Author: M. Jade
Summary: Fanfiction meets Sir Joss's timeline when “Unexpected” character Michaela meets up with the current timeline
If you have comments or suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Spoilers: Post “The Body” for BtVS and post “Class of” for “Unexpected”
Feedback: As long as it's not hateful, tell me what ya think
Disclaimers: Mike be mine, all else belongs to Joss and company
Distribution: If you have “Unexpected” you can have this
Notes: This was just something I was playing around with, then turned into a full-fledged fic
Thanks: To DC and Sam, as always, for listening to my idea and giving me encouragement and feedback
“Anya, I am sure that you do have seemingly more important things in mind besides research, but I must point out that if we are to stand any chance against Glory and protect Dawn, we must find her weak spot.” Rupert Giles was getting testy with his lone employee as they scoured the books laid out before them for information on Sunnydale's latest menace. He was sitting around the research table he had set up in the Magic Box with all the Scoobies except Buffy and Dawn Summers, who had left earlier to get food for the gang.
“So says the one who has no life of his own,” Anya Emerson grumbled beneath her breath. Xander sighed from his seat beside her.
“Ahn, could we please get some work done? It's getting late and I don't feel like playing referee here,” Xander Harris interjected.
“But Giles is getting in the way of us getting orgasms,” the ex demon whined. Giles gave Xander a pointed look.
“That is so beyond the point right now,” Xander sighed. “This is Scooby work. Scooby work comes before… that other stuff,” he added quickly, knowing Giles didn't want to hear about their love life in any detail.
“Thank you, Xander,” Giles said with a tired sigh. He had the feeling this was going to be a very long night. “I must stress that this work is very important, Anya.”
“I still don't see how we go one on one with a hell god,” Anya said practically. “If all the books don't say we can survive, why are we still looking?”
“Because the books only say that no one has survived yet,” Willow Rosenberg pointed out. “Big difference. We have a chance to survive. That would be preferable.”
“We, we, could see something about Glory that is totally new and we can use that to stop her,” Tara Maclay pointed out from her seat next to Willow. “So far nothing has said that Glory should be immortal,” she added. “There hasn't been anything, has there,” she added with a slight panic, looking at Giles and Willow.
“No, so far Glory is old and powerful, but not immortal. She has to have some sort of a weakness somewhere that we can exploit,” Giles said with an air of hope. Just then, Buffy and Dawn came through the shop's main door, both carry sacks of food and drinks.
“Delivery,” Dawn said cheerily, making room on the table for the food.
“We bring you vast amounts of fatty goodness,” Buffy added. She placed her sack down and began to dig through it for her food. Soon she had a hamburger, French fries and a chocolate milkshake from Dawn.
“This can't be good for any of us,” Giles mused as the others got their own burgers from the sacks.
“Which is why the American fast food industry is doing so well,” Buffy added cheerily. “It would make their ads seem so … tacky to say that it's good for us.”
“Not to mention the concerns of the beef industry,” Dawn said with a partially full mouth. “All those cows would just go to waste.”
“Don't they have junk food in England,” Willow teased the Watcher.
“Of course we do, we just haven't made it a bloody institution,” Giles replied dryly.
“Yea, it just wouldn't be America without hot dogs and hamburgers,” Xander added reverently. “It's part of our heritage.”
“Not to mention our thighs,” Dawn added. As the conversation went on, they all noticed a distinct chill in the room. The air was getting colder, and Giles could swear it was darker than it was before Buffy and Dawn came in. He stopped eating when he began to hear some type of a crackling going about the room. “Weirdness,” Dawn whispered. Buffy instinctively stood closer to her sister.
“What's going on, Giles,” the Slayer said in a low voice.
“I have no idea,” the Watcher answered in a similar tone. The crackling became louder when a small point of light poked through the wall by the bookcase. The point grew until it was a great circle, the Scoobies having to shield their eyes from the light. A strange wind began to howl as the opening grew.
“Something is definitely happening!” Willow shouted over the growing din. When it seemed the hole go get no larger, a person tumbled through the hole, hitting the ground at a summersault and ending on the floor by the cash register. They could tell the person was a woman, her long red hair in a casual ponytail, and she was wearing a casual pair of black jeans and a dark tee shirt. She whipped her head around to the hole she had come through just in time to see a very large demon tumble out after her. The demon was bipedal, with large muscles and a yellowish skin. It had no hair and nothing really in the way of clothing. It's eyes were a bright, shiny gray, and it lost it's footing as it hit the ground. It skidded to a halt just before where the girl was. The woman backpedaled towards the display case under the cash register as the demon shook off the fog of its entrance. Giles could see that the demon would go after her as soon as it was oriented, and with little thought he grabbed a decorated knife from the shelf behind him and tossed it in her direction.
A few seconds later, she had caught the knife as the demon lunged in her direction. In a few seconds, it had her pinned to the ground, struggling to find a way to us her weapon. She soon had the knife firmly in her free hand, and she took a firm hold of the handle and plunged the blade through the creature's back. With a final groan, the demon gave up it's attack and went limp, and the woman gave a small groan. Giles and Xander rushed over to help push the demon's carcass off the woman. After she was free, Giles offered her his hand and helped her up. Her shirt was now covered in goo and blood for both her and the demon.
“That is not something I would like to repeat,” she commented dryly as she began to dust herself off. She looked up to Giles to thank him when her face went totally pale. She took a step back, and then her alarm grew as she looked around the room. “Oh, my God,” she whispered.
“Are you okay,” Giles asked her.
No, I'm … I'm not… fa… father,” she said with a whisper.
