She didn’t understand.
Buffy had been trying to get to her friends…hell, she had even tried to
get to Faith! She had screamed, she had charged the invisible barrier,
punched it until blood had stained her hands.
The first one to fall on his knees had been Giles, then it had been Xander,
then Faith…and finally Spike had fallen too. The cacophony of the room had
faded, now there was only silence…even that annoying buzz had vanished and
Buffy hated that silence. She hated that the only thing she could hear in
the room was her heart, beating too fast and her labored breath.
Her head hurt… and the bright light, emphasized by the white walls was
only worsening her headache…she was tired…more tired than she ever
remembered being. She rested her head against her knees…and sighed…so
that’s how it was supposed to end? With her watching the people she loved
suffering without being able to do a thing about it?
It was Spike’s voice. It was faint, barely more than a whisper, but at
least he was awake now. She tilted her head up only to meet his eyes.
“How are you feeling?” She asked.
The vampire chuckled at her words, she rolled her eyes and said, “I take
this as a: ‘I’m feeling better thanks for asking’”
Spike nodded and slowly got up, Buffy watched as he looked around and
couldn’t help following his gaze: there was nothing in the room, nothing
they could use to get out of here.
“Didn’t look that big when we got here…” Spike mumbled. “Of course…there
wasn’t all this light, either…”
“How long have you been here?” She asked.
“Don’t know…feels like forever…” He said. He took a step forward, still
warily looking around then stretched a hand touching the invisible barrier
with his open palm.
“You can’t get out…” Buffy said.
“That’s not what I want to do…” Spike said. He turned, looking at the
other occupants of the room, they were all still unconscious then he
looked at her.
“They’ve been like this for hours…” Buffy said, answering to his silent
question. “What’s going on, Spike?”
Spike shook his head, “I’m not sure, ducks…”
Buffy blinked. Why did she feel that Spike was lying to her? Granted, he
had lied to her for years…he had lied to all of them, but she had learned
to read him pretty well for the past months…and she was sure he was now
hiding something from her…and there was something else, whatever it
was…was pissing him off. Big time.
Spike knelt next to Xander, he looked at him for a second before saying,
“He’s alive…his heartbeat is steady…I don’t think they have him…”
“Uh?” Buffy said. “They?”
Spike ignored her and got up, he checked on Faith, who was unconscious,
and Buffy noticed the smile that crept on his lips when he said, “I think
she’s just sleeping…”
“Faith screwing up the Council…what a news…” Buffy mumbled, yet she
couldn’t help being grateful. Whatever was happening to her she was glad
it wasn’t touching Faith. She frowned realizing that she hadn’t been
surprised when she had seen the brunette Slayer.
Somehow it had made perfect sense.
<Being pregnant is really making you sappy, Buff…>
She thought. She then looked at Spike and asked, “Can you feel the baby’s
heartbeat? Is everything alright?”
Spike stopped, he looked up at her and said, “I can…your baby is fine,
ducks…” Only then did Spike really look at her and asked, “Did they hurt
She slowly got up and took a tentative step toward the barrier saying,
“Except for the part where I’m being all damsel in distress and stuff? I’m
Spike just nodded at her as he knelt in front of Giles who was lying on
his back, on the floor. Buffy noticed how he checked for his pulse and
then for his eyes, she noticed how he took a few more seconds observing
him, she clutched a hand against her chest and with a small voice, a voice
she barely recognized as her own asked, “Is he…”
“He’s alive…” Spike said interrupting her, while still checking on him
Buffy let out a shaky breath that she hadn’t even realized she was
holding: Giles was alive.
“How is he?” She eventually asked.
Spike didn’t answer her at first, and Buffy took another step not caring,
for a second, about the invisible barrier, but froze in her spot, when
Spike almost shouted: “Stay away!”
The vampire had tilted his head down hiding his face from her and she
could see his hands lightly twitching, as he fought to control their
“What’s going on?” She asked.
When he didn’t answer, she couldn’t help looking at Giles’ face: under
that white, bright light his face looked pale…too pale, and she couldn’t
help blinking in surprise when she noticed new lines marring his handsome
“Just…stay away,” Spike said in a shaky voice.
“Is it me?” She asked in a low voice. She looked at her friends, taking in
their pale faces…and couldn’t help taking a step back when she noticed the
white in Xander’s hair.
“Oh, my God…” She whispered. “What am I doing to you?”
Spike slowly got up, his head still tilted down; just looking at him she
could tell he was in pain.
“Spike?” She asked.
“I’m not sure, ducks…” Spike eventually said.
<Am I gonna hurt you and our baby?>
Buffy closed her eyes. Giles had dropped on his knees shortly after she
had shouted his name and had tried to rush at him.
They had all stopped talking when she had been thrown back by the
invisible barrier, they had fallen…dropping on the floor like rag dolls,
every time she had gotten close to them….
How could she had been so stupid?
