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Chapter Text

(Minutes from weekly Scooby meeting, as transcribed by Willow Rosenberg)
Thursday, September 16, 2005

Minutes seconded for official record by Rupert Giles, Watcher

Scoobies present: Buffy, Xander, Andrew, Dawn, Giles, Kennedy and Miss Rosenberg. Also present, but in a self-labeled advisory capacity, William, formerly the Bloody, a.k.a. Spike.

Motion made by Andrew to include white board and markers in weekly meetings. Motion emphatically denied.

Topic presented by Rupert Giles: Slayer school in Paris (that's Naomi and Dominique's school) requested extra recruits sent to bolster their ranks, as there has been extra demon activity with the nearing of holiday season. Motion made by Buffy to send Rita Bellamy. Motion seconded by Giles.

Motion disputed by Kennedy. Argued that Rita lacks sufficient training. K. wants noted for the record that Rita is (so far) only student from Summers School to pass her trial & is therefore necessary to keep in ranks for training purposes.

Motion put to a vote – Rita to Paris: Carried. 5 to 1, with K. the only nay vote and Spike abstaining.

Motion presented by Buffy for allotting extra training time to Kennedy for Carmen, Renee, and Althea with express focus on heavy weapons. K. stated 'that's more the hell like it.'

Motion made then by K. to have Buffy and Giles let the rest of us in on their BIG SECRET PLANS. Buffy & Giles denied such plans were secret. Willow (me) made a statement on behalf of Watcher and Slayer basically attesting to the fact that they don't generally keep secrets. At least not important ones. Dawn then concurred.

Furthermore, Buffy stated that as Slayers their job was to wait for the bad guy to show up and then kick his or her ass. William then noted that K. should, until such time, 'shut her yap and keep training.'

K. then said, for the record, that it wasn't fair to exclude her from the Slayer/Watcher love fest. She went on to say that the last Watcher Council collapsed under its own bureaucratic weight. (Very insightful...) She then stormed from meeting.

(Remaining notes compiled by Andrew)

Willow has nice handwriting. Giles wants to return to 'secret' archive Saturday. Andrew has date with fair Nighna. Must pick up champagne. Or is that too cliche? Must ask Dawn. Hey, we need a slogan. I wonder why Buffy never had a slogan? Maybe it's something stupid like, 'Die vamps' or 'Taste my Slayer Wrath, Fiend.' Oooh, I know: 'Vampires Suck!'

(Meeting convened: 9:06 p.m.)


Saturday mornings were Dawn's favorite. Everyone converged in the kitchen no matter what his or her plans had been the night before. They usually sat around for a couple of hours, drinking tea or coffee, reading the papers, generally lazing about. It was like the meetings now held on Thursdays, but less formal and often more productive. But the best part was how everyone took part. They wanted to be there, basking in extended family goodness.

Dawn and Buffy were already downstairs in the kitchen. Dawn was setting up coffee to brew when Xander ambled in bearing the sodden Saturday edition of the Guardian. Buffy was her usual morning self much resembling cave Buffy without the unattractive brow ridge and dread-locked hair. Boiled down to crabby, grunty, carb freak. For her, waking was like slowly unwrapping layers of gauze. This was especially true after a hard night's slay.

"Blessed Goddess of the Hearth," Xander said. "Thanks for the pick-me-up percolation, Dawnie. You're a fine woman."

Dawn scooched onto the counter.

Buffy groaned. "Need coffee," she said. "You're too chipper."

"Poor Buffy. Morning is just not your thing," Xander said.

Buffy clunked her coffee mug on the table. "Need coffee," she said.

"So," Dawn said. "Big plans today?"

"Nada plans. Unless lying around watching rugby constitutes plans," Xander said. He unrolled the top sheets of the soaking paper. "Do you think if we microwaved these, they'd come out legibly dry?"

"Hmm. Maybe. Would they shrink?" Dawn said.

"Newspapers?" Buffy said. "No shrinkage. Maybe stinkage."

"Hello friends and friends," Andrew called from the entry hall.

"He'll wake the house," Buffy complained.

"Think he means to," Xander said.

Andrew came into the kitchen. Sparkles shone from his beaming bright smile. Birds sang. Butterflies danced. Yada yada.

"Good morning, all my lovely, lovely people," he said, breezing in. "Yes, I am just now returning from my night with Fair Nighna, and yes, I have brought a surprise for breakfast."

He glided into the kitchen with a long cardboard box balanced on his forearms.

"Donuts?" Buffy said, perking.

"Ordinary," Andrew said, with a flip of his hand. He slid the box onto the bar with a flourish.

"It's... sushi," Dawn said flatly, lips curling back.

"Sushi for breakfast?" Xander said. "Interesting choice unless you live in Japan."

William came in, rubbing at his eyes. "What's with the noise? Normal folk sleep in on Saturdays."

"Look," Dawn said. "Sushi for breakfast."

Andrew opened the box to reveal a dozen or so variously colorful sushi rolls each wrapped up like delicate candies on squares of waxed paper. "It's from my date last night," he said.

"Moreover, you doggie bagged it," Buffy said. "Can one safely do such a thing?"

