Title: Never Judge A Book By Its Cover
Category: Mystery/Drama/Comedy - the usual.
Rated: PG-13
Characters: The season four gang. Sorry, no Spike.
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon owns all and any of BTVS. Only the character Fannie is mine and she is available for rental. Email for low off-season rates.
Spoilers: None. Hey, I'm making this stuff up!
Summary: Willow thinks Buffy may have been adopted. But can she trust her source? Takes place sometime after Who Are You?
Feedback: Good or bad, love to hear it.

CHAPTER ONE

Willow stood in front of the bookcase, hands on hips and frowning. The expression 'happy camper' did not apply to her at this moment. She realized that someone was standing behind her and she glanced over her shoulder to see who it was.
"Oh, hi Miss Hull."
"Hello yourself, Willow. I couldn't help but notice that you've been here almost an hour and you don't, well, seem to be having fun. Can I help you find something?," asked the librarian. Miss Hull was about two inches taller than Willow and her short hair was dyed a reddish brown. She smiled at Willow.
"Oh, I don't want to bother you. It's not school work I'm doing right now anyway," said Willow.
"You mean there are some people your age who actually read books even when it's not a homework assignment? I'd better sit down, my knees feel weak," deadpanned Miss Hull, fanning herself with a hand.
"Okay, maybe you can help me," smiled Willow. "I mean, this is a big library and all, with lots of books, and I'm not complaining, really, but I can't seem to find what I'm looking for."
Miss Hull looked down at the table where Willow had left her notebook and the one hard cover book she had been able to find.
"Willow, I think I know your secret."
"Secret? Oh! You mean that I like books. Right?," asked Willow hopefully.
"Nooo. While I think it's cool, neat, hip, broken or whatever the phrase of the week is that you like to read, I think you know what I mean."
"I do?," asked Willow nervously.
"You like to dabble in magic, don't you?," asked Miss Hull innocently.
"Oh! That secret! Yeah, I guess I do. How did you know?," asked Willow, scrunching her eyebrows together.
Miss Hull picked up the book Willow had left on the table.
"Pagan Rituals Of Medieval Germany," she read.
"Oh, that," said Willow, forcing a laugh.
"I don't think you'll find that one very useful."
"Well, there are some cool, neat and hip drawings," answered Willow.
"I know what books the students check out and can get a good idea what their interests are. Get your notebook and follow me. I want to share with you one of my secrets," said Miss Hull with just a hint of a smile.
Willow followed her down a flight of stairs and down a long hall. She hadn't been in this part of the library before. They stopped in front of a plain wooden door painted an ugly shade of green. Miss Hull pulled on a chain that hung around her neck until a key appeared from beneath her blouse. She leaned forward and smiled at Willow as she unlocked the door. Stepping inside she hit a light switch and suddenly the room was brightly lit.
"Welcome to the dungeon," said Miss Hull.
The room was small. Very small. Three of the walls had shelves crammed with books from floor to ceiling. The only furniture visible was a wood table with four chairs around it in the center of the room. Several papers were scattered across the table. Willow stepped inside and recognized many of the books as ones that Giles owned. This library wasn't as extensive as his but there were many titles that she hadn't seen before.
"Wow. I think even Giles would be impressed," said Willow.
"Who's Giles?," asked Miss Hull.
"Oh, he's a librarian I know. He's done a little dabbling with magic himself. So, do you dabble? With magic, I mean. Not other librarians," added Willow.
"Magic? Not really. And not with other librarians either. At least not lately," smiled Miss Hull. "I used to have an interest in magic but I had to try too hard. It just didn't come naturally. No, if magic was to be my calling, I missed out on that. Maybe if I had started when I was younger."
"Missed your calling? I thought you loved being a librarian?"
"Oh, don't get me wrong. It's very rewarding, being able to help people. Guess I'm just getting to that age where you wonder about having taken the road less traveled. The big what if?"
"I know you're not married," began Willow, "but is there a significant other in your life right now?"
"No," answered Miss Hull, sitting down in a chair. Willow did so too. "In fact, I can count the friends I hang out with on a Saturday night, both male and female, on one hand and still have a finger left over to dial for take out."
"Oh, I'm sorry! That was rude of me. I shouldn't have asked," pouted Willow.
"Nonsense! Willow, we've known each other for months now. And when are you going to start calling me Fannie?"
"I know. I'm trying. It's just the way I was raised, I guess."
"Do I look that much older to you?," asked Miss Hull.
"No! Miss...Fannie, you could pass for a student here," said Willow. Miss Hull frowned.
"Well, maybe a graduate student," confessed Willow. That made them both laugh.
"You call Giles by his first name," said Miss Hull.
"Actually, his first name is Rupert. But...I see your point," agreed Willow, making Miss Hull smile.
"So, have you been practicing long?"
"Well, practicing is a good word for what I do. I've been practicing for about two years now but getting spells to work correctly? Considerably less than two years," said Willow only half-serious. She looked around at the books on the shelves.
"I wish I had more time to stay here tonight, but I've got to meet a friend in about twenty minutes."
"Tara?"
"No, my roommate Buffy. Buffy Summers. She's about my height, blonde hair?"
"I don't think I've seen you with her."
"No, she's not very bookwormy. You probably haven't seen her before."
Miss Hull removed the chain from around her neck and placed it on the table in front of Willow.
"Here. I want you to have this," she said.
"What?"
"Willow, very few people come down here. What good are books if no one reads them? Besides, I have another key and you have an honest face. Just remember that the door locks behind you so keep the chain around your neck and you won't lock yourself out."
"I...that's...thank you! Fannie," said Willow, picking up the key and placing the chain around her neck.
"Now you can come here when you like. These books are considered reference, so let me know if you need to borrow one. Maybe you'll find what you're looking for," said Miss Hull.
"Maybe I will. Oh, are these your papers?," asked Willow, pointing to the mess at the end of the table. "I thought you didn't dabble."
"Oh, it's not magic. It's research." Miss Hull looked at Willow and sighed.
"What?," asked Willow, concerned.
"You're going to think I'm some bitter old maid who lives with nine cats, has no friends and reads too much," said Miss Hull.
"I would not!," said Willow, convincingly indignant. "Besides, you can never read too much. Do you really have nine cats?," asked Willow with a mock frown.
"No. Only two," confessed Miss Hull, breaking out in a smile. And yet it still seemed that she was trying to convince herself to continue.
"Okay. Confession time. When I was young and naive, as opposed to being old and naive like I am now," added Miss Hull, causing Willow to really frown this time, "I gave up a baby girl for adoption. You know the story; the father was out of the picture, I was just starting college...in fact, she would be your age now. Ever since she turned eighteen I've been thinking more and more about her. Not 'did I do the right thing' angst. I had no choice there. But how did her life turn out? Is she happy? Does she even know I exist?"
"Have you ever tried to contact her? Or her parents?," asked Willow.
"No. What if they never told her she was adopted? And even if they did, would she want to see me?"
"I know I would. And you'll never know unless you try."
"I've reached that same conclusion. I just need to find the backbone to do something about it," admitted Miss Hull.
"Oh! I'm good with the internet. Maybe I could help you?," offered Willow. "Do you know her name? Or where she lives?"
"No. And that's the odd thing. I thought that when she turned eighteen, finding her would be easier. But all her adoption records have been sealed."
"At her parents' request?," asked Willow.
"I guess. Who else would have the power to seal them?"
"Your daughter couldn't seal them, but she could request that no information be given to you if you came looking for her. But I shouldn't say that. Maybe she's looking for you, too," said Willow, noticing the sad look on Miss Hull's face.
"Well, I need to get back to work. You know, staring menacingly at people talking too loudly. That kinda thing. Just turn the lights off when you leave."
"Thanks. And...Fannie? I'd really like to help you find your daughter," said Willow.
"Maybe you can," said Miss Hull, smiling as she stood up. Willow watched her as she left and the door clicked shut behind her. She looked at her watch and knew she only had a few minutes before she had to leave herself. Then Willow noticed a small, square piece of paper on top of the others that seemed to be out of place even in all that mess.
She glanced at the door behind her and knew she would feel guilty later but picked up the paper anyway. It was a birth certificate. Willow read it out loud to herself.
"Baby Jane Doe, born to Fannie Hull, 3:11 a.m. on January 19th, 1981 at Los Angeles General Hospital. Eight pounds, two ounces, green eyes, brown hair. I wonder what I would have done," whispered Willow. "Hey, what a coincidence! That's Buffy's...birthday," finished Willow, suddenly very confused.
Again looking at the door behind her, Willow slipped the birth certificate into her notebook. She looked at some of the other papers on the table but they consisted mostly of newspapers and one sheet of paper with dates of the various papers written down on it. The newspapers were all fairly recent and were mostly from Sunnydale. Willow shrugged, picked up her books and walked to the door. Sticking her head out she saw that no one was down here. She shut the light off and closed the door.

"Willow! Here I am, right on time."
"That's a first. Must be a really slow night for patrolling."
"Oh, don't be that way. Is my reputation really that bad?," asked Buffy.
"Are we talking about your punctuality or something else?," teased Willow. Buffy answered her with a scowl.
"Last time I checked our telephone number wasn't on any of the bathroom walls," commented Buffy.
"Yes, but I'm assuming you haven't been in the men's rooms. Right?," asked Willow, suddenly wondering.
"Willow! Hey, did you find any books that might help you change Amy back?"
"Maybe!"
"Well, that's good, I guess," said Buffy.
"No, it is. I've told you about Miss Hull, that nice librarian? Well, she took me to this room I didn't even know about, in the basement. Buffy, they've got some magic books that even Giles doesn't have! So, keeping up the optimism."
The two girls started to walk back to their dorm.
"Buffy, do you remember the time of day you were born?"
"Three eleven in the morning, eight pounds, two ounces. How could I forget? My mom used to tell everyone that so often I thought it was part of my name! It was like she was bragging that she knew it. I mean, who doesn't?," asked Buffy, looking at Willow. Willow frowned.
"You're kidding me, right? I thought you had to know that kind of stuff for your spells," said Buffy.
"No, that would be astrology and horoscopes and crystal balls. I used to know it but I haven't thought about it in a while."
"Oh. Why did you ask?"
"Uh...Miss Hull. That's it. See, she told me that when she was our age she had to give up her baby girl for adoption. And all she knows is the time of birth and her weight. Miss Hull has been thinking a lot about her lately, I guess."
"That's so sad. So what were they?," asked Buffy.
"What?"
"The time and weight of her baby."
"Oh, I don't remember. Buffy, you were born in Los Angeles, right?"
"Yep. Los Angeles General."
"You ever remember seeing any photos of your mom when she was pregnant? I bet she was cute," added Willow.
"Actually, now that you mention it, no. Why the maternal, Will?"
"I told Miss Hull that if she wanted my help, I'd help her find her daughter."
"Cool. Well, not cool. I mean, that could be awkward, meeting a woman who you never knew or maybe even knew about and suddenly it's 'hi mom, I'm home'. Whew!"
"Oh, yeah," agreed Willow nervously and not looking Buffy in the eye. They reached the front door of their dorm.
"You know, I'm still a little wound up. I think I'll make one more pass around campus before I call it a night," said Buffy. "You don't mind, do you?"
"No. You go. And Buffy?"
"Yes?"
"You have a strange hobby. Did anyone ever tell you that?," asked Willow with a smile.
"Maybe. But at least it doesn't involve leg of newt and eye of chicken. Or is that eye of newt and...oh, you know what I mean! You going to wait up for me?"
"I'll try. I think I'll surf the net for awhile. There's something I want to check."
"Okay. Later."
"Bye."
Willow watched Buffy leave and took a deep breath. From her notebook she pulled out her copy of the birth certificate. She had made a copy of it in the library and returned the original. Willow read it again and sighed.

