The Gypsy, the Witch, and the Slayer
See Part 1. It still applies.Warnings:
See Part 1 also. No change there.Words:
Hermione watched curiously, mentally taking notes. The scene unfolding in front of her was fascinating. She couldn't wait to get to the library and research the idea of soul-mates and their effects on spells. Not paying attention to anything else, she started in surprise when a hand was placed on her shoulder.
"I believe we should give them a little privacy," Professor McGonagall told her in a whisper.
"Yes. You will be able to talk with them later," Professor Dumbledore agreed before stepping over to the red headed witch and saying something to her in a voice too low for Hermione to make out.
Rejoining them, Dumbledore motioned the two witches out into the hallway, past a curious medi-witch in the distinctive St. Mungo's lime green robe. "They will join us in a few minutes," he said, leading them down the hallway.
Everything had been dark and quiet for so long that she'd lost track of time. She came back to herself with the vague sense that she was no longer alone. The first thing she felt was something soft and warm touching her lips. Trying to think back to where she was all Janna could remember was the brief feeling of terror as Angelus grabbed her neck. And then perpetual darkness of a sort she couldn't begin to describe.
She savored the feeling, gradually recognizing it as the contact of soft lips against her own. It was a kiss of a sort she hadn't experienced in years. Not since the Kalderash elders had sent her out into the world to prepare for her role as their eye on Angelus, leaving her first love behind. Something inside of her compelled her to respond. Beginning gently, it became more forceful as she responded, becoming an active participant in the kiss. Breathing in when it stopped, she detected a faint hint of bubble-gum and cinnamon.
Hearing a soft voice and giggle just before the amazing kiss stopped, Janna reluctantly opened her eyes to find herself looking up at the almost familiar face of a beautiful blonde. It took several seconds for her surprised mind to realize she'd been kissing Buffy Summers or someone who looked very much like an older version of her.
Shocked, she gasped out her name. "Buffy?"
"Hey!" the blushing blonde responded, confirming her guess.
Janna continued looking up at Buffy, wondering why she'd kissed her. Not that she objected, much, to the kiss itself but it was very unexpected and strange given the relationship she'd had with her. And the age Janna was sure she'd been only moments ago.
Out of the corner of one eye she saw another familiar looking face, this one with red hair, talking quietly with an oddly dressed old man with long white hair. "You're older." Janna stated. Gingerly, she turned her head. "And Willow?" she asked as the old man left the room.
"Yup. Older too," Willow said. Janna wondered about the odd expression on her face.
"It's been a while," Buffy added quickly.
"I was dead, wasn't I?" Janna asked cautiously, her voice rough after what she imagined must have been a long time of disuse.
"Very. But you got better," Buffy told her, stepping back from her bed.
"Gee Buffy, break it to her gently," Willow muttered.
"What am I doing here?" She looked around, trying to shove the idea that she'd somehow been brought back after dying into a far corner of her mind to be examined at a later time. "And where is here?"
"There was an accident," Willow said. Janna frowned at the barely audible snort from Buffy. "You're in a hospital that specializes in magical illnesses. In London. England," she clarified.
"Okay..." Janna wondered how she'd gotten there. Dead in Sunnydale was a long way from alive in a London hospital.
"What do you remember last?" Buffy asked her before she had a chance to formulate the thought into a question.
She grimaced, shakily rubbing her neck with a hand. "Angelus. And the sound of something snapping." She noticed Willow turning pale.
"Sorry," Buffy murmured, looking down.
"For what?" Janna asked, confused at the response.
"For not stopping him in time."
"You must have stopped him eventually," Janna said. "You're both still alive." She wondered where Rupert was but was afraid to ask. Surely he would have come with them?
"Yes," Buffy agreed. "We all made it. And we've faced worse things than Angelus over the years. But it wasn't my finest hour. If only..."
"Let's not get into that now, Buffy," Willow interrupted her in what Janna thought was an overly stern manner. "Plenty of time to catch her up on everything later."
"If I was dead, how did I get here?" Janna finally asked. She couldn't see much from her position on the bed but it didn't quite match how she remember hospitals being.
"What do you know about wizards, Miss Calendar?" Willow asked.
She looked at her in surprise. "Not much. They are even more secretive than my people are."
"They were poking around in the Sunnydale ruins and found you."
"Ruins?" She stared at them in surprise. She couldn't imagine Sunnydale in ruins.
"Well..." Buffy shifted nervously. "Things got a little out of hand a few years ago. We sorta, kinda, accidentally destroyed it."
"Oh..." She continued looking intently up at them, wishing she had the energy to sit up. Maybe things would make more sense then. "How long have I been gone?" she asked bluntly. From the looks they were giving her, she was sure how she'd been brought back could wait.
"A few years," Buffy mumbled. Janna looked at Willow with her best teacher face, which never failed to elicit a response from the most stubborn student, hoping for a more exact number.
"Umm... ten years," Willow said reluctantly. "But you were only dead for a couple of them," she added. "And we're really glad to have you back, though I'm not sure what Giles is going to say, and it really was an accident; I didn't really mean to leave you there, but there were circumstances..."
