btvs: buffy & dawn

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

Title: Give up the Ghost
Chapter 5:Part A: ready or not
Prompt: #452 scullion @ 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.

A sleepless night had left Buffy with the usual aches and pains, but the bruising beneath her eyes had been dealt with using Leah’s stash of cosmetics and a deft hand. Buffy wasn’t sure if the skill had come from her extensive knowledge of how to cover a shiner or Leah’s need to always look her best. Regardless, she’d gotten the job done with little fuss and somehow managed to make herself appear well rested—makeup, in the right hands, was more powerful than magic.

Her hair, however, had been a process. The sheer amount of time she’d spent with the hairdryer meant she was stylist bound the very next chance she got. Leah had kept it long because Bran liked it that way, but Buffy thought her opinion mattered a whole hell of a lot more than Bran’s when it came to how she looked. She just had to play nice with Sage to talk her into divulging where she went to get her hair done, all snippiness aside, Sage had fantastic hair. The trick would be convincing the other wolf to do something her alpha wouldn’t like and that Buffy was doing it for practical reasons—not out of spite.

For now her hair was draped over her shoulder in a fishtail braid. It’d been Leah’s knowhow that had gotten it done, knotted hair and frustration had always come from her own attempts, but Leah had lived in a time when waking in the predawn hours with barely a light to guide her was the norm. Buffy had found her fingers moving of their own accord once she’d settled on the style.

Raiding the closet had been next on that morning’s agenda and after dressing Buffy had been left with several neatly folded piles of donation ready clothes. Most of Leah’s wardrobe was salvageable, but nothing was going to get her back into the tracksuits she, apparently, owned in abundance. It was time she stopped dressing as if she were Bran’s mother. If he wanted to play the eternal teenager she’d do her best to make it look as if he was dating out of his league rather than out of his age group and something about that left her feeling smug.

Layering a light denim shirt over dark skinny jeans was not something Leah would’ve attempted and Buffy had paired the ensemble with ankle boots and a burgundy scarf. She’d taken a moment to search a few fashion websites before getting into the shower that morning. The times had changed outside of Aspen Creek and she intended to keep up with them from that moment forward. She was also well aware that she was focusing on the inconsequential to distract herself from the constant presence of the beast in her gut and Bran in her head.

She needed—not wanted—his control to keep that snarling part of her under control, but his beast might’ve taken too keen an interest in her own. The part of her that was all Leah was thrilled by the prospect that their mate was noticing them, but also pissed that it’d taken him this long and a crisis to give a damn. Her irritation only fed her beast and Buffy adjusted her earrings before leaving the relative safety of the bedroom in search of her mate since closer proximity tended to help—even when she was annoyed with him.

The scent of bacon drew her down the hall and towards the kitchen. Bran hadn’t been awake as long as her, but she’d heard him puttering around when she’d gotten out of the shower. She found him in the center of the kitchen. It had always been his domain, which is why she’d taken such petty joy in tossing him from it last night, and Buffy had the oddest sensation that she wasn’t welcome. Her chin lifted, shoulders rolling back as she forced her way past that inkling and herself into the kitchen. That seemed to settle her beast—who welcomed all challengers. Including her mate.

Bran’s back was to her and his nicely shaped shoulders were covered by a threadbare t-shirt that might’ve been navy at one time, but had long ago faded to grey. The seams had paled to white from too many washes and his bare feet scrapped over the stone floor as he turned around and the sight of his face, even pinched in concentration, made her stomach knot. Buffy glanced down at his chest, choosing for the moment to ignore his annoyingly good looks, and noticed that there had been writing on the front of the shirt at one time, but they’d been worn to just indents in the fabric.

“Help yourself.” He took her in with one quick sweep of his gaze before he motioned to the plate of bacon already on the counter. “You need to eat.”

“Have I ever told you what a turn on it is when you order me around?” Buffy inquired as she finished making her way to the island at the center of the kitchen.

Pale eyes narrowed and she raised a brow in answer to that challenge before Bran sighed, “Do I need to teach you how to smell a lie? Again?”

“Do you need to relearn sarcasm?” Buffy smirked and accepted the invitation of bacon since she was hungry and not because he’d ordered it. Bran shook his head and went back to the griddle taking up half the stovetop. Snagging a crispy piece Buffy inclined her head at the oddly shaped pancakes Bran was making before offering, “Need any help?”

He glanced back at her and Buffy noticed he hadn’t bothered to shave that morning. “The potatoes need peeling.”

“I’m back to scullery work already?” She crunched her way through the slice of bacon as she made her way over to the stove to retrieve the peeler before dragging out the trashcan.

“I liked your lasagna,” Bran offered and her brows rose, but he finished the thought with, “I just can’t trust you with pancakes again.”

“One little fire,” Buffy sighed.

