Author's Thanks: Joel and Jai for their incessant nagging. Rob, Amy, Lori, and Julie Geller for their patient reading and supportive feedback. Petronius for his great beta-reading and inscription ideas. John for his very timely formating suggestion. Windrider for his help with finding a job for Xander. And finally to CaBil for his help in pinpointing Buffy's date of birth.
Xander paced back and forth, rapidly growing tired of Giles' long winded explanation. Spell, more damn spells! He was so sick of hearing about spells.
"What does he need for this spell?" Xander asked, his voice laced with sarcasm.
Oblivious to the building tension in the room, Giles prattled on in that matter-of-fact manner that usually drove Xander crazy.
"The spell calls for the firstborn sons of all those who participated in the original casting. Unfortunatly, you all have sons. But as I said, part of the scroll contains a prophesy. It reads, literally, that 'the half-breed hunter shall act as the mother did, and the mother shall return, and the father shall return after his returning. And then they shall all act with the allies of the Slayer, and shall forbid the demon from her coming.' As I said, the meaning is very unclear since it's possible that the text has been corrupted. Also, the grammer is awful and whoever wrote this had no idea of how to properly conjugate verbs."
"The 'half-breed hunter' would refer to Hunter, I suppose." Xander said. "And we can all see that the father has returned. But Buffy can't return, so the prophesy can't be fulfilled." Pausing a moment, he thought over what Giles had said. He directed his next words to Angel, and his voice had a bitter, mocking tone.
"The part that says that he'll act as the mother is pretty clear, though. And even though I hate the idea of Hunter following in his mother's footsteps, I can't help but hope that one day he'll have a stake with your name all over it."
Angel looked at him in horror. "I'm his father for God's sake!"
"You may have that title, loosely I might add, because you did the deed with Buffy, but that doesn't make you any more of a father than any of those freaks on Jerry Springer." Xander's voice was filled with barely repressed anger, and Angel shot out his retort before he even thought about it.
"Are you ever going to forgive me?"
Those words snapped the last of Xander's self-control. His face darkened in rage, and he clenched his fists so tightly that his knuckles whitened from the strain. His words came out in a hissing growl.
"I can't believe that you have the nerve to ask that!"
Xander threw himself bodily at Angel, but was held back by Giles, as Angel stumbled back in amazement and shock. Xander continued his futile attempts to get at him, yelling the whole time in a voice torn with pain.
"You take the best thing that ever happened to me out of my life, and leave me soaked in her blood that YOU spilled, and you want to know when I'll forgive you!?! I'll tell you when, it'll be the day when Oz doesn't need a serious shave after a full moon and Giles becomes a swinging bar-hopper! Hey, I've got a no-brainer for you. The day I hold my wife in my arms again and hear her whisper 'I love you,' that'll be the day I forgive you! But until then, get the hell out of my house and stay the hell away from my son! We'll handle this like we've handled everything that's happened in the last seventeen years, without you!"
Angel turned and stumbled out of the house and into the darkness. His mind was numb, and he had only one thought, to get away from the hatred and accusation that he had seen in Xander's eyes.
Kari wondered why she was in a cemetery at almost midnight on a school night when she should've been at home working on her history term paper. She was cold. It was dark and everything, even the smell of the place was creepy. Of course, her reasons for being there were tramping along happily at her left. Her three best friends had been trying to get her out of her house to cheer her up, and since she hated going to the Bronze and the movie theater was closed for repairs, they had come up with the brilliant idea of having a seance. They had spent all of lunch and most of study hall pitching the idea to her, and it was only when Julia threatened to keep pestering her during English that Kari had relented. Now, she was starting to regret her decision. After all, she was doing fine in English, so what did it matter if her three nutso friends spent the entire period whispering to her, passing her notes, and making fools of themselves? Even if Tobin resorted to charades to get her point across, it wouldn't have been too bad.
Or so Kari told herself. The truth was, she would rather be walking along in the middle of the graveyard in the dead of night with three of the weirdest people in Sunnydale than embarrass herself in front of the hottest guy in school, who just happened to sit next to her in English. Mentally kicking herself for thinking of him again, she was so preoccupied with her own thoughts that she didn't notice when Mary started talking to her. She was successfully jarred out of her thoughts when all three stopped and yelled her name as loudly as they could.
