The Value of Zero
Ringworld is property of Larry Niven. All characters from the Buffyverse are Property of Joss Whedon. Everything else belongs to me.
The bus ride home was weird.
After the ringworld had teleported away from Earth’s orbit and she had managed to process the fact that she had just created a new life form, two new life forms in fact. She had created a ringworld with a soul and a vampire with a soul but without a body. What the Ringworld had said to her at the end left her with the chills. He had said that a war was coming. He said that the New Gods were on their way. Willow understood that the Ringworld was the source of all the magic in this part of the galaxy. Now there was a conflict between these living worlds. That meant that the nature and pathology of magic was about to change.
“I have seen a future where nothing without a soul survives. The War to end all wars is coming.” Ouroboros had said.
She did not like the sound of that.
The bus driver looked at her weirdly. Willow was in her own little world. Her eyes were glazed over and her mind was steeped in deep thoughts.
“Look lady, pay the fare or walk. This is a bus not a museum. “
Willow scrambled to find correct change and a seat. A man offered her a place to sit. Chivalry was not dead. Several people on the bus turned to look at her and the Buffy-Baby. Most of them figured she was just another single mother.
Willow passed the time by playing with the baby. The Buffy-Baby grasped one of her fingers with both of her tiny pink hands and squeezed hard. Willow flinched as pain shot through her hand. She looked at the child amazed.
“Damn, you’re strong.” She thought. Then it hit her. “You’re still a slayer!” Even in her infant form, the Buffy-baby was still a slayer. The magics that had chosen Buffy was still active. Willow thought long and hard about what that meant all the way home.
Ouroboros needed to make a decision.
The Buffy-Protector had outlived her usefulness. He could think of no other use for her. The interruption of the original teleportation that brought her to the Ringworld had been done by a Puppeteer stealth ship firing a singularity into the Map-Of-Mars control room killing Dawn briefly. At that moment the timeline had split. The Buffy-Protector that had teleported Buffy from Sunnydale in the past to the Ringworld in the future was not the same person that would one day take the tree of life fruit and become the Buffy-Protector.
At the moment of Dawn’s death Ouroboros had stepped in and altered reality.
It performed a reality augmentation spell using Dawn as a template for its calculations. The spell it wove ran on a continuous loop anchoring the former Buffy-Protector to reality. The calculations used considerable resources. It was inefficient to continue to run the program.
Ouroboros made his decision. He began to disassemble the magics that maintained the former Buffy-Protector.
“I love you.”
“No you don’t, but thanks for saying it.”
They looked at each other. Hours ago Spike and the former Buffy-Protector had found a connection between them. They understood that they were separate aspects of the same soul. Emotions long suppressed within them burst to the surface. Together they had fought side by side against a horde of monsters Spike himself had unleashed. Hours later they washed green blood and demon parts off of each other in one of the showers and made love.
Spike had taken Buffy to see his throne room. He was showing off. A single black oversized leather chair, trimmed in gold, stood in the middle of the room. Around the chair were monitors and various control panels.
“So, this is the place where you hatched your evil plans?” Buffy asked.
Spike turned away in shame. He was sorry for the horrible things he had done. The new knowledge that filled his head had transformed his awareness. His skin turned red and he looked shamed faced. The demon that was Spike no longer viewed the world as one big snack tray. It had gained a glimpse of the big picture, brief view of the true nature of reality.
“I was only kidding.” Buffy said.
Spike held her closer. He knew that Buffy held no recriminations.
While it was true that vampires were soulless killing machines, the personality of the vampire is influenced by the body it inhabits. The knowledge gained by Spike in that one brief moment of drinking Buffy’s blood had changed him at the cellular level. The new knowledge had altered his personality to the point that mindless murder was impossible. Spike wore his soul in his skin. The body that he wore had reprogrammed him into a new man.
Spike held one arm around Buffy’s waist as he gave her the grand tour.
“I feel funny.” Buffy said.
Spike turned to look at her. Buffy was fading away. The space that she occupied was filled with an emptiness. In moments, she was gone. A slight image of her lingered like smoke and then disappeared.
Spike stood open mouthed. He didn’t know what so say. His mind worked furiously to understand what happened.
Then it hit him
“I’m going to kill you.” He said softly.
Spike sat alone on his dais plotting his revenge as the shadow squares turned overhead blotting out the sun.
A deep and impenetrable darkness consumed the world.