She turned then and started to head out, going to their apartment. She didn't call it home, because it wasn't. They didn't have a home right now; they just had a place they lived. They hadn't had time to make one, or to find were that home would be.
Buffy poked her head into hers and Angel's apartment. It was his old one. She was trying to be quite, not because of Rhiannon who was awake and watching her, immortals couldn't sleep when another approached. She was being quite because of Angel; she didn't want to wake him up. He's still asleep, she whispered.
Aye, still exhausted, but the nightmares seem to have finally stopped. So, what do you want to do for Thankgivin'. Rhiannon looked at Buffy who stared her for a moment and then smiled sadly.
I'd forgotten that was this week, I don't really know what I want to do.
How `bout I call and order us a feast. Buffy gave her a funny look, and Rhia just smiled. There's a Maria Calendar's next town down the line, they make these boxes for you and all you have to do is heat the stuff up.
Buffy looked at her for a moment and then burst out laughing, she couldn't believe her ears. You're sure that you're from the 18th century?
Yes, and I hated every minute of it. I really don't like to cook, never did.
Buffy smiled at her just as Angel came out to see what all the fuss was about. Sure that sounds great, you don't mind picking it up do you?
Not at all. What are you doing up?
I heard Buffy laughing, and I was only dozing.
Dozing, so you're feeling better. Buffy was next to him in a minute and he saw what she didn't say, she was worried about something.
Yes, I've been back for two months now, I'm almost completely healed.
Not completely, she said looking up at him.
But almost, enough for you to tell me what is wrong. Buffy you've been worried about something for the last couple of days, what is it?
She looked at him for a moment and then sighed and went into his embrace, she really didn't want to tell him, but she had to. I ran into Willow yesterday, at the super market.
Angel ran his hand up and down her back trying to keep himself from making too many assumptions. I take it she wasn't happy about your absence.
No, she was angry to say the least. She almost went straight to Giles, but I somehow talked her out of it.
What does she want you to do? he asked, already knowing he answer.
She wants me to explain to her what happened, and where I have been for the last several months. She took a breath collecting herself, it hadn't been the easiest decision. And I've decided to give her that explanation.
Anything I can do? he asked.
Yes, be there for me.
That goes without saying, you know I'd do almost anything to relieve your pain, don't you?
Yes, but this isn't one of those times you can, she said her head buried in his chest. Rhiannon watched the whole exchange feeling very much like an intruder.
He nodded and held her closer to him watching his sister over her head, his face full of concern. Her eyes met his both of them sharing a moment of worry over what the possible ramifications were. I take it, said Rhiannon after several moments of silence. That Willow wants to meet during the day?
Yes, I told her that I'd call her tomorrow and tell her were, Buffy said turning to look at Rhiannon.
Would you prefer the meeting to be on your terms or hers? Rhia asked thinking through the options.
Mine I guess, but, Rhia, what does that matter?
So, if you want the meeting to be on your terms invite her somewhere were you feel you have control. Also don't let her decide when, you decide.
Buffy looked at her for a moment then nodded, she didn't know were she wanted to meet Willow, but she did know it would be in what was now normal hours for her. So, what do you suggest I do for the rest of the night?
Anything that you want, including doing nothing.
I'd say watch a movie, but we don't have a TV or VCR set up, any suggestion? She looked at both of them then.
Board games, or card ones they can really pass the time, don't you say Liam?
Angel gave Rhiannon a slightly dirty look at her purposeful use of his mortal name and nodded. Yes, they are but I haven't exactly been keeping track of games cards or otherwise for awhile.
Then we'll just have to teach you, what do you say, Buffy?
Sounds like a great way to keep my mind off Willow and the rest of the gang for the night, she said.
It turned out to be a great idea, there was just something about games that could relax someone so that they could forget their troubles. This had happened with both Buffy and Angel; they had gotten so involved in the game that they had forgotten about the outside world. The ability to forget your troubles, if just for a little while, was one of the most important survival tools for immortality. Friend come and go, but one thing remained the same, you. It wasn't the best realization in the world or the easiest to deal with. Rhiannon thought all this as she sat in the slightly lighten room, and went over the variety of problems that she had been handed. She wasn't a full time lawyer, at least, at the moment, but she did work on cases that she felt were important. Most of the ones she worked on were simply helping other lawyers, Supreme Court cases and civil rights ones for the most part. She rarely did anything inside a courtroom during these off period, until now. She had become involved in women's abuse issues and because of that was taking more cases dealing with that. She had several cases pending and others that she needed to deal with decide if she would take them or not. She had been so busy moving that she hadn't given the cases much thought, until now. And she was paying the price in staying up later than she really wanted to.
She put down the case she was working on, she couldn't do anything else with it until tomorrow and was reaching for another when she stopped and stretched. There was something called working too hard and she was doing just that. She stretched and stood up and walked toward the kitchen, but not before sticking her noise into the bedroom. They were fine of course, snuggled together, and oblivious to the outside world. When she stuck her noise in at times like this she could almost believe that the months control of his demon and hell month physical and emotional had never happened. That he had truly been granted a deal with no consequences and they were back to the way she was sure that they had once been. But then in the waking hours she would see different, one or the other would say something or do something to show a stronger need to ensure the other was really there. It was at times like that, that she knew even thought the past was the past it was still there. It could have been worse a lot worse, if Buffy had gotten him back before she had become immortal there would have been no way to anchor his soul, and they would have had to not be a couple. A moment of prefect happiness, was horrible, but even the best curses had loopholes. She smiled and shut the door behind her, and headed to the kitchen for coffee, food, and a break.
Time flowed back wards and in-between and then stopped as Rhiannon fell asleep on the coach. It was barely six in the morning when an insistent knocking brought Rhiannon out of a dead sleep. She of course bound of the coach and was at the door in seconds, it wasn't uncommon for some of the women she represented or workers at the shelters she was associated with to call at all hours. And each and every time it happened it was an emergency, so, she had learned to act quickly. She had the door open within a minute of waking up and who she found on the other side of the door was a surprise. It wasn't an emergency in her eyes, but she was pretty sure that it was in the eyes of Buffy's friends.
Rhiannon wasn't sure if she was pissed or just ignored, either way this wasn't appropriate behavior. The simply fact was there were better ways to handle the situation, and Buffy's friends weren't doing that. They could have called, or at least come later in the day. The fortunate thing was that they didn't know who she was while she knew who they were, she just hoped they weren't all that observant at this time in the morning. Hello, can I help you? she asked trying to keep her voice level.
Yes, you can tell us were Buffy is? said Giles looking at the young woman who had answered the door, there was just something familiar about her.
You must have the wrong address. No one named Buffy lives here, Rhiannon said with a straight face. It was a lie she was used to giving, and it was true no one officially named * Buffy* lived at the address, Anne Elizabeth Winters did.
They looked at her for a moment as if deciding whether or not to believe her. It wasn't as if they could actually prove anything, none of them save Willow had actually seen Buffy and she had only given Willow a phone number. A familiar phone number. Nor could the woman facing them off in the doorway disprove that Buffy wasn't inside. Xander apparently didn't want to deal with the stand off and tried to barge through. Look, lady, Buffy gave Willow the phone number to this place. So, why don't you just let us see her? He said as he slowly tried to walk inside the apartment.
Rhiannon's only response was to raise her eyebrows, and shake her head. Look, young man, I'm a lawyer I work for the ACLU and women's shelters. I've dealt with this kind of behavior from men trying to get back their battered wives, I didn't let them in then and I'm not going to let you in now.
Xander didn't back down but he did stop trying to force his way in. We just want to see, Buffy, she ran away last summer. We're really worried about her, is it too much to ask just to see her?
Perhaps, or perhaps not, but that doesn't change the fact that no one named actually lives here. So, what I want you all to do is leave now, and rethink the way that you are acting. Your friend if she returns will certainly not want to deal with this kind of reception.
Buffy's school friends, well most of them, backed off with that, Giles, on the other hand, did not. He looked her straight in the eye, trying to decide what he was going to do most likely. You don't know what you're talking about. Buffy, she doesn't have the same freedom that other girls her age do, she can't just run away.
But she did, and you've done everything in your power to get her back. Have you stopped in all that timed that you've been looking to find out why she did?
Does it really matter? She ran away when she knew that she didn't have the option of running away from her destiny, even if it hurt her.
I don't think people run away from destiny, sir, I think they run away from situations. How do you know that she isn't following this destiny, as you put, except this time without you? Good day, sir. With that final statement Rhiannon closed the door and flopped down on the coach. Wonderful friends Buffy had, Willow hadn't even looked guilty. The only person that had seemed to have some idea that what they were doing might not be a good idea was the beauty queen, Cordelia. `The thing about those that are blunt Rhia, is that sometimes they understand things better than most,' she remembered Methos had said to her.
It was true sometimes those that have the world the biggest headache with their bluntness had some understanding that those that tried to veil the truth with kindness didn't. Sugar coating didn't always work; sometimes the coating only made it worse in the end. It wasn't the sugar coating itself that hurt, but the person behind it. Those that tried to be nice about what they were feeling sometimes were a little too much into conventions. People like that tended to annoy the heck out of her, simply because they tried to get themselves and everyone else to run a certain trend mill. Not always, but sometimes. She got up and look in on Buffy and Angel, she doubted very much that they had fit anyone's conventions. She was sure that Buffy's watcher would have liked nothing better than to get Angel out of her life for good. Her friends? That all depended on how they saw the relationship. There was no doubt that they felt betrayed by Buffy's disappearance, but that didn't give them the right to demand that she come back into their lives.
