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 Post subject: Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover PostPosted: 2012-10-16 02:33pm
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Redshirt

Joined: 2009-11-21 09:05am
Posts: 8
–L.A., 1994–

She ran through the burning building, choking on the thick black clouds of smoke. Her eyes itched as the heat evaporated the moisture on them. Her vision swam and her head grew light. She could hear the screams of the monsters that she had trapped in the gymnasium, the ones that had killed her friend, that had tried to kill her sister. She could hear crashing sounds as the roof fell down in places. She could hear voices calling her, but none made sense. She heard her sister crying, coughing as she pulled her along, refusing to let go of the eight-year old's hand. She stumbled as a sudden burning pain struck her shoulder, driving her to her knees, heard a young girl screaming, tried to cry out, but could only whimper in pain. A voice in the distance, calling out her name. She tried to peer through the smoke, and saw big men in heavy clothing and masks running towards her, stopping as a massive chunk of burning roof fell in front of them. Her sister screamed again, and another crash and something hit her in the back, pinning her to the ground. Pain blazed, and she realized that she could smell herself burning. She tried to struggle, but she couldn't feel her legs. Her vision grew darker, and the screams and cried grew more distant. Her eyes closed, and she realized that she was going to die.

Not today.

I see your power, your compassion, your conviction and your valor.
I see what you can do, if only you had the power.
I see the power fated for you, and reject such atrocity.
I see the misery it will bring you, and I cannot abide it.
You are destined for great things, and it is only right that you be given great power.
But one so young should not be so burdened.
I see the pain you suffer, and I know that I must act.
Rise, Young One. I see your soul, and I remember what hopes I once had.
Rise, my Child. Greet the new Dawn.
Rise, Lawgiver. Restore what was shattered so long ago.
Rise, Lightbringer. Dispel the clouds that gather over Creation.
Rise, Buffy Summers. For you are Exalted!

Her eyes shot open, and strength surged through her body. The pain was gone, and she could feel her legs again. She stood up, and the burning roof simply fell away from her. She turned and picked up the child behind her as though the girl weighed no more heavily than a kitten. She walked through the burning flames, and neither she nor the child were hurt. The firemen before her watched with shock as she walked past them and towards the broken doors that were once the east exit for the school. She walked out into the cool evening air, and the crowd that had gathered outside the school watched in stunned awe. She walked to her tearful mother and handed the child over. It was only then that she saw her reflection in a nearby window.
She was shining as bright as the new day, a brilliant golden glow coming from her skin. A golden circle ringed with dashes aimed outwards formed the image of a bursting star upon her brow. Her long golden hair flowed down past her shoulders, perfect despite the flames that had just moments ago been eating it away. Her skin was a perfect golden tan, unmarred by the fire that had nearly claimed her life. She turned her gaze from her image and saw her sister sobbing hysterically in the arms of her mother, who was staring at Buffy in shocked disbelief. Buffy knew that she should say something, anything, but-


–1 Year Prior–

“Enough,” a crisp, authoritative voice spoke, and three pairs of eyes snapped open at once. As the first stood up from his meditative pose, shadows obscuring his face, his fellows looked to the him, the one who had spoken, in silent question.

“I've found her,” the man confirmed, “But there is going to be a...complication.”

“What do you mean?” one of his colleagues asked, standing up. In the dim, candle-lit room, it was hard enough to see what the man looked like, but even in daylight one wouldn't see much. Than man was completely and utterly forgettable. Eyes simply passed over the man's face, writing him out of memory as soon as he was seen. The man in the shadows sighed in response to the query.

“She is not the Chosen One,” he answered irritably.

“Impossible, all the signs point towards-” the second responded, before being cut off by the first.

“She should have been, but something intervened,” the first explained, “One year and one day from today, she will Exalt. As a Solar, apparently.”

The second was silent a moment. Then-

“Are you sure?” he asked, disheartened and disturbed. All of the prophecies pointed towards this girl. No other potentials fit. If they were forced to move against her-

“I saw it from her eyes,” the first answered wearily, “There can be no mistake. She is not the next Slayer.”

“What do we do then?” The second asked. The first turned his gaze towards the so-far silent third.

“What do you think?” he asked, meeting the third's blank gaze. The third man was as forgettable as the first and second, with no appearance to call his own. After a moments pause, he spoke.

“I think that she is definitely the one you're looking for,” came the reply, “The Prophecies are very clear on that. There is no other living human girl that matches the criteria.”

“How do you explain the Solar Exaltation?” the second half-asked, half-demanded. The third turned a blank gaze on the second.

“Solar Exaltations are not inherently evil,” the third lectured, much like a teacher to a student who has asked the same question several times and gotten the same response each time, “They are inclined towards evil acts, certainly, but good Solars have existed,” a pause, a thoughtful look, “Perhaps I should rephrase: Solars have existed which could control their natural inclination towards corruption and chaos. Indeed, I have uncovered ancient lore that refers to them as “Lawgivers”, which implies to me that they were not always the monsters that they became-”

“What should we do about this?” the first interrupted, clearly irritated by the lecture. The third didn't react to the snappish tone.
“I would advise that we proceed with open minds and guarded souls. This girl is the one from the prophecy, so killing her should be a last resort only. We should attempt a meeting shortly after her Exaltation. She will likely be confused, and having someone there to explain things should help immensely with the prevention of a god-complex.”

The first nodded approvingly.

“Very well, then. The task is yours. I trust you have a persona to fit?”

The third smiled and bowed. As he stood, he was suddenly recognizable. Lines of age had just begun to crease his face, and intelligent green eyes, flecked with hazel, looked out from behind bookish, circular glasses. On his head dark brown hair was combed smoothly and professionally, and a gray tweed jacket and pants, perfectly clean and free of creases, adorned his figure, all together creating a very respectable image.

“Hello,” he said in a very well-educated British accent, “Rupert Giles, Librarian and Scholar. It's a pleasure to meet you.”

–1902, New York, 5:25 A.M.–


He sat atop one of the larger buildings, staring out at the horizon, willing the sun to come sooner. A bitter smile graced his lips. He'd spent the better part of a century and a half in the darkness, reveling in it. And now he couldn't stand to wait half an hour for one last glimpse of the sun.


Pain gnawed at his insides, but he ignored it. Pain was his art. Inflicting it, mostly, but there was little he could not endure.


A man's face, contorted with agony as this fresh hell was unleashed upon him.


He closed his eyes, willing the tears not to come. Pain he could ignore, but not this. Not the guilt, the endless remorse, reliving his past, seeing the faces of his thousands of victims everywhere he went. This was the one thing he could not endure any longer. Four long years of this hell. But it was no less than he deserved. He could still remember what had brought him here...


A young woman's broken, naked form, unmoving but still alive. Soft prayers and pleas for deliverance were all that left her lips, even as he placed the glowing brand upon her back. The last week had broken her. Without the thrill of a response, he was bored. A smile worked its way onto his face, cold and pitiless as the blackest depths of space. Perhaps it was time to take her home...



The young woman, kind, intelligent, chaste and beautiful. Everything he had despised. He had taken a special interest in her, in breaking her completely, for the sole crime of being what he wasn't, what he had never been: pure.



A muffled cry escaped him, and he covered his face in his hands as his composure broke. Sobs wracked his body as he cried. He couldn't believe everything that had happened. All the pain, the suffering, he grief and misery he had caused. He deserved to die.



The face of everyone you have killed-our daughter's face-will haunt you, and you will know true suffering!



The gypsy's voice echoed in his mind, and he looked up at the horizon. Light could be seen beyond the clouds. Dawn would be coming soon. Dawn, and a merciful release from his torment.


Please, have mercy, take me, leave her, take me instead!


He closed his eyes, willing the voices away, and knowing that they would remain with him forever. His resolve to wait on the rooftop began to waver. He yearned for the mercy that the sun's light promised him, but he knew that he couldn't take it. He was beyond mercy, beyond redemption. He didn't deserve to die; death was too good for him. He deserved to serve out his punishment: An eternity of guilt, of remorse. An eternity of penance, because he could never do enough good to outweigh the suffering that he had caused.

With a sigh he stood up to leave. He would live, and he would suffer. It was only right that he take his punishment. With all the evil he had done, he couldn't help but take the opportunity to do at least one good thing, no matter the pain.



“An admirable sentiment,”
spoke a soft, beautiful voice. He spun around, turning to face the newcomer. A beautiful woman walked towards him, illuminating the rooftop in a silvery glow. Her skin was pale and perfect, and for a moment he thought her naked, before realizing that she lacked any features beyond shape and pure, silvery light.



“I see your pain,” she whispered softly, and a powerful echo of her words rang within his mind, “And I see the pain you have left behind you. But I also feel your power. You are a warrior, a champion. Your death here would be a waste, and you know this.”
A silver hand reached out and cupped his cheek.


“It takes a rare being indeed to endure what you have, and a rarer one still to turn down peace in favor of continued battle,” at this point the featureless face seemed to smile, “We are alike, you and I. We cannot give in, cannot surrender, no matter the cost, no matter the pain we must endure. You fight a war within yourself, a war for your very soul, and it will consume you. One day, redemption might find you, but that day will be a long time in coming. Decades of hardship and loneliness await you, but you will endure, because you know that you must.”

He looked at the woman in brief hope at the mention of redemption, before coming to his senses.

“I think you have the wrong person,” he said quietly, “No redemption awaits me.”

“You are wrong, Child,” the woman said softly, “Redemption is possible, but the path before you is a wasteful one. Almost a century of penance before the opportunity is granted. I have seen your fate, and I want to change it. You are a champion, and your redemption should be worthy of you. I will break your curse, and I will show you the path to true redemption. It is one paved with struggle, but you will persevere, because it is what you do. Temptation will lurk around all corners, but fortitude will deny The Shadow Of All Things his final victory. Those that seek to destroy you will see your bravery, and they will fear you. Your enemies will try to break you, but you know what is right, and that knowledge will see you through. Your inner darkness will try to corrupt you, but your concern for the innocent will be your shield. I have seen your Fate, my Child, and you are my child now, and the world will remember you long after your passing.”

A brilliant light burst on the rooftop, bright and white as the full moon itself, and he felt power coursing within him. The demon that raged within its confines screamed as the power scoured his soul clean, and he felt reborn. A bright silver disk shone on his forehead, and he knew now what needed to be done.

“Go forth, Steward, and protect this world. Guard it from that which would destroy it, and keep it safe until its true masters return. Defend this forsaken world, and remind they who have forgotten me of my presence!”

“Go forth, Warrior of Luna, and know now that from this moment forward you-” and here the light blazed brighter than he would have thought possible, and for the first time he could see eyes on the woman's featureless face, blazing balls of molten silver that seemed to stare into his very being and fill him with strength-

“Are Exalted!”


–End Chapter–

Short, I know, but this is just a prologue. I'm interested in all responses; I've heard that this is a good forum to go to if you wnt to improve, and have a thick skin.



The One Girl in All The World, empowered by the sheer might of the Dawn

A Shattered Soul, offered one last chance for redemption...

A Star Chosen Mentor, whose hidden secrets can only be guessed at...

This is their Tale.

Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover.

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 Post subject: Re: Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover PostPosted: 2012-10-16 05:21pm
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Padawan Learner
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Joined: 2009-06-27 12:00pm
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Oh very interesting.

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 Post subject: Re: Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover PostPosted: 2012-10-16 09:27pm
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I am very interested. I would like to see more



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Librium Arcana, Where Gamers Play!
Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.

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 Post subject: Re: Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover PostPosted: 2012-10-16 09:44pm
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Redshirt

Joined: 2009-11-21 09:05am
Posts: 8
A/N: Wow. This chapter is larger than the post limit here. Also, this is posted in its more complete (Season 1, i.e. first two months of the show) form on FF.net (name is Fenrir666), SpaceBattles (Also Fenrir666), and Twisting the Hellmouth (InDrk), for those who don't want to wait for me to get around to posting it piecemeal here. I allow anonymous reviews on FF.net, for those who would like to review there, but don't want an account.

–Sunnydale High, 1995–

“Beta One, this is Beta Three. No contact, but tracks are found. One male, adult or large teen, one female, small. Vampire presence confirmed, tracks leading towards your position. Acknowledge.”

A dark armored man stood near the edge of the high-school, shrouded in shadows. The moon was obscured by the clouds above, which is why he wore night-vision goggles. Their enemies could see with perfect clarity in the night, and this put them at a disadvantage. As he reached up to his ear to activate his mike, he noticed footsteps, illuminated as mist by the mildly magical goggles, leading towards the back end of the school, by the football field.

“Beta Three, this is Beta One. I hear you and acknowledge,” he sub-vocalized, making the barest of vibrations in his throat vibrations which transferred into words on the other end of the connection,



“Confirmed footsteps, going from current position, heading towards rear end of school, by the field. Acknowledge.”

A pause as he waited for a response. A chill ran through him.

“Beta Three, this is Beta One. Acknowledge.”
“Beta One, this is Beta Five. I'm by Beta Three. Neck snapped, no life-signs. Acknowledge.”

“Shit,” he muttered, and turned around carefully, making sure nothing was sneaking up on him.
“Beta Five, this is Beta One. I hear you and acknowledge. I'm going to follow the tracks, Beta Four, back on Beta Five. Beta Two, with me. Acknowledge.”
“Beta One, this is Beta Four, moving towards Beta Five.”
“Beta One, this is Beta Five, I see Beta Four.”
“Beta One, this is Beta Two. I'm in the school, a window facing the field was broken. There's a dead kid, male teen, in the class room. Dual neck punctures over the carotid artery-!”

A choking noise suddenly echoed in his ear, along side a roar in the background and a crackle of lightning.





"Beta Two, I'm coming to your position, hold on!” he muttered into the comm link.

“Too late, sweetie,” a smooth female voice purred behind him, even as he felt the cold chill of soul-steel sliding through his armor as though it weren't there, as strong fingers tore away his neck guard and sharp
fangs pierced his throat, and the sounds of distant fighting told him his friend's might at least-

–Two Days Later–

The first Monday of the school year was bright and sunny and noisy. A massive crowd of teenagers milled around the entrance as they waited for first period to begin. To the untrained eye, it might look as though there was no rhyme or reason to the arrangement of the teens, but the pair of eyes watching from the SUV that was rolling up to the curb in front of the school were far from untrained. Green iris surrounding black pupils expanding and contracting minutely as the girl in the passenger's seat of the SUV observed her new peers.

The crowd was large, but separated into chunks, which separated into yet small cells. The chunk closest to the school were well dressed and groomed, not fancily so, but in the way one does when going somewhere that they respect, and wish to show respect to. Farther away and by a bunch of bushes in a raised stone garden in the middle of the path up to the entrance sat a group of males and a few females, all dressed casually, talking with each other while maintaining relaxed posture, in the manner of one without care, of one who is somewhere that they don't mind being, where they don't need to struggle or put up appearances.

Further across and to the west of the casual teens was a smaller clique of very well-dressed teens talking animatedly, even as their posture suggested some amount of stress and falseness, as though putting on a fake outer personality. Their clothes were perfectly unwrinkled and clean, and were clearly uniforms of some sort, with the SH sign of the school marking their chests and backs. After these three groups were observed, the rest became irrelevant. The inference was taken, and conclusions reached. This was a very hierarchical school. Everyone had their place, everyone had their groups, and one didn't leave that niche for fear of social repercussions. All of these observations were made almost unconsciously within the mere seconds it took for the SUV to come to a full stop and her mother to open her mouth to begin speaking.
“Alright honey, this is your stop,” her mother smiled. The girl in the car turned around with a dazzling smile.
“Thanks for the ride, mom,” she said in a bright, cheerful voice that couldn't help but widen her mother's smile.
“No problem, sweetie, and I know you'll do great. Make lots of friends!”
The last was said as the girl opened the door and got out of the car. She turned back with small but still infectious smile.
“Don't worry, I will,” she promised, and with that her mother waved goodbye and drove away. The girl turned towards her new school and began assessing where she would best belong.
Meanwhile, heads turned towards this new arrival, and mouths began to drop as she walked up to the school. All eyes were upon her, watching in awe and she smiled a happy little smile. Without knowing why, she felt like everything was just as it should be. Her mood didn't even break when movement in her peripheral vision and a shouted warning had her arm snap out almost of its own accord and catch a young teen by the scruff of his collar just before he would have crashed into the railing in front of her.
–Xander–

“Whoa, pardon me, coming through, no breaks, can't stop!” a young dark haired teen spoke quickly as he focused his attention of weaving through the crowds. Perhaps riding a skateboard up to the school wasn't his brightest idea, but he did enjoy the looks he was getting. He leaned to the right as he narrowly avoided running someone down, and an upraised middle finger returned his hastily shouted apology. Shrugging it off, he swerved to the left to avoid some person standing in the walkway staring at something ahead. Xander followed his gaze, and saw the single most beautiful girl he'd ever laid eyes on. To describe the girl as 'stunning' would be a grievous understatement.

The girl's long, dark blond hair reached down to the middle of her shoulders and shone like gold in the morning sun. Her sun-kissed golden tan almost seemed to glow with inner energy as she walked. Her skin was smooth and perfect behind the tan, no freckle or mole detracted from her looks, and no acne blemishes marked her features. Her physique was slim without being unhealthy, with just the right amount of developing curves for her age. A sky-blue top complemented the tan skin, and was just tight enough to show off her form without actually revealing anything, with a matching skirt that managed to show off just enough of her legs to attract positive attention without drawing enough to be improper.

He was so focused on her that he didn't even notice the railing coming up in front of him. A shout yelled out behind him as he rolled closer to the girl, and then, with speed and perfect grace her arm shot out and caught him by the collar and her other arm caught him around the back and stopped him from falling as his skateboard rolled out from under him and continued on under the metal rail. He stumbled for a moment as she let go of him, and then turn to meet the most enchanting pair of green eyes he'd ever seen. A small frown quirked her perfect lips, and Xander was instantly self-conscious. Was his hair alright? Did he have something in his teeth? Oh God was his zipper up?!

“Are you alright?” she asked with a soft, warm voice, and he nearly collapsed in relief as he realized that she was just concerned.

“Um, yeah, I'm good, I mean, I'm well, good is a moral thing, but well is when you're good, but in a not-hurt way,” Xander responded, words pouring out of his mouth before he knew what he was saying. At her bemused expression, he tried to clarify.

“Not that I'm not good morally!” he exclaimed, “I'm a very moral person, I never go past first date on the first base, I mean birst fase on the dirst fate, I mean I'm Xander, thanks for saving my life,” he finished lamely, burning with embarrassment as he saw her smile as she clearly tried not to laugh.

“You're welcome,” she said politely, and he wanted to crawl into a corner and die as he heard the suppressed chuckle in her voice, “I'm Buffy Summers, it's nice to meet you Xander, but if you're alright, I've got to go meet with the principal. Have a nice day!”

The last was said with a wave back as she walked away towards the school, and Xander just wanted to kick himself.

“Whoa momma, who was that?” came an impressed voice beside him, and he shot a look to his left and saw a young, red-haired girl wearing a plaid skirt and a plaid shirt over a white top with perfectly, carefully groomed hair that reached her shoulders, in a distinctly 'good-girl' vibe sort of way. As Xander's head snapped towards her, a look of 'I-can't-believe-I-just-heard-what-I-just-heard' on his face, the girl made a small 'eep!' noise and covered her mouth, blushing fiercely.

