the bunny warren v. Faith

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Still She Haunts Me, Phantomwise

Author: Mikelesq
Concept: In the future, an elderly Giles gets an unexpected visitor. Expounds on events from Season 5.
Rating: PG-13.
Tone: Way too serious.
Quality: Eh, so-so.
Feedback: Please.
Legal disclaimers: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" characters and situations are owned by Joss Whedon and the producers of the show. The title is from a poem written by Lewis Carroll, published at the end of "Through the Looking Glass." The story is entirely fiction. Distribute if you like.

Prologue


"Mr. Giles, if you don't finish your medicine, I can't let you watch TV."

"I see," Giles said, fiddling with the armrest of his wheelchair. "And I suppose if I don't eat my meat, I can't have any pudding?"

"Oh, Mr. Giles, you know you're on a strict diet," the nurse said. "No sweets for you. Now drink up!"

Giles looked down at the red viscous fluid in the paper cup, took a breath, and threw back the medicine in one gulp.

"There now," the nurse said. "Now I'll be back in a minute to give you you're sponge bath."

"I'll wait with baited breath," Giles responded as the nurse walked out of the small room. He wheeled himself away from the bed and toward the small night stand. He reached for the remote control. His arm ached as he extended it; years of abuse had made every limb sore.

He flipped on the television. A local station was running "Charmed" in syndication. Rather than run the channel filter through the other four thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine channels, he turned off the TV in disgust. The Master would have eaten those three birds for lunch, Giles thought, as he wheeled his way toward the door.

The rest home was unusually active for a Tuesday morning. The nurses had organized a Pokemon tournament in the lounge, and the competition was getting ugly. Mr. Halderman had apparently beaten Mr. Walters, and Mr. Walters was threatening to shove his hydraulic crane into an…uncomfortable orifice. Bloody Americans, Giles thought. No sense of decorum.

Giles went to the newspaper screen at the table of the lobby. He could have accessed it from his room's computer, but he was feeling bored. The narrow walls of his room had become claustrophobic.

He hit the FRONT PAGE button on the table. He read:

SYDNEY KOALAS WIN 2030 WORLD SERIES!

Giles hit the OFF button. American culture throughout the world had become all too pervasive for Giles' taste. He turned around and wheeled back to his room.

He looked around the room. He thought about spending the morning reading. His books were lined up on a shelf in the corner. They had traveled with him throughout his life like a faithful spouse. However, Giles had noticed that lately, like many faithful spouses, they had nothing to say to each other.

Giles closed his eyes. His days had been reduced to empty hours between medications.

"Mr. Giles," the nurse called from the doorway.

Horrid woman, Giles thought. "Sponge bath already?"

"No," the nurse responded. "You have a visitor."

Giles sighed. Every so often the young whelp who had bought the magic shop came by to ask a question or borrow a tome. Giles still attempted to pretend that the visits were tiresome. In fact, they provided his only distractions.

"Send him in," Giles said.

"Her," the nurse corrected. "She's right outside."

The nurse exited. Giles heard a set of footsteps approach. And then he saw her. Small. Blonde. Young. In fact, far too young. And apparently as confused as he was. Giles took a moment, and then said:

"Buffy!?!"


Part I


"So, like, when did you get old?"

"I didn't get old," Giles corrected as he hit the SEND key on his computer. "I aged. Apparently you haven't. I mean, you have. You did. I saw you."

"Well," Buffy said. "If I did, I missed it."

"The nurse, she saw you? She spoke to you?"

"Yep. She's a little weird."

"Astute as ever," Giles said. "Well, we know you're not some kind of an illusion, or a figment of my imagination, if others can see you."

"Could I be…a ghost? I mean, am I…?"

"You're quite alive."

"That's a relief," Buffy said. "I mean, I guess I broke the longevity records for slayers."

"You always were…I mean, are exceptional. When did you first realize that you were away from your own time?"

"Well, when I saw a city bus hovering past me, it was a bit of a clue."

"What's the last thing you remember?"

