Tears, Torment, and Jade
Pairings: B/X/W mostly although there will also be mild noncom (mentioned but very little explicit) W/Cordelia/Harmony, and Xander/Drusilla.
Summary: For Halloween, our heroes go dressed as three Terakan Assassins, which grant them great powers…Powers that come at a terrible price.
Authors note. I forget where I got the original idea from, I believe it was a Xanderzone challenge, but I made it mine. This is a dark story where the Scooby’s, even before the costumes are darker versions of themselves. Cordelia and Harmony were more than just slightly mean to willow. They were vicious, racist, and torturous to levels far beyond the show. Xander’s parents were physically and mentally abusive to a far higher degree than was ever shown on TV. And Buffy never quite forgave her mother for sending her to a mental institution instead of believing her. All in all, we have three characters that are primed and ready to give in to their darker impulses. But be warned, while the Scooby’s don’t want the world to be destroyed in fire and claw, they won’t be heroes either. You may not always root for them, and you probably shouldn’t.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Buffy the vampire slayer characters or concepts and I intend to make no money off of any of them.
Read, review, and enjoy.
Giles swiftly made his way through the nearly empty streets of Sunnydale. The watcher’s stomach was a knot of ice. The voice of his charge had sounded so *distant* when she had called the school library. Her voice lacked the musical and lively quality he had always associated with the blond slayer. He reached the costume shop Ethan’s in record time, his concern for
Buffy overriding his normally overly cautious driving. Xander was waiting outside the store, resplendent in faux chain mail and soot colored tabard.
“Hey G-man,” the teen greeted with a subdued smile.
“Where’s Buffy?” Giles demanded. A smaller part of him noticed how quiet the boy was. He had found Xander to be quite irritating most of the time but the sudden lack of a genuine grin on Xander’s face worried him nearly as Buffy’s cold voice.
Xander thumbed back towards the store. “Inside. With Willow,” he added ominously.
Giles sucked in a breath. Lord, Willow was involved with whatever happened as well. Something had happened to all three of his children.
Worried more than ever, Giles followed Xander inside the store.
The inside of Ethan’s was madhouse of masks, discarded costumes, fake jewelry and makeup. Giles took it all in as he searched the room with his eyes for his slayer.
“She’s not here.” Xander answered the unspoken question in a soft voice. “She and Will are in back.”
“What happened Xander?” Giles asked. “What’s going on?”
Xander shook his head. “You need to see first.” He led Giles into the rear area of the store.
And right into a scene straight out of a horror film.
The back door of store was open. The floor of the storeroom was covered in ash that Giles suspected had come from a half dozen vampires. But that wasn’t the horrific part. Bodies were strewn everywhere and the mixture of blood and ash had coated the floor with a dark paste. The whole area smelled liked vacated bowels and ruptured organs.
Giles first noted the corpse of a teen in pirate costume lying on the ground and he recognized Larry from the boy’s rare forays into the Library. It looked like his throat had been laid open with long blade. A shattered cutlass lay near his hand. Near the teen’s corpse was the body of several demons. Some were apparently killed by a blade. Others looked to have been killed by blows of amazing strength that shattered bones and tore through flesh. Buffy stood over the corpses wearing the remnants of a short sleeved Mandarin dress of jade green with elegant dragons in gold filigree crawling up the sides. Strands of hair dangled loose from the bun she had knotted and held in place with a pair of jade green enameled sticks.
He shivered as he met her stare. Her normally expressive blue eyes were shards of grey ice and her pink lips were in a tight line. “”Hi Giles,” she greeted quietly. “I’m glad you came.” She shot her watcher a shy smile that broke the Englishman’s heart.
“Of course I came B—Oh Lord.” As Giles started to answer he noticed Willow for the first time.
The redhead knelt by one of the most mutilated corpses Giles had ever seen. The young redhead wore blood soaked tatters than had probably been an imitation peasant woman’s dress at one point. She stared blankly at the corpse and Giles did likewise, trying to divine who the poor soul with the tortured features had been. After a moment, Giles connected the face with the name Ethan’s and realized it had belong to his old demon summoning friend. Suddenly a lot of things started to clear up. Ethan had done something to the costumes. Changed them somehow. Even as Giles thought, he catalogued Willows nearly catatonic state and her blood soaked hands and prayed that Ethan had truly suffered a punishment worthy of his actions. Based on the expression of absolute pain inscribed on his face, Giles suspected he had.
“We’ll tell you what happened.” Buffy said, “But first you have to help us clean up.”
“So Angel said he totally hated those girls from his time. So I need to return the dress.” Buffy complained to her two companions.
“Good.” Xander answered. “Noble women are boring anyway. You should be something more fun. Hopefully in spandex.” He mock leered towards Buffy.
The slayer slapped her friend on the shoulder. “So,” she drawled. “Recommendations?”
“Xander and I are going as medieval people. I’m going as a witch and he’s going as a knight. You could come as something with us.” Willow added helpfully.
“Maybe.” Buffy answered doubtfully. “But that sounds like a costume that would be way too Giles-y.”
“Miss Summers! You have returned to my fine establishment. Is there something amiss with your costume?” A cultured voice said from behind.
The three students turned around to see a slender middle aged man standing behind them in casual but well tailored clothes. Ethan Rayne. They had all met him earlier when they came to the store the first time to get their costumes.
“Hi Mister Rayne.” Buffy said sadly. “I want to exchange this dress for something else. I don’t think this costume is going to work out.” She continued with a sad expression.
“Of course. Whatever you desire.” The proprietor agreed. “Anything for a friend of Rupert’s.” he added with a smile.
“Maybe something that would match our costumes?” Xander offered
Buffy was surprised to see the gleam in Ethan’s eyes as he considered Willow and Xander’s purchases.
“I do have something that I believe would fit you perfectly Miss Summers. It would be a magnificent companion piece for your two friends. Had I thought of it earlier I would have most certainly recommended it.”
He led the group to back of the shop. “I hadn’t intended to bring this out but I cannot resist seeing you in it.” Ethan said as he pulled out a magnificent Chinese dress of green and gold. He put it next to Buffy to compare sizes. “It’s as if it was made for you, Miss Summers.” He said excitedly.
