Season: First | Second | Third | Fourth | Fifth | Sixth | Seventh
Other Bodies | Episodes | Dramatis Personae
Ramblings | Links | The SETI Slayers | Fanfic
Buffy moves through her darkened house, looking around. She steps into the living room and sees several of the potential Slayers asleep on the floor. She picks a discarded book up off the floor. It’s a Greek dictionary. She puts it down on the desk, with several other foreign language dictionaries: French, Norwegian, Spanish and others. She turns off the lamp over the desk, and moves on.
Buffy moves upstairs and looks into her bedroom. There are a couple more girls asleep in her bed, and others on the floor. She peeks through the open door into Dawn’s room where she sees more girls.
Buffy hears soft sobbing coming from behind her. She turns around and sees one of the girls is sitting crouched in the corner at the far end of the hall.
“Chloe?” Buffy moves toward her. “It is Chloe, right?”
Chloe looks up at Buffy.
Something attacks Buffy. They fall down the stairs together. They land at the bottom, with Buffy under her attacker. She looks up, and sees the First Slayer on top of her.
“It’s not enough,” says the First Slayer.
Buffy gasps and starts upright in her bed. She looks around her room. She’s alone in her bed, but there are several girls asleep on her floor.
Anya walks down an alley with Spike, complaining about the pains of becoming human again. “I mean, sure, the vengeance demon gig has some downsides, but being human? Ugh. You’re always icky on the inside. Disgusting on the outside.”
Spike stops and gives Anya a look. “Your outside’s not so bad.”
Anya stops too. “You know the only thing worse than being human is being trapped inside a household full of humans.”
“Preaching to the choir, love.”
“I mean, it’s like we live in Slayer Central,” says Anya. “I swear, if Buffy rooms or boards one more of the Potential girls, I’m gonna call a— I’m gonna call a health inspector.”
“I like my plan better. Get up. Get out. Get drunk. Repeat as needed. It’s just more elegant.” Spike starts walking again.
Anya follows, and slips her hand around his arm. “Thanks for having me along.”
Spike looks down at Anya’s hand. “Don’t mention it.”
“At first I thought: It’s weird. ‘Is Spike asking me out on a date?’…” Spike stops and looks at her. “…’Cause that would just be…” She pulls her hand away from his arm. “…nuts.”
“Right,” says Spike. “I’m just out for the alcohol.” He starts to walk again.
“Right there with you, Scooter,” says Anya. “Tonight… I plan to drink you under the table.”
“You’re on, then.”
“Good. Of course, once you’re down there, I could join you.” Spike stops again, and Anya turns to face him. “Kidding! I like my sex on top of the table.”
“Would you let it go?” asks Spike. “You’re like a dog with a bone.”
“So what?” asks Anya.
“It’s my bone!” says Spike. “Just drop it.”
“Okay. Okay,” says Anya. “I wasn’t proposing. Time goes by, a girl gets hungry.”
“You should know,” says Spike. He glances aside and sees something. “Oh, thank god.”
The demon grabs Anya and throws her to the ground. “D’Hoffryn says you die!”
Spike grabs the demon, and spins it around. “Of course he does.” He kicks it in the crotch, and then punches it in the face. The demon falls to the ground. Spike looks back and forth between Anya and the demon for a second before he makes up his mind. He grabs her arm, pulls her to her feet, and drags her away down the alley at a run.
Buffy sits at her desk, looking at the two boys in front of it. “This may mean more than you think.”
“That so?” asks Principal Wood. He’s standing behind her. “Because I think what we have here is a couple of chuckleheads who thought that a cafeteria fistfight would impress.” One of the boys has a black eye, and the other has a fat lip, and torn shirt. “I’m not impressed. Buffy, are you impressed?” Buffy shakes her head. “Still, I’m gonna cut you guys some slack this time.” He points toward the exit with his thumb, and the boys waste no time escaping.
Wook looks out through the blinds over the office window for a moment, and then he closes them. “Third fight this week, and it’s just getting worse. Plus, a rise in vandalism. Three students missing. Tell me something, Buffy. In your professional opinion—” He hears a scream, and looks out the other window. It’s just some kids horsing around in the hall outside. “It’s started, hasn’t it?” He closes the blinds over that window too.
“The Hellmouth has begun it’s semi-annual percolation,” says Buffy. “Usually it blows around May.”
“Was it like this before?” asks Wood. “I mean, it just seems to me as if things are getting bad faster than we thought.”
“We’re a little ahead of schedule.”
“Well, I can’t say I’m too surprised,” says Wood. “I knew I signed on for something, but, Buffy, I’m just a guy. Granted a cool and sexy vampire fighting guy, but still…”
Buffy smiles up at him. “Don’t forget snappy dresser.”
“Thank you. But this is gonna get bigger than me.”
“Yeah, it is.”
“That’s why I’ve decided to give you this.” Wood picks up an old beaten leather satchel off the floor and puts it on Buffy’s desk.
“What is it?” asks Buffy.
“An emergency kit,” says Wook. “This bag belonged to my mother.”
Buffy looks at the bag. “A Slayer keepsake. I—I—I couldn’t.”
“No, you have to,” says Wood. “Technically, it should have been passed down directly to you through the years, but after my mother died I guess I just couldn’t part with it.”
