Author's Note: This is the sequel, mainly from Dawn's POV, of No Rest for the Weary. If you haven't read that one first, I strongly suggest you hit the "back" button and go read that because this one will make NO SENSE WHATSOEVER if you don't know the basics.
Please keep in mind that Dawn is scarcely 20 years old during this story, and consequently will be acting less than perfectly mature at times.
Many warm thanks to the members of my Yahoo group for their marvelous support and enthusiasm. This story is dedicated to all 650 of you.
Dawn was surprised they'd waited so long to get married, to be honest.
Buffy had returned from her holiday with a man in tow. Captain James Norrington was a tall, lean, severe man with a thin clamped lips and eyes that could skewer you at thirty paces. An officer in the British Royal Navy, everything about him from his clipped speech to his erect posture spoke of a man in utter control of himself, his surroundings, and quite possibly a few of the laws of physics as well. He was pretty much the polar opposite of everyone Buffy had ever expressed any romantic interest in, ever.
And thus it was with immense surprise that Giles, Dawn, Xander and Willow had arrived at Cleveland's international airport to find him wrapped around Buffy in a liplock so passionate even the experienced Watcher had blushed.
It would appear that some sort of time anomaly had picked Buffy, sending her into the past where she met (rescued, actually) a previous incarnation of James. Stranded in the 17th century for three days, Buffy had fallen hard for him, and had been devastated when she'd been returned to her own time, alone.
But fate had provided for its primary Chosen One; not long after Buffy had come back to 2005, she had met her love's most recent incarnation. James the Second had been a little confused over his instantaneous feelings for Buffy—as well as the enthusiastic way she'd latched onto him—but rallied with what the Scoobies would soon learn was customary aplomb and resilience.
Now that he had something in his life besides duty and work, James decided to rethink how he pursued his career. And rethink it he had: within three months of returning to his post, Buffy at his side to head up the Council's newly-hatched training academy for fledgling Slayers, James had requested and received a transfer to a London-bound position that would not require extravagant amounts of time spent away from his lovely new fiancée.
Yes, fiancée. They would never be quite sure, though many spirited "discussions" had been had on the issue, of what came first: their engagement or the conception of their first child. James, ever the practical one, was sure that they had made Joyce sometime in the week prior to his proposal, but sentimental Buffy was convinced that their daughter was the direct result of the strenuous appreciation she showed him after allowing the ring to be placed on her finger.
Whenever the process was begun, it concluded almost a year to the day that Buffy had plopped herself in James' lap on the verandah of The Port Royal Inn and sobbed all over him in delight that he'd come back for her. "And only three hundred years late," she liked to say whilst beaming a smile in his direction.
Their wedding had been delayed for a variety of reasons. Buffy hadn't wanted to get married whilst pregnant, claiming that she had no desire to resemble the Michelin tire man in her wedding photos. Then, after Joyce was born, she hadn't wanted to get married until she'd worked off the "baby blubber" as she called it and could fit into that slinky little strapless Vera Wang she'd had her eye on since the day after James had proposed. Then it was summer, and since they'd decided to have the ceremony in Jamaica, it was too hot during the summer and so it was finally decided that October was the perfect time.
Thus it was a sizeable group that arrived in the Kingston airport on the idyllic Caribbean isle, piled into taxis, and were brought to the resort that had once upon a time been not only the Governor's mansion but also the ramshackle location of where Buffy and James the First had met and fallen in love.
The wedding went off without a hitch, unless you were inclined to count Joyce's enthusiastic, at-the-top-of-her-lungs request for lunch as a hitch. No one seemed to mind too much, however. Giles gave Buffy away; Dawn, Willow, and James' sister Amelia served as bridesmaids whilst Xander along with James' two brothers were his ushers. The ceremony was performed in the middle of a little stand of palm trees on the beach at the bottom of an embankment on the resort's grounds; then Xander and Dawn took Joyce for the night whilst her parents enjoyed their first evening of married life.
For a few days, everything was mellow. Buffy didn't stop beaming even once, and even James' tiny smile was observed, though he would later deny it vehemently, to widen a full quarter of an inch. Then they decided to visit the old fort in Kingston where James the First had run the military aspects of Jamaica, and all hell broke loose (though not literally. When one is dealing with Slayers, it's prudent to note when one is simply using a turn of phrase, or when hell is in actuality breaking loose. In this case, it is the former).