“How does this go with Xander and Willow’s costumes?” Buffy asked. “I know I don’t pay attentions all that much in history but Mandarin dresses don’t exactly go with knights and witches.”
Ethan smiled widely. “Miss Summers, there was once three friends that lived a very long time ago. They were from alien parts of the world and yet they managed to find each other and were as close as can be. Some say that they were destined to be together.” He smiled. “I’m not sure I believe that but I suppose that it does appeal to the secret romantic within me. They traveled around the world as part of a secret organization and it is said that they fought demons on their travels. I look at you and your two friends and I cannot help but see that kind of friendship between the three of you that they once had.”
The three friends exchanged glances. “Okay, Mister Rayne. I’ll take it.” Buffy said after attempting to fight against the puppy dog looks both Xander and Willow gave her.
“Excellent.” Ethan rubbed his hands together. “I must give you these.” And he rummaged around the boxes until he found three rings that he handed to the three friends. “These are imitations of the rings that indicated their membership in a secret order of adventurers. It will complete the costume.”
“What was this group called?” Willow asked curiously.
“The Order of Teraka.” Giles answered in a grim tone.
It hadn’t taken Giles long to find the ingredients to a ritual that was designed to remove remains all traces, both mundane and psychic, that was left over. Giles found it mildly amusing that ingredients Ethan used to sow chaos were used to hide the evidence of his own murder at the hands of one of his own machinations.
Buffy and Xander tenderly took care of Willow, washing the blood off of her arms and face, and doing the best they could to clean up her clothes.
Afterwards, Giles lead to group back to his apartment where he could find out what exactly happened. The ensuing story was breathtaking in its innocent beginning and terrifying end
“Yep.” Xander agreed. He and Buffy sat next to each other, still in their costumes.
“But how do you still know what the Order was called?” Giles asked. “That knowledge should have fled with the possession.”
“Because we remember everything.”
Willow’s raspy voice drew everyone’s attention. It was the first time the slender redhead had spoken since Giles had gotten there. The watcher felt his stomach twist into knots when his thoughts assimilated what Willow said. If it was true, and by the looks the three of them were sharing between each other, it seemed it was, there was no telling what sort of changes the three of them are going to experience. Terakan’s were beyond dangerous. They never failed. They never quit. Most of them weren’t even human and had centuries of experience to rely upon. Centuries of experience in killing. If Buffy and the others each had the memories of one…
“What precisely do you remember?” Giles asked. He had a sneaking suspicion that he knew the answer and wasn’t going to like it.
“Will wasn’t kidding when she said that we remembered everything.” Xander answered slowly. “All three of us remember lives as an assassin. I would guess that the assassin who owned each of the rings we had. I can remember battles, spells, skills, languages, everything that the assassin knew, I know now. Or at least I think I do. It’s hard to tell.” Xander added with a grin that said whatever else happened, he wasn’t totally lost to the world.
“We also knew each other,” Willow whispered. Her eyes darted back and forth between Buffy and Xander while a flush began to creep up her pale neck.
“Know each—Willow, Terakan Assassins don’t know each other. They’re all independent contractors. They even kill each other to make sure they don’t have competition for their contracts.”
“We three did know each other Giles.” Buffy said softly. “We…they…worked together for hundreds of years.”
Giles rubbed his temples. “Give me their names and I’ll see what I can find out about them from the council archives.” He watched as they subtly exchanged glances—as if silently communing about how much to tell him.
“Marcus De Rais, the Knight of Ash and Tears.” Xander said quietly.
Willow gave a terse one word answer. “Torment.”
“Jade.” Buffy spoke strongly. “The Dragon Queen. But you won’t find her in your chronicles under that name. Look under the title 10th Grandmistress of the Order of Teraka.”
“What are we going to do?” Xander asked Buffy as the three of them walked themselves back home. They had stayed at Giles for another hour as they discussed what they should tell—if anything—to the watchers council.
In the end, Giles had reluctantly agreed to leave the events out of his watcher diaries. He hated to not record things for posterity but the information they knew could get them killed if the council found out about it. They tended to destroy anything that didn’t fit into their neat little world.
And three teens—one of which was their slayer—turning into three legendary Terakan Assassins definitely qualified as outside their neat little world.
“We go to school tomorrow,” Buffy said simply. “We live our lives. But we make a few changes.”
“Changes?” Xander asked.
He though he knew what Buffy’s response would be. Something in him felt like he had known her for centuries instead of little more than a full year. Memories of he, Buffy, and Willow were overlaid by older memories, legions of them that told him what to expect from both of his lov—friends, he corrected mentally.
“I don’t want to die.” Buffy said quietly, “And with what I know now, I don’t have too. None of us do. Not ever.”
“First thing,” Xander said in a thoughtful tone, “we get some more help. Jonathan and Amy both know magic. We can use them. Mold them into casters we can use. More people, more big guns between us and danger.”
“I agree.” Buffy answered. “I’ll handle recruiting at school. I know enough alchemy and Chinese magic to whet their appetites. We’ll have them eating out of our hands in no time and with a few extra casters we can do some major workings using the hell mouth’s energy. We—they didn’t have the Hellmouth behind them last time.”
Xander nodded in agreement. The three assassins had been killed in an internal dispute with the Order of Teraka. While they were powerful and dangerous they weren’t immortal. The fact that the original three were all dead was a testament to that fact. They had to be careful, but if they were, they could use the power that was resting beneath their feet for all sorts of interesting things.
Both looked over at willow and saw that the third member of their group was ignoring the conversation.
“You should also look into the vamp situation. See if there are any that we can use.” Buffy shot Xander a smile. “Good beginning by the way. She’ll be…interesting.”
“I’ll be like Charlie,” Xander said, “except my angels got teeth.” He could feel his necromantic powers lying dormant in him and he ached to try them out again, this time under his own volition instead of while possessed by a foreign assassin.
Willow walked a little faster as the other two spoke, her head bowed and cloud of red hair hiding her face. Xander reached out a hand and grabbed her. “What’s wrong?” he asked his oldest friend in a soft tone.
“What I want…” she muttered, “it’s…it’s not right.” She looked up and met Xander with a haunted gaze. “It’s just not right.” she murmured.