She turned her back at Spike and looked around for the door…she hadn’t
even bothered looking at it since she had entered the room…she hadn’t even
taken a step when Spike’s voice stopped her.
“Don’t move” The vampire said.
She turned, angrily shouting, “What am I supposed to do? Tell me something
Xander cried in pain interrupting her tirade.
Spike took a look at him, then at her and said, “Shutting your mouth would
be a good start…”
Buffy nodded. She ran a hand through her hair and took a few deep breaths,
trying to calm down. “Alright…” she eventually said, “how is he?”
“Still fighting…” was Spike’s only reply.
“Fighting what? Whom?”
“The council, luv…who else? They’re using you, your powers to…”
“Hurt them?” Buffy chimed in.
“Judging’ by what I saw? They’re using your powers to hurt you…through us.
They’re trying to brainwash us”
“Huh?” Buffy shook her head, “I don’t get it…why didn’t they just kill me?
Why all of this…” she gestured around at the white, circular room they
were in. “What’s with the brainwashing?”
Spike wasn’t listening to her, though. He had started pacing the room, his
hands on his hips, his head tilted down, a deep frown marring his brow…and
Buffy for a moment thought that if he had been wearing glasses he would
have probably started polishing them. She almost smiled at the thought,
but then, a look at Giles made her smile implode, twisting her soul in a
He was paler now, so pale that she could clearly see the veins of his
face, and she could almost feel the pain he was feeling, it was clearly
written all over his face.
“I’m hurting him…I swore I’d ever do that again…” She whispered.
Spike loudly snorted at her words.
“What?” She said in a low voice, slowly sinking on the floor.
“The *Council* is doing this, ducks…get over yourself” The vampire said.
She closed her eyes asking, “Then why you couldn’t look at me before? What
did you see when you were unconscious?”
“Nothing to write home about, ducks…” Spike said, and once again Buffy was
sure he was lying to her.
“Have you any idea about how to get outta here?” She opened her eyes and
looked around saying, “Why Eric isn’t here? Maybe a bit of mojo would…”
“Do nothing useful…not here, not now.”
Buffy looked at him, afraid he would tilt his head down, refusing to meet
her eyes; it didn’t happen, though. Spike was a bit paler than usual, but
aside for that, he was just his usual self. His eyes were darker,
though…with concern, and Buffy couldn’t help the little shiver that ran up
“Besides, you wouldn’t want the wanker here…not when they’re trying to
brainwash us into killing you…”
“So let me see if I get this straight: my boyfriend could kill me when he
wakes up? My friends would lend him a hand?”
“Nice…” She said. She tilted her head on a side and slowly got up, she
looked at Spike for a second before asking, “how do I know you’re not
going Terminator on me?”
Spike shrugged, “I hoped you’d ask this…you don’t. I willed myself out of
“Eletti and all, uh?” She said. When he nodded she snapped, “Fine…now
Spike grinned at her “Now that you’re starting to resemble your old bitchy
self we can start working. We have a few aces on our sleeves.”
He looked at Faith who looked sound asleep then at her and said, “Listen
to me, Slayer…”
It was raining.
The rain had started when the two girls had arrived on the beach and had
stopped in front of the Lighthouse.
If one could still call it a Lighthouse...
Xavier had noticed how it had grown bigger for the past hours.
“What the…” The former demon, Anya, had said when she had first looked at
“My thoughts exactly” Willow had said.
Xavier lightly moved from his hiding spot to better look at the redhead.
He had seen her of course, since he had arrived to Sunnydale, but that was
the first time he really had the chance to observe her, to take in her
For her, Spike, the Eletti, had gone against the rules, blowing his cover.
For her, he had risked his very existence.
Only for her.
Xavier closed his eyes, while he heard a thunder; it was tearing up the
silence of that dying night.
<For naught. It’s been all for naught…>
He blinked his eyes open, that lone thought, though, kept dancing in the
back of his mind and he did nothing to shake it away.
A sound did. He moved forward, to make sure he had actually heard it. It
was a heartbeat, a third, tiny heartbeat…and it was coming from Willow’s
The red-head was pregnant…it took him a moment to fully get the
implications of what he had just discovered…and another to notice, for the
first time, the ring Willow was wearing on her left ring finger.
He had had a similar ring during his training …a simple golden band with a
sapphire on it. He recalled giving it back to his Gheraious after hearing
the news he had been activated…that was just one of the stupid rules the
Eletti so blindly liked to follow…when it suited them.
He shook his head and quickly returned to his hiding spot, forcing himself
to file away that thought and its implications for another moment,
especially when he smelled the change in the air…it filled with magic and
a moment later the Gheraious appeared on the beach.
The older vampire looked around, before greeting Willow and Anya. He
hadn’t looked surprised to find the two young women on the beach; he had
just cocked an eyebrow at them. He took a look at the Lighthouse and said,
“The procedure is about to start…”
“How can you tell?” Willow asked and Xavier couldn’t help noticing the
distrust in the woman’s voice.
