Disclaimer: I do not own any characters relating to either Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Stargate SG-1. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only and does not provide any financial compensation.Far Beyond NormalChapter Five
Instinct drove her; there was no sign of intelligence in her mad eyes. Naked, body covered in sweat-streaked dirt, hair tangled into a knotted rat nest, she was recognizably female but nothing close to human. Skin burnt and peeling under an unrelenting sun, lips white and cracked from dehydration. Her body was covered in a thin layer of mud, not enough to conceal prominent ribs and a horrible gauntness which was on the wrong side of the divide between malnutrition and starvation. But it was the eyes that betrayed her true state; mad, raging eyes, feral in their depthless fury.
Every so often, when the sweat built up enough, the girl’s nose would twitch as if she smelled something unpleasant, and she would drop to the ground and roll in the dusty, parched soil. Then she would jump back to her feet, awkwardly running in random directions under the blistering sun, building up a sweat, the process repeated endlessly. There was no indication of how long she had been doing it, save the terrible sunburn, but she hadn’t stopped since her feral senses had last detected another human in the distance many hours earlier.
Whenever she had sensed someone, she had hidden from them. Hidden well. The best sensors modern science could build hadn’t been able to find her. And they were looking real hard.
Anyone who might have found her, and analyzed the sweat-caked mud that flaked off whenever she rolled in the dirt, would have been amazed at the variety and concentration of chemicals in the mud. The girl was trying to drive the toxins out of her blood the only way she could: by adrenaline and sweat. The fact that she had been able to do this, or even to move at all, would had astounded anyone who recognized even a few of the many biotoxins in her sweat mixed in with the dirt. They would not, however, have been surprised that she had been driven insane by the cocktail.
Night fell before she stopped rolling in the dirt every few minutes. At first there was no indication as to whether it was simple exhaustion which made her pause, or some other reason. Only an occasional gesture, a quick glance, indicated the gradual, slow return of intelligence to light brown eyes flecked with the slightest tinge of green. Eyes which never lost their rage. Or their fear.
When she somehow heard the muted thumping of a distant helicopter the girl ran for cover, hugging a dry cliff, remaining hidden in the shadow of the natural barrier. Only when even her extraordinarily sensitive senses could no longer detect it did the girl resume walking, apparently no longer having the energy to run. In fact, she was barely able to walk. Remaining upright through grit and determination, her motion was noticeably deliberate, her direction no longer random. It was not immediately apparent what criteria she had used to determine the direction she had chosen since there was nothing in any direction which might indicate either civilization or water. But her senses were obviously incredibly acute, and she had a definite target in mind.
Sanity occasionally showed in the depths of eyes that even given her sorry physical state were startlingly beautiful. Eyes which didn’t tear up only because her body had no water to waste. But at times an expression of horrific sadness could be seen in those eyes, before the drugs took over, sanity disappeared, and only rage remained. Those moments of lucidity started to increase however as the night got longer and the temperature dropped. Sweat could no longer be produced, adrenaline had long since worn off; but time continued to pass, and the drugs couldn’t last forever.
Perhaps the girl –and she definitely was a girl, if one horribly disfigured by violence and starvation and a sunburn from hell—perhaps she had reason to regret her return to lucidity. At first it was apparent that she was too feral to remember anything, not even her name or how to speak it. But time passed, sanity slowly began to return, and with it memories which she obviously found extremely difficult to bear. Memories of such horror that as the drugs faded, she seemed to regret the loss of the numbing insanity they had once provided.
Her mind was filled with visions of horror, made even worse somehow by the deliberateness of it, the scientific detachment of those inflicting the most obscene tortures upon her. Memories of being restrained inside a metal room, distorted noise blaring from hidden speakers at such volume that her ears bled, interrupted by a voice screaming for her to ‘Obey
!’ Being drowned in ice water; scalded by boiling water; whipped and beaten; constantly drugged and chained and the never ending, endlessly repeated, demand that she ‘Obey
.’ Who she would obey was never stated. The slightest attempt at disobedience to anyone was simply cause for even more punishment. Obedience to everything
, to anyone
, under any and all circumstances; this was the demand.