Xander and Buffy exchanged concerned looks over Willow’s head. Torment was always the most unstable of the group. While her powers were nothing short of miraculous, her background had left her in a very precarious mental state. Clearly that aspect of the assassin’s character had already flowered in full in shy girl’s mind. It left them worried for what might happen to their own.
Buffy touched Willow briefly on the arm. “Everything’ll be fine. I promise. Xander and I will make sure you don’t do anything you don’t want to.”
Willow brushed tears from her eyes. “What if I *do* want to do them?” she asked in a quavering tone.
Xander and Buffy traded glances. Their new memories gave them a clear impression as to the appetites of Torment. “We’ll back you up on that too.” Xander said softly. “Whatever you need we’ll be there for you.”
Willow gave a weak nod and smiled bravely at her two friends. Buffy gave her a hug and then a second to Xander before she broke off towards her house leaving the two old friends alone.
His face was different. His body was different.
His nose was thinner and jaw wasn’t as square. His eyes should be blue and his hair yellowier--like spun gold. His body should be tanner and bulkier with hard earned muscles. Xander stared at himself in the mirror for several minutes before splashing water on his face. He marveled at how much of a stranger he felt like in his own form. He held up a hand and slowly turned it to and fro and was genuinely surprised to see that there wasn’t the old pattern of scars and calluses that had speckled the hand of the Knight of Ash and Tears. He had to remind himself that he wasn’t that person; he had only dressed as him.
The confusing physicality of his new memories was only the beginning of his unbalance. His mind swirled with memories, powers, skills, and history that he had never survived. The effect had only grown stronger since the spell ended and his mind had started to adjust to the new influx.
He could remember his mother, the village whore, bouncing him on her knee in a French village sometime during the middle ages and telling him that his father had a been a great knight. He remembered the contempt he had for the woman who bore him and teasing he had suffered at the hands of the village children for his mother the slut.
He remembered the spurt of warm blood that had cascaded over his hands when he slit his mother’s throat and killed her current paramour one night and stole out of the village to make a name for him.
He remembered the life of a mercenary warrior that he had lived. The attributes of a half dozen demons ran through his veins granting him strength and long life. During the crusades he learned the arts of necromancy from Arabic daemons and much of the ancient lore of the Middle East and Church fell into his hands. He used that knowledge to create and command the knights of Mortis, an elite order of vampire knights. For more than a century he lived a life of plunder and rapine, his vampire concubines providing him with limitless enjoyment.
Until the slayer came.
One night one hundred and five years after he formed the knights of mortis a slayer broke into his castle and single handedly decimated his concubines and vampire knights. He himself barely survived battle with the pretty killing machine, fleeing into the night. She burned his vast library to the ground and destroyed his talismans of power before vanishing into the night.
For three months he tracked her, stalking her from a distance with the patience of the dead and the dammed. He watched her fight, learning her moves and watching her kill every night with an almost frenetic desperation.
When he finally tested himself against her, the battle had proven to be quite one sided. He slew her watcher with ease and the keening slayer herself proved to be no hardship.
Only afterwards, as he crept back to his bedroll, he discovered a ring lying on top of his belongings with a tightly wound scroll through the loop. A scroll, that when he opened, promised him membership in the Sacred Order of Teraka…
Buffy slowly stripped herself of the silk dress that she had worn over Halloween. With the grace of a slayer and life-long martial artist she stretched, unconsciously manipulating each individual muscle of her body for maximum gain. A smile formed on her face, a thin quirky creation that had never before been made by Buffy Anne Summers.
Buffy admitted to herself that she had never been what one would can an introspective person before becoming the slayer. Vapid, silly, and vain were words that could have been used to describe her but not introspective. But since becoming the slayer she had been forced to consider things that most other teenagers took decades to come to terms with. It had all started in the asylum she had done a stint in when she mistakenly tried to tell her parents about her new life. Drugs, straight jackets and psychiatrists were all quite conducive to turning ones thoughts inward. Buffy was actually quite proud of herself that she had grown as much as she had in the eighteen months she had been the slayer.
But that growth was a pale imitation of what had happened to her tonight. She marveled at the depth and complexity of her own thoughts—as if her mind had been a dark, still pond and Halloween had shown a light into its depths revealing a pool without limits. So much seemed so clear to her now, tactics and strategies filled her thoughts, magic’s and alchemy of such power bubbled from the recesses of her unconscious she was giddy at the possibilities of what she could do. Other things filled her mind as well…
She could remember being the daughter of a powerful beauracrat’s concubine in china. In her lonely childhood she befriended her fathers gardener and he revealed an amazing secret to the intelligent, but solitary girl. He was an alchemist, martial artist, and Taoist sage. He taught the girl everything he knew about magic and the fighting arts as well as the philosophy of Taoism—a lifestyle devoted to living in harmony with nature and the environment. A true Taoist master had access to amazing sorceries that might someday lead to immortality and ascension to a higher plane of existence and the gardener revealed some of those secrets to the child beauty. He showed the girl vistas of power and knowledge that were rarely seen by any human, let alone female children of officials. Displaying prodigious talents the girl took to the training like a duck to water. Soon enough she grew up and the childish prettiness of youth blossomed into seductive beauty. Her father took great pride in his accomplished only child and made a magnificent match between her and a young up and coming administrator—one only two decades older than her.
Furious at her status as chattel, the young girl—who had taken to calling herself Jade after the mystical stone that was so prevalent in her arts—rebelled against her father. Furious at his daughter’s willfulness he had her only friend executed for putting those ideas in her head.
Buffy could picture the head of the gardener held up by her father’s executioner. If she closed her eyes she could see the sad lifeless stare of the dead man. Even though it had happened hundreds of years ago to man she had never met it still filled her with poisonous rage.
When the same rage filled Jade, she used her skills her mentor taught her to fight her father and all his guards. The skills that had only previously been theoretical were turned to terrible practice. She slaughtered the whole household and fled into the night with nothing more than the clothes on her back.
Using her magic and skills to survive in the wilds she sought out other Taoist masters so that she could complete her journey to immortality. Eventually, she found one. She had heard of a blind old painter had lived in the same cave for centuries. She sought him out and begged him to take her on finish teaching her the secrets of the Tao.
His kind, blind gaze turned away from her and in a voice like reeds he told her that he would never aid someone with as much blood on her hands as she. Devastated she attacked him with all her skills.
