Inside Giles' office at their Scottish castle headquarters, a grim Buffy was having no luck in her relentless interrogation. To a man (and a woman), the surviving original members of the Scooby Gang steadfastly maintained their total innocence pertaining to the present situation that had wound up with them all having to hurriedly depart from tonight's fifth anniversary celebration elsewhere in the castle's ballroom of the formation of the New Council after the destruction of Sunnydale and the activation of every possible Slayer in the world.
From where she was lounging in her armchair next to Buffy, an amused Faith sardonically pointed out, "Hell, B, your friends knew they screwed up big time right from the get-go, so they weren't ever gonna open their yaps over it back then, or anytime after. The only way I found out myself was from Angel, who wasn't too happy 'bout it, either."
"Well, somebody talked!" irately snapped Buffy in response to her sister Slayer's comments. The blond woman glowered fiercely around the office, at Giles seated behind his desk, not to mention Willow and Xander in their own chairs on the opposite side of the room, with these three people looking very ill at ease. Buffy's angry gaze then moved onto the young stranger in the room, who immediately stopped touching his tender nose that had been healed a few minutes before by an exasperated Willow. Cringing back with real terror in his seat, that person shivered while gripping the armrests of the chair which had been dragged over to the middle of the room after he'd been dumped into this armchair by a furious Buffy.
As this unfortunate individual cowered under the sudden attention of all there, these observers were studying a scruffy teenage boy, whose rumpled demeanor matched his halfhearted attempt to dress up for tonight's party, with a clean t-shirt having the Batman symbol on front, his least-wrinkled pair of jeans, and red high-top Converse sneakers.
Wearily eyeing her unasked-for responsibility, Willow sighed, "Hiram, do you remember what we discussed last week about improving your social skills? Your behavior earlier tonight wasn't all that nice or polite, mister."
In his chair, the young wizard dejectedly slumped down further, looking at the floor with his head hanging lower than his hunched shoulders, which were tentatively shrugged, followed by a muttered, "Sorry, Ms. Rosenberg."
"Sorry ain't gonna cut it, Hiram," Xander sarcastically noted, drawling out the boy's name. "Why'd you think it was such a good idea anyway to come right up to the Buffster and announce to everyone your big news? It would've been a helluva lot more sensible to check with Wils first or somebody else, like an actual adult-" Suddenly cutting himself off in mid-sentence, Xander then thoughtfully stared at the teenager still intently examining the tips of his sneakers, before the one-eyed man tried again, asking, "Say, kid, how old are you?"
There was a short silence in the room, as everybody there now witnessed the slow blush rise up in the young man's features, soon changing this into bright scarlet, before a reluctant answer was mumbled by Hiram Tolleson, "Seventeen."
After that, Hiram refused to meet anyone's eyes, which meant he missed seeing the rueful glances being traded among themselves by the Scoobies, who were in the main just a few years shy of the big three-oh, with Rupert Giles scathingly smirking to the room at large.
Xander eventually rallied, remarking to Hiram, "Okay, kid, you've got a pretty good excuse for being stupid, but even when we were your age, we never did something so reckless like that! For us, it was just blowing up our high school, getting involved with a demon, or even kleptomania…"
As this New Council troubleshooter's statement then trailed off into a meditative pause, it was clear that Xander had just realized something. From the comprehending expression now evident upon the others' faces, so too had Faith, Willow, Giles, and Buffy. Though, that latter Slayer was the only one not to turn her head to regard where the last of their company was standing at the rear of the room and desperately trying to press her back through the office wall.
Instead, Buffy looked straight ahead while calmly crooning, "Oh, Daaaawn, my dear, dear sister, is there something you'd like to tell us? Or just me?"
From directly behind Buffy, Dawn glowered at the back of her sister's head, and she said defensively, "What makes you so sure that I've been hiding something?"
"Your heart skipped a beat when Xander mentioned the time in Sunnydale when you acted out by shoplifting anything that hadn't been nailed down."
"Stupid Slayer senses…" grumbled Dawn to herself, only to swallow whatever else she might have been about to say, as Buffy then twisted around in her chair and regarded with a very cold eye the youngest Summers sister. While the rest of the room continued to watch with interest for the next few moments, each of them secretly glad at not being the recipient of Buffy's killer glare, Dawn on the other hand finally broke, to then protest rather huffily, "Look, it was years ago, plus there was a perfectly good reason for it at the time!"
