A big thanks to all those who have reviewed so far! You guys and gals are awesome!
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or Angel. They belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
"Can you tell me what exactly we're looking for up here?" Xander asked, shinning the flashlight beam ahead of them. Behind him, Willow followed him as closely as possible, given the cramped conditions that they now found themselves in.
"Giles said the things he took from Ms. Calendar's apartment are up here somewhere."
"And why exactly did our fearless leader take a dead woman's things?"
"Most of them were things regarding magick, plus I think he…wanted to have something to remember her." As the flashlight beam landed on a large pile of boxes, the two teenagers managed to pull themselves into an awkward sitting position, the roof of the flat pressing slightly against their backs. Pulling one of the boxes closer to her, Willow opened the flaps, digging amongst the things inside for anything that seemed like it would help in her search to find a copy of the Restoration Spell. The teacher couldn't have simply kept but one copy, there had to be another one somewhere. That thought had led her to look through the woman's things, looking for books, print-outs, floppy disks, anything that might lead her to the answer she sought.
"I take it that a picture wasn't enough?" Xander added, looking through the box closest to him while he spoke.
"You know how much she meant to him, something tells me a picture wasn't going to be enough for him." Pushing the box away from her, the red-head grabbed another one and began to shift through that one as well.
"Still, I feel bad for the guy. Out of any of us, he got the worst from Deadboy's twisted mind." As he finished his sentence, he held a few floppy disks of various colors up into the dim light from the flashlight. "Would these help?"
"Maybe, just set them down and I'll take a look at them later." Silently obeying her, Xander once again resumed his search through the box. As he reached the bottom, his eyes lit up, the reaction able to be seen by Willow even despite the lighting.
"What, what did you find?"
"Does a laptop make you feel all happy inside?"
"What? Let me see it." As he pulled the slightly dusty machine from its tomb, Xander attempted to blow some of the dust off of the laptop, the effect making the material swirl in the light.
"I take it that you can get into it?"
"Even if its password protected, I think I can find a way around it." Setting the laptop down at her side, Willow pushed the remaining box away, and began to move back towards the trapdoor that concealed the loft itself. "Remember the floppy disks when you come back down. And grab that last box."
"So, the G Man tells me that you're becoming quite the little Sabrina." Faith said, keeping her eyes focused on the shadows that surrounded every inch of the graveyard.
"He did?" Willow replied, gripping the stake in her hand just a little tighter as her eyes began to play tricks on her.
"Yeah, he mentioned something about you having a thing for trying to restore souls. It's kinda cool to tell ya the truth. Not that I'm thinking about taking it up as a hobby." Squinting her eye, the red-head peered into the darkness once again, her mind already starting to imagine the horrors that could be out there hiding from them. She had already been the attempted victim of too many evil things to ever fully feel safe at night again.
"Um….thanks. You sense any vampires around?" Looking into the same shadows, the Slayer rolled her eyes from the boredom she was feeling.
"Nope. I'm hoping I do pretty soon though, as much fun as it is walking through a deserted graveyard with you and a bunch of dead guys and gals for company, I'd like a little action."
"I think I can fix that for you." Emerging from behind a nearby tree, a figure covered in black clothing began to make its way towards them. Taking a few steps back, Willow could already see Faith slipping into a fighting stance, holding her fists up in front of her.
"Ah, the new Slayer, Buff was telling me about you. She said you fight like a girl."
"Oh, and so she sent you to do her own work? Sounds like she has you whipped." Grinning as the remark left her lip, the Slayer watched as the vampire in front of her laughed.
"At least you have almost the same amount of wit as she does. I'll tell ya, Faith, this makes things a lot more fun when you have all this banter going back and forth."
"I take it that she does that with you right before bed?"
"Among other things that you're probably too young to properly know about." Angelus shrugged, the grin disappearing from his face.
"I don't think I got your name, although you seem to know mine. So why don't we get the introductions over with before I make you met my wooden friend. You're Angelus, right? Tall, broody, has a passion for blood-lust?"
"And someone who knows their history as well. Gotta say, you're one of the smarter Slayers I've seen in my time."
"I don't know whether I should take that as a compliment or an insult."
"Alright, you're obviously in the mood for a fight, so why don't we get on with this?" Raising his fists, Angelus' face morphed into its true form, his yellow eyes glowing in the darkness that surrounded him. "You want to throw a few punches at me, Willow? I'm sure you've got quite a fight in you."
