Title: Daughters of Charon

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: T

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.

Summary: B:tVS, PotC. As the date of The Visit loomed closer, Buffy grew more and more distracted, arguing with herself whether she really was going to show up this time. 1700 words.

Spoilers: B:tVS post-"Chosen", with references from Angel Season 5 and no comics canon; "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (2007)

Notes: Challenge entry. Don't ask where this one came from.

"Time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace

--From "Fern Hill", by Dylan Thomas

As the date of The Visit loomed closer, Buffy grew more and more distracted, arguing with herself whether she really was going to show up this time. She barely remembered the guy, after all; the last time she'd seen him had been nearly twenty years before, when she'd been a five-year-old girl more concerned with the sand getting into her pretty shoes than whoever the strange person in weird clothing her mother had dragged her to meet might be.

She still didn't know exactly who he was, though she had a pretty good idea. Her mother had only told her that he was somehow related to their family, and that he was the captain of an old-fashioned sailing vessel with a very irregular schedule. Despite being standoffish-- he had only agreed to attend a reunion once every ten years-- he was apparently worth the aggravation, because her mother had been very disappointed to miss him the year Buffy was fifteen. Given the vampires, and the divorce, and everything, Joyce had sent an apology with a few cousins who were planning to attend. Buffy had been too caught up in her own problems to care then, and had barely noticed when Turner Day slipped by unmarked.

She knew when he'd be showing up next, though. Her mother had made sure to mention the date at least once each year after that, counting down until the next meeting with a wistful enthusiasm Buffy had never seen directed toward any of their other relations. She'd even made a curious comment once about him, or at least Buffy had assumed it to be about him, after she'd been out to dinner and had a little more than usual to drink: "I really shouldn't have been so surprised about the vampires, I suppose, growing up a Turner, but really, they're so-- Dracula! Hank convinced me you were just delusional, making things up from your nightmares." Later, however, she'd been unwilling to speak on it further.

There was a legend about a family named Turner in the Watcher's Council's books, actually; Buffy had had Giles look it up as a curiosity, wondering what her mother could have meant. It had all been too fantastical to believe, though, involving at least two William Turners sailing on the actual Davy Jones' ship, an immortal pirate called Captain Jack Sparrow, an angry sea-goddess, and a Pirate King named, of all things, Elizabeth who had produced exactly three children at intervals of ten years while guiding the pirate community through its declining years in the Caribbean. Even the Watchers considered the story to be something on the order of a fairy tale.

Still, given everything her mother had-- and hadn't-- said, the possibility did exist that her mystery relative was the legendary Captain Will Turner, doomed to sail the seas collecting souls for eternity-- except for stops every ten years to see how his family was doing. It would fit very tidily into the life of a girl who'd been chosen as Slayer at the age of fifteen, whose first romance had been an actual Romeo and Juliet affair, and whose sister was the magically-created Key to the universe. So when the Day came again at last, Buffy let her curiosity get the better of her, threw caution to the wind, and took a plane back to the States, where she rented a car and drove it down to the secluded, private beach her mother's family owned.

The first thing she noticed as she parked her car above the beach was the ancient wooden ship riding at anchor a short distance out, visible over a narrow stretch of sand where a knot of people gathered. Great-aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins she hadn't seen in forever were all clustered around a tall man she couldn't properly see at that distance. She descended the path toward that section of the beach with a slightly wild pulse, caught up in the drama of the event despite her intention to remain guarded and wary.

If the stories were right, the man she was about to meet was several hundred years old; older than Spike at least, and probably Angel too. Not to mention, he was as undead as they were-- no doubt why her mother had been cautious about sharing the full story with her. Slayer prejudices, et cetera. There was a significant difference, though, according to the legend; the Captain of the Dutchman had never been soulless. The curse on the ferryman's ship had supposedly required the removal of his physical heart, but not his spiritual one.

There was no telling how true that was, though, given the number of Things out there that could masquerade as human. Besides which-- how could a guy with no heartbeat have conceived three children, anyway? Maybe Buffy wasn't such a freak, after all; maybe her taste for pulseless men was genetic? She gave a hysterical little giggle at the thought.

