btvs: i'm just a ghost

fic:give up the ghost, btvs/alpha&omega

Title: Give up the Ghost
Chapter 4:Part A: don’t think they could forgive
Prompt: #449 siege@ tamingthemuse
Rating: FR13
Disclaimer: BtVS and all related characters are copyright of Joss Whedon and ME. The Alpha and Omega Series and all related characters are copyright of Patricia Briggs and Ace. No infringement intended.

Summary: Leah Cornick was a lot of things (most of them bad), but none would’ve guessed that she was a Slayer trapped within a wish.

Soapy water sloshed in the baking dish and over the sides as Anna did her best to scrub away the last of the lasagna without breaking the glass. Cheese could be a stubborn thing and she used a thumbnail to scratch at the pieces that clung to the handle. She wasn’t entirely sure how the cheese had gotten up there, but it had and burnt to a cinder. A huff escaped her before she could swallow it and Charles’ quiet laughter with her antics made smile. She cast her gaze in his direct and that smile grew wider still.

The corners of his eyes had gathered, his mouth twitching as he turned a plate around in his hands. The towel he’d been ordered to be useful with had been replaced with another as he dried the dishes she’d cleaned. There were very few members of the pack Charles had to listen to—she was pretty certain it was just the one—so Anna thought he’d been humoring Leah when she’d presented him with the towel. Though she had cooked the meal, something Dawn requested, and a little clean up seemed a fitting payment.

Anna could admit she had her reservations with the beef being replaced by spicy sausage, but it had been tasty. Through their bond Charles had given her the impression Leah wasn’t the best cook and Bran’s hovering, at least at first, implied the same, but half way through the preparation Bran returned from the kitchen. Leah had ordered him out and requested Tag as a replacement sous chef—Anna wasn’t complaining.

“Think it’ll snow again tonight?” Charles’ amusement doubled with her question about the weather after the discussion they’d had for most of the day in regards to Leah and her past life as a supernatural badass. Charles laughed outright and Anna blushed because she was pretty sure he’d plucked that last bit right out of her head. Instead of giving in to his desire to speak of Leah and things they couldn’t change she prompted, “Well?”

Rinsing the baking dish, finally cheese free and clean, she awaited his answer and felt that Brother Wolf’s focus was still on the Other. He’d thought of little else and while Anna didn’t blame him it made her wolf anxious and closer to the surface than usual. “Canada doesn’t seem to mind sharing the cold with us early this year,” Anna smiled up at him before handing him the baking dish and Charles added, “But I think we’ll get rain tonight. Not snow.”

“I like the snow,” Anna confessed, “But I don’t like driving in it.”

Charles accepted the dish and leaned forward, touching his forehead to the side of her head for a brief moment before agreeing, “Most people in these parts don’t.”

“Bran doesn’t seem to mind.”

“You’ve seen Da drive,” was Charles’ counterargument and it made her smile.

Anna collected the frying pan from the stove, it still smelled of the sausage and onions that had been sautéed in it, and rinsed out their remnants from the bottom. Soap was added and then a bit of elbow grease to get it clean. She’d leave the cast-iron on the stove and allow Leah to clean it as she wished. Anna knew enough about cooking to know soap wasn’t used to clean that skillet, but not enough to know what was actually supposed to be used. The cast-iron had held bulbs of garlic, their tops removed and olive oil drizzled over them before baking.

They’d been used to create Tag’s version of garlic bread with included smearing the roasted garlic cloves on toasted bread with butter. It’d been a bit much for Anna, but Charles had enjoyed it so she’d made a mental note to ask Tag for the recipe. The wolf in question was currently being given strict orders by Leah—in a tone that implied she was used to giving them—to show Dawn and the Other to the only motel in town.

Leah might’ve preferred to have Dawn under the same roof as her, but something told Anna that Bran wasn’t too keen on the prospect. He’d also requested Asil keep Kara for the night which told Anna he wanted at least some time alone with his mate. Anna finished the frying pan and moved onto the pot that Leah had used to cook the noodles. She’d mentioned only ever using the oven ready kind and Bran had given her such an aghast look it’d made her laugh and Charles had taken her hand. The memory made her smile as she scrubbed.

While Leah and Tag had been cooking Dawn had snuck in a few more colorful stories of Leah’s past as Buffy. Anna, and the others, now knew that Leah could behead someone with an exacto knife and she’d run away to Las Vegas with her boyfriend once. Bran had been impressed with the exacto story, but less than pleased with the story of Oliver Pike. Leah had countered that Dawn’s first kiss had been with a vampire and thus a free-for-all of overshares, as Leah put it, had commenced.

