Sacrifice By Persephone


Willow Rosenberg hovered in the air far above Los Angeles. The night was just beginning to fade and daylight was slowly bleeding across the horizon. A small, sad smile touched her pale face, warming the fragile features. Her bright green eyes shimmered with unshed tears as she watched the sunrise in front of her. The suns rays turned back the night and gently embraced her. All around her were the sounds of the earth once again waking up and the birds were beginning to sing. For a moment her haunted eyes closed and she tilted her face towards the rising sun, allowing its warmth to sink into her as it began its slow ascent.

“One last time,” she whispered brokenly. “I want to feel the sun one last time.” Her eyes opened to watch the sun paint the sky in front of her. Brilliant oranges, reds and yellows were streaking their way across the sky. A warm breeze whistled through the air, wrapping its arms around her and her eyes drifted closed as she enjoyed the sensation. Soon it would be time to begin. The city was beginning to wake below her and she knew that everything would be in place.

Willow almost allowed herself to think about the events that had started her down this path, instead she pushed those memories firmly to the back of her mind. She brushed her vibrant red hair behind her ear as she contemplated the morning sky. When she had first come to LA two months ago she was convinced she was finally getting a chance to start over. A smothered sob escaped her lips and she pressed her hands over her mouth. It had been very stupid of her, Willow decided now.

Tears ran unheeded down her cheeks, even as she tried to stop. Willow had promised herself that she was done with the crying and feeling betrayed. Willow glanced down at the building below her; it helped bring her back under control. Wolfram and Hart would not be in one piece by the end of the day. She could see signs of life in the building and knew that this was it. By the time she was done she would have made it a little easier on the people that she had once called friends.

As Willow began to lower herself to the ground, she really wished she could walk away. Unfortunately, Willow knew that was no longer a possibility. She had said her good byes to everyone and the only one who knew what she was doing was Giles and he was in England. He would never be able to get here in time. Willow smiled to herself as she gently landed in the alley behind Wolfram and Hart. As she walked around to the front of the building and entered the front doors a song began to play in her head.

For a moment everything seemed to slow down as the song began its refrain in her head. Willow was pretty sure it was Low by Kelly Clarkson and it seemed to fit perfectly with this situation. She reached out for the magic that was so much a part of her and welcomed the numbness that came with it. With her every step the song gained in volume, until her own lips began to move with the final verse and chorus.

I walk out of the Darkness
With no sense of regret
And I go with a clear conscience
We both know that you can’t say that
Here’s to show for all the times I loved you so

Have you ever been low?
Have you ever had a friend that let you down so?
When the truth came out, were you the last to know?
Were you left out in the cold?
‘Cause what you did was Low.

Have you ever been low?
Have you ever had a friend that let you down so?
When the truth came out, were you the last to know?
Were you left out in the cold?
‘Cause what you did was Low.

As the magic began to well up inside of her, Willow knew that her eyes were as black as night. With that security came the detachment that she needed to take the next step. Willow stretched her reach to the hellmouth in Sunnydale and felt it come alive at her touch. In an instant it was firmly under her control and her hair became black. Her eyes closed and with a quick gesture a barrier slammed into place around the building. She had to smile at the sense of satisfaction that gave her.

Her eyes opened and she smiled at the receptionist, who was scrambling for the telephone, as Willow slowly walked towards her. Willow had to admit that somewhere deep inside of her she delighted in the fear coming from the receptionist. No one would leave this building alive. She heard shouts as one of the senior partners came running down the stairs. Before her protective barrier was in place around her a bullet struck her shoulder and blood began to run down her arm. Willow didn’t even break her stride with the music still thrumming through her and the magic filling up every part of her.

As Willow came to a stop in the center of the lobby, the sun was just beginning to pour into the windows, and she enjoyed watching the play of sun on the gleaming tile floor as her blood began to run across it. Willow allowed a smile to touch her lips before she once again reached out for the hellmouth, only this time she reached out to every hellmouth in the world. All of them began to react to her touch, coming alive within her.

Deep inside herself she could feel the magic gathering and begin to swirl in her and the air surrounding her crackled with the power. She knew that there were several key employees’ that weren’t here. However, all of them were tied to their contracts and those contracts were kept in the basement of this building. Through those pieces of papers, signed in blood, Willow was going to kill everyone involved with Wolfram and Hart. Not even the demons would be able to escape her wrath.

Willow felt the power suddenly congeal within her. In that moment, Willow reached deep within the earth, finding the balance of all life there, and yanked it upwards. The lobby of Wolfram and Hart split in two as the ground jumped beneath it. Flames leapt high from the crevice that reached to the center of the earth. Willow hovered in the air above the lobby floor, her lips still moving along with the song.

The ground in Los Angeles began to tremble. People were thrown off their feet as it buckled and jumped. Their screams hung in the air as the ground opened around them. Willow remained unaffected, wrapped firmly in the embrace of her dark magic, floating above the sea of destruction she had caused. The song was still running in her head and as the chaos continued below her, she couldn’t help but sing along.

Everybody’s talking
But they don’t say a thing
They look at me with sad eyes
But I don’t want their sympathy
It’s cool that you didn’t want me
Sometimes you can’t go back
But why’d you have to go and make a mess like that?
I just have to say one thing before I let go

Have you ever been low?
Have you ever had a friend that let you down so?
When the truth came out
Were you the last to know?
Were you left out in the cold?
‘Cause what you did was low

No I don’t need your number
There’s nothing left to say
Except I never thought it would hurt this much to be saved
My friends are outside waiting
I’ve gotta go

Have you ever been low?
Have you ever had a friend that let you down so?
When the truth came out, were you the last to know?
Were you left out in the cold?
‘Cause what you did was Low.
What you did was Low
What you did was Low
What you did was Low

I walk out of the darkness
With no sense of regret
And I go with a clear conscience
We both know that you can’t say that
Here’s to show for all the time I loved you so

Have you ever been low?
Have you ever had a friend that let you down so?
When the truth came out, were you the last to know?
Were you left out in the cold?
‘Cause what you did was Low.

Have you ever been low?
Have you ever had a friend that let you down so?
When the truth came out, were you the last to know?
Were you left out in the cold?
‘Cause what you did was Low.

As the power continued to pour into Willow, she began to chant. The spell that she had memorized came to her lips unbidden and as the words began to shake the very fabric of the world, Willow could only hear the song playing in her head. Willow stared down at the people that were still alive and trying to find a way out of the building. There were countless bodies strewn about in the decimated lobby. Willow’s detached eyes watched as another quake shook the building and a pregnant woman tumbled into a new opening.

A tear slowly trickled down Willow’s cheek but the chanting continued. When the spell was finished Willow was shining as brightly as the noonday sun. White light poured from her as she raised her hands slowly above her head. The light began to gather between her hands, as bright as the sun with a black center.

Lightening began to flash from the white orb. Willow’s red hair was blowing gently in the non-existent breeze as she concentrated on pouring energy into the orb. For each flash of lightening there was a death. The lightening began to chase employees through the building. Willow stared up at the ball, almost blinded by the brightness, even as she opened herself more fully to the magic coursing through her body.

Tears were running unheeded down her cheeks and her blood was slowly dripping into the pit below her. Willow said one last good bye and then cast the glowing ball deep into the earth. As the ball struck the earth flames shot straight up and the building began to tumble down around her. Willow glanced up unconcernedly as a portion of the ceiling fell past her and crashed into the ever-widening pit. Willow poured all of her magic into the ball that was continuing its trip into the center of the earth.

Suddenly she felt everything click into place. The hellmouths were closed, the slayers were called into service and Willow couldn’t stop the smile that spread across her face. An explosion rocked the foundation of the building and Willow was quickly reminded that there was still something she needed to do. Willow gathered her last bit of magic and began to chant again, using her blood she wrote quickly into the air. With her last bit of strength she completed the last word and felt the snap as the hellmouths settled into her. The ground began to shake again, and the building gave another groan.

Everything was coming down. The building was beginning to crumble around her. Willow felt her power slowly draining from her. The hellmouths wrapped firmly inside her own soul and quiet. A smile crossed her face, even as she began to fall. Willow made no attempt to prevent the fall, instead welcoming the end of her fight.

The flames reached up to wrap around her and she could feel their searing heat. “It is done,” she whispered right before she felt the flames close around her. As the darkness was rolling over her, Willow felt strong arms catch her. For an instant Willow felt like she was loved and safe.

Lips brushed across her forehead and a voice whispered to her, “sleep Willow.” Willow gave up the battle against the darkness and it rolled over her in a huge wave and consumed her. Willow Rosenberg was no more.

Chapter 1

A heavy silence hung over the group sitting in the lobby of the Hyperion Hotel. None of them seemed to want to break the silence or make eye contact as they remembered the night’s events. It seemed so strange that just two days ago the Hotel had rang with the sounds of laughter and love. And now there was nothing left but guilt, emptiness and a sense of foreboding.

Thunder and lightening suddenly filled the lobby. A black cloud touched down in the center of the lobby. For a moment hope took a root in the shape of the figure in the center of the cloud. The hope died as the smoke cleared and an older gentleman stepped forward and looked around wildly. His blue eyes were haunted and desperate as he looked at each member of the group. “Where is she?” He gritted out when he did not see Willow with the group.

It was Angel that stepped forward, shaking off Buffy’s clinging hand, “Giles what….?” Angel never got to finish his question before Giles was on him.

“Where’s Willow?” Giles tightened his hand around Angel’s neck and gave him a shake.

The silence that descended was deadly. Giles tried to meet the eyes that had suddenly found something fascinating on the floor. Giles shook Angel roughly, “I am not kidding, Angel. Where is Willow?” Giles voice was tight and deliberate.

“We don’t know G-man,” Xanders voice broke in wearily. Giles turned to look at Xander and realized that everything Willow had told him was true. Xander looked destroyed and without hope. Xander’s face was haunted and gaunt. As Giles looked into the eyes of the boy he considered a son, he saw an unspeakable torment. Giles released Angel and took a step towards Xander, wanting to comfort him and ease the boy’s pain. As Giles took that step the ground suddenly bucked beneath him.

Screams rang through the hotel as the floor buckled and jumped beneath their feet. The Hotel began to shake and jerk as things began to crumble. Everyone was knocked to the floor as the ground continued to shake and moan beneath their feet. Suddenly there was a huge explosion and then everything fell silent. The whole experience was over as suddenly as it had begun and left everyone in the hotel stunned.