After the last echoes of 'Kari Ambrose' had ceased, and her heartrate resumed its usual speed, she hissed at them, "What are you trying to do, scare me to death? You do not yell in a graveyard!"
"We wouldn't have to if you stayed in the same hemisphere as we did. What's up, Kari? You've been like this for weeks now! It isn't like you to just drift out of conversations." Tobin's dark eyes were filled with concern, and her usually sarcastic and cynical voice was soft.
Mary chimed in as she perched herself on a tombstone. "Yeah. Come on, you can tell us anything. We're your friends, buddies, amicas, whatever." As she spoke, Mary tugged at her long red braids, a sure sign that she was agitated.
"I bet I know what's wrong with her." Julia proclaimed, her blue eyes firm with resolve.
"Nothing is wrong with me, I've just been a bit busy, that's all." Kari defended herself as she nervously fiddled with her jacket. Glancing up, she saw three sets of disbelieving eyes.
"I bet it's a guy." Julia continued. Tobin and Mary whipped their heads around so quickly to look at her that it was almost comic, but Kari was too busy blushing and stuttering to deny it. She was then nearly blinded when three flashlights were directed at her face, and chaos basically ensued.
"Julia's actually right? Wow, first time for everything I guess. Quick, someone check to make certain Hell hasn't frozen over!"
"Shut up, Tobin."
"Cool, I was right! That was just a lucky guess."
"Come on, spill, who is it?"
"It can't be anyone we know, unless you suddenly have decided to mingle with the world's only living brain-donors."
"Shut up, Tobin."
"It is a guy, right?"
"Shut UP, Tobin."
"Because you can never be sure."
Julia managed to gag Tobin with her jacket, restoring some kind of order to the expedition. Kari found a tombstone to sit on, and everyone eventually settled down on either the grass or handy tombstones. Kari gave in and told them.
"Well, remember when Ms. Sousa died of anemia and they scattered us all into other classes? Well, the first day of the switch I dropped my books walking in and this really nice guy helped me pick them up. And that's about when I fell for him." Ignoring the 'awww's from her captive audience, Kari continued. "Well, I ended up sitting next to him and for the past three weeks - "
"Hold it a second, back up the caboose here while I get one little fact straight," Tobin cut in, "The guy who sits next to you in English? That's Hunter Summers-Harris!"
Mary and Julia's faces fell when they heard that. While Hunter didn't have a girlfriend right now, he had about ten likely candidates hoping to fill that position. Tobin continued her attempt to talk some sense into her friend.
"Kari, the guy is incredibly hot. He is the star of the track team. One of the most popular guys in school. Guys like him cna go out with any girl they want. And let us not forget the wonderful fact that he is friends with such wonderful people as Trevor Mannix. Even if he did like you, he wouldn't risk his social standing and his popular friends to go out with you."
Tobin wrinkled her freckled nose slightly in disgust when she mentioned Trevor. The two had hated each other since nursery school, and on the few occasions that they spoke to each other the hallway had become a verbal battleground. And on one memorable occasion in fourth grade, a physical one. Teachers had managed to seperate the two before any more damage was incurred beyond a bloody nose on Tobin's part and a black eye on Trevor's. If Hunter was one of the most popular guys in school, Trevor was THE most popular guy. Tobin was unpopular and proud of it, with the result being that the two were natural enemies, even without their mutual loathing.
Tobin went on to list the rest of the reasons why Kari should forget about Hunter, and they were all good reasons. Finally nodding her head, Kari resolved to avoid thinking or looking at him. Mary broke the awkward silence that followed by brightly suggesting that they go on with seance idea.
"Who do we want to talk to? Anybody know anyone dead?"
"Eeewww, creepy, Tobin!"
"I know!" Mary grinned and pointed her flashlight from stone to stone.
"Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Mo!
Catch a ghostie by the toe,
If it scares you, let it go,
Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Mo!"
Mary's flashlight fell on the stone that Julia was using as a seat. Gathering around it, they read the inscription out loud.
"And me without my camera."