--- Thirty years later ---
A monstrous crack, as loud as thunder, in her ears, and a short flash of enormous pain in the neck were the last things she was aware of, before she felt the world around her disappear.
With a gasp, Buffy Summers awoke and opened her eyes wide. Anxiety made her stomach tense up. She panted. But she realized that her familiar room surrounded her and she saw morning light shine through the shutters of her window. Slowly the tension eased off.
In her dream, she had just witnessed strange events from the distant past. Yet she was aware that she had seen parts of this before – just the other night, in fact; and that other dream had been most revealing. As the slayer, Buffy had often drawn from the experiences of all her predecessors, from their memories that she had inherited at the moment she was called. Those were not always accessible of course, and mostly fuzzy. But every now and then, bits of them came up during confrontations – the memory of a fight, the remembering of a movement that could save her, or of an attack strategy that could be expected from her adversary; and more than once such recollections had helped her to keep the upper hand.
On rare occasions though, the images from the past were so intense that a whole story rolled off before her eyes. When that happened, she could even recall a former slayer’s emotions, her fear, her anxiety, her triumphant joy. This had usually occurred when Buffy had faced a major challenge herself, but it had never been so vivid like in this dream and in the one from the night before. But then, she had never had to fight a slayer-turned-vampire before.
It had only been days ago when she had found out about Yuki Makimura, the only slayer who had ever succumbed to an existence as a blood-sucking creature and had been erased from the Watchers Council’s official records. On her first encounter with that obnoxious woman Buffy had taken a rough beating. She had learned that Yuki was a dangerous enemy and that she would need all the help she could get in order to defeat her. And then help had come from the past.
The other night she had observed Yuki Makimura fighting again and again in her dream. Sometimes she watched her battling a demon or a giant ugly monster somewhere in the woods; sometimes Buffy fought directly against her. No – not Buffy, but another slayer in another time who had had to face the same evil threat. Through the eyes of that long gone young woman she had got the chance to study the slayer-vampire, learn her tricks and skills and, most important, find her weakness.
As this past night had fallen, Buffy had got to test these new insights the hard way, when she had to stop Yuki from raising the Master, her creator and the most ancient and dangerous of all vampires, and from sacrificing Buffy’s friend Xander in the process. Once more, the events of this night had brought Sunnydale and her own life, as well as those of her friends and her sister, into mortal danger. Yet once more they had prevailed. Defeating the ex-slayer had been tough, but Buffy found that Yuki’s weakness had remained the same – pride. Not being quite as disciplined as she thought herself to be, the vampire had once again let down her guard while she droned on about her supposed superiority. With her hand on Buffy’s throat, she had talked drivel for a moment too long, not watching her adversary’s hands; and so a stake in her heart had turned the vampire that had once been a slayer into dust.
After this hard fight, Buffy had wished for nothing more than a long, deep sleep. Instead, the images from the past had returned, assembling themselves with other memories into a tale. Unlike the night before, she had not just seen fights, but witnessed the echo of the last days in the life of the slayer who had confronted Yuki before. And that confrontation had been intense. Buffy remembered vividly the emotional turmoil within the girl. She recollected moments of happiness and stirringly erotic bliss, but also of abandonment and mortal fear. Some details remained unclear to her, but it was obvious that her predecessor had fallen victim to a masterly executed plot; and though the girl nearly had gained the upper hand after all, finally the slayer-vampire had brought about her downfall.
Though agitated by the dream, Buffy still felt whacked from her own fight against Yuki Makimura. And with the new insight of how devious and rogue her defeated enemy really had been, she felt more than entitled to have a good day’s rest. Slowly she sank back into sleep…
…and found herself in front of a face from her own past that made her blood freeze in an instant. With sheer horror she saw the Master standing in front of her, smiling grimly into her face. Buffy tried desperately to back off, but she saw that she was trapped in a dark unpaved alley, between odd-looking houses with earthen walls between frameworks of timber. At the same time she noticed that her body felt transformed, taller and leaner than it used to be. Stumbling away from the horrifying foe, she also got aware that she was wearing an unfamiliar dress cut in a style she had never worn before. Looking at her unusually pale hands, Buffy finally understood that she was once again reliving images from another slayer’s past. And from the surroundings, the dress and her body shape she knew easily whose past it was.
