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Buffy - Return of the Vampire Slayer

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

  1. sosa lola

    sosa lola Scooby

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    I'm really enjoying this. I loved Willow's line "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."

    This is how Buffy's relationship with the slayers in S8 felt to me, they worshipped her and that's why she couldn't feel any connection with them unlike Willow and Xander.
     
  2. Zenseem

    Zenseem Evil, skanky and kinda gay

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    Black Thorn
    Really good chapter, very Willow-centric... the best so far. I'm really enjoying the path the fic is taking. And also billow is real!!
     
    ChaseRules: I agree . Billow is real .
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  3. Fool for Buffy

    Fool for Buffy "I wanna see how it ends"

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    Sineya
    I agree with @Zenseem this is the best so far. The in depth look at Elysium without us knowing was really well written. And Willow's good and bad sides were channeled really well. Thank goodness they are going to find the scoobies now!
     
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  4. WillowFromBuffy

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

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    Thank you. I diverge greatly from the comics, but I may lift some inspiration here and there. The trio will be reunited again ... very soon.
    Thankyouthankyou! More Billow next episode.
    Thank you. It is important to do my favourite Wicca justice.
     
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  5. ChaseRules

    ChaseRules When it comes to dating I the Slayer.

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    Sineya
    Sorry i didnt review your last chapter . i was very busy at the time & then it slipped my mind. So Buffy is middle age . Guess she found out finally she was wrong for trying to be normal . Also Angel looks the same. Talking it easy & not doing much . Just like in the first season . Also Dru lovery as always .


    And i like how Angel was acting . It was so him . He did nothing for all those years & when something happened he went looking for Buffy to fix it not caring about her . Guess he though nobody would ever come after him once he became human. LOL And Faith & Buffy are stil the same :) Plus when was Faith a junkie ??
     
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  6. Priceless

    Priceless I am now

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    That was so epic! The Tillow love was emotional but I liked that Willow wanted to be honest about who she really was now, even though it could jeopardise everything she was working for. So much fun to read, especially love the listing of who is to blame, and the line 'we've made an uneasy alliance with some Satantists' cracked me up. Loving it WFB, can't wait to see what happens next!
     
  7. WillowFromBuffy

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

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    You are forgiven. I am very grateful to anyone who takes the time to read and comment, but you should not feel obligated.
    You can split the character into those that have been living fairly normal lives since Chosen and those that hasn't. Faith has been through a lot during the last two decades, though she is not the one who has had it the worst ;)
    Thank you! Willow's loyalties may become a little complicated, because as in the comics, she will be trying to bring magic back. Having magic in the world comes with a cost. Vampires and Satanists being two of them :p
     
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  8. 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 5 - The Lone Ranger and the Zeppo

    A civilian car drove through the desert. The driver was the deputy sheriff of a local town. His lips were playing with an unlit cigarette. He had a pink rash on his neck that he constantly scratched with his unkempt fingernails. His hairline was receding. His long greasy locks blew in the wind from the open window. He put his arm through it and tapped the outside of the door with his fingers.

    “One toke over the line, sweet Jesus, sittin’ downtown in a railroad station, one toke over the line…”

    An ugly groan from the backseat interrupted his song. He turned to look over his shoulder without slowing down the car.

    “You’re not blind, son. I put the patch on your good eye. You don’t wanna see the sun now, in your state.”

    He plucked the cigarette from his own mouth and stuck it between the lips of the near unconscious passenger. A zippo lighter had fallen out of the man’s pocket and was rolling back and forth in the seat. The sheriff picked it up, flipped it open in one hand and deftly snapped the fingers on his other to light it. The passenger started coughing as the smoke from the now burning cigarette filled his mouth and started to push at his throat.

    “Hair of the dog, ol’ boy. Hair of the dog.” The sheriff said as he returned his attention to the road. “It will make you feel better … or less bad. I assume your nerves must be pretty strung.”

    The sheriff switched on his car radio. The noise brought pained groans from the coughing man in the backseat. The sheriff turned down the volume a little. He was not heartless. Far from it. He had great sympathy for the man he was transporting. He had probably saved the old boy from a beating. The voices on the radio screamed to him about local businesses. The sheriff knew both the voices and the places they advertised. On his way back, he would drop by Nadine’s café for something stiff to take the edge off. Then he would go to Joe’s hardware store and complain about the screwdriver he bought last week.

    The sheriff pulled the car off the road with a little too much speed. The wheels screeched against the asphalt and pulled up a cloud of dust that blew into the car. The sheriff turned to look at his passengers.

    “I ain’t stopping here for long,” he said. “It will be evening soon, and this is bat country.” He coughed and spat out a lump of coal tasting phlegm. “My current medications make me paranoid of anything with wings. I want to be home before they leave their caves.”

    The sheriff reached forward towards the passenger and pulled his eyepatch over his empty eye socket, revealing the one blood red eye.

    The sheriff laughed. “Jesus, man, you look awful.” He took some aspirin out of the glove compartment and grinded it into powder inside his dirty hands. Then he dropped the powder inside his hip flask, shook it and gave it to the passenger. “Drink this and sleep. Aspirin and rye.”

    The passenger took the flask. He searched the seat for his lighter. The cigarette fell from his mouth and dropped onto his exposed knee. He bit his lip to stop himself from screaming. The sheriff snickered.

    “Find your bed and get to sleep,” he ordered. “And wait at least a couple weeks before you come back. You made some people angry tonight. They don’t wanna see you around too soon.” He laughed. “You won’t remember what I am saying now when you wake up, will you?”

    The passenger did not respond. He took the lighter and the flask and stumbled out of the car.

    The sheriff honked the horn of his car. “Dead man walkin’,” he shouted. “A resident has returned to Dead Man’s Trailer Park.” Then he drove off, leaving his late passenger in another cloud of dust.

    ****

    Xander opened his eye. He had awoken with a burning fever. His whole body was covered in sweat. He smelled as bad as the rest of the inside of his trailer. A delicate hand touched his shoulder. It was Willow’s.

    “Leave, Willow,” Xander said. “This isn’t right.”

    “It feels just right,” Willow whispered.

    “But…” Xander protested. “I am an agent of the FBI and you …” He turned to look into her beautiful, pale visage. “… you are a High School Wicca.” He turned away. “It would never work.”

    “I am sure it will,” Willow insisted. “I want you to be my first.

    There was a knock on the door. “That is probably Buffy,” Xander said. “I wonder what she wants this early in the morning?”

    Xander stepped out of bed and screamed as his bare foot encountered broken glass. There was another knock. Xander limped over to the door. The key to the padlock was not in its usual place. Xander cursed.

    “It is by the coffee machine,” Willow pointed out.

    Xander felt for it with his hands, found it and used it to unlock the chain that held the door. The visitor was not Buffy. It was … the darkness made it hard to see anything other than the silhouette. A cowboy hat… The man reached out for him. Xander thought he was being attacked, but he wasn’t. He was getting a hug … from Andrew!?

    “Howdy, partner … amigo.” Andrew let go of him. Then he turned towards the crowd of people standing behind him. “This, fellow travellers, is the mighty Xander. Vampire slayer extraordinaire. The One Who Sees. Friend to the Lone Ranger.”

    “I thought only girls could be vampire slayers,” someone standing in the crowd said.

    Andrew waved him off. “An accident of birth never stopped the mighty Xander. Penis or no, Xander has fought the beasts of Hell and persevered.”

    “Why is he not wearing any pants?” another asked.

    Xander suddenly realised that he was wearing nothing, except his boxer shorts and a thorn wife beater.

    “Xander, perhaps we should go inside for a moment,” Andrew whispered before addressing his crowd again. “My friends, I will take a moment to converse with the mighty Xander in private. He has obviously just come home from a long … day … of partying. Enjoy what this fair town has to offer while you wait.”

    “This is a ****ing scrapheap,” one of the crowd responded. “Is anyone else even alive here?”

    Xander found himself pushed back into his home. He looked towards his bed. Willow was gone.

    “Xander, goodness gracious, what have you done to yourself?” Andrew looked at him with concern.

    “I may be bit down on my luck,” Xander admitted.

    “Down on your luck!?” Xander received a slap across his cheek. “I never wanna see you in this state again, Xander,” Andrew nearly screamed at him.

    “Man, you’ve grown some balls,” Xander said as he rubbed his jaw.

    “Cojones,” Andrew corrected him. “We call them cojones in Mehico.”

    “Right…” Xander parted the curtains and looked out the window. “What’s up with this fan club you have trailing you?”

    “Oh, them?” Andrew removed his comically large cowboy hat. “Just a bunch of nerds. Vampire nerds. There is an online community where they discuss slayers, souled vampires, the Watcher’s Council and Illuminati conspiracies.”

    “And why are they on my porch?” Xander asked.

    “I pick a group of them up at the San Diego Comic-Con every year,” Andrew explained. “This group was getting a little restless, so I thought I would take them to see the mighty Xander.”

    “What?”

    “The Lone Ranger’s Guided Tour of Undead America,” Andrew said, obviously proud of himself. “A two week road trip in the footsteps of the mighty vampire slayers.”

    “And why did you come here?” Xander put a cigarette in his mouth, but he could not find his lighter. “Am I an attraction?”

    “You could be,” Andrew said. “If you looked more attractive.” He started rummaging through Xander’s clothes. “Do you have anything that is remotely clean?”

    “I have a set of clothes packed in a plastic bag for special occasions,” Xander said dryly and pointed towards the corner.

    “Let’s fix you up and get you on the bus with us,” Andrew said.

    “What? No way.”

    “Xander, you can’t stay here like this. Come with me.”

    “I am not getting on a bus with you and a bunch of kidnapped schoolchildren.”

    Andrew looked offended. “They’re costumers,” he said. “Most of them are in college. They are donating a small sum from their student loans to keep my business going.” He sighed. “I will give you 2,000 dollars at the end of the week.”

    “2,000?”

    “But you are not coming back here again,” Andrew said. “This is not the place for a legendary warrior to die. People like us, our dharma is the road.”

    “I live in a mobile home, don’t I?”

    “This trailer has not been on the road since the antebellum period.”

    “When did you become so snarky?”

    “Since I was elected Head General of the Slayer Army.”

    Xander snickered. “And how many was left by that point? How many officers did you have underneath you?”

    “Well, there was Tucker and Willow … she was not really part of the officer staff. We referred to her as Mother Superior to the Wiccans. There were a few more. A lot of people came and went. I can’t remember.”

    “It was you and Tucker. And Tucker had a day job.”

    Andrew sat down on a pile of … something. He looked weary. “In the end, when we closed down the office, Willow hadn’t dropped by in months and none of the slayers abroad answered the phone or returned our emails.”

    Xander threw his unlit cigarette on the floor and sighed a smokeless sigh. “It certainly ended fast. I never understood why.”

    “Why did you leave?”

    Xander looked away. “I don’t know. Anya was dead. Giles was a pain in the ass. Buffy hated me. Then she left. I did not see Willow much. The new slayers treated me like dead weight.”

    “But I’d give the world to see, that old gang of mine,” Andrew sang, throwing out his arms. “I can’t forget that old quartet.”

    Xander rubbed his temples. “If I had a stake ready, Andrew, I swear…” He scowled. “During all these years, I never missed you!

    “That was harsh!”

    “It was warranted. Just like the death of your friend.”

    A silence ensued. “I see,” Andrew said. “Still, here I am. No one else will be coming for you. Maybe a week on the road will change your outlook a little. A chance to bask in the old glory.”

    “Will we be stopping for drinks?”

    “The bus has an icebox full of apple cider.”

    “That will work.”

    “Now we just need to clean you up. Do you have any water for washing? A razor?” He looked closely at Xander. “When we get to the bus, I am going to bathe your face in moisturiser. Have you heard of sun lotion?”

    “There is some water in the fridge,” Xander said. “I think I just stepped on a safety razor.”

    Andrew opened the fridge and found a half a litre bottle of water. “Why do you have a fridge if there is no electricity?”

    “Fridge becomes closet,” Xander answered absentmindedly.

    “Sit down on the bed,” Andrew ordered. “I am going to trim that stubble with a rusty knife, if I have to. There are hairs connecting your eyebrows. You have a face only Ernie could love, and he is spoken for.”

    “Andrew, I can do this myself.”

    “I see no proof on you that you can,” Andrew said. “It seems I am taking over where Anya left off. Sit down and let me get to work.”

