Buffy Novel: Siblings 1/5
- Hi everyone,
this is my first fan fiction work, a Buffy novel called Siblings.
Though not yet finished, it's already pretty big so I will post it one
chapter at a time. I'll try to upload the entire 5 chapter set I have
completed as one file into the files section later on. The Word
format takes up 1.2MB so I'll probably have to zip it up. Anyways,
comments are very welcome, including critisism (as long as it's at
least somewhat constructive). Thanks in advance for taking your time
to read this.
*Author: *Leroy Gibin, leroygibin@....
*Disclaimer*: This work is based on characters owned by Mutant Enemy,
Inc. They are used without authorization, but in good faith. All
characters not created by Mutant Enemy belong to me. This work may be
distributed freely as long as it is without charge, in its entirety and
*Please read the following FAQ first*
*1) What is this?*
This is a fan fiction novel based on characters and stories created by
Mutant Enemy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer(BtVS) and Angel television
*2) What is it about?*
The book is mainly about Buffy and Dawn, but most of BtVS characters are
involved to a varying degree. It starts in January of 2004,
approximately 8 months after the end of Season 7 of BtVS, and ends in
the summer of 2004. While it can be considered a "Season 8" based on the
time frame it is a novel, a few tightly integrated storylines, not a
dozen or so of somewhat interconnected episodes that ordinarily comprise
a television series. This work is rated "R" for Violence, Adult
Language, Adult Content, and Some Sexual Content.
*3) Plot Summary, tag line?*
I hate plot summaries. I find them to be either useless or revealing too
much. I hate tag lines, too, they always sound stupid. If I have to pick
between the two, I choose the following tag line: "/A horrifying ordeal
leads Dawn to search for her path, while Buffy and the slayers try to
stave off another apocalypse./" Hmm.. I was right, it does sound stupid.
*4) Why is it unfinished?*
It was never my intention to release a partially done work, however
circumstances beyond my control have forced me to submit this work to
the public before it is completed. The thing is that I don't do season
rewrites. Not that I think Joss & Co are beyond criticism, but it's one
thing to say "this could have been done better" and another "I could do
it better". I simply am not willing to make that leap. I have began this
work when it became clear that there will be no Season 8 of BtVS, no
Willow spin-off, no Faith spin-off, no Reaper spin-off, no made-for-tv
movies about the beloved characters. In this environment I've worked on
my book with clear conscience only to find out in October that Season 8
of Buffy will indeed make an appearance in comic book form this March.
As a fan, the news was thrilling, as a writer, very disheartening.
There's absolutely no way I can finish this work before the first issue
of the comic comes out. I don't want this novel to be perceived as a
Season 8 rewrite drawing almost definitely unfavorable comparison to the
real thing. The chapters I'm releasing now comprise about 40% of the
novel, which should be enough for a reader to render judgment. Sure,
100% would have been far better, and while I like to thing that the
books gets better as it goes along, and later revelations and plot
twists enhance the understanding and enjoyment of earlier chapters, the
fact is if you think the first 40% of the book sucked you'll probably
hate the rest.
*5) Will it be finished?*
Absolutely. Finishing this work is the highest priority longer term goal
I have in my life (is that sad?). Barring my unforeseen and untimely
death this book will get done.
*6) When is the next installment?*
As I have stated earlier, I prefer to release the novel as a whole. One
of the advantages of a book versus television is the ability to go back
to earlier chapters and make small correction to allow cool new ideas to
be employed in the later chapters without creating plot holes. That
said, the detailed outline of the novel has been completed and since I
don't have a problem of contract disputes and cast changes I will
consider releasing each chapter as it's completed if there's sufficient
*7) How does it mesh with Season 5 of Angel?*
Perfectly, I hope. This brings us to the important and complex question
of canon. The short answer is that this novel follows BtVS and Angel
cannon 100%. If, while reading, you feel that this is not the case, feel
free to start an email argument with me. Before you do that, however,
please read the separate section at the bottom of my definition of
"canon". This is a general discussion of what "canon" means on a
television show with specific examples from Buffy, Angel, and others.
