And You Thought YOUR Parents Were Strange
Summary: Buffy and Angel's teenage daughter finds out. Needless to say what.
Author Notes: Thanks to Rakshar for beta-ing this, even if it meant abandoning your twin ("Use the force! Use the force! What? Oh, right, must beta.") Sorry, but I decided to just stick with Rachel. And. well, everyone, just know that Buffy and Angel aren't together in this fic, but everything's still okay. It's complicated. I can give you a whole character analysis about this fic (but I won't). Enjoy.
Disclaimer: The characters from BtVS and A:TS are owned by Joss Whedon&co. I'm not really sure of who &co are.
Sunnydale is a very weird town. Weirder than most, I mean. It can be hard to deal with. Last week, for instance, I discovered my dad is a vampire.
That was blunt. I'll start at the beginning.
My name is Rachel Summers. I'm 16 years old, don't have a boyfriend, I like Corn Flakes, Tzhaikovski and I Love Lucy reruns. My parents are separated. I live with my mom in Sunnydale, my dad lives in LA, and I get to see him about once a month. We both go to movies, play basketball, take long walks. Lots of Kodak moments.
So far, relatively normal.
A month ago this man came to me. He introduced himself as Edward Cartwrite, but I can call him Eddie, and said I was the Chosen One. With capitals. Then he dragged me to a nearby graveyard. Now, I'm sure you can understand why I freaked.
So, I kneed you-can-call-me-Eddie in the crotch and ran. Straight into a tree. That's the kind of thing that happens in Sunnydale. When I came to, my vision was kinda blurry, and I remember seeing an anxious face leaning over me from behind and hearing "Miss Summers? Are you all right?"
I vaguely recognized the voice and screamed. Thing is, in Sunnydale no one really notices if you scream. It's a defense mechanism. You hear someone scream, you know to stay clear of the area.
The guy clamped his hand over my mouth to shut me up and said, "Relax, I'm not going to hurt you." Like I was gonna buy that. That was when the strangest thing happened.
I am not an excessively strong girl. I mean, I'm no weakling, but I'm not an athlete either. I go to the gym once a week to stay in shape, but normally prefer pepper spray to kung-fu. And I am definitely no match for a buff, thirtyish male who clearly took the right vitamins every morning.
Or so I thought.
It really didn't take much of an effort. I just kicked up my legs and bam!- he was out. And my legs shouldn't have even reached that far behind my head, let alone with such force. Sufficient to say I was surprised.
Unfortunately, I also felt sorry for the guy. His forehead was turning into a really nasty color, and I started thinking that maybe he really had been harmless. By now it was getting dark, and Sunnydale is the creepiest place at night. Now that I was feeling all guilty about it I wasn't gonna leave Eddie there all alone. I figured I'd stay for a couple more minutes till he woke up and then help him to a more populated area, because somehow, and don't ask me how, we had managed to get ourselves alarmingly close to the outskirts of town. You know, "where the bad stuff happens."
I waited. And waited some more. I must have really hit this guy hard. At the time it didn't occur to me to question why I myself had not even a bump from my encounter with the tree.
I was still waiting when I heard a twig snap behind me, followed by a chilling chuckle. Of course. The one time I was trying to be a Good Samaritan- well, except for knocking out Possibly Good Guy Eddie- a psychotic killer would come for me. Funny how that was the first possibility that popped into my head.
Turned out it was much worse. A tall man with terrifying, grotesque features growled loudly before attacking me. I was at a loss of what to do. Helplessly, I tried to fight him off, but that momentary strength I'd had earlier seemed to have vanished. All the while I kept trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with the man's face. Was it some kind of disease or something?
Right at the point where I was so exhausted that I was going to give up, Eddie rose with a sharp weapon clutched in his hand. Wonderful, I thought. Not only did I get into all this trouble for staying with Eddie, he turns out to be in league with the rabies man and now the two of them are going to gang up on me. Oddly, I was feeling a bit disappointed that my life wasn't flashing in front of my eyes, which was a very inappropriate thing to think at the time.
Eddie sneaked up behind the attacker, who was so focused on me he didn't notice him. Then, to my complete astonishment, he thrust the weapon into the guy's back. The man's face twisted- even more, that is- and he promptly disintegrated.
I can't say that was the reaction I'd been expecting.
Wearily and warily, I listened to Eddie explain about Watchers and Slayers, vampires and monsters, and lots of other stuff that were much scarier than even a Grimm Brothers fairy tale.
When I returned home that day, I lied to my mother.