How long she had undergone the ordeal she had no idea. It might have been years, an eternity in Hell, or only days, but she couldn’t remember either way. Just the drugs and the pain and the beatings and the incessant demand that she ‘obey.’ And the one mistake, caused by the arrogance of her jailers, that she had exploited. She was only then finally able to truly disobey by escaping. Not without problems, however. She remembered fighting, dimly remembered lashing out with strength she seemed to recall she had been forbidden to use against humans, but that had not been a time for obedience to the rules. It had been a time to do whatever it took to escape, to survive. To finally dis
Suddenly, without any preparation, more of her memory came back. Her name. She tried it out. “I am Buffy Summers.” The sounds came out horribly distorted, her mouth dry, her larynx physically damaged from days or perhaps weeks of agonized screaming. Her walk slowed, exhaustion overwhelming the enormous energy reserves of a Slayer. She was barely able to find a concealed depression in the rock face and crawl into it before she fell unconscious.
When she awoke, the intense heat of day was back in full force. But her mind was clear for the first time since her capture, and Buffy welcomed the heat. She was chilled by the memories of unimaginable horror. Torture, carried out by agents of her own governments. Torture, abetted by the betrayal of her own father.
There was no question in her mind that Hank had called them in. Somewhere in the patchy horrors of her memory was a statement to that effect by one of the torturers, who told her that she had nowhere to turn, no one to protect her, that even her family had betrayed her, that all she could do was submit herself to their will. To obey
The sense of betrayal was crushing. The knowledge that she should have expected it –that she really was
expecting something like it—no comfort. But she also remembered the look on her mothers face, and knew that despite what they had claimed, it wasn’t her family
who had turned on her, but the spoiled, whiny, self-centered bastard her father had once again proven himself to be. He wasn’t worth her tears. He wasn’t worth her regret. She refused to give him the satisfaction of even that much emotion. To her, he was dead. The way she had been to him back in Sunnydale.
She took stock of her situation. A quick glance around confirmed what the extreme temperature already suggested: she was in the middle of a desert. There was no sign of water in any direction, just rock and dust and dirt. Which was a problem, because she was already dehydrated to the point where it was not just an annoyance but was genuinely life-threatening. If there was a good side, it was that the water issue was so overwhelming that it pushed aside such trivial issues as her state of undress, state of emancipation, of starvation, of despair, of loss.
A quick glance towards the sun indicated that it was high enough in the sky for it to be some time until sunset, far enough west that it was more likely afternoon than morning. Considering her options, and her internal resources, Buffy decided not to start off immediately. She would rest until the heat of day passed, using what shade she had available to conserve what little moisture she had left. With the decision made she lay back down, and despite the heat, the despair, the overwhelming sense of betrayal, her exhausted body gratefully succumbed to the oblivion of asleep within minutes.
It was only after walking for at least four hours once night fell that she heard something. Not a helicopter or jeep, which would have forced her to hide until it went away, but the distinct sound of a motorbike, a big one, not the kind of trail bike her pursuers might use for off-road travel. There had been indications of a road in this direction, which was why she chose it, but no lights, no artificial structures as far as the eye could see. Several times she had noted metal stakes protruding from distant hills, and a dim memory of sophisticated detection instruments, of motion- and heat-sensors, had her working her way carefully around them. Only a Slayer could have done it, but she wasn’t certain if a Slayer as close to the ragged edge of exhaustion as her had succeeded, until long, tense minutes passed with no sign of helicopters being sent to investigate.
There was no way to tell how far she had come from the compound where she had been held. Her memory of the time spent there, and much of her escape, was buried either by psychic trauma or drug-induced amnesia, so she had no way of knowing just how long she had been running. But hours had now passed without seeing any of the sensor poles, the motorcycle engine was the first human-related sound she had detected since passing whatever boundary marked the torturers turf, and she was too close to exhaustion to wait for another, perhaps better, option.
