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Distant Destiny

Author: Doc
Disclaimer: characters from Buffy Belong to Joss, while Star Wars characters belong to Lucas.
Rating: PG
Summery: This is Star Wars/Buffy. In this, Buffy has a connection to the Star Wars Galaxy, but what?

Chapter 1

Thirty years ago, Coruscant.

         “Focus, Janelle.” Mace Windu said to his apprentice. She was attempting to levitate a small globe through a maze blind folded. “You can do this.” Janelle Orland moved the ball around the corner, feeling her way using the Force. She could almost ‘see’ the end of the maze. Just a little more…

The hiss of the door disrupted her concentration and the ball fell to the floor. She looked to see how far she was. An inch, if that. She looked to the door. Standing there was Obi-Wan Kinobi and a sandy haired teen. “I hope we’re not intruding.” Obi-Wan said.

“Not at all, Master Kinobi.” Master Windu said. “Janelle was just practicing with concentration. The one thing she hasn’t mastered yet.” Janelle looked at her master. “Close, but not yet.”

“I’d be happy to help.” The teen said. Janelle smiled at her friend.

“Thanks for the offer, Anakin, but I have to find my way alone.” Janelle told him.

“Fair enough.” He said. “How about some saber training? So the masters can talk.” Janelle thought for a moment. There was definitely some tension in the air she could feel it.

“Okay.” Janelle said, following him out.

Ten years later.

Janelle deflected the blaster bolt with her lightsaber. She couldn’t believe this; these…storm troopers had invaded the Jedi temple at the orders of the new Emperor. Nearly all the Jedi were dead, and the shock was that the one that killed most of them used to be her friend. That was the thought as he stepped out in front of her. “Anakin.”

“I don’t answer to that name anymore. You Jedi need to learn that.” He said. She looked him in the eyes, and saw none of the kind-hearted boy she had met when he first came to Coruscant. “My name is Darth Vader.”

“I refuse to believe that.” She said. “Anakin, please, we were friends once. Don’t do this.” He grinned, coldly.

“Then take my masters offer.” He said. “All you have to do is accept his offer to join him, and I will spare your life. Janelle,” The way he said her name, she could almost believe he had never gone over to the Dark Side. “I would take no pleasure in killing you. Join us.” Her grip tightened on her saber.

“No.” She said. She tried to look as determined as possible, but she didn’t know how long she could hold it for. “Your not Anakin anymore, you’ve said it often enough. I won’t betray my training.” She brought her saber up. “If you want me dead, Vader, then do it now, because you won’t get another chance.” Darth Vader brought his own red blade in front of him

“That’s your decision, ‘my friend’.” He sneered. “And the wrong one. Time to die, Jedi.”

“No. Die, this one will not.” Vader was thrown backwards with great force. Janelle turned to see Master Yoda hobbling towards her. “Come, Janelle, come. Running out time is. To safety you must go, before Palpatine arrives. Come, quickly.”

“Janelle.” Mace ran over to his apprentice. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine.” She said. “Just a bit shaken. I had a run in with Ana…Vader.” She had to stop thinking of him as her friend. Anakin Skywalker was dead. She had to remember that.

“I’m sorry you had to experience this.” Mace said. “But it’s not over yet. We have to get you out of here.”

“Why me?” Janelle asked. “What do they want with me?”

“Not you.” Yoda said. “Your daughters, they want. Not born, not even considered, yet in Palpatine's downfall they shall a hand have. Powerful they shall be. Palpatine wishes them to be of his blood, easier to control they shall be.” Janelle shook her head in horror.

“That’s why we have to get you out of here.” Master Windu said. He led her to a small freighter. “We’ve modified this freighter to be faster than it should be. We also managed to stow your fighter inside, and R4’s already aboard. The nav-computer’s already set on a course. Switch on the hyper drive as soon as you leave the atmosphere, it’ll take you out of his reach.” He placed a hand gently on her shoulder. “Whatever you do, whatever happens, don’t change course. Trust me.”

“Yes master.” Janelle said. “Thank you for everything.”

“Just be careful, and remember your training. Trust your instincts, you’ll be fine.” Janelle nodded and headed up the ramp. “May the Force be with you.” She turned to face the man that had been like her father since arriving at the temple.

“And you, Master Windu.” She said, then turned and entered the ship. Mace watched as the ramp closed, then turned to Yoda.

“Will she make it?” He asked as they headed towards Yoda’s own ship.

“Hmm, clouded her future is.” The diminutive Jedi said. “Uncertain whether she will make it I am. But if all goes to plan, safe she will be. And the universe with her.”

Janelle worked the controls expertly as she headed towards the Imperial blockade. R4-C9, her astromech droid, beeped a warning at her. “Yes, I see them, R4, but what would you like me to do, blast them? This ship isn’t exactly made for combat.” She steered between two fighters trying to cut her off. “All we can do is get out of Coruscant’s atmosphere, make the jump to hyper space and hope everything goes as Master Windu planned.” She punched the buttons activating the nav-computer. The computer started running through the course plotted by Mace Windu. “I hope this thing hurries up. We don’t have much time before those Destroyers are in range.” That’s when the nav-computer chose to beep, alerting her the coordinates for the jump were set. “I should never have doubted.” She said, reaching to for the lever. “Hold on, R4. We’re leaving.” She pulled the lever and felt the ship lurch as it made the jump to hyperspace. Space folded and the ship disappeared.

Chapter 2

Darth Vader walked into the hanger, surveying the destruction around him. Good, it doesn’t matter how many Jedi survived, he would hunt them down. And this place, would be burnt to the ground, a reminder that the old ways were dead. He walked towards the door, and was met by Mace Windu, his lightsabre ignited. “Well, well. Master Windu.” Vader said. “It’s been some time.”

“Too long, it seems.” Mace said. “You’ve been away too long Anakin.” Vader grinned, igniting his own saber.

“I would disagree.” He said. “My power is far greater than it could ever have been staying here. You Jedi are weak, you deny what gives you true power. Perhaps if you gave to your anger you might have a chance, but as is…”

“I am far more powerful than you could ever imagine.” Mace said. “and you can tell your master he won’t get Janelle. She’s beyond his reach.” Vader laughed.

“We’ll see.” He said, rushing forward, his saber cutting forward. Mace blocked it and dodged to one side. Vader came forward again, and there was a blaze of light as the laser swords come together again and again. They pulled apart and circled each other carefully.

“Lord Vader.” Vader’s radio crackled to life. “A freighter just made the jump to hyper space, destination unknown. As far as we can tell it’s heading for the middle of nowhere.” Vader grinned.

“So, where is she headed?” He asked. Mace stared at him.

“Where neither you or your master will ever find her.” He said.

“You’re a fool, Windu.” Vader sneered. “Pretty soon there will be no place in the galaxy safe from the Emperor. Where will she hide then?” Mace grinned.

“Exactly. No place in this galaxy.” He said. Vader glared at him, then lashed out with the Force, the Dark Side striking forth as lightening. Mace tried to block it with his saber, but the lightening curled around the saber, hitting him in the chest. He fell back, dropping the sword.

“Where is she going?” Vader demanded. “Answer me!”

“You’ll…never…find…her.” He muttered through gritted teeth. “Until…it…is…too…late.” Then he flopped backwards, dead.

“No where is safe.” Vader said. “As Janelle will soon learn.” He pulled out his communicator. “Send someone, follow that ship, don’t let it out of your sight. I want the pilot and any passengers alive.”

“Yes my Lord.”

Janelle watched as the blue swirls of hyperspace streaked past. Not for the first time, she wondered where Master Windu was sending her. Her thoughts were interrupted by a sudden scream of pain, and then she was plunged into loneliness. “He’s gone.” She whispered. “Master Windu’s dead. I’m…alone.” Whistle’s and beep’s from behind her got her attention. R4-C9, her astromech droid, rolled up behind her. “Yeah, I know your still here, R4, but…” She looked out at the blue of hyperspace. “Not many Jedi survived and wherever we’re heading, I think I’m going to be the only Jedi there.” R4 whistled sadly, trying to comfort his young mistress. “It’s alright, R4. I’ll be fine. Really.” The droid whistled a response. “What do you mean I’m a terrible liar?” The droid beeped again. “Oh really? Well…” R4 suddenly started being in alert. “What is it?” She turned back to her console. “Hyperspace anomaly, some sort of worm hole. Our course passes straight through it.” R4 whistled at her. “Worm holes don’t usually just appear, R4. Master Windu must have known it was here when he set the course. I’ll shut the hyper drive down and…”

“Stay on course, Janelle.” Mace Windu’s voice echoed through her mind. “Everything will be explained once you arrive. Trust me.” Janelle closed her eyes.

“He knew what he was doing.” She whispered. “I just wish I knew what he was doing. Hold on R4. We’re going in.” She braced herself on the console. R4 rolled over to its recharge station and strapped in, whistling in complaint as it did so. “Crazy? Yes it is. But I’ve always trusted Master Windu with my life. I’m not about to stop just because he’s dead. Besides, all his best plans seemed crazy at the time.” R4 whistled in panic as they entered the wormhole and disappeared, much to the disgust of the Imperial scout following them.

“What do you mean it disappeared?” Darth Vader demanded.

“I don’t know, Lord Vader.” The pilot of the pursuit vehicle explained. “We were traveling through hyperspace and the ship just disappeared.”

“Search the area.” Vader commanded. “Find that ship, do whatever it takes, but remember I want the girl alive.” He turned and left the bridge of the Destroyer, heading for his quarters. Once there, he switched on the holo projector, and the image of the Emperor appeared before him. He bowed to one knee. “My Master.”

“How goes our plan?” The Emperor asked.

“The Jedi are either dead or in hiding.” He said. “Those that escaped will be tracked down and destroyed. Soon, no remnant of them shall remain.”

“The Skywalker twins?”

“They were gone when I arrived. I do not know where, but I do know that Obi-Wan Kinobi had a hand in their escape.”

“Master Kinobi has become a thorn in my side that must be removed.” Emperor Palpatine said. “And what of my consort?”

“Janelle escaped, with the help of Yoda and Mace Windu.” Vader explained. “Windu lies dead, Yoda is gone. I had her pursued, but she disappeared in hyperspace, where I do not know.”

“This is most unfortunate.” Palpatine said. “If she gets away, her children will become a threat to us. Find her. Kill her if you must, but find her.”

“As you will it, my Master.” Vader said as the image faded.

Janelle lay in her bunk. It had been a week since they had entered the wormhole, and she was running out of food. She wondered if she was right to stay on the course Master Windu had set. It seemed like they would never get out. She dragged herself out of bed and headed to the bridge. R4 met her on the way.

“Any sign of an exit?” She asked the droid. It whistled a negative. Janelle sighed. “Oh well. Maybe Master Windu hid some more food somewhere else.” She was about to go back to the kitchen when a button lit up on the console. “What’s this?” She said as she pressed the button and a holo of Mace Windu appeared.

“Janelle, if you’re watching this, then you got away safely. It also means that, more than likely, I’m dead. I’m sorry I had to leave you like this, but it was necessary. At least I know you’ll be safe from the Emperor. You’re probably wondering where I’m sending you.” A map showed on one of the screens, showing Coruscant, and the surrounding systems. The map scrolled across to the wormhole they had entered, then kept going, following it to…

“Another galaxy?” Janelle said. R4 whistled. The screen zoomed into a planet.

“This is a planet called Earth, in a far away galaxy. I found it accidentally some time ago and when we found the prophecy concerning you and your daughters, it seemed the perfect place to hide. I doubt Palpatine would think to look outside our own galaxy until it’s too late. When this message activates, you will be about a day away from the planet. I’ve compiled a database of everything I could discover on life there in my visits. There is also a trunk with some clothes. I got them a few weeks after Palpatine took total control, so it should be the current styles. Study what you can and observe before you try to join in society, and be careful. Good luck, my padawan. May the Force be with you.” The holo faded, leaving Janelle feeling more alone than ever. She sat there for a moment.

“We’d better get to work.” She said. “R4, get a printout of that info. I’m gong to go looking for that trunk. I guess I’ll need a change of clothes. I’m just glad we’re only going to be stuck in hyper space another day, I was running out of food.” She headed for the main passage. R4 whistled after her. “I’m fine. Just…Nothing, I’m fine.” She walked out. R4 whistled sadly. She most definitely not okay.

Chapter 3

Janelle walked down the street, her goal simple; find a job. It sounded easy enough, but, as Janelle had found, easier said than done. Even with the identity Master Windu had created for her, she was still having trouble finding something. She was either overqualified or under qualified, too old or too young. It was starting to grate on her, but she kept her composure.

She was about to give up for the day when something caught her eye. There was a sign on the window of a martial arts dojo. Wanted: qualified instructor. Apply within. Perfect, Janelle thought, reaching for her resume. Just what I was looking for. She walked into the dojo and was greeted with a rather frightening sight.

Several men were accosting one man.

“I don’t think you understand your situation.” One of them said. “We told you to back your bags and get out. Instead we find you advertising for more help. Now, what would you do in our position?” The man stood there defiant, dropping into some kind of fighting stance. Janelle moved over to a rack of practice weapons. There was no need to reveal herself just yet, she thought, grabbing a wooden sword. “So, you’re going to be all macho, huh? Maybe you need a more…hands on lesson.” The group moved towards him.

“That’s quite enough of that.” Janelle said. “Leave now. I don’t want to hurt you.” The men turned to her. She lifted the practice sword in front of her.

“I don’t think that’s gonna be to much of a problem, babe.” One of them said with a dirty grin. Janelle stared at him.

“Babe?” Janelle said dangerously. “I was going to give you another chance to leave, but I see that is a waste of both of our time.” Before the gang could do anything, Janelle charged, sword out. She beaned the first guy she got to, knocking him unconscious. She was quickly surrounded, but that didn’t bother her. In truth, she enjoyed the work out. She created a Force dome, sending the gang flying back. Now she could concentrate on the leader.

She turned towards him, practice sword ready. He pulled a gun out of his jacket. “You’re gonna pay for that.” Janelle leapt over to him, kicking his gun from his hand. She stepped back, watching as the man got to his feet.

“Now, I’ll say it again. Leave.” She got the feeling of movement behind her she turned and saw the original victim standing over the still forms of two of the creeps.

“You won’t get away with this.” The guy said, as he left, his gang not far behind him.

“They always say that.” The man said. “I’m Jim by the way.”

“Ja…Joyce.” Janelle said, almost forgetting to use her new name.

“Well, Jajoyce, could I interest you in a job?”

“Hey Joyce, wait up.” Hank Summers ran after her. The girl was the dream of every guy on campus. Sure she could be a bit serious sometimes, but he had no problem with that. He admired her, and her focus. He also loved her with all he was worth. “What’s up?” Joyce continued to walk, ignoring Hank’s attempts at conversation. “All right, silent treatment. What’d I do this time?” Joyce stopped, looking at him through the corner of her eye.

“It’s more what you said.” She answered. Hank gave her a confused look. “‘I give it three weeks before I nail her’. Remember now?” She continued to walk, trying hard not to show her tears. Damn and she though he really liked her. Now she knew why Jedi distanced themselves from these sorts of relationships. “I thought you were my friend, Hank. Now I know all you were after was a bed warmer. Well, I’m not interested. Go try one of the campus sluts.” Steady Janelle, she thought to herself. You don’t have to go that far.

“Joyce wait. What are you talking about?” Hank continued to follow her. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I never said that. Joyce,” He grabbed her arm, forcing her to face him. “I would never do anything to hurt you. I don’t know where you heard that…”

“You mean you didn’t tell that idiot Rory that?” Joyce said angrily. “Yeah, he told me all about. I don’t believe I thought you actually liked me.” She stormed off angrily. Hank stood there stunned. He clenched his fist angrily.

“I don’t know what Rory’s playing at but when I get my hands on him…” He muttered angrily, taking off after Joyce. No way was he going to let her get away.

“Joyce, hold on. Will you listen to me for one second.” Joyce turned around.

“One second.”

“I never said any of that. I don’t know what Rory was talking about you have to believe me. I…” He stopped a moment. “I love you.” Joyce looked at him, shocked.

“You…” Hank nodded.

“Guess I should have said something sooner, huh?” He said. Joyce looked at her feet. “Joyce…would you like to go to a movie with me this weekend?” Joyce thought a moment.

“Well, I have an assignment I have to do, but I suppose I can find some time to fit you in.” She said, smiling shyly. Hank grinned.

“Great. I’ll see you then.” He said, walking off. Joyce watched him for a minute, a smile playing on her face. He loved her. Thank the Force, he felt the same way she did. She turned, heading to her dorm. I’m not letting him go. Not for anything.

Chapter 4

It’s later than I thought, Joyce thought as she headed for her dorm. After the movie, they’d headed back to Hank’s for coffee. He was a perfect gentleman the entire night. The farewell kiss he gave her was on the cheek, but she’d work on that.

She was so wrapped in her thoughts that she didn’t see the blonde walk up behind her until he grabbed her arm. She spun quickly. “Who are you?”

“Take it easy, pet.” He said with a cockney accent. “I was just wonderin’ what pretty little thing like you is doing walkin’ around alone at night?” Joyce shuddered. There was something about him that didn’t feel right. A disturbance in the Force given life, but if that was the case, then what was he?

“I’m just heading home.” She said. “I had a date.” The blonde grinned.

“No surprise there.” He said. “You probably have to beat off suitors with stick.” Joyce grinned. Not to far from the truth.

“So you still haven’t answered my question.” She said. “Who are you?”

“People call me Spike.” He said, holding out his hand. Joyce took it. The first thing she noticed was how cold it was. The second was the fact that his hand tightened on hers, to the point where she couldn’t get away.

“What are you doing?” She said, trying to pull away. Spike grinned and as he did, his face changed. It became ridged, his mouth full of fangs, his eyes gleamed an evil yellow.

“Just getting’ a little snack.” He said. “Who knows, maybe I’ll keep you around afterwards.” He pulled her close, his fang filled mouth leaning towards her neck. That does it, she thought, calling the Force. She focused her powers, pushing Spike away. The creature went flying, landing hard. “Bloody hell.” He swore.

“What are you?” Joyce demanded. Spike grinned back at her.

“I was about to ask you that question.” He sneered. “How the hell’d you do that?”

“You don’t answer me, I’ll show you what else I can do.” She reached into her bag, her fingers closing around her lightsaber.

“Fine then.” Spike said. “I’m a vampire. Your turn.”

“Someone more than willing to wipe you out now that I know you’re not human.” She said, pulling out her lightsaber.

“What are ya…?” Spike stopped as Janelle ignited her lightsaber. “Bloody hell, I knew you were special, but…” He grinned once more, returning to his ‘normal’ face. “Looks like she was right. You are somethin’ else. I’ll be seein’ you around. Take care of that daughter of yours.” With that, he walked off. Joyce put her lightsaber away. So now someone else knew about her unborn daughters, or one of them at least. One of the more vicious inhabitants of this planet, and whoever this mystery ‘she’ was. She headed back to her dorm. She’d have to keep an eye out for Spike. He would not get her daughter.

Spike watched carefully from where he had hidden himself. Dru was right. She was special. And odds on that her Slayer daughter would be just as special. He grinned at the thought of it. He’d finally have a little one of his own, a Child that would do anything for her Sire, and a powerful one, even before he turned her. He couldn’t wait.

“ Elizabeth , concentrate.” Elizabeth Anne Summers, glared at her mother. “And don’t stare at me like that. I’m not letting you out until you make those balls float.”

“But mom!” Young Elizabeth complained. “I wanna go out to play.”

“Just finish this exercise, dear.” Joyce said. “Then you can go out.” Elizabeth nodded and turned back to the balls. She focused like her mother had taught her, using the Force to make the balls float. The sphere’s hovered a few inches above the table. “Excellent.” Elizabeth smile in delight, then made the balls float towards her mother, making them circle around Joyce’s head. “Alright you. That’s enough of that, little miss.” She held out her hand, making the balls landed in her hand. Elizabeth giggled as her mother walked over to her, scruffing her hair. “Go on, go and play.”

“Yay!” Elizabeth ran up the basement steps. Joyce smiled as she watched her daughter bounced up the stairs. She was such a happy little girl, not care in the world. Joyce just wished that she could grow up a normal little girl. But that wasn’t in the cards for her. She sighed, pulling out her communicator.

“R4, has there been any word yet?” She said. The droid whistled a negative. “Thank the Force for that. There’s no way Elizabeth is ready to go. Not yet. She’s only five. I just hope Palpatine’s forgotten about us.” Fat chance of that, she thought.

Buffy ran through the cemetery. Vampires were real? And that old man wanted her to fight them? She had enough problems with her moms training. She didn’t need this as well, especially the way they feel. The pure evil of them, the Dark Side of the Force, it had to be. She wished her mom would let her carry the lightsaber, especially now.

She watched as Merrick staked the vampire they had originally been waiting for. “Where’s the other one?” The old man asked.

“She…” The remaining vampire leapt from nowhere, tackling her to the ground. Buffy managed to untangle herself from the creatures grip as Merrick pulled out another stake and threw it at her. Buffy watched with dismay as it sailed over her head. One chance.

She reached her hand up and focused. She reached out with the Force and pulled the stake into her hand. As soon as she grabbed it, she brought it down, piercing the vamps chest easily. She watched as it burst into dust.

The second Buffy walked in, Joyce knew something was wrong, she could feel it.

“Do you know what time it is?” She asked keeping the vapid disguise she had used for so long. Buffy looked at her, her eyes blank. Her clothes were scuffled, like she’d been in a fight. That or a make out session with Jeffrey.

“Ummm… around ten?” She said.

“Then we’d better get going.” Hank said. Joyce looked up at her daughter.

“We’ll talk later.” She sent. Buffy nodded and headed up to bed. Joyce looked at the stairs one more time, and then walked off to finish getting ready.

Buffy looked at the creature that had been haunting her nightmares for so long. The one who had taken Merrick before he had had a chance to finish her training.

Lothos.

“Ah, my fool is dead.” He said. “He was careless, always. Still, I’ll pull out your tongue for that.” Buffy started stepping back as he came towards her. “Don’t you understand? I’ve killed you a dozen times. Your life is not a blink of my eye, not single breath. I have lived in the shadows, in the pulsing filth behind men’s eyes, a thousand years and more. I have conversed with the worms that fed on my corpse, and I have bathed in the blood of emperors.” Buffy stared at him. Was this guy for real?

“Have you ever thrown up in the front row of a Richard Marx concert?” She asked.

“What?” Buffy was gone before Lothos had even muttered the word. He couldn’t believe the insolence of the girl. He raced after her, throwing her to the floor.

“You waste time.” He said. “That is a sin.” He knelt over her. “You are even weaker than the others.” He said disdainfully.

“I think you’ve forgotten something.” She said, holding up Merrick ’s cross. Lothos laughed, grabbing the crucifix, trapping her hand with his. The cross burst into flames.

“This is your only weapon?” he spat. “You puny faith.”

“No.” Buffy said, whipping up the can of hairspray in her other hand. “My keen fashion sense.” She pushed down on the nozzle, spraying flame into the vampire king’s face. He released her, and she reached into her purse again, pulling out her last weapon.

Her mother’s lightsaber.

“Play times over, ugly.” She said, a new confidence entering her voice as she ignited the laser blade. Lothos looked on in shock.

“What is this?” He demanded.

“Your last death.” She said, holding it forward like her mother had taught her. Lothos charge forward, but found himself flying backwards.

“You are different.” He said.

“If only you knew.” Buffy said, charging forward. She leapt over him and swung the purple blade across his throat. His head flew through the air, dusting as it did. Buffy breathed a sigh of relief, switching the sabre off. Time to see how the others were doing.

Spike watched on in the shadow. Bloody hell, he thought. The chit was far better than he would have given her credit for. If he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes, he wouldn’t have believed. He smiled. “Right as always, Dru.” He whispered. “This one is special.” He closed his eyes, thinking of the bloody carnage they would cause. It would rival anything Angelus had ever done. He chuckled as he made his way out. “I’ll see you later pet.”

Chapter 5

Buffy looked out the car window as they pulled into their new home. “This is the place.” Her mom said as she stopped the car. Creepy factor nine, Buffy thought. Her ‘Slayer sense’ as she called it was going hyper, and she wasn’t feeling things friendly on the Force meter either.

“I don’t know mom.” She said. “I’ve got a creepy feeling about this place.” Joyce looked at her as she got out of the car. Buffy had told her about being the Vampire Slayer after she’d burnt the gym down to finish the last of the vamps inside. She kind of wished Pike had come with, but perhaps it was better if he stayed in L.A. At least there was someone there who knew what was going on to save the place.

“I know, hon,” Her mother said. “I feel it too.” This whole town was absolutely reeking in the Dark Side, and Joyce wondered if moving here was such a good idea. “Well, we’d better start unpacking. You start school in a couple of weeks.”

“As long as there are no creepy old men handing out stakes, I’ll be fine.” Buffy muttered. At least the incident had persuaded mom to let her build her own lightsaber. She reached into her bag, fingering it idly. This place was freaking her out. She felt out like she was being followed.

            Angel watched from his car. Of all the places Buffy’s mother could have taken her, it had to be the Hellmouth. He ducked down when she looked his way. She couldn’t know yet. Not until it was time.

Buffy collapsed frustrated onto the chair in the Library. “Well?” Her new Watcher, Rupert Giles, was about four or five times more annoying than Merrick .

“Seen vampire, slain vampires.” She said. “As per Slayers handbook. Nothing really scary, unless you count their breath, which I now have to go home and wash out of my hair.” A stifled giggle hit her ears. She looked over at Willow and Xander. They had befriended her upon arrival at Sunnydale High School , which she soon after found, was built over a Hellmouth. My life sucks, she thought. But then, so does their’s. Their best friend Jesse was turned on the same night they found out vampires were real. She flashed a winner smile their way. “Anything else before I go home late and come to school tomorrow late? Again?” Xander grinned.

“Yeah, G-Man.” He said. “I don’t think even Flutty’s that forgiving.”

“Well you don’t have to be here.” Giles told him in his stuffy English accent. “In fact, you’re not even supposed to be here.”

“Giles. Get off that trip, will ya?” Buffy said suddenly. “They’re here, they’re helping and you can’t do anything about it, so lay off.” She got to her feet. “I’m going home, see you tomorrow.” She stormed out, followed closely by Willow .

“Good one G-Man.” Xander said, following the two girls. Giles watched them all leave. How Merrick could handle this insubordinate little girl was beyond him. Giles shook his head. I need tea. No, on second thoughts, I need something stronger.

He watched her from the shadows. She moved perfectly, with careful grace. He didn’t see why she might need the help of a pathetic shell of a vampire like himself, but that didn’t matter. It didn’t really even matter if she never met him, or even knew he existed. He just liked watching her. She dusted the last vamp and then just stood there.

