The Rainmakers

Author: Katar Hol <silveragent99[at]>

Summary: Buffy leaves for England and the rebuilt Watchers Council, Xander and Dawn have a HUGE argument, find an alien, many secrets are overheard, the FE's real plan is revealed. Some things about Aliens are revealed. There is a huge battle in Downtown Chicago.

Rating: PG 13. Adult language. Action.

Type: Mystery/Action

Ships: Willow/Kennedy. Xander-Dawn FRIENDSHIP ONLY.

Author's Notes (optional): This is a standard fanfic format story. For easier reading. There is no sex in this story, and Xander does not and never will have a relationship with 17 year old Dawn. Twenty three year old Xander and THIRTY THREE year old Dawn (ten years OLDER than Xander) is a different matter however. Also I stole directly and without apology a premise for Xander's unique attributes from fanfic writer Scaryfairy aka vblackheart. But it's good to steal from the best. So I did. I stole Dawn's attributes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I hope you like the story.

Disclaimer: All characters herein belong to Mutant Enemy and Joss Whedon. This sample story is for amusement purposes only.

Latest addition

Chapter 1

Buffy is sitting with Willow and Kennedy around a long, rectangular table. Opposite her are Giles, Faith, Robin Wood, Rona, Vi, and a few other girls who are now slayers. Rona and Vi are openly giggling.

"OK Buffy, tell me exactly WHY Dawn tasered you again? Faith asks.

Buffy has a pained look on her face while Giles glowers at her, and Willow looks embarrassed. Kennedy is staring off into space hoping this meeting can end soon and she can shower after the long flight over from Chicago to Heathrow. Rona and Vi are openly laughing, while Robin is almost (but not quite) secretly pleased. The other girls are puzzled. They only know of Buffy by reputation (and the gossip much of it unflattering) from Rona and Vi.

"Well, she really didn't take the news well ... " Buffy begins.


It's already late morning at Xander's apartment, and the sun is casting shadows on an empty bottle of tequila and two shot glasses on the dining room table. Xander is sprawled on one end of the couch, wrapped around a pillow. Dawn's on top of him, using his arm as a pillow. She's drooled in her sleep, and Xander's shirt is wet with it. The buzzer sounds. Dawn forces her eyelids open despite their combined weight of over ten tons.


"hmmmph" Xander replies.

The buzzer sounds again, this time more insistently.

Dawn starts jabbing Xander in the ribs. "Answer the fucking door!" She jabs him again in the ribs, this time harder. This effort cost her. "Hurts. To. Talk. Answer. Door." Dawn has the mother of all hangovers.

With the final jab Xander's fallen off the couch. It takes him a few moments to figure where he is. He looks at Dawn. Looks at his shirt covered in her drool. Looks at Dawn again. FINALLY he realizes "Dawn drooled on me. ICK." Xander is not functioning very well. It's not the worst hangover he's ever had.

However, it's definitely in the top ten. He crawls on the floor for a moment before he's able to stand (not very steadily) upright and make his way to the door. He opens it.

He knows this woman. And the other two beside her. "Buffy!" (that's right, it's Buffy). "Wills, Ken." He pauses for a moment. "Why are you here?"

Buffy wrinkles her nose as she comes into Xander's apartment without any further ado. "Xander you stink. And I DON'T mean that in a good way." Her eyes widen as she spots the empty tequila bottle and the two shot glasses.

"Xander! Did you get my sister drunk?"

"Buffy!" Dawn exclaims (painfully). There's a soft THUD as she rolls off the couch and onto the floor. She's turning green (and purple).

"Xander! Trashcan. Trashcan" she moans softly.

Xander moves with speed not seen since Willow chased him with an Axe in High School. The carpet is almost new and his cleaning deposit is hefty. He slides the trash can under Dawn's head and holds her head up for her just in time for Dawn to vomit noisily (and repeatedly) into the trashcan.

"Feel better?"


"I warned you."

"I know."

Buffy's building up steam. Dawn and Xander eye her warily. They both pray she won't shout.

"Xander!" They both wince. That voice HURTS. "You got my sister DRUNK! What the hell were you thinking. No make that have you EVER had any idea ..."

Dawn holds up her hand as Buffy's winding up. "Buffy, we had a wake."

Buffy's suspicious. "A wake? For .."

Xander interrupts "For Joyce. For Tara. For Anya. For Ricky. For all of them." Dawn nods her head in assent, finds the effort taxing and sits down at the table and pushes the empty bottle and shotglasses away without looking at them. Buffy's mollified but puzzled, and Willow's eyes soften at Tara's mention, while Kennedy's harden.

"Who's Ricky?"

"A friend of ours" says Xander softly. "He died saving us" adds Dawn.

"Saving you from WHAT exactly?"

"What do you think Buffy" asks Dawn steely eyed. "What is it always with us?"

Buffy doesn't catch the glance that Xander throws Dawn, but both Willow and Kennedy do.


"We never had anything for Anya" adds Dawn, and pats Xander's hand seeing how sad his face is at that statement.

"I know. I'm so sorry Xan. With all the excitement, we just forgot" Buffy tells him. "We never had anything for Spike either."

"Can we talk about Spike like ..." "Never" Xander completes Dawn's sentence.

Buffy sees the two's grim faces, and shrugs her shoulders. "OK."

Willow and Kennedy eye each other at this exchange. Spike's still a sore subject, possibly even more so with BOTH Xander and Dawn. Willow raises an eyebrow. Kennedy hangs back while Willow hugs Xander (gingerly) and Dawn. Who are still both bleary eyed and hung over.

"Thanks for that guys" Willow says.

"No probs" is Dawn's reply.

"How was the wake?"

"We cried a lot Buffy" answers Xander.

"But Xander said ..." says Dawn.

"Joyce and Tara are still here, every time I look at Dawn, or you Buffy" Xander finishes for Dawn.

Buffy gets a bit moist eyed at that, but adds "You still shouldn't be feeding booze to my kid sister."

"Geez Buffy. At least I did MY drinking indoors, and with Xander" Dawn responds. "Besides, I don't think I'm EVER drinking Tequila again."

"That would be good Dawn. Otherwise I'd ground you for a year. Make that two" Buffy tells her, eliciting a snort from Dawn.

"At any rate, I have great news!"


"Dawn, I talked to Giles yesterday. We're moving to England. You're going to be a watcher. Isn't that great?"

There's a dead, dull silence as Dawn eyes Buffy sullenly and Xander's suspicions are raised.

Dawn's hangover is now gone. Replaced by a white hot throbbing fury. "Did you even THINK to ask Buffy" she hisses as Xander winces in pain from the tone "to see if I WANTED to be a watcher?"

"But Dawn, you're always on the Junior Watcher detail. You love that stuff."

"No Buffy. I hoped that if I was useful to you that you MIGHT once in a while pay attention to me. I know. Stupid. But if nothing else I could maybe find something that could keep you alive."

Buffy's crossing her arms and rolling her eyes at Dawn, who's only more infuriated by this. "Dawn, be reasonable. What else are you going to do? And besides you are a natural for it. I'm sorry I couldn't spend more time with you, but it was War. Now we can ..."

"What Buffy? Dictate my life for me? Make all my choices for me? In what universe would I EVER want to be a watcher? I mean really?"

"What are you going to do Dawn, sit around make goo goo eyes at Xander all day?"

Xander is NOT happy with that comment and starts to say something, but Buffy cuts him short "Xan, you know I didn't mean it like THAT." Turning to Dawn she adds "But what are you going to do Dawn? Mooch off Xander your whole life? He can barely keep himself afloat. He works in a junkyard for crying out loud!"

Xander says quietly "I used to make good money in construction. Back when I was a carpenter. And had two eyes. Before I lost one in someone else's war."

"I know that. But you CAN'T take of Dawn Xan. That's my job. And you're going to be a Watcher Dawn. That's final. Besides, Giles says he can maybe get you into Oxford."

"Buffy no way in hell am I EVER becoming a Watcher. The last thing in the world I want to do is devote my entire life to some snot nosed girl with powers, who can tell me," Dawn adds shouting the last few words in a very angry voice "that I've taught her all she needs to know as she slams the door in my face for some vampire!"

The two sisters square off. Dawn's angry, but seems strange. The anger is real, but the intensity isn't. Buffy doesn't notice it but the others DO. Xander shrugs his shoulders to Willow's raised eyebrow and Kennedy's searching look.

Dawn gives Buffy a tough look with open eyes and a dangerously low voice. "Did you think I didn't hear that? What you said to him? And the way you treat him? You're surprised he left?"

"Giles left cause he abandoned us, just like Dad!" Buffy yells at Dawn, clearly stung.

"He left cause you pushed him away Buffy, you always chose your vampires over him. Big surprise he left."

"Spike was the ONLY ONE who got my back Dawn."

"I thought that was me." Dawn's hurt by this. So is Xander. Willow and Kennedy catch the hurt look on their faces.

"Dawn, you're just a kid. And this discussion is over. You're coming to England with me. As long as you're underage, you'll do what I say. Get your things."

There's an awkward pause, and Xander asks "what about me Buffy?"

Buffy switches gears and tells Xander gently "Xan, Giles didn't think it would be a good idea for you to be there. I mean, research? Not the Xan man specialty. Besides ..."

"I've got my junkyard" Xander answers with false cheer. Even Kennedy can hear the sadness in his voice. Buffy smiles at this. "Exactly. Maybe we can come and visit you sometime."

Dawn's gone into the bedroom, she's carrying her purse. And she's got a strange calm look on her face. Xander's seen this look before. Hurricane Dawn has arrived. She nods to Kennedy, who nods back.

"So Xander's not coming with us?"

"No Dawn, he's not. He belongs here."


"Dawn, when you're older you'll understand."

"Funny thing about that Buffy. Being older."


"When you destroyed our house and the rest of Sunnydale, and everything we owned ..."

"Dawn it was WAR. We had no choice. Besides I had no idea what that amulet would do."

"You mean you had no idea it would destroy the one thing we had left from Mom? Destroy Mom's grave? Tara's? Leave me with just the clothes on my back and not even a Picture of MOM! Or of Tara!" Dawn shouts at Buffy.

"Angel brought it to me. I trusted him."

"Funny, I don't. Not since he murdered ..."

"Jenny Calendar" Xander adds with snark.

"Xander, it's time you stopped this ridiculous jealousy of my boyfriends"

"Yeah, who'd ever think they'd sleep with my fiancee?"

"Your fault Xander. Maybe if you'd been a man like Spike and not left Anya at the altar ... "

Dawn's furious. "Did you just call Spike a man?" Her eyes are wide open "I mean seriously?"

"Get to the point Dawnie."

"Point is Buffy when you and your latest vamp boyfriend destroyed Sunnydale, you wiped out all the records. And when LA got trashed by Angel's buddies, a lot of records got trashed too. Like my birth certificate."


Dawn reaches into her purse and tosses a driver's license to Buffy.

"Read my new Driver's license. I'm 18."

"Dawn, you're 17. I know that."

"State of Illinois says different."

"I can make you come with me. I'm stronger."

"Buffy?" Dawn asks her sister. "Do you know what ..." as she pulls out a taser gun from her purse and zaps Buffy with it " ... a taser gun is?"

Buffy's zapped with the taser gun, thin wires coming from the gun. For a moment she's frozen, then she's really pissed off and moves as Dawn shocks her again and again to no avail.

"I know they don't do squat on the slayer. And that you're getting a spanking!" With that she advances on Dawn and grabs her arm.

Kennedy is behind Buffy. She suddenly turns and spin kicks Buffy in the back of the head. "You're not the only slayer now Buffy" she says as Buffy hits the floor.

"Well, scratch tazers on Buffy" Dawn makes a joke to Xander. "Hey thanks Kennedy for the backup."

"Guess we are even now Dawn?"

"Pretty much."

"Great. And anyway," Kennedy adds, "I enjoyed doing it. I was afraid she'd give one of her 'inspiring' speeches again."

Willow's not happy with that. "Hey! I mean Buffy's just got ..."

"Problems" adds Xander. "I wish you were staying Wills. You too Kennedy. You're sure you can't ..."

"Can't" says Kennedy. "We can't inflict Buffy on Giles and the others without some sanity there. Besides, I've always wanted to see England."

As Kennedy prepares a fireman's hoist on the unconscious Buffy, Willow adds "You two better go somewhere for a while. She'll calm down on the plane and you can call when we get to Giles place.

Xander's asking Dawn "You planned this?"

"Yeah." Dawn's shrugging her shoulders. "You'll tell Buffy that University of Chicago is a good school?"

"Sure" Willow says. "No more High School for you Dawnie?"

"Will, I spent two years in Hell. Why would I want more? And thanks, for the hacking tips."

"Hey, wish I'd thought of it to get phony SATs."

"At least the High School is gone."

"There's always that."


"Impressive" says Faith, as the other girls are laughing. Looking at Kennedy she asks "Was it good for you?"

"Hey!" says Buffy, "sitting right here."

"It was good" says Kennedy, "but I did it mostly cause I was kinda mean to Dawn ... and Xander."

"We said some stuff and they overheard it" adds Willow. "We didn't mean anything by it, we were just goofing around."

"But they got real mad."

Willow looks over at Buffy "Buffy, that's why we did what Dawn asked. She's gonna call real soon." Willow gestures to the speakerphone in the center of the table. "Everything's going to be OK."

"I just wonder" Vi is smirking.

"Oh not THAT again" Rona's annoyed.

"What?" asks Faith.

"The BET" answers Kennedy.

"Bet?" Robin asks.

Vi and Rona are giggling. So are some of the other girls.

"We had a bet" Kennedy starts to explain.

"Among the potentials" Rona adds.

"About ... " Faith prompts.

"About who would nail Xander." Vi says.

At that the girls all start laughing and laughing. Giles cleans his glasses furiously, Robin looks appalled, and Faith is actually blushing.

"What?" Buffy's not amused.

"Hey, we had bets on a lot of stuff" Rona tells her.

"Like, how long your speeches would last" Vi says.

"Or, how many times you'd visit Spike in the basement each day" Kennedy says.

"So," Buffy asks trying to regain her composure ... "what was the line?"

"Well, some losers took you Buffy" Kennedy tells her.

"Don't look at me" Rona says, "I took HER" pointing to Faith.

"I'm going to win, I'm going to win" Vi does a mini happy dance in her chair.

"Don't rub it in" Rona tells her.

"Yeah you picked the longshot" says Kennedy.

"I'm afraid to ask" says Robin.

"Didn't anyone pick Anya?" Buffy asks.

"Anya?" Vi says. "I think she slept with everyon ... I mean no she was off limits. No point in betting." Vi's looking carefully away from Giles who's polishing his glasses even more.

"Sure thing" says Rona.

"So who do you got?" Buffy asks Vi point blank.

"Oh Xander, let me be your little jailbait nurse" Vi says in a fake breathy tone and batting her eyes at Buffy. As the other girls erupt in laughter while Willow gives a hard stare at Kennedy, not amused, and Robin is just ticked off.

"You picked DAWN? My teenage sister?"

"Geez Buffy even I figured out she's got the hots for him" Faith drawls from across the room.

"Yeah you should have seen the way she and Anya fought over him ... " Vi trails off nervously looking at Giles briefly.

"Don't worry Buffy" Rona tells her, "I doubt Xander even knows she has breasts."

"He won't notice her B until she's twenty. But after that, look out."

"He'll be your brother in law Buffy" Vi's teasing her. Buffy's got close to the "face" she had when watching the training videos at the DoubleMeat Palace. "Dawn's not having sex, EVER." she declares.

Willow's had enough of the girls yanking Buffy's chain. "Buffy, they're just pushing your buttons. Dawn just wants some attention. You KNOW Xander doesn't think of Dawn that way."

"He better not, if he knows what's good for him."

The phone rings.

"Hi. Giles?" Dawn's voice comes from the speakerphone.

"Hello Dawn" Giles says.

"You're on Speakerphone Dawn" Willow hastily adds.

"We're all here."

"Who's that?"

"Well," says Giles, "There's Buffy of course, Willow, Kennedy, and Vi, Rona, Faith, Robin, plus of course a few others who are new."

"Dawn " Buffy starts to say.

"Are you OK Buffy?" Dawn's voice sounds very small and tiny.

"Yes Dawn. I'm OK. Why wouldn't you talk to me? Instead of ..."

"Cause you wouldn't listen Buffy."

There's an awkward silence.

"I have all my classes now at UC Buffy. And a part time job, doing uh some research."

"Research?" Giles is interested.

"Yeah, it's ah ... government sponsored. Into UFO's and things."

"Oh, I thought it was ..."

"No Giles. I'm sorry. Thanks for the offer. But I don't think I'm cut out to be a Watcher. I'm thinking Economics."

"University of Chicago is famous for it's School of Economics." Robin adds. "They have a couple of Nobel Prize winners."

"Yeah hey hi Mr. Wood."

"Call me Robin."

"Thanks for the letter. It helped. I even got a partial scholarship."

"You gave her a letter?" Buffy asks Robin.

"She asked me to." Robin replies serenely.

"See Buffy? I'm going to be OK. I'm staying with Xander, and I'll make sure he doesn't mope too much." This comment elicits some giggling from the girls, and Dawn asks "Is there static on the line?"

"No Dawn, that's just Vi and Rona," Willow glares at the two across the table. "They're just being goofs."

"I'll call you later OK? This is costing a fortune."

"OK Dawn. I love you. Talk to you later today."


Willow's looking at the rest of the group. "Shhhh" she tells them. "I hacked their phone line. We can hear them but they can't hear us."

Faith is impressed, and so is Robin. "You can do that?" Faith asks.

"And more importantly, why?" Robin wants to know.

"Geez Dawn, I hate lying like that to them" Xander's voice comes through the speakerphone.

"About what we're doing? Together? Why I'm living with you?" Dawn asks.

"They'd understand Dawn " Xander starts to say ...

While Buffy has the "face" she had at the Doublemeat Palace, Vi is dancing up down in her chair saying "I win I win I win" when Dawn's voice comes over the speaker ...

"OK Xander, say we tell them. That hey ... guess what?"

"The First Evil won."

"And all our friends, they're dead for ..."

"Nothing" Xander adds bitterly.

"Yeah Xander that will go over well with Buffy."

"But do we KNOW that Pancho Villa told us the truth?"

"Xander, why again did the Earth pick me? To be the Protector of the planet, Defender of the Earth, the ..."

"Alien Fighter?"

"That too but that's not important. Stay focused. WHY?"

"Cause you're the key. And your power is ... "

"Being smart Xander. Observing things. Figuring things out. AND knowing Buffy and Willow. I knew long before I ever met Pancho Villa we'd lost. I just didn't want to tell you." Her voice is full of compassion. "I knew it would hurt you."

"How?" Xander's voice cracks.

"Xander, the First Evil ... it did stuff that made no sense. It had chance after chance to kill Buffy, Willow, and Spike. And it never did. It made SURE they were alive. Over and over again."

"Maybe it was just stupid."

"Nothing is that stupid Xander. The First, it WANTED what it got. Sunnydale destroyed. All the potentials, millions of them, now slayers."

"So like Pancho said, now everyone KNOWS."

"Yeah, along with LA, which WAS connected, people know Xander."

"It's all real."

"Vampires, werewolves, demons. They know."

"Chicago is offering bounties on Werewolves."

"And ... and there's even talk of making Witchcraft illegal. Putting Wiccans into prison camps. People are scared."

"But Dawn, why all the slayers? Why did the First ..."

"Want all the potentials activated? At once? You know Xander. You just don't WANT to know."

"What's THAT supposed to mean Dawn?"

"Xander, when we were trapped in that UFO underwater, how did you KNOW to get us out of there?"

"I just guessed at what buttons to push Dawn."

"And out of what, millions of combinations you managed to work an alien teleporter?"

"Hey I'm just lucky."

"No one is that lucky Xander."

"Are you saying I'm magic?"

"Alien spacecraft Xander? Aliens cancel out magic remember? Which reminds me since I'm not a glowing ball of energy I must be a real girl now."

"You're always real to me Dawn. You know that."

"I don't exist Xander. Not really. I wasn't born. Just made. By a bunch of monks so Buffy would ... never mind. You know what you are Xander. You've always known."

"Yeah. Xander Harris. If you're talking about the thing with Larry, I thought he was going to kill people at school. See ..."

"Xander!" Dawn's impatience comes through. "How many times have you saved Buffy, or me, or Willow, just in the nick of time?"

"Oh, just a couple."

"When Angel came to get you to save Buffy from the Master ..." Dawn's voice trails off. "What?"

"Who told you Angel came to get me?"


"Figures. She's always making excuses for him." Xander's voice is bitter. Still.

"Angel didn't come and get you did he?" Dawn's is quiet, soft, understanding.

"He was sitting around in his apartment Dawn, waiting for her to die. I had to FORCE him to help me." "And you knew?"

"That if he came with me I could still save her."

"How'd you get to his apartment Xander?"


"Did you guys hang out together? You visit him just to chill?"

"I don't understand."

"How did you find his apartment Xander? In all of Sunnydale?"

"I just did."

"Because of what you are."

"Are you saying I'm some sort of ... "

"Intuitive genius Xander? Yes." Dawn sighs. " You've always had this talent. It's like some people can sing really well, or others are good at golf. You? You just know things. It's a talent. It's why I'm still alive. It's why Buffy is still alive. And Willow. And Kennedy. And a lot of other people."

"If I'm such a genius how come I'm sitting here in Chicago working in a Junkyard?"

"Cause you don't use your talent to make yourself rich, command armies, or nations Xander. You use it to help people. You probably had it since you were a little boy. It's why you're ... "


"My bedroom was right next to Willow's Xander. I used to hear them, talking. Willow. And Tara. About you. They knew."

"Knew what?"

"That your Dad, that he ..."

"Don't say it!"

"It's like you knew, just how much abuse to take, how much of a ... beating ... so he'd leave your Mom alone, and not ... "

"That's none of your business Dawn."

