W&D Banner

Wishing Changes Everything: Consequences

by Declan
Rating: PG-13

+1=2+

Consequences (PART 1: Things Fall Apart)

“Aaaarrrgh!” Angel cried out as he flopped back against the sofa, his hands curling into fists, his face strained and damp with sweat as droplets of blood splattered against his bare chest.

By the fireplace, half turned away and peeping out from behind one curled fist, Buffy cringed in sympathy. She couldn’t even watch this, never mind help out. Listening to all it was bad enough and it seemed to be going on forever.

She warily peeked over her knuckles to see Faith sitting up on the couch and twirling a blood-stained knife. “Please tell me that was the last one?”

Faith looked over at her, smirking. “Yep, got all five out, no sweat. It’s kinda like ‘Operation’, only with more fluids and stuff.” She leaned over and dropped the last bullet into the dish that was on the table.

“Were you really bad at ‘Operation’?” Angel asked in a sour tone as he glanced down at his chest, taking in the bloody mess that was his torso.

“Aw, quit whining, you’ll heal. You were the one that didn’t wanna go digging around inside yourself for all the caps this guy popped in your ass.” She smiled sweetly as Buffy came over, “Anyway, here comes B with the TLC.” Faith chuckled at her rhyme-iness and scooted backwards. Then Buffy sat down with the box of tape and bandages.

“Your first aid box is kinda limited.” She shrugged apologetically as turned to Angel and reached out with some cotton wool to dab at and clean up his chest. He winced a little but gave Buffy a small, stoic smile, encouraging her to keep on going.

Buffy felt Faith lean against her back and put her chin on Buffy’s shoulder. “So, come clean big guy. In your dreams are me an’ B wearing like skimpy nurse’s outfits while we do this, or are we just naked?”

Buffy felt herself redden. “Faith!” She hissed.

“In my dream there’s a lot less pain and blood and stabbing knives.” Angel replied wryly, before adding softly, “...and maybe the outfits.” He gave a helpless shrug to Buffy, “Hey, I’m the one who got shot here.”

Faith gave a short husky laugh while Buffy just shook her head as she finished cleaning the last of the bullet holes. “You shouldn’t give her any encouragement. Faith’s like a puppy, she needs discipline.”

Ignoring the puppy comparison Faith’s voice seemed to perk up with interest. “Discipline? Hey, now you’re talkin’.”

Buffy sniffed at the other slayer. “I mean like a rolled up newspaper across the nose, not paddles and stuff.” Buffy couldn’t believe she was actually having this conversation. Angel just sat there, smiling slightly in bemusement. At least he didn’t seem to be as embarrassed like she was.

“Ooh, paddles? Think yer lettin’ the cat outta the bag there, B.” Faith sighed wistfully, “Always the good girls that surprise you.”

Angel sat up and gently pushed Buffy’s hands away from his chest. “I think I’ll be okay now. The bleedings stopped.” He reached over a grabbed a nearby fresh shirt.

Buffy frowned down at the box. “But, I have bandages...”

Angel chuckled softly as he carefully pulled on the shirt. “Really Buffy, I’m feeling a lot better. In fact...” He looked away as his smile faltered a little, “We should probably talk...I’m thinking about leaving.”

Buffy tensed up, and felt it when Faith did the same. She raised her eyebrows and tried to sound casual. “Oh, leaving?”

Angel looked at her sombrely and nodded. “With the Mayor out of the picture, and two slayers guarding the Hellmouth...I’m not needed here.”

“Listen, I’m gonna just...” Faith mumbled softly before quickly getting up and walking out into the gardens, leaving the two of them alone.

Buffy watched her go before turning back to Angel. “When?” Buffy asked quietly.

“Tomorrow.” Angel said firmly, “There’s a place in L.A I can stay until I think of somewhere more permanent.”

Buffy looked down at her hands as she tried to form an encouraging smile. “Oh, well that’s great! Uh, well not great in the sense that...”

“Buffy.” Angel interrupted and took her hands, “Just listen.” He seemed to frown as he considered his next words, “I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, some way to tell you what I...” He paused, “About leaving you with something that isn’t going to make you feel guilty for moving on to someone new. You know I love you, I’ve never loved anyone the way...” He paused again as he looked into her eyes, “But you’re more than that to me. You always have been. In all the years that I’ve existed I’ve never known if what happened to me ever mattered, or if I just existed to be punished, to suffer.” Angel smiled softly at her in that way he had that always made her melt slightly. “You gave me a reason, a purpose. Something to fight for. And that’s something of yours that will always be with me, wherever I go.”

Buffy didn’t know what to say. “Oh.” She said quietly. ‘Yep, I’m a genius. An eloquent genius.’

Angel glanced through the French windows into the garden where Faith was trying so hard not to notice or listen or even care about what the two of them were saying. The brunette paced back and forth, swinging her arms slightly, looking up into the night sky.

Angel shook his head slightly. “I like Faith. I should be jealous...I am jealous, but I still like her.” He turned back to Buffy, “I hope she makes you happy.”

Buffy swallowed and found her voice. “Angel, you don’t have to be all noble, okay. I know this...that none of this is fair.”

“Buffy. I should’ve died over two hundred years ago in a drunken bar brawl, I wasn’t a good guy back then. Instead I’ve gotten to see and do many things; and some of those things weren’t even horribly evil.” Angel shook his head and stood up, Buffy stood up with him, “I’ve had no right to complain about fair from the moment I first met you.” He brushed some hair behind her ear, Buffy shivered a little at his touch as his hands cupped her shoulders. “Goodbye Buffy.”

He leaned in and kissed her forehead, it was a platonic kiss, a nice, sweet goodbye kiss. But it still hurt, but it was a dull ache, not as bad as the time before.

Buffy wondered, not for the first time, if she’d ever truly be over Angel. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe she didn’t really want to be, to say goodbye to those possibilities and the feelings that came with them.

Maybe she could just put all those feelings away in a box somewhere, unused but still intact, protected in case one day she ever wanted to dust them off and...

“Hey.” Faith spoke up, her voice subdued.

Buffy opened her eyes as Angel pulled away, turning to look at the other slayer. “Goodbye Faith.” Then he turned and walked over to the fireplace, picking up the ruins of his tattered shirt as he did so, and threw the remains into the flickering blaze.

Buffy turned to Faith. “Hey.” She walked over and took the other girl's hand, without saying a word and without looking back she led Faith outside into the gardens. They were both silent as they headed up the outside stairs and back out into Sunnydale, Buffy squeezed Faith’s hand comfortingly.

