Title: Deja Vu
Disclaimer: The characters of Giles, Willow, Xander, Oz, Anya and Buffy in this story are not mine. I make no claim to this effect. They belong to Joss and the rest of the Mutant Enemy clan. Please do not sue me. However, the characters of Emmy, Jake and Jo were born in my own little brain, and I claim complete credit for them.
Author's Notes: This story take place when Giles and Willow's daughter is sixteen years old. It is a sequel to “In the Best of Times. . .”, although it is not necessary to read them in order. I'm not telling anything else. You'll just have to read it.
Feedback: Yes, please.
Distribution: Really? Cool. Just let me know where you put it.
Rating: 15 (for language)
Special thanks to Angela: Without you I'd look really stupid. :)
“Dad!” a young woman yelled frantically from an upstairs bedroom, “Where's the fire extinguisher?”
Giles heaved a heavy sigh, finished the paragraph he was reading, calmly laid his book on the coffee table, went into the kitchen, retrieved the fire extinguisher, ascended the stairs, walked down the hall to his daughter's room, and opened the door.
The scene inside would have sent chills down the spine of any normal father, but Giles was no normal father. The room itself was basically normal. Brightly colored shoes and clothes cluttered the floor. The bed was covered in a bright hand made patchwork quilt, and sunflower curtains shaded the windows. There was a stereo system sitting on one windowsill, and a state of the art computer decorated with stickers and decals sitting on the desk. The walls were covered in posters of modern music groups and Andy Warhol prints. It was the typical room of a teenaged girl that is, except for the altar.
The altar was a small solid oak table covered with candles and trinkets. It was also on fire.
Giles casually raised the extinguisher sprayed a few times and lowered it. He looked warily into the face of his daughter.
“Emmy dear, what were you trying to do this time?” he asked wearily. Emmy looked down at her feet.
“Well, I found this spell to turn fire into ice and. . .” she trailed off. Giles couldn't help but smile.
“At least you didn't try it on the bed spread.” Emmy looked confused.
“Why would I do that?” she asked.
“You wouldn't, I'm sure. Sometimes you just remind me too much of your mother at your age.” Pain flickered over his eyes as it always did when he discussed her mother. Her dad didn't speak of her mother very often, and when he did, it was always casual comments such as this. “She would come into the library at least one day a week,” Giles continued much to his daughter's surprise, “and tell me of some sort of disaster she had caused at home and had to explain to her parents.” He winced at the happy memory of Willow's innocent youth. “I'm going to save the lecture on practicing magic without supervision. I suspect you have it memorized by now.”
“That's the truth,” Emmy mumbled under breath.
“Be sure to clean up the mess and we'll discuss re-sanctifying the alter later.” He shook his head slowly and left. < Never a dull moment with that one. So like her mother. >
Emmy's heart jumped every time her dad said she was like her mother. She wished she could remember her. Her mother had died when she was only two years old. No one talked about it much, just that there was a terrible accident and both her mother and her mother's best friend were killed. Emmy knew it was a good thing her parents had married a few months after she was born. Otherwise Emmy wouldn't have anyone to take care of her and love her.
Her dad had explained to Emmy before she started grammer school that he was not her biological father, but it didn't mean that he loved her any less. Emmy accepted this as a fact of life and didn't think much about the who had sired her. She had asked her dad about him a few years ago and he had explained that her father had been a good friend of her mother's fist love, but nothing else. It struck Emmy as odd her biological father was not her mother's first love but his friend. She was fairly certain there was a story in there somewhere, but Emmy knew not to push her dad for information. He would tell her when she was ready.
Emmy did know some things about her mother. She was beautiful. Emmy had seen the pictures of her, with her long bright red hair and shining green eyes. People in Sunnydale who knew her mom would often say she looked like her, but Emmy really didn't see it. Emmy's hair was more auburn and her eyes hazel. Their faces were similar, but Emmy knew she would never be as beautiful as her mom.
Her mother was amazingly smart and was studying to get her Ph.D., when she died. Her dad had said she planned to work with people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Her mother was also something of a wizard with computers. Emmy had begged for a new computer for almost a year before she opened the package on the last day of Hanukkah last year. The card was signed, “From your mother.” Her dad had explained to her that Mom would have rolled over in her grave if she had known Emmy was still using her old one. Her dad was in a particularly talkative mood that day and told her about how her mother could hack into private computer systems. Emmy was dutifully impressed.
She also knew that her mother was a witch, and from what little her dad had said, a pretty powerful one. Emmy saw this as the biggest thing she inherited from her mother, as well as the most important. Emmy wanted to become as powerful a witch as her mother had been, but Dad didn't seem to keen on the idea.
He would go on and on about how dangerous it was and how some powers weren't meant to be trifled with, and then he would clam up. After Emmy made it obvious she was not going to give it up, her dad began with some rudimentary instruction, but he was going far too slow for Emmy's tastes.
The most valuable resource Emmy had for information on her mother was by far her Uncle Xander. He would sit with her for hours showing her pictures of the two of them when they were little, and telling her stories of silly things her mother, their best friend, Buffy, (“What a silly name,” she would always comment and Xander would laugh) and he did in high school or college. Emmy loved their talks, but she had a feeling Uncle Xander was hiding things from her, too. Every time Emmy would ask questions about her mother's death or spells her mother had performed, he would change the subject or announce he was taking her, Aunt Anya and the boys out for ice-cream.
Emmy was certain he knew more than he was saying. They were trying to hide something from her, and she knew it was only a matter of time before she found out.
Emmy turned to the mess where her alter had been and began to clean up. After she removed all the soot and ash, she journeyed down to the basement to return the book from the box she found it in. She opened the box to return it, when she noticed the other things it contained: her mother's senior high school year book and old photo albums.
Emmy gingerly lifted the book from the box and started to leaf through the yellowed pages. The only picture of her mom was her formal photo. She turned to the last page which was covered in writing. Uncle Xander had signed it, explaining how glad he was that they were still friends after everything that had happened < ?? > and how much he valued her friendship. Buffy had signed it, stating that she could have never faced all the evil without her. < What the hell is that supposed to mean > Emmy thought. Some guy named Percy, thanked her mom for all of her help in history, and a girl named Harmony told her to “Have a Nice Summer.” A girl named Cordy had written, “It hasn't exactly been fun, but it's over.” < OK, whatever. > Then her eyes fell on an entry signed by someone named Oz. Emmy knew her mom's first love's name had been Oz, he was a friend of Uncle Xan's too, so she zeroed in to read:
“You are my love, my life and my muse. You proved to me there is such a thing as unconditional love. I thank you for it and I love you for it, too. You bring out the best in me. You are my nation. Yours always, OZ”
< Wow > Emmy thought. < They must have been pretty intense. > Emmy flipped forward to the senior pictures to find him. The closest thing she could find to an ‘Oz' was a guy named Daniel Osbourne, so she figured it had to be him. He was cute. Uncle Xander had told her at one point that Oz was a musician. < I wonder why they broke up. He seems cool, and he obviously loved her. >
This was the problem Emmy always ran into when she learned things about her mother. Every answer seemed to lead to ten more questions.
Emmy then started to leaf through the pictures. She found one of her Mom, Uncle Xan and Buffy all piled on top of table in the library with her Dad looking down on them disapprovingly. Emmy always forgot how much older her dad was than her mom. She also thought that it was *really weird* her mother had been one of her dad's students. She knew that her mother was in college before they got together, but she could just imagine her dad's reaction if she came home from school and announced she was dating the librarian. Of course, considering the librarian was a middle-aged woman, this was probably not going to happen any day soon. Then she found a picture of her mom and Daniel Osbourne cuddled in what looked like a cage with books in it. They were looking into each other's eyes completely entranced. < So, this is him. Gosh they really did love each other. >
Emmy replaced the contents of the box and headed upstairs and into the living room. Her dad was reading on the couch, as always, probably studying up on his next book on demonology. Emmy crawled into his lap. Giles put down the book and hugged his little girl.
“I'm sorry, Daddy.” Giles hugged her harder.
“I know you are, sweetheart. I just worry about you. We'll do a proper lesson this weekend, OK?” Emmy immediately brightened.
“Thanks, Dad.” Giles expected her to jump up and start looking through her books to pick a spell, but she didn't. She only snuggled deeper and laid her head on his chest. Giles was about to question her, but stopped. < Don't be a fool, old man > he scolded himself < soon she'll be too old to snuggle with her father. Enjoy it while you can. > He stroked her hair gently. < She is so like her mother. The same hair, face, and fragile small body. Even the same amazing power. > Many times Giles had wished Willow hadn't given her daughter the gift of magic, but he knew there was no denying it. Willow's daughter was as powerful as witch as Willow had once been. < But > Giles swore to himself < Emmy will not suffer the same fate. >
As these thoughts drifted through Giles' mind, his arms tightened around his daughter. Curiously, she looked up from his chest to see tears filling his eyes.
Giles cleared his throat, “Yes, dear.”
“Tell me about my mother.” Giles was silent. “Come on Dad, I can tell you're thinking about her. Why won't you just tell me?” Emmy laid her head back on her dad's chest. Giles sighed. His daughter saw so much he didn't mean her to see. He wanted Emmy to know Willow, but it hurt so much to talk about her.
“What do you want to know?” Emmy jumped with surprise.
Giles smiled. “Yes, really.”
Emmy thought for a moment. “Everything, I guess.” Giles chuckled.
“There's a lot to tell.”
“Then why don't you start from the beginning.”
