The Scythe

Author: Nitrowugs

Rating: PG-13 (I'm not sure.)

Pairings: B/A, W/A

Feedback: Please. Constructive criticism is always welcomed and appreciated.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything associated with BtVS and AtS. (Characters, plots, and dialogue from the shows are borrowed with no infringement intent whatsoever.)

Distribution: Please ask and let me know where it's going.

Started: 02/18/2009

Completed: 04/11/2009

Summary: The true power and purpose of the scythe are revealed.

A/N: Thoughts are in single quotes (' ')

Chapter 1

'Angel recognized it right away. He looked into my eyes once and he knew that I hadn't been in hell.' Buffy's thoughts were still on her meeting with Angel as she drove back to Sunnydale from their secret meeting place.

Having arrived a few minutes earlier, Angel had just unlocked the door to their secret hide-away when he saw her car turn into the driveway. By the time she had parked her car and turned off the engine he was opening her driver's door. He pulled her into such a tight embrace that, had she not been the slayer, she would have been injured. She could feel his tears mix with her own as they held each other. He picked her up and carried her into the house using his foot to close the door; he didn't bother turning on a light. They held onto each other for what seemed like hours, reveling in each other's presence, re-familiarizing themselves with each other.

When Angel finally spoke, his voice was hoarse. "I don't know what happened, love, how you are here, alive again, but I am so grateful to whatever god that brought you back to me."

At his words Buffy burst into tears again. He tilted her head up and looked into her eyes. Even though her eyes were filled with tears he could see the loss she was experiencing.

"Oh, Buffy, I am so sorry. Why did they do it? Why did they pull you out of heaven?"

Buffy explained to him what had happened - her friends thought that she was in a hell dimension and that they were saving her from an eternity of torment. Angel was incensed, outraged.

"Those fools," he raged. "How could they have thought that you were in hell? What had you ever done to cause you to go to any place other than heaven?"

"It was Willow," Buffy told him. "She knew the magic and she convinced the others to go along with it. Angel, I think Willow knew that I wasn't in hell and she went ahead anyway. She even left me in my coffin; I had to dig my way out of my own grave. And now she expects me to be grateful to her for this atrocity. I don't know what happened to her, Angel. She doesn't even seem like the same person that I knew before I died. She uses magic for everything. I don't think she could stop even if she wanted to. I really think she is hooked on the magic and that is what has caused the change in her personality."

Angel's anger blazed white-hot and he could feel Angelus near the surface. Since Buffy's death he and Angelus had had many calm (not amiable, never amiable) conversations and there was only one thing that the two of them agreed on and that was Buffy. Both of them loved her and both of them knew that she was at peace in heaven. The only reason Angelus had not taken control when they had gotten the word that Buffy was alive again was because he knew that Buffy needed Angel, that and he, Angelus, would not be able to control himself.

"Go to her," Angelus had said. "Go to her and help her; she must feel so lost right now."

Angel had been surprised, but pleased, at Angelus' words.

When he heard what Buffy said about her friends, Angelus wanted to destroy them all. He particularly wanted to rip Willow limb from limb. His seething anger fueled Angel's need for vengeance on the people that had so violated Buffy's heavenly peace. Only the sight of Buffy's tears made him calm down.

"I'm so sorry, love, I am so very sorry," he whispered as he took her in his arms again, all thoughts of vengeance gone for the moment; he just wanted to hold Buffy and ease her discomfort. He had to make sure that she knew his anger was in no way directed at her, but at the fools who had ripped her out of heaven.

Even though he was angry over their actions, Angel was still happy to have Buffy back.

They stayed together talking and getting re-acquainted until Angel would have to drive like mad to miss the rapidly approaching dawn. Before they parted to return to their separate homes, they vowed to never again allow anything to keep them apart. They would stay in contact with each other, talk on the phone every night and meet every weekend even if it was for not more than an hour. Angel gave Buffy his cell phone that they would use in the coming week. When they met on the weekend, Angel would have a new cell phone for Buffy. This way, they could talk without any of their friends being aware of what was going on between them.

