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The Big Moments

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Fred has always known she was adopted. It doesn’t matter to her, the Burkles are the only family she’s ever known. She was only a baby when she was taken away from her birth parents, who couldn’t afford to raise her. From what her mom and dad have told her, she was originally the youngest of six siblings, two of whom died. She has no idea what happened to the other three. It never occurs to her to look for them. They are strangers. She has no memory of them at all. Yet somehow the name Lindsey rings a bell.

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He keeps expecting her to appear to him. He mentally prepares for it: what she’ll say, how he won’t be taken in. It distracts him, preparing for the inevitable. Everybody else is being visited by a twisted version of their loved ones, why wouldn’t he?

He can see her face so clearly. Like the time Drusilla put him in that trance. Only this time he won’t be fooled.

Finally he slams his fist against the wall of his hotel room in frustration, thinking Why won’t you show her to me?

And the First takes Drusilla’s form to laugh at him.

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He meets Cordelia Chase on the same day he meets his soon-to-be best friend, Willow. While Willow is crying over the broken yellow crayon, Cordelia rolls her eyes and says, “Get a grip,” sounding like an adult. She grabs the crayon and tapes it back together, thrusting it at Willow, who stops crying.

Xander thinks Cordelia is the prettiest girl he’s ever seen. He tries breaking a crayon in half himself, so Cordelia will help him, but she just looks at him like he’s a moron. “Are you like, challenged?”

He founds the We Hate Cordelia club later that day.

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Ms Calendar, the new computer science teacher, is so cool and pretty. Willow gets butterflies in her stomach watching her teach. It’s like the crush she used to have on Mr Giles, the new British librarian, before she got to know him and he became just, well, Giles.

It’s not a crush with Ms Calendar, of course. She just wants to be like her. All the boys in the class can’t take their eyes off her. She makes computers seem cool.

That’s what she tells herself, until the night Buffy gets the phone call from Giles that crushes Willow’s heart.

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Buffy should be home by now. Joyce frowns as she looks at her watch, then smiles as she looks at the flowers from last night again. So nice to finally meet a decent guy, who isn’t a robot or her ex-husband or her daughter’s Watcher.

The headache is back. She’s been having headaches for the last couple of days, but hasn’t mentioned it to Buffy or Dawn. She decides to make an appointment with the doctor tomorrow. No need to worry her girls unnecessarily.

She feels tired, as well. She’ll just lie down for five minutes before Buffy gets home.

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She gets lost easily, that first day on campus. It’s the first time she’s ever been away from her family. She turns a corner and collides with a guy carrying a guitar. “Sorry,” he apologises, helping her pick up her books.

”Th-thanks.” She wishes she could control her stutter. She’s not even interested in guys, so why can’t she act normally around them?

”No problem. I’m Oz, by the way.”

”N-nice to meet you.”

After he’s smiled and walked on, it occurs to her that she should have introduced herself, too. But she knows he’ll already have forgotten about her.

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On her 17th birthday, Faith buys a lot of cheap Christmas decorations to hang up in her motel room. The good thing about being born in December is that there are plenty of distractions.

Her mother had ignored her birthday most years. Faith thought that becoming a Slayer would change everything for her, but here she is, alone again. Buffy would probably come over and keep her company, but they haven’t spoken since Gwendolyn Post’s betrayal.

She lights a candle in the corner of the dingy room to acknowledge the occasion. She waits until midnight strikes before blowing it out.

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The Slayer’s question stumps him momentarily. What is his name? It’s been so long since he had to introduce himself to anyone.

He was born Liam Connor Flaherty, and would have died under that name if he hadn’t encountered Darla in that alley. She was the one who had named him Angelus, after his sister’s last words, sometimes calling him ‘Angel’ to taunt him. Drusilla, who could see into his memories, sometimes called him that too.

Even with his soul back, he’s not Liam anymore. He’s not Angelus either.

So he says the only name that makes sense to him.

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Buffy tries on the lipstick she intends to buy and then twirls in front of the mirror.

