Spoilers: Until mid-season three. Bunch for _The Mummy_.
Category: Crossover (The Crossover Queen strikes again!)
Summary: Buffy and the Gang are faced with one of their toughest battles yet. The face of evil... being the face of a friend.
Disclaimer: All _Buffy_ characters belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions. _The Mummy_ characters belong to Universal and whoever else can lay claim to them. Cyril Zahn is an original character, he belongs to me. I'm not making any money off this, nor am I trying to infringe on anyone's copyright. So don't pull a David Duchovny and sue me. Thanks much.
Author's Notes: This story takes place somewhere after "Amends", the Christmas episode. "Gingerbread" didn't happen in this universe, and it's definitely _before_ "Bad Girls". Also, for any of you familiar with my SW/Buffy X-Overs, you'll recognize Cyril Zahn. The events that took place in the crossover he appeared in did NOT happen in this universe.
Send any and all commentary to: NetGrlWill@AOL.com. All flames are read, laughed at then deleted with extreme prejudice.
_Enter The Avatar_
By Net Girl
Deep underneath the small town of Sunnydale, California, the Hellmouth, the mystical gateway between the human world and the demon world, made its usual shift. The result of this shift was nothing that would alert the sleeping town above of its change. The rumbling that followed the movement only gently shook the burg.
Rising up through the small crack which momentarily occurred within the Hellmouth, the spirit squeezed free. It soared high above the streets of Sunnydale, whipping through the trees, eagerly searching for a power source strong enough for it to feed from until...
The spirit felt the irresistible pull of great power... power coming from a certain home on this street. It hovered outside of the bedroom window, watching a young blond girl turn onto her side in bed. This was the source of the mystical energy. Inside this blonde girl's body, the spirit would be safe until the time was right.
It easily slipped through the glass and into the room then floated quietly above the girl in her bed.
"Mmmm," the girl moaned as she rolled onto her back. She stretched her arms above her head, yawning.
Yes, she will do fine, the spirit decided. It dove deep down into the girl's open mouth.
Buffy Summers gasped sharply as she sat up in her bed. She put a hand to her chest, breathing hard and looking around her darkened room. Her hands went to her face, and she discovered she was drenched in sweat. Her entire body was, actually.
"Only a dream," Buffy whispered as she pushed her hair back from her face.
But, like all her prophetic dreams, it felt so real. The mysterious, yet incredibly blurred, black haired female figure brought a definite evil with her. An evil that would destroy the world. And, like all her prophetic dreams, they were extremely vague in the information department.
The door to Buffy's bedroom opened, startling her. She jumped when her mother, Joyce, flipped on her light.
"Buffy, are you all right?" Joyce asked. She came over to the bed. "My God, Buffy, you're soaking wet. Did it frighten you that much, honey?"
Buffy shook her head as she composed herself. Then it hit her. "Huh?" How did her mother know she'd had a nightmare? Was she screaming? Oh... how embarrassing that would be. "Did... uh... What are you talking about, Mom?"
Joyce sat on the bed, brushing Buffy's hair back. "The earthquake, Buffy," she replied. "Didn't you feel it?" When Buffy shook her head, Joyce went on. "Well, it shook the house."
"Ah... oh," was all Buffy could say. So, it wasn't her dream that brought her mother to the room. "No, I guess... I guess not?"
Joyce tilted her head slightly, curious. "If you're okay, then I'll let you go back to sleep."
"Yeah, sure..." Buffy nodded.
Joyce paused but finally stood up. "Okay, hon," she quietly said. "I'm sorry I'm acting so silly over a little earthquake. I doubt it was even a 3 pointer."
"It's... fine. You're just being a Mom," Buffy assured Joyce. She smiled briefly. "Really. Anyway... I have school, so I should try--"
Joyce started to leave. "Yes, you should," she agreed. She stopped in the doorway, looking back to her daughter. "Good night, Buffy." She flipped off the light.
Buffy relaxed when her mother shut the door. She took in a few breaths, her thoughts going back to her odd dream. A shiver went up her spine as the blurry vision of the dark haired woman filled her mind. The evil... Everything coming from this woman was so cold, so full of hatred. A hatred that would never be calmed....
Buffy didn't get any sleep the rest of the night.
Sunnydale High School Library
Buffy entered the library that next morning. "Giles?" she called out. She dropped her books on the checkout counter and sighed when her Watcher didn't answer her right away.
Rupert Giles emerged from the stacks on the upper floor of the library, a book in his hands. "Oh, it's you," he said. He came down the steps to join the Slayer. "I was hoping you would come in this morning, Buffy."
Buffy stared at him a moment, worry now on her face. "This isn't going to be a bad thing, is it? Maybe you just missed me and you wanted to see me as soon as possible today?" she hopefully replied. "Please, don't let it be something bad, Giles."
Giles placed his book on the counter. "It's nothing to be concerned about, Buffy. Not much," he said. He stopped when he noticed the stress in his Slayer. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing really..." Buffy shrugged as she leaned forward on the counter. "Had one of those weird don't-tell-ya-much-but-sure-do-freak-you-out Slayer dreams last night."
"Really?" Giles' attention was completely focused on Buffy now. "What.. what happened?"
"I dreamed about a fuzzy, dark-haired woman who wants to destroy the world," Buffy told him. Giles stood there, waiting for Buffy to elaborate. "What? I told you it was one of _those_ dreams, Giles. Don't expect a whole lot more to go on. That was it. Strange, blurry lady... lots o' evil brewing around her." She shivered. "Still... it didn't fail in the Creeping Buffy Out department."
Giles nodded, considering the few details from Buffy's newest dream. "You're right. Doesn't give us much to go on," he said after a moment. He sighed. Researching this would be a feat. "Did... um... did Faith experience the same dream?"
Faith. Buffy stood straight upon Giles' mention of the second Slayer, the replacement sent after Kendra's death. Things had been tense between them and Faith in recent months but since Christmas the relationship had improved. Buffy still wasn't 100 percent sure Faith was as "okay" as she claimed she was.
"No, I don't know because I didn't ask," Buffy replied. She leaned against the counter again. "It never occurred to me."
Giles could see that the mention of Faith altered Buffy's mood. "We should inquire about the dream, Buffy," he quietly said. He cleared his throat and turned his attention to the book he'd brought down from the stacks with him. "Were you... aware of the earthquake in Sunnydale last night?"
Buffy snapped out her thinking-about-Faith daze and looked to Giles. "Yeah. My mom came invading my room asking me if I was okay last night. She caught me post-freaky dream, though." She came closer to Giles, trying to get a look at what he was reading. "So... earthquake... why do we care?"
"Well, this wasn't really an earthquake," Giles started.
"Wait. This is the part where you tell me that something's trying to open the Hellmouth... again. Right?"
Giles glanced at Buffy. "Uh... no, actually," he said. "The quake Sunnydale experienced last night _is_ related to the Hellmouth, however." He tapped the book before him. "I was expecting this to happen any day now. A shift in the Hellmouth's opening. An event which happens roughly every one hundred years."
"A shift in the Hellmouth? What causes that?" Buffy peered at Giles' musty, old book.
"Paranormal pressures build up around the Hellmouth," Giles explained. "Much like a... a regular earthquake. A little rumble relieves the stress."
Buffy shrugged. "So is this a bad thing?" she asked when Giles didn't continue. "End of the world type stuff?"
"Oh, no. Not at all." He shut the book, picked it up then looked to Buffy. "Just expect an... increase of supernatural activity in the coming weeks. Demons and such sometimes manage to slip out of Hell during the shift." He drummed his fingers on the book. "It's been.. uh.. documented."
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Oh, wonderful," she flatly replied. She paused when something occurred to her. "You don't think there's a connection between my dream and the Hellmouth quake-shift thingy, do you?"
Giles considered it. "Possibly," he thoughtfully replied. "Still, you should be extra mindful during the next few weeks, Buffy." He walked towards his office. "And ask Faith about the dream as well."
Buffy gave her retreating Watcher a sharp salute. "Absolutely, sir," she said. She picked up her books and left the library.
During lunch later that day, Buffy gathered together with her closest, well only, real friends at Sunnydale High. Willow Rosenberg, Xander Harris and Willow's boyfriend, Oz were all seated together in the cafeteria. She relayed the discussion she'd had with Giles earlier that day concerning the Hellmouth quake. But she kept the strange Slayer dream to herself. She didn't want to worry them over that.
"I don't know, Buffy," Willow said, worry already on her pretty face. "Despite what Giles says, I'm still concerned about our burping Hellmouth. And demons escaping Hell during it?" She shivered and reached out for Oz's hand, grasping it tightly. "I don't like it."
"How will we know what's Hellmouth related and what's just regular Sunnydale weirdness?" Xander asked. He poked at the odd meat dish on the tray before him. "And I'm thinking this is your regular Sunnydale weirdness right here." He shoved the tray away.
"Doesn't really matter," Buffy replied with a shrug. "If it's evil, we kill it."
"Tried and true method," Oz agreed.
Buffy rested her elbows on the table, burying her face in her palms. She closed her eyes as she let out a tired groan.
"Buffy, are you okay?" Willow asked.
"I'm... just tired, that's all," Buffy assured her as she lifted her head up. "Didn't get much sleep last night. I'm fine."
"You don't look so good," Willow told her. "Like you don't feel well."
"I'll be okay. As soon as I catch some Z's in history next hour." Buffy smiled at Willow. "Really. I'm fine, Willow."
"History," Xander grumbled as he poked at the meat on his tray with his fork. He scoffed. "I wish I was in a World History class so I could see the Egyptian exhibit at the gallery."
"Oh!" Willow motioned to Oz. "Our class went yesterday. It was awesome. We talked to a professor from UCLA who teaches Ancient Egyptian history. He was really cool. He told us many of the artifacts in the exhibit were connected to Osiris, Anubis and Isis because of their positions in the Egyptian afterlife. Seeing how the actual Book of the Dead is on display there." Her eyes glimmered with excitement.
"Yeah, I found the mummified cat remains intriguing," Oz said.
Buffy knew all about the exhibit. It was all her mother could talk about nowadays. From what Buffy gathered, the Book of the Dead was important to Egyptian scientist people. Contained instructions for mummy making and stuff. Or so it was theorized. In the thirty years the Book had been found, no one had been able to open the thing. Some sort of trick to it, apparently.
The book's destination was L.A., but through some foul up at the museum there the place wasn't ready yet for the exhibit. So, the Sunnydale Museum volunteered to hold a small exhibit of it's own until Los Angeles was prepared. Joyce was overjoyed at this stroke of luck. The Book of the Dead brought a lot of people into Sunnydale, which meant more visitors for the art gallery.
"I never knew you were interested in Egypt, Xander," Buffy said.
"I show a healthy interest in anything that merits a field trip," Xander told her. "A free pass out of classes for a day? Count me in."
The crash of a tray hitting the floor caught their attention... And the attention of the rest of the lunch crowd.
"Oh! You idiot!" Harmony Kendall's voice screeched. Harmony glared at Amy Madison. A spilled lunch tray sat on the floor between the two girls, the contents of which covered Harmony's feet. "Watch where you're going, you freak show!"
"I-I-" Amy spluttered nervously as she kneeled down on the floor. "I didn't mean to--" She removed the tray from Harmony's feet. She frowned, but held up a napkin to Harmony. "I'm sorry," she quietly said.
"These are ninety dollar shoes!" Harmony snatched the napkin Amy offered her. "You can't just wipe them off like those patent leather Mary Janes you wear!" She growled as she kicked off as much off the food from her shoes as possible. "Get some glasses, stupid!"
"Come on, Harmony," one of Harmony's friends said. She took her by the arm. "Let's see what we can do."
"I'm sorry!" Amy called as Harmony left with her friends. She sighed when the only thing she got in reply was a nasty look. "Great," she muttered.
"I can clean this up," said a voice. Amy looked up to see the janitor towering over her. He offered a weak smile. "Don't worry about it."
Amy blinked a few times as she slowly rose to her feet. "Thanks," she said then went to the back of the line to get a new tray.
"Wow," Buffy said as she turned back to the others. "What's with Amy today?"
Willow shrugged. "I haven't talked to her yet today. I don't know."
"Amy's day isn't going to get much better now that she's soiled the shoes of the all holy Harmony Kendall," Xander put in. He looked back to Amy, who was standing in the line, staring at the floor in front of her.
Amy sighed heavily as she pulled her school books out of her locker. The school day seemed to go on forever. And that incident in the lunchroom with Harmony hadn't helped much either. Putting up with Harmony and her friends was tough enough, but now they had reason to get in her face.
"See you tomorrow!" called a girl to another friend. Her voice echoed through the nearly empty halls of Sunnydale High School.
Amy had hid out in the bathroom, waiting for the halls to clear after school. She wanted to avoid any confrontations with Harmony if she could help it.
Amy froze when she heard Harmony's voice from behind her. Too late.
Willow kissed Oz lightly on the lips. "I'll see you later," she said to him. "Have fun at practice."
"We'll try," Oz replied, smiling a little. He gave Willow another kiss then headed out of the school.
Willow swayed from side to side, happily as she watched Oz leave. She sighed then turned around to head for the library to hook up with Buffy. She stopped, though, when she spotted Harmony and two of her friends down the hall with Amy Madison.