“Was it an earthquake?” Faith asked as Gunn helped her to her feet. She cast a quick glance around the lobby and found that everyone was in one piece.

“No,” Giles replied as he and Xander stood. “It was Willow.”
“What?” The entire group turned towards Giles. He stood in the center of the destruction and his expression was of a man defeated. A tear was making its way slowly down his cheek and Giles’ jaw was clenched tight.
“Giles I don’t understand,” Angel stated as he helped Buffy to her feet and then shrugged her off as she tried to cling to him. “How…”

Chapter 2

“I regret to inform you of the passing of Willow Rosenberg,” A voice boomed around the entire lobby and through each person present. Everyone except Giles jumped at the voice. Whistler stepped out of thin air and into the lobby. He looked at Giles and inclined his head before looking at everyone else in the room. For once Whistler wasn’t upbeat and bright, even his clothes were lacking their usual brilliance today despite all of their brightness.

“What do you mean ‘passing?” Xander asked suspiciously as he came forward. He grabbed Whistler and shook him hard. Xander could feel the tears beginning to spill down his cheeks. There was an emptiness coming from deep inside him, from the spot that he had always labeled as Willow. Whistler met his gaze and Xander could read the truth there, he fell to his knees. Xander began to sob, his face pressed into his hands as began to murmur brokenly. “Not Willow. Please Wills, don’t leave me here alone.”

Xander curled up on the floor, burying his face into his knees as the sobs shook his entire body. He kept trying to tell himself that Willow wasn’t dead but he couldn’t deny the emptiness that was spreading through his body.

Everyone else watched Xander with shocked eyes. Tears began to stream down cheeks as they watched the dark headed youth collapse. Cordelia dropped down beside Xander and began to stroke his head and back, whispering nonsensical words of comfort. Xander didn’t seem to notice as he continued to sob brokenly.

Whistler turned towards Angel with cold eyes. For the first time in their acquaintance Angel had the feeling that he didn’t measure up in those eyes. Angel shook his head in denial as Xander’s words finally penetrated. It was a lesson, Angel told himself as he stared at Xanders’ sobbing form. The PTB were trying to teach them all a lesson in how important the red headed witch was. Angel didn’t need to be taught that lesson; he already knew how important Willow was. He had allowed jealousy and rage blind him to what was in front of him.

Willow was a gift sent to him from the powers. She had entered his home and had given him everything. She had brought his son peace and united the AI gang in a way they had never been before. Thinking of his son brought his gaze around to Conner. As Angel met Conner’s gaze the rage and grief he saw burning in them almost brought him to his knees. He hadn’t seen that look since Willow had forced Conner to sit down and listen. This mistake couldn’t have cost him Willow and Conner; Angel took an involuntary step toward Conner his hand outstretched. Angel’s hand dropped to his side as Conner turned from him and looked at Whistler.

“What happened to Mom?” Conner’s voice was cold and hard. He wasn’t going to give into his grief yet. There had to be a way around it, after all Mom had brought the Slayer back to life. The very thought of the slayer brought a wave of hate and anger, that woman had destroyed his family. And Angel had let her, Conner’s fist clenched. His own father hadn’t said a word and had even agreed with the Slayer. Conner battled the impulse to shake the answers he wanted out of Whistler and simply waited.

“Willow contacted us a couple of days ago,” Whistler explained, his own expression gaunt with grief. “After the fight she decided to put into motion a plan that was never meant to see the light of day.” Whistler paused for a moment and glanced around the room. He wondered why the powers were even bothering with these people after everything they had done to Willow.

“Willow had a way of destroying the law firm, closing all of the hellmouths and calling to service every person born with the ability to be a slayer.” Whistler glanced at Giles and nodded at him. “Giles was the only one that Willow told in the world of the living.”

“I told you that she didn’t know the meaning of friendship,” Buffy said spitefully. “She just wanted us to need her more.”

Conner was across the room before Buffy had finished speaking. His fist slammed into her face and she went flying into the wall. “You will shut up about my Mother,” Conner rasped out as he watched her struggling up from the floor.

“She hadn’t done it because it would call for her death and she had to have the blessing of the powers.” Whistler glared at the Slayer. “Willow was too important for the future of mankind to be allowed to die.”

“What do you mean?” Xander asked from his position on the floor, his voice thick from his grief.

Whistler turned to look at him and his face softened as he took in the grief in Xander’s eyes. “Willow was going to give birth to a child. She and that child were going to save the world from total destruction. Because of her death, it will be 1,000 years before a soul that pure will be born and the world is doomed to suffer for your jealousy and stupidity.” Whistler turned back to Angel his lips twisting into a sneer as he saw the slayer snuggling up to Angel.

“Willow was destroyed by your betrayal. She decided that it would be better if she was no longer in the picture.” Whistler paused for a moment, his eyes clouding at the memory. “Willow came to us and begged us to allow her to do this. She told us that she was going to die, one way or another. She just wanted to make sure that certain dangers were removed.” Whistler turned back to Conner. “She loved you very much and wanted to say good bye but knew you would stop her. So she said good bye to Giles instead.”

A smile touched Whistlers’ lips. “Willow knew that even if Giles went to the coven and got the power they would give him, he could never make it in time. So she went to him and asked him for forgiveness for believing she deserved happiness.” Whistler closed his eyes as the memory of it washed over him. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more moving sight. She begged Giles not to hold it against any of you, that it was her own fault for daring to believe she was good enough after everything she had done.” Whistler shrugged and met Giles eyes sharing his grief with the other man. “She told him everything and left.” Whistler’s eyes returned to Conner, “She did leave you a message.”

Conner felt tears slipping down his cheeks. He could easily picture Mom doing that. He could feel his emptiness grow with every word that came from Whistlers mouth. “What did she say?”

Whistler smiled and shook a finger at him chidingly, “you forget your mother was a witch. I just have to do this.” With a twist of his fingers there was a brilliant flash of light.

Everyone in the lobby blinked rapidly, trying to clear their streaming eyes. When they were finally able to see again Willow was hanging in mid air in front of Conner. Her red hair seemed to blow in an invisible breeze, swirling gently around her. Her green eyes were warm and loving as she gazed down at Conner. There were dried tear tracks on her cheeks and her dress was slightly tattered as it swirled around her legs.

“Mom,” Conner breathed as he reached up to touch her cheek. His dark brown eyes locked on her image even as his fingers passed through it.

A smile suddenly touched her lips and she began to speak. “Conner,” Willow’s voice filled the air, husky with grief and tears. “I wanted to tell you that I couldn’t love you more if you had come from my own body.” She paused and a tear made its way down her cheek. “I’m sure that you disagree with what I’ve done, but believe me when I say it is for the best. If I had stayed or even just walked away, everything would have blown up in my face.” Willow paused and took a deep breath; her green eyes shifting to stare out into the distance. “I don’t want you to hate your father too much,” Willow reached out to touch his cheek.

Conner’s eyes closed and he could almost feel her fingers stroking his cheek. He could feel the love that she had always shown him. “When I look at you, I’m reminded that no matter how much I’ve messed up, there would always be someone who loved me.” Conner’s eyes opened to see her smiling down at him. “The situation with Angel was my own fault. I knew that he didn’t love me like he loved Buffy. But I selfishly thought that my love would be enough for both of us.” More tears dripped down her chin as she shrugged. “It wasn’t. I was stupid and naïve to believe that it would,” Willow made no attempt to wipe away the tears. “But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love you, Conner. He loves you more than anything else. Remember that for me Conner,” Willow cupped Conner’s face in her hands. “Always remember that he and I love you so very much and even if I’m not here with you anymore I am no more than a thought away.” Willow smiled and tilted his face up to brush a kiss across his forehead. “Do not blame yourself.”

Willow straightened and stepped back, “I will always love you, my son.” With that Willow was gone, leaving behind a silence that was broken only by sobs.

Chapter 3

Whistler turned away from them and started to walk away only to pause, “I almost forgot.” Whistler turned back to Angel, completely ignoring the shattered expression on Angel’s face. “Your soul is no longer permanent. With Willow’s death the clause is once again a factor.” Whistler smiled at Angel’s confusion. “Willow begged and bargained so that you could have a chance at happiness and a reason to fight,” Whistler shrugged carelessly at the tears forming in Angel’s eyes. “The oracles agreed and let you have your soul on the condition that it was tied to hers. The moment she died the deal became null and void.” Whistler reached into his jacket and pulled out a tape. He tossed it at Angel, “I’d suggest you watch the tape. It’s from Wolfram and Hart’s security cameras. The Powers figured you might want to watch Willow’s final moments.” Whistler once again turned from the shattered group. “Have a good day.”

Whistler was gone in the blink of an eye and left everyone staring at the tape in Angel’s hands. For a long moment nobody spoke as they tried to figure out what to do next. Finally Angel moved towards the television, his movements slow and defeated. Everyone moved closer as the picture snapped into focus.

There were indrawn breaths when Willow walked into the picture. Angel couldn’t tear his eyes away from his love as her eyes went black and she smiled at the receptionist. He flinched in pain when the bullet struck her shoulder and she didn’t even blink. He concentrated on memorizing Willow’s face and her expressions.

“What is she singing?” Lorne asked as he stared at Willow. Angel blinked and realized that Lorne was right; Willow was singing something to herself as her hair went completely black.

“It’s ‘Low’,” Fred said as she picked up the rhythm. “Willow loves that song.”

Angel couldn’t look away as Willow began to chant and a glowing ball began to form between her upraised hands. Her figure was shining a brilliant white and lightening flashed from the ball. Then she was casting the ball into the abyss underneath. Angel couldn’t stop the anguished moan as he saw the tears and blood. Everyone watched as Willow regarded the falling debris with no expression on her face. An explosion caused the flames to leap even higher. Suddenly her hand dipped into the blood running down her arm and she began to write in the air with her blood.

The ceiling began to collapse around Willow, and with a sweet smile on her face, she began to fall into the pit. Angel swallowed thickly, making no attempt to stop his own tears, as Willow tumbled into the flames below her. A sob caught in his throat as the flames leapt to catch her and wrap around her before the tape came to a stop.

Conner was the first one to move after the tape ended. He turned away from the images now burnt into his mind and the group, heading for the stairs. He couldn’t stay in the same place as the people that had caused Willow’s death. He was almost up the stairs when he felt a hand on his arm. He turned to look and found himself staring into Xander’s eyes. There were still tears running down his face and yet determination was there in the set of his chin.