”You look amazing,” Kimberly gushes. “Tyler’s gonna lose it.”

”He’d better.” Buffy drops the lipstick into her purse. She thinks she catches sight of a man in the mirror, watching her, but when she turns around there’s no one there.

Outside the stall, she sees one of her classmates, whose name she can’t remember, struggling to fit into the same dress. “What a loser,” Kimberly mutters.

Buffy smiles uneasily. “Yeah.”

When she gets home she realises the lipstick is still in her purse.

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After getting his soul back, Spike is visited by his victims, one by one. He cowers in the corner while they parade around, taunting him.

He’d wanted to be a better man for Buffy, but he hadn’t thought how his conscience would affect him. He’s never stopped to think about all the people he’s killed. He had grown to care about Buffy and her damned little Scooby Gang, but he would still have happily chomped down on an innocent stranger if he could.

He understands now, how having a soul kills you from the inside.

From beneath you it devours.

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Drusilla has seen the world end many times. When she had her first vision. When her family was killed (Daddy insisted on keeping her human name, as a reminder). When he finally killed her, promising an end to her suffering, only for her eyes to open again.

So when Acathla wakes up she feels nothing but relief. It’s a moment of clarity, of sanity even. She’ll soon be free, or at least surrounded by creatures as damned as she is.

”Oh,” she breathes (although she has no breath, like Miss Edith). “Here it comes.”

Then Spike grabs her from behind.

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Wesley is under the stairs again. This is where he comes, to hide and to think. It’s the one place he can be free of his father’s influence.

His father never hits him, but sometimes Wesley wishes he would. It would be easier than the constant disapproval, the contempt, the sneering at even his best efforts. No matter how intelligent Wesley is, and his grades speak for themselves, he still turns into a bumbling idiot when around his father, stumbling over his words and dropping things.

He prays one day he’ll be a successful Watcher and prove his father wrong.

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“I know who you are.”

”Sorry?” Jenny turns, smiling, from where she’s putting the book back on the shelf.

”You’re one of them. The Kalderash clan.” Angel’s face is expressionless.

Jenny’s smile drops and she wonders if she should run. She could lie, but there isn't much point. “I’m just here to make sure the curse holds.”

He nods. “Any reason it shouldn’t?” She shakes her head.

”Are you going to tell the others?”

”No. But maybe you should.” Angel’s tone is conversational. “Giles, he likes you.”

She laughs. “Dating advice from a vampire. Thanks.”

He doesn’t say any more.

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It’s so peaceful where she and Xander are lying, not a vampire in sight.

”It’s nice out here,” she whispers.

”It is in this temperature,” he agrees. “Usually I sleep out here at Christmas to avoid the drunken family fights.” She can hear the bitterness under his light tone.

”Why don’t I come over this Christmas?” she suggests impulsively. “My parents will be vacationing, they won’t mind...”

“Assuming we’re still dating.” He’s clearly joking.

”And assuming we’re still alive,” she says, only half-joking herself.

They stare up at the stars and Cordy makes a mental note to remember this moment.

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He and Fred have nearly finished the inordinate amount of Chinese food. The boys are out working and Cordy is in bed following a particularly bad vision.

They’ve spent most of the evening talking about Fred’s relationship with Gunn. “How come you’re still single, Lorne?” she asks between mouthfuls.

He shrugs. “Not many guys in this dimension are interested in someone who looks like me. And I was rejected by my own kind.”

”I don’t know,” she says brightly, her Texan accent coming out strong. “I think a lot of people would choose to be green. Your shade.”

He smiles.

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She spends hours staring at her reflection. She knows what she looks like, of course, Angelus always used to draw her, but they didn’t have so many mirrors the first time she was human.

She looks fragile, vulnerable. What would her Master think of her now?

She can feel human guilt gnawing at her chest.

Finally she pummels the mirror in the bathroom with her weak human fists until it cracks. She does the same to all the other mirrors and then sinks to the floor, spent. She doesn’t notice she’s bleeding until she hears Lindsey speaking soothingly to her.