“Um-I just-I didn't mean-I'm not-” Willow began frantically, before Xander shushed her.

“Don't worry,” he said wryly, “You're not the only one. She saved me from crashing into a railing and I assured her that I totally wouldn't do anything more than feel her up on out first date.”

“What?” she exclaimed in amused shock.

“Yeah, yeah,” Xander sighed with mock exasperation, “Laugh it up.”
–Buffy–

“Well, we've covered your transcripts, your grades have been good, exceptional behavior, and may I say that I'm honored to have a hero on our campus,” said the slightly tubby, dark haired man sitting behind the desk in front of her as he smiled kindly at the young girl before him. She smiled politely in return.

“Thank you, Principal Flutie-” she began, but the Principal cut her off.

“Please, all students here are welcome to call me Bob,” he informed her genially. Buffy nodded.

“Alright, thank you, Bob,” she smiled, and Robert Flutie opened his mouth to correct her but shut it instantly. He couldn't bring himself to reprimand the enthusiastic teen before him. It was so rare he met children as polite and respectful as her, as well as so gifted academically, and if taking things too literally was a flaw of hers, then he supposed he could allow her that.

“Anyways,” she continued, “I just wanted to say that I'm grateful for meeting me like this and helping me get my I.D. and schedule. I'm sure I'll love it here.”

Principal Flutie's body language shifted noticeably, and in the back of her mind she knew that she'd made an ally at this school. His entire body was showing mixed appreciation and positive disposition towards her. In the front of her mind, she was glad that she would be able to count on her Principal if she needed any help.

“You're quite welcome, young lady, and I think you'll settle in just fine,” he said with a smile. Just then, the bell rang and the teen in front of him grabbed her bag as she stood from her chair.

“Thanks again for your help,” she called as she exited his office, closing the door behind her. Principal Robert Flutie stared at the door for a moment more, a small smile on his face, before his attention returned to the paperwork on his desk. Such a nice girl, he thought to himself.
–Xander–
Xander was not-quite-running through the hallway as he moved towards his class when he saw a flash of gold coming out of the Principal's office. It was her, the girl from earlier! He also saw the student walking quickly towards her while adjusting their book-bag over their shoulder, not looking where he was heading. Xander opened his mouth to shout a warning, but was too late. Buffy absently side-stepped the oncoming student without even glancing at him and was walking away before he could get her attention. Xander sighed. It was probably for the best, he'd have probably just creeped her out again.

–Buffy–



“It’s estimated that about 25 million people died in that one four year span. But the fun part of the Black Plague is that it originated in Europe how? As an early form of germ warfare. The plague was first found in Asia, and a Kipchak army actually catapulted plague-infested corpses into a Genoese trading post. Ingenious. If you look at the map on page 63 you can trace the spread of the disease…”

Buffy looked around her as she saw her fellow students opening their textbooks, and realized that she had yet to get hers. She was about to raise her hand when a whisper caught her attention.

“Psst!” the dark-haired girl in the expensive looking outfit next to her beckoned her as she turned her own textbook so that Buffy could read it. Buffy gave her a grateful smile and a whispered “Thanks!” and turned her attention back to the lecture.

At the end of the class the dark-haired girl followed Buffy out the door and walked with her.
“Hi, I'm Cordelia,” she introduced with a smile, which Buffy returned.

“I'm Buffy,” she replied, “Thanks again for sharing your book.”

“No problem,” Cordelia responded, “If you still need your textbooks, there should still be some in the library.”

“Could you show me where that is? I still don't quite know my way around,” Buffy asked, unconsciously inflicting her voice with a slightly nervous tone, expressing lack of knowledge, but not fault.

“No problem,” Cordelia shrugged, “It's on the way to my next class, anyway. So, I hear you transferred from Hemery, in L.A.?”

“Yep,” Buffy nodded.

“Oh, I would kill to live in L.A.,” Cordelia exclaimed enviously, “Being that close to that many shoes...Why would you leave?”

“The fame got to be a bit much, especially when Lifetime started bugging us about movie rights,” Buffy responded nonchalantly. Cordelia laughed, before she saw the grin on Buffy's face. Her mouth dropped.

“You're kidding!” she gasped. Buffy laughed in remembered exasperation.

“I really, really wish that I was.”

Cordelia frowned, as something nagged at the back of her mind. Then, it hit her.

“Ohmigod you're the girl on the news!” she nearly shouted, “You ran into a burning building to save your sister and nearly died!”

Buffy nodded with a reluctant grin.

“Really, it was way more dramatic than they made it out to be,” she said with modesty, wondering if Cordelia would catch the wording in the sentence.

“Don't be so modest, even I would be hard pressed to rush into a burning building and not even dirty my clothes!”

Perhaps not, Buffy thought with slight amusement. Outwardly, she just smiled.

“Well, you'll be fine here, so long as you hang with me and mine. Of course, I'll have to test your coolness factor, but in light of your heroism, I think I'll let you skip the written portion. So, purple blush?”

“Out,” Buffy answered instantly.

Cordelia nodded.

“Over the fence and beyond the park,” she agreed, “Tom Cruise?”

“Hottest thing since the Uncon-since the sun,” Buffy quickly self-corrected. Cordelia didn't appear to care.

“Agreed,” she nodded, “Tartan skirts?”

“So 1990,” Buffy responded. Cordelia clapped her hands with a smile.

“Congratulations, you pass!”

“Oh, good!” Buffy answered with a bright smile of her own. They approached the water fountain where a girl in one of the most nerdy-yet-endearing dresses Buffy had ever seen was drinking.

“Willow!” Cordelia exclaimed, “Nice dress, I'm glad to see you've finally started clearing out your grandmother's attic!”

Willow's head turned to Cordelia with an embarrassed look, while Buffy's snapped around, her mouth dropping at the sudden viciousness.

“Well, my mom picked it out,” Willow said, almost apologetically. Anger welled up in Buffy, and before Cordelia could give her next cutting response, even as several other kids nearby were laughing, she interjected.

“Wait, is your mom part of the L.A. fashion circle?” Buffy asked, inflicting her voice with apparently-genuine surprise, “I didn't think Sunnydale was so up on the latest fashions. Cordelia turned in puzzlement, while Willow just stared in confusion, unsure of whether or not she was being mocked.

“Um, no,” she responded hesitantly, “She doesn't really pay attention to that stuff.”

“Huh,” Buffy frowned, “I guess she's just naturally talented. The withdrawn-but-proper look in the big thing in L.A. right now. It gets you in good with the teachers, and it's just adorable if you can pull it off. I never could, sadly, but you wear it perfectly. How do you keep the outfit so free of wrinkles?”

“Um, I don't know?” Willow hazarded. She was officially out of her comfort zone.

“Well, I've got to go get my books, but we've got to talk style later,” Buffy said with a smile, “I've got some awesome ideas for your hair, and you can give me some tips on keeping clothes from getting wrinkled without losing an hour with an iron.”

With that, Buffy walked off and several other students, following the leader as all pack animals do, and approached Willow to compliment her on her newfound fashion sense and ask for tips. Cordelia stood staring in open-mouthed shock for several more seconds before running off to catch up with Buffy.

“What the hell was that?” she demanded as she caught up with the blond around the next corner.

“Funny,” Buffy stopped and turned to face Cordelia, her face set in condemning anger, “I was about to ask you the same thing. Why would you do something like that? It's just cruel!”

Cordelia was flabbergasted. “Something like what?!” she exclaimed.

“That girl, Willow, was just minding her own business, getting a drink, and you just publicly humiliate her! Sure, her clothes aren't picture-perfect out of the latest edition of Seventeen, but that doesn't mean you get to just do whatever you want to her!” Buffy practically hissed at Cordelia, who suddenly felt extremely small and vulnerable.

“I-I didn't-” she started, but Buffy cut her off.

“You didn't what?” she asked icily, “You didn't mean anything by it? You were just kidding around? Willow was hurt, Cordelia, and embarrassed, and she was about one step short of scared of you!”

Cordelia felt a mixture of fear and shame welling up within her. She honestly had never considered it from the point-of-view that Willow was another person that same as her. But if Willow was feeling then half of what Cordelia was feeling now, faced with the terrifying girl in front of her, Cordelia was honestly remorseful.

“I-I'm sorry-” she tried, and Buffy turned and walked away.

“Don't apologize to me, you've been nothing but nice to the pretty, well-dressed new girl. Apologize to the nerdy, awkward classmate that you've been bullying for God-knows-how-long.”

Cordelia didn't say anything, and a moment later Buffy had turned a corner and was gone. Something snapped back into place inside of Cordelia, and she nearly choked on her own spit as she realized that she had just apologized for making fun of Willow.
–Buffy–
Buffy strode into the library, still annoyed at the callousness of her fellow teenagers. At least she'd solved Willow's issues. Buffy knew from experience that one she established something or someone, it stayed established. Willow should be known as an instinctive fashion genius for the next few months, at least. Buffy would work out what to do after it became clear that she was full of crap later. With a sigh, she took a few moments to examine her surroundings. The library was elegant, in a quiet, stuffy sort of way. Sunlight streamed through the room in beams, softly illuminating the shelves and shelves of books. The librarian was nowhere to be seen, which meant that something deadly was going to be thrown right about-

Her hand shot out and caught the throwing knife hurtling towards the right side of her head, near the check-out desk, by the tip of the blade and promptly threw it at a book sitting on the mahogany table in the middle of the library. A hand shot up from the hole in the center of a bagel on the table and caught the knife. Buffy blinked and then nearly jumped out of her skin as someone gently coughed behind her. She spun around, glaring at the source of her surprise.

She met the dark eyes of a well-dressed gentleman in a tweed vest. Round glasses covered his eyes, and the barest hint of crows feet were forming at the corners of his eyes. He stood in perfect stillness, a twitch at the corners of his lips the only sign of his amusement. She pouted unhappily at him.

“That wasn't nice, Giles” she said, “If I can't teleport, neither can you.” The object of her ire, Rupert Giles, sighed.

“Buffy,” he said in clear exasperation, a well-educated and oh-so-very-British accent in his words, “We've been over this. I didn't teleport-”

Buffy shrugged uncaring and walked over to dump her books of the large table.
“Same diff,” she said casually, and tried to suppress a smile at the annoyance on the man's face. Giles was always so easy to tease.

With a sigh, he dismissed the issue, and walked over to the check-out counter and picked up a stack of heavy textbooks in one hand. Buffy showed no surprise at this display of unexpected strength.

“And speaking of not nice,” he continued, “what have I told you about throwing deadly weapons at books?”
“What have I told you about throwing deadly weapons at my head?” Buffy returned pointedly. She blinked, and jumped again as someone tapped her on the shoulder.

“Your head can be repaired,” Giles smiled smugly as Buffy turned to face him, then back around where he'd been a mere second before, and back to where he stood, hand outstretched, offering her her textbooks, “Less so with ancient, priceless texts dating from before the Great Contagion.”

Buffy rolled her eyes.

“Alright, alright, fine,” Buffy huffed, “The important thing is that you caught it.”

“I am curious, however,” Giles began as she took the textbooks from him and shoved them in her bag, impressed curiosity in his tone, “How did you know I was by the table? The knife came from across the room and on the opposite side from the part of the table I was on.”

Buffy smiled sweetly at him, and Giles wasn't fooled for a second.

“Last week, when I brought donuts to training, you went on and on about how we American's ruin breakfast pastries by punching holes in them. So why would there be a bagel in your library?”

Giles closed his eyes as he realized that he continued to far underestimate his pupil's perceptive ability.
“So,” Buffy continued, smugness evident in her voice, “I came to the conclusion that the only reason that you'd have a bagel in your library was because you can't hide in a scone!”

Buffy was very proud when she heard Giles suddenly make a choking noise. She would have been prouder, and somewhat surprised, if she'd known that it Giles was choking on his own laughter, rather than surprise at her conclusion.

“Very-” he began, and adjusted his glasses as he took a subtle breath, “Very astute, Buffy. You're learning quickly. On that note, I'd like you to come by after school today. I have some things I need to discuss with you. In any case, though, you should probably get to class. The bell is going to ring-”

A high-pitched series of rings echoed throughout the school.

“Two seconds ago,” Giles finished, but Buffy was already walking out, shouting her thanks behind her.

“Very smooth, Rupert,” a voice echoed from the shadows behind him. Giles said nothing.

“She's in danger,” the voice continued.

“She's a Solar Exalted,” Giles said shortly, “She's always in danger.”

“He's an Exalt killer. He killed the Zenith, he killed the Eclipse, and he killed the last Dawn not a year ago. He'll come for her, and soon. The Broken Mask can only shroud her so much. Here, so close to the Gate of Malfeas, he'll hear about her. Let me help.”

“For the last time, no!” Giles nearly shouted, anger contorting his voice into something that would cow all but the bravest of men, “This isn't about him, this isn't about you, and this isn't the time or the place for this discussion! Leave, now.”

Silence.

“Her death be on your head then, Ripper.”

Nothing changed, at least nothing obvious, but an aura of almost imperceptible doom suddenly lessened, and Giles let out a breath he hadn't known he'd been holding. He wholeheartedly disliked that man...

–Willow–


Willow Rosenberg sat on a stone bench by her favorite wall, out of the way of the rest of the kids on lunch break. She liked it here, it was nice and shady, and people didn't tend to make her leave, like they did at the main lunch tables. As she prepared to bite into her sandwich, a glint of gold caught her eye, and she saw the girl from earlier approaching. Willow's heart sunk. She was fairly certain that the girl had been mocking her earlier, and was just more subtle about it than Cordelia usually was. Willow half-hoped she wasn't coming to correct that. It was kind of nice being complimented on her fashion sense, even if it was non-existent.

As she approached, the girl spoke.

“Hey, you're Willow, right?” she asked, the question in her tone somehow giving a sense of confident power. Willow felt strangely proud to be addressed by this beautiful girl, as though merely being acknowledged was a great privilege. In the back of her mind, Willow recognized that in the eyes of this girl and Cordelia, it probably was.


“Why? I-I mean, hi, hi, do you need me to move?” she stammered out, and suddenly empathized with Xander. Something about this girl made you crave her attention, her praise, her respect, or at least her lack of animosity.

The girl looked at her with something between amusement and...pity? Willow felt suddenly ashamed and worthless, but at the same time a burst of happiness ran through her. This girl didn't hate her!

“How about we start with, 'hi, I'm Buffy,” and then segue straight into an apology,” Buffy said as she said next to Willow, and Willow felt heat rising in her face, suddenly feeling extremely awkward so close to the girl-to Buffy.

“An-an apology?” Willow's eyes widened in sudden horror as Buffy's words reached her brain. She'd done something to offend her!

“Of course,” she blurted out, “I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you!”

Buffy's eyes widened in surprise, and then narrowed in sudden anger, and finally softened into something Willow couldn't quite place.

“Willow, what I meant was that I owe you an apology. I was trying to cover for you earlier, and it occurred to be a bit ago that I might have embarrassed you even more. I'd also apologize on behalf of Cordelia, but she'd probably be a snobby bitch about it, so I won't.”

Willow's eyes widened as her considerable intelligence fought to keep up with the conversation, but the sheer presence and charisma of the girl beside her made futile any efforts by her brain to come up with anything more sophisticated than 'She's pretty, say something WORSHIP HER!'

Willow blinked as the last thought blazed across her mind with all the subtlety of a divine command, and she realized that Buffy was waiting for a response, so she decided to devote the effort to be concerned about that later.

“Um, I thought you were friend's with Cordelia?” Willow said hesitantly, years of conditioning waiting for the the inevitable other foot of “Psych, loser!” and pig's blood to fall. Willow suddenly really wished she had listened to her mother about not reading horror books in elementary school as old nightmares rushed back at her.

Instead, Buffy's face hardened into something almost scary. A chill ran down her spine at the coldness on the beautiful blond's face, and she removed the almost from her previous thought.

“I don't make friends with bullies,” Buffy said hardly, her voice set in stone, and Willow instantly accepted the absolute truth of that statement. All questions about this girl's intentions left her mind. She was now utterly convinced that Buffy was honestly trying to help her, and though she didn't know why, Willow was suddenly filled with a burning desire to prove worthy of that help.

“Oh, good,” she said weakly, and mentally kicked herself for her cowardice. Buffy seemed to notice, and smiled with a brilliant confidence at Willow, and Willow felt all doubts rush away. Buffy believed in her worth, and Willow would never defy Buffy's beliefs. Buffy's beliefs were her beliefs, and it didn't even occur to Willow that this would normally be considered alarming, given that they hadn't even known each other for twenty-four hours.

“Relax, Willow,” she reassured, and Willow obeyed, unconsciously loosening tensed muscles. Just then, a new voice interrupted, and Willow followed Buffy's gaze to see the source of the greeting.

“Hey, am I interrupting?” came Xander's easy voice as he approached from behind them, “Can I interrupt?”

“Sure,” Buffy chirped happily, and it was a chirp, a quick, happy response, completely carefree. Willow
found it adorable. All of Xander's normally held cool vanished as Buffy's gaze fell on him. Willow rushed to Xander's aid as she realized it was her job to introduce him.

“Buffy, this is Xander, Xander, this is Buffy, we were just talking about stuff,” Willow blurted out happily, unaware that her tone was filled with the dull sort of giddiness that is normally formed of either sex or booze. It wasn't something she tended to know about.

“We met this morning, but it's good to see you again, Xander,” Buffy said with a pleasant smile and nearly caused Xander to lose balance.

Xander tried to recompose himself, and with great effort managed to repress the sudden desire to bow at Buffy's feet.

“Well to see you too,” he tried to joke, and at her non-comprehending smile, barely managed to avoid rushing to remind her of his earlier idiocy.

“Never mind,” he said quickly, “What're you guys talking about?”

“Cordelia being a bitch,” Buffy shrugged. Xander nodded sagely.

“A popular topic among our two-person group. I'm actually deputy-chairman, chief-treasurer, and secretary for the 'We Hate Cordelia” club. Willow holds pretty much all of the other ranks. We have an opening for a deputy-deputy-chairwomen, if you'd like to join?” Xander offered, inwardly relieved that he was getting back on a roll of successful jokes.

“Why not?” Buffy said with an amused smile, “Are there any oaths? Do I need to pay dues?”

“Nope, no oaths,” Xander says, “And a date would more than cover any dues,” 'Oh, so close!' he though to himself as he cringed. He didn't even feel that particular faux-pas coming on. Usually there was some clue...

Instead of the laughter or scorn he usually got, though, he was shocked to see something like appraisal.
“Delivery needs work,” she said, “And I'm gonna be honest, Xander, girls generally don't like being asked out like its a joke. Gives the wrong impression, you know?”

Xander really, really wished lightning would just strike him now. It would be much less painful than having a list of his flaws read out by the object of his affection. He glanced at Willow, looking for aid, but she was just staring at him like he was some sort of moron. He supposed that was fair.