*8) What about all the virtual Season 8's out there?*
I wouldn't know. I'm a very impressionable person, obviously, or I would
be writing original work instead of fanfiction. To make sure I didn't
"borough" anything from other people's writings I am refraining from
reading any fanfiction until I finish this novel. There are bound to be
some similarities somewhere since we're all basing our work on the same
characters and storylines of BtVS, but any such similarities are
*9) How do you want your feedback?*
In large quantities :) Please send your comments, whether praise, or
not, to my email address, leroygibin@.... I'll do my best to
respond to all email; flames will be ignored.
*10) Anything else?*
I apologies in advance for any spelling and grammatical errors you're
likely to encounter. I did my best to weed them out, but I'm likely to
have missed some. Also, if you know a fanfiction site, or a newsgroup
where this work will be a good fit, let me know.
Thank you very much for reading. At least this far :)
*Canon on a Television Series (feel free to skip this if not interested)*
Once in a while a television series comes along that creates more than
memorable characters and stories, but a new world, a new reality, so
vivid and captivating that it is embraced by the fans with seriousness
usually reserved for the reality around us. Star Trek is the most famous
example. Bufferverse is another. In these cases continuity and
compliance acquire a whole different level of importance. A given
storyline cannot ignore or contradict earlier storylines. The definition
of the word "canon" is "a set of laws". In case of a television series
it is a set of facts about characters and events that are considered
true and must be obied by in future storylines. As the series continue,
its canon expands. The question is then what facts fall under canon? The
short answer is "everything that happens on the series is canon". The
key word here is "happens". What does "happens" mean on a television
series? We are all familiar with the concept of a plot twist. We watch
an episode, or a series of episodes thinking that certain things are
happening, but later a revelation is made and we realize that something
completely different was happening. The revelation didn't change the
earlier episode. It's still there, exactly as it was. What happened,
happened. What changed was our perception of what has happened. The
later episode didn't break the canon set earlier, it re-interpreted the
events. Events are canon, but interpretation is not. How do we separate
the two? I like to apply a "court witness" test. Those of us who have
seen Law&Order or re-runs of Matlock (though they would never admit even
in aforementioned court) know that first hand accounts are admissible,
but hearsay is not. What we see on screen is canon, but what we are told
happened off screen is not. Let's say Spike comes over and tells Buffy
he just ripped the head off some demon. He might be telling the truth.
He might also be bragging. It could even be that it was some ass-faced
demon and Spike ripped off a part different than what he was thinking,
an honest mistake. The act of him saying the words would be canon, the
act of him ripping off the head is not. Characters lie. Characters make
mistakes. Even oracles and prophecies are not irrefutable as witnessed
in the whole "father will kill the son" fiasco. Even supposedly
established facts of the show can be flipped on their head with a
reasonable explanation, as it was with the "arrival of Jasmine" expose
by Skip. Interestingly, Angel writers seem much more open to drastic
reinterpretations, while BtVS tends to be fairly straightforward. Of
course, as with any tool, one must know the limits of good taste with
reinterpretations. I'm pretty sure that on a dare I can create a
construct where Buffy is an amnesiac alien from planet Zorg, Dawn is an
agent of MiB assigned to watch her, and Anya is actually 7of9 sent back
in time to protect the Earth from a new breed of Borg known as Bringers.
Changing the inherent nature and motivation of the main cast is a big
no. No declaring parts of the show "dream sequences" or "alternate
realities", that's a cheap way out. Other than that, I see no taboos. I
love logic games and a good reinterpretation thrills me. In fact, one of
the motivators for writing my novel were all those glaring plot holes in
Season 7. Their presence is understandable, the fate of the show was
unclear, there were possibilities of spin-offs. As behind the scenes
circumstances changed, new plot lines were created, old ones abandoned
and season turned out to be pretty messy. Or so it would seem. What if
that's not case? What if all those plot holes are not plot holes at all,
but rather openings from which the storylines for future
seasons/shows/tv-movies were to be weaved? Assuming that's the case I
decided to give my best shot of figuring out what these might be. Here
*Chapter 1: Frantic*
Cipriani was unusually empty even for this time of day, but Alberto
Tartaglia proffered it this way. While he enjoyed the city life in
general, he never liked the hassle and bustle in his immediate vicinity.
