Thanks For The Memories And Owchies!
Disclaimer: I OWN NOTHING HERE!
I don’t own Buffy The Vampire Slayer
. Joss Whedon and his crew do. Eric Kripke owns Supernatural
, and is responsible for everything within that Universe. I OWN NOTHING HERE! HALLOWEEN FANFIC—IF YOU RECOGNIZE IT, IT’S NOT MINE!
.) I’m moving. So, for the next few months, my access to the Internet is going to be iffy. For that reason I’ve decided to publish my unfinished second chapter now, and when I can, publish the complete version as a third chapter rather then replace this version.
Thanks to all my readers. I hope to be back soon! Bye! X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8
Thanks For The Memories And Owchies!
Just two hours North from LA, Sunnydale, California, was a town that, according to its citizens--while not a truly peaceful community--had recently acquired the reputation of being an almost . . .quiet . . .sort of town after nightfall.
Not a condition that was going to last very long, not like the other things, the town’s long term residents warned disbelieving newcomers, temporarily adding that admonition to the usual warnings against inviting anyone inside their homes after nightfall, avoiding shady areas, and keeping a wary eye upon and distance from manhole covers--Not that their warnings were generally heeded, but they still felt better for issuing them. A little more . . .human, for making that effort.
Privately, and within the comfortable circle of family and friends, they felt confident in predicting the cut off screams, and desperate, futile, pleas for mercy; the running feet; the splintering doors, breaking glass; the controlled explosions (explained as ‘gas leak explosions’); the booming sounds of shotguns and rapid staccato weapons gunfire--And worse of all, the inhuman laughter, were due to return in time—They always did.
Naturally, for the sake of those nice ignorant outsiders, they blamed warring gangs as the problem, leaving out anything supernatural from their explanations while in mixed company. Although, the coded words did have the effect of making them sound like moronic loons.
As for the hiatus from the ‘gang’ violence the town was currently enjoying, the locals, with a little bit of thought, could date it back to just after the last ‘gang’ war, on Halloween, five months back on the calendar. Not that those five months had been completely uneventful . . .
For one thing, the town’s mayor, Richard Wilkins the Third, disappeared. Most people blamed his disappearance on gangs. Others in the know about the one, and only, ORIGINAL, Richard Wilkins felt his long overdue comeuppance had finally made an appearance. The only people who were stricken by Wilkins’ disappearance were those who had benefited, and profited, by his patronage and protection. Debts, happily hidden and ignored with the power of a dark mage’s magic, suddenly became noticeable, and due—As the Chase family discovered first hand with the unwanted arrival of the IRS at their doorstep.
That group aside, it could easily be said, that the only people who had loved, and truly would have mourned Richard Wilkins had long, and long, since departed from that plane of existence, from that dimension, and beyond mortal ability to take action for or against him.
A lesser known occurrence was the relocation of one of the town’s shopkeepers—Not at really unusual. Ethan Raynes had not been in town for very long; his shop had only been open for a few weeks, closing on Halloween. Brief speculation by a handful of people concluded that Raynes had taken one look at the ‘gangs’ then in town, and left for a safer location.
Ethan Raynes, however, was NOT safe. He had gone to bed, in a hidden location of his choice, only to wake up in a trailer park in Arkansas. His next door neighbor was a bottle blond, with a large belly--decorated with a caesarean scar and pierced bellybutton--hanging over her too tight--low-rider--jeans, six horrid children of various ages and genders: A few of them actually fathered by one or two of her four former husbands.
True horror hit Ethan Raynes between the eyes as the woman confessed to fancying him, ‘--because of your foreign AX-cent. I just LOVE a man with a foreign AX-cent!
In a mad sprint, and a squeal of rubber tires from the pickup truck, bizarrely enough, he discovered he owned, Ethan Raynes managed to put a hundred miles between him and that trailer park in an impressively relatively short period of time—Only to be compelled to drive right back--again and again and again . . .After an uncountable number of failed escape attempts, Ethan Raynes grudgingly acknowledged the tether, and immediately made it his life’s ambition to severe it. Not to say that he completely stopped making panic induced, dashes for freedom, since most of those attempts were triggered by that WOMAN successfully stealing his pants, despite his most energetic and forceful resistance.
It took him three, long, LONG, years to discover the tiny Asian Seal at the bottom of his right buttock, disguised as a mole—That WOMAN had, giggling, commented on it, after she had thrown him, pantless once again, facedown on her bed, grinning lustfully while twirling his underwear around her pointer finger. Stealing his pants, while he was wearing them, was a common occurrence; but stealing his pants AND his underwear was rather a new development—Not one Ethan liked at all.
