Summary: In every generation there is a chosen one. Now she's no longer alone. The potentials have been awakened. Their destinies have been changed. The balance must be found
Timeline: Post S7 Buffy. (well it kinda goes AU right at the end of Chosen) Haven't watched Angel since S2 so I don't think it'll have any spoilers for that. The Scoobies will be in LA for a bit but lets just say he�s busy with that whole new company of his.
Disclaimer: All characters, etc, belong to Joss, M.E., Fox, and whoever else. They just wouldn't let me sleep until I wrote this down. This will eventually become a crossover with Highlander. I don't own highlander. I don't know who does. Whoever you are, please don't sue me.
Prologue - A Slayer Reborn
In every generation, there is a chosen one,
She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness.
She is the slayer.
Buffy Summers stood on the edge looking down. From behind, she dimly heard someone ask,"What do you want to do now?"
What do I want to do now?
It had been so long since she had even thought about that question. Rarely in the past couple of years had her plans run further ahead than the next day or week. She was finally a Slayer not the Slayer. Even though she had shared her duty for six years, she still seemed to constantly be fighting alone. Now weeks, months, years, decades seemed to spread before her.
And it felt so bad. It felt wrong, to live after dying, to survive after entering battle with a death wish, to outlast so many who had fallen in battle, to renew friendship after betrayal. They wanted her to live. To train these children who would be soldiers. Who would never truly learn the true meaning of a Chosen One. "She alone", not alone anymore. There was only meant to be one, now there was an army. They had shaken up the order of the world, forcing her destiny onto unsuspecting girls, who didn't realise that the only way to leave the war is death.
She felt the adrenaline of the fight drain out of her system and pain racked through her midsection. Perhaps the ultimate prize hadn't escaped her as it had so often before; in the cave and at the mansion, on the tower and every day before and since, it eluded her grasp, just out of reach. The slayer in her would never let her die while a shred of hope remained. A faint smile crossed her face as the blood started to pool at her feet and she slumped to the ground.
Supposedly when you die, your life flashes before your eyes as you die. As the pain became less intense in a way that had nothing to do with healing, visions and voices bombarded her. Not just her life, but what seemed like the life of countless slayers assailed her. She fought innumerable battles, prevented thousands of apocalypses, died over and over again. Each time feeling the peace of knowing that the battle had ended, only to be reborn, recalled and eventually, rekilled. As she slipped into oblivion, she recognised the voice that has been assailing her with its final words.
You think you know who you are, what is to come? You have only just begun.
Hundreds of potentials around the world had been empowered by Willow's spell. When Buffy hit the ground, hundreds of slayers fell to the earth as the power left, sensing the imminent ruin of the one place it belonged. "In every generation there is a Chosen One." Funny when you think of it, "in every generation" yet here were hundreds in one generation waiting to be called. Few realised the truth in those words. In each generation there were many slayers, but there is only, and will only ever be one Chosen.
The power of the slayer, finally unlocked and reaching its full potential, rejuvenated the body. It rose from the dust and glowed with an unearthly aura as the excess energy enhanced senses and muscles. A normal slayer tapped into more and more power as they aged and became used to their strengths, but never had more than a fraction of the true slayer essence been unleashed. Until now. Every cell was strengthened. The air around crackled with waves pouring off the figure now surrounded by a blinding light. A True Slayer is born.
Buffy awoke to the sound of a crackling campfire, and the endless noise of the dessert winds rushing over sand. Looking around she saw the first slayer through the flames. But this time she was not alone, but flanked on all sides by girls of all nationalities, spread through time, all between 18 and 25 years old. Buffy looked up at the obvious spokesperson for the slayers.
�Am I about to get a repeat viewing of slayers through the ages, or are you gonna tell me what's going on?"
"You have remembered us, we have come"
All the slayers spoke as one, and as the truth finally hit her, all the slayers converged to leave behind - her own image. With a voice that still consisted of hundreds of interlaced voices, speaking simultaneously she spoke.
"We are the Chosen. We are one"
She could see their lives. But now as a pose to haunting visions, they were memories. Her soul had been unlocked, she was them, they were her. The image of herself flickered and changed form a hundred times, and each was like looking into a mirror. The figure stepped forward into her, and peace washed over Buffy as her soul was completed.
Chapter One - The Chosen One
Buffy awoke to the sound of soft snoring with the dim predawn light washing over her face through a gap in heavy curtains. The room was bare and musty, an old hotel room that could only be Angels. She took in the contents of the room. Bed, dresser, chair. A second door that she assumed opened into an en-suite. A scuffed carpet on the floor. The minimum required to make a room bearable. Nothing that came even close to making it seem lived in, homely. This room had never been loved. It was just a place to be. That seemed apt in some way.
She had only been observing her surroundings, but her instincts had been focused on the other presence in the room. Curled up on the chair, with a blade to her neck, was Faith. Taking a moment to realise that it was not a Scooby watching over her, the blade still hadn’t been removed when the sleeping girl awoke.
A steady brown gaze met hers as the knife was lowered
“Sorry, I’m used to waking up alone” as soon as the words left her mouth Buffy frowned. No she wasn’t. She was used to being surrounded by the annoying brat-like potentials. At all times.
It took six seconds.
From waking to having the memories flood back. She was The Slayer. She was The Chosen One. She still had an eternity of wars to fight. Alone. Her new memories had sorted themselves, collating into eras, centuries. She could remember everyone she’d been. But the first memory was the worst.
**She felt the cold metal of shackles around her wrists and saw them attached to the ground as she looked around helplessly at her surroundings trying to find a way to escape. She felt so strange, so weak. There were three men there, tribal shamans. One bought a box to the centre of the circle marked on the floor and opened it as they continually chanted. Black smoke emerged from the box in long tentacles. She struggled against her restraints in vain as the black smoke came toward her, entering her body through her nose and ears. As the smoke seeped into every particle of her being a rush of pure power went through her. She was now strong enough to break her restraints. She left the men behind as she rushed out, blindly running away from her tormentors. Finally slowing her impossible pace when she reached a stream. This was how she felt when she had been called, when the power of the slayer had first joined with her. Scared. Of her new strength, senses. Everything was magnified, finally coming into focus. She looked into the water and the face of the first slayer, her face looked back.**
That was who she was, what she was. Where it all started.
She could feel the strength, the enhanced senses, all constantly increasing. Faith’s heartbeat was a quickly beating drum, resounding through her head. She could hear, word for word, the conversation a family was having over dinner two blocks away. Sebastian had got into Harvard. Good for him. Her spider sense told her there were six vamp nests in a 5km radius of here. And that was without stretching her senses. There was definitely a reason a new slayer didn’t get the full package. She had built up control of her abilities over the years, and without that, she knew she would have been doubled over in pain as the noise, smells, and vivid sights assailed her senses. Meditation was a necessary skill for a slayer. Without it you go insane. Bringing herself inwards, back to the room, she looked into Faiths eyes and saw only fear.
“I think we should go downstairs. I don’t know if I can explain this more than once.”
Buffy stood, and without a backwards glance, strode out of the room to the lobby. Even in clothes that had seen both battle and blood, then been slept in, she had an amazing presence. Her aura flowed around her, too intense to be contained in her petite physique. Her voice demanded compliance and, without a thought of doing anything but acceding to Buffy’s request, Faith followed the blonde out of the room.
A casual observer would see no change in the blonde descending the stairs. She still moved with a casual ease and a self confidence that made her look like a predator, slinking through it‘s territory, confident in it’s prowess and indifferent to any challenge. She still took in her surroundings with the air of both hunter and hunted. Searching for routes of escape as she assessed her potential prey. The only change in her physical appearance was her eyes. Always aged far beyond her years their hazel depths now contained the knowledge and sorrow of millennia.
The other change in Buffy was obvious to anyone in her vicinity. She had a power, a glow that drew you to her. It spoke of strength and protection. In s small way this had always been there. A subtle subconscious aura that told the rescued not to be afraid of the small girl who had just destroyed large vampires with super strength. But now it seemed to flow out form her in waves. The whole hotel was a safe haven. It made you feel at peace, cared for, loved. It felt like home.