Fine, fine, it wasn't all that dramatic, really. You'd think I'd never lied to my mother before. I mean, she's my mother. She's there to be deceived. I'm sure I wouldn't have gotten the room with the window that outlooks the big oak if she hadn't meant me to sneak out at least once. My mom's cool.
However, this was the first time in my life I had kept something this significant from her, and it felt strange to be carrying this huge secret and not being able to tell anybody. Ever.
The next week I was out every day after school. I'm a fairly active girl, so mom didn't suspect anything out of the ordinary. The week after that I started going out every night too. On the third night Mom said she was worried I was out for so long after dark, so after that I took care to sneak out only after I was sure she was asleep. The big oak proved to be extraordinarily handy.
It was scary at first. I had no experience at fighting, and felt really clumsy every time another punching bag burst. But Eddie said I'd improve in time. He said I'd receive my powers gradually. First strength, and then healing abilities, agility, alertness, coordination, hearing, and all the other bonuses, until finally I'd get the power of sensing vampires. At first it would feel very intense, but the more experience I'd get the more natural it will feel, until at last I'd simply know exactly where every vamp was in the near vicinity.
I didn't really understand the significance of everything that happened until I staked my first vampire. That was when I realized that my life had changed forever. I was no longer a normal teenage girl. I was a killer.
Eddie tried to convince me this wasn't true, that I wasn't killing because vampires weren't alive to begin with. That I was saving lives.
I realized the truth in this. But deep down inside I felt horrible every time I drove a stake into a vampire's chest, because no matter how fiercely it fought, or how loud it growled, or how badly it hurt me- it still looked human. That's what made the difference.
I started feeling bad. I wasn't getting enough sleep at night, I was worried about everything, my untrained body was tiring and my grades were dropping. Granted, not many grades can drop in three weeks but hey, I flunked a quizlette.
My mom noticed the change. Not the quizlette, of course. She was way prouder than any mom should be of my Bs and took great care to always hide all her high school report cards at the bottom of a locked chest in the basement. But she mainly noticed my extremely cranky attitude. She tried to talk to me, and that frustrated me all the more since I couldn't tell her anything.
In the end she decided maybe some quality time with my dad would help. Dad's good at making people feel better.
It really goes deeper than that, though. I read a poem one about a man who dreamt one night of the path he had walked in his life with God. He noticed that there were usually two sets of footprints, but in lowest times of his life, when he almost despaired, he found only one set. He shouted to God and said "You promised you'd always be with me. Why did you abandon me when I needed you most?" And God said "What you saw were not the footsteps of yourself walking alone, but the footsteps of myself as I carried you during your hard times."
That story always reminded me of Dad. He cares so much... Even though he hardly sees me, he knows so much about me, and he almost always knows just what to do and just what to say. That's why I was glad to go. I mean, Mom's great too, of course, but with my dad it's. . . different. Eddie said it was okay to leave because he wasn't going to stay in Sunnydale anyway that week, so I wouldn't be patrolling. He was leaving for a Watchers' meeting somewhere in Ohio.
So I went to LA for the most surprising weekend of my life, and that says a lot.
The drive took an hour. I'm very straightforward about the fact hat I cannot wait to get my license just so I can escape my mother's maniacal driving. Grandma told me Mom had passed the test on her 11th try so she's really experienced, which doesn't really comfort me all that much.
We arrived at Dad's apartment a bit late, because of an argument I had with her about where she's allowed to park. Honestly, I need a license. He was at his office, so I took out my key and we went inside. Dad has the tidiest place, it's amazing. Like it's right out of a home decorator magazine- everything has it's place, and he knows just where that is. It's all orderly, I think it has to do with that stuffy Wyndham Price guy he works with. Maybe it rubbed off on him.
Apparently Mom hadn't told him we were coming, so she seamed a bit nervous, but that's nothing new. Their meetings often had that little bit of tension, but all in all they were friendly. She said she'd stay with me till he showed up to make sure everything was okay. We ordered Chinese, since Mom found almost nothing in the fridge. Of course, now I know why.
After dinner I watched some TV, and finally got tired of waiting and went to bed.
Dad came in at about 2 AM. I heard Mom explain why we were here through the door. He seemed okay with it, and they talked quietly for awhile- about life, about work, about me.
I got up just to say hi, but I was feeling kinda dizzy. Tiredly, I stumbled to the living room, where I saw my mom and dad sitting together on the couch, their faces relaxed, and for one swift second I wished with all my heart that my parents would live together, that we'd be a happy family-
-but I didn't have much time to dwell on that thought, because one second later I felt a sharp pain in my side, like I'd gone swimming right after eating a huge Sub.
