"Who?"



Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!



Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present…With help from an Immortal source.

Part I…



Dawn believes that it all happened at the Gap…The mall clothing chain store, not the great Crater of Sunnydale now such a bang-up tourist attraction since the Big One of 2003…After all she was there and the others weren't…Willow being with Kennedy and the other Slayers at Saks Fifth Avenue…Not that Willow Rosenberg turned her nose at "The Gap"…Not exactly…Sometime or other she'd picked up a blouse or scarf or something at the Sunnydale Mall outlet in the past…It just wasn't quite her fave choice…And she'd felt the Slayers deserved a treat after the Big One against the First…Though Buffy, her accounting instincts tempered in the fire of post-Mom budgets, had chosen restraint in her post-battle celebration…

Besides…As Dawn would note later…She was in mourning…However repressed…And "The Gap" was the kind of low-key place for someone in repressed mourning yet relishing a world-saving victory who needed some new, reasonably priced clothes…

***

"I really don't see why we couldn't head over to Saks..." Dawn noted... "I mean we just saved the world...Somebody owes us big..."

"I should go back..." Buffy put down the crimson blouse she'd stared at on entry and turned for the exit...

"Yeah...Dark red like that is really not one of your colors for primaries..." Dawn nodded..."Now maybe in a scarf...Buffy?..."

"I...I'll be back..." Buffy hurried off, passing through the exit...

"Hey, wait..." Dawn followed at normal human...Geesh I hate this place too, you know...

"Buffy, lets try...Buffy?..." She hurried after the Slayer...

"Giles?..." she called to the fast approaching Rupert Giles...Whom Buffy passed without a word...He stopping to stare after her... "Buffy?...Buffy, could you..."

Lord, she isn't off to join them, is she?...I said just a few things to tide you ladies over...The Council or what's left of it will never approve all this...

"Dawn?..." he turned to the junior Summers sister...Who had halted, frowning after her sis...There aren't any good shops down that way, damnit, Buf...

"Dawn, could you get your sister to please come back a moment...I need to speak with her..."

"Giles..." Xander came down the hall, shaking head... "The Borg have demolished and assimilated Sakes and are heading on for Florsheim..."

"What?!...I distinctly said 'No shoes'...Dawn, send her over to Florsheim as soon as you can..." He hurried after the retreating Xander...

This is what comes of trying to set an example, sis...Dawn sighed...Still, there might be some remains left at Saks to plunder...And Buf must be planning to move down there eventually...



***

A devastation...An utter emptiness, devoid of man or beast...Though still vast expanses of rubble piled in the enormous center...Onlookers gaping at the view...

"I'm truly sorry about this..." Giles noted to the young lady who'd approached him, an assistant manger's badge on her suit... "The ladies have been on ...Umnn...A wilderness excursion for several weeks..."

"Quite so..." the young woman nodded... "I'm sure no worse than the group from the real estate conference last weekend..."

Wilderness excursion, eh?...Xander beaming slightly at the thought of himself as one-eyed Alex, manly wilderness guide to a bevy of helpless city damsels in...

"That's very kind of you..." Giles noted to the young woman...

"I think there's something alive in there..." Andrew, who'd been left behind to futilely monitor the destruction by Xander when the latter went to fetch Giles, indicated a small hill of debris...

"Whoa!!..." Xander jumped back as a pile of what had been handbags moved...

"Rachel?..." Andrew reached to the young Slayer, triumphantly clutching a bag...

"Not at all..." the young woman replied to Giles... "You might wish to have your credit balance extended, though...The ladies mentioned Florsheim and inquired about the location of Neiman Marcus..."

"Yes?..."

Florsheim?...Rachel stared...And hurried off...

Hmmn...Giles sighed after the vanishing Slayer...And returned to his companion... "Manchester?..."

"Why, yes..." she smiled... "You're authentic, too, aren't you?...Birmingham, right?...The London tones overlay a bit..."

He nodded... "Can be difficult to tell these days...Some of the Yanks are catching on and cutting back on the fake nasal tones...Xander, Andrew?..."

"No, Giles...We couldn't stop them here...And Saks had security..." Xander noted...

"Florsheim, gentlemen...Do what you can and I'll join you shortly...Mr. Wells?..."

"Aye, aye, my Counselor..." Andrew gave a salute and headed off, Xander in tow...

"One has to be appreciate they mean well..." the lady continued... "Imitation and flattery, you know...And it does still seem to work with many of the American ladies...

"Yes..".Giles sighed... "I should take lessons...I must do it wrong..."

"No...Not at all..." she smiled... Brushing a brown twist of hair back...

"Olive...Knowles..." she offered a hand...

"Rupert Giles..."

"The fabulously wealthy if publicity-shunning billionaire...Or at least the leading government official, I hope?...Considering the likely charges today..." she noted, beaming...

"No, afraid not...Though my organization will...I pray to God in Heaven...Cover those charges..."

"Giles..." a shell-shocked Willow stumbled towards them...



"I tried...I really...Really...Tried..." she mumbled...Shaking now...

"Florsheim...?" Giles asked...

"It was horrible...Oh, Giles...The cries...The screams for help...They really need more staff there...The boxes...Giles...Xander called for me to help him...I panicked, ran...Giles, he and Andrew are still in there...I think..."

"Well, we'd best head over...Ms. Knowles..." a nod...

"I'll come along, if you don't mind..." she smiled to his look... "I don't think our store will be reopening for a day...Or two...And I'd been planning to head over to look for shoes after my shift..."

"Shoes..." Willow moaned... "Shoes...shoes..."

Sounds from a tottering pile of tossed petite blouses...Giles waving the others back..Dawn emerging from the depths, mavre blouse clutched firmly ...

"What shoes?..."

***

"Careful..." Giles noted as the group stood staring at a gigantic heap in the front of Florsheim's... "The slightest movement could..."

"Those flats are mine!..." Dawn raced for the pile...

Avalanche...

"Andrew?..." Giles stared at the battered figure now released from his imitation leather entombment...

"Mr. Giles...I beg to report we were unsuccessful..."

"Where's Xander?..." Willow looked around...

"Here..." Xander crept out of the center aisle, leading a group of terrorized clerks...

"Oh, Xander...I'm so...Say, what size are those?..." Willow eyed the pair of gold sandals with white trimmed straps he held in one hand... "Did you pick those up for me?...Aw, Xander..." she beamed... "Hey, where'd Kennedy and the other girls go?..." she looked about...

"They're in Neiman Marcus!!!..." a man screamed, running by...Others in panicked rout, following...

"Excuse me...'They' are twenty rather athletic young women?..." Giles called hastily...

"Neiman Marcus...!!" the chilling reply, the man continuing his flight...

"Lets go!!..." Dawn called...Willow turning...

"Ladies..." a battered-looking but stalwart middle-aged female clerk blocked their path... "Oh, right...Xander, I'll take those..." Willow reached for the pair of sandals...

Ummn...Xander?...

"Buffy, can I have..." Dawn paused, holding her flats up...

"Say?...Where is Buffy?..."

"Anya'd like these...I knew right away..." Xander said, sadly...Still holding the sandals...



"Yeah..." Willow nodded...Looking worriedly at Giles whose look urged caution...And a little forbearance...

"They're just what she'd want..." she patted Xander's arm... "He'll take 'em..." she nodded to the clerk...

Ex-fiancee, killed in the Sunnydale quake...Dawn explained in whisper to Ms. Knowles...

"I'm sorry...That's very sweet of her..."

"Yeah, it is...But he's not puttin' mine in her casket..."

***

"Does the Council really have enough left to cover all this?..." Willow eyed the bags now piled by the doorway at Neiman Marcus...

"Actually, assuming I'm able to threaten the wrath of our ladies upon them, I believe so..." Giles shook his head at the pile... "One of our chairmen forty years ago bought up a lot of the first public offering of Microsoft stock..." he explained...

"But...Microsoft wasn't even operating until...Ohhh..." Willow nodded at Giles' stare...

"A technical violation of our rules on time travel but strictly in the interests of Humanity, you understand..."

"Uh-huh...Must always have the port kept following at those council meetings..." Willow grinned...

"By the way..." she gave Giles a sidelong glance... "Nice thing you've picked up at Saks..." roguish look...

"Willow..."

"And Brit, too...You gonna ask her out when she comes out outta the store?...While your credit card still works?..."

"Willow...Enough..."

"Ah, come on, Giles...You've been livin' like a monk..."

"With twenty-six young women..." arch look...

"Now you're scaring me a little..." Willow stared...

"Sir...we've accounted for all but the Slayers last sent to patrol...And Ms. Summers..." Andrew, emerging from the store...Giles frowning at the bag hanging from his left hand...Xander behind him...Anya's sandals still clutched, Willow sadly noted...Ms. Knowles now visible at the nearest checkout...

"Mr. Giles..." One of the two Slayers sent out for the latest patrol watch was hurrying over...Her partner following close...

"Althea...Gong Li...Anything wrong?...?" Giles now caught sight of a police officer headed his way...

"Well, sir...The good news is that we found Ms. Summers..."

"Ms. Summers took the bus and crashed it two blocks from here and is on her way to the hospital in a coma..." Gong Li interrupted...

"I hate your cliched Western 'good news, bad news' scenarios..." she explained, glaring at Althea...

***



"Buffy...Speak to me..." Dawn spoke gently to the comatose Slayer...Now hooked to various pieces of hospital equipment...Breathing tube inserted, monitor blinking...

"Where the devil was she going?...And trying to drive standard?...Let alone a bus?..." Giles shook his head...Ms. Knowles, who'd joined the hospital-bound troop of Scoobies and Slayers, shaking her head in sympathy... "Does she do this sort of thing often...?"

"She said she had to go back..At the Gap..." Dawn noted, looking back to Giles from Buffy's bedside..." I thought she meant back to Saks...I mean, come on...It was 'The Gap'..." she explained to the group eyeing her...Willow, Xander, Kennedy, several other Slayers, apart from Giles and Ms. Knowles...Andrew dispatched for Slayer crowd control in the hallway...

"Back?...You don't suppose she meant Sunnydale?..." Giles asked...

"What?...To get something she left or didn't turn off at the house that no longer exists?...I don't think so..." Willow frowned...

"She was going back for William..." Xander, still holding memorial sandals, said quietly... "I wish I'd gone with her...Besides my being able to drive standard...I never should have left An there like that..."

"Xander..." several sympathetic sighs...Willow, various Slayers...

I claim those nice shoes when the odd one-eyed boy sleeps...Gong Li noted to another Slayer...

"William...?" Dawn blinked...

Just when I thought we were done with Spike at last...she sighed...Oh...A memory vision came to her...Sunnydale collapsing into the great Crater...

Right...We are...

Oh...Gee...She found herself blinking back tears...Noting them in the eyes of a number of the others...

"William?..." a cry from the hall...Followed by sobbing sounds...

"It's all right, Andy..." Dawn called...

***

"Who?"



Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present…With help from an Immortal source.



Part II…

***

The hospital having restricted the group monitoring Buffy to four in her room...The rest in defensive mode lining the corridor outside where not off to complete the bankruptcy of the Royal Council of Antiquarians and Library Scientists in the hospital's cafeteria...

"She'll be ok, Dawn..." Willow noted to the steadfast junior Summers, still by Buffy's bedside after two days...



"Ok...?" Dawn frowned... "If you count being dead, this is her third coma...The neurologist's sure she's going to make the cover of the New England Medical Journal..."

"Headlining NEMJ?...Sweet..." Willow beamed..."Hey, I just made a medical..."

Ummn...Sorry...She eyed the staring others...Bad to make puns...Even the elusive medical variety...Right now...Sorry...

Xander managing to slip her a brief thumb's up...

Aw...

"We still have no clear idea as to why she left or where she was going..." Giles noted...Waving a hand to Willow's look...Hey, Xander...He, the one who sees all...

"I agree Xander's suggestion may be the correct one...But she may also have been contacted...Delusional...Even Dawn may be right about the First attempting another try..."

'Even Dawn'?...Dawn glared...

"Until she comes out of the coma and tells us why, we must assume there's some potential dangerous force at work here..." Giles continued... "She's got to be guarded night and day...

"Covered it, Giles..." Kennedy, to his left in chair, nodded... "Three shifts of five Slayers...Three in room, two in hall...In hospital...Three shifts of three patrolling the grounds..."

"Very good..." Giles nodded...

Kennedy giving Willow in her lap an arch look and high-five...

"Try to impress on them to look like normal visitors as much as possible..." he noted..."Andrew...?"

"Ms. Rosenberg and I conducted a full magics sweep of the perimeter at 15:00 hrs today, sir...No signs of demonic/magical activity..." formal nod to his partner in Kennedy's lap who returned nod...

"Fine...Please continue such sweeps periodically...Dawn...?"

"Hmmn?..." she blinked awake, mentally thumbed...Was I supposed to do something?...

"Go to the apartment with Willow, now...And go to bed...You've been here for two days...You must get some rest..."

"I'm fine..." she frowned...Blinking...

"We don't need two Summers girls in comas, Dawn...If anything happens whoever's on duty will contact you..."

"I'm fine..." she repeated... "You go home..."

"Actually, I intend to...Andrew will take over for me for the next shift...We're no good to her exhausted, Dawn...Now go home and rest and come back after you've slept and eaten something..."

"I can't leave her...She'll go..." she murmured... "Like...Mom...And Daddy...All gone...I..."

She blinked at the group... "I'm fine..."

"Come on, Dawn..." Willow got out of the chair... "We'll see if they have anything Buffy might like to chow on when she wakes up..."

"Dawn?..."



"Finally..." Giles sighed at the sleeping Dawn... "Xander, help Willow get her to the apartment...I'll be off myself...Call me at my cell if you need me..."

"Not heading straight to bed...?" Willow grinned... "As in...Got a date with a certain Brit store manager?..."

"As in...Shut up Willow and call me if you need me...Good night, people..." Giles told them...

A last, gentle pat of Buffy's still arm as he left...

."Nite, Giles..." Xander called...

"Lets get Sleeping Beauty here to bed..." Willow took one of Dawn's arms...Xander the other...

"See ya, babe..." she called to Kennedy who'd begun discussing patrol perimeters with Andrew...

"Love ya..." Kennedy called...Waving...

"Mom...Don't..." Dawn mumbled... "Don't go...Mom!..."

Willow eyed Xander...

"She'll be ok..." he nodded...

"I'm thinking about you..." she said, quietly...

***

"So...Ms. Summers is no better...?" Olive looked up from her plate...

"Neither worse nor better..." Giles fingered his glass of wine...

"I'm sorry...It must be so hard on you..."

"I've been very close to both the Summers girls for many years...There have been many times like this one...But..."

"It never gets easier..." she smiled wanly...

"No..."

"Still...You've saved the lives of these young women in a terrible crisis...Not a common achievement for a high school librarian..." she grinned...

"Please...I should be fortunate if Fox News doesn't charge me with perversion... 'What was a high school librarian doing in a bus with twenty-four young women during the Sunnydale disaster?'..."

"There were more than twenty-four...To start?..." Olive asked, cautiously...

"Yes..." he nodded...Rubbing fingers gently... "More..."

"It's the ones you don't save you remember..."

He stared at her wan face...

"I've done my share of rescue work in a few different places..." she replied to his inquiring look...

"One keeps asking oneself...Could I have saved them all?...Where did I fail the others?...What did I do wrong?...Even when nothing, it seems, could have been done..." she said quietly...



"I do..." he nodded...

"And sometimes...One's even had to sacrifice some to save others..." she went on...

"It's the nature of things..." she concluded...As he looked at her...

"She sacrificed someone to save the others, didn't she?..." she asked... "As you did..."

"Worse..." he shook his head... "I..." he paused... "Well..."

"I'm sorry...I had no right to press you like that..."

"No...You're very kind, Olive...I'm glad you do have some experience in such matters...I've needed to talk about...All of this...A little...Though, just right now..."

"I understand, Rupert..."

"It has been a comfort...You're being here...Thank you..." he smiled at her...

"I'm glad...I only wish I knew you all better and could be more so..."

"You've put your own life on hold the past few days...You couldn't have done more..."

"Well, you and your ladies gave me an unexpected holiday...I had to return the favor..." she smiled...

"Though it will be back to my routine on Monday..."

"Good...That you'll be able to return to it, I mean...I only wish I could do the same...And poor Dawn and Buffy as well...All of them..."

"But not all the girls are Sunnydalers...?" she asked... "Some were just visiting and can go home?...If one can just 'go home' after such an experience..."

"They can't...Not completely, I'm afraid..." he sighed...

"I'm ruining your quiet dinner with my talk..." Olive shook her head... "I'd meant to be light and bright...And here I am talking of difficult things I know too little of to help you with..."

"You do help..." he smiled faintly...

***

Two am...The Palmerston General Hospital where Buffy lay, still comatose in her room...

A figure in the hallway...Waiting...

"Ma'am...?" A Slayer on guard recognized the figure...The young woman...

"Hello..." Ms. Knowles nodded... "I came to let you know that Mr. Giles went to his room a little while ago...Ms. Rosenberg asked me to tell someone when he finally did get to bed..."

I live past the hospital...Up the next road, so I thought it was easiest to stop by...she explained... "I know Ms. Rosenberg was headed to sleep herself, poor thing...Please let her know...Good night..."

"Sure..." the Slayer, Maureen... Nodded...

Ms. Knowles proceeded past the nurses' station...Stopped by the elevator...And slipped into the nearest room when Maureen turned to check the adjoining hallway...And the few nurses on duty at this hour had either entered other rooms or were occupied at the station...



She careful emerged a moment later...In lab coat...Chart in hand...Slipping carefully up the hallway toward Buffy's room...

Now...If she'd heard the schedule correctly...

The Slayer by the door did not know her...She eyed the Slayer... "Are you a family member?..."

"Cousin..." Akira nodded...

"Dr. Williams...I want to check Ms. Summers' injuries, monitor, and review her meds...Excuse me..."

"Sure.." Akira pushed the door open...

"Stacy?...Doctor's visit..."

Stacy, smiling... "Hey doc..."

So far, so good...Olive thought...

"I'll just be a moment..." she eyed Stacy...And another girl, a tall brunette seated in a chair at Buffy's side...

"We have permission to stay with cousin Buffy...All night..." Stacy noted...

"That's fine...But I need to look at her...If you'd excuse me..." she drew the curtain...

"I don't like to leave cousin Buffy..." the seated girl said, holding Buffy's limp right hand firmly...

"Of course...That's fine..." Olive nodded... "Just let me have a look at her chart...Yes..."

She thumbed through the chart...

"That's odd..." she stared...

"What?..." Stacy asked...

"This is hardly a standard med for her condition..." Olive frowned at the chart... "Let me have a look at her monitor...Excuse me..." she moved to the bed... "I'll need to have a listen to her lungs..." she pulled out a stethoscope...Placing it under Buffy's nightgown onto her chest...

"Is anything wrong?..." the other girl asked...

"No, no...I just wonder about this med...Very unusual in her condition...I may need to call about it...Well, her vitals are good..."

An alarm blared...

Right on time...Olive beamed a brief moment...A worried look back when Stacy turned to her...

"What's that?..."

"I've no idea..." Olive shook her head... "Sounds like an intruder breaking in...It's not our usual emergency summons..."

"Sounds different from the alarms they used before..." the other brunette girl noted... "You better check quick, Stas...I'll stay here with the doc..."

"Just a mo...I'll be right back..." Stacy headed out...

"I'm sure it's nothing..." Olive told the brunette...Shining a crystal briefly which gave a flash...

"Everything is fine...The doctor checked Buffy and everything is fine..."



"Everything's fine..." the girl repeated...Blinking...

Olive turned to the still Buffy...

***

"Ms. Summers...Listen, if you can hear me...I represent the one branch of the Addams-Walthrop family surviving...The one branch, that is, that Cicely entrusted her secret to...Ms. Summers...If you are seeking justice for my ancestor, William...I can help you...I..."

The monitor went critical...Alarms sounding...

Stacy entered...Looking round...Hey!...

"Evey..." she turned to the seated brunette...Still a bit dazed...

"You..." she grabbed at Olive, pulling her away from the now writhing Slayer...

"It's fine...She's coming round, I think..." Olive tried... "Please let go of me so I can help her..."

"No..." Stacy maintained a grip... "You've done something..."

A team rushed in, Giles, Dawn, and Willow on their heels, trying to follow...

"Ms. Knowles?...What are you...Doctor, is she...?"

"Out!..." the team's lead doctor waved...Orderlies turning to move the six strangers out...Ms. Knowles having removed her coat on the team's entry...

They stood outside the room...Eyeing each other...Moving down the hall to a side hallway as the medical staff insistently urged them on, out of the way...Two more of the Slayers on duty hurrying down the hallway to them...

"She came in, claiming to be a doctor..." Stacy began... "She's done something to Evey..."

"The girl's fine, Rupert..." Olive shook her head... "I'm sorry to have had to..."

"What were you doing in that room?..." Giles asked...A cold tone...Ms. Knowles eyeing him silently...

"I'm ok..." Evey noted... "She flashed something on me...Sorry, Mr. Giles..."

"It's fine Evelyn...Fortunately, we were coming in...And the staff responded quickly..."

"I bet she's the First, Giles..." Dawn insisted... "She lured Buffy into driving standard..."

"Dawn, she's not the First..." Giles shook his head...

This is lookin' like a short romance...Willow sighed...Wait...How would Giles...?

Why, Giles, you little British...She grinned at his hard face...Dinner clearly went well last night...

Xander entered, Andrew following...Willow hurried to them...

"She's ok..." she told them... "The doc and guys are with her..."

Xander eyed her, then stared where Giles, a furious Dawn, and four angry Slayers were apparently giving nice Ms. Knowles the once-over...Andrew staring as well...

"We've been had guys..." Willow sighed...



Though that's not necessarily a total nix on romance for our team...

"So...Impersonating a doctor...Disabling a Slayer...You don't work for Saks, do you?...You were following us?..." Giles' voice harsh...

Olive sighed...Rupert...

"It must be very nice to live on a planet where people can leave their jobs to pursue ridiculous adventures at the drop of a hat, Rupert...But what assistant manager of a large retail chain could leave her destroyed store and abandon her life for no more reason than a romantic pursuit?..."

It seemed charming at the time...Willow sighed...Hey...You notice she didn't say 'For shoes'...she thought, eyeing Giles...She...Likes you...Risque click of tongue on teeth...

Giles pausing to glare Willow off...

Right...Attack on our Buf and our Evey...Anger the motivation...She turned to glare in turn at Olive...

"I borrowed a badge in the confusion at Saks in order to introduce myself to your group...Yes, I have been monitoring you since you left Sunnydale...As before, another relative, my cousin, kept track of you and your people there...At rather great cost to him, I should say..."

Hmmn...Well...Things did work out in the end with Jenny...Willow thought hopefully... Before she got brutally murdered...

"Why are you here?...And what are your intentions?..."

She hesitated...

"Must we use..."

"I am the direct descendant of William Soames Walthrop's sister, Amelia..." Ms. Knowles replied...

"William Who?...Who?..." Willow asked...

Oh-oh...Dawn blinked...

Oh...Andrew nodded... "That explains it..."

"What?..." Xander asked...

"Www.WilliamTheBloody-factvsfiction.com..." Andrew, thoughtful look... "Though, one can find useful if unsubstantiated material at ..."

"I see..." Ms. Knowles frowned... "So you people couldn't even be bothered to learn his true name...?"

"You're Spike's niece?..." Dawn stared...

Spike's...? Willow stared...

"We never use that name, Dawn...But of William Soames Walthrop, multiple generations removed...Yes..." Ms. Knowles nodded...

"Too k you a while to come after him..." Willow noted...

"While he was in the grip of his demon there was little we could do for him...Being ordinary humans...Except minimize the damage he did when possible, seek any information to help him we could obtain, and watch to see Cicely returned for him as she'd sworn to do..."

"So...There really is a Cicely..." Andrew began...

"Cicely?...Who's Cicely...?" Willow asked...



Crash...Cries...

There was now a commotion in the hospital corridor outside Buffy's room...Staff running, a call for Security...A wheelchair patient speeding their way, at an admirable rate...And over the cries and noise...A distinctively British-accented voice...

"Back, you!!...What's happened to this place?!!...Fetch Dr. Barnes!...You there, girl!...Oh..Pardon me, sir...Get my clothes!!...Now!!!..."

The crowd in the hallway thinned, Slayers at Giles' glance now moving to secure the area...Urging in their turn the doctors and staff back...

"Buffy?!..." Dawn stared at the blonde figure waving stake...IV tube flapping from her arm...

"Who took my clothes?!...What sort of fiendish opium den is this place?!!...You?!..." directed to a startled nurse... "You can't be a matron, what are you?!...Where the devil am I?!...And how can you let these poor wretched women wander about here half-dressed?!..." she waved at the Slayers and various staff...

"Buffy?..." Dawn stepped forward... "Buffy, it's me...Dawn..."

"Who?..." Buffy stared...

"Dawn, Buffy..."

"We've established that, you lewd little thing...Who?..." she sniffed... "Human, eh?..."

"Yeah, of course, Buffy...You're going be..."

Lewd...?

"Who?..."

First base...Xander and Willow thought...

***

"I've told you...I've told you fifty times...My name is Cicely Anne Walthrop...nee Addams...I entered this..." she looked round the waiting room they'd finally persuaded her to follow them to... "...a...Hospital on November 12th, 1880...And now..." she looked round again...

"Someone spoke to me...In that room..." she gave a narrow stare at the group about her...Giles, Willow, Dawn, Kennedy, Gong Li... "Told me she was a relative..." she eyed the group... "She's not here...Where is she?..."

"We thought it best Ms. Knowles not be involved in this first interview..." Giles explained...

"Bad idea, sir...Bring her at once..."

"Buffy..."

Glare... "Is that your pet rabbit or something you're addressing, sir...?"

"Very well...Miss Walthrop..."

"Mrs. Walthrop..." she sternly correctly...

Mrs?....Xander sighed to Willow...We are in it deep...Mrs?...

"Andy's getting all his material...Lets see what's there..." she noted...

"Mrs. Walthrop, then..." Giles, patiently... "You must let us evaluate this situation..."



"You...Mr...?" narrow look... "Sorry...Didn't catch it before..."

"Giles...Rupert Giles..."

"A pleasure, Mr. Giles...Under other, happier circumstances...Are you...?" she paused...

"A Watcher?..." tense tone...

"Yes, I am..." he nodded... "You know then of our Council...?"

She's not kidding, is she?...Dawn hissed to Willow...

Don't think so...Willow hissed back... "Andy says there's a Cicely legend associated with..."

"Be quiet, ladies..."Buffy frowned..."Know of, sir...?..Are you trying to deceived me?.... I swear by God, sir..." harsh tone...

It's like a Kate Winslet/Cate Blanchett film in 3D...Xander noted to Andrew as they stood by the doorway... "Only with Kate/Cate a foot or so shorter..."

"I'm not, Mrs. Walthrop...How do you know of the Council?...Are you an antiquarian or...?"

Even if she's not crazy or a demon presence, it doesn't have to be...She could be his mom...Willow quietly noted to Dawn, hopefully...

"You're kidding..." Xander stared at Andrew...Who shook his head..."Only a legend...But they all have a basis in fact..."

"Guys...?" Willow came over...

."You are lying, Mr. Giles..." Buffy, cold voice... "Your eyes give you away, sir...You know very well who I am, how I know the Council...And why, if you really are a representative of that unholy order, I will kill you and all such present in the next ten minutes if you don't produce the young lady who spoke to me..."

If her tenth grade English teacher could only hear her now...If she hadn't had to stake his vamp, I mean...Willow hissed to Dawn and Xander...

If only I'd thought to recharge the battery on this video cam...Andrew sighed...

"Buffy..." Willow tried now... "Giles would never lie to..."

"Bring her...Now..." Buffy, icy stare...Glance to...

"Oh, God!..." she eyed Xander, seeing him clearly for the first time... "Henry!...Oh, Henry...Thank God, you're here..." she rose, shoving Giles to the side... "Henry, what the devil's going on?!...Do you know?...Henry..." she paused, eyeing him as she stood in front of him... "And why are you wearing such clothes?..."

Ummn...Xander blinked at her...

"Henry?..." she looked round, eyes narrowing... "If any one of you did something to my cousin...?" Frigid tone...

Cousin...Xander sighed...

Right...

Ummn...Sorry, An...Cousin...Cousin is good...

"You got it wrong, Buf..." Willow tried... "This is Xander, your friend...We don't know any Henry..."

"Sandler?..." Buffy repeated, after a fashion... "Sandler?..."



"Xander...From Alexander..." Willow explained..."And I'm..."

"Henry Alexander..." Buffy stated, cutting Willow's intro off...Questioning look?...No?...

"No, I think you got the wrong person, Buffy..." Xander shook his head... "I'm sorry..."

"Buffy..." Dawn began...

"Will someone put a decent outfit on that prating child?..." Buffy asked... "You people should be ashamed of yourselves...Not even the fiends of Hell would be so lewd...Look, girl...Dawn Buffy or whatever...Go outside and play and let us finish our talk..."

"Hey..."

"Best to do as she wishes for now, Dawn..." Giles noted...

"Absolutely..." Buffy nodded... "And speaking of what I wish...And have someone find you some decent clothing...!" she called to the departing, fuming Dawn...

"Very well..." Giles sighed... "But we stay to monitor your conversation..."

"Agreed..." Buffy nodded... "I've nothing, unlike you, Watcher, to keep secret..."

Willow eyed Xander...And Dawn, poking head in from hallway...

***

"How did you find me?..." Buffy asked Olive as they sat, chairs beside each other...Giles, Willow, and Xander standing... "Did William...Reach you, somehow?..."

"It was really just our usual surveillance, Cicely...We've awaited your return for a century..." Olive, eagerly...

Is it a good idea to keep letting her call Buffy, 'Cicely'...? Willow hissed to Giles... "I heard in Psych class you shouldn't encourage multiple personalities..."

Of course...Magics Malifactorum says, in the case of reincarnation...Giles put up a hand...Later, Willow...

Thank God Wells went off on some errand...

"When William's demon and Ms. Summers became opponents, we wondered..." Olive continued... "But he'd gotten involved with Slayers in the past...Apparently drawn to them, in spite of the danger..."

"Seeking me...Oh...I knew..." Buffy, anxiously..Hmmn...? "How many Slayers...?"

"Well, he killed two..."

"Two?...Permanently?...Or...?"

"So far as we know...They never rose...Mr. Giles?..." Olive looked up...Giles shaking his head...

A visible look of relief on Buffy's face... "Good...Ummn...That he never condemned the poor girls to a living death, I mean...And those were the only ones he met before...?" she glanced down at herself...

"Does she sound?..." Willow asked...

"Jealous...Oh, yeah..." Xander nodded...

Lord, I can make out my thighs distinctly...Buffy eyed her trouser-clad thighs...Blushing a bit...



Thank God at least they had an overcoat of some sort for me to wear over this flimsy thing...she eyed the white blouse she now wore...

"And Ms. Summers' record, filtering through to us, sounded worthy of you...Then William's demon seemed increasingly obsessed with you...With Ms. Summers..."

"He was?...Really?..." Buffy, pleased...

Hmmn...Wait...

"Mirror..." she looked round...

"That was a politely put order, people..." she frowned at the group...

"Buffy...That's not an absolutely swell idea..." Dawn tried...Having gradually managed to slip back in from the doorway...

"Swell?...How delightfully American...What is she doing back in here, still undressed?..." Buffy glared... "And I am waiting on that mirror..."

Willow pulled a small compact out, opening...

"Snuff?..." Buffy eyed the little box...

The red-haired wanton creature certainly dressed as the tales of opium addicts suggested...

"Cosmetics..." Willow explained...Buffy taking the box from her gingerly...

Arghh!!...She stared at the image in horror... Hand to face...

"I'm dying...What?...What do I have?...It's consumption, isn't it?...Henry?..." she looked to Xander...

"Sorry...Sandler...Get me some food, anything at hand...You fiends!..." she turned on Giles... "Have you been starving me?!..."

"Buffy..." Willow, gently... "That's your look...You worked hard to look like that..."

Well, actually...Thanks to Slayer physiology...she thought...

"Are you mad?...I'm skeletal...I look like one of the Undead..."

Which could explain a lot in the romance department...Dawn noted to herself...

"...And what have I been doing to this hair?...Food...Anything..." she barked at Xander...Giles nodding to him...

"Sorry, Henry...er, Sandler..." she called as he left the room... "Bit on the edge, you know...?"

"I'm really not like this most days..." she sighed to Willow...So...She eyed the mirror...

"William's demon was obsessed?...With this?..."

"Hey..." an offended Dawn took up the Summers' cause... "My sis is a beauty...Men...Well, ok...Unmen...Die for her...Literally..."

"Ha, ha, ha, mmpf, ha...For her?..." Buffy chuckled, handing back the mirror to Willow... "Well, it does explain why a demon nature might become obsessed...The girl's practically dead now..."

"Giles?!..." Dawn turned to the stand-in parent...

"Dawn...I don't think this is an argument worth..."



"Listen, you..." she turned back to Buffy... "William loved her...Even with soul..."

Dawn...Giles sighed...

"Soul...?" Buffy stared... "You said...Soul?..." She looked at the others...

Oh-oh...Willow eyed Giles...

"Maybe I was speaking meteorologically..." Dawn tried...

"Metaphorically...And no, you weren't..." Buffy, eyeing the group...

Whoa...Metaphorically?...And no hint from Giles?...Willow stared...

I'm convinced...This is not Buffy...

"It's true, Cicely..." Olive nodded... "William regained his soul over a year ago...By his own efforts..."

Naturally...Buffy nodded...But beamed... Well...

"This explains it..." she smiled... "Obviously, I've been brought back to him in this emaciated form as God's apology for our unjust fate...You are very fortunate, Watcher..." she gave Giles a hard stare... "Now..." she leaned back...

"You can't take my sis' body..." Dawn glared...

"She vacated...I filled the vacuum...What little this body allowed..." Buffy shrugged...

