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Summary: In the aftermath of the mass calling, the repercussions of no future potentials come to light. But there is a possible hope for the world. All Xander has to do is die, forever.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > GeneralDanaShortFR7410,8023128,49421 Jan 0624 Jan 06No

Essence, a Spirit Story.

Ok, I know I should be working on the next bit of Knight Errant, seeing as how this is the first chance I've had to write in several days. But as I settled here to start the morgue scene where in Xander, Stone, and Cat meet Nat for the first time, I just can't. The darn scene just isn't there. Or rather, the scene is, but apparently Nat called in sick today, as I can't seem to bring her into it. Now, if I were writing in my more normal style, thi wouldn't be an impediment, I'd just go write one of the myriad later scenes I also have floating in my chaotic mind, then work on stitching them into a cohesive whole, as I usually do. But Knight Errant is different – I've been writing it linearly, from start to finish, one scene after another, in the proper order. And I'm not willing to quit that just yet, it seems to be working. So instead, I'm going to do something different. Instead of writing a story in a truly random order, as is my norm, or writing it in a liner fashion as I am trying to do with Knight Errant, this one I'm going to do backwards. Meaning the first scene I write will be the last, and the last shall be first, to quote a famous book.

As is usually the case, I own nothing you may have seen before anywhere, and didn't ask anyone before borrowing the characters, situations, and concepts used herein.

That said, I'm off to write the last Author's Notes. Hope this reads coherently when I'm done...

---===(Cut here to detach actual story from stupid disclaimer.)===---


Essence, a Spirit Story.




Sunnydale Memorial Hospital

Jessica and Anthony Harris looked at their new-born son as he lay sleeping in Jessica's arms. They had been discussing names for the newest scion of the Harris clan as recently as the night before, and had narrowed it down to three, Jessica wanted to name him Tony Jr. Tony had instead suggested Rory, after his older brother. The other name on the list was Oscar, after a mutual friend they both respected.

The nurse came in with the form which would once and for all decide the child's identity.

"So, what's the name? Now that you've seen him, is he a Tony, an Oscar, or a Rory?"

Jessica lifted her gaze from her sleeping child and met her husband's loving gaze. And in that moment a faint wind seemed to blow through the room, touching everything, yet disturbing nothing. "Alex." Jessica said suddenly.

Tony nodded, "Alexander, actually. It means, 'Protector of man'."

The nurse looked momentarily confused, but smiled and wrote the name on her clipboard, before smiling at the sleeping child, 'Well hello there little Alex. I hope you have a good life." That said se smiled once more at the parents, and turned and left the room.

+=+

Sunnydale Zoo.

The released primal spirits swirled around the group of teens who had completed the ceremony to summon them from the hyenas.

The leader of the group, the female Alpha considered the two females present, but found them both lacking. Looking over the males, there was one, the one who had been standing against the rest, he was the strongest. He was her choice. So she settled in to his body and began the process of integrating herself to his being.

+=+

Sunnydale High Library

The spell was cast, rending Alpha from her host, leaving behind only traces of her essence where she had once been bonded to his soul. By themselves, they were nothing, simple remnants of her possession. But they were parts of her nonetheless.

+=+

Master's Cave

Her host dying, the Slayer Spirit left to find the next Potential, only to find herself trapped.

There was some sort of mystical barrier surouding the cave, trapping her in the chamber with the dead slayer and several demons.

Then two other beings entered the chamber. One of them was equally tainted with demonic essence as the demons which surrounded her last host. But unlike the other demons, it also held a human soul.

The second was entirely human. But even more importantly, while like the others in the cave h was male, the Slayer Spirit could detect the remnants of the female Hyena Primal where she had once anchored herself to the boy's soul. And the Slayer Spirit needed a host if she was to escape this mystical prison.

Carefully, she attached herself to the remnants of Alpha, and thus to Xander.

She watched as her host retrieved the body of her last host, and begun a ritual of breathing into the corpse.

She watched as her prior host returned to the living, the remnants of her essence which remained in her prior host blossoming and beginning to grow into a new Slayer essence. She watched, as the Slayer Line was essentially twinned, and was amazed.

Her previous host then left the chamber, and was followed by her current host. And as they cleared the barrier she tore herself free of her current host, and went in search of her next host, the Potential named Kendra.

And in the process, inadvertently leaving a little bit of herself behind, bound to the remnants of the Hyena Primal, which was its self bound to the soul of Alexander.

The two partial spirit essences flowed and merged over time, becoming something which was neither Hyena Primal, nor Slayer Spirit, but drew from both. It was not a full spirit however, more like a partial essence.

+=+

Halloween, Streets of Sunnydale.

In the aftermath of the possession spell, the nascent spirit had been changed. It had absorbed the modern military doctrine and training which had been a part of the pseudo spirit possessing it's host, and had drained the remnants of the pseudo spirit as the spell ended, locking a bit of it's essence within the host and themselves as well. Still anchored to Xander's soul, the fetal spirit continued to grow. The effects of the spirit on it's host were negligible, a slight increase in speed and strength, a slightly more significant resistance to damage, and even faster healing than was absolutely the norm. But when compared to those with whom he associated himself, they were as nothing, and so went unnoticed.

