Wesley was approaching the buffet when he was stopped dead in his tracks by the sight of the one person he had been sure wouldn't show up to his wedding though he would have loved for her to. "Cordelia," He walked up to her and gripped her hands. She grinned.
"I didn't get you a gift, sorry."
"Yes you did. How are you here?" He asked
"I had to come." She looked behind him and wiggled her fingers at someone
Fred gasped and ran over when she saw Cordelia waving at her. "Cordelia," Fred whispered "I can't believe you're here."
"It's your wedding." Cordelia grinned at them. "Are you happy?"
Fred entwined her fingers with her new husband's. She was almost glowing. She was the epitome bride in her long white gown, the fairy tale ending young children dreamed about. She had a shiny gold ring on her ring finger to signify she'd knit her soul to someone else's. "I am, of course I am." Cordelia believed her. Cordelia tucked a strand of Fred's hair behind her ear.
"I can see that." Cordelia turned to the groom. "How about you?" She asked Wesley
"I've never been happier."
"Well I just wanted you both to know how glad I am for you." Cordelia beamed at her blissful friends. Two soul mates, both had come close to losing their souls at times. Cordelia had done all she could to protect them, Angel, Conner, and Gunn. But she couldn't control the future.
"Want some cake?" Fred asked "It's delicious chocolaty goodness."
Cordelia shook her head. She knew how long they had. What if she told them? Was there even the slightest chance it would do any good? Was that the real reason she had come? But no, she was going to let them have this happiness for as long as they could. "I'll have to pass on the chocolaty goodness. I just want to say congratulations and wish you the best for the wonderful future you have together." Fred threw her arms around Cordelia. Fred could sense that Cordelia was not human anymore. Her old friend projected a warmth. It felt like a pleasant summer day.
"Thank you for being here."
Cordelia hugged Fred back. "Thank you," Cordelia said
Fred was going to ask what Cordelia was thanking her for but Cordelia pulled away and hugged the groom. Cordelia didn't want to let go. She didn't want to release her old friend. She wanted to say a million different things to the man that had been closer to her than anybody except for Angel. She wanted to tell him she was sorry. She wanted to say she missed him. There were so many things she wanted to say that she couldn't get a single one out. So she just let her hug say all of them for her. She heard him whisper in her ear. "I know what you did."
She whispered back "You two look after each other."
They pulled apart. "I promise." He said as she faded away
Fred put her head on his shoulder. "She didn't say hi to Angel or Gunn."
Wesley put his arm around her. "They'll be all right."
"I guess everyone really did show up." Fred said "Except for Conner,"
"Yeah, it's a shame he was too busy with school."
Fred pulled her husband back out to the dance floor. They danced among their friends and family. They danced, talked, and laughed. When the reception came to an end they made their goodbyes and headed to the home they had made together.
One Year Later
Angel felt Buffy shift position next to him as he lay awake in bed, prolonging the moment when he would have to wake up. He grinned to himself. "Pancakes?" He asked
"Chocolate chip," Buffy mumbled "With extra syrup,"
Angel rose out of bed and grabbed his robe. He bent over his girlfriend and kissed the top of her head. He put on his bedroom slippers and then headed into the kitchen. Dawn was sitting at the counter sipping a cup of coffee. "Pot's on the stove." She told him
"Thanks," Angel poured what was left of the coffee into two mugs.
"Great," Andrew shuffled into the kitchen and picked up the mug Angel had poured for Buffy. Before Angel could protest Andrew had taken a big sip. "Umm, warm,"
Angel clenched his fist as he assembled the ingredients for pancakes. Buffy entered the kitchen with a yawn. "Oh is there any more coffee?" Angel wordlessly handed her his mug.
Dawn shared a look with Angel, who shrugged. "So Buffy," Angel said when Andrew had walked out of earshot. "How's the whole telling Andrew to get lost thing going?" Angel crossed his arms and gave Buffy his best stern look. It wasn't very stern when directed at Buffy, but she got his meaning none the less. "Is that going anywhere?"
Buffy sighed. "I'm working on it."
"You've been working on it for eighteen months." Dawn chimed in
"Thank you Dawn." Dawn raised her mug in solidarity as a response to Angel's thanks.