If Eric noticed it, thought, he didn’t show when he said, “They have been
using the Slayer’s powers to build room for the first part of the
“Uh?” It was Anya who spoke “what do you mean?”
“They need her powers to make this work…” Eric suddenly stopped talking
and turned, he looked around and Xavier was almost sure he had been seen.
Not that it mattered any more. He had all the elements he needed, now. His
assignment was to spy on the Gheraious and the Eletti, to gather
information and take any measures he might find necessary.
Eric, in the meantime, had mumbled some words, and then Willow, Anya and
he had disappeared.
It didn’t matter. He wanted the Gheraious and the Eletti to help the
Slayer. Only then, when what was taking place in the Lighthouse would end,
was he going to set things in motion.
His first priority, was the Slayers’ safety…
As it had always been.
“What’s with all the secrecy?” Willow asked looking around.
Eric didn’t answer her at first; he kept looking around, through the
deserted beach. He couldn’t see anyone…yet, he couldn’t shake away the
feeling he was being spied on. William’s words, shortly before he left
were echoing in his mind. Something was going to happen, possibly very
soon. His contact at the Eletti had hinted at something…yet, oddly enough,
he didn’t care…not in that moment.
Later he would face what was ahead of him, for now he had to help the
Slayer…and William. He owed his Eletti that much. He inwardly sighed and
was about to speak when Anya said: “I kinda like it…it’s still raining,
“So,” Willow asked “are you planning to tell us what’s happening any time
soon?” Her voice was sharp, bitter.
Eric looked at her: she looked very tired, she was very pale, paler than
how she had been in the Watcher’s apartment and her eyes were too bright,
“You shouldn’t be here…” He eventually said. He couldn’t show concern for
Willow, not there in front of Anya. Not ever. The time for indulging in
any feeling he felt for the redhead was over.
“I know…” She said in a low voice, breaking his train of thought. “I
didn’t want to do anything…I just needed to be here…”
“I told her it was a stupid idea…” Anya chimed in.
“It doesn’t matter” Eric said tersely. Yet for a moment he had barely
resisted the urge to smile at Willow, especially when she looked at him,
with a half-smile creeping on her lips.
“What did you find?” She asked.
She wasn’t looking at him any more, she had turned toward the lighthouse,
her eyes fixed on the only lit window from which it came a strong, white
“It’s a ritual…conceived as a punishment, actually. What Anya said, got me
thinking…the common procedure with a pregnant Slayer is usually much more
simpler than that…”
“Simple?” Willow said, turning to look at him for a second, “that’s not
how I’d call it…”
“I don’t mean to discuss semantics with you, Willow. The fact is that a
Slayer who reaches Obscuritas is known for a fact to be far worse than any
demon she might have fought. In this Slayer’s case, can you imagine facing
another Master…Angelus, the first Evil, your former Mayor and Adam all
rolled into one?”
Eric saw Willow lightly paling at his words and her green eyes welling up
with tears, and had to block out that sight. He forced himself to.
“I know…” She eventually said in a nasal voice, “I get it. Spike still
dreams about it…” she continued. “This doesn’t mean I have to like it…”
She crossed her arms over her chest and said, “So, the common procedure is
to take them down like rabid dogs…why all of this, then? What’s different,
“The Slayer…and the Council” Eric said. He took in their puzzled faces and
looking at Anya asked, “ What do you know about the other Slayer? The one
you told me about?”
Anya blinked a few times before saying, “Not much…she was quite old, for a
Slayer, nineteen I think…”
“That’s one thing, the other?” He asked.
“I don’t know…” Anya said.
“She had called it quits with the Council…” Eric said. “it hadn’t lasted
long, her watcher had convinced her to come back…but she had quit, after
“So when she got pregnant they did what?” Willow asked.
“They chose to punish her…and her watcher…they closed them in that
tower…and let her powers work their magic” Eric looked at the Lighthouse,
it was growing bigger under their own eyes.
“And they’re doing the same to Buffy and Giles?” Willow asked.
“Yes, that’s what I think is going on…” He paused. “The people who entered
the lighthouse will be tested…broken, and the Slayer’s lover will kill
Willow shook her head, “Like hell! Giles would never kill her…”
Eric shrugged, “That’s what I’m hoping…” He stifled his hands in the
pockets of his coat and said, “Right now we have two advantages…the bond
between the Slayer and the Watcher…and William. He’s been trained to face
that kind of situation…”
“You mean the Obscuritas?” Willow asked.
“No” He replied. “The brainwashing. What worries me is that he has now
something that can be used against him…”
“That would be me, right?” Willow asked.
“The baby…” He whispered hating himself for the hurt he was causing her.
Willow shook her head and turned giving her back to him, Anya looked at
her mumbling, “Way to go with the subtleness, Eric”
Willow turned toward him, her brows knitted, she took a step toward him
asking, “What about the Council?”
