Chapter 23: The Body/ Forever

This wasn't one of my favorite episodes. The both of them weren't. Not just because it was hard to put Liam in here, but because of Joyce. I felt sad the first time I watched these episodes. If you don't like them, it's ok. I understand. I don't really like them either. But still, Enjoy.

Buffy entered her house after talking to Xander about April.

"Hey, Mom." She called. She turned and saw some flowers on the table beside the door. "Ooh." She opened the card that came with the flowers. It read, 'Thank you for a lovely evening. See you soon? Brian.' "Still a couple of guys gettin' it right." She said to herself. She turned to call up the stairs, putting down her jacket. "Hey, mom. You ready to go? Buffy frowned, after no response and looked down the hall toward the kitchen. "Mom?" She turned and looked in the living room. "What are you doing?" she asked walking into the living room, then stopped. Joyce was lying on the sofa. Her eyes were open, staring sightlessly at the ceiling. One arm hung loosely over the edge of the sofa. She wasn't moving or blinking. "Mom? Mom? Mommy?"

Liam was drinking coffee at his apartment and reading the local newspaper. It was kind of a nice change of pace. Instead of reading and doing things on his phone, he was doing things the old fashion way. Just like how Delia liked it. He was busy doing a crossword puzzle when his current time phone rang. He answered it.

"Hello." He said.

"Liam." Gile's voice said.

"Hey grandpa. Hey do you know what's a five letter word for harbinger of the departed?"

"Liam, I don't have time for that now." Giles interrupted him. This got Liam's attention.

"What is it?" he asked putting the newspaper down.

"It's…It's your grandmother."

"What happen? Is she ok?" Liam was getting anxious.

"She…your mother…" Giles didn't know how to tell him.

"Giles just spit it out."

"She…Liam she's dead." Liam sat there, horrified. "Your mother found her. From what the paramedics said, she likely died from an aneurysm. I'm sorry." Liam didn't say a word. "Liam?" Giles asked. "Liam." Liam hung up and set the phone down. He picked up his crossword puzzle and a pencil and looked at his word again. 'Harbinger of the departed' it read. It was five letters. Liam lifted his pencil and wrote death in the spaces. He set the pencil down and stared at the word. Yesterday he felt sad. This morning he felt sad. Right now, he just went from sad to angry in five seconds. He gripped the newspaper tightly and slammed it on the table. He got out of his chair and lifted the table up, flipping it over. He went to the coffee table and flipped it as well. He went to the bed and flipped over the mattress. When he didn't see anything else to flip, he went to the bookcase he had and started flinging books across the room. When he ran out of books, he looked frantically for anything else to throw or flip. He found nothing and went to his equipment belt. He took out his axe and threw it at the door. He took out his knife and flung it at the wall. When he didn't have anything else to throw, he went over to the wall and started to punch it repeatedly. He punched it so hard, so many times, he made a big gapping hole. He kept on punching, but the punches slowed. Each grunt he made started to become a sob. His eyes that had filled with anger and fire, were now filled with sorrow and tears. He stopped punching and leaned his head on the wall and began to cry. He slumped down and curled into a ball, crying in his now destroyed apartment.

Giles was worried about Liam when he called. After the corner took Joyce's body to the hospital for examination, he drove Buffy to Dawns school so that she could tell her. Then he went to Liam's apartment to talk to him. He got there and knocked on the door slowly. He didn't receive a reply. He knocked again but nothing. He decided to risk it and opened the door. What was inside surprised him. The apartment was a wreck. He saw the tables and the bed was overturned Giles saw the axe embedded in the door and the knife in the wall. He saw the hole that Liam had punched. He took a step into the apartment to investigate what caused it. Then he saw Liam in the corner by the couch, slumped in a crouched position, just staring off into space. Mush like he was after Kathy's death.

"Liam" Giles said coming over and kneeling down. "When you didn't answer I got worried." Liam didn't say anything. Giles looked around at the destroyed apartment. "Did you do all this?" Liam still didn't say anything. Giles understood now. "Liam, you were never told. You never knew if Joyce was alive in your time or not. You didn't know how and if she died. You are not to be blamed for this." Again, Liam failed to say anything. He just blinked and sat there. "Your mother and your aunt need you now at this time." Silence. Giles though that it was useless at this point. "Perhaps you need time. We'll be at the hospital for the next few hours if you need us. I'll let your mother know you're alright." Giles got up and headed for the door but stopped and turned to Liam. "It would be nice if you came and help comfort your family. That's really all anyone needs at this time is family." Giles finished and left closing the door behind him. Liam just sat there, not moving.