Once again, he managed to escape in the nick of time—Much to that WOMAN’S howling frustration (she had bought forty dollars worth of erotic oils, just for the two of them). Ethan, however, took to wearing several layers of pants, underwear, and just for good measure, bicycle shorts after that incident.
Five, even longer, horrible years passed, before he FINALLY unraveled and broke the Seal. Shortly after that long sought after event, a weeping, openly sobbing, Ethan profusely and sincerely thanked Chaos for his freedom from Hell. However, just as he stepped out of his trailer for what he was convinced was the very last time, the happy and oblivious Chaos mage was suddenly, and unexpectedly, swept up by a fast moving tornado no one saw forming. As an unhappy, and injury ridden, hospitalized Ethan Raynes discovered, his captors had wrapped him in LAYERS of security that would take him a lifetime to dissolve.
Oh, and his hell was complete after the smirking She-Devil-Next-Door convinced the hospital staff she was his wife, and was allowed inside his room.
In all those long terrible years, where he worked like the devil to avoid becoming ‘Daddy Raynes’, Ethan Raynes did enjoy one bit of good news—The Mark of Eyghon had completely faded away a few weeks after Halloween.
As it turned out, Sunnydale’s monster munching plants found demonically possessed zombie corpses just as yummy as they did faster, and better preserved, vampires. The demon, animating the decaying corpse of one of its former summoners, quickly discovered the plants crushing and devouring its shell were immune to possession. In a last desperate burst of demonic dark energy the demon emerged from its stolen body—And an instant later, crumble into fine ash eagerly absorbed by the attacking plants.
Two hours South of Sunnydale, in LA, a young adult, fresh out of his childhood, died in a hospice bed. Not at all what young Ford had originally planned—Originally, he had gone up to Sunnydale with the idea of trading the Slayer, his former ‘friend
’, Buffy Anne Summers, for a chance at immortality, to be turned as a vampire. Ford left Sunnydale after a few weeks, disappointed and griefstricken—Where in hell had all the vampires gone? Sunnydale was SUPPOSE to be teeming with them, dammit! Had Buffy dusted them all? Since asking Buffy was obviously out, Ford quietly returned to LA. As he lay dying in the hospice, in a corner of his mind unaffected by the drugs, Ford cursed Buffy; quite certain it was all her fault.
Spike and Drusilla barely managed to escape Sunnydale. A fleeing, terrified, Spike, carrying a humming Dru over his shoulder, came across a tethered hot air balloon, on a used car lot. Part of an advertisement campaign—Not that Spike cared. Only thing Spike cared about was that it was a fully functional, non-ground based, transport out of Sunnydale. He dumped Drusilla into the basket, cut the tethers, jumped into the basket with Dru, and gave a forked finger salute to the pursuing greenery, as they floated up and away in a relatively Southern direction.
Months later, Drusilla was dusted by a nine year old girl armed with a pencil.
How in the bloody hells was Spike to know the little Catholic school girl, sweet and delicious looking in her uniform, randomly picked up for Dru’s meal, was a Watcher overlooked potential Slayer? Or that her older brothers were jerks, who teased her with icky monster facts—Like how to deal with vampires? Or that the liquor he was desperately gulping down, after he had found Drusilla’s ashes, had been Blessed by the little girl, as all the liquids within sight, before she scrambled out the tiny window she managed to pry open. The internal burning began just as Spike dropped the bottle from his lips, and was at the edge of verbalizing all the painful and vile things he was going to do to that child and her family, once he tracked her down. Spike merely thought it was the alcohol.
Spike managed a single foul word, before his ashes dropped down, and mixed with Drusilla’s forever.
Angel managed his escape by diving into Sunnydale harbor. Not a dignified escape; but as he had learned long ago, any exit from difficult, or lethal circumstances was to be seized, and not complained about at all. He had a few rough moments fending off attacks by water plants, but he did succeed in clinging to the side of a fast moving yacht, owned by a small clan of wealth demons, escaping Sunnydale. They allowed the stowaway to remain because they were missing a few servants, and sent him down to the galley wearing a steward’s jacket. The larder’s contents gave away the reason why they were short their Human servants; it gave the Vampire-With-A-Soul the excuse he needed to slaughter every demon on board the luxury yacht—And it made Angel feel better knowing he had a better excuse for the slaughter other then the groping he had to endure earlier.