"We weren't long in the restaurant," Andrew said. He winked and licked his lips. "Didn't wanna, ya know, waste it."

"I've just lost my appetite," Xander said. He sat down across from Buffy, ruffling his pages. Buffy, still groggy, turned her coffee cup in her hands.

William ventured forth. Dawn met him at the bar.

"Well, Niblet? Up for a risk?" William said.

Dawn shrugged. "Wouldn't happen to have a California roll, would ya?"

Andrew pointed to one. Dawn lifted it gingerly.

William popped a tuna roll into his mouth. He chewed, nodding his head. "You know, it's not bad. A break from the same old. Try it, pet."

"Well, here goes," she said, lifting it to her lips. Dawn bit into her California roll. "Mmm," she said. "Avocado."

"Did you know it's a fruit?" Andrew said, leaning in.

"Avocados are fruit. Get out," Dawn finished off the roll. She and Andrew continued talking while she munched.

Xander folded the paper over. "What kind of universe is this?" he asked. "I mean, Comic Book Kid here is getting more action than the X-man."

Over his shoulder, William said, "It's the only universe we've got. If you're so ponced about it, maybe you should get out and enjoy it."

Buffy squinted. Dawn gave pause. Andrew flushed pink to the tops of his pointy ears.

"Coffee," Buffy muttered. William went over to the pot. Still brewing.

"Not yet, luv," he said.

Buffy grumbled. She snatched the comics section from the paper. Xander grumbled, too, not to be left out. And Andrew just kept talking.

"And this one time we went to this restaurant called the Fat Duck. She had the poached salmon with licorice. Oh, and smoked bacon and egg ice cream for dessert," Andrew said.

"Mmm," Buffy said.

Xander looked up. "Bacon and egg ice cream gets your yummy noise?"

"Hmm?" Buffy said, looking up. Her stomach had been rumbly. She just didn't realize it till then. "What? It sounded good."

"Okay," Xander said. "This from a girl who thinks pineapple pizza is the height of culinary sophistication."

"It's fruit. And pizza," Buffy said. "The mind boggles."

"Yeah," Xander said. "Like me getting relationship advice from a guy who once dated a robot."

"Hey," Dawn said, offended. "Mom once dated a robot."

Xander waved his hand. "I'm just saying, the world's starting to feel all cattywumpus. Like everything's gone polar opposites. I mean, the Wonder Boy and Spike..."

"What's it got to do with us, mate?" William said. "You're the one playing house matron when you're not hammering your life away for Giles."

"Maybe Giles can find someone else to play Sir Fix-a-lot. Let you have some time off," Andrew said.

"That's a good idea, Xander," Dawn said. "You could go sightseeing in the city. You never know what might happen. Andrew met Nighna by accident."

Andrew placed his chin in his hand, putting on a scholarly air. "It was as Plato might have envisioned. Two souls cast apart, then reunited against all odds. Gather round for the tale..."

"They met in Greece," Dawn interrupted. "He ran over her foot with his Vespa."

Andrew looked uncomfortable. Then he gave a boyish smile. "She swears she stuck it out there on purpose, just to get my attention."

"You had a Vespa?" Xander asked.

Dawn snagged another California roll. "I love that story," she said. "When do we get to meet Nighna?"

Andrew bent his head forward, conspiratorially. "I dunno. Maybe soon. Next weekend? We're having drinks this evening, once we return from the secret archive."

William came over to the table and took the mug from Buffy's hand. He kissed her. It was a deep and unexpected kiss that did more for waking her than coffee ever could. The fact that it was no longer a secrety, forbidden thing made it all the more thrill-ranked.

William broke the embrace before she had a chance to react. It was a thing he did. He was on his way to the coffeepot with her cup when he called back over his shoulder, "You need to find yourself a girl, mate."

The lights in the kitchen flickered then went black. Andrew shrieked. Everyone else froze where they were.

"Dawn?" Buffy said, after a few seconds lapsed. "You okay?"

"Power outage. Just a power outage," Dawn said. "Normal families have power outages, right? Nothing unusual going on."

Xander, being Practical Man, clicked on a flashlight. He tossed a second to Buffy. "I'm gonna go check on Willow and Kennedy."

Buffy said, "I'll see about Giles. It's not like him to sleep late."

William remained behind with Andrew and Dawn. He turned a quick circuit, scanning the dark. "That's strange," he muttered to himself. The way the light shone in through the window above the made him think that he was missing something. Or that something was amiss. "Very strange," he said.


Kennedy was packing. Willow, Little Miss Bucket of Organization and Planning, had packed on Friday. Of course, Willow was only going so far as Westbury. Kennedy would add Paris to her list of destinations since she was escorting Rita to Naomi and Dominique.

"It's just like her," Kennedy said. She was full on rant. "Just like her. Get Kennedy out of the way. Sure. Send Kennedy to Paris. Have you seen my black leggings?"

Willow sat cross-legged in the center of the duvet, eyes closed, red hair streaming over her shoulders. An aura of flowy, mountain fresh energy permeated the air around her.

"Black leggings," Willow said, in hushed tones. "Under the bed."