"Which was?" Buffy demanded in her unyielding tone of doom.
Dawn sighed, knowing the jig was up at last. She dolefully confessed, "I had to tell the Slayers-In-Training something to explain why you were shacking up with Spike instead of staking him on the spot like a proper Slayer would have. Once I got started, even more details had to be filled in, so I pretty much wound up giving out the whole Scooby Gang history to the Potentials, from day one at Sunnydale High to us being crammed together in our house against the First."
Seeing the annoyed looks abruptly appearing upon the features of virtually everyone there, Dawn indignantly added, "Hey, I was actually doing you guys a real favor back then! Remember how it was? People living on top of each other, lines in front of the bathrooms, sleeping on the floors, no tv, food running low- I should've gotten a medal for managing to keep the girls distracted with my stories, but you just took for granted the peace and quiet instead of hair-pulling fights every five minutes! Let me tell you, things would've gotten nastier much sooner if I hadn't entertained the Potentials with the really prime stuff, like Xander's- Ooops."
As Dawn paused in her diatribe, a chagrined look now upon her face, that man himself simply had to ask, albeit in a tone of pure dread, "Like Xander's what?"
At that point, after finding something especially interesting on the room's ceiling to fix her gaze there, a very reluctant Dawn admitted, "The list of demon girlfriends, which somehow shifted into a crazy group discussion taken up by the girls, who started ranking which of Xander's relationships might have actually been successful, if only he'd tried harder."
"Tried harder?" gurgled Xander, as he gaped at Dawn still studying the office ceiling. His temper beginning to boil over, the one-eyed man now snarled, "Did they mean that I should've poured a whole bottle of ketchup on my head when I was with Ms. French, just to make myself a tastier snack for that virgin-eating demon?"
Bringing down her head, with a faint frown of remembrance shown towards an irate Xander, Dawn absently replied, "Actually, it was decided by us that Drusilla would've been perfect for you."
Glancing around the dropped jaws of her friends, the Key resignedly shrugged, "Look, it was a long time ago, but from what I can remember, we figured that Dru might've wanted a change from Spike after being with him for a century, not to mention that calling you 'Kitten' meant she considered you soft and fluffy and a perfect pet- Listen, it was three a.m., and we were sharing a big bowl filled with whatever remaining edibles in the house that we could scavenge, which were a far beyond its sell-by date bag of stale Fritos, a half-empty jar of Tums, and a couple handfuls of Gummi bears sprinkled with Bacon Bits! After chowing down on that, none of us could have been called anything like being in our right minds, so don't you dare to judge me, Alexander LaVelle Harris!"
Before Xander to retort to that, he was distracted by Buffy turning her back to Dawn and throwing up her hands in the air in absolute disgust while announcing to the entire room, "So, basically, blabbermouth here spilled our whole secrets and private stuff to a bunch of strangers, who then spent the next couple of years spreading these far and wide!"
Buffy grimly folded her arms across her chest, to then continue her rant. "Worse of all, after our lives were reduced to casual gossip, somebody then had the bright idea to take what they learned and use it as a research project!"
Those last several words were viciously hissed through Buffy's tight lips, accompanied by her most savage look directed at the absolute idiot of a wizard, who'd just a few minutes ago had rudely barged into the small group of people still known as the Scooby Gang, all gathered together in the ballroom downstairs. This magically-talented teenager had then managed to surpass himself even further in his bad manners, by proudly informing Buffy Summers, right to her startled face, that he'd developed a spell that could actually show this Slayer where she'd been in heaven after this young woman had died to stop Glory, and would she like to see?
Somehow forgetting that his thoughtless actions a few moments ago had resulted in him collapsing to the ground after being promptly decked by Buffy, who'd then stalked out of the ballroom while dragging along after herself the wizard by his ankle, ignoring both the shocked stares of everyone else at the party or how her towed captive sliding over the floor was moaning and clutching at his throbbing nose, Hiram indignantly declared to those in Giles' office, "She's making it sound like it was a simple homework assignment, like I'd waste my time on something so trivial! It took me weeks of experiments to craft such a high-level spell, and I'm really pleased with it! Did you know how hard it was to work around the fact that she's still alive-?"