"Um, no thanks, I'm all good, no fighting here." The vampire smiled at the response, but otherwise said nothing as he returned his gaze to the vampire Slayer in front of him.
"So, let's see how well you fight." In the blink of an eye, he had lunged for her, the Slayer being forced to go on the defensive, just as she had during her fight with Buffy. Barely managing to avoid the vampire's fists, Faith found herself being pushed further and further back.
"Come on, Faith, show me some of that Slayer spirit that everyone talks about!" He mocked, smiling as one of his punches finally broke through her defenses. Her body momentarily sent reeling from the attack, the Slayer felt her body crash through a nearby tombstone, the nearly ancient stone crumbling in the process. Rolling over onto her back, she could feel every bone in her body aching. I'm not paying for that…
"You know, I'm beginning to see why Buff didn't think you were much of a threat. You can barely stand on your own feet." He was looking down at her now, his yellow eyes seemingly piercing her soul. Leaning down, he grabbed her by the collar of her jacket and slowly picked her up. "Again, I think maybe they should have sent Giles a better Slayer."
"Why don't you put me down and I'll show you a better Slayer." She replied, looking past the vampire in time to see Willow slowly making her towards the two of them, her stake still gripped in her hand.
"Sounds tempting, but I'm happy where you are right now. Granted, you could be bleeding a little bit more, but that's just being picky." The girl was almost behind him now, her steps light and slow.
"Why, does it make you 'happy' when girls bleed? Sounds like a little bit creepy, even for me." From behind him, Angelus heard a twig snap, causing him to turn just as Willow began to plunge her stake towards him. The object hitting him firmly in the middle of his chest, he stumbled for a moment, his grip on Faith's jacket refusing to falter. Turning to face the teenager, the vampire's face broke out into a smile.
"You missed by a couple inches, Willow." He said, using his free hand to pull the stake from his chest and toss it back at the girl's feet. "Want to try again?" Dropping the Slayer, he began to make his way towards the girl. Staring back at him, Willow's eyes were filled with fear. "What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?" With only a few feet separating them, the red-head closed her eyes, fear completely overtaking her mind.
"Hey, Angelus." Hearing the Slayer's voice, he turned, his body completely unprepared for the branch that slammed into his chest. "I don't like my guys paying attention to other girls." Opening her eyes, Willow watched as Faith continued her assault, the Slayer bringing the limb down upon every inch of the vampire's body. "I take that back. I'm kinda happy where I've got you."
"Alright, enough." Grabbing the limb in mid-air, he threw the branch back at her, the full force of it hitting the girl in both her chest and throat. Getting back onto his feet, he lunged for her, his fists already clenched. Bringing both himself and the girl to the ground, he swung at her, his fist hitting the ground as Faith managed to squirm out of the way. Struggling to push the vampire off of her body, she gathered all of her strength and kicked up with her legs, the force being enough to push him off of her. Scrambling, the Slayer and the vampire were back on their feet within moments, their fists clenched and bodies already locked into their respective fighting stances.
"I take it back, you can fight, but you're still a child in a teenager's clothes."
"I could say the same for you. So, why don't you launch into the typical villain sepal, and tell me exactly what you and your mate are planning to do?"
"I don't think it really matters to you, considering that you're not one of her idiotic friends. Besides, you won't be around to see it."
"Seems to be a little early for you to be making assumptions. Care to elaborate?" Smiling at her, Angelus lowered his fists.
"You'll find out soon enough. I think it's a little past your bedtime. Night, Slayer." Turning his back to her, he started walking, eventually disappearing into the shadows that covered the graveyard.
"Faith?" Turning her head, the Slayer looked back at Willow as the girl made her way towards her. "You alright?"
"Five by five. I think we'd better get back to Giles' place before any of your friends' buddies show up to give us a party. Not that I'm not willing to partake, but you're not really the kind of person I need out here. No offense."
"None taken, I kinda agree with you. Besides, I want to get back to going through Ms. Calendar's laptop, I'm hoping that she left some of the information regarding the Restoration Spell on it."
"Whatever you say."
