Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters and never will. BtVS belongs to Joss Whedon. I can only claim ideas that come from sleep deprivation and overdosing on caffeine and nicotine.
Author's Note: A big Thank you to Loatroll and Ravenwoodbane for recommending this story and for every one else who has taken the time to read and leave a review. Olbear
Sunnydale Memorial Hospital
Xander looked up from the latest edition of Batman that Cordelia had left him to see Rupert Giles, librarian and Watcher Extraordinaire standing in the doorway.
“Hey Giles.” He said as he put down the comic. “It’s good to see you.”
“And it’s good to see you looking a little better Xander.” Giles answered as he took a seat. “How are you feeling today?”
Xander grimaced. “I’ve been better Giles but I’m looking forward to getting out of here.”
“Oh, the hospital is discharging you already?” Giles asked in surprise. He would have thought that Xander would be kept here in the hospital at least for another week.
“Day after tomorrow.” Xander replied. “Since I’m under eighteen and an orphan but not a ward of the State I don’t have any insurance. So unless I can find a couple of hundred bucks a day to stay here I’m out the door to free up a bed for someone else.”
“Do you have somewhere to stay?” Giles asked while at the same time wondering whether the Rosenberg’s or Mrs Summers might have offered to take him in until his parents affairs were in order. Both Sheila and Ira Rosenberg and Joyce Summers had visited him and he thought that if they knew that Xander had nowhere else to stay they may offer him a room.
“Yeah I do, I’ll be staying with my Uncle Rory.” Xander explained and he hoped that his uncle had begun clearing out the spare room at his house. Xander wasn’t sure that he’d be able to sleep in a room full of stuffed animals. Rory was a good guy, despite his moroseness and taste for peppermint schnapps but the mechanic’s hobby of taxidermy just freaked him out sometimes.
Giles nodded and took a seat. “So Xander, Miss Chase said you wanted to speak to me about some dreams you’ve been having? Do you remember when they started?”
“Yeah Giles it was after I got away from Drusilla.” Xander said as he shifted his body into a more comfortable position. “I don’t remember much, just fragments, but I’m fighting demons somewhere that isn’t here in Sunnydale and there are people fighting alongside of me, speaking in a language I don’t know but somehow I understand some of what they say and I’m killing vampires as easy as Buffy does.”
Giles leaned back in the chair. He was unsure what to make of Xander’s dreams. It might just be that Xander’s subconscious was presenting scenarios where he was able to triumph against creatures that physically outmatched him as a coping mechanism.
But that didn’t explain why the dreams had only started after his torture at the hands of Drusilla or, more importantly, that a lone vampire spontaneously turned to dust when it approached him. Since Xander hadn’t mentioned the vampire in his room last night it was obvious that he wasn’t aware of how close he came to death last night. The Watcher paused. Xander had died last night, his heart had stopped and had to be restarted in much in the same way that Buffy had died at the hands of the Master last year. He wondered whether there was a connection there.
“To be honest Xander I don’t know what to make of it.” Giles confessed. He had been researching most of the night and was still no closer to understanding what was happening to the young man in the hospital bed. “I’ll keep looking of course and if you recall anything else from your dreams please let me know. For now I think you should concentrate on your recovery. Buffy and Willow will be much happier when they know that you are up and about. So will Kendra for that matter.” He said as he remembered how close a watch the Jamaican Slayer had kept on Xander last night.
Xander nodded, he knew that Giles would do his best but with everything else that was going on at the moment, Kendra having returned to Sunnydale on the trail of some ‘Dark Power’, the return of Angelus and Miss Calendar having been outed as a Gypsy spy, sent to keep an eye on the vampire they had cursed over a century ago, the Watcher had more important things to find an explanation for his dreams.
“There is something else I remember from the dreams.” Xander said in a quiet tone. “In every one of them someone yells out something, it sounds like ‘Seo an tine coristche’. Does it mean anything to you Giles?”
Giles pondered what Xander had just said. “It might Xander, the phrase sounds Gaelic or one of the languages derived from Celtic. I’ll have to check to be sure but it could mean ‘see the holy fire’ or ‘hold the sacred flame’ depending on the language.” A thought struck him. “I believe that we used several books on Celtic traditions to research a demon recently, perhaps you saw the phrase then.”
