Many thanks to Joss Whedon, Jet Li, and the wonderful folks who crafted that masterpiece of cognitive stimulation: The One.
I neither claim any part of these works, nor do I gain anything from my borrowing of them.
“Buffy, you are the Slayer.”
Rupert Giles sat in his apartment, sipping a fresh cup of tea, as he thought back to the day he started the biggest con-job of his life. Convincing a young woman, one without an ounce of the mystical in her, that she was the Chosen One, the saviour of all Mankind…well, this month anyway.
Her powers had been steadily growing, rapidly outstripping the powers invested in the True Slayer, Faith Morgan.
Next week, the Watchers Council would be arriving to administer the Cruciamentum. Giles was well aware of the fact that it was very unlikely it could affect her, as she did not share in the Slayer Essence, the ritual to strip her power for a day would do bugger all to her…except maybe piss her off.
He would have to try again to convince Travers that Buffy was not to be tested. It was getting less and less likely that Giles’ deception would last much longer. A shame, it had been fun while it lasted.
Now if only he could determine what the true source of Buffy Summers’ power was…
Several realities away, a mystically oriented Buffy, one who had learned all her lessons well and thoroughly, was enraged. After years of loyal service, the Watchers Council had turned on her…the Cruciamentum. The ritual had failed to affect her, and the Council had tried to kill her.
Drawing from some unknown well of power, she turned on the Watcher’s, slaying them to a man. Only to have her dearest friend, Xander, place a gun to the back of her head and blow her brains across the library. A Slayer could not turn on humankind, it was too great a risk. Xander cried for his lost friend one last time, before joining his friend in oblivion.
To the majority of Buffy’s, it was as if the Cruciamentum had succeeded. The small, but noticeable, increase in power was seen to be a side effect of the completed ceremony; and cemented in the minds of the many Buffy’s that they were in fact Slayers.
The Master, having taken his fill of the Slayer, dropped her into a pool of water.
She lay there, drowning, dying.
Until Xander dragged her body from the muck and breathed new life into her.
She rose up, renewed, energised, stronger than she had ever been. The Master had some payback coming to him, and she was planning to deliver it personally.
In a multitude of parallel realities, Xander never made it there in time. In a multitude of realities, Buffy Summers died.
There is a finite and fixed amount of power, of soul, shared between alternate selves. When one dies, their share is divided among the survivors. When thousands die, simultaneously, the surge of power is pronounced. As had happened in her mid-teens, she was the recipient of a huge amount of soul, of power. Her strength, speed, resilience, her ability to heal injuries, and the knowledge possessed by her alternates was split among a rapidly dwindling number of alternate selves.
Buffy Summers was a rapidly diminishing quantity.
Buffy hugged her sister, crafted from her own flesh and blood, a counterfeit, but her sister nonetheless, and leapt; a perfect swan dive into the heart of the ravaging portal. She cried out in pain a final time, before her body fell through it, crashing to the ground with a solid thump.
Her friends clustered around her body.
Spike looked at the young blonde he had fallen for, drawing in her scent one last time…it wasn’t her scent…
Xander reached down to shut her eyes a final time, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear, he noticed something…moving her hair to reveal her neck…a tattoo…but Buffy didn’t have a tattoo…
The entire group was gathered close now.
Giles checked her wallet. Elizabeth Anne Summers.
This wasn’t their Buffy.
Their Buffy had fallen through the portal, and this one had replaced her.
They looked at each other, sadness and hope in their eyes.
In a number of nearby realities, Glorificus killed Buffy. Slaughtering her in the initial confrontation, killing her in her own house, or cornering her with her friends.
By the time of the final showdown, there were precious few Buffy’s remaining. It is little wonder she was able to wield the Troll God’s Hammer. That she was able to finally best Glory.
The summoning spell cast by the Scoobies had the effect they had desired…well mostly.
Buffy returned to them. But it was a Buffy they barely recognised.
Tossed from one reality where she had died, failed, to the next; she was a shell-shocked shadow of her former self. Having been confronted with the price of her own failure in reality after reality, she had all but withdrawn into herself.
The incident with Sweet began the slow climb out of depression. It had coincided with another jump in power. She knew that another of herself, in some other reality, had died. Sweet was the cause, but she could not bring herself to attack him. He was just the messenger.
Willow’s abuse of the magic, Tara’s death, and her own near death from Warren’s enchanted pistol, with yet another attendant jump in power, finally broke the depression.
As she ran from the Vineyard, she wondered at the weapon she held. According to what she had been told, the weapon was the greatest tool of the Slayer Line…but was little more than a fancy axe in her hands.
Handing it to Faith, the difference was startling. Faith was almost able to keep up with her suddenly.
The final battle had arrived. The First had taunted her with the truth she had long denied.
A truth she would carry with her till the grave.
During the final battle, down on the very entrance to the Hellmouth, she was brought face-to-face with something she hadn’t dared consider.
A dark and savage avatar of herself, one twisted by ambition and lust for power.
While the Potential Slayers, the Scoobies, and Faith had fought the Turok-han; she had faced her mirror-self.
Was shocked to learn that they, the two of them, were the last. After that fight there would be only one.
A very Highlander moment.
Her evil counterpart didn’t appreciate the humour, and in the end, it counted…for her double lost her temper, getting sloppy…and died.
That is what they call it. At least according to Whistler they do.
Spike had allowed her to ground the excess power, the power that would have torn her body asunder, leaving her an energy form…forcing an ascent to a higher plane. The energy had bled off through him, destroying the remaining Turok-han, and closing the Hellmouth.
She fled, joining her sister and friends on the last bus out of Sunnydale, before it sank into what would soon become Lake Sunnydale.
The bus had stopped beside the edge of the new crater, and Giles was talking to her. Telling her the truth, telling her what he had done years before.
All the pain. All the heartache. All the grief and loss.
All his fault.
She turned from him, asking him only one question…
“Was it worth it?”
He looked sadly at her, “The world is still here.”
She nodded and walked away…
…perhaps it was time for a new story…
…there were so many other realities that were in desperate need of a Buffy…