“I don’t know what’s inside, exactly, but I know it has something to do with her power,” says Wood. “Well, your power now.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“Try saying: ‘Thank you, Principal Wood.’”
“Thank you, Principal Wood.”
“Ah, call me Robin. Now I’d like to see where you work.”
Buffy looks around her cubical. “Um, here. Actually. Uh, this is my desk, and, um…” She picks up a cup full of pencils. “…these are my pencils.”
“No,” says Wood. “Where you do your other work.”
Buffy tells Wood about the First destroying the Council of Watchers, and how all the surviving potential Slayers are making their way to Sunnydale as they enter the front door of her house. She leads him into the living room.
“Nothing like the end of the world to bring people together,” says Wood.
“It’s heartwarming.” Buffy points around the living room. “Anyway, this is, uh, it. Command Central.” Command Central has a lot of bedding piled in the corners.
Andrew comes out of the kitchen. He’s wearing an apron and oven mitts. He crosses his arms. “Where the hell have you been? This funnel cake is kicking my ass.”
“Yeah. I hear they’re tricky,” says Wood.
“Robin Wood,” says Buffy, “this is Andrew.”
Wood shakes Andrew’s mittened hand. “It’s a pleasure.”
“Andrew is our… Actually, he’s our hostage,” says Buffy.
“I like to think of myself more as a ‘guestage.’” Andrew makes air quotes with his oven mitts.
“So you…you hold him here against his will?” asks Wood.
“Well, he was evil,” says Buffy, “people got killed, and—and now he bakes. I-it’s a thing.”
“Could we try to just keep our secret headquarters a little bit secret?” asks Andrew. “Keep bringing people in, they’re going to see everything. They’ll see the big board.”
“Andrew,” says Buffy patiently, “we don’t have a big board.”
Andrew pulls a white board out from behind the chair. He’s drawn a map of Sunnydale on it. “I made it myself.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t have guessed,” says Wood.
Andrew points at the board with his mitten. “Uh, this is us.” He’s drawn a castle to represent Buffy’s house. “And this represents the First…in various incarnations.” Various devil heads have been drawn around town. “And, uh, there’s no pattern to the naked eye yet, but the instant one emerges, yours truly is on it.”
Buffy nods for Wood to follow her, and she walks back toward the kitchen.
“Where do we put our receipts?” calls Andrew after her.
Buffy and Wood step out the kitchen door onto the back porch. “You’ll have to forgive Andrew,” she says. “Or not. Your call. We do have a lot more working for us than just the, uh, ‘big board.’”
Wood looks around the back yard. “So I see.”
Kennedy is supervising sixteen other girls, directing them in their workout kata, and sounding like a movie drill sergeant. She orders a punch block combo, and all of the girls execute it flawlessly, except for Chloe, who ends up facing the opposite direction than the other girls.
“Hold it!” Kennedy gets right in Chloe’s face. “What the hell you call that, Potential? Try that in the field, you are dead! Drop and give me twenty!”
“Twenty what?” asks Chloe.
Chloe drops and starts doing her pushups. Kennedy turns and sees Buffy. She rushes over to her. “I love this job! Did you see that? I called that girl ‘maggot!’” She sees Wood, and puts on her drill sergeant face again, with her fists on her hips. “Hi. Who the hell are you?”
“An ally,” says Buffy.
“So what do you think?” asks Kennedy. “The girls ready to kick some ass or what?”
“Looking strong,” sad Wood.
“But…” Kennedy can see he has some reservations.
“Oh, I’m just not sure the First has an ass you can actually, you know, kick,” says Wood.
“Guess we’ll see.”
Amanda notices their visiter too. “Principal Wood! Hi! It’s so weird seeing you outside of school.”
Wood waves to her, and she waves back.
Kennedy turns and sees Amanda waving. “What are you waving at, Potential? Attention!”
Amanda and the other girls who had been starting to relax a bit when Kennedy wasn’t looking all snap to attention.
Buffy watches as Kennedy resumes the workout. “You’re right. It’s not enough.”
“That’s not what I said, Buffy,” says Wood. “It’s an impressive group of recruits.”
“They’re not recruits,” says Buffy. “Recruits are…recruited. These girls were Chosen.”
“Well, you’re doing the best you can with what you’ve got,” says Wood.
“They’re not all going to make it,” says Buffy. “Some will die. And nothing I can do will stop that.”
Willow comes out of the house with an armload of weapons. She sees Wood with Buffy. “Oh. Hi. Hey. Well, Buffy, I—I see that our preparation for the…school… pep-dance-cheer-drill-contest are—are coming along. Bring it on!”
“It’s okay,” says Buffy. “I filled him in on everything.”
“Oh, thank god.” Willow dumps the weapons on the porch table. “If I had to explain all these weapons, I had nothing.”
“Buffy tells me you’ve been, um, oh, how shall I put it?” asks Wood. “Experimenting.” Willow snaps a look at Buffy. “With the magics.”
“Oh. Yeah,” says Willow. “Oh, nothing too heavy though. Just the lighter, safer stuff. Uh, if Kennedy asks, her pointy stuff’s right there. See you inside.” She pauses and speaks to Buffy. “So much cooler than Snyder!” She goes back into the house. Wood and Buffy go back to watching the workout.
“She really almost destroyed the world?” asks Wood.
“Yep,” says Buffy.
“Remind me not to make her crabby.”
Buffy glances at Wood. “Might be better if you did.”
