The doors to the library swung open. Peri looked towards the entrance to see two teenage boys and a teenage girl walk in. The taller boy saw Giles, "Hey G-Man, what's up?"
"Xander, for the love of God stop calling me that!" Giles shot from behind the counter.
"Grumpy much?" asked the girl.
"Cordelia, I have to deal with you people all day, every day. It's a surprise I haven't died yet."
Cordelia crossed her arm, "Touchy."
The third student noticed Peri sitting in the chair in the library. He asked stoically, "Who are you?"
Peri stood up, "I'm Peri."
The boy replied, "Oz."
"That's my name."
Xander turned around to see the visitor in the library. His mouth was opened and his face looked like he had just seen a goddess in front of him. Giles saw Xander's dumb expression and told him, "Xander, close your mouth before you tongue dries out."
Cordelia turned to see Xander stare at Peri. She was clearly irritated with him, "Xander! What are you doing? You already have a girlfriend and that's me. Besides, she's way too old for you and her sense of style is, how should I put this, a train wreck."
"I'm not that old, and my sense of dress isn't that bad," Peri defended herself, "You should see my friend's outfit. It looks like he was attacked by a rainbow."
Giles chuckled a bit, "That's putting it mildly."
Oz looked at the TARDIS, "Am I the only one who noticed the big blue box."
The other two looked up at it.
"What is that thing?" asked Cordelia.
"A police call box," Giles said, "This model was common in the 50's."
"So what possessed you to buy it?"
"I didn't buy it. It was here when I got here. Apparently, it belongs to this young lady and her friend, the Doctor."
"The Doctor?" asked Xander, "What kind of name is that?"
"The only one he gave me," Peri replied.
"Where's the Doctor now?" asked Oz.
Giles's countenance went dark. He answered, "He's with Buffy. There is something you guys need to know."
"What is it?" asked Xander, worried.
"It's about Willow," Giles was worried.
"What's wrong with Willow?" asked Oz.
"It's kind of hard to explain," Giles answered.
"Willow's been possessed by an alien monster called the Mara," Peri answered. Giles shot her a look and Peri smiled, "Wasn't that hard for me."
"What do you mean Willow been possessed?" Oz asked intensely at Peri.
"I don't know the details but your friend's been possessed by a monster called the Mara," Peri said, "Actually that's about the only thing I know about this situation."
"So where is she?" asked Xander.
"Gone," Giles said, "She attacked Peri's friend before Buffy got her off of him."
"Then what happened?" asked Cordelia.
"Willow broke Buffy's grip and threw her across the room."
"It wasn't Willow. As the Doctor said, the Mara is in complete control of Willow," Peri stated.
Giles nodded, "Well, the Mara threw Buffy across the library before throwing herself out the window and..."
Giles was cut short by a scream outside the window. Xander and Oz ran towards the window to see two girls standing over a dead body. The two of them turned back to Giles and the two girls.
"What happened to that guy?" asked Xander.
"That's what I was going to say to you," Giles voice got even graver, "The Mara, while in Willow's body, killed that boy."
"What!?" yelled Xander.
"It was the Mara who did it. Willow didn't do it," Peri replied, "But she will remember it."
"We need to find her and get her away from people before she kills anyone else."
"The Doctor's looking for her."
"With Buffy," Giles added.
"Yes, with Buffy," Peri replied.
"Can they find her?" asked Oz.
"If they don't kill each other first," Peri replied.
"Agreed," stated Giles.
"Welcome to Sunnydale Hospital," Buffy told the Doctor as they walked into the hospital's parking lot.
"Looks underwhelming," the Doctor said.
"What were you expecting? The hospital made of gold?"
"No, that would be ridiculous. I've seen a lot of hospitals from different planets and different times. This one is kind of dull compared to others."
"Oh," Buffy replied, "The dullness is made up for on the inside with all the crazy cases that Sunnydale has."
The Doctor tensed up. He could sense that there was something powerful coming. It wasn't the Mara. It was something else. Just as fast as the feeling came, the feeling left him. The Doctor let the event pass. He said, "Let's get inside."