After walking along the street a little while Faith spoke up. “So,” she said slowly, “That was probably a barrel o’ laughs, huh?”

“Well, it wasn’t ‘plucking out bullets’ fun, but...” Buffy shrugged, “I guess it had to be done.”

Faith’s voice was unreadable. “You guess?”

Buffy smiled at that. “Yes, Faith. Like a trip to the dentist. Necessary but unpleasant, it has to be done.”

“Right.” Faith shrugged uncomfortably, trying so hard to be casual, “So, uh, where’s he gonna go?”

“He wasn’t specific and I didn’t ask. All he said was...he told me what I meant to him, and that he’ll always care about me.” Buffy shook her head, “Difficult stuff.”

“I get that.” Faith nodded in understanding, “Kind of a long night, y’know. What with that demon guy and then Finch and then Trick and the Mayor. Now with this, you must be pretty wiped.” Buffy heard another edge to Faith’s voice, sometimes the other girl wasn’t hard to read at all.

Buffy sighed in mock exasperation. “Yeah, I know. And now I have to go back to the library and have a long debrief with Giles. He mentioned something about a power vacuum or power sucking...to be honest I wasn’t really listening.” Buffy stopped and turned to Faith, “Look, why don’t you go on home, okay?”

“...Yeah, okay.” Faith gave a weak smile. “Good luck with Giles or whatever.” She turned to go, but Buffy kept a tight hold of her hands.

Buffy gave her an innocent look. “Wait, aren’t you going to ask me what I want?”

Faith frowned. “What you...want? Did I miss somethin’?”

Buffy sighed playfully. “What I want in my overnight bag. Remember? Rustic Inn, Willow coverage, all our sexy, illicit happenings? Is this ringing any kind of bell?”

“But...you, I thought you just said..?” Faith stopped and rolled her eyes as she smirked, “Right. You were playing with me.”

Buffy giggled as she slid her arms up around Faith’s neck. “Little bit.” She looked into the other girl’s eyes, “You don’t have to dance around anything Faith, if something’s on your mind, just tell me, okay? And, for the record, the thing that kept me going through all of this was the thought of being with you tonight, and tomorrow, and possibly tomorrow night as well if I can manage it.”

She leaned forward and pressed her lips against Faith’s lips, revelling in their soft lushness as her tongue stroked across the other slayer’s bottom lip, mouths melding against each other and Buffy’s breath became more rapid. Teasingly she slid her hands down Faith’s jacket and around her waist to cup her firm backside, fondling her ass through leather pants.

Faith gasped into Buffy’s mouth as the blonde girl pulled back slightly, smiling. “See? You’re getting me all excited.”

“Yeah?” Faith drawled as she nuzzled Buffy, “Then how about blowing Giles off?”

Buffy sighed wistfully. “I can’t. He’s expecting me, and if I don’t show he might get his worried Watcher- face on and ring my Mom. Badness will surely follow.”

Faith thought about this before nodding, with some effort she seemed to reign herself in and relax her hold on Buffy.

Buffy gently kissed the side of the other girl’s neck and murmured. “Look at the upside, you’ll get to decide what to pack for the sleepover, so.” Her kisses led up to Faith’s ear as she put on her best sexy voice, “You get to pick what panties you want me to wear tonight, or not.”

“Damn, B.” Faith groaned huskily and Buffy felt her shiver with desire, “Here I was thinkin’ you were a good girl.”

Buffy pulled away with a smile. “I’m full of surprises.”

Faith laughed. “I’m getting that.”

Buffy gave her a longing look as she took another step backwards, still holding onto Faith’s hands. “I’ll be as quick as I can, okay. And we’ll meet up later, just leave your cabin lights on and I’ll find you.”

Faith nodded happily. “Got it.”

“Ooh and snacks!” Buffy remembered, “Get snacks from...from a gas station, or a machine or something. We’ll probably want to eat later, after...stuff.”

Faith nodded and made a shooing motion. “Get goin’, okay. And hurry up.” Then Faith turned and headed for home.

Buffy watched her go; thinking about the night ahead was making her feel better already, it felt like tonight had been a rollercoaster, exciting, terrifying, wonderful and then sad. And Buffy reckoned Faith had been a big part of that. Dating her would never be dull. The other girl always managed to stir things inside Buffy, not just the slaying side of her, her calling, but also about the way Buffy saw things, her friends, her life, her future.

Twirling on her heels Buffy made her way towards the school, trying unsuccessful to quash her excitement so she could be all serious with Giles. Whatever he had to say, they would deal with.

*****

Buffy quietly made her way across the school parking lot, she could see a few dim lights on in the library and the big campus clock was reading a quarter after one. Buffy calculated a fifteen minute talk with Giles, then about a half hour at slayer speed to get to the cabin. That meant it would be about two o’clock at the earliest for Faith-kissing.

Sigh, being responsible sucked.

“Buffy Summers.”

Buffy turned at the sound of her name and was surprised to see Mr. Platt, standing between two of the cars in the faculty lot. He smiled hesitantly and walked over.

Platt gave her a friendly smile. “Buffy, you realise there’s no school on Sunday, plus it's night-time.”

“Oh. Mr. Platt, hi there.” Buffy’s mind blanked for a moment, what were the chances of running into anybody at this time of night, “I, uh, needed- need something from my locker.”

He was a little sceptical and raised an eyebrow. “And it couldn’t wait till the morning? Sure you’re not doing something unwise like breaking into the chemistry lab to huff fumes.”

Despite herself Buffy smiled. “Huff fumes?”

He shrugged. “Well, that’s what they did in my day. Just as long as you aren’t up to anything shady. No returning to form, you here?”

Buffy nodded uncomfortably, maybe he had heard about her cutting class the other day. Still, she’d given up the whole starting fights thing. That was something...personal growth or whatever.

Suddenly she looked him over, not seeing a briefcase. “Well, I-I could ask you the same. So what is a school councillor doing out so late, huh?”

Platt gave a long-suffering smile gestured casually back to one of the cars. “Oh, it’s just some emergency prep work for a returning student. She’s coming back on Monday. Actually you might know her, Debbie?”

“Debbie? Yeah, I...I heard what happened with her boyfriend. It’s great that she’s coming back after every...” Buffy blinked a couple of times as her vision suddenly seemed to swim. She took a couple of steps to the side and put a hand out to lean against a car.

