A Halloween Carol...Part XI...

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

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

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

Naturally to bone up on Cicely Addams Walthrop (AU version of Cecily) you should look up my Cicelyverse pages, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

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

Part XI...

***

2025...Halloween afternoon...

New Sunnydale...

Buffy looked around the large room she and the spirits of (hopefully, though her jury was still out as befitting a properly cautious Slayer) her mom and sister had just materialized in...

"I don't know this place?...How come we're here?..."

Cause...Dawn eyed her...You oughta know it...

"And if you'd managed to have any kinda life you would know it...And be here right now..." she stepped back suddenly... As two of the little Harris girls now opened a door at one end and raced by her..."Instinct, can't help it...Mom's more used to it..." she shrugged to Buffy...As one now passed right through Joyce...The girls followed at a considerably more sedate pace by Anya-Dru, the remaining of her three girls nestled in her arms, then Xander, William, young Joyce, Wes Jr., and several others, obviously guests...

"Have a seat anywhere guys!...Xander!?...Get the glasses from the big cupboard in the kitchen, please?!...What does we want to drink, eh?..." Anya-Dru cooed to the daughter in her arms...Buffy staring at her beaming face as she kissed the little girl...

Ok...Fine...She waved a hand at Dawn...

"I'm a miserable ole bitch who hides in her condo except at night when she's needed to save the ones who aren't rescued by our heroic garbagemen..." she glared at Dawn... "What would be different for them if I were here right now...?" she indicated the group...Anya-Dru now carefully setting her youngest on the floor...And turning to grab and tickle a second giggling one...

"For most of them?..." Dawn shrugged... "Not a thing except the Harris girls would have to try and be nice to Aunt Buffy when they want quality time with Mum and Pappa...And Xander would be pleased...As would Anya-Dru for his sake at least...But it wouldn't make a hell of lot of difference for them..."

Buffy blinked slightly...

"Sorry...But you're not the sole or central focus of most people's lives, sis...Even your ole pals'..."

"But for you...And my...Ok, our William..."

Buffy looked at her...For our...? She stared over at William, now seated beside young Joyce on the Harris sofa...One of the little ones coming over to Unka Will, he got down on the floor with her and solemnly began a guessing game, his Joyce joining them...



He looks so tired...I mean beyond that phony grey in his hair...she thought...

"And my Joycee..." Dawn smiled at her daughter proudly...And eyed her mom's spirit...Now?...

Yeah, ok...Joyce's spirit nodded...

"Our Joycee..." Dawn looked at Buffy... "The daughter we lost as Cicely so long ago...And never forgave our self for losing...Just as we never forgave our self for failing him that night..."

Of course we named her Amelia back then...After his sister...

"I remember..." Buffy sighed... "And I remembered...Too late...And I know...Knew the day I finally saw her for the first time after the funeral...She was our Amelia back..."

An Amelia who needed you...Dawn eyed her, a clear anger in her voice...She glanced at a somewhat nervous Joyce's spirit... "Sorry, Mom...But this was my daughter here..."

"She could have had you for a Mom, Buf...Part of me...Did you think I would've minded...?"

Dawn...Joyce looked at her...As did Buffy...

Well...Ok...Dawn backed down... "I would've been pissed for a few days...But in the end, I would have been glad some part of me was with her...And him..."

"You don't have to tell me I failed..." Buffy shook her head... "I knew that day back at the Old Sunnydale crater...When he died alone again...And I remembered Cicely..."

Dawn watching her face...Sighing...

"You didn't know Buffy...Hell, I was in love with him long before you were..." Like Hell you were...Buffy glared...Like Hell I was...Dawn glared back...Girls...Joyce hissed... "...and I never did anything for him until that night...And you did come for him that time with the First...It meant a lot to him..."

Buffy trembled... "I don't...I never...Deserved...Dawn?...Why didn't I do...Something?..."

"Spike would have taken advantage of it...And that would have destroyed William, to know his darker side had turned you...You knew that...But you didn't kill him and you didn't let us kill him...All that time when our Will was trapped...You did protect him from the real danger when Spike ran things, Buf...And later, when his soul was back in control..."

He might have lost that soul...she explained to her sis' stare...Condemned it in despair and rage far worse than anything Spike the demon could ever have done...You helped him find his way back...

"I used and beat him and gave him no help or hope when he tried to help and comfort me...I left him insane and alone in a basement for weeks...I told him I needed the Spike in him to fight for me...I left him to die alone...Not even sure that I cared for him..." Buffy shook her head... "And lets not forget I condemned him to this in 1880..."

"Because...We...Cicely...Loved him too much to keep him with us...In danger...We were wrong...And we were afraid..." Dawn nodded to Buffy's stare... "But it was not because we...You...didn't love him enough..."

And that love was so strong...It found us a way back...Found him a way back...

"To you..." Buffy eyed her...

To us...Dawn replied firmly...'Cause like it or no, sis...We are Cicely...Variations on the same consciousness...

"Even if you haven't been keeping your end up very well these past years...Well, come on...We still got things to see..."



"Why bother..." Buffy shrugged... "I'm old and alone...I've failed...Why not just leave me be?...I can't change now...And Mom's said the past can't be changed..."

"Cause I want my sis back...Not this grim, bitter old spinster you're turning into..."

This...Cowardly old lady...Dawn looked at her...Who's afraid to face anyone she loves...Cause they might remind her how she failed the ones she loved most...

"That's why you can't face Xander...Willow and Giles...And especially Anya-Dru...Why you shove them away...They're out there every night now trying to do what you wanted to do for him...And didn't..."

I mean, c'mon, Buf...Somebody's gotta slap some sense into ya...And you won't let Will get near you these days...So Dad, Mom, and I decided we had to try...Besides...

"You keep this up and you're gonna end up in some immortal isolation ward of your own making...And it'd be boring throughout Eternity without my ole Buffy half...Though Cicely is more fun than I expected..."

Our personalities integrate yet remain kinda independent...she explained...Hard to really describe it...You'll see when you get here permanently...If you get here...

"Keep the attitude, though..." she grinned... "I like forties-Buffy sassy...We just gotta drop the garbagey crap you've picked up on the way..."

"For example...Telling Willow that time she'd betrayed Tara by marrying Giles..." Dawn eyed her coldly...

That really was the lowest of the low, sis...Mom didn't even wanna consider using that one during her session...

Buffy gave a sheepish much younger woman's guilty look...

"I was mad at her...For giving me hell about your Joyce..."

Yeah?...Dawn noted drily... "As in...Hell about ignoring your only niece?...My daughter?..."

Our daughter I should say...she eyed her...Which you yourself just admitted...

Ummn...

"Dawn?..." Joyce hissed... "We really don't have time...You can give Buffy hell about this some other day..."

Sorry...A last glare at Buffy...

"Well, lets move on..."

***

2025...Halloween midafternoon...

A high school office in one of LA's rougher neighborhoods...

"Hey..."

"Hello there..."

"What you doin' there Mr Wood?..." Faith grinned...As she raised her head from the floor...

"Don't you know the laws on sexual misconduct in the workplace...And you a principal..." she shook her head...



"There's nothing in the rule books regarding bagging one's old lady in the office...Mrs. Wood..." Robin smiled back at her... "And this is Halloween after all...When mystic forces get all mystical..."

"They do not...Liar..." she whacked him, sitting up... "It's the only day of the year I can relax a little and take a night off..."

"Unless of course...Le grande dame calls me in..." she sighed...

"Wes said there wasn't anything on the radar screen when he stopped by yesterday..."

"Doesn't matter..." she shrugged... " 'The Law' gets lonely sulking in her lair and figures I've got nothing better to do than discuss training schedules with her..."

Hey...Buffy glared...Just cause some of us have a sense of responsibility...Dawn and Joyce rolling eyes...

"You don't have to go, Faith..." Wood looked at her as she stood up...

"Eh...Well...I kinda feel sorry for the old girl..." Old...what?...you little tramp?...Buffy glowered...

"And if I don't go...Who would...?" she eyed him as he rose in turn...

"Thing is...I wouldn't mind if she wanted me to mind the New Sunnydale store...Long as my pretty boy can come with me..." she grinned at him... "If she was gonna take a day off...Find some nice guy and..." A student knocked at the office door... Mrs. Wood?...Hiya, Fred, right?...she eyed him, then the clock... "Wait for me in the outer office, please?...Thanks, sweetie..."