“I'll try.” He paused for several moments. “When I met your mother she was your age. She was quiet and shy, like you, and loved by everyone, like you. And she had no idea how wonderful she really was, just like you.” He tweaked his daughter's nose and she flushed. “Willow was quiet and when she spoke, she had a tendency to babble. She had a real sense of what was important in life, even at her young age, and she was fiercely loyal to her friends.” Giles fell silent for a time. “Willow met Buffy that same year. She, Xander and Buffy were inseparable. What a trio they made. All three of them in infatuated with someone they couldn't have. Xander with Buffy, Buffy with Angel and Willow with Xander--”
“Mom was in love with Uncle Xander?!” exclaimed Emmy.
“Infatuated, dear, not in love. Although at the time she was convinced it was love.”
“Uncle Xander never told me that!”
“Oh, didn't he. Well, Xander was always a bit fuzzy on the details. No, I don't think Willow was ever in love with Xander. It took Oz for that to happen.” Emmy expected her dad to have some sort of anger or at least dislike in his voice when he spoke of Oz, but there was only sorrow.
“The four of them together were unstoppable, even to me. I tried to control them, but I should have known better. They all had minds of their own, whether they used them or not is a whole different kettle of fish.” Again Giles was silent. It was as if he was trying to work up the courage and strength to continue. Emmy wanted to prod him on, but knew better than that. Instead she snuggled closer to her dad, trying to give him the strength to continue.
“They all loved each other fiercely. They would have laid down their lives for one another.”
“Did Mom and Oz really love one another?” she asked.
“Oh yes, very much,” her dad replied with no hesitation. “I have seldom seen two young people as much in love as Oz and your mother.” Emmy was confused at this.
“But, then why did they break up?” she asked. Giles struggled with this.
“They didn't, not really. Oz had to leave to resolve some. . .some. . .some family issues, but he was killed.”
“He died!” Uncle Xander hadn't mentioned this.
“Yes. Willow was in her first year at university. For a while I didn't think she would pull herself from the dark shadow his death had left in her life. If it wasn't for Xander and Buffy, I don't think she would have. All three leaned on each other for support and comfort and reminded each other what life was really about. I don't think I have ever seen three closer friends.” Emmy wished she had friends like that.
A thousand questions swam through her mind. < How did Oz die? Did Mom and Uncle Xan ever date? Who this Angel guy? Why was their high school librarian still hanging out with them when her mom and Buffy were in college? Why did they hang out with the librarian in high school anyway? Did Mom ever get over Oz? >
“I found a picture of Mom and Oz in a box in the basement,” Emmy confessed. “Why aren't there any pictures of you and mom? Even wedding pictures.” Emmy seemed genuinely hurt by this lack in her life. Seeing this Giles cursed himself. He had tried so hard to protect himself from the pain that he had denied his daughter.
Slowly, he untangled himself from her and went upstairs. Emmy thought he had gone into his room to be alone, but after a few moments he came back down holding a cedar box about the size of a shoebox. He handed it to her.
“Open it.” Emmy looked at her father, then the box and back at her father again. Emmy settled herself on the couch, tucked a stray hair behind her ear and opened it. Emmy gasped when she saw the contents. Inside were dozens of pictures of her mom and dad. One was of her dad standing behind her mom with his hands wrapped around her *very* pregnant belly.
“Buffy took that just a few weeks before you were born.”
She gingerly replaced it and picked up another. This one showed her mother in a white crocheted dress holding a bouquet. Dad once again had his arms around her. He was dressed in a smart black suit. The picture under it was the same pose, except instead of a bouquet she was holding a small baby with bright red hair. Emmy recognized herself from her other baby pictures.
“That was our wedding day.”
Another was of the three of them at the park on the merry-go-round. Her Mom was holding her with their matching hair flowing behind them, while her dad did the spinning. They all had huge smiles on their faces. Emmy had never seen a picture of herself at this age.
“Dad, how old am I in this picture?” she asked.
“Almost two and half. It was a week before. . .before. . .It's late, you should go to bed, Emmy. Take the pictures with you.” Her dad turned his back to her and faced the wall. Emmy rose and put her arms around him from behind.
“I love you, Dad.” He patted her hand, but didn't respond. Emmy released herself from him and ran quietly up the stairs and into her room. She jumped into bed and spread all of the pictures out on the quilt. < We really were a family. > she thought to herself < Even if it wasn't for very long. > Tears filled her eyes. All three were smiling in every picture. It was like looking on pure happiness. Emmy had never seen her father smile like that. Her mother's death had obviously robbed that light from his eyes. It was so unfair. Her dad needed a wife and she needed a mother. < Sometimes life sucks. > Emmy finally let go and cried. She fell asleep curled up on the end of her bed still looking at her family.
After he was sure Emmy would remain upstairs Giles hit the brandy. He knew Emmy needed to hear about her mother and see those pictures. He just wished it didn't hurt so bloody much. And as he had so many times before, he was going to drown his loss in alcohol.
Fifteen minutes later he was saved from certain drunkenness by an knock at the door. < Who would be calling at this hour? > he thought as he answered it. The sight on the other side of door nearly knocked Giles out with surprise.
“Hello, Rupert,” said a man. Giles stood gaping. The man was sixtyish and handsome with his salt ‘n pepper hair and gentlemanly demeanor. He was dressed in a long trench coat and hat over his expertly tailored suit. “It has been too long.”
“Nearly twenty years,” Giles said after he stopped staring and motioned the man to enter.
“As I said, too long,” the man said as he removed his hat and coat placing them on the rack conveniently set by the door. “I apologize for the late hour, but I figured you would prefer it, considering your circumstances.” Giles nodded, understanding.
“Thank you. Emmy has never met any one whom I grew up with. Chances are she would be asking all kinds of questions I would not let you answer.”
“I will never understand why you have chosen to keep everything a secret from the child.”
Giles stiffened, “It is none of your concern, Arthur.”
“Quite right, quite right, “ Arthur answered dropping the subject.
“So, tell me, why are you here?” Giles asked.
“I am here to represent the council, Rupert. We need you. The new slayer needs you,” he toned seriously. Giles laughed in his face.
“I am not a Watcher. The Council fired me for being too emotionally invested in my slayer. Or do they not remember?”
“They remember very well, Rupert. That's why they need your help.” The Council knew Giles would not be happy to hear from them, which explained why they sent Arthur Gavern, someone Giles had met when he was just a boy, to speak with him. Giles was furious at the Council, but he could not be completely rude to his boyhood friend.
“I'll fix us a cup of tea, and you can tell me what they think is so important to incorporate a black sheep such as myself,” Giles offered and began to make the tea. Arthur seated himself on the couch and looked around the room. His eyes landed on a picture of a teenaged girl smiling brightly as she threw freshly fallen leaves at the camera. At first Arthur thought this was a picture of Giles' late wife, but as he gazed he realized this was not Rupert's wife, but his daughter.
On his long flight over the ocean Arthur had read everything the Watcher's Council had collected on his friend and his life in America. A wealth of information was available his first three years in California, it dwindled considerably after his termination and completely dried up after the death of his wife. It was as if he had fallen off the face of the earth, which, Arthur reasoned, is probably just what he wanted.
“She's lovely, Rupert. Your Kessem. The spitting image of her mother.”
“Yes, she is, on both counts,” Giles replied, bringing the tray to the coffee table and setting it down, “But at lovely as she is, she would still scratch your eyes out for calling her by her formal name.”
“She doesn't like it?” Arthur asked.
“I think on some level she does, on some deep level, maybe,” responded Giles with a smile. Nothing brought him more joy that talking about his daughter, but they had more insistent matters at hand. “But enough chit-chat. Why don't we get to why the Council had sent you all this way.” Arthur heaved a heavy sigh and began. He knew this was not going to be easy.
“The Slayer died over a month ago,” he said.
“Yes, that happens all the time. Truly after several thousand years the Council is used to this event,” Giles interrupted him. His exterior remained placid, but inside he was tearing apart. Just the mention of a slayer dying sent him back to the night of Willow and Buffy's death.
“If you would let me continue, I will explain it to you,” said Arthur. “As I said the slayer died over a month ago, but the identity of the new slayer was not discovered until just a few days ago.” Giles' eyes grew wide at this statement. “The girl is almost sixteen years old, and knows nothing of who she is. As far as we know she has never even faced a vampire. As you know, girls this age are some what reluctant to train.” Yes, Giles knew this very well. “This girl needs someone with a great deal of experience in this kind of situation. Everyone on the Council agrees that someone is you.”
“Me?” Giles asked, “But why? The Council deemed me unfit years ago.”
“This girl has no parents and lives with an aunt. She will need a father figure as well as a Watcher.” Giles smirked as this. They wanted him to come back to the Council for the very same reason the kicked him out.
“Absolutely not.” Giles stated with utmost certainty. “I will not up root my life or my daughter for the sake of the council.”
“She's here, Rupert. In Sunnydale,” Arthur said staring straight into Giles' eyes. “She moved here only a few weeks ago. Is this sounding familiar?” It did, terrifyingly so.
“My answer is still no. I will not have my daughter pulled into the life that killed her mother. Please leave, Arthur.” Arthur did not fight him. He rose and went to the door grabbing his hat and coat.
“I will be in town for the next several days, staying at the Regal. Call me if you changed your mind.”
“I won't.” Arthur nodded and left.