"You know, you're lucky I'm nice and not making you pay for the shoes you ruined today, klutz," Harmony haughtily said to Amy as she folded her arms across her chest.
Amy glared at Harmony but kept her mouth shut.
Harmony laughed. "What are you going to do?" She looked at her two friends. "Are you gonna cast a spell on me, Madison?" Her friends joined her in her laughter. "You gonna do your witch stuff like your weirdo friend Willow? Hmm? Gonna turn me into a frog?"
Amy slammed her locker shut and whirled around. She narrowed her eyes at Harmony. "No," she evenly growled. "I'll do something much worse. Like put boils on your skin or make all your hair fall out." She grinned wickedly. "Or permanently clog your pores! Wouldn't _that_ be funny?" She cackled.
Harmony and her friends took a few steps back from Amy, all clearly frightened by what Amy had just threatened them with. Without another word, the three girls hurried down the hallway, putting as much space between them and Amy as they could.
Amy's lips curled into a satisfied smile as she watched the girls flee. Hmph. Serves you right.
"You shouldn't let Harmony get to you like that, Amy," Willow said as she joined Amy in the hallway.
Amy turned around, a puzzled expression on her face. "Huh? Harmony? What about her?"
"You shouldn't let her get to you," Willow repeated. She laughed a little. "But I doubt she'll come near you for a long time after what you just said, though."
Amy's brow furrowed in confusion. "What are you talking about? When did I say something to Harmony?"
Willow started to say something but stopped. It was her turn to be confused now. "Umm... yeah. Harmony just left." She motioned in the direction Harmony and her friends had gone. "She was bothering you about what happened in the lunchroom today and you chased her off."
"Oh..." Amy lowered her eyes, searching her memory for the scene Willow described. "Well, yeah, I guess... I... did."
Willow placed a hand on Amy's shoulder. "Hey, are you feeling okay, Amy?" she asked, concern in her voice. "You've been acting a little off today. Everything going all right at home?"
"Oh... well, I have been feeling a little disconnected lately," Amy said. She and Willow began to walk out of the school together. "But I figure it's a side effect of a new spell I've been working with."
That piqued Willow's interest. "New spell?" she eagerly inquired.
Amy nodded. "It's pretty advanced," she said. "A full body glamour. Takes an experienced Wicca to pull one off."
"Wow. I'd sure like to see you do that one."
Amy paused in the hall. "Well, I think we should wait until you can call upon all four elements before letting you see advanced magicks," she carefully replied. "It might be a little too advanced for me yet. Like I said, it could be affecting me."
Willow nodded. She understood Amy's concern and agreed. "Well... I've almost mastered fire and water. And I'm working on earth now. That's a tricky one."
Amy smiled. "That's great, Will," she said. They stopped by the doors leading out of the school. "I've got to get home. Dad wanted to spend some time with me this evening. We're going to make popcorn and watch a few old movies."
"Sounds like fun. I promised Buffy I'd meet her," Willow said. She waved to Amy as her friend left the school. When Amy was gone, Willow started for the library, but was surprised to find Buffy watching her from the other end of the hall. "Hey, Buffy," she greeted, and wondered how long her friend had been there.
"How's Amy?" Buffy asked as Willow joined her. She nodded her head towards the front doors of the school.
"She's okay," Willow answered. "She told me she was feeling a little out of it because of this new spell she's working on." Her eyes brightened when she remembered something. "And I doubt Harmony will be bothering her anymore either."
"Amy really gave her what for a little bit ago," Willow replied. "You should've seen them run, Buffy. About time Harmony got some of what she deserved."
Buffy nodded. She froze when a strange feeling came over her. She looked to the open doors, and she spotted Amy standing outside on the sidewalk. Amy stared at Buffy and Willow for a few moments before turning around and leaving.
That was weird, Buffy thought. She shrugged it off and she and Willow headed for the library.
That's what this patrol was. Buffy swung her arms by her sides, occasionally tossing her stake from one hand to the other. She hadn't come across one vamp that night. Where were all these extra creepies that Giles said would be running around? She hadn't seen the undead population of Sunnydale so inactive in a long time.
She turned a corner, headed towards the Sunnydale Museum. The banners for the temporary Egyptian exhibit covered the lightpoles and every inch of free space on this particular street. Buffy didn't much care for history as it was. And exhibits that had mummies of any sort didn't appeal to her either. Not after Ampata, the Inca Mummy Girl, that was for sure.
"Little girls shouldn't wander the streets alone at night," hissed a voice from behind Buffy. A low growl followed.
Buffy stopped in her tracks as she gripped her stake in her hands in front of her. She half-glanced over her shoulder. "Oh, really now?" she said. "I suggest you find yourself an escort then." She whirled around, grinning as she brandished her stake. "Oops... too late."
The fight was over before it even started. Buffy easily dusted the vampire without even breaking a sweat.
"Well... that was equally boring," Buffy said as she watched the dust settle. The sound of glass breaking caught her attention. It seemed to come from the direction of the museum. "What the--?" She saw a familiar figure running away from the building. "Amy!" she called out.
The figure didn't stop, didn't even appear to hear Buffy calling. It disappeared into the darkness.
Buffy started towards the museum. That had to be Amy Madison. What was she doing at the museum at that late hour? She slowed to a stop when yelling and the distinct sound of blows landing gained her attention. Across the street, Buffy spotted Faith in a viscous fight with a vampire.
Faith grabbed the arm of the vampire as it reached out for her. She easily flipped it over her shoulder and it landed on its back. "Guess you lose this time, sucker," she said then staked the vamp. She stood up as the vampire dusted.
"Faith," Buffy called as she crossed the street. She stopped not far from the other Slayer, still uneasy being around her. "Uh... hi." She felt stupid now.
Faith also felt strange around Buffy. "Hi," she shortly replied.
"Hi," Buffy said again, shifting from foot to foot.
"You said that already," Faith told her.
"Oh... yeah, I guess so."
"Is there something I can do for you, B? If not, I'd kinda like to continue patrolling. Vamps are few and far between tonight. Took me an hour just to scare up that lame-ass." Faith kicked the pile of dust between them.
Buffy decided to fill in Faith on the Hellmouth shift stuff. She figured a fellow Slayer should know. "And... well, Giles says it might be extra busy in the coming weeks because of it," she finished. "So... watch your back."
Faith nodded. "Cool. More ass kicking time for me, then. I can truck with that."
Buffy shifted uncomfortably in place. "Hey... um... you haven't had any of those dreams lately, have you, Faith?" she asked.
"You mean the one where I'm on patrol, slaying vamps completely naked?"
Buffy met Faith's gaze then laughed when she saw the smile on Faith's face. "Um... No, that's a new one on me," she said. She laughed again. "I mean the Slayer dreams. The freaky-deaky prophetic stuff?"
"Yeah... I did," Faith replied.
"Was it about a dark-haired woman? Sorta blurry, couldn't make out any details?"
Faith nodded. "Yep. Same thing I dreamed. Giles thinks it's something we should be concerned about?"
"No. Not yet." Buffy replied. She turned around, looking at the museum across the street, remembering the person running away from the place. "You... you didn't happen to see anyone hanging around the museum earlier, did you?"
Faith shrugged. "I didn't notice. I was too busy trying to keep from getting killed in that fight." An uncomfortable silence followed. "So... was that everything you wanted to talk about, B? Because... I kinda have some more patrolling to do."
"Oh... sure." Buffy nodded. "I'll.. uh... I'll see you later, then."
"Sure. Later." Faith turned smartly on her heel and proceeded on her way.
Buffy sighed. She wanted so much for things to be better between the two of them. Giles was right. They needed time. She decided to pack it in for the night. Faith was still on patrol and the vampire populace seemed rather non-existent tonight, anyway. She headed back home.
Buffy woke up unusually early that morning. The dreams had returned the night before and much more graphic than the previous night. She tossed back her blankets and got out of bed. Yawning, she headed downstairs to see if her mother was up yet. Maybe she could get her to make pancakes or waffles for breakfast.
"Okay, yes, I know. I saw it on the morning news, that's why I called, Jean," Joyce's voice said. A pause. "It's horrible. Uh... yeah. Sure... I can do that.... I'll be there as soon as I can. Bye, Jean."
"What's going on, Mom?" Buffy asked as she entered the kitchen. She watched Joyce hang up the phone then saw the look on her face. "What happened?"
"Just something awful," Joyce replied. "That was Jean Marsh from the Sunnydale Museum. Someone broke into the museum last night." She left the room then returned with her purse.
"Someone broke in?" Buffy asked. She remembered the fleeing figure. Glass did break. Was the person running from the museum, the person who resembled Amy Madison, the thief? "What did they take?"
"The Book of the Dead, Buffy," Joyce replied. "And destroyed the rest of the exhibit as well." She fished through her purse, searching for something. "Two guards were killed during the robbery." She paused to frown and shake her head. "It's sickening. Just sickening." She pulled her keys out of her purse.
Buffy stood in the kitchen, staring at her mother in shock. "Two guards were murdered?" she asked, her voice barely above a whisper. And you were right there, not even 100 yards away from the building, Buffy, she thought.
Joyce zipped up her purse. "Yes. Just for an antiquity," she replied, her voice full of disgust. "Who would do something like that? And why?"
"I don't know, but I think we need to find out," Buffy answered.
Joyce stopped on her way out of the kitchen and turned to Buffy. "Oh, honey, you shouldn't involve yourself," she said. "The police can handle this." She put a hand on her daughter's shoulder. "It's nothing for you to worry about. Look, I'll be at the Sunnydale Museum this morning, if you need to reach me."
"Just awful," Joyce said once more. She kissed Buffy lightly on the top of her head. "I'll see you this afternoon, all right?"
"Sure." Buffy watched her mother leave the house. Joyce may have been certain the police could handle the situation, but Buffy wasn't. The Hellmouth quake, the strange Slayer dreams and the theft of the Book of the Dead all happening within such a small time-span was no coincidence. She was certain some big time evil was brewing in Sunnydale.
"Are you certain it was Amy you saw last night?" Willow asked as she shut her locker. She'd been listening attentively to Buffy's story about the night before and the robbery of the museum. She and Buffy started down the hallway, headed for the library. "Oh.. you don't think _Amy_ was the one who broke into the museum, do you, Buffy? Because she'd never do something like that. And would never kill anyone."
"I'm not even sure of what I saw last night, Willow," Buffy honestly replied. "It was dark. The girl resembled Amy. I called out to her, but she didn't answer."
"Who didn't answer?" Xander asked as he and Oz joined the two girls. "What's the what?"
"Someone broke into the museum last night, killed two guards, wrecked the exhibit and stole the Book of the Dead," Willow answered.
"Busy night," Oz said as he slipped an arm around Willow's waist.
"Oh.. hey.. wait," Xander said, holding up his hands as he came to a halt. "This isn't Inca Mummy Girl redux, is it? Because you remember that one didn't turn out so good."
"No, it's not, Xander," Buffy replied. The four of them entered the library. "But it's something, and we need to stop it."
The four kids stopped inside the library when they saw a stranger in their inner sanctum talking to Giles. The dark haired man wore jeans, battered up sneakers and a gray sweatshirt, the sleeves pushed up, with UCLA across the front. Willow recognized the man after a moment, as did Oz.
"Oh, hey, it's Dr. Zahn, from the exhibit," Willow said, motioning to the man sitting on the table. "Hi! We were at the exhibit a few days ago." She indicated Oz.
Zahn smiled, but remained silent.
"Buffy, I'm glad you're here," Giles said as he approached the kids. "All of you."
"What's this all about?" Buffy asked.
"This, as Willow's already pointed out, is Cyril Zahn," Giles replied. "He's a professor of Ancient Egyptian history at UCLA, with a side interest in Atlantis."
"Oh, you're not gonna tell them the best part, Rupert?" Zahn asked, a half-grin on his face. He looked back to the kids. "Let me see... which one is the Slayer?" He pointed to Buffy. "That would be you, Buffy Summers. I've heard a lot about you. A Slayer out of the norm... I admire someone who goes against the rules. Most times, you live longer that way. Right, Rupert?"
"Not always," Giles replied, softly. He noted the confusion amongst the kids. "Cyril Zahn is more than a mere professor."
"I'd say so," Buffy said, nodding. She looked back to Zahn.
"I used to be a Watcher," Zahn went on as he stood up. "But Rupert and I met earlier in life, back in Oxford. Both destined for the same fate."
"Wow... an American Watcher. I didn't think those existed," Xander said. "Giles has been holding out on us."
"Ex-Watcher. I respectfully resigned my position as a researcher for the Council," Zahn replied. "You would be... Xander Harris, right?" He nodded at Xander's surprise. He smiled at Willow. "Willow Rosenberg, I remember from the museum. And you are Oz?"
"Asking questions like that could get us tied up in a half an hour of metaphysical discussion," Oz answered.
Zahn chuckled at that. "I know about all of you," he said. "Rupert's kept me updated since he started his work here. Watcher to the current Slayer... what he always worked for."
"You know us, but we've never heard of you," Buffy said. "I'm feeling a little cheated here."
"And I'm hurt." Zahn looked over to Giles. "You never mentioned me to them? I always thought I was your hero."
"Never occurred to me, actually," Giles said. He removed his glasses momentarily.
"S'all right. We're acquainted now. Too bad it's under these circumstances, though."