He didn't see us?...Ya think?...she looked at her husband...A beautiful memory of his high school days...Robin grinned...As she threw a paperweight at him... "You and your pretty boy moves...And me a respectable married teacher/Slayer lady..."

"Anyway..." she frowned at him... "Like I say...I'd be glad to give the poor kid a day off...So would any of the Slayers...But..."

"Well...Buffy's always been the overly responsible type..." he began...Oh, really?...Faith stared...Looking up from leafing through some files on the more troubled students in her care...Ah, Fred...Whoa...Busy guy for such a quiet, polite type...Me gonna be occupied for the next hour...she noted...

"And I just hate the overly responsible type..." he teased..."Medium responsible does me just fine...And however selfless you may be, my darling...I'd just as soon Ms. Summers found some one else to hang with tonight..."

You betcha, pal...Buffy frowned...And see if I come by next time you want some one for career day...

Like the Woods weren't just being polite inviting Assistant Curator Summers to their school career day...Dawn noted...

Ummn...Whoops...She eyed Joyce who gave a cold stare...

"Not that curators aren't fun or exciting, Mom..." she hastily tried... "Just..."

Suppose we move on...Joyce suggested drily...As Buffy grinned at the sheepish Dawn...

***

Halloween afternoon...The Harrises...

Whada we doing back here?...Buffy groused...I don't need to see the kids again to remind me what I missed out on, thanks...

"More going on...And I'm running this tour...Now shedup..." Dawn...

"You know you wanna go over, Dad..." young Joyce eyed her father... "Lets go and drag her back here...Or least make her open up..."



Ummn...Buffy stared...Gee...

Jesus!...They're coming now!?...I haven't even had a chance to straighten the dump up...

"Get me home!...Now!..." she cried...

"Hold on to your panties, sis...Geesh..." Dawn shook her head...

"It'll just be last year all over again..." William shook his head... "She'll never answer the bell...Phone'll stay deactivated...And even if I could get past her door barrier after smashing the door open...She'd scoot...Xander knows..." he nodded to his host...Who sighed back...Yeah... "We tried it four years ago...He took the door off the hinges...She was gone before we could get in..."

Nothin' off my speed that Halloween...Buffy grinned...

Great...Dawn sighed...And you ended up spending it at Willie's bar...Thanksgiving and Christmas, too...

"Not drinkin' of course..." Buffy hastily added...A nervous glance at Mom...Who gave her a dry glare...Uh-huh...

"I think we'd best just respect her privacy, Joyce..." Xander noted... "And wait till she's ready to..."

"Be buried...?" Anya-Dru suggested... "Sorry, my An kicking in...But I'm really afraid she's never gonna come round..."

"So she hates us?...Me?..." Joyce looked at her...

Buffy blinking...Ummn...

"A logical conclusion by my intelligent and observant daughter...Given her biological aunt's attitude..." Dawn groused darkly...

"Thank God she had Willow and An-Dru to pinch-hit...Else she might have grown up as twisted and bitter as..." Hey...Buffy glared...

"I didn't...I don't hate her...Dawn...C'mon..." A hard stare from her spirit sis...

Mom?...Buffy turned to good ole Mom for a little...Whoops...Another hard stare...

"Every time you see her...You see me..." Dawn noted coldly... "In a red wig, but still...And you've never forgiven me for doing what you couldn't...Even though you wanted me to..."

"You said I was right not to..."

"Until he got his soul back, yes...It would have been foolish, wrong to trust Spike...But you could have helped him, encouraged him...God, you were quick enough to jump in the sack with him...And maybe not reaching out to him after he came back the last time is understandable...If stupid..."

But to dump on me because you were a little coward when it came to risking your heart...And then after he lost me...To sit around, feeling sorry for yourself...When your family needed you...And again put it all on me...

"Damn you sometimes, sis...If I weren't sure I sprang from your consciousness...That somewhere in you is me...And that my poor Will still...Hell, there are times I'd leave you to stew in your own misery..."

Dawn...Joyce frowned...

Still?...Buffy looked up and over at her sis...As in?...she thought...

Dawn giving a sour stare back...



"Of course he still loves you...At least...The me in you...Do you think our Will would ever stop loving us?..."

And, unfortunately...You're all he's got left of us...she frowned...Excepting...

Joyce eyed her...Ok...she put up a hand...

"And he needs you Buffy..."

"So he can watch me rot and die again?..." Buffy sighed...While he lives on...

"He bore up with my croaking on him...He'd deal..."

"Even if all you've shown me is true..." she shook her head...And I don't say I'm necessarily buyin'...

"I don't have what he needs...I never did...I'm the Slayer...You were the one for him, Dawn...You were...My free heart...I'm sorry I couldn't be better about accepting that..."

That was bullcrap when we panicked as Cicely in 1880...And got him killed...And it's bullcrap now...Dawn fumed...

"Faith's happy and in love...Hundreds...Heck, thousands...Of Slayers are in love...Why not you?..."

"You know why...It will happen again...As it always does...He'll die...Or worse...My enemies..."

Oh, Lord...Dawn rolled her eyes... "Your enemies?...What enemies?...You haven't fought a big bad in ten years..."

"I abandoned and worse than killed him in 1880...I abandoned and killed him in 2003...And now, what would I have to offer him, even if he didn't die or lose Joyce or worse...Watching me rot away..."

It's better this way...Let him remember me as I was...And maybe, try again sometime...

"He was gonna die with me..." Dawn said flatly... "He wanted to...He was ready...If I had lived to old age...But...He had to stay and bring up my Joyce..."

"He'd die with you if it came to that...And as for trying again...Even if he'll wait that 20-30, 000 years...You'll still be the Slayer, Buffy..."

What...?

"Sorry...It's your destiny, kiddo...In every rebirth you carry the Slayer line...You will always be a born Slayer...You can't run and hide and hope you'll be reincarnated as a normal human girl one day..."

Shit...Buffy hissed...Sorry, Mom...

"Buf...Can't you see what I been tryin' to pound into that thick blonde skull of yours?..." Dawn sighed...Geesh... "As Cicely...We would've gotten this in a hot minute..." she waved a hand... "All these people you love...Take love as it comes...They know it can be snatched away in a moment...But they take the risk for the joy of that moment..."

"If you love our Will, don't abandon him again...Take him...Show him...Or love somebody else, if you choose...But don't sit here drying up and blame the Slayer and Fate for it..."

"Yeah..." a voice called... "You should listen to our sis, sis...That's the little voice Cicely heard when she became a fool for love a century ago...My voice, actually..."

Pity she...You...Stopped listening...A young, smiling, but harsh-looking Buffy appeared...

"Anne...You're early..." Joyce frowned...



"Eh...Dawn's nearly through...And I want my time...You and Dad promised me my time..."

"It's ok Mom..." Dawn waved a hand... "After all...I'm not leaving Anne around unwatched..."

Hey!...Anne snarled...Taking demon face... "I made a promise to Mom...And our bastard daddie...I never go back on my word..."

Specially when there's something for me in it...she grinned...Resuming human face...

"Wha's the matter, Buffy?..." she stared into 2025 Buffy's face... "Don't act like you don't know me...Your very own personal monster...Who's here to clean up the mess you idiot human sisters have made...Again..."

Hey, Mom...she smiled at her... "You're stickin', right?..."

"As long as I can Anne..." Joyce nodded...

"Good...Cause it's bad enough I gotta spend time with these two..." she waved at Buffy and Dawn... "Not gettin' a lil' Mom time would really be unfair..."

"You love me more than any of the others, right?..." she grinned... "You gotta say so...Cause my evil ego's so frail...And I am doin' this for you, momma..."

"I love all my daughters...Equally, Anne...But I do love you..."

Aw...Anne smiled..."So...How come you leave me in Hell, bitch!?..." she glared... "What kind of a mommie leaves her daughter in torment?!..."

Anne...I'm not listening to this...Stay on target or go...Joyce told her firmly...

"Yeah...sure...Help the lil' blonde dunce to my William?...Why not?...I'm nearly as big an asswipe as she is...Guess I get that from you, doormat mom...Did Dad start chasing them up in Heaven yet?...Or are you 'not listening' to that either?..."

"That's our demon..." Dawn noted drily...

