|Seeking the Incomplete
Author: Marz1 PM
A BTVS FMA crossover. To keep the balance on the hellmouth, the Powers that be prevent the Slayer from returning to life in this world...but the powers don't control every world.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Drama - Chapters: 31 - Words: 145,959 - Reviews: 642 - Favs: 390 - Follows: 443 - Updated: 01-19-09 - Published: 09-14-06 - id: 3153578
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Seeking the Incomplete
Say Hi to Death for Me
The night was long. Ed couldn't sleep for even the two hours he'd been granted between patrols. They'd caught eight of the vampires Summer had warned them about. One patrol of six guards vanished and were found at dawn, drained of blood.
The Fuhrer had managed to catch one of the creatures alive by taking off its legs, but he left it in a car with the shades up and it had gone up in flames when the sunlight touched it.
Ed, the Stone Alchemist, and the Forest Alchemist were drafted to fix the tracks the vampires had pulled up the night before. It took about an hour. They probably could have finished faster, but Ed stalled a bit, trying to give Summer time to get back. If Stone and Forest noticed, they didn't say. They fired up the coal car and started up a last-minute inspection of the train. Ed rushed to the presidential car, and caught up to the Fuhrer a moment before he stepped inside.
"Fuhrer President, Sir!" Ed said, bowing quickly. "We can't go yet; Summer isn't back."
"Give us a moment," the Fuhrer said, waving away his aides.
"My dear Fullmetal Alchemist," he began, putting a hand on Ed's shoulder. To outside observers it might appear a fatherly gesture, but it was all Ed could do not to shout and squirm away as the Fuhrer's hand clamped down like a vice.
"I don't know how much you know or what your exact relationship to the mysterious Ms. Summers is, but you swore your loyalty to the State first," said the Fuhrer. A flash of rage passed across his face and something in Ed's shoulder cracked. "I won't tolerate traitors, Fullmetal, not even one as talented as you. Should you test my patience again, you may find that you drag others down with you: your brother, Colonel Hughes, that mechanic who came halfway across the country to patch you up; for example."
Ed started to growl out a threat of his own, but the Fuhrer crushed down harder and there was another snap. Agony shot through him, but he didn't flinch away. Ed glared but kept his mouth shut.
The Fuhrer plastered a paternal smile across his face. "You have a high tolerance for pain, and I respect that, but you are not indispensable. This is your only warning. Few get even that. Do you understand?"
"I'm sure Ms. Summers will catch up!" the Fuhrer added cheerfully, letting go. "Keep up the good work, Fullmetal!"
Ed bowed and went to his new compartment. Winry was leaning against Al, half-awake with her wrench still in her hand.
The Fuhrer was right. Summer would catch up. Even if she didn't catch up to the train, she would be alright. Summer was one of them. She couldn't really be harmed anymore.
Ed turned in a circle in the small space, feeling as if he were forgetting something very important. He slumped on the edge of the seat. His automail plug and now his left shoulder were aching. There was no way he would sleep.
They came across several more blockades and missing sections of track. Each time they stopped, and Ed was called forth to make repairs. Once they nearly collided with another train that had partially jumped the track. Clouds of flies moved inside the brown-stained windows. Ed went to help search the other locomotive, but a soldier coming back out of it grabbed Ed and clamped a hand over the teenager's eyes. He dragged Ed back to their own train, mumbling prayers the whole way. Armstrong cleared the rest of the crashed train from the track, and they continued on.
It was a journey that should have taken four hours, but it stretched into ten. They passed several burned-out stations with people waving desperately to them. They didn't even slow down.
Finally they turned out onto the plains, and Eastern Headquarters lay ahead of them. Ed could see many buildings around the military base were burning and clouds of smoke trailed up into the sky. They pulled into the station, which was a bit scorched, but not actively burning. There were two dozen soldiers in blue uniforms lined up on the platform. As the brakes squealed and the train settled, Ed saw the worn-looking men and women were carrying long wooden pikes as well as rifles.
Al grabbed Winry's suitcase and followed Ed as he scrambled out of the compartment. Winry followed, for once not complaining about being rushed. All the other alchemists were in a hurry to get out as well, and the platform was soon swarming with annoyingly tall people. Ed finally decided to follow the royal party, because he could see Armstrong leading the group rather purposefully toward the ticket counter.
"Who's in charge here?" one of the Fuhrer's aides demanded.
