Once It Begins


13 Relevations I

Magic Box

“So… who’s going to get me what I need to make these unbelievably painful visions a little more bearable?” Cordy asks while she tries to straighten her clothes. “I guess none of you ever went through this much pain. I mean, it’s almost as bad as falling on a rusty iron bar.” Cordy looks around, she searches for Xander but he isn’t there. “By the way… where is…”

She’s interrupted by a loud clattering sound from the training room. “Oh guess that answers the question. What about my steak? Painkillers? Diet Coke? Pleea-ase?” She winks twice very slowly at Gunn who ignores her.

Tara swears she can hear Cordy growl, she bets Cordy’s going to throw a screaming fit soon, so she does something she seldom does: she takes the initiative. “I-I’ll s-see if I can f-find you some pills. W-willow, maybe you can…?” Tara hates her insecurity. Loud voices make her stutter, they remind her too much of her childhood which was filled with loud fights between her parents. Often these fights ended with her father telling her mother to shut up or else… what ‘or else’ meant he‘d demonstrated more than once. Tara learnt that the less attention she attracted, the less noise she made, the less she talked, the more she was ignored or left alone. Of course, it didn’t do anything for her communication ability.

“Oh yes, of course, I’ll go see if I can get you… or better Xander can… where is he, actually? Where is Xander?”

“Come on, princess.” Gunn says to Drusilla and gathers her slender body in his arms. It’s cliché but to him she seems to weigh almost nothing. Just moments ago he and Wes didn’t have the strength to hold her down through the shocks of the vision but now her body seems breakable. Vampiress, he reminds himself and lifts her up – carefully. He’s not interested in this Xander. Cordy mentioned him here and there but she never categorised him as somehow extraordinary.

“I don’t know where Xander is. Why isn’t he here? He’s always here.” Willow says and keeps looking around as if the missing Scooby would appear magically somehow. Tara shrugs helplessly and goes behind the main counter in search of painkillers.

“That’s Xander for you… he’s never there when you need him. Pffft.” Cordy lets herself drop into one of the more comfortable looking chairs and rubs her temples.

“But… I just hope he’s not trying to get Anya back. Last time they disappeared for three days straight in a shabby hotel in Braxton. When he came back he needed five days to recuperate. He looked as if she sucked him out.”

“Maybe she has!” Cordy flips and starts giggling despite her horrible headache.

“Who has sucked who?” Buffy asks while coming out of the training room.



“Anya. Xander.”

“Again? Damn. I‘m thirsty. Thought he could go to the coffee shop for us.” She looks at Gunn, a speculative gleam in her eyes.

“I am not going to be your new delivery boy.” Gunn sighs. “I may be black but those times are over when skin colour separated the masters from slaves.”

“OH! Oh no!” Willow starts to babble. “You wouldn’t be our slave. I mean Xander isn’t our slave. Not at all. He is just there and when he doesn’t want to research which he hates then he goes and does all the little things like getting coffee and pizza and we never thought about him as our slave. He was more like our… our…”

“Puppy?” Buffy suggests.

“Buffy!” Willow is shocked by the emotionless comment.

Suddenly Dru lets out a high pitched giggling sound. “Puppy!” She sniggers. Gunn lets Drusilla down but keeps holding her back to his front. With Buffy in the room the probably-dead-soon-quota is just too high, for both. “You know nothing!” Drusilla squeals. “Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Never a puppy – always a kitten. Kitten! And now…”

“OH GOD. Oh god. I forgot… Xander is…” Cordy whines.

“…ours. Ours. Ours. Kitten belongs to Daddy now.” Shrill laughter fills the room again.


The people inside, Buffy, Willow, Tara, Gunn, again stare in turns at Drusilla and Cordelia and try to comprehend the disjointed information on the same theme.

“Noooo. It can’t be! Xander can’t be dead!” Willow eventually cries out. She’s gotten very, very pale in seconds.

