Prologue to Life/I Know You by Slaymesoftly

ReviewsRating: NC-17

Summary: A response to a challenge at the Bloodshedverse where Buffy is returned to her season II body with all her post Season VII memories. She is there due to a spell Willow performs to try to help Buffy get over mourning for Spike.

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Chapter 17

When they all gathered in the library at the end of the school day, there was uncomfortable silence while everyone waited for someone else to start the meeting. With a sigh, Giles took his glasses off and polished them before saying to Willow, “ I suppose we all owe you and Ms Calendar a great debt for restoring Angel’s soul. I’m sure he will thank you in person once he thinks we are ready to trust him again.”

“I’m NOT ready to trust him again,” Xander grumbled. “He’s an evil bloodsucker and now we know what he’s like without the soul.”

“You have no idea what Angel is like without his soul.” Buffy’s voice was hard and cold, to match the look she gave the equally angry boy. “You have no idea how lucky we are that we knew what happened, when it happened, and were able to put the soul back within a very short amount of time.”

She looked around the table at the curious faces. “That wasn’t the way it went in my time. We had months to learn exactly what Angelus was really like and why he was so feared. Trust me when I tell you to be grateful you didn’t have to learn that the hard way.”

“Well, why don’t you tell us what he was like, then?” Xander asked belligerently. “Let us in on what we’re missing.”

Buffy exchanged looks with Jenny Calendar and Giles before saying firmly, “No. He hasn’t done any of those things in this time line and I don’t want to give you reason to condemn him for things THIS Angel hasn’t done.”

“So, what? You’re just gonna go through this life being all-knowing girl and not warn us about things we might need to know? That’s not fair.”

“Neither is allowing you to punish Angel for something he hasn’t done.”

“Do you really think we could be that unfair, Buffy?” Willow asked plaintively. “That we would blame somebody for stuff he didn’t do?”

“No, Willow,” she answered softly, “I KNOW you can be that unfair. All of you,” she added, shooting a look at her watcher.

Her two friends stared at her in dismay, but the watcher just looked back at her speculatively.

“We’re not just talking about Angel here, are we, Buffy?”

The Slayer looked back at his concerned face and said flatly, “No, we are not just taking about Angel.”

He looked like he wanted to pursue the subject, but Jenny’s gentle hand on his arm stopped him and he just nodded instead.

Cordelia, who had been uncharacteristically silent up until now, broke into the heavy silence with, “Okay, if that’s out of the way, let’s get to the really important stuff. What’s going to be in style this Spring? We need to go to the mall so you can help me shop. Not that I’m interested in having you pick out my clothes,” she added hastily and with a panicky look.

“Not really interested in that myself,” Buffy said, rolling her eyes. “Try to remember, guys. I’m not really sixteen, and I’ve had a lot of really important stuff on my mind the last couple of years. As surprising as it may seem, shopping for clothes hasn’t been real high on my ‘to do’ list.”

Cordelia huffed indignantly and poked Xander in the arm. “See? I told you, she’s going to be even less fun to be around now.”

Buffy rolled her eyes again and turned to speak to Giles and Willow. She was having trouble figuring out how much to include the computer sciences teacher in the conversations, knowing that in her time the woman’s silence about who she really was had contributed to the release of Angelus.

“Buffy,” her watcher began, “as much as I hate to agree with Xander, I really think it would be useful for you to fill us in on any possibly dangerous situations that could arise.”

Buffy sighed and slumped into a chair.

“I know you’re right, Giles. It’s just so hard to know what might be important now, and what won’t matter. I thought I had everything under control, and then Angel lost his soul anyway. And then he and Dru did the same things they did in my time and Spike offered to help me get rid of Anglelus just like he did then, but Kendra got killed anyway…..I just don’t know what to tell you about.”

“Could we begin with a quick summary of the year in your time? Perhaps if we know what has remained the same and what is different, we can help you figure out the remaining dangers.”

“In my time, Spike and then Angelus WERE the dangers, but I guess you’re right. Let me figure out where I want to start.”

“Why not start with the arrival of Spike and Drusilla in your time? Tell us what would have happened if you hadn’t done…whatever you did…differently.”

“Yeah, Buffy. And then tell us what you did differently this time.”

Remembering how she had teased Spike when she had him pinned at Back to School Night, Buffy blushed bright red and wondered how she was going to handle that question without giving out way more information than she wanted to.

When she felt like she could speak without choking, she began an abbreviated version of events. She told about the set up fight at the Bronze, and how she pretty much let Spike make the same speech to her, even though she did tell him she knew he wouldn’t wait for Saturday.

When she told about their fight at Back to School Night and how he was preparing to kill her when her mother intervened with the axe, she saw Giles go pale as Willow and Xander gasped.

“He beat you? In your time, he won that fight?”

“Yeah, he did. Spike’s one hell of a fighter. I can’t say he would’ve killed me for sure – I wasn’t planning to lie there and wait to be clobbered with a wall stud – but he certainly could have. If he hadn’t stopped to gloat…”

She could see Giles muttering to himself, “If not for Joyce, he would have had his third Slayer. I had no idea he was such a powerful vampire…” He drifted off into research mode, not really following the conversation anymore.

“So, Buffster, what was different this time?”

“I was. I am – different. I’ve got all those years of experience, plus years of training with Spike. I know his moves, and he doesn’t know mine yet. I’m not as strong in this body as I am in the future, but I still have all that experience and training.”