Dawn, Buffy, and Joyce had continued the tour with the guide whilst James, his brothers, Xander and Giles chose to remain behind in the powder magazine to slobber over the old-fashioned weaponry, man-style.
The barracks was a long, narrow room with two rows of metal cots lining the walls. One cot had been set up as it had been in period; bearing a thin mattress, it was made with coarse linen sheets, a single sad little pillow, and a blanket scratchier and less flexible than Astroturf. There wasn't a lot of room allotted to each man: a battered table between this cot and the next held an artful little vignette of a soldier's private life, and a stout trunk, bound with leather and brass nails, squatted at the foot. A long coat, somewhat flashier than the period gear worn by the tour guides, hung on a peg on the walls along with a triangular hats trimmed with plumy feathery things and a bit of gold trim.
All of a sudden, Joyce began fussing. "Go on without us," Buffy told the tour guide as the normally sunny child's fretting turning into a full-gauge wailing. "We'll catch up in a minute." When the rest of the tour had moved on to the next room, she spread out the diaper pad on the cot and began to check Joyce's diaper. It wasn't easy; the baby was crying so hard her little face was bright red, and her entire body quivered from the force of it.
"What's wrong with her?" Dawn asked, concerned and hovering over them.
"I don't know," Buffy said grimly, "but I don't feel so well myself." Her face was pale beneath its tan, and perspiration dotted her forehead. "I'm nauseous, and my head hurts." Joyce's diaper was fine; she closed it back up and fastened the tiny outfit, frowning.
Dawn became alarmed. Buffy just didn't get sick. Ever. "Give her to me," she urged, "and lay down." It was a mark of how unwell Buffy felt that she actually obeyed, handing Joyce over to Dawn and flopping weakly to the cot.
The sunlight, what there was of it, that managed to struggle through the tiny, dirty windows dimmed, and the air thickened somehow. A sense of deep foreboding filled Dawn, and she unconsciously clutched Joyce tighter. "Buffy, something's happening," she said worriedly, but received no answer.
Transferring all Joyce's weight to one arm, she reached out to jostle Buffy's arm, which hung limply over the edge of the cot. "Buffy!" she exclaimed as a bolt of lightning lit up the room, followed with unnerving closeness by a crash of thunder. "Buffy!" But her sister was out cold, and Joyce was shrieking at the noise and blaring brightness of the almost unceasing lightning.
Then came a bolt that turned the whole world white, and Dawn found her breath, even her heart, had stopped for that moment between light and sound as she waited for the thunder. It seemed to never come, and she was suspended, paralyzed, senseless. Joyce was a leaden weight in her arms, and her legs seemed to melt as equilibrium pitched suddenly to the right and her stomach lurched.
Then the thunder sounded, and Dawn could move again. As she collapsed to her knees, there was just enough time to shift Joyce, screaming once more, to the side before Dawn jackknifed forward and threw up on the floor. Heart pounding, breath heaving, she wanted nothing so much as to lay her hot cheek on the cool flagstones but didn't dare let go of Joyce for fear of the baby crawling away and getting hurt.
Instead, she forced herself to sit back against the next cot, wiping at her mouth with the back of her hand and hoping Buffy had remembered a bottle of water in the diaper bag. Any minute now, she was going to recover and search for it. Any minute now... in spite of Joyce's wails resounding in her ears, Dawn's eyes fluttered closed and she passed out.
Her first thought, upon being jostled awake, was Thank God. She didn't much care who was doing the waking— it meant that there was another person with her, and that meant she had a shot at making it out of Fort Charles alive and only slightly the worse for wear.
"Water," she croaked, not opening her eyes. "Do you have any water?" There was the mutter of several voices as a few people conferred with each other, and a bottle was held to her lips as someone's arm came under her to lift her to a sitting position. Dawn gulped thirstily, not realizing until she'd taken several deep swallows that it wasn't water she was drinking.
Not even close.
"Gah!" she yelled, sputtering on the last mouthful of what seemed like thick beer. "Are you trying to kill me?"
