This is the second chapter of The Message
. There are a few more being edited right now, and they'll be up soon. Expect updates of this story at least three times a week, if not more (at least until I find a job).
The usual disclaimer applies.
“Giles!” Buffy shouted as she walked back into the house, “Giles, we need to talk, now!” The living room was crowded with boxes and suitcases that hadn’t been unpacked yet, left over from the hurried exit from Sunnydale. Buffy was still grateful that Xander had insisted they move their cars out of town, filled with their luggage, the day before the final battle. He wanted to have different mobile stations set up in case they lost the battle and had to be ready for a quick evac.
Buffy strode towards the kitchen where she spotted Xander and Dawn making sandwiches. “Guys, we need to have a scooby meeting. Do you know where Giles is?” Dawn shook her head and Xander shrugged before taking a bit out of his sandwich.
Buffy sighed and reached for the phone, quickly using the intercom system to page Giles and the others to the kitchen. After Joan’s visit, and whistler’s the night before, she knew something big was coming. And if G-d was saying it was bigger then The First, she was scared. It had taken so much out of the group to fight Caleb--they had lost Anya and Spike, Xander had lost his eye. Being told that there was a bigger battle coming, a battle not of this planet...
Andrew raced into the kitchen before standing in front of Buffy and snapping to attention, “Sir, Andrew reporting for duty, sir,”. He’d been on this military kick for the past couple of weeks, after Faith made a comment about how the group needed a general, someone that would always be in charge with regards to world-ending situations. No one wanted a repeat of Sunnydale, where, when the group had been scared and lost, they kicked Buffy out. Buffy was appointment by the newly called slayers, and that was that. She was the oldest slayer, the best slayer, and nobody could take her place.
“Andrew, stop it.” Buffy whined, as she had every time he ‘Reported for Duty’. “I’m not male and this isn’t the military.” She sounded exasperated.
Faith entered the kitchen on that note, chuckling to herself. “B, am I ever glad not to have been picked, Sir!” she joked. “What’s the sitch?” Giles followed Faith in, dragging a reluctant Kennedy. Ever since Sunnydale she’d been withdrawing more and more from the group, looking to go on her own.
“We missing anyone?” He asked, gazing at the group. “Where’s Willow? Robin?”
“My honey’s at the interview in town, remember?” Faith reminded the group.
“And I’m here Giles,” Willow replied, walking into the kitchen. “This have to do with the messenger?” she asked, shooting Buffy an inquisitive look.
“What messenger?” Dawn mumbled, her mouth full. “There was a messenger? Did whistler come back? You should totally make him into a hat, Buffy.” she continued.
The group stifled a cautious laugh, still aware that something must of happened to have Buffy this rattled, frantic even. The previous meeting during which Buffy explained what she and The Powers had decided upon had been unexpected. Whatever this meeting regarded was even more unexpected.
Buffy sighed and began pacing in front of the group. “Wills, I need a privacy spell. The others can’t hear this conversation. At the rate these meetings are happening, we should just have a couple rooms warded to prevent eavesdropping, permanently.” Buffy continued, talking more to herself then the group.
A few minutes later Willow nodded and Buffy continued. “The messenger--um, Joan. She is a messenger from G-d.” Buffy started. She wasn’t sure how this group would respond to the idea that G-d had sent someone to them with a message.
“Do you mean the powers? Have they finally sent someone other then that dreaded Whistler?” Giles intoned, smiling slightly to himself. Maybe Whistler had been wrong the night before, and there wasn’t a new big bad the group needed to fight.
“Um, no. I mean G-d, G-d. The creator? Highest power? The Power’s boss?” Buffy explained. “Joan is one of his messengers.” Buffy paused, contemplating what she had learned, “doesn’t that mean Joan’s a prophet, Wills?”
Willow looked at Buffy a little shocked. “Um, Buff, I think we need to focus on the fact that G-d is contacting us. We can worry about what Joan is later.” Buffy nodded.
“Joan had quite a lot to say to us. or rather, G-d did. He sends his thanks, for saving the world again. And told Joan to tell me to tell Wills that she was beyond forgiven for her temporary darkness. And um. Tara’s doing great, and Dawnie, you’re gonna have tons and tons of kids for me to spoil, so ya know, yeah.” Buffy rambled.
Giles stood and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Calm down, Buffy. Explain from the beginning, if you wouldn’t mind.”
Buffy bowed her head, lost in thought. There was just so much Joan had told her, she wasn’t sure where to begin. “He said thank you. To all of us, for ya know, fighting The First.” Buffy explained.
“Don’t you mean killing The First?” Xander asked, “because ya know, we kicked its ass, if I do say so myself.”