“But I saw it. That’s why we’re here. I had this vision with Xander and Spike and Buffy. Xander was dead. Spike killed him and Buffy was there and killed Spike but it didn’t make sense somehow… I mean we all saw Spike and he’s with Angel who is Angelus, I saw them planning to go on a hunt…”

Tara rushes over to Willow who looks ready to black out any second. She tries to give her girlfriend some comfort but Willow shakes her off and starts to run to Giles’ office, screaming his name.

Outside Angel’s mansion

“We’re here.” Angel says and Spike looks out of the car window.

“We’re back at the bloody mansion!” The blonde cries in annoyance, shocking Xander out of the peaceful blood rush.

“Wow – you are brainy!” Connor snarls at Angel who is forced to give Connor a slap.

"Where else should we go? Do you have a better idea, Spike?"

Spike stays silent. He knows there is pretty much no other location that can shelter them for a while as good as the mansion.

The police are gone after searching through the house and finding nothing, just a fake call, not even enough to be registered in their files. So, Buffy and the others would find them… but that was always just a matter of time. Spike never believed that Willow would give up on "her" Xander. Red was going to have a hard time working her mind around the new order of things. Going to be fun. Much.

"Okay. Let's get out of the car." Angel announces and grins to himself. He's sure Connor is going to try to get away.

"Xander, how are you? Can you get out of the car?" Spike opens the door and gets out, he holds his hand out to his childe. "Come on." Drowsily, Xander looks at the hand and then grabs it, thumbs up, and lets himself be dragged out. When he's finally outside the car, he leans against Spike's hard body. His legs tremble and he doesn’t trust them to hold him up, but he trusts his sire to support him until he feels able to move on his own again.

For just a moment, Angel watches the tender scene between Spike and Xander with a mix of adoration and jealousy. Flashes of a just-as-fragile William race through his mind and again he's sad that everything between them is now so… broken.

Angel walks around his car to the passenger door to "help" Connor out of the vehicle but the youth is over on the driver's seat and out of the car in under a second.

Connor starts running as soon as his feet touch the ground. He's gaining distance so fast even Angel is impressed by the speed, before he suddenly realizes that Connor is actually running away from him. Panic grabs his heart with icy fingers. He can't lose his son. Not again. He has to get him. Hunt him. HUNT slams so hard through the link that even Connor feels it. It just makes him run faster. He doesn't understand anything. These people - monsters - feel so trustworthy. He feels like he belongs but it can't be… they're different somehow… just like he is but… he likes them but he shouldn't. He wonders if this is the Stockholm Syndrome already affecting him. He looks back and sees this Angel running after him. The black leather long jacket billows behind the dark man like wings. His hunter is fast, very fast.

Spike feels the call to hunt in his connection to Angel. The excitement and blood thirst of his sire drum through his emotions, nearly outweighing everything else. He closes the feelings off from Xander but the younger vampire starts struggling anyway. Spike restrains him, Xander's got power, more power than he expected but not nearly enough to throw such an experienced master vampire as Spike off. Doesn't change the fact that it pisses Spike off.

"Stop it, Xander." he says but the whelp won't hear it.

"I told you to stop it." Spike barks at Xander and grabs him by his upper arms shaking him hard. Xander starts fighting back with all his strength, growling and snarling. Spike grips him even tighter. "What the hell is wrong?!" Spike growls back, eyes golden with incomprehension and anger.

"Can't you hear it? Feel it? Master calls to hunt!" Xander cries in desperation and doubles his efforts to get away. Spike growls and shifts into his true face. His eyes sparkle with furious rage.

"Master?! I'll show you who your master is!"

14 Relevations 2

Magic Box, Giles’ office

Giles takes a deep breath and turns away from Wesley. He goes to his cabinet and takes out a half empty bottle of whisky and two tumblers. He sets them down on the desk and fills his tumbler before holding the mouth of the bottle over the other glass. Wesley's hand is already there, covering the tumbler so Giles can't fill it. Irritated, Giles locks eyes with Wesley.