She turned around look at the pile of cases and with a sigh got back to work, and that was how Angel and Buffy found her some hours later. She flipped her hair up and hooked it in a banana clip, she had taken off her shoes and was running her bare feet in the carpet, and she was staring intensely at a case file and writing notes. Annon, you work to hard, Angel said wanting to get her back for the use of his mortal name last night.
She glared at him and snarled at him, she really didn't like being called by her first name. How about we agree not to call each other by our mortal names? she said.
Angel simply nodded and then sat on the coach and looked at what she was working on. Cases from both the ACLU and a number of women's shelters, I need to go over them see which I'm willing to take on. I also have to get back to work on those this move caused me to ignore for several days. She took the case from Angel's hands. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Willow told your friends and watcher.
Buffy blinked for several minutes, half out of surprise, half out of just waking up. I guess they came right here and demanded to see me, what did you tell them?
Nothing, I just told them that no one named Buffy lived here. Which before you slap at me for it is true, your named Anne Elizabeth Winters in this life, not Buffy.
Buffy wondered to the kitchen and started some coffee as she thought it was true. They'll probably be angrier that you blocked them.
True, but you can either tell them I didn't know that you were called Buffy or point out that their behavior was not conducive to getting any information out of someone who cares for you.
Rhia, it couldn't have been that bad, could it have?
Yes, it was. Giles told me point blank that your destiny was so that it made it impossible for you to behave like a normal teenager, and Xander tried to bully his way in.
You? Rhia, you're nearly an Amazon and he tried to bully his way past, you? Angel asked his sister who was only a couple of inches shorter than he was.
Rhia nearly fell off the coach when she got a look at her brother's face; he was trying not to laugh and was smirking at the same time. And he tried to protect Buffy from you on more than one occasion. Angel, he obviously doesn't always think about who he is taking on.
True, and I guess he would feel hurt, but Giles worries me. How much did he tell you?
Not enough for someone who doesn't know anything about he darker part of this world to figure out what was going on, but if I had known anything I could have guessed. I do believe that he is frantic in looking for you, Buffy.
I'm sorry about that, but he can't possible have good enough reason to behave the way he did. So, he thought that he would find me, but he didn't and he should have backed down, in Sunnydale of all places he should know better.
She felt Angel gently incases her in his arms, this wasn't any easier on him than it was on her. He should have at the very least not thrown guarded, she's a slayer messages. But he did and Willow told them and now we have to decide what we are going to do.
We? They are my friends.
And I knew them, Buffy, I'm going to be here for you no matter what.
I know and I really don't know what I'm going to do about this anymore. When it was Willow and she was at least giving me a chance I was willing to see her. But this isn't giving Buffy a chance, and this isn't just Willow. I just don't know what to do, I don't know how to respond to people who came to me obviously to demand to be back into my life.
And that demand, has made it harder on you see them again, Rhiannon said seeing the hurt in Buffy's eyes.
Yes. It has made it harder, I don't really know what to do right now, I knew that it would be hard seeing them again, but seeing them knowing that they came here, she stopped for a moment as if trying to decide how to say, how to convey what she was feeling. Well part of me wants to say, without friendship, but that isn't true is it?
No, Buffy, that's not true, whatever you believe, whatever you decide don't think that they came here as enemies, Angel said as he noticed the worry and fear on her face.
I guess they only came to see me with demands and assumptions, they didn't want to here my version, I guess. She then looked at the two other people in the room, they didn't seem to disagree with what she was saying, and they seemed to understand. The problem is that I don't know how to respond to that, I know they feel betrayed, and I know what that feels like. So, how do I go beyond that betrayal, how do I get back our friendship?
No easy answer to that. Buffy, this is the problem that will plague you the rest of your life, how to deal with mortal friends. My best advice would have been in an ordinary circumstance to not return to Sunnydale for many years, to let them think that you died in that fight. But being a Slayer changes all those rules, it makes it so that you had to come back to at least ensure that Sunnydale is protected.
Buffy walked over and sat on the coach, she seemed to be deep in thought for several minutes. When does it get easier?
It doesn't, you get used to dealing with situations like this, but it never gets easier. Rhiannon said thinking about all the times she had been found out by her mortal friends. They always felt on some level a sense of betrayal, a sense that you should have done something other than what you did.
Thanks a lot, that's just what I didn't want to hear, Buffy gently fingered the coach, trying to deal with the myradid of emotions that were running through her. How do I make it better, how do I make it up to them?
Buffy looked up when she felt Angel sit next to her, his face probably bore the same worry lines as hers. She gently went into his arms gaining strength from his gentle encouragement. Buffy, don't you think that I've been thinking the same thing since we got back to Sunnydale? How can I possible make up for what Angelus did? How can I make things the way they used to be? I'm not sure that's possible, and I'm even more unsure if we really should try that route.
Why not, we had it good? We worked together, why can't we go back to way it once was?
Angel looked at her and tired desperately to express what he had come to understand after hours of thought, about change. Because you aren't the same anymore, Buffy, Rhiannon answered for him. Because they aren't the same anymore. You can't go back to the way things once were because that's denying what has happened. What you have to do is discover the new place, I can't tell you what that will be.
The voice of experience, Buffy said half joking, she knew that Rhiannon had much more experience in the area of mortal friends than Angel.
Yes, and this voice is going to tell you that you may not be able to put any of it back together again.
Buffy looked at her friend and one of her two mentors, she wanted to yell at her and tell her to take it back. She didn't do any of those things, she couldn't she knew that whatever else could be said about Rhiannon she was honest. She didn't tell you anything that wasn't true. It just wasn't a truth that she wanted to hear right now.
The thing about trouble is it always seemed to show up when you least expected it or wanted to deal with it. The same could be said for complications both were destined to come barging in on them in the next few days. One was a 120-year-old immortal, who not only had a history with Rhiannon, but Angel as well.
Rhiannon had planned to spend most of the rest of the day going over her workload, and had suggested that maybe it was a good idea for Buffy and Angel to stay in as well. But Buffy had, had enough of sitting around doing nothing. So, she had taken Angel out patrolling, she wanted find out how Sunnydale was doing, as well as check on the new slayer.
Angel hadn't been sure that he thought that was such a good idea, after all it was a sure way to see Buffy's friends, but Buffy had been adamant. She was tired of hiding from life, of being forced to behave in a way that someone else said she had to. She was going to go patrolling, and Angel was going to come with her. He came mostly because he didn't want Buffy to have to face her friends a lone, but once they were out it became apparent that Buffy had been right. It wasn't so much the patrolling that Buffy had wanted to do, but to reestablish old patterns. They used to patrol together so they were going to patrol together. And he had to admit he was enjoying it, he was enjoying doing something that he and Buffy had done together.
So, was I right? Buffy finally broke the half an hour of companionable silence.
Yes, you were right. Angel took her hand in his and gently kissed their conjoined hands.
I thought I was. Angel, I'm tired of working around those in my mortal life. I'm tired of worrying about who will see me, and what they will think of me being gone, of you. I just want to lead a life with the man a love, a man that I hope will marry me some day. She looked a way when she realized what she had said.
Are you sure about that, Buffy? Because we both have forever, that's an awful long haul.
She looked at him he wasn't upset about anything else she had said he just wanted to know if she was sure that she wanted to marry him. I was sure that I wanted to spend my life with you for more than a year, that hasn't changed. Yes, Angel I want to spend forever with you, why is that such a bad idea?
No, not to me it isn't, but after what happened, he paused for a moment as if trying to collect his thoughts. I'm still not sure that your feelings are the same, I'm still not sure that what He did to you didn't scar you.
Buffy repressed the need to roll her eyes; this conversation had become a constant in their life. At least this time he admitted that he *still * wasn't, hopefully that meant that someday he would know that nothing had changed. But that was a lie, something had changed she had become an immortal, Angel had gone to Hell, and through the months of Angelus and him being in Hell she had realized how very important he was to her life. He didn't scar me. I'm not going to say that what he did was fun or easy to deal with, but you want to know what the hardiest thing to deal with was?
He looked at her, his eyes wary, he did and he didn't. Yes, I need to know.
The hardest part was not having you there, not having you to lean on when things got tough. I realized how important you are to me during that time, how important to me you really are. I knew that I loved you back then Angel, but I didn't realize how integral to my life you had become. I didn't realize how important your presence was to me until you weren't there. I guess what I'm trying to say is that he thought me that I love you with everything in me, and my life wouldn't have the richness that it does when you are next to me. I want to marry you, Angel, I want to spend forever with you.
He didn't know how to reply so he gently kissed her trying to put all his feelings in that kiss. The kiss might have gone on forever if they hadn't heard a gasp behind them and turned to face both Willow and Giles both facing them in shock.
`Well, wasn't this great?' Buffy though sarcastically as they sat in Giles office. He kept looking at them with a sense of betrayal on his face. She knew that he had some right to that sense of betrayal, after all she had disappeared. But still she didn't like the fact that he was treating her like a child, instead of someone who was almost an adult. Mind telling me what you though you were doing, Buffy? he finally asked.