It took another hour of following the sound that the motorcycle had made before she found it. The bike was parked beside a concealed sports car. Her eyes could detect a heat signature from the engine of the big bike, but the car was cold, obviously parked for some time. Normally her night vision was good enough to have scanned the area from a distance, but malnutrition and exhaustion meant that she was barely able to make out the tiny wooden shack, apparently decades old, hidden by a wall of sand and tough, sharply-needled bushes. No light came from the shed, but she could hear someone inside, muttering indistinctly.
A careful survey of the surrounding area didn’t locate another person, despite the two vehicles, so it was possible there was only one man –the mumbled voice was male—but it was likely there were other people in the shed. Either way she figured that was where the water was likely to be, and after the events she had just been through Buffy had no intentions of just knocking and begging for a glass. She was tired of being the victim, or being pushed by events beyond her control. She wasn’t going to go Faith, but she wasn’t going to be asking for permission either. After careful preparation, bringing forth what little reserves of strength she had remaining, Buffy silently crept up on the structure, lifted her foot, and kicked the ancient wooden-plank door in.
An internal hook on the door directed the wreckage mostly to the left, so Buffy entered to the right, surprising the large person who she assumed to be the biker while he was still lying down. It was fortunate she hadn’t knocked; he had a gun, and was preparing to shoot at the silhouette outlined in the doorway when she moved with Slayer speed and kicked out. The shack was so small her foot was able to reach the bed. His aim thrown off by the impact, the gun went off, the light of it enough for Buffy to see the rest of the cabin, to assess any other threats, to quickly move to the bed, fists flying to knock away the gun with one hand and knock the man unconscious with the other. Once she verified he was out, and likely to remain so, she ignored the hostage tied up in the corner, eyes wide and terrified when illuminated during the sudden gunshot, and instead reached for the water.
It was the best tasting water she had ever drunk. Warm, metallic, tasting of oil and dirt, it was still ambrosia, better than Perrier from a bottle. She ignored the muffled noises coming from the gagged hostage –kidnap victim?—and searched for more water when she drank the first canteen dry. There was a five gallon plastic bladder in the corner. She grabbed it, hauled it outside, and after drinking her fill, used some more to wash the accumulated grime from her hair and body. In the chill of the night the impromptu bath was beyond invigorating; it was energizing, awakening her to full consciousness, only then realizing how close she had been to losing her fight to exhaustion, dehydration, and exposure.
Once sort of clean-ish, she made her way to the bike. It wasn’t a Harley, but still a big, powerful machine. The car was even more so; fancy, Japanese, the kind a rich kid would drive. Once she pulled aside the concealing tarp, she could see a good set of luggage in the tiny back seat. Opening one of the suitcases, she put on one of the pressed shirts packed neatly inside. It was small enough to fit the hostage in the shack, but would have been big on her even before she grew so emaciated. Finding a pair of pants, she tore off about a foot of their length at the ends, and found a belt that would keep them up. The holes in the belt didn’t go far enough to clinch around her sunken waist; she was forced to simply tie the belt in a knot.
Clothed and feeling about a billion times better after drinking enough water to float a battleship, Buffy returned to the shed to assess the situation. The hostage was a young man, in his late teens or very early 20’s she estimated, looking frantic and terrified as he tried to see her in the darkness. He was tied to a metal frame, secured by rope; gagged, snot coming from his nose, streaks from tears marking tracks through the dust on his face. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that he wasn’t the bad guy here. New, tougher attitude or not, it just wasn’t in Buffy to leave a victim behind. After a quick glance around the hut, she went over to the hostage and untied him from the metal frame, but didn’t untie his hands or feet.
Ignoring his confused, desperate mumblings, she effortlessly picked him up and carried him to the car. He wasn’t able to stand as she opened the passenger door, securely-bound feet having lost circulation, but she held him up by one hand, opened the door, picked him up again and tossed him in. After closing the door she went over to the motorcycle and crushed a few parts that looked important. Then she went back to the shack, verified that the biker was still unconscious, and grabbed the bag of beef jerky she had noticed earlier, took the wallet lying on a nearby shelf, and searched for anything he might use to call for rescue. When she found the cell phone and his keys, she pocketed the latter and crushed the former. Without a backwards glance she retuned to the sports car, got in, and tried four keys before it turned over.