***

A Halloween Carol...Part XII...

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

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

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

Naturally to bone up on Cicely Addams Walthrop (AU version of Cecily) you should look up my Cicelyverse pages, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

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

Part XII...

***

"Ok..." Anne grinned at 2025 Buffy and the spirits of Dawn and Joyce... "Les' get this show on da road...Here's what..."

"I'm not finished yet, Anne..." Dawn cut her off... Bitch...Anne darkly glared...Face reddening...



"We should've killed you!...Not just let you jump into that damned hole...Ripped you to shreds...Ya lil' nothing...!"

Anne!...Joyce called sharply... "I want you to stop it...And you know I can make you stop it...So stop it!...Right now!!...You'll have your chance..."

Anne gave a hard, vicious look...But backed down...

"You should've killed the bitch when she took him, Buf..." she groused, settling by her... "But you always did love our lil' Dawnie...Too bad you couldn't get her in the sack while Willow was around to give you lessons, huh?...OW!!..." she howled as Joyce gave her an icy stare...

Ok...She sulked...Frowning at Dawn...Suddenly smiling brightly...Mommie...she gave an angelic smile...

"Just helping our Buf get in touch with her darker desires..." she grinned at Buffy... "I'll be good now, Ma, I promise..." she called to the glaring Joyce...

It all comes from you, hon...she whispered quietly to her counterpart as Dawn resumed her tour guide post...

***

2025...Halloween night...About 9pm...

Hopewell Cemetery...New Sunnydale...

"Hard to believe..." a middle-aged Xander looked about the over-grown, battered old cemetery...Gift of the people of Crestwood, Old Sunnydale's rather decrepit and depressed former neighboring town to their New Sunnydale neighbors... "There could be any space left to plant corpses here...They must be shoving them in feet first..." he grinned at young Joyce...Reluctantly allowed by her father and "uncle" and "aunt" of sorts to accompany them on their nightly rounds...Under the very watchful eyes of all three...

After all...William had noted when Anya-Dru frowned at him for caving to Joycee's demand to come along...Halloween is the quietest night of the year...

Dru's Victorian side kicking in, she now frowned at her husband...Alexander...A little respect, she hissed...

But the place could certainly use some improvement...Perhaps we should offer our services at the next town meeting...she suggested as they strolled...

"Harris Construction could do a fine job reorganizing this place...As a community service..." she smiled at Xander...

A tax-deductible community service...her Anya side noted happily...

"Doesn't it ever creep him out?..." Anne noted brightly to 2025 Buffy... "Screwing Drusilla, I mean?..."

But then you've seen Anyanka, haven't you, sis?...God, talk about a desperate man...she chuckled...

"We really should've fucked him on a regular basis after Anya started in with him...Just to get his mind straight on what a real woman's like...I mean, I'd hardly call sex with Cordelia...Sex..."

"But then, you never had a problem with screwing the Undead...Did you?..." she smiled... "Now, Cicely...She had a little restraint...A little class..."

Even Faith knew where to draw the line...

Anne...Spirit Joyce hissed...



"Anne...I can take up all your time, if you like..." Dawn noted... "And you can go back to Hell without what you've come for...It's up to you..."

A furious glare...Quenched by a matching one from Joyce...Ummn...Anne backed down again...

"Ok...Cause my mommy asked...Not for you, energy ball..."

Mommy-killer...she hissed to Buffy...

Anne!...Joyce glared...

"She did cause it, sis...You know that...The monks killed Mom to bind you to her..." Anne hastily whispered...

Xander cautiously led his group along a weed-choked path... "This way..." he noted...William carefully swinging out to the side, a firm eye on his daughter at all times...Anya-Dru pausing to concentrate... "Anything?..." Xander hissed to her...Young Joyce looking back at her 'aunt' with curiosity...

"We don't know that Anne..." Buffy shook her head at her companion, identical minus approximately 20 years... "I know I've thought the way for a dark mo or two at times over the years...But that's all it was...And even if you could prove it...She wouldn't be to blame...And Mom and I love her..."

Thanks, kiddo...A beaming Dawn spirit materialized in front of the twin Buffies...I appreciate it...

"Jesus, Dawn!...Don't do that!..." Buffy groused... "Give me a coronary why don't ya..."

"Yeah, you selfish, inconsiderate little husband-stealin' bitch...Get the hell away from my sis and me...!" Anne chimed in...

"You...Shedup..." Buffy turned back to her counterpart...

"I feel something..." Anya-Dru called to Xander, who nodded, pausing...William, redoubling his watchful caution as he continued to guard their flank, called for his daughter to stay immediately by her clairvoyantly demon-sensitive 'aunt'...

Girls...the adult Joyce spirit sighed... "I'm gonna call your father in a minute...He ought to have some mystic energy restored by now...And if he has to come..."

Daddy?...Buffy and Anne looked at her...Hmmn, bad choice of threat, Joyce noted to herself...

But it is nice to see them so eager for him...

"Pissed...Daddy..." Dawn hissed... "After all the redemption points he had to earn for this...Doubt if you get any birthday visits from him in Hell this year, Annie...If he has to come..."

Eh...Anne waved a hand...But a slight nervousness betrayed her...No BV from Daddy?...

"What the hell...Get on with it energy ball...'Cause I want my chance asap..."

He loves me best, ya know...she whispered to Buffy...We screw allda time when he comes to Hell...she grinned...

"ANNE!!..." Joyce materialized by her, grabbing her arm...Shock waves coursing out from her touch as the demon screamed...

"OW!!!...Ma!!...Ok, ok!...I'm lyin!!...Can it, Mom!!...Please!!!..." Anne shrieked...

"Then behave yourself, girl..." Spirit Joyce released her grip, frowning... Owww...Anne moaned...Moommie...You hurt me!...she cried...Howling and whimpering as her sisters watched...



"The really embarrassing thing is that Spike never lied to us..." Spirit Dawn, beside Buffy, whispered to her, shaking her head at the demon... "I mean the insane killer and tormentor...Even the incestuous seduction bit...Ya kinda expect from your demon...But the lying's not even obligatory...I don't know where she gets it from..."

Never surprised me...Joyce, kindly, did not say...As she stoked the demon's arm, making soothing noises...

***

A Halloween Carol...Part XIII...

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

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

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

Naturally to bone up on Cicely Addams Walthrop (AU version of Cecily) you should look up my Cicelyverse pages, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

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

Part XIII...

***

2025...Halloween night...McGarvey Cemetery on the New Sunnydale-Crestwood line...

"Over there...Moving away from us..." Anya-Dru pointed to a row of old and somewhat battered tombstones...Middle-aged Xander and the more or less immortal Dr. William Walthrop, MD looking over...Didn't exactly look like a rising spot for your typical newborn...

"A few days old..." she noted to them...As young Joyce came over...William turning to warn his daughter to keep close...

It's a powerful one...Anya-Dru eyed Xander, then Will...Followers close by...

"We're ready..." Xander nodded...And turned to William with a grin... "Right, doc?..."

"Got my lil' black bag and pill kit..." Walthrop patted his coat pocket...

"And I got Willow's restraining spell..." Xander noted... "Lets move..." he beamed...Uh...He eyed young Joyce... "Cautiously..." he added...

Oh, no...Buffy sighed, watching with her little spirit family... "They're at this again?...And how could Will be so stupid as to bring Joyce along?..."

"Yeah..." Dawn nodded, a narrow-eyed stare... "But it's not as if he could've left her with you..."

"Yeah...!" Anne chimed in, happily switching sibling sides... "You treat our only niece like shit, you rotting ole bitch!..."

Anne...Adult Joyce glared...

"And you abandoned our William when he needed us..." the demon said, more quietly...And with some real anger...Buffy staring back...

"When does a soulmate need his beloved more than when he gets that soul back?...Back for us..."



Xander would've treated him more kindly...You left him alone to die...Anne glowered...Enough, Anne...Joyce hissed...

"Joyce..." Anya-Dru called... "Over here..." she waved the girl close to her side... "No heroics allowed on these adventures...That includes you, Mr. H..." she called...

"Yeah..." Dawn's spirit nodded to Buffy... "Anne loves him too...William, not Spike..."

But Spike is better in the sack, right Buffy?...Anne grinned... "OW!!!...Mommie?!..."

Then can it, Anne...spirit Joyce glared...

