The Chosen One: Chapter 4
Legalese: See Chapter 1 for disclaimers and ratings.
Refusing to meet Riley's eyes, Buffy slowly walked around the remains of the library, a very large gun clutched in her small hands. She had avoided everyone all day, even Riley and Willow, telling no one about her doctor's visit and keeping the hurt locked up inside. Sometimes it was just easier that way. Even now she could feel their eyes on her as she moved along the perimeter. She knew that eventually she'd have to spill, but first there were more important things to worry about - like the reason that they were there tonight.
The group had met as planned, Riley bringing a score of nasty looking guns while Buffy came with supplies of sharpened stakes. Quickly she, Riley, Xander, and Oz had spread out, evenly spacing themselves in a circle around Giles, Willow, and Anya. By the looks of it they were ready to take on whatever the Hellmouth threw their way - usually something nasty.
"Hey, you okay?"
Tensing slightly, Buffy turned and met Riley's worried eyes. "Hey Soldier, don't you have a post that you're neglecting?" she asked quietly, trying to make her voice light and failing miserably.
"Listen, now's not the place," she interrupted, raising her hand as she pleaded with him with her eyes.
Sighing, Riley saw the pain and confusion hidden there and nodded slowly. "Okay, but..." he trailed off as Buffy swiveled on her heels, her gun lowering into position as her finger tightened on the trigger. A second later, two men stepped into the room, garnering everyone's attention.
The men were around Giles' age, and decked out in dark suits that rustled as they moved. But it was the one on the left with white hair and a neatly trimmed beard that caught Buffy's attention - especially as his eyes locked with her own. "Who are you and what do you want?" Buffy asked, sensing Riley step beside her, his own gun raised.
"I am James Longchamp the Third," the man responded in a thick British accent that reeked of the Watcher's Council. "Surely Mister Giles has mentioned me?" he continued pointedly as all eyes turned to the ex-Watcher.
"Giles?" Buffy prompted, her voice betraying her cold and hurt questioning.
"The Watcher's Council telephoned shortly before your birthday," Giles haltingly explained, frowning at the accusing note in his Slayer's voice. First this morning and now this.. his track record was certainly taking a fast beating. "I believe that the Watcher's Council have been... ah, watching you."
At his choice of words, Buffy felt a wry, cold and sarcastic smile lift her lips. "And now?" she asked, nodding at Longchamp. "Get bored with the show?" she continued sarcastically.
"No. We have come to help," Longchamp responded simply as he motioned his silent sidekick forward. Nodding, both men slipped out of their suit coats and rolled up their shirtsleeves.
Sighing, Buffy felt everyone's questioning eyes upon her. Shrugging, she lowered her gun and turned away. "The more the merrier - but any wrong moves and you're on the next plane to England," she called over her shoulder as she cocked her gun for effect, the hollow noise ringing throughout the ruinous room.
With that, the preparations continued and Buffy's mind drifted back to the depressing topic of her life. She truly did love Riley and wanted a normal life more than anything - and if this spell succeeded then she may finally get that chance... but she wasn't normal. Somehow the Slayer in her had taken away - had destroyed her ability to have children. She knew that Riley loved her, but would she be enough for him? Now she couldn't even give him kids - something that she knew that Riley wanted. Shaking her head, Buffy found a small hope and let if lift her. Riley made her feel like a normal girl and with him, there was hope.
Suddenly, Buffy's attention was drawn towards the center of the room. Above where the door, albeit closed, to Hell sat, there lay a large crack in the floor. Surrounding that was a circle of candles that lit the room with a flickering, ghostly light. Within that circle sat Giles, Willow, Anya, and the two Watchers. All sat with their legs crossed before them, their eyes closed as they chanted quietly. Captivated, Buffy watched as a fine red mist began to seep from the crack, the voices of the spellcasters rising in intensity and pitch.
Tearing her eyes away from the sight, Buffy saw that the others were watching with the same intensity as her - and that's when she noticed the dark shadows moving behind Xander. "Xander!" she shouted in warning as chaos erupted around them. Gasping, Buffy watched as hordes of vampires appeared out of the shadows and swarmed her friends.
"We're under attack!!" she heard Riley yell above the din. Turning, Buffy was about to jump into action to help her friends when a sharp pain erupted in her side, her gun flying from her hands as she flew to the ground. Grunting, Buffy looked up in time to catch another sharp kick, this one in the ribs that sent her gasping for breath. Then, as she felt a hand tangle in her hair, Buffy swept her fist back and nailed her assailant in the face, his grip falling loose.
