I don't own anything. Buffy is not owned by me. Nor is anything own by DC Comics. They are owned by rich, talented people. I'm a nobody. Please don't sue me.

Quiet Birthday

"Okay," Buffy said to herself. "I can do this. I can totally do this." She paused, breathing deeply, before slumping. "There's no way I can do this."

Cass reached out and grabbed Buffy's hand, her face a mask of concern. "Okay?" she asked, the word halting and awkward.

The two Slayers were standing on the doorstep to Giles' sprawling home in England. The weather was very cold, with a thin dusting of snow on the ground, and their breath steaming in the air. They were both impeccably dressed in the height of Italian fashion, both favoring dark colors and wearing matching black leather coats.

Buffy smiled slightly at her charge. It had been over a year since the young Slayer had come into her life, and Buffy couldn't imagine not having her around. While Dawn could never be replaced, the gaping hole in her heart had been filled by the young girl, and Buffy had learned to be happy again. Now she was stuck facing the consequences of the past several years.

When Dawn had died, she had pushed everyone away, with only Willow succeeding in staying close to the angry Slayer. After years without contacting anyone, she was uncertain of her welcome as she stood on Giles' doorstep, trying to figure out how to approach her mentor... the father of her heart. No matter how much Slayer courage she had, she wasn't sure that she was strong enough to face her Watcher.

Just as she worked up the courage to finally knock, bolstered by Cass' quiet support, the opportunity was taken out of her hands. The door opened, and Giles, dressed in his winter coat, paused in surprise on his doorstep. "B-Buffy?" he stuttered, shocked.

"Hey Giles," Buffy said with a sickly smile. "Um. Do you, um... hi?"

He just stared at her for a long moment, and Buffy felt her heart sinking into her shoes, before suddenly he grabbed her and pulled her into a crushing embrace. "Buffy," he said quietly, his voice intense.

"Hey Watcher-mine," Buffy forced past the lump in her throat. "Mind if we come in?"

"Anytime," he assured. "My home is yours."

Giles led the two Slayers inside to his sitting room, where Cass began wandering around, taking in the decorations. The furniture was antique, and the room richly appointed, although the only truly personal touch was the set of framed photos showing all of the Scooby gang in happier times sitting on the mantel. Buffy and Giles ignored the finery as they stood awkwardly in front of each other for a moment, unsure of what to do or say.

"Perhaps some tea?" Giles offered.

"Tea, okay," Buffy said. "Sounds great. Tea me."

Giles retreated quickly towards the kitchen, leaving Buffy to stand around, waiting for him to return. After a minute of pacing she wandered over to see what Cass was doing. The younger Slayer held up a photograph of Giles, Dawn and Buffy together which had been taken shortly after Sunnydale fell. It was the largest picture on the mantel.

"Yeah, that's me, Giles and Dawnie," Buffy said. Cass nodded, looking at it with a sad smile.

Giles reentered, setting down the tea service before walking over to look at the photo with them. "That's, um, the most recent picture I have of you."

"I hadn't been feeling very photoy for a while there," Buffy said. "You should've seen my hair."

He smiled slightly, before gesturing towards some seats. Buffy led Cass over while Giles poured tea for all three of them. "How do you take your tea?"

"Lotta sugar," Buffy suggested.

"And, um, who are you?" he asked, looking at Cassandra.

"Cass," the girl said, smiling broadly.

"Sorry," Buffy said, shaking her head. "This is Cassandra Summers. Everyone calls her Cass. She's my, well, my daughter."

Giles blinked in shock, before smiling at Cass. "It's a pleasure to meet you, um, Cass. How are you?"

"Okay," she answered with a bright grin.

"How do you take your tea?" he asked her. She looked at Buffy, biting her lip nervously.

Buffy smiled at her reassuringly before answering Giles. "She'll take a bunch of sugar, too."

Giles rolled his eyes. "Of course."

They sat sipping their tea for a moment, Cass smiling brightly at the taste of hers. "Okay!" she said brightly, obviously pleased.

"I'm glad that you approve," Giles said dryly, although he smiled at her as he said it.

"Cass has, well, special needs," Buffy said, feeling a sudden urge to tell her mentor everything. "She doesn't speak very well. When I adopted her she couldn't actually say anything. Wills and I've gotten her to learn about ten words this year, so... English is a work in progress."

"I see," Giles said thoughtfully. "Is she a Slayer?"

"Yeah," Buffy said grinning proudly. "She's great. Gonna be better than me soon."

They sat quietly for a moment, unsure of what to say to each other. It had been a long time, and quite a bit had happened between them. "So," Giles finally said, clearing his throat. "Why are you here... not that I'm not pleased, but..."

"Yeah, I haven't been very good at the being seen thing," Buffy said, looking down. "I... sorry."

Giles didn't say anything, until she looked up at him anxiously when he hadn't responded for some time. He met her gaze for a moment, before smiling at her warmly. "Apology accepted. I've... I've missed you."

