Aurelia walked into a hallway of the Emergency Room at Sunnydale General Hospital wearing a wool cap and a long, dark coat. She averted her eyes from the doctors and nurses as she searched for her friends. On the wall, she found a slot with a few patient histories and checked the names on them. There were none there that she was interested in and moved on. She checked another series of slots for names on paperwork, but found nothing. Sighing, she moved down the hall and turned down the left passageway.
Behind her, Xander walked up and touched her on the back. She gasped and spun around. "Xander!" She hugged him tightly. "I was so worried, I didn't know if you were ok. The police were…."
"Yeah, I, I heard them chase you out." Xander said. "I was just coming out of it." He held up his arm to show her it was in a cast. "Souvenir."
"Oh Xander." Aurelia gently ran her fingers down the cast. "What about the others? Are they ok?" He suddenly grabbed her in another tight hug. Aurelia went along with it, not understanding why. When she looked up, she saw two officers and hid her face in Xander's shoulder while they headed down the hall in the direction that she had come in. "Thank you for that." Xander didn't smile back. "What is it?"
Xander took her hand in his good one and led her down the hall. He turned into a room where Aurelia saw Willow lying unconscious in a hospital bed. She had a bandaged cut on her forehead and a black eye, but otherwise seemed unhurt. "The doctor said it was head trauma." Xander said. "She can wake up at any time, but, um…. the longer it lasts, the…. less likely it is."
"I never should've let her try to do that curse." Aurelia said. "Angelus must've known." She reached up to Willow's face and brushed back a few stray hairs. "Where are her parents?"
"With relatives in Phoenix. I gave them a call. They're…. they're getting on a plane back."
"Does Oz know?"
"Oh, man. Um…. I didn't even think. Um…. I'll call him." They heard footsteps behind them and turned quickly to see who it was. Cordelia walked in and Xander went over to her. "Hey."
"Hey." Cordelia said. They kissed and held each other close for a long moment. "How is she? The doctor told me that…."
"Yeah. We're, uh…. still waiting."
"Are you ok?" Aurelia asked.
"I ran." Cordelia said. "I think I made it through three counties before I realized nobody was chasing me. Not too brave."
"It was the right thing to do."
"Did Giles keep up with you?" Xander asked.
"I didn't see Giles." Cordelia said.
"He's not in the hospital?" Aurelia asked, panic starting to seep in.
"No." Xander said.
"Oh god…." Aurelia headed for the door. "Stay here. I'm going to try to find him."
"Call us and keep us updated."
"I will." Aurelia ran out and headed for Giles' apartment. The door was ajar, so she went in. "Giles! Giles!" She looked around, but didn't see him.
Behind her, someone came down the stairs from the loft. "I don't think he's here."
"Who are you?"
"What are you doing here?"
"I'm waiting for you."
"Cause I-I-I need a date to the prom."
Aurelia let out a growl and took the two steps over to him, grabbed him by the throat, and shoved him up against the wall. "I have had an extremely bad day. If you have information worth hearing, then I am grateful for it. If you're gonna crack jokes, then I'm going to pull out your ribcage and make you wear it as a hat." She let go.
"Hello to the imagery! Very nice. It wasn't supposed to go down like this. Nobody saw you coming back. You weren't supposed to come back. I figured this for Cassius's big day. But I thought he was here to stop Acathla, not to bring him forth. Then you two made with the smoochies, you got your memories back after a hundred years of nothing…. now he's a creep again. Now, what are you gonna do? W-what are you prepared to do?"
"Whatever I have to."
"Maybe I should ask, what are you prepared to give up?"
"You don't have anything useful to tell me. What are you, just some immortal demon sent down to even the score between good and evil?"
"Wow. Good guess." He sighed. "Look, you're all you've got in this now. That's the point."
"The sword isn't enough. You gotta be ready. You gotta know how to use it!"
Aurelia walked out the door and slammed it behind her. She was headed back to her house to see if Giles was there waiting for her. She walked through a park with her head down, not thinking about the fact that she was wanted for a murder she didn't commit. A car drove by as she stepped into the street. It was a police car. She didn't run the hope that the officer wouldn't notice her. He did, though, and turned on his lightbar and let the siren give a brief loud tone. He pulled the car aside and got out. Aurelia ignored him and kept walking right past the front of the vehicle.
The officer drew his gun. "Hold it right there! Put your hands on your head! Do it!"
Aurelia stared at his gun and began to raise her hands. Suddenly the gun was kicked out of the officer's hands. He got kicked in the face and in the shin, then grabbed and thrown onto the hood of his car, where he lay unconscious.