‘What the hell...this again? This is getting really... old.’

Platt took a step towards her. “Are you alright? You don’t look well. I was actually kidding about the whole fumes thing. “

Buffy shook her head, the dizziness was coming in waves now, fuzzy blackness crawling at the edges of her vision. Her stomach clenched and unclenched as she fought for balance, her legs felt rubbery and unsteady. Then, to her alarm, she felt a slight, familiar tingling at the bottom of her spine.

‘What the..? Oh, no...’

“To be honest Buffy, I was really proud of how you turned yourself around, what with your grades, cutting class and all those terrible, violent impulses. But it seems it’s all going to be for nothing. You see, you're going to run off again.” Platt’s face turned demonic, teeth growing into fangs and forehead twisting, “You’re going to disappear and no one’s going to see you, ever again.”

Platt gleefully slammed a fist straight into Buffy’s face, knocking her back over the front of the car. Buffy grunted in pain as she slid across slick metal and fell to the ground on the other side. Her head spun and her lip stung from the hit and her mouth was filled with the slight metallic taste of blood. Buffy managed to pull herself to her knees, pushing off the side of the car with one hand as she fought against climbing vertigo. Then Platt...the demon, kicked her hard in the side, the impact knocking any breathe from her chest, before grabbing her around the neck and hauled her up to her feet.

Platt grinned in delight as he squeezed her neck. “You’ll be the second delinquent I’ve had tonight...well; you can never just have one.”

Buffy cried out as his grip tightened, she felt his dead breath against her as his face closed against her neck.

Desperately she flung out an elbow that caught Platt under his chin, knocking his head back and loosening his grip enough for her to wrestle free. She leaned against the car and kicked out, hard. Striking the former councillor in the ribs and knocking him backwards on to his haunches.

Platt cracked her jaw and smiled. “Huh, so you’ve got some fight in you. Always knew you’d be feisty.”

Buffy glared at him even as her world was spinning. “You have no idea.” She concentrated and tried to blink away the red spots that danced behind her eyes.

Platt didn’t wait, he rushed her as her eyes became unfocused, but Buffy was still ready. She caught his outstretched arm and used his momentum to swing him past her, smashing him into the passenger window. The tinkling of glass was loud in the deserted parking lot.

Roaring in pain Platt lashed back and caught Buffy hard across the face, throwing her off balance so she had to roll backwards and came up on one shoulder. Platt rushed again, lashing out with a strong kick which Buffy caught and flung off to knock him away form her.

Buffy came up at him in a rush, punching him hard again and again as her managed to drive him back, but her dizziness made her sloppy; Platt dodged a clumsy right cross, grabbed her arm and rammed her hard against the car, her chest crushed painfully against the damaged car door.

Platt twisted Buffy’s arm painfully up and behind her back; her shoulder throbbed in sharp pain as he seemed to want to try and wrench it free of her. Buffy felt the pain of screaming tendons and grinding bone cut through her dizziness, adrenaline kicking feeling back into her legs as she threw her foot back and up into his crotch. Platt grunted and his grip loosened so Buffy twisted around to face him.

Teeth gritted with determination Buffy slammed her head into Platt’s face, then twisting her arm so she firmly gripped his wrist. Buffy ducked low and braced herself before diving back into the car through the open, broken window, landing in the front seat covered in chunks of broken glass. Platt was slammed forward bodily against the car, Buffy’s legs were braced against the inside of the car door and her grip on his arm kept him pinned in place. Platt snarled in frustration as he tried to twist himself free.

Buffy frantically looked around the car’s interior, searching for any sort of weapon, something sharp to cut off this things head or...

Above her, tucked away under the sun visor, was a pencil. Blunt at one end and with an eraser at the other. It wasn’t much, but it was enough. Buffy heaved on Platt’s arm again, feeling something crack and give in his arm as he screamed in rage and pain. She reached up, snagged the pencil with her right hand, gripped in tightly in between her knuckles, before curling herself up and forward and punching Platt full on in the chest.

Platt froze, staggered back clutching his chest, before giving Buffy one last desperate look and disintegrating. But as he did so, the dust from his form seemed to coalesce in the air for a moment, grey dust swirling into a black cloud. Within the cloud two dark amber eyes appeared and looked straight at Buffy, seemingly through her. Buffy felt a chill down her spine as the eyes seemed to bore into her, she became aware of a smell catching in her throat, the same subtle, exotic aroma from the hospital just before...

Then, in an instant, the eyes were gone; the form was lost as the vampire dust was blown across the lot by a warm breeze.

‘What the frigging hell just happened!’

*****

Buffy, fighting off her dizziness, burst through the library doors and saw Giles standing by the counter, steadily sipping coffee. “Buffy?” He voiced lightly coloured with concern at her appearance.

“Platt just attacked me.” Buffy stated.

Giles put down his mug. “Mr. Platt? The school councillor?”

Buffy shook her head, which was a mistake. She squeezed her eyes shut to stop the room spinning. “Formerly. Now Mr. Platt the vampire. He came at me in the parking lot, just when I was hit with another dizzy spell. I barely managed to stake him Giles, something bad is going on. And I saw something else, when I staked him, Platt. These eyes staring at me, glowey, yellowy things in mid-air. The poof, gone with the wind. I’m really freaking out here.”

“Then it’s true...” Giles nodded thoughtfully, his voice mild. “What else? How did you leave things with Angel?”

Buffy hurried over to the desk. “Giles? Hello, could I get something a little more Watcher-y, like a ‘goodness’, or a ‘dear lord’. I mean, at this point I’d even settle for a raised eyebrow.”

Giles nodded grimly. “Yes, Buffy. I’ll get to that, but how did you leave things with Angel? He said his goodbyes?”

Buffy was getting exasperated at Giles’ unfreakoutability. “What has that got to do with...Wait, how did you know about that?”

“He and I discussed things when he helped out with those Apocalypse demons. Angel indicated and I agreed that he would leave whenever the Mayor was dealt with, although I didn’t realise at the time that it would be so soon.” Giles pushed his coffee to one side with a sad sigh, “I thought we’d have more time.”

Buffy struggled to follow his thinking. “Time? Giles, talk to me, please.”

“Firstly, you and Angel, did you...get whatever closure you hoped for.” Off Buffy’s look he added, “Please Buffy, it’s important.”

Buffy pressed her lips into a tight line of frustration but answered anyway. “Yes. Angel said his goodbyes...it was hard but I’m cool with it. We both agreed to move on with our lives. Happy? Now what aren’t you telling me?”

