Chapter 6: Witch Part 1

Marie woke to the smell of breakfast cooking in the kitchen and smiled when she noticed Clay was not in bed next to her. "So anything exciting happening today?" she asked when she had gotten dressed and found Anne, Savannah and Clay in the kitchen. She kissed Clay as she looked for her twin children. "Are Logan and Joyce up?"

"Watching some cartoon on TV in the living room," Clay said. "Then Buffy and I are going to be taking them for a run after breakfast."

Marie nodded as she thought back on how both of her children had inherited the werewolf gene from her and Clay. In fact from what Jeremy, the current leader of the North American werewolf Pack, had told her and Anne, all females before Joyce were bitten, there were no hereditary female werewolves known to exist. Of course to their knowledge no female werewolves before herself had ever had children either.

Anne nodded. "On what's happening with my past self. This is when I tried out for cheerleading and when both Faith and I had that spell cast upon us that almost killed us."

"Is this when you got that cheerleading outfit I destroyed?" Marie asked.

Anne smiled. "Yes. And if you don't mind replacing it, I would be much appreciated."

"I will see if I can get one without anyone noticing."

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Later in the Sunnydale High Library Marie stood next to Giles as he stared at the cheerleading outfit that Buffy was wearing.

"This is madness," he said, deeply concerned.

"You don't like the color," Buffy said as she glanced toward Faith who rolled her eyes.

Giles sighed. "I what? I don't—Buffy, do you ignore everything I say? As a rule?"

"No," Faith said, "that's your trick."

"I told you I'm going out for the cheerleading squad," Buffy added.

"Faith, Buffy, you both have a sacred birthright," Giles said. "You both were chosen to destroy vampires. You were not chosen to wave pom-poms at people, Buffy. Nor were you chosen to do whatever fool thing you have in her head, Faith. As the Watcher, I forbid it."

"And you'll be stopping us how?" Faith asked.

"Dyeh, uh, well—by appealing to your common sense, if such a creature exists," Giles answered.

Marie laughed. "That has to be the funniest thing you've ever said, Giles."

"Faith and I'll still have time to fight the forces of evil, okay? But we both want to have a life. We both want to do something normal. Something safe," Buffy said as she headed for the door.

"Which is why I am trying out for the basketball team," Faith said as she turned to follow her sister.

"Marie why are you supportive of this?" Giles asked when the doors to the library had closed behind Faith and Buffy.

Marie smiled. "Because it's part of her path. What is about to happen has to happen. Now if you will excuse me I'm going to go meet Savannah and Rei and we're going to watch Buffy try out." She turned and walked out of the library, leaving Giles staring after her in confusion.

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"Giles didn't approve, huh?" Willow asked as she, Faith, Buffy, Xander, Savannah and Rei entered the gym.

"He totally lost his water," Buffy said.

"We haven't even seen a vampire in a week," Faith said. "I'd say he should get a girlfriend if he wasn't so old."

"I wish your aunt Marie were our watcher sometimes," Buffy said with a glance at Savannah.

Savannah smiled. "Thing is Aunt Marie won't be here, the plan was to be here till your graduation and then we'd move on." Buffy, Faith, Xander, Rei and Willow looked at her quizzically. "I can't say more, as is I've said too much. Remember there are things that Aunt Marie and I are not allowed to say and there are things you have to find out for yourselves before we can say anything. Believe me I hate that we have to do it that way, but there are reasons for it. Reasons you will eventually find out, a long time from now."

"We're behind you though," Faith said.

"People scoff at things like school spirit, but when you see these young women giving their all like this..." Xander said as he looked toward Amber, one of the girls trying out. What had caught his attention was that she was stretched across a pair of chairs an extra low split. "...Oooh, stretchy." He then remembered his friends, who happened to all be female. "Where was I?"

"You were pretending that seeing scantily-clad girls in revealing postures was a spiritual experience," Savannah said with a smirk.

"What do you mean, pretending?" Xander asked as he pulled out an I.D. bracelet and handed it to Buffy. "Oh, hey. Here's a little good luck thing for the tryouts..."