The dirt trail she drove on was more suited to an off-road vehicle, especially driving at night, without lights. But Buffy didn’t want anyone following her. She was well aware that the heat of the engine would be just as noticeable to thermal sensors as headlights would be, but figured anyone coming after her would need their lights more than she did, so she would have the advantage. But nobody followed, and 20 minutes later they came to a paved road. Buffy assumed that driving without lights on such a road would be far more notable than using them so turned them on before hitting the gas. Only then did she turn to look at her passenger, who was staring at her with a bemused expression. “I’ll take off the gag, but I warn you, if you become a problem I’ll knock you out.”
The young man kept glancing to her face, then back to the speedometer, and Buffy finally figured out he was a bit leery about her removing his gag when she had the car traveling at 140 miles per hour. Even for her that was a bit fast, but the road was straight and empty, and she had every reason to want to get as far away from where she was as quickly as she could. Using one hand, she reached behind his head and loosened the knot securing the cloth gag. He spent a few moments twisting his mouth, trying to return circulation, while Buffy released the knots holding his arms behind his back as well. He couldn’t hold back a groan as his hands were finally untied, blood painfully returning to his fingers, and Buffy gestured towards the back seat. “There’s water back there.”
He grabbed a travel mug from the console between the seats, turned around and used the spigot to fill the mug. Buffy kept an eye on him, not thinking he’d be crazy enough to hit her while they were traveling at such a high speed, but taking no chances. She noticed how carefully he moved however, how he quickly crouched by the door as far from her as he could get. It took him a few minutes to work up the courage to speak. “Who are you?”
She simply shrugged. “Does it matter? Who are you?”
“Mark Kessleton.” The way he said the name, he expected to be recognized, but Buffy had never heard of him. Her reaction made that clear.
“I take it you’re Somebody Important?”
Although her ignorance surprised him, it was apparently not something which gave offence, as he seemed to relax a bit. “My dad is Someone Important. Me, I’m just me.”
His reaction in turn surprised her. She had expected he would be whiny about it, feeling offended and put upon, but his tone was more accepting, perhaps would have even been a bit amused under different circumstances. She looked over at him, examining him a bit more closely now that the situation wasn’t so fluid. He wasn’t a bad looking guy, but more nerdy than she liked, a bit pudgy too. But his face was honest and intelligent looking. Obviously a rich kid, but he didn’t seem the type she remembered from college frat parties, expecting the world on a platter, and sulking when he didn’t get it.
Her first impression was more favorable than his, and a quick glance in the rear view mirror showed why. She looked horrible
; emaciated, burnt to a crisp, world-weary and borderline-crazy. Maybe even over the border. Her eye color had always varied from hazel to green, but was now mostly brown, as was her hair, which was usually a lighter blonde. Part of the Slayer package included such built-in camouflage, and the sheer ‘brown-ness’ of her look was a pretty good indication that the Slayer was trying to blend in, trying to hide. It hadn’t worked out too well.
“How can you do that?” She glanced over at him, noticing that he had been watching her examine herself. “How can you drive this fast and look in the mirror? How could you see so well in the dark? I don’t mean to be insulting but you look like you just escaped from a concentration camp, yet you lifted me like I weighted nothing. And you took out that guy with one punch! I know how strong he was… someone your size shouldn’t have even been able to bruise him, let alone knock him unconscious with a single punch.”
Buffy didn’t intend to explain, so ignored the questions. “You got any idea where we are?”
He didn’t appear to be overly surprised that she didn’t answer. Unfortunately she got the impression that he normally answered his own questions, using his intellect to reach his own conclusions. The Willow type. She had learned that smart nerds could be dangerous. “I figure we’re about 200 miles north east of Las Vegas.”
It wasn’t much of a surprise. The area had looked sort of like Death Valley. And there were a lot of secret military areas between Las Vegas and Reno, in country nobody else really wanted. “How long were you held?”
