Forever, That's The Whole Point

Chapter 17

Chapter 17

Aurelia sat in her little apartment in Los Angeles and stared out the window. She had come here looking to lose herself. Instead, she'd gotten a job at a law firm as a receptionist. On her breaks, she spent her time researching spells on the internet and when she was not working, she would scour magic stores for anything and everything she could find. She knew there had to be a way to get Cassius back from that hell dimension. She also knew that she should probably go talk to Giles, but she couldn't face him. Because of her, the love of his life had been killed and then he'd been tortured at the hands of her killer.

They all probably thought she was dead anyway. It was what she'd planned on happening once Angelus had been killed. So, when she and Angelus had both disappeared, that was what they should've assumed. And as lonely as she was now, it was better this way for them. They wouldn't be in anymore danger and they could get on with their lives.

"Summers, Miss Morgan would like to see you in her office." Lilah Morgan's assistant said from the elevator.

Aurelia didn't like the woman she was expected to go see, but she bit her tongue and followed the assistant into the elevator. Between Lilah and Lindsey McDonald, she couldn't decide which one she hated more. They were both motivated lackeys who would do anything to make it to the top and rub elbows with the senior partners. Why Lilah even wanted to see Aurelia was beyond her.

Aurelia was forced to sit in a waiting room until Lilah was free to see her. After twenty minutes, she was finally called in. Lilah stood by the windows staring out at the city. Aurelia walked in and glared at the woman's back as she sat down.

"There's a printout on the desk I'd like you to read." Lilah said.

Aurelia rolled her eyes and picked up the printout. She scanned it and her eyes nearly fell out of her head. In the middle of the page was typed in bold font:

Two Lovers Venus souls twined as one

Neither death nor time

Nor the destruction of this very world

Can keep their souls from each other

One born of Darkness but touched by Light

One born of Light but touched by Darkness

Within the time of Light and Darkness

The Eternal Lovers shall be torn apart

And the End of Days shall be brought forth

Whence they come together again

"What is this?" Aurelia asked.

"It's a prophecy we've come across."

"A prophecy?"

"Please don't act dumb, Aurelia. We know who you are."

"Who's 'we'?"

"Wolfram and Hart. We not only deal with the human world, we also deal with the supernatural world." Lilah moved over to her desk and sat down. "That prophecy is why you didn't get your memories back until a few months ago. Your gypsy grandmother found it and managed to keep you hidden from Angelus. It was your sister Drusilla they didn't count on. So when Angelus killed you that time, they not only brought back your Cassius, they kept you from coming back…. Well, getting your memories back anyway. If you were to ever return somehow, Cassius's soul would be returned to its purgatory. You two cannot exist together or, according to this prophecy, you'll manage to destroy the world."

Aurelia stood up. "I don't believe this." She threw the paper down on Lilah's desk and headed for the door.

"This prophecy may or may not be true, but do you really want to put it to the test just to get your boyfriend back?"

Aurelia stopped and turned to look at the lawyer. "You don't understand. No one does."

"Maybe it just wasn't meant to be. You two had your turns on the merry-go-round, now the tickets are expired."

"That's not how it works."

"As long as he's a vampire, that's how it works."

"Then I'll bring him back and…."

"Kill him to set his soul free? Could you really do that? I mean, after all, the little fledgling witch's spell worked, didn't it? It wasn't Angelus you sent to hell, was it?"

"How do you know that?"

"It's my business to know that."

"Maybe you're sticking your nose where it doesn't belong."

"And maybe that nose is attached to someone who can help you out."

Aurelia snorted. "You just said that we're not supposed to exist together."

"I never said that I agreed with it. I said that according to that prophecy, you two weren't supposed to be together."

"Why would you ever want to help me?"

"Maybe I'm a sucker for a good love story."

Aurelia rolled her eyes and started for the door again. "And maybe I'll sprout wings and fly away."

"It could happen with the right spell."

"Right, and I'm sure you're the one that can help me."