Knowing that it was yet another dream made her calm down a little, even if it still gave her the goose bumps to stand in front of the Master. But as her own panic subsided, Buffy felt the mortal fear of Yuki Makimura, the vampire slayer, who was just about to lose her final fight against an enemy she was not able to stand up to. “I don’t want to die”, Buffy heard a voice whimper in a foreign language in her head, as the Master’s hand closed around her throat.
In an instant the image of the vampire dissolved, together with the alley and its wooden houses. For some moments, Buffy was floating without orientation through a realm of undistinguished forms and colors, but she felt mostly relieved for escaping the unpleasant scene and the memory of her most horrifying enemy. Then slowly the shapes became more solid and she found herself sitting on moist, soft floor and, to her comfort, in her own body.
It was still night and completely dark, but for the light that came from the silvery moon high above her. In its glow Buffy could recognize treetops on the other side of a small pond which lay in front of her and reflected the pale light idyllically. On both its banks frogs performed their polyphonic concert.
“Rana clamitans melanota, the northern green frog”, a female voice sounded from her right side. “They mate at ponds like these at this time of the year.” Buffy whirled her head around. Not far from her she saw a girl sitting cross-legged in the grass. She was young, maybe around eighteen, with dark blond hair and a well-trained, yet curvy body. She gave Buffy a friendly smile that had an air of sadness.
“You are the slayer from my dream”, Buffy guessed, feeling rather certain about this assumption. “Your name is…Julie, right?” The girl nodded.
“You were the one who fought Yuki before.”
“I did”, Julie confirmed.
“In that case I have to be really grateful. It was a hard fight, but with your memories in my head, I could finish that bloody bitch.”
The girl flinched a bit, and Buffy wished she had chosen less flippant words. The Japanese vampire had been that slayer’s nemesis after all.
“I am glad I could be of help”, Julie said. It sounded honest, but cheerless. “So she’s dead?”
“Yes”, Buffy confirmed.
“After all”, the other girl replied. She gazed ahead, lost in thought.
Buffy felt a desperate urge to change the topic. She looked around.
“This place – it’s like I’ve seen it before. Was it in your dream? I mean – rather my dream, the earlier dream, which then is your memory. Ah, I get a headache! – Wait, yes, I remember! You’ve been here with Yuki. It’s the pond where the two of you…oh! Oh!”
Buffy felt her cheeks getting warm. Did she blush? Was it even possible to blush in a dream?
Julie still seemed absentminded. “Yes”, she finally answered. “It’s the place where I spent the happiest night of my life.” She looked down sadly.
“And all this time since you passed away, you’ve been here?” Buffy inquired sympathetically.
Julie looked at her in astonishment. “How’s that? I’m just a dream vision. Or do you think that I’m a ghost?”
“Ah, I don’t know…” Buffy was puzzled. “These supernatural questions are really not for me. I usually let Giles find out which kind of phenomenon I have to deal with. No offence…”
“Ah yes, your watcher. And your friend. One of your friends. Giles, Willow, Xander…Your approach is really remarkable. You’re not carrying it all alone. You formed a team and they support you. You’re one lucky slayer, Buffy Summers!”
Before Buffy could answer, the other girl continued, “I’m afraid I was not so smart in that regard. The only time when I teamed up with someone, she turned out to be a vampire maniac. Isn’t that pathetic?” She snorted scornfully. “She succeeded in making me trust her, but the whole time she just mocked me.”
“I’m not so sure about that”, Buffy said, nearly as much to her own surprise as to Julie’s. The girl looked at her uncomprehendingly.
“Maybe she really did fall for you. I mean, in this particular perverted vampire ‘I love to kill you’ – kind of way. Just think about it! First she wanted to make you her eternal companion, and after you ran away, she only wanted to kill you once for all. Sounds a lot like spurned love to me.”
Ignoring Julie’s frowning, she spoke on, as a bundle of whole new images emerged from the depths of her mind. “For all her arrogance, she must have been impressed by your courage, by the way you faced perdition with much more resolve than she had done back then when she was the slayer. Julie, deep inside she knew that she had not had your strength.”
