By Estepheia and Marcee
Part 12 - Hindsight is 20/20
"What?" Tara asked, hopeful. "You figured out what happened to Buffy?"
"Not quite," she answered, "but I think I know how to find her. Let's tell the others!"
Willow grabbed the book she was reading, took Tara's hand and dragged them both down the stairs to the center of the shop.
"I'm not sure Giles will be happy if you're planning on doing a spell," Tara murmured. But Willow wasn't listening.
"Xander! Anya! I've found what we need!" she squealed in delight. She struggled to open the book to the page she was looking at, and pointed. "Trans-Continuance Locator Spell! That's how we'll find Buffy."
"English, please?" Xander requested.
"It means I can find Buffy wherever she is in the space time continuum."
"But what if she's in hell?" Anya asked.
"Or another dimension?" Xander added.
"Anywhere," Willow answered proudly. "This spell can find her anywhere." If she had expected her friends to be instantly excited and eager to try it out, she was disappointed. They all gave her dubious looks.
"Sounds pretty potent," Anya said, sounding somewhat unsure. Tara nodded, glad someone else had voiced her concerns.
"Yeah, but it's not a problem," the redhead assured her cheerfully, as she walked around the shop picking up vials, chalks and a packet of incense sticks.
Anya picked up a pencil and a pad to record the prices of the objects and substances taken, but then she put them back with a sigh. "Tell me what components the spell requires," she said. "Then I can help you find the things you need." She pointed at the incense Willow was holding. "That's the cheap stuff for the esoteric fans," the ex-demon explained. "For Buffy, we'd better use the more expensive incense cones. We don't want the spell to go wrong, do we? At least not because of inferior ingredients."
"Could we just have that spell NOT go wrong - for whatever reason?" Xander asked, nervously. Somehow he couldn't help thinking of spells that had gone freaky in the past.
"Trust me, guys," Willow said. "I know what I'm doing. It'll be fun."
There were weapons scattered all over the hotel lobby. Cordelia was behind the front desk, delicately flipping through this month's Vogue Magazine, pointedly ignoring Angel's wacky attempts at getting her to train with him. He was playing with a sword, fencing with an invisible opponent, and making snide remarks about how although Cordelia's no longer a princess - she's still a 'royal' pain in the butt...
"Oh no," Cordelia yelped as she leaned on the counter for support.
[An almost full moon almost obscured by black smoke rising from thousands of chimneys - horse-drawn carriages - a curved river with fog seeping over the embankment - a dark alley and a swirl of arms and legs connecting in blows and kicks, a billowy skirt, a pale face framed by red hair - a familiar face, its bestial eyes glowing with feral fire...]
Angel dropped his blade and rushed to her side, "What is it? A vision?"
More images and sounds, distorted, fragmented. [Darla, in a beautiful robe, bestial face to the fore, smiling contentedly and licking her bloodstained lips - a cacophony of screams and insane laughter - a pile of dead bodies in blood splattered straitjackets - a thin black-haired woman, her face buried in the neck of a fair haired man, feeding...]
She tried to nod, but lost her balance and started to tip backward. She squeezed her eyes shut. "It's you," she gasped. She grabbed his arm for support. "And Buffy!"
Angel almost dropped her, but instead, led her to the couch to sit down. "Ow," she moaned. "You're fighting. But you're not you. And she's not her."
There was a bit more moaning, a few "Ow's" and if Angel weren't a vampire, Cordelia's nails might have caused permanent tissue damage. She was gripping his arm with all her strength until the worst of the migraine passed.
She sighed as she leaned back to rest her head on the back of the couch. The pain was passing. "Just a sec," she said as she rubbed her temples.
She took a deep breath and looked up at Angel. "You were Angelus," she said to him. Then, "Oh god."
"What? What is it?" he asked nervously.
"What's up with your hair? I mean, I thought this was bad." She gestured offhandedly toward his gelled spikes. "So glad I wasn't around back then."
Angel put an unsteady hand to his hair and frowned.
"You were Angelus and you were fighting Buffy."
"No, that can't be. No." He shook his head and stepped away from Cordelia. "No." His voice went up a little on that last `no'.
"But it's not really Buffy," Cordelia continued, "I mean, I know it's Buffy, but she doesn't look like Buffy." She considered for a moment. "It's weird, but it feels like this already happened..."
"What does that mean?" Angel interrupted. He was getting antsy.
She narrowed her eyes at him, "I wasn't finished. What I was saying was: it feels like it already happened, but also like it's going to happen...and...it's just weird. Almost like past lives or something. Why would the Powers be showing me past lives?"
"What does Buffy look like?"
"Red hair...thin...pale...pretty. She's wearing an old Victorian-style dress. Kind of pretty. Definitely not my style. I'd like to say it's almost like one of Anna Sui's Spring collection or maybe more Julien Macdonald, House of Givenchy . Oh, remember the dress that Jodie Foster wore in `Anna and the King'..."
"Cordy!" Angel interrupted. His patience was thinning - so he grabbed a small dagger out of the heap of weapons on the floor and began to fiddle with it.
"Oh, yeah. Buffy. Vision. Right. I get the feeling that she's..." Cordy paused and cocked her head, "In England?"
Angel began pacing back and forth in front of the couch. Cordelia closed her eyes to will the details of the burning vision back to the surface.
[A female hand unwrapping a small parcel and finding...]
"And I saw," she paused again. "Oh, cute," she said.
"What, Cordelia?" There was a tinge of irritation coloring his voice.
"A little stone angel. It's so cute. A tiny little cherubic figure - wings and all. Hand carved, I think."
Angel hurled the dagger he was holding across the room. It buried itself into the wall behind Cordelia. She eyed him sceptically, "Okay, maybe it wasn't so cute."
"Reperio per articulus," Willow chanted. She sat cross-legged on the floor as Xander, Tara and Anya stood by watching anxiously. The witch's eyes were black and her hands were glowing softly pink. "Reperio per tractus." Her voice was getting stronger, "Reperio Buffy Summers." Her hands hovered over Buffy's "Mr. Pointy" stake (a personal object was needed for the spell). It began to rise above the floor. "Effringo fenestra!" A small point of light exploded above the floating stake. "Reperio..."
There were three sharp bangs on the front door of the shop. The stake fell and the glowing pink lights abruptly vanished. "Damnit," Willow muttered.
Anya raced to the front door. There was a man in a dark suit standing just outside; he was waving an envelope. Anya glanced back at the small group in the middle of the shop and theatrically shrugged.
"Let him in, An," Xander said.
She opened the door warily, "Hello. We're closed," she said. "But please feel free to come back tomorrow and purchase many things."
"Good evening Miss, my name is Charlie," he answered, with a distinctly British accent. He was attractive, with bright blue eyes and dark hair. He was clean shaven and his nails were spotless and pink - possibly manicured. "I tried the Summers' house first, but when you weren't there, this was the next place on the list." He smiled. "I have something for Mr. Giles."
"Oh?" Anya asked, eyeing the envelope suspiciously. "Is it a gift?"
"Um, no. Not really," he answered with a small smile. "Is Mr. Giles here?"
"I thought I heard the bell," Giles said as he approached the front door. He eyed the open spell book as he passed Willow and shot her a scornful look. "Can I help you?" he asked the man in the doorway.
The man smiled kindly and replied, "I have a letter for you."
Continued in Part 13 - Family Business