The stories had been either hilarious or terrifying—some of them both. Anna would’ve thought them tall tales, but Charles and Brother Wolf hadn’t sensed any mistruth or exaggerations for embellishment’s sake. Bran had studied their interaction—quiet and watchful—and Charles had shared with her via their bond that Bran did some of his best interrogations by simply watching the interaction of others. Anna thought he’d learned a whole lot and, yet still, very little which sort of felt right where the sisters were concerned.

Her hands paused in the sudsy water, startled by the realization that she liked Leah—and Dawn to some extent—and before that morning she hadn’t thought much of her. She caught Charles’ watchful gaze, just like his father, and offered him a timid smile. He returned, but wider. “You allowed to like her. I think she’d prefer it if you did.”

“I think,” Anna hesitated, but since Charles seemed open to the conversation she hazard, “I think she’d like both of us too.”

“Leah and I,” His smile fled his face and he grew serious, “We have history—”

“And it’ll take more than a good meal to win him over,” Leah finished for him as she reentered the kitchen.

“A good meal and pleasant conversation,” Charles offered.

Leah smiled, it looked tired and her shoulders were rolled inwards protectively, Anna was very familiar with that sort of body language. “I can’t remember the last time you and I spoke in a civil way.”

“Neither can I,” Charles agreed.

“Christmas,” Bran supplied as he came into the kitchen and settled his hands over Leah’s shoulders, pulling them up and back while rubbing gently. “You were kind and actually tried her attempt at a fruitcake.”

Anna caught the pinched look that crossed Charles’ face and grinned. “I’m going to assume attempt is the important word in that sentence.”

“It was hard as a rock on the outside and somehow still had a doughy center.” Leah wrinkled her nose and gave Charles’ a pitying look. “You are a brave man.”

He inclined his head in thanks and Anna could feel his pleasure with the truth in Leah’s words. She might’ve meant them as a joke, but the fact that she still meant them seemed to matter to Charles. It wasn’t much, but Anna would take it. “We’ve just one more pot to finish and then we’ll be outta your hair.”

She turned back to the sink and finished scrubbing the residue of the salted-water the noodles had been cooked in. She could hear Leah moving around the kitchen and Bran take a seat at the island behind her. Charles settled himself against the counter, drying towel at ready, as she rinsed out the pot before handing it to him. She put her hands under the spray of water, rinsing them before reaching for a towel of her own.

Anna turned back to the room to find Leah preparing them a portion of the leftovers. “You don’t have to—”

“I know,” Leah interrupted her and finished wrapping some of the bread in tinfoil. “I want to. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with taking some for the road. I’d have given some to Dawn, but there are only microwaves at the motel and lasagna tastes best when reheated in an oven.”

“Tag stole the rest of the garlic, didn’t he?” Anna questioned, making her way closer to the island and Leah.

“He did,” Leah agreed. She seemed more settled after cooking and a day of conversation, but her scent still held that wild edge. Anna was starting to wonder if she’d always smell a bit like Asil now. Leah interrupted her train of thought and offered her a plastic container filled with lasagna and the wrapped bread. She noticed the paper tucked between the two and sent Leah a questioning look. She shrugged before offering, “I asked Tag to write out the recipe.”

“Thank you,” Anna grinned, accepting the small bundle, and felt through her connection to Charles’ that he took pleasure in her happiness and his surprise that Leah had caused it.

Buffy,” Brother Wolf corrected in both of their minds. He presented them with the image of the arid desert and it carried with it the wild scent Anna kept picking up on Leah. They shared a look and Charles’ pleasure melted away with thought that Brother Wolf might be right and the mate his father knew was gone.

Anna bit at the inside of her lip before attempting to school her features as best she could before thanking Leah, “It’s been an interesting day,” she lifted her bundle, “Thank you.”

Charles’ large hands settled on her shoulders and she leaned into his warmth as he inclined his head to Leah. “Thank you for the meal.”

“It was surprisingly good?” Her voice was laced with laughter, but the smile Leah spared for them was self-deprecating.

Anna smiled, more tight-lipped than before with Brother Wolf’s correction floating around in her head, as she led them from the kitchen and through the living room. Charles’ hands had slipped away, taking their warmth and reassurance with them. She paused beside the front door and watched Charles’ graciously accept the keys to Bran’s Humvee. Tag had taken Dawn and the Other with him in his own car which still left Leah’s Lexus if they need to go anywhere, but something told Anna that they were in for the night.

She accepted the kiss Bran placed against her cheek, but Leah hung back, watching their exchange with an oddly blank expression. Anna didn’t smell anything amiss—meaning Leah wasn’t jealous or upset—but there was a tension in her that hadn’t been a moment ago. It was in the set of her shoulders and the lift of her chin and something told Anna there was another battled to come.

