Parts 5 &6
By Sam James
In the audience Xander and Oz exchanged a look. The mayor's Cthulu priest had summoned demons to feed off the energy of the graduating students and feed it to the mayor; but Willow had countered it in her valedictorian address, summoning the spirits of the dead to fight the demons. Now the mayor was chasing Willow and Faith had started fighting Buffy. And Xander was beginning to recognize some of the ghosts whom Willow had called up. It looked like all hell was about to break loose. Literally. Again.
Faith kicked Buffy, knocking her across the stage. Buffy took a couple of seconds to recover. Faith smiled. Now that the two were equally fresh, Faith could tell; thanks to the mayor, she was the stronger. Buffy jumped up, halfway across the stage and threw a punch at Faith. The other slayer simply ducked under it and laughed as Buffy hit nothing but air. Then, still low from ducking, Faith spread out her hands from between Buffy's legs, throwing her out into the audience.
Most of the class remained in their seats, spellbound. With one exception. "Eeak," screamed Harmony as Buffy landed on her. "You're ruining my dress. It cost $600 from Mary Ashley."
"So who's the slayer, now!" laughed Faith. "No more 'Buffy's twice the slayer you are.' Not anymore."
"No?" came a voice in a Jamaican accent that Buffy and friends recognized but Faith had never heard. It was Kendra's ghost, given form by Willow's magic which had taken advantage of the door that the mayor's plan had opened. "But together we are twice the slayers." Buffy leapt up from the audience to Kendra's side.
"Now, now girls," the mayor said. "Two on one is just not fair." He began running over to them only to trip on... He did a doubletake of disbelief, wiped his eyes and looked again. It was the ghost of an animated puppet. And it had a knife.
"I've killed seven demons" Sid's mouth moved. "I'm ready to go for eight."
As the dummy stabbed the mayor, the mayor kicked him into the audience. But for a few seconds it actually hurt. Wilkens realized he was losing his invulnerability.
"My dress, you cut my dress!" Harmony yelled as the puppet's knife penetrated her robes.
While the audience was screaming the ghosts Willow had summoned were fighting the demons. Dr. Gregory was throwing chemical formulas whose scientific compounds reacted with the magical elements of the demons. Xander's friend Jesse was fighting with a skill Xander had rarely shown. Death clearly had given him plenty of time to practice. Dave and Fritz, computer wizards both, were reciting UNIX commands to delete demons. Jenny Calendar combined gypsy magic with pagan spells. Dancer Emily was using her ballet kicks to good effect. Even Principal Flutie found that demons ran away from touchy-feeley hugging.
Kendra boosted Buffy into the air. Buffy flew up, circled around a pole and hit Faith in the back with her feet at the same time Kendra punched the stomach. Faith was knocked down. "Yow, you trying to knock some sense into me?" Faith said belligerently. Then, making a quick decision, she added, "If so it worked" in a whisper only Buffy was close enough to hear.
Faith then faked a few punches onto Buffy that barely hurt at all, Buffy responded with a fake kick and whispered, "What can I do to get him to chase me?" Faith grabbed Buffy's head into a lock and whispered, "He'll need the books to complete the ascension. If you take them, he'll have to follow." Then Kendra kicked Faith hard into the podium. Faith lay there unconscious.
During this fight, Xander had reached the Priest of Cthulu. "You know," he said calmly. "I used to be an active opponent of religion, now I'm a violent opponent of certain religions." The priest looked at the boy, "The power of the Dread Lord..." His voice was cut off by Xander's uppercut. "The power of my fist. Ow ow ow."
Meanwhile Willow reached the faculty rows in the audience. The seats were deserted except for Giles and Wesley in the corner taking out supplies.
"Ready for a banishing?" Giles asked.
"I'm ready for some big mojo," replied Willow with a smile. "Much more than I am for finishing my speech."
When the mayor got up, Buffy had two of the books of ascension under her arms. "Looking for these?" she smiled.
"None of that little lady," the mayor said. "Give me my property."