The blind old painter left her alive. Barely. It would be the second and last time she would act without thinking.
Slowly recovering from her injuries Jade changed her ways and began seeking out the darkest of tutors in both the human and demon realms. She developed a reputation as an intelligent, cunning planner who managed impossible assassinations. She bartered her killing skills for scraps of knowledge until she came to the attention of the Order of Teraka. By that time the young girl’s soul had entirely withered away, leaving an embittered assassin who felt no remorse when she donned the ring of the Order of Teraka.
Her first mission for the Order carried her to a cave with a blind old painter…
Willow Rosenberg lay naked on her bed, stared at her wall, and tried desperately not to think or feel.
Everything was spinning out of control. Memories, feeling, power oozed like blood from her subconscious. She could smell the offal of the small German village she was born in. Her eyes had been two different colors—hazel and blue, and the villagers believed her a demon clothed in flesh.
It didn’t help that she was…
But it was worse than the horrific overlays of an abused life turned into an abusers life is the way it made her *feel*. She had pain of her own, pain and shame that she had twisted on herself until she hated the person she saw in the mirror.
Fat little willow…
No wonder she doesn’t have any friends…
Xander doesn’t care about you…
he pities you…
Willow staggered to her bathroom and vomited into the toilet. Over the years Cordelia and harmony had been more than mean to her. They had cut her down and belittled her, attacking her body, her race, her religion. They had left her self esteem in tatters. For as long as Willow could remember Cordelia Chase and Harmony Kendall thought themselves her betters. They had come after her like a pair of jackals, sensing her weakness and already low self esteem thanks to her perfectionist parents. Their constant attacks about her freckles, pasty skin, and childish fat had left her so insecure about herself that she took to starving herself in a vain effort to try and fit in.
It wasn’t until Xander started sneaking over and forcing her to eat his dinner that she started to lose her gauntness. Until she met Buffy it had always been a struggle not to lapse in her old habits.
Buffy showed her a different way. A way that made her worth something. She was a slayerette. She helped to save the world along side her two best friends. She was even starting to learn magic from Ms. Calendar and Giles. It had been enough.
Enough until now.
She could see the smirking faces of Cordelia and Harmony. They were rich and pretty. They got whatever they wanted, they tormented whoever they wanted and no one ever did anything about it because of who their parents were. There had been Kendall’s and Chase’s in Sunnydale since the towns founding. They had blood ties to the mayor’s own family and no one would ever dare to punish either girl for the slightest infraction.
Willow hated them both more than she could say. It was so clear to her now. The way they took, they way they used everyone and everything around them. She had seen it before. Well…maybe not her but she had the memories of other users, other people who took whatever they wanted.
An endless parade of people passed through her memories. She had been a slave, at first kicked, beaten, and made to do chores to earn her keep, which changed when she grew older and developed a woman’s body. The beatings continued, but they also escalated until she was raped by the lord who was keeping her. Over and over again…
She was going to get Cordelia. Her and Harmony. She had the power now. She had the strength to get what she wanted.
And what she wanted was revenge.
Drusilla’s dulcet tones turned Xander’s insides into ice. He turned around to see the vampire waif sitting on a branch outside of his second story window. Large luminescent eyes silently begged him to be allowed to cross the threshold so that she might better serve him.
Memories assaulted him. He and Spike fighting, relying on his magic and skills to keep him alive despite the inferior strength of this body compared to the demon enhanced form he had worn for centuries. Beating the vampire back and forcing him to disappear into the night. Paralyzing Drusilla with a necromantic word and working the Rite of Taking upon her… a mystical rape transforming her into a slave to his will…
“Hello my pet.” Xander whispered. The words seemed alien coming from his mouth yet it was as if he said them a thousand times before. The smooth command implicit in the simple phrase allowed the pale vampiress to enter through his window.
She slid toward him, her large moon hued eyes sucking in all the light of the room.
Xander stared at her, blank faced. A part of him wanted to run screaming from the room—after all the woman standing within arms reach of him was capable of disemboweling him before he could blink. But the fear was such a small part of who he was now. There was lust too, and the fierce joy of owning something body and mind. This creature was his to do with as he wished. He pushed her onto his small bed and pushed up the dress that she was wearing, exposing pallid thighs. His mouth caught hers as he asserted his dominance. Her hands caught his pants and yanked them down with the unnatural strength of the dead, his underwear following suit a moment later. Before he knew it, he was in her thrusting and grunting with animalistic passion. Drusilla’s nails raked over his back shredding his shirt and drawing blood. He lasted a dozen minutes before he spent his seed and rolled off of her.
“Dru, find me an abandoned house, something that I could live in. Kill the vampires that are there and find me tomorrow night.” Xander ordered casually as he found another pair of pants and a clean shirt.
“Of course kitten-master. Mummy just wants to make you happy.” The mad female vampire said innocently.
Xander reached out and stroked her face briefly, his expression unreadable. “Go.” he said again. “Find a place for the three of us.” Drusilla nodded and vanished out the window with the stealth only a vampire could muster.
As soon as she left Xander let his head drop into his hands. What had he just done? Just the thought caused a spasm of dark laughter to shudder through him. He had just lost his virginity, that’s what. To Drusilla no less. Something he had been imagining for years, talked about with Jesse endless, and he had just given it to a female vampire slave for twelve minutes in heaven.
What has he become?
A while later Xander walked downstairs and made his way to the back door.
“W’ere you goin’ boy?” Anthony Harris slurred.
Xander turned around. His father stood framed in the doorway that led from the kitchen to the dining room. He held an empty bottle of cheap wine in his hands—clearly he had just been coming for a refill and walked in on Xander.
“I’m going out, dad.” Xander answered back quietly.
“No you ain’t boy. You have to clean up that shit stain you call a room. And it’s late anyway. Where you gonna go? That little redhead Jew-girl’s house?”
Xander just reacted. The memories of Terakan killing his own mother were suddenly there and he acted instinctively. His left hand lashed out and caught his father in the throat. Only inexperience kept him from killing the older man instantly. Even though there were countless memories of the man using the strike, Xander’s muscles had never performed the action and the killing blow was considerably off the mark.