“How would you know about her slayer days?” the other girl inquired. Her eyes suddenly opened wide. “You really can’t know. Unless…”
“…I have her memories. Yes, I see them ever more clearly now. I know that no slayer could access them so far. But now Yuki’s vampire existence has ended; that must be the reason that her experiences and feelings suddenly appear in that great slayer movie show in my head.” Buffy contemplated her earlier vision. “Just before I came here, I watched her final fight as the slayer, in some dark alley in Japan. She was killed and turned by a particular horrifying vampire.” She paused and shivered, remembering her own deadly fight against the Master.
“You might have thought that she chose to become a vampire in order to be that uberslayer that she bragged about being. But in fact she was just too weak and too scared of dying to resist.” Buffy closed her eyes and concentrated on the echoes from the young Japanese girl who had lived and died two hundred years ago. “I felt your loneliness, Julie, but now I gather that Yuki’s despair was much worse when she was still alive and breathing. I feel her deep sadness as a kid. It seems she was an early orphaned child. I see her being taken to an uncanny place by a scary, insensitive man. I gather he was her watcher.” She frowned as more images came up. “He trained her in fighting and slaying, but without any consideration for her emotional or physical limits. Poor girl! She yearned for someone to connect to, to ease her forlornness, but her watcher would not allow her any social interactions. And when she faced her end in that dark alley, she felt not ready to go. Geez! That’s how the Master could reach her and persuade her to become a vampire. He didn’t promise her power – he promised her a life!”
Julie stared at her in consternation. “I had no idea”, she said finally. “But you only know how she felt when she was human, right? How would you know whether the vampire still felt isolated?”
“You’re right”, Buffy answered, “I do not have vampire Yuki’s memories. And to be honest, I’m rather glad if they stay out of my mind. Understanding your enemy is fine, but I can do without too much deranged vampire crap in my head. But I have learned that there is always some influence of the earlier human personality on the motivations and obsessions of a vampire. Honestly, considering all I see and feel from the girl Yuki, I have no doubt that vampire Yuki really was attracted to you. Maybe she wasn’t even aware of it herself, but I think she saw parts of her earlier self in you, and maybe some afterglow of that person deep within the monster admired you for the way you would not succumb to your loneliness.”
Buffy watched the other girl who gazed into the dark with watery eyes, seeming deeply lost in her thoughts for minutes. Then Julie finally turned to her, and Buffy saw a faint smile appear on her face.
“I wish I had known her”, she said thoughtfully, “the real her, I mean. The unhappy young woman. But there wasn’t a chance, was there? We were centuries apart.” She sighed. “I envy you for her memories, Buffy.”
Buffy pondered over a reply when she suddenly became aware of some motion in the direction of the pond. She turned her head and saw the shape of a tall, pale person standing in the water. The slayer tensed instinctively when she recognized the woman with whom she had fought to the death just hours ago. But as she got a closer look at Yuki’s face, she saw nothing of the vampire’s grim bloodlust. Instead, her face displayed confusion and insecurity, as she waited there motionless, naked and up to her hips in the pond. Buffy understood that it was the image of the human Yuki, eyeing them, or rather just Julie, with a shy and somehow apologetic smile.
Buffy looked at the blond girl’s reaction. Julie had gotten up to her feet and stared at the phantom with open mouth. Her body was tense and she trembled slightly. For a long time she seemed to fight a silent internal fight. Ultimately she answered Yuki’s smile. Apparently forgetting about Buffy and everything else around her, Julie undressed and walked into the water. The dark-haired girl watched her approaching and her smile became joyful. Finally Julie reached her and seized her arm. The girls embraced and their lips met in an eternal kiss.
As she felt the nightly forest dissolving, and her mind returning from the realm of dreams to the reality of her Sunnydale life, it occurred to Buffy that the image of these two lovers’ kiss, seen through her eyes, would also forever remain a part of the memories that were passed on from one slayer to the next.
DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fanfiction and serves no commercial purpose. I neither possess nor claim any rights to BUFFY, THE VAMPIRE SLAYER or anything connected with it that is under copyright protection. This refers also to the character of Yuki Makimura, which has been introduced by Tom Fassbender and Jim Pascoe in the Comic book "False Memories", published at Dark Horse Comics.
When I wrote this story, I tried not to contradict established Buffyverse canon. Any inconsistencies have to be judged under the first rule of Whedonites: "Joss is boss." ;-)