"If we were, miss, we'd not use ale to do the deed," commented a voice. It was a deep, rich, male voice and Dawn's eyes flew open to find quite a few men standing around the cot, staring down at her. It seemed that the entire tour guide staff of the fort-museum had found them. Oddly, every one of them was white, when she distinctly remembered that most of the tour guides were black. Kinda weird, but there was no time to worry about that now.
Most were wearing long, bright red coats over light trousers; one, quite handsome in spite of the wacky George Washington wig he was sporting, was in a long coat of dark blue and held Joyce, gently bouncing her. The baby had recovered her good mood and grinned daftly at him when he tickled her chin. "Is this little poppet yours, or hers?" he asked, revealing he was the owner of the sexy voice, and nodded toward where Buffy was just beginning to stir on the cot.
"Hers," Dawn replied, and tried to struggle to her feet. Her voice was raw-sounding, no doubt the result of chugging a quart of the so-called "ale". Dawn was inclined to name it "lighter fluid", herself. One of the red-coated men, a portly fellow with a round face that was florid under his wig, immediately stepped forward to help her. She was grateful for his strong arm, and clutched it even after she was up because her legs felt about as sturdy as pudding. "Buffy," she said, reaching out to shake her sister's shoulder. "Wake up."
"What's going on?" Buffy mumbled, propped herself on her elbows and staring up at the men surrounding them. "Where's Joyce? Who're these guys?"
"Joyce is fine," Dawn assured her sister. She looked around them, noting how the previously deserted barracks were now looking more lived-in and less preserved than it had at the start of the tour, and a rather scary suspicion crept into her mind. "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."
Buffy flinched at that, her gaze jerking from Dawn to the blue-coated guy holding the now-smiling Joyce. "What year is it?" she demanded. "Is it 1695?"
He frowned. "Certainly not." Buffy sagged back onto the pillow in relief, until he continued. "It's 1697."
Dawn let go of the soldier's arm and let gravity pull her to sit heavily on the edge of the cot Buffy was on, dropping her head into one hand whilst the other reached blindly for her sister's. Their hands connected, and they twined their fingers, gripping tightly. "Crap," Dawn muttered.
Buffy sat up, her eyes fixed on the guy in blue. "James Norrington," she said, arms outstretched to take her daughter. "Is he here? I need to see him, right away."
The man blinked over Joyce's curly head as he handed her over. "Not at the moment," he replied, his face intensely curious. "Lieutenant Gillette and I have been left in command in his absence."
Buffy sighed. "You're Groves, then," she stated, unsurprised when he nodded slowly. "When will he be back?"
"We expect his return within the next day or so," he said. "What is this about?"
"It's personal," Buffy said flatly, her tone brooking no argument. "Dawn—"
Dawn paused in chugging from the water bottle she'd located in the diaper bag. "Mmph?"
"Did you bring anything valuable with you? Jewellery?"
Dawn gaped at her sister. "Why?"
Buffy levered her legs over the side of the cot. "Because I think we're going to be here a few days, and we'll have to pay for somewhere to stay." She smirked a little. "Can't just crash at the governor's mansion like my last visit."
Lieutenant Groves frowned. "I'm afraid, miss, that that will be impossible. We cannot release you until we know how you came to be in a restricted section of the fort." He nodded to a few of the soldiers around them; the one who'd helped Dawn before once more took her arm, this time to restrain rather than assist, and another helped Buffy stand before latching his hand around her upper arm.
Buffy and Dawn exchanged a look; Dawn knew her sister was contemplating beating the shit out of the lot of them, and tensed herself to take Joyce and hide until the carnage was over, but then Buffy's body language loosened.
"Okay," she said at last. "Let's go find Gillette and get some tea and crank up the repression. We'll discuss this like proper English people."
Groves' nicely shaped mouth twitched once, as if he were restraining a smile. "A fine idea," he said. "I think you've lain in Mr. Murtogg's cot quite long enough." He glanced in the direction of one of the men in red surrounding the bed— a skinny fellow who promptly blushed scarlet.
"I don't mind," Mr. Murtogg said, then blushed harder when all eyes swung to him. "That is to say, it's my pleasure for her to be in my bed. I mean— err— "
"Hush, you," said the heavyset holding Dawn upright. "You're just digging yourself in deeper."