Buffy wasn't really excited about entering the hospital. The Doctor's enthusiasm made up for it, however. The two made their way inside. Buffy took off to the left, but the Doctor grabbed her arm. His strength still surprised her, but she was getting used to it. The Doctor pulled her towards him. He asked, "Where are you going?"
"To find Willow."
"Why don't we go ask the information desk and ask if they have seen here?"
"Okay," Buffy conceded.
The Doctor and Buffy walked past the waiting area to get to the information desk. Buffy glanced over to the waiting area. She grabbed the Doctor's arm and nearly tore it off. He glared at her. Without saying anything, Buffy pointed to the area. That's when the Doctor saw the Mara sitting there. Its eyes were shut and head was back. The two of them walked towards it, silently.
The Mara's head popped up and eyes shot open. Buffy was disturbed by what she saw. She was looking at Willow's face, but it wasn't Willow. It reminded her of Angel. They were both people she loved, but they became monsters.
"So the blonde bitch and the technicolored runaway came to stop me," the Mara shot. Mara noticed the silence from Buffy, "What is it, Buffy? You don't have any puns or sarcastic comments to blast me with? You're so good at that. I know that about you, Buffy."
"No you don't," Buffy growled, "You're not Willow."
"Yes, I am," the Mara grinned maliciously, "I am you best friend."
"Buffy, it's going to try to cause you pain. Don't listen to it," the Doctor told her.
The Mara stood up to face the Doctor. It sneered at him, "Do you think I don't know about you...Lord of Time?"
"We've met before. Don't forget that. You probably found out about me when we met on one of our last meetings."
"Maybe I did. Maybe I didn't, Lonely Angel."
The Mara didn't get the reaction from the Doctor it had hoped. The Doctor didn't feel hurt or pain. Actually, the Doctor looked confused. He scratched the back of his neck. Finally, the Doctor spoke, "Lonely Angel? What's that?"
"The War hasn't come yet?" asked the Mara.
"What War?" asked the Doctor.
"What does that mean? Time War? What's the Time War?" asked the Doctor.
The Mara smiled, "I'm not going to spoil the fun for you."
"What is it? My future and your past. Is that it?"
"Yes, Doc. That's exactly what I'm saying. That will come in its own time," the Mara said. It turned back to Buffy, "Now Buffy, when I said the word angel, you were the one that exhibited pain. Tell me why the word angel hurts you."
The Mara sat back down in the chair and crossed its legs. Also interested, the Doctor turned to look at Buffy himself. Buffy closed herself off. She wasn't going to tell these two things about Angel and all the things he had done, especially to something like the Mara
"Come on, Blondie," the Mara hissed, "If you don't tell me, I can access Willow's memories to find the answers. Either way, you're pumping out all kinds of pain, sadness and anger. You are an all you can eat buffet right now."
"Buffy, I think you should leave," the Doctor said. His voice wasn't the normal condescending one, but, rather, one filled with compassion and understanding. And worry.
The Mara said, "Ah, I've found it. Angel was your lover. You loved him with all of your heart and it hit its climax when you two screwed each other giving him a moment of pure happiness. Now he's a soulless monster hell-bent on tormenting you for the rest of your days. Gah, I've got to meet this man. He's a sociopathic monster after my own darkness. He's killed so many people. One of them was so close to all of you."
Buffy was at her boiling point. She clenched fist and was ready to strike. The Doctor could sense Buffy's emotion. He told her, "Buffy, we need to go. The only thing you are doing is making the Mara stronger. Besides, there are too many people here."
The Mara smirked in agreement with the Doctor. Buffy wanted to clock the Mara, but she knew the Doctor was right. Buffy huffed as she stormed out of the hospital. The Doctor watched Buffy walk out the doors before facing the Mara. He bluntly told it, "I will stop you again. Believe me when I say that."
The Mara was amused at the Doctor's confidence, "I'll have to wait and see for that one. This person I'm in now is different from everyone else I've been in. She's magical."
"What?" asked the Doctor.
"She dabbles in witchcraft, and that gives me access to her powers although they are weak. Besides, I'm more of a psychologist."
