Disclaimer: All things Buffy belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and lots of people in expensive suits. I'm not making any money here, just trying to create a happier Buffyverse for my favorite characters.
Spoilers, etc.: "Dopplegangland," "Something Blue" and everything after "The Gift."
A/N: Character thoughts are enclosed by . Flashbacks are enclosed by //. Thanks to Zenithar and Zigpal for the beta and encouragement! I couldn't do it without you.
Archiving: By permission only.
A/N2: There were some inconsistencies in Aeris' original chapter. One of Willow's mothers was alternately called Kirstan and Katrina. I chose the one that was used most often and am sticking with that.
The winter winds whipped around her in a continuous beating of cold. Her coat seemed to offer only a thin protection against the inhuman attack of Jack. It was yet another element out to get her. It, and everyone else. It wouldn't matter in the end though, because when you got down to it, no one really cared. Buffy was caught up in the whole Spike soap opera. Xander was too busy trying to keep his fiancé happy, and Tara... Well, Tara wasn't really in the picture anymore.
"Wouldn't you feel better having Buffy or Tara with you?" Dawn asked quietly.
She shook her head, not wanting to think about the others. Dawn was the only one that had bothered finding out the real reason behind her magic use, and about the incident with the warlock. Then again, Dawn had ended up playing nurse to her, experiencing first hand what the magical growth spurt that the warlock had triggered had done to her.
In a matter of days she'd made a leap in magic that should've taken her the rest of her life to achieve. Now, instead of learning to control it as she went along, she had an enormous amount of magic in her that was on a hair trigger. The slightest loss of control in her emotions or her thoughts, was causing disastrous results.
Buffy and the other's had simply jumped to conclusions about her use of magic, not bothering to ask her about it. Personally, she wasn't about to tell anyone anything when they couldn't simply ask her. Dawn, of course, had actually asked her one night, and in return she'd told the teenager the truth.
Now, a month later, the teen was determined to drag her into the police station to meet Agent Reiner. Something she didn't want to do. In fact, this whole thing had been Dawn sticking her nose where it didn't belong. A characteristic that she was currently grateful for.
If it hadn't been for the teen, she never would've gotten up the nerve to call the hot line about her suspicion. The missing person poster that they'd found after Buffy had died had weighed heavily on her mind as a constant reminder of who she really was. A crisis of emotions that had left her sinking in a dependency of magic because it was the only thing she could depend on at the time, or so she thought.
Dawn was the one that had forced her into calling the investigating Agent. She had also been the one that had made the appointment for the DNA test, to verify her identity. The first time they'd gone to the hospital just her and the nurse that had taken a swabbing.
Now, they were about to meet the agent. Personally, she couldn't see why he couldn't just tell her the results of the DNA test over the phone, or better yet, they could've just mailed her the results.
"Ohmygod, she looks just like you."
Willow came out of her daze to find herself staring at two women seated outside the conference room. The one on the left was about 5'6, with a tautly built muscular body. She had green eyes, and long curly raven hair. She was tanned, and dressed in faded jeans, and work boots. She was clasping the hand of the woman next to her. A 5'4, red head, with the softest curves that she'd ever seen. She had emerald eyes, with pale skin. The thing that caught her attention was the identical wedding rings on their left hands.
The red head looked up, shocking her with how much they looked alike. The black haired woman seemed to be the only thing holding the red head in place. The red head's body was tensed, with tears streaming down her cheeks in answer to whatever the raven haired woman was whispering.
"Miss Rosenberg, if you would come into the conference room then we can get started." Agent Reiner stepped into her view of the two women, herding them in.
She numbly sat in the chair next to Dawn, watching the two women sit across from her. "What's going on?"
Agent Reiner leaned against the table as he opened a file. "Miss. Rosenberg, this is Katrina and Jennifer Hirsch, the parents of the missing girl. When they heard about the test they wanted to be here."
"Oh." She swallowed back the urge to run, grateful once more for Dawn's forcibly presence. "Am I Denise?"
Reiner snapped the file shut, and tossed it in front of her. " There was a 98 percent match to Dr. Hirsch's DNA."
"Oh. O-okay." She tried to smile at the two women. " S-so what happens now? Because I for one am clueless. I mean, up until... well now, I was always plain old dependable Willow Rosenberg. Only now you're telling me I'm Denise Hirsch, although I guess that means I'm still Jewish, which is a good thing. And what about my...what about Ira and Sheila, I mean, what will happen to them? And where am I supposed to live now. They sold the house, I can't live at the dorms cause I gave my room up, and Buffy wants me moved out by Friday..."