“Did … di… er… did you say father,” Giles stuttered. The young woman's eyes grew wide, her face still pale, but she did manage a nod. “I thought you said father.”
“I think so,” the woman said with an uneasy voice. “But my knees feel dizzy,” she commented. Giles took a moment to find his chair to sit down as Xander helped the woman over to his own. “Thanks, Xander,” she managed politely with an absent air. The young man gave her a strange look.
“You know who I am?” he asked, and the woman nodded, catching her breath, still giving a confused look around the room.
“Yes, I do. I… my, God you're young,” she said wryly. She looked around the room into the confused faces of those around her. “Can I do something really dumb and ask what today's date is?”
“May 22, 2001,” Buffy answered softly, eyeing the woman curiously, then glancing back to Giles, trying vainly to get an answer.
“I don't know what this is about,” Giles commented to his Slayer. “I am as confused as you are.” The woman gave a smirk.
“There's good reason for that. My name is Michaela Giles, and I was born on June 30, 2001, so technically I don't exist.”
“But your mother…” Giles began, and Michaela nodded.
“I realize that. I…” she trailed off as the others stared at her, but it was Giles glare she met. “Oh, my God,” she said and closed her eyes, as if something major had just come to her.
“Who is your mother,” he asked pointedly, ignoring Michaela's reaction. Michaela looked around the table and sighed.
“My mother… is Willow,” she finished, not looking at anyone around the table. There was a moment of silence as the others took in what she had told them, all having a hard time believing it, especially Willow. Willow herself was in shock.
“But … I … that never… that's just not possible! I would have to be pregnant…” Willow stuttered, and Giles also gasped at the revelation.
“I… we… we… I have never touched…” Michaela cut him off.
“I think we all passed Biology 101, so we get the picture. I don't know what the hell happened, okay? I am as … lost as you are right now.”
“But… this isn't right,” Buffy managed. “I mean… this is all wrong.” Michaela shrugged her shoulders and began to rub her temples.
“I know that…”
“Weirdness,” Dawn muttered, “Does this mean…” Michaela cut her off before she finished the thought, looking intently at Dawn.
“I don't know you,” she said suddenly, still looking intently at the young girl. It suddenly began to click with the others.
“I'm Buffy's sister, Dawn,” she answered in a confused voice.
“The Buffy I know doesn't have a sister,” Michaela replied simply, looking at Giles. “Which means she isn't exactly the Buffy I know.” They both turned to face the Slayer, the same look of recognition in their eyes.
“You came through a portal…” Giles began.
“I must have crossed over into … some sort of alternate version of Sunnydale,” Michaela finished for him. “Different from the one I know at any rate,” she corrected herself. “Including the year.” She began to rub her temples again. “Oh, yeah. This is turning out to be a great day, Mike.”
“Who's Mike,” Willow asked. Michaela smiled.
“I'm Mike. It's my nickname. Has been since I was little,” she said with a smile. Giles gave a small scoff.
“What kind of name is that for a little girl,” he muttered, and Mike gave a short laugh. Giles glared at her. “What is so bloody amusing?”
“You hate my nickname, always have. You've always insisted on calling me by my full name, never Mike.” She gave Giles a small, weak grin.
“Well, I am so very please that you are able to find some amusement in our current situation…” Mike gave a sigh.
“You have to admit, it is kinda funny,” she told him.
“The comedic value of the situation is well beyond the point here…” Giles began, glaring at her as Mike sighed.
“And I am well are of the various implications that I have on your world, most of which are not pleasant. I do get the point,” Mike finished. The rest of the group gave them a dumbfounded look.
“And I thought Kendra was a She-Giles,” Buffy commented under her breath.
“I think she's cool,” Dawn muttered.
“I think the Big Guy may have met his match,” Xander added. Willow didn't pay attention to either of them; instead, she kept her eyes intently on Giles and Michaela.
“I get that things are different,” Michaela continued. “And as disconcerting as that may be, it happened, and we have to deal with that.” Willow looked to the young woman.
“So I'm … I'm …” Willow began. Mike looked over to the Wiccan and smiled.
“You are my mother. More precisely, the Willow of my world is my mother.” Willow then decided to ask the big question.
“So does that mean that Giles and I…” she didn't know how to finish.
“Are married?” Mike guessed, and Willow nodded. “Yes. You were married a few months before I was born.” Giles gave her a curious look after the revelation.
“A few months? Does that mean…” he started, and Mike raised an eyebrow.
“That one could say I attended my parent's wedding? Yes. It doesn't take much to do the math. Does it mean that that was the reason you got married… yes and no.”
“What do you mean by that,” Giles asked.
“It means that I was the reason you got married when you did, but not that I was the sole reason for the marriage in the first place. At least, I think so.”
“You think so?” Willow questioned. Mike shrugged her shoulders.
“Well, that's not exactly the type of question a child asks of her parents. I can see it now. ‘Hey Dad, did you and Mom get married because you knocked her up?' the response would go something to the effect of this…” with that Mike dropped her tone and spoke in an accent almost perfectly imitating Giles. “First, Michaela, you must never speak of your mother in that manner, second, the issue it vastly more complex than what you would make it seem.' Then there would probably be some yelling, and maybe a few words you tried not to teach me as a child.”
“I see your point,” Giles commented dryly.
“I thought you would,” Mike returned, giving Giles a small grin. “I guess that that's beyond the point now anyway. After so long, one tends to stop asking why and just going along with it. My parent's have been married for as long as I could remember. That's all I needed to know.”
