This is somewhat of a sequel to "The Way Season Five Should Have Ended".
The Fear of Revenge
A storm raged outside. The rehabilitation center was always dark in general, but along with the storm came a power outage that had thrust all the cells into total darkness. Several of the inhabitants had requested candles in order to see what little there was in their rooms, or else because a few of them were still afraid of the dark. In one of the cells, the inhabitant had placed his candles in a circle, surrounding symbols that seemed to be made of red paint on the floor. The man sitting on the bed, cast in shadow due to the focus of the candles being on the symbols below him, raised his arms over the shapes, causing more of his blood to drip onto the center of the circle. A window appeared inside the circle, providing a sort of view port to see how the effects of his soon to be cast spell would take effect. With his bleeding forearms still over the circle, the man began to chant in some unknown language and the candles became joined together by strings of magical energy bolts. His door's window was closed: He didn't want any of the guards outside to notice the bright flashes of light now emanating within the room. As part of his 'rehabilitation', he had been unable to perform any magic in his cell for a long time, having nothing to channel it with. But now, thanks to the storm and power outage, he had a small window of opportunity to finally get his revenge on the Slayer who, thanks to her interference, was responsible for putting him here.
Rupert Giles stood in the center of Buffy's living room, putting on his heavy jacket. Xander Harris and Willow Rosenberg sat on the couch. Spike stood next to them with his arms folded, while Andrew Wells hovered anxiously in the hallway.
AW: (To Giles) But why can't I come?
RG: (Sighing) Because this isn't a vacation. I have to pick up a newly located potential slayer in Japan.
AW: But I've always wanted to see Japan! It's where Godzilla was born!
XH: You do know that was a movie, right?
AW: (Defensively) Well, yeah. What I meant was, he was created there! He was filmed there!
RG: Regardless, you are not coming.
AW: That's not fair! There's nothing to do here!
RG: You are here for protection. If you'd rather leave and fend for yourself against Bringers and anything else The First may send after you, nobody will stop you.
Andrew blinked a few times, comprehending what Giles had said.
WR: When do you think you'll be back?
RG: Hard to say: A few days, maybe?
XH: What are we supposed to do without you? We'll be disorganized and confused.
RG: I don't understand why you're so concerned. You managed last year without me.
S: (Sarcastically) Yeah, and look how splendidly that turned out.
RG: Alright, bad example.
At that moment, Buffy came downstairs with Anya behind her.
BS: Okay, Dawn and the potentials are in bed. Going somewhere, Giles?
RG: Oh, Buffy, yes. Um, I've been alerted that there is another potential slayer in Japan. I'm going to go collect her.
AJ: More? What help are more girls packing themselves in here going to do?
RG: We have to protect them from The First. You know that.
AJ: But maybe that is The First's plan: Crush us to death with the amount of girls in the house, or have them all annoy us to death. Ever think of that?
AJ: (Shrugging) What? I was kidding! Mostly.
RG: Well, fun as this discussion sounds, I must be off.
BS: Get back soon. I don't like anyone off on their own at times like this.
RG: I'll be careful. See you all soon.
But as Giles opened the front door to leave, he heard Willow cry out in shock. Looking back, he saw that Willow had stood up and her legs were disappearing. Xander jumped off the couch.
Xander looked over at Buffy and Spike, and saw that they, too, were disappearing.
S: (Looking down at himself) Bloody hell!
BS: Giles! What's happening?
RG: I . . . I don't . . .
Before Giles could form a statement, all three of them had vanished.
For a while, Giles, Xander, Anya, and Andrew stared at where they had been standing.
AW: (Awed) Cool!
XH: What happened to them? Where'd they go?
RG: I don't know. It seems as though they've just . . . vanished.
AW: (Excitedly) Maybe they were beamed up or teleported somewhere.
XH: (Irritated) Beamed up? This isn't Star Trek!
AW: Teleportation is possible, though. Right, Mr. Giles?
RG: (Cleaning his glasses) Well, I wouldn't rule it out.
XH: But why was it only them who vanished? Why are we all still here?
AJ: Obvious, isn't it? Buffy's a slayer, Willow's a witch, and Spike's a vampire. Now, look at who was left behind: A powerless ex-demon, two big nerds and a former librarian. See the difference?