Ed pushed through a line of tall men in blue just in time to see Lieutenant Hawkeye step forward. Her hair was pulled back in its usual professional bun, and her uniform was probably the cleanest one on the platform, but somehow she still looked a mess.
"Sir," she said, saluting. "Did our messengers get through?"
"No," the Fuhrer said. "Who is in command here? Where is General Hakuro?"
"You won't see him in daylight, sir," Hawkeye said. "Most of the officers were turned weeks ago. Those of us who haven't been made into vampires have been trying to regain control of Eastern in hopes of warning Central Command. Unfortunately, many soldiers are still following Hakuro's orders, despite the fact that he's dead. Fuhrer President, Sir, if you could come with us to the forward camp, your presence might be enough to convince the living troops still siding with Hakuro of the legitimacy of our operation."
"Are you the ranking officer here?" the Fuhrer asked. "What happened to your commanding officer, Colonel Mustang?"
Hawkeye looked away, and Ed felt his stomach drop.
"Answer me, Lieutenant."
Ed didn't want her to answer.
Lt. Riza Hawkeye slipped along the wall, aware of all the eyes that came to rest on her in the open spaces. Her side arm, and her backup, and her holdout and the gun in her ankle holster were all fully loaded, but it didn't make her feel any safer.
Fuery, Breda, and Falman were waiting in her apartment. The dorms weren't safe, and at the moment rumors of fraternization were the least of her concerns. Fuery had brought a little black and white dog with him when he came with his duffle and sleeping bag. He said he'd come across someone trying to eat the small whimpering animal the night before. They were waiting for the colonel to arrive so they could plan their next move. He wasn't even late yet, but her stomach was twisting and she knew something was wrong.
There was no one on duty at the West Gate entrance and she rushed through, her steps coming faster and faster as she crossed the courtyard to the Alchemists' building. She darted up the stairs and ran full tilt down the hall to Mustang's office. She kicked open the door, drawing her gun. Her mouth dropped open and she froze.
Havoc and Mustang were sprawled across the Colonel's desk, and Havoc's face was pressed to other man's throat. There was an obscene slurping sound.
The gun went off in her hands.
The bullet struck Havoc high in the shoulder and he slowly raised his head. His normally blue eyes were now a jaundiced yellow and blood ran down his chin. He smiled, his enlarged canines sticking out past his lower lip.
"No need to get jealous, Riza," Havoc said, smirking. "I'll share."
She emptied the rest of the clip into him. He flinched a little as the bullets struck, but didn't seem especially perturbed.
"That wasn't very nice," he said as he got up off the desk.
Mustang slumped to the ground without the other's support. He wasn't dead, at least. Hawkeye could tell by the rhythmic spurts of blood coming from the wound in his neck. She'd have thought him unconscious at least, but as Havoc came towards her, Mustang flopped towards him and managed to catch the other man's ankle.
Havoc tripped slightly, and then kicked himself free. He looked back at Hawkeye just in time to see her boot slam into his chin. He stumbled backwards, falling against the Colonel's desk and stepping on its owner. She kicked him in the chest, and while her leg was extended, pulled the gun from her ankle holster. She shot him three times in the forehead.
Havoc collapsed and lay still on the office floor, half sprawled across the colonel. Hawkeye grabbed Mustang under the shoulders and pulled him free, dragging him out into the hall, keeping an eye on Havoc the entire time. Havoc wasn't breathing. His eyes were open, yellow and staring, but he didn't blink even as blood from the wound in his forehead dribbled into them.
She looked down at Mustang. The wound on his neck was ragged. It looked more like a dog had bit him than a human. His mouth moved, almost soundlessly repeating "leave" and "burn it" over and over again.
She pulled a clean handkerchief from her pocket and pressed it to the wound in Mustang's neck. Her C.O. watched her with slightly glazed eyes as she tore off the sleeve of her uniform and used it to secure the makeshift bandage. It was already soaking through with blood, but there wasn't much else she could do. She couldn't run and get a doctor. There had to be more of those things, all around. She considered calling the others at her apartment. The phones weren't all that reliable lately, but the one in the Colonel's office…
She looked in the door to see if the phone had survived the fight.
Havoc was gone.
She got up and grabbed the colonel under the arms again, dragging him down the hall. Her eyes stayed on the door to his office the whole time. She got to the stairs and peered over her shoulder. There was nobody on the landing. The way looked clear.
When she looked back, Havoc was standing in the hall.