Later, behind the safety of polarized glass in the main cabin of his new yacht, he watched the sunrise, a glass of otter’s blood in one hand, a telephone in the other. He called Buffy, and as gently as he could broke off their developing relationship. As he pointed out to her, being eaten by her plants would have ended the relationship anyway. Buffy’s voice was dead, as she claimed to understand—She hung up without saying goodbye. Leaving a guilt wracked Angel to stare at the telephone for several long minutes, a pained expression upon his face. Not a single moment of happiness for him, it seemed . . .
Jenny Calendar broke off her own growing relationship with Rubert Giles, claiming family concerns, and her need to attend to them. She left Sunnydale soon afterwards, choosing duty over the man she knew she was falling in love with.
Rubert Giles’ losses mounted as his children (and other children, like Cordelia Chase) disappeared—He was horrified and pained when evidence surfaced suggesting they had run away. He did, however, feel a great sense of relief they were still alive. Giles was joined in his initial grief, and later search, by Buffy’s mother, Joyce Summers. The closeness, and intimacy, they ended up sharing was, in Giles’ mind, by no means inevitable—Maybe it was one too many shocks, maybe it was in dealing with too many ugly situations and possibilities, but however it came about, together they did end up producing a dark haired little girl, they named Dawn Marie Giles.
The monks in charge of protecting the Key learned, AFTER sending the Key off to the Summers’ household, that the Beast was dead—In their frenzy to destroy evidence of the Key’s destination they failed to note the modifications made to the ritual, or the consequences brought about it.
Ben, Glory’s Human host, had accidentally been killed after being flattened by a falling piano. The puzzled movers had no idea how, and why, the new ropes broke the way they did . . .No one noticed the dark haired man in a janitor’s coverall, standing across the street, smirking and eating a candy bar. No one noticed a thing when the same man disappeared in the sound of beating bird wings—VERY large bird wings.
Miller’s Woods had been a perfect home for a number of sun hating demonic species; the tall, wide-limbed, closely packed trees cut off the Sun’s cleansing rays, covering the ground with deep, nearly pitch-dark, shadows at midday.
It was also the perfect hideaway for a Mokoton user.
In less then a day, under the new Management, Miller’s Woods, once so forbidding and dark, became lighter, the trees taller and spread apart; air and light circulating freely throughout the once cursed patch of woodland. The encroaching desert was pushed back a bit; open meadows exploding with long green grass, and brightly colored wild flowers dotted the expanded woods.
Needless-to-say, no demons, or corrupting dark energies, were left anywhere within its borders afterwards.
Under the bright California sky, three friends met in a glade within Miller’s Woods. A small brook happily gurgled, and ran through one side of the glade. Flowers nodded in the small, fragrant breeze blowing through.
Buffy, Willow, and Xander stood facing each other. Smiles upon their sun tanned faces, wearing practical clothing (and shoes), the tiny breeze pulling at their hair. Their backpacks loaded and bulging, but concealing far more cargo then seen.
“Well, this is it.” Said Xander, with a small crooked smile, breaking the silence.
“Yeah . . .” Confirmed Willow, giving out her own brief, shy smile.
Buffy breathed in sharply through her nose. “At least, it’s a nice day for it.” She said, looking up at the clear blue sky.
“Oh, yeah . . .A good day . . .Almost make me want to hold off for another day--Almost.” Xander said. His chocolate brown eyes carefully upraised. His familiar grinned returned as he lowered his head and looked at his best friends. “Not that I’m getting cold feet, or anything like that. Too late for that anyway—I’ve already said my good-byes, and burned my bridges.”
“Same here.” Buffy smirked. “Kidnapping Snyder, and packing him away in that ship’s cargo container kind of said it all.”
Willow’s face brightened. “Oh, I’ve been meaning to ask you—Where exactly was that ship heading to?”
Buffy frowned, and she shrugged. “Don’t know the EXACT destination, where the ship’s gonna dock. But I do know it’s in Borneo somewhere.”
“Good,” said Willow firmly. “At least he can’t hop on a train, or a bus, and get back here anytime soon.”
“Nope!” Buffy grinned. “And he can’t say he was mistreated—I made certain the container had a toilet, food and water, clothing and blankets. And, yes, I remembered the can opener! I put two of them in there, in case one broke. See? I was amazingly through and thoughtful.”
“Yeah, that’s good, Buffy.” Xander said, thoughtfully, rubbing his chin. His eyes widen in suspicious realization. “Huh, Buffy? You did remember to add basic hygiene products in there, did you?”