Patrolling, kissing the man I love, she answered.
Patrolling with out telling me that you were back in town? And as for Angel you know as well as I do what could happen if you two got too close!
Buffy took a deep breath and held Angel's hand in hers as tightly as she possible could, this wasn't a good situation. You know I'm really tired of you treating me like a child. You refuse to talk to me when we meet in the graveyard and insist on coming here. And once we get to your office you don't ask me if I have any reasonable explanations, you just start accusing. For your information, Giles, Angel can't loose his soul again, we made sure of that when we got him out of hell.
That still doesn't excuse you leaving like you did, Buffy, I know it was hard to send the body of the man you love to hell, but that was all it was. It was only his body inhabited by a demon. Giles looked again at his Slayer.
No, it wasn't. It started out like that me fighting Angelus, but right before I was going to render the final blows his eyes glowed and then it was Angel, my Angel. My Angel who had no idea what had happened in the months since we made love. And I had to send him to Hell! And you say that I don't have an excuse for not wanting to be in Sunnydale, for not being able to deal with the memories here? Buffy nearly came out of her seat; it was only Angel's gentle presence that kept her were she was. I had to send the man I love to Hell, and I didn't even know that he might come back. I just couldn't deal with anything around here after that, so, I left.
Willow looked at her friend for long moments deciding what she should say and do, how to answer the unspoken challenge. I tried the spell again, from my hospital bed, but Xander was supposed to tell you.
He didn't tell me, he told me that you told him to dust his ass, or something along those lines. She looked up at Willow and saw shock in her eyes. I take it that, that wasn't what he was supposed to tell me?
NO! Buffy, we had found a way to bring Angel back to you. He was supposed to tell you to stall, not to kill the man you love. I'm so sorry.
Not your fault, what is your fault is what happened this morning.
So, you were there, that woman lied to us.
Yes and no, she told you the direct truth no one `named' Buffy lived in that apartment. I came back here under a different name. I wasn't sure if I was going to stay, and if I stayed if I wanted to get back in touch with you guys. So, she told a lie she has told at other times. Buffy stopped for a moment trying to sort through all of her emotions on the subject. I can understand you being upset about me and Angel, not knowing his soul is permanently intact, or even mad at me for not wanting to see you, but what happened this morning is inexcusable. Xander tried to force his way in, I'm not happy about it, but he's Xander. My White Knight, trying to save me from everything even when I don't think I need saving. But you Giles, should know better than to confront someone the way you did.
Buffy, you have destiny, you can't just run away from it.
I know that, now. I don't think I did when I ran away, but I do now. But what you don't seem to realize is that, that destiny is not necessarily with you. What I don't understand is how you could be so reckless? You didn't know anything about her, and yet you in a less than veiled way told her I'm the Slayer. She knew that, but what if she hadn't, or what if she had been a demon or a vampire, you endangered me in your rush to find me. Buffy looked at both of them with those last words, she knew it hurt hearing them, but they were the truth.
Buffy, I did not tell anyone that you are the Slayer, it would be improper for me to have done so.
And, it's not improper for you to hint at it so that anyone familiar with the Slayer would immediately know.
Buffy, I would never do something to endanger you in that manner.
So, it was your evil twin at our apartment door this morning?
No, but it has been blown out of proportion. She obviously knew and, therefore, thought that anyone would be able to tell.
There are many things that can be said about Rhiannon, not all of them good. However, misrepresentation is not one of those things, Angel said the first thing he had said all night.
It sounds to me Angel like you have know her for sometime, should this have me worried? Giles said turning on him.
She has been living with Buffy since they got me out of Hell two months ago. I've, we've, been living with her for two months, Buffy for all but two weeks on her disappearance, any reason I shouldn't know her?
Yes, you should know her, but not that well. Buffy, can you be sure that what he is telling you is the truth?
I can be sure because I know him, because I've gotten to know Rhia. What I can't be sure is of you Giles, Willow I think just couldn't keep a secret. Your behavior is different though. I know you've been hurt, but that doesn't excuse what has happened in the last 24 hours. You've treated me like a child, disregarded the need to keep my identity secret, and ordered me around. So, since you're not going to behave maturely this is what is going to happen: Angel and I will go back to his apartment for tonight, we will continue to patrol until I am convinced that the new slayer can take care of herself, you will introduce me and Angel to her, I will be available for emergencies other than that I'll work with Angel, Rhia, and anyone else I chose to, I will not take orders from you or the Watchers, and when I chose to leave you will not stop me. Clear?
Buffy, you are Slayer you don't have the right or the ability to he stopped when he saw the look she gave him.
I can and I will, one thing that Rhiannon has tough me is you don't have to work for a big organization to effectively hunt demons. I'm not running from my destiny, what I am doing is refusing to live in the confines of the life that was planned for me. I refuse to accept that I have to live the way the Watchers say I do, I won't live under their rules anymore. I don't want to leave an inexperienced Slayer alone in Sunnydale, but I will if I have to, so are we clear?
We are, but Buffy the council will never accept your demands, you do know that?
Buffy looked at him for a long moment as if gagging what he was saying, he felt for a moment very open and exposed. I don't want to accept that, but as long as you understand my position I guess that is all I can expect. She stood then, clearly not planning on staying any longer than she had to. I think that this is when Angel and I leave, she said.
Buffy, how do I contact you if I need you, or to set up the meeting?
You still have Angel's number? Giles nodded his head. We'll be reachable there for a while, I'll contact you with the new one when we move. I'm not giving you the name I'm using, not yet, you'll have to earn that. With that said both she and Angel left.
As soon as they were out the door Willow turned to Giles, her face full of surprise. Yesterday, when I first saw her she seemed different, changed somehow. Today, I know that she's not the same Buffy we knew.
Yes, my dear, I believe that you are right. The question now becomes what happened to her that allowed to her matured the way that she has?
They walked in silence for several blocks both of them still reeling from what had happened. It was Angel who finally broke the silence. You've matured so very much since the person you were a year ago, he turned and looked at her waiting for her reaction.
You think? she asked looking at him her tone was light, but her eyes needed his reassurance.
Yes, Buffy, I think. I think that you have become the woman I always knew that you could become. I think that today you proved to everyone in that room that you know how to stand on your own two feet. I'm so very proud of you, and so very sorry for whatever pain I caused to make it come faster.
Most of it wasn't because of what happened with Angelus, I got hardened a little. Maybe I learned one or two things about life along the way, but that didn't give me the ability to see what I saw in my so-called friends today. That happened when I became immortal. She stopped for a moment collecting her thoughts. You have to grow up fast when you become immortal, and I'm not just talking about responsibility. I had that before, but you have to learn how to stand up for yourself.
Buffy, he hurt you. He did everything he could to harm you, how could that not have had an impact?
Oh, it did, but I knew somehow that he had been effected by you, Angel, and by me. I somehow sensed that you couldn't strike the final blow, at least face to face. Yet, what I didn't do, what I wanted to do was find a way to get you back. I didn't demand that of Giles, I didn't demand that him to go through every book to find some way to bring you back. I couldn't kill you, not right away, but I let you go all the same.
Buffy, you did everything that you could.
No, I didn't. I Jenny found and translated the spell so could I. I used it when I found it, but not before. She looked up at the sky and then at Angel. The hardest part was you not being there, really, I could deal with Angelus. The absence of my support was the hard part. It was what really made me put the sword through my own belly. I just couldn't do it anymore.
And then the world made you continue on, Angel supplied for her.
Yes, you were dead and I didn't know were to return. So, I ran and broke and somehow survived. I was confused, upset, and angry. Then I met Rhia and seeing her, seeing how confident she was, I wanted to be like that. And then she and Methos began to teach me, and it wasn't just about swords and maneuvers, but about how to live and survive on my own. No one had ever tried to do that, I mean people I look as mentors.
It doesn't make sense with Slayers to have them being too independent, and you were more independent than most.
Yes, but the key to survival with immortals in independence, cunning, and fighting ability. I guess I learned how to, I don't know. I guess I learned confidence?
Confidence, self-esteem, you learned to believe in yourself. You learned that you were important, and that allowed you to start making discussions for Buffy.
Yes, I wanted to you back Angel and I wasn't taking no for an answer. I did the research. I spent the long hours looking for a way to get you back. I don't know somewhere between researching and working with Rhia and Methos I stopped being a young woman and became a woman. Does that make any sense?
Yes, it makes a great deal of sense. Mine wasn't much easier, when I woke up after the gypsies cursed me all those memories I freaked. It wasn't for a long time before I started to put myself back together and found that I was a different person. Like you, losing me was the catalyst for events the journey matured you.
Okay, I think you said that you started it not caused it, am I right?
Yes, you'll do fine on those tests. He said as he held her close to him as they continued to walk.
I hope so, and you made a big step in admitting you are the not the only reason bad stuff happens to me.
It was around one when the made it back to the apartment, it was really too small for two people to live in let alone three. As they got within blocks of the apartment, Buffy squinted. Rhia's not home.
She's not reliant on us, Buffy, maybe she had something she had to do.
And didn't tell us about? Angel, that's not like her.
You're right, but she's a women's defense lawyer, perhaps something came up?
That's a point. Well we'll see if there is anything we need to be worried about when we get inside.