"Where are you going to take him, Riza?" Havoc asked. "He's already dying."
She leveled her gun.
"That won't kill me," Havoc said.
"It seemed to slow you down," she said.
"For a bit," he said. "But I'll be fine in a few days. You should let me finish, Hawkeye. In a day, he'll be fine, too."
"Stay back," she warned evenly.
"He needs to drink some of my blood," Havoc said. "He'll wake up tomorrow night, feeling just fine. He won't ever see the sun again, but he'll live forever. Don't you want him to live forever? What would you do without him, Riza?"
Havoc took a step closer and she shot him again. He started to dodge and bring up his arm. Instead of another head shot, she only grazed his forearm. He charged towards her. She shot again, but he was too close and she was still holding up the colonel with one arm. He plowed into her and she was thrown off her feet. She flailed as she dropped, missing every step of the stairs and crashing in a heap on the next landing. Her gun went off again, knocking plaster off the wall.
The wind was knocked out of her and she shook as she got up on her hands and knees. She saw Havoc leaning over the colonel again, pressing his wounded arm to the dying man's face. Mustang was trying to push him away. She brought up her gun, but her arm wobbled, and she didn't trust her aim. She grabbed the railing and dragged herself up the staircase. Havoc saw her coming and dragged the colonel further down the hall, where she couldn't see.
It couldn't have taken her more than half a minute to get to the top of the steps, but Havoc was already stepping back from Mustang's body.
"Too late!" Havoc called as he vanished into another office.
Hawkeye rushed to the still form of her commanding officer. He was still breathing, but was no longer conscious. There was blood smeared all over his face, and soaking his collar. She didn't know what she could do. He needed surgery. He needed a blood transfusion. Moving him would make it worse, but he would die in the hallway if she didn't. Choking back a sob, she wrapped his arms around her shoulders and staggered upright.
She gritted her teeth and started walking. She got him down the stairs. He was bleeding all over her shoulders. She wondered if those creatures could smell it. No one stopped her as she dragged Mustang past the security desk, but from the corner of her eye she saw something dart up the staircase she'd just left. She kicked open the main doors, and staggered to the stairs.
There was a shadow, hunched over and moving down the steps ahead of her. It had been coming towards the door, but had turned when it sprung open. It looked like a man; she could see his shoulders moving as he breathed, hurrying away, but not quite running. She realized she recognized the fleeing man.
"!" Hawkeye called.
The man turned to look at her as she dragged her bleeding C.O. across the courtyard towards him. She'd seen Wilkons that afternoon before heading to her apartment to check in with the rest of Colonel Mustang's people. If what Havoc said was true, that meant he wasn't one of them, not if she'd seen him in sunlight the same day.
"Lt. Wilkons, I need your assistance!" she called.
He turned away and kept walking.
"Wilkons!" she called. "Wilkons, please! I need to get the Colonel to a hospital."
He ignored her. She pulled her side arm.
"I will shoot you in the back!" she called.
He paused and looked over his shoulder at her.
"Go ahead, Lieutenant," he said and started walking again.
"Wilkons! Wilkons you bastard! Wilkons!" her voice echoed off the walls.
He got to the other side of the courtyard, and ducked around the side of the building. She could hear his footsteps fading away.
"The Colonel is currently not fit for duty," Hawkeye said.
"Is he at the forward camp?" the Fuhrer asked.
"No sir," Hawkeye said. "He's in the hospital."
Ed looked at Hawkeye's face. She was practically the Colonel's shadow. If he was alive, why wasn't she with him? Breda or Havoc could be out here meeting with them, couldn't they?
Ed supposed that could mean the other two officers were dead. Or it might mean Mustang was. Dead or alive, Hawkeye would still be following Colonel Mustang's orders, though.
The Fuhrer was watching her too, though Ed didn't think the man knew her well enough for her face to give away her feelings.
"I take it the Colonel is in a nice, sunny room," the Fuhrer said.
"All our people are sun checked every day, sir," she said.
"I think we will visit the Colonel first, before we have any kind of confrontation with Hakuro. Is he in the military hospital or-"
"Sir! There's something coming down the tracks!" a soldier called down from the roof of a building across the street from the station.
"What is it?" Hawkeye called.
"It's three flat cars with people all over them, and a hand car pulling it! They appear to be civilians, ma'am," the man on the roof bellowed.