“Huh? Hygiene whatzits?” The blond blinked and stared blankly.
Xander sighed. “Not that it matters that much now . . .But you know: soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, disposable razor, hairbrush/comb—You know, stuff like that.”
“But Snyder’s bald . . .he wouldn’t need a hairbrush.” Buffy whined, explaining. She guiltily, sheepishly stared down at the ground. “I forgot about that stuff.” Buffy reluctantly admitted. “Oops?”
Willow’s green eyes became distant, imagining Snyder a few days down the line without a proper bath, or a shave. “Stinky, hairy, Cave Snyder.” Willow commented in a horrified near whisper.
Xander gulped hard, Buffy whimpered.
All three Scoobies shuddered hard as their individual minds conjured up frightening—and disgusting—pictures of what was going to shamble out of that cargo container. “EEEWWWWW!”
“O-kay,” said Xander, blinking away the disturbing image he had imagined. After a few days in that cargo container, Snyder was going to be more troll like then ever, Xander was absolutely certain. “Now that we’ve added a few new mental scars on top of preexisting ones--” He became serious. “Last chance here, folks. Once we do this, there’s no going back.”
Willow was certain. No matter how frightened, and nervous, she was currently feeling over her decision. When she looked at her life in Sunnydale, looked at it hard enough, what exactly did she have to anchor her to a demon infected town? Or for that matter, to an entire world filled with them, when at any time she could become a meal to a horror that had no business existing? As for having children . . .Willow had patrolled Sunnydale’s many cemeteries with Buffy, and noted the majority of the grave markers were for children, or teenagers. How many of her children would just disappear, or if they did come back, would need an invitation to cross the threshold of their homes?
Her parents? Willow silently scoffed—Sheila and Ira had taken to the road again, after a single brief, eight hour long visit to the house, and their daughter. That visit was nearly a year ago. Hmmm, one or both of them was due for a visit, Willow considered, with a small amount of anxiety and guilt snaking through her.
Her Inner Willow indifferently shrugged; she was positive that after a brief search, for appearances sake, those two would just return to their normal routine unaffected by their child’s disappearance. They would go on with their lives, but without the distraction of an inconvenient daughter stashed away somewhere.
A soothing calmness abruptly replaced the anxiety and guilt. Jesse was dead. Most of the people precious to her were currently in the glade, and going with her--She was ready.
“I’m ready.” Willow firmly said, out loud.
“Ah,” Xander knowing nodded. He had known Willow since they were four. The emotions and expressions crossing Willow’s face told him what she was thinking as clearly as if she had babbled it out loud. The last few facial contortions Willow uses only when her parents were the subjects of her thoughts.
Ira and Sheila Rosenberg were worse fools then his drunken parents could ever be, Xander considered and judged. Sure, his parents were drunkards, passed out on either the floor or couch most evenings, but at least they acknowledged his existence, no matter how roughly they treated him. Willow was always left feeling that she was insubstantial—A ghost.
Inwardly, Xander grimaced. Her choice in costume, her Ghost Sheet, was an unfortunate tattletale—Originally, he had been ambiguous about Buffy’s plan to ‘go as you’re not’ night considering how it could have affected Willow. In the end, Buffy’s bizarre idea to dress Willow up as a Marvel comic book character turned out to be the best idea for that night, given Willow’s reluctance to drop her ghost sheet. Xander, thanks to his Halloween transferred alter ego, understood Buffy had dressed Willow as the X-Men’s Shadow Cat to catch his eye and interest.
So, how did HE, Xander, feel about that? About suddenly having his Willow-shaped best friend, showing she was having not-so ‘friends’ feelings for him? Well, Xander could admit to feeling confused, and not a little flustered. When had his yellow crayon Willow grown up enough to, well, have romantic feelings for him? Surely he would have noticed? Or maybe not, Xander winced as his Halloween persona began braying with uncontrollable laughter.
Okay, call him Mr. Oblivious on the girl front . . .However, no denying the choice of costume allowed his Willow to survive that ugly night. If she had gone as she had intended to go . . .Grimly, Xander was certain he would have hunted down that bastard Raynes, and given him the most brutal and painful death he could have conceived of, if Willow had been hurt, or god forbid, killed. Shadow Cat’s Power of Intangibility kept his Willow safe for the few hours Raynes foul Chaos spell was active, before the three of them broke the bust of Janus and ended the spell. At least Willow was compensated with Shadow Cat’s memories AND abilities.