“Ya know if you want to watch, the least you could do is buy a ticket.” Buffy said suddenly. Angel blinked. How the hell did she know he was there? “Well, you coming out, or do I have to come after you? I’m warning you though I don’t like chasing vamps. It makes me all sweaty, and when I’m sweaty, I get cranky.” Angel stepped out. Of course she knew he was there, she could sense vampire and demons, it was a Slayer’s gift. He didn’t realise she was so practiced. “Ah, at last.” She looked him up and down. “Well, it was kind of worth the wait. You’re okay looking, except for the whole not alive thing. If you weren’t a vamp, I’d say this was going to be a shame.” She brought her stake up as she dropped into a fighting position. “Well, we gonna dance or not?”

“I’m not here to fight.” Angel said. “I’m here to help.”

“A helpful vamp. That’s new.” Buffy stared at him. If not for the feeling of the Dark Side, she could almost believe him. Even then, there was something else, smothering the darkness. “So, what’s your deal, you get defanged? I know. You don’t want me ‘cross’ with you.”

“Do you always talk this much?” He asked. Buffy thought a moment.

“I don’t know.” She said after a pause. “I thought you’d be able to tell me, since you’ve been watching me since L.A. ”

“You knew?”

“Of course.” Buffy fumed. “It was a bit hard not to. It’s like someone turned on a blacklight globe in my brain. So, you wanna tell me why your following me around, or do I get to stake you now?”

“I saw you in the graveyard.” Angel tried to think of a way to make it sound casual. “That first night when you found out. You looked like you…needed help, so…”

“You started stalking me?” She demanded.

“I was watching you.” He corrected. “I guess I worried. You looked kind of out of your depth. I thought I might be able to back you up.”

“Which brings me back to why a vampire would want to help the Vampire Slayer.” Buffy brought up. “Not exactly what you’d call a normal partnership.”

“I’m not exactly what you’d call a normal vampire.” Angel said with a sad smile. “A couple of centuries ago, I crossed some Romany Gypsies. Bad move on my part, they cursed me with my soul.”

“A vampire with a soul?” Buffy blinked. What did the Slayer manual say about this sort of thing? Nothing she knew of. This was something new, which meant she needed help. She couldn’t exactly talk to Giles about this, so that left… “Mom.” She reached out with the Force, calling to her mother.

“What is it, Buffy?”

“Nothing big. Just a vampire with a soul.”

“Buffy, that’s an impossibility. Are you sure?”

“Well, besides the fact he told me, there’s something else besides the usual feelings of the Dark Side, like there’s something trying to smother it.”

“Hmm, interesting. You may want to talk with Mr. Giles about this.”

“And cop a lecture about not Slaying on sight? Not looking forward to it.”

“I know, hon, but this is his area of expertise. I only met one vampire.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” Buffy thought for a moment. “You want me to trust you I need you to do two things. First, you need to come with me. I need to run this past my Watcher, cause as far as I know, this is something completely new.” Angel nodded. “Secondly, I need you to tell me everything you can about a vampire named Spike.”

“Very good, dear.” Joyce sent. “Your learning.”

“What’s Spike got to do with anything?” Angel asked as they headed to the high school.

“My mom had a run in with him while she was still in college.” Buffy said. “She only survived because he was waiting for me. Before my parents even got married.” Angel looked at her. “So, Deadboy, do you know this creep or not?”

“Firstly, I’m called Angel.” The souled vampire said. “And secondly, yes I know him. Unfortunately. He’s one of the mistakes I made during my time before the curse. He was turned by my own Dark Child, Drusilla.” He shook his head ruefully. “I told her it was a bad idea, but she wouldn’t listen. She was always bringing home strays. Anyway, after he was turned, it was left to me to train him.”

“Why?” Angel looked at her.

“Because Dru is stark raving mad.” He said sadly. “Before I turned her, I tortured her.”

“You are really evil.” Buffy said, stake ready, just in case.

“Was.” Angel reminded her. “I’m not that creature anymore.”

“The jury’s still out on that one.” Buffy reminded him. “So how’d Spike know about me?”

“Dru’s a seer.” Angel said. “It’s the reason I turned her. I’m guessing she still hangs around him.” Buffy shook her head.

“So I have, from what mom described, a Billy Idol wannabe with a crazy fortune teller girlfriend out after me.” Angel grinned at her rather accurate description. “Why me?” She said, looking heavenward. “Wasn’t Lothos enough, now I gotta deal with this? Are you punishing me for something?” Angel’s grin turned into a chuckle. “What are you laughing at?”

“I think I should have introduced myself sooner.” He said. “I haven’t laughed this much since I turned.” Buffy glared at him as they reached the high school.

“Don’t get used to it, Deadboy.” She said. “I’m still very uneasy around you. One wrong move, and you’re living in a vacuum cleaner for the rest of eternity, got it?” Angel’s grin vanished.

“Got it.” He said. He knew she would have some trouble trusting him, he just wished there was some way to prove she could trust him.

“Well, time to see how hysterical Giles is going to get.” Buffy said as they headed to the Library.

As they entered the school, a man walked out of the shadows. He pulled a mobile phone out of his pocket. “Hello? It’s me. I just saw the girl, and you’ll never believe who’s with her. That Angel guy you told me to keep an eye out for.” There was a pause, then “I’ll keep watching her. Just remember our deal. Alright then, talk to you soon.” He hung up and looked up at the school. Soon, he would live forever, and nothing was going to ruin that.

Chapter 6

“Buffy what were you thinking?” Buffy flinched. She knew Giles was going to peeved, she just didn’t realise it would get this bad.

“Maybe I should go.” Angel said, edging towards the door.

“Freeze, Deadboy.” Buffy ordered. She looked over at Giles. “You, chill out. I didn’t bring him here to ask your permission for something. I brought him here to see if you can confirm anything about him having a soul. Can you or not?” Giles looked over at the vampire.

“Well, I, uh, I can call the Council, see what I can find.” He said. “I’ll need a name, of course.”

“Angel.” The souled vampire replied. Giles ripped his glasses off.

“Oh dear Lord.” He stammered. Buffy looked over at him.

“Bad?” She asked. Giles looked over at her.

“Bad?” He said. “You have no idea. This…” He gestured at Angel. “This creature, this thing, is the Scourge of Europe, The Murderer With The Face Of An Angel. This thing caused more chaos and carnage than any other creature in history.” Buffy glared at the vampire.

“Something you forgot to mention?” She accused.

“I told you, I’m not like that anymore.” Angel knew this was going backwards fast. He should never have agreed to this.

“Well, excuse me for not believing you.” Buffy spat. She was glad Willow and Xander weren’t here, there was no way she wanted them to see her like…

Buffy stopped. She could hear it, feel it. She’d been so close to the Dark Side, dragged along by her suspicions and Giles’ anger she hadn’t even noticed. She took a breath, calming herself. She turned to her Watcher. “Find some proof either way.” She said, as calmly as possible. “I don’t care what he was. If he has a soul, that makes him changeable, gives him a chance at repentance. Find out and let me know. You,” She turned to Angel. “I want to know where you’re staying. I want a phone number, and any other ways of contacting you. You go nowhere without me until we sort this out. I want to know where you are every second of the day, ‘cause right now, I don’t trust you as far as Giles can throw you, uphill and against the wind. Got it?” Both men looked at each other and nodded. “Good. Giles, get to it. You, come with me.” With that, Buffy left, Angel in tow. Giles watched them go before heading for his office. There was something about this one. Something different, something that neither Merrick nor the rest of the Council had even suspected. He wanted to find out what that was, but first, his Slayer had made a request.

Joyce held her daughter as Buffy told her what had happened, letting her cry gently into her arm.

“Was I wrong?” The girl asked. “Should I have just staked him on sight? I…I’m just so confused, I don’t…”

“Shhh.” Joyce whispered. “It’s okay, I’m here. It was a natural thing; you’ve always been so sensitive to other people’s feelings. Mr Giles’ anger pushed you, that’s all. You’ll be fine.” In truth, it was a fear she had always had; that Buffy’s sensitivity would cause her to fall into the Dark Side. She wished Buffy’s twin sister had survived; she may have been able to buffer Buffy from the feelings around her. “We’ll get you through this. Don’t worry. Now, you get some sleep. I’m going to call some friends and see what I can find.” She watched Buffy head up the stairs before going over to the phone. After her meeting with Spike, she had started to get involved with the supernatural, finding the more friendly representatives and finding out more about this other world. She dialled the number thoughtfully. She just hoped he could help.

“Hello, Doyle? I need some information about a vampire named Angel.”

Doyle hung up the phone. Angel. By the Powers, the guy couldn’t have been a bit stealthier about watching the Slayer. He sighed as his own charge walked in.

“What’s the stitch, D?” She asked. Doyle rolled his eyes. How the Watchers dealt with these girls was beyond him.

“I’ve told you not to call me that, Faith.” He said. The Slayer-In-Waiting shrugged. “And to answer your question, a friend of mine, who also happens to be the mother of the Slayer, called asking about someone.” Faith looked over at the half Brachan demon.

“The Slayer’s mom?” she asked. “You know the Slayer?” Doyle shook his head, and then looked out the window.

“Pack your things.” He said. “We’re moving to Sunnydale.” Faith grinned.

“Hellmouth, watch out, ‘cause here I come.”

Angel sat quietly. He was itching to get out, but he really didn’t want to get on Buffy’s bad side, especially after last night. He leaned back, thinking about the events at the Library. She’d seemed ready to rip him and Giles both apart yet, at the same time, she seemed scared out of her mind of something, what he didn’t know. He knew he’d have some work cut out for him earning her trust before she let him in, he just hoped it wasn’t something that endangered her life.

A knock at the door shook him from his reverie. He sighed as he moved to answer it.

“Buffy.” He said simply. He honestly hadn’t expected to see her this soon.

“Angel.” She said just as simply. “Good news, I’ve got some confirmation on your story.”

“That was fast.” Angel said. “Watcher’s usually take a little longer than that.” Buffy shrugged.

“Mom’s got a friend who’s half Brachan demon.” She said. “He told her your story. She passed it to me. She trusts him, I trust her. Plus, he’s taken a Potential Slayer under his wing. That’s enough for me. Just don’t expect us to be all chummy, ‘kay, ‘cause you still feel creepy.” Angel nodded. He hadn’t expected it, though to be truthful, he hadn’t expected her to sense him in the first place, especially to the level she seemed to. “Let’s move. Giles’ expecting me to report in and I’d rather get the whole ‘why are we trusting him’ lecture out of the way.” Angel watched her for a moment before grabbing his coat. Something was bugging her. He just hoped she was all right.

Something was coming. Buffy could feel it. Whether good or bad, she didn’t know, just that it, whatever ‘it’ was, was coming. It wasn’t a Slayer thing, either. She could feel it through the Force, so whatever it was it was connected to mom’s old life. As long as it didn’t endanger her, her mother or her friends, she didn’t care. But whatever it was, it important. And it was coming.

Faith looked out the window of Doyle’s car. “Come on, aren’t we there yet?” Doyle looked over at his young friend.

“What’s got your nickers in a twist?” He asked. “I’ve never seen you this antsy before.” Faith looked at him and shrugged.

“Beats me.” She said. “I just got this…feeling that there’s something ahead. Don’t ask what, ‘cause I don’t know. Just that its there.”

“Maybe I should’ve left you behind.” He muttered. “You sure you’re alright?”

“Five by Five.” She said. “And there is no way you’re leaving me behind. Whatever’s waiting’s important. Until we figure it out I’ll just be a bit…what was that word again?”

“Antsy?” Doyle offered. Faith nodded.

“Yeah that. Antsy.” She went back to looking out the window. “Are we there yet?”

Angel ducked under the vamps punch, coming back with one of his own. He spared a quick glance back to Buffy. I don’t know why I worry, he thought, as he watched her dust a vamp. She can watch her own back. He turned to the vamp again, managing to barely evade its attack. He finished it off, and then turned back to Buffy, who was staring at him.

“Does it usually take you that long to dust a vamp?” She asked.

“I’m rusty.” Angel said defensively. “I haven’t been in a good fight since I got my soul back.”

“What’ve you been doing for the last two hundred years?” She asked. Angel shrugged.

“Feeling sorry for myself.” He said. “Staying away from humans and vampires alike. Eating rats.” He added as an after thought.

“Eww.” Buffy pulled a face. “Gross out much? Do you still do that?” Angel shook his head.

“No. You’d be surprised how much blood butchers throw out.” Buffy blanched.

“Oh, you are so gross.” She muttered. “I swear…” She stopped, looking out into the distance. “Its here.” She whispered, running towards home. Angel followed, worried. She may not think much of him, but he thought the world of her. There was no way he was going to leave her alone.

Faith looked over her shoulder. That sensation of something was now moving, straight towards her. She didn’t know whether to be scared or excited. “You sure we’re in the right place?” She asked Doyle as he knocked on the door.

“Of course I’m sure.” Doyle said as the door opened.

“Doyle?” Joyce could barely believe it. “What are you doing here?” Doyle grinned.

“Thought I’d come give that daughter of yours a hand.” He said. “Even brought some back up.” He stepped aside. “This is Faith. She’s a Potential Slayer.” Joyce’s eyebrow arced. “Before you ask, no reason. Well, beside the fact I’ve been looking after her since I found her on my doorstep.” The dark haired girl finally turned to face them. A look of confusion was suddenly plastered on her face. Joyce wasn’t far behind. The Force was strong in this one, of that there was no doubt, but it was stretched, like it was connected to something.

“Hi. You must be Mrs S.” She said, holding out her hand. “This is going to sound weird, but do I know you?”

“I was about to ask the same question.” Joyce admitted. The feeling of familiarity was uncanny. What was going on here? Joyce stepped aside, clearing a path for them both.

“Smart.” Faith said as she walked in. “No invitation, no vampires.” Faith took one last look behind her before walking in. It was close. So close.

Buffy made it to Rovello Drive before realizing Angel was following her. She turned quickly. “Go home.” She ordered. “You don’t rate an invite.” Angel nodded, turning and leaving. Buffy took a breath and ran to her home. Whatever she was feeling, it was there. You better be all right, mom.

Faith sat in the chair, looking at the door. It was almost here, whatever it was. She got to her feet. “Faith?” She could just barely hear Doyle saying her name. Joyce looked at the girl, the stretched feeling was almost gone, like whatever the Force was connecting her to was almost here. Then the door burst open and Joyce had to bite her tongue to hold in the gasp of shock as Buffy ran in. The Force exploded around the two into a rainbow of light and sensation.

“Mom, are you…” Buffy stopped and looked directly at Faith. “Its you. This sense that…”

“…There was something.” Faith said, continuing her sentence. “Something here, something…”

“…Coming closer. Something important, something that…”

“…That meant the world to me. Something that made me…”

“…Complete.” The two girls said together, before collapsing on the floor. Doyle moved to Faith’s side, and then looked up at Joyce, who still sat, unmoving.

“What the hell was that?” He asked. Joyce just stared sat the two still forms, unmoving. This wasn’t happening. “Joyce?” She looked at him, then at Faith, and at the streak of gold that had appeared in her hair, a streak that matched the dark that had, just as suddenly, appeared in Buffy’s.

“My…daughter?” She whispered, before fainting dead away. Doyle looked down at the girl that had been his charge for all these years.

“Who are you, Faith?”

Faith looked around. It looked like she was in some kind of basement.

“You are.” A young sounding voice said. Faith turned to see a young blonde girl standing there. She couldn’t have been much older than six. “This is where mom trained me.” Faith looked at her.

“Who are you?” She asked. The girl giggled.

“You should ask yourself that question.” She said.

“Hey, I know who I am.” Faith exploded.

“Do you?” The girl answered. “Then what’s your last name? Who’re parents? What’s your sister’s name?”

“I don’t have a sister, or any parents.” Faith snapped. “Doyle found me on his doorstep. He’s the only father I’ve known. My parents didn’t even want me. I don’t need them or a sister!” The girl looked up at her, tears welling in her eyes.

“We didn’t know.” She whispered, and Faith watched as she began to age before her eyes. “Mom and dad thought you’d died. I didn’t even know you existed until I walked in the door and saw you.” She kept ageing until she was Faith’s age, and Faith recognised her as the girl who had walked in, the one who had filled the strange space she had felt since she was born. “I didn’t know, Faith. Honest if I did, I would have looked. Please…” Faith looked at the girl and knew, instantly, that this was her sister, Buffy Anne Summers. Her hands were shaking as she moved towards her.

“Oh God, Buffy.” She wrapped her arms around her. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it. I was just angry. I thought…I am such a piece of shit. How could I…”

“It’s not your fault, Faith.” Buffy said as Faith sobbed into her shoulder. “It’s the fault of whoever separated us. I’m just glad we’re together.” Faith pulled back, looking into the eyes of her sister.

“Damn straight.” She said. “An’ I ain’t letting you of my sight. That’s a…”

“…Promise.” Faith muttered, opening her eyes. She looked around. She was still in the Summers’ lounge room, on the lounge. But Buffy…

“You’re up, I see.” Doyle said, coming down the stairs.

“Where’s Buffy?” Faith demanded frantically. “Where is she?”

“Faith, calm down.” Doyle said soothingly. He’d never seen the girl like this before. “If you’re talking about the blonde girl that stormed in, I put her upstairs in what I guessed was her…” Faith leapt to her feet and ran up the stairs. “…room.” Doyle finished.

Faith was half way up the stairs when Buffy appeared at the top. Faith stopped. She looked exactly like her dream, save the lock of dark hair hanging to one side of her face. “Buffy?” Faith breathed. The girl nodded, grinning madly. Faith covered the last half in two leaps, wrapping her arms around her sister. “I thought it was…”

“A dream.” Buffy finished. “A wonderful…”

“…Impossible…”

“Dream.” They finished together. The two of them started laughing.

“Well, I hope you two aren’t always going to do that.” Joyce said from her door. “It might get a bit annoying.” Buffy grinned, dragging Faith down the hall.

“Mom, this is Faith, my supposedly dead sister you never told me about.” Buffy said half annoyed that Faith had never been mentioned. “Faith, this is our mother.”

“Um, hi mom?” Faith said timidly. “Guess this explains the ‘do I know you’ syndrome, huh?” Joyce sighed.

“And I thought my days of training padawan were over.” She said. Faith gave her a confused look.

“Paddle-what?” She asked. Buffy laughed at her reaction.

“Remember that training I mentioned in our dream meeting?” She began.

Chapter 7

Buffy stood up as Faith exited Principle Flutty’s office. “Well?”

“Stay out of trouble and we’ll all get along just fine.” She translated. Buffy snickered.

“I got the same lecture.” She said. “Though mine was slightly interrupted when he found out I burnt down the gym at my old school.”

“Buffy!” Faith exclaimed. “I didn’t know you were such a rebel.”

“Well it was full of…you know what.” She said guardedly. Faith grinned.

“Got it.” She said. “So, where we goin’?”

“Well, your arrival last night interrupted my patrol.” Buffy explained in a low voice. “So I haven’t reported to my stuffy, annoying, English guy, more commonly referred to as a Watcher. He’s also the school Librarian.” Faith shuddered.

“I never thought I’d actually voluntarily go inside a Library.” She said. “Still, if it’s just a Watcher, he can wait.”

“Sorry, F.” Buffy said as they entered the Library. “Don’t have a choice.”

“Hey Bu-bu-bu-bu-bu…” Xander’s greeting faded into vague mutterings.

“Who’s this?” Willow asked shyly. “And what’s with the new hair do?” She pointed to the lock of hair now matching the majority of Faith’s, aside from the blonde lock adorning her head.

“This is Faith.” Buffy said. “My twin sister we thought was dead. Faith, this is Willow , Xander, and Giles. This, um…” She played with the lock thoughtfully.

“I’m a Potential Slayer.” Faith said. “When I walked in, some of our hair swapped colour. Guy that’s been looking after me says its because we’re twins and both of us are either the Slayer or a Slayer In Waiting.” It was a smooth lie, and one Buffy could never have pulled off.

“I’ve never heard of such a thing.” Giles said from his desk. “Um, may I ask who your Watcher is?”

“I don’t have a Watcher.” Faith said. Buffy watched Giles’ glasses come off. “I’ve been raised by a guy that receives visions from the Powers That Be. He found me on his door step.” A dark look came over her face. “I really want to find out who separated us.”

“So do I, but that’s going to have to wait.” Buffy told her. Giles suspected something. She hoped she wouldn’t have to do anything she’d regret. “Giles, she needs books. Try not to get your Watcher books mixed up in her pile. She probably knows more about vampires than you do.”

“What? Oh yes. Yes of course, um… Well, this way, let’s see what classes you have.” The Watcher said, leading her to the stacks. Buffy gave him one final glance, and then looked at Xander, who was still staring at her, jaw dropped.

“Xander?” She walked over to him and waved her hand in front of his face. “Xander? Hello, earth to Xander. You there?” Still nothing. “Don’t make me kiss you, goldfish boy.” Xander finally closed his mouth. He shook his head shortly.

“You look good with your hair like that.” He said lamely. “Who’s the new girl?” Buffy glared at him.

“Did you not hear word one of what I just said?” She asked incredulously.

“Um, sorry?” He said. Buffy continued to glare. “Would you believe my brain was overloaded by the incredible amounts of beautiful that walked through the door?” Buffy’s answer was intercepted by a burst of anger coming from her sister

“Would you get off my case, English?” Faith yelled suddenly. “I don’t have to answer your questions. You are not my Watcher and, all things considered, I don’t want a Watcher. I’ve heard some things about you guys that make me think you do more harm than good, so back off!” She stormed out of the Library, leaving a rather shocked Giles in her wake. Buffy gave him a ‘why the hell’d you do that for’ look before following her sister, leaving Willow and Xander to find out what had actually happened.

“Faith, wait up!” Buffy called, moving through the hall as quick as she could, finally catching up with her outside. “You okay?”

“Is he always such an ass hole, or was that reserved just for me?” Faith demanded. Buffy took a breath, trying to get herself under control before moving on to Faith.

“He gets a bit…full on when it comes to his night job.” Buffy explained.

“No kidding.” Faith scowled as Cordelia and her posse walked past.

“Nice hair do, Summers.” She called. “Where’d you get it, Frankenstein’s castle?” Buffy scowled at her.

“Bitch.” She muttered.

“Please tell me I can kill her?” Faith asked darkly.

“No killing of human beings.” Buffy said firmly. “One, its not in the rule book. Two, it leads to something else I really can’t get into out here. We’ll talk about when we get home. Now, we need to get your books, which you rather unceremoniously stormed out without.” Faith winced.

“Oops.”

“How was school?” Joyce asked as the girls walked in.

“Well, Faith told Giles off for a as yet unexplained reason.” Buffy said. “And then we stared daggers at Queen C all day for teasing the hair.”

“She even apologised.” Faith said. “I didn’t realise B was that scary.”

“I get the feeling it wasn’t just Buffy.” Doyle said. “No offence, Faith, but you’ve got a pretty mean stare on you.”

“Yeah, team effort.” Buffy said, holding her hand up. Faith slapped her five.

“If you think that’s good, just wait to see what we get up to on the Slayage circuit.” Faith said. Buffy’s eyes went wide at the prospect.

“We might even get to the Bronze tonight.” She said. “Provided you haven’t given Giles a reason to stick us with extra patrol duty.”

“Bronze?” Faith asked. Buffy shrugged.

“The one and only club of any worth in this one Starbucks town.” She said, giving the Xander explanation.

“Who’s this Giles guy?” Doyle asked.

“Watcher.” Faith said distastefully. “And every bit as stuffy and annoying as you described them.” Doyle wrinkled his nose.

“I really hate those guy.” He said. “They think that fighting should be the be all and end all of the Slayer’s life. I mean, sure, it’s important, but you start to loose grasp of what your fighting for if you don’t have some sort of family or friends to talk to.”

“See, this is what I try to tell Giles.” Buffy said. “I need a social, otherwise I get bored. Why couldn’t you be my Watcher?”

“He wouldn’t look good in tweed.” Faith said. Buffy doubled over with laughter.

“What is it with a conversation about Mr Giles and tweed?” Joyce asked. Buffy finally got control of herself.

“It’s all the guy wears.” She said. “Its like, hello, the fifties are over? He’s got less fashion taste than Merrick . At least I could do something with black.” Faith cocked an eyebrow.

“ Merrick ? Who’s this guy, and what’s with the black comment?” She asked. Buffy sighed sadly.

“First Watcher.” Buffy said. “Wore black everywhere. He…died, trying to keep me from Lothos til I was ready.”

“Sorry.” Faith said, moving over to her. “I didn’t…”

“Know.” Buffy finished. “I know. Its cool.” She looked at the clock. “Well, we have about four hours before we have to meet Giles for patrol. Mom’ll probably want to go through some Jedi stuff with you before then. And we still have homework.” Faith groaned.

“Never thought you’d be one for homework, B.” She said. Buffy shrugged.

“Well, its homework, or mom takes my lightsaber.” She said.

“What’s a circle of sugary goodness got to do with anything?” Faith asked.

“You’ll find out tonight.” Buffy told her cryptically as they moved up to what was now their room. The two of them could not bear to be apart for a moment now they had finally found each other, so they had moved a small camping bed into Buffy’s room for Faith. Doyle watched them go, and then turned to Joyce.

“What is a lightsaber, anyway?” He asked. Joyce smiled and led him down to the basement. This should be good for a laugh.

Chapter 8

“So let me get this straight.” Faith said as they made their way to pick up Angel. “We let this vamp live because a: he has a soul and two: he helps us out, right?”

“Right.” Buffy nodded. “But that doesn’t mean we’re all chummy or anything. He’s just around because he’s useful.”

“Plus Xander goes all green eyed over the fact that you patrol with a another guy, vamp or not, right?” Faith said with a small grin.

“No, that has nothing to do with it.” Buffy said as they made it to Angel’s apartment. “Well, maybe a little.”

“Knew it.” Faith said as Buffy knocked. “You got the hots for the goof ball.” Buffy was about to retort when Angel noticed the door. The first thing Faith noticed was how unbelievably hot he was, followed by the slight, yet noticeable, feeling of darkness Buffy had described, then her Slayer sense. “You’re right, B. Apart from the whole vamp thing, he is a total hottie.” Angel looked at the new girl suspiciously. “Don’t give me any sideways glances, dusty.” She said.

“Faith, meet Angel.” Buffy said. “Angel, meet my until yesterday unknown twin sister, Faith.”

“Twin sister?” Angel repeated. Whistler hadn’t mentioned this, but then again, there was a lot about the Slayer that Whistler had neglected to mention. “And what’s with the hair?”

