Emmy was glad when school ended a few weeks later. Between school, slaying, and nightly magic lessons she was getting about four hours of sleep a night. . .on the good days. Her summer schedule a bit more relaxed. She slayed, researched and practiced magic, and still had enough energy to go out and have fun with Jake and Jo. Now she was getting about six hours a night. . .that is, if they didn't spend a lot of time at the Bronze.
At first Emmy tried to make her schedule a bit more reasonable, but it never worked. She couldn't just not slay. If she tried not to go out with her friends, Jake teased her unmercifully about dying an old maid. And Emmy learned quickly her mom was serious about their magic lessons. Her mom seemed driven to teach Emmy as much as she possibly could in their time together. Emmy began to suspect she was working toward some sort of goal, but every time she questioned her mom about it Willow would simply state that Emmy would need to be prepared to face any kind of evil and changed the subject. Once in awhile Emmy would try to sneak in a nap in the afternoon, then it was her dad's turn to complain that they did spend enough time together and soon she'd be going to college, and yada yada yada. So, Emmy learned to get by on the little sleep she could steal.
Today she woke around ten, dressed and headed off to Jake's house. Anya, Jo and Emmy had a baby shopping day planned and Emmy was not about to miss it. No matter how much Emmy liked her new life chuck full of the supernatural, sometimes it felt good to do normal girl things.
She walked into the Harris's house and Jo was already there sitting in the kitchen with Anya. Anya was rooting around in the refrigerator muttering to herself and Jo was sitting at the kitchen table blushing. Jo did this a lot around Aunt Anya. No matter how much time the slayer spent with her, she hadn't gotten used to Anya's no holds bared way of having a conversation.
“Pregnancy always makes me so hungry and horny. At least Xander has enough testosterone still running through his system to want to have sex with a fat woman,” Anya announced taking a piece of cold chicken out of the fridge.
“Uh, well. . .that's good,” Jo said and blushed even deeper.
“Hey guys,” Emmy greeted them. Jo looked relieved.
“Hey Em,” Anya said and grabbed her bag. “Let's get the hell out of here before one of the boys hurts themselves or needs something or thinks their life is important.” Em laughed and followed her out the door. Jo silently shook her head and followed as well.
“Where do you girls want to go today?” Anya asked when they got into Xander's minivan.
“I thought we were going to look for baby things?” Emmy said slightly confused. Anya rolled her eyes.
“I've had three children. I already have baby things,” she stated. “It's the only excuse I could think of to get your uncle off my back. Plus, I thought you two could use a break from fighting the *evil meanies.*” Anya always used a sarcastic tone when she spoke about slaying. She was always supportive of everything they did, but it was like it didn't mean the same thing to her. Emmy had always wondered why, but didn't ask. Aunt Anya would talk about nearly anything, but if she didn't offer the information you didn't ask for it. Emmy knew this from experience.
“I guess we could all use a break,” Jo said tentatively.
“Yeah,” Emmy agreed.
“OK,” Anya started the car. “Where do we go first? Baskin Robins or Victoria's Secret?” Emmy laughed and Jo blanched.
“Surprise me,” Emmy answered and they were off.
When Anya pulled the minivan into the mall it became obvious she had chosen Victoria's Secret. Anya declared they were on a mission and purposely walked toward the store. Emmy and Jo followed not really having another choice. Anya walked in and began to run her fingers across the silky fabrics of the negligees. She pulled a silk teddy out to examine it.
“The trouble with these people,” Anya announced, “is that they think only skinny women have sex. Don't they have anything with a little more room in the belly?” She wandered off to find a salesgirl and formally lodge her complaint, when Jo tugged on Emmy arm.
“Em, I'm getting out of here. I'll be at the bookstore next door. Come and get me when she's through with horny and moved onto hungry.” Before Emmy could even nod a reply Jo had disappeared through the door. Emmy shook her head and went to join Anya.
“What do you mean you don't have a maternity line?” Anya demanded of the innocent teenager who had the misfortune to be working today. “This isn't the first time I've made this complaint you know. How many more children do I have to have before you people learn?” Emmy spotted a flowing satin gown on a rack near by and grabbed it.
“Aunt Anya, wouldn't this one work?” she asked holding it up between her aunt and the salesgirl. Anya attention quickly turned. She held out the sides of the gown to examine the belly room.
“This might work,” she turned to girl. “You can leave,” she dismissed her. Anya took the gown from Emmy and headed toward the fitting rooms. “So, where did Jo run off to?” she asked.
“Oh, she just went to go see if the book she was looking for was next door. She'll be back in a minute,” Emmy answered. Anya wasn't fooled for a second but she let it slide.
“Now, that your little friend has gone AWOL, do you mind telling me what's going on with you lately?” Emmy tried her best not to react.
“What do you mean?” she asked casually.
“Stop playing dumb, it's not in your genes,” Anya said and went into the dressing room to change, but continued talking through the door. “Don't try that with me. I've known you since your father didn't want to admit there was a glimmer in his eye.” Emmy didn't know what to say. “You can't hide the circles under your eyes either, at least if you don't get some concealer of your own.” Anya popped her head up above the door to look at her. “You and Jo shouldn't share make up. The coloring is all wrong.” She ducked back down again to resume changing.
Emmy's mind was racing. Of all the people she thought would notice something the last person she worried about was Aunt Anya. She sat down on an available chair and tried to think.
“I've just been tired.” Anya opened the door and came out wearing the nightgown. “You look gorgeous,” Emmy said half because it was true and half to change the subject.
“I know,” Anya replied, “but that's not the point,” she sat down in the chair next to Emmy. “We were talking about how horrible you've been looking lately.” Emmy was taken aback. Seeing Emmy's pained expression Anya purposefully softened herself. She reached out to stroke Emmy's hair. “That's not what I meant and you know it. You're beautiful, you always have been and hopefully always will be, but I'm worried about you. For the past couple of months you have looked like you aren't getting more than a few hours sleep a night. What's going on?”
Emmy concentrated very hard on her hands.
“Don't try to hide it from me,” Anya continued. “Your mom used to pull this same kind of thing. Pushing herself so hard she almost fell over.” Emmy's eyes shot up to Anya's face when she mentioned her mother, and back to her lap again. The look was not lost to Anya.
“What does this have to do with your mother?” Anya demanded. Emmy turned white.
“How. . .what. . .I mean, nothing. Why do think it would involve her?” Emmy stammered. Anya sighed. It was obvious Emmy wasn't going to spill, and Anya wasn't going to force her. Emmy didn't need the guilt of telling a secret on top of everything else, but still. . .
“Em,” Anya began, “I know I'm not the person you come to when you want to talk about your mother or Buffy or any of the whole slaying business, but that doesn't mean I don't know what's going on.” Anya lifted Emmy's face so she could look into her eyes. “I know more than you think. . .more than you will *ever* know.” Emmy looked confused. Anya dropped her hand and rose to go back to the changing room. “I was afraid this would have to happen.”