AW: (Excitedly) Oh! Only the ones with super powers got teleported! The weaker ones were left behind!
XH: Weak? Come on! Just because I'm human doesn't mean that I'm weak!
AJ: Really? What have you done that compares to them? Buffy has saved the world multiple times, died twice and came back both times, Willow and Spike have tried to both destroy the world and help save it on separate occasions, whereas the biggest thing you've done was calm down Evil Willow on the bluff, and all you did there was talk.
XH: Thank you. That was exactly what I needed.
RG: This bickering is pointless! We need to find out what happened to them and bring them all back.
RG: I have some volumes about teleportation and summoning spells here. Help me research.
Andrew, Anya, and Xander all sighed in unison.
In the lobby of the Hyperion Hotel, Winifred Burkle and Lorne sat at the front desk, looking through old volumes. Charles Gunn and Wesley Wyndam-Pryce stood at opposite ends of the room. Gunn was swinging his favorite axe around experimentally, while Wesley sat in one of the chairs that encircled the room, searching through one of his books. Every so often, they shot a glare at each other while the other wasn't looking. Fred looked up at the ceiling in concern.
FB: Angel's been up there an awfully long time.
CG: He's probably just brooding, for a change.
FB: Something seemed very wrong with him earlier. I mean, when he saw Cordelia-
CG: We've got more important things to worry about now than Angel's attitude.
FB: I know: Connor, The Beast, Wolfram and Hart, Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Lorne leaned over and patted Fred on the shoulder reassuringly.
L: Don't worry about it, sweetcheeks. Everything will be flowers and cherry pie soon. You know our Angel: He'll bounce right back into action when he needs too.
Fred raised one eyebrow at him.
FB: Cherry pie?
L: Well, yeah. Who doesn't love cherry pie?
FB: I still think someone should check on Angel, you know, make sure he's alright.
At that moment, Angel came downstairs. He ignored them all and went to the mini fridge in his office.
L: Hey! Look who's up and shining!
Angel glowered at him.
L: Well, okay, maybe not shining, but-
A: I just came down for some blood.
FB: (Approaching him slowly) Angel? Are you . . . alright?
A: I'm fine.
FB: Are you sure? You're very-
A: I said I'm fine Fred! Leave it alone.
CG: What's your problem, man?
Angel slammed the fridge door shut, causing it to bounce back open again anyway.
A: It's none of your business.
L: Calm down, Angelcakes! If you're mad, don't take it out on us.
A: Fine. I won't.
He turned and headed back up the stairs.
FB: Angel, please!
Angel stopped abruptly and turned to face them again.
A: Look, I just don't want to talk about it, alright?
Wesley put down his book and approached him.
WW: You're acting rashly, Angel. You need to pull yourself together.
A: Thanks for the advice.
Then, suddenly, Angel vanished. Gunn jumped backward.
CG: What the-?
Then he vanished as well, followed by Wesley. Lorne and Fred stared open mouthed at where they had been standing.
L: What in the name of Pylea just happened?
FB: I . . . I don't know. I think they just poofed away.
Lorne got up off his chair and looked at Fred.
L: Well, Brain Girl, looks like it's up to the two of us to save the day. What first?
Willow looked around in confusion. She had reappeared in what looked like an empty white void. Strangely, her surroundings seemed to be constructing themselves before her eyes, and before she knew it, she was standing in the Magic Box, broken down and wrecked, but not boarded up. In fact, it looked exactly as it did when she had wrecked it last year while she had been . . .
She was no longer alone. Someone else was now standing in front of her: Herself; Her black eyed, black haired and veined self.
WR: Oh, okay. If this is some kind of joke, it isn't that funny.
Her dark self approached her slowly and deliberately.
WR: (Backing away) Whoa! Hold on a second! What is this place? Why am I looking at my evil self?
DW: It's your fear. You tell me.
WR: My fear? Oh! Is this a dimension of fears? Am I trapped in a 10 year olds nightmare world again?
In response, Dark Willow sent a burst of purple lighting at her. It sent her flying backward into the front desk of the imaginary shop.
DW: Do you have to talk so much?
Willow rubbed her elbow, which had been bruised by the desk, and stood to face her double again.
WR: Well, would you rather I do this?
She raised her hand and a burst of blue lightning shot out and hit Dark Willow, causing her to fly into a display of ancient vases. Willow looked down at her hands in shock.
