Life Is But A Dream
"Okay." Willow sighed as she escaped to the relative tranquility of the
kitchen. "If it gets any more tense in there, I think we're going to have
several new cases of spontaneous combustion to add to the logs."
"I realize that things are..... uncomfortable...." Giles took off his glasses
and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "But we're all adults....."
"Really? You might want to remind them of that fact." Willow smiled. "Of
course, that means you'd have to go back in there......"
"No, no." Giles said, hastily. "I need to stay here and..... and......" his
eyes landed on the two mugs sitting in the sink ".... prepare meals for Angel
"Coward." Willow giggled, then grabbed a soda out of the fridge. "Well, if
you're not going back, I guess it's up to me to keep the peace." Sighing
dramatically, she marched around the small island that separated the kitchen
from the main living area.
"God Speed." Giles saluted her with his drink. Willow stuck her tongue out at
him, then took her seat between Buffy and Spike. As Giles filled the mugs with
blood, he surveyed the little group and idly wondered how they had managed to
avoid total anarchy. Angel and Cordelia's appearance on his doorstep shortly
after sundown had been an unpleasant surprise in more ways than one. For
starters, they had revealed that Cordelia was now having visions and that one of
them had foretold the coming of a particularly nasty demon. Giles had then had
to explain why Spike was wandering around his apartment unchained and
unsupervised. A fight had nearly broken out in his living room, but total bedlam
had been averted when Willow placed herself between the combatants and
threatened both of them with unspecified punishments. The look on her face had
been enough to shame both men into a grudging truce, but they had been glaring
at each other all night.
Things had only gotten worse when Buffy, Xander, and Anya had arrived. Buffy
had been on a date with Riley Finn and had spent much of the evening dropping
not so subtle barbs about his superiority as a love interest. Cordelia,
meanwhile, had apparently decided to revive her relationship with Xander and she
wasn't about to let "some ex-demon tramp who obviously can't dress herself"
stand in her way. Anya, meanwhile, felt the need to protect Xander from that
"trashy, no-talent, ex-girlfriend of his." Willow and Giles had been caught in
the middle of all this mayhem and the result was that they were the only two
getting any real research done. Angel was staring at Spike so hard Giles
half-expected the younger vampire to turn into dust at any moment. Spike,
meanwhile, was doing his best to look like he was an accepted and beloved member
of the group, even going so far as to drape his arm around Willow's shoulders.
This had earned him a gentle elbow in the ribs and a stern "Behave yourself!"
from her. Buffy was pretending to read, but she kept sneaking glances at Angel
and Giles hadn't seen her turn a page in at least five minutes. Meanwhile,
Xander was shifting uncomfortably, as both Anya and Cordelia had their hands on
his knees and were working their way north. Everyone was startled when the
microwave bell rang and Willow yelped at the same time.
"I found it!" she crowed happily, then held the book up for all to see.
"Cybland..... he's a member of the Order of Revelation....."
"Oh no." Angel moaned softly.
"Order of Revelation?" Giles knit his brow in thought. "I don't believe I've
heard of them."
"I'm not surprised." Angel's voice was unusually grim..... even for him.
"They're highly secretive. Most demons aren't even aware of their....."
"Yeah, yeah." Spike drawled. "Can we skip to the good stuff, mate?"
"They're a cult dedicated to the total obliteration of the human race."
"Another one?" Cordelia looked incredulous. "God, are there any demons who
*don't* want to kill us all?"
"They don't just want to kill us." Angel interjected. "They want to
completely wipe mankind from Earth. They want to make it as if humankind had
"How?" Xander asked. "I mean, are they going to steal some nukes or
"Nuclear missiles won't be enough for them." Angel informed him. "There's
always the chance-however slight-that some people might survive a war. Besides,
everything that humans created would still exist.... all the inventions, the
monuments, the ideas......"
"They want to get rid of our ideas too?" Willow blanched. "But.... they'd
have to go back in time and kill off the first humans, wouldn't they?"
"Actually, they'll probably make the first non-demonic organism that
developed on this planet their target." Angel corrected her.
"Can they do that?" Giles looked aghast.
"It's very difficult, but it is theoretically possible." Angel sighed. "It's
one of those 'at a certain time of a certain day you must dance around, speak
the sacred words, and sacrifice several virgins' kind of things."
"Well then." Xander smiled gamely. "I guess we're all safe. I mean it's hard
enough to find a virgin nowadays, especially around here." There was a general
rolling of eyes at this.