Despite the contentment flowing through the hall, many faces still bore signs of worry and resentment. This was especially evident in Kennedy’s murderous gaze. Buffy sighed as she looked around her. It was the watcher-raised potentials that would take this the worst. They had been bought up to believe that, if worthy, they would be chosen to protect their world. With their dislike of Buffy obvious in their mutiny, it would be hard to convince them that the blissful power of the slayer that had run through them for a short time, did not belong to them.
“What did you do to us?” Kennedy growled, and stepped forward in an attempt to appear menacing to the slayer. Even as Buffy raised her eyebrow in amusement as Willow drew her girlfriend back and attempting to placid ate her.
“What Kennedy meant to ask, was do you know what happened? All the slayers collapsed. And you were all with the glowy. Now they don’t feel anything. They’re still stronger than usual but definitely not slayers. And you were talking in your sleep - in Sumerian!! When did you learn to speak that anyway? We thought it was just gibberish but when you slowed down dawn recognised some words. And Faith said you were still a slayer, oh and the scythe gets all glowy around you. What’s with that. And…”
Buffy stepped up to willow and stopped her with a calming gesture. “I’m not entirely sure what’s going on” the potentials all looked very sceptical at these words. “But if you just let us have some time, just the Scoobies, we’ll figure out what’s going on.” at this all the potentials erupted in anger. When they finally quietened down their spokesperson, Kennedy, told Buffy in a barely controlled rage.
“You took our powers away bitch. We WILL know what you’ve done and, when we fix it, I’m gonna show you what a true slayer is.” with her boredom of Kennedy’s self perceived importance clearly written on Buffy’s face, she cocked her head at the group in front of her “Ok then, stay.” she looked at Kennedy with humour evident in her eyes.
I’m gonna enjoy this. They want the full version. They can have it and live with it.
The rest of the room seemed to let out a breath as Buffy failed to attack the stubborn brunette for her outburst. And the tale began.
“Some of you know of the origin of Slayers, but for those of you that don’t, I’ll begin there. As some very stuck up men once wrote ‘First, there was the Earth. Then there came the demons. After demons, there came men. The men found a girl. The men took the girl. To fight the demons. All the demons. They chained her to the Earth.’ They took the demons power. They forced it into her. And so they created the first slayer. They sent her to fight the demons, and when she fell protecting them, her power was passed on to another with a spirit strong enough to house the power, who was called upon by the Shadow Men to fight. And so the slayer line continued through the ages. Watched over by the descendents of the Shadow Men, who eventually became the Watchers Council.” a few of the potentials were interested in this mythology, but most merely seemed impatient “I’m sure you’ve all heard of reincarnation. A person is reincarnated when she dies?”
“Can you just get to the point? this isn’t story time.” snapped the most impatient potential.
“Willow can you please get your girlfriend to control herself for five minutes?” Buffy looked at the girl in question. Kennedy’s stare was pure murder, but the comfort of being pulled into Willow’s arms allowed her to control her bitter retorts, Willow nodded at her friend to continue the story.
“Well, the soul of the first slayer was reborn as a baby girl, and in due time, when she was of the correct age, she inevitably became a slayer. This continued through time. The slayers essence so to speak going into others as well but invariably granting power to the original. When I fainted on the edge of the cliff I saw the lives of all these slayers, until it reached the last incarnation of the first slayer. Me.”
This revelation caused the anger that had been building in the watcher-raised potentials to overthrow, and many stormed out of the room while others looked on in complete disbelief.
Xander as ever was the one to break the tension “So does that mean I should take the heart thing personally Buf, cause that dream was kinda painfully intense”
Buffy looked apologetically at Xand “I guess we don’t like company in this body. There’s enough of us here already without three more.” she smiled gratefully at Xander for easing dome of the tension. Though most of the potentials didn’t get it, it was the Scoobies that she wanted to understand.
“When I was unconscious I met with the first slayer. She showed me all I have been. I now have the memory of all our incarnations in my head.” she looked up sheepishly at willow “I guess that’s how I know Sumerian.”
“So you’re saying not only do you now have millennia of slaying experience, you also know ancient languages?” asked her mentor and former watcher, furiously cleaning his glasses.
“Well I guess I know all the ones that have been my native tongue, so yeah… oh and all the modern languages of course.” she added as an afterthought
“Of course” Giles mumbled. Feeling even more redundant.
“Well that’s pretty much all I know. Though I definitely haven’t lost my slayer powers like the others. More of the opposite really. I feel loads stronger and faster than before.”
Muttering started up as the potentials discussed the ramifications of what they had just heard. The Scooby’s were all silently it mulling over. Eventually, Willow seemed to reach some sort of conclusion.
“Err, yes Willow feral gem.” Buffy looked up at her watcher questioningly, who merely shrugged looking just as baffled as his former charge.
“You know, when that demon split Xander in two?” Buffy and Giles seemed to understand this, but not the relevance to their current discussion. “He was meant to be one being, so it was easy to put him back together. What if the… essence… of the slayer is the same.” comprehension flooded over Giles’ features.
“Of course. It’s natural state is to be as one entity. So it was drawn back together. With Buffy’s lineage as the reincarnation of the first slayer. It was naturally drawn to her!” Giles looked around in triumph only to see Willows disgruntled face “Well yeah. I just figured that out” she mumbled.
“But with two Me...s Willow still had to end the spell on us. She had to stop the power forcing me into two. It’s not like Willow decided to end the spell making all the slayers.” Xander levelled a mock suspicious gaze on the witch in question “Unless you’ve been holding out on us Will?” Buffy looked up in comprehension.
“It was me.” she whispered. At her friends unanimous reaction of “huh” she explained “I was hurt, dying I think. Then I was seeing all those lives... and the pain was gone. I think the spell broke because the slayer wanted to save me.” she suddenly realised what she had been saying “God, I sound so self involved. I really am a bitch. Everyone looses their powers and it’s all about me.”
“Well yeah B, but we already knew that you thought that so it’s ok.” Faith smirked at the older slayer.
“If you want to find out what’s going on, while you were out of it, having mystical rendezvous with the first slayer… or yourself… whatever, I spoke to Angel. He suggested we visit the oracles and ask them what’s the what. Seemed to think they could help with lost powers.”
And so Buffy came to be standing in a chamber underneath the post office looking at a white stone arc in the wall.
Hmm ‘gateway for lost souls’ well I’m definitely lost.
Willow sprinkled some herbs into an urn “We beseech access to the knowing ones..” she dropped a lit match into the urn and it burst into flames. The arc started glowing and filled with light. She looked at Buffy. “You're up."
She took a step forward, then looked back at Faith, who was holding tightly to an ornate axe ‘borrowed’ from Angel’s armoury. “Aren’t you coming?”
They stepped through the gateway into a white marble chamber. In front stood two figures, one male, one female, glittering in the bright light.
"Come before us, lower beings." intoned the male figure
"What have you brought us?" asked the woman
“We were supposed to bring gifts?” Buffy turned to Faith “Did Angel say anything about presents?”
"You call us forth and bring us no offering?"
Faith shrugged and chucked her axe at the ‘man’.
The woman seemed satisfied “A weapon is the gift of a true warrior”
"Well?" the man was obviously the more impatient of the two beings.
"What's happened to me?" Buffy asked.
“You have found yourself. Through the ages, the slayer sought for you. You were the first, and though it’s essence was housed in other shell that were deemed strong enough, it always returned to you. Your Soul and the slayer had bonded so it felt the loss of you akin to the loss of a soul mate. Into every generation you were reborn, and in each generation the slayer waited in other bodies until it deemed you ready. You are the Chosen One. The soul of the slayer.”
“So you weren’t jokin bout that shit huh B? But why have the potentials lost their strength?”
“It was unnatural for the slayer essence to be split. When The Chosen One was dying the slayers essence overcame the spell and rejoined with her to save her.” the man looked intently at Buffy “You now have all the power of the slayer. You will heal in minutes. Stay youthful as those around you wither. Gain strength, even more than that which you now posses. You have an eternity to live. Use it wisely”
As all this information hit her, Buffy sank to her knees. An eternity….
“But why do I still have my strength?”
“You were the slayer for a long period of time. It alters your soul when it bonds with you making you stronger. This is not removed. It is why the potentials that became slayers will always be stronger, faster and heal quicker than a normal person. As you were slayer for so long you still have the complete benefits of a slayer”
The man looked at his sister in anger. “You have already told them too much.” He raised his hand and both slayers flew out of the arc into the Scoobies waiting on the other side for their return.
