Disclaimer: I own no recognisable characters, Joss owns them all.
A/N; This fic is set near the end of Season two, after Spike is able to walk again but before there is any mention of Acathla.
This is a re-written version of my very first story here on . If for whatever reason you want to read the original version, message me. Otherwise, please read, review and enjoy!
Additional A/N: This fic has recently been nominated for the best fluff award at Sunnydale Memorial Fanfiction Awards! Voting is now open at the Sunnydale Memorial Fanfiction Awards - if you like my writing, drop in and vote for me and my three nominated stories, Potential, La Cara Verdadera, and Sineya.
Update: La Cara Verdadera was awarded First Runner Up in the Best Fluff category at the Sunnydale Memorial Awards! Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me! If you'd like to see the banner, it's on my website, link on my homepage.
La Cara Verdadera
Buffy wandered through Restfield Cemetery, twirling her stake and yawning. It was a slow night and she was tired. She stopped for a moment, turning on the spot, trying to hone her senses into feeling some kind of evil presence around her.
'Huh,' she sniffed. 'Nothing.'
Shrugging, she began to make her way toward the exit. It was almost midnight and she still had trig homework to do back home. Suddenly, she stopped, her face apprehensive. She closed her eyes and let herself feel out her surroundings. A faint breeze blew through her hair, chilling her. She opened her eyes, unable to help feeling disappointed that she couldn't sense anything.
'Woah!' she yelped, jumping backwards. She'd opened her eyes wearily only to find a demon standing right in front of her. It was like nothing she'd ever seen.
She began to unleash herself upon the creature. It had a dark green hone to it, and it was dripping with fluid. it made her skin crawl, it was disgusting and vile and…it wasn't fighting back. Buffy spun through the air and landed at its feet. Frowning, she flipped herself upright and prepared to snap its slimy neck. Leaping forward, she was suddenly stopped in her tracks. Paralysed.
The demon was emitting a steady, bright silvery glow. Strange words seemed to be issuing from it's lopsided mouth. The words surrounded Buffy and made the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. The light glowed brighter and brighter, until Buffy could no longer see anything but white. Buffy grasped at thin air, trying to grope her way out of the demon's line of fire, but there was no way out. It occurred to Buffy that the light seemed to be faded, and she blinked ferociously to try and accustom her eyes to the growing darkness. Shapes began to take form around her, and she staggered. The demon was no longer…demonic. It has somehow taken the form of a beautiful and strangely familiar young woman; dressed in robes of pure, otherworldly white; her features drowned out by the light still emanating from her, surrounding her.
Buffy stared, slack jawed. The woman smiled kindly at her, before turning gracefully on the spot and disappearing, leaving nothing but a small pile of white lace which was still faintly glowing white.
Buffy kneeled to pick up the lace, and stared at it, awed.
'What the hell…' she whispered to the bundle, 'was that?'
She continued to stare, immobilised, until the bundle ceased to glow. Then, wordlessly, she made her way home.
Buffy hoisted herself in through her bedroom window, tossing the lace lightly onto her bed, and grabbing her pyjamas from under her pillow and threw them on, hearing her mother in the hallway.
She climbed under the duvet, knocking the lace to the floor, just in time for Joyce to walk into the room.
'Oh good, you're in bed. You should really be asleep, I have no idea how you get up for school in the…what, honey? Why are you looking at me like that?' Joyce said, raising her hand to her face.
Buffy was staring, mesmerised and open mouthed, at her mother, who, to Buffy's immense surprise and confusion, looked nothing like Joyce Summers – she looked like Buffy Summers. Every feature, every inch of her – was Buffy.
Buffy closed her mouth, and, her brain whirring, thought very quickly that it was definitely her mom. She knew it for certain, and she knew nothing evil was happening. Just something weird.
She didn't know how she knew. But she did. So she lied.
'Nothing, mom…you just look really nice tonight.' She smiled.
Joyce beamed back at her daughter. 'Aw, Buffy,' she said, as she swept her up in a hug.
'Night, mom,' Buffy said, her voice muffled by the embrace, breathing in a scent that was most definitely her mother.
'Goodnight Buffy. I love you,' Joyce said fondly, before padding out of the room and to her own bed.