Still Tony went down like a sack of potato’s and gasped for air with the comical expression of a drowning fish. Xander stood over him and said coldly, “I’ll be back for my things later and then you will never see me again.” His hands flexed slightly, an imagery knife just waiting to be plunged into the sperm donor’s heart. “Stay out of my way.”
Silently he went out the door and didn’t look back.
“Come in Dawn.” Buffy Summers called out exasperatedly. She had felt her younger sister lurking outsider her door for twenty minutes. The naturally inquisitive youngster clearly wanted to talk with her older sister but what kept her from coming in was the hastily scratched Chinese symbol for solitude that Buffy had etched over the door with her stake. The small magic should have kept the girl from even thinking about talking to Buffy as long as the slayer was in her room and it was rather impressive that she had hung on as long as she had.
Buffy watched as her slim and coltish sister walked into the room with some trepidation but she couldn’t help but notice the curious look on Dawn’s face. Or the ballet dancers walk she had. The costume memories whispered that they could turn the girl into a most lethal assassin. She had the raw physical and mystical material in spades.
“I…was...Uhh…Justcheckinguponyou.” Dawn rushed out. She blushed and looked down.
“Why?” Buffy asked curiously. She thought she had been very careful in acting as normally as possible around her mother and sister.
“Did something happen to you tonight?” Dawn asked concernedly.
Dawn closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Not even something Hellmouth-y?”
The breath had barely passed the girl’s lips when she felt Buffy’s iron grip close around her neck and force her painfully over to the bed.
“What do you know about the Hellmouth?” Buffy hissed.
Dawn made strangling sounds and motioned to her throat. Buffy blinked and let go, surprised that she had reacted like that—and more surprised that she had spoken in Chinese.
“Sorry.” Buffy said contritely. “What do you know about the Hellmouth, Dawn?” she asked suspiciously. Her sister shouldn’t know anything, just like her mom.
“I know you’re the slayer, Buffy.” Dawn rasped with a weak smile as she stroked her bruised neck. “I overhead you and Xander talking about one day and snuck a look at some of Giles private stack of books one day while waiting for you to finish a detention.”
Buffy shook her head. How could she have been that careless? Letting her younger sister in on the secret? Still, perhaps there could be gain in all of this…
“I have changed, Dawnie. I…am different that what I was when I left earlier tonight.” She said, her voiced pitched for maximum impact. “I know some new things.”
Buffy shook her head. “That doesn’t matter now. Point is, I know that you know now. That changes things. I could maybe…teach you?” she offered hesitantly.
“You really would?” Dawn answered back excitedly. “Like what?”
“Martial Arts, meditation, maybe a little magic.” Buffy said casually. “I can’t have you getting into trouble, now can I…”
“Soon. Maybe tomorrow. I have to go out tonight.” Buffy said. “I don’t want mom to know so you have to cover for me if she asks anything. Can you do that?”
Dawn’s answering smile was all the confirmation she needed.
Willow held up her hands in front of the mirror and focused her will on them. She watched as her fingers lengthened into fleshy whips and grew barbed as an afterthought. She spun around and lashed her finger whips across the room to slice in her sheets. The formerly mousy redhead shuddered in ecstasy. Centuries of memories told her that she would love the feeling of slicing through human flesh. Sex, pain and torture were intimately tied together for her. She—Torment that is--been a victim and perpetrator of each for so long she could no longer separate them in her mind. Domination was the only way she could live. The only people she was safe to be human around were Jade and Marcus. Everyone else only saw Torment.
Torment had been the child of a half demon woman and a ordinary man. The blood of shape changers flowed weakly through her veins. If her noble master had kept his hands and other parts to himself, all she would have ever been was a scullery girl with a taint in her ancestry. But the assaults, the rapes, they conspired to bring out unexpressed demonic genes. Her latent magical powers activated powers that were a part of her heritage. It was a painstakingly slow, unconscious process that took months...
One day she just snapped.
Her fingers sprouted talons of bone and she tore out her rapist’s throat. She stalked through the keep slaughtering men and women indiscriminately, using her pain fueled magic to wreak vengeance on everyone who had sat by while men had used her body. She killed guards, women, children, animals. When she came down from the frenzy she was the only solitary soul left alive in the blood splattered keep.
Her ancestor was a rare type of shapeshifter. Unlike those who could manipulate their bodies to take on any form, she was more limited. Despite those limitations she was well able to use her skills to great effect. She could change muscle, bone, and flesh in ways to grant herself strength, weapons, and armor. She shifted and broke apart her organs so that they couldn’t be turned against her. With a though, her finger bones sharpened to points that could shred through the skin and muscle of others.
The girl-child who would be Torment fled into the countryside and lived as a beast, using raw, half formed magic and demonic skills to survive the wild, if not thrive there. She existed like that for…ages. Someone, a man in robes, found her. He tutored her in the arts of sex and magic, dominance and submission. He nurtured the coal of her rage and sculpted it into a diamond of strength. She learned of the glories of control and power. Her final test was supposed to be a delicate assassination but the peasant girl took a different route—the breaking of her former tutor. He took the Terakan signet ring off his own hand and presented it to his new mistress. At her word he slit his own throat.
Days later she had her first assignment…
With a thought, the fleshy whips retracted into her fingers. She wandered aimlessly to her bed and crawled onto it. Visions of Cordelia and Harmony in bondage danced with fractured memories that belonged to Torment. Tears trickled down her face and like a gathering storm she suddenly began to shake.
A small hand rested on her shoulder. Buffy’s scent filled Willow’s nose and the redhead turned her tear streaked face towards the slayer. “You aren’t alone willow.” Buffy whispered in a gentle voice. “You never will be again.”
Willow didn’t waste words asking how Buffy had gotten into her room. The tortured peasant girl inside her whispered that Jade had always been there for her and that wouldn’t change in this new incarnation as a slayer. Instead she just allowed herself to be comforted by her best friend. Buffy stroked her hair and whispered sweet nothings to her. Both of them knew that the people they had become were lovers of each other and Xander but they still weren’t comfortable with that aspect of themselves.