"What is this?" Buffy asked, charmed at the gift.

"What is that?" Faith asked with a frown.

"This is so sweet!" Buffy said as she put on the bracelet.

Not far away from them Cordelia watched as Amber stood on one leg and held the other straight up in the air. "Just look at Amber," she said. "Who does she think she is, a Laker Girl?"

"I heard she turned them down," Willow said.

Rei rolled her eyes. She had mostly kept quiet till now. Like Xander she had been distracted, but by Buffy. "Actually that was just a rumor, Willow," she said, "started by Amber herself."

At the front of the gym one of the cheerleaders looked at clipboard in her hands. "Let's begin with... Amber Grove. If you're not auditioning move off the floor."

"Hi Amy," Willow said as she spotted an old friend, Amy Madison.

Amy smiled. "Hi."

"I didn't know you wanted to be a cheerleader," Willow said as Marie came up beside her. "You lost a lot of weight."

"Had to," Amy said. "Hi, Marie."

"Hi, Amy," Marie said.

"Did you get it?" Savannah whispered to Marie who nodded.

"Do you know Buffy?" Willow asked Amy.

"Hi," Amy said to Buffy. "Oh how I hate this, let me count the ways." Buffy smiled obviously warming to Amy's honesty. They turned their attention back to Amber, who was performing her routine. "She trained with Benson—he's the best coach money can buy."

"They have cheerleading coaches?" Buffy asked.

"Why not?" Faith asked. "They have coaches for everything, or did you forget your Dorothy Hamill phase and the coach mom and dad paid for?"

"You skated?" Rei asked as Buffy nodded.

"She was even training for the Regionals," Faith said. "Mom and dad pulled her out about the time they started fighting."

"Anyways," Amy said, "I train with my mom, three hours in the morning, three at night."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "That kind of quality time with," she said as she motioned toward herself and Faith, "our mom would probably lead to some quality matricide."

"No it wouldn't," Marie said with a shake of her head. She noticed Buffy and Faith glance her way. "Just saying."

"I know it's kinda hokey... but she's really great," Amy said.

Cordelia feigned boredom with Amber's performance and turned her back on it just smoke began to emanate from Amber's pom-poms.

"What the ...?" Buffy said with a glance at the others. She quickly realized they all saw it.

"That girl's on fire," Willow exclaimed.

"Enough with the hyperbole," Cordelia said, she had yet to notice the smoke.

Amber dropped her pom-poms and they realized the smoke was coming from her as her hands and arms burst into flames. She let out a horrified scream.

Buffy glanced toward Marie. "Can you?"

"Too many witnesses," Marie answered.

Buffy glanced at Faith who nodded. Faith headed for Amber while Buffy ran and grabbed the Razerbacks banner. Ripping it off the wall she ran to Faith and Amber. Faith helped her to smother the flames. "It's okay, you're gonna be okay..." the sisters said.

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"Buffy and I've been slaying Vampires for a while now," Faith said when they had returned to the library. [1]

"And we've seen some pretty cringeworthy stuff," Buffy added, "but nobody's hands ever got toasted."

Giles nodded. "I imagine not."

"I have," Marie said as everyone turned to look at her. "It was a witch, the year was about eighteen twenty-five. The witch cast a spell on an enemy. It did much like what happened to Amber, with one difference. The victim was completely burned alive."

"So this is a witch?" Rei asked.

"It would appear so," Marie said.

"Marie," Faith said. "btw, why couldn't you douse the fire? I don't believe in the too many witnesses. You have proven you know what's going to happen to Buffy and I in advance."

Giles looked to Marie and sighed, he knew that Buffy and Faith would figure it out.

"That's because I do, and I can't tell you. I'm passed information to make sure you and Buffy continue along your path."

"That's a gyp," Faith said.

Marie smiled at Faith. "I know. Believe me I do know how you feel. Growing up I was in much a similar situation where secrets were kept to protect me. But in this instance I am only allowed to tell you things if you discover them for yourself. I can aid you but I cannot interfere in your path."

"I have a suggestion," Xander said. "And it may be out there. But could Amber have done this to herself?"

