Chapter 42: A New One
A/N: The title is a play on the last chapter title as well as the merging of Sineya and Buffy.
Warning: none that I can think of.
Challenge: #4472 'Bunny is my what?' by CindyB.
Thanks to my betas: not this time, so sorry for any mistakes I missed.
Disclaimer: BtVS/AtS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. NCIS characters belong to Donald Bellisario, Don McGill and CBS Paramount Television. Jack Ryan and his friends belong to Tom Clancy. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
Posted in honor of Katt giving me my 7500th review on TtH and requesting an update for B,B,WtD?
As they waited for Buffy to come to, Tara, Wes and Fred explained to the others what happened to them in the dreamscape.
Faith let out a loud guffaw when she heard the new origin story of the Slayer line. "Whoa! That is just freaky! Only B could go into a battle and find an ally instead. She has the best and worst luck of anyone I know," she said with a hint of teasing in her voice.
"At least it wasn't the reverse. It would suck if she had to fight an ally," Gunn remarked casually. He didn't realize it would cause three of the people in the group to flinch in shame.
Spike, Angel and Faith each recalled different times when Buffy had to face them despite their 'ally' status. Spike had been controlled by the First, and Angel had been Angelus at the time, but it still bothered them that Buffy had to go through that.
Faith didn't even have that much comfort since she had acted of her own free will when she went to the Mayor's side. Remembering that the two of them had already hashed out their issues, the brunette Slayer shook off her melancholy mood before she started brooding.
To break the mood, Tara changed the subject, "We should see how everyone else from the spell is doing. I sort of feel that they're okay, but I'd like to hear it from them as well."
Wes looked surprised by Tara's confession. "You feel them, too? I was wondering about that myself," he admitted.
"You can tell how everyone is? What about Buffy? Is she alright?" Angel demanded to know.
Tara stilled herself and concentrated for several minutes, then she shook her head. "All I can feel is a sense of being overwhelmed. I can't even say for sure who's feeling it. Heck, it could be me for all I know."
"Well, when we speak to the others, we should learn more," Wes said, sounding a bit Watcher-ish…not like his father or Travers, but the good kind, like Giles.
Using the conference call feature on her new phone, Tara called the Watchers who were with the other six groups involved in the spell. A brief conversation on speakerphone verified that everyone was okay, if a bit thrown by the experience. They all felt…something, but couldn't really explain it with words. At least not yet.
Since she knew that they all got part of Sineya, Tara had to ask them, "Is anyone able to do anything super-Slayer-ish?"
She heard everyone say 'no' over the phone line, but one of the other witches added, "Right now I think we're all too wiped to even try anything Slayer-ish. Even the Slayers are too tired." There was a mumbled conversation, then the witch murmured, "Huh, apparently I have some funky markings on my body, though."
The other witches were checked by their teammates and confirmed they had markings as well. But none of the Slayers did. Tara looked at the priestess tattoos Sineya gave her in the dreamscape and described them for everyone. When they all agreed that their markings were very similar, she realized that Sineya made all the witches in the spell her new priestesses.
The markings worried Angel a lot, and he voiced his concerns aloud, "Are we sure this Sineya is who she says she is? Maybe she's evil? After all, she was trapped in the Deeper Well for a reason."
Faith shook her head at the idea, "No…if she's evil, then all the Slayers are, too. I can feel the connection to her through my powers."
"But maybe she's manipulating you somehow; making you think she's responsible for the Slayer line," he insisted.
Tara stared at the ensouled vampire with an intensity that made him squirm a bit. "Why do you sound like you want to believe the worst about this?"
"Sineya let them save my life," Fred reminded everyone. "Can't this be a good thing?" she pleaded.
Angel sighed. It wasn't that he wanted to believe they were infected with an evil creature; it's just that their history with powerful beings made him wary. "The idea of a benevolent goddess-type helping us? It just reminds me too much of Jasmine."
Wes understood Angel's concerns, but having gone through the Jasmine situation himself, he knew this was entirely a different story. That's why he felt he was able to razz his boss a little, "Well, if we start telling people to worship us, feel free to say 'I told you so' to us."
Scowling at the former Watcher, Angel crossed his arms and said a touch petulantly, "I'll just feel better when Buffy wakes up and we can be sure she's herself." When he glanced over at her, his former love was still changing faces at a rapid pace.
In the dreamscape
As her outward appearance changed from Slayer to Slayer, Buffy was given the opportunity to glance into their lives – from the moment they were Called to the moment of their death; the exception being Faith because she hadn't died yet.
Sineya's voice was heavy with grief when she spoke, "Each death haunted me in my prison. But then I saw their reward on the other side and I rejoiced for them. Your second return that hurt worse than all the deaths combined because I knew what it was condemning you to again."
"I wasn't real thrilled about it at first either," Buffy retorted sharply, upset at the reminder of being in heaven. Then calming down a bit, she sighed and added, "But even if the first couple years back were tough, now I'm in a place where I'm happy to be alive again."
"Because of your father," Sineya guessed. The last several months witnessing Buffy's life were more hopeful in nature.
Buffy nodded, "Yeah, but not just him. All my family, both by blood and by friendship, have helped me heal in a way that I didn't think was possible those first days back. Knowing that we changed the world – without forcing any girls to fight who didn't want to – gives me hope. I never want them to feel the loneliness that the rest of us 'Chosen Ones' felt."
"They won't," Sineya declared confidently. "You have made sure of that."
