ONE GIFT DESERVES ANOTHER by Phantom Dennis

DISCLAIMER: BtVS is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and 20th Century Fox. The soul-eating shaman is the property of 1013 productions.

Summary: This Takes place in a slightly altered 5th Season. Spoilers up to "The Gift" on Buffy. Some spoilers for the X-Files episodes "Hollywood AD" "The Gift", and "Deadalive" Spoilers for Angel up to "Reunion"

A.

"Mom!" Buffy called out staring at the empty hospital bed. She ran out to the nurse's station. "Where's my Mother?"

"Your mother?" asked the nurse.

"Joyce Summers!" said Buffy.

"Something wrong?" asked Ben the orderly as he approached the station.

"My mother's gone!"

"We'll help you find her," assured Ben.

Meanwhile in the hospital room, Willow and Oz were looking for clues.

"Do you think Glory took her, Oz?"

"I don't know. Glory's not exactly that subtle. Hmm. I found something," he said picking up a piece of paper.

"What?"

"This." Willow took the paper from Oz. "I think it was taped to her bed."

"It's a circle with a cross in the middle. Think it could be some sort of Christian symbol?

"I don't think so."

"Why?"

"Because it's written in blood," pronounced Oz.

"It's a Lakota Medicine Wheel," declared Amy sitting at a reading Table at the Magic Box.

"Medicine Wheel?" asked Buffy.

"Yes, it symbolizes healing. It's usually used by a shaman."

"The circle represents the continuum between life and death," added Willow pulling information on her computer. "The journey is separated by two roads, one for happiness, one for sorrow."

Amy continued. "The Lakota tribe teaches that all these elements- life, death, sorrow,
happiness- are all one. But it takes an enlightened mind to see it."

"So why was it attached to my Mother's bed. A get well card?"

"Can I see that?" asked Anya from behind the cash register.

Buffy handed Anya the paper. "This is the mark used to summon a sin-catcher shaman also known as a Soul Eater," said Anya.

"Soul Eater? That does not sound good."

"They don't eat the souls. They minister to the sick by consuming the sickness."

"They eat the disease?"

"Yeah, and you know that human saying. 'You are what you eat?' They're hideous. There are many vile, by human standard anyway, demons that do unspeakable things that are much more aesthetically pleasing to the human eye."

"Are you saying, my mother was taken by some sort of healing demon?"

"It's not a demon, It's a shaman. Demons don't heal, silly."

Dawn nervously waited by the phone. She did not like being left out especially where her mother was concerned. Giles was supposed to be watching her. Mostly he was poring over some tomes written in some obscure dialect so Dawn couldn't even help with the research. Right now, he was making tea.

The doorbell rang. If I let another vampire in, Buffy's going to have my head, thought Dawn. Looking at the peephole, Dawn didn't see anyone. Dawn gingerly opened the door prepared for anything except what she found.

"Oh my god!" exclaimed Dawn. "Giles, come quick!"

Giles raced out of the kitchen, hoping he could grab a weapon quickly from the living room if one was needed. What he saw shocked him.

"Dear Lord!" Giles exclaimed witnessing Joyce clad in nothing but a towel and covered head to toe in ooze. "We need to get her inside."

"So, they gave you a clean bill of health, Mom."

"The doctors say they can't find any evidence the tumor was even there."

"So this is the work of the soul eater, huh?" said Buffy. "It's strange to have a demon out there helping people."

"I keep telling you it's not a demon, it's a Shaman," interjected Anya

"They want to keep me overnight for observation, but I should be home tomorrow."

"Good old hospitals. Trying to milk an extra day of billing."

"Buffy!"

"Sorry, Mom. I guess I'm still a little cynical when it comes to hospitals."

A nurse entered "OK, only immediate family. Everyone else leave."

As Giles and the Scoobies filed out, leaving Buffy & Dawn with their mother, A thought occurred to Oz, "One thing bothers me."

"What?" asked Willow.

"Who summoned the Shaman?"

"I don't understand," said the middle-aged woman. "I thought your plan was to earn points with the slayer by curing her mother."

"Nah," said Spike. "Changed my mind. The silly bint would probably stake me before she realized I did her a favor."

"So why did you go ahead and have her mother healed?"

"I like Joyce. Back when I was the Big Bad, I had opportunities to kill her and didn't take it. We're kindred spirits in many ways. We both like 'Passions'. Then there's the Nibblet. She feels so alone in the world. Wouldn't do for her to lose her mother."