It happened more and more lately. Some student had put off finishing a report that was, of course, due the next day. Or didn't complete researching a project. Or simply needed a place to cram for a test because their room mate was having a party or a date over for the night. Miss Hull had heard all the excuses. And she had never said no to a single student. She was able to lock the library at twenty after ten tonight. Early, compared to many other nights.
The night air was damp so she snapped the buttons on her windbreaker closed and walked a little faster to keep warm. Her car was at the far end of the parking lot. There was no one else around. It was quiet. Very quiet.
Miss Hull didn't hear anything but she slowed her pace and glanced over her shoulder. No one was there. Still, she had the feeling that she was being watched. She began to walk faster and unsnapped her pocketbook, fishing in the bottom to find her keys.
This time she did hear something, like someone stepping on a twig. Miss Hull stopped and turned completely around. There was no one there. The nearest trees that someone could hide behind were about fifty yards away. And there was only one other car in the parking lot besides hers.
She turned and began running, desperately searching for her keys. Her fingers found them and in her haste to pull them out of her pocketbook they fell to the ground. And as she bent down to pick them up she felt his arms around her.
Without looking Miss Hull rammed her right elbow into his stomach and was rewarded with a loud grunt. Spinning on one foot, she pivoted and lashed out with her other foot, connecting with his face. Her assailant fell to the ground on his back and she fell down on top of him. Seconds later he turned to dust. The vampire had never seen her draw the stake from her windbreaker.
"Damn! I broke a nail."
Miss Hull looked around but there was no one else in the area. She calmly slid the stake back into her jacket, picked up her keys and unlocked her car door.
It was only a five minute drive, one she had made many times before. Miss Hull pulled up to a raised ranch in a quiet neighborhood, the only house around with the porch light still on. The front door opened before she was ten feet from it.
"Hi," said Miss Hull.
"Hi yourself," replied a woman about her height with black hair. "Anything interesting happen tonight?"
"No, same old. So, what do you have in mind for fun tonight?," asked Miss Hull, smiling.
"I thought we'd summon one of the lesser demons," answered the dark haired woman with a wink. The porch light revealed that she was about the same age as Miss Hull.
"Are we going to bind it this time?," asked Miss Hull.
"Probably not. After all, we should give it a fighting chance before we kill it."
"Good. I'm up for something more challenging this time," agreed Miss Hull as her friend let her in and shut the door behind her.

Willow glanced at the alarm clock when Buffy let herself into their dark room. It was almost one thirty. She heard her open a drawer to get out some pajamas and fumble around for her toothbrush. Buffy had a lot of practice at doing this in the dark. Willow's back was to Buffy and she pretended to be asleep. She heard her leave the room to go to the bathroom across the hall.
It didn't take long for her roommate to return. Willow heard her slip into bed.
"Night, Will," whispered Buffy. "Sorry I was late. I wanted to talk. Kinda miss that, but I'll make it up to you. Soon. I promise."
Willow lay there with her eyes very much wide open.

CHAPTER TWO

"Willow, are you sure Miss Hull won't mind me being here?"
"I'm sure, Tara. Besides, you're not here alone, you're helping me," said Willow, not looking up from the book she was reading. "Oh, hey! I think...yeah, this might turn Amy back. I just don't like the fine print."
"What do you mean?," asked Tara, getting up from her chair and looking over Willow's shoulder.
"See?," pointed Willow. "It involves summoning a demon. I don't like it, I don't like it, I don't like it."
"Does it say what the demon would want as compensation for casting the spell?," asked Tara, continuing to read.
"Tara! When did you get all touchy-feely about demons?"
"I didn't say I was, but we haven't been able to help Amy, have we? Just keeping our options open."
"Well..."
"Maybe we could bind the demon after it was summoned, then ask it what it wants?," suggested Tara.
"Oh, it'll love that! Let's rattle its cage a little, get it all worked up and then politely ask it for a favor."
Tara looked away from Willow.
"I'm sorry. But I don't like the idea of working with demon mojo. My track record with spells is bad enough. Besides, we can't even pronounce its name. It begins with the letter Z and there aren't many vowels after that. Probably better off not mentioning it out loud anyway," warned Willow. Tara reluctantly nodded in agreement.
Willow stood up and returned the book to the shelf, so she didn't see Tara slip a thin, leather-bound book into her backpack.
"What about your other project?," asked Tara. Willow turned and looked at her.
"You're not going to tell Buffy?," asked Tara.
"How can I? She's got so much else to worry about."
"How can you not?," insisted Tara.
"I know," agreed Willow, slumping her shoulders. "I checked the hospital's birth records. There were two girls born on the eighteenth, three on the nineteenth and two on the twentieth, but only that one matches Buffy's records. Or even comes close. I can't tell Buffy she was adopted until I talk to...Miss Hull!"
"Hi girls. How's the research going?," asked Miss Hull, closing the door behind her.
"Slow. So far. But there's so many books to go through. There's a lot of...new stuff to think about," said Willow.
"And consider," added Tara.
"Wow, look at the time," said Willow, glancing at her watch. "The sun set ten minutes ago."
"Does that matter? I mean, it's still very early," said Miss Hull.
"Uh, no. But we haven't eaten yet, so we were just leaving. Right, Tara?"
"Oh, right. Just leaving," agreed Tara.
"Well, I'll walk out with you. I saw the light on and just wanted to say hello," said Miss Hull, turning around and heading for the door.
"Actually, Willow, weren't you going to ask Miss Hull a question?," asked Tara, smiling as Willow glared at her. She stopped glaring as Miss Hull turned around.
"Really? What is it, Willow?"
"Oh, that. Well, I have a confession to make," said Willow, walking towards the door. Tara got up and followed her.
"You see, you left your daughter's birth certificate out on the table, and I didn't mean to look, but there it was, calling my name, and..."
"Willow, that doesn't matter. I already told you about my daughter. If I didn't want you to see it, well then I wouldn't have left it lying there. Right?"
"Oh, right. Good. I was feeling a little guilty, that's all," smiled Willow just as Tara coughed. Miss Hull gave them a strange look and then went out into the hall. They followed her and she shut the door.
"It's a small world. You see, I know someone with the same birthday as your daughter!," said Willow nervously. Miss Hull didn't seem to hear her. She looked behind them. Willow looked too and saw a boy, probably a student, walking towards them from the end of the hall.
"Willow! Tara! Stay behind me!," yelled Miss Hull.
"What? Why?," asked Willow. Then she saw the boy's face morph into vampire form. Willow turned to face Tara.
"Tara, go! Get...and here she mouthed the word 'Buffy'...upstairs, somewhere in the library. Run!"
The vampire began to run towards them.
"Willow, run! You don't understand!," yelled Miss Hull, turning to face Willow.
"Yes, I do," answered Willow, holding out a cross. Miss Hull turned back to face the vampire. And was met with a fist to her jaw, knocking her to the floor. Willow stuck out the cross, distracting the creature.
Pushing down on her elbows, Miss Hull kicked out and wrapped her legs around the vampire's waist, squeezing hard. She twisted her hips and pulled him down next to her. Instantly its hands were around her neck. Ignoring the pain, she reached out, grabbing the vampire's ears with both hands and twisting violently back and forth. Willow winced at the sickening sound of its neck snapping. The dead thing exploded into dust.
"Ew! I hate it when that happens," complained Miss Hull, dusting herself off. She looked up at Willow, who was still holding the cross out in front of her.
"How...how did you have the strength to do that?," asked Willow, stunned. Miss Hull stood up, still brushing herself off.
"Uh, you can put that away now, Willow. I don't bite."
"Of course! Sorry," said Willow, putting the cross back into her purse.
"Well, it's obvious that we both know about vampires. But you may not have heard the term Slayer before. Willow, I'm a Vampire Slayer."
"But...but that's impossible! You're..."
"Too old?," finished Miss Hull.
"Okay, there's that. But there can only be one Slayer at a time. And, alright, so right now there's two, but hey, three's a crowd, you know?"
"Willow! Do you know who the current Slayer is? Wait. What do you mean two?," asked Miss Hull, confused.
"Uh..."
"Willow, you've got to tell me. You don't know how long I've been looking for her! Is...is she my daughter?," asked Miss Hull, lowering her voice.
"I...uh...Fannie, if you're really what you say you are, and, assuming I do know who the Slayer is, well, you know I have to protect her. I can't..."
"Willow. Please," begged Miss Hull softly. Willow stood there, not knowing what to do.
"Who's your Watcher?," asked Willow.
"I don't have one. It's, well, complicated."
"Okay. I should take you to B...the current Slayer's Watcher. He'll know what to do."
Just then Buffy came running down the hall, with Tara trailing behind and trying to keep up.
"Willow! What...I thought...," began Buffy.
"Nope. False alarm. Just a student looking for directions. All taken care of," Willow quickly explained.
"Huh?," grunted Buffy.
"Right, Fannie?," asked Willow, turning her back to Buffy. Miss Hull saw how upset Willow looked. And when she mouthed the word 'please' and thought Willow might actually begin to cry, Miss Hull nodded.
"Yep. False alarm," agreed Miss Hull.
"Thank you," whispered Willow very softly, closing her eyes.
"Oh," said Buffy, suddenly feeling very much out of place.
"Buffy, this is Miss Hull. Miss Hull, this is my roommate Buffy," said Willow.
"Hi," managed Buffy.
"Nice to meet you. You can call me Fannie. I keep trying to get Willow to call me that, but she hasn't warmed up to the idea yet," smiled Miss Hull, extending her hand. Buffy reached out and shook it. She tried to let go but Miss Hull held it for a moment longer. Buffy realized that she the librarian was staring at her.
"Buffy, why don't you take Tara back to the dorm? I'm taking Fannie to see Giles," said Willow.
"Giles? Why?," asked Buffy.
"Uh, well..."
"Blind date," blurted out Miss Hull.
"Huh? Oh, right! Blind date," agreed Willow. "You see, she's a librarian and he's a librarian, and, well, you know, life's too short and..."
"I get the picture, Will," said Buffy.
"Good. So, we should get going. So...bye!," said Willow, walking past her surprised friends.
"Nice meeting you," said Miss Hull, following Willow.
"Now that was strange," said Buffy when she knew they couldn't hear her.
"Buffy, I know what I saw," said Tara.
Buffy knelt down and ran her fingers through the ash on the floor.
"I know what you saw too, Tara," replied Buffy, looking back down the hall where Willow and Miss Hull had gone.