Xander nodded at Giles explanation before changing the subject.
“So what else is happening?” He asked. “Cordy said that Buffy called her last night.”
“Yes well Buffy and Kendra had an encounter with Angelus last night.” Giles said and went on to explain that Angelus had threatened to have sent vampires to collect on Xander’s ‘debt’. Xander bristled at the implication that he would sell out his friends to save his life but kept quiet as Giles continued telling him that according to both Buffy and Kendra it appeared as though Angel had returned with a warning that vampires were sent to kill Buffy’s friends.
“So Kendra made it back in time to stake the vampire?” Xander asked. He knew that when he began helping Buffy in her calling that there was a good chance that he would fall victim to a vampire one night. But to hear that one had almost fed on him chilled him to the bone.
For a moment Giles was going to tell Xander that the vampire had been dusted nearly five minutes prior to Kendra’s arrival but decided that for the moment it would be best if Xander didn’t know. Not until he’d found more information about exactly what had happened.
“Yes Xander you were very lucky last night.”
“So what about Deadboy? Is his soul really there or is he just playing some kind of game? I thought that Miss C said that once the curse was broken Angel’s soul would move on.” Xander asked. If Angel was still in his body somewhere he knew that Buffy would move Heaven and Earth to free him.
“Jenny, I mean Miss Calendar did say that the soul would be freed once the curse was broken.” Giles admitted. “However when magic and souls are combined one can never be sure of the outcome.” His personal belief was that Angel’s soul was gone and all that was left was a psychotic demon that wanted to build up Buffy’s hopes before destroying her body and soul.
If Angel was somehow still there but trapped, only occasionally regaining control Giles would have expected Angel to take steps to ensure that he was no longer a threat to the woman he said he loved, either by falling on a wooden stake or taking a walk in sunlight, ending the reign of Angelus once and for all. For Giles the fact that Angelus was still around was confirmation that the vampire was only taunting Buffy.
“I guess Buffy’s plan now is to catch ‘Psycho Boy’ and keep him locked up till she can find a way to bring back his soul?” Xander asked, he paused as he considered something. “Is it even possible to bring back a soul?”
“To be honest Xander I don’t know.” Giles admitted. “Magics concerning the soul are usually considered some of the blackest magic in existence. My own knowledge of magic is not extensive enough to say whether or not it is possible or even feasible. Miss Calendar has already contacted her tribe in Europe requesting a copy of the curse. She hopes that she may find a way to replicate the original curse.”
Giles was about to say more but a nurse arrived stating that it was time for Xander’s dressings to be changed so Giles took his leave and headed back to the school.
Kendra Young looked around in surprise.
“This is not where I went to sleep.” She thought as she took in the forest that surrounded her. looking down she saw that she was dressed in a rough tunic and sandals and she held ‘Mr Pointy’ and ‘Mr Choppy’ in her hands.
“At least I’m armed.” She thought as she absently twirled the machete and adjusted her grip on the stake. It was almost dead quiet in the forest and off in the distance she could just hear the clash of steel on steel. Hefting her weapons she made her way through the moonlit forest towards what sounded like a battle.
Minutes later she stepped into a clearing and stopped dead. In the clearing she saw a warrior, dressed in trousers but bare chested, with a helmet that covered his face completely, who was fighting a group of vampires with a leaf bladed sword and a dagger. She was about to join the fight, she was a Slayer and it was her duty to fight demons where ever she found them when she realised that someone was standing beside her. Spinning around with her weapons at the ready to attack or defend against whoever it was that had snuck up on her Kendra could only gawk as she recognized him.
“Mr Zabuto!?” She squeaked in surprise.
Standing beside her was her Watcher, the man who had raised her since she was an infant. But instead of the light, tropical weight suits that Mr Zabuto had always worn in her memory he was now clad in an off white robe with a sprig of mistletoe pinned to one shoulder and on the other was perched Gladstone.