The apartment was quite all the lights were turned off and a note left in plain sight. Angel picked it up and read it. She got a call from a student of hers once we left, she's gone to meet her. See? I told you that it was something like this.
Okay you're right, but there is one thing that bothers me.
Angel walked over to were Buffy was standing and put his arms around her waste. What?
Immortals and vampires don't generally mix, at least the soulless variety, so what is one of her students doing in town?
Looking for Rhia?
But she'd been living in the Pacific Northwest for the last few years, and before that Ireland, why look here?
Buffy, most paranormal communities have a gossip chain that pretty much tells everyone were everyone else is, generally. Rhiannon's a demon and vampire hunter from time to time, Sunnydale's a pretty good place to look for her.
But how did she find her, Angel?
She followed the same sense that you have, after all, there aren't a lot of immortals around here. Buffy gave me a look over her shoulder that clearly showed her opinion of that scenario. I'm not saying it's not a little odd, but it doesn't feel like an emergency either.
I just don't really like it Angel, something feel like it is going to give.
Then why don't we wait up for her, just to be on the safe side.
The graveyard was cool as Rhia walked into it, immediately her back was up as she felt the quickening of another immortal. Jacky?
Her student came from around a tree, her face was pale and wan, and her hair was haphazardly drawn in a bun. Rhia, I wasn't sure you'd come.
I wasn't sure I would either, after all, last time I got you out of a mess it nearly cos' me my hide.
I know I am sorry about that, and I wouldn't have called you if I didn't know what to do.
You always don't know what to do, what makes this time different?
I really have no idea what is going on, or how it happened?
That might be a start as long as you convince me of that. So, why here? Don't you trust me, Jacky?
Yes, I do, but I came here to say goodbye to a friend. She died last year because of something I did, before I could really understand the consequences. I haven't had the chance to say goodbye to her yet.
Janna, you're talking about Janna.
Yes, I keep thinking that if I hadn't been such a coward after I died for the first time none of this would have happened. I knew about the happiness clause, I could have told her. Told someone, it really was one of the things that messed me up.
I knew something happened more than being thrown out of your clan, never what.
Couldn't tell you, couldn't tell anyone really. So, bottled it up and tried to forget in a bottle. Not the best way to deal with guilt, is it?
Rhia shook her head; Jacky knew who Angel was by now there was no need to point out the obvious. No, but it is a way that a lot of people tend to use.
So, I used it and tried to pretend I had never heard of soul spells, and I wouldn't let you teach me about vampires. I just stayed as far away from them and anything that could remind me as I could.
Nothing really that abnormal about that, why do you feel guilty about it?
Because I would have known what my blood could do, I would have been able to help your brother and his love. Maybe then I would feel that I had righted a wrong of so long ago.
I take it I get to hear this story for some reason?
Yes, after Janna died I started looking into human soul spells. At first I wanted to understand why my clan had done what they had done. All of them had ways to break them magically or through a clause, but the more I dug the more I felt like someone was watching me. I couldn't explain it, didn't make sense. Then I started to come across prophecies about a vampire with a soul, I don't know what about I haven't been able to translate them. She ran a hand through her hair shockingly. I started being followed and harassed after that. I don't know who, and I'm terrified.
Rhiannon looked up the sky for several minutes, there was always talk, but this was the first proof that she had ever heard. Let's go somewhere to talk.
The café was located in the richer part of Sunnydale and garlic and other scents waifed out of it. One of the of the safer places to discuss issues without being over heard by vampires. Rhiannon sat down and promptly ordered some garlic fries and chocolate milk shake, Jacky ordered the fries and then chased them around in her carton. I've heard rumors about the vampire with a soul, but nothing solid. Can you tell me anything?
Nothing, really, I just ran across it in reference. I couldn't understand half of what I was translating. Doesn't really make sense for someone to do that over something I don't understand.
Yes, it does if they hav' somethin' to hide. Sometimes people who are covering something up don't think about the fact that they might tip someone off to the fact that they have something to hide.
So, because I found something even if it was just a reference. Add that with my interest in soul magick and I must know something, so, take me out of the equation.
Right, that's basically it.
Knowing that, what am I going to do about it? Rhia, I have no where to go, I was hoping that I could stay with you?
Usually I'd say, yes, especially considering the circumstances. Rhiannon sighed took a deep breath and continued. But I just got my brother back in my life, he's just been retrieved from Hell, literally, I don't if I can keep you with us.
Yet, are you going to turn my onto the streets then?
No, I'm going to find another solution, I just don't know what it is.
So, Buffy met her first death recently?
Rhiannon looked at her student for a moment and then shook her head, her mind beginning to work along the same lines and Jacky's. Yes, and she ran away, I don't know if she has even talked to her Watcher yet.
Wouldn't work to put me up with him then? Jacky said trying to think of another solution.
Usually not, but Giles and Janna, going by Jenny Calendar, were romantically involved. Rhiannon took a sip of milk shake look at the ceiling for several minutes considering. I'll call Buffy get his address and ask if she ran into him tonight, it's the best solution I can come up with.
So, what are you doing for Thanksgiving.
Going down to a Maria Calendars feast, why?
Because me and your brother have to meet sometime. I'm not saying live together, but
I'll think about, now let me make that call.
It was one of the those calls that Rhiannon never wanted to do, the one were you asked a friend to do something that might hurt them. The issue was always who would be hurt more in this situation, so she was very glad when it was Buffy who answered the phone and not Angel. Buffy? I need to ask a favor of you.
Sure, this has something to do with that student you went to see in the middle of the night?
Yes, it does. It does very much.
Didn't it strike you as strange the time that she called, and her being able to find you. I know that Angel doesn't think so, but it makes me a little nervous.
No, I didn't think it was strange at all, but that is because Jacky makes a habit of this. She always manages to get herself into heaps of trouble.
So, are you going to be late?
No, but I can't exactly put her up with us, it would be an uncomfortable situation.
When Jacky was still mortal she preformed a curse that she has since had many regrets about.
A curse on a vampire named, Angelus?
Yes, not that I'm trying to keep them apart and not apprise Angel, but I don't think sleeping under the same roof is a good idea.
Buffy closed her eyes, took a deep breath and then opened them again. Rhiannon was right, of course, they couldn't be kept apart, it would just hurt everyone. And she can't possible stay by herself?
No, she's managed to run into something that is making some very important people very nervous about being found out.
Something to do with vampires?
Yes, one with a soul, she doesn't know anything more than that. Can you make the call?
Yes, I'll do it and meet you at his place in about half and hour, without Angel. What about tomorrow?
Unless there is really a problem I was thinking that she could come. Jacky, really doesn't hold any anger toward Angel.
I guess the sooner we get this over with, the better.
I don't know about that, but these kind of secrets have the ability to blow up in ones face. Giles' thirty minutes, and thank you.
Your welcome. Buffy then turned to Angel who had come out of the bedroom sometime during the conversation. That was Rhia, she needs my help getting Giles' to accept her student as a roommate. I'm going over to his place now.
Buffy, her student could stay here, if this really is an emergency. Angel said, sensing the urgency.
Angel, how much of that discussion did you hear?
I only heard your half, and she found something out about my curse, I'm guessing.
No, when she was mortal she was part of Jenny's clan, the clan that cursed you. Do you think either of you would be comfortable bunking together.
He shook his head, how did he face someone he had wronged. No, I don't, how am I going to face her knowing what I did?
He was looking away from Buffy as he spoke that. You can because she understands that you, Angel, are not to blame, Angelus is. She feels guilty about a certain clause, so, you're not exclusive in the guilt department in this situation. She then pulled his mouth to hers. Now I really have to go see Giles, I love you.
So do I. He watched hesitate for a moment and then turn and hurry out the door. When she left he sank to the floor, felt guilty about the clause? Felt guilty about what had been done to him? He would never have suspected that, he didn't even think that he deserved it.
It took about a week for everything to settle down. No one was happy, but no one was really upset either, except Faith for some reason. Faith decided that she didn't like Buffy, and Buffy was tolerating Faith. It wasn't prefect, but it was as calm as Sunnydale ever got. And that was usually a bad sign.
Angel watched Buffy as she stared hard at the book she was studying. She really didn't need to study right now. Buffy, I thought you already took the tests for your diploma, and your SATs?
She looked up and smiled. I did. This is a computer manual.
You trying to keep up with Willow?
No, it was your sister, she said that immortals need to know how to work computers. She talked me into being tutored by Methos, you, and her, she can talk me into being able to work a computer.
I take it that you're not having much luck in understanding that thing?
I know how to save, open a program, and get mail, but she wants me to be able to use it create an identity, track finances, and all kinds of other stuff. I that is what is driving me crazy, you wouldn't understand computers, would you?
He sat down next to her; he didn't understand them a whole lot better than Buffy did probably less in all honesty. No, but perhaps we can learn how to do this together?
Okay, she stretched slightly. So, we got invited to go on a triple date with Willow and Oz and Cordy and Xander. I told Willow who invited me that I thought three couples was over kill, but if she really wanted to do a double date we would be willing to go with her and Oz, you okay with that?
Fine, Willow and Oz seem to be the two of your friends that aren't skittish around me at the moment.
Buffy nodded and then went back to staring at the manual. I don't think that Cordy's skittish around you. She just so blunt about everything, but Xander and Giles are.
And Faith, she's a Slayer and obviously doesn't like me all that much.
