Ziva had fallen asleep while they watched the movie, curled up on one end of the couch.
Tony still flipped his mobile through his fingers from his conversation with Abby, who had reassured him that no one had gotten through her security. The most they had were Ziva’s papers from immigration, which couldn’t really be hidden, and didn’t supply any information they hadn’t already told them.
He knew, could clearly see, that this wasn’t going to end well. Elizabeth’s friends, for some reason he didn’t understand, were being incredibly persistent in their search for the truth. Whether they found it or not it wasn’t going to end well for Elizabeth, who was already in enough pain without adding this to the mix. He couldn’t see her getting out of here with her cover intact, it just didn’t seem to be in the cards for her. Ziva was right, her sister really couldn’t catch a break.
The credits for ‘The Princess Bride’ ran up the screen, and he stood, slipping the phone back into his pocket. He switched off the TV and turned to look at Ziva, who had woken when his weight caused the couch to shift.
“This is not going to finish well, is it?” she asked, and he shrugged.
“She has to tell them SOMETHING,” he said, running a hand through his hair in frustration. “You heard her, her only friends. I’m not condoning their actions by any means, but I don’t want to condemn her to losing them for this.”
“I agree, Tony. She does have to tell them something, or this is going to go so far out of proportion that it is going to blow her cover worse than anything else. I will talk to the Director, see what he can come up with. It will have to have a reasonable about of the truth in it, though.” She shook her head, trying to figure out how to sell this to her father. “You know what, forget it. I will not tell the director; in this case what he does not know is not going to go any further. Elizabeth and I will figure this out between us to the maximum advantage.”
Tony nodded his agreement, glad Ziva had agreed that something needed to be done. The two of them headed for bed, Ziva on the couch and Tony in the spare bedroom, neither wanting to take what had been Joyce’s room.
Elizabeth woke the early next morning and dressed quickly in dark colours, not feeling like wearing anything bright. She came downstairs to find Ziva already sitting at the kitchen table, a pot of porridge on the stove. She served herself a bowlful and a cup of coffee, sitting down opposite her sister.
“Good morning,” Ziva said softly, smiling gently. “You are up early.”
“Yeah, I couldn’t sleep,” Buffy replied. “And I needed to talk to you before Tony woke up. Papa told me to read you in on my life for the past year.” She took a sip of her coffee, then set the mug on the table. “It all started at Hemery High School, late one afternoon…”
Twenty minutes later, the two of them sat together, Ziva wishing her coffee was something a bit stronger.
“Wow,” was all she said. “So, that is how you drowned.” She took a gulp of the coffee, glad that she was getting her sister out of Sunnydale soon. She hadn’t had many encounters with the supernatural, but she knew that the kind that Elizabeth would have attracted was nasty and probably vindictive. She had no desire to have her sister around them now that she didn’t have the advantages she once did.
“Yep,” replied Buffy, taking a mouthful from her second bowl of porridge.
“Tony and I talked last night,” Ziva said, deciding to leave the subject of the Slayer for now. “We agreed, you need to tell your friends something, and I do not think Papa needs to be in on it. I thought we could figure out what to tell them between the two of us.”
Elizabeth nodded, knowing all too well how these things worked and how her father would refuse to do anything about it. He would be sorry, but wouldn’t allow breaking cover.
Willow sat, staring at the computer screen, trying to figure out what was going on. They knew Buffy had been lying to them, apparently from day one, but it wasn’t just Buffy. Someone had created an entire life for her, and taken an extreme amount of care covering up her past to make it match. That didn’t fit with someone just trying to get away from their past, and that confused her.
“You don’t think she’s in witness protection, do you?” she asked suddenly, sitting back from the computer. “I mean, that would explain pretty much everything that’s going on here.”
“But why wouldn’t she tell us?” demanded Xander, looking up from the depths of his mug.
“Generally, those cases are life or death, Xander,” pointed out Ms. Calendar, glad that someone had come up with a potentially reasonable explanation.
“Doesn’t explain why Travers wouldn’t tell me anything,” Giles said with a sigh, rubbing a hand over his face. “That speaks of a high up international connection, I can tell you that much.”
“She was speaking Hebrew, so that’s a reasonable assumption to make,” pointed out Xander. “What if she’s some kind of spy, a terrorist? After 9/11 I wouldn’t put anything past them.”
“Sounds like we got here just in time,” came a new voice from the doorway. They all whirled to find the subject of their discussion standing in the doorway, the two adults behind her. “I owe you all an explanation,” she said slowly. “No, I am not a terrorist. I can’t tell you much, but I will explain what I can, and I’m sorry about it. This can’t go any further, because it could get people killed.” She waited until she got grudging nods from each of them.