    A few minutes later, Xander was reasonably clean. His stubble was tidy and of a reasonable and even length. He had put on clothes that probably did not smell. The inside of the trailer reeked, so it was hard to be sure.

    They stepped outside. “Xander, I give you the world. World, I give you the mighty Xander.”

    It was completely empty. A tumbleweed blew past them.

    “My nerds,” Andrew exclaimed. “Where are my nerds?”

    “Andrew, this is not a playground. Some shifty people live around here. We better find them.”

    “They’re inside that trailer,” Andrew said.

    They ran over. Andrew’s entire group was crammed inside the tiny trailer.

    “What is going on?” Andrew asked.

    “There is dead woman inside.”

    “She’s so skinny.”

    “But kinda hot.”

    “Oh, no.” Xander bit his lip. “It’s Jane. She’s overdosed.” The girl had come from the Midwest to escape her parents. Her story was somewhat similar to Tara’s. Tara… That was so long ago. Xander could barely remember what she looked like.

    “A vampire bite!”

    “Na-hah!”

    “Don’t be stupid.”

    “Let me see!”

    “Boys,” Xander shouted. “Come out. Those are needle marks.” He could neither enter the trailer nor look inside, because of all the boys that blocked his path.

    “Would she inject herself in the neck – same vein – about two inches apart?”

    “Xander?” Andrew was looking nervous.

    “They are needle marks. Boys, come out. I want to check on her.”

    Andrew was tugging at his arm. “Xander, what if it isn’t?”

    “Andrew, when a junkie dies in a trailer park, you do not instantly assume vampire attack. Anyway, we killed the vampires.”

    “Did we?” Andrew’s eyes widened. “The vampire attacks stopped after the slayers cut contact. We lost count of how many we dusted. We have no idea how many could have been left.”

    “I’ve lived here for almost five years,” Xander said. “I have never heard or seen…”

    Andrew grabbed Xander by the collar. “Have you never seen a monster movie!? What if this is the sequel?” He looked towards the trailer. “Lower budget. Only two original cast members. Enough gore and nudity to make up for the lousy script.”

    “Andrew get off me. I want to check on my friend. Boys, come out before I drag you out.”

    A spray of blood painted the trailer’s window from the inside.

    “Xander…”

    “Andrew…”

    “This is the sequel!”

    “Andrew … shut up!”

    “There are like a million trailers here!”

    “Andrew clap your trap! Boys, come out of there NOW!

    The boys came running out. One of them was trying to drag his friend with him, but all he had left with him was a thorn off arm. Xander heard Jane feeding on the remains. The boys all huddled behind him, too terrified to run further.

    Xander pulled Jane’s post box up from the earth and held the pole before him like a spear. Then he started walking towards the trailer door. He saw Jane hunched over the dead boy. Blood flowed down the front of the boy’s shirt. Jane turned and looked at Xander with her catlike eyes. Then she pounced, accidently impaling herself on the pole of her own post box. Her ashes blew into Xander’s face.

    Andrew and the boys greeted him with applause as he came out. “The mighty Xander triumphs again!”

    “Andrew!” Xander was furious. “My friend is dead. So is one of your boys.”

    The tumbleweed came tumbling back. Andrew looked at his shoelaces.

    “Is Jason really dead?” One of the boys asked. “Was it not a trick?”

    “You’re so easily fooled. Jason was in on it.”

    “The arm I am holding is not rubber. It is warm and it is … it is bleeding.”

    “It is fake!”

    “Is not. Hold it!”

    “I don’t wanna.”

    “I am not holding it.”

    “Then put it down.”

    “I can’t put Jason on the ground. We need to find a casket.”

    Xander rubbed his temples, trying to think over all the chatter. “Andrew, you have a bus. Where is it?”

    “There is someone over here, too!” One of the boys was standing in the doorway of another trailer. “Same marks!”

    “Then get away from there!” Xander shouted.

    “Should we not do something? To stop them from rising?”

    “Put garlic in their mouths!”

    “Is there a vampire in all of these trailers?”

    “Probably!”

    “Should I put Jason’s arm next to his body?”

    “Will Jason become a vampire?”

    “If so, we should probably take his other arm as well.”

    “And his teeth!”

    “Just the canines!”

    “How will you manage that? He has braces.”

    “Then we take all of them.”

    “Can we give him his soul back?”

    “Xander?” Xander looked and saw Andrew staring up at him. “Do you remember what it was like? Making a difference?”

    “Yes…”

    “All these vampires. They could do a whole lot of damage when they rise.”

    “True…”

    “If we dust them, then we will be heroes again.”

    “If we do not run for the bus, we will likely be eaten.”

    Andrew put a hand on each of Xander’s shoulders. “When was the last time you felt alive, Xander?”

    Xander pushed Andrew’s arms away. “I get your point, but this could get messy. The only thing we could do is burn the trailers down. Many of the trailers have gas ovens and lots of liquor.”

    Andrew turned towards the crowd of boys. “Run into the trailers, turn on the gas and light a fire.”

    Xander smacked the back of Andrew’s head. “Are you insane?” He looked at the dispersing group of boys. “Come back,” he shouted at them. They ignored him. “This was a terrible idea. It is never going to work.”

    The boys ran around, breaking liquor bottles and lighting the trailers on fire. Some burnt slowly. Other lit up quickly.

    “We should probably move out of the park and upwind,” Xander said. “The smoke is not going to be healthy.”

    Xander grabbed Andrew and started moving out of the park. He shouted for the boys to join them. They started to come after. Some were carrying weapons they had found. Shotguns, revolvers, baseball bats, hockey sticks.

    “Did you see anyone rise?” Xander asked.

    “Not yet,” was the answer.

    “Did you check if they were bit? You did not set my neighbours on fire for nothing?”

    “All that I saw were.”

    “Because the people who live here,” Xander explained, “can look quite dead when they sleep. But they usually wake up again.”

    An explosion knocked them off their feet. The gas bottles in one of the trailers had caught fire.

    “Jesus Christ.” Xander dusted himself off. “Was anyone hurt?”

    It appeared not. The rest of the boys came running after them. Xander picked up the pace. There was an uncountable amount of trailers. Trying to burn them all down was a silly idea.

    “I threw Jason’s arm on the pyre.”

    “Like a Viking’s death.”

    “Should we get the rest of him?”

    “A lonely arm in Valhalla!”

    “The rest of him will wander the earth undead.”

    Xander struck his palm against his brow. “Andrew, where did you get these sickos?”

    “I told you,” Andrew answered. “At Comic-Con.”

    The door to a trailer opened. A man with obscenely bushy sideburns stepped out. “Xander,” he hollered. “Any chance for a poker game?”

    “I am all out of dough, Nigel,” Xander answered. “You look a little pale. Do you feel all right?”

    “About as bad as I usually do,” Nigel answered.

    “Xander,” one of the boys said. “This man is clearly a vampire.”

    “I know that,” Xander hissed through his teeth.

    “A vampire?” Nigel looked confused. “I am not a vampire.”

    “Do you feel hungry, Nigel? A little peckish?”

    “Maybe…”

    “What for?”

    “The flesh of the living … damn!”

    Xander held out his arm. “Hand me that shotgun,” he said.

    Andrew held up his arm, too. “The Lone Ranger needs a revolver.”

    Nigel held his arms up defensively. “Xander, let’s talk about this. I am not going to eat you.

    Xander received the shotgun, checked the shells in the barrel, cocked and locked it. “You’re not?”

    “Is it not possible for me to regain my humanity? I have been through worse than this. We both have.”

    Xander spat. “Sure… Get a soul, sleep with my best friend, just keep your distance.”

    “It is just…” Nigel shifted from side to side. “I am so very hungry. Could you not give me one of those boys to nibble on?”

    Xander lifted the shotgun. “You’ll be eating lead if you do not move out of our way.”

    Andrew stood next to Xander with his new revolver. “The Lone Ranger never misses.”

    “This is soooo f*cking cool,” Xander heard from behind them.

    Nigled laughed. “Xander, old pal. There are so many more of us than there are of you.”

    Xander looked around. The other residents had risen from their beds and were coming towards them. Behind them, someone was screaming, likely because they were on fire. Another trailer exploded, sending a shockwave towards them.

    “Xander…” Andrew’s voice shook. “Do you know how in vampire movies, there are just one vampire, while in zombie movies, there are many zombies. This is so iunfair.”

    “Run,” Xander whispered. “Run and fight for your lives.”

    They ran. The vampires leapt on them. The boys fought with everything at hand, but the vampires were stronger. The revolver could not kill them, but the .50-caliber bullets did much to slow them down. The shotgun managed to pacify them, at least for a while.

    “These vampires are not as quick as I remember,” Andrew remarked.

    “What did you expect?” Xander said. “They are all junkies and alcoholics.”

    Xander received a punch across his cheek. Blood flew from his mouth. A vampire threw him against the wall of a trailer, then pulled him backward, so he landed flat on the ground. Xander tried to reach for his gun, but the vampire pounced on him and bit into his neck. He heard Andrew shouting.

    ****

    Buffy grabbed Willow and Willow grabbed her back. They fell into the erupting volcano. The smoke filled Buffy’s mouth and nostrils. Their fall began slowing down. The hot air coming from deep inside the crater lifted them upwards. They span around. Buffy’s head fell backwards. She held onto Willow for dear life, digging her nails into the back of Willow’s hemp shirt. They span faster and faster. Buffy no longer felt Willow’s shirt, she was holding right onto her skin. The molecules in their bodies were separating. The fabric of their being tore itself apart and dissipated into dust. They were no longer separate. They were the same cloud of ashes floating high above the volcano. The wind blew their essence north, back to America.

    Buffy could not hear or see. Her ears and eyes were gone. But she could feel. She felt Willow drinking from a water fountain. Then Willow looked up, and she saw herself. So much younger.

    Several more memories flashed before her mind. Most of them were her own, while some seemed to be Willow’s. One of these memories was a memory of pain … long lasting pain finally replaced by relief … love … a sense of great accomplishment. Buffy lay in a hospital bed. Matt was sitting on the edge, holding her hand. “I sometimes envy you women,” the doctor said as he lay little Bobby in her arms. “Your gift … your gift is life.” Matt kissed her cheek, Bobby cried and Buffy felt an entire universe on fire.

    Buffy and Willow came together again. At first, they were just one blob of wet clay falling into a river. They sunk towards the bottom and the stream pulled them with it. Buffy reached out and her arm took separate form from Willow’s arm. Her legs struggled to propel her back towards the surface. For a while, it was as though she had four legs, but soon she had only two. Instinct told her to breathe, but her lungs could not separate oxygen from the muddy river water.

    It was impossible to see. Buffy caught some reeds in her hands and used them to pull herself up towards the bank. Willow had caught her by the waist. Buffy could feel her friend’s grip weakening. The terror of drowning gave her the strength to drag the both of them up to the surface. It was still night. A cold wind blew straight through Buffy’s soaked shirt and denim jeans. Dirty tufts of hair struck against her teary eyes, making it impossible to see.

    Once Buffy could breathe normally, she looked to her side and saw Willow lying face down in the mud. She rolled her friend onto her back. Water came pouring out of Willow’s mouth and nose. Buffy was relieved when she started coughing and gasping for air.

    “What happened?” Willow asked.

    Buffy lay down beside her and they both looked up at the stars. “I don’t know,” she said. “We survived, but I will kill your sorry ass once this numbness goes away.”

    “Is this the first time you’ve seen the stars from outside a city?” Willow asked. “I can show you the star signs. The Inca constellations, of course”

    “Do that,” Buffy mumbled. “And I will see if I can reach a reed to stab you with.”

    Willow turned to look at her. “I know that was not very pleasant, but let’s not fight. At least not until the shock passes.”

    Buffy rolled away. “I don’t wanna be this close to you right now.”

    She tried to stand up. It was a struggle. A cold had set into her legs, making the strain from yesterday’s mountain hike apparent.

    Willow still lay on her back. “I am so dizzy,” she said dreamily. “But it is a good kind of dizzy. Like a comfortable high.”

    “Get up or you’ll freeze to death,” Buffy scoffed.

    Willow rolled onto her knees and stood up. The mud dripping from her hair and clothes made her look like a swamp monster. Unlike Buffy, she was not shivering. Her knitwear seemed to keep her bearably warm.

    “Are you gonna explain yourself?” Buffy demanded.