Giles looked at Buffy solemnly. “It’s the wish, Buffy. I’m sorry to say that it’s killing you.”

Consequences (PART 2: The Way It Has To Be)

Buffy felt like the bottom had fallen out of her stomach. “...What do you mean killing me? You said, no you told me not to worry, that...”

“Buffy, please.” Giles put up a placating hand, “The first thing to do is not to panic.”

Buffy looked incredulous. “Well, nice going there, I’m sure my not-panicking will kick in right after you tell me why the thing you said wouldn’t kill me...is killing me.”

“That was before I knew about the Djinn...what little is known that is.” Giles rubbed a hand against his forehead in frustration, “I talked to an expert this afternoon, and he was very certain about the fate that befell the...this monastery. I-It was utterly destroyed, wiped from existence.”

Buffy couldn’t speak, she just shook her head looked questioningly at Giles, and so he continued.

Giles brought some printed pages out from under the counter. “The monk Æthelweard wrote a detailed account of what happened to that monastery, but for centuries it was suppressed by the Catholic Church as heretical nonsense. After reading some of the text, I can almost understand why.” He pushed some notes around, “According to his account the priest Theobald, worried for the souls of his fellow brothers, had come to him claiming that the abbot, an abbot Hugo, had bargained with dark powers to guarantee the safety of the surrounding lands and all its peoples.”

Buffy blinked slowly as she tried to recover her wits. “What…Why?”

“Many reasons; outlaws, plague, famine, but mostly the persistent raids by Vikings, Northmen at the time were in the habit of targeting wealthy churches and monasteries and looting them before putting them to the sword, leaving nobody alive. But this monastery and the surrounding valley, remained untouched by all these harmful outside forces. There was peace for everybody.” Giles cleared his throat. “But as time passed, life inside the monastery became rather, ah, strained, starting out with little more than lies and whispers at first, then possessions went missing and people accused each other, the monks would become irritated or jealous of one another over some imagined slight or disagreement. And in the surrounding valley it was worse, family disputes led to barns being burnt, cattle was poisoned or stolen. And then the abbot lapsed into a fever dream.”

“What has that got to do with…?”

“Your dream Buffy, Remember? The one pulled from your memories, people and places that were familiar to you. And afterwards, you were left weak and dizzy.” Giles fingered the pages nervously, “If you’d been any ordinary girl then that dizziness would have drained you and laid you low, like a severe illness. But your, um, slayer-qualities managed to fight it off, if only for a time.”

Buffy remembered. “That was on my birthday…”

Giles nodded in agreement. “But now it’s happened to you again, and will continue to happen, until it’s too late.”

Buffy frowned and shook her head. “Then we research, we get the gang and we find something to fight…”

“I’m afraid it isn’t that simple Buffy, we know what we’re dealing with but I’m afraid we’re out of time…” Giles reached under and picked up a newspaper and handed it to her, “This was dated ten days ago. You’ll recognize the, um, picture there.”

Buffy looked at the picture, it showed Pete. Abusive boyfriend Pete. The accompanying article read; ‘Teenaged Inmate Kills Six.’ She frowned. “I don’t understand?”

Giles rubbed his eyes. “The authorities didn’t understand the nature of Peter’s…power, for want of a better word. He was being held in juvenile detention awaiting trial when he, uh, lost his temper a-and killed two guards and four other inmates before being restrained.” Giles reached down and picked up another newspaper, this one dated three days ago, “And this article explains what happened to Debbie.”

He handed the paper to Buffy who blinked at the headline. ‘Cause Of House Fire May Have Been Troubled Teen.’ Apparently a fire in the early hours of Tuesday morning had led to the deaths of Debbie, her parents and her little brother.

Giles continued, his voice sorrowful. “Apparently, her breakup with Pete… and all the notoriety that came with it was too much for her. She decided to end it all.”

Buffy was beginning to understand. “So everybody I saved…”

“…By using your knowledge of the future, they end up with even worse fates awaiting them. With more people hurt. That is how the Djinn works, Buffy. No matter how noble or well-intentioned the wish, and yours was a fine one, that power comes with a price. The wish will always be twisted, warped in the cruelest way. Every life you benefit…the Djinn will then be able to affect. And now with Platt, it’s obvious that events are catching up with us at an accelerated rate.”

That meant Buffy had put every body at risk, Willow, Xander, Oz…Faith, everybody that she’d helped or changed was now in danger.

“How? I mean, what is the point of all this, if I can’t even do anything good!” Buffy felt like tearing her hair out in frustration, things were going so well, with everything, with Faith, and now… She blinked as she tried to clear her mind. To focus on what they did know, and how to fight it. “What about the monastery? What happened?”

“It seemed that the abbot was killed before the wish could…consume too many people. Æthelweard actually mentions a Slayer, though he doesn’t actually use that word. He says a…’spirited girl’ named Merewyn and a steward, presumably her Watcher, managed to rescue a handful of the monks and kill the abbot before the area was consumed by a strange magical force, a… sandstorm, not typical weather for northern England. Witnesses claim to have seen a pair of glowing amber eyes within all the dust and chaos. That’s the only description I’ve yet to find of the Djinn itself.”

Buffy could only nod, she felt a little punch-drunk. She really wasn’t sure how things could go wrong so quickly. “So…I’ve got to what, die? To stop all this from happening I mean. From everybody suddenly going all backstabby on each other.”

Giles allowed a small, comforting smile and he quickly moved off into his office. “No, there is another way. Now, although it wasn’t in the monk’s notes there was a reference to a spell that could save the supplicant…the person who was granted the wish, from being, well the words used translate as ‘consumed’ so I assume it was nothing good.” Giles came out with a book and a brown bag. He gestured with it, “Magic shop supplies.”

Buffy hugged herself, and felt herself calming slightly. She knew Giles wouldn’t let her down. “Well…that’s good. Nobody wants to get consumed after all.”

“If you weren’t the slayer Buffy then it would already be too late, and the ritual itself is highly dangerous to the recipient. That would be you. Unfortunately some pain on your part will have to be endured, I’m afraid that is unavoidable.” Giles nodded and continued as he laid out some of the supplies on the table. “Now, it will take a little time. There’s a ritual circle to be laid out, some foul-smelling substance to be mixed and a litany in Arabic which I have to memorize and then recite. All told it should only take a couple of hours and then, ah, the wish will be undone.”