"That was not very nice," she gasped as she jumped to her feet, glaring at a large vampire who was holding a broken nose. Then, before he could react, Buffy quickly launched a powerful kick at him that sent the creep to his knees. A second later and he was dust. Smiling grimly, Buffy had time to see that everyone seemed to be holding their own for the moment as the chanting continued, the spellcasters unaware of the battle being waged around them - and then three new vampires were upon her. "My lucky night," she grunted as she became lost to the fight. A few minutes later, opponentless once again, Buffy swiveled at the sound of claws on the shattered tile behind her. There stood a nasty looking demon, unlike any that she had ever seen before, with black clawed feet, wicked looking talons for fingers, and fiery red eyes that glared above a mouth of fangs. "Ooh, bet you don't date much," she smirked as two vampires flanked the demon on each side, hissing angrily.
"Slayer," the demon growled, its talons clicking against each other, "I've been watching you."
"Yeah, you and everyone else in this town!" Buffy bit back sarcastically. "I mean really, what is up with this sudden fascination with my life?" she cried out as the vampires rushed her.
"The spell must not be allowed to be completed!" Buffy dimly heard the demon roar before he, too, began to advance. Sighing, she quickly ducked a punch and deflected a kick before jumping out of reach of the demon's claws. "Yeah, just my night," was her sighed response.
Panting, Riley watched as the last of his opponents disappeared in a cloud of dust. "I must be getting too old for this," he gasped, trying to catch his breath as he quickly surveyed the room. Both Xander and Oz had paired up sometime during the fight and were taking on three determined vampires. Giles, Willow, and the others seemed untouched, the chanting now a steadily increasing roar as the room was covered in the red mist. Even worse, Riley could now hear anguished screams and horrible noises that could only be coming from beyond the doorway into Hell itself. If he didn't know better, Riley would think that they were reopening the door to Hell instead of erasing it forever. Grimacing, he was about to go and help the guys when he saw a flurry of movement through the red mist, just outside the circle of flickering candles.
"Buffy," he whispered quietly as he quickly scooped up the first stake that he could find and moved across the room. As he got closer, he saw that his love was not taking on one vampire, but four and a very large Amarra demon to boot - it had taken three squads from the Initiative to take down one of those demons, and not everyone had lived through the capture. Frowning, he quickly pushed thoughts of the Initiative away as he reached the fight. Seeing a vamp go for Buffy's back, Riley threw himself at the guy and tackled him to the ground. Grunting, he caught Buffy's eyes once before he was quickly immersed in the fight. A few minutes and many bruises later, Riley got a lucky break as he feinted left and then darted forward, pushing his stake through the vampire's chest with all of his might. For a second, he was afraid that he had missed the heart - until he was blessed with a shower of dust.
Grinning, Riley climbed to his feet and locked eyes with Buffy. The Amarra demon was no where in sight and only one of her vampire opponents remained. Smiling, he took a step forward when he saw Buffy's eyes widen in horror.
"No, Riley!" she screamed as he felt a sharp pain tear through the middle of his back and explode out through his chest. Gasping, he felt his smile slip as he looked down to see one of their own sharpened wooden stakes protruding from a bloody hole above his heart.
"Buffy?" he questioned, blood filling his mouth as he met her beautiful eyes - and then he felt the stake being pulled back out as he slid to the ground.
"Riley!" Buffy screamed, her eyes locked on his unseeing brown eyes, the demon standing behind him, a bloody stake in hand. By the location of the bloody hole, Buffy knew that Riley was dead before he even hit the ground. Riley was dead...
"Slayer," the demon hissed as it threw the stake aside and began advancing on her.
In that moment, Buffy saw her world turn red as her heart turned to ice. Slamming a hand back, Buffy snapped the remaining vampire's neck in one blow, a cloud of ash surrounding her as she met the demon's advance. "Bad move," she whispered as she went into a flurry of kicks and punches. Earlier, the two had seemed evenly matched. Now, with revenge and hatred fueling her, the demon was no match at all. It only managed to get in one slice to her arm with his talons before a powerful kick sent him flying halfway across the room. Standing straight, Buffy advanced on the demon, stalking across the room as she picked up her unused gun. Without even looking, she turned the gun to its highest setting before stopping before the bloody demon. This time there were no jokes - no sarcastic remarks as the Slayer lifted the gun and rested the tip against the demon's forehead. As its eyes widened, Buffy pulled the trigger, her face a cold mask, and ended its life in an explosion of hellish light.
