TITLE: Birthday Girl

AUTHOR: SpikesLittleBit

DISCLAIMER: I don't own the shows, we know, we know!

SUMMARY: Post Time Bomb, my hopes for what The Girl in Question would be like if they actually had interaction with Buffy (which, they don't; SMG does not apparently appear in the episode). So in other words, A/U, Mostly Spuffy, cause Bungel just sounds like a foot rash ointment. (Sorry for all the BA shippers, but I'm a BS shipper!) [May 5, 2004; I have not yet seen The Girl in Question, in A/U, this would probably replace it.]

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I know, "You haven't posted in forever and when you do you don't finish!" Or, "You've started this piece a hundred times!" OK, reasoning, I don't finish cause I'm super busy with work, but I finish when I'm unemployed. Go figure. When I'm working, I A.) get too busy to even touch a computer for writing reasons or B.) get the biggest case of writer's block you've ever seen. Also, it's gonna be so much easier in 2 ½ weeks with the end of Angel. I was so pissed when I heard that news, but then I realized, ooh!!! I can stop worrying about continuity, cause then I can just take off! I hate A/U as it were.

Don't be surprised if this gets rewritten, that's all I'm saying!

Birthday Girl "Prologue"

Buffy's eyes fluttered open dramatically that morning. She really didn't want to wake up, because she knew that it meant that it was Tuesday, and Tuesday was progress day for the Watcher's Council. She was always seriously disturbed about Progress Day. That, and on this particular progress day, Giles and Andrew were coming to visit her and her sister.

She took a peek at her alarm clock. 6:58. The alarm would go off in two more minutes anyway. Might as well just get up, she thought to herself. She sat up in her bed and jadedly rubbed her eyes. As she opened them once again, she noticed something rather odd about her room. No longer was she in the small Italian villa she shared with her sister, Dawn. Strangely enough she was surrounded by the pale green and white stripes of her Sunnydale bedroom.

She looked all around her. Everything seemed to be in place: her white iron framed bed, her green antiqued drawers, matching desk and nightstand, even her blue upside down lamp was right where it should be. She ran her fingers over her lavender floral bedspread. It was most certainly real. She got up in an instant and poked her head outside the window. Outside, Revello drive was quiet except for the gentle breeze that rustled the leaves of the tree outside her cozy Craftsman home. She glanced about the room once more and noticed that everything was right where she had left it over a year ago, except for one thing.

She noticed the crimson sleeve sticking out from under her bed and recognized it at once. She bent down, pulled the dust ruffle up carefully and peered under the bed. Nothing but the shirt. She picked it up off the floor, stood up and examined it. It was soft cotton, as if it had been through the fluff cycle a few too many times, but other than that, it was unblemished. She gently rubbed the faint striping. The color was unmistaken to her, mainly because it always reminded her of blood drying. She pulled it up to her nose and took in the faded fragrances of Scotch and Marlboro Reds. A single tear fell from her cheek in the memory of the shirt's owner.

After she regained her composure, she decided to hang the shirt in the closet, as a reminder. She reached out and barely touched the doorknob as it gave a slight shock to her delicate skin. Curious, she opened the door. A rush of a soft candescence poured from the closet and there stood her best friend Willow, cradling the mystical scythe that bestowed Slayer- strength to the potentials. Her now white hair wisped around her face in a soft breeze and her eyes sparkled a brilliant aqua that matched the beautiful sari that draped her picturesque frame.

"Uh, Will? Whatcha doin' in my closet?" Buffy asked confused.

"I can feel it, Buffy," she replied as if in a daze. "It's really there."

"What? What's there?"

"It kinda stings."

As the closet doors swiftly but gently closed between them, her bedroom door slowly swung open. Looking at the shirt in her hands, she put it on over her camisole and headed through the doorway. However, this was not her hallway.