She sat down at the table, Tony and Ziva stayed standing just inside the door. “My real name is Elizabeth David. Ziva’s my sister. I grew up in Tel Aviv with our father. He’s high up, and he sent me over to America for safety when one of his enemies started threatening me. He had my entire life covered up by friends and built a cover over here. Hank is my bodyguard; once we were deep enough he backed off a bit. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, but I couldn’t. Please believe that everything else was the truth. I love you all, please.”
“Joyce?” asked Giles, curious.
“She’s really my mother,” Buffy swallowed hard and continued. “She didn’t know much; knew that I grew up in Tel Aviv, obviously, but didn’t know why I came back, just not to talk about it.” A tear slipped down her cheek and she brushed it away.
“Buffy, I…” Giles started to say, but she raised her hand to stop him.
“I understand how you all feel. I never wanted to lie, but there was no choice. I’ll understand if you want nothing to do with me.”
To everyone’s surprise, it was Xander who spoke up. “Don’t be stupid, Buffy. I’m sorry; I was upset, hurt, and I said things I didn’t mean. I’m sorry.” He stood and made his way over to her chair, wrapping his arm around her shoulder. Willow almost threw herself from her seat to join them, dropping to her knees beside Buffy and hugging her tightly, Buffy’s head falling on her shoulder with a muffled sob.
Once the three had disentangled themselves, they found themselves seated around the library table, Ziva and Tony as well, with cups of tea and coffee.
“Buffy,” said Giles slowly. “I need to tell you something. You remember that conversation we were having at the hospital, about how things might change?”
“Yeah,” said Buffy cautiously, waiting to see what Giles knew.
“Well, I have heard from the Council again since then. It seems that they’ve tracked down some texts that list the exact same situation, and it seems that you are no longer what you were.”
“WHAT?” demanded Buffy, making her eyes go huge as if with surprise. “But…but…”
“No arguing with it, Buffy. It’s the way it is. You’ll need to watch out; if anyone hears there could be reprisals.” Tony was looking decidedly confused, while the rest were quickly figuring out what Giles was talking about. Willow and Xander both gaped, their expressions matching Buffy’s, while Miss Calander’s mouth formed a much more polite ‘o’.
“Now, on other matters, have you made funeral arrangements yet?” asked Giles gently. Now that he knew what was going on, he understood. It didn’t mean he was completely happy about it, but he understood, and he knew why Buffy had done what she did.
“We stopped at the funeral home on the way over and made the arrangements. It’s set for tomorrow afternoon, and she’s to be cremated straight after. It’s just a small service, probably just us really, and one or two ladies from the gallery.”
Giles nodded, considering. “What about a wake?” he asked, and Buffy shrugged. “Well, how about you leave that to me, then? I’ll organize some food and drinks, bring them with me to the funeral parlour, how’s that?”
“Thanks, Giles,” whispered Buffy, standing and giving her Watcher a hug.
“You’re welcome, Buffy. She was a lovely woman,” he told her, hugging her back.
There was movement down the back of the library, and Angel appeared between the shelves, drawing the eyes of all in the room.
“Angel!” cried Buffy, and he stepped down, wrapping her in his embrace.
“Sorry, I tried to come earlier, but I got held up,” Angel explained.
“Who is this?” asked Ziva softly, and Giles chuckled slightly.
“That is Angel, Buffy’s boyfriend,” replied Willow, while Xander growled softly in his throat.
“Isn’t he a bit old for her?” asked Tony, giving the man a policeman’s eye.
“You have no idea,” muttered Xander, glaring at the vampire.
“How old is he?” asked Ziva, staring hard at the man. Something about him tickled her memory, but she couldn’t place it.
Angel sniffed suddenly, and turned towards Ziva. “This would be Ziva then,” he said, having overheard the entire conversation from behind the stacks. “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said, shaking hands while keeping his other arm around Buffy’s waist.
Ziva’s eyes widened as she felt how cold his skin was, and a second later she was dragging Elizabeth out of his grip and slamming him to the floor.
“ZIVA!” shouted Elizabeth, startled. “It’s alright,” she reassured her sister.
“Elizabeth! He is a…” her voice trailed off, not wanting to say the word. She kept Angel pinned on the floor, arm up behind his back and foot on his neck. Angel held still, not wanting to aggravate the woman holding him.
“I know what he is, but he’s different,” Buffy told her, desperately. “He…he has a soul, alright?”
“A soul?” asked Ziva slowly.
“It makes him different. The only one of his kind,” Buffy told her, and slowly, Ziva released her grip, stepping back and allowing Angel to stand.
Tony was standing, one hand at his hip where he would normally have a weapon, trying to understand what was going on.
“It is fine, Tony,” Ziva soothed him slowly. “It is fine.” She wasn’t sure how to act. She didn’t approve of the relationship, but didn’t know what to do about it. She decided to let it go for now; Elizabeth wasn’t even going to be in Sunnydale much longer, and she could only hope that the vampire would stay behind.