“Fortunately for you,” Buffy continued with a smile, “I'm extremely good at reading people. You're genuinely interested, and while I'm fairly certain it's largely superficial, I think you and me could be friends. So, how about a compromise? You, me and Willow go out on the town this weekend. You guys show me what there is to see, we have fun, and maybe in the future, if we get continue to get along, we can see about something more.”

Xander's mouth dropped. That...was not what he was expecting.
“Um, sure,” he managed, “Sounds great.”

“Good!” Buffy said happily, “That takes care of that! Listen, though, I've gotta go talk to my first, second and third period teachers about me not having my books this morning and how we solve me not knowing what pages the homework is on. I'll see you guys here tomorrow, though, and we can talk about this weekend, alright?”

“Ooh, ooh!” Willow suddenly jumped up, eyes wide, “I know! Let's go to the Bronze, its a dance club and it's pretty cool, it's got good food and music and stuff.”

Buffy smiled.

“Alright, Bronze it is. Now, I really do have to go, though, so bye!”

And with that she walked off, the lunch crowds parting before her. Xander and Willow were silent for a moment.

“What the hell just happened?” Xander asked flatly.

“You might have gotten a date in the future,” Willow responded casually.

Xander nodded.

“That's what I thought. Yesyesyes, I am AWESOME!” Xander suddenly shouted, jumping up and down with excitement, while Willow jumped at the sudden burst of activity, before giggling at Xander's continued antics.

All and all, she thought, it was a pretty good first day back.

–Buffy–


As she walked away, she had a bright smile on her face. She felt that she'd defused that awkward situation quite well, all things considering. She doesn't have to do the whole awkward rejection thing, Xander doesn't get his feelings hurt, and she gets two friends on her first day back.

Buffy absently skipped over a leg sticking out of the bush on the path beside her wait what the hell?
Buffy turns around, horror on her face, and looked over the bush. A man's corpse, reeking of urine and feces and rot looked at her from an eyeless sockets, an expression of agony contorting his face. A dent in his armored chest was covered in old blood, and the wall behind him was crumbling where something bashed his head into it, hard.


Bile rose in her throat, and she did the only thing she could think of.
She screamed.
–Giles, some hours later–

Giles walked out from his office, a tray of tea and cookies in his hands, and a somber expression on his face as he set the tray down in front of the shell-shocked girl sitting at the library table. He sat down across from her, and they sat in silence for a moment.

“I'm truly sorry you had to see that,” he said quietly, when it became apparent that she wasn't going to speak.

“Is it always like that?” she whispered, “When someone dies? Is that what you've been teaching me to do?”

Giles shook his head.

“No, Buffy. That is what I'm teaching you to prevent. The things you will tend to fight aren't human, nor Exalted. Their deaths will not be like that.”

Buffy nodded, and said nothing for a time.

“Was he an Exalt?” she asked, not looking at him. Giles hesitated a moment, before deciding to answer truthfully.

“Yes, but not like you,” Giles said finally, “He was a Dragon-Blooded, a Terrestrial Exalted.”

“And I'm a Celestial Exalt.” A flat statement, without emotion. Giles nodded.

“As am I. Solar, Sidereal, and Terrestrial. Sun, Stars, and Earth.”

“Will I die like that?” came a quiet, vulnerable question.

“No,” Giles answered without hesitation.

“How do you know?” came the demanding response, filled with fear. Despite himself, Giles smiled a dark smile.

“Because you, Buffy Summers, Caste of Dawn, are the Chosen Warrior of the Unconquered Sun. Your kind alone, of all the Exalts, was given divine authority to rule in the name of the gods. You will live for two thousand years, and will never look anything less than perfect. We Sidereals were to guide and advise you in all things, and the Dragon-Blooded were to be your loyal soldiers. A Dawn Caste Solar is more than a match for a group of far more experienced Dragon-Blooded, and a Sidereal would be a fool to fight you, even outnumbering you two, or even three to one without being far older and more experienced.”

“So what happened? Why aren't there more of us?” Buffy met his gaze, and he saw curiosity in her eyes. Good, he'd thought that some explanations might help her cope.

“The Solars betrayed us,” Giles said simply, “Your kind went mad with power. We lost most of our records of that time, but enough remain. The Solars assaulted the Dragon-Blooded for some unknown slight. The Sidereals were forced to intervene, and all of the Solars, most of the Dragon-Blooded and many of the Sidereals died in the conflict. Many more left afterwords, and the Unconquered Sun turned his gaze from our world, disgusted by our failure. Five Shards of Solar Exaltations remain, of unknown hundreds that there once were.”

“So I can die, then,” Buffy pressed. Giles sighed.

“Buffy, it took tens of thousands of Terrestrial Exalts and all of the Sidereals to kill a few hundreds of Solars. Numbers tell, eventually, but it cost us heavily.”

Buffy's face contorted into a grimace.

“So, is that all I am?” she demanded, “A weapon? An instrument of destruction?”

“Of course not,” Giles said firmly, “Solars were the warriors of the Unconquered Sun, but they were also his priests, his sorcerers, his spies and his diplomats. The might of the Solars is more than simple destruction. Solars possess the power to smite Creatures of Darkness, have persuasive abilities so potent that they can end wars without a single life lost. They have unparalleled sorcerous might, and can cure even the most deathly ill of patients, or purge the most terrible poisons-”

Buffy's face was suddenly filled with hope.

“Could I heal that man I found? Or make it so my mom and sister can live longer?"

Giles' expression became one of firm sympathy.

“No,” he told her, gently but with absolute conviction, “There is no way to restore the dead. No Charms you have, or can learn, will extend a mortal lifespan. Such is not the domain of the Lawgivers. This is the harshest lesson you will ever have to learn, but you must learn it: No force exists that can defy death. The Unconquered Sun himself never could. The greatest Solars of old sought to do so, and all failed. The Cycle of Reincarnation is an absolute law, even to the Exalted. Mortals will die in their time, the Exalted in theirs. This you must know. It was the fall of many a Solar to attempt to defy death.”

Buffy suddenly looked smaller. Giles knew he had just shattered a part of her. He had doomed her to outliving her loved ones by millenia. He knew that she believed him, he had felt her Essence reaching out, touching his mind to seek the truth, and he had allowed it.

“I understand,” she said softly, and he, too, sensed the truth in her words. She really did.

–Unknown–

In a dark crypt, far beneath Sunnydale, two figures, one large and powerful, one slight and unimposing, knelt before a black marble throne in the center of a vast, bloodily-lit cavern. On the throne sat a miserable wreck of a figure. It was naked and skinless, glistening red muscles were open to the musky air. No genitalia were visible, only a shredded mess of flesh where they should have been. Sharp, red teeth were visible in a lipless mouth, and red, half-formed orbs rested where his eyes should have been. A tube ran through the muscles of the stomach, connected to jars of red liquid.

“My Lord, can you speak?” the larger figure rumbled. The figure on the throne was silent a moment, and then-

“Yesss...” it rattled, but no air exited its mouth.

“How do you feel?” the smaller figure inquired in a delicate, feminine voice.

“Like I have spent the last sixty years melting away in a river of boiling blood, you stupid girl,” came the response, the lack of emotion in its voice somehow adding to the terrible effect of the thing's rage.

“Does the Terrestrial blood nourish you, Master?” the larger one inquired, sparing a glance of anger for his partner.


“As much as could be expected,” it hissed back, “Which is to say, not enough. Get me more.”

“Your wish is our command, oh Master,” the female bowed her head lower, and left without another word. Her fellow stayed knelt before the throne, extending his senses in vigilance. None would harm his master before the healing was complete.
–Four Days Later, Buffy–


“Hmm,” Buffy pondered as she held up a small, tight-looking black dress in front of her, staring in the large mirror on her closet door, the pink walls and various stuffed animals cluttering her room giving it a distinctly girly, childish feel.

“Too slutty?” she murmured to herself, cocking her head sideways as she pictured herself in the dress. “Do I want to be slutty?”

She tossed the dress aside, somehow managing to get it to land perfectly on the back of her desk chair and picked up a blue floral patter dress and held it in front of her. This one was far more conservative. She frowned in disgust.

“Ugh, I look like a Jehovah's Witness,” she muttered, and tossed the dress behind her, this time sending it straight into the wastebasket in the corner of her room, by her window. She reached for a little yellow sundress.

“Definitely not,” came a young girl's voice, and Buffy turned to see a short brunette tween with long hair, smirking at her while leaning against her open door.

“Dawn, what have I said about knocking?” Buffy asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Your door was open,” Dawn shrugged, “but seriously, don't wear that. With the whole golden-tan thing you have going on, you'd look like a sunflower.”

Buffy sighed.

“I know,” she agreed, “I really liked this dress, though...”

“It's just as well,” Dawn smiled mischievously, “you outgrew it ages ago, you'd probably just pop out!”

“Excuse me, young lady?” came a stern voice behind Dawn as Joyce Summers walked into the room, making her younger daughter jump, much to Buffy's amusement.

“Buffy's gonna wear that little black dress Dad got her that you hate dancing tonight!” Dawn said instantly and instinctively, ignoring Buffy's glare. Joyce turned to her firstborn with an exasperated look.

“Buffy, I'm asking you, not as an authority figure, but as the loving mother who remembers when you were an innocent little girl who wanted nothing more than to be a ballarina: Please, please please don't wear that horrible dress in public, not after last time.”

Buffy blushed as she remembered her mother's last birthday.

“I wasn't going to wear it,” she muttered defensively, shooting a death glare at Dawn, who stuck her tongue out at Buffy from behind her mother's back.

“I'll bet,” Joyce deadpanned with a look of disbelief, “and Dawn, if you're going to make faces at your sister behind my back, at least do it from an angle where I can't see you in the mirror,” she finished with a sigh. Dawn uncrossed her eyes and stopped making pretend rasberries at Buffy, looking abashed.

“Sorry,” she said sheepishly.

“Anyways,” Joyce continued, a look of concern now on her face, “I just wanted to-” she paused and turned to Dawn, “Dawn, honey, could you let me have a moment with Buffy?”

“Sure,” Dawn said, “I already know the lecture about the black dress, anyways,” and ducked out of the room as Buffy threw a bundled up shirt at her. Once the door was shut, Joyce looked at her seriously.

“I just want you to know you don't have to feel pressured to go out tonight,” she began, to Buffy bemusement, “I can make up something about homework or family time for your friends if you don't feel up to it. I know you had a traumatic week, and-” Joyce was cut off by Buffy's soft 'oh' of realization. She was touched, honestly, but also bit embarrassed at her mother's concern. Mostly, though, she thought it was funny.

“Mom, I had a traumatic Monday,” Buffy said pointedly, “Today is Friday.”

Joyce looked at her sharply.

“Buffy, I saw the man's body as they were carting it out. You discovered a murder victim! I looked this up online, these things can have very serious consequences, even if you don't notice. I know you're the big chosen hero, the Solar, but that doesn't mean you aren't human-” Joyce frowned as Buffy chuckled at that.

“What's so funny?” she asked, getting frustrated at her daughter brushing off her concerns, as well as worried, one of the symptoms was something like dismissing big things as irrelevant. Then, to her surprise,
Buffy kissed her on the cheek.

“Thanks for worrying about me,” she said, “But I'm fine, Mom, I promise. Like you said, I'm a Solar. It takes a lot more than a dead body to bring me down for long.”

Joyce looked worried, but she relented.

“Well, alright,” she conceded, “I trust your judgment, but Buffy, just please be careful. They haven't caught whoever did that yet, so make sure you stay with the crowds, alright?”
Buffy stopped herself from smiling against as she remembered the last time she'd fought a vampire. It wouldn't be nice to worry her mom any more than she had to.

“I won't go off the main road on my way, I'll stay in well-lit places, and I promise not to go off anywhere alone, or even with a small group, once I get there,” Buffy assured her mother, “I'll be fine, I promise.
Joyce smiled with relief, and pulled Buffy into a hug and kissed her daughter on the forehead.

“I know you will, sweetie, but it's a mother's job to worry.”

“And I appreciate it,” Buffy said, and meant it. With her Exaltation came clarity, and she knew just how lucky she was, especially compared to a lot of teens. She wouldn't have her mother forever, and she was determined not to squander her while she had her.

After all, two-thousand years was a lot more than the mere forty or fifty Joyce Summers had left.



The One Girl in All The World, empowered by the sheer might of the Dawn

A Shattered Soul, offered one last chance for redemption...

A Star Chosen Mentor, whose hidden secrets can only be guessed at...

This is their Tale.

Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover.

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 Post subject: Re: Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover PostPosted: 2012-10-16 09:49pm
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–Four Hours Later–

She walked swiftly down the sidewalk towards the Bronze. Willow had told her the directions earlier, and Buffy was fairly certain she was going the right way. Suddenly, she stopped. Something was following her.

“Step out of the shadows, with your hands up. If you're what I think you are, go ahead and try me. If you're human, either step into the light, or walk away. You don't wanna mess with me, trust me.”

Someone coughed behind her, and she spun around, a golden disc blazing to life on her forehead as she punched out with enough force to punch through a foot of solid steel. Her fist met air.

“Impressive punch, well-done speech,” an admiring male spoke, and Buffy froze as a tidal wave of nostalgia washed over her. She knew that voice, but not from where...

“However,” it continued, even as Buffy spun towards the voice, emitting a flash of brilliant light that chased the shadows away, “Your awareness of your surroundings leaves much to be desired.”

Buffy spun around again, this time she had felt the man's breath on her ear, so probably not a vampire, but kicked behind her, hoping to catch him as he repositioned himself. Instead, strong hands grabbed her ankle, caught her elbow as she jabbed behind her, and shoved her forward. A human would have been sent sprawling, even a vampire would have felt the force behind the blow. Buffy instantly adjusted and rolled once, coming up in a fighting stance, the brilliant golden disc on her head shining with all the glory of the sun itself as it met a soft, silvery glow, reminiscent of the full moon, and Buffy felt its power cut through her adrenalin, filling her with calm warmth to combat the blazing fury within her.

There her attacker stood, at the mouth of the alley mere yards away, a bright silver disc shining on his forehead, mirroring her own caste mark. He was tall, a good six inches taller than her, with perfect short, dark hair. His golden eyes stared out at her from within a chiseled face that reminded her of the statues of the Greek heroes of old, and she wondered briefly if they had been Exalts. Because she had no doubt that that was what this man was. Her eyes ran over his body, taking in the perfectly tailored silk suit, the smile that showed off white teeth and unusually pointed canines, and Buffy suddenly realized where she knew him from.

“Angel,” she whispered with awe. This was freaking Angel. Angel, the guardian of the City of the Angels. Angel, son of Angel Senior, decorated World War II Veteran, Liberator of Dachau and Auschwitz, founder of the Guardian Angel Security Firm and Scourge of the Vietcong until his death in Vietnam in the mid-sixties. Every Los Angelan knew about Angel, who'd taken over his father's firm and sent it soaring to new heights.
After saving those athletes that got kidnapped back in the eighties, he was a national hero! He even had a Saturday Morning Cartoon.

This...actually made a lot of sense, she realized.

“The one and only,” he confirmed, and as Buffy met his eyes, she realized that not only were they golden, but the pupils were larger than normal. She was honestly unsure how to react to this. On the one hand, she had found another Exalt like her. On the other hand, her childhood hero had just jumped her in an alley.

Apparently, Angel had come to the same conclusion, because he suddenly looked apologetic.

“Sorry if I scared you,” he said sincerely, “But when I heard that there was a new Dawn, I had to see if it was the real deal.”

Buffy nodded, allowing her stance to relax some. But not a lot.

“So, am I?” she queried, “The real deal, I mean.”

Angel grinned, and Buffy was surprised at how...wild, she guessed would be the word, the expression looked on him. Definitely not what she generally expected from the famously well-spoken hero of L.A.

“Oh yeah,” he nearly growled with relish, and a shiver ran down her spine at the sound and a sense of intense longing like nothing she had ever felt exploded in her chest. She felt like she wanted punch him in the face, hug him and cry herself to sleep in his arms, and do other things that she instantly forced her mind away from in case he could read people like she could, all at once.

“You're definitely the Dawn,” he confirmed, either not noticing, or more likely being too polite to comment on, her inner turmoil, “I'd know you anywhere.”

“Dawn's my sister,” Buffy managed to say at last, even as she felt that she was forgetting something important, something that would make her not look like a moron, but she couldn't think of it, her mind was running too fast for her to follow, “My name is Buffy.”

Angel frowned at that.

“Didn't he tell you?” he demanded, and Buffy was surprised at the anger in his tone. She took a step back as he ran a hand through his hair in irritation.

“Damned Viziers and their secrets,” he muttered, before looking her in the eye.

“Just how much did they tell you about who you are? About what you are?” he asked seriously. It took Buffy a moment to catch up with him.

“Wait, they, you mean Giles' people? The sidereels?” she responded.

“Sidereals. Sih-deer-eels,” Angel corrected automatically, pronouncing the word slowly and clearly.

“That I'm a Solar, a member of a group of heroes who tend to go crazy, but I'm important for some reason that they won't tell me, and that I'm Dawn Caste-oh,” Buffy blushed as she remembered what she was trying to think of earlier. Angel didn't seem to be laughing at her, though, so that was good. If anything, he looked relieved.

“Okay, at least they didn't leave you completely in the dark,” he said, looking calmer. Then he met her questioning gaze.

“I guess you're wondering about me, huh?” he asked with a grin, and Buffy nodded confirmation.

“I,” Angel said with a theatrical flourish of his arms, “am a Lunar. I'm the shield to your sword, the guard to your king, the Seraph to your Archangel. I am a Steward of Creation, the Burning Moon, and Luna's Warrior.”

Buffy tried to follow all of that, and gave up with a sigh.

“I understood none of that,” Buffy said finally, “Could you go over that again? Slower?

Angel looked disappointed and-hurt?-but he quickly pushed whatever he was thinking aside, and heaved a sigh.

“Never mind,” he said at last, “It's not important.. I'm sure you've got some place to be, and people to be there with, and I need to get settled in here, anyways. Look, I'll call you sometime, and we'll set up a meeting, or something.”

Buffy looked at him for a moment, and detected nothing but the truth from him. She nodded, and he quickly turned and walked away into the shadows of the alley way.

“It was nice meeting you,” she called out, but received no response. She stared at the darkness for a few moments before shaking her head.

“That was weird as heck,” she muttered to herself as she walked on towards the Bronze. She was late as it was, and she didn't want Willow and Xander to think that she'd ditched them and leave.
–Willow–

Willow sat at the bar absently staring into her coke. Xander was off looking for Buffy. Again. Willow knew she shouldn't be surprised, but she'd really thought that Buffy liked them. Willow hoped that she at least wouldn't show up with Cordelia.


“Hey, this seat taken?” a cheery voice asked beside her, and Willow jumped and turned her head as Buffy sat next to her, looking gorgeous in a white tee-shirt and blue jeans. Beneath Willow's happiness at not being stood up, even by just a new friend, there was a bit of envy.

“Sorry for my lateness,” Buffy said apologetically, “I ran into an old family friend on the way here, and I lost track of time.”

“It's fine,” Willow said hurriedly, “you're here now, that what counts.”

“Yup,” Buffy said with a mock serious look, and smiled. There was a moment of silence, while Willow struggled to think of something else to say.

“How do you do that?” she blurted out, to Buffy's bemusement, “Look so good all the time, I mean.”