I wasn't exactly counting her as a friend. So, Angel, other than talking about our life, is there something you need to talk about?
You don't like talking about inconsequential things with me? he gently prodded.
No, I do because that means that we're comfortable together. We could keep doing this talking about everything from were we are going to move to, because honestly this apartment is too small. But there's something that's bothering you, what is it?
It just that, well I know that I'm not a prime example of best dealing with families and I don't really know her really well, but Buffy gently put her on his mouth to stop him.
I'm not talking to her until I turn 18 and even then I'm not sure I'm going to. Angel stared at her for a moment in surprise. I know you well enough to know that your nervous, and I could figure it was about my mom, so it made sense. Baby, you don't babble, ever.
So, why did you know it was about your mom?
Because she makes you nervous. I don't know why, but she does.
She reminds me of my own. One minute she would be the most caring mother in the world, the next it was about what the neighbors would think.
Angel looked up when he felt her hand on his leg. You miss her, don't you?
Yes, I know that she wasn't the best mother in the world. But, she was better than my father, and was there for me when I needed her most, and for Rhia.
That's the part that I don't get, why you never talked about Rhia. You two were obviously very close, why didn't you talk about her before?
Partly because it was too painful, even knowing that Angelus wasn't cruel to her it was still hard to accept that she was gone. We were born ten months-apart Buffy; she had always been part of my life. Even got in trouble together, and we both really cared for Kathy.
Your younger sister?
Yes, our family wasn't all that big. I think that's one of the reasons that father was so hard on us, he felt that we had to be prefect because until Kathy came along we were his only children, and I was still his only son.
And both of you weren't married by how old were 24, 26 years old?
I was 26 and Rhia was 25, and neither of us showed any indication of settling down. I think that father was at the end of his rope with both of us.
I bet, I believe that Mom would be as well if I behaved in the manner you did.
Yes, but you wouldn't have the need to act out. We lived in a very strict household, children that grow up in places like that tend to be more rebellious.
Okay, your right. Thank you.
He looked at her puzzled trying to figure how what she was thanking him for. What for?
For sharing that with me, I know it's hard for you to tell me about your past, even now.
Yes, it is. But having you still accepting me, loving me after meeting that monster, makes it easier for me to do. I was so terrified that you would despise me for what I had done. I'm still surprised that you don't, and that Rhia doesn't fear me.
She shoved the book aside an opened her arms. Come here, he did gently taking comfort in her nearness. That's because we love you, and both of us understand the difference between the demon and the soul. It's just so apparent to immortal for us not to be able to understand.
He nodded and buried his head in her neck. He hated feeling like this, weak. He hated the fact that he still had nightmares, but it was good that he knew she would be there for him every step of the way. You know it's really too bad I promised we'd patrol with Faith tonight.
Angel looked at her for a moment and caught the look in her eyes. Yes, it is, can't you cancel. Tell her one of us was hurt, or something?
I could, but she might tell Giles and he'll come down to verify. He still hasn't quite gotten the idea that I'm not working for him or the council anymore.
And you don't want to have a debate about your maturity with him?
No, Angel I really don't.
It turned out to be a rather boring night, not something that either Buffy or Angel actual liked. Quite is bad in Sunnydale, Buffy finally said when Faith commented on how much she like the silence. Quite means that something big, ugly, and nasty is going to come up and bite you. It means that something is coming down, quite is not good.
B, you're blowing things out of proportion, Faith said regarding her sister slayer with a smirk.
No, she's not, Angel said looking up at the sky. This isn't the result of good slaying, it's the eye of the storm, something's coming.
Fine, but there is nothing to do tonight. I'm heading home, she said and walked away.
You do that, Buffy commented to her retreating back. Hate to agree with her, but there really isn't anything to do tonight.
You still don't like the quite do you?
No, let's go check in with Jacky before we call it a night.
Giles woke up the sound of voices. He walked down to find Jacky talking with both Angel and Buffy. It looked as if they had been there for several minutes. Buffy, is something wrong? he asked.
Not at the moment, but it was too quite on patrol. Faith left to go home early and Angel and I wanted to check on you and Jacky.
Well, it is good of you to check, but why didn't I hear you knock?
I answered the door when I saw them through the window, Jacky said. Of course the truth was she had felt Buffy before she had a chance to knock. I didn't want them to wake you up, unless it was an emergency, of course.
Giles regarded the young woman he had been sharing his house with for the last week. There were times, many in fact, that she reminded him very much of Jenny. Other times she would seem very young, living each day to her fullest. Then there were other times still that she would seem very old. He knew that there was more to her story than Buffy, Angel, and Rhiannon were letting on. I would have preferred to be woken up, I do not like finding you two in my house after I have gone to sleep.
Giles, if you have a problem with Angel and myself you need to tell me what it is.
No, Buffy it is not a personal problem just that it is hard for me to deal with finding you here. I thought it might be bad news.
Okay, I guess, Buffy said. So, how are the others doing?
Fine, Willow did not do as well as she thought she would on her SAT scores. You? How are you doing Buffy?
Fine, well we are looking for a place other than the mansion to move to. We've got several options, but nothing definite yet.
I was told that you took your SATs, Buffy, how did you do?
Buffy fiddled with her sweater, and she saw Angel role his eyes. The scores came today, she opened her GD tests, and passed. But, Buffy, refused to look at her SAT scores.
If you are going to graduate, why don't you open the SAT scores?
Because I'm nervous and I don't want to deal with it right now, she said.
Angel could see about a million responses to that on the tip of Giles tongue. Rhia and I have both pointed out every point you are going to make, Giles. She says she'll open them tomorrow.
Good, so you are going to go to college then?
Yes, and before you ask I don't know were yet.
There is a very good University here, you could stay.
Buffy smiled at her former Watcher. I know, but I've decided to let fate decide.
Giles nodded and then led both Angel and Buffy out.
It was too quite for that very night Spike had blown into town. Things were just about to get very interesting and lead Buffy to have to make a very important decision.
Spike had blown in and Spike had blown out, all in the name of love for Dru. He wanted her back and from the sounds of it Dru didn't want to have anything to do with him anymore. Buffy felt sorry for him, before when she had simply been a Slayer she had thought that Spike was your average soulless vampire. Now she knew better, he didn't have a human soul, but there was defiantly something there. Most vampires were had nothing, which was an unnerving to scary experience for immortals. About 15% of your average vampires had stubborn souls; they would hang around and try to retake the body, and event that couldn't happen without help. Then there was less than 1% who either had their soul returned by a curse or by an immortal, sometimes both happened. Spike on the other hand if he had been given a form and asked to check which he was he would have checked the `none of the above' option. He was an anomaly and that coupled with Jacky's experience had sent Buffy, Angel, and Rhiannon into full research mode. They were presently camped out in the library.
Buffy looked up from her own book as Angel handed her one of his. Got something?
Yes, but its not really all that helpful, but it says here that the vampire with a soul will be a crucial player in the End of Days.
Yeah for Spike, does it say which side?
No, it only says that he'll be important, Angel then turned toward his sister who was listening with some interest. Do you know anything about this `End of Days,' Rhia?
Other than it's your preverbal battle of good and evil, no. She pressed her fingers to the ridge of her noise. From what little I've heard it's supposed to happen every couple thousand years, call it a stabilizing force.
Helpful, so, what happened at the last one?
Can I see the texts for a minute, Angel. Angel handed it to her and she read over it carefully. Okay, this looks like a major one, and the last one of those happened over six thousand years ago, and because of that all I can tell you is rumor.
We'll take rumor.
Well the human race became more war like, the Goddess religions were almost destroyed, hundreds of Civilizations were destroyed, human sacrifice started. That's more documented that most, what is conjecture and rumor is that some believe that there was an immortal Civilization that was destroyed, we do know that the Game comes from around that time. Also, some say the Slayer was either created or drastically changed.
And the end result of this was?
No one really knows because there isn't anyone alive who remembers what it was like back then, only rumors and good guesses. We know about the Game because Methos remembers that it wasn't as important when he was young, it was just getting started.
And the Slayer part, Angel asked.
That's more myth than anything else, and I've heard a hundred stories all different so I couldn't tell you what is the truth and what is exaggeration.
Again what is the point of all this? Buffy asked.
The little that I've heard it's a time when certain things are decided. These are times when Civilizations rise and fall; ideas are born or destroyed. Essentially it decides who has the greater power for awhile.
Any body every won? Buffy asked.
Not as far as I know, but no one can read the future. Theoretically I guess someone could, but I don't know.
Buffy looked over at Angel again staring at the text in his hand. Rhia, what this says is Spike will be the deciding force on which side comes out with more power. That doesn't sound rational?
Angel, it's a prophecy, who knows what's going to happen between then and now.
But Spike, Mr. Bad-ass himself, Buffy how can he be an unknown?
Angel all of this is conjecture, we do not even know if he really is the one the prophecies talk about, Rhiannon said facing her brother.
That's well and good, but we were doing this partially to find out how to help Jacky, what are we going to do for her? Buffy finally asked.
If it was somethin' that I thought would happen soon I would put guards around her, but this could come in centuries for all we know.
Rhia, back to Buffy's question what are we going to do for your student?
She's going to disappear, I'm just not sure that is going to complete work.