“A couple of hours sounds…wait a sec, what do you mean ‘undone’?”

Giles paused and pondered. “Imagine it like this; the wish is an invisible thread between you and the Djinn, connecting you. This is how, I believe, it is draining you, feeding off of you. That same mystical thread also allows it to warp reality, to bend time and space to grant you your wish. But if the thread were to be severed somehow, as this spell is designed to do, then the wish is broken and reality would revert to what is was before. Its control works very much like a vengeance demon’s power source. Afterwards, you would still be weakened, but would eventually heal…”

Buffy interrupted as she stepped towards him. “Wait, so what? Everything goes back to normal and it’s like nothing…”

Giles nodded slowly. “I’m afraid time will revert to as before and Angel will still die, Buffy. That’s the price, I’m afraid. But it has to be this way, and it’s why I was glad to hear that you got to say your goodbyes to him, to say all those things that you didn’t…”

Buffy slowly shook her head with horrible realisation. “No, Giles, no, we can’t okay? We just…t-there has to be something else we can do, hit the books, like, all the books. Every single…”

Giles looked dour. “Believe me those medieval notes and the edited journals are everything I’ve been able to find, Buffy. And without any of my contacts within the Council…”

Buffy gestured wildly. “Then we get Wesley involved, okay. We tell him something, anything, and make the council work for us for once.”

Giles looked pained. “Buffy, that will take weeks. I assure you I know exactly how the Council works, extremely thorough but also painfully slow, especially with something this obscure. We simply don’t have the time.” Giles regarded her sympathetically, “Look at it this way, you got to spend just a little more time with Angel. All those things…”

“It was Faith!” Buffy cried out in frustration, “It wasn’t Angel, it… okay, it was Faith all along. That’s why I made the wish.” She shuddered in realization, “God…I didn’t think it mattered but everything…I’ll lose everything.”

Giles paused as he took this all in. “Then Faith...is dead?”

Buffy shook her head guiltily. “No, she’s in a coma.”

Giles’ voice was strained with frustration, perhaps anger at the revelation. “Why you didn’t just tell...It doesn’t matter, clearly you should have told me. How did it happen?”

Buffy didn’t know where to begin, she felt like her chest was being crushed. “I...”

Giles was firm, although his voice was still softened by sympathy. “No more lies, please Buffy. If I’d known the whole truth to begin with then perhaps we could’ve done something sooner.”

Buffy tried to control her voice, she spoke softly. “I did it. I put her in the coma.” Buffy shuddered at the memories, for what she thought would just be a bad dream, a series of avoidable mistakes, would now become reality again, “When Faith...when she arrived in Sunnydale I-I wasn’t the friendliest towards her. She tried to...and we were becoming closer, but then Mrs. Post came along she-she got inside Faith’s head and she ended up believing her... and we fought.”

Buffy looked at Giles plaintively. “I lied about Angel coming back, to all of you, kept it a secret, and when Xander found out, he and Faith... they thought Angel had attacked you, but it had been Post. Everything just went so wrong.”

“And then what happened?”

“We didn’t hang out much after that. Faith didn’t come by the school, no Watcher...she really wasn’t big on the trust with anybody, you, me or my friends. But then we made up at Christmas.” Buffy smiled at the memory of Faith standing nervously on the porch, saying that she hadn’t really had other plans. “We were good for a while...And then, when we were hunting for Balthazar...and, Finch was there to meet us but he surprised us and Faith...Faith, she...”

Giles swallowed in realisation. “She killed him.”

Buffy nodded. “It was a total accident but afterwards she freaked, we both did. We tried to keep it a secret, she even hid the body and... But when the police came investigating, s-she tried to blame it all on me. I was still trying to help her when Wesley had her arrested, she freaked and...Then she teamed up with the Mayor.”

Giles face was like stone. “So...it was Faith who aided him in the run-up to the Ascension, not Trick?”

Buffy nodded miserably, remembering her confrontation with Faith in Angel’s mansion, knives drawn at throats, death threats and jealous ranting.

A Faith that was a million miles away from the Faith she now knew. “She helped him, killed people for him, and poisoned Angel to distract me from the Mayor’s plans. The poisons cure was the blood of a slayer...so I...did what I had to, tried to get at her to save Angel, but she fell...and I.” She swallowed and felt her face begin to crumple, “...I can’t go back to that Giles, I just can’t.”

Giles’ face turned from concern to alarm as he stiffened and looked towards the library doors. “Faith...”

Buffy spun around to see Faith standing by the door, half leaning against it. Her eyes dull with realisation.

Buffy put a hand to her mouth. “Faith, no...I.”

“My wallet, B. You’ve still got my...” Something caught in her throat and she stopped talking, her eyes flickering rapidly between Buffy and Giles before suddenly the brunette slayer turned and disappear, the door swinging shut behind her as she ran.

“Faith!” Buffy went after her, panic overwhelming every other emotion as she seemed to be rushing towards oblivion.

*****

Faith hadn’t run far, she had simply ducked into one of the classrooms, dark and deserted. She was there standing facing the window when Buffy entered, eyes staring out into the night. Body hunched and tense, like she was ready for a fight.

Buffy stopped, frozen. Paralysed by what she should say first. How much had Faith overheard? How could Buffy even begin to explain how things had gone so wrong for them in so short a time?

She saw Faith’s body shift as she realised that she wasn’t alone. Buffy swallowed hard and concentrated on keeping her voice steady. Soft and soothing. “Faith? Please, you have to listen...”

She saw Faith’s head turn towards her, a curtain of hair. “I heard enough.” Her voice was cold and flat.

Buffy took a cautious step towards her. “I-I wanted to tell you.”

“But you didn’t,” She voice was still cold, but there was a jagged undercurrent of roiling emotion, turmoil, “From the first night I got here you’ve been lying t’me.”

Buffy took another step forward, she kept her voice gentle. “Faith, I didn’t even know how to tell you, I was... still figuring things out and I was confused about stuff. Why it all was happening.”

A small, hard chuckle at that. “So you figured out the best way to keep me on-side was to what, get me in the sack, right? Make me feel better so I wouldn’t go psycho on you?”

Her words struck Buffy like a knife. Buffy felt her chest shudder in response. “No! Faith, please, I...I didn’t mean for any of this to happen...I started off just wanting to be your friend.”

