Title: "Flash Point"

Author: Fuer Grissa Ost Drauka

Rating: PG-13 (T)

Pairing: standard canon at this point, but none mentioned

Disclaimer: Don't own any of it

Spoilers: I don't know if it can really be considered 'spoilers' now, but it starts out during Buffy: season 7 "Empty Places", so anything in the series is fair game.

Status: Complete

Summary: Starts off in "Empty Places". The decision was made. Granted, it wasn't by her, but it was made. All she can do now is move forward.

Feedback: always appreciated

Flash Point

Chapter 1:

Buffy paused as the door shut behind her and pulled on her jacket with tears flowing freely down her face. The door opened and closed once more, and Buffy could feel Faith's presence behind her.

"Hey. Look, I swear I didn't want it to go down this way."

"Don't," Buffy's voice was choked with tears as she cut the other Slayer off. Strange as it sounded, Faith was the only one she didn't resent. If there was going to be anyone against her, she would've thought it would be Faith, yet Faith was the only one who hadn't wanted her to leave.

"I mean it. I-"

Buffy shook her head. "Don't be afraid to lead them. Whether you wanted it or not, their lives are yours. It's only gonna get harder. Protect them." Buffy turned to Faith, "Lead them."

Faith nodded solemnly. "What are you going to do?"

Buffy's eyes hardened in resolve. "What I always do. I'm going to do what I have to."

Buffy turned to leave, but Faith's whispered words stopped her. "You're goin' back in." It wasn't a question, but Buffy's silence confirmed it. Faith's eyes widened as it sunk in. "You're going back in! On your own! Buffy, that's insane."

"I know that's how it sounds, but everything inside me is screaming that I have to do this."

"B, we don't know how to kill this guy. Kennedy may have as much tact as Anya, but she was right; he's stronger than us. One hit and we're out, B."

"Then I don't let him hit me," Buffy said simply.

"If you get yourself killed, I'll make Red bring you back just so I can kick your bony ass into next year."

Buffy's lips twitched into a smile that didn't reach her eyes. "You'd try."

"Take care of yourself, Buffy."

"Don't worry. I'll be back soon." Buffy turned and started down the walkway away from 1630 Revello Drive.

Buffy didn't look back as she walked away from the place she had called 'home' for the past seven years. Looking back would only make the pain a hundred times worse, and she needed to focus on taking out Caleb.

Angelus' words echoed in her head as she walked down the street. "So, that's everything, huh? No weapons. No friends. No hope. Take all that away, and what's left?"

"Me." Buffy unknowingly echoed her own response. For all the un-souled vampire's smoke and mirrors and scare tactics, he had make her realize something that day - something she had long since forgotten. No matter how much her 'friends' tried to help, in the end, it always came down to her. Taking on the 'big bad'. Alone. Friends were either a target for enemies or a hindrance, and they had made it perfectly clear that when push came to shove, they'd shove you to the ground. She had forgotten once. She wouldn't forget again.

The mansion was dark, but Buffy didn't care as she maneuvered through a room of cloth-covered furniture, being careful not to walk into anything. She easily located Angel's old room and made her way to the foot of the bed where a heavy wooden trunk rested. The padlock gave way with one sharp kick from the blonde Slayer.

Kneeling in front of the trunk, she lifted the lid an pulled out a large axe. She gave the weapon a quick but thorough scan. It wasn't as good as some of her own, but it would do well enough. She pulled a knife out and tucked it safely under her shirt. Satisfied with her chosen weapons, she closed the lid and walked out of the mansion.

Spike pulled into the Summers' driveway and turned off the bike's engine. Andrew scrambled off the back and pulled the large football helmet off his head. Spike rolled the bike to the side of the house before they went inside.

"We're back," Andrew called out.

"Spike," Giles stated as the vampire and Andrew walked into the kitchen.

"Hey," Spike greeted in a disinterested tone.

"Hi everybody. We missed you guys a lot. Sorry, it took so long to get back from our mission. We had to wait out the sun." He didn't notice the awkward silence that had settled among the room. "Well, I think our mission went very well. We, uh- we rode on Spike's hog - which was really cool - and, uh, played some amusing games, and uh, oh! We got some information. You know what, I really need to urinate," Andrew finished his monologue, all but running out of the kitchen.

"He's a breath of fresh air, innit he?" Spike said sarcastically after Andrew passed him. "Thank God I don't breathe," he added flatly. "So. I think we got a lead. Where's Buffy?"

