Title: Sweet Child
Summary: Final Book in the Weathered Series. Buffy and Spike go in search of their lost daughter but end up finding more than they expected.
Disclaimer: I own nothing; Joss, UPN, and WB own everything. Please don't sue me.
Special Thanks: To my two lovely beta readers, Haley and Karen. As always, they deserve a big 'thanks' from everyone because they catch my many, many mistakes. I would also like to thank all of you who review. I love hearing from you guys, especially those who have been faithfully reviewing since I started this thing. You guys have just been so great.
AN: Okay, so this is the last book. Feels strange to be saying that. Hopefully, it won't disappoint. Well, guys, enjoy.
Part 1: Sense of Snow
The over-crowded train cut through the blizzard like conditions with speed and power, blaring its horn as a warning to anyone foolish enough to try and stand in its way. It was still surprising how something that was as old as this machine demanded such respect from those around it. It was powerful, cold and unforgiving to those who didn't respect what it could do; yet had elegance and grace. It had a track to follow, a straight, cleared path before it. It wasn't like life, where you never knew who or what was around the corner waiting to stop you on the path. Too bad life didn't come with a cow catcher in front of it to push the obstacles out of the way. It would be so much better if it did.
Buffy sat back in her seat, staring out the window as the scenery passed by in a mesh of white, gray and more white. She hadn't seen this much snow since Prague and it was quickly reminding her why she liked living in southern California. Sure, snow might be nice to look at in pictures or watch on television, but being in the real stuff for days in and days out could really put a downer on one's spirit. It boiled down to one reason why she didn't like snow; she missed the sun.
She didn't know how Spike could live his life without it. Always in the dark, never feeling its warmth on her face, Buffy couldn't do it. Her time in the snow at least had given her one thing, a great respect for anyone who could live without the sun.
A giggle caught her off guard and Buffy turned quickly towards the sound. Sitting across from her and a few rows up was a family of four, laughing with one another. The father had his son on his lap, making faces at the toddler who would reward him with a squeal of delight. Beside him sat the mother, smiling sweetly at her boys while the daughter sat between her parents to keep warm.
The girl was maybe five, with long blond hair that was braided on either side of her head, and a large pair of blue eyes that reminded Buffy a little too much of her own child. The little girl stopped watching her brother and father and turned her attention towards the slayer that was watching them. She gave Buffy a large, childish smile, which the blonde woman tried to return weakly.
The little girl's face fell slightly, and she pulled on her mother's sleeve and whispered something in her ear. Buffy could imagine what it was. Probably something like 'Mommy, why is that lady so sad?' The mother would response 'I don't know.' Buffy had heard it enough on this trip; she knew the conversation by heart, even if she had never participated in it.
It happened every time she saw a happy family, every time she saw a child laughing, every time she saw a little girl with a head full of blonde hair; that sad, longing look would find its way onto her face. She couldn't help it. No matter how many times Giles told her that they were close to finding Dylan, no matter how many times Spike held her close and told her he loved her when they failed, that sadness remained in her eyes and would until she had her daughter back. She didn't come back from the dead just to loose her again. Even the PTB couldn't be that cruel. Could they?
But then, why not? They had been cruel her to since the day she became the slayer, the Chosen One, the protector of the world. They let her parents get a divorce so she and her mom could move to the Hellmouth because it needed her. They let her die at the Master's hands. They let her fall in love for the first time with a souled vampire, only to have him loose that very soul the first and only time they made love. They made it to where she had to kill him to save the world. They turned another slayer, the one person in the world who could understand what it's like, against her. They gave her a sister, only to send a hell god after her. They kidnapped her, tortured her, killed her and brought her back to life, and why did they do that? Because she was the slayer, the Chosen One, the protector of the world.
But she wasn't going to let that happen to Dylan. Buffy had sworn the day Dylan was born that she would die before she let her daughter know the kind of misery that often came to slayers; the loneliness, the heartache, the hard shell that they had to form around their hearts. Dylan wasn't supposed to know these, not if she could help it. But now she was gone, and Buffy couldn't protect her. It had been three months since that Halloween night; God knows what the child had learned since then.
Buffy felt someone sit down next to her, jarring the slayer out of the world she had slipped into. Giles had returned to his seat from wherever he had disappeared to earlier, and the older man sighed as he tried to get comfortable again. She was glad he had come with them this time. Even if she didn't say it out loud, she needed him, maybe now more than ever.
He glanced over at her and smiled ever so slightly. "How are you feeling?"
"Disappointed," she said simply, leaning back in her own seat. "Should've known Moscow was going to be a bust, just like the others."
"There now, it wasn't a complete waste of time. We at least know she had been there."
Buffy snorted as she thought back to the meeting she and Giles had just attended back in the Russian capital city.
"Yes, I remember that girl," the club owner said as he went about reading his business for that night. Though he had a thick accent, he spoke English rather well, something that Buffy was finding herself more and more grateful for. "Cute kid. Bit of a smart ass, though."