“You expect me to believe that? No, B, you were just using me, this whole time. Take care of ‘little miss unstable’, keep her close and keep an eye, take pity on her. Then when we're done you can tell me t’get lost.” Faith turned more fully, her face still in shadow, her voice still low and dangerous, “You must’ve been having a real laugh, right? Gettin’ under my skin. So, when were ya gonna tell me, huh? Tonight, right? Were you even gonna show at all, or were you just gonna turn up and dump me? Really, I wanna know?”

Buffy shook her head desperately. “Faith, I wasn’t faking, any of it. I was telling you the truth about how I felt, I promise. I...love you...”

Buffy didn’t see Faith’s fist until it was too late, but she felt her head snap to one side, pain lancing through her jaw as one of her legs folded under her and she fell to her knee. Then Faith grabbed her shoulders, picked her up and slammed Buffy against the far wall. Buffy’s head cracked solidly against the wall and she felt her dizziness returning.

“Bullshit! You’re just another lying bitch!” Faith shook her hard, “You think I’m stupid, you only tell somebody you love ‘em if you want something from ‘em. Want ‘em to be quiet and behave it’s ‘I love you’, want ‘em to make you feel better for ‘accidentally’ stubbing out that ciggie on your arm then its all ‘I love you.’” Faith let go of Buffy’s shoulders and let her go limp, Buffy saw that the other girl’s face, a mask of ache and hurt and anger, “It’s just ‘nother way to use somebody, I know that, guess I’ve always known that. Just too stupid to catch on.”

Buffy fought against the dizziness, against all the anguish that gripped her chest like a vice, clawed at her throat. She tried desperately to steady herself, tried to think of a way to make Faith understand.

“I never lied to you, Faith, I swear. Not about what mattered, about how I felt. Not about how you made me feel all the times we were together.” Buffy straightened up and caught Faith’s gaze, “Deep down you know that. You saw me struggle and freak out because I was falling in love with you...I don’t know how to make it any clearer, after all we’ve been through...”

“After all you’ve been through with her you mean. Psycho, murderer me, teaming up with the fucking Mayor, of all people, killin’ folks, tryin’ t’kill Angel. After all that you just, what, ‘spect me t’believe you went all gooey for me.” Faith shook her head and sneered in disbelief, “What a crock of shit.”

Buffy tried to keep the tremor out of her voice, whether from fear or heartbreak she wasn’t entirely sure. She knew that in her current condition Faith could seriously hurt her, but she couldn’t not try to reach her. To convince her how she felt.

“You didn’t do any of those things, Faith. Okay. That’s what I know; you’re not the same person that I met before.”

Faith suddenly leaned in close, face inches from Buffy’s. “If you really believed that then you woulda trusted me enough t’tell me, but you didn’t.” She straightened up, her eyes glistening with unshed tears.

Buffy reached out a hand. “Faith, please just listen...”

Faith stepped back, her eyes going hard. “Don’t follow me, don’t come looking. If I see you again...I’ll kill you.” She turned and stalked out of the classroom, body stiff and brittle with anger.

Buffy felt the last of her strength leave her legs and she slid down the wall, curling up against her knees on the floor.

‘I won’t cry...I won’t cry...I won’t cry, dammit. I need to think. If I could just think I could fix this.’

She wept instead.

*****

Buffy walked back through the deserted school, the cool, eerily quiet corridors mirroring her own feelings; empty and dark.

‘Let that be a lesson to remember, emos don’t have a fucking clue about pain and suffering.’

She didn’t know how long she had lain in that classroom, weeping softly. All of Faith’s harsh words bouncing around her head, spiteful recrimination for something she should have, but couldn’t have told her.

But that’s not what haunted Buffy, she didn’t care about the anger, she cared that Faith thought everything that they had shared had been a lie. That it hadn’t mattered. That it hadn’t made Buffy happier than she’d been in a very long time. She wanted, no needed, Faith to believe that she was worth loving, that all those little, intimate moments had been pure and true and...

Buffy sighed, maybe Faith was right. Maybe in the end, none of it would matter. After everything the wish could be reversed and maybe... she could just forget. Would that make it better or worse? Would that be some sort of comfort?

“Buffy?” Giles spoke to her softly as he walked into her sightline. Buffy had wandered aimlessly, listlessly back to the library, and now was standing there like an idiot.

She blinked dopily and rubbed the redness from her cheeks. “Giles...I, um, sorry I was...”

Giles shook his head. “It doesn’t matter Buffy, are you...are you alright? Is Faith..?”

“I don’t think she’s coming back.” She replied softly, delicately, like her own voice would fracture at the realisation of what she was saying.

Giles nodded, clearly not knowing what to say. “I...the ritual can take place within the hour.” Without saying anything else he turned and attended to his magics.

Buffy nodded dully. She looked at the clock, almost turned five, Giles must’ve been getting worried. What with her moping in the dark for hours.

Buffy couldn’t believe that it was just this morning that she’d woken up, with Faith, having had the most incredible night of her life. Her sweetness, her sexiness, her comforting words and her soft touch that made Buffy shiver in remembrance. Now it was all ash, or dust in the wind, whatever.

“Will I remember anything?” Buffy looked over at Giles as he put the finishing touches to the ritual circle he’d painstakingly constructed.

Giles nodded slowly. “I thought you’d ask, and I honestly don’t know. I...” He hesitated.

Buffy stared at him intently. “The truth Giles, please. I need to know.”

“In all likelihood... yes. When the wish is broken everything will revert, people, events, reality, no life you’ve changed will stay that way. The people you’ve saved...” He shook his head gently, “But the supplicant, you, will remember everything. I just don’t know if it will be something dream-like, a vivid hallucination, or a crystal-clear memory. I honestly can’t say more than that.”

Buffy took that in. Breathed in the knowledge and let it swirl around her, and was glad. Ignorance might be bliss, but in the end Faith...Faith was more than just bliss.

Giles picked up a pestle and mortar and started grinding something into a paste. “We’re almost ready, shouldn’t be long now.”

“Thank you, Giles. You must be...this all must be disappointing, finding out about the truth, the real me.”

Giles sighed. “I understand why you thought you had to lie Buffy, and what’s happening now is...a cruel punishment for so understandable a mistake. I just wish I...” He chuckled darkly, “Well, perhaps not that, but I don’t know why you specifically were targeted, people make idle wishes all the time and nothing happens, nothing is looking over their shoulder.”

Buffy sighed and mused. “Maybe it was a guilt demon; they exist right, trying to ruin me. Telling me what I’ve lost, what I could’ve had, what I’ll never get back.”