WR: Wow. I've never done that before! I think my powers must be amplified here, for some reason.
Dark Willow floated up into the air and hovered in front of her.
WR: So, do I have to, like, fight you to get out of here?
DW: It's a bit more complicated than that. You can't escape, even if you do defeat me.
WR: (Slightly nervously) Okay . . . then what happens if I lose?
DW: You die.
WR: Oh. Well, I don't want that.
Willow sent another burst of power at Dark Willow, but she blocked it effortlessly.
DW: Bored now.
WR: Will being killed entertain you?
DW: You can't defeat yourself.
WR: Hey, this isn't the first time I've had to go up against an evil twin!
At the same moment, both Willows sent bursts of power at each other. The purple and blue lightning met in middle and struggled against each other, trying to break through to their targets. Willow clenched her teeth and fought to maintain control of her spell, while Dark Willow amplified the strength of her spell. Willow could feel the power from her opponent growing more and more. Just a little longer . . . Then there was a massive explosion of power and Willow was thrown back onto the floor. She stood up gingerly as the smoke cleared, ready to engage again, but there was no need. Her opponent was lying on the ground, her eyes and hands smoldering. Willow looked down on her in defiance.
WR: Well, if Giles taught me anything, it's that overloading your power supply will burn you out and kill you. Guess you didn't learn that lesson, huh?
Her dark self faded out of existence. Willow looked around the deserted shop, waiting for something else to happen.
WR: Come on! I defeated my fear! Let me go home!
As though in response, she vanished.
Spike's surroundings eventually formed into a large, sterile room, which he recognized as the Initiative.
S: Oh, brilliant.
Another shape also began to materialize in front of him, eventually becoming the grotesque form of Adam. Spike swore and raised his arms in exaggeration.
S: Oh, come on! This guy again? Doesn't anyone who dies in this sodding world actually stay dead?
A: Hostile seven-
S: Look, I'm really not in the mood for 'Technological', 'Bio-mechanical', 'Hostile-bloody-seventeen' or any other fancy words you've got for me. What is going on? Why are you here?
A: It was not my personal decision to be here. Your consciousness summoned me.
S: Yeah, right. Why would I summon you? I've dealt with you enough already.
A: Your overconfidence is your weakness.
S: Funny. I was gonna say the same thing about you.
Spike lunged at Adam, aiming a kick at him, but Adam simply grabbed Spike's leg and threw him across the room. He landed hard against the wall. Okay, plan a better move next time, genius. He got back to his feet as Adam approached him, exposing the skewer within his left arm. Spike looked around for some kind of weapon that could be lying around. There wasn't one. Too bad: If there were EMP grenades around, I'd be all set. The skewer came down on him. Spike dodged it and kicked Adam in the chest. Adam barely recoiled. Spike rolled under through Adam's legs and came up behind him. But Adam had already turned to meet him again. Then Spike grabbed Adam's skewer arm with one hand, his right arm with his other hand, and then kicked his chin, causing his head to jerk backwards. Gaining the opportunity, Spike released Adam's left arm while he was still flailing, trying to catch his balance, shoved his fist through Adam's chest and wrenched out his uranium power core. Adam fell backward like a toppled statue as Spike dropped the power core onto the ground and crushed it beneath his foot.
S: (Pointing down at Adam's body) Now, stay dead!
Adam's body dissolved and faded away. Spike looked around expectantly, waiting for something to happen. Then it did, and he vanished.
Buffy surroundings formed into a dark room filled with torches. After her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she recognized, with a hint of dread, The Master's old underground lair where she had first faced him. She tensed herself, having a funny feeling about what, or rather who, she would find here. Sure enough, seconds later, The Master himself materialized in front of her.
M: Well, well. We meet again, Slayer.
BS: You're not really here. This is some kind of imaginary dream world or something, isn't it?
The Master began pace around the room, shaking his head in amusement.
M: You still don't understand, do you? I am here because you fear it. Because you fear me, I exist.
BS: (Defiantly) I am not afraid of you.
M: Perhaps. But the memory of me scares you. You can't deny that.
BS: Wait a second. If you're my fear, then you aren't real.
M: (Taken aback) What?
