A Halloween Carol...Part I...

Summary-Buffy in Scrooge mode, her demon Anne with a supporting role...

My wife's intriguing idea for an Anneverse tale...Which I couldn't resist trying out...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Anneverse.html

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Play Main Theme...

Hank Summers was dead...To begin with...

You hafta believe ole Hank was dead...Or there's not much sense to the story I'm about to relate...

New Sunnydale, California...

October 30, 2025...

A hard-faced, angry...Clearly once beautiful, but her beauty now worn away by the hard angles of a cold and brutal world...Buffy Summers...Acclaimed Slayer of Slayers, Greatest of All Time, emerged from a gate...A quick wave of an impatient hand to the area patrol cop who nodded to her as she stalked by...

Moron...she shook her head...Damn fools still think they can do any good, insist on "doing their job" on my watch...But he'll scream for my help soon enough when something crawls up out of the night for him...

Oh...What a self-righteous, close-hearted, icy defender of Humanity was Buffy...A narrow-souled, arrogant super-heroine, she...

She strode along...Night was falling...She cast a fiery glare at the few who dared or were forced of necessity to come out against Buffy, Senior Vampire Slayer (for the greater LA area)...And as she, with secret pleasure and as some courageous few sneeringly, called herself... "the Law"'s edict banning human night activities on pain of losing the privilege of her protection...

"You..." she called to a young woman hurrying along... "Come over here!..."

"What the hell are you doing out here now?...You a wiccan?...Half-demon?..." she eyed the girl...Hand on stake in pocket...

"I...I'm a nurse...I'm working part of the night shift at New Sunnydale General...They called me in for an emergency..."

"They're supposed to clear things like that with me!...Who called you?!..." she released the stake and whipped out a small notebook-sized device...Punching some keys...An image appeared...

The face of her latest Watcher...Young Wesley Wyndham-Price, Jr....Or as she preferred to call him... "That idiot nancy-boy..."

"Ms. Summers?..." he stared at her angry face...

"Were you monitoring?!...I want this checked out!...Immediately!..." she whirled back on the frightened girl... "The name?!!..."

"...It was an emer..." A furious Buffy waved a hand... "Name!..."

"Dr. Walthrop..." the nurse gasped... "Our chief resident in LA...He's coming out tonight...An emerg..."

DAMN!!...Buffy stamped an angry foot... "I mighta known!...Damn that fool!...When's he gonna learn to play by the rules!!..." She glared at the girl...

"All right!...Get out of here!..But no protection!...If you're still on the street when that sun falls...!" she pointed to the setting sun...The girl looking as well, now terror-struck...



"Ms. Summers!..." young Wes' voice, shocked...

"Get moving!...And tell 'Dr.' Walthrop...Next time he pulls something like this I may go hunting human-souled vamp interlopers from LA!..."

Git!...she hollered...The girl racing from her...More terrified of the slight, middle-aged blonde Slayer than any demon or monster from Hell...

***

"Ms. Summers..." young Wes' voice returned...

"Well?!..." she frowned at his image...Watching the few humans scurrying hastily along as the sun continued its sinking...

"Council dictates..." he began...

"F-the f-ing Council and their f-ing 'dictates'!..." she cried...Nearly slamming her video phone to the ground...

"It's time people got the crap outta their ears and heard what I tell them!...No protection for idiots who get in my way after nightfall...!"

"Some people have to work at night, Ms. Sum..."

"Screw 'em then, damn losers!...Let 'em take their chances!..."

He sighed...Aw...she sneered at his image... "You don't like things put so harsh, little Wes...?"

"Well...I guess you're right...Why I should just throw my life away...Again...For every moron who wants to make my job harder...Tell you, what...Watcher-boy..."

Lets trade jobs...Since you're soooo...concerned about these scum bags who gotta come out at night...

"Hows 'bout it, nancy-boy?...You got the balls...?" she chuckled...

"I did the check you requested on the matter with Dr. Walthrop..." he ignored her...

I didn't think so...she smiled...

"He didn't file a request with us...But there is an emergency surgery scheduled for tonight..."

"And he's coming...?...Spike?..." she eyed young Wes...A flicker of interest...

It is apparently a very difficult case...the young Watcher noted...

"Dear ole bro-in-law..." she frowned... "Bad poet, worse doctor...I pity the poor sob he's gonna cut up..."

What time?...She asked, trying now to conceal a clear edge of anxiety...

"The surgery is set for 11pm...I would imagine he'll be driving in about 10 or so..."

Lovely...she frowned...

"Well, he'd better have his car marked and keep outta my way...Or they'd better have a back-up surgeon..."

"It's likely to be quiet tonight, ma'am..." young Wes noted...Night before Halloween...

"That the result of your 'years of experience', Wes...?" Buffy eyed him...



In Giles' day...she began...Oh, Lord...he sighed, back in his research office...

***

9:50 pm...

Except for a minor tussle with two newly-risen young punks, the night was going rather quietly...Though with the usual stress for poor young Mr. Wyndham-Price, Jr...

But then, Father'd warned him...As had every member of the Council he'd encountered when he'd put in for this assignment, including dear old retired Chairman Giles...Even his beloved second mother, Mrs. Giles...Willow Giles...Had hinted, much as she'd wanted "family" as she liked to call it, about poor sad ole Buf...That this would be a rough pull...

All but for Willow had urged him not to accept the thankless job of supporting the greatest...And most embittered, most arrogant, even, many would have said, most merciless and unfeeling of the Slayers...

But...Young Wes was determined to erase the blot, however unjust, set against the family name...That secret smile when Chairman Wyndham-Price's name came up...The renegade who'd been allowed back to the New Council only on order of Chairman Giles...The...A word used only in the quiet recesses of the Council, but which nonetheless reached the ears of the Chairman...And his namesake...Profiteer...Who, in consort with the "protector for hire", Angel, had happily sold his services to those who could afford it...

No amount of strenuous effort by both former Chairman Giles and the current Chairman to disspell the allegations, now mostly whispered...No amount of fist-fights by young Wes with his Observer candidate mates could wipe those smiles, silence the whispers...And so Wes, Jr. was determined to do whatever it took, whatever the sacrifice...To clear his father and himself of that false blot...

Even if it meant enduring Buffy Summers...

"Hey, nancy-boy!..." she suddenly startled him out of his reverie...Her glaring face filling his video screen at his research office in downtown New Sunnydale... "You taking a few zzzs while I risk my ass, jackass?!..."

"I'm right here, Ms. Summers..." young Wes sighed... "What do you require...?"

"It's ten...Where's 'Dr.' Spikenstein...?" she frowned at him...

"Are you headed for New Sunnydale General..?" he asked, surprised... "It's not on your patrol route for..."

"Listen, nancy-boy...I go where the hell I choose, when the hell I choose..." she sneered... "Get that straight...Or if you can't, get out and back to faggot-land..."

Hmmn...The pleasant image dear ole Willow had once created for him...Buffy getting her ass as throughly kicked as she'd needed it, briefly filled his mind...Still...The Greatest Slayer of All Time and his special charge...And burden...Deserved his respect at all times, he reminded himself...

"So...?" she eyed his face...

Even when she acted like the Greatest...A thought suddenly struck him...Seven years...

It had been seven years...

And now he was coming...Unaged a single day, but for the phony dye in his hair...And she was seven years older...

"I can't be sure when Dr..." he began...

"There he is..." she cut him off...A sudden catch in her voice...



He just passed...she said...No emotion in her words...

"Well, back to work...You awake in that comfy chair, Wes?..." she called into the phone...

"Think I'll make a scout round the hospital and then head downtown..." she told him...

***

A half-hour later, having hung round the hospital grounds as long as she could stretch it out, she started for downtown...When, suddenly...

"Aunt Buffy!..." a call...Which young Wes heard over her laconic report on the absence of activity in the area...

Jesus...he heard her whisper faintly...

"Aunt Buffy!!..." Louder now...He watched the screen, hoping for a chance to...

The screen went blank...Naturally an utter violation of strict protocol...He sighed and noted it in the computer log...Putting in the usual request for an immediate Observer surveillance to see that dear Buffy had simply pulled her usual rather than, regrettably, not all would say...Finally met her match...

***

"Aunt Buffy..." the young teen came up... "I knew you'd be here..."

Buffy stared at her...A red-haired Dawn...

"Joyce..." she nodded...And frowned... "What the hell is your father doing?...Letting you wander around here..."

He knew you'd be here too...she smiled at her aunt...Moving to embrace her...

Buffy stiffly accepting, no move to return...Joyce let go...

"Dad had to come tonight...An emergency..."

Yeah...Buffy nodded curtly...I heard...

"Who's he cutting up tonight...? Must be some bigwig to get 'Dr.' Walthrop in from LA..."

"Just a tough case...I think he's a plumber...With four or five kids...I'm not sure..." the girl shook her head...

Saint William...Buffy gave a gruff look... "So he's still trying to earn his ticket, eh?..."

"Just doing his job, Auntie...Like you...Dad's in no need of bonus points..." Joyce frowning now...But smiled again...Determined on this one...

"Why don't you come in...? We can watch Dad at work...And...He'd love to see you..."

"Patrol...Lives on the line..." Buffy noted... "In fact I should be making tracks...And you oughta be inside..."

"Tomorrow's Halloween..." Joyce eyed her...Dawn in every move, Buffy thought...Her face hardening...

Dawn...

"We're gonna be staying in town...Why don't you come to dinner?..." she smiled...

I have things to do...Buffy shook her head...Dawn...she thought...My sis...



My sis who never really was...And who...

"Aunt Buffy...We haven't seen you in seven years...You never come for anything...Can't you just this once..." Joyce stared at her aunt's impassive face...A harshness settling in...

I have things to do...Buffy repeated coldly...And turned...

"Give my best to your...Step-dad..." she moved off as Joyce watched her, some anger forming in her face now, for a moment...And sighing, turned back to the hospital...

***

A Halloween Carol...Part II...

Summary-Buffy in Scrooge mode, her demon Anne with a supporting role...

My wife's intriguing idea for an Anneverse tale...Which I couldn't resist trying out...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Anneverse.html

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Part II...

New Sunnydale, 12am...

"Still with me, nancy-boy?" Buffy glared into her video phone as she toured downtown Sunnydale...

Just a couple more hours and you can get back to sleeping...If you ever left off...she sneered...

"And hey...Tomorrow's your chance to sleep round the clock...As usual..."

"I suppose you'll want the whole day and night off..." she glared at Wes, Jr's face on her screen...Well, he paused... "It is Halloween, ma'am...And..."

Great excuse for abandoning the fight every year...she sneered...

Wes Jr. pointed out that the other Slayers were taking the day...

"Lazy bimbos..." she waved a fierce hand... "No wonder every year we have a dozen or so turn evil..."

No doubt the poor quality of the current Watcher corps no small part of the reason, she eyed him...

In your predecessor's day...she began...As he rolled his eyes...Not another tale about ole Giles...

Old Giles...Who in the end couldn't wait to retire and escape from the thing he'd...To his final sorrow...Unwittingly helped to create...

"Well...I'll be out here..." she noted... "And you better have those reports ready for me on the new cemetery at Hallwell by November 1...Sunset..."

"Yes, Ms. Summers..."

And have a nice day off with the lucky guy...she sneered...

***

Patrol over, she released poor Wes for the day and headed back for her apartment...A rather spartan place, though in a well-to-do, gated community...Giles having done what he could to provide a decent support to her above what she earned in her part-time day job as assistant curator of the New Sunnydale Art Museum...Intensely disliked assistant curator it need not be said...Her bitter, aggrieved presence tolerated only for the large endowment the Council had offered to establish the Museum in her mother's name...

Christ...she sighed...Looking at the man on the pavement in front of her...

"Buffy..." A middle-aged Xander smiled at her...

"Xander..." she eyed him... "You're looking a little fat these days..."

"Yeah..." he sighed... "My wife says the same thing...But fortunately she hasn't figured out how my girls slip me my Doublemeat specials...Yet..."

"So..." she eyed him...Not this again...

"Same old, same old, Buf..." he looked at her kindly...Oh, Buf...he sighed inside...How could we've let this happen to you?...

"I'm still not interested, Xander...Forget it..." she shook her head...

"Buf...William...Angel...Even poor ole..."

"I said I wasn't gonna sign!...I meant it!!..." she shouted...

He glared now even as she calmed a little...Sorry...

"There are ways to help them, Buffy...Better ways than Slaying...We know that now..."

"I'm the Slayer...I kill vampires and demons...End of story..." she shook her head...

"The Council is divided on this, Buffy...If you added your voice to this petition..." Xander began...

"No!...And damn you, you little soft...!" she raged... "If you come round here again with this..."

"Buffy!...You loved two vampires...One even without his soul...How can..."

"Get out of here, Xander...I've told you I don't want to hear this crap!...You wanta go asskiss vamps and demons, go right ahead..." she pointed out to the street... "You'll find plenty waitin' for you..."

"I've been out there...And I will be again...We've managed two restorations in the past four months..." he eyed her... "And if we can ever get the damned Council to listen to us..."

She put up a hand...

"Giles is with us...So is Willow..." he continued... "And seven Slayers..."