And then the gun slipped from her fingers and clattered to the hard ground, the spell broken. Blinking back tears, Buffy finally began to feel as she turned and as her eyes locked on Riley's unmoving figure. As quiet sobs began to tear at her, Buffy felt her entire world collapse around her as she shuffled to her love's side and dropped to her knees, the material of her black pants immediately soaking up the pool of blood that surrounded his body. Idly, she sensed movement around her as she gently reached forward, pulling him towards her until his head was cradled in her lap. As tears stung at her eyes, Buffy reached forward and closed his beautiful eyes for the last time.
Just then, the room was bathed in a blinding bright light, the voices in Hell screaming their fury as their doorway was forever erased from Sunnydale. Exhausted, the spellcasters slumped forward, as if their marionette strings had been cut, panting for breath. The first to move was Willow, her tired eyes shining with excitement as she finally sat up and searched for her friends. But it was the soft sobs from behind her that finally alerted her that all was not as it should be.
"Buffy?" she asked quietly, turning slowly - and stopping at what she saw. "Oh no," she whispered, her eyes filling with tears. There, sitting beside her, was her best friend, her face wet with tears and her hair disheveled. But more importantly, spread out before her lay Riley, his shirt soaked with blood and his face white. Willow knew the truth even as Oz pulled her gently to her feet and held her in his arms. "Oh no," Willow whispered again as she watched Buffy gently caress Riley's face, blood staining her hands as she whispered quietly to her love. Slowly, Willow watched as Xander knelt beside Buffy, touching her shoulder gently as she shook him away.
Buffy was lost to her own tormented world and her own private hell as her friends gathered around her. "I'm so sorry," she whispered as the tears coursed down her cheeks unnoticed. "I'm sorry that I failed you - I endangered you.. I couldn't protect you.. I'm so sorry," she kept whispering as she remembered his beautiful smile, their first kiss, the first time that they made love, his proposal...
"Just like Pauletta," Longchamp muttered, his words finally breaking through the blanket of grief that shrouded the room, eyeing the tears on the Slayer's face with disdain and pity.
Pulling out of her trance, Buffy looked blankly at her friends - the tears in Willow's eyes, the blood and torn clothing of Xander and Oz and the grief of her Watcher as he took Xander's place beside her. "What?" Buffy whispered dimly, working through her hazy pain.
"You're not supposed to live so long that things other than slaying begin to occupy your thoughts," Longchamp continued as the girl's eyes finally focused on him. "Only one other as good as you has ever reached this point: Pauletta."
"I don't understand," Buffy whispered as her tears began to clear.
Nodding, Longchamp clasped his hands behind him. "Like you, Pauletta, too, began to lose sight of her duty as she got older," he explained. "And she, too, fell in love - but she didn't realize that when you're the Chosen One, you're either the Slayer or dead," he said flatly, his eyes glittering dangerously under the flickering of the candle light. "There are no other options."
Shaking her head, Buffy felt her grief turn to anger as once more the tears filled her eyes - hearing what she had always feared but never wanted to believe. "But it's my life!" she protested, beating a fist against her chest.
"No," Longchamp cut in sharply, "you're the Slayer. The world needs a Slayer, and if a Slayer is not doing her duties then she must be destroyed so that another can take her place," he said quietly, his voice like ice as the Slayer slowly shook her head in denial, the room silent as all stood in shock. It was obvious that everything in the girl was desperately trying to fight against his words. Sighing, he quickly changed tactics. "Haven't you noticed the changes in yourself during the last few years?" he prompted. As she slowly turned her eyes away, everyone in the room had her answer. "Child, your body stopped aging on your eighteenth birthday," he whispered, finally dropping the bombshell. "You are still mortal and can be killed," he explained, her eyes locked on his, "but your body will no longer age. You can live forever, if you're lucky.
"This was Nature's way of creating the perfect Slayer, for you will become faster, stronger, and better with time... but the human mind cannot handle the gift for, obviously, there is no chance for a normal life," he nodded, sweeping his hand to include everyone that surrounded them, pointing out the hidden differences between her and her friends. And as the Watcher's Council had indeed been watching the Slayer, he knew the final burden to add in. "As I'm sure that you already know, this means that you will never be able to have children - especially now," he stated, his eyes shifting to the dead young man as the girl winced and pulled back as though slapped, tears streaking down her cheeks. "Everyone you love will grow old and die around you while you remain young and beautiful - alone."