"Thank you very much for the offer, Mr. Giles, but I prefer to stay sober whilst working."

Giles' face closes off completely and he slams the bottle down hard on the wooden surface. He tries to contain his anger over the underlying criticism of his drinking habits.

"Well then, Wesley, what do you know about the New Order?" Giles drawls, intentionally using the younger man's first name. Wesley swallows and blinks a few times, his eyes move whilst he searches through the imagined library in his head. Giles hesitates a few moments, then downs the tumbler's content in one large swallow. Just when he loses his patience and wants to lay down all the information he has on the New Order, Wesley starts speaking.

"New Order, a term mentioned in several prophecies. Firstly used in the Shadshu'ran which is a Phoenician Script from about 1700 BC. It's something like the history of creation of demons and slayers. The last part tells about the emerging of the New Order when a particular event happens. Later, the Birah and Thesius twin prophecies explain that the New Order will destroy the old order which is, in our understanding, the now existing structure of slayer/watcher against demons. It seems to be a change in the balance in favour of the darker side. It has to be hindered at any price. The verse Dru and Cordy quoted is documented in the Luka'ash script which already prophesied that messengers of both sides will 'sing the hymn' as soon as the 'particular event' happens. As far as I know there is no description as to what the particular event is or what can be done to stop or to at least influence the process."

Wesley finishes with a deep sigh. He looks at Giles, waits for the older man to add his part but Giles just keeps staring into his empty whisky glass. There is a loud crash from the other back room but both former watchers remain unmoving.

After another downed glass of the golden-brown gleaming whisky, Giles chuckles quietly to himself.

"This is the end, my friend." Giles quotes The Doors and maintains eye contact with Wesley who needs a second to sort out Giles' comment. Finally, a little more optimistic than Giles, he gives back: "It's the end of the world as we know it." (*R.E.M)

"Well," Giles begins after a long pause. "I don't have any other information. There are a couple of books in the special library of the council. They’re said to have notions of another prophecy to concrete the New Order. I never had a chance to have a look at them, only the head of the council and the two next in hierarchy, the subaltern watchers, have access to them in case of danger. The information is said to be too delicate, especially in case someone tried to artificially start the 'particular event'."

Giles takes his glasses, which he had put on the desk before the discussion, in his hand and starts polishing them.

"I guess, we should try to contact the council and ask them for information…" Wesley says slowly, thinking to himself just how ridiculous the idea is.

"Sure." Giles answers with an arrogant chuckle. "Why not try that or ask the Queen for…"


"Oh dear." Both watchers say in unison and get on their feet. The door to the office flies open and Willow throws herself in Giles' arms. The others come running after her.

"Oh God, Giles!" Willow sobs. "Xander is dead! Xander is dead! Cordy says Xander is dead! Xander is dead!"


Outside Angel's mansion, Xander

My sire is still holding me, when the car stops. The discussions start again and it gets on my nerves. Angel's our leader. His decisions shouldn't be questioned all the time. I can feel the family sense, the loyalty in the bonds. Angel would never intentionally endanger us. Why doesn't Spike see it?

Everybody gets out of the car. I am still not used to my body. It feels so different now and my legs are still wobbly from the overwhelming emotions I felt while I bonded to Spike, to the bloodline. My sire supports me while we wait for Angel to get the human. I am still not sure why that young man is with us. Snack or no snack, that's the question.

I feel safe in Spike's embrace. It's good to feel his body against mine, his strength, power and energy.

Suddenly, the boy jumps out of the car and runs away. Only seconds later, Angel leaps over the GTX and follows him. A new, strong feeling combined with a single word races through the link: HUNT. I realize it's a command from the head of the clan, from the Master of the bloodline and all I know is: I have to follow it.

I try to tear away from Spike but he doesn't let me go. I panic. I must follow Master's command. Why doesn't Spike? Why doesn't he follow the call? He has to feel it and he rejects it on purpose. That goes against everything inside me.