“Why is the hair the first thing everyone notices?” Faith asked. Buffy smiled.

“Who knows?” She said. “And as for your question, Deadboy, it’s a reaction to the Potential Slayerness of my sister over here.” Faith snickered.

“I wish you wouldn’t call me that.” Angel pleaded. Buffy smiled.

“Okay.” She said. “Come on, Deadboy. We want to get to the Bronze tonight.” Faith’s snicker turned to all out laughter as Angel closed the door behind him. Why me, he asked the heavens silently. Are this girl and her wit part of my punishment, because if so, I think I’ve paid my dues by now, don’t you?

I’m out of shape, Faith thought as she dusted the last vampire. She was breathing heavily, something she thought was impossible. She looked around, spotting only Angel. “Where’s Buffy?” She asked, a sense of foreboding settling over her. One of the first things Joyce- no mom- had taught her was to trust her feelings, her instincts, and hers were telling her something was up.

Angel looked around. Faith wasn’t the only one having bad feelings, only his were for a different reason. He could feel her, Dru, his insane Child. And if Dru was here, then Spike was here. And that meant… “Oh no.” He muttered.

“Yo, Deadboy. What’s going on?” Faith asked.

“Buffy’s…your mom had a run in with my Grand Child in college.” He explained. “Spike knew about you, or at least, he knew about one of you. His Sire, my Child, is around, and if she’s here…”

“No.” Faith breathed. Angel didn’t need to finish that sentence. She focused on the link her and Buffy shared. Come on, B, where are you? “There.” She muttered, taking off in the direction she could sense Buffy in. Angel followed curiously. There was more to this than two Slayer sisters. He just didn’t know what.

Buffy had finally caught up to the vampire she was chasing. “You know, you really shouldn’t have done that.” She said. “’Cause now you’ve gone and made me mad.” She served him a vicious round house in the head, and followed it with a stake to the heart. “That’ll teach you.” She quipped as he exploded into dust. She was about to head back to the others when the sound of clapping got her attention.

“Well, well, well. You really ‘ave come a long way since I saw you last.” A British accent said. Buffy turned to face the owner. “I’m definitely goin’ to enjoy the fun we’ll ‘ave over the years.” Buffy’s breath caught at the sight of the Billy Idol look alike walking towards her.

“You’re Spike.” She breathed. “The vampire mom told me about.” Spike grinned.

“Nice of ‘er to do that.” He said. “Saves time on the intro’s. Means I can get straight to the fun part to of the evenin’. Makin’ you mine.” Buffy dropped into a fighting stance.

“You wish, blondie.” She said, stake back and ready to strike.

“Come on girl, you think I don’t know how to handle you?” Buffy felt a sting on her arm. She pulled out the dart that had hit her.

“Too scared of me to go a fair fight?” She asked groggily as the drug began to take effect. She ran herself through the exercises her mom had taught her, trying to get past the forced lethargy that had overwhelmed her. Her knees buckled as she fell to the ground. “You won’t get away with this.” She muttered. Spike walked up to her, cupping her chin in his hand.

“Who’s gonna stop me, pet?” He whispered. “Angel? Don’t bet on it.” He pulled her up, supporting her with his arms. “By the time he gets here, the deed’ll be done. No matter what the Grand Poof does, from this moment on, you’re all mine.”

“Just don’t forget our deal.” The shooter said, coming from his hiding place.

“Yeah, yeah, I remember.” Spike said, annoyed at the interference. “Don’t worry, Finn. You’ll get your reward.” Yeah, you’ll get it all right. Your face’ll be the first one my new Child eats. He turned back to Buffy’s neck, running a thumb down her vein. “Now, to enjoy my prize.” He whispered, revealing his game face.

“Get your fangs away from my sister, shit face!” Faith yelled, running into the clearing. Finn tried to get in her way, but she barrelled right through him. She had to stop Spike before he turned Buffy, before Faith lost her forever.

Finn pulled his gun up, aiming at the new girl. Maybe he’d be allowed to keep one of them. “Think again, trigger happy.” Angel said, ramming his foot into the back of the guy’s face. Finn folded on the ground, unconscious. He looked up; Faith stood stock still in front of Spike, who was holding Buffy in front of him.

“Angel, what surprise.” He said. He switched his gaze to Faith. “Sister, huh? Thought you were dead, pet.”

“Seems to be the general opinion.” Faith said her eyes locked on Buffy’s still form. “Buffy?” The Slayer moaned, floating between consciousness and unconsciousness.

“What a pity, she can’t help you.” Spike said. “And you sure as hell can’t get to me without hurting her.” Faith glared at him. Damn it all, what could she do?

“Faith.” Buffy’s voice echoed across her mind. “Faith, I can’t help you, not physically, but I can help you. Your lessons with mom today, remember? You picked it up way faster than you should have. I think I may have been helping you, giving you what you needed accidentally. All you have to do is get him from behind. You can do it, sis. I trust you.” Faith nodded, pulling her stake up.

“What’re you going to do?” Spike sneered. Faith took a breath and threw the stake over Spikes shoulder. “And that does what?” Faith ignored him, reaching out with the Force like mom had taught her…no, not her. Buffy. She was right; she could do this.

She brought her hand up, concentrating on the stake. Angel watched from behind her as the stake slowed, then stopped completely. It spun so the point was facing Spike, then flew straight at him.

“Bloody hell!” He roared as the stake plunged in. He dropped Buffy and tried to pull the stake out.

“Missed.” Faith muttered, storming forward. She leapt over Buffy, ramming her foot into the vampire’s face. Spike fell back, forcing the stake through his gut. Faith took the opportunity to rearm herself, ripping her stake out.

“That hurts!” He roared.

“What a shame.” Faith sneered. “I meant to hit your heart. Sorry about that. I’m new with this levitaty thing.” She brought the stake up. “Can I try again?” Spike snarled and ran off. He was going to have some words with Dru when he got back.

Faith turned to Buffy’s still form, to see Angel leaning over her. “Step back, Deadboy.” She said, moving to her sister’s side. “B? Come on, sis, answer me.” She reached down to check her pulse. Still strong. Faith breathed a sigh of relief. “She’s just unconscious.” She picked her up gently. “I better get her home. And no, you’re not coming. B’s told me enough to know that you’re not welcome.”

“At least let me walk you to the front door.” Angel knew there was no way she could fight like that. Faith looked over at him.

“You care about her, don’t you?” She asked. Angel nodded. “You know you don’t have a chance, don’t you?”

“I know.” He said. “I knew that from the beginning. It doesn’t matter, so long as she’s safe.” Faith’s respect for the souled vampire raised a few notches. “Besides, she needs someone that can look after her, someone who can be there at all times, not just the night’s.”

“You mean like Xander?” Faith teased. Angel looked at her, stone faced.

“Better than Giles, I suppose.” He said. Faith had to chuckle at that. “How did you do that with the stake, anyway?”

“That’s for me to know and you to find out.”

Chapter 9

Six months later.

It was a week after the battle against the Master. The vampire was now a pile of dust scattered into the wind. That was the good news. The bad news was the Buffy had died. Temporarily, thanks to Xander’s knowledge of CPR, but long enough for another Slayer to be called. Ironically, that Slayer was Faith. She now had the pressure of being, at least in the Council’s eyes, the Chosen One, added to Joyce’s training. This also meant Buffy was now riding below the Watcher’s radar, which suited her just fine.

“You sure about this?” Xander asked. Buffy sighed and rolled her eyes.

“This is the only time we’re going to have a chance at this, Xander.” She said. “Look, the Council’s sent their observers to see if Faith’s a; trustworthy and b; any good. They’re bound to have some files or something with them that’ll give us a better idea of what they’re really here for. Let’s face it, they never really checked on me after Merrick died. They waited til I got here before they appointed Giles. I wanna know what’s really going on.”

“Yeah, I get all that.” Xander said. “I was just asking if this was a good idea.”

“You didn’t have to come.” Buffy reminded him.

“Yeah, I know.” Xander replied. “But better me than Deadboy.” Buffy hid the grin that spread over her face. Definitely better than Angel. Xander had two things going for him; he was cute, plus the added bonus of a pulse. “They’re on the move.” Buffy looked over at the hotel as the Watchers left.

“Alright, got the walkie talky?” She asked. Xander held it up. “Right, keep a look out. Radio me if they come back.”

“Right. Hey Buff.” She looked back at him. “Be careful.” Buffy looked at him a moment. What the hell, she thought, as she bent over and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

“For luck.” She said, before taking off. Xander watched her go.

“Good luck.” He muttered.

Buffy scaled the drainpipe easily and tried the window. Unlocked. “Do these guys think the only things around here are vampires?” She muttered as she climbed in.

“What do you think you are doing?” Buffy looked at the young man as he walked in form the next room.

“Oops.” She said as he drew a gun. She called the Force and waved her palm. “Drop it.” The man obeyed. “Why are you here?” She asked, waving her hand again.

“There must be only one Slayer.” He said in a monotone voice. “We were sent to kill Buffy Summers and, if necessary, the current Slayer to clear the way for a more worthy Slayer.” Buffy held her anger in check. Those bastards.

“Where do you keep your files?” She asked, waving her hand once more. The Watcher shuffled off, leading Buffy to the lounge room. On the coffee table was a computer. The watcher sat down in front of it. “I need copies on anything you have.” She commanded. He took a container of blank discs and began copying the files. Once finished, he handed the discs to her. “Thanks. Now listen carefully. I was never here.”

“You were never here.”

“You never saw me.”

“I never saw you.”

“When I leave, you will forget everything that happened tonight.”

“When you leave, I will forget everything that happened tonight.” With that, Buffy left. Once she had, the Watcher blinked a couple of times. Why was he in front of the computer? He shrugged. It must have been important, whatever it was.

“That was fast.” Xander said, as she came down. Buffy shrugged.

“They left someone in there.” She said. “He was kind enough to give me all the information I need.” Xander grinned as they headed back to the Library.

“How many broken bones did you give him?”

“None.” Buffy said innocently. “He was just very helpful. And a big chicken. Anyway, I think I’m beginning to support Doyle’s thoughts on the Watchers Council, though.”

“Why? What’s going on?”

“I’ll explain at the Library.” Buffy said. “Come on. Let’s go.”

“He told you what?” Faith asked. The tone of her voice was dangerous, and bordering on lethal.

“N-now, now Faith.” Giles said soothingly. “I’m sure there’s a reason for this.”

“Yeah.” Faith nodded. “The Council are all total assholes that need to have their heads examined. With one exception.” She looked over at Giles.

“Well, thank you.” Giles couldn’t help but smile. “I thought this day would never come.”

“What day?” Faith asked. Buffy grinned as well.

“The day you’d actually trust him.” She told her. “We still have to deal with the Council. I don’t care what happens to me, but threatening my family is a serious no-no.”

“Ditto.” Faith agreed. She’d never really had a family save Doyle growing up. Now she had her sister and mother beside her, she wasn’t going to let them down. She just wished dad wasn’t such a jerk. “What are we doing about hem, anyway?” Buffy dug into her pocket, pulling out some discs.

“Here’s a start. Wills, could you check these out? Just see what you can find.” Willow nodded eagerly as she took the discs.

“Got it. I’m sure I can find a few things. As long as it isn’t too heavily encrypted.” Buffy grinned. Willow was always putting herself down. In reality, if she needed the extra power, she could probably hack the FBI computers for help.

“Right. Faith and me’ll keep patrolling.” Buffy said. “We’ll take Angel just in case.” Faith noticed a crestfallen look on Xander’s face. I’ll have to do something about that, she thought. “Xander, can you watch the Watchers?”

“The Watcher watcher?” Xander quipped. “How’s that for irony.” Buffy smiled. Thank the heavens for those one-liners of his. They were the only things keeping her sane right now.

“Giles, keep us updated.” Buffy continued. She looked over at him. “I know this’ll be hard for you. By the sounds of things, more dangerous than anything you’ve faced…”

“You mean besides the combined tempers of Faith and yourself?” Giles asked.

“Giles?” Buffy asked, with a look of shock on her face. “That was actually funny. Are you all right? I mean I know it hurts at first.” The other teens doubled over in laughter at the comment. Giles went red in the face. “Don’t worry, we’ll help you through it.”

That week, there were several attempts on Buffy’s life. Most of them happened on patrol, and only her combination of Slayer and Force born skills had kept her alive. Angel, Xander and Faith became hyper protective of the Jedi trained Slayer, never leaving her alone for a moment. With the exception of Faith, it was starting to get a bit annoying.

“I can take care of myself, guys.” She said one night in the Library.

“These attempts are getting serious.” Angel had told her. “We’re just trying to keep you alive.”

“Appreciate the thoughts, Deadboy.” She said. “Just wish you guys’d give it a break. Faith and me can handle it.”

“Can you blame us for wanting to keep you safe?” Xander added his piece of mine, almost saying ‘can you blame me’. “Our lives would be less for your absence.” Faith grinned. Time to get this show on the road.

“Can we get a move on, please?” She begged. Angel arched an eyebrow. She was up to something. “I’m gettin’ bored. Somewhere out there, some poor vampire is waiting for me to end his miserable existence. I don’t wanna be late.”

“What are you up to?” Buffy asked.

“Who, me?” Her sister asked innocently. “What would I possibly be up to?” Buffy looked at her suspiciously, trying to probe her mind through their link. Faith diverted her probe to a less than appealing thought.

“Please tell me you’re joking?” Buffy demanded.

“Am I missing something?” Giles asked. He, along with the others, believed the link between the two had something to do with there now being two Slayers, thankfully

“Nothing you really need to know.” Buffy said.

“That’ll teach ya.” Faith said. Buffy looked at her and shuddered.

“I can’t believe you even thought of that.” She said. She then switched her glare to Angel. “Keep it in your pants, Deadboy.” Angel glared at Faith.

“What did you show her?” He demanded.

“Maybe one day if you’re good, someone’ll turn you into a real boy.” Faith said sweetly. “Then I’ll show you.” Buffy and Xander gagged. Giles took his glasses off and muttered something about ‘bloody teenagers’. Willow buried her face behind the computer screen to hide her embarrassment.

“You really have to do something about your sister, Buff.” Xander said.

“I blame Doyle.” Buffy said. “And I will bring this up with him.” Faith’s face fell.

“Great.” She mumbled. “More drills. I swear, sometimes he’s worse than a Watcher.”

“Uh, speaking of.” Giles said hesitantly, replacing his glasses. This was going to hurt, but they wanted to know. He just hoped they wouldn’t kill him. “The Council has passed down orders concerning the two of you. They, uh…Well, you see…”

“Giles, spill.” Faith said. “What’s going on?” The Watcher took a breath.

“There is a test that is administered on a Slayer’s eighteenth birthday.” He began. A slight hiss escaped from between Angel teeth.

“The Cruciamentum?” He growled. “What’s that got to do with this?”

“You’ve heard of it?” Giles asked, not all that surprised.

“The tried to use me for it once, during World War II.” Angel told them. “I helped the girl escape instead. They hunted her down about six months later. Not worthy, they said.”

“What is this thing crucial mental thing?” Buffy asked.

“The Slayer’s administered a drug that robs them of their powers.” Angel explained. “Then, on their eighteenth, they’re locked up with a vampire, forced to fight, without their abilities, to prove their worth. If they survive, they’re worthy. If not…”

“They’re dead.” Faith said, deadpan. “Doyle never told me about that. What’s it got do with us? We’re not eighteen.” Giles cleared his throat.

“They’re ordering you to administer the test early.” Buffy guessed. “To see if Faith’s ‘worthy’.” The last word was dripping in sarcasm. Both girls were having trouble controlling themselves.

“Not just Faith.” Giles said. “They think the test will give them a chance to get rid of you.”

“Those bastards!” Faith’s temper finally exploded.

“Faith, calm down.” Buffy said. “This isn’t going to do anything about it.” Buffy struggled with her own temper.

“Buffy? You okay?” Xander was behind her, gently rubbing her shoulders in an attempt to calm her down. Buffy closed her eyes, trying not to show how much she enjoyed it.

“Magic hands?” She said. Xander grinned.

“You should see what I do in other areas.” He said mischievously. Buffy’s grin mirrored his. Maybe I will, she thought. “So, you okay?”

“Yeah.” She said. She looked over at Faith. Xander’s act had given her something else to worry about. “So, what now?”

“Might I suggest you cancel patrol for a while?” Giles said. “We can handle it.”

“Uh uh, no way, not on your life.” Faith said. “After what you just dropped on us, I need to vent. But we probably shouldn’t go alone.” That’s it, Buffy thought. She is up to something. I know it. “So, Xander with Buffy and Angel with me. Now that’s settled, bye.” She dragged the souled vampire out before anyone could make any objections.

“She’s either up to something, or Deadboy’s got her hypnotised.” Buffy muttered. “If that’s the case, he’s dust.” She sighed and looked over at her patrol partner. Xander and her alone. Wonder if he’ll ask me out, Buffy thought. “Well, let’s go. One sweep of the east cemetery, and then bed. I want to be awake and alert when the Council starts piling crap. Let’s go Xander.”

“Yes boss.” He said, following obediently. Willow watched them leave, and then looked over at Giles.

“How long do you think those two are going to dance around like that?” She asked him.

“What? Oh, I don’t know.” Giles said. “Though, I think Faith’s rather obvious plan might have some effect on matters. In any event, they may even be good for each other.” Willow looked at the door wistfully.

“Yeah, maybe.” She muttered, before returning to the computer.

“What are you up to?” Angel asked once they were a safe distance from the school.

“Wadaya think? I want some private time with you alone.” Faith said rolling her eyes. “Trying to get Xander and my sister together. They’ll never do it on their own.”

“I knew that.” Angel said. “But did you have to be so obvious about it? If Buffy doesn’t guess, she’ll be suspicious at least.”

“Is that reason or jealousy?” Faith teased. “Relax, Deadboy. Why do you think I distracted her with a less than possible thought about us?”

“Us?” Angel was taken aback by the Slayer’s abruptness. “There’s an us?”

“Not now or ever.” She said, almost sadly. “I talked to Doyle about you. There’s a clause in this curse of your’s. A moment of true happiness, Angelus makes an encore appearance. Hence, no us.”

“A clause?” Angel’s face fell. “What kind of curse has a loop hole like that?” Faith shrugged.

“The only emotions vampires run on are the most basic and instinctive there is.” Those emotions also lead to the Dark Side of the Force, she thought to herself. Probably not a coincidence. “Those basic instincts run their very existence. The clause means you can’t…relieve yourself, in any way. I think that’s the way Doyle explained it.” Angel thought for a moment.

“Now it makes sense.” He said. “But how’d they know I wouldn’t just keep doing things the way I was?”

“Do you know any living person who would actually want to exist like you did?” Faith asked.

“True enough.” Angel said. “Wonder how the other two are doing?”

Wonder if I should ask her out, Xander thought as they walked through the cemetery.

“Come on.” Buffy muttered. “You’d think they’d be bursting at the seams with left overs from the Master.”

“They’re probably scared of meeting one of two very pissed off Slayers.” Xander said hopefully. “That, or you and Faith have already taken care of them all.” A hand burst out of the ground right next to him. Buffy shoved him out of the way, moving forward quickly, stake ready. The fledgling pulled itself out of the ground, only to meet the Slayers foot with its face.

“Man, you guys have lousy timing.” Buffy said. “I mean, I’m just walking past and you decide to pop up just at that time. That’s really stupid.” She moved forward quickly, intending on finishing it quickly so she could check on Xander.

“I have a message from Spike.” The vamp said suddenly. Buffy hesitated. “Told me tell you…nothing can save you, your sister or your mother.” Buffy hesitation gave way to fury as she charged savagely and shoved the stake through the vamps chest.

“Take this message back.” She snarled as the vamp burst into dust. She looked down at it disgustedly. So, Spike was threatening her family, was he? Well, she’d have to do something about that. When she got her hands on him, she’d…

“Buffy?” Xander walked closer to her. She was shaking, why he didn’t know. He hadn’t heard the exchange, but he knew there was trouble. “Buffy, are you…?” She spun around with a snarl, stake ready. “Buffy settle down. It’s me, Xander. Remember, magic hands?” Buffy blinked looking at him.

“Xander…what…?” She looked at the stake, still pointing at him. She dropped it in horror. “Oh my…what am I doing? What…?” Xander moved forward, catching her as she fell to her knees.

“Its okay.” He whispered soothing, running his hand through her hair. “Its alright. You were jazzed that’s all. Nothing at all for you to worry about.”

“There is.” She muttered into his chest. “I almost killed you. I almost let it take me.”

“What?” Xander asked. Caution flew out the window.

“The Dark Side.” She said, instantly wishing she hadn’t opened her mouth.

“The what?”

“Please, Xander, don’t ask.” Buffy begged. “Just…just take me home, okay?”

“Alright, Buff.” He whispered, soothingly. So much for asking her out. “We’ll get you home, but I want to know what just happened, okay, ‘cause whatever just happened there wasn’t normal.” Buffy nodded as she felt Faith’s awareness flare in her mind.

“Alright.” Buffy whispered. “Just…don’t leave tonight, ‘kay?”

“’Kay.” Xander answered. “No argument from me.”

Chapter 10

The second Xander walked in with Buffy hanging off his arm, Joyce knew something was wrong. “What’s going on? Where’s Faith?”

“On her way.” Buffy said. “We split up tonight. She went with Angel. I…”

“Some vamp said something to her.” Xander said. “Don’t know what, but whatever it was, Buffy lost it. Staked the vamp, and I thought I was next.” Joyce looked sharply at the two. “She just lost her temper. Whatever that thing said, pushed her a bit far.” Buffy looked up at her mother, her eyes filled with fear.

“I heard it, mom.” She could barely be heard. “Calling to me. The Dark Side, it…” Joyce rushed over to her daughter’s side, taking her from under Xander’s arm. This was the second time something like this had happened. Why Buffy? What had the girl done to deserve such trials?

“Could someone explain what this ‘dark side’ is?” Xander asked. “Because I’m kinda lost. I thought it was just whatever the vamp had said combined what Giles had told us about that crucial mental thing.”

“Cruciamentum?” Doyle walked out of the kitchen. “What about it?”

“They’re putting Buffy and Faith through it early.” Xander said ignoring Buffy’s begging’s of no. “To test Faith’s worth, and get rid of Buffy.” Buffy felt her mother stiffen.

“And the vampire?” Joyce asked.

“One of Spike’s.” Buffy said hesitantly. “He left a message, that nothing could save you, Faith or me.” Joyce took a deep breath.

“I see.” She said. She turned to Doyle. “And what is this Cruciamentum?” Doyle explained the test. Joyce nodded. “I think I’ve had enough of these Watcher’s meddling in my daughter’s lives.”

“Mom…” Buffy began.

“It’s alright sweetie.” Joyce said soothingly. “I’m not going to do anything stupid. I’m just going to lay down the law.”

“No!” Buffy said forcibly. “These guys don’t give a damn about human life. They only care about themselves and their war. You go in there, they’ll kill you to keep there secret. You have to keep this to yourself. You can’t go after them. I don’t...”

“Shh, it’s okay.” Joyce said. “I won’t go after them. But I’m not going to let them do this.”

“Don’t worry, mom.” Buffy said. “I don’t think Giles is willing to go through with it. Umm…changing subject, I asked Xander to stay the night. I just…”

“I understand.” Joyce said. “We’ll make the lounge up. Go get some blankets while explain what’s going on.”

“First things first.” Xander said. “Shouldn’t we tell Giles what happened?” Buffy looked over at him.

“Oops.” She said. “We did kinda forget to report in, huh?”

“Yeah, and he’s really worrying about you, what with the Council gunning for ya.” Buffy nodded, and then looked out into space a moment.

“Alright, Faith’s going to give Giles a censored version of what happened.” She said. “I’ll get the blankets. Xander, you might want to sit down.” She disappeared up the stairs. Xander watched her get to the top, and then looked at her mother.

“So, what’s going on?”

By the end of the tale, Xander was utterly confused.

“So, let me get this straight.” He began slowly. “You’re an alien from another galaxy who can manipulate this all powerful energy field. Buffy’s been training since she was a kid to control these powers. Faith has the same abilities, and can access Buffy’s training through their link, which has nothing to do with being Slayers and everything to do with this Force. The Dark Side is basically the evil Force that is accessed through the darker side of human emotions. Is that everything?”

“Extremely simplified, but yes.” Joyce confirmed.

“Oh.” Xander sat quietly. Buffy, who was sitting beside him, tapped him on the shoulder.

“You okay?” She asked. “I wanted to tell you guys, but…”

“Hey, I understand.” Xander finally managed to say. “I mean, vampires and demons sure, I get that. But if you walked up to us and said ‘hey guys, my moms an alien’, that may not go down to well. Besides, this Emperor guy might hear, then the secrets out. Not sure how he’d hear…”

“Vampires are pure Dark Side.” Joyce said. “He may be able to get information from them.”

“Oh.” Xander thought for a moment. “Maybe that’s why every time Buff’s lost her temper, there’s been a vampire of some kind around. You know, influencing her emotions.”

“Whoa, Xander.” Faith said. She was standing right behind her sister, almost protectively. Angel, of course, had been sent home, meaning he was standing outside the window to make sure his Slayers (and he did think of them as ‘his Slayers’) were safe. “That actually made sense.”

“A scary sort of sense.” Buffy said. “If vampires can have that sort of affect on us, then what about demons? Should we really continue fighting them, if that’s the risk we take? Two Slayers, Jedi trained, turned to the Dark Side? What kind of damage would we do? What could possibly stop us?” She shuddered. “It scares me just to think of it.”

“Then don’t.” Xander said, looking at her. He never realised the dangers she faced, at least not the internal ones. “Think about the things you can do now. The lives you’ve saved, and the ones you still can. Stay with it, don’t let something like this scare you off. Sunnydale, the world, still needs you. And we’re all here to help you, when you need it.” Faith smiled. Good old Xander.

“You’re right, Xand.” Buffy said. “I can still do some good. I just got to watch myself.” Outside, Angel couldn’t help but smile. Faith was right. Buffy needed the boy. He could help her far more than Angel himself could, and the souled vampire knew it. He turned away. They were fine, and as long as Xander was around, Buffy would remain fine. Now all he needed was a mate for Faith. Maybe then he could sleep without worrying.

“Ms Summers?” Both Buffy and Faith turned.

“Yes Mr Snyder.” They said sweetly.

“Is there any particular reason why you two are late?” The new principle asked. “Again?”

“What can I say?” Faith said with a shrug. “We just can’t go through the day without you meeting us at school.” Snyder glared at her.

“Then perhaps you’d like to meet me after school to catch up on the work you missed?” He threatened. “Get to class. And don’t let this happen again.”

