Title: Outside Humanity

Author: Drake Roberts (aka: Shelley)

Rating: R, for violence, but not for a while.

Disclaimer: If I owned the rights to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my room would be bigger than a jail cell, or it would at least be padded. :) The characters, ideas, etc, belong to Mutant Enemy, and anyone else who they've given the rights to, namely not me. I just get my kicks playing around with them for a while.

A/N: This idea has been plaguing me for a while. Basically, I'm posting it to see if I should put lots of effort into finishing it post haste, or if I can take my time because only I am enjoying it. So, feedback would be very appreciated. If you think something's amiss and want to give constructive criticism, that would make my day. If you don't like the story and want to take the opportunity to tell me I'm a loser and that my mother smells of elderberries though, I suggest you curb that impulse. My mother's an intimidating woman that doesn't like to be insulted.

Anyway. . . here's the story. It starts out a little weird, but please bear with me. I hope you like it as much as I do.


Two figures stood in a room. Normally, this would be an uneventful occurrence. Of course, normally this activity would not be taking place in a Greco-Romanesque temple on a higher plane of existence. The tow figures wouldn't usually be Oracles looking through a mystic fountain, absorbed in the activities of the mere mortals below. One other difference markedly stood out.

Normally higher beings didn't look quite so. . . frightened.

"This does not bode well, Brother." The female Oracle spoke with a sense of urgency in her voice never expressed to anyone, save her eternal companion. "Plans, countermeasures for future action have been set in motion, but the events are moving too swiftly."

"Calm yourself, Sister," the second oracle chided. He placed a comforting hand on his sister's shoulder. "True, the death of our predecessors has set back some of The Powers preparations. . . ."

He frowned in thought. ". . . One wonders if this was possibly part of the reason behind their senseless slaughter."

His mind pondered this thought for a moment longer, then pushed it aside. In the grand scheme of things, the death of those two was trivial compared to the newest threat to draw their attention.

The two Oracles returned their gazes back to the fountain and watched the monks feverishly search for the answers they so desperately sought. Groups of hooded figures sat at tables paging through books so ancient only heavy wards kept them from crumbling to dust. Other monks examined stars charts, occasionally frowning in concentration and fear, as if consulting the parchments would bring death upon them even sooner. Still others knelt at altars offering up heartfelt pleas to the heavens above, hoping for divine intervention.

"These mortals are more dedicated to their God than most," the female Oracle observed. "They pray so fervently to The Powers for help, for guidance."

"They have good reason to pray," the male answered. "And we have reason to listen. If that banished temptress, the She-Goddess were to obtain such power, not even we would remain unaffected. In fact, we might be her primary target, at least in the beginning."

The she-Oracle nodded. "I concur. The Key must be protected at all costs." She paused, as if gathering her thoughts. "This is indeed a pressing matter, but I believe something else demands our attention at the moment."

She touched the water lightly with her outstretched finger. As the ripple effect moved outward, the scene changed. While the last situation showed controlled anxiety, this pictured utter anarchy. The entire underground facility was in chaos. Demons and soldiers waged bloody combat as the base fell to pieces around them. The battle was horrific, but it wasn't what drew their eye. The pull of power came from a far corner of the complex.

"Something's happening here," the he-Oracle stated as he felt the magic blossom.

The female Oracle allowed herself a small smile. "Just watch, dear brother."
The two looked on, spectators from above, as three friends, so different, yet so alike in their need to fight for good, gave themselves and joined with the fourth, the Slayer. They saw the bullets stopped, and the missile transformed. They watched as the abomination looked on in confusion, its brain processing information that did not make sense.

"You cannot begin to grasp the source of our Power," the vessel intoned in a voice containing all of its parts. This new creature then forced its hand through the abomination's chest. "But yours is right here." Golden eyes stared at the power source as the abomination slumped lifelessly to the floor.

The Oracles watched all of this occur in a clinical, detached manner it seemed. That is, unless you looked closely and noticed the slight amazement on the male's face or the pride that twinkled in the woman's eyes.

"That spell hasn't been invoked in a long time," the woman Oracle mused.

"And never to such great effect," the man continued. "The Hand was strong."

"The Mind was both learned and wise," the woman pointed out.

The male Oracle nodded in agreement with his sister's observations. "The Spirit felt powerful and full of conviction. And the Heart. . ."

"He loves them all," the female Oracle finished, her eyes now gazing at the progressing scene once again. Her brother's gaze returned there as well.

"Is that a vampire helping them?" the male Oracle asked after a moment. "Strange. Shouldn't that be against his nature, savage lower being that he is?"