Willow and Miss Hull didn't say anything until they reached the librarian's car. She unlocked the door for Willow, walked around to the other side and sat down next to her.
"You probably have a lot of questions," said Willow.
"Just one," replied Miss Hull, not looking at Willow. "And then all the rest will fall in line. Is Buffy my daughter?"
Even though Miss Hull wasn't looking directly at her, Willow realized, for the first time, that her eyes were the same color of green that Buffy's were.
"I don't understand how, but she was born in the same hospital, on the same day, at the same time and with the same birth weight as the girl on your birth certificate. Just a coincidence?," offered Willow hopefully.
Miss Hull put her hands on the steering wheel and closed her eyes.
"All this time and she was so close. And I never knew."
Miss Hull took a deep breath and looked at Willow.
"You haven't told her." It was a statement, not a question.
"No. I didn't know how to say it to her," answered Willow. "I mean, she has no idea. She's idealess!"
"Willow, you only wanted to protect her. So you know what? We're not going to tell her."
"What!? How could you not...why?," asked Willow. "You're her mother!"
"Because I know what a Slayer has to deal with, has to face, every day. Every single day. You're Buffy's friend. I'm sure you understand how dangerous distractions can be for her. I could get her killed."
"Fannie, I don't know what I would do if I were sitting where you are now. And that's not because I don't have my driver's license yet. But I just wanted you to know that I respect you for making that decision."
"Thanks," smiled Miss Hull. "Now, I assume Mr. Giles is Buffy's Watcher. So why don't we go pay him a visit? There's nothing I like better than to shake up an authority figure now and then."
Willow laughed as Miss Hull started the car.
"What?"
"Giles as an authority figure. Guess I never thought of him that way," said Willow. Then she suddenly became serious. "No, that wouldn't do him justice. He's so much more than that."
"Sounds like he's nice."
"Oh, yeah," agreed Willow, nodding her head.
"So, how long has Buffy been a Slayer?"
"About four years."
"And you said there's two Slayers now?"
"Unfortunately."
"Huh?," managed Miss Hull.
"You drive, I'll talk. Take a right up there," pointed Willow.

"She's a what?," asked Giles.
"A Vampire Slayer," repeated Miss Hull for Willow.
"It's true, Giles! I saw her kill a vampire with her bare hands!," protested Willow.
Giles looked at Miss Hull, plainly not believing what he was hearing.
"No, really! Twisted its neck like the lid on a jar of peanut butter," said Willow.
"That's fine, Willow. I get the picture," said Giles.
"Grape jelly jar?," tried Willow, not giving up. Then she lowered her eyes to avoid the glare Giles gave her.
"Miss Hull," began Giles.
"Fannie. Please call me Fannie."
"Very well," smiled Giles. "Fannie, who is your Watcher?"
"I don't have one."
"Is he or she dead?," asked Giles, immediately thinking of Faith.
"No. I never had one."
"How..."
"Let me explain," said Miss Hull, holding up her index finger to interrupt Giles. "When I was sixteen something happened to me. I realized that I was slowly becoming stronger. Amazingly much stronger. And I began to notice, or sense, things. Dead things. Doctors didn't know what to make of me and we don't have time to even begin discussion on what the psychiatrists wanted to do with me."
"I don't understand. Didn't someone from the Watcher's Council ever contact you?," asked Giles, adjusting his glasses on his nose.
"No. It was years before I found out about the Council."
"Did you contact them?," asked Willow.
"Yes. And I went to England."
"Well, they must have helped. Even a little?," added Willow, seeing Miss Hull frown.
"They didn't believe me. They thought, excuse me, they said, that I was either lying, a freak of nature or an unstable Slayer groupie. No Slayer had died when I was sixteen and besides, there could only be one. Oh, I stumped them with a few questions. Minor quirks, I think they were called, if I remember correctly."
"Such as?," said Giles.
"My strength, my agility. It was assumed I worked out in the gym a lot. Okay, I did and still do. But they couldn't explain my ability to know who was a vampire and who wasn't. Psychic ability, they said. A gift. So I offered my services to them based solely on that. But they didn't want a bloodhound."
"How do you know? Who's dead, I mean," asked Willow.
"I can sense your heartbeat. Right now you're more relaxed than Mr. Giles. His heart is beating faster."
"Oh. Cool."
"Buffy can't do that," said Giles.
"Excuse me? She's a Slayer, right?," asked Miss Hull.
"Of course. But a Slayer senses a vampire's presence. I can't really explain it. They can reach out somehow and, well, just know. But what you describe, this hearing of one's heartbeat. I've never heard of it," shrugged Giles.
"Huh. Once again the Council comes through for me. They never told me that."
"You know Giles, I'm really starting to not like those people," said Willow.
"Yes. Their reputation isn't what it used to be. You should know, Fannie, that Buffy no longer takes orders from the Council. And I no longer work for them," said Giles.
"As Willow would say, cool."
"Can you sense the Slayer?," asked Willow.
"What do you mean?," asked Miss Hull.
"Was there some connection between you and Buffy when you met? Any tingly sensation thingy?," asked Willow.
"No. But maybe the next time we meet I'll pay more attention. That's an interesting question, Willow." Willow smiled.
"The Council wouldn't listen to you," said Giles sadly, shaking his head.
"There was one woman who helped me. I never knew her name. She had a German accent. We met secretly. Once. She didn't want to risk being seen with me, but she explained to me what may have happened. The Slayer had been either injured and close to death or perhaps deathly ill. The activation process may have started in me but was never finished because the Slayer recovered. And when she died, another girl was called. She seemed sad at telling me that. I think she thought that I could have been special. As a Slayer, I mean."
"You are," smiled Willow. Miss Hull smiled back.
"This woman explained that I would never be as strong as a real Slayer, nor as strong as the vampires I would fight. She recommended that I explore magic to aid me. I've tried, but I'm not good at it. It has helped me some in the past, I will admit. Giles, why isn't the Council helping Buffy?"
"It's a rather long and complicated story," he answered.
"They wanted her boyfriend dead. Or, deader," grimaced Willow. "I guess it is rather long and complicated," said Willow, suddenly wanting to change the subject. "Giles! Why can't you train Fannie?"
"Huh?," said both Miss Hull and Giles at the same time.
"Well, maybe not the physical part. Let me rephrase that," added Willow quickly, seeing the look on Giles' face. "You're a Watcher and she's never had one. You can learn from one another."
"From each other?," asked Giles.
"Yes. Fannie has access to books that you probably never even heard of," said Willow.
"Well, I rather doubt that," countered Giles, defending himself.
"Um, heard of but never seen?," suggested Willow.
"It's possible, Mr. Giles. The college does have an extensive occult library. And I'm sure there's much you can teach me. About what I am, our history, I mean."
"Actually, the idea is intriguing," agreed Giles. "Oh, please call me Rupert."
"Thank you, Rupert. And you know, there is the blind date to consider," said Miss Hull.
"Excuse me?," stammered Giles, glancing at Willow who suddenly pretended to be interested in a book.
"Granted, it's not so blind now. But Willow did fix us up."
"Excuse me?," repeated Giles.
"Uh, you see, we needed an alibi. For Buffy. I couldn't tell her that Fannie is her..."
Willow froze, seeing the look surprise, or was it fear, on Miss Hull's face.
"...uh, her...big sister, sort of. In that Slayer type way. Not until I talked to you first. So that's what I told Buffy. That I was introducing you two. For a hot...is it getting warm in here? You know, hot?"
"Right to the point as always, Willow. But you were correct in talking to me first," said Giles.
"So, Rupert. Do you like Italian?," asked Miss Hull.
"Oh, uh...yes, actually."
"Good. I'll pick you up. Say, eight o'clock?"
"Sounds, uh, great. Yes, eight o'clock," nodded Giles.
"Willow, you said you hadn't eaten yet. Why don't we stop somewhere on the way back to your dorm? And get in a little more girl talk while we're at it, too," said Miss Hull.
"Sounds great," smiled Willow.

"Tara, why don't you wait here until Willow gets back? I'm going patrolling for a while, but I won't be long. I'll walk you back home if she isn't back by the time I return. Okay?," asked Buffy.
"Okay."
"There's a few questions I want to ask her about Miss Hull," said Buffy.
"And that vampire," added Tara.
"Yeah. That too. Bye."
"Bye."
As soon as Buffy had left the room, Tara opened her backpack and took out the leather bound book she had taken from the library. The pages were brown and brittle. It didn't take long to find what she was looking for. Tara decided to visit the bathroom now rather than later when she got deeper into the reading. She left the book open on Willow's bed and kept the door slightly open so that she wouldn't lock herself out.
"Hello? Buffy? Willow?," called Xander, knocking three times as he entered the room. "Is anyone here?"
He noticed the book lying open on the bed and picked it up.
"Hmm. Not exactly bedtime stories for children. And what's with this demon's name? Zhlkyknzhlkee? Yikes! Think of the points I'd get in scrabble for that one. Well, guess I'll drop by some other time," said Xander, tossing the book back onto the bed.
Xander hesitated, a smile growing on his face as he considered rifling through Buffy's underwear drawer.
"Nah. Not worth it. My luck she'd walk through the door just as..."
Xander smiled again and left the room. So he didn't see the curtains move as a cool breeze blew into the room, turning the pages of the book.
Tara entered the room and, feeling how cold it had become, rubbed her arms to get warm. She walked over to the window and closed it. Turning around, she stopped, realizing that the book wasn't in the same spot where she had left it on the bed. And then she noticed that Amy seemed to be very agitated in her cage.
Tara shrugged, picked up the book and flopped down on the bed. Turning the pages she quickly found where she had been reading before.
"So, let's find out what this demon would want as compensation for a rat exchange," said Tara, smiling at Amy. Amy stilled seemed nervous, running from end to end of her cage. Tara stopped smiling and continued reading.
"Maybe we could...ew...double ew!"
Tara read another paragraph and slapped the book shut.
"Willow, you were right. We don't even want to say this demon's name out loud."

Miss Hull had made sure that Willow was safely in her dorm and then began the familiar five minute drive she had been making more and more lately. She parked in front of the house and was surprised to see that the porch light wasn't on. And when she reached the first step of the front porch she noticed that the front door was slightly open. Quickly she ran up the steps, pushed the door open and stepped inside. There were no lights on.
"Hello? Sandra? Are you..."
Miss Hull didn't remember the wall in the hall being painted red. And then she realized what she was seeing. She began to slowly back out of the house and tried to steady herself by holding onto the door, but her hand was shaking too badly. Her foot hit something and she looked down. It was a shoe. Sandra's shoe. But it still had her foot in it.
Miss Hull tried to scream but no sound came out of her mouth. She stumbled back to her car and vomited in the street.