“Magic,” Buffy said with an odd little smile, and before Willow could respond, she changed the subject.

“So, you here with anyone, or just waiting on me?”

“No, I'm not here with anyone!” Willow said quickly, “I mean, I'm her with you, and Xander's around, but we haven't been together since he stole my Barbie.”

Buffy raised an eyebrow at that, and Willow smiled a bit and clarified.

“We were in Kindergarten,” she explained.

“That makes more sense,” Buffy said with a smile.

“Yeah,” Willow continued, making a study of her drink, “I don't actually date a whole lot. Ever.”

“Why not?” Buffy asked, genuine curiosity in her voice. Something compelled Willow to elaborate.

“Well,” she tried to search for the words to explain, “Whenever I'm with a boy I like, I can never say anything cool, or witty, or even just anything. I usually just make a few little vowel sounds, and make up an excuse to leave.”
“Hmm, that's pretty bad,” Buffy agreed.

“It really is,” Willow said glumly, “Boys tend to like a girl who can talk.”

“I'd make a joke about that, but somehow I don't think you'd appreciate it right now,” Buffy said, with an odd look that Willow couldn't quite place.

“It's probably really easy for you,” Willow muttered, envy clear in her voice, “I'm sure boys are lining up around the corner to date you.”

Buffy smiled at that, but it wasn't a happy one.

“Yeah, they pretty much are,” she acknowledged, “but that doesn't make it easy.”

Willow gave Buffy a disbelieving look.

“It's true,” Buffy insisted, “Look, think of it this way: Could you be an equal partner in a math competition with someone who didn't even know algebra?”

“Of course not,” Willow said, “But what does that-”

“Willow, I say this not in arrogance, but as a fact: I am too good for most of the guys who want me. I'm intelligent, I'm pretty, I'm better at fighting than most hardened street thugs, and I'm never afraid to speak my mind. Most guys I've tried to date don't want a talkative, attractive girl who could kick their asses. They want a pretty, quiet trophy. That's why I didn't reject Xander out of hand. I know he's only interested in me for my looks right now, but I also know that with him, that could change. He's weird enough that he might be able to take a relationship where he isn't necessarily the big, bad man.”

Willow stared at Buffy as her speech wound to a close. It was only now occurring to her just how little she knew the girl next to her, and just how useless appearances were for judging people.
Buffy met Willow's eyes with deadly seriousness.

“You wanna hear my philosophy?” she asked, and Willow nodded quickly.

“My philosophy is this:,” Buffy went on, “Life is short, life is fragile, and someday, its gonna be over. Someday, Willow, is going to be the last day of your life. If that day was today, if you knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that tomorrow, you were going to die, what would you regret most? What would you wish you had done? What would you want to have experienced, what would you do if right here, right now, was the last chance you were ever going to get?”

Willow had the sudden, and entirely unexpected urge to kiss Buffy then and there. She crushed down on the impulse as soon as it appeared, shocked and embarrassed, her cheeks flaring red.

“Think about it,” Buffy said seriously, and then her head shot around, up towards the second floor above them.

“I'll be back in a minute,” she said, standing up, “I think I just saw an old friend of mine.”

As Buffy walked off, Willow turned her head to the dance floor, Buffy's words ringing in her ears.

“If I was gonna die, what would I want to do?” she whispered to herself, and almost jumped as someone sat down in Buffy's recently vacated seat with a thump.

“Aw, don't go diein' on me, darling,” an attractive voice sounded, “I haven't even bought you a drink yet.”
–Buffy–

“Okay, you're slipping,” Buffy said frankly as she leaned on the railing next to Giles, “I saw you all the way from the bar.”

“Something terrible is about to happen,” Giles said seriously, “And I haven't the faintest idea how to stop it.”

“Okay, rewind:” Buffy said sharply, “What's going to happen?”

“I don't know,” Giles said, eyes closed, “Just that it will be terrible. Someone here is going to die tonight. Someone innocent. There will be blood, and pain, and laughter. It will not be noticeable at first. The death will seem inconsequential. But a chain reaction of tragedies will occur. I know not the exact nature of the chain, but it will result in wide-scale death and destruction, and a figure of darkest shadow is at the center.”

“Are there any clues about the person?” Buffy asked, mind racing as she watched the crowd with Giles. She couldn't see anything, but she didn't know anything to see!

“Just this: Save the Rosen Tree, and the world will follow. That echoed in my ears, along with the vision. Nothing more.”

Buffy thought, trying to make connections. Roses. Flowers. Plant. Tree. Leaf. Plant. Rosen Tree. Rosenburg. Willow.


“Willow Rosenburg,” Buffy said suddenly, “Could it be her? Willow tree? Rosenburg? Rosen tree?”

“Buffy, you're a genius, and sometimes I despise the Maidens,” Giles said, spinning towards her, “Where is she, where is Willow?”

“Right down there-” Buffy began, pointing to the bar, only to see an empty seat where Willow had been sitting.

“Damn, damn, damn!” Giles cursed, slamming his hands on the railing, denting the metal.

“There she is!” Buffy exclaimed, pointing across the room, near the dance floor. Willow was walking off with a man dressed in a red outfit right out of the seventies.

“Vampire,” Giles stated, “Buffy-” but she was already gone, vaulted over the railing and running through the crowd. With a sigh, Giles made a mental note. Appointment with Willow Rosenburg about preventing her death, five minutes from now.

Giles' eyes flashed briefly, and he felt a pull in his gut, and he moved swiftly towards the staircase, determination replacing fear. Now he had enough information to make an appointment.

And a Sidereal never misses an appointment.
–Buffy–

Buffy ran through the crowds, people unconsciously parting around her. In mere seconds she had crossed the room to where she saw Willow, but she was gone. A doorway labeled Bathrooms, Exit was right there. Made sense. She ran through the door, and right into Cordelia, sending the other girl almost to the floor. Buffy's hand shot out automatically to catch her and pull her upright. Cordelia opened her mouth, an indignant expression on her face, but Buffy spoke quicker.

“Cordelia, have you seen Willow?” she demanded.

“Okay, first, no, I haven't seek Wonder-Geek, and second, rude mu-ack!” she started scathingly, before a hand around her throat slammed her into the wall. Fierce green eyes met her brown ones, and a thrill of primal fear ran through her.

“Willow left here with someone I'm pretty sure is a serial killer. She's his next victim. You don't like her, but that doesn't mean you want her dead. You're better than that, Cordelia. And you can be more than what you are. Help me find Willow. Do something for someone else for once. You can be better, Cordelia. You can be more.”

With those words, the hand released its grip on Cordelia's throat. She met Buffy's eyes and nodded.
“I'll round up a search party,” she said, “Most of my friends are here, and all of us hotties together can get a lot of guys to look.”

“Good,” Buffy nodded, “And get them to watch out for anyone suspicious. The killer's here somewhere, even if it turns out that Willow's fine. Make sure everyone knows not to go anywhere with anyone they don't know personally.”

“Got it,” Cordelia confirmed, and with that Buffy was off again, and Cordelia was taking her first, albeit unknowing, steps towards becoming something more.



As Buffy made for the exit, a shout behind her made her pause.

“Buffy, wait, what was that about Willow?” Xander was running up behind her, alarm on his face, “I heard part of that with Cordelia, what's going on?”

“Willow might have been kidnapped by a killer, I'm looking for her. Cordelia is getting a search party together, go help her,” Buffy said as she strode out into the night air.

“Maybe I wanna help you find Willow,” Xander said, catching up with her.

“Can you fight?” Buffy asked. Xander frowned.

“I've been in a scrap or two, but I don't think we should tackle a serial killer,” he said hesitantly.

“Go find Giles,” Buffy ordered, “He's in the Bronze, tell him they're headed for the cemetery, and I'm heading them off.”

“Gotcha,” Xander nodded as Buffy's invisible Essence overrode his objections, and he turned around to head back in the club. Then he paused and turned back around.

“Wait,” he called out, “Who's Giles?”

But she was already gone. Remembering what she'd said, Xander hesitated a moment, grabbed an empty glass bottle from the sidewalk, and ran off towards the graveyard.

–Willow–

“Sure is dark out,” Willow said conversationally. The silence they'd been walking in had been uncomfortable. Tomas, the guy from the bar, had offered take her out for ice cream. Willow had decided that missing out on being treated to ice cream by a cute guy would definitely be one of those things she'd regret when she died.

“It's night,” Tomas pointed out with a smile.

“Um,” Willow began, unsure whether or not she was about to sound uncool, “The ice cream place is down that road back there.”

“If you cut through the south end of the cemetery, it shaves almost five minutes off the walk,” he reassured her with a smile. Willow blushed, but nodded.

“Good to know,” she said, and then a blur rushed by her and threw her aside, somehow making sure she landed softly, and her world exploded into golden light. She looked up, and saw Buffy standing in front of her, glowing, radiating power, and Tomas flinching away from her.

“You are so dead,” Buffy snarled.

“I beg to differ,” a new voice said, and something strong grabbed her by the hair and hoisted her up. Buffy spun, glaring at the massive man who was pulling Willow's neck to the side, exposing her jugular, and Willow caught a glimpse of a ridged face, golden, demonic eyes and terrible fangs before she shut her eyes tight, willing herself to wake up.

“Let her go,” came the cold order, and Buffy felt the man-no, the thing, holding her chuckle.

“Well, since you asked nicely, I supposed I could give you her corpse. When I'm done with it.”

Willow chanced opening her eyes, just in time to see Buffy's hand snap back, grab Tomas by the hair and flip him over her shoulder, before stamping her foot into his face, crushing his skull down through to the ground with a sickening cross between a crack and a squish and causing his body to burst into dust.

“Last fucking warning,” Buffy snarled, as a brilliant golden disc flared to life on her forehead and golden light radiated out around her like a physical thing, seeming to make her grow in stature, and Willow felt small and terrified, she wanted to curl into a ball and hide away from the golden goddess in front of her, to fall to her knees and beg for mercy. The demon holding her let go as he stepped back in fear, and Willow curled into a fetal ball, crying and begging to something, anything, to make this all a dream.

“What are you?” the demon whispered in awe and terror.

“What am I?” came a terribly powerful, merciless voice, and the light and power drew closer, and Willow curled up tighter.

“I'm Buffy Summers, and I am the Dawn!”

–Buffy–

Buffy felt nothing but contempt for the abomination in front of her. This thing was going to hurt Willow, to kill her, to desecrate her corpse. Buffy felt no hesitation as she answered moved faster than the eye could see, to come face to face with the monster as she answered his question.

“I'm Buffy Summers,” she said coldly, her eyes narrowed with hate as she drew back her arm to pronounce judgment.

“And I am the Dawn!” she snarled and punched. Her fist punched through skin and bone and blood and brain like so much wet tissue paper, and her hand exited the back of the vampire's skull, covered in long deceased brain matter, and the demon's eyes widened briefly before it exploded into dust. Buffy stood still a moment as the power flowed through her body. She heard several distant screams, but none near enough to pose a threat.

“What. The. Hell?” came a familiar male voice. Xander stood by a gravestone a few yards away, mouth open in shock, a broken beer bottle held loosely in his hand.

Buffy looked down by her feet, where Willow was still curled up in a ball, crying quietly. Giles came striding up from the direction the screams had been coming from, as calm and British as always.

“Buffy, I think you had best let me do the explaining,” he said quietly, and Buffy nodded, still surrounded by the golden power of the sun, and agreed.

“Probably a good idea...”

–End Chapter–



The One Girl in All The World, empowered by the sheer might of the Dawn

A Shattered Soul, offered one last chance for redemption...

A Star Chosen Mentor, whose hidden secrets can only be guessed at...

This is their Tale.

Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover.

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 Post subject: Re: Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover PostPosted: 2012-10-17 08:38pm
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A couple faults... the headers that change viewpoints got shoved up against the prior paragraphs, and there's a couple places with wonky sentences.

Example: ** if she'd known that it Giles was choking on his own laughter **

Otherwise... OMG I WANT MORE!!!!!!



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Librium Arcana, Where Gamers Play!
Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.

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 Post subject: Re: Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover PostPosted: 2012-10-18 09:15am
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Of Horrors Best Unknown
A/N: I find that listening to Indestructible, by Disturbed, really puts me in the zone for Solar awesomeness.

Also: This doesn't transfer my italics/bold, so there mind be some incongruencies in diologue where I missed manually putting it in.

Also, there's some graphic content in this chapter that some may find disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.


–Start Chapter–

It was a somber group that sat around the table in the library, moonlight shining dimly through the windows. Several books lay open on the wood, and a tray of cookies and tea rested in the center. Nearest the shelves sat Xander, staring at Giles with narrowed eyes, waiting for the promised explanation. Across, closer to the doors, sat Buffy, her radiant aura dormant within her once more, her caste sign faded back into her head. Bright green eyes darted around the room, ever alert for danger. And between the two of them sat Willow, staring dully into her tea, clearly still shaken from her experience, and understandably so.

Giles himself at at the opposite end of the table, his books in front of him as he prepared his explanation.

“The first thing that you must know,” he said quietly, “is that this universe is both far older and far younger than you know. What do you know of the Old Gods?”

Xander's frowned in confusion.
“Just what they teach us is Elementary Mythology,” he said slowly, “That the Old Gods ruled the universe with callous cruelty, until the Sun, Moon, and Stars united with the Earth to overthrow them.”

Giles nodded.

“Fundamentally correct, though vastly simplified,” he said, but Xander cut him off.

“Wait, they're real?!” he demanded, his eyes widening in fear. Giles nodded.

“All of them?” Xander pressed. Giles' expression darkened perceptibly.

“Oh, yes,” he murmured, “Lost though our records may be, we have never been allowed to forget those horrors.”

Xander paled.

“Wait, didn't the Sun imprison them?” came Willow's voice for the first time since her capture. Giles turned to her and nodded once more.

“The Old Gods, the Primordials, were defeated and cast into the shattered and twisted body of their King, Malfeas,” Giles confirmed, “But what you do not know is how this was accomplished.”

At those words he turned his gaze to Buffy.

“There is a figure missing from your myths,” he said, “A great and mighty inventor, the Primordial source of technology and innovation. It is to him that we owe human ingenuity. It is to him that we owe our freedom. He saw our despair, he saw our suffering, and he devised a plan. He sought out the Unconquered Sun, Luna, who you know as the Moon, the Five Maidens, who are referred to as the Stars, and Gaia, called the Earth. In secret, he told them of his plan to craft weapons usable only by man, Shards of great power that would seek out those with great destiny. With the Unconquered Sun, he crafted Shards for those of great compassion and valor, those with the inner strength to be true heroes. With Luna, he crafted shards of Wyld power, granting those with the fortitude to persevere the might of any animal that they could hunt and kill, and the skill and speed with which to defy reality itself. For the Five Maidens, he crafted Shards of Fate, giving their Chosen the ability to foresee the future and manipulate the strands of Fate. For Gaia, he showed her the way to make an army of herself, thousands upon thousands of warriors, individually inferior to the Shard Chosen, but far more numerous, and able to reproduce and make more of themselves.”

“Solar, Lunar, Sidereal, Terrestrial,” Buffy murmured softly. Giles nodded.

“That is correct,” he confirmed, “These were the Exalted, and they gave the Gods an army with which to oppose the Primordials. A long and bloody war ensued, but the gods were victorious in the end, and they locked the Primordials away, banished forever from Creation. After the war, the Gods, now known as the Celestial Incarnae to their worshipers, ascended to heaven, and left rule of Creation to the Exalted. To the Solars was given absolute rule, to the Lunars was given the duty of Steward, to rule where Solars could not and forever guard the Chosen of the Sun. The armies were formed of the Dragon-Blooded and their kin, and the Sidereals were named Viziers, and given the duty to guide the Solars in all things.”

Giles paused and sighed heavily.

“And then it all went terribly wrong,” he said darkly, “The Solars ruled wisely, for a time, and were even affectionately named Lawgivers. But then, something happened to them. They attacked the Terrestrials, the Dragon-Blooded, for some unknown reason, and forced Sidereal intervention. A vast army of Terrestrial, Sidereal and mortal forces arrayed against the Solars, and after years of brutal fighting, the Solars were killed to the last warrior. During this time, the Lunars vanished, and only one yet lives. The Terrestrials were hideously weakened in the fighting, losing over ninety-nine percent of their numbers. The Sidereals, my own people-”

“You're a Sidereal?” Xander interrupted suddenly, to Giles' displeasure.

“Yes, now as I was saying,” Giles continued as though he hadn't been interrupted, “We Sidereals lost fully three-quarters of our number, and we still don't know why they have never been reborn. Everything went down from there. Millenia past, and we tried to hold the world together. Century after century, it just got worse. First came an incursion from Malfeas, which destroyed most of out records of the First Age, what we call the era in which the Solar Exalted ruled. We sealed it off, at a great cost. We lost most of the Dragon-Blooded again, and most of us died as well. It took over three-hundred years to restore our organization to anything resembling a fighting force. Then-” here Giles grimaced darkly.

“Then came the Deathlords,” he with quiet hatred, “We know not where they came from, only that they are the remnants of the greatest Solars of the First Age, serving the Fallen Primordials, the Neverborn, the ones slain during the War in Heaven. Our greatest leader, a man known as Chejop-Kejak, encountered them when, three millenia ago, they sought to destroy all mankind by means of a terrible plague.”

“The Great Contagion,” Willow whispered, her head shooting up to meet Giles' grim gaze.

“The very same,” he confirmed, “Kejak found out that the plague was magical in nature when it began killing Sidereals and Dragon-Blooded, and defying all efforts to divine a cure. In the end, he tracked down the source, the thirteen Deathlords of the Underworld. He engaged the mastermind of the plague, the one known as the Mask of Winters, along with four other senior members of the Bronze Faction, the group he'd founded to overthrow the Solars. He was met by the First and Forsaken Lion and the Lover Clad in Raiment of Tears. Five ancient and powerful Sidereals against three Deathlords. Their foes were terrible, but Kejak should have won.”

Giles face twisted in bitter rage.

“And he would have,” he spat, “If the Deathlords hadn't been working on yet another abominable project. Creatures, demons, formed of pure Abyssal darkness, scrounged from the very depths of the Labyrinth, the home of the Neverborn. They wove these demonic presences into the souls of heroic mortals, and thus were the first vampires born. Individually, not even a match for a skilled Dragon-Blooded, they were many, and able to create more of themselves. And as they aged, their powers grew to the point that the oldest of them posed a threat to newborn Celestial Exalts. These monstrous creations struck from the shadows, falling in scores to the Charms of Chejop and his fellows, but they served their purpose. The Deathlords slew Kejak and his four friends, and with his final breath, Kejak struck out at the twisted heart of the Manse, the magical focus point, where the Plague was housed, and destroyed it utterly, rendering the plague unable to spread further. The resulting explosion injured the three Deathlords terribly, and slew all vampires present. But the Contagion had served its purpose. The Sidereals were crippled, the Dragon-Blooded cut down by fully three fifths of their number, and ninety-percent of mortals fell before the plague.”

Giles looked wearily at the three teens.