“So, this time you won. And then what? He said, ‘Okay, you beat me. Let’s be friends?’” She could hear the disbelief in Xander’s voice.

“Let’s just say I was able to pique his curiosity with the things I know about him, and he was willing to talk to me about it. I never had a chance to tell him about the world saveage – except what he heard here, but the part where he helps me beat Angelus played out pretty much the same anyway.”

“Where does crazy vampire lady fit in?” Willow asked curiously. “Does she become a good guy too?”

Buffy snickered at the thought of Drusilla becoming a white hat and shook her head decisively.

“No, she stays evil and crazy. But he does take her far away and she never comes back. Well, she does once, but she doesn’t stay very long and then she goes away again. I think she spends some time in LA with Angel.”

“Angel moves to LA?” Jenny’s eyes narrowed and she began to pay more attention to the conversation.

Buffy turned to face the gypsy and answered her coldly, “Yes, if you’ll recall, I told you that in my time you don’t tell us who you really are and what you know about him until it’s too late. So you aren’t around to worry about his coming and going.”

Of the young people in the room, only Willow caught the implication and her eyes widened as she realized what Buffy meant.

“Who she really is?” Cordelia expressed an interest for only the second time all night.

Jenny Calendar looked at the curious young faces staring at her and then at the man she was coming to love. He shrugged and told her softly, “It’s up to you, but I think we’ve had enough secrets.”

She nodded and gave the expectant teenagers a short version of her family’s involvement in Angel’s curse. Buffy turned away and let her attention drift, as she already knew what was being said. She caught Giles looking at her thoughtfully again and knew at some point, she would have to tell him a cleaned up version of her relationship with Spike.

When Jenny had finished her explanation, and answered a couple of questions about gypsies, Willow brought the conversation back to where she wanted it.

“You say Drusilla never comes back – does Spike?”

“Yes,” Buffy answered softly. “he does. More than once, actually.”

“If I may,” Giles put in, “Buffy was doing a recap of important events over the next several months. Please, continue, Buffy.”

Buffy straightened up in her chair and rolled her shoulders.

“ ‘K, then, let me see. Short version: Ethan Rayne and Halloween – not so mixy; old boyfriend who wants to be a vampire –gets his wish, gets staked; the Judge – not bazooka-proof; Buffy’s birthday? Good day to stay in bed – alone.” She paused to look at their bewildered faces.

“What? That pretty much sums it up. Angelus isn’t here, so he’s not an issue. Spike and Dru are gone already, so they aren’t part of anything. I don’t really know what else we might have to worry about with them gone. No Big Bads, just regular boring vampires and sorcerers.”

“Oh!” she thought to herself out loud, “Unless Spike didn’t kill the Anointed One yet. That could be a problem.”

“Anointed one?”

“Yes, the Master’s little brat. Remember? The one that led me into the cave? Spike called him the Annoying One and sent him into the sun in my time, but I don’t know if he’s had time to do that yet here. I’ll have to go check on it, I guess.”

She seemed alarmingly unconcerned that the Master’s chosen successor might still be alive and Giles couldn’t resist asking, “I take it there’s no rush?”

Buffy cocked her head at him, wondering if she was detecting a note of sarcasm. She shrugged and answered, “Don’t see why there would be. It’s not like he’s got much left in the way of minions, after Spike and I –“

“Spike and I? Jeez, Buffy, just how much time have you been spending with the blond bloodsucker? He comes to town and you just blow us off.” He couldn’t hide the edge of jealously in his voice; even with his glaring girl friend sitting right beside him.

Buffy got up from her chair and stalked toward the pouting boy.

“For. The. Last. Time. I am not your Buffy. And I will not have my behavior or my relationships questioned by you or anyone else in the room. The idea that you would imagine you could talk to me like that after what you did to Spike…”

She stopped and visibly struggled to gain control of her temper.

“If he doesn’t come back because he thinks I told you to…” She shuddered slightly. “You’ll wish you weren’t seeing much of me.”

She turned her back on him so that none of the teenagers in the room could see the fear on her face at the thought that Spike might not come back.

(He WILL come back. Spike always comes back. He always has. He can’t be that different in this time line. He felt something for me. I know he did…and could I sound any more pathetic?)

Suddenly the room seemed very crowded and confining and she marched toward the door saying, “I need to go check on Angel and the Annoying One. I’ll check back with you after patrol, Giles.”

The doors were swinging in her wake before anyone could react quickly enough to stop her.

Into the silence, Cordelia’s voice was almost welcome.

“I don’t think I like grown-up, Buffy,” she huffed.

“She’s kinda scary,” Willow said softly.

“I think she’s crazy.” Xander grumbled. “And what’s with the whole attraction to vampires thing? What’s wrong with human men?”

Everyone ignored his obvious whining about Buffy’s lack of response to the crush he continued to have on her, but they acknowledged the difference in her behavior from the bubbly little girl they knew.

Finally Jenny spoke up quietly. “I think she acts like someone who has faced a lot of disappointment and pain in her life and that much of it was caused by those of us in the room. I’m guessing that asking her to tell us everything that happened in her time isn’t going to make anyone here feel any better about themselves.”

She cast a look at the librarian and said softly, “Including us, apparently.”

Giles nodded his head in agreement. “So it would seem. Perhaps we can do something this time around to erase some of those bad memories.”

“I hope so,” she said, moving closer to him. “I would hate to think she was sent back to suffer more pain.”

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