"Heroics?!..." Xander blinked at his mate... "By a man with a beautiful, loving wife who can make money hand over fist even faster than she can toss it to the homeless she meets in the street?...And sallies forth, after prayers, to rescue the souls of the Undead before making her daily morning killing in the market?...I'd have to be a resouled vampire...With an LA zip code...To be that nobly stupid..."

Eh, doc?...he turned to the good doctor Walthrop...

Amen...William nodded solemnly...As Ms. Harris gave a wry grin...Well...

"That's good...Cause Dru would be broken-hearted at your breech of your solemn promise not to take unnecessary risks...And Anya would pop you one in the jaw and drag you home..." Anya-Dru eyed her hubbie...

And she has, too...he noted to Will...Damned straight...she nodded... "No way were you gonna die on lil' An's birthday..."

"Fellas!..." she tensed... "Joyce, stay here!..." she moved on hastily...

"That solemn promise counts for you, too, Ms. Harris...!" Xander called, racing after her, William right behind, giving his daughter a hard "Stay...Put.." glare as he passed her...

"I would've died with him at the Crater...He wasn't even sure if we cared...You were Cicely, all over again..." Anne stared at Buffy... "Stop it, Anne..." Dawn hissed... "Or Mom will send you back...Before you get your chance..." Anne gave her a brief, dark look, then...To the spirit Dawn's obvious surprise...Gave her a little smile...A relatively non-malicious one...

An-Dru found herself in a small clearing...Just a few feet of space in the overgrown tangle around the oldest memorials...A growl from off to the side...

"You did make him happy...For a little while...Thanks, Dawnie..." An almost gentle smile now...Buffy herself clenching hands a bit...Anne turning to give her a shrugging, noncommital look, spirit Joyce watching and clearly ready to apply discipline...

"Even I'm big enough to be glad Will got something from us at last..." the demon grinned at her twin...

"Hey, baby..." the tall vamp took a young-looking, handsome human face and straightened up from his crouching defensive position...But looking round carefully...Sure I sensed humans a mo or two ago...He moved cautiously towards Anya-Dru... "You're one of us, eh?...What's your name?..."

"Anya..." she smiled at him...As Xander and William broke down the underbrush and a few young trees pushing through to her...

"...Drusilla...Harris..." she finished...

"What's going on here?..." the vamp looked at William...Then the happy meal...Ah, so that's it...Couple of newcomers trying to carve out a nest in my realm...

"Look, this is my place...I'm Lord round here...You and your boyfriend lookin' for a place to crash in this territory, you gotta pay tribute..." he eyed the choice form of currency standing by William...



"He'll do...For a start...If your lady here chooses to be nice to me...Unless you want to offend my 'children'..." he spread arms and several large males and females came out from the tangled growth behind him...

Jesus...Whadid I tell ya?...Morons...Buffy groused...Then nervously blinking... "Where's Joyce?..." she looked to where spirit Dawn had been standing by her... "Dawn?..."

"She's gone to Joyce..." spirit Joyce appeared by her side... "Who's fine for now..."

"If ya consider being 'what's for dinner', fine..." Anne sneered, moving to adult Joyce's other side...Can't help it, Mom...I am what I am...she hastily added with a winsome air...Head tight against her side, arm round her back, swaying slightly...Mommie...

"I love you best, you know..." she looked up earnestly at the sighing Joyce spirit... "Bein' the demon counterpart and all...Any love from me's gotta have extra-special worth..."

"Ummn..." An-Dru shook her head at her would-be intimate acquaintance... "Can't quite see my way to accepting your offer, sir...Being as I'm married to your would-be dinner..."

What?...the vamp stared...

"'Fraid, so mate..." Will nodded... "Welcome to 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner', vampiral version..."

"You're gonna turn him?...And he's come voluntarily...?" the vamp blinked at Xander...

Gee...Wish my wife had been that devoted...he thought...

"Hold that human thought, sir...William!..." the vampiress cried, as she grabbed the male...Walthrop raising and firing a dart gun...Xander hastily chanting Willow's restraining spell at the now raging vamp offspring...

Hey!...Several of the spell-captured minions shook hapless fists... "That's Mike, Lord of all Crestwood..." one short male whined...

All Crestwood?...Will grinned at the group... "The ambitions of the Undead have become modest these days..."

And someday the world...the minion hastily added...As one of his fellows jabbed him...Make our Lord look like a small-timer why don't you?... "Lord of Earth, Hell, and Heaven..." he feebly tried...

Uh-huh...Walthrop nodded... "I think you had it right the first time, lad...Only maybe one quarter of 'all Crestwood' would've been more realistic for your boss..." Sighs from several suggested at least a few of the pride had indeed had thoughts of a similar nature...He gave a quick look back in the direction of where his daughter was...Hopefully...Following instructions and keeping mum and safe...

"The rest of you lot all ok?..." he asked, turning back to them... "Cause amazing as it still sounds to me myself, there is an MD in the house..."

Oh...? Two of the females in the group showed visible interest...One of our own?...A doctor?

Xander opened a video phone similar to Buffy's...Young Wes' image appearing...

"I think we've got 'em Wes...We're starting the first spell...How's things?..."

Yeah...Anya-Dru called hastily... "Are the girls ok?..."

"Just fine and all tucked in their cots, though my office is a shambles..." Wes Jr. smiled at the screen...



"Not bad..." Buffy grudgingly admitted as she surveyed the scene with a professional eye...Xander requesting some info from Wes...Anya-Dru dragging the now unconscious vamp lord off to the side and Xander now pulling out spell implements from a bag... "Didn't know they'd got it down so well..." "Yeah, who needs you..." Anne noted...William watching the group of spell-captured followers carefully for a moment...As several feebly tried to make the usual pronouncements of forthcoming doom...Then looking rather anxiously back...

"It's ok, Will..." Anya-Dru looked to him...The vamp at her feet, Xander beginning to chant from a sheet... "I can watch them, go get Joyce...She's ok..." He nodded and moved off...

"Yeah...She's fine..." spirit Dawn nodded, materializing in front of the others... "Sorry I took off like that...Lil' maternal instinct kickin' in..."

"You'll never have that problem..." Anne gave Buffy a beaming smile...

***

Anne frowned...I don't like this stuff...Woulda stayed in Hell till later if I'd known they were gonna do this kinda weird crap...she complained...While Buffy fidgeted as they and spirits Joyce and Dawn watched Anya-Dru and Xander work, she kneeling beside her unconscious fellow vampire as Xander now watched the minions while occasionally speaking to Wes, Jr....The minions staring...As their beloved sire was subjected to Ba'al knows what unspeakable weirdnesses...

Not that their dear Mike had disliked unspeakable weirdnesses...It's just that he would've preferred...His followers were sure...To have been on the giving rather than receiving end...

"What the hell are you doing to him, you perverts?!..." one male called... "That's our sire!..."

Magics...I hate 'em...Too kinky...A female shivered... "You and me both, kid..." Anne nodded, standing by Buffy...

Well...Not as to kinkiness...she grinned at Buffy...Hell, there's very little left for us to find 'kinky', eh sis?...

"This is gonna be quite a job...If they pull it off..." spirit Dawn noted...Beaming at her Joyce as William led his daughter to the clearing...Young Joyce a bit nonplused to see Aunt An and Uncle Xan standing beside the body of some young-looking guy...Demon-faced minions glaring, some howling, some watching intently from the capture space...One or two even gamely trying the ole "Help! I'm not one of them!..." in human-face...(Don't worry, honey...Anya-Dru patted a slightly worried Xander who gave a brief glance...All vamps, no question...)

Not that she wasn't fully up on the family "side business", despite dear ole Dad's efforts to keep her out...Just some things at times got a trifle bizarre in this line of work...

"All right..."...Anya-Dru rose from the vamp... "So much for the sire anchor..."

"I resent that metaphor for our Lord..." a former female lit major called...Even if his incompetence did drag us all down like lead...she did not say...

"What are they up too?..." Buffy hissed to Dawn...

"It's mass murder..." Anne noted solemnly...

From my...And their...Point of view...

"Sure hope the whole 'family's here..." An-Dru sighed to her Mister... "I would hate to think of any of them coming to alone somewhere..."

"If any are...We'll find them and explain things to them..." he patted her...She nodded...And looked up at William...

