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Debriefing Dana/Slayer Memories

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Buffy pushed past the guards and into a small basement room to find Giles, her Giles, sitting at a small table with a teenaged girl. They both had their hands on the table in front of them, their postures almost identical, save that the girl was wearing shackles. Papers and books radiated out from them in the warm light of the room like shrapnel from an explosion.

“So here’s where you’ve been! Giles...”

Giles held up a finger to stop her. The girl was talking in a language Buffy had never heard before, and Giles was answering back. Buffy suddenly felt very, very much out of place. There were a few chairs along the wall; she selected one and sat down.

The girl suddenly snapped her head around to stare at Buffy. “That’s me! We’re very pretty.”

Buffy’s eyes widened. “Woah… what?”

“Buffy, meet Dana. She is a very, very special girl.” Giles kept his gaze on the girls’ turned head.

“Dana, hi. I’m Buffy.” Buffy stood and held a hand out, looked at the shackles, and dropped her hand in embarrassment. “Are you a slayer?”

“Head and heart. Cut until you see dust.” Dana looked down, her fingers twitching on the table. “Not good to talk about it. Fuzzy in the head. Brown makes you sleepy.”

“Yes, she is. We didn’t know of her until recently. She was in a mental institution in Los Angeles.”

“The girl Andrew went to get?”

Giles grimaced. “Yes. One and the same.”

Dana looked away from Buffy as suddenly as she had looked at her and rattled off something rapid and unintelligible to Giles.

“What is she speaking?”

“Hindi. Uh… trace of Bengali accent, I believe. She’s telling me she’s not fond of the watcher’s council. I wish that weren’t becoming a pattern.”

“Oo… trace accent huh? Like I can call you on that.” Buffy smirked.

“Dana’s base personality is very fragile. She was the victim of years of systematic abuse. When she started having slayer dreams, she somehow latched on to the personalities of former slayers. It’s rather like multiple personality disorder, or possession, or, well, I’m not sure. But it’s fascinating.”

Dana said something clipped that seemed her assessment of how ‘fascinating’ it was.

“She retreats into these memories, or they are simply too strong for her to resist. I don’t know. Perhaps it is just that, in the memories of other slayers, she is occasionally victorious, always strong, and above all else, not a mere victim.” Giles was getting excited. He pulled up some papers from the floor. “I’ve been trying to draw out her memories using sections of the watcher’s diaries. It’s exciting. I’ve already confirmed four separate slayer identities and specific events from their lives. This might be a way to, well, to contact the past. We could find out about events that were lost forever to history!”

Dana rolled her eyes and looked pleadingly at Buffy. “Is he always this thick?” she asked in a very English accent.

Buffy shrugged. “Watchers.” She knelt to look at the stacks. “Are these separated by year?”

“By continent.” Giles took his glasses off. “And to whom am I speaking now?”

“I want to see a warrant for my arrest,” Dana said, continuing to speak with an English accent. “There may be a war on, but I still have my rights.” She raised the shackles.

“This is incredible. She is actually acting out the part of a past slayer in the present. Interacting. Buffy, hand me that folder, there on your right.” Giles waved frantically while not taking his eyes off Dana.

Buffy handed him the folder too quickly and his hand was still waggling. Papers and photos spilled all over the place.

Dana shrank back in her chair, frightened by the sudden motion. Buffy scrambled to pick up the papers and found…

“Spike.”

Buffy stared up at Dana, shocked to have spoken at the same time as the mad slayer. Buffy slowly set the photograph on the table between Dana and Giles. It was black and white, crimped on the edges, a black-haired Spike smiling smugly for the camera, his arms around Drusilla, who leaned into his embrace, looking particularly drugged.

Dana’s bound hands moved toward the picture. She used only the tip of her finger to nudge the picture straight. “He wasn’t here,” she said.

“She knows Spike.” Buffy’s voice had a small note of panic.

“I should be surprised if she didn’t. Dana is drawing on all the memories of the slayer line. Few figures would repeat as… significantly as William the Bloody.”