"Nonsense..." Giles frowned... "We have no idea yet what you are...A memory fragment, a spirit, a demon, lying to us in your own turn, even an aberration of the mind...But what we will not do in any case is let you steal Buffy Summers' life...We must study what has happened here...And I warn you...You've seen that we have a large force of Slayers present..."

"Enough..." she waved a hand... "You're right...This matter requires careful study...Fine...Study away, Watcher...In the meantime..." she beamed again...

Lovely smile...Willow thought...But not Buffy's smile...

Xander entered, Andrew following...Both bearing Doublemeat Special bags...

"That smells divine...Please..." she reached for the bags... "But as I was saying...Oooh...Pomme frites...I love pomme frites..." she looked up...

Oh, God...Dawn sighed...Looking at Giles...

"...Where is my dear husband?..." blissfully innocent smile...

"...For the sake of your lives..." continued smile...Somewhat less innocent...

Even Olive trying hard to look anywhere else...

***

"Who?"



Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!



Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present…With help from an Immortal source.



Part III…

"Maybe she's back in the coma..." Andrew suggested...

"It's been nearly an hour since Ms. Knowles told her..." he noted...Eyeing the still figure of Buffy, still seated in waiting room chair, in heavy overcoat...Staring silently...

"I'm really sorry Buffy..." Willow made her fifty-four attempt..."We all felt bad when William...Passed on..." she continued...She eyed Ms.Knowles...

You're the niece, removed...Say something...That doesn't involve vengeance, please...

"But you did nothing to save him..." Buffy suddenly spoke...Voice calm...And a bit more menacing for that...

Hey...She's back...Xander tried a friendly tease...Buffy's icy stare quickly nipping that approach...

"He wanted to save you...And the world...He was our Champion..." Willow replied... "We were all proud of..."

"Were you proud of him, Watcher?..." Buffy looked over at Giles...

"Cicely..." Olive began... "Quiet..." Buffy waved her off...

"I asked you a question, Watcher..." she stared at Giles...Who returned her stare firmly...

"I barely knew him, Mrs. Walthrop..." he replied... "The creature I had known until very recently being a fiend from Hell who murdered thousands, perhaps tens of thousands...If I could have I would have destroyed him long ago..."

Not helping here, Giles...Xander sighed...

"And...After he retrieved his soul...No help from you..."

"None...I wouldn't have known how if he had asked it of me...Except by inflicting a worse suffering on him..."

"And after his soul returned...?"

"Buffy...Giles spared him...Even when the chip kept him unable to kill people..." Dawn cut in...

"No..." Giles shook his head... "It's best to be honest about this...That was solely your...Buffy's...Decision..."

"After your husband...If that is so...Retrieved his soul...I was cautious...I warned Buffy that even if the soul was back, William remained linked to Hell...A danger to her...A distraction and a potential tool of Hell...Particularly with the First Evil in play..."

"You left an innocent man to suffer..." she accused him...

"The Council's position on vampires and claims of their restoration or redemption is quite clear...I..."



."...Stamp the death warrants?..."

"Buffy...We've told you..." Willow cut in... "Giles didn't kill William...He died fighting for you and Humanity...You should be proud of..."

"Damn you...Who are you to talk to me like that?..." Buffy glared, looking Willow over... "I don't know you...What is your name, anyway?..."

"I'm your best friend, Willow Rosenberg..."

"Really?...Best friend, eh?..."

"Yeah..."

"Well... 'Best friend'...If you don't want my stake in your chest...You'd best keep quiet for now..."

"Buffy..." Xander began...

"Human or no, I can kill you all without a moment's remorse..." she noted... "Multiple Slayers or no..."

"That would be a poor ending to your story, Cicely..." Giles replied... "Your husband safe in Heaven, his salvation accomplished...You in Hell for murders committed by your own human soul...Condemned forever..."

She stared a moment...

"He can't be...Gone..." she said, quietly... "Without me...?"...Not a tear, Willow noted...

She turned to Ms. Knowles... "You mentioned..."she paused... "Justice...For William..."

Olive nodded...

"...And you refer to..."

"The restoration of his reputation...And the exposure of his and your murderers..." Olive replied...A cool glance Giles' way...

"I know who murdered my husband..." Buffy said coldly... "Though myself?...I..."

"Yes...And by the same agents, we believe..."

She stood up... "You have proof..." her voice calm...

"We do...Including an eyewitness..."

Willow eyed Xander...Murdered?...

Xander eyed Willow...Eyewitness...?

Both eyed Giles whose face was inscrutable...

Oh...My...God...Willow blinked...

She said he was lying...And...

"What...Eyewitness...?" Buffy asked...Pulling her coat tighter...Can someone show me how this dratted thing works?, she flapped the zipper...Dawn moving to assist...

"You know...Knew him...The Immortal..." Olive replied...



"Henri?..." she asked...A wan smile... "He survived?..."

And followed the path of redemption you set him on..." Ms. Knowles nodded...

"Where is he?...Can I...?"

"He's quite famous these days...Under various titles...He lives in Italy now, near Rome..."

"She has some pal in Italy she hasn't seen in 125 years?...And we're all dogmeat?..."

Willow hissed to Xander...

"Exceptin' maybe you...'Henry'...Hey, you think?..."

"This Henry guy...Does he look like Xander?..." Willow spoke up...

"Henri...French..." Buffy snapped... "Henry Foxcroft was my cousin...Henri was a good friend..."

"Who never forgot your kindness or his promise to you..." Olive noted... "He's helped for years to keep an eye on William...And alerted us to your possible return..."

"I'll go to see him as soon as I'm able...If I must steal to do it..." Buffy nodded... "Now, we were discussing justice..." She turned to Giles...

"I want some answers from you, Watcher...You knew who I was when I identified myself...You know what your Council did to me and my husband..."

Hmmn?...Willow and Dawn stared...

"I would be entirely justified in killing you...To begin with..." she noted...

"Andy..." Xander moved closer to the door...Where Andrew had gone to make sure the Slayers were in force at hand...

"But...You are only a tool...And my host or whatever 'Buffy' is..." she eyed the coat and still rather shockingly exposed legs... "...Apparently still was close to you, poor fool...And you're quite right, I've no desire to endanger my soul at this time for a petty revenge...So for now, after I've eaten...I'll settle for those answers...Some decent clothes...And..." her voice now faltered a bit...

"I...Want to see where my husband died..."

Tall order, Buf...Willow thought...

***

The rather odd but delicious, Buffy'd noted, breakfast of sorts over, Giles had managed to persuade her to stay in her room and receive a full exam in the morning...It being rather dark still to go running back to destroyed Sunnydale even if a vehicle could be obtained...

To which she'd consented on condition her 'niece-in-law' of sorts...The one person she seemed willing to trust, Willow noted sadly...The one who lied to and betrayed us...Stayed in the room with her to alert her to any untoward practices...

"Untoward practices"...Dawn blinked...

"Brit for 'something up our sleeves, pull a fast one'..." Willow explained... "She doesn't trust us..."

"So much for having the docs drug her..." Dawn frowned... "Come on, it's what we were gonna do..." she eyed Willow...

"Maybe still if we could get her to let them put the IV back in..." she went on...

"Don't think Ms. Knowles will let her let them..." Willow shook her head...



"William's niece...Tracking us all these years..." Dawn sighed... "So much for Giles' love life boost..."

One never knows...Willow thought...

"Course he did carry on with Ms. Calendar even after the gypsy thing..." Dawn reflected... "But this one is pretty rough..."

"Ladies..." Giles emerged from Buffy's hospital room... "She wants you both...And you, Xander..."

Hey...Willow grinned...Now that's more like it...

Unless she wants to kill us....Not needing us as much as Giles right now...

"Hello..." Buffy addressed them rather formally...Sitting on the edge of her bed, heavy sweater and long skirt provided by one of the Slayers of more conservative culture...

"I'd like to apologize for my earlier behavior...I understand you all were close to...Me...Or Buffy...I wasn't sure where I'd arrived...I had to assume I was among enemies..."

"No prob..." Dawn nodded...

"Thank you..." slight frown at Dawn's continued lewd style of dress...

"Mr. Giles...?" she turned to Giles...Who rose...

"Mrs. Walthrop has asked that I confirm some of her statements..." he paused...

"It is true I had heard through the Council of Cicely...And of her connection to William..."

Council'd keep tabs on William the Bloody and his family, natch...Willow nodded...

"It is true the Council had a hand in the events that led to William's transformation...And later Cicely's death, both in 1880..."

"So that's why..." Dawn eyed Buffy... "I'm sorry...That's awful...But why would the Council have wanted William a vamp?...Or you dead?...And you know, Giles would never have..."

"Please..." Buffy raised a hand...

Hmmn...You know...Willow thought...

Cicely sure seems to know a lot about the Slayer...

"Oh-oh..." Xander said... "Wil...I think..."

"I'd like you all to meet Cicely Addams Walthrop...The greatest Slayer of all time until Buffy..." Giles said quietly...

Oh...Willow nodded...

Yikes..

Buffy eyed Giles....

"And...?" she began...

"...And the greatest dread of the Council since we arranged her death in 1880...I have lied to you all...Or at least, concealed things from you and Buffy..." he said simply...



Giles...Willow stared...

"I was warned that William might appear and try to contact Buffy long before he came to Sunnydale...Though the true reasons were not immediately given to me...I was led to believe he would make Buffy his focus, given his propensity for attacking Slayers...But I was also warned...Ordered...To leave him to her dealing...Not to try to eliminate him unless he seemed poised to defeat Buffy and possibly transform her...Or..."

"Or..." Buffy, coldly...

"If he regained his soul..." Giles finished, not looking at any of them...

****

"Who?"



Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present…With help from an Immortal source.



Part IV…

***

"So..." Dawn eyed Giles as she, he, Willow, Xander, Andrew, and two Slayers, assigned by Andrew as Councilor bodyguards over Giles' protests...Buffy seeming a bit mercurial just now, despite her promise of forbearance...Sat in the waiting room...The hospital staff, barely restored to a semblance of order, still eyeing them suspiciously from time to time...

Buffy currently sleeping with her 'niece-in-law' of sorts, Ms. Olive Knowles in careful attendance...

"You never told Buffy...Or us..."

"No...And I've told you why..." Giles said, quietly...

"It wasn't the Council's decision to make..." Dawn noted...

"There was no way to be sure there was any connection of her and William until..."

"...Until she proved it...Giles..." Xander sighed... "You should've told us...At least after Spike got the soul back..."

"And perhaps lose Buffy to Cicely?...In the midst of her battle with the First...As we seem to be now..." Giles noted...

"Is that all you cared about?... Beating the First?..." Dawn glared... "If you'd told Buffy...God...She would've freaked, maybe...But...It wouldn't have come on her like this..."

"Have we lost her?..." Willow asked... "Is Cicely here for good?..."

"It's not right, even if I feel bad for her..." Dawn shook her head... "She can't have Buffy..."



"What if she is Buffy...?" Xander asked...

They looked at him...

"Buffy might be Cicely...Just no memory till now..."

"But she doesn't remember Buffy...At all..." Dawn pointed out... "Not even me..."

"Well, Dawn..." Willow began...

Xander waving a bit...Wil...

"I'm only a fake memory, you mean?..." Dawn frowned... "And now I'm gone..."

"Sorry..."

"Well, I haven't dissolved yet...And you all remember me..."

"Right?..." she eyed them...

Sure, yeah...Our lil' Dawny...Willow and Xander nodded hastily...

"So she oughta...Buffy's been pushed out...For now...And we gotta get her back..."

"We could try an exorcism..." Willow suggested... "Though I kinda feel bad, doing it to Cicely..."

"We mustn't proceed without more information...She's agreed to let us study her...I think we should not try anything at this moment without that study..." Giles... "After all, it is quite possible the cause is a physical one..."

"Konked on the head, she's Cicely..." Xander nodded... "I've seen that one many times on TV..."

"So...We konk once more and she's Buffy..." Dawn insisted...

"We 'konk' as you put it without knowing what we're doing and we put her in a coma for good...Or more likely, turn her completely against us..." Giles noted...

"For now, she's willing to cooperate to some extent...Lets see what we can learn..." he said...

All right?...he eyed their faces...Vague, hesitant nods...

"Giles...Don't take this wrong..." Willow looked at him... "But...Can we trust you and the Council...?"

He looked at her and the others, whose faces, no longer vague, eyed him carefully...Saying nothing...

***

"I know this must be hard for you..." Buffy looked at Dawn now beside her in the cargo van Giles had rented...Just barely large enough in the empty rear to handle the entire group...Now uncomfortably seated on cushions...

"The bus was easier on the derriere...But I'll live..."

"I mean...Me...And your sister being...Gone..."

"Yeah...But she's a fighter...She'll be back..."

"I didn't force her out, Miss Summers...You should know that..."



"Yeah...Well...You may as well know...I'm not really Buffy's sister..."

"Oh...?"

"I'm an energy key...A goddess'...Some monks locked me up in human form and used Buffy in some way as the template...And stuffed fake memories of me in her and all of us...So I'm not really Buffy's sister..."

"I'm...Sorry...A goddess, you say?..."

"Dead...Buffy took her out..."

"Nice...I beat a minor deity once...A male...Fellow somewhat like Thor, the Norse god..."

"The one with the hammer?..."

"Yes...You people still read mythology...?"

"I guess...Everybody knows Thor...He used to have his own comic strip..."

"Comic...Strip?..." Buffy asked...

"I'll show you when we hit a town..."

"Are you cold?...Perhaps you should zip your zipper thing up..." Buffy eyed the coat she'd managed to get the girl to put on...

"Buffy, it's not cold...And I'm dressed fine for nowadays...Better than a lot of girls I know..."

"Trollops?..." she asked...

"Well...A couple are headed that way..." Dawn grinned faintly..."Come on, it must be nice not to wear a corset, right?..."

"So long as I eat a quarter of a single meal a day and wretch that up..." Buffy frowned... "What kind of fiend invented this barbaric practice of trying to maintain the body weight of a dying infant..."

"Gay fashion designers...Well, you've never had to worry...What with the Slayer energy and all..."

"Not very happy fashion designers if I catch up to them...I hope you eat...Ummn...Dawn..."

"Thanks...For using the name...Yeah, I chow pretty well...Still got the teenage metabolism..."

"Oh...Nice...But you said you were not my...Buffy's...Sister...In fact?..."

"Made from her to be her sister...Artificial, I guess..."

"Forgive me...You sound more like a daughter..."

"Buffy and I try to avoid thinking like that...And I remember my mom...Her mom..."

"I see...Well, I shall try to think of you as my new sister...Is that all right?...I never had a sister..."

"Sure...Till Buffy comes back..."

"Certainly..."

"I'm really sorry about Spike...William..."



"Not as much as I..." Buffy sighed... "But if his soul was free at the end...Perhaps that's as much as I could have done for him...No..." she suddenly shook her head...

"We deserved to have a life...Together..."

And if there is a God in Heaven...Whatever the price...

"It's rough...Xander lost Anya then too...Though things hadn't worked out so well for them..."

"Sandler had a wife...?"

"Ex-fiancee...The marriage never quite came off..." she yawned...

"You've been up all night...You should rest..." Buffy told her...

"Yeah, a little...You won't do anything stupid like trying to hop out of the van?...Or kill everybody while I'm out?..."

"No...I promise..."Buffy put up a hand...

"Talk to Willow...She misses you...And it hurts that you've been keepin' with Ms. Knowles all the time..." Dawn noted quietly...

"I'll try...Go to sleep..."

"Is she singing a lullaby?..." Xander eyed Willow as they watched Buffy stroke Dawn's hair, singing softly to her...

"Anything's better than the threats and clothing commentary...Even Buffy's singing..." Willow noted...

"Yeah...But she actually sounds good..."

"Yeah...Oh...Our Buffy is gone, Xander...Gone..." he patted her, indicating for Kennedy to take her...

"Sandler?..." Buffy had left Dawn and come over...

"Yeah..." Xander, resigned...

"I'm sorry to hear from Dawn that you lost someone...The other day..."

"Thanks..." he nodded...

"She must have been very special..."

"Yeah..."

"I'm truly sorry I don't remember her..."

"Not your fault...No prob..."

"You look so much like my Henry..." she sat by him.. "I hope that doesn't bother you...He was like a brother to me all my life...Even after the Council turned on me, I still had him..."

"I'm glad..."

Brother...Condemned throughout time I guess...he sighed...

Sorry, An...I didn't mean for it to come out that way...



"I didn't mean to frighten the others earlier...Though... "

"I understand...Lose your guy to Drusilla...Wake up a century later in the middle of a bunch of Slayers and co...Freak city..."

"Yes...'Freak city'...Hmmn..." eyes narrowed...

"You know of Drusilla...?" she asked, trying to keep it light...

"We've met...She's the only vamp Buffy never quite beat in a straight fight..."

Damn...

Though on the other hand...

"And you know..."

"LA...Los Angeles...Last we heard, anyway...Wait...Buffy, you're not going after her?...Not now, anyway..."

"I'm going to see my husband's grave...Then we'll see..."

"You're in no shape to meet Dru...She'd kill you..."

"No...She won't...But you're right...I will wait until the time is right..."

"She's not to blame, you know...Her soul..."

"I only blame the demon...I've no interest in the soul...But it's kind of you to be concerned...Henry was always trying to keep me from getting in over my depth, poor fellow...I loved him dearly for it..."

"Well...Maybe there's always one of us to look out for you..." he smiled...

"Good...Pardon me, may I ask..."

"The First's minion Caleb...A little nasty joke on his part...But I'm ok with it..."

"Oh...Did Buffy...?"

"Oh, yeah..."

"Good for her...I'd have been glad to take of it myself, though, I want you to know..."

"Thanks...Buffy..."

"Would you mind very much...Calling me Cicely?...From you it sounds right..."

He hesitated... "I don't think Dawn would want me to..."

"I understand..." she nodded... "I meant no disrespect to your friend..."

"Hey guys..." Willow had come over... "Ok if I...?"

"Certainly..." Buffy nodded... "Willow..." she spoke carefully...

"Yeah...Thanks..."

"Might I ask...Miss Rosenberg...?"



"Yeah?..."

"Are you of the Hebrew faith...?"

***

"What are all those people doing...?" Buffy eyed the crowd by a photo stand... "Get your phote taken at the Great Sunnydale Crater" sign prominent on the stand...

"They're getting their photos...Photographs taken at the Crater..." Willow braced for another anti-American comment... Which Buffy seemed to have no end of these days... "Macabre, I know..."

Buffy shrugged..."People used to do that all the time in my day...Anything tragic or on a colossal scale draws them in...And if both combine..."

Andrew came to them, photo in hand...

"Very nice, Mr. Wells..." Buffy nodded at the image... "Perhaps I should have one done as well...To remember this place by..." she turned to look at the Crater from where they stood behind a newly constructed guard rail...

"Where was...?"

"Sunnydale was that way..." Willow pointed... "And the Hellmouth just up there...It was in our old high school...And the idiots on the Town Council rebuilt it right over the Mouth..."

"Destiny..." Buffy said quietly... "As with us..."

Dawn came over, bearing Diet Coke...Eyeing Willow...

No signs of suicide being painless as yet...Willow's look saying...

"I'm sorry I don't have anything of his..." Dawn sighed...

"Oh, wait..." she reached in her pockets...Yeah...

"He gave me this..." she handed it to Buffy...Who held the ticket gently...

"From a game...Soccer...In England...His favorite team, Manchester, beat the other guys by two...He always said...It was worth being Undead to..." Dawn teared up a little...

"Thank you..." Buffy embraced her... "I know you cared for him..."

"I'm sorry..." Dawn sobbed... "I should have told him I forgave him before...I shoulda been nicer after he got the soul...I'm sorry...William..."

Xander came to them...Willow crying softly now...

"I'm glad you made us come...Cicely..." he eyed Buffy... "We need to come back..."

He looked out over the Crater... "An...I'm so sorry I wasn't there...Forgive me...You know I loved you..." Willow patting him...

"Will..." he called... "I'm sorry we weren't better friends at the end...But maybe we were...I don't know...Anyway, you did good...Thanks, pal..."

"Yeah..." Willow called... "We miss you, Will...Thanks..."

They paused...Buffy shook her head...

"I can't say goodbye...But thank you for showing me you all did care...And for letting me come...And know..." she smiled...



"...that his spirit's not gone out of this world..." she eyed them...

From the van where he stood, waiting with several Slayers and Ms. Knowles, Andrew making a rather needless report, Giles watched...Expressionless...

***

"Who?"



Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present…With help from an Immortal source.



Part V…

***

"You can't be serious..." Giles looked at the group facing him in his motel room...Newly rechristened as the Great Crater Motel...Willow, Kennedy, Xander, Dawn, several Slayers...Buffy and Ms. Knowles to one side...

Andrew holding an intermediate position between his friends and his Councilor...A bit uncertain...

"You would let Buffy go off to Rome alone in her present state...To meet with the Immortal, a creature..."

"Not alone...We'll all go for the first meeting...Size him up..." Willow noted...

"Not at Council expense, you won't...Have you all lost your minds?...Or forgotten Buffy, so quickly..."

"No one's forgot Buffy, Giles..." Willow frowned... "You were the one who wanted us to study the situation with her...We'll be doing that..."

"Here...Or in England...Where study can be properly done..." Giles insisted... "To let her go galavanting off to Rome...On the word of someone who has lied to us from the beginning..."

Ms. Knowles not flinching...Willow however...

Damn...Still, it took a while with Jenny...

"If we're to discuss lies, Rupert..." Buffy eyed him...

"So we abandon all real hope of retrieving Buffy...?" he turned to Willow... "Willow, Dawn...Cicely may have won your friendship but consider her motives in doing so..."

"Like you won ours...?" Dawn asked...

"None of you...Even Willow...Is qualified to deal with Cicely...What information can you hope to gain from this?..."



"We'll hear the Immortal out...Make sure he's as trustworthy as even the Council's claimed in the past..." Willow returned Giles' steady stare... "And let Buffy decide what to do next..."

"She'll stay in touch with us and you..." Xander pointed out... "And we can't stop her if she chooses to leave now...Alone..."

"Quite so...Thank you, Sandler..." Buffy hesitated over the word... "Guys..." and continued... "Rupert, I will go on my own if I must...If your goal really is to retrieve Miss Summers, your best chance to accomplish it is to learn why and how she left, if she did...And where she is...And you will only accomplish that by keeping in contact with me..."

"Come to England first...Let us review your condition..." Giles insisted... "The Council is reforming rapidly...They can help you..."

"I've had their brand of 'help', thank you...I prefer to operate on my own..As did, my friends tell me, your Miss Summers..."

"So..." he eyed the group... "You've chosen..."

"No one has chosen any side, Giles..." Willow shook her head... "We want what's best for Buffy...And it seems to us, giving her some space and a chance to find out about what's happened is the way to do that..."

"You can maintain surveillance on me if you wish..." Buffy noted... "Mr. Wells could do that quite effectively, I'm sure...And with least offense to me..."

Oh...Andrew perked...

"And I'm not letting her out of my sight..." Dawn noted...

"And how would you even live in Rome?..."

"Frankly...Your Council can't begin to repay what you owe me...And my new friends...Even if you hadn't killed my husband and me...But..." Buffy smiled at Olive...

"The Walthrop family did very well in armaments and other things after William's death, Rupert..." Olive nodded... "A large part of that has been kept in trust for William or Cicely should either return to claim it...I can assure you the family will be quite willing to see those funds released..."

"My brother-in-law, Philip...Will always said he had a good head on his shoulders..." Buffy happily noted...

"I see...Well, short of ordering those Slayers loyal to their duty and to Buffy's memory to fight it out, I suppose there's nothing to be done...You promise you'll stay in contact...?" he eyed Buffy...

"With my dear Watcher?...For my own protection, I wouldn't have it any other way..." she beamed...

Willow nudged...

"Sorry...My best friend Willow wanted me to close these negotiations on a pleasant note...I'm willing to offer the Council a chance to redeem itself...And to trust in you...If you'll let me work this out and not interfere..."

"Very well...But I still don't see what you hope to accomplish with the help of the Immortal...?"

"Probably nothing...But he is an old friend...And each step in the past is a chance for Buffy to find her way back, correct?...And there are still questions to be asked and answers sought..."

"We could help you find them...And frankly, Mrs. Walthrop...We need you...The new Slayers need you..."

"And with Mr. Wells in constant communication between us..." Andrew stiffening in silent acceptance of the heavy burden...Ours not to question why...Ours but to... "You could....I won't refuse any information or assistance you offer if I deem it useful and in my interests to accept...As for my side...The others and I will pass on everything I learn, I'll even offer you my services, given the current disorder in your affairs...I'll do what I can to help train the other ladies, indeed I'll need to come to England in any case once I speak to Henri...And if the world needs me in the meantime, you've but to call...I think that's a rather good bargain for you..."



"It certainly beats my hunting every Councilor down..." she noted... "Rupert...If you truly are my friend...My second father, as Willow and Dawn tell me...Don't force a final breech between us...You may find Buffy, should she return, not very appreciative of your refusing to help me...Please...Give me reason to trust a Councilor again..."

"As I have no real choice..." he shrugged... "But I am not ready to lose Buffy Summers to you yet...However much the others may yield..."

"Now that's honesty...And I appreciate it..." Buffy smiled...

***

Sacramento International Airport...Four days later...Airport lounge...

Willow hugging Kennedy...Much to her parents' discomfort...Sheila Rosenberg in particular...

"Well...I guess..." Kennedy sighed...

"I'll call you every day from Rome..." Willow kissed her... Sheila gritting teeth...Ira Rosenberg choosing to engage in pleasant conversation with Rupert Giles...Must be quite an endowment, that Royal Antiquarian thing of yours has...To cover a six-month fellowship in Rome...

"I'm just pleased Willow and the others were able to accept..." Giles noted...

"Six months, Willow..." Sheila interrupted further affectionate interaction... "By then U Cal-Sacramento will be able to take you and the other Sunnydale students and I don't want you staying longer..."

"Six months, Ma..." Willow nodded... "And I'll call you every day too...I promise..."

"I'd better be going..." Kennedy patted Willow...

"Yes...Bye...Where are the Summers girls...?" Sheila asked as Kennedy moved to speak with Giles over in a corner...

"Coming...Buffy was doing some shopping...Ma...You didn't have to be so cool to Kennedy..." Willow sighed...

"Who?...Oh, her...Willow...Don't press me on these things..." Sheila frowned... "You're lucky I'm letting you go to Rome with the Summers girls...By the way, what is that with Buffy these days?...Is she trying to be funny with that accent?..."

"She's been around me much too long, Mrs. Rosenberg..." Giles, having given Kennedy final instructions on Slayer training assignments, had come to them...

"I think she's just practicing for Europe, Ma..." Willow suggested... "Just a mo..." she hurried off to give the departing Kennedy a final hug...

"Hello there!..." Buffy called...The group turning to see Buffy in long black-buttoned skirt, frilly, heavy though not totally eccentric white blouse...And most disconcerting, sweeping hat, complete with flowers...Pinned to her tightly bunned hair...

Dawn in similar outfit, hat off and in hand, grumpily beside her...Ms. Knowles with them...

No one told me I'd have to wear this crap...Dawn frowned at the group...Glaring at hat...

"Sorry we were a bit slow...Amazing place...I was watching the aircraft..." Buffy beamed at the frowning Sheila... "It was delightful..."

"After she stopped screaming every time one got off the ground..." Dawn hissed to Xander..Seated and waiting with Andrew...

"Nice hat..." Xander noted... "What's it weigh, ten pounds with all those flowers?..."

"Shut up...Next time you wear it..."

"Are we all ready for our aerial journey?..." Buffy asked...



"Everyone's here..." Giles noted...

"Excellent...Dawn?!..." she called...

"Yeah..." curt reply...

"Children these days..." Buffy sighed to Sheila... "Would you come here, please?...I want to make sure we've everything..."

Dawn, glaring, trudged over...

"Bag, please..." She handed her large...God don't let anyone I don't know in Rome worth knowing see this, she thought...Purse over...

"We've checked five times since this morning, Buffy...I have the boarding passes and the passports, the address and number of the hotel in Rome...Everyone has copies ..."

"That's fine...But it never hurts to be sure...And what about..."

"The canteen is in there..."

"Just in case the craft should falter..." Buffy explained... "Water is usually the one essential necessary for survival..."

"Uh-huh..." Sheila stared...Willow hastening over from where she'd finally released Kennedy at Dawn's urgent stare...

"And where's...?"

"Buffy...I told you...You can't bring signal flares on airplanes...Not even matches..."

"Seems ridiculous...What if you're lost at sea?...A signal rocket can make all the difference..."

"They have radios...And they bring their own flares..."

"Mom..." Willow pulled the ever-more frowning Sheila away...er aside...

"I wanted to ask your advice..." she began...Immediately refocusing Sheila's full attention...

"Well, Rupert..." Buffy had reluctantly accepted the situation as to signal rockets...Father would have insisted on bringing our own on any vessel... "Thank you for your help..." she offered a hand... "I do look forward to seeing you in England later..."

"As do I, Buffy..." She leaned forward, offering a cheek, which after a moment's hesitation, he kissed...

"But tell the Council...I will not tolerate interference this time..." she hissed...

"As you wish...So long as I feel Buffy and the others are in no danger..." he whispered back...

She gave him a quick peck in turn...Holding his hand a moment... "Let me believe in you, Rupert..." she whispered...And turned to the others... "Well...Shall we?..."

"They have to call us for boarding, Buffy..." Dawn noted dryly... "We've about an hour to go yet..."

"Willow...?" Giles had moved over to her...Sheila reluctantly disengaging...Ira over with Xander and Andrew, attempting to 'connect' with Willow's odd little 'posse' of history buffs...

Wouldn't have taken Harris for a budding historian...Though Tucker's brother there...

Buffy briefly eyeing the two, Willow and Giles, as they moved off...



Ms. Knowles in her turn giving Giles a brief glance which he studiously failed to return...

"Giles...I know you're upset with me...And I know we're leaving at a bad time..."

"You've made your decision, Willow...A foolish one, I fear...But I can only accept it and hope for the best..."

"She seems willing to listen to us..."

"Willow...I beg you...If you'll heed no other advice from me...At least be on guard with her...And contact me if there are any problems...Even a suspicion of one...Don't overestimate your new abilities or underestimate hers..."

"I won't...But I don't believe she's Evil or small e-vil, Giles..."

"Nor do I, frankly...But we can't be sure of anything...Except that she is blocking our Buffy's return, even if involuntarily...And that she has her own agenda, focused on her own goals...Never forget that...Please, Willow..."

"I don't trust her blindly, Giles...I'll be watchin' my back..."

"All right...I'll wait and pray for the best...Good luck..." he paused... "Willow...I do hope she finds what she is seeking...So long as it does not prevent Buffy's safe return...But I will be working toward that end..."

"I know...So does she...Giles, don't do anything rash yourself...Ripper..." she grinned...

He nodded...

"And take care...We'll call when we get there..."

"And do be cautious with the Immortal..." he paused... "His record is excellent...But with a being like him, one can never be sure of his long-range objectives...I'll try to have support at hand but..."

"Right...I'll keep my shields up...It will be all right, Giles..."

"I pray so...Godspeed, girl..." She hugged him...

"See ya in England before you know it...And next time we'll do the town on the Walthrop trust with the merry widow..."

"A bit too merry..." he noted quietly...Looking over to where Buffy, engaged in instructing Dawn on proper deportment with servants...Er, service people...Glanced his way...Their eyes meeting briefly...

"She doesn't believe she is..." Willow replied... "Maybe, until she does believe it...Or finds his spirit...Somewhere...Buffy won't come back...I want her back too, Giles...Don't doubt it..."

"Willow...Do you trust me?..." he looked at her...

She sighed... "Sure...Yes...You know I do..."

"Beware what you may learn...What she may learn...From the Immortal..."

***

"Who?"



Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!



Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present…With help from an Immortal source.



Part VI…

***



"This is so amazing..." Buffy looked out the side window of United 7478 to New York, then Rome...Now 36,000 feet over the MidWestern US...

"The wings don't flap at all..." she noted... "I would have thought they'd have to flap..."

"Lift from the air flowing underneath, Buf..." Xander, next to her, explained... "Though we do have some flapping winged experimental models for hovering, that sort of thing, in the military...It doesn't generally work well...Too much strain..."

"Remarkable...I once took a balloon up when Father and I were in Italy one summer...1871, I think...Made me ill, the basket shook so much..."

"'Balloons have had their day...The future belongs to the flying machine...'" Andrew, seated behind Buffy quoted... "Vincent Price, as Robur in 'Master of the World...'" he explained...

"Wish we had a little time in NYC..." Dawn noted to Willow, beside her... "I'm sure I could shake her out of these 'Hello, Dolly' outfits if I could get her over to the shops...And..." she sighed... "For once, we could buy anything...We're rich..."

"Thanks to my husband's brother..." Buffy called back... "And I would remind you there are many people even in this prosperous world who would appreciate such fine clothes as you have..."

"I'm not wearing this stuff in Rome!..." Dawn hollered back... "You promised you'd let me pick out my own stuff when we get there..."

"Within the limits of propriety, Dawn...I also said that..."

"So...Sandler..." Buffy turned back to Xander...Who'd...Almost...Come to like the new name...

"...You will let me have the pleasure of seeing you properly introduced to Roman society?..." she raised a hand... "I know you're still in mourning...But a man must cut a good figure...And you, Andrew?...After all, you gentlemen will be our chaperones in Rome..."

"Yeah, Xander...Let Buffy properly introduce you..." Dawn called... "You'll look good in a corset..."

"Pay no attention to the child..." Buffy frowned... "I merely want to see you both at your best..You see, in Europe...Standards are a bit more formal..."

"Open shirts, gold chains, slick hair..." Dawn called...

"The lower quarters of the city..." Buffy waved a hand... "Have you been before?..." she rose up to look at Dawn over her seat...

"TV...Movies..." Dawn shook her head... "They're all like that ..."

"Uncanny..." Buffy shook hers... "Anyway...In the better quarters..."

***



JFK International Airport...