Not quite able to decipher Willow's babbling comment, but vaguely comforted by her mention of Rupert, Janna could feel herself slipping away into sleep, no matter how much she resisted. "You'll have to explain it all when I wake up..." she whispered before things went dark again.
Stepping into the waiting room they'd used earlier, Hermione was surprised to find Harry and Ron sitting in a corner playing wizarding chess.
"Crookshanks..." Ron began
"was driving him crazy," Harry finished for him. "So..."
"we thought we would see what you were up to," Ron added with a wink.
Hermione rolled her eyes. Ever since they'd finished Auror training and had become partners they'd taken great delight in annoying their friends and family with the pseudo-twin communication spell they'd come up with as their graduation project. As useful as they seemed to find it, Hermione suspected that it was the real reason neither of them had managed to stay in a relationship for more than a few weeks.
Very few witches, she'd observed, seemed to be willing to be a part of their odd relationship for very long. She knew that if she hadn't already known them as well as she did, their behavior would have been annoying, not mildly amusing.
If Padma and Parvati Patil hadn't disappeared during the chaos of the weeks before Voldemort's accidental defeat at the hands of Neville Longbottom, she thought they would have been perfect for the two overgrown boys. She knew they would have understood Harry and Ron a lot better than anyone except Fred and George. Assuming she could have convinced them to put aside their long standing annoyance at the pair for their behavior at the Yule Ball. But now she would never know.
After glancing towards Dumbledore and McGonagall, who seemed intent on having a private conversation in another corner, Hermione sighed and flopped down onto the small settee next to her friends.
"What do you know about vampire slayers?" Hermione asked hopefully, aiming her question at Ron. He'd finally found his niche in life when he'd become an Auror. His knowledge of dark and magical creatures was second to none, and only Harry seemed to know more than he did about magical defenses against the Dark Arts. And she knew it wasn't just because they now had access to the Auror library in the Ministry. Vampire slayers had been only briefly mentioned in their seventh year 'Defense against the Dark Arts' class so if anyone knew more about them than that it would be Harry and Ron.
"Dangerous..." Harry said.
"girls..." Ron added.
"who fight evil," Harry continued. "We had a whole chapter on them in our 'Dark Creatures' book at the Academy."
"Really?" said Hermione in surprise. That was even better than she'd hoped.
"Yes." Ron paused a moment in thought, running his hands through his long red hair. "They aren't usually evil but the magic that created them is very dark. It sets off dark magic detectors. We had to learn how to identify them so we wouldn't interfere unless it was a real emergency. Not that we've ever met one."
Hermione raised an eyebrow at this. Ron or Harry agreeing to stay out of a fight? The moon would sooner be green. "And...?"
"That's all we know. The Ministry has a strict hands-off policy," Harry told her. "We can't help one unless we're sure they are about to die. Even their names are kept secret."
"Them? I thought there was only one at a time," Hermione asked in surprise, thinking about the little she knew.
"Not exactly. Something happened a few years ago, no one knows exactly what, and suddenly there were dozens of them." Harry looked at her curiously. "Why do you want to know?"
Hermione watched them closely as she spoke. "One of the people who came to check into the gypsy I found in Sunnydale is a vampire slayer," she said. They didn't seem too surprised by the revelation.
"What's her name?" Harry asked.
"I believe it is Buffy Summers..." Ron groaned. Hermione looked on in surprise as he handed a galleon to Harry.
"There were two known slayers in Sunnydale before it was destroyed. She's one of them," Harry explained to her. "Ron was hoping it would be the other one."
Ron shrugged before adding, "Summers has been a slayer longer than anyone in centuries. There are a lot of rumors and legends about the things she's supposedly done. But not much is known about the other one. She's an even bigger mystery. I was hoping to meet her."
"How did you know a slayer was going to be here?" Hermione asked, frowning at them.
"Professor Dumbledore," Ron said before turning back to their game for a moment to move a piece.
"Not exactly," Harry corrected, before reaching over and moving one of his own pieces. "St. Mungo's wouldn't accept your gypsy without Auror approval. We've been keeping an eye out for anyone visiting her. So we knew that Professor Dumbledore was sending for Willow Rosenberg to look at her."
"She never travels anywhere without a slayer," Ron said without looking up, his attention once more focused on the game.
"Really?" Hermione tried to think of a reason for a powerful witch to travel with a mystical demon hunter as a body guard but nothing came to her. Even with what Professor McGonagall had told her, the woman hadn't seemed so special. "Why?"
"No idea," Harry admitted. "We do know she belongs to the ancient order that watches over the slayers."
"But you wanted to meet a slayer," Hermione concluded. "And thought this would be your chance."
"Yes." Harry gave her the puppy-dog look she was sure he'd learned from Professor Dumbledore. At least he didn't ply her with lemon drops. "Can you introduce us?"
"Does this mean Sunnydale really did have a vampire problem?" she asked them, as the thought suddenly occurred to her. She blushed at their expressions. "Right. Stupid question."
Sitting in a chair next to her bed, Buffy watched Jenny sleeping fitfully. She wasn't ready to admit to any feelings involving the older woman but being this close to her was having an unexpected effect on her emotions. She was finding that just watching her breath was an extremely soothing activity.
