This Time Around
Chapter Twelve - Mirror, Mirror
written by Rainne
"Why is it so dark?" a young boy's voice asked.
"In the beginning," replied a young girl, "it is always dark."
There was silence for a moment, and then there was a sudden, soft glow. It grew
brighter and brighter, illuminating a space of complete nothingness inhabited by
two small figures. They looked at one another across the glow, which the girl
held in her hand. The boy spoke. "What's that?" he asked.
"One grain of sand," the girl answered. "It is all that remains of my vast
"Oh, cut the crap." A voice cut across the serene little vista and the two
children disappeared, leaving only the light. Buffy Summers, aged twenty-seven,
strode forward into the glow. "If I wanted to watch The Neverending Story, I'd
rent the DVD. Get out here. I haven't got all day, you know."
Buffy Summers, aged eighteen, stepped tentatively into the very edge of the
circle of light. "What the heck is going on?"
"I got played, that's what's going on," the older Buffy snapped. "I never said
'I wish', and Anya said you had to. It was a rule. I got played and you got
dragged into it."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about that guy in Giovanni's making like a vengeance demon. Two
weeks I've been thinking I made a wish; well, I didn't!" The older Buffy, still
dressed in her date outfit, began to pace.
The younger Buffy raised an eyebrow. "Why are you dressed like you're going out
on a date?"
"I just came back," the elder replied. "Giles took me out for Italian and then
kissed me on the bench." She paused in her pacing, a giddy expression crossing
her face. "That was. wow."
The younger Buffy gaped at the older. "You kissed Giles?"
"Uh-huh." The older one nodded. "And don't try to even pretend you don't want
to. I'm you, remember?"
The younger girl sighed. "I want to. He doesn't want me."
"Hello!" The older version snapped her fingers under the younger one's nose.
"You - me - same person!"
"Yeah, but you're all. older. He thinks I'm just a kid."
"Maybe 'cause you've been acting like one. Ever think of that? Pitching a fit
and calling him old just because he got a girlfriend?"
"He said -" the younger one began, but the older one cut her off.
"I know what he said! I was there! Did it ever occur to you that maybe he was
trying to get you to look at him differently?"
The younger girl was silent for a long time. Then, finally, she spoke. "You
really think so?" she asked tentatively.
"I know so," the woman replied. "All he wants is for you to see him as he
"But I do see him!" the girl responded, anguish in her voice. "You know I do!"
"I know," the woman replied. "But don't you think maybe he should, too?"
The girl bowed her head. The woman walked over to her, placing a gentle hand on
her shoulder. "He needs to know," she said softly to her younger self. "You
need to tell him."
"He doesn't want me," the girl whispered.
"You don't think so?" The woman put her hand on the girl's temple. She focused
on the memory of that searing front-porch kiss and pushed with her mind, forcing
the memory into the girl.
The girl looked up, then gasped in shock as the memory invaded her mind. From
her older counterpart's point of view, she relived the kiss that Giles had given
her - them? - from the moment she'd asked him to kiss her until her ragged
intake of breath when it was finally, agonizingly over. She looked up into his
eyes, which shone with love for her, and gasped, realizing the truth of the
words she'd heard. He really did love and want her. As she came to this
realization, though, she was roughly slammed back into unreality and her own
body. She reeled, clutching at her older self for support.
"Now," said the older, "tell me again that he doesn't want you. Only, make me
believe it, okay?"
The younger swallowed hard and nodded. "I'll tell him," she said softly. "I
swear I will."
"You'd better," the older replied laconically. "You're the only one who can fix
this, you know."
"Me?" the younger whined. "Why me?"
The older sighed. "Because you are the one who's in a position to change
everything. For me, everything's already happened. I can't change anything.
You've got your whole future ahead of you. You can make it different. You can
make it so much better."
The girl bit her lip. "You promise?"
The woman took the girl's chin and raised it, making their eyes meet. "It has
to," she said softly.
The younger Buffy nodded. "I will," she promised. "I swear."
There was a sudden, violent gust of wind. The older Buffy was alone in the
nothingness. Dramatic music swelled, thunder crashed, and the light suddenly
went out. There was total silence. Buffy rolled her eyes, then sighed into the
dark. "Well," she said softly, "here's hoping I'm not as much of a jerk as I
Then, quite suddenly, another gust of wind blew through the nothingness and
Buffy simply blinked out of existence. The wind howled and screamed through the
empty space. And Buffy Summers opened her eyes.