Giles returned to his glass of brandy. < Oh hell. > he thought < Could things possibly get any worse? >
Emmy went to school the next morning completely oblivious of the conversation that had taken place the night before. All she cared was that it was Friday and she would have her magic lesson tomorrow. She busied herself at her locker and getting ready for class. She said hello to the people she knew on the way. When she reached her class her friend Jake waiting for her.
“Hey Em,” he said in greeting as he scurried to finish his homework.
“Hey,” she said as she sat down beside him.
“Dad wants me to ask you if you want to go with us to the lake next weekend.”
Emmy looked down at the trig homework that had taken her an entire hour to do. Jake was flying through it like multiplication tables. Emmy sighed, it was so unfair these things came so easily to him, especially since he didn't care. Jake had skipped two grades when he was little, he was so smart, but he really didn't give a rat's ass. This caused his dad, her Uncle Xander, no end of stress. Uncle Xan had always struggled in school and didn't even go to college. He didn't understand why his son didn't take more pride in his intelligence. Uncle Xan had told her many times, that Jake was the only person he knew smarter than her mother.
“Are Aunt Anya and your little brothers coming, too?” she asked.
“No, thank God,” he responded never looking up from his homework. He was on the last problem and Emmy would have bet three months allowance he hadn't started it before the first bell. “I think Dad wants to bond with us or something. He said something about how important it was to spend time together, before our lives get too complicated. Whatever that's supposed to mean.” In spite of the fact he was only fourteen he looked like he belonged in this classroom. He had inherited his father's height and build, so he was about the same size as everyone else. Most of the time people forgot he was something of a child protégé. He got in way too much trouble for a smart kid.
Jake and Emmy had known each other since birth. Her dad often compared them to her mom and Uncle Xander, but unlike her mom, evidently, Emmy could never imagine dating Jake. They knew each other too well. Emmy remembered last night wishing she had the kind of friends her mom did. She looked over at Jake < At least I have one > she thought.
Jake finished his homework and turned to Emmy, “So what do you say? Are you in for a weekend of bonding with my old man?” Emmy laughed.
“Yeah, I'm in. I can't think of anything better to do,” she teased. The bell rang and class started.
Half way through a mind numbing trig lessen the guidance councilor, Mrs. Ropper knocked on the door and entered the class bringing with her a girl. The girl looked to be Emmy's age. She had deeply tanned skin, amazingly dark eyes, and l-o-n-g dark brown hair. Emmy thought she was the most beautiful girl she had ever seen. Emmy looked down at her own snow-white skin and envied the girl's dark features.
“I'm sorry to interrupt, Mr. Higgert, but we have a new student today,” Mrs. Ropper announced. “Everyone this is Josephine Turner, she recently moved here from Orlando, Florida. I'm sure you'll all make her feel welcome.” Everyone in the class was staring at her, and Emmy's envy washed away and was replaced with sympathy. Emmy had gone to the same school her entire life, she couldn't imagine being uprooted in the middle of the year. “I'll need a volunteer to show Josephine around the school.”
Before Emmy realized what she was doing her hand was in the air. “I'll do it,” she said. Jake turned to her in surprise. Emmy normally didn't put herself on the spot like this. < Maybe she's finally coming out of her shell > he thought. < It's about damn time. > Jake loved his friend, but really thought she could use get out more and stop spending so much time with her spell books.
“Emmy, how nice of you,” Mrs. Ropper approved. Emmy stood, grabbed her books and followed the pair out of the room. “Just bring her to the office after you're through,” Mrs. Ropper said and left them. Emmy extended her hand to the girl.
“Hi, I'm Emmy.” The girl took her hand gratefully.
“Hi, I'm Jo. No one calls me *Josephine* but I couldn't seem to convince Mrs. Ropper of that.” Emmy nodded sympathetically.
“She's just like that. It has taken me two years to get her to call me Emmy instead of Kessem.”
“Well, it's nice to hear I'm not the only one,” Jo replied. “By the way, thanks for volunteering. I was having nightmares no one would. Mrs. Ropper said you don't get many new students.”
“That's the truth,” Emmy agreed, “You'll find that not many things actually change here in Sunnydale.” Jo shrugged.
“That's OK. I think I could deal with some stability.” Emmy started on her task of showing Jo around. The pair made casual conversation about which teachers to avoid and which day to bring a lunch to school. When they were coming to close of their tour Emmy was running out of casual conversation. The whole concept was new to her, so she hadn't had much practice.
“So, what do your parents do?” she asked reaching for a new subject.
“Uh. . .not. . .much,” stammered Jo, “They both died a few months ago.” Emmy's eyes widened with shock. < What, is the weather not good enough for you! > she chastised herself.
“I'm sorry,” Emmy said gently, “That's harsh.” Jo bristled at what she perceived as pity.
“Yeah, how would you know?” she shoot back. Emmy stopped walking and turned so she was face to face with Jo.
“My mom died when I was little. I don't think you ever get over something like that.” It was Jo's turn to be shocked.
“I'm sorry, Emmy, I just thought. . .I thought. . .”
“It's OK,” Emmy reassured her. “I get it.” The pair resumed walking down the hall.
“So,” Jo said trying to start up the conversation again, “what does your dad do?”
“He's a writer.”
“Really,” said Jo impressed, “Would I have read anything he's written?” Emmy laughed at this.
“Not unless you have some pretty peculiar interests.” Jo looked confused, so Emmy continued. “He writes text books mostly on demonology, the occult and weirdo old religions only a few people have even heard of.”
“Well, that's cool, too,” Jo said, “A little freaky, but cool.” By the time they got to the office it was nearly lunchtime.
“Ah, Emmy, Josephine, I was wondering when you would get back,” Mrs. Ropper greeted them. She turned to her watch. “Since, you've managed to waste half of your day with the tour it's time for lunch. Emmy, why don't you take Josephine with you, I believe you and Mr. Harris have Mrs. Ragland for American History fourth hour and so does Josephine. You can show her there after you eat.”
“Sure, Mrs. Ropper,” Emmy responded as if she was answering a question instead of obeying an order, and turned to leave.
“Oh, and Emmy,” called Mrs. Ropper after them.
“Would you please inform Mr. Harris that if the fetal pigs are returned without incident he will avoid suspension.” Emmy gave her a look of wide eyed innocence, inspired by the fact she really didn't know what the guidance councilor was talking about.
“What fetal pigs?”
“Just tell him,” and she turned her back to them and left.
“Fetal pigs?” asked Jo sufficiently freaked out. Emmy sighed.
“I have no idea, but I'm sure Jake does.”
They found Jake in the nearly deserted cafeteria strategically placing his french fries in odd shapes around his tray.
“Jake,” Emmy said as she approached him, “what are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to still be in physics.”
“Yeah,” he shrugged, “I tried to explain to Mr. Nilan the equation we were supposed to be using for centripetal force wasn't valid, because it didn't account for the effect of the earth's gravity of a system while in motion. He sent me to the office, but I thought it would be more fun to explore the little known genre of fry art. What do you think?” Jo was staring at Jake not knowing what to think.
“Jake, this is Jo, the new girl,” Emmy began the introductions, “and Jo, this is Jake, who is too smart for his own good.”
“Hey,” he said to Jo, and turned his attention back to Emmy, “It's not my fault the teachers at this school are not properly educated.”
“Of course not,” Emmy responded trying not to laugh. She set her books on the table and motioned for Jo to do the same.
“Oh, Jake, Mrs. Ropper wanted me to tell you something about fetal pigs. . .Does that ring any bells?” Jake looked at her guiltily.
“Maybe a ding or two,” he admitted sheepishly.
“What? They were just sitting out. They were begging for someone to steal them.”
“And of course, you thought you'd teach them a lesson?”
“Some one had to.”
“One of these days Mrs. Ropper will carry out her threat to suspend you.”
“She's secretly in love with me.”
“And what planet have we chosen to live on today?”
“Just how long have you two known each other?” Jo piped in.
“Forever,” Jake sighed. “We were genetically engineered to be friends. We didn't get a choice in the matter.” Emmy punched him in the arm. “Ouch!”
“My mom and his dad were best friends,” Emmy told Jo. “We've known each other our whole lives.”
“That's kind of cool,” Jo said.
“Yeah, it would be,” Jake told her, “If Em here wasn't such a dork.”
“I'm the dork?! Listen here, Mr. Zillion and a half IQ, there's only one dork at this table. I'll give you a clue. The dork doesn't have breasts.”
“Like I said,” Jake continued with a glimmer in his eye, “If Em wasn't such a dork---OUCH!! Watch it, girl! I bruise easily.”
For some reason watching their familiar sparing made Jo feel at home for the first time since she'd come to Sunnydale. A smile grew on her face. Maybe she was finally where she needed to be.
“Hey Jo!” Jo heard from behind as she headed out of school at the end of her first day. “Wait up!” She turned to see Emmy heading toward her and immediately brightened.
“Hey Emmy, what's up?”
“Not much. I was wondering what your Friday night plans are.”
“Cool, do you want to go to the Bronze with me tonight?” Emmy asked, “Jake is always trying to get me to go with him, but I don't want to be just hanging around while he's talking to other friends. I thought if you went with me, we could hang out together, you know.” Jo smiled.
“What's the Bronze?” she asked.
“Oh God, I'm sorry. It's the club Jake's dad, my Uncle Xander runs. It has live music and people dance. We never have to pay the cover either. It's fun. That is if you like that sort of thing. . .do you? Like that sort of thing?”
“Yeah, I do. Should I meet you there or something?” Emmy was so shocked as she said yes, she hadn't thought about this part.
“I don't know. Maybe you should come over to my house before and get ready and stuff?”