"You must be really mad about somebody stealing the Book of the Dead, Dr. Zahn," Willow said.
"Just call me 'Cyril'. I'm not much for titles. And, yes, I am upset about the theft of the Book. I'm more disturbed by the murder of the two guards," Zahn replied. He shook his head then looked at Willow. "Then there's the complete destruction of the rest of the exhibit that makes no sense."
Willow nodded. "Yeah, I can understand how that would affect someone who is so interested in it."
"People don't realize how important that exhibit was," Xander jumped in. "Kids will be stuck in school now thanks to the low-life that did this!"
"The callous fiends," Oz added.
"Xander, two guys were _killed_ last night. Have some compassion," Buffy snapped, giving Xander a scolding glare. "Geez. This is serious business and all you can think about is getting out of class."
"I just don't understand who would steal the Book of the Dead," Giles said, shaking his head. "It's of no use to anyone. He couldn't possibly sell it."
Buffy hesitated. "I... I _think_ I saw Amy Madison outside the museum last night."
"Amy?" Giles looked to Cyril. "Amy Madison is a student here."
"And part-time Wicca," added Willow.
"Why would Amy be at the museum so late at night?"
Buffy shrugged. "Your guess is as good as mine, Giles."
"Amy Madison destroying a museum exhibit?" Oz raised an eyebrow. "Doesn't jive."
"You guys! Amy didn't do anything!" Willow defensively said. She put her hands on her hips as she gave each of her friends a look. "Buffy's not even positive that's who she saw." Her eyes suddenly lit up. "Oh! Amy might've been doing her full body glamour spell... The ability to cast a complete copy of herself somewhere far away from where she actually is. That would explain why she didn't answer you, Buffy."
Giles considered Willow's explanation. "It is plausible," he said, thoughtfully. "Amy is powerful enough to do such a spell."
"She told me yesterday she's still trying to master it," Willow added. She smiled a little, relieved she'd discovered the answer to that particular mystery. "One cannot control where the glamour is cast... at least, at first."
The bell rang signaling the start of the day's classes.
Xander feigned a groan. "Just when this was getting interesting too." He sighed heavily. "At least I can get some sleep now."
"You go on ahead," Buffy said to Willow when Willow turned to her. "I'll catch you later."
Willow nodded. Buffy needed to talk to Giles about something. She was a little hurt that Buffy felt she couldn't discuss the matter with her as well. "Okay. I'll see you at lunch." She waved to Zahn then left the library, joining Oz who waited outside for her.
"Giles?" Buffy came back over to her Watcher. "I... um... I had another one of those dreams last night." She glanced at Zahn.
Zahn looked from Buffy to Giles. "I have to be going back to the museum, anyway, Rupert," he said, realizing this was a conversation he had no business hearing. "I'm sure the police need my help."
"I'll go along with you, Cyril," Giles offered as Zahn started to leave. When his friend turned around, he added, "Just give me a moment here... I would like to... to take a look at the museum for myself."
"Think some sort of ancient evil is behind this, Rupert?" Zahn asking, half-heartedly chuckling.
"I'm not certain," Giles replied. "I do find it odd, however, that the perpetrator concentrated on the ancient Egyptian section of the museum."
Zahn started to reply, but decided against it. He motioned to the library doors. "I'll be waiting outside the school, then, Rupert," he said. He left the Slayer and the Watcher alone.
Buffy turned around as the library doors fell shut. "He's different," she commented. "Well, not the type of person I'd think the Watchers would take in. Not that I'm saying anything bad about you, Giles--"
"The dream, Buffy," Giles interrupted. "What happened?"
"Oh, right... the dream," she said. She made a face, recalling the details. "It was extremely graphic... compared to the one I had the night before last." She looked at Giles. "The dark haired girl was still blurry... but there was another girl in the dream with her. A blonde. And... the dark haired girl was.... Well, she was _eating_ the blonde girl, Giles."
Giles stared at Buffy, trying to process what she'd just told him. "Sh-she... was _eating_ the blonde girl?"
"Yeah. It was sick, Giles. Major gross-out factor here." Buffy shuddered. "Yick. Eating the flesh and bones of the blonde."
"Were... were you the blonde in the dream, Buffy?"
She half-shrugged, shaking her head at the same time. "I don't think so. But it was all going so fast I couldn't really tell." She saw the expression Giles' face. "I'm guessing this is the part where you tell me to be careful. Right?"
"What about Faith? Is she having the dreams too?"
"She had the one about the dark haired woman," Buffy answered. "I don't know if she had the dreams with the disgusting cannibalistic stuff, though." She didn't like the look on her Watcher's face. "Giles, you don't think anything paranormal is behind this museum thing, do you?"
"I'm not sure," Giles replied. He looked to Buffy. "And the dreams you're having most likely have no bearing on the incident at the museum. We shouldn't assume these events are all connected." He paused. "But... do be careful, Buffy."
Buffy couldn't help but smile. It was inevitable. Giles just had to say it. "I better go before I get into more trouble than I'm already in."
"Hopefully I'll be back from the museum before school is over for the day," Giles told Buffy as she walked towards the library doors.
"Okay!" Buffy pushed open the library doors and stopped, trying to remember what class she had first. She sighed. How could she forget what class she was late for?
"Just leave me alone!" Amy Madison's voice snarled.
Buffy looked to her left, where Amy's voice originated from. Down the hallway, Amy was backed up against the lockers by Steve Boyer, the head moron of the football team, and two of his fellow cretins. Football players could show up to class whenever they wanted and not be in trouble. That was one reason not to like them. Another reason was right before her: they liked to pick on the less popular kids.
"Get out of my way, Neanderthal!" Amy ordered, giving Steve a shove. It was useless, but at least she was trying. "I'm already late for class. Some of us get tardies, you know!"
Steve didn't budge. "What are you gonna do about it, Madison?" he asked. He slapped Amy's books from her hands, laughing as her homework papers scattered all over the floor.
"Idiot," Amy muttered. She kneeled down and reached out to pick up her things.
Steve kicked a few of her books across the floor. "Oh, whoops," he said, grinning widely as Amy looked up at him. "Sorry."
Amy pressed her lips together, attempting to calm herself. Don't use witchcraft, she reminded herself. She ignored the laughing. But it was hard to ignore them. Every time she tried to pick something up Steve or one of his jock jerk buddies would kick it out of her grasp.
The laughter stopped when Buffy grabbed Steve by his letter jacket and slammed him up against the lockers, hard. She shot a glare at the other two when they made a move to help Steve. Immediately, they backed off.
"You pick on her, you gotta pick on me too," Buffy evenly said as she locked gazes with Steve. She shoved him back again when he tried to push her off. "Huh? So pick!"
Steve held up his hands in surrender. "Whoa, Summers!" he exclaimed. He couldn't figure out how a petite girl like Buffy was holding him against the lockers. "Easy!"
"Leave my friend alone," Buffy snapped. She pushed on him. "You understand?" After Steve nodded, she let him go.
"Come on, let's go," Steve said, motioning for his friends to follow. He gave Buffy one last look, and muttered, "What a _psycho_!"
Buffy folded her arms, staring at the three boys as they disappeared down the hallway. Once they were gone, Buffy kneeled down by Amy. "Are you okay?" she asked as she proceeded to help Amy gather up her books.
Amy sniffled and nodded. "Yeah. Thanks," she softly replied. She accepted the books Buffy handed to her.
"It's no big," Buffy replied as she and Amy stood up.
"I'll just have to get used to it, I guess," Amy said then sniffled once again. "People are going to be picking on me for the rest of my life because I'm different." She brushed her blonde hair over one ear. "Anyway... thanks for helping me, Buffy." Before Buffy could say anything else to her, Amy hurried off down the hallway.
Buffy frowned, feeling sorry for the girl. Amy Madison hadn't had it easy. Her weird witch mother had switched their bodies because Catherine Madison wanted to relive her glory days as a cheerleader through her daughter. Now Amy was labeled a weirdo by the rest of the school because of her interest in witchcraft. An outsider... one who didn't quite fit in.
Buffy could relate.
Cyril Zahn's banged up, rusty white Chevy Impala's tires squealed as he pulled into the parking lot of the Sunnydale Museum. He hit the breaks, jerking the car to a stop and threw the car into PARK. He turned off the car along with "Keep Comin' Back" by The Crystal Method blaring through the speakers.
Giles breathed a sigh of relief as he removed his hands from the dashboard. "You still haven't a clue of how to drive, do you, Cyril?" he said as he looked over to Zahn. His fingers fumbled with the seatbelt lock.
"Hey, I learned in your country, Rupert," Zahn responded with a grin. He threw open the door. "You're just lucky I remembered to drive on the correct side of the road today." He laughed as he got out of the car.
"I don't know which was worse," Giles said as he, too, got out. He shut the passenger's side door and looked over the top of the car to Zahn. "Your driving or that... that infernal racket blaring in my ears all the way here."
"Racket? Nothin' wrong with the Crystal Method," Zahn said as he and Giles walked towards the building. "Don't get me wrong, I still respect the classics, but you've got to keep up with the times, Rupert."
"If that is what's called music these days, I'll stay behind the times," Giles replied, shaking his head.
Zahn looked around the parking lot. "That's funny. The police are already gone? Well, I suppose one can't expect the same amount of dedication as L.A.'s finest out here in B.F.E. Probably got scared off by the mummies." They entered the museum.
"Seems they've cordoned off a lot of space," Giles remarked as they entered the area of the ransacked Egyptian exhibit. He stopped at the yellow police tape and peered at the mess on the other side. Someone had done a rather thorough job... His eyes stopped at the tape outlines where the two guards had been found. Large amounts of blood coagulated on the floor.
"Guess that rules out vampires," Zahn commented as he nodded to the outlines. "Not like vampires to just snap necks and go." He stared at the outlines. "Pete and Josh were nice guys," he quietly added.
"Snapped necks?" Giles said as he looked over to Zahn. "How does that explain the massive... massive amounts of blood on the floor?" He motioned with his hand, indicating the outlines.
Zahn looked at Giles. "I wouldn't know. I'm not a cop," he evenly replied.
"I-I-I just don't understand who could've done something like this."
"Lotta crazy people in the world, Rupert. God doesn't expect you to understand them." He waved his hand, motioning for Giles to follow him.
"Crazy people don't come to Sunnydale, Cyril. Demons and monsters do," Giles replied as he fell in step at his friend's side.
"So you're saying some demon took the Book of the Dead and is responsible for the murders?" Zahn gave Giles a side glance.
"Well, it's possible." Giles's brow furrowed. "Though what use they would have for it... I... well, I don't know."
Zahn chuckled lightly. "Perhaps they want to raise someone from the dead?"
Giles nodded. "Yes," he said after a moment. "The Book of the Dead supposedly contains incantations to bring souls back from the afterlife, doesn't it?"
Zahn's smile faded away as he bit his lower lip, uncomfortable. "So the legend goes... Can't prove it though..."
"What if whoever took the Book wishes to resurrect some sort of evil--?"
"Rupert, a lot of this ancient Egyptian stuff is hocus pocus," Zahn interrupted. He stopped outside of a closed door. That's when Giles realized they were in the area of the museum where artifacts were kept and/or restored.
Giles was surprised by Zahn's comment on the matter. "With all you learned while a member of the Watchers, you can... you can say something like that?"
Zahn unlocked the door then opened it. "Egyptians curses and most of that other stuff are all stories, Rupert," he said. "Demons, vampires, those are real threats." He pushed the door open and the two men stepped inside. "Besides," Zahn added as he pocketed his keys. "To open the Book of the Dead, one needs a key."
Giles looked at the crates stacked three and four high on one side of the office. Most were marked FRAGILE. He turned to Zahn who was sitting on the desk situated on the other side of the storeroom.
"A key?" he repeated. "How do you know that?"
"I just do," Zahn evenly replied as he shrugged.
"Well, if someone wants to get that book open, the need for a key wouldn't stop them."
"This lock is very special," Zahn said as he stood up. He walked behind the desk, smiling a little. "The Book of the Dead simply will not open without it's key. The scholars and scientists have been attempting everything they could think of for the last thirty years, Rupert. No success. Unless they want to destroy the artifact, but of course, they don't want to do that."
Giles watched as Zahn brought his keys back out. He used a key to unlock the top drawer of the desk then he opened it. "Well, of course they wouldn't."
Zahn nodded as he reached inside the drawer. "Exactly. Better to have it and not know what's inside, than to wreck it whilst trying to peek."
Giles came closer to the desk, rather curious as what Zahn was doing. "I wonder where the key for the Book is now?"
Zahn removed his hand from the desk drawer and held up a small octagonal, almost black box. It's sides were decorated with Heiratic and hieroglyphics. "I have it," he said.
Giles looked from the box to Zahn, his eyes wide with astonishment. "Why... why I never knew you had this, Cyril," he breathed. His gaze went back to the box, shaking his head. "W--... how do you know... it's the key for the Book of the Dead?"
"Someone told me it was," Zahn answered. He pressed a button on the outside of the box. The box blossomed into an eight sided key. He shoved it towards Giles, whose shaking hands accepted the open box from him. "It's the same design as the cover of the Book."
Giles ran his fingers over the smooth surface of the box, taking in the symbols etched into the side. The box was absolutely beautiful. He couldn't read ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs or Heiratic very well, it was pretty much Greek to him. Not exactly Greek, he was rather fluent in that particular language.
