All I Really Need Is A Song In My Heart by
Summary: Epilogue to Blame Canada
Spoilers: None specified.
Notes: Let's all have a big hand for Gileswench, who goaded, prodded and dragged me kicking and screaming to the end of this process---it was her birthday (and plotbunny) that started this all :-) Lova ya, babe. And to Ness, Cerian and AngelChase, among others, for their loyal and regular feedback---love you too! I promised you a happy ending. Hope you enjoyed the ride.
Summers dropped her suitcase on the lawn and skipped
up the driveway.
"Dawn, are you there?"
Her sister raced out the front door and flew into her arms. "Buffy, you're back! Where's Giles?"
"Paying the taxi driver. Why, did you miss him?"
"Of course! But Buffy, tell him to hurry up, we have a surprise for you."
Her eyes narrowed. "You do?"
It was then she noticed a smirking Xander watching them from the entryway. "What have you guys been up to? This isn't another puppy, is it?"
"Giles!" squealed Dawn. She cornered the watcher in a giant bear hug. "You're back!"
He smiled and returned the hug as best he could. "You'd think we'd been gone an eternity," he teased.
"Well, a lot can happen in two weeks."
He looked briefly alarmed. "What, is there another puppy?"
"No, Alamo's fine, just come inside!"
Buffy was already inside and skimming through the mail. "Bills, bills...hey, check out the fancy paper with the L.A. postmark," she showed Giles. "What's THAT about? Somebody getting married?"
"No, it's about the baby," said Dawn. "We can talk about that later."
"God, don't you ever check your email? Come downstairs, already! Xander, come show them!"
Buffy shook her head. "Not so fast. I want to know what's going on here."
"Well, having Willow and Tara staying here again..." began Dawn.
"Well, I'd really missed them. I like having them around. And you know, it really does make sense a little. I mean, you'll still have to go to L.A. from time to time, and it's kind of inconvenient to have them coming and going like that and living out of suitcases, when they could just be...like they used to, you know? Here."
"We talked about this. Dawnie, there's just no space! I mean, I guess they could have my old room, but five adults and one shower? And we'd have NO privacy..."
Dawn grinned broadly. "Just come downstairs..."
Buffy and Giles traded glances, then followed Dawn and Xander into the basement.
It had been transformed: the floor had been lined with a warm, even tile, and the walls painted a pale creamy yellow. On the far end, the still-exposed plumbing had impeded renovation, so the salvage from what had to be a massive cleaning-out of all the junk they had stashed in the basement over the years had been neatly relegated to that side of the room and stacked neatly between the bumps of piping. But the other half...
Xander and his construction buddies had clearly been busy. He'd put the miniature apartment on a small raised platform to screen it off a little and make it warm and comfortable. There was a bed, some built-in shelving, and two free-standing open-concept walls that sectioned off a tiny bathroom, complete with shower unit.
"Tito the amazing really was...amazing," said Xander, fingering the shower nozzle proudly. "This won't interfere with the one upstairs."
Buffy was speechless. "Xander, it's..."
"They're in L.A. right now helping Lorne and Kate get ready for tomorrow," said Dawn. "But they've already moved back in, I knew you wouldn't mind."
"I don't. I mean, not if it's like this! This is...wait, what's happening tomorrow in L.A.?"
"I'll fill you in while you're making me pancakes for breakfast. So you like this? Privacy AND Willow and Tara and happy times for everyone?"
"It's beautiful," said Buffy.
"And of course, they still get kitchen and living room rights," said Dawn. "This just lets 'em have a little privacy and stuff. And their own bathroom. You guys still have to share with me."
"We'll manage," said Giles. Then, to Xander, he said "It's lovely. Thank you."
"We can make the extra bedroom an office or something," said Dawn. "Whatever you want. I'll just need a day or so to clear out Alamo's stuff."
"Hey, it's been two weeks..."
"Now," said Buffy, wisely choosing to ignore that opening. "What was this you said about a baby?
Cordelia flew into the Hyperion and dumped her school bag on the floor.
"I have a job!" she squealed.
Angel shoved aside his newspaper.
"A job! Well, besides this one."
"Cor, that's...what kind of job?"
"Well, I told you how Professor Mel's been picking on me, right? The Television News Reporting instructor? The one who accused me of being a failed actress using journalism as a last-ditch effort to get my face on TV?"
"Well, he said that to everyone, didn't he? Not you specifically..."
"So? He's a jerk and a prick and he was really giving it to me today because I accidentally edited out the background sound on my E.N.G. which was SO not my fault, by the way..."
He sighed. "Cordy, the job?"
"Right. Anyway, who should overhear this tirade of eviltude but Lynne Ivany...and do you know what she told me?"
"That's he's RIGHT, Angel. That I really shouldn't be in television journalism...because I am a natural for radio."