And so at this time on the drive back to Sunnydale Buffy felt better than she had since before her seventeenth birthday. She could breathe freely again. She had something good to look forward to for the first time. She knew that there were still issues to be resolved. She hadn't told Angel about everything that she had seen or relived while she was in heaven. That would come later. Now she had to confront her friends and family at home. She was not looking forward to that conversation.

End Chapter 1

The Scythe

Chapter 2

When Buffy arrived back home from her meeting with Angel, her only thought was to crawl into bed and get some sleep. Just as she went to close her bedroom door an angry Willow charged in demanding to know where she had been.

"I went to meet Angel, you know that. Why? What has happened?" Buffy asked, concerned.

"Nothing happened, not that you were here to see it if something had happened. I thought you were going to meet Angel to let him see that you were actually alive and then return home, not spend the night with him. I get you out of hell and the only thing on your mind still is Angel. How ungrateful can you be?"

Willow was on a tear and Buffy knew that she had to diffuse the situation before things got out of hand. She said, as calmly as she could manage, "I'm sorry, Willow, I didn't mean to upset you. Why don't we talk later today after I've had a chance to get some sleep?"

Buffy's calm exterior seemed to take some of the wind out of Willow's sail and Willow agreed to continue the conversation later.

"Fine," Willow said, eyes still blazing as she turned and left, closing the bedroom door none too gently as she exited.

Buffy couldn't figure out what Willow's problem was and at the moment she really didn't care. She was so tired after her trip, she just wanted to get some sleep; she would face Willow and the others later.

It was mid-afternoon by the time Buffy woke up. This was the first decent sleep she had gotten since her return and she knew it was due to her meeting with Angel. As she reached the bottom of the stairs she heard Willow yell, "Buffy, we're all in the living room. We need to talk to you." From the tone of Willow's voice Buffy knew that she was in for a confrontation of massive proportions, but she was ready for it.

Seated in the living room were Giles, Xander, Anya, Dawn, Spike and Tara. Willow was standing; she spoke first, "So Buffy, how was your meeting with Angel last night?"

"O.K.," Buffy answered, "but is that really the reason for this meeting?"

"No. It's not," Willow shot back.

Before anything else could be said, Xander interrupted and attacked. "How is Angel, Buffy? He is still Angel, isn't he, or has that blood-sucking fiend shown his true colors again? Angelus didn't make an appearance last night after your romp in the hay with Angel, did he? What were you thinking?"

Calmly and deliberately Buffy replied, "First of all - Angel is fine; second – of course he's still Angel; third - there was no romp in the hay; and fourth – it isn't your business what I was thinking. Angel isn't a blood-sucking fiend and I am so sick of your childish, stupid and idiotic jealousy of him. We're not in high school anymore, Xander; so grow up. Be happy with what you have because friendship is all you'll ever get from me, and right now that line is on the verge of being permanently severed. Don't make me hate you, Xander. You are very close to that at this moment."

Xander was livid. "Are telling me that you would choose him over your friendship with me, with all of us?"

Buffy's only reply was a smirk that would have made Angelus proud.

Giles yelled, "That's enough, Xander. Buffy is right. It's time you got over your hatred of Angel and moved on. It took me a long time to forgive him for Jenny's death. Intellectually I always knew the difference between Angel and Angelus, but in my heart I could not admit it to myself; I could not let go of the hate. When I finally did, I realized that I had been punishing an innocent soul for the actions of a demon and I sorely regretted it. I am still so ashamed."

Tara stood. "Giles is right, Xander. Besides this is not why we are here," she said to the group. She then addressed Buffy directly. "I know that things must be difficult for you. I can't imagine how you are coping with all that has happened to you. I just want you to know that I am here for you anytime you need me. I don't know what happened between you and Angel last night, but your aura has changed. It is not as fragmented as it was before. It seems to me that he is good for you. Maybe you can find a way to continue your friendship with him."