    Willow looked at her feet … or towards them, at least. She was almost knee deep in mud. “I did. In my dream journal. But I think I left it in Limbo. The ethereal version anyway.”

    “Don’t be cute. Where are we?”

    Willow shrugged. “I have absolutely no idea.” She lifted her hands and parted her hair like curtains from a window. “A place with sandy dunes and rocks. A desert.”

    Buffy crossed her arms. “Can’t you tell me anything else?”

    A small trickle of blood leaked from Willow’s left nostril. She wiped her face with her sleeve, making it dirtier than it already was. “Xander, should be here,” she said. Buffy saw that she was swaying ever so slightly, as if she was about to lose her balance.

    Buffy waited for Willow to continue. When she didn’t, she asked, “Willow, are you all right?”

    Willow started as if she had been momentarily lost in thought. “Huh? Yes! I see. Oh, Xander.” Willow looked sad. “He threw the watch I gave him into this river.” She fell down to her knees, making a splash in the wet mud of the bank.

    “Watch?”

    “I sent him a watch for his birthday, just before I went to South America. It was really expensive. It cost me all I had left of the money we stole to fund the vampire war.” Willow sobbed. “I cast a spell on it, turning it into a magical beacon, so that I could find him whenever I wanted.”

    “Willow?”

    “Yes?”

    “How do you know Xander threw the watch into the river?”

    “Because it must… oh!” A look of terrible realisation filled Willow’s face and her eyes became twice their normal size. “XANDER!”

    She leapt to her feet and was about to dive into the river, before Buffy pulled her back. Buffy almost had her safely up on land, when she received Willow’s elbow to her mouth. Willow ran for the water again, but Buffy rolled after her and grabbed her ankle. She was able to dodge the horse’s kick that came.

    “Willow, stop!” Buffy crawled on top of Willow’s back to keep her from getting up. “If Xander is down there, then he is dead. So will you be, if you go back in.”

    “It cannot be,” Willow sobbed. “It cannot only be me left.”

    “What about me? I’m here!”

    “Are you really?” Willow asked as she struggled to keep her face above the watery mud. “Buff, can you get off now? We are sinking.”

    Buffy got up from Willow’s back and helped her friend to her feet. Very little of Willow was visible. From top to toe, she was covered in a layer of filth.

    “I would wipe some of this off,” Willow said, “but no part of me is clean.”

    They climbed out of the bank. It was difficult. Their legs sank into the wet mud. Buffy slipped and had to climb the last part on her hands and knees. They made it to dry land. A howling wind blew through the dunes. It kicked up dry dust that attached itself to the wet mud that stuck to Willow’s clothes. Buffy felt the wind blow right through her thin shirt and jeans and all the way into her bones.

    “We’re gonna die,” Buffy said. She was not exaggerating.

    Willow pulled at her shirt. “My clothes are quite stretchy. If you could fit inside, we could dig ourselves into the sand and keep each other warm until tomorrow.”

    Buffy raised an eyebrow. “Let’s exhaust our other options first.”

    “You brought wet cotton clothes to a late night desert hike,” Willow said. “You would have less chance of freezing to death if you were naked. Do you want to borrow my shirt for a while?”

    Buffy patted her arms with her hands. “And who brought us to this desert and dropped us inside a river?” she scoffed.

    Willow held up her hands defensively. “That is all on me,” she admitted, “but the outfit is all on you. Only someone borne in LA would go into the rainforest in a cheap shirt from H&M. Do you think Giles wore tweed blazers on his hikes?”

    “I am not undressing unless my fingers turn blue,” Buffy declared. “If Xander came here to throw his watch away … then there must be a road nearby.”

    Willow made a strange face. “We … we could perhaps ask that nice old man coming over the hill for help.” She put her hands over her mouth. “It’s…”

    Buffy turned and saw a bearded old man stumble down the rocky slope. It was clear from his gait that the half-empty bottle of Jack that he swung in his arm was not his first drink of the day. His features were hard and strange. His catlike eyes caught sight of Buffy and he licked his fangs with his tongue.

    Willow pushed Buffy before her. “You want to be a slayer again? This should be good practice!”

    “Willow, I can hardly walk,” Buffy protested, “let alone fight.”

    “He does not look so good, either.”

    “Can’t you hex him?”

    Willow rolled her eyes at Buffy. “That’s not how magic works.”

    Buffy frowned. “Tell me, how does magic actually work?”

    “With nosebleed, headaches, dead friends and tears in reality. When the Wicca says she won’t hex, then don’t push her. Now go get him, Tiger.”

    “Are you refusing to use magic, just to test me? This is not a good time.”

    “I have been warming my hands with my breath, hoping for the flexibility to retie my shoe laces. No spells.” Willow looked towards the vampire. He was closing in. “You take him from the front. I will strike him from behind.”

    The vampire gave them a hungry look. Buffy thought he looked a little unsure of himself, as if he did not know what he was supposed to be doing at this point. Just then, a loud bang echoed across the dunes. It sounded like a large explosion. The bearded vampire turned and looked. Buffy took the opportunity to yank the whiskey bottle from his hand and hit him across the head with it. The bottle shattered into thousand sharp pieces and left a bleeding wound in the back of the vampire’s head.

    “My head! You broke my head!” The vampire turned back towards Buffy and Willow. “What did you do that for?”

    Buffy and Willow looked at each other. Willow was the first to speak. “To stop you from eating us.”

    “Eat you?” The vampire sounded surprised. “Maybe I should. It would be just what you deserve.”

    Willow spoke again. “Hey, mister. Before we fight, could I ask you … where do you plan to go in the morning? To hide from the sun?”

    “Hide from the sun?” The vampire scratched his head. “I guess I’ll go sleep in my trailer until my eyes can handle the sunlight again.”

    Willow’s eyes shone. “And where is your trailer, mister?”

    The man pointed excitedly in the direction of the recent explosion. “Over at Dead Man’s Trailer Park.”

    Willow took Buffy by the hand. “We are two ol’ gals lookin’ to party and maybe donate some blood. A trailer park sounds like the perfect place for us.”

    The vampire scratched his head again. He seemed to have some problem thinking with a cracked skull. “Sure,” he said finally. “Follow me.”

    He started walking or climbing back up the dune. Buffy and Willow followed behind.

    “Stake him,” Willow whispered.

    “With what?” Buffy whispered back.

    They came to the top of the hill. It would have been too dark to see the trailer park, had it not been for the trailers that were on fire. The sound of gunshots echoed among the dunes.

    “Sounds like quite the party,” Willow said to the vampire.

    “Maybe a little too rough for you,” the vampire said. “Perhaps we should have our own party right here.” He held up his hands and bared his fangs.

    Willow screamed and started running down the slope towards the trailer park. Buffy followed close behind.

    “When chased by a bear,” Willow shouted over her shoulder, “always run downwards.”

    “He is a vampire, not a bear,” Buffy corrected her, fearing she would feel the vampire’s claws on her neck at any moment.

    Willow stopped. The vampire came rolling past them like a snowball.

    “His spirit animal is definitely a bear,” Willow said as they watched the vampire roll out of view. “I read it on his aura.”

    “His aura?”

    “Didn’t you see the size of his belly? Or his bushy beard? Total bear.” She made a wry smile. “Andrew used to leave copies of Bear Magazine in his work desk.”

    Buffy sighed. “He is a vampire. The fall did not kill him.”

    “I am more worried about what is going on down at the trailer park. Gang war?”

    “I am not Sherlock Holmes,” Buffy said. “But I deduce that half of the people fighting are vampires and the rest are not.”

    “That is not an unreasonable assumption,” Willow conceded. “By the way, I am not Dr Watson. I am Miss Marple.” She looked at Buffy. “Too much coded gayness in the Watson/Holmes relationship. Would be awkward.”

    Buffy frowned. “So,” she said. “What do we do?”

    Willow shrugged. “If we stay here, you will freeze to death and I will be eaten by vampire bear, once he wakes up again. I say we run into the fray.”

    Buffy sighed. “All right, but let’s be careful.”

    Another trailer blew up. Buffy turned away from the blaze and saw Willow’s pale skin turn orange for a second.

    “Fine by me,” Willow said. “Careful how?”

    “All right, let’s just get down there before we freeze to death.”

    ****

    “Xander is down. All men to the mighty Xander’s side!”

    Xander felt blood flow from his neck. He tried to push his attacker off, but it was to no avail. Only when five of Andrew’s boys had come to help him, did Xander manage to roll free of the vampire’s grasp. Andrew fired his revolver, hitting the vampire in its shoulder. It stood up and roared like a lion.

    “Take this, mutha****a,” Xander said as he cocked his shotgun and fired a hail of lead into the vampire’s belly, throwing it back towards one of the burning trailers. In seconds, it was ash.

    Xander dropped his gun, tore off the edge of his sleeve and tied it around his neck like a scarf, stopping the bleeding. Two more vampires came running round the corner of a trailer. Xander knelt down and picked up his gun. He hated killing the women. The men were easier somehow. He aimed his gun at the closest one. It was covered in so much wet mud that it looked like a swamp monster. It waved its arms at him. Called his name. It was … “Willow!”

    Buffy was right behind her. She walked over to one of Andrew’s boys, took the hockey stick from his hands and broke it in half across her knee. “There are more vampires coming,” She gave one half of the stick back to the boy and kept the other. “We need to get out of here.”

    “Xander!”

    “Willow!”

    “Could you … could you lower the gun, please?”

    Xander dropped his gun and Willow came running into his arms. The feeling of her muddy hair against his cheek was truly disgusting. Her shirt looked, felt and smelled as if it had been made from materials found at the bottom of a swampy pond. Not that he minded. He was not always so fresh himself, waking up as often in a ditch as in his own bed. He squeezed her tightly.

    Willow eventually pulled back. She grabbed his left wrist. “Where is the watch, you dooofus?”

    “In my nightstand.”

    “You dirty liar!”

    “Dirty?” Xander stood up. “Did you crawl here through the sewer pipes?” He looked around. “I mean sewer ditches. No pipes around here.”

    Willow punched him in the chest. “Have you never read a fairy tale? When the witch gives you something valuable, you keep it.”

    Xander rested the shotgun on his shoulder. “And when your best friend sends you a watch in the mail on your birthday with a letter, saying she is moving to the Amazonian rainforest, giving no phone number or address, what do you do then?” He looked down. “I could not keep it anymore. I had to accept that you were gone.”

    “The watch was the phone number,” Willow mumbled. Then she looked up and smiled. “I forgive you, Xander. Forgive me back?”

    “You brought our Messiah,” Xander said, pointing at Buffy. “Of course, I forgive you.”

    Willow made an awkward face. “Xander, Buffy may be a little rusty.”

    “Hello, Xander.”

    Xander forced himself to make eye contact with Buffy. It was not easy. Her expression was icy.

    “Buffy, it has been two decades. Ease up.”

    “Buffy,” Willow said. “It’s Xander…”

    “I see him,” Buffy said. “Dear old Xander. He has obviously turned his life around. Dead Man’s Trailer Park? Lovely place. Can’t wait to see it in daylight.” She looked around at Andrew’s boys. “Who are all these people?”

    Xander bit his lip in frustration. “This,” he said, “is the last remaining Scooby squad.”

    Buffy’s eyebrows rose in surprise.

    “Don’t look at me,” Willow said. “I had no idea.”

    “You are fighting vampires? With these boys?

    “It is not the stubble on the chin that makes a man a man,” Xander said. “Does the acne on their cheeks undermine their bravery?”

    Andrew stepped forward. “These proud men have sworn undying loyalty to the Lone Ranger and the mighty Xander. They were not chosen for this task. They left their parents’ basements and their college dorms willingly to fight that which lurks in the night.”

    Willow punched Buffy in the shoulder. “This is what happens when you take a twenty year sabbatical. Andrew becomes Che Guevara.”

    Buffy looked from Xander to Andew and back. “All right,” she sighed. “I am not going to ask what on earth is going on. Do you have a plan for surviving this?”

    Xander looked around. He could make out the figures of stumbling vampire junkies in the light cast by the still burning trailers.

    “Now that you are here, I was hoping you would just kill the rest,” he said.

    Buffy sighed. “Like Willow said, I am a little rusty.”

    “Ranger,” Xander said to Andrew. “Where did you park the Scooby-Mobile?”

    “The Scooby-Mob…? Ah!” Andrew looked around in the dark. “I am not sure. By the road, I guess.”