“Yes sir.” They chorused as he walked away. “Troll.” Buffy sent to Faith.

“Major.” Faith agreed as they walked off. “We sure he isn’t some kind of demon or something?” Buffy shook her head with a grin.

“Sorry, F.” She said out loud as they made it to class. “No Slaying the principal.”

“Nuts.” Faith muttered. The took there usual seats across from Willow . Xander was nowhere to be seen.

“Hi guys.” Willow said cheerfully. “Have you seen Xander? He didn’t show up this morning.”

“He was over our house last night.” Faith explained. “Buffy had a fright and asked him to stay.” Willow ’s eyebrow shot up as she looked at Buffy. The Slayer’s face turned bright red. “He said he was going home to change and get his school gear and meet us here. I thought he’d be here by now.”

“He’s probably fine.” Buffy said as Ms Calender walked in. Stupid troll, she thought. They weren’t that late. “It’s not like there’s anything that could hurt him during the day.” Willow fidgeted uncomfortably. Faith looked over at Buffy. Not another word could be said as Ms Calender started the class. They’d have to take this up with her after.

“Still no Xander.” Buffy muttered worriedly. It was recess already.

“I’m sure he’s fine.” Giles said. “Nothing to worry about.”

“Unless the Council grabbed him.” Faith muttered darkly.

“I don’t think so.” Willow said. “I keep forgetting you guys haven’t met Xander’s parents yet.” Buffy and Faith looked over at her.

“ Willow .” Giles asked calmly. He’d heard rumours from the teachers about the Harris’, but had never had any confirmation about it. “Is there something you need to tell us?”

“Mrs Harris isn’t too bad.” She started hesitantly. “She’s really sweet. It’s the man she lives with that’s the problem.”

“The man she lives with?” Buffy asked.

“None of us, Xander, Jesse or myself, would ever call that man Xander’s father.” Willow said. “He’s a drunk. He comes home drunk, gets even more drunk, and then takes his bad days, which is most of them, out on Xander and his mother.” Buffy blinked a few times, then looked at Willow in horror.

“No.” She breathed. “You mean…”

“Oh dear God.” Giles said, running to the phone in his office. Buffy collapsed to her knees.

“Buffy?” Faith moved to her quickly.

“This is all my fault.” She muttered as Faith held her close. “This is…”

“There’s no answer at the Harris’.” Giles said, running back out.

“I’m going to Mr. Snyder.” Willow said.

“That won’t help.” Buffy said. “All he’ll do is call the cops, and Mr Harris’ll get away with it.”

“Buffy, you don’t know that.” Faith said soothingly. “Giles, call our place. Mom won’t be home, but Doyle might be.” Giles nodded, heading back to his office. Faith looked back down at Buffy, who was still sobbing into Faith’s shoulder, blaming herself.

“There’s no answer.” Giles yelled. Faith couldn’t help but grin.

“’Cause he’s already there.”

Doyle pulled up in front of the house. This was the place. He just didn’t understand what had taken the Powers so long to let him know. He walked up to the door and knocked. Nothing. He looked around, then, when he was sure no one was watching, he revealed his demon side.

He sniffed the air and was almost knocked over by the smell. Fear, anger and pain, a barrel load of pain and it was still happening. No time for subtlety, he thought, kicking down the door. “Hello?” He said, pulling his human face back in place. He heard a small whimper from the basement, followed by what sounded like skin hitting skin. He rushed toward the sound, heading down the stairs. He stopped, horrified by the scene before him.

There was a woman, unconscious, off to one side. At least, Doyle hoped she was unconscious. In the centre of the room lay Xander, bloodied and broken, barely alive. Standing over him was a rather large, rather angry man.

“Maybe from now on you’ll do as your told!” The man yelled.

“Back off.” Doyle shouted. The large man turned around.

“What do you think your doin’?” He demanded. He was drunk, obviously. Doyle could tell that from the smell of alcohol in the air, and the empty beer cans littering the basement.

“I was just checking on my young friend down there.” Doyle said, as calmly as possible.

“Hmph, you? A friend of this piece a’ shit?” The man slurred. “Yeah right. Get out ‘a here.”

“Just back off, and there won’t be any trouble.” Doyle warned. Normally, he wouldn’t use his demon strength against humans, but in this guy’s case, he’d make an exception. The man charged, only to cop a face full of Doyle foot, followed by a vicious left jab. The man sprawled on the floor, unconscious. That should keep him occupied for a while, he thought, going over to Xander.

“Doyle?”  The youth muttered.

“How the hell do you get yourself in these situations?” Doyle asked. Xander tried to shrug and was rewarded for his efforts with a sharp pain. “Hang in there. I’ll get help.”

“Mom?” Xander rasped. Doyle moved over to the woman and checked her pulse.

“Alive.” He told the teen.

“Good.” Xander said, before slipping into unconscious. Doyle checked him quickly before heading back upstairs to call 911. Why the hell’d that boy have to go through this?

Chapter 11

Buffy ran through the doors into the Intensive Care ward. “Xander Harris?”

“Are you a relative?” The desk clerk asked.

“We’re his friends.” Faith said.

“I’m sorry, family only.” The desk clerk said. “If you’ll wait over there, I’ll find out how he’s doing.”

“But…” Buffy began. Willow moved up to the front.

“Hey Charles.” She said to the desk clerk.

“ Willow . I was wondering where you were.” The clerk said. “You’re usually the one who calls it in.”

“Yeah, sorry.” Willow said. “School stuff.” The clerk chuckled.

“Yeah, it gets in the way of everything.” He said. He looked at them. “Alright, go through. Just be quiet, all right? This is a hospital.”

“Thanks, Charles.” Willow said, leading the others through.

“ Willow .” Giles asked. “How on earth…?”

“This happens a lot.” She admitted. “Charles is on duty most of the time, so he knows me pretty well.”

“How often?” Buffy asked. Faith could feel the anger boiling.

“B, settle down.”

“Faith, I can’t. This is my fault.”

“No, it’s not. Xander’s father’s a jerk. That’s not you fault.”

“But I asked him to stay…”

“And if he hadn’t, he would’ve been beaten to a pulp earlier. You can’t blame yourself, and you can’t go down that road. I won’t let you.” Buffy looked over at her sister. There was a look of determination plastered on her face. “I won’t let you.”

“Alright, F, I get the picture.” Buffy smiled over at her. “No grievous injuring of Mr Harris.”

“I’m glad we got that sorted.” Faith said out loud.

“Did we miss something?” Giles asked.

“Girls gotta have some secrets, G-Man.” Faith told him.

“I do wish you wouldn’t call me that.” Giles said.

“Yeah.” Angel answered the phone.

“Angel, this is Mrs Summers.” The voice said. It was cold and careful. No surprise. “I’m afraid you’ll have to patrol alone tonight.”

“Has something happened?” He asked, worried.

“The girls are fine.” She told him. “Xander and his mother, however, was beaten by his father this morning. They’re in Intensive Care. Buffy, Faith and the others are with them.” Angel felt a familiar rage fill him. What kind of father could do this to his son?

“Thanks, Mrs Summers. Tell the girls not to worry. I’m on it.”

“That’s going to worry Buffy instantly.” Joyce told him, before hanging up. If she’d taken time to think about, she might have realized what ‘it’ was. Even if she had, it’s hard to tell if she would have done anything to stop it.

Mark Harris grinned as he got out of the car. Finally, he had the house to himself. Now all he had to do was call the girls, and…

“Mr Harris?” A voice said. Harris turned around to see a man in a long black coat.

“Whaddaya want?” He growled.

“You brutally beat you son and wife today.” The man said. “Fact of the matter is, you’ve been beating them like this for years. Neither of them has pressed charges because they’re too scared of you.”

“That’s their problem.” Harris said. The man set a steely glare on him.

“No.” He said, moving forward to fast for Harris to see. “It’s yours.” Harris doubled over as the man slammed his fist into his gut, following up with a kick to the jaw. He picked Harris up by the shirt.

“Who are you?” Harris gasped.

“They call me Angel.” He was told. “I’m friend of Xander’s. All right, more of an acquaintance, but still, he’s important to someone who’s important to me. That means your due for a lesson.” He threw the man into the garage door, denting it. Harris managed to drag himself to his feet. “You can still stand under your own power I see. How unfortunate. Because it means the lesson continues.” Angel grabbed him again, throwing him through the front windscreen of the car. “Remember what happened here today. You ever even think about raising you fist against Xander or his mother again I’ll be back. And next time, I won’t stop.” He walked off. I’ll stop in at the hospital, he thought, and then head home.

“How is he?” Angel asked as he walked in.

“Alive.” Faith said. “That’s the best we can hope for at the moment. Buffy almost went after his father. She’s in with Xander now.”

“She won’t have to worry about going after Mr Harris.” Angel said with a grin.

“Alright, what did you do?” Faith demanded.

“I gave him talk.” He told her. “And put him through the windscreen of his car. And dented his garage door.” Faith couldn’t help but grin.

“I don’t believe you.” She said. “You don’t even like the guy.”

“But Buffy does.” Angel said. “And so do you, in a different way. I overheard you guys talking last night, about the…”

“You listened?” Faith interrupted. Angel shrugged.

“I was worried.” He said. “I’ve been put in a situation where you two are the only people that mean anything, to me and the world. I will do anything I need to do to protect you. Both of you.”

“Y’know, your not so bad, after all.” Faith said.

“Thanks.”

“But you do anything to get between Xander and my sister, I’m going to have to kill you.”

“Got it.”

“How the hell’d that bastard get the drop on you anyway?” Buffy asked the unconscious Xander. “I mean, hasn’t watching Faith and me training taught you anything? You should have been able to handle him, especially if…”

“Xander?” Buffy turned to see a woman enter. She recognised her as Xander’s mother. “Oh no. Oh please, God, no.” She moved quickly to the bedside. “Oh, baby, I’m sorry. I should have done something.” Buffy moved back, letting Mrs. Harris get in. “Please, just say something. Is he going to be okay?” She asked Buffy.

“I don’t know.” Buffy told her. “His right arm’s broken in two places. He’s got some cracked ribs, both legs are busted, but…his back was shattered. Doctors doubt he’ll ever walk again. That’s if he wakes up.”

“This is my fault.” Xander’s mother whispered. “I should have done something. I should have left, taken Xander and gone somewhere, away from that monster.” Buffy watched her stroke Xander’s head gently.

“I should go.”

“Wait.” Buffy stopped. “Who are you?”

“I’m…a friend of Xander’s.” Buffy told her. “I had a fright, and asked Xander to stay over the night. I had no idea this was gong to happen.”

“Don’t blame yourself.” Mrs Harris said. “It would have happened anyway. Mark came home drunk last night. He stayed up all night, drinking, but that was after…” Buffy clenched her fist as she turned away.

“I’m sorry.” She said. “I have to go.” Mrs Harris turned back to her son.

“Wake up, my darling baby boy.” She whispered. “Your Slayer needs you.”

“What is he doing here?” Buffy demanded.

“Your mom called and told me what was going on.” Angel told her. “I came to see how things were.”

“After a visit to Mr Harris.” Faith interjected with a grin.

“What kind of ‘visit’?” She asked carefully.

“The kind of visit that leaves the guy half hanging out of windscreen of his car.” Faith told her. Buffy glared over at Angel.

“You did that?” Angel nodded. “Why?”

“I didn’t like the way he treated his family.” Angel said. “Plus, I was worried. There was no need for you to go down that road. At least I’m already there.” Buffy glared at him suspiciously.

“Y’know, I’m having trouble figuring you out.” She said. “You seem to have a surprise waiting every time I turn around.”

“Maybe you’re not supposed to figure me out.” Angel said with a slight smile. “Life should always have some sort of mystery around it. Otherwise, where’s the challenge?” With that he turned and exited. “I’ll see you later.” Buffy watched him leave.

“I’ll figure you out eventually, Angelus.” She muttered. “And when I do, I’d better like what I find.”

It had been a week since Xander had entered his coma. Buffy had been spending every spare second at his side, talking to him. Trying to encourage him to wake up, to no avail. Face it, Summers, she’d think to herself, looking down at his scarred face. You love him.

It was on one of those occasions that she got an unexpected visitor.

“Well, well, what do we ‘ave ‘ere?” His voice cut through the silence like a knife.

“Shove off, Spike.” Buffy spat. “I’m not in the mood to play with you right now.”

“Who said anything about playin’, pet?” The vampire sneered. “I just wanted to make sure you realise I’m still around. Wouldn’t do for you to forget your future Sire now, would it?”

“Go away.” Buffy said again. Spike looked down at her. There was something missing, that spark he’d seen while watching her. Have to do something about that, he thought. He walked up behind her and bent over her shoulder.

“Who’s this then, huh?” He asked. “Never thought I’d see you go soft over a vegetable.”

“Someone who shouldn’t be in here.” Buffy said. “Someone I care about. Now, leave.” Spike grinned. Perfect.

“’E don’t look like much.” He said. “Still, looks to me like ‘e’s holding you back.” He lowered his voice to whisper. “I’ll kill ‘im for you, then your family. Then, there’s nothing for to stop you from coming to me.” Buffy spun suddenly, grabbing the vampire by the throat.

“You stay away from Xander.” She hissed. “You stay away from my family, my friends, and you stay the hell away from me. Although,” She said calmly, stretching a hand out. A stake floated over from her bag. “maybe I should just finish you now.” Worked a bit too well, he thought, pushing her back.

“Gotta work on that, pet.” He said. “You gave me too much leverage.”

“Thanks for the tip.” Buffy spat. “I’ll make sure I hold you properly next time.” Spike grinned.

“You do that, pet. I’ll see you around.” With that, he walked out. On the way, he past Angel. “You keep my Child safe, Poof.” He muttered, just loud enough for Angel to hear. “I’ll be coming to collect her soon.” Angel didn’t stop to look at him; he rushed passed down to Xander’s room.

“You alright?” He asked. “Faith said there was something going on.”

“I’m good.” Buffy said, shakily. “Spike decided to remind me he was still around. Where is Faith?”

“Other side of town.” Angel said, pulling out a com link. “Your mother’s idea. I was on my way to deliver this when Faith called.” Buffy nodded as she took it. “Everyone’s either got one, or is getting one, me included. Your mother decided she didn’t want something like this to happen again. Also, with Spike around, she want’s you in contact with at least one person at all times.” He pulled one more out of his pocket. “For Xander, when he wakes up.” He placed it on the table next to the boy’s bedside.

“I’m sure he will.” Buffy said half-heartedly. “He still hasn’t asked me out.”

“I’ll be sure to put that on my to-do list.” Xander rasped suddenly.

“Xander?” Buffy couldn’t believe it. “Your awake! The doctors said it would take years, if at all.”

“And miss that date?” The resident joker said. “Yeah right. Those quacks give me anything else to do to prove them wrong?”

“They said you’ll never walk again.” Buffy said hesitantly. “Your spine was shattered.” Xander grinned.

“So, in other words, all I have to do is learn to walk again, huh?” He looked up at Angel. “Well, if a corpse can walk, then so can I.” The souled one smiled down at the boy.

“One good thing came out of this.” Angel said.

“Yeah.” Xander looked up at him suspiciously. “What’s that?”

“Your mother reported Mr Harris to the police.” Angel said levelly. “Now your awake, you can put him away.”

“And even if you didn’t, he’s so scared of Angel he’ll turn himself in.” Buffy added. Angel shrugged.

“Getting thrown through the car windscreen can do that to a person.” Now Xander’s suspicions were really aroused.

“Alright, what’s the scam, Deadboy?” He asked. “We aren’t exactly friends.”

“I have my reasons.” Angel said, looking at Buffy. “I’ll go tell everyone he’s awake.” He walked out, leaving the two alone.

“I really don’t get that guy.” Buffy muttered.

“You and me both.” Xander agreed. “Now, about that date…”

“Get out of hospital first.” Buffy said with a smile. “Then we’ll sort that out.”

“Bring on the discharge papers.” Xander said eagerly. Buffy laughed.

“Beaten to a pulp and still making jokes?” Buffy observed. “If that doesn’t change you, Xander, nothing will.”

“That, dear lady, is a compliment.”

Xander’s awake, what’s with his mother?

Chapter 12

The finally let Xander out of the hospital two days later to find his mother had, somehow, bought the mansion on Crawford Street and moved all their stuff in. “There are rooms downstairs for you to use.” She said as they rolled up the ramp the gang had built for him. “And no more basement.”

“Cool.” Xander had said cheerfully. “That washing machine was keeping me up.” It hadn’t taken Xander too long to get used to the idea. After all, he spent most of his time in doors.

Buffy was there every day before school and after school, as well as before and after patrol. In fact, it was making Faith a touch jealous.

“C’mon, B. It’s not like he’s going anywhere.” Faith said as they finished patrol one night. “Just come to the Bronze with me and Willow . One night. I’m sure he can survive.”

“I’m worried that’s all.” Buffy said, starting off. Faith grabbed her by the arm and dragged her towards the Bronze.

“No you don’t.” She muttered. “You are getting a night off. Come on. He’s mother can take care of him.”

“But…”

“Move it sis.” That had ended that argument as Faith dragged her to the club. It was even getting on Willow ’s nerves.

“It’s bad, Xand.” She told him one night during Buffy’s patrol. “I mean, not that wanting to check on you is a bad thing, but everything else seems to go out the window in Buffy’s case. We’re worried.” Xander nodded. He had noticed Buffy’s rather over protective behaviour when it came to him. To be honest, it worried him too. The petite blonde was too important to him for her to waste her life worrying over his health.

“I’ll talk to her, Wills.” Xander told her. “Maybe I can talk some sense into her.”

The next day after school, Buffy walked in on one of Xander’s physio sessions.

“How’s he doing, doc?” She asked as she walked in. The physiotherapist looked over at her.

“All things considered, rather well.” She said. “It’s uncanny, but I’d almost think his back is healing.”

“Maybe it wasn’t as bad as everyone seems to think.” Xander panted.

“Aw, are you tired?” Buffy teased.

“Very funny.” Xander drawled. The physio shook her head.

“I guess that’s my cue to leave.” She said, packing her equipment. “I’ve learnt better than to expect him to work after you’ve walked in, Buffy.”

“Thanks doc.” Xander called as she left, then looked down at his still useless legs. “I just wish she’d remember to help me back into my chair.” He muttered as he shuffled over to the wheelchair.

“Probably expects me to help.” Buffy said with a shrug as she wheeled it the rest of the way. She went to help him up.

“No.” Xander said firmly. “I gotta do this myself.” Buffy nodded and stepped back, letting him slowly get into the chair. “Piece of cake.”

“You want a treat?” Buffy teased.

“You’re just a barrel of laughs.” Xander muttered.

“Is something wrong?” She asked, slightly worried. Xander sighed. Best get this over with.

“I had a talk to Willow last night while you were on patrol.” He began.

“Oh boy, here we go.” Buffy muttered. “Mom’s already gone over this with me, Xand, and I still don’t see a problem.”

“How much sleep have you been getting?” Xander said suddenly.

“I don’t…”

“You’ve got bags under your eyes like you wouldn’t believe.” He told her. “I don’t mind the visits, Buff. Truth is, seeing you has been the high light of my rather boring days. But I can’t let you neglect your duty as the Slayer or your health. I’m worried about you now, Buffy. You need some rest. You need a break. Mom can handle looking after me. You need to take care of yourself. Okay?”

“Xander you don’t understand.” Buffy exploded suddenly, tears in her eyes. “This is my fault! You wouldn’t be stuck in that thing if I hadn’t asked you to stay the night. Now, chances are you’ll never walk again. I know, everyone’s been telling me it’s not my fault, but I can’t help myself. I’m partly to blame.” Xander rolled over to her and reached up, gently caressing her cheek.

“That’s what this is about?” Xander asked. “Geez, Buffy, you can’t go blaming yourself. Mark’s a jerk, that’s not your fault. He was drunk, he’d been drinking who knows how long, that’s not you fault either. I could have said no, he might have come after me. There are lots of things that could have happened that probably would have landed me in this predicament eventually. I don’t blame you; mom doesn’t blame you. The only person blaming you is you. Don’t feel guilty over it. Besides, it’s not like it’s someone important. Just me.”

“But you are important.” Buffy whispered. “To me, you’re everything.” She leant over, gently kissing him on the lips. “And I almost lost you.”

“So that’s what this is all about.” Xander said. Buffy nodded, slightly embarrassed. “Buffy, I’m not going anywhere.”

“But Spike…”

“I know about Spike.” Xander told her. “I woke up just as he walked in, and played possum until he left. I know all about the threats. And they don’t bother me.”

“Xander…”

“They don’t bother me, because he doesn’t scare me.” Xander interrupted. “Mom told me something last night after Willow left, something that brings a whole lot of things into doubt, while explaining a whole lot. You may want to sit down, Buff. What I’m about to say is going to change your world.” Buffy looked at him for a moment before walking over to a chair. Xander rolled over to her and took a breath.

“As long as there have been vampires, there’s been the Slayer.” He started. “That much you know. What the Council neglected to tell you, however, is that you and Faith aren’t as alone as they want you to believe. Because as long as there’s been the Slayer, there’s been the Protector, her partner and her guardian. Whether Giles knows this or not, I don’t know, but the higher ups in the Council have been trying to keep the fact buried for centuries.”

“Why?” Buffy asked. What was Xander telling her? “And how did your mother find out if the Council’s been keeping it buried?”

“Why? I don’t know.” Xander answered. “How mom knew about it, however, is simple. She was in the same situation Faith was before she came to Sunnydale. A Potential Slayer raised by an agent of the Powers That Be. He taught her, trained her, and filled her in on a few of the Council’s deeper secrets.”

“Wonder if Doyle ever told Faith?” Buffy mused, her head spinning.

“Who knows?” Xander said with a shrug.

“So, why exactly are you telling me this?”

“There’s a reason I woke up so quickly.” Xander explained. “And why my back seems to be healing. That’s because it is. A Protector has healing abilities way beyond anything the Slayer is capable of.” Buffy gasped, finally putting it all together.

“You’re a Protector?”

“Your Protector actually.” Xander corrected. “That’s why my bodies healing itself. I can’t protect you if I’m cripple.”

“Holy shit.” Buffy muttered. “This is…holy shit.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought.” Buffy jumped to her feet.

“I gotta tell Faith and mom.” She grinned. “And drill Doyle and Giles.” Xander grinned.

“Why don’t you get everyone over here?” He said. “Except Deadboy.”

“It’s daytime.” Buffy said. “Although, I think it’s time for a few truths to be revealed.” She reached into her pocket for her com link. “I just hope Willow can forgive me.”

Willow sat there, trying to wrap her head around what had just been said. She looked over at Mrs Summers. “Is this…?”

“It’s true.” She confirmed. “Well, the bit about Buffy, Faith and myself is, anyway.”

“So is what Xander told you.” Xander’s mother said.

“Why didn’t anyone tell me?” Willow cried suddenly, bursting into tears.

“ Willow , I wanted to, believe me.” Buffy said, moving to her side. “But it’s too dangerous. If this Emperor guy does manage to, somehow, make his way here, it puts everyone in danger. Mom said we had to keep it secret. Unlike us, Palpatine has no morals about how he uses his powers, and will do whatever it takes to enslave Faith and me. That includes hurting anyone we’re close to.” She put an arm around her shoulder. “You forgive me?”

“I suppose.” Willow said slowly. “On one condition.” Buffy looked over at her mother. Joyce smiled.

“We’ll see.” Joyce said. “Not everyone can learn how to use the Force.”

“How’d you…”

“It wasn’t too hard.” Buffy said. “Believe me.”

“Unbelievable.” Giles muttered for the third time. “Absolutely unbelievable.”

“You alright, G-Man?” Faith asked. “Or are you going to dissolve into hysterics too?”

“What? Oh no, of course not.” Giles put his glasses back on. “I suspected the two of you were different from other Slayers…”

“Just not this different, eh, Rupert?” Doyle said.

“This is far and away the most amazing story I’ve ever heard.” Giles said. “And what Xander and his mother told us.” He looked over at them. “I assure you I had no idea. Though I would like to talk to the person who raised you, Mrs Harris.”

“You and me both, Mr Giles.” She said. “I haven’t seen him in years. And please, call me Sarah. I want nothing to do with the monster who…”

“I understand.” Giles said.

“And as for a chat with the person who raised you, I think I can arrange that.” The group turned to the front door. “How ya doin’, kid?”

“Whistler?” Sarah breathed, staring at the man as he walked in. “What…? How…?”

“The Bosses sent me around to see how thing’s’re doin’.” He said. “Sorry I haven’t been around too often. Bein’ a Messenger for the Powers That Be takes a lot of time and energy. I swear if I’d know what that pig was doin’…”

“It’s okay, Whistler.” Sarah said. “Mark’s going to jail. Even if he wasn’t, Angel had a chat to him.” Whistler grinned.

“Knew that guy was good for somethin’.” He muttered. He looked over at Doyle. “Doyle.”

“Whistler.” The half Brachan demon replied. “Been a while.”

“Yeah, it has.”  Whistler’s glance changed targets once more, this time to Faith. “You’ve grown. Last time I saw ya, you were just a baby.”

“You knew me when I was a kid?” Faith asked.

“I was with the Warrior that reclaimed ya from yer kidnappers.” Whistler said. “And before anyone starts yellin’, I was under orders ta leaver her with Doyle. Besides that, I didn’t know who she belonged to. If I even had a suspicion she was yours, Janelle, I would’a brought straight to ya, orders or not.” Joyce a sharp gasp upon hearing her old name.

“Thank you.” She managed to say. “And it’s Joyce now, please.”

“Gotcha.” Whistler said. He looked over at Buffy and Xander. “Geez, could you two stop glowin’ a minute? I didn’t bring any sunglasses.”

“You notice that too?” Faith asked. “I thought I was going insane.” Willow looked over at her.

“You too?” She gasped.

“You aren’t the only ones.” Joyce admitted.

“Same here.” Sarah said. “And I’ve had to look at it like it was nothing nearly twenty-four-seven.”

“What are you guys on about?” Buffy asked. “Or do we not want to know?”

“Sorry kid.” Whistler said. “Anyone with even a potential for the mystical can see the glow that surrounds a Slayer and her Protector. Guess that includes the Force.” Buffy chanced a glance at Giles, who nodded.

“No wonder people have been squinting at us lately.” Xander said. “But when did it start?”

“After Buffy’s run in with Spike’s fledgling a little over a week ago.” Joyce said.

“Cool. We’re glow in the dark.” Buffy quipped.

“Yeah. Who needs a torch?” Xander agreed.