Xander’s darker side howled with glee recalling the idea he came up with in dealing with Mr. Raynes. Between the three of them, they figured out a way of permanently planting Ethan Raynes in that trailer park in Arkansas, and insuring his life was a ball of misery for the rest of his misbegotten life!
Then there was his own turn of circumstances . . .Xander had been planning on going as a Soldier. A common, ordinary, G. I. Joe, using an abandoned set of BDUs one of his relatives dumped in the house. That plan would have gone bye-bye for lack of a toy military gun, since Ethan seemed to be fresh out of them. However, that plan was salvaged only because Xander caught sight of a ‘Zat in the bin. He did have to put up an extra two dollars for General’s stars to pin to his BDUs, beyond the two dollars he had expected to spend—But, hey, change of plan, call him the FOUR Dollar Costume King, baby!
A little block writing with a black marker, and GENERAL Louis Ferretti, former Commander of SG-2, walked out onto Sunnydale’s streets.
For an evening that was straight out bizarre and weird--even for Sunnyhell--Buffy’s last minute, unexpected, switch in costume was the strangest manifestation of Chaos so far witnessed—What were the odds, Xander sardonically demanded, that Buffy would discover Angel’s aversion to eighteenth century noble women at just that particular moment? Or find his missing manga just as she needed an idea for a quick and easy costume? Or for that matter, have a prime accessory for that particular character on her, just as she made that choice in costume?
Louis Ferretti had experienced the meddling of Ascended Beings before, and the whole matter stank of interference from Ascendants, or their local equivalent.
Xander Harris, standing at the border of seventeen, was still young enough to expect people to give him things just because as most children do, but Louis Ferretti was certainly old enough to know that Power was never truly free; he was especially wary and cynical of ‘gifts’ given by Ascended Beings—‘Pandora’, like in ‘Pandora’s Box’ ring any bells? Power, Ferretti had known, always came with a price tag; maybe a not so obvious Cosmic condition, but that rule was always there, hidden away somewhere, ready to ensnare anyone who thought they were being given a fantastic freebie--just because they thought the giver ‘liked them’.
Xander shared his suspicions with his friends. Buffy, not surprisingly, immediately agreed, Willow nodded her head after a moment of consideration. They were being set up for something, but what?
Not to say that was their only concern . . .In his years within, and outside of, SGC, Ferretti had become well and sincerely experienced in spotting NID or Trust operations. While the soldiers he saw at the Sunnydale’s University campus, walking around pretending to be common frat boys, were not part of either of those two infamous organizations, they were part of some kind of black Ops that seemed to mirror those two infamous organizations, the feeling in Xander’s bones told him.
Xander immediately began worrying about his girls. They were both ‘special’, the type of special either NID or The Trust would have tried to ‘acquire’ by any means they had at hand. If Xander had to guess, judging from what his subconscious was telling him, that operation on campus was likely into the same kinds of dirty tricks.
Not the best of news given what they had found out about the Watcher Council. In another corner, was Joyce Summers. Sure, she loved her daughter, and was always willing to tear someone head off for her child’s sake, but what if someone conned her into believing her ‘troubled’ teenager needed extra special help? Help that could only be found in some far off, extra special place, were Buffy Ann Summers could be turned into a normal teenager again? A place that was likely going to be far, far worse then the insane asylum Buffy’s parents had locked her away in: Oh, by-the-way, it was certainly nice of Buffy to clue them in on that priceless bit of her history.
They could try telling Joyce just what was going on, but given her nearly unseen obsession with ‘normal’, that could be just as bad as NOT telling her.
Xander’s thoughts came back full circle—Willow’s parents were a couple of messed up, absentee, neglectful, SOBs, who would sign the poor girl away without too much hesitation, or drama. Not to say he was exempt from that experienced—Given the fact, that he was no longer ‘ordinary guy’; not after Buffy began training them in the ways of the Naruto World ninja. Xander was certain, that with a new wad of cash in his pocket, Tony Harris would gift wrap his only known son, and hand over his kid without so much as a twitch of conscious—Normal, or not.
Buffy’s generous decision to show them how to unlock their Chakra, and the magical ninja’s various tricks with it, had unexpectedly put a big, fat, target sign on his back. From ordinary guy, to genin level shinobi in five months—Huh, not bad, Xander proudly admitted to himself. Xander could have reached that level sooner he was certain, but they all had things to organize, and aside from Buffy, needed the usual amounts of sleep and rest, and whatnot. Time, they all recognize was not on their side.
