Prologue, Part Two
Prologue, Part 2
The battered and disillusioned Scoobies stumbled into the house with visible relief. Between the weakened, barely conscious condition Willow had been left in, after the interrupted and failed resurrection spell, and trying to avoid the hordes of demons that had suddenly descended on Sunnydale, it had been hard getting back to Revello Drive. The Buffybot was destroyed, and now they had no idea what to do next.
"What happened?" Dawn gasped when she saw them. "What's going on out there? It sounds like a warzone!"
"Somehow the demons found out about the Buffybot," Xander answered tiredly. "There's a biker gang raiding downtown Sunnydale. We've been mostly ducking them since Will's been so weakened from the spell."
"What spell?" Dawn asked suspiciously. She'd known that the older Scoobies had been hiding something from her, but she'd been so wrapped up in her grief over the back-to-back losses of her mother and her sister, that she hadn't managed to dredge up the interest to find out what it was.
"The resurrection spell to bring Buffy back." Xander answered absentmindedly. He wasn't exactly thinking clearly after the events of the entire night, and his eyes were closed, so he missed the frantically shaking heads of the others. A moment later, his eyes popped open and he visibly winced as he realized what he'd just said. They'd been keeping their plans from both Dawn and Giles, not wanting to get the hopes up for the former, and knowing that the latter would disapprove and try to stop them. It had taken all of Willow's persuasive skills just to get Tara to agree to perform the ritual that went against everything that she had been taught to believe in.
"WHAT?!?" Dawn screeched. "What resurrection spell?"
They stumbled over themselves trying to explain how, because Buffy died by supernatural causes, meaning the overload of energies from the opening portal, they could bring Buffy back without the brain-eating consequences.
"Why?" Dawn demanded. "You know that she wouldn't have wanted that! She was tired of fighting every night!"
"But Dawnie," Willow pushed herself up from where her head had been resting in her girlfriend's lap. "Buffy jumped through a portal to a Hell dimension! She's either still fighting for her life, or she's being tortured or, or something worse..."
Before she could continue, they all jumped as the front door practically exploded. Standing in the doorway was the one person that they had thought they'd lost forever.
"Buffy!" Everyone exclaimed.
No one moved, however, because even though they could easily recognize her, there were also a few little changes that were absolutely impossible to overlook. The copper colored eyes bright with rage that immediately zeroed in on the red-headed witch, the pointed teeth bared in a feral snarl and last, but not least, the flexing claws that looked wicked enough to rip them in half without much effort. She was covered in various colored demon blood and ichor, and even some that looked suspiciously like human blood, her clothes were torn and shredded, but she looked like she had sustained few injuries herself. "Return us!"
The Slayer snarled.
"Buffy?" Dawn took a cautious step forward. The Slayer turned to look at the one that spoke her Host's name. There was a moment of confusion. Her scent called her 'offspring', but her host's memories said 'sibling'.
Dawn stopped when Tara gasped. She had used her inner sight to look at the strange creature's aura, the feeling of familiarity throwing off her instinctive fear. She could see the royal blue of the Buffy and the burnished gold of the Slayer, but there was also an inky blackness that seemed to be expanding within the gold. Dawn looked at her questioningly, for some reason unafraid of this demon with her sister's face.
"It's the Slayer in Buffy. Buffy is buried deep inside, and the Slayer has come to the forefront. Something has happened. Something is still happening. The Slayer's aura is so strong, and Buffy's is so fractured that it is nearly shattered. The Slayer has somehow filled in and fused the gaps, and there is a darkness that is spreading in it."
The Slayer shook her away her confusion and refocused on her primary goal. These people, and their words, were unimportant to what she needed. Her Host had considered them friends and family, but the Slayer only saw that they had irreparably hurt them both. The only one not on the current shitlist, was the sibling/offspring. Before anyone could move, she was across the room and holding Willow against the wall, completely off of her feet. Willow squeaked in fear. "RETURN US!!!"
The Slayer screamed.
The Scoobies gasped in horror as her skin began to ripple and bulge as she became visibly more enraged, and hints of crimson began to bleed into the copper. She lashed out backwards with her foot as Xander came rushing to his best friend's rescue, knocking him half-unconscious. The others were screaming, but she ignored them to glare into Willow's wide, terrified eyes and growl out her demand once more. Then, she froze as another intruder pinged on her senses, and a hand settled on her rigid arm.
"She can't, kid." Whistler said sadly. "She can't send you back."
The Slayer shook her head as her Host unexpectedly rose within her. She tried to force her back down, but this Host had always had an unusual strength of will when it came to her influence.