So, they began working on the process of making Jacky disappear. New identify new country, and defiantly new job. She wasn't to do anything for at least a decade that was even similar to what she had been doing before they found her. It was just too dangerous, and during the entire thing Buffy hovered. She just knew something was going to happen, something that none of them was going to like.
By the time they had everything set and ready to go, November had turned into December and it was getting toward Christmas time. Buffy had found herself more and more feeling a sense of unease and happiness at the same time. It wasn't that it was too peaceful, no, nothing in Sunnydale was like that. Last week they had dealt with Anya, or not dealt with her as the case may be. She still hadn't told Cordelia that she remembered it. What she had done was ask Rhiannon why. You're an immortal, it had been her only answer.
Yeah, and before that I was a Slayer, what does that have to do with anything?
Your immortality partially protects you from the influences of the spell.
But I was changed in that other reality, different. How can I be partially protected from its influences if that happened?
Because you knew Angel, and Willow and Xander on some level you knew all of them.
Especially, Angel. Has this happened to you before?
No, not me, a friend of mine though.
Do I want to know?
Not, really, and it's not all that important.
She of course had heard the silent `not anymore,' in those words. Something had happened, and somehow a vengeance demon had been involved. Now though she was going from day to day, today was shopping with Jacky. So, when are you and Angel getting married? Jacky finally asked her silent friend.
We're both eternal, who says that we are?
The two of you, the way that you act around each other. I've seen types, those that stay together for eternity, and those that drift apart. You two are defiantly staying together.
We haven't set a date yet, but I'm thinking sometime in Spring.
Sounds great, are you going to invite your mother?
I don't know, Jacky, we didn't see eye to eye on a lot of things before my first death.
Your not sure you want her to know that you're alive?
I'm not sure if we are going to be here long enough to do that to her.
Speaking of reasons to leave, here comes Faith.
Buffy looked up and sure enough walking toward them was the brunette Slayer, Buffy hid the moan that was forming in her throat. Not that she didn't like Faith, she did actually, but sometimes the other Slayer was just too much to deal with, today was one of those times. Hey, B, Faith said as she sat down next to her sister Slayer and Rhia.
Faith, Buffy said as she stared at her sister Slayer, she really didn't want to deal with her today. It wasn't so much that she hated Faith as there was something about the other Slayer that made her uncomfortable. What brings you to the mall, Christmas shopping?
Enjoying the pitifulness that is humanity, look at all of these people with nothing better to do than panic every year. Why do they do it I wonder, I mean they know that they'll just be doing the same thing next year.
Well Bah Humbug to you, too, Faith. Rhiannon said when the Slayer was done with her speech. It really was annoying sometimes to hear what could come out of Faith's mouth. Did it ever occur to you that Christmas is not about getting stuff but about giving, about giving without expecting anything in return. These people aren't shopping like this just because they know what is expected of them, but for an idea about gift giving. Have you ever heard the phrase `it is better to give than receive'?
Sure, stupid phrase I mean how can it be better to give something that receive something?
Because when you give something, something that means something to you seeing the receiver like it leaves you with a wonderful feeling. The best gifts aren't always the ones that are the most expensive, but the ones that are the most heartfelt. The ones that are well thought out. Does any of this make any sense to you Faith?
No, she said and turned with her noise stuck up in the air left the two immortals alone.
And some people never learn, Rhiannon finally said after Faith left.
That Christmas should be more than shopping? Buffy asked after several minutes.
No, that just because you don't like something doesn't mean that you have to sneer at it. Doesn't mean that you have to degrade it.
Is this the voice of experience or just your personal opinion?
A little bit of both I think. I did everything I wasn't supposed to do when I was mortal Buffy, because I hated 18th century Irish society. I hated the dresses and what was thought of as proper. So, I did everything that I wasn't supposed to do, the ultimate fuck you, Angel was the same way. I've also seen others do the same destructive things, just because they don't like something. Faith is committed to not liking the whole world, take into account that she's a Slayer and you have a very dangerous combination.
Not something that I want to hear Rhia, Buffy said turning toward her mentor and friend.
I know, but it is the truth, at least as well as I understand it. Perhaps as she grows into her role as a Slayer she'll be better able to deal with it, I can't say for sure.
Buffy was silent for several minutes. You know, she was more cordial, would that be the word?
Yes, she was much more cordial than I have ever seen her before, what are you thinking?
It was almost in her brusque way as if she was apologizing for something, or saying goodbye.
Now, that's a depressing thought, and coupled with Jacky maybe we should keep a close eye on her?
Buffy nodded, if there was one thing that could be said about Sunnydale it was that nothing was easy, and nothing was slow. You know, and I thought I was going to be bored when Mom and I moved her from LA if only I had known.
A lot has happened in this town for you in the last three years, hasn't it?
Yes, I met the love of my life, came into my own as an immortal, sent that love to hell, and became an immortal. Yes, a lot has happened in this town, I'm just not so sure that there is a lot left to happen.
You feel the road calling you don't you?
I'm not sure if it's that or jus the need not to have to watch my friends die. To watch those I love grow old and die, while I stay young. I know it's going to happen, I'll watch others I just don't want to watch those that I grew up with go away. Does that make any sense?
Yes, it makes a lot of sense actually, it is a sentiment that most immortals have. Your lucky thought, you'll always have Angel most of us lose our entire mortal lives.
And aren't very happy about it, so, I'm still undecided about what to get your brother.
Do you think Giles would miss you if you're a little late getting started on patrol?
No, and I'm sure that Angel would guess what we are doing, why?
Because I know this wonderful bookstore in LA that carries some very old additions of books, some first additions. We both know the books he likes, so maybe we can find him a first addition or one from the area it was written in.
That sounds like a good idea, let's go. And so with that they were off to LA, and fate began to spin.
Fates a funny thing, it never seems to tell you what is going to happen and why, it just happens. Buffy would look back on that world with lots of could haves and should haves, but nothing could change what was going to happen. They did find the bookstore and were heading back toward Sunnydale when both of them saw what looked like a tremendous fireball. That sure doesn't look like normal holiday celebrations, Rhia said.
No, it doesn't, Rhia, I think you'd better step on it.
She nodded and did just that effectively breaking almost every speed law known to man. But it didn't do any good; it was far too late. When they got to the burn site, all that was left of Giles house were a few boards tied together. Oh Lord, Giles and Jacky were in there. Rhiannon said looking at the pile of wood and ashes.
Should we go through the mess, look for bodies? Buffy asked feeling numb from the shock.
No, let the authorities do that. We should probably call Liam, he must be worried about us.
He was especially when the two of you didn't call after the fireball lit the sky, Angel said as he held out his arms for Buffy who gratefully went into them. Where were you?
We went to LA, and I forgot my cell phone.
Angel looked at his sister, part of him wanted to ask what they were doing in LA, but he could guess. They were Christmas shopping, which met that he would probably have to come up with something. Not that he minded, giving either of them gifts, he just hoped they hadn't gone out of the way just for him. Giles wasn't at home, but it looks like Jacky and Faith were.
Looks like? Rhiannon asked.
Angel then nodded to the other members of the Scooby Gang. Yes, they found Faith's body, but Jacky's were too burnt to identify, and she didn't have any dental records.
Oh God, Faith? Faith's dead? Buffy said her voice shaking slightly.
Yes, Buffy, I'm so sorry. I know that you felt like she was your sister. Angel said as he held her.
She was my sister Slayer, in a very important way she was my sister.
I know that you mourn her, Buffy, but she like you was a Slayer. I know this sounds cold, but she died at an average age, Giles said and saw Buffy's eyes turn cold.
So, I'm the aberration, the thing that doesn't commute. And it's sad that she's dead, but who cares there will be another to take her place, like she's a damn part. She was a human being, Giles, you must feel something! Buffy yelled as she approached her former watcher.
Of course I do, but I am also a realist and she would have died, just as you will eventually. It was just sooner than you Buffy nothing more nothing less. I am sorry to be the one to tell, but it's the truth.
Your truth, Buffy said as she sank back into Angel's arms. Not mine. Angel, take me home.
Angel simply nodded and he, Rhia, and Buffy walked away from the group.
That was harsh, Giles, none of us liked Faith, but that was unnecessary. Willow said turning toward the watcher.
Willow I only told her the truth, he said.
No, you told her a truth. I'm just not sure it's the truth that Buffy believes, and besides Slayers don't usually die by bombs they die in combat.
It was around eight in the morning when Angel rolled over and found that Buffy was not next to him. He found her sitting on the coach in the living room, just sitting there. Buffy?
That could have been me, Angel, not Faith, her voice was low barely a whisper.
And it wasn't and you wish that it was, because you would have gotten up from the crash. Angel said as he came to sit down next to her.
Yes, but its more than that, I would have walked away and someone might have seen me after I was supposed to be dead.
Just another weird thing in this town, I don't understand why that worries you, Buffy.
Because immortals have worked very hard to keep there existence hidden from the watchers and the demon community at large. By the fact that I got up when I was supposed to be dead, and still had a pulse would alert them. God, I've put others at risk as well as myself.
Buffy, you don't know that would happen.
Eventually it will, I'm too well known around here for it not to. I don't belong here anymore, Angel, this isn't my home, our home, anymore.
Because of what might happen? he asked.
No, because I've changed and you've changed, and we really haven't been able to come back into this life. This isn't were we belong, I think Rhiannon has been trying to show us that, but we haven't been listening.