“I want to go with you,” Xander told Conner, with a catch in his voice. “Before you protest, remember that I love Willow as much as you do and I can’t be around them anymore than you can.” Conner nodded and the two of them walked out into the sunshine of a new day.

Giles watched them go with a heavy heart. The tape of Willow’s final moments was not something he ever wanted to see again. To know that the young lady he considered a daughter had met her end that way was almost too much to deal with. Giles dark blue gaze switched to Buffy and Angel and he really wanted to hate the two of them. However, as he stared at Angel, Giles only saw a broken man. Willow’s death had done what no big evil ever had. The Scooby gang was broken and AI was in shambles.

His gaze focused on Buffy and his face tightened. He had once loved Buffy as much as he would have loved his own child. How could that bright girl have turned into this spiteful bitch? Giles wasn’t sure but as he glanced around the room he realize it didn’t matter.

Spike, the one that had started this mess, was standing in the corner smoking a cigarette. He was staring blankly at the wall, his face completely still and without expression. Gunn and Fred were holding onto each other with tears still running down their faces. Cordelia was still kneeling where Xander had curled up, staring down at her hands. Lorne was standing in the center of the room, staring up at where Willow had appeared just moments before.

Giles still remembered how Willow had looked when she had appeared in his quarters at the watcher’s council. Had it only been yesterday? Her green eyes had been bruised and dead. Tears had still been dripping down her cheeks and Giles couldn’t do anything but hold out his arms to the young girl. Her face had completely crumbled as she threw herself in his arms. As his arms had tightened around her, her sobs had almost brought him to his knees.

She had gasped out the entire story. What she had done, how she thought that Angel had loved her and how her friends had completely destroyed her. It had been too much; his head had been swimming with everything she had told him. And then Willow had told Giles her plan. She told him what it would do, how it would affect everyone and why she had to do it.

He could still hear her voice, “Buffy told me that I didn’t know what Friendship meant, Giles. And she was right.” Willow had stared up at him with her stricken, tear soaked eyes. “I hadn’t taken that final step because I didn’t want to die.” Giles rubbed warily at his eyes and shoveled his hand through his salt and pepper hair. He had tried to convince her not to do it. There had to be another way to handle everything but Willow had just shook her head and pulled away. “Good bye Giles. I just wanted you to know that I love you and that you’ve always been a father to me.” And with that she had been gone.

“Let go!” The shout brought Giles out of his memories. As Giles turned to see what the commotion was he was surprised to see Buffy flying through the air. “You’ve caused me too much trouble already Buffy. Just get the hell out of my life,” Angel growled at Buffy as his dark brown gaze flickered to gold.

“You can’t mean that Angel,” Buffy pleaded as she walked back towards him. “Just because the clause is in effect doesn’t mean that we can’t work around it. Besides this means we won’t have to listen to Willow’s whining because of us being together.”

“Just shut the hell up,” Angel spoke quietly and determinedly. “I don’t want you in my house again. Get the hell out of my life. If I never see you again it would be too damn soon.”

“But Angel…” Buffy pleaded as she touched his arm. His hand connected with her cheek with a resounding smack.

“You’ve caused the death of someone more precious to me than anything. My own son has walked away.” Angel looked down at his hands. “I just don’t care about you any more. In fact, I can’t say that I care about anything right now.” Angel turned and retreated up the stairs to his room. His steps echoed eerily in the following silence.

“He can’t mean it,” Buffy whispered. Tears were beginning to fall down her cheeks as she pressed one of her hands against her cheek. Her big blue eyes sparkled with tears as she turned to look at Giles. “Giles?” She whispered as she looked at him. She expected him to hold her and tell her it was going to be okay. Everything crashed down around her as Giles simply shook his head. The disappointment on his face was enough to make everything she had done finally hit home. “Oh my God,” she groaned and buried her face in her hands. “What have I done?”

No one had an answer for her as they tried to make sense out of everything that had happened. The only thing that everyone knew for sure was that nothing was ever going to be the same.

Chapter 4

On the other side of the world, emerald green eyes blinked open to dazedly stare up at the night sky. As the eyes began to slowly focus, bright green eyes met pale green eyes narrowed with concern. “You okay Demi?” A concerned voice asked as helpful hands eased her into a sitting position.

“I’m fine Kat,” Demi assured her best friend as she bit back a groan. “What hit me?”
“The demon we were fighting got in a lucky punch,” Katrina told her as she sat back on her heels to study her friend. “Are you sure you’re okay? You still look queasy,” Katrina’s questioned anxiously as she pushed back a strand of bright red hair from Demi’s forehead.
“I’m fine,” Demi assured her with a bright smile as she waved a hand in the air. Demi slowly rotated her head and then with a groan stood and stretched, wincing at the pull of muscles. “Definitely going to need a rubdown though.” Demi grinned at Katrina as she rose to her feet beside Demi.
“Sounds like a plan to me,” Katrina grinned and linked arms with Demi. “In fact Maria’s inn is just ahead, what say we stay for the night and sleep in an actual bed for a change.”
“Sounds absolutely fabulous to me,” Demi assured her black haired friend as they began to walk down the dirt path.
“And since patrol went so well and we caught the demon we were looking for, I say we take the rest of the night off,” Katrina told Demi even as she continued to scan the night around them.
“Perfect,” Demi breathed as she laid her head on Katrina’s shoulder as they continued walking. Katrina pressed a kiss to Demi’s head and Demi relaxed completely with the knowledge that she was loved and safe.

Katrina kept an eye out for any further trouble but there didn’t seem to be any demons around. Katrina wasn’t quite sure how she knew that but it suddenly seemed like she could track demons and she was much stronger. When that demon had sent Demi flying, everything in Katrina had stopped and when she had come to her senses the demon had been a bloody corpse before her. She seemed to be faster and stronger. In the morning she would bring it up to Demi and see what she thought was going on, but for tonight Katrina would let Demi sleep and recover.

When Katrina’s parents had died, there had been no one to take her in and her life had become a hellish blur of one foster home after another. Then when she was eight Demi had appeared, with her bright red hair, green eyes and a loving nature. With Demi she had found a reason to fight and someone to protect. Katrina looked up into the night sky and thanked the powers and made a solemn vow that nothing would ever hurt Demi.

Demi sighed and relaxed even further into Katrina as they continued down the path. Ordinarily she would be helping Katrina with scanning the night for danger, but tonight everything was spinning. The hit she took from the demon had been a hard one. Demi could remember the blow, the feeling of flying through the air and seeing the ground below rush up to meet her, but she didn’t remember hitting the ground. In fact, when she had opened her eyes Demi had been convinced that there was supposed to be someone else there.

But who else would there have been? When it came down to it, Demi didn’t have anybody but Katrina and hadn’t since the day she had met Katrina when they were eight years old. As the inn came into sight, Demi thanked the goddess for giving her Katrina. She needed that one person who loved her unconditionally.

A figure watched the two girls from a distance. After a few moments the figure turned and disappeared into the mist but not before whispering a final message into the night, “be happy.”

Chapter 5

10 years later

The red tree will spread it’s branches and roots
The roots will bind all of hell in their tight embrace
The branches will offer life to heaven

The tree will fall
Forsaken by those called friends
The chosen one will became the Chosen ones
An army shall rise up from the tree’s ashes
All heading the tree’s call

From the trees’ tears shall be born another
The flame shall burn all away
United with the wind
Taking up the call
The two will stand before hell’s fury
United with the forsaken ones

The tree shall be reborn in hell’s fury
Sacrificing all to protect
The flame and the tree will decide
Life or death

Giles reread the text of the book that had just been delivered from the Watcher’s council. His dark blue eyes blinked and he rubbed at his eyes, trying to deny what the text stated. The letter with the book stated that the Council knew the team that was referred to and that the team would arrive in a week.

Giles was not thrilled with idea of telling Angel and the rest of the gang that there was a prophecy concerning their actions all those years ago. His blue eyes stared unseeingly into the distance. Had it really been 10 years since Willow’s death? After that morning, the fight had gone out of the group left behind. Buffy and Dawn had disappeared after the fight with Angel. Conner and Xander checked in periodically, or at least Xander sent letters from time to time.

Giles had remained with the AI gang to help in LA. If you could call what they did helping. They did their best to prevent minor evils; most of the major players had been taken out with Willow’s sacrifice. When you took into consideration the fact that everyone was going to have to come together to prevent another apocalypse, it was almost too much to deal with. Giles sighed and shook his head. Things had gone from unbearable to hellish in a blink of an eye. With one last look at the prophecy he pushed away from his desk and went in search of the AI gang.

An hour later, Angel stared at Giles in silence. His dark eyes pensive as he thought over what they had been told about the new prophecy and what it could mean. Somehow, he had a feeling that they were missing something. Of course trying to find everyone was going to be hard, but he had faith that they could find everyone. What worried him was the line “The tree shall be reborn in hell’s fury.” For some reason, Angel knew that those words where the key to the entire prophecy.

“Angel?” Giles’ hesitant voice broke into Angel’s thoughts.
“What do you think?”
“I think that we are missing something obvious,” Angel told him as he dragged a hand through his hair.
“I’m not sure what it is, but I know that it’s important.”
“Perhaps we should do some research into the prophecy,” Wesley offered hesitantly.
“Good idea, Wes.” Angle pushed himself away from the table. “And then we need to spread the word that everyone needs to come back to LA.”
“I can do that,” Gunn offered.
“Thanks,” Angel smiled at everyone at the table before slowly walking away.

Everyone watched the dark vampire walk away, marveling at the changes the past decade had made.
Willow’s death had changed Angel in a way that no one had been expecting. Now the search for redemption became the need to find salvation, so that in death Angel could be united with Willow. He moved slower these days, as if he was feeling his age. He could often be found sitting in his room, surrounded by Willow’s belonging, talking to her.

In the beginning this had caused some concern and the gang had watched Angel even more closely. Fred had finally figured out that after these conversations, Angel was calmer and seemed happier. Everyone had decided Angel needed this conversation to remind him why they fight and what his reward is going to be. So they had pretended the conversations didn’t exist and someone always followed him when he made his annual trip to visit where Willow had died.

Chapter 7:

Katrina shifted slightly in her seat, trying to return feeling to her arms without waking Demi and Sean. Demi had fallen asleep right after boarding the airplane in Philadelphia and Sean had managed to stay awake only for the first half an hour. Demi had become increasingly jumpy the closer they had come to the United States. Katrina had fought to keep remain calm despite Demi’s violent mood swings and Sean excitement.