BS: You're not really back. You're just a manifestation of one of my fears. Not that you can count as a fear anyway. I killed you less than two minutes after I came back.
M: True, but if you remember, I killed you just as quickly first.
BS: Fine. Then this will be the tie-breaker.
M: Fine with me.
Quick as a flash, The Master lunged at her. Buffy, however, was quicker and dodged him easily.
BS: What's the matter? Getting slower in your old age? Aren't you only like 900 or something?
The Master snarled in anger and rushed her again, knocking her down.
M: You should show more respect.
BS: Please. You got killed by a sixteen year old girl! Granted, I was and still am the Slayer, but seriously.
She got back up as The Master charged. She dodged him and grabbed a bracket of candles next to his throne and whacked him on the side of the head with it. He staggered and growled angrily. She swung it again, but The Master grabbed it and they struggled for it. Finally, Buffy released it, causing The Master to fall backward into the small pool of water that he had drowned her in six years earlier. He yelled something at her, but his head was submerged and all that came out was a bubbling, snorting sound.
BS: See how you like it!
The Master pulled himself out of the water, raised the candle bracket (The candles had been extinguished by the water) and swung it at her. She swerved aside so that it missed her by several feet, then kicked it right out of his hands. He reached forward and held out his hand. Oh, crap. She became instantly immobilized. The Master grinned at her and gestured.
M: Come to me.
Buffy tried to stand her ground, but The Master's hypnotism seemed to be more powerful than before, and she unwillingly obeyed him. Though her body was immobilized, for some reason, her head and face weren't. Maybe he wants to watch my expression, knowing I can't do anything. Bastard. She glared at him.
BS: This isn't fair, you know.
M: I prefer to think of it as going with my strengths.
He stretched out his hand to wrap it around Buffy's neck, but then she head-butted him, breaking the spell. The Master staggered and hissed.
M: You can't do that!
Buffy smiled pleasantly, taking out a stake from her jacket.
BS: I'd like to think of it as going with my strengths. Shouldn't have left my head un-hypnotized, should you?
Looking at the stake, The Master laughed.
M: You stupid girl. I can't be killed by a common stake!
BS: I know.
Buffy walked over to his throne and snapped off one of the legs.
M: Wait . . . what are you . . . ? Noooo-!
His scream of panic was cut short abruptly by Buffy thrusting the wooden leg of the throne into his heart. The Master collapsed into a pile of dust and bones at Buffy's feet.
BS: What kind of vampire has a throne made of wood? Moron.
She dropped the throne leg on top of The Master's skull, which crushed underneath it. Then the remains vanished. Buffy looked around in anticipation for something else to turn up.
BS: Come on! Who's next? Glory? Luke? The Judge?
Then two other people did appear: Willow and Spike.
BS: Hey guys! Do you know what's going on?
WR: What happened to you?
BS: I just had to kill The Master.
WR: You too?
BS: You fought him too?
S: No. I got Adam. Again.
BS: What do you mean, yourself?
WR: My dark self. You know, last year?
BS: Oh. But why?
Giles, Xander, Anya, and Andrew sat at the kitchen table, looking through a huge pile of books. Giles rubbed his eyes wearily.
RG: Well, I'm going to have to cancel my plane ticket. This could take a while.
XH: This is worthless, G-Man. I don't think there's anything in here that can help us find them.
RG: Don't give up, and don't call me that again.
AJ: (Vaguely) Why are we worrying?
XH: Compassion for others, remember?
AJ: No, I mean, they can find their own way back, can't they? They're all power wielding individuals. What are we going to do? Remember what I said earlier? We're the weak ones.
XH: (Sarcastically) You'd make a great motivational speaker, you know.
AJ: Really? I never considered that before. Can I make money doing that?
RG: Anya, please.
AJ: What? It was Xander's idea.
XH: And I'm regretting it already.
AW: (Annoyed) This is like my tenth book. How many are left?
RG: There's not that many here.
AW: There isn't? We've been through, like, twenty books so far!
XH: You think this is bad? You should have seen us back in the good old days in the library. This right here isn't even a quarter of the books we had back then.
AW: (Not listening) Can I be excused? I'm hungry.
RG: (Sighing) Yes, by all means, go.
AW: Thank you!
Andrew jumped to his feet and opened the freezer door. Giles sighed and leaned over to whisper to Xander.
