The six omniscient 'keepers' of the Balance stared at the being in the center of the 'room'. Even now, forced into a recuperative sleep from the damage brought on by Whistler's attack, her skin moved and rippled as the demon essence tried to maintain its meager foothold. Now that they had her here, they could clearly see something that they shouldn't be seeing.
"That bloodline was removed from the Slayer Line after the Incident!" The Wolf growled. "It was agreed upon by us all. How could this have happened?"
"Think you that we know?" The Eagle exclaimed. "Remember, it was us that put forth the decision. We are as surprised and dismayed by this unexpected complication as you seem to be."
Deep within Buffy's soul was a still untapped core of darkness recognizable to both sides even after all these generations.
"Apparently, we should have eliminated all of the remaining descendants as was our suggestion." The Hart sneered. "Your softness may well have doomed us all."
"Look closer." The Bear unexpectedly spoke up. "Her soul does not bear the mark of a Potential."
All eyes swung around again. The Bear spoke true. Buffy Summers had never been a Potential.
"How?" The Ram and the Lion said simultaneously.
The six looked at each other for an endless moment, then the Lion and the Wolf waved their hands in the same direction. In the mist, a line began to form, marked with the occasional dot and an image, beginning with the unforgettable features of sun-tanned skin and smiling hazel eyes. If Buffy had been conscious to see it, she would have been amazed, for it was an image of Sineya, before the Shadowmen had made her the First Slayer. What would have amazed her the most, however, was the uncanny resemblance between them.
"How could we have missed this?!?" The Eagle lamented. "It is no wonder that she has conformed to no one's standards, even our own."
"This also explains why the entity abandoned the established Line to join with her." The Bear continued.
"What are you babbling about?!?" The Wolf demanded in near shout.
"This Champion, Buffy Summers is the reincarnation of the offspring of Sineya, the First of the Chosen." The Lion said solemnly. "The Unclaimable One."
~~~ BtVS ~~ X-Men ~~~
Tara helped her girlfriend as Whistler laid Xander on the couch, looking up only for a moment when the young man groaned as he began to regain consciousness. Willow moved woodenly, her eyes never leaving the spot where Buffy had disappeared, the balance demon's accusation still resounding in her ears.
"Are y-you o-okay, baby?" She asked gently.
"He said that whatever is happening to Buffy is my fault." The redhead whispered in horror.
"Let's l-let him e-explain first." Tara suggested wisely. "Maybe it's not as b-bad as it s-sounded." She hugged her lover close in comfort. "Even if it is, w-we know that you d-didn't do it on p-purpose."
Willow shuddered and buried her face in Tara's neck for a moment, gathering her inner strength from the other witch's unwavering love and support, before she took a deep breath and pulled away. Together, they looked to the PTB's messenger.
"Can..." Willow took another deep breath. "Can you tell us what happened to Buffy? You said something about the Slayer absorbing the magic."
"Not just any magic," Whistler said reprovingly, "but some of the darkest magic that exists in this dimension." Everyone looked at Willow in shock. They hadn't known the specifics of the spell. She had been abnormally closed-mouthed about it when asked, even with Tara. "Whatever possessed you to do something so foolish?"
Willow looked down at her hands clenched in her lap, tears dripping onto whitened knuckles. "It-it was t-t-the only one I could f-find." She sobbed. "I couldn't let her s-suffer for sacrificing her life to save us all. I h-h-had to save her."
Whistler sighed deeply as he laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. "And that's the only reason that the Powers aren't demanding retribution, both for the innocent life that you took, and for ripping their Champion from a reward that she very much deserved. You see Red, she didn't go to a hell dimension as you assumed.
The Powers understand that there would have been no way for you to find her behind The Gates, but if they’d had any inkling of what you were attempting to do, you would have been informed that her soul had been sent to her final peace."
Willow gave a horrified, anguished whimper as she crumpled in on herself, sobbing harshly. Tara wrapped her arms tightly around her from one side, and Dawn quickly sat down on the other.