My poor William...My victim and the one who kept one of my souls safe, brought Xander to me...



He smiled at her, coming by her side..."Ready, Will?..." she asked...A clearly nervous young Joyce over now as well...

"Dad...This isn't gonna hurt you...?" she looked at her father...

"Not a whit...Trained doctor here, girl...Don't worry..."

"I'm not..." she nodded firmly...Sidling over to Uncle Xan...Watching his wife with equal concern..."Wish Auntie Willow could've been here..." she hissed...

You and me both...he hissed back...Xander?!...An-Dru frowned...As did Will...

"Sorry...I know you'll both be fine...They will, Joyce..." he patted her...Sure, she nodded...

"And Willow is standing by in England...Just in case..." Wes noted from the phone placed by Xander in the best observational spot...Smiling...As the screen split to show an anxious-looking fortyish Willow ...Hey, guys!...she waved...

"What's he up to?..." Buffy stared...As the good doctor bared an arm and pulled a syringe with covered needle from his bag...Anya-Dru uncovering an arm as well...

"It's disgusting..." Anne sulked, turning away...

"They need fresh vampiral blood for the ceremony..." spirit Joyce explained... "From a sire or siress and his or her offspring..."

"But...They just took care of that bozo 'Lord', right...?" Buffy looked to her... "I've seen Willow's adapted soul restoration spell..."

"They're after more than just one here, Buf..." Dawn smiled...As Will carefully drew a few ccs of blood from his arm and moved to An-Dru...

"Ready, girl...?" he eyed her...She looking to Xander...

"Hold my hand, honey?...Ya know I hate needles..." she raised her hand to his, which he took gently as Will rubbed the vein spot with a sterilizing solution and stuck her...

The minions of 'Lord' Mike watching, fascinated... "This some kinda initiation?..." one male called...

"You might say so..." Xander nodded...

"You ok, Dad?...Auntie?..." young Joyce looked at her relatives anxiously...There was an element of risk in this new one, after all...Vampiral circulatory systems having strenuous objection to any blood-withdrawals...Not to mention the chance...Faint but real...Of spell backfire...

"Fine..." Will stood up, a hair wobbly... "And that extra pale look on our Auntie's face is just about her babysitter..."

"Wesley is kinda young..." Ms. Harris nodded, a little shaky...Ok, Alexander, just fine...As she got up...

Xander?...she eyed him...He handed his video phone over... "Wesley?..." she began...

"The girls are fine, Mrs. Harris..." Wes Jr. smiled...

"And we're ready here..." Xander came over...

"Ready!?...For what?!!..." a minion nervously called...The others sensing doom, whimpering...

"Are you people Initiative?... 'Cause the government's got no right to experiment on us!..."



"I've got a lock on the both of you...I can block any backfire and teleport you..." Willow called...Ummn... "Just until I clear any negative stuff...Not that there'll be any..." she added hastily to the anxious Joyce...

"Nobody needs you...Nobody wants you...Guess you should go eat worms..." Anne sang, chuckling at Buffy... Or let them eat you...she noted slyly...

Anne!...Adult Joyce pulled her away...Shocking her slightly...Mommie!!...

Xander pulled up a large book...Will squirted the blood into a large vessel...He and Anya-Dru joined hands as the chant began...Joyce taking her father's free hand as Xander took his wife's...

"Xander, my love!..." An-Dru cried... "This is for you..!"

"Dawn...Buffy..." Will murmured... "I love you, my Cicely..."

"I love you..." Dawn, Anne, Buffy whispered...

***

"But...Where can I go?...My family think I'm dead..." a young brunette stared at William as he sat with her in the clearing...Anya-Dru and Xander talking to several others...Joyce with her arm around one young girl...

"And I'm still a monster..." she sighed... "And it was my other self that..." she buried her head in her hands...

"No...Mary..." Will shook his head... "You're a good woman dealt a hideous blow by Fate...But you're not a monster...No one can fight the demon that takes them...Not me, not Mrs. Harris..."

"As for your family...This can be a great miracle for them...If, with your help, they can accept it..."

"I killed all these people..." Mike sobbed in An's lap... "All these lives ruined..."

"I killed tens of thousands, Michael...Maybe millions if you tally up all of Anya's record as well..." Anya-Dru noted gently... "And my soul...Part of it...Was truly guilty...Took on the role voluntarily...Not like you...And yet, God has forgiven me...Both parts of me...And given us a chance to make amends..."

"I can't..." he sobbed... "I can't face these people...What I've done..."

"Can I go home now?..." Jo, the girl held by Joyce, looked up at her... "I want to see my mom..."

"It's best...If you wait until we can check things out for you..." Joyce told her kindly... "You don't want to frighten her by showing up suddenly...And you have to be sure you can control any urges once we remove the restraining spells...We have people coming to help you...They can speak to your mom and others...Explain things..."

"At least wait until tomorrow, Michael..." An gently stroked the hair of the retired vamp 'lord'... "Things may look different then...And we won't stop you from doing anything you feel is right for you then...I promise..."

Eh...They were better off dead...Anne sulked...Waving a hand...

"They don't seem overjoyed to be back..." Buffy noted to Dawn...Give 'em time, Buf...

"Some will want to stay and live whatever kind of life they can...Others will stake themselves tomorrow...A few may even turn evil voluntarily...But they have a choice at last...Thanks to our guys...And our guy..." she beamed at William...

"Hey, look at this..." one male, about twenty in appearance, noted to a fellow newly soul-restored vamp...He took demon-face...

"How come I can still do this?..." he looked over at Xander...Who'd been talking to a group...Taking names and addresses for his organization to check...



"You've still got the vamp body, Sidney...But we're working on that as well...For now...Just remember you're stronger than you may realize...So watch it around people and breakable things..."

"I still gotta drink blood...?" a thirtyish-looking woman, dyed blonde with a somewhat hard face eyed Xander... "I don't believe this...What kind of crappy 'help' you guys giving out here?..."

I liked bein' that way...I made clowns like you...Crawl...she sneered to him...As Xander sighed...

"Ruth..." she glared... "Sorry, Ms. Abbott...We've done the best we could for you all, William and An here at great personal risk...We'll try to help all of you and reunite you with your families if it can be done...But the main thing was to give you all a chance to have your right to choose back...The choice you make is up to you..."

"They've done...What you've dreamed of doing for years..." Dawn eyed Buffy... "And you could have been a part of it...Still could be..."

It's murder...Anne groused...Oh, the demonity...

***

A Halloween Carol...Part XIV...

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

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

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

Naturally to bone up on Cicely Addams Walthrop (AU version of Cecily) you should look up my Cicelyverse pages, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

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

Part XIV...

2025, 10:23 pm...McGarvey Cemetery, on the Crestwood/New Sunnydale line...

"Sorry I couldn't be there with you all, Joyce..." Willow sighed...

"It was the smartest thing to do, Auntie...If things had gone wrong and Spike and Drusilla were released..." Joyce smiled at the screen of Xander's video phone...

"I guess..." she sighed...Looking over to where Xander was now moving off, a quick wave...Hey, Wil...to her image on the video phone...As he went to talk to another of the soul-restored vamps...

I still think I coulda handled them just as well right there...Willow grinned at her 'niece'...But...

"Rupert made me swear to watch from here...And the Council would've known something was up..."

"Well...After this Chairman Wyndham-Price will have the proof he needs to win the rest over...Even if Aunt Buffy doesn't come along..."

"Lets hope so..." Willow nodded... "I sure like this idea of saving over destroying..."

Hey...Buffy groused...I was always saving...

"The vamps, I mean of course...Buffy and the other Slayers have been saving the victims since the get-go..." the wiccan noted...



"Well, I hope it works out...I'm not sure how these people are gonna make out..." Joyce sighed...

Some of them don't look so happy...

"But they have the choice they lost when this was done to them...And they're no longer in Limbo, watching their bodies being used by their own unrestrained dark natures...That's gotta mean something..." Willow smiled... "I know I sure as heck was glad to be back after your 'uncle' Xan saved me from my dark side..."

And if they want peace...We won't stop them...Whatever happens, the main thing is...They're free to choose their destinies at last...

"Yeah..." Joyce smiled back, nodding...

"Very touching...Pardonnez-moi if I barf..." Anne frowned at Dawn... "You done yet?...Or do we gotta hear a summation from Dawn Walthrop, attorney-at-law...?"

