Title: Knowledge

Author: Sami

Email: Zgirlaz11@aol.com

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: The characters belong to Joss Whedon and not me.

Summary: Knowledge is always painful.

In a place of mists, marble columns, and golden floors, Giles peered down at the water. His hands gripped the golden moldings on the ivory fountain. The images in the water twisted, flickered, and swirled. His whole body was tense as he watched the images reflected in the water.

Beside him, a pretty blonde women bit her fingernails. Watching the images, her eyes grew wider and wider. "Xander!" she said as if in pain.

"Anya, shut up," Giles said to her, not noticing the tears that were streaming down her face.

Dawn and Buffy were sitting in their kitchen flipping through ancient texts about demons. Buffy's face was the very picture of concentration as she looked at the small, elegantly written words and hideous pictures on each dusty page. Dawn, on the other hand was only skimming, sighing every once in a while. At Dawn's fifth sigh, Buffy looked up from her book. "What?"

Dawn frowned and said, "I just miss the old gang, and they've been gone for two years..."

"And they're never coming back." Buffy finished for her, "Dawn, just get over it. Xander and Giles are dead, I killed Anya, Willow's evil some where, and Spike went off."

Dawn looked down and resumed her skimming, saying nothing. Buffy gave her a stern look before going back to researching. After that the only sound in the Summers' kitchen was the turning of pages.

Her vinyl pants made quiet squeaks as she walked down the posh hallway. Her black boots made little dents in the plush gold carpet. She pushed her dark sunglasses up when she reached her door. Green light went from her hand to the doorknob, the door swung open. She frowned as she walked in the brightly lit room. "Who's there?" she called out calmly, not jumping as the door shut with a bang.

"Me," a familiar voice behind her said. She turned slowly around, "Xander, what's with the visit?" He looked younger, thinner, and deadlier.

Xander smirked as he walked to her, "Willow, do I need a reason to see my best friend?"

The ax slammed down on the gray demon's head with more force than would be expected from the small blonde girl wielding it. The ax went through the demon's head as easy as a knife going through warm butter. After taking care of the rest of the small demon tribe, Buffy started back home. She stopped in mid stride as an English accented voice said, "Hello pet." Spike walked out of the shadows. "Miss me?"

"You look good Will, all encased in vinyl. Black and red are definitely your colors," Xander said as he ran a finger down the right side of her shirt, stopping before the hem. Willow still looked beautiful and innocent, despite everything she had done.

Willow raised an eyebrow and asked again, "Why are you here?"

Xander circled around her, "I heard about what you've been up too, naughty girl." He stopped in front of her. "And I wanted to know if you were still a lesbian."

"Spike," she said, her voice full of barely controlled anger and pain. "What are you doing here?" She remembered the last time they had met. All the things he said about never loving her and never getting a soul.

Spike replied laughingly, "I thought I'd say thank you for getting that little chip out for me."

Buffy sneered and said, "The greatest thank you would be for you to walk out into the daylight."

He gasped in mock indignation, "Such rudeness—and I was going to give you a present."

Buffy sighed. "Go kiss a cross, Spike. I don't want any of your presents."

Grinning evilly, he said, "Well this present is somewhat non-returnable. But I think you're going to love it." The color drained out of Buffy's face when he called over his shoulder, "BIT! Come out and play."

Willow smirked, "I'm kinda playing both sides of the field." She pushed her freshly dyed crimson hair out of her face. "So what have you been up to?"

Xander walked away from her and perched on a nearby chair's arm. "After we all defeated the First and I got vamped, I left with my sire and traveled around."

"Who's your sire?"

Xander laughed. "Remember that parent teacher night during junior year?" She nodded and walked over to him and magically pulled up a chair. Xander continued, "Remember Sheila?"

Willow's jaw dropped. "Sheila?"

Dawn walked into the clearing, her skin pale and eyes brighter than they had been for a number of years now. "Hey, Buffy."

