By Amerie

It was normal.


Routine even.

Hunt. Fight. Stake. Dust. Move on.

She had done it thousands of times before. Each heart staked meant another life saved. And that was what she did. What she was destined to do. She was chosen to save the world. So why was it all starting to feel so…meaningless?

Absently brushing off the dust that had settled on her clothing, Buffy scanned the rest of the cemetery with disinterested habit. But there was nothing out there. Luckily, only one vampire had been set to rise that night. A vampire that was now dust in the wind. Her job was done. A job she wasn't sure was hers anymore.

Into every generation a slayer is born – and therein lay the problem. A slayer. One girl in all the world. But now there were two. She had died and now there were two in a previously ever steady one. What did that even mean? Her predestined destiny was no longer her own; it was one she shared with another girl – a girl who relished it.

Faith was Slayer incarnate. She loved the fight and the blood and the title, even if a little a too much at times – and a little reckless in others. Faith didn't see beyond her destiny, didn't consider the possibility of a future outside of it. But Buffy did. It seemed to be all she could think about and she wondered if maybe…maybe she wasn't meant to have one. Wasn't meant to have one since she was fourteen…

"Well, there's gotta be some way around it."

"Listen. Some prophecies are, are a bit dodgy. They're, they're mutable. Buffy herself has, has thwarted them time and time again, but this is the Codex. There is nothing in it that does not come to pass."

"Then you're reading it wrong."

"I wish to God I were! But it's very plain! Tomorrow night Buffy will face the Master, and she will die."

And she had. She had faced the Master. She had died. And then she had killed him. She had fulfilled her destiny and then some. But what of her now? Xander had given her a new lease on life, but his gift was not part of the twisted cosmic plan for her, she knew that. Buffy Summers should've died and stayed dead at fourteen, her destiny finished, but she was walking and talking and breathing and feeling utterly misplaced. Disjointed. Unneeded.

Because Buffy was different.

Buffy was a slayer, but she was no ordinary slayer either. Buffy Summers was a rarity, because Buffy was also a witch. The first witch-slayer in centuries. She was an oddity even in the worlds of the extraordinarily bizarre. A freak among freaks. And then there was that thing. That other thing. The thing that left within her impressions of very dark and powerful magic she still didn't fully understand. The thing that gave her nightmares and a skull and snake on her arm. The thing that possessed her as a child and violated her innocence. That thing known as Voldemort. Yeah, that thing. Oh, and the fact that the most evil wizard of all time was after her, to do God knows what, to get something that may not even be removable. Let's not forget that.

Life had been much easier for Buffy before she had turned thirteen. She knew where she belonged. She was a spoiled, rotten, bossy little witchy brat and she liked it that way. And then Voldemort got his hands on her. And then the Slayer. And now…now what? What was her life now?

When Buffy left Sunnydale a year ago, her replacement had settled in and the Hellmouth had a new guardian. It was now Faith's job to keep the cork in the demonic bottle. And she was great at it. But along the way the brunette had established herself and created a life with Buffy's friends, Buffy's Watcher and Buffy's boy – ex-boyfriend. Buffy had come to love Faith and their kinship, but the darker slayer had Single White Female-d her, even if unintentionally. She had taken over her vacated spot, but what could Buffy do? It wasn't as if she was in Sunnydale last year to fight and reclaim what was originally hers. Buffy had her hands full in Scotland, rebuilding another life she had been ripped out of. A life of magic and wonder where people flew on brooms and impossible was made possible with a wave of a wand.

And boy, what a construction that was.

Buffy had left the magical world at thirteen a spoilt child and returned at fifteen a seasoned warrior. And it was a hard adjustment. Resuming life at Hogwarts had not been an easy start. What with her two-yearlong absence from all things wizard. Her sudden return after a sudden exit. The rumors. The gossip. The majority of the student body hating her. Having everyone refuse to believe she had changed. Getting re-sorted into a house she used to bully mercilessly (she had to sleep with one eye open for a month because of that one). Having nearly no friends. Being separated from her loved ones. Suffering through a psychopathic teacher with a pink fetish. The return of her suppressed traumatic memories. Voldemort. The Order. Ron. Harry. Draco – God, even remembering it was giving her a headache. She was surprised she had made it through the wilderness. But she had. She made it through. Buffy dug her heels in and was rewarded with more than she could have hoped for.

Broken friendships had been rebuilt and Buffy had formed unexpected new ones that meant the world to her. She had reestablished a place for herself. She had a nook and cranny of her very own with people she loved and cared for. She thought she had re-found her place in the Wizarding world she had grown up in. She had a home, family, friends…and yet, she felt lost. As if her piece of the puzzle was missing a portion and couldn't interlock properly to complete the picture, any picture.

And then that thing happened where she apparently died again after she had saved Sirius. Something Giles was looking into because one couldn't simply return from the Veil of Death no matter what, not even if you had a rope and anchor. And then there was her magic. The whole imprinted, dark, advanced magic she sometimes unintentionally tapped into and still didn't know the exact depth of the well.

There were still a great many things up in the air – in both of Buffy's worlds. Things that needed tending to and bade many questions with no simple answers. Things that lead to open doors through seamlessly never-ending tunnels of issues. Things that kept pulling her away from her comfort zones and left to feel lost in space.

Buffy's original plan for staying in Sunnydale over the summer was to strengthen her bonds with Willow and Xander and the rest of her friends. To relax and chill and kill a few demons. But being here complicated things because it opened one of the tunnels to so many questions. And she realized how everything was really screwed up. How she was really screwed up. Why was she even in Sunnydale? Did she even belong here? Why was she still a slayer? She had died. It should've taken away everything. Severed those fated ties. This wasn't her destiny anymore. If she died no new potential would be called. Faith was, and should be, resident slayer. So why did Buffy still have the abilities? Why did she still have the dreams? The sense of duty? Why was she allowed to come back? Why –?

It was different.

But she felt it.

It wasn't the usual supernatural tingle in her spine. It was a hum. A hum she had felt before. A hum that strummed her veins and echoed in her blood.

Effortlessly, Buffy pocketed her stake and slid the wand from her arm holster into her awaiting hand. Mind focused and wrist ready.

Something wicked this way comes.