I start to fight in earnest. Let me go! I growl and snap after Spike who shakes me and yells at me.

"Can't you hear it? Feel it? Master calls to hunt!" I scream at my sire who gets furious. Why? He shifts into his true face and growls right back at me.

"Master?! I'll show you who your Master is!" he barks and kicks at my knees which fold instantly. I go down, am turned around. I taste dirt and get scratches on my face from the rough sidewalk. I feel Spike's weight on me; his knee pokes hard into my backbone. It hurts.

What did I do? I tried to follow the rules and Spike didn't. Why do I get punished? He made the mistake, not me. I feel it, I know I am right. He grabs the collar of my shirt, rips it off and his one hand grabs my hair. He pulls my head sideways, lays my neck bare. I am afraid, scared out of my mind. I panic completely. Is he going to kill me? I don't want to die!

I scream - both out loud and through the bonds when Spike's fangs sink in my flesh with brutal force.


Outside Angel's Mansion

Angel is completely focused on Connor. He is proud his son is able to run this fast. Supernatural speed. He wonders which other abilities Connor inherited. He has to systematically test them, so he won't underestimate his son again. Angel hates surprises - no matter whether good or bad ones.

Slowly, the distance between Connor and himself gets smaller. Soon, Angel's going to have him.

All of Angel's senses are concentrated on the fleeing youth. He adores the fluent and precise movement, listens to the fast heart beat and breathing rhythm. He can imagine his son as a predator at his side on the hunt. Angel shudders.

Finally, the vampire is close enough; Connor is in his reach. He sticks his arm out and grabs the human's shoulder. Connor stops immediately when he's touched and Angel slams into Connor with his whole body. They both go down. Connor moans in pain when his arm slides over the rough asphalt of the street, the skin breaks and the scent of fresh blood fills the air. They struggle and roll around until Angel can get the upper hand. He holds Connor's wrists above his head. The wound is only a few inches away from his face, he looks at the welling blood. He can't resist anymore and bows his head down just enough to dip his tongue into the wound. The taste explodes in his mouth. Bloodchilde. His own bloodchilde. It's exhilarating.

Connor trembles in fear and exhaustion. He's completely shocked when the man with the monster face starts to lick up his blood. Connor's heart pounds in his chest as if it wants to break through his rib cage. His breathing gets too fast, too flat and he feels sick, his sight gets fuzzy. He's going to black out any moment and that's what he's afraid of the most. Who knows if he'll ever wake up again?

Angel feels the desperation of his son, he can taste it in the blood and unwillingly he stops cleaning up Connor's wound.

"Connor, listen to me." Blue eyes try to focus on Angel's golden ones. "Come on, boy. Breath in and out, breath in and out. Slower. In and out. That's right." Gradually, Connor gets calmer. "Nobody's going to hurt you. I just cleaned your injury. Didn't want to hurt you." Angel keeps talking slowly, encouragingly to the youth. It seems to have the wanted effect. Finally, Connor listens to him for real. Angel shifts out of game face.

"I know this is a lot for you, and it's going to be even more once I have the time to explain everything to you. There is one thing you need to know now because I want you to trust me and, as crazy as it sounds, it's true, I can prove it to you. I am your…"

A loud scream inside Angel's and Connor's heads interrupts them. Xander. In danger. Xander is in danger.

"Fuck!" Angel swears and jumps to his feet, dragging Connor with him. Fingers like iron bands around Connor's wrist, Angel starts running towards the car where Spike and Xander still are. Angel is ready to explode with anger over his idiot childe. What's he doing with Xander? To Xander?

Connor feels the intensity, the urgency of the situation.

"Go, go. I’ll follow. I promise." he yells at Angel and after a glance in his bloodchilde's eyes he is reassured it's the truth and he lets go of the wrist. Instantly, he doubles his speed to get back as soon as possible to Xander.