"What's up?" Buffy asked Willow after she had finished talking with the brightly dressed witch who'd appeared as soon as Jenny had fallen asleep.
"They've never seen a case like hers so they want to keep her here overnight. Just to make sure she's okay. We can come back for her tomorrow afternoon," Willow told her cheerfully.
"And then what are we going to do with her? Where is she going to go?" Buffy asked. "What about the wedding?"
"No reason to change that," Willow said, pulling her out of the room.
"Shouldn't Giles decide that?" Buffy said.
"Nope." Willow shook her head with added emphasis. "We know she isn't his soul-mate."
"Are you sure about that?" Buffy protested, feeling herself being dragged into something she wasn't sure she wanted to even acknowledge.
"Spell? Kiss? Sleeping Beauty? Any of that ring a bell Miss Denial?" Willow said, poking her none too gently.
"Hey!" Buffy grumbled. "What about her? Doesn't she get a say in this?"
"Well... if you really don't want her," Willow said, a mischievous glint in her eyes making Buffy nervous, "even though she is definitely a 'gypsy sex-kitten'..."
Buffy blushed as her own words were thrown back at her. "I was just saying," she tried to defend herself.
"As I was about to say..." Willow continued, frowning at the interruption. "If you don't want her I have plenty of room in my bed. I bet she warms things up really well on cold nights."
Hearing a strange sound, almost animal-like, Buffy stopped short. "Did you hear that?" she asked her friend.
"Hear what?" Willow stared at her wide-eyed for a moment before breaking into a fit of giggles.
"What?" Buffy asked, confused at her reaction.
"It was you," Willow told her, taking too much delight in her confusion for Buffy's taste.
"No it wasn't!" Buffy objected.
"Yes it was," Willow countered with a straight face. Buffy wondered at the sad look that briefly appeared in her eyes. "Kennedy used to do that whenever Oz visited. Or someone got too close when we went dancing."
"What do you mean?" Buffy asked.
"Slayers are very possessive. Territorial even." Willow grinned at her. "You've already decided to keep her."
"Have not," Buffy grumbled. She hadn't had much time to think about the events of the last hour but she was sure that what Willow was suggesting was the furthest thing from her mind. That was even assuming Jenny would be interested in a run-down old slayer like herself. Someone like that could certainly do better, she thought sadly.
"Who are the two hotties?" Buffy asked, spotting two men sitting next to Hermione Granger, as they turned into the waiting room so Willow could speak with Dumbledore before they left.
Willow gave them a quick look, murmuring "I think they belong to her."
"Darn!" Buffy pouted. "I wonder if she'd let me borrow one or both of them for a little while." She could feel Willow giving her a long look, but pretended not to notice.
"Are all slayers just walking hormones?" Willow whispered.
Turning back to her friend, Buffy raised an eyebrow in a silent question. Shaking her head, Buffy asked "Do I look like Faith?"
"All right." Willow sighed. "I have to talk with Albus for a minute. You can go check out the witch's boy toys. But no sampling just to prove me wrong about you and Jenny."
"Yes mom," Buffy grumped. "No touching. See if I go with you next time."
Willow reached over and gently brushed several stray hairs out of Buffy's face. "We'll figure this out. I just don't want you to make things even more complicated before we do. Go introduce yourself." With that she gave Buffy a push in their direction before walking over to the other corner.
Hearing voices, Hermione looked towards the waiting room door. The witch and her slayer were standing there, looking towards them as they talked. She watched in surprise as the blonde slayer, Buffy Summers, headed in their direction while the other woman walked towards the professors on the other side of the room.
"Want to introduce me to your friends?" Buffy asked in a rich, smooth voice that sent shivers down Hermione's spine before ending up like a small ball of flame in the pit of her stomach. "I'll keep them out of trouble while you go play with the smart kids," Buffy told her with a small grin.
Hermione looked back and forth between her and the small group deep in discussion across the room. She just knew she was missing something important. But she wasn't sure if it was a good idea to leave Ron and Harry alone with her.
"Go ahead, Hermione," Harry told her. "We can keep her entertained while you do your thing."
Buffy gave him a bright smile before turning back to Hermione. "I promise not to break them," she said with a slight smirk.
Hermione looked at her friends, both of whom were trying to subtly shoo her away. Standing up, she nodded in agreement and gave in to the inevitable. "Okay. But I want them back in one piece," she told the slayer bluntly. "That one is Harry Potter, and the other is Ron Weasley." When Buffy didn't give any indication that she recognized their names, she added "They're Aurors. They enforce Ministry rules about the use of dark magic."
"Magic cops?" Buffy looked at them curiously. "Cool."
"And you're the oldest living vampire slayer..." Ron prompted.
"You've heard of me?" Hermione noticed her shrinking into herself slightly. "Only good things I hope!" she said, gracefully sliding into the seat Hermione had just abandoned.
"Other than a rumor or two, we really only know you are the oldest living slayer," Harry told her, leaning forward eagerly.
"and you were in Sunnydale," Ron added seamlessly.
"We wanted to hear all about it," Harry said, waving Hermione away.
"What's it like?"