After a fiasco with a vampire and Dawn trying to see Joyce at the hospital, Buffy decided to go see her son. Giles had told her in private that Liam didn't take the news well. He had destroyed his apartment and was just sitting in a corner. Buffy felt like she needed to go talk to him. Giles had tried but failed. Maybe Buffy could get through to him. She got to his apartment and knocked on the door. She received no reply. Giles told her to expect this. She opened the door and saw the wrecked apartment. She saw the table and bed overturned, the hole in the wall that Liam punched, the knife in the wall and the axe in the door. She saw Liam slumped in the corner, exactly where Giles said he would be found. But what shocked her was the fact that Liam had his gun in his hand.

"Liam." Buffy said. He didn't reply. Buffy remembered what Liam had said to her on her birthday. If another family member died, he would die. Buffy knew what he was going to do. "Liam, don't do this." She said coming forward. "I know that you didn't know. I know that you wished you could have done something, but the doctors said that we couldn't do anything. There was nothing we could have done." Liam lifted his head and looked at his mother. Buffy saw the redness of his eyes from crying. "Liam, I know that you feel like it's your fault. I do too. But you can't turn to suicide all because you couldn't save my mother. You came back to save the rest of us. To save your future. Our future. Life is hard and unfair. But what gets us through it is fighting everyday to make them better." Liam just stared at her. "That's the whole reason you came back. It was to make things better. But if you are too much of a coward to save billions of lives all because you couldn't save your own grandmother from a natural death then…." Liam raised his gun a pointed it at the opposite wall. Buffy looked and saw that it had a few dozen bullet holes in it. She looked back at Liam and looked around him. What she didn't notice before, she did now. She saw three discarded gun magazines and many bullet casings. She looked back at Liam. He simply stared at her.

"You're about an hour late for that speech." He said. Buffy knelt down next to him.

"Did you try to kill yourself?" She asked. Liam looked to the opposite wall and nodded his head.

"For the first shot, yeah. The rest was just pent up anger." He tossed the gun away, leaned back, and sighed. "I know that I shouldn't blame myself. There was nothing I could do. I had a feeling she would die after hearing about the tumor. I just thought it was avoided because of the success of the surgery." He shook his head. "Shouldn't have gotten my hopes up. I shouldn't blame myself but I can't help but do so. I'm the one from the future. I'm the one who should be able to warn people, help people, save people." He stopped and chuckled a little. "We have a lot of advancements in technology and medicine in the future. Better treatment programs for diseases. But I don't think we have anything to help with aneurysms." Buffy leaned forward and hugged her son. He hugged back. "I'm sorry mom."

"It's not your fault. You didn't know. You shouldn't blame yourself."

"You either." He said and they pulled away. "How's Dawn?"

"Shaky. I think she's getting through it."

"She'll probably start hating me when she sees me next."

"Maybe. But all you have to do is explain to her that you didn't know and that there was still nothing you could have done."

"I have a feeling she'll yell at me." He shrugged. "Whatever I guess." They just sat there together for a minute. "Have you called dad yet?"

"No I haven't. It's been a rough day. I might call him tomorrow."

"Call him tonight." Liam said. "I have a feeling you'll need him." Buffy nodded.

"Do you wanna come back to my house? It's you home too you know."

"I know. I'll…..I'll meet you there. I just wanna….sit for a little while longer."

"Ok" Buffy said getting up. "I'll always be here for you. You know that right?"

"I do. Thank you." Buffy nodded again and left the apartment. Liam sighed again before getting up and gathering his belongings. This was his last night here. He was done with the apartment. He was going to be closer to his family now. He'll probably move into the mansion. Maybe even invite Spike to live with him for some company. After gathering everything he owned, he turned to leave. When he got to the door, he turned around and saw the wrecked apartment. He raised his hand a waved it. Everything started to move. It looked like everything was moving backwards as if someone had pressed a rewind button on a tape. The tables went back to the way they were. The bed moved back into place. The hole sealed up. The bullets in the wall came out and mended themselves so they were in perfect shape and went into there casings that went into the magazines. The magazines moved to there perspective pouches. Liam looked back at the now cleaned up apartment. Just in case he ever wanted to come back. He nodded and left the apartment.

Buffy and Angel hadn't seen their son for a few days. They knew that it was just his way of dealing with everything. Buffy had gone out with Giles and Dawn and got a coffin for Joyce's funeral. Later that night, they were all sitting in the dining room. Buffy, Angel, and Giles were sitting side-by-side at the end of the table, looking at paperwork. Xander sat on the left eating.

"I checked prices at different florists, and the funeral home seems to be fairly competitive." Giles said.

"Let's just go with that, it's easier." Buffy said.

"What color flowers?" Dawn asked, sitting at the other end of the table.

"Uh, white." Angel responded. "They're nice." Willow entered from the kitchen with a pitcher of water, poured a glass, and sat opposite of Xander.