“You two.” Whistler said with a grin. One thing’s for sure, there was no pair on earth like them. “You can’t see your own glow.” He copped a pair of withering glances.

“Duh.” The duo said.

“Wait a minute. This means I have to share Buffy with Xander?” Faith said suddenly. “That sucks. No way am I sharing my sister.”

“Sorry, F.” Buffy said. “Looks like we don’t have a choice.” A thought occurred. “You wouldn’t happen to know who Faith’s Protector is, would you?”

“Sorry, kid. It’s not that easy.” Whistler said apologetically. “They have to figure it out for themselves. And no, it’s not Angel.” Buffy breathed a sigh of relief.

“Damn.” Faith muttered jokingly.

“Not funny.” Buffy muttered darkly. “So, anything else?”

“That’s about it.” He said. “Oh yeah, a little reassurance. Angel is most definitely one of the good guys. You can trust him.”

“You’ll excuse me if I don’t hold you to that.” Buffy said. Whistler shrugged.

“Your choice.” He said. “Just don’t write him off entirely. You’ve all got you’re jobs, him included. You need him, believe me.”

“I’ll trust him.” Buffy said hesitantly. “Just don’t expect me to invite him in any time soon.”

“That’s all we can ask for.” Whistler said. “So, is there anything to eat or drink around here?”

“I’ll see what I can find.” Sarah said, getting to her feet. “We have a lot of catching up to do.” Whistler grinned.

“You said it, kid.” He said, following her to the kitchen. “What made ya hook up with Harris anyway? Didn’t I give ya any taste at all?”

“At least, not his taste in clothes.” Buffy said cheekily.

“Thankfully.” Faith agreed.

“Hey!”

Chapter 13

Buffy walked down the street, bored out of her mind.

“Look at it this way.” Xander’s thought’s echoed through her mind. “At least you have someone to talk to.”

“Would you not do that?” Faith ordered. “My sister. Stay out.”

“Guy’s, no fighting.” Buffy pleaded. “Especially not in my brain.”

“Sorry.” They mumbled. Buffy shook her head. She didn’t understand why Faith was having so much difficulty with this Protector thing. All right, maybe she could understand, but still, there was plenty of Buffy to go around.

“Not enough.” Faith muttered. Buffy sighed, frustrated. She didn’t realise Faith would get so jealous.

“Well, well.” That familiar British voice grated across her nerves. “This must be my lucky night.” Buffy turned to face Spike. Hanging off his arm was a darkhaired woman.

“She’s glowing.” The woman tittered madly. “Like a bright star. So pretty.”

“You must be Dru.” Buffy concluded. “Angel said you were mad, but he didn’t say how bad it was. He really must have done a number on you.” Dru giggled.

“He hurt me.” She said. “But then he made it all better. Like Spike’s going to do to you. So much blood.” Another mad fit of giggles. “So much chaos. So much fun. Ms Edith will like you.” Buffy stared at her. She really was insane.

“So what now?” Buffy asked. “Do we fight, or are you just trying to make me feel sorry for your girlfriend over there?” Dru giggled again.

“She’s funny.” She whispered, just loud enough for Buffy to hear. “I say we take her now. While she’s all alone.” The mad vampire giggled.

“Right you are pet.” Spike said, signalling. A gang of vampires came out of the shadows, surrounding her.

“Are you scared of me or something, Spike?” Buffy asked. “’Cause you seem to be using others to do your dirty work.” She reached under her jacket and pulled out her lightsaber, igniting its purple blade.

“Oh.” Dru breathed. “Pretty.”

“I don’t usually use this on vamps.” She said as Spike’s minions started to close in. “You guys should feel privileged.” She glanced around. They’re too many for her to take. Time to even the odds, she thought, embracing the Force.

She held her hand out, sending half of them flying. She turned to face the others, lightsaber ready. She charged forward, slicing necks and chest.

“So powerful.” Dru whispered. “She will bring Daddy back to us. Then we’ll be one big, happy family, like we were supposed to be. The Soul Eater will be the event that brings us together.”

“That’s all I needed to hear.” Spike said, signalling again. The vampires backed off, melting back into the shadows.

“Do we finally get to dance, Spike?” Buffy sneered. “That’s one fight I’m really looking forward to.”

“You an’ me both, luv.” Spike said. “’Cause that’s the fight that’s goin’ to make you mine.” With that, he and Dru walked off. Buffy took a breath, dousing her lightsaber. She pulled her comlink out.

“Giles, you awake?”

“Of course.” The watchers voice crackled over the link. “Is something wrong?”

“What do we know about a soul eater?”

The Watcher sat in the bushes. None of them had realised how different this one really was, and her sister would probably be the same. He waited for Buffy to leave before leaving his hiding place. Mr Travers would want to know about this.

“Going somewhere?” A voice asked. The Watcher turned, only to have a blade slice against his throat. “I won’t let you interfere.”

“Dru?” Spike’s voice rang out. “Where are you, luv?” Dru dropped the knife and walked out of the bushes.

“Thought I saw something.” She said dizzily. “Just a stinky little rat.”

“Never mind, luv.” Spike said. “Soon, we’ll have everything you ever wanted.” Spike didn’t see the smile that spread across his Sire’s face. Yes, she thought. Soon.

“Anything?” Buffy asked as she walked into the Library.

“Uh, no.” Giles said. “Not yet. It would help if you had something else.”

“Sorry.” Buffy said. “What we got came from Dru’s insanity, so might not be anything.”

“You saw Dru?” Angel asked. Buffy looked over at him. He still gave her the creeps, especially now she’d seen Dru.

“You really put that girl through the ringer, didn’t you?” She accused.

“Angelus did.” Angel corrected her.

“Angelus, Angel, what’s the difference?” Buffy demanded.

“Easy, Buff.” Xander whispered in her mind. “Remember, he’s one of the good guys.” Buffy took a breath. Right.

“Sorry.” Buffy apologised. “I just saw what had happened to her, and…”

“I understand.” Angel said. “Not one of my proudest moments. Just don’t write her insane utterings off entirely. Remember, she’s a seer. She may have seen something.”

“Okay then.” Faith said, stepping in. “We’ll look into this ‘Soul Eater’ thing.” Buffy nodded. An idea occurred to her.

“Angel, see if you can corner Dru alone.” She suggested. “From what I heard, there are three reasons she’s going ahead with all this. One; she can ‘see’ the carnage I’d cause as a vamp and thinks it’ll be fun,” No one said a word at that, but it was by silent agreement that no one would let that happens. “two; she’s completely insane…”

“No arguments there.” Angel muttered sadly.

“And three;” Buffy continued. “she’s under the impression that I will, somehow, bring her ‘Daddy’ back to her. You, right?” Angel nodded, slightly taken aback by that comment. “She thinks your Gods gift to vampires, so maybe you can get some info out of her.”

“Most vampires feel some kind of loyalty to their Sire.” Angel explained. “Dru always took it to the extreme, though.”

“Nothing’s changed.” Buffy said. “Funny thing is she seemed to want me to hear some of that.” Angel looked at her strangely.

“Careful, B.” Faith said. “She could be leading you into a trap.”

“I know, Faith.” Buffy said. “I’m not going in there alone, once we figure out what’s going on.” Giles moved into the office to answer the ringing phone as the conversation continued. No one deserved to go through this, especially not those children. He vowed to make sure they wouldn’t, ever, have to go through any tests for the Council.

“Hello?”

“Rupert, it’s Joyce.” Her voice sounded slightly worried. “Has anything happened to Buffy tonight?”

“Well, she had a run in with Spike and his paramour, but nothing dangerous.” Giles assured her.

“Don’t be so sure.” She said. “Doyle just got a message from the Powers. Something’s going down, some kind of robbery at the museum. She gets seriously injured trying to stop it.”

“Did he see what gets stolen?” Giles asked. “It may be important.”

“A long box of some sort.” He was told.

“I’ll let her know to be careful, but she’ll still get involved.”

“I know, just take care of her.”

“I will.” Giles hung up and walked out of the office. “Where’s Buffy?”

“She’s going by Xander’s house, then heading home.” Faith said. “Problem?”

“Quite…” He stopped as his eyes fell on an open book. “Oh dear God.”

“Uh oh.” Willow said. “Major problems.”

“And getting more major by the second.” Faith said. “Giles, what gives?”

“Your mother called.” Giles said, grabbing his coat. “Apparently, Buffy’s going to get seriously injured in a fight at the museum. Someone stealing some kind of box. Unfortunately, it matches this.” He threw the book down in front of them.

“The Judge?” Faith asked. She read a passage. “Soul Eater.” She said. Angel and Willow got into gear and the four of them left soon after.

Xander sat looking out the front window. Buffy was coming over for a little while. A good thing on any night, but her run in with Spike and Dru had her really up tight. Xander was hoping he could…

He stiffened in his chair as a feeling of dread washed over him. His Slayer was in trouble. He looked around for his mother before getting to his feet and sneaking out of the house. Buffy was in trouble and he had to help her.

Buffy walked along, thinking. One of the things her mom had taught her was the ability to read people, and what she read of Dru wasn’t insanity. At least, not total insanity.

“It’s you.” Buffy spun to face Dru, on her own. Spike was nowhere in sight. “I knew you’d be here.”

“Drop the act.” Buffy said. “I don’t buy it. You’re nowhere as insane as you act.” Dru’s face took a sharpness of mind that better suited her.

“You are good.” The vampire said, no hint of her supposed insanity. “I knew you were special, but this…not even Spike, or Angelus for that matter, saw past my act.”

“You really were giving me hints.” Buffy said. Dru nodded.

“You’re special.” Dru said again. “And important. You’re the only way Angel and I are going to be together the way we’re supposed to be, not the way we were, or the way Spike believes. All this was a means to an end, and that end is coming. Beware the Judge.”

“The what?” Buffy asked.

“You’ll see.” The vampire said cryptically. “But be careful. You’re in danger, tonight especially. If you survive tonight, and I’m sure you will, everything else will fall into place.” She turned and began to walk away. “Tell no one what happened here. I want to keep this a secret as long as possible.” Before Buffy could answer, Dru was gone.

“I won’t tell anyone.”  Buffy muttered. “Just don’t you cross me.”

As Buffy made her way past the museum, she noticed a truck parked at the alley at the back.  She made her way carefully around the truck to find several vampires loading a long box into the truck. “Since when have vamps been interested in history?” She asked, getting her attention. She had a really bad feeling about this.

“I’ve been waiting for you.” A figure stepped out of the shadows.

“Well, well. Spike’s butt cleaner.” Buffy quipped, recognising the shooter from her and Spike’s first meeting. “What a surprise. Spike isn’t exactly known for his kindness, especially when you fail him.”

“I got a second chance.” Finn said. “I deliver the box, I get immortality. You’ll just be the icing on the cake.”

“You actually want to be a vampire?” Buffy asked disgustedly. “Sick, sad and totally disgusting. You need to get a life.”

“Or an unlife.” Finn said, signalling the vamps to attack. Buffy dropped into a fighting stance. There were more than she thought. Definitely in over my head, she thought. Then she felt it. A strange, yet familiar, rush.

“Stay away from her.” Xander growled, leaping down from on top of the truck.

“Xander?” Buffy asked incredulously. “You’re walking? How?”

“You need me, I’m there.” Her Protector said. “No matter what.”

“How touching.” Finn said, signalling the vamps forward. Buffy couldn’t stop the grin spreading across her face.

“Shall we?” She asked.

“Let’s.” The duo charged forwards in a combination of martial arts and Force waves, slicing through the vampires like they were nothing as the true power of the Slayer and her Protector was finally realized. To the mystically inclined, the glow around the two became blinding. When it was over, only Finn remained.

“What the hell?” He muttered as he ran. “I don’t know how those two got that strong, but Spike’s going to want to know.”

“Chicken.” Buffy muttered.

“Totally.” Xander said from behind her, wrapping his arms around her. Buffy leaned back into him.

“I still can’t believe you’re up.” She said. “When I saw you earlier, you still had ages to go. What happened?”

“I don’t know.” Xander admitted. “I just had this feeling you were in trouble, so I got up. It didn’t occur to me that I shouldn’t be able to, it just happened.”

“No complaints from me.” Buffy said. Her eyes were drawn to the box. “Wonder what’s inside.”

“Let’s find out.” The two bent over the box, broke the lock and lifted the lid.

“Oh, gross. Eww much?” Buffy groaned. Inside the box was an arm. “And did I say yuck?”

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” Xander muttered.

“You too?” Buffy asked, slightly surprised. “This deal keeps getting better.” She looked back at the truck. “Faith’s coming. I’m guessing they found something.” Xander grinned.

“There’s serious potential in this scenario.” He said as Faith and the others rounded the corner.

“Behave.” Buffy ordered.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Buffy, are you…” Faith stopped when she saw Xander bending over her sister’s shoulder. “Xander?”

“’Buffy are you Xander’?” The Protector quipped. “That’s just weird, Faith.” Buffy turned and gave Xander The Look. “Sorry.”

“Xander…how…” Willow tried to ask, but even babble mode was failing her. Xander grinned, understanding.

“Buffy needed me.” He said with a shrug. “Not snow, nor sleet, nor broken back will stop me from helping my Slayer.”

“And besides that, I needed a gross out partner.” Buffy gestured to the box. The Giles, Angel, Willow and Faith had a look.

“Oh…” Willow turned away, trying to stop her dinner from coming up.

“Holy shit.” Faith muttered.

“Oh my…” Giles agreed. Angel stood there, looking at the limb.

“The Judge.” He muttered.

“Yeah.” Faith agreed, remembering the book she had read quickly. “Or part of, at least. Not good.”

“What’s this judge thing?” Buffy asked, remembering Dru’s warning.

“That Soul Eater you heard about.” Faith told her. Buffy stiffened.

“The Soul Eater will be the event that brings us together.”

“This is what Dru was talking about?” Buffy said. “An arm? Are we sure this isn’t just the utterings of the insane?” She kept her face completely straight. The less people knew about Dru, the better. At least until Buffy figured out how far she could be trusted.

“I’m afraid it’s a bit worse than that.” Giles said. “If Spike and Dru can assemble all five pieces…”

“Game Over?” Xander asked.

“Well, yes.” Giles nodded. “Basically. The Judge is unlike anything we’ve face before. It cannot be killed by any means. The only way it was defeated last time was total disembodiment.”

“The whole ‘limb in a box’ thing?” Faith asked.

“Yes.” Giles answered. “If the five limbs can be reassembled, the Judge will rise.”

“Alright, we need to get rid of this.” Buffy said with a sigh. “So much for our birthday, huh, Faith?”

“Bummer.” Faith said. “I was hoping for a night off.”

“You still would have had to deal with the Council’s test.” Giles reminded them. “Besides, we still have two weeks.”

“Two weeks to stop them from ending the world?” Buffy said. “Well, we’ve had less time than that. It shouldn’t be too hard.”

“Um, no offence, Buff, but don’t you have to take that drug so Giles doesn’t lose his job?” Xander reminded them, still fuming at the lengths his Slayer had to go to protect her sister, while at the same time wondering exactly when she became ‘his Slayer’.

“I know.” Buffy said. “Wills is working on that. Right, Willow ?” The red head nodded.

“I think I’ve found something on those discs.” The red head said. “If I’m right, we may be able to find what we need to counter act the drug on the night.”

“Besides, we’re not exactly powerless.” Faith reminded him.

“And you’ll be there, right?” Buffy asked. Xander nodded.

“Like hell I’m letting you go in alone.” He said.

“We still have the Judge to deal with.” Angel reminded them.

“Don’t worry.” Buffy said. “I have an idea.”

Dru watched the group walk off, the Judge’s arm in their possession. They were skilled; there were no doubts about that. Resourceful too. What they lacked in experience and power they more than made up for in teamwork. But that power lack would end soon. Dru looked at Angel, taking the rear with Buffy’s Protector, Xander. “Soon.” She whispered.

Chapter 14

“I can’t believe you screwed up! Again!” Spike yelled.

“There’s something different about her.” Finn said. “And that guy that showed up. They sliced through the vampires you sent with me like they were nothing.”

“Your tellin’ me that twenty vampires couldn’t handle one Slayer, no matter what she’s capable of, and the Grand bloody Poof?” Spike demanded, ready to break Finn’s neck.

“It wasn’t Angel.” Finn said. “Some other guy, about six foot, dark hair. She seemed surprised to see him.” Spike thought about the description.

“The vegetable?” He said suddenly. “That’s impossible. That guy got beaten into a coma by ‘is father! How the bloody hell could he help take down twenty vampires?”

“I only know what I saw.” Finn said. Spike growled. If he didn’t have his uses…

“Watch ‘im.” He ordered. “I want to know everything there is to know about this guy. I don’t like surprises.”

“So, any reason you asked me to come along instead of Angel?” Willow asked nervously.

“Deadboy’s gone looking for Dru.” Faith told her. It had been a week since they found out about the Judge. They now had two pieces in their possession. It didn’t help that Giles had been forced to start the injections for the Cruciamentum, but Jedi training was filling in the gaps. So far. “Besides, you need to get out more. You spend way too much time hunched over that computer.”

“But that’s the only way I can help.” Willow said defensively.

“Bull.” Faith said. “Mom said your picking up the training well. You just need to learn to relax, focus. Can’t be done bent over the computer.”

“I suppose.” Willow said. “Doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with patrolling with you.”

“You’ll do fine, Red.” Faith assured her. “Just…” The gang of vampires that came out of a nearby alley interrupted their conversation. “B’s right.” Faith commented. “These guys really are dumb.”

“I wouldn’t say that, pet.” Spike said as he walked out. “I thought it’d nice if I showed that sister of yours I mean business. Sending you two to the morgue should do the trick.”

“Spike.” Faith spat. “What’s going to take for you to get it through your thick skull? You aren’t getting your hands on my sister.”

“That’s Spike?” Willow asked nervously.

“Yeah, that’s Sunnydale’s resident Billy Idol wannabe.” Faith said dryly.

“Hey!” Spike said. “Get it straight, chit. ‘E copied me.” Faith rolled her eyes.

“Whatever.” She said. “Can we just get this over with?”

“Right you are, pet.” Spike growled. “Get ‘er! Concentrate on the Slayer.” The Vampires moved forward, ignoring Willow . Willow watched as the vamps closed in on her friend. There was no way Faith could handle that many vampires. She had to help somehow, but what could she do.

She remembered the night Darla had turned Jesse, the night she had lost one of her best friends. She could not let that happen again.

Power rushed through her as she charged forward, ripping through the vamps that surrounded Faith. Spike watched shocked, as a light sprang around the two, stared, horrified, as they dusted every single vamp he threw at them, until only he was left.

“You were saying, blondie?” Faith sneered.

“That’s kind of an insult to Buffy.” Willow said, more confident than she had been. She’d staked at least three vamps on her own, how she didn’t know.

“So, let’s get rid of the insult, shall we?” Faith said with an evil grin. Spike took one more look at the glowing duo and ran like hell. “Chicken.”

“You said it.” Willow said, looking at her hands. “How’d I do that? No, on second thoughts, I don’t want to know. The answer’s impossible.”

“You never know.” Faith said. “But there’s one way to find out. C’mon.”

Buffy and Xander had decided to take a quick break from patrol for some…private time. This is how Faith and Willow found them, connected at the lips.

“I think the idea of patrol is to hunt vampires.” Faith said. “Not play tonsil hockey.” Buffy and Xander jumped, falling off the headstone they were sitting on. “Graceful, sis.”

“Very funny, Faith.” Buffy muttered. “What are you…?” The words disappeared from her mind when she saw the glow surrounding her sister and Willow . “Holy…Xander!”

“What?” The Protector said, getting to his knees. “What’s all the…?” He, too, stopped mid sentence. “Oh boy.”

“Guess that solves that problem.” Buffy said with a grin. “At least its someone we know.”

“Um, excuse me?” Willow piped up. “Translation, please?”

“You guys are glowing something fierce.” Xander said. “Now I know how you felt.”

“Oh.” Willow said. Faith draped an arm around the girl.

“Looks like I’ve finally got a sparring partner.” She said.

“In the non prison sense, I hope.” Willow said weakly. Faith laughed at the girl.

“Ah, c’mon, Red.” She said. “I’m kinda glad it’s you. I needed a sidekick of my own and at least your experienced.”

“I guess.” Willow said hesitantly. “Are we sure someone didn’t make a mistake?”

“You kiddin’ me?” Faith asked. “After the way you ripped through those vamps? Man, even I was frightened. In a good way.” She added quickly, noticing Willow ’s crestfallen look. I didn’t mean to insult her, she thought.

“You didn’t insult me, Faith.” Willow said. “You just…” She noticed Buffy and Xander’s grins. “What?”

“Faith didn’t say anything.” Buffy said.

“But…” Willow looked over at the Slayer.

“Ah, nuts. There goes what little privacy I had left.” Willows eyes bulged. She was hearing Faith’s thoughts.

“Excuse me, Ms Slayer, but I can keep my thoughts to myself, unlike you.” Willow thought.

“Ah, nuts.” Faith said out loud. Buffy and Xander doubled over with laughter.

Dru observed the happenings using her Sight. She smiled. Yes, the four teens had melded into more of a team than she had seen in her long life. Now that the Protectors had awakened, her plans could truly go ahead. “Soon, my Angel. Soon.”

“I, uh, I see you found Faith’s Protector.” Giles said as the four glowing teens walked in, Buffy and Xander to a lesser extent to the newly joined team.

“I’m going to wear sunglasses until they get that under control.” Buffy muttered.

“Relax, B. It’ll fade. Eventually.” Faith sent.

“Do you think we should try to deaden the glow ourselves?” Willow asked mentally. Buffy stared suddenly. She could hear Wills through Faith!

“Nah. Let ‘em suffer.” Faith sent wickedly.

“I don’t know…” Willow began. Buffy finally had to say something.

“It’d be appreciated.” She sent, slightly agitated.

“Now you know how I felt.” Faith sent. “After everything we went through to find each other, now we have to share. And you thought I was being unfair.”

“So that’s what that was about.” Xander entered the conversation.

“Hey!” Willow almost shouted. “My Slayer. You’ve got your own.”

“You can talk.” Xander shot.

“Guys, settle down. My head’s about to explode.” Buffy begged. “Hoo boy, this is getting complicated. Okay, obviously we can hear each other through the various links we have running. I doesn’t mean we get any less of each other, so keep the jealous rampages through my brain to a minimum.”

“Amen.” Faith agreed. She looked over at Giles. “G-Man looks a might confused.” They all looked over at the Watcher.

“Sorry, Giles.” Buffy said. “We’re just getting used to the four way link.”

“And overcoming the bouts of jealousy over sharing our Slayer/sister.” Faith explained.

“Oh.” Giles said. “I don’t think I’m going to get used to this.”

“Used to what?” Angel said walking through the door. He squinted as he looked at Faith and Willow . “Oh. That. Well, that’s that mystery solved.”

“I take it you couldn’t find Dru.” Buffy said.

“Spike’s keeping her indoors.” Angel explained. “I couldn’t find hide or hair of her.”

“Couldn’t you find where she is?” Faith asked. “I mean, aren’t Sires and their Children supposed to have some sort of link?” Willow nodded.

“Yeah.” She said. “I’ve read how some hunters use a Child to lead them to their Sire. It usually worked.”

“Unless the Child in question is insane.” Angel said darkly. “I know the trick. Dru was crazy enough to see through it and lead them into a trap of some kind.” You mean intelligent Deadboy, Buffy thought in a shielded section of her mind. She’s not as crazy as you think. “But yeah, I think that might work. We still have to get rid of those.” He looked over at the Judge pieces.

“Unlax, Deadboy.” Faith said. “Mom’s got it. We’re going to dump them in outer space once we’ve got all the pieces.”

“A few clicks through hyper space, then drop a bit.” Buffy explained. “If anyone can gather them after that, they deserve them.”

“Can we come?” Willow asked enthusiastically. “Please?”

“We’ll see.” Buffy said.

“Um, not to bring a pall over the proceedings, but…” Giles held up a pair of syringes. The twin slayers groaned.

“This sucks.” Faith said, sitting down.

“This isn’t going to…?” Willow asked suddenly.

“Don’t worry, Wills.” Xander reassured her, watching as Buffy sat next to her sister. “I’ve already asked. The only permanent damage is if they get killed, and I for one am not letting that happen.” Willow nodded in agreement, looking over at her Slayer…whoa, when had that happened?

“Alright, but if she gets hurt…” Willow growled.

“Should I be jealous there?” Buffy asked.

“Nah.” Faith said as Giles jabbed her with the needle. “I think it’s a Protector thing. Xander’s the same. And could you be a little more gentle?”

“This is why the Slayers are usually hypnotised.” Giles complained.

“So the total secrecy thing isn’t a factor in that bit?” Xander asked innocently.

“Well, there is that.” Giles admitted moving over to Buffy.

“I swear, I’m shoving one of these things up Travers’…” She started, before yelping in pain as Giles stabbed the needle in. “How long are those needles?” Giles gave her a withering look.

“I cannot understand how a girl who has cheated death more times than I care to remember can be so afraid of needles.” He said.

“I don’t like hospitals or anything associated with them.” Buffy said sulkily. “Needles hold a special place in that list of ‘things that get shoved up the keister’.” Xander stood and moved behind her, massaging her shoulders.

“Down, girl.” He muttered.

“Keep that up and you’ll be saying that for a different reason.” She muttered back.

“B, could you not.” Faith said, getting to her feet. She noticed Willow at her side almost immediately.

“Get used to it, Faith.” Buffy said. “It’ll last at least until your glow dies down a bit. Unless…” She smiled up at Xander, who rolled his eyes.

“Buffy!” Willow and Faith said together.

“You need to get your mind out of the gutter, sis.” Faith said.

“I’m not…I mean, I…” Willow babbled, her face going pink.

“I was joking, Wills.” Buffy said. “Although…”

“Would you cut that out?” Giles and Angel said at the same time.

“Now that’s freaky.” Xander said with a mock shudder. “Giles and Angel saying things in sync? Brrr.”

Chapter 15

“How the bloody hell do those bints an’ their pals get to the Judge before we do?” Spike raged. “It just isn’t possible. Anyone’d think they’re the ones with the bloody seer.” Close, Dru thought. Close, but not close enough. Spike moved over to his ‘mad’ sire. “C’mon, Dru, baby. If we’re gonna get Angelus back, and get our fangs into our girl, we need to know what their up to. Where are their pieces?” Yes, Dru thought. Now.

“Miss Edith said they’re hidden where you can see them.” She said dizzily. “Where the Slayers meet on the edge of the mouth, that’s where you’ll find them.”

“The school.” Spike muttered. “They’ve hidden them in the most obvious of places. Of course. Why bloody not?” He growled. “I’m gonna teach that girl some bloody tact when I turn her.”