"Where... did you get this?" he asked looking to Zahn.
"You remember Evelyn Carnahan? Professor at Oxford in our Freshman year there?" Zahn asked as he sat back down on the desk.
"Yes, I do. She taught the classes in reading and writing Heiratic," Giles replied, nodding.
"Yep. I had her class my Freshman year. That was her last year of teaching, period."
Giles held up the box. "Professor Carnahan gave this to you?"
Zahn shook his head. "No. Her older brother, Jonathan."
"Why would he give this to you?" Giles examined the small box once more.
"Safe-keeping, or so he told me." Zahn shrugged. "See, I met him my Freshman year. He hung around the campus a lot because of his sister's teaching job there. Used to be an Egyptologist himself until he ruined his career. He was a little shady, I think. He and I met at a pub in London, he recognized me as a student in one of Evelyn's classes." He laughed. "Damn, could that guy drink! We spent a lot of time together during that first semester, hanging out at this pub. He was a lonely old guy. Early '70s at that time."
Giles couldn't believe in all the years he'd know Cyril Zahn he'd never been told this story. He listened as Zahn continued.
"He would tell me stories about the things he'd done in his glory days. Mostly stuff about the pieces of junk he'd stolen from other people and tried to sell to the Museum. One day, we get to talking about the Book of the Dead. It was on display at some museum in London. He brings this out--" He motioned to the key in Giles' hand. "He's really secretive about it, too. Showed me how it opened and said it was the key to unlock the Book. When I asked him why he didn't give it to the museum so they could take a gander at what was really inside, he said only death followed when someone opened up that book. I thought he was joking. Or just drunk."
Zahn got up from the desk and retrieved the key from Giles. With a push of the button, the key closed back up.
"But, anyway, he gave it to me a short time before he died. I've kept it secret because he made me swear to it."
Giles had the feeling that Cyril was leaving out a lot more of the story, but he didn't pursue the matter. He was still taking in what Zahn _had_ told him.
"So..." Zahn cleared his throat as he wrapped his fingers tightly around the little box. "As long as I have the key, we don't need to worry about somebody conjuring up anyone or anything from the dead." He stared at the key, lost in another memory....
"I thought you didn't believe in that sort of... 'hocus pocus', I believe you called it?"
Zahn gave the box a once over then shifted his attention to Giles. "It's better to be safe than sorry, Rupert."
Sunnydale High Cafeteria
Buffy joined her friends at a table. She placed her tray down then took a seat by Willow. "Some sort of evil is afoot in this cafeteria," she remarked, looking at her food. "I just know it."
"I've been saying that for years," Xander said. He nodded to her roll. "You plannin' on eating that?"
"I picked it up, didn't I?"
"Yeah, I guess so."
Buffy dropped her bag on the floor. "Then I plan on eating it."
"So... is everything okay?" Willow asked once Buffy was comfortable. She'd not forgotten about the library that morning, Buffy wanting to talk to Giles alone.
"Yeah, everything is fine," Buffy replied. She opened up her milk carton. "I don't get it... Giles said there was an increase in supernatural activity after one of these shifts. It's like the exact opposite."
"Sounds like a good thing, Buffy," Xander said. He leaned back in his chair, chewing on a straw. "Is that what's bothering you?"
Buffy shook her head. "No, that's not really bothering me," she answered. She looked over to Willow and Oz. "Amy Madison was harassed in the hallway this morning by some creeps on the football team, like they don't have something else to do. Say... crushing beer cans on their thick foreheads? It just bugs me, you know? High school sucks."
Xander removed the straw from his mouth. "I've been saying _that_ for years too."
"I hope you're planning to keep that on your tray today." Harmony's voice caught Buffy's attention. Harmony pushed past Amy Madison in the lunch line. "Loser," she added, glancing back at Amy.
Amy narrowed her eyes at Harmony as the other girl placed herself ahead of her in line. Gritting her teeth, Amy grabbed Harmony by the shoulder and threw her back. To the astonishment of everyone, Harmony flew half-way across the crowded cafeteria. She landed on the floor with a heavy thud.
"Oh... my... God." Buffy looked at the others. "Did you see that?" She scrambled to her feet and made her way over to Harmony lying on the floor.
Amy grinned as she placed her hands on her hips, admiring her handiwork.
Harmony sat up on the floor, a hand on the back of her head. She let out a whining groan. "What... ?" She blinked a few times.
"Harmony, are you okay?" Buffy asked as she took hold of Harmony's arm. She tried to help the girl to her feet.
Harmony pushed Buffy away as she shakily stood up. "Get away from me!" she snarled.
Willow got up, looking over to Amy. What was with her? She made her way over to her friend, who still had an evil smile plastered to her face.
"Amy?" she said, gaining the girl's attention. She followed Amy out of the lunch line and into the cafeteria. All of the students stared at Amy, half-scared and half-bewildered.
"What do you want?" Amy snapped at Willow.
"Look, Amy, I know Harmony can be a real jerk sometimes, but she doesn't deserve that," Willow said.
"Just leave me alone!" Harmony yelled at Buffy. She glanced at Amy and Willow then fled the cafeteria, embarrassed and frightened.
Amy laughed as Harmony ran away then she turned her attention back to Willow. "There is no limit to what I can do," she informed her.
Willow frowned. "Amy, you can't use your power to hurt people. You know first hand how that turns out."
Amy stepped closer to Willow, her eyes narrowing. "You know _nothing_ of my power," she hissed in an almost inhuman voice. "Out of my way, little girl." She pushed Willow aside and strode out of the cafeteria. She bumped Buffy hard as she brushed by the Slayer.
Buffy touched her arm where Amy had slammed into her. That had actually hurt. She watched Amy leave the cafeteria then joined Willow. "What is with _her_ today?" she asked.
"There's something very wrong here, Buffy," Willow replied, worried.
"Amy hurling Harmony half-way across the cafeteria is a good clue," Xander said as he and Oz joined them.
"I talked to her in Trig today, and she seemed fine then," Oz put in. "No tossing people around the room."
"Maybe she's messing with some magick that's much too powerful for her," Xander suggested. "She has a tendency to do that. Or maybe a spell backfired on her."
Buffy absently rubbed her arm as she shook her head. "No, Xander, I don't think that's it at all."
Giles turned the page in the book on the table before him. He removed his glasses, rubbed the bridge of his nose as he sighed then placed his glasses back on. When he'd come back from the museum, Giles threw himself into his books. Researching the theories on what was contained in the Book of the Dead. Someone wanted it for a particular reason... And that someone must know what secrets the book held.
"Hey, Giles, what's up?"
Giles sat up. He hadn't even heard Buffy and Willow enter the library. "Oh... it's... I'm just satisfying a curiosity," he replied as he looked back to the book.
"On what?" Willow asked as she picked through the materials on the table. She read the title of one of the books. "What's bothering you about the Book of the Dead, Giles?"
Giles recalled the strange conversation he'd had with Cyril. "Nothing," he answered. He looked up at the two girls. "Did either of you talk to Amy Madison today?"
"Sorta," Willow said as she looked over to Buffy.
"She's acting even weirder than yesterday," Buffy told him.
"Oh? How so?"
"Well, while you were at the museum with Dr. Zahn this afternoon, Amy threw Harmony Kendall across the lunchroom without even flinching," Buffy replied. She opened up one of the books Giles had put aside and flipped through it.
Giles blinked. "She what?"
"Just tossed her like a... a rag doll," Willow said. "Didn't even strain her to do it. It was like she had Slayer strength." She paused. "And when I told her she shouldn't use her power to hurt others, Amy said I knew nothing of her power." Her expression went back to one of worry. "I think she's in serious trouble with this new level of magick she's practicing, Giles."
Buffy made a face and shut the book she'd been sifting through. "This stuff is like really gross, Giles," she said then dropped the book on the table. "So... did the police discover anything about the museum thing?"
"No. They've absolutely nothing: no prints, no witnesses, nothing." He sat up in his chair, thinking. "Only a wrecked museum, a missing artifact and two dead men... that's all."
Buffy didn't like the look on Giles' face. No matter how much he denied something was wrong, she knew he was lying. She knew him too well. "Come on, Giles. What's the deal here? What are you not telling us?"
"It... it was something Cyril told me at the museum today, about the Book of the Dead."
"What about it?" asked Willow.
"There is a theory about the Book of the Dead," Giles explained. "That it contains a ritual that can bring back a soul from the... afterlife. And it allows the person to live again on Earth."
"So, what? He thinks that someone stole the book to raise someone evil from the dead?" Buffy shrugged. "Who? Somebody like Hitler?"
Giles shook his head. "I'm not sure, but I don't believe it was a _person_ who stole the book."
"Demon? Vampire? Something I've got the green light to slay?"
"I just don't know, Buffy."
Buffy sighed, frustrated with the entire situation. "All right. Am I the _only_ one here finding it a huge coincidence that all this stuff is going on after the big Hellmouth Quake of '99?" She raised her hand a little. "Don't we think this all could be connected? The dreams and... everything?"
"It's possible." Giles looked up at Buffy. "Yes, possible. Anything is possible."
"Giles, find a new word or give me an explanation," Buffy replied.
"All right then. It's _probable_."
"Cute, Giles. Really cute." Buffy turned away from him.
"What does Cyril think about it? He's the big Egypt expert." Willow asked.
"He isn't worried about someone using the Book for the purpose of bringing back souls," Giles answered. "Besides... the Book needs a specific key in order to be opened."
"A key?" Willow's brow furrowed. "Well, I sure hope whoever had the Book doesn't have that too."
"I know for a fact they do not," Giles firmly replied.
Amy stepped back from the door when she heard the Slayer and her friends talking about a key. Hmm... the key. But who would have such a thing? she wondered. She snickered. They would be in for quite a surprise... very soon. Wait until we live again.
Amy frowned again. The key. The last person who had it was that stupid mortal, brother to Evelyn Carnahan. But that human would be long dead by now.
Amy, startled by Xander's voice, whirled around to confront him. Stupid fool, she angrily thought. Her rage subsided, however, when she came face to face with the young boy. So innocent... She continued to stare at him.
Xander laughed tightly. "Uh, yeah. I'm doing great, Amy. Thanks for asking," he went on when she didn't respond. Why was she staring at him like that? "Well... I have to get moving... Gotta talk to Buffy." He pointed to the library and slipped by her.
Amy's eyes never left Xander, even as he stepped by her. "Of course," she softly responded.
"Yeah... sure. Um... I'll see you later, Amy." Xander pushed open the library doors. He shook his head as he approached Giles, Buffy and Willow at the table. "Something is up with Amy today. Big time. She's seriously giving me the wiggins."
"Amy?" Willow looked out of the small windows of the library doors, seeing no one, she asked, "Where is she?"
Xander jerked a thumb behind me. "Right out.... " He turned around and saw no one. "There." He frowned as he looked back to Willow. "That's funny... she was just there."
"I'm really worrying about her," Willow said as she looked over to Buffy.
Buffy nodded. "Yeah, so am I."
Dingoes Ate My Baby played the last song of their set for the night. The crowd in the Bronze were completely into the fast, danceable tune. Willow swayed in her chair as she gazed up at Oz. She smiled when Oz made eye-contact with her and she gave him a small wave.
Buffy sat at the table, poking at her half-drank Diet Coke with the straw. She couldn't shake the feeling that Amy's disturbing behavior was linked to her recurring dreams, no matter what Giles said. But how so? What did it mean?
The song ended and the band took their bows for the applauding audience.
"Interesting and profound as always," Xander commented as Willow turned her attention back to her two tablemates.
"They were really great tonight," Willow said. She grinned. "I especially enjoyed the ballad dedicated to me." She looked over to Buffy. Buffy was on some other planet, obviously.
Xander waved a hand in front of Buffy's face, trying to get her attention. He half-smiled when Buffy finally looked at him. "I'd offer a penny for your thoughts but I'm broke," he said. "Hopefully you'll share what's on your mind for free?"
Buffy sighed and pushed her drink away. "I'm sorry I'm being such a stick in the mud, guys," she apologized. "I can't stop thinking about what happened in the cafeteria today."
Will nodded, her face solemn. "Neither can I," she said. "I called Amy's house when I got home from school, but her dad said Amy locked herself in her room as soon as she got home." Oz joined them at the table. "He sounded pretty worried about her."
"Amy the topic of discussion again?" Oz inquired as he took a seat between Xander and Willow.
"Pretty much all we talk about lately," Xander said, shrugging.
"She seemed a little spacey in Government," said Oz. "Disoriented. She was fine when I talked to her though."
Buffy shook her head. "I'm worried. I don't like this at all."
Xander sat up in his chair, his eyes widening a little as he looked past Willow and Buffy. "I'd say Amy's changed a lot more than we originally thought," he said. He pointed a finger towards the main doors of the Bronze. "Take a look at who just walked in."
Buffy, Willow and Oz turned around. Through the crowd they made out Amy. OR what appeared to have once been Amy Madison.
"My... God," Buffy gasped. Her jaw dropped.
"Is that... Amy?" Willow asked. She couldn't believe her eyes.
"Someone's had a severe makeover," Oz added.
"Wasn't Amy blonde at school today?" Xander asked.
Amy stopped half-way inside the club, her eyes scanned the room. She found the Slayer and her friends staring at her, shocked. She grinned ever so slightly.