“But Wills and Giles… that's… well, creepy is the only thing coming to mind right now, but I'm sure I think of something better at some point,” Xander quipped.
“One could say it's only sex, but then it's creepy sex, which is totally different. Not illegal, but different.” Anya added in a casual tone. Mike gave the ex-demon a hard look.
“Yes, Anya, there were multiple orgasms going around between people who weren't you and Xander. Get over it,” Mike returned with Anya's casual tone. She gave Mike a glare, but chose not to reply to her quip. For once, Anya was speechless. Xander just gave a pointed look to both women.
“How did you do that and could you teach me how?” Xander asked Mike. Anya gave him a glare.
“Xander…” Anya warned. “Don't you dare.”
“Maybe later,” Mike told Xander with a smile. “But I'm really beginning to get the point that you two are by no means together,” she added, looking to Giles, who nodded. then to Willow who blushed.
“I think you should meet Tara… my … she's my… my girlfriend actually. She's also a witch,” Willow responded, taking the hand of the shy, quiet blond next to her who had yet to speak.
“Hi,” Tara managed with a small wave. Mike's jaw dropped, but she quickly closed it, then swallowed hard.
“So my mother is a lesbian witch. I think my life is now officially complete.”
“Welcome to our world,” Xander quipped. Mike gave him a pointed look.
“Sure, Xander, and the next thing you'll tell me, my father was never a Watcher, he's just a mild mannered librarian you just happen to be friends with.” Mike commented dryly. Giles gave her a mild look.
“I am a Watcher, but I haven't been a librarian for some time. As a matter of fact, I own this store,” he added, giving a nod to the surrounding of the Magic Box.
“Why aren't you a librarian,” Mike asked.
“They blew up the high school after Graduation,” Dawn quipped. “And the Mayor almost ate everyone. Luckily for us, he's very well done now,” the teen added casually.
“It's nice to see some things never change,” Mike said with a smile, looking at Dawn. “I always did like the Mayor story,” she added, still grinning. “Or maybe I just always wished the high school would have stayed in little bits.”
“Another proud graduate of Hellmouth High?” Xander quipped, the others trying to suppress their smiles.
“Class of 2019,” Mike confirmed. “We boasted the school's second highest survival rate, right behind your class. We were pretty proud of ourselves.”
“Having a Slayer and Slayerettes helped,” Anya admitted, and Mike nodded.
“Yeah, I think it did. Of course, we had the advantage of having the first of the second gen, so that helped,” Mike admitted.
“Second generation?” Giles asked, with a raised eyebrow.
“Yes. What did you expect? We'd grow up on the Hellmouth and sit back as our class was picked off one by one?” Mike said.
“That would be kinda, kinda difficult,” Tara conceded, and Mike nodded.
“That's what I was thinking.” Mike admitted with a wry smile. “Besides, I've always had this sinking feeling that the Council's been watching me. I am a Giles, and it's like I'm expecting them to show up on my doorstep some day, ready to take me to England, so it's advantageous for me to be able to handle myself around demons and stuff, so I learned how to patrol.”
“And you can see yourself as a Watcher some day?” Giles asked, the look in his eye betraying his reaction as Mike nodded.
“It seems like a natural progression to me. Slayerette to future Watcher. And I do have some magical aptitude, which helps. But the future remains to be seen, right?” she added wryly.
“I suppose,” Giles conceded, letting the awkward moment pass. “You were on patrol then? Is that how you met that demon?” Giles asked, nodding towards the carcass of the demon that had come through the portal with Michaela.
“Yes, that's how I got aquatinted with tall, dark, and ugly. He was roaming around Restfield, it looked like he may have been looking for bones or something,” Mike explained. Giles began to rise from his seat and walk towards the extensive shelves of research books.
“That may give us somewhere to start,” Giles said absently as he browsed the shelves, his hands wondering the various volumes.
“You may want to try Katian,” Mike commented as she joined him, perusing the tomes for herself. Giles stopped for a moment and looked over to her.
“You're familiar with Katian?” he asked quietly, eliciting a glance from Mike, who nodded.
“Since I was sixteen. It proved itself quite valuable for us a few times. It's also the first book I learned to research with. Once you learn his index system, it's a snap, ” she added with a smile, returning to her search. Giles continued to look in her direction, slightly stunned by her seeming familiarity with the material. If anything, it only helped to prove her character. After a few moments, he went back to his task, feeling more comfortable with the young woman beside him.
“So you think this demon is the reason you're here,” Buffy asked, and both Giles and Mike looked to the Slayer.
“I'm thinking yes,” Mike answered, glancing back at Buffy.
“I'm thinking research,” Xander added with a sigh as he watched Giles and Mike pick a number of books from the shelves. “Yet another night with the books,” he added under his breath.
“Xander, don't start,” Giles warned him as he came back to the table with the volumes he had chose, followed by Mike how also contributed to the growing pile of books.
“Well, it's not as if we don't have enough to worry about with Glory,” Willow commented, giving Giles a pointed look.
“We have no choice, Willow. Glory may be a pressing concern, but so is what happened tonight.” Mike shook her head in confusion.
“Okay, will someone please tell me who or what is Glory?” Everyone looked over to Buffy. The Slayer sighed.
“She is a raging hell god who is in Sunnydale looking for a Key that unlocks… something. We're not sure what. She thinks I have her Key, and so she's trying to get us to tell her where it is.” Mike nodded.
“And you won't hand over the Key.” Mike guessed.
“We can't hand over the Key,” Buffy corrected her, giving Mike a hard look.
“Can I ask why?” Buffy and the others looked around at each other for a few moments, knowing the truth, but reluctant to tell the stranger. Giles nodded.