"Um," Dawn spoke up hesitantly. "She's not here right now."

"When's she get back?" Something was off. Everyone was too quiet, awkward, and nervous.

Willow stepped up. "While you were gone, we all got together, and talked out some disagreements that we were having and - and eventually, after much discussion, Buffy decided that it would be best for all of us if she took a little time off - a little breather." Willow finished her nervous babbling with and equally nervous smile.

"Uh, huh," Spike's face was blank. "I see. Been practicing' that little speech long have you?" He questioned with raised brows. Did they really think he was that stupid? Willow took a few steps back as Spike continued. "So, uh, Buffy took some time off right in the middle of the apocalypse, and it was her decision."

"Well we all decided," Xander defended.

"Oh yeah, you all decided," he scoffed. "You sad, sad, ungrateful traitors. Who do you think you are?"

"We're her friends," Willow said. "We just wanted-"

"Oh, that's ballsy of you," Spike cut the witch off mockingly. "You're her friends and you betray her like this."

"Hey, blondie. Lay off the scoobies for a minute. We need to talk," Faith cut in, before he could say anything more.

"Hm, is that right?" he questioned, not bothering to hide his skepticism.

"Yeah, that's right. Not here though. B's room is empty."

"Well, after you then, luv," Spike said mockingly.

Faith ignored his attempt to anger her and just walked up the stairs, knowing that he wouldn't be far behind.

Once they were both in the room, Faith closed the door. She turned so she was facing Spike. "B's going after Caleb. Alone," Faith didn't bother wasting any time getting to the point. "I told her it's insane, but she wouldn't listen."

Spike sighed and ran a hand through his gelled hair. "She never does," he said, frustrated.

"I can't leave everyone here by themselves, but B needs backup."

Spike nodded. "Do you know where she went?"

"No, but she didn't leave too long ago. You should be able to track her easily enough." Spike nodded and turned to leave. "Spike." Faith's voice stopped him. He turned back. "Don't let B do anything that'll get her killed."

He opened his mouth, a sarcastic comment ready to be fired off, but something he saw in her eyes made him hold it back. Worry. Fear for Buffy. "I'll do whatever it takes to keep her safe."

Faith nodded gratefully and watched as he left the room.

There were only two Bringers guarding the vineyard, Buffy noted as she crept inside. She took off the first one's head with her axe before either one noticed her presence. The second charged her, knife held high. Buffy ducked to the right and brought up the axe. The flat of the blade connected with the Bringer's ribcage, sending it reeling backwards. Buffy used her momentum to spin around and deliver a roundhouse kick that sent the Bringer crashing through a wooden door.

She took a deep breath and tightened her grip on the axe as it fell down a flight of stairs, landing with a sickening crack. Caleb looked up at her as Buffy stepped through the doorway, looking far more confident than she felt.

"I heard you've got something of mine."

Spike followed Buffy's scent through the rows of tombstones. A large, familiar mansion came into view as he moved past a crypt.

"Figures," Spike muttered. "Of course, she'd go to the bloody poof's old home." He sniffed at the air again and frowned when he detected a second, stronger trail. "Oh, bloody hell!" She had already left. The bleach blonde vampire took off running in the direction of the vineyard - in the direction Buffy had gone.

Buffy ducked under Caleb's wildly thrown punch and kicked the back of his knee. Caleb stumbled a bit but was able to maintain his balance enough to avoid falling. He lunged at her, but Buffy did a back flip and landed on a pile of wine casks. "Missed me," she taunted.

"You can't keep this up all night, little girl. All I need to do is land one blow. You, on the other hand, need to avoid every blow. I have to say that as far as odds go, these are looking to be in my favor. You might as well just give up now. I promise that if you do, I'll grant you a quick death."

"Not getting tired already, are you?" Buffy jumped off the casks as he landed clumsily on them. "Everyone knows that the bad guys only tell you to give up when they know they can't win." She could tell that her taunts were affecting him. He was becoming angry, and that was making him sloppy. Buffy leaped over a wine barrel, and Caleb tore through it, spilling its contents on the floor. She began running to the other side of the room when Caleb's voice stopped her.

"You whore!"

Buffy turned and regarded the evil preacher with an amused look. "You know, you really should watch your language. If someone didn't know you," she tilted her head to the side, "they might think that you were a woman-hating-jerk." Angrily, he shoved aside a wine barrel and charged after her. Buffy's eyes darted over to where her axe laid, buried in one of the wooden barrels. It was easily within reach. She pulled it out with ease and swung the blade. The axe came up between Caleb's legs. Buffy almost winced; that looked like it hurt. While Caleb stared at her in shock, Buffy pulled the axe up, splitting the preacher in two.