"Thanks for the 'Walthrop'..." Dawn gave a wry smile at her demon... "Though I liked Summers-Walthrop..."

"Very Woman...Even...Semi-lesbian..." Anne glared... "In Cicely's day...Also mine...You'd've been considered a cheap slut, probably seeking to humiliate your husband before your lovers..."

Enough...Spirit Joyce cut in...

"It's ok, Mom..." Dawn grinned... "And I actually am ready to summarize..."

"Buffy..." she smiled... "I've tried to show you that Will and Joyce are still ready to love you...And that I won't hate you...You haven't betrayed me...If you let yourself love them..."

Anne yawned...C'mon, c'mon...

And... "There's a great new work to be done...Vanquishing Evil...Not just barely holding it off...The kind of work you were seeking when you began feeling that Slaying wasn't enough back when Glory...And I...came...Mom went...When you and I began to find out who Spike and William really were...And who we really are...That is, if you can accept a less-than-starring role in it..."

But...To put it in a nutshell, sis...

"I love you...Stop acting like an asshole and start living..." she grinned...

"You through?...Great...Thanks for those lessons to live by..." Anne sneered...

"And now...It's my time..." her green eyes gleamed...

Ummn, right...Mommie?...She gave a somewhat nervous glance...I did wait for Dawny to finish...

"Go ahead, Anne..." spirit Joyce nodded...

Don't worry...Mom and I are hanging...Dawn hissed to Buffy...

***



"Ours isn't the only great love story amongst our little gang, you know sis..." Anne grinned...

2037...Just before dawn...A hospital room...Willow quietly talking with Anya-Dru...An unconscious Xander breathing on a respirator...

"Well...I've had my talk with the girls..." Anya-Dru eyed Willow... "They're naturally each taking different views...Poor An swears she'll never forgive me...But I think when she's thought things over..."

"Anya...We could wait...I could..."

"You can't reverse brain-death, Willow...It's a natural thing and the way of the universe...He's dying as he would have wanted to...Trying to save one more soul..."

Though I don't regret ripping that thing apart...she noted... "I'm glad we did succeed and that poor woman is at peace..."

As I am...she smiled at her friend...

"And now...It's time for us to say goodbye...And for me to say...Thank you...For being my...Anya's and Dru's...Dear friend..."

Even knowing...she smiled wanly...How much I...Anya...And Dru, too, to be honest...

An...Willow put up a hand..."I was jealous of you too...Every once in a while..." she smiled back... "He's a hard love to give up completely..."

"Good thing for you I had my Giles...And for me..." she eyed her friend...Who nodded slowly... Yeah...For both of us...

This isn't right...I woulda come...Buffy insisted...Unless...

"You're still kickin'..." Anne eyed her... "But you couldn't face it...Knowin' you shoulda been there helping him..."

"Be fair, Anne..." spirit Joyce frowned... "Buffy, you did come by earlier...Before they knew it was hopeless..."

"Was it my fault?..."

"No..." Dawn shook her head... "Xander died doing what he wanted to do...Even if you'd been there, you couldn't have saved him..."

But it is a shame you'd slipped so far away from the guys you didn't feel comfortable staying...

"Well...Let me give you a moment alone..." Anya-Dru turned away...Oh...

"I won't be needing this for today..." she held out a amulet...Her daylight protection...

Willow sighed...An...

"Goodbye, Willow..." Anya-Dru patted her hand... "But we will see you again...You know that..."

She handed her the amulet and Willow, taking it, moved to Xander...

"Goodbye, Xander..." she kissed him gently... "Giles and I will keep a watch on your girls and theirs, believe me...And we will see each other again..."

Hell, she grinned at Anya-Dru who grinned back, coming over now... "If I can manage it, I'll see you guys tonight..." "Absolutely...Unless we're...Preoccupied..." Anya-Dru smiled...

"Thank you, An...For being what he deserved...What I couldn't be..." she hugged her... "You, too Dru..." she released her and went to the door...Staring back at them...Smiling through tears...

"Shalom...And safe journey..." she left, gently closing the door...



"Well...Alone at last..." Anya-Dru sighed, pulling out a large plastic bag from her satchel...A bag she opened carefully on the floor by Xander's bed...Stepped into and settled round her... "I know..." she grinned at him, patting his arm... "But what else can I do?...They'll never let the girls vacuum in here..." She knelt by the bed, the bag round her...

"Xander...I know you'll forgive me for not staying with the girls...After all, they're grown now and much as I want to see my grandkids grow up...I've been here, alone, a long, long time...And I just don't want that again...Hell, God owes Dru that much, surely...And we'll watch the kids together...Willow will keep us in touch...It'll be fine..."

"But...I do want you to know...One last time...That we both love you...Not just cause you saved us both...Anya, redeemed, from should have been her just punishment in Hell...And Dru from the eternal horror of helplessly watching her insane demon kill forever...Not out of gratitude..."

Sides, I like to think Anya did earn a little of her redemption on her own...Choosing to give up the business that second time...Though it was loving you that made me human again...

"But that's only what you always told me anyway... 'An, you did it on your own'...Though you're wrong not to take credit, I'm proud to know you believe that...I do worry though, regards Dru...That maybe...Even now...You think she was just grateful...Lonely...And lost..."

All of which...she grinned...I sure was...But when I saw you come for me that night...Alone... Nothing but love...Even for poor ole Dru...in your heart to protect you...

"And of course, the entire Scooby gang, Greatest Slayer of All Time, and the AI team at your back..." she smiled... "But I coulda nailed you long before they showed..."

Not even William Walthrop could match Alexander L. Harris for gentlemanly nobility...How could poor human Drusilla help but fall for you?...

"But you know that...Hell, remember the time just after you asked me to marry you again?...And we went to that hotel in LA...And I...An...Started pretending to be your mistress in the elevator?...Demanding the pearl necklace my lover'd promised me..."...Which I got right here...she fingered the necklace with a grin ... "Or I'd tell your 'wife' about us...And then I...Dru...Gave you that winsome look and said... 'It really is cruel of you, sir, taking such advantages of a poor girl...Me goin' to be a nun and all'.. The look on your face..."

"I didn't really need three years of your courtin'...Dru just enjoyed it so...I'd never had a boyfriend, you see...But it only confirmed things that were settled that first night, you being willing to wait until I'd adjusted to the world and had a chance to decide what I wanted..."

"It's true...I did want to be a bride of Christ back when I died..." she paused, a wry smile forming... "But I decided...After meeting you...to trade up..."

"Braver than Buffy...Cause you never had the supernatural strength...More compassionate than Willow...And even William couldn't match you for love..." she grinned... "We...Anya-Drusilla...Have the best of the lot, my darling...Which we've always known..."

Ah...She smiled as a sliver of silver gold appeared over the hills... "There she is..." she looked back at Xander...Pulling the bag a bit closer to the bed, she put her arm under his head gently...

"You know we never miss a sunrise now..." she whispered... "And we won't miss this one, my love..."

God...She grinned, looking down at the bag...I sure hope the girls don't screw up and switch bags on us...

"I know you'd love that...They open your cremation jar to add me before scattering us and all they've got is a sack of coffee grounds, orange rinds, and banana peels..."

Ouch...she noted a slight burning sensation... "Guess it's time to go, honey..." she eyed the respirator and put her hand around the power cord...Looking back at his face...She crossed herself...



"Lord...Remember you owe Drusilla big time...Well, sorry to put that on you but we're not sparing anything that might clear things right now..."

"Forgive Anya...Judge me not for my weakness but for my love...And open the gates of Heaven for my Alexander and me..." She ripped out the power cord with a burning arm and the respirator alarm sounded...

As did the smoke detector...

God, what a dope...Anne sneered as they watched...Joyce, Dawn, and Buffy turning away from the burning Anya-Dru...

"She shoulda just sunk 'em and turned him...That's the benefit of a human soul for ya..."

"Anne, shut up..." Dawn glared at her...Tears running...

Why...? Anne glared back... "You clowns cry...Aw...Hell..." she sighed...

"I'm the one who'll never see my Xander again..." she looked away...Biting a lip...Joyce putting a hand on her arm...

***

2041...Downtown New Sunnydale...Halloween evening...About 7pm...