Suddenly Buffy was crying, and she grabbed Giles in a painful hug. Despite the bruises he was accruing, he didn't really mind. For the first time in years it felt as though things were right again.

They talked of small matters for hours, before the sun set and the grandfather clock chimed the late hour. They were nervous around each other, both keenly aware of how much time and pain lay between them, but both wanting very badly to bridge that gap. They finally stopped when Cass, who had grown bored long before and had taken to wandering the room again, walked over to Buffy and hovered anxiously near her shoulder.

"What is it, Cass?" Buffy asked.

"Slayage," the girl said, pulling out a stake.

Giles began to chuckle. "'Slayage'?" he asked incredulously.

"Huh?" Buffy asked. "What's the what?"

Giles began to laugh loudly. "Please tell me that you aren't alone in your endeavor to, to teach her English? Isn't that the confused leading the mute?"

"Ha," Buffy said sarcastically. "And I repeat. Ha."

"Slayage?" Cass asked curiously.

Buffy smiled and chuckled with Giles before standing. "Okay, honey. Slayage."

"Slayage!" she said happily, grabbing Buffy by the hand and leading her towards their coats.

"Will you be coming back?" Giles asked anxiously.

"Um... we can," Buffy said tentatively. "Or we can get a hotel room and come back tomorrow. No biggie."

"A hotel?" Giles said, aghast. "You will do no such thing. When you finish your, well, your patrol, then you can come right back here. I'll have beds turned down in the guest rooms for you."

Buffy bit her lip and shifted from foot to foot. "You don't have to. I wouldn't wanna intrude."

"You could never intrude, my dear," he said gently.

Buffy grinned, her eyes watering slightly. Clearing her throat, she pulled on her coat before answering. "We'll be back soonish. Just gonna make sure the London girls have things in hand."

When Buffy and Cass returned a few hours later, Buffy led her adopted daughter through a cool down routine, before sending her to bed. The little girl hugged Buffy before smiling shyly at Giles, who had watched the end of the exercise. She then went to her room, leaving the adults looking at each other awkwardly.

"You're very good with her," Giles said finally.

"Thanks," Buffy said. "She makes it easy. She's just so sweet most of the time... and she's the best fighter I've ever seen. Stubborn, though."

"I can't imagine what caring for a stubborn Slayer would be like," Giles said dryly.

"I never did thank you for all you did for me, did I?" Buffy said after a moment. "I never would've made it out of High School without you."

"You don't have to," Giles said finally.

"Still," Buffy said, smiling at him gently. "Thanks."

He nodded, before leading the way back to the sitting room. He spent a minute fussing about with the teaset, mostly to give himself time to get his emotions back under control. When they were both seated he gave her a serious look. "Why are you here? Not that I'm not truly pleased to see you, but I didn't think that you would come, especially not by surprise like this."

"Well," Buffy said nervously. "I've been meaning to come back for a while... try to make things up. It took a while, but I'm ready. More than that. I wanted to. I-I've missed you."

"And I you," he said smiling gently.

They sat quietly for a moment, sipping tea, neither of them comfortable with being so open about such things. Finally Buffy set down her cup and continued. "Willow and I've been workin' on her English, but... it's not working. She knows a few words, but that's it. I'm taking her to the Coven tomorrow, see if they can do anything."

"Why can't she talk?"

Buffy sighed and explained quietly. They didn't really know much, just that David Cain, her father, had trained her from birth to be the perfect warrior and assassin. The training had led to deep physical and mental scars, including her inability to communicate with normal language, although it had given her the ability to read body language so acutely that she could interact with others almost as if she could understand their words.

Eventually, when Giles was so tired that he was nearly nodding off, they went to bed. Both were hopeful, not only about their relationship, but also for the Coven's ability to help Cass.

Slayers didn't need much sleep, and it was something that Buffy took advantage of as she roused Cass before the sun to do their morning exercises. Cass had a routine that she always liked to do, which stretched every muscle in her body, as well as worked through the major moves of nearly every martial arts style that Buffy could imagine. She had been quick to copy it after she had first seen it, and Cass had happily learned Buffy's preferred morning Tai Chi, which they did every day as well.

Despite the length and thoroughness of this daily training regimen, they still left well before Giles managed to wake up, allowing them to arrive at the Coven at Devon before lunch. They finally saw him that evening after dark, as Buffy carried her sleeping daughter into the house and straight to bed, before quietly slipping out of her room. She led Giles back to the sitting room before saying anything, collapsing into a chair as she did. "Cass sleeps really lightly. Really lightly."

"How did things go?" he asked calmly.

"Good," Buffy said with a sigh. "I spent the whole day pacing, but it was worth it. Apparently, her brain needed to be shown how words work, and if we hadn't she probably wouldn't have ever really learned."

"So she will be able to speak now?" Giles asked.

