"She needs Buffy's body? As in needing it, needing it? And how, exactly, does she need it?" Xander exclaimed in slight disbelief.
"That's… the gist of it," Buffy confirmed. "And Angel didn't know."
"Yes, but are we sure that Angel can be trusted?"
Buffy rounded on her watcher, a warning gleam in her eye.
Stuttering Giles defended himself, "Not that he can't be trusted, because I'm sure his motive is well and good. However, I do not necessarily believe that his *information* is accurate."
"Why wouldn't it be accurate?" Buffy hissed.
"'Cause he was kind of evil when he hooked up with Daniel back in the day?" Willow offered.
"He was sure," Buffy said quietly, a challenging hint in her tone. "And majorly wigged. When has Angel ever been wrong when it came to my safety?"
Giles gave her a calculated look. "Sometimes people's—vampire's—emotions can make them exacerbate a situation."
Buffy returned his look with a cold state. She was getting antsy. And guilty. She'd sort of left Angel in a lurch… more like fled the Mansion as fast as she could at the earliest possibility. Things were getting too emotional… and Buffy didn't know how to handle really emotional things. She either lashed out… or ran away.
Giles cleared his throat. "I will assume, then, that we are faced with an interesting obstacle. A vampire that can control the minds of other male vampires." Shuffling into his office, he emerged with an armful of Watcher's Diaries.
"Giles… what are you *doing*?" Buffy demanded, an edge creeping into her voice.
"Checking the Diary's. If what Angel said is correct, then something prevented Daniel from getting this… this 'Resurrection' the last time."
"A slayer," Buffy guessed, quietly.
Giles began flipping through the books. "One can only hope."
"It's okay, Buff. I'll protect you from this evil, body snatcher." Xander jumped up and made a few karate moves. Buffy bit the inside of her cheek from laughing. Obviously realizing his goofiness, Xander plopped back down in his seat looking dejected.
"Oh, good, now the vampires will laugh while they torture us," Cordelia said dryly.
"But then you'd bore them to death, Cordy, with your endless fashion lectures! Where would we be in a hostage situation *without you*?"
Cordelia sighed, and blew a stray piece of hair out of her face. "Is that really the best you can come up with, Harris?"
Buffy sighed painfully. She was so not up for a Cordy/Xander bicker contest. She was worried about Daniel… but more worried about Angel. She'd freaked. He was holding her, she was crying, and things were getting… intense. So instead of dealing she ran away. Ran until she couldn't breathe anymore, until her legs hurt so much she buckled and had to fall to the ground.
When she recovered she called Giles and told him she was worried about Daniel. Everyone seemed to think the evil vampiress was the cause of her pain. Buffy figured it was easier that way.
She blinked back tears of frustration, pressing her palms to her closed eyelids, feigning exhaustion. She wanted to go back, tell him she was sorry, tell him she loved him. But she couldn't. Things were… she was getting too comfortable with him again. She was getting too involved. And involved with Angel only led to one place.
Pain. Darkness. Betrayal. Angelus.
Angel would understand. He was feeling the same things. It was cruel. Cruel of the Powers to make the one person who could understand her pain the one she had to stay away from. She remembered the look in his eyes when he asked her to kill him and she shivered. It was true—she could never do it again.
"Buffy, Earth to Buffy Summers."
"More like the moon to Buffy, Will."
Buffy opened her eyes tiredly, only to stare into Willow's concerned eyes. "You okay?" the rehead asked softly.
"Yeah," Buffy answered quietly. She gave her and Xander a smile. "Sorry, I kinda blanked out there for a while, huh?"
"Deep thoughts," Xander observed. "Can't have that."
"Anything you need to talk about?" Willow offered hesitantly.
Buffy shrugged. "Oh, you know, big vampire. Wants my body. The usual. I'll kick her ass. Did you guys find anything else?"
"I think so," Willow replied, turning back to her laptop. From the look on her face, Buffy knew it wasn't good.
"Hit me." Xander said, rubbing his hands together. "Only metaphorically speaking."
"Most of it's bad news." Oz said, looking over Willow's shoulder at the computer screen.
"Oh, joy." Buffy said.
Giles made a small, grunting noise. "That was fast," he commented vaguely.
Willow gave a small smirk and turned to Oz. "Can I brag?"
He touched the tips of her short hair and smiled fondly. "I think it's your prerogative."
"My computer is faster than your books!" She blurted out.
Giles glared at her. "What, exactly, did you discover?"
"Turns out there's more on the vampire than can control minds than we first thought. For one, she's over a thousand years old. Um, she gets her power from the great god Mussini. Not a pretty thing, Mussini." Willow wrinkled her nose, "He's big on the sacrifice." She let out a tiny yelp, scrolling down the page farther. "Puppies!"
"Willow…" Buffy warned.
Willow narrowed her eyes at the screen. "Big Stupid Mussini employed her to… to" Willow trailed off. "Oh… oh…"
"Oh…" Oz echoed, reading over her head.
"*What*?" Buffy, Xander, and Giles demanded in frustration. Cordelia just looked bored.
Oz looked up at them. "She needs the body of the slayer."
"We *know* that!" Xander exclaimed.
"No," Willow interrupted. "No, she needs it literally. As in she's going to take it over. Become Buffy."
A long, tense 10 seconds passed by in complete silence. Giles recovered first. "Yes… I, well… what?"
"She'll transplant her essence, if you will, into Buffy's body. Take it over," Willow clarified. "It'll be Buffy's body, but with Daniel's mind behind the wheel."
"A vampire, with vampire strength, in the body of a human slayer, with human strength." Oz said thoughtfully. "That would render her nearly invincible, no?"
"Unkillable?" Xander yelped.