"You do seem more like your old self today, Buffy," Anya said.

"I don't know what the old Poof did, but it's good to have you back, Slayer." This came from Spike.

Dawn hugged her sister. "I'm happy to see you doing better, Buffy."

"Angel didn't do anything really, we just talked all night," Buffy told them. She hesitated briefly then continued. "There is something that Angel recognized immediately, that the rest of you have yet to realize."

"And just what is that?" Willow demanded.

Without even acknowledging that Willow had spoken, Buffy continued. "Angel could see that I hadn't been in hell and that the difficulties I was experiencing were due to the fact that I was pulled out of heaven."

Shocked gasps were heard around the room. All eyes turned to Willow.

Unable to believe what he had just heard Xander spoke directly to Willow. "But you said she was in hell. You said that you had checked and double-checked; you swore to us that Buffy was being tormented in hell. Why, Will? Why would you do that? Why would you use black magic to penetrate heaven and pull Buffy away from the reward that she had earned?"

"It wasn't just me," Willow defended herself. "All of you wanted her back. I just did what you couldn't do. I have the power so I did it. Besides, there was no slayer here; Faith was in prison and the Hellmouth was unprotected. Buffy's the slayer; it's her responsibility to protect Sunnydale."

The more Willow spoke the more appalled the group became. "I did it for us," she declared, "for all of us."

"No Willow, you didn't," Anya accused. "It's like you said, "You have the power so you did it." You did it to show everyone that you could."

"So, what now, you all turn on me? Just remember, I still have the power," Willow threatened.

"Will you listen to yourself, Will? This isn't you. This doesn't even sound like you," Xander challenged.

Willow turned and stalked out of the room. Tara, Xander and Anya, each apologized to Buffy for participating in the resurrection ritual. Willow could not have completed the ritual alone and they regretted their part in it.

Buffy forgave them.

Tara and Anya both hugged Buffy apologizing to her again.

Xander approached Buffy his voice laced with humility. "I'm sorry too, Buffy," he said. "Not only for participating in the ritual, but for what I said about Angel; you and Giles are both right – it is time I grew up. Nothing is worth losing your friendship." They hugged. All was forgiven.

Willow watched from the top of the stairs. 'I'll show them,' she thought; 'I'll show them all.'

End Chapter 2

The Scythe

Chapter 3

Willow was furious. 'How dare they side with her against me – well, I'll just have to do something about that, won't I?'

Her mind was working a mile a minute. At first she considered doing something that would hurt her friends to pay them back for what she perceived as betrayal, but she decided against it. She decided to perform a spell that would make everyone forget the last few hours, so that no one would remember being told that Buffy was actually in heaven or the fact that she herself knew beforehand.

Dawn walked past Willow's bedroom and smelled the distinct odor of the herbs Willow was using. Curious, she quietly pushed open the door and saw Willow performing the spell. As Dawn listened to the words being uttered she realized what was going on, but as soon as the spell was complete she did not remember the group's confrontation with Buffy, only that Willow had cast a spell to make them forget. She decided against confronting Willow about the spell, instead she decided to file this information away for future use; she would keep an eye on Willow. 'Who knows what other fuel for blackmail I might discover that is sure to come in handy one day.'

Dawn planted a bug in Willow's bedroom with a recording device in her own room so she could have proof for her blackmail scheme if she needed it. She was quite pleased with herself. 'Buffy thinks that because she is the slayer everything should go her way. Giles thinks that because he's the watcher (ex-watcher that is) he knows everything. Willow thinks that because she is this powerful witch she can manipulate people to perform any way she chooses. Well, we'll see about that. It seems to me that these people should have figured out that this fake girl and former key is capable of more than they imagined.'

Dawn was actually surprised at the number of spells Willow was performing on various members of the group without their knowledge. There had been a number of spells on Tara to keep her under control; there were spells on Xander to make him break up with Anya and spells on Anya to make her leave Xander and return to being a vengeance demon; there were spells on Giles to make him more dependent on Willow and her magic; and there were spells on Buffy to make her more dependent on Willow.