    “And that would be this way.” Xander turned and found himself pointing at a host of charging vampires. “But we are going the other way. Rangers to me,” he commanded, before running for his life, hoping the others would follow him.

    As he ran across the rocky ground, Xander realised there was a place where they could go. An old Catholic chapel lay up in the hills. The vampires would have trouble coming inside, because of the crosses, crucifixes and holy statuary. He just hoped the parties that had taken place inside had not desanctified it.

    Buffy ran up to his side. “I just wanted you to know,” she said, panting. “If we die, tonight. I don’t hate you, Xander.”

    “Not even a little?”

    “Not a lot, but I love you more. You have earned that.”

    “Thanks.”

    “We’re slowing down. They’ll catch us soon.”

    “I know,” Xander said, trying to sound confident. “There is a safe house just on the top of this hill. We just need to make it up this slope.”

    “In that case…” Buffy stopped. “I’ll meet you there.”

    “Buffy!?”

    Buffy held the hockey stake high. “I may not be super girl, anymore, but I will not be upstaged by Andrew. Willow, get Andrew and the boy scouts up the hill.”

    “Buffy,” Xander grabbed Buffy’s wrist. “The only way for us to make it up is by letting the vampires eat the slowest runner.” He looked down. There were still a few “rangers” that had not caught up. The vampires were just behind them.

    “I am going in last,” Buffy said, determined.

    “Then I’ll go in next to last,” Xander said, almost as determined.

    Willow, Andrew and a few others ran past them. They stopped a little further up the hill. “Eh, Xander,” Andrew called. “Was there a particular place you were leading us to?”

    “There is a chapel just up the hill,” Xander called back.

    “Where?”

    Buffy smiled at Xander. “Go up and prepare a barricade. Make sure Willow makes it.”

    “I can do that,” Xander said.

    The vampires had almost caught them. Xander ran up towards Andrew and Willow. Andrew fired at the vampires. One of the shots did not miss. It hit the closest vampire in the brow and caused him to trip and fall. Buffy came after, but she was running slowly, making sure the last “rangers” could catch up with her.

    As they came to the plateau, Xander saw to his surprise that candles were burning inside the old chapel. The door stood ajar. An old wreck of a car stood parked at the back. There was no time to wait and think. They had to get inside. Xander, Willow, Andrew and several others stormed through the door.

    “Deputy Sheriff Pepper!?”

    The sheriff lay against the chapel shrine. A waiflike woman sat perched upon him. Blood trickled from a bite mark inside the middle of the sheriff’s horrible rash. The woman turned towards Xander and the others. Blood ran down the sides of her mouth.

    “Kitten!”

    It was Drusilla.

    “Raise your hand if you think this guided tour is getting a little bit too real,” one of the “rangers” said.

    Andrew put his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “At ease soldier. This is a monster from legend. Let’s watch and see what the mighty Xander will do.”

    Xander threw up his arms. “Nothing. I will do nothing. I am gonna stand here and wait to be gang banged from two directions.”

    Drusilla wiped the edged of her mouth with her long nailed fingers. “The copperman did not taste nice,” she complained.

    “You fed on Deputy Sheriff Pepper!?” Xander looked like he was gonna throw up. “Legends say his grandfather brought HIV to the west coast. His blood is more chemically diverse than that of any lab rat.”

    Drusilla rubbed her tummy. “I am not feeling very well”

    Xander put his hand on his waist. “I am not surprised. Go home and sleep it off. Tomorrow night you can eat a real estate agent or something. Scratch that. Try a Mormon Missionary. They’re safe.”

    Willow looked at Xander. “Did you read the report from the mission to Utah?”

    Xander sighed. “I only have on eye, so I only read half of the reports. Perhaps we should talk about your dealings with the Council of Fifty another time.”

    “We enjoyed watching your bonfires,” Drusilla said. “It has been a good night.”

    “It has indeed,” Xander said. “Almost time to say good day.”

    “Wouldn’t wanna be caught in the sunlight,” Drusilla said and broke into a howl of cackling laughter.

    At that moment, Buffy came flying into the room. She hit the floor hard and rolled right into the innermost wall. A trail of blood was left in her wake. A vampire from outside pounced upon her and bit into her arm. Xander grabbed a bust of Jesús Malverde and hit the vampire in the head with it. Once, twice, thrice, fouce? fivce? Xander lost count, but the vampire’s skull eventually cracked and the beast turned to dust.

    Buffy jumped to her feet. “We need to make a barricade,” she said. She slammed the doors shut. “Gather any crosses or crucifixes. Look for bottled water.”

    “Buffy…”

    “Not now, Xander.”

    “Buffy…”

    “Buffy, dear.” Drusilla put her cold hand on Buffy’s shoulder. “I have had a looong night. Would you mind letting me out?”

    Buffy gaped. She stood frozen as Drusilla walked past her, opened the door and disappeared into the night.

    It was Andrew who finally slammed the door shut again. It was just in time, because they immediately started hearing the sounds of someone clawing at the other side. Willow began handing out crosses to the “rangers” and positioned them by the windows. Buffy took the large crucifix that stood atop the shrine. She held it in her left hand. Her right hand looked limp and bloodied.

    “I only wanted a selfie with Lucy Lawless.”

    “If Lucy hears about this,” Andrew said to his ranger. “She will be asking you out on a date.”

    “What time is it?” Buffy asked.

    Xander looked at his wrist, but his watch was gone.

    “Oh-five-fifty-five,” Andrew said.

    “Go home vampires,” Willow shouted. “It is almost sunrise.”

    An arm broke through a window and yanked the crucifix from the hands of a ranger. The vampire was too fat too make it inside. Xander fired his shotgun at him.

    “Out of ammo,” he said. “Shotgun becomes baseball bat.”

    Buffy and two “rangers” were trying to keep the door closed. The hinges were starting to come lose. It was only a moment of time before the vampires were inside.

    “Have none of you seen a vampire movie,” Willow shouted at the invaders. “The sun is coming to fry you. You won’t all fit inside this chapel.”

    “None of these people are particularly smart, Willow,” Xander said. “Trust me.”

    The door broke down. Buffy had to back away several paces to get enough momentum to swing her heavy crucifix at them with her one good arm. The vampires hissed. One of the “rangers” remained too close to the door. Three vampires pulled him outside. Two others came storming in. The crucifix and crosses pained and confused them. Xander swung his shotgun at their heads. The vampires started retreating towards the door.

    “I cannot carry this thing anymore,” Buffy said and handed her crucifix to Willow.

    Willow charged at the vampires, using the crucifix as a battering ram. The vampires roared as the holy wood burned them. Andrew came up behind Willow and helped push her forwards. The vampires tripped and fell on the threshold.

    “Not so fast, Andrew,” Willow screamed. “Pull me back. Pull me back!”

    More vampires came storming in. Willow and Andrew were thrown backwards into the room, getting the heavy crucifix on top of them.

    “Form a protective circle in the corner,” Buffy shouted.

    Everyone backed away as far as they could, creating a Scooby-Ranger sandwich in the corner with Deputy Sheriff Pepper at the bottom.

    “Xander, you are laying on the crucifix. The crucifix needs to be on top.”

    The battle that followed was hardly dignified. Our heroes lay in a pile. The vampires tried to pull the crosses and crucifixes from their hands. The chapel room was way too small for all the vampires that had come inside. Soon, everyone was rolling around on top of each other on the floor.

    Suddenly, Deputy Sheriff Pepper stood up. “Richard!” he shouted at one of the vampires. Spit was flying from his mouth. “You thought you could jump bail? After that stunt you pulled?”

    He threw himself at the vampire, causing both of them to land upon Andrew and Willow. Buffy pierced the vampire’s heart with a broken candlestick.

    “Richard! Where did you go?” Deputy Sheriff Pepper screamed. He went out the door, tripping several times on rangers and vampires. Two seconds later he came back in. “Blasted sun. Where is my sunglasses?”

    Nobody answered. Xander was laying against the wall, underneath a pile of ash. Willow’s head leant against his shoulder. Andrew lay panting across his lap. Buffy was sitting across the room, clutching her right hand with her left. The shrine was completely destroyed. The walls and floor were painted with blood. The cold wind blew into the chapel, causing the ash to whirl up in their faces.
    ______

    Buffy and her friends will return in Faith, Spike & Dick
     
  9. sosa lola

    sosa lola Scooby

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    Obviously this is my favorite chapter :D Andrew fanboying Xander was funny, and I'm so glad he cleaned up Xander as much as he could. Loved the trio's reunion. Things are heating up so fast.

    Favorite line:

    “Is it not possible for me to regain my humanity? I have been through worse than this. We both have.”

    Xander spat. “Sure… Get a soul, sleep with my best friend, just keep your distance.”
     
    WillowFromBuffy: Thank you! Xander and the Rangers will become a force to be reckoned with.
    WillowFromBuffy likes this.
  10. Fool for Buffy

    Fool for Buffy "I wanna see how it ends"

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    Sineya
    The fanboys were definitely the best part. Or the return of Drusilla and complaining about the sheriff tasting bad. I also always enjoy Andrew and this was no exception. Xander is still Xander despite everything that has happened. I appreciate that. Very good overall but I can tell by the title the next chapter is gonna be my favorite. Faith and Spike both back:D
     
    WillowFromBuffy: Thank you!
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017
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  11. Priceless

    Priceless I am now

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    Still loving the style, it's a trippy dippy world you've created and I like it. Would you be offended if i said it reminded me of Tarantino? You've written a great Xander, I really feel for him. I even like Andrew, and I never like Andrew. Cannot wait to see Spike back now we have Dru.
     
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  12. WillowFromBuffy

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

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    I have a trippy dippy mind!
    Not at all. I love the style and comedy of Tarantino. Deputy Sheriff Pepper would not be out of place in a Tarantino flick, I hope. The genius of Buffy, which sets it above Tarantino, is that it adds some real emotion to all the camp entertainment.
    Thank you so much! I really love Xander. I don't beat on him to be mean. It is all done out of love.
    I am quite surprised myself to see Andrew playing such a central role. Thing is, I need him. Andrew is the one character who is not a little bit jaded. All he wants is to be a part of the group and for the group to work.
    Well, the full return of Spike is coming up. Just hope I can make it good. Faith and Angel are a fun pair to work with. They are not quite as tight as they used to be.
     
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  13. Priceless

    Priceless I am now

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    You do

    I liked that he didn't just tell Xander to pull himself together, he actively tried to help him. It was kind of Andrew, and if we'd seen more of that in the show I might have liked him more.

    Faith and Angel have been fun. I like Buffy and Willow too. I'm just hoping your plan isn't to dust Spike too soon, just remember he can be a lot of fun, has great insight and a good heart (sometimes)
     
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  14. WillowFromBuffy

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

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    I think the anger Andrew feels at seeing Xander is a bit of the same as Spike feels in Gone. No one likes seeing their heroes weak. Now that Andrew has found the Scoobies again, he will do everything he can to make them stay together. He doesn't want to be abandoned again.
    Dust Spike? Buffy wants to be a slayer again and Willow suggests she should reconnect with the people from her past. Who understands the slayer side of Buffy best?
     
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  15. WillowFromBuffy

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

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    hLtnPzL.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 6 - Faith, Spike and Dick

    “Perhaps I should take that for you.”

    “I’m fine.”

    “Are you sure? You may hurt your back, old man.”

    “Just move out the way before my arms come off.”

    “Pass it to me.”

    “No! Move!”

    “Don’t be an idiot. Gimme!”

    Faith held out her hands and received the heavy chest from Angel. “Oh shit! That’s heavy.”

    “Then put it down,” Angel said as he climbed down the final steps of the attic ladder.

    “I am taking it to the car,” Faith declared.

    Angel looked at her. “You sure you’re all right?”

    “I’m five by… Just get the damn door for me.”

    Faith carried the chest out and put it in the boot of Angel’s car. It was an impressive feat, but Angel could see that her arms were shaking. Faith was strong, though maybe not quite as strong as she once had been. Everyone was so much older – ex-vampires and ex-slayers alike.

    “I’ll go get the key…”

    It was too late. Faith had already picked up a stone and smashed the padlock to pieces. The lid sprang open. A cloud of old dust dispersed to reveal the swords, axes and maces hidden inside.

    “They look a little blunt,” Angel said.

    “I like blunt,” Faith said. “Blunt goes smash instead of slash.”