“What is going to happen?” Emmy asked curiously. Anya looked down at the girl she had always considered her daughter.
“You'll find out soon enough. I want you to know, Em, if you need anything you can come to me. Magic, demons, stuff you can't tell your dad, anything. Just remember that.” And she disappeared behind the door leaving Emmy more confused than she had been in a long time.
Over the next couple of months Emmy took Anya up on her offer. About once a week the pair would get together, under the guise of doing something for the new baby, and talk about magic. Emmy would bring Anya the questions she didn't have time to ask her mother, and Anya would help her get ahead for the next lesson. Emmy tried to ask Anya why she knew all of this magic stuff, but Anya always refused to answer. With her tutoring Emmy's magic skills were progressing rapidly, so rapidly her mother gave her one or two nights a week off. Emmy finally got the sleep she desperately needed.
The summer months passed quickly for Emmy. Before she knew it, it was time for school again. Emmy looked forward to the new school year like she never had before. She had two best friends and a new sense of confidence she had gained from her growing magic skills. All in all she was a very happy young woman.
The first Friday after she started school was her seventeenth birthday and Uncle Xander had closed the Bronze that night for her party. It was a family gathering. Jo, Emmy and Jake involved themselves in an all out warfare involving jelly beans and candy corns. Jake's two little brothers tried to join in the game, but soon were assaulted by a newly aligned teen aged force. They all ran in and out of all the rooms pelting candy at one another and laughing. The adults sat at the bar ignoring the hubbub their children were making. Xander was adamantly explaining to Giles his future plans for the Bronze and Giles pretended to listen carefully. Anya seemed to be in her own little world lazily stroking her rapidly growing belly.
They were an unconventional family, but a family none the less. It was obvious to any casual observer they all loved and needed each other in equal amounts, but all were unaware of how complete a family gathering this really was.
On the cat walk above the Bronze's main floor two shadowy figures lingered. Buffy and Willow watched the people below with a sense of both joy and longing.
“It's good to see them all so happy,” Buffy said to Willow.
“It's wonderful. . .”
“But?” Buffy prompted. Willow didn't reply, so Buffy finished for her. “But it's hard to see them all so happy and without you.”
Willow nodded. “Yeah. It makes me wonder if it's better to leave them this way.”
“No Will, it's not,” Buffy stated.
“But look at them,” Willow said pained. “They are all doing fine without us muddling in their lives. Just look at Emmy.” She gestured down to where her daughter had one of the little boys pinned down and was tickling him. Her face was red and smiling. “Don't you even wonder if things might be better if we left them alone?”
Willow turned to Buffy. “What?”
“You heard me. That's total bullshit. That girl has blossomed since you got back into her life. She's more outgoing and alive now. She doesn't even hide behind her hair any more. Anyway, Will, it's not like there's another choice.”
“Maybe. . .”
“Fuck ‘maybe.' You know it's true.” Buffy sighed. She understood Willow's reluctance with what they had to do, but she knew it was the only way. “It's time you got down to business for real.” Willow looked longingly down at her daughter.
“She's not ready,” Willow insisted.
“She's more ready than either of us were at her age. I think you're the one whose not ready.” Willow's shoulder's sagged.
“I don't know if I can do it, Buff. How can I send her off to die?” she demanded. Buffy placed a hand on Willow's arm.
“She's NOT going to die. No one is, and you know that. We knew we were going to have to do this. It's time you told her. There's only a couple of months left.”
“I know,” Willow whispered. Buffy stood behind her friend and wrapped her arms around Willow's shoulders. Willow put her hands over Buffy's and leaned back into her.
“She'll be fine. How can she not be? She has Giles and Xander to support her. Jo and Jake as friends to fall back on. Anya's tutoring to help her along, and us.” She tightened her arms. “With that kind of support system how can she go wrong?”
“I hope you're right.”
“Of course I'm right. I'm always right,” Buffy stated matter of factly. Willow rolled her eyes and smiled.
“Whatever.” And the two drifted away.
That night after the party Willow was waiting in Emmy's bedroom.
“Happy Birthday,” Willow greeted her daughter. “Did you get anything good?”
“Hi Mom,” Emmy said, “Yeah I did. Dad gave me a new magic book. Uncle Xander gave me this cool necklace.” She got it out of a new bag and held it up for Willow's inspection.
“Jake got me this back pack, because he was sick of looking at my old one, and I got an outfit from Anya and Jo that Dad says I'm not allowed to wear out of the house.” Willow had seen the outfit at the party and happened to agree with her husband. < What was Anya thinking? Never mind that, I know what Anya's thinking. . . > Willow thought wryly. “All in all,” Emmy continued, “it was a really good birthday. Especially since it ended with seeing you.” Willow was touched, but her heart ached. She knew what she had to do.
“Em, you're birthday's not over yet.”
“You brought me a present?” Emmy looked confused. “But how?”
“Not a present like that. I'm going to give you the present of information.” Emmy's curiosity was peaked.
“What kind of information?”
“I'm going to tell you the story of how Buffy and I died. The whole story.” Emmy was silent. She had always wanted to hear this directly from her mother, but never dreamed she would.
“OK.” Emmy sat down on the bed next to her mom. At seeing Emmy's eager face Willow rose and started to pace.
“It's a little complicated, so just hear me out.”
“OK,” Emmy said again, watching her mother intently. Willow avoided her gaze.
“You know about the Hellmouth, right?”
“Sure,” Emmy nodded, “Uncle Xander told me about it after we all found out about Jo. It's an opening into the demon dimension. Your senior year of high school some psyco-looney tried to open it and you and Dad, Uncle Xander and Buffy all worked together to stop it. That's why we they built a new school the year you guys graduated, because you blew it up stopping the bad guy.”
Willow nodded, “Yes, that's all true. What Xander didn't tell you is that wasn't the first time some one tried to open the Hellmouth or the last. After awhile it became obvious we needed to find some way to close it permanently, but your dad and I could never figure out a way.” Willow stopped for second to gather herself. “Then when you were about two years old Buffy and I got a visit from what Angel called the ‘Powers That Be.”
“Angel, Buffy's old boyfriend?” Emmy asked.
“‘Powers That Be.' That's pretty corny.” Willow smiled.
“I know we should have thought of a better name for them years ago, but that's not the point. The Powers That Be are beings that live in between the different dimensions and guide the destinies of those who live in them.”
“Well. . .sort of. No one is really sure how involved they get in our lives.”
“So why did they get involved when they did?” Willow took a deep breath.
“They decided demons were gaining too much power in this dimension and if they Hellmouth closed the balance would be returned. So, they told me and Buffy how to close the Hellmouth.”
“Why you?” Emmy asked.
