All characters in this chapter are borrowed from Buffy The Vampire Slayer
.Xander Harris, This Is Not Your Life31. Aftermath
The boy and the girl—Cordelia Chase and Kevin Benedict, if those were really their names—were sitting close to each other, holding each other’s hands for whatever comfort they could get.
She looked away from them and back towards the door and the front of the house. They’d secured things as much as they could. That other—whatever-he-was—Angel—he was keeping an eye on the rear.
She still wasn’t absolutely sure she could trust him. But then, she still wasn’t absolutely sure of her own name. That Buffy girl seemed sure she was somebody called Nancy Blaisdell. She supposed she could be. If Buffy’s story was true, ridiculous as it sounded, it would be some sort of explanation. She didn’t have a better one of her own. Still—vampires? enchantments? supernatural monsters?
She collected herself. There was violence in the streets, and there were civilians who needed to be kept safe. She’d seen both those things with her own eyes, and she should focus on them.
She heard footsteps approaching the front door and readied her weapon, fully alert.
A moment later, somebody came through the door—literally through the door, as in, without opening it. It was the other boy, or ghost, or whatever-he-was, the one called Morgan Shea.
If he really was a ghost, it would explain his ability to walk through solid objects. She didn’t have another explanation.
He said, ‘Buffy’ll be here in a minute. She’s got my body. Perhaps you could open the door for her?’
Still holding her weapon at the ready, she moved cautiously to the door and looked out through the glass. It was indeed Buffy approaching, although it took her a moment to make out the girl’s face clearly, as she was carrying a body over her shoulder. What she could see of the body matched the appearance of Morgan Shea. There was nobody else in sight—nobody and nothing, human or supernatural creature.
As she opened the door for Buffy, still scanning for possible assailants and ready to fire if needed, it occurred to her that a girl Buffy’s size shouldn’t be naturally able to lift that kind of weight—more evidence in support of Buffy’s story.
‘Thanks’, Buffy said as she came in.
Nancy Blaisdell—she might as well use the name Buffy had given her—took one last quick look in all directions before securing the door again. Then she turned to see that Buffy had carried her load across the room to set it down in a chair. It looked exactly like Morgan Shea, except dead.
‘He is dead’, said the other girl, Cordelia. She looked from one Morgan Shea to the other. ‘You are a ghost.’
‘Giles sounded as if he thought he could break the spell’, said Buffy. ‘If he does, things should go back to the way they were before. At least, that’s what I’m hoping. That’s the way it worked the last time Giles had to break a spell.’
‘He’s done that before?’ asked Kevin. ‘This has happened before?’
‘Not the same kind of spell, no, something different. It was a spell that swapped—ah—two people into each other’s bodies.’
‘Like Freaky Friday
‘Yes’, said Buffy with a hint of hesitation, ‘something like that. And then Giles did some magic to break the spell and the two people went back to their own bodies. So if he can break this enchantment, everything should go back to the way it was. I hope. Morgan should be back in his body, and Nancy should be herself, and all the monsters and demons and vampires and pirates—’
Kevin interrupted. ‘Pirates? In Sunnydale?’
Buffy said slowly, ‘Morgan and I did run into somebody out there who must have got a pirate’s costume from Ethan’s, because he’d turned into a real pirate. Actually it was strangely quiet in the streets, we didn’t run into any other trouble, or anybody else at all anywhere. I think I should go outside now and do another sweep.’
‘What about this pirate?’ said Cordelia. ‘Is he still out there?’
As Buffy hesitated again, Morgan answered the question. ‘Buffy knocked him out.’
Buffy started gesturing defensively. ‘He attacked me! He was trying to molest me! I had to defend myself!’
Cordelia agreed with her enthusiastically. ‘Well, good for you! One less thing for us to worry about. Was it anybody we know?’
Buffy looked awkwardly at Nancy. ‘Actually, it was—um—it was a relative of yours. Larry.’
Nancy shook her head. ‘Larry?’ She shook her head again. Suddenly she felt very strange, her head swimming and her arms sagging under the weight of her gun—and then the gun felt light again, like a toy. ‘Larry?’
Her head cleared and her gun was a toy.
Buffy moved towards Nancy. ‘I’m sorry!’
Kevin said, ‘Wow!’ The tone of his voice made both Nancy and Buffy look in his direction.
He was pointing at Morgan, sitting up in his chair. ‘Look! There were two of him, and then suddenly there was just one!’
Morgan shook himself and stood up. ‘Well, my body has its problems, but I am glad to be back inside it.’
‘Giles!’ said Buffy. ‘He must have done it! He must have broken the spell!’
The one called Angel came into the room. He must have heard the noise. ‘It’s all over? You’re sure?’
‘Look! It must be. Look at Morgan. Look at Nancy, and her—gun.’
‘And the streets? They’re clear?’