Katrina stilled suddenly when both Demi and Sean moaned and snuggled closer to her. She began to hum under her breath and stroked both of their heads and in seconds both had eased deeper into sleep. Katrina pressed a kiss to Demi’s burnished red head and one to Sean’s bright red head. Her hands absently stroking both heads and down their backs.

A glance around the airplane showed that almost everyone in the airplane was either reading or sleeping. There was no sense of immediate danger, just the same sense of unease that Katrina had been feeling since the Watcher’s Council had contacted them two weeks ago. The shock of the visitor had almost as much of a shock to find out that Willow Rosenberg had managed to call all the Slayers into service and closed all of the hellmouths.


The stake had just struck home. The vampire burst into a cloud of dust, its painful grimace dissolving and Katrina had paused for a moment to catch her breath. She still wasn’t used to patrols on her own but Sean was sick and Katrina wouldn’t allow Demi to go with her. Besides according to the death count and research that Demi had done there wouldn’t be too many new vampires. While it had been a fight, Demi had eventually agreed to stay behind.

Katrina couldn’t help but smile at the memory. Demi hadn’t been able to patrol as much as she had wanted since discovering she was pregnant. Now that Sean was 9 years old, they could leave him with friends and go patrolling. As Katrina slowly straightened, a hand grabbed her shoulder.

Katrina reacted without thinking, latching onto the hand flinging them over her shoulder. She adjusted her hold on the wrist and began to bring the stake down, when she suddenly came to a stop. She was staring at an older man, with wide frightened eyes that was definitely human. A quick glance showed that he was dressed in a suit and tie with highly polished shoes.

“Miss Katrina Roberts?” The man’s voice was slightly unsteady.
“Last time I checked,” Katrina replied as she released the man and took a cautious step back. She kept her stake firmly in her hand as the man slowly rolled to his feet.
“My name is Sebastian Carson and I am from the Watcher’s Council.”
“And your point is what? The last time one of you showed up we told you that we could handle it on our own.”
“Indeed.” The man responded and nodded to her as he slowly gained his feet. He brushed at his suit, trying to remove the bits of grass and dirt on the fabric. “And we agreed with that, you had done very well so far on your own. With Miss. Rosenberg’s’ final act we had so many Slayers running around that we didn’t have enough people to watch everyone.” He paused and reached into his suit.
“Careful,” Katrina cautioned and took another step back.
“I am only getting the paper which explains why I am here,” Sebastian tried to reassure her. He pulled out the paper and offered it to her when she hesitated, “I swear that there is no poison or anything that could harm you.”

Katrina carefully took the paper, keeping her eyes on Sebastian before shifting down to the paper.
The red tree will spread it’s branches and roots
The roots will bind all of hell in their tight embrace
The branches will offer life to heaven
The tree will fall
Forsaken by those called friends
The chosen one will became the Chosen ones
An army shall rise up from the tree’s ashes
All heading the tree’s call

From the tree’s tears shall be born another
The flame shall burn all away
United with the wind
Taking up the call
The two will stand before hell’s fury
United with the forsaken ones

The tree shall be reborn in hell’s fury
Sacrificing all to protect
The flame and the tree will decide
Life or death

“What in the world?” Katrina asked confusedly as she once again reread the paper. “What does this mean?” She asked as she looked back at Sebastian.
“We believe it is a prophecy concerning Miss Rosenberg’s actions 10 years ago.”
“What does that have to do with me?”
“It concerns you and Miss Demi Callaghan.”
“Demi? Why,Demi?”
“Demi is the spitting image of Miss Rosenberg. And the prophecy talks about a flame being born, uniting with a wind.”
“I read that,” Katrina interrupted. “I still don’t see what brings you here.”
“Very simply, we believe that you and Miss Callaghan are the team spoken of in the Prophecy. And as such we need you to go to Los Angeles and unite with the crew there.”
“You want us to go and help the very people that betrayed Miss Rosenberg.”
“I understand your fears but it is necessary. If the Prophecy is to be believed then Miss Rosenberg will be reborn.” Sebastian shrugged and gestured to the paper. “We have already sent what we know to Rupert Giles and have arranged for your trip.”
“WAIT,” Katrina held up her hand, shaking her head slightly. “First I talk to Demi. Second, we will decide if and when we go.”
“You need to be there in two weeks,” Sebastian replied stiffly.
“I understand. However, Demi and I are a team. We decide everything together.”
“Of course,” Sebastian nodded and handed her another card. “This is where I am staying in Rome. Call me when you have made your decision or if Miss Callaghan has any questions.”

End Flashback

Turbulence brought Katrina back to present day. Sean came awake with a jerk and clutched at her. She winced slightly and stroked a hand down his back. Demi jerked her head upwards and collided with Katrina’s head.

“Owww,” Demi moaned.
“Ouch,” Katrina groaned and tried to blink the stars out of her vision.
“Bet that hurt,” Sean observed before returning his head to Katrina’s shoulder and falling back asleep.
“Smart ass,” Katrina replied even as she pressed a kiss to his head.
“He definitely takes after you,” Demi told Katrina, her voice husky from sleep.
“He’s your son, Dem,” Katrina responded as her hand explored the top of Demi’s head. “How’s your head?”
“It’s fine. The pain is already fading,” Demi assured her.

Katrina adjusted her head, so that her chin rested lightly on top of Demi’s head. Demi placed her hand over her heart and snuggled even closer. Her emerald green eyes drifted closed, soothed by the familiar rhythm. The buzzing in the back of her head was softer when she was close to Katrina. She didn’t understand why her skin seemed to stretch tighter the closer they came to Los Angeles.

“How much longer till we’re there?” Demi asked sleepily, already drifting back to sleep.
“Another hour or so, then hello L.A.. Go back to sleep, hon. I’ll stand watch,” Katrina whispered.
“kay.” Demi’s voice faded away and her breathing became slow and deep.

Chapter 8:

In Los Angeles a battle was brewing. When Angel had first put out the call that the original gang was needed he didn’t have any doubts about bringing everyone together again. After all it had been ten years and people change in that time. Unfortunately, it seemed that whatever progress had been made disappeared the moment everyone was in the same room.

Buffy and Dawn had arrived days after the call went out. Buffy was harder, colder than she had been all those years ago. Her hair was darker, her blue eyes cold and haunted. Angel had hoped that they could come to an understanding. Instead, Buffy had decided that ten years was long enough to wait. She had been trying to corner Angel since her arrival, determined to convince him to give them another try.

Angel had tried to reason with her the first few times. Explaining he was still in love with Willow and always would be. She had scoffed at him, having decided that Angel was in love with her and didn’t want to admit it. And nothing Angel or anyone else had said would change her mine.

Giles had interfered once and the two had gotten into a fight. It didn’t end until Giles had actually struck Buffy, so she was avoiding him. Dawn spent her time in the corner of whatever room she found herself. She seemed nervous now, jumping whenever anyone came close to her. Her brown hair was longer and Dawn seemed to use it as a screen, shielding her eyes behind the thick mass.

Spike had blown in shortly after that. His hair longer and light brown again. He seemed quieter, more withdrawn though his attitude remained the same. He is as cocky as ever and definitely in your face. There was a new scar across his left cheek and he refused to tell anyone what had happened. His black leather duster had been replaced by a simple leather jacket, his white t-shirt and black jeans left behind in favor of tan chinos and a sapphire blue button down shirt.

Angel couldn’t help but wonder what had changed him in the past 10 years. The only time that Spike relaxed seemed to be with Dawn. He had even managed to get a couple smiles from the shy girl. For the rest of them though, Spike hadn’t attempted to remain polite. He and Buffy had been fighting from the moment he walked in and they managed to draw everyone else into it.

The only people not here yet were the team from the Watchers’ Council, Xander and Conner. Angel wondered if the two men would show up. Neither of them had done much more than drop a letter in the mail for the past 10 years. Though Angel had heard that the two them had started a company that specialized in security. Angel had to smile at the thought and how proud Willow would be of the two men.

The thought of Willow brought with it the familiar sense of pain. The argument in the lobby faded away as Angel was filled with thoughts of Willow. With everyone back in LA, he couldn’t help but see her there. Her green eyes warm and welcoming as everyone arrived, she would be calming the tempers and dealing with all arguments. In fact, as he stood there he could almost hear her voice in his head, telling him not to worry that everything would work out in the end.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more pathetic sight in my life,” the male voice was mocking and without mercy.

Everyone turned to stare at the two men standing on the landing. Xander smirked slightly at all the people staring at him. His dark brown eyes were cool and confident. Angel couldn’t help but wonder what other changes had occurred. Xanders’ face had lost its innocence and the roundness of youth, it seemed to be drawn with a sharper pencil. His dark brown eyes gave nothing away as it met each of theirs.

“What do you think Con?” Xander asked casually.
“I don’t see why we are bothering,” Conner’s voice was colder than ice and contemptuous.
“Me either,” Xander shrugged, “but the message said it had to do with Willow.”
“Which is the only reason I’m here,” Conner’s tone was firm and final.

Conner eyes softened slightly as he looked at Xander. He had been Conner’s rock since Willow had gone off to her death. Xander had held him while he cried and kept him sane when everything was going to hell around him. It had been Xander’s idea to use everything they had been through and use it to make a living. It had been a gold mine and now they had over 12 offices in different states. As long as Xander was beside him, it was like Willow was alive. Xander would tell Conner stories of Willow and growing up in Sunnydale. On the anniversary of Willow’s death, the two of them would lock themselves in their house and drink to her life and memory.

Angel couldn’t help but notice all the differences in Conner. His dark hair was longer now and held back from his face by a simple leather tie. Conners eyes seemed to be even more shadowed now, a new anguish hidden in their depths. He seemed tougher, his shoulders broader and his body more muscular.