“Tonight’s the night.” Dru whispered. “Everything comes together. Daddy, Buffy, Spike, Dru. One big happy family we’ll be.”

“Right you are, luv.” Spike agreed. “Right you are.” Dru grinned. Tonight’s the night, indeed. All her visions, all her planning would come to fruition.

“It’s time to go to school.” She giggled.

“Um, guys.” Xander said, coming into the Library. Of the gang only Angel and Giles remained. Buffy had decided to walk home with Faith and Willow , trying to explain what they could expect from the link, while hoping to spend some time with her sister.

“Weren’t you going home?” Angel said. It wasn’t that he didn’t like the boy, it’s that the boy didn’t like him.

“Yeah, well, now there’s an army of vamps between home and me, I think I’ll stay here.” Xander said off handedly.

“I beg you pardon?” Giles asked.

“Bunch of vamps out front.” Xander explained. “Spike’s leading them, and he’s got some chick in a dress that came right out of one of those old Robin Hood movies.”

“Dru.” Angel muttered. “She must have cast some spell to shield herself from me. It’s the only way she could have got this close.”

“I’ve already let Buffy know.” Xander said. “They’ll be here soon. We just have to hold them off.”

“Keeping them out of the school might be an idea, though.” Giles said. “Especially considering…” He looked at the book cage, and the two Judge-pieces looked within.

“Not going to be easy.” Xander muttered. “But I guess we don’t have a choice. C’mon, Deadboy.” Angel walked over, handing him two swords.

“I saw Buffy giving you some lessons.” He said as Xander took the blades. “Figured you might be more comfortable with them.”

“Thanks.” Xander said. “What about you?” Angel hefted a large, double sided axe. “Oh. Well, whatever works. Shall we?” The two warriors headed to the door. “Age before beauty.” Xander said, opening the door. Angel shook his head as he walked out. Giles walked over to the weapons, pulling out a crossbow, some stakes, and a crucifix.

“You won’t need those.” A voice said. Giles turned to see a rather striking woman dressed in a medieval dress. “They won’t make it this far. The Slayers and the red head will arrive soon, then… Then you will see why you’re Council tried to bury knowledge of their link.”

“You’re Druscilla.” Giles said, bring the cross up in front of him. The vampire grinned, but it wasn’t malevolent in any way. It seemed almost…reassuring.

“I’m not going to hurt you.” She said soothingly. “You’ve been helping my darlings. That means your safe from me.”

“I don’t mean to offend, but aren’t you supposed to be…well, barking mad, I suppose?” He asked. The seer shook her head.

“I was never insane.” She told him. “It was an act, all of it leading to this. Tonight, I will be united with my Sire, my true love. The Slayers will be ready for their true destiny.” Not totally insane, Giles thought. Just close to.

“You’ll excuse me if I’m a bit, um…hesitant to believe you.” Giles said. Dru nodded.

“Of course.” She said. “I understand. The things I’ve ‘done’.”

“I get the sneaking suspicion there’s more to your history, and you, then people tell.” The Watcher said.

“Those stories will have to wait.” Dru said. A hum could be heard outside. “It’s begun.”

Xander let out a sigh of relief as a purple blade tore through a vampire. “What took you guys so long?” Buffy grinned.

“Traffic was a killer.” She said, offing another vampire. “Speaking of, I think it’s getting a bit crowded. Faith?” Her sister appeared beside her, facing in the opposite directions. The two teens held their hands out and released the Force, sending the vampires flying back. “Much better.” Her face hardened as Spike stepped forward. “William.” She said coldly.

“I prefer Spike.” He said. “That’s somethin’ else I’ll have to teach you.”

“I’d say I’ll try to remember that, but in about five seconds, that’s not going to matter.” Buffy stared at the vamp that had been the cause of so much trouble.

“Funny thing about that.” Spike said. “You don’t have the strength you used to. I know all about that test the Council’s puttin’ you and your sister through.”

“Didn’t seem to matter when Wills and me kicked your ass earlier.” Faith said, going to move in front of her sister.

“Not this time, Faith.” Buffy said. “It’s time to end this.” She put her lightsaber away. “Here and now.”

“Buffy, I don’t think he’s just going to let you straight to him.” Willow said.

“Red’s got a point.” Spike said. “Get ‘em.”

“Switch to silent.” Buffy said.

“Got it.” Faith confirmed.

“Silent running. Cool.” Xander quipped.

“R-ready.” Willow stuttered.

“Concentrate on getting to Spike. We take him out, we finish this.” Buffy sent.

“Alright, B. Just be careful.” Faith looked around. “I’m not seeing any insane bitches around here.”

“Shit.” Buffy turned to Angel before the vampires hit. “Get inside and find that Child of yours.” I just hope she views Giles as favourably as she seems to me, she thought in that shielded part of her mind. “Here we go. Remember…”

“Nail Spike. We get it, sis.”

“I was going to say leave Spike to me.”

“No way.” Xander interjected. “I don’t care what you say, Buff. This guy’s dangerous. We take him together.”

“Argue later. Dust now.” Willow said as the vamps reached them. The red head found herself amazed at the amount of strength she had gained. Already she had dusted two vamps and was going for her third.

“Looks like Red’s getting the hang of this.” Faith sent.

“Spike looks like he’s about to have kittens.” Xander noticed.

“So, Spike, still think we’re easy?” Buffy asked cheerfully, dusting another vamp.

“Right. That’s it.” The vampire said. “Time to settle this.”

“Amen.” Buffy agreed, making her way towards him. She dusted a couple of vamps on the way before coming face to face.

“Hope you don’t get too mad if I win.” Spike said. Buffy stared at him.

“You aren’t walking away this time, Spike.” She said. “This time, your vacuum fodder.”

“I don’t think so.” Spike said, throwing a vicious right hook. Buffy dodged it easily, remembering her mothers training.

“Act, don’t think. Trust your instincts. Let them guide you. And always trust in the Force.”

Spike growled as Buffy dodged and weaved, anticipating his every move like she knew what he was going to do before he did. But he had been right in one thing. Without her Slayer gifts, she couldn’t keep this up. He wasn’t the only one that realised this.

Xander looked over at the two combatants, having sent the other vamps running. Buffy was tiring, even with her Jedi training, she couldn’t keep this up for long. He had to do something.

“I have to stop this.” He muttered, starting forward.

“We can’t help her.” Faith said, grabbing him by the arm.

“There has to be something we can do.” He muttered, watching as Spike landed his first blow. Faith clenched her fists. She wanted to help, but this was Buffy’s fight. One that, by the looks of things, she was going to loose. C’mon sis, the Slayer thought. You can do this.

“It’s all over pet.” Spike said.

“I’m not giving up.” Buffy panted. “I’ll never be one of you.” Xander grinned.

“Come on, Buff.” He sent. “You can’t let this looser off you. What kind of message would you send your fans?” Buffy grinned at her Protectors voice. “You can do this, Buffy. I know you can. I believe it, we all do.”

“What are you smiling at?” Spike demanded.

“You.” Buffy said. “You think you know me, you know everything I can do? Try this on for size.” Spike found himself flying backwards, hitting the wall behind him hard. The force of his impact as only matched by the impact of Buffy’s fist hitting his jaw.

“Bloody hell!” He roared. Buffy tried not to act too surprised, but it wasn’t easy. That had been near Slayer strength. But how did…? Then it came to her. It was obvious, even before she looked over at him. Xander.

The Protector grinned at her gaze. “You think I was letting you go that easily, girl? I had to do something. Of course, don’t ask me how I did it.”

“Just keep doing it, handsome.” Buffy sent as she charged Spike. For the Master vampire, it was like someone had turned on the sun. The light that stretched between the two was impossible to look at.

“What the hell is this?” He demanded.

“Us kickin’ your butt.” The two said in complete synch.

“O-kay.” Faith muttered. “This is freaky. I can barely tell the difference any more. And what is with that light?”

“This is…” Willow looked at the two. “They’re acting like…their minds are joined somehow.”

“Yeah, Wills, we knew that.”

“No, I mean, completely joined.” Willow explained. “As in, they’re one and the same.” Faith watched on as Buffy delivered a vicious jab to the vampire’s gut.

“You think we’re your property?” Buffy and Xander said at the same time. “Think you can defeat us so easily? You never stood a chance. You lost the day we met. Now, it is time for you to pay for the pain and misery you caused.” Buffy bent down ad scooped up a discarded stake. “It’s time to end you.”

“It’ll take more than some glow to stop me.” Spike said. Buffy and Xander grinned.

“You think this glow’s all we got?” The two said together. “Guess again, Blondie.” Buffy raced forward, stake out. Spike managed to duck around her strike, running straight into her fist. He tried to strike back, but only hit air.

“This is unbelievable.” Willow said. “It’s like, their using the combination of both of their powers. All of it.”

“But what about the crucify-thingy drug.” Faith asked. “Shouldn’t this be Xander’s strength only?”

“They’re by-passing it somehow, it’s the only explanation.” The two girls watched as Buffy drove her knee into Spike’s groin, causing him to double over. “There’s no way this is just Xander’s strength, anymore than it could be just Buffi’s, even if her Slayer powers were active.”

Buffy stood over Spike, stake ready. “Goodbye, Spike.” She said. “It’s been real.” She rammed the wood through his heart, watching him turn to ash. Then, she fainted.

Xander’s was first to her side, with Faith a close second.

“She’s exhausted.” Xander’s said. “We need to get her inside.”

“What about you?” Faith asked as he picked Buffy up.

“She shielded me from her exhaustion.” Xander’s explained, cradling her gently. “Stubborn ass.”

“Watch it, bub.” Buffy muttered. “I’m still awake. Barely.”

“Well, you shouldn’t be.” Xander’s scolded. “Rest.”

“Can’t.” She mumbled. “It isn’t over yet.”

“We’ll take care of it.” Faith said, Willow close behind her. “Just take it easy.” She muttered something before slipping into unconsciousness. “Maybe we should take her home.”

“No.” Xander’s said suddenly. “I can’t explain it, but she wants to be inside in case we find Dru in there.”

“Wouldn’t Angel have taken care of her?” Willow asked.

“I don’t think it’d be necessary.” Xander’s said. Faith nodded.

“You been getting’ those too?” She asked.

“Huh?” Willow .

“Random thoughts, just barely audible.” Xander’s explained. “Something about Dru, but I can’t be sure. What ever it is, she needs to be there.” He turned to the school. “So in we go.”

Chapter 16

Angel had burst into the Library to be greeted with an extraordinary sight.

There was Dru, sitting calmly, chatting to Giles, who seemed perfectly all right, if a little nervous.

“Am I missing something here?” He asked. Dru looked over at him, and he noticed there was something…different, something not quite right.

“How are they going?” Giles asked.

“Well enough.” Angel said.

“Spike and Buffy are fighting.” Dru said suddenly. “Spike’s so confident, so sure. He won’t win, though. There’s a reason for the Slayer’s link to her Protector, and he’s about to experience it first hand.”

“Somehow, I don’t think you’re barracking for Spike.” Angel said. “And how do you know about the Protector’s anyway?”

“You’ll find I know a lot of things.” She answered. Angel stared at her a minute. Then it hit him.

“Your sane.” He said, shocked.

“Almost.” Giles said. “It seems you, or Angelus, didn’t do quite as good a job as you, or he, thought you did.”

“Obviously.” Angel said. “Is there anything else you’ve been hiding?” Dru got to her feet and made her way over to him.

“As a matter of fact…” She muttered, wrapping her arms around him and locking him in a passionate kiss. Angel didn’t fight for long.

“Um, excuse me?” Giles said, trying to make his presence known. “Sorry to interrupt, but, uh, is that such a good idea?” Angel pulled away, reluctantly.

“He’s right.” He said. “The…”

“Curse?” Dru finished. “Don’t worry. I’ve already dealt with that.”

“You…” Angel began, but was interrupted when the gang walked into with Xander’s carrying Buffy gently.

“Did I miss something?” Faith asked.

“Is she alright?” Giles asked.

“Tired.” Xander’s said, eyeing Druiscilla carefully. “I’m guessing that’s Dru?”

“Yes.” Angel said. Dru couldn’t take her eyes off them. The glow between Xander’s and Buffy had finally reached its peak, showing their true power. She couldn’t help but be proud of them, all of them. Her children. “Dru, this is…”

“Faith, Willow , Xander and Buffy.” Dru said. “So many centuries I’ve seen you in dreams, in my visions, yet seeing you in the flesh, for the first time…I can’t help but be proud of you all.”

“Am I missing something here?” Faith asked. “I thought…”

“She was insane?” A tired voice said. “Not as much as she’s led people to believe. She’s just sneaky.” Buffy managed to raise her head a bit. “We wouldn’t have gotten this far if it wasn’t for her, and I still don’t get why she helped us at all.”

“Helped us?” Faith asked, now thoroughly confused. “Someone want to explain?”

“Only briefly.” Dru said. “Buffy needs her rest. She’s more than earned it. Keeping our secret has been hard on her.” Everyone looked at her.

“Secret?” Xander’s asked, hurt.

“Had to, Xand.” Buffy said. “Didn’t want to, but if we were going to survive this, I had to. And not just for Dru’s sake.” She looked over at Faith. “I got a visit. From mom’s Jedi master. He told me she was on the level.”

“But isn’t he supposed to be dead?” Faith asked, more than hurt. How could Buffy keep a secret like this from her?

“Jedi don’t die.” Buffy said. “They merely become one with the Force. Master Windu has been guiding things since he first found earth over thirty years ago. He’s the one that asked Dru to look after mom, and us.” Dru gasped.

“The Traveller.” She muttered. “I didn’t know he was this involved.”

“I think we should save the stories for tomorrow.” Angel said. “Buffy needs some rest.”

“’M fine.” The Slayer said. Dru walked up to her and placed her hand on Buffi’s forehead.

“Rest, dear one.” She whispered. “You will need your strength for the days ahead. Rest. Sleep.” Buffy mumbled an argument before drifting into unconsciousness.

“What’d you…?” Faith began.

“No.” Angel said firmly. “Take Buffy home and get her into bed. We’ll talk tomorrow night. No arguments,” He finished as Faith opened her mouth. “or I let Dru do the same to you. Understand?” Faith’s mouth snapped shut, and she nodded. “Good. Go.” The four filed out, Faith giving the vampires real dirty ‘I’d better get some answers’ looks. Angel shook his head. “Those four.” He muttered.

“I’d be careful if I were you, Angel.” Giles said. “You’re sounding like a grown up.” Angel grunted.

“You’re the father figure round here, Rupert.” He said. “I just back them up.”

“Over protective big brother?” Dru suggested.

“Funny.” He muttered. “Now, what did you mean when you said you’d dealt with the curse?” Dru giggled.

“Gypsy’s are so very gullible.” She said. “Tell them one thing and they’ll believe it instantly. There was never a clause.” Angel’s jaw dropped. “I traded the spell they were going to use with one that gave you your soul, permanently. It’s similar to the one I used to keep my soul tied to my body when Angelus turned me.” Angel tried to speak, but no words were coming out. “Proud of me?”

“Amazing.” He muttered, trying to wrap his head around it all. “How long has this been in the works?”

“Longer than we’ve know each other.” She said. “Since I was about…five?”

“Good God.” Giles muttered. “I can’t believe it. How does one so young plan something like this?”

“I’ll tell you tomorrow.” Dru said. “You need rest as well.” Giles nodded. “We’ll see you tomorrow night.” With that, she and Angel left, leaving a rather stunned Giles in their wake. There was definitely more to this group than meets the eye. He sighed. I need another drink. Good thing it’s not a school night.

 

Casa de la Summers

“I can’t believe she kept this from us.” Faith fumed.

“I’m sure she had her reasons.” Willow said, trying to calm the Slayer down. “She did mention that Windy guy…”

“Windu?” Joyce said suddenly. Couldn’t be. “Mace Windu?”

“Not sure.” Xander said. “She just said your old master had told her to trust Dru in a dream, called him Master Windu.”

“That’s not possible.” Joyce muttered. “I never even told her his name.”

“Then how’d she know it?” Faith asked. “Unless…”

“It was actually him.” Joyce whispered.

“Wow.” Willow gasped. “That’s…wow. I mean, this is…”

“Extremely Hellmouthy.” Faith finished. “I’m sorry, mom, but this is a bit of a coincidence. Think about it, Dru shows up, trying to convince B to trust her. Then she has this dream about your old master telling her to trust Dru. I’m sorry, but I don’t like it.”

“I knew you wouldn’t.” A voice said suddenly. “That’s the other reason I didn’t tell anyone.”

“Buffy, you should be resting.” Joyce said, moving to her daughter’s side.

“I know, but I couldn’t just lay down and sleep without some sort of explanation.” Buffy explained. She looked over at Faith, then Xander. “I owe that much at least.” She let her mother guide her to a chair, her eyes never leaving her Protectors face. She took a breath. “Okay, before I start, any questions?”

“How long?” Faith asked. Her voice was hard and accusing and it took all Buffy had not to flinch. She suddenly wished she could turn back time and correct this.

“’Bout a week.” She said. “I figured it out on the night Xander started walking.”

“Why?” Faith asked again. Xander could see, could feel, Buffy’s distress over Faith’s harshness, and the block she had erected between the two. He understood Faith’s feelings, but this was getting too much for him.

“Master Windu.” Buffy said simply. “It was the same night. I was exhausted, still getting used to the whole Slayer/Protector link. Xander’s body had used a hell of a lot of energy getting him back to full health in the one night, and I was feeling the effects.”

“But I didn’t…” Xander began, then he figured it out. “You absorbed my exhaustion then, like you did tonight.” Buffy nodded tiredly.

“I’d fallen asleep as soon as I’d closed my eyes, and when I opened them again…”

 

Flashback.

Buffy looked around her. She was in some strange round, room. Around her were different types of chairs. Some of them looked like normal chairs. Others, however…

Buffy changed her view to the large windows and gasped at the sight. Outside was a large cityscape, which would have been fine, except for the vehicles flying past the windows, and the size of the buildings.

“Coruscant.” A voice said. “As your mother would remember it. The jewel of the Republic.” Buffy spun to see a bald man. That didn’t mean he was old, because he didn’t look it. He was wearing thick, brown robes over a simple, cream tunic and pants of similar material. “Welcome to the Jedi Temple , the meeting place of the old Jedi Council.”

“How is this possible?” Buffy asked. “How do you know my mother? Who are you?”

“The second and third questions are easily answered.” The man said. “I am Jedi Master Mace Windu. I trained your mother.” Buffy gasped. “The second is a little more complicated. What you are seeing is merely an image of what was. I have brought you here because we need to talk.”

“Excuse me, but aren’t you supposed to be dead?” Buffy asked. Mace nodded.

“A true Jedi does not die.” He said. “They merely become one with the Force. That is how this is possible.”

“Oh.” Buffy said. “I get it. I think.” Mace grinned.

“You are like her.” He said. “Curious. Extremely sensitive to others feelings. Stronger than anyone realizes.”

“Thanks.” Buffy bowed slightly. “So, what do we need to talk about?” Mace walked over to the window.

“There is a time coming when you will need to update this image.” He said. “When you, your sister and your Protectors will need to travel back to the Empire, and end what was started, as it was prophesied.”

“Another prophecy?” Buffy asked disgustedly. “Am I going to die again?” Master Windu chuckled.

“No, not this time.” He assured her. “But there are some things you need to do first.”

“The Judge.” Buffy guessed. “We’re all over it.”

“You will not succeed without Druscilla’s help.”

“Let me guess.” Buffy said. “I have to trust her, ‘cause she’s all on my side and stuff, right?”

“Yes.” Mace chuckled. “I’m afraid so.”

“You’ll forgive me if I don’t invite her in anytime soon?” Buffy asked. “It is really getting hard to keep track of who are the good guys and who are the bad guys around here.”

“I know this is hard to believe…”

“No kidding.” Buffy muttered.

“…But I assure you, Druscilla is necessary if you are to succeed.” Mace finished. Buffy sighed.

“Alright, I’ll trust her.” She said. “But I’m guessing I still can’t tell anybody then.”

“Do you really want to explain this to them?” Mace asked. Buffy shook her head.

“Not really.”

Now.

“So that’s it.” Buffy finished tiredly. “A couple of days later, Dru came through with the goods. Sent a message through Willy the snitch about the second Judge bit.”

“I was wondering how we kept coming up one step ahead of Spike.” Willow said.

“Dru’d fill us in before telling Spike, mostly the day before.” Buffy explained. Her gaze moved between her friends and family. “I’m sorry for keeping it a secret, but I needed Dru to trust me and this was the only way. Please…” She looked over at Faith. The Dark Slayer glared at her before finally giving in.

“It’s okay.” She said, wrapping her arms around Buffy. The blonde Slayer breathed a sigh of relief as the walls came down. “I understand. I was just a bit ticked, that’s all.”

“Thankyou.” Buffy whispered.

“Now, I think everyone needs some sleep.” Joyce said, getting up. “ Willow , Xander, you’re both welcome to stay.”

“We couldn’t…” Willow began.

“Nonsense.” Joyce interrupted. “I’m not letting either of you walk home, especially you, Willow .” The red headed Protector looked at her sheepishly. Ever since her training had begun, Mrs Summers had been real protective of her newest apprentice, even more so when she found out about her parents rather detached attitude towards their only daughter. “Call your parents, while Faith and I set up some beds.”

“I’ll put Buffy to bed.” Xander said, walking over to his Slayer.

“I can walk.” She muttered as he picked her up gently.

“I know.” He said. “But I want to feel useful.”

“Silly boy.” Buffy muttered.

“Hanging around Dru too much, sis?” Faith teased. Buffy stuck her tongue out, lacking the energy to do anything else. “’Night.” Faith called cheerfully.

 

The next night, the group filed into the Library, including Joyce, Xander’s mother and Doyle. They saw Angel and Dru were already there, with Giles frantically searching through his books.

“Giles, what’s the panic attack?” Faith asked. “We’ve dealt with the Judge. Or, we’re about to, anyway.” She looked over at the five pieces.

“I’m afraid we may have bigger problems.” Giles explained.

“There’s some kind of ship just outside our solar system.” Angel explained. “We just heard about it on the radio.” Joyce stiffened, then reached into her handbag and pulled out her comlink.

“R4, there’s a ship just outside the borders of the system.” She said. A short whistle sounded through the com. “Well what are you waiting for? Scan it already! Check non-terrestrial frequencies while you’re at it. I want to make sure that, whoever this guy, he’s alone.” There was another short burst of whistles, followed by silence.

“Who’s R4?” Willow asked.

“R4-C9.” Buffy explained. “Mom’s astromech droid. He manages the StarShot, the ship mom flew from Coruscant that she’s got stashed away somewhere.”

“And I’ve not met it why?” Faith asked as Willow ’s voice failed her.

“Firstly, its him.” Joyce said pointedly. “And secondly, we haven’t had the time.”

“Droid?” Willow asked finally. “As in ‘android’?”

“Yeah, guess so.” Buffy said as Joyce waited for R4’s answer. “Though he looks more like a rolling trash can.” There was an angry burst of whistles from her mother’s comlink. “Sorry, R4.” Buffy said apologetically.

“Well?” Joyce demanded. There was a long explanation of whistles, followed by a rather rude sounding noise. “R4, behave yourself! My daughters are listening in here!” The droid whistled apologetically.

“Well?” Buffy asked. “I couldn’t catch all of it. Just something about…machine?”

“Automated.” Joyce corrected her. “The ships an automated messenger transmitting a distress call over multiple frequencies. It’s from home.” Buffy and Faith looked over at their mother.

“Mom?” Faith asked. A message from home either meant the Empire had found them, or was getting close. Neither was a good thing.

“It’s from a group calling themselves the Rebel Alliance.” Joyce continued. “They’re looking for anyone who can help them against the Empire. They’re transmitting an extra message on an old Jedi frequency, though I’m not sure if they realize it. It’s asking for me personally, telling me to return.”

“Could be a trap.” Buffy said. “Might be that Dark Nerdy guy.” Joyce smiled at her daughter’s obviously purposeful mangling of Vader’s name.

“Either way, we have to wait another month for the wormhole to open.” She said. “So there’s still time to prepare.”

“Maybe we can drop a Judge piece off when we get there.” Willow suggested. “There’s no way anyone from here will get there for years.”

“What’s this ‘we’ thing?” Joyce asked. “I don’t think you should come.”

“Like hell!”

“What? No way. Faith goes I go.” The two protectors protested.

“Who said either of them were going anywhere?” Joyce said.

“Excuse me?” The Slayers said at the same time.

“There is no way I’m letting you go off against this guy alone.” Buffy said.

“Damn straight.” Faith agreed.

“Girls…” Joyce began. The girls glared at her. “Force help me, Willow ’s been giving you lessons with the ‘resolve face’, hasn’t she?” The two girls nodded and continued to stare. “Alright, alright, I give in. You can go.”

“Yes!” Buffy Faith leapt into the air, slapping each other five.

“That means we go too.” Xander informed her. Willow nodded in agreement, her own resolve face in place. Joyce groaned and nodded. Dru giggled.

“Could’ve told you you’d be taking them all.” She said. “You didn’t have a choice. They’ll all be needed.” Buffy grinned over at the seer.

“Think you could convince her I’ll pass high school without homework?” She asked.

“Elizabeth Anne Summers…” Joyce warned. Buffy flinched.

“Mom!” She whined. Faith stared at her mother, then Buffy.

“Your name’s Elizabeth ?” She asked incredulously.

“I hate that name.” Buffy muttered. “Makes me sound like a snob. I’m not a snob. Am I?”

“’Course not.” Xander said, moving closer to her. “Though it is kinda cute.”

“Fine.” Buffy muttered. “But only in private, okay, Alexander?” Xander winced.

“Alright, I won’t use it.” He muttered. “That was pretty unfair.” Dru giggled.

“No wonder you’ve been hanging around them.” She said to Angel. “I haven’t laughed this much in centuries.” Angel grinned.

“They have that effect on you.” He said. “I remember when I first talked to her…”

“Before you start swapping stories about B, you mind explaining what’s going on?” Faith asked. Dru nodded as they all sat.

“It really starts when my visions started.” She started. “I was about five, so when I started seeing people that I didn’t even know, I got scared out of mind. I went to my parents, begged them to make it stop. They took me to the doctors, the local church, anything they could think of to help me. It wasn’t until I met my Aunty Jacqueline that I found the truth.”

Chapter 17

Dru’s past.

“Visions?” The young girl squeaked. Her aunt nodded.

“Yes, visions of the future.” She told her niece. Dru stared at her, frightened, confused, wanting some reassurance that she wasn’t going to end up like those sad, lonely people that lived on the streets.