"Yes, she was," Buffy told Xander when she finally found her voice. "She was much lighter in _all_ respects. Period."
Amy had dyed her hair to a flat coal black and parted it down the middle. Her hair hung rather lifelessly on each side of her head. Her eyes were colored with dark eye shadow, outlined with black eyeliner. Her lips were a dark currant, almost black. But the make up wasn't near as drastic as the change in clothing.
She'd traded in her otherwise trendy clothes for a two piece black leather halter top and skin hugging skirt number. The off the shoulder top was the most revealing thing any of the Gang had seen Amy wear.
"I think there are laws against skirts that short," Willow said.
Amy smiled as she headed towards the table. So... they had a staring problem? She pushed her way though the teens on the floor dancing to a Garbage song.
"Uh oh. Here she comes," Buffy said. She quickly turned around as did Willow. She looked to her friends. "Guys, just play it cool, okay? Maybe we can find out what's up with her."
Amy stopped at the table, her eyes steady on the top of Buffy's head. She placed her hands on the table and leaned forward as her eyes shifted over to Xander. Xander squirmed uncomfortably in his chair when Amy's dark eyes fixed on him. Contrary to his usual nature, he did his best not to look down Amy's top, but it was almost impossible.
Willow cleared her throat, deciding to be the one to speak first. "Hi, Amy," she said.
Slowly, Amy shifted her gaze to Willow then narrowed her eyes. She watched Willow swallow hard and sink down a little in her chair. She looked back to Xander.
"I need to talk to you," she sweetly said.
Buffy glanced from Amy to Xander, who looked back at her, panicked. "What about?" she asked.
"That's between me and Xander," Amy shortly replied, not taking her eyes off of him.
Xander didn't know what to say in response. Something about Amy was giving him the wiggins big time. "Uh... I... umm... what did you need to talk about, Amy?" he asked looking up at her.
Amy smiled. "It's for your ears only, Xander. Private." She crooked a finger, her smile growing wider. "Come with me? Please?"
Xander licked his lips then glanced at Buffy. Buffy nodded a little, letting him know they had his back. "Um... yeah, I guess we can talk," he replied as he got to his feet.
"Good," she said as she took Xander's right wrist in her hand. "Come along." She grinned as she led Xander away from the table, towards one of the side exits.
Xander slowed down, jerking Amy to a stop as they reached the side exit. He looked from the door to Amy. "Where are we going?" he asked. He tried to pull him arm back, but Amy's grip was too tight. "Why are we going outside?"
Amy glanced from Xander to Buffy, Oz and Willow across the club. They were pretending not to be watching. "I want to go someplace a little more quiet," she told him. She pushed open the door and added, "I'm not gonna bite you."
"Thank God for small miracles," Xander breathed as he followed Amy into the alleyway.
Willow turned to Buffy. "Are you sure we should let her be alone with him?" Her worried gaze shifted back to the side exit.
Buffy sighed. "We'll give them five minutes. Then I'll go out and check on them."
"Five minutes can be an eternity." Oz looked back to the door.
Xander shoved his hands in his pockets when Amy finally released his wrist. He looked up and down the side alley of the Bronze. Not another soul in sight.
"So... Amy, you wanted to talk to me?"
"Sort of," she replied. She put a hand on his shoulder and turned Xander so he'd face her. "It's easier to do when you look at me," she added.
Xander looked from Amy's hand on his shoulder to her. "Yeah... uh... what is it you wanted?"
"Oh...nothing much," she said as she came closer to him. He backed up and she kept advancing until she had Xander backed up against the wall.
Xander gasped slightly as he pulled his hands out of his pockets. He felt panic wash over him when Amy put her other hand on his cheek. What exactly was going on here?
Amy leaned closer to him. Her long fingernails lightly scraped down Xander's neck. "I want you," she told him in a whisper. Her hand massaged Xander chest then slid back up to his neck. "I _need_ your body, Xander. It's very... important that I have it."
"Uh.... " Xander couldn't find the words to express anything he was feeling. He pressed himself against the wall, but that didn't help. "I... I really don't think so, Amy." He met her gaze. "You... you haven't been fooling around with those love spells again, have you? Because this sorta stuff happened the last time you did."
"No," Amy firmly replied as she pulled her hand back from Xander's throat. She leaned closer, bringing her lips inches from his. "Just come with me..." she whispered. "I can make you... powerful. Immortal."
Xander gave Amy a hefty shove back and took a few steps away from her. What the hell was she talking about? "Look, Amy, I'm fine just the way I am... really," he assured her as he backed away. "Good old, weak and mortal Xander." His hand grasped the handle to the side exit door. "I'm... I've... I'll be going now." Quickly, he slipped back inside the Bronze.
"There he is!" Willow said as Xander hurriedly made his way for the table.
Xander sat down at the table, grabbed the remains of Buffy's drink, then gulped it down in one swig.
Buffy's eyebrows arched in curiosity. "What happened out there?"
Xander clanked the empty glass on the table and looked back at the side door just in time to see Amy come back in. "I'm not entirely sure," he replied turning back to his friends, "But I think I was just sexually harassed."
"What?" Willow's eyes were wide. "What did she do?"
Xander shrugged. "She... was giving me the serious wiggins, that much is certain," he answered. "She told me she needed my body and she could make me immortal. I really think she's losing it, guys."
Buffy sat up straight in her chair as Amy made her way through the crowd. The girl was headed for the doors to leave the Bronze. Xander was right--whatever was happening with Amy Madison surely wasn't good. She feared it would only grow worse.
Amy glared at the other teens as they parted like the Red Sea to let her pass. Stupid morons, she thought. You all will bow to me. You'll fear me. Run, hide and cry like little children.
"Hey, Madison!" called Steve Boyer's voice. The girl stopped. "I didn't know you were a prostitute on the side," he added.
Amy slowly turned around as Steve and his jock friends laughed it up, and she walked towards him. She surprised Steve by putting her arms around him. She smiled when a dark, seductive song began to play.
"Dance with me?" she innocently asked. She let her arms slip from around his neck as she walked backwards, onto the dance floor. She motioned to him with her finger. "Come on."
"I'd say Amy's made a new friend in the form of the football team's captain," Oz said. He pointed towards the dance floor.
"Steve Boyer?!" Buffy exclaimed when she looked in the direction Oz pointed. She blinked, unable to believe her eyes. The moves Amy performed on the dance floor would make dirty dancing look clean.
Amy felt as if she were being watching. Her eyes drifted over to the table where Buffy and the others sat. She frowned a bit then looked back to Steve. They were too nosy for her tastes. They would ruin everything.
"You want to go somewhere more... private?" she asked him.
Steve glanced back to his friends. None of them seemed too thrilled about their friend going anywhere with one of the weirdoes of Sunnydale High. He turned his attention back to Amy. She was now dancing by herself not but two feet away.
"Give me love, so that I can kill.... She... she's unreal..."
"Buffy, maybe we should do something," Willow said, looking to the Slayer. "Clearly, Amy's not herself." She pointed towards Amy who was leaving with Steve. "She hates Steve Boyer and she's leaving with him?"
Buffy got to her feet. "You guys wait here, I'll be right back."
"Oh, you don't have to worry about me following!" Xander called as Buffy weaved her way through the crowd. "I've been violated enough for one night! Thanks!"
Oz put a hand on one of Willow's. "Amy's going to be fine," he said.
Willow couldn't find the same faith that Oz had. He was always so calm and positive in situations like this. She looked over her shoulder to see Buffy disappear out of the Bronze.
"Amy!" Buffy called as she came out of the club. She searched the immediate area, but neither Amy nor Steve were around. "Have you seen Amy Madison?" she asked a group of kids who were loitering outside of the Bronze.
"That way," said one of the kids pointing behind Buffy.
Buffy whirled around just in time to see Steve's red convertible tear down the alley, away from the Bronze. "Amy!" she yelled as she jogged a little ways after the car. She stopped when the car disappeared around the corner. "Dammit!" she swore. She ran back inside.
"What happened?" Willow eagerly asked as Buffy rejoined them.
"She and Steve drove off in his car," Buffy breathed. "I have no idea where they could've gone."
"We could drive around in the van, try to find them," Oz suggested.
"Yeah, that's a good idea," Buffy replied, looking to Oz.
"Let me tell Devon." Oz got up and left the table.
"Why do we want to find them?" Xander asked.
"Because, Xander, Amy's not acting normally," Willow told him. "And she could be dangerous to herself. Or someone else."
Buffy nodded. "And I'm betting more on the latter, Willow." She sighed, wishing Oz would hurry up.
Sunnydale High School Monday Morning
Amy held the strap to her bookbag tightly as she slowly strolled down the hallway. She could feel all of the eyes on her. Every single student in the hall that morning stared at her, and she could hear them whispering as well.
She knew what they thought of her. They thought she was evil. So did the police when they came to her house on Saturday afternoon. But she didn't know anything then, and she didn't now. Swallowing hard, she made her way over to her locker.
The kids immediately parted as she reached out for her dial. "Excuse me," she softly said, glancing at one of the girls.
Don't let them know it bothers you, Amy, she told herself. Just ignore them. Pretend they aren't even there.
Further down the hallway, Buffy and Willow watched what happened. Buffy could hear certain words slip out from the whisperers around her. Words like "murderer" and "killer". Buffy didn't know what to think, but she knew somehow, what happened to Steve Boyer on Friday night was her fault.
"I called Amy about twenty times this weekend," Willow said to Buffy. "Her dad said she wouldn't take any calls. He's really worried about her, too, Buffy. He said she's been acting really... creepy." She frowned. "One time when I called, the cops were there. Questioning her about Friday night."
The bell rang and the students began to clear the halls, headed for their classes.
Amy casually glanced over her shoulder a few times, watching the other students leave. She was relieved the bell had rang. The stares were becoming too much to handle.
"I'll see you later, Will," Buffy said, patting Willow on the arm. She looked up the hallway to Amy. "I want to talk to her myself."
"Okay," Willow replied. She looked up the hallway to Amy once more. "Good luck, Buffy." She waved then headed off for her own class.
Amy jumped a little as she shut her locker. She grasped her books to keep them from falling out of her hands. She flicked her gaze over to Buffy. "Yes?" she quietly asked.
"Hey... are you feeling okay, Amy?"
Amy shrugged a little. "I'm not really sure how I am lately," she replied. "I don't know why when Steve Boyer gets murdered, everyone's pointing the finger at me." She tucked her black hair behind an ear, sniffling. "I wasn't even at the Bronze on Friday night, Buffy."
Buffy blinked, bewildered at that comment. "Um... Amy, you were at the Bronze. Half the student body saw you there. _I_ saw you there. You talked to me."
Amy shook her head. "I was at home, Buffy, because I haven't been feeling well." Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "How could I have talked to you?"
Buffy sighed. She decided to try a different approach. "Look, Amy... if Steve tried something on you after you left with him--"
"Left with him?" Amy broke in, her voice almost a shriek. "Steve Boyer???"
Buffy nodded. "Amy... maybe he tried something, and maybe you defended yourself," she softly continued. She paused. "Something happened. You should come forward, tell the police."
Amy shook her head, becoming frustrated with Buffy's accusations. "But I didn't do anything!" she exclaimed.
"Amy, I know the cops ruled you out as a suspect because of how Steve was killed," Buffy went on. "They'd never think a girl your size could snap his neck in two." She placed a hand on Amy's shoulder, attempting to keep her calm. "Maybe you used a spell and it got out of control?"
Amy pushed Buffy's hand off as she took a giant step backwards. Her eyes darkened as she narrowed them at Buffy. "I'm not gonna stand around and let you accuse me of murder, Buffy!" she snapped. "I didn't do anything. I never even saw him Friday night!" She whirled around and started to walk away.
"Amy!" Buffy grabbed the girl's arm. "I only want to help you."
Amy whirled around, growling something in a foreign language. She backhanded Buffy hard, sending the Slayer slamming up against the lockers. Buffy slid to the floor, cringing from the pain. She put her hands on the floor, looking up in shock and surprise at Amy. Amy snarled something else in the same language then she stormed off down the hallway.
Buffy blinked a few times. She could only stare at Amy's retreating figure, perplexed by what just happened. She shook her head, wincing a little at the pain in her back.
"Oh... this is bad," she muttered as she got to her feet. She had to tell Giles.
Buffy rushed up the hallway, throwing open the doors of the library as she entered. "Giles, I was just in the hall with Amy," she said as she entered, "And something is seriously wrong with her." She came to an abrupt halt when she saw Cyril Zahn in the library with Giles. Each man wore a grim expression. Not good. "Um... what's going on?"
Giles approached her. "Buffy, we have an extremely serious situation on our hands."
"Yeah, I know." Buffy motioned to the doors. "Amy's freakin' nutsoid."
"I was referring to the murder of the boy, Steve Boyer," Giles replied.
Buffy frowned then glanced at Zahn. "Huh? What about it?"
Zahn came over to where Buffy and Giles stood. "The papers left out something pertaining to the murder of the kid," he said. "Something big."
"Well, I don't know what could be bigger than someone getting killed."
"Perhaps _how_ the person was killed," Giles said.
"We know how he was killed. Someone snapped his neck in two, just like the two guards at the museum."
"There was something else about all three murders that was never released," Zahn told her. "All three of the victims... they all had their major organs ripped from their bodies."