Hermione shook her head before heading across the room to join the other conversation. No one could resist the two of them when they worked together. She would learn more about Buffy Summers and vampire slayers from Harry and Ron later than if she'd stayed to listen.
It was fascinating to listen to Willow Rosenberg as she and Professor Dumbledore discussed Jenny Calendar, gypsy curses, and resurrection spells. But she couldn't resist an occasional glance towards the laughter coming from Harry, Ron, and Buffy.
"She won't steal your boyfriends," Willow told her at one point.
"Boyfriends?" Hermione squeaked. "They aren't. Just really close friends."
"Really?" Willow murmured. "Your auras seemed to fit together a lot closer than they would for just friends."
Hermione stared at her, aghast at the idea. "But, but... they're like brothers."
"Oh. That might explain it. We probably shouldn't tell Buffy that," Willow said. "She's having problems with the whole idea of having a soul-mate who is a woman. She might try to prove me wrong. You might want to warn them before they get any ideas. I don't want anyone interfering with this," she told Hermione firmly.
"Okay..." Hermione said. She looked at the professors who both nodded in agreement. She didn't think telling either Harry or Ron to keep away from the blonde slayer would do much good if either of them found her interesting, but she would pass along the message.
It had gone much better than either of them had expected. They hadn't had to resort to threats of any kind. The medi-witch who'd been looking after Jenny Calendar had given them the name of a local practitioner near Oxford and, with strict orders for them to bring Jenny to see her in a months time, had given them permission to take her home.
"Do you think he suspected something?" Buffy asked Willow, as they headed down the hallway.
"Giles? After you asked him half a dozen times last night if he was really sure about getting married? And you brought up Jenny how many of those times?" Willow shook her head. "Why would he suspect anything?" she said, her tone sarcastic and biting.
"Do you think we should talk with Lady Penelope?" Buffy said. "Get her on our side?"
"Eventually," Willow agreed. "You'll have to apologize to her first though."
"Me? I didn't do anything!" Buffy said.
"I had to explain to her last night, more than once," Willow grumbled, "that you weren't try to stop their wedding by bringing up someone Giles had known ten years ago."
"Why would she think that?" Buffy asked, mystified.
"Buffy!" Willow glared at her. "What did you expect her to think? And if you hadn't been his favorite slayer she would have stomped all over you, slayer or not."
"Not that," Buffy mumbled as they waited for an elevator to take them up to the ward Jenny was in. "I just wanted to make sure."
"That Giles didn't still want Jenny." Willow nodded as if that confirmed something. "I get that. Everything is under control. It'll work out. If you don't mess things up any worse than you have already."
Buffy tried to give Willow her best sorry, penitent, and all those other words for 'I know I screwed up, please forgive me.' look . She wasn't sure if she succeeded but from Willow's snort of amusement the effort hadn't been completely wasted.
"What are we going to tell Jenny?" she asked.
"The truth?" Willow said. "Things are going to be complicated enough as it is. I want to keep her out of sight until the right moment after the wedding. And you and she need to have a long conversation somewhere in there about the whole soul-mate thing."
"Can't we just forget it ever happened?" Buffy asked hopefully.
"What's the second rule of the 'Life of Buffy'?" Willow asked her.
"You mean the one about ignoring the obvious?" Buffy said.
"Yup, that's the one. 'Denial leads to Disaster'"
"But I like denial!" Buffy told her, pouting for added effect.
"Did you take one of Hermione's boys out for a spin last night?" Willow asked.
"No... you know I didn't. Though it would have been nice to know they were available before the rehearsal," Buffy grumbled.
"Why not?" Willow asked.
"Because it didn't feel right," she said.
"Soul-mates," Willow said triumphantly.
"What does that mean?" Buffy asked as they stepped out of the elevator.
"It's really simple," Willow told her gleefully. "Now that you've met your soul-mate you aren't going to be happy with anyone else."
"Well... that sucks!" Buffy pouted, for real this time. "What if we don't like each other?"
"You sure have a funny way of showing that," Willow told her with a laugh. "Unless you kiss everyone you dislike like that."
"No. That was an amazing kiss," Buffy said, feeling herself blush. "But what if that is all there is to it?"
"It can wait. Let's worry about the obvious problems first," Willow said, hushing her up as they approached Jenny's room.
Hurriedly stepping into the room first, Willow watched Jenny closely as Buffy followed. Even if they weren't aware of it, she could tell there was the potential for something to happen between the two women. Jenny had visibly perked up at Buffy's appearance and Buffy had taken up a protective stance near her bed. Willow kept her amusement to herself. She hadn't had so much fun in months. Even the embarrassment of everyone knowing she'd messed up the spell that had brought Jenny back was worth the entertainment value she was getting from this.
Knowing that they would just try to pretend they weren't watching each other if no one said anything, Willow decided to get the ball rolling. "Let's get you out of here," she told Jenny. "Before they change their minds."
"Don't you owe me an explanation first?" Jenny asked. "Before I go anywhere with you?"
"Yes, we owe you one, but can we do it somewhere else?" Buffy asked. "I'm not any fonder of hospitals now than I was ten years ago."
"They're just going to let me go?" She looked skeptical.
"Willow has friends in high places," Buffy said with a slight smirk. "They couldn't say no."