    Angel smiled at her. “It takes a lot of strength to smash a vampire to death.”

    Faith held up her arms and flexed them. “You doubt I have what it takes, boss?”

    “Do you remember when I was just Angel to you?”

    “I remember, boss. Good times. Too bad they had to end.”

    They got in the car. Angel took the driver’s seat, while Faith rode shotgun. She kept the shotgun broken across her knee to keep it from accidently firing as they drove.

    “So, boss?” Faith said, as they drove from Angel’s flat towards downtown LA. “Are we gunning for Drusilla tonight?”

    “Not exactly,” Angel said. “I have been trying to find my old contacts from my … er … detective days.” He sighed. “Of course, it’s been a while, and after the demonic genocide, they are all dead or gone.”

    Faith spat out the window. “Don’t call it a genocide,” she scoffed. “It was war. They gave almost as well as they took.”

    “Never mind the semantics. We are here or they are all gone. All except Drusilla and her minions, that is.”

    “So where are we going now?”

    “I stuck my ear to the ground, went to the old vampire watering holes. It was not long before I started hearing rumours.”

    “Rumours of what?”

    “I think I know the location of a nest,” Angel said. “If we are lucky, it is the only nest. Then we can finish this tonight.”

    Faith lit a cigarette. “And go back to our jolly lives.”

    Angel plucked the cigarette from Faith’s mouth and threw it out the window. “Not in the car. I drive Connor’s kids in this car.” He looked over at Faith and saw her scowl back at him. “You know,” he said. “We don’t have to lose contact again. We almost became friends once, didn’t we?”

    “Did we? Or were I just a stepping stone on your quest to regain your humanity?”

    “There is no reason you, too, could not join regular society. You do not need to live in the gutter.”

    “We all live in the gutter, boss man, but some of us are looking up at the stars.” Faith sighed. “There is the issue of my criminal past.”

    “Gunn can help you with that.”

    “I need a shrink for that, not a lawyer. The police was never the problem.” She looked discerningly at Angel. “How did you get over everything you have done all of a sudden? Bit of a radical change from ol’ bleedin’ heart Angel.”

    “I didn’t.”

    Faith smacked him. “Yes, you did. You can’t lie to me.”

    Angel hesitated. Faith was speaking the truth. Angelus seemed like a nightmare – a story he remembered, but felt no connection to. It was even weird hearing the name Angel again. Kate had insisted on using it, even though all his new friends called him Liam. Liam had not saved the world, nor had he slaughtered innocents for pleasure. Liam was just Liam, and he had a son named Connor. Being with Faith made him feel like he was Angel again, more than being with Kate had done. Perhaps he needed to feel he was Angel to get at Drusilla.

    “I was forgiven,” he said. “So I chose to finally forgive myself.”

    “Forgiven,” Faith grunted, “by the ****in’ Powers Th…”

    Angel hit the brakes hard. “We’re here!”

    Faith jumped out of the car and closed her shotgun.

    “Are you gonna use that thing against the vampires?” Angel asked.

    Faith smiled. “It is fun to hear them scream, but it may not be all that effective.” She handed the gun to Angel. “Maybe you should take it, boss. Your swordarm may be a little stiff.”

    Angel took the shotgun. “I miss Wesley,” he caught himself saying.

    “Me too,” Faith sighed.

    She walked behind the car and opened the boot. Whistling a tune, she started rummaging through the weaponry.

    “There are no stakes,” she complained. “Just metal.”

    “Then you decapitate.”

    “I am sure you could get better stuff than this at a renaissance fair.”

    Angel turned towards the old factory building. His human eyes could not see too well in the dark, and he was becoming near sighted. The light from the street lamps only reached so far. There seemed to be people walking on the roof and on the walls. It occurred to Angel that he and Faith might be somewhat outnumbered. Then the factory doors swung open. Angel saw the silhouette of a man emerge.

    “Faith,” Angel said. “Someone is coming.”

    “Vampire?”

    “Not sure.”

    The man walked closer towards Angel and Faith, but he did not see them. He seemed preoccupied. His gait was unsteady, as if drunk. Angel thought he could hear him muttering something under his breath – something rhythmic, like poetry. The light from a passing car illuminated the man for a moment. Angel could see that it was a skinny man with hollow cheeks, bleached hair, wearing a red shirt.

    “Spike!”

    Spike looked towards him and tilted his head. “Angel boy! You look awful, old chap.”

    Angel folded his arms. “Don’t look all that well yourself.”

    “I’m a little hungover,” Spike explained. “Been sleeping a long time.”

    Angel looked sternly at him. “Spike, what are you doing here? Are you back with Dru?”

    Spike scoffed. “Of course not. I am good, remember?”

    Angel raised an eyebrow. “Then what are you doing here? Why are there new vampires walking about? The slayers spared you, because … you know … you helped kill all the vampires.”

    “Those vampires?” Spike pointed up on the wall. “I am not with them. I am just scouting the place out.”

    As he spoke, the doors to the factory opened again. A scantily clad woman came out. She walked unsteadily on stiletto heels, but somehow managed not to spill the drink she was carrying. Her eyes wandered until she saw Spike.

    “Here is your bloody Mary, boss!”

    Spike hiccupped. “Thanks, luv!”

    Angel narrowed his eyes. “Boss?”

    Spike covered the side of his mouth with his hand. “I am deep undercover,” he whispered really loudly.

    Angel moved closer. “Spike, you better explain yourself.”

    One side of Spike’s mouth curved into a smile. “Or what?” He suddenly seemed a little more awake than before.

    For the first time, Angel almost regretted being human. “Or I will let the Slayer loose on you.”

    Spike held up his hands in mock terror. “This one? I fought and killed her sisters, back when that epithet meant something.”

    The serving girl looked jittery. “Should I call for the others, boss?”

    “No need,” Spike said. “These are old friends. Go back inside.”

    “Spike you need to tell me what you are doing her with a gang of vampire lackeys!”

    Spike lit a cigarette. “Not much. I have been waiting here for you Scoobies to show up.”

    Angel groaned. “We’re not the Scoobies. We’re Angel Investigations.”

    Faith kicked Angel in the shin. “… and I am his best friend Faith.”

    Spike rubbed his hands. “All right. So we have Angel Investigations and his slayer bodyguard. Where is the Buff?”

    “What?”

    “You heard me.” Spike peered into the shadows. “Where is Buffy?”

    Angel shrugged. “Buffy is not here. Why would Buffy be here?”

    Spike snickered. “Are you saying Buffy is not here in LA? Did you come here all by yourselves?” He looked them over. “You are serious? Buffy’s not here?”

    “She’s not here.”

    “Then go get her and come back!” Spike sipped his bloody Mary, removed the umbrella, and drank the whole glass down.

    “We’re not leaving,” Faith said. “We’re going in.”

    “We’re after Drusilla.”

    Spike looked at them strangely. Then he laughed. “I knew it. You are a diversion. Buffy will be charging through the back entrance any moment. No need. Tell her to come here.” He put his hands to his mouth and yelled, “Buffy come forth. I know you are there, pet!”

    No one came. Angel thought he could see Spike’s eyes glisten. He was obviously disappointed. Nobody spoke. The noises of the city started encroaching on them. Police sirens far away. The music from a kebab stand. Two young women talking as they walked by across the street. Spike threw his glass at the ground. The serving girl jumped and scampered back towards the factory building.

    “Go home,” Spike said to Angel and Faith. “This is pointless.”

    Faith stepped up to him. “No way. Me and the boss came to kill vampires.”

    Spike burst into a giggle. “You’re in way over your head, Missy.”

    Angel saw it happen in a flash. Faith swung at Spike, but the vampire easily eluded her fist. Angel ran over to the chest and pulled out a sword. It felt heavy and unbalanced. He looked back at Spike and Faith. Spike was toying with the Slayer. His ugly grin gleamed in the light from the street lamp. Faith kicked and punched but hit only air. Angel charged, holding his sword high. Spike grabbed the blade with his hand and pulled the sword from Angel’s grasp.

    “You were gonna fight Drusilla,” Spike laughed. “You have no idea what she has become, what she can do.”

    Faith must have seen an opening when Spike was distracted, because she managed to land a punch right on his nose. It was enough to throw the vampire off his footing, giving Faith the opportunity to strike again. The balance had shifted. Faith did not smile, but neither did Spike anymore.

    “You filthy harlot,” Spike yelled. Blood gushed from his nose and mouth.

    ****

    Buffy awoke in pain. Her entire body hurt. Worst of all was her right hand. Her fingers were so numb that she could hardly move them. She sat up. She was in a sleeping bag, laying across the back seats of a bus. Willow sat in the seat in front of her, looking very much like her younger self in her sun hat and denim overalls.

    “Where are we?”

    Willow looked at her with concern. “Are you going to ask me that every time you wake up? We’re in Andrew’s bus on the way to his ranch.”

    “Andrew owns a ranch?”

    Willow shrugged. “He claims to. He’s out buying provisions, along with Xander and the boys.”

    Buffy wiped the sleep from her eyes. Her lashes were as though glued together. “I need to get home,” she said.

    “Why?”

    “Willow, we are on the run with a busload of kids, some of which are dead. I need to get home, get back to work.” She groaned. “My body is broken, my wallet and my cell phone is on top of a volcano in South America. There are miles and miles of desert around us…”

    “Buffy, calm down. Andrew says we will be at his ranch tomorrow morning. You need to rest and get better, and then we can plan what to do about Drusilla.”

    “Willow, what if she goes after my children … for revenge?”

    “We could … we could ask them to come out and join us.”

    Buffy sighed. “They will think their mother is mad if I tell them a vampire woman may be after them.”

    “I think our best bet,” Willow said, “is to get in touch with Angel and Faith. Faith is apparently still a Slayer.”

    “Great,” Buffy groaned. “I will have to rely on Faith to save my children. Is there no one else? How about … Spike?”

    “Buffy … Spike is dead.”

    Buffy raised an eyebrow. “Really?”

    “Well, he should be. He definitely tried hard enough to get himself killed. He tore through Africa and most of Asia with his reincarnated god-smurf, killing some of the oldest and most powerful demons. Then they both vanished.”

    “A reincarnated god-smurf?” Buffy burst into laughter, but she felt a tear pressing. “The world was surely weird back then. Weird and wonderful.”

    Willow smiled. “We could make it wonderful again,” she said. “Now that the Hellmouths are opening again, we could do anything.

    ****

    Angel held his nose. He tasted blood, but it did not taste like it had before. Before it was sweet intoxicating nectar. Now it was salty, iron and disgusting. He blinked. His vision returned. Spike and Faith were pommelling each other like two titans. It was clear that Spike had the upper hand. Angel saw the vampire grab Faith’s arm and twist it. Faith fell onto one knee. Her defences were down. She clutched her arm. Spike could easily finish her off, once he was done gloating.

    Angel rolled around, found the shotgun, cocked it, rolled back onto his back and fired a hail right into Spike’s gut. The little pieces of led tore through Spike’s insides and sent him flying backwards.

    “You unbelievable bastard,” Spike howled.

    Faith was on her feet. She hit Spike across his face, causing him to spit a lump of blood that had boiled up from his thorn intestines. Then she grabbed him by the throat to choke him. Bad idea. Spike grabbed her back and lifted her from her feet.

    “Let’s see who runs out of air first, pet,” he whispered through gritted, bloodied teeth.

    “Let her go,” Angel coughed. “Unless you want the next load through the head.” He held the shotgun prepped and ready.

    Spike dropped Faith, who collapsed at his feet.

    “All righty, then,” Spike said. “You’ve passed the first test.” He bowed. “You may now fight the rest of the vampires.”

    Angel pulled himself to his feet. He was exhausted after the fight. Being a mortal had its downsides. Spike walked away and passed through the crowd of vampires that had begun encircling them. Angel ran over to Faith and helped her up.

    “What do you say?” Angel asked her. “Do we run back to the car or do we fight?”

    Faith spat blood. “I am taking that mother****er down!

    Angel sighed. “I was afraid you would say something like that.”

    Faith charged at the vampires, seemingly in blind rage. The vampires scattered in confusion, allowing Faith to pounce at them one by one. Angel ran after her with a sword and decapitated those vampires she had left bloodied and quivering. The sound of Spike’s gloating laughter echoed around him. Angel clenched his teeth. He had to keep moving. Faith was way ahead of him. Staying close to her seemed prudent. The incapacitated vampires would soon be on their feet again.