RG: I don't see him being much help at research anyway.
As Xander sighed and opened another book, Andrew turned from the freezer, looking anguished.
AW: What happened to the Hot Pockets?
Fred and Lorne came out of Angel's office with armfuls of more books, which they lowered carefully on top of the ones they had already looked through.
FB: Careful with these. Wesley wouldn't like it if any of his books got damaged.
L: Oh, I know, princess. These are probably the closest things to prized possessions that Wes owns. Though, lately he hasn't been much of a book person. Now he's more of a Rambo-ish person.
FB: I know. He's changed so much since last year.
L: But in a good way. Well, physically, anyway.
Fred giggled a little.
L: What? You don't think he's better looking now?
FB: No, I do. A lot. It's just . . .
L: You're worried that if you show signs of interest in Wes, he'll think you're interested in him and that Gunn might think that you want to leave him for Wes?
FB: Yeah, kinda. I just want to be friends with Wesley. But with him and Charles always at each other . . . I don't want to give off the wrong impression.
L: Hey, don't worry. You don't have to stop seeing Gunn to be appreciative of Wesley. They both love you. That's obvious.
FB: But that's the problem! I can tell that Wesley has feelings for me, but I don't know if I can even talk to him without making Charles feel jealous.
L: Have you told them how you feel?
FB: Well, sort of. I keep telling Charles that there is nothing going on between me and Wesley, but he just doesn't believe it. I think he thinks I'm interested in Wesley because we have more in common.
L: Well, what's wrong with that? You have someone you love as a friend that you get along great with, and you have someone you love romantically who makes you happy. Plus you've got me, Angel, Cordy, and your parents who love you too. Not many people are that lucky. It'll work out.
Fred smiled appreciatively and tears swelled in her eyes.
FB: Thank you, Lorne.
L: No problem, sweetie.
Angel suddenly found himself inside his old mansion in Sunnydale. The Statue of the demon Acathla stood In front of him. Then someone else materialized in front of Acathla. For a moment, he thought he was facing a mirror. Then he realized he was looking at double of himself.
AS: Glad you could make it, soul boy.
A: (Getting it) Oh. This can't be good.
Angelus turned to Acathla and wrenched a sword that hadn't been there before out of the demon's chest. This was staring to look horribly familiar to Angel.
A: What's happening here? Where am I?
AS: Obvious, isn't it?
A: Do I have to fight . . . myself?
AS: You and I both know that we are not the same person.
A: Good, then killing you shouldn't affect me.
Angel saw another sword lying at Acathla's feet. He faked a swerve to his right. Angelus moved to meet him, but Angel ducked back to his left and swept the sword off the floor.
AS: Aw, man. Now this is gonna be a fair fight. And I hate fair fights.
They swung at each other simultaneously. Their blades crossed with a loud clang.
AS: Seen that slayer lately? I'm sure she'd love to see me again.
A: You're never going near Buffy again. I'll make sure of that. Besides, even if you did, she'd just send you back to hell again anyway.
Angelus broke his sword away from Angel's and waved a finger at him.
AS: Ah, but remember, it was you who got sent to hell, not me. I did appreciate the irony of that: I cause pain and havoc in Sunnydale and you pay for it. That must have just killed her.
Angel swung hi s word at Angelus to stop him from talking. Seriously, Spike was right: all the guy does is talk. Angelus drew his sword back and stabbed at Angel's chest. Angel blocked the strike, then swung his sword around Angelus' and aimed a kick at his leg. Angelus kicked out at the blade before Angel could complete its swing and his sword went flying out of his hand. Angelus raised his sword and leapt into the air for a killing blow, but Angel ducked under his airborne dive and snatched his sword back up again, then twisted around and slashed at Angelus while he was still flying toward him. Angelus' body exploded into ashes, while his head flew over Angel and then also exploded to ash upon impact with the stone floor. Angel dropped his sword and stood up.
A: Man. That was disturbing. I hope I don't ever have to fight him again.
As soon as he dropped his sword, he disappeared.
Wesley and Gunn's Void
Wesley and Gunn found themselves in what looked like the backroom of a theater.
CG: What the heck just happened? Where are we?
Looking around, Wesley knew automatically where they were.
WW: This is the theater we went to last year: The ballet. When Fred-
At that moment, Angel appeared next to them.