Eric didn’t talk for a second, pondering what to tell her. He had been
taught loyalty to the Council; after all he was still part of it. Yet what
he had learned, what his contact had told him about the current situation
could be pivotal.
He had been a watcher, once…had believed in the cause, he still did after
four centuries. The Watchers swore to protect the world…but their first
goal, their first reason of existence was to guide, assist the Slayer.
“Not everyone on the Council wanted to kill the Slayer. A lot has been
discovered since the last time we faced the same situation…the only reason
why they have come here now and not last month when they found out about
the Slayer’s pregnancy…was that the Council has been this close to a civil
“What happened?” Willow asked.
He was about to speak, when the lighthouse lit up with a bright, white
light. It only lasted for a second, then it became dark again.
“What the hell was that?” Willow asked.
Surprisingly it was Anya who talked. She tilted her head up and looked at
the lighthouse, the light had disappeared, it now looked darker, it was
almost black, with the exception of that lone, single window, from which
came light. White, blinding. “They don’t need the room anymore…” She said.
Eric nodded at the former demon’s words, and slowly said, “They have just
found out who the father is…”
Willow closed her eyes for a second. He could hear her heart beating, it
was pounding against her chest, yet, her voice was calm when she said,
“Tell me about the Council, Eric…tell me how to bring it to its knees!”
“So, the father is the watcher? ” Daniel asked.
He shook his head. He had been warned about the strength of the bond
between the Slayer and her Watcher…only…he had expected another kind of
“Father’s love for his child…” He mumbled, before sighing.
“Is that a problem, sir?” Maximillan, asked.
“No,” He replied, “this is actually one of the good news we’ve had since
we lost the boy…I was sure he was the father…he had been so hard to
He knew Charles was looking at him, he could feel the younger’s man eyes
“Do you want to know why is it a good news Mr. Dutton?” He asked turning
to look at him.
Charles nodded: “I don’t see how a watcher killing his Slayer can be seen
as something good, to tell you the truth”
“Because” Daniel slowly said, “he is the only one who can actually kill
“She is powerless-” Charles hissed. “don’t you remember? We took away her
powers! Any of us could kill her, now…”
“We didn’t take away her powers, Mr. Dutton…what we took away was just her
physical strength…we can’t take away what makes her the Slayer…no one can,
but-” He said “ we can borrow it. That’s what we are doing here.”
Charles took a step toward him, disbelief and disgust clear on his strong
“The father of the child is the only one who can kill her…” Daniel said
after a second.
“How?” Charles asked, “What makes you think her watcher will do that? He
didn’t pass the Cruciamentum, he was fired because he cared too much about
her…and she wasn’t carrying his child back then!”
“That was the purpose of the first part of the procedure. We tested them
to make sure the father would comply” Daniel said.
The procedure hadn’t been used for centuries, but it had always
succeeded…it broke the will of the people involved, until the right thing
“I think you’re forgetting something, sir.” Charles said in a low voice,
“we don’t know what’s really happening. We don’t know what they are
seeing! You aren’t just about to kill the Slayer, you’re harming
civilians! The situation is out of control!”
“It is…” Daniel said. “It’s been out of control ever since you allowed the
other Slayer to pass through the shield. You wanted to give the Slayer a
fair fight, Mr.Dutton? She has almost killed one of her friends with her
“Don’t you dare…” Charles hissed. “Don’t you dare trying to make me feel
guilty for what’s happened. I didn’t choose this ritual!”
The younger man went to a corner of the room and then took a gun from one
of the crates, but stopped when he asked, “What are you doing, Mr.
“What needs to be done,” Was the man’s only reply.
“That would be? If it’s the Slayer your concern, I can promise you, we are
already taking care of the problem.”
“The problem has a name!” Charles said, “She entered that room knowing she
was going to die but she did it anyway…she wanted to save the people, the
man she loved, not to brainwash him into killing her! The procedure is
merciless…” He showed them the gun and said, “At least I will make it
quick for her”
“You know you can’t,” He just said. “You said it yourself, Mr. Dutton, no
one can get in or out of that room, not until the procedure is complete!
We will have to wait. Should the procedure fail, however, I will be glad
to let you make it quick for her” He looked at the gun, the man had
lightly shifted his aim, so that now it was pointed at him, “If I were
you, now, I would put that gun down…and forget everything about this…”
Charles nodded, slowly, his eyes fixed on him and Daniel was sure, for a
moment that he was going to do something foolish like firing the gun at
him or on himself. It didn’t happen, though, the man held him the gun and
then went to sit in a corner of the room, on the floor, his eyes closed.
“What’s going to happen now?” He eventually asked, after a long silence.
“He should wake up any minute, now.” He said, sitting on one of the
Daniel Laughton closed his eyes. He didn’t like the procedure. He
considered it merciless…and unusually cruel…but those had been the orders
he had gotten…and he had no choice but to obey. He had been sent to
Sunnydale for that precise reason: he obeyed orders…even the one he wished
he hadn’t got. Yet, the Slayer had to be stopped.