Spike walked over to her with a big smile on his face, looking like a proud parent, and put his arms around her. She leaned into his chest, watching the slayer. Buffy was pale and shaking, tears steaming down her face.

"Dawn, no. You're not. You can't be."

Smiling Dawn replied, "Afraid so, sis. Man, Buffy you have a really bad track record for not saving people." Dawn got out of Spike's embrace and started to count on her fingers. "First Jesse, then Ms. Calendar, then Faith." Seeing the confused look on Buffy's face, she elaborated. "If you were a better friend, she so wouldn't have gone evil. Kinda like with Willow. You pushed Giles away after defeating the First, and he died alone in England. You killed Anya, which left Xander devastated and reckless and he got vamped."

Buffy yelled, "That's not true!"

Spike spoke up. "You've gotten really good at denial, haven't you?"

Buffy started to back away shaking her head, "No, no, no. You're lying. You have no idea what you're talking about."

Dawn smirked even more. "I don't? I was there and I saw everything. I saw Xander cry after Anya, and Willow swirl out of control after you led Kennedy and the most of the girls to their deaths. Sis, I know you better than anyone. I know your secrets."

"So, what about you?" Xander asked, leaning back against his chair.

"Have you heard about that law firm, Wolfram & Hart?" Xander nodded, grinning. "Well, I work for them in their special cases department."

"Look how big bad and corporate you've gotten," Xander said with a chuckle. His grin and chuckle evaporated when he asked about Buffy.

Willow's painted red lips frowned as she said, "It's only her and Dawn left. I've been checking up on everyone's favorite slayer—"

"Not everyone's. My favorite's still's Kendra. She's the only slayer I've met that doesn't sleep with the enemy or try to kill me." As an afterthought, Xander added, "Well, when I was alive, that is."

Willow grinned and laughed. "I'd bet if you slept with Buffy, you'd get a free pass."

Dawn started to walk towards her. "Buffy, did you really love Spike?" She smirked as evilly as

Angelus. "You did, didn't you? But then again, Spiky loved you back. Until you know he found a priestess to make him sane again."

Buffy was wide-eyed and crying as she saw her baby sister, the last of the Scooby gang, taunting and hunting her.

Spike cringed as his own memories flooded before his eyes. "I was so pathetic," he said under his breath. He said louder, "Yeah, I was insane right and proper. Made Dru look like scholar."

Dawn looked back at him. "She probably knew." Dawn whipped her head back around. "He loved you and he still left you. Just like everyone else."

Buffy just closed her eyes as Dawn moved closer and closer. When Dawn got just inches from her face she whispered, "I'm glad it's you."

Dawn's eyes widen in surprise but she still wrapped her arms around her sister and vamped out.

Willow held the glasses while Xander popped the cork off a bottle of champagne. She smiled warmly as she handed him an elegant wine glass. "I've missed you, Xander."

He smirked. "I know you have." Willow shook her head and slapped him lightly on the arm. Xander smiled and raised his glass, "To the future and whatever carnage, wealth, and mayhem come our way."

Willow brought her glass up to Xander's, "To the future."

Willow and Xander's faces faded off the water. Anya was no longer crying but her eyes were still red. Giles was looking up at the silver ceiling. A woman with golden skin and pronounced blue veins walked towards them. Her toga rustling was the only sound to be heard.

Anya looked up at her. "Where's Xander's soul? I've been looking for him every where."

The golden girl looked at Anya thoughtfully. "He's been put in another body to be reborn."

Anya nodded, "Thank you." She walked away from Giles and the fountain, and disappeared into the mist.

The girl turned to Giles, who had not spoken. "Why have you not spoken? Didn't you see what you wanted?"

Giles slowly turned around. "Why didn't you tell me?"

The girl's eyes narrow at his tone. "You wouldn't have believed me. You had to see for yourself. And you were the one who begged to see her." He ran his hand over his face and looked like someone had kicked his puppy. "You wish you had not seen?"

He nodded. "Yes."

"Knowledge is almost always painful," she said in a soothing voice and then disappeared.