"Screw Giles, screw Willow, screw your seven Slayers...And screw you...I'm not interested in saving vamps...!"

"You saved two...Souls...And I think you thought, once anyway...It was worth it..."

She waved an angry fist...

"They're better off dead!...Their souls are better off in Heaven or Hell or wherever they go...Enough of this, I'm going to bed...Don't push me on this anymore, Xander..." she glared...And shoving her gate open, moved quickly through, slamming it behind her...



He shook his head...A wry grin coming over his face...She's still got the moves, no question there...

And headed his weary way home...

***

She entered the apartment, slamming the door behind her...The whole place shaking...

"DAMN HIM!..."she shouted into the empty room...

"Saint Xander...Well...Let some Angelic vamp eat his face one of these nights and he'll..."

"Hey, sweetie..." a voice called from her favorite chair...

"Dad?..." she eyed Hank...Who grinned up at her...Hey, kiddo...

"Jesus?!... Dad?!...What the hell are you doing in my house!?...Who the hell do you think you are, just waltzing back..." she halted, staring...As he stood up, legs running through the chair on which he'd been sitting, onto the floor...

Oh...So...That letter from his lawyer ten years ago really was true...

"Ghost?..." she eyed him...He nodded...

Well...She brushed a stray hair back and frowned at him... "Get out, anyway!...You!...What right do you have...Coming back here, now..."

"You need my help, hon...And God knows I owe you big time, sweetie..." he smiled...

***

A Halloween Carol...Part III...

Summary-Buffy in Scrooge mode, her demon Anne with a supporting role...

My wife's intriguing idea for an Anneverse tale...Which I couldn't resist trying out...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Anneverse.html

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Part III...

Buffy's apartment, New Sunnydale, about 2am October 31, 2025...

The unwelcome guest standing in her favorite chair continued to smile at the glaring Buffy...

"Dad?!...I'm telling ya to get out...And don't come back!..."

"Go!!...Avaunt or whatever Willow or Giles say...!"

He continued to smile, shaking his head a little...Buf...

"All right, fine..." she sighed...Heading for her kitchen counter and pulling out a plate from the cabinet above... "But it's late and I'm hungry, so if you don't mind, I'm gonna nuke my leftover lasagna and you can come to the point while I chow..."...Opening the fridge...



"You shouldn't eat so late at night, kiddo..." Hank sighed... "Though I'm glad to see you didn't take up smoking to keep your weight down, after all..."

"Is that supposed to be a crack about my figure?..." she sourly replied...Punching microwave buttons...

"You were considering it...Five years ago..." he eyed her...She glared...

"Just showing you I've been around...Paying attention..."

"Goddamn about time, papa..." she frowned, pouring a glass of milk...

"Buffy...Look at yourself, honey...Is this the kind of life you wanted to..." he began...

"Since when did you care...?...And no, but God and the Powers That Be seemed to have settled it for me...I'm the Slayer, remember..." she carried her glass and plate over to her chair...Eyeing him as she stood by it...Do ya mind?...He walked out of the chair and she sat...

"A slayer..." he noted... "One of thousands...Though the best..." he smiled...

"Wish I'd known back then...It would..." he started...

"It wouldn't have made a bee's crap worth of difference to you...Are you saying you left Mom and me causa me being..."

"Does it matter to you why I left...?" he retorted...

Not really...she glared...

"But we were a little miffed when you never paid the slightest attention when Mom died...When I wrote you over and over..."

"When you died..." he nodded... "And you lost William...And Dawn..."

"I made out ok...And as for Dawn...She never existed...And I never..." Well...she paused...

"He wasn't mine to begin with..."

"She had a daughter who exists...And he was yours more than you can imagine..." Hank put a hand up as she started to reply...

"But as far as I'm concerned...You're absolutely right, I was a schmuck of a dad in those last years...Things went crazy for me and I went under...To a point where I couldn't bear to face you or Dawn...(Yeah, I do have memories of her available, he smiled)..."

But that's not to make excuses...I let you down and so...I've been forced to watch you all these years, unable to help or even try...

"Until now...When, thanks to ..."

Joyce popped in from the closet...Stepping through the closet door...

"Honey..." Hank sighed a little...

"Sorry, couldn't wait...Things didn't seem to be going so very well..."

Jesus...Mom?...Buffy stared...And eyed the two, Joyce coming to stand by Hank...

Oh this gotta be a dream?...Or some enemy trying to drive me batty...she thought...

"You took him back?..."



Joyce smiled, a bit sheepish...Well...

"Things are different in the afterlife, honey..."

See...He had a chance to make a choice...And, when push came to shove...

"And you let him...?" Buffy stared...

Hey...Joyce frowned...My decision, sweetheart...

"Besides, Buffy...He chose me...Eternally...And..." she smiled at him... "Rather exclusively...But ...While I was willing to let him back into my...Existence..."

I didn't exactly say no to other options...she grinned...

"You'll understand someday...It works differently here...But I'm content...And he says he's happy..."

She frowned as Buffy glared...

"Eleanor Roosevelt took Franklin back on the same terms...Don't get that way with me, Buffy Anne..."

Especially when your father and I are trying to help you...

"And this is part of his redemption...And penance...A big part, so you better pay attention and let him get on with it..." Joyce now glared her daughter down...

Sorry, honey... she turned to Hank who waited... "Go on..."

"Something went wrong for you, Buf...Somewhere..." he eyed her...

"I was called as the Slayer and my dad ran out on me and my Mom..." she nodded...

"No...Though, it's true I was a part of it..." he nodded back... "But you changed further down the line...And it wasn't simply due to the Slayer..."

"Yeah well, I died a few times...That has an effect..."

"You're not the first person resurrected, kiddo...Even several times..." he grinned...

Well...he waved a hand... "In any case...You've got to find a way back to that loving heart you once had, kiddo...Or you'll be more lost than Angel or William or Drusilla ever were..."

"My heart's just fine...Or would be if you two'd let me get to bed..." she frowned...

"Don't worry...I'm handing things over to your Mom now, sweetie..." Hank replied... "So you can have some quality time...Just one thing, Buffy Anne..."

Whatever I became...Whatever I was that made you hate me...I never stopped loving you, kiddo...And you weren't responsible...he eyed her...

"Gotta go..." he smiled... "But I'll keep an eye out..."

"Gotta go?...What a surprise..." Buffy said drily...

Bye...Daddy...she hastily gasped out as he faded...Watching him to the end...



"Sorry he had to go so soon, Buffy..." Joyce sighed to her... "But he had to pile up a lot of redemption points for even that much time with you..."

"Uh-huh...Well that's that...Guess I'll see you both on my next dying day..." she eyed her mother's form...

"This means a lot to your dad, Buffy...And to me..." Joyce frowned... "Don't make fun of it...Or us..."

"So..." Buffy shrugged, and picked up her plate... "What did you want to tell me?... 'This is how you screwed your life, Buffy'...?"

"Preety much..." Joyce replied curtly... "But first, either finish your dinner or stop talking to me with food in your mouth...It's very unattractive..."

Hmmn... Sure sounds like Mom...she noted... "Ok..." she returned to her plate...Looking up... "You want something?..."

"Some of that coffee would be nice..." Joyce nodded... "Though it's a little late for you to be drinking coffee..."

I just like to feel it and smell it...Plus I can taste it...I just don't drink it...she explained to Buffy's surprised look...

"Less I wanna mess your rug..." she grinned...

Buffy rose and got her a mug which she put on the coffee table by her couch...Joyce sitting and rubbing the cup...Mmmn...Waiting while Buffy ate...

"So..." Joyce smiled...

"You ready?..."

"For...?" Buffy stared at her...

"Lets see what happened to you...And if we can't do something about it..." she stood up...

The apartment vanished...

Buffy still sitting on her chair, looked round... "Better stand up, honey..." Joyce noted as the chair began to fade out...

***

A Halloween Carol...Part IV...

Summary-Buffy in Scrooge mode, her demon Anne with a supporting role...

My wife's intriguing idea for an Anneverse tale...Which I couldn't resist trying out...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Anneverse.html

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Part IV...

***

The edge of the Great Sunnydale Crater...May 2003...



2025 Buffy and ghostly Joyce stood by, watching a young Buffy staring out into the collapsing pit...Dawn and the rest nearby...Excepting Faith and Robin Wood, still back in the bus that had saved them...Desperately trying to make light of the situation...Xander above all...Numbly cracking what feeble jokes came to mind...

"OK..." the middle-aged Buffy glared at the form of her mother...Assuming for the moment it wasn't a recharged First back for more...or some other clown...

"Sunnydale's history...Some of my people are dead...My greatest victory over Evil's won.."

Been there...she began...

"Will's gone..." Joyce eyed her...

"Them's the breaks..." Buffy looked her in the eye... "And he came back..."

" 'Sides...He..." A cry from young Buffy...William!...Dawn and all the others but one raced to her...Xander, still mindlessly cracking jokes...Remained behind...Staring at them as they went to Buffy...

"William!!..." she called again...And looked at her friends...

"I shouldn't have..." she said quietly, looking at Willow, then Dawn...Dawn now looking out over the emptiness as well "I should have..." Buffy started for the lip of the crater...

"No!...Buffy!..." Willow grabbed for her...Pulling her back...

"What were you trying to do, honey?..." Joyce eyed the middle-aged Buffy as she stood staring...

"I shouldn't have left him there...Alone..." older Buffy looked at her a minute... "I should..." she sighed a moment...then smiled faintly...

"I shoulda clubbed him one and dragged him out..."

But...You didn't...Joyce looked at her carefully...

"I was hurt...There wasn't time..." Buffy looked away...As her younger friends, still excepting Xander, pulled her younger self back from the crater...

"There was time...You weren't that hurt..." Joyce said quietly...

"What do you know about it?!..."

"You were afraid...It was easier to leave him...And he wanted to make it easy for you..."

"I didn't!!...He was wrong!...It was true!!..." Buffy cried...Oddly enough the same words her younger self was now crying...To the others as they stood round her...

The middle-aged Slayer shook herself as her ghostly mother watched...Calming...

"Well...It all worked out for the best after all..." she noted... "He found his way back..."

"Xander!...We're leaving!..." A call from young Willow startled her...He staring back...Leaving?...

A sudden howl from young Xander...As he fell to his knees...An!!!...he screamed...No!...

We can't leave her...he looked up at Willow... "We'll find a way..." he stared at the crater...

"We never leave each other..." he murmured...young Buffy staring back again as well...Giles hugging her now...



We always find a way...Right?...he looked at Willow hopefully...Desperately...

Willow...?...There's a way...Right?...he stared at her, pleading...

Willow?...both Buffies stared at her...Pleading in turn...

"Xander...Xander..." Willow hugged him...As he sobbed...

"She's gone...Baby...She's gone..."

Xander...Older Buffy stared, closing her eyes...Seeing old Xander's pleading face...

Pleading for the ones who'd killed...

Xander...Forgive me...

But...You're right...Joyce eyed the older Buffy...Who blinked at her...

"He wasn't gone...For good..."

***

The kitchen of the Summers' new apartment...Crestwood, CA...near the Great Sunnydale Crater...

October 2003...Night...

A weary-looking brown-blonde haired young man stared at a silent, frowning young Buffy...Dawn standing nearby, arms folded, watching...A slight glare...

But the glare was not for the tired William standing before her...

"So..." young Buffy frowned deeper at Will... "You didn't come back to stay..."

"What would be the point?..." he sighed...

Right...she nodded... "I was lying...I never loved you...It was all a bad joke..."

"I never said I didn't believe you wanted to mean it..." he eyed her...

"But...I left...And I wasn't there in LA last week..." Buffy noted...

So how could I have loved you...?...And how could I?...Right?...

"I haven't said I don't think you love me...In your own way..."

Always that attitude...Older Buffy glared...Never willing to accept...

"Charity...?" Joyce eyed her...Her daughter gave her a cold look...

"Then..." young Buffy touched his arm... "Then don't go...Stay here..."

Dawn watching them...

"Don't go away, Will...Not if you believe me..."

"I believe you, Buffy...But..." he shook his head...



"You sent me away!...I was ready to stay!..." she grabbed his arm...

"The Slayer was ready to die with her brave lieutenant..." he smiled wanly...

A generous favor to a gallant...

"Damn you!!..." both Buffies shouted at once...

Buffy...If the roles had been reversed...If it had been you the one trapped...he paused...

"I don't say I would have sacrificed the world for you...But...I would not have..."

Older Buffy trembled a moment...Remembering...As her younger self stared...

It wasn't leaving me there...It wasn't not being in LA or trying to get me back yourself...he stared at her...As she gave him a sour look...Oh really?

"Ok..." he nodded...Those did hurt...he grinned at her a little...

He'll stay...The younger Buffy thought now, confidence returning as she eyed him, leaning back at her against her new kitchen sink...He'll forgive...And stay...He won't...Leave me...

But...It wasn't that...he sighed...

But...Oh, Buffy Anne...

"I loved you...All of me...Even my demon...My id, if you like..." he stared at her...

And all that year...All those years we knew each other...I cried out to you...

"Until, suddenly...At last...You needed me...Even in the form of poor ole Spike..."

I heard you...older Buffy whispered...I heard...From the first day...