"Hello, cutie." Spike said, smiling. He took a step toward her and she immediately decked him twice in the face. He grabbed her by the shoulders to restrain her, but she brought her knee up into his gut. "Now, you hold on a second!" He gave her a good shove away from himself and she reached into her coat and pulled out a stake. Spike jumped back and held up his hands in surrender. "Hey! White flag here. I quit."
Aurelia stared at him incredulously. "We're mortal enemies. We don't get time-outs."
"You want to go around, pet, I'll have a gay old time of it. You want to stop Angel…. we're gonna have to play this a bit differently."
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about your ex, pet. I'm talking about putting him in the bloody ground."
"This has got to be the dumbest trick you vampires have ever thought up."
"He's got your Watcher. Right now, he's probably torturing him."
"What do you want?"
"I told you. I want to stop Angel. I want to save the world."
"Ok. You do remember that you are a vampire, right?"
"We like to talk big. Vampires do. 'I'm going to destroy the world.' That's just tough guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world." Spike went over and pulled a cigarette pack from the officer's shirt pocket. "You've got…. dog racing, Manchester United. And you've got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It's all right here. But then someone comes along with a vision. With a real…. passion for destruction. Angel could pull it off. Goodbye, Picadilly. Farewell, Leicester Bloody Square. You know what I'm saying?"
"Yes, fine, I get it. You don't love Angelus. Why would you ever come to me? You helped kill my friends and family one hundred years ago. Why should I help you?"
"I want your sister back. I want it like it was before he came back. The way she acts around him…."
"You're pathetic." He punched her in the face and she punched him right back. "I lost a friend tonight!"
"I wasn't in on that raiding party."
"And I may lose more! The whole earth may be sucked into Hell, and you want my help because your girlfriend is stuck on Angelus? Well, let me take this opportunity to not care."
"I can't fight them both alone, and neither can you!"
Aurelia punched him hard in the jaw, making him flinch. He straightened back up and felt his jaw, checking for blood. "I hate you."
"And I'm all you've got."
The police officer began to stir on the hood of the car. Aurelia sighed. She knew he was right. "All right. Talk."
"I'm just gonna kill this guy." Aurelia cleared her throat loudly. "Oh, right."
"Shall we go inside please?"
They left as the police officer began to wake up and feel his head.
Aurelia and Spike eyed each other as they headed up the walk to her house. Just then, Joyce pulled up in her Jeep and saw them from her open window. "Buffy?" She shouted, stopping the car and getting out. "Where have you been? Are you ok? The police were here! I've been looking for you!"
"Mom, let's go inside and I can explain." Aurelia said gently.
"Who is this man? Who are you? Are you ok?"
"Mother! I'm ok."
"Buffy, terrible things have happened. What were you doing?"
"What, your mum doesn't know?" Spike asked.
"That I am, uh…. Joining a theatre group." Aurelia lied.
"Right." Spike said before grinning broadly. "She does a hell of a Juliet."
"Hmm. And, uh, what do you do?" Joyce asked.
"Well, I'm Romeo of course."
"Ha! He wishes! Why don't we go inside and we can talk about this?" Aurelia suggested. She started toward the door and Spike followed.
"I'm, I'm not sure how I feel about this." Joyce said.
Aurelia turned around to face her mother and suddenly a vampire rushed across the porch, pushed Aurelia and Spike aside, and jumped down the steps at Joyce. She screamed and backpedaled. Aurelia grabbed the vamp by the shoulders from behind and forced him around to face Spike. She pulled out a stake while Spike gave him a series of punches to the face. Spike's last blow sent the vampire spinning around and staggering away. Aurelia thrust the stake into his chest and he instantly crumbled to ash. Joyce just stared in shock.
Spike stepped down from the porch and looked at the pile of ash. "One of Angel's boys."
"Probably watching me. Or you." Aurelia said.
"Yeah. He won't get a chance to tattle on us now."
"Buffy…. what…. is going on?"
Aurelia looked at her mother for a moment, exchanged a look with Spike, and realized that she had to tell her mother. With a sigh, she stepped up to her mom and hoped against hope for understanding. "Mom…. I'm…. a Vampire Slayer." Joyce just blinked her eyes, raised her brows, and shook her head in complete dismay.
"I'm ok, Aurelia, really." Willow said to Aurelia. They were on the phone after Xander had called and left a message that Willow was awake. "I mean, I don't feel good, but…. I'm awake, and I know my name and who's President and how many fingers, so they don't think my brain got mushed at all."
"Thank God. I'm so sorry I can't be there." Aurelia said.
"I know. I'm sorry I didn't get to cure Angel."
"Please don't be. It just…. It wasn't meant to be. I know the only way I'm going to get him back is to kill Angelus. Then I'll finally die, too, and not dread the next lifetime."
Willow didn't want to talk about her best friend dying, so she changed the subject. "Any luck finding Giles?"
"I got a…. Well, let's just call it a lucky break."