“Hello Xander, Conner,” Giles hurried over and offered his hand to both of the men.
“Giles,” Xander replied and shook his hand.
“Mr. Giles,” Conner greeted. His eyes met Giles and read concern and genuine warmth in them. “I don’t suppose you could explain what’s going on? The message we got was vague.”
“I would be glad to,” Giles assured him and smiled at both of them. “I was just waiting on everyone to arrive before I did. Seeing as almost all of us are here I can go ahead.”
“Almost everyone?” Xander asked as they followed Giles down the stairs.
“Yes. There’s a team from the Watchers’ Council on the way. The Council believes they are the ones spoken of in the prophecy.”
“It just had to be a prophecy,” Xander groaned as he looked over at Conner.
“There is always a prophecy,” Conner grinned and shrugged his shoulders at his friend.
“You have a smart mouth,” Xander shot back and took a swipe at Conner’s head.
“Don’t hit me,” Conner replied and dug his elbow into Xanders’ ribs.
“Someone has to.”
“You are not funny.”
“Of course I am,” Xander assured him.
“Ha Ha.”
“If you two are finished,” Giles asked trying to hide his smile.
“Sorry,” both of them chorused and then smiled at each other.
“Then I’ll explain.” Giles’ took off his glasses and wiped them off, before handing everyone at the table a piece of paper. “This is a copy of the prophecy that was the reason we brought you all together.”

The room fell silent as everyone read the piece of paper in front of them. While the LA gang had already knew the prophecy they were interested in what the others’ reaction would be. Conner’s head snapped up and he glared over at the AI gang, his hand clenched on the paper and it crumpled.

“Is this saying that Mom is alive?” Conner gritted out, his voice harsh and unforgiving as he met Angel’s eyes.
“Conner,” Xander cautioned the young man, placing a restraining hand on his arm.
“No Dad! I want to know,” Conner argued with Xander, shaking off his hand. “I want to know if Mom thinks we just left her there!”
“You have to wait and let Giles explain. The prophecy is vague and it could be nothing more than a play of words,” Xander continued his dark eyes holding Conner’s. “We won’t find out anything if you keep screaming.”
“Fine,” Conner bit out and collapsed back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest. “I’ll listen but if they don’t explain it to my satisfaction then I’m leaving.”

Angel bit back a groan at the pain of hearing Conner call someone else Dad. It struck him again how much he had lost when he had refused to listen to Willow. He could still see the pain and disbelief in her green eyes when he had turned away from her. Angel blinked back the tears that swam in his eyes and concentrated on the group. If Willow was alive then he was determined to win back her trust and love. It was the only thing that kept him going.

Chapter 9

Kat stared down at the address in her hand and then back up at the building in front of her. It loomed out of the shadows, its windows dark and empty. Kat ignored the shiver of fear that snaked down her spine at the feeling of emptiness radiating from this building. It took all of her training to fight back the fear and walk up the stone steps. Her steps rang hollowly as she climbed towards the front door.

Her hand closed on the doorknob and with a deep breath Kat opened the door and stepped inside. Her pale green eyes swept the lobby, where several lights blazed. Despite the light there was a sense of shadows and darkness. The sounds of an argument drifted to her ears and automatically she searched the room for the cause. In the center of the lobby was a huge table and everyone around it was shouting.
Though most of the shouting was coming from a dark haired young man.

Her pale green eyes skimmed over the group; placing names with faces. The young man had to be Conner, the man sitting beside him was probably Alexander Harris. From there was Rupert Giles, Gunn, Fred, Cordelia, Buffy, Dawn, Angel and finally Spike. At the sight of Spike a smile broke out across Kat’s face. It was nice to know that Spike had been called back; Demi would be thrilled to know that Spike was here. Maybe it would finally calm her down, Kat thought with a sigh.

“That prophecy says that Mom is alive,” Conner argued, fists clenching at his side.
“All it says is that the Tree would be reborn,” Buffy broke in. “It doesn’t mean that Willow is alive. Willow is probably nothing more than worm food anyways.”
“You need to shut up,” Conner rasped and slammed his hand down on the table. “This is your fault! You! And your stupid, petty jealousy.”
“No Willow started it by believing that Angel was doing anything but screwing her. He’s my soulmate and always will be,” Buffy shot back. “Willow doesn’t inspire any emotion but that.”
“Why you stupid…” Conner’s voice trailed off as another voice interrupted.
“No wonder the Savior decided to kill her self. If this is what she had to live with,” Kat broke in easily.
“I can definitely see why you all are referred to as ‘The Betrayers.’ It suits all of you so well.”
“Who in the hell are you?” Conner asked, his dark eyes burning into hers.
“Kat!” Spike exclaimed and hurried around to her. His pale blue eyes were brimming over with warmth and love before his arms closed around her. He lifted her off of her feet easily, her arms encircling his neck as he spun her around. “I’ve missed you so,” Spike whispered into her ear before setting her down and pressing a kiss to her lips.
“Not as much as I’ve missed you Spike,” Kat returned her hands reaching out to catch his. “I like the new look.” She ran an admiring glance down his outfit. “Demi will be thrilled to know that you finally became color coded.”
“I can’t wait to see her,” Spike smiled and squeezed Kat’s hand before glancing around. “But where is she?”
“The flight wiped her out so I dropped her and Sean off at the house we are renting.”
“I see.” Spike frowned slightly, disappointed in not seeing Demi. “I supposed I understand but I was looking forward to seeing her.”
“Why don’t you come back to the house with me?” Kat asked with a grin, “I’m sure that Demi will be thrilled and you can stay with us.”
“That would be great Pet,” Spike agreed and bent to place a kiss to her forehead.
“Excuse me. But who are you?” Wesley asked.

Spike sighed and rolled his eyes at Kat before stepping away from her. While he could introduce her Spike knew that Kat would prefer handling it herself. So when she stepped forward he was content to remain silent.

“Kat,” she offered simply. Kat made no attempt to shake hands or be polite. She was here to get a job done and nothing more. This people were beyond contempt and not worth her time. “The Watchers Council sent me. I’m a slayer and my partner is a witch.”
“A pleasure to meet you,” Wesley smiled and offered his hand. It wavered in the air for a long moment before Kat turned and looked at Spike.
“Did you warn them?”
“Not yet.” Spike shook his head, crossing his arms over his chest. “I didn’t want to take the chance that you weren’t the team they sent.”
“I can understand that,” Kat agreed and turned back to the rest of the group. “I figure I’ll be nice and warn you that my Demi looks like the Savior.”
“That’s the second time you’ve said ‘The Savior’,” Angel observed quietly. “Whom are you talking about?”
“Willow Rosenberg,” Kat replied shortly. “Demi looks like your Willow. That’s part of the reason that we are here. If you don’t believe me ask Spike.” Katrina waved her hand at Spike easily before sticking her hands into her back pockets. “He can tell you that when he first met Demi he thought she was Willow.”
“Too right,” Spike agreed as he slipped an arm around Kat’s waist and drew her against him. She came easily, hands slipping out of her pockets to rest on top of his on her stomach. “Demi could pass for Red. Except she doesn’t sound the same, smell the same or have the same heartbeat.” Spike met Angel’s dark gaze and shrugged at the pain he found there. “Not to mention Demi has a much nastier temper. But I’m sure you’ll see tomorrow.”

Angel’s mouth opened but shut again as a telephone began to ring. Kat pulled a cell phone from her jacket and flipped it open.

“Go,” Kat greeted into the telephone. A frown crossed her face as she listened to whoever was on the other end. “What do you mean the house is a mess? I just left you not more than a half hour ago and everything was clean!” She paused again to listen. “Love what are you talking about? Sean was sleeping peacefully in his bed when I left. I very much doubt that he has suddenly gone insane in that amount of time.” A hand began to rub at her temples, green eyes closing as she continued to listen. “You want me to pick up what? Where in the hell am I supposed to find that here?!” Kat’s voice rose sharply and she took several deep breaths. “You’re losing it lovey I think….” Her voice broke off in mid thought as the other person interrupted. “He’s your son! Fine! Fine! I’ll find a supermarket and get the cleaning supplies. Then I will be back. Okay?” Kat spun on her heel and charged for the door. “I’m on my way okay? Just tell Sean to go to his room until I get there.”
“Problems?” Spike asked with a grin as Kat flipped her phone closed and climbed the stairs.
“Demi is having a mental break down. She’s been going mental since the Council contacted us. I’ll be damned if I can figure out why though.” Kat shook her head and stepped outside, completely forgetting the group of people behind her.

Spike shrugged his shoulders at the group and followed her out the door. As she walked away he was struck by the memory of how he had met her. It had been a night similar to this one……

5 years ago

Spike stumbled out of the pub, unsteady on his feet. Today was the five year anniversary of Red’s death and Spike was determined to giver her a proper send off. Red had been his only friend and after her death he hadn’t waited around. Spike had left L.A. too much guilt to work through to stick around

His feet rattled noisily on the pebbled path. He had been in Europe for the past two years, burying himself in booze and women to forget. But tonight he had welcomed those memories. He delighted in the thought that she had finally found peace. Of everyone he had ever known she was the one who deserved it the most.

A flash of red caught his eyes and he glanced up. Just ahead of him a woman was standing next to a black haired girl. She was facing him, her green eyes full of amusement as she laughed at her companion. Her pale skin was white in the full moon and Spike felt an unneeded breath catch in his throat.

His dazed blue eyes traced the woman’s features. Blood red hair fell around her face, drew back loosely by a simple leather tie. “Willow,” he whispered as he drew closer. He couldn’t believe it! Willow was alive and standing in front of him. She looked so happy. Maybe she had finally forgiven him.
“Willow!” Spike called as she started to turn away. He couldn’t let her get away now. He charged at her, oblivious to the way the woman’s eyes widened in surprise and confusion as he wrapped his arms around her waist. “Forgive me Willow! Please. I am so sorry!” Spike sobbed into her stomach, his arms wrapped tightly around her waist as he kneeled on the stone in front of her. “I didn’t know! Please!”

There was a suddenly burning sensation across his face and then darkness was rising up to grab him. He slid to the ground, tears still wet on his face. His last image was of Willow bending down over him, her hand gentle on his face.

Chapter 10

Demi looked at the prophecy again, her mind automatically providing alternative meanings. She was struggling to ignore the itch that seemed to get deeper with every minute she spent in this town. They had been in town for two days and she had been avoiding the Betrayers for the most part. Kat and Spike had been content with running interference for her and letting her research.

Tonight was the first night that she was going to come face to face with them. She had needed a book that wasn’t easily obtained and when Kat had mentioned it to them, Giles and Wesley had assured her that they had it. So Demi had decided she might as well go over there and use their library.

When they had first arrived no one had been here. Spike had decided that they were probably out on patrol or whatever. He had shown them into the library and then disappeared, telling them he had something he needed to take care of. So now Demi was sitting at the table, books everywhere and listening to Kat breath.