“To do the ritual to close the Hellmouth you need a powerful witch and a slayer. The witch performs the ritual and the slayer serves as a symbol in that ritual as a bridge between the dimensions. They told us the force of spell would kill us both.”
“Then why did you do it?” Emmy demanded with disbelief. “Especially if you knew you were going to die.” Willow finally stopped pacing and sat down next to her daughter.
“I know it's hard to understand, but we thought it was worth the sacrifice to make the world safer.”
“But it's not safer! We are fighting evil all the time!” Emmy was close to tears. < Had her mother given up everything for nothing? >
“The dangers you face now are nothing compared to the way it used to be. You've been slaying for months now and no one has ever tried destroyed the world. I know you might not believe it, but this much down time used to be really odd. I didn't want you to grow up in a world like that. Trust me. Things are a lot better.”
“I hope it was worth it,” Emmy mumbled not happy.
“It was,” Willow insisted, “and everything would be fine if that was the end of the story.” Emmy looked up at her.
“Unfortunately, no. It takes more than a single ritual to do something as big as close a Hellmouth. The ritual isn't finished, and it needs to be completed. . .by you.”
“What?” Emmy shouted and stood up.
“The Powers That Be told us that if we made our sacrifice, events could be set into motion that a witch and a slayer would be ready to finish the ritual exactly fifteen years after we started.” Emmy stared at her in disbelief. “You are that witch and Jo is that slayer. You need to finish what Buffy and I began.”
“No way!” Emmy shook her head. “You might have given your life to this but
I'm not! I'm not going to follow some stupid powers I don't even know to my death and leave everyone I love behind! You can't ask me!” Willow understood her daughter's resistance.
“Emmy calm down,” Willow began.
“This is NOT a time to be calm!” Willow gave Emmy a stern look and motioned for her to sit.
“You are not going to die.”
“The sacrifice is only required in the beginning of the ritual. At the end. . .” she trailed off.
“‘At the end' what?” Emmy asked still not convinced. Willow didn't answer but sat to face her daughter.
“Kessem, do you trust me?”
“Well, yeah,” she replied.
“Then trust me when I tell you that you will not die. I will not let that happen. I know this is hard for you to accept, but if you don't the consequences will be worse than you've ever dreamed.”
“Consequences?” Emmy was now getting scared. “What kind of consequences?”
“If the ritual is not completed then the Hellmouth will open, completely and forever. This world will be over run by demons and there will be no way to stop it.” Emmy was at her wit's end.
“Why did you do this to me?” she demanded.
“I know it's hard,” Willow said again gently, “But it was the only way. I'm sorry that you didn't have a say in this, but that's the way it is. You have to do this Emmy. There is no acceptable alternative. I'll guide you through it as much as I can, but you and Jo will have to perform the ritual alone. It's the only way.”
“You're not even going to be there?” Emmy was crying now.
“I will be there, but I can't interfere.”
“Then how can you guarantee we won't die?” she asked desperately.
“I would never have agreed to do this if I couldn't guarantee your safety or at least your life. I will gamble with my own life, but I would never gamble with yours or Jo's.” The insistence in her mother's voice convinced Emmy she was telling the truth. She didn't like it, but she was beginning understand it.
“What do I have to do?” she asked resigned. Willow released a breath she didn't know she was holding.
“We have already covered most of it in our lessons. Now it's only a matter of putting it all together.”
“When are Jo and I supposed to this ritual?”
“Halloween?” Emmy asked puzzled. “I thought supernatural things didn't usually happen on Halloween.”
“They don't,” Willow agreed. “That's why Buffy and I chose it. We didn't want anything trying to get out of the Hellmouth while we were trying to close it.” This made sense to Emmy. “So, we have two months to get you ready.”
“Two months,” Emmy echoed.
“I know it doesn't seem like a lot of time, but it will be enough.” Willow could sense her daughter's trepidation and fear. “I'm sorry honey,” she said sincerely. Emmy lifted her chin bravely.
“I know.” When Emmy looked at her mom she noticed the pain she was trying to hide. Willow obviously wasn't too happy about this either. For some reason that made Emmy feel better. “I love you, Mom.”
“I love you too,” Willow replied relieved her daughter had not condemned her for deciding her fate. “Never forget it,” she added.
After her birthday Emmy's life became incredibly intense. She spent every free moment studying in her room with her mother trying to prepare her for the ritual. At first Emmy tried to pretend she was living a normal life and spent time with her Dad and friends, but this quickly proved futile so she stopped. Emmy went to school, came home, brought her dinner to her room studied with her mom until the wee hours of the morning, went to bed and the next morning started again. On the weekends she would visit her Aunt Anya to get the magic supplies she couldn't get from her father and study some more. The only thing that broke the monotony was slaying, and she even ducked out of that whenever she could.
Her grades fell, her skin was whiter than usual, and not even make up in the correct shade would cover the enormous circles under her eyes. By the end of September everyone, other than Anya, was sick with concern. About once a week everyone ask Emmy was if she OK. Emmy would merely tell them she was tired, need sleep and would go to her room.
Anya, much to Emmy's surprise, came to her defense and told Giles and Xander Emmy was going through a normal teen aged girl thing and to lay off. This worked for a few weeks. Both adults tried to give Emmy her space and resigned themselves to worrying at a distance. Emmy even stopped going to the Bronze and quickly learned to ignore Jake's teasing and Jo's begging. Anya stepped into this situation as well, and told them to leave her alone and not ask questions. However, none of Anya's excuses kept anyone at bay for too long.
By the last week of October Giles was out of his mind with worry. It was a sunny Friday afternoon and he sat on the couch waiting impatiently for Emmy to come home from school. About three thirty she came through the door. She was wearing a t-shirt and jeans that had seen better days, her hair was tied back in a sloppy pony tail, and her face was whiter than Giles had ever seen it.
“Hey Dad,” she said and started to head up to her room, but Giles stopped her.
“Emmy, could you come and sit with me for a minute?” he asked.
“Sure,” Emmy shrugged, went into the living room and dropped her bag on the coffee table and sat down. She shoved her hands into her lap and concentrated on her fingers. “Was there something you wanted?”
“I wanted the chance to speak with you for a moment. We never seem to have time to talk anymore since you started spending so much time alone in your room.” Giles studied his daughter intently. Everyday she looked worse and worse. < What is happening to her? >
“I've just been tired lately,” Emmy said and shrugged again.
“You have been tired for the last month and a half,” Giles replied trying not to get upset. “Is something wrong? Are you feeling well? Are you ill?” Giles was drawing at straws trying to find something. He had asked her these questions many times before, but she had always avoided answering them. He was getting desperate. Emmy placed her hand on her father's.
“Nothing's wrong with me, Dad. I'm just tired, that's all, it's probably just a hormone thing or something,” she dismissed him.
“A hormone thing?” A horrible thought occurred to Giles. “You aren't. . .aren't pregnant? Are you?” he asked terrified. Emmy's eyes went wide.