Buffy hesitated. "Well.. not yet. Apparently, they could have just crammed language in her noggin, but they were worried about side effects. Doin' that might've made her forget how to do her body language thing, and she wouldn't have liked that. Or even, you know, forgotten how to eat or something. So they just showed her brain how to speak, and now we can teach her. Hopefully she'll be babbling and confusing you by Christmas."

Giles chuckled slightly. "Perhaps she should stay closer to London, so that I can make sure that she learns to speak properly."

The offer hung in the air between them, and Buffy hesitated slightly. "I dunno. I'm not really a big tea and fish 'n' chips kinda gal. I have been thinkin' about moving out of Rome though. Too many memories, and between me and Cass we got it under control. We just need to assign a Slayer to keep an eye on things, and we shouldn't have anymore problems down there."

"Where will you go?" he asked curiously.

"I wanna go back homeish. Not California maybe, but the U.S. anyway. Maybe somewhere that needs two top Slayers?"

"I'll see what I can find," Giles said, smiling slightly. While she might not be staying in England, he was happy just to see Buffy working with the Council again.

"Not in any hurry, though," Buffy said. "Be willing to hang for a bit. Maybe you can show her 'proper English'."

"How long can you stay?" Giles asked.

"Like I said, no hurry. My birthday's just a week away... maybe a bit past that?"

"That sounds wonderful," Giles said, smiling. He then paused, frowning. "You just want presents again, don't you?"

It was several days later before Buffy finally took a tour of the Watcher's Council Headquarters. While the organization had spread out quite a bit, in response both to the surge in the number of Slayers, as well as to prevent another bomb from wiping them out, it still maintained its largest facility in London. Buffy had never seen the location before, and she was quite impressed at what Giles and the others had accomplished while she had exiled herself to Rome.

Cass had been bored for most of the tour, although she had perked up when they had arrived at the gym where a class of young Slayers was being trained. They hung back and observed them critically, and Buffy found herself feeling oddly disappointed by what she saw. She knew, logically, that they were working hard and were probably as good or better than she had been during her first year or so as the Slayer, but after only training with Cass for a year, they seemed very slow and awkward.

"What do you think?" Giles asked, the pride in his voice evident.

Buffy paused, considering her words carefully. "If they weren't soulless blood sucking monsters, I'd feel sorry for the vamps."

Giles chuckled slightly. "They may be raw, but they do have talent."

A commotion from the back of the room drew Cass' attention, as a pair of girls stood over a very young blonde, probably recently called. Buffy noticed her daughter's stiffening posture, frowning as she did. She wasn't sure what was wrong, but obviously it had bothered Cass, and with her body reading abilities, she was probably right to be concerned.

Buffy moved silently across the room towards the group of girls, Cass following in her footsteps like a shadow. When she was close enough, she saw the little blonde girl jump to her feet, glaring at the other girls. "Oh yeah?" she growled, shoving one of them. "Wanna say that again?"

"Is there a problem?" Buffy asked mildly.

The girls looked up at her in confusion, never having seen her before. "She pushed me!" one of the girls said. "For no reason!"

"What! You said..." the blonde started.

"What's going on here?" a man asked. Buffy could tell with a glance that he was a Watcher.

"She pushed me!" the girl who had already complained said, pointing at the blonde.

"Stephanie," the Watcher said with a sigh. "Are you causing problems again. Can't you just do as you're asked and not start trouble?"

"But I didn't!" the blonde, Stephanie, started. "I... oh, what's the use."

Buffy watched as she slumped, obviously expecting to be the only one punished for whatever had happened. Looking at Cass, she saw that her daughter was upset by that, turning pleading eyes on Buffy when she looked at her. Buffy cleared her throat, stepping forwards. "What's the what?"

"Oh!" the Watcher said, drawing himself up. "Miss Summers! I didn't see you there! Nothing at all to worry yourself over. Stephanie has been quite the trouble maker since she came here. You can continue your inspection..."

"Thanks," Buffy said with an obviously false smile. It was the kind she often showed vampires who really annoyed her. "I'll take Steph and talk to her for a bit. Why don't you ask the other two why she was being all pushy. 'Cause it didn't look like no reason to me."

The Watcher made a sour face, before turning to look at the other two Slayers, who shuffled their feet under his stern gaze. "Well?"

Buffy smiled at Stephanie. "Come on. Let's take a walk."

Buffy led the two young Slayers outside, Stephanie eyeing her warily as they went. She leaned towards Cass and whispered. "Who is she? I've never seen Mr. Stick-up-his-butt listen to anyone but Giles before. Then he practically tripped over his own ego to do what she said."

Buffy smirked. "She is a Slayer, and can totally here you whispering."

Stephanie gulped and stayed quiet until they found a good spot to talk. Buffy turned and eyed her critically when they did.