Her voice is soft and understanding "You know things Xander. You're like my flipside. You just know, when you want to. Me? I can't turn it off."

There's silence on the line. Buffy is looking appalled. So is everyone else. Buffy's thinking it wouldn't be that bad if Xander HAD been with Dawn. Well, almost.

"But Buffy said the men who made the Slayer, they did it to control her power. Cause they were evil. And well men."

"Buffy's an idiot Xander." Dawn sighs. "You know as well as I do that yeah, OK maybe those guys were a bunch of women hating jerks. But the power?"

"It's dangerous."

"A million Slayers Xander. Maybe more. You know what Graham said."

"That if we took the job, acted as a front for Uncle Sam ... "

"We'd have Buffy, and Willow, and Giles, and Robin ..."

"And Faith, and Rona, and Vi, and Kennedy ... "

"And even Andrew " Xander says ...

"Protected. Safe. They wouldn't kill them. Or let anyone else hurt them either." Dawn finishes.

"And we'd make sure ... "

"That they NEVER do that again Xander."

"Not like we ever had a choice Dawn."

"I know. Buffy gets me so mad at times. But ... I'd die for her Xander."

"I know Dawn. I know. So would I. We can't let them get killed."

"You know we will get killed doing this Xander. You know that." Her voice is flat. Emotionless.

"I know Dawn." His voice is filled with sadness, and regret (for Dawn's life, wasted).

"In the meantime we get clean up Buffy's mess."

"You don't know it will be that bad Dawn."

"Come on Xander!" Dawn's irratated. "You know damn well, out of all those slayers, probably about ten percent will try and become little superheros. Just like Buffy."


"And they'll be a problem, down the line. You KNOW this."

"But most of the girls, they won't do anything. Just play sports or something."

"Maybe you'll get some girls throwing 100 mph fast balls in the big leagues" Dawn laughs.

"But there will be a few ... " Xander continues. "Exactly. Even if it's only ten percent ... " Dawn tells him. "That's still nearly ten thousand of them. Some will just forget how strong they are. A punch to a kid at school. And Boom!"

"He's dead."

"And some of them will like this."

Faith turns as white as a sheet at this. Remembering. When she liked it. Buffy and Willow are looking at her, and Willow looks away. Ashamed. And remembering her own thrill for the kill.

"Xander, that's not the real danger. I mean yeah, we got cleanup duty on that. And that whole idea for Devil's Island in the Antarctic? Brilliant."

"Thanks. But I see your point. Some of them will start to combine forces."

"And this scares everyone."

"God Dawn, imagine a thousand of them, combined like Buffy was when she fought Adam."

"Even if they don't do that Xander, they're still a menace. They're nearly unstoppable. Look at Buffy."

"Is that why you tazered her?"

"I had to know Xander" she says in a small voice. "I had to know if it would work. And it didn't."

"No no no!" Xander's moaning.

"Xander honey" Dawn's telling him. "This is why we can't tell ANYONE. Especially not Buffy. She'd tell Willow. And Giles. Giles is SMART. He'd figure it out. Willow is too, whenever she can pull her head out of Kennedy's ..."


"Sorry. I just don't like Kennedy. I mean, she's brave and all. But ..."

"Whenever you see her, you're reminded of who's not there."

"Yeah. And anyway, Willow would tell Kennedy. And then everyone would know From the Kennedy Broadcasting Network."

"Robin would figure it out."

"So would Faith. Vi? Rona? They're too young. But Faith, I think she sorta knows Xander. Already."

"That's gonna be a problem Dawn."

"I know."

There's a pause.

"We can never tell them Xander. NEVER."

"That we're working for the government, just like Riley used to."

"Only we fight Aliens, demons, werewolves, vampires, ... " Dawn trails off.

"And most importantly, slayers."

"The ones that go bad."

"We're gonna need backup Dawn. And we have to find that alien."

"I've got an idea Xander. I let it go for a reason. We need someone who's not too powerful and not too bright."

There's a pause, while Buffy and her friends try to collect themselves.

"Xander, is Amy still in town?"

"I think so."

"Good." Dawn's voice switches gears. She becomes ... flirtatious. Seductive. "Xander?"

"The answer is still no."


"We talked about this? Remember? And the answer is the same as last time."

Dawn's a bit peeved. Well, more than a bit peeved. "I didn't like the answer. So were talking about it again."

"Dawn ... "

"Xander! WHY won't you have sex with me?"

Chapter 2

"I have some real bad thoughts in my head"

"All the animals come out at night. Whores, Skunk Pussies, Queens, Fairies, Dopers, Junkies. Sick. Venal. Someday a real rain's gonna come and wash all the scum off the streets."

-- Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver.

Buffy is looking aghast. Faith is halfway laughing and halfway concerned. Vi's mouthing a "yes!" to Rona who tells her roughly to shut up. Willow and Kennedy look at each other while Giles coughs and suggests "perhaps we should ?"

"No" Buffy says, determined. "I WANT to hear what my,"

the word comes out bitter "sister has to say."

Xander's weariness comes through the line halfway around the world. "Dawn, you're seventeen. And Buffy's sister. You figure it out."

"What about ME?"

"What about you? I'm looking out for you."

"Not really. I EARNED you."

"WHAT?" Xander's anger is palpable. "Like I'm some sort of merit badge?"

Dawn hisses out the words in frustration "WHY do you have to be so difficult? You know you're unhappy, same as me."

"What does that have to do with it?"

"If we were together, we'd be happy."

"What, instant boyfriend? Just add water?"

Dawn's answer is defensive "Something like that, yeah."

"I tried that with Anya" Xander tells her, "It didn't work then either."

"I'm NOT Anya!"

"I know that. But this ... this just won't work."

Dawn's voice is bitter, "Are you still in love with HER?"


"No. BUFFY" she spits out the words as Buffy wonders what the hell happened to her sweet little sister, and doesn't like the answer "Me."

"God no Dawn, whatever gave you ... " Xander pauses.

"Dawn this is NOT about Buffy. It's about me doing what's best for you."

"You know you love me."

"Of course I do Dawn. You know that. And I'll ALWAYS love you. But ..."

Dawn cuts him off "You're the only one who does.

That's why we should be together. You are all I've got."

"You know that's not true Dawn. Buffy, Giles, we all ..."

Dawn's voice is filled with more than a lifetime of bitterness "That's not true Xander. And you know it.

They all hate me. They all blame me. For killing her.

And they're right. It was all my fault."

"Dawn! How can you say that?"

Dawn's words are measured and angry "Because I KILLED HER Xander! Killed her! I'm not real. I never have BEEN. And up on that tower I froze. I should have jumped. I knew it. It wasn't my life. It belonged to Buffy. I was just a spell that thought she was a girl, praying that Buffy could somehow save me. And she did." Bitterly "She died. For me."

"Nobody blames you Dawn."

"Yes. Yes they do. Willow blames me. Giles does. Even Spike did. He only protected me because he promised.

It's why ..."

"Spike was nothing but scum Dawn. Willow and Giles don't think that way."

Dawn's laugh is bitter as Buffy's eyes get wider and Giles and Willow exchange glances. "What Xander, what did Giles say? Before you all went out to fight Glory?

Something like," she imitates Giles voice " 'Don't worry Buffy, I'll kill Dawn for you, cheerio?' Something like that?"

Xander's voice is soft. "He didn't mean it."

"Yes he did Xander. It's part of why he left. He couldn't stand to look at me. I killed his REAL daughter. I killed Buffy. And it's why Willow hates me. You know that."

"Buffy doesn't think that Dawn. You know how much she loves you."

"Xander," Dawn's voice is flat. "I killed her. And she does blame me. When Giles and Robin, when they tried to skill Spike."

"Hey yeah," Xander's voice is filled with fake cheer.

"Good times huh?"

Dawn's not in the mood "When they came up with their idiot plan, Buffy ran off to save Spike."

"Yeah, I remember."

"I heard Giles and Robin talk about it afterwards.

They didn't even notice me, it was like I was furniture." Dawn sighs "Xander, Giles told Robin that Buffy said, right before she went to save Spike, she said ..."

There's an awkward silence and Buffy dreads what will come.

"That to save the world she'd let me die. THIS time.

But she had to save Spike. Even after, what he'd done."

More silence. Then Xander speaks while Giles glares fully at Buffy who wilts a bit under his gaze and Robin looks at Buffy with no expression whatsoever.

"Dawn. Honey, that's just Buffy. She's always had problems with vamps. You know that."

"Mom told me Xander. She came to me and told me that Buffy, she wouldn't choose me."

"What? When? And more to the point, how?"

"When the First, when it tried to get Willow to kill herself."

"How do you know it wasn't the First Dawn? I mean the First pretended to be Cassie."

"The same way Willow knew it wasn't really Tara. I just knew. It was Mom. And she was right."

"Buffy still loves you Dawn. I know this."

"Xander, you just see what you want to. You always believe in people you care about. It's why I love you.

But you're wrong. About Buffy."

"Dawn, she made one mistake."

"She wanted to bring me to him ... when Willow was busy killing people Xander."

"OK, two mistakes."

"Xander, he raped her. Spike raped her and she STILL wanted to bring me to him."

"Buffy said she stopped him. That he didn't ... "

Xander trails off.

"She lies Xander. Buffy always lies. She lied about Angel. She's lying about Spike. I mean, what did you see, that night?"

"You mean ..."

"Before that bastard Warren murdered Tara. The night before. What did you see?"

"I didn't see anything. Just Spike's jacket, I mean ..."

"Robin's Mom's jacket."

"Yeah. That. It was on the staircase. So I went up.

And Buffy, she was ..."

Xander hesitates and Dawn presses him "What? WHAT did you see Xander?"

His reply is sad, pitying "She was on the floor of her bathroom. Robe torn open, legs bruised, she was crying. Spike was storming out of the house through the back." Defensively he adds "She said she stopped him."

"And you believe her? Buffy?"


"Did Willow know?"

Xander laughs, bitterly "No Dawn. She doesn't know.

Willow's not very smart sometimes."

"Why did you take him in Xander?"


"Yeah. Spike. Why did you take him in?"

He pauses. "Cause I was afraid. Afraid that ..."

"She'd let him in our house? And he could rape me?"


"She did anyway."

"I know."

"It was always Spike Spike Spike. Spike this and Spike that and Spike has a soul now. She doesn't love me Xander."

Softly he tells her "I know Dawn. I know."


"I know we don't get along Buffy," Robin tells her.

"But even I don't believe that. Dawn has a lot of issues. And so does your friend Xander."

"Geez B. She's messed up. Has a lot of weird fantasies." Faith adds helpfully.

Buffy says nothing, just stares at the speakerphone.

While Willow's very quiet. And gets angry which doesn't escape the notice of anyone, not even Buffy who can FEEL Willow's eyes boring into her.


Dawn hesitates a moment, then decides. She'll hold nothing back. "Xander, I know you're in pain. I know you're hurting. All broken up inside. I know cause I'm broken too. Every night, I see Buffy fall. See her die. Or see Mom. Cold. Dead. Or Tara. All her blood on the floor. There was so much blood Xander. So much."

"I know honey, I know."

"It was all my fault Xander. I killed them. All of them."

"No, god Dawn why do you think that?"

"Because it's true. I show up, Mom dies. Buffy dies.

Tara dies. Everyone dies. Or leaves. Except you."

"You know I'll always be here for you Dawn."

"I know that, but I want more. I want to be happy. I want YOU to be happy."

"This isn't the way Dawn. I can't screw you into happiness."

"You're good at fixing things Xander. You can fix me.

And I can fix you. I want to" she concludes, a bit breathlessly.

"You're seventeen," he says a bit roughly. "That means no."

Dawn laughs a deep throaty laugh. "God Xan, how old do you think Kennedy is?"

Xander's not answering.

"I mean come on Xan, everyone KNEW what Ken and Willow were arguing about. That spell only worked for girls under 18. Ken's a slayer. Do the math."

"I don't care what Willow does. And anyway it's different."

"What? Cause they're both girls?"

"Yeah. Willow can't take advantage."

"Xander that makes no sense at all."

"It doesn't have to. I'm a man. I'm entitled."

"So it's OK for Willow to scream her brains out every night with Ken, who's MY AGE, but you can't make me happy when I need it?"


Willow and Kennedy cross their arms in front of their chests, and take defensive postures. Robin gives Willow a long cold unapproving stare, while Giles sighs and realizes that the group is coming apart.

Fast. And hard.


"Xander, it could be fun. You KNOW you want me." She pauses a bit uncertainly "You do don't you? I mean I'm pretty aren't I?"

"Dawn, you know you're beautiful. More beautiful than Buffy. Or Willow. Or Faith. You know that. You're seventeen for gods sake. Of course you're beautiful."

Dawn laughs and Buffy can almost see her smile.

"So you look at me. I know you do. I look at you too.

A lot. I know you can hear me when ..."

"Dawn, that doesn't matter." Xander interrupts hurriedly.

"Why? I mean we could play games. Like pretend Buffy's in the next room. And she catches us," Dawn laughs "right after we've had sex. I mean her little sister and her best friend. It would be hot."

There's a pause, and Xander's drawing of breath is heard even over the speakerphone. And his sense of deep hurt is so obvious, so pathetic that even those who've never met him are taken aback.

"Is this about me? Or about you getting back at Buffy?"

Dawn's defensive answer "You KNOW I didn't mean it like that Xander."

"I'm not gonna play house with you Dawn. Just so you can get back at Buffy. I thought ... " Xander's close to tears "I thought at least YOU care about me."

"What Xander? Did you want hearts and flowers from me?

Romance?" Dawn's voice is tough, joking.

Xander's starting to cry. And the panic in Dawn's voice is written in foot high letters.

"God Xander you do. Don't cry Xander. I DO love you. I love you so much. I just can't think straight around you. You know that."

A pause as Xander's still crying. "Please honey stop crying. I'm just no good with guys. I never know what to say. I'm just lame. Like you." Her voice is even softer, pleading. "Please."

Buffy hears Dawn give Xander kisses, probably on the forehead or cheek, imagines her arms wrapped around him, thinks it got worse. And that Dawn is just possibly an even bigger idiot than she is with men.

She's gone way over the line with Xander. How will she put them back together now? And god what she said.

What is Dawn doing?

"Sweetie. I DO love you. I always will. I mean yeah the idea of pissing off Buffy is just huge, but even if she was OK with us, it wouldn't change how I feel.

How much I love you. Please honey. Please. Stop crying."

"Then WHY do you keep pushing this? Are you trying to make me hate myself even more?" Xander says as he stops crying and sniffles.

"Because what we have isn't wrong Xander. We're alike.

And we both know."

"Know what?"

"To have someone stronger honey. Someone more powerful, someone you thought cared about you, maybe loved you. On top of you. And trying to kill you. For fun."

"Anya was just ..."

"I'm not talking about Anya Xander. I'm talking about Faith. And what she did to you. I know." Dawn pauses.

"I know. How you feel. My first date, remember? He just wanted to ... to rape me and eat me."

"How did you?"

"Angel told Buffy, and Buffy told Willow. They didn't hear me listening." She pauses and gently says "She was your first, wasn't she?"

Xander says bitterly "Yes. And it had to be HIM. That saved me. Sometimes I wish he'd let me die."

"Don't say that. I NEED you."

"You need me as a friend Dawn."

"No Xander, I need you as my boyfriend. So you'll be there for me, when I have to ... "

She pauses.

"When I have to kill some of the new slayers that go bad. You KNOW we won't be able to save all of them.

I'm going to kill little girls Xander. Little girls who got all this power and just can't handle it. I'll be covered in their blood." Her voice is growing desperate. "And we both know it."

Her voice grows resigned, and cold with a tinge that Buffy finds ominous. "Besides honey, I know you. If we're lovers you'll forgive me."

"Dawn, we'll find a way, that Alien ..."

Dawn cuts him off, "Xander, that Alien is for Buffy.

JUST for her. But if we're together, you'll forgive me. Even when I kill Willow. And put Buffy away.

You'll forgive me. And I won't be alone."


"Buffy, " Faith begins, "your little sister is psychotic."

"And delusional" adds Robin.

"She needs help" Faith tells her.

"Preferably, now" concludes Robin.

"They're still talking" says Kennedy, voice filled with anger. "I want to hear this."


Note more than a mile away from Xander's rather run down apartment, a lone figure is hurriedly scribbling on a notebook, stolen along with a pen and and some magazines and comic books not an hour before. She is blonde, slender, and possesses an ethereal beauty that is both cold and menacing. Today however she's bundled into stolen clothes that conceal nearly all her figure and has a cap pulled low over her face. What she is writing is in a script utterly alien.

"Day two of my exile. I am utterly alone. Yet, I am strangely hopeful of rescue. Failing that, I leave this record of my activities so that others may profit from it. I attribute my survival so far to my relative youth, and the real purpose of my journey to this terrible, terrible place.

Those of us who journey here, do so mostly out of necessity. The acceleration to the transit space takes a heavy toll, even with our liquid environment to cushion it's effects. The journey through warped space is always risky, as is using the gravity of this system's gas giants to slow the craft down. This place is heavy in Oxygen, and therefore corrodes our ships rapidly unless we submerge into water. Care must be taken in operating our filters, so that heavy elements of pollution from our home are not completely filtered out and the mating madness without the drugs takes us.

Doubtless many ships have been lost that way. Though ours was not lost in that fashion.

The others of course were all much older. They had all achieved high status and had not only seen a mating, many of them had even through the drugs partaken in one. Two of our number had even had children. Of course their age meant that tissue transplants were no longer effective, and needed replacements from the natives. I myself was in no need of such replacements.

Rather I journeyed with my shipmates, primarily to see. To see a mating.

This planet does not have our pollution. And the natives, who are so remarkably like us in many ways yet utterly different in other, terrifying ways, do not need the drugs to mate. As told by others, our people and our adversaries, they mate all the time.

Remarkable. And an event which I hoped to witness.

Instead of waiting millennia of laborious status achievement to view a mating at home. I even had half formed hopes of participating in a mating myself.

Which led to both my survival and my unfortunate status as lonely exile.

Breaking away from the others I used my suit's stealth mode to observe many natives. One pair in particular I hoped would mate, a younger female and a wounded male, but instead they fought my comrades savagely and killed many of our people. This was unexpected as we had been told that the natives were primitives, with only dull copper or bronze tools at best. Instead they had chemical weapons that while crude were quite effective at killing us. And did not seem cowed by us.

But this is to be expected. The planet is terrifying, filled with monsters of all description, which these natives regularly battle.

We made plans to leave, when the natives used some sort of primitive device to hit us with a huge rock.

The effect was devastating. I had not yet changed out of my suit otherwise I would have been killed as the others were when the water rushed in and our liquid environment was contaminated. I was however afraid I would soon die, trapped in the doomed craft when I saw a most remarkable thing. The same pair I had seen before, which had savagely attacked us twice, and sadly failed to mate, was able to somehow operate our teleporter. A feat of which I myself was not capable of. This terrified me beyond reason, yet summoning courage from our seven fold ancestors, I repeated the actions of the male and materialized outside our ship and safely away. The male raised his primitive chemical weapon, which surely would have killed me.

Yet the younger female stopped him and motioned for me to leave. I do not know why she did this, and her action leaves me with a feeling of unease.

Alone, and running low on on my suit's supply of liquid; I had to remove my helmet. And vomit from my lungs the remaining liquid while breathing in the horrible atmosphere of the planet. It was a terrifying ordeal, and one that nearly killed me. I would not care to repeat it. Nor was I prepared for the atmosphere. The smells. Thick. Organic. Of every conceivable kind. The sounds too, they were horrible.

Vehicles, natives, animals of nearly every description. The place teems with activity in a way our tranquil home does not.

And yet I was resolute. Knowing that another ship of our people was due. And confident in my ability with luck to evade the primitives. And ever hopeful of witnessing a mating. Having observed what the natives call a "Newstand" I planned carefully. I am not ashamed to admit my boldness, for disguised in stolen native clothing I simply absconded with valuable books. Of both matings and the doings of the most important of natives.

Of the book of matings, I obtained both "Triple XXX Magazine" and "Big Uns." Both of which as I suspected showed many matings, in many different forms. Only higher status natives were able to purchase or view these books. I saw with my own eyes the operator of the "Newstand" assert privilege and status by preventing juveniles from viewing these books. Such is to be expected. It would be many millennia before I would see such books at home.

The other book is even more fascinating. Unlike the books of matings it has no pictures, merely drawings, as it details the doings of the most important of the natives. They are so important that status prevents them from being recorded with imaging devices, hence the drawings. The book is called "Fantastic Four" and is billed as "World's Greatest Comic" which means it describes the planets greatest heroes. Reed Richards the leader of the Fantastic Four has fabulous powers, and can extend his body in many ways. He is very intelligent and approaches our own scientists and leaders in intellect. He has even visited other planets as we have. Unlike the other primitives he is not always hostile to aliens, and may be persuaded to help me return home, if I reveal the truth to him.

I must find the Baxter Building which is their home.

Or failing that attract the Fantastic Four and Reed Richards. I am not certain that this city is New York, for others in our group felt it was Cleveland. However the city is built near a large body of water, so it must be New York. I must remain focused. Find the Baxter Building. Contact Reed Richards. And perhaps even mate with him. He is very kind. And intelligent."

Chapter 3

"I have some real bad thoughts in my head"

"All the animals come out at night. Whores, Skunk Pussies, Queens, Fairies, Dopers, Junkies. Sick.

Venal. Someday a real rain's gonna come and wash all the scum off the streets."

-- Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver.


Xander's voice is shocked to the core "We are NOT killing Willow."

Dawn's voice is soft, sad "I know that honey. I am."

Kennedy's face turns to anger, Buffy's staring straight ahead, not looking at anyone.

"You know who I am Xander. I'm the Sword of the Earth, the Defender. What Pancho Villa said ..." as Xander interrupts her.

