: Standard. Joss, ME, et al own everything, I'm taking them out for a drive and making nothing from it.
A/N: Slightly AU from Chosen on.
"So let's break this down, Giles," Buffy said, as soon as the door had closed on Angel. "This Hand must find her companions and bind them before 13 moons are gone, or LA blows up? Where is she, and where will she be looking so that we can help her?"
"Well, from the little I've read in this prophecy, and taking your questions in order, I'd answer you yes, in this room, and I'm not sure." replied Giles.
"Yes. Do you remember when we fought Adam a few years back?"
"How could I forget tall, dark, and Frankensteiny?"
"Well, when we cast the enjoining spell to defeat him, we each had names that symbolized different aspects of the enjoined Slayer, if you'll remember. You were the Hand, if I recall. I take it that this prophecy needed to differentiate between you and all of the other Chosen at this juncture. So you have a year, 13 moons, from when we destroyed the Hellmouth to bind all of your Companions in webs of love."
"Love, Giles? Are you saying that I have to have sex with everyone on this list? Besides the fact of not knowing them all, and apparently some of them being in a coma or dead, hello! Me being a ho much?" Buffy threw up her hands, sat down, and stared at the floor.
"Believe me, I understand how you feel, Buffy, especially since I seem to be on the list, myself."
"If you are the Hand, then equally I am the Mind. Besides, who else do you know that is a patriarch and troubadour?" Giles responded.
"Ozzy Osbourne?" quipped Xander. "Though I don't think that he would qualify for the mind portion of it."
"And let me put my vote in, for Ew!
on both those examples..." Buffy said from her chair.
"Indeed. But you may have to, Buffy, or at least that's what this prophecy seems to be saying. Do you know Socrates' levels of love?" queried Giles.
"I do! That's Eros, Philia, and Agape." Willow put in.
Giles smiled slightly. "Just so, Willow. What this seems to be saying is that you have to have a web of Eros, which is seen as physical or romantic love, as well as philia, which is family, or brotherly, love - "
"Like Philadelphia!" Faith piped up. "The City of Brotherly Love."
"Correct, Faith, and both of those are different than Agape, or selfless love. One interpretation of this prophecy would certainly state that you would have to have romantic love with them all, have family bonding with them, And feel selfless love with them. I'm not sure if we're seeing it correctly, but it won't hurt to work on that assumption." Giles finished by polishing his glasses.
"Otherwise known by everybody that is me as the 'Buffy the Ho' plan," Buffy muttered, holding her head in her hands. "I HATE PROPHECIES!"
"No, no, Buffy, you aren't a ho, and I don't think you'll become one," Willow said as she knelt down and held Buffy's hand in hers, looking into her hazel eyes. "See, hos are those who are with other people just for the sex, just for the Eros. If Giles is right and you have to express all three loves to everyone on that list, it wouldn't make you a whore, it would make you one of the most truly loving people in the world. Just think. How many people do you know that can keep so many people's affections at the same time. Sure, as a family, but as a partner? There just aren't that many. So you don't get to call yourself a ho, missy!" This last statement was accompanied by the expression everyone present knew as "resolve-face."
"Guess I can't fight resolve-face," Buffy said, grinning.
"Darned tootin'!" Willow said as she sat back down.
"If we are done assuring Buffy of her high moral standards, might I suggest that we try and determine who Buffy's Companions are? This should help us see just how much work we have in front of us." Giles said, smiling at the affection between the two young women he often looked upon as surrogate daughters.
"All right. Well, if Buffy's the Hand, and you're the Mind, Giles, that makes Xander the Heart....of course, seeing clearly with only one eye," she said, grinning at the young man who had so many times proved his worth to the group by seeing things and having the courage to let them know about it, popular or not. "But that leaves Spirit as....Buffy, do you really feel that way about me?"
"Pretty much from the day we met, Will," Buffy said, blushing and looking at the ground. "I hid it from myself for the longest time, but...yeah."
"Why didn't you tell me?" Willow asked.