"Perhaps it's time for you to find your post, Murtogg," Groves suggested, this time unable to prevent his grin, and Dawn goggled at him for a moment. Though the wig was white, his eyebrows were dark, and his dark eyes sparkled with humour as he returned the hasty, awkward salute of the mortified Murtogg as he fled. "That goes for the rest of you," he directed the others. "Finding a woman in Murtogg's cot, though extraordinary, is no excuse for shirking your duties."
"Now, then," he said to the women, cocking out his elbow for Dawn to take and thus make room for Buffy to move out from the narrow space between the cots. "Mr. Mullroy, if you will be so kind to assist Miss…?"
"Summers," Buffy replied after a moment, taking the arm Mr. Mullroy offered after Dawn transferred herself to Groves. "I'm Buffy Summers, and this is my sister Dawn."
Groves lifted the hand on his arm to his lips, giving a little bow over it. "Delighted," he said, nodding politely at Buffy. Mr. Mullroy bobbed his head at both of them, tugging on the front of his triangle hat. "Shall we?"
Mullroy was dispensed to locate Lieutenant Gillette, and that gentleman soon arrived, with many questions on his lips. "You say they just appeared?" he asked Groves.
"No one actually saw it," Groves replied. "The west barracks was empty, all the men at their posts or otherwise occupied, when suddenly the sound of an infant crying drew attention." He nodded toward where Joyce now peacefully slept in her mother's arms. "Upon investigation, it was found that Miss Summers the elder was unconscious in Mr. Murtogg's cot. Miss Summers the younger was sitting on the floor by the cot, holding the child and though conscious, seemed quite insensible for several minutes."
"I see," Gillette said, though it was clear he didn't. He turned to the women. "And your side of the tale?" he prompted. "I would dearly love to know how you were able to enter Fort Charles in spite of all the sentries and guards. Why did you go to the barracks? Would not the officers' quarters have been more comfortable, were you in the mood for a nap?"
He was mocking them. Dawn wasn't so bothered by it, choosing to roll her eyes at him in obvious disdain—thus earning her an almost-smile from Lieutenant Groves—but Buffy was seriously starting to steam. Dawn didn't know what to say, and so kept silent, looking to her sister for her lead.
"I can't tell anyone but Commodore Norrington," Buffy said flatly. "And don't bother harping at me, because I'm not changing my mind." Gillette turned to Dawn, his mouth opening to speak, and she continued. "And neither is she."
Dawn nodded, crossing her arms over her chest and glaring. "That's right," she confirmed before shooting a glare at Groves. "And you can stop laughing at me any time, now." For some reason, the man had been smiling at her for the past five minutes, as if she were the funniest thing he'd ever seen in his entire life.
"Certainly," he said, "My apologies." But his smile only widened, earning him another eyeroll from her.
"Then it would appear we are at loggerheads, Misses Summers," Gillette said testily. "I cannot release you without knowing your means and purpose in infiltrating an encampment of the Crown. You will not provide me with this information. Customarily, the result to this dilemma would be for me to clap you in irons and toss you into a cell to await the arrival of the Commodore, since it is to him only that you will speak."
He paused, gaze fixed on Joyce as if resenting her for complicating matters. "However, there is the matter of the child to consider. I cannot in good conscience put her in a holding cell with you. Unless," he mused, tapping his chin with his finger. "Yes, that is what I will do."
"I'm not sure I like the look on your face, Trev," Groves said mildly.
"I'm positive I don't," Buffy said, her eyes narrow. "Spit it out."
"I will place the child with one of the townswomen. She will care for her whilst you are incarcerated, and if the Commodore deems you are to be released, then she will be returned to you." He paused and smiled a little, pleased with his ingenious solution. "What say you to that?"
Buffy waited a long moment before replying, a moment during which Dawn began to laugh, a fine edge of hysteria to the sound. "I say," she replied quietly, "that you can try to take my daughter from me, but you'd damn well be prepared to lose every man in this fort trying." In the silence following that extraordinary comment, she added, "and James won't thank you for it, either. He'll probably beat the crap out of you."
Gillette gaped at her. She met his stare steadily. Whilst they were thus engaged, Groves addressed Dawn. "Your sister seems quite familiar with the Commodore, to use his Christian name."