When she had the evidence that she needed, Dawn approached Willow and demanded that she teach her the black arts. Willow had no choice but to comply and she was actually pleased that she now had an accomplice. She soon changed her mind when Dawn's magic abilities surpassed her own.

"You should have known that I would surpass you, Willow; after all my abilities do not come from book learning but from the abilities given me when I was magically created," Dawn bragged. "I just needed to be taught what you know. Now I am more powerful than you and Giles put together."

"And what do you plan to with this power?" Willow asked warily.

"Oh, I don't know. I'll think of something," Dawn said with sly grin.

Willow knew that if any of them crossed Dawn, they would all be in big trouble.

Over the following weeks Buffy continued her secret communications and meetings with Angel. He spoke openly about everything that happened to him while she was away and what was going on with him currently. She told him about heaven, the love, warmth and peace that she felt there; she also told him that she saw how he grieved for her when he found out she was dead and that she remembered the missing day and the happiness they had shared.

She was not angry as he expected her to be. Instead, she told him that she understood why he did what he did and that if the situation had been reversed, she would have done whatever was necessary to insure that he lived. They shared all facets of their lives with each other and as time passed, they fell more in love than ever.

Willow discovered accidentally that Buffy and Angel were continuing their communication after their first meeting and were now a couple again when she heard Buffy talking on the phone late one night. She surmised that to be the reason for Buffy's quick recovery after being resurrected and determined to find a way to put a stop to it. She had been surprised that Buffy had not fallen apart when Giles left to return to England. Buffy had been hurt, but Willow figured that because the Scoobies were being very supportive, Buffy had been able to hold herself together. Buffy's continued relationship with Angel really galled her.

Spike distanced himself from the Scoobies; he even avoided Buffy and Dawn whenever he could. He did not understand why, but he got an uncomfortable feeling around the Scoobies; he could detect the use of black magic around them, but he was not sure of the source. He did not want to believe it was coming from Dawn.

Dawn and Willow engaged in black magic so much, both together and separately, until they were both addicted to it.

Spike didn't know whether or not he should mention his concerns to Buffy, so he just stayed away most of the time. His visits were now becoming few and far between.

End Chapter 3

The Scythe

Chapter 4

Buffy took a job at a local dojo teaching self-defense in order to supplement the child support that her father provided for Dawn. Angel did not like the idea of her working with all that she had to do. During a telephone conversation he informed her that he had already set up an automatic transfer of funds from one of his New York City accounts to her bank account in Sunnydale. Since he couldn't be with her to take care of her, he wanted to make sure that she did not have financial worries on top of everything else.

Buffy arrived home tired, bone tired - she was working a full-time job, running a household, taking care of Dawn, patrolling and on top of all of this The First was back with its uber-vamps and sightless henchmen intent on wrecking havoc in Sunnydale. Willow, Xander and Anya were now living at her house and so far Xander was the only one that made any monetary contribution to the household. Tara moved out and transferred to UCLA when she discovered that Willow was using magic on her. Residents of the city were leaving in droves and Buffy was concerned that her job wouldn't last much longer. She didn't want to use the money from Angel unless absolutely necessary.

Giles showed up with girls that he said were the last of the potential slayers whose watchers had been killed and that Buffy had to protect them.

The influx of more and more potential slayers into Buffy's house was becoming a serious problem for her. They were untrained, lazy and disrespectful and it seemed as though Giles expected her to shelter, feed, clothe, train and coddle them. One particularly disagreeable potential named Kennedy, Willow's new lover, was unnecessarily rude from the moment she entered the house. Buffy had had it. It was time she issued an ultimatum.

Before she could do so Willow received a call from the Angel Investigations team in Los Angeles requesting assistance. All she told the others was that L.A. needed help with a spell when actually they needed her to restore Angel's soul. Willow saw this as her chance to get back at Buffy for her seeming lack of appreciation for the goddess (according to Kennedy) that was Willow.