"Well, like I said, I didn't know it myself for a long time. I didn't really admit it to myself until we had that thing with the Box of Gavrok, and I realized that my life would end if you died. But you were dating Oz, and then Tara, and then we were dealing with Tara's death, and then Kennedy, and I'd rather have your friendship then mess up your life and mine - and with my track record, I was terrified that that is exactly what I would have done." Buffy said, arms crossed and tears streaming down her face. "And I'm not trying to break you up with Kennedy now! But I made a promise to myself when I was in that tunnel with Dawn that I wouldn't lie to you if you asked me how I felt. And I did tell you, a couple of times. Remember when you decided to come to UCSD?"
"'I kinda love you.' I remember." Willow's eyes weren't exactly dry, either.
"And when Oz ran off after...Veruca, remember? You might have thought it was just as a friend, but it wasn't. Forgive me for waiting so long to tell you?"
"Of course, you goof! It was my fault as often as yours that we were crossed," Willow said with a grin, "now we just have to work on the future."
"OK, guys, get a room, damn! Of course there are quite a few rooms here..." Faith said, then stuck out her tongue.
Giles cleared his throat. "Quite right. So we have those -or rather we- four. Do we have any clue as to the rest?"
Xander raised his hand, "Well, the 'Sister who is Not' pretty well points to Dawnie." He looked over to Buffy who was looking very pale. "And she will be of legal age in a couple of months, so that's not a bar."
"A universe of Ew! Dawn's a beautiful girl, and I love her, but she's my sister!"
"Nevertheless. Moving on, that leaves us with the balance wheel, the seer, the mirror, the writer on walls, - " Giles was interrupted by Willow.
"I know that one. That's Fred, or Winifred. Angel rescued her from another dimension about the time that you died, Buffy." She looked sad for a moment. "She wrote all over walls because she had nothing else to write on, and she continued when she came back for a while. I think she's still working with them."
"Very good," Giles kept on down the list. "and the last is the demon that is not. Any ideas?"
"Well, it might be Angel. The soul kind of makes him straddle the fence. Or Lorne, he's a demon, but there's not a kinder person around." Faith pitched in. "Or I might be completely off base."
"I think we've got a good starting point. Guys, I think we have two, maybe three different directions here that we need to go in. First, we need to find the potentials that we have just turned into Slayers, and help them learn about themselves, as well as offering them a place in the fight. Second, we need to investigate this prophecy and try to not get LA nuked. And last, we need to rebuild the Watcher's Council. I'm not going to say how much I hated Quentin Travers, the jerks he had running the Council, and their approach to treating Slayers like animals or property, but the truth is that we need help, and training, especially at the start of our careers as Slayers. And we need to insure that Slayers are not alone - that's the fastest way to kill them." She cleared her throat nervously. "I know I'm not the only one to make decisions any more, and to be honest, I'm glad it's that way. But I have an idea about how we can accomplish our objectives." She giggled. "Oh, my god, I'm starting to sound like Wesley. Anyway, what I was thinking was that I would concentrate on dealing with this prophecy, and after, help out with apocalypses and training, but otherwise retire and advise. Rebuilding the council should be Giles' baby, and Faith? I think you would be the best at finding and training new Slayers. You have seen, through your experience and by watching me, most all of the mistakes that we can make, and I think that you can help them not to make as many as we did. All right?"
"Five by five, B."
"It sounds like an excellent starting point, Buffy."
"You've got my vote, Buffster."
"I'd suggest that anyone we know is on this list be left here, and if we find out someone that's out on a mission is on the list, they come back here. That will give Giles our most experienced people to help with his project, and give the people on mine something other to do than worry just about this. Anyone have any suggestions?"
"Yeah, B. I don't know about you, but I'm wiped, and I think everyone else is, too. There's nothing here that we have to worry about tonight, or this week, even. How about we all get some sleep and talk about it later?"
"Works for me. Keys are behind the front desk, according to Angel. Why don't we let Dawn figure out who goes where tonight?"