by Prophecy Girl

The night before my birthday. It's early and I'm almost asleep and then Tara's shaking me and hissing my name. I open my eyes and I wish I could glare, but I can't because she looks too weird. All glitter and sequins, and she's pulling me out of bed and telling me she has a secret.

I could be still dreaming, but I don't think so. I've never had a dream this weird. She puts eyeliner and glitter on me, and sequins and pins, and when I look in the mirror a strange glam girl looks back at me, still blinking sleep out of her eyes.

I question her and she just grins. Her eyes are traced in thick smoky-grey lines and her lips are silver-white. She tightens the glittering belt around my waist and I look like magic, given form. Maybe I am. She leads me downstairs, and I pull away. I don't know what her secret is, but I have a secret, too.

I dash back upstairs and dig under my bed until I find them. Blue and silver shining wings that Buffy never let me wear. I put them on and straighten my ponytails in the mirror again. Mirror Girl is everything I want to be and can't.

I meet her downstairs and put on my iridescent pink Sketchers, with their glittering pink spring-laces, and stand in front of her, long and lanky and oh so glam.

We go outside and by now I don't care where we're going. These wings can make me fly, and I can lift Tara up and take her away from here, away from Willow and the memories, and maybe she would love me like that then.

For some reason, the sight of Giles and Oz sitting in the front seat of Giles' sports car doesn't shock me. Or the fact that they're both decked out in black, leather, glitter, rainbows. I like Giles' eye makeup and I'm glad to see Oz again. It doesn't even surprise me that his hair is blue now, or that Giles' arm is around him.

Tara and I pile into the back seat, giggling and whispering. What if Buffy sees I'm missing? Tara left her a note. And I know she doesn't care, anyway. Not anymore. But tonight isn't about Buffy and her complicated relationships and kinks, it's about me and mine. I have faery wings and Tara's holding my hand.

We drive to LA and it's about two hours. We stop in a diner called Angel's and it's retro and red and the waitresses are on roller skates. Oz and I share a plate of mozzarella sticks and Tara tries on a pair of skates. She goes behind the counter by herself to fix our shakes, and takes people's orders. We laugh and the waitress makes me one of the diner's pins with my name on it.

Oz trades me his devil horns for my wings, and he dances on one of the tables to Joan Jett's "I Love Rock 'n' Roll". Tara giggles and puts a dollar in his waistband, and I throw a quarter at him. He uses the quarter to buy Giles a ring from the gumball machine. It doesn't fit his hand, though, so he gives it to me and I give it to Tara and ask her to marry me. She says yes.

Giles pays, and the people whose orders Tara took give her a beret with pins on it that say things like "Peace and Love" and "War Is Over". Oz takes a picture of us and them standing outside their car, which is really a mini bus. Tara says they are neo-hippies and live in their bus. I think that's the best way to live.

Giles tells me that there are a lot of ways to live that are very different from each other, and people find happiness in all different places. He says that because I'm practically an adult, I should start learning about people, because in Sunnydale everyone is almost the same and I don't necessarily have to live that way.

We get back in the car and Oz wears the pin with my name. He says he's going to be Dawn Violet tonight, not me. He gives me back my wings, but lets me keep the devil horns, and says we should all make up hippie names. Tara says she's going to be Sunshine Daydream, and I decide on Rainbow Star. Giles says he likes Rupert just fine so Oz decides to call him River, because of "the river of life" in 'Siddhartha'.

Oz plays with the radio.

"If I were the king of the world, tell you what I'd do. I'd throw away the cars and the bars and the wars, make sweet love to you.."

"Never been a sinner, never sinned. I got a friend in Jesus. So you know that when I die, he's gonna send me up to the spirit in the sky.."

"A thumb goes up, a car goes by. It's nearly 1 a.m. and here am I, hitchin' a ride, hitchin' a ride.."

He bops his head, Giles and Tara sing, and I close my eyes to listen. Mommy used to listen to this music, but Buffy always hated it. Mom said that Buffy turned into a Modern Girl and I was always her little flower child. When I was little, Buffy braided daisies together and made us crowns, and we would run around in the yard in bare feet. We stuck oak tree seeds on our noses, and wore yards and yards of pastel chiffon wrapped around us.

Giles pulls over onto the shoulder and puts the top down. I kneel on the seat and inhale deeply, the scent of the nearby ocean surrounding me. I tell Tara we should go to the beach, and Oz promises that we will. I ask him if he's going back to England with Giles, and he says he is. Then Tara says she is, too, and that I can come if I want. I tell her I do, but she says to wait until tonight is over; then I can make a decision.

Oz climbs in the back with us and braids my hair, then Tara's. Then Tara and I put his in little ponytails with tiny rubber bands. He puts silver lipstick on us all, including Giles, and steals his horns back from me. Then he gives me my birthday present — cat ears. I put them on and purr. Everyone laughs, and I lick Tara's cheek. She blushes.

The smell of the ocean fades, and the heavy city air replaces it. We are entering Los Angeles, and Tara asks which celebrities we wish we could run into, even if they don't live here. Oz says David Bowie, and Giles agrees. Tara says Tori Amos. I say John Lennon, and everyone changes their mind to agree with me.

Oz and I start singing Beautiful Boy, and he tells us how he met Sean once and just hugged him and started crying, and they both cried and then Sean gave him a pair of his dad's sunglasses. Then we decide "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is the best song, hands down, and Giles sings it for us. Oz plays an imaginary guitar to accompany him and Tara and I lay curled up with our heads next to each other, staring up at the stars and I wonder if John is looking down on us. Tara promises that he is and it makes me feel better.