"Hey, Giles..." Willow spoke into her cell... "We got an hour before we reboard...Alls well..."

"What?..." she asked the phone...

"Angel did what?..."

Xander came over, bearing coffee...

"No..." Willow's voice, shocked... "Giles, it can't be true...He'd never..."

Xander eyeing him...

"Angelus again?..." he asked...Willow putting up a hand...

"I don't believe it, Giles...It's a trick to fool the Partners...He'd never accept such a deal...Wesley wouldn't either..."

I knew it...Xander shook his head...Pompous ass...Spike was right about him all along...

"Movie deal, right?...Sold his and Buf's story?..."

"Xander...Please...What, Giles?...Giles, we haven't even mentioned Angel to her yet...Ok...Ok...I'll try to bring it up...Carefully...Giles, I know you don't like Angel but...Ok...Ok...Just wait and see what happens, please...Don't make any fast judgments...Ok...We'll watch out...Shields are up...Ok, Giles...Take care..." she hung up...

Well...? Xander eyed her stricken face...

"It can't be true..." she shook her head... "Giles...Hates Angel...His judgment's clouded..."

"How much did they get?..." he asked...

And who'll be playing me?...He did not ask...

"Everything...The whole shebang...If Giles is right...But it can't be..." she shook her head again...

"I'll have to let Buffy know...But I haven't even told her about Angel yet..." she sighed...

"The whole shebang?...What, Tom Hanks playing Angel?..." he asked...

"What?.." she stared at him, frowned... "Angel sold out to the Partners...Giles says...His contacts in LA for the Council reported in when he tried to reach Angel about Buffy and couldn't get him...Angel's accepted a deal with Wolfram-Hart...He and all his guys...They're working for Wolfram-Hart...And Angel..." she stared out of the airport terminal window...

"Angel's the new CEO of Wolfram-Hart, LA...Covering all of the US..."

Angel?...Xander stared...CEO?...

"The guy doesn't even have a law degree...CEO?..." he shook his head...

"It must be a plan...A ruse..." Willow shook her head... "Or Angelus is back...But Giles says his guys checked it out...Angel's still got a soul..."

"CEO?..." Xander repeated...

"Sandler?...Willow?..." Buffy looked at them...Cinnabun in hand...Dawn reluctantly chewing on hers...She keeps feeding us like this we will both need corsets...Ms. Knowles, beside Buffy, holding camera...Commerative shots for the family back home, she explained to Xander's glance...Everyone's eager to see the returned member..Andrew sporting dark glasses...Gift of the newly flush Mrs. W's determination to see him cut a proper figure in Rome...

"Anything wrong...?" Buffy asked...

***

En route to Rome...Willow now seated next to Buffy...

"So this...Liam...Was my...Buffy's...Affianced?..." Buffy asked... "Before William appeared in Sunnydale?..."

"Not exactly...Affianced..." Willow noted...

"Oh, good..." Buffy gave a sigh... "I was afraid from your tone I'd contacted a marriage or something in this form...So he was just my lover?..."

Willow blinked...Ummn...

"You people..." Buffy grinned... "So much put out on the surface, nothing kept within...Did you think we never had relations?...Lord..."

"Not exactly your lover..." Willow noted... "Though you did love him...A long time...In fact..."

"Better and better..." Buffy beamed... "So...William had competition, eh...?" wider grin... "Nothing wrong with making him work for it...Or me..." she beamed... "Had I chosen?...Of course I did...William was the one dying for me at Sunnydale...So...This Liam...Ah, Liam...William...Obvious confusion on my...Buffy's part...The fellow couldn't stand the rejection, folded, eh?...Turned to ..." she put on a Darth Vader voice...Having seen her first "Star Wars" on the flight to NYC...Incredible..Wagnerian, she'd noted to Willow.... "The 'Dark Side'...?...Well, that's a pity...I'm sure though Mr. Giles can deal with some petty human captain of industry..."

"It's a pretty Evil firm, Buffy..." Willow sighed... "And Angel isn't...Exactly..."

"Angel?..." Buffy stared... "The fellow's name was Liam Angel...?"

"Liam was his human name..." Willow explained... "But, when he became a vampire..."

"I loved a vampire named Angel...?" Buffy stared... "Was I in love with Death, or something?..."

"Well...See..."

"He had a soul too..." Dawn called...

"A soul...?" Buffy stared... "Angel, with a soul..." she eyed Willow... "Was that how William...? Did he show William how...?"

"Oh, no...See Angelus was cursed by a gypsy and..."

Buffy?...Willow stared at the frozen face...

"I never really trusted him..."Xander on Buffy's left, noted...

***

"Buffy..." Willow tried calm reason... "We can't ask the pilot to turn around...We have to go to Rome..."

"Rome?..." Buffy stared...

"You wanted to see the Immortal...To talk about William..."



"Can you please not block the aisle?..." a flight attendant frowned at them...

Hey, we're first class, bucko...Willow frowned...At these prices, if we wanta stand in the aisle...

"Angelus must die..." Buffy said... "We have to go to Los Angeles and kill him...Now..."

"Buffy...This trip to Rome was your idea..."

"Angelus started the cycle...I'll close the ring..." Hmmn...Likewise Wagnerian... "...With him...We just have to go find him..."

"Buffy, Angel loved you...And you loved him..."

"He didn't die in Sunnydale...And any relations Miss Summers had with him are her own business..."

"I'm sure this thing about him and the Partners can be explained...He's a good guy post soul curse..." Willow pleaded...

"He created Drusilla...Drusilla killed William...I kill Angelus and the horror ends and my husband is partially avenged..."

Partially?...Xander stared...

"Angelus created Dru...Not Angel...Buffy, would you let us blame William for Spike?..."

That got her...Dawn nodded to Olive...Both trying to look casual as they blocked Buffy's path to the flight deck...

"Never..." Buffy shook her head...Looking to the flight deck door beyond Olive and Dawn... "But I've sworn an oath on William's soul to kill Angelus and Drusilla..."

"Buffy...You can't fly a plane...And people are beginning to talk..." Willow noted...

Buffy looked round...Hmmn...

Perhaps...

"Lets go talk this over...You can always kill Angelus later once we've been to Rome...We'll know where to find him, he's now head of one of the world's most prominent corporations..."

"An exploiter of the working class as well..." Buffy nodded, red spots on her cheeks...But allowed Willow to take her hand and lead her back to her seat... "William was against oppression, you know...A Democratic Socialist...We were going to join the Fabians..."

"First time flying...A little disoriented..." Willow explained to various passengers staring as they headed back... "Yes...Very sorry...Nothing to worry about..." Buffy agreed...

"Sorry to make a scene..."

"No problem..." Willow patted her...

"But he must die, you know..."

"We'll talk...Won't we talk, Olive?..."

"Oh, yes..."

"Right...Ummn...Willow?..."

"Yeah, Buf..."



"I never...Relations...?"

"Never...His curse wouldn't allow it..."

"Oh...Thank God...Thank God..." sigh...

"But what about her first...?" Dawn began, from her seat behind...

"Fellow named Riley...Dawn's confused...Human...Great guy..." Willow, hastily... "Didn't last once William showed..."

"Oh?...Really?..." pleased tone...

Xander, reseated, holding hand over Dawn's mouth in their row...

***



"Who?"

Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present…With help from an Immortal source.



Part VII…

***

En route to Rome...

In hopes of keeping Buffy calm Willow had started the next film supplied...Which seemed not only pleasant but with Renee Zellweger in 19th century costume...Right up Cicely's alley...

And with Buffy apparently over the Angel thing for the moment...She'd decided to make use of the facilities...

Hmmn...Ewan McGregor as romantic lead, she eyed a video as she went up the aisle...Neat...

What was that name again?..Ah, right..."Miss Potter..." Cute with the bunnies coming to life and the happy romance of the sweet guy and the writer where the gentle guy dies a tragically untimely...

Whoops!...

Olive glaring at her as she held the sobbing Buffy...Dawn holding Buffy's hand...

"Miss Potter..."? Olive asked...Dawn glaring as well...

***

"I'm sorry about the film, Buf..." Willow tried...



"He was so sweet..." Buffy teared up again... "Just like..."

"I know..." pat...

"I've betrayed him..." she shook her head...

"No..." Willow insisted... "Buffy, you saved him...He got his soul back for you..."

"But I...Didn't help him..I left him..."

"No...No...He'd never say that...Well, Spike might...But William..."

"Why did she leave him?...All alone..."

"Buffy...There was no choice...He wanted you to live...He loved..."

"...her..." Buffy frowned... "That's what you mean, isn't it?...He loved her..."

"Ummn..."

"He'd forgotten me...Hated me, probably...With good reason..."

"No...He...Well, he must have sensed...I guess..."

"Can...I tell you...?"

"Buffy?..."

"The whole story...?"

"If you want to...I don't want to intrude..."

"Nonsense..." she wiped tears...Grinned... "Miss Rosenberg, I've been dying to tell someone since I returned...You people never asked..."

"Well...We got five hours...." Willow noted...

"Wait up!..." Dawn called... "I gotta go...Don't start till I come back...!"

"Yeah!..."Andrew echoed...

***

"Cicely!..." booming cry...

"Anne?...Where's my cousin?..." the dark-haired figure in evening clothes called to the slight blonde maid...

("My 1880 twin sounds quite the guy..." Xander beams... "Are saying Buffy was your maid back then?..." Dawn asked, a bit peeved... "Doubtful...The girl was natural..." Buffy replied...)

"Upstairs, sir...Along in a mo..."

"Well, tell her I have someone to meet..."

"Henry..." a sighing voice... "Your cousin doesn't want to meet me..."

"She's dying to meet you...Though trust me, she'll never show it..."



"Henry!..." call from above... "What is it?..."

"I brought him!...Come on down, if you're not too fancy..."

"Henry..."

"Sticking post, Will..." Henry Foxcroft grinned to his friend...A slight brown-haired fellow in ill-fitting new suit...Spectacles carefully perched...

"Yes?..." the figure approached from out of the light streaming from a large window...

"William Soames Walthrop...My cousin, Cicely Addams..." Henry smiled...

"Mr. Walthrop...I've heard..." Cicely took his hand...Eyeing Henry...

"Are you all right, sir?..." she stared...

"I...Fine,. Miss Addams...Fine..." William shook his head...Trying to force back the tears...

"You're..."

("...'a poet...' I said..." Buffy noted... "But I meant to say...'You're...Crying?'...He cried on seeing me... And my heart cried too, for joy...I knew him, you see...Before I ever met him...I knew him...And he knew me..."

"It's all right, Andy..." Dawn called to the sobbing Andrew...)

"You have no idea of what the life of a working man is, Miss Addams..." William frowned...

"Ah, yes...I'm a vapid fool...A silly, stupid piece of porcelain on display..." Cicely glared...

He put up a hand...Enough...

"I've no wish to see you ever endure that life...But you can't know it unless you've experienced it..."

"I might know more of life than you think, sir..." Cicely, quietly... "You're quick to judge me without knowing..."

"This is a waste of time..." William frowned... "You've had your fun playing with me...I'll be going..."

("Now this has an eerie something about it..." Dawn noted... "Doomed..." Andrew shook his head sadly... "Not if I can help it, Mr. Wells!..." Buffy called... "Andrew..." Willow hissed... "Go on...")

She stared...What?...Going?...

"My cousin is coming to meet you..."

"Tell him I had pressing matters...I'll see him later...Good day..."

Going...? But...

"I'm sorry if I offended, William...Please..."

"None taken...We obviously don't see eye to eye...I'm sorry if I was rude...I'm not used to speaking with...Oh...Good day..."

"With what?...Can't bear to argue with a woman?...I...William, where are you going?...What pressing matters?...Henry's coming shortly..."

"I'll see him later..."



"What...Have I...?..." You little...Oh, please don't go...

"It's not that...I'm sorry...You're quite intelligent and...Look...You have guests...I apologize again...I'm a clumsy fool with no business even to...Sorry to intrude...Good day..." he struggled a bit with the door latch...Fine...He turned for the gate at the far end of the garden...

"Where are you going, sir?... Stop, William!...I asked you where you were going, sir!..."

"Out...for...a walk, b...."



("Bit more followed..." Buffy grinned to Willow..."God, I hit him so hard...Thought I'd killed him for a moment...Nearly killed myself till he started coughing...Oh, and after that, when he did leave...I was so lost...Demented...Though...I did manage to come up with a plan shortly afterwards...You see, Henry had a small cottage, up in the Lake District..." Roguish look... "You...Ummn...Wanton? you..." Willow ..."Trollop if my father had found out..." "I...Henry didn't go with you guys?..." Xander asked, a bit put out by his character's failing on the chaperone end...)



"Haven't you ever been in a boat, Mr. Walthrop?..." Cicely asked... Smiling at the little man...As he struggled with the oars...

A day out in the Lake District, courtesy dear Henry and his generous offer of his little cottage and boat...

Ummn...Walthrop shrugged...Trying to seem casual about it...Casual as one could with one oar
floating off into the center of the lake while the other seemed likely to pull him in...

Why the hell she'd asked him to come out here...He'd never know...She must enjoy the spectacle of
him constantly being humiliated, trying to cope with a world he'd never experienced outside of his
beloved books...

Well, there goes the other oar...

And he'd given up critical exams time for this...Not to mention precious dabs of his funds in
traveling here...Money much better spent on his books or better still left to Mum, and sister and brother,
Amelia and Philip...Mum's legacy from "Mr. Walthrop..." not being bottomless...

Still, she'd promised to "fire his poetical imagination" with new sights...Actually she'd teased that
she would do what she could to fire anything that might possibly be there...

Dim coals, judging by what she'd read of his work...

Well, to be fair, a remark she instantly withdrawn and profusely apologized for after seeing his
crestfallen face...

Rather remarkable, her consideration for his feelings just then...Considering her usual haughty prig
manner...

She'd almost seemed...To care...

But then, she simply wanted to please ole Henry...And demonstrate her capacity for compassion to
the lower orders...

Who knew, maybe she was in love with ole cousin Henry...? Unable to act on it, perhaps, but
desperate to please him...

The boat was drifting out into the center of the lake...At least in pursuit of one oar, he noted, if rather slowly...
Oddly enough she didn't seem much distressed by the situation...Lost out on the lake with her cousin's ragamuffin charity case "friend"... The "dangerous radical" William Soames Walthrop...A joking sobriquet she'd placed on him at dinner the other night...Which her father had taken quite serious umbrage at...Glaring at the "radical" Henry had smuggled into his home all the rest of the evening...

Well, he supposed if she was so determined to take it calmly, the least he could do was demonstrate
similar fortitude...

"Don't be distressed..." she told him...Kindly, he noted with surprise...

William...she paused...

He stared at her...

"We can just drift a bit...We'll catch up to one of the oars soon enough..."

Tell me about your family...William...she eyed him...

"Henry says...He told me...Your mother's ill..."

Tuberculosis...he nodded... "That's why she's in London now..."

After years of slaving like a dog...With beatings from the masters to boot...

"Amazing what "gentlemen" can get away with when the woman beaten almost to death by her
employer is a poor servant..." he noted...

God save the Queen, our just legal system, and our noble Parliament...

Still...One of them finally did the right thing...Must have been a deathbed's repentance...he noted... "Thank God in time to spare my poor mother a little suffering in her last years...:

"And here am I...She gambling everything on my success..."

"Henry is hoping to better things like that..." she noted...

When he gets to Parliament...

I wish there were more like him...William noted simply...

"I've always said it...He is a good man...And my friend..."

"Who owes you a great deal, William..." she looked at him...

"He needed a bit of help...I was glad to oblige..."

"He would have failed and been sent down...If you hadn't taken him in hand..."

"I rather enjoyed helping a toff..." William said curtly...

Nice to have one indebted to one...Can come in handy...

"Are you always so ready to snap at anyone who shows you a little kindness...?" she glared...

"I'm sorry...I didn't mean that..."
As I didn't mean to hurt you the other day...she noted...

"I thought you could take criticism...You certainly claim to be able to..."

"I never claimed to be a great poet, Miss Addams...I just...Try to write..."

"You need more...Experience...William..."

"I've had years of it, Miss Addams...Assisting my mother and her fellows in service, working in
factories, working anywhere I could make a few shillings...Trying to keep a roof over my brother
and sister's heads...Keep my mother in some dignity until she dies...And if things are a bit easier for us now, we're by no means secure yet..."

He eyed her...

"But it's what I tried to tell you the other day...You can't know the "experience" I've had...And frankly, I'm glad for you, you haven't..."

It was clouding up and getting gusty...

"I may have had more "experience" than you can imagine, William..."

He stared at her...

"My name, by the way, is Cicely...Please use it...I don't like calling you by your first if you refuse to use mine..." she smiled wanly at him...

She looks tired...He noted...As if she's been working at the books or something...All night...
"Perhaps we'd best try heading in..." he looked at her...

Wouldn't want to compromise your reputation any further...

"I can bear a little "compromising"..." she smiled...Stared at him...

Was she...Nervous?...

And looked away...

"Henry thinks you have a great future..." she began...

Henry...Is a very kind friend...

"But when you get your degree..."

I will be a poor man with a degree from Cambridge, three others to feed on a dwindling income...And...

A very bad poet...

"Your story the other night was very good..." she paused... "You have promise..."

"A tale to friends about my working days...A hair better than my poems...As your friend Henderson pointed out...When he gave me my new nickname..."

"Bloody Aw..."

("That's where it came from?..." Willow stared... "Buffy told me about that already...!" Dawn, pleased to hold prior knowledge... "I never thought his stuff was bad..." Andrew noted..."Except that one about '...midnight descending...'..." "What?!..." Buffy rose and looked down behind her seat on the little critic... "You mean 'To Cicely'...?" she glared... "Must be another one, I'm sure..." Andrew replied...)

"Henderson is an ass!..." she eyed him fiercely... "You wrong me to call him my friend..."

He stared at her...So angry...So suddenly...

Like a summer storm...

For...Him?...

"Are you going to let a fool like him tell you to stop...?" she went on..."Is that what your mother killed herself for... So you could give up at the first hint of criticism?..."

"I have to think practically...Mouths to feed, remember?..."

"Don't belittle my opinions, Will...iam...Just because I don't know hunger and cold right now
doesn't mean I don't understand..."practicalities"..." she told him crossly... "I'm not a little fool, you
know..."

Just because you must think of the practical doesn't mean...The romantic in you has to die...she
muttered...Looking out toward shore...

Odd...? He could almost...Think she was talking about...herself...

"The romantic mustn't die, Will.." .she looked back at him... "Life's not worth living without it..."

Wind was really picking up now...Boat rocking...

"Are you all right?..." she looked at him...

Just...he paused...

A trifle...Giddy...

A swell caught them neatly, lifting the boat, turning it over...

"William!..." she cried, grabbing for him...With simply amazing speed...

But a hair too slow...They went in separately...

He bobbed up...Much to his own surprise...

She wasn't there...He looked round in terror...

"Cicely!!..." he screamed...

"Cicely!!!"

He pushed himself back down...And found her just under the upturned boat, stunned by striking the
side...

Grabbing her, he desperately dived back under, while trying to cover her mouth and nose from the
water...And popped up with her on the other side...She coughing and choking as he propped her up
against the upturned boat...

***



"He saved me, that day..." Buffy smiled serenely..."And after that...And the night we spent together in Henry's cottage..." serene smile turning wicked... "I knew..."

"But...What happened..." Willow stared...

"I thought my allusion was clear...We had relations...Must I spell everything out for you so baldly...?" Buffy frowned...

"I mean...After..."

Oh...

"Well...I asked him to marry me...He accepted...And then I betrayed him..." she said quietly...

***

"Why didn't you just leave...?" Willow asked...

Buffy shrugged... "I knew they'd find out..I could sense Drusilla, closing in...She'd perceived him, somehow...She was coming for him, targeting him...And I couldn't find her, destroy her...There was no other option...I have to save him..." she paused...

"Had...I mean..."

Yeah, right...Dawn frowned...And we're on this plane why?...

"So...I turned to my Watcher, Dr. Farris...The man who'd trained me, taught me everything...And begged for help from him and the Council...My beloved guardians of Humanity...My protectors..."

"And they off'd Will?..." Dawn called...

"That I might have been able to bear..."Buffy sighed... "But there was a reason for Drusilla's strange interest..."

"They sent..." Willow shook her head...

"It wasn't all their doing..." Buffy shook her head in turn... "But I was fool enough to think they'd let me be...Let us go..."

It must have been nice for Buffy to have so many Slayers in the ranks, she noted... "Whoever figured out how to power the new Slayers surely deserves our thanks..."

You're welcome...Willow did not say...

"How'd they get Dru to kill Will?..." Dawn called...

***

"So...I begged...And Simon did what he always did...Tried to help me..." Buffy sighed...

"And summoned Halfreck, one of the vengeance lord's..."

"Haly?..." Dawn called... "You called in Halfreck?..."

We knew Halfreck, Willow explained...

"She's toast..." Dawn called..."Even the soul..."

"Really?..." Buffy stared...Willow nodded...



"Well...Thank you, Buffy..." she noted...Patting her shoulder...

"Nah...D'Hoffryn took her out..." Dawn called...

***

"Ok...So Halfreck gets summoned..." Willow noted...

"Check..." Dawn, from behind...

"And she takes your form and meets William that night..."

"March 13th, 1880...' Dawn called...

"And rejects him while you hide upstairs...?"

"Stupid..."Dawn called...

"Dawn..."

"She's right..." Buffy sighed... "Very stupid...And useless..."

"And then Dru got him...A few blocks from your place..."

"Yes..."

"That does sound a little too..."

"Convenient...Yes..."

"So you were set up..." Dawn noted from her seat...Andrew next to her nodding...

"Oh, yes..." Buffy nodded...

"So that's what happened to Spike..." Willow shook her head... "I'm sorry..."

"Why didn't you kill Dru?..." Dawn called... "And save Spike...?"

"I tried both..." Buffy noted...

But there were complications...

"The Council protected Drusilla?..." Willow eyed her...

"Possibly...I don't know...But I soon wasn't up to the job..."

"What?...Where you pregnant or something?..." Dawn called...

"A remarkable child...A delightful child..." Buffy frowned...

"Buffy coulda handled a kid and still killed Dru..."

"Did I mention I was poisoned by the Council...?"

***



"So, that's how you ended up at a hospital...That November, you said before..." Willow said...

"That's how...I was dying...Though I'd hoped...Once I had the baby...I might recover my strength and I could try some of the things I'd found in those last months on Will...If I could find him...Or, if all else failed..."

"Dust him..." Dawn nodded...Calling...

"No, you little know-all..." Buffy frowned...

"You'd've let him...?" Willow stared...

"Why not...?" Buffy stared back... "They took our lives away...Now we'd take theirs...Together...Though that was only an alternative plan..."

"No guy is worth that...You tole me that..." Dawn called...

"Your sister Buffy sounds like a snow queen!..." Buffy called back... "Did she never love anyone?..."

"Buffy meant some guy you meet in high school with a magic jacket, Dawn...Not the guy or girl you make a life with..." Willow returned...

"That's not what she said..."

"Perhaps that explains why most of her lovers were Undead!..." Buffy called...

"Hey..."

"I'm sure Buffy meant it my way...I knew her...She had a very warm heart..." Willow, patiently...

"Damn, tootin'..."

"Dawn...What did we say about such language?..." Buffy called... "The foul mouth on that child..." she noted to Willow...

"Ah...$#%$!!..."

"You want me to come back there?!..." Buffy called, angrily... "William may have favored sparing the rod after his harsh childhood, but I'm a firm believer in a moderate degree of physical discipline, girl..."

"Dawnie, I gotta go with Buffy on this one...Can it..." Willow called...

"Anyway, it was the alternate plan..." Buffy noted... "I was sure with what I and Henry'd uncovered in our research I could free William...If only I could catch Spike...But..."

"How did the Council poison you?..." Willow asked... "Are you sure it was them?..."

"They were the only ones with opportunity and motive...No demon enemy would waste time with subtle means..."

"Exceptin' Angelus..." Dawn noted...

"I considered that...But he still likes the personal touch in murder..." Buffy replied...

"So your Watcher..."

"No...Simon...Protected me...He was like a father to me..." Buffy said, hastily... "He violated orders to keep in touch with me...No...Someone else, Chairman Rathskellar...Not Simon..."

"You're pretty hard on Giles, if this guy was so good..." Dawn noted...



"I...Had doubts...But Simon wouldn't...He cared for me..."

"Giles cares for Buffy..." Willow sighed... "And you were pretty rough on him...If this Dr. Farris was so good, why not trust Giles...?"

"I've given him my trust...To an extent...But as a whole...The Council cares only for its power and that power is the Slayer...Slayers, now...They killed to retain that power as they have in the past..."

"Giles says they do what's necessary to protect Humanity..." Willow pointed out... "And he's never..."

"He tried to kill William..." Buffy, coldly... "Not the demon...William...And you yourselves told me that...And that he never tried to kill Spike...Left him to me...Buffy...To clean up the mess nice and neatly for his Council..."

If I don't kill him for that alone, consider him fortunate...she frowned... "But we'll see how good a person he is...And how he keeps his pledges..."

"So you want to find out who on the Council poisoned you...? And killed William?..." Andrew called...

"It might make a difference if it was a faction...Rather than the whole Council...But they never operate without unity...Unless.."Buffy paused...

"Unless...They didn't do it..." Willow sugested...

"They did it...I had proof..." Buffy shook her head... "I had a final meeting with Halfreck...I couldn't kill her...But I made her talk..."

"Though..." she sighed... "She escaped me before telling me who initially sanctioned the operation against me...I was weakening then...Even the medicine Simon got for me wasn't helping...But it was the whole Council that voted to turn from me...Their own agents confirmed that..."

"So how's this Immortal guy fit in...?" Dawn asked...

"He saw me die...Tried to save me..." Buffy replied, quietly..."And was the one and only person among the Undead I actually ever truly saved...I mean besides my usual method..."

"Buffy..." Willow eyed her... "If you do find the full Council arranged this...Those men and women are all long dead..."

"I know that..."

"And their families...Aren't responsible..."

Buffy said nothing for a moment... "You'll like Henri, Willow...Very charming fellow...A count actually..."

"No, not another Dracula..." Xander sighed... "I knew the punk we killed wasn't the real deal..."

"D'Vestigy...Not Dracula...So we killed Vladimir?...Good riddance...I was thinking of going to Romania to take care of him, but...How is old Vlad, by the way?...Did he ever find his poor wife?..."

***

"Who?"



Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...



Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present...With help from an Immortal source.

Part VIII...





***

En route to Rome…

Buffy now listened with the others as Olive filled in some details of the family…

"Amelia lived to 1922…" she noted… "She never gave up the search for William…Though Philip dismissed Henry's stories as nonsense…Assumed William had run off and died in some foolish poet's romantic quest…She believed…And passed the search on to her children and Philip's…By then she'd gathered some evidence to confirm Mr. Foxcroft's tales…"

"Henry…What happened to him?...He did find some happiness…?" Buffy asked, anxiously…

"He rejoined our families, Buffy…Married Amelia in 1884…"

"Good job…" Dawn patted Xander in their row… "That's for him, you know…"

"Then what…?"

"Well…We continued to try and monitor William…He left enough of a trail that we could follow his exploits, though he was far too elusive and dangerous for us to confront…Especially when paired with Drusilla…" Olive began… "Excuse me…?" she stared at the questioner, a chubby, balding fellow of forty or so, standing in the aisle by their seats…

"Who are you…?"

Buffy, Willow, Xander, Andrew, Dawn all staring…

Ummn… "Great story…" the man nodded…

"Go away, sir…" Buffy frowned… "This is a private gathering…"

Human, unfortunately…she noted to Willow…As the man slouched off, ears still perked…

"Here…" he handed a young woman in his seat row a small pocket tape recorder… "Get this transcribed as soon as possible after we land…" Waving to the group up front glaring down at him…Hey…

"Yes, Mr. Whedon…" the girl nodded…

***

Rome…

"What did I tell you?..." Dawn sighed… "We look like a couple of Iranians…Just need the burkas…"

Buffy glancing round at the young and not-so-young Italian women passing by the hotel's square…Well…Probably not the best quarter…

Willow repressing a slight smile…For once I'm the one in style…Well, she eyed her own outfit as one young woman passing gave her a slight, rather sympathetic glance…Poor thing…



Maybe not in style…But stylier…She thought…

"Andrew, Sandler…" Buffy turned to the men of the party… "Would you deal with the bags?...And watch them at all times…I had a trunk stolen in Rome in 1871…"

Well…She beamed at Dawn, Olive, and Willow as the boys attempted to 'deal'…Andrew struggling with the large old trunk Buffy'd insisted on purchasing in a vintage shop in Sacramento…Something sturdy being always preferable on a long foreign excursion she'd explained to Dawn at the time…

"The Eternal City…Fitting home of the Immortal…Oh, I feel like I've returned home…This is one city that never changes…It'll be my turn to show you ladies round…" she smiled… "Now, just let me find my guide to the ruins…"

"A few things have changed in a hundred and twenty five years, Buffy…" Dawn noted dryly…

"Yes, the women are as nude as the statues…" Buffy frowned… "Here…Yes…Hmmn…" she thumbed through the book… "Not as good as the one I had on my first trip…" she noted to Willow… "Still…Should be adequate once Henri helps us find a proper guide… Giuseppe!..." she called to the clerk at the front desk they were approaching…

"Buffy…" Willow hissed… "It probably isn't…"

"Madame…" the clerk beamed at Buffy… "I see you remember me…A thousand pardons that I seem to have a bit of trouble…"

"Cicely Walthrop and party…" she smiled… "Mrs. Cicely Walthrop…" He turned to his computer…

"One of them is always named Giuseppe…" she hissed to Willow… "My father always said it made for better service if they thought you recognized them…"

Hmmn-hmm…Racial profiling, courtesy Sir Richard Addams…Off to a nice stereotypical start…Willow thought…

"Yes…From California…?" Giuseppe looked up, eyed Buffy… "Sorry, madame…Your accent…"

"I'm originally from London…But, not all of us can be British, unfortunately…" she smiled…

"She was not supposed to use that name…" Xander had come over… "Giles only wanted to humor her…That phony passport worked on the plane but it can't be counted on if they check too much…" he whispered… "The Council might not be in shape to provide back-up confirmation of her citizenship in England…"

"You tell her…" Willow hissed back… "Anyway it's only till we meet 'Henri'…And it explains the accent till we teach her some Californian…"

"Summers…" Dawn, at the desk, was firm… A proud defender of the family name, even if an artificial one… "Dawn Summers…"

"Willow.." Buffy had come over… "I was thinking…So long as we have Buffy's passport as well…Are you quite sure you should use your real name?..."

"What?..."

***

Dawn having been reluctantly released by Buffy to go shopping with Olive for …Anything else, as Dawn put it…And Xander and Andrew busy on phone making contact with Giles' Council agents in Rome…Buffy had been attempting to express her delight at a century of progress among the races and religions…

Thought she'd seemed leery of using the lavatory on the plane after that black girl had used it…Willow thought…

Yes, indeed…So nice there'd been no polite suggestion by dear Giuseppe that Miss Rosenberg might find accommodations in the Jewish ghetto of Rome more to her liking…

"I was here when the new Italian government began closing the ghetto…And heartily approved, you know…"

"Hey…" Dawn waved…



Oh, good God…Buffy put a hand to her mouth on seeing her sister's new dress…Which Dawn had insisted on wearing immediately…

After all the trouble I've taken to try and elevate the girl to some semblance of decent standards…

Dawn dropped her bags… "Wait till you see what else I got…" she grinned… "Olive knows those Italian shops…"

"Thank you, niece…" Buffy glared at the sheepish Olive…Likewise bearing bags…

"Anyway…Willow…" she returned to the matter at hand… "I shouldn't wish you to think…"

"That's nice…" Willow nodded… "So you don't mind us living among you…Nice…"

Ummn…

Dawn eyed Olive…Olive, Dawn…

"Now, Ms. Rosenberg...I will have you know I have...Had...have had...Many friends of the Hebrew faith..."

"Uh-huh..." Willow stared...

"In case it doesn't fit a cultural reference you're familiar with, that means I'm waiting..." she explained...

Oh...

"Well...There was a bookseller...I frequented...Often...Very sweet man with a stubby beard...Judah...Something...And we often had Mr. Benjamin Disraeli at the house..." arch look...

"England's most powerful politician tolerated in your ambitious father's home...Keep going..."

Oh, God…Dawn sighed…First she kept calling that waiter in Sacramento, boy…Now this…

My sis is a racist?…

"Ummn..."

Xander and Andrew were heading over…

"Nice duds…" Xander nodded to Dawn… "She have her fit yet?..."

"Yes…" Buffy glared… "Lets all run naked in the streets…Like the pagans of the ancient times in this city…How did your telephoning go?..."

"We have made contact…" Andrew announced formally…

"Good…Oh!...Jonathan!..." Buffy stood up... "Yes!!!...How could I forget?...Well, I have forgotten so much...But dear Jonathan Levinson..."

Ummn...Willow blinked...

Uh-oh...Xander eyed Dawn...

Then again...On the other hand...Hooray... Our Buffy is back...

Though maybe best not to mention why Jonathan wasn't here to greet her return after that nice remembering him...

In fact...I might prefer not to reflect on why that little nerd's memory should have brought her...

'Eye on the Prize'…And maybe some episodes of 'I'll Fly Away'…Dawn thought… That might do it…



"Buffy..." Willow, carefully...All minor racial slurs and intolerances erased and forgiven in the sad moment... "Jonathan isn't with us anymore..."

"Of course not..." Buffy frowned... "Poor lamb must have been dead for sixty years unless he was vamped...My God..." she eyed them, hand to mouth... "He wasn't...Here?...Transformed...?"

"Ummn...Buffy..." Willow glanced about…No one close…

"Oh, my poor Mr. Levinson...He was such a good, sweet man...You know I did consider his suit, Willow..." she nodded... "Quite seriously...He was the best of the crop until William came..."

"Buffy..." Willow waved hands...Soothing voice, as Xander stared...