Stephanie was around thirteen, freshly called, and she already had a chip on her shoulder. She was blonde and would obviously be a beauty someday, but with a hard expression on her face as she raised her chin defiantly at Buffy. She could see the uncertainty in Stephanie's eyes, though, behind the tough facade.

"Wanna talk about it?" Buffy asked.

"Does it matter," Stephanie asked, crossing her arms and looking away with a huff.

"Sure," Buffy said. "I'm not gonna torture 'til you talk or anything. Just means I'll have to talk more, fill in the silence an' all. You sure you wanna hear me lecture that long?"

"They were talking about my parents, okay?" Stephanie said. "They just wouldn't shut up. So I pushed Janie."

"Now, I'm not going to be a big ol' hypocrite and say something like 'violence doesn't solve anything'. 'Cause really, it totally solves all kinds of problems. We're Slayers after all. But that doesn't mean violence is always a good solution. I mean, maybe she shut up for a minute, but if I hadn't dragged you out here you'd have been in trouble."

Stephanie shuffled her feet awkwardly. "They just make me so mad. How did they find out about my parents, anyway?"

"My experience?" Buffy offered. "Bullies always know the weak points. Slayer instinct probably makes that worse – heads and hearts and all. And seriously, who doesn't have some issues with their parents? They probably just started jabbing and threw a roundhouse when they saw you flinch."

Stephanie pouted. "Why can't they just leave me alone?"

Buffy shrugged. "'Cause life sucks. I'm probably 'sposed to lecture you now or something, but how 'bout we take that as read and grab some ice cream from the kitchen?"

Stephanie and Cass both perked up at that, and swiftly followed her out of the room. The kitchen was large and had numerous oversized refrigerators and freezers. It didn't take long for Buffy to find a cache of ice cream large enough to feed an army of Slayers. While Buffy worked on dishing the ice cream, she listened to Stephanie and her daughter interact.

"I'm Stephanie," the girl said.


"Nice to meet you Cass," she said. "Why haven't I seen you around before?" Cass shrugged in response. "Are you going to be here from now on?"


"Jeez, you're chatty," Stephanie muttered.

"She has trouble speaking," Buffy said gently as she set the three heaping bowls of ice cream down. "She had a... different childhood."

"So she doesn't speak good?" Stephanie asked around a mouthful of ice cream. "You're her mom, right? Why'd you raise her funny?"

"Do I look that old?" Buffy asked desperately patting her hair. "Do I have mom hair? I adopted her, but that doesn't come with a free uncool mom card, does it?"

Stephanie giggled. "You got us ice cream, so you can't be that uncool... for an old woman."

Buffy pouted for a moment, though she broke into a smile as Cass giggled along with Stephanie. She had tried to help Cass make friends in Rome, but she had never seemed very interested, and the language barrier certainly hadn't helped. Seeing her laughing with someone close to her own age gave Buffy a warm feeling inside.

"Brat," Buffy said. "I adopted her last year. Actually, that's why we're in England – I asked the Coven to help her with her language. She should be able to make with the proper speakage now. Before you know it she'll be all babble-girl."

"Proper speakage?" Stephanie asked. "Who's gonna teach her?"

"Why am I not being lecturey again?" Buffy asked dryly.

Before Stephanie could respond, a young Slayer came in. "Miss Summers! Mr. Giles wanted to see you, ma'am!"

"Knock off the ma'aming!" Buffy objected. "I do have mom hair, don't I? Anyway, you girls finish your ice cream and stay out of trouble, got that?"

"Okay," Cass said smiling.

"Sure!" Stephanie agreed.

Buffy paused just outside the door to listen, unable to leave her daughter alone until she was sure that she would be okay. She didn't doubt her ability in a fight... but she wasn't going to be fighting.

"So, your mom seems cool," Stephanie said. "Come on, let's finish this and I'll show you my room."

"Okay," Cass agreed happily.

"Cool. Let's be friends!"

"F-freh..." Cass said.

"Friends," Stephanie said. Before repeating it again, slower.

"F-freh. Friend. Friend-s. Friends!"

"You got it!" Stephanie said cheerfully. "Come on! Let me show you my posters!"

The entire way to Giles' office Buffy had been so happy that she had barely been able to contain the urge to skip. In just a few days after seeing the Coven, her daughter had learned a new, important word, and had made her first friend. She didn't think anything could spoil her mood.

Life, of course, took that as a challenge.

"What's this crazy rumor about her having a daughter?" she heard Xander say through the closed office door.

"Her name is, um, Cassandra," Giles answered. "She seems like a lovely young girl."

"Where'd she come from?" Xander asked.

"She was called in Rome last year," Giles explained slowly. "Apparently, she was a runaway, living on the street. Her father had been... abusive."

Xander was silent for a moment. "So why did she come here? What, did she find a replacement for Dawn and decide she can continue her life now? That we'd all just forget the way she treated us?"

Buffy felt her blood run cold, and heard her blood pounding in her ears. Was that what he really thought? She wondered. That she could just... replace Dawn?

