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Disclaimer: No permission has been granted to use the characters. They are owned by their creator, Joss Whedon, Twentieth Century Fox, UPN, WB, and Mutant Enemy. This story is non-profit and is intended solely as entertainment. No copyright infringement is intended.


A Second Meeting

Joyce picked up her screaming daughter. Elizabeth had been alternatively weeping and having a temper tantrum since the representative from the British museum had left. Hank looked into the bedroom where she rocked the girl on her lap.

“What’s wrong with her?”

“As near as I can figure out, she wants that British guy to come back.”

“The one at the museum?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

Joyce gave him a minor glare. “Like I know?”

Elizabeth sat on her mother’s lap and cried. She wanted the man to come back. He belonged to her but her tiny two-year-old vocabulary wasn’t up to expressing her need for him. “Mine, mommy. Mine.”

“No, Elizabeth. He had to go bye-bye.”

“No!” screamed the little girl. “Mine!”

“Geez, you’re going to have to do something with her before somebody calls the cops for child abuse, Joyce.”

“Well, what do you recommend I do, Hank? I’ve offered her every sort of bribe I can think of. I tried ice cream—she threw it on the floor. I tried reading to her, but she was screaming too loud for me to hear myself. I’ve tried spanking, it just made her scream more.”

“Is that guy still in town? Maybe you could call him. Maybe if she saw him again she’d settle down.”

“He’s here for another day or so, just in case questions about the transfer come up. I’m sure he doesn’t want to be bothered by a two-year old throwing a tantrum.”

“Well, I can’t take it any more. I’m calling him. What was his name again?”

She sighed and blew a lock of hair out of her eyes. “I don’t know, it’s on those papers in my briefcase.”

Hank found the papers. Rupert Giles. Huh. Sounded like somebody who’d work for a museum. He dug out the phone number of the guy’s hotel room and placed the call.

“Rupert Giles here.”

“Mr. Giles, um, you don’t really know me. We met earlier today at the museum. You were signing some papers for my wife. My name is Hank Summers.”

Giles remembered the rusty-haired man that had carried in the strange little girl.

“Ah, yes. Is there something amiss with the collection?”

“Um, no, not as far as I know. It’s my daughter, Elizabeth. She’s been crying since you left and Joyce says she keeps asking for you. I wouldn’t bother you, but it’s reached a stage where she’s almost hysterical. Would it be too much trouble to you to come over to our apartment and let her see you? I know it’s a huge imposition and I normally would never ask such a thing, but we’re at our wit’s ends.”

“I know virtually nothing about children, Mr. Summers.”

“That’s all right. I think if she could just see you again, she’d calm down.”

Giles took a deep breath. The little girl had pulled at his heart strings in a way that he found disturbing. Just the fact that he was so terribly tempted to see her again was enough to set off his personal alarms. Still, in the background, he could hear her crying and it wrung his heart.

“I, I’m not sure it’s a good idea, but I would be willing to see her again.”

“Great. Here’s our address. If you could get here really soon, that would be good.”

Giles wrote it down and then looked at it. It wasn’t that far. “Probably half-an-hour?”

“Great. We’re looking forward to it.” Hank hung up the phone and went back in to his family. “He’s coming.”

“Thank God!” Joyce was worn to the edge of her patience. She turned to her daughter. “Your man is coming, Elizabeth. You can stop crying now. He’s coming.”

“Mine! Mine! Mine!” the hoarse voice sobbed.

Rupert Giles arrived at the Summer’s apartment close to forty-five minutes later due to LA traffic and his unfamiliarity with the town. He took a deep breath and knocked on the door.

Hank practically ran to open it. The screaming his daughter was doing was driving him around the bend. “Mr. Giles, come in, please.”

He pulled the man into the living room and went to get Joyce and Elizabeth.

Joyce carried the still sobbing girl into the living room. Her daughter was so excited at the sight of him that she threw up.