“Sounds good to me.”
“Cool. Let me give you the address.” Emmy sat down on a bench and started to root through her bag for a piece of paper and a pen. < This is so cool, an actual girl to do things with. > Emmy was usually uncomfortable around women. Jake had a theory why. He said that she had grown up around too many men, her dad, his dad, him, his two little brothers. The only woman she really had much contact with was her Aunt Anya, and Jake was the first to admit she didn't act like most women. < Uncle Xander said once that Anya had a colorful past, maybe that's why she wasn't normal? Who knows? > All Emmy knew was the idea of spending a few hours getting ready to go the Bronze with Jo sounded like a lot of fun. < Hopefully, it will be. >
Emmy handed Jo the address. “It should be easy to find,” Emmy told her,” but if you have any trouble my number's at the bottom. I'll see you seven?”
“Seven is good. I'll see you then,” Jo said and turned to go to her car. < I can't believe it. It's my first day of school and I already have a friend. This is SO COOL! > She smiled all the way home. It had been a long time since she had something this good to smile about.
“Hey Daddy!” Emmy called as she came into the house. “Are you home?”
“Why, yes I am,” Giles said as he came down the stairs. She ran up to him and gave him a peck on the cheek.
“How was your day?”
“It was productive. I finished the chapter I was working on. And yours?”
“Fabulous!” she proclaimed and bounded up the stairs. < She's suspiciously perky > Giles said to himself and followed her up to her room.
“Did anything particularly fabulous happen today?” he asked curiously.
“Yeah, kinda. I met this really cool new girl at school,” Emmy replied flipping through the clothes in her closet. “We're going to the Bronze with Jake tonight.” Giles was taken aback by this.
“You're going to the Bronze?” Emmy had only been to the Bronze a handful of times and had never seemed too keen on the idea of returning.
“Yeah, is that OK?”
“Of course it is. Just have your Uncle Xander drive you home.” Emmy abandoned her closet and starting shuffling through her drawers. “Are you looking for something?”
“Something cool to wear tonight. You know, something that's not too geeky or little girlie,” Emmy sighed. “I really need some new clothes.” Emmy continued to go through all of her stuff. “I have to find something before Jo gets here at seven. . .Oh yeah Dad, Jo, that's the new girl, is coming over so we can get ready. OK?” Giles nodded.
“That's fine,” Giles said shaking his head and left Emmy to her search. He was still shaking his head as he went down the stairs. < Going to the Bronze. Complaining about her clothes. Having friends over to get ready. She's never done any of this before. She's growing up before your eyes, old man. >
About ten minutes after seven their door bell rang.
“I'll get it!” called Emmy as she flew down the stairs. She opened the door to find Jo on the other side holding a make up case. “Hey, you found it.”
“It wasn't hard.” Jo was wearing the kind of outfit Emmy had failed to find in her room. She was wearing a satiny black tank top cut low to show off her cleavage, a mid length back skirt with slits on each side that went nearly all the way up her thighs, and a pair of tall black boots. Jo's hair was piled on top of her head and her face was expertly painted. Emmy was still wearing the jeans and T-shirt she went to school in.
“You look fab,” Emmy told her. Jo blushed.
“Thanks. I didn't really know what this club was like, so I didn't want to over to do it.”
“You didn't over do it or under do it,” Emmy reassured her, “You just did it. Come on in and meet my dad.” Giles put down his book and rose to meet his daughter's new friend.
“Jo, this is Dad, and Dad, this is Jo Turner.” Jo extended her hand.
“It's nice to meet you, Mr. Giles.” Giles froze staring at the girl. He knew. He didn't know how. . .but some how he knew. . .this girl was the slayer.
“Dad?” Emmy asked her staring father. He shook himself out of the fog.
“I'm sorry,” Giles shook Jo's still extended hand. “It's lovely to meet you, Jo.”
“Come on,” Emmy said to Jo, “Let's go upstairs.” The girls bounded up the stairs leaving Giles alone with his fears. He hurriedly went to the phone and dialed information.
“Yes, I need the number for the Regal hotel. Put me right through. . . .Yes, please put me through to Arthur Gavren's room. . .Arthur, hello. . .Arthur, shut up and listen to me. . .what is the girl's name. . .WHAT IS HER NAME!!!” Giles dropped the phone.
Upstairs Emmy was standing in front of the mirror looking uncomfortable, and Jo was sitting on the bed looking very pleased with herself. She had dressed Emmy in an outfit of her own devising.
“I can't wear this out!” Emmy exclaimed.
“But they're your clothes. You look great,” Jo reassured her. Jo had dressed her in a long straight red skirt, a *very* small white v-neck T-shirt and combat boots.
“But I out grew this shirt two years ago, and I only wear these shoes when Uncle Xan takes me and Jake hiking.” Jo laughed at her.
“Trust me, you look gorgeous,” she looked Emmy up and down, “And Jake won't be able to make any more breast comments.” Emmy covered the flesh the stretched T-shirt failed to cover and blushed.
“Do you want me to do your make up?” Jo asked.
“Sure, that's why I brought it over,” she patted the bed next to her. “Sit down and I'll get started.” Emmy sat and Jo starting searching through her make up case. “Do you have any foundation? All my stuff is going to be way to dark for you.”
“I have a little,” Emmy answered and scampered out of the room. She returned with a tiny cosmetic bag. “This is all the make up I own,” she apologized. Jo searched through the bag finding a small bottle of foundation.
“This is just what I need,” and she started to apply the liquid to Emmy's face. “I would kill to have your skin. It's like porcelain. So, what would you normally doing on a Friday night?”
“Not much. Probably spending time with Dad, and Uncle Xan and Aunt Anya stop by a lot.”
“So, Jake's dad does a lot of stuff with you?”
“Yeah, he always has. I think he's trying to make up for my mom being gone. Dad always acts like he's some big intrusion, but he and Uncle Xan have been friends for years.”
“Did he introduce your mom to your dad?” Jo asked.
“No, they met years before they fell in love.”
Jo put down the foundation, picked up an eyeliner pencil and motioned with her free hand for Emmy to close her eyes. “Close. Then how did your mom and dad meet?”
“They met when my mom and Uncle Xan were in high school. Dad was the librarian.”
“You're mom married on of her teachers? Kinky.” Emmy playfully slapped Jo's thigh.
“They didn't get together until my mom was almost done with college.”
“Look up. . .how old were you when. . .never mind.” Emmy lowered her eyes to look at her.
“When my mom died? It's OK, I don't mind talking about it. I was two. She was only twenty five when she died.” Jo put away the pencil and picked up some smoky gray eye shadow.
“Close. How did she die?”
“I'm not really sure.” Jo stopped applying.
“What do you mean you're not sure?” Emmy sighed.
“All anyone will tell me is that she died in some sort of accident. I think it hurts them too much to talk about it. How did your parents die?” Jo looked down at her hands for a moment, then returned her focus to Emmy's eyes.
“A drunk driver hit them.”
“I'm sorry. I know it's hard.”
“Yeah, but let's move on to a less morbid subject. . .like you,” Jo leaned back to study her work. “You, my dear, look gorgeous.” Emmy turned to look in the mirror and couldn't find herself. < Oh my God, that's me! I'm gorgeous! > She flung herself at Jo.
“I look gorgeous! Thank you!” Jo laughed and hugged her back.
“You are very welcome, but to be honest I didn't do anything much. You're beautiful without make up.” Emmy beamed.
“Let's go. I can't wait to show off the new me.” The girls grabbed all of Jo's stuff and headed down stairs.
Giles had been drinking brandy ever since his phone conversation. < Willow, you would know how to deal with this. Why did you leave me here, when I know I could have saved you? Willow. . . > His thoughts were interrupted by a vision of his late wife descending the stairs. < Willow? >
“Hey Dad,” said Emmy, “What's wrong?” It was only the sound of his daughter's voice that told him he wasn't hallucinating.
“Nothing dear,” He walked over and touched her cheek, “for a moment I thought I was looking at you mother.” Emmy couldn't think of a higher compliment.
It was nearly one in the morning, when Giles heard Xander's car pull in to the driveway. He turned to see Emmy breeze into the house followed by Xander. She was red faced and smiling.
“Hey Daddy. I had the greatest night. We danced for hours, Jake introduced us to all of these knew people, and it was so much fun.” Emmy looked as if any second she would explode with excitement.
“Who would have known inside this demure package lived a party girl?” said Xander and Giles scowled at him.
“I'm glad you had a good time, but it's late. You should run on to bed,” Giles told her.
“It is late,” Emmy agreed and walked up to her Uncle Xander and kissed him on the cheek. “Thanks for bringing me home. ‘Night, Dad.” Emmy ran up the stairs still smiling.
Xander took a moment to study the scowling Giles. “Don't worry, old man. She was having pure clean fun, nothing else.” Giles's shoulder's sagged. He walked to the couch to sit down.
“Unfortunately, we have larger problems than Emmy's budding social life.”
“Better watch it Giles. That sounds an awful lot like your ‘Watcher voice.' If you don't cool it I'm going to start thinking ‘evil's afoot',” Xander said jokingly as he placed himself in the chair next to his friend. Giles looked up at him. Xander knew that look. “What!? But. . .but we haven't had to do anything like that for. . .for. . .years.”
“Yes, I know,” Giles replied and took a deep breath. “Did you meet the girl. . .Jo?” Xander looked confused.
“Jo is evil? But she seemed so nice,” he said wistfully. Giles, on the other hand, was exasperated.