"I see where Xander is going," Savannah said. "You're asking if she could be a mutant?"

"Yeah," Xander agreed. "Could this be a power she herself has, like the Human Torch, only it hurts."

Marie nodded. "It is a possibility there are witches out there that have access to fire based powers. If she is such a witch she needs to be trained. Fire based powers can be dangerous without training."

"So Faith and I should get the skinny on Amber," Buffy said. "See if she's had any colorful episodes before."

"That means hacking illegally into the school's computer system," Willow said excitedly as she headed for the computer, "at last something I can do."

"I can speed up the search for you, Willow," Marie said as she followed Willow.

"Xander and I'll ask around about her," Savannah said.

"Guys, you don't have to get involved," Faith said. "You don't have to either, Marie, Savannah or even you, Rei."

Marie smiled. "I know but I want to, regardless of if it's why Savannah and I are here."

"So do I," Savannah agreed.

"If I wanted out," Rei said. "I would have had Duncan take my head a long time ago. Regardless of the fact I am immortal, I'm a Slayer."

"Also we're a team!" Xander added. "Aren't we a team?"

Willow nods, "Yeah, you, Faith and Rei are Slayers and Savannah, Marie, Xander and I are like the Slayerettes."

"I think we can do better than that," Savannah said. "You know I always like Scooby Doo growing up. How about Scoobies."

"I like it," Xander agreed.

"We don't want you putting yourselves in danger," Faith said.

Xander smiled. "I laugh in the face of danger. Then I hide till it goes away."

"Okay, well, I'm psyched for the help," Buffy said as Faith nodded in agreement. "And what if we find out Amber didn't cause this herself?"

"Then we will have to determine who the witch is that did. And deal with him or her accordingly. I take it Marie you know what is causing this?"

Marie nodded. "Yes. Again I can't say. Buffy and Faith must learn that themselves first."

"Hey, we've fought vampires!" Xander offered. "Anything else'll be a walk in the park."

"I hope so..." Buffy said with a glance at Faith.

"You said you could make the search go faster. How?" Willow asked Marie.

"By using magic," Marie said as she looked at Willow before mentally adding, 'Our family's magic.' She touched Willow's shoulder and then the computer.

Information files flashed across the screen faster than Willow could read it. "Wow," she said. She looked up at Marie's face and saw her friend's eyes moving at the same speed as what was appearing on the screen.

"I'll check with Willy," Rei said. "See if he has any information on any witches in town."

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"Despite the terrible thing that happened yesterday..." a cheerleader said the next day in the gym. Buffy and Faith stood with Amy, Cordelia and the others trying out. "...we still have to pick new cheerleaders. If you make the team, you'll find your name posted in the Quad after lunch. Let's begin with group performance—Cordelia, Buffy, Amy, Morgan, Janice and Lishanne."

Amy glared at her hands as she, Cordelia, Buffy and the other two girls walked forward. "Why do my hands have to sweat when I get nervous?"

"Don't worry, you'll do great," Buffy comforted and they began to perform the routine.

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Marie stood looking at a trophy case, in particular the portrait of Catherine Madison that was hung inside the case. She let out a sigh. It was times like this she wished she could change things. While she knew in the end the spells would be reversed and no lasting harm would be done. She also wished she could spare everyone the pain of going through it also. But she knew that if she changed hers and Anne's own past that things could spiral out of control and their entire history could be irrevocably changed.

"That's my mom."

Marie looked up as Amy, Faith and Buffy came up beside her.

Buffy looked at Marie and then towards the picture that Marie had been looking at. "No..." she said in mock shock. "Catherine Madison. Get down with your bad self."

"Her nickname was Catherine The Great," Amy explained, "she took that team and made them tri-county champions, no one's ever done that before or since. She and my dad were homecoming King and Queen, got married right after graduation."

"That's kinda romantic," Faith said with a shrug.

"Well... he was a big loser," Amy said, "couldn't make any money, took off with Miss Trailer Trash when I was twelve."

"Okay, that part's less romantic," Buffy said. "Our folks split up, too."