“NO!” she nearly shouted. “I mean, no, why would you think that?” Giles rose and started to pace.
“Kessem, what am I supposed to think? You spend all of your time alone in your room, you are always exhausted, and you never tell me anything. I am watching you waste away before my eyes and there's nothing I can do, nothing you will let me do. What are you hiding from me?” Giles demanded.
Emmy looked down at her lap. Realistically she knew this was going to happen for a while now, but she still didn't know how to answer all of his questions. So she did the only thing she could think of. She stood up, slung her book bag over one shoulder and headed for the stairs.
“Kessem, you do not walk away when I am speaking to you!” her father shouted as she left. She stopped half way up the stairs, turned to him, closed her eyes and sighed.
“Dad, I know you're worried, but you'll just have to trust me. I am fine. . .just a little tired. . .and I'm not pregnant. I'm sure I'll be back to normal in a couple weeks. It'll all be OK,” and she went to her room not waiting for him to question her further.
“Get back down here this instant, Kessem Elizabeth Giles,” he called after her, but the only answer he got was the sound of her bedroom door shutting behind her.
“God damn it,” Giles muttered. He grabbed his coat and keys and headed out the door.
Upstairs Emmy rested on the back of her bed room door fighting to keep tears from her eyes. She hated this, all the secrets and lies. She wished she could tell everyone the truth, but Emmy knew that would cause them more worry than keeping them in the dark was.
“What's wrong honey?” Willow asked from her usual place on Emmy's bed.
“Oh, I just had another run in with Dad.” Emmy dropped her bag on her desk and immediately went to her closet to get out the supplies she would need for her lesson.
Willow couldn't blame her husband for being concerned. She knew how horrible her daughter looked, she just tried not to think about it. “It will all be over in a week,” she said gently.
“I know,” Emmy said. As she placed the components of the spell on the floor of her room, she attempted to work out the kinks in her neck and shoulders.
“That's it,” a voice said from behind her mother. Emmy and Willow both jumped. Buffy stood in the corner of Emmy's room, hands on hips and looking furious.
“Buffy?” Emmy said aghast. She hadn't seen Buffy since the night she had summoned her mother. < What is she doing here? >
“Yeah, it's me,” Buffy said giving Emmy a kind smile and turned to Willow. “What in the hell are you trying to do? Work her into an early grave? Well?” Willow turned bright red.
“I'm preparing her,” Willow said and Buffy shook her head.
“She's been prepared for awhile now. She should be! You've been working her day and night for weeks. She knows this damn ritual backwards and forwards.”
“But I have to be sure--”
“Sure of what?” Buffy demanded. “Sure she's sleep deprived and malnourished? Look at her! Emmy has done everything you've asked of her and hasn't bitched even a little. Give her a break, Will. She won't be able to do anything if she's exhausted.”
Willow knew she was right. She shook her head as if trying to clear her mind. “I just. . .I just. . .” she stammered. Buffy walked over to her friend and embraced her.
“I know, but now it's time for you to leave.” Willow nodded slightly and slowly faded leaving Emmy staring at Buffy still in shock at her presence. Buffy slumped her shoulders and sighed.
“I'm sorry you had to see that, Em,” she said and sat down on the bed where Willow had been before. “ But I didn't know another way to make her let up.”
“But how are you here?” Emmy asked.
“To use your mother's favorite line,” Buffy smiled, ‘I've always been here' just like your mom. There wasn't a reason for me to show up until now. I figured one dead person haunting your bedroom was enough.”
“But I don't understand,” Emmy said confused.
“I know. It's all pretty confusing, but don't worry, it will all make sense soon.”
“Why are you here now?”
“Well,” Buffy began, “Willow was getting to be a little fanatical with all of this ritual stuff, and it was starting to hurt you. I couldn't let her do that.”
“Am I really that prepared?”
“You are more prepared than I ever dreamed you be,” Buffy stated.
“Then why was Mom still pushing so hard?” Emmy continued to prod.
Buffy's expression was full of compassion. “Your mom is just worried about you, that's all. She has been for about fifteen years now. I doubt you'll ever know how hard this has been on her. If she could have done it any other way she would have. . .we both would have. You're our little girl. We don't want anything to happen to you,” Buffy voice caught in her throat. She paused for a moment to collect herself. “But lucky for us you are the most powerful witch either of us has ever seen.”
“I am?” Emmy was shocked.
“By far, baby. With your parent's how could you not be? Listen, I've really got to get back to your mom, but there are a few things I need to let you know before I go to make sure your mom doesn't have an excuse to pop up again over the next few days.”
“Well, first of all,” Buffy answered, “you need to go to the Hellmouth sometime soon with Jo to make sure you both know what to do. We don't want any surprises.”
“But I thought Jo wasn't supposed to know what was going on?” Emmy asked confused, she was beginning to get used to this feeling.
“That was then, this is now. She's going to need to know, but don't worry you won't be the one to explain things to her.” Emmy looked relieved at this.
“Then who?” She left the question hanging.
“I will. It's all part of the deal. Your mom had to prepare you, but I have to prepare Jo. I'm going to do it tonight, so you'll be able to set things up any time after that. OK?”
“OK,” Emmy answered. “What's the other thing?” Buffy smiled and rose to stand in front of her.
“The other is a little more personal. I need you to get some rest, play with your friends, and for God's sake spend some time with Giles before he has a heart attack worrying about you.”
“Yeah, pretty much. I'm serious about it, though. If I see you so much as crack a spell book in the next week I will make you regret it. Do you understand me?” Buffy asked playfully.
Emmy crossed her heart adamantly, “I promise.”
“Now , hop into bed. You can get a good night's sleep tonight and spend the rest of the weekend re-bonding.” Emmy happily laid down in her bed and pulled the covers over her.
“I'll see you soon, Em,” Buffy said as she too began to fade. “And remember,” she added as Emmy's eyes began to close, “your mother isn't the only one that loves and misses you.” Emmy was asleep before Buffy disappeared.
Giles threw open the door to the Harris's house.
“Xander!” he shouted, “Anya! Are you home?” Xander poked his head in from the kitchen.
“In here Giles. What brings you over?” he asked. Giles went into the kitchen and sat down at the table. Xander was wearing an apron and stirring a pot of spaghetti noodles.
“Emmy. What else would?” Giles hung his head. “I don't know what else to do about the girl.”
“I'm sure she's fine,” Xander said disguising his own concern. “It's probably just a teen aged thing, like Anya said before.”
“Oh, and I'm supposed to take parenting advise from your demon wife?”
“Hey,” Anya called from the door way. “So, I was a demon for awhile. Are you going to throw it up in my face forever?” She waddled into the kitchen and to taste the sauce simmering on the stove. “It's good. We're hungry,” she stated rubbing her extremely large belly.
“If you were really human you wouldn't be thinking about food at a time like this,” Giles snapped.