Each of them could look around, at three hundred and sixty degrees angles, and see enemies closing in at all sides, without a break in sight. Each one of the Scoobies could see they were screwed: They did have a few allies to stand with them--but those that existed were either weak, or cowardly, or prone to treachery. Was that the way their short lives were going to end? Making a desperate last stand against innumerable enemies? Attacked and battered from the shadows by unseen foes in the guises of ‘Higher Powers’?
If the Scoobies had been anyone else, they might have despaired and eventually resigned themselves to that unlucky fate—But they WERE the Scoobies, and they loudly told Fate to take a flying leap . . .
They worked feverishly for months, raiding nests and lairs. Salvaging ancient treasures, stripping enemies out of anything of value—Prior to Halloween, Buffy would have been aghast at ‘stealing’ from the enemy, but the ninja in her coldly pointed out that those resources would have been cycled back to their enemies. She was foolish to allow her enemies to profit and become stronger, when she could use the money to fund her own side—Like they were doing at that point.
They traded gold and artifacts for knowledge, equipment, and supplies. Not at all surprising, some of their fellow Halloween victims retained some helpful memories and abilities, and for a comfortable price, were willing to share them. Gaining a reputation for being fair and generous employers, the Scoobies could count on people coming to them, when they had something the Scoobies needed. A good and bad thing, they all admitted . . .It saved the Scoobies time in not having to scramble and hunt for what they needed. On the other hand, their secret was more or less out in the open—The Slayer and her friends were leaving not just Sunnydale, but their Home dimension as well.
Buffy no longer actively patrolled Sunnydale’s streets—Her plants efficiently covered the entire town, and its borders, with a layer of protection she was incapable of providing by herself. Not that she had time for her old habits. Buffy’s contribution to their Plan had her working long and hard to create protections on not just 1630 Revello Drive, but upon her mother, and the gallery—And doing it all in secret. Protections and defenses for the Hellmouth ran along a slightly different route . . .For one thing, they were nastier, and a lot more lethal, since Buffy could ignore the concern of accidentally catching innocent bystanders within the traps, or the effects of rogue energies upon what they were suppose to protect.
Buffy worked layering the Hellmouth with a hybrid form of Seals and Runes. The Runes, and their uses, came from books on magic; some of the books coming from Giles’ collection, but most were acquired during raids, or bought outright. As for the Seals . . .Hashirama was no Seal master, but he was married to one, and he knew the basics; enough to create a number of useful scrolls and protection seals. That knowledge was something Buffy could use immediately—But there were things in Hashirama’s head that took a little more effort to uncover and use. As Buffy had admitted to the Scoobies, holding and looking through Hashirama’s memories was—odd. The man, for a ninja, had lived a relatively long time. He had collected a wide variety of useful skills, and not all of them consciously. Buffy chalked it up to the Slayer recording every bit of a host’s life, and doing the same with Senju Hashirama. Preserving not only the things he consciously, and deliberately learned, but also the things he merely glanced at for a moment, or was present for, but not paying conscious attention to.
Like his wife, Uzumaki Mito’s lessons to her apprentices. Or her own complex and complicated Seal work.
Senju Hashirama had, over the years, unknowingly collected a fantastic, and varied, treasure trove of Sealing techniques—Not that he could use them, himself, but Hashirama still had them, apparently, unknowingly waiting for someone like Buffy to come alone and exploit them.
Buffy learned quickly from Hashirama’s collection of conscious and unconscious memories. She had incentive—Like Xander, she recognized what those so-called-Frat-boys really were, and just knew conflict between them and the Scoobies was a mere matter of time. Then there was the surprise the Watchers Council was preparing for her on her eighteenth birthday . . .
Two major reasons, in a growing list of reasons, not to stick around Hellhole Central.
Buffy actually consider trying to drag her mother with them, but she knew Joyce would resist, and frankly, escaping from another mental institution, with their time constraints, was not an activity she wanted to engage in. Worse yet, Buffy acknowledged her family problems could end up endangering the Scoobies—Because time really was of the essence. How long before their unseen enemies struck at them, in response to their escape attempt?
No, as hard as doing so was, Buffy had to leave Joyce behind. Giles’ future, potential, betrayal hurt more then Buffy ever showed the Scoobies. Giles had fallen into the spot Hank had willingly vacated, as her father-figure. What made the future betrayal worse was that while Hank had only abandoned her, Giles was going to try to KILL her.
Giles had to stay behind, too.
So, that just left two of her most precious people to stand with her, in Miller’s Woods, five months after Halloween.