"Spike..." he sighed...Shaking his head...

"I know..." young Buffy eyed him... "I believe it, Will...Spike is gone..."

"Spike is me, Buffy..." William smiled at her... "Part of me...Made from me..."

Just as Angelus was Liam's...Whether he fully admits it to himself someday or not...

"And...Whatever he was...Whatever dark part of me he came from...He loved you...So much so...He let me come back for you...Gave it all up for love of you..."

So...That's it...young Buffy stared...Dawn looking at her...

"Will...I didn't love..." she began...

It was you...I felt...

You...Older Buffy finished as Joyce watched her...

"You felt me..." he looked straight at her...

"Yes..." young Buffy stepped towards him...He moved back...



"Felt me?...And left me...Like that?..."

Young Buffy froze...

I couldn't...Older Buffy whispered...To him...

"Will, I couldn't..." she looked at Joyce now...Mom?...I couldn't...

"I couldn't..." young Buffy echoed... "I couldn't..."

"Let me go...? Free me...?" Will sighed...

"I...Last year..." she tried...

"You did...You did try...In the end..." he nodded... "And that's why I had to come..."

And thank you...One last time...

"I owe you Summers...I'm William Walthrop again...Thanks to you..."

But...He stared at her...

No...Older Buffy looked at Joyce...Who simply stared quietly...

"Mom...?...Lets go..." she moved to the ghost...Who shook her head...

Mommy...Please...No...

"When I came back..." Will stared at young Buffy... "When you knew...And believed me...Believed in me..."

I had to...Older Buffy whispered to him...

I had to...I needed...

"If the roles had been reversed, Buffy...If it was you...Trying to find your way back...Mind..." he nodded as she tried to interrupt...

"I might have let you go to save the world...William Walthrop always was a responsible fellow...If a bit romantically idealistic...He cared about the world..."

"But not even to save the world...I wouldn't have ever asked you to let it...The Other...Get a hold on you again..."

Dawn stared at young Buffy...Buffy?...

" 'I need Spike'..." he quoted...

"I needed help..." Buffy said, helplessly...hands twisting... "Just until..."

"You needed Spike...Not me...Not William..." he nodded... "And so..." Dawn closing her eyes...And opening them, a strange, cold look on her face as she eyed her sis...

"I was a good man, Buffy...I can be again, thanks in no small part to you and the other lot..."

And a good man...Deserves to be loved...Fully, totally...Not with qualification...Not if it's convenient...Unless he chooses that for himself...

"Just the same as for a good woman..." he smiled..."I can't settle for less...I won't...William...Deserves better, God knows..."



But...He looked deep in her face... "I am grateful...And I never will forget what you did for me..."

Goodbye, Buffy...he put out a hand...She stared at it...He patted her arm gently and turned to Dawn... "Nibs..."

"I hope...You'll remember me...At our best times...As William, reaching out...Not the other..." he smiled...

"No..." Dawn looked at him...He stared, but patted her in turn and heading for the door, left...

Buffy staring blankly after him...As if seeking for something...

"No...!" Dawn grabbed at her... "Stop him!...Go after him!!...Buffy!!!..." Buffy shook her off...She ran to the door...

"Will!!!..." Dawn screamed... "William!!!!...Don't!!!!!...Don't!!!!..." Buffy pulled at her arm... "Dawn!!...Get..." Dawn twisted away and ran out...

He'd paused, halfway across the lawn, staring back...

"William!!!..." she raced for him...Buffy halted at the door, watching, frozen...

"Nibs..." he shook his head as she came to him...She stopped just in front of him, putting up a hand...

"Dawn!..." Buffy called now...But remained at the door...

"I...I'm sorry...Will..." Dawn told him...He smiled, shaking his head...

"It's not your..." he began...No!...She reached to him...

"Not about her...Me...I'm sorry I left you like that...Last year..." she started to cry...

"I never tried...Even when you came back..."

"You had every right...Every reason to hate me, Nibs..." he patted her...

No...I should have...I should...

"I am Buffy, too...Will..." she eyed him... "Part of her..."

I should have heard you...When you called out to her...You called out to me, too...

"Nibs..."

"Dawn...Call me Dawn...I'm not a..." she paused and wiped her eyes...

"Forgive us, Will...Both of us..."

"Dawn!!..." Buffy had come out now, moving slowly towards them...

"I said there was nothing to forgive, Dawn...I meant it..." he started to pat...

"I want to see you..." she said...Pulling back... "I will see you...I will..."

He stared at her...

Buffy was coming faster now...

"Kiss me..." Dawn eyed him... "Kiss me goodbye..."



He smiled and started to move for her forehead...

"No..." she pulled him to her lips...And kissed, hard...

"We love you...However afraid she is...We love you..." she murmured...

Older Buffy stiffened...A hard, harsh look...Dawn...Joyce sadly eyeing her...

He gently pushed Dawn back...As Buffy came up...

"Goodbye, William..." Dawn pulled back... "I'll...Write..."

Buffy was silent, staring at him...He eyed her...

"Goodbye..." he nodded...And turned...Moving off...

Dawn looked at Buffy...Who watched him...Trembling...

"This is your last chance, Buffy..." Dawn whispered to her...

The last chance I'll give you...

Buffy eyed her quietly...A darkening look...She blinked and looked over to where William had already vanished in the distance...

He'd of come back...Older Buffy whispered...And looked at Joyce...

"He would've come back...In time...One day...He would've...If she hadn't..."

"She gave you a chance, Buffy..." Joyce sighed...As Older Buffy stared at her younger self...Selves...

"And she was you, after all..."

***

A Halloween Carol...Part V...



Summary-Buffy in Scrooge mode, her demon Anne with a supporting role...

My wife's intriguing idea for an Anneverse tale...Which I couldn't resist trying out...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Anneverse.html

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Part V...

2006...Early morning, about two hours before dawn...

LA...An abandoned old warehouse building near a large culvert leading into the bowels of the sewer system...

"Ok..." Angel eyes the group in front of him...2025 Buffy and ghostly Joyce watching... "There's nowhere for her to go now with the exits sealed...It's just a matter of waiting a couple of hours and then we go..."

"She must know we're coming..." Xander speaks up... "And what we're planning..." he pauses...

2006 Buffy seizes the opening she's obviously been waiting for...

"And that's why we should forget this crazy idea and just deal with her for once and all..." A frown taking in several members of the group around her...New Council Chairman Giles, Xander, Angel's 'science geek' Fred, Angel's partner Gunn...A few of Angel's staff...Willow...

But pointedly ignoring Dawn, standing by Angel's map of the LA sewer system...

"Buffy..." Angel shook his head... "You know I agree with your pov...But..."

"But..." she glared...Dawn watching her now, carefully...Willow staring at both sisters, a faint but resigned sorrow in her eyes...Oh, guys...

"Your buddy our dear old Willy would object..."

"So would I..." Dawn quietly noted...Buffy ignoring her...

"Drusilla isn't gonna thank us for bringing her soul back, you know...Whatever William thinks, this is no kindness, doing this..."

"We don't know where it is or what's happened to her soul, Buffy..." Giles pointed out...She gave a slight glare...

"Gee...That's sure not what you Watchers used to say...When I started out, there was no question..." she began...

"It's what we all wanted to believe my dear...That there was no point in trying to rescue the lost souls...That they were safe...And in any case, the option simply didn't exist then..." Giles replied...

"You..." she hesitated... "The Council, I mean...Knew about Angel's curse...And there were others..."

"What little was known was unreliable...And classified...Only the Inner Council and Chairmen knew several souls had been restored...In a handful of cases, scattered over thousands of years..."

Xander cut in... "We should give her her chance to decide Buf...I'm for that at least...Just as An had her chance..."



"I just don't want us to underestimate her...Even with all the high-powered back-up we've mustered for this one..." he looked round the room, smiling faintly at all...

"She's got access to information, Buffy..." Willow now spoke up... "Info that could be vital...If her soul would divulge it..."

"I can make her demon talk...Or you can, Wil...There's no need to..."

"Always so much easier to kill 'em, right sis?..." Dawn interrupted...Buffy stared coldly back at her...

"Shame your stake slipped up on Angel and..."

"If you guys don't want my help on this one..." Buffy cut her off harshly... "Just say so..."

Willow closed her eyes a moment...And reached to Giles with a hand...Turning to him...How did we let this happen...?

"We do..." Angel told her... "But we've agreed to this game plan...I'm not particularly happy about dragging Dru back either...But..." he eyed the others... "Her information on the future could be decisive...And if Will feels she should have a chance to make a choice..."

She gave a hard stare at him...This one's kinda your responsibility, isn't she?...her look saying...But said nothing...Shrugging...Fine...

"But if she gives us any trouble...I'll do whatever I have to..."

"That's as we've agreed..." Giles nodded... "But we make the effort..."

She moved back, still frowning, to Willow as Xander tried to resume his original line of thought... "Anyway...What I meant to say was..."

"Where is Blondie, anyway...?" she whispered to the wiccan...

"School...I think...That's what Dawn said..."

"If we're going to do this without harming her..." Xander continued... "I think we should take her by surprise...Not send in the big guns in one rush...Just someone...Who she won't fear...Who can get in range without her panicking and turning suicidal..."

"World's oldest undergraduate...And then some..." Buffy hissed, grinning a bit...

"Buffy...?..." Willow sought an opening... "Why don't you talk to her?...And..."

"I think I could do it..." Xander eyed Angel...The others, including the Buffy who turned to ice at Willow's request...Staring...

"She wouldn't be likely to be afraid of me...Just a little human with a little protective spell...And if Wil can block her from staring me into her little lap dog...I could get close enough without..."

"Xander...She'd kill you..." Giles shook his head...

"Not right away...And by the time she'd realize..."

God...Buffy shook her head...First St. William and his crazy mania to "free" his poor ole vamp "Mum"... Now St. Xander wants to join Anya via martyrdom...

Everyone trying to prove...Show me up... 'Heartless Buffy the Slayer with no time for compassion'...For...She glanced hastily at Dawn...Love...

"Xander..." Willow sighed... "Dru won't appreciate the power of Love the way I did...Believe me..."



"I think I can do it...She'll be curious when she finds me coming in alone...Practically defenseless...She'll want to know why...At least for a few minutes, she'll hesitate..."

And she might appreciate a little caring more than you know...he smiled...

"After all, it's why she chose our Will all those years ago..."

"Yes..." Dawn spoke up, now staring at Buffy who looked away... "That's why..."

I think...she paused...I think Xander's idea isn't bad...

"Dru is desperate...She'll see he can't hurt her and she'll want to know why he's come like that and what he knows..."

And she'll see she's dealing with someone as compassionate and loving as Will was then...Dawn smiled at Xander... "She'll want him...And will take her time..."

"So...You want to stick Xander out like a piece of meat in a trap...?" Buffy glared... "And Xander is dumb enough to volunteer his precious ass...?"

"It's my precious ass, Summers..." Xander grinned... "And if it gives us the extra time we need to pull this off..."

Besides...he waved a hand...You guys won't be all that far off...Just out of her eye- and ear-shot, if Wil can cover any sensations...Willow nodded...Think so...

"Xander?...Anya..." Buffy began...

"Would laugh...Is laughing, probably...Her head off... at me..." he smiled... "But I want to do this...I want to give one of them a chance..."

I wasn't much help with Angel or William...I didn't understand what was up then...he sighed...

"And of course...I thought I had my girl...Later my sis..." he grinned at Buffy... "To keep from making a mucho bad romantic choice..."

Like all big brothers...I ran in trying to run off the guy messing with my sis...

"But I see now...I should've tried to help...I could've helped..."

This is a chance for me to make a difference...he looked at Giles, then Angel... "To prove there's a better way...At least...Sometimes..."

"And if we 'save' our fair freaked-out nun?...What then...?" Buffy regarded him with a sour grin... "Do we bring her up to date on her interesting career since her untimely demise?...Or dump her in a looney ward somewhere...?"

"We ask her what she wants...When she's able to comprehend things..." Giles noted...

"And we help her...Whatever way we can..." Xander added...

"Lovely..." Buffy nodded... "Lets hope she thanks us properly for bringing her back..."

"If you don't like this idea, Buffy..." Dawn stared...

"William asked me to help...I came..." Buffy glared back...

He asked me...I came...2025 Buffy repeated to Joyce...I came...For him...

Too late...Joyce noted...An icy look coming into older Buffy's eyes...



"And he's damned grateful..." William's voice came to them...As he walked over from the door...

"And thanks all of you lot for agreeing to this..." he smiled at the group...

"Angel...Nice to see you could tear yourself away from business long enough..." he gave a sardonic grin...As both Dawn and Buffy moved toward him...

"Spike..." Angel nodded curtly...Guys...Willow sighed...Dawn eyeing Buffy as she took William's arm...Buffy's stare...Daggers...For just a second, then simply cold...

"Sorry...I am glad you came, Liam..." William nodded... "She will appreciate it..."

"Buffy, thanks..." he reached out a hand which she took...But held rather than shook...As Dawn stared back...Anger, but sadness in her stare...

I gave you a chance...her look said...Buffy turned to William...Letting his hand go, reluctantly...