"It's really very kind of you to do this, Madam Chairman...And you, sir..." a nervous-looking young girl of about sixteen eyed Chairman of the Royal Council of Librarians and Library Scientists, Anya Drusilla Harris, Jr....And her husband the renowned Watcher-scholar Wesley Wyndham-Price, Jr.

"Glad to sweetheart..." Anya smiled... "It's always a treat to see the old place...Eh, Wes?..."

Indeed...he beamed...

"Ok...So am I dead?...Or stuck in a home somewhere?..." Buffy asked...

"For me to know...And you to find out, kiddo..." Anne grinned...Eyeing Dawn and Joyce...I let Dawn do it her way, she noted...Spirit Joyce nodding... "Up to a point, Anne...Don't cross it..."

"I just hope I'm ready for this..." the young woman sighed...

"No Slayer's ever 'ready', my girl..." Wes Jr. smiled... "But when the time comes...You'll find the strength waiting for you..."

And here's our Michael and Ruth...Chairman Harris noted...As former vamp 'lord' Mike and the rather softer now-faced Ruth, reverted to brunette...Approached...Nodding to the Chairman...

"Dr. Walthrop here yet?..." Ruth asked...Looking round...

"Not yet...But he should be by soon..." Wes paused... "He's a bit slower these days, I'm afraid..."

"God, you're a young one..." the vampiress eyed the new Slayer... "You think you can handle this, kid?..." she asked, a hard tone, but with sympathy underneath...

"Guess I'll have to try..." the girl sighed...

"No...You'll have to do it..." Mike shook his head... "Be sure of that or else we'd better find another of the Slayers for this territory...Your life and many trapped souls depend on your handling this, Miss..."

William came into view, walking, a bit less spring in his step...Looking...Broken, somehow...But gave the new Slayer a careful once-over as he came up...



"Abigail, right?..."

"Sinclair, yes..." Abby nodded... "Most folks call me Abby..."

"Abby the Vampire Slayer..." he smiled...Looking at Wes and An... "Well, Abby...I hope you know you've been given a great responsibility in being assigned to defend this county...The old territory of Buffy Summers...Greatest of the Slayers..."

"Some say she was better as Cicely Addams..." Abby grinned...

So I'm dead...Buffy sighed...

"How is Buffy doing these days...?" Wes Jr asked...Will shrugging... "She never says when I call...Just asks about me and Joyce and then remembers...Apologizes and hangs up..."

Oh...Buffy stared...A little relieved, obviously...Then it's...

"Nursing home...A real 'nice' place.." Anne sarcastically grinned... "But you're well on your way to senility so it wouldn't really matter..."

Senility?...I'm only what?...Fifty-...Buffy began...

"Sixty...C'mon Buf...Mom and Dawn know when you were born..." Anne smiled...

Alzheimer's?...Buffy looked at Joyce and Dawn...Who eyed each other...

Ummn...

"Or is Anne just pulling my leg...?"

"Dementia, I shoulda said...One of the many blessings of your delayed onset-CJD...Delayed thanks to your Slayer metabolism keepin' all those prions at bay and in normal configuration...Until you got a leetle too old to hold 'em in proper shape..."

Gift from Dracula, by the way...Anne chuckled...

"Ya really should've demanded blood tests from those vamps before letting them bite ya, Buf...At least the ones who'd spent time in Europe in the 80's..."

"William did try..." the demon noted... "He even got you sneaked into an experimental gene therapy protocol...But...The damage was done...All the treatment could do was slow it down..."

"Between that and what's left of your Slayerness...You'll probably drag on for another twenty or thirty years...And those holes in your brain are probably a benefit...Not remembering big chunks of your life isn't always so bad..."

Though the violent tremors and such can be a pain...Anne chuckled...

"Anne..." Dawn glared... "It's not so bad, Buffy...Medication keeps you in pretty good shape...And Will's seen that you got neural grafts to repair as much damage as possible..."

"Can't replace what's been rotted away though..." a vicious grin...

Anne...Joyce frowned...

"So..." William eyed Abby... "You ready...?"

"We've been torturing her with that one for the last fifteen minutes, doc..." Mike smiled..."But I get the impression the kid is ready..." he gave her a kind beam...



"Right, then...Lets get you two prepped and the ceremony under way..." Walthrop nodded to the two souled vamps...Sire and offspring...

"Abby...Sharp eye, keen ear..." he glanced at her...She nodded...As the Chairman and her husband took up observational positions...

Joyce...?...Buffy eyed Anne and Dawn...

"Hey, Auntie..." a smiling twentiesish Joyce appeared... "Mom..." she hugged Dawn...Baby...Dawn sighed, stroking her hair... "Gran..." she reached out to old Joyce...

"See how great it is to be dead, Buf..." Anne noted solemnly... "Lots better than hangin' round this vale of tears..."

"That Anne?..." Joyce looked at her namesake, who nodded...

"Joyce...How?..." Buffy stared at her...

"Car accident, Auntie...'Bout five years ago...Oh, where's Dad...?"

Over there, baby...Dawn pointed...Helpin' the new Slayer...Oh...Joyce sighed...

"Poor Dad...Mom, he looks awful..."

"Doin' his duty...As our Will always did...For love of us..." Anne stared at him...

And for love of us...He'll be here...Until he feels he's no longer needed...

"Until I go, right?..." Buffy asked...

"You?...You 'don't need nobody', remember sis?...You're 'the Law'..." Anne sneered...

"He'll suffer along here...Watching all those he loves die...Until the End...Of the World...Just like he promised us...Once...Remember?..."

Or have those holes already started to eat away...?

"But...Dawn...You said..."

"Things are different now, Buf...He might've gone with me...Or with you...But he knows the work is vital...That many people are depending on him now to restore their loved ones...And soon he'll be the only one who can properly work the spell when Willow's gone...And teach it to others..."

He can't stay here...Alone...Forever...Buffy stared...

"A man like our Will can... 'Eternity is Ours', remember that...Cicely?..." Anne smiled...

"The inscription we put on our wedding rings...In 1880...And that he lived up to...After a few decade of trouble with Spike..."

He'll stay...Because he knows it's his duty...And to be the sort of man worthy to be with us...With you...Someday...

"In umpteen hundred thousand...Million...Years..."

We'll keep in touch with him, Auntie...young Joyce insisted...We'll reach him somehow...

"Yeah, right..." Anne sneered... "He'll get a brief, static-filled...Hi...Every few decades by seance..."

Dawn was silent, staring at Buffy...Dawn?...



"'Fraid Anne's got it right, kiddo...He will stay...Alone..."

"Ironic, isn't it...?" Anne noted... "He died for love...And Love has never forgiven him for it..." A tear suddenly ran down her cheek...Buffy staring...

"You promised me...Time alone..." she looked at old Joyce and Dawn...Joyce sighed...Turning to Buffy...

"Honey...We have to go now...Anne is entitled to speak to you on her own...My promise, I'm afraid...But remember...Anything you hear from her you weigh carefully...And decide what's best for you...Regardless..."

Mom?...Buffy blinked...No...Stay...

"Dawny...Don't go..."

"We'll be with you...Always, kiddo..." Dawn grinned as she, Joyce, and young Joyce started to fade...

"You can't get away from me...I'm part of you...Cicely...Bye sis..." the three faded...

"Bye Auntie...Honey, Dad and I love you..." the others called...

"Well..." Anne grinned... "Now all the children are in bed...And we can talk..." A white mist obscured the vision of future New Sunnydale as William and the others faded from view as well...

***

A Halloween Carol...Part XV...Conclusion...

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

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

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

Naturally to bone up on Cicely Addams Walthrop (AU version of Cecily) you should look up my Cicelyverse pages, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

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

Part XV...



"Dawny's been a bit of a bore, really...Guess 'cause she's so much our better half...All the heart went into her..." Anne noted to Buffy as they floated in what appeared to be white mist...

But I've always enjoyed watching you, sis...You squirm your way through life even better than our Cicely did...she chuckled...

"Oh, you're brave enough...And you can love a little...But there's so much of me in you, Buf...How can I help but love you, sis..."

Buffy glared...

"Are you gonna deny it...?" Anne smiled...

"Well, then...Tell me, sis...How many Slayers before Willow's 'Great Awakening' put their loved ones in peril after learning their calling...?..."

Mom and Dawn could've been turned at any moment...Even Angelus, pathetic a baddie as he was, might've pulled it off in time...