“What happened next, we are not proud of” he said with a sigh, “But it had to be done. We were no longer able to safeguard Creation effectively. Something had to be done. And so the three most ancient Sidereals and the three most powerful Dragon-Blooded sought the materials that they needed, and made their way to a place of unspeakable power, and performed a long-forbidden ritual.”

A gasp came from Willow, while Xander met Giles' gaze with an unreadable expression, until the Exalt turned away. Buffy was silent, having already heard this tale, though she did look uneasy.

“It was based around a young girl, pure of heart and strong of mind, able and willing to bear the weight of the world on her shoulders. The Sidereal masters took a fraction of their own power and bound it with the three Dragon-Blooded warriors' Essence, mixed with a fraction of the Darkness that the girl would be forced to fight, and with it created a metaphysical Shard of immense power.”

Giles' expression was grim as he looked directly at the teens.

“And thus we created the Slayer Exaltation, to fight fire with fire. The Slayer Shard is just short of a Lunar Shard in sheer strength, and absorbs the lives and memories of the girls it inhabits, creating a line of warriors able to pass their knowledge down to their successors. And warriors they are, for the Slayer exists only to hunt vampires and Creatures of Darkness. They are perhaps the most potent weapon of good since the fall of the Solars. It is both the most valuable and most monstrous creation of my order. Our greatest triumph, mixed with our greatest shame.”

Here Giles turned to look at Buffy, a sad look in his eyes.

“Once, we thought you were to be the Slayer. But then-”

“Then I Exalted as a Solar, and ruined all of your carefully made little plans,” Buffy said, a cheerful, teasing smile on her face.

“Indeed,” Giles said dryly, a small smiled managing to force its way past the guilt, “In any case, Willow, Xander, I wanted to tell you this so that you know, despite the dangers, people are out there, fighting, and that even in the darkest of times, the Slayer will be there. When one dies, another is called. And now, we have Buffy as well. You both will play an important part, but not on the front lines. You will only rarely be in direct danger.”

There was a moment of silence.

“You're insane,” Xander said flatly, “The Old Gods being real? Vampires? Exalted? Hybrid hive-mind super chicks? You're insane.”

“And how do you explain Buffy saving me?” Willow suddenly snapped with a glare at Xander, “How do you explain her suddenly becoming ten feet tall?!”

“Actually, that was an illusion, I wasn't actually-” Buffy began, but Xander wasn't listening.

“Bad guys exist, they kidnap people, but that doesn't mean that they're vampires!” he retorted sharply, “And Buffy, I like you, and I appreciate what you did for Willow, but you can't expect me to believe this, this...I don't know what it is, but it isn't real! It can't be.”

Buffy met Xander's fear-filled eyes, and he felt a warm, soft presence rush through him, filling him with peace.

“Xander,” she said softly, “I know that this is hard to believe. And believe me, I know how scary it is, to suddenly find out that the monsters under your bed are real. But can you really explain away what happened tonight? What you saw me do? Look at my hands,” she extended her hands, palms up, then down, “No blood, no gore, no wounds. I punched a man's head apart. How can you explain that?”

“People can get really strong in stressful situations...” Xander tried weakly, and Buffy smiled softly.

“Xander, that would account for me shattering his jaw and breaking every bone in my hands. I'm unharmed. And he turned into a cloud of dust.”

Xander was silent, clearly trying to think of an explanation, any explanation, to prevent the truth he didn't want to see.

Buffy reached out and took his hand in hers, squeezing it gently.

“It's going to be scary, Xander, living in my world, but I know you can do it,” she said firmly, “I believe that you can be more than the class clown. More than the joker, more than just the guy who gets the snacks. Come with me, Xander, and I'll show you a world bright and darker, more brilliant and more terrible than you ever thought possible. And I promise, through the good and the bad, I'll be there to protect both you and Willow. Because both of you can be more. This is the moment of destiny, Xander. Willow's accepted it. Will you? Can you be a hero?”

Xander was quiet for a moment, his eyes closed, as the glowing warmth radiating off of Buffy, her Caste Mark shining brightly, covered him in a feeling of true calm. He opened his eyes, and saw the most beautiful vision he had ever seen before him. This wasn't the stunning girl that had gotten out of her mom's car earlier that week. This wasn't the terrifying bringer of destruction he'd seen in the graveyard. This was something...more.

At that moment, Xander could truly believe that he was looking at an angel, descended from Heaven itself to come speak to him. Despite himself, he smiled wryly.

“Well, when you put it like that,” he sighed, “How can I say no?”

Willow nodded her approval with a smile.

“We'll help however we can!” she promised fiercely.

“I'm glad to hear that,” Giles said quietly, and the three teens turned to face the forgotten Sidereal, “Because, as it turns out, Buffy will need your help.”

“Really?” Xander said in surprise, “What could we actually do, ya know, aside from die? I mean, I could carry her books, but that's not much of a need-”

Giles smiled despite himself.

“No, Xander, book carrying isn't what I'm referring to. Tell me something, Xander, how do you think all of these supernatural things could be hidden? An incurable plague, cataclysmic battles, ancient heroes and the demons they fight. You'd think that, eventually, this would become obvious, wouldn't you?”

“I was wondering about that, myself,” Buffy admitted. Giles nodded, and pushed a book towards them. On the open page was a picture of a constellation that looked remarkably like a mask, split right down the middle.

“Long ago,” Giles began to explain, “we Sidereals were faced with the same problem. The mortals were being constantly caught in the crossfire between the Dragon-Blooded and the Vampires, as well as a myriad of other, less common demons. Mortals would form groups to hunt and kill these creatures, and inevitably they died horrific deaths, and many of them ended up providing potent hosts for our enemies. So, we came up with a plan.”

Giles laid a finger on the constellation and continued.

“This is the Constellation of the Mask. It holds a powerful magical importance to the Sidereals. It was a symbol of our devotion to our fight from the shadows, and the methods to which we would go to remain hidden. Long ago, we devised a powerful ritual, based in very potent Sorcery, that would forever hide us, and our foes, from the prying eyes of mortals. For twenty days and twenty-three hours we poured our Essence, our magic, for lack of a more easily understood comparison, into the spell. And on the first hour of the twenty-first day, we finished the spell. We shattered the Mask, and in doing so, we shattered our own identities. We lack a face or name of our own outside of our circle, and must take on fabricated identities. This is our price, for obscuring the supernatural from mortal eyes.”

Willow was the first to break the silence.

“So, you aren't really Rupert Giles, then?” she asked, frowning in confusion. Giles smiled.

“That is not my name, nor this my face, but my mannerisms, my voice, my thoughts, these are yet mine, and these are what Rupert Giles is made of. Believe me, you'll have some trouble remembering this for several weeks, which is why I am going to have to make a point of reminding you everyday, lest you lose all memory of me,” Giles responded with a smile. Willow nodded, seeming to accept that.

“Alright,” Xander said, clapping his hands suddenly, “Are we all caught up now? Because it's one A.M., and I'm exhausted.”

“Not even close,” Buffy said with a slight chuckle.

“Nevertheless,” Giles interjected, “It is sufficient for tonight. We'll talk more later. For now, I'll give you all a ride home. Don't worry about your parents, I'll explain everything.”

“Really?” Xander said doubtfully, at which point he caught Buffy's amused smile.

“Giles is a Sidereal,” she said pointedly, “He can lie to anyone, about anything, no matter how ridiculous, and they'll totally buy it.”

“Indeed,” Giles said dryly, as he picked up his keys, “Now, if we're done with the questioning, I think it really is high past time you all went home.”

And with that, the weary group set off at a trot towards the library doors, and on towards home.

–Meanwhile, Angel–

Angel stood in the desolate cemetery where so recently he had felt the Anima of the Dawn flare brightly. He'd seen it from across town, and had rushed to her aid, just in time to see the Vizier felling the last of the vampires. A feral grin crossed his face. He'd known most of the vamps present, and he had to say, watching that Sidereal at work had been pretty entertaining. Angel wasn't sure that even he could have killed them that horribly.

He chuckled out loud. Who was he kidding? Of course he could have, and had he arrived first, he would have done far worse. Suddenly, he tensed. An ancient, powerful presence was weighing down on him, like a great weight pressing him down, willing his submission. A growl welled up deep in his throat. He submitted to no one!

“Show yourself, or I feed you your own intestines,” he snarled to the shadows, the hairs on the back of his neck standing straight.

“Down, boy,” came a mostly bored, but still slightly amused voice, echoing at him from all directions, “I'm a friend.”

With a snarl, Angel loosed a flash of Essence, chasing the shadows away in a large diameter around him. He spun around, seeking the newcomer.

“I have very few friends,” he growled, “And all of them know that people who sneak up on me usually end up dead.”

“Is that so?” came the drawling, patronizing voice, “Well, I'll keep that in mind. I certainly wouldn't want to be on your bad side, Angelus.”

“Don't call me that!” Angel all but roared, bringing his Essence to bear as he sought out the voice, blocking all other sounds and sights. With brutal speed, he spun to the left and threw a small knife into the shadows. A hand shot out and caught the knife by the tip.

“Now, now, that wasn't polite at all,” the voice said disapprovingly, and Angel saw an indistinct, but clearly humanoid figure standing in the shadows. It casually flicked his knife aside, and Angel let out another low growl.

“You're one to speak of politeness,” he mocked, “Hiding in the shadows, taunting me. If you want a fight, why not face me head on?”

“Two extremely good reasons,” came the voice, now bored again.

“Oh?” Angel asked challengingly.

“Yes,” the voice spoke again, without change in tone, “The first being that, despite appearances, I do not wish a fight with you. The second is that, even if I wanted to fight you, to face you head on would be suicide. One does not simply engage a Lunar Exalted, especially not one so close to Elder status.”

The hostile expression on Angel's face changed to one of wary caution.

“How do you know what I am?” he demanded, “Are you a Watcher? A Sidereal?”

A chuckle brought back Angel's irritated growl.

“Now that, Angel, would be telling. For now, you must simply be content to know that I have your best interests at heart. Indeed, I even bring a warning.”

“A warning?” Angel's mind snapped back towards caution.

“Yes, that is what I said,” the voice snapped, irritation clear in its tone, and Angel couldn't help smiling. He'd finally gotten to it.

“In any case,” it went on, clearly still annoyed, “The warning is this: The Slayer is coming. It knows you're here. It remembers you, and wants you dead. It doesn't yet know of her, but I'm sure it won't be happy when it finds out.”

Angel paled.

“Are you sure?” he demanded, “Are you sure it's the Slayer?”

“I saw it begin its journey myself. A vampire delivered the message, and I watched as the Slayer tore the beast's head from its shoulders. I heard it curse your name, and watched it buy a bus ticket heading in this direction.”

“How long?” Angel demanded, “How much time do I have? If it thinks she's important to me-”

“Knows,” the voice absently corrected, “She is important to you, and it already knows. Its network is...efficient, to say the least. And you have perhaps three or so months. I made sure that its bus will end up in Montreal instead of California, and I know for a fact that there is a young Deathknight there that very much desires its blood.”

Despite himself, Angel grinned at that.

“Alright,” he nodded, “That's enough time, I think.”

“Good,” the shadow said approvingly, “Be on your guard at all times, and don't trust the Watcher. He has a great many secrets, all important, some gained from...darker sources, and all jealously guarded from those who need to know them most.”

Angel snorted in mixed disgust and amusement.

“Of course they are,” he spat, “Damn Watchers, always think that they know best. Arrogant fools.”

“Indeed,” the voice was definitely amused this time, “You know, Angel, I think we might become very good friends someday.”

“For that to happen, I need to know your name,” Angel said sharply, with a suddenly pointed look.

“Perhaps next time,” the voice said after a moment's thought, “For now, I shall simply wish you well, and I will bring any further news of import to you straight away.”

“I appreciate that,” Angel said diplomatically, and suddenly the shadows lifted. The presence of doom was gone, and the darkness was no longer so dark.

“Huh,” Angel said after a moment, “Weird guy.”

–Buffy–

As Giles drove away in his beat-up old car after dropping Willow and Xander off at their respective houses, Buffy turned to look at the Sidereal with a pointed stare. After a moment with no response, Buffy sighed and spoke.

“I assume you have a good reason for not telling them that you have no idea who the Slayer is, and that the last three were at war with the Watcher's Council?” she said with clear disapproval.

“Yes,” Giles said simply. Buffy waited.

“And the reason is...?” she pressed.

“They needed reassurance, and what you said was not reassuring,” came the flat answer.

“And what about honesty?” Buffy asked, frowning.

“Overrated,” Giles said sharply, emotion entering his tone at last, “They are important, Buffy, more than you know. I don't want them running away from this, and if that means keeping secrets until they can deal with it, then so be it!”

“Uh-huh,” Buffy nodded, her eyes narrowly, “And what is it that you're keeping from me?”

Giles felt Buffy's Essence flare, and instantly he raised his in response.

“Nothing,” he said flatly, “You aren't a mortal, Buffy, you are a Solar. I don't need to lie to protect you.”

Buffy's face relaxed and she smiled a bit as she sensed the honesty he was projecting.

“Alright,” she admitted with a grudging smile, “I guess I can see your point. It doesn't mean I agree, but at least you mean well.”

Giles smiled back at the girl, and shoved aside the small twinge of guilt aside at the danger he was concealing from her as the long-dead remnants of his conscience tried to make itself heard. He was the Watcher, he knew best. She didn't need to know about the threat facing her until he was certain that she was, in fact, facing danger. It was just easier all around, this way.

Then why, something deep in his mind seemed to whisper, do you still have that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach?

Giles pushed the voice aside, in the same direction as his guilt. He knew best. That's why the Maiden of Secrets chose him for this job.

He knew best.

–Below Sunnydale–

The bloody mass of flesh resting on the throne exuded an air of sheer hatred and malevolence. The young woman kneeling before him, and the few vampires behind her, shivered in fear, despite knowing that there was nothing the Master could do to them. Yet.

“So, what you are telling me, Darla,” came the dark rattling rasp of a voice, “Is that not only in my chief acolyte, my priest, Lucas, dead, but with him fell a full seventy percent of my forces?!”

The rasp managed to get a true tone at the last, but the pile of gore lapsed into a coughing fit, blood spraying out from within its lungs and ruined throat.

“Y-yes, my Master,” the woman, Darla, said from within the depths of her blood-red cowl, “But it-it was our fault! The Dawn Caste was there! And a Sidereal!”

The pile of tissue on the throne was silent for a moment.

“So...” he murmured, “That is how it is...”

Silence for a moment, and then-

“I withdraw blame from you, Dear One,”
came the affectionate hiss, “Against such foes, all of you, and perhaps even myself at full, could not have prevailed. Do me a kindness, though, and take a message. I think reinforcements are called for, at this juncture. I think the the time of Dawn has long since passed. Be a dear, and call in the Day, will you? I'm sure she won't mind helping us out for a time.

“But-but Master, I don't think-” Darla began, but a flare of dark power from the figure on the throne silenced her.

“That's right, Darla,” the bloody body rattled, “You don't think. I think. You do what I say, when I say. Now, awaken the Day, and bring her here. Before I grow impatient.”

“As you command, Master,” Darla murmured fearfully, unable to bring herself to look at her lord.

She remembered the last time they'd had dealings with the Deathlords' Chosen, and she couldn't shake the feeling of dread welling up within her stomach.

This was going to be bad, she could just tell.

–Meanwhile, Far Away–

Shrieks of awful agony and moans of fear and pain filled the dark, dank cavern, alongside grating, high-pitched laughter and deeper mirthful chuckles and taunts. The main cavern was a large, circular room, filled with cages which held whimpering figures, curled into balls. The dark rock walls were lined with shackles, to which were bound bloodied figures in various states of starvation. The stench of blood, urine, fear and fecal matter mixed with the stench of death and sex, creating a truly vile smell which permeated the place, seeping into the walls themselves. Deathly beautiful, pale figures stalked the rooms and the halls leading into the rest of the mountain, tormenting the other captives, their specially held concubines. Only in the main chamber could one play at will. And play the vampires did. Throughout the cavern were wall mounts, from which hung various instruments of torture, from the simple and classical whip and knives to the more complex devices, such as the Pear of Anguish and the Spanish Spider. Other, larger devices were situated throughout the main cavern, generally close to the cages. Brands sat in piles of hot coals, and several racks were placed throughout the room, alongside thumbscrews affixed to tables and even a brazen bull device, glowing red and howling with the screams of the unfortunate soul within was visible.

These sights were horrifying enough on their own, but in the center of the massive, village-sized cavern was a raised platform where the dark mistress of that little slice of hell enjoyed herself publicly. The platform itself was nearly one hundred meters across, and one of each torture device, and a few not afforded to the lesser minions, rested, awaiting use. The loudest screams on all came from this dark place, as a raven-haired beauty tended to a mutilated figure, as a small figure watched from a stool nearby.

“Silly little Dragon-Blooded,” the pale woman cooed as she withdrew the bloody knife she'd been twisting into the ruined man's gut, and the howls subsided into pitiful sobs of pain and misery, “Do you see now, after these long days? Will you give up your hope, now, and admit that your brothers abandoned you?”

“Please,” the tortured Exalt gasped, blood flecking past flayed lips, staring sightlessly at his tormentor through bloody eyes made blind from hour after hour in front of a blazing hot lead plate, “just kill me, you win, just don't hurt me anymore, please...”

“Shh, shh,” the woman whispered, stroking the man's skinless face, eliciting a howl of pain as her razor-edged fingernails tore at delicate exposed muscle. She leaned close and captured bloody lips in a passionate kiss, and moans of terror welled up in the Dragon-Blooded's throat as the man began uselessly thrashing at his soul-steel restraints, even as the woman's hands trailed down his naked, hideously beaten chest and thighs, before hovering just over his flayed genitalia.

“Not again, not again, not again, not again,” he begged, his breath hitching in his chest, broken-ribs grinding together and salty tears searing against his ruined face, “please, anything, I'll do whatever you want, my brothers are traitors, they're monsters, they left me here, they should be here, not me, I embrace death, just please, not again!” the Terrestrial soldier's voice rose into a shriek of sheer panic and fear, and the woman smiled as she sensed her captive's will finally break.

“Did you hear that?” she asked the small figure on the stool excitedly, “He gives up!” the woman clapped her hands together happily, “I win again! Do you know what that means?” this question was directed at the bloody wreck tied to the torture slab, now sobbing from sheer relief.

“I die,” he asked, looking up in pathetic hope. The woman nodded excitedly and giggled.

“Yes, but not until you agree to worship me and my lovely Lover!” she said, the expression of awful glee on her face belying her serious tone.

“I agree, I worship you, and your lover, no other!” he gasped desperately, an end to his nightmare himself.

“Ah, nonono, not yet!” she giggled, amused by some joke only she could see, “It only works if you know my name! It'll hurt me, a little, but the pretty glow makes the pain go away!”

“I-I don't know your name,” came the fearful response, but a stifled scream cut off any further words as his scalped head was clutched by the woman's right hand as she leaned into his ear and whispered something.

“Drusilla Keeble! I pledge my soul and my Essence to Drusilla Keeble!” the Terrestrial gasped out through his agony, and then cried out one last time as Drusilla drove her middle finger through his ear and into his brain, ending his life.

“There now, that wasn't so hard, was it?” the finger was torn free with a sickening squelch.