"Apparently I have just the voice for it, and in her words, a personality that just SCREAMS personality. And it turns out this station she freelances for has an opening for a call-in radio show gig that they've had trouble filling because it's Friday night from midnight to 6 am. I could so do that! Cause, hey, vampire hours, right? And we're usually done the big nasty by midnight, right? Ewww, that came out wrong. Well, you know what I mean, the visions and the big bads and the scooby summits, and it's only once a week, and they're paying me, AND I get class credit!"
Angel frowned. "A radio show?"
"Good evening L.A., banter, banter, banter, our topic tonight is, banter, banter, banter, then taking callers and mixing in the bits of music and chitchat and stuff to fill out rest of it. Oh, and a cool nickname!"
"Well, I'll be a personality, see. Like Rockin' Rick? Or Bulldog Dan? You never use your REAL name because there could be psycho stalkers out there."
"Oh," said Angel flatly. "Great."
"Anyway, we were talking about what I could use and she was practically drooling when she found out about you. Cause this is the CITY of Angels, see, and your NAME is Angel..."
"Right. How convenient."
"...and that's bound to come up on-air, what with all the banter...so that's my tag. For KTLX, City of Angels, this is Chase, your ace, in the arms of HER Angel. Isn't that just...the coolest?"
He gave her an indulgent hug. "Of course."
"So how was YOUR day? Anything exciting happen?"
He pulled out of her embrace with a sly smile. "Actually, yes."
"I was doing some cleaning," he said. "And I heard some funny noises coming from your old bedroom."
"Funny? Funny how?"
"Well, if I didn't know any better..." He paused suspensefully. "I'd say that Phantom Dennis has himself a new Phantom Girlfriend."
"Sure sounded that way to me."
She frowned. "But that would mean we have another ghost in here. And you can't get a ghost unless somebody's..." Her eyes widened. "Oh my god...Phantom Jenny?"
The wall thumped once in smug acknowledgement
They left Sunnydale first thing in the morning.
"I still can't believe this is happening," said Buffy. "Lorne and Kate..."
"It should be rather fascinating," said Giles. "I have never seen a Pylean adoption ceremony before."
"Cause you don't know any Pyleans," said Buffy, rolling her eyes. "Or at least, none that have adopted 'til now. So Dawn, they just came back from China with a baby?"
"God, you really don't read your email. Kate's really embraced the normal life," said Dawn. "She quit the Sunnydale PD right after you left, and was on the road to L.A. the next morning. They went to Asia to find themselves."
"Looks like they found someone else entirely," observed Giles.
Dawn's eyes widened. "Giles! You cracked a joke!"
"It appears I did. Shall I spoil it by saying something educational about the marvelous cultural opportunity we will be having? Well, then. Looks like we're here..."
They climbed out of the car and stepped into the Hyperion, momentarily taken aback by the transformation: the spare lobby had been temporarily cleared of AI's files and office detritus and festooned with bright decoration---orange and red balloons, silver streamers and all manner of glittery embellishment. At one end stood Gunn, the designated food person, fiddling with a lavish buffet table. At the other end stood Cordelia, the designated camera person, who was filming the non-demon parts as an assignment for her video editing class. And in the middle of the lobby, as proud centerpiece, stood a giant hot tub.
"Huh?" goggled Buffy. "Is that what it looks like it is?"
"Yup," said Willow, sneaking in from the office behind them. "Baptism, Pylean style: the baby is bonded with her new parents by taking on their essences."
Dawn squinted. "Essences?"
"Lorne and Kate spent the night in that," Willow explained. "The water is saturated with...well, them. So at the end of the ceremony, we dunk the baby..."
"Ewwww!" winced Dawn.
"It sounds lovely," said Giles, glaring warningly at Dawn.
"I hope so. I'm the one whose supposed to hold her down there. It would kind of ruin it if I accidentally drowned the little thing..."
"Speaking of," said Dawn impatiently. "Where IS the baby?"
"In seclusion with the high priestesses, of course," said Willow with a modest bow.
"You guys?" squeaked Dawn. "I thought you were just helping them set up the food! Not that you don't have it under control," she called to Gunn.
"We thought so too," said Willow. "But we had a little trouble finding a Pylean high priestess to officiate, for obvious reasons. And can you imagine asking a human priest to officiate at the adoption of a Chinese baby by a white human mother and a green demon father?"
"I see your point," said Buffy with a smile. "But you can't tell me you aren't getting a kick out of playing wiccan priestess for the day."
"For the day? Buffy, we're, like, her godparents or something. Lorne and Kate are taking this VERY seriously."
"First-time parents," said Dawn. "Figures."
The door clanged open as Xander, Anya and Wesley finally arrived.
"Wow," said Xander. "Nice spread."
"You should be taking notes," said Anya. "For when we have babies. So we can do it like this."
"Not now," she said, rolling her eyes. "You can commence breathing again."
