
"It was nothing," he shrugged, blushing slightly. "I just kept them occupied till Xander and Anya arrived. Then they took care of it."
"And the ones after them," Gregory threw out.
"How many altogether?" Giles asked. "Spike and I got back at the tail end of the attack." Gregory shrugged and carefully pulled his shirt back on.
"I lost count after the four that you dusted," he said, reaching for his lab coat.
"Your first vampire attack?" Joyce asked knowingly, seeing how shaken the Watcher was. He nodded.
"They teach you about these kind of attacks in the Academy, but to experience it first hand is something entirely different." He looked over to Giles. "How you were able to jump in like that is something I doubt I will ever be able to do. It's almost like you're a Slayer yourselves. All of you."
"Not a Slayer," Giles told him, "just taught by one."
"But you're her Watcher," Gregory argued. "Aren't you supposed to be teaching her?" Giles smiled.
"There are many things they teach at the Watcher's Academy. Very few translate into the real world, especially to Watchers who have Slayers." Gregory nodded, beginning to understand.
"No wonder Kate just laughed at our teaching methods."
"Kate might not have spent a lot of time around Slayers," Giles commented as he led the group back to Buffy's room, "but she spent enough time in the real world to know when things will work and when they won't." They were interrupted by a commotion coming from Buffy's room. They rushed in just in time to see Xander dusting another vampire. Joyce rushed over to him, brushing off the dust before pulling him into a hug.
"Are you okay?" she asked, pulling away from the hug to look critically up and down his body.
"I'm fine," he said, putting on his best goofy grin before noticing the others. "I'd say you should see the other guy, but then you're standing in him." Joyce immediately looked down and jumped back as she saw the pile of dust she was standing on. The twins decided that was the perfect time to wake up and she rushed over to them instead. "Okay, this is so not the normal 'we're gonna kill the Slayer' groupie mentality. Something is going on here Giles. We haven't had this many vampires in one place since the Mayor."
"He knows about the Mayor?" Gregory spoke up. Giles sighed.
"He was there. One of the many battles he has fought in and one of the many apocalypses he has helped avert."
"Don't you Council twits talk amongst yourself?" Spike asked as he limped back into the room. "Unless Watcher here has been deliberately keeping secrets from you, not that I would blame him one bit." Giles shook his head.
"Apparently not as thoroughly as I thought," Gregory said, thinking deeply.
"It's Council politics," Giles said knowingly. "They try to limit the information any one person has to limit betrayals. The only man that knows everything that goes on is the Grand Chancellor."
"The what?" Xander asked while Joyce felt her eyes widening in recognition. Giles sighed.
"He is the head of the Watcher's Council. He oversees all branches of the Council, including that of the Slayer. He is one of the most powerful men alive today." He shared a look with Joyce, who continued fussing over the babies. Gregory frowned.
"They don't know?" he started but Giles silenced him.
"No!" he said loudly. Gregory held his gaze then shrugged, looking at his ruined clothing.
"I think I will just freshen up a bit," he told them. Xander was looking at him curiously as he rushed from the room.
"Do you know this Grand Chancellor guy?" he asked Giles.
"A bit more than I want to actually," Giles told him. Xander sighed, recognizing when Giles didn't want to talk about a subject.
"Well maybe you can call him and ask him why the entire demonic population is choosing now to attack," Xander said sarcastically as he retook his seat next to Buffy. "Cause this is not normal."
"Could it be because of the children?" Joyce spoke up. "Was Anya right? Are they going to live like this the rest of their lives?"
"Naw," Spike dismissed casually. "Don't get me wrong. They'll have targets on their back forever and we'll need to be careful, especially while they're young and can't defend themselves, but this mass attack wasn't for them. It was for Buffy."
"I think you're right," Xander admitted. "The vamps that got into the room were torn for a second. They couldn't decide whether to go for the babies or Buffy."
"And there's this," Spike held out a piece of paper to Giles. "Got it off of one of the demons last night." Giles read it silently.
"Giles?" Xander asked when Giles crinkled it up in a fit of anger.
"It's a bounty," he explained. "Someone has put a bounty on Buffy's head."
"Why?" Joyce asked, still hovering protectively over her grandchildren. "I understand why they would try to kill her before."
"To keep their involvement of The Ring secret," Giles finished for her.