Giles was dreaming. He smiled as the woman's voice called out his name in a whisper.
"Rupert."
It was a pleasant dream. Her voice was very soft and seductive. And familiar. Giles knew that he was in bed, on that edge of waking up or continuing in his dream. She called to him again, still a whisper but with a sense of urgency this time.
"Rupert."
Giles opened his eyes, not knowing if the voice had woken him or if it was the cold he suddenly felt in his room. The blanket was bunched up at his feet so he pulled it up over himself, rolled over and tried to return to his dream. It wasn't long before he began to drift off again.
"Rupert."
Giles immediately sat up. This was no dream.
"Who's there?"
He reached for the light next to the bed.
"No. Leave the lamp off," commanded the voice, still a whisper.
"What do you want? Who are you?," asked Giles, looking around the room. It was dark and he wasn't wearing his glasses but the room seemed empty. Empty and very cold.
"Those you love are in danger," warned the voice softly.
"Who's in danger?," demanded Giles raising his voice more to hide his fear than to be heard.
"A sacrifice will be required. Don't let them make it."
Giles listened but only heard the sound of his own breathing.
"What sacrifice?," he asked.
"I will return. If I can," answered the whisper.
"Do I know you?," asked Giles, his voice now a whisper. The room didn't seem as cold as before.
"Jenny, is that you?"
Giles turned the light on. The room was empty.

CHAPTER THREE

Willow smiled and stretched, not wanting to open her eyes yet. It was warm in her bed under the blanket, and if she wanted to she could sleep in today. She opened one eye to see what time it was on her alarm clock. And looked into two eyes staring at her not six inches away.
Too startled to even cry out, Willow jumped up and kicked the blanket off, trying to remember where she put her cross. But then she saw that it was already light out.
"Good morning."
"Buffy! Are you nuts! I could've...well, I might have...don't do that!," yelled Willow.
"Sorry. Are you always this grumpy in the morning?," asked Buffy with mock sincerity.
"Grumpy!? You're just lucky that I got that Wrath of Rosenberg under control in time," said Willow, baring her teeth.
"Well, if it's as mean as your morning breath, I'll consider myself lucky."
Willow opened her mouth in surprise and then covered it with one hand.
"I'm sorry," laughed Buffy. "Your breath is fine. Really! After I walked Tara home last night I went patrolling and got in late. You were already asleep and I didn't want to wake you. But I feel like I've been waiting forever this morning for you to wake up."
"This is about Fannie, right?," asked Willow.
"That's it in a nutshell. I'm sure it's a really long, complicated story, but how did she kill a vampire last night and why were you trying, very badly I might add, to cover up for her?," asked Buffy, out of breath.
"She's a Vampire Slayer," said Willow, pulling her blanket over her, closing her eyes and falling back down on her pillow.
"Oh. Once again, not so long and complicated. A what!? Willow, don't think for a minute that you're going back to bed," said Buffy, pulling the blanket off of Willow.
"Losing beauty sleep here! If I get crow's feet at an early age, you just look back at this moment and remember this is where it all started," pouted Willow. Buffy waited patiently for her friend to explain herself.
"Oh, alright. I didn't tell you because I didn't want to tell Fannie who you were."
"But she kinda figured that one out when I came charging down the hall looking to kick some vampire butt," said Buffy.
"Yeah, kinda. I took her to Giles, thinking he would know what to do."
"That makes sense. But...a Slayer? How? I mean, she's an old geezer!"
"Buffy, she's not that old," complained Willow.
"Okay, she's a young geezer. Willow, we...Willow, Slayers don't live that long. And besides, how can there be three Slayers?"
"Well, it's more like two and a half Slayers."
Buffy didn't say anything for about three seconds.
"I'll skip the huh? and suggest that we get some coffee before we continue this conversation," said Buffy.
"No. Let me try the Cliff Notes version on you. When Fannie was sixteen, the current Slayer got injured very badly. Near death. Fannie was to be the next Slayer and somehow the activation process started. But the real Slayer recovered. And when that Slayer eventually died, Fannie was bypassed and another girl was called. So she's stronger than your average librarian but not as strong as you. And, unfortunately, not as strong as the vampires she fights. She's delved into magic to compensate, but admits she isn't very good at it."
"Wow. Maybe she shouldn't be fighting the bad guys. No?"
"Tell her that. She feels very strongly that it's her duty, that she would be wasting a gift if she didn't," said Willow.
"Didn't the Council ...," began Buffy.
"She didn't find out about the Council until years later. They didn't believe her and wouldn't help her."
"Why am I not surprised?," asked Buffy, shaking her head.
"Fannie also has another ability. Seems she can sense or almost hear someone's heartbeat. Comes in handy for those midnight strolls through the cemetery."
"Cool," said Buffy, smiling.
"Yeah, but she got the wiggins when Giles told her that you didn't have that ability. She assumed it was part of being a Slayer. And on the way home she mentioned that it kinda made her feel less than human."
"What?" "I know. I talked to her. But she's been alone her whole life. No training, no Watcher, not even a few close friends she could confide in. Guess it hasn't been easy for her," pouted Willow.
"Well, she has a few friends now and a Watcher to boot. I mean, not to boot in the kick sense. So, when can I meet big sister?," asked Buffy excitedly.
"Hmm. Maybe not until tomorrow."
"Really? Why?"
"Well, she has that date with Giles tonight," said Willow.
"She's still going through with that? I thought it was just an excuse you told me to take her to Giles."
"So did I, but she's insisting on it," explained Willow.
"Good. Giles needs to get out more. And they're both librarians so they'll have a lot to talk about," added Buffy.
"Besides the whole Slayer Watcher thingy, you mean?," asked Willow.
"Oh. Well, they don't have to talk shop the entire night. They can...let's not go there."
"Right," agreed Willow quickly.
"Wait. Why can't I see her this afternoon?," asked Buffy.
"No good. Xander called last night. I guess he came around and we weren't around and I tried to get around telling him about the big date but he found out and remind me never to play poker but Xander and Anya are taking him shopping for some new clothes today."
"Oh my god. Xander's on the top ten wanted list of the fashion police and Anya...well...it's Anya! Those three together? Shopping? And he agreed to it?"
"Well, what could he say? I'm busy? I have to go to work? What does that man do all day? Buffy, it won't be that bad."

"This is worse than I thought," repeated Giles.
"All I said was that I find the mating rituals of the human male humorous," said Anya.
"Could you explain again how shopping for clothes is a mating ritual?," asked an exasperated Giles.
"Well, look at the birds."
"As in the birds and the bees?," interrupted Xander.
"No. Just the birds," corrected Anya. "To attract a female, the male struts around in bright, gaudy plumage. Whichever male has the biggest...(Anya caught Xander giving her a warning with his wide open eyes)...plumage, usually gets to mate with the most females."
"He's the Barry White of the aviary world," said Xander.
"Exactly. The female bird finds the more colorful male more desirable than his drab colored brother. So if Giles wants to impress his date enough to have sex with her, he should, well, dress in brighter colors? Does that make sense?," asked Anya.
"It's to the point," agreed Xander.
"Like a sledgehammer," added Giles. He held up a brightly flowered Hawaiian shirt in shades of red, blue and green. "How's this?," he asked sarcastically.
"I don't know, Giles. Retro is in, but it applies to the clothes, not the person wearing them," said Xander.
"Xander, why don't you dress nicely for me?," asked Anya.
"What's wrong with what I wear?," asked Xander. He didn't see Giles roll his eyes.
"I don't know. I mean, most of the time we're together you're undressed, but still, don't you want to impress me?," asked Anya.
"You mean if I dressed nicer we'd have more sex?," asked Xander.
"I believe an 'oh dear' is an appropriate interjection," commented Giles dryly.
"Anya, the mind boggling possibilities of more sex aside, maybe if I dressed nicer, I'd actually be hurting our relationship."
"Huh?," said both Anya and Giles at the same time.
"Think about it. First, I'd have to spend money on new clothes and that would mean I'd have less money to spend on you. Second, if I started strutting my stuff, I might attract other females. And you wouldn't want that, right?"
"Well, no."
"See! I dress the way I do just for you!," said Xander.
"Oh, Xander! That's so sweet!," said Anya, hugging him. Giles rolled his eyes again and continued looking through the clothes racks.
"Giles, how about these?," asked Anya, handing him a faded pair of denim jeans. "It would be a new look for you."
"Perhaps. But...button down fly? I'm more of a zipper aficionado," replied Giles.
"Oh, well then try these," said Anya, handing him the same style of pants but with a zipper. "You know what they say. Times fun when you're having flies," smiled Anya sincerely.
Neither Xander nor Giles spoke for a moment.
"Xander, you have the innocence of youth, your whole life ahead of you and an attractive girlfriend. And I don't envy you for one second," said Giles.
Xander opened his mouth to say something but couldn't think of a good comeback.
"Anya, are you sure about these? The cowboy look is so...not English," said Giles, holding up the jeans.
"Scary, even," commented Xander.
"Not as scary as that movie you made me watch last night," complained Anya.
"Movie?," asked Giles, wondering what movie could scare a retired Vengeance demon over one thousand years old.
"Harvey," said Anya, pouting.
"Harvey? The Jimmy Stewart movie about the invisible...rabbit," said Giles, finally understanding.
"Yes, that one. You know Anya has this wiggins for bunnies," explained Xander.
"And you couldn't even see this one! I couldn't sleep! You can't imagine what I had to do with Xander so that he would stay awake with me," said Anya. Xander gave Giles an embarrassed smile.
"Speaking of rabbits," mumbled Giles to himself.
"What was that?," asked Anya.
"Oh, nothing. Just wondering if I'll be able to fall asleep myself tonight with that vision in mind. Next time I'd suggest a cartoon before bedtime. Watership Down, perhaps," said Giles with a smile. Both Xander and Anya seemed to like the suggestion.
"Maybe you're right. You might not be ready for that yet," said Anya, pointing to the jeans Giles was holding. "I know! Monochromatic! That look is in," said Anya, excitedly.
"The what look?," asked Giles.
"You know, black shirt, black tie, black jacket. Or go with gray so you don't look like you're attending a funeral," suggested Anya.
"She might be onto something there, Giles," agreed Xander. "There, right behind you," he pointed.
"Hmm. Alright, I think I'll try these on," said Giles, finding a shirt in his size and pulling a jacket off the rack. He headed over to the dressing room.
"Xander, Giles thinks I'm attractive. Why don't you ever tell me I'm attractive?"
"I do," protested Xander.
"No, you don't."
"Well, it's hard for me to express myself sometimes."
"Oh, so it's a guy thing. Like not asking for directions, leaving the seat up, not calling back when you say you will and scratching yourself?," asked Anya.
"Uh...yes?," shrugged Xander. He held up the Hawaiian shirt that Giles had before in front of himself and looked in a mirror. He noticed Anya smiling at him but she didn't know Xander had seen her. Xander turned to her and smiled.
"What?," snapped Anya.
"As pathetic as the human male is, right now you're thinking about sex, aren't you?," accused Xander.
"Sex in general or sex with you?," asked Anya, glancing at Xander then looking away.
Xander smiled and shook his head.
"Vampires, demons and witches be damned, you're going to be the death of me!," said Xander. Anya smiled but didn't look at him.
"Hey Giles, don't bogart that dressing room. I've got a shirt to try on!," called Xander.
Just then Giles opened the dressing room door.
"Giles! You da man!," said Xander, giving him two thumbs up.
"Smooth," agreed Anya, walking over to Giles and running her hand up his arm. "That poor girl doesn't stand a chance."
"Really?," grinned Giles, glancing in the mirror.
"You heartbreaker, you. Definite mattress material. You'd better stop off at the drug store on the way home," hinted Anya. Giles stopped smiling at stared at Xander, who could only shrug his shoulders and force a smile.
"Nothing but net. Of course, I'm not exactly sure what that means, but Xander likes to say it. Oh! Shoes! Giles, you have to get a new pair of shoes," said Anya.
"Why not?," laughed Giles. "Let's do it up right, shall we?"
"That's the spirit. We'll get your nose out of those books and into..."
"Anya!," yelled Xander, this time rolling his eyes.
"What?," she asked, truly dumbfounded.