‘They were pretty much quiet already when I was out there just now. I was just thinking about another quick sweep, but now …’ Buffy hesitated.
‘We could do it together’, Angel said, looking at Buffy.
‘What about us?’ said Cordelia.
Buffy looked at Angel. ‘Do you think you could make sure Cordelia gets home safely? And Nancy, and Morgan, and Kevin?’
Kevin reacted to that. ‘If things are really back to normal, won’t it be safe enough for everybody to go home by themselves? I can see Cordelia home.’
Cordelia took hold of his arm, but didn’t say anything.
Nancy spoke to Buffy. ‘If you knocked Larry unconscious, he might still be lying out there in the street.’
‘I really am sorry about that, but it really was self-defence. He wasn’t himself, he was a pirate, just like you were a soldier.’
Nancy shook herself. ‘I remember that. I remember all about it. It was weird. It was as if I was sharing my body with somebody else, and it—she—was in control and I couldn’t do anything, but I knew everything she was thinking and feeling and she had no idea I even existed. So it was probably like that with Larry. Except that I know what he’s like even when he’s just being him, so he was probably much worse as a pirate. Still, he is my cousin, and now he’s not a pirate any more and he’s somewhere out there in Sunnydale lying in the street, probably unconscious, and even if everything’s gone back to normal that’s not exactly safe.’
‘That’s a good point’, said Morgan. ‘Even if the enchantment has been broken, things may not have gone completely back to normal straight away. We don’t know what’s been happening meanwhile. There’s always safety in numbers.’
‘Okay’, said Buffy. ‘How about I take Nancy to see whether I can find Larry, and Angel, you escort the others home?’
Cordelia nodded. ‘Kevin, Buffy knows about this stuff. I know she’s saved my
life twice. I think we should listen to her.’***
Larry was still lying where Buffy and Morgan had left him, but he was stirring. Nancy ran to him.
‘Larry, are you all right? Don’t try to get up yet. Be careful. You might have a concussion.’
‘A concussion?’ said Buffy, joining them.
‘He was knocked out. There’s always a risk of some permanent damage.’ Nancy had put her hands against Larry’s upper arms and was looking into his face. ‘Larry, can you hear me okay?’
‘Wow.’ Larry’s eyes were half-open. ‘Nancy? Is that you?’
‘Larry? Just lie still. Do you know where you are?’
‘In Sunnydale somewhere. I don’t remember the name of the street. I got clobbered.’ Larry’s eyes opened a little further. ‘Buffy? Is that you? You know, you’ve got quite the punch. I’m just glad none of my buddies were around to see me get pummelled by a girl.’
‘I didn’t want to, it was just that …’
‘Yeah, I remember what it was like. It was weird.’
‘It was magic’, Nancy said. ‘All the people who bought their costumes from Ethan’s got turned into whatever it was they were dressed up as.’
‘You didn’t buy a costume. You just had some fatigues from an army surplus store.’
‘I got a toy gun from Ethan’s at the same time you got that pirate’s outfit.’
‘That’s right. I remember. So you turned into a soldier?’
‘Yes’, said Nancy, ‘until the spell was broken.’
Larry lowered his head and closed his eyes again for a moment. ‘Yeah, right. You said. A magic spell.’
‘What, Larry, do you have a better explanation? You turned into a pirate, Larry! It was a magic spell, and Mr Giles broke it.’
‘Giles? The school librarian? He broke the spell? I’m still unconscious, right? Pinch me. Or maybe I do have that concussion you were talking about.’
‘Mr Giles isn’t just the school librarian. He has to know a lot about magic and supernatural stuff, because he’s Buffy’s Watcher, and Buffy is the Vampire Slayer.’
Buffy cleared her throat and interrupted. ‘Do we have to have this conversation here?’
‘That’s right’, said Nancy. ‘Larry, we need to get you to the hospital.’
‘The hospital? Come on, don’t make such a big deal out of this. It was just a punch or two.’
‘Larry, when a player gets knocked out on the football field, what do they do? He gets stretchered off, and a medic takes a look at him. That’s the minimum.’
‘All right, all right, you can take me to the hospital. Is that enough to get you off my back?’
Nancy looked at Buffy. ‘Maybe we should call an ambulance.’
Larry started to raise himself from the ground. ‘I said I’d go to the hospital. I don’t need an ambulance. I’ll be able to walk all right.’
‘Okay, but you have to let us help you. Buffy?’
Buffy came over to them and helped get Larry to his feet, supporting him from one side while Nancy guided him from the other.
‘You really are strong’, said Larry. ‘Are all Vampire Slayers this strong?’
Nancy answered his question. ‘There’s only one Slayer at a time. She has special powers to fight against evil, like a superhero. And she works in secret, so you can’t tell anybody else about her.’
‘Trust me, I don’t want to tell anybody I got knocked out by a girl. I guess those superhero powers don’t just work against vampires, then?’