"He's going through a rough time." Buffy said "And he cleans, a lot, I hate cleaning."
"I'll clean." Angel said in exasperation "Dawn will-"
Dawn cut him off. "Wow, wow, wow, hold up; leave me out of this."
Angel gave Dawn the stink eye. "Thanks Dawn," He said, sarcastically this time
Dawn raised her mug again, mockingly this time. "What I'm here for,"
"Buffy," Angel said "This is getting ridiculous."
Andrew reappeared. "Oh Angel I forgot to give you your mail yesterday." Andrew handed Angel three envelopes. Two were junk mail, but one was from Fred and Wesley.
"It's so nice of you to get the mail Andrew." Buffy said pointedly
"And forget to give it to me," Angel mumbled under his breath as he threw the junk mail on the table and then tore open the envelope from Wesley and Fred.
"Is it another sonogram?" Dawn asked "Let me see," She put her mug down and ran over to Angel. He handed her the black square she had correctly surmised was in the envelope. Angel pulled out the letter and polaroid that were the rest of the envelope's contents. A very pregnant Fred was waving at the camera. The back of the polaroid said in sharpie 'T-3 weeks!'
"I would never let someone take my picture when I looked like that." Buffy said
Dawn rolled her eyes as she examined the sonogram. "She's pregnant Buffy."
"And fat," Buffy protested "Why would you want photographic evidence that you were once fat? Plausible deniability, if there's no evidence no one can prove it happened."
"There aren't many skinny pregnant women." Dawn protested
Buffy put her arms in the air in surrender. "And what's with sonograms anyway?" Buffy continued "I mean the baby just looks like a bunch of squiggly white lines. It's silly,"
"Geez Buffy," Andrew said "If you hate babies so much why are you going to be the godmother?" Andrew peered over Dawn's shoulder at the sonogram.
"I don't hate babies." Buffy was affronted. "I just think they're loud and smelly and not as cute as everyone says and okay, maybe a little bit."
Angel chuckled. "If Fred heard you talking like that she might take back her offer."
"Do you think she would?" Buffy asked excitedly
Dawn gave her sister a good natured shove. "You should be honored."
"I am." Buffy said sincerely "I really am." She told Angel "I just don't get why she asked me. Why didn't she ask Anne or Faith, okay not Faith." Buffy backpedaled "But someone else,"
Angel smiled. "I think she thought you would be offended if she asked me to be godfather and didn't ask you to be godmother." Angel explained "Don't worry, you'll be great."
"Yeah," Andrew said "And you don't even have to do anything unless they die… again."
Dawn sniggered while Angel read his letter and Buffy rolled her eyes. Angel was halfway through the letter and vaguely aware that Andrew was pouring the pancake ingredients into a mixing bowl when he heard a thump and the sound of milk spilling on the floor. Angel looked up and saw Andrew standing in an ever-widening puddle of milk next to Buffy and Dawn while all three of them stared at the figure standing in the entrance to the kitchen. Angel had never met the woman, but he had heard of her, seen pictures. Her name was Tara.
"Buffy," Dawn's voice crackled with emotion as she grabbed her sister's hand.
"How…" Buffy couldn't say any more than that.
"Buffy," The woman said "How nice to see you, and so chummy with one of the people complicit in my murder." Tara stepped into the kitchen. "Dawny, how you been? Forgetting me?" The woman smiled kindly, but the kindness was hollow, false. "You have forgotten me."
"No, never." Dawn said
"Does love mean anything to you? Even if your sister were the doomed party I don't think it would faze you for long. You bounce right back, so selfish, so uncaring."
"No," Tears streamed down Dawn's face.
"It's the first." Buffy realized "It's playing games with us again."
The figure transformed into the visage of Buffy herself. "Clever girl, thinks she can save the world. Stupid girl, thinks she can save herself. But you'll die and take the world with you."
"No," Buffy said "We stopped you and your disciples." Buffy insisted
"They will rise again, it is foretold."
"That's impossible, they're dead." Buffy said "I killed one myself."
"That which is without form is not bound to a single body. It is the cause of the lower beings' feeble mortality that they are bound to such breakable things. I would not allow such weakness among my students. You killed a body, nothing more; nothing of consequence."