"Buffy? Honey, are you all right?"
Buffy put her hand to her aching head. "Oh, God. Mom?"
"Yes, honey, it's me. Are you okay?"
Buffy blinked. Her mother's face swam into focus above her and she groaned
slightly. "God, what happened? I feel like I got hit by a truck."
"I heard you fall, so I came downstairs to check on you," Joyce replied. "There
was a glowing shell around you - I couldn't touch you through it. And then you
were you again."
Dazed, Buffy asked, "Who was I before?"
Joyce pondered how best to explain the situation when she herself didn't
particularly understand it, and her own reactions to the woman who had both been
and not been her daughter. "You were. older," she finally temporized, deciding
to save more complicated conversations for daylight hours.
"Oh," Buffy replied. She pondered that for a moment, and then suddenly her eyes
opened wide as the memory of that kiss flooded her mind again, bringing with it
all the other memories of the previous two weeks that had been knocked out for a
moment by the blow to her head. "Oh!"
Joyce was startled when Buffy pushed herself to her feet. "Buffy?"
"Not now, Mom," Buffy replied. She kissed her mother on the cheek. "I love
you, but I gotta go find Giles."
Rupert Giles was pacing in his living room. God, that kiss - it had been
amazing, and he hadn't wanted to let her go. He had known that he had to, but
part of him had wished that she would push the issue, demand more. God help
him, he'd have given it to her. He'd have made it his mission to love her more
thoroughly in one night than any man had before in her life, including that
bleached-blonde threat to nothing.
He was startled out of his reverie by a knock on his door. His eyes shot to the
clock: it was two a.m. Who the hell would be knocking on his door at this hour?
He could think of only one answer to that question.
When he pulled the door open, the first thing he noticed was how the moonlight
shone on her hair. Then he took in her terrified eyes and realized all in a
rush that she was young again. "Buffy.?"
Buffy stepped forward, crossing his threshold, and he backed up. She pushed the
door shut behind herself and locked it quietly, then looked up at him. "I love
you," she said softly and without preamble. "I love you and I want you, and I
want to be with you."
He swallowed hard, not quite able to believe she'd said that. "Buffy," he said
quietly. "Do you realize what you're asking of me?"
"Tell me," she replied. "No more guessing; no more games. Just tell me,
Giles nodded, moving slowly toward her. She took a moment to appreciate the
sight of him in emerald and cream before he laid a gentle, warm hand on her
cheek. "There are a number of factors to consider," he said in a low, rich
voice. "For one, I cannot be cavalier about a relationship with you. If I make
you mine, I will not let you go. For another." his fingers moved up to brush
the center of her forehead at the place Willow had once told her was the
location of the Third Eye. "There is a legend which tells of a strange mystical
connection which may form when a Watcher and a Slayer join in love. I don't
know much about it - the Council has worked to stamp it out in recent centuries
- but there are still whispers about it in dark corners. To bond with you in
such a way, Buffy, I would consider to be an honor of epic proportions. But it
may be that you would not wish to be tied in such a permanent way to me. There
is, after all, young Riley." he let his voice trail off.
Buffy shook her head. "I don't love Riley," she replied evenly. "He knows it.
He's jealous of you because he knows he could never measure up to you. And I
wouldn't mind being bonded to you. I think it would be. nice."
"Being bound to a man who is. I believe your words were 'old and gross'?"
Buffy sighed, looking down in shame. "I was jealous, Giles," she replied
finally. "I was jealous and hurt and I wanted to hurt you back. I didn't mean
it, and I hated myself for saying it." She swallowed. "I. I'll understand if
you. if you can't forgive me."
Giles's hand came under her chin, lifting her face up so that he could look into
her eyes. The utter misery that he saw there nearly broke his heart. "Buffy,
dearest, don't cry." He said softly. "I forgave you for that immediately. You
were lashing out, and I knew that. It's past, Buffy. Let it go."
She looked up at him hopefully. "Do you. I mean. will you.?"
"Yes, Buffy," he said softly. And for both the second and first times that
night, he bent and captured her lips with his. When he had rendered her
sufficiently breathless, he lifted her in his arms, waited until she had wrapped
her legs and arms around his trunk, and carried her upstairs.
Read the next chapter: The More Things Change, The More They Change