Neither Buffy nor Nancy answered this question, so they moved on for a minute in silence. Then Larry spoke again. He still sounded a little softer than usual, but he wasn’t showing any other signs of serious damage.
‘That blond guy I saw earlier tonight—would he have been a vampire?’
‘I told you’, Nancy said, ‘the spell turned people into whatever they were costumed as. Buffy and I already saw somebody earlier, before the spell was broken, who’d been wearing a vampire costume and had turned into one.’
‘Did you say blond?’ said Buffy. ‘Can you describe him?’
‘I dunno. He had an ugly face and fangs like a vampire. He had an English accent, I think. The hair was dyed, I’d bet, and slick, like he’d put something on it. Uh … He was wearing a black leather coat. And he was getting together all the people he could find—well, not people exactly, they were all like demons and monsters—and he was telling them that if they were looking for a good fight they should follow him.’
‘You know him?’ said Nancy.
‘You remember how on Parent-Teacher Night the school was attacked and Principal Flutie was killed?’
‘Uh … I think so. They said it was gangs on PCP, right?’
‘That’s what they said
. The truth is it was vampires. And Spike was the one at the head. But I beat him up and they ran away.’
Larry looked at Buffy. ‘You didn’t slay him?’
‘Hey, there were a lot of vampires in the school that night! I took out three of them. And there were a lot of innocent civilians to protect as well. This job isn’t a cakewalk. And now Spike’s out there and he’s up to something new, sounds like. Giles told me vampires and demons always stay in on Halloween.’
‘Maybe when all those fake demons and monsters came out’, Nancy said, ‘he saw it as some kind of strategic opportunity.’
‘A strategic opportunity for Spike? Isn’t that just a thought of joy. Well, we’ll get Larry to the hospital and then I’ll think about trying to find out what else has been going on.’***
The first phone call Buffy made in the morning was to Ms Calendar’s, looking for Giles.— ‘No, he isn’t here. He went out last night alone to that place, the costume shop, and when he came back he didn’t want to talk much. He said he’d broken the enchantment, but that was all. To me he seemed like a person who has a secret and is feeling troubled by it. Then he went home. I called him later when I got the other news but he didn’t answer.’
‘The other news?’— ‘Haven’t you heard? It’s the big story. Somehow, in the middle of the confusion last night, Principal Seymour was killed. The police are telling their usual story about gangs and PCP, but …’
‘I never hear anybody talk about PCP except when the Sunnydale Police are making up one of their stories about something I know the real explanation for’, said Buffy heavily. ‘That’s two Sunnydale High principals in a row. We hardly had a chance to get to know this one. Was it Spike?’— ‘All I know is that she dressed up in a costume last night and went out with some children as one of the safety escorts. I think she wanted to make a good first impression. I don’t even know whether she had one of the enchanted costumes from Ethan’s. The police reports say there were witnesses, but they’re vague about that—and everything else. I’ve been hoping somebody else might turn up a lead to some hard information.’
‘Well, I know that Spike was out last night, and he was recruiting people who were enchanted into demons and monsters for some kind of battle, but I don’t know anything more than that’, Buffy said. ‘Can you keep working on finding out more about what happened last night? and I’ll see whether Giles will talk to me.’
Giles, when Buffy got hold of him, had not heard about Principal Seymour’s death, and had nothing useful to communicate about what might have been going on the night before, on Halloween. They had to spend a couple more days piecing together information passed on by most of the people they knew, to which list were now added Cordelia, Kevin, Nancy, Larry ( who had made a complete recovery without signs or symptoms of concussion), and Morgan. All the people they talked to knew other people who’d been out in Sunnydale while the spell was working. Eventually they got the story reasonably clear.
Traditionally, as Giles had told Buffy, vampires did not come out on Halloween, and the Order of Aurelius, particularly, were above all traditionalists. But the vampires and other demonic creatures into which people had been transformed by the strange enchantment on Halloween had not been bound by the same tradition. Spike had been able to take advantage of that opportunity to recruit a fighting force for an attack on the Anointed One and the Order of Aurelius, who on that night had been suspecting nothing. The Anointed One had been destroyed and the forces of the Order of Aurelius crushed and dispersed.
The moment of Spike’s success had been followed almost immediately by Giles’s successful breaking of the enchantment. With everybody reverting to their real selves, Spike was suddenly surrounded not by useful but deadly minions but by schoolchildren and their teenage escorts—and by Principal Seymour. They had all been disoriented and terrified by their confused memories, but Seymour had proved herself a true hero. She had blocked Spike’s way to give the others time to escape him. Their reports brought the police to the spot, where they found only Seymour’s body, drained of blood.
Sunnydale High would be searching for a new principal again. But the vampires who clustered in Sunnydale around the Hellmouth wouldn’t have to search for a new leader and chief. That would be Spike.