“Buffy...”

Buffy waved a dismissive hand. “No, Giles...I-I loved her. I loved her more than I thought I could ever...and I wrecked it. It was perfect and I...”

A soft voice. “Hey, B.”

Buffy turned to see Faith standing just inside the library, looking awkward, her head bowed sorrowfully. “I...I, uh, look, I freaked, ‘kay. I didn’t...I’m sorry for what I said. I didn’t, I’d never hurt you, that’s not in me, okay?”

Buffy moved slowly, irrationally thinking that any quick motion might spook the other girl and she’d hightail it and disappear, or maybe dissipate like a mirage. “Faith...I-I didn’t think you were gonna come back.”

There was a muted cough. “I’ll just...adjourn to my office.” Giles muttered uneasily before doing just that.

Faith shrugged with a curiously child-like awkwardness. “Me neither. I mean, I was just walking and thinking ‘bout stuff and I had...I mean, I don’t know how I could end up like that...or maybe I do and that’s why I freaked. Nobody likes t’think they might turn into a monster.”

Buffy shook her head. “Faith, please don’t say that.”

Faith waved away her objections. “Listen I just...I just wanna ask a couple of questions then I’ll go, okay?”

Buffy nodded tentatively. “Go ahead. Ask.”

Faith’s features twisted in anguish. “How...how many people did I kill?”

“Faith, don’t...”

Faith shook her head in frustration. “Just, tell me.”

Buffy breathed out. “Three... that I know of. Finch, which was an accident, A-And a couple of others. Some criminal type guy and a Professor...Worth.”

Faith nodded, grimacing. “’Kay, so... I did that. Did I try and kill anybody that ya care about, apart from Angel that is?”

Buffy hesitated. “Xander and Willow.”

“Ah, shit.” Faith hissed in frustration, “What the hell was I thinkin’...did I hurt ‘em any?”

“Xander...you sort of choked, but Angel stopped you. And...you threatened Willow with a knife when you kidnapped her.”

Faith actually huffed out a dry laugh. “Kidnapped, Huh? Wow, I sound like a real badass. So Giles and Wes and Oz, they’re all cool.”

“You might’ve punched out your Watcher.” Buffy shrugged lightly, “But who hasn’t done that.”

Faith looked into Buffy’s eyes. “How many times...how badly did I hurt you?”

Buffy flinched and looked away, before steeling herself and meeting her gaze again. “Badly. You...She tried to turn Angel into Angelus, she was going to tie me up and torture me, almost killed Angel, for real this time. We got into a real big fight before I...I stabbed her.”

Faith didn’t react to any of this, just nodded solemnly. “But I survived right; I’m still, like, in a coma or somethin’.”

Buffy smiled and nodded. “I was actually at your bedside when I...wished that things were different.”

Faith seemed to be turning something over in her mind. “You...you gotta promise me something, B. When you get back...just, would ya just kill me already, just put a pillow over my face and...”

“No!” Buffy interrupted, “No, I couldn’t.”

Faith stepped forward, her voice becoming more forceful. “If all I did was hurt people, then I know that deep down I wouldn’t really wanna live. You’d...you’d probably be doin’ me a favour.”

“But you didn’t do just bad things.” Buffy dared to move closer and saw Faith tense up a little, “You did help, and you did good things.”

Faith laughed at that. “Yeah, I sound like a real peach, don’t I?”

“You killed Trick...He was going to bite, kill me, but you staked him before he could. You saved me.” Buffy thought about other things, “You helped out with the apocalypse the first time. You, uh, patrolled with me, killed plenty of vampires, and...you took down Oz when he was all wolf-y. That’s lots of things.”

Faith seemed sceptical. “Sounds like you had to think hard about all that stuff. Anythin’ else, or have you run out, ‘cause that ain’t much.”

Buffy ran a hand through her hair; she was wondering why she was trying so hard to convince Faith about this, and how this conversation had gotten so surreal. “You, uh...slept with Xander. I think the polite term is ‘made him a man’.”

Faith put a hand to her mouth as she looked like she was about to smile. “Me and Xand...no way would I, hey actually I could totally see that.” Suddenly the smile morphed into a frown, “That’s...that’s not when I tried to choke on him is it?”

Buffy shook her head. “That was later.” She edged a little nearer, “But the main thing the other Faith did, even after I tried to...kill her, w-we had a shared dream, while she was in a coma, like a slayer connection. She told me how to kill the Mayor, or at least how to get him to do what I wanted. That’s why I...I knew that deep down she had good in her, that after everything she would still be willing to help, to make up for what she’d done.” Buffy stepped so she was in touching distance of Faith, looking into the other girl’s eyes. “And I was right, because you’re here. You’re the proof that the good in her outweighs the bad. The things you’ve done, everything that you told me and shared with me that she never did, and you know what, it’s not enough, I want to know more. That’s why I can’t do what you want. I’m sorry.”

Faith’s eyes flickered between Buffy’s own, sometimes looking down at her own hands, her face soft and vulnerable. She sniffed slightly. “I’m real sorry I hit you.”

“I’m okay.”

Faith bit her bottom lip. “I just...I’ve always had this temper, y’see. And I just, after everything. I figured, why would anyone like me, after all that stuff I did.”

Buffy reached and took her hands. “I love you.”

She leaned in and kissed Faith softly and sweetly, for what was probably the last time. She savoured her plump lower lip, tongue playing over that adorable cleft, she breathed in her breath, savoured her taste, the remnants of something sweet that she’d eaten.

Buffy’s hands stroked into the other girl’s hair, running fingers through soft curls, then her hands drifted down over firm, slender shoulders, toned arms, obvious even under her jacket, to her waist. Without conscious thought Buffy’s hands reached up and cupped Faith’s chest, softly running her fingers across the material of her shirt. Faith gasped into her mouth, murmuring her name as she did so.

Giles cleared his throat. “Ah...um, Buffy it’s time to begin.”

Reluctantly Buffy pulled away, leaving one last whisper of a kiss on Faith’s lips as she stepped back.

“We’re having a sweet moment an’ yer gotta try and touch me up like that, B.” Her voice was straining to be her old playful self.

Buffy tried to match her tone. “Sorry, couldn’t resist. And I don’t even know when I’ll get another chance.” She smiled sadly.

Faith’s face was full of sorrow as she stared into Buffy’s eyes. “Don’t give up on me, B. Please.”