"I don't give a crap what some dead guy said. Even if he did teach us to shoot. We are NOT killing Willow.

How can you even SAY such a thing."

"I've known this since Willow left for England."

"What? A Day?"

"No! And let me FINISH Xander. What I am, the key made human," Dawn pauses, searching for the words. "I can figure things out Xander. I can look at someone on the street, and just by the way they walk, what they wear, I can know. Who they are, where they work, if they're cheating, how much money they make, all of that. I can figure it out. Reason and logic. And I can NEVER turn it off."


"So I've known since Giles took Willow away LAST Summer what I'd have to do. Eventually. You know, her," Dawn's voice takes a light, mocking turn as she imitates Willow "My not being evil and killing people vacation, cause I'm a good little girl and neeeever do anything wrong." Dawn adds with bitterness "Unless I'm skinning people alive."

"I never forgot that Dawn. But Will's ..."

"What? Dealing with what she did? All better now?"

"Tara was her soulmate Dawn. You gotta cut her some slack."

"That's just the problem Xander. She wasn't."

"Dawn! That's not fair. I mean yeah Kennedy's annoying sometimes but"

Dawn interrupts. "Xan. Willow loses her soulmate and a few months later she's hooked up already?"

"She's happy. I'm happy for her. Why aren't you?"

"Xander, I don't like Kennedy."

"Because she's not Tara. That's not fair Dawn."

"I know, " Dawn sighs. "But that's not the point.

She's brave. Too brave."

"To which I say ... what?"

"Xander, what happens when Kennedy gets herself killed? She's a slayer. You KNOW it will happen.

Especially with all the chances she takes."

"Dawn, she won't ... Willow won't. Not ever again."

"Yes Xander, she will. Willow is going to go crazy again, and start killing people. She almost ended the world LAST TIME." Dawn's voice rises "Or did you forget!"

Xander's voice is cold, hard. "I'll never forget what she did Dawn. Not ever. The sight. The sound. The SMELL." He pauses and adds "But that's not all she'll ever be."

"So when she goes crazy again and threatens the world, what? You'll stop her? With a crayon?" Dawn realizes she's gone too far and adds "Look Xander. What you did, that was the bravest thing. But it was a one time only deal. Next time it just won't work. And I'm gonna have to stop her. There isn't anyone else."

"Giles could ..."

"What? Get his ass kicked like last time? No Xander.

It's gonna be me. To save the world. I'll have to kill Willow. Cause I'm the one person she'll never see coming. I'm the person she used to be. What she could have been. It's why she ... thinks I'm a joke. Or a little kid."

"Buffy could ..."

"Sit in a hole while thinking of Spike. Just like last time. She was useless Xander. Or did you forget that too?"

"I didn't forget. But we're not killing Will. She's my best friend. She ..."

"Xander, do you think I WANT this? God Will still gives me nightmares. You didn't have her trying her best to kill you, and having one of her special moments while thinking about it. But it's who she is."

Dawn sighs "She's a junkie Xander. She got a taste for killing. And that never leaves. And she's not your friend."

"How can you say that Dawn? She stopped. For me. The worst moment of her life and she stopped for me."

"Cause Willow raised the dead, almost ended the world, and made all those new slayers."

"And this is evil because ... well except for the end the world part?"

"She can do all that, she healed herself when she was Willow strip steak for that demon, but she can't heal you?"

"I lost my eye Dawn. There's nothing she can do."

"She healed herself Xan. She healed Tara. She won't heal you for a reason. There's a spell to do it. I don't have the power. But she does."

"Willow would heal me if she could."

"Unless it would screw things up with Kennedy. The spell requires stuff. You just don't matter to her Xander. You're the wrong sex."

A bit of silence while Vi and Rona look appalled and more than a little afraid of Willow, and Kennedy is silent, unreadable. Buffy tries to sink inside her chair. Shut up Dawn shut up Dawn shut up Dawn you keep making it WORSE she thinks.

"Xander, I want to be completely honest with you. No lies, just the truth. Even if it hurts."

"Dawn, we are not ..."

"Honest, or not? Cause I'll want the same from you.' "Honest then."

"All those books? On abnormal psych? Addiction? Those computer models I worked on?"


"That was me. Running simulations. Every time Kennedy was killed, she went nuts and started killing people.

Tried to end the world. Every time you, Buffy, or Giles tried to stop her she killed you all and ended it. That was one hundred percent of 500 tries Xander."

She pauses and with more vehemence says "And I'm not finished. I get it done EVERY time. Save the world."

She laughs. "Though I end up dead and tortured 53% of the time, and severely wounded 22% of the time."

"Dawn, those are just models, it's not WILLOW." He pauses and asks "Dead and tortured?"

"In that order. This IS Willow honey. You know that I love you right?"

"I know."

"And I'd do anything to save Willow just cause it would make you happy? No matter how I feel about her, just cause I love you?"

A stubborn silence and then "Yes."

"It won't happen for a while Xander. In the meantime she can be happy. But pretending she's the same little girl you loved all these years won't change anything.

She'll still go nuts, try and kill everyone, and I'll stop her. To save the world. I HAVE TO." And in a soft voice she says "It's my job."

"What about the alien?"

"That's if we can find it Xander. And even then, Will's power ... it's too much. When she's that way."

"What about ... just draining her? I mean if she has no power then she can't go nuts. She'd be just Willow."

"Can you EVER see her agreeing to that? Besides, Willow IS the magic Xander. There's very little Willow left. It's mostly JUST magic. Take that away ..."

"And she's dead?"

"Yes. So we let her live. And make plans. And besides, I need that alien to save Buffy. It's why I let it go."

Xander has an angry undertone "I'm not going to like this plan, am I?"

"No. You're not. Remember how Buffy used to be?"

"Sure. She used to be nice. I mean ..."

"She was nice. She was my sister. She used to touch me Xander. Hold me. Kiss me. She doesn't. Not anymore. No one touches me anymore."

Xander sighs. "Dawn, let's not start."

"I'm just saying Xander. And there's a reason for that. A reason why ... all of sudden Faith is Miss Safe and Sane and actually SMART and someone I halfway like. Or why Robin's Mom got killed by Spike. I mean ... look at him. And HIS Mom? By SPIKE? Come on!" Dawn says sadly "There's a reason why Buffy doesn't love us anymore Xander. Why she loved Spike. After all he did to her. Why she's such a ..."



"With Faith, I mean she ..."

"She stopped slaying Xander. All that time in a coma, then in jail. She's mostly Faith. NOT the Slayer.

Buffy's been slaying for a long time Xander. Too long.

And being ripped out of heaven, when Willow resurrected her? It made it worse."

"Made what worse?"

"The Slayer. It's a demon. You know that. That's what the slayer is. A demon put inside a girl. And the more the girl slays, the stronger the demon becomes."

Dawn's sadness is clear even on the speakerphone.

"She's not that different from Angel."

"Don't call her that!" Xander's retort barks out of the speakerphone.

"The more she slayed the less of Buffy there was. You know it."

"She's just ... under a lot of stress Dawn."

"She tried to commit suicide Xan, back when Riley was still around."

"She was just a bit careless Dawn, she didn't get hurt bad ..."

"Xander I was THERE. In her room. Why do you think Riley went all Commando on those vamps? They hurt her BAD Xan. Bad like nearly DEAD bad. She wanted to die Xander. While she was still Buffy. That's why, that's why she ..." Dawn starts crying.

Through her sobs and sniffles they can hear Xander comforting Dawn, patting her back.

"That's why Slayers mostly die young. Cause they'd rather die than become ... the slayer. Why the men who made the slayer had only one. Why Buffy is so hung up on vamps. Why she ... " Dawn trails off.


"I used to get into a lot of fights in school Xan, remember?"

"Yeah. I mean, new school. Musta sucked."

"It was about Buffy."

"Because she was a counselor?"

"Because they saw her. At the Bronze. With HIM." Her words are bitter. "Doing him. Up in the balcony.

Looking at you. And Anya. And Willow. They laughed at her. Thought her a joke. Called her names. Called me names."

"Dawn, that's just kids talking."

Dawn's voice is very sad, "Xander, it was true. I know she did it on our front lawn, kids saw her by work in an alley with him, and I think she did it in front of me with him once when she was invisible."

Dead silence. Xander figures it out.

"She did it in front of you too didn't she?"

"When she was invisible. Spike was doing 'naked pushups.' I just thought he was pathetic."

"We're not real people to her Xander. Not anymore.

We're just shadows. Or pets."

"Or furniture."

"But it's not really her fault. It's the slayer. The demon inside her. Making her sick. Killing Buffy.

Making her want vamps. Making Faith want vamps."


"God Xander did you miss her and Spike in the basement? Buffy storming out after catching them?"

There's a silent pause, Wood shifts away from Faith and his face becomes made of stone.


"Yeah. Xander, you deserve better than her."

"The First Slayer, when it tried to kill us in our dreams ... it was savage. Primitive. It couldn't talk."

"And that's what they will all become Xander. The ones that want it. That want the Slayer. The others will just die."

"Buffy won't Dawn. I've known her, she's strong, she ..."

Dawn's voice is sad, clear, and resolved. "Xander, she IS strong. It's why she's been sorta Buffy for as long as she has. But this is what the First Evil wanted.

All along. It's why the Council, those shamans were always afraid of the slayer. Cause the slayer is a demon. And the demon's getting stronger. In all of them. All over the world. You know it."


"You KNOW IT. You've always known it. You just didn't want to face it."

"But the alien?"

"It can make the slayer go away. For maybe a little bit. I don't think ... I don't think even even a fleet of UFO's will work to stop the slayer for long. Not the way she is now."

"So what, we just give up?"

"No. We do the best we can for her. We keep her safe from ... people who'd want to kill her. Or worse. Use her. As a weapon." Dawn pauses. "This is why we made the deal with Graham. So Buffy and Faith and Kennedy and Vi and Rona and Willow .. they all get as much time as we can buy them."

"And then?"

"And then when Buffy is pretty much all slayer we use the alien. And we put her somewhere safe. Where she can't hurt anyone. Someplace warm. She likes the sun."

"Not the Island?"

"God no Xander. It'll turn into Lord of the Flies with Icebergs down there. You know that. They'll be killing and eating each other in weeks."

"Can't we ..."

"What Xander? Do something else? You know there isn't any other way. And even then we're gonna have to kill a lot of them." She pauses "Maybe most of them."

"We're talking about killing our friends Dawn. Our family."

"I know that. And putting Buffy away. So she won't hurt people. But Xander, this ... it's who we are.

It's why I need you so much. I need you to keep me human. And stay with me. So I don't turn into something like them. You know that too."

There's a pause. Buffy hopes against hope that it will just STOP as everyone takes in Dawn's theory. Faith is looking at her hands, and staring at Buffy.

Dawn breaks the silence. "Xan, I want an answer."

Exasperated he replies "I already said no."

"And I want to know WHY. The REAL reason why. You promised."

Xander sighs. "Do you know, what I do when I get up in the morning Dawn?"

Sullenly "No."

"I look at myself and the mirror and get reminded of just how much I hate myself."


"Look at me Dawn! Look at me. I have one eye. No job, not a real one. I work at a JUNKYARD. Spike could do better. Wherever he is he's probably laughing at me.

Everyone's probably laughing at me. I'm a joke. And I'm such a loser that when I finally reached my folks in Vegas, they didn't even think of me when they found out Sunnydale just vanished into the worlds biggest hole in the ground. They didn't even CARE Dawn. They didn't even remember me."

"Xander ..."

"I'm not finished. My whole life my Dad beat the crap out of me. Told me I was garbage. Every girl I was ever interested in tried to kill me. I've slept with a grand total of two women. Both tried to kill me. Both thought I was a total joke. They dumped me. For someone else. What? Like I didn't know? That Anya was seeing someone else at the end? She told me. Not his name but she told me. I didn't want to know. And I was so pathetic that ... I accepted her pity sex. I accepted it." He pauses. "You wanted to know? Well now you know. Cause you can do better. Even someone like Spike, he'd be better. Just ask Buffy. Or Faith. Or Anya. No wait, she's dead."

"That's not your fault."

"It IS my fault. Why did she stick around? Unless she thought I wanted her to?"

"Xander, I'm not THEM."

"Dawn, I can't even make Giles proud. I mean, back in High School, OK well like lots of times even after, I used to pretend he was my real Dad. I mean I know he never thought I was good enough for Buffy, well mostly cause I wasn't. But he let me hang around, and he was OK with me being there. But now ... he's real mad at me. Cause I did something stupid. Probably. I can't even make him ..." He pauses. "I just can't do this anymore Dawn. Especially not with you. I couldn't stand it if you ..."

"Xander I would NEVER do that. You know me. And Giles," she says softly. "Giles isn't really mad at you honey. It's something else."

"Dawn, you know how I felt when Buffy slept with Angel? Or chose him? Over me? Even though I had to drag him out of his apartment to save her from the Master? I felt so small and worthless. Like I was nothing. And never would be." He says with conviction "How could I make some guy you're supposed to be with feel like that? Like I felt? You deserve someone special, someone your age who's as beautiful as you are. Not someone like me. No woman could ever love me.

Nobody could." He adds "You deserve better than me."

Angrily Dawn asks "You finished?"

"No. Most of the time I wish I was dead. But I promised to get your back and a promise is a promise."

"You know you're an idiot?"

"That's not news."

"You're just afraid of commitment. It's why you ran out on Anya. You just couldn't handle ..."

"Don't tell me what I can't handle Dawn. You don't know. What happened."

"Then tell me." She spits out venomously, "as long as we're being honest."

Xander's voice is soft and sad. "I saw myself hitting her Dawn. Hitting Anya. I loved her so much. And those visions, I was doing to her what my Dad did to my Mom.

To me. I even killed her. How could I ..." He stops angrily and tells her "You have no right to judge.

You're not as smart as you think you are."

"I didn't know."

"And now you do."

"Why didn't you tell anyone?"

"I didn't have anyone."

"You could have told me."

"You were fifteen."

"I'm seventeen now."

"And I just told you."

"Xander, you were the victim."

"Tell that to Anya."

"Xander, Anya never loved you. Not really. And neither did Faith, or Willow, or any of those girls. No one who loved you could try and kill you. I couldn't."

"That's not what Anya said."

Dawn hesitates. "Anya was a lot of things. Xander she killed a lot of people. A LOT. More than Spike even.

And she was never sorry. Not once. She wanted to be OK with everything, but she never forgave anyone. Not ever." A pause and then Dawn starts up again. "She was big on punishment Xan. All her talk about Spike, in front of the girls, just when you happened to walk by.

That was your punishment. I told her once, about Spike. What he did. To Buffy. And she should shut about him around you. She laughed at me. Called me a stupid little girl. She already knew."


"Xander, she was a vengeance demon. She knew. First time she saw Buffy with Spike she just knew. She didn't think it was a big thing. Said it proved that at least Spike loved Buffy. And that only a stupid little girl like me would be in love with you. She never asked me to look after you. I lied. To make you feel better. But you deserve the truth."

Stunned silence.

"Xander. Anya was just ... different. She'd been a demon so long, a lot of things she felt, did, it was just ... no matter how much you loved her you couldn't make her human. That was something she had to do on her own."

"She knew?"

"She knew. She just didn't care. You could have knocked her around like your Dad, and as long as you didn't cheat or leave she would have been happy. But you could never do that. You were always more than that."

"Great. It was all for nothing. All of it. I should just ..."

"Xander, did you hear ANYTHING I said?"

"Yeah that I should have done the world a favor and killed myself."

"No. That Anya, Faith, Buffy, Willow ... they were all wrong for you. You scared them."

"Me? Scare them? More like disgust them?"

"Xander, you're the most human and decent guy I know.

It's what they wanted, for a while. But being with you meant they couldn't be just a slayer, or a witch, or a demon. They'd have to be human. Finally. And they wanted the power more than you. It's why they always try and kill you. That's why you're such a demon magnet. You're so ... human. You're exotic."


"That's why I want you. I know you. How decent you are. How human. And if I'm with you, I'll never turn into them. I'll never be a monster. " Dawn laughs "I have a lot of bad ideas in my head."

"That movie is sick Dawn."

"Taxi Driver's brilliant. Travis Bickle was a hero."

"He was a sick psychopath who killed all those people."

"They needed killing Xander. What they did to that girl, they deserved it."

"You're not Iris Dawn."

"I know. I'm Travis. You're Iris. My Iris."

"What, so I'm a twelve year old prosititute now? I thought I was human?"

"You are. And they hurt you Xander. Like they hurt me.

All the animals. They come out at night. The vampires, the werewolves, demons, witches, slayers. Sick.

Venal." She laughs "Someday a real rain's gonna come and wash all the scum off the street. And we're gonna be the ones that make it happen Xander. We're the RainMakers."

"Buffy's not scum Dawn."

"I know she's not. But the slayer is. And you know it."

"Is this what we are Dawn? Taxi Drivers killing supernatural scum?"

"Pretty much. Hooray for us Xan."

"We're gonna get killed."

"I know that. See, that's the difference between me and THEM. Buffy and Willow can play little miss helpless," she continues in high, Willow-esque mocking tone "Oh please stay with me Xander. Cause I need you so much. Stay and risk your life until I dump you for some magic lesbian." Her voice lowering "Or some vamp passing through. I don't even have to like him much to dump you for him."

"That's not ..."

"That's exactly what they did with you Xander. I could have played you just like them, had you following me around like Buffy's little puppydog. Buffy got your eye put out, and I'll go her one better," Dawn's getting worked up. "I'll get you killed. But at least I'll sleep with you."

Xander's reply is cutting, "So you don't love me. Not after all."

"Oh I love you Xander. I'm just too weak to send you away. I need you too much." She laughs. "It's not like I plan on sticking around too long anyway after you get killed. I mean, what's the point?"

"God Dawn, don't talk like that ... this thing ...

what you're saying ..."

"Xander, this is who I am. The real me. I know I'm a bitch. Probably bigger than Buffy." She laughs "And that's saying something. I lie. I press buttons. I STEAL. I manipulate. But not with you. NEVER with you.

With you I don't have to pretend to be anything other than the freak I am. I don't have to play nice little Dawnie. Cause that's not who I am. And I want you to be the same way. Just be Xander. It's OK."

"I've always been just me."

"So you'll tell me the truth."


"If I were 18 would you?"

"Yes. But you're not."

"Buffy was younger than me when she ..."

"What, turned Angel into a monster who killed Jenny?"

Dawn laughs, "You won't turn into a monster Xander.

You'll just make me happy."

"And that worked out so well for Buffy."

Dawn laughs. "You won't break me. I'm not some delicate little flower. No one would know."

"I'd know. I may not be much, but Giles taught me what I know about being a man. A man doesn't take advantage. Not ever. God how could I ever look Giles in the face? I mean, he's mad at me already. And I don't want to hate myself even more."

Dawn's angry. "Giles isn't half the man you are Xan."

"No. He's twice the man."

"God Xander, he left. US. Buffy and me. When we needed him most. Besides."

"Besides what?"

"I shouldn't tell you. It would just hurt you."

"What happened to being honest? Just us? Dawn and Xander?"

There is a long pause.

"Xan, it would just hurt you. Let's have sex. Or do something, anything."

Stubbornly Xander asks "No. I want to know. Why he's mad at me."

Dawn sighs. "God Xander, this is so hard. You know what I am right?"

"You're my friend Dawn, my jailbait tormentor."

"I'm the key Xander. Which means I unlocked myself. I learn things ... really fast. I'm good with ... just about any human talent. I just don't have your ..."


"Yeah. But I notice things Xander. About you. About Anya. About Giles. You know why he left. Partly cause he hated looking at me. When he left again, it was ...

remember Willow's spell?"

"Which one? There's been so many?"

"Where we all forgot who we were? And Anya and Giles thought they were married?"

"Yeah. And you called me Alex."

"Willow and Tara. They were together. So were Buffy and Spike. And you and me."

"That doesn't mean that we're soulmates Dawn."

"I know that. But it means that Anya and you weren't.

Remember that. She never said a word to you. The whole time."


"So I noticed stuff. Like Anya's lipstick on Giles.

And their clothes. Buttoned funny. Like they'd gotten dressed in a big hurry. And hey wow, big surprise Giles takes off again when he knows Willow's in trouble. And of course Anya says nothing to him. I mean when did Anya suddenly become quiet?"

"That doesn't mean anything Dawn. Giles would NEVER do that."

"So when he was back with all the Potentials, and he and Anya would go out for a long time, and come back and not look at each other, and their clothes were buttoned all funny, that didn't mean anything? "

"I don't believe you."

"He was her boyfriend Xander. What? Like she could go five minutes without sex?"

"I know Giles."

"And I know what I saw Xander. Either the underwear Gnomes got them or they were having sex. A lot. I'm sorry. I know it hurts."

Dead silence.

"You needed to know this."

More silence.

"That thing with RJ? It wasn't real. But it still hurt. To see Buffy. On top of him. Having sex. So I know Xan."

More silence.

"Hey, I saw Willow and Tara naked once," Dawn tries jokingly with false cheer. "I sneaked a peek. I was ... ah curious."

Still Silence.

"I saw Buffy and Riley do it once too. Sorta by accident. On purpose."

"Ever think about a threesome? Vi's kinda cute. She looks like Willow. I could put on a blond wig and pretend to be Buffy!"


Buffy's smashing of the speakerphone punctuates the end of the conversation. The table shudders a bit, then gives up the ghost and splits in half and falls apart. Everyone looks at each other, Vi blushing furiously, the others nervous, afraid, unable to think of anything to say.

Faith chimes in "I think you killed it Buffy."


Finally Xander has a ghost of a smile on his face. "No blond wig. No Buffy. I might catch something."

"True. I mean ... Spike?"

"Did you really see them ... I mean ..."

"Xander, I was a horny teenager without a boyfriend.

What do you think?"

"I think you're still a horny teenager without a boyfriend."