"There has to be something on here." Willow said underneath her breath, tapping a few more keys as she continued to sit at the computer. Pictured over the monitor in front of her, the ancient symbols continued to puzzle her, their meaning locked away in a dead language she was no closer to understanding. Sighing in defeat, she closed the document and opened another, the amount of files that were on the floppy disk beginning to shrink. There were still a few more disks, but the waiting was beginning to take its toll on the teenager.
She had been hoping that perhaps Ms. Calendar had saved a copy of her translation onto the laptop she had managed to hack into, but so far, her hopes had been in vain. Still, she pressed on with her search, tirelessly looking through every document she could find. She had seen numerous translations of dead languages, many of whom she had helped the teacher scan from the wealth of books that inhabited the library's shelves. As the ancient text appeared on screen, she felt her heart skip a few beats as she looked at the stone, the symbols spread across its surface seemingly familiar.
"Giles, could you translate this? It…it seems familiar." She asked, her gaze refusing to move from the screen in front of her. As he crossed the room, the Watcher's heart was still aching from the various books that held Jenny's handwriting, the familiarity of the different strokes striking him like a slap to the face. It only drove home the fact that she was really gone, her soul having departed from this Earth. She had left his world just as soon as she had entered it.
Looking into the lit screen, he passed his eyes over the ancient text that the girl had pulled up. Most of the words and symbols were unfamiliar to him, but he picked out a few of the words, with most of the characters that he could read originating from various Latin phrases.
"Spell...of…Restoration." As the words left his mouth, the pieces of the puzzle clicked into place in both his and Willow's minds.
"Giles, I…I think that this is the tome that Ms. Calendar translated." Turning to full face the Watcher, she felt her hopes leap out of the pit that they had fallen into after Buffy had stolen the disk. "If we could translate this fully, we could restore Buffy's soul!"
"Think carefully, Willow. Are you sure that doing this is the right thing to do?"
"What do you mean? She could be good again, she would be Buffy again." She looked at him with a confused look adorning her eyes.
"And she would have to live with the same unbearable guilt that Angel has suffered through for decades. Would you want to put her through that, would you be able to live with yourself?" He asked, taking his glasses off and cleaning them with the bottom of his shirt. Getting onto her feet, Willow stared at him with a newly renewed conviction in her eyes.
"I would rather have her like Angel than have to watch Faith kill her. Giles, how can you even consider sending her out to kill Buffy? I can hear it in the way you talk that you don't really want to do it."
"It's not whether I want to or not, it's what needs to be done. She has become a threat, and we are all in great danger. That includes you, Cordelia, Xander, myself, Oz, and…oh Lord..."
"What, what's wrong?"
"Have you talked to Buffy's mother recently?"
"No, what are you…oh no."
"I think we need to get to her right away."
The TV continued to play on, its sound seemingly lost as Joyce's attention faded away from the movie that she had barely been watching. Once again, she found herself staring at the picture on the table beside her, the smiling faces of herself, her ex-husband, and her daughter staring back at her. The house around her had been deathly silent for the past few weeks, with only the sound of her own footsteps following her, or the sound of some old movie playing in the background.
The words that she last said to her daughter played over and over again in her head, haunting her. She had been so unwilling to listen to her, had been so close-minded that she had in effect pushed Buffy away, had forced her to disappear. She could be anywhere out there in the world, living on the streets or even dead, and the only reason that she wasn't here now was because she had driven her away, had told her to never come back.
A knock at the door shook the woman from her thoughts. Getting back onto her feet, Joyce made her way to the door, her heart momentarily hoping that her daughter would be the person knocking. Taking a deep breath, she did her best to look 'normal', and opened the door.
"Mom?" As the word left the girl's lips, Joyce felt her heart stop for a moment as her eyes fell on the spot where Buffy was standing, her clothes dirty and ripped in various places.
"Buffy?" She answered, unable to voice any other words as she took a few steps towards her daughter. Her feet crossed the threshold as she wrapped her arms around her daughter. Slowly, the girl responded to the hug, wrapping her own arms around her mother's shoulders.
"Mrs. Summers!" Looking up, she managed to see Giles and Willow exiting the Watcher's vehicle, their tones of voice frantic and full of fear. "Get away from her!"
