DISCLAIMER: I own Hopie, Anni, Leo Bunny, Maddy, Colette, Nic, Clay, Chance, Joss, Kendall, Caleb, Dakota, and a few others we'll meet later. Joss owns all BtVS and AtS related characters and the show mythos.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm writing this a bit early, but we'll see if ff.net lets me post it. Please Review, b/c I've got so much work to do that the only way I'll find time for this fic is to stay up late, and if it comes down to sleep or writing, the reviews tip the scales.
If you haven't read any of the previous fics, I recommend doing so, but here's a quick introduction of the OC's and an update on the other characters.
Hopie Chase Angel is Angel and Cordy's adopted daughter and the possessor of the world's most ancient magic, which serves as an inter-dimensional essence copy-machine. Through this magic, she has acquired the powers of Buffy, Angel, Cordelia, and Connor, as well as the powers of the ancient magic she can sometimes harness.
Anni (Annabella Suzette) Wyndham-Price is Wes's little sister and a 'non-slayer,' an almost thirteen year old with slayer strength called by the opposing power, the power of Turot, an ancient slayer turned vampiress.
Leo Bunny A magical healing bunny; Cordy's pet
The Potentials: After Giles replaced Travers as the head of the CoW, the Potentials were split between Sunnydale and LA to train with Faith and Buffy respectively. Individual profiles are as follows.
Maddy Lady Madeline, the youngest Potential at barely twelve and a member of the British nobility, currently living in LA; if you go back and look at Things Unseen, you just might see some very subtle foreshadowing about our Lady Madeline, but I won't say anything else.
Colette Sixteen, the quiet Potential who tends to fade into the wall, also in LA.
Nicolaa Nic, the oldest Potential at Seventeen, and the most serious, she protected the girls from a sadistic Travers; currently in LA.
Kendall Fifteen, currently in Sunnydale.
Joss Fourteen, currently in Sunnydale. She's a weasel.
Chance is more than a Potential, she's a 'demi-slayer,' a virtual genetic copy (by 'chance' as it were) of Buffy upon whom the monks bestowed Buffy's slayer essence when they made Dawn from Buffy's other half.
Clay is Maddy's twenty-year old older brother, currently living in LA and pursuing a reluctant Nicolaa.
Faith and Lindsey are married, and after the honeymoon, they began to look for the demi-Faith.
Angel and Cordy are engaged.
Anni is dating Jordy, Oz's cousin and a teenage werewolf.
Willow is currently pregnant with Wes's baby, a boy who was stolen from Lilah's womb by the Watcher's Council and returned by magic, to Willow's.
Lilah is now single handedly in charge of Wolfram and Hart.
Oh, and in case you get confused Kody is a nickname for Dakota. They are the same person.
AND NOW, THE STORY…
Thine Own Self: Chapter One
Hopie Chase Angel looked longingly out the window of the waiting room. It was sunny outside.
"Hey Momma," she said, tugging on Cordelia's shirt. "It's real sunny outside today."
Cordy nodded absent-mindedly.
Hopie tried to get her attention. "If Daddy went outside he'd fry right up, huh?" she asked, her voice a little louder this time.
Cordy shot Hopie a warning look. "Yes, Hope," she said, letting the little girl know that vamp talk was off limits in public by using her given name, "your daddy is very fair skinned and such bright light would surely burn him right up."
Hopie decided to take a different angle. "Don't you wish you were outside, Momma?" the four year old asked her, batting her eyelashes.
Cordy nodded. Truthfully, she wasn't any bigger a fan of the dentist's office than Hopie was.
"Cause you know, Momma," Hopie said seriously, "you could be outside. We could just go and play and not go to the dentist today."
Cordy tickled her daughter underneath the chin. "Hopie, baby, it will be all right, I promise. I'll go in with you and the dentist won't hurt you."
Hopie crossed her arms over her chest. "Maybe I'll turn him into a frog," she said sullenly. A thoughtful expression crossed her face. "Or a sheep."
Cordy, caught between a laugh and a sigh, addressed Hopie seriously. "Could you do that?" she asked the child in a whisper.
Hopie shrugged. "I dunno," she replied. "I never tried."
"Don't," Cordy said, pulling Hopie into her lap and snuggling with the little girl. Hopie wished briefly that it had been Daddy who had taken her to the dentist. Momma never fell for cute little girl eyes like Daddy did.
The little Shanshu heaved a big sigh and laid her head down on her mother's chest, her bottom lip stuck out in the beginnings of a pout.
Willow stared down at her stomach, amazed at how big she'd gotten in the past months. Finding maternity clothes was beginning to get tricky, though Buffy had found her a few really cute outfits.