"But I have plans."

"How long? I mean, just out of curiosity?"

"Well, Buffy and Riley were done pretty quick. But Willow and Tara went at it for nearly an hour."


"Amy's cute. How about her?"

"Is this the torture Xander hour?"

"Well, I'm curious. I mean I'm not gay, but I'd like to know. Just once. In case I die young. Which is pretty likely."

"This IS the torture Xander hour."

"You'd never go for a threesome the other way."


"You, me, and Riley."

"Oh, and Buffy finds us all together?"

Dawn laughs "You know me so well. My big fantasy."

"Dawn, that's just ..."

"Sick? Hey I told you I'm a freak. I just hide it very well. But I'm not into bondage, or any of that crap with handcuffs or spanking that Buffy and Anya got into."

Xander's blushing and Dawn looks at him "Xander, Anya liked to brag."

"Can we go find Amy? In a not for sex in a threesome way, but more in a find the alien way?"

"Sure. Get some ice cream on the way?"

"Why not."

"We'll find Amy, get that alien, maybe kill something."

"That always cheers me up."

"See, you always feel better when you kill something evil."


Chapter 4

"Buffy? Your sister is seriously disturbed," Wood tells her.

"And she's a huge perv too" adds Rona helpfully.

"These wild fantasies, not being real, " he tells Buffy, with concern on his face. "I've seen kids before, construct these wild fantasy lives. I don't know if your friend Xander is just humoring her, or ..."

"She ah, actually isn't real" admits Giles.

"WHAT?" Faith explodes. "Giles you have to lay off those shrooms."

Giles gives Faith a perfectly appalled look.

"That's actually true Faith," Willow chimes in.

"She's this thing called the key, some mystical energy. The monks, they created her in human form and sent her to me." Buffy tells Faith with a sheepish look. She looks downward. "I thought she'd gotten over that by now."

"So she's adopted B?"

"Pretty much."

Andrew walks in. "Hey everybody. Just got back from the Comic book shop. You know Giles the comics over here are kinda thin. They didn't even have the latest issue of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and ..."

Giles cuts in, "Andrew will you for once in your life shut your mouth, you little prat!"

"OK." Andrew sits down as rapidly as possible.

Kennedy takes pity on him and tells him "Dawn's not real."

"Oh. That."

"What?" Rona explodes. "HE knew but we didn't?"

"I was gonna tell you guys. It just didn't seem important anymore." Buffy responds to Rona and the other slayers glares with more than a bit of defensiveness.

"Hey cut her some slack. Dawn was adopted when she was what, one or so?"

"Actually ..." Willow cuts in.

"Dawn's only about three now," Buffy completes the thought.

"What? Are you high? Dawn's seventeen!" Faith isn't buying.

"See, that's the thing, the monks created her at fourteen."

"Buffy I met the brat when I first came to Sunny D.

She was always tagging along with you, even at twelve."

"It was a spell," Buffy's a bit apologetic. "False memories."

"Wait a minute," Wood holds up his hands. "Let me get this straight. Three years ago you suddenly got a fourteen year old sister, and no one asked any questions?"

"Well, not really. And then there was this hell God Glory, who was after Dawn. And I died."

"What?" Faith and the other Slayers are aghast.

"But, I resurrected you, and then you were kinda down, and Spike, and then better, but then hey, all with the evil scary Willow end the world stuff, but then, hey and again with better, and then, well Sunnydale go boom," Willow babbles.

"Did anyone understand any of that?" Wood asks.

"I did" says Andrew. "It was wicked cool. Well except for the part where Willow tried to kill Jonathon and me."

"Yeah, you killed Jonathon on your own," is Willow's retort.

"But I'm real sorry about it," is Andrew's reply. "And anyways, it was the First who made me do it. I didn't kill you and all the girls now did I when it asked later? Huh? What about that?" The slayers look at Andrew a bit worried. This was something they hadn't known.

"Andrew, shut up." says Giles with even more irritation. And glares at him.

"OK." Andrew wilts under Giles stare.

"So who here isn't a murderer?" asks Wood disapprovingly.

"Well, there's me. And Dawn. And Xander. So far I think. Oh! and You." Buffy answers a bit too brightly.

"Unless there's something I don't know about."

"So wait a minute," Vi asks. "How much of Dawn's little psychotic rant isn't true?"

"Well, I'd say pretty much most of it," says Buffy. "I mean, aliens, Pancho Villa? Come on."

"Ah Buffy ... " Willow starts to say.

"They did fight aliens, at least Dawn said they did.

And we met Pancho Villa," Kennedy finishes for her.

"He was kinda, earthy," Willow muses. "Definitely not the First Buffy. Believe me I'd know."

"And you were gonna tell me exactly WHEN that my little sister was going nuts, and fighting ALIENS? With Xander? What the hell, Will?"

"Buffy, we figured it was over and done with. And like, Aliens? Not too unusual for us now," is Willow's response.

"Safer than vampires" says Kennedy. "Its not like Dawn has any power. And what good is a slayer against a UFO?"

"But Dawn's wrong, about the Slayer, right?" asks Vi in a very worried voice. "I mean, we're not all gonna turn into monsters are we?" And as she says this she's looking right at Buffy, along with the other girls.

Faith looks again at her hands, then to Buffy, musing.

"Buffy, when you went back to the men who created the slayer, what did you see?" Wood asks intently.

"Well, they DID try and put a demon in me. But I stopped them."

"And you were gonna share THAT little tidbit when B?"

Faith's voice is bitter, cracking. "We all had a right to know. All of us."

"That's just Dawn, Faith. I mean, she's a lunatic. She doesn't have any power, and she's jealous. Of us. The important ones," Kennedy interjects. "I'm sorry Buffy but it's true. Dawn tells herself these little stories to make herself important. And everyone else look bad while she's the hero."

"God B. She thinks Spike raped you." Faith is pitying her. "Dawn's messed up."

"Buffy ... " Willow starts, looking a bit concerned.

"About that night?"

"What Will?"

"When were all at the Bronze? You DID go up to the balcony."

Buffy gives Willow a cold hard stare. "That's NONE of your business Will."

"Oh my god Buffy, " Willow's angry and appalled. "Are we just like animals to you? I mean in front of us?"

"That only happened a couple of times Will. And it's none of your business. That's personal and private."

"Not if you do it in front of me, it sure as hell isn't."

Vi, Rona, Faith, and Kennedy all exchange looks. So far Dawn's been accurate. Too accurate. For their comfort. Robin's getting a bit testy, thinking on Dawn's words about Faith and Spike. He moves slightly away from Faith.

Willow's mouth is set in a hard, angry line. "Did he rape you Buffy? Right before Tara was shot? I mean really? You on the floor, Xander so mad. Spike storming out?"

"He knew it was wrong Will. That's why he went to get a soul. And I stopped him."

"OH MY GOD!" Rona's voice hits the ceiling. "You let that THING in the house with us? That thing raped you and you let it in with us?"

"Buffy, how could you?" Willow's angry and sick.

Faith looks at Buffy, full of pity. This hurts Buffy the most. "Gee B. No wonder she hates you so much."

Robin's looking at Buffy with pure venom. "That's the guy you let walk around, the thing that raped you and killed my mother." His voice is low, dangerous. "I thought I'd seen every kind of evil in the world. I guess I was wrong. No wonder your sister is insane."

Without a word, Giles looks at Buffy and his hands snap his glasses in half. Hands trembling with anger, Giles leaves the room, slamming the door on his way out.

"Lotta things breaking around here, " Faith jokes desperately. "Too bad Xander isn't around to fix it."

"He didn't rape me, " Buffy protests. "And he knew it was wrong. He has a ..."

Rona lunges across the table, grabs Buffy by the shirt she's wearing. "If I hear one word about Soul I'm going to pound you until you break."

"Whoa whoa whoa," Faith steps in. "Time out." She pulls Rona off Buffy who's close to tears. "Everyone's tense. Let's chill for a bit. Think things out. OK?"

"Is Dawn going to kill us?" asks Vi, who's now crying. "Are we all gonna die or turn into monsters?"

"No, well, maybe, if Dawn's like Colonel Santini in Stormwatch. That's a really cool comic where a bunch of commando guys kill super powered beings. Or maybe she's like RAFFERTY who killed a lot of super powered beings with a knife. That was sooo cool. Or maybe she'll use bombs." Andrew's about to go on when Rona hits him (gently) on the head.

"Ow! That hurt."

"It'll hurt even more if you don't shut up."

"OK. Geez."

Some of the younger girls are starting to cry. No one's willing to look at Buffy.

"B. You better go talk to Giles. I don't think anyone wants you around here for now."

Buffy nods, and leaves to find Giles. As she does, Rona adds "Tell Dawn nice going on the morale front."

Kennedy, Rona, Vi, Faith, and Robin have the girls calmed down, and headed back to their rooms so the others can discuss things privately, while Willow sits alone, musing. Wondering. If everything Dawn said was destined to be true. Her power, that she wanted so much, Kennedy, everything. Would it all turn to dust.

As the girls retreat, and only a few are left to discuss Dawn and Xander, Wood catches Faith's eye.

"I want to know."

"About what Robin?" Faith asks.

"Did you ... did you try to kill Xander? When he ..."

Faith looks down a bit, then decides the hell with it.

"Yeah. I did. You knew who I was when we started this."

"Were you ever sorry?"

Faith snorts, "Why would I be? He was just some guy.

Nothing special. He's alive isn't he? Isn't that enough?"

"And Spike? How special was he?"

Faith's turning a bit white. Robin's VERY angry. And hurt. She's never seen him this way. "Hey, don't be that way. I was just pushing B's buttons. That's all.

Easy to do. And fun. Look at Dawn."

"So you got it on with the THING that murdered my mother?" Robin spits out the words. "And here I thought you were special. Different. Better. Than HER.

You're just the same. No difference at all."

Faith's deflated, and sputtering, "I didn't. Please.

Don't be that way. It was just a thing."

"And I want your things out of my room. By tonight."

Robin stalks away.

"OK, new one for me. I just got called Buffy. As an insult." Faith turns, in solace, with eyes suspiciously red, to the library. And pulls volumes from the shelves, starting to read. Desperately researching.


Buffy enters Giles study, slowly. Quietly.


Giles is sitting behind his desk. The room is small, close, cluttered with books, several teapots stained with last weeks tea, and a few scattered crackers.

He's reading a very dusty book with a thick red leather binding.

He looks up at Buffy, his other pair of glasses perched precariously on his nose. Clear, focused.


"What is it you want?"

"Giles I ... "

"Yes? I'm pressed for time."

Buffy's trying to figure things out. "You and ...

Anya? Was Dawn right? I mean ..."

Giles is beet red. "You of all people have no right to judge. No right at all."

"I didn't mean, I meant to say I was sorry if it was true. Sorry." She pauses. "For your loss."

"Well, that's two of my ... that you managed to get killed."

Buffy starts to protest, sees Giles face, and stops.

Her shoulders slump. Her posture shows utter defeat.

"I'm sorry."

"Well, a fat lot of good that will do. When you get to be my age, when you look in the mirror and see your whole life has passed you by, when you have nothing, and your vampire boyfriends have moved on for a younger, prettier girl, I hope someone says to you, 'I'm sorry.' Because it'll do as much good."

"Why are you so angry at me?"

"Because you got her killed."


"Yes. Anya. She was often the most annoying, obnoxious, and rude person I've ever encountered. Then she'd say something, sweet and funny. And kiss me.

God help me I loved her. And you got her killed. All for nothing."

"Giles it was war!"

"Did it ever occur to you that perhaps, just perhaps there was a reason for all the things the Council did? That you were not the fount of all wisdom?"

"You went along with it."

"I was afraid of what your other plans might have been. They've worked out so well over the years."

"We're all still alive."

"Not all of us."

Buffy's silent after that. There's nothing she can say.

"I'm sorry."

Giles closes his book. "So am I."

"Do you think Dawn's right?"

"I'm not certain. She might be." Giles scholarly interest is aroused. "The words she used, Sword of the Earth, Protector, Defender, and the link, to Pancho Villa. It's possible she may have been selected."

"Selected? Selected for what?"

Giles pauses, "There are certain heroes, millennial heroes, such as King Arthur, Sigmund, Beowulf, and a few others. In some cases they held back the forces of darkness. In others, they ushered in a new age. Dawn might be one of those. Or she might be terribly, horribly, ... insane."

"Giles, I need to get back there. I need to talk to Dawn. Before she does something stupid."

"I agree."

"I have to leave, now."

"I was going to suggest it."

"Giles, I ... " Buffy pauses, "I don't have any money.

Can I borrow some for a plane ticket? I swear I'll pay you back."

Giles leans back in his chair. "Buffy, you've always been like a daughter to me. Or perhaps, " he muses, thinking on times gone by, "a wayward neice."

Buffy smiles. All is right with her world.

"But, " Giles continues, "I've taught you all I need to know."

"Giles, " Buffy protests. "I'm sorry about that but you and Robin went behind my back."

"And I'm going in front of it now. You're not welcome here anymore Buffy. The Council, all it's resources, all our help ... it's closed to you. Forever. I'm going to have to ask you to leave. At once."

"Giles ... "

"Buffy, one more thing. I'm sworn to protect these girls. These girls who never had a chance or a choice, that perhaps you made into monsters. If that prat Xander, or Dawn, try to hurt any of them, I'll kill them. Without hesitation or mercy. Just as I killed Ben."

"God Giles. How can you say that? And Ben? You killed him?"

"Yes I killed him. To protect you. And the others.

Remember my warning Buffy. Now get out."


At the airport lobby, close to the gates, Buffy, Willow, and Kennedy are lounging around. People are busy, going to various gates. Some running, some strolling, all moving purposefully around the three who are sprawled, waiting, for the boarding announcement.

"I can't thank you enough Ken, " Buffy says, "for loaning me the money."

"I didn't do it for you Buffy, " Kennedy responds a bit sullenly. "I did it for Willow. And because I want to see an alien. Never seen one."

"Oh they're not that remarkable. Believe me. I've seen them." An elderly gentlemen with an educated, but indecipherable accent tells them. He's dressed in a black suit, one that's seen better days. A battered homburg hat conceals the shock of white hair peeking about from the brim, and his hair that shows is a bit unkempt, uncut. He projects an air of shabby, but comfortable gentility. And has amazingly gentle blue eyes. Like Dawn's Buffy thinks.

"Excuse me sir, but we're having a private conversation, " Buffy tells him.

"It's very rude" offers Willow.

"Ah, but there was nothing private about activating all those slayers Miss Rosenberg. Every cheap psychic, charlatan, television huckster, and palm reader felt that. And the REAL talented ones, well you might as well have given out your address, phone number, and social security number. Everyone knows Willow Rosenberg and Buffy Summers. Well, everyone that matters."

"The FIRST" all three girls exclaim, and Buffy and Kennedy take up battle stances while Willow starts chanting. The elderly gentlemen is amused, and takes out what to Willow's disgust are revealed to be several dried snakes.

"Oh I'm not the First. Definitely not that. Snake?" He offers Willow, Kennedy, and Buffy each a dried snake, totally unmoved by their hostile stances. "You may stop that now, Miss Rosenberg," and with a wave of his hand Willow stops chanting. "It's very annoying."

Looking at their faces, he offers an explanation "It's merely ah ... a dried water snake, cured with beneficial herbs. It calms the nerves, and soothes the soul. Are you sure you won't try one?" He asks.

Willow manages "God no."

"Ah well then" and he puts the others in his suit coat pocket, and taking his remaining snake puts it in his mouth, focuses a bit, and the end catches fire. He puffs on the head of the dried snake and draws some smoke. "Ah. That's better." He looks at their astonishment, as a policemen draws near, attracted by the smoke. The man looks at the officer, and suddenly the entire terminal comes to a halt. Everyone's frozen. In mid motion. Even the smoke hangs in the air, motionless.

"What the ..."

"Language Miss Summers. Allow me to introduce myself, I'm ..."

"Pancho Villa!" Buffy exclaims. Happy to have guessed she thinks right.

The man laughs, and shakes his head. "No Miss Summers.

Francisco Villa is known to me, but let me assure you I am not he."

"How do you know our names, " Kennedy asks.

"I know a great many things about a great many people, Kennedy, without ever actually having met them. I ...

prefer it that way." He looks at their confusion. "I am an agent, for well the Earth, not to put too fine a point on it. I'm here, well because I was asked."

"Huh?" Buffy asks. Great Buffy she thinks. God I hate these ghosts. "I kicked your ass the last time, remember."

"Sadly Miss Summers, I don't. Because I wasn't there.

I'm not the First. If Miss Rosenberg thinks hard, I'm sure she can guess ONE of my names. This is my home, after all."

"Not ... " Willow's breathless. "Oh my god, not ...


"No. I am neither god. Nor his son. Though I have met both upon occasion." Seeing their faces he amends "My little joke."

"You're Merlin" Willow's accusation hangs heavy.

"As I said, one of my names."

"What? We're needed? Again? To save the world? Fight evil?" Buffy asks. While Kennedy leans on Willow, Merlin not being a person or being that she ever wanted to meet. Recalling some of the less savory stories her father told her.

"More like cleaning up your mess," Merlin tells her.

"Don't worry. They'll explain everything. But we must hurry. They're impatient."

"Huh" is Buffy's reply again, but it's lost in a torrent of wind and rain, and suddenly ... they are all standing in sunshine. At Kingman's Bluff. Outside Sunnydale. By the sea. And they don't like what they see.

Willow, standing in front of Proserpexia's temple, still standing, is drawing power from the earth. She's older, a bit more scarred, and even veiner and scarier than ever. She's facing Dawn, whose face is bloody, and dressed in elegant Prada skirt and blouse, nylon stockings. All shredded by some great force. Dawn's hair is shoulder length, dark now, and her face full of determination. Dawn's past thirty, beautiful, and dangerous. Just not as dangerous as the Willow facing her. Her opponent stops feeding energy into the temple, and nods to the new arrivals, including her younger doppleganger.

"I knew you'd come, " she says. "I wanted you to see this."

"Willow, you can still stop this. You have all the power." Dawn yells at Willow through the wind.

"I wasn't talking to you, bitch, " Willow casually tosses a bolt of energy towards Dawn that glances off her, staggering Dawn to her knees. "I was talking to them, " she points to the new arrivals.

"Willow, there's no one there, " Dawn yells. "Please stop this and let's go home. I can fix this I promise."

"Too late, " Willow yells. "I went ahead and did it myself. How do you like how I fixed things?" She points and a dead body, powered by zombie forces, staggers forward. It's Kennedy. Willow gestures, and the corpse dances, like a puppet who's had half the strings cut.

Kennedy screams. And screams. And screams.

Willow's dark, veiny doppelganger laughs "You'll never leave me now. Not ever Ken." as she smiles at Kennedy.

"We'll always be together."

Willow, gathering her courage tells her dark duplicate, "I'm going to stop you, by the Goddess" and steps towards her doppelganger. And passes right through her.

"Ooops. Guess he forgot to tell you?" Dark Willow smirks.

"Dawn!" Buffy yells. "Dawn over here! Come to me." But Dawn doesn't hear her sister, nor see her.

"You always thought you were better than me, didn't you?" Dark Willow yells at her younger counterpart.

"But I've always been here. I'm always here, waiting to get out. And now I'm out baby. Boy am I out. Hey I made a joke. Good for me."

"Willow, if you don't stop, I'm going to have to kill you." Dawn shouts.

Suddenly calm, Dark Willow changes for a bit. Becomes a bit calmer. "I know" she replies. Then changes back, becomes even wilder. "But first I want to have some fun."

Dawn raises the gun she's holding in her right hand, and levels it at Willow. "I'm sorry Will" she shouts.

"I'm not" screams Dark Willow. "And I always was a breast girl." She gestures, and Dawn's shirt is torn open, gestures again and there is a horrific red flash, Dark Willow smiles. And holds Dawn's severed right breast in her hands. "And look, see here's yours." She smiles.

Buffy, Willow, and Kennedy SCREAM in unison with Dawn, who falls to her knees.

"Looks like I win Dawnie" says Dark Willow.

But Dawn, holding her right arm across her bleeding chest, reaches back behind her with her left hand, and grasps a revolver taped to the small of her back. From her knees she levels it swiftly and says softly "Thanks Francisco." And fires three shots. All into Dark Willow's head. Buffy screams again, and suddenly ....

The wind stops. The rain stops. They still smell the sea. But the air is calm. Clean. And fresh. Vi is looking at them. With concern.

"What in the hell?" Buffy manages to get out. Rounding and grabbing Merlin by the lapels of his shabby black suit jacket, she manages to get out with great difficulty "We're going back there. To save my sister.


"Buffy? God Buffy is that you? And Will? Ken?"

The three are overwhelmed by a crying, STRONG Vi who's hugging them, kissing them, and pulling them off Merlin.

"God I'm glad you're here. Especially now. She told me you were coming."

"What? Vi, you're all ..." Kennedy starts.

"Older." Says Willow. Shaken to the core by what she's seen.

"I am older. I understand why you're here. Even if you don't. She told me you were coming. Not with words, she's not good with them any more. But with the pictures. She's still good with that."

"We don't have much time ladies, " Merlin interrupts.

"Shouldn't we see her?"

"Addie was here earlier today. She got her cleaned up a little. Addie always makes her calmer. And she likes playing with Addie. And of course I'm here. I'm really the only one besides Addie who's strong enough to handle her now."

"Who's Addie?" Buffy asks, as they climb up a series of hills and find themselves on a very small, windswept but warm island. All alone in the wide deep sea.

"Oh, that's Addison St. James. The alien? Remember? Oh wait, maybe it hasn't happened yet."

"The alien. That's what she calls herself. God knows why," Vi replies. "Addie saps her power, and I'm strong. Probably the strongest. It's good you came now," she continues. "She's better midday. When the sun is strongest. And even I wouldn't want to be here at night. She hunts at night." Vi shivers. "But she's doing well right now."