An interrupting Xander, who'd slumped back in his chair and then clapped his right hand over his remaining eye to block out the coming carnage, hollowly groaned, "Kid, either shut up, or go find someplace else to get the nickname of 'Death Wish' Hiram. Giles has a tendency to become thoroughly cranky when his books get splashed with blood, and he'll be more than willing to express his mood about this at any survivors in the immediate vicinity. Which certainly won't include you-"
This time, it was Xander's turn to be interrupted, by something totally unexpected. Beadily eyeing the paling young wizard in his chair, Buffy snapped, "Fine, then! He can do it, right here and now."
That shocked yelp of disbelief was uttered in unison by every other person there, including Hiram, as they all then stared in shared disbelief at where a blonde Slayer was glaring back at them.
"Oh, you bet," Buffy smirked evilly, as she continued in her malicious tone. "Either Mr. Wizard over there screws up or can't cut the mustard, in which case I'll drag him back down to the party by the scruff of his neck and make him confess his total failure to everyone there. Or, he actually pulls it off, and I finally get to show you just what you tore me out of, years ago."
There was dead silence in the room, as virtually all there shared an intense, unspoken desire to be anywhere else in the entire world besides Giles' office. Only Faith was able to meet Buffy's bitter expression, with the Boston-born Slayer inwardly admitting to herself that she'd never have thought it possible to feel lucky about being in prison when another young woman had been untimely resurrected from her peaceful rest.
From what she'd learned after returning to Sunnydale before it was destroyed, and later on during the activation of all the other Slayers and the formation of the New Council, Faith knew that Buffy had in the end grudgingly forgiven her friends for what they'd unknowingly done. It still remained a very sensitive issue among the Scooby Gang, who for the most part preferred to avoid discussing it with each other, or even recollecting that regrettable incident.
Unfortunately, during tonight's gathering in the castle ballroom, somebody with a world-class inability to consider other peoples' feelings had walked up to Buffy Summers and basically ripped off the mental bandage upon the part of her soul that still remembered heaven. This meant that Los Angeles native wasn't at present in the best of moods, which she instantly demonstrated by snarling at a once-again fearful wizard: "You! Start talking on what you need to do about the mojo stuff!"
Hiram gulped, and quavered, "Ah, uh, basically…just a single strand of hair from your head. And Ms. Rosenberg also needs to take off the influence protections on that."
Eyebrows rose around the room, and then lowered, as looks of surprise changed into worry among the others there, who knew there was good reason for those mystical safeguards laid upon every single New Council member. Some forms of magic done by hostile opponents of that organization could manipulate or control people by casting spells upon them using those person's bodily elements, which could be practically anything lost, discarded, or taken: hair, teeth, skin cells, blood, and so on. Even less dignified components would work, as a rather embarrassed Willow had mumbled while explaining her newest proposal to Giles and the others several years ago.
Basically, the Red Witch would cast her own pre-emptive spell upon everyone in the castle, including her friends. An intangible, unnoticeable magical field would immediately form around their whole bodies and become permanent, rendering any discarded bits of this person's form mystically useless after passing through the field. Even if some other inimical spell-caster still got their hands on these items, they would find that their prize was now worthless, as capable of influencing their target as the nearest handful of air. Willow swore an Unbreakable Oath upon her very magic that the enchantment she was proposing would do nothing else, not invading their privacies in any way nor allowing someone to be tracked.
After a serious discussion among the Scoobies, the Wiccan's suggestion was accepted and the spell was cast upon the New Council's headquarters. Later on, that action had been repeated upon those other buildings that were in regular use by the members of this demon-fighting organization, both for business purposes and living quarters. Any person actively joining the New Council also automatically received this protection, along with their closest family members.
So far, there had been no problems with this, and several attempts by their enemies to circumvent Willow's spell had completely failed, including the most imaginative try a few months ago. Afterwards, Buffy had been reassured by her witchy friend that those responsible for disrupting the Slayer's last salon appointment at the hairdresser's had painfully learned their lesson, and the blonde woman could have her roots touched up again whenever she liked.