“Oh, gross!” Joyce sat the tiny girl down on the floor and pulled her T-shirt off, leaving her sitting there in her cords and a singlet. While she watched, Elizabeth got up and staggered over to the stunned-looking man. She latched herself to his leg like a lamprey.

Not knowing what else to do, Giles bent down and picked her up. She threw her arms around his neck and sobbed lightly into his neck.

“Mine.”

“Um, really, uh, Elizabeth,” he looked at her parents. They were worn to a frazzle and if their daughter wanted to claim him, it was perfectly all right with them. He walked to the couch and sat down, cradling the small child in his arms. She clung to him tenaciously. He stroked her back, soothing her. God help him, this felt right.

He got her calmed down and then pulled her back from him a bit so he could study her. That’s when he saw it. The mark. The child was a Potential. She recognized him as a Watcher, her Watcher. But how? He certainly wasn’t in good graces with the Council. They would never in a million years let him have a Potential to train. If he told them what he had found in LA, they would steal this child away from her family. She would become just another statistic; a kidnapped infant, carried away for God knew what purpose. He couldn’t do it to her or to her parents.

Giles talked to Elizabeth for an hour. He told her stories that made her laugh. He told her one about another Elizabeth who had grown up to be a Queen. “Do you know, when she was a little girl just like you, she had a nickname?”

Elizabeth didn’t know what a nickname was, but if that other Elizabeth had one, she wanted one too. “Name.”

“Yes. Her family called her Buffy. I would like very much to call you Buffy, too.”

“Buffy. Mine!” She laughed with glee at the new name. “Buffy. Buffy. Buffy.”

He looked up at Joyce and Hank. “Oh dear, perhaps I shouldn’t have done that!”

“If she wants to be called Buffy, that’s fine with me as long as she doesn’t start crying again,” Joyce said with a rueful grin.

He held Buffy on his lap for another hour. She finally fell asleep in his arms, her eyes opening one last time to gaze at him with love before succumbing to her dreams. Giles, at Joyce’s insistence, carried Buffy back to her bed and tucked her in.

“She’s a very lovely child. You are truly blessed to have her in your life.”

“I know. I wouldn’t know what to do without her. I’m sure all moms must think this, but I believe that she’s special. I think she has a destiny.”

He looked down at the sleeping baby. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised.”

He shook hands with Hank and bid Joyce good bye. “I’m leaving for England in the morning. I do hope you won’t have any more trouble with her.”

“Me too. You’ve been a real sport coming here and helping us out like this. Thanks so much, Mr. Giles.” Joyce closed the door behind him.

As soon as Giles got back to his hotel room he started gathering the ingredients for a spell. Unbeknownst to her parents, he had gathered several of Buffy’s fine blonde baby hairs and had wrapped them in his handkerchief. He pulled them out now, and ran his hand through his own hair till he had several dark brown strands that he mingled with the blonde ones. He drew a small circle on the table and lit four candles at the cardinal points. He went over his memories of the child one last time, bidding them goodbye and then performed the spell. When it finished, neither he nor Buffy nor her parents would have any memory of him except as that ‘British guy who brought the artifacts’. It was enough.

Joyce woke up the next morning feeling very refreshed. It had been a profitable day for her museum. The new artifacts would become part of a stunning exhibit. It was quite a feather in her cap to have been part of acquiring them. She walked into her daughter’s room and prepared to get her up.

“Come on, Elizabeth. Time to rise and shine.”

“Mommy!” The happy little girl bounded into her mother’s arms.

Joyce held her close for a minute before putting her back on the bed to dress her. “You know, you little ragamuffin, I’ve been thinking…Elizabeth is a pretty big name for such a little girl. I think we’ll call you Buffy.”

“Buffy! Mine!” Buffy sighed happily. She liked the new name. It made her feel safe and warm and protected and reminded her of big arms holding her. “Buffy!”
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