Chapter Two ‘What do you want to do now?’
Buffy thought about the question that had been asked of her outside of the crater that used to be the Hellmouth. At first, she had smiled, imagining the many possibilities that had been opened to her now that she wasn’t the only Slayer. Then, reality had set in, and the smile faded. She had a busload of injured Slayerettes, as Faith had started to call them, no money and now, no home.
They had made their way to LA, intending to ask Angel if they could use the Hyperion, only to find that he had given the old hotel to a shelter group. So, they had ended up spending a day in a bank regaining control of their lost finances. Willow had finished first, because her parents traveled so often, they made sure that they could access their money when and where they needed it. Buffy and Xander had taken longer, but they had finally gotten access. While they were filling out the paperwork, Willow went gone online and rented one of the beachside houses, large enough to accommodate all of the new Slayers, and isolated enough to allow them to recover and regroup in peace.
It had been a week since the Hellmouth, and Sunnydale, was destroyed. A week since they had come to LA looking for some sort of sanctuary, to rest and recover, but still the wound she had received had not completely healed. Buffy stared out at the ocean from her seat on the back deck. The wound was worrying everyone, including herself, and her friends were determined not to let her do anything more strenuous than soak up the sun until she was back at 100%. After a token protest, she relaxed and accepted the break she desperately needed. At the moment, Faith was out with a group of the Slayerettes on a short patrol, along with Giles and Robin Wood, Willow and Kennedy were on their first real date, and Xander and Dawn had taken the rest of the new Slayers to the movies.
Buffy stretched, and growled at the sharp pain in her back. It had been a week, and this wound, which should have healed completely in just a couple of days, was just now closing. Something was wrong with her. It had been since Willow had done the spell.
“You’re right, Kid.” Said a sad, soft voice with a Bronx accent. “This time, something really is wrong.”
“Hello, Whistler.” Buffy said, not bothering to look at the balance demon. “Can’t say I’m all that surprised to see you. Or pleased.”
“I know.” He said. “This whole thing was a cluster-fuck from the beginning.”
Buffy sat back and made herself a little more comfortable despite the pain. For the first time since they had met, there were no side jokes or off-kilter wisecracks from the Powers’ mouthpiece, so she knew that this was possibly more than serious. “So why now? The PTB have never really been the explain-y types before.”
“Two reasons. One, you’re no longer going to be working for us. We’re losing you so another agent.” The balance demons voice lowered. “And two, we owe you an apology.”
That startled Buffy. “An apology?”
Whistler nodded and turned away. “When the Powers’ allowed the monks to insert Dawn into your life, they didn’t foresee that the memory alteration would cause the tumor in your mother’s brain to become malignant. They never meant for your mother to die when they sent the Key to you for protection.”
Buffy’s heart stopped. She couldn’t breathe. Her mother’s death was a cosmic accident!
Her rage was so sudden and so intense, that it took several minutes to suppress her desire to carry out her initial threat to rip out the demon’s ribcage. Forcing breath back into her lungs, she repeated over and over to herself that they hadn’t intended it. They hadn’t intended it and they were actually apologizing for it. She counted to ten. In English, Sumerian and a few other languages she had picked up over the years until the roaring in her head subsided and the red haze dissipated from before her eyes. She swallowed hard, and forced herself past it. She would cry later, but now she needed the answers that he had.
“And the second reason?” Buffy’s voice was so hoarse it was barely recognizable. “What do you mean, you lost me to another agent?”
“The battle with the First was inevitable. It had been since the beginning.” Whistler told her. “The First is not simply the First Evil. It was the first truly evil demon. Virtually invincible, it was the most powerful, enslaving and slaughtering humankind and demons alike. Ironically, it was also the first demon to be banished from Earth. The demons banded together, and it took all of their combined powers to defeat it, destroy its corporeal body and cast it out. Since them, it has been fighting to get back, much like Glory.”
“Okay, but what does this have to do with me?”
“You were never supposed to live past 16.” Buffy’s eyes widened in shock. “Your destiny was to die at the hands of The Master. You died, and the next Slayer was called, but then you were brought back. It sent ripples through the natural order of the universe. There is only supposed to be one
Slayer at a time. Now there were two, and the universe didn’t know what to do with this abnormality. The abnormality created ripples of instability, and the First saw that it could use this to regain entrance into this world. Not corporeal entrance, because it no longer had a corporeal form, but enough to influence and create more ripples. The longer you lived, the stronger the ripples became, and the First manipulated everything it could to keep you alive.