"You're a strange vampire."

"I know. I've always been a little off. Many shunned me. They said I was different because my sire was insane. That I would always have fragments of my humanity stuck in me making me impure. The chip makes it worse. I can't even kill rats like Soulboy could. And without the killing the demon grows weaker."

The soul-eater groaned.

"What's with him?" asked Spike.

"It's the pain. All the mental anguish. Every time, he heals one of the brain drain victims, it gets worse,"

"I thought he only healed when summoned."

"Their pain calls out to him. He can't help himself. I wish I could end his pain, but I can't bring myself to do it."

Spike took an old railroad spike and rammed it through the Shaman's skull. "Been a long time since I did that. He was human once, huh?"

"I knew your chip would not protect him. He was past what your government would regard as human. I'm sure there would have been more painless ways to kill him."

"What do you want from me? I'm still evil!" declared Spike in a not totally convinced manner.

B.

"I can't believe she's gone," sniffed Willow.

"It's not right that I am alive, and she's dead," said Ben.

"You've got that right," declared Spike.

"Hey, I'm the one she died for!" declared Dawn.

Glory had seemed unbeatable. When they discovered that Ben & Glory shared the same body, Xander suggested they attempt to split them the way Toth had split him. Willow seized upon this idea, and drew up plans while Amy searched for a way to heal Jonathan of his Glory-induced madness.

The plan had worked better than expected. Separated from her human host, Glory was much weaker, especially after Amy pulled the mental energy need to cure Jonathan and other victims out of Glory.

But they hadn't counted on Doc. Spike and Xander had thought they had slain him. Instead he managed to get to Dawn and bleed her. Doc defeated Spike, throwing him off the tower. By the time Buffy got there, the dimensional energy had been unleashed. Rather than kill Dawn, she mixed her own blood with Dawn's and sacrificed her own life.

"So what do we do?" asked Willow. "Wait a minute! We can rebuild her!'

"Buffy?" asked Xander. Images of Darryl Epps flashed in his head.

"Actually, I was referring to the robot."

"What?" exclaimed Spike.

"It's not for you!" declared Willow. "We're without a slayer now. This thing may have been designed for other purposes," Willow grimaced at that thought. "But it will be a more effective slayer than any of us."

"Gee, great! Let's replace Buffy with a robot! She's not even cold, Willow!" cried Dawn as Ben was bandaging her knife wound.

"Oh dear! What will I tell Joyce?" declared Giles.

"Willow and Xander took her to the funeral home."

"I can't deal with this. Things like this are not supposed to happen. At least, if that thing hadn't healed me I wouldn't have been able to see this day."

"Mom! How can you say that?" cried Dawn "Oh that's right, Buffy's the real daughter. Without her, you might as well be dead." She raced out of the house.

"Dawn!" Joyce cried out. "Come back here. Oh my god! What if something happens to her now." Joyce fainted.

"Oh no!" Giles raced to her. "Joyce, are you alright? Speak to me." A horrifying thought struck Giles what if that thing hadn't healed her. What if the stress of Buffy's death triggered a relapse?

"OK, why did we bring her here Willow!"

"Because I want to avoid an autopsy, Xander. We know how Buffy died. The coroner might rule Buffy a suicide."

"Meaning the body would have to be buried at a crosswalk?"

"It's a crossroads, Xander. And they don't do that do that anymore. I just don't want Buffy to be seen as some crazy girl who killed herself."

"Well, she was struck by lightening, sort of. Maybe we could say it was accident."

"No, Xander! Since Mayor Wilkins well blew up, there's not as tight a lid on the coroner's office. A bizarre death might bring outside investigators like the X-Files people."

"X-Files, I thought that was just a movie."

"The movie was based on real FBI agents."

"Is Scully really as hot as Tea Leoni?"

Willow rolled her eyes. "Well, I couldn't say but the real Fox Mulder's a lot better looking than Garry Shandling. At least he was."

"Was?"

"It's a long story." Suddenly Willow took a pocket mirror and held it up to Buffy's mouth.

"What was that about?" asked Xander.

"I just remembered. A few months back, Fox Mulder disappeared. He later turned up dead and they buried him. Three months later they dug him up, and he was still alive. Apparently he had some disease that made him look dead."

"And what happened to him?"

"Apparently, his partner Scully was able to find a cure."