The group passes a swingset, a child's sandbox, some blocks, and scattered dolls. A few windswept shacks complete the scene.

A hunched over figure moves towards them at frightening speed. Strange muscles play beneath the skin. She stops in front of the group, naked, hair already matted. She smiles a frightening smile, filled with far too many and very sharp teeth.

Buffy stares into her face. Her own face. Fifteen or twenty years older. And filled with a frighteningly savage joy.

"Buffff ...... ie" her older doppelganger stutters out. "Bufffffy." She looks at Willow, then Kennedy, then back to Willow again. "Will .... oh." Tears fall down her face. And she squats down and hugs Willow, gently.

"That's good Buffy. Good hugs. Good hugs." Vi strokes her newly matted hair. "She won't wear clothes anymore. She fights too much. And there's no one else here so we don't bother."

Vi sighs and says, "She doesn't get any other visitors besides me and Addie. Everyone else is too scared of her, and frankly she's dangerous." She smiles sadly.

"But she's good today."

Vi bends down to look at Buffy's primitive, strangely distorted older double. "Buffy, you have your visitors. Don't you want to show them something?" At that, the older Buffy scampers away in a crawling, ape-like gait at astonishing speed, and returns with a drawing and two dolls.

One doll is a man, with an eye patch and dark hair.

The other is a girl, dark shoulder length hair, with blue eyes. The older Buffy thrusts the crudely drawn picture, done in crayon, at Buffy. "Look" she tells her.

"That's very good Buffy, " Vi gives her praise. Like one would give an especially clever dog. The older Buffy picks up a brush from the ground, and starts combing the dolls hair. First the male doll, then the female doll.

Buffy looks at the picture. It shows a house, with a man having crudely drawn dark hair standing next to it. He has only one eye, and an X where his other left eye should be. He's holding the hand of a girl with dark hair, who in turn is holding the hand of a smaller girl with blonde hair.

The older Buffy looks at her younger double and says, with great difficulty due to the extra teeth in her mouth, "save them. Save them. Dawnie. Xand-er. Save them. Love them."

Vi's eyes are tearing. She tells the older Buffy "That's good Buffy. Very good. You did good. Good Buffy." The older misshapen Buffy smiles her horrible smile at this and cuddles and hugs her dolls.

"Xand-er. Dawnie. Love. Love them." She kisses both dolls.

"Oh god," Buffy says. "What happened to me? This is me right? The future?"

"What will happen to all of us Buffy, " Vi says.

"Except for me. I stopped slaying a long time ago. And I took up smoking." She lights up a cigarette. "Any luck, I'll drop dead of a heart attack, or lung cancer before this."

Vi, older, even more beautiful, and certainly radiating tremendous power, looks up at Buffy.

"It's not your fault. Nobody's blaming you. We just got tricked." Vi continues. "I just feel bad for her, well, for you since eventually ..."

She stops. "I just don't know who will take care of her when I'm gone."

Willow asks, "What about, what about Dawn? I mean did I?"

"Oh god no Willow. I mean yeah, you hurt her a lot, I mean what you did ..." Vi peters off. "But everyone understood, it wasn't really you. I mean, not really.

You helped a lot of people. Before."

"No," Vi continues, as they walk towards a fenced off plot, "Buffy doesn't really understand a lot of things. She forgets how strong she is. Only a really strong slayer or Addie, sapping her strength is OK around her. And Addie's talking about leaving again."

The group continues walking, and as they move close they see it's a graveyard. With a single headstone.

It reads "Dawn Summers. Hero. Friend. Devoted Wife.

She saved the World. A Lot. 1986-2019."

Vi continues, "One day Dawn wanted to leave early.

There was a storm coming. Buffy wanted her to stay, and of course that was impossible. She's just too ...

feral at night. She hugged Dawn so tight, she ... she ..." Vi breaks off. "She didn't understand what she did. She doesn't know that Dawn's gone. She cries for her a lot. Tries to ask why she's not coming. When she can talk."

Vi pats the older Buffy on the head, who is hugging her dolls. "Dawnie" she says as she rocks her dolls.

"And on the lighter side of things, if the cigarettes don't work, I've got Dawn's arsenal. Figure one of her hand cannons she loved so much would do the job. Blow my head off. I'm NOT," she adds, "ending up like that." Glancing at Buffy she amends "No offense."

"Can we stop this?" Buffy asks Merlin.

"Some things yes, " Merlin replies, "And some things, no." And with that, the scene shifts yet again, suddenly.

They are back at the airport. The motion of everything around them still frozen.

"The problem is, " Merlin continues, "Some things once set in motion cannot be denied."

"Does that mean I'm gonna ... DO that to Dawn?" Willow asks in horror.

"Will I ... become that? Kill my sister?"

"Most probably yes, " answers Merlin. "But that's unfortunately not the issue."

"What. In the hell. Do you mean?" spits out Kennedy, words coming from her mouth in horror and rage.

"Ah this is going to be difficult."

"Then explain," demands Buffy.

"Very well. You are of course familar with the story of King Arthur?"

"Yes" Willow tells him.

"Arthur, Sigmund, and a lot of other heroes, they held back the darkness, when they were needed most. But this era, it needed a different kind of hero. One that would bring light where darkness was before. So it was decided ..."

"Who decided?" interrupts Buffy. "Some group of men in a smoky club?"

Merlin laughs. "No of course not. It was the Earth that decided. As she always does. I CERTAINLY wasn't consulted. Dawn Summers wasn't my idea of a hero.

Though others thought differently." He pauses, to puff once more on his snake, the tail rapidly diminishing.

"It was felt that a well, smarter sort of hero was needed. No more brute force smash and bash. Given the threats. And the danger if they weren't stopped soon enough. Thus Dawn, your sister, was given the mantle."

"My sister."

"Yes. Why do you think the monks made her human? And a girl? They could have made her a bicycle chain and hid her in the bottom of a well in Honduras. Glory would never have found her. But Dawn was needed. For this."

"But I'm the slayer, " Buffy interjects, and quickly adding "one of them, anyway."

"And the time of the slayers is over. Oh they'll still be around. But as you see, more menace than anything else. No, a new day is drawing. One filled with light, that will extinguish the darkness forever. End all the threats, the demons, the vampires, and ... other things."

"You mean end magic forever?" Willow asks with concern and hope.

"Good lord no. Nothing is forever, and there will always be dark things, lurking about in certain corners of the world. Or beneath beds or in children's closets, for that matter. You cannot erase the darkness of the human heart." Merlin snorts, and adds "I'm sure the human race will invent something even worse than vampires. Eventually. But that will be for another hero besides Dawn to sort out."

"Then why did you show us all that?" Buffy demands.

"If we can't stop it?"

"I didn't say it couldn't be altered. Just not denied.

No, the problem is fear. Dawn's fear."

"Huh?" Buffy asks.

"Dawn, she was so brave, " Willow's admiration is clear.

"But she can see what will happen, and it terrifies her," Merlin adds.

"She SAW that?" Buffy asks in horror. "You LET her see that?"

"She did NOT see that exactly, " Merlin huffs, "and I hardly would have shown it to her. But she's a smart girl. Too smart. She could work out what would happen.

She could ... imagine. And fill in with her fears what logic and reason could not."

"Oh my god." Buffy's horrified. "Dawn knows ..."

"That sooner or later she will have to put you away somewhere. You've been too active a slayer for that not to happen. The best you can do is delay what will inevitably come."

"Am I, am I going to become what I saw?" asks Willow.

"Most probably yes," answers Merlin sadly. "Power always has it's price. That is something I know intimately."

"Then, then, what's the use ... " Willow replies, as Kennedy looks at her and Buffy, wondering.

"You can help people, well before that happens. Most especially Dawn. And Xander."

"Xander? What about Xander?" Buffy asks.

"He was supposed to make Dawn better. And she in turn would make him better. However, " Merlin sighs, "We did not anticipate her interest in him. Nor that it would be returned, but with guilt and self hatred.

Instead of making each other better, they are making each other worse." He looks at them "It's not our fault. We can hardly know everything."

"But what does that have to do with the slayer?" asks Kennedy.

"Nothing whatsoever, " is Merlin's reply. "This is about Dawn, and her, for want of a better term, squire Xander. They are becoming exactly the sort of heroes we don't want. The Earth doesn't need someone to hold back the darkness. That time is over. The Earth needs someone to bring the light."

"So what do you want us to do?" asks Buffy.

"Fix them. She's your sister, and he's your friend.

You made them this way. The earth wants you to clean up your mess."

"And?" Kennedy asks.

"Perhaps things about the margins can be changed. Some things are not certain. Others, written in stone."

"How am I going to ... what am I going to say to her?"

Buffy asks Merlin.

"Tell her a story," Merlin says. "And you'll need this." He hands her a Comic Book.

"Fantastic Four?" Buffy reads the bright cover. "A comic book? You're Merlin, you take me to the ghost of christmas future, and you give me a comic book to fix things? What are you, Andrew?"

"Do not ignore it's power. Artists, writers, poets, and others. They are aligned with the future. The bright new day your sister can bring. It is more powerful than any of my magics."


"Miss, miss." Buffy awakes with a start, as the gate agent gently shakes her. "They're calling boarding now for your flight." Willow and Kennedy also awake with a sudden start.

"Buffy. Oh my god, I had the worst nightmare, about well ..." Willow trails off.

Kennedy stares at her. "Was that how you were, the last time. When you nearly ended the world?"

"Oh my god, did you have the same dream, Ken?"

Willow's asking.

Kennedy angrily points to the comic book in Buffy's hand. "Yes. Right down to seeing you at your most insane, and Buffy here ..." she trails off.

"You saw it too, " Buffy whispers.

"We have to get to Dawn." Willow concludes.

They hurriedly board the plane, Buffy clutching the comic book, hoping Reed Richards will come to life and help her save her sister.

Chapter 5

"Well, we've decided," Faith continues, "but it's not up to us alone."

"That's right. You all must decide in turn. The final decision is, and must be, entirely in your hands,"

Giles finishes for her.

They are all in the central conference room. The table and phone set that Buffy slew earlier still sitting in the middle of the room, and uncomfortable reminder of what Dawn said, and Buffy's departure.

"What are you guys talking about?" Vi wants to know.

"It's about you," Robin Wood tells them. "It's always going to be about you now."

"Is Dawn going to kill us?" a younger slayer asks. "I don't want her to kill us!"

"Andrew," Giles looks sternly at Andrew. "Have you been talking to the girls?"

"Well, I was just talking about Punisher kills the Marvel Universe. How cool it was that a guy with no powers killed even Dr. Doom. And how Dawn could go totally ninja like Electra, or Shi, and ..." Andrew tails off noting the glares from Giles, Robin, and more significantly Faith. Faith still scares him.

"I'll shut up now."

"That would be real smart Andrew," Faith tells him.

"I want to know," Rona insists. "Are we all gonna turn into monsters, like Dawn said?" Unspoken is the question ... and become like Buffy is now? "Thats ... debatable" Giles answers.

"But we just don't know yet," Faith interrupts.

"Maybe. And maybe not. I'm not saying that I'm not a different person, well since I wasn't on the 100% slay cycle. But maybe I just grew up."

"So we won't turn into monsters," Vi asks hopefully.

"I've seen all kinds of evil," Wood answers her.

Looking significantly at Faith he tells Vi, "It doesn't take magic to make someone evil." Looking at Andrew and back again at Vi he finishes "Some people can do it all on their own."

"Hey! That wasn't my fault. It was the First and besides Warren promised me ..."

"That what, you'd kill your best friend, and everything would be OK?"

"Yeah, sorta" Andrew replies sullenly. "You make everything sound ..."

"Evil?" Woods asks.

"Yeah, like that."

"We are who are," Giles says. "And what we become, well we always have choices."

"And that's why we're talking to you," Faith concludes. "So you can choose. Yourselves. Finally."

"But what about the Council," asks Andrew. "What about them?"

"This is the Council," Giles answers. "Everyone in this room."

"Everyone," continues Faith. "That is, if you all want it."

"This was Faith's idea," Giles tells the group. "So perhaps Faith, you'd better explain it."

"Did a lot of reading in prison," Faith begins. "You all know that. And why I was there."

Wood looks at her, gaze unhalting. Faith returns it, unashamed of who and what she is.

"And I read a lot of history. All kinds. Including war stuff."

"Oh, like Civil War stuff? Warren, Jonathon and me, we used toy soldiers to re-enact Civil War battles. One time we won the battle of Gettysburg for the South by having the Confederates use AK 47's and lasers and Darth Vader and Bobba Fett. And one time ..."

Andrew cools off when Faith leans over and puts her hands on his shoulder. "I'm shutting up right now."

"Like World War Two stuff. Germans, Japanese, they kept their pilots in combat. All the time."

"Just like slayers," Vi says.

"Yeah. Just like us." Faith says. "That always bothered me. Cause the Americans, well they took their fighter pilots out of combat after a while. Brought em back home. And they taught new pilots how to fight and win. How to stay alive."

"There were other reasons why the Allies won the air war," Wood finishes. "But a big part of it was having a lot of experienced pilots ... passing on their wisdom. To other pilots."

"In the end," Faith concludes, "Most of the Japanese and German pilots had no training at all. They were just ... "

"Cannon fodder" Giles concludes.

"So even if what Dawn says is true," Wood says, "Slayers don't have to stay in the game forever. They become Watchers. They become the Council. Like you."

"Nobody else knows," Faith adds. "No one but us. What it's like. To have the power."

"And the responsibility," Robin adds. "That comes with power too."

"But we're not," Vi starts to say.

"What? Trained? Adults?" Faith responds.

"We know that," Giles says in support. "But we are all that's left."

"We have to stick together. And support each other."

Robin tells them.

"This is our only hope ... Obi Wan Kenobi." Andrew says dreamily.

"So we are asking you all to become Watchers," Giles says.

"We'll train you as best we can," Robin says.

"But we are gonna do things differently," Faith says.

"No more sending in the Slayer alone," Giles says with conviction. "Doomed to fight and die alone."

"Uh uh. We run into problems, we call for help," Faith says.

"And we all come together, " Robin tells the girls.

"To kick the living crap outta whatever is there."

Faith smiles as she says it.

"After a year, slayers are rotated into the Watchers,"

Giles amends.

"That means a lot of hard training," Robin tells them.

"Not all of it physical either. Learning how to research, read ancient texts, things like that."

"It's a difficult decision," Giles says. "I know from experience that you can get ... attached to the girl you're watching. Think of her as ... family. That can make things very hard."

"And you'll be responsible for her. You'll have her life in your hands. At all times." Faith's thoughtful.

"My first Watcher, she ... well she was caught by this vamp. An old one, real powerful. He tortured her for a long time. Trying to get her to give me up. She never did. He did ... awful things to her. He finally cut her in half. I saw it." Faith concludes, voice shaking a little. Despite himself Wood is drawn to her, instinctively seeing her not as the woman who found his mother's killer attractive, but a little girl in pain. He gives Faith a look of infinite compassion and moves closer to her, but Faith shakes off his gaze and moves away.

"You have to be willing to die for your slayer. She was."

"Can you make that sort of commitment?" Giles asks.

"If you can't ... hey no probs. We can set you up somewhere quiet. And you can be out." Faith tells them. "But we have to know."

"Who will be the Council though?" asks Rona. "Just you guys?"

"No," Faith tells them. "You don't get it. Every Watcher. That means, hopefully all of you guys. And the girls after you."

"So even if Dawn's theory is correct," Giles says.

"Being a slayer doesn't mean you have to turn into ..."

"Buffy?" Vi asks, and the room explodes into laughter.

"Yes, among other things, Buffy." Giles concludes. "I need a show of hands, for all who will be willing to take the risks and responsibilities, of being a Watcher."

Every hand goes up. Including Andrew's.

Giles voice is more understanding this time. "Andrew, I'm sorry. It's just that ..."

"You're not Watcher material," Robin tells him. "And it's as simple as that."

"But where will I go? I mean, I like taking orders.

I'm good at taking orders."

Faith sighs. "You can stay here. Just, I dunno. Make yourself useful."

"Cool. I can set up a computerized research system.

Demons, vampires and werewolves searchable by keyword.

Oh, and spells."

Giles blanches, then becomes sad. Remembering both Malloch and Jenny. "There will be no scanning of ANY books, nor any transcribing, without my express permission. Is that understood?"

"Yeah, gee, OK. I get it." Andrew adds a bit hurt.

"I'm quite serious Andrew. Books ... can be dangerous.

Many evil things can lurk in them. If you get anyone hurt I will throw you out to the wolves."

"OK. OK." Andrew throws up his hands.

"So, we're all Watchers now," Vi asks.

"Yes." Robin tells her.

"I don't feel any different," she tells him.

"Wait till you get your slayer," Giles tells her.

"When she starts to annoy you, or does something tremendously stupid, you will know you are a watcher."


Buffy, Willow, and Kennedy are seated on the plane.

They have an entire row to themselves. Willow hands Buffy a portable DVD player.

"Look what I got, Buffy."

"Cool. A DVD player. What movies did you bring, Wills?" Buffy asks.

Kennedy frowns. "THAT movie. It sucks." she says.

"Huh?" Buffy's not understanding why Kennedy is pissed. "What movie?"

"TAXI Driver," Willow says. "Since it's Dawn's favorite movie I think we should watch it."

"Isn't that the movie with Judd Hirsch?" Buffy asks.

"And that guy, the little guy. Danny Devito?"

"That's TAXI, Buffy," Kennedy is exasperated. "Taxi Driver was a movie. Taxi was a TV sitcom. Hello? Taxi Driver? DeNiro? Jodie Foster? Harvey Keitel?"

Buffy and Willow are looking slack jawed at Kennedy.

Like she's from another planet.

"My Dad knew Scorsese. I was GONNA go to NYU Film School. Before all this stuff," Kennedy waves her hands. "Hello, Martin Scorsese? Directed Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Last Temptation of Christ?" Kennedy sighs. "That movie with Leonardo DiCaprio? Gangs of New York?"

"Leo" Buffy and Willow both sigh in unison. "Leo."

Willow catches Kennedy's raised eyebrow. "Just cause I'm gay now ... doesn't mean I don't appreciate the Leo."

Kennedy snorts, "I've seen that movie. Not my kinda thing." She pauses. "Though Cybil and Jodie both looked mighty fine in Taxi Driver."

"God Ken. Jodie Foster is like ... forty years old."

Kennedy snorts again. "Enjoy the movie."

Buffy and Willow have a pair of headphones each. They start watching the movie. They are ... appalled at what they see. New York City. In the 1970's. Dirty.

Filthy. Times Square not filled with cheery, corporate stores, no Disney, ESPN, or MTV. Just crummy porno movie houses and street walkers openly plying their trade. Crime and corruption everywhere. And the man, the Taxi Driver. He's a ticking time bomb. Made oh so ever worse by the loneliness and isolation that New York City brings. By the time the bloody finale and aftermath are done, and the saxophone wails over the end credits, both girls are shaken.

"That's ..." Willow begins.

"Dawn's ... favorite movie," Buffy finishes. "My god Will."

"I mean, I knew she was unhappy Buff."

"But this ... it's ... horrible Will. I mean she thinks she's that guy."

"I know Buff. I mean, how could she think that way? She knows you love her."

Does she, Buffy wonders. Fully for the first time. My god she thinks. I pushed her away one too many. No wonder she turned into ... this. Buffy ponders that, and her visit to the nightmare future as she falls asleep.


"Buffy? Honey you can't sleep here. Not in this city."

Tara shakes Buffy awake. "It never sleeps."

"Huh?" Buffy asks. "Tara? Is that really you?" Buffy asks. "Or are you the first?"

Tara laughs. "Buffy I just touched you." She lays her hands on Buffy's shoulders. "And here I did it again."

Tara looks again at Buffy. "No honey I'm not the voice of the First Slayer either. The slayer can't live here."

"Where are we?"

"This is the city Buffy."

Buffy's confused. She and Tara are in what appears to the middle of a large city. But it's completely empty.

"Where? Where did the plane go? Willow? She's ..."

"Back on the plane Buffy. Willow can't live here either. This is just a place for humans, Buffy" Tara tells her, eyes filled with tears. "Willow couldn't come."

"But what city is this Tara?" Buffy wants to know.

"Where are all the people?"

"Once it was Memphis," Tara tells her, as suddenly the two find themselves in an ancient Egyptian city, the people around them garbed in flowing robes.

"And once it was Memphis," a man who looks strangely familiar tells them, carrying a guitar case, as Buffy looks around bewildered. The scene suddenly shifting to a what would appear to be the 1950's, the street sign saying Beale Street. "Thank you very much, Ma'am." the man with long sideburns says as Tara impulsively hugs him. And walks away.

"Was that ...?" Buffy asks.

"Yes it was Buffy," Tara says smiling. "I always loved him. Willow never understood. But Buffy, we have to see some people."

"People, what people?" Buffy asks as the scene suddenly shifts again, to a rather smelly cobblestone street, filled with horses and carriages. Two men are standing next to them, one is tall, dark, with a hawk-like face, eyes searching and piercing, long aquiline nose. He is dressed in somewhat formal but a bit ill-kempt black clothes, and has a black top hat on. The other man is shorter, of sturdy build and complexion, and radiates both compassion and sadness.

His dress is of moderate turn, neither too neat nor too unkempt, of good but not excellent quality. He is wearing a bowler hat, one that has seen perhaps better days.

"Your sister's tutors, of course," the taller man says. Drawing nearer to Buffy he peers intently into her face. "Once, she was a student of my methods."

"But sadly, no more. At least in spirit. And neither is her companion." the other man tells her with professional compassion.

"What, what are you talking about? Where are we?"

"You're in London Miss Summers," the tall man's companion tells her.

"See Buffy, sometimes the city is London." Tara finishes.

"It is not enough, Miss Summers," the taller man continues, "to be merely against something. One must be for something." He finishes with a touch of the dramatic, "I have always stood for justice."