"A good idea," said an amused voice behind them. "Wouldn't want you to pass out or anything and ruin my baby's naming ceremony."
A positively glowing Kate stepped serenely into the midst of the gathering.
"Uh, no," stammered Xander. "I wouldn't...I mean..."
"We're all quite pleased for you," translated Giles. "And happy to be here."
"And some of us, for personal reasons, even," teased Buffy. "I swear, if I hear one more word about the marvelous opportunity we will all be having to witness a genuine Pylean ritual..."
Kate smiled. "Enjoy it, Giles, as it will be the only Pylean ritual you ever see. I swear, this is the only pleasant thing Lorne's culture has ever produced, besides him, of course. Are we ready?"
Amidst scattered nods, Willow disappeared to track down Lorne and Tara while Kate organized the rest of them.
"Semi-circle, around the hot tub," Kate explained. "Angel, Cordelia...okay, now Wesley, Gunn, Buffy, okay, and Giles and Dawn on this side, and Xander, Anya over here..."
Lorne stepped softly into place behind her. "You ready?" he said.
Kate nodded. "Let's do it..."
All eyes turned to the grand staircase, where Tara appeared with a small bundle in her arms. She stopped at the foot of the tub, and with Willow's help, unwrapped the baby.
The infant was clothed only in a diaper, and Tara cuddled her gently, beckoning Lorne and Kate to her side. With solemn ceremony, the two parents each grabbed a tiny hand.
"We conduct this naming ceremony according to ancient Pylean custom," began Willow. "Dating from the olden days, when those captured in battle would join the clan who took them. I think the metaphor is obvious, people."
"Love's like a battle?" guessed Dawn. "Lorne's captured Kate?"
"I think they are referring to the fact that Lorne and Kate come from such different backgrounds," said Buffy.
"It's brilliant," said Giles. "That such a barbaric culture could produce a ritual so lovely..."
Willow cleared her throat impatiently, and Tara angled the baby slightly so that everyone could see her.
"But in Pylean culture, this child would not simply be joining a family," she continued. "She would be joining a clan, an extended family of those her parents hold dear---friends, family, often, those who have proven themselves in battle with them...."
"You are our clan," said Kate. "Every one of you here...you've earned it. You've given us your love and trust, and now, we are calling upon it again and asking you to assume this responsibility. She will consider you her own, and may call on you at any time for counsel."
They nodded solemnly.
"When we call your name, you'll approach the tub," explained Tara. "You'll immerse your right hand into the water and swirl it around three times to mix your essence in with those of her parents, then you'll place your damp palm on the child's heart and give her a blessing. Charles Gunn?"
Gunn stepped forward, swirled his hand in the tub and placed his palm on the baby's bare chest. "Love and peace," he said.
"Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, and in absentia, Fiona?"
"Bravery and wisdom," he said, touching the baby softly.
Giles nodded and swirled his hand in the water. "Faith and honour."
The baby scrunched her eyes and wiggled in Tara's arms. "Hope and happiness."
Dawn grimaced as her hand hit the water, then twirled her fingers playfully. "Fun and fashion."
He approached the baby timidly, then touched her with cold, damp fingers. "Strength and courage."
She twirled her fingers with playful flourish. "Heart and harmony," she bestowed.
He stood over his new godchild thoughtfully for a moment, dripping water onto her silky black hair. "Brains and beauty," he finally decided.
She tapped her fingers into the water. "Wealth and worldliness," she concluded, giving the baby a satisfied nod.
Tara swirled her free hand into the water and placed it on the baby's heart. "Pride and passion," she said with a smile.
She passed the baby to Willow, who dipped her palm in the tub, then lightly stroked the child's tummy with her damp finger and bestowed the final blessing. "Magic and mystery."
Kate paused to gently wipe the tears off Lorne's blubbering cheek before addressing her baby's honorary family.
"Lorne doesn't have a legal last name," she explained. "And mine is an L, so he'll be represented." She smiled at the baby. "Clan Lockley, then. We stand with you."
Lorne nodded to Giles. "We'd like to call her Jenny, if that's all right."
Giles stammered dumbly, clearly stunned. "That would be...lovely."
Kate's smile was bittersweet. "We all have a lost friend," she said. "And on the mother's side...she was someone I knew, but not so well in life as after....she never got her due, never got her chance...but she helped us, in ways we only recently came to understand, and she deserves to be remembered."
Kate swirled her hand into the mire, then touched her baby's forehead. "We name you Janna Marlena...in their memory."
She let her hand fall away and nodded to Willow, who dunked the baby into the tub and submerged her. "Janna Marlena," she repeated. "In their memory." She let go of the baby, and Lorne and Kate plunged their hands into the water together and pulled their daughter into the world.
Contact Joanna C
Previous parts of the Karaoke Kids series located at: http://www.geocities.com/masked_spangler/