"But the secret is out," she continued, "why are they still trying to kill her?"
"I don't know," Giles admitted. "But until we figure it out we should keep up our guard." Everyone nodded, knowing he was right. Xander turned to Joyce
"If you're done at the house I can have my guys start working right away."
"How long?" she asked, never wanting to get somewhere safer in her whole life.
"Two days," he told her. "Three tops. If we get the stuff in tomorrow morning like we were promised." Joyce nodded. "The nursery will be done tonight. We can move the kids tonight. And we do have that little hospital room at the house. We could move Buffy there till her room is ready."
"Not if the water's out," Joyce insisted. "We're not moving. Not until we can all move. We can't split up our defenses, not now." He nodded, knowing exactly why she was feeling this way. As if to emphasize her point four demons chose that exact moment to storm the room. Spike grabbed one and pulled it safely back into the hallway while Xander started attacking a second. The other two stood in the doorway, looking from one side of the room, where Buffy was resting, to the other, where the children were. Joyce immediately threw herself in front of the children while Giles did the same with Buffy. The demons immediately went to attack when they were pulled back by an unknown force.
"You guys sure do know how to make a girl feel welcome," Faith said casually as she decapitated the demon going for the kids. She looked back and saw Daniel and Xander struggling with their demons and immediately helped, joined by Spike a few minutes later. Seconds later it was over.
"Is everyone okay?" Joyce asked, reaching back to pick up the now crying infants. Alex quieted down right away. Giles stepped over and picked up Billy, but he was less cooperative. Everyone nodded as they tried to get the little boy to stop crying.
"Now I know why I found Red and White coming out of the baby store," Faith said, noticing the infants for the first time. "At first I thought there was something my biology teachers never told me." Xander laughed at the joke.
"You saw Willow and Tara?" Giles asked as he tried bouncing the little boy to get him to stop crying. Faith nodded.
"Delivered a few books and everything," she told him. Meanwhile Daniel was moving closer to the babies.
"Can I?" he asked, holding out his hands to Giles.
"I'm not sure that is such a good idea," Giles responded. He looked to Joyce who nodded.
"They're perfectly safe with me," he reassured them. "I take after my mother, remember?" He nodded and reluctantly gave the child over. Spike subtly moved closer in case he needed to intervene, but everyone calmed when Billy finally quieted down as Daniel rocked him. "I'm great with kids," he told them, his expression wavering when he saw the other side of the room. Faith noticed and followed his gaze.
"B?" she asked, moving over to the other Slayer. Buffy's eyes were open, but it was clear she wasn't focusing on anything in the room. Faith turned to Giles. "What the hell is going on here? L.A. is in an uproar. The demons there are going crazy with news of the Slayer's kids up here, but last time I checked I sure as hell didn't have any little Faith's running around out there and B was still missing." They quickly told her the story. She sat down heavily on the edge of the bed in shock as she heard what they knew had happened to her sister Slayer. "So let me get this straight," Faith said, struggling to get her devil may care persona back after the shock of their explanation. "We have a bounty on B's head that all the big players are going after, plus the newest little Scoobies here that all the little players will be going after. And they say this town is dead." With that she smirked at Daniel, who smirked right back. "We're in till it quiets down."
"Thank you Faith," Joyce gave them a grateful smile before putting Alex down. As soon as she did the girl started to cry again. She quickly picked up her granddaughter again, but this time Alex didn't quiet down. Joyce tried everything she could think off, including passing her off to Giles and Xander, but nothing worked. She looked at Daniel, who had Billy almost asleep in his arms and abruptly handed the baby girl to Faith.
"What?" Faith asked as she suddenly found herself with an armful of baby. "I don't know anything about babies," she said, automatically adjusting her grip on the baby so she was secure in her arms. To everyone's surprise Alex quieted down, blinking up at Faith trustingly.
"You're a natural," Daniel said, smiling at her. She rolled her eyes in response.
"Don't make me slay you later," she said, but couldn't take her eyes off the baby in her arms. Just then Anya and Dawn walked in the room.
"Are we having a party?" Dawn asked as she saw the mangled demon bodies on the floor. With a sigh Giles began cleaning up the corpses that scattered the room. Spike and Xander helped and soon the room was clean again. Just as they were getting settled Gregory reentered the room.