“I don’t want them!” She complained. “Take them back!”

“I cannot.” Her aunt told her sadly. “It is the gift- or curse- of the oldest women of out line. Your are the first and only child, and so you must bare these visions.”

“The oldest?” Dru said. “But that means…”

“Yes, dear one.” Jacqueline caressed the girl’s cheek, as she was flooded with what the girl’s future held. “I, too, see these visions. I know, as you know, what the future holds. And further more, I will help you prepare for what you must do.”

 

The present .

“So your aunt knew what was coming?” Willow asked, absorbing the information.

“Yes.” Dru affirmed. “And she knew the only way things could turn out the way they should was for Angelus to turn me.” Angel winced at her side, remembering what his dark side had done to her, knowing that the feelings he had felt for her since regaining his soul were more than just a side effect of his guilt. “I know it wasn’t you, my love.” Dru whispered. “And I don’t blame you. What happened happened. Of course, that doesn’t mean we didn’t make some…preparations before hand. Rest assured, what Angelus did to me, wasn’t quite as bad as you believe.”

The past.

“Are we sure about this?” Druscilla asked.

“Of course we are.” Jacqueline said. “We’ve both seen what’s to come, and the only way to prepare is to make sure your there to help the children.”

“I-I guess.” Dru admitted. Though she was frightened, she was excited as well. She wasn’t sure how much Aunt Jacqueline knew, but she was sure she hadn’t seen him. Angel. The figure who stood behind the girls and their Protectors. Guarding them from harm. The thought of the dark figure made her shiver. He was so handsome; she’d loved him the first time her visions had shown his face to her. “But are we sure this will work?”

“Your lack of faith appals me, Druscilla.” Jacqueline said. “I have been researching these spells longer than you’ve been alive. This one will tie your soul to your body permanently, no matter what happens, while this one will make Angelus and Darla believe they’ve tortured you into insanity. All you have to do then is keep the act up for a couple of hundred years.” In response, Druscilla giggled.

“All I have to do is keep Daddy completely in the dark.” She tittered. “And it will be our little secret.” Jacqueline could not hold in the laughter at her niece’s act.

“Perfect.” She said.

The present.

“It was an act?” Angel asked, his face showing his disbelief. Angelus’ treatment of Druscilla was a large part of his guilt. Now he finds out, it never even happened the way he remembered it.

“Had you fooled, didn’t I?” Dru said. Buffy grinned.

“I thought there was something not quite right about her act when Spike thought it was time for us to be introduced.” She said. “Part of mom’s training was to be able to read a persons body language, and Dru’s didn’t read ‘I escaped from the loony bin’. When I ran into her later that night, I confronted her about it. That’s about when we became partners in crime.” She looked over at her mother. “Proud of me?” Joyce nodded.

“You’ve learnt well.” She admitted. “A little too well.”

“Show off.” Faith muttered.

“So what happened next?” Giles asked. Dru thought a moment.

“Well, after Angelus turned me, I travelled with him and Darla, of course.” Dru looked up at Angel, who was still trying to wrap his head around what had happened. “I kept my eyes out for anyone that would pay a part in our little drama, and that’s when I saw William.” A sad look crossed her face. “I didn’t want to. But I had no choice. If I didn’t Sire someone, Angelus would get suspicious, and my visions had shown him to be important to what was to happen. I feel it is the one dark spot on my soul.”

“What about all the people you killed?” Angel asked. Dru smiled up at him.

“Who said I killed them?” She asked innocently. “I merely drank what I needed, then whispered to them to stay down if they wanted to live. Angelus was so sure I’d done the deed, he didn’t think to question me.” Angel could feel the demon in question raging within him, furious that this girl had played him so well.

“You realise he’s listening in, don’t you?” Angel told her.

“I know.” Dru said. “Just because you’re in control, doesn’t mean he isn’t there. He’ll never be free, though, but he can see and hear everything. I just hope he’s enjoying the story.”

“He’s pissed.” Angel informed them all. Buffy gave a short laugh.

“Poor baby.” She said impishly. Everyone looked at her. “What? I’m sorry, but this demon deserves everything he gets. I’ve done a bit of research on my own, and Dru filled me in one a few things. All in all, this guy was a jerk, and deserves what he gets.” She looked over at Angel. “And I know it wasn’t you. It was hard for me to accept, but Dru’s talked to me about it, and what she’s been saying tonight…I’m sorry for treating you the way I did.” Angel nodded politely, accepting the apology. He never realised Dru was a miracle worker.

“I take it we’re getting to the confusing part?” He asked her.

“The curse that isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” Dru said. This got looks from all but Giles, who had already found out about this the night before.

“It seems that Dru knew about the curse in advance and, well…” The Watcher stopped a moment. “She took steps to ensure that certain parts of the curse weren’t added.”

“What ‘certain parts’?” Buffy asked, having a sneaky suspicion about what was about to be said.

“The happiness clause.” Dru said innocently, snuggling up to her Sire.

“You mean…” Faith stared at the vampires. The Slayer grinned. “Now I’m impressed. You are one sneaky vamp.”

“I had certain things in my favour.” Dru said with a shrug. “I knew what was coming before it happened, so I could make a few changes. I changed the spell book the gypsy was to use, ensuring that the spell I wanted her to cast was marked ‘Spell of Restoration’.”

“The curse Angel was supposedly under.” Doyle clarified.

“It was really a modified version of the spell I’d used to keep my soul anchored to my body when I was turned.” She continued. “They didn’t bother checking it so they had no clue.”

“Dru, you sneak.” Buffy said with a teasing grin. “Ever think of entering the lottery? You could make a fortune.”

“I already did.” Dru said offhandedly. “Where do you think the money came from to get Xander away from that pig?” Everyone looked at her shocked.

“I thought Whistler put it in.” Sarah said. “I was sure of it.”

“C’mon, mom.” Xander said, finally finding his voice. “If Whistler had that sort of cash, he’d use it to buy a new wardrobe.” He stopped a moment, then turned to Buffy. “Would you not do that?”

“I didn’t do it!” Buffy said defensively. Xander looked at Faith.

“Don’t look at me.” The dark haired Slayer said, hands up. A snicker escaped from Willow ’s mouth.

“Oh you’re kidding me.” Xander moaned.

“Go, Red!” Faith cheered.

“Hey!” Buffy said, pointing accusingly. “No playing with my Protectors mind. That’s my job.”

“Thankyou very much.” Xander muttered.

“Sorry.” Willow said.

“Don’t be.” Faith said. “That was funny. All you have to do now is learn to stop yourself from laughing and you’ll be set.”

“Is there anything else?” Joyce asked Dru, pulling the conversation away from the groups jokes. Dru nodded.

“The next part comes over thirty years ago.” She said. “I’d managed to dump William for the night and was hunting the streets on my own.”

“Wait a sec. I thought you didn’t eat people.” Xander pointed out.

“I don’t eat innocents.” Dru corrected. “Human monsters, like child molesters, slavers and murderers, however, work their way onto my menu.”

“Oh.” Willow said. “So your kinda their punishment or something? Y’know, letting them know how it feels to be preyed on before killing them?”

“I never thought of it that way before.” Dru said. “But yes, I suppose I am. Better than rats.” Angel winced slightly.

“I can agree with that.” He muttered. Dru gave him a squeeze.

“It was then I ran into the Traveller.” She continued. “He was dressed oddly, like a monk. I didn’t know what to make of him until he spoke. His voice was kindly, with wisdom that belied his age, and he was quite knowledgeable about…certain things.”

The past.

“Who are you?” Dru asked the stranger, dropping the body she had drained. This wasn’t one of William’s minions, nor anyone she knew.

“I was about to ask you that question.” He said. “I don’t know who or what you are, but I do know that what you did was both unnatural and wrong. I suggest you turn yourself in.”

“Wrong?” Dru scoffed. “It is certainly less than he deserves.” The man brought out a strange, cylindrical device.

“I do not know what make you think you have the right to judge anything.” He said. “But that right is reserved for the proper authorities.”

“You obviously don’t know as much as you think.” Dru said, dropping low. Despite what anyone thought, the vampire knew how to fight, and was not hesitant about showing this upstart how it was done. “He would have got away with his crimes, as they all do.” Unconsciously, her demon face slipped into face. “Now, leave. You are obviously a good man, and I have no wish to harm you.”

“I don’t know what you are, but you won’t get away with murder.” He said, bringing the device in front of him, there was a swish as the purple blade ignited from within, then a humming noise as he pulled it back. “Turn yourself in, or I will take you in myself.” Dru gasped as her human mask came back into view. That was the same type of weapon her Slayers used in her dreams. Did that mean this man had something to do with it?

“Wait.” She said. “There are things you must understand.” The man looked at her passively. “This man was a rapist of the worst kind. He kidnapped children on their way home, then had his way with them before killing them. He deserved his punishment.”

“The law here…”

“Is about as useful as a tissue made of sandpaper!” She spat. “There were no witnesses to his crimes, he killed them all. The bodies were dumped in the river nearby, so any evidence was destroyed. He would have gotten away with it, and many other children would have suffered.” He looked at her as her Sight gave her another clue. “You know Janelle.” She said simply. The man gasped.

“How do you know of my pupil?” He asked cautiously.

“I am a seer.” Dru said. “I see visions of the future. Your pupil and her daughters have plagued my dreams for centuries.” The man glared at her, then doused his weapon.

“I see, then, that I have come to the right place.” He said. He turned, heading back the other way. “Janelle will arrive soon. I leave her, and her daughters, in your care. Take care of them.”

The present.

Joyce looked at the vampire, completely in shock. “Master Windu? You met Master Windu?”

“I did not know his name.” Dru said. “Just that he cared for you greatly. He wished only to protect you from your enemy.”

“Sounds like Dru’s been in control of this sitch from the beginning.” Faith said, her thoughts on the seer slowly changing.

“Who’d have thunk it?” Xander muttered. Buffy grinned.

“That’s nothing.” She said. “You should see her deal with Willy.” Dru looked at her, stunned. “I followed you one night. I really wanted to know what you were up to, and why you were helping. I saw you force Willy to bring the last message to me. And in case you wondered, he had to change his pants afterwards.”

“And you watched that why?” Xander asked, slightly disgusted.

“I didn’t have to.” Buffy said. “He walked past my hiding place. It was obvious why he was leaving.” The group giggled.

“So, what next?” Sarah asked.

“We have to prepare for the Cruciamentum.” Buffy said. “There’s a week before our birthday, so there’s plenty of time.”

“Yeah, and I can’t wait til it’s over.” Faith muttered. “I kinda miss my Slayer powers.” Willow looked over at her Slayer.

“Well…” She started. “I did find something.” The group looked at her. “The drug is only designed to handle a Slayers maximum adrenalin production, so if we could increase it…”

“It could overload the serum.” Joyce finished.

“Wills, that’s brilliant.” Buffy said. Faith placed a friendly arm around Willow ’s shoulder.

“That’s my girl.” She announced proudly. Willow blushed slightly.

“So, how do we do that?” Xander asked.

“What about the Force?” Doyle asked. Dru nodded.

“Yes. Can’t you use it to control your functions in that way?” Joyce looked at her.

“How much do you know about the Force?” She asked.

“I have been watching Buffy’s training with my Sight.” Dru explained. “I remember you mentioned something along those lines.”

“Yeah, I remember that.” Buffy said. “I tried to use it to get past the tranq dart Spike’s butt wipe used the first time we met. I wasn’t to good at it, but I’ve practiced since. I think I can use it on the night. Failing that…” She looked over at Xander, who nodded.

“I’ll help anyway I can.” He said.

“Me too.” Willow agreed. Faith grinned wickedly.

“Of course.” She said. “We still have a couple of aces.”

“Aces?” Giles asked.

“C’mon G-Man.” Faith said. “Take a look around you. Two souled vamps, one Potential Slayer, one half demon, one Jedi, and one Watcher. No offense, but you’re the most normal one out of the group.” Giles stopped a moment, then grinned. Buffy had to repress a shudder at it.

“Look out.” She muttered. Xander looked down at her. “He’s letting Ripper out to play.” Gles chuckled.

“I never did like Travers.” He said mischievously. “I think I’ll enjoy taking him down a peg or two.” Joyce nodded, her face a mask.

“I agree.” She said. “I’ve had it with this Council dictating the way my daughter’s live. It ends.” Sarah merely stared at the group. She had never had any contact with the Watcher’s council, Whistler had made sure of that. But she’d heard stories, and she didn’t like what she had heard.

“Then let the planning begin.”

Chapter 18

“Any word?” Quentin Travers asked.

“Mr Giles has reported that the injections continue.” The Watcher said. “The Slayers remain oblivious.”

“Good.” Travers said. “I want an update every night.” He looked out the nearby window. I wonder who the next Slayer will be after we kill these two, he thought. Hopefully some obedient young thing like, what was her name…Kendra. Yes, hopefully it will be her. Much better than the present two.

He sat down and poured himself a drink, not knowing that he was being watched.

“That bloody bastard.” Dru hissed. “How dare he plan this? When I get my hands on him…”

“Dru, take it easy.” Angel moved behind her, massaging her shoulders as he had seen Xander do with Buffy when her temper flared. “What did you see?”

“Travers.” Dru said, anger in her eyes. “He plans to kill them both, no matter the outcome of the test.” Angel tensed. Joyce clenched her fists, running through her Jedi calming exercises. Xander and Willow stiffened noticeably, looking over at their Slayers.

Doyle looked at Faith. Just when the girl gets her family, and some happiness, those jokers at the Council try this? I’m so going to enjoy the look on Travers’ face when this bunch catches him.

Giles buries his face in a nearby book, trying to hide his own anger. He had never agreed with Travers, or the way he had run the Council, but this…

Sarah looked over at her son, who had taken a protective stance near Buffy. Why did they have to go through this?

Faith tried to run through her mother’s exercises. They were helping to an extent. She looked over at Buffy.

The blonde Slayer wasn’t handling it as well as her mother or sister, not because she was less adept at the exercises. No, her problem was her sensitivity. She was picking up on everyone else’s anger, and she wasn’t dealing with it too well. The temptation to go to Travers and rip his heart out was strong, and Buffy wasn’t sure if she could take it.

“Make it stop.” She whispered. “Please, someone make it stop.” Faith could hear her, feel her, crying for help.

“Xander!” She hissed. The Protector nodded, placing a hand on his Slayer’s shoulder. Faith grabbed the other. “Easy, sis. We’re here.”

“Faith?”

“Relax, Buff. I’m right here, I always am.”

“Xander? Oh God, help me. I can’t take this. Everyone’s so angry, I feel it.”

“It’s okay, love. I’m here. Just relax. Let some of the anger go.”

“I can’t. I don’t know where to put it.”

“Let me take some.” Faith volunteered.

“Me too. C’mon Buff. I didn’t help you beat blondie so you could give in to this.”

“Xander? Faith? But…there’s too much.”

“I’ll take some.” Willow said through Faith.

Willow ? But…”

“No arguments, B.” Faith ordered. “Do it!” Buffy reluctantly agreed and let her anger flow.

Willow gasped, falling from her seat. This was only part of the anger Buffy was feeling? Gods, how could she handle that?

Xander clenched his other fist, careful not to put any pressure on Buffy’s shoulder. How could Buffy handle this?

Faith snarled as Buffy’s anger flowed through. She’d known her sister was sensitive, but not this sensitive. She felt Buffy pull it back. “B, no.”

“But…”

“You need me to do this. I haven’t been there to support you for near seventeen years. Now, listen to me. Let it flow.” Buffy sobbed as she re-established the connection. Faith grit her teeth.

“Faith, enough.” Joyce ordered. “You can’t take this anymore.”

“Neither can Buffy.” Faith muttered. Xander looked at her, then at Buffy. Finally, he couldn’t take it anymore. He bent down and, gently, lifted his Slayer into his arms.

“I’m getting her out of here.” He said. “She can’t take this.” Sarah got up, keys in hand. “Not this time, mom. She needs as little people around as possible.” Sarah nodded and handed him the keys. “I’ll see you later.” He left, holding her gently. The others watched.

“We have to be careful around her.” Joyce said. “She’s always been very sensitive to peoples feelings. She always knew when Hank and I were fighting. She’s only getting more so, and unless we find a way to help her…”

“She needed me.” Faith whispered. “She needed me and I let her down.”

“Easy Faith.” Doyle said to his young charge. “There was nothing you could do.”

“I need to find a way to help her, Doyle.” Faith said. “If I don’t…I’m going to loose her. I only just found her!”

“I know, girl.” Willow looked over at her Slayer.

“We’ll find some way.” She said reassuringly. “I’m positive. Maybe we can find someone when we go to check out that message.”

“Yes.” Dru said suddenly. “That’s it. The old one.”

“‘Old one’?” A small grin spread over Joyce’s face. “Who is the ‘old one’?”

“Like you.” Dru said, looking at her. “A Jedi. But older, stronger. I’ve seen him once. Short, with a walking stick. He radiated such power.”

“Was he green?” Joyce’s grin got wider.

“You know him?” Dru asked.

“All Jedi, padawan or otherwise, know Master Yoda.” Joyce said, her grin transforming into a smile. “Looks like he survived the Emperor’s culling. Should have known.” Hold on, baby. You just need to hold on one month.

 

“Where am I?” Buffy asked, looking around. She was in a swamp. At least, that’s what it looked like.

“My home, you are in.” A voice said. Buffy spun to be greeted with the strangest sight; a short, green man with a walking stick. “Brought you here, I have, in mind at least.”

“Why?” Buffy asked, ready to defend herself. “Who are you?” The creature chuckled.

“Inquisitive you are.” He said. “Cautious as well. Good this is.”

“The Hellmouth does that to you.” She muttered. The creature nodded.

“I see.” He said. “Yoda, my name is. Jedi Master I am. Brought you here to help you, I have.”

“You’re a Jedi?” Buffy asked. “Talk about looks being deceiving. Did you know my mom too?”

“Know her, I did.” Yoda said. “Saved her from Vader, I did. Now, come. Come.” He turned, walking away. “Begin, we must. Running out, time is.” Buffy looked at his retreating back, before shrugging and following.

“Buffy?” Xander said quietly, brushing Buffy’s hair from her face. “C’mon, girl. Wake up.”

“There is no need for concern.” A voice said. “She is receiving help for her…problem.” Xander turned to see a transparent, blue man.

“Who- or what- are you?” Xander demanded. “And what do you mean ‘help’?”

“Exactly what it sounded like.” The ghost (for that was all Xander could think of that fit what he saw) said. “And as to who I am, Buffy has told you that already.” Xander glared at the ghost, running his mind through the list of people Buffy knew who were dead until…

“You’re that Wind Up guy, right?” Xander asked. Mace gave a rueful smile.

“Windu.” He corrected.

“Yeah. Windu.” Xander looked down at Buffy. “What’d you mean when you said she was getting help?” He asked. “Help from who?”

“The oldest and most powerful of our order.” Mace told him. “Though, in truth, I didn’t believe he was this powerful.”

“What’s that mean?” Xander asked.

“What it means is that he is reaching from our home galaxy to this one to help her.” Mace looked down at the girl. “He will not be able to complete her training in this manner, however. As soon as you get to our galaxy, you must take her directly to Dagobah.”

“Daggy…Barn?” Xander said, confused. Mace sighed.

“I don’t know how Janelle puts up with any of you.” Mace said ruefully. “Just remember, she must go to Dagobah if she is to stand a chance of survival.”

“What about now?” Xander demanded. “Is she going to stay like this?” Mace shook his head as he faded away.

“Trust her, and Master Yoda.” He said. “They can surprise you.”

“You got one thing right.” Xander muttered. “My girl’s just full of surprises.”

“Your girl?” Buffy asked, her voice almost a whisper. “This mean we’re goin’ steady?” Xander was at her side in an instant.

“You alright?” Buffy nodded.

“At risk of sounding like my sister, five by five.” She said with a grin. Xander chuckled. “Where are we?”

“My place.” Xander told her. “I thought it might be a good idea to get you out of there.” Buffy nodded, sitting up.

“I’ll be fine now.”  She said, reassuringly. “Master Yoda gave me some tips.”

“I know.” Xander said. “Windu showed up.” Buffy’s jaw dropped.

“You saw Master Windu?” Xander nodded.

“I got orders from him too.” He said. “I take you to Dagobah, where Yoda’s hiding out, the second we get to your mom’s home galaxy. No excuses.”

“That, I know.” Buffy said. “Yoda already told me. No loop holes, no way out.”

“If he’s the only one who can help you, I don’t want a way out.” Xander said. Buffy nodded, sitting up. “Hey, whoa, waddaya doin’?”

“I still have to take the Cruciamentum injections, Xand.” Buffy said. “Which means we have to head back.”

“No way.” Xander said firmly. “You need to recover.”

“I’m fine.” Buffy said just as firmly. “’Sides, everyone’s calmed down, now.”

“If you say so.” Xander muttered.

“Hey.” Buffy put a hand on his shoulder. “I’ll be fine. I managed to learn enough from Master Yoda to be able to control myself if the situation rises again.” Xander wrapped her in his arms, almost protectively. Buffy closed her eyes, just enjoying the closeness.

“If your sure.”

“I’m sure.” Buffy pulled away reluctantly. “Besides, someone has to stop mom from going after Travers and sticking her lightsaber up his ass when she finds out exactly how they administer the drug.” Xander grinned.

“Good point.” He said, escorting her to the door. “As long as you’re sure.” Buffy snorted indignantly.

“You’re getting overprotective again, Xand.”

“I’m not loosing you for any reason, remember?” Xander said as he locked the door. “You’re stuck with me, for however long we’ve got.”

“And I wouldn’t have it any other way, my Protector.”

Chapter 19

“What the hell are you two doing back?” Faith demanded. She turned to Buffy. “You should be resting,” She then turned on Xander. “And you should never have let her back here.”

“Faith chill,” Buffy said. “I’m on top of it. Besides, shouldn’t you be patrolling?”

“Considering the Council believes you two powerless, I thought that we should suspend patrol for a week,” Giles said. “Angel and Dru are covering for you,” Buffy nodded.

“Knew those two were good for something,” She muttered playfully. “And relax, sis. I got a crash course on ‘Controlling Everyone’s Anger 101’ from Master Yoda, so it’s cool,” There were several thuds as jaws hit the floor.

“Yoda?” Joyce whispered. “How…?”

“Seems he’s a lot stronger than anyone knew,” Xander said with a grin, enjoying himself. “He managed to reach her from a place called Dagobah.”

“Brought the stink with him,” Buffy said, wrinkling her nose. “Swamp planet. Very accurate image too.”

“Damn,” Faith muttered. She walked up to her sister. “So…”

“It’s all under control,” Buffy said. A sly grin spread across her face. “That reminds me,” She kicked Faith in the shin.

“Ow!”

“Stubborn ass,” Buffy muttered, bringing a bout of laughter from all present.

“She’s fine,” Joyce said, walking up and wrapping her daughters in a hug. “I’m sorry I couldn’t prepare you better.”

“Don’t sweat it, mom,” Buffy said. “It’s cool. Although, Master Yoda wants to question you about your training techniques,” She cleared her throat before continuing falsetto, “Easy on you, she was. Better prepared, you should be. Lessons on training, your mother needs.”

“Oh, Force help me, that even sounded like him,” Joyce moaned.

“Mom’s in the doghouse!” Faith crowed. “Never thought I’d say that.”

“So, any progress on Operation: Watcher Meltdown?” Xander asked.

“Watcher Meltdown?” Giles asked. Xander looked over at him.

“What?” The teen said. “It was all I could think of.”

“Yes, well, that’s part of why Angel and Dru are taking patrol,” Giles said. Buffy looked over at him.

“Please don’t tell me they’re doing recon,” She begged.

“Sorry, sis,” Faith said. “Got it in one.”

“Who’s screwball plan was this?” Buffy demanded. “Suppose they get caught? Then who covers for us when we head off.”

“We’ll just have to leave Faith and Willow here,” Joyce said. The girls in question looked at her in shock.

“Sorry, mom,” Buffy said. “Not an option. Master Yoda said all four of us have to hit the Empire.”

“Woo- hoo!” Faith crowed. “I’m beginning to love that little guy,” Joyce shot a sharp look at her daughter. “What?”

“I hope I can teach her some self restraint before she meets him,” Joyce muttered.

“Good luck,” Doyle told her. “I’ve been trying for years.”

“Hey!”

         One week later.

“Are we ready?” Giles asked. The group nodded, grimly.

“Already running through mom’s exercise’s,” Buffy said, calmly.

“We’ll be at the manor giving our girls all the support we can,” Xander said.

“We’ll be making sure they remain safe,” Joyce said.

“While we make sure Buffy and Faith stay in one piece,” Angel finished.

“And try to refrain from ripping that arrogant bastard to shreds,” Dru added.

“That won’t be necessary,” Giles said. “If he follows protocol, Quentin should be here soon. I’ll keep him busy. You’d better get going,” The gang nodded and headed out. “Good luck.”

“So this is it,” Buffy said, looking up at the house. “Any luck?”

“I think so,” Faith said. “I’m feeling a bit stronger. You?”

“It’s wearing down,” Buffy agreed. “But then there’s the side effect,” Faith grinned.

“Willow on a caffeine high.”

“Only worse.”

“I heard that,” The red head in question sent.

“You saying it’s not like that?” Faith sent.

“No,” Willow admitted. “But you didn’t have to say it out loud.”

“Let’s go,” Buffy moved forward, Faith close behind. The second they entered the house, the door locked behind them. “Automated.”

“I hear ya,” Faith said. “Doubt they’d actually leave anyone in here.” She added mentally.

“Besides the assassins above us,” Buffy pointed out the disruption in the Force caused by the two live bodies above.

“And one psycho vamp,” Faith added. “Looks like he’s got help.”

“Deal with that later, F. First…” She reached out with the Force, pulling the two assassins down to their level. “What are you guys doing here?” Buffy said, deadpan. The two men looked around, realised their guns were back in their ‘nest’ and decided to play dumb.

“This guy grabbed us off the street and tied us up there,” One said, pointing to where they had been hiding. “If Johnny didn’t have his pocket knife, we’d be screwed.”

“That was so lame,” Faith sent.

“I’ve used better stories to get away with late nights of non patrol,” Buffy agreed. “Whatever. Just beat it. Our boyfriends’ll be here in a minute, and we don’t want to get in trouble with them. They get jealous.”

“Is that one of the stories you used?” Xander asked innocently. “’Cause I gotta tell you, it’s a close tie over whose story was lamer.”

“Ha ha,” Buffy muttered as the two men headed to the side of the house. “Emergency exit in the side. Get Angel and Dru to cover it, but tell them not to get caught.”

