Title:A house by the Cove
Disclaimer:I do not own any Characters affiliated with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, they are Joss Whedon's property. I do not own any characters affiliated with MASH, they belong to someone richer, smarter, and way more creative than me. The song making and appearance throughout the story is "Magic" By Ben Folds Five, I don't own that either. I am merely borrowing for a short time and will return them once I have finished and promise to receive no money but a lot of joy from them in the meantime.
Summary:Buffy and Dawn decide it's time to settle down and go to the only place left that they think could be a home Crabapple Cove, Maine.
Timing / Spoilers:Set post the end of the series for both shows.
Author's Notes:Just so you guys know this hasn't been betaed, my beta seems to have gone AWOL. Alex if you're out there let me know.
Please don't ask where this came from, it was a random thought that developed into this story. And for anyone, who is following "Enough Rope" I haven't given up on it, I have the outline for the next several chapters written but the chapters themselves are refusing to come together. It will continue I'm just not sure when.
From the back of
You're big brown eyes
I knew you'd be gone
As soon as you could
And I hoped you would
Buffy closed her eyes in relief as she caught the first scent of the Atlantic Ocean; they had spent so much of the last year wandering around, that she had almost forgotten what the scent of un-spoiled land was like. The last few days had been the hardest for herself and Dawn. Just over a week ago they had made the heart-wrenching decision to leave the rest of the Scooby Gang for a while maybe even forever.
Since Sunnydale had sunk into the ground the year before they had been living like nomads, town after town, city after city and country after country in an attempt to find all the newly activated Slayers and put the Watchers Council back together. It had been exhausting, and after one particularly harrowing night in Rome where both Buffy and Dawn had been injured the two of them once again spoke of returning to the States.
Where would they go?
What would they do?
Everyone else was here in Rome, so was there any actual reason for them to go back? Dawn wanted to finish the last two years of high school and Buffy wanted to finish her degree. The more they talked about it the more appealing the idea became. The decision was made, they were going to leave Rome, leave the Watchers Council and leave the friends of whom they had been closer too over the last few years then any of their blood relatives.
Family would any accept them, they knew that their Aunt would be quite happy to have them visit for a week but they needed somewhere to stay a bit longer than that, they needed somewhere to stay long enough to find their feet and go from there.
There was only one place Buffy could think of where they might be immediately accepted, no questions asked and they would be welcome to stay as long as they needed.
So one night, leaving nothing but a note to tell the others not to worry Buffy and Dawn left Rome and made their way to Maine.
It had been nine years since either of the girls had seen their Maternal Grandparents, since Hank and Joyce had committed Buffy at the age of fifteen and she had been kicked out of Hemery High. Joyce's parents had disagreed with the way the Summer's handled the whole situation and even went as far to offer to let Buffy live with them for a while, not that Buffy ever knew this.
All the girls knew was that their parents and Grandparents had had a fight and they didn't see them any more.
Buffy and Dawn could only hope that they would be welcome.
Margaret Houlihan stood at the kitchen sink and looked out the window over the Ocean as she did the washing up. Despite over 40 years passing since they had first moved into the house it seemed that nothing had changed. However today felt different, as usual her thoughts were on her missing Granddaughters, the last year since the collapse of Sunnydale had been a hard one and not one of the family members or friends who knew the girls had heard from them. Not even their father.
The noise of a strange car coming up the drive startled her out of her thoughts, as it came into view the tinted windows didn't give her any clue as to who the occupants were. The car came to a none to gentle stop in front of the house and just stood there for a few minutes. Margaret waited to see who it was before making a move to the front door.
Inside the Car
Dawn turned to face her sister.
"I know" was the quiet reply she received as Buffy continued to stare out the front of the car at the large whitewash house that hadn't changed at all since the last time she had been here.
"Are we going to go inside, or just sit here and stare all day?"