“How’s that work?” asks Wood.
“Oh, I don’t know,” says Buffy. “It’s just… The First is coming, and then look at us. The army. We’ve got a bunch of fighters with nothing to hit, a wicca who won’ta, and the brains of our operation wears oven mitts.”
“Well, you’re redefining the job, Buffy, and that takes guts. This isn’t your full arsenal, anyway.” Wood keeps staring at the girls doing their workout. “Show me the vampire.”
“But you just let him go!” says Anya.
“After saving your life,” says Spike.
“For now,” says Anya. “That was one of D’Hoffryn’s killers, Spike. He won’t stop coming till he kills me.”
Buffy and Wood are coming down the stairs behind Spike. “Yet here you are walking, talking, annoying,” he says.
“But you fought like such a wimpire, what with the lifting and the running,” says Anya. “Why not just kill him?”
Buffy and Wood pause at the base of the stairs, not wanting to interrupt. Wood starts to wander around the basement, looking at the training equipment, and everything else down there except for Spike.
“Anya, think. I fight, demon boy gets lucky, I get knocked out, you get killed,” says Spike. “True?” Anya tries to come up with an argument for that, but she can’t. “We both know the safest and sanest way of saving your life is to keep you with me, away from danger.”
Anya walks away from Spike, toward the stairs up out of the basement. She passes Buffy.
“No need to thank me,” says Spike as he turns around. “I’m just the one who beat him off!” He seems to notice Buffy for the first time. “Repelled him would perhaps be the better phrase. Demon.”
“Figured,” says Buffy.
“I hope we’re not intruding,” says Wood. He still doesn’t look toward Spike.
Spike turns to look at him. “Not a bit. And just what brings our good principal to this neck of the gloom?”
“I’m showing him our operation,” says Buffy. “Us.”
“Fine by me,” says Spike. “Big fight against evil coming up. The more good guys we’ve got, the longer we all live.”
Wood is still standing with his back to Spike. “Is that what you are? A good guy?”
“I haven’t heard any complaints,” says Spike. “Well, I have heard a few complaints over the years, but then I just killed whoever spoke up and that was pretty much that.”
“He’s joking,” says Buffy.
Wood turns around, and finally looks at Spike. “No, he’s not.”
Spike looks at Wood. “No, I’m not. But…that’s the old me I’m talking about.”
“Why don’t you tell me about that,” says Wood.
“There’s not much to tell,” says Spike. “I’ve changed.”
“Oh. Now that you have a soul.”
“Yeah. That was a big deal. Very…private.” Spike turns to look at Buffy. “What? Are you just telling everyone now?”
“Oh, come on, Spike,” says Wood. “Don’t blame Buffy. I asked.”
“Right,” says Spike. “The educator. Yeah. I went to great lengths, lots of trouble, and now I’m unique. Well, more or less. Got myself a soul. Whatever that means.”
Wood starts to walk slowly toward Spike. “And how’s that working out for you?”
Wood stands looking Spike in the eyes. “Well, you’ve had some time. You’ve been in Sunnydale, what?”
“Years,” says Spike.
Buffy watches Spike and Wood staring at each other for a moment before she steps up to them. “I think we’d better get back upstairs.”
“Right,” says Spike. “Give him the full tour. You don’t want to miss a look at her weapons chest.”
Buffy rolls her eyes at the testosterone display going on between Wood and Spike, and turns toward the stairs. After a beat Wood follows her.
Buffy lays out bedding on the floor of Dawn’s room. Dawn has been looking through the bag Buffy got from Principal Wood.
“And?” asks Buffy.
“Smelled weird,” says Dawn. “Kind of like Grandma’s closet, but…worse.”
“I didn’t know that was possible,” says Buffy. “Anything we could use?”
“Trinkets, weapons…” Dawn picks up an ancient book off her desk. “…one very large text book. Translation’s gonna be a bitch, but… Did you know that ancient Sumerians did not speak English?”
Buffy scoffs. “They’re worse than the French! Anything else?”
“Um, yeah. A box,” says Dawn. “A big, fat, unopenable box. I betting whatever the big deal about this emergency bag is, you’ll find it in the box.”
“Good. Keep on it.” Buffy heads out into the hall. “Don’t you have any real homework?”
Dawn follows Buffy. “Oh. You mean, like, schoolwork?”
“Well, I’ve got a system,” says Dawn. “It’s called flunking out!” Buffy snaps her head around to look at her. “No. I was just kidding. I’m paying someone to do my work.” Dawn giggles, and follows Buffy toward the bathroom. “I’m kidding! I love to see your eyeballs change color when you think I’m gonna flunk out of—” Buffy opens the bathroom door. Chloe is hanging from the ceiling, with a sheet around her neck. Dawn lets out a startled scream.
Kennedy comes out of Willow’s room across the hall with Rona and Amanda right behind her. “What happened? We heard—” She gasps and puts her hand over her mouth when she sees Chloe.
“Dawn, get a knife,” says Buffy. “I’m cutting her down.”
The First appears beside Chloe, and looking like Chloe. “Good thinking. But on the other hand, why rush. Up or down, I’ll still be dead.”
“You’re not Chloe,” says Buffy.
“Yeah, well, neither is she, anymore.” The First looks at the body hanging beside her. “Now she’s just Chloe’s body.”
“What did you do to her?” asks Kennedy.
“Nothing!” says the First. “We just talked all night. Well, I did most of the talking. But Chloe is…I’m sorry, was a good listener. Till she hanged herself. Like when you called her maggot. She really heard that.”
“Don’t listen to it. Any of you,” says Buffy. “It’s the First.”
“Oh, let them,” says the First. “The only reason why Chloe offed herself was ’cause she knew what you’re not getting. I’m coming. You’re going. All this? It’s almost over.”
“We’ll be here,” says Buffy.
“All of you?” asks the First. “But wait. I thought…” Its voice shifts to imitate Buffy’s “‘They’re not all gonna make it. Some will die, and nothing I can do will stop it.’” It switches back to Chloe’s voice. “Hey, I didn’t say it. But I’ll be seeing all of you…One by one. T.T.F.N.” The First vanishes in a flash of light.
Buffy looks confused. “What’s T.T.F.N?”
“It’s ‘Ta-Ta For Now.’” says Rona. “It’s what Tigger says when he leaves.”
“Chloe loved Winnie the Pooh,” says Amanda. She’s close to crying.
Buffy keeps looking at Chloe’s body. “Dawn, where’s that knife?”
Buffy shovels dirt into a grave in a clearing in the woods. There’s another grave beside it.
Everyone is quiet in the Summers’ living room. The potential Slayers stand and sit around in small groups, some are crying softly. Buffy walks in, still carrying the shovel she used to bury Chloe. “Is everyone here?”
Kennedy glances around. “All accounted for.”
“Anyone want to say a few words about Chloe?” asks Buffy. She waits for a moment for someone to speak up. No one does. “Let me. Chloe was an idiot.” Everyone is shocked by the harshness in Buffy’s voice. “Chloe was stupid! She was weak! And anyone in a rush to be the next dead body I bury, it’s easy. Just…think of Chloe, and do what she did. And I’ll find room for you next to her and Annabelle. I’m the Slayer, the one with the power, and the First has me using that power to dig our graves!” Buffy throws the shovel onto the floor. “I’ve been carrying you, all of you, too far, too long. Ride’s over.”
Kennedy jumps to her feet. “You’re out of line!”
“No, she’s not,” says Willow.
Kennedy turns toward Willow. “You’re gonna let her talk to you like that? Willow, she’s not even the most powerful one in this room. With you here, she’s not close.”
“You’re new here,” says Buffy, “And you’re wrong. Because I use the power that I have. The rest of you are just waiting for me.”
“Well, yeah, but only because you kind of told us to,” says Xander. “You’re our leader, Buffy, as in ‘follow the.’”
“Well, from now on, I’m your leader as in ‘do what I say.’” says Buffy.
“Ja voll!” says Xander. “But let’s not try to forget we’re also your friends.”
“I’m not,” says Anya from the sofa.
Buffy spins around to look at her. “Then why are you here? Aside from getting rescued, what is it that you do?”
“I—I provide much needed…sarcasm.”
Xander raises is hand. “Um, that would kind of be my job, actually.”
“You’re here because you’re scared,” says Buffy.
“Same goes for everyone in this room,” says Xander.
“Fine,” says Buffy. “Anya, all of you, be as scared as you’d like, just be useful while you’re at it.”
“Come on, Buffy,” says Willow. “You know everyone here is doing everything they can.”
“The First isn’t impressed,” says Buffy. “It already knows us. It knows what we can do and it’s laughing. You want to surprise the enemy? Surprise yourselves. Force yourself to do what can’t be done or else we are not an army. We’re just a bunch of girls waiting to be picked off and buried.”
Spike had been leaning against the desk. He straightens up and starts toward the door. “Where are you going?” asks Buffy.
“Out,” says Spike. “Since I’m neither a girl nor waiting, all this speechifying doesn’t really apply to me, does it?”
“Fine,” says Buffy. “Take a cell phone. That way if I need someone to get weepy or wailed on, I can call you.”
Spike turns back toward her. “If you’ve got something to say—”
“Just said it,” says Buffy. “You keep holding back, you might as well walk out that door.”
“Holding back?” asks Spike. “You’re blind. I’ve been here, right in it. Fighting, scrapping—”
“Since you got your soul back?”
“Well, as a matter of fact, I haven’t been quite relishing the kill the way I used to.”
“You were a better fighter then,” says Buffy.
Spike steps toward Buffy. “I did this for you! The soul, the changes, it’s what you wanted!”
“What I want is the Spike that’s dangerous!” says Buffy. “The Spike that tried to kill me when we met!”
“Oh, you don’t know how close you are to bringing him out.”
“I’m nowhere near him,” says Buffy. “Dawn, get the Potentials upstairs and break out that emergency kit.”
“What are you gonna do?” asks Dawn.
“I’m declaring an emergency.”
Wood has joined them in the living room. All of the Potentials, except for Kennedy have been sent away. Wood sets the bag he gave Buffy down on the coffee table.
“We thought you’d want to be here,” says Buffy.
“Yeah, you thought right,” says Wood.
People start pulling things out of the bag. “That emergency bag’s got some neat stuff in it,” says Dawn. “Weapons, charms…” She takes the book. “…advanced reading assignments.”
“Yeah, cool stuff…” Xander looks over a strange object he pulled from the bag. “…we’ve seen it all before.”
Anya touches a wooden box, still in the bag. “Well, not this, we haven’t. What’s inside it?”
“I don’t know,” says Wood. “It hasn’t been opened since—” Buffy reaches out, breaks off the lock, and lifts the lid. “Well, since now.”
Xander pulls a stylized metal silhouette of a demon out of the box. He bounces it around. “Puppets. That’s it! The First hates puppets. Now, if we can just airlift Kermit, Fozzie the Bear, and Miss Piggy into town, the First’ll be a-running.”
“Those are muppets,” says Willow.
Dawn has been consulting the book. “And these things are shadow casters.” She takes the demon image from Xander. “You put them in motion and they tell you a story. It says you can’t just ‘watch,’ you have to ‘see.’”
“What the hell does that mean?” asks Anya.
“It’s cryptic,” says Xander. “I don’t like it. Every time instructions get cryptic, someone gets hurt. Usually me.”
“You can’t just watch, you have to see?” asks Buffy. “See what?”
“That’s where all my fancy translating skills break down,” says Dawn. “But I think it’s an origin myth. The story of the very first Slayer.”
“I saw her!” says Buffy.
Everyone looks at Buffy. “You saw the First Slayer?” asks Wood.
“The other night, in my dream,” says Buffy. “It’s gotta mean something, right?”
Xander lights the small torch in the center of the pentagon shaped platform they have set up in the center of the living room. It’s the only illumination in the room.
Dawn struggles with her translation. “Okay, according to this—I think—you put on those puppet guys one by one. They cast shadows and the shadows tell the story. First there is the Earth.”
Xander places the first shadow caster—mountains, with a moon over them—into a slot at the edge of the pentagon, and rotates it a bit so its shadow is cast on a blank section of wall. The sound of low drumming fills the room.
“What’s that sound?” asks Kennedy.
“Okay, so far, so creepy,” says Xander.
“Okay,” says Dawn. “Then there came the demons.”
Xander places the demon shadow caster on the edge of the pentagon, beside the Earth. The sound of a demon howling gets added to the drumming.
“After demons, there came men,” says Dawn. Xander places a shadow caster showing three men with staffs beside the demon, and chanting gets added to the sound. “Men found a girl.” Xander places the shadow caster for a girl on the platform. Her screams are added to the drumming, chanting, and the howling of the demon.
“The men took the girl to fight the demon,” says Dawn. “Um, all demons. They…they chained her to the Earth.” Xander places the last shadow caster, a chain, linking the girl to the Earth onto the platform. “And then…and I— I can’t read this. Something about darkness.”
“What about darkness?” asks Buffy.
The platform begins to rotate, and the shadows it casts move. The men drum their staffs against the Earth. The demon writhes, and grows. The chain goes around the girl’s neck. The demon attacks the girl.
“It says you cannot be shown,” says Dawn. “You cannot just watch, but you must see. See for yourself but only if you’re willing to make the exchange.”
“When did you get so good at Sumerian?” asks Xander.
“It’s not in Sumerian anymore,” says Dawn. The words on the open pages have transformed into English.
The platform spins faster and faster, and then vanishes. Brilliant light shines from a black void that stands where the platform had been.
“But what does it mean?” asks Xander.
They all look at the shining black void. “Means I have to go in there,” says Buffy.
“No, it doesn’t!” says Willow. “Where does it say that? It doesn’t say that!”
“Buffy, you don’t even know what you’re exchanging,” says Wood. “You don’t even know if you’re ready yet.”
“That’s the point,” says Buffy. The void is starting to shrink.
“No,” says Willow. “Buffy, we don’t know where you’re going or how we’ll get you back!”
“Buffy, you can’t!” says Xander.
“How will we get you back?” asks Willow.
“Find a way.” Buffy dives into the void, and vanishes. The portal closes, leaving nothing. The shadow casters have gone too.
“She’s gone,” says Willow.
Xander steps into the space where the portal had been. “Huh!”
“What was that about an exchange?” asks Anya.
There is another flash of light. When it fades a large, black skinned, tusked demon is standing in the living room. Xander looks up at it. “Ah, this must be the exchange student.” The demon grabs Xander by the shirt, and throws him onto the research table. It shatters when Xander lands on it.
“Willow, use your magic!” shouts Kennedy. “Send him back!”
“Um, trying.” Willow begins a spell. “Redi!” The demon whirls around and knocks her against the fireplace. Willow slumps to the floor, unconscious.
Dawn runs for Buffy’s weapons chest, and Wood grabs some throwing stars that had been in his mother’s bag. He throws them at the demon. They stick into its back, but the demon doesn’t even seem to notice. Wood attacks it with a knife. The demon grabs Wood and throws him at Anya.
“Weapons!” calls Kennedy.
Dawn already has the weapons chest open. She tosses a sword to Kennedy, and grabs an axe for herself. They attack the demon together, and both get thrown back. Kennedy lands on the sofa, and Dawn lands on the floor beside it.
Spike jumps onto the demon’s back. “Get her out of here!” he shouts. “All of you! Unless you want to end up all dead and useless.”
“What’re you gonna do?” asks Kennedy.
Spike holds on, and slams a fist into the demon’s side. “What I do best.” He bounces the demon’s head off the wall.
The demon spins around, and grabs Spike by the throat. It throws him right up through the ceiling. Spike lands on the broken floor in Willow’s room.
The demon smashes out through the French doors into the foyer, and then rips the front door off its hinges. It runs out into the night.
Dawn looks at Kennedy. “Are you injured?”
Kennedy is looking at her bloody knuckles. “Just hurt. Don’t make a case out of it. How about you?”
Everyone is picking themselves up off the floor. “I think we’ll live,” says Xander.
Anya glances at the ceiling. “Except maybe Spike.”
“Is getting thrown through the ceiling what he does best?” asks Kennedy.
Dawn starts toward the stairs. “I’ll go check on him.”
“We’ve got bigger problems than that,” says Anya.
“Yeah,” says Wood. “Demon loose, no Slayer.”
“We need Buffy,” says Willow.
“You gotta get her back.” Xander points at his watch. “Looks like it’s spell o’clock.”
“Which spell?” asks Anya. “I mean, didn’t you see that thing? And you expect to reopen the portal without sending Willow off the deep end?”
“Thanks for your support,” says Willow.
“Well, it’s true,” says Anya. “We’re gonna have to find another way.”
“There isn’t, and Buffy knew it,” says Willow. “I’ve gotta get her back.”
“We don’t even know where she went,” says Kennedy.
Buffy tumbles out of the portal on top of a familiar desert hilltop. She stands and looks around. It’s daylight, but the light seems…different. Harsher, not really natural. “Well, I guess that worked.”
Xander meets Dawn at the foot of the stairs. “Dawnie, what does the book say?”
“Not much.” Dawn flips the book around so they can see it. “Once Buffy left, it got a little tougher to read.” The pages of the book have gone completely blank.
“Oh,” says Willow. They all move off through the dining room toward the kitchen.
“It’s okay,” says Kennedy. “We’ll just start with what we know, take it from there.”
“Great!” says Xander. “So far we know jack about squat. Let’s go from there.”
“You’ve got the magic.” Kennedy tells Willow. “Use it.”
Willow goes into the kitchen, and gets the first aid kit out of the cupboard. “But I—I don’t even know what magic to use.”
“Why not just try all 32 flavors?” asks Kennedy. “The worst thing that happens is you go brunette.”
“That’s not the worst thing that can happen.” Willow opens the first aid kit. She takes out a bandage, and reaches for Kennedy’s hand.
“She’s right,” says Anya. “And you know we have a choice. We can risk Willow’s life and the rest of our lives to get Buffy back, or we leave her out there.”
“If we play it safe back here, Buffy could stay lost,” says Wood.
“You missed her ‘everyone sucks but me’ speech,” says Anya. “If she’s so superior, let her find her own way back.”
“Anya, the First is already up and running,” says Xander. “Every second that Buffy’s not here is an opportunity for it to show up and rip us to pieces.”
“Willow, how would you get Buffy back?” asks Dawn.
Willow looks up from the bandage she’s putting around Kennedy’s hand. “That’s what I’m saying. I don’t even know.”
“Okay, but if another witch was to do it, where would she start?” asks Dawn.
“Uh, physics,” says Willow. “Principles, basic laws.”
“Um, conservation of energies.” Willow’s done bandaging Kennedy’s hand. “You can’t really create or destroy anything, just transfer.”
Anya scoffs at that. Dawn turns toward her. “I’m sorry, are you helping?”
“No!” says Anya. “But at least I’m not galloping off in the wrong direction.”
“Magic works off physics,” says Willow.
“Not without a catalyst,” says Anya. “If you’re talking about transferring energies, you need some kind of conduit.”
“Like a Kraken’s Tooth,” says Willow.
“Yeah, Skin of Draconus, um, ground-up Baltic Stones, something,” says Anya.
“Okay, good,” says Dawn.
“Plus, we need an exchange,” says Kennedy. “Like you said: I’m thinking a Slayer for a demon.”
“Right,” says Wood. “If we want Buffy back, then we have to find that demon and send it through.”
“It matter if it’s dead or alive?” asks Kennedy.
“I vote dead.” Everyone turns and sees Spike leaning against the doorframe. “The Slayer’s counting on you, Willow. Get cracking on that portal, and don’t be stingy with the mojo. The demon’s mine.”
“Hate to say it, ‘big bad,’ but you look like you can barely stand,” says Kennedy. “We’re trained. And the only thing we know for sure about this demon is it kicked your ass!”
“It did at that.” Spike starts toward the back door.
“Where are you going?” asks Wood.
Spike stops, and shifts his head on his shoulders, as if working a crick out of his neck. “Something I need.”
Buffy finds three men—the Shadow Men—elderly, black skinned, with staffs. They are wearing robes and turbans, sitting in a circle in the sand. She walks up to them. “Hello? I’m Buffy. I’m the Slayer.”
“We know who you are,” says the first Shadow Man.
“And we know why you’re here,” says the second.
“We’ve been waiting,” says the third. All three are speaking Swahili.
“Good. That’s good then,” says Buffy. “Um, I know we have bigger issues to deal with, but how’d I understand anything you guys just said?” The three Shadow Men stand and start circling about her. “Oh, I know, ancient magics. I just thought it was neat.”
The Shadow Men keep circling Buffy. “We have been here since the beginning,” says the first.
“Now we are almost at the end,” says the second.
Buffy looks around, trying to keep an eye on all three as they move around her. “And the neat of it just left. End of what?”
“You are the Hellmouth’s last guardian,” says the third Shadow Man.