"I don't think he meant that to be a literal description of the ceremony."
Willow patiently explained.
"Oh." Xander looked somewhat sheepish. "I knew that."
"The Order of Revelation." Anya chewed her lip thoughtfully. "Where have I
heard of that before?" Cordelia opened her mouth to make a witty retort, but
Willow interrupted her just in time.
"It says here that they will bring back the realm of Hell and that
Mephistophales will reign....." she skimmed quickly. "It goes on like that for a
while.... lots of fire and brimstone and victory dancing, that sort of
"What does a demon's victory dance look like?" Xander wondered out loud.
"Way to focus on the important stuff, Xand." Buffy grinned.. "Does it say
anything about when or where this party is gonna go down?"
"Well, the where is pretty obvious." Willow looked up, a grimace on her face.
"I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count."
"Could it be...... our very own piece of Heaven known as the Hellmouth?"
Buffy pretended to be excited.
"Give the lady a cigar." Xander applauded.
"Bingo!" Willow concurred. "As for when.... that's kind of unclear. There's a
lot in here about portents, signs, that sort of thing....."
"What kind of signs?" Buffy asked. "I'd like to have some warning, if it's at
"I can't really tell...." Willow handed the book to Giles. "What do you
"It *is* rather vague....." Giles read a bit, then spoke. "There's something
about the 'confusion of dreams' and the 'end of illusion.'"
"That's just great...." Buffy grumbled. "Just once, I wish these prophecies
would say 'Go to the corner of Main and Third. Stick a tire iron in the big
demon's stomach. Wait for death. When demon turns blue, apocalypse has been
"Uh..... well, no..... this isn't that..... er.... precise....." Giles
stammered, but then his eyebrows rose. "Hold on a minute..... here's something."
He trailed off as he continued to read.
"Well?" Spike impatiently drummed his fingers on the table. "Come on, then.
Don't leave us in suspense."
"Well, I can't say that this is much more helpful than anything else, but it
says that disaster can be avoided by 'the restoration of that which was
destroyed, the joining of heart and hand, and the healing of that which is
sick.' There's also mention of 'the Defenders.'"
"And once again we're completely clueless." Buffy muttered. "I just love
these old time writers of prophecy."
"Tachnir!" Anya suddenly yelled.
"Bless you." Xander said automatically.
"What?" Everyone else turned to stare at her.
"That's where I've heard of the Order of Revelation before." Anya explained.
"Tachnir is another vengeance demon. He's the patron of scorned men."
"Let's hear it for equal opportunity employment!" Spike grinned. Nobody paid
him the least bit of attention.
"He and I worked a couple of jobs together and we got to be kind of....
friendly." She blushed under Xander's horrified stare and Cordelia's
self-satisfied smirk. "He told me about the Order once when we were hanging
around waiting for the locusts to show up."
"What did he say?" Giles asked, only barely managing to speak over Xander's
panicked cry of "Locusts?"
"He said that in order to complete the ritual, they needed 'innocence,
experience, joy, and grief.'" Xander began to bang his head on the table. After
a moment, Buffy joined him.
"All right." Giles barked after this had gone on long enough. "We're not
going to get anything else accomplished tonight. I suggest we all get some
"What time is it?" Willow asked.
"Quarter to two..... oh crap!" Buffy muttered.
"What's wrong?" Giles asked.
"We can't get back into the dorms." Willow explained. "There have been a
bunch of burglaries lately, so they've instituted a curfew. If they catch anyone
wandering around campus after 1 am on week-nights, they'll be arrested."
"Wonderful." Giles sighed. "I don't suppose you two have made arrangements?"
he looked hopefully at Angel and Cordelia.
"Sorry." Cordelia smiled apologetically. "We were planning on crashing here."
"Gee, so glad I'm not you guys." Xander chortled. "My parents' basement is
looking pretty nice right now. You coming?" he asked Anya, who beamed. The two
grabbed their coats and quickly left. Giles was about to assign sleeping
quarters when they came back in.
"Uh.... Giles? Got room for two more?" Xander looked sheepish, while Anya
looked thoroughly annoyed.
"I don't understand this." she muttered. "The car was working fine on the way
"All right." Giles groaned mentally as he quickly reviewed his accommodation.
"We've got eight people and two beds."
"I'm not giving up mine." Spike declared.