Unexpectedly, her nerves settled a little as she got closer. He hadn't seemed very impressive when she was a child, though she did remember liking the bandanna he wore over his dark hair. Maybe she just hadn't known what to look for, though. The closer she got as she approached him over the sand, the more her attention was drawn to him. He was wearing an open, maroon sailor's shirt above dark trousers, showing off his tanned, scarred chest; the early morning light glinted from a golden earring and the white of his smile. Buffy felt like she was only seeing him in tiny pieces, as if he was impossible to appreciate fully as the sum of his parts; the phrase "larger than life" came to mind.

She tried to remind herself he could easily be some kind of sea-demon keeping her family in thrall somehow, but the thought kept slipping away; it was as though some greater pressure, some higher Power, was leaning on her and telling her subconscious to trust him. That should have worried her, too, she knew-- but it didn't.

She knew the instant he spotted her. He froze a little when he caught her gaze, his dark eyes glittering a little in his tanned face, and he dispersed the people standing between them with a few murmured words.

She'd worn a white blouse that day, bound with a long brown leather vest over matching leather pants; her boyfriend Giacomo had recommended the outfit when she'd mentioned the name of the beach she was going to, and coaxed her into leaving her hair down, long and loose. It hadn't sounded very comfortable for such a long trip, but she'd tried it out just to humor him; he'd appeared behind her while she stood before her dressing mirror, and stared for several long, silent minutes at their combined reflection. There had been something sad and terrible in his eyes. When she'd asked him what was up, he'd just shaken his head, muttered "Turners" under his breath, and walked out without looking back. She hadn't seen him again before she left, either. He must have known a Turner ancestress who resembled her; that was the only answer that made sense.

"You're Joyce's daughter, then?" Captain Turner asked as Buffy reached him, and he took one of her hands in his. "I'd recognize you anywhere."

She stared in amazement as he kissed the back of her hand, then blushed as the female relatives clustered around them tittered at the gesture. "Yes," she said. "I don't know if you've heard--"

"I've heard," he said gravely. "My descendants have seldom settled beyond the reach of the sea; Calypso always carries me word of their fates. I am sorry for your loss."

"Th--thank you," she replied, momentarily caught off guard by the deep well of sympathy in his eyes. They seemed older than the rest of him, far older; she'd never seen eyes so old on anyone she'd ever met, human or not. "I-- my sister couldn't come this time either; she's sitting her exams."

Not that Buffy had asked her to. She probably would next time, though; now that she'd had a few minutes to adjust to the weight pressing against her senses, she could feel no actual malice in him, nor the patron he served, not like what she'd picked up from Glory or what she'd heard of Jasmine. He felt wild but solid somehow, like a hallowed standing stone or an ancient tree, a part of the fabric of the supernatural world despite his human origins.

He smiled again at her comment. "Dawn, for the flash of green on the horizon; very aptly named. I saw her five years ago, though she does not remember it."

Buffy jerked her hand out of his grip, startled by the implication; it felt as though a bucket of icy seawater had been dumped over her. "I'm not sure what you--"

"They call me the Ferryman for a reason, you know," he interrupted, teasingly. "Though for a moment when I saw you, I thought another soul had slipped back into the world without my knowledge: your mother knew what she was doing when she named you after my Elizabeth."

"You can blame Giacomo for the look," she said shakily. "He's the one that suggested the outfit. I guess he must have known her; she was pirate royalty for awhile, wasn't she?"

"You know your history," he said approvingly, raising an eyebrow at her. "But it's unlikely he ever met her, unless--" He paused for a moment, then laughed abruptly. "Giacomo. Jack. I might have known. It's been some time since I last saw him. How has he been?"

"Questionably moral, immortal, and always coming up with bizarre new schemes to amuse himself?" she said, lightly, remembering the incident with the severed head-- and everything she'd heard about him, Darla, and Drusilla.

"Definitely Jack," he said, and shook his head. "When you go back, tell him Will said to treat you well-- and that he's to come along, next time. I've missed him, scoundrel that he is."

"I will," Buffy promised.

She'd have a lot of other things to say to the man, too.