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“You trusting fool,” Anyanka hisses. “How do you know the other world is any better than this?”

”Because it has to be.”

With that Giles smashes her amulet. The brave new world they built collapses, splintering off into its own dimension. Anyanka can feel her changes unraveling. Cordelia is restored to life. The Slayer, her vampire and her friends are spared. Somewhere, a Jenny Calendar who never came to Sunnydale is condemned again.

Anya finds herself blinking in the sunlight, listening to Cordelia prattle on. She instantly feels different, weaker. Mortal.

She wishes she had never come to this town.

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“Why me?” Doyle asks.

”You’ve been chosen,” Whistler explains. “You get these visions...”

”Yeah, and what am I meant to do with them?”

”Help this guy.” Whistler taps the file. “His name is Angel.”


”He needs someone to keep him on our side. Help him fight the good fight.”

”The good fight,” Doyle scoffs. “Why can’t you help him?”

“I tried. It didn’t go so well,” Whistler replies cryptically. “Just talk to him. He’s Irish, too.”

That night Doyle reads Angel’s life story. Later he gets hit by another vision and reluctantly scrawls Tina on a scrap of paper.

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Lindsey watches his father place flowers at the graves of Lindsey’s siblings. Flu season is over, but too late for a third of them.

”You have to understand, Lindsey,” his father says. “The good Lord took your brother and sister because he needed them by his side.”

Lindsey doesn’t even want to believe in a God who could be that cruel, but he knows better than to say that. Instead he asks, “Will the good Lord take me too?”

His father’s eyes grow wet. “Not for a long time, son. Not until you’re an old man.”

Lindsey doesn’t believe him.

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Xander calls Oz shortly after Giles takes Willow back to England. Oz listens as Xander explains how Tara was killed, and Willow tried to destroy the world in her grief.

”Huh,” he says. “That’s understandable.” He considers going to see Willow, but he doesn’t think she’ll appreciate a visit from her old boyfriend so soon after losing her girlfriend. Instead he stays in touch with Xander, and later Giles.

After Sunnydale is destroyed he checks in with Giles, discovering that Willow survived. “Is she OK?” he asks.

”I think so,” says Giles, in his understated way.

He nods. It’s enough.

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He and Fred are alone in the restaurant. He’s just told her what happened to his sister.

”What about your parents?” she asks.

”They died. When we were kids.”

”I’m sorry.” She pauses. “Was it...?”

He shakes his head. “Natural causes.”

”Nature can be the worst.”

”That’s how we ended up on the streets. ‘Cuz I wasn’t gonna let ‘em separate us.” He remembers how Alonna looked at him when he drove a stake through her heart.

Next, Fred tells him about growing up in Texas with her parents. She finishes her salad and steals some of his French fries.

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”Who are you?”

There’s a guy Dawn has never seen before in her kitchen with her mother and sister. He has bleached blond hair and is wearing a leather jacket.

”Who’s the little bit?” he asks in an English accent.

”My sister Dawn,” says Buffy through gritted teeth. “Dawn, this is my... friend, Spike.”

”Cool,” she says. “I didn’t know Buffy had a new boyfriend.”

”He’s not my boyfriend!” Buffy snaps. “Just go.”

As Spike turns to leave, Buffy says, ”If Giles dies, Drusilla dies.”

Spike glares at her but nods, glances at Dawn and shuts the door behind him.

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Lilah’s mother is having a party. Apparently it’s essential to network if she wants to revive her modelling career. Lilah emerges from her bedroom and makes her way through the smoke-filled apartment.

“Come join the party,” a drunken guest slurs, grabbing Lilah’s waist. She gives him her mother’s death stare and pushes past.

She reaches the other bedroom and stops. Her mother is on the bed with a man Lilah recognises as her mother’s agent. Seeing her teenage daughter in the doorway, she gets up and approaches her.

“Find someone else to play with,” she hisses, and shuts the door.

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“Let me guess,” she says. “Wolfram and Hart.”

The suited man smiles at her across the desk.

”Time’s up,” he says pleasantly, his Southern drawl at odds with his wealthy appearance. “My client needs to be released or charged.”

