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Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series

She isn’t sorry- not a bit- not at all. Everything is better now- it all makes perfect sense- and she can’t fathom why these men are looking at her like that, or why the tall one keeps apologizing.

She recognizes them, in a vague and dreamy way, especially the tall one. He’s their leader, their prince, and she knows him from beautiful Mother’s visions. Mother was very clear on what the pixies said of him, and that she must kneel at his feet and call him Grandfather.

She thinks- perhaps- she knows him another way as well, that she recognizes him from before, but if Mother has taught her anything it is that her memories are not to be trusted, and that everything she ever knew was wrong. She must rely on Mother for guidance, beautiful Mother who is ever so much older and wiser than she. Wonderful Mother with her shining dark hair, and her great midnight eyes that can see into eternity, and her strong swift hands that punish so firmly when her little girl has been naughty or wicked. Oh, she’s so lucky Mother found her- slipped in and sang her to sleep every night- led her out dancing in the moonlight- told her to listen for the starsong. Then...then there was pain, for a minute, and then it was dark for a while. But when her eyes opened again Mother was waiting, and made her repent for her wicked ways, and now she could hear the stars sing quite clearly. Mother was so proud, and said she was her favorite daughter. Beautiful Mother.

The thin man is crying now, tears falling out from under his glasses, and that isn’t right at all; gentlemen aren’t supposed to cry. The dark one isn’t, just looking at her with something terrible in his eyes, something the shadowy memories that can’t be trusted think they understand. She hasn’t time for that now, though; they’re not her concern. Mother sent her back here with a message for Grandfather, and she mustn’t make any mistakes or she shall have no sweets tonight.

She was very proud of the dress Mother had put on her- so soft and white, all trimmed with lace, freshly starched and ironed- but without hesitation she dropped to her knees and crawled across the dirty floor to Grandfather, who stood looking quite stunned, as he had since she stepped from the moonlit, jasmine-scented garden into the lobby of the hotel.

She rubbed her face against his legs like a cat, marveling at the smell of him. She could smell Mother in him, and others he was bound to by magic and blood. It was like pressing her cheek against a tree, the solid dead strength of him.

“She sends a message,” she told him, knowing he could smell Mother all over her too, reveling in the link they shared. “She wants to see you, Grandfather.”

“Don’t call me that,” he said brokenly. “I’ll kill her for this- oh, God, I’m sorry, Fred-”

“No-no-no,” she scolded him, digging her fingernails into his thigh, “that’s a terrible name for a little girl. A boy’s name. Whatever were you thinking, Grandfather?”

“Winifred,” the thin man said, staring at her with his teary eyes. She smiled at him, twining an arm around Grandfather’s leg.

“Just so,” she said, glancing from him to the dark man. “But neither of you has been invited to the dance- she doesn’t want you, or the girl with the visions, because her visions don’t agree, and she’s afraid there would be a quarrel.”

“Why is she talking like that?” the dark man asked, his voice harsh and angry enough to make her thrill and shiver. “Fred never talked like that.”

“She’s in thrall to Drusilla,” Grandfather said, his voice sounding choked and odd. Not at all proper for a great sire.

She smiled wider and clasped her hands in front of her. “Beautiful Mother.”

He brushed his hand against the ribbons in her hair. “She did all this? She dresses you. Like a doll.”

“She takes splendid care of me. She’s bringing me up properly, teaching me to be a good little girl.” She buried her face in his thigh. “But I’m still so very naughty, inside...”

“I’m going to be ill,” the thin man said.

“Angel, man, let’s finish this,” the dark man said, and she shivered with delight at how his wild anger danced over her skin. “Stake this...thing and let Fred go.”

“Fred’s already gone,” Grandfather snapped, and his anger was even better, a thick dark blanket around her, dragging her down. “There’s nothing left of her here, but I’ll follow.” He tried to shake her off his leg, but she clung tighter. “I’ll kill Drusilla like I should’ve done years ago.”

“We’re going to go and meet my brother,” she said, smiling up at him. “He’s so much older, but Mother promises he’ll love me and teach me marvelous things, once we hurt him enough to make him remember he. He’s a warrior-poet, a true knight...”

“That’s just what we need, Dru and Spike the sequel. With a special guest appearance by someone with a brain.” He took her hand and drew her to her feet. “Wes, Gunn, I’ll finish...all of this, you wait here for Cordy.”

She danced ahead of him out the door and down the street, reveling in her strength and the clarity of the moonlight. She hadn’t failed- Grandfather was coming- his pockets were full of wooden death but there was no reason to fear. Mother was girded round with charms and omens; he couldn’t hurt her, never had but when she wished it.

“Do you remember anything?” he asked, his brokenhearted voice all wrong for the Grandfather the pixies spoke of. “Anything, Fred?”

“You saved me,” she said thoughtfully, coquetting with the rising fog, “or halfway did. She saved the rest of me- made it so clear- I heard the click.” She paused briefly and smiled at him, standing there anguished in the moonlight. “It’s all clicks now, one that never ends. Perfect logic. It all makes so much sense.”

He didn’t speak again, just plunged his hands into his pockets and walked behind her, as her dancing feet led him to where the dark princess awaited them in her midnight court. It would be all right- Mother would wipe the tears from his eyes and make him see clearly too. And then everything would be so beautiful, because the handsome man and the monsters could walk hand in hand.

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