He thought for a moment about the very detailed orders he had received
regarding the procedure. He wondered if Travers had known about the
changes in the relationship between the Slayer and the watcher and if that
had been the reason he had specifically chosen that old, forgotten
procedure to deal with a pregnant slayer.
Or maybe not…maybe he had just wished for those Slayer and Watcher to die
by each other’s hand.
Whatever the original purpose had been, he was going to get what he
The Slayer and the Watcher were going to die.
Faith could smell it, thick in that stale air.
She could hear a baby crying…and other faint cries of pain.
Darkness…all around her: the tunnels smelled of it, she was walking down a
gallery…filled with darkness.
Yet it hadn’t always been that way…
She had seen…
She had seen faces…the faces of the people who, once, had been her
friends, distorted with pain, lit up with joy, lost in ecstasy.
She had seen…
Anya…her face a horrible mask of vengeance and despair, walking down the
streets of an almost deserted Sunnydale, tears streaming down her face, a
black tunic hanging from her shoulders.
Darkness…and a woman, crying.
She had seen things.
She had seen…
Spike…chained up to a wall. Only…only his eyes, were green now.
All around her…laughter, cries…a sweet thick smell invading the darkness.
Faith wondered if that was how sin really smelled like.
Seen…she had seen things.
Buffy, wearing a white dress, a wedding dress, a smile creeping on her
Giles…and lust in his eyes as he kissed someone…a woman…not Buffy…his
memories, his mind, lost.
And the others’ lost too.
She kept walking, feeling nearer and nearer to those cries: a woman and a
She had seen…
A tall, blonde man, crying as he talked with a girl, a dead girl…
The blonde man had hit Spike…his green-blue eyes filled with tears of
grief and heartache
The cries were close, now.
Faith stopped: Angel, she had seen Angel.
Angel…lost…his soul imploded, as he kissed Darla, while Spike and Drusilla
looked at them, laughing.
Faith shook her head at those images.
A nightmare within a nightmare…
<The light within the darkness>
She heard a male voice saying those words, over and over. It was a voice
she didn’t recognize but, at the same time, oddly familiar…comforting. It
was the voice of the guide, the Watcher, the protector, she thought as
light came to her, hurting her eyes.
Light, all around her, burning light within her as she went on walking.
Willow…she could see Willow, or had she already seen her?
<Faith, you have to wake up! >
She had seen her, lying on a table, blood under her, stains of blood on
her hands and fingers.
Willow…she could see her crying, holding out a hand…looking, striving for
She could see him…laughing, while a monster, a woman, kissed him.
Too much light, now.
Too much pain.
<Faith open your eyes…I need your help>
She needed her…they needed each other.
Too much light…
Too much death… #
Her face burned.
Faith had still her eyes closed as she held up her hand, blocking Spike’s
wrist, before he could hit her again.
How come things always ended up being so messed?
First there had been Wes, willing to torture the crap out of her…then he
had disappeared, she had made him go.
Screwing with her mind? Not too bright an idea…
And then she had started walking…and seeing things. Or had she dreamed of
walking as she saw those images? She wasn’t sure…
She couldn’t think about what she had seen…dreamed…experienced, that had
to wait for another moment. The only thing that mattered now was helping
Buffy, but first she had to open her eyes.
She forced her eyes open, the light in that room, was too bright, she had
to squint her eyes shut.
“Don’t you…” Buffy started in almost a panicked voice.
“Chill out, B.” She said in a husky voice, “I’m awake…but damn! Those
lights are way too bright…”
Yet she opened her eyes again, only to see Spike, kneeling in front of
her, his palm pressed against his forehead.
“Quite a headache are you, pet…” The blonde vampire said, looking at her.
“So I’m told…” She dryly said. She followed Spike’s eyes only to find out
that she was still grabbing the vampire’s wrist.
“Would you?” He asked.
She didn’t know what possessed her when she pushed him away, making him
fall flat on the floor.
She got up and looking at Buffy asked, “So, anyone wanna tell me what’s
going on here?”
Buffy sighed and Faith despite herself couldn’t help smiling a little
seeing the Slayer: she looked trashed, dark circles under her eyes, her
hair was a mess, a side of her face was dirty with what it looked like
mud…yet…there was something in her eyes, in her whole body, which made her
“Hey B. nice to see you by the way!” She said, meaning it.
Buffy nodded then said, “We don’t have much time now, Faith. Rupert should
wake up any minute now…we’re trying to break through the Council’s
brainwashing, but I need your help.”
Faith actually frowned at her words. Buffy needed her help?
Things were wicked seriously fucked up if Buffy was actually asking for
Brainwashing? Had she really talked about the Council brainwashing Giles?
Why would they do that? It didn’t matter, she decided, if there was
something she had learned the hard way about Buffy since they had met, was
that no one, could mess with her boyfriends…ever.
If the boyfriend in question was Giles, who had been one of the most
important people in Buffy’s life even before they got together…she could
only imagine the magnitude of Buffy’s wrath.