"And now you must decide, what you stand for." his companion tells her.

"I'm the slayer, " Buffy tells them. "That's what I am." as she begins to get angry.

"Buffy ..." Tara begins.

"Magic. Demons. Witchcraft. The Slayer. The toys of children." The tall man's voice is cold with anger.

"They do not exist here."

"They have never existed here. This is for humans only." his companion tells her urgently.

"We built this city, Buffy. We ourselves. Alone. Only we live here," Tara gently takes her by the arm.

"One thought, Miss Summers," the tall man tells her.

"How many victims did you create when you allowed your monsters to run loose?"

Buffy's angry at being talked to this way. "I did what I thought best. I'm the chosen one. You're not."

The man leans into her, and for some reason Buffy can't explain she's afraid of him now. "Have a care, Miss Summers. A great care. You should not like to meet me again, if you choose wrongly."

"He can be a formidable opponent," his companion offers helpfully.

"We have to see ... them," Tara says sadly. And the two men turn and walk away rapidly from Buffy and Tara. Buffy turns around to look for Tara, and finds herself ....

In New York City. The cars on the street, the way people dress ... for Buffy it looks like the 1970's.

Tara is beside her, holding her hand.

"Buffy, you must be very careful here. You don't have any power here at all. And he does. He's very angry.

He's always angry. It's his city too."

They are at a crummy, run down apartment building, one that's seen better days back in the McKinley Administration. People are yelling at each other in Spanish. They walk up the stairs to the fourth floor.

Tara pushes open the door, and they walk into an apartment. One that is horrifyingly familiar to Buffy.

There's a figure sitting at a small, shabby second hand desk, writing in a journal, hunched over in that familiar US Marine jacket. The apartment is small, and shabby.

Dawn turns around and smiles at Buffy. She's reading what she's written in her journal.

"May 18th. Thank God for the rain, which has washed all the garbage off the streets. I'm working long hours now, but it keeps me real busy. From 6 in the evening to 6 in the morning, sometimes 8 or 10 in the morning. I can make three, three-fifty a week.

Sometimes even more when I do it off the meter."

Buffy shakes her head, but now it's Xander standing in the jacket, his two soft eyes reminding her of DeNiro.

Xander smiles, and continues reading from the journal.

"All the animals come out at night. Whores, skunk pussies, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies. Sick.

Venal. Someday a real rain's gonna come and wash all the scum off the street."

"I'm sorry Xan. I never wanted this to happen, " Buffy says with tears in her eyes. "I never wanted you to get hurt."

Xander looks at her, eyes sullen. "Of course you did.

That was the whole point."

"Xan, " Buffy begins, but Xander interrupts her.

"Are you talking to me?" he asks. "Are you talking to me? Well you must be talking to me because there's no one else the fuck here!" Xander extends his left arm, and a small pistol extends from his forearm into his hand.

"Xander, please," Buffy is crying. She blinks.

Xander's not there. It's Dawn.

"I believe one should be a person like other people,"

Dawn tells her looking at her journal. "But not indulge in morbid introspection."

Buffy looks around the apartment. Something has changed. She sees it. A poster. "Buffy for President."

With her face on it.

"Someday I'm going to get organized. Get it? Organized?" Xander tells her.

Dawn laughs, standing now beside Xander in the same jacket. "I have a lot of bad thoughts in my head."

"Please, please stop this, " Buffy pleads with them, and looks around for Tara. She's not there. She runs to the door. "Tara!" she calls out, and opens the door ...

To a taxi cab. Which she enters. Xander is driving.

"Where to Miss?" he asks.

Buffy says, "Breakfast."

The cab deposits her at a shabby lunchroom. She pays the fare, and enters the lunchroom. As she expected, Dawn and Xander are there. She slides into a booth where they are sitting, but they ignore her.

Xander's pouring sugar on top of the jam he's put on his toast. Dawn looks at that for a minute, and tells him "I'll have to go away for a while. I'm doing something for the government."

"I don't know who's crazier, you or me," Xander laughs.

"I want you to go away," Dawn continues. "You shouldn't be doing what you're doing. You should be having fun, kid stuff."

"The slayer takes good care of me," Xander protests.

"Is this taking good care of you," Dawn asks, as she touches lightly his eye patch. "Do you know what she called you? She called you a zeppo. A carpenter. A window fixer. Good only for Anya. You take Spike's leftovers."

"That was just talk," Xander is defensive. "The Slayer loves me."

"Bullshit. The slayer is the worst kind of scum. She's scum lower than scum." Dawn is emphatic. "Take the money. Go to Vermont."

"Why don't you come with me?" Xander asks.

"I've never been to one of those places," Dawn tells him. "I wouldn't fit in."

Buffy at this point is crying. She reaches down for her napkin, and suddenly finds herself in a hellish building, a long dark hallway. She sees Dawn approaching, with a mohawk haircut. Smiling. She pulls out her massive revolver, tells her "the forty four magnum is a monster," and Buffy starts screaming. And doesn't stop for a long time. Until the medics and police arrive. To find Dawn covered in her own and other's blood, Xander sitting next to her terrified.

Dawn laughing as she passes out, making a fake gun with her bare fingers and miming shooting herself in the head. Angel, Willow, Faith, Spike, and Giles all dead on the floor behind her. Covered in blood.

Stumbling out of the building, Buffy runs into Tara.

"Buffy, I told you this is his city too. Because we also built this city. Just us." Tara tells Buffy sadly. "Now we need to see him," she tells Buffy. Tara hails a taxi, and they climb into it.

Once again Xander is driving. "This city is like an open sewer. Sometimes I can't stand it. I can't take it any more. Who ever is in charge should just clean up the city. Get rid of all the garbage," he tells them.

They arrive in a cleaner, brighter part of town. It's early morning. The sun shines brightly, and Buffy and Tara seem oddly to cast no shadows, though others do.

"Baxter Building." Dawn tells them from the drivers seat.

"Pay the driver Buffy," Tara tells her as they get out.

Xander looks straight at Buffy, and tells her as she gives him money. "In the morning, when I turn the cab in, I have to clean up the cab. Most mornings I clean the cum off the back seat." Buffy shudders as it's again Dawn behind the wheel who finishes the thought, "some mornings I clean off the blood." Dawn pops some pills and the taxi drives away.

Buffy and Tara stride into the lobby of the Baxter Building.

"You have to be careful with him too," Tara says. "In some ways he's even more dangerous than Travis."

They pass by a knot of TV cameras and reporters. A large, orange skinned monster of a man is giving an interview to fawning reporters. One reporter asks him "What's it like, Mr. Grimm, to be the idol of millions?"

Tara and Buffy approach the desk. April is there, smiling her empty smile.

"Hello Buffy. You're here to see Mr. Fantastic. Go right on up," she gestures.

Buffy and Tara take an elevator, and exit at the last stop. The penthouse suite.

They enter the lavishly appointed suite, with it's commanding views of the city. A tall man clad in a blue jumpsuit, with white hair at his temples, is talking to an attractive woman in her mid thirties.

Another man in a business suit is next to them, taking notes on a pad of paper. Tara and Buffy approach the man, who greets them warmly.

"Hello. I'm Reed Richards. You know my wife, Susan Storm. Thank you for coming Miss Summers. I've looked forward to meeting you for some time."

Chapter 6

"OK, this is just too weird," Buffy tells Reed Richards. "Aren't you supposed to be fighting some bad guy?"

"That's not until Tuesday," Reed tells her. "But I'm glad you're here. Allow me to introduce my publicist, Mr. Martin Hopkirk."

"Hullo," the short, somewhat puzzled man tells her.

"Marty Hopkirk, Randall and Hopkirk Media Relations Ltd."

"The best on either side of the Atlantic," Reed tells her approvingly.

"I still don't know, Mr. Richards, why exactly I'm here," Hopkirk continues. "Why exactly do you need our firm?"

"Well, you DID book Susan on the Today show for tomorrow, didn't you?"

"Yes of course, that was easy. They'll be sending a limo for you at 4 am Ms Storm," Hopkirk directs this last to Susan Storm, who smiles briefly. "Leno, Letterman, Kimmel, Roseanne, and Ellen all want you too."

"Book Letterman and Ellen," she tells him. "I'm NOT flying out to the West Coast. And I hate Roseanne."

"Alright," Hopkirk says with hesitation.

"See," Reed takes Buffy aside. "How important these things are. It's all in the details."

"What about," Susan asks with an edge to her voice, "the National Association of Aeronautical Engineers? You were supposed to get me the keynote address. My collision avoidance system can save thousands of lives. I worked months on it. All the testing, the work. It should be the keynote addres. Why haven't you," she pauses and says intently "done your job!"

Hopkirk recoils from the intensity of her words and gaze.

"Mrs ..." he stammers.

"It's MS. STORM," Susan tells him acidly. "I'm not Richards." She shoots Reed a dirty look.

Buffy's confused. Reed tells her in a whisper, "not THIS fight again."

"Ms. Storm, it's just that it's well, easier to book you for talk shows. The people love you, especially women. You're a role model for them. Wife, mother, superhero," Hopkirk says rapidly. "You're what every woman wants to be. But the professional societies, well, it's because you're a celebrity. They don't want a media circus."

"Because I'm a freak!" Susan says bitterly.

"He didn't say that honey," Reed responds rapidly.

"And you're not a freak."

"Oh really," Susan looks at Buffy. "I'm even a bigger freak than her."

Susan wipes her arm with a handkerchief, and looks acidly at Reed. Instantly, part of her arm vanishes.

"At least she doesn't have to wear full body makeup just to be SEEN." Susan tells Reed. Looking at Buffy she asks, "When do you think was the last time I went to the beach? Or even wore shorts?"

"They don't know," Reed tells Buffy. "Susan's invisible all the time."

"Am I even going to get an invitation to speak at the convention?" Susan asks Hopkirk.

"Honestly Ms. Storm, no," Hopkirk says sadly. "To them you're a celebrity. That's just the way it is."

"Fine," she says with resignation. "I've got an appointment."

"Down at Fisherman's Wharf?" Reed asks with a hint of anger in his voice.

"Oh gee, how did you guess," Susan tells him bluntly.

"I'll be gone for SEVERAL hours Reed. And I'll be pretty tired when I get home. Don't let the kids overdose on sugar this time. I don't want Val and Franklin bouncing off the walls, or crashed out. And for gods sake keep them out of the damn lab this time."

Reed sighs, and Susan stalks off.

"I think that well," Hopkirk says optimistically, and no one has the energy to contradict him.

"What?" Buffy asks Reed, and is met with a mouthed "I'll tell you later."

Summoning whatever fake enthusiasm he has left, Reed asks Hopkirk, "What else do you have planned for my family?"

"Well, Mr. Richards, Mr. Grimm is scheduled for the Johnny Knoxville show next week."

"Good god man, are you insane? Cancel that immediately." Reed's incredulous.

"Why? The Thing goes over great with Knoxville's audience. And they'd love to break stuff over him, things like that. He'll kill. He could be the next Mini-Me."

"And that's exactly what I DON'T want," Richards tells him. "Get him on some kids show. Something on Disney Channel. Barney and Friends, whatever. Kids love him."

"But there's no endorsement opportunities there,"

Hopkirk tells him. "The money is in the young adult male crowd. Do you realize how much money he could make? He could be huge."

"I don't want people making fun of him. Asking him to wear a giant diaper, things like that. And schedule him for a visit to a children's hospital." Reed tells him.

"With all due respect sir," Hopkirk tells him, "that sort of thing isn't very effective in building an image. He visited one last week. I'd be lucky to get a mention of it in the back pages of the Times."

"That's not the point Mr. Hopkirk," Reed tells him.

Looking at Buffy, he tells her "This is very important. The reason I wanted to see you."

"Mr. Hopkirk, do have any idea of how difficult Ben can be?"

Hopkirk blanches. "I see your point."

"A bunch of little kids, running up to him and hugging him, telling him they LOVE him?"

"He won't be so ..." Hopkirk begins.

"Grumpy," Reed finishes for him.

"What about Johnny?" Reed switches subjects. "Is he still on for Conan?"

"Yes. That's a lock. He's also got an invitation to the new nightclub that DeNiro is opening up in Tribeca. Heidi Klum, Britney Spears, and Alicia Silverstone called. Left their numbers."

Reed laughs, and sighs. "Give them all to Johnny.

He'll run through them all inside a week."

"Daddy, daddy, daddy," comes a piercing cry. "Frankie stole my Barbie and won't give it back."

A small tow headed boy of about seven years runs into the room, followed by a tow headed young girl of about five years old in hot pursuit.

"I'm going to operate, mwhaaahahhaa" the boy mocks his sister as he holds the Barbie doll out of reach.

"Excuse me," Reed tells Hopkirk and Buffy, and reaches out .... and out and out with his arm stretched out impossibly long deftly plucks the doll out of the young boy's hands, and gives it to the girl.

"Franklin," his voice is stern, "what did I tell you about teasing your sister?"

"Not to," comes the somewhat repentant voice of the boy.

"No ice cream for you tonight Franklin," Reed tells him. "Unless you play nicely with your sister the rest of the day."

"OK Daddy," comes the relieved voice of Franklin.

"Come on Val let's play Uncle Johnny and Ben."

"I wanna be Johnny this time," the little girl tells her older brother.

"OK," the boy tells her, and gives a pretend roar as he chases his sister around the room.

"Would you excuse us Mr. Hopkirk?" Reed asks his publicist. He guides Buffy into a corner of the vast room.

"Now you can see why I wanted to talk to you. You know what I did," Reed tells Buffy intently.

"Turned your family into ..."

"In my arrogance, my stupidity, I risked everything.

And what I did to them, I can never undo." He sighs.

"Susan told me before hand it was stupid. We could have waited. We should have waited. People forget, how smart she is."

Buffy's puzzled. "But the publicity, I mean why?"

"I turned my family into a freakshow. The least I could do was make the public love them, see them as heroes. Instead of freaks. That's why Hopkirk is here.

It's why I spend all that money."

"The Thing," Buffy asks?

Reed laughs bitterly, "My oldest friend. You know he used to be NASA's top test pilot? And a fine engineer in his own right? Every morning when he looks in the mirror he remembers, he knows, what I did to him.

Susan? She has over thirty patents. She's the finest engineer I've ever met. Her work in aeronautical safety alone is ... fantastic. Now she's some celebrity freak like Michael Jackson. You know what that little scene was about don't you?"

"She was angry," Buffy begins.

"Like she always is when her big dream gets crushed.

She wants so badly to be respected for her work. To be ... recognized. To be seen." He says bitterly. "So like always, she goes to HIM."


"Namor." The word is spoken with total flatness.

Richards is concealing his bitterness as much as possible. "Just like always, she goes to him. He's everything I'm not, and he didn't make her ...

invisible." He says with sad finality.

"Will they ever forgive you," Buffy asks earnestly.

"Will they ever forgive me?"

"Forgive?" Reed asks. "That's a hard question to answer, even for me. Johnny's happy now, but sooner or later he'll fall in love, and well, just being around us is dangerous. When he wants a family of his own finally, he'll never have that."

Reed pauses, and continues, "So I do what I can. To make them happy. They still love me. And I accept their anger. Because I know what they lost. What they were before." He smiles. "Sometimes they forget.

Perhaps yours will too."

"So what do I do?" Buffy asks.

"Whatever it takes to make them happy," Reed says.

"Family is everything."

"That's it?" Buffy asks.

"That's it, except for the African," Reed says ominously. "Your stunt, nearly as stupid as mine, woke him up."

"OK, not getting it," Buffy tells Reed. "The African who?"

"THE African, " Reed tells her. "I'm the future, and he's the past. The distant past. He's been around for a long time."

"OK I'll ask. How long."

"You know how most myths have a basis in fact.

Vampires, werewolves, demons, that sort of thing."

Buffy shudders. "Don't remind me."

"Those stories about immortal heroes, the ones that end up never dying, just going to sleep in caves somewhere?"

"Dropped out of College, remember?"

"They are all based on one person. The first person actually. Or first real human, if you prefer. He's at least fifty thousand years old. Maybe older. Older than any demon, any vampire. He's so old that he ...

forgets most of the time who and what he is. What he does."

"So he's like some old guy? What's the big deal?"

"The big deal Ms Summers," Reed tells her, "is that the African is immortal and invulnerable. I'm not sure even a Gamma Bomb would kill him. And he has his own ideas that aren't very ... modern. Remember Atlantis?"

"That's just a myth, right?"

"Wrong. The African didn't like what they were doing, so he sunk the island. God knows what he'd do this time."

"But Xander and Dawn, they're the future," Buffy protests.

"And he's the past. And sometimes the past isn't even the past."

"How do I stop him, " Buffy asks.

Reed starts to answer, when Buffy suddenly wakes to Willow shaking her. "Buffy, you had a bad dream. Are you OK?"

"I'm not sure," Buffy answers. She looks at Willow and Kennedy and tells them, "I'm just not sure that things are gonna get better."


Far away, in Pearl, Mississippi, a tall, leanly muscled African man pauses to look around the dark streets. They look different from when, he struggles to remember a million lives. Ah that was it. When he was a slave. That time. As opposed to the other times he'd been enslaved. Did he help build a pharoah's pyramid? No, that was the other time. Cotton. He remembered that. And the overseer's whip. Well, he'd at least get to that town, what was it's name? Chicago. Soon. Then he could kill demons. And vampires. And all the other scum. He was awake now.

Awake as he hadn't been in a very long time. It wasn't his fault he sometimes forgot who he was. He was certainly better than, what was it that the shamans had created, long after he had wandered away? He couldn't remember the name. A girl with a demon inside. How stupid. They should have found him. And awakened him. He would have killed all the old ones.

Like he did when he drove them out. The first time.

What WAS the name of the girl with the demon inside? The thought nagged him like a stone caught in a sandal. Perhaps it was something to do with her that had awakened him finally. Or he'd been remembered. He thought on past triumphs, and tragedies. Perhaps he would find that upstart ... what was her name ... God.

The annoying one that was always whining. Glory. That was her name. He'd given her quite a beating last time and sent her back to her own dimension. It would be nice to kill her this time. He thought on how much he hated Gods. And these modern ways. The old ways, they were always the best. He would have to remind his children of that. And stay awake.


Kate Lockley sat back in her chair, surveying the two ... unusual individuals before her. They certainly didn't fit the run of her ordinary clients.

"You want me to find this Amy Madison," she said.

"From Sunnydale, the town that disappeared?"

"That's right," the man with one eye tells her. "We know she's here." He paused. Then said, "Your ad says no case too unusual."

"Xander, I still think we could have called Angel,"

the young girl begins, when the man cuts her off.

"I don't want to go to fang guy for anything. He's no different from Spike, don't kid yourself."

"Are you still jealous," the girl is miffed. "Just because Angel's ..."

"Allergic to suntans? " the man tells her. "There's a reason for that."

"Are you talking about the same Angel I know in LA?"

Kate asks the two. "Tall, dark, broody?"

"Stupid hair?" the man asks?

"Has a secretary named Cordy?" Kate asks.

The man grows sad, and thoughtful. "Cordy's in a coma." Turning to the girl he says, "and that's why I don't want anything to do with him. It's like they don't even care. And I KNOW it's his fault she's that way."

Kate is taken aback. "I didn't know that. Is she going to recover?"

The man shakes his head. "Wes doesn't think so. And he wouldn't tell me how it happened either. I think it stinks. And I want to check it out. Just as soon as we ..."

Kate asks with an arched eyebrow, "So you know about Angel's ... unique condition?"

"Vampire with a soul?" the girl laughs. "Yeah, my sister dated him once. She's got a thing for that."

"Buffy?" Kate asks.

"God, does EVERYONE know her," the girl is annoyed.

"Yeah, Buffy," the man says. "I'm Alexander Harris."

"I'm Dawn Summers," the girl says.

"The slayer's sister?" Kate asks.

Dawn sighs. "Yes."

"You could have been Faith's sister. Just think of that," Kate says.

"You met her too?" Xander's amazed.

"Small, dark, psychotic? Superslut?" Kate asks, and notes Dawn's laugh and her hand on Xander's, and Xander's somewhat pained and embarrassed reaction.

"Yeah, that's her," says Xander. "And how do you know Angel?"

Kate pauses. "I used to be a cop in LA. One of the reasons I lost my job there was giving him too much help. I take it he's not a friend of yours?"

Dawn starts to say something, but Xander interrupts her, "No he's not. Vampires are bad."

Kate looks at him, and says with conviction, "I can agree with that. Bastards murdered my father."

Xander looks at her with compassion. "I'm sorry." Kate notes Dawn putting her hand on Xander's knee oh so casually marking him out as her territory. She laughs inside. God she'll be hell on wheels when she's older.

She's a handful now Kate thinks. Poor guy. He'd be cute if he had two eyes. The girl looked like jailbait, definitely under eighteen. And somehow, in a way she couldn't put her finger on, dangerous. She'd have to play this one carefully.

"So am I. So who's this Amy Madison you want found?"

Kate was all business now. She needed the money. She hoped these two wouldn't stiff her. Maybe if they did she could give Angel a call. Maybe that would be a good idea anyway.

"Amy's a witch," Dawn tells her. "It's why we need to find her."

"Why on god's earth would want to be anywhere NEAR a witch," Kate asks? "Do you have any idea of what those people can do." She sees from their expression they do. "A run in?"

"You could say that," Xander tells her. "With another witch. Look, we know she's here. Or at least she said she'd be here when we met her in Oxnard. We need her."

"To find someone else," Dawn says.

"For what, save the world stuff," Kate asks jokingly.

"Like one of Angel's big cases?" Dawn and Xander immediately react like they've been hit with a board.

"God, how did you know?" Dawn asks her.

"Great. Are we going to be knee deep in demons and vampires?" Kate groans.

"Actually no," Xander laughs, and Dawn laughs with him.