“No, but does anything about her strike you as odd?” Giles pressed. Xander considered this for a moment.
“Now that you mention it. . .nothing was really odd, persay. . .but she seemed. . .familiar.”
“That girl is the new Slayer. A Slayer the council wants me to train.” Xander's eyes went wide.
“You have got to be kidding!”
“Damn it, Xander! Why would I *kid* about something like this?” Giles said beginning to get angry.
“Whoa! This is heavy.”
“Is it? Is it really?”
“Giles calm down. What are you so angry about? I thought you'd be happy whenever the council finally reinstated you.” Giles stood and glared at him.
“My daughter is in her room happier than I have ever seen her, because she has met this wonderful new friend. A wonderful new friend that is going to put *my daughter* in more danger than she has ever dreamed possible. And she is so much like her mother, Xander, so much like her. Emmy will have no choice but to stand by her.” Xander could tell Giles was on a roll, so he didn't interrupt. “She'll probably be happy she isn't the only girl she knows with supernatural powers. And what about Jake? Are you willing to sit up night after night wondering if he's dead or alive? Are you willing to let yourself love Jo as a daughter, when you know first hand what she's facing? When you *know* she she'll only live a year or two if she's extremely lucky?” Giles sat back down and put his face in his hands. “Are you willing to loose the three of them the way we lost Willow and Buffy?”
Xander made very sure Giles was finished before he spoke. “In one word, yes. Yes, I am.” Giles was astonished. Xander looked on him seriously. “Loosing Willow and Buffy was the worst time of my life. I kept thinking I should have been there too. . .that I should have gone with them. But now I know they did what they had to do. Buffy and Willow closed the Hellmouth, Giles. It can never be opened again. As much as I hate to admit it, they did what they had to do. They didn't tell us because they *knew* we couldn't help them. They knew what they were doing, and chose to sacrifice themselves. They thought it was the only way, and we both have to learn to respect that.”
“Respect it?!” spat Giles.
“Yes, because if you don't, they died in vain. Can you live with that?”
“But I lost a wife and a friend, and more importantly Emmy lost a mother. How can I live with any of it?”
Xander put his hand on his friends knee, and seeing the pain in his eyes, said gently, “Willow sacrificed herself to guarantee her daughter would grow up in a better world than she did. Wouldn't you do the same?”
It hurt, but Giles knew he was right. Giles wiped the tears that were spilling from his eyes. “But then how can you, knowing all of this, want. . .want. . .” he stammered.
“It to start all over again?” Xander finished. “For almost ten years I dedicated my life to fighting evil. It was terrifying, exciting, gut wrenching, and, well, even gross sometimes. I stared into the face of true evil and fear and death countless times. But do you know what I found. I found courage and love and friendship deeper than I would have without it. Now, when I look into the faces of my wife and sons, I know what a miracle they are and what a miracle everyday I have with them truly is.” Xander look Giles straight in the eye. “If my son has the chance to know what I know, who am I to deny him that.”
Giles broke his gaze, his eyes filling with tears. Knowing there was nothing else he could do, Xander got up and headed to leave. “You know I'm right,” he said as he shut the door behind him.
Giles sat crying for several minutes. He cried for himself, for Willow, and for his daughter. He even cried for Jo. He gathered himself up, went to the phone and dial.
“Arthur, wake up. Yes, I know it's late. Listen Arthur, tell the council I'll do it. You heard what I said. But I'm going to do it *my* way, and I don't want to hear anything about it.” Giles hung up the phone and went to bed. < When did Xander get so smart? > he wondered as he went to sleep.
A month had passed since that fateful night and Emmy was still on cloud nine. As far as she was concerned her life couldn't be going better. She had a new best friend in Jo. Jo and Jake got along famously. They had even begun to tease one another the same way Emmy and Jake always did. They spent countless hours together at Jake's house or Emmy's just hanging out, watching movies, eating junk food and laughing. Sometimes they would go to the theater or the Bronze and sometimes they would let Jo just drive them around town and talk. It didn't seem to matter what they were doing as long as they were together. Which was exactly were Emmy was heading right now. The three of them were meeting at Jake's house for a night of rented movies and junk food.
Her dad was even taking more time to teach her magic. For the first time since Emmy had realized she had this power her dad was making instruction a priority, and Emmy was too happy to question it. The only down side to her life was that she had to hide her magic from Jo. Emmy knew she had to keep it a secret from everyone but the Harris's, and until now it had been easy. It seemed so wrong to keep the secret from Jo. Emmy even thought of asking her dad if she could tell her, but thought better of it.
Soon Emmy was headed up to the door of Uncle Xander's house. She didn't bother to knock, she never did, and walked in.
“Uncle Xan, Aunt Anya?” she called.
“In the kitchen,” she heard Aunt Anya's voice come from the other room. Emmy went to join her.
“Hey, where's Jake?” she said looking greedily at the cookies cooling on the table.
“He and his father went to the super market and video store,” she answered. “Stop mooning over them and take one. It's OK, I didn't make them. Xander did before he left. So, how is life treating you?” Emmy eagerly grabbed a cookie and took a bite before answering.
“OK. Spring vacation's next week, so that's good.”
“Quite. Except that I'm going to have five children to look after instead of three.” Emmy looked up at her concerned. < Had they been hanging out here too much? >
“I'm sorry, we can watch movies somewhere else. . .” Anya reached over and ruffled her hair.
“I'm teasing. You know you aren't any trouble, and even if you were Xander wouldn't have it any other way. Learn to take a joke, Em. It will be good for you.”
“Lucy I'm h-o-me!” Xander called announcing his presence to the house.
“We've been married for fifteen years,” Anya stated, “and for every single one of them Xander has known I hate that.”
“But then why does he do it?” Emmy asked curiously.
“Because he knows I hate it.” Anya looked down at Emmy's puzzled expression. “Don't worry, you'll understand if you unfortunate enough to marry someone as crazy as your Uncle Xander.” Xander and Jake came into the kitchen and set their bags on the table.
“Woman!” Xander said and swept Anya into his arms. “Come to me.” Anya beat against his chest.
“Let me go you freak.”
“Ah, but you like the freak in me,” he said and kissed her passionately. Anya could no longer feign resistance and kissed her husband back. They kissed. . .and kissed. . .and kissed. Jake and Emmy looked at each other and simultaneously rolled their eyes. Anya and Xander were always doing this. Once they started kissing it was like no one else in the world existed.
“EHMMM!” Jake exaggerated clearing his throat. “Come on you guys! Jo going to be over soon, and I don't want to have to explain the sounds coming out of your bedroom to her. At least Emmy's used to them by now.” Emmy tried to suppress I giggle.
Xander and Anya reluctantly parted lips. Still embracing his wife Xander turned to his son. “Get out of here then,” he pretended to snarl, “before things get *really* nasty.” Xander lifted Anya so she could wrap her legs around his waist.
“Come on, Em,” Jake said shaking his head as he turned to leave. “Let's leave them alone with their geezer love.” Jake and Emmy headed to Jake room. “They are so-o-o embarrassing. They're married. Shouldn't they have gotten all of this out of their system by now?”
“I think it's sweet,” Emmy said.
“You wouldn't if it was your parents. . .sorry, Em,” he added seeing Emmy's face fall. She shook it off.
“It's OK. Anyway, where's Jo? Shouldn't she be here by now?” As if on cue they phone rang.
“We'll get it!” Jake called to his parents as Emmy reached for the phone. “As if they will.”
“Hello,” said Em.
“Hello. . .Em?”
“Hey Jo, what up? Where are you?”
“That's why I'm calling. My car broke down half way there.”
“Yeah. My aunt's going to pick up the car, but do you think Mr. Harris could come and pick me up?”
“I don't see why not.”
“Cool. It will take Aunt Rachel about a half hour to get here, so don't hurry. I'm a block from the Tasty Freeze.”
“OK, see you in a few.”
“Bye.” Emmy hung up and turned to Jake. “Jo's car broke down. You think your dad will go and pick her up?”
“Yeah, but you get to go interrupt the brothel that is now the kitchen and ask him,” Jake insisted.
“Whatever,” Emmy said heading to the kitchen.
****Meanwhile in the kitchen*****
Xander slowly pulled away from the kiss. Anya leaned back to look at him.
“Honey, what's wrong,” she asked concerned. Xander was always surprised how quick his at-one-time-a-demon wife could turn gentle.
“Jo's coming over,” he responded.
“Yes, that's happened at least five times a week for almost a month. Why is it bothering you now?” Xander sighed and sat down on a kitchen chair taking Anya with him. She unfolded her legs, so that she was straddling him. “Well?” she prodded.
“Giles still hasn't told Jo she's the slayer.” Anya was confused by this.
“But why? Surely he's had enough time to brush up his ‘one girl in all the world' speech. What's the problem?”
“He seems to think Jo should have time to adjust to her surroundings and become comfortable with him before he breaks the news to her.”
“But that's ridiculous. She's loosing precious training time.” Xander had to agree. “And I think there's more to it than that,” she said and stopped to think for minute.
“Well, Giles has been intently teaching Emmy magic since Jo came to Sunnydale. I know because he's come over to borrow some books and stuff. I just wonder if he's more worried about Emmy than he is about Jo.” Xander considered this for a moment.
“He's preparing her,” Anya continued. “You know how paranoid he is about that girl. Like it's her fault her mother died. Emmy wouldn't try do something as foolish as closing the Hellmouth. Not that she would even have an opportunity any more after Willow and Buffy got through with it. Giles needs to get his priorities straight.”