Shaking her head, Buffy took in the man's words as her tears coursed down her cheeks. This man had just single-handedly destroyed all of her hopes and dreams of the future and confirmed her worst nightmares. She didn't even have the will to fight anymore. "What.. what happened to Pauletta?" she asked dimly, her voice a mere whisper in the large room.
"All that she loved aged while she never did - she went insane and had to be destroyed," he replied as Buffy winced, her head turning away as her eyes locked once again on the body of the dead boy. Smiling slightly, Longchamp saw that everyone was lost in shock, their eyes locked on the Slayer as they unconsciously drew away from her - her pain so great that it was almost too much to witness. Nodding, he slowly reached into his suit pocket. "Because of Pauletta the Watcher's Council has set a precedence: if a Slayer should survive until her twenty-second birthday she must be destroyed," he whispered as he smoothly pulled out his gun and leveled it at the girl's head. Frozen by shock, no one moved as the girl slowly turned to meet his eyes, the hollow pain making him cringe. "I'm truly sorry," he muttered as his finger pulled the trigger and the world erupted in sound and movement.
Breaking free from their trances, both Xander and Giles made a desperate leap for the gun as two shots exploded around them. Amazed, Willow's scream was caught in her throat as Buffy rolled so quickly away from the gun that she was a blur of movement that narrowly escaped the slug that ripped into the floor beside her, showering her in chips of stone. Simultaneously, another bullet ripped through Longchamp's heart, sending him to the ground in a spray of blood.
As Buffy finished her roll to her feet, looking like a deer caught in a car's headlights, ready to bolt, she caught movement as the other watcher stepped from the shadows. "I never did believe that violence was the answer," Edward shrugged as everyone turned towards him, watching as he calmly lowered his smoking pistol. "But a Slayer is needed," he added before the girl turned and bolted from the room so quickly that there was no hope of ever following.
"Buffy!" Willow screamed at her friend's retreating back, tears coursing down her cheeks. Shaking her head, Willow turned as sobs wracked her small form and she buried her face in Oz's shoulder. "Buffy..."
The sun slowly crept over the horizon, pouring its golden light on a new world. As its warmth spread over the houses of Sunnydale, one dark mansion's tightly closed windows kept the brightness at bay, leaving the interior like a cold and dusty tomb. Alone, Buffy curled into a ball on the middle of the floor of the abandoned living room, her arms wrapped tightly around herself as the tears poured down her cheeks. She didn't know how long she had been there. Her mind was a blank and all she remembered was running and running faster until the world was a dark blur to the only place she knew where to run. But he wasn't here this time to comfort her, just as he hadn't been for so many years... and she could never outrun her memories.
"Buffy?" Riley questioned as blood filled his mouth.
"Oh God no," Buffy moaned, willing the images away as the tears poured down her cold cheeks.
"Buffy," Riley whispered, "I love you - all of you. Even the Slayer side... Nothing is more important to me than you and I'll stand by you through it all and will make it our sacred duty, together..."
"But it wasn't your duty - it was mine," she protested to the empty mansion as an ache pulsed from her heart. With her words came a dark realization. "You're dead because of me," she sobbed as a new wave of pictures flooded her mind: she was here, in this very room, all those years ago. The door to Hell had just been opened and she was just about to destroy Angelus when she saw the change come over him and knew that her love, her Angel, was standing before her once again. She had destroyed him by bringing forth Angelus, had killed Jenny Calendar as a result, and now, after months of torture she had him again... and she killed him. With her own hand, when he trusted her most and was so lost and confused, so vulnerable, she had run him through and sent him to Hell. Now she had done the same by loving Riley. Just by loving him she had placed him in this position.
Before, Buffy had run away from the hurt and the pain - from the reminder of what she had done by trying to start a new life. This time, she knew that there would be no new life. Just by knowing her, people got dead - she couldn't stay or the same would happen to everyone that she loved in Sunnydale. But there must always be a Slayer.
Sitting up, Buffy realized that she had her hand wrapped around the hilt of the knife that she had used to almost kill Faith all of those years ago. Dimly, she now remembered grabbing it from its hiding place during her mad dash from the world. Holding it up, Buffy became captivated by the sharp glinting of light off of the stained blade. There was so much pain in her life - so much pain since she had become the Chosen One - since she had learned of her destiny. When she was little, she had wanted to be beautiful and popular, go to school, marry the love of her life and somehow balance a job and kids - be happy like her parents. But then Merrick had entered her life and her dreams were shattered. So many people that she had grown up with had died that night - she stood by and watched Merrick be killed - it was all her fault because all she wanted was her nice normal life and didn't want to be the Slayer that the world needed her to be. And then there was the divorce as her perfect family was destroyed. The only good that came out of it was her friends, the Scooby Gang... but how many times had they barely avoided death because of her? Because they were her friends and she let them help her? And Angel... God she had loved him - but she had destroyed him as well and he couldn't love her after that. And then Riley... shaking her head, Buffy felt the tears course down her cheek before splattering on the blade. He was her one chance for normalcy - but in time that wouldn't have even lasted because she was the Slayer, and everyone and everything that she touched died.
