Title: The Visit

Author: Mel

Rating: G

Spoilers: Minors for several eps; in seasons 4 and 5

Summary: Fred visits her parents to say good bye before bringing Wesley home after his death in Not Fade Away

Feedback: yes, please, feed me. My email , and since this fic hasn't been washed, folded or beta'd, any and all feedback is welcomed.

Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, I just take them out to play with them and then return them to Joss's toy box unharmed.

Notes: This is a fic that's been kicking around my head for some time; it's also a solution to "how will the Burkles find out about Fred's death?".

"My love….oh my love….."

Fred saw that Wesley was surprised to see her standing, as his mortal body faded into death and released his spirit form. She had waited, allowed Illyria to finish her imitation-one which she had to admit was quite realistic-and then she reached down to take Wesley's hand.

"Come on, stand up."

"You are here….I did get to see you again" he said tearfully as he stood, leaving his mortal body behind. He looked down, seeming to think it was a bit eerie seeing his mortal coil still there on the floor while his spirit form stood looking down at it. "Knox and Sparrow were lying all along…" He hugged her happily and tearfully and she wrapped her arms around him. "I've missed you so much. I wasn't sure if I'd get to see you again or not.

"I've missed you a whole lot too. And I hated seeing what those two did to you, telling you my soul was gone. I wanted to tell you earlier so you wouldn't be so sad, but the powers wouldn't let me until now. But you don't have to be sad anymore. I really hated seeing what all of this was doing to you. It hurt something terrible. I wish I could've told you earlier. But now, it's all over and we can go and be together now, forever. But there's one thing I have to do first."

"Oh…what?"

"My parents….They have to know what happened."

"I'm sorry" Wes said. "I wanted to tell them, but I just couldn't. I didn't want to give up on the hope that some way would be found to bring you back. It just…It hurt because it seemed to me that it would be giving up. Please, can you forgive me?"

"Yes…I forgive you. And even though I wished you had told them, I understand why you didn't. I wanted to come earlier, to visit them, but the powers said the time wasn't right yet. So now I'm going to them before I take you home, so they'll know I'm okay and I'm happy even though I'm dead now.."

The change happened quickly, almost as if they had teleported. In a matter of seconds, they had left Vail's lair and were several hundred miles away, in Texas, inside Fred's childhood home. Everything was quiet and still; the Burkles were still asleep as it was early morning and still dark. The house was a typical rural, small town type home with quaint, "down home" interior and décor. It was nice seeing where she'd grown up, but there was also some sadness knowing she'd never get to bring him home to visit and hear what they thought of him and all those things that happened during dating and courtship.

Fred made her approach and Wes hung back, not sure if he'd be seen or not and wanting to let her do what she had to do.

"Mama….Dad? It's me…I need to talk to you. Can you hear me? And don't panic when you see me, it's all right."

"Wha…Fred…? What are you doing here? Are you makin' a surprise visit? Why do you look so weird, honey? You're glowing almost." Trish got out of bed and only when she tried to reach out and put a hand on Fred's shoulder only to go through it did she realize things weren't normal.

"My God….are you….You're a….a ghost?" Roger asked. "You're dead, aren't you? You've gone and died and you've come to say goodbye." He looked sad. "This is just a dream, isn't it? It'll all get over and I'll wake up and it'll all be okay. You just can't be dead, you can't."

"I wish I wasn't, but I am. It happened a couple months ago, when I got sick. And now I had to come to say good bye to y'all while I had the chance. I wanted to before…right after it happened….well first I asked Wesley to tell you but he couldn't bring himself to do it, and then I asked them up there if I could come and tell you but they wouldn't let me until now. And while I've got the chance, I wanted to tell you both it was okay and that even though I'm dead, you can still be happy for me."

"But how? How did this happen? Was there an accident…Did you get sick?"

"Something got inside me and did awful things to my insides. It was some kind of demon, and Angel and the others couldn't stop it.

"Months? But we just came to visit you a couple of weeks ago and you were fine."Trish said, confused.

"I know that looked and sounded and acted like me but it wasn't It was the thing that killed me living in my body, or what's left of it. That thing got inside me and it did terrible things and made it hurt so much I cried and I tried to fight, I wanted to keep going, and I tried to do what Wesley said and "just hold on" but I couldn't. I was so weak and tired and the pain was so bad…But I wasn't scared. Even right at the end, I wasn't. I was brave and I kept on fighting right until the end. And after I died, that demon took up livin' in my body like a shell. As far as I know, she's still in there."

"I'd like to give that vampire a talkin' to, he and all of his friends. They should have called us so we could have come and been there with you when you were sick." Roger said in an angry voice. "We never even knew anything was wrong, and if not for this, we'd never have even gotten to say goodbye."