"How will they rise again?" Buffy asked
"That would be telling." The first said, still wearing Buffy's appearance "Still, we are old friends. Do you really want to know?" The false Buffy grinned at the real one.
"Very well, then I have a gift for you outside." The first disappeared
Andrew backed up, out of the kitchen. "No, no, no, it can't be back."
"It's okay Andrew." Dawn said in a listless voice, clearly unconvinced herself
"No," Andrew said "It isn't. The last time the first was here-"
Andrew stopped talking when Buffy marched to the front door and threw it open. An envelope was sitting on the welcome mat. She picked it up. "Maybe you shouldn't-" Dawn began, but abruptly changed tune when Buffy ripped the envelope open. "Listen to me." Dawn finished in an aggravated voice "What is it?" Buffy bulled a piece of old parchment from the envelope. There was writing on it in some ancient language that Buffy was unfamiliar with.
"I should show this to Giles." Buffy said "I'll send him an E-mail." She headed into the room she shared with Angel to get her laptop. "He should be able to translate it." She called from the other room. Angel opened the broom closet and pulled out a mop.
"How did the first get it there?" Andrew asked "He's noncorporeal."
"One of those creepy eyeless guys must have brought it." Dawn shivered. "I hate to think of them in our building. I hate to think of them at all." She locked the door.
Angel set to mopping up the floor. "Buffy will handle this, we'll be okay."
Gunn knocked on the thick metal door. Conner called out from the other side. "It's safe."
Gunn undid the latch and pushed the door open. He stepped inside the bare room to where Conner was chained to the wall. The boy was covered in sweat. The four thin white scars that still hadn't faded after eighteen months stood in contrast to his pink feverish skin. Gunn set the tray of food in front of Conner. "Can I get you anything?" Conner shook his head. "Conner-"
"Please," Conner cut him off. "I'm tired, please don't ask me again."
Gunn hesitated, but pushed ahead anyways. "Your dad would want to-"
"Soon, not yet."
Gunn sighed. "If there's anything you need-"
"I just need the quiet." Gunn wasn't offended, he knew noise and light exacerbated Conner's condition. "I'll be okay today I think, I don't think it'll happen tonight."
"I hope not." Gunn said
"Thank you," Conner said "For everything."
Gunn left the boy to his food. He made sure to latch the door on his way out. It wouldn't do for Conner to have an episode tonight and get out into the hall. If one of the kids saw him it would cause all manner of problems. "Poor kid," Gunn turned and saw something that made him lose all strength. His knees turned to jelly and he grabbed the wall to support himself.
"Alonna?" He asked
"It's a real shame."
Gunn struggled to his feet. "What is this?"
"Where were you when mom and dad died? Where you when I died?" Alonna stepped closer to Gunn and held her hands up while looking toward the ceiling. "Where was the great Charles Gunn when all his friends died? Were you too busy getting mental upgrades to be bothered by their petty problems?" Alonna smiled at him, she looked so much like his sister. "I have a theory about that by the way. I think you knew what would happen when you signed that piece of paper. I think you wanted to punish her for discarding you and choosing that puny little Englishman over you. You wanted to see her suffer," Alone got in his face and glared at him with pure hate. "And bleed. You wanted her to weep, to pay for daring to hurt you."
Gunn began to cry. "I would never."
Alonna raised her arms and let them fall to her side. "Then why does everyone around you die? Are you just that incompetent?" Alonna searched his eyes. "Is that it?"
"What are you?" The tears dripped down his face.
"I'm your sister."
"No, you can't be. My sister was kind and go-"
"Your sister is a figment!" The monster screamed "She is an ideal! You don't remember her. That's what you liked so much about Fred, that she fit that feminine ideal you pigeon hole women into. She was virtuous and good. She was pure and innocent. That's why you were so desperate to keep her from killing that professor. You wanted her to be an idea. You wanted her to stay clean for you, not for herself. But she didn't appreciate what you did for her and you were angry. Perhaps that's justified. Perhaps she deserved to die, her and her unclean mate." Alonna licked her lips on the final syllable. "You're too good for them." Alonna watched Gunn shake and heave with sobs. "What's the matter big brother? Isn't all of it true?"
"Charles?" Gunn heard Anne calling him. He looked up and Alonna was gone. Anne was coming down the hall towards him. "Charles what's wrong?" She ran up to him and knelt in front of him. "Baby talk to me." He pulled her into an embrace and sobbed into her shoulder.