15 Splinters

Magic Box, Giles’ office

"What? But… why should Cordelia say such a thing?" Giles splutters. He tries to get out of Willow's tight embrace. It's clear to everyone that such close body contact, especially with an emotionally unrestrained girl, is uncomfortable for him. Helplessly, Giles looks over at Wesley who seems to be rather glad not to be in Giles' place.

"Cordelia, would you please explain?" Giles asks the ex-cheerleader, while he awkwardly pats the redhead's shoulder.

"I had this vision. It's the reason Angel and I came to Sunnydale in the first place. I couldn't make sense of it. There was Buffy, and… and Xander. He was bitten by Spike. Spike was killed by Buffy. It was all really weird. I didn't know if it was a vision of the past or things to come…" Cordy shrugs.

Tara seems pretty much unaffected by the news of Xander's death. She's worried about her girlfriend. Shyly the blond witch manages to get to Willow and seconds later the redhead clings to her instead of Giles who gives Tara a thankful look.

"Is there anything else, Cordy?" Wesley asks, dreading the information. Angel's absence worries him very much. Adding to his concerns, was the fact that there had been a few weird changes in Angel's attitude and behaviour over the last few months.

"I, erm, I think, I mean, I could be wrong but, erm... Angelus is back."

This sentence always works like a whip lash - it brings everyone to a complete stop for a couple of moments.

Eventually, Drusilla, still in Gunn's securing embrace, breaks the silence: "Daddy!" she cries in joy and claps her hands. Buffy whips around, checking everywhere for the dark vampire but can't see him. She grabs Drusilla around her neck with both hands.

"Daaaddyyy will be gone soon." Buffy threatens. "And then I'm going to dust you. Slowly." Giles wrinkles his forehead at his slayer but doesn't say anything. Buffy goes back to the lobby of the Magic Box, the others follow her. The slayer opens the weapons cabinet and grabs a sword.

"What are you doing, Buffy?" Willow asks, her voice trembling under tears.

At first, Buffy doesn't answer, then she turns around just before going out of the door. "I'm going to find Spike and Angelus and I am going to kill them. I should have done it way before. I could have saved everybody a lot of trouble… Ms. Calendar, Giles, me. And when I find Xander, if he's one of them, I'll dust him too. That's my job." With that the slayer storms out of the shop.

"Oh god!" Willow cries. "She's going to kill Xander! We can't let her! Giles, we have to do something!" Giles takes off his glasses, starts polishing them. "Actually, Willow, as hard as this may seem, I am afraid, the slayer, Buffy, is perfectly right. It's time to end this nonsense with souled, chipped vampires. There is nothing left of the Xander he was, if he has gotten himself turned. Then he is just another vampire who needs to be dusted before he murders innocents."

"Nooo! Giles! You can't mean that! No! Tara… we have to… have to do something… we need to…" Willow's sobs get so bad, she can't speak on. Tara just keeps her arms around her, holding the crying girl.

Magic Box

While the loud discussion between Willow and Giles goes on, Cordelia manages to get Wesley's attention and they go a few steps back. They talk quietly to each other now.

"Wes, something is wrong. I don't know what but it has to do with Buffy. She can't just go and kill Angel - even if he actually is Angelus - or Spike or Xander! We could get Willow to soul them or something."

"But Cordy, you said yourself, that it is Angelus; that he's out there hunting with Spike. I’ve seen some changes in Angel over the last few months and…"

"But Wesley! He's our boss. He doesn't deserve to be given up on so easily by us. And who's going to pay us? We have to get to him before Buffy does." Cordy scrunches up her face, deeply in thought.

While they both think about a plan, Wes uses the time to also watch his princess with adoration. He is not jealous of Gunn he discovers, he'd just like to stand over there with them as a unit. Gunn's strong arms are embracing Drusilla and he stands there holding her secure for the others, from the others and herself, like the rock Drusilla called him. He also notices that these two make a beautiful couple because they are the opposites of each other.