+=+

Initiative

The fetal spirit had been growing slowly. She could have grown faster, had she been exposed directly to the energy of the hell mouth, but the purity of Xander's soul had thus far shielded her from the darker energies which surrounded her at all times in this place, thus keeping her essence pure and untainted.

Now something unique happened. A spell was cast. One which combined the essences of a powerful witch's magic, the wisdom of a learned elder mage, the strength of an active slayer, and Xander's heart, which was a part of his soul. The spell thus carried the burgeoning sprit with it, where it too became a part of the joining.

As a result, Buffy was stronger and faster than she would have been had she had the slayer spirit alone supporting her. And the developing spirit fed off the magic to which it was exposed, and she grew. When the spell was finally ended, she was far more developed than she had been at the beginning of the spell. Her closeness to the fully developed Slayer Spirit had nourished her immensely. As had her exposure to the Witch's and Mage's magics, had created a new affinity for magic which neither of her 'parents' had possessed. Thus it was that spells and their associated mystical powers would now be easier for her to call upon when she was finally developed.

+=+

Magic Box

As Olaf the Troll's hammer slammed into Xander's head, the developing spirit did what it could to alleviate damage. It strengthened the tissues and bones, preventing the blow which should have killed him from doing more damage then causing bruises on his face from the repeated blows.

Unfortunately, due to her limited strength and concentration on keeping the head and brain safe from damage, it was unable to respond when the troll grabbed Xander by the arm and twisted, breaking the bone. But it started immediately on healing the damage, so the cast only stayed on for a week. Xander now really did have a hard head at least.

+=+

Kingman's Bluff

Willow's spell poured the very life energy of the earth into Proserpexa, a steady stream of magic. Steady that is until Xander stepped into the way. "Hey black-eyed girl. Whatcha doin'?" he asked. Meanwhile, deep inside his core, the growing infant Spirit fed off the burst of magical energy, energy which otherwise would have simply vaporized it's host.

A few moments later, she was focusing on alleviating damage as a bolt of magic threw her host against Proserpexa's base.

He again rose however, and stepped into that oh so nurturing stream of energy, once more disrupting the witches attempt at ending the world.

Her host once more takes damage from a series of magical attacks, but in the end once more succeeds in saving the world. And she starts in on healing the damage to her host once more.

+=+

Sunnydale High 2.0

Willow cast her spell, and unbeknownst to her, the First laughed.

Willow's spell shredded the Slayer Spirit, scattering it's pieces to every potential in the world, activating them and making them into Slayers. And the First laughed.

The miniature army in Sunnydale defeated the First's army of Turokhans, and closed the hell mouth there for good, but still the first laughed.

And in a hospital in Norfolk Virginia, the last Slayer was born. And she would be the last, because there were no more potentials. In ten or fifteen years, when she hit puberty, her Slayer Essence would kick in, and when that happened, the Slayer Spirit would be without any more hosts to support.

And when she and all her sister slayers finally died, for the first time since the true demons were finally thrown off the face of the earth, there would be no more Slayers. And the First laughed.

+=+

London England

The aged Willow looked at the body of her dying friend. The years of their struggle had not been kind to him. Caleb had taken an eye, and a Fulgar demon had taken an arm and a leg. But none of those injuries had stopped him from fighting at the sides of the ever-dwindling army of women called Slayers.

It had been several years since Willow had realized the full magnitude of her error – that in calling all the potentials, that she essentially ended the line. There would be no more slayers called. The Slayer Spirit, the entity which had chosen from the available pool of young women world wide had been shredded, it's coherency and sentience lost when Willow forcibly distributed it to all the potentials at once. And no more potentials had since been born.

Willow was aware of the magnitude of her error now, several years later. But she had also been given a hope. A vision from one of the Powers had led her here to her dying friend.

"Xander?" she asked the man, his body wracked by fever as the microbes consumed him from the inside out.

It was sad, her best friend since forever had faced off against apocalyptic demons and monsters which could level buildings, and had survived. And they had not. Not that he had always emerged unscathed, the scars and mutilations so evident to his body as he lay sweating in his deathbed were testament to that, but he had always survived. However, a simple drink from some contaminated water had exposed him to an infection, one which if treated in time with antibiotics would have been nothing of consequence, but he had ignored the symptoms, and by the time the others had checked on him, it was too late. He was dying, and there was nothing medical science, or even all of Willow's magic could do to stop it.

But with his death, there came a hope, a hope Willow's magic could possibly help with.

"Xander?" she asked again softly.

He stirred, and blearily opened his eye, peering up at him. "Wills." He murmerd, "You came. 'S nice to see you." He trailed off, his eye closing, and the arm he had been reaching weekly towards her dropping to the bed.

Willow reached out and grasped the arm, holding it't fevered skin firmly in her hands, as she called him again, "Xander, I need to talk to you for a moment."

