Forever, That's The Whole Point

Chapter 44

Chapter 44

Aurelia and Cassius patrolled the cemetery, talking quietly. "I just wish my mom would stop trying to get me to let her come home."

"She's worried about you." Cassius said.

"I'm worried about me. This is big, Cassius. Huge. It's worse than anything I've ever faced."

"And you're strong. You'll face this. You'll save the day and we'll restart the Eternal Circle."

"What if it doesn't restart?"

"It has to. The prophecy says it."

"No, the prophecy says 'in the moment the Eternal Circle should be restored.' That just says we have to die together. Finally. What if there isn't another lifetime after this? What if we've used them all up?"

"'Used them all up'?" Cassius laughed. "Aurelia, I really don't think we can use them up like a gumball machine."

"So much bad stuff has happened…. It's got to mean something."

"It means nothing. We will come back and we will find each other and we will live out a long and happy life together. Maybe with a child of our own." He took her hand and kissed it. "The Powers That Be and Venus owe us that much after all we've been through the last two hundred plus years."

"And you still have to see her every day." Lissa said. They were talking about Xander's relationship with Cordelia.

"Yeah, but I guess that's good." Xander said.

"How is that a good thing? I mean, it seems like she never let you forget what happened."

"Maybe I shouldn't be allowed to forget it. I did…. it was a bad thing, and it hurt her real bad."

"I think you're both better off." Lissa leaned in and smiled flirtatiously. "I know it turned out good for me, and that's what really matters, right?"

Xander smiled back. "I should have taken you on a nicer date than this."

"Well, I can think of something fun to do."

"What are we waiting for, then?" Xander stood up and offered Lissa his hand.

Cordelia, Oz, Giles, Willow, Kennedy, Amanda, and Vi were sitting around the dining room table. Aurelia and Cassius were standing in the doorway from the foyer glaring at them. "You tried to recall the ultimate evil?" Cassius asked. "Why? In a complex effort to royally piss it off?"

"Guess we succeeded pretty good, huh?" Kennedy asked.

"Why did you try to recall it?" Aurelia asked.

"To study it." Willow said. "To see if we could figure something out from what it was saying. Because, guys, we have to face it, we know nothing about the First."

"Well, we know not to record it. That's something." Cordelia said.

"Why did it appear to Giles, then?" Cassius asked. "I thought it was supposed to be pulling my strings."

"It said it wasn't time for you yet." Giles said.

"What did it want you to do, anyway?" Cordelia asked.

"Shoot all the girls."

"Shoot girls?" Vi asked worriedly.

"Just the potentials." Giles stood up. "And this proves my point. This time is crucial. We should be circling the wagons instead of doing things like going out on dates when…. when gunplay is imminent. Willow, call Xander. Get him back here. We need to dispose of the gun and-and figure out our next move."

"We'll go find him." Aurelia said, gesturing to herself and Cassius. "He was going to the Espresso Pump, right?"

Xander was suspended from the ceiling of the room in the school's basement with the creepy seal. He was tied to the wheel they'd found before. Lissa was standing below him working on the pulleys.

"Look, I know what happens if that seal down there gets all excited." Xander said. "I don't think you understand what you're getting yourself into."

"The seal opens, and a vicious feral vampire creature comes out." Lissa said simply.

"Well, then you do understand. But, uh, what makes you think that's, like, a good idea?"

"The end is coming. The final fight, and everyone is hearing the drumbeat. It's telling us to pick our partners, align ourselves with the good or the evil." Lissa reached behind her to grab a long, thin knife. When she turned back to face Xander, her eyes had changed to a yellow lizard-eyed look. She stabbed Xander in the belly and he screamed as his blood flowed from his wound down the knife onto the seal below. "Couldn't have done it without you, Xander. Thanks for the great date."

"You sure he's here?" Cassius asked as he and Aurelia made their way through the basement of the high school.

"Willow did a locator spell." Aurelia said with a shrug. "I'm really not surprised. This school is at the center of everything." They heard a scream from further down the corridor. "Xander!" Aurelia and Cassius took off at a run. They came to the room where the Seal was and found it open. Aurelia rushed in first to find Xander hanging from the ceiling. She ran towards Xander's date first, punching her and disarming her by knocking the knife from her hand.

"Aurelia!" Xander called.

Aurelia and Lissa were fighting when Cassius entered the room. Lissa started whaling on him and kicked Aurelia away, knocking her to the ground. She pushed Cassius down and started strangling him, bringing forth his vampire facade.

"Oh, God! Hurry!" Xander cried, obviously in agony.

Aurelia knocked Lissa off of Cassius and tackled her away. Cassius jumped to his feet and went to help Xander, cutting the ropes that held his hands to the wheel. The seal was already beginning to open, though, and a Turok-Han was reaching out of the seal as it opened. Cassius barely managed to escape its grasp as he finally got Xander down from the wheel. The seal slammed shut, cutting off the arm of the Turok-Han that was reaching out. Cassius set Xander down against a wall.

Aurelia and Lissa were still fighting, struggling over the possession of a sword. Lissa knocked Aurelia across the room, but Aurelia held on to the sword. Cassius engaged in fighting Lissa, but he was getting beaten quickly. Aurelia pulled Lissa away from him and cut off her head with the sword. As her head was separated from her body, Lissa's true form was revealed as a gruesome pinkish creature with hairy shoulders and stitches all over its head and nasty black shark teeth on its lipless jaws.