"I've got it!" Cordy whispers suddenly, breaking Wes out of his thinking process. "What?" he asks surprised and feels guilty under Cordy's annoyed gaze. "We need Willow to locate Angel and Xander and to en-soul them. We have to talk to her!" Wesley nods but can't think of a way to get the witches alone without being obvious to Giles.

"OH! Ouch! Oh! Owww!" Cordy starts moaning suddenly.

Afraid she's getting another vision Wesley grabs her but she shakes him off.

"What's wrong? Vision?" he asks concerned and Cordy rolls her eyes at him.

"Oh! Just woman problems!" Cordy massages her belly, drawing Wes' look down there. "Oh!" he says, embarrassed and looks away quickly.

"I think I have to lie down… Willow, Tara, can you get me into the training room and give me… something… help me somehow witch-like?" Cordy looks expectantly at Willow who seems to be completely perplexed but Tara seems to have caught on. She shoves her girlfriend in the direction of the training room. "I'm sure we can help with some… powder. Leaves and snail eyes…"


"Snail eyes?" Willow asks, her forehead scrunched up, but she enters the training room and Tara closes the door behind them.

Unsure what to do now, Wesley stays just where he is. Seconds later the door to the training room opens again and Cordy pops her head out: "Wesley, would you please come too? We could use your help."

"I… of course!" Wesley stutters and then follows Cordy inside the training room.

Magic Box

Giles, in the meantime, has focused completely on Drusilla and Gunn.

"Well," he starts and Gunn involuntarily tightens his grip around Dru. "since it's only a matter of time until Buffy has slain the Aurelius Line… I think we could help her a little. Don't you agree with me, Mr. Gunn?"

“Just Gunn. And if your plan is to find Buffy and get the situation under control… I’m, well, we are with you.”

Giles shakes his head, barely suppressing a sardonic smile. “I’m quite sure Buffy can manage on her own.”

Very slowly a warning tingles up Gunn’s vertebrae. “You’ve got an awful lot of trust in your slayer.” Gunn says carefully, shifting his weight from foot to foot, getting ready for… well, whatever. This Giles guy makes him nervous.

“She's very well trained and at the peak of her body performance. And she’s got a lot of experience, especially with these vampires.”

“Still, two Master vampires with together over, what, 400 years and a fledge, should this Xander be turned to their condition, against one slayer…”

“Well, you really shouldn’t worry about her. A fledge is easy to dust. Don’t you fight them yourself?!” Gunn nods and Drusilla digs her fingernails deeply in his underarm. “And Spike is completely harmless with this chip in his head. He can’t even think about hurting a human without an excruciating pain shooting through his body.” Giles grins.

Gunn tries to understand the information. Chip-controlled vampires?

“So, what kind of help do you have in mind then?”

“Oh, well,” Giles turns to the weapons cabinet and gets a stake and a sword out. “you are a clever guy Gunn, why don’t we get rid of just another monster? It would help Buffy as the broken link will weaken the others.” Giles advances very fast on Gunn and Drusilla, the stake raised. Gunn turns to protect Dru, pulls her behind him. The stake sinks into Gunn’s shoulder. Gunn roars like a lion. Shocked, Giles jumps back.

Despite his injury, Gunn grabs Drusilla and shoves her through the shop towards the door, yelling at Dru to hurry. Giles follows them. “Get in the truck, Dru!” Gunn yells, when they’re finally outside. Blood is running down his arm and the wound burns. Still, he lifts Dru up so she can pull herself through the open passenger door window. He runs around the truck and gets in the driver’s seat, turns the key in the ignition.

Dru is nearly inside when she suddenly screams. Giles must have grabbed her foot and is pulling her out again. Gunn puts the truck in gear and then holds out his injured, bloody arm to Dru. She grabs it but the blood makes it hard for her to hold on. “Hold on!” Gunn yells through gritted teeth and steps on the gas. Dru’s fingernails go deeply into his flesh, Gunn groans but keeps pulling. Finally, with a last hard jerk Drusilla is inside. They’ve managed to shake Giles off.