Strong arms slipped around the place where Willow's waist had once been, and Wes leaned forward. Willow leaned her head back onto his shoulder, and the two of them stood for a moment in silence, something they had begun to do every morning.
The door to their bedroom in the Summers' house flew open. Buffy stuck her head in. She smiled softly at the sight of the two together and cleared her throat.
"Not to be all interrupt-y," she said, "but have you seen the girls?" It was Saturday, which meant that none of the Potentials were at school, but Buffy had some plans regarding training.
Willow smiled as she gazed out the window to the backyard. "They're out back, Buff," she said, her lips curving into a smile, "catching some rays."
Wes looked out the window as well. "For the love of all things good in this world, what the hell is Anni wearing?" he said, his voice rising a bit.
Willow rolled her eyes, and Buffy joined them, looking out the window. She bit down on a smile. "Wesley," she said seriously, "I believe they call that a bathing suit." It was a stunningly normal sight: Dawn, Anni, and the three Potentials were lying on beach towels, each in the search of the perfect tan. They could have been any teenagers in the world.
"That," Wes sputtered, "is not a bathing suit. For crying out loud, Will, it barely qualifies as a handkerchief. My little sister is out there wearing nothing but some skimpy Travel-Sized-Clue-sized bikini."
"You know, Wes," Buffy said, "there are some phrases that British men just shouldn't say, and 'Travel-Sized-Clue-sized' is one of them."
Willow nuzzled Wes. "Sweetie," she said reasonably, "she's in the backyard, and her suit's a lot more conservative than Dawn's or Kendall's." Buffy looked out the window again.
"Hey!" she squeaked. "That's my bathing suit Dawn's wearing." She squinted again. "For that matter, I think the one Kendall's wearing might be yours, Will."
Wes got an interested look in his eye imagining a non-pregnant Willow wearing that suit, but the he simply rubbed her stomach lovingly. Pregnancy became the Wiccan.
"Buffy, didn't you want to do some training with the girls?" Wes asked, trying to sound casual. "Some fully clothed training? Preferably conservative clothes?" Buffy and Willow both snickered at the plea in Wesley's gruff voice.
Kendall lazily turned over onto her stomach, and the others followed suit.
"I think your bathing suit is cute, Chance," Anni said, trying to placate the other girl.
Chance looked glumly down at the only suit in the entire household that fit her, an old one of Dawn's. "It has ruffles," she said darkly. "Why am I so darned tiny?" she asked, her voice as tiny as her frame.
"You're tiny because Buffy is tiny," Dawn reminded her. "Give it a few years, and you'll have guys all over you. Buff does."
Chance took a minute to sigh privately at the mental image she got of Spike. It must have been something in the genes she shared with Buffy, but she found the vampire intriguing and more than a bit yummy.
Suddenly, Chance grabbed her forehead.
The other girls, with the exception of Joss who had fallen asleep on her towel, gathered round the demi-slayer quickly.
"What's going on?" Kendall asked, taking charge as always. "Is it those damn visions again?"
Chance blinked and the world came back into focus. "They aren't visions," she said, her voice barely more than a whisper. "They're just flashes." Ever since she had been reunited with Buffy and Faith, Chance had been receiving flashes, momentarily seeing things through another person's eyes.
"What was she looking at this time?" Dawn asked calmly. She'd already begun to think of Chance as a little sister. It was nice to have someone to boss around, especially since Anni merely scoffed in her general direction whenever Dawn tried to boss her around.
"One of those ugly statue thingies," Chance replied.
"A gargoyle?" Anni asked. The little blonde nodded.
"Freaky," Dawn said. Chance shook her head slowly.
"I think she was kinda happy to see it," the demi-Buffy replied, and everyone knew that the she Chance was talking about was the other demi-slayer, the demi-Faith that Lindsey and Faith were currently seeking.
Kendall, convinced that Chance was fine, got a wicked expression on her face as she looked at the sleeping Joss. None of the Potentials had quite forgiven Joss her betrayal at Council Headquarters, and Anni held a particular grudge regarding the way Joscelyn looked at Jordy.
"Hey guys," Kendall said, the very picture of innocence, flipping her dark brown hair over her shoulder. "Joss is sleeping."
"Shall we flounce her, then?" Anni asked, using what had become their universal word for describing anything unsavory done to Joss.
"Course," Chance replied smiling.
"Guys, don't you think you should give Joss a break?" Dawn asked, feeling that somebody needed to be the voice of reason. "Ooooh, I think there's whipped cream in the fridge," she added, "but you didn't hear it from me."
The girls trooped into the house after aforementioned whipped cream, Chance walking a step behind the others. Her heart was still pounding in sync with the other demi's. The two of them were connected somehow, and she wondered exactly what her other half was doing.