Everything had been off since they had arrived. She was more jumpy than usual, clinging to Kat and general driving everyone insane. Her temper was short and the smallest things could set her off. Sean had decided to stay at the house and watch movies he didn’t get much chance of that in Europe. Demi glanced at Kat and noticed the slight bags under her eyes and felt a tiny stab of guilt. She had been taking most of her frustration out on her best friend, knowing that Kat wouldn’t hold it against her. She had even gone back to sleeping in the same bed as Kat, which she hadn’t done since she found out she was pregnant. Kat never questioned her, simply welcomed her and held her when the dreams began again.

Those first few years after that night, Demi would wake up screaming. The dreams were so vivid and yet she had never managed to remember any of them. She had only a vague thought of someone betraying her. Demi felt an all consuming pain and a loneliness that went into her soul. Demi had never been able to understand it but being with Kat had always helped.

A noise brought her head up and her heart began to beat faster. Kat looked over at her and then caught her hand before standing up.

“Sounds like they are back. I’ll let them know we are here,” Kat told her easily.
“Okay…” Demi replied hesitantly. She worried about their reactions. If Spike had reacted to her like that what were the others going to do?
“Darlin’ you need to calm down,” Kat whispered in her ear as she pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “We can handle anything they through at us.”
“I know,” Demi replied. She made a conscious effort to relax herself, reaching for the magic that was so much a part of her. It came easily, filling her with peace and yet there was an edge there now. It was as if there was darkness on the edge of it, calling out to her. She blocked it out and followed Kat to the door. She wasn’t about to let Kat go in alone; she had been doing that too often lately.

“Demon activity is picking up,” a voice was complaining as the sounds of chair scraping on the floor filled her ears.
“That’s to be expected right now,” an English accented voice replied. “Especially, since they are trying to open the hellmouths again.”
“Is that even possible?” a female voice queried. “I mean didn’t Willow take care of that?”
“Yes,” Demi answered the girl. She was still hidden behind Kat but could see the group. “The spell the Savior used tied the Hellmouths into her own soul. To awaken them, you have to have her.” Demi took a deep breath and slid her hand through Kat’s arm before stepping beside her.
“Oh my God,” Giles breathed and slumped back into his chair. He had half risen to greet Kat and her partner only to be freeze when she had stepped around Kat.

She was Willow’s twin. Flaming red hair fell loosely around her face and down her back. Brilliant green eyes sparkled with intelligence and serenity. Her expression was calm as she faced them, her hand tucked snugly through Kat’s. Her figure was rounder, though still slender. She wore a pair of fawn colored slacks that flowed down her legs and nipped in at her waist. A simple red top was tucked into the waist, showcasing how slender she was.

“Willow,” Angel breathed. His hand reached out in surprise, his expression dumbfounded as he stared at the ghost that appeared in front of him. Pain flashed across his features when she looked at him with nothing in her expression before looking at Giles.

“I’m Demi,” She greeted as she met each of the gazes. “Kat and I have been partners since we were 8 years old.”
“That is true,” Kat agreed. Her eyes locked on the shocked group in front of her, alert to any danger.
“There are ways for the powers to fake memories,” Wesley offered.
“That is true but unlike the Key,” Demi shot back. “I have the birth certificate, the pictures and the diplomas from the three colleges I have graduated from. The Key is not even alive and is nothing but energy. You can fake memories but not the records to back them up. And I have those. Does she?” Demi’s voice was hard and impatient. Her eyes sparkled like green flames and her entire manner was uncompromising.
“No,” Dawn admitted quietly. “I don’t have any of those.”
“You shouldn’t make assumptions without proof,” Demi scolded them. “Of course you guys are good about that aren’t you? After all everyone knows that you assumed something about The Savior and look at what happened? Do you guys ever learn or are you just that damn stupid?”
“They are that damn stupid Pet,” Spike told her lazily. “If it goes against their little ideals it’s bad. Everything has to be their way or you are out. Poor Red never stood a chance. After all you aren’t allowed to make mistakes in this group unless you are Buffy or Angel. Isn’t that right?”

Silence met his statement and everyone began to shift uncomfortably. After Willow’s death a mirror had been held up to them and they hadn’t liked what they had seen. With the exception of Willow, everyone else had made terrible mistakes and no one had ever said word one. But the moment Willow messed up everyone had immediately turned against her. And she had been completely innocent of everything they had accused her of. What did that make them?

“What the hell do you know?” Buffy bit out. “You know nothing about the situation whatsoever. Willow got exactly what she deserved. Trying to take what was mine!”
“Yours?” Demi questioned with an arched eyebrow before bursting out laughing. “And I see you are so happy with what you reaped. Correct me if I’m wrong but have you and Angel even been in the same city since that day 10 years ago? If you want to keep telling yourself that go right ahead. But to the rest of us in the slaying community, you are nothing but a spoiled rotten little girl.”
“So sit down and shut up,” Conner bit out. “No one cares what you think. Right now the important thing is Mom and I want to know what Demi found out.” He paused and looked at Demi, demons written in his dark gaze, “will you tell us please?”

Demi paused for a moment and considered the implications of what she was about to tell them. It wasn’t going to be nice or pretty and they were probably going to be really upset. But Demi was sure of her reasoning, especially after watching the tape of the Savior’s death. The pleading of Conner’s gaze convinced her though and she nodded slightly at him. She looked at Kat and received a smile in return before Kat went back to watching the group.

“When we were first approached by the Council, Kat and I were unsure as to what it would have to do with us. I decided that the best bet would be to look into the Savior’s past,” she paused and everyone nodded. “So I started digging and found out that she comes from a long line of spell casters. In fact I could trace her line to Merlin.” Demi’s hand began to gesture and excitement began to sparkle in her eyes. “Which meant that Willow had the power to do what she was said to have done that and a lot more.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Buffy burst out.
“It explains why the Prophecy talks about her being reborn. You see the first spell she used would call for the death of the caster. But the next two are surprising,” Demi told them urgently, her hand digging into Kat’s arm.
“In what way?” Giles asked
“She called all Slayers to service. This automatically tied her to all the Slayers. In the beginning that was how they knew who the girl was. Because everyone who cast that spell was connected to the Slayer powers but because they only called them up one at a time, the men died. With Willow calling all Slayers to service that means that she is tied to all of them. They are alive through her. Every minute there is born another baby with the power and Willow is tied to them. As long as a new Slayer is born Willow is all but immortal.”
“I think I understand,” Giles nodded.
“The last spell, the one she used to close the hellmouths, was different. She used her blood for the spell.”
“So that means that the hellmouths are in Willow. Her soul is what is closing the hellmouths. And that is instant immortality. There were a hundred different ways to close the hellmouths but I think that the Powers that Be didn’t want to lose Willow. So they gave her that spell to use.”
“I think that she needed to die for the first spell but the other two were to secure that she would be reborn again. But what I don’t know is where she is. If she was already pregnant, they might have erased her memories and placed her somewhere else. They could have simply placed her in another dimension. Or she could be held in a time warp, sleeping.” Demi shrugged. “There are all sorts of options out there. But I really think that wherever she is she isn’t aware of who or what she is. You don’t want to upset someone with the much power. Not to mention you run the risk of the evil from the hellmouths corrupting her innocence.”
“So what do we do?” Giles asked.
“If anyone wants to open up the hellmouths they have to get Willow. To do that they are probably going to go back to where she was last,” Demi replied with a shrug.
“Wolfram and Hart!”

Chapter 11

10 years ago…

Willow was humming under her breath as she opened the door. The bags in her arms shifted slightly as she juggled them out of the way and then shut the door with her hip. It had been a good day, one that filled her with a new sense of confidence.

The spells that Lorne had needed had been easy and had settled into place without a single problem. On the way home Willow had passed one of the many open markets and had a sudden craving for homemade bread, so she had stopped by the store and gotten everything she needed.

A glance at the clock showed that she still had a couple hours before Angel woke up. A fissure of delight snaked down her spine. How she loved that man. And Conner would be back from his errands soon, so Willow was content to turn the oven on and begin her baking.

A sound behind her had her spinning around. Her green eyes were wide with shock and her hand was pressed to her pounding heart. The sundress she wore spun around her legs and left her shoulders bare. Relief spread through her when she met Angel’s dark eyes.

“You scared me Angel,” Willow scolded gently as she moved towards him. Angel said nothing, just watched her with cold dark eyes. “You’re up early,” Willow continued as she stood on tiptoes to press a kiss to his lips. To her surprise they remained motionless under hers. She took a step back and stared up at him for a long moment. “Is something wrong?” Willow finally asked, trying to ignore the way her stomach was suddenly clenched with nerves.
“You could say that,” Angel finally said. His voice was dark and cold, without the warmth that Willow was used to.
“What is it Angel?” Willow asked softly, her green eyes becoming nervous.
“Come into the living room. There are some people you need to see,” Angel told her before turning and walking away.

Willow followed him slowly, almost afraid to. Her heart was pounding in her chest and Willow couldn’t help but feel like this was going to be very, very bad. And yet, she couldn’t help but wonder what was going on. She hadn’t done anything that she knew of. At the door of the living room she stopped, Angel was blocking the view of whoever was there but arms were suddenly flung around him and the sound of a kiss filled the room.

Willow felt her heart stop in her chest as Angel gathered the woman into his arms and turned to face her. Willow’s startled green eyes met the smug satisfied blue of Buffy’s. Buffy was snuggling against Angel, slightly rumpled from their kiss. But Willow could see that it wasn’t the only kiss that they had shared.

“What’s going on?” Willow finally asked. She cursed mentally when her voice came out to so softly, she wanted to be stronger.
“What do you think Willow?” Buffy taunted softly. “Angel and I have worked everything out. The fact that you lied to him was a very bad thing.”
“Lied? Lied about what?” Willow asked, confused as to what Buffy was talking about. She turned her eyes to Angel only to look away from the indifference she found there.
“Why about Spike,” Buffy replied innocently. “The secret affair you have been having with him this whole time.” Buffy snuggled closer to Angel and smiled at Willow when he tightened his arms around her. “Spike told Angel and I all about it.”
“Affair? What affair?” Willow asked and turned towards Angel. “You can’t honestly think that I would do something like that?”
“It’s not like it matters Willow,” Angel told her carelessly. “You were okay but it’s not like it was anything serious.”

Willow wavered slightly at the pain. Her eyes closed as his words repeated themselves in her mind. Tears began to burn in her eyes but Willow refused to let them fall. She had always known that she had been a stand in for Buffy but it hurt to have him say it.