"Nor am I." Giles assured him. "The girls will sleep in here tonight. Xander
and Angel will sleep in Spike's room." Before anyone could argue, he turned to
Willow. "Would you mind collecting blankets and such?"
An hour later, they had all gotten more or less settled and as the clock
struck three, all began to drift off to sleep.
Angel knew something was wrong. He was in a cemetery at night with a stranger
and he was wearing a dress. He tried to stop to take stock of his surroundings,
but he soon realized that he had no control over the body he was inhabiting. He
suddenly stumbled slightly and, in the process, got a good look at himself. He
was, indeed, wearing a dress, but since he appeared to be female, this wasn't
particularly disturbing. As far as Angel could tell, he was a fairly young woman
with long, dark hair of indeterminate color. The girl's heart was beating
quickly and her palms were slightly sweaty. She wiped them on her dress and the
stranger turned and gave her a reassuring smile. Reaching out, he grabbed one of
the girl's hands and tugged her further into the cemetery. At his first touch,
Angel knew he was a vampire and began to panic. Try as he might, he could do
nothing to avert the girl's course, although from what she was saying, it
sounded like she was trying to do that herself. As Angel listened to her prattle
on about the ice cream shop, he noted that her voice sounded familiar, but he
was too worried about the vampire to spend too much time thinking about it.
The pair approached a large mausoleum and the stranger asked the girl if
she'd ever been in one before. Angel could sense the girl's combined fear and
excitement as the boy stepped behind her and moved her hair away from her neck
and he cringed knowing what was about to happen. To both his surprise and that
of the girl, the boy pushed her from behind into the dark, stone building. As
the girl scolded the youth for his behavior, Angel attempted to assess his
surroundings. Like the girl, the mausoleum gave him a nagging sense of
familiarity. He was so busy trying to figure out how to get the girl out of this
dire predicament that he didn't pay attention when they were joined by someone
"Is that all you brought?" Angel's blood ran cold at the sound of the
newcomer's spoke. She giggled then and he realized that he wasn't looking at an
illusion or a figment of his worst nightmare. Darla was there and she certainly
didn't look like a pile of ash, the way she had the last time he'd seen her.
"Hardly enough to share." She smirked and Angel realized that his sire was
completely unaware of his presence. The next thing either he or the girl knew, a
second boy was falling towards them. He was pale and was holding his hand to a
pair of puncture wounds on his neck.
"Jesse!" the girl squealed. "We're leaving!" she declared.
"Oh you're not going anywhere." Darla smiled sweetly. "Not until we've fed!"
The vampire's human mask dropped, revealing her true demon visage. The girl
screamed, then suddenly everything went black. Angel struggled to gain control
of the situation, but he only succeeded in giving himself a headache. A few
seconds later he found himself standing amidst a pile of books that had just
been set on fire. A quick inventory revealed that he was still in the girl's
body and that she was still alive, though not for long, if the flames were any
"Buffy, I can't take it! It's too hot!" Angel's shock was overwhelming as he
caught sight of the Slayer tied to a stake next to his host.
"I'm sorry, Will. If it wasn't for me....." Angel just had time to realize
that Buffy must have been referring to his host when things went black again and
he had the strangest feeling of sinking. With a start he realized that he, or
rather his host, was really sinking into what appeared to be a linoleum floor.
"Giles!" she was shrieking as she attempted to grab the metal banister of a
nearby staircase. "Help me!"
"Willow!" Things began to come together for Angel as he saw the librarian
come tearing around the corner. He was inside Willow's body and, from what he
could tell, he was witnessing scenes from her past. This was confirmed when the
world went black and he found himself facing Gwendolyn Post, the evil Watcher
and a big ball of flame coming straight towards him. The world went black and
he/she was facing some sort of metal creature that had red glowing eyes and an
apparent need to be loved. As scene after scene flashed through Angel's mind, he
wondered why all of them involved situations where death seemed imminent, but
then they all cut off at the crucial moment. As Angel watched Faith threaten
Willow with a knife, his admiration for his friend rose. It amazed him that she
could have survived all the horrors the Hellmouth could throw at her, yet still
remain positive and upbeat. His heart broke for her as he watched the final
fight between were-Oz and another werewolf who he presumed was Veruca. When the
she-wolf was dead, were-Oz lunged for Willow and things went black again.