"We have more guests I see," he said, noticing the couple who were now holding the sleeping infants.
"This is Faith," Joyce introduced. Gregory's eyes lit up at the name.
"The Slayer," he said reverently. Faith just looked him over from head to toe.
"And her current boyfriend and my grandson, Daniel." They watched as Gregory continued to stare at Faith when suddenly his eyes got wide and he looked between Daniel and Joyce. He opened his mouth to say something several times, but all he could do is sputter.
"Some Watcher you are," Faith said, when suddenly a terrible thought came to her. She turned pleading eyes to Giles. "Please tell me he's not my new Watcher, cause I can tell you right now that won't work."
"He's not," Giles reassured her. "Gregory is one of the Council's doctors. He is here to help Buffy in her recovery." Gregory continued to look on in shock as Tara entered the room.
"Oh good. Everyone's here," she greeted before turning to Faith. "Those books were amazing. There's so many protection spells and charms that Willow and I are actually fighting over who gets to read them first."
"Hey!" Giles protested. Tara ignored him.
"Anyway there's some spells we can definitely use for the houses, some that might even work for the entire property, and some we think we can work for the hospital. Those ones are a bit trickier since it's a public building, but Willow thinks we can tweak them since this is a private ward."
"Where is Willow?" Joyce asked, her motherly concerns coming to the surface. She was the only one of her kids not there at the moment.
"She's at The Magic Box getting supplies," Tara told her, "but before she left we were able to enchant these." She pulled two large clear quartz crystals from her bag. One started glowing green while the other one remained clear.
"What are they?" Dawn asked, taking a step closer to look at them more closely.
"One is a demon detector," she explained, "that's the one that's glowing. The other will detect bad intents. At least that's what we hope it does. The writing was kinda vague."
"The glowing one detects demons?" Gregory asked, getting nervous. "Why is it glowing?"
"Why do you think?" Spike asked. Gregory just turned to him, looking confused. "Wait! You don't know?"
"Know what?" he asked, feeling jumpy. His last encounter with a demon didn't go so well and that left him a bit gun-shy. In response Spike let his fangs show. He backpedaled quickly, stopping when he felt the wall behind him, but he didn't scream though. He thought that was a plus.
"Spike," Giles groaned. Spike immediately lost the fangs.
"Sorry Rupes," he apologized. "Couldn't resist."
"A Pythian Seeing crystal," Anya said, impressed. "I haven't seen one of those for a long time. They were all the rage eight hundred years ago or so. Back when demons first started blending in with human societies." She turned to look at their confused expressions. "It glows when there's an unknown demon around," she told them. "People would keep them in their homes and shops and if it ever started glowing they would reach for their weapons first and ask questions later. Demons eventually learned to ignore those places and eventually the crystals became more legend than real and the spells were lost."
"Not lost," Tara told her, "hoarded by the Watcher's Council. Although I guess they were lost when Angel robbed them," she finished uncertainly.
"When I robbed them," Spike corrected, before looking at the Watchers. "I mean Angel. When Angel robbed them."
"Spike," Giles complained. "Please stop talking now."
"Right," he said, leaning against the wall. "Won't do much good then cause I'm not leaving which means that thing will just continue to glow."
"No, we think it can learn your presence," she told him. "The book mentioned something about the crystal learning a demon's essence if they stuck around enough. I guess there were trysts even back in those days."
"So how does it work?" he asked, reaching over and picking up the crystal, only to drop it with a cry. "Bloody thing shocked me." They watched as the crystal turned bright green, then clear, only to turn green again.
"Maybe it's sensing me," Daniel said, handing off the now sleeping child to Tara and stretching out to touch the crystal.
"But I thought you said?" Gregory started but stopped when the crystal shocked Daniel.
"Oh I am, on my mother's side," he said, looking over at Buffy with complete love and adoration. "But my father was another matter entirely. You did not want to meet him, even on a good day." The crystal once again flared before turning green again.
"Hmm," Tara said, gently putting down the sleeping infant and picking up the crystal. Nothing happened.
"Maybe it's me?" Dawn asked. "I mean I'm not exactly normal am I?" Gregory looked at her in confusion, but she just shook her head. "Don't ask." She reached over and touched the crystal, giving a small yelp when it shocked her as well.