Xander's eye opened again, and he vaugly smiled at her, " 'M not going 'nyywhere, Wills." He murmered softly.

"Xander, you're dying." Willow said trying to look at her best friend through a viel of tears."There's nothing we can do."

Xander nodded, "Docs tol' me already"

"Xander, there is something though. I was contacted by an Oracle for the Powers. Xander, there is one last thing you can do, if you are willing."

"Wazat, Wills?" he asked, his eye sliding almost closed again.

"Apparently, there is a spirit in you, something like the Slayer Spirit, but not. It has been in you since it's inception somehow. But it's not complete. And when you die, it will too."

"Slayer Spirit's dead, Wills. We killed it. Shoulda said something. My fault" he murmured, his eye closing the rest of the way, and a tear leaking out of it.

Willow felt her own tears running down her cheeks both in regret of her own actions, and for all the losses they had suffered over the years, and for the even greater loss she would suffer in the immediate future, and over the request she had to ask of her best friend.

"Well, yeah, I know. But this spirit in you, apparently it is like the Slayer Spirit. Somehow, it got there through Buffy. We did research, but can't find anything. But that's not the point. The point is that this spirit, it could do the same thing as the Slayer Spirit, we think. It could help keep the world safe. If it survives."

"So save it." Said Xander, not opening his eye.

Willow's tears started to flow so hard that she couldn't see anything more than a blur as she sobbed out, "I can't, only you can. And Xander, there's more. To save it, you'll have to die."

Xander's hand moved slightly in her own, as his voice cracked out, "Dying anyhow, Wills."

Willow shook her head, the tears moving in wobbling tracks down her cheeks as she tried to explain, "No, Xander, I mean you, your soul. In order to save the spirit, I'd have to bind it with your soul. You'd never go to heaven. You'd be gone. Forever."

Xander's hand in hers squeezed as firmly as it could, and she could blearily make out that his eye was open again, locked on hers. "Do it." He said simply, then he closed his eye again, "Do it now, before it's too late."

So Willow set up the components, and began the spell. And as she ended the incantation, Xander's body let out it's last breath, and fell still, leaving Willow to sob over the empty husk which was all that was left of her one time best friend since forever.

+=+

San Francisco, California.

Sally Jacobs was walking home from the party, having taken a short cut through Skylawn Memorial Park, the old cemetery near her home.

It was a decision she thought she would regret for the rest of her life, all two or three minutes of it.

She had been making her way across the corner of the property, like she had done dozens of times before, when suddenly a pair of figures had stepped out of the darkness.

"Look what we have here." The first one had said as he stepped into the light before her.

"Someone ordered delivery." The other replied, stepping up next to her companion.

Suddenly their faces had, changed. Fangs had sprouted from their mouths, their foreheads had gone bumpy, and their eyes had become a malevolent yellow.

Sally turned and started to run, kicking her shoes off in the first few steps hoping that her bare feet would give her a better chance at escape than her heels could.

But she knew almost form the start that her attempt at escape was hopeless.

They had caught her in moments, the female monster reaching out and grabbing her shoulder, spinning her around where she fell to the ground at the base of a tree, her hand crunching painfully down on a branch as she broke it off in her fall.

She sat there on the damp ground, her back against the cold wood of the tree, her left hand painfully throbbing from the pain of the broken branch beneath it, and looking at her death.

Suddenly a voice seemed to speak in her mind, "I can help, if you want. But I must warn you, it'll be a life-long commitment."

Looking around to see who, or what had spoken, Sally saw nothing. The monsters were arguing amongst themselves as to which one got to eat her first, the male claiming that he had seen her first, and the female that she had stopped her.

Sally decided that a lifelong commitment at least meant a life, which was more than she could expect once the two creatures before her decided which of them was going to end her. So she agreed, saying out loud, "Fine Help me out of this, and I'll do whatever you want, as long as it doesn't involve hurting my friends or something bad like that."

"Very well, Sally. I Choose you." The voice seemed to say, and suddenly she felt a presence, fill her.

Her body seemed to shudder as more strength and energy than she had ever imagined seemed to flood her limbs. The darkness of the night snapped to a crystal clarity beyond what she would expect to see at noon, and she could clearly hear the various bugs moving amongst the grass around her, not to mention every movement and exhalation of the arguing vampires, for that was what she now knew they were, before her.

Her hand tightened on the broken fragment of branch beneath it, and moving with her newly acquired supernatural strength and grace, Sally leapt up, and attacked, changing instantly from prey to predator. With the new voice in her head, the vampires stood no chance. A New Slayer was born.

The Beginning.

---===(Snip here to detach actual story from after-notes.)===---


Authors Notes.
Well, I think I should point out that just like Knight Errant, this is Un-Beta'd. If anyone would like to volunteer to become a beta for Knight Errant, please let me know. There will generally be time for your efforts to be applied between my posing to the group, and archiving at TTH, and I can always go back and edit the TTH version to incorporate corrections.

I hope this story worked. Me, I'm off to start the last scene.

Dana…
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