"Please, Whistler," Buffy looked over at the balance demon, the pain in voice and eyes was heartbreaking, "please send us back. It hurts us to be here, and something is happening to us the longer we stay."
"We know." He told her gently. "Without the filter of your soul, the Slayer entity absorbed the black magic of the spell, and it kind of 'woke up' the demon essence used to create it. It's been taking advantage of your state of shock to regain strength and is trying to take over you both. This *can not* happen, Buffy," He stressed, actually using her name for the first time since they're original meeting. "There is no tether on this demon. The Powers and the Partners are actually willing to put aside their differences and team up to help you overcome this."
"Then tell them to send us back." She pleaded.
"It's too late for that." He said sadly. "Usually, when the Host dies, the Slayer entity moves on to a new Host. We don't know how or why a part of the entity stayed with you after you were revived that first time, even though a new Slayer was called. We didn't know how it would play out when you finally died again. The entity went with you, experienced the same thing you did, and that's why it has been equally affected by your return. The thing is, kid, although the Slayer entity has no physical form, it can not be destroyed, and now that it has become an actual part of your soul, neither can you."
Although barely functioning coherently through the horror and pain still swamping her, it only took Buffy a moment to understand what he was telling her.
She could no longer die. She'd never be able to go back to that place of peace that she had been torn from. It was too much. She finally allowed herself to be submerged once again, no longer caring what the Slayer did, to anyone.
The Slayer screamed in rage, understanding through the Host what was now forever denied to them. It had never
experienced peace like in that place. She had not felt the relentless need to Hunt and Destroy, or the perpetual rage that had been a part of her for as long as she had awareness. She wanted it back, but she and her Host was denied somehow.
With a howl of rage, she was prepared to slaughter everything in the room, starting with the witch dangling from her grasp, when her back bowed and Willow cried out as a sword tip appeared from her abdomen. A quick glance over the Slayer's shoulder showed a determined looking Xander just behind her, but not for long. A spinning backfist sent the young man shooting across the room and out of the front window like he'd been shot from a cannon. Anya screamed and ran out to check on him. He was unconscious, and bleeding from the ear, mouth and obviously broken nose. It looked like the side of his face had been caved in, but a quick check revealed that he was still alive. Barely.
Before Willow could react to what had just happened to her childhood friend, she let out a strangled cry as the hand around her throat shifted and claws began to dig in. She felt something deep inside being dragged out.
Whistler reacted quickly when he saw what the Slayer was about to do. They had watched as every time the Slayer was seriously wounded, she used the essence of another to heal herself. He knew that no matter how Buffy felt right now, she'd never forgive herself if the Slayer drew out the supernatural and living energy from her best friend. After all, despite the dangerous stupidity of what the witch had done, even he knew that she had only been trying to help. He hit the Slayer with an energy ball powerful enough to kill a First Circle Demon. It sent her flying into the side wall with enough force to shove her halfway through the wall. She was growling like a feral animal when she managed to push herself out of it. She swayed for a moment, then took a step, but couldn't react fast enough to avoid the second energy ball. Slamming into the wall again, she crumpled over like a stringless puppet before vanishing right before their eyes.
Whistler dropped into a lotus position on the floor next to a gasping Willow. He was exhausted. As a balance demon, he really didn't have much in the way of powers, but his bosses had juiced him up in case he was forced into a confrontation with the nearly berserk Slayer as they watched her tear through the demons unwise enough to get in her way.
"You're that balance demon that Buffy told us about." Willow said hoarsely. Whistler nodded. "What happened to her? Was it that bad where she was? How long was she there? Will she get over the Stockholm Syndrome? What did they do to make her change like that?"
He looked at her in disbelief. His usual genial disposition was being severely tested at the moment. Although he fully acknowledged that he knew she had been trying to help the Slayer with the little stunt that she pulled, seeing the kid suffering like she was, just made him so angry at the whole lot of them.
"Oh, no, you foolish little rank amateur, think you know it all, half-assed witch," he snapped before he could stop himself, "this, all of this, with the possible exception of demon wannabe bikers out there, is YOUR fault."
Before he could go further, he tilted his head as he received a message from the Powers and an influx of new energy. Sighing, he reached out and touched Willow's bruised throat. She jerked, feeling like a live wire had come in contact with her skin, then the others gasped as her the puncture wounds and bruises vanished on her throat healed. Without a word, Whistler pushed himself to his feet and walked outside to heal Xander as well, then lifted him and carried him back inside.
"Everyone get comfortable, so I can explain just how badly you've screwed the pooch."