"Wait a minute! You're not saying..."

"No, I don't think there's any resemblance to Buffy's case. But I guess it wouldn't hurt to order a few extras in the coffin. You know, like a lid that opens from the inside, an oxygen tank, and some sort of signaling device that says 'Hey I'm alive.'

"You know, I keep thinking she's just going to wake up."

"Yeah."

Oz raced in the room huffing and puffing.

"Oz, what's up?" asked a concerned Willow.

"Buffy's mother. She's been rushed to the hospital."

"Not her too," squeaked Willow close to tears.

"Seems we can't catch a break today."

In their haste to leave, they did not notice a slithery thing approaching Buffy's body.

"What in blue blazes are you doing out, Nibblet. Don't you know that there are demons about, one's that don't have a cute little knick knack in their heads that keeps them from harming people."

"Why don't you kill me, Spike. It's not like I'm really human. You really think that chip would just protect a ball of energy."

"Is that all you think you are?"

"Look, if those stupid monks hadn't created me, Buffy wouldn't be dead right now. Now Mom's mourning her real daughter. She's going to hate me for the rest of my unnatural life."

"Why should she hate having another daughter, Nibblett. Buffy didn't exactly have a high life expectancy." Spike paused. "'Tell my mother, I'm sorry.'"

"What?"

"It's what the first slayer I killed said to me as she was dying. Of course, she said it in Chinese, so I did not know it at the time."

"But you found out?"

"Of course I found out. I had to know what she said. I imagined it to be some sort of grandiose dying curse that would contribute the legend of William the Bloody. It wasn't easy. Let me tell you. I mean the Chinese don't even have an alphabet. They have all these symbols stand for words."

"So how did you find out?"

"I finally found a translator and tortured it out of him."

"Oh."

"You see, pet. The life of a slayer's mother is not an easy one. Most don't even know why their daughters lives were cut short."

"I remember when the whole Slayer business started. I was bringing home straight A's and Buffy was burning down school buildings. And I remember being upset because of all the attention Buffy got."

"Yeah, it's hard to be the good kid. Knowing that Mum & Dad are too busy worrying about your no good wastrel older brother to pay you any mind."

Dawn stared at him.

"Not that I have any personal experience in the matter," Spike continued.

"That thing that healed my Mother. Is it still around?"

"Why would I know?"

"Oh please, Spike. The only other person who'd do something like this on the sly is Angel. And we all know Angel was too obsessed about Darla at the time to know Mom was sick."

"It's dead. I killed it."

"That's gratitude."

"Maybe it was. The thing's keeper said that all the healing it was doing was making it painful and miserable. I decided to end its misery."

"I see. Too bad."

"Buffy wasn't dying, Dawn. She was dead. There's a difference."

"You don't think it could have helped her?"

"There are limits."

"So what happened to it."

"She buried it. We should be at the grave any second now. See, she marked it with its symbol."

"The medicine wheel," said Dawn. "Life, death, sorrow, happiness. All one. But it takes someone enlightened to see it. Think I'll ever be that enlightened?"

"I don't know. You should ask Oz. Enlightenment is his thing. For us vampires Death is life. I don't mean just ours but other people's. Other's sorrow is our happiness. Other's pain is our pleasure."

"Only you can't kill anymore."

"Bloody hell!"

"What's wrong, Spike?"

"It's not there! It's not bleeding there!"

"What?"

"The sodding body! That's what!"

"How can you tell?"

"I'm a vampire I can smell the stench of decay. I can hear the worms devouring a corpse. I know an empty grave."

"OK, you just took away the romance of being a vampire."

Spike tried to dig at the grave, but was repelled by the cross-like image. So Dawn removed some stones until the markers were no longer cross-shaped. Spike dug until he got to the coffin. There he noticed a hole in the bottom.

"Won't anything I kill stay dead?" Spike exclaimed.

Spike knocked at the door of the trailer.

A middle-aged woman with blondish hair answered the door. "Yes."

"May I come in?" said Spike entering. Dawn followed.

"Either you've been here before, Spike, or" Dawn turned to the older woman, "you're not human."

"I'm afraid I'm all too human, although not a native to these parts."

"Where is it?" asked Spike.

"It's finally at rest," said the woman.

"I'll believe that when I see it."

"Go ahead and see for yourself. Although, I warn you not to be too shocked."