16 Instincts

Outside Angel’s Mansion

When Angel arrives back at the car, he finds Xander lying on his belly on the ground, screaming in pain. Spike’s on him, holding Xander down while he drinks brutally from his neck. Angel flashes back in time to an identical scene. Then, he was the one enforcing his sire rights over an unruly childe. He still hears William’s screams for mercy in his nightmares, sometimes.

Without any more hesitation, he grabs Spike’s short blond hair and his shoulder.

“Let him go!” he barks but Spike won’t listen to him. He yanks on Spike’s hair, succeeding only in hurting Xander even more.

“Let him go!” Angel growls, using his thunderous sire’s voice. “NOW!”

This seems to have effect. Spike pulls back and turns his head. Gold gleams through slitted eyes. “What the hell do you want?” Spike spits at Angel, blood dripping from his mouth down his chin. “This is none of your business!”

“That’s where you’re wrong, boy!” Angel says grimly and shoves Spike off Xander, throwing the blond on his back in the dirt. He shifts into his gameface and meets Spike’s angry eyes. “I am the head of the bloodline. Everything going on between my offspring, my blood is my business.” He pauses for effect. “And now, you will explain to me what just happened here!”

Connor has arrived at the scene, he watches with mixed feelings. He’s afraid, shocked, impressed and helpless at the same time. There are a lot of new feelings he’s experienced since the first pain wave brought him here. Angel and Spike yell at each other, things Connor doesn’t understand anything of: bloodline, childer, sire rights.

It’s a bit like one of those big screaming fits between his parents… it just seems wrong for them to fight like this.

Under any other circumstances Connor would flee from it but he can’t. He promised Angel to stay and he’s very curious as to what Angel’s gonna tell him. He looks at Xander who lies on the ground, making himself as small as possible. He’s bleeding from a neck wound and Connor feels like he should do something to help the guy.

Taking some deep breaths, Connor tries to gather the courage to actually do something, then he goes over to Xander and kneels down at the guy’s side. “Hey.” He approaches Xander, before he touches his shoulder. “Guess you’d like to clean up a bit? Patch up?”

Suddenly, Xander’s head shoots up and, wildly sniffing the air, the young fledge is on Connor. The youth gives a surprised, strangled little cry but it’s unheard by the two Master vampires a few yards away.

Magic Box, Training Room

As soon as the door closes behind them, Cordy jumps into action.

“Willow,” she begins. “I know this is hard on you but we have to try to get things clear. I don’t want any more dead, erm, undead people, erm, you know what I mean!”

Willow looks dumbfounded and blinks helplessly at Wesley.

“I-I think Cordy is r-right.” Tara says and Cordy gifts her with a movie star smile. Immediately, the shy witch disappears behind a curtain of hair.

“Hey, hey…” Cordy says. “No hiding allowed. I have the feeling that something is wrong here. Something with Buffy. In my vision she staked Spike for killing Xander, but it can’t be since I saw Spike just a few hours ago.” Slowly Tara nods. Willow stares at Cordy. Silent tears are still running down her cheeks. Wesley searches through his pockets for a handkerchief but comes up with nothing.

“We need to find Angel. We need to talk to him. I know I said he was Angelus but… It’s instinct or feminine intuition.” She sighs. “Damn, I am confused and I still have this horrible headache!” Cordy sits down on some gym mats. Tara gets out a handkerchief and gives it to Wesley who gives it to Willow who looks at him thankfully.

Tara kneads her hands while she chews on her lower lip, finally, she sighs and takes a step towards Cordy. “T-try t-to think about nothing.” she says and puts her hand on Cordy’s forehead. She whispers a short word, “heal” and Cordy feels as if she’s bathing in sun beams, as if she is filled with a warm light.

