Parking his rental car, Xander looked at the building in front of him. The Hukilau Cafe. The amulet Willow had given him to track down new Slayers indicated this was where he could find her though it had been it had been acting a bit funky lately, seeming to lose whatever signal it got from Slayers particularly at night. It was holding steady now so she should be here. He would've preferred to do this at her home or at least in private but finding her had been difficult enough that he'd take what he could get.
Checking he was presentable, he headed into the cafe. He stopped for a brief moment inside the door to scan the room. Xander spotted her almost immediately in a booth building a cabin out of her waffles. As he watched she tried to add a door but it kept falling out. Walking over, he spotted a cup of toothpicks in with the condiments. Plucking one out, he handed it to her.
"If you stick that through the top it'll hold it in place and act as a hinge so you can open and close it before, you know, eating it."
She blinked at him in surprise but took the toothpick doing as he suggested. Her smile was blinding when she saw it worked. "Thanks!” She beamed. "Are you an architect?"
"Nah. I worked construction though, once upon a time. Before this," he tapped his eye patch.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean..."
"It's okay. I've learned to deal with it," Xander waved off her apology. "I admit I did come over for a reason other than my construction experience. You're Lucy Whitmore, right?"
"Yes. Do... Do I know you?" She asked suddenly reserved.
"No, we've never met. I just wanted to talk to you for a minute if it's okay?"
"I-I don't know," she said starting to gather her things. Xander held up his hands.
"Hey, it's okay." Keeping his movements slow, he pulled a business card out of the breast pocket of his Hawaiian shirt and placed it on the table. "This is my card. I just wanted to talk. I can tell you about the weird dreams you've been having lately; about the sudden increase in strength you probably noticed about six months ago. When you're ready, call me." He left the cafe relieved to see her pick up and at least look at the card he'd left.
He'd just opened the door of his rental when she came hurrying out.
"Wait!" She called, coming to a sliding stop next to him. "Can you really tell me about the dream and why I'm suddenly so strong? How do you know?"
"I can answer all those questions, Lucy, but this really isn't the place for it. Do you live nearby? Your family should hear this too."
"O-okay. That sounds like a good idea. That's my car over there. You can follow me."
"Lead on, fair lady," he smiled. She smiled back before heading to her car, waving to the waitress standing on the cafe porch as she went. The native woman smiled back at Lucy. The stern look she turned on Xander let him know she was watching him. It was always good to see Slayers with strong support from friends and family.
Pulling up behind Lucy's bright yellow car at her house, Xander wasn't surprised to see an older man standing in the doorway; a rather grumpy look on his face.
"Hi, Daddy! Happy Birthday!" Lucy called out. Immediately the man's face creased with a broad grin. He clearly adored his daughter.
"Hi, baby," he said kissing her cheek when she was close enough. "Who's this?"
She handed over Xander's business card. "He says he knows about the nightmare and why I'm suddenly so strong all of a sudden."
"Does he now," her father said clearly suspicious.
"Xander Harris, sir," Xander held out his hand to shake. "I understand your suspicion but if I could just have a few minutes of yours and your daughter's time I can explain everything."
"How long have you been in Hawaii, Mr. Harris?"
A little surprised by the question Xander pulled the boarding pass for his flight from Africa and his passport out as proof. "I got here yesterday afternoon. Before that I spent the last six months in Africa finding other girls like your daughter; letting them know about their abilities."
"There are others?" The man asked sharply.
He stared intently at Xander before finally relenting. "Alright. Come on in and we'll at least listen to what you have to say."
"Thank you, sir."
"Marlin Whitmore," he introduced himself. "Coffee? Beer?"
"Coffee is fine, sir." Xander followed them into the kitchen.
Once they were all seated at the table Xander began the explanation. As expected there was disbelief and even outright denial but in the end acceptance. Leaning back in his chair, Xander watched the two Whitmores. Lucy was tightly, if carefully, clutching her coffee mug looking lost. Marlin was staring into his as if it held all the answers in the world. Eventually he heaved a sigh looking at his daughter.