"Sorry mom." As the voice echoed in her ears, Joyce looked down at her daughter, a pair of blue eyes greeting her in the process. "Nothing personal." The words still fresh on her lips, Buffy's face morphed into its true form, and she bit into her mother's neck, the blood instantly flowing down her throat. As Willow and Giles rushed up the sidewalk towards the house, a figure clothed in black stepped in front of them, effectively blocking their approach.
"You know, I think maybe you should let them have some alone time. Family matters are always so personal." Angelus said, his own face morphing into its vamp form. As he swung at them, Giles managed to push Willow out of the way, effectively absorbing every inch of the vampire's fist. His body slamming into the ground, the Watcher could feel pain flowing through every inch of his body.
"And how about you, Willow? Fancy having a go at me? I know how much you enjoyed putting that stake into me back at the graveyard." Angelus said, holding his arms out at his sides. "Come on, I'll even give you a free shot." Reaching into her pocket, Willow pulled out the cross that she had taken to carrying with her, and held it out in front of her. Looking at the object, the vampire laughed.
"I'm scared, really I am. Well, guess since I can't attack you, I'll have some fun with Giles over here." Making his way over to where the Watcher was still lying on the ground, the vampire picked him up by his shirt.
"So, what do you say, Giles? Wanna go see Jenny?"
"Don't you dare mention her to me." The Watcher forced out, his body still almost entirely overwhelmed by the force of the punch that he had taken.
"Jenny, Jenny, Jenny." The vampire said, his tone similar to that of a three year old. "You know, she made such an interesting sound when her neck snapped. It was like a pop, but more…wet."
"Angelus." Turning his head, the vampire found Buffy waiting for him on the steps to the house, blood still fresh on her lips. "I'm ready to go now."
"Buffy…" Willow whispered, her eyes falling on the dead body of Joyce Summers behind the vampire that had formerly been her best friend.
"Hello, Willow. Nice to see you again." She replied, smiling at the red head in the process. "Thanks for the disk by the way. It helped heat the mansion for a few seconds."
"Me. Still here, Wills. What, do you want me to come over and give you a hug?"
"You killed your own mother…"
"I was hungry. You could still have some if you want. Blood's actually part of a very healthy diet." Crossing her arms in front of her chest, Buffy continued to smile at the girl, enjoying the mixture of fear, shock, and hurt on her face.
"Are you ready to go, Angelus? Or do you want to play with Giles some more?"
"Not much fun with Watcher boy just lying there. You wanna toss him around for a while?"
"I'm good." Turning her head for a slight moment, Buffy looked back at Willow just in time to see the girl running towards her, the silver cross still held in her hand. Rolling her eyes, the vampire waited until the last possible second and side-stepped the girl, almost laughing as Willow ran into the porch.
"Really, I would rather not hurt you, Wills, so why don't you just go help Giles?" Ignoring the sarcastic response, the girl again ran at the vampire, the time managing to get within grabbing distance before the vampire dodged her once again.
"Come on, stop playing around." Pushing herself off the ground, the red head against charged at the vampire, throwing the cross she held in her hand at the vampire. Unable to see the object until it was too late, the vampire momentarily cried out in pain as the cross landed on her exposed arm, the material burning into her flesh almost instantly. Pushing the cross off of her arm, Buffy's face morphed into its vampire form, her yellow eyes staring at the girl with pure anger.
"That wasn't the smartest thing to do." Tackling Willow, she held the girl's throat in her hand. "I would recommend that you go home, and avoid any crosses." Loosening her grip on her former friend's throat, the vampire returned to her feet, and took Angelus' waiting hand.
"Night Giles, Willow. Have fun." Walking down the sidewalk like any normal couple, the two turned the corner and were gone, leaving Willow to rush over to Giles' side, her breathing starting to return to normal.
"Giles, are you alright?"
"I've felt better." Helping the Watcher get back onto her feet, Willow looked at the cross, the silver piece barely reflecting any of the light from the nearby porch. Looking anywhere else, the girl avoided even glimpsing Mrs. Summer's body, the sight of her daughter drinking her blood already haunting the girl's thoughts. "What are we going to do? Should we call the police?"
"That would be the right thing to do. After that, we'll need to make sure that neither Buffy nor Angelus have open invitations at any houses. I trust that you've already revoked her invitation at your home?"
"Did it last night. Giles, could we…could we have prevented this?"
"I…I don't think so, Willow. There's no time for coulds or woulds right now. We'd better get the authorities down here right away."