"You can stay with us." Jennifer interrupted quietly. "It would give us a chance to get to know each other."
"B-but what about college, I can't miss any of my classes..."
"Our ranch is only an hour outside the city. You'd have to leave earlier but you would still be able to make your classes."
She looked from Jennifer to Katrina nervously. She wanted to know her parents, her sisters. What it would be like to have a real family for once, and it wasn't like the other's would be missing her too much.
"Alright. I'd like that."
The tension drained from her parent's bodies, letting the three women study each other comfortably. Maybe this was going to work alright after all.
"Are you sure about this? I mean, I'm positive that once Buffy knows what's going on she'll let you stay."
Willow put the last box in the back of her old jeep. Dawn had been great about the whole thing up until she found out she'd be moving out of town. The teenager had tried just about everything to keep her from leaving. Hiding her keys, unpacking her stuff, hiding her stuff...
"I need to do this. I need to find out who I really am, to find out if my powers were inherited or not." Willow hugged the girl close, hating to lose the girl, but she had to go. " Besides, it's only for a little while, and you can come visit me."
Dawn nodded, clinging to her. " I don't want to lose anyone else. You're like my really cool older sister, you know."
"And you're like a really adorable but slightly neurotic little sister." She chuckled with the teen, then slowly extracted herself from Dawn's arms. " I'll call you when I get there."
"Promise." She hugged the girl again quickly, then hopped into the black leather drivers seat. She wanted to get to the ranch before night fall.
"Be careful." Dawn sniffed, wrapping her arm's tightly around her body.
She cranked the engine, and released the brakes, trying not to notice the crying girl. If she looked up then she would start crying to, and then she would end up staying there another night. She shifted the jeep into drive, and slowly pulled out. She had a long way to go before the sun set.
"Dawn!! What are you still doing up? And where's Willow? Did she get moved out?"
She ducked her head to hide the tears. It was all Buffy's fault. If she'd bothered asking Willow instead of jumping to assumptions, then the witch would still be there. " Yeah. You won't have to put up with her anymore."
"We've talked about this. She's abusing magic. If it was only me then I'd let her stay, but I have you to worry about. I won't risk you for her sake."
She jerked away as Buffy reached out to her. Anger bubbled up in her chest, anger at her sister's stubbornness, and naiveness. " You don't know anything, because you never bothered to ask. Instead you guys are so busy jumping to conclusions that it's never occurred to you that there might be an explanation."
"Anya and Giles already told us all about how easy it is for innocents to become addicted to magic."
Dawn couldn't help it, she had to laugh. Willow? Innocent? What world were they leaving in? " Willow isn't innocent, she hasn't been since she first found out about vampires, or the first time her parents left her alone, or the first time she realized that she was gay, or even the first time she was forced to kill a demon."
"It doesn't matter, she'd still using too much magic."
"Well considering that she found out that her parents are really escaped felons that kidnapped her when she was a child, I can't really blame her." Dawn stood up angrily, pacing the length of the living room. " Or how that warlock forced her body to over load on magic, and now she can't control it."
"B-but she never said anything."
She glared at her sister coldly, " She was trying to tell you last night, but somebody was to busy kicking her out."
Dawn turned away from her sister, if she stayed there she would try to comfort her, and right now, she didn't deserve any comfort. Not after chasing Willow out of her life.
She stared at the wood door of the large ranch house, searching for the courage to knock. She raised her fist again, and paused, still lacking the nerve to perform something so simple. Jennifer had come off as a mother hen, very affectionate and easily emotional. Kirstan seemed to be a wall of strength, letting out her emotions only in extreme situations. They had both showed how much they wanted her to come home, but that was then. What if they had changed their minds already?
She turned to the quiet voice that jarred her from her thoughts. She gulped in shock at the sight of one of her identical triplets. The twenty one year old was a mirror image of her, down to the hair. But the differences were just as noticeable. Where she was now interested in brighter clothes, this girl was wearing work clothes. Where her body was out of shape, but thin, this girl was well toned.
"A little. Oh, I'm Willow by the way."
"Dorian." The other girl stepped forward, pulling her into a hug. "Mom told us you'd be staying here a while."
"I hope you don't mind."
Dorian grinned at her happily, " We're going to have so much fun. I can teach you how to ride, and we can go swimming in the lake, and we can explore the surrounding forests, and Drew's looking forward to teaching you kick boxing, and Morgan and Elle has always wanted another sister to play pranks on..."