”You know full well that if he’s released he’ll kill again.” There’s a flicker of something in the man’s eyes, but he says nothing. “How do you sleep at night?”

He shrugs. “I’m doing my job, same as you. The rest is none of my business.”

She looks at him in disgust and goes to get the keys to the cell.

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Harmony isn’t as dumb as she lets people believe. She’s always known the importance of making the right alliance. In high school, it was Cordelia, and when Cordy lost her status, Harmony was happy to usurp her. On becoming a vampire, she knew Spike would offer her protection.

Angel should have killed her for her betrayal, but all she had to do was bat her eyelashes and he let her go.

She thinks with satisfaction of her former allies. Cordelia dead, Fred dead and the rest facing certain death. Harmony is the last one standing.

So who’s the dumbass now?

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After sinking Angel to the bottom of the ocean, Connor is visited by his mother for the first time.

Why, Connor? asks Darla, dressed in white and looking like an angel.

He killed my father, he says, meaning Holtz.

Holtz killed himself, she corrects him.

Maybe, but Angel drove him to it.

We both did, says Darla. But we were soulless then.

He won’t be lectured by the ghost of a vampire, or an apparition.

You were the one good thing Angel and I ever did together, she tells him.

You're wrong, he tells her.

They never did anything good.

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After Sam leaves him, Riley finds himself regularly drinking in bars. He knows it’s not good for him, but he supposes it’s better than frequenting vampire brothels.

Even though he should be mourning the end of his marriage, it’s Buffy he keeps thinking of. He wonders how she is now.

There’s a blonde at the end of the bar, looking pensive and sad. She reminds him of Buffy and Sam.

”Can I buy you a drink?” he asks in his most charming cowboy accent.

She shrugs. “Sure.”

He smiles winningly. “I’m Riley.”

She nods. “Kate.”

”Pleasure to meet you, Kate.”

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Buffy's limbs are missing. She knows she's broken. She needs Willow to fix her.

There’s a girl leaning over her with long brown hair. Data flickers before Buffy's eyes: Dawn Summers, Sister/Key, born 1986/2000.

”Dawn,” Buffy says. “You’re my sister Dawn.”

Dawn smiles sadly.

”I was here.” Buffy looks around, remembering seeing herself. “But then I ran away.”

Dawn looks confused. "I don't..."

”Not me,” she clarifies. “Other Buffy.”

”Buffy?” Dawn’s eyes widen hopefully.

”I don’t know where she ran off to.” Suddenly it hits her; she knows exactly where the other Buffy would have gone. “Maybe—“

The power fails.

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He smiles as Buffy hands him the class protector award. The crowd erupts in applause as he beams around the crowded hall. The Slayer blushes slightly as their hands brush, but he pretends not to notice.

After everything he’s done, killing the Master, sending Angelus to hell to save the world, protecting his classmates from Andrew’s brother, this award finally makes him feel appreciated. Not that he does it all for acknowledgement. Looking at all the cheering faces, even the forthcoming battle with the Mayor doesn’t seem insurmountable.

”Thank you,” he says. This is the proudest moment of his life.

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She feels the rush of power before her Watcher comes to tell her the news. The Slayer is dead. Kendra, of all the potential Slayers in the world, has been chosen to replace her. This is everything she’s dreamed of, everything she’s trained for.

”’Ow did the other Slayer die?” she asks impassively. It will be useful to know, so she doesn’t make the same mistakes.

”It was prophesied,” is all her Watcher says. Kendra nods. She gets to work sharpening her favourite stake. She should really give it a name. She‘s ready for battle, the one and only Slayer.

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She runs her fingers over the name tag bearing Buffy’s middle name. “Hey, can I be Anne?”

Buffy smiles. “Of course. Will you be okay on your own?”

”I think so. I’m gonna volunteer at a shelter. I wanna help people, like you.”

”You don’t wanna be like me, trust me.” There’s a world of pain in Buffy’s eyes.

”You saved me from a hell dimension,” Lily - or Anne - points out. Buffy looks away.