“I’m ready, too.” Buffy informed them, firmly. “And you do know we’ve been stalling, for about the past half hour or so, right?”
Xander nodded, with a crooked, closed mouth, half-smile on his face. His eyes had taken to wandering up to stare at the sky, gazing at the few white clouds up there. “Yeah, I know . . .Oooo-kay, I’m ready—But first . . .”
Xander smirked, lowered his head, and glanced over at a group of bushes. “We know you guys are there. So, how about you come on out, and explain yourselves?”
The bushes rustled, and out came an abashed looking Cordelia Chase and her court followers, the Cordettes. Instead of their usual stylish civilian clothing, they were all stylishly, but sensibly, dressed for camping.
With a fully amused grin, Xander glanced at other areas around the edge of the glade. “The rest of you guys too.”
In ones and small groups they came out into the open, out into the glade.
Jonathan Levinson, Tucker and Andrew Wells, Warren Mears, and a few other nerds and geeks, Xander was not surprised about. However, Larry and the entire football team, and a few other jocks—Their presence surprised Xander somewhat, although he did have a good idea why they were all there. Not at all a secret why the Scoobies were in the glade in the first place, Xander ruefully admitted . . .He knew what those people were going to ask, but he had to make certain—There was no going back, after all.
“And the lot of you are here . . .exactly why?”
A recovered Cordelia answered derisively: “You know why, Harris. Since Halloween, a few of us have retained the weirdness—Enough weird future-seeing powers to see, and tell the rest of us, just how bleak our futures are if we stay here. My family losing our money to the IRS—NOT to even mention what happens to me in LA!”
“Or me!” Harmony Kendell piped up indignantly. “I, meaning ME, would like to enjoy my future success on TV, instead of some body snatching leech taking all the credit for all the YEARS worth of work I put into making this body a future TV icon!”
“I learned I die on Graduation Day,” Larry spoke up, his voice rising. “The worse part of that is, that no matter what I do, no matter where I go, I STILL die on Graduation Day! Do you know how mean a trick that is? I had plans . . .Plans for my future, my life! And all of that means nothing! Like everything I’ve ever done, and survived--My entire life!--, was nothing more then a meaningless, futile, waste of crap!” Larry noisily breathed out. “There’s only one way to avoid that, Harris. Only one way . . .And it’s your way.”
“I end up in Hell.” A tall, willowy blond said softly. Xander thought she looked vaguely familiar. He thought she was named after a fabric, or an old fifties song, or something like that.
Warren Mears snorted. “I’ve got one close to that one—I end up literally losing my skin! Courtesy of Darth Willow over there!” He gave Willow an accusatorial glare.
Willow jumped in shock and surprise. “Say what? What?”
Warren nodded in confirmation. “Yeah . . .You turn evil, and skin me alive.”
Willow paled, her green eyes going round, and she began hyperventilating. “N-no! Tha-that’s not me! No--!” She stilled as two different hands landed on her shoulders.
Xander turned a frosty smile on Warren, while keeping his hand on Willow’s shoulder. “Warren, old buddy . . .What EXACTLY did you do to Willow to get that sort of treatment? And no fibbing now.” He warned pass the smile with too many teeth. “I’ll know if you’re lying.”
Warren looked uneasy. He knew Harris had an uncanny ability to cut through bull. But tell the truth? The WHOLE sordid truth? Warren, his heart speeding up, risked a quick glance at the blond next to Willow—HER hand as firmly upon the redhead’s shoulder, as Harris’ hand on the other side; her eyes merciless pits of darkness. He silently cursed—Why did he have to tell them that bit about Darth Willow? Warren considered his options, and decided to tell SOME of the truth, and hope the Scoobies would let it go at that.
“I, um, went crazy.” Warren reluctantly admitted. “And I, um, went on a shooting spree. And, well, a couple of the victims . . .well, one of them was you, Summers. And . . .The other girl, was your lover, Rosenberg.”
“So you shot—Wait. Did you just put ‘girl’ and ‘lover’ together?” Buffy’s scowl disappeared, replaced by open confusion.
Warren nodded. “Yep. Willow Rosenberg is gay. She’s a lesbian.”
“But, but I like Boys!” Willow squeaked. “In fact, I like—“ She glanced at Xander, and blushed.
“Apparently you like both.” Warren said dryly.
Buffy, recovering first, gave a one shoulder shrug. “Meh, like it matters. Let’s get back to why you shot me!” The scowl returned.