She nodded, apprehension knotting her stomach as she watched Buffy's staring contest with Gillette. "They've known each other for a few years now. Met in Port Royal, at the Governor's mansion." It was all true, after all. Dawn was just omitting a few of the more pertinent details, is all.
Groves nodded. "And your sister's name... it is Miss Summers, is it?" He seemed to be prodding for something, but Dawn couldn't think of what.
"Yes," she replied, mystified.
"Not Mrs., then? In spite of having a child?"
Um. "Buffy?" Dawn said, and Buffy dragged herself away from scaring Lieutenant Gillette to pay attention. "Groves wants to know if you're a Miss or a Mrs."
Buffy blinked. "I'm actually a Mrs.," she told him, extending her hand and displaying her three-day-old wedding ring. "You can call me Mrs. Summers."
"What is your actual married surname?" Gillette asked, a trifle belligerent. He was not used to being stared down by women a foot shorter than he, apart from his own dear mother, and the idea rankled a bit.
"You can call me Mrs. Summers," Buffy repeated calmly, and Dawn had to admire her steely will. "So, what's it going to be, guys? What are you going to do with us?"
Gillette once again opened his mouth to speak, but Groves stood. "A moment outside, if you will, Lieutenant?" he said, and followed the other man out of the room.
Whilst the men were gone, Buffy noticed that Joyce's diaper needed changing, and with a sly grin, laid out the diaper pad in the middle of Gillette's desk. Dawn just began laughing.
"You're really not trying at all to get on his good side, are you?" she asked between giggles. It wasn't that funny, really, but she was nervous. Give her a situation you could fight your way out of, demons to kill, and she was calm as anything but dealing with issues like bureaucratic regulations and stuffy English soldiers who were far more impressed with themselves than they really ought to be, and Dawn felt like a fish out of water.
Buffy was just holding up the dirty diaper when the men returned, and the expression on Gillette's face was priceless.
"With the number of siblings your parents saw fit to give you, Trev, I'm surprised you're so squeamish," Groves commented as he held out his hand to dispose of the tidily-wrapped little bundle.
"It's precisely because of all of them that I'm squeamish," Gillette snapped. "If I ever see another soiled nappy again, it'll be too soon." He took a deep breath, seeming to be trying very hard indeed to control his temper. "We have decided, or rather Lieutenant Groves has decided and managed to talk me into it despite my better judgment, that you shall be given one of the spare officer's quarters. You will not leave it without escort. Meals shall be brought to you, and guards shall be posted outside the door."
"Sounds good," Buffy replied, hoisting Joyce up. Dawn folded up the diaper pad and repacked all the supplies in the bag. "Can we go there now?"
Gillette seemed suspicious that she would agree so readily, but nodded and soon they were being barred into the modestly-sized room. There was an actual bed, however, instead of a cot, and a little table with two straight-backed wooden chairs. The window was a decent size, and the glass was clean—through it, they could see into the courtyard below.
An evening meal was brought to them, but they ate sparingly, finding they didn't have much appetite. Buffy fed Joyce some mushed peas and carrots. Whilst nursing her, Buffy peered up at Dawn, who stood by the window, staring down at a group of soldiers doing drills.
"What's going to happen?" Dawn asked, her voice pitched low so the guards outside couldn't hear.
"I don't know," Buffy replied. Her face seemed so sad at that moment as she rested her cheek against Joyce's curly head. "I don't know how I feel about seeing James again. It's him, the original him, but it's not. Not the one I married, at least. I don't know how to explain Joyce. I don't know how to explain that he's been reborn." She sighed. "I don't know how to explain anything."
Dawn sat beside Buffy and put her arm around her, pulling her in for a quick hug. "Well, we've got time to think about it, at least," she said in what she hoped was a comforting manner. "Right now, I'm pooped. Joyce is sleeping, let's us get some sleep, too."
It took some doing, but eventually they were able to arrange themselves on the narrow bed, Joyce lying comfortably on her mother's chest. They were unconscious almost immediately.
The next morning they were brought breakfast, clean clothes, and water with which to bathe. Dawn was starving, but the lure of hot water was impossible to resist—she washed herself thoroughly, then fed Joyce little bits of bread whilst Buffy washed.