Without telling anyone Willow modified the soul restoration spell to not only restore Angel's soul without the happiness clause, but to cause Angel to reject Buffy and fall in love with her. After she restored his soul she spent the entire weekend having sex with Angel.

While it surprised Cordelia, Angel's assistant formerly from Sunnydale, and she did not understand this new relationship, she had no reason to suspect that magic was involved. Angel seemed happy so she did not question it; she just assumed that they were in love. She didn't even think of Buffy.

Because Lorne was the only one of the AI team not present when the spell was cast, he was not included in the spell and was the only one who suspected that something was wrong; since Angel refused to sing for him, he had no way of determining what had happened.

Buffy had not received a call from Angel in days and when he did not show up to meet her at their usual place on the weekend she was really worried. She decided to return home and ask Willow what the situation was in LA.

When Willow returned with Faith late Sunday evening, Buffy forgot about Angel and confronted Faith. "What are you doing here?" she demanded.

Before Faith could answer Willow stepped in with "Angel and I thought it was a good idea for Faith to come along. We can use her help."

"To do what?" Buffy challenged; "to cause someone else's death the way she caused my mother's death?"

"Buffy, back off," Willow yelled. "Angel and I thought it was a good idea for Faith to be here, so she stays. Deal with it."

Buffy was shocked. "Since when do you tell me what to do and since when are you and Angel 'you and Angel'?"

This time Faith interrupted. "B, what did you mean when you said that I caused your mother's death? I didn't do anything to Joyce."

"Oh didn't you? My mother's doctor told me that a blow to the head caused the problem in my mother's head that killed her. The only blow to the head that my mother received was from you when you attacked her to get to me. Remember that?" Buffy countered.

"Oh, God!" Faith exclaimed. "B, I am so sorry; I didn't mean to hurt her. I didn't know."

"Oh sure, of course you didn't. You couldn't possibly know that hitting someone in the head hard enough to knock them out could cause severe damage. What does it matter to you any way? She's just another person whose life you took," Buffy said coldly.

"Buffy that's enough," Giles countered. "Like it or not Faith stays."

Buffy turned to face the entire group this time, with her hands on her hips and in a commanding voice she spoke. "Now let's get something straight. I am the slayer here and this is my house. Either all of you fall in line behind my leadership, or get the hell out of my house, and I mean Now!"

Dawn approached her sister. "Buffy, this is my house, too. I have as much say in this house as you do and..."

Buffy interrupted her; she was sick and tired of Dawn's new demanding attitude. "No, Dawn, actually it's not. After all, you're not really my sister, are you?"

Dawn turned and went quietly back to her seat. She and Willow joined hands and quickly whispered a few words. They shared a conspiratorial smirk.

This time it was Kennedy who spoke. "Faith is a slayer, too, and I say we want her to be the leader." She went to stand next to Willow. "Is there anyone here who disagrees with me?"

No one said a word, not Dawn, not Willow, not Xander, not Giles, not Faith, no one.

Buffy spoke again. "I am going to the vineyard because I know that The First and Caleb are hiding something important there. To all of you who agree with Kennedy: Be out of my house by the time I get back."

Buffy walked out of the house to shouts of "Buffy, you can't do this." "She is out of control." "Let her go, we don't need her."

She heard Faith call out to her, but Buffy ignored her.

"Angel's mansion is vacant and it has plenty of room for all of us; we can have our own rooms. I know he would welcome us there," Willow offered proudly.

"A mansion? Let's go," Kennedy replied. She was anxious to get out of Buffy's house.

The group quickly packed up their belongings and loaded as much as possible into Giles' car. Those who couldn't fit in the car would have to walk to the Crawford Street mansion.

Since Giles, Willow and Dawn rode in the car, they arrived first. The electricity was off, but Giles found some candles and lit them and the three of them tried to make the mansion as presentable as possible.