"It was awful."
"Shhh, baby shhhh. I'm here, it's all right." She squeezed him tight.
The very pregnant Fred sat on the couch snuggled up to her husband eating caramel corn and watching a highly inaccurate science fiction movie. "Space doesn't work like that."
Wesley chuckled. "I don't think the director really cared."
"Even if they shut off the machine the radiation doesn't just magically dissipate. And either way the radiation they'd already been exposed to was in high enough levels to cause cancerous growths later in life. They shouldn't be so excited about merely prolonging their slow painful deaths." Fred reached into the bowl and discovered the popcorn was gone. "Hm,"
Wesley took the bowl. "I'll get some more."
"But you'll miss the ridiculous contrived solution." Fred said
"I'll live." They shared a sweet smile and then Wesley headed into the kitchen. He pulled a box of popcorn from the cupboard and was peeling the cellophane of a pack when he heard a scream. Wesley dropped the glass bowl on the ground where it shattered. "Fred?"
Wesley ran into the living room where Fred was still sitting on the couch, trembling with terror as she stared at a man Wesley knew was dead. It was her old professor, the one that had sent her to Pylea. The man chuckled. "Hello little girl, what are you so afraid of?"
Wesley ran over to his wife and helped her to her feet. He pulled her close to him in a protective embrace. His analytical mind started running through possibilities for what this could be. "Who are you? What are you doing here?" Wesley could feel Fred trembling.
The man ignored Wesley's question. "What's that growing inside you?" Fred buried her face in her husband's chest, hiding from the dead man. "Is it a tumor or a parasite? Is it some disease you'll have to have cut out?" The man chuckled. "Or maybe it was once a sweet innocent baby tainted by the cold blue that lingers in your body. Maybe you damned that innocent baby."
"Whatever you are you aren't welcome here." Wesley said
"You've been spending too much time around vampires." The dead professor said "I often go where I am not welcome. Especially to places like this, where people hide."
"We're not hiding." Wesley wasn't sure why he was explaining himself to a figment.
"You're hiding from yourselves and what's inside of you. You think you can outrun it but you can't. The ice inside that woman will freeze that baby to death. In time it will take her as well. As for you, there is a darkness in you. There is evil within your bones, savagery in your blood. You would tear her to pieces if the fancy overtook you. Do you think you're a good husband, that you will be a good father? You're no better than your own father and your child will hate you just as much as you hate him. She will curse your name." Wesley shivered upon hearing his greatest fear so easily laid out before him. "But you already knew that."
"You're a liar." Fred whispered
The figure transformed. It now looked like Fred, only this Fred wasn't pregnant. It looked much like Fred had when she had died. Wesley began to formulate a theory. "No, I speak hidden truths. Let me tell you about your baby. Your baby will be deformed and ugly." Fred gripped Wesley's shirt, her eyes were squeezed tightly shut. "She will be mocked and scorned. All who see her will hate her for ruining their view. You will hate her. You will belittle her and ruin any chance that she might be confident or happy. Just like your daddy did to you. But that is but one possible future. Let us say then that your daughter is pretty. Men will look at her and desire her in their beds. You will be afraid of her sexuality and throw around unjust accusations. And because you accuse her of being a whore she will become one. Or maybe your daughter will be sickly and burden you with emotional and financial woes. Oh how many possibilities there are for how you might let her down. But there is no future where you do not." The fake Fred grinned at Wesley, a frightening mockery of her real grin. "You aren't fit to care for a child."
"I know what you are." Wesley said in a trembling voice "You're the first."
Another transformation and the figure became Wesley himself. "Do you think your friend didn't realize you were taunting him? You stole his child, you hurt his family. Why shouldn't he do the same to you? Why shouldn't he cut that baby out of your pretty wife and drown it?"
Fred began to sob. "Make it stop." She begged
"Come on, let's get out of here." Wesley led her toward the front door.
The figure transformed into Buffy. "If you really loved that woman or her baby you'd shoot her in the head right now." Wesley instinctually pulled Fred closer.
Fred cried out in pain. For a single panicked moment he thought he had hurt her on accident, but when he saw her double over in pain he knew what was happening. "It's time," She confirmed "Oh God," She almost fell to the ground, but Wesley supported her.