Before she leaves Buffy writes her mother’s number on a pad from the diner. “Call me.”

Anne never does, but that’s beside the point.

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Holland can hear the caterers arriving. His wife is showing them down to the wine cellar. Tonight is a celebration. Darla’s re-siring is pushing Angel over the edge.

Holland is proud of his work. He’s proud of his protégés, Lilah and Lindsey, both hand-picked by Holland himself. Partly because they were vulnerable but also because he could see their potential.

Their firm helps to keep the forces of good and evil balanced, and Holland believes the world is better for it. A world full of do-gooders would be a world full of slaves.

Smiling, he heads down to the cellar.

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Andrew has always been good at lying. From “It wasn’t me, it was Tucker,” as a child, to lying to himself about how he killed Jonathan. Lately he’s been trying to tell the truth, even to himself, to be a better person.

But when Xander asks how Anya died, Andrew knows that Xander doesn’t want to hear the truth. He doesn’t want to know that Anya was sliced in half before the battle could really commence. He wants to hear that the woman he loved died a hero.

So Andrew does the right thing, the good thing, and he lies.

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Richard urgently answers his phone. It’s been an hour since he reported Faith missing. “Hello?”

”Mayor Wilkins?” says a hesitant female voice. “It’s the police. I’m calling from Sunnydale General.”

”Have you found her? Is it Faith?”

”A young woman has been brought in. She had no ID, but she matches the description of your... niece.”

”How is she?”

”You should probably come in, Mr Mayor.” The officer is clearly reluctant to divulge details over the phone. He can tell it’s serious, but won’t allow himself to worry. Slayers heal fast. And Faith is stronger than most.

She’ll be alright.

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The woman stares as he draws back his hood. She’s unshocked by his visage, although he ceased to look human centuries ago. As a human priest, he dedicated his life to battling the Old Ones; now he wishes to see them rule the earth again. He was glad to lose the last vestiges of humanity.

He sang to her last night. A whore dying of syphilis, killing her would be a mercy, but he has bigger plans for her.

”You’re death?” she asks.

”No. I’m your saviour.” He bends down to bite her, welcoming his dear one into the fold.

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What was your name before Adam? The Slayer asks in her dream.

She means the human part of him, of course, not the demon and electronic parts. He has no idea. The human whose face he partially wears is long gone, his spirit departed to another realm.

His mother created him to do her bidding, but giving him consciousness was a mistake. They say God made the same mistake, when he created the first man.

The Slayer looks at him with pity. He’s not evil. He’s the result of humans playing God.

Who was he before Adam?

He was nothing.

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“Can I buy you a drink, doll?”

Eve looks at the admittedly attractive guy smiling at her. “I’m working.”

“What time do you get off?” The innuendo is strong in his southern accent.

“I don’t, not with you,” she replies, turning away.

The man chuckles throatily. “Fair enough.” He picks up his guitar and steps up to the open mic.

Eve is mesmerised by his voice. He sings about the sky opening, fire raining down. He finishes to rapturous applause.

As he leaves, he brushes past her, whispering I know what you are.

She follows him out of the bar.

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The human is strange. Illyria watches him consume several bottles of whisky before he becomes abusive.

”Stop— looking like her,” he slurs. “You’re not her. You’re just a big — blue — smurf—“ He lays his head down and starts making noises with his nose.

In Illyria’s day, when the Old Ones ruled the earth, humans were considered mere animals. Even vampires were deemed lowly due to their human heritage. Yet Illyria feels some affection towards this strange man. It must be due to the memories of the body Illyria now inhabits.

He wakes up and immediately starts shouting again.

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When Giles puts his hand over his mouth, Ben only struggles momentarily before giving in. If he were braver he would have sacrificed himself sooner to stop Glory. Giles is making the decision for him.

He can hear Glory’s voice in his head, saying What are you doing? Fight back, you imbecile! He feels himself growing weaker as the god inside him tries to take over.

Why isn’t he fighting back? Is he really going to let this British guy kill us? You always were weak, Ben. You were never good enough to share a body with me.