“One little kitchen remodel.” Bran countered.

She scoffed to cover her snort of amusement before snagging herself another piece of bacon and munching as she gathered the freshly washed potatoes from the sink. “Are you making hash?”

“Home fries,” Bran looked back at her, “I can make hash for dinner.”

Buffy stiffened with the offer, but saw through the ruse. “Intending for us to be talking all day again, do you?”

“You’ve got a lifetime worth of stories to share,” Bran turned back to the stove and what looked like Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes.

“Over several days,” Buffy countered as she began short, sure strokes to remove the skin from the potato. “As we discussed last night.”

“Careful,” he stated, his back still to her, “You lost the tip of your finger the last time you used a peeler.”

“It was the tip of my nail and a little bit of skin,” Buffy huffed and returned to her peeling. Leah would’ve put up a fuss at being given a task which would’ve distracted her, but Buffy was nearly certain the accident Bran spoke of had been on purpose. They worked in relative silence for the next several minutes as Buffy made her way steadily through the potatoes with one of the songs she’d been listening to the day before stuck in her head.

Charles and Anna were going to pick up Dawn and Illyria on their way to Bran’s for breakfast. She’d been told as much through the door of her bedroom while she got dressed and she was starting to regret her choice in attire since the scarf kept falling into her way. Since it was the statement piece of the ensemble she refrained from removing it and instead worked around it, but kept a careful eye on her finger placement.

“What are you humming?”

Buffy blinked, confused by the intrusion on her menial task and she glanced up to see Bran plating what looked to be his forth batch of pancakes. “Huh?”

He added more batter to the griddle and questioned, “You’re humming. What song is it?”

“You wouldn’t like it,” Buffy assured him and went back to peeling the potatoes, “It’s from this decade.”

“Try me.”

She raised a brow at her own hands and then realized Bran couldn’t see it so she presented him with her bemused expression. “You want me to sing?”

He watched the bubbling of one of the pancakes a moment before stating, “Why not?”

“Because you’ve made it abundantly clear over the years that I can’t sing.”

“You can sing,” Bran countered and flipped the rest of the pancakes before turning around so that he could see her fully as he finished, “You just can’t sing the songs you choose to sing.”

The other brow rose to meet its sister and Buffy simply stared at him. He crossed his arms—which made him look utterly ridiculous with his batter-covered spatula—and leaned against the counter as if he had all the time in the world. “Your pancakes will burn.”

Your pancakes would burn.” Bran countered.

Thrusting her bottom jaw forward and narrowing her eyes, Buffy glared at Bran while he continued to watch her, but the crunch of tires over slush stopped her from having to retort. Bran glanced towards the front of the house before shaking his head and Buffy got the nagging suspicion he thought her a coward. Hurt pride and the fact that she knew he wouldn’t like her musical choice gave her the gumption to sing the first verse, “So much pressure, why so loud? If you don’t like my sound you can turn it down.

Bran spun back around, his gaze wide and a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth so she continued with only a little hitch in her breath. She saw his brows pinch with her use of the phrase ‘braggadocios’, which made her smile and through their bond she felt encouragement, but mostly amusement.

It gave her the courage to continue when the front door opened and, unsurprisingly, it was Anna that slipped easily into the song with her on the chorus. “I still fall on my face sometimes and I, can’t color inside the lines. Cause I’m perfectly incomplete. I’m still working on my masterpiece.

Bran’s enjoyment with the melody—if perhaps not the song—and her had Buffy blushing and she chose to then to stop. Anna settled herself beside her bundled warmer than most wolves against the cool weather outside and Buffy shared a smile with her while Dawn watched them. “This group sings a lot,” she offered as explanation while Anna busied herself removing her coat.

“It’s not that,” Dawn shook her head, “It just that I don’t think I’ve heard you sing since Sweet.”

“Let’s save the singing demons talk for after breakfast.” Buffy looked to Bran and narrowed her eyes, but masked the challenge with a question, “How do want these cut up?”

His brow rose—he’d caught the challenge regardless—and he returned to his pancakes to remove the current batch from the griddle before he turned back around. His head inclined as he studied the twelve freshly peeled potatoes a moment before finally settling on, “Cubed. About the width of your thumb.”

Buffy nodded her agreement as the fine hairs along the back of her neck rose and her beast reminded her of it’s presence with a tugging in her stomach as Illyria entered the kitchen. Buffy tracked her out of the corner of her eye as the Old One made her way through the room and took a place the dining table. A growl vibrated her sternum and it startled Buffy to realize it was her own and that she did not like having Illyria directly at her back. Buffy felt Anna’s hand cup her elbow as Charles made his way through the kitchen to settle himself between the two rooms—apparently she wasn’t the only one feeling uneasy about Illyria.