"Come on, we just need to get to the car."
Fake Buffy giggled. "Wait and see, you'll wish you'd killed her long ago."
Wesley ignored the monster in his house as he helped his wife to the car. He ignored its laughter and blocked out its taunts. He thought only of making sure his baby got delivered safely.
Robin finished typing an E-mail to the school board to get one of Faith's slayers enrolled in the GED program. He rubbed his eyes and turned his swivel chair to face the door. Right now he wanted a nice relaxing bubble bath. Maybe Faith would be interested. When he removed his hands from his face he saw his mother standing there. Robin stared slack-jawed. "Mom?"
"My baby boy, all grown up and carrying on with my good work. I'm so proud of you."
Robin rubbed his eyes again, but she was still there. "Are you…" He didn't know what he was thinking. "You aren't real." But he did now that much. "You can't be."
"I'm as real as you want me to be baby. I'm always with you."
Robin shook his head. "I don't understand."
"Neither do I. I don't understand why you fought alongside the monster who killed me. I don't understand how you can let him go on living, but I trust you have your reasons."
Robin continued to stare, uncomprehending. "What are you doing here?"
"I just want to make sure you don't lose your path." Nikki explained "You know where your path is don't you? You know your job is to protect the slayer line, to serve Buffy."
"Yeah, I know."
"This is your place."
"Yes, it is."
Nikki shook her head and sighed. "You say that now, but you're weak. You'll turn tail and run the second a single sacrifice is asked of you. I know you little boy."
Robin squeezed his eyes shut tight. "No, this is my place, my duty."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes," A tear slipped from his eye. "I'm continuing your good work, I won't let you down." He opened his flooded eyes. "I swear I won't let you down again mom."
"No matter what it takes?" Her voice was hard and demanding.
"No matter what it takes." She disappeared. Robin looked around the room and wondered if any of what he'd just seen was real. He heard footsteps.
Faith entered the room. "Hey babe, did you take care of that- what happened?" Faith walked up to him and put her hand against his cheek. "Are you all right, what happened?"
Robin shook his head and pulled her closer to him. She sat on his lap and kissed him. Her tongue explored the different corners of his mouth. He reached under her shirt and felt the scar on her abdomen. A demon's horns she'd said. He traced its length. "I love you." He whispered
Xander sat on the couch holding his third beer. The phone rang. If it was Willow he couldn't miss more than one call without her being worried. Had she called before? It was best not to risk it. "Are you going to get that or what?" Xander looked at the other side of the couch, where Jesse was sitting. "It's kind of rude to ignore people." Xander shrugged. So he was asleep then, had probably passed out on the couch. "Of course it's also rude to forget people."
"I never forgot. I dreamt about you, all the time." Xander mumbled
"Well now that's kind of gay."
Xander snorted. He took another sip of beer. "Do you remember…"
"Yes, I remember everything. I remember that you let me die. I remember that you let Anya die. I remember what a pathetic failure you were. You let us all down. Buffy kept letting you hang around though. It must have been some kind of self-esteem boost or something."
"I thought about you all the time."
"You don't even remember me. I'm just a name, a dead kid. There were so many, how could I hope to stand out? You and I were meant to be just name in the obits. We were always destined to be cannon fodder. You though, you dared to aspire to something greater. Xander Harris, he walks with heroes. He dated the great Cordelia Chase. He befriended a slayer and the most powerful witch in the western hemisphere. You walked in their shadows, but such long shadows can be dark places. Now you're all alone, alone in the dark, with me."
Xander took another sip of beer. He closed his eyes, blinking away a few tears. "I missed you Jesse." Xander drew his hand under his nose, wiping away snot. "I didn't forget."
"You did, and now you've been forgotten."
"No, they didn't forget me. They love me."
"Do you love them?"
"Yes," Tears were now streaming down his face.
"Is that why you're sitting here in your apartment getting plastered?"
Xander rubbed away more snot and tears. "It's so hard."
Xander blinked again to clear his vision and when he did Jesse was gone. But now Anya was standing right in front of him. "I love you so much. You were my best friend and I was willing to spend the rest of my life with you. All I wanted was for us to be happy together."