“I'm sure he thinks he does,” Xander defended his friend.
“It's ridiculous Xander,” Anya replied. “If the slayer is here, it's only a matter of time before something happens. How is keeping the slayer and Em ignorant to what's really going on going to help anyone. . .especially Em. Emmy is not her mother and Jo's not Buffy. If he's so hell bent on protecting his daughter from what killed them, he should tell her the truth.”
“I know, but it's his choice.”
“But should it be? We've raised Em with Giles. I know as well as you do she could handle it, so what's he waiting for?”
“What's a *slayer*?” Emmy asked stepping out from behind the door where she'd been listening. Anya and Xander both jumped.
“Em!” Xander went a bit wild eyed. “How long have you been there?”
“Long enough. What a slayer? And what do this have to do with my mom and Jo?”
“The Slayer is the one girl in all the world,” Anya began in a sing-song voice, but Xander stopped her.
“Em, was there something you needed?” Xander asked trying to change the subject.
“We need to go pick up Jo at the Tasty Freeze,” Em shook her head. “But that's not the point. Uncle Xan, what's a slayer?”
Xander ignored her question. He knew there was only one man who could deal with this and it wasn't him. Xander untangled himself from his wife and stood. “Go get Jake. We'll pick up Jo and go to your house. You can ask your father.”
“But Uncle Xander!” Emmy whined.
“Don't push me on this!” he said harshly and Emmy jumped back. Guiltily he reached out to gently touch Emmy's face. “I'm sorry, Em. Just go get Jake. The sooner you do, the sooner you'll get your answer.” Emmy wasn't happy about it, but she did as he asked.
The tension in the car was weighing down on all four of them by the time they reached Emmy's house. Xander and Emmy were silent in the front seat staring forward. In the back Jo and Jake whispered to one another furiously trying to figure out what was going on. It felt like years later, but they finally reached their destination. They unloaded themselves from the car and headed inside.
Giles, blissfully unaware, was interrupted by from his reading by them entering the house. Seeing their somber and confused faces, Giles put down his book concerned.
“What's happened? Is everyone all right?” His eyes traveled up and down Emmy's body but couldn't find any outward signs of harm.
“Guys, sit down,” Xander said and the three of them sat down on the couch together. “Now Em, ask your father what you asked me.”
Emmy looked confused up at Xander, sighed and asked, “What's a slayer?”
Giles eyes went wide with panic. “Where did you hear about the Slayer?”
“I over heard Aunt Anya and Uncle Xander talking about it. . .and Mom and Buffy.” Giles's eyes shot furiously to Xander. Xander shrugged and sat down.
“I'm sorry Giles. We didn't know she was there.”
“*Dad*, what's a slayer?” Emmy repeated. Giles took off his glasses and rubbed his forehead. < I have been stalling for too long anyway > he thought.
“Emmy, you know there are things in this world that can't be explained.”
“Yeah,” she replied, “Like my magi---” Emmy glanced quickly over at Jo.
“It's OK, Em. Like your magic.” Giles turned to Jo. “Emmy is a witch as her mother before her.”
“A witch?” Jo said in disbelief.
“It's true Jo, just go with it. I'll explain it to you later,” Jake piped in. Jo didn't look convinced but Giles continued.
“Emmy has the ability to perform spells and call on certain powers, but there more types of mystical forces than she knows of. In this world there are creatures who are not all human. There are demons walking on earth.”
“Demons, Dad?” Emmy said sarcastically. “Come on.”
“Kessem. Now is a time for you to listen.” The sound of her full name silenced her.
“As I said, there are demons here on earth, and as long as there have been demons there has been the Slayer. The one girl in all the world----” Giles stopped. “God, this a stupid speech!” He gathered himself together and continued, “The one girl in all the world born with the strength and skill to fight them.”
“But what does this have to do with my mom and Buffy and Jo” < Jo jumped at the sound of her name > “and something called the ‘Hellmouth'?” Emmy interrupted. Giles shot another menacing look at Xander, who hung his head in shame. Giles took a deep breathe.
“Buffy was the slayer. The Hellmouth was a portal to the demon realm. Your mother and Buffy died closing it.” Emmy tried to take all of this in.
“And Jo?” she asked. Giles turned to look at Jo who was concentrating very hard on her lap.
“Every time one Slayer dies another is called. About two months ago the last Slayer died. Jo is the new Slayer.”
“What kind of crack are you smoking?” Jo yelled rising to her feet. “Are all of you people mental? I'm not the new anything!” she insisted.
“Jo, sit down,” Xander said. “I know this must be hard, but it's true. Giles and I both recognized you.” A thought occurred to Emmy.
“But Dad, if all of this *is* true,” she said still not really believing, “What does it have to do with you?”
“As long as their has been Slayers,” Giles continued completely devoid of all emotion, “there have been watchers. Some one who is assigned to help the slayer and train her to fight the evil. . .”
“Your dad,” Xander finished for him, “is a watcher. He was Buffy's, that's how we all met him, and now he's supposed to be Jo's.”
“This is ridiculous!” Jo insisted and ran out of the room and up the stairs to Emmy's room.
“I'm with Jo,” Emmy announced as she ran after her.
Jake, who had been unusually silent this whole time looked from his dad to Giles. “This has been enlightening. Insane, but enlightening,” and he got up and went to join the girls.
“It's never easy,” Xander said to Giles as he rose to leave. “They'll come around. Call me when they need to go home.” And he left, leaving Giles alone.
“Why didn't you tell me your father's a crack pot?” Jo demanded Emmy once they were all in her room.
“I didn't know,” she replied still shocked from the conversation.
“Well he is! Everyone knows there's no such things as demons and magic!” Emmy squirmed.
“But Jo, there is such a thing as magic. I *am* a witch.”
“Come off it, Em! Really!”
“She's telling the truth, Jo,” Jake said sitting down on Emmy's bed. “She's been one since we were kids. Go ahead Em, show her. Make something float or something.”
“I'm not going to do parlor tricks, Jake!” Emmy yelled trying to gather her thoughts together. “But I know what we can do.” Emmy went to her altar and uncovered it.
“What the hell is that?” asked Jo, but was ignored.
“What are you planning to do, Em?” Jake asked curiously.
“We're going to find out the truth from the only person who really knows. We're going to ask my mother.”
“Your mother!” Jo said as Emmy went to her closet and got out some candles and *very* weird looking things and began to make a formation on the floor of her room in front of her altar. “But she's dead.”
“Can you do that?” Jake asked. Emmy nodded.
“I think so. I've never done this spell before, but with everything Dad's been teaching me lately, I think I can do it.” Jake rose to help her place the candles.
“Is it safe?” Emmy looked at him.
“I hope so.” At her answer Jake went to the door and locked it.
“Just in case Uncle Giles figures out what you're doing,” he explained.
Jo was still ranting, “You two are insane. Emmy, you think you can actually talk to the dead?” Emmy placed herself in the middle of the circle, the photo of her family on the merry-go-round in front of her, positioned her body and closed her eyes. Jake took Jo's arm and led her to sit on the bed with him.
“Jo, shut up for a minute. If Em *can* do this, she'll need to concentrate.”
“But. . .” Jo began and trailed off. She might as well wait and see what happened. < After all > she thought < when nothing happens hopefully all of this will be over with. But if something does happen. . . > Jo didn't even want to think about that possibility.
Emmy slowly began to chant in Latin, concentrating on the picture. For a moment thing happened. Then a huge wave of power surged over her. Her head rolled back from the force. The room grew dark, the only light coming from the candles. Jo shuddered. Jake leaned forward to get a better look at what was happening.
Slowly, Emmy opened her eyes and a hazy vision of her mother was standing before her smiling.
“Mom,” she whispered.
“Hi honey,” the apparition of her mother said, “I was wondering how long it would take you to do this.”
< She's beautiful, just like her picture > Emmy marveled < Just like I knew she would be. > Tears filled Emmy's eyes.
“No, none of that,” Willow insisted. “This is a happy time.”
“Mom. . .there's so much I want to ask you,” Emmy said mystified. Willow laughed. It was the most beautiful sound Emmy had ever heard.
“I know, but I have a feeling there's one question in particular.”
“Yes,” she said puzzled, “How do you know?”
“How do you think I know?” Willow asked gently. “Do you think that a day goes by that I don't watch my little girl? Especially now that she's becoming a woman?”
“So, is it. . .,” Emmy began.
“Is it true what your father and Uncle Xander have been saying?” Willow turned her gaze to Jo, who was white faced and staring. “Yes, it's true. All of it.”
“But. . .” Emmy stammered.
“No buts. Now is not a time for doubt. You have to believe. Jo is the slayer. You have an important job now. You,” she smiled and turned to glance at Jake, “You and Jake, that is, have an important job now. You both need to help her and support her. It's not going to be easy, but know what you're doing is important.” Everyone was silent for a moment.
“Willow,” a voice called from far away. Then next to her mother appeared a vision of a small blonde woman. Emmy recognized her immediately as Buffy.
“She finally did it,” Buffy said and put an arm around Willow's waist. “It's lovely to see you again, Emmy. Listen to your mom. She's right, she always is.” Buffy looked at Jo and Xander and her smile nearly split her face. “The Scooby gang rides again.”
“Emmy, Hun, we don't have much longer,” Willow said leaning down to her daughter. “No matter what happens know I love you, everything I have done has been for you and I am so proud of you. You are the best thing I ever did. Say hello to your father for me. Remember, I never left either of you,” and the vision drifted away.