"As did mine," Marie said with a glance at Faith and Buffy who looked back at her in confusion.

"Drag, huh," Amy said with a nod. "He left my mom with nothing. She put herself through cosmetology school, bought me everything I ever wanted and never gained a single pound..."

"She sounds great, Amy, but that doesn't mean you have to, you know, lock step as far as the cheerleading thing…" Buffy offered.

"It's just, she was the best, and I can't get my body to move like hers. I choked in there so bad," Amy said as Willow walked toward them. She tried to put on a brave face as she turned and headed for the girls' locker room. "...I gotta get changed..."

"Hi Amy..." Willow said as Amy walked past her. "She okay?"

"She's definitely not five by five," Faith said. "Her mother was supposedly the big cheer queen back when."

"Yeah," Willow said. "Her mom's kinda..."

"Nazi-like?" Buffy offered.

"Heil," Willow agreed. "If she gains an ounce she padlocks the fridge and won't eat anything but broth."

"So Mommie Dearest is really," Faith said with a shake of her head, "Mommie Dearest."

"There's a bitter streak–but Amy's nice," Willow explained. "We used to hang in Junior High. When her mom'd go on a broth kick Amy'd come to my house and we'd just stuff ourselves with brownies."

"Any word on Amber?" Buffy asked changing the subject.

"Xander's theory proved false," Marie said.

"Yeah," Willow agreed as she pulled a paper from her bookbag. "Average student—got detention once for smoking—regular smoking, with a cigarette. Not being smoky. All pretty normal."

"It's still likely a witch," Marie said. "Ruling Amber out as gifted means she was the victim of a spell. We just need to identify who the witch is. We'll have to wait to see if there is another attack. If not tracking this witch may be difficult."

"Hopefully nothing will happen," Buffy offered as they headed down the hall. She looked toward Marie. "About your parents. I thought divorce was unheard of 200 years ago."

Marie smiled. "Unheard of yes, but it still happened," she said. She knew it was a little white lie since she hadn't been born 200 years ago. She had been created five years from now and her parents were the same as Buffy and Faith's parents. But she of course couldn't tell Buffy or Faith that.

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Rei walked toward Buffy, Marie, Faith, Xander and Willow and a crowd that was gathering around a bulletin board. "Willy had nothing on the witch," she said. "Though he did suggest this warlock, of course I …"

"Rack," Marie said with a sigh. "Had some dealings with him a long time ago. I'll talk to him and see if he knows anything."

Just then as Amy joined them a cheerleader walked past and posted a notice on the bulletin board. They watched as a girl ran past them seconds later in tears.

"Yes!" Lishanne said as she jumped up and down after reading the notice.

"I can't take this..." Amy said.

Buffy tried to wedge into the crowd but two contenders stepped past her blocking her way.

Faith rolled her eyes and shoved the girls aside as she dove into the crowd. She worked her way to the front to stand next to Cordelia. She rolled her eyes as Cordelia smiled and walked back through the crowd. She turned her attention to the notice and looked for Buffy's name and frowned. She knew her sister was better than first alternate. She walked back through the crowd. "Bad news girls," she said looking at Buffy and Amy. "Buffy, you got first alternate. Amy, I'm sorry but your third alternate."

Xander smiled. "You made it!" he said excitedly. He didn't notice the crestfallen look on Amy's face as she turned and walked off. He looked to Faith and smiled. "What better way to celebrate your sister making the squad than with a romantic drive-through for two at…"

Marie rolled her eyes. "Xander, alternates are the ones who didn't make the team. They only fill in if something happens to the ones who did."

"Excuse me," Buffy said as she moved toward Amy.

"For I am Xander," Xander said, "King of the Cretins, and all lesser cretins must bow before me."

"At least it's over," Buffy told Amy. "And you know what I think we should do about it? Brownie pig-out, my house, now."

"How many more hours a day can I practice?" Amy said dejectedly. "How much more can I do? This would never have happened to my mom. Never." She turned and walked off leaving Buffy watching her go.

"Something wrong, Buffy?" Savannah asked as she came up beside her friend.