Panting heavily, Buffy stared down at the body for a long moment before a relieved grin settled on her face. She began to feel a tingling sensation in the back of her mind. Her eyebrows furrowed and the smile melted into a slight frown. She could sense something nearby. It wasn't her normal 'evil' sense that was going off, but it was more along the lines of how it felt when Faith was near. The low hum that pulsated right beneath her skin, comforting and warm. It was calling out to her, she realized.

Buffy moved closer to a pile of wine casks and began moving them aside. The tingling was drawing her here for a reason. She overlooked the trapdoor at her feet until her shoe caught the edge of the slightly raised wood. Buffy crouched down and slipped her finger into the small hole in the floor. She tugged at the hole and a square of wood lifted out of the floor. Below, was a set of wooden stairs, illuminated by the light of multiple torches along the cavern's rock walls. She slid through the opening, landing easily at the top of the staircase, and examined her surroundings.

Near the far wall was a large stone with some kind of weapon embedded in it. In a trance-like motion, Buffy walked over to the stone and extended her hand towards the scythe.

"So, you found it," Caleb said from behind her.

"You're not him," she stated dryly, not taking her eyes of the scythe before her.

"No," the First agreed, not shifting from the image of the dead preacher. "You killed him, right and proper. Won't matter though, you still won't be able to remove it from the stone before my Bringers swarm over this place."

Buffy ignored him as she reached out to grasp the handle of the weapon. It easily slid out of the rock when she pulled on it. She slowly spun it around a few times, getting a good look at the object the First clearly hadn't wanted her to have.

"Well, would you look at that," the First said, nervously. Buffy turned and watched him back away as she took a step forwards. "You don't even know what you've got there, so why don't you just hand it over?" The First was trying to sound threatening, but his efforts were sabotaged with each step he took backwards.

Buffy took a few steps forward, clearly amused. "I know you're backing away."

"You can't beat me. I am in every man, woman, and child on the face of this earth. No two-sided doodad is going to change that."

"Maybe not, but I'm thinking that there must be a reason why you're still backing up. I'm thinking that maybe you're afraid because there's something about this weapon that can hurt you," Buffy stated smugly.

"Weren't you paying attention, girlie? I'm incorporeal. What do you think that little toy of yours there can do to me?"

Buffy tilted her head and gave the First a half smile. "I don't know, but I'm kinda wanting to find out." She swung the scythe at the First. He jumped back, but the blade sliced into his arm before he could get out of the way. The First looked down at the gash in his arm horrified. Buffy stared at the wound, a slow smile spreading across her face. She advanced on the First with a wicked looking grin plastered on her face.

"Wait!" The First backed up, throwing his hands up as if to ward off the small Slayer. "You can't kill me. You don't have enough time."

Buffy hesitated and shot him a questioning look. "What are you talking about?"

The First smirked. "If you take the time to kill me now, you won't be able to get to Faith and the others in time."

"In time for what?" Buffy pressed, growing irritated at the First's inability to get to the point.

"Your friends captured one of my Bringers, who revealed the existence of my armory. They went there trying to find that little weapon of yours there," the First gestured at the scythe Buffy was still gripping tightly. "They're walking straight into a trap that will get them all killed." He smirked at her shocked look, "Faith go 'boom'."

Buffy's eyes hardened into a fierce glare, and before the First had time to realize his mistake, she lunged at him. Buffy swung the blade into his stomach and dropped to one knee as she pulled the scythe hard to one side, tearing it from the First's incorporeal body and creating a deeper cut. The First looked down at the wound in surprise and pain before he collapsed to the floor, dead. The body faded and dissolved until nothing was left.

Buffy paused for only a moment before she took off at a run. She raced up the stairs and jumped up through the trapdoor. She landed in a crouch and ran out of the small building, right into Spike. He caught here as she stumbled.

"Are you all right, luv? What happened?" Spike glanced over her head, making sure no one was chasing after the Slayer who was currently struggling in his grasp.

"Spike, let go. I have to get to them before it's too late."

"Too late for what, Slayer?"

"Faith and the others. They're walking into a trap. The armory's gonna blow up."

to be continued...

Author's Note:
I know, the defeat of the First was kinda quick, but I wanted to move past it quickly. Well, that and I didn't want to turn all the potentials into slayers.

Let me know if it's worth continuing?