'Love you too…mom,' Buffy said, frowning at her mother's retreating back. She leant down the side of the bed to pick up her schoolbag, and retrieved her trig textbook. She opened it, sharpened her pencil, and grabbed a fresh piece of paper from the pad in her bag. She then promptly returned the items to their previous places and turned her bedside lamp off. There was no point in trying to study; no way she could concentrate on anything but her mirror image mother tonight.
The final bell rang, and Buffy jumped a mile, awakening from her daydream. She gathered her books and made her way to the door; for once she was the last to leave the classroom. Her teacher tapped her on the back and she twirled round to meet them.
'Now Buffy, the homework situation is getting appalling. I know trigonometry probably isn't your favourite subject, but you must do the coursework or you won't pass!' Mr Beach said, peering down at her through his thick glasses. Buffy blinked back up at him. Or, she thought wryly, her. It turned out that Mr Beach secretly felt like a Ms Beach. Buffy nodded hastily before making her escape and practically running to the library.
She burst through the doors and skidded to a stop. Giles looked up from his near constant task of sorting the shelves of books.
'Giles!' she exclaimed.
'What is it, Buffy?' Giles said, looking worried. 'Did you find something erroneous on your patrol last night?'
'Well, if erroneous means 'creepy, unnerving and scarily long lasting,' then yeah, I did!' she cried breathlessly.
'Calm down, Buffy,' Giles sighed, pulling a chair out for his slayer.
Buffy sat down, pouting. 'I am calm! I'm just…weirded out!'
Giles sat down opposite her. 'What happened?' he asked, taking his glasses off and polishing them vigourously.
She took a deep breath. 'I was in Restfield last night, and there was like, nothing going on. So I'm just about to head home, when this scary, ugly, demon type thing appears in front of me.'
'Thus far, it's not so strange,' Giles said tiredly.
'I'm not finished, Giles!' she wailed.
'Sorry. Continue,' he smiled at her.
'Well, I start to fight it, but it's not fighting back! And I'm just about to slay it when all this light comes out of it and I'm totally blinded!'
'What?' Giles asked, his curiosity piqued. He stood up and walked over to a bookshelf. 'Keep going, Buffy,' he commanded as he crouched down to look at the lower shelves.
'Well, this light show lasts a couple of minutes, and then it all fades and the demon's turned into a supermodel, and then poof! It's gone.'
'And while this is all very interesting, what is the point?' Giles said, flicking through an old, heavy volume.
'Well ever since then, everyone I've seen has looked way different,' Buffy said, standing up and walking over to where Giles was crouched at the stacks.
'Different how?' he asked, looking up at her.
'I don't know, just – different!' She frowned. 'There's no pattern, no logic, nothing! Everyone looks bizarre!'
'Everyone?' Giles asked. 'Even me?'
'Even you,' she confirmed. 'And me.'
'What do I look like?' Giles said, sounding suddenly scared. He stood up and straightened his suit.
'Don't worry, Giles. I mean, it's scary, but not that scary.' She padded over to the table and hopped up onto it. 'You look like some leather clad teen puck rocker with too much hair gel or wax or cream or whatever. What's the deal with that? You're not going to go all Eyghon on us are you?'
Giles frowned and looked down at his tweed suit.
'And my mom,' Buffy carried on, oblivious to Giles, who was currently patting his suit up and down, trying to feel the leather that Buffy spoke of. 'She looks exactly like me! You have no idea how scary it is to come down the stairs in the morning and see yourself making pancakes!'
Giles raised his hands to his hair, trying to feel the wax. It remained resolutely wax free.
'And me! Well this is the weirdest of all. When I looked in the mirror this morning – and every period since – I looked older. And I was – I still am – wearing a wedding dress.'
Giles and Buffy both looked at her outfit. Giles could see the purple leggings and black halter top she'd thrown on that morning. Buffy could see the full length ivory gown that she couldn't for the life of her remove.
There was a lengthy pause, in which Giles began to clean his glasses again, before Buffy said 'C'mon Giles, do the thing. This dress may not look it, but it's damn restricting.'
'So you have no idea how this demon cast this spell…or glamour… or whatever it is?' Giles said, scrutinising the slayer.
'Well…when it went all glowy white, it was muttering something. Something other language-wise,' she sighed, inspecting the beaded bodice of her gown.
'Really? Do you remember? Or were you too busy ogling her shoes?' Giles asked sarcastically.
