A Christmas Slaying
Part 5

"Now, listen to me for just one second before you hit me again," said Joss, "He was leaving. I had every intention of helping them out,"

"Except..."

"Except, then he was gone. And she was really sad. And she needed a friend,"

"And you two became friends?"

"Yeah. She trusted me,"

"She leaned on you a little more,"

"Yeah,"

"So...you want to fast-foreword to months after Angelo has left, so I can see how CLOSE you two were?"

"We were-"

"Because you want to skip the part about how she never got ANYTHING in the mail from Angelo. This is what you meant in those interviews when you said the character youíre most like is Xander,"

"Well...."

"I turned Xander down, Joss,"

"I know....and then he gave you CPR-"

"Making us close forever in a special way...and making sure that Angel couldnít save my life,"

"Wait a minute...Angel saved your life a lot,"

"And what about NOW, Joss?" Buffy swung the flashlight into Jossí stomach, doubling him over, and spun in an airborne back-kick, nailing him in the head with her boot. She stared at him on the ground and sighed. "This is not about my agenda. Itís a relay-race kind of deal. Weíre about pass the torch to the present. First, you have to admit to yourself what you did to these people and that it bears a slight resemblance to the modified Hell Iím living in. That weíre all living in. After that my job is done. But I have this feeling that you are not getting it, and if you donít that would really suck,"

"Why?"

Buffy smiled savagely, "That part is not my problem. Iíll be leaving it to a much darker agent. But for now..." She tossed the flashlight in the air, caught it with a flourish, and raised it high above her head.

"No! NO, no, no....donít...OK...OK...weíll go to a week after Angelo left. Letís just get it over with!"

"Where?"

Joss sighed. "My room,"

They watched young Joss unfolding a letter.

"Joss;

Thank you for helping us. Thereís no other way for me to reach Betty, and it means everything to me that she knows how I feel. Things are good here, the money is great, there are a lot of great colleges. Betty said I would change my mind, and I have. I want her to have this. Itís more words, but at least itís solid, she can wear it without anyone questioning her and she can look at it whenever she wants and know how I feel about her. We have a future.

Please give this to her as soon as possible,

Angelo"

Young Joss took a wrapped box out of a large envelope and carefully pried the taped edges apart. He opened the box and something silver snaked out and fell into his hand. He held it up. Buffy craned her head to see it. She read the inscription:

"On the front side itís just her name, just a regular ID bracelet. But on the reverse side it says, ĎIím waiting. Love, Angelo.í" Buffy turned to Joss.

"Of course, she never got the bracelet,"

"No," said Joss quietly, "I threw it away,"

"You werenít afraid of him?"

"What-that heíd come after me?" said Joss, "Why would he suspect me? Besides, there would be no way for him to reach her, or her to reach him, because I lost the address, so no way to find out-"

"So-he got a broken heart, thinking she just never bothered to answer him or show up. He thought for the rest of his life that she just blew him off. And she got a broken heart from never hearing from him. Two people who would never really trust again, who would believe in love a little bit less. Two people who are a little more jaded and hurt. A little less true love in the world. Because of you, Joss,"

"I donít know...maybe not, maybe-"

Jossís head rang. He hadnít seen the blow coming. Buffy stood over him. She had her vampire-killing face on. Joss was chilled. "Youíve got to get it, Joss," She reached down, seized him by the shirt, and tossed him out the window of his childhood bedroom. He flew some distance, before he landed with an Ďoofí. Buffy came marching out after him. She leaped into the air, landing a front snap kick under his chin. He cried out, holding his face. She grabbed him by the collar and hauled him up, landing three roundhouse punches on his temple in quick succession. She shook him violently, rattling his teeth.

"Do you see a connection?" she demanded.

"Y-y-yes," he gasped, "Of course,"

"And you truly think itís OK?"

Joss stared at Buffy through a bloody haze, then hung his head. "No. I never said I wasnít ashamed,"

"Well, THATíS a relief!" raged Buffy, "Youíre ashamed! Now Iím supposed to feel sorry for you?" She dropped him on the ground. Her boot jammed into his temple. Joss was thrown onto his behind, shaking his head as if to rattle his brain back into place. "You created us. And weíre grateful. But-and I hate to quote the un-dead Kate Moss here, but: ĎYouíve been a very bad Daddy!í"

"People, real or fictional, can only deal with abuse from the parental figure for so long. Weíre not quite going Menendez on you, YET, but I suggest you make more of an effort." Buffy looked at her watch, "Woohoo! Weíre done, color me gone!" She looked down at him, "I guess now Iíll go deal with demonic city officials, and when Iím not doing that Iíll just fantasize about the ONE time I got to have the most amazing sex in the world. And got to look into eyes that love me," She stared at Joss as though she were dreaming of getting one last shot in, and then she seemed to change her mind. She flipped the flashlight and Joss was back in his office, in his desk chair. He opened his eyes, and had a exactly half a second of relief.

"Hey! I mean, hi! I mean, Iím really glad to meet you, because youíre a really great guy, you know, for a guy who betrays his own characters. But besides getting us all into a really terrible mess, you really are a great guy!" Huge brown eyes beamed into his.

"Aly?"

"Nooo!" she giggled.

Joss groaned. "Iíím still in the Dickensian nightmare?"

"Oh...well, itís not that good, actually. Itís a nightmare of your own making. Remember Fantasia? Micky with the brooms? He got carried away, and the brooms were just doingwhat he had told them to do but it got way out of control and soon he was in BIG TROUBLE?"

"Willow, right?"

"Yes!" she scooped her arms in a gesture of encouragement, "Very good! Buffy must have helped you with your orientation,"

"Somehow I donít get the feeling that youíre going to beat me up,"

"Oh, well, no, but remember that in some circles my Slaying abilities arenít underestimated. Maybe youíd better remember that. Oh, and maybe you also ought to remember that I didnít get any attention from Xander until after I got Oz. And now I have nobody. I mean, Iíd just really gotten over Xander. I mean, whatís your deal sometimes?"

"I...I have issues,"

"Yeah!" Willow nodded emphatically, "I think you really do!"

"So, can we get on with it?"

"You know, I donít think you ought to be rude, because Iím one of the nicest characters in any fictional universe, and Iím definitely going to be the nicest part of this experience! And also because you should trust me. I really want to help, Joss. But after having Spike jam a broken bottle in my face, when the scene was already scary enough...I think itís fair if you are polite,"

"Iím sorry, Al- Willow,"

"There!" she grinned at him, "Thatís way better! And now we can log on!" She reached across his desk and swiped the mouse over the pad without looking, double-clicking on the icon. "Weíre going to do some surfing, Joss. And youíre going to see how youíre wiping out,"






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