"One would think," his sister mused. "Although this one seems a bit different than most." She briefly concentrated on the vampire in question as he destroyed one of his own kind with a brutal efficiency that screamed of familiarity. "He is not like our vampire Champion; no soul inhabits his body."

Her brother frowned. "Yet he is . . . odd," the man said, somewhat distastefully.

The female Oracle watched as the vampire fought side by side with the boy, the Heart, while the others tried to save as many of the soldiers as possible. "He interests me."

She studied the picture from the fountain a few moments longer, a true smile forming on her lips as the two in question hurled insults at each other while making their escape along with the others. "They both do."

"This is no time for frivolous antics, dear sister," the male Oracle said none too gently. Honestly, his sister could get so distracted at times. "There are other, more important matters at hand."

"I know," the Oracle argued. "But this may lead us to our answer. The One Who is Four, the Four Who Made One; they hold something special. The bonds must be significant and powerful for the spell to work. It is no small feat for mere mortals to accomplish this, even with a Slayer among them."

"But the fact remains, they are mere mortals. Three are no more than children. And the vampire. . ." The male Oracle shuddered in disgust. "True, this Slayer is formidable and the young witch is touched by Power, but what impact can these simple skills have against She Who Must Not Be Named?"

"You shall see, my brother," his sister assured him. "The Testing comes soon. They will dream, and through their visions you and I will learn how special they really are."

The he-Oracle looked doubtful, but the she-Oracle seemed almost excited. "May The Powers guide you true," she whispered as the four friends fell asleep in the Slayer's living room.

"The First Slayer," the male Oracle mused, as the two sifted through the dreams. "The young Chosen One has a truly difficult test ahead of her if this spirit was invoked. She must learn from both her friends and herself."

He looked further. "The Witch must accept herself fully or I foresee great peril," the Oracle continued with a frown. "I had thought the young witch above such trivial obstacles as an identity crisis."

The female Oracle frowned as well. "Sometimes the hardest thing to accept is yourself. Power corrupts. We shall have to watch the witch closely."

The two Oracles searched through the two remaining dreams.

"Interesting," the woman began. "What contradictory images these two men have, both of themselves, and the others."

"They both saw the Slayer as a child," the man observed. "And a quite defenseless child, at that. How curious."

The woman nodded, a thoughtful expression on her face. "But the boy saw the Witch and her lover as much more than children. And the vampire, his place in the dream was odd, to say the least."

The male Oracle watched the playground scene displayed in the fountain with faint incredulity. "Curious," he repeated at length. "The Boy has some disturbing ideas about family."

"As does the Watcher, apparently," the female Oracle pointed out. "And an interesting perspective on the Boy as well. More concrete than the others, but also fundamentally different from the rest. To evoke such contradictory visions of himself to his closest friends, this Boy must be quite an enigma."

"Ya don't know the half of it, toots," a new voice sounded from behind them.

The two Oracles spun around in shock. "Or maybe ya do, I dunno."

"Why do you dare trespass, Demon?" the male Oracle demanded hotly.

"It's Whistler," the demon clarified. "And I didn't trespass, I was sent."

"By whom?" the Oracle demanded.

"By the people upstairs," Whistler answered, pointing skyward.

The female Oracle, being the more levelheaded of the two when it came to lower beings, stepped between her brother and the balance demon. "Have The Powers That Be become aware of the newest developments?" she asked politely.

Whistler smiled. He really did like this girl more than her brother. "Yes, they've been aware for some time. And they agree with you about the Watcher and his children. Mortals they all are, but this group has risen to the challenge time and time again."

"You are familiar with these four?" the female Oracle asked, surprised.

"Them, and the vampire too. They've been kind of a special project for me for years."

"You watched over a common vampire? They are low, beneath us in every way. What could possibly gain your attention about him?" the male Oracle asked in disbelief.

Whistler shrugged. "He's unpredictable. I like that about him."

"Unpredictable?" the female Oracle repeated, a note of doubt in her voice. "How so?"

"Well, he devoted himself to an insane vampire for over a century. He's willingly worked with the Slayer, just be win back the favor of his sire and lover. Helped her save the world, which surprised the hell out of everyone upstairs. Nobody saw that one coming."

"Vampires are very loyal to their Sires; this is well-known, Demon," the male Oracle stated with a dismissive wave of his hand.

"This vampire's actions weren't motivated by loyalty. If that was the case, he wouldn't constantly be trying to kill his grandsire. No, his actions were motivated by love. He's a vampire that follows his heart. Most of his kind don't even like to admit they have one. Hell, without his soul, his grandsire's one of the coldest bastards I've ever met, and I've been alive a long time."

"What point are you trying to make with all of this prattle?" the male Oracle retorted.