"Take them yourself," Buffy said and began running into the school. The mayor followed close at her heels.
As Willow's ghosts fought the mayor's demons, Wesley, Giles, and Willow finished putting herbs into the empty water container. Wesley lit them on fire while Giles and Willow recited the first banishment. "Demon powers unfed and unrewarded. Bargains broken now annulled. Protection once granted now forfeited. Take of our energy and lower the shield."
In the hallway of the school, the mayor shivered. Something had changed; his invulnerability had weakened. It was only supposed to last until the time of the ascension. That time had passed and with it some of his protection. He still was immune to the medieval weaponry of the slayer had ever used, but he could no longer safely ignore the firepower of an army tank.
"You want these, come and get them," Buffy taunted the mayor who began running after her again. Slayer-speed kept her ahead but the mayor's magic had kept him in peak condition for a 100+ year old man.
"Now, young lady such behavior is completely inappropriate." The mayor yelled. "Do your parents know what kind of little girl they've raised?"
Buffy ran into the school's basement, jumping down the steps. She flicked the light switch which Giles had rewired to activate the bomb's timer. She now had ten seconds. "Here, catch," she threw the books at the mayor and then leapt up to a window placed 15 feet above the floor. She wiggled through it and stepped out to the ground and began running. "Eight thousand elephants, nine thousand elephants. Everyone hit the deck!" she yelled and dropped to the ground rolling until a wall was between her and the main school building.
In the basement the mayor had stopped his frantic leafing of the books' pages. He heard a tick-tick-tick of a clock and then Buffy's yell. He quickly put the two together, "Oh, gosh," he reacted. Then he quickly began a spell, "Ignius waxilla..."
The explosion was everything Jack O'Toole and his gang of Zombies could have hoped, had they still been in existence. A fireball exploded in the basement, igniting the mayor. Then rubble from the parts of the school destroyed in the explosion crushed what remained of his body. The mayor's weakened invulnerability was no match for these forces and, without completing his spell, the mayor breathed his last. Fortunately, since he died right atop the hellmouth, his spirit did not have far to travel before reaching his final reward. Not far at all.
While Buffy was running and the ghosts fighting, Xander and Oz had been yanking the enchanted robes off the student audience. "Get out of here," Xander yelled. "Or you'll be demon chow."
"Now would be a good time to be elsewhere," Oz suggested. Cordelia just screamed.
At the now near-deserted graduation ceremony, Willow and Giles had finished banishing the demons and were completing the spell to banish the ghosts she had called to fight them. "Oh, and thank you," Willow said politely as the gateway to the lands of the dead began to open. "Thank you for your help."
"Jenny, you, um, er, I, well," Giles started. Jenny's ghost blew him a kiss, did a dive that went right through him, and then disappeared into the vortex.
"It is fortunate that we heard the summoning spell used for the demons so we could come up with exactly the right counterspell so quickly," said Wesley, pompously.
Xander and Oz ran up, "Willow, you okay?"
Willow was breathing hard, "Yeah, I'm fine. Th-the shaking is, is a side effect of the fear."
"Better now than before," Giles said. "You did a splendid job."
"Definitely the most powerful valedictorian address ever recited," Oz said wirly.
* * * * * * * * *
Principal Snyder was still in shock. First the mayor had a priest of Cthulu of all deities give the blessing. Then Willow, the class valedictorian, had diverted from the approved text which he had so carefully edited. There was a fight between some form of demons and students whom he couldn't give detention to because they were already dead. Graduation was completely disrupted. And then, just to make worse, the school blew up. "My school," he moaned. "My beautiful school."
He looked around. There she was, the school's biggest troublemaker, walking slowly as if wounded in the explosion. "You, there!" he yelled. "There are things I will not tolerate. Fighting at graduation. Summoning demons. And, above all blowing up the school!"
Buffy looked at him tiredly. "Well guess what. That was my graduation exercise and I just passed. I'm not a student anymore. So like what can you do to me? I can break you with a single finger."
"I am the principal!" roared the little man.