A moment's silence fell over the cavern, and then the Abyssal once known as Drusilla spun around suddenly, clapping her hands and laughing in hysterical madness.

“I get half, I get half,” she crowed in delight, and grabbed the small figure from the stool, “Did you hear him, Miss Edith, he said my name, so I get half of his soul!”

The vampires throughout the chamber watched in a mix of awe and fear as black power surrounded Drusilla and was absorbed into her dancing form. Then, to their surprise, she suddenly stilled.

“Do you hear that?!” she gasped suddenly, cupping a hand to her ear, then looking at the doll in her arms.

“I hear someone calling us, very far away! We're going to have visitors! Visitors, visitors, we're going to have visitors!”

“Well, that isn't ominous,” one vampire in the crowd muttered, before Drusilla absently flicked her wrist and a black knife struck the speaker between the eyes, sending dark energy crackling through his form as he fell screaming to the floor.

“Don't interrupt!” Drusilla snapped, pouting angrily, before suddenly smiling and going back to her dance with Miss Edith. After a moment, the screams and howls resumed, but with a noticeable absence of laughter accompanying it.

–Buffy, the following Monday–

Buffy sat in the back row of the math class, barely listening to the teacher droning on about right angles and volume, or something like that, anyway. She'd never liked math much, and this morning she felt particularly unmathy. She had had an odd sense of loss and longing all weekend, like someone she cared about wasn't there, but could be, if she looked. The constant pangs had her alternating between 'mopey, weepy' Buffy and 'irritable, where the hell are my damn shoes' Buffy. She also hadn't been able to get Angel out of her mind. The way his golden eyes drew her in, his perfectly formed face, how she just wanted to run her fingers through his gorgeous hair, his squeezable-

“Miss Summers, are you listening?” a stern voice demanded, and Buffy snapped out of her daydream with a blush.

“Of-of course,” she stammered, and her teacher narrowed her eyes in disbelief.

“Really? Then I'm sure you won't explaining the Pythagorean Theorem for the rest of the class?”

Buffy's mind raced, noticing the eyes of the class upon her, and sheepishly she met her teacher's gaze.

“Um, actually, I wasn't paying attention, she confessed, “I'm not really feeling well, today.”

The teacher's eyes softened.

“In that case, let me write you a pass to the nurse,” she said kindly, and Buffy smiled gratefully.

'Dodged a bullet there,' she thought to herself.

A few minutes later, as she walked down the halls, she heard someone call her name.

“Hey, Buffy, Buffster, Buffinator, what's up?”

She turned her head and saw Xander running up alongside her, a goofy grin on his face. She returned his smile tiredly.

“'Buffinator'?” she queried in amusement. One thing that could be said for Xander, he could make her smile.

“Yeah, you know, like the Terminator,” Xander explained as he slowed to meet her pace through the empty hall, “Powerful cyborg from the future, sent back to first kill, and later protect, the future savior of mankind, John Connor.”

“Ah, yes,” Buffy raised an eyebrow in amusement, “Because I am a cyborg sent to destroy and protect humanity's future hero. It makes perfect sense.”

“Meh,” Xander shrugged, “Bullet-proof cyborg, walking divine intervention, same diff, really.”

“Indeed,” Buffy nodded mock-seriously, and they both broke out chuckling.

“So,” Xander said after a moment of companionable silence, “I'm taking my sweet time delivering forms to Giles, who mysteriously cannot be found-”

“Did you check the bagel?” Buffy asked suddenly, and Xander gave her an odd look.

“Never mind, inside joke,” Buffy waved his confusion off, “Continue.”

“Well, since I can't find him, I'm wandering around aimlessly with a signed form that says “Don't come back without a signed receipt from Mr. Giles!”, and I'm gonna milk that little mistake for all its worth. But why is the great and good Buffy Summers wandering around the hallways during class time?”

“Not feeling the mathness, right now,” Buffy admitted, “So I said I had wasn't feeling well, and the teacher sent me to the nurse.”

Xander whistled and gave her an impressed look.

“Playing sick to get out of class,” he grinned, “Naughty girl.”

“Well, I do have a headache, if that makes a difference,” Buffy said defensively, but the smile on her face belied her words.

“Don't worry Buffy,” Xander said seriously, “Your secret rule-breaking habits are safe with me. It would take a bribe of at least ten dollars for me to betray your confidence, and in any case I'd give you a chance to make a counter-offer.”

“Your chivalry is appreciated,” Buffy said with a grin, and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. Xander froze in place for a moment, his hand reaching automatically for his cheek, where he could still feel the residual tingle of her lips on his skin. Buffy walked ahead a few steps, before turning around with a mischievous grin.
“Wanna ditch and hit the mall?”

Xander's eyes widened a bit more, and a grin made its way to his face as well.

“Sure,” he said quickly, and with that, the two made their way to the entrance of the school, and Buffy was happy to feel able to shove the longing in her gut aside for the time being, as she enjoyed the new sensation of normal teenage mischief.




–End Chapter–

And on that upbeat note, I invite questions, comments, and curses. I'm always trying to improve my vocabulary, after all.



The One Girl in All The World, empowered by the sheer might of the Dawn

A Shattered Soul, offered one last chance for redemption...

A Star Chosen Mentor, whose hidden secrets can only be guessed at...

This is their Tale.

Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover.

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 Post subject: Re: Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover PostPosted: 2012-10-20 10:59pm
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Joined: 2009-11-21 09:05am
Posts: 8
Omake: Bathtime
A/N: I know the title is damning, but it isn't what you're thinking. It really, really, REALLY isn't what you're thinking. There is ZERO sex in this Omake. Seriously, it ISN'T that kind of story.

A/N2: Also, I cannot possibly stress how non-canon this is. The characters in this Omake are NOT indicative of their counterparts in the main story, nor are any Charms or Virtue Flaws shown. Any relation between this short and later chapters is purely coincidental/accidental.

Also, this Omake is entirely rule of funny, so any Charms which are inaccurately portrayed, consider them Stunts approved by the storyteller, i.e. me.

Thought: What if Buffy and Angel were to Limit Break at the same time?

Angel's Virtue Flaw: Compassion: Curse of the Mother Hen.

Buffy's Virtue Flaw: Conviction: Deliberate Cruelty.

Result: Just...just read it. I can't do it justice otherwise.

–Start Short–

Spike sat in Giles' comfy couch, a pint of warm blood with Weetabix on the lamp stand beside him, his feet comfortably stretched out on the coffee table in front of him, a taped episode of Passions playing on the screen and the full moon shining in through the open windows. Even with the damn curse Ripper had hit him with, he had to admit, life was getting pretty cozy.

Then the door slammed open with a bang, and Angel stormed in from the cold midnight air, a twitchy, wide-eyed expression on his face. Spike turned his gaze back to the screen. Peaches was always upset about something these days. He chuckled to himself as he raised his drink to his lips, an amusing thought occurring to him.

'Must be that time of the mo-' he started to think, before Angel's powerful grip grabbed him by the collar and hauled him off of the couch, making him spill his blood all over himself.

“Dirty!” Angel snapped at him, holding him aloft by the neck, golden eyes roaming over Spike's bloodstained shirt and crumb-covered lap.

“Yeah, you bloody moron, you made me spill my-”

“Dirty, dirty dirty!” Angel muttered, dropping Spike only to grab him by the forearm and drag him off towards the hall.

“What are you doing-” Spike began indignantly, but Angel's answer cut him off.

“You're dirty, being dirty gives you germs, germs make you sick, you kill germs with soap, so I'm going to give you a bath! With soap!”

Spike's eyes widened in sudden panic as Angel opened the bathroom door and shoved him inside.

“Look, mate,” he tried to calm the Lunar down, raising his hands protectively, “I know we used to mess around, but that was a long-”

“Clothes off!” Angel ordered sharply as he started running the water, turning his back to Spike, who, naturally, took the opportunity to make a break for the exit, only to run into-

“Okay, now how the fuck-” Spike demanded as he staggered back from Angel, who was suddenly blocking the exit.

“Clothes off,” Angel stated flatly, “Now.”

Spike gulped reflexively. This was quickly spiraling out of control. Angel took a determined step forward, and Spike nearly fainted in relief as he heard a car door slam in the drive way. Ripper could help him!

–Buffy–

Buffy slammed the door of her mother's car hard enough to dent the metal. Stupid Dawn and her stupid friends, inviting stupid vampire pizza boys into the stupid house! And, of course, it's Buffy's fault, because Buffy was enjoying a nice bath, instead of listening to gossipy teenage girls ordering pizza with her mom's credit card. Everything was always Buffy's fault.

“Universe's whipping girl,” she muttered to herself as she stomped up the steps to Giles' house. She'd just crash here tonight. Stupid mom couldn't take a stupid joke about her stupid fat thighs! The woman was a twig, it was obvious that she was kidding! And Dawn being so damn sensitive about nicknames! Nobody appreciated how hard she had to work to come up with 'Dawn Summers, Skeleton Key of Creation!'. Although, to be fair, she honestly hadn't worked that hard. Still, that wasn't her fault!

“Stupid family and their stupid feelings,” Buffy muttered, although a dark smile stretched across her face at her mother's shocked expression. With a kick, Buffy smashed the door to Giles' house open and stalked inside, and promptly hear Angel and Spike swearing, the latter screaming for help. She sighed, and then moved towards the bathroom. Her work was never done.

“Oh, what the fuck-” she exclaimed as she tried to absorb what she was seeing. A shirtless, vamped-out Spike, on his back sideways in the half-full tub, kicking at a soaking wet Angel, who was apparently trying to wrestle Spike's pants off.

“Buffy, I need your help!” Angel yelled over Spike's cursing as the blond vampire caught a lucky hit to Angel's head, “Spike's not letting me take his clothes off for his bath!”

“Buffy, for God's sake, help!” Spike shouted, “He's trying to make me take my clothes off for a bath!”

Buffy stood silent for a moment, and then a truly wicked grin began to grow on her face. This was what lemons and life were all about.

“Well, we can't have that,” she declared, rolling up imaginary sleeves for effect, “Spike, let's get those pants off!”
“Bloody hell, not you too!” he moaned as the Solar closed in to help his assailant.

–Xander–

Xander pulled up to Giles house, and sure enough, Joyce's car was there. Giles had called him a bit ago to tell him to check on Buffy, who had apparently stolen her mom's car to stay over at Giles' after a fight, and Giles was worried about Spike's safety, given the vampire's ability to provoke Buffy into a murderous rage when she was in a good mood. However, Giles was out doing something for the Sidereals, so it fell to Xander to go calm Buffy down, and sweep up Spike's ashes, if he was lucky.

As he walked up the to the door, though, he noticed something off. For one thing, the door wasn't connected to the doorway. For another, there was a surprising amount of British swearing coming from inside. Xander sighed. And he'd brought along his special “Spike's dead for good” dustpan along, too.

As he walked in though, he realized that the screams were coming from he bathroom, along with splashing. A sinking feeling appeared in his stomach, before he pushed away those thoughts. No way was Buffy bathing with Spike, there had to be an alternative explanation.

With a sense of growing trepidation, he walked into the bathroom, and saw-

“What the fuck-” he began to exclaim, as he saw Angel holding Spike in a headlock as Buffy tried to take his belt off, but Spike cut him off.

“Xander, run and get help!” he screamed, “They're trying to bathe me!”

Angel's gaze turned to meet Xander, who had a moment to experience true terror before-

“Unclean!”

–Giles–

Giles dropped out of a portal he'd slipped into after performing Yellow Path a few moments ago, landing in the middle of his lawn with a thud. It had been over half an hour, and Xander had yet to call him, and something felt extremely wrong with the situation. Hurriedly, he picked himself up, brushing grass and dirt from his sleeves and pant legs.

“Well, that was remarkably efficient,” he muttered, before the cries for help reached his ears. Without further pause, he ran inside, towards the bathroom to find-

“What the in the bloody fuck-” he exclaimed, before pausing, unable to finish with anything that could possibly explain his feelings further.

What he was seeing was a hog-tied Xander lying beneath a shattered sink, water pouring over him, a very blank expression on his face, while Buffy and Angel were being fended off by a plunger wielding Spike clad in only his socks and underpants, an expression of wild-eyed panic on his face as he turned to Giles from the corner he'd been backed into.

“Yeah, that's pretty much what I said,” Xander informed him flatly.

“Giles, run!” Spike shouted as he clubbed Angel over the head with the plunger, only to be promptly disarmed and tackled by Buffy.

“Save yourself!” the blond vampire shrieked.

“Too late,” Xander sighed, “He noticed you.”

Giles experienced a moment of confusion, followed by a moment of utterly horrifed comprehension, before-

“Unclean!”

–Quentin Travers–

The ancient Sidereal master stepped regally out of a large limo in front of Giles house. The man had slipped into a portal perhaps an hour ago, and Travers' Charms told him that the man was here. Travers was instantly wary upon stepping towards the house, however, as he sensed tremendous amounts of Essence being expended, along with shouts and cries for help. Several mortal police cars were parked haphazardly on the lawn, and the door to the house had been kicked open. He deftly slipped inside, towards the room that the noises were coming from, along with a large puddle of water. Quentin readied his most potent Charms as he stepped around the door, and-

“What the fuck-” he began, unable to comprehend what he was seeing. A fully clothed mortal teen was hogtied beneath a broken, shattered sink that was the source of the water. An entirely naked, sulking demon-faced vampire was bound by hand-cuffs on both hands and feet, his legs sticking out over the edge of the overflowing tub, while he only living Lunar Exalted rubbed suds into his bleached-blond hair. Four mortal police officers sat back to back, still mostly clothed aside from their bullet-proof vests, which had been tossed into a corner, with the only living Dawn-Caste Solar one-handedly pouring bucket after bucket of soapy water on their heads, giggling madly as she did so, while poking a mop up at the ceiling with her other hand. Quentin glanced up, and saw her target: a shirtless Giles hanging from the roof by the tips of his fingers and toes, dodging poke after poke. Quentin's associate caught sight of him.

“Run, run and get help, they've gone mad!” the Chosen of Secrets screamed. Unfortunately for Quentin, it was at that moment that the Solar and Lunar turned their gazes to him, and he barely had time to scream before, as one, they shouted-

“Unclean!”

–End Omake–

And this, children, is why you don't smoke crack, do heroine and drink straight LSD at the same time.

Wait, what I meant to say was: Drugs are bad, m'kay?



The One Girl in All The World, empowered by the sheer might of the Dawn

A Shattered Soul, offered one last chance for redemption...

A Star Chosen Mentor, whose hidden secrets can only be guessed at...

This is their Tale.

Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover.

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 Post subject: Re: Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover PostPosted: 2012-10-21 04:18am
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Sith Acolyte
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Location: Germany
I love it!
You blend Exalted and Buffy very well IMO, and have a very good grasp on what Exaltation actually means! Can't wait for more :D



SoS:NBA GALE Force
"Destiny and fate are for those too weak to forge their own futures. Where we are 'supposed' to be is irrelevent." - Sir Nitram
"The world owes you nothing but painful lessons" - CaptainChewbacca
"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." - Wilhelm Stekel
"In 1969 it was easier to send a man to the Moon than to have the public accept a homosexual" - Broomstick

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 Post subject: Re: Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover PostPosted: 2012-10-21 11:40am
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Location: Tahalshia Manor
:luv: :twisted: Ok, what were you smoking when you thought up that Omake?



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Librium Arcana, Where Gamers Play!
Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.

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 Post subject: Re: Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover PostPosted: 2012-10-21 12:24pm
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Joined: 2009-11-21 09:05am
Posts: 8
Serafina wrote:
I love it!
You blend Exalted and Buffy very well IMO, and have a very good grasp on what Exaltation actually means! Can't wait for more :D


Thanks, I'm glad you think so!

LadyTevar wrote:
:luv: :twisted: Ok, what were you smoking when you thought up that Omake?


Some crack, heroin, and some straight LSD, like I said. I only got out of the hospital last week;)



The One Girl in All The World, empowered by the sheer might of the Dawn

A Shattered Soul, offered one last chance for redemption...

A Star Chosen Mentor, whose hidden secrets can only be guessed at...

This is their Tale.

Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover.

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 Post subject: Re: Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover PostPosted: 2012-10-21 12:41pm
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Joined: 2009-11-21 09:05am
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Heart Compelling Method
A/N: Please don't tell me I messed up on any spells in this chapter. The Buffyverse magic system doesn't splice well with Exalted's, so I had to take some liberties with stuff, including a few Celestial Charms. Bear with me, please.

To Space, who reviewed anonymously on FF.net: I'm delighted you're enjoying the story, but if you have questions, please leave me an email address where I can answer you. It's much more convenient for me to be able to respond quickly and personally, rather than devote an entire author's note to a single question, especially since I usually forget to add them. As to your question, the story is up to date now, it's just that the chapters I added to FF.net when you read them had been finished and posted on other sites several days prior to me placing them on FF.net.

–Start Chapter–

Giles paced back and forth in front of the table in the center of the library, a thunderous expression on his face.

“No, absolutely not!” he snapped, “I don't care for your reasoning, I don't care what madness has befallen you, you will not be doing this, am I understood?! I give you a great deal of lenience due to your youth, but you are a Solar Exalted! I will not allow you to lower yourself through association with this-this cult!”

Buffy looked at him with an adorably puzzled expression ('ignore her, Giles, your will is the stronger,) on her face, and looked down at the colorful uniform she was wearing.

“Do you not like the outfit?” she asked curiously, an expression of hurt on her face. Giles nearly smiled at her talents for positive manipulation, and likely would have, had his disgust not ran so deep.

“Do you just tune me out, Buffy?” he asked instead, exasperation clear in his tone, “Am I just white noise in the background, a mild nuisance to be expunged at will?”

“Sometimes,” Buffy answered honestly, an innocent expression on her face, and this time the corners of Giles' mouth twitched up in amusement.

'Damn charismatic Solar Exalted,', he thought to himself, before shaking his head clear of her influence, before turning around and pushing his cart of books back towards the shelves. Buffy effortless skipped the several meter distance between her and the front of the cart in a moment, a reproachful look on her face. She really was good at this...

“I did tell you I was going to try out for the Cheerleading Squad,” she reminded him, a subtle admonishment in her tone. Inwardly, Giles marveled at her natural talents for persuasion. She wasn't using even a single mote of Essence, yet she was overcoming his enhanced defenses with subtle ease. It was all in the tone of her voice, her posture, the opened eyes. Simply astounding.

With a spark of irritation, he overruled the sympathy building within him, the urge to allow her her childish games and fancies. He was a Chosen of Secrets, he was supposed to be made of sterner stuff!

“You are the chosen warrior of the Unconquered Sun,” Giles stated firmly, betraying no evidence of his inner struggle, “A Dawn Caste Solar Exalted. You have a sacred duty to hold the world together, to destroy all Creatures of Darkness, to spread the rule of law. You do not have a sacred duty to wave...pompoms at people! As your Watcher, as a Celestial Exalted in a superior place of power, and as the dominant male presence in your life, I forbid you from doing this, three times over!”

Giles' triumphant smile faded swiftly at the look on Buffy's face.

“And you're going to stop me...how?” she asked with an adorably cute evil smile that made Giles want to chuckle and indulge the lovely girl in front of him.