“Because Dawn is the Key. Glory wants Dawn, and we're not sure what she'll do to her.” Mike took a few moments to get a hold of the situation.
“So your sister is some sort of mystical Key and some Hell bitch wants whatever's behind curtain A.” Mike answered, and the others nodded, except Dawn.
“I'm not her sister,” Dawn whispered. “Not really. I'm a glowing blob of energy that looks like Buffy's sister,” Dawn added, but the teen got a look from Buffy.
“I'm telling her the truth.” Dawn pointed out. “I know we think of each others as sisters, but there's more to it than that. If I were simply your sister, then Glory wouldn't be after me.” The Slayer reached out and took Dawn's hand.
“Sweetie…” Buffy began.
“It's okay. I've got you, right?” Dawn asked, looking into Buffy's eyes.
“Always,” Buffy assured her.
“I don't get it,” Mike said in confusion. “Blob of energy that looks like a sister, I don't understand.”
“The Key is a sort of pure energy. There was an order of monks that spent generations as guardians of the Key, until Glory threatened to take the Key from them. They gave the Key to Buffy to keep it safe, knowing the best way to do so was to create something Buffy would have to protect,” Giles explained.
“A sister,” Mike said softly, understanding.
“Yes. They placed the Key in human form and molded our own memories around that person. Around Dawn.” Giles finished, taking off his glasses. For a few moments, the room was quiet, allowing everyone to take in the gravity of the situation.
“So Dawn becomes the sister you always thought Buffy had, but really didn't, and now, on top of that you have me. And the Hellmouth keeps getting stranger and stranger.” Mike sighed.
“Well, we sort of deal in strange, right?” Willow replied. “Strange is, like item one in the Scooby Code.” Tara smiled at her.
“That's right. Scoobies and strange are… mix-y. They totally go together.”
“Indeed. We do seem to attract our share of decisively odd occurrences.” Giles commented dryly.
“You know, I'm thinking maybe its karma. Maybe we do so much good and try to keep our lives normal, so we draw even more evil and weirdness to ourselves,” Xander announced.
“Except that by definition, our lives will never be normal. It's more like the harder we try to lead some sort of a normal life, the stranger things around us get. Of course, in that case, we could just stop trying and the strange becomes normal. I think,” Mike added. “It's a working theory.”
“You must have been a very odd child.” Anya quipped. Mike raised her brow.
“No odder then your own.” Anya was taken aback.
“I have children?” Mike nodded and gave a short laugh.
“Three. You and Xander have twins, a boy and a girl, and younger daughter. I was only the oldest of the group,” Mike confirmed.
“I'm someone's … father?” Xander said with shock.
“Yes, your son and oldest daughter are four years younger than me and your other daughter is six years younger than me. They were also raised in Sunnydale,” Mike explained.
“How old are you?” Giles asked, looking to Mike.
“I'm 23, nearly 24,” Mike admitted.
“So that makes you older than me,” Willow commented with confusion, and Mike gave a nod.
“I guess interdimensional travel is trip-y that way or something. Voila, you're older than your parent, have a nice day,” she added dryly.
“Aren't time and space closely related, though? Like, cross one, cross another?” Tara asked.
“In theory, yes, but no one's really tested it. I mean sure, people have crossed into other dimensions and come back, it happens, but no one's really tested the equation as far as time goes. All texts seem to indicate that, as far as anyone knows, you can cross dimensions, perhaps time, but not both simultaneously.” Mike explained.
“Until now,” Giles added softly.
“Until now.” Mike repeated in the same tone. “I hereby present exhibit A.” Mike indicated herself as she sat back in her chair.
“Obviously, something happened, and it would be wise of us to try to determine the cause. I think the sooner this is dealt with, the easier it would be on all concerned.”
“I'm still thinking about being someone's father,” Xander muttered. Giles gave Xander a pointed look. “I have a right to be surprised too, G-Man.”
“Point taken, Xander, now can we get back to the task at hand?” The others nodded, then Giles looked back to the book he had in front of him, remaining on his task. The others began to sift through the assortment of books themselves, and the room was in silence for some time. As time passed, Giles began to look up and steal glances at the young woman who claimed to be his daughter as she continued her own research. It was remarkable to him how well she seemed to fit in. Already, she had proven adapt at fitting into their group, at being part of the group. He didn't want to admit it, but there was a quality about her, something that reminded him very much of himself. At the same time, she reminded him so much of Willow as well. It was uncanny, and it only made her claim all the stronger.
Mike seemed to understand him almost as well as he understood himself, and yet she was an utter mystery. They didn't know what to expect from her, but she seemed to know what they wanted. He had glanced up to her when he noticed her pulling her hair of the simple ponytail it had been in. As she ran her fingers through her hair, he noticed a glint of gold on her left hand, which soon proved itself to be a ring with a small diamond in it. “What is that?” Giles asked, breaking the silence, but unable to help himself.
“What is what,” Mike replied as she looked up to him.
“That ring. What is that ring?” Mike looked down the small band, which was partially hidden by the sleeve of her shirt.
“Oh, this.” Mike gave a nervous laugh. “It's sorta, kinda … you could call it… well, it's an engagement ring, actually.” The others stared at her. “Surprise.”
“You're engaged,” Giles said with shock. “How did that happen?”
“He asked and I said yes,” Mike answered wryly.
“Who asked,” Giles pressed. Mike sighed before she replied.
"Neil," she answered, trying to avoid the question.
"And who is Neil," Giles insisted in a firm voice.