Emmy, Jake and Jo sat stunned. Jake finally got up and started to blow out the candles, which were burning precociously low. After the fire hazard was taken care of he sat down in front of his friend. He saw the tears streaming down her face and leaned over to hug her.
“She's proud of me,” Emmy whispered.
“Of course she is,” Jake said. Jo remained on the bed staring at where the apparition had been. “Now do you believe?” Jake asked her.
“I. . .I think I have to,” Jo said never removing her eyes. Abruptly Emmy removed herself from Jake and ran out of the room. She ran all the way down the stairs and straight into the lap of her father.
“What?” Giles said surprised. “Honey, is something wrong?”
“No,” Emmy said never removing her head form her father's chest. “Everything's right. I believe you. I believe all of it.” Emmy started to sob into her father chest. Jo and Jake came down the stairs. Giles looked on them questioning.
Jake merely shrugged. “We kinda had a vision,” was all he said.
Jo and Jake decided to walk to the Harris's instead of calling Jake's dad. They both needed some time to clear their heads. They walked for a few blocks in silence. As always, Jake was the first to speak, “So, you're the slayer.”
“I guess, I am,” Jo shrugged. Jake studied her for a moment. < She's taking all of this pretty well. That vision of Mrs. Giles was something, but. . .this isn't adding up. >
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she said and sighed, “Yes, I am.”
“But, why?” Jake prodded.
“Wasn't the vision of Em's dead mom enough for you?” Jo was beginning to get irritated.
“It was something, I give you that. I just know that it would take more than a ghost to convince *me* I was some sort of mystical force. So. . .so, what's really going on here, Jo?” Jo was silent, then sighed again.
“Something Mr. Giles said kinda got to me,” she admitted.
“He talked about the slayer having like supernatural strength and skill and stuff, and in the past few months I've been noticing some things.” Jake stopped walking.
“What kind of things?” he asked curiously.
“It started as stupid stuff. I didn't need to ask anyone to open pickle jars for me anymore.”
“Oh yes, that certainly a super power,” Jake laughed and started walking again, “All hail the fated jar opener. Be humbled in her presence.” Jo laughed in spite of herself and followed him, playfully slapping his arm.
“That just how it started, jerk.” She thought for a moment. “Soon it became obvious I was stronger. Aunt Rachel claimed it was because she was feeding me better, but then the accidents started happening. I kept on breaking things, just by running into them. . .things I shouldn't have been able to break. Once I put my foot up on the coffee table and it just splintered.”
“Why didn't you tell us?” Jake asked, “or at least Em.”
“Tell my new friends I was turning into some kind of freak?” Jo laughed harshly, “Like I was really going to do that.”
“What do you mean ‘why not'?”
“Being a freak isn't the worse thing in the world, Jo,” Jake said sincerely. “Em is. . .even without the whole magic thing. Haven't you noticed that she doesn't exactly fit in at school?” Jo considered this.
“Yeah, but I just thought she was shy.”
“Exactly,” Jake nodded. “Em is *horribly* shy. We're in *high school*. That's enough to make you a freak in most people's eyes. I mean forget about making Legos float when you're four years old. Em can't talk to people. She clams all up and hides behind her hair every time she tries. That's why I was so happy when she met you. And forget about Em for a minute, what about me? I'm barely fourteen and I'm a sophomore. That fact alone make me a big freak.”
Jo often forgot how young Jake was. She was shocked when Em had first told her the truth. Jake seemed to be just like the two of them and everyone else in their grade for that matter.
“So you see,” Jake continued, “being a freak doesn't make you bad. It only makes you interesting. It separates you from all the sheep we're always surrounded by, especially at school. It's a good thing.”
“You know Jake, your pretty smart. . .for a kid,” Jo said trying to pinch his cheeks. He skillfully ducked her on coming hands. His glance shot just ahead of them to the park that lay between his house and Emmy's.
“Yeah, I'm a kid, and being a kid. . .” Jake took off running. “Race you too the swings,” he called behind him. Jo laughed and ran after him. She beat him to the swings by at least ten feet. Jake sat down on a swing and put his head between his legs breathing deeply. Jo kicked off and started to swing. She wasn't even winded.
“That will teach you, to try to race The Slayer,” she taunted him.
“Yeah” < heave > “whatever” < heave > Jake gasped. He took a second to thoroughly catch his breath and kicked off to swing with her.
“Jake?” Jo started.
“If I took this news well, you're taking it amazing. Why aren't you more freaked out?” Jake thought about this for a moment.
“A lot of reasons. . .”
“Like?” Jo prompted him.
“Well, I always knew Em could do magic, so the idea of mystical forces isn't exactly new to me. . .and then there's all the stuff with Willow and Buffy.”
“It's kind of hard to explain. You see my dad had always been honest with me, sometimes too honest,” he grimaced thinking of the scene in the kitchen just a few hours ago. “He says the biggest mistake people make with children is treating them like idiots, so he's always careful to tell us the whole story. . .” he trailed off.
Jake sighed. “But there are still a few things my dad won't talk about. Like he won't talk about my mom's family, and I haven't been able to figure out why, but other than that the only thing he wouldn't talk about was how Em's mom and Buffy died. It's weird. I mean I can kinda understand if he doesn't want to talk about Mom's family. They could be completely hellish people for all I know. . .but how Willow and Buffy died just wasn't the kind of thing Dad would normally keep from his kids. It was almost like it wasn't his choice, you know. Sometimes it seemed he really wanted to tell us, especially Emmy, what really happened, but he always stopped himself. I knew it had to something big.” Jake laughed. “I never thought it would be *this* big, but I guess you could say the whole thing answers a lot of questions.” Jake sighed. “Just go with it. That's my philosophy. It's not like we can do anything to change it.”
“That's for sure,” Jo agreed.
Emmy laid crying in father lap for nearly half an hour. Giles was going out of his mind trying to figure out what was wrong. Jake and Jo hadn't been any help. After Jake's not so informative announcement, they had simply left. Giles rocked his daughter back and forth while slowly stroking her hair and muttering comforting words. After awhile Emmy pulled herself together. She lifted her head to look at her father. Her face was red and wet from crying.
“Dad, I saw her,” she said still trying to shake off tears.
“Saw who, honey?” Giles asked both concerned and curious.
“WHAT?,” Giles asked aghast.
Emmy gulped. She knew her dad wasn't going to like this. “After we all went upstairs I decided to find out if you were really telling truth. . .so I summoned her.”
“You tried to summon a spirit! By yourself! What if something had happened?” Giles temporarily forgot to comfort his daughter in his fury.
“But Dad,” she tried to defend herself, “I had to do something. You and Uncle Xan were talking crazy. I had to find out the truth, and I knew *somehow* she would tell me. Did you just expect us to swallow everything? Demons, slayers, openings to other dimensions. . .it was a lot.” Giles was starting to calm down, so Emmy pressed on. “So, I tried it. . .and it worked. I saw her dad. I talked to her.” Giles anger vanished and was replaced with astonishment, as his mind settled on what Emmy was really saying.
“You talked to her. . .?” he said wistfully.
“Yeah,” she said and her eyes filled up again. “It was amazing. She was so beautiful and happy, but also sad.” Emmy shook her head, knowing she wasn't making any sense. “She told me to believe everything you said and not question it. . .and she told me. . .” she was once again lost to her tears. Giles, shaking, gently placed his hands to either side of her head and slowly raised her face to meet his.
“What else did Willow say?” he asked trying to hold himself together.
“She said,” Emmy began still crying, “. . .she was proud of me.”
“How could she not be?” Giles replied touched.
“And she said for me to say hi to you. . .so, ‘hi.'” She let a small laugh from the absurdity of it all. Tears were now streaming freely down Giles's face as well. Emmy continued, “and she said she loved us. . .she said I was the best thing she did. . .and she never left us.” Emmy threw her arms back around her father. They cried in each other's embrace for nearly an hour before finally going to bed.
As the moon light hit the Giles's living room two misty figures could be seen in the corner. Willow and Buffy stood holding one another hands, their faces also filled with tears. Willow laid her head on Buffy's shoulder and closed her eyes. There was too much pain to face. Buffy reached up and stroked her hair.
“We knew this wouldn't be easy,” Buffy reminded her. “It's better this way.” Willow nodded and wiped her eyes with the end of her shirt.
“I know. . .it's just hard. I want to hold her so much,” she said.
“I know, Will, so do I. She's the closest thing to a daughter I'll ever have.”
“And Rupert. . .what I would do to feel him again.”
“Not with you there,” Buffy replied without hesitation.
“We did the right thing,” Willow stated standing up straight.
“Yes, we did,” Buffy agreed squeezing her hand. “It's all worth it in the end.”
“I hope it so.” And slowly they drifted away.
**Two months later**
Jake, Jo, and Emmy limped into the Harris's kitchen. Jo went to the freezer to get ice and Emmy and Jake sat down in chairs and on either side of the table. Jake put his head in his hands and Emmy glared at him. After a few minutes Giles joined them slowly shaking his head.
“That was nearly a disaster,” he stated.
“Tell us something we don't know,” Jo answered placing a dishtowel full of ice on her bloody elbow.
“What were the three of you thinking?” Giles demanded, looking straight at his daughter. “You could have been killed.”
“Don't look at me,” Emmy defended herself. “Ask the ‘man with the plan' over there.”
“Hey!” Jake said lifting his head. “I did the best I could under the circumstances. . .it wasn't necessarily a bad plan.”