A: Wes? What's going on here? I just had to kill myself.
WW: You mean Angelus? Strange: Gunn and I arrived together. Wait a minute . . .
WW: Well, it's obvious that we are in another dimension, but not one that really exists.
CG: What are you talking about, English?
WW: I believe that this dimension was created.
A: What? How?
The Master's Lair
WR: Well, magic, obviously. Whoever trapped us here had to be pretty powerful to be able to create their own dimension.
S: Okay, that's great and all, but why did I have to face that wanker Adam again?
WR: While fighting my dark self, she told me that she represented one of my fears: Of turning dark. So, therefore, I was facing my fear in physical form. I think that when we arrived here, the dimension automatically created a version of one of our fears, along with a location that it was linked to. You faced Adam, Spike, because he tricked you into betraying us and lied to you about removing your chip if you helped him.
S: But I was evil at the time! I was desperate! And I'm not afraid of the guy. I just really don't like him. And he's gross. Usually, when I think of Big Bads, I tend to think of him for some reason.
WR: There you go. If it wasn't a fear, it was the most prominent villain on our minds that manifested. (To Buffy) The Master caused your first death, Buffy. Obviously that had a lasting effect on you.
BS: Yeah but, like Spike said, I'm not afraid of The Master. I've kicked his ass twice now.
WR: Yes, but the memory of what he had done to you was the fear, not The Master himself. He just represented the physical form of that memory.
WW: Angelus obviously represented your fear of losing your soul, Angel. The mansion and Acathla represented the last time Angelus was free, when he tried to suck Sunnydale into a hell dimension.
A: Yeah, I get that, but what about you and Gunn? Why did you turn up together and not get a fear opponent like I did?
CG: Maybe because I ain't got no fears.
WW: As much as you'd like to think so, Charles, everybody has fears.
CG: Then why did we get left out?
WW: I don't believe we did. Remember when I said that when we were transported here, the dimension took the first fear or most prominent villain from our minds and pitted us against them?
CG: Yeah . . . ?
WW: Well, Angel thought of Angelus. But you and I thought of . . . well . . . each other.
CG: What? Why?
WW: Our feelings for Fred. Apparently, I represent your fear that I will steal Fred away from you, while you represent to me the fear of having stolen Fred away from me. In that sense, we may have also considered ourselves to be our own worst enemies as well.
CG: Hold it right there! I didn't steal Fred from anybody! She chose me.
WW: Exactly. Why do you think we ended up here in the backroom of the theater? This was the place where your relationship with Fred began. It is also the place where I discovered that I couldn't be with her.
CG: So, let me see if I got this right: You thought of me because you think I stole Fred from you, and I thought of you because you think that I think that you'll steal Fred away from me?
CG: That's insane! You couldn't steal Fred from me, even if you tried!
A: Can we continue this later? We have to get out of here first.
CG: Fine, how do we get out of here then?
WW: I have a theory. I may be completely wrong, but nevertheless: I believe that in this dimension, nothing truly exists. I believe that the intent of the creator of this universe was to either have our fears or enemies destroy us, or we would be trapped here forever, because even after defeating our foes, there is still no technical escape. But Gunn and I created a loophole.
WW: By thinking of ourselves as enemies. The original intent was for all three of us to get an opponent created by the dimension. Then even if we killed all three of our opponents, what would happen? We wouldn't have been summoned to each other, for one thing. But since Gunn and I thought of each other and not someone or something the dimension would have to create, it created a paradox and allowed us to regroup.
A: That's fine. But what does us regrouping have to do with us getting out?
WW: Only we can free ourselves. Separately, we couldn't have done it.
A: So what do we have to do?
WW: We have to kill each other.
There was a long, shocked pause.
CG: Have you finally cracked from all that reading?
WW: No, you don't understand. We are not part of this universe. We are not linked to it. If we died from an inhabitant of this dimension, we would stay dead. But if we are killed by someone from our own dimension, then we would die here, but then be released back into the real world.
A: How did you figure that out?
WW: It's just a theory, but I am confident that it is accurate.
CG: So . . . we have to kill each other?
WW: Yes. By having one inhabitant from another universe kill another inhabitant from the same universe, they will free them from this universe and create a pathway for them back to their rightful place.