He preferred to take his time to enjoy his food such as the wonderful
scallops in front of him and to observe an occasional patron of the
establishment, such as the pretty young blond apparently heading his way.
"Alberto Tartaglia?," asked the young woman with a distinct American
"What can I do for such a beautiful senorita?" smiled Tartaglia. The
answer came in the form of a knockout punch to the face of his
bodyguard, Roberto. The unconscious man's body slumped under the table.
If Tartaglia was planning on voicing any surprise or protest to this
sudden attack he could only do so to the indifferent scallops on his
plate where his face was being pressed into by this rather ill-mannered
"My name is Buffy Summers. " he heard the girl speak. "Your people took
my sister. I want her back right now, or I will permanently merge your
head with the tableware." The unintelligible noise from the plate
prompted Buffy to lift Tartaglia's head a few inches off the plate. "You
"There must be some mistake," Tartaglia had a hard time catching his
breath. The sauce was running down his face and getting into his mouth
and nostrils. "My people didn't kidnap anybody." Immediately his head
was bashed into the plate again, this time with a much greater force.
"I know for a fact that the men that have taken her work for the Vizzini
family. I know for a fact that you are their Captain here, in Rome,
which means they work for you. And I know for a fact that if I change
the angle of your head like this, I'll drive you nose cartilage straight
into your brain on the next hit."
"Please, " Along with the sauce Tartaglia was now spitting out blood
pouring into his mouth from the broken nose and a bitten tongue.
"Please. Those were not my men."
"You did not just say that," Buffy's hand tightened the grip on her
captive's hair and pulled back slightly as if preparing for a hit.
"No! Please!" cried the mobster. "I'll explain. The Don, he sent his own
men here. For a special assignment. He didn't say what."
"Where are they?"
"I don't.." Tartaglia did not get to finish as Buffy threw him backwards
into the wall. She threw over the table with her left hand and punched
Roberto, who was starting to come to, in the head with the right.
Stepping over his hulking mass, she lifted up Tartaglia by the throat
until his feet were no longer touching the ground and slammed him
against the wall.
"Whatever you're on," hissed Tartaglia, "I think we can make big money
off of it."
"You think this is a joke?"
Tartaglia tried to smile, but the menacing intensity in the eyes of the
Slayer sent shivers down his spine.
"No. I think you're a very determined young woman, but I don't know
anything else." For a few moments Buffy stared at the man, trying to
decide if he was telling the truth. Suddenly she let go. Tartaglia
collapsed to the floor, coughing and wheezing. Buffy reached into his
inner pocket and pulled out his cell phone. She then grabbed Tartaglia's
head and stuffed the phone into his mouth.
"Make the calls and find out where they've taken my sister. I'll find
you in a couple hours. Chao."
Buffy's life in Rome didn't start out too badly. The plane landed
slightly ahead of schedule. The apartment picked out by Giles was
unexpectedly nice. As any other big city, Rome was rife with vampiric
and demonic activity, but just as she expected, the newly activated
slayers were more than eager to take over. Led by Stefka, one of the few
Watcher educated Potentials that was not massacred by the First last
year, they quickly covered both patrol and extermination duties. The
only time Buffy needed to use her strength was to open olive jars for
her sister. Dawn would pop them like peanuts in front of the TV and
occasionally swear at the bumbling AC Roma players. The entire scene
looked so out of place that it would invariably draw taunts from her
older sister, not unlike the one that began their conversation less than
a month ago.
"I'm happy you're becoming more Italiany, Dawn. But did you have to turn
into a guy?"
Dawn momentarily turned her head to greet her and quickly turned her
attention back to the screen.
"You just don't get it, Buffy, /futbol/, by its very nature is a
quintessential girl sport."
"In America, maybe."
"No, that's not what I mean," Dawn popped another two olives. "What's
the first thing people notice about soccer?"
"Nobody ever scores?" Buffy put on her slippers and went into the kitchen.