“At a time like what?” Anya asked a little too innocently.
“A time when my daughter is going through some sort of mental break down! You've known her since she was born. Couldn't you at least pretend to be concerned?” The vain in Giles' forehead was throbbing fiercely.
“Don't yell at me,” Anya whimpered. “I'm pregnant and you're yelling at me!” She sounded ready to sob. Anya walked as quickly as she could from the kitchen. Once outside she gathered herself remarkably quick. < Thank God this will be over in a couple weeks > she thought to herself < and all this Hellmouth business will be done too. Hopefully before Giles has an aneurysm. > And she went up to her and Xander's bedroom to find the box of Ho-Ho's she was certain she hidden there a few days ago.
In the kitchen Xander looked warily at Giles. “Nice going G-man. Was it fun to make the pregnant woman cry?”
Giles shook his head and Xander went back to his noodles. He spooned one out of the pot and threw it against the wall. It hung there for a moment before falling to the floor. “Perfect,” Xander announced.
“Xander, I don't know what to do?” Giles said quietly. “She won't talk to me. I'm at my wits end. I even called a psychiatrist this morning.”
“She's not crazy,” Xander insisted, “She's going through some teenaged stuff. Don't you remember how weird we all were then?”
“Very funny. I'm sure, one day soon, Em will wake up smiling and stop being such a recluse. I have faith in her, Giles. You need to have faith in her too.” < But I don't know how long my faith can last > Xander added to himself. < I hope she comes out of this soon. > But Xander let none of his worry show on his face and gave Giles a comforting smile. Giles failed to be comforted.
“I hope you're right,” he said. “I'll give her another week, but if nothing has changed, I'm taking her to a councilor.”
“That's reasonable,” Xander agreed. “Boys! Anya! Dinner's ready!” he hollered and turned to his worried friend. “Are you staying to eat? There's more than enough food.”
“That would be lovely,” Giles accepted wanting any excuse to keep him away from the problems lurking at his house, and spending time with Xander's boys always put him in a good mood. “Just lovely.”
That night Jo walked the streets of Sunnydale's alone. She had called Jake to see if he wanted to patrol with her, but he had a date. Jake had a date. . .the idea still wasn't settling very well. Jake was little brother material, not boyfriend. She pitied the girl silly enough to out with him. After Jake had convinced her he wasn't telling a joke, she headed over to Emmy's house. Em hadn't patrolled with her for a few weeks, but Jo thought it was worth a try. It would have been nice to spend some time alone together, just the two of them. Maybe then Jo could have figured out what was going on with her lately, but when she got to Emmy's house no one had answered the door. Jo let herself in with the key Mr. Giles had made for her for emergencies and went to Emmy's room. Jo found her sound asleep on the bed and didn't have the heart to wake her. With as tired as Em had been looking lately she obviously needed the rest.
So, Jo was out patrolling alone. It wasn't bad. . .just lonely. She started to hum to herself and walked towards the park to take a ride on one of the swings. Swinging had become a habit for her ever since that fateful day when she and Jake had went to the park after the big life change. It always seemed to help her clear her head and relieve her stress.
She kicked off and pulled her arms back to push herself high into the air. She felt the wind blow through her hair and closed her eyes, enjoying the sensation.
“I never tried swinging,” a woman's voice said below her. “Does it really work?”
Jo opened her eyes to look down at the woman. She was kind of short, blonde and very pretty. . .she was also very familiar, but Jo couldn't quite place her face. . . Abruptly Jo brought her feet to the ground stopping the swing.
“You're. . .you're. . .” she stammered.
“Buffy,” the woman said and sat down on the pea gravel in front of Jo's swing. “We met once before, but things were a little whacked out then. I wasn't sure you'd remember me.”
“I remember,” whispered Jo. < How could I possibly forget a single detail that night? > “But how are you here?”
“Everyone always wants to know that,” Buffy said as she picked at the little rocks all around her, “and there's no easy answer. Let's focus on the facts: I'm here. You're here. We need to talk.”
“Talk about what?” Jo asked.
“The Hellmouth,” Buffy answered. Jo shook her head.
“But I thought you and Em's mom closed that thing?”
“Yeah, that's what everyone thinks. The truth is we only closed it temporarily. We need you and Em to finish what we started.” Jo tried to absorb the information. Her mind was racing.
“Em knows about this. Doesn't she!” she insisted.
“You're quick,” Buffy said impressed. “That's why she's been such a hermit lately. She and Willow have been preparing for the ritual for awhile now.”
“That explains a lot.”
A thought occurred to Jo, “Since Em's obviously had to keep this a secret, why are you telling me?”
“Man, you're smart,” Buffy remarked. “I was expecting to have to give you a lot more exposition that this. Anyway, it will take both of you for the spell to work.”
“What do I have to do?”
“Nothing really. The Slayer has the easy part. Em's going to have to recite all of this stuff in Latin, burn some herbs at the right times, throw some bones around, and some other stuff I don't remember. You just have to stand where she tells you.”
“That's it?” she asked with disbelief. Buffy nodded.
“That's it. Think you can handle it?”
“I'll try,” Jo said sarcastically.
“Hey, it's not going to be that easy,” Buffy said seriously. “Some freaky stuff is going to happen. Just remember to stand your ground and you'll be fine.”
“OK,” Jo said not knowing what else to say. Then a thought occurred to her. “Didn't you and Buffy die doing this spell? Are we--?
“No, no, no,” Buffy assured her. “That only needed to happen once. You and Em will be fine. I promise.” Jo was glad to here it.
Buffy stood and wiped off the back of her pants.
“Everything's going to go down on Halloween, so I guess I'll see you again in a week.”
“You're going to be there?” Jo asked.
“With bells on,” Buffy answered smiling and turned to walk away, “with bells on.” Jo watched as she slowly faded from view. Jo stood staring for a few minutes before shaking her head.
“My life is never going to be normal again,” she said out loud.
Buffy's voice seemed to come from all around her. “No it won't,” she laughed.
Jo climbed back onto the swing and kicked off again. She definitely needed to clear her head.
The next morning Emmy awoke with a feeling she hadn't felt in quite some time: rested. She bounced smiling out of bed, dressed and headed down stairs to regain her life. She found her Dad sitting at the kitchen table reading the morning paper and sipping a cup of tea.
“Morning Daddy,” she greeted him cheerfully and kissed his cheek. Giles turned to look up at her. This young woman looked like his daughter and sounded like his daughter, but something was definitely different.
“Good morning dear,” he said a little cautiously, stunned at the sudden transformation.
“Do you have any plans today?” she asked.
“No, not really, why?”
“Well,” Emmy began giving her dad the first real smile he'd seen out of her in quite some time, “I thought we could go down to the beach with Jake, Jo, Uncle Xan, Aunt Anya and everybody. Doesn't that sound like fun?” She was positively beaming.
“That sounds wonderful,” Giles replied and allowed himself to relax.