"Actually, it was Buffy who convinced them to let you go," Willow demurred. "She does cute butch so well. They didn't know what hit them."
"Can we get her something better to wear?" Buffy asked, a pained expression on her face, waving at the plain robes Jenny was wearing, in what Willow thought was an obvious attempt to redirect the conversation away from herself.
"What did you have in mind?" Willow noticed that Jenny seemed very interested in the answer herself.
"You know..." Buffy waved her hands around vaguely. "Something more, umm..."
"Stylish? Sexy? Appropriate to her age?" Willow asked giving Jenny a wink.
Buffy blushed, shifting nervously. "Just something other than that."
"Do I have a say in what I wear?" Jenny asked them.
Willow noticed how nervous Buffy was and answered for both of them. "A little. As long as you agree with us."
"Okay. Something not too outlandish," Jenny said quietly. "I'm not sure I'm up to wearing whatever is considered fashionable right now." She waved at Buffy's outfit.
Willow looked at both of them for a moment, taking a quick peek into Buffy's head. Shaking her head, she decided it would be a good idea to not dress Jenny in whatever Buffy was envisioning her in. The last thing they needed was to cause a riot. "Don't worry. I've got just the thing for you. And it won't take hours to put on like Buffy's outfit did this morning"
"Huh? How would you know?" Buffy asked, her attention briefly drawn away from Jenny. "You didn't make it home last night."
Pretending to not hear Buffy's comment, Willow grabbed her arm and pulled her back several feet.
"If you stand too close the spell will be influenced by whatever is going through your head right now," Willow told her with a wink. "And you, Miss Hormone, might want to get to know Jenny quite a bit better before you start thinking about playing those kinds of games."
"Willow!" Buffy whined. "Stay out of my head!"
"Don't worry Miss Calendar, I'll protect you from the sex-starved slayer," Willow said with a laugh, before noticing the confused looks Jenny was giving them. Not waiting for a response, she concentrated and reached outside of herself for some of the magical power she could feel permeating their surroundings.
Buffy watched Jenny from the kitchen while pretending to help Willow put together dinner. She hadn't asked them any questions after they'd explained where they were going, just sitting quietly in the back of the car, staring out at the scenery, apparently deep in thought. Occasionally she'd moved agitatedly, as if she felt someone was watching her, but she'd continued to ignore the looks Buffy sent her from the front.
She'd seemed extremely surprised in the hospital when Willow had turned her hospital robes into a simple outfit - sandals, a knee length skirt and a linen peasant blouse. It was as if she hadn't really believed anything they'd told her until she'd seen Willow effortless perform magic with just a simple wave of a hand.
"What's wrong with her?" Buffy hissed at Willow, disturbed by Jenny's silence.
"She's probably noticed that everything is different. She lost time she won't get back. And she must know we are avoiding telling her something," Willow said before asking her own question. "How are you feeling?"
"Me?" She looked at her friend in confusion. "Okay... I guess."
"When you look at her, right now, what do you feel?"
"Is this more of that soul-mate stuff?" Buffy asked in annoyance.
"Just answer the question," Willow told her, gently turning Buffy's head away from Jenny with a free hand.
"I get this strange feeling here." She rubbed a spot at the base of her throat. "It isn't really painful but it is a bit intense."
"Like watching a really sad, romantic movie by yourself?"
"That's what it is!" Buffy blurted out. "What's causing it?"
Willow nodded as if that had confirmed something. "Tara could have told us what we need to know so much faster just by reading her aura," she muttered.
"You can't do that yourself?" Buffy asked in surprise. She'd seen Willow reading auras in the past. Or so she thought.
"I don't have the subtle touch we need here," Willow told her quietly. "It's a power issue. After what she's gone through it would be a bad idea for me to attempt to read her," Willow explained.
"So what do we do?" Buffy asked. "Is there anyone else?"
"No one I trust to keep quiet," Willow said. "You on the other hand..."
"You're most likely picking up feelings from her. You aren't bonded or anything like that so it'll be really faint."
"Oh..." Buffy turned and looked out at Jenny again. "And this bonded thing means?"
"Well..." Buffy wondered about the faint blush on her friend's face. "There's a ceremony. With magic. It sort of binds soul-mates together."
"Do Jenny and I have to do that?" Buffy asked nervously. They'd kissed once and Willow was talking ceremonies.
"Not if you don't want to," Willow said hurriedly. "It's a permanent thing."
"Like a Watcher's tweed fetish?" Buffy asked with a wink.
"No, that is curable. Eventually," Willow said with a laugh.
"What do you want to know first?"
"Who died?" Janna finally asked, dreading the answer. They'd avoided talking about anything substantial over dinner, Willow insisting that they wait.
"Of the people you knew?" Willow asked.
"Yes." The group around the slayer hadn't been very large but the occasional sad expression she'd glimpsed on Willow's face had to come from somewhere. The absence of both Xander and Giles seemed ominous.
"Ten years of death," Buffy muttered, looking at her intently. "It's hard to separate them out that way. They've all hurt and they're all still missed."