Well, crap.

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On his first day of high school Warren gets beaten up by an older guy. The attack is unprovoked and leaves Warren with a bloody nose and a deep sense of shame as people gather around to watch.

A girl comes to his defence, grabbing his attacker’s arm. “Hey, leave him alone. He’s just a kid.” The guy laughs and leaves Warren on the floor. Warren’s humiliation only grows as word spreads around school that he needed a girl to protect him.

He eventually forgets the name of the guy who beat him up, but he never forgives the girl.

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Amy hears the front door close. Her mother walks in, wearing Amy’s body and a cheerleading outfit.

”Another productive day, I see,” her mother sneers.

”Did you get onto the team?” Amy asks. She hopes her mother might let her have her body back once she’s successfully relived her glory days.

”Not yet. This body is hopelessly out of shape. I may need a little help...”

Amy stays quiet. She’s been studying magic since the day she woke up looking like her mother. She’s determined to get her own body back somehow.

Once she does, she’ll never be helpless again.

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”Mommy, do you have to go out slaying tonight?” Robin watches as his mother pulls on her leather jacket.

She bends down to his eye level. “I have to, honey. This vampire, he’s real brutal.”

Robin likes that she is honest with him about the monsters she fights. When he’s older he’ll be able to fight alongside her.

His mother slicks on some dark red lipstick. “I don’t know why you bother with that,” her Watcher comments, in his stuffy British accent.

”Because if I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die pretty.” She kisses Robin before she leaves. “Be good, honey.”

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Jesse spots Cordelia on his first day at Sunnydale High. “Who’s she?” he asks Xander, who’s showing him around.

”Out of your league, my friend,” he says. “Oh, this is my best friend Willow.” The red-haired girl blushes as Xander introduces them.

“Willow’s really smart,” Xander explains. “If you need study help, she’s your girl.”

“Thanks, Xander.” Willow looks a little put out.

“Uh-huh,” says Jesse, his mind still on Cordelia.

“New loser for your posse, Xander?” Cordelia asks on seeing them. Her surrounding friends giggle.

“See? Not in the human league,” Xander tells Jesse.

He smiles. “Give it time.”

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She remembers the day she started to disappear. First it was her hand she couldn’t see, although she could still feel it. She hid her arm behind her back, afraid of being labelled a freak, but nobody even noticed.

Next it was her whole arm, then both arms, and finally her entire body.

She reappears just as slowly, bit by bit. Working for the Initiative, her efforts are appreciated. Her hand becomes visible, and there’s nowhere to hide it.

Now she looks into the mirror, her face pale with shock as her own reflection looks back at her.

Welcome back.

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“Dammit,” he mutters, seeing the cop car behind him. Third time this week. He pulls over and rolls the window down as the cop approaches.

”What’s the problem, officer?”

”Could you step out of the car, sir?”

He does. “Am I under arrest?”

”Actually, I’m not a cop.”

He freezes at these words and turns slowly, expecting to see a gun, but instead he sees a monster with fangs.

”What the—“

As the creature lunges at him, he catches sight of the real cop, dead in the passenger seat.

When he awakens later, his sire gives him a new name.

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The First first appears to him as a priest he once knew. “No!” cries Caleb. “You’re dead.” The First changes form to that of his mother, apologising for handing him over, explaining that she was only trying to save his immortal soul.

His soul is damned, he knows.

The First soothes him. She — he comes to think of it as She, despite Her many forms — tells him the legend of the Slayer. The Slayer must die, but first her potential replacements must be wiped out. He’s happy to oblige.

He knows this story will have a happy ending.

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Jasmine looks impassively down at Lilah’s body. She feels no guilt for killing this one. Lilah was a wicked woman, who devoted her life to serving the demons she called the Senior Partners. Her contract with them guarantees her an undead eternity anyway.

She’s been inhabiting Cordelia’s body for too long. It won’t be long until she can assume her real form. Cordelia’s death, like Lilah’s, is for the greater good. When the others see Lilah’s neck wound, they’ll assume it was Angelus who killed her and stake him before he can stop her achieving her ultimate goal.

