Aurelia walked into her room and gently closed the door behind her. She unbuttoned her coat and looked around the room. She saw the cross necklace hanging from its hook that Angel had given her when they'd first met. She reached out and held the cross in her hand. It sparkled in the light and she let go of it, letting it swing. She looked down at the ring on her hand that Angel had given her only the night before. It was Elizabeth and Liam's wedding ring. She pulled it off of her finger and looked at it.
Aurelia suddenly burst into tears. She went to her bed to lay down before her knees became weak. She clutched the ring and began crying uncontrollably. She couldn't help it. Why was fate being so cruel to her and Cassius? What had they done to upset Venus so? She curled up on her bed and felt every bit the seventeen year old girl she was. Her first and only lover had turned against her and her worst nightmares had come back to haunt her.
A large part of her wished she had never remembered her lives with Cassius. It seemed like it would be so much easier. But Buffy had loved Angel, so it would be just as hard on her.
Eventually, Aurelia fell asleep.
To her surprise, she dreamt. She and Cassius were in bed caressing each other. Aurelia ran her hand down his back over his tattoo. He had gotten it when he had been Liam as a wedding present to her. The A clutched in the griffon's talons didn't stand for Angel or Angelus. It stood for Aurelia. Cassius remembered every spot on her body that made her shiver in pleasure and took his time at each spot. He gently kissed her on the neck and Aurelia held him tighter to her with her ringed hand. She kissed his fingertips and he kissed her lips tenderly.
"I love you, Aurelia. I love you." Cassius whispered.
Aurelia opened her eyes to look up at him and for an instant, she saw the demon growling down at her. She screamed and the world flashed brighter. When her vision returned, she realized she was standing by an open grave at a funeral in bright daylight. She caught her reflection in a silver vase and saw that she wasn't Buffy, but Elizabeth. She was wearing her favorite crimson gown with the golden trim that she'd worn on her last Christmas as Elizabeth.
Liam, wearing the clothes Elizabeth had last seen him in, walked up to the grave and Aurelia looked over at him. He looked at her, his face bathed in glorious sunlight. "You have to know what to see, love." His voice held the Irish brogue that had once made her English heart melt.
She looked at him, not really understanding, and then back down at the grave. A black figure caught Aurelia's attention and she looked over at the other people attending the funeral. The black figure lifted a veil from her face to reveal Jenny standing there.
Aurelia shot awake with a start, eyes opened wide. The Slayer had prophetic dreams and she knew that this was one of them. Liam was telling her to see and it was Jenny that she saw. Jenny knew what was going on.
Aurelia marched straight to Jenny Calendar's classroom. There were students sitting at all the computers, but she didn't care. Jenny and Giles saw her come in and smiled in greeting.
"Oh, Buffy…. Aurelia." Giles said, laughing slightly. "Oh, I keep…." Aurelia went right past Giles and straight to Jenny. She put her hand around her throat and shoved her back onto the desk. "Aurelia!" He tried to pull her off, but the Slayer strength was too great for him.
"What do you know?" Aurelia demanded.
A student stood up and said, "Should I get the principal?"
"No, I-I-I'll deal with this." Giles said. "Y-y-you're, you're all dismissed!"
Aurelia let go and stepped back. "Did you do it? Did you change him?"
"For God's sake, calm down!"
"Did you know this was going to happen?"
"You can't go around accusing everybody…."
"I didn't know…." Jenny said. "Exactly. I was told…. Oh, God. I was sent here to watch you. They told me to keep you and Angel…. Cassius apart. They never told me what would happen."
"I'm sorry, Rupert. Cassius was supposed to pay for what he did to my people. To Mya's people. To Mya herself."
Aurelia closed her eyes. "Me." She looked up at Giles. "I was Mya of the Kalderash gypsies when Angelus killed me last."
"They were the ones who placed the curse on Angelus."
"And on Aurelia." Jenny said.
"Me?" Aurelia asked.
"The reason you haven't remembered in any of your lifetimes since Mya…. They didn't want you to remember."
"I don't know. I swear I would've told you."
"It wasn't Angelus who killed our people. I was there that night. It was my sister, Spike, and Darla. Angelus wasn't even there."
"But what he did to you…. They couldn't overlook it, Aurelia. You were their most beloved daughter of the most powerful family of the Kalderash."
"The curse…. It was me. I did it?"
"I think so. I mean, if you…."
"I don't understand." Giles said.
"The curse. If Cassius achieved true happiness with the true Aurelia, even just a moment of…. He would lose his soul." Jenny looked at Aurelia. "If there is anything that…."
"Curse him again."
"No, I-I can't. I mean, those magicks are long lost even to our people."
"They did it once. It might not be too late to save him."
"It can't be done. I can't help you."
"Then take me to someone who can."
Jenny led Aurelia and Giles into her uncle's hotel room. She was the first to see the carnage that covered the room. "Oh, my God." She rushed in to her uncle who was laid out on the bed, dead and covered with blood.
Aurelia looked up at the wall behind him. A message was written there in blood: WAS IT GOOD FOR YOU TOO MYA?
"What is he talking about?" Giles asked.