"So what's the deal with me feeling everyone? Is this normal? Will we start reading each other's minds?" Buffy asked, horrified at the thought. Her brief stint as a mind reader in high school still caused the occasional nightmare.
Shrugging, Sineya answered, "If it is an extension of what I had in my prison, you will only get snippets of each other's lives…and only from this point on. I never knew my daughters before they received my essence through the Calling. Even the ones that became my daughters several months ago, I haven't felt them. I just know that they have some of my essence within them. Mostly it is just the powerful emotions that get through. As we grow stronger together, we'll be able to block it if you desire it; to be honest, while I was imprisoned, I craved the contact so I never blocked it before."
"Then how are you sure we can?" Buffy inquired.
"Because this bond was the same as the one I shared with my priestesses," Sineya replied simply. It made sense to her that what was true for that bond would be the same for this one.
Buffy nodded her acceptance, then asked another question, "What about your powers? How will those work?"
Sineya sighed, not because she was annoyed, but because she wasn't sure of the answer. "You know that when you called on my spirit to face the abomination a few years back, you got a taste of my powers, right?"
"Uh huh," Buffy answered warily. "I also remember the First Slayer trying to kill my friends and me in our sleep afterwards."
It was a little funny to see a 'goddess' blush in shame. "I was angry that you used men in the spell – especially one of those men," she admitted, reminding Buffy of her disdain for Watchers.
Buffy shrugged. "Can't say I blame you much. Most of them are complete jerks – even the women aren't that great. Well, the ones I met, anyway," she corrected herself. She had the impression that Faith thought Diana Dormer was okay.
Deciding to get back to the earlier question, Sineya said, "I thought I could try to affect which powers went to which people involved in the spell this time. The more mystical aspects of my essence I tried to channel into the priestesses; the physical ones went to my daughters. The two focal people I tried to leave alone as much as possible. By the time it got to you, I was so tired that I couldn't control the flow anymore."
Buffy thought about what Sineya was saying and tried to interpret it in her mind. "I know 'daughters' mean the other Slayers; I'm guessing 'priestesses' mean the witches involved; and I get that Fred is one of the focal people, but who's the other?"
"The man who came with you," Sineya replied. "He cared enough about the woman you call 'Fred' to face death, so I thought he should share the gifts she received. That way she has somebody who cares about her who will truly understand what she's going through."
"Thank you on their behalf," Buffy remarked with tears in her eyes. She truly hoped that they would have a happier ending than any of her romantic attempts.
Sineya just bowed her head in response. "Thank you for showing me that some of them could be trusted. Now it is time for you to wake up and reassure your friends."
Many hours later after the spell in real time…
After Buffy hit the two hour mark without waking up, Gibbs informed Oz that he, Jackson and Jordy were flying out to LA. Oz nodded stoically; the man lasted longer than he expected him to, and honestly, he'd like to have his family nearby while they waited.
Even though it was starting to get dark, they didn't want to move Buffy in case it caused problems for her. They decided it was better just to protect her where she was.
When Gibbs and Jackson saw Buffy changing into different girls, they started to freak out until Oz explained what they thought was going on within the dreamscape. Jackson looked sad and murmured, "So many girls." It didn't seem right that countless girls had to sacrifice their lives like that to keep the world safe.
At the eight hour mark, Jordy fell asleep in one of the SUVs, but only after Oz promised to wake him when Buffy woke up. The others found their own ways to wait.
Faith was sparring with Angel and Spike; Fred and Wes were making googly-eyes at each other; Gunn went back to the office to find out how the sarcophagus got to Wolfram & Hart in the first place; Lorne was playing errand boy for anyone that needed something; Tara was talking almost constantly on the phone to various people in the Council; Jackson and Gibbs were whittling stakes for Buffy.
It was just past the 12th hour that they noticed a change. Tara gasped when she saw the face of the First Slayer. After the enjoining spell, the gang described the primal girl so it was easy for Tara to recognize her. That face lasted longer than the others for some reason. Instead of the five seconds that the others each took, the First Slayer stayed for over two minutes.
Then to everyone's shock, she opened her eyes and said, "Take care of my Daughter."
Buffy's face finally appeared again and she blinked in confusion. "Hey, guys…when did it get so dark?" she asked before she was buried in hugs from just about everyone.
Needless to say, she was shocked at learning how long she was in the dreamscape. Her bladder let her know that they weren't kidding, however. Once she finished taking care of nature, she came back and used half a bottle of Purell hand sanitizer – could she just say how much she hated no bathrooms? – then told everyone about her conversation with Sineya.
Wes looked humbled at the thought he was considered worthy of receiving part of the Mother of Slayers (a term that the Council had decided on in the past twelve hours) so he could be a better partner to Fred. He would try to never prove her wrong in her trust of him.
Around the world
It took weeks to realize what Sineya meant by the different aspects of her essence.
All the people involved in the spell could speak any language that a past Slayer spoke, plus Sineya's language. The Slayers involved suddenly could fight as well as Buffy and Faith, even if they hadn't been that great at it before. The witches could create shields out of thin air and transmute small items. If enough of the witches worked together, they could manipulate time in the space around them.
As for Buffy, Fred and Wes…they received the ability to change their appearance slightly. They had purple highlights in their hair and skin and silver body armor which was seemingly impervious to weapons. They didn't want to test the extent of that protection, though.
If there were any other improvements, they had yet to discover them.
A/N: Next…They head back to DC. I need to figure out if they have a slow chapter to recover from everything or if I should jump to the next big plot twist.