Willow looked around but didn't see Miss Hull anywhere. She walked up to the Reference desk where she could usually be found and spoke to another librarian that she had seen before but whose name she didn't know.
"Excuse me, but is Miss Hull working today?," asked Willow.
"No, she isn't. Oh, wait. You're Willow, aren't you?"
"Yes. How did you know?"
"Fannie talks about you all the time. She wishes more students liked to read as much as you do," said the librarian. Willow smiled, embarrassed.
"Oh, I'm Miss Wilson."
"Hi. Willow, but you already knew that."
"But...I guess you didn't hear about what happened last night."
"Happened? No, what...is Miss Hull alright?," asked Willow, concerned.
"Oh, nothing happened to her. It was in the paper this morning. About the murder, I mean," explained Miss Wilson.
"Murder?"
"A woman was murdered in her home last night. She was a close friend of Fannie's. In fact, Fannie found the body and called the police."
"Oh no! That's terrible!," said Willow, shocked. "But...I was with her last night. It must've happened right after she dropped me off! Can you tell me where she lives? I should go to her."
"Well, we're not supposed to give that information out, but I'm sure I can make an exception in this case."
Miss Wilson wrote down the address on a piece of paper.
"Here. And tell her to call me if there's anything I can do."
Willow nodded and quickly left the library.

Willow walked up to the front door of the small brick house and suppressed a smile. She couldn't help thinking of the Three Little Pigs huddled in their brick house with the Big Bad Wolf huffing and puffing outside the door. She pressed the doorbell and waited but Miss hull didn't answer the door. Willow knocked. Waited. Still no answer. But Miss Hull's car was in the driveway.
Willow leaned over a small shrub to the left of the door and peered in the bay window of the living room. Miss Hull was lying on her side, collapsed on the floor with her back to Willow. Willow pushed against the door but it was locked.
"Okay, girl. Think!," said Willow out loud. "Oh! I know! A spell. Right. Now, which one?"
Willow closed her eyes and slowed her breathing to relax herself. She turned both palms outward towards the door and her lips moved as she mouthed the words to the spell. As she neared the end of her incantation, she gave voice to her command.
"Deny me not, this barricade be broken...let me pass, my desire is spoken," finished Willow, making a fist with both of her hands. The door opened with a resounding click.
"Oh, yeah. I'm bad," smiled Willow, rushing into Fannie's home. She took four or five steps and froze.
Miss Hull was sitting on the floor facing her, both hands palm down on the floor beside her knees. Her lips were moving but she wasn't speaking.
"Fannie! Are you alright?"
Miss Hull continued to stare at Willow, her lips still moving.
"What's wrong? Are you hurt? It's me. Willow," said Willow, noticing for the first time that Fannie was sitting inside a circle painted on the floor. She took two steps to her left and Miss Hull followed her with her eyes but didn't move her head.
"Okay, I recognize the Circle of Protection. I mean, there's a variation or two I'm not familiar with. But obviously you're afraid of something. Hey! You don't think I'm really Willow!"
Willow felt her hair start to cling to her, as if charged with static electricity.
"You're beginning a spell. Fannie, it's really me. How can I...alright, whatever you're doing, I will not try to counter it. So I hope it isn't too painful, because, well, it's going to work," warned Willow very nervously.
Miss Hull stopped moving her lips and Willow immediately felt the change in the air.
"Thank you," whispered Willow.
Willow took a deep breath.
"So, how do I convince you...I know. I know! Your circle is intact, unbroken. I'm not going to speak anymore so that you'll know that I'm not trying to deceive you. Just watch and you'll understand. I'm going to move very slowly."
Willow walked very slowly over to Miss Hull and knelt down. Even slower she extended her right hand, palm up, towards Miss Hull. Fannie was no longer staring at Willow but looking at her hand. Willow's hand passed through the edge of the circle. Miss Hull looked up and Willow smiled and nodded. Finally her hand touched Fannie's arm.
Miss Hull started crying and Willow hugged her.
"Don't be afraid. It's me. It's only me," whispered Willow.
Miss Hull hugged Willow with both of her arms but cried even harder, her head pressed against Willow's shoulder.
"Shhh. It's okay now. It's okay," repeated Willow, stroking Fannie's hair and wondering what could have frightened a Slayer this much.

"Feeling better?"
Miss Hull nodded but her eyes were still red from crying.
"I said I was up to wrestling with a cup of coffee but this stuff is too weak to defend itself," said Miss Hull, forcing a smile.
"Sorry. College dorm girl is only used to making instant," answered Willow apologetically. "Ready to talk about it yet?"
"I've known...I knew Sandra for almost four years. She was very gifted. Magic came so easily to her. Effortless. Obviously I dabble a little more than I let on, but I didn't lie. It's hard, it just isn't natural with me. Sandra knew what I was. And since part of my duty calls for me to slay demons as well as vampires, she agreed to help me."
Miss Hull took another sip of her coffee and winced.
"We would summon lesser demons, bind them and then kill them."
"Isn't that dangerous?," asked Willow.
"We didn't think so. Better than waiting for them to come looking for you."
"I guess," said Willow, not convinced.
"I don't know how it happened. We couldn't have done it," said Miss Hull, staring off at nothing.
"Done what?"
"Unleashed this demon. A bad one. Oh, we knew of it. Knew that it ever came into this world we would both be in danger."
"Why?," asked Willow.
"This demon, and I'm sure you're aware of the danger of even saying the names of the older ones out loud, right?," asked Miss Hull.
"Of course."
"This demon, once summoned, not only tries to kill the person who called it, but it hunts down anyone who harms other demons as well. It hates one other entity, but that's so rare I doubt it applies in this case. Anyway, it takes a very intense banishing spell to send this demon back to its own dimension. Either that, or it returns on its own after..."
"I'm afraid to ask. After what?," questioned Willow.
"After it receives a sacrifice of its own choosing or it kills as many people as there are letters in its name. It spells its name, letter by letter, after each kill. With the victim's blood. There was a letter Z on the wall at Sandra's house. I bet you won't see that in the police report."
"So you know the name of this demon. But why would anyone summon this thing?," asked Willow, shaking her head.
"They probably didn't mean to. If the name is said out loud, even by mistake, and this demon has a reason to appear, consider it summoned. The only other reason to summon it would be for it to assist in black magic. With a price attached, of course."
"A bargain. A trade, but you don't know what it wants. Oh my god," said Willow.
"What? You know this..."
"It was in that book. In the library. Tara and I were researching spells. I read about this demon. But we didn't speak its name! I promise, we didn't!," said Willow, getting upset.
"Are you sure Tara didn't? Are you positive?," asked Miss Hull.
"Not while I was with her. And she knows better! I talked to her today, so she's okay. And I saw Buffy. Buffy! This thing is going to go after Buffy! I mean, how many demons has she killed? And...and you knew! You knew this thing might go after her and you didn't call us to warn us? How could you?," accused Willow, standing up.
"No, Willow! You're wrong. Neither Tara nor Buffy were in any danger last night. Not for a minute."
"Oh?," managed Willow, sitting back down.
"No. First of all, this demon sleeps twelve hours, then hunts for twelve. Every so often last night I would leave the Circle, just long enough for it to be aware of me. I kept it here. And believe me, it was here. It can take on many forms, usually something you're afraid of, just to throw you off, get you upset. But it can also take on the form of a loved one, someone you trust, so that you let your guard down."
"What form did it appear to you as?," asked Willow.
"I'd rather not say."
"Wait. You thought it took on my form. But didn't you think it was sleeping?," asked Willow, confused.
"I wasn't sure. And I felt you when you used magic to open the front door."
"You felt me? Using magic? How?," asked Willow.
"A little trick Sandra taught me. I'll teach you," offered Miss Hull.
"Dabble my arse. You're a witch," said Willow.
Miss Hull only smiled.
"But, how did you last this long? I mean, Buffy has us to fall back on for support, to help her research stuff. You've been...so alone."
"Rule number one, Willow, is don't die. Rule number two is reread rule number one. You do what you have to do," answered Miss Hull.
"Fannie, about this banishment spell. It's not that I'm worried about you having the skills needed to perform it, but, I mean, you're tired. Very tired. Maybe Tara and I could do it for you."
"Tara?"
"Oh, yeah. She's a powerful witch. And she knows about Buffy. And, well, she kinda knows about you. Hope you don't mind," said Willow.
"Not at all. If she knows who the real Slayer is, then I can assume we can trust her."
"Nothing to worry about there. If this spell as intense as you say it is..."
"It is. But I think two young witches could pull it off. I already have the ingredients we need. I just have to show you how," said Miss Hull.
"This third entity you spoke of," began Willow. "What was it?"
"Oh, this demon doesn't like other demons who give up their powers to become human. Like I said, it's not very common. I mean, what demon wants to give up its powers?"
"Could this apply to demons who have lost their power? Involuntarily?," asked Willow nervously.
"Yes, I guess it would. Why?"
"Oh, this is not good. See, it's not as rare as you thought," frowned Willow.
"What do you mean?"
"There's this boy, Xander. He's part of our little group."
"And he was a demon?"
"No. But his girlfriend Anya was. Vengeance demon. Kinda nasty. Well, if you were a scummy male type anyway," explained Willow. "We'd better call Giles and assemble the gang."
"The gang? You guys act out West Side Story on weekends?"
"No. Third Tuesday of every month. And you know what? You're now an honorary member," said Willow, reaching for the phone. Miss Hull gave her an odd look.
Willow picked up the phone but didn't dial.
"Wait. Tara's not home. She went to check out a new magic shop. I'd better call Buffy first."
Willow dialed the number. The phone rang four times and Willow worried that the answering machine would pick up, but Buffy answered.
"Hi Buffy."
"Willow, what's up?"
"You okay? You sound out of...oh! Riley's there, right?"
"Uh-huh."
"Sorry to interrupt, but you've got to get to Giles."
"Now?"
"Well, he's probably still out shopping. Make it half an hour. But no later! This is big time serious."
"Sounds...serious."
"Trust me. And I need you to do me a favor. Tara went to that new magic shop. You know, the one down past that little strip mall with the adult book store, the hock shop and the chinese take out?," asked Willow.
"Oh, you mean Porn, Pawn and Prawn?"
"That's the one. I have their phone number written down in my notebook. It should be on the second page. Can you get it for me?"
"Sure. Hold on."
Willow looked at Miss Hull and saw how tired she was. She heard Buffy giggling and then saying 'stop that' to Riley, but she kept giggling. Willow rolled her eyes.
"I'm back," said Buffy and she read the number to Willow. Willow repeated it as she wrote it down.
"Thanks. And Buffy? Half an hour. No later," warned Willow, hanging up before Buffy could argue.
Buffy looked at the phone, shook her head and smiled as she hung it up.
"Good news, bad news," said Buffy, noticing that Riley wasn't looking at her face when she spoke. "What do you want first?"
Lying on the bed, Riley put his arms up behind his head and finally made eye contact with Buffy.
"Let's dispense with the bad first," he said.
"We have to get over to Giles. Good news is we still have half an hour," smiled Buffy. She took a step towards the bed and knocked Willow's notebook to the floor. Buffy sighed and knelt down to pick it up, gathering in a few scattered papers too. One of them caught her eye and she held it out to read it. Riley saw Buffy's shoulders droop as she sat on the floor.
"What's wrong?," he asked.
Buffy didn't seem to hear him. She stared at the piece of paper in front of her and slowly brought her hand to her mouth.