Chapter 2 - Hard to Drown in the Shallow End
The bartender was worried. Correction. The bartender was terrified. The cause of these thoughts was the girl sitting at the bar. She was slightly tipsy. In a bar that wasn’t usually a problem, a bars soul purpose was to get people drunk, and the bartender’s job was to supply the alcohol. When a cheerleader could drink over two bottles of JD and still be sitting upright; she was a problem. More so when she had two swords strapped across her back.
The bartender instinctively made her a double JD on ice, it wasn’t a voice you could disobey, and returned to his worries. He’d seen 7ft demons loose consciousness after drinking half as much…
At a slower pace; he slid her another drink. He’d seen those same demons edge out of the bar for fear of being recognised when the girl arrived.
Buffy was bored. She sat in the demon bar contemplating her next move and trying her best to get drunk. It wasn’t working, her brain still worked depressingly well as her enhanced metabolism made short work of the alcohol. In the past week, she had systematically slain every violent demon in L.A.
Where were all these apocalypses Angel boasted of? It was time to move on.
What do I want to do now?
Everyone seemed to have an idea what she should do. The most recent plan was for the Scoobies to go to guard the Hellmouth. When she had been uncooperative in their planning of her future, she had been given time to deal with the oracles revelations while her friends planned her life.
At least she didn’t have to play den-mom to a crowd of potentials anymore. Somehow the assets of the Watchers Council had been put into her name, and now all the potentials and watchers had trust funds. A poor replacement for a sacred duty, but they were cared for.
Another shot slid down her throat.
Some of the potentials had formed bands of demon hunters, but most were put off by their experiences in Sunnydale and merely went to any home they had. Kennedy had formed one of the first bands when it was made clear that if she fought with Buffy, the slayer would make decisions. That girl really couldn’t stand authority… unless it was her of course. Kenny said she was heading off to an Indian hotspot.
Memo to me: find out where Ken went and avoid like the plague.
The last orders bell chimed. Buffy held up both hands to the barman and watched as a row of ten doubles were lined up on the bar. Downing them all in a minute flat she smiled as a light haze settled over her thoughts. Sweet oblivion.
Walking back to the hotel was annoyingly sobering. The scents on the warm air of a summer’s night in the city. The subtle sounds of the night. The distant awareness of the city’s now sole vampire inhabitant. Her instincts telling her body to hunt, to fight. That now was the time her prey was weakest, as the suns impending presence stole the power from the night. Adrenalin flowed in preparation, ridding her body of toxins, readying her for the fight.
It took all her willpower to force herself towards her bed. With not only her own memories of Angelus but also those of her predecessors. Memories of the masacres that spread across countries left in the wake of The Scorge of Europe… reminding her that behind his angelic face lay a enormous potential for destruction. No, The Powers needed all the champions they could get; killing one of the few would not aid her cause.
I can control myself. I am more than a slayer.
The front of the Hyperion came into view, Angel thankfully dropped off her senses, and the internal battle faded. The urge to fight faded, though the desire to hunt wouldn’t fade until dawn. The low mumble of voices attempting discretion filtered through the heavy doors.
“… not sure she can.”
“B..b..but it’s Buffy”
“I’m not entirely sure it is.”
Faith was leaning against a wall, not taking part in her friend’s conversation, but mulling over their words. Giles seemed unsure of how to word his next sentence, and unconsciously cleaned his glasses as he sorted his thoughts.
“She suddenly has the memories of countless slayers. Centuries. Most of which would be a life alone, with a watcher, ending in a violent death. We can’t even begin to understand the effect this would have on her.”
“Angel…” Willow interrupted.
“I know Angel went through something akin to this when he returned, but there’s no way to get them to get close enough for him to be of any help her. It was hard enough restraining her when he came to visit.”
Xander snorted, “What happened to Angel was nothing like Buff. He was remembering slaughtering thousands of innocents. She remembers fighting to protect innocents. Dead-boy can’t understand her.” As ever the venom in his tone when speaking of Angel was palpable.
“Yes… well that’s beside the point. None of us can understand what she is going through. That’s why I think -”
“Why don’t we get an answer straight from the cat’s mother?”
Faith decided to use this point to welcome the newest participant of the conversation drowning Giles’ words, and looking straight at the subject of the conversation.
“Hey B. Good Night?”
Chapter 3 - Déjà Vu
“Hey B. Good Night?”
Buffy slowly moved out of the shadows of the doorway into the foyer of the hotel.
As her friends seemed shocked into silence by her sudden appearance, she made her way to the weapons storage and calmly started disarming herself as the entire room followed her movements. Sword and sheath were unbuckled and placed in Angel’s now empty weapons cabinets. Then numerous throwing knives emerged from all over her body with two long slim blades removed from sheaths at the small of her back. Finally a multitude of stakes emerged from the streamlined curves of her clothing.
“That‘s a mighty fine arsenal you got there lil lady… did the Buffinator get much action tonight?”
A scowl crossed Buffy’s features as the reason for her evening on a barstool came back to her. Faith pre-empted any reply that Buffy could have made.
“I’d be surprised if there’s a vamp left in the whole city. I know it’s been days since I could find one.”
She looked up ironically at her fellow slayer “I thought you went to see Angel yesterday?”
Buffy looked up apologetically at her sister, obviously this was not the time for jokes. It was harder now, with her hyperactive senses, to ignore the fact that Dawn was not truly her sister. The Key’s energy ebbing and flowing as it’s pumped through every inch of her body. She knew Dawn was hurting from the perceived rejection of her constant absence. Hopefully she believed it was due to their betrayal in Sunnydale, not her origins. Dawn not being human had always been a touchy subject.
She tuned back in to her surroundings as Faith answered Buffy, oblivious to the distraction of Dawn’s interruption “… as bored as I am by the lack of anything slay worthy. Damnit B, did you have to scare off everything without a pulse?”
The disgruntled expression returned to Buffy’s face, “Well you’ll be happy to know I didn’t find anything to fight either.”
“You didn’t? Then where have you been all night, why didn’t you come back? I‘ve hardly seen you for weeks”
Dawns face crumpled, resisting the urge to cry. She had always complained about Buffy’s over protectiveness, but the apathy that seemed to have replaced it was upsetting.
“I’m sorry Dawnie. I know I’ve been a bad sister. It’s just been hard for me.” She tried to pull her sister into a hug, concentrating on the past three years, trying to block the time she now remembered clearly without a sister, but Dawn pulled away.
“You’ve been drinking!” Buffy shied away from her sisters gaze, ashamed now to admit where she had spent her evening… and night. “Is this what you’ve been doing all this time? You’ve ignored your friends,” a sob broke through Dawns composure “family, left us to deal with the potentials, your future, everything while you got drunk??”
Looking around at the people in the room, Buffy realised how much she had missed. Xander’s face was gaunt from lack of food and sleep, Willows eyes were red and puffy from tears and even Dawn had a pale tinge to her features, which she hadn’t had before. They were all mourning people; Anya’s death, Kennedy’s abandonment, Spike’s death. Even Faith had grieved after Robin Wood’s final demise in hospital, and Buffy had magnified all their pain by her actions and her failure in her duties to her family. Duties, which had nothing to do with the slaying that Buffy had thrown herself into with, abandon since their visit to the Oracles. Her obligation to stand by her friends and comfort them in their losses. Instead that had been left to Giles who looked lost and emotionally drained by recent events. She came out of her thoughts to hear her mentors sad voice reproaching her for her actions.
“…we all know what happened the last time you tried to drown your sorrows.” Disapproval of this new revelation was clearly written over all her friends’ faces.
“Yeah Buff, A revisit to primal slayer really isn’t what we need now”
In spite of her realisation of how much she had abandoned her friends that almost made Buffy laugh. As far as they all knew she’d hardly drunk anything since that incident. They knew nothing about her, then successful, attempts to drown her sorrow after her resurrection.
“I’m sorry guys, I haven’t been here for you these past few weeks, I’ve just got a lot to deal with”
“You think we all don’t?” Willow’s resolve face was firmly in place “Buffy, you haven’t dealt with anything. You’ve lost yourself in slaying, so much so that you’ve hardly been here except to sleep. And obviously as soon as you cant forget about it that way, you’ve switched to drinking. This isn’t healthy, you have to accept what’s happened.”