Giles pulls the car into a garage, and we all pile out and fix our outfits, wings, ears and horns. Tara takes off her coat and pulls a black choker with tiny spikes out of her pocket, then puts it on. I ask where we are, and Oz tickles me and tells me it's still a surprise. It doesn't make me feel like a kid, though, because he tickles Tara too. She squeals and hides behind me, then we all walk out of the garage holding hands.

Down the street, there is a crowd gathering and they are all dressed differently. Some of them look like us, some of them are dressed like each other, some look like people in Sunnydale. Everyone is smiling and joking and running around. Some of them are carrying weird things, like water guns and bags of rice. I glance at Tara, and she smiles.

We go and stand with the people, and a boy a little older than I am turns to me. He's prettier than most girls I know, and he's wearing heavy black eyeliner and a cape. He admires my wings, and it turns out he's from the next town over from Sunnydale. He explains where we are, and then he and Oz talk about music and Tara pays for my ticket.

We go in, and Tara insists that part of the deal of tonight is that I have to participate in the Virgin Ceremony. Oz says he'll go up there with me and do it too, even though he's not a Virgin. I'm embarrassed until Giles explains that all first-time viewers of the Rocky Horror Picture Show are Virgins. The emcee is really funny, and he makes all five of us Virgins fake an orgasm. Everyone says I did the best job, and he gives me a soundtrack CD, then has everyone yell 'Happy Birthday, Bitch' at me.

Tara is blushing when I come back, and compliments my orgasm. I purr again, and she throws rice at me, giggling. The whole movie is amazing, and being in the theater was really fun. People threw things at the screen and yelled and danced. We all did the Time Warp, and Giles got invited to join the floor show, which Tara said was a really big honor.

Now, standing outside the theater, still high from all the excitement, the boy from earlier swaps phone numbers with me and we promise to hang out sometime. Tara looks jealous, but she looks relieved when Oz tells her that the boy hit on him. Giles looks a little less pleased then, but Oz puts his horns on Giles and dances around him until he can't help laughing, and then we're all laughing and none of us is ready to go home.

We go to a cafe and sit in big overstuffed chairs. Oz and Giles drink green tea and Tara and I have hot chocolate and we all have hot, fresh muffins. The girl in the cafe tells us that her name is Claudia, and she is an art student, and the cafe is only open all night on Friday and Saturday, just for the Rocky Horror people. She has the longest, straightest black hair I've ever seen and really bright blue eyes, and a ton of piercings.

I tell Tara I want to get something pierced, and she says she'll pay for it, for my birthday. Giles frowns a little, but then Oz reminds him that I'm an adult now, officially, and it's my decision. Everyone agrees, and we say goodbye to Claudia. Oz gives her a sparkly star sticker from a package he bought right after the show. She sticks it on her cheek and waves.

We find a piercing place that's open, in the same neighborhood, and Tara holds my hand when we step inside. The guy at the counter has a bar through the bridge of his nose and three lip piercings. He asks for my I.D. and says he'll pierce me for free because it's my birthday and he's the boss.

I wander around a little, and look at pictures of the different piercings you can get. Oz sticks a star on my cheek and calls me Rainbow, and says I should get my eyebrow done. Then he does the same to Tara, except he calls her Sunny, and says he'll do it too, and we'll be triplets. Giles says he'll just watch, thank you very much.

We all decide to get our left eyebrows pierced, and we pick out the same piercing — a metallic rainbow-swirled one. Oz goes first, and he smiles the whole time. Tara goes next and holds my hand, closing her eyes and whimpering a little, but she smiles when it's done. I go last, still holding Tara's hand, and it barely hurts at all. But when I stand up, I fall down, and they make me sit with my head between my knees for a few minutes. Then someone hands me a cup of water, and after awhile I'm okay. I look in the mirror and I see the girl I want to be smiling at me again.

The sun is coming up, and none of us wants the night to be over. But our eyebrows are swollen, our makeup is smearing, and we're all practically falling asleep. Tara puts her arm around me and Giles puts his arm around Oz and we go back to the car. Oz lays the front seat back a little and lays on his side. Tara stretches out as much as possible across the back seat and pulls me on top of her.

I nestle between her legs and rest my head on her chest. Giles leaves the top off and buys himself a coffee to stay awake. Tara plays with my hair a little and asks if I had fun. I tell her that it was fun, but it felt normal at the same time. For once, I didn't feel like a freak. She says that maybe I'm like them; different. Special. That being a freak is just who I am. Like her.

I don't mind being like her. And I tell her. And then I kiss her.

I tell Giles I want to come with them. I want to live the way they do; the way they will. He nods with a little smile, like he expected that all along. I glance at Tara and she kisses me, and out of the corner of my eye I see Giles' arm go around Oz's shoulder.

Tara touches one of my wings, and I swear I can feel her touch echoing through my body, as though the wings are a part of me. Like she is. Like Oz and Giles are. Like Buffy was but hasn't been for a long time. Just like when I was barefoot in the backyard with a daisy crown, I feel free. I feel like I belong. I feel loved.

Oz shifts and plays with the radio some more, finally deciding to put a mix tape in. I wrap my arms around Tara, curl up with her in the back seat, and nod off as Giles and Oz sing along softly.

"You know who I am, he said.. The speaker was an angel. He coughed and shook his crumpled wings, closed his eyes and moved his lips.. It's time we should be going.."