Did she like that Levinson guy?...Dawn stared in turn…Maybe some hope…Oh, right...The umbrella thing...Thoughtful nod...Must be a buried Buf memory resurfacing..

Sexual symbolism...She nodded to herself...Just like that story in Psych class...Always the most powerful memories…

"Oh, my...Did I?...You know...Buffy?...Stake him?..." Buffy asked...

"...Buffy...No...Jonathan is a Buffy memory..." Willow explained, carefully... "He lived in our time...One of our friends...Well, Andrew's friend... But he was very nice, as you seem to remember...Honey, I'm so..."

Wait...Suit?...

"What?..." Buffy stared... "Lived in your time?...Jonathan?...He was my father's barrister's junior partner...What do you mean, lived in your time?....Are you people trying to be amusing?..."

"Your father's barrister's what?..." Willow blinked...Xander waving Olive in...

"His partner...And one of my suitors..." Buffy, triumphant air... "You see, I...Had a Hebrew suitor..." arch look at Willow again...Slight swagger of the head...

"And found him quite charming, I might add..."

"It couldn't be..." Willow looked at Dawn who looked at Xander who looked at Olive...Then looked at himself in the mirror on the wall across...

She dated Jonathan Levinson?...

"Ancestor, maybe?..." Willow suggested...

Doesn't take the pain away, Xander sighed to his image...

Yes, I'm sorry, An…

"Would someone please explain what the problem is to me?..." Buffy asked... "Has someone raised Mr. Levinson from the dead or something?..." Willow frowning as Xander eyed her, catching her eye in turn...Hey, I be clean over two years now…

"Nah, Willow hasn't tried raising from the dead since you…" Dawn waved a hand… "He was our own Johnny…" Another wave…

That he was…Andrew sighed sadly in his chair…Oh…

"Oh…You mean had a Jonathan Levinson here?..." Buffy asked... "Hmmn...Well, surely mine could have been an ancestor...Yes…How nice..." she beamed... "But he's not with you now...?"

"Afraid not..." Willow shook her head...

Wait...Buffy tensed...



Raised from the dead...?...These people can raise from the dead?...

I mean...She eyed the group staring at her...These people...?

Sound of sobbing now...

"Andrew, can it..." Dawn called...

***

"Who?"



Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present...With help from an Immortal source.



Part IX...

***

Lobby of the Hotel Piazza di Spagna, Rome

"So...Mr. Giles' people will contact the Immortal...?" Buffy frowned... "I think I'd prefer a direct approach..."

"Mr. Giles said there was no direct way to reach the Immortal unless we wanted to wait three weeks for an appointment with one of his junior staff..." Andrew noted... "Via the Council's connections we get in quick...Assuming he'll see us..."

She shook her head... "And Mr. Giles keeps his finger in the pie...Everything through his people..."

"Buffy...He's concerned for us..." Willow, soothingly... "He just wants to know what's going on..."

"Andrew is here, he makes his reports...Don't you, Mr. Wells?..."

"Without fail, Mrs. W..."

Dawn, slight frown from her chair at the 'Mrs. W...'...

"Mr. Giles seems a tad overprotective to me..." Buffy insisted... "If I take his motives in the most positive light…"

"Buf...The Council's still in bad shape...He might not be able to help if his boys don't keep close..." Xander...

"I have to agree, Cicely..." Olive nodded from her chair... "We've no reason to distrust Mr. Giles' motives at this time..."

Dawn's frown deepening...

"I thought we all agreed to remember my sis' name is Buffy..." she groused...



"Yes...Sorry..." Olive, apologetic... "I meant no offense, Dawn..."

"Lets just remember who's who..."

Buffy giving Olive a reassuring look... "Dawn is right...It's my fault for using the name here...It was a slip and I apologize, Dawn..."

"Sure..." Dawn looked out at the street...

"Anyway...I still think we might try to reach Henri a bit faster...I'm sure he'd see me if we went out to his villa..."

"Buffy, I think we oughta take it slow...The man...Or whatever...Hasn't seen you in a century..." Willow noted... "And if you don't resemble Cicely a lot more than you've been suggesting..."

"He'll know me..." Buffy shook her head...

"Buf...We've gone along with you this far...And we'll go further..." Xander, carefully... "But we gotta trust in Giles too a little...At least until he gives us reason not to...And you do too...Lets do it his way, for this one time..."

"Would give you a chance to show us Rome..." Willow suggested... "Come on...You can even show me where they used to lock up my guys every night..."

Dawn rolling eyes…Buffy pondering, white-gloved fingers tapping each other nervously…

"Well...You have all been very supportive...I do appreciate it..." Buffy nodded at last... "But...If I feel...Uncomfortable…With anything Mr. Giles arranges..." she eyed them...

"No one will make you go ahead unless you feel ok about it..." Willow nodded... "But Giles won't let you down..."

"Perhaps not..." Buffy said quietly... "But someone on the Council might..."

"You still think the Council's gunning for you...?" Xander asked... "After all this time...And with the First's having wiped up the floor with them...?"

"I doubt they're in quite so bad shape as that, Sandler...The Council has survived much worse..." Buffy, thoughtfully... "Simon always used to say...They were burrowed in everywhere...And nothing short of the end of the world could ever destroy their grip..."

Willow eyed Xander a bit anxious...Not the best attitude for the reconciliation thing...

"If you could still trust Simon..." she noted...

Buffy looked at her...Then at her hands, gloved fingers rubbing together...

"That's just it..." she said finally...Not meeting their stares… Quietly regarding her nervous fingers…

Willow looking at Xander...

"Well...Enough of this...You're right...Best to let Mr. G. play his hand...And see what results…" Buffy rose, adjusting her large hat and frowning at the passing women in the street...Doesn't anyone wear hats anymore?... "Why don't we go and see how much of the place I can still remember?...Dawn?..."

Mr. G?...Xander eyed Willow...Who shrugged...Least she's not sneaking off to find Henri...

Definitely not our Buffy...Both thought, sadly...

"Yeah..." flat response from Dawn...

"If you must wear that...Button up a little, please..."

Arggh...Eye roll...But reluctantly, compliance...



"Off we go, children..." Buffy offered an arm to Xander, the other to Andrew...

"Now...You have not seen Rome until you've seen St. Peter's..." she thumbed at her guidebook, arms still locked in her, as she noted, gallant chaperones'...

***

Seven hours later...

Never...Never...Never...Willow groaned to herself...Struggling to keep up with the bubbling Buffy, eagerly enthusing to Andrew...Who was now simply being dragged along, mostly dead weight on her arm...On the wonders of the Sistine Chapel...

Never...Go sightseeing in a major city with a Slayer...She turned to urge on the lagging Olive, stumbling up a small flight of stairs after them...Xander behind her...

Dawn somehow keeping up gamely with Buffy and Andrew, though...She noted wearily...

Indeed Dawn seemed determined, grimly even, to do so...Her new dress heavily sweat-stained now...

"Everyone stay together..." Buffy called... "Willow?...Are you all right?..."

"F..fine...Buf..." she said, gasping a bit...

"Think Dawn...Might...Need a...Break, though..."

"I'm fine..." Dawn said...Swaying a bit but gritting her way through...

"Yes..." Buffy eyed her... "We'd best stop a moment..."

"I'm fine...Les go..." Dawn frowned, waving a weary hand...

Andrew, at least released, falling to the floor, wheezing...

"Mr. Wells?...Are you all right?..." Buffy stared...

"Oh...Yes...Ma'am…" Andrew put up a hand... "Need...A....Moment..." He crept to a bench and sat...

"Well, in any case..." Buffy beamed.. "If you'll look over there...Through there is where the great Michaelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine...Breathtaking, even from here, isn't it...?"

"Oh...Yeah..." Xander gasped...

"Dawn...?" Buffy looked her over... "I think you'd better sit with me a moment..."

Dawn put up a hand... "I'm fine..." And stumbled over to look at the rear wall of the chapel...

"That's not the best..." Buffy called... "...View..." She eyed Xander, who nodded and went toward where Dawn was sourly scanning the lesser artworks...

"Give her a mo, Buf..." Willow had reached her...And sat, panting a bit...

"What am I to do with her, Willow?..." Buffy sat as well...

"Some water...She'll be..."

"You know what I mean..." Buffy frowned...

"Don't press her...Give her some space..."



She regarded Willow…"She hates me, doesn't she...?"

"Nah...They're all like that at her age...We were..."

"But I wasn't, Willow..." Buffy, wan smile... "I'm not the Buffy who was like that..."

And she's never going to forgive me...For not being that Buffy...

"How about you...?" she eyed Willow... "Can you forgive me?..."

"Nothing to..." Willow said carefully... "So long as it wasn't your fault..."

Buffy sighed...Straightening her hat...

"It wasn't Willow...You believe that?..."

"I want to..." Willow nodded... "You do seem like a good person...And your story checks so far..."

"Thanks..." wan smile... "I know you feel I've stolen your friend away..."

"I loved Buf...I won't lie and say I like her being gone...It's not fair...Still...You've had your own share of misery, I know..."

"I wish I could be Buffy...For all of you..." she sighed... "I wish I could pull up one memory for you and for Dawn...I have tried, you know..."

"It's only been a few days..." Willow noted... "For all we know, it is organic and you'll..."

"Go away quietly and let Buffy come home..." Buffy smiled again...

"I don't mean it that way..."

"I don't know why I'm here, Willow...Truly...At first I thought...I must be here to be with William...To save him, perhaps...But..." she shrugged... "It seems Fate is always laughing at us..."

Still...She leaned back a bit... "I can't give him up...Not quite yet..."

"His soul's alive..." Willow noted... "Wherever he went after Sunnydale..."

"And I should follow..." Buffy smiled... "Perhaps...Yes...When I have some answers...And can be sure..."

"We don't want you to hurt yourself...Cicely..." Willow, hastily... "We're ready to wait as long as it takes for you to do whatever it is you're here to do...If you'll just promise not to do anything that will hurt Buffy..."

"Thank you..." she smiled..."But Dawn's wishes should be respected...Buffy it is..."

"Right..." Willow smiled back... "Except maybe...Just now and then, between us..."

Smile...Then a cloudiness... "Willow?...What if it's forever...?...My whole life...Buffy's...?...And William gone, too..."

"I don't know..." Willow shook her head... "We'll...Just...Find a way to deal...And William will find you...Somewhere...I tell ya, that guy just doesn't know when to quit..."

"That's for certain..." Buffy grinned... "And neither do I...Thanks...Best Hebrew friend..." she patted Willow...Who grinned back...Shaking her head...Oy...

"Dawn?..." Buffy rose...Dusting her long skirt off... "You have to see the ceiling properly..."

"Great..." Dawn frowned...



****

"One of the colossal works of Roman Imperial civilization, the baths of Caracalla, built by the emperor of the same name…" Buffy noted… Dawn looking grim by her side…

A number of tourists in the crowd now collected about her…Clearly assuming the young woman to be a guide…Her dress certainly suggestive of it…

"She has a built-in career, at least…" Willow noted to Xander as Buffy eagerly fielded questions…The legitimate guides frowning at her…

"If the tour guide Mafia doesn't bump her off by days' end…" he replied, glaring at one young guy shaking his fist at the interloper…

"Can you speak to Dawn, Xander?..." Willow asked… "Get her to bring it down a little?..."

"Already tried…She has a point, Wil…It's not Buffy over there…" he said quietly…

"I thought you agreed we'd give her a chance…" she looked at him…

Andrew standing in crowd, observing all and sundry with admirable Watcher candidate thoroughness…Sucking on his Yoohoo obtained at Buffy's insistence after considerable search on hearing it pronounced as his favorite beverage…Olive next to him…

"We're here…Doesn't mean we have to drop our guard…"

"And I have?..."

"Didn't say that, Wil…But you know Giles said to be careful with her…"

"I want Buffy back as much as you, you know…"

"I know…" he nodded… "And I like Cicely too…But lets face it…One of them will have to go in the end…"

"Unless…" Willow began… "You were the one who said she might be Cicely…Buffy, I mean…Might be Cicely…Just not having remembered before…"

"Yeah…And if she is…What happens to the Buffy we knew…?"

"Well…Buffy with a little extra…Once she gets her memories of now back…"

"Maybe…" he sighed…

"Even the floors were heated by air from the furnaces below…" Buffy was explaining…

"But is that…?" he shrugged Buffy's way…

"I see a lot of Buffy in her, Xander…" Willow tried… "You do too…"

"Sometimes…" he nodded… "But lets not let her get too comfortable in Buf's place, Wil…After all, she may only be Cicely…And we may have to get rid of her…Maybe the hard way…"

"I know…" Willow sighed…Looking over…

Hey…She stared…

Group now followed Buffy's lead into the back chambers…

"She knows her Roman…" Xander noted…

"Xander…She's supposed to stay out where we can…She's slipping out on us…Come on!..." she pulled at Xander's arm…



***

"She and Dawn were at the head of the group…" Andrew shook his head… "I looked to scan the crowd for any potential threats and they were gone…"

"Olive's gone too…" Xander frowned… "You're right, Wil…They gave us the slip…"

"But Dawn wouldn't go with them, would she?..." Willow asked… "Unless…"

"Hostage situation?..." Andrew inquired… "Should I contact Mr. Giles?..."

"She wouldn't…" Willow shook her head… "Dawn must've agreed to go…"

"And we were thinking she wasn't acting like Buf…" Xander, wan smile… "You're right, Wil…Sometimes, she's definitely there…So now what?...Do we call Giles?..."

"I guess so…I don't know how else to find the Immortal…And she must have gone looking for him…"

"He has a villa just outside the city…" Andrew noted… It was in Buffy's guide book, he explained…

"I thought Cicely was gonna follow the program…And that she was much too polite to try and go over without a formal invitation…"

***

"I appreciate this very much, Dawn…" Buffy eyed her as the cab containing her, Dawn, and Olive made its tortuous way through late afternoon Roman traffic…

"I'm not letting you out of my sight…" Dawn replied… "This better be worth it…Xander and Willow are going to be pissed…Not to mention Giles if he hears about it…"

"I couldn't wait any longer…And I just don't trust the Council…" Buffy sighed…

Dawn was silent…

"We won't let Buffy come to harm, Dawn…" Olive noted… "But she may be right about the Council…Not that Rupert is involved, necessarily, but…"

"Why should they care, now?..." Dawn frowned… "It's over…You and Will are dead and buried, a century ago…"

"The Council has a long memory…And Mr. Giles had instructions to deal with William if he returned…" Buffy pointed out… "He admitted to you he's lied…"

"You lie…" Dawn shrugged… "You just tricked the one person who's come to trust you…Willow…And you knew all along where to find the Immortal…"

"I never said to her I wouldn't try…And I'm only hoping to find Henri here…He could be at any of dozens of places he owns about here…This is just the one I found in the guide book…"

"What's so special about him, anyway?...He's a vamp, right?..."

"Of sorts…A special one though…" Buffy noted… "Even before I helped him…"

"Hope so…You've gambled a lot on this one…" Dawn frowned…

"I'll explain to Willow and Sandler…They'll understand…"

"Sure…Why not?...They like you…But don't count on me clearing things for you…"

Olive watching, worriedly…



"I know I've been hard on you, Dawn..." Buffy sighed... "Try to understand...All this...Is so hard for me to master, I've not been able to resist trying to rebuild a little of my own world with us...I promise I will try to be a little easier from now on..."

"That's not it..." Dawn shook her head...

"The problem is..." she looked at Buffy sadly... "I'm getting to like you...And I can't let myself like you..."

***

"Who?"



Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present...With help from an Immortal source.

Part X...

***

Villa de L' Immortale de Roma...

Well, the antique hand-chiseled stone plaque means what it says...Dawn reflected...As she and Buffy watched Olive at the villa's street entrance from across the street in a small café...

"You see all the ancient homes used to open right on the street so the patron's clientela could be gathered for all to see the prestige and power of..." Buffy happily continued her Roman tour lecture... "Right..." Dawn nodded...

What I get for feeling bad about hurting her feelings on the way over...she sighed inwardly...

"I am sorry, Madame..." a dark-haired, ancient servant, at said villa entrance, an equally ancient work of art in itself, the man bearing what would have been a remarkable resemblance to the Immortal's servant who'd confronted and been duly killed by Angelus over a century earlier, had anyone from that meeting been present to recognize the fact…

Cut to shot of Spike, in rather William outfit, and Angelus in 1894…Both manacled and chained to the ceiling of what appears to be a barn..Attempting to break free, they curse the name of the Immortal as suddenly the door opens and a man in a suit arrives, backed by men with crossbows…Cautiously releasing them the man apologizes on behalf of His Benevolence, the Immortal, before explaining they were detained as punishment for acts they committed against His concerns...Angelus insisting in turn that it is their city, they were here first, but the man informs them that the Immortal was, hundreds of years ago, and they are to leave Rome and never return..Unimpressed, Angelus snaps his neck and warns off the others and as they leave he tells Spike there is going to be a reckoning with this new menace…Soon…

The servant sighed to Olive...

"His Benevolence is not at home...But I will pass on your message...Good day..."

"Mrs. Walthrop, please remember..." Olive stressed...

"Indeed, Mrs. Walthrop..." he nodded...

"I should have gone..." Buffy, nervously watching from their table... "It's too dangerous for Olive..."



"You both agreed she looks more like you...Her...Than you...Or at least more like a Walthrop..." Dawn noted... " 'Sides I thought you said Henry was a great guy..."

"Henri...And he's not the one I'm afraid of..." Buffy glanced up and down the street, then back to where Olive was reluctantly turning away as the old gentleman closed the door gently but firmly...

"Good...Here she comes..." she rose...

"If you mean Giles..." Dawn frowned... "I wish you'd get off this kick...Giles may have followed some stupid Council orders with William but he'd never hurt us...Or you...You act like the Council is some kind of Murder, Inc...Or Wolfram-Hart..."

"Hurting William or trying to is hurting me...Besides, I've seen the Council at its worst...Did you ever suspect that your souled version of Angelus would join that other evil band?..." Buffy eyed her...

"We still don't know what Angel's up to...And sure, Angelus would in a sec...But he's not Angelus and Giles isn't some kind of Professor Moriarty with assassins armed with air..."

She blinked at the glass which had suddenly shattered in her hand...

"Down!!..." Buffy yanked her under the table...The other patrons looking at them, startled...A few rising...Staff likewise in confusion...Calls for police...A nervous headwaiter or manager racing for their table...

"Professor Who?..." Buffy stared at the shaken Dawn...

***

"You're sure about this Wil?..." Xander eyed Willow as the cab bearing him and Willow...Andrew assigned to 'hold fort' at the hotel and field any calls from Giles...Pulled out into the Roman evening traffic... "Giles will have a fit that we didn't contact him the moment Buffy ran out on us..."

"We know she went to find the Immortal, Xander...I'm mad at her but I don't want Giles riled up any more than he is already over her...Not yet, anyway...God, how could she be so…?"

Buffy…Neither she nor Xander had to say…Wry grin between them…

"And if this is a trick...Cicely or whoever leading us on...The Immortal a part of it?"

"He'll have a field day saying he told us so...Even if he has to do it at our gravesites..."

***

"Are you absolutely sure you're all right?..." Buffy again asked Olive who'd returned to find considerable consternation at the café and her 'aunt' of sorts with Dawn now sheltering cautiously within...The manager nervously eyeing them from time-to-time and periodically renewing offers to call a doctor, police, which Buffy tactfully declined...

"Yes...Fine...But what or who do you think...?"

"Lord knows...Buffy's...William's...My own enemies..." Buffy shook her head...

"In any case someone who knew we were coming to see the Immortal..." she noted...

Damnation...She eyed her ruined left glove...A total loss, though fortunately stained only with wine from her own glass, shattered in turn by part of Dawn's...Decent hand-made ones like these weren't easy to find in this benighted era...

"Dawn, you're all right?..." Olive asked...

"Yeah, sure…It was just a glass...Buffy...It couldn't have been Giles...He didn't know we were going straight over..."



"I didn't say it was..." Buffy said, looking over across the street... "But he and his people knew we would be coming eventually...And no one else did..."

"That we know of...And it coulda been an accident...Something hitting my glass..."

Buffy eyed her...

"Well, this is Italy..." Dawn shrugged... "Maybe we got in the path of a Mafia hit..."

" 'could have been', Dawn...There's never a need to let your grammar slip...Mafia?..."

"Crime families...Italian...We'll watch 'The Godfather' when we have a chance, you'll get the idea..."

"Hmmn..." Buffy nodded... "You mean like the Sicilian clans...Vendetta..."

"Yeah, actually..."

"I doubt it..." she looked round... "I've fought the demon variety in my day...They always leave a calling card so the victim's people know who did it...No point in going to the trouble of a public killing without taking responsibility, instilling fear...Besides...No one else has tried to flee the place..."

"I suppose..." Dawn shrugged...

"What about this Professor of yours...?" Buffy suggested... "He sounded dangerous..."

Professor?...Olive stared...

"Scusi..." a tall young man of perhaps thirty had come over to them, dressed in workman's clothes of dark, heavy shirt with tawny, stained old vest, crushed soft old cap, features brown from long hours in the sun... "Signorinas...?"

"The gardener from the villa..." Olive noted... "He was working in the front when I went to the door..." He gave a gracious smile and nod...

Not bad...Dawn looked the guy over...Kinda cute actually...An Italian Jude Law but for the rather rough, dirt-stained clothes...The man smiling at her briefly now...Late sun glinting a bit on his dark hair...

Hmmn...Quite not bad...

"Excuse me for intruding, ladies..." he'd switched to flawless English... "I saw what happened from across the way...Are you ladies all right?..." he looked at them...Eyeing each in turn...Settling on Olive for a long moment before returning to Buffy...

"Quite..." Buffy smiled at him...Straightening her hat and extending her still-gloved right hand...

"And how are you, Henri?..."

***

The Immortal, now in casual yet elegant white suit...Probably costing more than our old house, Dawn thought, smiled to the elderly attendant now bringing in a tray, glasses, and what he apologized for as a wine hardly fitting for the occasion...

"Gratzi, Giovanni..." he nodded...

Not you...Buffy frowned at Dawn as she reached for a glass... "Water for the young lady, Giovanni..." she noted to the elderly man who moved a napkin on his tray to reveal a glass already on hand...

Dawn frowning in turn...

"I only wish I'd known for sure today would be the day..." Henri smiled, lifting glass... "But we'll open the best with dinner..."



"To the reunion of old friends..." he toasted...

"...And those who cannot be with us for now..." a quiet nod to Buffy...

"Thank you, Henri..." Buffy smiled... "I was afraid I might not find you in Rome...Sorry I didn't feel safe sending a messenger or telephoning you directly..."

"I knew you were coming, Cicely...Thanks to your Mr. Giles...So I kept close to town..." he looked at her...

"You look...Much too thin..." he shook his head...

"It seems the fashion nowadays..." Buffy shook hers, shrugging... "But let me introduce my family properly...My sister, Dawn Summers...My great-great-great-grandniece, Olive...Amelia's side of the family..."

"Sweet Amelia..." he nodded... "Yes, I see the resemblance..." he turned to Dawn...

"And you as well...Dawn...You have her eyes and mouth...Though the rest is Cicely's..."

Sorry...He waved a hand at her stare... "For me, it's only a day since I watched them together...A moment since I stood with Henry at dear Amelia's grave..."

Cicely's...? I look like Cicely...? Dawn blinked...

Of course Spike did tease me that time when Halfreck was trying to get a wish out of me... "No wonder she's a shine to you, Nibs...You could be her lil' vengeance bundle..." But I'd thought he was kiddin'...

"You see it too..." Buffy nodded... "I'm sure it means something...Buffy...I...Must have a physical connection to Cicely...As well as spiritual..."

"You've not confirmed the nature of your return?..." he asked...

"Mr. Giles is doing his best to find me a spirit...Demonic if possible, evil hopefully, possessive undoubtedly...But the jury is still out on just what I am..." Buffy shrugged... "Coming to see you is no small part of determining just what and who I am now..."

Henri eyed her a moment...

"What makes you so sure she's Cicely?..." Dawn asked... "Even if you knew her well and I look like her, Buffy's completely..."

"I suspected Buffy Summers was the one I've been awaiting since the day I saw her picture in London, during a Council presentation...You'd just become the Slayer..." he smiled faintly at Buffy..."It was clear you were young and as frightened as all Slayers initially are by your summoning...But there was something about your face, your carriage...The look of a woman, not a child...And a woman who understood what she faced, at least on some instinctive level..."

"Not to mention...You were still clearly obsessed with fashion...Though your tastes had changed to suit your new era..."

"Oh..." Buffy mock-frowned... "You, William, Henry...Will every man I have respect for eternally dismiss me as a shallow clothes-horse?..."

"She was trying on hats the day she died...I thought I would never get her out of that milliner's shop and to the hospital...Poor woman who ran the place was trembling for fear she'd have the baby right there..."

Buffy was silent after a brief smile at the start...

"Cicely, that was thoughtless of me, I'm sorry..." Henri sighed...

"It's just a day or two for me too, Henri..." Buffy smiled wanly...Dawn glancing to Olive, a troubled look…

"Scusi, Your Benevolence..." Giovanni had crept in... Henri nodding, the ancient retainer came to him, whispering...

"I would guess Mr. Harris and Miss Rosenberg are here..." Buffy sighed to Dawn and Olive... "I suppose I should expect fireworks?..."



"Just be glad her magics battery pooped a bit when she fired up all those Slayers..." Dawn noted... "After all, she probably would have kicked your butt last time you two faced off if she hadn't sent you after Andy and Jonathan..."

"Really?..." Buffy stared...

Slightest gleam in her eye after Dawn had turned to look where Xander and a rather furious-looking Willow were entering the room...

Kicked a Slayer's whatever….Raised from the dead…Sounds like the 'best friend' I need…

***

"Angry?..." Willow gave a snort... "Hoping mad, you mean...Damnit, Buffy, you promised me...I vouched with Giles for your good behavior...Hi, Willow Rosenberg..." she greeted the Immortal who seemed far more interested in Xander, though he politely welcomed her...Graciously noting that the reputation of her work with the Slayer's team preceded her…

"Willow, I'm truly sorry, but I had to..Uncanny, isn't it..." Buffy returned to Henri... "Sandler could be Henry's twin..."

"You're sure he's not...?..." Henri asked...

"Sandler, are you my cousin Henry's twin...?" she grinned at Sandler...er Xander...

"Not that I know of, Buffy..." Xander shook his head...Willow still frowning... Had to?...

"There...Must be a coincidence..." Buffy nodded...

"You know I meant a descendant, my girl..." Henri, reprovingly...

"No...Sandler checked...Didn't you Sandler?..." Buffy shook her head... "His family has no Foxcroft connections..."

"Remarkable...Put by one who has seen a deal of remarkable things..." Henri grinned at Xander... "Forgive our discussing you as if you weren't in front of us, Mr. Harris...Henry Foxcroft was a good friend...And a fine man...I would trade a great deal of my years to come to have him back..."

But...He smiled... "I know your record with Ms. Summers and it's obvious Cicely finds you at least Henri's spiritual descendant...I hope that you'll allow me to get to know you..."

"I was lucky to find him here...And Willow and Dawn and Olive, too..." Buffy hastily noted...

"That actually always intrigued me about Ms. Summers..." Henri, thoughtfully... "Her family and friends...As if she were trying to live the life you had always wished to have, Cicely..."

"Indeed...And I do appreciate it..." glance Willow's way...

"Yeah?...Would be nice if you acted like it..." Willow fumed...

"Dear Willow..." Buffy patted her... "Considering what happened just a short while ago outside, I'd say my caution in keeping part of our people safe while I made contact was not unjustified..."

"Somebody may have taken a shot at us..." Dawn explained...

"What?...Who? Are you sure?..." Willow stared...

"First...Some sort of air gun, Dawn thinks..." Buffy noted...

Just a guess...Dawn frowned... "I'm not one of those CSI guys who could probably tell you the make and year from the way the dust in the air currents moved..."



"Yes…" Buffy stared…'CSI guys'?.... "As to who..."

"I don't want to hear it without real proof, Buffy..." Dawn waved a hand… "I can't say for the rest of the Council, but Giles is our friend..."

"I didn't say 'Giles'...Specifically..." Buffy noted...

"He may not be for much longer if you keep pulling stunts like this…" Willow, annoyed… "I don't see the need for you to have run off like this Buf…I'd say we have at least as much reason to distrust you as you do Giles…"

"I had to know it was safe…" Buffy insisted… "Putting Dawn and Olive in danger…?" Willow eyed her…

"If I could have gone without them I would have…But until I'm legally recognized as Cicely Walthrop or Dawn gives me the information to access our bank accounts…Dawn and Olive control all my funds…And they insisted on coming…"

Darn tootin'…Dawn nodded…Not that there's exactly much to access under the Summers name…

"I felt it was safer going suddenly than awaiting Mr. Giles' arrangements…I'm sorry…Sandler, I apologize to you too…"

"It's Xander…I should tell him, you know…" Willow began…

"Sorry…" Buffy, a bit crestfallen, to Xander… "I hope you know I mean no…"

"I don't mind…" Xander smiled, waving it off… "It's nice to freshen things up nicknamewise every now and then…But Willow's right, Buffy…If you want our trust…"

"I do…I'm not much used to operating with others, you know…" she sighed… "Henry helped me at times but only after Will died did he know about my little 'career'… I'm used to having only Simon's help…And not generally in the field… Henri was only with me at the very end…I've always relied on my own judgment…"

Not always with success, obviously…she smiled wanly…

"If you don't want our help…" Willow, coolly…

"I do…I do desperately, Willow…I only say this to try and make you understand why it may be hard for me at times to turn to others…After all, all of this began, fundamentally, because I did want a family…Friends…Beside me…I'd fought alone for years and I hated it…The thought of dying alone…Unloved…Not even to have begun a life before I died somewhere…At some thing's hands…" she regarded them…

"But the consequences of my…Selfishness…Were so devastating…" she paused…

"It was never your fault, Cicely…" Henri shook his head… "And no one, particularly William, blames you…"

"Not wishing to interrupt a nice reunion...But how did you meet...?" Willow asked...

"Pretty much the usual way of Slayers and vampires..." Henri grinned, Buffy returning a smile...

"But this is a tale for our dinner...Come, my friends..." He rose, extending an arm to Dawn which she took just a bit hesitantly at Buffy's nod..."My people have spent the last two days since Mr. Giles contacted my office in Rome trying to think up something suitable and I have no doubt it will be memorable..."

That could always serve as a good "Hello, I'm the big bad, welcome to the trap" speech...Xander noted to Willow as they followed behind Olive and Buffy...Dawn and Henri leading the way...

"Indeed…And watch out for the trap door...The mosaic in the hallway just ahead...It used to be quite a lure for the unwary…" Henri called back to them merrily...

"And it was too..." Buffy noted... "You still have the crocodiles?..."



"Sadly they were not Immortal...But I did donate their offspring to a preserve in Egypt, they being authentic Egyptian crocodiles..."

****

"Who?"



Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present...With help from an Immortal source.



Part XI...

***

1871...

Villa de L' Immortale de Roma...Not actually looking that much different than in June 2003, though perhaps the street outside a bit less garbage strewn with carriages, carts, and people choking the streets rather than autos, scooters, and people...The people themselves a bit more ragged...Though the women decently veiled or hatted....

"Miss..." a much younger version...His doomed great-great-great-grandfather in fact...Of Giovanni eyeing the rather elegantly dressed if also rather forward and naturally, being so forward, young and equally naturally, foreign…And undoubtedly, British…Girl at the door...

"Jones..." Cicely nodded...Pressing a bit... "I really must see your master, sir...I promise you the matter is quite urgent...Life and death..."

"It is always life and death, Miss..." the younger Giovanni sighed...Come now... "Jones...But I regret to tell you once again, His Benevolence is not at home..."

"To visitors in general, I'm sure...But as my card indicates, I am here on behalf of the Royal Council of Antiquarians and Librarians, sir..."

"You seem rather young if one may say so, Miss, to be representing such an organization..."

"I think you'll find His Benevolence will consent to receive me..."

"My orders, Miss...Are to admit no one today..."

"I see..." Cicely threw the villa's ancient door back with a violent swipe, hurling Giovanni back down against the hallway wall... "Well, that makes things much easier, then..."

"Pardon me..." she nodded to his unconscious form...

"Young lady..." a weary voice from the darkness... "That was most ungracious...The poor man I assure you was only doing his duty...And is, after all, only human..."

"My apologies..." Cicely peered down the hallway...Fumbling for...Drat...Damned fool jacket always catches...Ah, good ole Dickens...Her favorite stake... "But he's still alive...Which may be more than he deserves, employed as he is by you..."

"A rather harsh judgement on a faithful servant's character, Miss..." the voice replied...."I for one would be amazed to learn of anything more than a bit of gambling in Giovanni's confessions..."

"You are the Immortal, I take it..." she called...



"Henri Faucomb d'Vestigy...Comte d'Vestigy...As of 1623 and at least until I wish again to make a change...At your service, young lady..."

"Hardly, I'd say..." she halted....Hesitating to press into the dark...No sign of light beyond that coming in behind from the street...

"Miss...Jones, was it?...My apologies for the lack of hospitality...I have indeed been indisposed today...To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit...?"

"You know very well, sir...The Council of Watchers has sent me to inform you that as a result of your recent actions, their agreement with you..."

"Yes?..." Henri smiled, startling her as he stepped out of the dark to her...She hadn't even sensed him moving in...His brown, deep eyes on her...

She dropped a step or two back, stake raised... "...is terminated..." she continued... "As a result of your own actions..."

"You are very young, my girl..." he smiled at her... "You can't be more than what, sixteen?..."

"Fifteen, sir...But I assure you, quite capable..."

"As I have heard..." he nodded... "So..." he sighed... "Your Council has decided to end our truce...That is a great pity..."

"For you, sir...However, it was at your ..." she eyed him carefully as he stepped slightly to the side...

"Pardon me...I've no wish to alarm you...Is it alright if I light a lamp?...It must be rather dark for you in here..."

She waved nervously, stepping back...