"Disgusting." Aurelia said, shaking her head as she went to Cassius's side to make sure he was all right. He waved her away and she rushed over to Xander. "Hey, Xander. I'm here." She said gently.

"Hey."

"So, how is your date going?" Xander laughed slightly and then groaned in pain. "Oh, sorry!"

Oz stared out the front door as Cordelia paced in the living room. Willow was sitting on the couch. "Where are they?" Cordelia asked. "It's after 2. His slut probably ate him up."

"His slut didn't eat him up." Willow said. "And besides, I thought you were all angry at him."

"Oh, I am. I will be for a very long time."

Giles walked into the room, holding a glass of milk. "They're not back yet?"

"I think we should go find them. Xander could be injured or trapped or eaten up."

"It is late. Perhaps a little reconnaissance might be helpful."

Chao-Ahn came downstairs looking worried. She said something in Chinese and everyone looked at Giles. "She says she can't sleep." He turned to Chao-Ahn. "Um, I made myself some warm milk. You can have it." Chao-Ahn said something that sounded angry and walked back upstairs. "She's shy."

"They're back." Oz said calmly.

"Is Xander all right?" Cordelia asked.

"He looks ok."

Aurelia and Cassius led Xander into the house. He had his shirt wrapped around his waist as a surrogate bandage. "What happened?" Willow asked.

"What do you think happened? Another demon woman was attracted to me." Xander shook his head. "I'm going gay. I've decided I'm turning gay."

Aurelia smiled. "And what if you just start attracting male demons?"

"It would serve you right." Cordelia said.

"Children, enough." Giles ordered.

"I'd need some stylish new clothes." Xander said.

"Stylish clothes could never help you." Cordelia countered.

"Enough!" Giles yelled. "Have you learned nothing from tonight's assorted chaos? There isn't time for fun and games and quips about orientation." He held up his scary flashcards. "These…. these aren't a joke. This…. this happens. Girls are going to die. We may die. It's time to get serious." He walked out of the room.

"Someone has got to get those flashcards away from him." Aurelia said. "They really are quite horrifying." She looked at Xander. "All right, to the bathroom with you. Let's get that stab wound cleaned up."

"You were stabbed?" Cordelia asked.

"Yes. And it hurts and it's still kinda bleeding."

"I'll help." Cordelia slipped under his arm and helped him up the stairs.

Willow stared up incredulously after them. "She still loves him." Oz said simply. "I get that." He slipped his hand into his girlfriend's and smiled at her.

"I get that too." Aurelia said, leaning against Cassius's arm.

Aurelia was walking around her house, checking on the potentials as they slept. The floor was crowded with them in their sleeping bags. Aurelia bent down to pick up a large, thick book labeled 'Greek,' and put it on the desk before turning out the light. She headed upstairs to check on more potentials in her mother's room. Oz was sleeping in the bed with Willow and several more girls were in sleeping bags on the floor. Aurelia heard crying from the hallway and went to investigate. In the corner at the end of the hall, Chloe was sitting on the floor, huddled up with her knees to her chest, sobbing.

"Chloe?" Aurelia said softly.

Chloe looked up at Aurelia, but before she could answer, the First Slayer tackled Aurelia from the side, pushing her down the stairs. The First Slayer landed on top of Aurelia and rasped, "It's not enough."

Aurelia gasped as she woke from the dream, alarmed. She looked around the room and saw the girls were there and safe. She furrowed her brow as she contemplated what had just happened. And how had she known that woman was the First Slayer? A Slayer instinct?

Giles walked into the library where Aurelia was waiting. She was sitting on the table meditating. "Where have you been?" She asked, opening her eyes.

"I'm sorry I'm late. I just had to break up another fight."

"That's the third fight this week."

"And it's just getting worse. There's also been a rise in vandalism and there are three students missing."

"The Hellmouth has begun its semi-annual percolation." She hopped down off the table. "We're a little ahead of schedule."

"I can't say I'm too surprised."

"Yeah, me either."

"I've decided to give you something."

"A present? I like presents."

Giles smiled slightly. "It's something I should've given you before, but with you regaining your memories and everything else that's happened, it's sort of…. Slipped my mind."

"What is it?" Giles walked into his office and pulled up a large leather duffel bag from under his desk. She walked in and he set it on his desk with a clunk. "What is it?"

"An emergency kit. This bag has belonged to every Slayer before you. Merrick should've given it to you, but he didn't receive it…."

"Until after he was killed." Aurelia said sadly, remembering the Watcher she'd had before Giles.

"I don't know what's inside, exactly, but I know it has something to do with your power. Watcher's aren't allowed to open it and when the Slayer finally does open it, her Watcher is sworn to secrecy…. magically…. About what it contains."

"Wow. That's very…. Intense."

"Yes. I would assume that whatever's in this bag is quite powerful and should never end up in the hands of an enemy of the Slayer."

"So, has anyone ever opened it?"

"Yes, all the Slayers have…. Well, except Kendra and Faith."

Aurelia looked up at Giles hopefully. "Have we heard anything?"

"I'm sorry. There's been no contact from her. I don't want to, but I think it would be time to assume the worst."

"I don't want to assume the worst. Faith is strong. If she's in trouble, she knows how to get away and stay away until it's clear. Look at how she did with Kakistos."

Giles smiled slightly. "She is crafty."

"She'll let us know when the axe is pulled away from her neck." Aurelia nodded. "I just know it."

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