"Duh," Buffy said. "Principal of what?" She waved at the ruined building.
Snyder looked. She was right. Absolutely right. "The mayor will kill me," he muttered.
Buffy smiled beautifully. "I don't think you have worry about the mayor." As Buffy walked away, the principal could have sworn she added, "ever again."
As she reached the podium where the graduation ceremony had been held, or rather, where it had started, Buffy saw that most of the students and parents had fled except for her little gang.
"Ah, graduation at Sunnyhell," Xander joked. "It's not just a school, it's a survival exercise."
"It's not a school anymore either," Oz pointed out accurately. "It's a pile of rubble."
"Yeah well, we still survived." A piece of rubble chose that moment to fall on Xander's head. "Oww. At least I think we survived. Is it over now?"
"So how will they repress this?" Willow asked.
Giles was in a corner talking to a parent who just emerged from hiding, "I-i-it was a gas leak, I fear. We've been smelling it in school and I guess the heat just set it off. These gas things... will happen."
"I think he's used this excuse before," Xander whispered to Willow.
Willow shrugged and then smiled as a thought hit her. "Xander, I just realized. Jesse made it to graduation after all."
"That's true. The original Sunnydale Three Musketeers ride again," Xander responded.
Buffy staggered over to the Slayerettes, "Mission accomplished."
"Can you say kaboom?" Buffy said. "He certainly can't now."
Oz looked around at the ruined school, the damaged podium, and the now deserted audience area. "Certainly a graduation I'll always remember."
"No, we can't very well have that." Giles said firmly. He climbed up on the podium and found a wad of papers that had spilled onto the floor in the fight. He stood up firmly. "By the power vested in me as, ah, sole survivor of the faculty left at graduation, I declare you graduated." He lifted up the first certificate. "Willow Carolyn Rosenberg, class valedictorian." The redhead smiled an enormous smile. She hoisted herself to the podium and took the certificate.
"Thank you," she said. "Thank you for everything." She kissed Giles.
"Hmm, I think I should be nervous," said Oz to Xander.
"Yeah, me too." Xander thought a second. "I mean, I certainly don't want to kiss that guy. Or any guy really."
"That's not what Larry tells me," Oz joked. Xander sputtered a protest.
"Buffy Anne Summers, class protector." Giles said. Buffy leapt up to the podium and took the certificate. She too kissed her Watcher.
"Alexander LeVelle Harris, valiant and true." Xander tried to jump up to the podium, but didn't quite make it. He pushed himself up and took the certificate. He shook Giles' hand.
"Ah, umm, you know Oz, I don't happen to recall your full name," the Watcher was somewhat flustered.
"That's okay man," Oz replied. He climbed on the stage and sorted through the certificates, selected one, and rolled it quickly, before anyone could see the name. Willow giggled.
Giles turned to the four of them. "I have been proud to call you my students, and in many ways the children I never had. Today, as one adult to another, I'm proud to call you all friends." Willow and Buffy both rushed him and gave him another hug and they all walked down and away from graduation.
"So what became of Faith?" Xander asked.
"She said I knocked some sense into her," Buffy said. "But I realized how her heart hasn't been in fighting us. Half the time she was faking it. I don't know if she's rejoined the good guys or what. With Faith, I guess we'll need to be ready for anything."
"Willow, I need to talk to you," Giles said. "Your graduation speech took some of the ascension energies from the mayor and distributed it to your classmates."
"Yes, that's what I planned with my line 'We ascend, all of us together.' I thought that if he needed the ceremony to strengthen himself then we could stop him by diffusing it." Willow said.
"It did take power from the mayor's ascension and share it with the other seniors but it made you the channel for a great deal of power."
"It did? What will that do?" Willow asked.
"I'm not sure. It could be nothing, or it could increase your witch powers substantially. I'll have to consult my books."
"Oh goodie," Willow laughed. "Research party tomorrow everyone."
"But Willow we graduated
," Xander complained.
"Maybe so," said the class valedictorian. "But we graduated to fighting bigger and better evils. Right?"
"Right!" said the other three.