"Let's see," Buffy said, placing her index finger on her chin. "I was walking up to my room. Riley and I were going to the movies. I saw someone standing in my room. A girl. She had dark hair, and she was going through my jewelry box. Not like she was stealing, more like she was going to borrow something. Next thing I knew, I was out on the street and the cars were floating."

"Do you remember anything unusual about how Dawn acted?"

"Who?"

"Dawn…your sister. I mean, not really your sister, but…"

Buffy stared blankly at Giles. "Giles, have you gone senile on me?"

"People don't go senile anymore," Giles said. "They made a pill for it. You don't remember Dawn?"

"Nope. You called her my sister. Did I join a convent?"

"Hardly," Giles said. He was about to explain, but his computer screen flashed. He turned, and read:

YOU HAVE 1 CALL FROM BUFFYSUMMERS78214@AOL.GOV

"Buffy," Giles said, "go outside for a moment. I'll call for you."

"What's going on?"

"Buffy, please, trust me. I'll send for you in a moment."

Buffy scowled, but then left the room. When door closed, Giles turned to the computer screen and pressed the ACCEPT key.

The face of a woman appeared on the screen. Her hair was more gray than blonde, and lines had started to spider web around her eyes.

"I got your call," Buffy said. "What's going on?"

"I just had a very interesting meeting," Giles responded.

"With who?"

"You."

"Me?"

"Yes, you."

"Apparently I have a double," Buffy observed. "Is she evil?"

"No," Giles said. "Actually, she's rather sweet. She's also quite young. About twenty, I'd estimate."

"Well, we've seen stranger things. What do you suppose is making it happen?"

"I don't know, really," Giles said. "but there must be an explanation."

"I'll be on the next flight over. I can be there in fifteen minutes."

"I don't think that's a good idea," Giles said. "Until we know what brought her here, we don't know what effect there will be if we bring the two of you together."

"Giles," Buffy said. "I don't like the idea of you handling this alone. Let me contact Graham. He can have a team in Sunnydale by the end of the day."

"Buffy, I really think you're overreacting," Giles said. "There's absolutely no indication that there's any danger."

"Then why did you call me?"

"I was concerned," Giles said. "I thought, if this…girl…was here, then you might have…in any event, there's no reason to bring President Miller into this."

"Giles," Buffy said. "Promise me, if there's any trouble, you'll let me know."

"I promise," Giles said.

"Fine," Buffy said. "I'm in Berlin. I'll be in Hong Kong next week, but it's just some cult that's been sacrificing virgins. They've been worshiping a three-headed demon for the last four thousand years, so they'll still be there if I take a couple of days in Sunnydale to…"

"I promise I'll let you know if there's anything I need."

"Fine," Buffy said. "Keep in touch."

I wish we would, Giles thought to himself, and then immediately felt guilty for the thought. Buffy's work was incredibly important.

"Goodbye," Giles said. The screen went blank.

Giles paused to consider the problem. He turned to his computer, and instructed the data banks to cross reference the events surrounding Dawn's arrival with doppelgangers, doubles, and time travel. There wasn't time to do paper research. While the computer compiled the information, Giles heard a knock on his door.

"Come in," Giles called.

Buffy entered the room and asked:

"Um…Giles, are vampires still a secret?"

"Of course. Why?"

"Well, I'd better get a dustpan," Buffy said. "I just slayed your nurse. She was sucking on some guy named Walters. He muttered something about a guy named Pikachu."


Part II


"According to this," Giles said, gesturing toward the screen, "certain spells which replace memory can leave a residue."

"When did you learn to use a computer?"

"There everywhere now," Giles responded. "It's been thirty years. You can't avoid them. Now, please, Buffy, pay attention. When the spell replaces the memories of a person, the old memories become a sort of free floating energy that can, eventually, take on corporeal form."

"Corporeal? You mean, like, with rifles and green uniforms and stuff?"

"I said 'corporeal'" Giles explained. "In other words, living." God, Giles thought, I'd forgotten how exasperating she could be.

"So," Buffy said, "you're saying I'm not real. I'm just the stuff that was left over when those monks you told me about fiddled with the real Buffy's memory."