Angel's heart stopped (figuratively, of course) when he realized what was
happening next. Willow was standing in the hall of Sunnydale High, the lights
were off, and two hands were wrapped securely around her throat. Buffy was
standing at the other end of the hall and Angel knew that Xander and Jenny were
standing behind him. He also knew what was going to happen next. He felt
Willow's fear as he pinched her cheek and called her "cute and helpless". He
tried to blank out the words and screamed and screamed until he finally could
hear nothing but the sound of his cries.
"Angel, shut up!" It took Angel a moment to realize that he was awake. He
drew in a big breath to calm himself and opened his eyes. He found himself
looking at the ceiling of Giles' basement. He propped himself up on his elbow
and found himself face-to-face with a very unhappy Xander.
"Yeah, mate." Spike growled from the bed on the other side of the room. "Some
of us are trying to sleep here."
"Sorry." Angel murmured as he lay back down. He continued to study the
ceiling as he contemplated what had just happened. He knew that he hadn't been
around for some of the scenes he'd seen in his dream-he hadn't even *known*
Willow when some of those scenes had taken place. He made a mental note to talk
to Giles about it in the morning, then slowly drifted off into a deep, dreamless
Giles grumbled as he tossed for the umpteenth time. He had just drifted into
a light sleep when he'd been awakened by Angel's screams. It had never occurred
to him that sound could travel through the heating vents that connected his room
to the basement, which Spike had turned into his home. He had finally begun to
relax again when one of the girls had used the bathroom. The sound of the toilet
flushing had permeated his consciousness, waking him fully again. Since then,
he'd been trying to go back to sleep without any success. He had even resorted
to reading old Watcher Diaries, which usually had a tranquilizing effect on him.
That hadn't worked, so he as now reduced to tossing and turning in an effort to
find a position that would induce slumber.
Anya was used to being in other people's dreams. She'd done it several times
in her capacity as a vengeance demon-some women liked their men to know why they
were suffering such torments and the only way Anya was permitted to do this was
to appear to the man in his dream as the woman he'd scorned. However, the minute
she opened her eyes, she realized that this was definitely not one of those
situations. For one thing, she was very definitely male. Whoever she was, she
wasn't happy. With a start, Anya realized she was standing in Giles' living room
and she was looking at herself and Xander. They were sitting on a couch and
Buffy was stretched out on the floor in front of them. The conversation revolved
around some concert that everyone was planning to go to, but Anya didn't pay
attention as she attempted to figure out whose body she was in and why.
"Where is Willow?" Giles asked, coming around from behind Anya.
"She wasn't feeling too well." Buffy said. "I forgot to tell you." The Slayer
"Is she all right?" Anya heard herself ask. With a shock, she realized that
she had a distinct British accent and that she sounded genuinely concerned. A
quick look at her hand confirmed that she had somehow landed in Spike's dream.
Who else had such pale skin? As the conversation continued, Anya attempted to
make Spike's body bend to her will, but she was powerless. Anya's frustration
gave way to curiosity when she saw that Buffy and Xander were leaving and taking
her body with them. Giles was making some comments about patience being a
virtue, but Anya didn't pay much attention to Spike's response. She was, in
fact, fascinated by the fact that there was no reflection appearing in the
mirror that was hung only three feet away.
After Giles retired, Spike sat in the darkened living room and contemplated
the shambles his life had become. Anya waited impatiently for something
interesting to happen, but the only unusual thoughts Spike had were about
Willow. Anya raised a figurative eyebrow when she realized that the vampire had
what Buffy called "naughty feelings" about the red-head. She was surprised that
she hadn't noticed it before, but she had to admit that whenever Xander was in
the room, she had a tendency to forget about everyone and everything else.
Finally, Spike stood and walked towards the stairs that led down to the
basement. Anya mentally grumbled to herself about how boring his dreams were,
when both he and she were startled by a voice floating up from the room below.
"Well, it's about time." Spike reached for the light switch, but the owner of
the voice apparently saw him because she said "Don't. You'll spoil the
"Willow?" Spike's brow knit in confusion as he slowly descended the stairs.
When he reached the bottom he gaped at the transformation his bedroom had
undergone. There were candles everywhere and the furniture had been pushed back
into the shadows..... all except the bed, which had been moved into the center
of the room. The simple white, cotton sheets had been replaced by black silk and
Willow was sitting on them with her back propped up against the headboard and
the top sheet artfully draped to cover her naked body. Spike's eyes bulged and
he froze. Anya clinically noted both his physical and emotional reaction to the
girl in the bed.