"Mom!" I gasped, and she suddenly noticed I was there and quickly ran over. I doubled up and wrapped my arms around my waist. She was asking me questions, where did it hurt, what had happened, but I was only paying attention to the pain. Then Dad was there, and my muscles cramped up even more and I almost cried. I felt his strong arms pick me up and lay me on my bed. Then he left for some wet towels or something, and suddenly my muscles relaxed. It was so relieving for a moment I couldn't say anything. Then I told my mom,
"It's okay now."
She was sitting by me, stroking my hair, and she glanced up quickly. "What was it?"
"I don't know, it felt like my whole stomach clenched up, and then it passed."
We talked about it for a while. When Dad reentered the room the pain resurfaced, but it wasn't as strong now, I could still talk. I was lying on the bed, with Mom sitting next to me. Dad was at the desk. They talked softly, trying not to wake me up, but of course I wasn't really asleep. At one point I felt the bed shift as Mom rose; she was going home. I muttered "bye, Mom," and heard her reply and leave.
I heard Dad get up and do some stuff- I have no idea what. Then the bed shifted again and I knew he was there. His hand gently touched my face and I sighed, my pain becoming secondary to the fact that I was with my dad. I love him so much.
He continued to just sit by my as I squirmed and shifted, trying to find a position which would hurt less, when there was a knock on the door. Dad left for the door, and my pain eased again for the second time. I closed my eyes, trying to fall asleep before the pain returned, and faintly heard Mom's voice mumbling at the doorway, followed by Dad's amused chuckle.
"Buffy, you're not supposed to park where it's painted red." I had to smile at that. Mom is so clueless. And I so totally told her so.
"Hey, I know how to park, okay? It's just that the tow-people were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Anyway-"
"You wanna spend the night here?" A pause. "Sure, I'll make your bed."
I fell asleep a little while after that.
When I woke up it was the middle of the night. What woke me was another almost unbearable cramp at my side, which grew stronger and then weaker by the second. I tossed and turned, sweating, until I decided on getting up to wash my face. The moment I reached the bathroom, though, I felt better. I washed my face. When I climbed into bed the pain returned. Maybe it was something in the room, I thought, or some kind of allergy. I walked away from the bed and everything was all right again. This was definitely giving me the creeps. The closer I was to the wall, the stronger the feeling grew. I experimented for a bit before I got the brilliant idea of looking out the window for the cause. The weather was nice and stormy, and the occasional roar of thunder wasn't helping my nerves. I had to pull my face up close to see outside through the blurring raindrops.
Another hideous face was pushed up against the window, staring straight at me.
I jumped and swallowed a scream; my parents were still asleep. My skin crawled as I watched, heart pounding, the vampire outside run with a start. And my pain disappeared.
That was when it clicked. This was my last power. Whenever I felt the pain it meant that a vampire was in the area, and this discovery meant one obvious thing: vampires were hunting my father.
The thought scared me more than anything. Had they been there all night? Yes, the feeling didn't start just now. What would have happened if I hadn't been here this weekend? I didn't even want to think about that. The only thing I could do now was get to them before they got to Dad.
As quietly as I could I shed my nightgown and put on warm sweats and a pair of boots. Having brought no stakes-gee, Rach, that was smart- I counted on the small trees near Dad's building for weapons. With all the stealth I could manage with my minimal training, I sneaked out the window into the cold, wet night.
Finding the vamp was harder than I thought. At first I tried to smell him, but the rain made that difficult and anyway I felt like a terrier. He hadn't left any obvious trail, either. Finally, I settled on closing my eyes and concentrating real hard, relaxing my body. Slowly I began to feel a slight pounding above my waist and centered my thoughts on the direction I thought it might be coming from. When I neared the corner of a dark alley the ache grew stronger, and I entered a small park- perfect for laying an ambush.
I was totally soaked by now, and as I broke some branches off a low tree I hoped I'd be able to fight with both the pain and the-ugh- puddles.
I waited behind some bushes for a while and eventually decided to attack. I searched for vampires and found, to my astonishment, four. It was my first battle alone and wow, it was exhilarating. Baby, I kicked their dusty little asses like a pro.
Gotta work on those puns some more.
The night's work done within under an hour, I began feeling tired again and headed towards the apartment, twirling a stake in my hand, but as I approached the place it dawned on me that something was wrong. Instead of feeling at ease, my muscles tensed and my stomach started to hurt again. I froze as panic gripped me. What if a vampire had somehow managed to get in the apartment? Because sure as hell, that's what it felt like.
