3 Days Later…
Giles looked at the gathered group of children in his living room. [No, not children. Not anymore. They're all adults now, but even still today will be hard for them once they learn about Oz...]
“I’m sure you’re wondering why I've called a meeting while Buffy and Faith are still in the hospital. We’ve found some information that has not been nor will it be released to the Police or the public beyond those in this group. As some of you know, the creature that attacked Faith and Buffy was found dead at the house. What you may not know is that the creature was in fact, Oz.” Giles raised his hands to calm Willow’s outcry for answers.
ut that thing that attacked Buffy and Faith didn’t look anything like Oz when he turned into a werewolf! And...and it’s weeks till the next full moon!! No! That was not Oz, you’re wrong Giles!” Willow said angrily.
Xander turned to face his friend and spoke up, “Will, I saw the body at the house. It was Oz. Something must have happened to him...”
“Something did happen to him Xander, the question is what though. Our only clue are two tattoos on his left arm; one was the Greek symbol for OMEGA and the other looked like a serial number,”
Willow leapt up, anger darkening her features, her green eyes flashing. “What are you saying Giles?!? That he was experimented on??? That we has some sort of freakin’ LAB EXPERIMENT??!!??” Willow yelled as tears fell down her face.
Tara had come up behind Willow and now put her arms around her waist and pulled her close, holding her.
The front door burst inwards and a smoking figure burst into the room coughing as it threw the smoldering blanket off of it and onto the floor where smoke continued to rise from it. The blanket gone, the figure was revealed. “That’s actually right Red,” said a voice with a British accent. “He was a lab experiment, just like I was.” Spike answered.
Giles walked over and looked closely at the tattoo for several seconds. “It does appear to be similar, however you only have one. Why would Oz have a second tattoo?”
Spike pulled out a cigarette and lit it, “From what I heard while I was there, he may have been put into one of their special programs. Don’t know much about them though. Just glad to be out of there!!” Spike took a long drag on his cigarette and let the smoke out slowly.
Rage flooded Willow as she heard what Spike was telling them, “I’ll kill them. No, I won’t kill them, I’ll let Buffy do that! I’ll just torture them to death.” Willow murmured.
“Before you go and hunt them down Little Tree, you might want to see this...” Spike said as he pulled out a wallet and tossed it to Willow. “You see Buffy’s little boy-toy, Riley, was one of them. The Initiative boys club and all that.”
Willow opened the wallet and found a military ID as well as a blank, white keycard with a magnetic strip. Pulling both out Willow slid them into her pants pocket. Seeing nothing else of interest except for a folded piece of paper Willow pocketed it and tossed the wallet on the ground.
Taking another long drag on his cigarette Spike finished it. Looking around he didn’t see any ashtrays and put the cigarette out on the bottom of his shoe, pocketing the stub. “Well there’s also this Red; a) Riley called in for help and b) you've got other problems, like that their little Frankenstein monster got away and is the one that sent something to kill Buffy.”
“What are you talking about Spike?” Giles asked. “What Frankenstein monster? Are you saying the Initiative didn’t send Oz after Joyce and Buffy to kill them?”
Spike raised his hands up, “Hey old chap. I’m not saying they didn’t want the Slayer. Just that they didn’t send that “thing” after her. Besides, a bodies got to eat you know and fresh kittens aren’t cheap!!”
Ripper grabbed Spike and slammed him into the wall several times, stunning the bleach-blond vampire. “Now is not the time to be playing games with me Spike! Tell me what you know or I will turn you into a dusty memory right now!”
“HEY!! Ease off the clothing guv’ner. Okay fine! Just relax your tweedy self already!” Spike replied more worried than he'd let on. “All I know is that something happened and their little monster get set loose. Riley wanted to have something called an F.A.E dropped on us, but he got refused.”
“A WHAT!!!" Xander exclaimed. "Are you sure about that Spike? He said F.A.E.??”
“Yeah I'm sure. I can spell you know, I even went to college. Unlike some people in this room.”
Joyce looked over at Xander's worried face and spoke up for the first time, “Xander why are you so upset by that fae thing?”
“Mrs. S., a F.A.E isn’t anything you kid about. The F.A.E stands for Fuel Air Explosion and it’s basically equal to a nuclear bomb only minus the radiation. If they dropped one on Sunnydale they wouldn't even find your ashes to bury.”