Dakota Kincaide looked at the gargoyle on the front of her Connecticut mansion, a self-satisfied smile on her face, her dark hair swept into an easy ponytail and her hands hooked loosely in the super low waistband of the designer jeans she had carefully torn across the upper thigh.
"Home sweet home," she said wryly. She turned to her driver. "I'll help you with the bags, Mick," she said.
Mick grinned at the girl. Miss Kody was something else.
Together, the two of them and the hand full of servants who had seen the car pull up carried Dakota's bags to her room. Kody flopped down on her bed, a wicked grin on her face as she carefully tore the lace off the dust ruffle for maybe the seventeenth time in her life.
Hallie, one of the maids, grimaced at the ripping sounds.
"I don't like lace," Kody explained.
"Yes, Miss Dakota," Hallie said.
Kody sighed. "You can call me Kody, you know," she said, more out of habit than anything else. The truth was, she was getting to the point where she rather liked her full first name.
Dakota Grace Kincaide did have a certain ring to it, even if the Grace part made her sound like a bit of a pansy. Of the many things she was, Kody was not a pansy, as the last girl who had made the mistake of challenging the rather petite Dakota had found out the hard way. She looked around the room and ceremoniously rid it of the color pink.
"There," she said, rubbing her hands together.
"Dakota," a voice said from the doorway.
Kody turned. "Why Daddy," she said grinning lazily, "you almost don't sound happy to see me." Dakota's eyes floated toward the window in a quick trellis check. Her old escape route was still in tact. Excellent.
"That's the fifth boarding school in three years, Kody," her father said.
"You can afford it," she told him, her tight black shirt hugging her body more than it should have, her light skin almost glowing in the light of the room.
Trenton Charles Kincaide the Third straightened his already impeccable shirt. "Dakota," he said. "That's not the point. Now, I have a business function to go to, so I will see you tomorrow." As abruptly as always, Kody's father left, leaving her to pick up the small basket of potpourri on her nightstand and launch it out the open window at the blonde bombshell currently swimming in their pool, one of her father's many personal assistants. She heard a splash a moment later as the basket hit its target.
Dakota never missed. She had impeccable aim.
Faith aimed the crossbow and shot it, the arrow embedding itself so deep in the target that Maddy couldn't pull it out.
"Sodding hell," Maddy said cheerfully, "good shot, Faith."
"Language," Clay called to his little sister from the stairwell where he was watching the Potentials train with the Slayer. More accurately, he was watching Nic train under the pretense of watching over Maddy.
"Can't you think up some new curse words?" Faith asked, demonstrating another perfect shot as her second arrow split her first. "Those words are getting old, kiddo."
Maddy grinned wildly as she jogged over to the other Potentials, standing next to Faith. "Methinks that was a challenge," she said, her eyes twinkling. Faith shrugged.
Without a word, Faith handed the crossbow to Nicolaa. The tall brunette took it silently with the grace that marked all of her movements and took aim. She prepared to fire. From behind her, she could feel Clay looking at her, but she ignored him, even as her lips tingled from the spot where he had kissed her several weeks passed.
She pulled the trigger and fired, hitting respectably close to the center of the target, though not nearly as close as Faith or even Hopie could have managed. She turned silently and handed the crossbow to Colette.
The mousiest of the Potentials took aim and fired, hitting the bullseye.
"Nice," Faith muttered, high praise.
Colette shrugged. "Hopie and I have been playing," she explained. Crossbow, Hopie's own favorite weapon, sat safely on her bed next to her stuffed animals. She had tried to take it with her to the dentist's office, but Cordelia had put her foot down, so Crossbow stayed home with Patsy the stuffed dog and Bob the flamethrower.
As she watched Maddy excitedly take the bow, Faith felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise just a bit, and her stomach was filled with pleasant butterflies.
She turned toward the door to smile at her husband. When she saw the look on Lindsey's well-sculpted face, her heart skipped a beat. Wordlessly, something passed between them.
"You found her," Faith said, just as Maddy managed to shoot the edge of the target.
"We're not sure," Lindsey said, repeating the words he'd said each time his sources had identified a young girl they thought might be the recipient of Faith's slayer essence and her more dominant physical genes.
"We'll leave as soon as I finish with the girls," Faith said. She turned back to her Potentials and introduced them to the beauty of the glaive.
Kendall, Anni, and Chance shot very innocent looks at Anya and Spike, who were sitting at the kitchen table, as they made their way toward the refrigerator. Dawn went over to talk Spike out of the prize at the bottom of the Lucky Charms box.
Kendall had just taken the whip cream in her hand when they heard someone clearing her throat behind them. The three of them turned around guiltily.
"Whip cream?" Buffy asked.