"Uh, what about an announcement?" Buffy asked. "People are gonna be expecting a wake after the burial unless we say something."

"Um, well, we could put a, a line in the program expressing your mother's preference not to have one." Giles said.

"There's no wake?" Willow asked.

"Mom didn't like them." Buffy said. "She said that potlucks are depressing enough as it is."

"She said that?" Dawn asked. "When?"

"Uh, right before she went in for the operation." Buffy said. "We had a talk about what she wanted ... in case." She looked down.

"She never said anything to me."

"I'm sure she just didn't wanna upset you, Dawnster." Xander said. "Now you better get to work on that dinner. You barely touched it."

"You really should eat something." Angel said.

"Why should I" Dawn asked. "She's not." She indicated to Buffy.

"Dawn, this isn't about…" He was but off as the cordless phone on the table rung. Buffy sighed and looked to Angel.

"I'm all phoned out." She said. "Will you? Unless it's my dad."

"Of course." Angel got up and answered the phone. Buffy returned to the papers. "Hello? Yes they did." Buffy looked at him. "Thank you. The, uh, funeral is at, uh, three tomorrow. Do you know the Brown Brothers mortuary?" Angel walked out of the room, still talking. Buffy and Dawn looked disappointed.

"Can't believe he still hasn't called." Buffy said.

"Your dad's still AWOL, huh?" Xander asked.

"The number he left for us in Spain is no good, and I've left messages everywhere." She went back to the paper work. "Um, how about a line that just says, 'Following the burial, there will be no wake'? Or gathering? 'At the request of Joyce, there will be no gathering'? Uch, that sounds lame." Buffy put a hand to her forehead.

"I'm sure that whatever you put will suffice." Giles said. Willow gave Buffy a concerned look. She looked at Dawn, got up and began clearing the table.

"What are we gonna do?" Dawn asked. "After, I mean. Are we just gonna ... come back here?"

"Uh ... I, I don't know." Buffy said. "I guess so. Um, how about 'At the request of the family, there will be no wake.'"

"Good," Xander said. "Yeah, it's got, uh..."

"I don't wanna be here." Dawn said to herself.

"Should I put it at the top, or just a small line at the bottom?" Buffy said not hearing her sister. Giles, Xander, and Buffy bent over the paperwork. Willow re-entered, resuming her clearing.

"Can I go to your place tomorrow?" Dawn asked her.

"Tomorrow?" Willow asked.

"After everything."

"Um, well, maybe you and Buffy should ... I-I don't mind."

"Can I?" she asked Buffy.

"Huh?" Buffy asked looking up from discussing with Xander.

"Can I go to Willow's tomorrow after the service?" Buffy looked at Willow uncertained.

"Um ... i-if you want to. I guess so."

"I'll, uh, get my sleeping bag out of the attic." Dawn got up and left. Buffy returned to her paperwork. Willow and Xander left the house a little while later. Xander closed the door and they started walking down the porch steps.

"You going home?" Xander asked Willow.

"I'm gonna stop by my mom's first." Willow said. "Been doing that a lot lately."

"Yeah. I actually might stop by your mom's too." Willow looked at him. "Well, I'm not going to 'my' place. Those people are scary." He looked up. "Speaking of." They saw Spike and Liam coming up the walkway, both were holding a bunch of flowers. "You have got to be kidding." Spike sighed.

"Look, we're just here to pay our respects." Spike said.

"Great, but you aren't leaving those. You actually think you're gonna score points with Buffy this way?

"This isn't about Buffy."

"Bull. We're all hip to your doomed obsession."

"There is no obsession. They're for Joyce."

"Like you care about her." Xander said. Spike sighed angrily. Willow stepped between them.

"Guys, guys, not here." Willow said.

"Care?" Spike went on. "Joyce was the only one of the lot of you that I could stand."

"And she's the only one with a daughter you wanted to shag." Xander countered. "I'm touched."

"I liked the lady. Understand, monkey boy? She was decent." Xander and Willow exchanged a look. "She didn't put on airs. She always had a nice cuppa for me." Willow looked sympathetic. "And she never treated me like a freak."

"Her mistake. OW!" Liam had snuck around and slapped Xander on the back of the head.

"He doesn't have a card with the flowers monkey boy." Liam said angrily. "And as a matter of fact, we both called Buffy before we got here. We asked if we could come and pay our respects and she said yes. So stop trying to be her damn bodyguard cause frankly, she actually likes us." Xander stared at him looking surprised. Willow look stunned. "Come on Spike. Family's expecting us." Liam turned and went to the house. Spike followed suit giving Xander a look. They knocked on the door and Angel answered.

"Liam, Spike, glad you guys are here." Angel said.