“Come now Willow,” Buffy taunted. “You really didn’t think he felt anything for you? After all he’s always been in love with me. You were nothing more than a warm body. Besides we know that you and Spike are spending all that quality time together.”
“I admit to spending time with Spike but not like that,” Willow told them quietly, hands clenching at her side. “We are friends. Nothing more!”
“Friends?” Buffy asked. “Like you and Angel are friends right? Not that Angel is really your friend.” Buffy paused for a moment and stared at Willow. “And everyone knows now Willow. All of us. So don’t think you are going to be welcomed anymore.”
“I’m not welcome anymore?” Willow asked softly, struggling to hold back the tears.
“Why would anyone want someone who will betray them like that around?” Buffy asked.
“Angel I would…” Willow started only to stop as Angel’s hand connected with her cheek.
“I don’t want to hear it!” He hissed at her. “You heard the woman I love. You are no longer welcome here. Now get out!”

Willow held a hand up to her stinging cheek and stared up at Angel in amazement. The tears were beginning to spill but Willow was slowly starting to go numb. While she had always been afraid of something like this happening, it had never actually occurred to her that they might kick her out.

Willow found herself falling back into her magic, eyes fluttering closed. Allowing the darkness to rise up within her soul and consume her. As the darkness surrounded her, numbness began to spread through her veins. The pain she was feeling disappeared and her tears dried, a small smirk touched her lips as her black swirling gaze opened to meet Angel’s and Buffy’s. Both were beginning to look slightly nervous as Willow placed a hand on her hip and began to laugh.

“If you wanted me gone Lover,” Willow purred. “You really should have said something. You didn’t have to go to such lengths.” She took a step forward and trailed a hand up Angel’s chest.
“What do you mean?” Angel asked, uneasiness beginning to spread through his body.
“I mean that you didn’t have to pretend that I betrayed you with Spike if you wanted to end our relationship. If you want to fuck Buffy you should have just said so,” Willow continued artlessly. Her hand waved in the air before she turned her back on them. “Even I know when I’m not wanted. It was stupid of me to think it would work anyway.”
“Willow I…” Angel started to speak, beginning to doubt his conclusions.
“No Angel,” Willow interrupted with a careless smile tossed over her shoulder. “I get it.
You want me gone. You can’t be a man and admit that you never felt anything for me. That I was nothing more than a whore and now that Buffy is free you want a life. I get it,” Willow bit out and whirled to face them both again. “So I’m gone. And I hope that you’ll be very happy with each other!”

Angel took another step towards Willow, convinced that he had made a terrible mistake. The pain that he had seen in her green eyes had almost brought him to his knees. But this reaction caused fear to creep up his spine. As he began to reach for her, thunder and lightening consumed her. In seconds she was gone and an empty feeling began to spread across his chest.

Angel jerked awake, sweat streaming down his body and tears trickling down his face. His hand was outstretched, trying to catch Willow. His chest heaved with unneeded breaths as he stared uncomprehendingly at his bedroom walls. His body collapsed against the pillows as he realized it was nothing more than a dream. He curled up in a ball, holding tightly to Willow’s pillow and began to cry. His sobs echoed emptily around the room.

Across town Kat jerked awake to the sounds of Demi’s screams. Her feet were already on the floor and a sword in her hand before she was conscious of moving. She ran down the hall to Demi’s room, the screams still ringing through the air. She tried the knob and found that it was locked and another scream ripped through the air. Vaguely she was aware of Spike coming up behind her, demanding to know what was going on.

Kat grasped the knob with her hand and pulled. The hinges gave with a load groan and Kat threw the door out of her way as she charged into the room. Demi was still screaming. It took a moment for Kat’s eyes to adjust and then they swept the room. Demi was screaming on the bed but no one else was there. Kat lowered the sword and hurried over to Demi, pulling the hysterical woman into her arms.

“Shh,” Kat soothed as she began to rock. “Everything is all right.”
“I’m sorry. I am so, so sorry,” Demi cried as she clung to Kat. Her arms wrapped around Kat’s neck and her face was buried against Kat’s throat.
“It’s all right,” Kat soothed and began to stroke Demi’s hair. “Everything is fine.”
“It’s all my fault,” Demi sobbed into Kat’s neck. “Everything is my fault.”
“Shh,” Kat soothed. “You’ve done nothing wrong.”
“I should have known,” Demi whispered brokenly. “All my fault.”
“What’s your fault?” Kat asked.
“My fault. All my fault,” Demi whispered over and over again.

Kat said nothing more, just continued to rock Demi until she fell back asleep. Demi’s tears were still trickling down her face, even as she slept. Kat made to lay Demi down and Demi groaned and clutched at her, trying to pull her closer. Kat gave up and swung Demi up into her arms. She swept out of the room, Demi held firmly in her arms.

Spike was waiting in the hall, arms crossed over his chest as he watched her. His brown hair was tousled from sleep, his jeans zipped but not snapped and riding low on his hips. Sean came out of his bedroom and was rubbing at his eyes.

“What’s going on Mom?” Sean asked sleepily, a yawn preventing him from asking any other questions.
“Nothing,” Kat assured him. “Go back to bed.”
“But Mommy was screaming,” Sean protested.
“I know but it was just a nightmare. She’s fine now,” Kat told him and pressed a kiss to the top of his head.
“Are you sure?”
“Okay,” Sean agreed and covered up another yawn. “Then I am going to go back to bed.”
“Goodnight baby,” Kat called.
“Night Mom, Uncle Spike,” Sean replied as his door shut behind him.

Kat moved into her room and settled Demi onto her bed. Demi rolled over and wrapped herself around Kat’s pillow, hugging it to her chest as she continued to sleep. Kat rubbed at her forehead and wondered what she had done to warrant this type of punishment.

“Pet?” Spike called softly.
“Hmm,” Kat answered as she looked over at him. He was lounging in the doorway staring at her with a considering expression. He gestured for her to come over and she did, stopping when she was next to him. “What’s up?”
“Are you sure there is no way for Demi to be Red?” Spike finally asked, his blue eyes level on hers.
“I really don’t think so,” Kat replied after a moment. She crossed her hands over her chest and looked back at Demi sleeping on the bed. “We’ve been together since we were 8 years old. We have pictures and everything to prove it.”
“I know that but she does look just like Red,” Spike told her. He reached out and brushed a hand down her cheek. “Is it possible that they could have put Red’s soul into Demi?”
“You mean that night 10 years ago?”

Kat was silent for a long moment before she spoke again. “That night Demi and I were out on patrol. I may not have been a Slayer but I was trained for it and Demi was the perfect partner. We ran into a demon that we weren’t prepared for. It was stronger, faster, and deadly.” Kat’s voice trailed off and Spike waited, watching her carefully. “Demi took a blow that sent her flying. To this day I still remember the sound of her smacking into the ground.” With that Kat stepped away and moved back towards the bed. With a practiced movement she slid into bed with Demi, pulling the covers over them and adjusting to the snuggling motions the other woman made.

Spike was left standing in the doorway, puzzling over what Kat had told him and what it could mean. Was it possible that Demi contained Willow’s soul? And if she did, what did that mean to the rest of them?

Chapter 12

Willow Rosenberg shifted slightly, her head tossing as distorted images flowed through her mind. Her mouth was pulled down in a pout, hair tangling around her face as tension and anger pulsed in her blood. Her hands twisted anxiously, fisting as she fought with the demons in her mind.

For a moment her eyes fluttered and a slice of the emerald green gaze could be seen. Then her breathing slowed. Her muscles relaxing and her eyes closed again. She was asleep again, secure from the images that had plagued her.

Angel stared out into the sunny garden from the shadows. Red roses spilled across the flowerbeds and their sweet scent floated on the air to him. The sky was a brilliant blue, birds were singing and the sun was shining down. It was wasted on him as he brooded about past mistakes. When Spike and Buffy had come to him and told him, Angel hadn’t believed them. After all Willow loved him and would never betray him. But they had planted doubt in his mind. He had never told Willow what she meant to him, never told her that for him she was the sun.

So the idea that Willow had been looking for love from someone else hadn’t been so far fetched. And his own fears that he wouldn’t be enough to hold her attention for long had consumed him. He hadn’t emerged from the haze of his own fears until Willow had disappeared. And he had realized what exactly he had done. Angel had rushed to alert the rest of the AI gang and to have them start searching. But it had all been in vain and her death plagued him more than any other.

The thought that she could be alive filled him with both hope and dread. If she hadn’t come back of her own violation then Angel was faced with the possibility that Willow hadn’t forgiven him. If she didn’t remember and was living quietly, secure in the love of another man, what right did Angel have to take that away?

None. Angel decided and stared out into the garden. Willow had loved the garden, delighting in taking care of it. She had told him that for her it was relaxing and a way to remind herself that no matter how much evil was out there, there was beauty too. So Angel had continued to take care of it after her death. He refused to let anyone else anywhere near it. Every year on the anniversary, he would take flowers from their garden to leave for her. Another way for him to try and make amends.

As he stood there he could almost see Willow in the garden and a smile crossed his face as he fell into the past.

“Angel?” Willow asked as she blinked up at him. She was kneeling in the dirt of the flowerbed and looking up at him. “Is something wrong?”
“I couldn’t sleep,” Angel admitted sheepishly. “I thought you were going to come to bed, it is almost dawn.”
“I know,” Willow told him and shifter her attention back to the flowers. Her glove covered hands worked at digging a hole for her new plant. “I was too restless to sleep. And I didn’t want to bother you, so I thought that I would work out here.”

Angel noticed that Willow wasn’t meeting his gaze and she had been avoiding him the past couple of days. Willow had been coming to bed after he was asleep and gone long before he woke up. The only way that he knew that she was there was the warmth in the sheets from where she had laid. And here lately the warmth hadn’t been there.

So as the clocked had ticked away the minutes and Angel had laid there waiting for Willow to come to bed, it had suddenly come to him that Willow wasn’t going to come up to bed. He had begun to rack his brain as to what might have caused this sudden change and it dawned on him that two weeks ago, Willow had walked in on a conversation between him and Buffy. Just as he was admitting that he still thought about her too.

Of course Angel had meant it as a thing of the past. Not a wish for the future, but there had been a flash of hurt in Willow’s eyes before it was masked. At the time Angel had told himself that he had imagined it that Willow had to know that he loved her more than anything. He may never have told her, too worried that if he admitted it then he would risk losing her. God knows that he lost everyone he loved.