"Dawn?" Joyce asked, immediately taking Dawn's hand in hers and inspecting it.
"I'm fine Mom," she protested, but let her mother inspect her hand. "It's just like those electric shocks you get when you shuffle your feet on the carpet and reach for a door knob." Joyce nodded and turned back to the crystal. It once again was glowing green. She tentatively reached her own hand out, but nothing happened.
"Maybe it senses the demon in me?" Anya suggested, reaching out to grab the crystal. "I mean I was one for over a thousand years." She grabbed the crystal without getting shocked. She passed it onto Xander, who also did not get shocked. Giles reached for it next.
"Perhaps my dark past?" he thought, but he also got no shock. He passed it to Gregory, who the group was watching with suspicion now, but he also was able to handle it safely.
"It couldn't be the kids could it?" Faith asked, handing over her baby to Dawn and reaching out to the crystal. She yelped when it shocked her. "I thought it detected demons?" she asked. Tara nodded her head. "I'm human. Why did it shock me?" Giles suddenly groaned. "G?"
"The origin of the Slayer," he told the group, "is rumored to be demonic."
"You mean the First Slayer we saw in our dreams after beating Adam?" Xander asked. "She didn't look all that demonic. Creepy and in bad need of a facial and a haircut, but not demonic."
"Yes, well, it is one of the great mysteries of the Watcher's Council. Something akin to our version of the 'Holy Grail'. Unfortunately, all the information from that time has been destroyed or lost to time. We only have theories, but the most common and accepted one is that the Watchers of the time imbued a regular girl with the essence of a demon. That essence is what travels from Slayer to Slayer, so in theory once activated a Slayer could be regarded as part demon."
"Cool," Faith said, taking a seat and putting her feet up on the bed, "but if that's the case then I'm not the only part demon Slayer here." She looked over to Buffy, who had once again closed her eyes. Giles sighed, taking the crystal over to his Slayer. He held it next to her hand, but nothing happened. He looked back to Tara. Tara only shrugged.
"Maybe she has to be the one to reach for it?" Anya guessed. "Willingness is always a huge factor in these older spells." Giles nodded, turning back to Buffy. He was unprepared to find her staring at him.
"Buffy?" he stuttered. This was the first time she acknowledged anyone's presence but her mother, and he wasn't quite prepared for the intensity of her gaze. "I need you to do something for me," he told her, holding the crystal next to her hand. "I need you to reach out and touch this. Please. It is very important." Her eyes never left his, but he knew when she did what he asked. It took her several minutes to cover the inches keeping them apart, but she eventually found her hand on the crystal. She jerked in reaction to the shock and Giles had never seen a more beautiful sight. Again the crystal glowed, though this time it did not change from its clear color. Buffy's hand shifted again and Giles eagerly held it in his own.
"So now we'll at least know if there's a demon nearby," Tara told the group. "The other one works the same way when there's violence, but we're not sure if it needs physical violence to trigger it or if thoughts of violence are enough."
"It's more than we had. Thank you Tara," Joyce said, coming over to hug the witch just as Willow walked in. They all immediately checked the crystal, but it continued to stay clear.
"Did it work?" she asked distractedly as she pulled out various ingredients from her bag. "We need to work quickly on this protection spell. I passed four different groups of demons that were preparing to storm the hospital on my way back here." Faith and Daniel immediately went over to the windows and opened the blinds enough to look out. Tara and Willow quickly set up their spell.
"There's a group of Fyarl demons," Faith said.
"And a group of Prowlers," Daniel added, "not to mention the vampires that were already here." He turned to the witches. "You guys might want to start chanting. I see a group of chaos demons heading to the doors and nobody wants them to get inside." Nodding, the witches began chanting, a glowing circle of energy beginning to form between them. Suddenly the energy bubble burst out, leaving the girls winded and panting on the floor.
"Are you alright?" Joyce asked, predictably the first one to get there. They nodded. Daniel turned his attention back outside.
"They're almost to the door," he told them, watching their progress. He watched as they reached the handles, only to find themselves being thrown backward with a powerful unseen force. "It worked," he told them, watching as another group of demons tried to get through with the same results.
"What spell did you use?" Giles asked softly, still unable to tear his eyes away from Buffy, who was still staring at him.