CG: Just to be clear, when I get 'killed' am I gonna feel like I died?
WW: I don't believe so.
Gunn approached Wesley, raising his axe.
CG: Well, since you seem so confident in your theory, let me try you first.
WW: I don't think so.
Wesley took out a small pistol he had been carrying and shot Gunn in the chest. Gunn looked down at the wound in shock, then up at Wesley, looking pissed.
CG: You son of a-
Then he vanished.
WW: I guess that means it worked.
A: (Shocked) I can't believe you just did that. (Angrily) You could have killed him!
WW: I had to take the risk. (He holds out his pistol to Angel) Now me.
A: (Taking the gun uncertainly) How do I get back if I kill you?
WW: You'll have to kill yourself. (He extends his arms out, giving Angel a clear shot) Do it.
A: I don't like this.
WW: Neither do I, but we have to do it to escape.
Angel aimed the gun and fired. Wesley grunted as the bullet hit him and he vanished as well.
A: Now me, I guess.
But as he turned the gun on himself, he remembered that he is a vampire and shooting himself won't kill him. Why couldn't Gunn have left his axe behind? But before he could think of another way to kill himself, he vanished again.
There was a flash of light near the front door of the hotel. Lorne and Fred jumped to their feet as Gunn materialized.
CG: -bitch! What the . . . ? Hey, it worked.
Fred rushed over and embraced him. Lorne hung back, enjoying the moment. Then Fred released Gunn and looked up at him.
FB: What happened?
CG: Oh, apart from being shot by Wesley, nothing much.
FB: What? You were shot? (She looks him up and down) I don't see any injuries.
L: Wesley shot you?
CG: Yeah. But it got me out of there.
FB&L: Out of where?
Wesley appeared next to them.
CG: Let Mr. Shot-Me-in-the-Gut explain.
FB: Wesley? Did you really shoot Charles?
WW: Yes. And Angel shot me.
L: Um, alright. Now I'm even more confused.
WW: It was the only way out. We were summoned to a dimension where our fears manifested and tried to kill us. The only way out was to be killed by someone not from that dimension. So, I shot Gunn, and Angel shot me and himself. He should be back soon.
FB: Um, Wes? I'm sorry, but . . . Angel's a vampire. He can't be killed by getting shot.
Wesley looked blank, then slightly embarrassed. Gunn looked delighted.
CG: Whoa-ho! Mr. Brainiac just got topped! Good one, Fred!
WW: (Ignoring Gunn) I'm sure Angel will find another way to return.
The Master's Lair
BS: So, we have to kill each other?
WR: Yep. That's the only way to get out of here, I think.
S: You're sure of this theory, are you?
WR: It's the only conclusion I can come up with.
S: So, if we die here, we won't be dead in our world?
WR: Not if we are killed by one of us, no.
There was a flash of light next to them and Angel appeared.
S: What the-?
Angel and Buffy stared at each other.
A: Are you real?
BS: Are you real?
A: Of course I am! What are you-?
Before Angel could finish, a stake protruded from his chest and he exploded into ashes, revealing Spike standing behind him, holding the stake.
S: That takes care of him. (Buffy stared at him in shock) What? He wasn't real anyway. Right?
Then Willow came forward and plunged a stake of her own into Spike. He looked down at the stake, then up at Willow.
S: Bloody hell, Red!
Then he exploded as well. Willow saw Buffy looking horrified.
BS: Are you . . . sure it wasn't really Angel?
WR: I'm sure. But he was killed by Spike, so even if he was the real Angel, he would have been sent back like Spike was.
BS: I just . . . don't like seeing my friends dying, or even worse, seeing my friends killing each other.
WR: I know. But it's almost over.
BS: Now what?
WR: Well, now we have to kill each other.
WR: I told you, it's the only way. You'll send me back and I'll send you back. We'll all be out of here.
Buffy reluctantly took the dagger Willow handed her. They faced each other.
Buffy nodded. Closing their eyes, they stabbed each other simultaneously. Then they vanished too.
Angel reappeared inside the Hyperion Hotel to find Wesley, Gunn, Lorne and Fred sitting in the lobby.
L: Angelcakes! You're back!
CG: How did you manage to kill yourself?
A: (Not wanting to mention Spike) Long story.
A: (Irritated) I cut my head off, alright?