    Angel entered the factory building and ran to the second floor. Faith was on the other side of the room. Two vampires had grabbed hold of her arms. A third one was beating her. Angel was about to come to her aid, when he saw Spike swoop down from the ceiling. He tore the vampires away from Faith, before disappearing again.

    “Be fair, boys,” Angel heard Spike cackle. “Fight her one on one.”

    Angel and Faith exchanged looks.

    “Perhaps we should…” Angel began.

    “… rip his head off and throw it from the roof?”

    “… withdraw?”

    “Over my dead body,” Faith screamed and vanished amongst the shadows.

    “Don’t tempt fate, Faith,” Angel muttered.

    ****

    “Stop the bus!”

    Andrew hit the brakes.

    “What is going on?” Xander asked.

    Deputy Sheriff Pepper had awoken. He was staring at a little shack just off the road. “There he lives,” he muttered. “The scumbag!”

    “Who?”

    Deputy Sheriff Pepper grabbed Xander’s collar and pulled his face uncomfortably close to his own. “Three days ago we raided a mob den looking for guns,” he explained. “We found nothing and the DA was furious with us.” He looked back at the shack. “Someone tipped them off, giving them time to hide the guns, and now I know where.”

    Xander looked at the shack. It seemed abandoned. “You think the mob hid guns there?”

    Deputy Sheriff Pepper scratched his neck. Xander tried to pull away.

    “We’re gonna fight the undead, right?” Deputy Sheriff Pepper asked. “We have an army – a small one. If we could only get them armed we … we would be like a people’s militia.”

    Xander looked back at all the comic con geeks. “That may be a slight exaggeration.”

    Willow came forward. “Xander, what is going on? Why are we stopping?”

    Xander was about to answer, but Deputy Sheriff Pepper pushed past him and ran out the bus. He was heading to the shack.

    “We better follow him,” Xander said, taking Willows hand and leading her with him. “How potent are your Wicca powers these days?”

    “You should never ask a witch how potent her powers are,” Willow reprimanded him. “That is a very personal and complicated question. It is all tied to moon cycles and auras and stuff.”

    Xander snorted. “You could just have said, not very.

    “There is more to being a Wicca than exploding balls of fire. It is a religion, a lifestyle…”

    “We are trying to stop an armed maniac from killing a member of the mafia. Let’s discuss religion afterwards.”

    They hurried after the sheriff. Pepper was already beating on the door to the shack. Nobody opened, so he shot the lock out and stormed in.

    Willow held her ears. “Goddess!”

    “Maybe we should get in the bus and drive off?” Xander thought for a moment. “Damn it! He has pulled me out of a ditch too many times. I am going in.”

    Deputy Sheriff Pepper had just cuffed the man that had been sleeping inside and was now pointing his revolver at the man’s temple. “Dawkins, you little shit!” Pepper yelled. “Where are the guns?”

    “There are no guns here!” the man yelped.

    “Willow,” Xander shouted. “Cast a disarming spell.”

    Willow waved her arms impotently. “Disarming spell? This is not Harry Potter.”

    Witches and their annoyingly inconsistent powers… Xander thought to himself. “Pepper, my man,” he tried. “Perhaps you were mistaken. Perhaps we should get back on the bus. Almost nightfall … wouldn’t wanna be caught unawares.”

    Deputy Sheriff Pepper cocked his revolver. “You made us look real foolish. We tore through Montana’s mansion looking for those guns. The damages were … considerable.”

    The man glared up at him. “You only did that, because he had stopped paying you off.”

    “That’s it.” Deputy Sheriff Pepper pulled the man to his feet. “You’re coming with us on the bus.”

    Pepper pulled the struggling man towards the door, but as soon as the light from outside fell upon him, the man vanished into smoke and ash.

    Deputy Sheriff Pepper scratched his rash. “This rabbit hole, Harris… It just gets weirder and weirder.”

    Buffy and Andrew entered the shack. Xander saw that Buffy was still clutching her right hand.

    “What the hell is going on?” Buffy asked them.

    “I am not sure,” Willow answered. “Some sort of police work, I think.”

    “A damn intriguing mystery,” Deputy Sheriff Pepper sighed. “One for the grandchildren.”

    Xander went over to the bed in the corner. His eye had spotted something. He pulled forth a duffel bag. It was filled with rifles and shotguns.

    “Wow!” he gasped. “Pepper killed someone who was actually guilty of a crime.”

    Deputy Sheriff Pepper clapped his hands. “Great. Now we can arm the geek squad. We will strike fear into the Illuminati vampires of Washington.”

    Buffy grabbed Xander’s shoulder. “We are not giving military grade weapons to those kids.”

    “They are not kids,” Andrew objected. “They are brave young men who have lost friends in the line of duty.”

    Buffy looked at Willow. “Help me out here!”

    Willow shrugged. “I don’t know. Not that you did not do good at the trailer park, but we kinda got our asses kicked. We need to be able to defend ourselves against another attack.”

    Xander offered Willow a rifle. Willow stepped back from him.

    “A Wiccan with a gun!? The others would excommunicate me.”

    Xander handed Buffy a pistol. “A small calibre sidearm for our one-handed, Slayer?”

    Buffy took the gun. “I miss being a hot young chick with superpowers,” she sighed.

    “That’s the spirit.” Willow gave Buffy two thumbs up. “Focus on that feeling and soon you’ll be Wonder Woman again.”

    Buffy rolled her eyes and went back into the bus. Xander and Andrew handed out guns to all the “rangers”.

    “This is a beautiful moment,” Deputy Sheriff Harris said. “A beautiful moment, indeed.”

    ****

    Angel was alone on the roof. He was exhausted. He did not know how long the fight had lasted, he did not know how he had survived nor did he know where Faith was.

    “Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are!

    Angel turned around and saw Spike swaggering towards him. The fires from below reflected in the vampire’s eyes. Angel held up his hands, palms out.

    “Peace, Spike,” he said.

    “Peace?” Spike laughed. “Haven’t you had enough of peace, yet, old man? We were dragonslayers, you and I. Remember that?”

    Angel shrugged. “There are no more dragons.”

    “No,” Spike conceded, “but there is Drusilla. She sired your girlfriend. Where is your rage, man?”

    “You know about that?”

    “Of course, I do.” Spike grinned. “You should have seen her, Angel boy. She was so proud of herself.”

    “Why haven’t you stopped her?”

    Spike shrugged. “I can’t.”

    “Can’t?” Angel snickered. “You can’t, because you still love her.” He charged at Spike, swinging his sword.

    Spike leapt out of Angel’s way and gave him a kick in the back. “Maybe I do,” he said. “Unlike you, I am actually still capable of love.” He lit himself a cigarette. “That is not the issue. Dru is strong. We are not.” He pointed at Angel. “Especially you, you Uncle Tom.”

    “What do you mean?” Angel asked as he got back on his feet. “Why is Drusilla so strong?”

    “Something happened to world,” Spike said, “but now everything is reverting back to how it was. Drusilla understands how and why.” He smirked. “I always told you she wasn’t crazy.”

    “I don’t believe you,” Angel said, raising his sword again. “You’ve crawled back to her. That is why you asked about Buffy. You want Buffy to save you, because you are scared of being alone. Listen, William! Buffy ain’t coming for you.”

    Spike’s eyes grew dark. He let the cigarette fall from his mouth. “Come on,” he said. “You can’t fool me. You went grovelling to Buffy for help, but she did not come for you either. Faith is cute enough, but let’s be serious: She wasn’t your first choice.”

    Angel caught his breath. “You need help,” he said. “There was only ever three people in your world, wasn’t it? You, Dru and Buffy.”

    “And how much better would it be,” Spike sneered, “if you and all the rest could just go away?

    Angel held out his arms. “Well, now is your chance. Take me out of this world if you truly want.”

    Spike leapt forward, wrenched the sword from Angel’s arm, grabbed him by the collar and dangled him over the edge of the roof. “It is not you I want to kill,” he said. “You may look like Angel, but you are an imposter.”

    “Am I?” Angel looked Spike straight in the eyes. “I am still the same man, Spike. Fangs or no fangs, I was the first man to touch both Drusilla and Buffy.”

    Through the corner of his eye, Angel could see Faith running towards them. Her arms flung themselves around Spike’s neck, pulling him and Angel both away from the edge. All three tumbled around, but Spike and Faith were quickly back on their feet. Angel watched them fight. It was like a blur. They fought like rabid dogs, only with the speed of hummingbirds. Every punch that connected only made the receiver fight back harder. Neither were weakened by pain. Rage is a powerful anaesthetic and an unequalled stimulant. The air between them was like a hurricane in which nothing could survive.

    Eventually, Spike dropped to his knees. Faith pounced upon him. Straddling his chest, she pommelled his face with her bleeding knuckles. Spike’s ever-young face became bruised, battered and swollen. Angel forced himself back on his feet. He looked for his sword, but could not find it. It must have fallen off the edge. When he looked back at Spike and Faith, he saw to his horror that they had switched places. Spike was now on top, and his hands gripped Faith’s throat, chocking the life from her. His bared fangs moved ever closer to her neck. Both were covered in each other’s blood.

    Angel ran towards them. He may not be as strong as Spike, but he was taller and heavier. He threw himself at him and, with the help of Faith, pushed Spike off the roof. The vampire fell screaming down three stories.

    Angel rolled onto his back. “You were amazing,” he gasped.

    “You were shit,” Faith responded.

    “The building is on fire.”

    “My knuckles were starting to hurt. Needed to speed things up.”

    ****

    Spike sat alone in the innermost corner of the pub. He was on his third, fourth or fifth double whiskey. It dulled the pain. There was a lot of pain in him that needed dulling. He was at the bottom now. At least that was comforting. It was time to dust himself off and get back into the saddle. … but what saddle? Which horse? He decided to leave his drink alone. The pain was good. He would need the pain.

    He heard the door at the other end of the pub open. A cold draft blew into his beaten bones. He heard the sound of sharp heels upon a floor otherwise only trodden by thick boots. It was her, coming to gloat gain.

    “Hello, Dru,” he groaned without looking at her.

    “Poor Spikey. Nobody sits with the man with the shotgun wound.”

    She leant down and tried to kiss him, but Spike drew away from her.

    “Did your friends come?” she asked. “Did you get to play?”

    “They came. We played.” Spike laughed. “We burned down your factory.”

    “Was your little girlfriend there?”

    Spike scowled at her. “You know she wasn’t,” he said accusingly. “You knew she would not come, didn’t you?”

    “Then would you not rather be on mommy’s team?” Drusilla rubbed her belly provocatively.

    “Not with this…” Spike punched his chest. “This tumour inside.”

    “Aaaaw!” Drusilla sat herself across Spike’s lap and swung a slender arm around his neck. “Spike’s not feeling good. He’s got an angry man and a scared little boy inside his head.”

    “Something like that,” Spike mumbled. “You have no idea, Dru, how good it felt at one point to have it in me. Now … now it feel like something alien … a sickness.”

    Drusilla looked into his eyes. “You must make the man and the little boy work together. Then you will feel whole again.”

    Spike looked at her strangely. “Why are you helping me?”

    She shushed at him. “That would be telling.” She took his glass and sipped it. “I have sent some friends to see the Slayer’s children. Once they are sucked dry, the Slayer will come for me … in full strength … and we will play … and the stars will watch in envy.”

    Spike pushed Drusilla off his lap and onto the floor. The other patrons turned and stared at them.

    “You filthy, monster,” Spike spat. “How did I ever love you? You’re rotten. Every part of you. To the core.”

    Drusilla licked her lips. She was sitting on the floor like a panther, ready to pounce. “Rotten? Noooooo! So full of strength. Spike is weak … confused.”

    Spike looked at her in horror. Then he laughed. “You’re jealous,” he said. “I have opened myself to experiences you are closed to. You are still hollow. If you let the light in, it would burn the last remains of your mind away. Do you think the little East End girl could forgive or even understand the things that you have done?”

    Drusilla began to laugh. At first Spike laughed along with her, but Drusilla did not stop. Her cackling just kept going. The other patrons looked at her and Spike in horror. Spike felt the blood in his veins freeze. Drusilla stood up, grabbed his wrists, pulled his arms to her sides and kissed him on the forehead.

    “Get on your bike, Spike,” she whispered in his ear. “Or you will have to deliver Buffy the dried out bones of her boys.”