Buffy looked from Zahn to Giles. "Okay," she slowly said. "That was like major 'ewww'." She made a face then said to Zahn, "You should warn someone before saying stuff like that."
"I'm sorry, Buffy," Zahn apologized. He cleared his throat as he walked back over to the table. "Every major organ was removed." He looked back to her. "Even the brain. Oddly enough, the brain was removed by the ancient Egyptian method - through the nose."
Buffy held up a hand. "All right, back up," she interrupted. "What did I _just_ say about telling me disgusting murder details?"
"I apologize once more, Buffy," Zahn said. He sighed.
"Not that I'm purposely trying to be difficult, but my life's hard enough with Amy freaking out. Then you come along with this sort of grossness." She looked to Giles. "Amy's massively wiggin' on us, Giles. She's had this drastic change in personality, not to mention that new found friendship with Miss Clairol. Then there's the superhuman strength and the spouting of a strange language--"
Zahn perked up a little. "Strange language?"
Buffy half-nodded. "Yeah. When Amy got weird in the hallway a minute ago, she spoke some strange language I've never heard."
"Can you remember anything she said, Buffy?" Giles asked.
Buffy scratched her forehead as she tried to recall it. "Well..." she finally said. "The only words I can remember are... anck-su-namun. Whatever that is."
"Anck-su-namun?" Giles repeated. He shook his head. "No word I've ever--" His sentence dropped off when he saw that Zahn's face had drained of blood. "What's the matter?"
Cyril got up and headed for the library doors. "I.... I'll be back later this afternoon, Rupert," he absently said. "I have to go... do something..." He left.
Buffy raised an eyebrow. "Okay. Your friend's acting very strange, Giles. Is that a bad thing?"
Giles shrugged. "I've never seen him act like this before."
Buffy groaned. "This is just not my week."
Underneath Sunnydale High
Under the feet of the Slayer and all her annoying little friends, Anck-su-namun, inhabiting the body of Amy Madison, had made her home inside the remnants of the old church, and the former lair the powerful vampire referred to as The Master. It was the perfect spot for many reasons, but the most important being it was right on top of the opening of the Hellmouth. The ritual she needed to perform to bring Imhotep's soul out of Hell would be much easier here.
Also with her in the underground lair were quite a few of Sunnydale's nocturnal residents. Anck-su-namun found that Amy's power as a witch was very useful in other ways as well. A simple spell put a few of these undead creatures, ones that had not fled upon her arrival in Sunnydale, under her command.
Useless was all they really turned out to be. For the last day, the vampires had been doing her bidding, searching for the key for the Book. No luck at all in discovering who had it. She could feel it. That key was in Sunnydale.
Sitting cross-legged on top of a crumbling stone alter which was surrounded by candles, Anck-su-namun struggled with the latches which securely held the Book of the Dead shut. She growled in frustration, muttered a few curses in ancient Egyptian and threw the book across the lair. It hit one of her undead flunkies in the head.
"Watch it!" the vampire snarled, rubbing his head where the Book had smacked him.
Anck-su-namun narrowed her eyes at the vampire then waved an index finger at him. The very motion made it back off. It knew better than to anger her. A smart vampire. They were few and far between.
"I need my key," she hissed in English so the vampires could understand her while she complained. Her eyes darkened, but one could hardly tell because of the massive amounts of blue eyeshadow, outlined in black, already on her eyelids. She gritted her teeth. "And that Slayer, the little bitch does not mind her own business. She will need to be destroyed very soon before she ruins my plans."
"I'll gladly kill the Slayer for you," said one of the vampires, stepping forward. It chuckled. "I'll rip her apart, suck the marrow from her bones and bring you the pieces, my mistress."
Anck-su-namun laughed almost hysterically at the vampire's declaration. "This Slayer could kill you with both her hands tied behind her back, fool," she snapped at the vampire. "I know this one rather well. Many a demon has been sent back to Hell because of her."
The vampire bowed its head as it stepped away from Anck-su-namun.
Anck-su-namun smoothed her hands over the traditional white Egyptian style ankle length robes she wore. So wonderful to wear such lovely clothing, unlike the outfit that Seti once forced her to don as his mistress. Her anger welled up once more upon the thought of Seti, the man to blame for the mess she was currently in.
"I just want my key," she snapped. She laid back on the stone alter, a smile slowly creeping to her face as she thought of Imhotep. "Once I have my key, and release my love from his prison.... " She stretched her arms over her head, groaning softly.
"Um.... don't you need the boy for that?" one of the vampires said.
Anck-su-namun turned her head to glare at the idiot who had interrupted her thoughts. "In due time," she evenly responded. She smiled as she looked up at the ceiling above, thinking of how she would have what she wanted. Once Imhotep was free, the entire world would suffer what they had for over 3,000 years.
Library After School
"Buffy, have you seen Amy today?"
Buffy turned away from her locker as Willow joined her in the busy hallway after school. "No, I haven't seen her since this morning," she answered. She recalled the strange incident, but remained quiet. Willow was worried enough about Amy as it was. "Why?"
"I heard she wasn't in any of her classes." She frowned as Buffy slammed her locker shut. "I know she's not having a very good week... I mean, being the main suspect in someone's murder isn't very fun."
Buffy swallowed, looking down at the floor as she remembered Kendra's death. "Yeah, I know," she quietly said.
Willow mentally kicked herself for saying something so stupid. "Oh.. yeah... that... well, you know I didn't mean anything by that. Because we all know how that happened...." She let the issue drop when Buffy made no move to stop her. "So... "
"I was on my way to the library," Buffy said, pretending like the Kendra issue never made it's way to her conscious mind. "Giles and his friend Cyril are supposed to have some answers for us."
"About the robbery/murder at the museum?"
Buffy shrugged. "Guess so. Cyril ran out of the library white as a sheet this morning." She glanced at Willow, deciding not to elaborate. She and Willow entered the library to find Cyril with Giles along with Faith. "Faith?" Buffy looked to Giles. "What's going on?"
A moment before Giles could reply, Xander came into the library and stopped behind Buffy and Willow.
"Hey, what's with the crowd? I feel like I'm at a Trekkie convention," he greeted. He noticed Faith, but he didn't ask why she was there.
"Oh... school is over already?" Giles said. He checked his watch, amazed that it was so late in the afternoon. "Well... time does fly..."
"Yeah, we're all stoked about it," Buffy said as she came further into the library. "Not to sound rude, but why is Faith here?"
Giles glanced over his shoulder at Cyril, his friend's expression equally as grim. "With the problem we've got, Buffy, an extra Slayer wouldn't be unappreciated."
"Do you know what's going on?" Xander asked of Faith.
Faith shrugged as she leaned against the counter. "No idea. Just got here, actually."
"What's happening?" Willow inquired as she came further into the library.
"You friend, Amy," Cyril started. He sighed heavily, almost pained to continue. "She's in very serious trouble, Willow. It's trouble that's spanned over three millennia."
"Oh... I don't like the sound of this one already," Xander grumbled.
Cyril ignored Xander's comment and went on. "I believe your friend is possessed by the spirit of Anck-su-namun. She was the mistress of Seti the First, an Egyptian pharaoh."
Buffy and the other kids listened carefully as Zahn recounted the story that Jonathan Carnahan told him about Anck-su-namun and her lover, Imhotep, high priest of Seti The First, Imhotep's return to earth back in the late 1920's, and the eventual death of the both of them... as a result of the actions of Evelyn Carnahan, her brother, and Rick O'Connell, an American.
"Okay... that's a lovely story," Buffy said when Zahn finished. "I think it'd make a wonderful movie."
"I think it was," Xander mused.
"Whatever," Buffy grumbled. She switched her attention back to Zahn and Giles. "But how did this Anck...su... whoever get out of Hell?"
"I believe she managed to escape during the shift in the Hellmouth," Giles replied.
"Why would she pick Amy to possess?" asked Willow.
"Amy is a natural witch," Giles thoughtfully answered. He shoved his hands in his coat pockets. "A practicer of advanced magicks. She's a logical choice. She possesses much power for Anck-su-namun to feed off of. Power... um... she would need to raise Imhotep from the dead."
Faith held up a hand. "Whoa, wait. Didn't you--" She pointed to Zahn. "--just say in your story that only this Imhotep priest character could do this raisin' of the dead thing?"
"It would appear that Anck-su-namun picked up a few new tricks whilst in Hell the last 70 years," Zahn told Faith.
"Ok, question: How can Anck-su-namun raise Imhotep from the dead without his rotting old carcass?" Buffy asked. "I mean... not for nothing... but I'm sure he'd like a body to go with his world domination."
"Theoretically, she doesn't need Imhotep's body, just a host for his ka," Zahn said. He turned a solemn gaze to Xander. "Which she's already picked out."
Xander's eyes went wide as he pointed to himself. "Me?" he managed to squeak out. He shook his head as he took a few steps back. "Oooohhh, no. Not me. I'm not the high priest ka hosting type, really. My body's not that great. Right, Buffy?" He nervously chuckled. "I'm all wrong for it. And I'm not accomplishing much with this breakdown, am I?"
Faith patted Xander on the shoulder. "She's singled you out, pal."
Xander groaned as he leaned over on the counter, burying his face in the palms of his hands.
Buffy turned back to Zahn. "You mentioned in the story that Jonathan Carnahan told you that they'd defeated Imhotep by... de-souling him. Using some other book."
Zahn nodded. "Yes. The Book of Amun-Ra exorcised the soul from Imhotep's body. Without his cursed soul, the body was mortal. Able to be killed."
"Great." Buffy felt relieved that something out there could get rid of this ancient lady's soul. "Where exactly do we find that?"
"Well, the other Book was lost during Jonathan's escape from Hamunaptra," Zahn replied. "It's probably still out there...somewhere. They... they never fund it on the dig that unearthed the Book of the Dead." He saw the hope of Buffy's face wash away. "But... there is another way."
"If we kill Anck-su-namun, her soul goes back to Hell."
"Wait," Faith said after letting the words sink in. "Kill her? If we kill her, don't we also kill the chick she's inhabiting?"
Zahn nodded. "Yes."
Faith looked to Giles. "I'm betting you're not hopping to try this idea, are you?"
Willow stepped forward, her face stern. "We're not killing Amy!" she firmly told them. She looked to Zahn. "There's got to be another way."
"I'm afraid there is no other way, Willow," Zahn quietly replied.
Xander, who'd been fretfully pacing during most of the conversation, stopped and looked to the others. "This Anck-su-namun has taken over, right?" he said. "So it's not even Amy anymore."
"Amy's soul is still inside the body, co-inhabiting with Anck-su-namun," Giles explained. "Which is why she cannot remember things that Anck-su-namun did in her body when Anck-su-namun was the dominant consciousness. She... needs Imhotep to remove Amy's soul from the body."
"And she needs me in order to raise her dead priest boyfriend," Xander went on. "Guys, I really don't want to be taken over by somebody's cursed soul."
Buffy turned to Xander. "So are you saying we should kill Amy then?"
Xander held out a hand to Zahn. "The guy's done said we've run out of options, Buff," he defensively replied. "What else is there to do?"
"Imhotep's soul cannot be allowed to return to earth," Zahn informed them. He looked at each person in the room. "Since his soul still carries the curse of the Hom-Dai, he will be invincible when he's reborn in a living body. Humankind will have no hope of survival."
"Glad someone's still seeing the bright side here," Faith said after a moment of awkward silence.
Giles cleared his throat. "Well... um.. we still hae some time to figure out... a plan of some sort," he said. "Xander is... is safely with us."
"And the key is with me," Cyril added bringing out the octagon shaped box.
The doors to the library flew open, surprising everyone. Amy, or actually Anck-su-namun, stormed in, a determined expression on her face. She shoved Giles out of her way. Her super-human strength propelled him over the counter where he landed on the floor with a thud.
"Giles!" Buffy cried out.
Anck-su-namun narrowed her eyes at the Slayer then focused her attention on Zahn. "The key," she hissed. She started across the library, headed for him. "That belongs to me!"
Buffy launched herself at Anck-su-namun, tackling her to the floor. It was a confusing fight since the flowing robes Anck-su-namun wore wrapped themselves around her and the Slayer. Once Anck-su-namun had the chance, she punched Buffy in the face, sending the girl hurtling backwards. Buffy bowled over Xander and Willow, who were both standing out of the way.
"Buffy, are you all right?" Willow asked as she kneeled down to her friend. Buffy wasn't moving much.
Anck-su-namun got to her feet then glared back at Willow. She whipped around, headed for Zahn once more. She only got two steps before Faith flung an arm around Anck-su-namun's neck, seizing her in a headlock.
"Where ya going?" Faith growled as she tightened her grip on the other girl. "We haven't had the chance to dance, you know. I'm feelin' left out."
"Rrrrrah!" Anck-su-namun growled, She leaned over, struggling with the second Slayer. How was this girl so strong? She managed to throw Faith over her shoulder, slamming the other girl down on the floor onto her back.
Faith grunted as she felt all the wind get knocked out of her. She stared up at Anck-su-namun unable to move.
"Now, you die," Anck-su-namun snarled. She picked up a foot, preparing to smash in Faith's face.