Giles looked as if he were trying to decide whether to speak in Russian or English before he looked over at the slayer at his side. Knowing that she didn't speak the language, he decided that he would stay with the English that the club owner had set. "Do you know who she was with?"
He shrugged while he wiped down the counter. "Another kid, a boy, and some old man. Don't think she particularly cared for either one of them, but it didn't bother them. I even had a man offering good money for that girl too, but the old man wouldn't sell. Don't know why. That one has a wild spirit, I tell you. Been easier to pass her off to some other fool than try and break her. I would have, anyway."
It had taken Giles literally pulling her out of the club to keep Buffy from killing the man for suggesting that her daughter should be sold like a piece of property. Good thing Spike hadn't come with them this day. The old Watcher might be able to handle strong willed people better than most, but two upset parents with super strength would have been more than even he could handle. Now they were on a train back to St. Petersburg, no closer to finding Dylan than they had been when they left that morning.
"We don't need to know where she was, Giles. We need to find out where she is," the blonde slayer pointed out, shifting in her seat to keep from looking at her old friend.
Giles sighed as he looked at the woman beside him. There were times, particularly like these, where he couldn't help but wonder why she continued to let him help her. She blamed him for what happened. Buffy might not know it, but he could see it in her face when she looked at him. He let Dylan out of his sight, and now she was gone. Well, he wasn't going to stop until he found her, even if Buffy didn't want him to be with her in the search. He was going to make this right, no matter what.
"We will," he assured her before letting the silence come over them again.
He stood on the platform, one hand dug deep into his pocket while the other brought the cigarette up to his lips. From the large crowd around him waiting, only a few people gave him a dirty look for lighting up in the middle of them, but at least they weren't like those left over hippies who would scream to high heaven if they caught him. No, these people had bigger things to worry about than second hand smoke that was for sure.
Off in the distance, a train horn blared, announcing that it would be arriving soon. Taking one more sweet drag off the cigarette, he blew out the smoke slowly before dropping it to the ground and stomping it out with his foot. He then popped a peppermint into his mouth, making him almost feel like a teenager trying not to get caught smoking. God, he was whipped.
"Do you really think that will fool her?" his female companion asked, sounding rather amused by his actions.
Spike gave a small smirk to the woman at his side. Catherine always had found his actions either funny or strange, especially for a vampire. It seemed the longer they knew one another, the more amusement she got out of studying him. She was kind of like a Watcher that way. Well, a Watcher with a sense of humor anyway.
"Not really," he confessed, glancing down the track to try and see how close the train really was to arriving. "But it's worth a try anyway."
"Is a cigarette really worth the risk of what she might do to you if she finds out that you are smoking again?" the heiress asked, raising an eyebrow.
"More afraid of what she won't do to me, pigeon," he smiled.
If it had been one of the Scoobies, Spike was sure to get a reaction out of them, whether it was a face or a sucker punch, but Catherine just shook her head. Damn, he missed the Scoobies, especially Harris, sometimes. At least if it had been the whelp, he could almost pretend everything is normal. But this was Catherine, and yet another reminder of why he was here in Russia and not back home in Sunnydale.
They had picked up the heiress a couple of months ago, when the lead they had been following led them straight back to Madrid. Catherine had already heard about what had happened and had her own people working on it. Of course, they hadn't come up with anything more than what the Scoobies and the Fang Gang already knew. She had been with him, Buffy, and the Watcher ever since, using her social status and name to their advantage when she could. It was good to have friends in high places sometimes.
She didn't ask if Buffy and Giles had found anything out in Moscow. She knew as well as he did that if they had, Buffy would have called them immediately with the news. No call and both of them returning as scheduled on the five o'clock train meant that they hadn't even found anything worth investigating further. Another dead end, another step back. They weren't any closer to finding Dylan than they were yesterday, or the day before…and if that bloody train didn't show up soon he would need another cigarette.
"Maybe tonight will prove more fruitful," Catherine offered hopefully, seeing the look on the vampire's face. "Surely someone will recognize her soon."
Spike sighed at the thought. There were quite a few 'someones' out there that he didn't want to recognize his daughter. It was dangerous that they knew what she looked like, even more that they knew she was away from her parents. Dylan might be pretty well trained for a girl her age, but they had no where near started training her for the dangers that lurked out in the real world. He couldn't shake the feeling that if something bad did find her before they did; he might not ever see her again. Not that that wasn't looking like a real possibility now anyway.
Lost in his own thoughts, Spike hadn't really paid attention to the old style train that pulled into the station and was now stopped before them. A few people around them began to shove as the conductor got off first and then began to help the passengers down. Spike heard as family members greeted one another warmly, and even witnessed a young couple's more passionate reunion. Part of him wanted to greet Buffy like that, but he knew that she would not be to willing after the surely trying day that she and the Watcher had had.