“He got me the day before yesterday. He was at the side of the road and flagged me down. In this country a broken down car can be a death sentence. Before I knew what was happening I was tied up and hauled away like the Christmas turkey.”
Which was why Buffy had always told Dawn not to stop for strangers, but instead use her cell and call the police to report it. Or at least she would have, had she lived long enough to teach her sister how to drive. “Was he working alone?”
“No. I didn’t see the other guy when I pulled over, and never got a good look at him, but he drove the bike while the guy you knocked out drove me in my car. He got a few calls while I was there, and left a couple of times with my watch and other identifiable items. Not sure how many of them were in on it; but there was definitely at least two.”
She shrugged. “More, if they knew who you were, what you were driving, which road you were taking, and when you’d be taking it.”
That got her a closer look, obviously reassessing her intelligence. “Yeah. I thought about that too.” He didn’t add anything more, and Buffy didn’t ask.
They drove in silence for awhile, the car handling the steady 140 mph speed without a complaint, but Buffy slowed to a relatively sedate 90 once she saw the lights of the city in the distance, not wanting to be pulled aside by the police she figured would already be on the alert for her. She realized that driving the expensive toy of a kidnap victim was probably not the most inconspicuous way to enter a city when you were trying to be unobtrusive. But it was Las Vegas, a city that had more than its fair share of fancy cars, and her options were pretty thin. She had scarfed back about a pound of beef jerky and downed maybe half a gallon of water, but she was still hungry, only now she also had to pee. And take a real shower. And get a real night’s sleep.
And figure out what the hell she was going to do.
The earliest light of false dawn was visible by the time they reached the outskirts of the city. Figuring she would be wise to remain as far as possible from downtown, or areas where the police might congregate, she deliberately drove off the main roads, looking for an older neighborhood, finally locating a motel that was long past its prime. Without giving the slightest warning she suddenly lashed out with her fist, knocking her unsuspecting passenger unconscious. After verifying that she hadn’t killed him, she parked, woke the proprietor, and used her ditzy-blonde act to get a room for the day despite not having any id, explaining that she and her boyfriend were getting married so she figured her old id’s weren’t any good since she’d be changing her name and everything soon anyway. Paying for the room with cash from the biker’s wallet, she hauled the boy from the car into their room, tying him up securely before driving away.
Figuring that the car was just too noticeable she drove around until she found a parking lot, paying the machine from the coins she had received in change when paying for the room. After that she walked back to the motel, stopping at several stores along the way to buy food and clothing. That didn’t leave much of the biker’s cash, so she had to ponder how she was going to get some additional funds as she made her way back to their room. Mark was awake, glaring at her furiously when she opened the door. Giving him an apologetic shrug and a sad smile, she left him bound and gagged as she took the shower she so desperately needed.
When she returned, wearing only a towel, his eyes almost bugged out of his skull at the difference. Nearly a full bottle of conditioner had done wonders for her hair; she was sufficiently hydrated that although she was still far too skinny, it was almost fashionably anorexic rather than concentration-camp starved. Her eyes looked huge, and the sunburned skin had been scrubbed clear. The change was amazing… and she felt a bit of her usual self-confidence restored by the way he obviously noticed. Still, she warned him that she would knock him out again if he did anything to attract attention, before untying the gag and his other bonds.
“You didn’t have to do that!”
“Yes I did. You have no idea how much trouble I’m in. The last thing I need is for you to call the police, and have a whole media circus drop on me.”
“In case you haven’t figured it out yet, you just saved me from my kidnappers! Whatever trouble you’re in, I can pretty much guarantee you that my father will do anything he can to help you…”
Buffy shook her head. “I don’t know who your dad is, kid, but I can pretty much guarantee you that he can’t help me. I am, as the expression goes, in seriously deep shit, from people who could eat your father for lunch. No matter who he is. Take some advice, kid: you do not want to get your dad involved in this.”