World peace.

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“Pleased to meet you, Mr Mayor.”

”Call me Richard,” says the Mayor and Snyder beams. ”Now, as you know, Sunnydale High is a... special school.”

Snyder lowers his voice. “You mean it’s on a hellmouth?”

“Well, yes. The place is a hotbed of demonic activity. The last principal was... eaten by some of the students. Terribly untoward.”

”I have no intention of being eaten, sir,” says Snyder earnestly.

”Wonderful!” says the Mayor cheerfully. “I should just warn you about a particular student, Buffy Summers. Where there’s trouble she tends to be there...”

”I’ll keep a close eye on her, sir.”

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He finds Giles drinking alone in his flat. His friend looks terrible. It’s the first time they’ve seen each other since Giles dropped out of university.

”How’s it going, Ripper?” Ethan asks.

”Don’t call me that.”

”What would you prefer? Rupert? Mr Giles?”

”Our friend is dead, Ethan. Because of us. Doesn’t that affect you at all?”

”You can’t wallow forever, Rupert.”

”I know. I’ve made a decision. I’m going to work for the Watchers’ Council.”

“What? Researching demons, instead of summoning them? Look, you can pretend to be a prim and proper Watcher, like Daddy, but you’ll always be Ripper at heart.”

”Get out, before I prove you right.”

Ethan shrugs.

”Be seeing you.”

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He’s full of grief for his wife and son when he sees the marks in his daughter’s neck. Of course, it was foolish to think that Angelus and Darla would have left him something to live for. They simply wanted him to kill his child himself.

For a moment he almost considers not doing it, just letting his daughter live as a soulless demon.

He sings quietly to her, a lullaby, as he picks her up and carries her outside. She realises what he’s going to do and starts struggling. Ignoring her protests, he throws her out into the sunlight.

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Kennedy is preparing the scythe when the First walks in.

“Who are you?”

“You must know who I am.” The woman’s forehead creases. “Willow knows me.”

Kennedy stands up. “You’re her. Tara. Except you’re not her.”

“I have her memories. Her essence.” Tara tucks her hair behind her ear in a self-conscious gesture. “I can tell you about the time I sang to her—“

“You’re going to lose this battle.”

“Willow will never choose you, you know.”

“Get out!”

Willow enters and looks around but seemingly can’t see Tara. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” Kennedy forces a smile. “Let’s do the ritual.”

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Buffy Summers stares at him, lollipop still in hand. “Huh?”

He sighs. This girl really isn’t what he expected.

“My name is Merrick. I work for the Watchers’ Council of England.”

“You don’t sound English.” The girl is looking around for an escape.

“We have people all over the world, who find and train people like you.”

“Listen, Mister not-English, I think you’ve got the wrong person here.”

“No. You are the Slayer. You’ve been chosen.”

“I‘m choosing to go now.” She jumps up.

“What about your dreams?” he says and her eyes widen.

“How did you—“

“Come with me.”

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Willow wakes up slowly to find herself in a darkened underground chamber. The last thing she remembers is terror. Now she feels hunger, accompanied by a new sense of power.

“Welcome,” purrs Darla when she sees she’s awake. Jesse smiles at her, looking more confident than he ever did in life.

“Willow?” She turns to see Xander lying beside her and she can tell from the sound of his heartbeat that he’s still alive. “Will, I’m so sorry.” She feels strangely calm as he rambles on about how he tried to save her.

“Bored now,” she says, and bites him.

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William is so beautiful. She loves his cheekbones, his piercing blue eyes, the way he loves his mother. She even likes his poetry, which everybody else scorns him for. She knows he loves her too, the noble Englishwoman he thinks she is.

She cannot marry him, though. She has work to do. She can’t say that she’s actually a thousand-year-old demon here to wreak vengeance on the streets of London. So when he tells her how he feels, she blurts, “You’re beneath me,” and he is, he’s only human. Then she flees so she doesn’t have to see his face.