Tara can feel the pain Cordy suffers but as with anything else, it’s just a flow of energy that can be formed and guided. Her mother has taught her how to do that since she was a child. The most important thing, her mother taught her, was that she mustn’t ever lose the connection to the completeness of the world. Energy never disappears, it transforms, converts. So Tara was expecting to take the pain energy from Cordy and give her healing energy from herself. However, she wasn’t prepared for the damage in Cordy’s brain and it scares her when she has to give in more healing energy, take more pain energy than she expected.

Suddenly, another flow of energy appears from Cordy and it supports Tara, grows and soon Tara can draw away without any problems, she even gets back some of her invested energy. When she opens her eyes, she doesn’t feel dizzy or tired at all for which she’s really glad. Cordy’s eyes are still closed; she appears to be in a deep trance. A golden light surrounds her like an aura, she glows.

“I-I didn’t do th-that!” Tara says, not scared, she feels that Cordy is regenerating on her own, but worried. Willow looks sceptically, frowns at her girlfriend.

“Oh, that’s okay.” Wesley calms Tara. “Cordelia is half-demon. That’s how she regenerates the damage done through the visions. The PTB gave her the ability when she nearly died from the visions. It just takes a few hours after a vision until it starts. Whatever you did, Tara, it must have activated her inner healing energy and I am sure she’s very thankful for that.” Slowly Tara smiles and is proud of herself for having the courage to act in the first place.

“I guess the first thing we should do now is try to find Angel.” Wesley says, taking the initiative now Cordy is out for a while. Usually she needs up to an hour to completely heal herself. He hopes, this time, she’s going to be ready sooner.

“Oh! I can do that. Locator spell. No problem. Witch power here too. Just a moment. I need a candle and a map.” Willow babbles and looks around searching for the items.

“Well, there is a map on that wall.” Wes points to a big map pinned to a black board. Different colours mark the different areas and patrol routes through Sunnydale. Cemeteries are red, as are areas around the Bronze and down at the docks. Churches are blue. The Sunnydale High school is crossed out and with big red letters Hellmouth is written on it.

Under the map is a small sideboard with several drawers. Wesley goes over to it and pulls the first one open. He finds a torch, batteries, a few short candles and two lighters. Probably Giles put them there in case of an emergency like a black out. Always prepared, of course. Wes suppresses a snort. He takes a candle and a lighter out and holds them out to Willow who grabs them immediately. She lights the candle and sets it on the sideboard, and then she starts chanting quietly.

Only seconds later, a small light flickers over a red marked building at the city limits. “Angel.” Willow says and continues chanting. A second light appears close to Angel’s. “Xander.” The next light “Spike.” is right next to the others. Still, Willow keeps on chanting and a fourth light appears in the middle of the town in a red framed area. “Buffy.”

Tara and Wesley get closer to the map and read the street names. “Oh.” Tara says. “Buffy is in the cemetery where Spike has his crypt.” Wesley nods encouragingly and concentrates on reading the hand script over the red marked building at the city limits. “Mansion.” He reads loud. Willow lets her arms fall to her sides and the lights go out.

Gradually the light glow around Cordy subsided whilst the others concentrated on the map. She heard the last sentences and now slowly opens her eyes before speaking.

“That means we’re about as far away from the mansion as Buffy. We need to get going now if we want to be at the mansion before she is. I am sure she’s on the way there already.”

They all turn around to Cordy; Tara hesitates to blow out the candle.

“Hey, you’re back with us!” Wes exclaims happily and grins at Cordy. She takes the time to grin back before her facial expression goes back to business. “Come on now. We need to be faster than Buffy.” She stands up and stretches her body. She goes to the backdoor, looks out. Nobody can be seen, so she goes outside. “Hurry now.” The others follow slowly.

“Don’t we need weapons or something if we want to take on Angelus and his family?” Wes whispers hesitatingly.

“We’ve got witches! Who needs weapons!?” Cordy flips back.

Tara and Willow exchange a look.

t b c

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