“I know you can move through this. But you cant do it alone.” Buffy smiled sadly at Giles. The time that she had needed his support was long gone. If he had stayed when they had found out where she’d been before they raised her. He was the only one apart from Spike that she could have opened up to then. Her friends were too guilty about their parts in her resurrection, and Dawn was too upset that she wasn’t glad to be ‘home’.
Looking at the group of people standing around her she had the strangest sense of déjà vu. The setting was different, and there were people missing who could never be replaced, but the mood was the same. Forced cheer and rapport between friends who had become strangers. The tension in the air was palatable, once again they had seen her empty, they needed reassurance that she was coming back together.
“It's because they care about you a lot. When you were gone ... it was bad when you were gone. But it'll be better now. Now that they can see you being happy. That's all they want.” Dawns words floated back to her over the years, once again forcing her to comfort her friends. This time they were older, they had more scars on their souls. Willow had the shadow of Tara’s death, and her reaction to it still hanging over her, Xander was guilty of his treatment of Anya, especially in light of her sacrifice. Once more she had to force a smile onto her face for her friends, to take away the blame they still felt for their lack of trust.
So she locked up the part of her that had been hurt, suppressed all the new memories, and let the babbling teen out. She had played a part for so many years, hiding the age-old weariness that comes with slaying under jokes and blonde-like ignorance. It was far too easy to once again slip into the role, apologise, smile, tease. Subtly make them forget that she hadn’t had time to fix herself. That this was just another shell covering up the shattered soul inside. Her consciousness of her actions faded as she retreated inwards, letting her mouth talk inanely for her, distancing her even further from the people in front of her.
The figure that had been leaning casually against the wall, hiding in the shadows caught her eye as it started to edge out. There was no resemblance to her former confidant, unless you count the sexual prowess that emanated off both of them. But in her eyes was the same mixture of pity, sorrow… and the hope without expectations that had drawn her to the bleached vampire after her resurrection. An encouraging smile crossed Faith’s features, so unlike her normally superior smirk. Then as suddenly as it had come, it was gone, as was she. Disappearing up into the hotel.
Whatever had been coming out of her mouth must have worked; she was being drawn into a loving hug by her sister and best friend. Tears shimmered on their eyelashes. When she was able to excrete herself from the group with promises of milkshakes with her sister, mochas with Willow and training with Giles, Buffy walked wearily up the stairs in search of the enigmatic slayer.
She finally found her on the roof of the hotel; the air was cooler so high up, the breeze taking away the worst of the smell of tar and car fumes that assailed her on the streets. She was sitting on the edge, swinging her legs over the 5-storey drop. Buffy went to sit next to her, taking in the view. They sat there for what could have been minutes or hours, both lost in thought, unaware of time before Faith finally acknowledged her presence still staring blankly over the city “You should go back inside. Finish the big group kiss and make up.
As if in a different timeline Buffy dazedly replied, “I don't want to.”
“When you finally decide what you do want, let me know” Faith gracefully rose to leave.
“You don't have to say anything.”
“I was going to leave.” Faith stopped about to climb back in the window of the hotel. “There would have been hundreds, thousands. They wouldn’t need me.”
“You’ll always be needed B”
Buffy sighed in acceptance “I know. And I’ll always be there… for eternity.” she knew on a conscious level that it was pointless to still grieve the peace she’d lost. She could remember being drawn from it countless times as she was reborn, but the pain of being ripped forcefully out still burned like an open wound.
“Death is your art. You make it with your hands, day after day. That final gasp. That look of peace… Every Slayer has a death wish.”
Even then, Spike had understood her so much better than those she spent her time with. He lived with her in the night. Her soul came alive when she was enshrouded in darkness. He had been the only one to understand the monster within. The effect of the hunt, the kill. She could feel Faith’s worried gaze on her back. Somehow, after taking the death wish to the extreme of turning against her calling, Faith had found something to live for in redemption. Friends, Family, they were never enough to give a slayer the will to live, but the need to atone, to earn forgiveness for her sins was keeping Faith alive, by forcing herself to survive the next battle, to save more innocents. Until she had earned her gift.
“You don’t have to go.”
“You came up here to be alone”
Buffy smiled and shook her head, but formed the words that were still appropriate. “That’s okay. I can be alone with you here.”
Unsure weather this was a good or bad reflection on their relationship, Faith awkwardly lowered herself back onto her spot on the roof’s edge. Comforted somewhat by the weary smile Buffy sent her way, she returned to her thoughts, gazing over the city.
The last slayer and the chosen one sat together, watching as the rising sun burst over the horizon, heralding a new day. Calmed by the presence of a kindred spirit, tears of regret for her losses started to silently streak down Buffy’s face.
Chapter 5 - A House of Cards
The flames were roaring all around her, the crackling of burning timber and crashes of burnt beams collapsing under the weight they had been designed to support drowning out the noises of the fight. The demon was a part of the flames and of the night, especially powerful in a blaze that added heat to it’s fire. The blades in her hands no match for the creatures reach, cursing the summoner who had bought her adversary into this dimension, she ducked and weaved around the demon’s clumsy blows, finally managing to sink her blades into it’s gritty flesh. Even as its flames were extinguished and the demon defeated, the knives melted into pools of metal. Destroyed by the inferno. She tried to catch her breath in the hot, oxygen starved air, the smoke stinging her wounds as she swayed, still reeling from the battle. There was no chance of escape.
Buffy woke up choking in attempts to breath, and looked in confusion at her surroundings. Where were the majestic pillars? The tiled floors? More importantly, where were the fires? For a moment the room seemed completely alien, then her mind reorganised, sending her dreams… memories of ancient Greece back into her subconscious. Thoughts and feelings that were both new and so old she couldn’t trace their origins settled down. Her breakdown the night before, or technically earlier this morning, had released the floodgates of memories. By no longer trying to repress the thoughts of her deaths she had welcomed her previous lives into her subconscious.
The urge to fight that had receded in her misery now returned with a vengeance. She went down to Angel’s flat in the basement and closed her eyes in the centre of his training mats. She started with a simple Tai Chi routine, and then moved on to kicks, jumps and punches. Fighting imaginary adversaries, speeding up the moves until she was just a blur in the midst of flailing. The minutes, hours melted away as she fought her demons. Literally battling the things that had caused each of her deaths.
That was how Faith found her; engrossed in her deadly dance. The moves were not only impossible for a human to contemplate attempting, but daunting for a slayer. The presence of the other slayer niggled on the edge of Buffy’s senses, which in her current state were on full alert. It snapped her out of her imaginary battle and her moves stilled from frenzied fighting. Finally settling into a stance that Faith remembered well, it was both a challenge and an invitation. Buffy stood in the classic ready position that she had assumed every time the two slayers had sparred… or fought… in a flash she saw Buffy clad in leather a mocking smirk on her face and empty eyes taunting her. Faith shuddered and came back to the present. There was no threat in this Buffy’s face, she looked completely calm, standing with her eyes closed.
The first punch was thrown, and then they were dancing around each other, the fight looked like it had been expertly choreographed. As Faith kicked at Buffy’s head with a roundhouse, she ducked and swept her leg to knock down her partner, who jumped and flipped out of Buffy’s path. Their years of fighting allowed them to anticipate each others next move, slayer-quick reflexes forcing their bodies into well trained postures. Occasionally one would slip through the other’s defences, landing powerful blows that would send the other flying back. They got lost in the fight. In the strikes and parries, the ache of their sore muscles and forming bruises adding to the satisfaction of calming the instinct that told them to slay.
Bloodied and sweating they finally finished their fight. Buffy’s bruises were already healing, the split on her lip visibly closing and knitting together. Faith on the other hand without the extra fast healing that Buffy had recently acquired, was still feeling the soreness of some of Buffy’s throws and had a streak of blood down her face from a cut on her forehead. She stood breathing heavily in the centre of the room, fully exhausted by the sparring session as Buffy started stretching out her tired muscles.
“Wow Buff, you’ve really got that super-slayerness working for you. I don’t think I even tired you out.”