Warren did sigh at that point. “Like I said, I went crazy. And I’m here because I don’t want to be that man. I don’t want to go crazy. I don’t want to kill people. And, I DON’T want those awful things to happen to me either.” He added honestly. “This is the only way to save myself, and others as well. You won’t be here to be affected—But others will. I want to avoid that, but I don’t want to die. That’s the only other way—My death—to prevent those people from dying.” Warren’s eyes took on a desperate, haunted look. “Please. Get me out of this place! I don’t want to hurt anyone, but that’s what will happen if I stay here!”
The Scoobies were silent, but they snuck glances at each other before Xander nodded.
Warren closed his eyes in relief. “Thank you.” He breathed out.
“Yeah,” Xander blew out his own breath. “Moving on . . .”
Brown eyes fell on a group, specifically a short teenager sporting blue hair. “Oz, my man! What are you and, not all, but most of the Dingos doing here?” He grinned. Xander genuinely liked the laconic band leader.
“Get turned into a werewolf by my baby cousin.” Oz said calmly. His posture was slightly slumped, casual, his hands in his pockets, while his luggage was piled up at his feet.
“Ah. How did that come about then?” Xander said, confused, trying to understand how a baby could have survive a werewolf attack, get infected, and not get eaten.
Oz nonchalantly shrugged. “Bad blood transfusion when he was born.”
Xander blinked. “Well, there is that option—Okay. If you’re sure, here . . .?”
Oz looked Xander steadily in the eyes, and said one word: “Werewolf.”
Xander nodded. “Okay. Moving on . . .Yo! Dingos! Why are you guys here?”
“Get eaten alive by Harpies!”
“I was being fattened up for a sacrifice! After reaching four hundred and fifty pounds, I couldn’t get through the door and escape that way!”
“I was flattened by a runaway steamroller during a construction accident!” The Dingo sighed and admitted. “I was in the Porta Potty at the time—In fact, every possible future in this Universe, had me dying on the john.”
Xander whistled. He opened his mouth to comment, when he was interrupted by an impatient, and irritate, blond.
“Enough!” Buffy cried out. “You’re stalling again, Xander! Everyone here knows it’s a one-way trip, with no way of knowing where they’ll end up! The only thing we all know is each of us has a CHANCE for a good long life, and happiness! Let’s get started already!”
At the end of her announcement, Buffy used her Slayer strength and speed to push, shove, prod, and carry everyone and everything into place within the glade, saving her Chakra for the main event. With blurred speed, Buffy laid out the necessary circles, seals and runes, activating them with her blood—One by one, the individuals and groups were sucked into brightly glowing blue portals, towards whatever lives and futures were theirs in their new Universes.
Last, were the Scoobies. Their own blue portal, fully formed, tugging and pulling at them, dragging them into itself. Xander looked into the faces of his friends: Willow’s scared, but resolved and excited. Buffy’s excited, and . . .Xander narrowed his eyes. Why did Buffy look shifty?
Abruptly, before he could ask her, Xander was pulled off his feet. He saw Willow follow him in the air, and his world turned blue.
Buffy, the last Scooby left, grinned, flicked out a scroll, smearing blood from her open cut on it, and sent a pulse of Chakra through it. Gold and white light erupted from the scroll, spreading out, far into the sky, and into Miller’s Woods. Reaching the woods borders, then reversing, leaving a deep pit of bare rock behind. As a grinning Buffy was sucked into the open portal, so was Miller’s Woods sucked into the open scroll clutched in the Slayer’s strong hand.
The portal faded out of existence as the last tendril of gold and white light disappeared into it.
Silence, and an expanse of raw, newly exposed rock bed, remained of Miller’s Woods. The silence stretched out for a few minutes, before the crunch of gravel announced a single presence.
A short, stocky, dark haired man, wearing a janitor’s coverall, stood upon the site of the former glade, hands on his hip, surveying the emptiness that used to be hundreds of acres of woods.
“Well, damn!” He barked with a laugh. Gabriel/Loki snapped a salute to the departed Slayer, and disappeared to his own business with a darker chuckle then an angel should have produced.
The trip through the portal was not instantaneous. Xander gave thought to that shifty look on Buffy’s face, Willow was considering her sexuality, and Buffy was wildly cackling over her little joke.
All of those activities ended, when the blue gave way to other colors, and they dropped down to—
A thicket of thorny bushes. X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8X8
Sorry, that’s as far as I managed to get.
Good-bye, for a few months anyway. Thank you for reading this story!