He struck a lucifer match and used it to light an oil lamp hanging in a small alcove off the hallway...His black suit gleaming a bit in the light…Rather dazzlingly white shirt with a single rather antique pin or brooch of some sort as used as stick pin catching her eye…

"That's better...Now, would you mind if I saw to poor Giovanni?..."

"By all means..." she watched him as he moved to the unconscious figure...The pictures Simon showed me do not do him justice…

"Poor fellow...You should be careful with humans, Miss Addams...They aren't as unbreakable as they may seem at times...Ah, Giovanni..." he patted the now coughing young servant...

A nervous glance...Addams?... "Jones…" she tried correcting…He not heeding as he looked Giovanni over…

"Pardon, your Benevolence..." apologetic look...Slight frown Cicely's way...

"Not at all, my friend...Come, you'd best go to the kitchen and have your wife look at you...Miss Addams was a bit overanxious about her mission to see me..." wry look back to Cicely who frowned... "But all's well and we will not need any assistance for the moment...Unless...Miss Addams?...Some tea or a cool drink, perhaps...?"

"No, thank you..." frown...Toying with me, I see...

"Perhaps later...There you are..." he helped the man to his feet… "Have a cup of wine and rest a bit, Giovanni, I will call when we want you..."

"Yes, Your Benevolence...Miss..."

"Sorry..." she called...Giovanni nodding in acknowledgment as he headed down the hallway...

"Sir..." she returned to the task at hand...'Dickens' firmly gripped... "I see you know me?..."

"In your few years, you have carved quite a reputation, my dear...But rest assured..." he shook his rather classically shaped, she had to admit, head... "Only as the mysterious Slayer...Of no name besides that of the 'Miss Jones' your Council has the lamentable lack of imagination to assign to all its ladies...Rather ridiculous in the case of the last Slayer, poor Amara..."



"Then...?"

He offered a paper from his corner...The Times, she saw...Her father, Sir Richard's face prominent...She...Damn...Clear as day beside him on the deck of their ship at the Naples docks...

"My agents had uncovered some information as to your identity but your family's fame proceeds you...Unfortunate for a Slayer..."

"Unfortunate for you, sir...If you mean to threaten my father…My family…"

"Miss Addams..." the Immortal frowned slightly... "If I had wanted to exploit such knowledge about you..."

"You have risked your very existence, sir...I can assure you the Council does not look kindly on your actions..."

"'However'..." he quoted, a wry look... "As you haven't staked me yet, I assume there's some room for negotiation..."

"You have something...Things...Which are Council property, sir...Taken from Council premises...By you..."

"Hardly, Miss...At least as to their being 'Council property'...These items were taken long along from their rightful...Or at least original...Owners..."

"By Slayers, in battle, sir..."

"By Watchers, Miss Addams...Who knew their potential value as your poor predecessors could not..."

"Will you surrender them to me, sir?...And accept confinement to these premises until the Council has deliberated on your fate?..."

"Some, quite willingly, Miss Addams...As they did not turn out to have any value to my purpose...One or two, I must...Regretfully...Retain the use of, for now...As to confinement...Well, in the interests of peace between us...Personally as well as..."

"Unacceptable, sir..."

"That is a pity, young lady...For both of us, I fear...Will you not hear me out as to why I took them?..."

"You may explain to my Watcher and other Council members when they arrive to interview you, sir...For now...I must have those items...All of them..." Cicely tensed...

"Miss Addams..." sigh... "You surely have been informed that I have met in battle with Slayers in the past...Slayers far more experienced..."

Hmmn...He fell back at Cicely's sudden thrust and slash...

"You English girls..." he shook his head... "So bold and forward..."

She whirled but could not quite dodge his blow slamming her back against the wall...

"Miss Addams, I've no wish to add to my record...But do not press my benevolence too far...However my soul may seek to curb my nature I am...What I am, dear girl..." he eyed her as she struggled to her feet, panting heavily...

"And it is a pity to ruin that fine outfit..."

"The Council will pay for it..."

At least...They had better...And before Father sees it...

"Miss Addams, since I am quite willing to return some of the items, can we not call a brief truce?...You may find the ones I wish to retain are of no value to the Council..."

"That is not my business to judge, sir...Surrender all or face the consequences..."



"A harsh tone for a guest to take in my own home..." he frowned, eyeing her as she took defensive stance, tensed... "If you were not so very young, I could be annoyed with you...However..." he shrugged...

"This way..."

She paused, eyeing the dark hallway...

"I regret I cannot have the shutters opened at this time but if you wish me to recall Giovanni to light the hall lamps..."

"That won't be necessary...After you, sir..."

"Are you sure we should not have a chaperone?..." teasing tone now... "I fear for your reputation, miss..."

"My reputation will bear it...Take me...Ummn...To the items..." she hastily added...Avoiding his eyes...

My God, Simon was right about him...He is incredibly...Oh, pull yourself together, girl...She sighed...

"Your Council is very foolish not to undertake to hear me out, miss..." the Immortal paused... "Our truce has been fruitful for all..."

"You should have thought of that before, sir...Indeed, I rather find it horrible that we should have offered a monster...Worse than a monster..." she said, carefully watching...

"...Young lady..."

"A man who voluntarily shares existence with the foulest side of his nature..."

"All men do, to varying extents, miss...But if so foul, all the more reason to take extreme care..."

"Your own reputation proceeds you, sir...I'm quite on guard, believe..." she gasped as the rather lovely mosaic beneath her feet...Of an ancient farmyard scene...Peasant or perhaps slave gently leading a donkey along a path, both man and donkey eyeing the viewer with an amused look...Dropped to one side to reveal an emptiness into which she fell...

"My regrets, miss...But Giovanni did tell you I was not at home to anyone today..." His Benevolence called... "Are you all right, miss?...The fall's not great..."

"DAMN YOU!!!..." a cry...

"Long ago..." he returned... "You'll find a tunnel passageway to your right, miss...But please mind the stream in the center...It's not only rather deep but I keep it well..."

Scream...

"...Stocked with crocodiles...But they'll have had their midday meal, Miss...Just don't do anything to provoke them..."

"You...Foul!...Stay right there, I'll be with you momentarily, sir!!..." cold tone...

He shook his head, grinning...Well..And moved to one side of the hallway past the mosaic, still lowered to reveal the gaping hole to the cavern below..."Just a moment...I would not want you to think I'd lied about returning some items, Miss Addams...:" he reached into a small wall space, pulling out a small black velvet bag...

Watch out below!...he called...Dropping the bag into the cavern space...

"Be careful with those, sir!!..."

Low growl...And a bit too low to be quite human he noted...

"Miss Addams, I'd take some care..."



Howl of animal pain...

"...Not to harm the poor beasts..." he concluded... "They're a bit rare, that particular species..."

"As are you, you ...!!!"

"You have the items?..."

"This will not save you, sir!..." call...

"I hardly expect it to, dear girl...But a promise is a promise...Now, why don't you find your way to the passage and be off before my poor animals must suffer any further..."

Silence...

"Miss Addams?..." he called down, leaning over the open space... "Are you...?"

He blinked as she hopped out of the hole, stake slashing at him...Flipping over in mid air

Impressive...He nodded as she landed on the side of the hallway, arch look...

"I prefer this way...Much faster...And more to the point..." she aimed 'Dickens' at him carefully...An undercut held back as she regarded him...

"Well done..." he beamed... "I am pleased to see your reputation does not do you justice..."

"The rest, sir…" she shook the bag, now hanging by its rope tie off her shoulder…

"As I told you…I still require them…When I have finished with them, I will return them…If it is a matter of concern how I plan to use them…" he paused… "I can assure you they pose no danger to Humanity or your Council in anyone's hands, particularly mine…"

"What, on your word of honor…?" she shook her head… "I'm afraid that has no credit any longer, if it ever did, sir…"

"Enough…" he raised a hand… "You're a charming young lady and it has been a pleasure to meet you, Slayer…But I am really rather weary and would like to be left in peace…Tell your Council I apologize for my action but it was of great personal importance that I borrow the items…And that I did request them previously for services rendered which had to that date gone unrecompensed and was, rather ungraciously, refused…If my visit caused alarm, I doubly apologize but I would point out that no damage was done to human or property…Good day, Miss Addams…"

"Sir, you'll find me…"

She let out a shriek finding him beside her…

"You are a marvelous Slayer, but you still have much to learn before you face one like me in real battle, girl…" he seized her wrist as she tried to bring 'Dickens' up, wrenching stake out of her hand and tossing it aside…She barely managed to wrest loose from his grip, staring at him…Glancing to where 'Dickens' lay now on the other side of the still yawning hole in the floor…

A moment to gather…One leap…

"Leave my home, Miss Addams…" he said quietly…Staring into her face…

Such beautiful eyes…Yes…

No…Damn, Simon warned you…She broke her gaze, swung to the right, barely escaping his quick grasp…Leaping…A quick grab, turn…

"Very well…" he sighed…Shaking his head…

She leapt at him, thrusting with 'Dickens'…A good slam into the chest and…



And…Nothing…She landed and stared at where the stake had entered the chest and remained, about half still visible, the rest plunged deep…

"You were expecting a cloud of dust?..." he gave a wry grin…Pulling the stake out…A bit bloody now…Tossing 'Dickens' back to her…She grabbing the stake up…

"But…" she stared…

"Your Council ought to know by now that I am more than a simple vampire…" he shrugged… "And that I would not have taken this form, risked my Immortal soul, simply to be at the mercy of the first beam of sunlight or young Slayer chancing to cross my path…"

He moved to the side of the hallway…To the little alcove where he'd fetched the oil lamp earlier, which still burned brightly there…And threw open a small window…

"Of course…" he nodded at the light now streaming in…Falling on his exposed hand… "I am not totally free of the restraints of my condition…Light does tend to give me a bit of headache…"

And a stake inserted into the chest, some discomfort…he grinned…

"I hope you do see now, the danger you have been put in, rather thoughtlessly, I would say, by your Council…And the extent of my benevolence in not taking this little skirmish to its conclusion…"

Cicely considered her options…Trying to hold a firm defensive stance…What does one do when all options are exhausted?…

The door…Is that way, Miss…He pointed…

"I'll find my own way, thank you…" she hopped back to the opening in the floor and leapt…

"Miss…"

Growl from below…Followed by howl of pain…

"Miss Addams, please…" he called… "They're not used to visitors besides me…"

"Sorry…" returned...

***

A rented suite of rooms in an area of Rome for the respectable if not fashionable foreign tourist...

The white-haired man facing Cicely from his chair frowned...As did the two flanking him, one a woman in plain, even severe dress, spectacles perched on nose...Perhaps, given her relative youth, wishing her outfit to confer authority...The other an anxious young man in a suit too heavy for the climate in Rome, moping his perspiring brow frequently...

"You say you made a direct hit...To the heart?..." the white-haired man asked...

"I can't say if I struck his heart exactly, to be sure, Mr. Farris..." Cicely sighed, moving a bit in her own rather uncomfortable wooden chair... "But I know it was my targeted area...It's always worked with these creatures before..."

"You surely must have missed, Cicely..." the woman shook her head... "It was wrong of you to let him panic you like that, girl..."

"I did not panic, Miss Ames..." Cicely glared... "He took a strike to the chest, pulled my stake out, and for good measure demonstrated his ability to withstand sunlight...I followed my training and retreated..."

"I'm sure Miss Addams did what she thought was right..." the nervous young man cut in... "The question is, what do we do now..."

"Yes..." the white-haired Farris leaned back... "That is the question..."



"I think she should confront him again...At once..." Miss Ames insisted... "He has a few clever dodges...She simply has to find the courage to make her strike at an accurate range..."

"I was three feet from him...Mr. Farris, I'm perfectly willing to try again...But I need a weapon effective against him..."

"Nonsense..." Miss Ames began... "Go back and do your Duty, girl..."

"No..." Farris, sternly... "Cicely is quite right...And was right to break off the engagement..." he nodded to her...She trying to conceal her pleasure at his support...Not a frequent occurrence since she'd first been brought to him, Master Watcher Simon Duncan Farris, to begin training for her new calling... "To continue would have been senseless and probably cost us our Slayer..Not to mention those items she did retrieve...".

Miss Ames frowning...The nervous young man nodding...

"Did you know...?" Cicely asked...

"Certainly not..." Farris shook his head... "We were aware he had great ability and there were rumors of his having confronted Slayers in daylight but this..." he paused, tapping fingers together... "This presents a problem..."

"How do we kill a vampire who can't be staked?..." the young man asked...

"Burn him..." Miss Ames suggested... "Easy enough if you'd made a real effort..." she eyed Cicely... "You mentioned him lighting a lamp in your report..."

"Courteous of him..." the young man nodded...

"I would have had to go through him to reach it..." Cicely frowned...

Farris raised a hand as Miss Ames parted lips to make another objection... "Enough, I say...Cicely has done her work well...We have retrieved most of the stolen items, confirmed a rumor about His Benevolence, and learned two important new facts..."

"Two?..." Miss Ames paused in mid-frown... "You said we knew of his light resistance and the child only claimed his ability to resist staking...

"He's been weakened by whatever he was attempting to do with the remaining items..." Farris explained... "He broke off battle and Cicely described him as weary, claiming to be 'indisposed', correct?..."

"Yes, sir..." Cicely nodded...

"You believe that...?" Miss Ames asked, a bit of sarcasm in her voice which faded as Farris turned to eye her coldly...

"His Benevolence had no reason to lie, Miss Ames...Let us not allow our own prejudices to prevent us from analyzing potentially valuable information..."

"No, Dr. Farris..." she sighed...

"What exactly did he keep of the things?..." the still-perspiring young man asked, tugging a moment rather unconsciously at his tight collar...

"That is also an odd thing..." Farris glanced at the small wooden table on which he laid out the items removed from the velvet bag Cicely had brought in with her...

"Nothing of any potential threat or exceptional power, that I know of...In fact he has returned the orb of Calistos which was the one item which did have some potential for retaining mystic energy...Very odd...He broke his truce of two centuries with the Council, jeopardized his mortal world business interests and possibly his very existence...For what?...What does he hope to gain from what he kept with him?..."

"A game..." the young man suggested... "He said he knew of our Cicely...He probably wanted to meet her, feel out her...Abilities..." hastily... "Perhaps the whole theft was a lure...He knew we would send in our Slayer..."

"And he refrains from killing her...Why?..." Miss Ames asked...



"It amused him to let her live...For now..."

"Intriguing theory, Phillips..." Farris eyed him... "And not impossible but it hardly deals with the two major issues of the case...What does he seek to gain?...And how can Cicely engage him with a reasonable possibility of victory...You two..." he briefly eyed Miss Ames... "Will now each focus on one of those two issues...Report to me in the morning...Good evening..."

Ames and Phillips eyed each other...Cicely, casual gaze from her seat now...Night, bit players...

"Yes, sir..." Miss Ames, a bit miffed...Quick glance to Cicely... "But I should be taking Cicely back soon...Sir Richard will be expecting us..."

"She will be ready to leave shortly...You may retire to the study and begin...After seeing her safely home you can return...That will be all..."

"Sir..." she nodded...

"Good night, Miss Addams..." Phillips, rising...Tugging again at his collar... "I'd say it went well...I'm sure your hunt will succeed..."

Ummn...He hurried out of his chair under Farris' cold stare...Miss Ames already on her way to the study...

Lord be praised I'll be free in a just a bit to loosen...Whether the old battleaxe Ames likes it or no...

"Mr. Phillips..." Cicely nodded...

"The door, Phillips..." Farris eyed him...

"Yes, sir..." the young man started to close...

"Not all the way, boy...Think of Miss Addams' reputation..." Farris frowned...

"Yes, Dr. Farris..." Phillips left the door just ajar...Cicely repressing a smile...

"You can't be too careful, girl..." Farris returned her look...A smile now forming on his part...

"I'm sorry, sir..." she sighed... "Truly..."

"You survived...Accomplished the greatest part of our objectives...And you did your best..." he shook his head... "Nothing to be sorry about, my girl...I would have been rather annoyed with you had you been such a fool as to stay and be killed, you know..." he gave a mock glare and rose...Moving to a side door...

"Maria!..." he called... "Some tea for us...And then bring some to Miss Ames and Mr. Phillips in the study...

She looked at her hands a bit...Damn...Nails...Bitten down to the bone...And if Father sees...

"It's I who am sorry and should be, girl..." Farris returned to face her, standing... "I've served you poorly on this one...Not to mention those two idiots of mine...We should have ..Are you quite sure you're all right?..." he looked her over worriedly...

"Yes, sir...It wasn't your fault, sir..." she paused... "Didn't the Council know about his abilities?..."

"Only a very little...Believe me if you think it was foolish to make truce with him and then fail to learn all we could about him, you have a firm supporter in me... Cicely...?" narrow look, followed by smile... "You were biting again?..."

She sighed... "Yes...Again...And Father will be livid if he sees...I'm sorry, Dr. F...." she looked up at his smile...Smiling herself...

"We'll see what Maria can do about it..." he winked at her...Pulling the table closer to her, then a chair for himself... "Cicely, my poor girl, truly...It was wrong to send you in like this...You are not to risk another engagement, whatever the Council wishes...Not until we have more solid information on His Benevolence..." the name pronounced with slight sneer...

"He was actually rather charming...Why didn't he kill me?..." she looked at him as he took seat..."Do you think...Phillips' idea...?"



"Perhaps...Difficult as it is to imagine that young oaf conceiving the correct idea..."

"Mr. Phillips does try very hard, sir..." she gave a little grin to his frown... "I'm sure if you encouraged him, he'd develop into a fine Watcher..."

"Not for some considerable time, my girl...If I should have any say in the matter..." Farris shook his head... "For that would mean another Slayer as well...And you are going to see old age if I live..."

He paused as Maria entered with tea and began setting up...Cicely chatting with her briefly in Italian...

"Cake...?" he offered...She gratefully taking the slice...

"I'd like to..." she looked at him... "...Old age I mean..." wan smile...

"And you will...But for that...We must work harder than ever before...Training and research..." he nodded... "Particularly..."

"'To defeat the Evil, one must study it'..." she quoted, grinning...

"You're learning, my girl..."

"Dr. Farris...?" Miss Ames was at the door... "I think we must be going now...Sir Richard will be home and concerned if we haven't yet returned..."

"Yes, we'd better..." Cicely nodded... "I'd no idea it was getting so very late...Will you send Mr. Phillips tomorrow?...Or come yourself?..."

"Hmmn...If I have anything to send it will be through Phillips or slipped first to Miss Ames...I fear your father might find my appearance in Rome and on your doorstep a bit much...We'll try to have something for you in the next few days...But Cicely..." his voice stern... "Do not try another attack on His Benevolence, whatever nonsense Ames spouts...Your life is important, not something to be thrown away for no good reason...And there is nothing here, so far that is a good enough reason...You understand me?..."

"I'll be careful, Dr. Farris..." she nodded, rising for the door... "Thank you for the tea..."

"Good night, my girl...And pleasant dreams...Though, Cicely..." he eyed her...

"Sir?..." she paused...

"Not too pleasant...If they should happen to involve a certain 'charming' vampire..."

"I never know when you're listening to me or not, Mr. Farris..." she grinned slyly and closed the door...

***

"Stake in the chest?..." Willow eyed Henri who gave a sheepish wave of hands... "Not bad...So that was your first meeting...?"

"As I said..." Henri nodded... "Pretty much the usual Slayer-vampire first encounter..."

Dawn a bit in glare mode...Yet feeling a tad ridiculous...

I mean...I'm feeling a little mad at her for William's sake?...she thought...

"And what were you after with those Council things...?" Xander, eyeing him...

"That which I'd so thoughtlessly sacrificed so many centuries before..."

Dawn rolled her eyes...Another vamp who wants to win his soul back?...

***

"Who?"

Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present...With help from an Immortal source.

Part XII...

***



Terrace garden of the Villa de L'Immortale de Roma...Sunset...

"No, Andy..." Willow was telling her cell... "There's no reason to call Giles just yet...We're satisfied with Cicely's...Buffy's reasons for coming with just Dawn and Olive..." Slight frown at sheepish-looking Buffy...Dawn...Olive...in turn... "Just stand-by and check in with me in an hour...What?...Right..." She turned to Xander... "Watch?..." He rolled eyes but held up wrist... "Synchronizing...Ok...See ya, Andy...Bye..."

"He's just trying to do things right, Xander…" she noted…

"Thanks, Willow..." Buffy, apologetically...

"Indeed, Miss Rosenberg..." Henri nodded...

She put up a hand... "This is me holding off...Not letting you off, Buffy...And if you pull something like this again..." she frowned...

"Understood..." Buffy nodded...

"So..." Xander looked at Henri...Who still maintained a slightly disturbing tendency to look his way with considerable interest... "You took those things to get your soul back...? I thought..."

"No, my soul was quite front and center here..." Henri sighed...Eyeing Buffy with wry look... "I'd not had that rather unfair bargain forced upon me...However poor my choice was, my soul was not lost...And to my shame, the choice was a completely voluntary one…"

"Your soul and the demon bound in some way...?" Willow asked...

"Exactly...Along with some special provisions my abilities gave me...I was once a rather good sorcerer...Though not quite so good as I'd convinced myself I was at the time..."

William never did that...Dawn thought, narrow look at Buffy...

Still, all this is about William, so she says...

"What?..." Buffy looked back...

"Nothing..." Dawn returned to attending Henri...

"But you must've of known...Didn't you guess what it would be like?...You really thought a nice guy like you could...?" Willow…

He gave a wan smile...Buffy eyeing him...

"I was hardly a 'nice guy' in my human day, Willow..." he sighed... "Though I was raised with love…By two slaves whose lives despite their sufferings remain a beacon to my pitiful soul down to this day…But when power came to me at last, I rejected their lessons, relished my new strength, allied with Evil...Happily exploited magic and power to dominate and even, where I wished, destroy...Only the fact that Rome and its environs were a rather small world compared to the whole Earth...And my cowardice in seeking out the rest of that world...Prevented my human career from doing even more damage to Humanity...But then, in spite of all my abilities..."

"The bill came due..." Xander eyed him...Willow pensive…

"With an Evil vengeance...I'd extended my life unnaturally but even that couldn't save me...Though it had, over time, caused me to rethink a few things..."

"Such as..." Willow asked...

"Even for an arrogant, unfeeling ass...Ever see 'Groundhog Day', Bill Murray?...You must see that one, Cicely...There comes a moment when he begins to see...If he lives long enough...What he's given up in cutting himself off from others...I began to regret my life...Somewhat...And more importantly to fear I had joined the losing side..."

"Natch..." Dawn nodded...

"Indeed...When one exists long enough the evidence begins to pile that Evil is not destined to win out...Nor Immortals triumph...And then in came a new religion which warned the end was coming..."

"You saw the dawn of Christianity...?" Olive asked...

"Can't say I saw the Cruifixion as some like to claim...I was a general in Germany at the time...But...As time went on I saw, despite Evil's attempts to exploit and distort its message there was some real hope in it...At least as a vehicle for bettering Humanity, not necessarily as a divine truth...Which I can neither confirm nor deny out of my own experience..." he nodded to a slightly miffed Willow...What, that again?

"A part of the development of human morality...As all good faiths are and should be...And seeing that Humanity was advancing, even triumphing...At least over the long course...I began to take an interest in individuals...Beyond the simple gross pleasures I had taken in, or mostly, from them...Not since I'd been a child had I cared...Truly cared for others...But of course fear was still my primary motivating factor...Whether or not the Christian Judgement loomed...The defeat of Evil in Time was certain...And I was doomed..."

"So...Give up team Evil, join team Good..." Dawn noted...

"Not an easy thing, Dawn..." he replied... "I wasn't quite ready to become a saint...Or even a good follower...Of any faith...No, I chose to hedge my bets...I did what I could to begin a redemption of sorts...I was even one of the Better Roman Emperors for a time...And a power behind numerous thrones, striving to do some good…Though whether my heart was fully in it at the time, I can't honestly say...But my fear gnawed at me and I continued to seek a way to cheat the ferryman..."

"Death..." Olive explained to the puzzled looks...

"And found probably the worst possible way, after centuries of seeking and my physical body reaching the limits even of the most powerful magics...I could take on the Immortality of the Undead and yet keep my Immortal soul in place...And strengthen that Immortal body with the powers of the true vampire...Not the mere hybrid experiments we see in the world today...And I convinced myself I could do it at no price to my redemption...Physically Immortal, yet keeping the option of redemption open…"

"Playing both ends..." Willow nodded... "Didn't you guess it wouldn't work?..."

"Of course...But would that stop an arrogant and more importantly, a cowardly fool facing that eternal death he most feared?... No, I went ahead...And believed I'd succeeded...I was Immortal yet free..."

"Until..." Willow eyed him...

"Until...I found the demon within…And realized it was me...Bound to me...Indeed, a very recognizable part of me...And determined to dominate...And weak soul that mine was..."



"It did..."

"Not entirely but sufficiently to lead that weak soul back to an Evil course in action as well as intent...After all, my 'redemption' of sorts had been that of the coward who fears punishment, not a true one...Except in..." he hesitated...

"I said I'd come to care for humans as individuals again…" he explained…

"So you met someone…" Dawn, another narrow glance Buffy's way…

"Several someones…" he noted… "And much to my astonishment, not always, at least over time, with an expectation that my feeling would be returned…Not merely some individual love, you see…Though that came to me as well…Sometimes a family…An exceptional couple like my own dear parents, enduring what cannot be endured and somehow maintaining some degree of love and joy in their lives…A child whose innocence…An old man or woman whose perfection of soul…touched even my dead heart…But like Dickens' pitiful Jacob Marley, I'd lost the power to love and care for them…I found to involve myself in their lives meant their death in time…Usually at my own hands when the demon could not be fought down…I found myself doomed to be both mourner and murderer…Forced to retreat from Humanity as much as possible…And yet drawn to it…"

Then…He sighed… I met the One…As the poets and songwriters say… He smiled…

Dawn involuntarily looking at Buffy who frowned…So that's it…

"Not me, Dawn…" she shook her head…

"No, though I should have been fortunate…" Henri smiled…

"Henry?..." Xander suggested…

"He was much like her in soul…But no…Rest easy, Xander…" a wider smile…

"The other great beacon in my existence until I met this dear lady…" he nodded to Buffy… "Though neither she nor I knew until her death…At my hands…What she'd meant to me…My sweet Beatrice…Who again lit the lamps for me…And sought to save me from myself…And who waits for me…Somewhere…"

"Like Dante's…" Willow nodded…

"Dante's…" he nodded… "I'm pleased to know it's still being read, that little opus of mine…"

Her jaw dropped a bit… "You?..."

"I was born just over what passes now as the Italian border…Of what would now be considered a French mother and Italian father…" he explained… "While I think of myself as a European, France and Italy have equal claims on my heart…And in the 1300's, Italy was the happening place…" he grinned…

"You are Dante Alighieri?..." Olive stared…

"At that time, yes…"

"…'that which has never been written of any woman"…" Olive quoted… "The Divine Comedy and The New Life…Quite a tribute…"

"She was worthy of it…"

"I thought you were nine when you first met her…" Willow eyed him…

"Indeed I was…When first I met her soul…But it was only centuries later when I encountered that soul again that I recognized her…As Cicely recognized William…" he smiled to Buffy…

The others staring…



"'In the book of my memory, after the first pages, which are almost blank, there is a section headed Incipit vita nova…' Here begins a new life…" he translated… "And so it did…Though it was many, many years before my Beatrice's efforts bore fruit beyond my pitiable tributes to the glory of her soul…"

"And you killed her…" Willow stared…

"Even as she prayed for me…Though…" he grinned… "Don't assume she was a plaster saint…She made me suffer quite a deal in those years we knew each other…Before and as Alighieri…"

"You were lovers then?..." Olive asked… "Most thought…"

" 'Most' were right…No, Miss Knowles, we were barely acquainted during her brief lives here…And she generally scorned my approaches when I attempted to improve that acquaintance…Until near the end…When something…Some past memory of me, perhaps…At least I like to believe…Or just her warm heart…Heard my cries from the soul and she tried to save me…As she still tries, hopefully with confidence in eventual success…"

"You recognized Will…?" Dawn eyed Buffy…

"I told you so, didn't I…?" Buffy, quietly… "Did you think I was simply spouting romantic nonsense?..."

"One senses one's soulmate, Dawn…" Henri nodded… "I know that's a notion many would choose to reject in these times but like the hope of a true wedlock in marriage and the triumph of Love, it refuses to die…"

Xander looked at Buffy…Her face composed, still… "You couldn't save Will…So…?"

"So…I tried to give another couple a happy ending…" she nodded…

"And William did admire Henri's work so…" she beamed, a bit wanly…

***

"Who..?"



Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present...With help from an Immortal source.

Part XIII...

***

1875...London...



"Ring around the rosy...Pocket full of posy..." the white faces sang...Circling round the young dark-haired woman in formal dress...One trying to pluck at the lovely gown, but retreating hastily to the ring as the woman tensed, then thrust a stake…

"Yes, yes...My little ones...My little angels..." a voice, calling from the shadows...

"...Ashes, ashes..."

"You're so right..." Cicely slashed at the nearest...What appeared to be an innocent little boy...Of six or seven years... He cried out and dusted...The others uncertainly wavering...

She slashed at the next, apparently a little girl, no more than four... "God pity you, child..." she called...

"SLAYER!!!..." the voice, enraged... "Killer of my little angels!!..."

"Fiend!!..." she screamed back... "Child murderer!!!..." she slashed at the next in the ring, a boy...

"No!..." the next, a little girl in appearance put up little hands...Cicely pausing but a second...

All the remaining "children" baring fangs and rushing her...She slashing, desperately...

"Kill her, my little ones!!..." the voice called...

Two on her now, the rest looking to rush in...She dusted two more but could not shake the ones now crawling on her, biting...

"Oh!..." she slashed at the one moving for her neck...Barely four in appearance, still in her burial shroud...

A strangling sound from the shadows...

"Away...Leave her!..." desperate gasp...

The "children" eyeing each other...

"Away!!...Now!!!..." the voice, rasping...

All fled...Cicely managing a last successful slash at one older one...A pale-faced "girl", perhaps eleven...Only the flowers clutched in one hand remaining...

"Let me...Go!!..." the voice cried out... "My ange..." gasping cry...

She caught her breath, peering into the darkness...

"You..." she stared...

"Miss Addams..." the Immortal nodded...Wrenching his victim forward...In appearance an elderly man of gentle features in clerical garb...Face distorted in raging struggle...

"The Reverend..." he introduced his prisoner...

"Here..." she called...

"No..." the Reverend gasped... Twisting... "Brother..." he tried, desperately...

"Ah!!!..." a cry fading as dust spread...'Dickens' clattering to the ground...

"You are all right, Miss?..." the Immortal eyed her...

"Yes..." she nodded...Eyeing him coldly as she carefully scooped up 'Dickens'...

"Why?..." she asked...

"I object to the transformation of children..." he replied, calmly... "But are you quite all right?...You've been bitten..."

"Not seriously..." she looked round... "The others...They must be destroyed before they turn other children..."



:"Indeed..." he nodded...A faint smile...

"Not going to try again?..."

"At the present time, I assume there'd be no point..." she frowned... "And this abomination must be ended..."

"Then, if you'll allow me..." he eyed her... "I'll seek them to the east and south..."

"Very well..." she nodded...Blinking as he vanished...

Well...That was one interesting reunion...She turned to head off to the west, carefully extending her senses...Hmmn...She eyed the bag she'd just stepped on...

Exactly like the one he'd given her in Rome, four years before...Black velvet...Rope tie...She picked it up, gingerly...A card fluttered out...She picked it up...

Monogrammed...HFdeV...

"Regards...Henri..." she read on back...Feeling the bag...

"The other stuff he'd taken?..." Xander asked...

"A bit late but..." Henri grinned...

"Where did you come from that night, anyway?..." Buffy asked him...

"I'd been hiding in the church of all places...Not the Reverend's desanctified one, the one you passed just before his "angels" met you..."

"I thought I'd sensed something..." she nodded... "Anyway..." she returned to the others... "That was the second time we'd met...And he'd left me more puzzled than ever..."

"Was it really to help those kids?..." Willow asked him...

"Not even London's vampiral residents cared for the Reverend...Even demons generally being fond of offspring...Not to mention realizing the danger he was putting them in, given the hue and cry he'd stirred..." Henri nodded... "And he'd gone and done some harm in my territories in France as well...And even at my worst, I was always quite territorial..."

"But..." he sighed... "Though I'd like to think even then my motivations had undergone some uplift...I'd come to London again seeking my own salvation..."

"My previous efforts had failed, but given me hope..."

"Hope...?" Olive asked...

"That the demon could be driven down, expelled...And more...That I might at last be free of my Immortality...Free to die in the hope that Beatrice would be waiting..."

"You don't seem in that much hurry nowadays..." Dawn noted... "Your soulmate find another guy or something...?"

"I certainly hope not..." he grinned... "Though I'd deserve it, keeping her waiting as I do..."

"Perhaps she's not gone..." Buffy said quietly... "Still here, in this world..."

"No..." he shook his head... "Though she still speaks to me, her spirit is at rest..."

"Not Will's..." she eyed him... "He's not gone...I know it..."

"Then our job is what it was before...To find him..." he nodded...



Willow eyeing Xander who was staring at the garden's rear brick wall...Hands clenched...

"You ok, honey...?" she asked gently...

"Sure..." he nodded... "Not like I'd waste my life loving anyone fool enough to…" bitter tone…

"Yes..." Buffy replied after a moment... "To find him...And punish his killers..."

Willow, hand on Xander's arm, glanced back at her stone-rigid face...Henri looking a bit...Uncertain?...

I'm…Relieved?...Dawn blinked…

***

1880...London...

"So..." the dark-haired man in evening clothes regarded the figure awaiting him under a street light...Waving the cab that had just let him off away...

"...You're Henri?..."

"Mr. Foxcroft...?"

"Yes...Where is she?..."

"Not far..." Henri assured him...Pausing a moment to scan the young man's face...

"Yes...It is you..." he nodded... "Forgive me...Your cousin has powerful enemies...And I'm sure they would not have hesitated to use such a stratagem to reach her..."