Everyone on the platform looked West, to the speck that was growing out of the base of the hills. Those with binoculars pulled them out. Ed jumped, but the crowd that had been following the Fuhrer was too thick and annoyingly tall for Ed to see anything.
"It's Summer!" Al declared, completely unimpeded.
Winry grabbed one of Al's shoulder spikes and put a foot in the knee joint of his armor. With a huff, she pulled herself up Al's back so she, too, could see above the crowd. Ed had a conflicted moment before he did the same. If a freakishly tall person like Winry needed a boost to see, then there was nothing wrong with Ed getting one, too.
From over Al's shoulder, he could see the ragged line of cars, pulled along without an engine. Instead, a pale figure with a few scraps of blue cloth still attached to her was pumping the lever on the hand car up and down, with enough force to pull the crowded makeshift train behind her. Even a quarter mile out, Ed thought he could see the sun reflecting off her teeth as she grinned.
"Braking procedure!" Summer shouted.
Assorted pipes and boards were held over the side of the makeshift train and it dragged to a stop a hundred yards out from the station. The refugees climbed down and rushed towards the apparent safety of the city. Ed recognized several of the people they hadn't stopped for among them, and at the head of the not-so-little group was a worn but still grinning Summer.
"Did you guys just get here?" she bellowed.
"We had to fix a lot of the tracks!" Ed bellowed back.
"Yeah, right!" Summer said.
The Fuhrer looked a bit annoyed, but didn't speak against the arriving group.
"Hey! You got digs for these people? Daylight is burning!" she called.
"Who is that?" one of the exhausted local soldiers asked.
Summer hopped up onto the train platform as if it were the simplest thing in the world to hop five feet into the air from a standing start. She landed with unnatural grace on the edge of the platform, and blue uniformed soldiers stumbled back and into each other to clear a path between her and the royal party.
"Private Summers!" Armstrong called. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," she said. "But I'll be great if somebody remembered to bring my shoes along."
"We've got them!" Al declared. "One of the search groups brought them in before we moved the train."
Al bent to get them out of Winry's suitcase, and accidentally dislodged Ed and Winry from his shoulders in the process. Helpful soldiers caught Winry. Ed landed on the platform on his butt. Ed kicked his brother's ankle and was calling him a klutz when a strong hand grabbed the back of his shirt and pulled him back to his feet.
"Didn't miss me too much, did you, Shorty?" Summer asked, spinning Ed around and slapping some of the dust off his clothes. She was grinning sharply, but her eyes did not show any hints of purple.
"Who are you calling short?!" Ed demanded. "You undersized, overbearing, -Hey, that's cheating!"
As he spoke, Al had handed Summer her shoes. She slipped them on and gained three inches of height in the middle of Ed's rant. Summer winked at him. Killing an army of undead monsters really seemed to have improved her mood.
"So who's the boss around here?" Summer asked. "We've got maybe a couple hours before the vamps come out, and I've got almost a hundred people who need homes to bunk in. And I'm starving!" she declared, pulling Ed along towards the royal party. "You've been in this city before, right, Ed? Where can I get a really rare steak? Or maybe chocolate mousse? Or pot stickers? I'd kill a chaos demon with a q-tip for some pot stickers!"
"Private Summers," the Fuhrer said, cutting off her babbling before Ed could ask what a "chaos demon" or a "q-tip" was. "What do you have to report?"
Summer straightened up, and saluted politely, though with three quarters of her uniform gone, she didn't exactly look professional doing it.
"It took me longer than I expected to run down the sixty that headed for the hills. The last few of them found a car an hour before dawn and they were a bitch to catch. After I dusted them, I came across a bunch of village people hanging around the tracks as I followed your train. They all wanted to come to the Eastern military base. I tried to tell them they'd be better off in their own homes, but they seemed to think you all would have things under control around your power base. I guess not, though. The countryside is lousy with vamps. I couldn't stop to stake them all or we wouldn't have made it here before dark. This place, though…"
She trailed off, closing her eyes and turning her head as if trying to hear something.
"This place is vamp central," Summer said. "We might even find the big bad around here. Vampires wouldn't get this dense unless an uber badass was making them stick together. So much competition, not a lot of people to eat…"
"Private Summers, was it?" Hawkeye said as she trailed off again. "Perhaps you can give your report as we move? The forward camp is-"
"Lt. Hawkeye," the Fuhrer said in a cold tone. "We are going to see Colonel Mustang first."