Now staring down at his love, Angel knew he couldn’t hold his tongue any longer. But he didn’t want her to think that he was saying it because he wanted to have sex again. So Angel decided that he would wait and tell her for their anniversary. Tonight, or this morning, he would show her that she was the most precious thing to him.

“Come to bed,” he whispered as he knelt down beside her. Taking the trowel from her gloved hand and placing it on the ground.
“I told you that I am too restless,” Willow replied shortly. She didn’t look at him as she said it, nor did she try and retrieve her trowel. “You go onto bed. I’ll be up shortly.”
“You haven’t been to our bed for almost a week and before that you only came when you knew I was asleep,” Angel told her and tried to get her to look at him.
“You’re imagining things Angel,” Willow told him and reached for the flower. “I just haven’t been tired lately.” She shrugged and her hands worked the dirt around the newly planted plant.
“That is not what the circles under your eyes say,” Angel told her as he wrapped a hand around her chin and turned her face towards him.
“It’s called insomnia,” Willow told him. She still didn’t meet his eyes, instead choosing to look to the side.
“I’m tired but I can’t sleep.”
“Why do you keep lying?” Angel asked as he pulled her into his arms.
“I am not!” Willow protested and tried to pull away.

Angel didn’t argue simply bending down and placing his mouth on hers. She remained stiff in his arms for a long moment before melting into him. Her mouth flowered open under his and he drowned in the warmth that only she could provide. His tongue flowed into her mouth, searching out its recesses and drawing her deeper into the kiss. His hand drifted down to her hips and pulled her tighter against him.

They kneeled in the garden, pressed together from knees to shoulders, hands clinging as his mouth left hers and traveled down her neck. Her moan delighted him and he suckled hard on the skin of her neck. Her hands tightened in his hair and Angel delighted in the sensation. Soaking in the touch like a starving man. His mouth moved to claims hers again, and gently laid her on her back on the ground.

His eyes stared into her dazed and molten green eyes and felt as if he was finally home. She smiled up at him and pressed a hand to his cheek, he turned his mouth into it.

“I love you Angel,” Willow whispered.

Angel came back slowly, caught halfway between the past and the present. Warm arms were wrapped around his neck, a body flush against his and a voice whispering in his ear. Unlike the first time, Angel found himself responding, answering Willow’s statement.

“I love you,” Angel whispered to the woman in his arms. His dark eyes still closed as his mouth found hers. He lost himself in the kiss but something was wrong. The taste, the warmth and the way his body was reacting began to make him wonder. Angel pulled away from the woman, his dark eyes opening.

And across the garden he met the startled green eyes of his love. Angel’s eyes widened in apprehension and he looked down at the woman he held in his arms. Buffy’s blue eyes were gazing up at him lovingly, tears dripping down her cheeks and her arms wrapped firmly around him.

“I knew you loved me,” Buffy cried and pressed her face to his chest. “Why did you make me wait so long?”
“Buffy I…” Angel started, trying to pull away from her clutching hands. He looked across the garden and met the gazes of the rest of the gang and read the condemnation for him in them. But Demi’s gaze was the hardest to meet, the dark green eyes so much like the woman he loved.
“Don’t lie to me anymore Angel,” Buffy told him and looked up at him. “We can be together finally. And put Willow into the past where she belongs.”
“No Buffy,” Angel told her firmly and set her away from him. He watched as the rest of the gang left them alone, their murmurs slowly fading away. “You don’t understand.” Angel stared down at the woman that he had once loved, the blue eyes that were slowly filling with nerves. “You caught me unaware and remembering the past.”
“Our past of course,” Buffy told him. “I know that you never told Willow you loved her.” A smirk twisted her lips and her hand reached out to brush down Angel’s chest. “So it had to be me.”
“It wasn’t,” Angel told her bluntly. His voice was cold, hard and his eyes were black with anger. “I was remembering Willow and the time that I should have said I love you. You didn’t even enter my thoughts.” He shrugged and looked away from Buffy. “I thought you were Willow. No more.” He looked back at the woman, ignoring the crushed look on her face.

Angel turned and left the garden, not heeding her pleas to stop. Now he wondered how he was going to convince the rest of the gang that what they saw was not what had happened. As he entered the lobby and everyone turned to glare at him, Angel decided it was going to take some doing.

Demi shrugged off the feeling of uneasiness that had been dogging her since she had gotten up. A restless was slowly growing in her and the itch beneath her skin gain intensity with every moment spent on this continent. A hand took hers and squeezed, Demi looked into the loving eyes of Katrina and felt everything snap into place. She smiled at Kat and squeezed her hand.

“Are you okay?” Kat whispered.
“I’m good,” Demi replied. “It’s nice to finally have the truth out though.”
‘You mean about Angel and Buffy,” Kat guessed.
“Yes. It was getting annoying listening to the lies the Betrayers kept telling,” Demi told her.
“I just have one question,” Kat mused.
“Why do they look like they’ve just caught their spouse in bed with another?”

Demi looked around and realized that everyone was wearing a strange expression. It was almost like they had been suckered punched. A frown crossed her face as she wondered what this meant. She looked over at Kat and received a shrug in response.

“I knew we should have killed him years ago,” Conner suddenly muttered.
“Conn,” Xander cautioned and placed a restraining hand on his shoulder.
“No!” Conner shrugged off Xander’s hand and glared at Angel when he entered the room. “The moment this is done, I’m going to kill him. Perhaps mom will rest easy then.”
“Conner,” Angel started and reached for him. “I swear that it wasn’t what you thought.”
“I don’t want to hear it!” Conner screamed at him. “I am tired of all the damn lies!”
“Conner, please,” Angel begged. His dark eyes haunted as he met Conner’s. “I would never betray your mom like that.”
“But you already did,” Demi said softly. Her green eyes steady when Angels’ tormented ones met hers.
“That is what started this mess. I mean you made out with Buffy in front of the Savior right?”
“I was confused,” Angel told her desperately. He ran a hand through his hair as his eyes met each of theirs. “I was so worried about not telling Willow that I loved her that I believed that she would leave me for someone who could.” Angel looked over at Spike, “I always knew that Willow and Spike had a special relationship.”
“Red and I were friends,” Spike told him. “I admit that I fudged the truth all those years ago. I admit that I let you think what you wanted because I was tired of all the girls going for you.”
“Then it makes it your fault!” Angel yelled at him.
“No, it makes it yours,” Demi interrupted softly. Angel jerked as if he had been hit and stared into her emerald green gaze. “You should have believed and trusted the Savior. How many times had she ever betrayed you?”
“Never,” Angel whispered, eyes averted and staring at the floor.
“How many times had you ever caught her in a malicious lie?” Demi pressed again.
“And how many times had the slayer lied or betrayed you?”
“Too many times,” Angel sighed. His shoulders slumped as he turned away from them. “So, it is my fault.”
“Yours and Buffy’s,” Demi agreed. “If you want to fuck the slayer, that’s your business. But don’t let it confuse you as to what is important here.”
“Willow,” Angel breathed. His dark eyes lifting to meet the eyes so similar to his lover as she stared at him.
“Willow,” Demi repeated and then turned to look at everyone. “The savior is what is important here. Not who is to blame. Not the petty bickering. Willow Rosenberg.” She met each of their eyes, “if you have a problem with that, then you need to leave. You are more of a hindrance than a help.”
“We understand,” Giles nodded. “We’ll concentrate on what we need to do.”
“Good,” Demi stated firmly and reached for the papers on the table. “I am not going to let your stupidity get my slayer or I killed. That is unacceptable.” Her green eyes were cold and unyielding as she continued, “if that happens I will make sure that all of you will pay.”
“Dem,” Kat cautioned as she wrapped her arms around her best friend. Demi’s frame was tense against Kat’s even as she tilted her head back onto Kat’s shoulder. “Calm down, luv. It’ll be okay.”
“It had better. Or they will suffer,” Demi told her firmly. Her green eyes lasered around the room one last time before concentrating on the papers in her hand. “I think I found out what spell is going to be used.”
“Really?” Wesley asked with a raised brow. “We didn’t find anything that could bring Willow back.”
“That’s because you didn’t know the nature of the spells that the Savior was using,” Demi responded absently. Her hands were running up and Kat’s arm as she spoke.
“What’s that mean then?” Kat asked as she peered over Demi’s shoulder.
“That I know when and where they have to strike,” Demi told her with a smile. She looked over her shoulder at her best friend, “and I know what they need.”
“Which means that we can stop them,” Giles inserted.
”Wait,” Conner suddenly interrupted. Everyone looked over at the young man. His dark eyes were serious and slightly confused before he continued, “are you sure that we should stop them?”
“What?!” Everyone exclaimed at once except for Demi and Kat. He held up his hand, leaning forward slightly. “I mean shouldn’t we let them get mom back?”
”It’s a good thought,” Demi admitted. “I know that you want your mom back but at what cost?” She leaned over and touched his arm, smiling at him gently. “I understand completely. I know what lengths I would go to get Kat back, but are you prepared to take that risk?”
“What do you mean?” Conner asked, looking at the woman who looked so much like his mom. The wisdom and gentle warmth that had always been in Willow’s gaze apparent in Demi’s.
“I mean that it’s possible that the Savior has been consumed by the darkness already. You must remember that the hellmouths reside in her, which means that every evil thing is born from her.”
“Mom wasn’t like that,” Conner protested. “She would never let that happen.”
“Consciously maybe,” Demi agreed. “But what if she’s been sleeping or unaware what is inside her. You must remember if she is awakened then all the anger, pain and fear that she felt when she did the spell will be the first thing she remembers. With all the hellmouths residing in her, it’s possible that she may strike out.”
“I see,” Conner’s head bowed and he rubbed a weary hand across his face. “I just wanted her back you know?” He raised damp eyes to Demi, a smile trembling on his lips. “If only if it was just to say goodbye.”
“I know,” Demi consoled. Her hand rubbed his cheek, “but I’m sure that your mom knows already.”
“Yeah,” Conner whispered and looked down again. “So when do we strike?” He asked finally, head lifting to meet her eyes.
“In two days,” Demi told him. “They have to do it on the anniversary of her death and when the moon is full. I did some checking and the next one won’t be for another hundred years.”
“That long?” Giles asked, reaching for her papers.
“Yes,” Demi nodded and handed the papers to Giles. “There are a bunch of factors that have to be in place for the spell to work. The conditions only happen once every hundred years.”
“Then we need to get ready,” Gunn told them and stood up.
“It’s time to pay for our mistakes,” Xander told them grimly. “God help us all.”


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