Buffy blinked away tears. She didn’t want to remember Faith through blurry eyes. “I won’t.” Buffy turned to Giles, who was looking fairly uncomfortable, and walked to him. “Okay, let’s do this.”

Giles was looking over her shoulder. “...Faith, I would appreciate, um, if you could help. Would that be possible?”

“I an’t goin’ anywhere, G. What do you need me t’do?”

“Some sandalwood incense needs to be burned and then wafted counter-clockwise around the circle once Buffy has stepped inside.”

“You got it.”

As Faith approached Buffy went to step into the circle but Giles stopped her. “Buffy, when you, ah, get back to where you started it’s vital that you tell me...the other Giles everything, as soon as you can. About the Djinn and the events that took place here. Maybe about the avenues of research if you can remember them. The Djinn, even if the wish is broken it will still have an interest in you, or perhaps Faith and it may be stronger now.” Giles paused and seemed to weigh what he said next, “But it appears someone has gone to great lengths to keep any details about the Djinn, its history, its powers and weaknesses, hidden...and until we find out the reason why, you can’t tell anybody else, only me.”

Buffy paused. “So you're saying that the Djinn...I mean it might have people working for it, hiding stuff about it.”

Giles looked pensive. “It’s possible, but it’s also possible, given that the Djinn prays upon peoples unconscious desires, that the lack of knowledge of the thing could be a deliberate way of thwarting it, of denying it power. Until we know for sure...”

Buffy tried for fake chipper, some Summers gallows humour. “I’ll just lie to my friends. That will be a new and exciting experience.”

“Not just your friends. Everybody you care about. Even Faith, if she ever wakes up, can’t ever know, not until we find out more. It’s too much of a risk.”

Buffy digested this, how can she see Faith, her Faith again and not think differently, not tell her that things had changed, that she’d changed. She nodded at Giles, not trusting her voice.

With nothing else to say she stepped into the circle.

*****

Wrinkling her nose at the joss stick being waved in the air by Faith, Buffy looked over at Giles. “Shouldn’t something be happening right about now?”

Giles had finished the chanting about five minutes ago, and an hour before that had smeared some foul smelling yellow paste on the tattoo on her neck. After that it had been pretty boring, magic-wise.

Giles was concentrating on the book in his hand; his other hand reached over and grabbed a weird looking knife from the table.

Buffy tried to make a joke. “Hey, it was an innocent question, no need to get testy.”

“This blade will cut the link, when it appears.” Giles said, still half-concentrating on the book, “Once that happens the spell will unravel instantaneously.”

“Oh.” She said simply.

Buffy looked over at Faith who had stopped circling her and was now standing next to Giles. Her big beautiful eyes looked at Buffy sadly.

Buffy didn’t want to remember them like this, Giles trying to be all dispassionate and Watcher-y and Faith holding back the tears while her bottom lip trailed on the floor.

Buffy took a breath. “You know, Giles. I didn’t tell you everything about what I changed this time around.”

Giles nodded and readied the knife. “Oh?”

Buffy allowed a small smile. “Uh-huh. Like, the first time round, you had so much of that Band Candy and went all youthful rebellion for the night.”

That got a reaction, he raised an eyebrow. “Ah, well, yes, that must’ve been awkward for...everybody.”

Buffy nodded thoughtfully. “Especially my Mom. You and her were so totally weird around each other for some reason. It was probably the whole having sex on top of a police car thing.”

Giles’ mouth dropped open and as he stuttered. Faith started smirking, and then her face broke into a grin, dimples showing, looking beautiful. That was what Buffy had wanted to see.

And then it happened.

The library was suddenly awash with pale yellow light, emanating from above their heads. At first Buffy thought it looked like a crack had appeared in mid-air, showing a wispy glow from the other side of wherever-the-hell. But the ‘crack’ moved, twisting and winding in an invisible wind, one end drifting lower to brush the tip of Buffy’s head, the other dissipating into the ether, leading somewhere else. Buffy felt a light breeze, against her skin and a scent, that same scent she’d smelled from before, only stronger this time.

And she saw eyes. Glowing, flaming amber orbs, turning towards her, looking at her from some far off place. Gaze crawling over her skin.

She tensed before shouting. “Now Giles, now!”

Giles stepped forward and sliced high and wide, the blade, a curiously old-fashioned looking one, slashed through the air, through the wisping pale light and out the other side. Buffy saw to her alarm that the blade was glowing red hot, and looked like it had partially melted from simply touching the amber light. Giles dropped it quickly, hissing in pain.

And then the light was gone, along with the breeze and the wind and the smell. With one final puff of coloured light the library was plunged back into gloom.

And Buffy felt the dizziness return and her world fall away.

Buffy saw visions, memories in darkness fluttering behind her eyes. Images played backwards, rolling along in reverse.

‘I do like to see ya squirm. Think I proved that last night.’

‘Yeah, see, me and your Mom, we kinda did the bonding thing...’

‘You don’t know what you want...I’m not what you want.’

‘I feel wicked stupid.’

‘It’s like I keep tellin’ you, B. All men are beasts; some just make better pets is all.’

‘What can I say; I’m a gal who likes to indulge her appetites.’

‘Hi, I’m Faith.’

And then nothing, a void. A glimmer of amber light, viewed at a distance. And a voice that seemed to vibrate the air around her, a roar. “NO PEACE.”

Buffy jerked upwards with a gasp, blinking at the harsh flickering hospital light. Slowly becoming aware of the low beep-beep of the medical machinery around the bed.

Faith’s bed.

Buffy looked down to see Faith, bruised and battered, dead to the world, lying pale and broken beneath her. No dimpled grin, no husky tones, no shining eyes.

Nothing.

Buffy had done that to her.

“Buffy?” She heard Giles voice, tired but now alight with surprise, “What are you...oh, I see.”

Buffy twisted on the side of the bed, still feeling some slight dizziness, flushed and heated skin. Her legs were sore from being in the same position for so long.

Not long enough. Nowhere near.

“Giles?”

Giles, looking a lot more ragged than she last saw him, moments ago, raised a plastic cup of coffee and gave a sympathetic smile. “I, ah, rode in the ambulance with Wesley...He’s fine by the way. The doctor’s say that it’s mostly just a badly sprained neck for the poor man. Minimal spinal damage. Though, on the bright side it does prove that he has one.”

Buffy’s face crumbled as the tears came again, as she realised what she’d lost. “Oh, Giles...”

...continued in Epilogue...

:HOME:BACK TO FANFIC: