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Buffy - Return of the Vampire Slayer

Discussion in 'Introduction To The Watcher Diaries' started by WillowFromBuffy, Jul 31, 2017.

  1. WillowFromBuffy

    WillowFromBuffy "My bowling shoe fetish is not the issue here."

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    It finally happened. I am in the fan-fiction game.

    Warning: I need to stress that this is a very WFB-centric reading of the Buffyverse. If you've read any of my posts on the boards, you should have a good sense of what you are in for. There will be no refunds, but feedback of any kind will be appreciated. This is my first attempt at creative writing as an adult, so I cannot promise quality. The story may seem a little strange at first, but it will eventually morph into something that resembles the old show, I think.

    @Priceless @Fool for Buffy @Ethan Reigns @Zenseem and @ChaseRules were all very encouraging, so I am tagging them her, letting them know that it is on.

    The prologue is called Hell's Bells Revisited. A lot of chapters will have Revisited in the title, as going back will be a frequent theme. Chapter 2 will be called Reunion Revisited. Hopefully that will tease some interest.
     
    Priceless, GoSpuffy and Zenseem like this.
  2. WillowFromBuffy

    WillowFromBuffy "My bowling shoe fetish is not the issue here."

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    Prologue - Hell's Bells Revisited
    2006 - Three years after Chosen

    Before Buffy woke up to the first day of the rest of her life, she had a dream. This was not a premonitory dream. She dreamt of the past. One morning, she sat in the kitchen of Matt’s house looking through the job advertisements in the newspaper. Suddenly, the door flew off its hinges and Willow stormed in, carrying the scythe. Willow did not really break down the door, nor did she actually carry the scythe with her. This only happened in the dream, because dreams like to emphasise and embellish.

    Willow was angry. Willow was often angry. This particular morning, Willow was angry, because she had just learnt that Buffy had given her scythe to Kennedy.

    “You said you weren’t leaving,” Willow shouted.

    “Don’t you think Kennedy can take my place?” Buffy asked. “You and her are still ..?”

    “That is not the issue. Of course, she took it personal when I reacted like I did, but she does not understand,” Willow raved, “and neither do you!

    “Maybe this time I should tell you why I really did it, instead of just yelling back at you,” dream-Buffy said to dream-Willow.

    “I don’t want to hear it,” Willow said, just as she did before.

    “Why does this matter so much to you?” dream-Buffy asked.

    Dream-Willow seemed to realise that Buffy was no longer reading from the script, but she did not answer. At least, Buffy did not remember an answer when she woke up. It did not take long before she forgot the entire dream. There was so much to worry about for today. Hair needed to be done, a dress needed to be put on. Today was the day that Buffy married Matt. Who is Matt, you ask? So did Xander. And so did Willow. And so did most of Buffy’s other old friends. The answer was not as interesting as they had suspected. Matt was a good catch by any standard, except maybe slayer-standard, but then Buffy was not a slayer anymore.

    The ceremony was beautiful. The maid of honour looked a little distant, except for a moment when Buffy though she could glimpse the old giddy Willow. Matt said his vows without stumbling his words. He took Buffy by the hand and walked down the aisle without shivering under the large crucifix that hung from the ceiling. He did not spontaneously combust when they stepped out into the sun.

    There were no family to greet Buffy on the steps. Mother was dead. Father had missed too many ice ring dates. Sister was … Did Buffy have a sister? She could not remember. The planning of the wedding had been such hard work. She may have forgotten a few of the invitations. Giles was there. He had been the one giving her away – away from the Scoobies and into a new life of domestic bliss. He cried. Of course, he cried. And Buffy cried, too. Most of the photos were ruined.

    Then it was a bit of a blur. Camera flashes, handshakes and hugs. She ran into Willow just before the reception was about to start. Willow had arrived only yesterday, so the two had not had the time to properly speak. They hugged. It was the fifth or sixth time today. This time it was a little tighter, because they were practically alone. Buffy even felt Willow’s nails bite into her exposed shoulders. Luckily, Willow kept them short. When they pulled back from each other, Willow’s eyes were swollen.

    “I … yes … good!” Willow held up both her thumbs. “Congratulations! Once more, this time with… yes!”

    “Thank you,” Buffy said. “Hopefully it won’t be long before I will get to be there for you at your special day.”

    “That won’t happen until long after the winds of change stop blowing backwards,” Willow mumbled.

    “Sorry,” Buffy apologized. “My foot still lives in my mouth. My mouth and my new Cinderella shoes.”

    Willow blinked.

    Buffy tried to keep the conversation moving. “Speaking of which, where is Kennedy?” she asked. “I did not see her.”

    Willow looked away. “In New York … or somewhere … engaged to be married to some famous real estate mogul with bad hair.”

    Buffy’s jaw dropped. “Kennedy … is … engaged!?”

    “I’d rather not talk about it.”

    “To a man?”

    “A lot of things have surprised me lately,” Willow mumbled. “None of them good.”

    “Well, from one uncomfortable subject to another. Will you be able to take care of Xander tonight?”

    “Xander is better,” Willow insisted. “I will still be transmuting his wine into water. And he will be scowling at me as though he suspects. I never manage to get the taste quite right.”

    “I am sorry,” Buffy said. “It is just…”

    Willow held up her hands. “I know,” she said. “And Xander knows. He will behave himself.” She sighed. “I cannot pretend like I don’t know what he is going through, though. Neither of us believed the slayer would retire before her slayerettes.”

    Buffy folded her arms. “There is nothing left to slay.”

    Willow rolled her eyes. “That is just semantics.”

    “No,” Buffy said. “That is facts.”

    “Facts, schmacts,” Willow mumbled.

    “What are you even still doing?” Buffy asked.

    Willow grimaced. “We’re doing … stuff. It is not like the world is all perfect just because the demon population is down.” She sighed. “Xander is not doing much of anything. I need to remember to send him a gold watch in the mail.”

    “You’re not turning the slayers into that college Wicca group with the bake sales and the vagina monologues?”

    “Na-ha,” Willow protested. “You are being very unfair. You should come down and check up on us. We are still relevant.”

    Buffy laughed. “I will drop by the office once Matt and I are back in the country, just to make sure you are keeping out of trouble.” She put a hand on Willow’s shoulder. “Are you ready to dance and eat cake? And for your speech?”

    Willow grabbed Buffy’s arm. “Don’t go just yet,” she said. “I have something to tell you, but I am not sure if I should.”

    Buffy raised an eyebrow.

    Willow looked anxious. “It may be bad timing, but you would probably want to know, and I am not sure when I will get the chance.” She sighed. “Just know that I did not plan to spring this on you.”

    Buffy laughed. “Out with it, Willow.”

    “Angel has asked me to help him,” Willow said. “The Powers That Be contacted him…”

    “I am sure you, him and Faith can solve this little job without me…”

    “It is not a job,” Willow said. “They’re retiring him.”

    Now Buffy grimaced. “Which means?”

    “He’s been pardoned. And he has asked me to play the role of fairy godmother and turn him into a real boy.”

    “Oh…”

    A silence ensued. Buffy felt a surge of emotions well up inside her. Willow looked at Buffy discerningly, as if she was trying to gauge her reaction.

    “Give him my best,” Buffy managed. “Even if he has failed to give me his.”

    Willow’s eyes widened. “Oh, that was supposed to be my job.” She smacked her forehead. “There should be a floral thingy with a card on the table somewhere. Real gaudy. Made me forget Harmony is not his secretary any longer.”

    Buffy frowned. “I did not see it.”

    “I’m under so much pressure,” Willow explained. “There is the speech I have to hold and the ritual I have to prepare. I run what’s left of the slayers all by myself. There is no one else left. Soon, I will be babysitting Andrew all by myself.” She sighed. “It is probably up in my room or somewhere. Maybe I asked Xander to bring it.”

    Buffy laughed. “Forget about the flowers, Will. And forget about Andrew. Nobody says you have to babysit him.”

    Willow looked sad. “Well, Andrew is the only one still willing to put in any effort. That is why I tried to talk Angel out of it…”

    Buffy raised an eyebrow. “Talk Angel out of becoming human? Why?”

    “Because pretty soon I will be the only super-hero left. Willow the Friendly Neighbourhood Wicca with her annoying cheerleading man-child.”

    “Then why don’t you retire, yourself?”

    Willow grabbed a champagne glass. Not really to drink, it seemed, but rather to have something in her hands. “I don’t know,” she said, spinning the glass around slowly. “To do what?”

    Buffy did not answer. She had not planned to spend the day giving career advice to old friends.

    “So you are not concerned about Angel becoming human?” Willow asked.

    “No, should I be?” Buffy asked in the most indifferent voice she could muster.

    “Not even if the ritual to turn him is a sex-rite?”

    Buffy shot Willow a look that was so fierce it made the Wiccan take several steps backwards, almost tripping in her long dress.

    “It is not a sex rite,” Willow admitted. “Although I might have to take him to Las Vegas just to check that his soul is stable.”

    “I am not coming home from my honeymoon just to kill Angelus,” Buffy said in mock threat. “If you mess this up, you have to call Andrew for help.”

    The hall behind them was starting to crowd up.

    “We should probably go inside,” Willow said.

    “Just a moment.” Buffy took Willow’s hands in hers. “Thank you,” she said, “for giving me the chance to have this day.”

    “You’re making my eyes puffy, Buffy,” Willow said. “I cannot take all the credit for us still being here, can I?” She waved her hand to summon a tissue from the table.

    “Do you think you will be able to get along with Matt’s family and friends?” Buffy asked as they walked towards the rest of the gathering party. “It will be a long night for you with only Xander and Giles.”

    “They’re all Republicans,” Willow complained.

    “I think there are some Democrats on his mother’s side.”

    “That’s just as bad.”

    They parted ways. Buffy walked over to Matt and his grandmother. She looked and saw Willow approaching Xander and Giles. There were five empty champagne glasses on the table beside Xander.
    ____________
    Buffy and her friends will return in chapter 1 - Midlife.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2017
  3. Fool for Buffy

    Fool for Buffy "I wanna see how it ends"

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    Sineya
    This is good. Shows a lot of promise. Can't wait for things to get interesting!
     
    WillowFromBuffy: Thank you! I need one more chapter for exposition. Then things will quickly start to escalate.
    WillowFromBuffy likes this.
  4. Last Watcher

    Last Watcher Tweed Icon

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    Sineya
    They persuaded you to write it then........? :)

    Not a bad start!
     
    WillowFromBuffy: Thank you! Faith will make her entrance fairly soon.
    WillowFromBuffy likes this.
  5. ChaseRules

    ChaseRules When it comes to dating I the Slayer.

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    Sineya
    I like this Chapter a lot . I like how you wrote everyone . I felt for Willow having to keep everything tighter & having to put up with Andrew even thought he putting a effort into it . I feel for Willow losing Kennedy & in a sense Buffy as well .

    Lastly I got a laugh when Willow said she was turning Xander wine into Water :p

    Keep this up . I really liking it so far.:D
     
    WillowFromBuffy likes this.
  6. Ethan Reigns

    Ethan Reigns Scooby

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    Sineya
    This is a great premise to start with. No clear memory of Dawn? Retired from slaying? We just know things are going to change.
     
    ChaseRules: True. Plus Willow kis all by herself.
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  7. flow

    flow Male Vampires are stupid. Throw rocks at them

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    Yeah !

    Can`t wait for the next chapter. I really enjoyed this one :)

    Flow
     
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  8. Priceless

    Priceless I am now

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    So good, although I already hate Matt :D Hope Dawn doesn't disappear altogether. Can't wait to read more, you've really set the scene well
     
    WillowFromBuffy: Thank you :D Dawn will play a "key" part in the story.
    ChaseRules: Dont forgot Mat & his family are all Republicans,..... LOL
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  9. WillowFromBuffy

    WillowFromBuffy "My bowling shoe fetish is not the issue here."

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    Previously, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

    “Strong is fighting! It's hard, and it's painful, and it's every day. It's what we have to do.”

    “You screw a vampire just to feel!”

    “We can do it together. But if you're too much of a coward for that, then burn!”

    “You came back wrong!”

    “You thought she'd say thanks. Be more grateful.”

    “Would I be a terrible person if I said yes?”

    “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.”

    “This can't be me, this isn't me.”

    “They don't see the weak ones lost in the night. And the things that prey on them. And if I joined them, maybe I'd stop seeing too.”

    banner.jpg
    Dum ... dum ... dum ... dum ... dumdumdumdumdumdum! Created by Joss Whedon, butchered by Marti Noxon and now, thorn to shreds by WFB. Banner by Zenseem.

    Chapter 1 - Midlife

    After the wedding, time started to move faster. Buffy and Matt spent their honeymoon travelling to and fro their hotel room. Two days after coming home, Buffy peed on a stick. For the second time in less than three weeks, her life changed irrevocably. The year after, she delivered Robert to the world. Robert, because no sane person names their child Rupert. Buffy and Bobby. She loved him more than she had ever loved anyone, but love is fickle. Once little William arrived, he stole his mother’s heart completely and refused to let it go.

    Monday hit hard. Matt insisted he could support the family by himself, which was almost true, so Buffy spent the next few years at home. Shopping for four on a budget, keeping the floors of a tiny house sanitised for crawling explorers and making sure her two mutineers got enough sleep turned out to be a full time job and more. Finally finding the time for socialising with other adults was a relief, but Buffy discovered that her topics of conversation had narrowed somewhat. Not that it mattered much. Everyone around her was in the same boat, except older people, who liked to smile knowingly.

    The days, weeks and years passed in a blur. Every year brought new challenges, but there was a paradoxical feeling of monotony. The trivialities ganged up on the big stuff. Every important event was tainted by petty arguments that started and ended on the same day. It got a little better once Buffy started working, which is not to say that getting back to work was not a traumatic experience. Getting up early every morning to get the spawn ready for delivery at the local government indoctrination facility, because Matt still made the most money and needed rest the most. Then there was the train journey downtown. Then followed 8 hours of smiling to co-workers and costumers. The train back. Pick up two tired and hyperactive children. Dinner. TV. Sleep. Repeat.

    Groceries, dinners, tax statements, school report cards, broken windshield, new kitchen, football practice, new kit, student band, trumpet, saxophone, tuba, drums, guitar, sewing circle, Christmas cards, Hanukah card? address?, trashed living room, underage drinking, pregnancy scare, braces, new washing machine, rainy summer, uninspired birthday gift, no raise, new job, no fun, bad back, headache, mother-in-law, school board, bake sale … SMACK!

    When Matt slapped Buffy across her left cheek with his right palm, time slowed down to regular speed again. It was difficult to adjust to such a violent stop after 21 years of fast forwarding. Buffy flexed her muscles in an attempt to stop her arms from shaking. She did not want Matt to see how upset she was. Her heart beat fast. The painting on the wall seemed to be of a sharper colour. Her instincts screamed for her to hit back. It was not as if it would have been the first time she had hit a boyfriend across the jaw, but this time she could have broken her wrist.

    “Get out,” Buffy said in a menacing whisper. She slowly looked up to meet Matt’s gaze. Matt did not know that Buffy had stuck a knife into the gut of her friend and he did not know that she had strangled a demon with a metal wire. But that moment, Matt saw something in Buffy’s eyes that she had never showed him before. He left without protesting.

    He came back. Of course, he came back. One evening after work, he was just there, as if nothing had happened. Why not? It was his house, he told her. He had not come to torment her nor to trivialise her feelings. He wanted her back. He wanted to put this argument to rest, like all the others from before. The children had left the nest. They could talk now. Properly talk. They could date. Heck, they could even go on holiday together. He was sorry for hitting her, but did he really hit her? It was a slap with an open palm. No permanent mark. Who would even believe it? He realised it was unfair to bring violence into an argument. Of course, he did, but she had hurt him in ways she could not fathom. Why was every kindness ignored and every mistake such a big deal?

    One day, Buffy waited for Matt to leave for work, called in sick, made a substantial withdrawal from the modest savings in their joint bank account, called a cab and drove as many of her possessions as she could to a new rented apartment. The house in which she had lived longer than any other place, where her children had grown up, was no longer her home.

    Once she was secure in her new place, Buffy’s first thought was on her two sons. They did not know about the recent argument. Once Matt got home, he would likely dig up his tomahawk, so it was best if she was the one to break it to them. Buffy called Bobby first and William second, arranging to meet both of them in the same café at different times.

    Buffy was nervous, but she needed not have been. Bobby took it surprisingly well – almost insultingly well. Most of his friends’ parents were divorced. It was not as if he had not considered that his own parents would one day separate. Buffy was both relieved and oddly disappointed. She told Bobby how living with Matt had often been difficult, but that she had stuck it out, because she wanted a stable environment for Bobby and his baby brother. Bobby listened patiently to all she had to say as he ate the food she had bought him with the money she did not have because the deposit would force her onto credit cards before the month was over. Once Buffy was done talking, Bobby told her about his life. He pretended to do well in his studies, he told her about his new job and about his new girlfriend. Buffy was oddly prideful that her son was a bit of a ladies’ man, but she made sure he behaved himself better than Parker had done.

    Once Bobby left, Buffy had half an hour to wait before her date with William. It gave her time to reflect. It made sense for Bobby to take it so well. He was not as sensitive as William was. She braced herself for meeting her youngest. If he cried, so would she.

    William did not cry. In fact, he seemed smugly pleased. Buffy knew that while Bobby had always been Matt’s first-born little boy, William had been mostly hers. What she had not realised was how much William had started to resent his father. So much, in fact, that she caught herself coming to Matt’s defence. She did not want to become one of those bitter mothers who drew a wedge between her children and their father. It seemed as if she would not have to.

    So, both her boys went back to their adult lives without crying and without feeling traumatised from learning their parents did not love each other any longer. Buffy walked back to her apartment, hugging herself for warmth. The bus did not go this late and a cab was too expensive.

    Buffy spent the night looking at old photographs. First, she looked at pictures from Bobby and William’s childhood, then from her own. Hundreds of pictures of little Buffy by herself or with her mum. The only child. There were no pictures of friends. All her pictures from her years at Sunnidale High lay at the bottom of a crater. The pictures she had of her youth were from her father. Was she now starting to feel what Hank had felt for so many years? No, that could not be. She was her mother’s daughter, not his, and she would remain a mother to her sons, no matter what it took. Still, she felt a kinship in abandonment.

    A photograph fell out of a box. Buffy picked it up. It was a polaroid of Angel. Where was it from? She remembered owning a polaroid camera in High School, but how had the picture survived? She had no memory of the particular picture. Angel was ageless, so it was impossible to date it. Perhaps she had packed it in her bag before the assault on the Hellmouth. Nevertheless, it was now her single memento from those years. It brought with it a flood of memories of Angel, Willow, Xander, Giles, her mother … even Faith.

    Buffy held the picture up to the light. It was almost as if it was coming alive. Angel’s smooth skin became wrinkled. His brow furrowed. A pair of fangs gleamed. Buffy heard a voice in her head. “No friends, no weapons, no money, no husband, no children, no hope, no vampire boyfriend. Take all that away, and what’s left?”

    “Me,” Buffy responded, just as she did last time, but this time she did not catch the sword. It hit its target and pierced her heart. Tears bled down her cheeks and her body was convulsing uncontrollably. She had not cried since the day she gave birth to William. When she was young, she had cried often. Every Tuesday, in fact. She did not know why she had stopped, but it turned out her body remembered.

    Anyway, there she lay, amidst boxes of stuff and cartons of Chinese food. All of her life packed into 500 square feet. The first slayer to survive into middle age. Forgotten by the world. Laid to rest, but no peacefully.

    Chapter 2 - Reunion Revisited

    This was a dream. It was not the dreamers dream. The person whose dream it was had been destroyed, as if she had never existed at all. The dreamer was a trespasser, travelling through memories of a life that was not her own. The dream did not matter to the dreamer. She did not understand why she dreamt this particular dream, and as the dreamer was not conscious, she was unable to reflect further into the possible cause.

    In the dream, the dreamer or the person whose dream it was or whose dream it had once been was standing in front of a room of the dreamer’s fellow students.

    “In this lecture,” the dreamer stammered, “I am going to talk about the inevitable thermodynamic equilibrium our universe will indubi … ta-leeh … inevitably experience.”

    The other students were shifting in their seats. It was Friday afternoon. Most of them had already held their first lecture. They were anxious to get out and enjoy their weekends.

    The dreamer removed her glasses. She used all her fingers when she pulled them off, as if she was wearing gloves. Her hand shook. “Imagine a room that is closed off,” she said. “No air passes through the walls.”

    “Like this one,” one of the other students shouted from the back. Everyone laughed. Even the dreamer laughed.

    “A battery,” the dreamer continued. “A battery powers a frying pan. The frying pan becomes warm and heats up the bacon. Some of the warmth spreads into the room. You eat the bacon and receive sustenance. This energies your body. The energy passes into new forms, but eventually it will pass into forms that are useless. The battery will run out, making it impossible to heat the frying pan. All the bacon will be eaten and it cannot be eaten again once it has been … digested and excreted.”

    The crowd groaned. This had to be the worst of the student lectures so far.

    The dreamer composed herself and kept going, but she had forgotten where she put her glasses, and it had become almost impossible for her to read her notes. Her eyes were tearing up from the strain. She did not dare look for her glasses, because she feared the crowd would laugh if she started searching for them.

    “Some scholars of … er … the humanities have developed their own theory of cultural thermodynamics.” This was a terrible save, and the dreamer knew it. “Physics is dependent on the sun. Likewise, culture is dependent on sun-like people. Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Shakespeare, Aphra Behn. These people power our culture. With each generation, there are fewer of them. The different cultures are becoming more and more similar. Eventually, we will have cultural heat death or an equilibrium of … numbing silence.”

    The dreamer kept dreaming its stolen dream, unaware that someone was invading the space in which the dreamer slept. The rock placed before the dreamer’s tomb was removed and an invader crept down the stair to the dreamer’s crypt. The invader’s naked feet thread silently on the dust, so that the dreamer would not wake prematurely.

    The invader saw two sarcophaguses before her. “You are a whited sepulchre, you are,” the invader said to the first sarcophagus, before moving on to the second one. Her fingers traced the edge of the lid through the dust. The sound of a lock opening echoed in the crypt. She threw the lid against the wall. There was a woman inside, even more waiflike than the invader was. Her hair was brown. No, it was not. It was bright blue. This was both the dreamer and the remains of the woman whose dream was being dreamt.

    The tomb raider straddled the sleeping beauty, before bending forward to give her a kiss on the neck. The dreamer opened her eyes and moaned, but she did not rise. Her strength ebbed out of her, along with her blood.

    The crypt did not look so dark anymore. The invader could see more clearly. She wiped her mouth and licked her fingers. The lid on the remaining sarcophagus did not feel as heavy as the one she had already opened. The invader lifted it with even more ease.

    In this one, a man was sleeping. He had long blonde hair, the edges of which were white. His cheeks were covered by uneven stubble. An old scar split one of his eyebrows. The invader laughed. She lifted her wrist to her mouth and sank her fangs into her arteries. Blood gushed out. She pressed the wound against the man’s mouth. His eyes sprang open. He grabbed the woman’s arm with both of his hands and drank deeply from it.

    “You’re in trouble now,” the invader whispered.

    “Dru?”

    The man grabbed the woman’s neck with his hands and pulled her face towards his own. She leapt gracefully into the sarcophagus with him. They kissed. Their spit had the salty iron taste of the both the dreamer and the invader’s blood. They used their teeth to pull at each other’s lips … so hard that it hurt, until more blood came forth.

    “Is it really you this time, Dru?”

    “Maybe, baby”

    The man felt his face with his hands. “I must look terrible. How long has it been?”

    “All sleep and no play makes Spike a dull boy!”

    Spike laughed. Bloodied tears streamed down his face. Drusilla’s joined in with her shrill cackling. They held each other tightly. For a moment, everything seemed perfect, but when Spike kissed Drusilla again, a look of horrible realisation came across his face. He tried to get up, but Drusilla held him down.

    “Let me out, Dru!”

    “What’s your hurry, Spikey, after being locked inside for so long?”

    “What did you do to Fred?”

    “Fred went poof long ago!”

    “To Illyria. What did you do to Illyria?”

    “I drank from a sun,” Drusilla said. “They hid all the suns inside a temple, away from the world. I needed to taste it. Turn it into a moon.”

    Spike pushed past Drusilla and climbed out of his coffin. His limbs were stiff. Drusilla’s blood was only slowly flowing into his muscles, giving them back some of their old strength. The sight that met him was horrible. Fred’s body was completely mangled. Drusilla was a messy eater.

    “What gave you the right?” Spike shouted at Dru.

    “What gave you the right to hide?” Drusilla said. “A sun and a star hiding from a dying world. Not fair. Not fair at all. It is time to come back, before it is too late. Or else the world will not be able to fry its bacon any longer.”

    Spike sat down on the floor. “We were waiting,” he said. “When the Apocalypse came, we would rise together and save the world.”

    “You were waiting for screams,” Drusilla said, “but none would have come. It would have ended with a final pathetic whimper, and you would not have been awake to hear it.”

    “Why are you here?” Spike said. “Leave me alone!”

    Drusilla laughed. “I am here to make everyone scream again, of course.” She pulled Spike up by his neck. “Before they croak on their smugness.”

    We move in time and space. About a week forward in time. An unknown distance in space. To Los Angeles. A man was struggling to parallel park his car. He was of an impatient disposition. Several times, he had to drive out from his chosen spot and try again. His fingers were itching. He was already very late.

    A few blocks down, a woman lit a cigarette. She was waiting for another man, whom she would endeavour to hurt and humiliate as much as this man had hurt and humiliated his wife. The task was impossible, but she had all night and the wife paid well. She was going to try her best.

    Two people were sharing a meal at a restaurant. They were waiting for the man with the car, but he was still far away. An ex-cop and an ex-vampire. Both had been better people than most of their kin.

    “I think it is time we took a holiday together,” Angel said. “How many years have we been together? How many times have we been outside the city?”

    “I am working on a case,” Kate answered sourly. “The kid really needs my help.”

    “Can’t Gunn assign it to someone else?” Angel groaned. “No one else in that firm can possibly work as hard as you. You need a break.”

    “I don’t need a break,” Kate said. “You, however, need something to do. Something else than working in a museum.” She took a deep sip of her wine. “Do the visitor realise that you would be better on a display than as a guide.”

    Angel dropped his fork and knife. “Please, calm down. Connor will be her soon.”

    Kate shot him an angry look. “Then get off my case. We are not going on holiday and we are not moving out into the f***ing country.”

    “Don’t you think we have earned a little peace?” Angel said with a sigh. “We are not going to live forever.”

    Kate emptied her wineglass. “You have earned nothing,” she said. “You set a demon army loose upon Los Angeles. A dragon was eating people. Never mind that you had the opportunity to work inside the system, make things better. You had to have your big moment, and some snotty higher plane spirits decided you had earned a reward.”

    Angel crossed his arms. “I only did what I had to do. Gunn was right there with me.”

    “But like I have told you countless times before, you didn’t stick around to deal with the fallout. When BLM marched through the city last year, it was the first legal human rights demonstration in over 20 years.”

    Angel snickered. “Is it my fault that people cannot tell the difference between a demon apocalypse and a turf war?”

    “This isn’t funny, Angel,” Kate said. “People were hurt and all you care about is saving money for a f***ing house by the sea, which you are never going to get, because you are too much of a layabout.” Her voice was shaking. “Do you know why I got back in touch with you? Gunn wanted me to try to convince you to get involved again. I tried, I failed, I didn’t give up and somehow we ended up in bed together, because both of us thought they could get the other to give up what mattered to them.”

    Angel looked away. “It is kinda harsh to hear you sum it up like that.”

    Kate turned her attention towards her food. After a long day working for Gunn’s non-profit law firm, she could not pass up a meal. Angel was no longer hungry, but for some reason, he felt an urge to grab a fortune cookie from a recently abandoned table nearby.

    “Look at this,” he said, passing the little note to Kate. “’Sometimes your arms bend backwards.’ Isn’t that weird?”

    Kate stood up. “I am leaving,” she declared. “Say hi to Connor from me!”

    “Daddy?”

    That was not Connor’s voice. Angel felt the blood in his veins freeze.

    “Daddy, is it true? Is Dru finally going to meet her baby brother?”

    Drusilla stepped towards the table, wearing the same Chinese dress as the waitresses. The costumers were all looking at Angel and Kate. The look on all their faces had turned somewhat … demonic.

    “Grandmother came to me in a dream,” Drusilla said. “’Take care of your uncle,’ she told me, and so I came to look for my brother.”

    Angel tried to rise from his seat, but somebody grabbed his wrists and, with unnatural strength, locked his arms behind his back. “Drusilla, don’t do this,” he shouted impotently.

    Drusilla laughed. “Or what? Only daddy can stop me.” She put her thin fingers on Kate’s neck. “And you are not my dad, anymore.”

    “We’re by a crowded street,” Angel said. “People can see through the window and call the police down. You won’t be able to escape.”

    “Is this uncle’s new mummy?” Drusilla mused. “Or maybe his niece? I cannot tell anymore.” She punctured Kate’s throat with a fingernail.

    Angel screamed with rage.

    Drusilla laughed, opened her dress and cut a long wound parallel to her collarbone. “Do you want to be daddy again?” she asked. “If so, I will give you a twin sister.” She picked the collapsed Kate up from the floor and hugged her to her bosom.

    Angel looked away. He could not bear to watch. The last thing he saw before passing out was Connor and Faith storming through the doors and Faith hurling a flaming shish kabob at one of the vampires.

    Chapter 3 - Sanctuary Revisited

    Two days after the vampire attack in Los Angeles, in the apartment where our vampire slayer had taken sanctuary.

    There was knock on the door. Buffy pulled her face up from the floor. She peeled something off her cheek that had glued itself to her sweaty skin. It was a picture of Xander eating wedding cake. It seemed like she had rolled off her matrass. The boxes loomed over her like towers. Pieces of a take away takeaway carton lay scattered all around her. The noodles were all stuck in her hair.

    “Buffy?”

    That voice. It was a voice from long ago. It took her away from her present circumstance. She sprang to her feet and pulled up the door. Her arms flung themselves around Angel. In her excitement, she did not notice that he looked older and that his eyes were red and baggy from lack of sleep. When their lips met, she was kissing the same Angel that used to climb in through her bedroom window.

    “Back off, B. His recently made undead girlfriend is still fresh on those lips.”

    It was Faith speaking.

    “I am sorry,” she continued. “Was that rude? I have forgotten how to act in polite company.” She glanced inside Buffy’s apartment. “My mistake. You are clearly not a part of polite society.”

    Buffy pulled away from Angel, who crossed his arms and scowled down at Faith. “Could you perhaps spare the insults until after we have asked for help?” he asked her.

    Faith shot him a poisonous stare. “Who are we asking for help again? This person? I didn’t even look this bad when I was on heroin.”

    “This is how the first day after my separation begins,” Buffy said. “My ex-boyfriend brings a former murderer and junkie to my home. Matt will enjoy telling this to his divorce lawyer.”

    Faith rolled her eyes. “We met Matt. Bit of a prat.”

    Buffy’s eyes widened. “Does he know where I am, already? How?”

    Faith smiled. “We found that out from Bobby.”

    Buffy glared at Angel. “You took this wretch to see my son?”

    “Opened the door with no shirt on,” Faith said. “Would have invited myself in, but his bed was already occupied. Might have to call you Granny B, soon.”

    Buffy did not tell her fist to hit Faith in the nose. It went there all by itself.

    “It is nice to see you again, B,” Faith said nasally.

    “I am sorry for this,” Angel said. “Can we come in?”

    Buffy crossed her arms. “I did not think you had to ask anymore.”

    Angel face broke into a smile. He pushed his way past Buffy. “I don’t,” he said. “Ta-dah! Isn’t it cool?”

    “You being human is cool,” Buffy admitted. “The jazz hands, though, are a little dated.”

    Angel looked around at the mess in the apartment. His eyes fell upon the polaroid. He squatted down and picked it up. “Hey,” he said. “This is me. Did I really look this broody, back then?”

    “It’s not like you are all smiles and sunshine these days, either, old man,” Faith said. “First time I see you in two decades and you are all, ‘Drusilla is after me. Kate is dead. Help me, Faith. We must find Buffy.’”

    Angel scowled. “What’s your problem?”

    Faith laughed. “My problem? Really? Ever seen the movie Zulu? Or the Alamo? That’s my problem. How about an apology, before you two start asking me for new favours? Or maybe you don’t need me anymore, now that you’ve found Buffy.” She looked at Buffy with obvious contempt. “Hold the line, you said. You didn’t say for how long.”

    Buffy sighed. “We are all very grateful for what you did in the war against the vampires, Faith.”

    “Not grateful enough to ask if I was still alive,” Faith scoffed. “You, especially, chose an opportune moment to desert.”

    “I thought it was somebody else’s turn to put in some work,” Buffy countered. “Someone who had spent most her years since activation in a coma or in jail.”

    Angel stepped between them. “Ladies, please,” he said. “We have a lot to discuss.”

    Faith laughed at him. “Drusilla is after Connor and you want me and the Buff to save him.” Faith turned towards Buffy. “I assume you know Connor is Angel’s son, even though I am sure he never told you. That makes Connor Drusilla’s uncle or something. I am not sure. They are all a little incestuous. Connor gave Angel a granddaughter by Cordelia, who is the only person other than yourself that has managed to turn Angel into Angelus.”

    “Faith…”

    “No, Angel, if you want my help you had better hear me out!”

    “Can you both please shut up?” Buffy screamed. “You are standing amongst the ruins of my life. Do you really think I need this right now?”

    “She makes a valid point, Angel. Does any of us need this sh*t right now?”

    “What are you not getting?” Angel said to both of them. “Drusilla is after my son and his family.”

    “And that affects us how, exactly?” Faith asked. “Connor can look after himself and his own. So could you, if you were willing to give up your precious humanity.”

    Buffy rubbed her temples. “Let’s backtrack. Drusilla is alive. How did she survive? Did we not kill them all? Who is Kate?”

    Faith thumped her chest with her finger. “Didn’t we kill them all, you mean. You weren’t there.”

    “To be honest, I was pretty shocked when Drusilla and Spike showed up in Sunnidale all those years ago,” Angel said. “I would never have believed they could survive on their own for so long.”

    “Get Spike to kill her for you,” Faith suggested.

    Angel made a grimace so ugly that he almost looked like a vampire again.

    “You may have to,” Buffy said. “I am not a slayer anymore.”

    Angel took Buffy’s hands in this. “Please, Buffy,” he said. “I feel terrible asking for help at a moment like this, but…”

    Buffy pulled herself free. “I am not a slayer, I said. Neither could I become one again. You are not a vampire anymore. I am not a slayer.”

    Faith put her hand to her mouth and gasped. “So, it’s true,” she said. “Just like all the others. I thought you were spared like me, because we are both OGs.” She hit Angel in the arm. “Looks like I am your only hope. Well, me and Spike, but I am not going to force you to stoop so low. Just mass up enough cash and I will kill your ex for you. Drusilla, I mean. Not Buffy. That would not be sporting, anymore.”

    Buffy crossed her arms. “Then I will leave you two to fill out the details of this arrangement elsewhere.”

    Faith turned to leave, but Angel hesitated. “You are really not a slayer, anymore?” he asked. “No powers?”

    “That’s right.”

    “Have you talked to Willow about it?” Angel asked. “She was the one who activated the other slayers. Maybe she can fix you.”

    “I am not sick,” Buffy said. “Unlike you, I was mortal even before I stopped being a slayer.”

    “But you’re really not you, are you?” Angel said. “Being a slayer was…”

    “What’s that supposed to mean?” Buffy said in a trembling voice. “How do you get off, saying I am not myself? How have you spent your life since you and Spike left downtown LA in ruins, champion?”

    “I am just worried about you,” Angel said. “You are not as connected to Drusilla as I am, but you did foil her plans in Sunnidale and ran off with her boyfriend.”

    Buffy scowled. “I thought you were her boyfriend.”

    Faith came walking back. “All those years I thought I was a slut, but when I looked beneath the dirt, I found I had nothing on the rest of you.”

    “Shut up, Faith,” Angel and Buffy said in unison.

    “Hey! How dare you speak like that to the only one who still has super powers?”

    Angel ignored her and turned back to Buffy. “What will you do if Dru comes here? What if she goes after Bobby or William?”

    “Then I will borrow Matt’s shot gun and use it to wipe that grin off her face,” she said. “I will not go crying to some ex-lover who has too much of her own to deal with.”

    “Please, Buffy,” Angel said. “This happened all wrong. I should not have brought Faith with me. I lost a dear old friend just two days ago. Drusilla turned her right in front of my eyes. You may have forgotten what it was like to fight for your life and for those you care about. If Drusilla comes here, you will remember quickly. It is not fun.”

    “I have not forgotten,” Buffy said. “And that is why I am not looking to relive those times. Goodbye.”

    ___________

    Buffy and her friends will return in Chapter 4 - Welcome to My Hellmouth. Sneak peak below:

    “This is the Lone Ranger. I can’t really talk right now. I am undercover.”

    “Andrew?”

    “Buffy! ¿Cómo estás, Lolita? Greetings from Mehico.”

    “Andrew, what on earth are you up to? Are you on the run again?”

    “Am I on the run or is someone on the run from me?”

    “If you stop, you may find out.”

    “(…) Buffy, would like to meet me in San Diego in a week?”

    “Why on Earth would I wanna do that?”

    “Money?”

    “I am not helping you smuggle drugs across the border. There is a wall now.”

    “Buffy, when I joined the light side, it was for forever.”

    “Then what kind of money making scheme are you trying to get me involved in? Wait a minute. Don’t answer that. Not interested. I am calling about Willow.”

    “Is she coming?”

    “What? No! I need to know where she is. Do you have her phone number?”

    “As far as I know, Willow hasn’t owned a phone in several years. By the way, how did you get my number?”

    “The yellow pages. Maybe you should look into that before the feds find you.”

    “The Bureau is onto me? Shit!”

    “No, Andrew. Tell me where I can find Willow. Have you seen her lately?”

    “The Lone Ranger does not often spend time among the womenfolk. His Dharma is the road. Willow’s Dharma lies elsewhere.”

    “Andrew, where is Willow’s Dharma?

    “Many places. Usually on her Hellmouth.”

    “Willow has a Hellmouth?”

    “It is also a volcano. She has a pretty sweet set up there, but it is most suited for those of the feminine persuasion. In other words, not for the Lone Ranger.”

    ****

    "Willow?"

    "Tara!"
     
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  10. Fool for Buffy

    Fool for Buffy "I wanna see how it ends"

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    Sineya
    Oh it's so good. I love that the characters are all slowly starting to all get included. I'm impressed Kate was even alive this long. Can't wait for more. I have no idea where Spike is heading though. I'm desperate to find out:p
     
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  11. Zenseem

    Zenseem Evil, skanky and kinda gay

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    Black Thorn
    Oh God, I need more of this. Now!
     
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  12. WillowFromBuffy

    WillowFromBuffy "My bowling shoe fetish is not the issue here."

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    Thank you for your kind words and most of all your interest. I actually like Kate. I feel really bad for offing her. She could have played a nice role the fic. Instead, she will be a memory of someone who never gave up.

    Spike will be back, but not right away. His soul will really be put to the test, as temptation tries to pull him off the straight and narrow. Maybe that is a good thing, because the battle between good and evil will be a little muddy this time around.

    I did 2000 words on the next chapter yesterday. I won't have a lot of time this week, but with some effort, I may be able to finish it soon. The return of Willow needs to be good.
     
  13. Priceless

    Priceless I am now

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    So good WFB, great style and imagination, and I can really picture these characters in their 40's, jaded and middle aged. Poor Buffy having to start all over again. Of course I especially liked that Buffy named her child William. Faith and Buffy together are funny. Looking forward to the next instalment
     
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  14. WillowFromBuffy

    WillowFromBuffy "My bowling shoe fetish is not the issue here."

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    Thank you, Pricey. Would you believe me if I said it took forever for me to connect the dots between Spike and William? :p It was supposed to be Bobby and William as in Buffy and Willow.
     
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  15. Priceless

    Priceless I am now

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    Just shows how the audience sees thing the writer didn't ever intend :oops: I thought it was odd the Matt would allow his child to be named after one of his wifes exes :D
     
  16. flow

    flow Male Vampires are stupid. Throw rocks at them

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    Your faith is awesome. And I love, how buffy has to struggle with the normal life, she always wished for. Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

    I assumed, matt never knew about Spike and therefore had no objection naming his son William.

    Flow
     
  17. sosa lola

    sosa lola Scooby

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    So great to see another member writing fanfiction! This is great. I adore Kate, I'm glad she's here. I hated how she was suddenly out of the show and was never mentioned again.
     
  18. WillowFromBuffy

    WillowFromBuffy "My bowling shoe fetish is not the issue here."

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    I did actually catch it, but only as I was reading through it. I guess Buffy named their firstborn after Giles and Matt named the second one after his father or something, who just happened to be called William. Matt is completely in the dark about Buffy's past as a slayer.
    Thank you! So happy to hear you are enjoying Faith. Not only is Buffy struggling in the real world, but Faith will be racing her for the slayer crown.
    Cheers! I really like Kate, too. Bit of a waste to kill her off so soon, but there are a lot of characters to go through :p
     
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  19. WillowFromBuffy

    WillowFromBuffy "My bowling shoe fetish is not the issue here."

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    Previously, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

    “Angel, if I am not the slayer, what do I do? What do I have to offer?”

    “I mean … if you could be … you know … plain old Willow or Super Willow, who would you be?”

    “You don’t need magic to be special.”

    “Don’t I?”

    “Am I real? Am I anything?”

    “It hurts so much. Every day. And it is not getting better.”

    “This is where I quit. I killed Dawn."

    "Is that what you think?"

    "My thinking it made it happen. Some part of me wanted it.”

    “You should try again, Will!”

    “All right, but I am not sure if she’s … you know … really in there.”

    “Try!”

    “Can you hear me? Buffy? Buffy? Buffy!”

    “Buffy!”

    “Buffy!”

    “Buffy!”

    “Buffy!”

    “All I see is six billion lunatics looking for the fastest way out. Look around - everyone's drinking, smoking, shooting up ... shooting each other, or just plain screwing their brains out 'cause they don't want 'em any more. Name one person who can take it here. Name one!”

    “Buffy!”
     
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  20. WillowFromBuffy

    WillowFromBuffy "My bowling shoe fetish is not the issue here."

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    [​IMG]
    Dum ... dum ... dum ... dum ... dumdumdumdumdumdum! Created by Joss Whedon, butchered by Marti Noxon and now, thorn to shreds by WFB. Banner by Zenseem.

    Chapter 4 - Welcome to My Hellmouth

    “Scoot. My ass is on the wet spot. The one you made.”

    “Can’t you just wave your hand to clean it up?”

    “Not at the moment. My muscles are all tingly.”

    Tara laughed. “I blame you for everything,” she said. “You had such fire. I haven’t seen it in you in such a long time.”

    “What?” Willow said halfway between real and mock offence. “Do you mean to say I have been slacking off, lately?”

    “I don’t know what I am saying,” Tara mused dreamily. “This was just so intimate. I cannot remember feeling so close to you as I did just now.”

    “I am always close.”

    Tara looked away. “You want to be.”

    “I am gonna be,” Willow said and kissed Tara on the cheek.

    Tara sighed. “I hope so.” She stretched her arms. “You wanted my help with something? Your journal?”

    “Oh yes!” Willow sprang out of bed, stark naked. “I almost forgot. It is really important. We need to finish it.” She started rummaging through the room. “It is in my backpack. It should be here.”

    Tara sat up. “It is in the corner,” she said. “Underneath your jacket.”

    “How did I ever mange without you?” Willow said as she came back to the bed, carrying a journal and a cardboard box full of pictures. “I should have finished this before I came over, but I ran out of time. We need to do it quickly, and then you need to read it.”

    Tara looked puzzled. “Sure, but why?”

    “I need you to see me as I am, completely naked, and then you must tell me if you still love me.”

    Tara looked Willow from top to toe. “I see you and I love you.”

    Willow dropped the photos onto the bed. “We’ll see,” she said and sat down next to Tara. “Take this glue stick and let’s get to work.”

    They went through the pictures together and tried to glue them into appropriate pages in the journal. Among the stack of photographs were little notes of scribblings in Willow’s handwriting. They looked for pictures that matched the notes. The work was surprisingly easy, mostly, but time consuming.

    “We are never going to get this done,” Tara said after a while. “Weird.” She held up a photo. “You look older in this picture.”

    Willow looked nervous. “I may not have been completely honest with you, Tara.”

    “How so?”

    “Read the journal and you will understand.”

    Tara picked up a picture of Willow and Kennedy. “Who is this?”

    “She helped me,” Willow said. “When I was alone.” She hid her face in her hands. “I need you to read the journal, Tara. I cannot bear to tell it all to your face.”

    Tara opened the journal at a random page and read. “Tara ate two fried eggs this morning. It made me think about how her breasts are so much larger than mine are. Tonight, I will watch her to see what parts of my body she pays the most attention to. I ate a bagel, because I did not feel a baguette would be appropriate.” Tara looked up.

    “Maybe not my best work,” Willow said apologetically.

    “I’ve read this before,” Tara said. “I remember.”

    “Remembering is hard these days,” Willow said. “It is only the feelings that linger and even they are becoming fuzzy. Except my feeling for you, that is. You are always clear.”

    Tara turned her attention to the stack of pictures. “There are a lot her that you have forgotten to put in,” she said.

    Willow made a sigh that turned into a sad smile. “I stopped writing when stuff stopped mattering.”

    “Then where does all these notes come from?” Tara asked. “And who took all these pictures?”

    “I don’t know,” Willow said. “My mind, perhaps? I did not bring nearly as much as this with me.”

    Tara put her hand on Willow’s shoulder. “You’re scaring me, Will. Can’t you tell me what this is about?”

    A tear made its way down Willow’s cheek. “Not yet.” She looked away. “Maybe I should not have come at all. I don’t know if this is the place I should be. I need you to decide for me.”

    “You know what I want. I decided long ago. Behind the soda dispenser in the laundry room.”

    Willow looked back at Tara. “Not until you’ve read everything.

    “What happens then?”

    Willow looked down. “If you don’t like it, we could burn it. Maybe we could start from scratch. Or I could leave, go someplace else. What I was hoping, was that we could write the final chapter together. One last entry. Then I can stay here forever, I think.” She looked back up. Her eyes were puffy.

    “I don’t understand. Are we not in Sunnydale?”

    “No, Tara. We are not in Sunnydale. And this is not 2002.”

    ****

    “Don’t go up tha’ mountain. Bad Voodoo!”

    “Cut the accent crap! I heard you speaking to your friend in perfect English.”

    Buffy flung her pack across her shoulder and headed into the bush. The thicket was almost impenetrable. None of the locals was going to help her find her way. She needed to do this on her own. The likely result would be death by heat stroke or the poison of a snake or spider. The air was suffocatingly humid.

    Maybe she had sent Angel packing. Perhaps she had told him she would not pick up the mantle of being the slayer. What of it? She had told him similar lies before. Anyway, this trip was not for Angel. It was for Bobby and William. She needed to be confident she could protect them, if the worst should happen. Maybe she was also here for herself. There was no one really that she could talk to. Willow, despite her other flaws, had always been a good listener.

    Two hours into her ascent, Buffy lost her internet connection and her GPS started going wonky. Using a map was hopeless, because she could not see through the trees. All she knew was that she was going ever upwards, which was good. Up was the right way. No need to know anything else, really.

    The sweat that flowed over her skin attracted insects to every piece of exposed flesh on her body. Some even crawled underneath her shirt. If Andrew was wrong, if Willow was not to be found inside the crater, then Buffy knew she would die. There was no way she could make it up the mountain and back to the village again in one day.

    Buffy wiped her brow. How the hell did Andrew ever make it up here? Helicopter?

    ****

    She got out of the stall and went over to the sink. The cold water hurt her hands, but it felt refreshing when she splashed it over her face. Her sight was hazy. What did the necklace say? U mad? No. She was Dawn. That much was certain – or fairly certain. Who was Dawn? Buffy’s sister, shoplifter extraordinaire, honorary Scooby, the key to Hell. That would have to do for now.

    The bell rang. It seemed it was time to get back to class. No, wait. She was Dawn. Dawn sometimes skipped classes. She needed to see Buffy. That was more important.

    Outside the school building, she found a bicycle. Breaking the chain was easy. There was no one around to see her. She rode home quickly. Her memory was fuzzy, but she was able to find her way, because the way forward seemed clearer somehow, while the side streets were covered in a strange fog.

    Finally, she made it home. She jumped off the bike and ran through the door. Buffy greeted her smilingly in the kitchen. Dawn flung her arms around her and hugged her tightly, but Buffy felt cold and she did not hug her back.

    “Buffy? What’s wrong?”

    “Dawn, that’s not Buffy. That’s our automated slayer and parent evening machine.”

    Dawn turned and saw Willow standing by the kitchen counter.

    “Willow!”

    “Is that really you Dawnie? Are you real?”

    “Please, don’t ask me that Willow. I am confused enough already.”

    “I just…” Willow looked discerningly at Dawn. “Are you self-aware?”

    Dawn threw up her hands. “Are you asking me or the BuffyBot?”

    Willow came over and hugged Dawn. “I guess there is no way to know. You feel real. Tara felt real, too, but I guess I cannot be sure about her either.”

    “Willow, please tell me what is going on. I am so confused.”

    “Oh, boy! First Tara, now you. This is a lot to handle.” Willow sat down on a chair. “Here is how it is, Dawn. We’re in Tara’s house. She is upstairs now, deciding whether she is going to throw me out or not. Don’t worry. I am sure she won’t throw you out. You can chose to stay or you can come with me. It depends on where I am going. If I am sent back, then obviously you can’t come, but I think it may be too late to go back. I kinda hope it is.”

    “What? Back where? Why would Tara throw you out? Did you wipe her mind again? Is that what has happened to me?”

    “No.” Willow said, but the suggestion seemed to have hit a nerve – a tender one. “I am done lying to her. This time I am giving her the truth. All of it. I have no idea if she will finally forgive me or if she will hate me even more.” She closed her eyes. “Doesn’t matter. Had to be done.”

    “Willow, please explain to me what is going on.”

    Willow sighed. “Oh, boy! Ooooh, Goddess! Tell you what: Help me make dinner and get the kitchen tidy. When Tara comes down, you tell her how happy you are to see us back together, just like you did last time. Tara and I will kiss and make up. We will eat. I will explain where we are and why, and then we will live happily ever after as a family. Emphasis on ever. Ok?”

    “What? No! Not okay! Tell me now! What did you do, Willow?”

    “Nothing! Not to you at least. I haven’t even seen you in almost 25 years or something, which I feel really bad about now that I think about it.” Her distraught expression told Dawn that Willow was not lying.

    “25 years? That doesn’t even make any sense. Neither of us are that old.”

    Willow tilted her head. “Are you sure that you are real? If you were real, you should know how old you are. Tara doesn’t know, because she … well … she has been here a long time, and I guess that can make you a little confused.” She tried to contain a laugh. “I am starting to feel confused already.” She sighed. “If you are not real, then why are you the only one who is here? Where is everybody else? And who made you? Me or Tara?”

    “…”

    “But if you weren’t real, then you would not be asking so many questions, would you? You would just be doing regular Dawn things, I guess. Why would my mind make a Dawn to ask me why it was here? That would be bonkers.”

    A loud bang made Dawn cover her ears. A bullet ripped through the kitchen wall and smashed a lightbulb right above Willow’s head, making shards rain down upon her head.

    “What was that?”

    Willow had frozen in place. Her face bore a grimace of absolute terror. Dawn grabbed her shoulders and tried to shake her into action.

    “I thought I could forgive myself,” Willow mumbled. “But I couldn’t, could I? Not before Tara does…” Her eyes widened. “Oh Goddess, no! I brought him here. Please, Goddess, don’t let me turn into him. I am not him.”

    Several more bullets came flying through the wall and through the windows. Dawn felt one of them zing just past her neck.

    “Willow! Mojo! Now! Anything!”

    Willow finally snapped out of it, but her sight went straight past Dawn. “Tara! I need to get to Tara, before it is too late!”

    Willow sprang from her chair and pushed Dawn aside. Dawn tripped and fell to the floor. Bullets were flying everywhere. Dawn crawled towards the stairs. A bullet hit her in the leg and took with it a big chunk of her calf. The pain was excruciating. Dawn pull herself forwards with her arms. She could hear Willow screaming and shouting upstairs.

    “Did you read it Tara? What shall I do? Please, tell me what to do! Tara!”

    “Willow, I am hurt.” Dawn could hardly hear her own voice. When she grabbed the railing on the stairs, she could not see her own arm.

    “I am finishing it, Tara. I am writing the last chapter.”

    “Willow, I am fading. Willow, Willow, Willow……………………………..”

    The haze. It was not just her sight that was hazy. It was not just her arm that was fading. The room dispersed into a fog. Her mind went blank. Willow could not hear the faint whisper that emanated from Dawn’s lips. Could not remember. No longer cared.

    *****

    “WILLOW!”

    It was hopeless. If Willow was at the mountaintop, then there was no way she could hear Buffy’s cries for help. Buffy did not know how far it was left, but her voice could not possibly carry far through the deafening thicket.

    Did she deserve this? Had she broken some law by deserting her slayer duties to raise a family? Was this painful and humiliating death her punishment?

    Turns out it was not. As Buffy felt herself drift into a final sleep, an unlikely rescue crew pushed their way through the trees. It was a blindfolded girl led by two others.

    “The disturbance is near,” the blindfolded girl said. She looked to be in her mid to late teens.

    “We see her,” the other girls said almost in chorus. They looked somewhat older.

    “Water…” Buffy gasped. Her throat had dried completely after all her shouting.

    The young girl removed her blindfold. “I feel dizzy.” Buffy thought she meant from walking blind down a mountainside, but then she said. “The vibrations emanating from her are so strong.”

    “Defiler,” the older duo said. They grabbed Buffy’s rucksack and took the cell phone from her pocket. “Why do you bring these devices to our sacred place?”

    “Willow,” Buffy muttered as she rolled around on the forest floor. “I came to see Willow.”

    “Give her water,” the youngest said.

    The older pair scowled at her. “Should we not question her first?”

    “This,” the young girl said, “is our priestess’s former best friend.”

    One girl sat Buffy up. The other put a flask to her mouth. Buffy drank greedily.

    “Not so much,” they said in almost prefect sync. “We will need it on our way back.”

    “Thank you,” Buffy said.

    “No. Thank you!” The young girl squatted down in front of her. “For being a champion and a teacher to our priestess, back when she was still finding her footing.” She held out both her hands and Buffy took them. “I am Mae,” the girl said without moving her lips. The information conveyed itself by electricity through their arms.

    “Why do you seek the priestess?” the other girls asked.

    “I want her to reinstate me,” Buffy answered.

    “… as the slayer,” Mae added.

    “As best friend,” Buffy said. “I did not like it when you said former.

    Mae smiled. “She will be pleased.”

    Buffy stood up. “I hope so. I am ready to go. Lead the way.”

    It turned out it was still far to go. Buffy could not even feel the burning in her thighs nor the aching in her knees, because her headache drowned everything else out. Her escorts had thrown away her aspirin, calling it an unclean drug. The echoing twins still eyed her with suspicion, but Mae was friendly, though not very talkative.

    When they finally arrived at the top, Buffy fell to her knees from exhaustion. A refreshing breeze kept her from toppling over like a bowling pin. The sight that met her was not a crater, but a beautiful valley with a volcanic crater at its centre. The air and temperature was much more comfortable. The pain in Buffy’s brow and joints was receding.

    “It is beautiful,” Buffy uttered.

    Mae put her blindfold back on and sat down in full lotus pose. “Don’t look,” she said. “Feel…”

    Buffy felt. “Something feels wrong,” she said. “As if someone left the stove on.”

    The duo both folded their arms. “If something feels wrong, then it is something you brought.”

    “No,” Buffy said, massaging her brow. “There is something coming with the wind from the valley … Willow.”

    Buffy ran. She knew where to go. Her legs were aching and her balance was unsteady, but she bit her lip and ignored it. There was a cave towards the centre of the valley. Willow was inside. Buffy knew it. She also knew that Willow had gotten herself into trouble, and it was up to Buffy to get her out of it.

    Buffy looked back across her shoulder. The two angry girls were chasing her. They were probably baffled that a middle-aged lady could outrun them so easily.

    In her zeal to reach her friend, Buffy ignored all the beautiful sights that surrounded her. The flowers, the trees, the acres, the architecture and the sculpture. This was a land of both beauty and plenty. Buffy was her for only one thing.

    Finally, she stood at the mouth of the cave. Her legs were mutinying. They had run as far as they were going to run today. Buffy fought to get her breath back. The air was less moist, but it was still hot. She regained her composure and stood up. A woman much taller than herself blocked the entrance.

    “Who are you?” the guardswoman asked. “This place is forbidden for outsiders, especially outsiders with bleached hair and blue jeans.”

    Buffy looked down. She could perhaps have chosen better hiking apparel, but nearly all her money went to buy the plane ticket to get here.

    “Step aside,” Buffy demanded. “My friend is in there.”

    “I will not,” the guardswoman said defiantly. “Once more, I demand you give me your name.”

    Buffy felt something stirring inside. It could be allergies or food poisoning, but something told her it was not. “I am Buffy … the vampire slayer … and I will bitch slap any flower worshipping hippie who tries to keep me from seeing my best friend.”

    The guardswoman crossed her arms. “You would bring your violence to our sacred place?”

    Just then, a siren’s scream came from inside the cave. Buffy pushed the guard away and ran inside. She found Willow laying on the floor. Black bile was seeping into the veins in her old friend’s brow and her skin was as white as a sheet. Blood bubbled from her nostrils.

    “Get away from her,” Buffy shouted at the women who were tending to Willow.

    The following minutes passed in a blur. The attendees tried to pull Buffy away, but she punched and scratched at them like a mother tiger. Was it the shouting? The slaps across the cheeks? Was it the pounding Buffy gave to Willow’s ribcage or was it the kiss of life that finally restored her? For whatever reason, Willow finally drew breath and proceeded to throw up. The goo that came out stank worse than death and threads of saliva hung on like umbilical chords.

    Buffy thought she saw a smile, before she passed out.

    *****

    “The others are angry.”

    Buffy woke up and looked straight into Mae’s almond eyes.

    “The priestess told them not to be.” Mae held a wet towel to Buffy’s brow. “She is waiting for you in one of the places that are just her own. I felt sadness, some resentment, but also … hope.”

    “She was dying,” Buffy said.

    “The others would never believe it, but I fear you are right.” Mae put the towel down and held up some smelly salts to Buffy’s nostrils. “Her humours have shifted. I got her to change her diet, but it did not help.”

    “I need to see her. We need each other.”

    Mae smiled. “Would you eat something first?”

    “No, but thanks. I must wait until after.”

    Mae put a hand on Buffy’s chest. “Your heart is hungry,” she said. “Remember: The heart sustains itself on love, but to beat, it also needs food.”

    “You are right,” Buffy admitted. “I ran out of cookies halfway up the mountain. Could I have something to drink first, please? My mouth is a desert.”

    “So is my country,” Mae said. “Or most of it – the countryside.” She cupped her hands and dipped them into the stream beside them. “Drink and be restored, Phoenix.” She held her hands up to Buffy like an offering.

    Buffy drank. Then she coughed. “Phoenix?”

    Mae refilled her hands. “You walk through fire. You die only to return. You have rested and doused your wings in water. You should be ready to wake up. Most of the others are already awake.”

    “Who?” Buffy asked after drinking. “Who is awake?”

    “An old man who slept with demons and makes men out of clothes. The dark knight and his wicked mistress.”

    “Who are they?”

    Mae picked up a bowl of herbal soup with strange rootgrowths floating within. “You know better than me, because you have met them.”

    Buffy ate. The food was aromatic and the bitter taste was somehow quite pleasant. Mae retied her blindfold and did not speak anymore. Buffy put the bowl by her feet once she was done.

    “Follow this stream,” Mae said as she heard the bowl clank against the rocky ground. “It will take you to the priestess.”

    Buffy did as she was told. It was almost evening. The sun had almost completed its decent. Buffy hugged herself for warmth. She passed many women. They wore ponchos of hemp to keep warm. Buffy would have asked if she could have one, but they all eyed her with such cold suspicion, that she did not dare to. The stream took her to a pool of water inside a glade hidden by a wall of trees. Steam rose from the water and made the air bearably warm. Willow sat cross-legged on a rock, wrapped in a blanket. Her hair was wet. She must have been swimming in the pool.

    Willow did not turn to look as Buffy approached. “Figures you would show up today of all days.”

    Buffy put a hand on Willow’s shoulder. “The day you finally relapsed and overdosed on sage?”

    Willow pulled the blanket more tightly around herself. “It was something much stronger than sage I took. And … it is not what you think. It was not a relapse.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “You know what I mean,” Willow said coldly and finally turned towards Buffy. “I was trying to get to heaveeeaaaann,” she sang in a familiar off-key tune.

    “Willow, you wouldn’t.”

    Willow laughed. “Wouldn’t I? You of all people should know better.”

    “But that was me,” Buffy protested. “And it was a long time ago.”

    “Things change.”

    Buffy crossed her arms. “Do they? I find you in more or less the same condition as I left you.”

    Willow grimaced. “Likewise. Look at yourself. The great warrior queen. I am sure even I could take you now, if I wanted.”

    “Why do these people call you their priestess?”

    “I don’t know,” Willow scoffed.

    “Of course you do,” Buffy insisted. “They worship you. You’ve created a cult.”

    Willow sighed. “I did not mean to. This was never meant to be about me. It was about the planet and the hellmouths.”

    “The hellmouths?”

    “The hellmouths are closing. We are trying to stop it.”

    “Why is the hellmouths closing a bad thing?”

    “Hellmouth is a name made from ignorance. The hellmouths are our link to the beyond. We are working to keep that link open, but it is an impossible task.” She made a wry smile. “Let’s just say Fox News was right about one thing. They knew who the enemy was.”

    Buffy raised an eyebrow. “Muslims? Muslims are closing the hellmouths?”

    “No, the other ones.”

    “Socialists?”

    “No.”

    “Berkley liberals?”

    “Not really, no.”

    “Social justice warriors?”

    “Nah!”

    “Lesbian Wiccans?”

    “We are the ones working to restore the hellmouths.”

    “Feminazis?”

    “Plenty of them here to.”

    “The Starbuck Christmas cup?”

    “They never made one with a Menorah, but no.”

    “Satanists?”

    “We have made an uneasy alliance with some Satanists. We have a don’t ask/don’t tell policy when it comes to virgin sacrifice.”

    Buffy threw up her arms. “Then who?”

    “Atheists, of course.”

    “Atheists?”

    “Weeeell, not atheists specifically. More like non-believers of all kinds. The world has become less spiritual, less idealistic.” Willow looked at the opening in Buffy’s shirt. “You, for example, are not wearing your cross.”

    Buffy shrugged. “No vampires.”

    “Yes, no vampires. I have come to wonder if we made a mistake. We took the vampires out of the world and something … was lost. The scale did not tip. Something was lost on the other side as well. The slayers … and many others. I have tried to keep the Wiccans going, but we are few.”

    Buffy suddenly had a terrible suspicion. “Willow, do you have anything to do with Drusilla’s return?”

    Willow started. “What? No! Drusilla’s back? I did not even know she was still alive. We dusted them all.”

    Buffy scrutinized her friend. “Mae knows.”

    Willow smiled. “Mae. Impossible to teach her. She only seems to understand things she has never been taught. The things she could not possible know. Negative capability, I guess.”

    “Angel believes Drusilla is a threat. I sought you out to ask you to restore my slayer strength.”

    “Restore your ..?” Willow sprang up. “Buffy, no one took it away from you. You gave it up. You and all the others.”

    “I didn’t. I started to lose it even before I left the other slayers. Awakening the potentials may have caused it … spread the power to thin.”

    “Buffy, fu*k you!”

    “Willow!?”

    Willow looked furious. Her eyes darkened. “Of course. Blame me and the magic again. Not only are you blaming me for this, but you are asking me to cast a similar spell again. This is your fault,” she spat. “You were not chosen. Do you think I could have been a slayer? Could Harmony? Cordelia? Xander? You were picked, because you wanted it. You always said you were a ditsy cheerleader before you came to Sunnydale. Bullshit! You were made the slayer, because deep inside, you wanted to be different. You wanted the power to make a change. You did not survive all those years. You persevered. We – Xander and I – were all in awe. My proudest moment was when I defied the powers of the Cosmos to bring you back. Then you spat in my face. It took me a long time to realise I had made a mistake. Your fire had started to burn out, as is the way of things. That is why you lost your strength.”

    Willow fell to her knees, seemingly exhausted from her cathartic rant.

    “Willow, I…”

    “I could have had Tara, Buffy. We had all our lives in front of us. I never wanted to fight or to see my friends die. Everything I did, I did for you. It cost me Tara. Now I keep fighting, because I have nothing left to lose. I yearn for everything we have done to make sense … to be able to justify all that we gave up. Today I would trade the world for Tara. I would trade you for Tara.”

    Buffy knelt down beside Willow. “Will, don’t tell me that was what you were trying to do today. Were you trying to bring back Tara?”

    Willow shook her head. “When the hellmouths close, I want to be on the other side.”

    “You were breaking into Heaven?”

    “Not Heaven. Elysium. The souls who are ready to rest go to Heaven. Those that still cling to their individuality go to the Elysian Fields. It is a place of dreams, where they live out their mortal lives again. Tara is there. Perhaps it is because she died so young. There was so much for her yet to do. But I want to believe that she … maybe she is …” Her words broke into sobs.

    “You want to believe that she is waiting there for you to join her.”

    Tears made their way down Willow’s cheeks. She did nothing to hold them back or wipe them off. “When I came, she did not even realise we had been apart.”

    Buffy’s eyes widened. “You spoke to Tara?”

    Willow looked into the water at the reflection of the rising moon. “I think so. I could not simply kill myself. I needed to know if I was wanted. I worked so hard to be worthy of her. One of the first things she said to me was how impressed she was by my magic. I worked so hard to impress her more. Then I frightened her.” She sniffed. “Do the dead see us? Did Tara see me honour her memory by tearing the skin from the body of her killer? Could she look at me or touch me after having seen what I am capable of? I had to know.”

    “What did she say?”

    “I cannot remember anymore. My visit – it was like a dream that fades from memory as soon as you awake.” She bit her lip. “It does not matter. Tonight I jump into the volcano to throw myself at Tara’s feet.” She looked at Buffy with an unsettling smile on her face. “Like I did after crashing that car, remember? If Tara rejects me, then I am off to Hell. Fire hell, ice hell, upside down hell. I don’t even care.”

    Buffy stood up. “No,” she said. “I won’t let you.”

    Willow sighed. “Maybe you should join me. We could hold hands as we made the plunge. Together, as before.” Her tone was almost playful. Then it turned serious. “Buffy, the world is dying. If we outlive the hellmouths, then our souls will be trapped here forever. You will never get back into Heaven. I will never be with Tara again.”

    “I am not killing myself. I have two boys.”

    “Everyone will die eventually, once the hellmouths close. Humans cannot live on food and air alone. At least, I don’t think so. I am not sticking around to find out.”

    “Then…” Buffy searched for words. “Then we fix it. Before it is too late. What is one more apocalypse for the likes of us?”

    We tried fixing it. Your help would not make a difference.”

    “Willow, this is madness. You believe the world is ending, and you are just going to abandon it.”

    “The world abandoned me first.”

    With those words, Willow ran out of the woods and down towards the crater. Buffy set after her. In the old days, catching up to Willow would have been easy. Today, her tired legs worked against her. Willow kept a surprising pace. Buffy realised that she would not make it.

    It was to Buffy’s surprise and great relief that she saw Willow still standing above the crater. She had not leapt yet. Buffy did not call out to her. She ran up behind her as silently as she could, grabbed her and pulled her away from the edge. They tumbled backwards and rolled over each other. She had expected Willow to fight her, but she didn’t. Willow was laughing, heartily. Then she grabbed Buffy’s face and kissed her on the mouth.

    “What was that for?”

    “Did you really wanna die knowing you were the only one of my friends that I never kissed?”

    “Only one?”

    “Well, almost. Remember, I did not use to have that many friends.”

    They both laughed. Buffy felt like she was now finally seeing her old friend again. This looked like the Willow she knew. A little worn around the eyes, a little more rounded in places, but otherwise untarnished by time.

    “Why are you suddenly so chirpy?” Buffy asked.

    “Can you not feel it?” Willow said excitedly. “It is open again. The hellmouth is opening.”

    “What does that mean?”

    “It means that I have time. Time to write a better story for Tara. Time to set the world right.”

    “So you are not leaving us just yet then? Good. To have found you just to lose you again. I could not have borne it.”

    Willow grimaced again. “You seem to have done just fine all this time.”

    Buffy sighed. “Willow, I cannot apologise for wanting to have a normal life. Maybe things could have ended better. I should have worked harder to stay in touch. I thought you would be happy with Kennedy and the other slayers. Or maybe I just wanted to think that.”

    “So, I guess you will be going back then … to your normal life. We are short on normal here.”

    “I still need your help. Drusilla may be after me for revenge. She may come for my children.”

    “Then slay her.”

    “I can’t.”

    “Not with that attitude certainly.”

    “Willow, I need your help. I am begging you. If Angel is scared, then I think I should be to.”

    “Angel. I remember him. Used to be a bad-ass vampire, before he asked me to turn him into a mundie.”

    “Can I not convince you?” Buffy sat down upon a piece of volcanic rock. “Did I come all this way for nothing?”

    Willow went and sat down beside her. After a long while, she said. “I will help you on one condition. We reform the Scoobies.”

    Buffy started. “We what?”

    “To become a slayer again, you need to reconnect with the person you used to be. The Scoobies were a big part of that. Other than that … helping you will mean leaving my new family. If so, then I want my old family back.”

    “Tara and Anya are dead. Giles is in England.”

    “There is Xander … and Oz … Robin … Faith.”

    “You want us to go get your two ex-boyfriends? One is a drunk the other is maybe a Tibetan monk or something.”

    “Xander came for me after everyone else gave up. I owe him. I should have gone to him sooner. Now I can bring him you.”

    “Bring him me?”

    “You mattered to him … more than Anya did. You were the centre that gave his life meaning … that made him feel useful.”

    Buffy grimaced. “So that makes me responsible for him?”

    Willow sighed. “There was a time when you looked on us as friends, not as burdens to keep you down.”

    “Will seeing Xander help me become the slayer again?”

    “It might. Truth is I need to see old faces. These women,” Willow waved her hand at the valley, “they worship the words from my lips, but I never felt like I truly belonged with them.”

    “All right,” Buffy said. “When do we leave? Do you know how to find him?”

    Willow’s mouth curved into a smile. “We leave now,” she said and grabbed Buffy by the wrist. Buffy lost her balance. Willow pulled her along towards the crater and dove off the edge, dragging Buffy with her. Smoke enveloped them. Buffy’s eyes burned. “Hold on to me,” Willow called to her. “This will be a wild ride.”
    _______

    Buffy and her friends will return in The Lone Ranger and the Zeppo and Faith, Spike & Dick! Preview below:

    "Xander, who are all these people?"

    "This ... is the last operative Scooby cell."

    "Don't look at me. I did not know."

    ****

    "I have been waiting here for you Scoobies to show up."

    "We are not the Scoobies. We are Angel Investigations ... ouch!"

    "... and I am his best friend Faith!"
    _______

    A new vision girl/boy has been chosen. Can anyone guess who will take on the legacy of Doyle, Cordelia and Angel as the link between this world and the Powers That Be?