"I rather thought..." Henry stared at the elegant figure before him...

"That I was one such...Yes..." Henri nodded... "I have been...Though never voluntarily, as I hope…"

"So she's said…Is she very ill?..."

"She's dying, Mr. Foxcroft...We must hurry...Come..."

He turned and began moving down the mist-shrouded street...Streetlamps flickering poorly in the gloom...Foxcroft following after a second's hesitation, trying to hurry after him...

"Up here...Quickly..." he led him to a set of stairs...Henry recognized the sign of a small local hospital...

"I managed to get her in without giving her name...But I cannot guarantee we were not tracked..."

"By whom...?" Foxcroft looked at him...

"Those who killed her...She needs to speak with you...Come..."

***

"Henry..." Cicely's weary, defeated face told him the Immortal's words were truth...

"Cicely...Why did you run off?...Should I fetch...?"

"No one..." she shook her head... "I'm trying...The doctor says the baby..." she gasped, gritting teeth...Hands gripping, bending the bedframe...



"I've just got to stay...A little longer...Oh..."

"Cicely..."

"I saw him, Henry...I nearly..." she gasped... "Oh, Henry...If I'd just been a little stronger..."

"That creature..." he looked to where the Immortal stood...Having quietly left them after bringing Henry to her...

"No...It wasn't him, Henry...He's kept his word...You must keep mine...Please...Henry..."

"William?..."

"Headed for France with that thing...I saw them...I almost…But it was too late..." she tensed...Groaning...

"Matron!..." Henry called...Cicely put up a hand...Not yet...

"Promise me you'll give him..." she looked over... "He did his best for me, Henry...Give him..."

"I will..." he nodded... "But I won't give up on Will, either...I promise..."

"Don't waste your life...He's much too powerful now...Leave him to the next Slayer...And me...Henry...? Promise me...There's Amelia and Philip to think of...He wouldn't want you to die needlessly, trying to help him...Leave him to me...And...If...The baby..."

"I will...All of them...Don't worry, Cics...."

She nodded... "You and Henri...Don't wait here...Keep close but don't let them find you here...And if she...If she's not...Alive...Don't wait...Go...It won't be long now...Not long..."

"Who did this, Cics...The Council?..."

"Leave them..." she shook her sweat-soaked head...Hair plastered on the shabby pillow... "Leave him...Just the living...And..." she tried to over to Henri...

"I will..."

"Call the matron...Stay with Henri, until it's over...Then go...If she's...No...No..."

"Matron!..." he called again...

"I won't..." she murmured... "I won't...Not like this...I won't let it end like this…"

"Best to leave it to us, sir..." the newly arrived nurse urged him gently aside...Drawing a curtain round the bed... He staggered over to where Henri watched quietly...

"Doctor!!..." a shout... Henry and the Immortal staring over...

"You found her in Lyme..." Henry eyed the Immortal...Henri?...She'd called him...

"Yes...She'd nearly reached him...But I arrived too late and he and Drusilla were gone...And Farris and the Council team were with her...I managed to follow them here...I'm so sorry, Mr. Foxcroft...I should never have left her...But he eluded my people before I could reach them and she'd left for Lyme before I could return to her..."

"Can't we do anything?...Dr. Farris, perhaps?..."

"There's no antidote to the agent she was given...My best have tried… Her strength is the only thing that's kept her alive these past days...For the child's sake...But..."



"No chance...?"

"None...I couldn't tell her...But the child is dead...By the same agent..."

"Her enemies...The Angelus clan...?" he looked over to where more staff, a doctor were hurrying to Cicely's bed...

"Angelus, even Drusilla, would never waste time on such a method...No, Mr. Foxcroft...Her murderers weren't the Undead..."

"The Council?...Why?..."

"She betrayed them, by their lights...And she has moved from being their source of power to standing in its way...But it wasn't the Council who orchestrated all this, grim as their response to her actions might have been...And willing as no doubt they will be to approve the action after the fact..."

"Not the Council?..."

"A specific member, Henry...If I may..."

"No..." Buffy sat straight... "What were you saying, Henri?...Of course it was the Council...You mean Chairman Rathskellar?..."

"No...My dear..." Henri sighed...

Willow, Xander, and the others staring...

No...She rose to her feet... "No..." she shook her head...Lips trembling…

"Cicely..."

"No...No..." she was shaking now... "Not me...My child...He loved me..."

"Too well, I think, my poor girl..."

"Buffy..." Willow rose from her chair next to Xander...

She waved hands...No... "No!..." a howl that broke into tears as she backed away from the risen Henri and Willow...

"Cicely..." Henri said, gently... "I know how hard this is for you...But you yourself sense the truth and must accept it...Henry and I heard it from his own lips...Just two years later...When Henry killed him..."

She stared at him...

"It was him, Cicely...From the very start...The whole scheme...Halfreck, Drusilla, William...Your death..."

"You're lying...." she tensed... "He always said I was foolish to...He..." she pulled a stake out...

"If you like..." Henri nodded...

She dropped the stake and stood, shaking...Finally collapsing into Willow's arms as she came near...

"Oh God...Simon!...Simon!!..." she sobbed...

***

"Who..?"



Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present...With help from an Immortal source.

Part XIV...

***

At the Immortal's gently-voiced suggestion they'd called an end to the evening...Buffy clearly in no state to continue dredging up old memories...She wanly agreeing it was best to return to their hotel and meet with Henri there the next day to discuss her next move...

"Home..." she'd said simply in reply to the Immortal's careful request as to what that next move might be...

All the way back in the cab, she staring quietly out at the Rome streets...Nightlife in full swing, a few young men waving to the lovely bevy of ladies in the passing cab...Dawn seated next to her...Hand occasionally gently touching her sister's...Or whatever she was, now...shoulder...Eyeing Willow and Olive, both in back with her, from time to time, as Xander sat up front with the driver and tried to force a bit of chit-chat with him...Noting the remarkable endurance of Roman building...Those crazy scooters whizzing through...

Yeah, it was nice that some girls like his friend in back still dressed like ladies...Somewhat frowning stare by cabbie at Dawn in rear view mirror...

About halfway to the hotel, Buffy absent-mindedly patting Dawn's hand...

"I'm sorry..." Dawn said, quietly...

"Yes..." Buffy nodded...Then looked at her a bit... "That dress..." she sighed...

"Do I really let you wear such things all the time?..."

"Not at these prices…It's the fashion, Buffy...No crazier than some of the things you must've worn in your day...Bustles and all, I mean..." Dawn smiled...

"I suppose..." Buffy nodded, looking out the window again...

"Fathers..." she said suddenly... "You and...I..." she looked at Dawn again... "Our father..."

"Hank..." Dawn nodded...

"Left us...Our mother, you said..."

"They divorced...It was friendly...Though...He never would..." she shrugged...

"What?..."

"Doesn't matter...Probably all phony memories anyway...I bet he really doesn't even remember me...Never knew about me..."

"His loss, then..." Buffy said quietly...

"I guess you and this..." Dawn began...

"Lets not talk about Simon...Not now..." Buffy shook her head...Then with an effort... "So...What did you think of him?...Not too difficult a sight to bear?"

"Henri?..." Dawn grinned a bit... "Pretty much yer usual Immortal...Demi-god..." broader grin...Buffy returning wry look...



"But what was that thing he had for Xander all night?..." she looked over to Xander...Who mocked frowned back... "I think you scored, Xander..." she teased...

"Hey...There was no 'thing'..." he replied...

"You think Henri is of the other persuasion...?" Buffy stared...Willow looking over...

Grrreat...

"Well...Yeah..." Dawn nodded... "Unless he's got to fight his dark side by ramming any sex drive down to his boots...Xander was the only one of us he couldn't take his eyes off the whole evening...Whadaya think, Xander...Was it the eye patch that brought Dante down?..."

"Ahhh!!..." Xander groaned...

"He's been in love with Beatrice for nearly six hundred years..." Buffy noted...

"And I'm sure it's a love of the purest sort...Literarily..." Dawn grinned... "Doesn't mean he might still play around with a handsome hunk or two once every century or so to ease those lonely eons..."

Ummn...She eyed Buffy's stern face...

"The gay thing's not such a big deal, nowadays Buffy..."

"Gay?..."

"Homosexual..." Willow cut in...A bit coolly...

Well, I've been waiting for this one...she sighed...

"Oh, that..." Buffy waved a hand... "Wasn't such a 'big deal' as you say in my day either...Though we were a tad more respectful of personal matters... " She smiled faintly at Dawn, shaking head... "Did you think that would upset me?...For Heaven's sake..." she gave Willow a sidelong glance... "It's not as though I'd never had another 'gay' friend like Willow here...My cousin Maude was for all intents and purposes married to her friend Jane for years..."

She chuckled now at Dawn's look... "What?...You thought I didn't know...? I've lost the modern part of my memories at worst, not gone into a permanently vegetative state...But you're wrong about Henri...He deals in the spirit, not the physical form...Though I doubt the distinctions of male and female matter much of him now...Sandler...Ummn...Xander..."

"Hey, I tole you, I'm getting to like it..." Xander smiled...

"Sandler..." she smiled back... "Has a soul we've encountered before...And Henri treasures the memories of each encounter..."

"You're saying..." And thanks...Willow smiled but did not say... "...Xander is your cousin's soul...? Henry...?"

"I'm sure of it..." Buffy nodded, beaming at Xander...Who blinked a bit...

Whoa...

"Don't be alarmed, Sandler...You're not suddenly going to forget the last twenty years...Souls are reborn all the time..." she smiled at him... "Mine and William's, yours...Probably all of us…We return to this world constantly..."

"As you did..." Willow noted...

"Not quite the same...I think..." Buffy shook her head... "A rebirth is different from what's happened with me, I'm sure...In a rebirth, the soul is the old one but the personality...The mind...The life..Is new...The soul guides and shapes a bit but it's a new life..."

"So you won't have a sudden desire to don hat and gloves and call for your dogs..." she grinned at Xander...



"Bet you'd look good in a hat...One of those long, pop-up jobs..." Dawn teased him...

Buffy eyeing her again...

Hmmn?...

"But what makes you think you're different?..." Willow eyed her... "Buffy Summers lived...Lives her own life...She never knew of you...And no offense, but you're two very different people..."

Hmmn...Dawn pondered...

"Debatable as to that, I'd say Dawn thinks..." Buffy noted, smiling at her thoughtful face... "And regardless here I am..." she said... "Complete, not fragments of lost memories...I know Mr. Giles...And you...Want more time to learn about me...But I'm convinced I'm a reincarnation..."

She glanced at the faces eyeing her in the cab... "I'm not asking you to believe that...Simply saying until I see proof otherwise that I believe that is the case here..."

"Could be..." Dawn said, quietly... "But as you say, we need proof..."

"A reincarnate could push modern memories back..." Willow considered the matter... "And maybe...When you pull boners like this afternoon, there is a little of Buffy in you..."

"We'll find out when we go to England..." Buffy said quietly... "Mr. Giles'll be ready to try then...Won't he?..."

An exorcism, I mean...she looked at Willow's questioning face... "It's the logical thing...And fine with me..." she turned back to watching the passing streets...

Olive frowning a bit...Dawn turning to Willow...Her own questioning look...

"I wouldn't let him do anything I thought would hurt you, Buffy..." Willow began...

"It's fine...If I'm just a spirit who happened along, in the wake of my dead husband, perhaps, I've no claim to this body..." Buffy shook her head... "And probably better off out of this miserable world..." she was silent...

"I don't think an exorcism's to be rushed into lightly, Cicely..." Olive insisted...

"No?..." Buffy looked at her... "I'd imagine young Dawn here and Willow would prefer to have me gone as soon as physically...Or spiritually..."

"No one said that, Cicely..." Dawn said, quietly...

"Thank you..." Buffy smiled wanly...

"I'm sorry..." she shook her head... "I'm afraid I'm not good company this evening...Henri was right...I suppose I knew all along...But, still...I..."

"Why did he do this to you?..." Dawn asked...

"One of the things I'll know before I'm done..." Buffy replied calmly...

"But I'm ruining what should be a wonderful time for you all...Your first day in Rome..." she smiled at the others...

"Nah..." Xander shook his head from the front... "I don't know about the rest of the guys but it's been pretty memorable for me...I just hope between the marathon tour this morning and that eight course..."

"Ten..." Willow corrected...

"...Ten course Roman orgy your pal fed us I manage to wake up tomorrow...The key thing being..." he grinned at Buffy... "I wasn't really sure I'd be wanting to wake up tomorrow before we came...But now I'm finding I'd kinda like to see a little more of this place..."



"Then the whole thing's been worth it..." Buffy smiled back...Willow, troubled look at Xander…Who shook head…It is better, Wil…

"You know..." Buffy began..."If you're all not totally ready to collapse...I'd like to find some place to unwind a little...After we pick up poor Mr. Wells who's been so good about staying at his post alone tonight...Would any of you like to come along?..."

"Some nice old ruin to read a little poetry by moonlight...?" Willow asked...

"Something like that..." Buffy waved a hand...

"Well, seein' as you're going nowhere without the Dawnster..." Dawn nodded firmly...

***

1 am…

"Buffy...Careful..." Dawn cautioned... Eyeing the precarious nature of the situation... "The table doesn't look so..." she looked at Xander...

"Buf...I think you better..." he tried...

"OHHH!...'e's a lovely, lovely lad...!" Buffy sang, swig of her fifth boilermaker as she stood on tiptoe, on top of said table in the ... "But for 'im, I'll not be 'ad... For 'e's..." deep breath... "Not bloody able to make it up Mount Kilarminjar....O!...Ha, ha, ha, ha!!..." New swig...

Cheers from her attentive audience of overwhelmingly young males... Several eyeing Xander with distinctly narrow looks...Many of the females present eyeing Buffy with distinctly narrow looks…

"Lets have another one!..." she called... "Giuse...Giov...You there!..." she hailed a passing waiter...

"Another round for the house!!..." she waved a hand out at the crowd... "What'll it be this time, gents!!?..." she called... "No...I've got one..."

"I thought she was a society girl..." Willow looked at Olive...

"In those days you couldn't drink the water...And I doubt they had much lemonade at a lot of the places a Slayer had to frequent by night then..." Olive noted...

"Yes...I've got one..." Buffy put up a hand to some requests... "I just have to change it a little...Just a mo...Ok..."

The amazing thing is how she keeps that hat on perfectly straight...Willow thought...

Only two buttons on her blouse loose and that skirt and hat and she still looks sexier than every other girl in this place, Dawn thought, sighing still…

"I wish I 'ad some one to love me...SOOMeone to call me their own...

Someone to live wid' me always...I'm tired of livin' alone.

Beauoootiful light o' the ocean,

Beautiful light on the sea,

Beautiful light on the ocean;

Me love, I been waitin' for thee.

A hundred plus years I been married.

I wish I 'ad died an ole maid.

For I never seen nothin' but trouble,

My 'usband won't...Stick at his trade..."

Vague winking nudge at Willow...Who stared up at her...

"'e promised before we was 'arried,

That we'd be gallant and gay;

And every night of the winter

We'd go to some ball or some play.

I wish you'd go down to the bar room,

And get him away if you can,

For you never know what's going to 'appen..."

"Buffy..." Dawn staring...Urgent look to Willow...

"To my foolish young drinking man...."

For I have to get up in the mornin'?

Labor and toil all the day;

And then in the evening go chase 'im

Then put our dear..." Tear running down one cheek... "...children away. ..

Oh..." Pause...

"Come on, Buf...It's time to wrap…" Xander came to her, trying to urge her down...She waved him off...The crowd watching...Even some of the younger men...Even some who could not follow the song in English now aware...Watching her tear-streaked face...

"Oh...What is the use of repenting;

Where there's a will there's a way.

Cause...Any old thing for a 'usband

Is better than to be an old maid.

Beautiful light on the ocean,

Beautiful light on the sea,

Beautiful light on the ocean;

My true love, I'm comin' for thee."

Silence...

Dawn staring…

"I sang that...On my wedding day..." Buffy smiled gently at the crowd staring back, wiping at her face a bit... "He loved that song..."



"Come on, Buffy…" Willow tugged gently… "You should sit now…"

"You..." Buffy eyed Willow... "You're my best friend, eh?...Eh?...That's true, right?..."

"I am, Buf..." she nodded... "Come down, honey...Xander?..." Buffy yielding slowly to their joint efforts, stepping down to a chair and then the floor...Swaying in their grip...

"Get him for me...." Buffy eyed her...Her voice slurred but insistent... "You can, I know you can..."

"I can't, Buffy..."

"Yes, you can..." Buffy insisted, wobbling... "They all say you can...You raised her from the Dead..." she poked at an arm... "You can...Please...He saved your lives, you all said so…You can't leave him there…Buried in that damned hole…"

"Buffy..."

"I've got to have him back, Willow...I can't stay here all alone...No offense to you and you, Dawnie!..." she called over... "Oh, please...Please..." tense pleading...

"We'll talk about it later..." Willow said... "It's time to go now...Andy, can you call a cab?..."

"I won't hurt them if you do..." Buffy stared at her as Andrew hurried off... "Bygones'll be bygones..." she waved a hand suddenly...

Oooh... "Sorry, Sandler...Sorry..." she apologized at Xander's slight groan...

"I didn't mean it..."

"I know..." he patted her... "Lets go now…Dawn's been up too long…"

"Yes…Come on, Dawn…Time to go…Tell Willow to do it for me, Henry..." she took his arm firmly... "You're all I have left now...Please...She'll do it for you…You'll do it for him, right?..." she eyed Willow…

"We'll talk it over tomorrow, Buf…" he nodded… "Right, Wil?..."

"Sure…"

"Promise me…Henry…?"

"I promise…" he nodded…

***

"Who..?"

Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present...With help from an Immortal source.

Part XV...

***

6 am…Rome…

"Jesus…Are you up?..." a weary, bleary-eyed Dawn stared from her bed at the Buffy in nightgown moving past her open bedroom door…

"Sorry…Go back to sleep…I'll try to be quieter before I go out…"

"Go…Where?..."

"Just for a walk…"

"Ahhh…No, you don't…Wait…" Dawn groaned, turning covers over…Rubbing face…

"I'll just be a moment…You need to sleep…"

"You don't go anywhere without me, Buffy…Not until I know your brain's running at 100% and there's no demon or spirit running things in there…You promised me that, you know…"

"Fine…" Buffy put up a hand… "I'll stay…Go back to sleep…"

"I'm up now…Just wait a moment…"

"I don't need a guardian…"

"Tough…" Dawn yawned on the side of her bed… " 'Cause ya got one…"

"Because you have…" Buffy frowned…

"Whatever…Just tell me where we're going…"

"Out for a walk…" slight grin…

"Hey…" Dawn mock-frowned as she stretched, rising to her feet… "I know that line…"

"I learned a great deal from my husband in the short time we had..." Buffy nodded solemnly, grinned... "Really, I just want to get out and walk a bit…You haven't let me do patrol, I'm feeling cooped-up…And I love early morning walks..."

"We were out till 3am...We got five Slayers to do patrol in Rome alone…And they're Italians…"

"Whatever…" Buffy, clearly imitative…Grin… "You know that's one of yours I'm growing to like a bit…"

"We'll have you speaking Californian like a native in six months…" Dawn nodded wearily… "All right, we'll walk..."

"I'll ring for tea…" Buffy offered, heading for the living room..

"Gotta call…On the phone…" Dawn called to her back…

"Whatever…" the reply…

***

A grave old gentleman, white-haired, in rather out-of-fashion suit strolling the plaza outside the hotel nodded to the young lady in hat, gloves, and long skirt…Knew one day this suit would be back in style…Emerging with…Slight frown…Young girl dressed like most of them…He shook his head…

Buffy, gentle nod to the passing man… "Glorious morning, sir…" He touching his hat…

"Now he's what I expected His B to be…" Dawn noted, a bit annoyed at the frown clearly directed her way…



"Yes, so did I till Simon showed me photographs..." Buffy paused, looking over to a couple of shops across the plaza…Not a decent thing in any…Why don't we just walk the plaza a bit, she suggested as they walked down a few steps… "Dawn…I seem to recall being a bit pished last night…"

"'Pished'?…Yeah, I'd say so…Still, kudos as to your singing voice…"

"Really…?" wry grin… "My callers all used to say I had a good voice but who could trust a room full of cow-eyed young fellows, all desperate to please me…Now, Will would look at me and say I was 'all right'…But I could never tell if he was trying to avoid hurting my feelings…So, I wasn't bad…?"

"Roaring and red-faced, yes…Bad…No...Did you drink like that all the time?...Olive thought so…"

"My niece several removed is out of the will…" Buffy mock-frowned… Sheepish tone.. ."Well…Henry used to lecture me on my drinking...I was never able to fool him, though he admitted it was impossible to tell unless I'd not had a chance to gargle some cologne...And I never missed an engagement the next day…"

"Ehew...I saw Scarlett O'Hara do that once, I think..." Dawn wrinkled her nose...

"Well, I'd warn her parents..." Buffy noted... "Even if Miss O'Hara's one of our Slayers, it's not really a worthy habit for a young lady....My only excuse is that it was only after Patrol...I had nowhere else to go afterwards when Henry was away and it was too late for a play or a lecture and I'd have to wait and be sure Father and the servants were all asleep...Until my coming-out...And then...Lord...Facing an evening of a room full of dolts like that fool Henderson...The one who called William that bloody stupid..."

"Bloody awful..."

"I know that...And I don't ever want to hear those two words associated with William again...The man was a jealous, silly ass, whatever his fate...Only interested in buttering Father and perhaps getting his hands on the fortune included with me...Like most of them...Though Mr. Levinson and one or two others were some relief...Till William came...But I relished the chance to slip out, do my hunt, and then…"

"Get pished?..."

"Not always 'pished'…I had to be home before Father and the servants woke…But just the chance to be somewhere where no one knew me as Miss Addams…Or the Slayer…And yet knew me…I had a place I used to frequent…"

"Cheers…Where everybody knows your name…"

"What?..."

"TV…" Dawn waved off Buffy's puzzled frown… "Spike would have enjoyed the drinking..."

"Really?...Well, William could put down a pint or two...Or three...Or four... He was a working lad, originally, you know...And rather pleased after a bit of startle that I could keep up with him...Though I did try to hold it down on our nights...Didn't want him to get the wrong idea how I'd acquired an experience with the glass...And I did drink less with him...I wanted to keep a clear head to hold my own with him...Oh, he was so sharp then, Dawn...Talk with him was real talk...Was...It...?"

Spike…she rushed the name…As if anxious to get it off her tongue…

"As a tack...Razor...And whatever he was, he always told you the truth..." Dawn nodded...

"He didn't change all that much then...Lord, Dawn...The places we went to...The times we had together..." she sighed, wan smile...

"Romantic, eh?...He read you his stuff and all?..."

"Every now and then, some...Mainly we argued...About everything...In some of the worst dives in London...He was a bit of a radical...More than me...And he liked daring me to come to some of the rougher places...Though I know he deliberately chose the safer ones as I'd been to most of the worst on my own beforehand...We'd drop a bucket between us but it would only make us talk all the more..." she eyed Dawn...

"Buffy and...Did we talk?..."



"You never shut up..." she grinned... "I guess the subject of conversation changed a little what with him being Undead, vicious killer, and all...But you talked all right..."

"I loved him...?"

Sigh... "You didn't want to...Spike, I mean...I don't know about Will...I guess you held back with him too, maybe cause you weren't sure what to do about him...After he got the soul back, I mean...Leavin' him in the cellar like that I guess you weren't sure what to do...But, yeah...I guess so...Hard not to after all he did for you and me..."

"Cellar...?" Buffy.eyed her sis....

"Not ours...At Sunnydale High...Our school..."

"What?...Why would I do that?..."

"He was pretty crazy after the soul..."

"I left him in a cellar after he got his soul back?...For love of me...? While he was crazed...?"

Ummn...

"I think you meant it as sorta 'tough love'..." Dawn explained... "And he did pull out of it over time..."

"He'd been your enemy…A pretty vicious killer…" she tried to Buffy's cool stare… "Even with the chip and being together so much, you couldn't be sure of him…He'd even tried…"

"'Being together'…I take it you mean relations…"

"Well…"

"He'd become my lover…I knew he had a soul again and I left him in a cellar alone?...While he was crazed from the shock?..."

"Not exactly lover, lover…Sort've a…"

How do you say 'fuck-buddy' in 19th century Victorian…?

"I sound charming…" Buffy said coolly… "Lets sit…" she waved at a bench…

"Different sit, Buf…He wasn't the guy you remember…At least not till…"

"He won his soul back for love of me and you all say died at Sunnydale for me…Sounds a lot like him…"

"It was only for a little while…Then you brought him to live in our basement…And you were pissed when Giles…"

She looked away…Was not supposed to let this sort of thing come up…

"Yes...Dear Mr. Giles, counselor voice of reason..." grim tone... "Nice to know the Council is still well stocked with Machiavellians..."

"Buf..."

"Why did I let him die?..." Buffy asked…Not directly to Dawn…

"Someone had to finish off the First and her guys…" Dawn, hesitant… "When Angel brought the amulet…Spike…William…Couldn't wait to take it and prove he…"

"Angelus brought the amulet?…The one that destroyed the First's army?...And killed William again…?"



"He meant to use it himself…Maybe…" Dawn tried…

"And now he's sold himself to this 'Wolfram-Hart' sink of Evil?..."

:"We don't know that, Buffy…Giles can't forgive Angel for killing Jenny…Ummn…"

"He sounds as charming as Buffy…Obviously they were meant for each other…"

I really should pay him a visit when I have some time…she noted… "See if the old sparks are still there and pulling on the memory box…Find some proof he's back to his true nature…And…"

"Buffy, if some guy who'd had his wife and kids off'd by Spike came by…"

"The thing has his soul back, doesn't he?...He's responsible for his actions now…"

I did say I'd seek proof…she noted to Dawn's troubled face… "And your…Our…Dear Mr. Giles is suspicious of him…"

"It won't bring Will back to kill Angel…Even sad ole Dru…" Dawn noted…

"No, it would be strictly for my own pleasure…" Buffy nodded…Eyeing Dawn…"But...Let that rest...I've waited a hundred years, I can wait longer if I must...And I won't risk my soul for it in any case...You should've worn gloves, Dawn...This sun today will ruin your hands..."

"They're fine...I'll put some sun block on 'em if it gets bad later...I'll show you..." she explained to Buffy's puzzled look...

Hope Angel isn't pining too much in LA...Dawn sighed to herself...This isn't lookin' too good for him, however it turns out...

Hmmn...She eyed her hands surreptiously...

"Dawn..." Buffy, hesitant... "Will she help me?..."

"Hmmn?..." brightly…

"You know what I mean and to whom I'm referring…I was not so 'pished' as to forget the whole evening…"

"Buffy, even if she could…And Osiris, the dead god guy, was plenty pissed after she tried to get Tara back…"

Old lover, shot by Warren Mears…Dawn explained…

"Warren…?"

"Old enemy…Defleshed by Willow..."

"We really must spend an evening writing all this up for me...Well, I'll deal with Osiris if he makes complaint…He and I have met before..."

"I guess you have...What, three times now?..."

"Besides that...I mean on Earth...A little affair in 1877 involving the dead of London's graveyards..."

"Giles won't allow it…"

"I'll…Speak…" she paused… "To him about it…After we confirm that this skeleton indeed is mine…" she indicated herself…

"Buffy...Giles is not your other Watcher guy...He's a good..."

"He would have killed my husband's revived soul without consideration or mercy..." grim voice... "You expect me to thank him for his tender care of my interests...?"



"It was for you...He thought anyway..."

"It was not for me...I don't have to remember Buffy to know that...He may believe it was for Humanity as well as his Council or tell himself so but it was not for me..."

"None of us helped Will, Buffy...He's no more to blame than any of us..."

"I haven't killed him...I'm willing to negotiate with him and his Council...That's as far as I will go right now, Dawn...As for allowing him to interfere in any attempt of mine to recover Will...I'll show him as much consideration as he showed my poor husband..."

"Buf...I don't believe William would want you to blame yourself like this...I understand you feel guilty..."

"Yes..." Buffy nodded... "And all-in-all, I'd say I have reason to...I chose him and never warned him what he could face...I went to Simon like a fool for help and agreed to let Halfreck drive him away...I let him wander off to meet Drusilla...I didn't find him later...And this only in my life, regardless of my one here...Yes, Dawn...After ending his life before it even began and condemning him to an Unliving death...The guilt's so thick I taste it with each bite...Feel it with every breath..."

"But he's also my husband...I made a vow to him...And most of all, whether all that isn't enough...I'm in love with him...And I have been many times before..."

"Soulmates?..."

"Whether you people believe in that concept or not, yes...And I know his spirit's not at rest in Heaven...It never left Earth...I feel him, here, somewhere..."

Dawn avoiding her fixed gaze...

She is definitely not "getting over him...."...Whatever Willow and Xander were hoping...

"...I won't abandon him, Dawn...I can't...So...Will you speak for me, to Willow?..."

"Buffy, even if she were willing...And it could be dangerous for her to play with that kind of stuff again..."

"Then let her teach me...I'll do it...The risks will be mine alone...Dawn, understand me...I am going to do this...At least find him...Whatever I have to do to accomplish that...If you and the others help me, it may avoid my having to turn to other assistance..." she looked out over the plaza...Her face set...Severe...

"Henri?..."

"He would try to help...But he's avoided magics for many years, even before his redemption...And no doubt he'll have his reservations...But there are others...And if I must turn to them..."

"Great...Is that what William would want?...You risking your soul?...Turning to Evil to get him back?...And probably getting the shaft in the bargain...Spike or your own demon..."

"Then...Help me, sister..." Buffy looked at her... "Just speak to Willow...Listen, Dawn...I won't force her to do anything dangerous for her...I might even settle for just a chance to speak to Will...Make sure his soul is safe...Surely that's not too much to ask..."

"A seance, you mean?..."

"Whatever..." slight grin... "Has she done those?..."

"Not really that I know of...But..."

"I'd prefer the resurrection..."

"I got that..." Dawn frowned... "I'll do this much for you...If you are my sister...If we have proof this is you, your soul in there..." she touched her arm gently... I'll speak to Willow, and if she's willing to try at least to reach Will, I'll help...Even if I have to keep it from Giles...But, Buffy...That's only if you really are Buffy...And only if Willow feels it's not too dangerous for you or her..."



Fair enough...And wise..." Buffy nodded... "I see I did a few things right with you, girl..." she smiled...Rising...

"I see some places are opening...Lets get some café au lait and something to put some meat on these bones...You should have an umbrella for this sun, Dawn..." She opened the one she'd brought from the hotel... "You'll be popping with freckles..." she held the open umbrella over them both...

I thought it was strange her bringing that when there's wasn't a cloud in the sky...Dawn shook her head...

"Promise me one thing, Buffy..." she paused...

"Yes?..."

"If you're not my sister...If you're some spirit or demon...If I've been a fool to trust you a little like I am here..."

"I've not consciously lied to you, Dawn...I can't be sure what I am...But I haven't lied..."

"Just promise me..." Dawn grinned wanly... "You'll give me the Big Bad's gloat of victory speech alone, before you make your move or whatever...Not in front of the guys...So I don't look too much like a chump in front of everybody..."

"If I learn that...That I'm something Evil or find myself a tool of Evil...I'll do my best to let you expose and destroy me...I promise that, Dawn... " Buffy nodded... "But I don't believe I am...Though angry, yes certainly..."

"I hope so...You know I wanna believe it...And it's hard to imagine the First or something like her trying so hard to protect me from modern dress and the sun..." Dawn paused... "Hot chocolate and something fattening sounds good, lets go..."

Hmmn...She eyed her hands again as they started off...Buffy trying to hold the umbrella over them both...

Maybe not such a bad idea at that...She moved closer under the umbrella...

***

9:30 am...Rome...

"Dawn?..." Willow eyed a yawning Dawn as the reunited group sat at an outdoor café, suggested by the newly arrived Immortal... "Did you get any sleep last night?..."

"Yeah..." Dawn nodded, yawning again...Not looking at Willow...Buffy giving her a wry grin...

"It's my fault, Willow..." Buffy said... "I needed to get some fresh air this morning...Dawn, you should go back and rest after we finish..."

"I'm fine..."

"Now this sounds like the Miss Addams I knew..." Henri smiled... "I don't think you ever rose later than six am even that last day..."

"Didn't want to miss a minute of it, I suppose..." Buffy nodded... "Life..." she explained... "After all, a Slayer can't expect too much of it...And I needed every minute to find Will...So...?" she eyed Henri...

"You and Henry confronted Simon...And he told you...?"

"He admitted Halfreck's story was true...He'd made arrangements with D'Hoffryn...It appears the vengeance lord wanted you for his troupe, Cicely..."

Andrew carefully noting down on a pad...Nodding at the name...Holds with the current info at the three best web sites on the D man, he noted to Willow...

"I remember...He came to me just..." Buffy brushed it off... "I'd thought he was Death...He certainly looked it...But then he offered and I knew he was Halfreck's D'Hoffryn...Obviously, I didn't accept..."

So we hope...Willow thought...



"And Henry killed him...Simon?"

"Self-defense...Farris had no intention of letting him live with the knowledge he had...I suppose he intended to deal with me as best he could later...But he underestimated our Henry..." faint smile...Glance to Xander...

"I see...Did he?...Did he give any explanation?...Was it just orders?..."

"He told Henry he would never give you up...To any man, let alone William..."

"He told me he'd help me..." Buffy shook her head... "I loved him more than my Papa at times...And he did this..."

"Men and women do wonderful and horrible things for love, Cicely...I have learnt that the very hardest of ways..." Henri sighed...

"I wish I'd been born deformed...Hideous..." she twisted in her chair...

"I don't believe it was simply beauty that attracted him, Cicely...The man worshiped power from all accounts of his time as Chairman...He saw his chance for power in you..."

"Then I wish I'd never been called...Never been born..."

"Cicely..."

"Buffy..." Willow reached to touch her hand... "This wasn't your fault..."