"Can we come in?" Spike asked. "We didn't really like the welcoming party you had." He pointed with his thumb to Xander and Willow who were still standing there looking at them.

"Yeah sure, come one in." Angel said. He moved so that Spike and Liam could enter.

"These are for her." Liam said holding the flowers. Spike did the same.

"Thank you." Angel said and took the flowers and headed for the kitchen. Spike walked up to Buffy.

"Hey pet. How ya holdin?" he asked.

"I'm getting through it." she answered and got up. "Thank you for coming."

"What's family for?" Spike said. Buffy hugged him and he hugged back. Liam leaned on the wall and bowed his head. "How's nibblet?" Spike asked pulling out of the hug.

"I'm dealing." Dawn said entering the dining room. Spike gave her a sympathetic look and hugged her too. Dawn hugged back tight and closed her eyes. Angel came out of the kitchen and watched the scene before him. Dawn opened her eyes and they landed on Liam who was next to them. He still had his glasses on, so he took them off and looked at the floor. Dawn pulled out of the hug but didn't take her eyes off of Liam.

"Did you know?" Dawn asked him. Liam looked up and stared at her. Everyone else looked too. "Did you know she was going to die?" Liam bowed his head and bit his lip.

"I though she would live after the surgery." He said looking up. Dawn closed her eyes fighting tears.

"You didn't know she was going to die?" Spike asked.

"No I didn't."

"How could you not know?" Dawn asked angrily through gritted teeth.

"Dawn." Buffy said coming forward. "He didn't know because he was never told the story."

"He should have known." Dawn yelled. "Why didn't he ask why he didn't have grandmother in the future?" she looked to Liam. "How come you didn't know? Or was it because you knew and you just didn't do anything?"

"You know that's no true Dawn." Liam said standing straight. "I didn't know because no one told me. With everything that went on in my life, I was a little more focused on fighting and mourning over the family that died in front of me."

"So you just didn't care about hunh?" Dawn said with tears forming.

"No. I cared about her." Liam yelled. "If I knew about her death and I had the resources to save her, I would have done so. She was my grandmother."

"You still should have done something. You're the one with the future knowledge. You know how to do all this stuff we can't. You should have done something."

"I know." Liam said stepping forward and hugging Dawn. She fought back.

"Don't touch me. You don't care about us." She cried.

"Of course I do." He whispered to her.

"LIAR!" she screamed and then stopped her struggling and started sobbing. Liam just held her and she cried. Everyone else stood staring at them both. Liam stood there, holding his aunt as a tear fell down his face.

"I would do anything for you." Liam said. Dawn hugged her nephew and continued to cry.

The next morning was the funeral. The gang and many of Joyces friends stood around the coffin. Buffy and Dawn were standing together away from the group, close to the coffin. Liam would have joined them, but it would have brought on some suspicion with the group. He already had enough from Xander. He didn't need more. It was sunny out, so Angel couldn't make it. The minister began the eulogy.

"We commend to almighty God, our sister, Joyce Summers, and we commit her body to the ground. Earth to earth... ashes to ashes...and dust to dust. Dawn winced at the ashes part. A shovel was dug into earth. Dawn suddenly turned and buried her face in Buffy's shoulder. Buffy put her arms around Dawn, still staring at the coffin. "The Lord bless her and keep her. The Lord makes his face to shine upon her and be gracious to her. The Lord lift up his countenance upon her, and give her peace."

The minister finished the eulogy and everyone started hugging Dawn ad Buffy. After it was done, Buffy and Dawn still stood alone, looking at the grave. Dawn turned away from Buffy and walked over to Willow and Tara. Tara moved over to Buffy and tapped her gently on the shoulder.

"Hey, um, Dawn's kind of ready to go." She said. "Can we take her with us?"

"Yeah." Buffy said. "She should probably get out of here."

"What about you? We can wait if you want."

"I'm fine. Thank you." Tara rejoined the others, whispered to them and they turned to leave. Dawn looked back over her shoulder at Buffy as they lead her away. Once they were gone, Liam took off his glasses and came over standing next to his mother.

"You know I would have helped her if I could." He said.

"I know." Buffy said.

"I just wish I knew. So that I could of spent more time with her. Maybe ease the pain on you guys."

"There was nothing you could have done to ease the pain. It'll still come and hit hard."

"I know. I just meant, I wish I could have prepared you guys. Get you all set for it. Not let it be so…." he sighed heavily.

"I know you mean well Liam. You care a lot about your family. That's why you came back." Buffy paused. "I'm just glad that she got to know who you really were. To know that I will have a life and a family. She loved knowing that."

"I know." They stood there for a few minutes staring at the coffin. "I'm going to go now. Do you need anything?" he asked.