CHAPTER FOUR

"From what you've told me, Fannie, I believe Willow and Tara can successfully complete the banishment. But are you sure the demon will come to you?," asked Giles.
"I have no doubt at all. Which is why you, Riley and Xander shouldn't be there," said Fannie.
"But..."
"But nothing, Rupert. There's no need to place you three in danger. You'll be safer here than at my place. Don't worry. Everyone will be in a Circle of Protection," said Fannie.
"And I've made scapulas for us to wear," added Willow.
"Again with the sulfur? And they worked so well the last time," said Xander.
"Last time?," asked Fannie.
"Oh, there was a ghost at the high school. He thought 'In The Still Of The Night' was still on the Top Forty on radio. It wasn't that I made them wrong, it was just that the ghost was too powerful. So maybe Xander's right," pouted Willow.
"No, every little bit helps. It was a good idea," said Fannie, making Willow smile.
"What time do you expect this demon to appear?," asked Giles.
"I'm not sure," admitted Fannie. "The police say Sandra was killed around nine o'clock, and the demon left me sometime around seven in the morning, so we should be in place and ready by sunset. That's my best guess."
"Guess?," repeated Xander. "You're guessing?"
"Not much more we can do, really. It sleeps for twelve hours," said Miss Hull.
"Any chance we can find it during nap time?," asked Buffy.
"I don't know. What do you think, Rupert?," asked Fannie, noticing that Buffy kept glancing at her but would look away when she tried to make eye contact. In fact, Buffy seemed nervous.
"Perhaps if I knew its name I could look it up in one of these books," suggested Giles.
"Yes, that might help. Here, I'll write it down for you," said Miss Hull.
"Why don't you just say it out loud," asked Xander. Everyone in the room except Riley looked at him.
"Xander, if you say a demon's name out loud, well, at least with the very old ones, there's a chance that you could accidentally summon what you name," explained Willow.
"Oh."
"You don't have to write it down. It's...it's in here," said Tara, handing the book she took from the library to Giles. Tara looked down at the floor as she spoke.
"I...I borrowed this fr...from the library. W...wa...we were researching a spell...and..."
"It's okay, Tara," said Willow, touching her arm. "You were only trying to help Amy."
"But I didn't say its name. I didn't!"
"I know," said Willow.
"Thank you, Tara," said Giles, reading the section of the book she had bookmarked.
"Xander, there are Slayers, witches, Watchers and ex-demons in the room. Do you have any hidden talents? Anything that you're good at?," asked Miss Hull.
"Uh, well..."
"He gets doughnuts," said Anya.
Xander and Fannie looked at Anya.
"That's what I'm good at?," asked Xander.
"Well, that's not all," smiled Anya.
"Please, we don't have to know," offered Willow.
"Oh, he can run like the wind," added Anya.
"Really? Spell induced speed?," asked Miss Hull.
"No. Usually just the first sign of a demon and 'poof', he's off like the wind," said Anya. Xander forced himself to smile.
"Excuse me, I think I'll go look for my ego. It should be here on the floor somewhere," said Xander, getting up and walking over to Giles.
"Over eleven hundred years as a Vengeance demon and I still can't figure out how males think. Did I say something wrong?," asked Anya.
"Don't worry about it. Figure out males? It can't be done," said Miss Hull with Anya nodding in agreement.
"Tara, wasn't that book in your room last night? On the bed?," asked Xander.
"Yes. How did you know?"
"Oh, I stopped by but no one was there. I saw it...and..."
"And you read it?," asked Giles, looking up at Xander. "Out loud?," he asked again, louder.
"Um...I may have glanced at a page or two. But you know me. Even if I had read that demon's name out loud, and I'm not admitting that I did, what are the chances I would have pronounced it correctly anyway?"
No one in the room spoke.
"Hey! Anyone feel like doughnuts?," asked Xander.
"Is this the name you spoke?," demanded Giles, handing the book to Xander and pointing to the name.
"It's hard to remember. I mean, all these demon names look the same. Don't they?," laughed Xander. No one laughed with him.
Anya walked over and took the book from Xander.
"Zhlkyknzhlkee!? You summoned Zhlkyknzhlkee!?," yelled Anya.
"Anya! You're not supposed to say the name!," said Xander, waving his hands.
"It doesn't matter now, shit for brains! The toothpaste is out of the tube and it's not going back in. All these years of demon hunting and you didn't about know this!?," cried Anya.
"Reverting to our Vengeance demon ways, are we?," answered Xander defensively. Anya refused to look at him.
"Anya, do you know this demon?," asked Buffy.
"Yes. We...we had lunch. Once."
"Lunch?," repeated Xander.
"Okay, it was a one night stand. But it was a long time ago. And it didn't mean anything. I was young. Well, younger," answered Anya.
"Anya!," yelled Giles, getting everyone's attention.
"Anya," said Giles, much quieter, "is there anything you can tell us about this demon? Any weaknesses we an exploit?"
"Nibbling on his ear made him weak in his knees," said Anya, causing Willow to slap her forehead with her hand. "But I don't suppose that's what you're looking for," said Anya, pouting. "Sorry."
Giles took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes.
"What's plan B?," asked Buffy.
"Plan B?," said Miss Hull.
"Just in case Tara and Willow can't banish...what's his name," said Buffy.
"I hadn't gotten that far," admitted Miss Hull.
Anya looked very sad and sat down on the floor. She was trying hard not to cry. Xander sat down next to her and put his arm around her. She responded by putting her head on his shoulder. Willow suddenly felt sorry for her. She might have lived a long time but right now she was a scared little girl. Willow went over to her and put a scapula around Anya's neck and smiled.
"Don't worry, Anya. I'll protect you. I promise," whispered Willow. Anya smiled her thanks.
"Is there anything the Initiative can do?," asked Riley, speaking for the first time. Even Buffy seemed to have forgotten him.
"The Initiative?," asked Miss Hull.
"Long story. Good guys. Fill you in later," said Buffy. "But I don't think they can help. Not against magic."
"Maybe. Maybe not. But I need to do something," said Riley, standing up. "I'm going to check our records. It's better than just sitting here, and who knows? Maybe I'll find something useful. Be back in an hour."
"Forty-five minutes," said Buffy, standing and giving him a peck on the cheek. He nodded his consent and left.
"Well Xander, I guess you have a date with five girls tonight," said Miss Hull.
"And would you believe that not even one naughty thought crossed my mind when you said that? Well, okay, maybe just one," admitted Xander. "But is there something I can do besides just being bait?"
No one answered.
"Fine. Just do me one favor then."
"What, Xander?," asked Willow.
"If I vomit, keep me off my back. If I'm going to exit, stage right, then I want to go out in a more dignified manner than choking to death."
Xander got up and left the room.
"Ew," said Willow.
"I'll second that ew and raise it to a yuck," added Buffy.

Xander had wanted to stop by his house on the way to Miss Hull's, so he and Anya had left on their own. Giles had said he would call when Riley got back. Buffy sat in the front seat of Miss Hull's car, Willow and Tara were in back.
"Are you two going to sit there and pretend that you have nothing to talk about?," asked Willow. Miss Hull looked at her in the rear view mirror.
"She's right," agreed Fannie. "Buffy, I've been trying to find you for years. And here you are, not only living in the same town but attending the same school I work at."
"Small world," said Buffy.
"I've wondered how your life was going," said Fannie. Driving, she didn't see Buffy wince even though Buffy had her head turned towards her. But Willow noticed.
"You mean how the Slaying is going?," asked Buffy. Miss Hull didn't answer right away.
"Of course. Being the Slayer," replied Fannie.
"It's...I'm doing good. With the Slaying. And I'm leading an almost normal life now!"
"Mind if I take notes? 'Cause this is fascinating. I might want to write a book," said Willow sarcastically. Miss Hull smiled.
"All the times I imagined meeting you and now I don't even know what to say to you. Hi. I'm Fannie," said Miss Hull, extending her right hand to Buffy. Buffy shook it.
"I'm sorry. Guess I'm just preoccupied. Too much stuff running around in my head. Causing preoccupation. I mean, you two know what's going on. This is all new to me. About the demon, that is," explained Buffy. She glanced at Willow but quickly looked away.
Willow wondered what was bothering Buffy. She put a hand out and touched Buffy's shoulder but Buffy didn't turn around to look at her.
"Well, here we are. We'd better get started right away. We don't have much time. Willow, I'll show you two how to create the first Circle, then you and Tara can start the second one," said Miss Hull, getting out of the car. She stuck her head in again to talk to Buffy.
"Buffy, maybe I should show you how to create one. Might come in useful someday. You never know."
"Sure. Whatever," answered Buffy. Miss Hull looked at Buffy, then walked to the front door.
"Buffy, what's wrong? She's only trying to help. Trying to make a connection," said Willow.
"Yeah. It's like her maternal instincts are kicking in," said Buffy, getting out of the car and slamming the door.
"Oh boy! Tara, go inside. Tell Fannie we'll be right in. I have to talk to Buffy."
"Sure."
"Buffy, wait!," called Willow. They didn't talk until Tara went into the house.
"Okay, this might sound a little selfish, but I need to know what's bothering you. It's bad enough if you're distracted and you have to fight, but Tara and I have to attempt a very complicated spell. And if I'm worried about you, I'll be distracted. So what's the what?," asked Willow.
"I found the birth certificate, Will. When were you going to tell me? On Mother's Day?"
"Oh. Oh! But no, see...hey, wait a minute. You were going through my stuff? I don't go snooping through your stuff! You know, it could be embarrassing if, well, if I found love letters that Riley had sent to you!"
"What love letters?," asked Buffy.
"There's no letters?," asked Willow. "You mean you're not up to the written word yet?"
"No. So what's up with that? There should be flowers, and letters, and, and chocolate too! I mean, we've slept together and...and where they hell is this conversation going? You were yelling at me. Let's get back to the yelling part," said Buffy.
"I'm sorry, Buffy. Fannie wouldn't let me tell you. It doesn't make sense. She can't be your mother. Can she?"
"I don't know. And I wasn't snooping. It fell out of your notebook when I was getting that telephone number for you. Look, there's no time to deal right now. Tomorrow. After the demon," said Buffy, almost trying to convince herself.
"Maybe you should talk to her. Get it out in the open," suggested Willow.
"No. Not yet. Not now."
Just then Xander and Anya rode up on bicycles. Xander noticed the odd looks he got from Willow and Buffy.
"Well, it's faster than walking if you don't have a car," said Xander.