“Didn’t you ever wonder how you, a seventeen year old girl from California, a Slayer of only two years, could defeat Angelus, the most dangerous, most ruthless, sadistically evil vampire ever to walk the Earth since the Old Ones. Or how you managed to defeat the Mayor, who had already ascended. A man who had lived for centuries for that one moment in time. Or how you managed to defeat a Hell-Goddess that was virtually invulnerable and massively more powerful than you. Or even how the boy managed to calm down your gal pal Willow when she was consumed by the Dark Magick. The witch had not only absorbed the knowledge of the books, she absorbed the magick itself. That is why she is now the most powerful witch on the planet. A nudge here, a shove there and a whisper in a Wicca’s ear and voila
, all hail the victorious Slayer.”
Buffy was pale. The sheer magnitude of what the balance demon was saying was overwhelming. “Are you telling me that every Big Bad we’ve beaten has been because of the First?”
“No, that’s not what I’m saying.” He shook his head quickly. “The First merely made it possible for you to win against the overwhelming odds. You had to do the actual winning yourself. You should be nothing but proud of what you’ve accomplished, no matter what.”
“Why?” Buffy asked. “Why would the First be helping the good guys?”
“For the First, good and evil are relative, and irrelevant. Only Its desires are of any importance, and It desires to dominate all living things. Human, animal or demon, it doesn’t matter. Complete and total chaos with It at the helm has always been The First’s goal. The longer you lived, the worse the instability became. The worse the instability, the more of the First’s essence could seep into this world and the stronger the First became. The only thing it didn’t count on was you sacrificing yourself to save your sister.”
Buffy snorted. “No one seems to have counted on that. I don’t get that? Why would anyone think that I would let my little sister die?”
“Umm, because she’s not really your sister?” Whistler pointed out.
“Yes, she is. The moment those monks inserted an entire life for her into our memories, she became my sister. For God’s sake, Whistler, she’s made from my flesh and blood! If it wasn’t for the memories of her being my sister, I would be able to pass her off as my damn daughter. I risked the Ascension of the Mayor to save my best friend! Why wouldn’t I risk everything to save my family?”
Whistler thought about that, and he suspected that the Powers were as well, and realized that she was right. With everything that they knew of the Slayer, and her devotion to those she loved, what she had done shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone who really thought about it. “You may have a point there, Kid. Anyway, moving on. When you died, the instability began to heal itself, and the First was stuck, so it had to get you back. A whisper in the Wicca’s ear, a few nudges in specific directions, and your friend came to the conclusion that because you died a mystical death, you could be brought back without the nasty brain-eating side effects. Even the nightmares of you being in a Hell dimension were from the First. If you had been in a Hell dimension, you would have been physically
there, body and all. If the First had let up on the witch long enough for her to think about it, she would have even realized that you did not die by mystical means. Closing the portal didn’t kill you, Kid, it was the crash landing on the ground below that did the deed.”
“So, the spell shouldn’t have worked?” Buffy realized.
“Sure it would have, but you would have been doing the whole brain-eating thing.”
“Whistler.” Buffy growled.
“Sorry, couldn’t help myself.” The demon chuckled. “If you, a Slayer, had been brought back undead, the abnormality might have ruptured into a full tear, and that would have been bad all the way around. Well, to make a long story shorter, everyone upstairs figured, since the First was going to eventually get through anyway, why not put it up against the best they had. You. So they made a deal with Osiris. You would be resurrected, with none of the bad consequences, but should you survive the Final Battle, you would become his.”
“What does that mean?” Buffy asked, exasperated. “What’s happening to me, Whistler? Why couldn’t I just have died and gone back to Heaven?”
Whistler’s eyes turned sad again. “Believe me, Kid, if you had died, you would have gone right back and no one would have been allowed to pull you out again. Unfortunately, when Willow performed the spell that activated all of the Potential Slayers, there was a side-effect that no one saw coming. Not the Powers, not the Oracles, not even Osiris.”
Whistler took a deep breath, visibly bracing himself. “You see, she needed a focus for the spell. A connection to the Slayer line. She used you. But in the process, she inadvertently tied your lifeline to the Slayer line. That’s why your wound is taking so long to heal. You should be dead. That sword cut through your kidney, liver and intestines.”
“What does that mean, Whistler?” Buffy asked, a little concerned by his obvious reluctance.
The balance demon took another deep breath. “You’re immortal, Buffy, practically invulnerable. You will live as long as there is a Slayer walking the Earth. You can only be seriously injured by the weapons created by mystical means. The stronger the magick used to create the weapon, the worse the wound would be, but even that won’t kill you.”