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And The Answer Is –

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Summary: Buffy is convinced that someone has been systematically killing off the Scooby Gang, and is trying to track down the person responsible. Warning: Dark fic! Multiple character deaths described or mentioned.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Buffy-CenteredGreywizardFR18513,36802310,83420 Dec 1021 May 12Yes

Chapter Two

Blinking repeatedly to try and get rid of the annoying gook that accumulated in the corners of her eyes as she'd slumbered, Buffy blearily looked around as she tried to focus her attention and figure out exactly where she was and what had happened to her.

The last thing she could recall, she thought somewhat fuzzily, she'd been kicking in the doors of a mansion where she'd, hopefully, finally cornered the previously unknown Big Bad who'd been picking off the members of the Watchers Council executive board, one by one, but she had then apparently been ambushed and knocked unconscious.

And now, she looked to be lying in some sort of hospital bed, complete with the all of the requisite wires, sensors, I.V. tubes and hanging bags of unknown fluids surrounding her bed – something that instilled no little amount of panic and apprehension and caused Buffy's heart to start racing, which in turn made an alarm somewhere nearby begin sounding in a loud and strident tone.

Reaching over to begin removing the I.V. lines from her arm, Buffy was shocked to realize she was currently so weak that she had a problem grasping the first I.V. needle firmly enough to pull it out.

That discovery caused her to attempt to redouble her efforts to escape from wherever this place was that she was being held in, and she cursed under her breath at the difficulty she experienced as she feebly began pushing the sheet and blanket covering her legs away, so that she could swing her legs out of bed and start getting the hell away from here.

"Buff! What the hell are you doing?"

"Buffy! Stop! Don't do that!"

She heard people yelling at her as she frantically tried to escape and she glanced up to see who the evil bastards who'd captured her might be, only to freeze with shocked disbelief at the sight of the people rushing through the doorway towards her.

"No!" Buffy managed to choke out a weak protest as her hands seemed to lose all strength and she nearly collapsed back onto her bed. "You’re dead! You can't be here!

"You're both dead!" she half-sobbed as she was suddenly seized in a massive hug by both Xander and Willow.

"No, we’re not, missy. The rumors of our deaths have been greatly exaggerated," she heard Xander's voice in her ear, denying her accusation at the same time she could hear Willow saying, "No, we're all fine, Buffy. *You're* the one who almost died from fighting that Glarghk guhl kashma'nik demon!"

Pushing herself sufficiently far away from the wonderfully encompassing hug both her apparently thankfully-not-dead friends were crushing her in, Buffy stared up at Willow. "A what-now demon?"

“You don’t remember?” Xander looked instantly worried. “You went up against the same kind of gargle-gaggle demon you did in Sunnydale, way back when. Remember, the one which was a walking advertisement for a demonic Hair Club For Men?”

Buffy shook her head and she then half-fearfully, half-hopefully asked, "So, everyone's okay, then? Nobody's died since we beat the First?

"Yeah, everyone's fine, and nobody's dead, Buffy," Willow nodded her reassurance while Xander merely nodded his head in vigorous agreement as he held Buffy tight against him.

"Nope, nobody's dead, Buffster," Xander assured her, "but you almost made a liar out of us, what with the almost dying from all that poison that demon bastard, Glar'nok'chaz, injected you with.

"You've been in a medically induced coma here at Headquarters for the past three weeks, ever since you fought him, and none of the docs could say when you might wake up," he elaborated as he smiled down at Buffy for a moment before pulling her into another delightfully welcome hug.

"So, don't you ever go scaring us like that again, you hear me, missy?" Willow happily scolded her as she, too, crushed the petite Slayer in another wonderfully forceful hug.

"Dawn called earlier and said she was picking Giles up at the airport, so the two of them should be here in just a little while, and I know they're gonna be just as happy to see you're finally awake as we are," the redhead informed the tiny blonde with a pleased smile.

"You guys aren't nearly as delighted as I am to be awake and find out that everything I thought had happened was just a really, *really* bad dream," Buffy murmured as she pulled her friends even closer to her.

At that moment, though, Buffy finally remembered what sort of demon Xander and Willow were talking about; the *thing* that had caused her to have hallucinations during 2002 of still being in that Los Angeles lunatic asylum. Back when her soul had still been hurting so badly from being torn out of Heaven, and the idea of being a normal, mentally ill girl had been the comfy alternative to the nightmare that had been her life.

{ What the hell. Even if *this* is the dream or hallucination or whatever, I still prefer it a whole lot more to that other life where I ended up the Scourge of Europe, } Buffy reflected silently to herself for a moment before turning her attention back to her friends and family.

~~~
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