"Xander!" Giles barked. "I had my... concerns when I first found out about Cassandra. But I kept an open mind, and a close eye on them these past days. Even if her relationship had been... been unhealthy, at least she wasn't still lost in her grief. But I assure you, that is not the case. She loves Cassandra as her own daughter, not as a-a replacement."

Buffy threw the door open, glaring at Xander as he turned around guiltily. "Hey Xander!" she said aggressively. "Nice to see you! What's new with you?"

"Buffy..." Xander started.

"I adopted a daughter," she said over him. "Though apparently, some people think I'm just trying to forget my little sister by taking her in. You been up to anything lately?"

"Yeah," Xander said, his face flushing angrily. "Helping the Slayers, doing my part, not waking up on airplanes after getting knocked out when trying to visit people. You know, things that happen when I'm not wasting my time trying to see someone in Rome."

Buffy started to open her mouth to respond, but stopped as Giles jumped to his feet. "Now see here! I will not have this... this sort of antipathy in my office! Buffy may not have handled her grief well, but she is here to try and make things right! If you don't want to be part of this, well, this family again... then you can see yourself out, until you get over your sore pride!"

They stood anxiously for a moment, before finally Xander turned and stormed out. Buffy looked away from Giles as the door slammed closed, trying to keep herself from crying. As angry as she was at Xander for his words, she couldn't say that she didn't deserve his wrath. She had been a terrible friend after Dawn's death.

Buffy was grateful that Giles busied himself with making tea for them, giving her time to get herself back under control. When she did, she sat down and accepted her cup with a small smile. "So, I'm guessing the message was about Xander visiting?"

"Yes," Giles said, cleaning his glasses. "I had hoped that that would have gone better..."

"Not gonna say I don't deserve some yelling," Buffy said. "'Cause hey, I'll admit I do. But talking about Cass like... like I don't really love her..."

"He'll calm down," Giles said soothingly. "He's always been hotheaded, and quick to say things that he doesn't truly mean. When he's had a chance to think things through, I'm sure that he'll feel like quite the heel."

They sat quietly for a while, until Buffy finally broke the silence. "So what's the deal with that Stephanie girl?"

"I suppose you are referring to Stephanie Brown," Giles said with a sigh. "She's been a handful ever since she came. Her mother is an addict, and her father is one of those dreadful masked criminals in Gotham."

Buffy blinked. "Her dad's a supervillain?"

"Yes, although he has been in, um, prison for some time now."

"That explains the chip on her shoulder," Buffy said drily. "What's her situation? Living-wise."

"For the moment, she has been staying here. She was only called a few months ago; we're still trying to sort out a more permanent solution."

Several days later Buffy was heading into the dining room to get some breakfast, when she jumped into a defensive positon at a sudden loud noise. It took her a few moments to calm down as she realized that it hadn't been an attack. It had been a shouted 'Happy Birthday'.

Buffy took in her friends... her family, who had come for her party. Giles and Willow stood next to each other, with a beaming Cass beside them. In the back of the room a sheepish looking Xander was talking to Andrew, and nearby Faith lounged, the very picture of boredom.

"Wow!" Buffy said. "I... this is great! Thank you."

Xander approached her, smiling awkwardly as he handed her a poorly wrapped present. "Want a present from someone whose foot lives in their mouth?"

"No... but I'd like a present from a friend who still cares even with all the pushing away," Buffy said, smiling at him.

They grinned, and a second cheer went up as he gave her her present. "Happy Birthday, Buff. Get some cake: breakfast of champions."

Willow led Cass over next. The girl had a very determined look on her face, and Willow smiled at her encouragingly. "H-happy... Happy... birthday. Happy birthday!"

Buffy smiled radiantly, hugging her daughter.

"Great, now I have to follow that up!" Willow complained with a grin.

The party went on for most of the morning, and Buffy was very glad to reconnect with her old friends. Eventually all of the presents were opened, and the food eaten, and everyone had had a chance to get to know Cass, who had managed to charm them all despite her limited ability to speak. The group were all talking comfortably when one of the Slayers came in carrying a small package.

"For you, Miss Summers," she said.

Opening it, Buffy frowned, discovering that it was a videotape with the words 'Happy birthday' written on it. "What's this?"

"No return address," Willow said. "I bet we can find a VCR somewhere."

It took a few minutes, but soon they were all gathered in front of the VCR as Willow stuck the tape in. The video wasn't the best quality, having obviously been filmed through a keyhole. It showed a little asian girl of around eight dressed up in a pretty dress with her hair done up in pigtails. It took Buffy only a second to recognize the girl as Cassandra. "Cass?"

Looking at her daughter, Buffy suddenly felt very wary as she saw the girl breathing heavily, her eyes rolling around in panic. Looking back at the screen, she saw the younger Cass smiling sweetly at the camera, before walking up to a man sitting behind a large desk. From the look of the other men in the room, Buffy suspected that the man was involved in organized crime in some fashion.