“Well,” he responded with a raised eyebrow, all irritation gone, but with a vague sense of unease nagging at the back of his mind, “I suppose I'll just have to appeal to your common sense, and hope that you listen to reason.”

“Common sense, schmommon sense,” Buffy dismissed him with an airy wave of her hand, “I just wanna do something fun, and I miss being a Cheerleader.”

Giles shook his head with a sigh.

“Well then, I suppose I can't stop you,” he admitted, “Just...don't demean yourself too much, please?”

“I won't,” Buffy promised with a happy smile, gave him a quick hug, and ran off, leaving Giles with a contented, happy feeling in his stomach, even as his unease faded to nothing.

–Elsewhere–

A dark room, filled with smoke and shadows, effigies of the living and remnants of the dead are strewn across the room. A pentagram, drawn in blood, covers the entirety of the floor, as a dark figure, cloaked in shadow, stares at something only it can see, and casts its spell.

–Buffy, Tryouts–

Buffy walked through the doors to the gym with a bright, cheery smile on her face as she observed the competition. Willow and Xander followed behind her, Xander paying particular attention to the girls doing their cartwheels.

“So, Giles didn't approve, huh?” Willow was saying as they walked.

“He came around,” Buffy shrugged, an odd little smile on her face. Xander returned to the conversation with a supportive pat on Buffy's shoulder.

“We're behind you, Buffy,” he assured her, “Nowadays, people all scoff at school spirit, but not us! I mean, just look at these girls, giving it their all! Ooh, stretchy!”

His gaze went to a pretty, dark-haired girl doing her stretches, and Buffy felt a twinge of annoyance and something else, (anger, maybe?) at the other girl.

“Anyways, where was I?” Xander asked, turning back to Buffy and Willow.

“Pretending that seeing scantily-clad girls in revealing poses was a spiritual experience,” Willow said pointedly.

“Who says I'm pretending?” Xander asked cheekily, and another surge of annoyance, this time at him, shot through her. She felt the sudden desire to show off a bit.

“Oh, hey, that reminds me-” Xander started, reaching into his pocket and turning to Buffy, “I got you something. Just a little good luck gift.”

He tossed her the object, and her hand shot out and caught it effortlessly. A pretty faux-gold bracelet lay in her palm, the words 'Yours Always' written on them. Even if it wasn't real gold, the bracelet was ornate enough to have cost a good thirty or forty dollars.

“Oh, how sweet!” she thanked him with a smile as Willow examined the bracelet.

“'Yours Always'?” she read out-loud, looking at Xander questioningly. He blushed.

“It came that was, th-they all said that, really! All the bracelets, I mean, not people, or...Buffy?” but she had stopped listening to his stammered explanation as she walked over to the middle of the gym, and suddenly, every eye was upon her.

“Hi,” she greeted with a smile, “I'm Buffy Summers. I'm looking to become a cheerleader, and this is my routine.”

And with that, it began. Buffy slipped into a perfect cartwheel, rolling once, twice, three times and bouncing out of the roll into a six-revolution handspring that zig-zagged across the floor. As she landed on the last spring she moved into a twirl, which turned into a fast spin, completely with complex leaps, and a pirouette which could have shamed a professional ballerina. As Buffy's routine continued, the entire room watched, unable to turn away, save two in the back.

“Hey, good to see you again, Amy,” Willow said quietly as she stood next to the red-headed teen. Amy smiled in return, but the look seemed forced.

“Same to you,” she nodded, before turning her gaze back towards the floor, and Buffy's increasingly complex routine, and Willow followed her lead, not noticing as an expression not unlike hatred clouded Amy's face.

“So, do you know Buffy?” Willow whispered, eyes redrawn to Buffy, not noticing as Amy clenched her nails into her palms so hard they drew blood.

“How I hate this, let me count the ways,” Amy whispered irritably, drawing a questioning look from Willow.

Suddenly, a shout of panic echoed through the gym as something seemed to yank Buffy's foot out from under her, causing her to slam her chin into the floor with a loud crack. Only Willow also saw the gash open across the back of Buffy's skull, as though something had struck her with an edged instrument.

“Buffy!” Xander cried, and rushed forward, and Willow snapped out of her motionlessness and ran forward as well

–Elsewhere–

A terrible curse echoes throughout the room as the dark figure kicks over one of the effigies.

“She should be dead!”

–Buffy, Hospital–

Seven. Long. Hours. Buffy had been counting. That's how long she'd been at the hospital. She'd woken up in the ambulance, her head hurting but otherwise fine, only to be rushed to the emergency room, where doctor after doctor simply refused to believe that someone could be as badly hurt as she had been, and then simply recover. Buffy had convinced several of them to leave her alone, until her mother caught on several of the most annoyingly disbelieving doctor's gave her a clean bill of health, only to be yelled at by another, newer doctor for overlooking possible brain damage.

Of course, it probably hadn't helped when that one surgeon came in to tell Buffy's mom that new shoes could help greatly with balance. In retrospect, she probably had gone a bit far with that one...

And now, after several CAT scans, an X-Ray, and much confusion, Buffy was finally being allowed to leave. Of course, before that could happen, the doctors had to give her mother lots and lots of pamphlets on dealing with head injuries. Buffy's only consolation was that, before leaving, she'd made sure that the doctor who'd delivered the pamphlets would be spending the next few days compulsively destroying all pamphlets in the hospital that he found.

Of course, this didn't help her at all with her current predicament, so she was determined to be as grumpy and teenager-like as possible. Her resolution to appreciate her mother's mothering only extended so far, and she'd really wanted to be a cheerleader again...

“For the last time: I. Am. Fine.” Buffy said, her eyes closed as she sat in her cheap hospital gown, in a wheelchair, being pushed by her mother.

“Buffy, the doctor said it looked like someone had hit you in the back of the head with an axe!” Joyce said sternly, “You're not walking anywhere until further notice.”

“Mom, I am capable of making my entire body considerably harder than steel. I can stop bleeding by willing it. I can walk on my own!” she complained, but Joyce's stern look silenced her.

“No. Walking.” Joyce stated firmly. Buffy huffed and rolled her eyes.

“You should be glad I'm alright, not inventing ways I'm sick,” Buffy muttered, and Joyce frowned. That was actually a really good point...

Wait, what was she thinking?!

“Buffy, I'm not inventing anything,” Joyce said, “I'm doing my job as a mother of not letting my daughter with a severe head injury run around willy-nilly.”

“I want ice-cream,” Buffy grumped in return, crossing her arms in petulance.

“I already bought chocolate and vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, bananas, whipped cream, and maraschino cherries,” Joyce said smugly, “But, if you still want to walk, I suppose I can just return them...”

“No, I hate walking, legs are useless!” Buffy assured her in a rush, “I want sundaes, not walking!”

“That's what I thought.”

–Angel–

In the shadows of the gym, moonbeams the only source of light, a solitary figure stood before the bleachers, golden eyes watching for signs that only he could see. A frown crossed his face as he observed the golden remnants of several Solar Charms.

“Buffy...” he muttered, and blocked out the leftovers of her Essence. Yes, he could feel...something. He closed his eyes and sought out with his inner senses.

Exalted.

A familiar sense of weight fell over his shoulders, an infinite power beyond life and death, potent beyond imagining. Angel smiled. Well, beyond human imagining, anyway.

“So, you are an Exalt, then,” he murmured out loud, not bothering to turn around. This mysterious Exalted wasn't his enemy, not yet. If he wanted anonymity, Angel would allow him that.

“Yes,” came the Voice after a moment, “as are you. Is that an issue?”

“No,” Angel said, “It's just somewhat surprising. There aren't many Exalts around anymore, and I haven't exactly endeared myself to the ones who are. The Sidereals despise me for being Lunar, the Dragon-Blooded do whatever the Sidereals do, the Infernals are still pissed that I killed the Slayer Caste back in 'Nam, the Abyssals have hated me ever since I liberated Auschwitz, and as far as I know, there's only one Solar. That doesn't exactly leave a lot for you to be.”

“I have my reasons,” came the flat answer, “And I'd rather not discuss them at this juncture.”

“Fair enough,” Angel shrugged, “So, can you help me out with this? Some Sorcerer tried to take Buffy's head off this morning, and I'd like to return the favor.

“The Lover is on the move.”

“What?!” Angel shrieked, spinning around, and seeing nothing. But that was beyond unimportant now.

“The Lover Clad In Raiment Of Tears received a missive from the First and Forsaken Lion this morning. The stalemate in the Underworld in broken, and the Neverborn are stirring. Both Dusk and Day are moving, along with a large host of vampires each, and no, I don't have exact numbers.”

“Damn,” Angel cursed, “What about the Mask of Winters? What's he doing?”

“As far as I know, he's still on Atlantis,” the Voice replied, “And is claiming to be neutral in the coming power struggle, but if he believes that, he is naïve.”

“And the Mask is anything but naïve,” Angel sighed, “Look, where do the Bodhisattva and the Bishop stand on this? The last I heard, they were the ones pushing for a mass withdrawal of vampires from Creation.”

“The First and Forsaken Lion tore the Bishop's head off, and the Bodhisattva withdrew his complaints,” the voice stated dryly, “The Bishop will turn up at his estate eventually, of course, but it'll likely be a few weeks, and by then the First and Forsaken Lion will have all the support he needs to move forward unopposed.”

“Shit,” Angel swore again, “What's the avenue of attack? And the target, for that matter?”

“The Lover believes that she has found a Jade Prison, and the First and Forsaken Lion agrees.” the Voice said, and Angel started involuntarily.

“Is it for real?” Angel demanded, mixed eagerness and panic in his voice. A Jade Prison...the greatest treasure imaginable. And the Deathlords had found one.

“Yes,” the Voice confirmed, “I already knew of this one-”

“And you just let it sit there-!?” Angel began to scream, his temper flaring.

“It is beyond my reach, and yours as well!” the Voice snapped irritably, “And I really didn't feel like involving the Bronze Faction in this, as I'm sure you can well understand!”

“Fine, fine, I'm sorry,” Angel placated, “But where is it?”

“Where else?” the Voice asked, irritation replaced by resignation, “But the Sunnydale Hellmouth?”

Angel opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He closed it, then opened it again, and still couldn't find words to express just how bad things were.

“Quite,” the Voice agreed dryly.

“How?” Angel asked finally, his voice a slightly higher pitch than normal, “I mean, the Hellmouth is basically just a Manse that opens into Cecelyne-”

“It also connects to both the Wyld and the Underworld,” the Voice elaborated, “As well as Elsewhere. Seven decades ago, the First and Forsaken Lion discovered that the heartstone that kept the Sunnydale Hellmouth closed had been stolen and replaced with a massively powerful energy source. He investigated, and after losing both the previous Dusk Caste and the Midnight to the Behemoth that guarded the inner depths, the Ancient Vampire sent with them reported back that the heavily enchanted heartstone was a small, black orb of purest jade. The First and Forsaken Lion knew instantly what it must be, and sent the Vampire back to seize it. The Vampire promptly tried to shatter the spells through brute force, and triggered a safeguard the cast the Jade Prison deep into the heart of the Wyld, and himself into a rather...interesting Hell Dimension.”

“It was the Master, wasn't it.” Angel stated, completely unsurprised. It was just so like the Master to do something so unbelievably arrogant-

“Right in one,” the Voice said with vindictive amusement, “the wrinkled bastard got to spend the last sixty years submerged in boiling blood. That Hell Dimension is ruled by a Third Circle Soul of Malfeas with a rather...sadistic sense of irony.”

“Wait, 'got to'?” Angel asked, eyes closing in annoyance, “Let me guess: that surge of Essence the week, the one I dismissed as Buffy fighting Luke, that was him, wasn't it? And you knew, so, naturally, you assumed that I knew. Am I right?”

There was an awkward pause.

“I'll just assume that you don't know anything from now on, then, shall I?”

“Thank you,” Angel exclaimed in exasperation, “Now, what else are you sure I know?”

“Hmm...” the Voice mused, “You know that Buffy is your Solar Mate, right?”

Angel nodded.

“Yes, I'm dealing with that as best I can right now.”

“You know that your ex, Darla, is working with the Master, as well?”

“Fuck-fuckity-fuck-fuck-fuck, no, I didn't!” Angel glared into the shadows.

“You know that the Slayer is-”

“Yes, I know who the whiny little bitch is, don't remind me,” Angel grumbled.

“Let's see...” the Voice pondered, “I think that you're up to date, then.”

“Good,” Angel sighed, relieved.

“I have to go now,” the Voice said suddenly, “But I'll contact you as soon as I have more news. Oh, and the Sorceress is a Ghost-Blooded woman somewhere in town, I'd offer more, but I've been too busy with the Deathlord situation to find the address or name.”

“Really?” Angel asked, a slight smile on his face, “That's...actually really convenient. I was thinking it was a real threat.”

Silence was the only response, and Angel sighed, and began running through a mental list of his resources, and wondering how the hell he was going to deal with two Abyssal Exalted and an army of vampires.

–Willow–

It was the end of the school-day, and Willow was carefully placing her unneeded textbooks in her locker, arranging them chronologically by class period. It was much neater than by title or author, and more convenient for her. Convenience, though, wasn't the main thing on her mind. Buffy hadn't come back to class yet, and it had been four days already. She'd seen the head injury, and it had been really bad (she shuddered as she remembered seeing bits of Buffy's skull shattered in the awful wound) but Buffy was a Solar. Surely she could just shrug that stuff off, right?

“Hey, Will!” came a voice behind her, making Willow jump a foot in the air. She spun around, and saw Xander grinning at her.

“Guess what day it is?” he asked, “Go on, guess!”

“Friday?” Willow asked without enthusiasm, really not in the mood for Xander's silliness.

“Yes, indeed, you are right in one! Today is Friday, that most holiest of days when school gets out and the whole weekend is ahead of you!”

Xander frowned at Willow's half-hearted shrug, and a concerned look appeared on his face.

“Hey, what's with with the rainclouds, Eeyore?” Xander tried to joke, “You're harshing my buzz, what's eatin' ya?”

“Buffy!” Willow shouted, suddenly angry at Xander for his lightheartedness while their friend was injured, “She's still absent from school, she might be in surgery, or-or in a coma, and how the heck is that so funny?!”

Xander stopped chuckling, shaking his head.

“Willow, I'm not laughing about that, well I am, but not for why you think,” Xander explained, “Buffy's fine, I thought you knew!”

“Wait, what?” Willow asked, bewildered, “How do you know?”

“Because she's been calling me three times a day since she got out of the hospital, complaining/bragging about how even though she's fine, her mom won't let her out of bed, and is force feeding her ice cream sundaes. She begged me to come over and rescue her from Dawn, who thinks the entire situation is hilarious! She told me to invite you, because she doesn't have your number, and I...totally dropped the ball on that one, sorry,” Xander finished with an apologetic grin.

“It's alright, I'm just happy she isn't hurt,” Willow said, a confused frown on her face, “But what's so funny about eating ice cream in bed?”

–Buffy's Room–

Willow had to bite her tongue to stop from laughing, as she stood in Buffy's bedroom, Xander beside her, and Buffy sitting in her bed across from the door. A t.v. was mounted on a stand at the end of the bed, and some animated movie was playing loudly. The room itself was pink. Really pink. The walls were hot pink, as were the fuzzy carpets. A pink pig was tucked into the crook of Buffy's arm, and there was a pink dresser against one wall, and the closet on the other side of Buffy's bed had pink-painted doors. Numerous stuffed animals were seated on white shelves set up on the wall. This, however, wasn't what was funny.

No, what Willow was desperately trying not to laugh at was Buffy, sitting with the most adorably grumpy expression she'd ever seen, arms crossed over under her breasts, with a completely bald head.

“They cut off my hair,” Buffy said with quiet, almost disbelieving rage, “They. Cut. Off. My. Hair. And the first person to giggle will get kicked in the balls, Xander.”

“I didn't say anything,” Xander managed to say, trying desperately to wipe the smile off of his face.

“Wh-why did they cut it off?” Willow asked, carefully not giggling at all. She didn't have balls to be kicked in, but that didn't mean a groin kick didn't hurt like bejeezus.

“That's what-” Xander started to say with a grin, before Buffy's expression of utter fury silenced him with a gulp.

“They wanted to examine how my scar was healing,” Buffy stated, her voice trembling, her right eye twitching, “So I kicked one of them in the balls. So they drugged me. And while I was asleep, they cut off my hair, and were so very surprised and delighted to discovered that there was no freaking scar. Because I didn't want there to be a scar. I am a Solar Exalted. I am Perfection made flesh. If I don't want to have a scar, there will be no scar.”

“So...” Willow started to say, beginning to really see what Buffy was getting at.

“My mother didn't bother to ask Mr. Giles what to do, because 'he's a perfectly pleasant man, but he isn't a doctor,'. So Giles, concerned that my mom had forgotten about him, again, came over shortly before I woke up. He told my mother not to worry, because Solar Exalted can recover from any wound that doesn't directly kill them. Perfectly. Like everything else we do. So, upon waking up, I discovered that my mom, for no legitimate reason, allowed a bunch of doctors to shave my head. She has been notified, through written correspondence, that I will not be speaking to her until my hair finishes growing back on Sunday, but this does not in any way imply that I do not want more ice cream. You two are free to talk to her as you wish.”

“So, you can grow hair back, then?” Xander asked, and Willow turned to stare at him. It never failed to amaze her how completely Xander could miss the point of something.

“Xander,” Buffy sighed, eyes closed, “If I really wanted to, I could, with relative ease, learn to grow your hair back.”

“Can you grow other things-” he started, but was cut off.

“Xander, if you finish that sentence like I think you're going to, I swear, I will kick you so hard your theoretical sons that you will never have after I'm through with you will clutch themselves in pain and explode.”

“She's not kidding, you know” came a new voice, and this time both Xander and Willow jumped up.

“Um, who the hell are you?” Xander asked, frowning at the newcomer as he took a step back. In the doorway of Buffy's room stood a large, muscular man, easily six foot two, dressed in an impeccable silk suit and shoes that Xander was certain cost more than his father's car. Golden eyes looked out from a face that might as well have been chiseled from marble by Michelangelo himself. Perfectly gelled dark hair straight out of an ad for rich, successful business men gave him a youthful, sophisticated look, and Xander felt suddenly self-conscious about his own hastily combed mess he called hair. A winning smile that showed off the man's perfect, shiny white teeth was directed at the bed, where Buffy suddenly broke out into a smile.

“Angel!” she exclaimed happily, before suddenly paling in horror and ducking under her covers.

“Go away!” she yelled out in panic, her voice muffled by her comforters, “Don't look at me!”

“But if I go away, I can't give you your get-well present,” the man, Angel, apparently, protested playfully, ignoring Xander's query, to the teen's irritation.

“Present?” came a hesitant question from beneath the fluffy pink comforter.

“Yeah, I went all the way to L.A. to pick it up for you. They just have good jewelers in Sunnydale, but if you don't want it...” he trailed off with a shrug, and turned to leave.

“No, gimme!” Buffy popped out from under the covers, and Angel smiled, and Xander was impressed at how casual he was being about the whole 'no hair' thing. No, not even casual, like he didn't even notice.