The girls looked at each other, the very picture of innocence. Buffy didn't trust that look.
Willow, ever astute, asked the key question. "Where's Joss?" she asked. The pregnant woman knew what it was like to have to fight for forgiveness, and though she hadn't yet been able to talk herself into liking Joss, who was quite often Queen C-esque without the polish, she felt the need to stand up for her.
"Outside," Anni said casually. She sent a smile at her brother, who was still staring at her bathing suit.
"Anni luv," he said, "what were you three planning on doing with the whip cream and what the hell are you wearing?"
Willow elbowed him. "Just answer the first question," she told Anni, "and ignore the second older brotherly one."
The girls were silent for a moment until Kendall was struck with inspiration. "Have you ever seen Varsity Blues?" she asked the adults. Anni and Chance hadn't, so they missed the reference, but Dawn snorted trying to keep her laughter to herself.
"No," Wes said slowly.
"I have," Anya said brightly. "The whip cream bikini idea isn't as much fun as it looks. I much prefer an icing and dollar bill bikini myself. Xander looked quite fetching in it." Spike choked on the blood he was currently drinking.
Wesley's voice turned dangerous and got caught in his throat. "Whip cream bikini?!" he asked.
"What?" Chance squeaked.
Anni burst out laughing at the expression on her brother's face.
Buffy finally broke into a smile. "Go change clothes," she said. "We have some training to do, and for crying out loud, somebody go get Joss. And be nice to her." Kendall sauntered past Buffy, still carrying the whipped cream.
Buffy held her hand out. Kendall shrugged and handed it over. "I had to try," she said.
"I got another flash," Chance said, changing the subject before anyone could say anything to Kendall. The others listened as Chance described the flash again.
As Faith's thoughts drifted to the girl who would be the closest thing to biological family she had, Lindsey walked down the steps toward his wife, his stride long. She turned suddenly and threw a knife at him.
He caught it easily, as Faith had known he would. Lindsey hadn't been in the demon business without picking up a few tricks. Faith beamed at him. She turned to the girls.
"Don't try that at home," she told them. Maddy added it to the long list of things she'd been told not to try at home.
"Where's Hopie?" Lindsey asked. "She'll be pretty miffed when she learns you guys were 'playing weapons' without her."
"She's at the dentist," Colette said, surprising everyone by speaking up.
"Hopie Chase Angel," the assistant said. Cordy got up, carrying Hopie in her arms. The Shanshu child could battle demons with the best of them, but she was scared of the dentist. It was comforting to realize that Hopie, magical warrior though she was, was just a very little girl.
"Well aren't you adorable?" the assistant asked cheerfully.
"No," Hopie said mutinously. "I'm not."
"Hopie," Cordy chided gently, hugging the child a little.
"Fine," Hopie admitted, sighing a very adult sigh. "I am."
Cordy and the nurse both burst into laughter.
"They're so funny at this age," the nurse commented.
The blonde woman raced after her son, surprised at how adept he'd become at running in the past year.
"Cale," she said, laughing. "Caleb, wait for Mommy."
The little blonde boy turned and beamed at her, his little fangs showing in his smile.
His mother sighed. "No grrrr face outside," she reminded him, glad that her son was able to enjoy sunlight despite his condition. Then again, the mystical doctors she had consulted had warned her that as he grew, Caleb might develop more of the normal weaknesses of vampires.
She struggled to push the word out of her head as she looked at the little boy, who again appeared the smiling cherub the outside world knew.
"Mommy," the two-year-old said, "juice?"
She dug into her purse and pulled out a Kool Aide juice box she had added a few drops of her own blood to. Her little boy was special, but she couldn't have loved him any more had he been a fully human child. She couldn't have loved him any more had his father not bolted the moment their child had sprouted fangs.
Finishing his juice, Caleb started running full speed toward the slide.
"He's a demon for energy, isn't he?" another mother asked the blonde woman.
Caleb's mother smiled. "You have no idea," she said. Soon, she would have answers. The mystics had pin-pointed the disturbance in the magical weave of the world that had caused Caleb's condition, and she would know if there was anything she could do to stop it.
Connor Angel looked in the mirror, wondering if he could manage to grow some whiskers. He had no idea that a thousand miles away, a little boy playing in the park owed a lot to his very existence.
Connor rubbed his chin. Nothing yet, but he had a feeling that something was about to happen.
TBC… I know, lots of plots going on at once, but there is convergence, and honestly, the convergence brings out the real plot… if you have questions, ask them, but all will be answered in time. There's a BIG surprise (the first of many) coming next chapter… review and let me know what you think of Kody and Cale, as well as which little scenes you'd like to see. I'll try to update on Sunday if I can.