"No problem...Well..." she paused... "School, huh?...How you finding it?..."

"After 126 years?...I'm a little rusty in my study habits..."

"He's doing great..." Dawn beamed...

You oughta know...Buffy nodded coldly...

"Dawn's been putting up with my panic attacks...Chaining me to my desk..." he grinned at her...

She's determined to get me to finally finish something I've started...

"Great..." a curt reply...Willow came over after a look exchanged with Giles...Xander, Giles, Fred, and Gunn over to Angel...

"Hey, Blondie..." she hugged him... "How's my would-be sire...?"

"Always in the market, Red..." he kissed her... "And thanks...Honestly..."

Just be nice to the Brooding One...she grinned, whispering...He is trying to help...

Albeit a bit late...she winked at Dawn...

"So...Pre-med and English Lit...Formidab..." she teased...

And our Dawnie...Pre-law...she chuckled...

"Yeah...Hard to believe..." Buffy nodded...A hard, dry tone in her joking... "I expected her in court someday but not this way..."

"Lucky for me to have my Dawn a lawyer...With my propensity for trouble, it's a perfect match..." William smiled...

Perfect...Buffy nodded...A hooded look in her eyes...

"So...When's the happy day..." she began...Willow staring at her...The first time she'd ever mentioned it since the day...When Dawn called from college...Her relationship with Will an open secret, but unspoken...

The day when Buffy removed and destroyed everything Dawn had left behind in their apartment...Not in a rage, but with a quiet coldness that had terrified Willow a thousand times more...Erasing the sister who'd never existed from her life...

Cutting out that part of her that had finally reached out...



The one opponent she could not defeat, in the battle she'd lost by default...A defeat she could not bear...And, Willow realized...Would never concede...

"Buffy...Guys?" Angel called...

"Duty...And Operation Dru...Call..." Buffy noted...

***

A Halloween Carol...Part VI...

Summary-Buffy in Scrooge mode, her demon Anne with a supporting role...

My wife's intriguing idea for an Anneverse tale...Which I couldn't resist trying out...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Anneverse.html

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, MutantEnemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Part VI...

LA...A culvert opening into the main sewer system...

2006...Just before dawn...

The combined AI/Old Sunnydalers team grouped by the entrance to what thermal sensors and Willow's tracking spell indicated was the sewer tunnel leading into the area Dru had chosen for her lair...

"We're masked as much as I can manage..." Willow told them... "But with her clairvoyance she knows we're coming and she's sure to sense us when we're within a few hundred feet..."

Xander?...she turned to him...He smiling gently at her, ready... "You sure about this?..." she looked at him...My sweet Alexander... "Yeah..."he nodded...

"I am sorry about that crack, Angel..." William noted quietly to his fellow human-souled vampire and occasional, part-time, co-fighter of Evil, now standing by him, Dawn, and Buffy... "I was a little put out when you turned us down before, that's all..."

"I know I owe Dru..." Angel replied... "But I didn't like this idea...And I still don't...Plus we're gambling Willow in this...The kind of power involved could destroy her...Especially if your favorite African demon god takes offense at her using his methods..."

"You didn't object..." Buffy began...Then stopped...

"When she used it to free me from Angelus for good?...No, and as it's her choice I won't stop Willow here...But I had a choice and good reasons for staying here...Whereas Dru..."

"If she wants it, we'll stake her immediately...But she has the right to have her chance at a life...The same chance we've been given..." William noted...

"Ok..." Willow smiled at Xander... "You're no longer susceptible...At least for a while...To our Dark Lady's magnetic personality..."

So, I'm like what?...Gay, now?...he grinned...Flaming, she noted, chuckling... "Meaning we miss our chance again..." she sighed, with a grin...He giving a wry look...I love you, too, kiddo...His eyes saying...



"Eh, Giles would have me quietly killed in that case anyway..." he smiled at the new Chairman...Who gave a noncommittal look... "Not at all, Xander...Willow would never forgive me...I'd just have you drafted onto the Council and exiled to the Aleutians as our Observer to the Inuit priests..."

"That's my Rupie..." Willow beamed... 'Rupie'?...Xander blinked...

"And then what?...We go trying this with every vamp we meet...?" Buffy stared at William...

"If we could, I would..." he replied... "At least determine the soul is safe somewhere...And not in torment...And in Dru's case, if my dreams and Willow's seance were right..."

"That's why I changed my mind..."Angel nodded... "If she's in torment...It's a different story..."

"One way or another we're bringing her peace at last..." Dawn noted... "And that makes it worthwhile..."

"We'll see if we all agree after Xander and Willow are dead..." Buffy snapped at her... "What's that crack supposed to mean, anyway...?"

"This isn't about you, Slayer..." Dawn replied coldly... "The whole world doesn't revolve around your actions anymore...I'm just saying that this is worth..."

Buffy stalked off...Willow with Giles in arm sighed at Xander who shook his head...And with a quick look to Giles, she went over after the fuming Slayer...A slight hard stare at Dawn...Not helping, girl...

"What are we gonna do, Giles?..." Xander eyed him... The Chairman shrugged slightly... "Buffy and Dawn must work this out for themselves, Xander...All we can do is try to bring them together..." he said quietly...

"And you do understand?...The name 'Rupie' is never to be made known to the outside world...On pain of termination..." he smiled...

"Just keep my Willow happy and it dies with me..." Xander grinned...

Buffy...Willow stood with her...The Slayer put up a hand...Not now, Wil...

"She can't resist running me down...In front of...Everybody..." she looked at the tunnel wall, grim...

"Buf...She wasn't...At first anyway..."

"Leave it, Willow..." Buffy put up a hand...

I wasn't to blame...I accepted it...2025 Buffy turned to Joyce, beside her as they stood near Buffy and Willow...Joyce looking over to Dawn...Who was frowning at William as he spoke to her...

Like daughter, like mystic clone daughter...ghostly Joyce sighed to herself...

William came over... "Harris is ready to go but needs you to chip the ice blocks off his feet, Red...The only sensible part of his whole damned body..." he gave a wry thumb-hitch towards Xander and Giles...She gave him a mock frown, nodded and went over...Giving Will a careful, slightly pleading glance...Do what you can, please?...

"Buffy?...A moment of your time...?" he stared into her face...Then moved towards the far side of the tunnel...Dawn watching from her spot near Angel, now joined by Fred and Gunn...

Buffy following after a brief pause...

"Well...?" she stared, arms folded...

"I want this to end, Buffy..." he stared at her...Leaning against the cavern wall...



Willow kissed Xander gently... "Tell her I will drive her sane, then flay her if she hurts you, Yellow Crayon Boy..."

"She's probably already seen it..." he smiled... "Will surrender the sec I show..."

"We'll be as close as possible, Xander..." Giles offered a hand which Xander shook, solemnly...But with a end grin to Willow... "Thanks Mr. Chairperson...For my part, I'll be ready to run like Hell..."

"Godspeed, my boy..."

He nodded and headed for the sewer access entrance...

"Thanks, Rup..." Willow whispered to Giles...Squeezing his hand... "He's been waiting for that a long, long time...Dad..."

"I trust we'll try to show these Old Sunnydalers we can keep up..."Angel grinned at Gunn, who nodded...Fred now busy setting up a link to Wesley in LA and the New Council in London... "Luck, Xander..." she called over to him as he went in...Waving back to all of them...

"I shoulda had Andrew bring out the old invisibility ray..." Willow shook her head at Giles who gently squeezed her with an arm about her shoulder... "I could try a spell?...And follow..." Giles eyeing her... "Xander is right, even she'll hesitate so long as she doesn't feel threatened and thinks she can get information from him...Just maintain your blocking spell and keep her off balance..." he told her firmly...

"Then...Tell your...Fiancee..." Buffy nearly spit out the word to William, the two of them now standing off by the far wall of the tunnel from the others... "To lay off..."

"Dawn's angry at you too, yeah...She is you, after all..."

The Slayer was silent...All, including her and William turning to watch Xander wave and disappear into the sewer entrance...She turned back...

"You want me to make nice with her?...Fair enough..." she nodded... "Deal...But first...You give me thirty seconds of your time...Alone, alone..." she indicated a stretch of side tunnel, partially blocked off...Out of ear- and eye-shot...

Joyce frowned at 2025 Buffy...Who gave a rather sheepish look...Ummn...

"Your sister's fiancee...?" a stern glare...

Ummn...

Dawn was watching as the two moved off...But turned to the task at hand as Fred asked her help in setting up her transmitter...Willow, with Giles, anxiously standing by the sewer entrance as Angel, Gunn, and several AI staffers came to them...

"I love you..." 2006 Buffy looked up at William as they stood in the side tunnel... "Say it's not too late...You love me, I know you do..."

"I love you..." he nodded... "I always will...The part of you that can reach out to the lost and help them...The part that is Dawn...That part that I'm committed to..."

"And you should know Slayer...Whatever else I have been...William Soames Walthrop is a commitment kinda guy..." She blanched, but hung on to her course grimly...

"She's not real, William...She's a figment of my and some crazed monks' imagination...And someday..."

"She's real enough, now...And I'm long dead...I'll take the chance for as long as God or Fate or whatever lets us be..." he pulled back as she tried to embrace him...No...Buffy...



"I have a part of you in her...Plus what she's managed to become on her own...She gambled on me and I will not let her down...I love her...As I love you..."

Cicely...he eyed her...She stared...

Well that sure fired off my last gun prematurely...both 2006 and 2025 Buffy thought...

"He knew...All along..." 2025 Buffy shook her head... "Was sure when his soul was safely back in place and his mind cleared...And waited for me to remember..."

"You know..." 2006 Buffy stared at him...

"I've known since the night you asked about those Slayers I killed, girl..." he sighed... "Well...Lets say...I suspected then...Whatever of Will in me that had survived..."

"That 'You're beneath me' was just too dead on..." he grinned a bit... "And when I recovered all of William...I knew for sure..."

When...And how...? he asked her, a little sadness in his voice...

"I've had flashes since Willow's little love spell...And the last couple of years...I...Saw things..." she stared at his face... It's me, Will...Here for you...

Too late...both Buffies thought...

"I got some stuff on retrieving past life experiences from Willow...I never told her...She doesn't know...My visions were about...Us..."

He nodded... "Dawn's had flashes too...I'd hoped it wasn't happening to you...Buffy...I'm sorry you've had to go through that...I wish..."

"I'm not...William..." she pulled at him... "I'm not sorry...I'm just sorry I didn't realize before..."

"Would it have made a difference, Buffy?...All that was over a hundred years ago...And..." he paused... "You've said you'd already sensed..."

"It would've..." 2025 Buffy whispered... "If I had known...If the damned God or Whoever had let me know..."

"You didn't let yourself know, Buffy..." Joyce told her quietly... "You sensed it and you pushed Cicely away...Dawn didn't..."

"I was the Slayer!!..." both Buffies cried out... Dawn now looking over and starting towards them...Slowly but determinedly...

"I couldn't act on some vague...Spike could've been..." 2006 Buffy tried...

"I'm not accusing you, Buffy..." William told her gently...

"Lets go, people!..." Giles called... "Buffy, William!..."

Dawn moving faster now...

"I loved you..." Buffy shook her head... "I was trying to save you..."

Can't you see that, now?...Husband...she whispered...

"I know..." he nodded... "I believe that...But I needed help and you were afraid to let Cicely in, Buffy..."



"Halfreck tricked me!...The Council lied to me!!...William, oh God don't do this!...Don't leave me!..." she grabbed his hand...Holding it to her cheek, closing her eyes as she held it there...He simply staring at her, sorrow in his eyes...

"I am Cicely...I am your wife...William!..."

I am...2025 Buffy whispered, tears now running as with her younger self...

"Buffy..." Dawn called to her, quietly...Not even a trace of anger... "Let him go...Giles and the others need you..."

2006 Buffy twisted, fury in her face... "I'm Cicely...Not you, you..."

"Key..." Dawn nodded... "But as much Cicely as you...And the part of Cicely who was willing to try..."

"William!..." Buffy held him tight...

"Buffy...You did what you could for me...And now Dawn will do what she can..." Will released himself gently... "And you and I...Cicely...Will be together..."

"They need you, Buffy..." Dawn said firmly... "And we have saved him, sis...The Cicely in us has saved him...Be happy with that..."

Cause that's all I'll let you have...I gave you a chance, sis...she told her...Buffy trembling now with fury...A killing fury...Dawn staring coolly back...

"Buffy!...William!..." Giles' Chairman voice...Stern and commanding...He was coming over as Willow and the others moved into the sewer access tunnel...Willow and Angel behind her, staring back at the side tunnel where Buffy, Will, and Dawn were largely hidden from view...

"We need you!..."

William stood in front of Dawn...Defensive mode...Buffy, fists clenched...Ready...

"Cicely..." he sighed... "If you love me...Don't do this to me...Don't make it end this way..."

"Xander needs you, Buffy!..." Giles came into view round the bend...

"I love you..." Buffy sighed...And relaxed a bit... "I wanted to love you...Live with you...But I was the Slayer...Always...And I had to send you away..."

To keep you safe...she gave a sad, harsh laugh... "My poor little poet...The only bit of romance Cicely ever had..."