“Latest,” says Buffy. “You mean latest guardian.”
“No,” says the first Shadow Man.
“Okay, um, I have a First to fight, okay?” says Buffy. “So just tell me what I need to know. I came to learn.”
“We cannot give you knowledge,” says the first Shadow Man. “Only power.”
“You know what I think?” asks Buffy. “I’m not really here at all. None of this is actually happening. This is like a play, like some shadow play. Some non-reality re-enactment, hologramy—”
The Shadow Man behind Buffy hits her on the back of her head with his staff. She falls to the ground.
Kennedy watches Willow pouring out a line of green sand from a leather bag onto the living room floor. “And this is gonna help us how?”
“The sand forms a circle,” explains Dawn. “The circle acts as a barrier, and the barrier contains the portal.”
Willow finishes pouring the circle, and steps out of it, being careful not to disturb the sand. She hands the bag to Kennedy.
“Well, now what?” asks Kennedy. “We hold hands and chant Kumbaya or something?”
Willow looks uncertain. “Maybe. Till we get the magics up and running, I’m kinda working on my best guess here.”
“Well, maybe we should wait,” says Xander.
“For what?” asks Kennedy.
“Spike,” says Xander. “To see if he can bring back that demon.”
“No, I don’t think we should wait right now,” says Willow. “Opening a portal this size could take days.”
“Better get started,” says Kennedy.
“I think I might pee my pants,” says Willow.
Kennedy steps up closer to her. “You can do it. The magics, not the pants thing.”
“Okay.” Willow steps back into the circle. She sits down with her legs crossed, and her hands on her knees. She takes a deep cleansing breath.
“Via temporis, iam clamo ad te, via spatii, te jubeo aperire.
Nothing happens. Willow looks around. “Dawnie, you better put on some coffee. This could take a whi—” A blast of power suddenly bursts out of Willow, and knocks Dawn and Kennedy off their feet. Willow’s eyes have gone black, and she screams.
Buffy wakes up in a cave. “What is this?” She climbs to her feet, but discovers she can’t move away from where she is. Her wrists are chained to the ground.
The three Shadow Men are in the cave with her, standing around a spiral pattern carved into the floor. “We are at the beginning,” says the second Shadow Man.
“The source of your strength,” says the third. “The well of the Slayer’s power.”
“This is why we have brought you here,” says the first Shadow Man.
“I thought I brought me here.” Buffy tugs at the chains, testing their strength. “Look, listen, you guys, I’m already the Slayer. Bursting with power, really don’t need anymore.”
“The first Slayer did not talk so much,” says the first Shadow Man. They start pounding their staffs on the cave floor. It makes a drumming noise. The first Shadow Man lays down his staff, and picks up a wooden box. He carries it to the center of the spiral pattern carved on the cave floor. He sets it down on the ground, and removes the lid. “Herein lies your truest strength.” He goes back to retrieve his staff.
“The energy of the demon,” says the second Shadow Man. “Its spirit.”
“Its heart,” says the third Shadow Man.
Buffy understands what’s happening. “This is how you—”
“Created the Slayer?” asks the first Shadow Man. “Yes.”
Buffy watches as an oily black mist coils out of the box. It moves like a snake, seeking its prey. The three Shadow Men keep drumming their staffs.
“It must become one with you,” says the third Shadow Man.
“No!” Buffy pulls harder at her chains, and watches the black mist coil around the cave, seeking her.
“This will make you ready for the fight,” says the first Shadow Man
“By making me less human?” asks Buffy.
“This is how it was then,” says the first Shadow Man. “How it must by now.”
“This is all there is,” says the second Shadow Man.
The black mist suddenly darts at Buffy, trying to invade her body through her mouth, nose, eyes and ears. She screams.
Buffy’s scream drives the snake of mist away from her. It hovers in the air around her, seeking a way into her body. The mist attacks again, this time probing through Buffy’s clothes, and under her skirt. She writhes in pain.
The mist withdraws again. “Make this stop!” says Buffy.
The Shadow Men keep drumming their staffs. “This is what you came for,” says the second.
“No!” says Buffy. “This isn’t the way.”
“Do not fight this,” says the first Shadow Man.
The mist attacks Buffy again.
Spike digs through boxes in the school basement, looking for something. He finds it. He pulls out his leather duster. He puts it on.
Spike strides down the school corridor, past the office. Wood is standing in the doorway, leaning against the frame. He watches Spike approaching. “Where are you going?”
“Got a job,” says Spike.
“Nice coat,” says Wood. “Where’d you get it?”
Spike never breaks stride. “New York.”
Wood stands motionless in the door for a moment, and then his head turns to look the direction Spike went.
Willow sits on the floor in the living room. Anya and Xander stand watching her. Kennedy is climbing back to her feet, but Dawn is still lying on the floor where Willow’s blast left her, barely able to move.
“Via, concursus, tempus, spatium, audi me ut imperio.”2
“Screw it!” shouts Willow. Her eyes are still black. “Mighty forces, I suck at Latin, okay? But that’s not the issue! I’m the one in charge, and I’m telling you, open that portal now!”
“It’s not happening, Will,” says Xander.
“Give her time,” says Kennedy. “She’s getting it.”
“Or something’s getting her,” says Xander. “Will, I think you better back up a little.”