Those guys were *so* toast!
“The whelp needs help, let’s skip the kumbaja for now…”
Faith turned too look at Spike, who was checking on Xander: the
dark-haired boy was sitting on the floor, his lips pursed, his eyes open,
“What do you want me to do?” She asked, slowly turning to look at the
Seeing Xander like that, was creeping her out, which added to the general
uneasiness she had been experiencing next to Spike ever since she had
materialized to the beach, was saying something.
“What do you want me to do?” She repeated looking at her.
She crossed her arms over her chest, feeling Spike’s eyes on her. She
didn’t like him…didn’t…couldn’t let herself even near trusting him…not
when the images from her dreams kept replying themselves on her mind.
Not when she felt like crawling out her own skin for the weird vibes she
was getting from the blonde vampire. Yet it looked like everyone had
trusted Spike until that moment…including Buffy…and he seemed genuinely
concerned about Xander.
“Get close to her…” Spike said.
“That’s it?” Faith asked, “piece of…” she stopped when she realized that
she couldn’t move a muscle, “What-” She trailed. She looked down at her
legs: nothing was blocking them, yet she felt them wrapped in lead.
“B…can’t move…” she said, “what’s happening?”
“You can…” Was Spike’s reply. His voice was stern when he said, “You have
to. Don’t forget who you are, Faith”
Faith shot him an angered look. Who died and made him the boss? What the
hell was his problem?
Yet, she tried moving. It hurt…the muscles in her legs were burning with
the effort she was putting them through.
“Get close, ducks…” Spike said, “It works both ways…”
Faith looked at Buffy…she lightly shook her head no, before saying, “You
know what’s going to happen if I do…it will hurt you…”
“What’s she talking about?” She asked.
Buffy looked at her and Faith could see helplessness in her eyes. She
didn’t think she would ever live enough to see such a look in Buffy’s
“To make a long story short-,” Buffy said in a dry voice, “big invisible
shield thingy around you guys…I get close, you hurt…”
Faith cocked an eyebrow at her, “Sure about that? ‘Cause I didn’t feel a
It was Spike who spoke, saying, “That’s what we’re counting on, luv…”
“Spike…” Buffy started.
“Do it, ducks…before he wakes up…” The vampire said. No…he had basically
ordered her to.
Faith didn’t know if her perplexity showed on her face, it had to, at
least judging by Buffy’s words: “I will tell you, Faith, I promise…”
“Later” Faith said, managing a smile: “You said it, B! We don’t have much
Buffy nodded and took a deep breath before taking a step and a moment
later, she heard Giles’ moan, and Spike’s growl…and she didn’t need to
turn and see them to know they were both in pain…
It was coming to her in waves, cold waves that made her shiver.
Her eyes were fixed on Buffy’s...the blonde Slayer wasn’t really looking
at her. She was shutting everything out…blocking anyone, anything out,
focusing only on the task ahead.
“Try again” Spike told her, breaking her train of thoughts.
Faith nodded. It was still difficult for her to move, but now it was
different…she was being pushed back, it was like swimming against an
Spike who had just gotten close to her dropped on his knees when Buffy
took another step toward them, and Faith saw her blinking and closing her
eyes when Giles moaned.
“Don’t…bloody…do that,” Spike hissed and Faith was surprised realizing
they had been probably thinking the same thing. They had both thought
Buffy would stop.
Although it was clear it was taking all of his strength not to cry out in
pain, Faith heard Spike telling Buffy to keep walking, over and over.
She looked at him, and couldn’t help kneeling next to him, to try and help
him standing…she might not like him
She thought, but she couldn’t deny he was trying to help Buffy…
She couldn’t deny that he seemed to care about what was happening to them.
“Don’t-” Spike said in a shaky voice, “Move toward her…” he said.
Faith nodded at the vampire’s words, she slowly got up, and looked in
front of her: she hadn’t realized Buffy had gotten so close.
She was so close they could have…hugged each other.
Or kicked each other’s assess.
“What, now?” She asked, instead.
Buffy shrugged and moved her hands toward her, her palms up. She followed
Buffy’s gestures and couldn’t help whispering, “Son of a…” when she saw
orange sparks, cracking in front of her.
“Ready?” Buffy asked.
Faith smirked, “As ready as I’ll ever be”
She imitated Buffy’s gestures.
“Oh, my God” Faith whispered and she could hear Buffy whispering the same
thing. She sought Buffy’s hands and took them in hers, intertwining
The power…their power…it was there…it was them.
They were bathing in it.
Faith felt every particle of her being coming to life: every cell, every
pore, every breath she was taking was filling her with energy…their
energy…the power of the Slayer.
It was breathtaking…she could see them all, now…all her sisters of blood
and soul…she could feel them living again, once more in her skin…in her
It was so clear now…how her powers went beyond physical strength, how the
physical strength was actually just a shred of what it really meant to be
the Slayer, to be the Chosen One.