"A tweaked version of a home protection spell," Willow answered. "The only downside is one of us has to stay here all the time or the spell will collapse."
"I'll appreciate the company," she told them. "I'm not leaving until we can take all of them home."
"As exciting as this has been," Gregory said into the sudden silence, "We did have an appointment Joyce."
"Right. Breathing 101." Joyce took her customary point on the bed. She reached for Buffy's hand, but Buffy kept holding onto Giles's hand like a lifeline. It took Buffy several extra minutes to focus on her mother, her gaze kept drifting away and falling onto Giles. He quickly realized he was distracting them and let go of her hand, carefully backing away. Joyce took his place, grabbing her daughters hand and in seconds she had Buffy's full attention. Soon they were doing their breathing exercises. Gregory pulled on his stethoscope, listening to the sounds of Buffy breathing before he looked up at Joyce.
"I think we can lose the vent now," he said happily. He pushed the call button and a minute later the nurse poked her head in. After a brief conversation she left, returning a few minutes later with a tray full of equipment. "Okay Joyce," he said, positioning himself on the opposite side of the bed. She nodded. He had already discussed everything with her and Giles and they both knew what they needed to do. Joyce was already coaching Buffy, telling her to breathe deeply, when Gregory pulled the breathing tube out. He passed it over to the nurse, and they both stood ready in case they needed to insert the tube again. They watched in silence as Joyce tried to get Buffy to breath, and as the first minute passed he was seriously contemplating putting the tube back in when Buffy took her first breath in a very long time.
The group cheered quietly as she took a second then a third breath, her body quickly becoming used to the familiar sensation of breathing again. Soon she didn't need the encouragement anymore. The nurse gathered up the equipment they used and left the room. Gregory came over and began to fit a nasal cannula onto her face. "Her numbers are still a little low," he explained. "This is just helping her." She surprised everyone when she turned her head to the side, away from the doctor and his piece of equipment.
"I don't think she likes it," Dawn remarked casually. Gregory tried reaching for her again, trying to set the cannula into the proper place, but again she moved her head.
"Do you know what this means?" Joyce asked, her eyes tearing up.
"That she is every bit as stubborn as you've been saying?" Gregory asked as he tried once again to fit the equipment to his patient. He sighed in defeat. "A little help here?" Joyce immediately jumped in and Buffy focused on her, allowing Gregory to apply the tubing to her face. He quickly hooked up the oxygen and adjusted the flow, happy when he saw her oxygen levels starting to rise. "I doubt we'll need it for long," he told her mother. "And yes I know what it means. It's a good sign that she's starting to show interest and interact with her surroundings." He smiled gently at her. "I think it's best if we let her get some rest." They looked down and saw Buffy's eyes were already closing again. Joyce squeezed her hand, happy when Buffy returned the squeeze automatically.
"Well it looks like the demons have scattered," Faith said from her position at the window. "I don't think they've gone far though. Probably just waiting for tonight," she told the room. "Which means we should too. I think we should probably get some rest," she motioned to Daniel.
"We have the whole floor," Spike said as he too headed for the door. "I'll be across the hall. Try to keep the noise down lovebirds," he said as he disappeared. Faith and Daniel just smirked.
"I hate spending time in a hospital," Faith said as she headed out the door. "The things I do for you B."
"And the things I'll do to you," Daniel replied, grabbing Faith around the waist as they exited the room.
"Did anyone else just have very disturbing thoughts running through their heads?" Xander asked. All of the girls nodded. He shook his head to clear it. "Well I better be off. The sooner I get the boys working on the room the sooner it will get done." Anya joined them and they were happily chatting as they made their way out. Willow pulled a book from her bag and the two witches climbed onto one of the beds and started reading it. Giles looked at them longingly.
"You can have it when we're done," she told him, knowing what he wanted.
"But," he started, only to stop when she hardened her face.
"Resolve face," she said simply. He hung his head in defeat. "Besides there are others you can read in the bag."
"But I wanted to read that one," he whined before sighing. "I guess there's nothing for me to do but wait," he said, only to have Joyce hand him a bottle.
"There's always something that needs doing with newborns," she told him, placing Alex in his arms. "Doubly so when it's twins." She took Billy and soon both infants were nursing contentedly. Dawn watched in peace as her Mom and Giles both got lost watching the babies.