Everyone jumped in shock as the eight year old girl suddenly lunged forward, ripping the man's throat out. The young Cass' innocent smile faded away as her eyes filled with horror as she stared at her blood soaked hands. A moment later the tape cut off, leaving only static.

The room sat in stunned silence, which was only broken as Cass threw up all of the cake that she had happily eaten a few hours before. Buffy automatically reached over to sooth her, her own heart in a vice as her daughter flinched from the contact. "It's okay," Buffy said very gently as she wrapped an arm around the miserable girl.

Cass shook her head, pulling away from Buffy. "No! Bad." She paused, looking down at her hands, as though expecting them to still be covered in blood. "Bad..."

No one knew what to do or say. A moment later Faith approached, placing her hand on Cass' shoulder, ignoring her flinch. "That sucks. What, you were eight?"

"Bad," Cass choked out.

"Nah," Faith said. "I know killers, squirt. I am one. You aren't, even if you did it once."

Cass just shook her head, unwilling to listen.

"Cass," Buffy said gently. "No one blames you... you were just a kid."

"Bad," Cass disagreed, shaking her head. She had begun to tremble slightly.

"Snap out of it," Faith said sharply. "What, you planned to kill him? You enjoy it? You like rippin' out his throat?"

"No!" Cass screamed, knocking Faith's arm away.

"Faith!" Buffy growled, outraged. "Don't you dare talk to her like that!"

Faith locked eyes with Cass. "I'll tell you about bad. Bad is killing someone just 'cause you can't face what you did. I murdered two people, one by accident. One not. That's bad. Despite that B here still wants me at her party, so don't go pushing her away just 'cause you can't face what happened. You got that?"

Cass bit her lip, looking between Faith's hard but understanding gaze, and Buffy's pleading eyes, before timidly coming over to Buffy, who immediately swept her into her arms. "Thank you," Buffy said quietly.

"Don't worry 'bout it, B. Just doin' my part."

The party atmosphere had transformed into something somber, the entire group putting everything aside to reassure Cass that they cared. The girl sat quietly in a daze, obviously overwhelmed by all of the attention. Buffy suspected that she had thought the truth coming out would lead to a very different outcome, although it was hard to imagine anyone holding what had happened against the girl.

After a while Buffy pulled Willow to the side, before speaking to her quietly. "Find him."

"Who?" Willow asked.

"Cain," Buffy said, her voice as hard as steel. "No way anyone else had a tape like that. I think it's time we had a... parent to parent chat. Face to soon to be busted in face."

It took Willow two days, with the help of both hacking and magic, to track him down. Buffy then flew out to the third world country that he had holed himself up in. He lived in a small but well appointed home in the middle of a jungle, with a security system to keep out all but the very best.

Buffy had learned to be the best during her private war with the demon crime families, and she knew all of the tricks for evading high tech security. She slipped through the gaps in motions sensors, redirected lasers, cut wires, and picked locks to make her way into the building. She then used every bit of her stealth to silently creep from room to room, looking for her quarry.

She found him quickly, passed out naked in his bed holding an empty bottle of cheap vodka. Buffy sneered in disgust, before leaving and giving the rest of the building the once over. In one room she found an armory as large as the Watcher's Council's, except that all of it was knives and firearms. Something in a half open cabinet caught her eye.

Stacked haphazardly were reels and reels of film. She had seen a projection setup in another room, and so she grabbed several and made her way silently to it. She hadn't been in the AV club at Sunnydale, but it didn't take her long to figure out how to get the film to play. She sat down and began to watch as Cassandra appeared on the screen.

She couldn't have been older than six, and she was cheerfully playing with a dagger the way that other children would have played with doll. Cain stood behind her on the others side of the room where she couldn't see him, as he casually drew two handguns. Buffy couldn't contain a gasp as, without any warning, he shot her in the back.

Cassandra didn't hesitate, didn't flinch or cry or show any reaction to the pain of a bullet wound straight through her shoulder. She simply dropped the knife and launched herself into an imposible tumbling backflip from her cross legged position on the ground, weaving her body through a dozen rapidly fired bullets to greet her father with a powerful flying kick to his face. Buffy's heart clenched as she realized that Cassandra was smiling, like being shot was some kind of game.

"Perfection," Cain said from right behind her.

Buffy froze for a moment, before jumping to her feet and spinning around. Cain stood, his arms crossed proudly, as he looked at the stack of films. Fortunately he had put on pants, although he was still shirtless. "What, this your idea of home videos?"

"Well, yeah," Cain said casually as he strolled across the room to a bar he had setup there. Grabbing a glass, he poured himself a shot of vodka. "My best memories. You should see the one where I brought in a dozen assassins to try and kill her. She had fun."


"Why what?" Cain asked, drinking his alcohol and pouring another.

Buffy paused, not sure herself what she was asking. "Why'd you shoot her in the back?"