Janna winced at the pain she heard in Buffy's voice. "Who?" she repeated, watching Buffy get to her feet and retrieve a bottle of something clearly alcoholic and several large glasses from the kitchen. Filling them up halfway, she handed them out to the others before placing the bottle on the table between them.
"The gang survived High School," Buffy told her. "Even Angel, after Willow resouled him with your spell." She took a sip from her glass. "The mayor decided to turn into a demon and eat the graduating class. Snyder and the school were collateral damage when we stopped him."
"That's one way to put it. Plausible deniability," Willow murmured. "Wouldn't want MI6 to worry about you destroying Oxford like you have every other school you've been to."
"MI6?" Janna looked at her, puzzled by the change in topic.
"They like bugging the Council buildings," Willow told her in a stage whisper. "I think Buffy gave one of their super-spies the brush off in Rome a couple years ago. Haven't figured out which one yet but they've been trying to follow her ever since."
"My mom died during my second year of college," Buffy continued as if Willow hadn't said anything, taking an even larger sip, almost a gulp, from her glass. "And then so did I." Janna shivered at the emptiness in Buffy's voice. "Everyone else... I don't think you would know."
"Does Cordelia count?" Willow asked Buffy. "I know she's not really dead the way both of you were." She turned to Janna. "She died and ascended to some higher plane. She visits when she gets bored," Willow added for her benefit.
"We've gained people over the years. And lost some of them."
"Tara and Kennedy." Willow raised her glass before taking a surprisingly large sip. At Janna's questioning look she added, "Old girlfriends."
"Wesley didn't survive LA. Could have used him over the years," Buffy said. "He was a Watcher. Showed up my senior year. They tried to replace Giles with him. He got better after he was fired and moved to LA. Anya, an old girlfriend of Xander's, was with us almost to the end but didn't survive Sunnydale."
"And Rupert?" Janna finally asked.
"He's not doing too badly," Buffy told her. "He hasn't gone out into the field in a while but he's still fairly active for an old man."
"Old?" Janna repeated in disbelief. He'd been in his early forties when she'd met him. Older than she normally preferred but Sunnydale had been short on any other appropriate male companionship during her time there.
"It's been ten years. They've been rough on him in some ways," Willow told her. "But we have a little help keeping him under control now. We have Lady Penelope to sit on him to keep him from going out every night."
Buffy snorted and said something under her breath that Janna didn't quite catch.
"Lady Penelope?" Janna felt a faint rush of sadness. "He's married?"
"Not yet, but you'll like her!" Willow gushed. "She's perfect for him. Very British."
"Except with excellent taste in shoes," Buffy added. "And she can wear tweed and still look fashionable."
Janna stared at her glass for several minutes before gulping it down, gasping as the alcohol bit into the back of her throat. As they'd told her more than once, it had been ten years. Plenty of time for him to forget about her. She sighed, feeling slightly foolish for having told him she loved him before she'd died. Her feelings for him hadn't been earth shattering but she'd hoped to have a chance to explore them.
"What'd he do when he heard I was alive?"
"We, ah, haven't actually told him," Willow said.
"Or anyone, actually," Buffy inserted.
"We don't want anyone interfering with his wedding next week," Willow told her firmly. "He loved you but he's in love with her. We'll tell him afterward."
"Who's being insensitive now?" Buffy asked, glaring at Willow.
"It's alright," Janna told Buffy, leaning across the arm of her chair and putting her free hand on Buffy's closest knee. "I prefer the honesty." She reached for the bottle and refilled her glass.
"What happened to Sunnydale?" Janna asked after another long silence.
"It's a long story," Willow said.
"No it isn't." Buffy objected. "It's your basic 'Ancient evil escapes from its prison because someone was using powerful magic and did something that upset the balance between good and evil. Evil runs around killing off all future slayers because I was rude to it several years ago. The potential slayers, the real slayers, and the rest of the gang face the Ancient evil and kick its butt."
"Okay. Short and to the point. But you left an awful lot out," Willow observed. "Is that your standard baby Watcher speech about Sunnydale?"
"Just a summary of it," Buffy told her. "They get a few more details."
"Such as?" Janna asked curiously.
"Well..." Buffy looked at Willow as if seeking permission for something.
"Go ahead. It's your story," Willow told her. "I need to go to bed. I didn't get much sleep last night. I can answer any questions you have for me tomorrow."
"You still owe me an explanation for last night. I want to know which one." Buffy pouted. "And where's Jenny going to sleep?"
"Faith hasn't moved in yet, so we still have the spare bedroom. She can have that," Willow said, fighting a large yawn. "We'll worry about Faith after the wedding. I'm sure she can find somewhere to sleep."
"The couch," Buffy told her firmly.
"Uh huh..." Willow said with a smirk. Janna wondered about that and the wink she saw her give Buffy. "Goodnight," she said, addressing them both.
"Goodnight Willow," Buffy told her, shaking her head.
"Okay... it's getting late so I'll run through this quickly. Why don't you come over here and sit?" Buffy leaned back into the couch, pulling her legs up underneath and sitting more or less Indian style, leaving plenty of room for Jenny between her and the end of the couch.
Watching her as she made herself comfortable, Buffy said, "You haven't asked yet but this also explains the whole 'not dead anymore' thing you have going on right now."