“Oh yeah,” Emmy challenged. “‘Get em!' What kind of a plan is that? Did it take all your stellar IQ points to come up with?”
“I didn't see you voicing any alternative!” he shot back.
“*I* was busy--”
“With a spell that didn't work--”
“It might have if you hadn't broken the circle trying to run away---”
“I was not running away--”
“WHATEVER! I forgot, you were trying to protect our escape--”
“It's a very important job--”
“Yeah, only one glitch in that theory, brain boy, we were fighting NOT escaping--”
“If your spell had worked, we would have been--”
“If you hadn't broken my circle--”
“Would you two just stop it,” Jo interrupted. “At least we got most of them. We just have to be sure to be prepared next time. Right Mr. Giles.”
“Quite.” Giles was trying very hard not to smile. Yes, they had almost been killed by a group of vampires, and yes, they had botched the entire attack. . .but they had gotten out alive and everything was all right. Giles watched the bickering trio, and couldn't help but smile. It was all too familiar. Emmy and Jake tried their best to establish blame and Jo refereed. Yes, some of the roles were a little confused, but all three of his original slayerettes were represented. For the first time in many years Giles was experiencing a rare and precious feeling: happiness.
He and his new Scooby gang had a full schedule of work or school, slaying and family life, but they were all flourishing, even Giles. Never had he felt closer to his wife since her death. Willow's years in the Scooby gang had been the best time of her life. When Giles spent time with his new crew, the happy memories of his wife were always with him. The playful banter, the hours and days and nights spent researching, the intense laughter and friendship. Giles was remembering how his wife had lived instead of concentrating on how she died.
“Dad!” Emmy interrupted his thoughts, “Aren't you even listening?”
“Of course I am, dear,” he lied. “I think we should leave this debate for tomorrow. It's late, and if you and Jake aren't careful you'll wake Xander and Anya with your fighting.”
“Too late,” Xander announced from the entrance to the kitchen, dressed only in a pair of old sweats. He went to fridge and grabbed a soda. “I take it all of you had a *fun* night.”
“It was eventful,” Giles responded. “I'm sorry we woke you.”
“Yeah, sorry Dad,” added Jake. Emmy and Jo mumbled their apologies as well.
“It's OK,” Xander winked at Giles. “I wasn't exactly asleep anyway.”
“OH GOD!” Jake exclaimed. “What are you rabbits? How many little brothers do I need?”
“How about one more?” Anya said appearing in the kitchen as well wearing only Xander's robe. She crossed to her husband, took the soda from his hand and let Xander's arms embrace her from behind.
“You have got to be kidding!” Jake said with disbelief.
“Is it true?” Giles asked Anya. “Are you expecting. . .again?” Anya beamed.
“Yes, I am,” she announced and Xander hugged her closer, “in about five months.”
“This is fabulous,” said Emmy and ran over to hug them, “Maybe this time it will be a girl.”
“You know, there is an over population problem,” Jake pointed out.
“Jake!” Jo cut him off.
“Whatever,” he gathered himself to leave. “I'm going to bed.” Half way out of the room he turned to his parents. “Congrats guys. I guess it's nice to know your extra-cirricular activities are at least productive,” and he left smiling to himself.
“You are such a dork,” Emmy called after him. “This is so cool. I didn't know you guys were trying to have another baby.” Anya and Xander exchanged a glance.
“Em,” Anya said, “Sometimes babies happen when the only thing you're trying for is a good orgasm.” Emmy laughed, used to her Aunt Anya's brutal honesty, while Jo still stood in the corner blushing outrageously. Giles merely shook his head. “But I am happy about it,” Anya assured them. She lifted head back to look up at her husband, “Ecstatic.”
“I love you,” Xander told his wife and leaned down to kiss her. Their kiss grew so deep and intimate they didn't even notice Giles, Emmy and Jo had left.
Adrenaline was still coursing throughout Emmy's body when she got to her bedroom. Between the botched fight and the surprise announcement Emmy doubted she would ever get to sleep. She went to her dresser, pulled out her pajama's and started to change for bed.
“What an interesting night this has been,” a female voice said from the corner of her room. Emmy jumped, covered bare chest with her night shirt and turned to see the only slightly insubstantial vision of her mother.
“Hi, honey,” Willow said and crossed the room to sit on Emmy's bed. “Put on your shirt before you get a chill.” Emmy stared blankly at her.
“But you're here.”
“Yes,” Willow smiled up at her, “I told you before, I've always been here.”
“But I can see you?” Willow patted the bed beside her.
“Put your night clothes on, sit down and I'll explain it to you.” Emmy numbly followed her mother's instructions. After she seated herself on the bed Willow began.
“Sometimes when two people are so close and the door that keeps them apart opens, which happened the night you summoned me, it can never be closed again.” Emmy tried to absorb this.
“You mean you've been able to be with me like this since that night?”
“Exactly,” Willow nodded.
“But that was almost two months ago. Why did you wait so long?” she asked.
< She's so smart > Willow thought. “Many reasons. The first time you saw me it was hard for you.”
“Yes,” Emmy admitted remembering that tear filled night.
“It was hard for me too, and I thought we could use some time before I *appeared* again,” Willow said with a wave of her hand. “I also wanted to give you some time to adjust to your new life before your dead mother started dropping in on you.” Emmy seemed satisfied with this. “So, are you having fun?”
“I am having *so* much fun,” Emmy replied. “Me and Jake and Jo are so close and I feel like I'm really doing something with my life.” Emmy beamed. Willow watched her daughter and tried desperately to keep the tears from coming to her eyes.
“So, what do think about Xander and Anya's big announcement?” Willow asked trying to move to a less vulnerable subject.
“It's great. Uncle Xan and Aunt Anya are such cool parents. They deserve to have a big family.”
“Who would have thought?” Willow said shaking her head.
“Thought what?” Emmy asked.
“That Xander and Anya would have turned out to be the normal ones.” Willow laughed to herself for a moment until she noticed the quizzical look coming from her daughter. “Ehm. . .but that's a story for another day.”
“Come on, Mom, give!” Emmy insisted, but Willow shook her head.
“There are something that even I can't tell you.” Both were quiet for a moment simply marveling in each other's company.
“Then what can you tell me?” Emmy asked.
“I can teach you magic--”
“Really?” Emmy squealed.
“Yes, ‘really,'” Willow teased her. “But it's much more powerful and dangerous than the magic your father has been teaching you.” Emmy's eyes grew wide.
“Dad!” she exclaimed and began to climb off the bed.
“Wait!” Willow held up a hand to stop her.
“But Dad would love to see you,” Emmy insisted. Willow patted the bed again and Emmy sat down.
“Your father and I had something precious and wonderful together--”
“I know!” she cut her off. “That's why I know he'd want to see you.”
“Because,” Willow continued, “we had something so wonderful while I was still alive, it would cause both of us too much pain to see each other again. It would only remind your father of everything we lost. I can't put him through that.”
“But didn't we have something precious and wonderful, too?” Emmy asked her chin quivering.
“Yes, honey,” Willow reassured her, “we most definitely did and do. However, you were too little when I left to really remember the time we spent together. You don't have the crystal clear memories in you mind of this perfect family.” Tears began to stream down Willow's face. “A perfect family that was ripped from you, and you had no way to stop it.” Seeing the pain in her mother's expression, Emmy knew her father wasn't the only one hurting from the separation. Emmy reached to place her hand on her mom's but it went straight through her. They both shuddered.
“I'm. . .sorry,” Emmy stammered. “You just seem so real.”
“I know,” Willow said gently. “This is going to take some adjustments on both our parts. Just do me a favor and *never* tell anyone about me. . .not Jo, Jake, your Uncle Xander, and especially not your father.”
Willow swallowed. “If you tell anyone about me, then there's a greater chance your father will over hear something. He can NEVER find out about me,” she insisted. “I don't think either of us could handle it.” Emmy could see the tears well up in her mother's eyes again.
“It's OK, Mom,” Emmy said. “I'll never tell anyone. I promise.” Willow wiped her eyes and forced a smile.
“Well, now that we have that settled, let's get to the lesson.”
“OK, what do we do first.”
“Get a piece of paper and a pen.” Emmy got up and went to her desk, then stopped and turned.
“What kind of spell can we do with a piece of paper and pen?”
“Oh it's a very special spell,” Willow said seriously. “It's a spell that insures when you go to the store you will never forget anything.”
“Really,” Emmy asked amazed.
“Yes,” Willow nodded, “it's called a shopping list.” Slowly the joke reached Emmy.
“God, Mom. . .”
“Sit down and get to work,” Willow said still teasing her. “This is serious business. We'll need sage and thyme and . . .”
The pair talked and prepared for the next hour or so, before Emmy's yawning became obvious. Willow tucked her daughter into bed (as much as she could in her state) for the first time in over fourteen years and drifted from the room.
When she reappeared she was in the bedroom she had Rupert had shared so many years ago for too short a time. She reached out and tried to stroke his hair, but her hand passed right through it. Giles stirred.
“Willow,” he said sleepily.
“You're dreaming, Rupert,” Willow whispered.
“Willow,” he said again, a dopey smile on his face. “I always dream of you.”
“I know.” Willow stood up wiping away her tears. She shook her head. She had done far too much crying lately. Willow leaned down as close as she could to Giles's ear. “You've done a wonderful job with her. She's perfect.”
“She's you,” he murmured and Willow started to sob.
“I love you,” she managed to whisper before she drifted away.
Back to Kiera's Stories