It was well past noon when Dawn finally woke up. Going downstairs to the kitchen she found Xander and Anya eating pizza and cheesy bread for lunch.
“The power’s back on!” Xander said happily with a mouthful of food.
“And the phones are working again.” Anya added.
“So I guess this means you can start taking all the wood off the windows?”
“Right after I finish eating.”
“I appreciate you putting my bed back together. I hate sleeping on the floor.”
Xander nodded as he shoved another slice into his mouth.
“You’re up.” Buffy said to Dawn, as she came in from the living room. "About time."
“Yeah, I know, and I'm starving.”
“I called Angel earlier.” Buffy told them. “He said he never saw anyone from the Council. They were just bluffing. So, I guess Spike is the only one unaccounted for.”
“But what about Willow?”
“What about me?” Willow asked as she joined them.
“Hey.” Dawn said. “That was some trick you pulled last night, uh, this morning. You are GOOD!”
“How DID you do that?” Buffy asked. “If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn another vamp bit the dust.”
“It wasn’t that hard. When I sensed the wooden bullets coming at me, I just altered my aura so when they hit it, they were pulverized into powder.”
“But what about YOU? It looked like you turned into dust.”
“Just a little variation on the Glamour thing. Since it was mostly dark, I just darkened myself up even more, and had the dust form around me momentarily. Then as I went to the ground I flattened out really flat, and let the dust just blow away.”
“Well, it sure freaked me out!” Dawn said. “I really thought you’d been killed for sure.”
“So I heard. Can’t remember the last time I heard you scream that loud.”
“It was a shock to all of us. You should have said something.”
Thinking back on it, Xander was becoming upset, remembering how horrible it felt, and vomiting after he had pulled Dawn and Anya back into the house.
“I didn’t really expect it so soon, but I guess they thought they should take the shot whenever they could.”
“I just wish we knew about Giles.” Buffy said, feeing guilty he hadn’t been her first thought.
“He’s fine.” Willow assured her. “I've been in touch with the coven. We only guessed part of it. There were witches brought in by the Council, and they were forcing the rest of them to go up against us. And that almost-feeling I had about Giles being hidden was right. But he was being hidden from the Council, not the other way around.”
Everyone felt relieved.
“Then we can call him?” Dawn suggested.
“We probably should, but we can't say anything about Buffy to him, other than we saw her dusted, and how devastated we are. You never know who might be listening.”
“That still leaves Spike.” Buffy said.
“Spike’s a big boy.” Anya declared. “If anyone can take care of himself, it’s Spike.”
“I hope you’re right.”
“You know, Buffy,” Willow said. “You’re going to have to stop patrolling for a while, at least until things settle down.”
“That’s just it, Will, I can't. Once the word gets out and everyone thinks I’m dead, the vamps and demons will be coming into Sunnydale like it was Free Blood Night at Willy’s. I’m going to be busier than ever.”
“But you CAN'T! If the Council gets wind there’s still a Slayer in Sunnydale, they'll know it's you and they’ll be here so fast it’ll make your head swim.”
“She has a point.” Anya pointed out.
“Who has?” Buffy and Willow asked together.
“Both of you. Buffy will have to figure out how to patrol in order to keep the demons in check, but not let the Council know about it.”
“I can do that, I think.” Buffy said, with some certainty. “I just have to be careful, that’s all. With my extra speed I should be able to hit a few cemeteries, dust a few vamps, and be back home before anyone’s the wiser. We'll just have to make sure everyone thinks it's you Scoobies doing the dusting.”
“It’s too bad we couldn’t think of something else.” Willow lamented. “I know it’s a pretty unsatisfactory solution, but I don't think the Council was much in the mood for negotiation.”
“I was kind of surprised they didn't want to keep you locked up somewhere and do experiments on you.” Xander said.
“That was the Initiative’s thing. The Council just wants us vamps and demons dead.” Buffy explained. “Can't blame them, though, it’s what I want, too. Except, of course for me … and Angel … and Spike.”
“Don't forget all those friendly and helpful and very trustworthy ex-Vengeance Demons you like so much,” Anya reminded her, with an optimistic smile.
“Do we know any of those?”The End