A Slayer was a warrior…a killer…a victim.
She was the Slayer, born out of darkness and light, daughter of Chaos and
She, Buffy Anne Summers, was the Slayer, the Chosen One. She had been
chosen, gifted with powers that were now filling her whole.
For a moment, Buffy saw them all: she saw the Slayer who had been chosen
before her, she had fought hard, until she had called her, with her dying
breath. She heard them; thousands of lives were passing through her eyes.
Life…and death, they were made out of it.
The Obscuritas…the darkness was part of her…it had always been, it would
always be…it was rooted in her; it was the mother of her own powers.
Yet, love, was the father.
And that’s was what she was looking for. She was looking for the father.
The other part of her.
The part that made her sane.
The part that made a Slayer, a force to be reckoned with for demons.
She looked for the father as she felt Faith’s life flowing into her, their
heartbeats similar, so similar to each other’s.
She could see the colors of Faith’s souls, blossoming under her eyes...it
was beautiful and pure…so pure.
The father…she was looking for the father, in a white, bright river of
strength and memories…love and pain.
The father…her love, her life.
She couldn’t see him…but she knew he was close, she could feel him. Never
had Buffy felt so close to someone as to Giles’ in that moment.
She touched him; touched his soul…and her body cried out in pain as she
felt the pain his soul had been enduring for her.
She loved him: body and soul, darkness and light…
“Rupert,” Her soul whispered, “come back to me…”
She knew her body was feeling pain, and that she had to get away from
there, from her own strength and powers before being burned to the core by
them…before she killed Faith and everyone else in the room.
Yet, she touched him again, whispering, “I love you…”
Only when did she open her eyes, feeling breathless, did she realize
She had touched Giles’ soul…but his hadn’t touched hers back.
Giles…her Giles hadn’t answered her.
She could barely stand on her legs. Buffy helped Faith by circling her
waist. The brunette Slayer staggered for a second, then she took a step
back, breaking their contact.
“What a trip…now what?” The brunette Slayer asked.
Buffy ignored her question, Spike had told her to use her own powers
against the shield…and try to reach Giles’…she had improvised, and judging
by the fact that she was touching Faith it looked like she had succeeded.
At least she hoped she had.
“Spike?” She asked. The blonde vampire was lying on the floor, “can you
“Loud and …too bloody clear…” He mumbled. He slowly got up, he was in his
game face, but she instinctively knew it had been a natural reaction to
what had happened. The vampire shook his head and a moment later he
returned to his human mask.
“Do you think the shield is still up?” Buffy asked.
“Only one way to find out…” Faith mumbled.
Spike shrugged at Faith’s words, “You heard the lady, ducks…”
Buffy took a step forward, part of her afraid that, despite everything
they had just done, she was still going to be thrown back by the barrier
and that her friends, once again, were going to be hurt by her powers. She
smiled when she passed through the shield, and saw that both Faith and
Spike were doing the same.
She scanned the room with her eyes: Xander was still sitting on the floor,
his eyes still open, yet she knew he wasn’t really there, he was lost
somewhere inside of himself…
Giles was still lying on the floor, she could see his face more clearly
now: he was still very pale, but looked calmer, now...almost peaceful.
She was afraid…of what was going to happen, she was afraid she had failed
Giles, once again. She was afraid of what Spike had told her…and was
terrified about the things he hadn’t told her.
Faith got close to her asking, “How do you feel?
Buffy looked at the brunette slayer. She had indeed, changed, she had had
a glimpse of her soul…but she shouldn’t have needed seeing it…the changes
she had gone through were on her face, in the way she moved…in the way she
talked. She was a different woman, different from the girl she had faced
on the roof of Angel’s building what it seemed a life ago.
“A little better, I guess…” She mumbled, managing a little smile.
“Cool” Faith said, she pointed with a finger to Giles, and said, “’Cause I
think he’s waking up…”
Buffy looked at the man in front of her; he had moved, he had still his
eyes closed, but he was awake, she could tell it by the way the lines on
his face had hardened…and besides she had spent enough nights watching him
sleeping for the past months that she would have immediately recognized
“Cover my back…” She whispered.
“What…” Faith said.
“Do what she is telling, luv…” Spike said.
Giles’ chuckles interrupted Spike, and Buffy couldn’t help swallowing past
the sudden and painful lump in her throat.
She watched him open his eyes and then turn his head to look at her.
<Those aren’t his eyes>
She didn’t step back, though. She kept looking at him as he slowly got on
his feet and took a step toward her. She was right…never she had seen such
a look into Giles’ eyes: it was dark, it was the look of a dangerous
Buffy realized she was afraid. Fir the first time since she had met him,
that afternoon in the high-school library, she was afraid of him…of what
he was about to do, of what he represented.
“Rupert?” She called.
A smile crept on her watcher’s lips. He tilted his head on a side and
softly said, “Yes, Buffy?”