Buffy moved through the apartment to grab a bottle of water. “Yeah” she thought back to everything that had come with her newly acquired powers. The painful memories of her past, the long extended future that she could no longer escape… it was hard for Buffy to see a good side.
Disappointed by Buffy’s sullen response, Faith turned away; starting to warm down herself. It wasn’t as if she could expect their past to be forgotten, but after the night of comfortable silence on the roof, she had hoped they could try to work through things. “You’ve definitely proved you don’t need help slaying. Angel’s been here four years and you emptied the city in a week.”
Buffy caught the hint in that sentence and looked sharply at the girl. Faith sounded like she was reluctantly accepting the fact that Buffy didn’t need her help.
What if she isn’t coming?
She realised that no-one had asked. She had just assumed Faith would be coming with them to the Hellmouth. For some reason the thought of Faith not being there seemed terrible. She realised how fragile their relationship still was; a house of cards ready to topple in the slightest breeze.
“I still need all the help I can get.”
Faith frowned at the inflections in Buffy’s voice. This wasn’t about slaying… She forced herself to keep the hope in her face hidden from Buffy. She had harmed the Scoobies too much to expect her recent help to absolve her of all sins.
“Are you coming?”
Neither of them needed to clarify what Buffy meant. The hopeful tone was all the convincing Faith needed. She nodded, a subtle gesture which meant just as much to one slayer as it did the other, before making her way to the exit.
“You wanna join my slayers road trip?”
Faith turned, finally making eye contact with Buffy in her shock. The chosen one had made it clear that she wanted to take a lone slaying trip across the country, while the others flew to sort out their lives, alone. It was the only thing Buffy had even discussed with her friends the previous week; she would travel across the country cleaning out the cities of all ‘sub terrestrials’ along the way. She looked searchingly into Buffy’s green eyes.
“Sure” She tried to sound nonchalant, but the hope came out in her tone... the longing in hereyes for a place to belong“If you want me there.”
Buffy had insisted on her solo trip to give her more time to deal with her feelings towards her friends. She realised that she also needed the time to learn to use her enhanced powers alone before she had others tagging along as well. When she had told them about the trip she had just wanted to get away from them, to continue to loose herself in the fight after the dwindling demon population of LA was destroyed. Her weeks slaying had been in a fighting frenzy where she had completely given into her more demonic side, allowing it to wipe her consciousness of everything but the kill. She had to learn to control the beast inside her. Trying again to convince her friends of the validity of her plan had been difficult last night.
“Are you sure you have to do this.”
“Think about how many lives I’d save doing vamp extermination from coast to coast, you know it’s the best plan”
Her friends were still worried for her sanity. She had only just started talking to them properly at all.
“I get it Buff, but why can’t someone come with?”
“Xand, you have to pick out a house and do it up, you’re gonna have to go up there in the next few days to start house hunting.” Willow smiled sadly at her friend, she knew there was no way to move Buffy on an issue that she was this insistent on. Even ‘resolve face’ didn’t work well against Buffy’s stubbornness. Xander reluctantly saw this point but still mulled over the plan sulkily.
“Why can’t I come?” she barely even saw her sisters face, the glow around her distracting from her sisters visage.
“It’s not safe Dawn. Besides, you need to start summer school if you want to catch up in time.”
“You need someone to watch your back Buff. G-man with all you’re watchery duties, you should go with her”
Buffy looked up in horror at the idea that Giles would come with her. He was even more of a liability than the others, having been out of the game for a while and not exactly getting younger in his retirement. Giles saw the look on his slayers face and cursed himself for the destruction of their close relationship. It seemed his attempt on Spikes unlife had destroyed their tenuous hold on their friendship. It might take years to rebuild, but for the present, he would give her what she seemed to need.
“Don’t call me that” Giles absentmindedly muttered as he sought for an appropriate reason to once again leave his slayer alone “I will have to sort out acquiring a library, but I think that Buffy is well able to do this alone”
Buffy smiled gratefully at the older man. He, as ever, understood far better than her friends when she needed to be forced and when to let things go. Perhaps it was because his training helped him understand the slayer side of her better.
Buffy once again thanked her stars that the others still listened to Giles, allowing her to shorten what could have been an endless discussion. The realisation that Faith hadn’t been sure of her invitation to come with them, or thinking back, that they had even thought about Faith’s involvement was a wake up call to her fellow slayer’s insecurities. Buffy hadn’t been thinking enough about the near future to wonder if her friends had even asked Faith along. She had just assumed her fellow slayer would be there. She needed to reassure Faith that she was needed and was in no way a liability. She flashed a winning smile.
Should I take her with me?
“Wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Chapter 6 - Coffee Memories
There was something wrong with her mocha. Or her…. Depending on how you looked at it. Willow certainly wasn’t having a problem with hers as she rambled on about the specific difficulties she had encountered while accessing the Council’s accounts. Luckily the topic was the only one which Buffy wouldn’t be reprimanded too badly if it was found she wasn’t listening. It wasn’t as if she’d ever paid much attention, or attempted to understand, how Willows hacking worked. In the mean time, she sipped her mocha, identical to hundreds consumed in similar shops over the past few years, and contemplated the problems with her drink.
The smell of roasting coffee beans was all around the stagnant heat of the hut keeping the rich aroma inside. Suddenly her grandfathers slow stirring halted and he made a final assessment of the beans over the fire before deeming them finished and pouring the beautifully baked beans out of the pan. She jumped forward and started bagging the still hot beans, occasionally sneaking one into her mouth when her elder was concentrating on the new batch of coffee, blowing on the smouldering embers of the fire beneath the pan to heat up the coals.
From the tone of her voice, it was obvious that Willow had been trying to get her attention for a while… hopefully she wasn’t in too much trouble.
“Sorry Will. I kinda zoned out into a memory again.”
“What triggered this one? Was it me talking about how to bypass…” Buffy quickly butted in before Willow could once again become engrossed in her binary world.
“It was the coffee.” to prove the point Buffy took a sip of the drink in question. It was even worse with the remembered flavour of freshly roasted beans still on her tongue.
She shuddered at the flavourless taste
“I can’t drink any more of this crap.”
Willow looked at Buffy in confusion. This had been her choice of café; the one she had loved when she was at Hemery. They had travelled half way across L.A. just to taste the ‘Wonderful’ coffee. She looked down apprehensively at the now half-full cup in her hand, that she had been happily drinking from all morning. She raised the mug to her lips and once again tasted the liquid. A contented smile crossed her face and she sighed as she savoured the taste.
Buffy looked in distaste at the steaming mug in front of her. “Sorry Will, I guess in some lives I thought a good cup of coffee was important. This is just so… bland”
“You trance out over a not so great cup of coffee… we really need to stop these things.”
“I know. But they were helpful when we went over the demon books we‘re taking to Cleveland. Like instant watcher knowledge; see a picture, get trancy images of how to kill it.”
“How are your meditation techniques going?”
“Okay I guess. I just can’t seem to stop these memories. I just wish some of them weren‘t so pointless.” Buffy scowled at the rejected mug in front of her.
“What was this one about?”
“A coffee plantation I lived on as a child. We harvested the beans and roasted them. I can still smell them cooking over the open fire.”
“Err… Buffy… That might just be the smell of the café.”
Buffy shook her head, wrinkling her nose in distaste at the comparison. “Believe me when I say it isn’t.” Willow raised her eyebrows but knew better than to comment.
“But you’re sure this wont affect your slaying?”
Buffy scowled. “Can’t really tell without anything to slay… but I don’t think so.”
Willow nodded warily at Buffy’s blunt answer and took in yet another subject that their friendship wasn’t close enough to cover. She quickly changed the subject, and soon they were talking enthusiastically about the house Xander had found in Cleveland. Planning the renovations needed on a building that was to house two slayers. Each trying to enjoy the pretence that they were still best friends, still knew each other’s lives, that they even lived in the same world anymore.
Buffy grumpily looked at the bus maps and timetables they had acquired from the library. Just because she’d been in a couple of accidents, years ago, no-one would even go near a car with her in the driver’s seat. Faith, who had been there to hear the tales first hand at the time, wasn’t going to take the risk. Buffy scowled up at her sister slayer, aimlessly knocking her feet against the counter she was perched on.