“That's impossible,” Buffy whispered. Mike looked over to the stunned Slayer, but it was hard for her to maintain eye contact with Buffy for more than a few moments. The look the Slayer was giving her could only be described as shock, fear, dread, mixed with something Buffy hadn't felt in a long time: hope.
“You don't know that,” Mike pointed out after a long pause.
“You slay and you die, that's … that is the way it works,” Buffy said in a tight voice.
“Not necessarily. Maybe there's something no one knows about, a loop hole that hasn't been used yet,” Mike pointed out. “It is possible.”
“Are you saying I'm still alive?” Buffy choked.
“Yes, very much so.” The others stared at her, all astounded by the revelation, all looking for an answer as to how. “We don't know how, exactly. The best that we could figure is that at some point, the PTB must have decided enough.” The others gave her blank looks, and Mike realized they hadn't been exposed to Cordelia's shortened version of The Powers That Be. “The Powers That Be, sometimes we simply call them The Powers. Buffy, you lived longer than any recorded Slayer, and then, your powers gave out, and another Slayer was called. It just … happened,” Mike explained.
“It just happened,” Buffy repeated, a small waver to her voice, still pressing for an answer.
“We don't know why. There was nothing, nothing, that told us how it happened, why you lived. You just did. It may have been your age, it may have been how long you had been a Slayer, it could have been any number of things, or every single one of them. Something made you different, but you weren't the last. When Faith found out, she was determined to retire herself, so she struggled and she made it. A little more than a year after you, she also lost her powers. Even the Council was baffled. No one had a clear answer,” Mike admitted.
“So Faith gets to live as well, and you just don't know why,” Buffy commented under her breath.
“I was five years old!” Mike replied. “I had no idea you were even a Slayer until I was eleven, and it's still a mystery for us, after almost twenty years!” Giles looked over to her.
“And there's no guaranteeing that it could ever possibly be repeated,” Giles added in a low voice.
“No,” Mike whispered. “There's not.”
“You're lying,” Buffy said with a cold stare in Mike's direction.
“We don't know that,” Willow pointed out.
“Or she could be some scheme of Glory's to get to Dawn,” Buffy replied, still glaring at Mike. “She may be able to act like us and talk like us, but that doesn't make her one of us.” Mike nodded.
“You're right, of course. I could very well be your worst enemy, but I'm not. Before she died, your grandmother gave you a ring as a keepsake. It had a small sapphire and the band was inscribed with her initials, if I remember correctly. You never wore that ring, never felt the need to tell anyone about it really, but you do keep it in the very bottom of your jewelry box,” Mike finished, keeping her gaze trained on the Slayer, and noting the look of realization on her face.
“How did you…” Buffy began, and the others began to catch on.
“You told me. You showed the ring to your son and me. If we ever have a daughter someday, that ring will be hers,” Mike explained. For the next few tense moments, the room was silent.
“I never told any one about that ring,” Buffy replied after a pointed silence.
“Still think I'm lying?” Mike asked with a raised brow.
“Welcome to the Scooby Gang.”
“I know what I have said is a great shock to you, and I can't blame you for that, I don't, but it's something neither of us have any control over. Whatever happened in my world may or may not happen in yours, so I hope you understand my reluctance to tell you. I only wish I had more answers,” Mike offered, and Buffy managed a small smile.
“We understand.” Giles answered. “Different worlds, different circumstances.”
“Something like that,” Mike answered, giving a small smile, “and yet oddly, the same characters, for the most part.” The others gave a short collective laugh as Mike gave a quick glance to Dawn and Tara.
“Some things will never change,” Xander quipped. “Right?”
“Yes, Xander,” Willow said softly. “But some things do.” Willow gave a quick glance to Giles, then to Mike, but the awkward moment passed quickly as Mike looked to Dawn and Tara.
“Sure they do, but your world is definitely not lacking. You have an extra hand with the magic thanks to Tara and Buffy has a little sister to liven up your lives,” Mike pointed out. Dawn gave her a smile.
“Hey yeah, and I could almost be like your aunt-in-law,” the teen said, with prompted the others to burst out in laughter.
“Almost,” Mike agreed. “But we're not married yet. We set the date for this fall. Our next fall. You know what I mean.”
“I still can't believe I got married. That is almost scary,” Buffy commented off-handedly. “Certainly something I never thought I'd do.”
“Well, after your retirement, you and Riley decided to celebrate your new found freedom by getting married,” Mike explained. The looked on Buffy's face fell, and the others gave a collective sigh.
“Riley? I married Riley,” she asked.
“Who is suspiciously absent from this evening's festivities. Okay, what did I miss,” Mike asked, knowing she had stumbled upon something by mentioning the former soldier's name.
“Riley left town a few months ago. We were having… problems, and so he decided to take a military assignment in the central republic of where in the hell,” Buffy said with a small voice.
“God, I'm sorry, Buffy.”
“Don't be. I'm sure he's okay wherever he is,” Buffy returned.
“Just one more difference for us to remember,” Anya commented. “I mean, if everything was the same, we wouldn't be living in different dimensions.”
“That does give us some perspective,” Tara agreed, giving a small smile.
“Yeah, tonight is all about perspective. I'll remember that when I finally get back home,” Mike told her, causing both of them to laugh.
“I wonder what you'll tell everyone about being here,” Dawn said, thinking aloud.
“That they may be surprised how much things can change, although I may leave out a few details. I'm not sure I can tell Neil that his father left his mom way before they even got married, much less had him,” Mike said off-handedly. Giles gave a small look.
“If Neil was born after his parent's marriage, how old do that make him,” Giles asked, and Mike gave nervous laugh.