"No." Buffy said. Liam hugged and kissed his mother before leaving. Buffy still stood there staring at the grave with a small frown on her face. Before she knew it, it was dark. She heard a set of feet walking from behind hear, but she didn't turn. She knew who it was.

"I'm sorry I couldn't come sooner." Angel said standing beside her staring at the grave. Buffy didn't look at him, but she nodded slightly and slipped her hand into his. They stood there looking at the grave, holding hands.

Later, Buffy and Angel were sitting on the ground under a tree, leaning against it. Buffy had her legs curled under her and leaned against Angel's shoulder. They both look at the grave as they talk.

"The funeral was ..." she sighed. "it was brutal, but it's tomorrow that I'm worried about."

"What's tomorrow?" Angel asked.

"That's exactly what I don't know. Up until now, I ... I've had a road map. Things to do every minute, having to do with Mom."

"Tomorrow the stuff of everyday living resumes."

"And everybody expects me to know how to do it, because ...I'm so strong." She said sarcastically.

"You just need some time. I'm sure everybody understands that."

"Time's not the issue. I can stick wood in vampires ... but Mom was the strong one in real life. She always knew how to make things better ... just what to say."

"Yeah ... you'll find your way. I mean, not all at once, but..."

"I don't know." Buffy shook her head. "I keep thinking about it ... when I found her. If I had just gotten there ten minutes earlier..."

"You said they told you it wouldn't have made a difference."

"They said ... "probably" ... wouldn't have made a difference. The exact thing they said ... was "probably." I haven't told that to anyone."

"Doesn't make it your fault. You couldn't have done anything different." She sighed again. This time annoyed.

"I didn't even start CPR until they told me. I fell apart. That's how good I am at being a grownup."

"Buffy..."

"And it'd be okay if it was just me I had to worry about. But Dawn..."

"Look, it's okay. I know you don't feel like it now, but you are strong, Buffy. You're gonna figure this out. And you have people to help you. You don't have to do this alone."

"It's gonna be light soon." She said looking at the sky.

"I can stay in town as long as you want me."

"How's forever? Does forever work for you?" She turned her head to look at Angel. She sighed and sat up to look him in the face. "That's a bad idea. You're needed elsewhere."

"Right now I'm needed here." They look at each other, then Buffy leaned in and kissed him. They kissed softly for a moment. Then it got a little more heated and they pulled away, both breathing harder.

"I'm so grateful that you came, Angel. I didn't think I was gonna be able to make it through the night."

"Well, we still have a few more minutes until I have to go." Angel said looking at the sky.

"Good." She put her head on his chest and leaned against him. He put his arm around her shoulders. "Good." They sat there quietly together.

Liam was slumped on the couch at the mansion. He really felt bad. He wanted to help Joyce. He wanted to help Dawn. But he felt like that there wasn't anything he could do to help. He wished that Delia was here with him. She got him through all of his tough times. Maybe she could help Dawn through hers. Spike came into the living room wit ha bottle of bourbon in hand.

"Up for a drink?" he asked holding the bottle out to Liam.

"No thanks." Liam said.

"And you're the poof's son?" Spike laughed. "He used to drink for a livin."

"I know. I had a really bad experience with drinking when I was a teen. I swore that I would never drink again after that." Spike sat down next to him.

"Sounds like a story to be told." He said looking interested.

"More like a story to be forgotten." Spike took a swig of bourbon and they both just sat there in silence. "I really wished I'd spent more time with her."

"I know you do." Spike said taking another swig. "Just be glad that she knew that her children would grow up and be happy. For time that they were happy."

"Yeah." They sat in silence again. "I wanna go back tonight."

"Go back where?"

"to the grave. I wanna to say something's."

"You want me to go with?"

"If you want. You can say something's"

"Think I will."

Later that night, Liam and Spike walked to Joyce's grave to say some final words. Their trip took a turn when they saw Dawn by the grave.

"Think nibblet's saying some final words?" Spike asked.

"Maybe." Liam responded. Then his eyes fell upon a book Dawn had with her. He recognized it immediately. "Spike, recognize the totem?"

"Yeah I do." Spike said noticing the book. Dawn kneeled by the fresh grave, opening a jar. She scooped up some dirt from the grave into the jar and capped it.

"I hope its just dirt you're after." Liam said coming up behind her. Dawn turned in surprised.

"If the spell calls for anything more than that, you're into zombie territory, and that's bad news." Spike said.

"Guys, I-I wasn't..." Dawn shook her head anxiously.

"I know good and well what you're up to." Spike said.

"That book you've got is infamous. Even in my time." Liam said.

"Please ... don't tell Buffy." Dawn asked. "I just ... I have to get her back. I have to."

"We're not going tell." Liam said.