"I killed my mother when I was born..." Buffy said quietly... "And Papa never forgave me for it...And I worse than killed the man I loved...And our child...I even destroyed the man who trained me..."

"You saved millions...Billions of people, Buffy..." Xander cut in... "What happened, happened...And mostly wouldn't have happened if other folks hadn't wanted to hurt you...William doesn't blame you and neither does your kid..." he smiled at her... "This is Henry talking, Cicely...Enough of this guilt crap...You came here to do something positive...Not to wallow..."

She looked at him...Grinned wanly...

"I suppose so..." she nodded...

No, I am not possessed...Xander hissed to a nervous Willow...It's fine...

"Henri?...Do you have...?" Buffy'd turned back to the Immortal...Who nodded...

"Right here, my girl..." he put a small bag on the table...

"Farris' agents took everything they could but they did not get these..." he noted... She nodding in turn, opening the bag...

Willow, Olive, Xander, Dawn, Andrew all leaning to see...Andrew writing feverishly...

"Mostly the things I found to use on William..." Buffy explained... "One of which turned out to be quite a useful demon expulsion device...Here..." she offered a small black ball to Willow... "You can use it when we get to England...After Mr. Giles is satisfied it works...Henri can vouch for its ability..."

"Indeed..." he nodded...

"This...?" Dawn stared... "This little thing drove your demon out?..."

"Good things, small packages..." Henri nodded... "But handle it with a little respect, it is quite powerful when fully charged...Not to mention containing the mass of several multiple universes..."

Whoa...Willow stared... "Doesn't seem that heavy..." she gingerly put it on the table...



"Gravity negation...It's perfectly balanced at a quantum level...And quite harmless in its current state..." he reassured the others... "But within its harmony an absolute beauty and the truest magic I have ever encountered..."

"Just something I picked up in a little shop..." Buffy noted... "Of course the shop was in another dimension and I had to win a little contest against some creatures to get it...But..." she felt inside the bag...

"...And this..." she paused...Pulling out a ring...Large gold band...Which she kissed and placed on her finger...

"That's..."

"Yes..." she nodded to Dawn's question... "My wedding ring...Thanks, Henri..."

"I did have quite an argument with the matron...I thought I might have to put her under..." he grinned... "Fortunately things were busy that evening and other staff remembered seeing me with you..."

"It's a beaut..." Dawn smiled... "Thanks, Immortal guy..." she grinned to Henri who grinned back...

"And this..." Buffy looked at Dawn... "I guess this is for you..." she handed Dawn a small leather-covered book...A clasp holding it shut...

"My diary..." she explained... "I meant it for my daughter...And I suppose, if I am Buffy..." she smiled...

"Thanks..." Dawn took the book quietly...Stroking the binding gently...

"Will's book?..." Buffy eyed Henri who shook his head... "I'm afraid that and other items were taken by Farris' people..."

"Then the Council may still have them...Good..." Buffy nodded... "I'm due to pay them a visit shortly anyway...I'll see if I can persuade them to give up what they robbed from my corpse..."

Willow glanced at Xander, Olive...

"Such worried faces...People...I don't plan mayhem...Just to strongly urge that my property be returned and all records of the Council be opened to me..." Buffy smiled...A hard look behind the eyes...

"Be cautious, Cicely...With yourself as well as the Council..." Henri noted... "You have too much to lose to let anger dominate your soul..."

"I know..." she nodded, smiling again... "And I wouldn't wish to have my good old...And new...Friends disappointed in me..."

Ah, she beamed as a smiling waiter brought over an enormous, loaded tray... "At last a real breakfast..Henri, you will not believe what these people consider breakfast...."

Afraid I would...he noted wryly..."I occasionally travel to America..."

Willow eyeing Olive...We are gonna need corsets after this trip...

"Dawn, make sure you try the pie and mash...You need something to fill out those cheeks..."

"What's the green stuff?..."

"Parsley sauce..." Olive explained...

Hmmn...Dawn eyed Willow...Well...

"You did use the water from the stewed eels, Giuseppe?..." Buffy asked the waiter...Who nodded, pleased to find a young lady who nodded, pleased to find a young lady who not only appreciated the finer things but remembered a waiter's name...Though he could not himself quite remember the lady's last visit...

Willow and Dawn pausing in mid-fork lift...Xander and Andrew carefully pushing the newly uncovered dish of eels away...



"Yanks..." Olive grinned to Buffy as they dug in...

***

"Who..?"

Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present...With help from an Immortal source.



Part XVI...



***

London...

An auditorium...Placard in rather staid type pronouncing the meeting of the Royal Council of Antiquarians and Library Scientists...Temporary facilities...

"Ladies and gentlemen...Please be seated..." the standing figure of Rupert Giles at podium brought the moment of silence in memoriam to an end...

"Let it be noted in the minutes that this will be our first fully-attended conference since the disaster..." he turned to a recording secretary, who nodded...

"You have all read the reports of our progress in organizing training for the activated Slayers..." he noted... "We will review the progress of each sector later...As for the situation in Los Angeles, Dr. Wyndham-Price will shortly present his report...For our first order of business, I should like to discuss the disturbing matter which has arisen with regard to my own Slayer, Buffy Summers..."

"Sir...?" a raised hand...

"Ms. Slingo...?" Giles nodded...

"We are still without a Chairperson...And department heads are still only acting status..."

"At this time, Ms. Slingo, we have not yet completed procedures for a round of elections..."

"Given we have a quorum, I move we appoint an interim Chairperson today..."

"I second..." a Mr. Zhang rose to second the motion... "While I commend the work done by the surviving Inner Council, with so many Slayers activated at once, the Council needs strong leadership immediately..."

"Very well...Show of hands..." Giles called...Hands up in profusion... "The motion to elect an interim Chairperson is hereby passed..."

"Dr. Wyndham-Price...?" he noted the hand raised...

Roger Wyndham-Price, bearded, distinguished, rose... "Given the situation and his work to save our organization in the past few months, I move to nominate Rupert Giles as Chairman and call for an immediate vote..."

"Seconded..." A Ms. Sinclair of the US rose...



Giles put up a hand... "I appreciate the support but let us try to follow procedure...Does anyone propose another candidate?...Very well..." he eyed the silent group... "I nominate Dr. Roger Wyndham-Price..."

"I decline, with thanks..." Roger rose to reply... "And again call for an immediate vote..."

"Seconded..." Mr. Zhang rose...

Hands in profusion again...

"Accept fate, Rupert..." Roger grinned... "Your carefree days of the field are over...Ladies and gentlemen...Our new Chairman..."

Applause...Lengthy and overwhelmingly sincere...

"Very well...Chairperson..." Giles corrected... "And if I may say, Mr. Vice-Chairperson ..." he eyed Roger... "Welcome to the salt mines..."

"Accepted..." Roger nodded...

"I thank the Council for this honor and its trust...Now then...If we may proceed to the matter I wished to discuss...Lights..." he waved to an aide on the platform seated at table who manipulated a laptop's controls...The room darkened...A projection on the screen behind Giles now showed a double image... A portrait of a young, pale-faced, slender brunette in long gown, with a wistful expression...And a picture of Buffy Summers, taken in LA just before her departure for Rome, in hat, blouse, rather antique-looking jacket, long skirt, gloves...Wistful expression that in some astounding, mysterious way, matched that of the woman to her left...

The group in the auditorium giving a repressed, collective gasp...Whispering throughout...

"As you can see, we have good reason to believe this organization may again be in serious jeopardy..." Giles began...

***

Rome... One pm...

"Dawn..."

"NO...No way..." Dawn shook her head...

"Dawn, it's just a shawl...To protect your shoulders..." Buffy fingered the heavy black shawl hanging on shopcart...

"I'll look like a Italian grandma...No..." with emphasis... "You said I could wear what I want when we got to Rome...I'm conservative compared to most of the girls here..." she glanced at a passing shopper...Breasts emphatically on display...Buffy averting eyes...Frowning at the staring Xander...

Mr. Wells at least apparently minding his manners...Engrossed in reading something from a cart proclaiming itself in Italian and English to be the latest word in something called "Manga!"

"Buf...Dawn really doesn't look too..." Willow clammed as Buffy eyed her...Coldly...

"This is simply to protect your skin...Dawn, you have a lovely complexion..." Buffy tried again...

"I'm fine...I'm wearing a good sun block..." she moved away to another cart in the street where they'd been strolling...An eager seller buttonholing the young woman to buy some antique jewelry, right from one of the empress' tombs...He assured her...

"You were a great help..." Buffy hissed to Willow...

"Buf...This is 2003, not 1880..." Willow sighed...

"I'm not asking her to cover her legs and wear a veil...Just...Willow, your own magazine said pregnancy was rampant among young women..."



"Dawn is not going to get pregnant in Rome today..." Willow insisted...

I hope...She couldn't help eyeing the small horde of young men regarding the young American girl now moving on to a cart loaded with religious items...Portraits of Christ, the Virgin, saints... Very ancient, the seller noted...

Hmmn...Maybe a shawl's not a bad thing...For the skin and all...

"Salvatore..." Henri had joined Dawn at the cart... "Still trying to foist these things on the tourists...?"

"Your Benevolence..." the seller nodded respectfully... "You know that everything I sell is certified..."

"I know everything you sell was painted by your mother the night before...And the paint's still wet on this one..." Henri nodded at one particularly antique-looking, yet rather shiny Madonna...

"But as they are actually excellent works, I would recommend them...At half the price he's asking..." he told Dawn...

"Your Benevolence..." Salvatore, reproachfully... "How is a poor man who must support a family to live...?"

All right...Buffy whispered to Willow... "Long as Henri chaperones, I'll hold off..."

"You should know Signor Poverty went to Yale Business School...On a scholarship from my foundation..." Henri smiled to Dawn... "And owns a chain of stores selling these things throughout Europe..."

"For the young lady...A discount..." Salvatore hastily noted...Eyeing the crowd about his cart...

"Sandler...Sand...ler..." Buffy called, sternly... "Take my arm...And put you eye back in its proper field of view..."

"Yeah...You..." Willow teased... "My arm, too...Mr. Foxcroft..."

"So, Olive..." Buffy turned to her "niece, multiply removed"... "Did you speak to your brother?..."

"Everyone's dying to meet you, Cicely..." she nodded... "Edward's getting permission to show you the old place..."

"My family's townhouse..." Buffy explained to Xander's and Willow's looks... "Olive told me it's still there, barely touched at all..."

"But not for sale, I'm afraid..." Olive noted...

"You're thinking of living in England?..." Willow eyed Buffy...

"I just wanted to know...It would have been something to think about, living in my own old home..."

"Probably would creep Dawn out, Buffy..." Xander noted...

"Might have been 'creepy' for me too, at that... But I will be glad to see the place...It was a beauty in its day, Willow...You've got to come with me to see it..."

"Sure...Love to..." a bit hesitant...

"That is, of course, if I'm still here after our little exorcism..." Buffy noted... "Which will be first order of business after I see the family..."

"Ok..." Willow nodded...

"Sandler?...Go tell Dawn to buy something if she wants it and come over..."

"Mr. Wells?...Andrew?..." Buffy called to the reading Andy...

"Olive needs an escort...Let her buy that for you if you want it and come along...So...Willow?..."



Hmmn?...Willow looked from eyeing Andy's stack of manga and graphic novella...Gotta borrow a few of those...

"...About Sandler..." Buffy, confidential tone...

Hmmn?...

"Well...I guess he has always been a big brother type to you..." Willow noted... "So maybe there is something to this 'Henry' business..."

"Yes...But, I was wondering if you thought...Well...He and Dawn..."

"Dawn?..."

"...I know he's in mourning...But wouldn't it be a fine match?...I mean you not being interested and all..."

"Xander and Dawn?..."

"I'd certainly feel secure trusting her to him...And she's so clearly..."

"Dawn?...In Xander?..."

"Why, of course...I wouldn't suggest it if she weren't fond of him..."

Oh...Fond...

Fond is good...Fond's ok...Our dear pixilated Buffy and her quaint 19th century notions...

"I think Dawn wants someone she loves...Much as she likes Xander...And he likes her...See, Buffy..."

"I'm sure it is love...Or will be when she's a little older and understands the meaning of the word...Besides...True love has its place and all that but shared interests, shared decency...Experience together...Those are also important..." she sighed at Willow's stare... "I'm sure you think this is all antiquated reasoning, Willow, but even when I chose William I thought of more than just that rush of..."

Love...? The only thing Willow had heard...

Dawn...Loves...Xander?...

My Xander...?

Ummn, Anya's Xander...Poor Anya who's only been moldering in her grave a few...Who deserves a decent, lengthy period of...

"Anyway, if you would speak to Sandler about it...Just sound him out on it when you feel the time is right...She's young yet..."

"And will be going to college...Soon..."

"Really?...College?..." Buffy looked over at Dawn... "I am impressed...Well, still...That's no obstacle, is it?...I was going to attend classes at Cambridge while Will finished his degree..."

"Like you say...She's young yet..." Willow muttered... "What makes you think she loves Sandler...Xander...?"

"Willow...The way she lights up every time he enters the room?...Haven't you noticed?...Perhaps being new to you all, I'm seeing something you're too close to...But...Besides, she told me when she was small she had a mash..."

"Crush..."

"Right, 'crush'...On him...And I'd guess that 'crush' has never quite..."



"She probably had a crush on Spike too, you know..." Willow, hastily...

"Yes, she told me that too...And that was very sweet, if somewhat foolhardy on your people's part when he was caring for her alone...But I think I've seen something real here..." Buffy smiled warmly...

"Really?..." Willow looked over to where Xander had joined Henri and Dawn by the cart...

Nah...She blinked...

Nah...

No...Way...

Oh, my God...She eyed Dawn's beaming face as Xander made a joke or some remark to her...

Ignoring the god-like beauty of His Benevolence...Which by now had attracted a horde of circling, rather adoring, young women and not a few young men...

"They do make such a fine couple..." Buffy nudged her...

***

London...

Temporary offices of the Royal Council of Antiquarians and Library Scientists...Office of the Chairperson...Acting, pending formal election, by the new Chairperson's insistence...

"Congratulations..." Dr. Wyndham-Price raised a glass of fine gin smuggled in past the watchful eye of Magda, the Council secretary... "I'd drink it, Rupert...You'll be needing it..."

"I suppose so..." Giles nodded, swallowing half his glass...

"So...You really believe the worst has happened..." Roger leaned back... "Cicely Walthrop is back?...This isn't a trick of the First's...A demonic effort...?"

"No..." Giles shook his head... "I observed her carefully...There was no struggle or evidence of aural repression..."

"Buffy could have let herself be deceived..." Roger pointed out... "Her guilt over Walthrop..."

"Roger...We've known all our years with the Council that one day our greatest Slayer would return...When the times required it and Humanity needed her...We've suspected Buffy Summers was that same Slayer since she was activated...I've little doubt of it now..." he sighed...

"But if an accident, an aberration triggered it..."

"I intend to leave no stone unturned to determine if there's any room for doubt, Roger...But I know Cicely is back...And I know..."

"But Miss Summers loved you...Surely we can appeal to that..."

"Even Buffy was ready to turn on me after I tried to prevent her from associating with William's soul...For the moment at least, Cicely is dominant...And even if she recovers her Buffy existence...I have my doubts any memories of our relationship will restrain her...Once she knows all..."

"The Council did what it believed was necessary, Rupert...It is too bad we were misled by Farris in part but in the end we would have been forced to the same decision...Humanity had to have a Slayer, dedicated to the salvation of Humanity..."

"It's an old debate, Roger...And pointless to take it to her..."

"Then we'll have no other recourse?..." Roger asked...Giles stared at him... "It seems a cruel choice, Ripper..."



"If we had William to offer her, there might be an alternative...But, we do not..."

"Angel...Sacrificed?...He took this action on our instigation, Ripper..."

"I know...But he knew we would have to disavow him in any case...And Cicely must have a target for her wrath...Besides the Council..."

Wyndham-Price put down his empty glass...Staring...

"I know it means putting Wesley at risk, Roger..." Giles nodded... "But it may not come to an outright war...She won't wish to risk the lives of Slayers unnecessarily..."

"He knew the dangers when he and Angel agreed to this little charade..." Roger sighed... "But I do not want my son to throw his life away uselessly, Ripper..."

"This may work to the benefit of the whole scheme, Roger...If Cicely denounces Angel, accepts that he has joined the ranks of Evil...The Partners will be all the more inclined to accept his turning over the next year..."

"And if she demands an assault...?"

"We urge caution...Assessment...And if necessary..."

Roger rose...Pacing...

"Roger, our hold on the new Slayers is tenuous at best...Our ranks are thin...Many of the new Slayers are proving susceptible to the Partners' offers, or simply unwilling to join the fight...Only Buffy...As Buffy or Cicely...Can lead them...If she turns against us...Most of the Slayers will follow her to whatever position she chooses to take...The Council itself may split...Our greatest victory over Evil turned to ashes by our own Slayer...And the nightmare of Slayers fighting on both sides will come to pass...Our only hope is to win her back to us by admitting our guilt and..."

"Putting the blame on Angel..."

"On Angelus...And ourselves...Cicely will do the right thing and fight with us, at least in partnership, for Humanity if she believes she is also righting the wrong done to William...I know her, Roger...She is the same person I knew in Sunnydale, despite the memory shifts and surface personality changes...Roger, I know this has been hard on you already...And now..."

"How difficult can it be to denounce one's own son...?" Wyndham-Price shrugged... "And to leave him to his fate...Knowing he did this at my request...For me..."

"I pray it will not come to open battle between them...Between us...But your part will be crucial if we are to convince Cicely that Angel is the seduced traitor he and we are working to make him out to be..."

"Why not?..." Roger shrugged... "We Councilors have developed a fine talent for sacrificing those we love...Whether turned and abandoned, betrayed in the cause of the greater good...Eliminated to clear the way for a more amenable Slayer..."

"We can't know the future, Roger..." Giles sighed... Wan smile..."At least, not without violating multiple oaths and risking immediate termination..."

***

"Who..?"

Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...



Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present...With help from an Immortal source.



Part XVII...



***



Heathrow Airport...Arrivals...

Hmmn...Buffy frowned, looking around...

"You say this is England's premier aerial center?..." she shook her head...

"They are upgrading..." Olive put in her bit for Mother England...

"My father would never have allowed things to come to such a pass...The Empire's survival depends on her transport and lines of communication...If aerial transport has supplanted shipping, England should have the world's premier aerial center..."

"Well, it's not bad..." Dawn noted... "And we are Americans, Buffy..."

"Hmmn...Yes...Perhaps I should put in for dual citizenship...Mr. Wells informs me that's quite frequently done though the Yanks...Us Yanks..." she grinned at Dawn's frown... "Don't recognize the UK status..."

Exactly...Andrew nodded...

"We do tend to focus on Europe more these days..." Olive noted... "So our trans-oceanic needs aren't quite that of the US..."

"I'm proudly Californian..." Dawn insisted... "No offense, Olive, but I'm staying that way..."

"Fine..." Buffy put up a hand... "Anyway who knows where the wind will eventually blow us...Perhaps even back to the benighted shores of California..."

"Hey..." Xander frowned now... "California been berry, berry good to Buffy..."

Buffy stared at him...He nodding to Willow who nodded back...

"Right...Well, sorry...Retracted..."

"Accepted..." Willow noted...

"Europe, eh?..." Buffy shook her head to Olive... "Doesn't sound wise to me...Father always said..."

"There's Giles!..." Dawn was waving...

"I see he's not a Watcher to waste a moment...Wish we'd not contacted him so soon about our coming..." Buffy said quietly to Willow...

"Buf...For our sakes..."

"Of course..." she nodded... "I just mean I'd've liked a little time to see London first before I may have to leave this world..." she raised an arm to wave...A reasonably friendly smile on face...

Dawn, troubled glance her way...



"Who's the gentleman with him?..." Buffy asked Willow...Who shook her head...New to me...

"Mr. Wells..." Giles nodded to Andrew who presented him with a rather well-filled folder... "Report of our activities, sir..." he noted... "Just a summary but I can provide a more detailed..."

"I appreciate it, Andrew...I'll review it carefully later...Hello, Willow...Buffy...Dawn..." Giles smiled at the group...Willow stepping to him for a hug...Dawn hanging back just slightly...Glancing to a slightly forlorn Olive whom Giles was clearly set upon ignoring...

"Congrats, Mr. C..." Willow told him, breaking contact and standing back... "You look the part..."

"Hardly..." he sighed...

She eyed him carefully... "Things went well..." she noted quickly...He, nodding...

"Rupert..." Buffy stepped forward...Opened arms just a bit stiffly...

"Rome?..." he asked...As she quickly released him after a brief embrace...

Progress...A little...Willow hopefully noted to Xander...He eyed her...Uh-huh...

Well, no kiss of death, at least...Unless that was the ole "embrace of death"...

"As Willow says...It went well..." Buffy nodded to Giles...

"The Immortal?..."

"Benevolent as ever and very helpful..." she stepped back to allow Xander to offer a hand which Giles shook....

"And as Willow says...Congrats...Mr. Chairguy..." Xander grinned...

"Thanks, Xander...Oh, let me introduce our new Vice-Chairperson, Dr. Roger Wyndham-Price..."

"Wesley's dad?..." Willow looked at the tall, bearded man...

"As charged, yes..." Roger nodded...

"Quite a guy, your son..." Willow smiled...

"I hope so..." Roger replied, a bit abruptly...Willow eyeing Xander...

"Doctor..." Buffy offered Roger a gloved hand...

"Mrs. Walthrop...An honor..." he noted...Shaking her hand gently...

"Thank you..." Buffy nodded... "But my friends prefer I use my modern name..."

"Walthrop's ok in England..." Dawn said, suddenly... "This is your turf, after all..."

"Thanks..." Buffy smiled..."But lets get confirmation before I lay claim...As to that, Mr. Giles...?"

"We believe we do have an adequate series of tests ready for you, Buffy..." he nodded... "Though I want you to have a full physical and neurological work?up before we try anything..."

"Sounds extremely medical..." Buffy frowned... "Didn't you have that done in California...?"

"That was a baseline...Things may well have changed over the past few days..."



"Fine..." she waved a hand... "I trust I'll be favorably impressed that British medical science has kept pace with the Yanks...Us Yanks..." she corrected...Grin to Dawn...

"May I ask, Mrs. Walthrop?..." Roger cut in... "Have you had no memories of your life as Miss Summers since your...Awakening...?"

"None that I can be sure of, Dr. Wyndham-Price…" she shook her head… "And I have followed my American neurologist's suggestion to monitor my unconscious memories as to motor skills and so on…I've learnt a bit on how to use some of the simpler modern items..."

Xander rolling eyes...And wait till Giles gets the bill for those lessons from the hotel back in LA...I wonder if they ever did get the blender out of that ceiling...

Thank God we chose an older Italian place minus most modern tech and Dawn stuck to her like glue...

"But…Nothing instinctive that I or my friends could definitively point to…" she concluded... "Excepting perhaps a rather strong sense for the fashions of our respective eras...Though that obviously could be merely a happily shared coincidence..."

"We tried 'Trivial Pursuit' a few times…" Dawn noted… "She flopped on everything modern…"

"But aced...'Aced?..." Buffy eyed Dawn...

Aced, Dawn nodded...

"...Aced everything pre-1880...So the brain-pan seems to be functioning well..."

"Well, suppose we get you settled at your hotel…" Giles suggested… "Your tests can be done tomorrow morning if you feel ready..."

"We were going to see my old home tomorrow..." Buffy looked to Olive… "Would there be time?..."

"I'm sure there'll be plenty of time in the afternoon…The primary test will actually be fairly quick... Are you sure the house is intact?..."

"Olive says so…" Buffy nodded to Olive…Who shyly eyed Giles… "The family kept the house for a long time and has a connection within the law firm that purchased it recently…"

"I see…Good…" Giles said, a bit abruptly...

"Mr. Giles...?" Buffy asked...

"Yes, Buffy?..."

"If I could overlook the murder of my family and the attempted second murder of my husband for the greater good, don't you think you might possibly be able to behave civilly to my niece?...She was, after all, only trying to do her Duty as you were yours..." sweet tone, inscrutable smile

"Certainly...I apologize if I was rude, Ms. Knowles..." he nodded briefly to Olive...Who made a nervous 'not a problem' gesture...

"Thank you..." Buffy nodded...

"I did say...'If'..." she smiled again...Brushing a loose hair back under her sweeping hat...

***

Dinner...

An animated Buffy, seated with her newly-arrived, newfound "nephew" of sorts, Olive's brother Edward and several Knowles and Walthrop "cousins"...Eagerly attending the family history of the last century-plus...

Willow from her seat to Buffy's right a bit perturbed to see Giles and Roger kept somewhat at bay by the Knowles-Walthrops...Who, despite Buffy's requests to regard the Watchers as her dear friends, seemed to have instinctively sensed her coolness toward them...



Dawn and Xander, however, sources of considerable fascination for them...One older "cousin" a lovely, vigorous, white-haired lady of seventy who'd sobbed in Buffy's arms on meeting her, declaring that Dawn was the image of the photos of Amelia Walthrop Foxcroft...Which rather to Dawn's stunned surprise was proven true on the display of said photos...While Xander resigned himself to yet another new name, politely responding to several of the older family members' "Henry" calls...

"I am sorry we couldn't keep the house for you, Cicely..." the white-haired "cousin" apologetically noted... "But it was needing major renovation..."

"Nonsense, Mary..." Buffy shook her head... "It's just a house...Life goes on and you needed to go on as well...I'm glad the place was preserved, though..."

"Cousin Martin at the firm isn't up on your history but he does try to watch over the place…And Edward just started with him, so he'll help preserve things…" Olive told her... "Only six of us in each generation are told the story...And poor Philip died at Sunnydale, so we do get stretched thin at times…"

"I'm truly sorry..." Buffy nodded... "But I am grateful...I know it must have cost all of you a great deal to try and keep track of William all these years...I hope you'll accept my thanks..." she smiled at the group... "As his as well..."

"I wish we could have done more..." Edward, a brown-haired, tall man, slightly younger than his sister, replied... "We did consider trying to destroy him at times over the years...But you'd told Henry to leave Spike to you...And frankly we weren't exactly a group up to the job of fighting William the Bloody..."

"If the Council couldn't...With their abilities and reasons for doing so…And the Slayer...I could hardly expect you to...I'm just glad Spike never realized you were monitoring him...He might have acted against you...To Will's regret..."

"But..." a younger cousin, Amelia...Blonde, a bit on the heavy side... "You don't remember meeting William in this life?...After he regained his soul?..."

"No..." Buffy said quietly... "My last clear memory is poor Henry...Telling him what he passed on to you...As for Miss Summers...As yet, nothing...But the exorcism tomorrow may resolve that question..."

"It was beautiful, though...I cried to hear of it when Olive and Philip told us they'd seen..." Amelia paused...A bit embarrassed...Nervous smile... "At last it seemed like..."

"Olive's told me some of what she saw..." Buffy, hesitant... "And my friends have tried to fill in the rest..."

"I suppose we did border on the intrusive..." Olive noted, wan smile... "But it was with good intentions...And we did manage to occasionally do something to drive Spike off from prey..."

"It is hard..." Buffy said quietly...All looking at her... "Not to remember what I should more than anything in life wish to remember...Meeting him again…"

"You saved him..." Amelia, gently... "That's the main thing..."

"It's not enough for me, I'm afraid..." Buffy replied... "I'm not unselfish enough to simply rejoice that he was free at the end...Though I do...I truly do..." Catch in her voice...

"We're all proud of you both, Cicely..." Edward noted... "Welcome home to England...And your...Other family..." he raised a glass as did the other Knowles-Walthrops and then the rest...

"Thank you..." she wiped tears...Nodding...

"You're going to let the Council...?" the older woman, Mary...Eyed Giles briefly... "Is that wise, Cicely?..."

"I can't keep a body that doesn't belong to me, Mary..." Buffy sighed... "I have to know I have a right to stay here...Before I can decide what to do next...And if she is not truly me, then I owe Buffy Summers an enormous debt…That much at the very least…"

"Some of us should be there..." Edward said firmly... "The Council would have good reason to get rid of Cicely whether she is Miss Summers or no...I don't trust them...No..." he looked at Giles firmly... "I'm sorry but I must be blunt...You people killed Cicely and William and lied to Miss Summers about her past...Why should we trust you now?..."

"Edward..." Olive, gently...



"Giles wouldn't hurt Buffy..." Dawn insisted quickly...

"I don't doubt it..." Edward replied... "But he tried to kill William and he has no such restraints regarding Cicely..."

Giles silent...The other Knowles-Walthrops quiet but glancing at him...

"Mr. Knowles..." Roger spoke up... "We've nothing to gain here, harming Cicely...Even if we didn't lose Buffy in such a process, she would know what we'd've done...And we need her...With or without Cicely...To help us with the new Slayers and new threats that are developing..."

"Willow will be there..." Buffy, reassuringly... "She won't let anything untoward be done...She's my best friend...After William, of course..."

"You may of course have whomever you wish present, Buffy..." Giles said quietly...

"Why did you...Your Council...Do this terrible thing, Mr. Giles?..." Amelia asked abruptly... "I don't mean to offend but what possible reason could justify this?..."

"Miss Walthrop..." Giles looked round the table... "Our Council has labored for many centuries for the salvation of Humanity...I am sorry but the Slayer has been the essential piece in that salvation...And there was only one...Until now...Humanity had to have a Slayer committed solely to fighting for its defense..."

"So this means what, Giles?..." Xander eyed him... "If Buffy had hooked up with Angel or Riley permanently...You and your boys would have killed her?...Or them?..."

"It means, Xander...We would have reviewed the situation...And if necessary, appealed to both Buffy and her partner to consider the fate of Humankind..."

"You never did!!..." Buffy rose from her chair, fury in her face, suddenly... "You never...Never...Gave us a chance!!..." she was trembling... Fists clenching...

Waiters, the manager eyed her...Even the Knowles-Walthrops startled by her outburst...

Buffy...Willow hissed...

She calmed, blinked... "Sorry...Sorry, Rupert...That was uncalled for..." she sat down...

Willow eyeing Xander...Xander cautiously urging her by glances to look towards Dr. Wyndham-Price...Who sat rather motionless in his chair...Staring at her...

"We have all suffered too, Cicely..." he said, quietly, at last... "With God knows how much more to endure before the battle is finally won..."

"Yet you have had a family, raised a son..." Buffy pointed out... "All things the Council wishes to deny its Slayers...And was ready to kill to deny me..."

"And have lost him...Perhaps...If he has followed Angel onto a new, dark path..."

She looked at him...Carefully...

"Then what are you doing here, sir...?" she asked...

"Buffy..." Giles tried...

"No..." she put up a gloved hand... "Doctor, your son may be ready to fall into a sink of Evil...And if so, I or some other Slayer may one day have to kill him...Perhaps with the same Council seal of approval based on Humanity's salvation used in my case..."

The group about the table staring...

"...Yet you sit here, doing nothing to save him?...May I tell you, sir, what I would do in your place?..."

"By all means..." Roger said, quietly...

"I would go to LA immediately and do whatever it took to get him away..." she said, equally quiet and composed...



"I am considering that, Mrs...Miss Summers..." he nodded...

"Understand this..." she looked round... "All of you...I am willing to be reasonable...I do not wish to steal the life of Buffy Summers, if that is what I am doing...And I will go quietly into the dark if that is so...But...If I am Buffy Summers, simply reopening a vein of her life long closed to her...If Buffy Summers is Cicely Walthrop...Then from the moment we confirm that...I will do whatever it takes to find and hopefully, restore my husband...Have no doubt about this...Whatever I must do, I will...And while I am becoming very fond of all of you... God help anyone who stands in my way..." Edward Knowles and several other family members nodding in agreement...

"And that, Dr. Wyndham-Price..." she eyed him, raising her glass of wine... "Is the course I recommend to you...If you love your son..."

Roger raised his glass silently to her...

***

The following morning...

The temporary rented facility of the Royal Council of Antiquarians and Library Scientists...

Laboratory area...To the general public, dedicated to restoration and analysis of ancient artifacts...

Which was, in no small part, true...Though only in part...

Buffy seated in a large, comfortable chair...Voluntarily restrained with straps...Willow at her right, Xander beside her... Dawn to her left with Olive and Edward beside her...

"Are you ready, Buffy?..." Giles stepped forward to face her...Her head for fear of injury in a protective soft helmet...She somewhat still peeved at having to doff her favorite hat...

"Buffy..." Dawn sighed... "If you want to stop now...I could live with it...With Cicely..."

"But I could not, Dawn..." she smiled back... "Not without knowing who I really am...:And if I don't belong here...I can't wait to go and find him...It will be for the best, whatever happens...Believe that..."

Dawn kissed her cheek...And moved away, to where Giles stood...

"Willow...?" Buffy looked over as best she could in the restraints...

"Right here, kiddo..."

"Remember what I said...About Dawn and...You know..." whisper...

"Matchmaker, matchmaker..." Willow whispered back..."A song...We'll rent the movie later..."

"I'd like that..." Buffy nodded...Willow moved to the table before them on which an ancient scroll was spread...Two Councilors reviewing it carefully...She began reading as well...

"Giles...I love you..." Dawn whispered to him.. "But if you or your guys pull anything here...I'll find a way to kill you all..."

"I understand..." he replied in whisper, a serious look returned to hers... "Ladies?..." he called to two Slayers, Anika and Marsha...Standing by, close by the group around Buffy... "Be vigilant and ready...Mr. Wells?."

"Ready, my Chairman..." Andrew nodded, moving video camera to side...

"Just a basic record of the proceedings, Andrew...Not "The Exorcist"..."

"Yes, Mr. Chairman..."



"Where's Sandler?..." Buffy called from her chair, anxiously...Unable to see...

"Right here, Buf..."

"I'd like to..." she paused... "May I kiss you good-bye...?"

"No..." he shook his head... "'Cause you're going nowhere...But you can kiss Henry just for the heck of it..." he smiled, coming close enough to her face for her to gently brush his cheek...

"That's for you, too...Xander..." she smiled at him...