Giles stared at her...She looked up at him, tears drying on her cheeks...

"Sorry, I'm coming..." she sighed...And started off...Stopped and glared again at Dawn, by William...

"You weren't the Slayer...That's the only reason..." she said coldly...

"Maybe so...One of us had to be free to help him..." Dawn nodded...Equally coldly... "Lucky me..."

Bitch...2025 Buffy whispered harshly...Thief...Thing...You weren't even...Joyce sadly shaking her head...

"Buffy!..." Giles was harsh now... "Xander needs us...Now!..."

"Duty...Calls..." Buffy looked at Will... "Now...And then...But it was love when I tried to take you in 1880 ...And when I sent you away..."

"I know..." he nodded...



***

A Halloween Carol...Part VII...

Summary-Buffy in Scrooge mode, her demon Anne with a supporting role...My wife's intriguing idea for an Anneverse tale...Which I couldn't resist trying out...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Anneverse.html

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Part VII...

2006...Night...LA...A large culvert opening into the main sewer system...Just before dawn...

"It ended quickly that morning..." ghostly Joyce eyed 2025 Buffy as they watched the 2006 gang enter the sewer tunnel following carefully after Xander...

"The first time you all united to save one of the lost ones...And somehow, Dru...The human soul...Knew you were coming to save her...And fought to help..."

"Pity the bitch didn't fight to save William in 1880..." 2025 Buffy grimly noted...She stared at her mother's quietly frowning face, the look of an embarrassed young girl on her own forty-plus features... "Sorry, Mom...And I know...Cicely didn't fight to save him either...I let him go...To her..."

And a century later repeated the process...She looked away...And gave him away to another Dru...She did not say...

"I resent my daughter...Even my artificial-and-not-truly-my-own younger daughter...Being compared to vampiral Drusilla..." Joyce noted coolly...Hey?...Buffy frowned...

"And you did think you were saving him in 1880, Cicely...You'd no way of knowing that you'd been..."

"Tricked, lied to, betrayed..." Buffy nodded... "But to be honest, I should never have taken him in the first place...The Slayer has no right to love...He would've be killed or worse in any case...It was unfair to him...Selfish of me..."

"Has he ever regretted loving you?..." Joyce eyed her... "Ever reproached you...Either of you...As Cicely or Buffy...For loving him?..."

"No..." Buffy looked away, whispering... "Never...Never..."

"But...I didn't believe enough...In us...Then or later...I thought...Both times...He...And I...Would be better off..."

"But each time you couldn't keep away from him...Couldn't give him up..." Joyce noted...

"And lost him...To them..." Buffy finished...

"Buffy...You died for Dawn...Though Dawn being a part of you, perhaps it wasn't all that selfless..." Buffy glared at Joyce slightly...Who shook her head... "Buffy...You knew you were saving a part of yourself...Maybe even then you knew you were saving her for him too..."

"Sure..." Buffy grimly waved a hand... "My loving heart, right?...The only part of Buffy worth having...Uncontaminated by the Slayer..."

"No wonder he preferred her to me..." she brushed back a tear... "Even when he got his soul back...And he needed me to help him be Will again...Still I..."

"You had billions of lives hanging on your actions..."



"Yeah...And I did what I had to do...I made him call on Spike within...Told him I wanted Spike, not him...William could take a hike for now..."

There was a war on, right...? she gave a brittle smile...Tears running a bit now...

"It did give him a chance to save you at last...It was wrong...But you did need help and you didn't fully realize..." Joyce began...

"I knew what I was doing to him...A little..." Buffy shook her head..."But I was the Slayer...And love...Takes a back seat... "

"When he came back again...And made me 'fully realize' the terrible thing I'd done to him...Again...Did I even try to stop him from going?...Beyond telling him it would be 'nice' if he stayed..."

Dawn ran after him...You saw...And I let her...Watched her take him...Even after she warned me...And gave me a fair chance...I let her...

"Why did you...?" Joyce stared at her...

"I thought...I'd never be able to put him first...Help him...Protect him...Give him what he needed...I'd always be the Slayer...Somewhere in the back of my mind, the same fear that croaked us when I was Cicely...He'd always be in danger with me...Now, of losing his soul again...Maybe condemning that soul..." she looked up at Joyce... "And, in the end...He'd grow to hate me...As he nearly did...Should have done...After 1880..."

"Well..." Joyce eyed her... "That was part of it, a pretty stupid part..."

Mom...?

"People die, Buffy...Even you can't change that...And immortal souls are tougher than you think...He didn't want to be protected in 2003 or 1880...He wanted to be loved...Why do think he finally went ahead and married Dawn?...Was it safer than being with you?...Hardly...But it was the only way he could be with you...A part of you..."

"And you were afraid of him as much as you were afraid for him...Afraid of his and your own feeling..." She put up a hand to Buffy's frown... "It's always frightened you, that desire to throw everything to the winds...Even when as Cicely, you even briefly abandoned Duty for it..."

Not to mention that now, a few years later...For all your 'noble' act in 2003...Here you are trying to break them up...she frowned back...

"I've never really been good at being 'noble'..." Buffy nodded... "I leave that to Angel...But I did give him up that night...For good..."

"And cut Dawn out of your life...For good..."

That was the price she paid...Buffy grimly noted...She didn't seem to mind...

"Not all that much..." Joyce nodded... (to Buffy's startled...Mom?...look...)..."Well, it's true... She had William...And the guys...You were the one who suffered 'the price'..."

"I was trying to..."

"You gave him up to what you believed was a better, freer part of yourself...A part that could love him without qualification...But you tried to hold on to him like grim death at the same time...And ended up only tormenting yourself..."

"Like I said, I've never been much good at being 'noble'...But I meant it as an act of love..." she pleaded... "You gotta know that, Mom..."

Joyce nodded...



"There was another act of love that morning...A truly selfless one..." she noted...

"Yeah..." Buffy nodded... "By the Man of Love himself...I don't deny it..."

Oh, Xander...Forgive me...she thought, bitting her lip...As Joyce watched...

"He never blamed you for Anya, Buffy..."

"Hey, no fair, Mom...Reading my thoughts now?..." she frowned...

"If I don't know what you're thinking every moment by now Buffy Anne..." Joyce smiled...

Besides...This day led to joy for him...

"Yeah..." Buffy sighed... "He took the risk and won the brass ring..."

Figures...

***

Deep in the sewer tunnel, 2006...Early dawn...

Xander moves cautiously down the tunnel...Shining a powerful electric lantern...Emergency lights out, he noted...

Not difficult to guess the cause...

A faint rustle in front of him...He pauses...To see a rat scurrying by...

Phew...I...

"Arrrggh...!" Dru leaps at him, tossing his lantern aside...Tossing him back against the tunnel wall...

"Why are you here?!...Sir...?" she eyes him, standing over him...Looking him over carefully, grabbing him before he can try to move away...

"I know you...You are one of the Slayer's little ones...Is she here?...Where is she?..."

Tell me...she glares, shaking him...

"You have come..." she stares at him... "To..." she pauses...Rubbing her face with her free hand as he twists helplessly in her grip...

"Oh!..." she gasps, releasing him... "Oh!...Why have you come?...What are you doing here?..." she looks at him as he tries to catch his breath and stand...No good, she senses immediately...This one is protected from her power, somehow...

"You want to kill old Dru..." she states flatly... "You and the others coming...Where are they?..."

"No...I don't want to kill you, Drusilla..." he tells her gently... "I want to..."

"Save me..." she gasps... "Oh...No...No!..."

"My little boy is there...Is he there?..." she suddenly asks him...

"Yes..." Xander nods... "Will's coming...But they're not here yet..."

"Too bad for you...Little one...I..." He pulls up his cross and she backs...But anger...And something else, he notes...Despair, shame?...On her face...



"You show that to me!...Bad!...Bad little one!.." she shrieks...Charging him and knocking him back against the opposite wall...

She rears over him... "No friends to help the little one?...Silly, silly...Where's your Slayer, little one?..." she asks, almost kindly...Readying for the strike...

Xander stares up at her... "I don't hate you, Dru...And neither does William...Remember that..."

She pauses...Staring back... "You're nice...Sir...What is your name...?"

"Alexander Harris...My friends call me..."

"Xander...Ah..." Dru nods, still in striking mode...He slowly feeling his wayup...

"Someone...You lost?...That's why you're here..." she looks at him...Letting him rise a bit...

"Yeah..." he nods... "Her name was..."

"Anya..." Dru nods... "I..." she blinks a bit...

"Why has no one come for me?...Did no one love me?..." she stares at him... "He said I was evil...Was I evil?..."

"No, Miss Drusilla...You were not...Angelus was lying to you...That's what he does...I don't why no one else has come...But William and I and our friends want to help you..."

"Destroy me...Send me back to Hell...Help the Bad One..."

My soul...she explains to his puzzled look...

"You're not happy here either, Dru...You didn't ask for this existence...With dozens of Slayers now ready to hunt you down if we fail..."

"They'll be my sisters...My little girls when I'm done..." she tries to put on a note of bravado but is quiet at the end...And her face distorts...

"God!...God has abandoned me!..." she cries...Startling him...Unless...she pauses again...

"Did He send you, sir?..."

"I don't know, Dru..." he shakes his head... "I don't know if there is a God..."

She sighs...Trembling...Then...

"There is, sir...And Anya is not gone from you..." she reaches to pat him gently, a warm smile...Dru?...he whispers, staring...At her composed, beaming face...

"Thank you for coming to help me, sir...And thank her too, please...Hurry..." she pulls back... "Hurry, Xander!...We can only give you a moment..."

He stares...An...he gasps...

"Hurry!...My love!..."

He whips out his dart pistol and fires, twice...Drusilla snarls at him, demon face now...But falls back groaning...

The others rushing in...Willow chanting as Giles pulls a large orb from his overcoat...As Dru collapses...Buffy, Angel, and William moving in to take defensive positions in front of the rest...



Dru moaning on the ground now...The demon clearly struggling to keep her up...No more, Willow tells the others... "It may interfere with the spell..."

Dawn helping a rather shocked-looking Xander back...

"They did it..." he shakes his head... "They saved me..." As Buffy comes over...

"You stupid..." she hugs him... "God, Xander...If you ever do this again...I swear..."

"An...And Dru...Human Dru...They were there, Buffy...They held it back..." he tells her...

"It's done..." Willow rises from the fallen Dru...Amazing, Angel notes to William...

"All those years of suffering...And it's over in seconds..."

"Only takes a second for it to start, after all..." Will replies, shrugging...Eyeing Dru...Thank God and Red...A quick smile to Willow who grins back...No battling everything evil in Africa for her...

"I guess I'd better not be the first thing she lays eyes on..." Angel says sadly...Starting to turn...

"Stay, Liam...She'll understand...And forgive..." Will puts a hand on his arm and tells him gently... "It's her nature..."

"Weeell..." Dru opens her eyes slowly, blinking at them... "She'll try..." she sits up, groggy...

"Hi...Angel...Will...Where's Xander?"

"Dru?..." Will stares at her...

2025 Buffy and Joyce watching quietly...A lucky fool, that Xander...Buffy thinking...A fool for love...Who risked and won it all...

"Yeah...Dru...And..." she eyes Xander, now coming over...Reaching out her hands...As Angel and William stare...

"It's me, Xander..." she smiles gently... "Well, me and...The generous lady who let me in..."

"Anya?!..." he gasps...

"Anya?..." Willow turns from Giles to look at them as he does as well...

"Human Dru wasn't quite up to facing the modern world alone...And wanted to thank Xander properly..." she grins at them... "And was I gonna say no to a free ride back here while my honey was still kickin'?..."

Course, I'm afraid parta me is a nineteenth century early Victorian era nun...But she's willin' to follow my lead...she looks up at Xander, taking his hands now...

"You gonna come down here and kiss me hello or what?...I can't stand up yet..." she grins to him as he kneels and embraces her... "Xander, Xander...Oh, my sweet Alexander..."

Sorry, Giles...she looks up at him as he and Willow and the others come over...

"Guess I shoulda let you check me over first...But it's really me...And Dru...Here..." Turning back to Xander, now buried in her embrace, sobbing...

"An...I'm sorry..."



"No, sir...Er, sorry...Baby...This is a good thing...A chance for both of us..." she eyed him as he pulled back... "Dru never had a feller except for Silvester Doode, a boy who used to do odd jobs around her home...And she...I only got to kiss him once... " She kisses him... "You kiss at least as good..." a sly grin...And looks up at William...

"So...This is what being a human-souled vampire feels like..." she smiles at him...He smiling...

"Forgive me, William...I know you do, but..." she looks at him...Some sorrow now filling her eyes now...

"Nothing....Ever...To forgive Dru..." he nods... "Forgive me if I was wrong to push for this..."

Wrong?...she eyes him...Xander turning in her embrace to look at him as well...

"God, no..."

"Oh!..." she gasps...Startling Xander who stares at her...

"No problem, honey...I have to work out a compromise with Dru regards my swearing...She hates hearing the Lord's name taken in vain..."

"Anyway..." she grins... "Hell, no...Will...And God bless you...All of you...You, too, Liam...All of you...For saving me..."