Faces turned white at Xander's explanation of what it was Riley tried doing.
“Ahem yes.” Giles cleared his throat.
Walking over towards the front door Willow headed out of the living room. “Giles I have to go. I'm gonna see what I can dig up on Riley and his little tin-soldiers, I'll let you know what I found out.” Willow opened the door and headed out, Tara was only a few seconds behind her.
With Willow’s departure each of the Scoobs made their way out until only Giles and Joyce remained.
“Joyce, don't worry. We'll stop them before they can do anything to hurt Buffy.”
Joyce leaned into Giles and held him briefly, “I know, but I can’t help worrying about my little girl Rupert. How many times has she been in the hospital over some injury or another?"
“Too many, but Buffy's almost the oldest Slayer ever Joyce. She’ll get through this with our help.”
“But someday she won't though, sometime she'll wind up dead in the end.”
Giles held Joyce in his arms and stayed silent. There wasn’t anything he could say to her, because Joyce was right and someday, probably soon Buffy would be dead and there was nothing he could do.
Sunnydale Regional Hospital
Later that afternoon…
Buffy sat in the wheel chair as Anya rolled her down the hallway towards the main entrance for the hospital. “So tell me again why you’re driving me home and not Mom.”
“Simple, your mom is tied up with her Gallery exhibit and Giles is looking at becoming un-unemployed so I volunteered.” Anya answered simply.
Buffy snorted as they crossed the exit to the hospital and stopped in front of a new 2001 blue Toyota Camry.
“Time to exit Buffy. Get in the car.”
10 minutes later Buffy found herself alive and back at the 2-bedroom apartment Anya lived in with Xander.
After she saw Buffy was stretched out on the couch comfortably, Anya sat down on the far end of the couch near Buffy's feet. “So, I’m sure you've had time to think about what I told you. So do you have any questions you want to ask me?" Anya said with a serious look on her face.
“Yeah I do. Tell me about this Xena person. Why haven’t I heard of her before, she’s not in any of the books or Slayer diaries I've read.”
“She’s not the type to get talked about much. People who do, well lets just say they don't live long, fruitful lives. Hell, D’Hoffryn doesn’t even know much about her. But I do know a little.”
“Okay, so give then. What is she then?”
“Xena’s a Bacchae and as far as I know she’s been alive for over 2,000 years. She’s a very private person, as you can see. No demon would ever cross her or her mate's path unintentionally or not.”
Buffy’s face scrunched up, “What’s a bacchae?” Buffy asked.
“Oh that’s right you wouldn’t have heard of them. They’re actually a lot like vampires except for 1 major difference. A vampire loses its’ soul when the human is turned, a Bacchae doesn’t. There are a few other differences like they can shapeshift, they like sunrises and standard vamp stuff like crosses, garlic and holy water if you use them they get to make toothpicks, get bad breath and quench their thirst for water when they’re thirsty.”
Anya rolled her eyes melodramatically, “Bacchae don’t have problems with Crosses, Garlic or Holy Water Buffy. Those things bother them about as much a they would your average human, which is to say not.”
“oh...OH!!!!!” Buffy exclaimed as what Anya said finally sank in.
“Then how do you kill them then?”
“You don’t! Look Buffy, what I’m telling you now isn’t so that you can get yourself killed trying to go up against Xena or her mate Gab! You wouldn’t last 2 seconds against her. I’m trying to tell you that Bacchae aren’t like vampires. About the only thing they have in common is both need blood, but that’s where the similarities stop.”
“Okay then, what’s with this little disc thingy she left for me?”
“That’s her personal token. She’s been known to give it out only rarely and only if she’s warning you she’s on a blood debt for you or that she wants to talk to you. And the latter has only happened once before, with the Slayer I told you about in London in 1666.”
“So what am I supposed to do with this thing then? It's not like it came with an instruction manual.”
“What have I been telling you Buffy?” Anya shook her in an annoyed gesture. Pulling out a pin she grabbed Buffy’s hand, pricked it and squeezed it to make the blood well up. Then Anya took Buffy’s hand and rubbed the blood onto the Chakram. As she did so the token absorbed the blood and started to glow softly.
“Wow! Okay so what now?” Buffy asked.
“It’s a Key Buffy. Now that its activated it’ll lead you to her so you can talk.”