Jenny just nodded and reached for her glass again.
"The amazingly true story of how the Slayer and her merry band of vampire hunters, the world famous Scoobies, and a cast of dozens escaped the destruction of the Sunnydale Hellmouth."
"The who?" Jenny said, interrupting Buffy's attempt at a dramatic presentation.
"Sorry." Buffy thought for a moment. "The Scoobies. Like from Scooby-Doo? You know... those meddling kids? It started out as Willow, Xander, and Cordelia. Xander came up with it, I'm not sure when. It stuck." Buffy shrugged. "If Giles can be a Scooby you're a shoe-in for membership. We can grandfather you in for pre-Scooby service. If you want," she offered, intentionally leaving out that the current Scoobies had to approve new core members.
"Even though it was my fault you didn't know the truth about Angel's curse?" Jenny asked quietly.
"Once a Scooby, always a Scooby," Buffy told her firmly. "Everybody screws up, especially us. Fighting evil is hard work and there are a lot of grey areas that we trip over." Buffy gave her a quick smile. "Now hush so I can tell my story properly."
"Once upon a time..." she began, in what she hoped was an appropriate tone, mock glaring at Jenny's amusement, "there was a Slayer. She dressed fashionably and shopped, while stopping the occasional apocalypse. She had her Scoobies, her Watcher, even a Secret Agent boyfriend. She lived with her mother and her little sister."
"Sister?" Jenny asked, obviously puzzled. Buffy frowned at her sternly and continued.
"Yes, sister. They lived in a rather nasty, evil town and the Slayer went to school at a small college where she often dealt with evil, nasty people. Demon roommates, vampires, mad scientists, frat boys. The works.
"And then one day, after her boyfriend had run away to join the Army to prove how macho he could be and fight monsters without her emasculating help, she found out her little sister was not just her sister but also an important ingredient in a spell an evil Hell-goddess from another dimension needed to do to get home. The Slayer fought this Hell-goddess more than once, always loosing. In the middle of all this excitement the Slayer's mother died. She did not take it very well. She was already worn out with the years of constant fighting with no end in sight and this was one burden too many.
"Her friends couldn't help. I'm not sure if they even saw how bad off she was. Her Watcher might have guessed but they weren't speaking. And then this Hell-bitch stole the Slayer's sister. Very not cool. There was a showdown, the usual kind of thing, and the Slayer defeated her but she was too late. One of the Hell-bitch's happy minions decided to do the spell without her. Just for fun." Taking a deep breath, Buffy paused and took a long drink.
"The thing about this spell? Using the Slayer's sister's blood, it created a portal between many dimensions. And the only way to stop it from swallowing up the world was to stop the blood flowing. The Slayer knew that meant somebody had to die but she wasn't going to kill her own sister, no matter how annoying she could get, so she jumped herself. Closing the portal."
Buffy looked intently at Jenny. Becoming serious for a moment, she said, "I don't normally tell my audiences this but... I was more than ready to die. I really had reached the end of my ability to cope. It was the perfect out. It wasn't really suicide since I'd be saving the world. All I had to do was jump and I'd be with my mother." She shook her head. "But I hadn't counted on Willow, my talented, stubborn best friend. I couldn't cope with living but she couldn't cope with me being dead."
"So she brought you back," Jenny murmured. "It's very dangerous, dark magic."
"Once she made the decision, she had no choice. She tried other spells before she found one that could deal with the darkness within a slayer."
"Slayers aren't dark," Jenny objected. "You fight against the dark. Against true evil."
"No, slayers truly are dark creatures," Buffy corrected her. "The first slayer was created using dark magic stolen from a demon. It's one of the Council's dirty little secrets. We try to rescue the ones who fall too far into the darkness but we aren't always successful."
She frowned. "Where was I? Oh yeah..."
"The Witch, after much agonizing, and apparently with a small purchase from eBay, brought her friend the Slayer back. Afterward, it was not a good year for the Slayer or the Scoobies. The Witch became addicted to the power she'd needed to perform the resurrection spell. The Slayer couldn't get used to being alive again. After being in Heaven, because honestly, where else would a slayer like our heroine end up, Sunnydale was like a small slice of Hell. But with taxes and menial jobs."
Buffy paused for a moment at Jenny's shocked look to take a drink. "So she reacted badly, trying to find something that would make the pain go away. Even now, if you get her drunk enough, she'll admit to being embarrassed at the things she did and with who. If it hadn't been for the Witch's girlfriend, a Wicca with a heart of gold, things could have been much worse.
"Volumes will someday be written about the love between the Witch and the Wicca and what happened when she was ripped from the hearts of the Scoobies. But we won't get into that now. Time passed like it always does. The Slayer had her annual May apocalypse but this time her foe was the Witch, who became suicidal when her girlfriend was killed by a stray bullet aimed at the Slayer and decided to end her pain by ending the world."
"Willow?" Jenny asked, giving her a horrified look. "Tried to end the world?"
"Yup. And she would have done it too if Xander hadn't found a way to get through to her. A fun time was not had by all, but we survived and the Witch was sent off to England for dark magic detox and recovery. Where she apparently met some wizards, which somehow led to your awakening yesterday, but she hasn't told me that story yet."