I nearly gave up hope...she eyes them...After William left me...His soul I mean...In Limbo...

Buffy...And Dawn...Glaring a bit now...His soul?...In Limbo?...

My Will's soul?...With her...?

"I should have known Mr. Walthrop would never leave me like this..." she smiles gently... "He was always the best of kind gentlemen..."

"Don't fret, Dawn...Buffy..." she grins... "I did say...Gentlemen..."

Whatever Spike may have done, Mr. Walthrop was always a perfect gentleman...

Lucky for you...she hissed to Xander...Who grinned happily...

"Of course he still had to wait several years...Give Dru-Anya their time and space to integrate their personalities and memories..." Joyce noted to 2025 Buffy...

"It was all settled that morning, though..." Buffy shook her head... "Xander was just anxious that Dru be happy, too...Like William...And his own earlier self in 1880, my cousin Henry...He always was the perfect gentleman..."

However much custom and manner might have changed over time...



***



A Halloween Carol...Part VIII...

Summary-Buffy in Scrooge mode, her demon Anne with a supporting role...

My wife's intriguing idea for an Anneverse tale...Which I couldn't resist trying out...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Anneverse.html

Naturally to bone up on Cicely Addams Walthrop (AU version of Cecily) you should look up my Cicelyverse pages, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html Not that I revere it, but we're pretty much in canon up to but offer a look behind the scenes in S5's "Fool for Love..."- to explain how Haly knew William, why she came to Dawn, and what had been holding Buffy back from killing Spike all this time...Not to mention how she knew the "you're beneath me" line... (Fanwank?, sure...But I have fun with it...And isn't it all?

Then again, maybe Uncle Joss showed me the movie script and this is really how it turns out...)

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Part VIII...

The set of Larry King Live...late 2007...

"So...Buffy Summers...You've been on the front pages for the past month as the newly revealed secret star witness in the hearings which brought down a President...And now, you're claiming in your new book... "My Life as The Slayer..." To have been a crusading fighter for years against forces of evil...Against demons and vampires in fact...And a protector (The Protector, 2007 Buffy corrected...Right, King frowned...) The Protector of Humanity..."

"And you say there are now hundreds of these women...These... Slayers?...Running around fighting these creatures?..." King eyed her...

"Couple of thousand plus right now...You tellin' me you never heard tell of demons...Vamps...?...Even before I saved you and those reporters when the ex-President sent some of his 'allies' to attack the Senate committee..." Buffy stared back...He hesitated...

Well, no denying what he'd seen that day...And he had heard rumors for years...But to say so on his own show?...To a global audience?...Ummn...

"And never wondered why such powerful, terrible creatures weren't in the news more?..." she grinned...

"Well...I'm the reason..." she noted...

"But you said there were..."

"Only in the past four years...Before that there was only one at a time...Yours truly, in this case..."

Dawn stared at the screen, then at William beside her...As 2025 Buffy and ghostly Joyce watched...

"I can't believe she went public like this...On Larry King Live?..."

"After the Georgetown Conspiracy...And with the equivalent of a minor war going on in 25 cities for two weeks after we exposed the whole bloody little plot there wasn't much hope of continuing what little 'secret' there was..." he noted drily... "It was either this or she, us lot, and four hundred or so Slayers go to jail for murder and property damage..."

"But the new President's on our side...Right?"...William gave a sardonic look...She sighed...

"Well...He's afraid of us at least...And the government wouldn't have dared..." Dawn shook her head... "Not after we got the goods on the ex-President's little 'arrangement' with the anti-Slayers and their pals from Hell..."

"Perhaps not...But probably best to bring things out in the light right now...Not wait for the ones we didn't get to in the lower and local courts and state legislatures to try and take revenge...The last President did appoint a lot of his own to judgeships and the like..."

Just unfortunate they're humans...he smiled...Harder to pinpoint...



"Buffy's just trying to make it harder for them to go after us one by one..."

"She's loving this...Look at her..." Dawn frowned...

And have you read her book?...Hell, she gives two sentences to Willow, the one who resurrected her...

"Though...She does give you a lot of space..." she eyed him a bit narrowly...

You bet I did...2025 Buffy grinned slyly...Buffy...Joyce glared...

"I didn't wanna expose the guys' role too much...Mess up their lives..." she looked at the ghostly form of her mom...As innocently as a life-battered 40-something could...Buffy...

"Ok...So for once in my life I took my fair share of credit for saving Humanity and the world...So sue me...Like that bitch Kennedy did..."

"She told you her family didn't know...She didn't want it revealed..."

"Well it sure was news to Willow that her old girl was now a prim and proper Connecticut...Stepford, Conn, no doubt...Housewife...And considered her little adventures in 'alternate lifestyles' an embarrassment..."

Thank God that romance had long cooled...And she'd wound up with my Giles...she noted...

"So..." on screen King eyed his unique guest... "I understand there are wedding plans in store for a couple of the major characters in your life...Including the one who seems to have won quite a few hearts through your accounting of his sufferings and redemption..."

A little surprising, really...Most readers assume...he paused...

"Yeah...Well, I'm the Slayer...I don't have the luxury of sailing off into the sunset with my beau...So...He's settling for another Summers..."

Settling?!...Dawn seethed... "Why that..." she looked at William who patted her...Now, dear heart...

"Settling!!..."

"Well...And your assistant?...This very compassionate man...Alvin?...Who likewise seems to have won a few hearts even in your brief descriptions of him in your battles...He's also marrying a redeemed vampire?..."

"That's a name change to protect his family...And she's a vampiress, he's not gay...With a dual human soul, one his former lover who died tragically in one of my big ones...Also I prefer to call it salvation for both of them...Mina and Soames...Their souls never needed to be redeemed..."

"That was kind of her...Dru will appreciate that..." William noted...

Settl...ing...Dawn fumed...

"I understand your fellow...'Slayers'...The ones willing to accept the duty of fighting for Humanity...Are being secretly assigned to locales all over the world...But what's next for Buffy Summers...The original Slayer...?" King asked...

Ummn...2007 Buffy paused...

"Guess I'll go on fighting...My research advisors...A super-secret organization based in some other country I can't name...Are arranging a territory for me near my old staking grounds...And I'll be involved in training the new Slayers..."

"Well...I was wondering...As are your readers, I'm sure...About the future of your personal life..."



"Personal...Larry... 'Course I would like to meet someone nice...Someday...Like Soames...But..."

William stared at the screen...Sighing a bit...God, girl...Even Dawn calmed a bit and eyed her sis' now somewhat clouded face...

"There really was only one for me...And I had to let him go..."

And I'm the Slayer...she noted firmly...And that's enough...

"It has to be..." she stared a bit... "It will have to be..."

Dawn rolled her eyes and shut off the TV...What a...

"Now that is the dumbest thing I've ever heard come out of your mouth..." Joyce shook her head at 2025 Buffy...Who stared...Mom?...

"And the worst thing is, you've actually gone and lived your life that way..."

"What?...Should I have gone and taken some clown?...Or married Angel?..."

God, no...Joyce rolled her eyes...

"But there were other Williams...And Xanders out there...Why didn't you find one?..."

"There may be 'other Wills'...There is only one William Soames Walthrop...My husband..." 2025 Buffy glared a bit now...

"And frankly, I never did find another Xander in my travels..."

"Travels?...Buffy, you go to England once every three years to help evaluate the Slayers...Never leave the Council grounds...And otherwise you never leave New Sunnydale..."

"I have responsibilities, Mom...You taught me to live up to em..."

"I never said to stifle your life to them...Did I lock my heart up after your dad ran out?...Geesh..."

"I'm not just Buffy, you know Mom...I was Cicely Walthrop once...And I haven't spent a century waiting for my William to go off with some two bit jerk now...If some clown'ld even want me now..."

Buffy...

"I failed him twice...I know...And I know he wouldn't want me in this life, now...But someday...In some other existence..."

Buffy...For crying out loud...

"Someday I'll get it right...I will..."

"But Dawn is gone...And you won't even see him...You even avoid meeting the old gang for fear he'll be there...You never even let his daughter..." she paused as Buffy gave a hard stare...

"If I've got enough respect left for my artificial sis to leave her husband be in this life...You might give me a little credit..."

Oh, Lord...Joyce rolled her eyes...So now, this is a big sacrifice for Dawnie?...

"That is simple bullcrap...Buffy Anne...You're mad at him for having given Dawn the daughter you might have had...And you're afraid to face him..."

Mom?!...Am not!...



"You're afraid he'll see 2025 Buffy and never see the girl he loved...Buffy...The woman you were in 1880 looked quite a bit different, you know...As did Dawn...He's not looking at the exterior..."

Sigh...Sure wish there were more like him...Joyce noted...

Yeah...Buffy nodded...

"But...That's not..."

Buffy...Anne...

"Ok...That's a little of the reason...But just a little..." she noted...Joyce stared, hard...

"Ok...A lot...But Cicely, Dawn, me...We were hot, Mom...Look at me now..."

"If William is what you've all built him up to be...He's not a soul to care about that..."

Sides, in the afterlife, you can take your best or favorite form...

"Really?..." Buffy smiled...

Well...Anyway...she frowned...It's too late and I can't try again...With him or any one else...I'm too old and too tired...

"It doesn't have to be romance, girl...I'd settle for seeing you smile a little and getting out of that damned condo a few nights a week...You have a lot of love to give yet, Buffy...Of all kinds...If you'd stop carrying on about Duty and your ruined romance...And treating the people who love you like..."

Well...We should move on...Joyce sighed at her daughter's frowning face...

"Damnit Mom...What does it matter now?...Why show me things that can't be changed?...Unless..." she paused, somewhat hopefully...

"No, sweetheart I can't alter what's done..." Joyce sighed...

Not even a mom can do that, honey...Well...

"Just one more scene from the past, baby..."

Baby?...Uh-oh...Buffy blinked...I think I know where we're going...

"No, please...? Mom...Mom, I wanna go home..."

Buffy...Joyce eyed her...

I gotta go to the bathroom...she tried in desperation...

"Buffy...Please...This is important..."

"I don't want to see this...I know what you wanna show me...I've already been there...No..."

"Buffy...I'm sorry...But..."

***



2009...New Sunnydale...The grounds of New Greenwood Cemetery...

"So...What did they do with the...Whatever...?" 2009 Buffy whispered to Willow as a usher guided them to seats...No...Buffy shook her head at him as he indicated William, Xander, and Anya-Dru in the first row with Giles next to them...Not up front with the family just yet...

Willow frowning, but followed her to a back row...

"The baby's at Xander and An's with his mom...Until Will can get a nurse to watch it..."

"He's not really gonna raise it himself?...Wil...That's nuts..."

"He's the father...They do nutty things...Pipe down now..." They took seats...

"You'd think he...After all...It killed her...Just as ours killed me...Cicely..."

Buffy!...Willow glared...Then softened a bit, seeing her friend's face...

"It was the cancer that killed Dawn...Not Joyce...She only held on this long to get her born safe..."

She eyed Buffy's haunted face... "I'm sorry...I didn't know Cicely died in childbirth..."

Water under the bridge...Buffy waved a hand...

"But kinda weird that he should..." she paused...

Lose us again...This way...2025 Buffy filled in...

"My poor Will..." she sighed, looking at him...As he came over to 2009 Buffy and Willow...

"Hey, Will..." 2009 Buffy nodded... "Nice ceremony..." He eyed her and looked at Willow... "Red..." he smiled gently...Patting Buffy's now quietly extended hand...

He turned to greet some other guests passing...

"Pretty formal exit for a Key..." 2009 Buffy hissed to Willow beside her, a slight grin...

"Buffy...Stop it..."

"What did you expect me to say?... 'Oh, my poor sis how I mourn the little bitch who stole my husband away'?..." she glowered... Willow eyed her coldly...

"As you like, Buf..." she waved a hand, turned, and walked away...Back to Giles who'd watched them both...

"Don't stay for the finale, Buffy..." William, who'd returned to stand on her other side, now told her quietly...

"As in...Kindly get lost?..." she glared at him...

"As in...You can't take this...And the worst is coming..."

"I'll be fine...And if you're worried, I promise to behave...You're the one who's lost..." she paused...

"A wife...Again..." he nodded... "And I don't know what's keeping me on my feet, frankly...Spike, I guess can't abide the idea of even his human counterpart collapsing in grief around all these former enemies..."

"You haven't lost me, Will..." she eyed him coolly...He just looked at her a moment...

"Buffy...I love you, but...Don't do this to me today...Not today, love..." he walked away...Over to Xander and Anya-Dru, speaking to them briefly before taking his seat near the coffin...



Giles came to Buffy...

"Sorry about Willow..." she looked at him... "I didn't mean..."

"Yes, you did mean..." his voice hard-edged... "And while I understand your feelings...I'd prefer it if you tried to get hold of them for a few minutes longer...For your mother's sake as well as William and Dawn's..."

Sorry...she shrugged... "I thought I could speak to Willow...Guess not..."

"Not today, Buffy...But I am here for you..." he eyed her, his voice turning gentle now...

The minister came over and those standing sat...As he began the final prayer...Buffy fidgeting a bit, taking Giles' hand as the prayer ended...

"I should go sit by William..." she hissed... "I..."