The others arrived at the mansion tired and hungry. Kennedy was the first to speak. "This place is a dump. There's no electricity, no hot water, no food. What are we supposed to do?"

Faith had the answer. "You had all of those things and more at Buffy's house. I don't know why I let myself be talked into this. I'm going back to B's."

Before she could leave, Giles stopped her. "Faith we have to be together in this. Take the girls and go back to get food for all of us from Buffy's. Bring it back here. We'll figure something out tomorrow. Dawn, Willow and I will prepare places for all of us to sleep while you are gone. Take weapons just in case."

Faith hesitated but followed the watcher's instructions anyway.

The group left Buffy's house loaded down with food and supplies. Faith had a bad feeling about the whole situation. If they were attacked by vampires now, they were little more than sitting ducks. As if on cue vamps attacked from all sides and Faith and the potentials found themselves fighting for their lives in what was obviously a losing battle.

At the vineyard Caleb attacked Buffy. She dodged him and jumped down an escape hatch where she met the Guardian and found a special weapon – a Scythe. The Guardian explained the features of the scythe and its significance to Buffy. Caleb attacked again; this time Buffy was ready for him. She made destroying Caleb look easy thanks to her new scythe and she headed for home.

Three blocks from her house Buffy heard what sounded like a tremendous battle; she took off running. Faith and the potentials were losing badly against a group of hungry vampires. Buffy attacked; she seemed to be everywhere at once and the scythe seemed to sing in her hands. The vampires didn't stand a chance.

When the fighting was over Buffy surveyed the group. Each potential was injured in some way, some more than others. Faith was badly injured, as were a few of the potentials. "Come on," Buffy said; "we need to get inside."

Spike met them at the front door. He had stopped by for one of his infrequent visits and found the house in shambles "What the hell happened here?" he asked.

"Take Faith up to the spare bedroom and help me get everyone patched up," Buffy told him without answering his question.

After everyone had received first aid they all, except Faith, gathered in the living room. "Where are Dawn, Willow and Giles," Buffy asked "and what were you doing out in the street at night?"

"They are at the mansion on Crawford Street; Giles sent us back here to get food and supplies," said one of the potentials.

Buffy turned to Kennedy, who had been surprisingly silent, and instructed, "Call Willow's cell and let her know what happened and where you are. Tell her to put a ward around the mansion so no vamps can enter." Then to Spike she said, "Here's some money. Call and order take-out for everyone. See to it that they all clean up their trash before they go to bed. I am going up to check on Faith."

End Chapter 4

The Scythe

Chapter 5

In her room later that night Buffy recalled what the Guardian had told her about the power of the scythe and what it meant to her. The Guardian had spoken in clipped precise sentences:

'I have waited eons for one such as yourself to find this weapon, this scythe. It is made of material not of this world and it is for you alone to wield. It can sense the presence of evil and make you aware of it. No one with evil intent can touch it and live. No one can use negative magic against you as long as the scythe exists. It can sense the presence and source of magic and relay that information to you. You can communicate with the scythe and mentally call it to yourself. Only you can destroy it. At your final death the scythe will return to its creator and await the presence of the next warrior destined to fight the world's greatest evil. Fight well, warrior. Live long.'

Having said that she disappeared.

'If what the Guardian said is true, then I think we have a good chance of defeating The First and sending it back to the depths of hell from which it came. Killing Caleb must've weakened it, but I need to destroy all of its Turok-Han and those freaky looking bringers. I need to put a plan together and I need to speak to Cordelia; since Angel refuses to speak to me, maybe I can get an idea of what's going on from her. I have to get someone in L.A. to talk to me.'

She tried to remember when things started to go wrong between Angel and herself and as far as she could tell, it was the day that Willow left for L.A. after receiving a call from Cordelia. 'That must have been it; Willow must have put a spell on Angel while she was there.'