"Why do I think this isn't a good thing," Kate asks them. "What?"

"No vampires, no demons, werewolves, nothing magic at all," Dawn tells her with a smirk. "Nothing like that."

"So it's worse," Kate tells them. "No. No way. No way in hell. Find someone else. Go away."

"We can pay you five hundred dollars," Xander tells her.

"Up front," Kate corrects him.

"Up front in cash," Dawn confirms and counts out the bills onto Kate's desk.

"OK, what do you have on her?" Kate begins.


In the end, Kate mused, finding this Amy Madison was one of the easier jobs she'd had in a while. The guy, and Kate mused, it was a real shame about his eye, had gone to High School with the witch. Her Father was living in Evanston, in a somewhat shabby converted greystone building cut up into tiny and poorly heated apartments. Kate thought she'd hate to be there in January. Even in the August heat she shivered. Her father had indeed seen Amy, and thought she was working as a palm reader in one of the psychic storefronts in Hyde Park.

Amy wasn't there, but had worked at one of them last week. After buying Starbucks coffee and getting her palm read by one of the psychics (thank god she was a complete phony, Kate thought, it would be too horrible to have a real psychic tell her future) she got another lead. Amy's former co worker thought she was at one of the phone psychics operating on the Northside. After chasing down several locations, and finding no Amy at all, Kate got lucky on the third location. Near downtown. Moving to the sandwich shop across the street, and thanking her lucky stars that Amy hadn't spotted her, she waited for Amy to get off work. Tailing her would be tricky business, and Kate didn't relish going up against a witch. Spending the rest of her days as a rat? No thanks. In the end, she tailed Amy back to her walk up third floor apartment without much trouble. The witch wasn't expecting anyone, well normal it seemed following her. She definitely was avoiding someone, likely somebody with big mojo. Kate figured that was why she was switching jobs and keeping a low profile. These magical types were always fighting and feuding amongst themselves.

After making sure Amy was staying put for the night, Kate pulled out her cellphone. "She's here," she told Xander when he answered the phone. "Get over her now and you can catch her at home"


The plane landed without incident, and Buffy, Willow, and Kennedy struggled through customs and the baggage claim. The taxi ride to Xander's apartment was strangely silent, with Willow and Kennedy stiff, uncertain of each other, and if Buffy didn't know better, they were fighting with each other. Finally at Xander's door, Buffy searched for a key. Looking frustrated, Willow told her, "don't bother," and brusquely waved her hand and the door opened.

They all walked into the empty apartment.

"Well, this is great," Buffy said. "They're out. At least this gives us time."

"Time for what?" Willow asks.

"Time to tell me why you two are fighting," Buffy says. Willow and Kennedy look at each other.

"It's kind of personal, " Kennedy says.

"So's my whole life," Buffy says. "And yet, strangely enough my little sister shared every detail with you.

Come on, this is me. What gives?"

"It's about Xander, " Kennedy spits out immediately.

"Willow COULD heal him. If she wanted to."

"WHAT?" Buffy's incredulous. "Will, what's going on?"

Defensively, with her arms crossed, Willow says to Buffy, "it's not that simple. There's a lot at stake."

"Like going all evily and scary?" Buffy asks in an understanding tone.

Kennedy gives a snort, and Willow looks away. "No Buff, it would involve healing stuff. No danger of going all evil and stuff. It's just that it would involve, well tantric stuff."

"You'd have to get henna tatoos?" Buffy asks not understanding.

"Well, that too, " Willow says. "But that's not the big deal. It's the other stuff."

"Tantric means sexual magic Buffy," Kennedy says.

"That's why Willow won't do it," she adds with some anger. "She'd have to have sex with Xander."

"You're all OK with it now," Willow says to Kennedy.

"But later? I don't think so."

"You mean like when I gave you my power to ... ah,"

looking at Kennedy askance, Buffy quickly changes course, "heal you from that demon, only without the sex of course."

"It's OK, Buffy," Kennedy says with a laugh. "I know you had sex with Willow. I don't care. It's just sex.

You helped heal her, and made her happy. Why would I be jealous or angry?" Looking at Willow she adds, "See? My god Will, he's your friend. Why don't you heal him? He could sure use it." Kennedy pauses, "It might keep your sister from playing nasty Nurse Dawnie on him all the time."

Kennedy looks at their appalled faces.

"Just a thought."

"Will, " Buffy begins, "Can you really heal him?"

"Yes, Buffy I can, " Willow sighs tiredly. "But I won't. Being gay is too important to me."

"Goddamit Will," Kennedy explodes. "You're either gay or your not. Sleeping with Xander won't make you any less of a lesbian. It'll just heal him. Or are you not sure of yourself?"

"Oh right, like Tara was all cool with me being around him. Just like Oz and Anya were. They were always jealous. And we fought, and Tara left, and Glory hurt her. And I don't want the same to happen to you."

Willow finishes babbling.

"Hell, you could borrow some of my power if you want, "Kennedy says. "We could both sleep with him. Buffy too if she wants." Kennedy laughs "Unless the wrath of Dawnie is too much."

"She'd kill me," Buffy mutters. And then louder, "Will, it wouldn't change anything."

"Yes it would. Being a lesbian is important to me Buffy. You don't know what you're asking."

"I'm asking you to show a little loyalty, Will,"

Buffy's starting to get angry. Which makes Willow only more stubborn.

"It's not like you're suddenly gonna go straight, "

Kennedy says. "Some little wallflower that the boys never choose. You'll still be with me."

Kennedy looks at Willow's face, and Buffy's.

Unknowingly, she'd struck home. And she in turn explodes in anger.

"Is that it? Is that all I am? Some girl you can be hip with? Being cool? A big fad? Is that what this is?"

"No, it's not," Willow says. Calmly. "But being a lesbian is the single most important thing in my life.

It defines me. I chose it. It makes me who I am."

Kennedy's angry. And nearly shouts out, "Well, I am who I am. I'm just me. And yeah, gay. But I'm a hell of a lot more than that. Or did you think the girls at my boarding school were oh so understanding? Like I didn't take a beating all the time for years? Or my parents? Hello traditional Puerto Rican family?"

"So you should know, " Willow says softly, "why I just can't."

"No, I just don't Will," Kennedy tells her in sadness.

"That's the difference between you and me. I just don't bother to hide who I am anymore. No matter what it costs. You're still trying to be hip and cool all the time. And I finally get it. It's just pathetic.

And you're pathetic."

Willow's reply is suddenly stopped. As the doorknob turns. And Xander, Dawn, Amy and Kate all walk into the apartment.

"Buffy!" Xander cries out. "What are you doing here?"

Buffy just looks at them. And at Dawn. Nobody says anything. Buffy raises an eyebrow at Dawn, and Kennedy and Willow both look sad.

Dawn suddenly gets it. Her eyes widen.

"Oh my god. Oh god." She hits Xander, hard on the shoulder. "Hang up the phone. Hang it up I told you.

Was that too complicated for you? Too hard to understand?"

"Ah what?" Xander's confused.

"They HEARD Xander." Dawn's angry. "How much?" she asks Buffy.

"Vi says hi," Buffy is trying hard to keep from laughing. "But she's not ready for a threesome just yet."

"Oh god." Xander at this moment fervently wishes for the Hellmouth to suddenly open up and swallow him.

Well, he muses, maybe things will look up and Buffy will kill him. Like now. Please. God.

Dawn looks at Amy and Kate. "Stay," she tells them. "I still need you. And this won't take long."

Chapter 7

"So Dawn, you proud of yourself?" Buffy asks.

Willow's smirking a bit, and Dawn looks at her. "You hacked the phone line? Didn't you? Kept it open."

"Oh Dawnie. You're the smart one aren't you," is Willow's self satisfied response. Buffy gives her a shut up I'm busy fighting with my sister look, and Willow melts a bit under Buffy's glare.

"You had no right to listen in, that was a private conversation," Dawn begins, but Buffy cuts her off with her words.

"Dawn, how could you say those things, plan those things? About me, and ..." Buffy looks over at Willow, "Will?"

"Because you brought that THING in the house Buffy! Our house! Without even asking me."

"Dawn," Buffy begins, "He had a soul. Things were different and you're too young to understand ..." when Dawn angrily interrupts.

"I wasn't talking about THAT thing Buffy, I meant the other one. Willow." the word is said acidly. "She tried to kill me, remember? Or don't you care any more?"

"Dawn I was ... I was just sick," Willow stammers.

"You mean you stopped pretending you didn't want to kill me" Dawn snaps back. "Yeah, got that. But guess what?"

"Dawn," Buffy interjects but Willow motions for Buffy to let Dawn speak "No Buffy I want to hear this,"

Willow tells her.

"Goddam right you need to. I used to want to be you so bad. Now? I'm happy I'm not. And when you go nuts again and start killing people? I'm going to stop you.

Remember that."

Xander looks sad, but doesn't turn away from Willow's shocked expression, while Buffy is merely angry.

"Goddam Dawnie, how can you talk like that?"

"Because I don't pretend any more Buffy. I don't pretend that Willow is a human being who actually likes me. That you love me. That you even notice me any more."

"Well I sure as hell notice you now Dawn. You happy with all the trouble you caused? That I had to drop everything? Why are you acting this way?"

"Because I have to Buffy! You think I wanted any of this? That I'm happy? I just wanted you to notice me."

Dawn's angry response produces a mixture of expressions on Buffy's face. Anger. Sadness. And a strange good humor.

"Well, you certainly got that," is Buffy's answer to Dawn. "You sleep with him yet?" she asks as she points to Xander.

Xander's aghast. "Buffy you heard. You know I would never ... "

"I don't care Xan," Buffy tells him, "and this is between myself and Dawn."

Amy and Kate exchange looks.

"Is this the Jerry Springer Show?" Kate asks.

"Buffy, you have an even more screwed up family than mine," Amy tells her.

"This will just take a minute," Dawn pleads with the two.

Buffy gives Xander a stare. "She's seventeen Xander."

Xander gives her a stare back. "And I'm not Angel. Or R Kelly."

Buffy looks at Dawn, her face blank and unreadable.

"Seventeen Dawn. That mean anything to you?"

"God Buffy, how can you say that when ..." Dawn starts when Buffy interjects.

"That means you're an adult Dawn. Maybe it's time you started acting like it," is Buffy's exasperated interruption. "If you want to hop into bed with Xander," she points at Xander and makes a sweeping gesture, "go ahead. I mean, oh my god this would be the first time ever a girl of seventeen had an older guy. Wow you're really clever Dawn." Buffy looks at Xander. "What? Expecting the wrath of Buffy? She's gonna have sex sooner or later. Might as well be you."

Seeing Xander's hurt look, Buffy quickly adds "You know what I meant. I trust you to not get her pregnant. Or break her heart. Cause I'd break your arm. Seventeen? She's old enough. And if you slept with her maybe she would be such a ..."

"Bitch?" Willow asks, as Buffy nods.

Dawn's eyes widen in astonishment. "Buffy?"

"You know and I know you're old enough, Dawn," Buffy says, "but he thinks different. Haven't you figured him out by now?"

"I know him better than you Buffy."

"Oh sure you do. That's why you made him cry. Great going there Dawnie."

Willow snorts at this. And Dawn gives her a look of pure poison.

"Gee Dawn. Xander's gotta be one of the good guys. You know that. That means you'll just have to wait till you're eighteen." Seeing the astonishment on everyone's faces, Buffy adds, "Doesn't mean you two couldn't go on a date now and then. Wouldn't kill you." Buffy laughs. "She just might be the only girl who wouldn't kill you Xan."

"A date?" Xander asks.

"Yeah, a date. A movie, some smootchies. Wouldn't be the end of the world." Buffy states with crossed arms.

"Unless my sister isn't good enough for you."

"I'm not gonna win on this one am I?" Xander asks.

"Pretty much not, " Buffy smirks.

"I need to speak to you alone Dawnie," Buffy continues.

"What?" Dawn asks.

"Alone, now!" Buffy tells her as she drags her into the next room.

"You sure there's no hidden cameras around here?" Kate wisecracks to break the tension. Xander visibly deflates, without Dawn and a plan, and Willow around him.

"Will, Ken," comes the noncommittal words of Xander.

"I don't owe either of you an apology," Xander tells them after some silence. "So don't expect one." He crosses his arms, angry and defensive.

"Xan," Willow tells him softly, "you know I would if I could. I just can't."

"Yeah, I know," Xander tells her, "I'm not important enough." And looks significantly at Kennedy.

Amy raises an eyebrow, and looks at Xander, finally getting it.

"Willow could heal him," she rolls her head at Xander's eye patch for Kate's benefit. "She just doesn't want to."

Kate asks, "Huh?"

"Tantric magic," Amy tells her. "You're so like your Mom, Willow."

"Same back at ya, Amy," Willow tells her defiantly.

"Sorry Xander," Amy tells him. "I'd do it for you, no problem, I just don't have that kind of power."

"I know," Xander thanks her. "Appreciate it."

"I've got power," Kennedy tells Amy to Willow's astonishment. "You need to borrow it. I mean, if Dawn's OK with it." Kennedy smirks. "She could always join us."

Amy is astonished, and a bit delighted at Willow's discomfort. Her face quickly falls, however. "Sorry Xan. Even with a slayer, I just don't have what it takes."

Willow gives Kennedy a sour look, and mouths "later" to Kenendy's dismissive nod.

"We gonna go find this alien any time soon?" Kate asks.

"Soon as Dawn and Buffy are done fighting in private,"

Xander tells her. And Willow catches the significance of Dawn's name coming first. Her raised eyebrow gets a blank stare from Xander.


In the other room, Buffy rounds on Dawn and tells her, "I ought to kick your ass."

"Like that time you tried to kill us all? So you could get back to the psycho factory?" Dawn tells her as Buffy's grasp on Dawn's arm tightens. "Ow! You're hurting."

"I'm sorry Dawn." Buffy releases her arm. "But you're acting like an asshole. Really."

"Coming from the expert," is Dawn's muttered reply.

"Heard that. Know what you accomplished?"


"Well, besides making Xander cry, you managed to alienate just about everyone who liked you. You wanted attention, you got it. Giles, Robin, even Faith are all stirred up."

"That ho."

"Yeah Dawn, Faith's a skank. You can take the girl out of the trailer, but ..." Buffy trails off. Thinking of times spent on the lawn, in an alley, a few other places. And looks at Dawn's contemptous smirk. "But Vi isn't. She actually liked you Dawn. And now she's scared of you and wow, you made her cry too. Good going there."

"Only one person loves me Buffy. And that's Xander."

"Oh god that's it isn't it? You know that's not true Dawn. I love you."

Dawn's now angry. "Right. Until the next vampire comes along. Or you go back to Angel. And dump me again. I'm tired of your bull Buffy."

"Dawn, what you said about the slayer," Buffy begins.

"Oh right, here comes the lecture from the Chosen One," Dawn complains. "Maybe you'll show me the world afterwards? When you can tear yourself away from someone's front lawn? For you know, your not real sister."

Buffy's expression is stoic. "You're right Dawn. About the Slayer. I mean ... " Buffy pauses. "What part of I'm mentally ill do you not understand?"


"I'm sick Dawn. I've been sick for a long time. And now I finally understand why. Why I'm always such a ..."

"Bitch?" Dawn supplies.

"Yeah. Being the slayer makes me sick. I love you more than anyone Dawn. But the slayer? She'll dump you sooner or later for a vampire. Cause the slayer is sick. A demon." Buffy's near tears. "I can't slay anymore Dawn. Cause it will just make the demon stronger." She laughs bitterly. "Now I finally understand how Angel felt."

"So that's why," Dawn has figured it out.

"Yeah. Hearing what you said, it made sense. And I had ... " Buffy trails off. "Some dreams. Or something. I understood. Sort of."


"He'd be good for you Dawn. And God knows you need him. I don't ... I just don't think I'll be Buffy much longer. I just don't know."

Dawn laughs. "Yeah, I mean. Wow."

"I don't mean just that way. I mean so you don't go off the rails. Like you are now."

"Oh right, cause you're so perfect."

"Dawn, I made a complete mess out of my life. No one really likes me, respects me, or even loves me. Except for you and Xander. History? Repeating itself? Ring a bell?"

Dawn starts to speak but Buffy holds up her hand. "Not finished. The way you treated Xander, goddam Dawn,"

Buffy's getting angry. "You treated him like Spike used to treat me. He deserved better. Especially from you."

Dawn flushes at that comment.

"What, flowers and romance?"

"Why wouldn't you? He's worth it. I mean you living with him guaranteed that he wouldn't move on you.

Especially after Anya. And you need him. So you stay ... human. And stay, well you. Not the bitchier version of ... me."

"So what," Dawn asks, "do you want me to do?"

"Take things slow. Don't push him like I did Angel.

Let him be the good guy he wants to be. Be his friend cause he needs you. Just let him be your friend back.

And listen to him. He had some good advice. But you were too much in love with your own voice to listen."

Buffy has a bitter laugh. "I know the feeling. Believe me."

Dawn laughs. Buffy tells her "Don't be so quick to agree."

Dawn has a sad look on her face. "This doesn't change anything Buffy. I'm still going to have to clean up your mess." Her face sets with anger and determination.

"I know it's not fair Dawn," Buffy tells her. "And it shouldn't be your job. But it is. I can't change that.

Or what happened to you. To Xander. Even to Willow."

She pauses. "I know you'll have to ... do something about Willow. Eventually. And if you're smart you'll keep Xander a long way away when it happens. Yellow crayons won't cut it again."

"Figured that already," Dawn states flatly.

"And you'll have to ... to put me away eventually Dawn. I'll get dangerous. You'll need to take steps."

"I know." Dawn's voice is full of tension.

"Maybe, " Buffy begins, but Dawn cuts her off.

"Don't ever ask that. I can't. I won't. And I won't let anyone hurt you either." Dawn's figured out what Buffy's suggesting.

"I could hurt you Dawn. Or worse. I had a dream ... or something. I killed you." Buffy's near tears. "I'd rather die than hurt you. Please," she asks.

"No. That's not gonna happen. Why do you think I want this alien?"

"And what if that's not enough Dawn? What if the slayer takes over, completely?"

"Then I drop a whole spacecraft on your head, go back in time, or think of something. I'm not letting you get killed." Dawn reaches out for Buffy's hand. "I won't let you die Buffy. Don't you know I love you?"

"I know."

"How in the hell did we get here Buffy? I mean, is this all we are?" Dawn looks Buffy straight in the eyes.

Buffy sighs, and tells Dawn, "Rampant stupidity Dawn.

And no, there's gotta be something more. There has to be."


Chapter 8

"This is pretty cool Dawn," Buffy tells her sister.

"How did you figure this out?"

"It's simple," Dawn told her. "You look for where the magic isn't ... and that's where the alien is. That's why when we ... "

"You mean when you went off and almost got yourself killed?" Buffy asks.

"Yeah. Figured you'd know what that was like," Dawn tells her.

"I do," Buffy tells her sister softly. "I do" she says to herself.

Dawn's feeling in her element as she and Buffy lead the ragtag group down Michigan Avenue, near the heart of Chicago's downtown.

"I don't see why I'm not doing this," Willow pouts.

"I'm stronger than Amy."

As the group comes to a halt, in the early morning light, with busy workday people all around, Dawn shoots back "Amy's never tried to kill me Will. That mean anything to you?"

"Oh fine sure, bring that up again." Willow's not happy. Kennedy looks like she's about to spit nails in Dawn's direction.

"Tell me why again that I'm still with you freaks?" Kate asks Xander.

"Cause ... you want to see the alien as much as I do?" he asks.

"You watch too much Star Trek," she shoots back.

"Maybe it's like a Vorlon," Xander muses.

"Oh please, a giant glowing squid in downtown Chicago?" Kate asks. Then looks horrified. "Oh my god I'm as bad as you."

"Do you have commemorative Babylon 5 plates?" Xander asks.


"Then you're not as bad as me."

"Well, thank god for that."

Xander's a bit nostalgic. "I miss those plates."

Dawn snorts at this. "You would Xander."

"Hey you watched it with me."

"I'm trying to live that one down. This is the new cool Dawn."

"As opposed to the old geeky one?" is Kennedy's mocking tone.

"At least I figured out how to find this thing," is Dawn's quick retort.

Dawn, Buffy, and Xander cluster around Amy. Who has a map of downtown out and is swinging a pendulum back and forth. Amy looks up.

"Guys, whatever it is should be right ahead of us, maybe a block or so. There isn't any magic at all there, so ... be careful. This thing scares me." Amy concludes.

"You did good Amy," Dawn tells her.

"So you'll ... ?" Amy questions her.

Buffy speaks up, interrupting Dawn much to her sister's annoyance. "Sure Amy. We'll protect you. From that Warlock who's after you. How much do you owe him anyway?"

"Twenty grand," is Amy's small voiced reply. "He's pretty dangerous Buffy."

"So am I Amy," is Buffy's reply, cutting off Dawn's words again to Dawn's annoyance.

Tapping her feet and rolling her eyes in a carbon copy of her older sister, Dawn gives Buffy a look.

"Can I get a word in here?" she asks. "This IS my deal Buffy."

"Oh sure, go ahead," Buffy replies.

"Remember that the only people who'll be actually *useful* when we get to the alien will be me, Xander, and Kate. The rest of you keep behind me and stay out of our way. That especially means you and Willow, Buffy. You'll just be girls." Dawn is very insistent.

"No powers. Remember that."

"How do we know it's a guy," Xander asks. "Maybe it's a gal. Like Aeryn Sun on Farscape."

"There are no such things as sexy aliens Xander. It's probably got a million tentacles and stuff." Dawn smirks and tells Xander "Don't worry, I'll put on tight black leather pants and act all bitchy if you want after we do this. We can play John and Aeryn."

Seeing Buffy's appalled face and Xander halfway scared and halfway drooling Dawn asks "What?"

"How old are you kid," Kate asks?