Whistler waited with uncharacteristic patience as they comforted her. Once her sobbing lessened, he continued. "Unfortunately, there will still be consequences, because magic like that requires it, but like I said, because the Powers are well aware that you truly thought of nothing but saving the Slayer, they have negated as much of it as they could."
"What about Buffy?" Dawn asked.
"She can't stay here." Whistler said, a little sadly. He really liked the kid, despite her constant threats every time she saw him, or heard his name mentioned, or just thought of him in general. If nothing else, she hadn't been boring. "You saw for yourself what the dark magic and the absorbed essences and the Hellmouth was doing to her. If she stays, she'll continue to soak it all in like a sponge, and she'll end up becoming worse than anything you've ever fought."
"That's impossible." Xander denied vehemently. "Buffy would never allow that to happen."
"Did I say she would do it consciously?" Whistler shot him a dark look, and the boy quieted. "You need to stay quiet, boy. Your little white knight routine, while I'm sure probably looked good for the ladies, nearly got the witch worse than killed."
"What about the Hellmouth?" He asked, a lot less belligerently this time. "We're trying, but we can't hold it alone."
"The Watcher is already working to get the Dark Slayer released to take over duties that are rightfully hers anyway."
"Faith?!?" Xander nearly jumped off the couch, before falling back with a moan. He stubbornly continued his objection. "You're letting that psycho-murderer back on the Hellmouth after she switched sides? Are you on crack?"
"Xander, shut up." Anya finally spoke up. She had been uncharacteristically silent nearly the entire night. "He's right. Now that the demons know about the Buffybot, and now that the stupid thing's been destroyed, we need a Slayer. Faith is a Slayer. As long as she sticks to slaying the demons instead of helping them, and you stay out of her damn bed, I don't care if she personally tortured and massacred half of Sunnydale. I'm not going to die just because you all have past issues. You have a past issue with me as well, remember?"
She kept him silent with a glare when he opened his mouth to respond. "Besides, how smart is it to piss off the mouthpiece of the Powers?"
Xander paled as he remembered just who he'd been yelling at. With an audible gulp, he resettled on the couch and kept his head down.
"It's time for you to step up, Anyanka." Whistler turned to the former vengeance demon. "The knowledge that you possess would be invaluable to this group. It would have been to the Slayer, but they are human and they are young and, despite your constant reminders of who you once were, they still see you as merely another Scooby. It has never occurred to them to see you as a valuable resource, with your firsthand knowledge of the demon world. Just because it does not occur to them to ask you, does not mean that you should withhold what you know."
"They see me as a Scooby?" Anya asked in surprise, feeling absurdly pleased by that. She had always felt like something of an outsider around the tightly knit group. She often wondered if Tara felt the same.
"I still want to know about Buffy!" Dawn interrupted with as much forcefulness as a young teenager could. "Tell me what happened to my sister and what you did with her."
Whistler sighed once again. "Ripping her through the sealed Gates damaged the kid in ways you could never possibly imagine. It quite literally tore her soul to shreds."
Willow whimpered again. Tara rubbed soothing circles on her back, even as she struggled with the knowledge that her lover had used the worst kind of magic, for any reason, no matter how justified. The balance demon was right. There would be unavoidable consequences for using that magic, and Willow was going to bear the brunt of it. She was going to have to keep a close eye on her lover in the near future.
"The demon whose essence was used to create the Slayer entity was very powerful." Whistler continued. "It kept itself strong by absorbing the essence of those it defeated, both to replenish itself, and because that was the only true way to destroy its enemies. The Slayer entity was not given that ability when it was created, but like I previously mentioned, the unfiltered surge of black magic 'woke up' the demon essence. It had been taking the essences of those that the Slayer took out on her way here, both demon and
human, in an attempt to keep the body strong and to regain its own strength to 'take over' the Slayer entity, and eventually would have managed to take over the kid as well, corrupting her completely. She would have literally been worse than any demon that you have ever faced."
The horror in the room was almost palpable.