After a minute of simply staring, Spike slowly made his way to the side of
the bed. Willow turned her head to look for him, but otherwise she remained
still. She had a small smile on her lips, but Anya could see the trepidation in
her eyes. As Spike continued to stare at her, she bit her lip and lowered her
eyes. "I.... Oh God..... I'm sorry....." Both Willow and Anya were startled when
Spike suddenly bent down, slipped his arm around Willow's shoulders and pulled
her into a deep, soul-searing kiss.
When he finally released her, Willow was breathless and flushed. "Wow!" she
breathed. Spike kept his arm around her as he sat down, kicked off his shoes,
then curled up next to her.
"Are you sure about this, pet?" he asked quietly. "Don't get me wrong.... I
want to..... but I don't want to cause trouble for you....." Willow put her
finger on his lips, then leaned in for another kiss. This one wasn't quite as
intense, but what it lacked in strength it made up in tenderness. Spike pulled
her closer and began to tug on the sheet. Fortunately, Anya felt herself begin
to feel a strange floating sensation, a sure sign that she was about to wake up.
Before she totally regained consciousness though, she heard the dream lovers
whisper tender words of affection to each other. Somehow, this gave her an odd
feeling of comfort, but made her incredibly sad at the same time.
Xander snored lightly, which bothered his roommates, both of whom had
sensitive hearing, but his sleep was untroubled with dreams that night.
Cordelia Chase was not happy. She was having a dream about being Buffy-which
meant that she was wearing clothes that were definitely *not* purchased at the
finest stores-and she was being subjected to scenario after scenario where Buffy
and Angel reconciled. Each romantic declaration of eternal love and fidelity was
more tear-filled and (in Cordelia's opinion) vomit-inducing than the last.
Spike was also starting to feel like he was going to lose his lunch. He was
having the same dream over and over and over again-he would find himself in
Angel's L. A. office facing the Slayer and engaging in an incredibly ridiculous
conversation. The minute he heard the voice coming out of his mouth, Spike
realized with horror that he was somehow inhabiting the body of his sire. Then
some demon would come crashing through the window and just as Spike was getting
interested in the fight, someone would push the cosmic fast-forward button.
Strange, incomprehensible images would stream past, but things would slow down
just in time for Spike to cringe his way through yet another tension filled
conversation between his sire and Buffy.
Things would only get worse when the Slayer jumped into Angel's arms and the
two began making it like they were the last two people on Earth and they were
responsible for re-populating the entire planet within two weeks. Spike tried to
shut out the disgusting images and sounds as best as he could, but he was still
left with a bile taste in his mouth and a churning gut. His interest was piqued
again towards the end of the dream when Angel told Buffy that she'd forget
everything that had happened. Finally, there would be a repeat of the first
scene, only this time Angel would kill the demon and Buffy would leave. Then the
dream would start over from the beginning. On the third or fourth go-round,
Spike realized that this was more than just some demented figment of Angel's
imagination. He recalled that Buffy had driven to L. A. the day after
Thanksgiving to confront Angel about his secret visit to Sunnydale. However, she
had come back that evening and said she'd only spoken to Angel for a few
minutes. However, the dream seemed to take place over a day and night. Spike
resolved to grill his sire about this in the morning, then resigned himself to
another re-play of the undead "Love Story".
Buffy knew when her dreams were something out of the ordinary. After all,
she'd been having those nasty prophecy dreams since she was 15. However, she'd
never had a dream like this before. For starters, she wasn't herself. She wasn't
quite sure who she was, but she suspected that she was Martha Stewart's love
child or a distant cousin at the very least. She was wearing an oversized
sweater with snowflakes all over it and she was sitting in front of a roaring
fire. The house-rather, the cabin-in which she was sitting looked like one of
those places that were pictured in magazines. There was artfully arranged
greenery everywhere and candles that Buffy just *knew* were hand-dipped on
almost every available surface. The place was ridiculously tidy and Buffy had
the irrational thought that if she moved, the entire building would just
collapse around her. That fear was soon dispelled, however, when she realized
that she couldn't move, or rather, that she had absolutely no control over her
"Honey, I'm home!" Xander burst through the door, only it wasn't quite
Xander. He looked somewhat older and he'd sprouted some serious muscles
somewhere. He was wearing a suit, jacket, and hat straight out of a '50s sitcom,
but he still had his trademark smirk.