"Very good, Tara. Did you follow that, Buffy? Or are we doing the Circles too fast?," asked Miss Hull.
"To be honest, I've had chemistry tests that looked easier than that. You might as well be explaining fire to me by saying 'that's good, Buffy, just keep banging those rocks together'."
"Don't worry about it. It took me years to really get good with Circles. Think of it as cooking. You get better with practice," said Miss Hull.
"And I'm such a great cook," replied Buffy.
"Willow, for the second Circle, change the order of invocation. Even if you bind a Circle with the same spirits as the first one, changing the order may prevent a demon from violating the Circle if it figures out the first one. Understand?," asked Miss Hull.
"Sure. That would work with concentric rings, too, making them, well, thicker."
"Right," nodded Miss Hull.
"Tara, this time we'll go with spirits of field and stream, earth and wood," instructed Willow. Tara nodded in agreement.
"Field and Stream magazine has spirits? It's haunted? That's the last time I read that one," said Xander.
Miss Hull looked up from the Circle she was working on.
"Xander, you must pack one helluva box of doughnuts," said Fannie. There were smiles but no one outright laughed.
"No, see, this is banter. It's what we do. Group banter. Right? Willow, tell her," said Xander. No one answered him.
"Fannie, if you want a jelly doughnut you have to be quick. Buffy and Giles go after them like a crow to road kill," said Willow, smiling. "It can get ugly."
"Nice visual, Will. And the banter? Tell her," said Xander.
The phone rang and Buffy, seeing that Miss Hull was busy, went to get it.
"It's probably Giles," said Buffy. "Hello? Oh, hi Giles. Thought it might be you. Any word from Riley?...No, I didn't think he'd find anything either. Tell him to stay with you and I'll call soon as it's over. And I don't want any of the Initiative guys around here as backup. If we only drive this thing off then they'll just get in the way. Okay?...I will. You too. Bye."
"Nothing?," asked Willow.
"No," said Buffy, shaking her head.
"Willow, why are you using colored sand? Miss Hull already has a circle here and it's done in paint," said Xander.
"There's not enough time to use paint. The blessing takes longer," answered Willow, not looking up from her work.
"So be careful not to step on the sand, Xander. The Circle must not be broken," said Anya.
"She's right," added Tara.
"Got it. Bait stays in Circle. So then how do we attract the demon? If the bait is in the Circle, I mean," asked Xander.
"Me. I'll be outside of my Circle until I attract it," said Miss Hull.
"Maybe I should be the one to get it's attention. I think it's in my job description, " said Buffy.
"No. You'll be in the painted Circle. Willow and Tara will be safe back here and they need the larger Circle. The demon will know that you are its strongest enemy and will concentrate his will on you. You're safer in there than even I would be. And as far as bait goes, this thing knows me now. I'll get its attention quicker than you could. Okay, everyone, let's go over our game plan one last time," said Miss Hull.

Giles hung up the phone. There was really nothing he could do now except wait. He decided to make some tea while he waited for Riley. And suddenly the room grew cold. Again. He knew what it meant.
"Jenny? Is that you?"
"No questions, Rupert," came the whisper. Giles couldn't tell where it was coming from.
"I will be with them, Rupert. If I can, I will help," said the voice, even softer now.
"Jenny, please! Show yourself. I...I need to see you. Please."
On the other side of the room a shadow began to take form, growing darker and more solid. Giles watched, not understanding what he was seeing. The room grew colder still. The shape took form. And Giles closed his eyes and turned his head, unable to look at what he had seen.
The room was no longer cold, but still Giles didn't open his eyes. He began to cry.

CHAPTER FIVE

The room was quiet. It had been for some time now. They could hear the ticking of the grandfather clock in the next room. Willow and Tara were in the same Circle, farthest from the door. Next came Xander and Anya, each in their own Circle. Finally, closest to the door, were Buffy and Fannie. Everyone was sitting down, resting. Buffy would touch her chin to a knee, pause and repeat this with her other leg. Stretching helped her prepare both mentally and physically and also gave her something to do.
Miss Hull sat with her eyes closed and her hands palm down on the floor next to her knees. Her breathing was deep and slow. She was not in her Circle but sat even closer to the door.
"Xander, aren't you hot? Why don't you take off your windbreaker?," whispered Anya. Her voice seemed very loud and broke the silence that had overtaken the room.
"No, I'm fine. Really," said Xander.
They listened again to the ticking of the clock until it began to chime eight o'clock. Both Tara and Anya jumped and, embarrassed, smiled at one another. As soon as the eighth bell had chimed Miss Hull opened her eyes.
"It's time," said Fannie, standing up. The others stood as well.
"Is it here?," asked Buffy.
As if in answer to her question, the front door began to bulge inward from its middle.
"Yep," replied Fannie in a very non-librarian manner. "And it's not very happy. Willow, Tara, you can start now. Remember, only whisper the words. Don't let it hear you. And Buffy, remain still. I don't think it knows that you are here."
"How?," asked Buffy. Miss Hull glanced at her.
"Let me rephrase that. Why?"
"I'm not sure," answered Miss Hull.
The door bulged inward again, this time bending even more. Buffy wondered why the door didn't snap. Tara was staring at the door and Willow saw how upset she looked, so she touched her face with her hand.
"Hey, it's going to be okay. I've been through worse. Let's get started," said Willow softly. Tara swallowed and nodded. Willow lit a candle, deep blue in color, and centered it between them.
Willow put her hands up, palms outward towards Tara. Tara reached out and held them. They both closed their eyes. Then the door handle turned and the door slowly swung open. Everyone looked at the apparition standing there, even Willow and Tara. Willow felt Tara's hands squeeze hers tighter.
"Great. It figures. Had to be a frog. A big, slimy frog," complained Willow.
"What do you mean a frog? Is this guy an insurance salesman or the ghost of Don Knotts?," asked Xander.
"Don Knotts is dead?," asked Buffy.
"No, but his career is," replied Xander.
"It's Harvey!," said Anya.
"Huh?," grunted Buffy.
"Big white rabbit. Don't you watch late night television?," asked Xander. Buffy didn't answer him. She took a deep breath but wouldn't say what she saw. The room grew colder as Miss Hull stepped back inside her Circle.
The creature began to pace back and forth between Buffy and Miss Hull, like an animal in a cage.
"Tara, close your eyes. Let's start again," said Willow.
The creature slowed its pacing and the room grew noticeably colder. Anya grasped the scapula hanging from around her neck and held it in front of her, closing her eyes. Xander looked at her but she was too far away for him to reach out to her. Glancing behind he noticed that he could see Willow and Tara's breath as they whispered their chant.
Even Buffy looked back to the two witches. Until now she had not broken eye contact with the demon. She didn't care what Fannie said, that thing looked her in the eye and knew she was here. Suddenly the flame of the candle grew taller, rising up until it was almost as high as the girl's waists. Willow let go of Tara's hands and opened a leather pouch that hung from her belt. Tara kept her eyes closed.
Willow poured what looked like green sand into her left hand from the pouch. She brought it to her lips, mumbled something and threw it into the flame. Instantly the flame changed color, turning blue. There was the sound of a loud crack, as if someone had let a window shade snap open. Willow and Tara looked towards the demon and Buffy followed their gaze.
Whatever each of them saw, the creature stopped pacing. It now put its hands on its hips and tilted its head slightly.
"Uh, Fannie? It's still here," said Willow slowly.
The creature suddenly raised both hands over its head. A breeze blew out the candle and Xander watched in horror as the Circle of sand surrounding Anya began to blow away. No one else's Circle seemed to be affected.
"Xander! Do something!," screamed Anya.
Xander leapt from his Circle. The demon brought its left arm down at him but he caught it and forced it back up into the demon's face, getting in two hard punches to its ribs on its left side under the arm.
"Xander, no!," yelled Buffy.
"STAY!," screamed Fannie, pointing at Buffy before she could move. And Buffy froze.
The demon smashed its right forearm into Xander's face and he flew across the room and into the wall near the window, sliding down until he was sitting, looking up at the creature. Miss Hull stepped from her Circle.
"Zhlkyknzhlkee! Leave them alone! You know what I am. You knew last night. Defeat me and I am the sacrifice! But first you must defeat me. Let's get it on!," yelled Miss Hull, assuming a fighting stance in front of the creature.
Suddenly a loud noise exploded in the room. The demon fell to the floor, a bloodless hole in the center of its forehead. Everyone looked at Xander. He was holding a gun.
"Always have a plan B! Good only for doughnuts, my ass!," smiled Xander.
Miss Hull knelt down next to the demon. It did not move.
"That's it? One bullet and the Big Bad is dead? Oh, I gotta start rethinking the tools of my trade!," said Buffy. "Sharp, pointy sticks? Why bother?"
"Willow, something's not right," said Tara.
"What do you mean?," asked Willow quickly. "You sense something?"
"Either that thing isn't dead, or something else is in the room with us. Or both!," warned Tara.
"Fannie, don't touch it!," yelled Willow. But even as she did, the demon sprang up and grabbed Fannie by both shoulders.
Fannie cried out in pain and then her head dropped loosely to one shoulder. Buffy took a step towards it but was pushed aside by Anya.
"No! Don't touch her! It's over," said Anya. And as she said that the demon exploded into ash like a vampire being staked. Miss Hull collapsed face down on the floor. Buffy looked at Anya.
"Oh! No, it's okay now. Help her already!," said Anya.
Buffy shook her head and rolled Fannie over onto her back. Xander knelt down beside her and Willow and Tara stood behind Buffy. Buffy put a hand to Fannie's throat.
"Okay, she's got a pulse," announced Buffy, who then put her ear next to Fannie's mouth.
"And she's breathing. Willow, any ideas? Anya?"
"I don't know what happened," said Willow. "Sorry, but I don't know what to tell you."
"It's okay. She'll be fine in a...," began Anya. Fannie opened her eyes.
"Minute or two," finished Anya.
"Fannie! Are you alright?," asked Buffy.
Miss Hull suddenly looked very frightened. She opened her eyes wide and quickly sat up.
"Hey, it's okay. The demon's gone," said Willow. Miss Hull looked even more frightened. She scrambled backwards, crab like, trying to get away from them. She didn't stop until her back hit the wall. She put one hand to an ear and stared at them, mouth open. Buffy looked at Willow and shrugged her shoulders.
"What's wrong? Can't you hear me?," cried Willow. "Are you deaf?"
"Hey, the room's not cold anymore," said Xander.
Buffy realized that Fannie was now staring at the cross that hung from her neck. She touched it and held it up for Fannie to see.
"Fannie, what's wrong? It's me. Buffy."
Miss Hull stood up.
"No."
It was all she said before she ran out of the door and into the night.
"Everyone stay here. Willow, call Giles. Tell him to come over with Riley. I'll go to her."
Buffy didn't have to go far. Miss Hull was leaning against a tree in her front yard. She walked slowly towards her but Fannie didn't seem to care.
"Fannie? What happened? Are you hurt?"
Fannie shook her head.
"I can't hear you," said Fannie softly, still not looking at Buffy.
"You're deaf? Is that what it did to you?"
"No. I mean I can't hear your heartbeat. I can't feel it. It's what the demon took. The sacrifice. When I woke up I thought you were all dead. Or worse. Much worse. And then I saw your cross," said Fannie, finally making eye contact with Buffy. "And I knew."
"Knew what?," asked Buffy, even though she thought she understood.
"The demon got its sacrifice. And we don't even know what we get in return."
"I thought it was the other way around. You know, the summoner tells the demon what they want and they don't know what the demon gets in return," said Buffy.
"Usually. Unless...unless the demon returned to wherever it came from. Maybe that's what we get in return. I don't know."
"Anya seemed to think it was gone for good. She said it was over. She should know. I mean, they were on more than just a first name basis with one another."
"Ew," said Fannie.
"That's putting it mildly."
Fannie looked at Buffy.
"It's so strange, not hearing your heart. Scary even. It's been so long."
"Speaking of matters of the heart," began Buffy. "Fannie...are you my mother?"
"Did Willow tell you that?," asked Fannie. Buffy couldn't tell if she was sad or angry.
"No. I found the birth certificate by accident. Willow didn't betray your trust."
"I'm sorry, Buffy. I never meant for you to see that piece of paper. And no. I'm not your mother," said Fannie, now obviously sad. "But I wish I was," she added, forcing a smile.
"But..."
"Let me explain. Or at least try to. I'm not your mother. I'm not a Slayer. I don't know what I am. Something happened to me and I needed answers. Needed to be told...oh, I don't know what I wanted to hear. Would I have become a Slayer? Probably. That much is true. I always thought that if I could find a Watcher, he or she could help me. Teach me. Just be there for me."
Fannie took a deep breath and Buffy waited for her to continue.
"Before, when we would summon demons, I would make them talk. Before I killed them. Make it reveal things."
"Make it?," asked Buffy.
"You know what I mean. From them and through other black magic I was able to determine the place and time of birth of the current Slayer. Give or take a few hours. I determined, over time, that all the other girls were not the Slayer, for various reasons. That left only you."
"So the birth certificate is a forgery," said Buffy.
"Yes. I was going to use it to get your Watcher to accept me. Never meant for the Slayer to know, of course. Turns out I never needed it. I never meant it to go this far. Everything just...got out of control. The paper is a fake, just like me. Just like my life," said Fannie, turning away from Buffy.
"Hey. Aren't you being a little hard on yourself? You are a Slayer. No matter what else you believe, believe that. I don't need special hearing to feel your heart. I know what you are. I know what your life is like," said Buffy, putting her arm around Fannie's shoulder. Fannie didn't say anything and wouldn't look at Buffy.
"Fannie, what did you see? What did the demon appear to you as?"
"Like before. It had a shape but to look upon it...it was more of a feeling. A void. An emptiness. Loneliness taking form. It knew me well."
"Oh, Fannie. You don't have to be lonely anymore."
"No. I don't. It ends here. It's over."
"What? What do you mean?," asked Buffy.
"I can't do this anymore! I'm not a Slayer! I'm stronger, I'm faster...just not strong or fast enough. The only advantage I had over them was that I knew what they were. They couldn't surprise me. Without that, I don't like my odds. I'll get someone killed. Probably me. And I'm not getting any younger. Even my reflexes slow down. Can't fight time."
Buffy didn't know what to say.
"Think about this. I could use all the help I can get," said Buffy weakly.
"It's time for me to live a life. Look at me, Buffy. This could be you in twenty years. The choices you make along the way tend to compound themselves. They add up. They trap you. I'm so sorry if I caused you any pain. I'd be so proud to call you my daughter. Make the right choices, Buffy. Hold onto your friends tightly. Just...just don't be alone when you reach my age."
Miss Hull walked back to the house with her head down.
"If I reach your age, Fannie. If," said Buffy, watching her walk away.