"We're not?" Spike asked surprised. Liam turned to Dawn.

"Give us a minute." Dawn nodded and Liam pulled Spike away. "I wanna help her with this."

"You know that nothing good will come of this."

"I know. But I fell like Dawn needs to do this to understand."

"Understand what?"

"That when someone's gone, they aren't gone completely. And that no one is ever alone. There's always someone there. You just need to take the time to look. I should know." Spike sighed annoyed. He knew if he'd help, Buffy would surely stake him.

"If we do this, and Buffy finds out, we're dead."

"Not if we succeed before she does. And I have a feeling that Dawn did this in my timeline and mom was he one that stopped her. If we fail, she'll succeed."

"And then kill us."

"Pray she doesn't sick Angelus on to us."

"Good point." Spike sighed. "Alright, I'll help. Can't stand to see Summer's women take it so hard."

"Thanks."

Spike, Liam, and Dawn were walking down the street of downtown Sunnydale.

"I've never used this bloke's services myself, but there's talk." Spike began to speak. "Word is he knows everything there is to know about resurrection spells." Dawn looked a little nervous. "Come on now, no worries."

"You don't have to be all nice to me." Dawn said. "Why are you doing this?" she asked Liam.

"You said I should have done something." Liam responded. "I know I should have. I didn't, so I'm fixing it."

"Thanks." Dawn said. They walked for a little while not talking. "She still isn't there in the future is she?" Dawn asked.

"No." Liam responded.

"Did you ever try to bring Buffy or Angel back?"

"Yeah. I tried. But I decided to just let it be."

"Why?" Liam stopped and turned to her.

"Because, I thought to myself, what would they think? What would my parents think if I brought them back from wherever they were? Would they be glad, sad, angry? I didn't know. I've of how spirits come back form beyond and grow sad the longer they stay in this world. Because they don't belong here anymore." He turned and continued walking. Dawn stood for a minute thinking about what Liam just said.

The three of them got to the apartment Spike talked about. A black cat jumped over a globe in the foreground and ran off as the door opened and they entered.

"This place belongs to a magic guy?" Dawn asked. "It smells like grandpa."

"That old person smell is in every old person home." Liam said. Spike closed the door.

"Hey!" Spike said. "Anybody home?" A figure moved through the curtains that led to another room. Spike, Liam, and Dawn look apprehensive. The figure emerged. He was a small elderly man wearing glasses and a bathrobe. He looked surprised to see them.

"I know you." He said to Spike.

"I don't think so, mate." Spike said.

"No, no, you're that guy, that, that guy, hangs around down at the corner mart. Big into dominoes, aren't you?" Spike looked confused.

"Can't say as I am. Look, we came here because…" the man cut him off as he laughed.

"That's crazy, isn't it? I mean, I, I, I'd swear, you were that guy. I mean, your hair's a different color and you're a vampire, but uh, other than that..."

"Maybe we should just go." Dawn said.

"No. Now, just because the lights are dim doesn't mean the juice is all gone. What can I do for you?"

"Her mom died a few days ago." Liam explained.

"Ohh. I'm so sorry."

"So we were wondering, what's to be done about it." Spike said. "Heard you were the one to ask.

"Ohh ... no, no, that's, uh, you don't wanna mess with that." the man said nervously. "Uh, I know some tonics, uh, make the grieving fly by…"

"I don't want any tonics." Dawn said.

"Any of you witches? Got any experience with, uh, spells of this magnitude?"

"I know a little bit of magic." Liam said. "Not that powerful though."

"Didn't think so." He reached out and pulled some hair from Dawn's head. She gasps.

"Ow!" she said. Spike and Liam both stepped forward but didn't do anything. The man took the hair over to a lamp and held it up to the light. Dawn gave Spike an angry look, holding the side of her head.

"Well, your mother's a good candidate, at least. Strong DNA." He said.

"Right." The man turned and began examining stuff on his shelves. He hummed the theme from Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf." Dawn watched. From underneath his bathrobe a greenish, scaly tail poked out. Dawn saw it and her eyes widened. She turned to Spike and Laim, but Spike was lighting a cigarette and Liam was looking around, not paying attention to the man. By the time Dawn caught both of their attentions, the man had turned again and the tail was hidden again.

He continued humming, looking at a pile of books, picking up a large one and he smiled triumphantly at Dawn, holding it up. He carried the book over to a table, still humming the same tune. Dawn, Liam, and Spike followed. The man put the book on the table and flipped the pages.

"I've gathered some ingredients." Dawn said. Liam eyed her. "But the spell I found ... there's things on it I don't understand."

"We've got the ghora demon standing between you and success, that's the translation you were missing."

"Ghora, I've heard of those." Spike said.

"I have too." Liam said. "Are they local?"