"I suppose that," Giles pushed his glasses up his nose. "The combination the human qualities and vampire qualities balance each other out. If Daniel were staked in this form, she would neither turn to dust, nor bleed to death." Giles sighed, "Rendering her unkillable."
Willow nodded. "That's pretty much what it says here. You might want to check the diaries from 1919. That's the last time she tried it, but the slayer of that time managed to stop it."
Giles "humphed" at the idea that someone else was telling him what to research, but disappeared to look it up.
"Idea," Oz said suddenly.
They all turned to look at him.
"The judge…" Oz trailed off, thought some more. Impatiently, Xander tapped his foot and raised his eyebrows in the direction of the clock. "Deemed unkillable, right? Turned out, he wasn't so fond of being blown up."
Willow beamed at him, eyes lighting up. "That could work!"
"And we know exactly where to get a rocket launcher!" Xander said brightly.
"Right, um, how about killing her *before* she goes and takes over my body?" Buffy squeaked.
Willow, Xander, and Oz looked at her guiltily. Cordelia examined her nails.
"Sorry, got carried away there." Willow looked at her friend sympathetically. "We'll find a way to get her out of your body before we blow you up." Willow frowned, "Or
"Yeah, Buff. How bad can this chica be? We'll kick her sorry ass before she takes yours." Xander paused, just realizing something. "She can walk in sunlight?"
"We're behind you." Oz said with a nod.
"Yeah, I agree, too. Can I go now?" Cordelia whined.
"Cordy!" Xander exclaimed horrified.
"You guys," Buffy said sharply, "just… shut up for once, okay?"
Somber again, they all turned to look at her with worried eyes. Uncomfortable under their scrutiny, Buffy shifted slightly in the chair. "I think I need some rest," Buffy lied. "Mind if I go home for a bit? We all know I lack in the research department."
"Of course we can handle it," Willow assured quickly.
"We can?" Cordy asked dubiously. "'Cause a vampire that needs the slayer's body? Not that easy to find. Just saying."
Buffy couldn't even think of a good reply to her comment. That's when she knew it was time for her to go home. When Giles emerged from his office, a grim look on his face, Buffy's heart sank. Struggling to retain composure, she looked up at him.
"The Watcher's Diaries have been more useful than I originally assumed. It appears that the last time Daniel tried for her Resurrections was in Lyons, France in 1919. Apparently Lindsey and her watcher Elaine Hafter received wind of her plan." Giles paused, eyes passing solemnly over the group. Clearing his throat, he continued. "Hafter, although a very thorough watcher and interesting writer, overlooked several key details in her account."
"Yes, Giles, we all know that you would *never* overlook an important detail," Buffy mumbled. Off his look, and slightly more grumpily she added, "I'm listening."
"It seems that there are quite a number of rituals Daniel needs to perform before she can possess the slayer's body."
Cordelia snorted. "Wow. An evil vampire performing evil rituals! That's never happened before."
Giles sighed, pained, but continued. "Daniel must freeze the entire city, excluding, of course, 'those that walk in the darkness'."
"An all you can eat buffet." Buffy said, quietly. "Humans would be completely defenseless. All vampire would have to do is show up."
Giles nodded gravely. "Precisely. My research indicates that this particular event can only happen once every 80 years or so, when the star Muldron is properly lined up with the Earth and the Moon."
"1999," Xander filled in. "Right on target."
Grim, Giles continued. "Hafter's research was thorough. Though the city froze as Daniel planned it, Lindsey did not freeze along with it. Lindsey found Daniel and broke her hold over the frozen city. Daniel fled and was assumed dead." Giles sighed and rubbed his eyes. "However, Hafter did not leave any indication to why Lindsey did not freeze with the rest of the city."
"Weird," Xander interjected. "You'd think that, something like that, might come in handy in the future. If it happened Daniel wasn't quite as *dead* as they had previously thought."
"Xander," Buffy said softly, watching Giles' face. "It was too painful."
Giles looked at his slayer sadly. "Lindsey died that night. Heroically. She stopped Daniel's apocalypse. It was the last entry that Hafter wrote."
Buffy looked away. It only reminded her, yet again, that there was a big old best before stamp written in her job description. She was gonna die. Probably in some horrible way. And probably sometime in the near future.
And suddenly she knew. They were all going to die. It was just a matter of when. She, Giles, Willow, Xander… Angel, too, one day. Nothing in this world could last forever. A long time sure, but eternity was impossible. It suddenly made her *really* itchy to talk to Angel and work things out.
"Why did they freeze the city?" Willow asked softly.
"Well," Xander said cheerfully. "You've got your free snack bar, your main course, and quite a few left overs for a nice, wholesome dessert. Of *frozen* *people*."
Giles smiled tightly. "Yes, well… that's a fairly good account, actually."
"No fight from the slayer," Buffy whispered.
They all turned to look at her, pity in their eyes. "We won't let her,
Buffy. I promise," Willow said.
Giles cleared his throat. "Freezing the slayer is very important to Daniel. She requires it to become you… take over the slayer's essence. The process resembles that of a regular turning, but…"
"Frozen city," Xander finished.
"So we have to start this before it starts," Buffy said, forcing her voice to be cheerful and reassuring. She was their leader, after all. They *needed* her to defeat Daniel. And Buffy wasn't about to let some two-bit, men-controlling vampire take over her body without a fight.
If she wasn't frozen, that was. Which, in retrospect, really brought her back to her main point.
"If Daniel manages to freeze the city, then we're in trouble." Buffy got up and went to the weapon's cabinet. Loading up a crossbow she turned back to the gang.
Xander swallowed. "So what are you going to do?"
Buffy glanced at the crossbow. "I'm going to find her, kill her, and stop this thing from happening."
Right after she talked to Angel, that was. But she didn't have to mention *that* tiny detail in her inspiring speech.