"I wouldn't say that," Giles said, sensing that Buffy (he had decided to call her Buffy for simplicity's sake) was upset. "You're the product of Buffy's actual past, not the artificial past that was invented for her memory. You're more real, in a way. Your memories are of actual events, rather than false ones."

"I guess I can live with that," Buffy said.. "So what do I do now that I'm here?"

"I don't know, really," Giles admitted. "You obviously have your powers. You proved that when you took care of that ghastly nurse. I always suspected that she dished out that red fluid a little too proficiently."

"So I just start slaying as usual. I'll probably need you to fill me in on some of the developments in the last thirty years. You know, like floating cars and stuff."

"They don't float, they hover," Giles corrected. "But you're right. We can't just unleash you on the undead until you know how to deal with the living. I don't know where to begin, really."

"Hmm," Buffy said. "I'd really like to know about fashions. And how the X-Files ended. And…well, about some people. I mean, Xander. And Willow. Oh, God, and Angel. And Riley, too, of course. And my Mom. Is my mom…? Wait a minute. Maybe I'd better not know. I should probably know more about what brought me here first. If I ever had to go back, and I knew the future, well, I suppose it could cause a whole weird 'Terminator 2' kind of illogic to happen."

"Well," Giles said. "At least I now know that you're really Buffy. I'm both impressed with your maturity and completely bewildered by your metaphors. Only you were able to do both simultaneously."

"Thanks," Buffy said. "I think."

"First thing to do is to find a place for you to stay. You can't stay here."

"As much as I hate to miss all the tapioca and knitting, you're probably right. Where do I go?"

"I have an idea."


Part III


The hovercab stopped outside a small house. Buffy and the driver assisted Giles out of the cab, and Buffy followed Giles as he wheeled up to the front door. Giles rang the bell, and a young man answered the door.

"Giles," he said. He spoke with an English accent. "Good to see you."

"Jason," Giles said. "I hope you are well."

"Quite," Jason responded. "Come in. I'll get Missy."

Buffy followed Giles and Jason into the living room. Jason left to get Missy (whoever that was), and Buffy said:

"It's quite the British-fest in here. Who is this guy?"

"He's Missy's Watcher."

"Watcher? As in Watcher's Council? As in crazy psycho Watcher's Council?"

"The Council is now a more relaxed organization," Giles explained. "I'd like to think I played some small part in bringing that about. Jason trains Missy. She's the current Slayer. She's quite talented. She is American, but no one's perfect."

"Wait a minute," Buffy said. "If I'm still…I mean, if the real Buffy is still alive, then how can there be a new Slayer? I mean, did they find a way to…oh, God."

Giles gave Buffy a minute to absorb what she had realized. Then Buffy asked:

"It's Faith, isn't it? Faith's dead."

"I'm afraid so," Giles said. "In fact, she's been dead for quite some time. There have been two other slayers since Faith."

"She was in jail when I…I mean, last I remembered. I…I hated her. At least, I thought I did. But now…was she, I mean, did she get…better?"

"She did," Giles said. "And, for what it's worth, the two of you mended fences. She died quite honorably."

"Giles," Buffy said, "if I ever ask another question about someone, give me an answer. Ten years after I ask. No sooner."

"Agreed," Giles said, as Jason entered the room with a young girl.

She looked about fifteen. She had bright red hair which fell straight down past her shoulders. She wore a maroon leather jacket (some things never change, Buffy thought) and dark canvas pants. She looked Buffy over from head to toe, and said:

"This is her? I see the resemblance."

"It's not a resemblance," Jason said. "It's her."

Missy turned to Giles and said:

"When did she show up?"

"This morning," Giles said. "She needs a place to stay. And she needs to learn a bit about how things have changed."

"Cool," Missy said "I could use some backup. Dalok's been getting aggressive lately."

Buffy decided to let the "backup" comment go, for the moment, and asked:

"Who's Dalok?"

"He's the new big bad among the vamp crowd," Missy explained. "He's up to something."

"No prob," Buffy said. "After beating Dracula, this Dalok guy shouldn't be too big of a deal."