That was why, when Buffy glanced over at Willow in Giles' office, the latter woman merely nodded and waved her hand in a mystical gesture. The room then saw the Slayer grab a lock of hair and peer closely at this, all while mumbling to herself, "Where are you- Aha!" Right after that, Buffy selected a specific strand and yanked it free from her scalp, spitefully saying under her breath, "Die, split end, die!" Holding the hair in her fingers, Buffy shot Hiram an extremely impatient look, which caused that young wizard to hastily leave his seat, come over to gingerly collect what the Slayer handed to him, and then scuttle back to the presumed safety of his chair.
The others in the office then watched Hiram stare down at the single hair cradled in the palms of his cupped hands, becoming so totally focused upon the start of his spell that this wizard now ignored anything else around himself. Including how Xander suddenly developed a deep frown on his scarred features. Leaning over to whisper into the ear of his yellow-crayon friend, this man uneasily asked, "Wils, are you sure about his? That kid over there, he doesn't exactly inspire confidence, what with the way he acted-"
Continuing to observe Hiram engrossed in his task, Willow absently replied, "It's true that he makes Andrew look like Mr. Suave. But, Xan, the fact is that guy is a real prodigy at magic. I've got more sheer power than he does, yet in some areas Hiram can already do better than me. Which is why I'm allowing this; he really does need practice in getting along with the rest of humanity without having his head handed to him. Whether he succeeds or fails, that young man and I will have a good long talk about this, you bet." Turning her head to stare in his face from a few inches' distance, Willow gave her enduring comrade a small, sad smile, before whispering back, "Think of it as part of my atonement for all I did without having someone keep me in line, like I'm doing with Hiram."
Xander leaned further forward to plant a tender kiss upon Willow's cheek, and then he settled back into his chair to join the red-haired woman in their study of the unaware wizard still staring down at Buffy's hair in his hands. Neither of the former Sunnydale natives gave the slightest indication of what they knew quite well and didn't mind in the least, that of the other four people in the room, the pair of Slayers had heard them perfectly, plus Giles and Dawn in their family's lives together over the years already knew of all that had been spoken.
A few moments later, a flickering white glow abruptly formed around what Buffy had given Hiram. It took several more seconds before this sparking illumination steadied into a bright, illuminated globe holding the Slayer's hair inside the center of this sphere. As the fascinated crowd continued to watch, the globe (which looked exactly like a lit Christmas tree ornament) slowly floated up to head level before a motionless Hiram, who kept his gaze fixed downwards at the strand that had been left behind to still rest on his palms. The others in the office now saw the white ball drift horizontally across the room to the far wall, which held a single massive bookcase containing numerous rare volumes and tomes that constituted Rupert Giles' lifelong collection of factual information concerning the supernatural.
Beginning to worriedly open his mouth at seeing his treasures possibly imperiled, the director of the New Council then instead thankfully refrained from whatever he'd been about to say, as the magical globe stopped just short of the bookcase. Right after that, the round object floating in the air changed into only two dimensions, becoming a flat circle of white light, which then started to expand, both up and down and to the sides. This spreading out stopped only when a massive oval had been formed that reached from the floor to the ceiling, and took up a good half of the far wall, flooding the entire office with the radiance coming from this oval, and making all the observers there squint against this intense light.
An eye-blink later, the white luminosity vanished, to instead show in assorted colors (including a great deal of pink) and in perfect focus, an elliptical image upon the face of the oval screen.
In perfect synchrony, six jaws dropped in pure shock at what they were presently seeing. Of all them there - besides Buffy, Dawn, Giles, Willow, and Xander - it was Faith who managed to choke out first what everyone else was dazedly thinking:
"Heaven's a li'l gal's bedroom?"
She was cute.
She was adorable.
She was blonde.
Throughout the castle office, heads turned to gaze directly at where Buffy was still gawking at the little girl on the screen happily seated at a diminutive table, drawing something with crayons upon a sheet of paper and humming to herself. Eventually becoming aware of the others' intense attention, Buffy wildly looked around at her entire family giving this Slayer some very hard stares. Hastily waving her hands in panicky negative gestures, the woman spluttered, "I don't- That wasn't- SOMETHING WENT WRONG!"
That last remark had been yelped at the top of Buffy's lungs, as she immediately pointed an accusing finger right at Hiram, who continued to perform his statue imitation, not responding the slightest to a shouting superheroine.