“You just had to ask that, didn't you?” Giles nodded. “Neil is… almost 18,” she answered, hesitating before giving her answer. The other stared at her with shock.
“You cradle robber, you!” Xander quipped.
“You are seriously involved with a teenage boy?” Giles commented, giving Mike a pointed look.
“Well, look at the example I had to grow up with! Would you rather I go out and find a guy in his forties to do whatever with or wait another twenty years or so and find a guy in his twenties? Who knows, maybe by then I'll be ready to get my groove back,” Mike commented with a wry look.
“That is not the point… isn't there another option?” Giles asked.
“Before you wig, just realize that I have had this conversation. Neil and I have gone to great lengths to prove that we are very serious about our decision, and it's not something that we take lightly,” Mike assured them.
“I can't believe we let you date someone so young, or that Buffy would let her son see you,” Willow commented.
“I'm wondering about that myself,” Buffy added, giving Mike a pointed look.
“We didn't exactly… ask for permission when we started dating, and boy, were we really sorry about that later on.”
“I'm sure,” Buffy said, glaring at Mike.
“You all made sure,” Mike added under her breath.
“You are a vixen, aren't you?” Xander said with a short laugh.
“I am not vixen-y!” Mike insisted. “I'm engaged! There is a very distinct difference. Usually. Did I mention how sorry we were?”
“I believe you did,” Giles mentioned dryly.
“Good, because we were. And since we're not technically your children, you can't really be mad at me for this, can you?” Mike added, giving the other her own look.
“Yes we can,” Willow and Giles said at the same time, and they both stared at each other for a few tense moments. Their reaction had been simultaneously in sync and it made the moment awkward. Willow was the first to recover.
“We're concerned, in the general sense of being concerned about another person who isn't really related to any of us per say, but we don't want bad things to happen to you either, not that this has to be a bad thing, but… someone help me please,” Willow babbled. Giles looked over to her and gave a small smile, then looked to Mike.
“These types of relationship do have a nasty tendency to end very badly, Michaela,” Giles reminded her, and an amused look crossed her face as she tried vainly to stifle a giggle. “You cannot be honestly sure that this is what either of you want at this point of your lives, and what do you find so bloody amusing?”
“It's just strange that that is a pretty darn good summary of what my parents told me when they found out, and I have a tendency to babble when I'm nervous myself,” Mike admitted, looking to Willow. Both Giles and Willow were speechless. They didn't know how to react to Mike's frankness. The others didn't speak, so the next few moments were spent in an awkward pause, until Mike broke the silence to continue. “Sorry, this whole experience is strange. I shouldn't have laughed.”
“There has been a great deal for all of us to digest. Perhaps it is time we all call it an evening? It would probably be best if we meet back here in the morning,” Giles pointed out, the others nodding their agreement.
“I… I like that idea,” Willow said, looking to Tara. “I think it's time we went home.”
“Right,” Tara agreed. “Home is good.” Xander looked to Anya, then over to Willow and Tara.
“Do you ladies need a ride home?” Both young women nodded. “Then the Xander-mobile is at your service. Buff?” he looked over to the Slayer.
“I'll make sure Buffy and Dawn get home, Xander,” Giles offered. “It's not out my way,” he added. Buffy nodded to both Xander and Giles.
“Thanks, Giles,” Buffy said.
“Um… I hate to point this out, but I don't officially exist here, so unless there's some place for me to stay …” Mike announced. A look passed between the others, then Giles sighed.
“You can stay with me for the time being,” he told her. “It won't be much but…”
“Beggars can't be choosers,” Mike finished. “I'm sure it'll be fine.”
“Then it seems all we have left to do is lock up,” Giles told them.
“We'll I've already made sure the money is counted and safe, so all that's left is locking the door, which you don't need me for, so we can leave. Besides, I don't want to be here if you start thinking about having sex with Willow,” Anya told him. The others rolled their eyes
“Thank you so very much, Anya,” Giles said dryly. “Have a lovely evening.”
“Bye, Big Guy,” Xander quipped as he shrugged on his jacket. “Buffy, Dawnster.” He looked over to Mike before he finished. “I'm sure I'll figure something out for you, but right now the best I have is cradle robber.”
“I'm sure you'll think of something great,” Mike assured him. “Very sure of it,” she added under her breath.
“I guess we'll see you in all the morning,” Willow said as she gave Buffy and Dawn a hug good-bye. She looked over to Mike. “Good night,” she told her, not quiet knowing how to react to the other woman.
“Good night,” Mike said simply, giving Willow a smile.
“Night,” Tara called as the four of them headed to the door.
“Good night,” the others chimed after her. Buffy grabbed her own coat as Dawn found her backpack and Giles took the keys from the counter. He ushered the three of them out the door as he quickly locked it, then lead the others to his car. When Mike saw the shiny red BMW convertible, she was taken aback.
“It's so… red,” she pointed out as Buffy and Dawn climbed into the back seat. “Why couldn't we have a care like this? I would have died to borrow this car!” she added as she took the passenger seat. Giles looked at her from the driver's seat.
“You probably bloody would have,” he assured her dryly as he started the engine and sped off into the night. From a near-by alley, Jinx smiled and looked to his fellow minion. They had been staking out the Magic Box, and had seen the Scoobies leave.
“Well, her worshipfullness will very interested to find that the Slayer has a new friend,” the scabby demon noted. “Very interested, I'm sure.”
“You've just seen “The Empire Strikes Back,” haven't you?” the other minion commented.
“I was running out of titles,” Jinx told him.