Xander’s deep voice filled the air as he slid into Willow’s room through her second floor window. “Nothing has changed.” He walked over to his two girls and laid hands on both of them. “It was the three of us for a long time Willow. Me, you, and Jesse. Then Jesse died and Buffy joined the group. You could feel it then too, I know you could Willow. No one knows you better than I do. You could feel the changes, the *rightness* of the three of us. Nothing has changed.” Xander said again. “It’s still the three of us against all comers, Will. It was the three of them against the entire order of Assassins because they were frightened of us—them, and it’ll be the three of us against the Hellmouth, the Council and whatever the hell else is out there. Together we’ll hold them back, we’ll hold them all back and make sure nothing happens.”
“To us at least.” Buffy finished softly.
Outside the window Angel watched the three friends comfort each other. He had been tracking Buffy all night. Since the beginning of Halloween. When the spell started he had raced to find Buffy only to see the small and deadly girl killing vampires left and right. She was using skills he knew she didn’t have and that had confused the souled vampire.
When the spell finally faded he had gone to Buffy’s house only to overhear her conversation with Dawn and the use of Chinese by the slayer was again confounding. Silently he followed the girl to her friend’s house. He had watched her comfort willow and moments later he saw Xander climb in through the window. The three of them huddled close, and spoke, whispering to each other so softly not even Angel could hear. His eyes narrowed as he saw the soft, intimate gestures that the three used on each other, seemingly unconsciously. Something had tied the three of them together and it was so exclusionary, even watching the nonsexual gestures seemed a violation.
Angel watched for a few more minutes and then vanished into the night.
Spike killed every minion that made the mistake of being in the same room with him Halloween night. After all, it wasn’t like they were difficult to come by. A little suck and nibble and they’d be replaced. What was more important was that he got out his frustrations.
They had taken his Dru. His lover, his sire, his everything. For a hundred and twenty years they had cut a bloody path across every damn continent that had something worth eating on it and this was how it was going to end? His beautiful
Dru kneeling in submissively in front of that runny nosed whelp?
Spike’s hands lashed out and he decapitated another fleeing minion. Not bloody likely. He was William the Fuckin’ Blood. He was Spike. He had ridden shotgun during the bloodiest part of Angelus’s reign. He had killed two slayers. Drained their blood, stolen their power and knowledge. He wasn’t going to stand for this.
With a savage jab he pushed his index finger into a certain spot on his left shoulder and gave a savage twist. Energy flooded from the spot and removed most of the pain and weakness he’d been feeling.
How the bloody slayer had been able to poison his Earth Chi he had no idea. She hadn’t known anything about the eastern arts when they had fought just before the night of Saint Vigeous. He had nearly killed her then but when they had fought again tonight she had been light years better than before. Her blows were swift and sure and he recognized a dozen separate kung fu styles in the strikes and he was amazed with the swiftness and fluidity she had switched from style to style.
It was only the strength and knowledge he had drained from the Hong Kong Slayer that had kept him alive. It was the greatest duel the vampire had ever fought in and he had been forced to reach deep into himself to find the skills he needed to stave off his final death.
He was good, held his own in the fight until that bitch had hit him in the shoulder and poisoned his earth chi. Hell, he’d still be giddy from the battle high except that the fight consumed so much of his attention that he neglected to notice the whelp in the grey armor had done something to his Drusilla. Still he wasn’t without hope. He knew the best way to break off any enchantment that might be affecting his girl.
Kill the warlock in question.
A few days later
The first day back at school for the three scoobies turned Terakan Assassins was a revelation for them. New eyes surveyed the campus and ancient insights told them strange things about their fellow students.
Xander was the closest to normal—at least outwardly. He wore a loud, clashing Hawaiian shirt that could have caused a Hell gods eyes to bleed and jeans. He even wore his old ever-present smile. But this smile never reached his eyes. It was cold and calculating. Assessing everyone around him for their potential uses.
He could feel the Hell mouth’s energy right beneath his feet. It boiled and flamed. It was impossibly strong and not even he could tap into it with impunity. That annoyed him.
He was also a little annoyed for another reason. Drusilla had found him a great new home in the Sunnydale hills where people like the Mayor and Cordelia lived. The home was totally abandoned aside from the vampire squatters. Problem is, is that it’s a big mansion and that meant a lot of vampire squatters. Even with their new knowledge and power it wouldn’t be an easy fight and he wasn’t willing to risk either of his girls just so he could get a better place to live.
So he was reduced to spinning his wheels and putting a few lesser plans in motion.
Like his trip to the zoo tonight.
Buffy wore her hair pinned up with a pair of ornate chopsticks. A Chinese style blouse and knee length black skirt completed her new ensemble. She slipped through the school watching the students with practiced eyes and marveled at the things she learned.
She could read their auras. She could feel how the Hellmouth had changed them, shaped their minds to make them more receptive to commands and orders. She could tell which students had magical talents and which had the taint of demon blood in their ancestry.
Buffy watched their smiles and laughs and knew their innermost secrets. Who hated who. Who loved who. The web of relationships was so clear to her she couldn’t understand how she could have been blind to their dynamics in the past. It was all so plain.
Everything seemed so much easier to her lately. Jade was supremely intelligent and disgustingly skilled at just about everything.
For an assassin she sure had a lot of hobbies.
Buffy had just finished equipping a new alchemy laboratory in the basement/laundry room. A little magic made sure her mother gave her all the money she needed to start up and ensure privacy during the delicate stages of her alchemy.
In the western world, alchemy was synonymous with the search for lead into gold or the philosopher’s stone. But to Jade—and now Buffy—Alchemy was about something infinitely more precious than gold. It was about refining the self, stripping away the dross and weakness of humanity and becoming a powerful immortal.
It had been Jade’s greatest fantasy to find the secret for herself and her lovers. She already had long life and youth. For something that so many strived to achieve it was among the easiest of things for a Taoist Sorcerer to do. A combination of herbs, Yoga, and certain spells made sure that Buffy would be a young and perky cheerleader for a long time to come. True immortality was something different. They would have the power to do as they would wish. Their minds would expand to encompass all the possibilities of this and other realities. Other Taoists had found the secrets and vanished to aethers or chose to stay behind to help shepherd those who came afterwards. Jade wanted that for herself and those she cared about. All the death, all the assassinations, all the pain and suffering she had inflicted had all been in the service of that noble goal. She had to learn how to do it, she had to.
The alchemy lab was also helpful in many lesser ways as well. It helped to shape the ingredients of her spells, potions and training Dawn.