    Spike pushed her away. Drusilla fell to the floor laughing. Even after he was out on the street, Spike could still hear her. The ringing sound of her cackling did not stop as he straddled his motorcycle.

    I’ll show her, he thought to himself. I’ll show them all!

    Then he remembered something Drusilla had said to him when he had been too drunk to listen. “She’s Achilles,” Dru had said, “but where is her Patroclus?” It started to dawn on him what Drusilla was doing. He hoped for her sake that she would not succeed, because Buffy would undoubtedly tear her to shreds.

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    Chapter 7 - The Coalition

    At the International Slayer Headquarters 22 years ago…

    “Xander, wake up!”

    Xander sat up. His back was sore. The matrass he had lain on was thin.

    “How long?”

    “What?”

    “How long,” Giles repeated. “Have you been living here?”

    “Just a few days.”

    “Were you kicked out?”

    Xander pulled on his shirt. “I ran out of money.”

    “... or were you kicked out, because your neighbours got tired by the noise and the smell coming from your apartment?” Giles took off his glasses and cleaned them furiously, perhaps finding it hard to look Xander in the eye. “If you ran out of money, perhaps you should have gotten a job.”

    “I have a job.”

    “Then get up and get to work.”

    “Says he who stops working each time Andrew puts the kettle on,” Xander muttered.

    Giles left. Xander got up and got dressed. Living inside his tiny office was difficult. At least now, he did not have to try to hide it anymore. He pushed his matrass underneath his desk. There was a knock on the still open door. Andrew stood tripping on the threshold.

    “Guess what?” he said, full of excitement.

    “Go to the bathroom and get me some aspirin,” Xander grumbled.

    “Willow is coming back!” Andrew was positively beaming.

    “How do you know?”

    “Last night, I was burning some candles for my bath,” Andrew said. “And the candles started speaking to me.” He sipped his juice box. “It was super cool, but kinda scary.”

    Xander frowned. “The candles told you Willow would be coming?”

    Andrew rolled his eyes, signalling that he thought Xander was being very stupid. “When you’re working with witches, you have to expect the unexpected.”

    “Do we have something she will eat?” Xander asked. “Something that is healthy, organic and fair trade and all that?”

    Andrew gave him two thumbs up. “Fridge is full.” He took a breath and his smile faltered a little. Xander realised he had something on his mind. “I had to borrow money from Tucker,” he said. “We have just enough money to make rent. Someone needs to get a job or we need to start stealing again. No one is getting any pocket money this month.”

    “I am not getting a job,” Xander scoffed. “I am too central to this operation. Giles should put in some work. He has been gone for two weeks. What the hell has he been up to?”

    “I will insist on a full debriefing at today’s meeting,” Andrew assured him. “I have asked Buffy to attend.”

    Andrew left. Xander did his best to make himself presentable. It would be great to see Willow again. How long had it been since her last visit? One month? Two? He could not remember. Having Giles back was more of a drag. He did little these days except complain. Seeing Buffy again could go either way. Xander hoped she would appreciate the work they were doing for the cause. What Buffy was up was a little unclear. She had been wounded some weeks ago. Had she spent all this time recuperating? That seemed unlikely.

    Xander stepped into the main office. Andrew and Giles were busy sorting through files. Xander noticed Andrew silently scowling at Giles behind his back. There were tea stains on some of Andrew’s printed reports.

    “How many have reported in this week?” Giles turned and asked.

    Xander rubbed his chin. He was too tired to be put on the spot like this.

    “Seven cells,” Andrew answered in his stead.

    Giles rubbed his temples. “What on earth is going on?” he asked rhetorically. “How many have you tried to contact?”

    “We sent emails to all of them,” Andrew continued. “That is, all that we know of. Then we tried calling Hong Kong, London, Frisco, Texas, Rio, Mehico, Lima, Transylvania, Lapland…”

    Giles held up a hand. “Andrew, did anyone answer?”

    “I got a report from a girl in Kingston and on in St. Petersburg.”

    “What did they say?”

    “That everything was fine,” Andrew said, before adding, “They may have mentioned that some of their slayers had return to civilian life. Didn’t know quite how many.”

    Giles sighed. “We’ve lost control,” he said. “How many slayers do we have registered?”

    Andrew turned to his computer screen. “5873 with full name,” he said. “10 231 based on the reports from each cell.”

    “And do we know how many of those are still active?” Giles asked. “Do we know how many are dead and how many have quit?”

    Xander coughed. “No,” he said, finally able to contribute. “We have no idea how many we are. All we know is that we used to be many more than 10 000. Now we are probably far less.”

    “This is a disaster,” Giles grumbled.

    “Hey,” Xander yelled. “Andrew and I are trying to manage a multinational vigilante task force all by ourselves. The local offices aren’t giving us any help. There are no local offices. Just phone numbers.”

    Giles frowned at him. “It seems like Andrew has been doing most of the work.”

    “Xander helps,” Andrew insisted.

    Xander threw up his hands. “I have to do field work, too.”

    “Come on! When did you last do any fieldwork?” Giles grumbled.

    Xander turned away and punched the wall with his fist. He had to bite his lip to hide the pain. “I could walk,” he said. “This job is giving me nothing. The superheroes are all out living it large, while we are stuck running an office with no money and no employees.”

    Giles scowled at him. “Things were still being done, before I left.”

    Xander felt himself giving in to all his frustrations. “Then maybe you should have …”

    They all stopped talking. A suitcase floated into the room. They turned to look and saw Willow standing in the doorway. Her arms were outstretched, waiting for hugs. Only Andrew leapt up to receive her embrace. Willow looked somewhat disappointed.

    “Why all the sour faces?” she asked.

    “We are falling apart, Will,” Xander said. “The slayers are all leaving us.”

    “Oh…” Willows smile faltered for a moment, but quickly returned. “Maybe that is a good thing. Maybe we have stretched ourselves a little thin.” She looked around. “Is Buffy here?”

    “I called her,” Andrew said. “She is coming in for a meeting.”

    Willow beamed. “A Scooby meeting? And the core four will be gathered? That’s great.”

    “Core five,” Andrew corrected her. “I was on the Hellmouth, remember?”

    These meetings were often so strangely awkward. They all spent so much time missing each other and dreaming of the old days, but the little time they spent together was never quite so pleasant as they expected. Andrew started tidying up the office. Giles went on the computer and read Andrew’s notes. Willow told Xander about her recent adventures. The tension dropped somewhat. Everybody were looking forward to seeing Buffy again. Willow talked about how she missed the old days. Xander could not help but agree.

    The morning passed and it became time for the Scooby meeting. Andrew cleared the table and prepared everybody’s snacks – a stack of sandwiches for the ever-fattening Xander, English blueberry scones for Giles, parsnip chips for Willow and cheese and crackers for the Slayer. Everybody gathered around. Willow had long ago decided that she was too cool for chairs, so she brought out a yoga matt from her suitcase, which she made to levitate. Everything was ready. Only Buffy was missing. Giles was glaring disapprovingly at Xander. Xander focused his attention on his watch. Willow was meditating upon her floating yoga matt. Andrew got up and started watering the plants. Time passed slowly.

    “Sorry I am late.”

    Everyone turned. Their smiles faded when they saw who it was. It was … Kennedy, and she was carrying Buffy’s scythe. Willow lost her concertation and tumbled off her yoga matt.

    “Wow!” Kennedy raised an eyebrow. “Surprised to see me, lover? I thought perhaps you would stop by my place first.”

    “You know me.” Willow pulled herself up to the edge of the table. “Business first.” She made a nervous laugh.

    Kennedy sighed. Her hand shook a little when she placed the scythe on the table. “Now that the Head Slayer is here, I guess we should get started. Ooooh! Cheese and crackers.”

    Andrew reached forward and tried to slap Kennedy’s wrist. “Those are for Buffy.”

    “Here!” Willow passed her bowl to Kennedy. “Have some parsnip chips.”

    Kennedy wrinkled her nose. “No, thank you.”

    Giles cleaned his glassed. Andrew fidgeted with his fingers. Xander stroked his stubble. Willow just stared at the scythe. Nobody wanted to ask the question.

    “Buffy is not coming,” Kennedy was forced to say.

    Willow looked up at her. “So, you’re the Head Slayer now. Huh! Neat!” She tried giving a supportive smile.

    “The Witch Queen and the Slayer. Ultimate power couple!”

    “Did she … did she say why?”

    Kennedy sighed. She looked down, then away, and then back at Willow. “Willow, can I talk to you in private?”

    Xander got up. “I’ll go feed the fish.” Giles followed him. “I need to unpack my books.” Andrew sauntered after. “Maybe there is some mail in the … post box.”

    Kennedy glared after them, before turning back to her girlfriend. “Willow, can I get a hug, at least?”

    Willow got up off the floor, went over to Kennedy and let herself fall into her arms.

    “I knew you’d be unhappy,” Kennedy said, stroking the back of Willow’s head.

    Willow sniffed. “I’ll get over it. I am happy to see you again.”

    “I hope so,” Kennedy said. “I let you spend an awful lot of time with your witchy friends. Don’t think I don’t know what happens during those séances … the sex rites and all that stuff.”

    “There are no sex rituals,” Willow said. “At least, not for me.” She made a wry smile. “Sex is not a ritual. It is expression.”

    They kissed.

    “Did you notice my new ring?” Kennedy asked, and held up her hand.

    “It’s beautiful … but…”

    “I have one that matches.”

    Kennedy held out her other hand. Another ring lay in her palm. Willow was about to reach for it, but stepped back once Kennedy dropped down on one knee.

    “Ken!?”

    “This is it, Will.” Kennedy’s eyes were welling up. “You get to decide the rest of my life. Do I get my princess?”

    Willow looked terrified. It felt like she was seeing Kennedy naked for the first time. No bluster. No jokes. Just raw vulnerability. It brought forth emotions she had not felt since … since Tara died.

    “Kennedy..?”

    Tears streamed uncontrollably down Willow’s cheek. She could see Kennedy’s eyes start to glisten, too.

    “What do you say, Will? Will you be my Scarlett? Do I get to sweep you off your feet and carry you across the threshold?”

    “We’re women, Ken. We cannot marry.”

    Kennedy laughed. “Don’t give me that crap, Will!” Tears were starting to emerge. “You are a pagan. Summon the Devil! Hold a Sabbath! Do whatever you want, just promise you’ll stay with me.” Willow saw her biting her lip hard. “My parents say they will buy us a little house in the country. We could grow our own food, keep animals…”

    “Animals…”

    “And … I was thinking … a child…”

    “Child?”

    Willow backed away and hit the wall. Kennedy looked at her. Willow had to struggle to look back.

    “Is that such a crazy idea to you?” Kennedy asked.

    “Yes! Once again, we are both women, Ken.”

    Kennedy shrugged in an unconvincing attempt to appear calm. “So what? We just need a cup and a syringe.”

    “Syringe!?” Willow felt all the blood drain from her face.

    “Am I springing all of this on you a little too quickly?”

    “You … you’ve been planning this a long time?”

    Kennedy reached forward and took Willow’s hand in her own. “I guess I have,” she said. “I want somewhere to come home to. I go out and fight like an animal. I need a place in my life that is safe.”

    Willow shook herself lose. “And you want me to provide that for you?” she snorted. “Be the pillow for you to rest your head on. You want me to sit at home and nurse your child while you go out fighting demons?”

    “Willow..?”

    “Do you want to take me away from the Wiccans? Hide me away in a house in the country … that your parents paid for!?

    “Willow, you misunderstand.” Kennedy got up on her feet. She tried to move closer to Willow, but Willow backed away from her. “The demons will soon all be gone. We need to start planning for the future … for a normal life … together.”

    Willow clenched her fist. She clenched them so hard that her nails dug into her palms. Then every window in the office shattered. The draft blew through her hair. “I don’t want normal,” she said.

    “Willow, you are acting crazy. Calm down.”

    “Crazy? Am I? This is all wrong. None of this was supposed to happen. Buffy is gone and you want to stick a syringe up my vagina. Xander and Giles are paper pushers … but spend more time drinking than working. Goddess, what is going on?”

    Giles came in. “Willow, did you explode the windows with your magic?”

    Willow pointed a finger at him. “Rupert, if you do not return to your desk this instant, I will throw you out the window with my magic.”

    Andrew came running. “This is a disaster. We cannot pay for new windows.”