Faith had ignored that minor bit of byplay, to instead lean forward in her chair for a closer look at that little girl who seemed to be about kindergarten age. This brunette woman then doubtfully asked her sister Slayer, "Is that you, B? When you was a bitty kid, I mean."
After saying this, Faith glanced around the room, getting in return simultaneous headshakes of varying speed from all there, with those of Buffy and Dawn being the most frantic, but even Xander, Willow, and Giles were clearly indicating that Faith had been completely wrong concerning what she'd just suggested. Her puzzled frown taking in the latter trio of Scoobies, Faith questioned these specific persons, "How come you're so sure 'bout that?"
Giles beat out the younger people by explaining in his cultured voice, "At one time or another in Sunnydale, Joyce showed to each of us her family photos, Faith. Trust me, that child over there bears only the faintest resemblance to a pre-school Buffy."
"Yeah!" interjected an indignant Los Angeles native, who went on to glower at the unknowing youngster still busily working on her drawing. In an utterly sure tone, Buffy then assured everyone, "Plus, even when I was that kid's age, Mom would have never inflicted on me that crime-against-humanity hairstyle!"
Heads turned back to the magical picture just in time to see the little girl's blonde ringlets dangling from the sides of her head began to bounce, as she started humming louder while gaily scribbling away at her artwork. In her chair in the office that she'd absently taken a few minutes earlier, Dawn cocked her own head, as she slowly spoke, "Does that sound familiar, guys? I could swear I've heard that song somewhere before, but I can't remember-"
"It's 'Chim Chim Cher-ee', from Disney's 1964 'Mary Poppins' movie," offhandedly identified Rupert Giles from his desk where he was seated in his place of power as a former Watcher, the New Council Director, and a lifetime member of the Tweed Club for Men.
As he continued to watch the little girl shown by Hiram's spell, this Englishman gradually became aware of the incredulous silence now present in his office. Turning his head to regard the dumbfounded expressions of the others there staring at him, an irked Giles then snapped back at them, "Oh, for the love of-! A couple of years after that movie first opened, Ethan and I ducked into a London theatre one day to get out of a downpour, and that bloody film was the only thing playing there! It took me weeks to get out of my head that horrible Cockney accent what's-his-name did-"
"Riiiight," sardonically snarked Xander, smirking at the red-faced older man, whose temper straightaway seemed to reach an actual boiling point when Xander added in his deadpan tone, "Just stick to that story, and I'm sure someone will actually believe it."
Willow simply rolled her eyes at this family squabbling, to then peer more closely at the image against the wall as a sudden thought struck the redhead. Voicing what had just come to mind, the witch mentioned, "That place does look, I don't know, kind of dated… Like an old picture, even if there isn't anything in there that's actually outmoded, such as gas lamps and stuff like that."
Hearing this, the others returned to their study of the child's bedroom, with Xander and Giles soon breaking off their own examination to meet each other's glances and trading identical shrugs of pure male bafflement. Looking around, Xander saw that Wils, Buffy, and Dawn were still absorbed in checking out that place, but Faith-
Faith was observing him, her lips wryly pursed. Xander's ears promptly turned bright red in shame, when he realized the brunette Slayer had never in her entire horrible early life had such a nice room to sleep in, like that belonging to the little girl there. Holding his gaze, Faith now subtly lifted her shoulders in a faint shrug, indicating she knew exactly what he was thinking, and that it was okay. Xander respectfully nodded back, his heart full of compassion for his friend, as Faith then briskly announced to the room, "Hey, people, from what boss-man said, that place and the kid can't be any earlier than the mid-sixties or so. B, are we havin' some kinda past life deal here? That's you as someone else, maybe?"
Clearly intrigued at that suggestion from her sister Slayer, the oldest daughter of Joyce Summers slowly answered, "Well, it can't be Mom - she was just ten or eleven years-"
"What?" automatically answered the blonde woman in the castle office, in her flawless chorus shared with the blonde girl in the neat bedroom looking up from her drawing, as that child replied to her name being called in a man's gruff voice.
Perhaps only that labored voice could have ended the stupor in Giles' office, as everyone there snapped out of their absolute shock and turned each of their heads. All six of them - Faith, Willow, Buffy, Dawn, Giles, and Xander - now saw Hiram in his own chair still looking down at his hands, with the struggle to say those recent words starkly evident upon his youthful features.
