“Hey, baby,” her mother, said. Kassandra whirled around to see her mother sitting in her favorite chair in their small apartment. The bleak morning sun shining through the dirty windows highlighted the dark red of Diana's hair.
“Mom!” Kassandra cried and threw herself into her mother's arms, curling up on her lap. The young girl dreamed of this so many times over the past year. That her mother was still alive, that the horrible night had never happened, that all of her wishes would come true. She was crying, sobbing, as she felt her mother's love wash over her.
“I love you so much!” Her mother said fiercely, pulling her even tighter into her embrace. This wasn’t like her mother; normally her mom was reserved and quiet. Kassandra knew she was loved by the way her mother would always touch her, hug her, or push her hair off her face. Her mother was like Vincent; she couldn't stand to be held or be close to people.
And Kassandra hated that in this one moment her mind wouldn't be quiet and just enjoy being with her Mom one last time. Kass pulled slightly away wiping her eyes, so she could look up into her mother's face. “This is different,” she said softly, questioning.
“I know, baby girl,” her mom whispered into her hair, “just let this moment last a second or two longer? I've missed you so much, and I don’t have much time.” With those simple words Kassandra knew this was her mother. Given back to her, real and solid—only—not. Kass also knew it was only a dream. The thought of her mother not really being there caused all the grief to bubble up from deep inside her soul. And she couldn't stop crying, she tried, she didn't want to ruin this time with her Mom, but no matter how much tried, the tears kept falling. She saw the tear stains on her mother’s ratty, old, gray sweatshirt that she wore all the time around the apartment.
“God I hate this shirt!” Kassandra cried even harder and her mother let her. The Shirt smelled like home and it helped calm her. Kass realized for the first time in a year she wasn't cold.
“Don't complain about my sweatshirt it’s comfortable,” her mother answered. The tears began to slow down and Kass yawned. 'Could a person be tired in a dream?'
“When the dream it's a Slayer Dream,” a voice answered, from the corner of the room, over near the elevator, the only street entrance to the small Loft apartment. Kassandra turned and saw the woman from the Park, Buffy. The blonde raised her hand in a tentative wave and it seemed to mark the end of the time with her Mom.
“It's time for me to go baby girl,” her Mom said, hugging her even tighter.
“No, please let me stay,” Kassandra begged, clutching at her. It felt like her heart was being torn out of her chest as ever tighter bands of steel were being wrapped around her forcing all the air from her. Kass needed more time! She didn't have enough time to tell her mother all the things she wanted to, all she wanted to do was just to talk to her!
“I want you to go with Buffy,” her mother told her. Kass could only stare at Buffy and then back at her mother.
“No,” she said, her head shaking in denial. “I need to know about you, I need to just talk to you mom, so much has happened and I need....”
“Buffy can help you, Kasey. Buffy can help you understand everything, ” she finished by pressing a kiss on her forehead. She didn't her to go, she wanted her mother back! Kassandra couldn't think of a life without her! However Kassandra knew that couldn't happen.
“Where you are?” Kasey pressed, “are you happy?” She choked on her tears again. Kassandra closed her eyes so her mother couldn't see her how much it hurt. She wanted her mother safe and happy but she also wanted to be ressured that she was still loved and not forgotten.
“Baby girl open your eyes and look at me,” her mother ordered. So Kasandra did, she looked into her mother's eyes. “Buffy can answer that question, too. She can answer all your questions.”
Now even Kass could feel that the time was ending that this was all the time she had. Her Mom bit her lower lip and nodded as if she could read Kass' mind.
Diana looked away as if she were hearing something beyond Kasey's comprehension. “Things are coming and Buffy needs your help. You and Jacob have to convince the other's to help her. You have to convince the entire Tunnel World to help her, because without our help the world will end.”
Kass glanced up at Buffy as the words seemed to come alive. The words echoed in her mind almost as if they were bouncing back and forth through her head.
Her mother then gently took Kasey’s chin and turned her back to face her. “I'm proud of you Kasey, know that I will always love you, and be watching over you.” Warm fingers brushed away the tears that fell down Kassandra's cheek. “I never thought I could truly feel love, not after all I'd seen, not after all I'd done, I was so lost in the darkness, until the moment I felt you inside me. You brought light and love into my life that I never thought I could feel. You are the reason I am where I am now, you erased my despair. I know you can do this, I know it.”
“Kasey! You're having a nightmare! C'mon, wake-up,” she heard Jacob's voice from a distance. Her mother smiled at her one last time and she just faded away.
“Kasey, wake up,” Jacob ordered and this time Kasandra jerked awake. Blinking her eyes clear to see Jacob's blue eyes. Then the dream hit and the fact that her mother was gone—again--she waited for the tears, that never came. Even Jacob looked confused that Kasey wasn't a sobbing mess in his arms.
“The child has the strenght of the truth now,” Narcissa's musical voice floated to her from the other side of the Hospital Chamber.
“I know,” Buffy whispered in return and Kass thought that she sounded older than even Father.