"Stay here..." Giles firmly whispered back...Clamping her hand in a hard grip...Whoa, she thought...Not too shabby a vise lock there...

A hymn began as the group rose to watch the coffin descend...She could see William visibly trembling...Angel with an arm on his shoulder, Anya-Dru by his side, arm round him...

"They can't do this..." she whispered suddenly to Giles... "They can't bury her like this...She's afraid of the dark...Like me...I know...I used to hold her at night when she'd...Oh..."

A few heads turned...

"Giles...?" she hissed... "Don't let them...Don't let them...Not yet...Let me get something for her...Wait!..." she cried...

"Buffy!..." Giles told her firmly, pulling her back...She shook him loose...

"Lemme go!...Wait!...You can't!...She can't go in there all alone!..." she shrieked now...Nearly all the group was looking at her now...

"William!!...Let me get something for her!...From the house..." she called to him... "Mr. Gordo?!...Something!...Oh, please!...Don't bury me alone again!...My heart!...Not my heart!!..."

"He's in there, Buffy..." he called back to her gently... "I'd never leave her alone in there...Never let any part of you go alone...Again..."

Willow sobbing now, leaning against him, as she looked back at Buffy...Xander moving back to them...

Buffy calmed, nodding to William...Letting Giles take her hand as Xander came to her on the opposite side...The others slowly turning back...

"Buf...You doing ok?..." Xander asked gently, putting an arm round her...

"They're burying my heart..." she looked at him...Shaking slightly...He and Giles embracing her as the coffin was lowered...

Dawn...2025 Buffy murmured...No...

"Mommie...?..." she turned to Joyce who put out a ghostly hand to her... "I can't make this go away, Buffy...I'm sorry..."

Dawnie...she whispered...Please...

"Yeah, kiddo?..." An adult (circa 2009) Dawn spirit smiled at her, standing beside ghostly Joyce...



"Whadaya want, not so big sis...?"

Whoa...What a neat crowd...she eyed the group of mourners...

"Dawnie Joyce Summers-Walthrop rated..." she grinned...

***

A Halloween Carol...Part IX...

Summary-Buffy in Scrooge mode, her demon Anne with a supporting role...

My wife's intriguing idea for an Anneverse tale...Which I couldn't resist trying out...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Anneverse.html

Naturally to bone up on Cicely Addams Walthrop (AU version of Cecily) you should look up my Cicelyverse pages, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Part IX...

"So...Dawn will handle the events of the present..." Joyce explained...Dawn nodding with a beam...

Stuck-up lil' Mommie's princess...Buffy frowned within...

"And...Some one...Else...Will deal with your future...Which you will not have if you keep acting like this Buffy Anne..."

Buffy stared at Joyce who was watching the two a frown on her ghostly face...

"Aren't you going?..."

"And leave the two of you alone?..." Joyce stared at her... "Hell, you'd be at it all night...Half the time trying to clobber each other...Which is impossible given Dawnie's current home address...The rest -neither of you saying a word to the other, trying to freeze each other out ...Not a thing'll get done..."

Mom...Dawn grumbled...I can handle...

"'Handle!?'...Me!?...You can handle me?!!" 2025 Buffy fumed at her sis...

"You betcha 'Buffy the Law'..." the Dawn spirit smiled coldly... "Any day of the week..."

'Bitch'...she eyed Buffy... "DAWN!!" Joyce yelled...

"She called me that!... 'Bitch'... 'thief'... 'thing'...You heard her...How come she can get away with that and..."

"Dawn...You're supposed to be helping her...You promised your dad and me you could deal..."

"How'd he ever put with you...?" Buffy eyed Dawn...

"He's a patient man...He waited for 123 years for us, remember?..." the spirit shrugged at her...

***

2025, early afternoon...New Sunnydale...The restaurant at the Radisson Hotel next to New Sunnydale General Hospital...



"Naturally she isn't coming..." young Joyce frowned a moment...Eyeing her dad and their guests...Xander and Anya-Dru Harris, their three daughters...And the incredibly hot young Mr. Wyndham-Price, Jr...For whom she could not possibly resist smiling once more...

"I didn't think she would..." William shook his head... "She's never been one to give in under any circumstances..."

"Well, that's not noble or even admirable...It's just plain pig-headed..." young Ms. Walthrop shook her head...

"Doesn't she even come to see you and your girls?...Anya?" she looked at her...

"Not in seven years, Joyce...Xander has to practically unscrew her door off to get to see her at her place these days..." Anya-Dru sighed...

"Aunt Buffy hates us?..." Little Anya stared...As did young Dru and young Mina...(Anya-Dru being able and willing to do Wilhelmina so long as it was never shortened to Willow)...

"No, no..." a gentle Dru smile from Mom...Anya finding Dru best at this sort of thing... "Aunt Buffy loves you...She's just not very happy these days...She's unhappy and we want to help her..."

Just like Daddy helped Mommy...Understand?...she patted each in turn...

"I don' want Auntie Buffy ta be unhappy!..." young Dru sobbed... "Mommie...Make her happy..."

"We're gonna try, baby..." Dru gently soothed her...

"Showin' me three more kids I'll never have ain't exactly making your case...Dawn..." 2025 Buffy glared at her sis' ghostly spirit...Say...

"How can an energy key...However human-seeming...Become a spirit after death?..."

"How can a bratty 14-year old clothes hog...twenty-eight years or so ago...Have been the reincarnation of history's Greatest Slayer?..." Dawn glared back...

Girls...Joyce hissed...Mutual hanging of heads...

"He looks good..." Buffy noted...Smiling faintly at William as he looked out the window onto the street... "Can't help thinking she's out there...Watching..." he smiled sheepishly at Anya-Dru, who patted him...

"Willow's spell did wonders for his complexion...Gettin' him out in the sun and all..." Dawn smiled...

My hubbie, the Doctor...she proudly beamed...And my Joycee...

"Are you here to help me?...Or stick a few in my hide?..." Buffy glared...

Buffy...Dawn didn't get to be with Joyce growing up...Joyce noted...Let her enjoy a mo...

"Yeah..." Dawn nodded... "After all, I'm the mom...And one who got him through med school...You didn't even help him get his soul back..."

Not to mention, "Aunt" Buffy...she glared...Ignoring my daughter all these...

Mom?!...

"Dawn...You are supposed to be helping your sis..."

Sorry...



"Well, anyway...Here they are...Another Halloween...And you...Nowhere to be found..." Dawn began...

Screwing up another chance with family and friends...As usual...

"Mom!!!..."

The First never treated me like this...Buffy groused...Dawn casting an innocent look at some paintings on the hotel wall...

"Dawn..." Joyce glared... "If you can't handle this...We can move right on...I thought you were an adult..."

Ok, ok...Dawn's spirit waved a hand...

"He does look good with that touch of gray...My Joycee did it...Great job huh?..." she noted...

"He looks great...A lil' tired..." Buffy looked him over as he started playing with the three Harris girls...

"You could be sitting there with him now, you know..." Dawn eyed her...

"Yeah?...Great... 'Ole spinster Auntie Buf...'...Trotted out for her Halloween dinner with the family..."

"Hardly...Considering the way you terrorize everyone in your assigned territory...The current mayor'd probably stage you a parade if you showed your face outside in daylight on Halloween..."

"Gotta let those government types know whose boss...Don't forget the Georgetown Conspiracy of 2007..." Buffy frowned... "I let up on these clowns and they'll find a few more evil Slayers and try something again..."

"It's not your job to run the government in your territory, Buf...Geesh...Don't you believe in democracy any more...?"

"Democracy don't kill vamps and demons..." Buffy noted solemnly...

"Like you ever won a big one on your lonesome...God, the way you dismiss Xander, Willow, even Giles and William...Hell, I bet even Cicely had help with the real fights..." Dawn glared...

Even now, if a big one came up...They'd all be there for you...Saving the Slayer's ass like they always did...

"Mom!..."

"Well...Buffy...You do tend to overlook your friends' contribution..." Joyce noted... "I read your book...And you never even mentioned how Xander brought you back or how Giles and Willow powered you up to fight Adam...Not to mention Willow's resurrection spell...Or the time Warren shot you and Willow got the bullet out..."

See...Dawn smiled...

"And wasn't it Xander who stopped Willow from destroying the world?..."

Ummn...

"What's William saying there?..." she hastily dodged...

Pfuff...Dawn rolled her eyes...

"Don't you wanna hear what our hus..." Dawn glared...As Buffy smiled sweetly... "Sorry...Your...Husband has to say...?"

"I wish we could get her to come..." William sighed to Anya-Dru... "But she's never done but what she's determined to do...And there's no changing her..."

In this lifetime...he smiled wanly...



"See, Mom...He's already setting his sights on my next coming..." Buffy noted... "Just lemme get through this crappy time and I'll get it right on the next try..."

Dawn eyed Joyce...Who eyed her...

What?...Buffy looked at them...

"Buffy...Ya kinda shot your bolt with this reincarnation, kid..." Dawn told her carefully...Buffy blinking...

"Cicely had to pull a lot of strings to come back...And I was sort of thrown in as a Gift to William when the PTBs didn't hold out much for your chances of rescuing him..."

Shot my...?

"Mom?..." Buffy looked at Joyce...

"Well...Not exactly forever, baby...You may get another try...In 10 or 20,000 years..."

But Will is not gonna wait that long...Dawn sighed...

No?...Buffy stared, looking at him, then down, forlornly...Dawn looking at her with quick sympathy...

"I mean...He would wait...Forever...If he thought it would do any good...But there's Joyce now...And me, waiting for him...At least a part of your...Our...Total consciousness, along with Cicely..."

"In other words...I get screwed...Again?..." Buffy frowned...

"Christ, Buffy..." Dawn glared... "You've had one reincarnation, two resurrections, and sixteen years since I died to put things right with him and our girl...What good is coming back again gonna do?..."

"And Will's tired...When Joyce is all set...He's..."

"Why don't we try calling her...?" Xander suggested to the others at the table...Yeah!!...Call Auntie Buf!...the Harris girls cheered...

What?!...Buffy stared at Dawn...He's gonna what?...

"He'll be nearly two hundred years old, Buffy...He doesn't want to spend another 20,000 waiting here when his wife and daughter are waiting for him in Heaven..."

"But...What about me?..."

"You're part of us, Buffy...Cicely, you, me...And..." Joyce gave a cough...Dawn eyed her...Oh, right...Sorry...

"Well, Cicely, you, me...We're all part of the same consciousness...And you can be with us and Will...If you'll just stop pushing us all away..."

"You'd share him?...With me...?...You?..." Buffy stared...The girl who wouldn't let me have a sheet of 'her' stationery to write a damned shopping list on...

"Not voluntarily..." Dawn frowned... "But...We're one, really...And it's different in the Afterlife..."

Besides...I'm also your sis...And I hate to think I hurt you, Buf...

"Though thank God one part of us had a few brains...Or God knows who he might have turned to for comfort..."



"William would never...Spike, sure...But William...Never..." Buffy frowned... "If you're really part of me and really know him as well as you liked to claim..."

No...Dawn nodded, smiling now... He never would've...You're right sis...

"Our fool for love..." God...

"Can we pick 'em or what?..." she grinned...

Damned straight...Buffy nodded...

"No answer...Bet she's taken the phone off the hook..." Xander sighed at the phone in his hand...

" 'Course you did have Angel to compare..." Dawn noted...A sly look at her sis...

Compare?...Joyce eyed her innocent, and naturally, ever-virginal, daughters...

"Angel?...Well...He might have had a moment of 'perfect happiness'...But as for me..." an equally sly grin back..."It was...Nice..."

"But William...Generous beyond the call of duty...If you know what I mean...?"

"And...How..." Dawn grinned... "Never content unless you're...Utterly...Content...Unstinting of his...Energy..."

I am not hearing this...Joyce muttered grimly...

"Pouring his all into making you..." Buffy eyed the darkening face of her mom's spirit... "uh...A really terrific guy..."

"Absolutely...Terrific..." Dawn sighed...Blinking a bit as Joyce regarded her now... "Ummn...Really terrifically...Kind..."

Say...

"Was he as good...Generosity-wise, I mean...Back in 1880?..."

"God, yes..." Buffy sighed... "Cicely sometimes thought he must have been handed a Slayer's...Stamina...By accident..."

Hell, would we have gone so crazy over a lover who stunk in bed...?

"Buffy Anne..." Joyce glared...

"Sorry, mom...But heck I'm over 40...And Dawn's had kids..."

Buffy...

"It was the loving heart of course that was the main thing..." she hastily continued... "Yeah..." Dawn

nodded...That hot little loving heart...

oooh...Yeah...The sisters smiled at each other...

"This doesn't mean I forgive you, you husband-stealin' little..." Buffy eyed Dawn....

"Self-righteous, hypocritical...Bitter old maid..." the spirit glared back...

"Girls...If you two don't stop right now..."

"She called me a bitter old maid!..."



"She called me a husband-stealin'...!"

"Mom!!!..."

"Enough...Or we go and Dawny, you've failed your dad...Me...And William...As well as your sis...On your first big Afterlife assignment..."

Aw...

"I said to can it, Dawn...I meant it..."