"I'm over a hundred years old. What could possibly shock me?" said Spike heading to the back of the trailer "Oh my God" he exclaimed.

"Get out!" a female voice exclaimed.

Dawn recognized the voice. "Oh my god. It couldn't be," she uttered more mentally then verbally, as she understood for the first time the expression "my heart was in my mouth." She only knew one person who had that pissed-off voice.

"Buffy?" asked Dawn. She raced to the back and saw a pissed-off Buffy, clad only in a towel, pelting Spike with pillows.

"I'm not back from the dead 5 minutes and this vampire pervert is trying to sneak a peek."

"It's good to OW have you OW back," uttered Spike. "God slayer, you sure hit hard." Seeing Dawn, Spike said "Why don't I retire to the next room and let you two chat.

"Buffy, you're alive!" cried Dawn. "How?" Then she saw the cold body of the soul-eater. "Oh!"

"It took my death," uttered Buffy.

"No one knew what it could do, " said the woman. "Now it's finally free."

"Lucky, Spike was able to get his hands on some clothes for you, Buffy."

"Yeah, real lucky that he just happened to lay his hands on clothes of mine that have been missing for weeks."

"Err, they were bunched up behind your dryer."

"I am never inviting you in my house, again!"

"You say that now, Slayer. But you'll be begging be back in."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "In your dreams."

"Cam I stay here today. The sun will be up soon."

"Hmmm. Let me think about this. No. Dawn you go in first. Try to prepare Mom. I don't want to give her a heart attack.

"Lord knows you've given her enough gray hairs." Buffy glared at Dawn. "OK. OK. Sheesh, coming back from the dead makes you grouchy. I remember the last time."

Dawn entered the house with Spike escorting her, while Buffy stood to one side on the doorway. Spike entered to see Willow crying.

"Willow what are you doing here?" asked Dawn.

Willow wiped away her tears, showing eyes lit up with anger. "Spike, what's the idea of keeping Dawn out all night? Dawn, your mother had to be taken hospital."

Hearing this, Buffy forgot herself and raced into the house. "What's wrong with Mom?" she asked.

"Well, Buffy, we don't know yet. Buffy?" Willow fainted.

Spike put his hand on Willow's throat. "Oh she's all right."

"You sure. Trust me. Vampires are very good at discerning vital signs. That's why playing dead never works with a vampire. Although, sometimes we let them think it works so they have false sense of relief and then we..."

"Enough, Spike. Can we revive her?"

"Sure. You have smelling salts?"

"Uhh. I don't know. How about water?"

"Water might work."

"Here." Buffy handed Spike a bottle.

"Holy water? You want me to baptize a Wiccan Jew?"

"It's not a baptism If you don't say the words. Plus whoever heard vampire baptizing people?"

Spike gingerly poured some water on Willow's forehead, then lightly patted Willow's cheeks. "Wakey, Wakey, Willow."

The redhead began to come around. "Uhh, Spike. For a minute, I thought." Then she saw Buffy. "But you couldn't have turned her. There wasn't time. Omigod. You're a ghost. No, a zombie." Turning to Spike, she said, "Did you have another Buffybot built?"

"Willow slow down. It's me in the flesh. Not a ghost. Not a zombie, and certainly not a robot."

"But how?"

"It's a long story."

"The shaman guy that healed Mom was able to heal Buffy, although he died doing it," added Dawn.

"OK, not so long. So what's wrong with Mom?"

"We don't know. Giles was telling her about umm your death, when she just collapsed."

"Oh great, I may have killed my mother."

"Buffy, don't say that."

"Yeah, I'm the one who pitched a hysterical fit, and ran out of the house when I accused Mom of loving you more than me."

"What?"

"I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't have snapped at Mom like that and worried her. But she's gotta hate me. You died for me. You're the real one."

Buffy hugged Dawn. "You are real, Dawn. Realer than you know. I'll tell you about it. But first we've got to find out what's wrong with Mom."

Giles sat by Joyce's bedside. And spoke softly in your ear "Joyce, please wake up. I know Buffy's gone but Dawn still needs you. I know you love her. She needs to know you love her." Giles turned around. "Willow, I didn't see you. How did you get in? They're only allowing immediate family."

"Well, how did you get in?"

"I told them I was her husband, recently married."

"Does Buffy know about this?"

"Know about what?"

"You and Mrs. Summers. I mean do you think that they'd buy such an obvious lie, if there were nothing between you two? Nurses know these things. So how long?"