"Not me personally, no. I'm just a lawyer. But there're people here who know more about magic and spells than your entire Kalderash clan ever did. Interested?"

"Let's pretend that I am…. What would this cost me? You don't do anything for free."

"This case is pro-bono. The senior partners wouldn't have it any other way."

"Why?"

"I wouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. I'd just take the horse."

Aurelia followed Sirk into his library-like office and watched him pick up one of the four books displayed on a table. He whispered something to it and opened the book. Right in front of her eyes, words and symbols started appearing on the pages.

"We'll work with this one today and see what we can glean from it." Sirk said, taking the book to his desk.

"Sirk, you and your team have been 'gleaning' for three weeks now and you haven't found anything." Aurelia said. "I'm beginning to think you can't help me."

"I'm offended Aurelia. We've come across plenty of things to help, but they're much too dangerous. I'm trying to find a safer way to bring back your Cassius. You wouldn't want the spell to work, but you've ended up dead because of it, now would you?" Aurelia rolled her eyes and sat down. "Here. You read through this and see if you find anything. I'll head back and see what else my team has come up with." Sirk patted his chair and waited for Aurelia to get up and sit down it.

Once he was gone, Aurelia started to read the book. After a moment, she decided to try something. Sirk had never left her alone with the books before and Aurelia had a sneaking suspicion that that was on purpose. She held the book up and whispered, "Eternal Lovers Prophecy in English." The words from Sirk's called up book disappeared and the prophecy from Lilah's printout appeared. Only there was more to it. "What in the…."

Two Lovers Venus souls twined as one

Neither death nor time

Nor the destruction of this very world

Can keep their souls from each other

One born of Darkness but touched by Light

One born of Light but touched by Darkness

Within the time of Light and Darkness

The Eternal Lovers shall be torn apart

And the End of Days shall be brought forth

Whence they come together again

In the moment the Eternal Circle should be restored

The End of Days shall be no more

Wolfram and Hart had known there was more to the prophecy. And that part held the key to stopping the End of Days. Why hadn't they told her the last part? Were they really trying to bring Cassius back? What did they stand to gain by bringing Cassius back and keeping the last part of the prophecy a secret?

She decided in that moment that Wolfram and Hart would not be the ones to bring Cassius back. They were probably cooking up a way to keep both of them bound here or something. Over the course of three weeks, Wolfram and Hart had tried desperately to show her their good side, but Aurelia was still a Slayer. She could sense the evil in almost every office she passed. It was time to get out of that place.

Working as quickly as possible, she copied down the prophecy and then copied down a few more spells she'd seen that might help summon Cassius back from Acathla's hell dimension. She folded the papers and stuck them in the back pocket of her jeans. Before rushing out the door, she told the book to erase everything she'd looked up.

Aurelia got on the first bus headed back for Sunnydale and didn't look back. On the way, she started to get nervous about seeing Giles again. What would he say? Would he be angry? Probably. He'd probably mourned her. When she showed up at his door alive and well, he was probably going to become very un-British and start yelling.

By the time Aurelia made it to Sunnydale, it was full dark out. She was a little wary of the place since she didn't have a weapon or a stake on her, but she walked boldly through the streets. The only bag she had was a small duffle bag with the few clothes she'd bought herself in Los Angeles. Maybe that could work as a weapon. She walked around a corner and looked down the adjoining way. She saw a man dressed in black, walking suspiciously, as though looking for something.

Aurelia rolled her eyes and began to follow silently. She didn't notice an empty aluminum can on the pavement and stepped on it. The man reacted instantly to the noise, spun around, and swung at her with a stake. Aurelia dropped her bag and threw up her arms, blocking the swing. She deftly took the stake from the man's hands and raised it to counter attack. He stepped back and the white cross hanging from his neck swung around, standing out in marked contrast to the rest of his attire.

The man was Xander. "Didn't anyone ever warn you about playing with pointy sticks?" Aurelia scolded. "It's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye."