“No!” Willow flings her hands back toward Kennedy and Anya, and draws power out of both of them. Her hair turns black. Kennedy and Anya collapse onto their knees on the floor as the portal opens in front of Willow.
Xander grabs Willow, and pulls her out of the circle of sand. As soon as he has her clear, her hair goes back to red.
The demon knocks Spike back. “Oh, come on now, Nancy. You call yourself a demon?” Spike is fully vamped out. “I thought you were up for a proper fight.” The demon knocks him against the alley wall. Spike slumps to the ground and looks up at it. “Now we’re talking.”
Spike gets to his feet, and attacks the demon again. He swings a punch at it but the demon blocks it. Spike jumps onto it and hits it in the face with a head butt. The demon lets go, and drops Spike to the ground.
Spike attacks the demon again, and gets swatted to the ground. He climbs back to his feet. The demon attacks, and this time it’s Spike who blocks the attack, and throws the demon to the ground. He circles around the demon and laughs. Spike howls his enthusiasm for the battle. “Yeah!” He attacks the demon again.
“You think I came all this way to get knocked up by some demon dust?” Buffy watches the mist coiling around her. “I can’t fight this. I know that now. But you guys, you’re just men.” She yanks at the chain holding her right arm, and it snaps free where it was joined to the earth. “Just the men who did this. To her. Whoever that girl was before she was the First Slayer.”
“You don’t understand,” says the first Shadow Man.
“No, you don’t understand,” says Buffy. “You violated that girl, made her slay your demon’s for you because you’re weak. You’re pathetic, and you have nothing to show me.” She spins the chain around her head, and whips it out at the legs of the second Shadow Man. She yanks his legs out from underneath him.
The third Shadow Man raises his staff and attacks Buffy. She swings her chain, and wraps it around the staff. She yanks the staff out of the Shadow Man’s hands and kicks him back against the cave wall.
The demon kicks Spike back against the wall, and charges at him. They grab hold of each other, with their hands around each other’s necks. They struggle for a moment, strength against strength, until the demon’s neck snaps. It drops to the ground.
Spike leans against the wall, catching his breath. “I don’t know your feelings, big guy, but to me, a tussle like that…” Spike’s hand automatically goes into his coat pocket, and he’s a little surprised to discover that he’s got smokes. He puts a cigarette into his mouth, and leans down to light a match off one of the demon’s tusks. He lifts the lit match to the cigarette in his mouth, looking human again. “…is good for the soul.”
Buffy has broken her second chain free. She walks across the cave floor toward the first Shadow Man, the only one still on his feet. She snaps the staff in her hands over her knee. The black mist snake vanishes. “I knew it. It’s always the staff.”
“We offered you power,” says the Shadow Man.
“Tell me something I don’t know,” says Buffy.
“As you wish.” The Shadow Man lifts his hand, and places it on the side of Buffy’s face.
Spike drags the demon’s corpse into the living room. Kennedy and Anya are still down on their knees. They look up at him as he tosses it into the portal.
Buffy’s eyes widen as the Shadow Man’s hand rests on the side of her face. Then she’s enveloped by the portal.
Buffy looks around her living room. Dawn, Anya and Kennedy are all climbing back to their feet, but looking pretty unsteady. Xander is holding Willow up. Spike is bent over, his hands on his knees, looking exhausted. They all look around at each other. No one says anything.
Kennedy moves slowly down the upstairs hall, with her thumbs in her pockets. Willow comes up behind her, and touches her on the elbow. Kennedy turns around.
“Hey,” says Willow. “You okay? You’ve been kinda quiet since—”
“You sucked the life out of me?” asks Kennedy.
“Yeah, since then,” says Willow. “Look, it’s important that you know…what I am. What I’m like when I’m…like that.”
“I thought it would be…I don’t know, cool somehow,” says Kennedy. “It just hurt.”
“Yeah, I’m really sorry,” says Willow. “It’s just you were the most powerful person nearby, and, well, that’s how it works. That’s…how I work.”
“I got that,” says Kennedy. “You told me. I’ll see you in the morning.” Kennedy turns away and opens the door to her room…Willow’s room…and goes inside. She closes the door again, shutting Willow out.
Willow goes back down the hall, and into Buffy’s room. “How you doing?”
Buffy is sitting alone in her bed. “Thanks for bringing me back…again.”
“Aw, that’s what I do.” Willow comes and sits on the end of her bed.
“I was hard on you guys today,” says Buffy.
“Well, that’s all right. You needed to be,” says Willow. “Although twinkies and kisses, also peachy motivational tools.” Buffy doesn’t seem cheered by her joke. “You okay?”
“I think I made a mistake,” says Buffy.
“Those men that I met, you know, the Shadow Men?” says Buffy. “They offered me more power, but…I didn’t like the loophole.”
“So you turned it down?” asks Willow. “It’s okay, Buffy. We’ll get by. We always do.”
“I don’t know,” says Buffy. “They showed me—”
“Showed you what?”
“That the First Slayer was right. It isn’t enough.”
“Why, Buffy?” asks Willow. “What did you see?” Buffy sits silently not saying anything. “What did they show you?”
In a cavern, deep underground a Turok-Han roars. It is one of a vast horde of thousands of howling demons, ready to be unleashed.
|Who or What||Where||How|
|Chloe||Buffy’s bathroom||Hung herself|
|Demon||Alley||Killed by Spike|