"I love you Anya, please forgive me." Xander reached for her but she stepped back.
"You let me die."
Xander nodded, openly weeping. "I did, I'm sorry, so sorry."
"Don't let them die like you let me die." She vanished.
Xander put his hands to his face and let the hot tears scald his skin. The phone rang again and Xander picked it up. He tried to compose himself. "Hello," He listened to the speaker at the other end. "Whatever you need I'm there. I'm your guy Buffy."
Lorne lay awake in bed. Teresa's rhythmic breathing next to him let him know she was asleep. Lorne froze when he heard a soft familiar voice begin to sing. "The sky's gonna open. People gonna pray and crawl. It's gonna rain down fire. It's gonna burn us all. The sky is gonna open. People gonna pray and sing. I can't feel - a thing."
Lorne sat up, slowly. Teresa didn't stir next to him. "Lindsey," Lorne whispered
The man who had softly sung stepped closer to the bed and Lorne could see it was indeed Lindsey. He was wearing that confident smile Lorne remembered so well; not as well as he remembered the outraged surprise of the man's last moments, but that would haunt him for eternity. This confident smile was almost as horrible. "Hello Lorne, how have you been?"
Lorne tried to give a light-hearted chuckle. "Good, you?"
"Dead, but you already knew that. Did you enjoy it?"
"You know I didn't." Lorne knew Lindsey was talking about when Lorne shot him.
"Do you want to do it again?"
"I would never, not for all the world. It almost killed me last time. Never again,"
"Then run Lorne." Lindsey said "Run, because blood is going to rain from the sky. Head for the hills. Take the girls with you. Start over and leave this place behind, because this is a house of death." Lindsey enunciated the last few words. "There are only corpses here."
Lorne blinked away a few tears. "No,"
Lindsey held up his hands in surrender. "Fine, but don't say I didn't warn you."
"Warn me about what?" Lorne asked
"You're tainted Lorne. You're a killer now. You can never escape it."
"No," Lorne subconsciously reached for the hand of the girl lying next to him.
"Yes. Yes Lorne you-"
Lindsey was interrupted by Teresa gasping and sitting bolt upright. "The first!"
Lindsey disappeared as suddenly as he had appeared. "That was the first." She gripped Lorne's hand. "It's evil. It tells lies and makes them sound true. It knows nothing about you."
Lorne put his head in the crock of his shoulder and closed his eyes. "It's over now isn't it? Our year of peace has come to an end." She put her arm around his shoulders and squeezed.
Spike sat at the bar with a drink in his hand. He was exhausted from his fight with a nest of vampires earlier. Harmony was equally tuckered out and had gone to bed. Spike poured himself what he decided would be his last drink and knocked it back. He sighed and slammed his palms down on the bar. He stood up and turned to head for the basement stairs. He found himself facing Drusilla. "Hello love," Spike whispered "Are you some crazy fever dream?"
She chuckled in that way that was unique to her. "Have you missed me?"
"Not so much pet, I'm over you."
"Oh," She sounded curious.
"I'm over the whole thing, passionate love. I need a break. I was exhausted. It's nice to be able to just play around." He gave her a knowing look. "Harm's great for it."
"No love for anyone?" Drusilla asked "Not even the slayer?"
"She doesn't need me."
Drusilla transformed as she spoke her next words. Her hair turned blond, her neck developed a scar. "I did." Kate said "But you weren't there. You didn't save me."
Spike backed up and hit the bar, sliding to the floor. "You aren't her."
"Because she's dead. Because you let me die. Why do you always let the women you love die? Drusilla, Buffy, me? Who else are you going to forsake? Buffy again?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Are you going to let her die again Spike?" Kate asked, but it was more of an accusation
"Of course not."
"You're a liar."
Spike reacted as if he'd been struck. "I won't let anything hurt her." Spike said
"Promise?" Kate asked
"I promise." Spike answered
She disappeared and Spike stood up. He sat down at the bar and poured himself another drink. A little while later Lorne came stumbling down the stairs. Spike could tell from his shaky steps that he'd seen something as well. "Spike," Lorne said "Something is happening."
"I saw it too." Spike poured two more drinks and held one out for Lorne.