Willow's own face abruptly shifted into concerned alarm, as she also noticed the beads of sweat breaking out on her protégé's forehead, and how pasty his skin appeared, all indications of the immense strain caused by the demanding spell that was severely overtaxing his body. The Red Witch started to call up her own mystical powers to give Hiram some relief by boosting his depleted magic. However, a flick of the young man's eyes towards someone he deeply respected (and had something of a crush on) stopped Willow at once, as Hiram then croaked, "Wait…almost over…this shows….Slayer."
Again, a sparking globe formed over the strand of hair from their Buffy in the wizard's trembling hands, to then quickly arise into the air, and zoom with blurring speed, like a bee on steroids, directly at the magical oval. The instant that glittering ball touched the face of the screen showing the bedroom beyond, this luminous round object popped out of existence, leaving behind no sign whatsoever of its presence.
Bewildered at seeing nothing happen, all there (except Hiram slumping back in his chair) continued to watch a child happily rushing around her room, getting ready for a promised visit to the park, as mentioned by someone named Uncle Bill who'd stayed out of sight during his brief visit. Quickly donning her new jacket from Macy's, the little girl who was baptized Ava Elizabeth Davis but had answered to the nickname of 'Buffy' during all of her entire short life now started to leave the bedroom, only to halt in her tracks while that charming youngster scrunched up her cute face at forgetting something. Dashing over to her bed, the girl reached under a pink, ruffled pillow, and she promptly pulled out something from under this cushion.
Giving a joyous hug to her mostest favorite toy in the whole wide world, Buffy then declared right into the face of a doll with blonde hair and painted spectacles, "Mrs. Beasley, we're gonna have so much fun at the park!" Performing another exuberant embrace that perfectly expressed this child's innocent love and caring, Buffy skipped out of the bedroom with that named doll, all quite unaware during this that her plaything was presently throwing off mystical sparkles visible only to those in another dimension, who'd just found out where a certain Slayer had been after her sacrifice to save the world.
Right after that, the oval screen vanished from existence, as Hiram sighed with utter relief at his exhausting spell finally being over. Closing his eyes for a few brief moments to regain his strength, that young wizard eventually became conscious of the total silence in the room, and Hiram cracked open one eye to take a quick peek. An anxious instant later, the other eye joined its fellow orb in glancing around, only for Hiram to then see five people sitting motionless in their chairs, arms grimly folded across their chests and steadily glowering at the focus of their attention. Which lead to Hiram right away following their baleful gazes, to where a blonde woman who over the years had bestowed upon her family a truly immense amount of grief over what they'd once done to Buffy Summers during what was now known to have been perhaps the most ridiculous occasion of her entire existence.
This Slayer was also remaining totally immobile in her own chair, both hands lifted up to press her palms and fingers against her face, in an instinctive attempt to hide from all there. As he too stared at that woman, Hiram suddenly realized that whenever in the next few moments that Buffy brought down her hands, she would then do one of three things: burst into tears, start laughing hysterically, or most likely, proceed to slaughter everyone in Director Giles' office out of sheer embarrassment.
Belatedly understanding that now was a good time to get the hell out of there, Hiram lurched upwards from his chair, and then he staggered towards the room door, thankfully getting control of his legs along the way. After all, he'd soon need every bit of his speed from these limbs. None of the Scooby Gang bothered to watch him leave; instead, they continued to stare stonily at a still-frozen Buffy. Reaching the door, Hiram yanked this open, slipped out as fast as possible, and he then ran for his very life.
However, just before beginning his headlong sprint, Hiram Tolleson managed to hear, through the gap of the office door swinging shut behind him, a young woman sweetly saying to her big sister, "Hey, Buffy, considering that Angel once turned into a puppet, things might've been worse. You could've been a Betsy Wetsy doll."
Author's Note: I still can't believe that I'm the first one ever to do a Family Affair crossover on fanfiction! If anyone knows otherwise, drop me a line in the review section, but I searched in here, and couldn't find anything about the only other television program that had a female character named Buffy! True, the original series was broadcast from 1966 to 1971, but there was a remake on cable by the WB Network with 14 episodes shown and the cast with the same names, and that was in 2002, when BtVS was still on!