"They might not be home"
"Then we wait"
Buffy finally tore her gaze away from the house and looked at her sister giving her a watery grin.
Both the girls opened their doors at the same time and slid out into the cool summer evening.
Inside the house
"Hawkeye!" Margaret hollered as she recovered from the sight of seeing two girls that she had feared dead for many months now.
She dropped the dishcloth onto the floor without a second thought and moved as fast as she could through to the hall.
"Hawkeye Pierce get you behind down here this instant"
She got to the front door and pulled it open just as the two girls were coming up the front steps. The three of them froze the two girls unsure as to the reception they were in for and Margaret just drinking in the sight of them.
Dawn wasn't sure if it was the cool breeze or the look of pure joy on her Grandmothers face that cause the involuntary shiver to run down her spine, but in that moment she knew that they would be welcome here.
Here in Crabapple Cove they would never be turned away.
European Headquarters of the International Slayers Council
Three people sat in silence in a small Study that few people knew about and even fewer people had ever been in to.
"Anything?" Rupert Giles looked over at Willow and Xander who both shook their heads sadly.
The Summers sisters were no where to be found. The three of them had spent the last week searching for the two girls but there had been no luck so far. Deep down they all knew that if they wanted to then Buffy and Dawn could disappear forever, they had the contacts and the resources to do so.
Giles picked up the note that they had already had authenticated, it was definitely Dawn's handwriting and Buffy's signature down the bottom.
Giles, Willow and Xander,
We didn't want to do it this way, but we knew that if we tried to explain it face to face you wouldn't understand. You probably don't understand anyway, we don't either, not really. We love you guys, never doubt that but this is something we have to do. We want to finish high school and college maybe even try that normal thing for awhile, don't really think it'll take, but we have to try. Besides the Council doesn't need us anymore, you have Slayers coming out of your butts and more than enough people to support them, you guys, family and friends.
That's what this is about really, we still have family out there and want to go back before it's too late.
Take care of yourselves and don't worry we'll be fine, surviving is what we're best at after all.
Dawn and Buffy
Giles sighed and put down the note. He could see it in Willow and Xander's eyes. They wouldn't find Buffy and Dawn until they wanted to be found.
By the time Hawkeye got down the stairs and to the front door all he could see was Margaret standing there hugging two girls, at first he didn't recognise either of them. It wasn't until the shorter one pulled back and looked over Margaret's shoulder that recognition finally came to him, by that time Buffy had already moved around her Grandmother and was in his arms. He felt her shoulders begin to shake as she burst into tears. He held her as tightly as he could and just let her cry.
His eyes met Margaret's as she continued to hold Dawn; Hawkeye could see tears starting to make their way down her cheeks. It wasn't just the fact that Joyce's girls were alive he could tell. The two haunted and frail young women in front of them were mere shadows of those they had known nearly ten years ago.
What had happened to them?
It wasn't until Dawn lifted her face from Margaret's shoulder that he saw the faded bruise lining her cheek, and the scars, both faded and new, physical and emotional.
Then Hawkeye remembered where he had seen kids like this.
He had seen kids like this constantly come through the OR of the 4077th, scarred and shell-shocked. It was wrong that these two girls should remind him of Korea.
When Buffy's sobs finally started to subside Margaret took a deep breath and said the only thing she could think of.
"Have you two had dinner?"
If in doubt, offer food.
Faith watched as the smoke that was expelled from her lungs hung in the air for mere moments before being whisked away by the night breeze. Lifting her hand up so the tip of her cigarette wavered in front of her eyes. Fire had always fascinated her the way it spat and burned but eventually fizzled out.
She would never tell them what she knew, what Buffy had told her while on patrol not long after the collapse of the Hellmouth in Sunnydale.
Faith knew where they were; well at least she thought she did. Maybe one day she'd check it out. See what they were up to, if they ever made it to what seemed to be the un-achievable dream.
Faith didn't hope for much, but that was one thing she did hope for. That one-day the monsters would be gone from all of their dreams.