Buffy dragged her eyes away from the token and looked up at Anya. “I want you to tell me exactly why I couldn’t tell Giles about this and don’t tell me you don't know.”
Throwing her hands up, “I DON’T know. I doubt anyone except Xena and the Council know. I just know what happened what happened to that one Slayer who she did try to talk to...”
“Come on Anya, you have to have heard something. I can’t just walk in there blind...”
“You’re not going in blind Buffy, she’s not going to kill you. She had her chance to do that 3 days ago and instead she left this because she wanted to talk. It wasn’t Xena that killed the Slayer, it was the Council, that I do know. But if she’s going to kill you, she’ll give you fair warning first unless you go after her.”
“So are you going to go see her tonight?”
Buffy thought about her options for a minute, “I might as well hear what she has to say. It’s not like it can hurt, besides I think I’ll ask her what it is she hates about the Council. The old “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.
Later That Night…
Buffy moved out thru the window of the Giles' guest bedroom and onto a tree branch, hopping down she landed quietly and started walking. Pulling out the token she watched it start to glow brightly when she moved closer and dim when she headed away. [Hmmm, interesting little thing.] Reaching the outskirts of Sunnydale Buffy saw a small house down the road, pointing the token at it she watched it glow brightly. [Well I guess that's my destination.]
As she passed a small grove of trees, Buffy saw a short, slim blonde woman sitting down under one of the trees. Stopping short Buffy walked over towards her. “Hi. Do you live out here?”
The woman opened her eyes and Buffy saw she had friendly, sea-green eyes. “Yes I do. But I was actually waiting for you to arrive Buffy.”
Buffy stepped back as she heard the woman utter her name and felt herself tense.
Raising her hands, “Hey it’s okay. I'm not here to hurt you or anything. My name's Gabrielle,” she stuck her hand out towards the young Slayer.
Buffy looked at the woman and her hand for several seconds and then put her hand out to shake “Gabrielle’s” but instead Gabrielle’s hand clasped her forearm firmly and then released her.
“Come on. I’ll walk you over to the house. Xena’s just finishing dinner.”
Gabrielle felt Buffy hesitate, “Chicken, she’s having blackened chicken for dinner. What did you think I meant?”
Seeing the look of discomfort on Buffy's face Gabrielle tried to smother her laugh that just bubbled out of her.
“Oh good Gods!” Gabrielle chuckled. “Sometimes I forget, sorry.”
Buffy started walking again next to Gabrielle, the closer she got to the house the faster her heart beat. She couldn't figure out if she wanted to run or hit something she felt so nervous suddenly.
Gabrielle noticed the ashen look on the Slayer's face and mentally slapped herself forgetting to lower her Protection Wards. Quickly she drew a symbol in the air, which glowed briefly and disappeared and she felt the Wards power fade.
Buffy took a deep breath as she felt the urge to run fade away.
“Sorry about that. I forgot to lower my Protection Wards and since they're designed to keep people away, that's why you started to feel panicky.”
“Uhh, wow! Are you a Wicca then? 'Cause I know Will would love to talk to you about those.”
“No I’m not a...Wicca you called her? No. But I’m sure we’d still have quite a lot in common to talk about.”
Just then Buffy saw a tall dark-haired woman with piercing blue eyes walk out of the house. She was dressed in black jeans and a cotton, burgundy short- sleeved shirt.
Buffy felt the waves of power wash over her from this woman. “Well I'm betting you're Xena, right?” Buffy quipped.
Smiling, “Buffy, welcome. I’m glad you came. Why don’t we sit down and we can talk. I’m fairly certain you have a few questions for me.” Buffy watched as Xena walked over to three chairs that were setup off to the left and sat down gesturing her to the other chair. Buffy hesitated and saw Gabrielle walk past her and sit down in the chair next to Xena, Gabrielle’s arm now draped over Xena’s shoulders.”
[Well I'm here. In for a penny, in for a pound as Giles would say.] With that Buffy walked over and sat down in the chair across from Xena.
“Okay, so why would you want to help me, wouldn’t it be to your benefit if I’m dead?”
A dark look flew across Xena’s features and disappeared back into her friendly face. “No I’d actually prefer if you didn’t die.”
“Yeah, but you haven't told me why,” Buffy asked again.
“No I haven’t.” Xena stated slightly stiffly.
Buffy watched as Gabrielle began to gently rub circles on Xena’s back. “But I’m told your help comes at a price.”