"Xander!" Buffy squealed in what sounded suspiciously like Anya's voice. "I
missed you so much!" She jumped up and threw herself into his arms. Things went
kind of fuzzy then and Buffy got the impression that time was passing. When she
could see again, she and Xander were curled up in front of the fire.
"Honey?" Xander said, after a few minutes of companionable silence. "I have a
surprise for you." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small jewelry
"What is it?" The more she listened, the more Buffy suspected that she was
somehow in Anya's dream.
"Open it!" Xander pressed the box into her hand. She slowly pried the lip
open and gasped. Nestled in the velvet lining, was a small heart-shaped pendant
made of diamond.
"It's beautiful!" Anya breathed.
"Not as beautiful as you." Xander murmured. "Happy Anniversary, Anya."
"Oh, Xander!" Anya flung her arms around Xander's neck, giving Buffy a chance
to get a good look at the wedding band encircling her left ring-finger.
"So." Xander grinned, after Anya finally, reluctantly, broke the embrace.
"What'd you get me?" Buffy was surprised to note that Anya suddenly grew
"Well.... uh..... actually, your present isn't going to be here for a while,
"Oh." Xander's face fell. "I understand."
"No, really." He attempted to smile. "I'm sure it will be wonderful."
"Well, what if I just told you what it is now?" Anya suggested.
"But that will totally ruin the surprise." Xander protested. "It will be here
in a couple of days, right?"
"Uh.... Actually, it won't be here for about another eight months."
"Eight months?" Xander looked at her incredulously. "Who are you using to
ship this thing? Mutant snails?"
"Not quite." Anya giggled nervously. "It's not being delivered..... oh, wait!
I guess it is, but I'll be doing the delivery."
"Anya, what are you talking about?" Xander looked thoroughly confused.
"You're not usually this.... cryptic."
"And there's a reason for that." Anya shot back. "Put it together, Xander.
It's coming in about eight months and I'll be doing the delivery." She watched
for a reaction from him, but he merely stared at her blankly. "For crying out
loud, I'm pregnant, you idiot!" Buffy stifled a mental giggle as she watched the
play of emotions across Xander's face.
"Pregnant?" he finally managed to splutter. "As in with child? Bun in the
oven? Having my baby?"
"Yes. All of the above." Anya's irritation with Xander vanished as he
suddenly whooped for joy. He jumped up and grabbed her in a great bear hug.
Buffy began to feel somewhat strange and the scene around her began to cloud,
but before she totally lost contact with them, she wished the dream couple all
the luck in the world.
Willow was in a mall. This was unusual, in and of itself, but she was also
wearing high heels and walking comfortably, something which she had never quite
gotten the hang of. She had a shopping bag slung around one wrist and a purse
hanging off the other shoulder. She purposefully strode towards a trendy
clothing store, wasting no time to look at the people and shops surrounding her.
Once inside the store, she headed for the most expensive items and began
critically inspecting the items on the rack. Willow caught a glimpse of her
reflection in a mirror that had been placed near a hat-stand and realized with a
shock that she was Cordelia. She attempted to move her arms and legs, but
realized that she had no power over the body she currently inhabited.
Cordelia picked out several articles of clothing and marched up to the sales
desk. There was no line and the clerk was unusually pleasant. Cordy reached into
her purse and pulled out a small wallet. She withdrew all the cash, which was,
coincidentally, the exact amount needed to pay for her purchases, then exited
the shop with her bag. Somehow, the first bag had disappeared. After only a few
minutes, they came across another store and repeated the process. Once again,
there was just enough cash in the wallet to pay for the clothing. Once again,
the previous purchases had disappeared by the time the clerk was done ringing up
the new items.
The routine remained the same three more times, but on the fourth, instead of
heading for the sales desk, Cordelia went back into the changing rooms. She hung
up her purchases, pulled the curtain closed, then turned to face herself in the
full-length mirror. Both Willow and Cordelia let out a small shriek when the
reflection showed not one, but two bodies. The second belonged to a short man
with dark hair, kind eyes, and a loud print shirt.
"Hello, princess." he said, softly.
"Who are you?" Willow asked. It was a moment before she realized that she was
speaking with her own voice and not Cordelia's.
"What do you mean.... Jeez!" The strange man jumped back as if shocked by
electricity. Willow turned to see what was wrong and gasped. Cordelia's
reflection in the mirror was changing.... in a minute, Willow saw herself as she
had been earlier this evening-dressed in a pair of jeans and a black sweater.