"I suppose it wouldn't do to play dumb."

"No, it doesn't suit you. So how long?"

"Err, shortly after her recovery. Joyce's illness made me realize how much I felt for her. When she started dating this guy named Brian, I found myself intensely jealous."

"Xander-style jealous?"

"Uh, yes. Anyway, I was obsessed with the idea that Brian was somehow connected to Glory. I attempted to dig up dirt on him. But of course, I found nothing."

"Whatever happened to Brian?"

"Uh well, he just happened to get a very lucrative job offer from a major publishing house in Britain."

"Wow! What a strange coincidence."

"Ah yes. Joyce thought so too. She came to my place to confront me. And the discussion got a little er heated."

"Heated as in angry? Or heated as in..."

"A little of both, actually. It started as an argument, then became something else."

"Oh, like Xander and Cordelia used to be."

"Not quite. Xander was after all still a virgin when they broke up."

"Oooh. So, you and Mrs. Summers have been shagging behind Buffy's back ever since?"

"That presents the most disturbing mental image. But yes, we were hiding this relationship from Buffy."

"So you think Buffy will freak if she finds out."

"Yes, I am quite sure she would have definitely 'freaked'." Giles took off his glasses as something occurred to him. "Why do you keep referring to Buffy in the present tense?"

"That's what I came to tell you about. I think you should put your glasses back on, and I think you should be seated."

"So the same sin-catcher shaman that healed Joyce has been alive all this time and was able to bring back Buffy from the dead?" asked Giles, hoping he got every detail right.

"It took my death," Buffy said wistfully. "Death was my gift. I guess it was his too."

"Just when you thought our lives couldn't get any weirder," said Xander.

"That's the hellmouth," said Oz in his usual monotone.

"Oh, not the usual stoic guy act, I actually saw shock in your face when you saw Buffy. Right, Xander."

"Sorry Willow, I was too busy picking myself up off the floor to scrutinize Oz's facial expressions."

"Scrutinize? Xander, what's with the vocabulary?" asked Buffy.

"It turns out Anya is a big Scrabble fiend. It's like her second favorite thing. We play all the time. Although, sometimes I have to remind her that demonic languages aren't within the rules. They can lead to some impressive triple word scores"

"Actually, most demonic languages cannot be transliterated using the Roman alphabet. So they wouldn't be feasible for Scrabble."

"Thank you, Giles."

A nurse entered the room. "Mrs. Summers is awake and can see some visitors, but immediate family only." Dawn and Buffy got up. "What about Mr. Summer?," said the nurse indicating Giles.

"Mr. Summers?" exclaimed Buffy, eyeing Giles puzzledly.

"Umm. It's Giles, actually. My wife decided to keep her professional name."

Buffy turned to the nurse with a sharkish smile plastered on her face. "My stepfather thinks it important we kids see Mom first," she said in a sweet voice with special emphasis on the word stepfather.

Buffy hesitated. "Umm, I think Dawn needs to go first. I'll be in shortly. Oh, and Dad?" She said looking at Giles.

"Hmm." Giles realized she was talking to him "Oh, yes!"

"We'll talk, later!"

The nurse came up to Giles, and put a sympathetic hand on his shoulder. "Ah stepkids, nothing like the Brady Bunch, eh?

"Umm, No I suppose not."

"OK, I can come in now, right?"

"Come in, Buffy," said Dawn.

"So, no shock?" asked Buffy.

"I was only told of your death, Buffy. Until you see hard evidence, part of you always wants to think there is some big mistake. So I guess I never fully accepted you as dead. Besides, it's not as if you hadn't gone off and died before without telling me."

"Yeah, well I'm trying to break that habit. Dying is bad for your health. Besides, I doubt I even have 9 lives."

"Dawn," said Joyce, "before you laid that bombshell on me. I meant to tell you something. I don't care if you're not 'real'. For years your father and I tried to have another child after Buffy. That's why there's such a gap in your ages. I know how disappointed I was when I thought that I couldn't have another child. When you consider that in so-called reality, I never did, you must realize Dawn, you're an answer to a Mother's heartfelt prayer."

"There's something I need to tell Dawn, Mom. You too, I guess. When I was on the other side, I learned something about a day that never happened."

"Huh?" said Dawn.

"You remember being on the other side?" asked Joyce.

