LEGAL A/N: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
and all characters belong to Joss Whedon, Fox, UPN and the WB. The Dead Zone
and all characters belong to Shawn & Michael Piller, Stephen King, Lion's Gate Television and USA Network. No profit is being made off of this and no copyright infringement is intended.NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
Sequel to Real. Post-BTVS S7 "Chosen" and post-DZ S4 "Vanguard"13: Evolution
Stillson sat, bruised and broken, on a chair in his hotel room as the sun was rising that morning. His aides surrounded him as they carefully sewed up his face. Janus stood nearby with his arms crossed and his unhappy face to the floor. A doctor was examining his shattered hand while his other arm rested in a cast.
“I want him to pay!” the senator hissed. “That nutcase almost killed me! I want the police all over it! I want Johnny Smith’s blood—”
“You’re not going to get it,” Janus simply replied.
“What are you talking about!?!” Stillson exclaimed. “Don’t ever tell me what I can’t have—”
“Greed is a sin.”
“Don’t feed me that crap,” Stillson snapped.
“If you go public with this,” Janus answered, “you’ll be even more ruined than he will.”
“What are you talking about?”
“What do you plan to tell the press, Congressman?” Janus asked, staring up at him calmly. “That the TV psychic Johnny Smith was possessed by a vampire god that we were trying to resurrect and left you with those fractures?”
Stillson opened his mouth to answer, but then closed it slowly with nothing to reply.
“Our plans failed,” Janus admitted, “but there are
other ways. Johnny Smith no longer has the power that he once did… and Miss Summers is completely powerless.”
“Powerless?” Stillson repeated. “Well I oughta show her what happens when you mess with Greg—”
“With all due respect, Congressman, she lost them saving your skin,” Janus replied. “You won’t show her anything.” He stared up at him, silenced again as he continued, “She gave up her powers to exorcise John Smith of Utarefson. It was the Sacrifice of Love. If she had not done it, we’d all be dead right now.”
“So why does this matter to me?” Stillson snapped, frustrated.
“She can’t do any good to Johnny Smith now,” Janus explained. “The world is your oyster… because the greatest Slayer it has ever known is gone.”
A cold, Northeastern wind blew through the air, pushing the scent of the not-so-distant Atlantic into Buffy’s nose. She sat on the passenger’s side of the vehicle, watching the trees go by with a peaceful expression as she sat in silent contemplation.
The car came to a stop as she looked up at a large, beautiful, two-story house with a lustrous rose garden and grey cobblestone walls.
“We’re here,” Johnny announced with a smile, looking over at her. She turned to him with a half-smile.
“Nice place,” she declared.
“Thanks,” he smiled. “Let’s try not to break it.”
She gave him a shocked look. “Are you implying that I’m a destructive person?” she teased.
“Oh, no,” he shook his head. “I mean… you left Sunnydale practically spotless, didn’t you?”
They stepped out of the car as Johnny moved to the rear of the Jeep, opening the trunk. Buffy closed the passenger side door and wandered idly down the driveway leading to the front door, staring up at the house. She paused halfway, staring up at the enormous blue sky above her as peaceful winter clouds rolled over her, carrying promise of a coming snow in the not so distant future.
She closed her eyes as the sun shined down on her face, the cuts and bruises still visible just a few days after her the traumatic events in New York. The wounds would soon become scars and the bruises would eventually vanish, but not as soon as they would if she still had her Slayer powers. It was something she had come to terms with.
A cool wind blew passed her as she stared up at the endless sky. She felt a shiver in the depth of her body.
“Cold?” she heard from behind her. She turned to see Johnny standing beside her looking upwards with her suitcases in hand.
She wrapped her arms around her white sweater and the beige suede jacket over it. “I’m fine,” she smiled in reply. “Thank you.” She turned back towards the sky, but it wasn’t enough to hide her emotions.