Xena’s eyebrow raised slightly, “Yes.” she answered. “You obviously know something about me though. That’s good.” Xena said with smile.
Buffy frowned, “But you’re not going to tell me what the price is are you?” She stated more than asked.
“No. But the price for my help will be yours and yours alone to pay. No one else may suddenly step in. If you want my help, you will pay whatever the price is. No one else.”
“So my friends won’t be hurt by my paying this “price”? And I’m not killing anyone or being sacrificed?”
Xena leaned back and laughed, smiling broadly, “No. You won’t be sacrificed or killing anyone. And your friends will not be involved in any way with this. They will be safe. You have my word on that.” Xena finished with a serious look.
"Okay. But I’m not saying yes or no. I need time to think about it."
"That's fine. Whenever you are ready to tell me what you decide come see me. My token will lead you back here."
"I do need to know something though, did you kill the Slayer in London?"
Xena’s features turned dark and Buffy suddenly felt fear at the look on Xena's face. “No, I didn’t kill Sierra. But the bastards who did paid for what they did.” Xena’s voice was low and dark.
“Who told you about Sierra?” Xena asked suspiciously. “Was it your Watcher?” Xena asked scornfully.
“Uh no.” Buffy replied uneasily at Xena's sudden change, now Buffy felt a darkness rolling off of Xena that scared her. “Giles doesn't know, no-one does. A friend told me about her or what she knew at least.”
Shifting her position in the chair, Buffy knew she could respond if Xena turned violent *and* she'd have her answer about her as well. Buffy thought wryly. “So who did kill her then and why? And why does the Council hate you so much?”
Xena bounced to her feet in a blur of motion, “Why don't you ask your precious *Watcher* who killed and raped Sierra!!! Oh I got the bastards that did that to her, just not their masters!!”
Buffy felt the fury pouring off of Xena in palpable waves and felt herself pale, but her mind was too shocked to react. Finally Buffy rocketed to her feet, standing only inches from Xena, "But...that's insane!!! Even for the Council!!" Buffy yelled back
Buffy saw Gabrielle place her hand on Xena's back and the tension seemed to lower suddenly as Xena turned and started to walk away. Stopping after walking a few steps, Xena turned sideways, facing Buffy. Her eyes were narrowed, showing only slits of cobalt blue. "Is it?" Xena bit off before turning around and disappearing into the darkness.
“Is it really? What about the Cruciamentum Buffy, was that sane to have you locked up with a vampire? Gabrielle asked her.
Buffy shook her head, "No, it's not." Shifting her attention to Gabrielle, "But to do that..."
“It’s not the first or last time they’ll murder one of their own when they feel threatened Buffy.”
"But why blame Xena, they could have just said she died fighting vamps!”
"I don't have an answer that will really give you what you want right now. Right now you have a lot to think about." Gabrielle stood up and Buffy followed her as she started walking.
"Go home and think about what we've said. If you really, truly trust this Watcher of yours then talk to them. But I beg you to be careful if you do, if you are wrong...." Gabrielle let the rest hang.
"Alright. Is she gonna be okay? She's in a nasty funk right now."
"Yeah," Gabrielle smiled gently. "She just needs to work off her anger and she'll be good."
"How's Joyce doing?" Gabrielle asked.
"Uhmm, she's fine." Buffy answered, confused by this weird change the conversation had taken.
"Good. Tell her I'll call her later this week. I've missed her."
Buffy’s eyebrows shot up, "Huh?? I thought you weren't serious about knowing Mom."
"Oh no, I've known Joyce since her college days. That's where we met." Gabrielle smiled.
Gabrielle continued walking with Buffy, "Xe told me about your fight with that Werewolf."
"I just did what I had to, besides Xena killed it."
Gabrielle touched Buffy's shoulder, "Killing is never easy, not even after 2,000 years of living."
"But what you did to protect her was more though." Buffy frowned with a confused look on her face.
"Her?" Buffy asked.
"Faith, the woman you love of course!"
"Oh no," Buffy put her hands up, "Faith and I aren't like that..."
Gabrielle just smiled. "I used to say that exact same thing about me and Xena. Don't let something like gender stop you from seeing what's right in front of you Buffy." Gabrielle stopped walking, "You're about 10 minutes from home from here. And just think about what we've both told you."
End Chapter 9