Whistler glared at the arrogant man. "Strength is great and Power strikes fear into heroes and villains alike, but someone who follows their heart, putting their loved ones first, damning the consequences, and even themselves in the process. . ." Whistler paused, a enigmatic smirk gracing his features. "Believe me, those people; they're worth payin' attention to."

He noticed the female Oracle looking at him curiously and winked at her. "That's a lesson for later, toots. Summon me sometime and I'll tell you all about it. Right now, you need to know about Sunnydale's Scooby Gang."

The balance demon walked over to the fountain that had been forgotten after his surprise entrance. "This Slayer," he said and the fountain's image immediately changed to her fighting with the First Slayer in the desert. "She's one of the best I've seen: strong, inventive, aggressive, . . ."

Whistler chuckled as the Slayer told off her prehistoric alter ego. ". . . and a smart ass. A Slayer that thinks for herself is a dangerous weapon."

"The Witch is one of the meek given Power," Whistler explained as the Oracles watched her paint Greek letters on her lover's back. "She's a good soul, but she's got some decisions to make. Darkness is very seductive, but she's got friends to help ground her."

"The Watcher is the father. He's never had children, so he borrowed some. None of the kids mind, in fact they need the guidance."

Whistler stopped speaking for a moment and watched Giles sing on the stage while people held up lighters and swayed back and forth to the beat. "He may not admit it to even himself most of the time, but he'd do anything for those kids. When any of them are in trouble is when he's the most dangerous. It's what made the Council dismiss him. It's also what's kept the Slayer alive for so many years."

"And the Boy?" the he-Oracle asked impatiently. "What type of sage-like wisdom do you have to share about him?"

His sister silenced his tirade with a cool glare. "Continue, Dem-. . . Whistler. I wish to know about the Heart."

Whistler met the she-Oracle's gaze somewhat sheepishly. "Thing is. . .the kid confuses me," the balance demon admitted. "He's helped the Slayer every step of the way. At first, I thought the kid just had a big yen for her and wanted to get noticed, but she doesn't even know half the stuff he's done for her."

He looked down when he heard the banging, wincing when his eyes caught the look of fear on Xander's face. "They don't know the half of it, do they, kid?" he whispered to the oblivious boy. He doesn't have super strength to help fight off the baddies, and magic. . . well, let's just say the kid and magic don't mix too well."

"So he is the weakest?" the male Oracle asked. "Then he should be pushed out for the good of all involved."

"That's just the thing," Whistler continued, undaunted by the Oracle's condescending tone. "They've tried, but he's always there. They love him; he's family, but they don't think they need him. They think he'll just get hurt trying to do world-saving, that they can do just as well without him. They push him away, and what does he do? He pulls their fat outta the fire."

The balance demon looked like he wanted to say something else, but instead only sighed and shook his head. "He really confuses me. They all do, to tell you the truth. But they get the job done."

I think I'm beginning to see, " the female Oracle said as she continued to stare at the warped visions of the Sunnydale Gang. "The weakest and the strongest. Everyone has a role to play and everything is not what it seems." She smiled as the idea continued to bounce around in her skull. Whistler had to restrain himself from taking a step back in trepidation.

What are you thinking, dear sister?" the male Oracle asked. The fact that he also looked nervous didn't calm Whistler any.

"Yes, yes. The idea definitely has merit," the female Oracle mused, the other two entities in the room apparently forgotten. "But is it truly well-grounded? I must learn more, but it is possible. . . ."

Her voice trailed off as her thought process became unspoken once again. Her brother was definitely agitated by this time, even to the point that he was openly showing his displeasure in front of their 'guest'.

"What ideas are you pondering, sister?" he asked, trying his best to keep an even tone.

She made direct eye contact with her brother, instantly sending him a mental transcript for her last five minutes of musing. While he was busy assimilating that information, she turned to Whistler.

"I am very grateful to you for your insightful observations on these four unique individuals, as well as the vampire. You are truly an enlightened soul, so to speak. Your thoughts have proven most. . . inspirational." She offered the demon a smirk as a small token of appreciation. "I may require your services again in the future. For now, leave us; we have much to prepare."

Whistler, knowing to always leave while still ahead when it came to higher beings, quickly complied. However, he remained in the Oracle's domain long enough to hear something even long-lived demons such as himself rarely got to hear.

"Sister! This is insanity!"

The demon chuckled. Yep, you had to live a long time to hear one higher being accuse another of lunacy. He reentered Earth's plane of existence with a smile on his face. Whatever doom and gloom that hung on the horizon he knew one thing; the outlook for the future had suddenly gotten a lot more interesting.

TBC . . .