"Who are you?" the man asked.
"I.... I'm Willow." Willow gingerly touched her face, but nothing happened.
"Who are you?"
"I'm Doyle." Suddenly, the dressing room vanished and the two found
themselves standing in the middle of a large, empty field. "There, that's
better. I never did like malls."
"Doyle?" Willow searched her mind for a connection. "Wait, aren't you Angel's
"Yeah.... and Cordy's." Doyle looked sheepish. "Although I don't guess she's
too happy with me right about now." Willow noticed that he had a pleasant Irish
"Oh!" She smacked her forehead. "You're the one who used to have the visions,
right? But you gave them to Cordelia."
"Ho! Wait just a minute, there." Doyle held up his hands. "I had nothing to
do with that. You be sure to tell her that for me, okay?"
"Okay." Willow looked around. "What are we doing here?"
"Well, I came to give some messages to Angel and Cordelia." Doyle bit his lip
thoughtfully. "I've got some information that might be useful."
"About the Order of Revelation?" Willow asked, getting excited.
"Yeah." He blew air through his cheeks, then seemed to come to a decision.
"Look, here's the thing. It took a lot for me to do this and I don't think I can
do it again anytime soon. I'm gonna need you to pass on my words of wisdom,
"Of course." Willow nodded vigorously.
"Okay - this first message is for Angel. You can tell him that he doesn't
have to be 'Mr. Martyr' anymore."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, it's over. The Powers that Be are lifting his punishment.... or part
of it, anyway."
"They are?" Willow had read something about the Powers that Be and had heard
more about them from Angel and Cordelia. "How?"
"His soul, ducks." Doyle smiled gently. "When you cast the restoration spell,
you acted as a vessel for Them."
"I did?" Willow vaguely recalled the feeling that something was moving
through her body. "But what does that have to do with....."
"Using your body and magic, the Powers restored Angel's soul.....
permanently." It took a moment for this fact to permeate Willow's consciousness.
She stared at Doyle for a moment, completely speechless, then suddenly she
squealed for joy and grabbed him in a hug.
"This is great!" she babbled. "Angel and Buffy can be together and they can
be happy. He won't ever have to worry about becoming Angelus again and he might
even get a sense of humor...."
"Hold it!" Doyle held up his hand. "I don't have much time and there's still
some more stuff we have to cover."
"Sorry." Willow calmed down, slightly. "What else do you want me to tell
"He's suffered enough. For some reason, he doesn't count the time he spent in
Hell, but that went a long way towards winning him redemption. Tell him this for
me. If, after finding out about this soul thing, he chooses to leave out of some
misguided feeling that he hasn't been tortured enough, I will personally haunt
him every day and night for the rest of his days." Doyle grinned. "And I'll
bring my bongo drums."
"Ouch!" Willow giggled. "I'll be sure to pass that on. Anything else?'
"Yeah - about these Revelation blokes - you and your crew are on the right
track. You don't have much time, though. You've got the tools now to restore
that which was destroyed and I'm going to tell you how to heal that which was
sick in a minute."
"What about the joining of heart and hand?" Willow asked.
"Well, I can't really say much about that." Doyle grimaced. "Stupid rules.
Just remember this, kiddo, love is a force that is powerful enough to overcome
any obstacle. It transforms, clarifies, and enlightens. Everyone needs to
remember that. Especially you."
"Me?" Willow grew confused. "What are you talking about?" When Doyle didn't
answer, she sighed. "I guess this is something you can't tell me, huh?"
"Exactly." Doyle grinned. "Now, I have a message for Cordelia. Tell her that
I'm so sorry I had to go and that I finally understand."
"Don't worry. She'll get it.... eventually." Doyle looked at Willow,
thoughtfully. "Although, she may need you to help her see."
"Okay...." Willow looked at him askance. "Like she's really going to believe
me..... Hey!" She suddenly had a thought. "How am I going to convince them that
I really talked to you? I mean, Angel's not going to believe that his soul is
permanent based on just my word."
"Good point." Doyle unclasped an ID bracelet from his wrist. "Show them
this." He handed the bracelet to Willow, then slowly began to fade.
"Wait!" Willow cried. "You didn't tell me how we can heal that which is
"Yes I did." With that, Doyle vanished and Willow found herself back in the
dressing room looking at Cordelia's reflection.