Buffy couldn’t keep her eyes off of him. She wasn’t even aware of the
other people in the room, any more. There was only Giles; whose eyes were
boring into hers, whose smile almost looked like a mockery of the gentle
one she knew.
<Have I ever told him how much I love his smile? >
She silently wondered for a second.
<Will I ever have the chance to? >
She shook her head, trying to ignore how much Giles’ smile, in that moment
reminded her of Angelus’ cruel smirk, the morning he had shattered her
“Are you…alright?” She eventually asked. It had taken a moment for her to
trust her voice, again.
Again, Giles chuckled and Buffy hated that sound. She hated what it was
doing to the already frantic beating of her heart.
“Actually-” He said, “I’m surprisingly good. I’m free…”
Buffy frowned at the man’s words. Despite what her instinct was telling
her to do, she took a step forward, toward him.
“Free?” She asked.
“Yes, Buffy…” He said, replicating her gestures. He shortened the distance
between them. He looked at her before adding, “For the first time, in such
a long time I am free…”
“B. don’t get too close to him!” Buffy heard Faith saying, somewhere
behind her. It was all becoming a blur for her.
Was it Giles who was talking to her? Was it his voice?
It couldn’t be…Giles would never look at her like he was doing. He would
never use that tone of voice: so cold, so…impersonal.
“Buffy!” She dimly heard Spike shouting.
It was too late, though. Giles’ closed fist violently connected with her
chin, making her staggering back, while white stars of pain, exploded
behind her eyes.
“Free” He repeated.
Buffy looked at him, her heart beating so fast in her heart that it was
hurting for her to breathe.
She didn’t remember ever feeling that kind of pain, she felt blood on her
mouth, where Giles’ ring had pierced the tender skin of her lower lip.
She had always known Giles was strong: he was her watcher, he had trained
her, he knew her weaknesses.
Giles knew how to hit her.
He knew how to hurt her.
“You should have listened to them, Buffy” Giles said, “But listening to
other people has never been one of your strengths, doesn’t it?”
She didn’t even recognize his voice, now. Yet, she said in a low voice,
“Rupert…don’t do that.”
“Don’t do what?” He asked. He closed the distance between them, and hit
her, again. “Hitting you?” He continued, “Why shouldn’t I? After all, from
what I’ve been able to gather from your disastrous record in
relationships, this is some kind of tradition for you.” He smiled at her
when he said, “Should I remind you about Angelus, dear?” He hit her, again
as he softly said, “As I previously said, I’m free. Pay attention!”
Buffy felt numb. She didn’t even feel the pain. This couldn’t be happening
to them…she shook her head. She had been so sure that she had touched his
“Rupert” She whispered, “It’s not you…you’re stronger than this…”
He attempted to hit her, again, this time, though she was able to dodge
his punch. She took a step back repeating, “It’s. Not. You”
“On the contrary” Giles replied, his smile pouring ice into her veins as
he said, “It’s me, Buffy. It’s Rupert. I want you to keep this in mind!”
Buffy closed her eyes.
She had failed. She hadn’t been able to save Giles.
The only thing she could do, was trying to protect herself and her baby.
“He has started” Was the only thing Maximillian said.
“Very good.” Daniel replied. He took a seat on one of the chairs before
asking, “How about the others?”
“Except for the boy they are all awake,” Maximillian replied.
Daniel took a look at Charles, who was still sitting in a corner of the
room. He wasn’t looking at them; he was apparently lost in thought.
“How are the shields holding up?” He asked, turning his attention to the
blond, exhausted man, still sitting within the pentacle.
“No changes, Sir,” He said, “Should I exit the pentacle, now and prepare
for the next phase?”
Daniel took a look at the crystals on the floor, they were still glowing,
one of them almost blinding in its intensity.
“We will have time for the second phase, I want you to stay there” Daniel
Maximillian nodded at his words, and closed his eyes, as he kept waving
his hands over the crystals.
“You know?” Charles suddenly said, “The Slayer asked me what it felt like
to be a monster…she knew about the Obscuritas…and was afraid of it…”
He got up and took a look around, “She told me she knew what it was
like…because she had looked at one straight in the eyes…” He swallowed and
looking at him said, “I can’t help concurring with her.”
“We are doing the right thing Mr. Dutton…”
“Are we?” He asked. “You are forcing a man to kill the woman he loves…his
own child…and that would be the right thing?”
“When we come back, you will have plenty of time to discuss the procedure
with our peers. You will need to…”
Charles shook his head and went to one of the windows. It had been
covered, yet they could clearly hear the furious tickling of the rain. It
hadn’t stopped raining for over a hour.
“How long?” Charles asked.
Daniel took a look at Maximillian, who let out a sigh before saying, “Not
much…the energies are changing…”
They were close to the end. He had been waiting for that moment for hours,
yet, he was almost afraid now.
Afraid of what they would see once they entered the room.
Afraid of Charles’ words.
He was afraid the Council had indeed become worse than the demons they had
been fighting for millennia.