Finding out that her name was Dawn didn't miraculously bring her memories flooding back like she'd hoped it would.
But her unsuccessful search for a diary did lead her to something interesting: a heavy leather-bound book hidden under her mattress.
Putting on headphones to block out the sexcapades next door, Dawn started to read.
Into every generation a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer.
The woman was disoriented when she first woke up, and that made her cranky. So when the boy in her bed yelped at the accidental meeting of her forehead and his temple, she was disinclined to apologise
But since he seemed equally disinclined to wake up – grunting and rolling over to burrow further into his pillow – it didn't seem to matter overly much.
She watched him twitch and shift in his sleep for a while. His grunts and snuffles grew in volume and frequency until they became loud, police-siren-like snores.
Mentally rolling her eyes, she sat up in bed and looked around the room. An overflowing laundry basket poured out from the closet door. The floor was covered in so much stuff she couldn't even see whether it was carpet or wood.
She shuddered. I put up with this? The sex has to be some kind of incredible to make it worthwhile.
She frowned. Wait, how come Ican't remember the sex?
She gasped. I don't even know what I look like!
She got out of bed – idly noticing her feet were on carpet, not wood – and went to examine herself in the full-length mirror.
At least I'm pretty, whoever I am.
She was really quite relieved by that.
Then she noticed the very large box under the bed.
The redheaded girl let out a yip of shock. Her skin was glowing. Like actually emitting light glowing.
Her equally lustrous lover beamed up at her, rubbing her cheek against her thigh. "It's magic. We're magic." She put her fingers to her lips and slowly licked them clean.
"M-magic? But that's not real," the redhead said hesitantly, her breathing still a little ragged.
The blonde snorted with mirth. "Of course it's real. We've been raising magic together since we woke up." She stared up at the oh-so-sexy redhead and wiggled her eyebrows suggestively. "Wanna raise some more?"
The woman finally lost patience with the boy's snoring. But he wouldn't respond to her perfectly polite requests to be quiet. Then he absolutely refused to roll onto his side, no matter how hard she pushed. So of course she was reduced to repeatedly elbowing him in the ribs until he woke up.
He was now sitting on the other side of the bed, seething in angry silence, while they both stared anywhere and everywhere but at each other.
Finally, she said, "We could have sex."
The boy's jaw dropped. "What is wrong with you? We have no idea who we are! We could be brain damaged or dying of poisonous gas or something!"
"It's my hair, isn't it? If it was darker you'd want to have sex with me." She examined a tendril, pouting. Then she looked over at him, eyes narrowing. "You're not gay, are you?"
He goggled at her. "My god! Full of yourself much?"
For the third time, they heard the snap of a wooden slat breaking.
The girl froze. "Floor?" she asked breathlessly.
The man moaned.
"I'll take that as a yes."
"Maybe we could watch a movie?" the boy asked tentatively.
The woman shrugged. "I guess that's better than sitting here in awkward silence while we don't have sex."
"Could you go thirty seconds without bringing up sex? Please?"
"I don't understand why it bothers you so much! Based on all the toys and restraints in the box under our bed, we have a very active sex life. Is it so wrong of me to want to reconnect in that way?"
"YES!" he snapped. "We have no idea who we are! It's terrifying! Not sexy! Only a crazy person would want to have sex right now!"
"Watching a movie is just ignoring the problem and hoping it'll go away on its own! How is that any less crazy?"
"I need a drink."
She frowned in thought. Something about drinking…."ID!" she screeched, finally. "Our ID will tell us who we are!"
"You're wearin' my only clean shirt, y'know," the man said petulantly.
The girl stuck out her tongue at him.
He started kissing her skin where the hemline of the black cotton t-shirt brushed against her thighs.
"Hey!" she said, giggling. "You said you'd be less distracted if I put something on!"
He pushed the shirt aside to gently bite down on her bare hip. "An' you thought wearin' my shirt would be less distracting?" He tsked. "Silly Buffy."
"But you need a name," she whined as he slid his hands up and under the shirt to cup her breasts.
"So name me," he said. "After I've ravished you."
Xander belched. Loudly.
Anya glared at him.
He was on his fourth beer now. He was hoping that if he kept drinking, things would get better. It hadn't worked so far. But he could still hope.
There was a lot of beer in their fridge.
He liked sex as much as the next guy – more, maybe – but he had no idea who he was. He didn't know how he felt about Anya, or how she felt about him. What if he'd forgotten how to do it right? All that stuff in the box under the bed looked really complicated. Worse, what if he couldn't get her off? She'd probably yell at him. She was scary when she yelled. There was this vein that kinda popped out in her forehead and her eyes got all flashy. Like death rays.