"Well, it turned out to be a nice night after all," said Xander. He and Anya were walking across the campus, hand in hand. Anya pulled him to a stop and made Xander face her.
"Xander, what you did tonight...that was so brave. I'm sorry I got mad at you. You...you were really something special back there."
"Hey, just looking out for my girl," smiled Xander.
"Well, I have something special for you," smiled Anya.
"You mean here? Right now?," asked Xander, looking around.
"Not that, silly. At least not yet. Here. This is for you."
Anya handed him a flat, round piece of metal with a hole in it, about the size of her thumb nail.
"A washer? Am I wishy-washy?," asked Xander.
"No. Guess again."
"Okay. It's not a bolt. That would mean I like to run away. Thankfully it's not a nut. Now a screw, I might be able to glean some meaning from that. But a washer? You want me to shower more often?"
"No. Well, unless I could join you. It's a good luck charm. A symbol, representing a doughnut. I'll never look at a doughnut again and think of you as doughnut boy. I'll just remember what you did for me," said Anya, kissing Xander quickly on the cheek.
"Anya, that is so sweet! And you know, this is the first gift that you've ever given me."
"Yeah, we don't want to count that rash, do we?"
Xander hugged Anya and they started walking again.
"Xander, do you love me?," asked Anya, nervously and not looking him.
"You know how I feel about you."
"Yes, but I'd like to hear you say it."
"Anya..."
"Oh no. Is this another one of those guy things? You can't say those three words? Xander..."
Xander grabbed Anya and gave her a long, deep kiss. He stopped and looked at her. She was smiling.
"I don't think we can wait until we get back to your place, do you?," asked Anya.
Xander nervously looked around as Anya pulled him by the hand towards some bushes.

"Hi mom!...Yes, believe it or not, it is your daughter...No, I don't need money! I wanted to see how you were...That's great. So the Gallery is keeping you busy?...Good. Mom, are you going to be home tomorrow night? No hot dates or anything, right?...Mom!...I wanted to bring someone home for dinner...Of course it's Riley! I want you to meet him...Yeah, that would be nice. And mom? I want you to dig out the old photo albums, okay?...No, he won't be bored. So we'll see you tomorrow, okay? Thanks. I love you too. Bye."
Buffy hung up the phone and smiled at Riley.
"I feel bad. You should have met her before now," said Buffy.
"She understands. Her daughter is busy with things besides homework," said Riley.
"And boys," added Buffy.
"Boys, plural?," asked Riley.
"You know what I mean."
"Buffy, you told me what the others saw, but you didn't tell me what the demon appeared to you as."
"Riley, have a seat. This is a long story, and there's a few things you still don't know about me."
"I'm so surprised," smiled Riley, sitting down on her bed. Buffy sat next to him.
"It's about a friend of mine, someone who was very close to Giles. She was special. And there's an old boyfriend you don't know about. His name was Angel..."

"Fannie, I needed to be here, but you didn't have to come."
"It's okay, Rupert. I wanted to. Besides, Sandra's grave isn't far from here. We can stop by on the way out."
Giles nodded and looked down at Jenny Calendar's tombstone.
"Was it her?," asked Fannie.
"What's that?"
"Buffy said that the demon appeared to her as Jenny. Was it really her there tonight?"
"Oh, Jenny was there in that room. I'm sure of that. But I don't know why it appeared to Buffy as Jenny. Maybe her presence affected it somehow. You told Buffy that you felt the demon wasn't aware that Buffy was in the room. Perhaps that was Jenny's doing. You did say the room became very cold," said Giles.
"You still miss her." It was a statement, not a question.
Giles continued to stare at the grave.
"Yes. But I feel a little guilty for not thinking of her lately," said Giles sadly.
"Rupert, I think she would have wanted you to get on with your life," said Fannie, touching his arm.
"Yes. That she would have. I'm sure of that now."
"What do you mean?," asked Fannie.
"Jenny came to me again tonight. Told me that she would be with you. That she would help if she could. I demanded that she show herself to me."
"And?"
"And that she did. It's nice to know that, at times, maybe, she'll look out for us. But she wanted to show me that I shouldn't live in the past. So Jenny showed me what she had become," said Giles coldly.
"You mean..."
"I mean I saw a rotting, moldering, black corpse. And the room didn't smell exactly outdoor fresh, either. But I got her message. She was telling me to move on. To live."
Fannie slipped her hand into his. Giles looked up, surprised.
"It's so quiet here," said Fannie.
"Well, yes, most cemeteries are," commented Giles.
"No. I mean I'm still getting used to not sensing your heartbeat. You can imagine how deafening being in a crowd was for me. Now? It's scary feeling this alone."
Giles took her hand and placed it over his wrist.
"There. Notice how my heart is beating faster than normal? I'm either nervous or find you very attractive. Or perhaps both," added Giles, smiling.
"Rupert, it's too late for dinner. But how about letting a Slayer buy her Watcher a drink?," asked Fannie. She stepped up on her toes and kissed him on the lips.
"Must be the shoes," said Giles.
"What?"
"Nothing. Something Anya said."
They held hands and walked away from the grave. A cold breeze gently moved the grass over Jenny Calendar's resting place. Neither of them noticed.

"So, I saw a frog and Anya saw a bunny. Makes sense so far. Can't really explain what Xander saw. Unless the movie 'The Ghost And Mr. Chicken' wigged him out. But you didn't tell me what you saw," asked Willow.
"Oh, that's not important," said Tara.
"Of course it is. Tell me," laughed Willow. They were in the dorm standing in front of Willow's door.
"Alright. I saw Oz."
"Oz? Oh. That's...huh?"
"You asked," shrugged Tara.
"Are you afraid of him?," asked Willow.
"No."
"But you think he's a threat," said Willow.
"I don't know why I saw what I did. Tell you what. Let's go to the Bronze and unwind," said Tara, trying to change the subject.
"Are you kidding? It's been a long day and that spell drained me."
"Loosen up, Wilma. Your bone's on too tight!," said Tara.
"Huh?"
"Obscure Flintstones reference. I'm trying the group banter thingy. You know, just trying to fit in," pouted Tara.
"Oh. That's cute. Not the you trying to fit in part. The joke part, I mean. And you will fit in. I promise. Okay. We'll Bronze it tonight."
Willow opened the door and turned on the light.
"Oh! Buffy. Sorry, I didn't know you were here," said Willow, seeing someone asleep in Buffy's bed.
"Good thing Riley wasn't here," added Tara.
"Wait a minute. That's not Buffy," said Willow, walking closer to the bed.
"Willow! Hey, you did it! I don't know how, but thank you!"
"Amy? Is that you?," asked Willow. "I don't believe it!"
"I'd get up to hug you, but I'm kinda naked under here. I couldn't find any clothes that would fit me. Oh, and sorry about the rat cage. Good thing I wasn't in the Habitrail when I changed! Only cut my shoulder a little. Oh, who's your friend?," asked Amy.
Willow and Tara looked back from what was left of the rat cage.
"Oh, this is Tara. She...she helped me change you back. In fact, I think if it wasn't for her, well..."
"Hi," said Tara.
"Hi. A fellow witch. Great!"
"Amy, have we got some catching up to do. Where do I start?," said Willow, sitting on the edge of the bed.
"Actually, I'm starved. Got any cheese?"

THE END