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“In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will stand against the vampires,
the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the slayer.”

—“Welcome to the Hellmouth”

Buffy struggled against her chains. Her heart pounded in time with the Shadow Men’s primitive rhythm. A seemingly ordinary box was opened and placed on the floor. It was nothing special except for what was inside. What they expected to be inside her.

Sentient tendrils of black smoke pulsated and licked at the air. Looming above her, it searched for her weaknesses then struck. Forcing its way inside, it writhed and twisted up her nose and in her ears. With every ounce of strength, she fought back—screaming. Releasing hold, it retreated to the ceiling before returning. Coiling and snaking around her in a macabre dance.

Wide-eyed she watched it expand and take shape of the Master. His fruit-punch stained mouth twisted in a sneer. Then it shifted, changed. She shivered under Angelus’ demonic gaze roaming over her in a lewd perusal. Then it shifted again. Changing into what she dreaded far more. From beneath a ridged brow, piercing blues bore into her very soul.



Buffy jolted and sat straight up, panting. Fisting the bedding, she tried to stop from shaking.

“Another nightmare, sweetheart?” Groggy, Spike sat up and wiped the sleep from his eyes.

“Yeah, I hate that one.”

“Come ‘ere.” Spike opened his arms. Buffy nestled and molded into his side. He held up his hand and she placed hers against his. Palm to palm.

“I love you.” She held his gaze, her eyes shining with tears.

“No you don’t, but thanks for saying it.”

Their hands ignited into flames, and with a gut-wrenching, derisive laugh, bit by bit Spike disintegrated into dust.


Buffy jolted and sat straight up, panting. Fisting the bedding, she tried to stop from shaking.

“I really hate that one.”


** ** **


“So which one was it? Presto chango smoke or, you know, the other one?” Dawn slurped her cappuccino, leaving behind a foamy stache.

“Not or. Both.”—Buffy plopped down onto the living room couch, eyeing Dawn—“I thought we agreed no more rocket fuel for you.”

“Yeah, well, somebody kept me up all night, and if I don’t wanna be among the walking dead...”—Dawn finished in one gulp—“Oh! I gotta go, meeting Concetta in ten. She’s helping me with Macbeth. We’re at the part when the ghost crashes the dinner party.”

“Okay. I’d say have fun, but you know, homework.”—realizing her mistake, Buffy straightened and plastered on a smile—“Which is very, very important, so have fun. Yay, homework!”

Dawn gathered her things and headed to the door. She turned back to look at Buffy. The smile was gone and she was staring off into space.

“Buffy, don’t you think it’s time?” Dawn thumbed the black spiked key chain hanging from her backpack. Originally she bought it for self-defense, but it meant so much more.

“Time for what?”—going off the universal teenage ‘Really?’ look Dawn gave, Buffy sighed—“You want me to talk to Giles.”

“Those dreams gotta mean something, right? You know, with the whole slayer vision quest thingy you got goin’ on.”

“Or they could mean nothing. Could just be nightmares. Or guilt. Or guilty nightmares. Not everything in my head is a Powers that Be after school special.” Buffy focused on a piece of loose thread hanging from her pajama bottoms.

“Buffy, we all knew what we signed up for going against the First. It was the work we had to do. Yeah, there’s guilt, probably for all of us. But we’ll be okay. We have to be strong. Be brave. Live. If we don’t, what was the point of their sacrifice?” Dawn shifted her bag and sat next to Buffy, taking her hand.

“When did you get to be so smart?” Buffy gave a half smile, though she was bursting with pride.

“I’m not just a pretty face, you know. Plus, I kinda remember hearing something similar before.” Buffy pulled Dawn into a hug. They shared several moments before Dawn pulled away.

“Hey, don’t think you’re off the hook.”—Dawn shifted into lecture mode—“So I really doubt these repeato vision dreams are nothing. I mean, come on, it’s been like over a month…”

“One-hundred and sixty-four days.”


“What? It’s not like it’s every night. Only the last month or so. Plus, the whole creature double feature? Just twice. Really no biggie.” Buffy tried pulling off blasé. It didn’t work.

Dawn stood and stomped over to Buffy’s purse. Haphazardly dumping the contents on the kitchen counter, she grabbed what she was looking for and shoved Buffy’s cell phone into her hand.

“Call Giles.” In a whirl of long brown hair and attitude, she was gone.

“Geez, rude much?”

“Heard that!” Dawn yelled from the other side of the door.

“You were meant to!” Giving in, Buffy checked the clock and tried to figure out what time it was in England.


** ** **


For the most part, Giles kept relatively quiet. Only interrupting with a few “Quite interesting” and one or two “Dear Lords” during her whole lengthy ramble. Buffy purposefully left out her other Spike dream. First off, even with their well-known sordid history, Spike, Buffy, and bed in the same sentence would’ve led to far more than a “Dear Lord”, and she so didn’t want to go there. Secondly, and more importantly, this wasn’t something she wanted to share. True, she talked to Dawn. Well, kinda. She told Dawn she dreamed of Spike. Yet she’d never really gone into details and Dawn hadn’t pushed. The truth was their final moments together and what played out in her dream was all too intimate. She wasn’t ready to share, if at all, with anyone else. Her memories. Her regrets. They were hers and hers alone.

“Okay, so we know the First Slayer was knocked up with some demon dust, right? That’s like tweed one-o-one. But is it written anywhere what kind of demon it was?” Buffy balanced the phone at her ear as she made a second cup of expresso.

“During all my many years of training and as a Watcher, I’ve never come across any literature revealing the origin of a slayer’s abilities. It was simply never discussed nor questioned.”

Buffy swore she heard Giles scanning titles and cataloging books in his mind as they spoke.

“There has to be something, Giles. You guys questioned everything. There has to be a book or some long-winded journal somewhere giving the low down on the demon the Shadow Men used.” Buffy dipped her biscotti into the cup, disappointed when half broke off and floated to the top.

“We are still rebuilding, Buffy. The majority of the Council’s records were lost in the explosion. Fortunately, over the last several months, and with the aide of my private collection, local acquisitions and those made by Willow and Xander abroad, we’ve assembled quite an extensive library.”

“Okay, that’s a start. Gather what you’ve got. Doesn’t matter how little they have on the First Slayer, it’s more than what we have now. I’ll make arrangements for Dawn, and then I’m on the next flight. Just between you and me Giles, Dawn’s right. There’s something to these dreams and I’m gonna find out what.”