But he didn't want to admit how scared he was – or worse, how soft he was – so he kept on blustering, telling her how it was her that was weird and wrong for wanting what she wanted. He kept hoping she'd just drop it before he was forced to say something really awful. He just had to make sure she never knew how he was feeling. He knew he couldn't handle her having even less respect for him than she already did.
Oh look, time for beer number five….
Anya thumbed through the address book she'd found in her purse – again – but its contents hadn't changed. Six entries: R. Giles, Xander Harris, The Magic Box, Willow Rosenberg, Spike No-Last-Name, and Buffy Summers.
What kind of awful, depressing, lonely life did she have that she only knew five people?
Maybe the Magic Box would have some answers. According to her business cards, she was "proprietor" there. Or at least some indication that she had a life outside of Xander and their apartment.
The blonde girl's face was serious. "Everything feels off somehow, like our energy's being blocked, disrupted somehow. Can't you feel it?"
The redhead concentrated. Somewhere very far away, she could almost hear what sounded like the baseline from a party three streets over. It made her feel kind of buzzy and floaty. Not unpleasant, but….
"I wonder what's causing it," the blonde said thoughtfully, slipping out of bed.
The redhead stopped concentrating on the far-away noise, and watched her naked lover look through the contents of the room, picking up and putting down books and candles and crystals. "Are you a – a witch?" she asked finally.
The blonde frowned thoughtfully. "Maybe … I seem to know things. Hey look!" She brought one of the books back to the bed. It looked like a recipe book – one of those ones designed to have clippings and cards and handwritten notes added to it.
In the front flyleaf was written, "For Tara, because the magic will live on in you. Love Mom."
"I guess I'm Tara," Tara said, a smile lighting up her face.
Knowing his name made Rupert Giles feel better, more in control.
But his ID just raised more questions. His California drivers' license had a Sunnydale address, but his British passport had an address in Bath. His wallet revealed a mixture of British and American cards, a work ID for somewhere in London, and a couple of business cards identifying him as the proprietor of The Magic Box in Sunnydale.
His suitcase tags had the same Bath address as his passport, so he presumed he must have very recently returned to the UK after some time living in California.
But why would he move? And why come back when he hadn't even been gone long enough to change his drivers' license?
The next of kin listed in his passport was his "business partner", Anya Jenkins, care of the Magic Box. No one would pick such an impersonal connection if they had other options. So he must not have any living family.
Well, either that or his business partner was more than just his business partner.
He was suddenly assaulted by the image of some hennaed New Age harridan surrounded by a cloud of patchouli oil or some other awful incense fragrance. He shuddered. No, definitely just a business partner.
But if he had no family and all the indications of being able to easily afford a hotel, why was he sleeping on someone else's sofa? And in a house that looked as if a hurricane had gone through it recently?
Then he discovered the trunk full of weapons.
Not a hurricane. A fight.
"Oh, gross!' Dawn shrieked. "There's bags of blood in the fridge!"
John winced. Whatever it was he'd done to his head, he seemed particularly sensitive to noise – or at least, particularly sensitive to Dawn's noise. That girl had a shriek that could shatter glass. "Maybe I was gettin' ready to make black pudding?"
Rupert's eyes widened in shock. "You have no idea what your name is, yet you can remember how to make your own black pudding?"
John shrugged, going back to his hunt through the cupboards for dinner ideas.
"Ewww," Dawn said. She gave John an affectionate shove. "Told you he was probably a short-order cook in some dive. With no ID and his looks? No way he has a real job."
"Doubt anyone here in salad country would appreciate black puddin'," John said, giving Dawn a good-natured shove back. He grinned. "Pro'ly bought it specially to make Gilesy here feel more at home."
"My name is Rupert," Rupert sighed.
"Sure, Giles. Whatever you say." John laughed, shutting the final cupboard door and turning to Buffy. "Looks like we've got all the makings for a mole poblano. Fancy that, kitten?"
"I vote chocolate," said Buffy. "Ix-nay on the blood."
"I'm so hungry," John said, absently rubbing his belly. "Feel like I haven't eaten in days."
"Perhaps you haven't," Rupert said. "We really must discover what's happened to us."
"After we eat," Buffy said. She prodded John. "You'd almost think a wild animal was in the room, the way his stomach's been growling."
"The most obvious next step would seem to be a hospital," Rupert said. "We're all a bit banged up – even if John and I are the only ones with head injuries. There must be some sort of medical explanation for all of this."
"But real amnesia is nothing like this!" Dawn said, exasperated. "This is … this is a soap opera disease! I think it's some kind of magic spell."
Rupert snorted. "A magic spell? Magic is all balderdash and chicanery."
"No, it isn't," a new voice said. "Magic is real."
They all turned to see Tara standing in the kitchen doorway, Willow hovering in the hallway behind her.
"Who the hell are you?" Buffy asked, eyes flinty. She'd been expecting to see the older woman from all the photos with her and Dawn – the one they'd assumed was their mother – not these girls who looked younger than her.