"When he killed first Meridon and then next Mya…. He raped me until I couldn't scream anymore. They were the longest deaths he ever bestowed upon me." Aurelia said, never taking her eyes off the bloody message.
"He's doing this deliberately. He's trying to make it harder for you to end this."
Aurelia shook her head and looked at Giles. "He's only making it easier. I know what I have to do."
"Kill him. I finally have a means to the end. If I can destroy the demon, Cassius's soul will be released. I can finally die with him and start over."
"Will it be that easy?"
"It's been lifetimes of torment and rape since we were last together truly. I'll make it that easy." Aurelia turned and left the room.
Xander and Oz lifted a long crate onto Giles' desk back at the library as Aurelia watched. "Happy Birthday, Buffy." Xander said. "I hope you like the color."
He stepped back and she looked down at the box as Giles positioned a crowbar on the lock. Inside the crate was a rocket launcher. Aurelia shook her head. "This century's weaponry is…." She sighed. "Giles, we should go to the factory first. They may not be there, however. If they're not, we need to figure out where they'd go."
Aurelia reached out and touched the rocket launcher. "This will work?"
Behind them, standing in the doorway, Jenny said, "Do you, uh…. Is there something I can do?"
"I-I just want to help."
"She just said get out." Giles said.
Aurelia looked up at Giles as he looked sadly into the crate. She realized that the Watcher loved the computer teacher and that he had just thrown his lot in with Aurelia. It cost Aurelia a little something of herself as well. Jenny was one of her clan and she was being turned away for keeping secrets.
Xander stepped up next to Aurelia. "Do you want me to show you how to use it?"
"Please." Aurelia said.
As Aurelia had suspected, the warehouse was deserted. "I knew it."
"We haven't a bead on where they would go?" Giles asked.
"Knowing Angelus, somewhere crowded. The Judge needs bodies, correct?"
"The Bronze?" Willow suggested.
"It's closed tonight." Xander said.
"There's not a lot of choices in Sunnydale." Cordelia said. "It's not like people are gonna line up to get massacred."
"Uh, guys?" Oz said. "If I were gonna line up, I know where I'd go." Everyone turned to look at him.
Aurelia was amazed by this century. Not only did they have weapons that could destroy entire cities in mere moments, they had malls. Buffy liked malls and Aurelia had to admit that it was a very interesting idea. It was like the markets in Rome, only all crammed into one large building.
The elevator doors opened and Aurelia led the way out. Giles and Xander followed, carrying the crate on their shoulders, while Oz, Willow, and Cordelia brought up the rear. "Everyone keep back." Aurelia ordered. "Take out any lesser vampires if you can. I will take care of the Judge."
"How do you know what to do?" Xander asked.
"My father was the emperor of Rome. He led many battles. I was his favorite daughter." Aurelia jumped up onto a drink machine on a counter and held her hand out. Giles handed her a crossbow. "Spending all that time with him, I didn't waste the lessons he taught his soldiers and myself."
Aurelia looked at the Judge as he took a couple of steps down a stairway across the mall. A customer squeezed by Angelus and headed down the stairs branching to the left. A young couple came up on the right. The Judge extended his arms and his energy arced out to and through them. The energy then arced through everyone in the area. They all froze where they stood. Aurelia let the arrow fly and the bolt hit the Judge in the chest. As she'd hoped, it broke his concentration and the arcs of energy disappeared, leaving the people dazed.
The Judge grabbed at the bolt and pulled it from his chest. "Who dares?"
Angelus and Drusilla looked over at the refreshment stand and saw first Willow, then Oz, Giles, Cordelia, Xander, and finally up to Aurelia standing on top of the drink machine, holding the crossbow.
"I believe I got his attention." Aurelia said.
"You're a fool. No weapon forged can stop me."
Aurelia lowered the crossbow. "That was then." Xander handed her the up the rocket launcher and she settled it on her shoulder. "This is now." She powered it on like Xander had showed her. A smile tugged at her lips when she saw Angelus and Drusilla exchange a worried look. She set her sights and opened the trigger guard. The Slayer's friends and Watcher took cover behind the snack counter and Angelus and Drusilla began to run. They leapt over the stair railing just as Aurelia took aim and fired.
The rocket flew straight into the Judge's chest as Angelus and Drusilla flew over the railing. The Judge disappeared in an explosion of flame and smoke. The people in the mall screamed and started to panic and run. Angelus and Drusilla hit the floor below as bits of charred Judge and ceiling fell all around them.
Aurelia looked up from the rocket launcher's sights and looked over at them in satisfaction. Her eyes stayed locked on Angelus as he got up and ran off. Drusilla began to squeal and she ran the other way. Everyone below Aurelia stood up and looked over the counter at what was left of the Judge. The smoke cloud from the explosion billowed its way up to the ceiling and water began to fall from the sprinklers.
"Honestly, my friend that has been the best present I have ever been given." Aurelia said to Xander as she handed the weapon down to him.
"Knew you'd like it." Xander said.
"Do you think he's dead?" Willow asked.