"But it's my life!" she protested, beating a fist against her chest.
"No, you're the Slayer... if a Slayer is not doing her duties then she must be destroyed so another can take her place."
Sighing, Buffy knew what she must do as she slowly lifted the long knife and gripped the handle firmly with both hands, the blade aimed at her heart. She was finally calm, her hands steady - until Riley's beautiful eyes flashed in her mind's eye - that and his unmoving body. "I never said goodbye," she whispered, the tears coursing down her cheeks as she tried to steady her hand, "because I didn't know you were leaving," she continued as both Riley and Angel seemed to appear, standing before her. Choking back a sob, Buffy quickly shook her head as she tore her eyes away from their images and turned back to the quivering knife. "I didn't know until you were already gone," she gasped as she plunged the knife forward with all of her might...
... And pulled her hand at the last second so that the long blade plunged deeply into her side. Screaming in pain, Buffy looked down in horrified amazement as her own dark blood immediately soaked through the side of her thin shirt. "Oh God," she cried as she wrapped her shaky hands, slick with her own blood, around the hilt once again. Hissing, she pulled the blade out and dropped it to the ground as she pressed her hands tightly against the wound. Sobbing, she painfully lay down on the cold ground and curled into a tight ball as she became lost in her pain - both mental and physical.
I don't even deserve to die...
Sighing, Edward slowly unlocked his car door, squinting under the bright California sunshine. "Soon, this place will be far behind me," he sighed in relief as the door clicked open. Reaching in, he quickly popped the trunk and moved around behind the car, grunting as he lifted his heavy suitcase into the large space. Pushing it back, he quickly slammed the trunk shut, looked once more at his hotel that looked out over the now-quiet town of Sunnydale, and then walked back towards his door, gravel crunching beneath his feet.
Frowning, he slowly settled into the driver's seat and slid his key into the ignition, the car roaring to life. But just as he put the car into drive, the passenger door beside him clicked open as a young woman slid in beside him. Surprised, Edward stared in shock at the girl beside him - she looked horrible. In the few days that she had been missing Buffy Summers looked as though she had eaten nothing, her skin pale and dark rings lining her eyes. And that wasn't the most disturbing thing - the girl looked dead as there was no emotion in her at all. "Miss Summers?" he finally asked quietly, noting that she looked at nothing but the empty road before them.
For a moment there was silence and Edward was afraid that she hadn't heard - until she nodded slightly, never looking his way. "The world needs a Slayer," she whispered hollowly.
Nodding, Edward finally understood as he pulled out of the parking lot and onto the highway beyond. As they left Sunnydale behind, Buffy Summers never once looked back. The world had its Slayer and only one girl was sacrificed in the process. For many it was a small price to pay. For those that loved Buffy Summers, it was catastrophic.
Do you know what it's like to be The Chosen One?
It means being the One Chosen to fight...
Fight for the Cause that was made to be yours.
Fight for everything you hold dear to you - everything you love.
Fight for those that you will never meet - those you will never know.
Fight against an evil so tangible that you know it's what nightmares are really made of.
Chosen to be immersed in death...
Death so thick that it chokes your every breath.
Death so prevalent that you begin to enjoy the killing.
Death so evident that you begin to kill your own humanity.
Death that makes you a killer like those you destroy.
Chosen to never have a normal life...
To never gain back the innocence that you lost.
To never go back to not knowing about the evil that permeates our world.
To never go back to carefree times with friends where immortality seems so real.
To never be able to use whatever degree you gain.
To never go back to being someone's daughter.
To never be able to be someone's mother... or wife.
To never know love for fear of having that love destroyed by the evil that you hunt.
To being so alone when surrounded by so many.
It means being the One Chosen to die...
I've died once already for this cause that was not mine - for the cause I didn't want. I never asked to be the Chosen One. I never asked to say goodbye to my hopes and dreams for the future...
I didn't ask to be The Slayer...
I've died once already for this cause that I never asked for... that I never wanted... and I can't help but wonder when the faceless mask of Death will hunt me down again...
To Be Continued in Loving Eternally