He looked at her for a long while, and then nodded. She was right, they didn't belong here anymore, the question was were did they belong. You can't leave like you did last time, it'll hurt them.
I'm not planning to, we'll wait until the next Slayer is found, and then leave. That should be enough time shouldn't it?
To what, Buffy? he asked.
For us to get married in front of all of our friends.
Yes, but are you sure that's what you want to do?
She looked at him for a moment gagging his response and then nodded. Yes, Angel I am.
They stayed through the rest of the year dealt with the Mayor and the ascension. Buffy's coming of age, and the new Slayer. Elizabeth, a bright if somewhat narrow-minded girl, a very component, they left the Hellmouth well guarded.
1 month after departure.
Well we decided on LA, for two reasons it as a large enough Demon population for Angel and I to set up this P.I. business for those with the more exotic problems. And it has a University, which I got in. I'm still not decided on my major though. I probably already mentioned that Cordelia is working for/with us, Queen C is still Queen C, but different somehow. Did I tell you about Dolye? He's a half-demon, Bracon they're good, seer and he's here to help me and Angel on our mission or some such thing. How is every one back in Sunnydale? Is Elizabeth doing well, and who is going to College? Sorry to write and run but we are really busy today.
Glad your settled, how's married life anyway? So, Oz and I are going to College but that's just about it. Elizabeth as you'll remember is 17 took those same tests you did, and are going to the University. Speaking of which she dumped an entire stack of books on Riley Finn, who turned out to be our psyche TA. Sunnydale is still Sunnydale, of course, and Eddie one of the Freshmen was turned into a vampire, by Sunday. She was a hard one to beat, but Elizabeth managed. I still want to call her Beth or something, but apparently she likes Elizabeth.
Speaking of weird things, the idea that you an Angel as P.I.s are you sure about this, Buffy? With a half demon, even a good one? This might have worked in Sunnyhell, but LA? Just my opinion, boy have I changed and it is all thanks to you. I sure miss you, Buffy, and I wonder sometimes why you had to leave. Then others I understand, you're a Slayer and always will be, but that can't be the only part of your life, it just can't. So, you're putting down roots, and I understand that. I just wish you could put them down here. Oh, did I mention when Elizabeth visited Giles to ask his opinion about the vampires, he had female company. Giles had female company, who would have thought. Funny that she trusts Giles more than she does her new Watcher she's this exotic looking woman by the name of Cassandra Seer. I think that Elizabeth should trust her, but she doesn't. That's about all I've got for now.
One Year Later
I now understand what the saying `revenge is a dish best served cold' means. When we realized that Wolfram and Hart were responsible for the fire that killed Faith and Jacky and went in there guns blazing. I burst down the door, took out quite a few of their underlings, before Angel and Rhia found me and got me under control. I don't think I have ever had so much rage inside of me before. And it scares me to think about what I might have done. Other than Buffy going almost totally local we're doing pretty good, we've found a new place Eternal Investigations is now official in the Hyperion Hotel. You can call and ask Angel if you want to whole story.
On the front of other changes Gunn is becoming more and more part of our gang. Oh, and Willow if you are ever in the neighborhood, I've got to take you to this demon bar. The guy who owns it is physic and reads the auras of demons, but only if they get up and sing, he does humans too. Well the other day, Angel, got up and sang, and the basic is he can't. Not at all. If we weren't dealing with a life, I think I wouldn't have stopped laughing for days, who would have thought that Angel couldn't sing. Give everyone my love.
Glad you got a new place, hope to come down and see it soon. Well, as I told you Riley and Elizabeth are going strong. I know that you don't like it Buffy, but they make a cute couple. You'll not believe what Giles decided to do. He's bought a magick shop, after we found the former owner dead. Dawn of course wanted to see, but Elizabeth pushed her out the door. I still can't understand why her parents sent her with Elizabeth in the first place. Any way she pushed her out of the shop and now Giles has one. Glory tried another one of her stupid plans, but Dawn got in the middle. Elizabeth is ready to kill her at this point.
So, what do you think of Giles idea? Will you come for the opening?
Of course we'll come, but just one question who's Dawn.
Glad to hear, and you had a brain frart. Dawn is Elizabeth's sister, remember she used to harass you all the time.
Ten Years Later
Seattle is amazingly different than I thought it would be. There's so much to do and see, and the lack of a large demon population makes it a big plus. I know what you're thinking, Buffy stop moving around and settle down. I know I'm thirty years old, but my husband is over 200 and I wanted to see Seattle.
On a more personal note Amanda and Nick are back together. I think I've mentioned the whole thing that happened between them. Any way they ran into each other the other day, Amanda was still feeling raw from Lucy's death and they got to talking. Well, they are back together and all is well. Well, as well as anyone can be three months after the loss of a friend. So, how are you and Tara doing?
As for careers I've taken a job at one of the labs, so, I'm still doing paranormal. Angel on the other hand is looking into seeing if he can teach night classes. It was Rhia's suggestion not mine. In the mean time he's helping Duncan set up his old antiques shop.
I really do think that Angel should get you to settle down, you'll not always be this young. It's good to hear that you're taking sometime off from Slaying. The newest Slayer is a bit like Faith, all brass, but she seems more grounded than Faith was. Anyway Tara and I are doing fine, but there is a complication. Oz came back; the problem is I love both of them. Oh, well I'll figure it out. Glad to hear about Nick and Amanda thought, talk about wasted years.
I think that Angel would make a great teacher. By the way do he and Duncan get along well? I should think so, the way that you've described Duncan he sounds like he has a very old soul. Speaking of careers Tara and I have started this computer store, and it is doing great. Giles' magick shop is still there, and he is as well. And Xander owns his own construction company now. It's amazing how much changed in twelve years isn't it? So, when are you going to come and see us?
P.S. Did Cordelia move with you?
15 years later.
I still have a hard time believing that we're all 45 years old now. And before you start nagging me about getting old and sperm donors I'm going to remind you that I'm a Slayer. Because I'm a Slayer it's dangerous. I know you, Tara, and Oz wouldn't agree with you me. You have wonderful family Willow and so does Xander, but that's not the life I have chosen for myself. I know that Cordelia would have agreed with me, God, it still painful three years after her death. She was the first of us to go, and cancer of all things. Being a seer just wore her out, I guess. God, I miss her sometimes. Not the Cordelia we knew in High School the one she grew into.
So, Angel and I are taking a boat to Paris and we're going to tour Europe from there. Wish me lots of fun, and before you ask no, we are not going to stop in Sunnydale on the way there. We might on the way back.
Buffy folded the letter and put it into the envelope. I still don't really want to do this, Angel.
He came around and hugged his mate, his wife. I know beloved, but she wants to see you and you can't see her.
I know that, and someday she is going to surprise us. But I hate disappearing on her, Angle, I just hate it.
You won't be completely, you'll live away from her, but you'll keep an eye on her. Just as I keep on eye on Gunn, Wesley, and Kate in LA. Besides living next door to Amanda will be fun won't it?
Buffy smiled and nodded at her husband and then folded up the last of her letters to Willow and waited for the last letter that Willow would write her.
Have a wonderful trip! That sounds like so much fun and with Angel as well. But I still think that you should think about having children, there the center of my world Buffy, they really are. Oh, and please do stop in Sunnydale on your way back to Seattle you can develop the pictures and show us. Have a great trip again.
It was sort and brief, but Willow had no way of knowing it would be the last letter Buffy would receive from her.
35 years later.
Hey, I'm the last person you want to get a letter from aren't I? Well, tough. We need to talk in person, in Sunnydale about the End of Days, and don't get all twisted out of shape I'm not threatening you. Jeez, your sister and your mate probably told you I've got a quasi soul. And I know the Slayer told you that I've got this chip in my head, because I know that Red told her about it.
Speaking of formerly red headed Wiccan's, her hairs gray now, but you know that, don't you? She's dying, Peaches, and it would cheer her to see her friend, or even the child of her friend. Could make her look like yours, say it was surprise to everyone, just a thought? She's fading fast, cancer, only got weeks. You know these humans can cure all kinds of things, but that can't deal with a lot of types of that nasty disease. Any how me, you, and your family need to have chit chat about this end of days crap and I thought we could do it here sense Red would like to see your lady.
Angel read the letter and then handed it to Buffy. So, Willow's dying an it looks like the End of Days is coming. I guess it's time to go home.
Home, we left because it didn't feel like it to you anymore, remember?
And it wasn't. I needed to find my place as an immortal first, but now I know that is my home.
It was few days later when Willow opened her eyes to see the spitting image of Buffy Summers at 17 years old staring at her. Buffy? No, you must be her daughter.
No, Willow its me, Buffy.
You haven't aged a day, and your warm.
I know, that's why I stopped writing, stopped coming to see you. I know I probably shouldn't do this, but I wanted to see you one last time. The windows flew open and Buffy went to close them.
You're here for End of Days? she asked.
I'm here for you, and I came to defend my home. It's not been my duty to tow the heavy line of Slayer hood in a long time.
Not now either is it?
No, that's Spikes job and the job of the daughter of the one who sealed the gate of hell the last time.
You made that happen, Buffy, you and Angel.