We could see that
You weren't yourself
And the lines on your face did tell
It's just as well
You'd never be yourself again
The evening had been fairly quiet and subdued, both Hawkeye and Margaret had seen that the girls were exhausted and needed a good nights sleep more than nosy Grandparents pushing them to talk about things they obviously weren't ready to speak of. They both knew what it was like to see things that haunted your days and nights. It had taken Hawkeye years before he could talk about the war with someone who wasn't there. Margaret had found it a bit easier but would only speak of the more lighthearted moments unless she was alone with Hawkeye.
When they were assured that both the girls were settled in for the night Hawkeye and Margaret retired to their own room. At first they didn't say anything as they went through the nightly routine of getting ready for bed, taking comfort in being able to go into autopilot. When they were finally settled into bed and the moon offered the only illumination did they finally speak.
"Do you remember that night in the cave. You didn't want to be inside because it was so small and I didn't want to be outside because of the noise but wouldn't leave you alone?"
Hawkeye remained silent as the memory washed over him, but he knew that he didn't have to answer and that Margaret knew he remembered it anyway.
"That's kind of how I feel right now. Knowing I have to do something but knowing there's nothing I can do for them until they let us, and I don't just mean letting them stay as long as they want or need to. The girls don't even have to ask for that. They're broken Hawk, and I don't think we can fix it."
Still Hawkeye didn't say a word, because for one of the few times in his life Benjamin Franklin Pierce didn't have anything to say.
Los Angeles, California
Two Vampires stood facing each other both bloodied and bruised in the upper levels of Wolfram and Hart. They had been fighting for most of the last week, thinking that the other knew where Buffy and Dawn might have gone, neither believing that the other knew nothing and quite willing to beat the other into submission.
The house was silent in the pre-dawn silence when a scream ripped through the air waking everyone in the house
By the time Margaret and Hawkeye got to the room Dawn was staying in, Buffy was already there on the bed cradling her younger sister in her arms. From their place by the door they could hear Buffy talking to her trying to calm Dawn down.
"We don't have to run, not anymore. We're safe here, no one knows who we are, there's nothing out there to run from tonight"
Hawkeye and Margaret could only stand and watch as Buffy gently shuffled them around so that she was leaning against the backboard and Dawn's head was resting in her lap. Looking over towards the door she caught her Grandparents gazes with a blank expression before closing her eyes and letting her head drop back. To the naked eye it looked as though Buffy had just fallen straight back to sleep. They watched for a few more minutes before going back to their own bedroom.
Just after six that morning Hawkeye and Margaret woke as usual and started to go about their usual morning routine, in spite of their disturbed nights sleep. They took turns in the shower and then headed down for breakfast, on her way down Margaret quietly cracked open the door to Dawn's room. Seeing the 17 year old sleeping peacefully Margaret smiled to herself and closed the door again assuming Buffy had gone back to her own room sometime in the last few hours.
Crossing the hall Margaret slowly opened the door to the room that Buffy had been sleeping in the night before. Furrowing her brow in confusion she checked the bathroom, and all the rest of the upstairs, but there was no sign of the blond.
Joining Hawkeye in the kitchen she started to ask if he had seen Buffy anywhere in the house but before she could get more than a syllable out he held out a hand to silence her and beckoned her over to where he was standing by the kitchen window.
Her eyes full of curiosity Margaret joined him and peered outside to see Buffy standing there going through a complicated Tai Chi routine. They watched silently, taken in by the control and beauty of what their Granddaughter was doing
It was another 10 minutes before she finished that particular kata. Sitting down on the grass legs stretched out in front of her. Leaning forward Buffy grabbed her ankles before spreading her legs in opposite directions laying her chest flat on the ground and legs in perfect split position pointing outwards. Bracing her hands the blond tensed her body and used the strength in her upper body to push her self upwards so her head was pointing downwards just above the ground, legs still stretched out sideways toes only just touching the ground. Then with a phenomenal show of strength and control Buffy started to move her legs slowly towards each other until they came together putting her in the perfect handstand position.
