The last laugh
The last laugh
The young woman sat in a stiff poise, some times casting forlorn glances at Sun-nydale. Even from the distance at which she sat, the signs of the explosion could be seen…
Several hours ago…
Rupert Giles was a relaxed man, even a happy one. To think that the mayor of Sunnydale was actually vanquished by his Slayer and her friends!.. A true, pure-bred demon vanquished by a bunch of mere mortals!.. Truly, a greater thing had never been accomplished by the Council [in this century]!
Still, the small rational part of his brain said, there was a bit of vinegar in all that honey. Faith, the rogue Slayer. It wasn’t that her betrayal was such a ghastly thing; it was that she had died.
Yes, died. For in their last battle, Buffy had stabbed Faith with Faith’s own knife, and the rogue Slayer had fallen off the roof and during that process died.
The mayor, of course, was livid, and had promised Giles and others a Hell on Earth when he had ascended; but that was not to be, for it was he now who was in Hell, while they had triumphed.
At that point the phone rang. “Yes?” he spoke into the receiver, unable to keep the notes of gladness out of his voice. Several moments later his face abruptly fell. It seemed that Faith and the mayor may yet have their last laugh.
“…I’m telling you Giles, I’m not crazy!” Buffy Summers told her Watcher about half an hour later, wildly gesticulating. “I go to bed, and I see Faith smirking right at me and asking if I missed her; I instinctively yell and mom gets over; the light comes on, no Faith. Mom leaves, turns-off the lights – she’s back! She’s a ghost, Giles, a ghost!”
“Buffy, relax,” Giles said calmly, quite artfully disguising his own concerns: a rest-less ghost could do quite a bit of damage, as the 18th century’s incident of Golgona had proven. “I know what to do in this case.”
“You do? Really?” Buffy perked-up. “Can you do it before Faith drives nuts? ‘Cause her haunting me is so not cool – I mean, do you know how hard it is to have a conversation when-”
“Buffy, relax,” Giles spoke with sudden weariness. “I have dealt once with a rest-less spirit, and I can get rid of her – right now, if you wish.”
“Then what are you waiting for? My personal permission? Then you have it, now do it!”
Giles winced, rubbed his ears, and then began to set-up the stage for a de-haunting ritual.
“So how will it work, Giles?” Buffy said with some nervousness, as she looked at the odd hexagonal geometric figure in the middle of which she was sitting. There were also burning candles at the conjunction points – and their color, and the color of the flames, and the coloring of the candle-sticks – it was all shimmering and discerning.
“The goal of this ritual is to sever the bonds between you and Faith’s ghost – she is haunting you, right?”
“Oh yeah, she’s definitely haunting me… and will you stop making those faces?!. Sorry, Giles, that was for her.”
“Oh, right. Now then, I’ll begin the ritual.”
And Giles began. He chanted words strange and unknown to most people of the late 20th century; he chanted them in a vocal tone that would scare the Hell out of most of such people; the sounds of a desert wind filled his living room – and yet the sextet of candles didn’t twitch, their flames actually grew brighter and brighter.
Finally, Giles reached the end of his chant, completely unnoticing that the streets of Sunnydale grew dimmer and dimmer and an uneasy, unnatural haze fell over the town. Instead, the ex-Watcher yelled-out the final words and did the concluding foot-stomp of the ritual.
The next moment some god apparently took a copper mountain, and slammed it into an empty cauldron the size of an average sea, and slammed it not once, but a thousand times.
Needless to say, that Buffy had lost all her consciousness at that moment.
“Hey, B! Quite staring at one spot already!”
“Hah? Faith? Where are you?”
“I’m in your head, stupid!”
Buffy made an odd half-groaning half-gasping sound and tried to faint. For some reason, though, she was unable to do that.
“Oh no you won’t, B!” Faith’s voice unceremoniously resonated in her head. “I never thought that I’d say that, but I can’t pilot this body on my own after all.”
“Pilot this body? But…” Buffy said absentmindedly, examining her lower body. Something seemed to be off there, and then she remembered.
She remembered flying through the air and skidding on the ground.
She remembered grabbing some young man and feel how her own wounds, breaks and concussions vanish like waxen candles in a burning fireplace while the man just withered away.
She remembered fleeing from Sunnydale – just before she fell into darkness…
“B? You okay?”
“No! What has happened to me?”
“To us, you mean. Look, it’s the big boss’s dagger, okay? You killed me with it, and as a result, my soul got permanently bound to yours. And when that spell of G-man’s went haywire, why-“
“Wait a second. Giles’s spell went haywire?”
“Yeah. It was apparently set to severe something in the Ethereal plane, but since there was nothing in the Ethereal plane for him to severe and since this was the Hellmouth, the whole thing went crazy, and we went flying in the different direc-tions. By “we” I mean that you and I went one way and G-man the other. Oh, and by “went” I mean got thrown by the blast wave.”
“Wait, wait. So you aren’t a ghost?”
“Hmm? No, B, I’m not a ghost, or at least not anymore. You and I are now room-ies!”
“We have one body for two, that’s what!”
“No, no, you’re just a disembodied personality-“
“-that brought you to life and got us out of this town.”
“What’s wrong with it? Besides the obvious-“Buffy drawled away. “What is hap-pening to it?”
“G-man’s spell. I’m guessing that the term “misfire” doesn’t begin to cover what has happened, but still-“
“Enough!” Buffy yelled. “Faith, I don’t know what is happening, but we must go-“
“Don’t know? Girl, when you put two Slayers together in one body you get a dou-ble-slayer, that’s what! We’re like a super-slayer, or something!”
“Uh, Faith, you are confused or something, but-“
“But nothing, B. Now we are stuck this way forever. The spell is set.”
Again, the blonde Slayer tried to faint, and again she was literally unable to.
“So B,” Faith said, and was there something else lurking behind the bravado in her voice, “who do you think is going to be the Slayer now that I am officially dead?”
…If anybody at that point was awake and coherent and sentient and going or at least looking in the right direction, they’d be surprised at seeing a blonde, athletic-looking girl hysterically laughing at the moon. But there were none – they were all busy, busy fleeing for their lives, as the misfired spell of Giles slowly warped the already rather warped town of Sunnydale into something else…