Buffy looked at the clock and decided to speed things up. "So... the Witch comes back home and the Slayer gets a few prophetic rumblings, an extra vampire with a soul appears, and assorted creatures spout cryptic mentions of doom. Just your regular Sunnydale back-to-school activities. And then one day, the Watcher, who'd spent the summer and fall in England doing Watcher things, shows up on the Slayer's doorstep with a couple of snippety girls.
"Turns out, when the Witch brought the Slayer back an imbalance was created between Good and Evil. This thing that called itself 'The First Evil' was able to gain enough power to directly influence the world for the first time in forever. The Slayer had defeated it in its regular non-corporeal form years ago. It seemed to bear her a grudge and, with the help of Evil Preacher Man and its blind minions, started killing off future slayers left and right. The Watcher started running around, racking up the frequent flyer miles, trying to save them."
"Rupert?" Jenny asked.
"Yup," Buffy said. "Unfortunately, He wasn't very successful. Quite a few died before he got to them or died on their way to Sunnydale. The Council couldn't help, not that they were very helpful in the first place, because 'The First' had managed to blow them all up in the middle of some secret meeting. After much travail, and lots of dead girls, and the Witch's BF losing an eye, and the Scoobies throwing the Slayer out of the house in a hissy fit because it seemed like a good idea at the time, the Slayer found her Excalibur. Evil Preacher Man splits and Ms. Witch uses Excalibur to turn all possible slayers into real slayers while the Slayer leads her small band of slayer-sprouts down into Hell.
"The Slayer's formerly evil vampire boy toy, now with spiffy new soul, sets off a magical amulet the Slayer got from her previous vampire honey. That destroys The First's evil minions and some extra special, super-size vampires. The First goes down, and Sunnydale starts to collapse into what was left of the Hellmouth.
"No longer having a mall or the Bronze to celebrate their victory at, the Slayer and her Scoobies then spend the next few years chasing after all those new slayers and rebuilding the Council," Buffy said, exaggerating being out of breath. "And that's pretty much it."
"You seemed to have left a few things out," Jenny said.
"More than a few," Buffy agreed. "Somewhere, locked away in the London office, is an official history of everything that happened in Sunnydale after I became a Slayer. If you really want to read it. I think my version is much more exciting." She winked at Jenny. "What did you want to know that I didn't talk about?"
"You said your story would explain why I'm not dead anymore," Jenny said quietly. "I must have missed the explanation. I know I was somewhere but I don't think I was in Heaven like you think you were. Or maybe I've forgotten it all."
"Well... you remember I said Willow tried several different spells before she found one to bring me back?" Buffy asked.
"She says she tried one of those spells on you but she thought it didn't work," Buffy said, keeping her opinion about Willow's resurrection spell follow-through to herself, trying to suppress a shiver at the memory of digging herself out of her own grave.
"Why me?" Jenny asked.
"Umm... It was a spell by someone called Sappho. She said you fit the spell but I didn't," Buffy said, blushing. She didn't think Jenny needed to know about Willow's school-girl crush just then. "So, a couple years later some wizards are digging around what's left of Sunnydale, I guess looking for treasure or something, and one of them finds you and takes you to their favorite wizard hospital. They contacted Willow, she finished the spell, and here you are."
"Why did you kiss me?" Jenny asked.
Buffy blushed an even deeper red. "Do I need a reason? You're very kissable."
"Buffy! Please explain," Jenny said. "The last thing I knew you were very boy-centric. Which does not lead to kissing old women such as myself."
"Okay, okay," Buffy muttered, wilting under her stern gaze. "Willow wasn't able to finish the spell the first time because she originally wasn't powerful enough."
"And she is now?" Jenny asked.
"Oh yeah!" Buffy said. "I don't think there are many other witches as powerful. Not that she brags about it, 'cause -- still Willow."
"And..." Jenny prodded.
"There you were, Sleeping Beauty. Turns out the spell also required a kiss from a soul-mate," Buffy mumbled. "Willow had this crazy idea... so I kissed you," she blurted out.
"Soul-mate?" Jenny said faintly.
"Sorry," Buffy said, embarrassed. "It was very wiggy. But Willow claims it wasn't a fluke."
"You know, a mistake," Buffy said. "I don't know why or how she knows that for sure but arguing with her over something like that? Only someone very foolish would dare. Or Xander, he doesn't let her get away with anything."
"You didn't like kissing me," Jenny said, tilting her head and looking at Buffy as if trying to figure something out.
Buffy stared at her wide-eyed, not sure how to answer that statement. She wasn't sure how she really felt about the kiss the day before but dislike was definitely not the word to describe how it had made her feel.
"Words aren't really my thing," Buffy told her, deciding to skip trying to verbalize her feelings. Standing up, she stepped closer to Jenny, right into her personal space. Gently threading her hands through the startled woman's hair, Buffy pulled her forward into a deep, searing kiss.
She was so wrapped up, in what she was sure had to be one of the top ten kisses of her life, that she missed the sound of the apartment door being unlocked and opened. A situation that was very quickly remedied by the sound of her sister's voice screeching out her name, followed by a husky, familiar laugh.