"Yeah, they like to stick close to the hellmouth." Then man responded as he read from the book. "Egg of the ghora gives life. It's key to the spell." He looked at Dawn

"Can you buy it, this ... egg, or…" Dawn asked.

"If it was as easy as making an omelet, everyone would try it. No. You have to steal the egg from the nest of the demon. And the ghora won't be happy about it."

"Where do we find this demon?" Liam asked.

"First things first. We'll need an image of your mother. A photo, a painting."

"No problem."

"Once you get all the ingredients together, put them in the center of a sacred circle. With the photo of your mother. Then..." he reached for a small notebook. "Say this incantation..." he began to write. "three times. She won't appear, you know, poof. It'll take ... a while, but she will come to you." He teared off the page and handed it to Dawn. "Got it?"

"Got it." she said.

"Oh. Anything goes wrong, the only way to reverse the spell ... is to destroy the image of your mother, understand?"

"I'll do it right."

"It's a tricky spell, girl. I can't say for sure your mother will come back exactly like she was. Sometimes these ... things ... get a little off."

"Tell me about it." Liam muttered. Spike looked at him

"But she'll still be my mother." Dawn said not hearing Liam. "Won't she?"

"More or less." The man answered.

"Good." Dawn, Liam, and Spike went to the door and the man followed.

"And the ghora?" Spike asked.

"Oh, right, sorry." The man said. "Um, go in the sewer entrance near Tracy Street. The opening's, um, on the left. Can't miss it. Just follow that down."

Spike, Liam, and Dawn were walking down a dark alley. Spike carried an axe. They came to a spot where the wall looked all slimy and rough.

"It's here. Just like he said." Dawn said.

"Let's hope everything he said pans out." Liam said.

"You better let me and Liam snatch this egg thing." Spike told Dawn.

"No way. I'm going." Dawn said.

"No ... you are not." Liam told her. "I've got no idea what's down there."

"You both need me. Somebody's gotta get the egg while you both distract the ghora. Now come on." She turned and strided into the opening. Spike shook his head, sighed and hefted his axe.

"Well, what do you know. Bitty Buffy." He said.

"She was her idol." Liam said. They followed Dawn into the hole. They reached the bottom and looked up. They saw the demon, which looked like a huge lizardy thing sleeping on a pile of rocks. They heard snoring. They moved over to the wall and hid behind some vines.

"Doesn't look so bad." Dawn said. Spike scoffed.

"Wait till it wakes up." He said. "That's usually when the bad starts." They saw the nest behind the demon's tail. There were several eggs in it, about the size and shape of footballs but pink with purple spots.

"Looks like we found them." Liam said.

"I can't get to the eggs unless it moves. No way." Dawn said.

"I'll make it move. You just be ready. Spike, how hard do you think that demons skin is?"

"Don't know. doesn't look to tough." Spike said.

"Good enough for me." Liam grinned and strided toward the demon, pulling out his gun. "Hey! Ghora! Heads up." The demon woke and sat up. It had three heads. "Heads it is." He fired his gun at the heads three times each. Demon screeched and fell to the floor dead. Liam took a few steps forward and shot the remaining bullets he had into the heads for good measure. "It's safe now." Liam called. Dawn and Spike came forward.

"Does your mum know you carry that?" Spike asked.

"Yeah. She doesn't say anything."

"Well yopu could have at least left a bit for me to brawl with."

"Next time." Dawn grabbed an egg and they headed back up the stairs.

Liam and Dawn went back to her house to perform the spell. Dawn was getting the ingredients in order. Liam was just standing to the side watching.

"You know you can help me right?" Dawn asked.

"I already helped enough." Liam said. "The rest is for you to do." He wasn't really talking about the spell she was doing.

"Fine. I'll finish it myself."

"Ok." Liam turned and went downstairs to the living room. He sat on the couch and sighed. He hoped that what he was doing would help. Joyce wasn't there in the future. Most likely, Dawn didn't succeed in the spell. Maybe because of Buffy. He hoped that was it.

Dawn had a sheet on the floor with a circle of candles on it, and she kneeled by it, pouring something from a vial, onto her hands. She smeared it on the sheet, drawing a circle around a cauldron in the middle.

"Osiris... giver of darkness..." Dawn started the spell. "Taker of life ... god of gods... accept my offering. Bone, flesh, breath ..." She completed the circle. "Yours ... eternally." She had a picture of Joyce, leaning against the cauldron. "Bone, flesh, breath… I beg of you...return to me." She took a shaky breath.

Buffy entered her hosue and put her jacket up. She looked into the living room and saw Laim just sitting there.