"Don't be angry at Angel…He and everyone else were doing everything they could to cure me. They didn't want to get you all worried sick about me if they could make me better. But Angel told Wesley that the only way they could have saved me would have killed a lot of other people….thousands of them. Maybe even you all. I wouldn't have wanted that. I didn't want to go, but really, when I did die, it was a good thing because I was so messed up inside from the demon. I'd have had a terrible life and probably been sufferin' for the rest of my life. And afterward, they were sure they'd find a way to get Illyria out of my body and bring me back. And then you wouldn't have to hear all that stuff and then find out I was alive."

"This wouldn't have happened if you'd come home with us"

"I know, but I knew the risks….That was the life I wanted for myself. I knew I might die during it. And it's okay, because without me being there, things might be a lot different now. Did you hear about that Jasmine lady a while back?"

"Yeah, she was some kind of cult leader thing, right?"

"It's a long story…let's just say it involved her using Cordelia to get born and then she put everyone under a spell so they'd worship her. I accidentally got the spell broken though and she was trying to make everybody find me and kill me and I was scared but I knew I had to get Angel to see the truth, and I did. If he and I hadn't freed the rest of our group, she might've destroyed the whole world. And if I'd come home with you back then, that might not have happened."

"Wow, that's really something….Can you believe it, Roger? Our daughter helped save the whole world from getting destroyed."

"Our Fred, our little girl, a real hero…"

"Well, Angel and the others did a lot too. I just helped get them un-spelled so to speak."

"Still, we're just so proud of you and what you did."

"And besides that, if I hadn't stayed with my friends, I might never have realized my feelings for Wesley. I know you'd have liked him for a son-in-law and that we'd have had a good life together. I think I can honestly say that I was happy with my life…well, at least up until I got sick and died."

"And I'm sorry you had to have that visit thinkin' you were seeing me when it wasn't me and all you were seeing was Illyria. I saw you down here and it hurt bad. I wanted to come and tell you but they wouldn't let me because they said I had to wait until the right time. I'm just glad you got out of town when you did because now, big things are happening in Los Angeles. I don't know much about it, but Angel's taking on the bad guys who run Wolfram and Hart. He and all the others are, and they might get out alive, but Wesley wasn't so lucky, and now I came to take him home and they told me I could talk to y'all while I was down here."

Wes stepped forward, unsure if he was visible or not, and Fred took a step back to hug him. Because both were ghosts, they didn't have the problem ghosts did when touching objects or people in the physical plane. He held her close and comforted her as she tried to keep from crying.

"I know you're gonna miss me something awful and I'll miss you the same way, but you don't have to be sad for me. It's okay to cry and all, but just remember that there's good come out of it too. I'm not alone up there because I got Wesley. He and I love each other with all our hearts and he's gonna take real good care of me until you two get there. And then we'll all be together and you'll get to see me again, I promise.

"And even though you won't be able to see me, I'll still be lookin' down on you and watching out for you. And whenever it's your time, I'll be waiting for you."

Fred remembered what Spike had been able to do by willing it, and she concentrated, willing herself so that she could embrace them, and parents and daughter grieved for their necessary parting of ways.

"This is kinda a ghost trick a friend taught me and I decided to use it to hug you without you going through me. I love you both….I don't wanna have to say goodbye, but I have to. It's time for Wesley and me to go on home now."

"We'll always love you, sweetheart. We're going to miss you terrible, and we'll be lookin' forward to seeing you again." Trish replied.

"I don't know if they'll let me visit again but I'll try. I hope I can. If not, I'll see you later on, when you come to be together with me again."

"We sure hope so. We'll be thinkin' of you all the time." Roger said. He looked at Wes and said "You better take good care of her."

"I will" Wesley nodded, realizing now that he was visible to them. "I don't know if anything can happen in a paradise dimension or not, but if it can, I'll be looking out for her and nothing bad will happen to her."

"I'm gonna be thinking about you a lot too. Bye now…goodbye."

"Bye, love, You take care now."

She saw that she and Wesley were fading, or perhaps it was the room that was fading as she and Wesley started on their way home. She cried for having to leave her parents and for never getting to marry Wesley and grow old with him and have a family, but was reassured by the knowledge that at least they were together, and some of her family would still be there with , and possibly Charles, and Wesley most of all. She could see down below and see Angel almost like on a screen. She could see that he probably had a hard road ahead, and she hoped he got through whatever was still to come okay.

She could see her parents, too, as they held each other and cried, grieving for her, and she cried too. She noticed though that their sadness seemed just a little bit less intense as a result of what she'd told them and that they now knew about her. Wes put an arm around her and she hugged herself to him, blinking back tears as she watched, and thought about the day when all of it would be over and she'd see her parents again. And hopefully Angel and Lorne would also be there and she'd be with all of them again for the rest of eternity.