"All right, Giles..." Willow called...Looking up from the scroll... "I guess we're ready as we ever will be..."

He nodded and moved to face Buffy...

"Good luck, Mrs. Walthrop...Please believe that I mean that..."

"I want to..." she nodded... "If we see each other again this side of Heaven or Hell, we'll smile...If not..."

"...'Then this parting was well made...'"

"Actually...I'll get permission to rip your throat out even from Heaven and come back here..."

He gave a wry smile and nodded...

"Take care of Dawn for me..." intent look…Nod…

"Thank you..." he smiled...

"Go...." Roger now waved two additional Councilors forward...Each bearing a large goblet which they, one after the other, offered to Buffy...She, sniffing, then slowly sipping...

"Lord..." she gasped...

"Buffy?..." Xander eyed her...The others tensing...

"Awful beastly stuff...Go on..." she hic-cupped...

Willow eyed Giles...Turning back to the scroll which one of the Councilors was now reading aloud...

"It's warm in here..." Buffy noted, twisting a little... "Could someone open a window, just a crack..." Hic... "You there, dark and cadaverous..." she tried to nod to one of the Watchers reading the scroll...Hic, hic...

"Is that..."Xander stared...

"No..." Willow sighed... "Well, yes, in a totally unrelated way...The stuff is 90% alcohol...Giles?...Why didn't you...?"

"How's about a song, Billow...er, Willow?..." Buffy called... "Does anyone know 'Beautiful Gem on the Water'?"

***

The Watchers who'd performed the ceremony in consultation with Giles...Willow likewise in conference...

"Well..." Giles...

"Well..." Willow, solemnly...



"Well...What?..." Xander, anxiously...From where he, Olive, and her brother Edward waited...Dawn granted permission to hold her sister's hand under the watchful eye of Slayer Anika...

"We'll be lucky if she doesn't kill us all..." Willow noted...

Clatter of Andrew's video camera...Dawn staring, Xander and the Knowles staring...

"She's gonna have one hell of a hang-over..." she grinned...

Buffy snoring loudly in her chair...

***



"Who..?"

Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present...With help from an Immortal source.



Part XVIII...

***

"So?..."

"Quite the place..." Willow grinned...

"Indeed..." Buffy, undoubtedly now Buffy, as Giles had agreed to note officially in the Council archives at Dawn's stern insistence, beamed... "Father knew locations...Though he did say Mother had had a hand in choosing the place..." They looked round the huge room which had once been the Addams' ballroom...Now an office area/grandly impressive reception hall...

"Look here..." Buffy pointed to a wall... "This is the original pattern...I picked it out myself when we redid this room in 1875..."

"Nice...They've done a good match on the other walls, but this is better..."

"Took forever to find what I wanted...And what Father would accept...I wish Dawn and Sandler had come..." she sighed at end... "I know it would have been imposing on Olive's cousin for a first visit but I would have been interested to see if anything clicked for him especially..."

"Maybe next time..." Willow smiled... "Here they come..." she noted...As Olive and a distinguished-looking gray-haired man in suit came into the hallway from one of the side rooms, now an executive office...

"Mr. Knowles..." Buffy stepped forward, glove hand extended... I gotta learn how to do that sometime, Willow thought... "It is so good of you to let us look around..."

"Not at all, Mrs. Walthrop..." Knowles smiled, taking hers in his two for a moment... "When Olive and Edward told me they'd located you in America I was so pleased...I'd not known we'd made it to the States..."



"Indeed..." Buffy smiled... "Though I've kept old England to my heart...As has my husband..."

"I'm pleased to hear it...And to know you...And you, Miss Rosenberg..." he smiled, paused... "Well, what do you think?...Have we managed to get the ole girl back up to snuff?..."

"Incredible..." Willow nodded...

"It's as though...Our ancestors...Never left..." Buffy beamed... "Though I'm sure Sir Richard Addams would be rather pleased to see the place used in such a practical manner...He made it his base of operations for the most part, you know..."

"So I have not only heard..." Knowles gave a twinkling smile... "But have proof..."

Buffy's face lit up... "You have something of...Sir Richard's..."she caught herself before either Willow or Olive could intervene...

"A rather good something...Come..." he waved them along...

Buffy hurriedly pointed to an old black-and-white photo of a garden on the wall...A young man of cadaverous aspect glaring out at the viewer...Mine...She mouthed...Making gestures as if squeezing the bulb of an antique camera....Willow nodding as Olive kept up with Knowles ahead of them...

"First documented proof that vampires could be photographed..." Buffy hissed... "I spared the fellow that night on condition he stick to cows in exchange for posing..."

"He doesn't look too cooperative..."

"I was rather demanding about his pose..." Buffy shrugged... "Unfortunately he couldn't keep his word more than a week...But dust as he returned to, there he is, Immortalized..."

She paused at the door Knowles and Olive had entered...A handsome carved door, fine wood framing...

"Father's study..." she hesitated...

"You ok?..." Willow eyed her...

"I always had to ask permission to enter..." she eyed the carved door, half-open...

"So you knew how the vamps felt..." Willow teased...

"Would you care to come in, Mrs. Walthrop?..." Knowles called...

Buffy, wry grin to Willow...Who grinned back...

"Here we are..." Knowles stood by a magnificent desk...Buffy carefully reaching out to touch, then stroke the fine carved black wood...A single carved piece, she noted to Willow...

"Fortunately, our chief is away so we may have a peek..." he smiled to Buffy..."This is his office now..."

"Sir Richard would be very pleased..." she nodded...Staring at the papers in the box Knowles now opened and laid out...

"The unpublished diary of Sir Richard Addams...Not complete, unfortunately...But to a large extent..." Knowles beamed at the pages...Olive staring at them, then Buffy who stood quietly staring...Brushing back a hair under her hat nervously...

"I never knew..." she gasped...

"No, nor did anyone till it was found during the early stage of the renovations..." Knowles nodded... "I doubt anyone thought a man like Sir Richard would find time for a diary...Yet he did..."



"Yes..." Buffy nodded, carefully scanning the pages laid out... "It's his handwriting..." She closed her eyes...Swaying a little...

"Sorry..." she smiled a bit wanly at Knowles... "I think it's a bit close in here for me...Could I step out just a moment?..."

"Yeah, you better come out..." Willow agreed... "She's been going since we got here...Really overdoing it a little..."

"Of course..." Knowles, sympathetically... "May I fetch you a glass of water, Mrs. Walthrop?..."

"Yes, please..." Buffy nodded...Leaning on Willow as she stepped back into the hallway...

"You ok?..." Willow hissed as Knowles hurried off...Olive joining them..

"Just a little..." Buffy looked down... "I didn't think Father would..." she looked over to the former study... "He was never the type to rethink his actions..."

"People can surprise you..." Willow noted, smiling... "Do you want another look when Knowles gets back...?"

"Yes..." Buffy nodded... "In fact..." she turned for the room... "I've got to see it..."

"Careful..." Olive warned as Buffy approached the desk... "Those pages are quite fragile..."

"1873..." Buffy eyed the page nearest to her... "October 3rd..."

"What was I doing that day?..." she pondered... "I was sixteen and..." faint grin...

"Smike...Our footman...Caught me...Or rather I caught him trying to saunter in after a night on the town...I'd had a busy night and he thought I'd been out with someone...Tried to blackmail me into a mutual amnesia pact...Of course I told him I'd tell Father and he could bloody well do as he pleased..."

"So what happened...?" Willow asked...

"I caved, finally..." Buffy grinned... "I couldn't let Father know I'd been coming in at five am, he'd've locked me up and thrown..." she paused...

"These are out of order..." she looked at a page... "And this one has been torn..."

"1880...November...13th..."

"Probably a lot like that..." Willow noted...

"I was brought home that day..." Buffy said, quietly...She sat down in a chair next to the desk, eyeing the page...

"Was that after, your baby...?" Willow, carefully...

:"After I died, Willow..." she read the page fragment quietly a moment, then aloud...

""She was brought here today...I could not look at her face...Farris said that it was peaceful...She'd been very weak and the child was too sickly...Over and done...All done...That fool boy, Henry, insisted she should be with him...Wherever that family of his put him...I had him thrown out...Never to set foot in here again...I kissed the child, my granddaughter...It was not her fault...

She would have been twenty four in January...Two months...And I am old and all's done...Enough...' The rest is torn loose...He must have torn these pages out, meaning to dispose of them..." Buffy wiped her face a moment with one hand...

"Maybe he couldn't..." Willow patted her..."I'm sorry, Cicely..."

"I'm not..." Buffy shook her head... "Sorry to leave him alone, perhaps...But for the rest of it...No...I refuse to regret a thing..." she eyed Willow, then Olive, wan smile... "I didn't die alone...Which is what I expected...I cheated them...I didn't die alone in some hole, full of anger and hate, fighting..." she cocked her head...

"I know...A hospital in those days wasn't exactly a palace...But I wasn't alone...I knew his soul was out there, searching for me...Glad I had Henry to help me..."



Mr. Knowles' return cut her reverie off...She took the water glass he offered thankfully...

"I wouldn't give up a moment of it..." she murmured... "Except..."

"Mrs. Walthrop...?" Knowles asked...

"Sorry...Just reliving old memories..." Buffy smiled.... "I'm very grateful for this, Mr. Knowles...I mean the chance to see this as well as the house..."

"Of course..." he nodded... "I'm only pleased that some of the family related to both sides had the chance to see it before it goes to the public...Naturally we hope to donate it to a historical society or museum..."

"I'm sure Sir Richard would be very pleased..." she rose from the chair, Willow standing by...

"Could we see a bit more, if we're not troubling you?..."

"Not at all..." Knowles smiled.... "I've a feeling I know what you'd like to see next...She being your namesake...The sitting and bedroom have not yet been renovated, though they are slated to become a part of an office suite...It's actually in quite good condition, though...Almost as Cicely left them..."

"Yes..." Buffy stared at Knowles... "I'd like to see them..."

He turned to lead them down the hall and brought them past a somewhat puzzled-looking receptionist whom he introduced as "Ms. Rose Harwood..."...To where a large and grand carved staircase led upstairs to the second floor...

"I wish Dawn could've come..." Buffy whispered to Willow as Knowles started up, Olive just behind him...

"Maybe you can show her later..." Willow patted her hand... "You ok?..." she turned to look at the hesitant Buffy...

"Yes, of course..." Buffy shook her head...Waving a gloved hand... "Just a little...Nerves..." she paused...

"I was there...Right there..." she pointed to the upper floor where a railing ran the length of the landing... "Hiding while it...Halfreck...Came down in my form...My face...Looking for him...To tell him what I..." she stopped...

"We don't have to do this..." Willow, beside, eyed her...Knowles and Olive now nearly at the top....

"Yes, we do...I do..." Buffy wanly smiled to her... And continued up the stairs, halting with Willow next to her at a small middle landing... "I don't know how I could have been so foolish as to trust in Halfreck..."

"It wasn't Haly you trusted...And he let you down, big time...It wasn't your..."

"...I let him go, Willow...I didn't go after him...Oh..." she rubbed her face... "He was so young and he trusted me so much...I wanted to die...Willow, when I saw him dead....I wanted to wait there and let him kill me...We'll be right along..." she called up to Knowles who was waiting now with Olive at the top...

"He knows you didn't do it..." whisper... "You only wanted..."

"If I hadn't taken him...Taken him like Drusilla did..." pleading...

"He loved you, Buffy...Then and now...Just like you..."

"I let him die again...Did I even care this time?..." Staring at Willow, clutching her arm... "Did I care?..."

"You cared..." Willow said, simply...Intent stare back... "More than you or any of us knew...You cared..."

"Help me..." Buffy hissed... "Please...I know you want to..."

Willow eyed the pleading face...



"Buffy....I can't..."

"Just let me speak to him...Willow, you're my only hope..." she was gripping firmly now, harsh look... "I won't make you do anything...Just teach me..."

"You're hurting me, Buffy..."

"Sorry..." Buffy relaxed her grip... "But, please...Oh, please...Just teach me enough to speak to him...Let me know all this wasn't in vain..."

"We've got to go up now...We'll talk...Later..."

"You will think about it...You promise...?"

"I will, come on..." Willow sighed...

"Thank you..."

"So that's why I had to come and not Xander, eh?..." Willow halted, staring... "You knew I'd be a push-over here...Seeing you here...Knowing it all started here..."

"I didn't mean to offend you...And I'm not trying to deceive you..." Buffy noted quietly as they now continued up at her urging... "But yes...You're a good person....I knew you'd consider it if you saw me here...Home...You've already thought about it, I know you that well already...You've known what I'm going through..."

"All right...Great...But lets get this straight...I can't bring him back..."

"Can't...Or won't?..." Buffy asked, a whisper...Cool stare...

"Whichever you prefer..." Willow...Staring back...

"Anything wrong, ladies...?" Knowles asked...Olive looking at them, puzzled...

"Not a thing...I'm sorry..." Buffy smiled... "I just wanted Willow to see how well matched the original paper up here on the staircase and landing is to the copy downstairs..."

"Well, we've done our best..." Knowles noted...Buffy nodding...

"Which is all I'd ever ask..." she whispered to Willow when Knowles had moved ahead of them again...Passing her as Willow stared after her...

***

"So...Summarizing your reports, Mr. Wells..." Giles addressed Andrew in chair next to his (temporary) desk in the Chairman's (temporary) office... "Buffy did not pursue her renewed contact with the Immortal beyond acquiring, at his donation, some few of the items she'd given him or lost at or after her death in 1880..."

"It seems to be so, Mr. Chairman...Funny though, considering the trouble she went to, to reach him..."

"Yes...It is interesting..."

"Of course, it did include her wedding ring..." Andrew noted...Giles eyeing him silently a moment...

"Anyway, since she did pass the examination..." Andrew paused... "We're dealing with Buffy so I suppose it's safe to assume she means no harm..."

"We believe Buffy's soul is present in her body...And that the Cicely memories and personality which have surfaced are hers...At least in part..." Giles frowned... "That does not mean we can assume anything as to Cicely's intentions..."

"But if she's Buffy, just..."



"Buffy has nearly killed friends and family when she was 'just'..." Giles noted... "All we know for sure now is that she's not possessed by demon or spirit nor is she...Within the limits of our abilities to detect...Some creature in disguise...We also know that Cicely distrusts, even hates the Council...Perhaps with just cause...And is determined to do anything to find and, if possible, retrieve William, even if it means conflict with us, even with her oldest friends...Her judgment may well be clouded...And she may be willing, at least as far as her Cicely self is concerned, to take very dangerous risks..."

"I don't think she'd do anything to harm anyone..."

"Nor do I...But, as Chairman...And as her friend, I have to take precautions...We have to know what she plans to do, Andrew...To what limits she may go...And try to find some way to win her trust back...She's desperately needed and this is not the time to lose her to some life-long, all-consuming, romantic quest..."

"Mr. Giles...I'm not willing to spy on Buffy...Even to have a place with the Council..."

"And I don't expect you to, Mr. Wells...But what I'm asking is that you do exactly what you would do should you pursue a career with us...Watch over her...Warn us if she is at risk of becoming a threat to herself or others...You may tell her that you're continuing your reports to us...She did want you to be her link to the Council..."

"If she's ok with that...But I won't do it behind her back..." Andrew shook his head...

"Mr. Wells...If I want Buffy spied upon, I assure you I have the resources to do so...I simply want her to keep a friendly link with us...Neither Willow nor Xander plan to remain with her indefinitely...We will need someone who will stay at her side...And whom she has grown to trust..."

"A Watcher..."

"A Watcher...She needs one, Andrew...And I can't be that Watcher for her anymore...I promise you, you'll be free to be as open with her as you like...And for her part, she'll want someone to report on us to her...I assure you she will be asking that of you...If she hasn't already..."

"She hasn't..." Andrew sighed... "But I guess she will, if I stay with the Council...She doesn't trust you...In the group sense, I mean..."

"Nor in the personal sense..." Giles gave a faint smile... "Though I will hope to restore that trust at least for me in time...Andrew...We need your help and so does she...Will you do this?...Will you be her Watcher?...Observer, that is, pending your completion of full training..."

"If she says ok...I guess so...But...I wouldn't count on her trusting me too far...I have hurt her, Mr. Giles..."

"We all have, Andrew...That, as I'm afraid you'll come to know in time, is the burden of being a Watcher to a Slayer...In time we must bring pain to our Slayers in some way, if only through our own deaths if not by failing them...And whatever your past, unlike me..." he smiled at Andrew... "Since you've joined us you have never failed her..."

"Will I have to?..." Andrew stared at him...

***

"Who..?"

Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present...With help from an Immortal source.



Part XIX...





***

"So, 'Henry'…" Dawn eyed Xander as they sat in a rather crowded Starbucks near Kings Cross Station, London…She having persuaded him that if Willow and Olive got to poke around Cicely's old digs, they at least should see a little of London on their own…

Andrew, to her slight irritation, too tied up with his "report" to Chairman Giles to come…

"Not you too…" he frowned… "Willow's been doing that to me all week…I can make an exception for Buffy but I gotta draw the line with you guys…"

"No 19th century vibes at all?..." Dawn asked…

"Of course not…" he stared at her… "Wait…You're serious, aren't you?..."

"Maybe a little…" she shrugged…Hands in placating gesture at his renewed frown…Dawn… "I mean, Buffy seems so sure…And even the Immortal…"

"I may look like her former self's cousin, Dawn…But I'm not…"

"You might not know…Buffy didn't have a clue about Cicely until now…"

What…? She blinked at his long stare… "You think…?"

"After the fact?…Kinda…Yeah…" sigh… "Dawnie, she was into Spike in some weird way from day one when he came to Sunnydale…And how many times could she have staked him but let him go?...Even when he was 100% Spike and killing her was the sole item on his plate…"

"Could be…I guess…" she nodded slowly… "It would explain a lot of things…"

"But as for me…No, I don't remember ever paling around with her in 1880…"

"But you hooked right up with her in 1997…" Dawn noted… "Maybe somewhere in there, Henry was pushing you…"

"And maybe you were Cleopatra 2000 plus years ago…If 'Henry' shows, I'm sure I, or rather, he will let you guys know…But it's Cicely I'm more concerned with…"

"She's Buffy…Buffy's her…Or whatever…Even Giles was willing to certify that…"

"Yeah…But where's the Buf we knew?…Is she gone for good, washed away by Cicely?..." frown… "I miss my friend, Dawn…However nice Cicely may be…"

"Willow said…"

"I know…Give her time…But we haven't heard a Buffy peep since Cicely showed…If she really is Buffy plus, where is our half?..."

"She's gotta be in there, Xander…"

"And what if…"

"Giles wouldn't lie about that…What'd be the good?..."

He blinked at that one…

"What?...I mean what if she doesn't want to come out…What made you say that?..." he eyed her… "You don't trust Giles now, either?..."

"I didn't say that…" she paused… "But I guess I don't know anymore…"

"If our pal Cicely ain't the First, she's certainly done her job for her…"



"They killed her, Xander…And William…Hell, worse than killed him…And Giles has lied to us…"

"Kept things from us, not lied, Dawn…And I think he honestly thought Buffy would be in danger if she learned about William and Cicely…"

"So kill William…With soul?...And tell us…Buffy and me, especially…Nothing?...Besides, he's the Chairman now, Xander…If he'd try to kill a soul to keep things quiet then, what would he do now?..."

"Dawn…We've put our lives in his hands…And we've known him a heck of a lot longer than Cicely…Not to mention he could've got rid of Cicely this morning…" he glared off a young man staring at them among the crowded Starbucks standing patrons…

Buf's right, Dawn thought…That pirate patch does give him a new air of authority…

"With Willow watching like a hawk?..." she noted…

He shrugged… "Willow doesn't know everything there is to know about magics, Dawn…Let alone other ways to get rid of somebody…He or someone on the Council could've found a way, I'm sure…"

"Maybe…And maybe they haven't decided what to do about her yet…He said they need her…Maybe he's not sure how to get Buffy back yet, so Cicely is the next best alternative…"

He frowned and took a pull on his coffee…

"I don't like this…" he shook his head… "I'm sorry about Cicely and Will and how things ended for Buffy and Will too…It's a damn shame for both of them…But whatever her intentions are, Cicely is driving wedges between us…And not just us and Giles…"

"Maybe we're just getting older and a little wiser…Sandler…" she grinned…

"Where did she get that from anyway…?"

"Some of his friends…Henry's…Used to call him Sandy…She tole me one night…" she noted to his look…Guess she thought it was just familiar enough…Alexander was his middle name, you know…"

And he bucked her on things at times…Including William…She eyed him… "Maybe I ought to read up on Cleo at that…" grin…

"Couldn't hurt…" he grinned back, then… "Dawn…It still comes back to…Now, what?...She's Buffy plus Cicely…Ok, granted…But where's the past twenty-two years?...Where's Buffy Summers?..."

"You said maybe she doesn't want to come out…This is the second time she's left William dead…And you remember what happened when she sent Angel to Hell…"

"She didn't turn into Spike's well-bred Brit fiancée, complete with upper crust prejudices…"

Dawn frowned… "She's not that bad…And she has tried…Anyway, she ran...Only thing Buffy has ever run from…Herself…" she looked at her cup… "Anyway, Cicely thinks that might be it…"

"So now she's an expert on Buffy's motives…"

"She is Buffy, Xander…"

"I need a little more proof than a failed exorcism to believe that completely, Dawn…But…" he put up a hand… "I'm not saying I think she's lying…I only wonder if there's anything of our Buffy left…"

"I think so…" Dawn said, firmly… "And you've seen Buffy in her…"

"We've wanted to…Whether we really do or no…" he shrugged, then sighed… "But the fact is, I won't be able to stick around much longer to find out…"



"What?..."

"Dawn, I can't sit here in England or wherever forever…I've got to get on with my own life…"

"Giles would…"

"I'm not Watcher material, thanks…Dawn, you guys may not have understood, but I liked my old job...And crazy as it sounds, I even miss my family…"

"You're leaving…" she said…Stunned… "Xander, we need you…"

"Buffy and you are ok…I'm willing to believe Cicely will handle things ok regards protecting you…I will keep in touch, maybe even do some work with the Slayers…But it's time I made plans to head out…"

"Back to the US?..."

"For a little while to see my folks…But I've been looking into work abroad…"

"Here?..." she asked, hopefully…

"No…Africa…" he replied… "It's where a guy who can build things and wants to help people with that can do some good…" he noted… "And Giles has told me they've got a critical shortage of personnel to work with the Slayers there…I could go on with my own work and still help out some of the new Slayers…"

It's time I gave some other Slayer the chance to view me as a bumbling, inept, but lovable sidekick…he grinned at her…

"Very lovable…" she grinned back…Then teared up… "Aw, Xander…Do you have to do this?...Can't you build houses here?..."

"With the UK's regulatory structure and work permit restrictions?..." he mock-frowned… "Dawny, it's something I want to do…I can't be a Scooby junior, human member forever…I won't be that far…Just a plane ride…And several horrible bus treks…Away…"

"Buffy will freak when she hears…And Willow…Say…" Dawn brightened… "Maybe this will snap on the Buffy part…Emotional shock…"

"That would be a nice goodbye gift…" he smiled… "But I doubt it'll be that big a shock…As for Wil…I've already told her…"

"Nice of her to tell me…" frown…

"I asked her to let me tell you…"

"Great…" sigh… "So when…?"

"A little bit yet…I wanna see what 19th century Buffy's plans are and know you guys are settled…Speaking of which…You guys made any plans yet?...That she's discussed with you, at least?...You have to start getting on with your lives, too, you know…"

"Still getting her sea legs, Xander…She herself wasn't sure how the exorcism would go…By the way I hope you know this is really gonna screw things up with her Cicely…" Dawn eyed him… "Willow says she was all set to get us hitched…"

"What?..." stare…

"She thinks we may a fine couple…And in her day, parents…Or guardians…Made arrangements…When the kooky kids didn't go running off together…"

"Now I've got to get outta here…"

"Well, that's flattering…" she teased… "What, my dowry ain't big enough?..."

"You and she have been talking a lot about her old days, haven't you?..."

***



"One more little surprise, ladies…" Knowles smiled to Buffy, Willow, and Olive as the four spread out in the basement room which had once been a servants' dining room…

"That wall's different…" Buffy noted, looking over to a brick wall running across the rear…A small doorway to the left side…

"Yes, it was put in relatively late…The family must have been looking to set up new rooms down here...Though it's not as though Sir Richard or any of the following owners had large families…But the interesting thing's on the other side…" he led them all to the small doorway and waited as they stepped through…

Nice…If we had a little more light…Willow thought…Buffy looking pensive and even a mite troubled…

"Anything wrong?..." Olive asked her…

"No…" Buffy shook her head…Pausing…

"Is there any light, further that way? …" she pointed down the small hallway...Darkening to pitch black, just a little way down…

"I think the workmen have strung some, just a moment…" Knowles stepped back through the doorway…

A few worklamps glowed on…

"Better?..." Knowles called…

"Much, thanks…" Buffy returned…

"It's odd…" she looked at Willow… "This was the old laundry and storage space…Why was it so blocked off?..."

"The later owners probably didn't need so much space for that and wanted extra rooms or something…Buffy?..." she called as Buffy moved down the hall…

"That other wall is new too…" Buffy murmured, staring at a blank wall…Mostly blank…In front of her…

"Did they break the wall there?..." Willow pointed…

"Take care ladies…" Knowles was coming up to them… "The wall blocks off more space and the break was just made the other day…The men don't know yet quite how well supported it is or exactly what's in there…"

"Why would someone wall-off part of his cellar?..." Willow hissed to Olive... "Sounds like a Boris Karloff movie…Body sealed up in…"

Ummn…The two blinked at each other…

"Buffy?..." Willow called to the Slayer now peering through the breech in the wall… "Maybe we'd better take it slow…"

Buffy nodded…Then went through… "Wait here…" a faint call…Knowles calling after her, worried…Sound of dirt or loose brick hitting the ground…

"Mrs. Walthrop, please be careful!..." Knowles started in after her…

A scream shocked them all…Knowles rushing through, Willow and Olive on his heels…

"Buffy!!"…Willow cried…To a Buffy kneeling on the floor, hands outstretched on a white slab embedded on the wall…

"Oh, my God…" Olive breathed…Reading…

"Are you all right, Mrs. Walthrop?..." Knowles had reached the kneeling Buffy, Willow likewise beside her now…

"Here…" she said, distinctly… "Willow…" she grabbed at and pulled one of Willow's arms to lay her hand against a second white embedded slab next to the one she'd been touching…Looking up at her with wild eyes…



"Buffy…"

"We're here…" she said quietly, calming now…

"Cicely Addams Walthrop, 1857-1880, Amelia Dawn Walthrop 1880…" Knowles read the lettering on the slabs… "Dear God…"

"All this time…" Buffy whispered, now stroking her child's slab…Holding Willow's hand to it firmly…She looking up again at Willow… "He protected her, loved her…Even with the demon in control…You said so, she told me…He knew, somehow…"

"Yeah…" Willow nodded, tears running… "I guess he did…"

***

"Who..?"

Disclaimer: Not mine but thine...O, Joss!

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/who.html...

General audience level...

Summary: Events after the great Sunnydale battle have left Buffy seeking her past and present...With help from an Immortal source.



Part XX...



***

Having promised Mr. Knowles and his very perturbed partners that the family would be in touch to consider the matter of the remains in the Addams crypt, Willow, Olive, and Buffy returned to their hotel, Buffy swearing the others to secrecy about their discovery, at least for now… Willow for one, quite eager to agree…Not quite something she'd like to suddenly spring upon Dawny…

Though she and a more troubled Olive did not quite see the need to keep Giles out of the picture…If, as Buffy noted quietly after a moment, he and the Council didn't already know…

"I'm sure Rupert would make no use of this, Cicely…" Olive insisted… "I can't see the harm in telling him…"

"Then it doesn't matter whether he knows or not…And I prefer to keep this a family matter for now…" Buffy frowned at the telephone…How do I ring for tea on this thing?...She turned to Willow…Who had to admit the hotel's system a bit complex…

"Aren't we telling Xander?..." she asked, holding phone… "Yes, some tea and…"

"Scones…With raspberry jam…" Buffy called…

"Scones and jam…And…" Willow told the phone, eyeing Olive who shook head…

"…And any cake they have…" Buffy added…

"…Cake…?...If you've got any…And maybe some carrot sticks?...Fine, thanks…" hanging up…

"Carrot sticks…?" Buffy eyed her…



"Not all of us have Slayer metabolism, Buf…" Willow shook her head…

"Nonsense…You're thin as a rail, Willow…"

"Pretty fat rail since we been on the Cicely diet…Anyway, is Xander in?..."

"I'll tell him…" Buffy nodded… "But perhaps we should leave out Andrew just for now…"

"It's your call…" Willow shrugged… "But I don't like keeping secrets and I gotta side with Olive, Buffy…I don't see how Giles knowing would do any harm…"

"Perhaps if we say nothing he'll let us know what he knows…"

Willow stared at her friend's set face…Clearly even this emotional shock wasn't quite the konk needed…If a konk would even work now…

"Giles is not the enemy here, Buffy…"

"I didn't say that…" Buffy replied, shortly… "I simply want to know if he knows more than he's said…He has in the past, you've seen that…And as you say, it's 'my call'…Meaning, I suppose my decision?..."

"Yeah…" Willow sighed… "What about Dawn?..."

"I'll tell her when the moment's right…I'm sure though…" Buffy paused… "You said she and William were always close…"

"Well, as compared with your other nemeses, I guess so…Though she wasn't too keen on him after he…"

"…Tried to assault me…? Before he went for his soul?...She told me…" Buffy nodded…

"You think Dawn is aware…About William?..." Olive asked…

"My daughter knew her father…If only instinctively, I'm sure…Willow?..." Buffy faced her friend…

"You know this means you'll have her wanting to reach him as well…"

"Yeah…" sigh… "And you know I meant what I said…I can't bring him back…However much I might want to…It's not a game, Buffy…"

"And I am not a child crying for a toy, Willow…I want my husband…I'll settle for just reaching him in spirit if I must but one way or the other, I am going to reach him…"

"What good will it do?..."

"What good?..." Buffy stared… "I don't know where he's gone to…Whether he's safe in Heaven or trapped somewhere by whatever joking fiend rules a universe where an innocent man could be condemned like this?... Knowing what you do about us, whether you believe what I've told you of our connection in the past, do you think I could just walk away from his grave, humming a merry tune, seeking my next Undead lover?...I put him into a century of torment…And I love him…There's no way, as you people say, that I'm abandoning him again…I'll know that he's safe or die trying to find out…"

"Buffy…"

"Weren't you ever in love, Willow?...Didn't you even try to find out if your Tara is safe?..."

I'm sorry…Buffy eyed Wil's stricken face… "I shouldn't have said that…"

"I didn't say I wouldn't try to help you reach him…" Willow finally said after a long moment… "But you and maybe Dawn will have to clearly understand that I can't get him back…I know that hurts, I nearly killed everyone I cared about, it hurt so much to know I couldn't get Tara back…But I can't…So be sure you can deal with it, especially if we do reach him…'Cause that's the best I can do, if I can do that…"



"I understand…" Buffy nodded… "Thank you, Willow…"

"Understand that I mean it, Cicely…And make sure Dawn understands it…When, as you say, the time comes…"

"I do, I will…" another nod…

Olive eyeing Buffy's quiet, composed face with troubled look…

***

"Caleb did not destroy our entire infrastructure, as you can see, Mr. Wells…" Giles noted to a staring Andrew…At a vast complex of hallways, deep beneath London…Roger Wyndham-Price following them…

"The Archives remain intact…As do our primary research facilities...Here and in several locations around the world…Fortunately, the First was like most Underworld would-be conquerors in her contempt for human science…Metaphysical as well as physical…Had the Slayers failed we still would have been able to counterattack in time…"

"With what…?" Andrew looked round…

"Roger?...Dr. Wyndham-Price is also our director of physical and metaphysical scientific research..." Giles explained…

"Yes…Well…" Roger eyed Andrew…Him?...His look to Giles…

Giles, inscruitable return look…

Well…

"…You know, Wells, I always rather fancied your freeze ray…" Roger smiled at Andrew… "Yes, we have copies of all your devices, plus others developed by enemies of the Slayer she as well as her predeceasors have encountered…"

"How…?"

"We are Watchers, Andrew…As you'll learn if you do stay with us, it's our job to acquire information on every foe of the Slayer, including studying their methods and weapons…" Giles noted…

"Just a moment…" Roger paused at a non-descript door which slid back at the laying of his right hand upon the metal panel of the door…

"Andrew?..." Buffy smiled at him…Stepping out from the doorway…Dressed in her standard blouse and slacks, no hat or long skirt…And no Brit accent…

"Everything ok?..." she eyed him, a concerned look…

***

"So did you get to the British Museum…?" Buffy asked Dawn as they strolled in leisurely fashion along the street near their hotel…A few passers-by staring a bit at her hat…One or two clearly looking for film cameras, Dawn noted…

"Yeah…What happened at your house?..."

"Mr. Knowles was very kind…The house is in very good shape…"

"Great…What did you find?..." Dawn eyed her… "You didn't bring me out alone to tell me your old house looks good…"

"They found my father's diary…" Buffy said…

Dawn halted… "Sir Richard, right?..."



Hmmn-hmm…Buffy nodded… "I never knew he'd kept one…Never thought Father was the type to keep one…He was very shaken by my death…"

"I'd hope so…You guys didn't get on well…?"

"Well enough…He was very proud of me…For reasons I didn't particularly relish…But I tried to live up to…Until Will came along…"

"Not too happy with your choice, you told me…"

"No…He wasn't…"

"So what else?...You've told me most of this already…You left after Will and he disowned…Disowned, right?..."

"Yes…"

"…Disowned you…What did dear diary say about that?..."

"He wasn't very happy about it…"

"Good…" she shrugged at Buffy's look… "He was a jerk to abandon a daughter who needed him…If he'd looked after you, maybe…"

"Don't be unfair…Your grandfather never blamed you…"

Ummn…

"What?..." Dawn blinked…

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