Giles woke the next morning to the smell of pancakes and coffee coming from downstairs. He groggily walked down from the loft and into the kitchen to find Mike finishing a fresh bowl of batter. She had a small stack of finished pancakes next to her on the counter, along with a fresh cup of coffee. She turned to face him as he came in. “Good morning,” she greeted him, smiling brightly.
“Bloody hell, it's early,” Giles grumbled. “How can you be so damn cheerful at this hour,” he asked. She smiled back at him.
“I always was more of a morning person than you, and I've already had two cups of coffee,” she admitted. Giles managed a small laugh.
“That explains it, then. Why did you make breakfast,” he continued, looking at the pancakes.
“Because I was hungry, all that inter-dimensional travel you know, and the only things I could seem to find in this place were the pancake mix and the milk, both of which you are out of now, by the way,” she added as she took two plates out of the cupboard, placing some of the pancakes on one and handing the other to Giles.
“Well, it was a nice surprise,” Giles said as she sat down at the small table in the dining room. He took some of pancakes and placed them on his plate, then joined Mike at the table. “Did you sleep well last night,” he asked as he looked to the other things Mike had placed on the table, apparently looking for something that didn‘t seem to be there.
“The couch was fine,” she said politely as she sipped her coffee. She casually reached behind the pitcher of orange juice she had placed on the table before Giles woke up and produced a jar of marmalade, handing it to Giles, who was vaguely shocked at first, then he recovered as if nothing had happened, using the marmalade on his pancakes like he had ever since he was a child. “It's just kind of … weird, you know? It's like I know this place, but I don't. I woke up wondering if I would still be in the same place I was last night, or if it was just some sort of dream I had had. But it wasn't.”
“I know. I had the same feeling when I seen you in the kitchen,” Giles admitted, then glanced at the jar of marmalade she seemed to somehow know he favored. “Mind boggling, really.”
“Welcome to the Hellmouth,” she intoned. “God. You think you've seen everything; that you can't possibly be surprised by anything anymore. You get so damn blasé about living here, and then something like this happens. It's well past bizarre,” she pointed out.
“Not really,” Giles told her. “We have always known that alternative dimensions existed, and that, by their very nature, it was possible that we could encounter different versions of our lives. We've bloody done it before. Now, it's simply a matter of facing a whole new reality,” he explained calmly, and Mike nodded.
“I know that. Logically, you're right, but that doesn't make it any less freaksome. You can not tell me that you are not wigging out about this, because I know you. You were awake half the night going over all the possible scenarios of how this could have happened, who could have done it, and how to reverse it.” As she counted off, she raised her hand and raised one finger for each of her guesses. “You've probably already chosen what books you're going to research from today,” she added, looking at him pointedly.
“Do you have any bloody idea how infuriating that is?” he asked, and Mike grinned.
“Absolutely,” she replied, taking a bite from on of her pancakes. “I know it's disconcerting for you, but I can't help it. I know you. There's not much more I can say than that.”
“And yet I don't know you in the slightest. I look at you, and have no idea what to expect. I feel at a loss here, Michaela, to be honest” Giles told her. “It's not an exciting point of view to have,” he added pointedly.
“But you do know me, in a around about way,” Mike pointed out. “I'm not that much different from you… or from her,” she added in a low voice, lowering her eyes from his gaze. “Is that what it is? That I remind you of her?”
“Perhaps that is what's so off-putting about it,” Giles admitted, looking at Mike. “It's just… shocking, really. In some strange ways… I can see so much of her in you. So much of myself, really.”
“And here we are, eating breakfast like any normal father/daughter,” she murmured. “Only… we're not. God, I don't even know what to call you,” she realized. “Calling you ‘Dad‘ seems way too awkward and ‘Giles‘ doesn‘t… it doesn't fit somehow. And I don‘t want to even start with how weird it is to have someone you‘ve always known as mom officially younger than you.”
“We'll figure something out,” Giles assured her. “We all seem to be playing this situation by ear,” he added. “And if we don't leave soon, we are going to be late.” She nodded as she took both plates from the table, her coffee cup, and the few other trimming she had used, and walking into the kitchen, followed by Giles who had taken the remaining pancakes. She slipped the dishes in the dishwasher as he put the leftovers in his refrigerator, and soon they were ready to leave. After a short drive to the Magic Box, they entered the shop, finding that they were the first to arrive. Mike had helped Giles bring a few books from the apartment, placing them on the counter. “Well, I do have a few volumes to get from the car,” he excused himself.
“Okay,” she replied as he left the shop. She had opened one of the books on the counter, and was momentarily engrossed in the text until she heard a commotion coming from the basement.
“Watcher, you're out of… Hello.” Spike announced as he sauntered into the main room of the shop. Mike turned to face him, startled by his sudden presence. “You're new here,” he stated casually.
“You could say that,” Mike returned in a matching tone as she closed the book in front of her, regaining her composure.
“And who would you be, luv,” he asked while he lit a cigarette.
“I would be Michaela,” she introduced herself, “but everyone calls me Mike, so I guess you count,” she added with a grin.
“What is a lovely bird like you doing here? Are you looking for something, because the owner stepped out, or …”
“It's a little complicated to explain everything, but you could say that I'm a stranger traveling in a not-so-strange land,” she answered causally. “Kind of.”
“And what the bloody hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Could mean any number of things,” she pointed out. “But I'm not just going to tell you the answer yet.” Spike laughed.
“I like you already. You've got a body and brains to go with it,” he commented with a mischievous grin.
“Pardon me,” Giles voice came from the doorway The Watcher looked to Spike with a raised eyebrow.