"Precisely! Low scoring," Dawn continued a little louder. "Basketball,
that's a guy's sport. It's expected that a basket will be made every
thirty seconds or so, so all you get is a few high fives and move on.
Soccer, on the other hand, is very unpredictable. You can go twenty,
thirty, or even forty minutes before you achieve the big Gooooooal. But
when you do, there's a really big celebration that lasts a minute or
two. Of course, sometimes despite all the work being put in you get no
Goooal at all, which while frustrating, is, unfortunately, a fact of
life," Dawn turned to her sister who just exited the kitchen with two
glasses of lemonade and a mildly horrified expression on her face. "What?"
"Nothing. These are exactly the kind of things I want coming out of my
little sister's mouth. Why couldn't it have been a Catholic school? I
had the brochures," Buffy handed one of the glasses to Dawn and sat on
the couch beside her. "And why is there still soccer in the middle of
"It's middle of summer, actually. Roma's doing a bunch friendlies in
Brazil and Argentina," said Dawn taking a sip from the glass. "How did
you orientation at the university go?"
"Great," said Buffy pretending to watch the little striped figures
moving chaotically on the screen. "There are a lot of interesting things
to consider. "
Dawn turned her head and stared intently at her sister who was still
futilely pretending to watch TV.
"And what did the Chosen One choose?"
"I'm still weighing my options," replied Buffy in a slow, absent tone.
"Did you even go?" Dawn's voice started to hit the high notes as it
always did when she became angry or overly frustrated.
"Of course I went. See all that pretty glossy paper?" Buffy pointed to
the stack on the coffee table.
"They have those at the door."
"The full three hours?"
Buffy didn't respond.
"You promised me you'd go!" Dawn's frustration was really gushing now.
Buffy put down her glass and got off the couch before facing her sister.
Dawn has grown a full three inches taller than her, and while Buffy had
no issues telling off an eight foot demon, the height advantage of her
younger sibling made her uncomfortable.
"And I did. But in case you didn't notice, I already have a little job
called the Chairman of the Slayers' Council."
"So you were at the clubhouse the rest of the day?"
"That's right. Taking care of official slayer business," Buffy watched
as Dawn stood up as well, took another sip of her glass and with that
all knowing look she has so often seen on their mother's face said,
"You do know that I'm going with Stefka to the movies tonight?"
"You have to stop that, Dawn. You don't get to tell me what to do."
"Then who? If not me, who? Mom's dead. Dad's in... in locations unknown,
and Giles is in England. It just us, Buffy. Me and you. So it's up to me
to take care of you."
"Take care of me? I'm your older sister, Dawn, and you're taking care of
me?" Buffy pronounced dramatically with a badly faked Italian accent.
Dawn grimaced as though she accidentally drank unsweetened grapefruit
"That is quite possibly the most horrible Godfather imitation I ever
heard. Please tell me that you're not doing this in front of other
"No, just pets. Yesterday at the park I saw two dogs going at it and I
told them that I hope their first child will be a masculine child,"
smiled Buffy, quite pleased that she was able to lighten the mood so
"You know, Buffy," Dawn grew serious again, "I just worry sometimes."
"Well, don't. So I didn't do much today, but my night is going to be
"Yeah. And I'm going to start by getting a broom from the kitchen closet."
"You're going to clean? That's your big plan?"
"No, I'm going to use it to chase you away from the TV and into your
room to study for that Trigonometry final."
"Sounds like fun."
"Loads of it. And I get to do it every night for the next four weeks."
"Actually, it's three."
"Then we better not waste anymore broom chasing time," said Buffy and
pretend lunged at her sister.
They took her then. Coming out of the Mathematics building. They grabbed
her and shoved her into a van. Her backpack tore, spilling its contents
onto the side of the road. Samira tried to chase down the car, but all
she could bring back to Buffy were pencils, two lined notebooks, and a
copy of Trigonometria Avanzata. The ransom call came just an hour later.