"Hi, honey. What are you doing?" she asked coming over. Liam sighed and looked at her wit ha guilty look. "What is it?" The phone began to ring. Buffy answered it. "Hello?" it was Willow and Tara. They told he rthat Dawn took a book that could lead to resources to bring back Joyce. Buffy hung up with a shocked expression and looked to Liam who looked even more guilty. He heard what Willow told her. "Did you help her?" Buffy asked.

"She needed to understand." Liam said after a beat. Buffy looked horrified and ran upstairs.

Back in Dawns room, the cauldron she had was filled with the blue goo from the ghora egg. Dawn was still kneeling, with her hands on her knees.

"Bone ... flesh ... breath ... yours eternally. Bone, flesh, breath, I beg of you, return to me." Dawn said. Buffy burst in.

"Dawn." Dawn didn't move. "What have you done?" She rushed over to Dawn. "What have you done?" she repeated.

"She's coming." Dawn said standing up. "She's coming home." Dawn turned and ran out of the room. Buffy reached down and picked up the picture of Joyce, stared at it for a moment, then turned and followed Dawn. Dawn rushed down the stairs with Buffy in close pursuit. Liam got up from his seat.

"Dawn! Dawn!" Buffy called to her. Dawn reached the bottom of the stairs and turned to face Buffy, who came right up in her face. "You have no idea what you're messing with. Who knows what you actually raised, what's gonna come through that door!"

"No, I-I know. It'll be her." Dawn said tearfully.

"No. Now, Tara told me that these spells go bad all the time. People come back ... wrong."

"Not Mom. He told me her DNA…"

""Who told you?" Buffy said grabbing Dawn by the upper arms. "Did Liam tell you?"

"No. Nobody, let me go." Dawn said angrily. Liam was looking at his mother and aunt with tears forming in his eyes.

"You have to stop it. Reverse it."

"No!" Dawn wrenched free of Buffy's hold, grabbed the picture of Joyce and went into the living room past Liam. Buffy followed.

"Dawn, you know this is wrong. You know you can't let this happen. Not to Mom."

"But I need her." Dawn said quietly. "I don't care if she...I'm not like you, Buffy. I don't have anybody."

"What?! Of course you do. You have me!"

"No, I don't. You won't even look at me. It's so obvious you don't want me around."

"That's not true."

"Yes it is." Dawn said harshly. "Mom ... died, and it's like you don't even care." Buffy looked shocked.

"Of course I care." She said with tears in her eyes. Liam too had tears and they started to come down. "How can you even think that?"

"How can I not? You haven't even cried. You've just been running around like it's been some big chore or something. Cleaning up after Mom's mess." Buffy slapped Dawn across the face. Dawn yelped and put her hand to her cheek. Liam gasped at the sight. Buffy put her hand over her mouth in horror.

"Dawn" Buffy said tearfully "... I've been ... working. I've been busy, because I have to…"

"No! You've been avoiding me." Dawn also had tears.

"I'm not! ... I have to do these things, 'cause ... 'cause when I stop, then she's really gone." Buffy said crying. And I'm trying. Dawn, I am, I am really trying to take care of things, but I don't even know what I'm doing. Mom always knew."

"Nobody's asking you to be Mom."

"Well, who's gonna be if I'm not? Huh, Dawn? Have you even thought about that? Who's gonna make things better? Who's gonna take care of us?" she was crying even harder.

"Buffy..."

"I didn't mean to push you away, I didn't. I just, I couldn't let you see me." Dawn began to cry too. Laim was crying silently to himself. "Oh god, Dawnie...I don't know what we're gonna do. I'm scared.

"Buffy..." There was a knock on the front door. Buffy whirled around, no longer crying.

"Mommy?" she said with a small smile.

"Buffy." Dawn looked alarmed.

"Mom." Buffy ran past Liam towards the door. Dawn swiftly picked up the photo of Joyce. She stared at the photo for an instant, then at Liam who gave her a nod. She ripped the photo in half. Buffy pulled the door open. There was no one there. Just darkened city street and the house across the street. Dawn went past Liam, who was crying, and went into the foyer. Buffy turned to look at her. "Dawn." She said her voice breaking. She began to sob. Dawn came forward and hugged her.

"It's okay." Dawn said. They sank to the floor, holding each other tightly and crying. "It's okay." Liam watched the whole scene unfold. He sniffled.

"I'm sorry" he said. Dawn and Buffy looked at him. "I shouldn't have done it. But she needed to learn. People maybe gone Dawn, but they never truly leave us. They're always there in one form or another." He began to cry again and slumped to the floor holding his head. Buffy and Dawn crawled to him and hugged him. He hugged back. The three of them sat there crying together.

Like I said, not my favorite episodes. But don't worry, next chapter is even better. Buffybot comes in, the gang get a surprise, Liam loses something he cared about. Comment and Review.