Giles turned to Dana with an intent look on his face. He spoke very evenly, like he was narrating a tape on English pronunciation. “This is a vampire. William the Bloody. Tell me, if you can, when you first saw him.”

And Dana responded, her voice altered radically into the lilt of Chinese.

Giles frowned, squinted, responded, responded with a slightly different cadence, and finally nodded. He wrote furiously.

Buffy felt very, very extraneous.

Still, Giles seemed to like having an audience. “Curse Ethan and his ‘you only need one dialect of Chinese’ rubbish. Yes… yes. She says she did not know there were vampires who weren’t Chinese; that if they had known the foreigners would bring foreign demons with them the riots would have come a lot sooner. And she wishes she could be with her mother… she fears her safety with the general disorder in the streets… the… uh… dog-faced monster… oh, oh dear, I think she means me.”

He shot Buffy an irritated look as she giggled. “I’m going to ask her to describe her first interactions with Spike. This… this could be invaluable information.” Giles tapped the top of Spike’s picture, still sitting in front of Dana’s bound hands like a devotional object. After he spoke in Chinese, and Dana squinted at him in confusion, and he repeated himself more slowly, he said, “Buffy, perhaps you should not be here for this.”

“I want to know,” she said.

Dana finally seemed to understand Giles, and spoke slowly, like a school teacher. Giles nodded, narrating his translation for the tape-recorder. “He spoke to me… in his own language. He looked… uh… leered? He acted as a prostitute.”

Buffy covered her mouth as a laugh struggled to escape. Giles didn’t notice. “No… as though he thought I was a prostitute. Very unseemly. Thankful that he did not speak a civilized language. But never had a vampire… white man or normal… just spoken to me and left. I described him to the watcher… and was told this was no one of consequence. There was so much to be done, that week. Helping the poor escape the city. So many demons ready to take advantage of the chaos. I forgot about him. He came upon me again in the temple… I had come to bid grandfather farewell. The… demon… yes this is a very good picture of him, but the hair is wrong. The demon again approached me, speaking for his own enjoyment. I took the sacred sword from the wall and charged, meaning to kill him quickly. It was not to be. We fought long. He was… joyful of battle. It was an advantage. When he bested me, he held me with surprising tenderness. I thought… he meant to take my virginity and ruin me completely. He did not, only looked at me with affection and then, as expected, the bite. It did not hurt as much as I feared. I was ready to die. I asked him if he would tell my mother I was sorry, that I failed her. He responded in his language. I hope he said he would, though I don’t know why I would trust him not to kill her as well.”

Dana fell silent. Giles wiped his brow, sinking back in his chair.

“He told me,” Buffy licked her lips, but her tongue was as dry as they were. “Told me, uh,” she lifted her head and forced it out, “That the Chinese slayer said something as she died, but he didn’t know what. He said she was ready to die, that he saw it in her eyes.”

Giles took a sip from a glass of water and then held it to Buffy.

Dana slumped in her chair. Again she fingered the photo. “He was never here,” she said. “But he did worse. No hands. Can’t hurt me anymore.”

“Dana? Are you… are you yourself again?”

Her bound hands curled up to her neck, she giggled into her curled fingertips. “Chained him up. Told him I’d let him go if he was good. He was…good.” She giggled harder. “Brought the house down, didn’t he?”

Buffy felt the blood run out of her face. “Maybe this isn’t a good… Dana? Spike’s dead, sweetie.” She covered his smiling face with her palm. “This man… vampire… he’s gone. Forever gone. Poof!” Buffy snatched the photo and held it to her chest with a shaking hand.

Giles looked at her funny. She raised her brows at him in challenge. “There’s a lot more… important things you could be talking to her about than Spike.”

“Spike,” Dana said, and then descended into another series of syllables unintelligible to Buffy.