"Buffy!" Catherine called from beside him, having spotted the slayer somewhere down the platform.
Spike glanced down in the direction that the heiress was facing and saw the blonde looking for the young woman who had called her name. Beside her, Giles was also looking, and was actually the one to spot them. Catherine raised her arm to confirm that it was them, and the two soon joined them at the end of the platform.
The slayer gave Catherine a tired smile as she walked by her to Spike who she kissed gently before wrapping her arm around his waist and laying her head on his shoulder. Giles chose to stand closer to Catherine, obviously still not quite use to this public show of affection that his slayer had taken up showing the vampire. After seeing the weary look on Buffy's face, Catherine turned to Giles.
"No luck, then?"
"Um, no," the Watcher answered, shifting rather uncomfortably to avoid Spike's eyes as they looked at him. "Nothing of use, anyway."
"Looks like we're going to have to go beat up that informant tonight," Buffy said off-handedly, her head still resting on Spike's shoulder. "Then maybe he'll give us something useful."
"That is if he is still in St. Petersburg," Catherine pointed out. "From what I remember, Spike gave the demon quite a scare the last time."
The vampire looked up at the heiress across from him. She was right, of course, he had done a number on that little Ste'le demon, but it was only a scratch compared to what he'd do to him tonight if he found him. Or if Buffy found him.
"Might I suggest that we continue this conversation back at the house," Giles said, looking around the still overcrowded train station. "Not all people enjoy the blissful denial of Sunnydale, after all."
"Plus that's where the bed is," Buffy added, looking almost like she would fall asleep right there. "Kind of want to catch forty before we go out tonight."
"Excellent idea," Giles said, looking worse for wear himself.
"Starting to feel your age, Rupes?" Spike smirked, not being able to resist. "Cause I'm sure we can find you a wheelchair if you need one."
Giles glared at the younger looking man, as Catherine covered a smile and Buffy rolled her eyes. "You're older than him," the slayer pointed out when the group turned to leave. "By, like, a hundred years."
"True, but I look good for my age."
"That's because you're dead," she said, thinking about how they suddenly sounded like they used to before all this happened. Leave it to Spike to try to get her to fight for a sense of normalcy. "God, how can someone who's a hundred and twenty something act like he's twelve?"
"Practice, love. Years and years of practice."
Dylan sat in front of the chessboard, staring at the slightly older boy across from her. He wasn't paying her much mind, instead choosing to concentrate on their game, but Dylan wanted to make it as clear as possible that she did not like him. A glare might be a childish thing, but, hey, she was kid. Plus it was the only thing she had in terms of control in her life now. These people, that guy, Grandfather, who insisted she call him that, had control over her life and this boy, Sebastian, seemed to be his second-in-command, even if he was only a kid.
The boy surveyed the board one last time, then moved his Rook to counter her Knight. He then glanced up into her glare, but ignored it to say, "Your move."
Dylan took one look down onto the board before moving her Bishop. "Check," she said annoyed with an angry frown.
He lifted his eyes to her once more, his face still even and unreadable, before moving his King.
Instead of moving her piece, Dylan announced, "They'll come for me, and when my dad gets here he's going to kick your butt."
Sebastian sat there for a moment, not answering or showing the least bit of fear. It was like he had been waiting for her to say it…again. She had told him that every night since she had been with them, and every night Sebastian had remained quiet, hoping that perhaps she'd be right and the slayer and vampire would break down that door and save her, and maybe him. But every night, no one came.
He knew they must have gotten close a couple of times, that's why they had to keep moving like they did. Grandfather had said it was because he wanted Dylan to get used to always traveling, to always being on the move and learn not to bother getting attached to things, but Sebastian knew the truth. It would only be a matter of time. Still, he knew what was coming.
"I know they'll come," he told her, looking back down at the board, contemplating her possible next move and how he could counter it. "But it won't matter."
Dylan studied him for a moment, a bit put off by what he had just said. "Why? Why won't it matter?"
"It just won't," he said flatly. Nudging his head towards the board, he told her again, "It's your move."
Narrowing her eyes on the boy, she pushed her Knight into a counter move. Satisfied that this would keep him busy for a moment at least, she demanded, "Why won't it matter?"
He looked at the board with a certain amount of curiosity before asking, "Why do you always play better when you're angry?"
"Now, now, Dylan," a new, older voice said, tearing the young girl's attention away from the boy across from her. "It's not polite for young ladies to scream like that."
She turned her icy stare over to the man who was keeping her away from her family and friends, as he walked across the room towards the children with the aid of his cane. Her 'death stare,' as Jessie called it, was focused directly in on him, but the older man didn't pay it any mind, instead looking down at the board they were playing on. Sebastian kept his head lowered, daring not to look at the man who towered over them. Dylan couldn't help but wonder why he was so afraid of the old man. What on earth could he have done to the boy to make him like that?
"Finish up your game, children," he ordered, smiling sweetly down on them like he was their grandfather. "We have training to do."