Next Life

By Ariel Dawn

Summary: At the Hyperion

Disclaimer: Buffy, Spike and the Original Scoobies aren’t mine. All their kids...you bet.

Thanks once again to the great and wonderful BTL for the betaing!

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Chapter 9: Perspective

Bianca turned to Angel the moment the phone was hung up. He would chain her up in the basement if he needed to. There was no point of running away. And the truth be told, she didn’t really want to run anymore. Maria was smiling at her from the lobby couch, it was all so suffocating, and she couldn’t do a thing about it.

She liked the hotel that Grandpa Angel lived in, and she was never there long enough to have any other impression than that. It was new, foreign, not a child friendly place, despite the fact that Bianca knew that there was a six year old somewhere in the hotel.

That six year old, wherever she was, she was going to have major issues with her family when she got to be a teenager too.

Bianca cast a glance up at the second floor balcony, pondering just what the world had in store for everyone she called family.

“You can go up and talk to her if you want,” Maria suggested. “Stephanie and her Aunty Dru are having a tea party.”

Bianca looked back at Maria with wide eyes, wondering just how she knew what she was thinking.

“It’s almost time for the tea party to stop anyway,” noted Connor. “She’s got Day camp in the morning.”

Bianca nodded and followed the married couple. Silently, Connor, Maria, and Bianca headed up the stairs,. At least, Bianca thought, she got to grow up in a house where people talked, made noise or something The hotel was almost eerily quiet. Somewhere on the third floor, Bianca was finally ushered into Stephanie’s room, completely covered in pink and plush and glitter. It was every six year old girl’s dream bedroom, complete with bed that looked like a castle. Oh, no, she wasn’t spoiled at all.

Sitting in the middle of the room, wearing tiaras, and sipping tea that looked suspiciously like red koolaid, sat a little girl with brown eyes and blond hair and an older woman that Bianca would never, ever forget.

The raven haired woman turned around the moment the door opened, and smiled at Bianca.

“Baby Graves, all pretty for the funeral!” Drusilla cooed, clasping her hands together. “Broke through the wires and fluttered free. Too bad about the old human though, he would have liked to taken you to the show.”

“The show would have been nice,” Stephanie concurred. “All the pretty skaters.”

“Uh, hi?” Bianca greeted her cousin and grandmother. She had never seen Stephanie, but she had an inkling now that the girl was slightly touched in the head. “The show?” Bianca turned to Maria and Connor for some explanation. They just shrugged.

There was an exaggerated sigh from the tiara wearing child. “The show, the ice show? Bianca’s Grandpa Summers always took Aunty Buffy to the ice show. ‘Cause he’s out of town, he couldn’t take Bianca,” Stephanie explained, completely sane and grownup like. “It is nice to finally meet you.”

“Likewise,” Bianca managed to say without making an ass of herself, wondering how Stephanie could go from insane talk to sounding like a grownup in a split second.

Stephanie got up from her table and took off her tiara, handing it to Drusilla. “I trust your sister is well?”

“Uh, last I saw of her, she was fine,” Bianca replied as she watched Stephanie walk to a set of drawers and start to take out pyjamas.

“Excellent. Mommy? Can I have a glass of milk before I go to bed?”

“Put on your jammies and you can run downstairs and ask Grandpa to get one for you,” Maria replied.

Stephanie nodded and took out a pair of pink underwear from another drawer.

Maria turned and lead the group out of the child’s room, and suggested that they find Bianca an empty room to sleep in tonight.

“The coffin’s right for her!” Drusilla giggled as she ghosted down the carpeted hallway.

“I’m not sleeping in a coffin!” the teen hissed.

Connor laughed. “I wouldn’t expect you to. We live in hotel, there’s room for you. You could probably just hide here until your mother comes for you.”

“Don’t give her ideas,” Maria whispered, suddenly quiet.

“Does that mean I am going to?” Bianca asked, turning to face the seer.

“Now look what you’ve started,” Maria accused her husband.

It was funny how the seer didn’t seem at all jovial. Like a sadness had passed over her, she was calm and sombre.

“I’ll get you a pair of my pyjamas, for tonight,” Maria continued, attempting a smile, before heading off in another direction.

Bianca turned to Connor. “Did I say something wrong?” she asked.

Connor shook his head. “It’s not your fault, kid. She probably just got a vision. Sometimes they aren’t so happy looking. She’s got a lot to deal with, you know? She usually handles it all so well, but sometimes, especially when it’s to do with family, err, our family, the people she loves and cares about, she’s not able to deal as well. Especially when she knows she can’t change it.”

“Must really suck.”

Connor just nodded.

“Daddy?” called Stephanie’s voice, appearing behind them and now in her pyjamas. “I’m ready for my milk.”

Connor stepped aside, giving an opening for his daughter to pass them. The little girl, treaded softly down the carpeted hall in bunny slippers and carrying a doll that looked like it had been taken out of a museum.

“Are you worried about her?” Bianca had to ask after the little girl was safely down the stairs. “You know, of wanting a normal life?”

Connor laughed. “Stephanie has her own way of dealing with the weird. It’s entirely possible that she’s not one hundred percent normal anyway.”

Maria returned at that moment with pyjamas for Bianca and led to her a room.