The Old One had chosen Dawn’s seat from the previous day, Buffy was surprised she hadn’t claimed Bran’s, but that seat allowed her an uninterrupted view of the kitchen and its occupants. Perhaps the wolves weren’t the only ones who were uneasy, but Illyria had always been hard to read. Buffy caught Charles’ gaze and nodded to him. He appeared, at first, surprised by her gratitude—if the slight widening of his gaze was anything to go by—before he inclined his head in acknowledgement.

The movement reminded Buffy that her stepson’s face was all sharp angles and cheekbones. Leah had always feared Charles—unable to see him as anything other than his father’s monster—but Buffy had once been the thing monsters feared and Charles didn’t strike her as all that frightening anymore. Anna’s touch drew her back from one too many epiphanies and she could see the Omega studying her with open curiosity.

Buffy extracted her arm from Anna’s grip with an encouraging smile, it was returned, and she looked to Dawn, taking in her oversized sweater and jeans, before making her way to the sink to drop off the peeler. Bran, who had been watching their interactions, returned to griddle and added more pancake batter as she retrieved a knife and a cutting board from the cabinets.

Anna made her way closer to Charles as Buffy returned to the potatoes and caught Dawn’s gaze. “You changed your clothes?”

“I do that,” Dawn agreed, “I’m known for it actually.”

Bran’s lips quirked and Buffy could feel his amusement with the fact that someone was giving her the sarcastic treatment—he’d learn soon enough that it was a family trait. “I mean. You didn’t have luggage with you last night.”

“Magic,” Dawn wiggled her fingers in front of her, “It’s a simple enough spell that involves pocket dimensions and my blood.”

Fear tightened her chest as her heart surged to life in a tempo that stole her breath. Buffy bowed her head as she allowed the memories of Glory, a bleeding Dawn and a leap that ended to her life to pass through her. She tried her best not to hold onto any particular memory as she’d done a few times last night. Holding onto them led to panic attacks while her beast rose to protect her from the past. They’d started with nightmares, but stuck around during the light of day.

She’d lost time because Bran was suddenly beside her and his arms wrapped around her. He pressed her head to his chest and she listed to his heart beat a similar rhythm against her ear. She realized, belatedly, he was still getting an echo of her emotions. Bran was clever enough to have thinned their connection after the first onslaught, but he wasn’t immune to them. Good, and just a little satisfying, to know.

Buffy inhaled the scent of burning. Her nose wrinkled as she watched Anna make her way to the stove, but it was too late. A smile tugged at the corner of her mouth as Buffy reminded Bran, “What was that about me burning pancakes?”

Irritation churned in the connection between them before relief with her wellbeing won out. A snarl reminded her, even while Bran held her, that her beast was awake and clamoring for her attention. Buffy attempted to calm it by focusing on Dawn, since she was one thing they were in complete agreement about, and studied her little sister as carefully as the others had been watching her.

She looked tired, Buffy decided, as Dawn returned her careful study with one of her own before blue eyes widened, the pieces falling into place. “My magic is fueled by my blood. The more powerful the spell the more blood I have to spill.”

“I don’t like that,” Buffy sighed, settling deeper into Bran’s arms as agitation with that admission drew her beast closer to the surface.

“I didn’t think you would,” Dawn agreed and the smile she offered the room was wistful, “It’s been a good long while since someone cared that much.”

Anna, her head still down as she removed burnt batter from the griddle, offered, “It sounds like you’ve been keeping the wrong kind of company.”

Buffy caught the quirking of Charles’ mouth while Bran’s arms tightened around her since Anna was insulting Illyria. Buffy had given him some background on the Old One last night and she knew it disturbed him that she smelled entirely human while making their wolves protest her close proximity.

“Why don’t we eat?” Charles questioned from his placement between the two rooms. “I have a feeling this going to be another long day.”

“Agreed,” Bran ordered and pressed his lips to the crown of her head, Buffy was entirely certain he’d realized he’d done it, before returning to the stove, “I need to finish the pancakes and get the potatoes in the oven.”

Dawn’s brows rose and she glanced at the food already present on the island. “Are you feeding an army?”

“We wolves eat a lot,” Anna offered as she took over for Buffy and began cutting up the potatoes, “It has to do with our high metabolism.”

“Slayers had the same issue,” Dawn looked at Buffy, “This is actually the healthiest weight I’ve seen you at since high school.”

A quirked brow was her only response to that statement before Buffy snagged another piece of crispy bacon for her and a chewier piece for Dawn. Little sister might’ve whined the previous day about her raw beef consumption, but she’d always liked her meat underdone. It had led to many an upset stomach during her formative years. Dawn accepted the strip and took a bite that made her hum in happiness. “I haven’t had bacon in what feels like ages.”