"Yeah, it was nice. It was a good thing I didn't stay too long or I wouldn't have wanted to leave. And I learned something."

"About a day that never happened?" asked Dawn.

"Well it happened. But it was unmade. Although there was one thing they didn't exactly unmake."

"Huh?" said Dawn.

"Let Buffy continue," Joyce instructed Dawn.

"Remember the Thanksgiving of 1999 when you took Dawn to visit Aunt Darlene?"

"Oh yeah, she can really cook up a storm."

"Dawn!" scolded Joyce.

"OK, I'll be good."

"Anyway, Mom. I don't know how much you know about Angel since he moved to L. A. He operates as a private investigator and has a seer that has visions of people who need his help,"

"Cordy, right?" asked Dawn.

"Now. Then there was guy named Doyle, who later died but somehow passed his visions to Cordelia. Anyway, Doyle had a vision that I was in danger. Angel showed up in Sunnydale determined to keep me unaware of his presence. Somehow, everyone but me found out. I didn't find out he was there until after he was gone."

"Wait a minute," interrupted Joyce, "you told me that you had a nice Thanksgiving dinner with Willow, Xander, and Giles.

"Yeah that's true, except there was also these vengeful Native American spirits who arose to avenge past atrocities. They decided that since I was the mightiest warrior, I was essentially the chief of the white people and that I must die."

"Well, that certainly sounds a lot more fun than sitting around with Cousin Lambert watching Bowl games."

"Dawn!" reprimanded Joyce. "Buffy, you never told me about this. I thought you had a nice quiet holiday for a change."

"Well, who am I to disillusion you?" said Buffy sheepishly. "Anyway, when I found Angel had been in town and hadn't told me, I was a bit ticked off. Just then my father called, he was in L. A. for the holidays asked to spend some time with me."

"Wait a minute! Dad called you? Did he mention me?"

"Uh, I'm sure he must have. Anyway, Giles thought a little time with my Dad would be do me good. So he offered to watch things for me until I came back."

"This was around about the time Spike moved into Giles's house, wasn't it. I'll never forget popping in at Giles's place and seeing Spike all tied up."

"Dawn, can I continue with the story. Anyway, while in town I decided I'd drop by Angel's and give him What For. Now here's where the day splits in two. In the short version, Angel and I argue, a demon shows up, Angel kills it, and I leave. But it turns out there's a much longer version that up till only Angel remembered. One where he didn't know how to kill the demon. Well, we pursued the Demon to the sewers. Angel commented that the demon's blood was powerful. It certainly was. Angel got wounded. Some of the demon's blood mixed with his."

"And he mutated into this big out of control monster?" asked Dawn.

"No, far from it. See, the Demon's blood had regenerating properties, and somehow it turned Angel human."

"Human?" asked Joyce.

"No stupid soul curse?" asked Dawn.

"No, no stupid soul curse."

"I get it. Major Buffy/Angel boinkfest."

"Dawn!" said Joyce.

"No she's right. At first, we decided we would be adult about the whole thing. Then we touched each other and..."

"You did it,"

"Several times."

"Do you have to discuss this in front of Dawn?" asked Joyce.

"Actually, yes Mom we do. Anyway, it turns out we hadn't killed the demon. It regenerated. Doyle had a vision. He went to get Angel. But Angel felt the need to prove he could still slay monsters. So he didn't wake me up. So a human Angel went off to fight the monster with only Doyle for help.

"Fortunately, there are some things in this world you can always count on like Cordelia Chase. When I woke up and found he was gone, I went to the office where I found Cordelia holding a fire sale. She basically blamed me for everything and spilled the beans about Angel fighting the Demons all by his lonesome. So I went and pulled Angel's fat out of the fire. Angel found a way to kill the demon but not before he muttered something about The End of Days.

"Angel went to consult the Oracles. They told him I would perish in the End of Days."

"The End of Days. Was that what we just went through?" interrupted Dawn yet again.

"No, I think that's yet another apocalypse-like event. I'll have to get Giles on the research. Anyway, Angel decided on his own that he needed to be a vampire so he could 'protect' me. There was one way to do this. They said they would 'swallow the day' somehow so it never happened. Angel was allowed to keep his memories so he could prevent himself from being turned human.

"So one minute, I'm complaining that there's not enough time, and swearing I'll never forget. The next, I'm back at the beginning of the day as the Demon attacks. Angel kills it easily and I leave."