'I'll have you know I didn't even see her shoes.' She smirked at the watcher. 'The light was far too bright.'
'Buffy! The words!' Giles slammed his glass back onto his nose.
'Have a cow, Giles. La Care Verdaddy Aero?' Ring a bell? 'Cause I'm batting zeroes here.'
Giles paused, frowning in concentration. 'It always take a moment to translate 'Buffy–speak' into English,' he muttered to himself, 'or in this case…Spanish.'
'What?' Buffy asked, her eyebrows raised.
'It couldn't possibly have been 'La Cara Verdadera,' could it?' Giles asked her, reaching for another aged volume.
'That sounds about the it,' she said stretching her arms out. 'Why? What's it mean?'
Giles picked up the pile of books he'd selected from the shelves and carried them over to the table.
'It means 'The True Face' in Spanish,' he said, taking the first book and passing it to Buffy, who accepted it before placing it, unopened, on the tabletop.
'Huh,' she sighed. 'What am I doing taking French all this time, when Spanish is the one that can help with my Slayer duties?'
'Oh, don't be surprised if you ever need French in the future, demonic names are not particular to any…' Giles trailed off, seeing Buffy's expression. 'You were being sarcastic,' he commented midly.
'I was,' she confirmed, smiling lightly. 'So what's the sitch?'
'Well,' he said, 'it's a curse used by a certain kind of demon who were not happy with the way they were created. They were benevolent demons, see, they did more good than bad.' He paused, flicking ferociously through the book in front of him. Stopping at a page, he help the book open and showed it to Buffy. 'But, they looked horrendous.'
'Yes,' Buffy said, grimacing at the very accurate depiction in the book. 'Yes, they did.'
'Well, they use the curse on whomever they meet – and …' he trailed off, consulting the pages in front of him. 'Ah, here it is! It causes the person to… 'see only the true faces of those around them,'' he read aloud. 'So I suppose you saw the demon's true face last night, and your mothers'.' He frowned, looking down at his suit again. 'And mine. Teen punk rocker, you say?' he shifted a pile of books and began to look through the ones underneath, no doubt to glean more information about the demon. 'I rather thought they were extinct,' he said, heaving a particularly large volume out of his way.
'Teen punk rockers?' Buffy asked uninterestedly, waving away the clouds of dust that had risen from the disturbed books.
'The Demonio de la Verdad, Buffy,' he corrected, smiling slightly. 'There'll always be teen punk rockers.'
'Yeah, yeah, and paving right over memory lane, can I just ask – why does my mom look like me?' Buffy raised an eyebrow petulantly. 'That's just weird in a whole new way, Giles.'
'Well, clearly she's a lot like you inside – she just hides it because she's an adult…and I suppose, because she's not a slayer, she doesn't need to exhibit all the bravery or intuition that's inside her.' Giles passed Buffy a book. 'Really, this is extraordinary, Buffy.'
Buffy took the book and sat it in her lap. 'Hey, if my mom's so like me, how come she never understands all the slayer stuff?' she opened the book and began flicking blindly through it.
'She's blissfully unaware. Leave her be,' Giles muttered, grabbing the book back out of Buffy's hands and setting it down on the ever growing pile of books to be searched through.
They fell silent, Buffy pondering her new plight, and Giles steadying his tower of books, when suddenly the doors burst open, causing Giles to flinch horribly. The books cascaded noisily to the floor, burying Giles' feet.
'Whoever you are, get out,' he said testily, glaring down at the floor.
'It's us, Giles!' Xander's voice boomed out. 'School's out and we're ready for some Scooby action! We tried to find Buffy but – oh. She's already here.' He plonked himself down on one of the chairs. ''Sup, Buff?'
'Hey Xand,' she said, looking him over quizzically.
'What's with the stare game?' Cordelia questioned her suspiciously, sitting down next to Xander, followed by Willow and Oz.
'Buffy can see people's true faces. Demon curse,' Giles stated colourlessly, gathering books from the floor.
'Really? What do we look like?' Willow asked, smiling perplexedly.
'My God, Will…' Buffy breathed, looking Willow up and down. 'You're glowing…your hair is long, and white, and you look pure, and powerful, and…you're a Goddess!' she said, stunned by her shy friends' true face. Willow flushed, looking awed.
