Anyhow, she had the day off -- her parents are the cool type that think birthdays should be cherished and let her take the day off from school -- so she came over, and we celebrated. I gave her the cake -- and to either her credit or my cooking's credit, she didn't immediately get sick or refuse to eat it. I also got her a few small things... a charm bracelet, with a horse, a dance shoe, and a star - girls like charm bracelets, right? Okay, I'm bad at gift-buying.. but she seemed to like it. She asked me what the star was for... Hope, I told her. Ain't that somethin'?
I also got her a little stuffed horse -- it looked a lot like this horse picture she has in her room, so she really loved that. And I got her a little necklace - with hematite charms and an amethyst point piece in the center. Whitemage fluff aside, it really looks pretty, and it looked especially pretty on her.
We spent the day playing games, and talking, and just hanging out -- and she slept over, and we stayed up far too late watching movies and giggling. It was really really nice. One of those moments you want to save somewhere. And... it's really, really nice, just getting to watch someone sleep, and smile, and know you had something to do with that. S'beautiful.
Meanwhile, I'm still worried about Jonathan. Looking into -- my particular issue -- has been causing him some major problems lately. Thus far, we -- and Tara, and Amy -- have a few solutions. None of them are particularly good.
1) Have a champion challenge Hastie (or more likely, his champion) for ownership rights of my soul.
Since I don't really know anyone who likes me enough to willingly go into hell for me -- well, anyone that actually could do something -- that'd involve me figuring out how to kick the ass of some unknown demonstrosity. Not a good idea.
2) Ninja into the dimension, and try to find and steal the soul back without anyone being the wiser.
Sounds real good... of course, the problem is, who to take along with me, and who'd want to go? Somehow I think that the consensus of the group of allies at large leans strongly away from these two - as they should, I guess. I mean, if it were me, I'd be a bit sarcastic about having to go help some guy get their soul out of hell.
3) Surrender my magic via ritual, to 'cleanse myself of sin'. Which in theory should solve the problem.
This bugs me. Mostly, the heavy 'you have sinned and must repent' crap. I didn't do anything wrong, so what the hell? Furthermore... give up magic? Never. It'd be like... I dunno, giving up sugar. Do you see a lot of happy diabetics in this world? I don't think so.
4) Regrow a soul.
I still don't know what this option involves. It might be combined with the next one. It sounds kinda painful, though... and implies that I don't actually have a soul now, which makes me even more worried about my personal state now...
5) Atone by doing good in life, and hope that karma works.
Okay, first off, this makes me even less comfortable than any of the other options. Mostly because, while it's theoretically the most feasible option, it's also the one that involves a lot more faith than I have in optimism. Who exactly decides whether they should intervene on my behalf and tell Hastie, 'sorry, this dead guy's soul's too good for you'? God? Which god? There's quite a few of them to choose from.
6) Make a deal with another power.
Not too comfy here either. There's the whole 'out of the frying pan and into the fire' thing - coupled with a healthy dose of 'this will make things worse, won't it?' I don't happen to know any gods that like me. If I did, I'd have had them on speed dial a long time ago. And when you're dealing with anything that came out of a Call of Cthulhu book, you want whatever's on your side to reeeally like you before you make any deals.
Those are the options I've heard so far... of course, there's other options...
7) Try to reverse the spell entirely. Side effects: Possible disruption of soul. Especially if I try it. On the plus side, if I utterly obliterate myself, that would solve my spiritual concerns in a Gordian-knot manner. And... maybe the older me has a better idea what to do about this, and about these people. I mean, the only person I really, really know well anymore of the people I remembered is Amy... everyone else seems jaded, somehow. And every now and then, I get an idea of why. Amy looks pretty worn too - I mean, she spent a lot of time as a rat, and now her new beau's left her, and she's working in a diner and taking on boarders at her house just to keep in mugwort -- so much for all of our dreams of a brighter future. The future is cold, and dark, and sad... Anyhow.
8) Go talk to the person who made the spell (oh she who spreads for demons and hates Vance) -- and try to get an out, or more information. Very risky. On the one hand, she might hate Vance, and offer a way out (that probably involves damning my soul in a -different- way.) On the other hand, she might just try to kill me. And obviously, it's just not a good idea to go visit someone that everyone else is afraid of.
9) Exchange a soul for mine. Chloe's springs to mind pretty fast -- I mean, she did start this mess. But really, the most 'fair' soul to put on the block instead of mine would be Mrs. Marlowe's herself. Demons love to do that sort of trade... unfortunately, odds are, if I did try such a thing, it would likely ask for Kayla or something, and I don't think I would do that. Maybe if it asked for Vance... he doesn't like my sense of humor, after all... ...heh. Just kidding.
10) Directly seek out my soul captor, and offer my services directly in exchange for being off of his chopping block. Yeah, it'd probably work, but I don't think I'd really want that, and I don't think older me would, either.
I think if it comes down to it, I'll just do what I've been doing -- study as much as I can about the realm... go in, and try to take my soul back myself. And if I fail... it'll be another mysterious disappearance in Sunnydale. No big deal. But I think I'll tell Jon I'm opting for the 'do good works' path for now... then perhaps he can get some rest, and not have Amy fussing over him (although... they -are- both single... but Jon said that Amy would only really pity-date him. Which I guess is kinda true... Amy probably wouldn't date any of us that I know. Except -maybe- Willow. And Willow already has a girlfriend, so no luck there.)
But yeah... for Kayla, for Jon, for everyone... I think I'm just going to paint my mask of smiles and sweetness on, let it last through Thanksgiving, let them see what they want to see, and let them rest. It's been nice while it lasted, but...
Wait, sounds like Kayla's gotten the pizza rolls done. Better go.