"You shouldn't sneak up on people like that!" Xander said, breathing hard, trying to catch his breath. He looked at her, trying to convince himself that it was really her, and finally managed a weak smile. "Jeez, Auri! We thought you were dead…."

Suddenly a vampire smashed his way out of a crate leaning against a wall. He lunged at Xander and Aurelia, knocking them and himself to the pavement. Xander quickly tried to grab the vampire as he got up, but the demon grabbed Xander instead and pulled him up. He drew his fist back for a punch, but Aurelia jumped in and hit the vampire in the stomach with a powerful side kick, making him fall backwards into a pile of trashcans and bags.

Cordelia's voice came over the walkie-talkie at Xander's belt. "Come in, Nighthawk! Everything ok?"

Aurelia raised an amused and shocked eyebrow at Xander. "Nighthawk?"

The vampire was back on his feet and came at them. He tackled Xander and sent him reeling backwards into a chain link fence. Aurelia tried to stake him, but he sidestepped her and shoved her into the fence as well. Xander tried to come up behind him, but the vampire swung out with a backhand fist to Xander's face, knocking him to the ground. Aurelia got to her feet and blocked two punches from the demon. She got a hand under his chin to hold him at bay, but he pushed her back into the fence as the two struggled for control.

Now Willow, Cordelia, and Oz came running. The two girls grabbed the vampire by the arms and drug him off of Aurelia and across the alley, slamming him hard into a steel roll-up door. Aurelia caught her breath as she looked on in astonishment. The vampire growled at the girls as Oz tried to move in with a stake, but the vamp roundhouse kicked Oz, sending him to the pavement next to Xander. He then shoved Cordelia away and Aurelia quickly moved to catch her so she wouldn't get hurt. The vampire then threw Willow aside and she fell onto Xander and Oz.

"Oh, hey, Aurelia!" Cordelia said.

Aurelia pushed her aside and wielded her stake when she saw the vampire come after them. Cordelia lost her balance and fell to the pavement next to Willow. Aurelia plunged her stake cleanly into the vampire and he burst into ashes. As the dust settled, she looked over at her old friends staring up at her from the ground. They were all breathing hard.

Aurelia gave them a little wave and a weak smile. "Hey." They just kept staring back and Xander let his head drop back to the pavement.

Aurelia stood in front Giles's apartment door with Cordelia, Xander, Willow, and Oz. "Maybe it's too late. Maybe we should just come back tomorrow." No one made a move to go. "What if he's mad?"

"Mad?" Xander asked. "Just because you faked your own death, ran away, and abandoned your post and your friends and your mom and made him lay awake every night mourning you? Maybe we should wait out here." Aurelia gave him a look and turned around to face the door, reaching for the knocker. She tapped it a few times. Giles opened the door and his face remained expressionless for a long moment. "Check it out. The Watcher is back on the clock. And just when you were thinking career change, maybe becoming a…. a looker or a…. a seer."

"Thank you, Xander." Giles said. "Welcome back, Aurelia." He stepped back to let them in. As they all took seats around his living room, he said, "Would you all like some tea?"

"Sure." Willow said.

Giles went to the kitchen to start the tea, asking, "When did you get into Sunnydale?"

"Oh, about an hour or so ago." Aurelia said.

"Hey, so you're not wanted for murder anymore." Oz said.

"Good."

"So where were you? Did you go to Belgium?" Xander asked.

The teakettle in the kitchen began to whistle. "Ah. Excuse me." Giles went into the kitchen

"Why would I go to Belgium?" Aurelia asked.

"I think the relevant question is why wouldn't you?" Xander smiled hugely and giggled. "Bel-gium!"

"What about you, Xander? What have you been up to?"

"Oh, you know, same old, same old."

"Hardly." Cordelia said.

"Ok, I lied, a whole lot is new."

"Well, that's good, isn't it? New is good." Aurelia said.

"Oh, yeah, absolutely, except for the obvious. Oh, Cordelia's parents dragged her onto a luxury vacation."

"I feel for you." Aurelia said to Cordelia.