"Don't think so," Buffy's voice shortly said. A fierce kick hit Anck-su-namun from behind, the power of it sent her stumbling forward. She slammed into Zahn and the both of them tumbled over the table together onto the floor. In the tumble, Zahn lost his grip on the key and it fell out of his hand.
"Faith, are you okay?" Buffy asked, looking down on her.
Faith grasped her side as she rolled over in an attempt to get up. "Yeah, I'm five by five, Buffy," she muttered. She nodded in the direction that Anck-su-namun had gone when Buffy'd kicked her. "Don't worry about me. Get that ancient Egyptian bitch!"
Anck-su-namun pushed herself to her knees as Zahn groaned. Her eyes fell on the key just inches from her. She grinned. "It's mine," she whispered. Quickly, she snatched it up then got to her feet. As she tried to flee, she jerked to a halt and looked down. Zahn had a hold of her ankle.
"I can't let you take that," he said, shaking his head.
"Let go of me, you pathetic mortal!" she snarled in her ancient language. She kicked Zahn in the face. Once he let go of her, Anck-su-namun easily slid over the table top. She gave Buffy an open palm hit to her solar plexus, sending the Slayer backwards. "Out of my way!" She was well on her way to the door when Xander stepped in her path.
He swallowed hard when Anck-su-namun came to a halt. "I can't let you leave with that," he evenly said, motioning to the key in her hand.
Anck-su-namun seized Xander by the throat. "You are right. I am forgetting something." She punched him with her free hand, knocking Xander out. With her super-human strength, she picked up Xander and left the library without even looking back.
Zahn groaned as he pushed himself up off of the floor. He saw the others, equally as battered from the encounter with Anck-su-namun. But no Xander. He felt all his hope draining away.
"She got away," he muttered as he grabbed the edge of the table. He hauled himself to his feet. "She's got the key and the kid." He met Giles' gaze.
Giles sighed heavily. "I... I suppose there is no choice now." He looked to Buffy. "Anck-su-namun has everything she needs. We must find her before she performs the spell... and kill her."
"I'm all right," Faith grumbled when Willow tried to get a look at the cut on her forearm.
Willow turned around to Giles when she heard what he'd said. "But Amy's still in the body with her, Giles," she protested. "We can't kill Amy."
"I'm sorry, Will, but it's the only way," Buffy said, coming over to her. "There are five billion people on this planet. You know we can't allow Imhotep's cursed soul back into the world."
"We should find her and quickly," Giles said. He headed for the bookcage and opened up the weapons locker. "She couldn't have gotten far," he went on as Faith and Buffy both took crossbows from it.
Willow sighed as she looked down at the floor. She knew they were right. Amy was as good as gone now. Xander, though, he could still be saved. She glanced over to Faith and Buffy who checked over their weapons.
Zahn came into the book cage. "Clever," he remarked, nodding to the set up Giles had with the locker in the cage. "But I know this isn't where you have the good stuff."
"No," Giles replied as he pulled out a hand-axe then looked to Zahn. "I keep that at home."
"I'm going with you," Willow said as she came over to them. She saw the look on Buffy's face, knowing her friend was going to object.
"Willow, you've seen how powerful Anck-su-namun is," Giles replied as he turned to her. "I don't have to worry as much about Faith and Buffy in this fight. You've...no weapons training."
Willow motioned to Zahn. "Well... _he's_ going."
Zahn reached into the back of the weapons locker. He yanked out a shiny, well cared for short sword. He held up the sword, studying the edges then lightly ran his thumb down one side.
"She'll be fine if she sticks by me, Rupert," he said. He looked at his friend. "We don't have time to sit around and argue about this. We must find her." When Giles nodded, he went on. "She'll need time to prepare, we have a small window to work with. We should use the time wisely." ------
Master's old lair
Xander could stop himself from shaking. It was rather dreary and a bit cold underground, but it wasn't the cold making him tremble. The fact he was soon to be sacrificed and made host to an evil high priest, that was.
He squirmed on the altar Anck-su-namun had placed him on while he was unconscious. Twisting around, fighting against the ropes that bound his arms to his sides and his legs together, Xander got a better look at the room.
Anck-su-namun hadn't done much with the place since moving in. It was just a crappy as it was when the Master lived there. He remembered when Buffy had died there... it seemed so very long ago now. Ancient history. Which was what he'd become if he didn't get out of there soon.
"HELP!" he yelled. Only his echo replied. He grunted. "HELP! BUFFY!" Still no answer.
"Shut your mouth, boy," snarled one of the vampires coming up to the altar. It's ugly, demon-y face stared down at Xander as it bared its fangs. "Nobody's gonna hear you down here and screaming bugs me. Well, when it's not my dinner screaming, that is." It chuckled.
"You guys are gonna be sorry when Buffy gets here," Xander said, trying to sound menacing, but he knew he wasn't fooling this vamp. "Odds are, she's bringing Faith along... oh yeah. Won't I be the one laughing then when two Slayers are staking the entire lot of you!" He tried to laugh, but it died quickly.
The vampire snarled at him. "What does it take to shut you up?" It grabbed Xander by the ropes and pulled him closer. "Maybe I should tear your throat out? That'd make talking hard, wouldn't it?"
"Let him go!" Anck-su-namun ordered as she gave the vampire a shove. Her push sent the vampire flying up against the far wall. She narrowed her eyes at the dissenter. "He is not here for you to play with." She flashed the same glare at the other vampires guarding her hideout. "Or any of you. You are here to kill anyone who may try to stop me."
The vampires muttered their recognition of their duties there.
Anck-su-namun looked upon Xander as she placed a hand to his forehead. "It will not be long now," she told him in a soothing voice. "And I promise you, you will not feel very much pain." She let out a long sigh as she closed her eyes. "I tire of this parasite in my body... this soul filled with feelings of friendship towards you and your mortal companions." Her eyes fluttered open as she removed her hand from Xander. "I need to rest."
Xander watched Anck-su-namun take labored steps away from the alter. Finally, she sat down. "Is something wrong?" he asked. Not that he really cared about her welfare, just that she was the only thing keeping these vampires from eating him.
"Need time... to prepare... for.. the ceremony," she breathlessly replied. She leaned back against the cold wall.
Xander's fingers fumbled around, hoping to find the knot in these ropes. If Buffy and the others didn't find him soon, all would be lost. And it was obvious they wouldn't reach him in time, so he'd have to do what he could to save himself.
"Really? Prepare. What all happens during this ceremony?" he asked, faking an interest. If he could get her talking about that, maybe that would distract her from what he was trying to do. "Lots of chanting? That sort of thing?"
"I must call upon the Book... to help me free Imhotep's soul," Anck-su-namun replied, her voice still quiet. "And when his soul is free, he will enter your body... " She paused to look at Xander. "Then I sacrifice your soul to take his place... in Hell."
Xander's fingers froze in their attempts to work out the knot and he swallowed hard. He carefully shifted his gaze over to Anck-su-namun. "Sacrifice my soul... to Hell?" he whispered.
Anck-su-namun produced a long knife with a golden blade and an intricately decorated hilt from behind her back. Slowly, she rose to her feet, holding the knife up so Xander could see it. "Once I do that, Imhotep will be free...." She smiled. "And we will rule this world together." She slipped the knife under Xander's chin. "I must begin now... it will take much coaxing for the Hellmouth to open up for me."
Xander let out a shaky breath when Anck-su-namun removed the blade from his throat. Open up the Hellmouth? he thought. Okay, good time to start panicking, Harris.
He twisted around on the altar again when he heard a click from the other side of the room. Anck-su-namun held up the open key then placed it into the lock on the Book of the Dead. After a few short twists, the latches retracted. A chilling wind swept through the lair as Anck-su-namun opened up the ancient Book of the Dead. Her eyes were wild with excitement as she ran her hands over the inscriptions chiseled onto those black pages.
"Soon..." she whispered as her fingers wrapped around the edges of the Book. "Very soon..."
"I don't get this," Buffy said as she shook her head. "Anck-su-namun could not have gotten far, especially lugging Xander around." She gestured up and down the deserted street. Dark was falling fast on Sunnydale. "We've been looking for almost an hour."
"I don't understand it either," Giles agreed. The group stopped.
"This chick's gotta be close to getting her preparation stuff done," Faith said. She rubbed her arm, where the cut she'd received in her fight with Anck-su-namun had already healed. "I'm just dying for some payback on this bitch."
Willow, however, was more concerned for Xander. Then everyone else in the world if they failed. She wondered if she would see Oz again before everything ended? Would she be able to tell him how much she loved him. She wished he wasn't in L.A. on a gig with his band.
"Do you really think Anck-su-namun can bring Imhotep's soul back, Dr. Zahn?" Willow asked looking over to him.
Zahn exchanged a look with Giles then turned his attention to Willow. "I never took much of this mythology seriously before, Willow," he replied. "But... I'm afraid I believe this. I think she can."
"What if this Jonathan was spinning some yarn to entertain some stupid college kid?" Buffy asked. She froze momentarily then quickly tacked on, "Uh... sorry, I didn't mean anything bad by that."
Willow nodded, some hope of saving Amy returning. "Hey... and you did say that he drank a lot."
Faith looked to Giles. "Have you ever heard this mummy story before?"
Giles gave Zahn a quick glance. "W-well, I've certainly heard the story about... about Hamunaptra, but never anything about the Carnahans and an American saving the world."
"Ha!" Willow snapped her fingers. "See? There. Giles has heard of every strange thing that's ever happened and he's never heard of this."
Giles saw the expression on Zahn's face. "Uh... well, that's... that's true, Willow, but just because I've never heard this particular story doesn't mean it didn't happen."
Buffy nodded, thoughtful. "Yeah. We've done a lot of world saving in our time and it isn't exactly public knowledge."
"And it also doesn't explain the drastic change in your friend's behavior," Zahn added.
Before anyone could utter another word, the ground beneath their feet rumbled. It wasn't violent. Slowly, it subsided.
Zahn kneeled down as he placed his hand to the sidewalk. He looked up at Giles. "That wasn't a regular earth tremor," he said. He stood straight.
"No," Giles agreed. "That was the Hellmouth. There could be another mystical shift on the horizon."
"I thought you said those only happen every hundred years?" Faith said.
"Yeah," Buffy chimed in as she looked to her Watcher. "How could there be two in one week?"
"Well, there can't... unless..."
"Unless someone wants to _make_ it open," Willow finished for Giles. "That's it... she's got to be near the Hellmouth somewhere. It makes sense, right? To be as close as she can when Imhotep's soul hops on up out of Hell."
"Yes, it does," said Giles.
"So, where is that?" Zahn asked.
Buffy turned around, looking back in the direction of the school. "A lot closer than you think."
Anck-su-namun lowered her hands as she turned around. The Hellmouth was giving way. Soon, she would be able to bring Imhotep's soul back. She focused her attention on Xander, bringing up the knife as the same moment.
"It is time," she announced. Slowly she raised up the knife.
The vampires growled as the Hellmouth rumbled again, but they did not run.
"Gee, this looks really neat," said a voice. "Can we join in?"
"Huh?" One of the vampires turned around. "You!" That was as much as it got out before Buffy fired a crossbow bolt into the vampire's chest.
Anck-su-namun's head jerked up. She hissed as she saw one of her vampire guards dust, revealing the Slayer and her friends. "Don't just stand there!" she yelled at the other vampires. She pointed to Buffy. "Kill them!"
Faith and Buffy exchanged a look. "Somehow, I knew it wouldn't be that easy," Faith said.
"It never is," Buffy sighed in reply.
"Buffy, you and Faith do what you can to stop Anck-su-namun," Giles ordered. He took a quick moment to watch the advancing force of vampires. "We'll handle this."
The blade of a sword slashed two inches to the left by Giles head, then the roar of a vamp dusting followed. Zahn half-grinned when Giles looked at him in surprise. "Still watching your back, Rupert," he said.
"Come on, B," Faith said. "Let's go kick that body-swipin' bitch's ass." Buffy followed Faith down to where the altar was.
"Buffy! I knew you'd come! I hadn't the slightest doubt in my mind!" Xander smiled widely as he struggled with the ropes. "Get me out of here!"
"Rrrraaah!" Anck-su-namun charged the two Slayers, her knife poised above her head.
"Get out of the way!" Faith pushed Buffy aside then raised up her crossbow to Anck-su-namun. As Faith's finger pressed the button to release the bolt, Anck-su-namun ripped it from her hands. She ducked down when Anck-su-namun tried to hit her in the head with the crossbow then punched her in the gut.
"Ooff!" The crossbow flew out of Anck-su-namun's hand and slammed against the wall, breaking. She snarled as she tackled Faith to the ground. "Bitch!" She raised the knife, trying her best to stab the Slayer.
Buffy got up from the ground. She saw Faith rolling around, fighting off Anck-su-namun the best she could. This was her chance to free Xander. Faith could hold her own.
"Xander, hold on," Buffy said as she set her crossbow on the altar. She took hold of the ropes and used her strength to snap them. She heard a cry from Faith and turned around. Anck-su-namun had slashed her friend's upper right arm with the knife. "Faith!"
"Uhh... Buffy? Finishing the untying of the sacrifice would be helpful!" Xander exclaimed when Buffy stopped in her work to check on Faith.
"I will be merciful and send you to Hell now," Anck-su-namun growled as she raised the knife on Faith. She grunted when Buffy tackled her off Faith and they rolled onto the ground together.