Willow smiled as she sat cross-legged on the floor in front of the couch. Kennedy sat on the couch behind her, braiding Willow's hair. "My baby has got such nice fingers." Willow said
Kennedy kissed the top of Willow's head. "My baby has got a nice everything." Kennedy kissed Willow's neck right over her pulsating carotid artery. "She's so nice." Kennedy licked the section of skin under her lips. Willow's eyelashes fluttered. "She tastes like candy."
Willow giggled, but her joy was put to a swift end when she heard a whistle. She looked over at the doorway to the living room in their apartment. Warren was standing there. "I'm getting all excited girls." He sniggered "You've got me all hot and bothered."
Kennedy jumped to her feet. "You! You're the man who-" Kennedy clenched her fists.
"Who… But of course expecting a stupid woman to complete a sentence is a little much."
Willow stood up and put a protective arm around Kennedy. She struck out with her other hand, sending a wave of energy toward Warren. It went right through him without ruffling a hair on his head. "What are you?" Willow asked "An astral projection? A construct?"
"I'm a ghost." Warren said "I'm your ghost."
"What are you talking about?" Kennedy asked
"I saw what you did in L.A. I saw you kill that woman. What did she do to you to deserve such treatment? Her death was even more painful than mine." Warren shrugged. "You deal out death so easily child. Maybe you were just bored that day." He clapped his hands together in excitement. The sound was like firecrackers and made Willow jump. "Who's next?" He put a finger to his lips. "Hmm, let's see… Buffy? No, too much of a finisher. You need an appetizer to get the ball rolling. How about murdering your love interest? That's a good start of darkness."
"Whoever or whatever you are," Willow said with strength and finality "You need to go."
"Maybe you should use one of the clichés. Do one of those cartoon evil things that allow the audience to know you're for reals evil without us having to lose a character we've spent all this time developing. You could kill a puppy or a baby. I suggest baby, puppies are old hat."
"I said leave!" Willow sent another useless wave of energy toward him.
"Calm down my child."
"What did you call me?" Willow said in a low angry voice
Warren became Buffy. "I called you my child, because you are."
"The first," Willow whispered "Of course,"
The thing that looked like Buffy walked further into the room. "You're one of mine. You came to me, and I do not intend to let you go so easily. You will return to what you were."
Kennedy lunged forward, but fake Buffy disappeared. Willow sat down heavily on the couch. Kennedy turned around panting. "Are you okay?" She asked
Willow nodded slowly. "I'm all right." She picked up the phone and began to dial Buffy.
"Same old Rupert,"
Giles looked up from the heavy tome on his desk to see the woman standing in his office at the new watchers council headquarters. He decided he was dreaming. "Jenny,"
"You and your books, you'll never get into the twenty-first century."
""What are you…"
She smiled at him. "You let me down."
"Yes I know, I think about it often."
"With what happened, it's as if you killed me yourself. You know that right?"
"Yes," Giles said
"You won't make the same mistake again will you?"
Giles shook his head. "No, I look after the girls. I make sure they're safe."
"Especially Buffy?" Jenny asked
"Yes," Giles said "I watch after her."
"You won't let anything or anybody hurt her will you? Not like you did me?"
"No," Giles insisted "I won't let anything hurt her."
"Or anybody," Giles said "I'll keep her safe." Jenny disappeared
Buffy stood at the pay phone outside her apartment and listened to Giles read out the translation of what he said was an ancient prophecy. "This prophecy is the original text of a prophecy that has been lost since it was written. I've verified its authenticity. A demon known as Sahjhan rewrote the prophecy, for reasons that are apparent. The text tells of the end of the world. It speaks of three vessels and how they will be known. The first vessel will be born to those that are dead and breed in defiance of nature." Buffy clutched the side of the booth. Was this why Giles had insisted on her leaving the apartment and calling him back? "You will know him when he grows to manhood and kills the demon Sahjhan." Buffy's grip on the phone booth tightened. "The second vessel will be the successor to one that has died but will be called when her forebear is not dead." The edge of the phone booth broke off in her hand. "You will know her when she kills the last of the line of those born to watch those born to slay." Buffy squeezed her eyes shut and rested her head against the telephone. There was silence at the other end.
"What does it say about the third vessel?" Buffy asked
"The third vessel will be born to those who have died but are dead no longer."