“Cool,” Emmy jumped up and went to the phone. “I'll call everyone and they can meet us here in little bit. Is that OK?”
“Perfect.” Giles had his daughter back. He didn't know how or why, and in his joy he didn't care.
Their odd little family spent the entire day playing at the beach. The boys built sandcastles and knocked them down again. Jake caught Emmy up on all the latest gossip she had missed at school. Jo suggested things she could do with the hair, which was now in desperate need of at least a trim. Anya lounged in a huge beach chair and Xander sat at her feet, futility trying to reduce the swelling that had built up there with a massage. Giles sat back at the picnic table and took in the sights around him. It was a perfect day. Everyone was so happy and seemed without a real care in the world. He watched as his daughter went to sit by Xander on the sand at Anya's feet. She talked with them about the new baby that was due any day now with unabashed excitement. She was interrupted from her discussion of possible name for the little one when Jo and Jake sunk up behind her with sand buckets full of cold ocean water and preceded to unceremoniously dump them over her head. Emmy gasped and shook her head from side to side smacking herself in the face with her hair. In a flash she was after them threatening the pair with all sorts of embarrassment and bodily harm.
This was how things were supposed to be. < Well, not quite > Giles had to admit to himself. < If Willow and Buffy could be here it would perfect. > He could imagine his wife lounging in a chair next to Anya, her own belly large with a child of their very own. Not that Giles didn't consider Emmy by all means ‘his,' but the year after his little Kessem was born he had often fantasized of he and Willow having a child. He had thought they would have a rather large family actually, but the Hellmouth had dashed those dreams. He resigned himself to knowing how proud Willow would be if she could see her daughter now. He wished. . . He wished a lot of things, but knew there was no use in wishing for things that could not be. That only got one horribly morose and alcoholic.
His thoughts were interrupted by his soaking wet daughter throwing herself into his lap.
“Isn't this the best?” she said chest heaving from excursion. Emmy let herself snuggle into his lap. “I've missed this,” she whispered into his shirt. “I've missed you.” Tentatively Giles started to stroke his daughter's wet hair.
“And we've all missed you.”
“I'm sorry Dad,” she said looking in to his eyes, sincerely sorry. “I'll never do it again. I promise.” Giles put his arms around her and pulled her close.
“I know sweetheart.” The pair sat for a few minutes holding and comforting one another. Xander noticed the intimate exchange and ushered everyone else on a walk down the beach to search for shells.
Giles could see the group heading down the beach over Emmy's shoulder and tears came to his eyes. Emmy noticed immediately that something was wrong.
“Dad?” she asked concerned. Giles cleared his throat.
“I'm fine,” he said took a deep breathe. He was about to do something he had never done before. “I just watching Xander and his family and started thinking about your mother. It tends to get me a bit choked up.”
“What about Mom?” Emmy asked gently.
“Your mother and I used to talk at great length about adding to our family once she finished school. When I look at them, I see what might have been. Sometimes it gets quite difficult for me.” Emmy's gaze had also turned to family strolling down the beach. She watched the two boys scurrying around for shells, Jake teasing Jo, and Uncle Xan and Aunt Anya following behind holding one another's hands.
“It's hard for me too,” she admitted. “I know you loved her very much.” There was a profound sense of sadness in her voice. So much so, that Giles was concerned.
“But I have you, and couldn't ask for a greater gift.” He leaned down and placed a kiss on her nose. The pair embraced again feeding off their love for one another.
A few hours later they were ready to leave.
“I'm going to ride home with Jo, if that's OK?” Emmy asked her father.
“Sure, honey, it's fine,” he was trilled to see Emmy spend time with her friends again. “Just don't be home too late.”
“I won't,” she assured him and ran to join Jo in her car.
“We have got to talk,” Jo said before the passenger's side door was completely closed.
“I know,” Emmy agreed. “We can talk on the way home.” Just then one the back doors open and Jake sat down.
“So, what are we doing tonight?” he asked getting comfortable. Emmy and Jo exchanged a glance.
“We?” Jo said. Jake look at her appalled.
“Of course ‘we.' We haven't done anything together forever. I was beginning to get a complex. I have a fragile self image, you know.” Emmy and Jo were still looking at each other as if trying to send something telepathically. Jake crossed his arms and settled himself firmly into the seat. “Don't even think of leaving me out of the loop,” he told the two girls.
“But Jake,” Emmy started, but he cut her off.
“But nothing. You have been acting like some sort of pod person for months, and I have a sneaking suspicion Jo knows what's going on.” The look between two girls intensified. “That's it, isn't it!” Jake shouted. “I thought I was going crazy or something. Em wakes up this morning and decides to rejoin the human race, and, you, Jo have been acting secretive all day. What's going on?” They were both silent. “Don't make me force it out of you,” Jake's treat was followed by more
silence. “Fine. You asked for it.” Jake took a deep breath and began to bellow. “I'M HENRY THE EIGHTH I AM HENRY THE EIGHTH I AM I WAS MARRIED TO THE WIDOW---”
“FINE!” Jo shouted over Jake's ‘singing,' and he fell silent. “Em we might as well tell him.” Emmy wasn't convinced.
“Are you sure? I mean, they didn't mention anything about telling Jake to you, did they?”
“Who?” Jake asked and was ignored.
“No,” Jo admitted, “But they didn't tell us not to.”
“Not to tell me what?” Jake interrupted.
“*She* told me not to,” Emmy insisted.
“But *she* didn't tell me not to. So, as long as I tell him and not you,” Jo reasoned, “we're not breaking any rules.”
“But WHO?” Jake asked again.
“Plus,” Jo added, “he can back up our cover story on Halloween if we need him too. That could be useful.” Emmy could see Jo's point.
“If some one does not make sense very soon I am going to start singing again,” Jake announced. “Who told you not to tell me what?” Jo started the car and pulled out of the parking lot. The Harris's minivan and Giles' car had gotten a head start during the debate and they needed to catch up.
“Buffy and Willow,” Jo answered him, “told *Em* she wasn't supposed to tell you about me and Em finishing the spell to close the Hellmouth.” Jake sat dumbfounded for a moment.
“O-k-a-y,” he said completely confused. Jo could see his expression in the rear view mirror and couldn't help but laugh.
“Long story short. Buffy and Willow did the first half of the spell to close the Hellmouth and Em and I have to do the second half. The good news is we don't have to die to do it. Comprende'?”
“So,” Jake said still gathering his thoughts, “that's why Em has been lost in the land time forgot?”
“Yeah, she's been preparing.”
“I'm sorry I couldn't tell you,” Emmy added, “but I promised Mom I wouldn't.”
“And you won't have to die?”
“Nope,” Jo assured him. “We just have to finish the ritual and everything will be fine.”