Buffy shook her head, golden hair swishing back and forth. “Yeah, about that. We didn’t, kick its ass, I mean. We kind of, maybe, stubbed its toe. Maybe even caused it to sprain an ankle.” Buffy clarified. “It’s still out there, waiting for us to screw up so it can come back at us, full force. Joan said we have a couple of years, first, but that the first stage of the next battle will be starting in a few months.”
The group looked shocked, and angry. After everything they’d done, everyone they’d lost...it still wasn’t enough.
“And next time, its going to be stronger, faster, harder to hurt, nearly impossible to kill. I think that’s why we have to fight these new battles that Whistler was telling us about, so we can know how to other people fight, how other people win.” Buffy moved towards an empty chair and sat down, mentally exhausted.
“Good lord.” Giles responded, reaching for his glasses. “Harder to hurt? Buffy!”
“Yeah, well, I didn’t exactly make the rules, now did I?” Buffy leaned over the table and began to knock her head into the hard wood, over and over again. “It gets better, though. We know certain things that can help us prepare.”
“Prepare?” Willow stood up, shouting. “PREPARE? The last time we faced The First, we lost people. I had to use more magic then I thought was possible. We had Spike and Anya. We were strong! And now, look at us. We’re sitting in a rundown house, where we haven’t even bothered to unpack because we’re so tired. We don’t need this now. I don’t need this now. I still have to deactivate whatever slayers who want to quit. And you tell us this.” She turned and began to exit the room, intent on forgetting everything that had been said that morning.
Buffy turned and watched Willow as she stalked towards the living room. “I didn’t ask for this either, Wills. None of us did. We all thought we’d have time to get our act together, time to rest and have fun and remember what living felt like, because none of us do, remember that is. I thought I’d get to see Dawn grow up and get married, I thought Xander would get to set up his own wood shop, and Giles would have time to train new watchers. But it doesn’t work like that.
“Instead, we have to be calm. We have to remember exactly what we’re fighting for, and then we have to start over. There are a thousand and one things I’d rather be doing, there are a thousand and one things that you’d rather be doing. We don’t have that choice anymore. G-d himself told us to start preparing. We have time, a couple of months, before we even have to think about fighting. We have time to rest, and train the slayers, and figure out which battles need to be fought. Whistler said there were three. Joan said the first one isn’t of this planet. We have clues.” Buffy sighed, exhausted.
The others were slowly nodding, gathering strength to lend to their general, the one who would always know what to do. Willow turned around, gazing back into the kitchen. “You’re right, Buffy.”
“Was there anything else this Joan told you, Buffster?” Xander asked, viewing the tension in the room.
“Willow is going to be important, even more. Tara’s watching out for her. Dawn is going to have kids, I’m going to be an aunt.”
“Wait!” Dawn called out, shocked. “I’m not bumping hips with anyone. I’m not pregnant! I’m not!”
The group laughed. “Not now, Dawnie, In a few years, after you get married.”
“Well then, okay,” Dawn smiled.
“Tara?” Willow whispered before sitting down on the ground beneath her, shaking. “Tara?”
Buffy smiled and nodded, “She forgives you, loves you. So does G-d. Joan specified that.” Willow looked shell-shocked.
“Yes, well, that is good. Was there anything else, Buffy? Any information?”
Buffy thought back through her conversation with Joan. “Both her and Whistler kept saying that the next battle wasn’t of Earth. They both also mentioned the military.”
Andrew stood, excited. “Aliens? ALIENS?” He nearly fainted.
“We’ll need to research this. Willow, can you get on that contraption of yours and figure out what the military has to do with aliens? The rest of us will work on talking to the slayers and finding out who wants to leave. Kennedy, you and Faith will train the girls. Xander, please repair the house as best you can. Dawn, you and Buffy need to enroll the girls in school. All the slayers, unless they are over 18 and have taken their G.E.D. or graduated.” Giles stood. “We’ll meet back here in two days, report what we know. I’ll work on getting the council’s monies, with Willow’s help.”
The scoobies stood and stretched, each silent and contemplative of what had just transpired. Then they turned and walked out of the kitchen, leaving Buffy and Dawn alone.
“I have to go back to high school?” Dawn whined, making Buffy laugh.
“Well, at least you’ll know all the new girls, and already have friends,” Buffy smiled.
“Hey Buffy,” Dawn tensed, “This new thing. You’ll be safe, right? I can’t lose you again.”
Buffy sighed and hugged Dawn close to her body. “Joan said I’d be an auntie, live to spoil the kids. I’m going to be here for awhile yet, still around to punish you for any of the dumb things you do.” The girls laughed nervously.
“Thanks.” Dawn whispered. “I love you.”
Buffy leaned close to Dawn’s ear and whispered back, “I love you too. Now, lets go figure out what high school you want to attend.” The sisters walked out of the kitchen in silence.