"Kept her on her toes," Cain said with a proud grin.

"When I saw how well she could fight... I thought, for all you hurt her, you must have been an incredible trainer. I mean, she's the best I've ever seen... heard of... imagined. But that... that's just sick. You just abused your daughter, and she still learned somehow."

"Is that all you saw?" he asked with a snort. "I don't deserve all the credit though. I tried with other children, but it didn't take. She was... my only success. She seemed to just know what to do. What I wanted from her. Not surprising really."

"Why?" Buffy asked.

"Huh? No reason. This little film festival... that why you came here? Are you done now?"

"No," Buffy said, getting herself back under control. "I came here 'cause of the video you sent."

"Her first kill," Cain said with the strangest mixture of pride and grief Buffy had ever heard. "I thought she was ready... her training was perfect. Too young. Too soon. The look on her face... she just fell apart..."

"Of course she did," Buffy seethed. "You made her a murderer. She had no idea what would happen – she just wanted to make daddy proud. You did that to her, and she's gonna have to live with it."

"She left me because of it," Cain growled. "So don't tell me about living with the consequences. It cost me my daughter."

"You didn't deserve her," Buffy sneered. "You wanted her to be a killer."

"You made her a Slayer," Cain countered. "Not that different."

"There's every difference! Slayers aren't about killing. We don't kill people. We don't even kill every demon. Being a Slayer... it's about protecting people. Making the world a better... a safer place. You took a little girl – a potential Slayer – and tried to make her an assassin. You put blood on her hands!"

"Look, this little chat goin' somewhere?" Cain asked. "If not, I've got some drinkin' to do."

"Alright," Buffy said coldly. "Guess I'm done with the talking thing. Not my best point, anyway. You lost your daughter... but you gained something else."


"An enemy," Buffy growled, stalking forward. Cain drew a handgun from under the bar, pointing it at her so swiftly that a normal human would have been hard pressed to react in time.

Buffy was a Slayer. She kicked his gun from his hand before he had a chance to fire a shot, then shifted her leg into stomping kick to his chest that sent him flying into the wall hard enough to crack the plaster. She then slowly stalked towards him, her every movement predatory.

"Slayers don't kill people," Cain said as he pulled himself to his feet. "You don't kill people. Everyone with an ear to the ground knows about Buffy Summers. No matter how pissed you are, you won't kill me."

"No," Buffy agreed. "I won't kill you. But I can make you really, really wish I had."

Buffy slipped into the training room, a smile growing on her face as she saw Cass playing with Stephanie. Cass obviously considered it play, as she was using excessively flashy gymnastics mixed with moves from kung fu movies that really shouldn't have worked in real life, but, given the skill disparity, she was able to make them work. Stephanie, while not actually injured by the supposed spar, looked a bit frustrated. Buffy suspected that she would need to make sure that her daughter learned a few games besides sparring at some point.

The play stopped when Cass noticed Buffy, her awareness as finely honed as ever. Buffy felt a sudden surge of sadness as she remembered how she had been trained to be so aware of her surroundings. She managed to keep the smile on her face anyway, although she was sure that her daughter could see through it with her ability to read body language so acutely.

Cass walked up to Buffy, her own face concerned as she took in Buffy's bruises. She hadn't even slept since visiting Cain, wanting nothing more than to see her daughter again. Her injuries were mostly superficial, although the old assassin had obviously been preparing for her, many of his moves being aimed at the subtle weaknesses in her style that he had noticed during their previous brief fight. If she hadn't spent the past year sparring with Cass, she might have actually had trouble beating him, but as it was he only got a few well placed hits in.

"I'm fine, honey," Buffy said with a smile. "Just wanted to do the seeing thing. You get along okay while I was gone?"

Cass nodded. "Steph friend."

Stephanie smiled at Buffy, her expression containing just a hint of hero worship that hadn't been their before. Buffy suspected that someone had finally explained who she was to the headstrong thirteen year old. "You doing okay?"

"Uh huh," Stephanie agreed. "Cass is cool."

"Good," Buffy said. "I still need to check in with Giles. I'll see you kids later."

She gave her daughter a quick but fierce hug, before leaving the room. Just as she was starting down the hall she heard Cass sweep Stephanie's legs, sending her to the floor. "Tag! You it."

"Why are we friends again?" Stephanie moaned, but she still climbed to her feet and began to chase Cass.

Buffy found Giles filling out paperwork in his office. He looked up, his expression concerned. "What happened?"

Buffy shrugged nonchalantly. "Even if they're human, don't give a master assassin a year to do prepage, then poke him in his own lair."

"I should say not," Giles agreed blandly.

"Have you given any thought to a good place for me to do the Slay thing?" Buffy asked after a moment. "Somewhere I won't be tripping over Slayers and Watchers, or too many guys in capes, but has enough problems for me and Cass to have fun?"