“The white man who is not a missionary,” Giles translated. “He called himself Spike. He spoke very poorly. He said ‘I will kill Saturday for you’ and I had to correct him on his death threat. To me. I always cared too much about… uh… grammar.”

Dana laughed, looking sane, now, relaxed. She looked to Buffy as she spoke again.

Giles grimaced. “The watcher-man spoke very well. I should have feared him more.”

“What language…?”

“Luganda. And I don’t understand it very well so please be quiet, Buffy. ‘The next… day? Week?” Giles formulated a question in hesitant syllables. Dana shook her head, correcting him.

“He followed me… watched when I killed the… train master? Yes you fool… (oh that's me again). He was a big, bad vampire boss, the Train Master. I hunted him for months. You ought to know about him, watcher-man. Spike… applauded when I killed him. Bloody typical.” Giles glanced at Buffy, still holding the photo flat against her chest. “Ahem. Sorry. She says… the watcher wanted me to go with him, to England. He said not to worry about the English vampire because he would follow, and with the train master gone, all need to be in Uganda had gone. But there are… many… demons. My people were not safe without me. I refused to go. He shot me, the… watcher.” Giles fell back again. There was a long pause before he translated Dana’s last sentence. “I never got to fight the funny vampire.”

“Spike would have wanted to kill that watcher,” Buffy said, trying to make it a joke.

Giles bent to retrieve a book from his left. He flipped it to a certain page. “I believe he did.” He handed the book to Buffy.

A young African woman looked back at her from a pixilated photo. She had an overbite and a wry grin. Next to her was a photo of a square-faced Englishman. Buffy closed the book without reading the captions.

“You miss him,” Dana said, again with the English accent. “He was a nice chap, for a vampire. Then, I think I like any vampire more than a Nazi, truth be told. One takes ones allies where one can, even disreputable ones like him.” She sighed. “I began to trust him. That was my problem.”

Giles snapped his fingers, excitedly reaching for the folder Buffy had left on the table before. “Excellent. Excellent. There was a slayer in England during World War Two… no one ever found out what happened to her. Let me find her name… Dana stay with me…”

But Dana had flinched backward at his finger-snap and was watching him warily, her whole demeanor changed from that of English-girl, as Buffy was now calling her in her mind.

“Dana?” Buffy touched her shoulder lightly.

Dana shook her touch off. “I’m not crazy. I see them.”

“We know,” Buffy said. “I see them too.” She set her hand on the table, then, near Dana’s, non-threatening. “Though… I mean, I get dreams. I see flashes now and again. I don’t know if it’s the same. Of course it isn’t the same for you. But you aren’t alone. There are other slayers. Like me.”

Dana put her fingertips on top of Buffy’s. “Not like you. You’re the only one who didn’t want to kill him. Even when I knew it wasn’t him, I wanted to keep cutting.”

Giles, disappointed in his search, laid his papers flat and stared at the two slayers’ hands. “Is she still speaking of Spike?”

“Yes,” Dana nodded, slowly, sagely. “If I can escape again, I’ll go back to LA for him. We need to talk.”

Buffy fumbled, putting the photo back in Giles’ folder. “He’s dead,” she said.

“Shot by police,” Dana said. She held her arms close to her body. “Take your pills. Good girl. Be still.”

Giles looked at his glasses in his hand. “We’re going about this wrong. The watchers…”

He swept the papers and books off the table. Both slayers jumped back at the sudden motion and the violence of fluttering paper.

Giles put his glasses back on. “Dana,” he said, looking straight at her. “The debriefing is over. We’re going to help you, do you understand? Help you understand the memories… those not your own and otherwise. Dana, we won’t hurt you. Not any more.”

Buffy squeezed Giles’ shoulder. “I’ll leave you guys alone now,” she said.

Giles patted her hand. There was a brightness to his eyes, but no other sign of emotion. “I imagine you’ve heard enough. Get some rest.”

She nodded.

As Buffy slipped out the door she heard Dana say, “She died, that girl. She died twice.”

As the door closed, Dana whispered, “I died three thousand times.”