“Not since before our travels. Seventy-four years to be exact,” Illyria stated from her place at that table. Buffy paused mid-chew with that admission and Illyria expanded on the statement when she realized she had the room’s attention and Dawn’s glare focused on her. “Though not precise. I have been informed that stating the exact duration of time is off-putting.” Her head inclined and her eyes narrowed on Dawn, but the next statement was directed towards Buffy, “Her sentiment for you kept us going. Dimension to dimension. There was no time to tire of a world before we moved on.”

Buffy looked to Dawn aghast. Quickly, she finished the bite, but winced when the half-masticated piece of bacon when down a bit painfully before she questioned, “Seventy-four years? Dawn, you searched for me for seventy-four years?”

Dawn stared at her with wide eyes before she swallowed her own bite. “I had nothing better to do?” was paired with a weak shrug.

“Why?” Buffy shook her head, “Why would you waste your life?”

“Stop! Stop right there.” Dawn snapped and stepped forward to invade Buffy’s personal space as Anna backed up to make room for her. “You are worth a thousand years of searching! You’re my family. You’re all I have left.”

The sadness in Dawn’s admission brought a whine up from Buffy’s chest and it tumbled out her throat. Dawn caught the hand closet to her, bacon and all, and clutched it while she assured her, “You would’ve done the same.”

“Irregardless,” Illyria interrupted their moment, “Once the journey had begun the only end was you.” Buffy and Dawn turned in unison to see Illyria incline her head. Her brow rose as she in turn studied them, “You were our destination. You are why we exist in this world now.”

“Disappointed?” Buffy questioned.

Her gaze took in the rest of the room’s occupants. “You have told your king of me?”

She nodded. “The cliff notes version.”

Her mouth quirked and it brought Buffy forward, in front of Dawn, as Illyria rose and her human façade collapsed. Her flesh paled, marbling with fissures of blue and silver as her hair straightened and became as patch-worked as the rest of her. Drawing on her memories of communicating with Willow via mind to mind Buffy shared with Bran, “It’s as hard as it looks,” and felt his confusion with her ability and then his worry with the admission. Ash was the strongest scent Buffy could decipher before her armor absorbed her clothing, leaching its way forward to cover her from fingers to toes and it held a musty scent filled with old blood and more visceral things.

She smelt of war—and Buffy wasn’t sure if that thought was hers or Bran’s.

There was an ache in her bones and the beast within snarled to life as Illyria’s gaze locked with Buffy’s. The fixed pupils had always reminded her of something reptilian while her movements were as awkward as a bird on land. Battle was Illyria’s sky. It was her grace and Buffy felt something settle with the knowledge that the same was true for her.

Illyria smiled, her teeth bared in challenge, but saw Buffy’s understanding and accepted it. Charles moved between them—he sensed their battle to come—and the gold in his gaze told Buffy he wasn’t as unaffected as his scent made him appear. Bran was a storm at her back and Anna placed herself beside Buffy, but didn’t attempt to touch her or quell her beast. Something told Buffy that was Charles’ doing as well.

“The gloves are off?” Buffy questioned and her beast added a growled edge to the words.

“Indeed,” Illyria’s gaze turned to Bran and Buffy braced herself for his wrath since Illyria’s comments tended to be geared towards the derogatory, “I require sustenance and enjoy pancakes. Are they ready?”

Buffy blinked and then frowned, “Huh,” was her only reply because, apparently, even Old Ones could learn new tricks.
Oh I love this so much. Buffy and Bran renegotiating their relationship and Buffy and Dawn reconnecting and just everything. I find how Bran views the situation and how Buffy views it to be really interesting, and now I'm really intrigued by how Dawn sees everything that's happening. Great chapter and I can't wait to see what happens next!
I'm glad you enjoyed it! I have to flesh it out some more because I was under time constrants to get this scene done for the prompt, but I'm glad the bones are good. :) Dawn and Anna will likely have the most keen insights into the group dynamics. They're the outsiders in the strictest sense and Charles is Anna's tie to the pack (outside the pack bonds) and Buffy is Dawn's.

I feel like Bran and Dawn need to have a conversation soon(ish) in this story and something tells me neither one of them is going to like the other very much.
So will you be fleshing out this scene in particular (what's posted here) or will it be fleshed out in further parts?

Oh man, that conversation with Bran and Dawn is going to be a harsh one. Dawn probably blames him for what Buffy turned into and Bran blames Dawn for changing his mate and what that could mean for him. *grabs popcorn*
This scene in particular. I'm a big fan of completing a scene and then giving it a cool down period before I edit, but I completed this Saturday evening so the cool down didn't happen. I think the back half needs the most fleshing out since that's what I was working on Saturday.

Those two definitely don't hold punches and a teenage Dawn boldly threatened Spike. This Dawn is older, more powerful and pretty much gives no fucks when it comes to her sister's wellbeing. Bran is in for rude awakening if he thinks he can dominate her. Should be interesting. :D