"Sir, he isn't in any condition to assist you. General Hakuro's men-"
"What are you so squirrely about?" Summer asked. "Is he vampire or something?"
"No," Hawkeye said. "Not yet."
The shapeshifter was a challenge to follow and in the end she decided to follow the fat one. It was clear the two creatures were heading to the same place. Willow had watched them as they wandered through towns she'd taken over. The creatures would put some effort into killing the vampires they came across, but if a human got near them, the fat one wouldn't hesitate to eat them. After a few days of inspecting, the creatures began heading north, and Willow followed them all the way to a mansion outside the city of Dublith.
It was a huge house, and it probably cost a fortune-and-a-half just to maintain it. Willow didn't think much of the decor, all heavy drapes and lumpish blocks of furniture. If she decided to make this her new secret base, she'd definitely do something about that.
A girl in a French maid outfit stepped into her path, and it wasn't the nice French maid outfit, so glamorized in Halloween costumes, it was the old-fashioned, frumpy kind that went all the way to the ankle.
"May I help you with something?" the maid asked.
Her hands were clenched around a strange locket that looked almost like a gyroscope. Willow assumed it was some kind of talisman or weapon. Willow twitched her fingers and it flew from the girl's hand.
"I'm here to speak to your boss," Willow said. "Be a dear and wake her."
"Mistress Dante does not wish to be disturbed," the girl said, shifting nervously.
Willow smirked. "I can see you're more afraid of her than you are of me, but you shouldn't be."
Willow smiled wider and she felt the darkness leaking across the surface of her eyes. The girl turned and fled. Willow followed more slowly after her. She heard quiet steps as something came out of a side room and stalked down the hall behind her. She reached out with her magic and felt the thing in the dark. It was the shapeshifter. She grinned and winked at it. It growled and threw itself at her.
Willow waved a hand and stripped the thing's skin off.
It shrieked in frustration but kept coming, sparkling with purple light as it regenerated, and leaving bloody footprints on the carpet. It got almost close enough to touch her when Willow flicked her hand again, and sent it tumbling back down the hall.
Willow continued her stroll through the mansion, finally coming to a dimly lit dining room, the table still laid out with glittering dishes.
"What's all this?" asked a wavering, elderly voice.
The door on the other side of the dining room swung open and an old woman in a bathrobe shuffled in, her slippers flapping and dragging with each step. The French maid was following behind her, with a lantern in one hand and a pistol in the other.
"Why are you disturbing our peace at such an hour?" the old woman demanded.
"Well," Willow said. "Your evil minions are eating my evil minions and I think that's very counterproductive to…well, evil in general."
"My dear, I think you have mistaken me for someone else," the old woman said. "I would never be involved in anything like that. I must ask you to leave."
Willow could feel the rot withering the old body across the room. She could feel the even more ancient thing inside it. She could feel its pulsing lust, stretched out in dark tendrils towards her and the maid with the gun. She could almost hear it calling. I will be young. I will be warm in that flesh. I will live. I will live. Willow kept grinning as the magic whispered secrets in her ears.
Her mind was so cluttered with the spells she'd taken from Giles' library she often wasn't sure which ones she was using at any one time. She often found them interacting in unusual and destructive ways, and had to pick them apart before they destroyed her. It kept her busy, and it kept her mind off the past. It gave her what she needed to keep moving forward. Willow existed in the midst of onrushing chaos. Adding this ancient woman's spells to her own could only make it better.
"You don't want me to leave yet, granny," Willow said. "Because if I leave now, I'll leave in a bad mood, and this place will be a smoking crater behind me. You'll want to do your best to cheer me up, or you won't live to regret it."
Willow waved her hand and the maid's head twisted suddenly. The room echoed with the sound of her neck snapping. The body fell to the ground and the lantern crashed and shattered. Lamp oil splattered and burst into flame, setting the old woman's clothes alight.
The old woman pressed her hands together, and the fire went out. Willow felt the floor rumble beneath her feet and drifted a few lazy steps to the side to avoid the forest of needles that sprouted from the floor.
She felt the hulking creature that was sneaking up behind her, and she dodged again. It leapt through the space where she had been floating and crashed into the dining table, smashing the thick furniture into kindling and flipping plates and flatware into the air.
Willow raised a hand and kept the table settings floating, making the items spin so all the sharp edges were pointing at the old woman.
The old woman pressed her hands together again and the floor tore itself up, intercepting the projectiles before they could find their human target. The hulking creature got to its stubby feet and looked at Willow, whining like a dog. It leapt again, and this time Willow turned into mist, and it passed right through her.