"Drac was a pain," Missy said. "But he wasn't too much trouble when I faced him."

"Well," Buffy said. "I guess you're just all that."

The two girls stared straight into each other.

"Giles," Jason said. "Do you realize that there are now THREE slayers?"

"Yes," Giles said. "The world is doomed."

"Look," Buffy said. "I'm not here to step on anyone's toes. Actually, I don't know why I'm here. But while I am here, I might as well help."

"Agreed," Jason said. "I'll show you to your room."

Buffy shot a last look at Missy, then followed Jason up the stairs.

"She's a piece of work," Missy said to Giles. "Was she always this bitchy?"

"She did have an independent streak," Giles said. "Not unlike you."

"Whatever," Missy said. "I'm surprised you would even speak to her."

"I can't imagine what you'd mean."

"Oh, come on," Missy said. "After the way she's treated you. I'd never let my Watcher sit alone in some rest home without even calling."

"That's not fair," Giles said. "She's…very busy. She has quite a responsibility."

"She wouldn't be alive to take care of her responsibility," Missy retorted, "if you hadn't done such a good job looking out for her. When was the last time she even visited you?"

"Missy," Giles sighed, "when you get older, you'll understand that…."

At that moment the computer chirped. Missy walked to the computer, looked down at the screen, and then touched the ACCEPT key, saying:

"Hello."

The face of an elderly gentleman popped up on the screen and asked:

"Is Jason there?"

"He's upstairs, Lord Fields," Missy said. "Giles is here."

"Rupert," Lord Fields said. "I'm glad you're involved. It's Buffy."

"I know," Giles called out. "She showed up on my doorstep. Nothing that the Council need worry about. I brought her here to stay with Jason."

"Not her," Lord Fields said. "The real Buffy. Our Buffy. I just got word from our Council man in Berlin. Buffy collapsed while she was boarding her flight to Hong Kong."


Part IV


"Giles," Jason said, walking toward his dining room table with another pot of tea, "did the computer mention any explanation for Buffy's sudden problem."

"Nothing," Giles said. "Of course, the computer only targets specific queries, and even then it has no sense of intuition."

Buffy stared at the bottom of her coffee cup, then asked:

"Am I hurting her?"

"It's impossible to say," Jason said. "It could have nothing to do with your arrival. Buffy faces all sorts of dangers every day. There could be any number of causes of her sudden weakness."

"And she may not be in danger," Giles added. "Lord Fields said that Buffy is in stable condition. She just appears to have become exhausted. It may merely be fatigue."

"Thanks for that, guys," Buffy said. "But you don't really believe any of that, do you?"

Giles and Jason exchanged glances. Finally, Giles responded:

"We simply don't know. I've instructed the computer to research the subject further. It should take about an hour."

At that point, Missy ran down the stairs, and exclaimed:

"It's Dalok. He's at it again. The Watcher's satellite picked up some vamp activity down at the graveyard. He's probably recruiting."

"We'll go down together," Jason said, reaching for his coat hung near the door.

"I can handle this," Missy protested.

"You're still early in your training," Jason responded. "I must observe your progress."

"I'll go too," Buffy said.

"Buffy," Giles interjected, "it may not be a good idea for you to…"

"I can't just sit here," Buffy said. "I'll go nuts."

"It may be a good for her to get out," Jason said.

"Very well," Giles said. "But be careful."

Buffy walked to Giles' side, bent down, and kissed his cheek. "You always looked out for me."

Buffy, Jason and Missy walked out toward the door.

Giles wheeled his way toward the computer in Jason's den. The screen read

COMPILING

as a blue bar slowly grew longer.

Nothing to do, Giles thought. He took a moment to absorb the day's events, and realized that he had enjoyed it immensely. It was just like the old days, Giles thought. The computer chirped. Giles looked down at the screen. It read:

POSSIBLE LINK FOUND. PRESS ENTER TO REVIEW ANALYSIS

Giles hit the ENTER key. Three paragraphs of data scrolled down the screen. Giles read the writing, and then exclaimed:

"Oh, my God!"