She remained in that position for several minutes, as her Grandparent's continued to watch dumbfounded, positive that she should have passed out from all the blood rushing into her head by now, but she hadn't. Lowering her legs back to the ground the blond stood upright again before going through a few more stretches and turning towards the driveway and breaking into a light jog.
"She's bendier than you were Margaret"
Hawkeye threw her a lecherous grin and walked over to the pantry and pulled out a loaf of bread, barely dodging the hand that was aimed at his chest.
Outside the house
This was different for Buffy; she had never had a training session quite like this. Previously there had always been voices in the background, Giles, Willow, Xander, and Dawn. There had never been simple silence before with only the peripheral sounds of nature and the occasional car to keep her company.
She liked it.
Veering left into some light brush land Buffy headed off the beaten track and picked up the pace instinctively avoiding the natural obstacles presented to her Buffy kept running.
Two hours later she returned to the house.
The entire time she hadn't come across a single Vampire, demon or anything else that went bump in the day or night.
She liked it.
Hawkeye had barely moved from the kitchen since Buffy had jogged off he had been waiting for her to return. He was bothered by both of the girl's behaviour and after the display they had seen earlier in the morning he knew that the girls were hiding something big.
Movement from the drive caught his eye, Hawkeye watched intently as Buffy sprinted towards the house. The sweatshirt that the 23 year old had been wearing earlier was now wrapped around her waist, she was now only in and pair of black yoga pants and matching crop top.
When Buffy finally reached the front lawn she slowed to a jog on the spot. The next five minutes she gradually got slower until she was just standing there in the sun. By that time Hawkeye had made his way out of the kitchen and was standing on the front porch watching her. It was then that he caught sight of the scars lining her stomach, back and torso.
To his surgeons eye it looked as though they ranged anywhere from 6 months to 6 years old maybe even longer, and most of them looked like stab wounds. There were even a few that matched front and back, without having to look further Hawkeye knew that Buffy had been run through with some kind of blade in the past.
He sat down on the swinging seat watched as she slowly went through a few warm down exercises and stretched out her muscles once again. Without verbally acknowledging Buffy made her way up the front steps and sat down next to him.
"Why didn't you come to the funeral?"
Hawkeye had been waiting for this question and even though he was expecting it, it wasn't any easier to answer.
"We didn't find out until the week after, your Aunt called the house looking for Joyce and was told by whoever answered the phone what had happened. We didn't even know you're Mom'd been sick. Imagine our surprise when we called Sunnydale ourselves and got a thorough tongue lashing from whoever answered the phone on our insensitivity for not bothering to call before hand. How if we'd really cared about the two of you we would've been there in the weeks and months before when we were really needed. Then the guy said not to inconvenience ourselves by pretending to care out of familial obligation. Forget that we had heard anything in the first place and go back to living as we had previously under the pretence that you didn't exist' after that he hung up." Hawkeye sighed and lifted his arm over the back of Buffy's shoulders and drew the blond to his side.
"Let me guess" Buffy murmured "Older guy, British accent?"
"Yeah, that's him"
"Giles was the Librarian at Sunnydale high school, kept an eye on me and my friends, tried to keep us out of trouble and in passing grades." For some reason the lie came easily for Buffy, after so many years of trying to explain their acquaintance of a middle aged Englishman. "After we started College for some reason if felt kinda strange to not see him constantly so we started going over to his place to study, he was a godsend when Mom got sick. For a long time Giles and Mom were the closest thing to parental figures that any of us had. After Mom died he was all any of us had."
Hawkeye sat there and stared out at the surrounding land, grateful for more than the first time that urban sprawl hadn't reached them yet. He knew that the question he was about to ask Buffy would lead the rest of this conversation one of two ways. Either she would open up to him even more or shut both him and Margaret out completely.