“Is everything all right?” he asked. Buffy turned towards him and realized that there was no point in hiding from him. She didn’t really want to anyway.
“You know, I used to think that I would be happy to lose my powers,” Buffy stated as she looked up at him. “And then I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk in the world if I was helpless.” She looked out towards the rose garden, the smell of flowers filling her senses.
“There are a lot of words to describe you, Buffy,” Johnny replied, turning to her, “but ‘helpless’ definitely isn’t one of them.”
Buffy smiled a bit as she considered his words. “I believe you. And now I’ve got to realize that… that it’s just not my turn to play hero anymore.” She faced them with a thoughtful nod. “I’m Buffy the Sidekick. And that’s okay.”
Johnny smiled, shaking his head a bit. “No one in their right mind would ever let you be the sidekick.” His blue eyes settled on her face as she smiled at him warmly, gazing up at his face.
“Remember who you’re talking to?” Johnny answered. “I know.” She smiled and turned away as she looked back out at the Smith property. “So tell me one thing,” he asked. Buffy looked back at him as he continued, “How does it feel to be normal? Peaceful? Scary?”
“Exciting,” she answered, drawing a stunned look from him.
“I may be psychic,” Johnny replied, “but I’ve got a funny feeling you’re still gonna surprise me.”
“You should try to keep up,” Buffy answered as she picked up her own heavy suitcase and turned towards the front door. “Shall we?”
Johnny grabbed the other suitcase as the two of them made their way up the driveway to their front door. “Well,” he sighed. “I guess I had fun being Slayer as long as it lasted.”
“It was pretty wild playing Nostradamus myself,” she answered. “Except for the terrifying, skull-splitting visions. Speaking of which – how can we be sure that everything’s gone back to normal?”
“The old fashioned way, I guess,” Johnny replied, as they neared the awning. “Wait.” They came to the front door as both of them put down their suitcases as Johnny retrieved his keys.
She grabbed his arm and gave him pause, looking up at him gratefully. “Thanks for letting me stay a while to recoup.”
Johnny stared at her motionlessly. He made the mistake again. He looked into her eyes. “Uh,” he replied, snapping back out of it. “No problem.” He smiled with a small laugh. “Really. Rome’s kind of far anyway.”
“Yeah,” Buffy nodded, her face sparkling with smiles. “And there’s that whole ‘wanted-for-escaping-a-mental-institution’ thing that’s kinda following me around.”
“So we should take our time,” Johnny suggested slowly, grinning at her warmly.
She stared up at him in silence with a growing smile. “Yeah. We should.” He opened the door and moved out the way letting her in first. Buffy walked through the threshold and was greeting by the grand oak settings of the foyer. She turned back to Johnny, “You know—”
A snapping sound rang out as Johnny’s hand shot up in the air, snatching an object as it came speeding towards Buffy’s head. Buffy whipped around to view the object in his hand. Johnny looked over at his closed palm, not even having seen the object fully before he grabbed it on reflex. His fingers were tightly wrapped around a long, sharp arrow.
Buffy’s eyes moved up from the arrow pointed at her face to the mounted crossbow on the wall, getting yet another strange feeling of déjà vu. Instantly, the gravity of the situation occurred to her fully. She looked over at Johnny with astonishment.
Johnny stared down at the arrow in his hand, bewildered himself. His eyes widened a bit as he gazed at the arrow, counting the speed and agility at which he pulled the arrow out of the air. He had not seen a vision since that morning when he filled the Jeep up with gas. He had not seen it coming at all.
Distant thunder rumbled in the sky overhead – the low, baritone sound finding them as they stood motionlessly in Johnny’s foyer.
“Close the door,” Buffy warily said after swallowing hard. “There’s a storm coming.”
His fingers tightened around the arrow as Johnny nodded knowingly. “I’ll protect you.”
Thanks for reading my story! Please review and let me know what you thought!
The sequel to this story, Doomsday, is coming soon.