"Doug is out on the dock, honey. Why don't you go get him, okay? He should know about this too."
As soon as the door closed behind her and they couldn't hear her footsteps, Marlin turned to Xander.
"How much danger is she in? How likely are these things to come after her just for being one of these Slayers?"
"If she never leaves Hawaii she should be relatively safe. The natives here have pretty powerful magic and set up protective wards around these islands centuries ago. The thing is I don't know if she'll be satisfied staying here being protected. Slayers are built to fight demons and they tend to get antsy doing nothing. I just understand you want to protect her..."
"No, you don't," Marlin hissed, leaning forward. He clamped his mouth shut clearly fighting with himself. Xander remained quiet letting him work through whatever it was.
"Wait here," Marlin said rising to his feet. Xander nodded and the older man left the room. He returned a couple minutes later with a thick brown file folder. He looked out the back door quickly then sat down.
"Lucy can't go to this school of yours. She can't be one of these Slayers."
"Mr. Whitmore, denying..."
"I'm not denying anything," Marlin snapped then took a deep breath. "Thirteen months ago my daughter and I were in a car accident. I got off lucky with some broken ribs. Lucy wasn't so lucky."
"I don't understand. She looks fine."
Marlin opened the file. First he pulled out the article about the wreck then he pulled out a photo of Lucy in her hospital bed. Xander took it staring at the bruised and battered girl in the photo, a section of her hair shaved to reveal an ugly wound on the side of her head.
"My daughter has no short-term memory retention, Mr. Harris. Every morning she wakes up believing it's my birthday, October 13th, 2002, the day of the accident. Until recently we let her believe that it actually was that date. Henry, a young man who fell in love with her despite her condition, came up with a way to gently explain to her each day what happened. I... I won't... I can't add this to that. I just won't burden her that way."
Xander exhaled loudly, scrubbing a hand over his face. This was definitely a new one for him. "She won't have any memory of today? At all? She remembers the dreams though."
"She remembers the dream she had last night. Tomorrow she'll tell me about a different one. Sometimes they repeat but she never remembers that she had it before. The only truly consistent thing she remembers is hearing a voice, a woman, asking if she's ready to be strong."
"Buffy's voice. And doctors say she won't ever regain her memory?"
"No. The doc said her scans have stabilized but there hasn't been any sign of improvement in months. This is as good as she's going to get."
"Right. I honestly don't know what to say. Slayer healing typically takes care of most injuries and illnesses unless they occurred before they became a Slayer like in Lucy's case. I can certainly see why you're concerned now." Xander frowned. "Not that I don't believe you but what about this Henry guy? How are they in a relationship if she forgets him every night?"
"Before he came up with the videotape idea he got her to fall in love with him again every day. They've been on a lot of first dates," Marlin chuckled sadly.
"It must be frustrating for him."
"It is but he's determined. He's convinced that one day she'll remember him without prompting."
Xander nodded, He couldn't imagine how hard it must be to have the person you love forget you every night when they went to bed. He wondered if this had anything to do with why Willow'd had such issues getting her exact location.
Willow. Maybe she'd be able to help. He knew there spells to forget. Maybe there were spells to remember.
"I'm not going to make any promises, Mr. Whitmore, but I might know someone who can help. I have to call her, see what she says and how soon she can get here."
"She some kind of specialist? The docs at the center are some of the best in the field."
"Something like that. Like I said I can't make any promises."
Marlin nodded. "When do you think you'll know?"
"By tomorrow depending on how long it takes to get a hold of her. She's in London right now so there's a bit of a time difference."
"Just a bit," Marlin agreed, rising to his feet. "Alright. Come back tomorrow. We'll see what you've found out and Henry will be around so you can meet him then."