"Yeah, yeah..."

She still started it...Dawn noted within, glaring...

"And you apologize to your sister, Buffy Anne..."

What?...Buffy fumed...Dawn smiling...

"No problem..." Dawn beamed beatifically... "Why else am I here but to help my dear...Old...Sis?..."

Joyce frowned...Dawn clammed, but kept the angelic look upon her face...

"Generous, eh?..." Joyce eyed her girls...Well her girl and...A half?...Still haven't quite got a firm handle on the metaphysics involved here yet, she sighed inwardly...

"Sounds just like your dad...If you want to hear about...Generosity..." she beamed...

Buffy stared at Dawn...The spirit staring back at her...

Eehew...

She frowned at the girls....

"I didn't take him back simply because I felt sorry for him, you know..."

I'm not hearing this...Both girls covering their ears instinctively...

"Well, the love was there too..." she smiled...

"Just like with my 'generous' girls..." she grinned at them...

***

A Halloween Carol...Part X...

Summary-Buffy in Scrooge mode, her demon Anne with a supporting role...

My wife's intriguing idea for an Anneverse tale...Which I couldn't resist trying out...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Anneverse.html

Naturally to bone up on Cicely Addams Walthrop (AU version of Cecily) you should look up my Cicelyverse pages, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Part X...

New Sunnydale Town Hall...Mid-day, Halloween, 2025...

"What's up here?..." 2025 Buffy eyed the adult spirit form of her sis...Then ghostly Joyce, standing next to them...

"Just showing you what some other consequences of the way you've been livin' your life the past few have been..." Dawn noted...

A large...Rather voluble crowd filled the main auditorium...The current mayor calling to the meeting to order...

"Ahem..." he tapped the digital microphone...His holographic image blinking out for a second...Then back...A number of those in attendance doing likewise...A few technicians began adjusting equipment...

Bradshaw...Buffy muttered...That moron...What's he up to this time?...

"Ladies and gentlemen...Thank you for interrupting your busy days to attend this meeting..."

"As you know...We're here to discuss reopening negotiations with our Slayer, Ms. Buffy Summers with regards to her nightly curfew policy..."

Not this again...she fumed... God...

"Yeah..." A man seated, raised a hand...Sorry for not gettin' up I'm imaging in from my truck on the road...he explained... "I'd like to know what gives this lady the authority to impose a blanket curfew on three California counties..."

Yeah...Several voices called...

"I mean...Who does this 'Slayer' think she is, telling us we can't go out at night?...I gotta make a living..." the driver spoke again...

Yeah...Multiple voices chorused in support...

A couple stood up... "We're grateful for the Slayer...But geesh...We wanna go out at night...Hell, people have been going out at night for hundreds of thousands of years...Most get through unscathed...She's being unreasonable in our opinion..."

A factory worker stood up..."There's plenty of Slayers around...None of them stop folks from doing their jobs in their territories...This Summers woman's got no right to order us around..."

Here, here...A few vamps in back joined in support...

Oh, right...Buffy sneered...Look who's supporting that motion...

"Well...Folks..." Mayor Bradshaw sighed... "She has saved a lotta lives...And she's just tryin' to protect us..."

Without the use of taxpayer funds...he noted...

"Well that's great...And I ain't saying I don't appreciate it...But what good's 'protectin' us' if we can't make a living?..." a waitress stood up... "My boss can't make ends meet with her closing us up at sunset..."

"You...You're the Mayor...Can't you tell her to let folks alone?...Back off a little...Hell, if she needs help we can hire extra cops...Or get some more Slayers in town...We want our nights back..."

Yeah...A chorus...

Ungrateful bastards...Buffy glowered...Bu..ff...Mom...mm...Dawn hissed...Joyce frowning...



Ooops...Sorry, Mom...

"Ungrateful jerks..." she corrected... "Since I started my curfew there's been less than five vamp/demon kills a month in my territory...The best record for any Slayer territory...Six years running..."

Yeah?...Dawn stared... "And if Superman had taken over his comic strip world probably they'd have no nukes and no wars...And no freedom to make choices...Good or bad ones..."

"People can only be protected so much, Buf...You can't run their lives and order them around like members of your Slayer army...It's worse than being menaced by vamps..."

And they're not ungrateful...You heard what a lot of them said...

"But hell, democracy means something, kiddo...I believe that...And you used to...I think...If the people here wanted a Queen and an aristocracy, they'd still be doffing their caps to Elizabeth III in England..."

And you know what Spike used to say...There've been Apocalypse plans since day one...And whether a Slayer is on hand or no...They never succeed...

Buffy glared...

"Not meaning to diss ya, sis...I always believed and now I know that you and the others and our guys do make a difference...But the world will end when its time comes...Not before...No matter what the head clowns of Evil may boast..."

"So...They don't want my help?...Fine...I'll go somewhere where they'll appreciate a conscientious Slayer...Let 'em get some kid in here who'll let 'em run around all hours and won't last a week..."

"Ms. Summers is a hero...But for cryin' out loud..." the young nurse Buffy'd stopped the evening before stood up... "She can't treat us like helpless children...She isn't even someone we elected..."

Ooops...Sorry...she apologized...Just got a Code Blue...She vanished...

"See...?" Dawn noted...

"Great, fine...I'll pack my bags tomorrow...er today..." Buffy glared...

"Yeah?...Well...Running away does seem to be your favorite strategy, sis...With people I mean..." Dawn eyed her.. "And it's not like you're someone they're gonna miss once they get a new and reasonably competent Slayer in..."

A furious glare...

"We could hire that Liam Angel from LA to help her out, if she's overworked..." one man noted...

"Well..." Dawn pointed out, coolly... "Have you done anything besides Slaying at night?...And nowadays that's mostly Patrol without kills...To make people here care which Slayer they got...?"

Sorry I don't got time to pass out cookies and milk on my rounds...Buffy sneered...

"You wanted to be a counselor and a teacher once...You were a good one when you let yourself be to the kids at Old Sunnydale High...And the Slayers-in-Training..."

Eh...Buffy waved a hand...Who's got time...I got responsibilities...

"Responsibilities these clowns ain't makin' any easier..." she noted, glaring at the crowd...

"Tell me, Buf...Just how many folks do you save these days...?"



She brightened... "Raw numbers per incident or estimated prevented kills?" she pulled out her video phone...With yesterday's latest data on hand on disk...A slight beam at Joyce...Watch this, Mom...her eager look saying...

Lets see...she scanned the monitor... Total estimated prevention for the week in the entire territory: 2, 212...She glanced at ghostly Joyce who smiled encouragingly...Very nice, honey...

"The local sanitation company prevented 125, 000 last week...By picking up the trash..." Dawn smiled...

Another furious glare...Mom?...

"Dawn is making a point here, Buffy...But don't hurt your sis' feelings Dawn..." Joyce eyed her... "And remember she has saved all Humanity several times..."

I know...I know...Dawn nodded... "I'm just trying to point out that there are other concerns to think about here..."

God do I know...she thought...Like Buf ever let us forget...

"Well, anyway...As Anya said once after she started nursing school..." she began...

God, how An must have choked on that...Buffy thought...But her Dru side wanted a "helping" career...And nurses do make good money...

"...if I were the First, I'd've just created a better version of SARS...Or HIV...Or the good ole flu...Much more effective than some army of daylight-sensitive Ubies..."

"This is a plug for 'Dr. Walthrop, MD.', right?..." Buffy frowned...

Well...Yeah...Dawn chuckled... "I'm proud as hell...And as you are, too...of him...But I'm making the point that these folks here..." she waved at the people still debating...Several now having come out strongly in defense of their local Slayer...Much to Buffy's pleasure... "Have legit concerns...That you oughta understand...As a member of this community..."

There's more to life than the fight against the underworld, Buffy...And Slayers have a right to join in that...more...You used to believe that...she eyed her...

"You used to fight for that...As Buffy...And as Cicely...But nowadays...Hell...Ole Quentin Travers could make you the poster girl for his 'model Slayer'...When did you stop fighting for your right to be a human being, sis?"

"That...Was a long time ago..." Buffy shook her head... "And I'm too old to start trying to please the crowd now...So what's your point?...That nobody needs me...?"

"The point is what I just told you...And William wasn't too old to reach for happiness...Win his life back...Neither was ole Dru...Not to mention her 1000 year old other half..."

And neither was...She grinned...A certain well-known LA lawyer...

Oh, Christ...Buffy groaned...

"No...But as my William would say...A rather poor imitation..." Dawn grinned...

Your...? Buffy glared as they faded out...Ok, ok...Our William...Dawn sighed...

***

LA...2025, Halloween afternoon...

The penthouse apartment of Liam Angel...Head of Wolfram-Hart, Inc...The famed law firm committed to the service of Humanity...And on many occasions, actually keeping its commitment...



"Ok...We've seen everything...Can we go now?..." Buffy frowned at the Dawn spirit...

We just got here, Buf...Dawn shook her head...

"Liam!..." a middle-aged Chairman of the Council of Watchers, Wesley Wyndham-Price, passed by them from the front door...Hand extended to his old friend and former employer...

"Wes!...Great to see you could make it...Mr. Chairman..." Angel beamed...Pulling away from several celebrities to greet his latest guest...

"I'm just in on my way to New Sunnydale..." Wes grinned...Angel rolling his eyes...

"Lorne..." he turned to his partner, now just over for a handshake as well... "Shake hands with one of the bravest men we have ever known..."

"Eh...Summers isn't that bad, poor kid..." Lorne shook his head...And grinned...Well, ok...I'm lyin'...he chuckled...

Very funny...Buffy glared...I don't suppose he can sense me, can he?...The little green puke face...

Joyce shook her head... "We're just shadows here..."

However...she frowned as Dawn grinned at the "puke face" jibe..."Even shadows ought to be polite..."

"I see business is booming..." Chairman Wyndham-Price smiled... "And still keeping to our side of the force I trust...?"

"With Andrew on our team?...Please..." Angel chuckled...

God...Buffy glared...He even hired ole Andrew...

"Andy did earn a law degree, Buffy...Like some other people I know..." Dawn Summers-Walthrop, attorney-at-law, looked at the ceiling innocently...

"And Angel always did have a spot for you, if you ever wanted it..."

Great...Junior assistant whatever, behind a desk...Probably just a jumped-up secretary...Buffy waved a hand...No, thanks...

"There he is..." Dawn beamed...As a handsome and quite dapper 40 year old Connor came over...

"Chairman Wyndham-Price?...Nice to see you again..."

"Connor..." Wes beamed, shaking hands... "Good to see you...How's our Winifred these days?..."

"Symposium in Vienna..." Connor smiled...Angel watching quietly, a profound joy in the back of his eyes...

"My partner..." he paused... "Oughta be on vacation in Vienna right now..."

"Too much to do, Angel..." Connor grinned... "Fred understands...And I will be with her all December...If things don't go crazy here..."

"They've gone crazy here before...You're going regardless..." Angel frowned...

"Thanks... "Dad"..." Connor smiled...Shaking his head...

"Speaking of which..." Angel paused...Only the slightest blink betraying him... "How is your father these days...?"

"Everybody's well, last time I checked..." Connor nodded... "They were worried about him after the last bout with pneumonia, but he's doing fine..."



"You should get over to him before you head for Europe..." Angel smiled... "Never forget dear ole Dad..."

"And he never will...In Eternity..." Dawn smiled at them... "When he's had a chance to sort things out and deal properly...Nothing's that happened and no little spell will keep them apart forever..."

Any more than anything Haly and the Council did to us in 1880 would keep us from Will forever...she eyed Buffy...Who looked away...Dawn eyeing Joyce as she did...Who nodded...Keep it up, honey...

"And now, kid...How's about getting your elders a drink?..." Angel grinned, Connor chuckling, heading over to the bar...

"Fine young man, that Connor..." Wes noted... Aye...Angel beamed...The finest...

"I was lucky to get him fresh out of Harvard Law..." he smiled...

Angel...Wes eyed him seriously... "With regards to..." he paused...

"I understand, Wes...Well, no news is good..."

"There is news, Liam..." Wes smiled... "We think the neural grafts are taking hold...Will Walthrop examined her last week...And there is definite...But slow...Improvement..."

Cordy?...Buffy eyed Dawn...Who nodded...

Angel blinked...Wes?...

"It may be a while, Liam...But...Will...And the other doctors think there's hope..."

Hope?...She'll be...Buffy mentally counted...

Younger than him regardless...Dawn noted...Eyeing her...

"Why don't you find an excuse to join your new junior partner when he comes to Europe in December?..." Wes grinned... "There may be someone waiting to speak with you in England by then...Or at least, to listen to you..."

Yeah...Angel nodded...Patting him...Some tears in his eyes...I think maybe I could clear a few days then...

"You'll thank Will?...The other docs?..." he looked at him... "I'd be afraid to talk with them right now...Get my hopes up..."

"I will..."

Connor returned, drinks in hand, passing them over...

"Well..." he beamed... "If I may be allowed to suck up a little?...Here's to the best boss...And best second father...A lawyer ever had..." he grinned at Angel, raising his glass...As did Wes, Lorne, and others around the room...

"Happy Halloween, old friend..." Wes smiled...

***

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