"Seventeen. Why?" Dawn innocently wants to know.

"Oh, no reason." Looking at Buffy Kate asks "Does it run in the family?"

Kennedy laughs and says "Of course." Looking at Buffy she adds "You aren't going to deny it are you?"

Buffy shakes her head, and they move on.

Dawn leads the way down the block, followed by Xander and Kate, and the rest trailing. Dawn notices the large Propane tanker truck on the other side of the street, with the driver arguing with the owner of the car who's rear bumper he'd crumpled in a minor accident.

"That must suck," she says to Xander.

"Yeah, insurance must go through the roof around here."

Further down the street Dawn notices a TV crew filming some location report in front of some building.

"Hey, think we'll get on TV?" Xander asks.

"I hope not," is Kate's reply. "I hate TV."

The three approach the bench, with a huddled figure bent over what seems to be some magazines. The figure is wearing a mismatched set of dirty clothes, oversize workman's overalls, two different pairs of shoes, one a workman's boot, the other a red Ked sneaker. A large, dirty, and torn sweater and a filthy baseball cap complete the ensemble, obviously stolen in bits and pieces. Dawn looks at Xander and Kate and wordlessly sits down beside the figure. She puts her hand on the figure's right hand, just as that hand was going to dip into a dirty and torn plastic bag filled with magazines.

"Hi. Don't be afraid. I won't hurt you. My name's Dawn. What's your name?" Dawn asks the figure in a soft gentle voice.

The figure looks up. She's beautiful, in a thin, blonde, ethereal way. And for a moment everyone's breath is held. Then ...

"Don't even say a word Xander. Not a word if you want to play naughty Farscape tonight," Dawn warns him.

Out of habit Xander starts to make a joke, then considers. And shuts up.

"My name issssss ..." the woman starts, her s sounds very sibilant. "You could not ssssay it."

She smiles sadly. "You were the two in the alley. You held him. Issss he your mate? I had hoped to sssssee you mating." She sighs, and collects herself. Makes an effort to control her s sounds. "You will kill me now, yes? As you killed my compatriots?"

Dawn looks at her sadly. "No, I'm not going to kill you. There's been enough killing for now. I want to help you. Protect you. In return for your help."

The woman steels herself. "You want our ... our technology."

"No. I want you to save my sister," Dawn tells the woman. "I don't give a crap about anything else."

"Ah, what she said," Xander tells the woman. Kate adds, "I'm just here so I can say I met an alien. Ever been to Roswell?"

"Roswell?" the woman asks. "Is this not New York City, home of Reed Richards?"

"This is Chicago," Kate tells her. "New York is a long way from here."

"Wait, Reed Richard?" Xander asks as Buffy and the others approach. "You read the Fantastic Four?"

"Of course," the woman smiles. "It's the World's Greatest Comic."

"Thought I told you stay away, Buffy" Dawn grouses.

"Like I'd do that," Buffy laughs. "What's in the bag," she asks.

"Yeah, what do you have in there?" Dawn echoes as the woman holds the bag to her chest.

"They are mine. I took them. In acts of great bravery and courage. They are my books of heroes. And books of matings."

"Huh?" Xander, Dawn, and Buffy all ask at the same time.

"Oh cool porn," Willow says as she spots one of the magazine covers through the tattered plastic bad. "Not that, uh I ever read it, or anything." Willow flushes a bit redder.

Dawn snorts and Buffy rolls her eyes. Buffy grabs the bag and attempts to pull it out of the woman's hands (which disturbingly have six fingers each).

"Give me that." Buffy tells the woman. And pulls. And pulls. And pulls again but her hands slip and she falls flat on her backside.

"Buffy, let me handle this for once will you?" Dawn implores Buffy impatiently.

"We won't take it from you, but will you let us see it?" Dawn asks gently.

The woman has a shy smile, and laughs gently. "Of course. They are very beautiful. Here is the book of heroes." She pulls out a copy of Fantastic Four. "I'm hoping Reed Richards will soon arrive. I want to meet him. He can help me return home. And perhaps mate with me. Perhaps Susan Richards will join us. Like in this book of matings." She pulls out a hard core pornographic magazine and flips open to a particularly graphic scene. "Is it not beautiful?"

Dawn blushes deeply, and Willow and Kennedy crane for a better look. Buffy and Kate give it a dismissive look and a snort; and Xander's left to wonder.

"You came halfway across the universe for comic books and porn?"

"She must know Andrew," is Willow's laughing reply.

"Or maybe you Xander," Kennedy jokes, as Dawn glares at Kennedy.

"Andrew?" the woman asks.

"Nevermind," Dawn says brusquely. Hoping that Buffy had NEVER looked under her bed in Sunnydale after Janice had given her THAT magazine. "Why do you ... why do you have these?" Dawn's struggling to understand.

"In my home ... mating is very difficult. You must be of the correct age and status. The drugs required to achieve ... arousal are very scarce. But here, in this place, I find it ... easy to become aroused. These books of mating are very beautiful. And valuable. They were kept away from children of low status. Very difficult to ... commandeer. I had to be very brave."

The woman looks at Xander, then at Dawn. And smiles.

"I would enjoy mating with both of you. I am aroused now just looking at you both. That is, If Reed Richards declines." She frowns. "I am of low status.

He may not want me." She looks at Xander. "Do you want me?"

Xander says nothing. Furiously to himself he tries to think of tentacles. Hairy giant tentacles. Waving sucker laden tentacles. Scary angry tentacles. Must.

Think. Of. Tentacles.

Dawn again blushes deeply as Kennedy and Willow giggle.

"Ow!" he says as Dawn, Buffy, and Willow all hit him at the same time.

"That's for just thinking of it," Dawn tells him. And Kate and Amy (hanging back behind Kate) laugh while Kennedy smirks.

"But before ..." Xander protests. And Dawn hits him again. "Ow."

"Ah wait ... Reed Richards," Xander asks, desperate to change the subject. "You do know he's not real, right," as Buffy for a reason neither Xander nor Dawn can fathom turns pale.

"Of course he's real. He's the greatest human hero ever," the woman says. "Why else would he have the World's Greatest Comic describing his heroic deeds?"

Buffy looks at the comic, and asks "Can I see that for just one moment please. I'll give it back."

Reluctantly the woman hands the comic to Buffy, who pages through it furiously. Looking for something only she can see.

"Interesting reading, Buffy?" Dawn wants to know.

"You don't know the half of it," Buffy mutters.

"Welcome to the dark side, Buff. Just wait and I'll have you watching Stargate and Jake 2.0," Xander jokes. "We'll do a geek makeover. No more Ice Skating movies, hello Star Wars."

Buffy, shaken, hands the comic back to the woman.

"Gee Buff, I felt the same way the first time I read New Warriors. I mean, Night Thrasher changed my life."

Xander jokes. "I so wanted an armored skateboard."

"Huh?" is Buffy's eloquent reply.

"Nevermind that," Dawn cuts in. "I'm sorry ... whoever you are, but Reed Richards isn't coming. He's not real. He's just a character. A story." She puts her hand on the woman's shoulder. "We have to go now."

"Of course he's coming. He will have to. Leave the Baxter Building and come here. To fight the monster."

"What Monster?" Xander, Dawn, and Buffy all ask in unison.

"That monster. The one I created. So Reed Richards would come, and fight it. Just like the book of heroes." The woman points down the avenue, where a mist is forming, moving out from the lake, and taking an un-nerving shape.

"Oh crap," EVERYONE says in unison.

The mist solidifies. Into a giant agglomeration nearly fifteen feet high of lake mud, muck, trash, and scum.

The thing is vaguely humaniod, with a large mouth filled with teeth made of jagged broken glass, empty beer cans, and plastic forks.

RWAAAARRRRRRR! The creature lurches forward, and smashes the nearest car off the pavement and onto the sidewalk. People begin to scream.

Dawn yells at Xander "Go! Get her and Buffy out of here!" and moves forward to intercept the monster.

"Go, get these people out of here!" she yells at the others, who are attempting to do just that.

Buffy looks at Xander. "I have to go help her," she says. Xander nods. Buffy leaves, growing stronger as she moves away from the woman.

"How can we stop that thing?" Xander asks desperately of the woman.

"I don't know," she's confused. "I made it out of algae. And trash. Reed Richards will come. I know it."

She starts crying. This wasn't working out and she was afraid, all she wanted now was to go home. This place was too terrifying, and there weren't any heroes here at all.

Willow pulled away, and looked back at the fray. The monster was tearing up the street, and Buffy was taunting it, moving faster and faster in and out of it's legs. A sudden blow caught Buffy sideways, and she slumped to the ground. The monster moved to grab her when Dawn rushed in and pulling a pistol from her shoulder holster screamed at the monster and started shooting it, to no visible effect but to annoy it.

Dawn reached Buffy and with one hand pulled her sister along while shooting at the monster as she retreated.

Buffy staggered to her feet and Dawn changed course, moving closer to the monster and away from Buffy. Out of bullets now she screamed again at the monster.

"Come on you big dumb son of a bitch. Come and fucking get me you asshole."

And watching that, Willow was struck by two things.

One of which was that for a normally reserved young girl Dawn had a remarkably foul mouth under stress.

The other of course was just what she had to do.

Chanting quickly she called upon her power and blasted with a beam of pure transforming energy ... DAWN.

And in an instant, Dawn vanished. Buffy screamed and Xander echoed her. Then the light faded. And a figure appeared. Dawn. Only ... a much older and more confident Dawn. If that was possible. She appeared to be in her mid thirties, and was dressed in what looked like Armani. Except for the combat boots.

Evading the blows of the monster, Dawn retreated to Xander's side.

"Dawn? Is that ..." Xander asked.

"Xander. It's me. There's no time to explain, but I KNOW how to beat this thing. I need you to trust me."


"Listen, I want you take my gun. When I drive the truck into the monster, shoot the damn propane truck." Dawn's insistent.

"Dawn, no, listen I can't ... you'll die." Xander protests.

"Goddamit Xander," Dawn's yelling. "I told you to fucking do something. Will you once in your fucking life stop arguing and do what I fucking tell you!" she shouts.

Buffy has reached Willow's side. "What in the hell did you do to my sister," she asks, as Willow turns to her ... with black eyes.

"Nothing she didn't want," Willow says in a playful mood. Playful like a cat with a helpless mouse. "Oh looky. A toy." Willow smiles and points at the propane truck. Which under her power moves to the monster like an invisible giant picked it up and dropped it on top of it.

Willow looks at Buffy with a sly smile, "Bring your marshmallows?"

There's a hiss of escaping propane, then a huge WHUMP! as the truck explodes, sending bits of truck and monster all over the street and into buildings.

Xander rolls over Dawn to protect her, and she pulls him tighter into her.

Amy and Kate pulled themselves out of the vestibule where they'd taken shelter with the TV crew. And started to help the injured and dazed. Willow and Buffy moved to join Xander and Dawn, Willow now under control again. Kennedy struggled out from under a pile of monster muck and trash, bitterly protesting that her Prada shoes were ruined beyond salvage. And slowly the crowd gathered around them. This wasn't Sunnydale, or even Los Angeles. Gang bangers, corruption, and blizzards weren't unknown in Chicago. Giant Mud monsters from Lake Michigan were.

Moving cautiously, timidly, the woman who started it all joined Buffy and Willow.

"That was wonderful," she breathed. "Just like Reed Richards."

Buffy looked at her, and something finally clicked.

Just as the TV crew approached her and a reporter thrust a microphone into her face, "Lisa Gibbons WGN News. Any comment on the monster that people here are reporting you single handedly stopped."

Buffy smiled. Perhaps for the first time since she'd become a slayer. A REAL smile.

"No. Me? Save people? No. It was them ..." she pointed at Xander, Dawn, Amy, and Kate who were all milling around waiting for Buffy to take the credit as Willow looks dumbfounded. "It was them. It was the bravest thing I ever saw. She DROVE that propane truck into that giant monster, and he shot it till it exploded,"

Buffy points first at Dawn, then at Xander. "And they helped get people to safety," she adds, pointing at Amy and Kate. "I don't even know their names. But they're heroes. They saved us all."

The TV crew whirls around like birds in flock, fluidly, and pounce on Xander and Dawn. Who are they, was the monster connected to Sunnydale or LA? Were they part of the government security forces? Was Chicago under attack? Who did their hair?

Buffy looked at Dawn, who mouthed "thank you" before you turning to the cameras, and hooking her arm around Xander who looked absolutely bewildered. Buffy pulled the woman, Willow, and Kennedy out of the crowd and down the street.

"What was that all about?" Kennedy demands. "Will and you stopped that thing. Not them."

Buffy laughs. "It was all Reed Richard's idea." She looks at the woman. "You want a human name?"

"Yes. I might be here for some time."

"What do you want to be called?"

"Addison St. James. Or Addie. I read it in a book of mating. I like it."

"Oh god a porn name," Kennedy moans. And then quickly adds "not that I ever read porn of course."

"Of course" Buffy agrees.

"Wait, Reed Richards? Who's that?" Kennedy wonders.

The alien, pausing to pull the comic book out of her bag, clutched tightly to her chest, reads aloud from the last page as Buffy joins her, reciting it from memory,"

"In the end, through my arrogance and haste, I made my family into freaks, into monsters. Therefore I spent all my energies to make them famous, so that people would love them, rather than fear or hate them. I could never undo what I had done, but I could at least give them that. In the hope, that one day, they could forgive me. Even if I cannot forgive myself."

There's a pause.

"So you made them famous back there ..." Kennedy begins.

"Dawn's always wanted attention, now she's got it, "

Buffy laughs. "She's going to be the star of her own life for once." Buffy sighs. "At least if she's careful, and says the right things, well people love a hero."

"And she has Xander," Kennedy states as Willow looks a bit abashed.

"And that reminds me, what the HELL did you do to my sister?" Buffy asks.

"Nothing she didn't want," Willow says. "Dawn hated being a teenager. So I made her thirty."

"You did WHAT?" Buffy asks.

"Don't shout, " Willow winces. "I'm not exactly sure if it's an illusion spell, or the real Dawn from the future. But it'll wear off. Eventually."

"HOW eventually?" Buffy wants to know.

"Oh, a couple of years at most. You can have HER touch her and it'll go away like that." Willow points to the alien.

"Why, why would you do that, " Buffy asks. "How could you?"

"Cause Xander's my friend, and now he and Dawn can be happy, " Willow replies. "Did you see the way he looked at her? He can play Mr. Rescue Guy with her all he wants now, I mean she is his dream girl. Nasty little bitca who's all wounded inside." Willow laughs. "She's so perfect for him."

"You'd do that, but won't restore his eye?" Buffy asks, "I don't think I'll ever understand you Will."

"Well, that's probably a good thing, " Willow adds.

"And when the spell runs out?" Buffy questions.

"Then Dawn will be twenty. Or so. And they'll figure it out Buffy. Just like the rest of us. I did what I did and you did what you did for a reason. They'll be happy. For a while anyway."

"I guess that's all we can do."

"Do you think they will mate?" the alien asks.

"Do I ever ... " Willow starts to laugh and then catches Buffy's baleful eye.

"That is, yeah, but you can't ... that is ..." Willow starts to babble.

"Dawn's too young the way she was," Buffy tells the alien with the porn name. "If you touch her she'll change back ..." Buffy trails off.

"And no mating for you," Kennedy laughs.

"Let me say, ick," Buffy states.

"Smart girl like you though, well there's always video cameras," Willow says slyly to the alien.

"Willow!" Buffy is aghast. "No video cameras. EVER!"

"Aren't you curious," Willow asks? "God no," Buffy says.

"We could imitate them and embarrass them."

"They'll nag you in stereo, Buffy," Kennedy points out.

"I'm thinking," Buffy announces.


Much later, in a hotel room in downtown Chicago's Sheraton, Xander and Dawn face each other next to the bed.

"Are you sure Dawn? " Xander asks.

"What, cold feet Xander?" Dawn asks. "Am I too old for you?"

"That's crap Dawn and you know it," he tells her.

"You're so beautiful, of course I want you."

"So that I'm nearly ten years older than you, that's not a problem for you?" She wants to know.

"Of course not."

"But it was a problem when I was younger," Dawn's irritated.

Xander sighs. "Dawn your seduction technique, why does it ALWAYS include arguing?"

"Answer the question Xander," Dawn insists.

"It was a problem cause you WERE younger. You were just a kid, Dawn. You deserved someone your own age."

Dawn laughs. "God that. Xan, I stopped being a kid when Tara was killed. Definitely when I was going to sell myself to Rack to save Willow."

"It doesn't matter now, does it?" Xander asks.

"No," Dawn laughs, and kisses Xander, then pulls away.

"What?" Xander wants to know.

"Xander, there's something you should know. About me.

You may not want me. I'm ... " Dawn trails off. "Ugly.

Something happened."

"What?" Xander asks and Dawn places a finger on his lips and says "SHHHH."

Slowly, shyly, and reluctantly, she takes off her blouse. And then turns away, taking off her bra.

Covering the area where her right breast would be with her hands, she turns back to Xander.

"See? I'm ugly," she's nearly crying, with tears flowing down her face. As she reveals the ugly pink scar where her right breast was removed, by an angry and insane Witch.

Xander's face fills with anger. "Who did this to you Dawnie? I'll kill them!" And then seeing Dawn's face and realizing he's not saying what she most wants to hear ...

"No Dawn, you're not ugly. You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. You're so ... I want you so much. Here, now. Forever. You're my hero. And I love you."

"Xan," Dawn holds her breath. "You'd want me even with ..." she asks.

"God yes Dawn, " Xander tells her, removing his eye patch. "All I see is the woman I love."

"And you don't care?"

Xander shakes his head, barely able to speak, "Why would I?"

Dawn hugs him, holding him tight. "That's all I want.

For now. I'll you things about ... about what happened. Later. Right now I just need you."

Xander's reply is a passionate kiss to the woman who used to be a girl.


Much later, Buffy tossed and turned in bed. She heard the sound of horses, their neighing and hoofbeats. Men shouting. And then ... sat bolt upright in bed, staring at a somewhat dusty man in his late forties, with a drooping mustache, a homburg hat, and clothes from the early twentieth century.

"You're you," Buffy accuses him.

"Oh yes. I am me. The last time I checked."

"You, you're ... Pancho Villa, " Buffy tells him.

"Yes. Did you see the movie on HBO with Antonio Banderas? A good choice I think. Though I never did half of what that movie showed, and they never showed half of what I DID do." He says.

"You did very good," he tells her. "I'm proud of you."

"What do you mean? " Buffy asks.

"You knew that it was time to quit," he said. "We used to have high hopes for you, but in the end you were just another failure. Like me. Unlike me, you at least cleaned up some of your mess."

"Hello?" Buffy is angry. "Defeated the First Evil? Saved the World? A Lot?"

"Defeated the First Evil?" Pancho Villa laughs. "How could you do that? The First is everywhere, in every heart. In Dawn's heart. Certainly in your's. Even in Xander's. You cannot fight human nature."

"But I won! I destroyed the Hellmouth!" Buffy insists.

"And failed," Pancho says. "You failed just like I did."

"I don't understand," Buffy tells him.

"I was to be the bridge for Mexico. Schooled in the old ways of fighting the Apache, the Comanche, the Gringo. And looking to the new ways. Of aeroplanes, of motorcycles, of radio and motion pictures. Only I embraced too much of the old, and not enough of the new."

"Spike," Buffy says instinctively.

"And Angel. You cannot have one without the other. In the end they were much the same." Pancho Villa says sympathetically. "As I said I too made that mistake.

At Tampico I charged with my cavalry trenches, trenches! I tell you. And my beloved Dorados, the Golden Ones, were cut down by the machine guns. Like wheat before a scythe. I should have known. The news from the war in Europe was clear. That the day of the cavalry was over."

"So I failed?" Buffy asks. "All that I did, all that I sacrificed, it was all for NOTHING!"

"Of course, " Villa nods his head. "I should have been more than just a bandit king, and you should have been more than a slayer who slept with vampires. But that's how we ended up."

"So what's left? Give up?" Buffy asks angrily.

Pancho Villa laughs. "No, of course not. There's always hope. I had one more great victory. Over Pershing. No matter how hard he chased me, with his aeroplanes and motorcycles, he could never catch me.

And that is how I ended. By running away," he snorts.

"Such a great victory. Running away."

"So I run away?" Buffy asks.

"No. But you stop fighting," he tells her. "You cannot defeat your Pershing. No more than I could. And your time, the time of the slayer, the witch, the watcher, it is over. Just as my time came to an end. And others took my place."

"So who will fight?" Buffy asks. "Dawn?"

"Don't laugh," he says. "She has the stuff of heroes.

And it is her time. The time for humans."

"How can she defeat vampires and demons," Buffy asks.

"She doesn't have any powers."

"She doesn't need them," Villa laughs. "She has what you and I lacked. Him."

"Xander?" Buffy questions. "What does Xander have to do with it?"

"He will keep her from killing the wrong sort of people. I made many widows and orphans, and too many enemies. It was my downfall. Because the person I trusted the most made me a worse man instead of a better one."

"And Xander will make Dawn better?"

"If you allow it. And help nudge her along the way.

She is often too stubborn for her own good. I suppose," Villa sighs as he pulls out a cigar and lights it with a match, "that it runs in the family."

Buffy thinks on the times she listed to Spike alone, or even Angel. And ponders. All the decisions she made.

"I have one more question," Buffy tells Villa.

"Yes," Villa answers her. "You will have to do something about Willow. And yourself. Eventually. But look on the bright side. You awoke the African. So perhaps you and Willow can both defeat him together.

And accidentally get killed on purpose."

Buffy looks at him sadly.

Villa smiles and says "But that is another day.

Besides, only vampires live forever. And their day will pass too, soon enough."

"Can I have a cigar?"

"Of course. They are very good."


The next day, Willow complained about cigar smoke in the apartment, and Buffy merely smiled and said that things sometimes have a way of working out.