Willow shifted from one foot to the other. The tiny blonde in the kitchen looked kind of scary-aggressive.
"I'm Tara," Tara said, "and this is Willow. We've got the third bedroom upstairs." She looked around carefully. "You've all lost your memories, too, haven't you?"
"H-how did you know that?" Rupert asked.
Tara smiled. "Well, I hope we'd have recognised each other otherwise."
Rupert looked embarrassed.
"But you also all seem to have the same weird disruptions to your energy as Willow and me," Tara continued.
In the ensuing stunned silence, Dawn said, "I found a book this morning that I think everyone needs to see. I'm not sure it has answers, exactly, but it might explain why we all live together."
"So d'you think Dawn really is a Slaughterer, or whatever that book called it?" John asked, readjusting the bags of dirty laundry he was carrying.
"I guess," Buffy said, a little wistfully. "I mean, the book was in her room. And I get the impression they don't live very long, so the rest of us are probably too old now." Buffy shivered. I don't want Dawnie to die. We've had too much death already.
She stumbled over a stretch of uneven pavement, and one of her bags fell off her shoulder and slammed against him.
"Christ! Keep that away from me!" John practically howled, dropping three of his bags in his rush to get away, covering his face against the stench. "I think it's burning away nose cartilage."
"You big baby. It's just a little smelly," Buffy laughed. "God, Dawn's so messy. Bet no one else would leave all those gore-soaked clothes to stink out the bathroom. I'd have left them to soak overnight."
"Just keep it away from me," John said, picking up his fallen bags, managing to keep one hand over his nose and mouth. He moved so he was upwind of Buffy. "Why did you volunteer us for this?" he whined.
"Because you and Rupert have no clean clothes and we're not special like the others," Buffy said matter-of-factly, if a little resentfully. "We're not witches and we don't have superpowers, so we can cook and do laundry." She laughed. "Besides, if we'd stayed we'd have had to do research like one of those Witness guys." She scrunched up her face in distaste.
John tucked his tongue behind his teeth and leered at her. "Can imagine you in research mode: glasses perched on the tip of your nose, hair all bound up in a messy bun. Maybe a pencil skirt. Dead sexy."
"Someone has librarian fantasies," Buffy said, giggling.
"Buffy fantasies, more like," he retorted.
She examined him for a minute. "I can't see you in glasses, somehow."
John started laughing. "Ol' Gilesy looked about ready to swallow his tongue when you said he seemed like an ideal candidate for Wanker-General. Still surprised he didn' run for the hills then an' there."
"Watcher! That's it, not Witness." Buffy giggled. "He still thinks we're going to find some sort of reasonable scientific explanation for all of this."
"Ah, Dawn's right – this is nothing like medical amnesia. An' the idea of magic feels true, somehow."
Buffy nodded, then shivered. "I just … I wonder who hates us so much they'd take our memories away."
When he arrived at the Magic Box, Rupert was shocked and dismayed to find a table full of books and scribbled notes on how to protect someone from magical interference. He felt sick when he realised it was all in his handwriting.
So not only had he been dangerously mistaken in his insistence that magic didn't exist, but it looked like he really was a – what was it Dawn had called it? Her Observer?
Just then, the bell above the front door jangled.
He'd locked the door behind him, so this must be Anya Jenkins! Either that or whoever erased our memories is returning to do something worse….
His breath caught in his throat at the sight of the stunningly beautiful blonde standing in the doorway.
"What are you doing in my store?" Anya asked harshly. "It's closed. You can't buy anything."
He bristled. "Your store! This is my store."
Anya reeled back in shock. "You can't possibly be R. Giles," she said, disbelief evident in her voice. She'd expected her partner to be a white-haired old goat with tufts of hair coming out of his ears and a hearing problem. But this man, with his high cheekbones and dimpled chin, perfect posture and rumpled suit….
Rupert sighed. "Let me guess: your name is Anya Jenkins and you've been having some problems with your memory?"
It turned out John's domestic skills started and ended in the kitchen – Buffy only just managed to stop him from boil washing everything – but all the clothes and bedding got into a machine eventually.
"I guess now we wait," Buffy said, sighing.
John pursed his lips. "Might have some ideas 'bout how to keep us occupied," he drawled.
"Oh yeah?" she said, eyes dancing in anticipation, as she walked towards where John lounged on a wooden bench.
Then they heard the door to the laundromat opening. The man outside was so tall and wide, he had to duck his head and twist his shoulders just to fit through the doorway.
When he saw John, his whole face lit up in an ear-to-ear grin.
Buffy gasped. Every tooth in his head had been filed down to points.
"Spike!" the behemoth said, his voice so deep they could almost feel the vibrations.
Then in a move that seemed impossibly fast given his size, he launched himself at John.