Yes, we did and because of us... then Buffy stopped when she heard the shrill sound of the monitor. She took her friends hand one last time, and then covered her face. She then walked out in Angel's arms, they were home, but everything had changed.
Excerpt from the Diary of Buffy Fennel, two days after the last Battle.
We never expected to survive any of us really. We all expected to die in battle, Spike most of all, I think. But we all made it out Duncan, Amanda, Nick, Methos, Rhiannon, Spike and Angel and I. Our causality was Jacky, but it wasn't a sacrifice she would have said. The most amazing part of all was my Angel, my glorious Angel. He looked like one come down from heaven, avenging all those lost souls. He was magnificent. I love him so. And Spike, he'll live, but I don't think he's happy about his reward. He's human, back to being normal and perhaps normality is all the Powers could give him.
I keep thinking about a line I heard somewhere what is loved endures. I didn't realize how loved Sunnydale was until the battle was over, LA is in ashes are a lot of the surrounding areas, out and out combat will do that to you. But Sunnydale is still here, in one piece. Sunnydale was loved not just by humans, but by demons, and it endures. My home endures.
Buffy turned when she felt her husband's arms came around her. Come to bed, he whispered into her ear.
Just wanted to get these thoughts down before they get away. It's going to be hard these next few years isn't it?
The worst part is over, Buffy, let's celebrate that before we pick up the pieces.
She smiled at him and then jumped into his arms. Yes, lets.
He took her quickly into his arms spun her around a few times and then headed toward their bedroom. They had survived.
It was around five in the afternoon when a knocking at the door woke both of them out of a very sound sleep. Who answers it, me or you? Buffy asked.
She heard the half moan, reply of her husband and got out of bed and pulled on a robe. She couldn't explain it, but something felt different. She opened the door to see Spike or was it William now standing outside and it was dark. Spike?
Yeah, guess you and Peaches just woke up. It was a statement rather than a question, and Buffy stopped to wonder why. So, you don't know yet, do you? Spike asked interrupting her musings.
Know what? she asked.
We won the End of Days good triumphed and all that mess.
I know that as well, and I know that we have a lot of work to do to put the world back together.
That's just it, it seems we really won, the powers turned the clock back 63 years.
How do you know this? Buffy asked.
Because I remember those 63 years I'm the Spike that won the battle with you, not the one that was supposed to be working with Dru to destroy the world.
So, that would put us somewhere near my 17th birthday, right?
On it actually, so, is Peaches still
Yes, he doesn't want to wake up yet. She turned toward the bedroom and suddenly registered they were back in Angel's old apartment and not the mansion. Maybe I should make sure he's alright.
Yeah and if he isn't make him what he was before, okay, I don't want to deal with that woman stealing monster he turns into.
Buffy turned toward Spike. I thought that you were over Dru.
Am, just not over what happened between Angelus and Dru. Funny isn't it, I don't love her anymore, hardly think of her, but I've got issued with Angelus for trying to take her away from me.
Buffy looked at him for a long minute, considering. Maybe it isn't funny, you never had the chance to deal with that, and you're still a little sore about it. I'll go check on Angel, and with that she shut the door on Spike. Soul or not he was still annoying.
Angel and turned over and had gone back to sleep. He was lying with his face buried in her pillow. She stood there looking at him for several minutes deciding what to do.
// So, what happens to a vampire who already has a soul if he drinks immortals blood mixed with this stuff? Buffy remembered asking.
It depends on the type of soul they have, if they have permanent one it just gives them an incredible high, often a sexual one. If they don't have permanent one it anchors it. Methos had told her.
Any way to make one loose their soul by immortals blood?
Buffy walked over and threw the ingredients of the drink together and before she drank it she cut her hand. She watched as the wound healed as it had been for 62 years. Nodding to herself she checked to make sure that she wasn't nervous and had to smile. She had done this to Angel once and she remembered his reaction. She wasn't nervous, she was aroused by the idea. Shrugging she dipped the drink down her throat.
Then taking the knife that she had used before with her she approached Angel. He turned over when she pushed him so he was facing upward and then slicing her hand she allowed her blood to flow down his throat. His reaction was immediate he pulled the hand deeper onto his mouth and flipped her over. She felt his free hand fumble with her robe and she helped him. As they joined together, two halves of a whole.
It was several hours later when Buffy finally opened her eyes. She found Angel staring down at her his eyes still slightly hooded with desire. I remember now, he said.
Everything, when the doorbell rang I was having trouble remembering. He scooted closer to her and felt her turn into his embrace. So, who was at the door?
Spike, he wanted to make sure that we both were okay.
It's after the battle, Buffy, why wouldn't we be fine?
Because the Powers turned back time, he wanted to make sure that we weren't effected.
Angel smiled sadly hearing what wasn't said and then he turned over and looked at the clock. It was six in the morning, still dark outside. They should really get going. Let's not freak out your friends this time and get back to the library.
Buffy nodded and got up and began to look for her cloths. I can't find my shirt, anywhere.
She felt him brush her hair out her face and then hand her a shirt, one that he had given her on her 19th birthday. Maybe folded time is a better description?
She looked up at him and smiled, Angel, the love of her life. The person that she was destined to marry, to love until the end of time. Perhaps it is. Buffy pulled the shirt over her head and smiled. I'll call you when I get to the library.
She stopped at the door and turned around, she wanted to run back into his arms and stay there. To reaffirm that they were alive and well, but she couldn't she had to live in the now and that was the going to see the others. I want to jump back into bed with you and stay there for a couple of days, she confessed to him.
And I want to take you off somewhere, somewhere wonderful, but I can't. Go see Giles and your friends, Buffy, remember they're worried about you.
Right, your right. She then stood on brought his face down to hers and kissed him thoroughly.
She ended up stopping by her mom's house and walking through the front door of the library at the exact time she had before.
Buffy! she heard Willow cry, a high school junior Willow. She had been worried about Angel the last this had happened. Now she was just glad to see her old friend.
We were just going to rescue you, Xander said and looked at her. He wasn't the same Xander that she remembered from years past; he was the young boy. The young teenager who still had a crush on her.
Well some of us where, Willow said.
I would have, Giles said.
Where's Angel? Asked Mrs. Calendar and Buffy had to stop herself from throwing her arms around the other woman.
Back at his place, we didn't want to risk the sunlight.
Buffy, the Judge is he Giles broke off
No, assembly required, he's active, she said as a strange sense of daja-vue swept over her. She had done this before. She was immortal, and Angel would have his soul for always, but she couldn't remember why that was important.
Dammit, Giles pulled of his glasses.
He nearly killed us. Angel got us out.
Why didn't you call? Giles asked.
We had to hide for awhile, in the sewers. And then we both were so wigged about almost loosing each other, we just didn't think of it. Sorry. `Well now I have the memories and the maturity. I'm no longer a teenage.' You'll want to you about the Judge, won't you, Giles?
Yes, but you rarely think
Perhaps almost loosing the man I love changed me, perhaps almost loosing me changed him. And then she started to go over what she remembered.
It was awhile later when she finally managed to get to the phone. Angel answered immediately. Are you starting to forget?
No, I can remember everything as well as I could before. Weird isn't it?
Perhaps, perhaps not. We have a lot of history to relive, perhaps we the memories, so, not to repeat history. He paused for a moment as he figured the table. Marry me official?
Of course, when?
I'd say tomorrow if your mother would allow it. As soon as she's okay with me or when you turn 18 which ever comes first.
Sounds great. Angel, I love you, more than I can express.
So, do I beloved. I'll call around see how many this has effected. Perhaps someone knows a permanent way to beat the Judge.
Of course, we need to figure that out. I'll always love you, Angel.
So, will I, Buffy. Buffy hung up and walked back toward her friends she was finally home.
63 years later.
The funeral had been nice and quite. Nothing to fancy, but Buffy had been feeling off for the entire day as if she expected something to happen that never did. Of course it was the date that bothered her, the End of Days had started today. Nothing had happened she wanted to scream that, but didn't. She wanted Angel to be with her, but of course, he couldn't. Soul or no he was still a vampire. Unlike another individual she could think of, Spike, William, had sat through the entire funeral. He had left some hours ago, with his family, Spike had a family.
It surprised her when she felt the presence behind her. Buffy turned to see a young woman dressed in black, with Willow's eyes and Oz's hair. You must be Elizabeth, Willow's granddaughter. Buffy finally said.
Yes, who are you.
The granddaughter of an old friend, Buffy couldn't come so I came.
Elizabeth looked Buffy up and down for a moment and then nodded. You look a lot like her, the pictures Gradmom had in the house. Expect the hair, it's brown.
If you've seen my grandmother's pictures, you've seen my grandfather as well.
Oh, he had brown hair that's right.
I know that, Buffy, saw Grandmom a lot, but I never met her. I wonder why.
Just one of her quirks, I'll leave you alone with her. Buffy wanted me to visit a couple other graves.
Buffy walked off then until she came to a grave on the other side of the cemetery. Giles it read, Rupert and Jenny. She placed flowers on both of their graves. Hi, I'm not going to be able to come by for a while. I'm not aging and people are noticing we have to move. At least for a couple of decades, but we'll be back home. After making sure that the graves were well tended she walked out of the graveyard and toward home, the place that would always be there home wherever they wondered. That and Angel's arms, it was funny of all the places she had seen Sunnydale remained her home and it would never really leave her heart.