“Ja wohl, Herr commandant,” Was Xander’s reply.

“Let’s move it,” Faith said. “I’m getting’ antsy.”

“Antsy?”

“Blame Doyle,” Faith sent as they moved towards the vampire. “Did they let this guy out? How many vamps has he got?”

“Doyle said they don’t usually let the vamp in question out,” Willow sent.

“Which means one of two things,” Buffy said. “A; they’ve let him out to play or, b: they had more than one.”

“Your forgetting one possibility, sis,” Faith added darkly. “They’ve brought people in to be turned. The more vamps, the better chance to nail us.”

“That better not be the case,” Buffy said. “Xander, Wills, start the power up. We’re gonna need it.”

“All you need to do is ask,” Xander said softly. “You going to be alright?”

“If I’m not, Travers is going to get haunted by one pissed off ghost,” She told him.

“That’s my girl.”

“Mr Giles,” Quentin walked in. “Are the Slayers…?”

“Sent to the house, as ordered,” Giles said, trying not to give the game away. He could hardly wait to see Travers’ face when they walked in. “Would you mind telling me what you have planned? I gather this is not the usual test.”

“You should be happy, Rupert,” Quentin said. “I’ve organised to get rid of those two delinquents. With luck, you’ll get someone more obedient.”

“What are you talking about?” Giles said, glad he’d left his communicator off. He had a feeling what he was about to hear was not good.

“There are about fifteen vampires in that house,” Travers said with a grin. “Without their Slayer strength, there is no way they will survive. If, by some fluke, they do however, I’ve left two of my best men to ensure they don’t walk out alive.”

“So either way, they both die,” Giles said evenly.

“Exactly,” Travers was far too pleased with himself. “And we get a better suited Slayer, instead of these two,” Giles did his best not to jump over the table and kill this smug bastard.

“So, when does the test start?” Travers looked at his watch.

“About ten minutes ago.”

“Vamps aren’t this sneaky,” Faith sent to Buffy. The power travelling through her body was unbelievable, but she knew the exhaustion was going to be the real killer.

“Yeah,” Buffy agreed. “They’d normally have jumped us by now,” She noticed that Faith was nervous. “You alright?” She asked out loud.

“It’s kinda…” Faith began, before switching back to ‘silent’. “How long are we going to be able to last before the exhaustion starts effecting us?”

“Don’t worry,” Xanxder sent. “Me an’ Wills’ll take care of that. Can’t have you two collapsing half way home.”

“You sure?” Buffy asked. She knew the kind of exhaustion that would hit them when it was over. Adding in the amount of work they’d have to do…

“You’ve done it for me twice,” Xander reminded her. “’Sides, I don’t want to loose you.”

“Would you two cut the mushiness?” Faith said jokingly. “We got work to do.”

“Faith’s right,” Willow said. “Let’s get to work.”

“Two vamps in the room to the left,” Buffy said. “The rest are downstairs,” she and Faith moved to the door. She felt the familiar feeling as Xander’s mind merged with her own, increasing her strength. She heard and felt everything he had experienced, as he did with her. This was the ultimate power of the Slayer and her Protector, and they both revelled in it.

For Willow and Faith, it was different. They were not as close as Buffy and Xander, the combination was less a joining of souls and more a joining of forces. A feral grin slid over Faith’s face. “Let’s rock,” She said. Buffy nodded as the two Slayers moved in.

The door shattered under Faith’s strength as she grabbed the first vampire, sending the once normal person back into the hallway, where Buffy waited. The vamp was dust two seconds later, followed by its partner half a second after that.

“We could get used to this,” Faith said.

“Throttle down,” Buffy warned. “You get too excited, you may not be able to separate.”

“Roger that,” Faith nodded. There was no attempt to keep things secret now. There was nothing short of First Circle demon that could stop the two Slayers, and they knew it. They moved towards the basement, dusting any vamps that came their way.

“An’ we thought trainin’ with Giles was easy,” Faith/Willow joked.

“Does take the challenge out of it,” Buffy/Xander agreed, dusting two more vamps, “Not that we’re complaining,” They made it to the basement, where the main vamp was waiting.

“Ah, the Slayers arrive,” he saidh “Allow me to introduce myself.”

“Nope,” Faith said, charging and dusting in two seconds flat.

“Could’ve left some for us,” Buffy/Xander complained.

“You snooze, you loose,” Faith/Willow answered, “What now?”

“Travers,” Buffy said, “After you and Wills separate.”

“What about…”

“Me and Xand already have,” Buffy explained, “And it was hard enough on him with the exhaustion. Hurry up and separate, then the two of us will deal with Travers. He’s got a serious debt to pay,” Faith nodded as she felt Willow pull away.

“Oh, wow,” The red head sent tiredly.

“What rush!” Faith said. “I owe you, Wills.”

“Don’t mention it. Nightie night,” Faith felt her Protector collapse into sleep.

“Sleep tight, pal,” Faith muttered. “You deserve it.”

“Tell that to Xander,” Buffy muttered. “He doesn’t believe you.

“I don’t need sleep,” Xander said.

“Whatever. Just don’t do anything else. You’ve done enough,” Buffy turned to Faith. “Let’s motor.”

“Now your getting’ it, B,” Faith said as they walked out the side exit.

Chapter 20

“Have fun in there?” Angel asked as they exited the house. Faith grinned.

“Vamps seen, vamps dusted,” she said. “Side note, we gotta work on Willow ’s stamina. She’s out like a light.”

“It will get easier on both of you with practice,” Dru told them.

“Let’s move,” Buffy said, running through the exercises taught to her, first by Joyce, then by Yoda. Things were only gong to get worse on the emotion front, especially when they faced him.

“You’ll be fine, B,” Faith whispered, putting an arm around her sister protectively. “I won’t let it happen again. I’ll help you. Somehow.”

Travers looked at his watch. The girls should be dead by now. A couple of more mitnutes…

That’s when they walked in, right as rain, and extremely pissed off.

“Who’s this?” The dark haired one, Faith, asked, looking at Travers with distain.

“Uh, this is Quentin Travers,” Giles said. “Head of the Watcher’s Council.” The blonde looked at the man.

“So, the Boss?” She asked. Giles nodded. “Cool,” the girl said, shrugging.

“How’d it go?” Giles asked. Faith shrugged.

“Vamps seen, vamps dusted, civilians evacced. Any questions?”

“Any problem with your strength?” He asked. Buffy shrugged.

“Nah,” she said, “Xand and Willow took care of it. They’re out of it, though. The amount of exhaustion they took on was too much for them.”

“Exhaustion?” Travers asked. What the hell was going on here?

Faith turned to Giles. “You didn’t tell him? I thought you were putting it in your report,” Giles managed to hold in his grin.

“It must have slipped my mind,” he said.

“Would someone please tell me what’s going on?” Travers demanded.

“It seems the girls have a strange link to two of the other teens at school,” Giles said. “They are somehow able to hear each others thoughts, as well as being able to add their strength, increasing nearly infinitely, and absorbing each others exhaustion. It really is quite remarkable. I’m surprised we haven’t heard of it before.”

“And you’ve allowed this?” Travers asked, near panic. It couldn’t be. There was no way; the line of the Protectors was destroyed years ago.

“I could see no problem with it,” Giles said, managing to keep from laughing, “The children seemed able to handle it, and it’s been more of a help than anything I could do,” Travers managed to keep from exploding.

“Mr Giles,” he began, “What you have done flies in the face of all the traditions and edicts of the Council, almost as much as a second Slayer.”

“Watch it, bub,” Faith muttered.

“You have allowed these two to, not only continue with what constitutes as a normal life,” Travers continued, ignoring the girl, “but have allowed them to take assistance in their fight from civilians, civilians who have a link that may allow them to control the Slayers.”

“WHAT!?” The two girls demanded.

“I cannot allow this,” Travers finished, “These two…freaks, their friends and anyone they’ve come into contact with, must be destroyed, their names wiped from existence. You will be relieved of your duties, and a more suitable candidate be placed to guide the next Slayer…”

“Where, to her grave?” Faith demanded.

“Mr Travers,” Buffy started, “I think you misunderstand your place in the world,” Travers turned to glare at the girl, “You seem to believe that the Council is in place to control the Slayer.”

“Outrageous!” Travers exploded, “The Council of Watcher’s exists only to guide and advise the Slayers…”

“Is that why you have ordered us and our friends destroyed?” Buffy asked. Travers shuddered. She was so calm; he could almost believe she had iced water running through her veins, “To ‘guide’ the Slayers?”

“Our laws…”

“Are in place to control the Slayers, not guide them,” Buffy interrupted, “By removing the Slayer from her family, you rob her of parental or sibling support. By keeping her isolated, keeping her from making friends, she has no one to talk to but her Watcher, who is forbidden from making an emotional link to said Slayer. You rob her of any and all emotional support until she is nothing more than a stone cold killer. A weapon, and you alone hold the trigger. Eventually, they give up, and die. Without that support, no human can survive. And make no mistake, the Slayer is human, more than anyone else.”

“Who are you to tell me how to run the Council?” Travers demanded. Giles felt like hiding under the table. This was not going to end well.

“My name is Elizabeth Ann Summers,” Buffy said. Both Giles and Faith gasped at that admission. She never used her full name, “Daughter of Joyce Summers, or Janelle Orland of Coruscant,” now it was Travers turn to gasp. That word had appeared in a prophecy he had read years ago, “Slayer to the Protector Alexander Levelle Harris, son of the Potential Slayer Sarah Andrews. I am the Vampire Slayer, and sister to the Vampire Slayer. I am Slayer, I am Jedi, and I will not allow my fellow Slayers to be used by your Council a second longer. This is who I am. This is my authority. Listen well, because this is your only warning,” She turned and walked out, Faith close behind her. The dark haired Slayer stopped, and turned to Travers.

“I suggest you listen to her,” she warned him, “Trust me, my sister has a wicked nasty temper. You don’t want to piss her off,” the two girls were gone before either man could say a word. Travers turned to Giles, slightly taken aback by her admissions, and scared shitless of what she could do.

“Is there something you need to tell me, Rupert?”

 

“Where the hell did that come from?” Faith demanded after they had left the Library. Buffy grinned.

“Sometimes, the greatest weapon one can posses is the truth,” Buffy told her, “When used appropriately, it can cause more damage than a lightsaber. Master Yoda gave me diplomatic lessons as well, the other half of a Jedi’s responsibility. Always find a peaceful way out first. Violence should be used only as a last resort,” Buffy shrugged, “I saw a few things in a prophecy during research once. When I showed to Giles, he got real nervous, so I presumed it was important. I just added the things that matched that prophecy.”

“Sneaky, sis,” Faith said, giving her twin a quick hug, “You’ve been takin’ lessons off Dru.”

“Nope,” Buffy said, “Master Yoda could give Dru lessons in sneakiness. He told me that, during the days of the Republic, just the mention of a Jedi could easily resolve conflicts. They had this huge mystique goin’. Even though there was never an army of them, people were afraid of their reputation.”

“They bluffed an entire galaxy?”

“More like…took advantage of myths, legends and rumours,” Buffy corrected her.

“Now that’s my kind of people,” Faith said as they headed towards Xander’s, “Except for the ‘non-violence’ part. Don’t think I could get by without a dose of ass whoopin’ every night.”

“’Specially when the Council comes around,” Buffy said teasingly. Faith grinned.

“After your little blow out, I don’t think we’ll be having too many problems with them,” Faith said. Buffy made a noise.

“Don’t bet on it,” she muttered as she felt Angel and Dru coming towards them.

“How’d it go?” Angel asked. Faith grinned.

“B went cold and commanding on his ass,” she said proudly, “Told him to behave himself,” Dru looked over at her.

“Some Jedi tricks,” Buffy explained, “Calm exterior, heavily veiled threats, announcement of who and what I am. He got the picture.”

“Damn straight!” Faith said, “Dope didn’t know what hit him.”

“Things will be easier now,” Dru said softly, “The Council will begin to understand. There will be resistance, but…” she looked at the two she considered her daughters, whom she had guided from the shadows to this point, “You both did well. I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks, Dru,” Buffy said. She really had started thinking of the vampire seer as an older sister, and knew Faith felt the same way. She grinned over at her sister, “Race ya to Xander’s,” she said, speeding off.

“Hey, wait for me,” Faith yelled, running after her.

Chapter 21

A month had sped past. Buffy, Xander, Faith, Willow and Joyce were making last minute preparations.

“So, where exactly is the ship?” Faith asked again.

“Hidden,” Joyce told her, “R4’s meeting us just outside of town.”

“I still don’t like this,” Giles said again, “I mean, there’s no telling what may happen to you.”

“We train, we fight…” Buffy began.

“…We kick Imperial ass,” Faith finished for her, “Any questions?”

“I just don’t think it’s wise for either Slayer to abandon the Hellmouth,” Giles said.

“Hence Angel and Dru staying to keep an eye on things,” Buffy said, “We’ve been through this before, Giles. Everything is under control.”

“You’ll excuse me if I’m less than enthusiastic,” Giles muttered dryly.

“I think he’s worried,” Dru said.

“Now see here,” Giles said gruffly, “I am not worried. I know full well they can take care of themselves,” the group noticed he was wiping his glasses the whole time.

“He’s worried about us,” Buffy sent through the links.

“That is so sweet,” Willow sent back.

“Thanks for worrying, Giles, but we’re fine,” Buffy said. The Watcher sighed.

“I guess I’m not used to staying behind while you four go risking your life,” he said.

“After the way B knocked you out before she went after the Master Pain, you should be used to it,” Faith said.

“At least you’re not getting any bumps this time, G-Man,” Xander offered.

“Yeah, you should be grateful about that,” Willow added.

“You knocked him out?” Joyce asked. Buffy turned to face her.

“He was going to take my place to try stop the whole ‘Slayer will die’ prophecy,” Buffy explained, “The only way to stop him was to knock him out,” Joyce nodded, understanding.

“At least she won’t need to go physical on him next time,” Faith said, placing a box of food on the pile. Joyce nodded.

“Nice to see she’s a bit more diplomatic,” Buffy glared at her mother.

“I can be diplomatic,” she said.

“Yeah,” Faith agreed, “If diplomats add ‘or else’ onto their decisions,” Buffy’s comeback was cut off by an explosion of beeps.

“We’re ready, R4,” Joyce said into her communicator, “Gives us a pick up point,” more beeps and whistles, “Isn’t that a bit close to town?” Beeps, whistles, “What do you mean you’re already there?” Faith looked at Buffy.

“Well?” Buffy shrugged.

“Something about modifications he’s been making…” she stopped a moment, “A cloaking device? R4’s been busy.”

“He got a cloaking device working?” Willow asked, “How?”

“Something about…” Buffy stopped a moment, “Mom, did I here that right, or…”

“R4, this isn’t funny,” Joyce said. More beeps, “Alright, but I want a look at this cloaking device.”

“I don’t believe you!” Joyce fumed, pacing around the engine room of the StarShot, “You went and put a nuclear reactor in the ship and expect me to let my daughters travel in it?”

“Mrs, uh, Summers?” Willow said timidly, “H-he said cold fusion. At least, that’s what Buffy translated. I-it’s a little safer than nuclear power. I-I guess it was the closest to the ships power supply he could find, s-so it didn’t interfere with the other systems. Maybe?” Joyce exhaled sharply.

“I know,” she said, “I guess I’m a bit nervous. Going back…”

“Don’t sweat it, mom,” Buffy said, wrapping her arm around her mothers shoulder, “Things’ll work out.”

“You’re right, hon,” Joyce said, “I’m sorry, R4,” the astromech answered in his usual fashion, “Excuse me? You still made modifications without my permission. How do you know this thing isn’t going to explode when we try to go into hyperspace?” Beeps, whistles, “What do you mean ‘I’ve already tested it’?” Beeps, whistles, “You did WHAT?”

“R4, are you nuts?” Buffy said. That one, she understood, “You went running around the galaxy, testing this thing, not only without mom, but without her knowledge or permission? What if it blew? We could have lost you, and the ship,” the little droid beeped apologetically.

“Hey, it’s cool,” Faith said, “He’s still here, right?”

“I guess,” Buffy said hesitantly, “But don’t do that again, ‘kay? You’re like the distant cousin that I only get to talk to on the phone and helps me with my homework.”

“’Helps with her homework’?” Joyce demanded.

“Um…” Buffy frantically tried to think of something.

“She probably meant the metaphorically, Mrs S,” Xander said, “Y’know, just to describe it easily,” Buffy thanked him mentally for the save.

“That had better be all it was,” Joyce muttered.

“We’re done,” Dru said, entering the engine room. The seer stopped, taking in what she was seeing, “Oh, my. I never dreamed it would look like this.”

“Yep,” Buffy said, “When mom first showed me the ship, I went ballistic. I immediately wanted to learn how to fly thing. I’m pretty good actually.”

“You can fly this?” Xander asked, “You’re just full of surprises, Buff.”

“Actually, I’m better with the fighter,” Buffy said easily, “Though I think R4 drops some chips when I practice,” there was a burst of beeps and whistles from the droid, “Hey! It’s not my fault you can’t handle my flying.”

“I don’t blame him,” Joyce said. A painful memory came to mind, one she couldn’t just ignore, “Master Kinobi always complained about Anakin’s flying…” Her daughters were wrapping their arms around her before she could finish the sentence.

“I won’t go down that path, mom,” Buffy whispered, “Promise.”

“An’ I won’t let her,” Faith said, “I told her that once, and I tell her every time I get the chance.”

“And it’s not like I’m willing to let her go,” Xander said.

“Yeah,” Willow piped, “And if this Dark Nerdy guy tries something… well, we’ll put the Slayerette Wammy on him.”

“Slayerette Wammy?” Buffy asked.

“I didn’t… Xander!” Willow glared at her childhood friend, soon to be deceased.

“Payback, Wills,” Xander said with a grin, “For that thing about Whistler’s wardrobe.”

“Got her,” Buffy crowed.

“Don’t worry, Wills,” Faith sent, “We’ll get ‘em.”

“Cold day in hell, sis,” Buffy interrupted. Xander snickered.

“It’s going to be a long trip,” Joyce groaned. R4 whistled at her, “What do you mean ‘more fun than last time’?” The droid whistled shortly, which brought a smile to Joyce’s lips, “Now there’s an idea.”

“Well, we’re all set,” Joyce said, walking down the ramp.

“You will be careful, won’t you?” Giles pleaded. Buffy rolled her eyes.

“Relax, G-Man,” Faith said, “We got it covered.”

“Keep him alive,” Buffy said to Angel and Dru.

“He’ll be waiting when you get back,” Dru promised. Angel nodded his agreement.

“I guess this is it, then,” Buffy said, “We’ll be back soon,” the teens stepped up to their friend and mentor, wrapping him in a huge group hug.

“Take care of yourselves,” he whispered, “I don’t know what I’d do without you lot.”

“Go back to stuffy old Rupert?” Xander suggested.

“Clean your glasses less often?” Willow added.

“Let Ripper out on the Emperor’s ass?”

“Faith Summers, mind your language,” Joyce snapped.

“D’oh!”

“Let’s motor, guys,” Buffy said with a grin. They filed up the ramp, Buffy giving one last look before disappearing inside.

Freighter began to lift as the repulsers engaged, carrying the bravest young people Rupert Giles had ever met to the one place he couldn’t help them.

“Please, God, let them come back safe,” he muttered.

Chapter 22

“We’re nearing the end of the wormhole, mom,” Faith reported. Joyce nodded, sitting at the controls.

“Willow, Xander, take the guns please,” she said. “Buffy, get in the fighter. We may not need you out there, but…”

“Better safe than dead. Got it,” Buffy said. “C’mon R4. Let’s motorvate.”

“You’ve rubbed off on her,” Joyce said with a grin. Her other daughter shrugged.

“Someone had to. She’s way too up tight sometimes.”

“Given her sensitivity, that may be a good thing,” Joyce said. Faith shook her head.

“I’m not letting her go, mom. No way, no how. Emperor Palped Ovaltine don’t like it, he can kiss my ass.”

“Now there’s an interesting image,” Joyce muttered. “Exiting hyperspace.”

“X, Red, lock an’ load,” Faith ordered through the comms.

“Ready, Faith.”

“I’m r-ready. I think. Well, as ready as I can be all things considered…”

“I got ya partner,” Faith said with a grin. “Buffy, you in?”

“R4 was just getting locked in. Say the word, sis.”

“And the word is…what the fuck?” Faith gasped.

“By the Force,” Joyce whispered.

“Faith, what is it?”

“We’re right in the middle of a fucking space battle, B. And the little ship’s loosing.”

“Send me out,” Buffy said.

“Not yet, Buffy,” Joyce said. “I’ll see if I can pick up communications from either…” she stopped, stiffening in her seat. “No,” she whispered.

“Mom?” Faith asked.

“Buckle in, all of you,” Joyce said, hands flying over the navigation console.

“Mom, what is it?” Buffy asked.

“Vader’s on one of the ships,” Joyce said.

“That’s what that is?” Faith asked. Buffy was quiet. “B, you okay?”

“I’m trying to block him, Faith,” Buffy whispered.

“Alone?” Faith gasped. “Dammit, B…”

“Drop the fighter,” Buffy said. “Maybe I can…”

“You finish the sentence, B and so help me…” Faith warned. “I ain’t dropping you so you can get caught.”

“Hold on,” Joyce warned as the hit the switch for hyperspace.

“Right,” Faith got up angrily. “I’m gonna go beat some sense into my darling sister.”

Fighter hold

Buffy leaned against the fighter, shaking violently. God, how could anyone be that…?

“What the hell were you thinkin’, B?” Faith demanded as she stormed in, Xander and Willow close behind her. “You really…?”

“Buffy?” Xander asked. Something had gone wrong during there exit, he’d felt something happen, but he hadn’t been able to contact her for some reason. “You okay, baby?”

“I couldn’t…” she whispered. “I couldn’t keep him out. He was just…there and…I couldn’t stop him.”

“Oh God,” Xander breathed, gathering her into his arms. Faith looked at her in shock.

“That’s why you told me to drop you,” she whispered. Buffy nodded.

“It was like this hand had just…reached into my head. I couldn’t keep him out. I was a danger…”

“Why didn’t you tell someone?” Willow asked. How powerful was this Vader?

“I couldn’t,” she whispered. “He wouldn’t let me. I felt so…helpless.”

“Of all the…” Faith said as she joined Xander. “It’s okay, sis. It’s okay. Come on. We’d better tell mom to beeline for Dagobah, yesterday.”

Dagobah

Yoda looked up as the ship came out of hyperspace above the planet. “Arrived, they have,” he muttered, fixing his attention on them, using the Force to direct them.

“You feel that?” Faith asked. Buffy nodded.

“I think he’s sending us somewhere,” Buffy said, looking through the view port. “Over there. A clearing. Hope the ship doesn’t sink.”

“Thanks for that vote of confidence, B,” Faith said as Joyce brought them down.

“Are you all ready to meet a Jedi Master?” Joyce asked.

“Aren’t you a Jedi, Mrs Summers?” Willow asked.

“Call me Janelle here, Willow,” Joyce said. “And no. I’m nowhere near Master Yoda’s level. It’s like comparing an ant to a Bradleys Armoured Tank.”

“Ouch,” Xander gasped. “That’s harsh.”

“Don’t be so sure about that, baby,” Buffy said as they headed out, Janelle at the lead. As they walked down the ramp, they were greeted by a five foot tall green dwarf with pointy ears and a walking stick.

“Master Yoda,” Janelle said, bowing deeply. Buffy followed suit. The other three stood back in shock.

“I thought he’d be taller,” Xander whispered.

“Size matters not,” Yoda said. “Do not judge strength in the Force by size alone. An open mind, a true Master keeps.”

“How…?”

“Ears this big, you think hear you, I do not, hm?” Yoda said with an amused tone.

“You’ll have to forgive him, Master,” Buffy said with a smile. “He’s only human,” Yoda chuckled.

“Aren’t we all, young Padawan?” Yoda commented, looking at Faith. “Hm, such power inside of you. Linked closely to your sister, you are. Yet, not strong enough is your connection. At your age, shield her, you should be able to.”

“She was taken from us at birth, Master,” Janelle said. “We only just found her not long ago.”

“Hm, yes, yes,” Yoda said, nodding. “Such trials already you have travelled. More do I sense for you all,” he turned to Willow and Xander. “And you two. They will need your help in the times to come.”

“We’re ready,” Xander said.

“Y-yeah,” Willow agreed nervously. Even her stripling Force sense could feel what Yoda held in his small frame. “We helped them already.”

“Yes, yes,” Yoda said. “But are you ready to face the Empire?”

“For Buffy, anything,” Xander said.

“Faith and me are partners. I’m not letting her down!” Yoda chuckled at them.

“Such impulsive natures,” he said. “And yet, strong, your resolve is. Yes, I believe you are up to it. Work, though, you still need. Encourage your link, we must. Strengthen your bonds, we must. Ready, you think you are?” The four of them nodded. “Then begin, we will.”

The next month was a gruelling trial for all four of them. Buffy and Faith thought they were in top condition.

They were wrong. Yoda put them through their paces, his paces and their mother’s paces. Faith made a comment about putting them through Angel, Dru, Giles and Doyles paces to make up for them missing out. Yoda said they were too soft and sent them out for another five mile run. Faith kept her mouth after that.

After their bodies were run to their limits, he pushed them further. By the time lunch came, they were exhausted. After lunch, he trained the girls in use of the Force, while Xander was trained by Janelle with a sabre and blaster. Then it was dinner, another run and bed. And sleep. And then up with the sun (not that you could see it) to do it all again. Xander complained once. Master Yoda took his sabre training that day.

He never complained again. For a little guy, he could move.

By the time two months had passed, Yoda’s intensive training had paid off. Beteen them, Faith and Buffy could block the old Jedi’s attempts to get into their minds, and Willow was much stronger than she had been on Earth and possessed her own lighsabre. As for Xander, his training had taken an unexpected twist, unleashing the left over instincts and skills from Halloween.

“Come, the time has,” Yoda said. “Time for you to move on, it is.”

“Thankyou for everything, Master Yoda,” Buffy said, bowing deeply. The other three followed suit.

“Come along way, you have. Yet, more to learn, you have. Not here, though. No, not here.”

“Thankyou, Master,” Willow said.

“Yeah, thanks Master Y,” Faith said irreverently yet at the same time respectfully, which earned a ‘harrumph’ from Yoda. Xander merely saluted as they boarded the ship.

“To Dantooine, you must go. There, perhaps, friends you will find,” Yoda advised as they loaded up. Janelle bowed again silently as the ramp rose. Yoda nodded as they took off. Good. They were ready. Now, for young Skywalker…

TBC

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