Hank was pacing back and forth, still reeling from the battle he had witnessed. He looked on as this group of people all moved about doing various things. They had jobs and tasks. He looked at the two girls lying on the couch. They were pale. His mind flashed to the battle, to Buffy driving that sword through a demon rat and tossing it with little or no effort. His baby girl was amazing, and he had missed it.
"They'll be okay." Joyce said as she handed him a cup of tea.
"How can you be so sure?" He looked at his ex wife and saw how much she had changed. The core strength of her being was the same, but now she glowed with happiness and purpose.
"You live through a couple of apocolypti, and rat demons don't phase you much." She shrugged.
"You didn't see these things." Hank shook his head.
"Well, I've done zombies, psychotic vampire boyfriends, baby eating snake demons, and giant demon mayors. Those are just a few of the low notes. This is a hell mouth. Buffy doesn't get a day off or someone dies." Joyce rested her hand on his shoulder. "Drink your tea. Tara says it will help you make blood faster. Buffy's gonna need that."
"First thing she's needed from me in so long." He took a long swig of the overly sweet beverage.
"That is bullshit." Joyce glared at him. "She's needed you all along. Needed us both. I may not have been in the know but at least I was at the party."
"I didn't know. I couldn't handle it. I thought she'd gone crazy, burning down a gym. A man died, Joyce."
"Merrick was already dead." Giles said. "He fought with her, saved her. His sacrifice is responsible for every life that remarkable young woman has saved." Giles leaned against the wall, watching his slayer breathe. "She still thinks she failed there."
"Merrick loved the girl, almost as much as you." Travers piped up. "He said she would be the greatest of all time."
"Well, she survived you." Joyce snarled and Spike snickered from his seat.
"Yes, she is remarkable." Travers said. "I fully expected her to fail."
"Buffy is the best. Most slayers aren't even a blip on the radar. Buffy's name alone makes some demons run in fear. Demon fairy tales used to feature slayers in various forms. Now most of the stories feature a blonde, punning, whirlwind of a slayer." Whistler said by way of introduction after he popped into the room. "Hiya, Angel, friends of Angel."
"Who the hell are you?" Hank whirled about and looked at the strange and frumpy man.
"Whistler, demonic fairy god pappy to," he paused and looked around. "Far too many beings in this room."
"What's going on?" Angel growled as he stood.
"Well, the human government isn't learning their lesson. This little fiasco isn't their biggest problem; so I need a mated slayer to come help fight their latest stupidity. Like now." He snapped his fingers and grinned as Buffy and Faith woke up. "Hiya, Buffy."
She glared at him and growled. Hank stared at his daughter in shock. Joyce snickered and Giles polished his glasses/
"What the hell are you doing here?" Buffy said as she grabbed Oz's hand.
"Alleviating your population problem. Same military idiots that made your military moron more, well, moronic and monstery engineered a vampire virus and set up a test in some lab in San Francisco. The stuff is nasty. The results are worse."
"So, I'm supposed to hop up in the middle of this battle and take on their other freaky lab experiment?"
"No. I'm gonna take the reform school slayer and her puppy watcher and maybe a few others."
"This is an all hands on deck thing." Buffy said.
"You can't protect them all, Buffy." Whistler sat next to Buffy and watched Faith scramble toward Wesley with a smirk. "This situation looked bad, but you handled it well."
"It isn't over." Buffy tilted her head.
"You have one out of control ex to handle. Not your first dance, is it?" Angel sat down with a nasty snarl.
"Buffy, be reasonable. You don't need them here, and they are a liability at this point. Faith was planning to head to Frisco anyway. Angel should take his crew, cause his daughter is about to take a whirl through L.A., and he might be able to stop her."
"So, everybody that's actually useful has to go, and you leave me with the rest of them?" She gestured vaguely with her hand.
"No, I'll take your sister slayers where they need to be, and I'll haul off the extra watchers, but you will still have your team. Angel can head home with his group under his own power. This isn't a big deal, Buffy."
"It is." Oz said. "They are our family, our pack. We were ready for a wide range, but it is hard to let them go."
"So, this is a freaky werewolf thing?" Whistler said. Oz just glared.
"Look, say your goodbyes and get your stuff sorted. He's gonna come for them and for you. He wants you, but any slayer in a pinch."
"Fine," Buffy nodded.
"I'm not going." Angel glared at her.
"So, Drusilla is heading to L.A. to wreak havoc and learn to surf for all you know. She's your creation, your responsibility. My team is good and they are sitting n the bench while we all play nice. Go, and take Daddy home."
"No!" Hank stood up. "The rest of them can go, but I am your ammunition. You need me."
"Dad, We'll take a pint before you go." Buffy smiled, but this isn't your world." Buffy grabbed his hand as the others looked on.
"It will be. I'm moving here. I want to get to know my baby again." He touched her cheek. "It seems like you give a lot of second chances. Do you have one for me?"
Buffy launched herself into his arms and would have knocked him to the floor if Spike hadn't caught him from behind. Whistler took off his hat and fanned his face to hide his smile.
In the bustle that followed, as the group struggled to divide, Spike walked over to Angel. The two vampires leaned against the wall side by side. Buffy and Faith were busy ramming the clothes they'd managed to round up for her into a bag. Wesley was intently talking with Travers and Giles. The chaos amused Spike and irritated Angel.
"I'll keep her as safe as possible, you know." Spike said.
"I know. Oz is good for her and the group of you has a shot at keeping her going. When the time comes and you need a place, find me." Angel never looked at Spike.
"Joyce has many years ahead of her. It'll be a while. Try to be kind to Dru if you can. I'd like to see her happy on the side of light someday." Spike looked at the ground.
"Don't do something stupid. These people need you. Use your brain." Angel turned and looked at Spike. "Hank is probably going to drive you nuts."
"Five dollars says he takes up Xander's tradition of dating demon women out to kill him." Spike smiled.
"Heard they talked you into field training two of the watchers. Mind your back. I won't be there for a bit."
"Yes, you will be. You're here doing what I am not strong enough to do." The two vampires stared at each other and shook hands before they returned to leaning against the wall.
"So, Wesley and Faith." Spike smirked. "Never saw that one coming."