The door wasn’t locked, but Bianca felt like she was locked in anyway. She wasn’t at all tired, having slept on the bus, but she got into the pjs anyway, and crawled into the bed. She spent some time staring at the ceiling wondering just how mad her parents were, wondering if really she was just over reacting to her sucky life, and wondering if Diane knew just how sorry she was that she was dead.

Some time in the night, she must have drifted off, because she was asleep when she heard screaming, growling, and banging outside her door.

With a quick jump and a little scurry, Bianca was against the window, as far away from the door as she could get, her eyes wide and looking everywhere for somewhere else to go. She eyed the bed, but pushed that idea aside. Even the friendly firemen who’d come to her school when she was seven had told her that you shouldn’t hide under the bed.

And probably whatever it was that was screaming, and now clawing its way through her door could smell her.

TJ had once told her of how Uncle Oz had had a really bad reaction to a spell Aunty Willow had done, and how he’d accidentally turned into a werewolf while it was still daylight. Bianca imagined it was a werewolf outside her door, maybe with someone being mauled trying to defend her.

But then the screaming stopped, and the laughing started, laughter that was so hysterical, it could only come from Grandma Dru.

Bianca breathed a sigh of relief. Grandma Dru was dangerous, but not while she was in the hotel.

The growling stopped with a whimper, and the scratching noise faded into the background.

Silently, Bianca padded to the peep hole of the door, and looked out, finding no source of the laughter that was still sounding through the door.

“Do you always let hellhounds into the hotel?” her mother’s voice cut through the laughter.

“The nice doggy wanted to play,” Grandma Dru said seriously. “No one to play with me, not tonight.”

“Yeah, whatever, Dru. Where’s Bianca? And why is no one here?”

“Off to fight the beasties,” Dru sang, before starting to thump against the wall. “Such a bad boy, my Angel. He should be causing a beautiful mess. Wrong!”

“And you wonder why we don’t visit here more often,” Buffy sighed. “Dru? Bianca?”

“Been listening in, she has,” said the vampire, and Bianca forced herself to open the door, finding Drusilla on one side of the doorway and her mother on the other.

“Hey, Mom,” Bianca said overly cheerfully.

“Don’t ‘hey mom’ me, you, you runnaway-er.”

“Wow, way to be articulate,” Bianca replied,.

“It’s three in the morning, and I just got off a plane. And there’s no one sane here, to tell me where everyone is.”

Bianca gulped. “They’re all gone?”

Drusilla nodded. “I’m to scare away the rabbits. But not answer the phones!” she giggled like it was a big joke.

“They’re probably out on patrol, or something came up,” Buffy interpreted.

Bianca nodded. In a few minutes, Buffy had brought up her bag and had followed Bianca back into her room.

“I guess you aren’t letting me out of your sight again?” Bianca sighed.

“At least until the fall term starts,” was Buffy’s reply. “Just be glad that your father has an allergy to sunlight or he’d be stalking you at school too.”

Bianca cringed, it was too true.

Bianca settled down into bed and waited until her mother got into bed beside her.

“I was really worried,” Buffy admitted sadly, “and that’s saying something. You’re my baby. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

“I thought Rowan was the baby,” Bianca tried to joke.

“No, it’s different, you’re the first one, you’re the normal special one. I have a feeling I won’t have normal kids very often.” Buffy smiled in the darkness.

“I’m not special,” Bianca said wisely, thinking back to what Maria had told her before.

“No, again, me with the disagreeing. You are special. Normal, but special.”

“Not going to be a potential.”

“No.”

“Not going to be a watcher.”

“Not if you don’t want to.”

“Not going to be a Scooby.”

“Again, your choice, but don’t say that to Andrew, he might have a coronary.”

“Deal.”

Twenty four hours later, Bianca decided she wanted to be a flight attendant.

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Niki,

Sorry I haven’t replied to your last email. I’ve just been going through stuff. Yeah, I know, self involved. It’s a Summers trait, Da says. Just be glad you don’t have that gene pool working for you. How’s London? I bet you’re getting in some excellent shopping. You have to send me a kick ass present for my birthday. Only a month and two weeks away! You can rest assured that I will be mature and responsible starting on my 15th birthday. *snort* Whatever.

I do have some bad news, or rather, I think you’ll think it’s bad news. I’m not a potential. I’m normal, boring old me. I won’t be taking slayer training in England after all. Sorry. I know you’ll be disappointed. But you’ll come back. Mom says that you will, when your training is over. She acts like she’s scared for you to come back. But I wouldn’t worry. She’s still worrying about that stupid prophecy on the fridge.

You know I ran away right? Before school started. Well let me tell you that you DON’T want to have to go live in LA. Grandpa Angel has his hands full with Grandma Drusilla. OMG, she’s so wacky. She tried clawing her way into my room.

I started school last week, Ashley says hi, and Ismail, he’s totally pining after you. You’d better send him an email and let him down gently. Weird, how you were never interested in him and yet, he’s totally moping. Mrs. Cane is my homeroom teacher, I’m going to barf if she talks about composting one more time.

Oh, crap, g2g, Da’s yelling at me to get off the ‘puter,

Ttys!

B

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