It would have been so much easier if they just asked for money. The
leads were numerous, but the time was short. With less than two hours
left in her six hour deadline, Buffy headed from Cipriani to the
clubhouse where under the pretentious name of International Women's
Youth League the Slayer school conducted its training. Buffy found Dino
Parreli in the study staring into space, opened books covering the desk
in front of him. The elderly Watcher has joined the Rome office less
than two months ago. Slaughtered along with their charges by the First's
disciples, their headquarters in London blown to smithereens, the
Watchers became a scarce commodity with less than a dozen active members
around the globe. Giles has ran himself rugged trying to entice his
ex-colleagues back from retirement and the private sector to help
educate the hundreds of newly activated slayers. The seventy-eight year
old Parreli was one of a few that agreed to give the organization a
second spin. He was a right fit for Rome, where he could concentrate on
teaching theory and leave the practical weapons training to Buffy.
"Well?" Buffy shouted impatiently from the doorway. Parreli slowly
turned his head and stared at her for a moment, then took off the
reading glasses and looked again at the Slayer who was now standing next
"I found no record of the Scythe being used in dark rituals. In fact,
when miss Rosenberg used it to turn all Potentials into slayers, it was
the first recorded non-battle use of the weapon. However, it is one of
the most powerful artifacts on record, so I am sure it has varied
"If I knew what the Vizzinis want with the Scythe, then I could trade it
for Dawn and get it back before they do whatever it is they want to do
with it. I cannot just give them this weapon and hope for the best!"
"I'm sorry I can't be of more assistance. If it helps, I am confident
that miss Rosenberg's spell is irreversible, even with the Scythe. The
slayers she activated will have their powers for life," Parrelli was
speaking in a low, tired voice, trying in vain to maintain eye contact
with Buffy who was kept pacing around his desk. Suddenly she stopped.
"Good. Let me know if you find anything else," and she walked out the
room. Parreli sighed and put the reading glasses back on. Europe's
oldest and most prestigious occult organization is being run by a young
American girl with no manners. Things have certainly changed.
The old man was not entirely correct. While Buffy was the official head
of the Slayers' Council, the day-to-day operations were run by her
ex-Watcher Rupert Giles from the reconstructed London office, and to a
lesser extent, by Willow Rosenberg from Rio, and while the latter was
also a young American girl, the red headed witch's manners were
impeccable. At the moment this quality was coming under a ferocious
assault as Buffy called her for the sixth time in the last hour and
twenty seven minutes.
"I need good news, Will, and I need them now."
"Actually, I have managed a minor breakthrough."
"You don't sound too pleased"
"Well..," the witch's voice indeed sounded rather bleak with a sprinkle
of fake cheerfulness put on for her friend's sake. "I've determined with
certainty that Dawny is alive and is somewhere in south-central Italy,
so that's something."
"Yeah, that's just this side of nothing. Forget it, just get down here.
We'll need you for the storm of Vizzini's compound."
"You think Dawn is there?"
"Maybe. It's not like you're giving me a better option."
"I'm really sorry, Buffy. Whoever put up these locator spell barriers
really knew what they were doing. I'm sure I can break through with a
little more time."
"You can continue working on it when you get here. How long will it take
"I'll need half an hour or so to get the supplies together and I'll
teleport right over."
"Half an hour then," said Buffy and hung up. For a moment she wondered
at what point did Willow's teleportation ability begin to be taken for
granted. Then again if the witch managed to bring her back from the dead
two years ago, what's so hard about moving people and objects on the
mortal plane? It certainly helped them save a lot of money on air fare
in the first few lean months, before Giles was able to reestablish some
of the financing channels of the defunct Watchers' Council. After her
spell transforming Potentials into slayers, Willow was widely regarded
as the most powerful witch in this world which made their current
predicament all the more alarming. Whoever has kidnapped Dawn wasn't
trying to get the Scythe for its archaeological value, if they are able,
at least temporarily, to match strength with Willow. With these thoughts
running through her head Buffy took a left into in dorm corridor and
opened the door to Stefka's room.