He looked offended. At first she thought it was because she was implying his daddy couldn’t fix everything before realizing her error. “I’m not a kid! I’m probably older than you are!” Buffy just smiled, feeling about ten thousand years old, and started unpacking her groceries. Gesturing to the food, she began to dig in. She had assumed that he would probably be nearly as hungry as she was so had bought enough for six. Mumbling under his breath at her insultingly offensive choice in verbs, he quickly grabbed something when he realized that she might just eat everything in sight. For someone who looked anorexic, he couldn’t help but be impressed at the way she was packing it away.
Some time passed before they were both stuffed, and sat back, he on the bed, Buffy on a particularly ugly 50’s-style chair. For awhile they just sat there in contented silence, digesting too much bad food, life at that moment not sucking, before he sighed and brought them back to reality. “What are your plans?”
Shrugging, Buffy sipped her Coke, trying not to think too much about it, because she knew that once she did, and now that the immediate danger had passed, she was going to have an emotional breakdown of apocalyptic proportions. “I need some time, just to sleep and recover. I know you want to go home, to let your family know that you’re okay, but if you do you’ll have no choice but to tell them what happened, and they’ll come after me. Just give me a few hours.”
He shrugged, smiling lightly, not overly concerned. “I’m okay with that. It’s kinda pathetic that this has been, well, sort of the best day I think I’ve ever had in my entire life. Well, not the kidnapping, and getting knocked out, and the being scared shitless parts, but, well, it really has been an amazing experience…” His voice trailed off, noticing the look on the girl’s face. A kind of sympathetic, tired look, filled with understanding, but also a kind of wistful weariness that made him suddenly understand she hadn’t been talking about chronological age when she called him a ‘kid.’ Seeing that look in her amazingly expressive eyes made him wonder what sort of life she had known, what sort of horrors she had experienced to give her eyes like that. One thing was certain; she did not represent a threat to his life. Wryly rubbing his still-sore jaw, he noted that just because she wasn’t likely to kill him didn’t mean he was safe around her.
Gesturing to the bed, she had him turn away while she put on some clothing before joining him there. “If you try anything, I’m going to tie you up and knock you out again, capice
?” She snuggled up to him, needing the warmth of human contact, needing to know there was someone decent left in the world. Events were catching up to her, the emotional devastation of what had happened to her, what her father had allowed to happen to her, tearing her apart inside. Having been through so much, survived so much, she knew how strong she was, how confident she was that no matter how often she was knocked down she could always get back up. But there were limits. Like when Glory had gotten to Dawn… there were limits. And she had just run into hers.
She couldn’t comprehend it… her own father had sold her out, had turned her over to government agents, who had then tortured her. Her own father
had quite literally betrayed her, out of spite or jealousy or sheer deluded stupidity, he had given her over to people who would stop at nothing to get her under their control. Who were willing to kill her if she didn’t submit, because anything they couldn’t control might be a threat, and threats, even potential threats, could not be tolerated. It was difficult for her to understand the world she found herself in; a strange, bizarre parallel world where supernatural monsters didn’t exist… but human ones did. A world where hatred and betrayal were encouraged by a government that played its own people against one another. Where people had less rights than the vampires had back in Sunnydale.
As the Slayer, Buffy had been the Law within the supernatural community. She was judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one. Some people let such power go to their heads, and didn’t bother too much with the ‘judgment’ part. Buffy’s philosophy had always been pretty much ‘live-and-let-live,’ where so long as nobody messed with the human population she would leave them alone. She didn’t have the time, energy, or blood-thirstiness needed to go out and collect heads just for the rush of proving that she could. But in this world a single, tragic terrorist event had motivated the government to get into the head-collecting business, to dispense with rational judgment and claim there were no limits on what they could do, all in the name of protecting their citizens from a danger that was actually less than any given Sunnydale resident faced on a daily basis.
In principle, Buffy had nothing against the concept. In practice she knew it was a disaster waiting to happen. It was Faith writ large, an entire government dedicated to the idea that they were above the law, that because they ‘protected the citizens’ the rules didn’t apply to them. It was insane, it was going to end very, very badly, and nobody seemed to realize it. Or care if they did. Buffy herself had been more than happy to break the rules when it suited her, but she had played by those rules until she found a better way, and had very good reasons for changing rules when it was necessary to do so. Faith had simply tossed out the rulebook… and got burned when those rules, which had also protected her, turned around and bit her in the ass.