“Are you gonna help? It’s you that wanted to go by bus…”
Faith threw down the magazine she had been skimming through and slumped into a chair next to Buffy’s and started blindly leafing through the timetables.
“Yeah but I was thinking more like just go where we wanted… y’no; be impulsive” Faith raised her eyebrows suggestively at Buffy in the easygoing flirty manner that the two of them hadn’t been comfortable enough to use for years. Buffy grinned at the reaction. Enjoying the growing ease in their relationship while Faith was still walking on eggshells around all the others she had hurt.
“Faith we have to have some kind of plan… plus Willow wouldn’t leave me alone until I said I’d make one” Faith laughed and chucked her timetable back onto the mess on the table. Buffy looked in askance at the magazine which had flown through her organised planning. Her eyes suddenly lit up as she focused on the page. Faith wouldn’t be able to resist. An evil smile graced her face.
“Impulsive would be a lot easier if we didn’t have to stick to bus timetables…”
“No way Buff… you’ll never get me in a four wheeled vehicle with you again”
Buffy cocked her eyebrow and grinned at her friend, knowing that she was about to cave. “Who said anything about four wheels?”
Faith followed Buffy’s Gaze to the motorcycle advert in her magazine. Her eyes shone like a small child with a new toy. She looked hopefully at Buffy not believing what she hoped she was implying.
“I drive though. I don’t trust you to stay within the speed limit, and regardless of the fact Will wiped your record, I don’t think we want you near any cops.”
Faith’s face went blank fixed into a neutrally indifferent expression at the reminder of her times behind bars. Buffy looked up warily at her friend, not sure if they were close enough for her to comfort her… If Faith would let her in. Buffy forced Faith to look her in the eye.
“You know that doesn’t matter anymore” Faith nodded but Buffy wasn’t sure that she’d accepted their forgiveness. Or had even believed them when they’d given it. She grinned “Hey I’ve had help from two bloodsucking murderers in my time as a slayer”
Not exactly satisfied but at least reassured by Buffy’s comments, Faith sighed, then looked up hopefully at the other slayer.
“You still don’t get to drive”
Faith pouted, but eagerly followed Buffy when she left to shop for their wheels.
Chapter 7 - That's A Lot Of Shake
A grouchy waitress approached the table, wearily getting out her pad “Y’all ready to order?”
The blonde turned to the other girl at the table.
“Are you sure you need sprinkles as well?”
“Buffy, please, I‘m leaving today…” Dawn wined, turning on the pout and big eyes… it was only a matter of time before the guilt trip started…
“Fine. She’ll have a large chocolate milkshake with caramel sauce, Oreos and chocolate sprinkles, and I’d like a glass of iced water, please.” she flashed a bright smile at the waitress who couldn’t help returning it before she left to fill their order.
“You sure we’ve got everything you need?” Buffy looked at the piles of bags that surrounded their table.
Dawn looked thoughtfully around her totalling up her purchases then looked dubiously at her sister. Buffy replied before Dawn could beg for more clothes, shoes and hundreds of other miscellaneous things that she just had to have right now.
“No Dawn, you’ve got enough.” Buffy kicked one of the bags away to give herself some leg room “Even with slayer strength, I can’t carry much more”
“I do have a whole wardrobe to replace you know.” A pained look crossed her sisters face “All those beautiful clothes… shoes… destroyed.”
“They do have shops in Ohio you know.”
“Dawn” the warning in Buffy’s tone quieted her sister. The waitress returned with their order placing a huge glass in front of Dawn.
“Mmmm… Chocolate. Milkshake good” Dawn looked up grinning at her sister over her monstrous drink.
Buffy scowled at her sister who was happily slurping her drink.
“I don’t get how you can eat that stuff.”
“Says a slayer.” Dawn replied sarcastically “I swear Faith eats more than a dozen sumo’s. and the fridge always mysteriously empties after your midnight ‘snacks’.”
“Slayer metabolism definitely has a lot to answer for. But I have no idea how you stay slim with the amount you eat. At least I have an excuse.”
“I’m still growing. I need my vitamins”
Buffy raised her eyebrow at the tall glass of chocolate flavoured processed milk in front of her sister.
“Vitamins is one thing, of which there are none in that glass by the way, and eating enough snacks to stuff Xander is another.”
“Come on Buffy, exaggeration is one thing… but more than Xander. We both know that’s impossible.”
“You’ve never seen Faith full flow have you? We had to order double at research parties after she first…” the joking sentence trailed off as she continued that train of thought to the memory of how Faith’s first visit to Sunnydale had ended. As close as she and Faith had gotten since her arrival in Sunnydale, there was still their past, niggling at the back of every thought. Buffy looked up at her sister’s worried gaze then back down at her now half empty drink. “That thing’s still the nuclear bomb of diet destroyers.” Dawn looked at her drink and made a face.
“It is makin me kinda queasy.”
“The sprinkles.” It was half way between a statement and a question.
“Yeah.” Dawn glared at the sprinkles on the top of her milkshake, Buffy nodded sagely. “How did you know they’d be too much?”
“The wisdom that comes with being the older sister. Haven’t you learnt yet? Big sisters are always right.”
Dawn smirked “But you’re such an iddy bitty thing.”
Silence reigned as Buffy seethed from that comment and Dawn smugly finished off her milkshake. She glanced at her watch then looked at her sister in shock. “We’re late” Dawn spluttered on the remnants of her drink and her eyes widened at the thought of Willow’s reaction to their absence.
They arrived back at the hotel twenty minutes later than planned to find the whole place in uproar, Willow rushing frantically around. There was a pile of luggage strewn over the floor. Giles was making his way downstairs with a large box grasped to his chest.
Willow approached with a determined look on her face, but luckily for the Summers girls the shock of Dawn’s loud greeting had made Giles stumble and loose his grip on the box of ancient books, which were now strewn over the floor. Dawn gulped as she now had two of the Scoobies annoyed at her.
“Do you have any idea how old these are? You could try warning me before you shout out.” Dawn snuck up the stairs hoping to avoid the repercussions as Giles started collecting up the tombs, muttering under his breath “16th century translation of the original Sumerian... ruined” He collected up the scattered pages of a volume whose spine had broken in the fall. Angrily attempting to sort the pages into some kind of order inside their jacket. Buffy absentmindedly scanned the titles as she helped Giles pack them back into their box.
“Where did you get these anyway? I thought we’d already sent the books ahead.”
“Angel showed me this quaint little book shop with a back room just off… you didn’t really want to know did you?”
Buffy smiled amiably “Just thinking out loud. Bizarre to have a back room filled with demon texts not porn though. ” She picked up another volume “Oohh I remember researching this one” she started flipping through the pages, skimming over the content “hmph” she frowned “You know this translation isn’t that…” she felt eyes on her back, and turned to see Giles staring at her in disbelief.
“You helped to research one of the Egyptians premiere texts on Vampires?” He took off his glasses and started searching for a handkerchief. “It is quite outdated now; I just got it for the historical value really but…”
He paused as both he and Buffy realised there was a third party in their conversation staring angrily at the pair of them. They simultaneously turned to see Willow’s angry glare. She was standing, arms crossed, tapping her foot impatiently. “Are you two quite done? Cause I’d quite like to catch our plane”
They muttered their apologies and hurriedly gathered together the rest of the books. As they were just finished packing up the box, Dawn came downstairs with a large suitcase. She opened it on the floor and started stuffing in her purchases. Buffy looked on in amusement as the bag was filled haphazardly and Dawn attempted to close the straps of the over packed bag.
“It does help if you fold your clothes”
A horn sounded outside “The cabs are here” Willow shouted over her shoulder as she started to carry their luggage down the steps. “We need to get going.”
Dawn was sitting on the suitcase trying to squash the clothes to close the zip. “You know for a champion of the people with superpowers, you’re not very helpful.” She scowled up at her sister who was for once enjoying being taller than her sibling. Buffy sighed and kneeled down to force the case shut as her sister zipped it up. She took the bag out to the cab, then joined in as everyone was hurried around by Willow who was organising getting everything getting into the cabs. The redhead glanced at the clock on the wall. Dawn gave her sister a quick hug before being hurried with Giles into a cab, saying quick goodbyes to the slayer. Willow grabbed her purse and jumped into the other cab, shouting out the lowered window as the cab pulled away from the pavement “We’ll see you in a few weeks.”