I ran the last few yards to my window, but it was closed. Damn. Trying to build up energy, I sprinted towards the main entrance, hoping the door wasn't locked and clenching my stake in a position ready to thrust. I was definitely getting closer to the vampire, I could feel it.
With a sharp kick I burst open the door, not caring now if my parents woke up. The vampire was directly in front of me and in one swift motion I leaped, knocking him on his back, and brought down the stake with deadly accuracy.
That's when I realized that this vampire was my father.
At the last possible instant I twisted my arm, driving the stake through the thick carpet, and as an afterthought positioned myself above him so he couldn't move. Then the situation sunk in. I had failed. My father was dead.
I felt myself pale, and suddenly I felt really weak, but kept pressing his body against the floor.
All this happened in about two seconds from when I opened the door, so it was only now when Dad spoke.
In a stunned voice he whispered "no."
Mom ran into the room then. She must have heard the noise, I dunno. But she grabbed me with surprising strength and with a glance at the door demanded to know what the hell was going on.
I was really feeling terrible now, with overwhelming grief combined with pain, nausea and fear, and I stumbled in front of her to shield her from Dad. Mom tried to push me aside, but I wouldn't give in.
Dad rose with an expression I had never seen on his face before. His eyes were the darkest black imaginable, and there was so much anger in his face he was more threatening than any vampire I had ever met. His fists were tight and his jaw was clenched, like he was somehow trying to control his feelings, but wouldn't manage to hold them in much longer.
I was afraid.
Mom spoke to him with worry. "What's wrong?"
With a rush I snapped at her. "Mom, get away from here, he's a-"
But my words were unheard over the sound of the kitchen counter collapsing under a powerful blow from my father. With a string of unintelligible curses he pounded his fists on the wall, taking out his rage or frustration with such violence that I was terrified of what he would do to me and Mom. My eyes darted around the room, looking for a weapon.
Mom's eyes were wide and she managed to twist out of my protective grasp, running over to him and grabbing his fists before he did any more damage. Surprisingly, he surrendered to her touch, and that registered as strange in my mind. Such a strong demon should never have yielded to someone like my mother. Something was wrong.
Through clenched teeth, I saw him whisper something to my mother that made her look sharply at me with shock. Her face became deathly white. "No," she shook her head. "Please... please don't tell me that's true..." she pleaded. Dad's look softened and suddenly he had his arms round her and she was crying, sobbing into his chest and saying "no" over and over again, and it was the scariest moment in my life. I had never seen my mom cry before, and I had somehow lost control of the situation, with no idea what was going on.
"What?" I demanded from them. "What's going on?"
Mom looked at me with broken eyes and whispered, "you're the Slayer?"
This was too much. I was so far beyond confused there isn't even a word for it, and enough is enough. That night had held way too many shocks for this particular Slayer. Slowly I nodded.
"Oh, honey," she said so softly that I could hardly hear her speak. Dad, standing behind her, gave me the most compassionate, most understanding, most heartbreaking look I had ever received, and I started to cry. Everything was wrong, no one was acting like they were supposed to, and I had no idea what was going on anymore...
Dad reached out for me but suddenly remembering, I flinched away from his arm with a sharp cry and thrust a cross I had on a chain at his arm. Immediately he recoiled with a snarl and I smelled the flesh burn. "Let's just get away from here, Mom!" I said desperately, giving my dad a smart kick to the chin that sent him smack into the wall. I took hold of Mom's arm but she pulled away, and in a firm tone she had never used with me before she commanded "No!"
I stared at her. She took a deep breath. "Rachel... we have to talk. About a lot of things... Your father and me, both. Let's go sit down..."
We had a very long talk that night. I cursed quite a bit, and the phrase "Oh, my God" came up once or twice. Or fifty times. The next day I went patrolling with Dad. My stomach didn't hurt entirely as much as it had during the first day. I think I'll be seeing a lot more of my dad from now on.
Yesterday Eddie came back. He was wearing purple 1970's sunglasses and a T-shirt that said 'Watch Out!', which was actually scarier than most of the vampires I've slain. Apparently he knew about the whole story about the star-crossed lovers, and added some juicier details that kids just don't want to know about their parents.
My grades are better now (I know, I know, I only got back three days ago. Well, for your information, I redid the quizlette and aced it, so there). And Mom came to supervise my training on Saturday. It's kinda weird how things turned out, but hey, this is Sunnydale. Weird place.
So's LA, when you come to think about it.
Actually. . .
I'll let you know when I find someplace normal.
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