"At least now I know where I get my babbling from."
Dorian laughed, breaking out of her shy smile. The girl's entire attitude put her at ease. There was no expectation's of her, no pressure, or goals that she had to live up to. " Come on, let's go introduce you to the others."
She looked back at her stuff still in her jeep, trying to disengage herself from her sister, " What about all my stuff?"
"James will get it."
She squeaked as her sister pulled her towards her parents where they were instructing a young girl on a pony. She could see the other triplet and another girl sitting on the wood fence, playing pep squad for the girl on the pony. The youngest of the girls had red hair and green eyes, but resembled a cross between her mothers. The other girl, Morgan, looked more like Kirstan then Jennifer. With dark raven-auburn hair, and emerald eyes.
"I-I can't do this."
Dorian glanced over at her shyly, "Is it because our parents are lesbian's?"
Willow blushed under her sister's gaze, "I'm gay, so no. I'm just... I don't know how to act or what to do, I mean what if they hate me? Or I make a fool out of myself? Oh goddess, you don't have a problem with witches do you? Because I don't want to end up burned at the stake or anything. I think I should leave..."
Dorian latched onto her arm, holding her in place with an amused smile. "Just be yourself and you'll be fine. Besides you're our sister so by default we have to like you. And as for being a witch, so is half our family."
"Oh." Willow hurriedly searched her mind for another reason to leave. She didn't want to do this anymore, she just wanted to go back home.
"Hey, can one of you give me a hand? She's trying to make a run for it." Dorian called out happily.
Morgan and Drew leaped off the fence, sprinting towards them at a full run. The two girls skidded to a stop in front of them. Drew grabbed her other arm and began to help Dorian drag her towards her parent's. Morgan started to giggle at them, and pushed on her back.
"Well, it seems that you've been accepted into our clan." Kirstan remarked dryly.
"Guess what? She said that she's a witch." Dorian piped in, finally letting her go.
Jennifer sat Elle on her feet, looking up with genuine interest. " Really? How long have you been practicing?"
"Since eleventh grade."
"Why did you start so late?"
Willow nervously looked around trying to figure out what to tell them. She couldn't tell them the truth. They'd put her in the looney bin if she told them that she'd had to learn when her best friends vampire boyfriend lost his soul and killed her teacher who was a rom gypsy.
"It's a long, long, complicated, and not quite believable story."
"You'd be surprised by what we believe." Kirstan remarked.
She studied the dark woman curiously. The athletic woman was giving off a familiar vibe that was just on the tip of her tongue. She was positive that she'd meet someone with that same vibe before, but she couldn't place it. It was a strong, dark, powerful vibe, that reminded her off a creature of the night. A vampire, or werewolf, or even a slay...
"You're a slayer." She hadn't meant to say it, but it just slipped out of her numb lips.
Kirstan's closed face opened up in surprise, and even more suspicion. " How do you know about slayers?"
"Hello. Lives on a hellmouth?" She swallowed at the darkening expression on her mothers face. " The current slayer, or one of the current slayers is my best friend."
"Wait, you're the witch that helps her." Jennifer muttered.
"I may be retired but we still get the occasional news from the council." Kirstan smiled at her, " And from what I hear, you and the slayer have caused quite an uproar inside the old boys club."
"Oh, right. Um, so I guess you want to know about my involvement with the slayer?"
"That might be a good idea."
Buffy sat on the edge of the bed, watching her sister try to ignore her. " Did she tell you where she's staying?"
"Why? So you can go slay her now?"
"So I can apologize."
"She's moved in with her biological family."
She scooted a little closer to Dawn, smoothing back the teen's hair. " Can you give me their address or phone number?"
Dawn rolled onto her side and took a piece of paper from her night stand. Taking it from her sister, she took a look at it, and froze.
"This is outside the city."
"I know." Dawn said coldly, then went back to the book she was reading.
The room was large, with dark wood walls, and a long bed. The furniture that decorated the bedroom was hand crafted antique. Various stuffed animals, clothes, and toys was placed around the room. Pictures of her family hung on the walls, showing them at different times in their life, times that she'd been robbed of. Even the pictures were they were laughing and carefree, there was strain of sadness in their faces.
"We didn't have the heart to pack your stuff after you were taken." Jennifer slowly entered the room, her worn eyes tracing over everything. " We'd buy you birthday and Christmas presents every year in hopes that that would be the year we'd get you back. Then we'd put your presents here, in your room, knowing that someday you'd be able to enjoy them."
"Why didn't you do a tracking spell?"