It astonished her that there were people in power so naïve, so detached from the real world, that they didn’t understand the simple concept of ‘what goes around, comes around.’ It seemed obvious to her that you couldn’t throw out the rules for yourself, yet still expect everyone else to follow them. Society was a deck of cards, interdependent, and these idiots were pulling out the foundation cards like nihilistic children. They didn’t seem to be aware, or care, that it would eventually fall down on their collective heads.
What they had done to her hadn’t been an exercise in random sadism. It had been torture with a purpose, although the zeal and enjoyment they got out of the act made it pretty clear that whatever they told themselves so they could sleep at night, sadism had definitely played a major part in it. But the overt intention had been to force her to submit to the will of the State, as represented by whoever the State might designate. And to perform whatever purpose that person claimed represented the State’s collective will. To a girl like Buffy, who had seen the Initiative in action, who had been burned by the orders of the Council, the thought of subverting her right to make her own decisions to the will of an unknown, unseen body, who somehow felt they had the right to direct other people’s lives, was an absolute non-starter.
She found it inconceivable that anyone would buy into such lunacy. But obviously someone did… obviously her father did. To the point where he would betray his daughter to them, would let them do unspeakable things to her, in return for vague assurances that it was for the collective good. As she lay in the uncomfortable bed, in a borderline-sleazy motel, Buffy couldn’t stop the tears she hadn’t realized had been falling onto the chest of a young man she didn’t know. A young man who had shown more courage and integrity than her own father. Who was the only truly decent man she had encountered since arriving on this world. Who simply held her and let her cry. It wasn’t something she normally did, wasn’t something she had done since awakening here, but at that moment, under those conditions, Buffy desperately needed someone, needed something decent, just to prove to herself that it still existed.
Sitting up, she straddled his waist, looking into his shocked, nervous eyes. “If you don’t want to do this, just tell me to stop.” He swiftly shook his head, partly excited but mostly frightened… not of her, but of screwing up what he hoped was happening. “I’ve never….” Gently holding her fingers over his mouth, Buffy took the lead, wanting this to be something decent, something human when everything around her was ugly and indecent. It wasn’t love, it wasn’t really anything but a need for companionship, but to both of their surprise it turned into something real, something neither would regret the next morning. Afterward, she held him, not offended that he wasn’t as beautiful as Spike and Angel had been beautiful, but simply glad that together they had created something, if not beautiful, then at least something human, as neither Spike nor Angel had been truly human. Eventually they both fell asleep.
While she slept, for the first time since awakening on this world, Buffy had a Slayer dream. A prophetic dream. A dream about the end of the world.
After just a few hours sleep, Buffy carefully extricated herself from the embrace of the young man, got dressed, and quietly left the room. She hoped he would sleep long enough to give her time to get away, but didn’t really care if he didn’t. The way she felt right then, the rage she felt over the miserable Powers That Be, who were obviously once again out to fuck up her life, she was more than ready to go out in a blaze of glory and to hell with the lot of them. This whole damned thing had been nothing but another of their scams, a way to manipulate Buffy into doing their damned bidding. And she was thoroughly sick of doing their dirty work.
But, as usual, she could not ignore the compelling images of the horrors quickly approaching. She didn’t know how much time this world had left before it was attacked… by friggin’ aliens
, of all things… but the massive slaughter her dream showed that they would unleash was not something she could put aside. She could only hope that the miserable bastards in government would kill her before she had to do anything about it, and she could go out smugly content in knowing it would mean their own inevitable demise. In the meantime she would do her best to fix the approaching mess. Which meant first finding a bus, heading anywhere. Once arriving wherever it was she ended up, she would locate some random drug dealer and rob him. Or more than one, if that’s what it took. And then she would keep getting on random busses, then get off in random locations, taking other busses, until eventually she finally arrived in a non-random location.
If she was being recalled as a Slayer, she was going to need some help.