Then they helped each other struggle into the long dresses—they'd contemplated simply wearing their modern clothes, but they were wrinkled and sweaty from their exertions of the previous day and they were loathe to put their nice clean bodies into dirty garments.
Buffy's dress was a little tight in the bosom—her breasts had expanded since having Joyce—but Dawn's dress fit perfectly. "Hm," Buffy said, "wonder where they found someone built like you? There can't be a lot of five-foot-nine flat-chested chicks running around Kingston."
Dawn shot her sister a sour glance. Ever since the boob fairy had visited Buffy, she hadn't stopped teasing Dawn about her own distinct lack of cleavage. "At least I'm not a midget," she retorted, starting on her breakfast, and grinned to see Buffy glower.
"I'm not a midget," she grumbled. "Beanpole."
"Dwarf," countered Dawn around a mouthful of toast.
Buffy gasped in horror. "I am not a Hobbit," she said. "My feet don't have hair on them!" She stuck one leg out to display one of the tiny appendages in contention. "Look! Completely bald!"
"You're short as a Hobbit," Dawn said reasonably, "and you eat enough to feed a family of five."
"Slayer metabolism!" Buffy cried, and threw the diaper bag at her sister's head. "Not my fault!"
Dawn ducked and it sailed harmlessly past her to collide with the figure who had just entered the room. "Oof," said Lieutenant Groves, catching the bag before it fell to the floor. "I hope that wasn't meant for me."
Buffy peered closely at him. "Yeah, it was," she said, surprising Dawn. "As punishment for that nasty eavesdropping habit you've got."
He laughed a little. "You knew I was there? How?"
"I could hear you," Buffy told him. "I can hear everything that's going on in this part of the fort."
"Is that so?" Groves commented, tilting his head to the side.
"Yeah, that's so," she answered. "So, what's on the schedule for today? Tennis, swimming? Four-course gourmet lunch followed by a massage and pedicure?"
"I thought a game of croquet wouldn't be amiss," he replied, earning himself two stares. "I was just getting into the mood of the joke," he explained.
"Well, don't," Dawn grumbled. "It's not funny when you're making fun of someone who starts playing along."
"So sorry to spoil your fun," he replied, and there was that smile again, like he'd never seen something so funny as Dawn before.
"Yeah, I'm sure you're all broken up over it."
"I am!" he insisted. "And to prove the depths of my remorse, I shall take you on a walk round the fort." His eyes were the loveliest amber-brown, Dawn noticed at that point, like whiskey, and he was actually pretty good-looking. His shoulders in that blue uniform were broad, and had she ever seen anything as fine as his long, slender, muscled legs in buff-coloured trousers and tall black boots? No, she didn't think she had.
A discreet cough distracted them from their mutual reverie, and Dawn turned to find Buffy watching them with a rather amused smile on her face.
"Would you care to join us, Mrs. Summers?" Groves asked politely.
"No," she replied, "I feel the urge to stay and see if I can catch a nap. Sleeping with Miss Bony Elbows here isn't the most restful night I've ever had." She plunked Joyce in Dawn's arms, popped the watermelon hat on her daughter's head, and practically pushed them all out the door.
"My elbows aren't all that bony," Dawn felt compelled to say as they stood outside the room. Joyce squirmed and grabbed a handful of her aunt's long hair, stuffing it happily into her mouth and chewing.
"I will take your word for it," he replied gravely, but there was still the hint of mirth around his nicely-shaped mouth. "Shall we?" He held out an elbow of his own, and she slipped her free hand into its crook, allowing him to lead her outside.
Dawn felt unaccountably nervous, and was glad that he carried the bulk of the conversation. In spite of the wig, she was finding him far more attractive than was safe or wise. She was probably going to return to the 21st century within the next few days, and she doubted his latest incarnation would simply appear as James' had to Buffy—Dawn wasn't the Chosen One. Fate didn't give her special gifts. She was just a regular person, or as regular a person as one could be when one was the Key.
Then he turned to her, and pressed her hand on his arm more firmly against him. "I have something to tell you," Lieutenant Groves said, his face and tone very serious, and she felt her heart leap into her throat. Talk about working fast.
"Yes?" Dawn said breathlessly. Would it be a declaration of love? Perhaps, even, a marriage proposal? Not that she could, or even would, accept but wouldn't it be the most romantic thing ever?