    Willow threw her hands up. “I am out of here.”

    “Willow!” Kennedy called after her. “Where are you going?”

    “To see Buffy.”

    “She may not want to see you,” Giles warned. “Not in this state.”

    “Then I will huff and puff!”

    ****

    “They are here,” Willow said.

    Buffy rubbed her eyes. We are back in 2027. Buffy had been dreaming of the day when Willow had come banging on her door, asking her to explain why she was leaving the slayers. She often had that dream at moments of change in her life.

    “Who is here?” Buffy asked.

    Willow gave her a wry smile. “Are you always this disoriented? Angel and Faith are here.”

    They were at Andrew’s ranch. How Andrew had been able to buy his own ranch was a mystery. It was not the nicest place, though Andrew did his hardest to keep it cosy. There were enough room to house all of the “rangers”, the three ex-Scoobies and the mystery policeman.

    “I don’t want to meet them,” Buffy groaned.

    “There was a time when you would sneak out of your room and meet Angel in secret,” Willow reminded her.

    “That is exactly why I don’t want to see him now,” Buffy groaned.

    Willow sighed. “Have you not been listening? Angel represents your past. Past is good. Your past is the key to your slayer powers.”

    Buffy pulled the blanket over her face. “Then call Scott Hope … or even Parker.”

    Willow pulled the blanket away. “Scott Hope is not linked to your slayer identity. Now get your ass out of that rocking chair. You look like an old granny.”

    Buffy stood up slowly. Her body felt stiff all over.

    Willow raised an eyebrow. “Jeez, sister, do you even stretch?” she asked. “We need to get you into shape.”

    Buffy followed Willow into the living room. She exchanged some awkward glances and nods with Angel and Faith. All the chairs and seats were occupied, but Andrew got some of his “rangers” to move out of the way so Buffy and Willow could sit. Xander was talking to his maniac police friend.

    “I would like to welcome you all,” Andrew said, moving towards a giant whiteboard at the front of the room, “to the first Scooby Gang meeting in over 20 years.”

    Faith raised her hand. “Why are we called the Scooby gang?” she asked.

    Andrew looked at her. “Because that’s what we were called before.”

    “No, we weren’t,” Angel said. “We were Angel Investigations.”

    “All right,” Andrew said. “We can call ourselves the Scooby Gang and Angel Investigations.” He washed the whiteboard and wrote the new name down. “So, Angel and Faith are part of the Angel Investigations branch, while…”

    “Hold up!” Faith had her hand up again.

    “What?”

    “I am not part of Angel Investigations. I am Team Faith.”

    Angel looked at her. “Am I not paying you to be here?”

    Faith shrugged. “Not a lot. You’re not a rich man, and this looks like it could be long term. The only slayer present deserves her own team, doesn’t she?”

    Andrew buried his face in his hands. “All right,” he said eventually. “So we are Team Fa…”

    “Can I be on Faith’s team?” One of the “rangers” held up his hand.

    “Look at this.” Faith grinned. “I have a lackey.”

    Andrew cleared his throat. “As I was saying, we are now Team Faith, Angel Investigations and the Scooby Gang. Team Faith consists of Faith and … Kenneth. Angel Investigations is … Angel. Then there are the Scoobies: Buffy is Head Slayer. Willow is Mother Superior of the Wiccans, of which there are currently none. Xander is … something. And I am Head General.”

    “Head General?” Buffy said. “Andrew, when did you even become a Scooby?”

    “I was at the Hellmouth, remember?” Andrew looked distraught. “If I am not in the Scooby Gang, which team am I on?”

    “Buffy was just joking, Andrew,” Willow assured him. “You’re a Scooby.”

    “Andrew is not a Scooby,” Xander said. “He, I and Sheriff Pepper lead the Rangers.”

    Andrew beamed at Xander. “That is right,” he stammered. “We are the Ranger Team.”

    Buffy hid her face in her hands. “How long is this going to take?” she asked Willow rhetorically.

    Willow did not seem to hear her. She looked at Xander. “Xander,” she said. “Are you not gonna be on the Scooby Team?”

    “We could use a team of non-superhero foot soldiers,” Xander responded. “Who better to lead them?”

    The sound of a car coming up the driveway caught everyone’s attention. The engine was being revved. They looked out the window and saw a pink vintage beetle spin on the gravel as it made the final turn. The windows were mirror tinted. A woman stumbled out, holding a large umbrella in front of her, even though no rain fell from the heavy clouds. Her stilettoes sank into the ground as she walked. Large insectlike sunglasses with pink rims obscured her face. The wind blew her blonde crystallised locks around in a comical fashion.

    Angel gaped. “No … way.”

    Buffy squinted. “Who is it?”

    Willow looked amused. “I don’t believe it.”

    Xander buried his face in his hands. “I am starting to see that we celebrated our final victory somewhat prematurely.”

    The woman came inside and slammed the door behind her. Willow went to every window and closed the curtains. The woman removed her sunglasses. Buffy’s eyes widened as she finally recognised who it was.

    “Harmony?”

    Harmony blinked. “Buffy?” She tilted her head. “Wow! Joyce really was your mother.”

    Buffy frowned. “Andrew, is there a stake in your house?”

    Angel crossed his arms. “Harmony, did I not tell you to leave and never come back?”

    Harmony scowled at him. “Maybe, but I am here as a representative of your old bosses, dumbass!”

    Angel pointed a finger at her. “You can tell Wolfram and Hart that…”

    “Duh! Not those low-lives.” Harmony batted her eyelashes in disgust. “I am speaking, of course, about the Powers … you know … they that be. Be as in a continuing state.” She looked around the room for recognition, but found none. “I am Vision Girl!

    Angel fell backwards into a rocking chair, kindly provided by Andrew.

    “You don’t look too good, Angel,” Harmony said. “Perhaps someone should bring him some fresh blood. I am a little hungry myself, actually.” She looked around the room. “You all look rather tired, don’t you? Willow, did nobody warn you not to crease your forehead so much? Xander..? Xander … oh my God! … is that you?

    “Some of us spent the last three decades aging,” Buffy snorted. “Instead of drinking the blood of the living.”

    Harmony put her hands on her waist. “I gave up my life and my humanity saving the world from a snake monster,” she scoffed. “What have you ever sacrificed?”

    Buffy walked away, trying her best to contain her sardonic laughter.

    “Hello, Harmony,” Willow tried. “You look well.”

    “More than well,” Andrew exclaimed. “She is … radiant!

    Harmony smiled at him. “Well, thank you.” She held out her hand for him to kiss.

    “Too bad her tacky perfume ruins the overall impression,” Xander snorted.

    “Chanel!” Harmony kicked Xander in the back of his ankle, throwing him onto the floor. “Is not tacky!” Her fangs pushed themselves out at the sides of her mouth.

    “Harmony!” Angel ran up to them. “We need to remember that Harmony is an unsouled, chipless vampire with no impulse control.” He extended his hand to Xander and helped him up.

    Willow put her hand on her hip. “Oh, poor Angel. Have you developed a Riley-complex now that your super strength it gone?”

    “A Riley-complex?”

    “I told you that you would regret your decision,” Willow said. “Drusilla is back and you are just about was useful as Andrew.” She look apologetically over at Andrew. “At least Andrew is a great host.”

    Several minutes of arguing followed. Old grudges were vented. Buffy found herself missing her job. At least there, the noise was bearable. It was Harmony who eventually broke through the chaos.

    “Hello!?” she yelled. “Does nobody want to know what the Powers That Be wants?”

    Angel scoffed. “Hamony, there is no way the Powers are speaking to you! Lindsey was more convincing.”

    Harmony ignored him. “The Powers told me they have been cut off from humanity for a long time. Now they can speak to us again, because someone is bringing magic and demons back to the world.”

    “Who?” Angel asked, sounding unconvinced. “Drusilla?”

    “I think I know who,” Xander said. “It is obvious, isn’t it? It was Willow.

    Willow frowned at him. “Xander!”

    Buffy looked at Willow. “You admitted it. You told me you had been working to open the Hellmouths. You brought the vampires back.”

    Willow crossed her arms. “I am not liking the vibes in the room right now.”

    “Then perhaps you better come clean,” Buffy said.

    Willow sighed. “The Hellmouths need to stay open. They are our link to … everything. Without the Hellmouths, souls cannot pass onto the afterlife. Life will start to wither. You can all feel it in yourselves, can’t you? None of you are the same as you were before.”

    Buffy sighed. “We’re just older, Willow. It happens.”

    “It is more than that,” Willow insisted. “We were all pretty special. Now Xander is a drunk, you’ve lost your powers … Kennedy is straight.”

    Buffy rolled her eyes. “Willow, Kennedy left you two decades ago … and the closing of the Hellmouths did not make her straight.”

    Willow looked at her with sad eyes. “You may laugh it off, but you know am I right. Everything that made life special has been slowly seeping away. People have become boring. Who knows what would have happened if the Hellmouths had closed completely.”

    “At least we would not be eaten by vampires,” Xander said. “Could it be, Willow, that you have been working on opening the Hellmouths, because you are afraid of losing your powers. You’re afraid to become normal, like the rest of us.”

    Buffy put a hand on Willow’s shoulder. “Willow, if Drusilla turns out to be more than we can handle, we may have to consider closing the Hellmouths again.”

    “Let’s make one thing clear,” Willow said. “I did not open the Hellmouths by myself. There are others who does not want to see the world end. Much of the work was done by Satanists and Warlocks funded by Nestlé.” She made a wry smile. “Desperation leads to strange bedfellows.”

    “The Powers That Be agree with Willow,” Harmony shot in. “They want the Hellmouths kept open.”

    “Well, that is a relief,” Angel snorted.

    Just then, the room fell dark. The power had been cut. Buffy heard the rangers grabbing their guns. Willow mumbled some words, and an orb of light appeared before her.

    “I’ll go check the fusebox,” Andrew said.

    “Stay here,” Willow ordered. “We are under attack.”
     
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  16. Fool for Buffy

    Fool for Buffy "I wanna see how it ends"

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    Sineya
    Don't leave me with that cliffhanger for too long;)

    You should know that I am very happy with Spike's storyline, and that's always what's most important.
    Of course Harmony showed up. Definitely true to the character. That was bound to happen. But a nice twist with the powers element.
    I like the possibility of Willow being at fault. She was always gonna be the one who could not let go. Interesting to see how much is actually because of her and how she might redeem herself for it.
    Faith was entertaining as always, and I'm glad she still kicks ass.
    Props for more great writing! Things are starting to build up to big picture and I can already tell there is plenty of excitement ahead!
     
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  17. flow

    flow Male Vampires are stupid. Throw rocks at them

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    The fight between faith and spike was awesome. And "disarming spell ? This isn't Harry Potter " made me laugh out loud .

    Flow
     
    WillowFromBuffy: Thank you :)
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  18. WillowFromBuffy

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

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    Thank you so much all your comments @Fool for Buffy
    If you're talking about the attack on Andrew's ranch, then you will have to wait. The next two chapter will not feature Buffy and Willow.
    Good to know the Spike-fans are happy so far.
    Willow wants a world in which there is magic, and she believes a world without magic will wither and die. There is also the fear that she wouldn't be able to join Tara in the afterlife if the connection between our dimension and the beyond is broken. Of course, magic comes with a price, such as vampires and other demons. Not everyone will agree that having the Hellmouths ajar is a good thing.

    I'm borrowing a little from the comics her ;)
     
    Fool for Buffy: Well if the next chapter is Spike I guess I'll deal with the cliffhanger :)
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  19. Priceless

    Priceless I am now

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    This Spike fan is happy :) Loved him in every scene. Angel is losing points rapidly with his 'I'm still the first man to touch Dru and Buffy' bs. Harmony is so good as Vision Girl, perfect job for her. Willow and Kennedy :eek: If things had gone differently Willow would be married with a kid. Looking forward to the next chapter
     
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  20. WillowFromBuffy

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

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    So glad you enjoy Spike. The next chapter is a Spike chapter, and I think it is going to be good. I need to start planing on how I can make Angel a little more likeable in the future :p However, there is little chance of him and Spike becoming friends in this. Glad you enjoyed Harmony. I will soon reveal how she got her new job, but that may or may not already be obvious. I had a lot of fun writing the scene between Willow and Kennedy. This story is partly an allegory about growing up - how some people move on and others don't.
     
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