“Catch,” Angel said, and lightly tossed a small black-felt box over to Buffy, who's hand shot out in a blur and caught it faster than Xander could perceive.

“Present!” Buffy said happily, as she opened the box, and her mouth dropped, all childish greed gone.

“I-I don't-I-” she stammered, and Willow walked over to see what was in the box.

“Holy cow!” Willow exclaimed, “Is that real?”

“Yep,” Angel said with a grin, and Xander walked over to see what was in the box.

It was a small ring, made of pure, shining gold, with a bunch of little gems, rubies, sapphires and diamonds, dotting the outer part of the ring, arranged in a patter that spelled 'BUFFY'.

“Wow,” Xander managed to say, through the stunned haze that was his mind. Absently, he realized how inadequate this made his bracelet look.

“Angel, you shouldn't have-” Buffy began, looking wide-eyed at the older man, but he cut her off.

“Buffy, it's enchanted,” Angel said with a pointed look, “It'll make your hair grow back by tomorrow morning, among other things.”

“In that case, you'll get this ring back when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers,” Buffy said instantly, without changing her shocked, grateful tone.

“Yeah, I kinda figured that,” he said dryly.

“So,” Xander interrupted suddenly, drawing a glare from Willow, “not to sound like a broken record, but who the hell are you?”

“Xander, are you blind?!” Willow demanded, uncharacteristically abrupt, “That's Angel!”

“Yeah, I heard the name-holy shit you're Angel,” he exclaimed as recognition hit him, “You have a Saturday Morning Cartoon! I still have your action figures! And you know Buffy!”

Angel gave him an odd look.

“Yeah, moving on,” the older man turned to Buffy, “Didn't you tell them about me?”

“Um, if by 'tell them' you mean totally forgot to mention you at all, to anyone, then, yes, I told them,” she said, wincing.

“I'm Buffy's...other half, I suppose you could say,” Angel began, but he was once more cut off by Xander.

“You two are dating?!” he asked, turning to stare at Buffy, then back to Angel, “Aren't you a bit...old, for her?”

“He's a Lunar Exalted,” came Buffy's slightly annoyed voice behind him, “the counterpart to my Solar Exaltation, actually.”

Xander processed this.

“So, you aren't dating,” he clarified, looking at Angel, who just shook his head.

“Sorry, kid, but you really aren't my type” Angel said without missing a beat, “No offense.”

Buffy and Willow both burst out laughing at that as Xander sputtered some half-formed denials, and Angel grinned cheekily at him and slapped him on the back, making him stagger forward.

“Relax, I'm kidding,” he reassured, and Xander gave him a dirty look.

“Yeah, funny,” he muttered.

“Oh, cheer up, Xander,” Buffy said with a smile, “He was just teasing.”

Despite himself, Xander found his annoyance draining away, to be replaced by a deep sense of well-being.

“Yeah, you're right,” he agreed, and turned to Angel, sticking out his hand, “and it was a pretty funny joke. You already heard, but I'm Xander, and it's an honor to meet you, Mr. Angel.”

The Exalt looked at him for a moment, before smiling back and taking Xander's hand in a firm grip.

“Any friend of Buffy's is a friend of mine,” Angel said amiably, “And please, just call me Angel. The Mr. makes me feel old.”

“How old are you, anyway?” Willow asked curiously as Xander released Angel's hand.

“Ninety-two,” he admitted, and Willow's eyes widened as Xander whistled admireingly, “Which I why I don't like being called Mr.”

And with that, the ice was broken, and the group chatted in easy comradely until dinner was called some few hours later, and Angel was grateful for the excuse to put off telling Buffy the bad news for a little while longer.

–Elsewhere–

“Bone of father, blood of mother, with this spell, your fate I smother,”

A splash, a hiss of evaporating matter.

“God of laughter, god of tears, drown my enemy in her fears,”

Shadows begin to gather, and fell whispers beckon from the lightless depths of nothingness. She ignores them. Hungry ghosts were nothing before her power.

“God of Darkened, Lightless Depths, send Buffy Summers to her death.”

A flash of pure unlight overwhelms her senses, and as she falls into unconsciousness, she smiles, because she heard the response from her patron.

“Deal.”

–Xander, the next day–

“It's just, I don't want to seem too pushy, you know?” he said, pacing back and forth in front of Willow, who was sitting with her back against a tree, pretending to be reading her book while also pretending to be only half-listening to Xander.

“I mean, she said to give it time, see if we click, ya know? But we do, I think,” her turned to quickly face Willow, “We click, right?”

“Me and you? Or you and her?” Willow asked, suddenly hopeful.

“Her, me and her, sorry,” Xander said, going back to pacing, and Willow's face fell again. She wondered if she should take Buffy's advice about just going for it. She liked Buffy as much as the next person, but she liked Xander more, and she was pretty sure she was stab herself with a pencil soon if he didn't stop asking her for dating advice. Or maybe she'd stab him. Yeah, that made more sense.

“It's just, she said maybe, in the future, and it's the future now, and she still hasn't said anything. We've been hanging out a lot, too, and she kissed me the other day-”

“She what?!” Willow exclaimed loudly.

“Cheek kiss, I was being cheer-up friend while she had a headache, nothing serious,” Xander elaborated, and Willow sighed in relief. She really, really, really didn't want to compete with Buffy over Xander. She was losing as it was, when Buffy wasn't even playing. Or was she? Was that why Buffy was winning?

“Anyways, like I was saying, sometimes she seems into me, but then Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome, not to mention immortal, comes into the picture and gives her a golden ring with diamonds that spell out her name-”

“Orichalcum,” Willow corrected automatically, even as Xander was talking, and he looked at her in confusion.

“Ori what now?” he asked, and Willow looked at him in disbelief.

“Orichalcum,” she clarified, “You know, super-gold? Ultra-gold? Can-only-be-made-via-mirrors-and-volcanoes-gold?”

Xander paled.

“Oh dear God, I actually know what that is, and he bought her a ring with it!?” his voice rose in pitch as he realized the implications, “I thought the military declared all of it national property for space lasers, or something?”

“Most of it, yeah,” Willow nodded, “But a bit of it's still in the private markets, and it's ridiculously expensive, I looked it up last night, and a ring like that would cost at least eighty-five thousand-”

“Lalalalalala!” Xander sang, plugging his ears with his fingers, “I don't wanna know! It just makes me feel even more inadequate!”

“You're not-” Willow tried, but Xander wasn't listening.

“I mean, have you ever liked someone, really liked someone, but there's suddenly this person who's way better than you in every way, and you feel sorta guilty about even trying, because it feels like you're trying to cheat them of their happiness?”

“Yeah, gonna stab you now,” Willow muttered irritably.

“I mean, did you see his hair?! How does he get it to do that?!”

“Yep, one more second, then stab!”

“You say something, Willow?”

“I said hair gel, but probably just a dab!”

“Yeah, dab! More like a pound! And another thing-”

Willow sighed, and nodded, putting on her best 'sympathetic friend' face, and despising herself for being such a coward. She wished she could just switch places with Buffy right now. Life would be so much easier with ultimate divine powers...

–Buffy, Elsewhere–

Cold. That's what she feels, first of anything. And hard. She pushes down, and picks herself up off the ground, and looks at her surroundings. A flat, desolate plain stretches in all directions. She looks up, and sees no light, or stars, and briefly wonders what is giving off light, then. Something was off.

“Well, there you are!” a voice exclaims, and she spins around, eyes wide with shock. A tall, slightly pudgy brown-haired man in his mid-to-late thirties was walking towards her.

“Dad?” she asked, dumbfounded. She hadn't seen her father since before her Exaltation. Why was he here now?

“It's me, sweetie,” Hank Summers said, looking confused, and a little hurt, “Don't you recognize your father?”

Buffy felt tears welling up in her eyes.

“Where the hell have you been?!” she demanded, “You can't just leave for two and a half ­God-damned years and then just show up from nowhere, and act surprised that-”

“Oh, that's all?” he laughed, and Buffy clenched her fists in anger, “That's easy: I've been far away from you.”

Buffy felt like someone had dunked her head in ice water.

“Wh-what?” she asked, her voice suddenly vulnerable.

“Yep,” her father said cheerfully, “I left because I couldn't keep dealing with your melodramatic bullshit day-in and day-out. I'd have kept in touch for Dawn's sake, but then I'd be forced to chat with you every week, and well, I didn't think I could deal with that.”

“How could you say-” Buffy began, her nails digging into her palms, feeling her mind beginning to fracture, like an overwhelming force was pressing against it, but her father interrupted her.

“Quite easily,” he grinned, “And boy, did I ever dodge a bullet! I mean, a Solar? For a daughter? Like you weren't enough of an air-headed arrogant little twit before!”

“Shut-up,” Buffy ordered coldly, feeling her nails piercing her skin and digging deep into the meat of her palms, “Just shut-up.”

“Aww, what's the matter?” her father asked in a mocking baby-voice, “Can you not take the fact that you're basically unlovable?”

“No,” Buffy hissed, her entire body trembling with fury, “What I can't take is the fact that some rogue god or demon or whatever the hell you are has the sheer fucking balls to use my father to strike at my self-esteem!”

In a flash of speed she was in front of the apparition and punching it with all of her enhanced strength. The blow caught her faux-father in the cheek and knocked it down into the dirt. Her Anima flared as she stared at the suddenly fearful figure.

“Did you think I was some helpless little girl?” she asked softly as it tried to scurry away from her. She continued her slow walk forward.

“Did you think that it didn't matter if I was a Solar, because you could strike at my mind?” she queried, and her hand shot out and grabbed the specter by the throat, hoisting it up into the air.

“I am the Chosen of The Unconquered Sun you fuckwad!” she snarled in its face, “It takes more than some mean little ghost to break my mind! And now, you're going to fucking die!”

She dropped the thing onto the ground in front of her and, before it could move, punched it in the chest as hard as she could. Her hands punched through what felt like flesh and muscle and bone until she reached its heart. She clutched the beating organ in her hand and squeezed. The thing howled in pain and faded into nothingness. Buffy stood alone in the field, breathing heavily, until a woman's warm, throaty chuckle reached her ears. She spun around, gathering her Essence around her, and faltered as she was faced with perhaps the most exotic beauty she'd ever seen.

Standing before her was a woman, slightly shorter than Buffy, dressed in a gown of flowing emerald. Long, flowing white hair cascaded down her back, and a delighted smile graced that youthful face. Green orbs stared out from her eye sockets, and Buffy felt a great and terrible power radiating from the woman.

“That was quite a performance, Ms. Summers,” the woman complimented, her voice echoing everywhere and nowhere at once, “Very entertaining. I knew you wouldn't let me down.”

“Who are you?!” Buffy demanded angrily, “Why did you bring me here?!”

“I brought you here because a somewhat valuable servant of mine desired your torment and destruction. The spell she used was beyond her ability, so she requested my aid. I thought it might be amusing to watch, so I helped. And I was right.”


“So, what?” Buffy asked, eyes narrowed, “You're going to kill me?”

The woman laughed that beautiful laugh again.

“Oh, no, Ms. Summers. No, I don't wish to kill you. After all, you show far more potential than the petty sorceress who sought my aid. And I never waste a potential source of fun. No, once we're done talking, you'll wake up in your bed, safe and sound. And, since you killed the sorceress,” the woman pointed to where Buffy's father had stood, “Two birds, one stone.”


“Okay, so that answers the why, I guess,” Buffy said hesitantly, “But not the who.”

“I have long since discarded my true name, Ms. Summers,” the woman smiled, “All that is important is that I like you. However, if you truly need a name, you may call me The Green Lady. Everyone does.”

“Alright, but-”

“No, no more questions, Ms. Summers. It's time for you to go home. But before you do, I have a little present for you, you can get it on your way out. And keep this little conversation between us, okay? I could get in trouble for helping you like this, so I probably won't be able to do it again. Don't worry, though, Solars have good instincts. Just follow your gut, and you'll be fine. Bye now!”

And then, the world exploded.

–å2ŸKréÑhó--

Flashes of light, a terrible dragon roaring its rage as arrows of holy light pierced its hide.

å2ŸKréÑhó

Pain, her body wracked with it, a dark-haired woman calling her name, as fiery waters submerged her and a twisted, barbed tentacle wrapped around her torso.

å2ŸKréÑhó

-Lunar mate for each of you

å2ŸKréÑhó

Hi, I'm-

å2ŸKréÑhó

Love, a sense of belonging, and more power flowing through her than she would have believed possible.

å2ŸKréÑhó

A spear, plunged deep into her heart, tearful eyes staring at her, an overwhelming sense of sorrow and betrayal

å2ŸKréÑhó

Find Angel.

Find Angel.

Find Angel.

å2ŸKréÑhó

And then she woke up, and knew what she had to do.

–Angel–


Angel was awakened from his sleep by a quiet, hesitant knocking on the door. He glanced at the alarm clock by his bed, and saw that it was 2:30 in the morning. He silently got out of his bed, reaching for the quicksilver reaper daiklave, a long, slender double-edged silver sword with a slight hook at the tip, the better for horrific wounds/disarming enemies. Picking it up, he reached instinctively over his shoulder for his short-daiklave, before remembering that the scabbard was still hidden in his shirt, which was on his floor somewhere. He dismissed the weapon as his mind caught up with the situation, and he realized that assassins don't generally knock timidly. He put the weapon down and headed for the door, reaching out with his senses to determine who was knocking.

Solar. Partner. Mate.

Buffy.

Angel moved quickly to open the door, before his thoughts even finished, and looked out into the dimly lit hall, where the most beautiful girl in the world stood, in her fuzzy pink pajamas, looking shaken.

“Buffy, what's wrong?” he asked, suddenly worried.

“Can I come in?”she asked quietly, and he nodded and stepped aside, allowing her into the room. He flipped on the light-switch as they walked into his rather empty apartment, and she paused, unsure of something.

“Buffy,” he pressed, “Did something happen? Come on, you're scaring me.”

She looked at him, eyes filled with uncertainty, and his heart called out for him to help her. He gently lead her over to his couch and sat down with her, and she automatically leaned into him, resting her head against his chest, right over his heart, wrapping her arms around his torso, and a sense of rightness came over him that he hadn't felt since-

“I had a nightmare,” she said quietly, and Angel remained quiet, waiting for her to go on, but a thrill of fear ran through him. A nightmare that could shake a Solar-

“I...I think I died.”

His heart stopped.

“I...I was fighting someone, and I got stabbed. I saw a woman, with long, dark hair standing over me, crying, calling my name, and I know that someone I cared about had betrayed me, killed me, but not why. And...I remember...things.”

Angel felt her shudder, and he wanted to scream, to cry, to find a spell that would let him tear the dark memories from her mind. But he didn't. He couldn't remove the memories, and getting upset couldn't help anyone. So he was quiet, and inwardly he vowed to kill those damned Viziers-

“I dreampt about the witch,” and Angel twitched in surprise, but the tiny girl resting against him didn't seem to notice.

“She sent some spirit to kill me, in the guise of my dad. It used some spell on me, but I broke free, and killed it. Then, this women, dressed in green-

A freezing hand clutched his heart. If this was what he thought-

“She had long, white hair, and pure green eyes. She called herself 'the Green Lady,' and said that I'd killed the witch. She told me that I was more fun, so she was going to help me. That's when-that's when I died. She told me I'd get a present, but all I saw was a horrible dragon, and a giant monster pulling me into a lake of fire, and a terrible voice talking about Lunar Mates...”

She trailed off for a moment, and then resumed.

“After I died, I saw you, and I felt this...this urge to come see you. I couldn't fight it, I didn't want to, and I don't even know you, but I think about you all the time,” Buffy's voice took on a panicked tone, and he felt her begin to hyperventilate, “And I dream about you, and I'm always so happy when you're with me, and I feel like a part of me is missing when you aren't, and now I'm sleepwalking and dreaming of dieing and going to hell, and here I am, in your apartment, in my pajamas, and you aren't wearing a shirt, and am I going crazy, Angel?”

Her last word was said with such fear and desperation that it broke his heart.

“No,” he said softly, “This is natural. Horrible, crappy, and no fun at all, but it happens.”

“What does?” she asked, “Do you know what this is?”

Angel smiled bitterly.

“Oh, yes, I got to go through it myself. Buffy, those dreams you had were of your past life, they were memories of the Solar who used to have your shard. I used to get them all the time, the first few years after I Exalted,” here he sighed, and went on, “Eventually, you'll stop having them, and you'll be able to remember your old life like your current one. Until then, you'll dream about the memories until they sink in properly. It's just something you've got to deal with.”

“What about the dreams of you, though-” Buffy tried, but Angel shushed her.

“I'm getting to that,” he assured her, “It has to do with the Lunar Mate mentioned in your dream.”

Buffy's eyes were fixed on him as she looked up at his face. He took a deep breath and went on.

“Every Solar Shard has a Lunar Mate, a soul-mate, in a very real sense. The bond differs between Exalts, but all have some mystical connection to their partner. It's usually a romantic one, a kind of apology from the gods for sending us to die for them in the Primordial War,” Angel smiled in fond remembrance, “They felt bad that they were sending us to die, so they gave us soul-mates, people that dying for wasn't such a bad thing. Sometimes it'd be in the form of a best friend, someone who you could call brother or sister in a far more real sense than mere blood relations. Occasionally, it'd be a friendly rivalry, someone who is your match in all things, who makes you always strive to be better, and who you can never really beat, but that's the whole point of them. Mostly, though, they sent us a romantic partner, our perfect lover, in a very mystical, spiritual sense. Someone who could be all of those things: Lover, best friend, rival, the best of everything.”

He felt Buffy sag in sudden relieved understanding.

“That's why you said all those things when we met, and why you looked so hurt-” she whispered.

Angel chuckled at that.

“Yeah, I thought your Shard would react like mine did, that you already would have the memories. I didn't realize it could take so long to activate.” Angel deliberately avoided voicing his theory: That Buffy's wasn't supposed to have activated. Next time he saw that green-eyes, two-timing bitch-

“I...I feel better,” Buffy said softly, in wonder, “Like an ache inside me was just healed, like my mom hugged me when I had a nightmare, like I'm...like I'm safe, and loved, and accepted no matter what. Is that what you feel?”

“Yeah,” Angel said quietly, “But, Buffy listen: I don't want you to feel obligated to do anything. I've got a lot more life experience than you, and I won't hold it against you if you want to hold off on-”

“Shut up and kiss me.”

And warm lips captured his, and a sense of bliss that he hadn't known in millenia flowed through him, and for the first time in this life, Angel was truly, perfectly happy.

And that was alright.

–End Chapter–

So, questions, comments, concerns?



The One Girl in All The World, empowered by the sheer might of the Dawn

A Shattered Soul, offered one last chance for redemption...

A Star Chosen Mentor, whose hidden secrets can only be guessed at...

This is their Tale.

Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover.

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 Post subject: Re: Ascendant Sun, Burning Moon: A Buffy/Exalted Crossover PostPosted: 2012-10-21 01:11pm
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White Mage
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Location: Tahalshia Manor
I am wondering if The Voice is a Gold-caste Sid. I am also thinking this would have been easier if Buffy's Shard-memories never woke.



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Librium Arcana, Where Gamers Play!
Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.

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