Buffy stood alone in the lobby as the cabs drove away and the air settled from the rush. Finally relaxing as she was able to let go of the persona she affected for her friends.
“You can come out now”
Faith came out of the shadows of the stairwell “You know me. Never one for the sappy goodbyes.” Faith came down to stand next to Buffy and slung a small holdall over her shoulder. She cocked her eyebrow at the slayer. “Ready to ride?
Chapter 8 - The Eternal Dance
The beat of the song thrummed through her body, her graceful movements perfectly matching the rhythm of the music. Flowing gestures that unconsciously demonstrated her supple strength and balance to the club. She let herself get lost in the music. Tuning out her surroundings until there was only the music and movements.
Faith turned from the bar, picking up two cokes and stopped short as she saw the other Slayer on the dance floor. Though there were other talented dancers in the club, there was something compelling in her movements that had drawn the gaze of a large majority of the patrons. Despite the pace and upbeat tone of the song, and the lack of any indication of sorrow on the blonde's face, a deep seeded sorrow emanated from the slayer in a way that struck the audience on a primal level.
As Buffy turned her consciousness in on itself, her movements had become linked to the start of her memories. As her thoughts were drawn back to the past, her gestures became subtly more pronounced and meaningful, her dance taking the form of a story, being told in a way that hadn't been used since civilization overran the globe. Before spoken language had even been contemplated, the creatures that would become humans communicated through movement, posture, using the whole body to silently communicate. They were later used by druids and shamans to cement their positions of power, are still used in our general body language when we wish to convey a point, stuck in the depths of our memory and only recognised on a subliminal level.
The observers couldn't tell the story of the dance through her movements, or
even tell that there was something to see, but deep in their subconscious. In
a part of their memories that was inherited from deep in the past, they understood
the movements that had been used and developed upon since a time before speech.
They saw the steps retelling the Calling of Slayers as the champion of all people
and without understanding why the dancing of the beautiful girl should do such
a thing, were almost bought to tears by the selflessness of earth's Champions.
Faith was pulled out of her entranced state, completely still as she gazed upon her fellow slayer by the movement of another into her line of sight. She felt her hackles rise as the tall tan youth moved closer to Buffy, making an attempt to mirror her movements as he danced closer to her. His had none of the grace and flair of Buffy’s and his dance seemed like a merge copy; the wisp of a shadow at high noon that isn’t even comparable to the thing that it imitates.
Faith felt a surge of anger flood over her at the audacity of this boy; that he thought he could not only dance with Buffy, but match her graceful dance. With dagger eyes staring fixedly at the kid, she felt a rumble rise in her throat and fought against the urge to release her tension by burying one of her itching fists in the boy’s chest.
Buffy was shocked out of her thoughts of the past by her senses informing her
of the person moving closer towards her. With a barely noticeable change in
her movements, she had slipped out of the hypnotic dance, the moves of which
have been used throughout time to call upon the spirits and gods. They are so
deeply ingrained into the human subconscious as a thing of power and otherworldliness
that the modern youth had no inkling of how to properly respond to their use.
She pulled away form the youth and the anger that flashed over her face managed to convey her disapproval of his interruption. The slayers power had ebbed and flowed since Sunnydale’s last battle, her huge increase in strength meaning it was no longer under the tight control she had kept up constantly before that fateful day. In her anger at being disturbed, the slayers power rose up; escaping her self imposed restraints and sending a wave of mystical strength out like a beacon all around her.
The two slayers locked eyes through the crowd, then both turned and legged towards the door before the outburst of mystical energy drew less human friendly creatures to the party. Sure enough, when they hit the street outside they found a group of vampires that must have been lurking nearby heading straight for them down the side-street that lead to the club.
Unfortunately for the night-time creatures, the Chosen One was still angered by the interruption of her dance, and flew at them with an abandon that surprised even her dark partner. The power radiating off her seemed to almost crackle, electrifying the air around her as she danced through the vampires that seemed to be constantly joining the fight, more often than not choosing to merely block and tackle than go in for the fight as she enjoyed the motions of the battle, giving into the feral side of her that so lusted after the fight.
It was only when she noticed that Faith was becoming slightly overwhelmed by the number of vampires that had been drawn to the pair that dust started to appear in all directions around her as she destroyed her adversaries. Leaving a few for Faith to vent her own frustration on, Buffy leant back against a wall, looking idly around as she calmly waited for her travel partner to release her tension. When another three vampires had become dust on the wind, the brunette sauntered up to the blonde with a slightly angered expression on her face.
“What was that?”
Finally coming down off the high that her dance and then the fight that had followed it had given her; Buffy started to look shaken by the events of the evening.
“I just… I was angry at the kid…”
“Yeah I know, then you let go of a shit load of energy. What are we gonna do if that happens every time someone comes too close B? We can’t always be ready to fight every vamp in the surrounding ten blocks! ” Faith’s anger was still high from the fear that the vampires had made her feel in the moment that she was surrounded. Her relief at Buffy’s help unable to outweigh the annoyance she felt in the blonde’s enjoyment of the battle while she had almost become a victim to her natural prey.
Buffy’s face darkened “Why do you think I wanted to travel slowly? I need to sort this before I can safely be around the others.” She was pacing up and down, her angry words being marked by rises in her power as her emotions flared. Realising that she was doing the very thing that she was meaning to put an end to, she calmed herself; centring her power using one of the various forms of meditation she had learnt throughout her lives.
“What does it matter anyway? You’ll wipe out everything on the Hellmouth in a couple of weeks.” Faith grumbled, annoyed that once again she hadn’t been a necessary element of the fight; Buffy having the ability to easily defeat all the vampires in the cities they had visited solo and merely leaving her with the remnants to play with. She was beginning to wonder why she’d even come on this trip. She thought back to the first demonstration she’d had of the power that Buffy really possessed, and the blonde’s struggle to control it.
It wasn’t even on the map, a ramshackle road of dust in the desert that Faith would have ignored if Buffy hadn’t turned down it. She shouted at the slayer through the dust that was flying at them off the undisturbed track.
“Where are we going?”
“Trust me.” Was all Buffy would reply as the road behind them was lost from view in the dust.
Faith didn’t feel them until they had pulled up outside the ramshackle house that somehow still stood in its desolate surroundings. The windows all boarded up with slats almost as weather beaten as the house itself. It wasn’t until you looked closely that you would notice that the boards on the house left no room for light to get through, that though the door looked like it could fall apart in any moment, the hinges were well worn and oiled.
Buffy switched off the ignition and climbed off the bike. She smiled as her senses told her how many vampires there were, sleeping away the dwindling daylight in the house. She started towards the door when she was halted by a hand on her arm.
“Shouldn’t we scout it out first, looks like a big nest” Faith pointed behind the buildings to a row of dusty automobiles with their windows blacked out.
Buffy smiled, remembering constant trouble trying to get Faith to do anything other than jump into trouble, now she was the one holding Buffy back “I promise we can handle them, now come on! I’m dying for a good fight” she tried to move away but Faith still hung on to her arm.
“Buffy, we don’t know how many are in there”
The slayer’s anger started to rise as her proximity to the vampires got to her. She couldn’t control the urge to just go and slay when she could feel them so close by. She tried to breathe deeply, using her meditative techniques to centre herself and calm the urge to slay.
“There’s about 20, most of them asleep. Honest, we can take them. Half of them will probably die without a fight.” The last part was said almost grumpily as if Buffy wasn’t sure that the pro’s outweighed the cons of not waking the sleeping vamps. “Besides, if you don't come in after me, I might die!” she pulled away from Faith and walked through the door.
“She just had to remember that” Faith grumbled, before following the blonde through the darkened entrance.
She opened the first few doors, but only found a few vampires, sleeping as Buffy had said, that she quickly and quietly disposed of. The next door turned out to be for the main living area, where more than a dozen vampires were lying satisfied on the floor alongside a few drained bodies. The door unfortunately squeaked loud enough to wake a drowsy vamp. Buffy, in the centre of the room, froze as his eyes fluttered open. He was staked before he had a chance to scream but his sudden disappearance caused a chain reaction in the movement of the bodies on the floor that resulted in the a rickety table tottering on two legs, hanging for a moment on the edge of falling and righting, before crashing to the ground, carrying a multitude of empty bottles and cans with it.
