The pavement was shattering under
my feet—burning, and quaking. But the rumble of the ground could not compare
to the sky. The clouds battled, smothering each other and striking bright red
lightning across the violent heavens.
A hoard of Bringer-bodies piled
around me, their black cloaks torn and stained as they slipped into the cracks
in the ground. A high scream sounded in the distance, and I closed my eyes as
all fell silent.
My body was shaking. I sat up on
the sofa. Xander’s wide eyes relaxed. I caught my breath, and settled back
down. “I’m okay.”
“God, Buff,” he sat down next to
me. “When I heard you screaming like that, I thought,” he looked away, “I
thought maybe he was…”
Oh, Spike. Of course you would
think that, Xander. The sun crept through the open door, warming the cold
sweat on my face. If Xander heard me scream, I bet Spike…
He was pulling himself up the
stairs. His feet dragged behind him, and his head fell after I stepped through
the basement door. I pulled him up, and he groaned once his feet were under
him, leaning heavy against me. He braced himself against the banister as I
walked him down the three steps. Once at the bottom, his arms fell limp to his
sides and strained to hold him up as nearly all strength left him.
“I thought something…I had to try…”
I didn’t answer, taking it slow
across the floor before setting him back on the bed. He had just started to
raise his arms as I backed away from him. They dropped into his lap.
“The ankle’s out.” He stared at
it. “I figured it’d be alright, but…”
“You made it worse.” I knelt to check on it.
“Couldn’t stand it…you carryin‘ on
like that—screamin‘ like that.” He fell back onto the bed. “I’d never heard
you…like that. What happened?”
“Me…resting.” He shook when I
touched his ankle. “And you wanted me to wrap chains around this?”
He winced as I lifted it onto the
blanket. “I wanted…” he closed his eyes, then slightly opened them, “Don’t
fret yourself about what I want, love. Got bigger things to fret ’bout.”
I was at the sink now, washing him
off me, scrubbing soap up my arms. The clearing of my skin felt smooth and
relaxing...And all the slay-girls are out of the house.
“I’ll be back.”
He gave no answer, asleep. I crept
up the stairs.
“How is he?” Xander was leaning
against the fridge.
“Xander, let’s talk about this
after I…” I nodded my head upstairs.
“Oh, sure.” He sniffed. “I’ll just
be down here…well, unless you, uh…need any help?”
“I’ll manage.” I smiled. He looked
like old Sunnydale-High Xander—all playful with the big goofy grin-like. Felt
good to see him like that again.
I took my time. The hot water
relaxed all my sick and tired muscles. I intended to relax completely, so I
forced myself not to think about stuff. Didn’t last nearly as long as the
Hot water stung inside the cut on
my cheek. That was gonna scar, Slayer-heal or no. Just what I need, a big
nasty scar across my face. Real come-and-get-me look I’ve got going on lately.
But, as I scrubbed my shoulders, I
pictured all the marks on Spike. There would be so many scars after he had
healed. I felt my body tensing up, and I dipped my head under the water. I
ran my fingers through my hair, and the thoughts rolled off with the warm
“Any talk of more slayer-wannabes?”
“Nah,” I told Xander. “We’re probably getting
close to the last of’em.”
“’Cause I was thinking, you know, they’re not
really…fighty.” He put his feet up on the table. “I mean, I don’t think I
could take’em, but they definitely need some work.”
“Some real work.” I agreed. “Think I should make’em
patrol with me tonight?”
“I dunno, Buff. We don’t know how many of those
Trekkies are roaming the streets.”
Xander’s hands flew into the air, “What? What’d Giles call that
“Turok-something.” I answered.
“Turok, Trekkie…” Xander’s spoke quieter, “Same
“And that attitude is why Giles is doing
research without you.”
“Oh, yes. I still can’t believe he went to the
big library full of dusty, fat, and boring books without me!” Xander looked
around the empty house, “And, speaking of Trekkies, where’s Andrew? And, you
I looked out the window. The sun was going down
and Dawn was still out with the slayers-to-be. “I gave’em the day off. Guess
Andrew went with them.”
“Kid makes me all kinds of nervous,” Xander
wiggled his shoulders. “I mean, Jonathan…he…”
“He killed him.”
“They were best friends, Buff. If this thing’s
powerful enough to turn best friends on each other…”
“I’ll stop it.”
Xander’s face lifted, and his mouth turned up
into a smile. “I’m with you, Buff. No matter…I mean, even if…even if Spike…”
I smiled. This was so hard for him to say.
He clapped his hands together. “Spike and me,
we’ve fought side-by-side before…and, we can do it again.”
His words came as a sudden relief to me. It
felt good to have friends behind me again. I could see how he got to Willow
that day. “Thank you.”
He patted my knee and smiled. “Plus, you know,
I’m kinda likin‘ the whole save-the-world persona. Chicks really dig it.”
“We do.” I hugged him.
They devoured the pizzas. Giles had just placed
them on the table seconds ago, and boxes were already opened and emptied. I
picked a mysterious-looking mushroom off my slice before taking a big bite.