“Then we had better start thinking of a good alibi now,” Jake reasoned completely focus on what he saw as his part in saving the world. “Because if Uncle Rupert finds out about this we'll all be grounded until the sun novas.” Jo laughed and Emmy beamed. They were a team again without lies or secrets to keep them apart.
On the way home Jake set to devising their plan. Halloween was on that Friday and their school was, conveniently, having a Halloween dance. They would all pretend they were going to it. After they changed into suitable non-dance like clothes they would take Jo's car, who they'd say was driving them there, and go to the sight of the old high school. Em and Jo would perform the ritual and Jake would stand watch outside. After the spell was over they would change back into their dress up clothes, make an appearance at the dance just in case, and be home in time to root through his little brothers' candy. It was a perfect plan, completely flawless.
They all tried to spend the next week as if nothing was wrong. They went to school, Em and Jo shopped for dresses, and Jake made his excuse to the unfortunate girl he had already asked to go to the dance with him. No one suspected a thing and everything was ready to go. That was until they went to Jake house after school on Friday.
“Mom,” Jake called as they came into the house. “We're home and wanting candy.”
“Jake,” they heard Anya's strangled cry from Jake's parents' bedroom, “thank the gods you're home! Is Jo with you?” Anya sounded almost panicked. They dropped their school bags and ran to the room to find Anya hunched over the bed breathing heavily with the cordless phone in her hand.
“Mom! What's wrong?” Jake asked concerned. Anya gave him a weary forced smile.
“Nothing. My water just broke and you lame excuse for a father isn't answering his god damn phone.”
“What!” all three shouted.
“I'm in labor,” Anya spelled it out for them. “I need to go to the hospital.” Anya tensed a hand over her stomach and started exhaling in small puffs. The contraction subsided quickly. She looked up to see them all staring at her dumbfounded. She sighed. “Jo go back and start your car,” she ordered. “Jake run to the Bronze and tell your father to meet us at the hospital. Emmy get my bag. It's in the closet.” Jake ran out of the room like a shot but the two girls still stood still. “Come on ladies, let's go.” Instantly they both sprung into life. Jo followed Jake out of the room and Emmy went to the closet.
“Do we have time?” Emmy asked panicked.
“Yes, we have time,” Anya tired to reassure her.
“Are you sure?” Anya shot her a humbling glare.
“I've already had three children. I know how this goes. Trust me.” Emmy nodded and retrieved the bag and went to help Anya get off the bed. Slowly they went to the front door to find Jo waiting in the driveway.
Jo got Anya to the hospital in record time. She was quickly admitted and they headed up to the maternity floor. A nurse took Anya to her birthing room leaving Emmy and Jo in the waiting area. Emmy went to a phone to call her dad, told him to pick up the boys per Anya's instructions, and they waited for the rest of the troops to arrive. Xander and Jake arrived what seemed like hours later (even though it was only thirty minutes) followed quickly by Giles and Jake's brothers. Xander joined Anya in the birthing room and everyone else busied themselves keeping the boys occupied.
About two hours later an exhausted but exuberant Xander burst into the waiting room. He stood in the doorway a smile firmly plastered on his face.
“Well. . .” Giles prompted. Everyone stood nearly bursting with anticipation.
“It's a girl!” Xander announced. “Both mamma and baby are perfect.” The room was suddenly full with the sounds of jubilation.
“Can we see them?” Emmy asked after the noise had settled. Xander nodded emphatically.
“Anya wants to see all of you.” Xander led them back into a small white room where a very tired but happy looking Anya held a wrinkled and red little person in a pink blanket. Xander walked in and stood behind his wife. He leaned down to kiss her lovingly on forehead, then began to gently stroke the fine blonde hairs on his new daughter's head. He had never been so happy.
Everyone else stopped just inside the doorway.
“It's alright,” Anya reassured them in a quiet tone. “Come on in.” All three Harris boys needed no other encouragement and scurried to sit on the bed around their mother. Still hesitant Giles, Emmy and Jo slowly crept the rest of the way into the room.
“Guys,” Xander addressed his sons, “I want you to meet your new little sister.” Anya pulled the blanket from the baby's face and lowered her so they could all get a good look. Xander's gaze went from his daughter to Giles. “Rose Summer Harris.”
Giles' eyes went wide. “What?” he said.
Anya looked over at Giles' shocked expression and smirked. “Xander and I decided a long time ago that if we had a daughter we would name her after the friends we lost.” Emmy put her hand in her dad's and leaned against him.
“That is so sweet,” she gushed. Giles could not find the words to express how touched he was.
“What?” Jo whispered to Emmy. It took a second for her to understand Jo's confusion.
“My mom's maiden name was Rosenberg and Buffy's last name was Summers. Uncle Xan and Aunt Anya named the baby after them,” she explained.
“Oh,” Jo said understanding. “That is really sweet.”
“Yes, it is,” said Giles finally finding his voice. “I can't think of a better way to honor them both.” Giles walked over to Xander and embraced him. “Thank you.” Xander returned the hug.
“It was the least we could do,” he said and wiped a tear that was threatening to form in his eye. “I hope she lives up to her name's sake.”
Giles looked down at the tiny bundle. “I have no doubt she will.”
Anya was glowing. As far as she was concerned there had never been a better Halloween. Her gaze fell outside her window to see the sky turning the burnt red and orange colors of a fall sunset. Anya's eyes went wide. < IT WAS HALLOWEEN!!!!!! >
“Jo! Emmy!” she nearly yelled. “Both of you. Leave. Now.” Jo and Emmy looked at her confused.
“Huh,” Emmy said. < Had they done something to offend her? > Anya gave up all hope of being subtle. The sun was setting she didn't have time.
“The sun in almost down. On Halloween. Leave. Now.” Emmy and Jo both went white.
“FUCK!” Jo said and with that they streaked out of the room, down the stairs and out of the hospital. They had to get to the Hellmouth. Luckily everything they needed was in the trunk of Jo's car. They had about a half and hour to get there and set everything up. They would have just enough time. . .if they didn't pay attention to stop signs or speed limits.
As Jo's car sped through Sunnydale, Giles stared in disbelief at Anya.
“What in the hell was that all about? Emmy didn't have the chance to hold the baby yet and you're shooing her out of the room. Why did they both have to leave?”
“They just did,” Anya tried to dismiss him.
“Yeah,” Jake spoke up. “They had something they had to do.” Jake looked as if he was going to say more, but a look from his mother silenced him.
“What could they have to do that's more important than being here?” Xander asked more than a little hurt. He was looking forward to spending the evening watching everyone he loved and cared about bond with his new baby daughter.
“Yes, quite,” agreed Giles. “What did they have to do at sunset on Halloween?” < Sunset on Halloween. > That was familiar to Giles some how. < But nothing ever happens on Halloween. . .nothing accept. . .oh my lord. > Roughly Giles pulled Jake off the bed by the collar of his shirt.
“What do they have to do at *sunset on Halloween*?” Giles demanded. Jake was terrified. He had never seen his uncle loose his temper--ever.