"You keep talking about him in the past tense what happened?"
Buffy sat there silently for a few moments, contemplating the way she was going to answer the question. The silence remained; Hawkeye was beginning to worry that she wasn't going to answer at all.
"The November after Mom died, Giles decided that we were relying on him to much. He decided that it was time we did it on our own. So he went back to England. Dawn was still grieving Mom, so was I, as well as working a minimum wage job and deciding then was the time to embrace my self-destructive side. I ended up in an abusive relationship. One of our friends ended up battling addiction, while another got engaged and left his fiance at the altar, that alone was a lesson in badness."
Buffy paused and took a deep breath in an attempt to stamp the emotions that were threatening to spill out down.
"I guess you could say that we lost both our Mom and Dad in the same year. We couldn't and didn't cope with it. I don't think I've ever quite forgiven him for leaving us the way he did."
"Why didn't you call?' Margaret's soft voice broke through the screen as she pushed it open and joined the two of them on the swing seat. "You know we would've been there as soon as we could"
"Everyone left in one way or another, even me. What if you'd said no, or even ignored us. What if"
"You can't play the what if game Buffy." Hawkeye interrupted her "You're never going to win"
"And for future reference, should the occasion ever arise, you can always call us and you can always come here. No matter what happens" Margaret leaned over and planted a light kiss on the young woman's temple "You always could" she whispered in Buffy's ear.
2 years later
Faith glanced over her shoulder nervously making sure that no one was following her. None of the others had had any luck locating the Summers sisters since their disappearance over two years ago and most assumed that they were dead. The only thing that stopped Faith from believing that was the fact that there were no demons wandering round claiming to have killed Buffy.
However something had changed, Faith had never tried to find them before. Happy to leave them be, live the life that they wanted to. She had a reason to find them, knew that they would want to know.
That was why in the early pre-dawn morning she was sneaking out and heading for Maine.
Saw you last night
Dance by the light
Of the moon
Stars in your eyes
Free from the life
That you knew
"G'night Bonnie, don't stay to late"
Buffy Summers glanced up at her colleague as they walked out of the Crabapple Cove Elementary school staffroom and smiled.
"Night Carley. See you tomorrow"
Had she been anywhere else Buffy would have been on guard from the moment the sun set but she had learned over the last two years that there was no demon activity what so ever in Crabapple Cove. Some days Buffy suspected that it was like that on purpose but quickly dismissed the thought. After graduating college early in the summer she finally made a decision as to what she wanted to for a career.
If she really thought about it she'd know it was what she wanted to do for a while now. After spending that first summer in Crabapple Cove, wandering through the town just watching the people, especially the children, Buffy knew she wanted to work with kids.
So she decided to teach.
Although she had only been teaching for a month and was constantly told by the other more experienced teachers that the veneer would soon wear off Buffy, or Bonnie Houlihan as she was known to most of the town, loved it.
Dawn had just been accepted to Harvard pre-med so had moved south to study and while Buffy missed her sister she could not and would not begrudge her anything. Besides they saw each other every fortnight, either Buffy would go South for the weekend or Dawn would come up north.
Heaving a sigh Buffy looked at her watch and saw it was nearly six. If she wanted dinner tonight she would need to be home by half past because although her Grandmother had left the army in some respects the army had never left Margaret Houlihan. Every nigh dinner was at 6:30 sharp and if you weren't there you didn't get fed.
Shutting down her computer and putting her books in the briefcase that had been a gag gift from her Grandfather when she had graduated. Buffy went through the routine of closing the staffroom, making sure all of the computers were off, all the windows closed and locked and the lights off. Heaving as sigh she keyed in the alarm and closed the door behind her.