"Here we are then." Giles set a tray on the coffee table. "Cheer us up." He sat down in his chair and took the teapot. Aurelia and Xander each took a cookie from the tray.

"So were you, like, living in a box, or what?" Cordelia asked.

"It's a long story." Aurelia said.

"So skip the heartwarming stuff about kindly old people and saving the farm and get right to the dirt." Xander said.

"Perhaps Aurelia could use a little time to adjust before we grill her on her summer activities." Giles said.

"No, no…. It's fine. I was in Los Angeles working at a law firm." Aurelia said.

"A law firm? Really?" Willow asked.

"Yes. Wolfram and Hart. I had to make money somehow."

"Well, what else did you do?" Cordelia asked.

"I spent time trying to find a way to bring Cassius back."

"Wait, he's…." Willow stopped.

"Your spell worked, Willow, but not at a very good moment."

"What do you mean?" Giles asked.

"Angelus managed to open the portal before the spell took effect. I had to…." Aurelia couldn't say it.

"Cassius is in hell?" Cordelia asked, not one for tact.

Aurelia nodded. "This law firm…. They said they could help me bring him back, but then they spent three weeks giving me the run around. I did manage to get some things from them before I left."

"What things?" Giles asked.

"Spells, ingredients, and a prophecy about Cassius and I." Aurelia reached into her bag and pulled out the papers she'd copied. "I'm sorry about the handwriting. I was in a hurry."

Giles looked over them. "Good lord…."

"That prophecy…. They tried to hide the last two lines from me."

"Why?"

"I don't know. Maybe they believed that if they gained my trust before bringing Cassius back, I wouldn't question them. They were being so polite and accommodating towards me…. I think…. I think they want that End of Days thing to happen."

"Why would they?" Willow asked.

"I don't know. But they didn't want me to know about those last two lines."

"'In the moment the Eternal Circle should be restored, The End of Days shall be no more.'" Giles read out loud. "The Eternal Circle?" He looked at Aurelia. "We can't bring Cassius back until we find out when this Eternal Circle is."

"I couldn't find any references to an Eternal Circle. I did find something about the Circle of Life, but it was from a cartoon movie about lions."

Willow giggled. "I liked that movie."

Giles sighed. "I'll start checking my references in the morning. In the meantime, you all should get back to your homes and get some rest." Everyone stood up and headed for the door. Aurelia said her goodbyes to them and then turned back to Giles. "Goodnight Aurelia."

"I don't have any place to go." Aurelia said.

"You have your mother's house."

"We didn't part on good terms and I don't think it would be wise to go back to her."

"Aurelia…. She misses you. She's been so worried about you."

"You didn't tell her I was dead?"

"Of course not! I couldn't…."

Aurelia sighed. "I can't go back there, Giles. I can't face her."

"If you're scared she still thinks you're crazy, you'd be wrong. She believes you."

"About everything?"

"I explained it to her."

Aurelia sighed again. "Do I have to go back?"

"Yes. I've no place for you to stay here."

"This is very unfair."

"Yes, well, you should know. You left all of us here believing you were dead. How fair was that?"

"It was the easiest solution at the time after everything I've put you all through. If you all believed I was dead, you would go back to your lives and start living them the way they should be lived. No demons, no vampires, no Slayers…. Just regular humans."

"It was the coward's way out, Aurelia."

"A coward's way out?"

"You couldn't face everything that Angelus had done, so you ran!"

"Yes I left because of all Angelus had done! There was no way any of you would show any amount of understanding. None of you have been able to discern the difference between Cassius and Angelus. To you, he's one in the same."

"That's not true."

"Isn't it? Xander even said it himself that he hated Angel before he was Angelus and none of you ever truly trusted him. Angelus tortured you! With him wearing the same face as Liam…. The last face Cassius ever wore…. You would always hate him and I will always love him. You could never support us! So don't talk down to me and call me a coward. I left to give you all a peace of mind. That's not cowardice, that selflessness." Aurelia opened the door and walked out, slamming it behind her.

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