Epilogue – Shadows' Waiting

They had hit a slow day, which was fine after a week that started with a serial killer's spree and paused in the middle with one of their detectives almost getting killed. The SVU squad room was unusually quiet. Word was back from Huang that their perp, one Derek Harper, was a paranoid delusional sociopath. He mentioned that the first hour of the interview gave him enough material to publish five papers. Harper would be found incompetent to stand trial and committed to a maximum security mental facility, the better to protect young women from his obsessions.

Liv was still on medical leave and wouldn't be back, even on desk duty, until the end of next week. Stabler found himself in the unusual position of actually being caught up on paperwork. He traded off with Munch and Tutuola, taking every other case with one of them so that no one got spread too thin. Cragen had read IAB the riot act when they tried to make noise about Stabler shooting a perp. Did they really want the media to find out that the powers that be had a problem with one highly decorated cop saving the life of another highly decorated cop after the second had been jumped in a pitch black basement by a knife wielding maniac? It turned out that IAB really didn't want the media to know that.

"Detective Stabler?"

He looked up and found himself staring at Giles. Willow stood beside him, pale, tired, and griefstruck.

"Mister….Giles, isn't it?" he stood, offering his hand.

"Yes," Giles answered, shaking hands. "And this is Willow Rosenberg. We're here to see about signing the release forms to claim Kennedy O'Shaugnessy's body."

"Of course," Stabler answered. "Have a seat."

He rummaged through the piles on his desk until he came across the correct file. Kennedy's family had evinced no interest in claiming their wayward daughter's remains. He couldn't imagine caring so little for a child, but then there were a lot of things on this job he found he couldn't imagine.

He opened the file and put it in front of Willow.

"Mr. Giles, can I offer you a cup of coffee?"

"Rupert, please," Giles smiled, "and yes, I would quite appreciate some."

At the coffee machine, keeping an eye on Willow, who cried as she signed each of the forms, Giles studied Stabler.

"How are you, Elliot?"

Elliot checked to make sure no one was standing too close to overhear. "She doesn't remember a thing that happened past getting the page to come to a crime scene. Everything after that is this version."

"That was the point," Giles reminded him.

"Yeah, I know," Elliot took a sip of coffee. "I just…part of me thought that because it was so important, to both of us, that there was no way she could forget it."

"Elliot, she may, some day."

"What do you mean?"

"I've been doing some research on the two spells that Willow cast – the protection and the translation. Willow is a phenomenally powerful magic user, far more so than Harper, though she is at times hamstrung by her fear of using her power too much."

"That's probably a good thing," Elliot remarked, thinking back to the memories she'd shared with him.

"True. The protection spell, I haven't been able to determine the exact shape it took, but…Olivia may have received some additional powers that aren't normally part of the Slayer repertoire."

"She's still a Slayer?"

"Oh, absolutely. Harper tried to destroy that when he…psychically raped Olivia, but she never did break, never let go of her Slayer heritage."

Elliot stared into his coffee cup. There used to be people who claimed they could read the future by looking at tea leaves. He found himself wondering if the same was possible with coffee grounds.

"She'll be healed far sooner than you expect," Giles continued. "And, regardless of how powerful Willow's spell was, Olivia may remember at some point what happened to her as well as what the two of you shared."

Elliot found he was having a hard time holding his cup steady, so he took a deep breath.

"Do you have any idea who Jenny is?" he asked Giles.

Giles went pale.

"Rupert?"

"Where did you hear her name?" he asked, looking just as shaken as Elliot felt.

"Olivia said it in her sleep while I was sitting with her at the hospital. She said 'thanks, Jenny. I'll remember.'"

Giles closed his eyes, took off his glasses, and pressed his fingertips to the inside corners of his eyes. When he had gotten control of himself, he cleared his throat.

"Jenny Calendar was a woman that I loved very much, the first two years I was Buffy's Watcher. Jenny was killed when a vampire we had worked with – one who had a soul – lost his soul and turned rogue. He murdered Jenny to keep her from restoring his soul and, I believe, out of sheer spite towards me, Buffy, and the others."

"You get this guy?" Elliot asked.

"In a manner of speaking," Rupert answered. "He tried to open a door into Hell, not unlike Harper, and Buffy stopped him. In doing so, she sent him to Hell."

"Good."

"At the time, yes," Rupert said.

"How is it possible that Olivia knows her?"

Giles made a baffled face. "With all the magic around her in the last few days, including the protection spell, I suppose anything is possible. If she does ever remember, will you tell me?"

"Absolutely," Elliot responded. "Look, here's my card. I put my home address and phone on it. You need anything, Rupert, you give me a call."

Giles took the card and tucked it into a wallet before pulling out one of his own. "The same also applies, Elliot. Anything at all."

"Giles?" Willow asked, coming up to them. "I'm all done."

"Miss Rosenberg," Stabler said, looking down at her, amazed that he knew so much about her, and she knew so little of him. "I'm so sorry for your loss."

She nodded, and then impulsively hugged him. A week previously, he would have been so surprised, he'd have frozen, making it awkward. Instead, he hugged her back, as he would have one of his daughters. He wondered what Maureen would think of Willow and Buffy.

"Take care," he told her.

"You too," she responded, pulling back a little embarrassed.

Giles put an arm around her shoulder and led her away. He looked back at Elliot for a moment and nodded at him, the acknowledgement of one warrior to another, sharing the same war, if different battlefields.

The End