Buffy had kept her word and begun instructing Dawn in the arts of Taoist magic as well as martial arts. The lanky girl was taking to the training remarkably well and Buffy felt good about what she was doing. A large part of herself explained away what she was doing as something that would keep dawn alive.
But that deep, still part of Jade rubbed her hands in glee at the thought of an extra trained warrior she could use and manipulate.
Willow used to slink the hallway of Sunnydale high like a whipped dog. A creature that had been punished for so long, so many times its will had been broken. She used to keep her head down, praying that her tormenters would leave her alone.
Willow wore a sinfully short black skirt and buttoned down men’s shirt with about half the buttons undone revealing taut pale stomach and impressive cleavage. A few students wondered how her bust size could have gotten so large over the weekend but most put it out of their minds with the same alacrity they used with vampire attacks.
Because no matter how stunning willow had become, her icy demeanor warned everyone off. A few jocks tried to meet her gaze but her frank stare and, in one case, luscious lick of her own lips scared them. There was something eminently predatory about her it caused the primitive parts of their mind to babble incoherently.
Willow just smiled.
Jonathan Levinson turned around when he heard his name mentioned. He saw Xander Harris striding up to him. The dark haired teen seemed somehow different to the shorter geek but he couldn’t put his name on what was different.
“What is it Xander?” He asked wearily. PE had been hard—the coach was deliberately turning his back on the jocks as the picked on him and the abuse that day had been particularly difficult.
Xander smiled. “You’re not stupid.”
Jonathan raised an eyebrow sardonically. “Thanks.” He said sarcastically. Xander was one of the few people that he could be sarcastic around and not get his but kicked for it.
Xander leaned forward. “You know there is something different about Sunnydale. About this school and the whole damn town don’t you.”
Jonathan blinked. How could Xander… He didn’t think anyone else had noticed anything was wrong. Certainly no one seemed to notice his trips to the magic shop after school. “Yes.” He answered cautiously.
“You’ve been practicing magic.” Xander continued knowingly. “But I bet you haven’t managed to conjure the elements yet.”
“I can’t get the incantation right.” Jonathan blurted out. His eyes widened at his own outburst. “Not that…I can’t really…there’s no such thing as…”
Xander finished for him. “Magic.” He held out a closed fist. “Jonathan. I can do it too.” And he slowly opened his fist and small ball of blue flame, just like a gas lamp, hovered over his palm.
“I can do a lot more.” Xander said. “And I would be willing to teach you.”
Jonathan smiled in amazement and nodded in acceptance.
Willow watched Cordelia Chase and Harmony Kendall dress after P.E. There was a time when Willow would have been terrified to show her slim boyish in the same room as the lush tanned beauties of Cordy and Harmony.
She stared at them frankly, assessing their weakness, their slight longing stares at each other which indicated desires that just weren’t spoken of in social brackets like theirs.
Good. She could use that.
“What is your damage Willow?” Cordelia said in frustration. “You’ve like been staring at us getting dress this whole time and its weirding me out.
“She’s just showing her true colors.” Harmony added spitefully.
“Takes one to know one Harm.” Willow shot back in a venomous tone.
Cordelia pulled her blond friend away from the redhead. She stared at Willow. “There is something different about you, Rosenberg. Besides the boob job, that is.”
Willow gave Cordy a mean smile. “Like it? I wanted to go as big as you but I figured, why should I give myself back problems?”
This time Harmony was the one to hold back her friend.
“You’re never going to change.” Cordelia said angrily. “You’ll always be fat little willow, Xander’s tag-a-long.”
“Stay away from me.” Willow warned. “I’m through being your punching back. I won’t do it anymore. I’m giving you this one warning, but if you keep attacking me like you have been since we were kids I’ll show exactly how much things have changed.”
Cordelia gave Willow an ugly look and the two girls walked out with their heads held high.
“Don’t say I didn’t give you a fair warning.” Willow whispered towards their retreating back.
Rupert Giles frowned at the loose bundle of papers in front of him. His grimace didn’t seem to change the information at all, despite what he wished.
Little of the information seemed good, aside from the fact that his slayer and her friends were probably going to be very hard to kill from now on. Information from the council had proved very difficult to acquire but he still had a few friends left. One of his old acquaintances from the old days faxed him the knowledge he required about both the spell Ethan Rayne used and on the three assassins.
The spell was an old one dedicated to chaos and nearest Giles could understand, the reason why it didn’t work properly on Buffy and the others was that they had been impersonating real people and not make believe monsters. That allowed the spirits of the three assassins to join with his charges and leave behind more permanent changes than were usual.
And the Terakans were revelations in and of themselves. Giles had always heard that the assassins always worked alone, that they cared for nothing aside from their own personal goals and the honor of the order but these three had proven to be the exceptions that proved the rule. Individually potent characters, they were all but unstoppable when they were together.
In a world where selfishness was all to common they truly cared for each other, with numerous episodes showing where one or more of the trio risked their very long lives to ensure the safety of the others. They fought against other Terakans who found their lifestyle unnatural as well as demons, hunters, and the slayers of the time. They killed all comers and eventually
Jade found herself the 10th Grandmistress of the Order. She ruled the assassins for some one hundred years before being brought down by internal struggles within the Order.
It is said that they had proven impossible to kill together, and it was only when the three assassins were cornered and slain individually were they able to be brought low.
Giles looked up when he heard the doors to the library open. His three charges entered the room and he was able to catalogue the changes in them with ease. Willow was clearly the most obviously different. She was taller, more muscled yet still feminine and her hair was a thick red waterfall that hung farther down her back than it used to.
Aside from a new serenity and a few wardrobe changes, buffy seemed the least changed.
Xander on the other hand was a mixture of the two. He was clearly different, his posture and gaze screamed strength and command in a way that the teen never used to but there was still something uniquely Xanderish in his smile and the protective way he loomed over his two companions.
“Did you have a good day, Buffy?” Giles asked pleasantly. “School still the diverting occupation it always was for you?”
Buffy answered with a laugh. “Still boring as ever. I just have a few different things to occupy my mind with now.”
She threw her backpack on the table and sat down. With a single smooth motion she rolled her legs onto the tabletop. A few moments later, Xander and Willow followed suit. Giles sighed. No matter what changed, his charges annoying habits with furniture would not be one of them.