“Umm. . . uhhh. . .”
“Giles put down my son!” Xander yelled. “What in the hell do you think you're doing?” All of the loud voices obviously disturbed Rose because she started to cry.
“Quiet down all of you,” Anya hissed, “You're upsetting the baby.” But Giles would not be swayed. He started to shake Jake desperately.
“What do they have to do! What do they have to do?” Xander was about to tear his son from Giles' grasp when Jake spoke.
“They went to finish the spell on the Hellmouth,” he panted.
“What!” Xander said aghast, “They did what?”
“Went to finish the spell to close the Hellmouth,” Anya repeated for her son who was rapidly loosing oxygen thanks to Giles' tight grip. “They're not going to die,” she continued, “So, you can put Jake down. Everything's going to be fine.”
“Fine?” said Xander. Giles released Jake.
“My daughter is off trying to repeat the spell that killed my wife and you are saying everything's fine!” Giles screamed at Anya. The baby's crying grew louder. Giles ran out of the room with Xander on his heals.
“Men,” Anya muttered as they left and rocked her daughter until she stilled. “At least now will things will be a little more even.”
Xander climbed into Giles' car right after him.
“What are you doing here?” Giles demanded.
“I'm going with you.”
“But why?” asked Giles
“You aren't the only one that lost them,” Xander stated. “I can't go through that again.” Giles nodded understanding and started the car.
Emmy and Jo raced into the mass of rumble that had once been a high school. (Emmy had once asked her Dad why the city hadn't torn the deserted half a building down to build something productive. He shook his head and told Emmy if she had been there when it blew up she would understand why no one ever wanted to go back. . .for any reason.) They ran along their laid out path to the room that had once been the library. It consisted of a huge ragged hole surrounded by dusty burnt books.
Emmy dumped out her bag of supplies near one side of the Hellmouth's opening and Jo went to stand at the other. Emmy started to place her circle of power as quickly as she could.
“Can I help?” Jo asked. She knew they were running out of time.
“No,” Emmy snapped, “You'll mess it up. Everything has to be perfect.” Jo remained still anxiously waiting for Emmy to finish. Soon everything was in place and the candles were lit. Emmy sat down in the center of the circle in a lotus position and put her hands palm up on her knees. She closed her eyes for a moment to collect herself.
“Are you ready?” she asked Jo.
“Not really,” Jo answered honestly. “Are you?”
“No, but we don't have a choice.” She closed her eyes again and began to chant. Jo focused all of her attention on Emmy. She watched her friend methodically burn incense and herbs and place them at different points of the circle.
For a few moment nothing happened. Emmy continued to chant entranced. Then the earth beneath them began to shake. Jo had to fight to keep her footing, but Emmy was unfazed. Her head swayed from side to side completely entrance. A glow began to fill the giant hole and soon the blinding light had filled the room. Jo partially shielded her eyes and squinted to keep from being blinded, and as much as she could kept her eyes focus on Emmy..
Emmy eyes darted open. As if hypnotized she stood and approached the edge of the Hellmouth still chanting. Mirroring Emmy's movements, Jo stretched her arms out in front her as if trying to touch Emmy on the other side. The rumbling of the earth grew more intense. Ghostly figures of demons streamed from the Hellmouth with unearthly screams. The two girls stared into one another's eyes trying to block out everything else in the room.
Just then Giles and Xander ran into the room and were shoved back by the force of the power. Giles struggled to regain his footing and reach his daughter, but Xander held him back.
“Let me go!” Giles cried struggling against him.
“No! You can't interfere,” Xander yelled over the sound of the demons. “If you break Em's concentration now it will kill them both.” Giles collapsed onto the ground with Xander still holding him. They could nothing now but watch.
As the demons grew louder so did Emmy's chanting. Jo struggled to keep focused as the demons flowed all around her. Emmy's voice took on a triumphant crescendo and she slowly lifted her arms above her head with Jo following her motions. Emmy screamed out the last words of the spell. . . .
Everything stopped. In an instant the light and the demons disappeared. Emmy's eyes closed and she stumbled several feet back from the sheer force of the spell's completion. She slumped onto the floor in exhaustion. Giles ran and scooped her up into his arms.
“Did we do it?” she murmured her eyes still closed. She didn't have the energy to open them. Giles stroked her face thanking every God he had ever read about that his daughter was still alive. Tears streamed down his cheeks. “Did we close it?”
“Yes, I believe you did,” Giles whispered and held her tight. He caught sight of Xander across the room who was white raced and staring.
“Where's Mom?” Emmy asked. “She said she'd be here.”
“Uh. . .Em?” Jo said sounding more than a little panicked pointing where Emmy had once stood. It took great effort, but Emmy raised her face to look where she was pointing. Lying on the floor were Willow and Buffy completely still.
Emmy reached out her hand, “Mom?”
Willow slowly shook her head and looked at her daughter and husband.
“Did we do it? Did we finish the spell for you?” Emmy asked. Willow didn't respond. Her eyes were focused on Giles.
“Will. . .Willow,” Giles stammered. He felt as if all of the blood had been drained form his body. He silently prayed he wasn't dreaming.
“You can see them?” Emmy asked her father awe struck.
“Willow,” Giles said again. Emmy looked at her mother. She was exactly as she had appeared over the last months. Bright shoulder length red hair, perfect pale skin, wearing the same soft sweater and bright skirt, looking not a day over twenty five. . .but something was different. She seemed more. . .more solid somehow. < It can't be > she thought < Is she actually. . . > Emmy wouldn't let herself continue the thought. Her gaze ran to father to her mother and then back again. Her parents focus never left one another's eyes.
Giles gently released his daughter and slowly, ever so slowly moved toward his wife, terrified at any second he would wake up or she would disappear. They crept toward one another without bothering to stand and tentatively reached out their hands. After what seemed like an eternity their fingers touched. Willow burst out into tears.
“It worked,” she managed to say through her sobs. Giles instantly covered the remaining distance between them and enveloped his wife in a bonecrushing embrace. He drew back far enough to look into her face.
“Willow?” Giles asked through his tears. “Is it really you?”
“Yes,” she laughed joyfully, “it's really me. I'm back.” Giles brought his lips down to his wife's and kissed her for the first time in fifteen years. They kissed and sobbed into each other's arms, unwilling to let go of the miracle.
Emmy was completely confused. She turned to look at Jo, who was now looking at the other side of the room. Emmy followed her gaze to see Xander and Buffy in one another's arms. They were both crying as well.
Emmy gathered the little strength she had left and crawled over to her parents. She squeezed in between them. All three held one another and cried out of happiness.
Not knowing what else to do, Jo plopped herself on the ground and dissolved into tears as well. It was just too much.
Jake stumbled into the room his chest heaving from his run. His mind tried to take in the scene around him, but it wasn't working.
“What did I miss?”
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