"I'm not sure, Savannah," Buffy said.

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Marie sighed as she walked toward the driver's ed car. "Why did I let Buffy talk me into doing this?" she wondered. She noticed that Cordelia and two other students stood beside the car. "Ok Cordelia you're up first. Let's buckle up, people."

"I don't want to drive today, Marie," Cordelia said with a sigh.

Marie sighed not really wanting Cordelia to drive either. "According to your records. You've flunked Driver's Ed twice. I know you can do this, Cordelia." She watched as opened the driver's door and climbed in behind the wheel. She walked around to the passenger door and got in beside Cordelia. "Check your brake, your mirrors, start the engine, put the car in drive..."

Marie mumbled the telepathic spell she had learned from Ruth and used it to see through Cordelia's eyes. She frowned at what she saw, everything a blur. "...let' move forward and through the cones in a gentle, even turn to the…"

Cordelia put the car in reverse as she stepped on the gas. The car flew backwards into a pole.

"…brakes!" Marie nearly shouted.

Cordelia slammed on the brakes, jammed the car through every gear until she found drive and hit the gas again sending the car this time forward.

"Slow down," Marie said, "turn right, right, BRAKES, BRAKES!"

Cordelia did as Marie instructed but with too much force. She yanked the wheel a hard right sending the car careening as she stomped on the brakes. The car skidded right off the blacktop of the parking lot through the grass and out on to the street.

Out of the corner of her eyes Marie saw Buffy and Faith running toward them. As the car skidded to a stop on the street a passing car blasted it's horn at them as it swerved around them.

"Everyone out!" Marie called as she, Cordelia and the two students scrambled out. "Buffy! Faith! Help Cordelia to the nurse and then gather everyone and meet me and Giles in the library."

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"Witchcraft," Marie said with a sigh. "Blinding your enemy to disable and disorient them is a classic. Though I myself have never done it. I practice good magic. What was done to Cordelia is dark magic."

"Why would someone want to harm Cordelia?" Giles asked.

"Maybe because ... they met her," Willow said with a shrug. "Did I say that?"

"Then why was Amber set ablaze?" Faith wondered.

"Yeah, those guys don't hang," Xander agreed.

"They're both cheerleaders," Savannah offered.

Savannah smiled. "Buffy hit the nail on the head."

"Someone doesn't like cheerleading," Giles said.

"Or likes it too much," Buffy suggested.

"Amy," Willow said with understand.

"Amy," Buffy echoed.

"So you guys are leaning towards Amy," Xander said.

"She's desperate to get on that team ..." Faith said.

"I get the feeling she'd do anything to make her mom's dream come true," Buffy added.

"Now I do want to make sure I've got this right. This witch is casting horrible, disfiguring spells so that she can be a cheerleader," Giles said trying to comprehend what was going on.

"Yes," Marie said. "While again it is not a path I would go down. I can understand what Amy must be going through to live up to her mom's expectations for her. I was that way with my sisters. When I was younger I would have done anything to make her proud of me." She looked to Buffy and Faith and smiled as she thought to herself. 'Still do.'

"Cheerleading was kind of her mom's last hurrah," Willow added.

"We still gotta stop Amy," Xander said. "We should grab her before…"

"Let's be certain she's the witch before we arouse her suspicions," Giles said as he flipped through one of his many books. "She's capable of some fairly ugly things."

"Giles we got a witch on our side, remember," Buffy said.

"Buffy," Marie said with a shake of her head.

"You are helping, not passing a long information," Buffy said. "It keeps you straddling that fence."

Marie sighed and nodded. She motioned toward the book Giles was looking through and it rose out of his hands and flew to her. She flipped through the pages. "This will work. You'll need some of her hair, a little quicksilver and aqua fortis."

"That's just mercury and nitric acid; we can get it in the science lab," Willow said.

"You will need to heat the ingredients," Marie said. "Then apply the potion to the witch in question. Just don't take a bit of my hair and do that to me. You will find spells cast in the last forty-eight hours. But it should tell you if Amy is the witch. Oh, and you'll need some eye of newt."