The watcher rubbed the bridge of his nose. “I have done some research and I have come to the conclusion that we can use your new skills. I cannot figure out a way to remove them from you without severe mental damage.”
“That’s good thing.” Buffy said seriously.
“The results could have been catastrophic.” Xander finished in a dark tone.
Giles blinked. He could have sworn that the two of them had just—no, Buffy wouldn’t threaten him. He removed his glasses and polished them with a sleeve. “What do you mean by that?”
“Nothing Giles.” Buffy said earnestly, “just that I think the magic imbedded their memories to deep in our brains and I don’t want to turn into a vegetable.”
Giles nodded. That made sense.
“I’m glad you think we can use these skills to help with keeping the hell mouth safe.” Buffy continued. “We have already started changing a few things. Xander contacted Jonathan and I talked with Amy Madison. We want to train them in magic and fighting so they can help us. The two of them are oozing magic and it is just being wasted with them when they could be helping us.”
“Who is going to train them in the use of magic?” Giles asked.
“We will.” Xander interjected. “Teaching them will help to crystallize all the memories we have. Just because we have all these memories doesn’t mean we can access them all and doesn’t mean that we can use what we know perfectly. Teaching them is the perfect way to sharpen our own skills.”
Giles agreed. There wasn’t much else he could do. They had already made up their own minds.
Xander and Drusilla crept through the pathways of the zoo like a pair of ghosts. The mad vampire wore dark jeans and a navy pullover sweatshirt that made her pale skin stand out. The moon lent a certain luminescence to her flesh that left her looking more like a solid ghost than flesh and blood creature. She was wearing more modern clothing because Xander was forcing her. She couldn’t do her job if she was bound by Victorian clothes and Xander wasn’t just keeping her around for the sex.
Xander had realized that he would never be as powerful as the original Knight of Ash and Tears as he was because although he possessed the magic and fighting skills of the warrior wizard, he didn’t have the layers demonic aspects that the knight had cultivated to grant him strength, power and long life. The old Knight of Ash and Tears had sought out powerful demons, slew them, and bathed in their blood to take on useful aspects.
Xander needed a power up as well and he was searching his memories for a useful method when he remembered his possession by the hyena months earlier. The hyena had granted him strength, speed, and keen senses which would put him on the level of most vampires. Of course he didn’t want the full possession so he used his newfound knowledge of magic to adapt the primal ritual to something that wouldn’t overtake his will.
Xander was primarily a necromancer now. He was an expert in the magic of blood, death, and undeath. He could command vampires and ghosts. The mystery of the soul was his to peer into. He was going to use that understanding of the soul. He was going to use the primal spirit of a hyena and he was going to fuse it to his own. He would remake himself better and stronger, better able to protect his girls and better able to be the warrior he needed to be if he was going to survive on the hellmouth.
It was this that led him and Drusilla to the zoo and the hyena house at this late hour.
They stopped in front of the hyena house door and Xander took a moment to make sure he had all the necessary ingredients for the ritual. When was satisfied, he uttered a curt command. “Break the lock, Dru.”
The vampiress nodded seductively. “Of course master.” She simpered in her dreamy voice. She reached out and snapped the lock on the door handle with contemptuous ease.
The pair strolled into the hyena house. The long corridor that led to the habitat of the animals was covered with fact sheets explaining the various living habits of the animals. It was pitch black while Drusilla could see, Xander could not, at least not until he shaped a curious magical thought and the room immediately sharpened into stark relief. Xander pointed at a hyena when they reached the habitat. “That one, Dru.”
The vampire acknowledged the command and walked over to the beast. She held up her hands and began singing softly in a hypnotic voice. Xander ignored her and began shaking out a vial of powder onto the floor in the shape of a circle. Pulling out a bottle of pure spring water, Xander carefully poured it onto the powder and mixed the two together to form a thick paste. Kneeling, the young necromancer used his fingers to trace runes and sigils with the paste. The ancient glyphs would summon the power of the beast and infuse him with it in a way that would not strip him of his own will. He would not be as strong as he would under a full possession but it that was a small price to pay for remaining his own master.
Xander glanced up when he was done and saw that Drusilla had completed her part of the ceremony. She held a sleeping yellow-brown hyena in her strong arms. “Good Girl Dru. Put it in the center of the circle.
“Thank you kitten master. Perhaps you’ll spank Miss Edith when you are finished.” She let out a childish bark. “She’s been ever so naughty.”
“We’ll see.” Xander said with a crooked smile.
Dru bent over to place the hyena in the circle and give her master a little wiggle of her hips. The dog like creature let out a slight yelp as it was lowered to the ground. Xander stepped into the circle and motioned for Dru to get back. He had no idea what would happen if Drusilla was caught by the spell and he had no desire to find out. Raising a combat knife he had purchased from an army surplus store up, he pulled out a sheet of notebook paper with Latin scrawling in mechanical pencil. It wasn’t exactly a scroll written in blood on the skin of an untouched virgin, but the power of the hellmouth would make up for the deficit in materials. After a quick glance to refresh his memory of the incantation Xander began to chant.
As the words he only half understood flowed from his mouth the runes on the floor flared into life and the hyena began to stir. Xander continued to chant and the animal began to pace within the boundaries of the circle, growling at the teen. Its muscles tensed and its eyes flared with emerald green energy. After a moment that stretched interminably long, the hyena pounced. Its powerful muscles carried to through the air…
Xander met the charge with a thrust of his combat knife. The animal’s weight bore him to the ground but that didn’t stop him from stabbing the creature once, twice, three times. Each time the knife pierced the side of the creature, Xander’s eyes flared with green light. Hot blood drenched his clothes and skin, working its way into the crevices and folds of his body.
Blood flowed onto the paper and the magic greedily lapped up the sacrifice. The paper stained itself blood, the writing on it writhing and glowing with sickly emerald light. The paper wasn’t the only thing devouring blood. Xander swallowed some of the coppery fluid as it was smeared across his face.
Finally, though, he pushed the carcass of the animal off of him and stood up. Blood plastered his shirt to his side and dripped from his face and hair. He smiled at Drusilla. “Wanna bet that counts as predatory act?”
Laughter from the two of them filled the Hyena house and woke up the remaining animals. They soon joined in the cackling.
Here ends part one. Read and Review.