“So, any luck with the books?” I watched Giles
remove his glasses. Probably didn’t want to watch me chew my food. I
swallowed the pizza. “Sorry.”
“Yes, that’s quite alright.” He wiped them clean
and replaced them. “I found…something. Although, I’m not quite sure it’s
going to be of…of use to us.”
“So what do we got? Stuff on the markings?”
“Well, yes, I found them…Buffy, I was really
focusing more on you.”
“On me? Why?” I sat down, blocking out the
chatter and laughter from the living room. “What did I do?”
“Well, we’re not sure if it is you, Buffy. I
just want to go over all areas.” He could see my discomfort, and lifted his
tone. “And, Spike? How is he?”
I sighed. “He twisted his ankle up pretty bad
when I…Oh, God. The dreams. I forgot all about them! Giles, I’ve been having
He sat down next to me, intrigued, no doubt.
“They’re…vivid. More real than the others. And
it’s like I’m not even really there…like I’m just watching it all happen, and
there’s nothing I can do. Places are burning and…”
I clamped my mouth shut as Dawn bounded into the
kitchen. She grabbed a box off the table and skipped back out.
“And I heard a girl scream.”
“Dawn?” he asked.
“I’m not sure. I—I don’t know.”
“Well, it’s quite obvious that it’s an apocolypse
you’re foreseeing, Buffy. Quite natural, seeing as we are flying head-on into
I shook my head. “They’re different.” After a
moment of silence, I tossed the crust into the trash and stood. “I’m off to
“Can I come?” a girl’s voice asked.
“God, this is great!” Kennedy sniffed the night
air in. “I’ve never gone out hunting before!”
“Patrolling.” I corrected her. She glanced at
me. “We aren’t doing this for sport—it’s our job.”
She nodded, clenching her hands tighter on the
crossbow. “Sure is a big cemetery.”
I smiled. “Yeah. That happens at the Hellmouth.”
“I’ve only been in a cemetery once…” her voice
grew softer. “For my mom’s funeral.”
My heart ached, and my stomach started to
churn. Mom. So quickly her image came up in my head. I nodded to Kennedy.
She stopped before a tombstone.
“I mean, I was younger then…” she traced the
letters in the stone. “And she—my new mom—she’s great. My step-sister’s
great, too…” her arms dropped. “Really great.”
“Do you miss them?”
She turned to me. “I miss a lot of things. But
this is my job.”
We started walking again. “You know, I was the
first Slayer who actually had friends? And family? They—the Council—they were
bigtime against it. But they didn’t know. They don’t know. What it is…to be
I felt her eyes on me again, but she was silent
as I spoke.
“But you do.” I looked at her. “You feel it. Inside
you. The good…and the bad. You know it. Because it is who you are.”
A chill ran down my spine and I froze. Kennedy
stopped as well.
“Did you feel it?” I whispered to her.
“Close your eyes. Feel it out. Find it.” I
smiled, “It’s more fun this way.”
Her eyes were closed, and her face crinkled.
She took deep breaths and began to take slow steps.
I stayed put. “Quietly. Slowly. Don’t forget,
they have power too.”
She raised the bow, creeping around the
tombstones. I knew exactly where he was. I gripped my stake and crossed my
She stopped, and quickly turned around. Her
wide eyes looked past me. I smiled.
“Buffy! He’s behind you!”
The vamp grabbed my shoulders and pulled back.
I whipped him over my head with ease. He slammed on his back at my feet. I
looked back at Kennedy, “Now, he’s not.”
I pinned him down. He struggled, growling and ew,
stinking. Kennedy came up alongside me.
“I’m gonna let him up. Get ready.” I handed her
She dropped the crossbow and got into fighting
stance. I rolled off the vamp. He jumped up, quickly knocking the stake from
her hand. She blocked a punch and swung, but he grabbed her fist and twisted
“That one’s easy!” I yelled, “Just flip it
back around on him!”
She looked back at me. The vamp moved her arm
against her back and brought his teeth towards her neck. She struggled and whimpered.
For a second I looked in her eyes and thought she was too scared, but I knew
what that kind of fear would build up inside her.
Kennedy closed her eyes and thrust him off her,
grunting as she pushed him to the ground. She sat on his back, yanking his
hand to the back of his neck.
“Grab the stake. You can hit the heart through
The vamp cried out as she leaned forward. She
placed the point square into his back and shoved. He crumbled beneath her.
She scooped up some of the dust and blew it into the cold air. She did good. Big
smudge across her cheek. She looked stronger.
“Not bad.” I helped her up. “How’d it feel?”
Kennedy twirled the stake. “Not bad.”
I picked up the crossbow, aimed, and fired at
the vamp behind her. Dust poofed around her back. She looked over her
shoulder, then back at me.
“Why didn’t I feel that one?” she coughed.
“Because you weren’t alert. You weren’t
ready.” I started to walk again. “It’s okay. It happens. Just don’t let it
happen enough. Because one night…” I stopped and faced her. “One night, when
you alone are the Slayer…I won’t be here.”
Continued in Part 3