Fortunately, when Buffy call Angel Investigations, it was Lorne who answered the phone. After their conversation Buffy had a good idea about what had happened when Angel's soul was restored and how she was going to get the truth from Willow. Her plan required Angel to be in Sunnydale. Lorne would have to convince Angel that Willow needed him and that he should get to Sunnydale as soon as possible. Buffy knew that with the ward on the mansion Angel would not be able to get in. She hoped he would then decide to come to her house.

Angel left L.A. for Sunnydale as soon as he got the message from Lorne that Willow was at the mansion and needed him. He didn't understand why he felt the urgency to get to Willow, but he couldn't force himself to slow down as he pushed the speedometer past 100 mph heading for Sunnydale.

When he arrived at the mansion, he couldn't enter. He didn't understand it. Had someone performed a spell to dis-invite vampires into his mansion? Who the hell would do that? He considered going to his old apartment, but the rapidly approaching dawn forced him to go to Buffy's house instead.

Buffy pretended to be surprised when Angel showed up at her door, but she offered to let him stay in her basement with Spike until Willow arrived from the mansion. He reluctantly agreed.

Mid-morning the next day all of the Sunnydale gang, the potentials, Spike and Angel were gathered in Buffy's living room and dining room; Faith was still recuperating upstairs. Buffy forced down the bile that rose in her throat when she saw Angel sitting on one side of Willow and Dawn on the other side.

Buffy stood in the doorway between the two rooms. She looked into the face of each person there; each one looked at the floor or elsewhere, no one would look her in the eye. Drawing everyone's attention to the weapon she twirled the scythe in her hand the way a majorette twirls a baton.

"Buffy, what kind of weapon is that you're holding; where did you get it?" Giles wanted to know.

"This is what Caleb and The First were hiding at the vineyard. I took it. I used it to cut Caleb in half." Buffy spoke as calmly as if she was speaking about the weather. "This is also what is going to help send The First back to hell," she continued with a smirk.

She told them about meeting the Guardian, that the scythe was powerful and that no one should approach it or her with evil intent; she didn't, however, tell them all of the specifics. As she spoke she became aware of heavy magic in the house. At first she couldn't pinpoint its source, then she looked first at Willow and then at Dawn.

When she spoke her words were soft but deadly. "If either of you ever attempts to cast another spell on me or anyone else in this house without my consent, you will sorely regret it."

The two stood facing her as Willow challenged, "And what are you going to do about it if I do? Who do you think you are? You are nobody. You'd still be in hell if it hadn't been for me. You're not the leader anymore; we chose a new leader last night. You couldn't even keep your vampire lover; Angel doesn't even want you anymore."

Buffy's eyes blazed with anger. "So that's it. You cast a spell on Angel to make him think he loved you. You bitch."

Angel looked first at Willow, then at Buffy and back again. He didn't understand why Buffy was so angry, after all they meant nothing to each other. At that Willow pulled her magic around her; her eyes became as black as onyx, her red hair became streaked with black and then all black, but most startling of all were the black veins running through her face. She started chanting and threw a fireball at Buffy.

Buffy simply pointed the scythe and the fireball dissipated.

"What the hell," exclaimed a startled Willow. She tried again and again the fireball dissipated.

Buffy spoke a few words then looked at Willow "I remove from you all magic power and ability. Never again will you be able to cast a spell or perform any act pertaining to magic whatsoever and I rescind any spell you have cast in this house since September 23rd. I also rescind the love spell that you cast on Angel."

Willow screamed as the magic was torn from her and she fell backward into the chair. "No, no, nooo," she whimpered.

"You fool, I'll kill you," Dawn yelled as she used magic to claim the scythe. "Dawn, don't touch the s..."

Before she could finish Dawn grabbed the scythe from Buffy and raised it to strike. In an instant Dawn dropped the weapon and began to shift and fade into green mist. Buffy watched horrified as the green mist that was once her sister got lighter and lighter until it disappeared into the air.

After a few moments everyone seemed to come back to himself or herself. No one remembered Dawn. In full game face Angel attacked Willow. "You sick bitch," he yelled.

It took Buffy, Giles, Xander and Spike to keep Angel from killing Willow.