'Ooh, what about me?' Cordelia asked.
'You…uh…' Buffy chuckled. 'You look exactly the same. I guess you hide nothing, huh Cordy?'
'Aw. Well, I'll still look awesome,' she said happily.
'Well…your hair's shorter,' Buffy said, looking at her, tilting her head. 'And curly.'
'What? Cordelia yelped, rushing to feel her long wavy hair resting on her shoulders. 'Don't scare me like that, Buffy!'
Buffy smiled and turned to Xander. 'You look pretty much the same too, Xand, only older…and way muscly.'
'I can live with that. Sounds pretty damn true to me,' he said, streching his arms out before slinging one around Cordelia's shoulders.
'And Oz?' Willow asked, still beaming at the revelation of her own true face.
'He a wolf,' she said, looking at her friend. 'But standing upright, and holding a guitar. Or bass. I can't tell.'
'What, you mean I'm actually supposed to be a bassist?' Oz said lightly. 'Nah. Can't be.'
Buffy chuckled. 'I also found…this,' she said, pulling the lace out of her rucksack. 'It got left behind, I don't know if it was on purpose or anything…' she trailed off, and passed the lace to Giles.
He examined it carefully, before it was yanked from his grasp by Cordelia.
'Hey, this is really good stuff!' she said excitedly, looking closely at the material. 'Probably Belgian, I mean, most lace is, right?' she looked up for affirmation; but received none. 'It's probably Belgian,' she said to herself. 'It's gorgeous!'
'Yeah it is, but I don't understand why it's here,' Buffy shrugged at her watcher. 'A parting gift?'
'I think it's time we did some research,' Giles said, handing each of the group a book from his hastily reassembled stack.
'Ah, how did I know that would come up!' Xander exclaimed. 'I'll do the doughnut run,' he said leaping from the table and handing Giles his book.
'I'll drive!' Cordelia rushed to his side, leaving her unopened book on the table.
'Good, you can help us when you get back,' Giles said without looking up. 'And Xander?'
'Let's have a jelly in the mix.'
'You got it, G-Man.'
It was a few hours later, and the group still sat, bleary eyed and sleepy, in the library, researching the demon and the inexplicable lace.
'I got something!' Willow yelped, after many long minutes of silence. 'No…another reference to 'face' instead of 'lace'…'
'This is getting us nowhere!' Cordelia sighed, flipping her book shut and reaching for another.
'It is kinda senseless,' Xander agreed. 'Plus there's no doughnuts left.'
'Maybe we should go on another run?' Cordelia nudged him.
'No, I think we're fine,' Giles said absent-mindedly, engrossed in his book. 'I think I might have found something, Buffy.'
'Are you sure it's not another face thing?' she asked warily. They'd had many false alarms like Willow's.
'No, it's definitely lace – it says here that the demon gives you clues as to what your true face means when you see it.'
'Does it give examples?' Xander asked, sitting up straighter in his chair.
'Um, yes,' Giles replied, still reading. 'It says that your true face is changeable – and the one you see is the one that most reflects how you will turn out on the path you are on right now.'
'What?' Buffy asked, perplexed.
'Well, if you were evil, for instance, you might see a demonic face in yourself, but if you sought redemption, you would see a more heroic face, even if your true face had previously been demonic,' Giles frowned. 'Do you understand?'
'Um, sort of…you're evil, you look evil, but you're good, you look good, no matter what you did in the past?' Buffy said, eyebrows raised.
'Or the future,' Giles added.
'Right, so does this mean my path is currently leading me to marry someone?' Buffy asked, gesturing at her gown.
'Yes, it does. And I would wager it's someone you know – the book says that the wedding dress is one of the most common true faces.'
'And?' Xander asked.
'And, apparently, the lace is for your wedding,' Giles wrinkled his nose. 'These books are full of rubbish.'
'You're telling me!' Buffy said. 'I gotta book, guys. I'm getting antsy. I'm going patrolling.' She slung her leather jacket on over her gown and grabbed her bag. 'I'll head back to Restfield, see if I can see this demon again,' she said.
'Very good. Call us if you find anything interesting,' Giles commanded, handing her an extra stake.
'Will do,' she said as she walked out, the double doors swinging behind her. As she left the school, Angel and Drusilla followed. They waited until she reached the cemetery, and then they made themselves known.