“Hello, Watcher. I was saying hi to your pretty new friend.”
“My pretty new friend, as you call her, is my daughter, you pillock,” Giles intoned, giving Spike a murderous look.
“Bloody hell!” Spike gasped, nearly swallowing his cigarette. Mike went into a peal of laugher.
“You are so mean to him,” Mike said, glancing at Giles, still grinning, vainly trying to stifle her laughter. “It would almost cruel if it wasn't so funny,” she added.
“Funny to you,” Spike mumbled under his breath.
“I should explain, Spike,” Mike began. “I'm not actually from this dimension. I come from a parallel world, where he is my father,” she explained, glancing at Giles. “I also come from a different time in my world. When I left, it was 2025.”
“Well, that is one hell of a story, luv,” Spike replied, regaining himself. “So, you're from another dimension, huh? That's a new one.”
“Oh, that's not all,” Giles commented under his breath.
“How much more dramatic could you get then being a bloody Giles,” Spike asked, glancing at Mike.
“My mother is Willow, I would think the red hair is a dead giveaway, and I'm engaged to Buffy and Riley's son, Neil, who isn't quite 18 yet,” Mike answered evenly. “I think that about covers it.”
“You are a piece of work,” Spike said, glaring at her.
“Would you honestly expect anything less from someone born in Sunnydale?”
“You got me there, Mike,” Spike told her with a grin.
“What exactly are you doing here Spike,” Giles questioned, changing the subject.
“I was making sure your basement was secure, why anyone would be bloody foolish enough to have access to a sewer down there I have yet to understand, and I noticed you were fresh out of mandrake root,” Spike answered. Giles gave him a pointed look.
“Well, thank you so much for that helpful inventory, Spike. And, of course, this would have nothing to do with stealing from me or being closer to Buffy, would it?”
“I am a trifle more intelligent than that,” Spike said as he rolled his eyes. “Give me some credit, Rupert.”
“Not a bloody chance,” Giles replied, placing the books he had brought in and putting them on the main table, as Mike and Spike joined his lead and took more of the books, leaving the counter free. “But we can use all the help we can get right now,” Giles admitted with a sigh.
“Exactly,” Spike pointed out. “You have one nasty hell god to deal with, a key to protect, and now a brand spanking new daughter. Help is exactly what you need.”
“Which is the only reason I tolerate you being here,” Giles returned, glancing at the vampire. “Remember that, Spike.” Without another word, he walked out of the main room in the direction of the basement.
“He does get touchy sometimes, doesn't he,” Mike commented. Spike shrugged.
“He's only trying to protect his own. Can't blame a chap for that,” he said, giving her a sincere look. “Right about admirable of him, really, but if you ever tell him I said that, I would have to hurt you.”
“Your secret is safe with me, and you're right. You can't blame him for being a little overprotective. It is a Hellmouth we live on, after all,” she point out.
“All the more reason for him to be all watchful about all concerned, speaking of which, are the others coming?” Spike asked, and Mike nodded.
“We are having an old fashioned Scooby Gang Research Party,” she told him. “We would have done more last night, but I think I freaked everyone out.”
“No surprise there. I take it you've met everyone?” he asked.
“If you're asking about Tara and Dawn, yes. I met them, so I got my big shock for the decade.”
“So I take it you didn't come about because of a one night only type of deal?” he asked
“No. My parents have been married since before I was born,” she confirmed.
“Interesting, although I can't say that I'm surprised that Rupert would go for a younger woman,” she said with a grin, and Mike began to chuckle.
“Just don't let him know you said that,” she warned with mock seriousness. They both started laughing as the others began to come through the door. Spike immediately sobered as the Slayer walked in.
“Buffy,” he greeted her.
“Spike,” she returned, matching his tone. “I take it you met our new guest?”
“Yeah,” Spike answered. “I've met Mike. Giles is getting something from the storage room,” he told her.
“And we brought books,” Mike told them. “Hopefully they'll be helpful books.”
“Maybe they will,” Willow agreed. “How was last night?” she asked, glancing at Mike.
“Fine. Somewhat awkward at first, but fine.”
“Good. Hi, Giles,” she greeted the Watcher as he came into the room, holding a new stack of books.
“Hello, Willow,” he replied as he placed the books on the table. “Good morning, everyone. I did bring the volumes I thought we should begin with,” he told them, pointing out the large pile of books on the table. The others groaned.
“Start,” Buffy asked. “Giles, this is only start?”
“Buffy…” Giles began.
“I'm only saying, Giles. Just remember that you're paying for the pizza this time,” she added as they all sat down at the table and began to look through various books Giles had brought. Giles looked on to the group for a moment, then sighed as he joined them.
“What are you trying to tell me, Jinx-y,” Glory asked as she held her minion against the wall of her posh apartment. She had her hand around his throat, and her eyes shone with murderous intent.
“The Slayer…” Jinx squeaked. “The Slayer… we've found the Key…” the scabby little demon managed.
“I'll decide if you've found my Key, honey,” Glory returned as she released her grip, allowing Jinx to recover. She walked back towards her plush chair and sat down, allowing the blue silk dress she had chosen to flow around her. “Tell me about it.”
“There was a new person with the Slayer last night, a young woman,” Jinx explained. “She even left with her.”
“So perhaps Little Miss Thing has been hiding my Key the whole time,” Glory asked, and Jinx nodded. “Maybe she's smarter than I gave her credit for.” Glory looked to her other minions. “I say we pay the Slayer's newest friend a visit.” The hell god smiled. “I think I'd like to meet her.”
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