"Lotta time..."

And still you kept them round you...And those idiot friends...Willow, Xander, poor ole Tara...

"Though Willow and Xander turned out to be a lot tougher and stronger than you ever gave them credit for...Stronger and tougher than you in the end, kid..."

And when love came back to you...When you had the chance to do what Cicely and I gambled everything on...When William fought Spike back...

"Sure..." Anne waved a hand... "The Slayer couldn't take chances...But you could've reached out to him...Told him there was hope...That you'd try...Even if you thought you couldn't risk loving him...And when he won that damned soul back...Not so much back, really, as back to control..."

You told him...

"I know what I told him, Anne..." Buffy said coldly... "And I've hated myself for it...You know that..."

I hate the Slayer...I always did...As Cicely...And as Buffy...

"But it was the Fate I was given...I can't change that..."

"I'm a demon, Buf...Like Spike...And your demon...But I was able to love that moronic little poet...So much that I was willing to help Cicely fight her way back to him...Dawn may have been the noble side of our heart...But I was the insane side...The side that drove Cicely to abandon Slaying and Duty...And drove you to love a maniac...Believe in him...Even if you couldn't tell him until it was too late to save him..."

I don't believe in Fate, sis...And you are no poster girl for Duty and Morality...

"Ready enough to feel joy when you heard our Dawnie was dead...And William was free again..." Anne grinned... "Remember...?"

"Though you never had the guts to fight for him, Buffy...You were scared your friends...And Dawn...Would hate you if you tried with her dead..."

Can't hide your dirty little secrets from me, sis...she chuckled...

"Being Buffy...The Law...The Slayer of Slayers...Naturally you repressed that one, big time...And let him go...Never even tried to see poor Joycee...Shoving her away whenever she and Will tried to look you up..."

"No, you never had the guts...Cicely...And you don't deserve him..."

But the universe doesn't allow demons to live and be loved separate from their counterpart souls...she sighed...So I've had to buck you up all these years...Pathetic as you are...

"Thank God for the monks...At least they gave us our daughter back...And Will a few years of happiness...Via Dawnie..."

"And this is all selfless love for Will...?" Buffy eyed Anne...

"Oh, no...Buf?...You of all people must know I never do anything not in my own interest...In fact, sis, I don't give and never have given a damn for your lil' multilobed soul...Why should I?...Far as I'm concerned, you've screwed it...If the situation allowed I'd leave you to rot all by your lonesome and just be marking time until you croak and we remerge and a new version of us can be forced back into another little pink bundle of flesh and try all over again..."



But...Sadly...Anne sighed... "That ain't likely happen for a while yet as Dawnie told you...And I can't let you make things worse for us with William...Make him think he's to blame for you...And force himself away from us...Forever..."

"He and I fit, sis...From the first moment Cicely brought him in my sights...I knew...We...Fit..."

Spike...Buffy eyed her...

No...Anne shook her head firmly...William...

"Sis...Remember how it felt...When you let him near...I don't mean the sex, great as that was...You know what I mean...You still feel it...And it's killing you..."

Well, sis...Anne smiled... "That's the tiniest fraction of what it is for me...He complements me...He is part of me and what I feel for him...What I choose to call love...Is the one good...The one Immortal part of me...The one part that will survive whatever happens to me in the end..."

"See you think...Judgment Day...Ole Annie, my dark half and me separate...And off she goes to burn in Hell?...The "Evil" purged?...Noble me...Or noble we...You, Dawn, Cicely..."

No...Oh, no...Anne shook her head...God, much as it may surprise you...Is not quite that cruel...And Evil is not that simple...

"I am what I am...But I am you...And in Eternity...When all is said and done...You will have to learn to live with me..."

Most of me, that is...The murderous vamp blood-lust and all does get dropped at some point...

But I am you...The dirty little side you don't want anyone to see...But who peeks out no matter what you do...And the secret truth of Eternity is, hon...You gotta learn to accept me as you...

"It's not all bad, you know...The love is there too...The love you fear so much to give..."

No...Anne lifted her head proudly...I'm not all bad...I'm the part of us whom Dawnie's courageous heart sprang from...The one who pushed Cicely to take William when all her dutiful instincts screamed no...The one who made you spare him and come to love him...Again...

Buffy frowned...

"Ok, fine..." she waved a hand... "This is all a plot, I'm working with the First who's using the tiny bit of energy she's recovered in the last 22 years to manifest as Dad, Mom, and Dawn to trick you into letting me take over..." Anne waved a hand... "Believe whatever you want, sis...But answer me this...Do you think for a moment that William...Our William...Would let me wander around Earth in our form for any length of time before doing whatever he had to to stop me?...And if we were all lying...Willow's safe in England and will join him to help as soon as she gets word..."

"So in the end, what does it matter who came to you tonight?...Mom, Dad, and Dawnie or our ghostly evil imitator...and me...The question is...Sis...Do you believe in William and in what we feel for him?...Enough...To take the gamble you've never quite been willing to take at last?..."

Is there a fool for love in you Cicely?...Or are you really just 'the Slayer' in the final analysis...?

Buffy eyed her twin...

***



New Sunnydale...Hopewell Cemetery...

Halloween...2025...4:30 am...

"Hey, nancy-boy..." Buffy called into her video-phone, startling Wes Jr. as he wrote his report on her previous Patrol... "Miss Summers?..."

"It's 4:30 am...You've gone out again?..." he eyed her face on the screen...

"I think I've told you enough times, little Wes...I go when and where I choose..." she told him...

He scanned the tracking data coming in from her video phone...

"You're at Hopewell Cemetery now...What is going on?...Has something new surfaced?..." Something I missed?...he sighed to himself...That no doubt you'll ride me with for the rest of the year...

"I got a feeling..." she noted, a slightly mysterious air..."Well, time to earn my keep...And yours..."

A large vamp, male, emerged from behind one of the large mausoleums...Whoops...He eyed his doom...

"Slayer!...Mercy on me!...I've killed no one!...Yet..." he fell to knees babbling in terror...

God...she glared...The kind that rises these days...In Spike's day...she noted to herself...Poor ole Spike, God grant him peace...And a chance to know I love him as part of William...And for bringing my Will back to me...

"Get up, you clown..." she prodded him...He rose nervously...

"Ok, what's going on here?..." she gave him a hard stare...Looking round...

"Going on here, Slayer?...I..." he stared back... "I..."

"Oh, my God!..." she suddenly shrieked...Throwing...er dropping her video phone and somehow, accidentally, crushing the monitor under foot...

The vamp looking round in terror... "Slayer?!...What's going on?!...Don't leave me!..."

Shut up...she hissed...And stared... 'Don't leave me'...?...Jesus...What a little putz...

"Wes, Wes?!..." she scooped up the phone... "Miss Summers?!...What's happening?..."

May as well make it a good exit...she smiled at the phone...

"They're all around me, Wes...Can you see them?...I've never seen so many at once...It must be the First leading them..."

"I've lost the image...I'm calling for reinforcement, Miss Summers...Get out of there as quick as you can!..."

"There's too many...I can't...Tell Xander...I'm sorry about this mornin'...I left something I meant to give him at my place...Tell the guys...Tell William...I...We...Love him...And them...Always..."

Huh...?...the vamp still looking round...

She's taking her time about this...Wes thought...And when the hell has Buffy Summers ever panicked like this?...I mean since her first year out...Hmmn...

"And tell William...Destroy me if they get me...Or...If he should be able to get Willow to help out..." she paused... "Maybe he could..."

Hmmn...Even Wes Jr. is likely to catch on if I keep this up...she thought...

"AHHHHH!!!!..." a high-pitched scream...Wes, Jr. stared at the speakers...



The vamp jumped back, rolling his eyes in fear...The Slayer can sense things no one else can, after all...And if she says...

She smashed the video phone under her heel...And smiling, strolled over to the vamp...

"Well, kid...This is your lucky day...If you can keep your end up, you'll be the Vamp for the next decade or two...Maybe the next century..."

Huh?...The vamp stared...

"Don't be afraid...No one's gonna hurt you tonight...You're gonna be fine..."

"In fact you're about to be famous...Just make sure you get outta town before my friends..." she paused... "And my love...Come to save me...As they always do..."

"Here's the deal..." she smiled kindly...

***

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