Kennedy stalked toward the bed. She threw back the comforter and retrieved her pants. "She knows I'm stronger. She just hates a threat. It's just like in Sunnydale."

Willow's eyes flitted open, then closed. "Shhh," she said, tapping her forefinger to the edge of her eyebrow. "Concentrating. Requires all my concentration."

"How can you be so calm? What are doing anyway?" Kennedy said.

Willow drew a deep breath. The space around her shimmered like sunlight on water.

"I'm checking out the wards around the Flat. Fortifying the perimeter. Looking for weak spots. Then I'll widen the circle, feel out the Westbury house and double check the area for the presence of malice. Which, interestingly enough, kinda tastes like black licorice," Willow said.

Kennedy edged onto the bed, pouting. "How do you do it?" she asked. "How do you stay so focused and un-mad."

"Didn't and don't," Willow said. "But I try every day. Buffy needs that from me."

Kennedy got up as though the bed were crawling with ants. "It's all about Buffy. Buffy Buffy Buffy. I really don't know if I can take it."

Willow held up her hand. "Shh."

"Don't shush me. I'm serious. Willow?"

A painted lady butterfly drifted from the circle, whirling on an unseen current of air.

"Is it supposed to do that?" Kennedy asked.

"I didn't..." Willow said.

The sphere of energy around her paled. The colors in their room faded into it. Traces of crimson and gold streaked out in shocking vibrancy. They coiled like tentacles of smoke, probing outward over Willow's shoulders.

"Willow?" Kennedy said again.

Willow's eyes remained closed. Her skin took on a storm cloud pall. Her head titled back, exposing her soft neck in a way that made Kennedy distinctly on edge. The sphere bloated outward, growing fat and bulgy on one side. A stretching, tearing, moaning sound accompanied, growing louder as the energy filled the space above the bed.

"Hey!" Kennedy yelled. She leapt forward, but suspended mid-air like a fly trapped in honey. She hovered, looking down into Willow's open mouth, down and down into a depthless abyss. Willow made a hissing sound, like a tire going flat, in the back of her throat.

Kennedy hated helplessness. She hated not moving, not kicking, not being able to reach. It was cold. Light faded. She was alone in an abandoned, sunless place. Forgotten. Wasted. Despised.

Something wrenched her forward. Something threw her to the ground. She collided with a thud, then curled there, cursing her useless hands. She heard dim voices behind her, distant, inconsequential. Kennedy rolled on the carpet, pulling arms and legs around her to form a little ball. There was no pain. Yet. Someone knelt beside her, hands on shoulders, turning her. It was Buffy.

"Willow?" Kennedy croaked. Voices in the room. Voices, not their own.

"Giles has her," Buffy said. "She'll be all right. She'll be fine. Xander, we need water."

Willow was near convulsing. Giles held her as best he could.

"They're talking," Kennedy said. "Can you hear them? Chanting? My God, do something?" In her mind, she was screaming, but Buffy barely heard a word.

Dawn came in, reading staccato passages from one of her books with near-panicked urgency. Moments later, the chanting ceased. The pain was gone. The spell's hold was broken.

"Voices," Willow was whispering. "Voices, not our own."

"Can you hear us?" Giles said. "Willow? Can you...?"

Willow sat bolt upright. She shook her head, not comprehending. She looked at each of them and tears filled her eyes.

"There's a hole in the world," she said. "A hole..."

Willow covered her eyes and cried.


On the underside of the world, the Priestess of Nyr knelt, wrists upturned and veins drawn out. Blood ran from her in rivers, coursing into the Deeper Well, filling it, replenishing the Blood.

Her acolytes waited to cut her free when the last drop fell. Blind though they were, they could smell the dying. She would be gone, but they would carry the news to the Triumvirate.

One of them entered, carrying with him the sacred cloth. She could smell the myrrh oil and felt faintly touched. After all of these millennia, he remembered...

The Priestess had not spoken in so long, her voice trailed out in a whisper.

"Tell Thellian it is accomplished," she said. "And tell him the witch bore witness, as he hoped she would."

The acolyte nodded. He drew a ceremonial blade from his belt and slashed her body free from its venous bonds. The priestess did not cry out. She turned her sunken eyes to the acolyte. Tendrils of blackness radiated from the hollow places, effacing her face as they clawed forward.

"I'm free," she whispered. "We are all free now. Tell Thellian, it is done."

The blood fell like rain through the Deeper Well. Sparks raced along the tombs of the Old Ones like synapses firing.

The spell was complete.


Angel awoke several hours after sunrise. His heart pounded under his breastbone, pounded with a force he hadn't felt...

He got to his feet. He pulled open his shirt. The brand on his chest blazed plasma orange and pulsed with every slowing beat. Soon enough, it faded to a somber burnt ochre. The pain remained, stubbornly affixed to the memory of what it felt like to be a man. To be human.

As the pulse stilled in his blood, he felt new strength coursing.

Angel clenched his fist. Seemed strong. Wicked strong. He kicked the wall. The whole thing tumbled down.

When the dust cleared, Angel mopped his brow.

"I'm thinking this is... not good," he said.