“Yes child.” Zabuto said, giving her a rare smile. “This is not your fight so you can stand down.” He gestured to the warrior and Kendra’s eyes widened when she saw him slash a vampire with his sword and the demon turned to dust. With an almost negligent move he buried his dagger in the chest of another demon and there was a flash of green light and another vampire turned to dust.
“Who is he?” Kendra asked. The warrior’s movements were graceful, almost a dance, but she could tell there was power in his strikes, almost as much as she could must.
“The Thrice Blessed One.” Zabuto explained. “Favored of the Lords of Earth and Sky, Bearer of the Sacred Flame.” He looked at Kendra and continued speaking. “For generations he has been lost in the mists of time but now he has returned and he brings fire and the sword to fight the lords of the underworld once more.”
“Will he help me?” Kendra asked. She knew that the Slayer was supposed to work alone but after her first visit to Sunnydale she was starting to rethink that idea.
“Perhaps you should ask him.” Zabuto said and she turned around to discover the fight was over and the warrior now stood in front of her, his weapons sheathed but his hands still on their hilts. Out of the corner of her eye she realised that Mr Zabuto had disappeared but she kept her attention on the figure in front of her. The warrior’s face was completely concealed by the visor of the bronze helmet he wore but Kendra could tell that he was studying her intently.
“You are the Slayer.” He stated, his voice slightly muffled and metallic.
Kendra nodded. “Yes I am Kendra, the Vampire Slayer.”
“Have you accepted your duty, even though it will mean your death?”
“Ye…. Yes.” Kendra stammered before raising her chin and speaking proudly. “I am a Slayer! I have a sacred duty and I will not rest till every demon I meet is returned to Hell where they belong!”
The warrior nodded. “Then I greet you in friendship child. May the Lords of Earth and Sky bless you and keep you safe. Always remember that above all else you must protect the living no matter what. You have battles to fight, not just of the body but the mind as well. Be true to your calling!”
With that the warrior walked off into the darkness. Just as he was about to disappear from sight he stopped and turned around. For some reason Kendra thought that he was smiling at her. The warrior drew his weapons and raised them to the sky.
“Behold the sacred flame!!” He roared and then his entire body turned into a pillar of emerald fire.
Kendra sat bolt upright in the bed, gasping for breath. It took her a few minutes to calm herself down but finally she had her breathing under control.
“That was a strange dream.” She thought to herself as she looked out the window to see that it was now late in the afternoon. She would have to leave soon to get to the school before she went on patrol. But before that she needed to call Mr Zabuto and tell him that she had had a Slayer Dream, her first one. Kendra hoped that her Watcher could make sense of the dream, she really wanted to know who this ‘Thrice Blessed One’ was, she had a feeling that she would be meeting him soon.
Picking up the phone she started dialing and wondered if Mr Giles would be upset with her for making two international phone calls in as many days. Perhaps once she told Mr Giles about her dream he would have some insight as well.
An old man finished packing his bags and looked up to see a young woman standing in the doorway.
“Come to talk your crazy old Grandfather out of leaving?” He asked as he crossed to a desk to retrieve his passport.
The woman simply tucked a lock of red hair behind her ear and folded her arms beneath her breasts. “Why would I do that? Surely a man in his seventies should be able to go halfway around the world just because some bird landed on a rock in the middle of winter without anyone thinking that he’s finally succumbed to dementia?”
“I told you before lass, it wasn’t just some bird. It was a messenger from the Lady Morrigan.” The old man grabbed a heavy overcoat and draped it over his arm. “For the first time in over two thousand years the ‘Thrice Blessed One’ has returned. I need to know how he was called and tell him the terrible price of his gift. Now are you going to drive me to the train station or do I have to walk there?”
Zoe snorted and was very tempted to throw the keys to the Range Rover out into the snow but she knew her grandfather too well. If she did that the old man would walk the twenty five miles to the station with barely a thought.
“Fine.” She said. “Though what I should do is drive you to an old folk’s home and leave you there. Maybe they could treat your raving insanity.” She grabbed her own parka and the car keys. “If nothing else it’d make my life easier.”
The old man just grinned at his granddaughter and slung his kit bag over one shoulder with barely a grunt. “Shall we be going?” he said and walked out of the room on the first leg of his journey.