"Why won't she go in my mouth?" the stupid fat creature asked.
The room filled with fire, but Willow had slipped out of the way again. This time she moved out of step with reality. She moved back in synch as the heat faded, and grinned at the old woman who stood in the burned room, looking more than a little annoyed. There was a purple pile of sparks on the ground, which grew and expanded back into the glutton.
"Ouch," the creature whined, before putting its fingers into its mouth as if to soothe a burn.
"Are you beginning to see how pointless this is?" Willow asked.
"It's not pointless, my dear," the old woman said. "It's called a diversion."
The scorched floor under Willow lit up as an array activated.
"Uh-oh," Willow muttered as dark arms wrapped around her.
She looked back over her shoulder, and saw the Gate, standing open, purple eyes staring out at her. Willow reached out with her magic, struggling to connect herself to the life force of this world. It pulled away from her. It knew she didn't belong. It wanted her gone. Everyone always wanted her gone. They wanted to leave her. They wanted her to be alone.
She dug in and shrieked as the Gate tried to pull her away. The house rattled as she used her spells to anchor herself. The floor beneath her feet buckled and pieces of the array snapped up. The dark arms still clung to her, though, and Dante stood watching with her hands pressed together. She didn't look frightened, even as her house fell down around her.
"My dear, what did you think you'd accomplish by coming here?" Dante asked. "This is my place. Did you think I would let you take it from me?"
Willow gritted her teeth and pulled, but the Gate gave her no ground. She had used this entity to get into this world. And she was fairly certain it was the same thing that had taken her eyes and Xander's arm and leg. It had taken Buffy with the blessing of the powers of their own world. She hated it.
Willow could feel the blood pouring out of her nose as she stretched out with her powers. This Gate demanded sacrifice; she would find one. She couldn't get to Dante or her creatures, and she'd killed the only other human in the immediate vicinity. She admitted to herself that that murder was a bit short-sighted.
Even as her strength started to ebb, she found two souls. She didn't have a very clear sense of them. They were walking together in the woods, miles away, but closer than the town. They were very attached to each other, so Willow grabbed them both.
The couple appeared between her and the Gate, amid the arms. The arms released Willow and seized the easier prey. For a moment she saw a middle-aged couple, a man with a frayed scarf and a woman with a flower in her hair. They had been holding hands, and still were as they were pulled into the dark. The Gate slammed closed behind them.
Willow exhaled slowly.
"You almost got me, granny," she said.
The shapeshifter and the glutton had moved to the old woman's side. The creatures watched her with purple, cat-shaped eyes. Willow still couldn't see any fear in the old woman's face, but it could just be hidden under layers of wrinkles. Willow was herself feeling a little shaky. Though the Gate hadn't managed to pull her in, its very touch left her feeling drained.
"You asked me why I came here?" Willow asked. "I'm looking for someone that was stolen from me. Your pets are in my way. I could care less what you do as long as it doesn't get in my way."
"Your creatures are quite destructive," Dante said. "They have thrown this country into chaos. Thousands of people are dead. Aren't you concerned that this person you are looking for might be among them?"
"I'm looking for the Slayer," Willow said. "It'll take more than a few thousand vampires to cause her problems. They'll draw her out, though."
Willow saw the shapeshifter grit its teeth as the word 'Slayer' registered.
"And you intend to find this Slayer, and take her with you when you leave?" Dante asked.
Willow smirked. "That's the plan."
"Then perhaps we can come to terms," Dante said.
"I don't know," Willow said. "It might just be easier to get rid of you."
"If it were that easy for you, you would've done it," Dante said. "Perhaps we are not evenly matched, but I am not someone you can simply brush aside. If you want to remove the Slayer from my realm, I have no objections. Your search methods leave something to be desired, though. You could have just asked where she was."
"Do you really know something, or are you just stalling for time again?" Willow asked.
Dante turned to the shapeshifter. "Envy, if you would?"
The shapeshifter gritted its teeth, and purple sparks flew from its skin. A moment later, Buffy was standing in front of her. She was dressed in a jumpsuit, sewn together from random scraps of cloth. Her face was smeared with clay and some darker substance, mimicking the tribal paint of the first Slayer.
"Looking for me?" Buffy asked.
Author's Note: This update took forever and a half, but I think I've worked out the plot issues that have been holding things up.