L: Can't you imagine telling your kids about this story?
FB: So, somebody summoned Angel, Charles and Wesley to a dimension of fears? Why?
CG: I don't know . . . maybe to kill us?
FB: Or trying to cripple the side of good?
WW: It makes sense: Angel, a vampire, and Gunn and I, experienced demon fighters, got trapped, while Lorne and Fred, the less powerful beings, were left behind.
L: But I'm a demon and I wasn't summoned there. What's with that?
WW: Yes, but you're not a very good fighter, Lorne. I don't think you qualified.
FB: What about Cordelia and Connor? They're part demon apiece.
WW: I don't know. Connor and Cordelia are certainly good fighters. Angel, what do you-?
Turning around, he saw that Angel had already gone back upstairs.
CG: What is wrong with him?
Lorne frowned, then headed upstairs after Angel.
Giles, Xander, and Anya sat on Buffy's couch, looking defeated. Nothing in any of the books Giles had had gave them any ideas on how to find where Buffy and the other had gone. Then Spike reappeared in front of them.
The three of them got up as Spike took in his surroundings, looking glad to find himself back home.
S: That was ridiculous! I'm glad to be outta that place!
RG: Where were you? Where's Buffy and Willow?
S: Probably right behind me. According to Willow, we were in a dimension where our fears manifested.
RG: Fears? Interesting. How did you get out?
At that moment, both Buffy and Willow appeared next to them.
XH: Buffy! Will!
Xander hurried over and hugged his two best friends. Giles hugged them after Xander had moved away.
RG: God, we were worried about you both.
S: What? I don't get a hug, Rupert?
Giles ignored Spike and addressed Willow.
RG: According to Spike, you were in a dimension of fears?
WR: Something like that, yeah. We all faced physical representations of our fears and took them down.
S: Yeah. I got the bloody cyborg again.
S: (Rolls his eyes) No, Terminator. Of course Adam! How many damn cyborgs have we faced before?
RG: Adam is one of your fears?
S: No! I-you know what, let Magic Girl explain. My head hurts from all this exposition.
WR: (On cue) Well, in Spike's case, Adam wasn't a fear. He was the most prominent villain that he had dealt with on his mind.
RG: Oh, I see.
XH: Who did you face, Buff?
BS: The Master.
RG: I'm not surprised.
WR: You know, black haired, veined, evil me.
AJ: You went dark again?
WR: No, it was just a fear of mine that manifested.
AJ: Oh. Well, don't go dark again. That would be a bad thing.
RG: Well, now that we've covered where you were and what happened, tell us how you got out of there.
S: Well, see, that's the funny part. We had to off each other.
XH: Kill each other? What kind of crazy escape plan is that?
WR: It's simple: We don't really exist in that dimension. If we were killed by something from the dimension, like Adam or The Master, we would have died for real. But, since we were killed by each other, instead of killing us, we helped each other escape the dimension.
S: (Sarcastically) Yeah, that makes it sound real simple.
RG: Well, I must say, this is quite an unprecedented series of events.
He looked down at his watch.
RG: Well, I can still make the 11 p.m. flight if I hurry. I'll see you all later.
He opened the front door, raised a hand in farewell, and left.
BS: Do you have any idea who could have done this, Will?
WR: Not yet. Where's Andrew, by the way?
AJ: Giles told him to either help us research or go to bed, so he chose bed.
XH: Do you think The First had something to do with this?
WR: I guess we can't rule it out. I mean, it has agents all over the world. But it would've had to be someone pretty powerful to manage a spell like that.
S: Well, if nobody minds, I'll be off to bed myself. That was a total drag. But killing Captain Forehead was a great highlight, though.
He headed down to his room in the basement.
XH: I certainly don't mind. Wait . . . did he just say that he killed Deadboy Sr.?
WR: We're not sure. Angel did turn up, but he could have been a creation of the dimension as well. But if he wasn't, by killing him, Spike actually helped him to escape.
XH: Huh. (To Buffy) Are you alright?
BS: Yeah, I just-
From inside the blood painted symbols and the ring of candles, the view screen in the middle showed the face of Buffy Summers finishing her statement.
BS: -really wish I knew who did this.
Looking down at Buffy's face, knowing his plan to make the Slayer pay had failed, Ethan Rayne scowled.