"God, you must be ticked," said Dawn. "I mean here he had the opportunity to be with you and he let it go because he was too intimidated by being the slayer's boyfriend. Sound familiar?"

"Yeah it does," Buffy replied in a wistful voice. "But on the other hand, there's a lot of people alive because Angel didn't stay human. So I have to think of that."

"Why are you telling us about this?" asked Joyce.

"On that day, a life was created. Rather than see that life undone, they removed the fertilized egg from its human host and entrusted it to an order of monks. The same order of monks that were entrusted with..."

"The Key!" Dawn interrupted. "You're telling me I'm the daughter of a vampire?"

"Angel was human at the time."

"You know, I've seen movies where the Sister turns out to be the Mother. But I mean there's only like a 6-year age gap between us. Oh my god! Oh I'm real, all right. But I'm only like 2 years old."

"Actually, that be more like one year, since you would not have been born until 2000. But at least you have excuse for not acting your age."

"Buffy don't tease your, your," Joyce paused. She was still stunned by this revelation. "daughter. My God, I'm a grandmother." '

"I'm still getting over that my biological father tried to eat me once," added Dawn

"First of all, there was no demon in Angel when he um,"

"Sired me?" asked Dawn.

"I don't like that particular word. Also Angel doesn't remember you." Buffy cast her eyes downward.

"Of course! If I wasn't even conceived when he left town, how could he remember me?" Then something occurred to her, "Dad doesn't remember me, either. Does he?"

"No, Dawn, the memory spell had a limited range. It only affected people in the Sunnydale area."

"Do you think that has something to do with why Dad stopped visiting us, I mean you."

"I don't think so. Although, I was busy wallowing in self-pity at that time. I have a hunch as to why he stopped coming."

"Care to share."

"I'll have to check with Giles."

"Giles?" asked Dawn.

"I'm not saying he knows. But maybe he can help confirm my theory."

"You mean there might be a supernatural reason why Dad is staying away," asked Dawn.

"I don't think I could take one more surprise," said Joyce.

The Nurse entered, "We have your test results. The doctor will be by later to give you more details. I think your husband will need to hear this."

"Husband?" asked Joyce.

"You know our stepdaddy, Giles," said Buffy. Then she asked, "Is this serious?"

"I'll wait until were all here."

She opened the door and called out "Mr. Giles, could you please come here?"

"How is she? Will she be alright?" asked Giles. Buffy noted the obvious concern.

"Mrs. Summers did not have a relapse. She seems to be in total remission. Although, naturally she'll need to be carefully monitored over the next few months."

"Ah, what is the nature of Mrs. Summers's ailment," Asked Giles.

"Mrs. Summers is by all appearances in perfect health. She's just pregnant. Now of course, a late-life pregnancy needs to be monitored carefully. Oh dear, they fainted!" said the nurse looking at the prone bodies of Giles, Buffy, and Dawn.

"It's just been a long day for them," said Joyce "I thought I felt the signs, but I was sure it was just a hysterical pregnancy."

The nurse began reviving them. "Will this pregnancy be a problem for you?"

"No, just another wonderful gift," said Joyce patting her belly.

END

AUTHOR'S NOTE: The soul-eater in this story would be the same kind as in the X-Files, but a different one than the one Mulder and Doggett encountered in Squamish, Pennsylvania. The idea of doing a crossover over with two episodes of different shows that had the same title has long intrigued me. It worked very well in this case, since both titles have the same premise of Death being a gift of sorts. The idea of Joyce being healed by the Shaman emerged from the fact that I needed a reason for the Shaman to be in town. The story just ballooned from there. The idea of Dawn being conceived during IWRY is something that occurred to me a few months back, and the first time I've been able to stick it in a story. Continuity differences: Let's just say that when Oz came back, Tara was long gone and Willow had no clue that she was supposed to be 'gay'. Tara is a very bland character and very difficult for me to write without altering her character drastically. Anyway, I never liked Willow as a witch, so Willow's cut back on her casting since she's discovered that handling powerful magic affects her mental stability. Jonathan discovered a way to change Amy back. As a couple, they handle most of the spellcasting. Jonathan's magic tending toward chaos; Amy's toward order. Amy's not a magic junkie, and does not know Wrack. (The only explanation, I can think for the current storyline is that Amy was somehow switched with Catherine again and the real Amy's stuck in the trophy.)