There was a moment’s silence, then all hell broke loose. The amazing thing wasn’t that all the vampires woke up, it was that they all went straight for Buffy. In no time she was in the middle of a mob fighting for all her worth, Faith would occasionally hear the sound of one of her adversaries turning to dust as the blonde danced around her foes. Faith threw herself into the fight, taking on a pair who had been attempting to blindside Buffy from behind.
When the dust settled, Faith turned to Buffy, panting in exertion from the fight they’d just had, to see a strange light in her eyes. It was something she remembered well from before she had learnt a degree of control over her powers. The part of you that relished the sound of ribs cracking as a stake broke through to the heart. That enjoyed the pain you caused in a fight. The demon inside every slayer. She grabbed onto Buffy forcing her to face her.
“B, get a grip on yourself”
Buffy looked blindly at her friend in front of her, then at the hands on her arms and growled, wrenching herself out of Faith’s grip. She reached for a stake.
“Buffy, it’s done. We got them all”
Faith tried again to restrain the slayer, who snarled at the unexpected contact and shook her off, throwing her to the floor. Buffy stood over her friend with her stake raised, then in a quick movement, rammed the wood into the body of the nest’s meal on the floor, before walking out of the house without a backwards glance. Faith looked on in horror as the body didn’t dissolve but crumpled, deflated, then eventually dusted. She left the building, sickened by the sight.
Buffy paced like a tiger in a cage, trying to release some of the adrenaline left over from the fight. Faith warily approached her.
“What’s up, B?”
“I can’t control it, there’s too much. I have to stop it, I can’t let it out.”
Buffy was practically growling. Faith reached for Buffy, trying to stop her frustrated pacing, she flinched away from her touch, but managed to stop the hand that instinctively moved to hit her assailant. Faith looked at her hand like it had been burnt and moved away from the blonde, sitting dejectedly on the porch steps. When she had calmed down, Buffy sat by Faith, trying to respect her friends obvious discomfort by keeping her distance.
“I’m sorry Fai, I didn’t…”
“I know.” Faith sighed “I just thought we were past you thinking of me as a threat”
Faith stood up and moved to fiddle with the luggage on the bike, obviously not in the mood to continue the conversation. Finally managing to calm herself; Buffy eventually stood and silently mounted the bike. Not knowing how to repair the rift in their relationship that one action had caused.
Since then they had travelled halfway across the country; and they had slowly regained their trust in each other as well as Buffy gaining some control over the power inside her. Faith tuned back into Buffy’s words as her sister slayer attempted to calm her anger.
“and since it’s the Hellmouth, hopefully demons and vamps’ll keep coming back to try for an apocalypse or two.” Buffy linked her arm through her sister slayers; encouraged by the anger fading from the brunette’s face, and started pulling them along the street “Come on, I promise I’ll let you dust the next nest we find. Slayer’s Honour” she held up her free hand in a three fingered imitation of a scout’s salute and looked winningly at her fellow slayer.
Buoyed by Buffy’s suddenly cheerful mood and unable, as usual, to refuse the blonde, Faith grinned back and looked thoughtfully down at her as they paused at the intersection of two main roads, waiting for Buffy to find her prey with her extended senses. Buffy may not need Faith’s help in the fights, but at least she seemed to enjoy her company and sought her out even as she avoided the people that were meant to be her friends, trusting her enough to occasionally let her see underneath the façade that she had created to hide the fragile person inside.
Chapter 8 - The Blade's Edge
Walking through the dimly lit streets, both slayers were on high alert for anything supernatural. The sound that did reach Buffy’s ears was one that was definitely unexpected, the clash of swords isn’t something you expect to hear coming out of a grimy alleyway. The sound of steel clashing on steel bought back a flood of memories.
An ancient battlefield, the heat rising from the dusty ground as swords crashed on shields all around her, the sand dyed red with the blood that had flowed over it in the past decade, never able to forget the battle that raged on it or given enough respite for the fresh rain to wash it clean. The very land seemed to bleed in sympathy as its people were slaughtered upon it.
Buffy tried to force the thoughts down; push them back in to the past where they belonged…
She was standing in the centre of a ring of warrior vampires; her muscles ached from the battle that was still raging around her. A pair of blades were spinning in her hands; clashing against the identical ones in the hands of her foes as she caught them before they could cut into her flesh. She beheaded another vampire with a swipe of her sword, but neglected to stop the blade that cut deep into her side. The next swipe cut through the tired muscle in her thigh and she sank to the ground even as her life was sucked out of her through a multitude of bites.
As Buffy stood shock still in a condition that Faith had learnt to recognise as her reaction to the sudden rushes of memory that were a symptom of her new state, the gap in the buildings in front of them erupted in a flash of bright lights.
A pair of warriors faced each other, hidden in the shadows of the alley they didn’t notice their silent observer as the blades crashed together; dancing around one another with the skill of masters. The stronger of the two opponents beat back his rival with a broadsword that easily forced back the light rapier that the slim man wielded. Raising his sturdy blade in triumph; he failed to block the light blade’s quick sweep upwards.
The thunder seeming to strike up out of the alleyway into the sky, licking across the building until it could find a place in which to ground itself.
Buffy grabbed onto Faith as she recovered from the influx of sensation that made the memories of death so overwhelming, not realising that she was preventing her sister slayer from investigating the thing that had initiated her recollections. When she had recovered enough to investigate the alley, they found that she had delayed them long enough that all they saw of whatever had been there was a retreating back as a dark shape disappeared out of the other side of the alleyway.
They sprinted through the alleyway, but were yet again unable to catch the cause of the disturbance, this time due to Faith tripping over something in her path. Buffy turned to see what had caused her partner to slow and was stopped by the sight of the thing that had felled her. The body that lay with its legs across the alley had been hidden from view the way she had come due to a stack of crates; but now it could be seen in all its horrific glory.
The man, it seemed from the wounds on him, had not only have been in a fatal fight tonight, but had been in many others over the past weeks resulting in a intricate pattern of half healed and new wounds covering the parts of his skin that could be seen through his shredded and bloodied clothes. She looked up the body to the thing that had caused Faith to stumble to the other side of the alley and throw up what little of her lunch remained in her stomach. The mans head had rolled away when the body collapsed, and was lying on its side with as yet un-clotted blood dripping out of an eye slit in two.
Buffy noticed a strange wrinkling around the edge of the face wound, and was about to investigate the cut closer when she heard sirens coming closer to them from down the road that the figure had disappeared down. She grabbed Faith and sprinted away from the sound of police cars. They had already raised enough notice in the demonic world as they travelled across the country and didn’t need the attention of humans as well.
When they came to a halt Faith collapsed against a lamppost and spat to try and rid her mouth of the foul taste that still remained. She looked up at Buffy, embarrassed by her reaction to the maimed body, but unwilling to show more weakness in front of her one-time enemy. Noting her friend’s embarrassment, Buffy didn’t mention the alleyway. Besides they were still in an unsavoury neighbourhood, and the slayers prey was closing in on the young women that they thought would be easy kills.
Buffy smiled as she noted Faith’s suddenly heightened alertness as the younger slayer felt the wrench in her gut that signified the coming of their quarry. The brunette glanced up at her partner in an unnecessary gesture to reassure herself that the other slayer had noted the presence of their foes, and to shoot a cocky look that was a reminder of the blonde’s promise earlier that night.
As the vampires closed in, Buffy tightened the leash around her powers, not
allowing the proximity of the things she was made to kill to turn her once more
into an uncontrollable entity. As she watched Faith slay, her senses heightened
so that she could almost see the fight in slow motion; her super enhanced slayer
powers allowing her to react to the vampires that ventured her way, her prey
only realising their danger as they were thrown forcefully back towards the
She was keeping such a tight reign on the sense that would drive her to battle the toys she had promised Faith that she failed to pick up the additional heartbeat in the alley. By the time there were only three vampires left the observer had made his decision and, sheathing his sword moved away from the pair of girls to plan a mode of attack.
A/N:- So what do you think? All going according to plan I'm currently half way through this. with 16 chapters, a prologue and epilogue planned. I've finished two of the chapters, got 2/3 part done and written the ending... so hopefully this should all get up here fast. Let me know whether you think it's worth it