Giles leaned back in his seat. "Actually, yes. We recently lost both of our full time Slayers in New York City. The Bludhaven and Metropolis Slayers were able to deal with the demons responsible, but I was planning to assign a full team. If you would be interested..."

"Interested?" Buffy asked with a grin. "I always wanted to go to the Big Apple. Broadway. Fifth Avenue. Macy's. What more could a girl ask for?"

"Yes, well," Giles said, clearing his throat. "We have a research Watcher situated at Columbia University, so if you need aid you can speak to him at any time. He also isn't much for field work, so no need to worry about him interfering with your efforts."

Buffy considered for a moment. "Alright. I'll take any excuse not to crack the books."

Giles chuckled slightly. "The Council owns some property in the area as well, so we should be able to arrange an appropriate apartment for you and Cass."

Buffy wandered over to the window with a small smile on her face. "Actually, there might be somethin' else. You mentioned Stephanie would need somewhere to live?"

"Yes," Giles said slowly. "We cannot return her to her family with the state that they are in, but we are short of qualified Watchers."

"Her and Cass get along great," Buffy said as she watched the two girls run around the gardens outside, apparently still playing tag. Cass did a somersault onto the garden wall, before flipping onto the roof of the gym. Stephanie tried to follow, although she slipped on some snow when she tried to jump, landing in a bush. Cass laughed hysterically as her friend grumbled, brushing snow off of her clothing. "'Sides, how much worse could two Slayers be to take care of than one?"

Giles was quiet for a moment. "Hmm. We seem to have missed an opportunity for nature to thunder ominously or some such."

"Probably," Buffy agreed. "I know I'm gonna be calling you and complaining about how out of my mind I was to even think about doing this, but... I think it'll be fun. I'm actually looking forward to this. For the first time in like, ever, I'm really looking forward to the future."

Elsewhere, in a shadowed temple devoted to dark forces, rows of cultists chanted endless hymns to demonic powers. No one present was human. Instead, a dozen species of demons were scattered amongst a crowd of vampires. After a moment the leader stepped forward, and a hush spread over the room.

The leader pushed back his hood, revealing an ancient vampire with glowing red eyes. "My brothers, the time of the prophecies will soon be upon us! We shall revive our patron, and spread his darkness upon all the world! With his blessings, we shall rule all! Nothing can stop us!"

"All hail Skaath!" the crowd chanted. "All hail Skaath!"

"Yes!" the leader cried. "All praises be to our Lord, Skath! We shall revive you, our Lord Ddrez! All shall tremble at thy awful names! Yes! Praise be to Trigon the Ravager!"

"All hail Skaath! All hail Skaath!"

"On the Winter Solstice, the longest of all nights, we shall shed the blood of this city to bring about thy resurrection! Yes! Trigon the Terrible shall arise from the spilled blood of New York City!"

"All hail Skaath! All hail Skaath!"

In a small third world hospital room, David Cain slowly returned to consciousness. He immediately regretted it. Opening his eyes, he slowly took in his condition. Full body cast, and an IV in each arm. From what he could feel of his body past the morphine, he was pretty certain that he needed every bandage.

"Heh," he said, his voice hoarse. "Maybe she's got what it takes to raise my little girl after all. Anyway... I need a drink. Hey, nurse! You hear me? Vodka rocks. No chaser. Nurse?"

Author's Notes

This is a sequel to Silent Slayer, taking place a year later. Please read that if you wish to know more.

In the comics Cassandra learned English when a telepath rewrote her mind. This cost her her body reading, and she had to go to a great deal of trouble to get that back. I would expect a more skilled and experienced group like the Coven to find a safer way to do it (the telepath had only just gained his ability when he did it).

I stole some dialog from Buffy's confrontation with Cain from Cain's own answers during a couple of different inquisitions Batman put Cain to early in Batgirl. Some of it was of my own devising, of course, since Batman and Buffy are extremely different people, and therefore didn't ask him the same things. His 'Vodka rocks, no chaser' is also a quote from when he woke up in a similar situation after Batman beat him for a while. That issue was one of the funniest things ever.

Not much happened action-wise this installment, but I felt a need for some transition material before we get more action. Unlike the Marvel Universe, not too many things are situated in New York City in the DC Universe, although I have my reasons for putting things there.

Trigon is an actual (deceased) demon lord in the DCU. It's a pretty common thing for his followers to try and resurrect him. It seemed like a natural plot to get things going in a Buffy/DC cross.

Stephanie Brown is a real DC character – she goes by the name the Spoiler, before serving a brief stint as Robin and then finally as Batgirl. She's a character that really needs a mentor that cares – Oracle, Batman and Black Canary all helped her some, but they all dropped the ball and left her hanging. She is also Cassandra's best friend.

Anyway, I hope you guys liked this second part, and I have a number of additional ones planned for the future. Hopefully the not too distant future, at that. I wrote this since there was such interest in a sequel to the original, so let me know how you think this is going!