"Rupert, look out!"
Giles whirled around in time to see a vampire making its leap for him. He brought the hand-axe around, catching the creature in the chest. The vamp fell to the ground, screaming in pain.
"Stake!" he called out.
"Right with you." Zahn tossed one to Giles who neatly caught it then he plunged it into the vampire's chest. "These vamps, funny they're working with Anck-su-namun," he commented as he beheaded one of them. He turned to Giles. "Don't you think?"
Giles picked up his axe from the pile of dust, dragging his forearm over his head as he rose to his feet. "Perhaps she's bewitched them," he sighed. His eyes widened as he pointed. "Cyril!"
Zahn pivoted on his heels, seeing the vampire making it charge for him. "Willow, move!"
He pushed the girl aside and out of the path of the vamp. She fell to the ground hard. The vampire was unable to stop himself and grunted as it impaled itself on the end of Zahn's sword. Zahn twisted the sword then gave it a shove.
"Hurts... doesn't it?" he said to the vamp. He grinned as he pulled out another stake. "I'll make it stop." He drove the stake into the vamp's chest and stepped back, withdrawing the sword as the vampire dusted.
"That was close," Giles said. He held out a hand to Willow and helped her up. "You all right, Willow?"
She rubbed her back. "Yeah, I think so," she replied. She glanced around. "Did we kill all of them?"
Zahn nodded. "We got'em."
"What about Anck-su-namun?"
Anck-su-namun threw Buffy off of her, then kicked Faith as Faith charged her. She sent the second Slayer flying across the room and slamming against an already crumbling pillar. Faith dropped to the ground, groaning.
Buffy rolled over, snatching up her own crossbow as she did so. "I'm really bored of you," she said as she took aim on Anck-su-namun. "Time to go back to Hell." She fired the bolt at her. To Buffy's shock, Anck-su-namun easily snatched the bolt out of the air then tossed it aside. "Oh that is like so not cool!" she exclaimed.
Anck-su-namun approached Buffy as the Slayer hurried to load another bolt into the crossbow. She kicked the bow out of Buffy's hands, then seized the girl by her hair and pulled her up to her feet.
"It is I who am bored of you, Slayer!" she snarled as placed the knife to Buffy's throat. "You should not have interfered!"
Buffy grunted. "Sorry, that's sort of my job," she replied. "Making sure evil bitches like you don't raise their boyfriends from the dead then summarily wreck havoc on the world." She elbowed Anck-su-namun in the chest. When Anck-su-namun let go of Buffy's hair and doubled over, Buffy knocked her flat on her back with a spin kick.
"Slayers," Buffy said as she looked at Anck-su-namun struggling on the ground. "Hmm." She picked up the knife then returned her attention to the girl writhing on the floor. "We don't just kill vampires anymore. I read the fine print."
Anck-su-namun's hands stretched out over her head. Before Buffy could finish her off, Anck-su-namun grabbed the rather large stone block from the ground then hurled it at the Slayer. Buffy only had time to let out a gasp before the block slammed into her, knocking her off her feet and all the wind out of her.
Anck-su-namun snatched up the knife from the ground and headed back for the altar where Xander feverishly worked to free himself. "I will finish this!" she shouted. She looked up to Willow, Zahn and Giles watching from the other side of the room. Holding the knife up, she shouted out a final phrase in ancient Egyptian.
The Hellmouth rumbled loudly. A crack formed within it, allowing the red and yellow glow of the misery contained below to peek out. During this moment, a black shadow slipped from the crack. It floated high above, swirling around the room... a maniacal cackle followed it.
"Yes!" Anck-su-namun cried out happily as she gazed up at the shadow. "Yes, my love! You are free!" She called out more in ancient Egyptian.
"Oh... my... God," Giles said. "We're too late."
"No need to tell God, old man," Zahn ruefully replied. "He already knows."
Willow looked from Anck-su-namun over to Giles and Zahn. "There's no way we can stop her? There's got to be!"
"Not without the Book of Amun-Ra, Willow." Zahn dropped his sword to the ground, giving up the fight.
"I'm not letting her win!" Willow shouted at Zahn and Giles. She gave Zahn a hefty push to get his attention. "Think of something! Now! You talked to one of the people who destroyed them before! THINK!"
Jonathan, Zahn thought as he watched the shadowy figure of Imhotep's ka dive into Xander's body, I'm sorry I failed you.
Anck-su-namun finished the last of her ceremony in her language, "You will be reborn!"
"Goddammit!" Willow uncharacteristically swore when neither Giles nor Zahn made a move to do anything against Anck-su-namun. She held up her hand, open palm, towards Anck-su-namun. Her face twisted up into total concentration.
Buffy groaned as she propped herself up on her elbow. She winced in pain as she put a hand to her ribcage. She knew a few were broken. Her eyes drifted up to what Anck-su-namun was now doing. She was about to plunge the knife into Xander to complete her ceremony. Buffy attempted to get up, but all the pain from her injuries stopped her.
"Prepare for us, mortal world!" Anck-su-namun laughed. Then she brought the knife down on Xander. But nothing happened. "What?" She looked around the altar then at her empty hands. Her knife had disappeared!
"Hey! You... ancient evil lady!" Willow's voice tauntingly called from across the room. She grinned when Anck-su-namun's head snapped up, her eyes narrowing. "You lose this?" She proudly held up the knife by the hilt. She looked over to Zahn and Giles, both were stunned. "If I could do it with a pencil, a sacrificial knife couldn't be that much harder."
Anck-su-namun stepped around the altar and pointed a menacing finger at Willow. "You will give that back, or die!" she yelled.
"Huh... well, that's not much of a threat, lady, because I'm gonna die either way!" Willow countered. She held up the knife by blade and hilt with the thumb and forefinger of both hands. She uttered a phrase of magick then brought her hands together. The golden knife vanished! "Can't do much without _that_ now, can you?"
The Hellmouth rumbled violently.
"Maybe not about that, but I don't think she's our biggest worry anymore," Zahn said, motioning to the Hellmouth. "Doesn't look like it's gonna close on it's own, Rupert!"
"We have to send them back to Hell in order for it to close!" Giles yelled over the growing roar of the Hellmouth. "And how do we bloody do that?"
"I don't know, Rupert, I--" Zahn stopped as a memory flashed through his mind. It wasn't something in passing, this was an in-your-face memory that grabbed his attention.
'Listen closely,' the raspy voice of Jonathan Carnahan filled his mind. The vision of the aged man sitting across from him at the table in the tavern was crystal clear. 'I know for a bloody fact those ancient Egyptian curses and spells work. It was one that sent Imhotep to Hell. I tell you, lad, I'll never forget those words Evie uttered that day to save our lives--'
Zahn nodded as he stepped forward. "I... I think I can stop it, Rupert," he absently said. He drew in a breath. This was their only shot. If that failed, then... "_Kadeesh mal! Kadeesh mal!_" he shouted out above the roar.
Anck-su-namun gasped loudly, pure fear filling her eyes as she stumbled backwards. She was stopped as she bumped into the altar. "No," she whispered, shaking her head.
"_Pared oos! Pared oos!_" Zahn finished.
"Nooooo!!" Anck-su-namun screamed.
The Hellmouth's rumbled immediately ceased. It was dead quiet. A moment later, a gentle breeze swept through the lair. The air seemed to be sort of a suction coming from the crack in the Hellmouth. But as the breeze intensified, a deep growl came from the opening.
"What is that?" Willow whispered. She looked to Zahn then to Giles. "You don't think it's.... that... that thing, do you?"
Suddenly, the growl turned into a full fledge roar as giant transparent, bluish hand shot up out of the Hellmouth. Anck-su-namun screamed once more as the hand turned towards her and the altar. She tried to run, but the hand grabbed her, enveloping her entire body. The hand swept over the altar, but it didn't take the bodies of Xander and Amy, however.
"No!" the shadowy spirits of Anck-su-namun and Imhotep repeatedly cried out. They squirmed within the mighty grip of the mysterious hand. The hand paused momentarily then dove back down into Hell, the opening in the Hellmouth automatically sealing behind it.
There was nothing but silence.
"Are.... they... is it over?" Willow dared to speak.
Zahn nodded as he and Giles looked at one another, relieved smiles on their faces. "Yes, Willow, I believe it is."
"What... in the.. HELL was that?" Faith asked as she took slow, steadying steps towards the altar. She grasped her bleeding arm with one hand. "It was wicked cool, whatever it was," she added.
Giles, Zahn and Willow came into the lair.
"Buffy, are you all right?" Giles asked. He kneeled down by her, helping her to sit up. He brushed her sweaty, filthy hair back from her forehead.
Buffy nodded. "Yeah, I'm cool, Giles," she replied in a raspy voice. "Just a little banged up, but at least I'm alive." She smiled at Willow but grunted in pain as her best friend took her in a big bear hug. "Hey... I might not be alive for much longer if ya don't watch it, Will."
"Oh, sorry," Willow replied, embarrassed.
"I think you'll be okay," Zahn told Faith as he finished field bandaging her arm with a bit of cloth he'd taken from his sweatshirt.
"Thanks," Faith said as she checked out Zahn's work. She looked down at Xander. "Hey... Xander. Wake up." She poked him, gently. "You okay?"
Xander groaned. Slowly, his eyes opened up. He found himself staring up at the faces of Faith and Cyril Zahn. "I'm... guessing... we won?" he weakly asked. He smiled when Willow's face joined the others.
"Are you all right?" Willow asked. She took a step back when Faith finished freeing Xander from his ropes and Xander sat up on the altar.
"Now I am," he said. He removed the ropes from his legs and tossed them aside. "But I saw my life flash before my eyes when Anck-su-namun started to bring that knife down." He shook his head. "But what happened to it?"
"Yeah, what was that you did, Will?" Buffy asked as she and Giles joined them.
Willow slyly grinned as she stepped back. She put a hand behind her back. "Oh...it was nothing," she replied. She pulled her hand from behind her, then she waved the knife a little. "A little bit of sleight of hand magic that I learned years ago from my uncle. Except I call this game "Got Your Knife" instead of "Got Your Nose"."
"Mmmm...." Amy's body stirred. "Huh....wha..." She lifted her head up.
"Amy?" Willow asked as her smile faded. She approached her friend carefully. "Is.. is that really you?"
Amy looked up at Willow, confused by why she was asking that. Coupled with wondering where the heck she was, Amy was very baffled. "It's me, Amy," she replied. "Willow... what's wrong with you? Have you been playing with those advanced spells?"
"Amy! You're you!" Willow grinned happily as she hugged Amy. "You're back!"
"Back? What are you talking about?" Amy grunted as Willow and Buffy helped her up. She looked around. "Where are we?" Her eyes went down to her outfit then up to her head. Her fingers wrapped around her hair. "What's... what's happened to me, Willow?"
"It's quite a story," Xander said as he joined them. "It's got everything... mystery, love, intrigue... possession."
"Come on, Amy, you need to get cleaned up," Willow said. "We'll explain everything."
Giles watched Xander, Amy and Willow leave the lair. "It's been quite the adventurous night," he commented.
"Adventure is something I can do without," Buffy muttered. She rubbed her side. "At least until I'm back in one piece again." She glanced behind her. "You think Amy will remember anything Anck-su-namun did while in her body?"
Giles shrugged. "I can't say."
"I'd think it's better if she doesn't," Faith replied as she stepped over the rubble to join Buffy. "Having her remember my ass being kicked so badly just doesn't sit well with me." She smiled when Buffy did. "Ow. I'm gonna go heal up since all the world saving is over. It was real."
"Too real," Buffy added. She waved to Faith. When she turned around she saw Zahn lean over and pick up the Book of the Dead, along with the key. "You all right, Cyril?" she asked when he just stared at the Book.
Zahn looked over to Buffy, smiling faintly. "Oh... I'm... I'm all right," he quietly replied. He closed the Book of the Dead and relocked it. "I'm happy everything turned out well."
Buffy tilted her head to one side. "You're not even going to take a look at what's inside the Book?" she asked.
Giles turned to look at Zahn after Buffy asked her question. "I would think you'd be curious, Cyril," he said.
"It's pretty well proven what's in here," Zahn answered as he tapped the Book. He closed up the key. "And it's best it stays in here. No one should ever know what's in this Book. There is a reason the ancients left it alone, same reason we should." He put the key back in his pocket. "And a reason I have the key."
"So you're not gonna give them the key when you return the Book then?" Buffy said.
Zahn shook his head. "No. I was entrusted with it, and I'll keep my promise." He paused. "Come on, we should get this book back to the museum."
"Right." Giles and Buffy followed Zahn out of the lair. "I'm wondering, Cyril, are you going to go back to UCLA... Or perhaps try to go back out in the field again?"
"Oh, I'm planning to continue teaching," Zahn answered. "But I think I need a change of venue. UC Sunnydale's looking for professors in their History department."
"Cyril," Giles said after a moment of silence. "How ever did you figure out what the spell was that would send Anck-su-namun and Imhotep back to Hell?"
"It just sort of... came to me," Zahn replied with a casual shrug. He smiled at Giles and Buffy.
"I just can't believe it." Buffy shook her head. "And you said this whole Hellmouth Quake was nothing to be concerned about, Giles." She sighed. "We wouldn't have been in this mess if you'd just listened to me." She smiled a little. "I'll forgive you, but just this once!"