"You really wouldn't believe me if I told you." Aurelia sighed. "May I talk to Xander, Willow?"
"Yeah?" Xander said after a moment of silence on the phone.
"Xander, Angelus and the others are staying outside town. Do you remember that strange-looking mansion you showed me that time?"
"On Crawford Street. Sure. That makes sense. What's the drill?"
"I'm going to hit it come daybreak."
"You'll need backup."
"No. Please stay there. I'll be fine."
"Do you, um…. do you think Giles is still alive?"
"I think he is. I just wish he was here to tell me what to do."
"See ya soon, Auri?"
Aurelia sighed. "Of course." She didn't want to upset her friends anymore than they already were. She hung up and walked into the living room with her arms crossed. Her mother and Spike both stood up.
"I-is Willow all right?" Joyce asked.
"Yes. She's fine." Aurelia looked at Spike. "All right, talk. What's your deal?"
"Simple. You let me and Dru skip town, I help you kill Angel." Spike said.
"Angel? Your boyfriend?" Joyce asked.
"Forget about Drusilla. She doesn't walk out of that place."
"There's no deal without Dru."
"She killed me and she killed Kendra. My sister deserves to be at peace, not this monster he turned her into to torment me!"
"Your sister?" Joyce asked.
Spike ignored her. "Dru bagged a Slayer? She didn't tell me! Hey, good for her!" Aurelia stared at Spike and he lost the smile. "Though not from your perspective, I suppose."
"I cannot believe I invited you into my house."
"Buffy, I'm confused. You don't have a sister and you're not dead."
"It's too long of a story, mom and we don't have time."
"So you didn't kill that girl."
"Of course not."
"Did she explode like that man out there?"
"She was a Slayer."
"Like what you are."
Aurelia gave her a thin smile and a nod. She didn't have time to deal with any of this. "Look." Spike pulled her aside. "This deal works for me one way. Full stop. Me and Dru for Angel."
"Honey, a-are you sure you're a Vampire Slayer?"
Spike ignored Joyce again. "I'll take her out of the country. You'll never hear from us again, I bloody well hope."
"Very well." Aurelia said. "Get back to the mansion and make sure Giles is all right."
"I-I mean, have you tried not being a Slayer?"
"Mom!" Aurelia cried. She turned back to Spike. "Be ready to back me up when I make my move." He walked around her toward the door. "If Giles dies…. she dies." He gave her a final stare and headed out the door.
"It's because you didn't have a strong father figure, isn't it?" Joyce said.
"Oh for god's sake! It's just fate, mother. I'm the Slayer. Please accept it."
"We should call the police."
"No. We are not calling the police."
"Well, now that we know that you're innocent, it's…."
"You thought I was guilty?"
"No, I didn't think that. It's just…. now we have proof."
"There's no proof! We have my word. That's not proof!"
"Look, I am sure that they will understand."
"If you get them involved, you will get them killed. I can't have that on my head!"
"Well, you're not gonna hurt them, are you?"
"I'm a Slayer." Her mother picked up the phone and Aurelia slapped her hand onto the switch hook. "The police are not equipped to fight demons. It's my job. I have to do it."
"Do what? Buffy, what is happening?"
Aurelia sighed. "Just have another drink." She turned away from her mother and started to walk off.
Joyce threw her glass aside in anger and it broke on the floor. "Don't you talk to me that way! You don't get to just dump something like this on me and pretend it's nothing!"
"I'm very sorry, but I don't have time for this."
"No! I am tired of 'I don't have time' or-or 'you wouldn't understand.' I am your mother, and you will make time to explain yourself."
"How much more is there to explain! I am a Vampire Slayer."
"Well, I just don't accept that!"
"Open your eyes! What do you think has been going on for the past two years? The fights, the weird occurrences. How many times have you washed blood out of my clothing and you still haven't figured it out?"
"Well, it stops now!"
"Yes. Yes, it does. Because I'm going to kill Angelus and finally be at peace! I've spent 200 years coming back and dreading it every time. This lifetime I have the power to end it and I will! Goodbye, Joyce. It was pleasant having you as a mother."
"No. This is insane. Buffy, you need help."
"My name is not Buffy. It's Aurelia. And I'm sorry this has come upon you, but I do not have time to coddle you. I have to go!"
"No. I'm not letting you out of this house."
"You really cannot stop me."
"Oh yes I…" Joyce grabbed Aurelia's arms, but Aurelia shoved her back into the island, making her knock over several things. She headed for the door, opened it, and stepped out. "You walk out of this house, don't even think about coming back!"
Aurelia rolled her eyes and kept walking. It really hurt her to hurt her mother like that, but it was what had to be done. She couldn't afford to keep herself attached to anyone now. Once Angelus died, she would finally be free.