Refiners Fire
by: Ricochet

"How long has it been since we've heard from Angel?" asked Willow.

"Too long." Buffy said. "He's trying to find the right spell that will turn Billy back."

"Billy hasn't attacked yet because he wants you to be nervous, Buffy." Said Giles. "You must be ready for him. Right in front of you is a challenge and evil greater than that of even the master. You should be training every spare moment you have."

"And I would fit a life in where?" she asked. "Hey, I know. I'll just let my grades drop beyond repair. That should leave me enough time to have a social life."

"Buffy, this is no joking matter, I assure you." Giles assumed his I-know-all mode and acted superior to the five teenagers around him.

"Well, if there is anything I can do at all." Said Cordelia. "Just let me know."

"Great, we can give the vampires fashion tips before we send them to hell." Said Xander.

"Shut up, Xander." Cordy retorted.

"Hey, that goes for me, too." Said Oz. "I may not know who this guy is, but it sounds like he was a major help."

"Look how they fight." Said the witch who had turned Billy.

"Isn't it wonderful?" Billy said. "And what is even better is the fact that Angel is out searching for a spell book that doesn't exist!"

"That was never proven, Billy." She watched as Billy took the form of a common crow.

"Well, I'm gonna trail them for a little." He said, in the witch's head. "Report back to Drusilla that I'm going to be a little longer than expected."

"Yes, Billy." She ran over to his Viper and sped out of the parking lot.

"So, guys, what's our first move?" Buffy said. None of them noticed the common crow that landed a few feet away to inspect a chip bag.

"We go to that warehouse and find the vampires, and Billy. We keep him prisoner until Angel gets back with the book."

-In the graveyard-

"Guys, seen anything yet?" asked Buffy, as Giles, Cordy, Xander, and Willow regrouped at the Hillcrest family crypt.

"Just twelve homeless guys and two PDAer's who obviously don't know the meaning of 'get a room'." Said Cordy.

"You mean you two." Said a voice. All of them turned around to see Billy stepping out of the shadows. "Relax, Buffy. I'm not here to fight."

"Then why are you here?" she asked.

"To tell you to watch your step. There are downs to being the slayer. Kind of like what happens when you get really famous. The paparazzi harasses you, your friends. But sometimes not even your family is safe." He smiled as a look of horrified enlightenment crossed her face. "And you of all people know the sacrifices of being one of the chosen few. I meanů" he trailed off as he began to change shape. After about ten seconds, he emerged as Buffy, even in the same outfit. "You can never be totally sure who your friends are."

Buffy number two charged at Buffy number one. After about five minutes of fighting, Buffy number two was thrown to the ground. As she stood up, she changed back into Billy. He turned around.

"How do you fight in those shoes?" he asked in disbelief. "Jeez, I can barely even walk." He glanced down at his now fully male body. "Hey, guess I just evened up the odds."

"I think I'll even them up a little more." Said Angel, as he came running into the graveyard. He tossed the book he was holding to Willow. Running behind Billy, he grabbed his arms and held them behind his back. As Billy struggled, Giles ran over and gave Billy an injection of a powerful sedative. Billy began to weaken, and eventually he passed out.

"Angel, is this the book?" Willow flipped through the pages.

"Yeah." He dropped Billy, and his unconscious form fell to the ground. "But you can't cast it until the stars align." Willow looked at him blankly. "Midnight tonight."

-At the library-

"Willow, are you sure you're up to this." Giles tried once again to deter her from performing the spell. "Remember what happened last time you cast a spell."

"Giles, it's not gonna work." Willow looked at Billy. "Buffy, take his shirt off."

"Why?" Buffy walked over and ripped it right off his chest. "Is it in the spell?"

"Maybe." Willow smiled nervously as Billy came around.

"What the hell?" he looked at the shackled at his hands and his feet that held him to the library. "I suggest you let me go."

"Come on Billy, you're really not much of a threat with that temporary binding spell cast on you." Buffy smiled. Billy looked at her and tried to shift unsuccessfully. He groaned and slammed the back of his head on the table.

"Willow, are you ready?" Giles asked, as he finished casting the circle around Billy.

"As ready as I'll ever be." She stood at Billy's head and opened the book. Looking at the others she began to chant in English. "Old ones of power that's strong, restore our friend to good for long. I call on you to infuse in me, infuse in me the power to be the one his good side needs me to be. I invoke thee, come to this hallowed place and make it a good and holy place!" Billy began to writhe in pain and just then, the evil sparkle left his eyes as he passed out once again.

"Jeez, what is with immortal demons and their lack of staying power these days?" asked Xander.

-At the bus depot-

"Are you sure you have to go?" asked Willow.

"You guys got along just fine without me around." He said as he reached out and lightly touched her chin, causing her to blush. "You'll do just fine again."

"But we could really use your help." Said Cordy. All of them looked expectantly at Buffy. She rolled her eyes.

"I guess we could use you around." She said.

"Well as touching as your willingness to say that was, there are other places that need my help as well." He bought his ticket. "Besides, when you need my help, I'll know. Part of a shifters ability. Since I shifted you, Buffy, we now share a mental link, if you allow it. Whenever you need my help, long term, I'll come back." He smiled. "Trust me."

"I guess." Said Buffy. Billy leaned over and gently kissed Willow on the cheek, making her go red enough to make a tomato jealous.

"See ya later, Willow." He said. "Keep getting those great test scores. Oz, I know your band is gonna make it big. Cordy, keep the miniskirt alive. Xander, umm, well you just keep being Xander. Giles, keep the slayer in line. And Buffy, say goodbye to Angel for me." He stopped in the doorway of the bus. "Catch you around."