The walls glistened a dazzling white, making the corridor seem to go on for miles. The black and white diamond floors gave off a surreal feeling, along with the single wooden door at the end of the hall. Buffy could almost make out the figure standing at the end of the hall mopping the floor. She briskly walked down the hallway to the scruffy man, whom she recognized as her other best friend Xander. He looked as though he had not only cleaned this hall, but thirty more as well.

"Xander," she said gently. He looked at her with a withered tenderness.

"Go on then," he replied as he nodded toward the large oak door. "It's for me to do the cleanup."

As she stepped past him to the door, he went back to determinedly mopping the floor. She turned the golden doorknob and stepped through the portal. She found herself in a grand library filled with every book ever written in this dimension and others. At the center of the room was a great mahogany desk, texts, compendiums and papers strewn everywhere. Behind the mound, she found Giles, her Watcher, working frantically on deciphering a demon language.

"Giles? Maybe you could tell me what's going on?" she asked. He looked up at her, rose and crossed to her.

"Gotta move, lamb," he said as he stroked her cheek.

"But, I don't understand," she stated sternly.

"I mean it!" he screamed as he rushed back behind the desk. He started rummaging through the papers again. "I gotta do this," he added earnestly. She looked upon him with sadness as she moved towards the next door.

She pulled on the iron door-ring, and it opened with ease. A cool breeze swept past her and she hugged the red shirt closer to her. She found herself outside, in the excavation site where she had slain the first of the Turok-Han. All of a sudden, the demonstration seemed as if it had happened only moments ago. She looked up at the scaffolding and she could see Andrew, Vi, Kennedy, Amanda, Mollie, Rona and at least five other potentials staring down at her. A sweeping sound came from behind her and she whipped around to find Faith sparring with thin air. As Buffy began to open her mouth to say something, she stopped punching the nothingness and stepped to her.

"It's your world up there," Faith said with a friendly grin and nodded towards an opening in the scaffolding. As Buffy turned around to see it, the potentials, in unison, pointed towards it. She took a few steps and turned back to Faith.

"Now go," she said, then went back to her sparring.

Buffy climbed up and pulled herself onto a rock ledge, where she stood before a cavern opening. She took a deep breath and stepped inside. Surprisingly, the cave was brightly lit by an unseen force, so that she was not in complete darkness. She moved through the passages until she came upon a clearing. As she looked around the stark cave, she began to recognize it as the battlefield where she and the potentials fought off hundreds upon thousands of Turok-Han. Now, the cavern was empty, except for the light pouring in from her right. She glanced over to see just the amulet suspended right where Spike died. She moved towards it. It rotated slowly, letting off an amber glow.

"God, I miss him," she whispered as she reached out and let the amulet pass her fingertips.

"No, you don't," came a voice from the entrance she had used. Buffy turned to see her sister, Dawn, looking upon her hopefully.

"How can you even say-"

"But, thanks for saying it," Dawn replied. Buffy began to realize what everyone was trying to tell her. She looked down at the red shirt that draped her small frame and she began to play with the open corners.

"I want to see how it ends," Dawn said, a mischievous grin spreading across her face.

~*~*~*~*~

Buffy sat straight up in her bed and panted in a cold sweat. She looked around and found herself back in her room in the small Italian villa in Rome. As she calmed down, she began to hear laughter and bustle from below her indicating that Giles and Andrew had arrived. She pulled herself away from the bed and looked around for a robe. She looked down beside her bed, and sure enough, the red sleeve was just peeking out from under the dust ruffle.

She jerked the shirt out from under the bed. It was just as she had remembered from the dream. She pulled it to her nose and the perfumes of Scotch and cigarettes were still there. The shirt in hand, she dashed out of her room and down the stairs.

The giggles ceased as Buffy burst through the doors of the kitchen. Everyone stopped and worriedly gazed upon her. Andrew gently set down his cappuccino cup that he had just accepted from Dawn, and Giles gingerly removed his glasses.

"He's alive," she simply stated.