The Doctor could tell the Mara was far more evil and dark than it was is in the past, "You’re different from the last time I met you. Also, I don't think you were pulled here by something or someone. Why don't you tell me the truth?"
"The part of me being pulled here was true. You're right on the fact I'm different. I just got out of the War and the darkness I fed on turned me into an even bigger monster. Also, I was caught and prevented from ever taking a corporeal form again. If I do, I’ll die. I can only exist in the victim I'm riding."
The Doctor filed that comment away in his mind. That could come in handy when he found a way to stop the Mara. He told it one last thing, "Enjoy your body while you have it because I will save the girl."
"I'll look forward to that Doc," the Mara remarked, "One last thing for me too."
"The Hellmouth will open. I think I was pulled here because I was the one who is supposed to open it."
"Who would want that thing opened?" asked the Doctor.
"That's the question of the hour," the Mara said.
The Doctor shook his head before leaving himself. The Mara stood up. It walked towards the bathroom and went in. It looked at its reflection in the mirror only to have the reflection not move in sync with the Mara.
"Enjoying the ride so far, Willow?" the Mara asked the reflection.
"What are you doing this for?" Willow asked.
"Fun!" the Mara exclaimed.
"Why are seeing me?" asked Willow.
The Mara hesitated before replying, "Because I want to see your tortured face."
Willow got a burst of courage, "You're lying. There's another reason. This time you are the one afraid. Why?"
"Little girl, I'm not afraid of anything," the Mara shot. It changed the subject by saying, "You know red hair doesn't really suit me. How about black?"
"What?" asked Willow. She knew the answer as she saw the Mara turn her red hair to black.
"Ah, that's better," the Mara said to itself.
Willow didn't know why the Mara brought itself here to talk to her. She asked, "Why did you come here to mock me?"
"I just wanted to check up on my ride," the Mara answered, "And I can see you are doing fine."
"Is that all I am to you? A ride?"
"Duh! Why would I care about you? You are supposed to be the smart one of the group. You're overrated."
"That's a matter of opinion."
"That's a matter of fact. This conversation is over!" the Mara punched the mirror and shattered it, splattering blood on the glass. The Mara looked at the injured hand. The Mara sighed as the hand healed itself instantly.
"I think I'm done here," the Mara said to itself. The Mara walked out of the bathroom and eventually out of the hospital and back into Sunnydale.
The Doctor finally caught up to Buffy. He grabbed her shoulder to stop her, but it backfired. Buffy grabbed his hand and flung the Doctor over her shoulder without thinking. The Doctor smashed into the ground and looked up at Buffy in both pain and surprised. He asked Buffy, "What was that for?"
"I'm sorry!" Buffy said. She held out her hand and helped the Doctor back up to his feet.
"That's okay," the Doctor said as he brushed himself off.
"I was just hurt because what that monster said was true."
"I figure that it was," the Doctor said, "But you're going to have to control your emotions when you are around the Mara. It's not a monster that your anger can help you beat. It feeds on anger and pain as you saw."
"How do beat it and save Willow?" asked Buffy. Her eyes were starting to become puffy as she was on the breaking point.
The Doctor sighed as Buffy asked that question. He told her solemnly, "The Mara is stronger now than I have ever seen it. So with that, I don't know if we can beat it and save Willow. Buffy, you need to know that she may be lost forever, and there is nothing that you can do to save."
"What?" asked Buffy as the tears started to roll down her face, "There's got to be a way."
The Doctor, in a moment of rarity, empathized with Buffy. He told her, "I can't find one and I'm sorry. If there was any way to beat the Mara and save your friend, I promise you that I'll find."
Buffy couldn't hold it anymore. She broke down. Her voice become high and cracked as she cried, "My life's been falling apart the last few months. This is the damn cherry on top!"
For once, the Doctor didn't know what to do. He put his hands in his pockets and awkwardly stood there as Buffy was crying. He said, "I think we should get back to the library. I'm not the best person for emotional support."
Buffy let out a little laugh, "I've figured that already."