Part V


"So what's the sitch?"

"Dalok is probably waiting for a bunch of vamps to rise," Missy said, crouching behind a gravestone next to the one Buffy used for cover. "He and his goons went on a real feeding frenzy last Wednesday. He probably has about three new followers ready to sprout."

"Where's Jason?"

"He'll be watching from behind the big oak tree with the DigiCorder. We record all our encounters so we can study the fight later."

"So," Buffy said, "how long have you been at this?"

"About six months," Missy responded.

"I remember my first six months," Buffy said. "It was hard, but…"

"Look," Missy said. "I appreciate the backup. And the person you became, she's done a lot. It kinda gives you hope, that you can actually do this job and live long enough to collect on your IRA. But I don't like you. I don't want to be your friend."

Buffy recoiled. "Exactly what did I do that was so horrible?"

"It's what you didn't do," Missy said. "Pretty much as soon as Giles got stuck in that wheelchair, you blew him off. Always running around with that boy toy of yours. Hell, when USAir went all supersonic, you barely ever came back to Sunnydale. Giles deserved better."

"I'd love to apologize," Buffy said, "but it's hard when you're talking about something I didn't do."

"Haven't done," Missy corrected. "Yet. You will."

Buffy was about to respond, when suddenly a growl came from the corner of the graveyard. Buffy and Missy both turned toward the sound. Missy drew a stake. Buffy snapped her fingers at Missy, and Missy threw a spare stake to her.

The dirt on a fresh grave was stirring. A hand, then an arm emerged from the soil. Buffy and Missy crept toward the rising vamp. Missy was focused on the vampire, but Buffy heard a twig snap behind them. She grabbed Missy's arm, and pointed toward the brush.

Two vampires sprang from behind the bushes. Missy turned to face the pair, but Buffy turned to face the rising vamp in order to cover Missy's back. It was then that Buffy saw two vamps emerge from behind a mausoleum, and another vamp come from behind a tree.

"Missy!"

Buffy and Missy turned toward the voice. It was Jason.

"Fall back," he shouted. "It's a trap!"


Part VI


Giles heard the door open, and then slam shut. He turned toward the hallway, and saw Missy run up the stairs.

"Missy," Giles called. "Missy?"

Giles then heard a slow set of footsteps come from the foyer. Buffy stood before him, a stunned look across her face.

"Buffy," Giles said. "What's happened?"

"It's Jason," Buffy said. "He's…he's…dead."

"Oh, my Lord," Giles said.

"Missy's taking it hard," Buffy said. "I know how she feels."

"Of course you would."

"Maybe you should go talk to her."

"I can't," Giles said. "Not yet. There's something else that will be…difficult. I have bad news, and it can't wait."

"What's wrong?"

"It's you," Giles said. "Our initial information was wrong. Or at least, it was not complete."

"I'm the one making the other Buffy sick, aren't I?"

"I'm afraid so," Giles said. "It seems that you aren't 'free floating' energy. You were a separate part of Buffy's life force, but still part of Buffy all along. Somehow you were drawn out of her. Your memories, they may not have been conscious, but you're a part of her spirit. You're the basis for her whole psyche. Without you, her soul is incomplete. She'll die if you aren't returned."

"So it's her or me."

"I'm sorry," Giles said. "We may be able to research some other solution…."

"But Buffy may die in the meantime," Buffy said. "You'd better do whatever you have to do."

"There's a spell," Giles said. "We really don't have time to delay. I am sorry."

"It's OK," Buffy said. "It's not like I really belonged here."

Giles paused, then said:

"You always were heroic. I'm so proud of you."

"Eh," Buffy said, "it comes with the job. At least I know some part of me will live on."

"What I don't understand is how you got here," Giles said. "The research indicates that the energy of the separate memories can only be drawn out by some event or force which calls it forth. It's like a poltergeist. It's drawn to mental energy arising from a human crisis. I'd normally say it had to do with Jason, but he wasn't dead yet when you…"

"You," Buffy interrupted.

"Excuse me?"