"Of course. I'll see you tomorrow." Xander shook Marlin's hand then let himself be walked to the door. Getting into his car, Xander looked through the trees to where the small family was gathered on the dock. He couldn't imagine what it must be like waking up every morning thinking it's the same day with no memory of the day before. It couldn't be easy for Lucy or her family. Hopefully Willow would be able to help.
Back at the hotel he called and left a message with the girl on duty to have Willow call him when she got up; no matter the time. Unsurprisingly, he was asleep when she called back.
"Hi, Xander! How's your vacation going? Did you find Lucy Whitmore? Have you talked to her? How did she take it? What did you need to talk to me about?"
"Slow down, Wills. I found her and I've talked to her but there's a bit of an issue. According to her dad she's living a kind of permanent Groundhog Day. A car accident caused brain damage and now she wakes up every day believing it's the morning of October 13th, 2002, the day of the accident. I just was hoping you might be able to help her; some way of helping her retain her memories."
"I... Wow. I don't know. I'll see what I can find though. That poor girl. I can't even imagine."
"Yea, and get this. She's got a boyfriend she met *after* the accident. He convinces her to fall in love with him again every day. Her dad says they've been on a lot of first dates."
"Oh, how sad and romantic all at once," she sniffled. "I'll get back to you as soon as I can. I might need to consult with Althanea, the head of the Devon Coven."
"That's fine. I'm gonna go back to sleep now."
"Oops! I forgot completely about the time zone difference."
"It's okay, Willow. I told them to have you call me as soon as you could. I didn't want this to wait."
"Okay. Night, Xan."
"Night, Wills." Xander hung up and went back to sleep. He knew she'd find an answer.
Two days later he and Willow were sitting in the Whitmore living room. They'd just finished explaining everything to Lucy again. Now Willow was sitting facing Lucy, her fingertips lightly pressed to the blonde's temples as she magically examined her. Marlin and his son Doug were sitting on one couch while Henry leaned against the wall watching.
Eventually Willow pulled away, dropping her hands into her lap with a tired sigh.
"Well?" Marlin asked as Xander handed Willow a glass of juice.
"Dad," Lucy admonished. "Give her a minute."
"Sorry. I'm just worried about you, honey."
"It's okay, Mr. Whitmore," Willow assured him. "The good news is I can help her. I'll have to modify the spell slightly and it will require her having a small tattoo at the base of her skull but once I apply it she'll retain all of her memories from that day forward."
"The bad news?" Henry asked.
"It's not bad news per se. I have to tie the spell to the Slayer spirit in her. It's the only way to continually power it which means it won't work for anyone else and it means we couldn't bind her abilities. It will also drain the Slayer spirit to an extent but if you don't plan to leave Hawaii it's not an issue."
"What about sailing to Alaska?"
"Like on a sailboat? I don't really see that being an issue. I can give Lucy an amulet that will cloak her somewhat from the supernatural but avoiding major cities would probably be a good idea," Willow said.
"When can you do this spell?" Marlin asked, clasping one of Lucy's hands in his.
"Tonight. An hour before sunset is best," she said.
Looking from her Dad to Henry then back, Lucy bit her lip but nodded.
"Let's do this."
Lucy woke the next morning to the sun shining on her face as she lay in bed. She didn't remember going to bed though. The last thing she remembered was being on her stomach out on the dock and a sharp burning pain at the base of her skull as Willow chanted over her.
She bolted upright in bed. She remembered Willow. Henry! She remembered Henry. Scrambling out of bed, she thundered down the stairs. Henry rose from his seat on the couch a hopeful look on his face. Lucy smiled tremulously at him.
"I remember," she whispered. In the next instant they were in each other's arms hugging tightly, laughing with sheer joy. The noise brought the others from the kitchen. Marlin and Doug quickly joined the hug.
Xander and Willow remained in the kitchen doorway leaning against each other. Lucy may never be able to be an active Slayer but at least they'd been able to give her her life back. That was enough for them.