Wandering slowly through the moonlit car park Buffy didn't pay much attention to her surroundings. She didn't have to. There had never been any reason for her to be on guard. However tonight something made her stop. A niggling feeling at the back of her mind, something familiar. In some ways something she had missed.
"How did you find me Faith?"
She turned slightly to her left just as the brunette pulled herself out of the shadow's about a hundred yards away.
"I've always known where you were B. You told me remember, I just didn't think anyone else needed to know"
Buffy's face broke into a grin and reached into her pocket to pull out her cell phone, flipping it open she hit 3 on the speed dial and held it up to her ear.
After a few rings it was picked up on the other end.
"Hey Grandpa, I'll be home in about 15 minutes. Is it ok if I bring a friend for tea?"
Faith stood there and watched with a raised eyebrow. An invite to dinner wasn't what she expecting. Punches thrown, yes. Being yelled at and possibly sworn at yes, but food no.
"Ok, see you in soon Bye"
Buffy put her phone away and grinned again "My car's over this way and Grandma's making roast chicken."
She turned away and started walking towards her jeep before Faith had a chance to say anything else.
"B wait I didn't come here for a free feed, although if your Grandma cook's anything like your Mom I'm not gonna say no, but there's something you gotta know first"
Buffy paused and looked over her shoulder "There's always something I haveta know Faith, but for once I want to hear bad news on a full stomach. " Buffy turned and continued walking
"Are you coming or not?"
Faith was feeling slightly overwhelmed, it was just like the first time she had ever been to dinner at the Summers home. The gentle warmth and acceptance, the lightly veiled questions that were politely inquisitive but not too prying. As for the food, the last time she had a meal this good for free was the last time she ate a Joyce Summers' table.
Now the meal had been finished, the leftovers put away and the dishes done. Hawkeye and Margaret were in the den watching television and Buffy and Faith were sitting on the porch in silence. Both of them were unwilling to start up what would be an uncomfortable and possibly even painful conversation. Buffy finally got sick of the silence and asked the question that had been weighing on her mind since first sensing Faith in the parking lot hours before.
Faith cocked her head to the side and took in Buffy's profile; the last two years had been good to the blond Slayer. She no longer carried the gauntness, her shoulders no longer stooped as though the world was on her shoulders and her head was held high.
The Buffy Faith had met in high school had returned with a vengeance, but also with a wisdom and maturity that had been absent previously. Taking in a deep breath Faith closed her eyes; she didn't want to see the look on Buffy's face when she said what she drove to Maine to say.
"Giles. I guess he took one to many blows to the head, about three days ago he was out with a Slayer in London, took a two by four to the back of the head, went down, but didn't get back up"
Buffy blinked back the tears. She had know that this day would come, that one day she would loose one of them. In some ways she was glad that she left first, it made the news somewhat easier to cope with. It still hurt, the reminder that they were all mere mortals, but she knew that he would be waiting for those of them that he had left behind and there would be others to keep him company. Her Mom, Jenny, Tara, Jesse, Anya.
No he wouldn't be lonely; he was with them now. They would be waiting for Willow and Xander and Dawn and Faith and even herself to join them. She couldn't wait for that day. The day she would get to go back there, but first she had a life to live.
You're the magic that holds
The sky up from the ground
You're the breath that blows
These cool winds 'round
Trading places with
An angel now
60 years on, in a small white washed house, beloved Crabapple Cove Kindergarten teacher Bonnie Houlihan died in her sleep. She left a legacy of quiet gentleness and enduring affection for the thousands of children that passed through her classroom throughout her teaching career.
However there was another legacy, one that none remembered and none knew for they had all passed on before her. The books would say she was one of the greatest fighters the supernatural world had ever seen; however none would say how she died. They didn't know. The books would say that she disappeared in the middle of 2004 and was never seen again. No one would know that she had done what no other Slayer had done.
Buffy Summers had succeeded where every other Slayer had failed. She had chased the demons away, She had seen Heaven and Hell and everything in between but she had still managed to live...