"It was you," Buffy said. "I came to you. I was drawn to you. I was wandering around town looking for something familiar, when I saw your name on the activities list on a board at the rest home door. I thought it was a coincidence, but I must have been drawn there. Was there any reason why you needed me? Maybe that vamp nurse? Some part of you may have sensed that she was…"

"No," Giles said. "I don't believe that was it. It was less…dramatic than that. I guess I felt…I mean, I needed...well, we can't wait. The research indicates that waiting more than twelve hours can…"

"I understand," Buffy said. "Really, I understand, Giles. I understand, everything."

Giles reached for his spellbook and opened the yellow pages.

"Giles," Buffy interrupted. "I don't know if I ever said this…I mean, I may have said it a hundred times in the last thirty years, but, I want to say it now. Thanks. Thanks for everything. Now that I know how long I survived, I want you to know that I wouldn't have lasted three weeks without you. And I love you. From what I've heard, I've neglected saying that in the last thirty years the same way I neglected saying it in the first four. I thought there would be plenty of time, and so much was always happening, but I always felt it. And I know that the real me feels it, too, even if she isn't very good about saying it. You were my friend, my father, everything I ever needed. Thank you so much."

Giles swallowed hard, unable to form words. Finally Buffy said:

"Do it."

Giles took a deep breath, looked down at the book and read:

"Fiat lux ad corpus."

A purple glow surrounded Buffy, and then she was gone.


Epilogue


Missy shuffled down the stairs. She saw Giles sitting, waiting for her. He asked:

"Are you alright?"

Missy shrugged.

"You can talk about it," Giles said. "It's alright to talk about it."

"What good will it do? He's dead. There's nothing I can do about it now."

"I suspect there was nothing you could do at any time."

"I'm the Slayer! It's my job to protect people! It was my job…"

"It was Jason's job to protect you," Giles said. "He was doing his job. You were doing yours. It's not your fault."

Missy bit her bottom lip, then asked:

"Where's Buffy?"

"She's gone," Giles said. "I mean, our Buffy is in Berlin. She's recovered nicely. The other Buffy…I performed a spell to reverse the magic that brought her here. She couldn't stay."

"So she's gone, right? I mean, it's not like she went back somewhere. She's just gone?"

"Yes."

"I'm sorry."

"Thank you," Giles said. "But she still lives on, in a way. She's part of what our Buffy is, where she comes from."

"Giles, what's going to happen to me?"

"That's largely up to you," Giles replied. "The Council will assign you a new Watcher. You can have a Watcher sent here, or you can relocate. You don't even have to be the Slayer. This isn't the twentieth century. Nobody will try to force you if you want to go back to your family."

"No thanks," Missy said. "I know I never talked about it, but my family…well, they weren't any kind of a family to go home to."

"Well," Giles said, "you have choices. And you don't have to decide now. Take as much time as you need. You've suffered quite a loss."

"So have you," Missy said.

"Get some sleep," Giles said. "We'll discuss this more…."

"Giles," Missy interrupted. "Could you be my Watcher?"

"Missy," Giles responded. "Be practical. I can't even walk."

"You don't have to walk," Missy said. "That's why it's called a 'Watcher.' Not a 'walker' or a 'runner' or a 'stander.' You know more about training Slayers than anyone the Council would send."

"Missy, I can't train you properly."

"Why? Because you can't duel with me? That's not what I need."

"Missy, it's important that you have the proper…"

"Giles," Missy said. She took a breath, regained her composure, and then continued. "I know what I need. I know more about my powers than Jason thought. I've read the Slayers' diaries. I know that there's darkness in my powers. I know that it's dangerous. I don't need someone to teach me how to fight. I know that, and what I don't know you can tell me without having to show me. I just need somebody. Not one of those cold fish the Council will send. I need someone real. Someone who knows what it's like to lose someone. Someone who needs me as much as I need them. Giles, I need a friend."

Giles thought for a moment, then asked:

"If I agree, will you promise to do everything I say, without question?"

"Um…" Missy said. "Sure. Of course. Absolutely."

"Liar," Giles said, a smile crossing his face.

Yes, Giles thought, this will be fun.

THE END


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