"We cannot be sure. You will need to pick up the pieces and keep them separate." Aurelia said, jumping down off the counter. Everyone started over to collect what was left of the Judge. Aurelia looked around the mall for Angelus. He came in and looked up at her as frightened customers ran every which way around him. Aurelia saw him and followed him. He struggled past shoppers and ran into the theatre.
The sprinklers rained down on Aurelia, matting her hair to her head. She moved into the theatre after Angelus, but she didn't see him anywhere. Suddenly he came at her and hit her from behind. She fell over backwards, landing on her back.
"Welcome back, baby." Angelus said. "I can't wait to start our game over again."
"The game's different now, Angelus. You're not the only powerful one now."
"You'd like to think that, wouldn't you?"
Aurelia kicked Angelus in the face and he blocked her next swing. He punched her in the face and then in the gut. He grabbed her and swung her around to throw her, but her footing was good and she regained her balance. He kicked her in the face and this time, she fell to the floor.
Angelus grabbed Aurelia as she tried to get up and heaved her over onto her back again. She rolled around to her feet and came at him. She swung, but he blocked and hit her instead. He followed up with a backhand punch and she hit the floor again.
"Not quittin' on me already, are ya?" Aurelia looked up at him, feeling all the terror and the rage that this demon had caused in her. "Come on, Lizzy. You know you want it, huh?"
Aurelia leapt up and kicked him in the face. He arched backward and then snapped forward. She kneed him in the chin and then delivered a series of punches to his gut. She ended with a punch to his face. He wasn't fazed, though, and lunged at her. She grabbed his arm and diverted him into a display case. He crashed through the glass and Aurelia immediately straightened him back up, breaking the top pane and the frame of the case as well. She kicked him in the face and again in the chest and he staggered backward into a potted tree. She pulled out a stake and stood ready to finish the job.
Angelus straightened up and faced her. "You can't do it. You can't kill me."
Aurelia pulled her arm back to plunge the stake in, but Angelus threw himself at her. She braced for the impact, but there was none. Angelus dodged past her and disappeared. She went after him, but he was gone. Tears fell down her face and the memories she'd tried to repress all these years hit her.
Giles pulled up to Buffy's house in his car to drop her off. She'd decided to go back home until she'd killed Angelus. It was the most logical choice. Unfortunately, her mother didn't know who she really was, or that she was also a Slayer. It would make things difficult, but Aurelia would deal with it.
Giles looked over at Aurelia and shut off the engine. The only noise was that of the crickets outside. It was Giles that broke the silence. "It's not over. He'll come after you, particularly. Of course, I suppose you know that."
"You must be so disappointed in me." Aurelia said.
"No. No, no, I'm not."
"I hesitated. I let him get away."
"You didn't let him get away. You've only just gotten your memories back. It will take a little time to synchronize your life as Buffy and as Aurelia."
"It doesn't usually take so long."
Giles smiled. "You weren't a Slayer before."
"No. I wasn't."
"And it's been a hundred years since you were last here."
Aurelia looked over at Giles. "I never meant to release this hell on you and yours."
"You couldn't have known what would happen, Aurelia. The coming months a-are going to be hard…. I suspect on all of us, but…. If it's guilt you're looking for, I'm not your man. All you will get from me is my support…. And my respect. You've endured a lot in your lifetimes and I know that with this go around, you will prevail one way or another."
Aurelia smiled slightly at him. "I am honored to know you, Mr. Giles."
"It is an honor to finally meet you."
"We shall have to talk more. I know you're dying to pick my brain about everything I've encountered."
Giles chuckled slightly. "Yes, well…."
Aurelia sat on the couch in her house and stared at the television. An old black-and-white movie was playing. The actors were dancing slowly and the woman was singing 'Goodnight, My Love' to the man.
Joyce came in holding a plate with two cupcakes, one with a candle, and a large coffee mug. "Did I miss anything?" She asked.
"No. There was some singing and running around." Aurelia answered.
Joyce set down the plate and mug and looked around for the matches. "I'm sorry I didn't have time to make you a real cake." She found the matches.
"No. This is wonderful."
Joyce sat back on the couch with her feet up. "But we're still going shopping on Saturday. So what'd you do for your birthday?"
Aurelia smiled ironically and said the only thing she could think of that would tell everything, yet wouldn't give anything away. "I got older."
"You look the same to me." Joyce leaned back to the table and struck a match to light the candle. The wick started to burn and she blew out the match. She set the matchbook and spent match on the table and leaned back on the couch again facing her daughter. "Happy Birthday. I don't have to sing, do I?"
Aurelia smiled slightly. "No."
"Well, go on, make a wish."
Aurelia stared at it for a long moment, wishing with all her heart that she could wake up as Elizabeth once again with Liam in her bed beside her and their first child growing in her womb. But it would never happen. All the magic in the world couldn't undo the horror of what had happened then or over the last few centuries. "I'll just let it burn."
Joyce reached up and stroked her daughter's hair. Aurelia leaned over and rested her head on her mother's shoulder. It occurred to Aurelia that she'd never really allowed any of her mothers to offer her this kind of comfort. Usually by this point, she was considered an adult and she'd have been married off.
Aurelia closed her eyes as Joyce continued gently stroking her hair.