The brisk air settled over them once more as they made their way down the porch and Charles’ warm hand found her own. They walked to the Humvee in silence and Anna heard not a peep from the house. She spared it one last glance before slipping into the passenger side of the box-like vehicle in dire need of a good wash. She mentioned as such to Charles and he smiled at her as he backed them out of the driveway and onto the slush covered street.

Anna waited until they turned off the street Bran and Leah lived on before broaching the question Brother Wolf had raised and she was still a little worried about Bran overhearing. “Do you think Brother Wolf is right?”

There was a pause as her mate considered the question and Anna smiled because she felt Brother Wolf’s annoyance with it—apparently she was to take his word as gospel. Charles glanced in the review mirror, his knuckles paling as he gripped the wheel too tightly before he released it and sighed, “He’s not wrong very often.”

“I thought you might say that,” Anna agreed.

“Then why ask the question?”

The genuine curiosity in his tone had her smiling, despite the topic at hand, “I was hoping I’d be wrong,” Charles shook his head and Anna found herself filling the silence, “Do you suppose remembering a past life is like merging with the wolf? Finding a balance between the two lives?”

Another, longer, pause filled the Humvee and Anna left Charles to his pondering as she turned on the heat. Asil could walk barefoot through snow, but she could not. Anna seemed to mind the cold more than most wolves and it tended to leave her with numb fingers and toes. “A fair analogy, I think. Though we’d likely have to discuss it in depth with Leah to fully understand how the merging works.”

“Do you think Buffy will be the more dominate personality?”

“I think that’s already been proven.”

Anna sighed and looked out at the woods surrounding them on either side of the road. “That’s what I’m worried about.”

“You liked her.” Charles countered.

“I did,” Anna sighed before directing her gaze back to her mate, “But will Bran?”

Charles’ brows tugged together and he watched the road a little too intently for a few minutes. The silence wasn’t unpleasant, but Anna became more on edge the longer it lasted until at last Charles sighed and shook his head. “Da’s thoughts are his own. His mate is his own. He’ll do what he thinks is best.”

“Charles,” Anna countered, “That answered none of my concerns. Though it did raise more questions.”

“He had his reasons for choosing Leah as a mate.” Charles spared her a glance—which was a treasured thing since he rarely took his eyes off the road while driving—and finished, “He never saw fit to share those reasons with me. Samuel might know, but it’s doubtful.”

Anna hesitated before stating her biggest worry aloud, “Leah had better control of her wolf,” she winced at Charles’ exhale and Brother Wolf’s silence—Brother Wolf was rarely silent while not on a hunt—and questioned, “Is she a danger?”

“To my Da?” Charles’ chuckle was a dark one and Anna felt the hairs along the back of her neck rise before Charles shook his head and some of what he was feeling melted away. “It’s doubtful and he’s strong enough to keep her from affecting the rest of the pack.”

Tucking her arms in tight against her sides, Anna attempted to ward off the sudden chill in the Humvee, before asking, “Would you have to do it?” She hesitated before clarifying, “If she’s unable to learn control.”

“No,” Charles glanced at her and there was a sadness in his eyes, “He’d do it himself.”

Anna nodded before she directed her gaze towards the windshield as the first sprinkle of rain spread across it. “She’ll learn control. We’ll help her.” Anna nodded, more to herself than Charles, “I’ll help her.” She glanced back at her mate and tapped her temple, “I’m only a brain-call away.”


Charles questioned and the laughter in his voice smelled forced to Anna’s nose. She chose to ignore the white lie and embrace his change in topics. “You don’t like? How about mind to mind magic?”

They spent the rest of the drive discussing the merit and pitfalls of any name Anna could conjure for Bran’s ability to speak in the minds of others. By the time they were pulling into the long drive leading to their home Charles’ laughter was real and her cheeks ached from smiling. The Humvee came to a rocking stop and brown eyes left their study of her mate’s profile to see the crowd of cars outside of their home.

Anna recognized some of them, but three out of the seven were a mystery to her. Charles parked the Humvee behind his truck and Anna could see in the side mirror as Asil exited his vehicle with Kara not far behind. He caught her gaze in the reflection and he glanced towards Kara before lifting a shoulder. Sage stalked her way up Charles’ side of the Humvee with Tag only a few sheepish steps behind. The low set of his shoulders told Anna he wasn’t thrilled that he was there, but someone had insisted.

“Her stories are not ours to tell,” Anna informed Charles and it was enough of an order to make Brother Wolf happy.

“Agreed,” her mate murmured before opening the door and Anna followed him out into the brisk night. Together they met with their pack and together they would do their best to assuage their fears and, if Anna had her way, keep Leah’s secrets.