Jennifer picked up a picture of her with her identical sisters. " We tried, but there was a tracking block on you. We spent years looking for you, using all our resources, but we had two other daughters to raise and another one on the way."
"It wasn't your fault." She was unsure what to do, how to comfort this stranger that had given birth to her. "Is Kirstan our father, or did you get a sperm donor?"
"After we were married her watcher gave us a spell that allowed us to have children."
She nodded, having suspected that it was something like that. There was too much of both women in all of them for her to be anything but biologically related.
"I've talked to Kirstan about your problem, and we want to start training you immediately. You need to learn control your magic before someone gets hurt."
"What about Kirstan? She doesn't strike me as much of a witch."
Jennifer chuckled softly at her remark. " No, she'll be handling your physical training."
She gulped at the idea of having to learn how to fight. Just the idea alone was enough to make her tired. "B-but I don't fight, fighting is bad, very bad."
"Part of you problem is your physical condition. A lot of a witches control depends on your physical fitness, breathing control, how much control you have over your body." Jennifer smiled reassuringly at her, " It'll be fine. Kirstan's a great teacher, and she'll get you in shape in no time."
"That's what I'm afraid of." She muttered.
"Why don't you get washed up? Dinner's almost ready." Jennifer laughed as she left.
The red head looked back at her with tears in her eyes. "Yes?"
She walked up to the woman and hugged her tightly, "It's good to be home."
"It's good to have you home, sweetie."
She stared off at the stars in a haze of sadness. She'd been so ready to believe the worst of her friend, that she'd forgotten to look for the best. She'd just been so angry over been ripped away from heaven, that it was easier to think of her friend doing it out of hate rather than love. Now, in her own pain, she'd over looked Willow's pain.
"There you are luv. I was looking all over the place for you. I thought you'd be out patrolling already."
"Not now Spike."
Two strong arms wrapped around her waist, pulling her tightly against a cold chest. She flinched at the feel of his cold lips against her pulse. She shrugged off the vampire, hating herself for giving in to her need for some amount of comfort.
"What's wrong?" Spike moved to stand in front of her, "It's Red. It isn't your fault, you know. The chit should've told us."
"We wouldn't have listened, and she knew that. I should've known. We were living in the same house, saw each other all the time. I should've seen it."
The vampire flicked his cigarette butt to the ground, "You're in love with her."
"What? No. Of course not. She's my friend, that's all." She glared at Spike, just daring him to contradict her. All he had to do was open his mouth and say it, then she could stake the S.O.B. One word that's all it would take.
"I may be a vampire, but I still know love when I see it."
"I..." She trailed off as the vampire disappeared into the shadows. "I don't want to be."
The fire blazed higher and higher amidst the laughter and talking of the large group. It was an incredible gathering, one of love and friendship. Her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, and parents were all gathered by the lake, around the large bon fire. Food was scattered on a cluster of tables nearby. Kirstan was standing over the barbecue pit, cooking various hamburgers, steaks, and beef hot dogs.
She could hear the gentle drift of music as Dorian played her guitar with Morgan's voice soothing her nerves. An angel lifted from the mortal realm with wings a far.
"She has an incredible voice." The cool blonde pulled herself up on the fence beside her, the pale ice blue eyes sparkling with mischief. "I'm Alex by the way."
"Willow." She glanced back at her eclectic family. "They're very friendly."
"That's one way to put it."
"Are you another relative?"
Alex shook her head in amusement, "Goddess no. I'm your neighbor."
"I didn't know we had neighbor's."
"This place is pretty far out. How are you adjusting?"
Willow was tempted to laugh at that question. Adjusting was an understatement. "At this point, I'd say it's like entering a whole different world."
"Yeah, but a good world."
"So...Your boyfriend here?" She winced inwardly at her not so subtle question. She was really going to have to work on her flirting.
"Nope, gay and single. Just like you."
Busted. She tried to look innocent but the pouty face the other woman had was making it impossible to think. That body, with curves that went on forever and ever. The thick, luscious, blonde hair that was pulled into a careless pony tail. Those thick moist ruby red lips that stuck out just...so.
"Would...would you like to do something sometime?" She choked out.
"Depends. Would it be a date?"
She swallowed hard at the steady gaze, "Yeah, unless you don't want it to, then it wouldn't be, but I want it to be."
"There's an old mining cave close by, we could take a picnic lunch up there and talk."
"I'd like that..."
"Willow!!! Come on!!!"
Alex smirked as Drew beckoned them over. The adults were gathering around the bon fire, signaling the start of the story sharing.