Once he had calmed somewhat Angel faced Buffy and started to apologize, but she cut him off.

"There is no need for an apology. You had no way of knowing what had been done to you. You'll have to explain what happened to your friends when you get back to L.A. The spell may be lifted, but they still don't understand how it happened."

He smiled at her – a full-blown Angel smile that melted her heart. "I don't think it is possible for me to love you more than I do at this moment," he said taking her into his arms. After a few moments he released her but remained by her side; now was not the time for reunions, they had a war to win.

Faith had joined the group once she heard the commotion, but she still was not healed enough to fight; she could barely walk.

Buffy was all business when she addressed the group again. "I meant every word I said last night. Either all of you fall in line behind my leadership, or get out of my house. Now! And this time, don't come back; I won't come running to the rescue again."

"I'm sorry." "I don't know what I was thinking." "Did Willow's spells make us behave like that last night?" could be heard around the room.

Giles stood. "No offense to Faith of course, but you are our leader, Buffy; what's your plan?"

The plan was simple as she explained it to the group.

"I'm not sure if this will work. I don't know everything that the scythe can do, but first I want to try to use its power to heal Faith and the wounded potentials. Then I will use it to temporarily grant the power of the slayer to all of the potentials. We will not wait for The First to attack us again; we will take the fight to it. After the battle and you have all healed, you will no longer be slayers, but potentials again."

Giles gave his approval. "Your plan is bloody brilliant."

Even Kennedy liked the idea. "You mean I get to fight as a slayer? Cool."

"I'm with you, B; beam me up," Faith said smiling.

Buffy gave her a brief nod indicating a truce between them. They would still have to come to terms when the fight with The First was over, but right now Buffy knew that she was going to need every able body she could get.

"Of course this whole plan is contingent upon whether or not I can control the scythe. You want to go first?" she asked as she walked over to Faith.

"Yeah," came the reply.

Holding the scythe in her right hand Buffy laid her left hand on Faith's shoulder. She could feel warmth flow from the scythe, through her, to her left hand.

Faith took a sharp intake of breath and muttered "Whooaa." She stood up flexing her arms and shoulders feeling for her injuries. They were completely healed. "Damn, B, that thing is better than modern medicine."

The plan worked like a charm. When the last of the army of Turok-Han and bringers was destroyed, the Hellmouth itself opened up and reclaimed the weakened First Evil. Buffy used the power of the scythe to close the Hellmouth for good and to heal those injured in the fighting.

Everyone was in good spirits as they celebrated their victory. The AI Team decided to join them after a call from Angel. Tara had felt the surge in magical energy and called to see if everything was O.K. She declined an invitation to join them but promised Buffy she would keep in touch.

Giles had his hands full; he was in the process of acquiring funds to send the potentials to their homes and getting watchers for them to continue their training. He had enlisted the help of Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, Angel's demonology expert and Buffy and Faith's former watcher.

Angel decided to move AI to Sunnydale so he could be near Buffy. The rest of the AI team decided to move as well, although Cordelia did so reluctantly. Spike left Sunnydale; he could not stand to stay around Angel for too long.

After long talks with first Faith and then Willow, Buffy formed a sort of truce with Faith. She was not ready to forgive Faith for causing Joyce's death, but they agreed to be available to help each other fight when necessary as Faith left Sunnydale. Giles had reassigned Faith to the Hellmouth in Cleveland.

Reconciling with Willow was easier once Willow admitted to being addicted to magic and said that for the first time since she started using magic, she felt like she was herself again. She thanked Buffy for removing the magic from her. They hugged each other. They were friends again.

Angel had the mansion renovated and he and Buffy were married in a simple ceremony at sunset in the flower garden of the mansion.

Buffy and Angel still fight evil. The closing of the Hellmouth greatly reduced the demon population in Sunnydale, but it did not end it. Demons still come to try to reopen the Hellmouth or to challenge Buffy and Angel. Thanks to the scythe, none have been successful.

The end