Discovered as a Potential Slayer at the tender age of eight, Stefka
Bulanova spent almost ten years with the Watchers. Watcher educated
Potentials were the first to fall under the knifes of the First's
Bringers. Suddenly the opportunity to prepare for their possible destiny
as the Slayer no longer seemed as attractive as the relative safety in
anonymity of being undiscovered. Most of those who managed to escape did
so by fleeing to Buffy's protection in California. Stefka was one of
only seven that survived without her. Her advanced knowledge of
demonology and superb fighting skills have quickly propelled her to a
top position in Rome. As weeks went by Buffy even let Stefka replace her
as the slayers' regular fighting instructor. They sparred together a few
times, with Stefka invariably throwing the fight in a way that would
appear natural to the spectators.
"You don't think I can beat you on my own?" Buffy asked her after
another one of their sessions.
"No, " the lanky girl answered, wiping her face with a towel. "You're
very strong, your reaction time is excellent, and you have a few nice
original moves, but you severely lack formal training and your overall
strategy is absolutely incoherent. At full strength I would defeat you
on that mat every time."
"Oh, that's it!" Buffy was indignant. "Get your overeducated ass back in
the training room and I'll teach you some manners that apparently your
Watcher didn't cover!"
"You misunderstand me. The reason I win is because it is not a fair
fight. You can't use your most powerfully weapon."
"You think Mr. Pointy has magical powers?"
"I didn't mean your stake. The reason you're the greatest Slayer who has
ever lived is because God has given you strength beyond all who came
before you or since. Strength which you are able to tap to defeat any
enemy when it matters, no matter its strength or skill. The reason you
don't win against me is because you know you don't have to. I don't
stand a chance against you in a real fight. I understand that, and, in
time everyone else will too. For now it is easier this way, and it's
right. The outcome they see might be fake, but it is a higher truth. "
"So lying is good now, huh?" Buffy smiled tentatively, unsure as how she
was supposed to react to this compliment. "I definitely have to check
out your church."
Stefka smiled back and left the locker room without saying another word.
Buffy wasn't sure if she might have offended her. She didn't have much
experience interacting with devout religious people. Insane cult
leaders, shamans, and warlocks, sure, but not the regular church going
folk. Stefka was more than just church going. While she cut down on the
Jesus references as more slayers from the Middle East joined the school,
her speeches, instructions, and examples were decidedly sermon-like,
full of religious overtones. Her free time was also spent in a similar
fashion. Aside from regular, twice-a-week, visits to the church, she
prayed in her room daily for quite lengthy periods of time.
This day was no exception. As she expected Buffy found Stefka in her
room, kneeling before the icon of St. Nicholas. This time there were two
candles in front of it. As she heard Buffy enter, Stefka immediately
jumped to her feet and turned to face her teacher. She was almost six
inches taller than Buffy. Her long straw blond hair, tied into a single
braid, went down her back to the point where the dark brown pants met
the dark gray shirt.
"Anything new?" she asked, her large blue eyes transfixed upon the Slayer.
"I have confirmed that Dawn's abduction order came from the top, which
makes it more likely we'll have to attack Vizzini's mansion in Modica.
Andrew has just arrived there. He should start sending you
reconnaissance photos at any moment."
"I'll restart the drills as soon as we have the layout of the compound.
If you want to go over the final make up of the team.."
"It's alright," Buffy interrupted, "You spent more time training them
than I have. I trust your judgment."
Stefka nodded politely.
"I should speak to them though, shouldn't I? They've been trained to
handle demons with swords, not thugs with M-16s. I would go by myself,
but there's just too many exits to cover.."
Stefka reached out and gave Buffy's hand a tender squeeze.
"It's Dawn." she said. "Everybody understands. They're all eager to help."
Had it come from any other person Buffy would not have believed it, but
she knew Stefka would never lie to her. This strange devotion the girl
had for her was as comforting right now as it was unnerving just a few
"It's weird", she complained once to Dawn over breakfast. "She makes me
feel like I'm some sort of a supreme cult leader."
"Really? How strange. I mean, it's not like you have a bunch of young
girls who left behind their families and possessions to live under you
hospice in a heavily fortified compound chock full of various weaponry."
"Oh my god. You right, I'm David Koresh!"
"Nah " Dawn shook her head, pouring milk into her bowl. "You're not a
true cult leader until you start having sex with you disciples."
"Kennedy!" both exclaimed simultaneously and laughed.
"Her eyes seemed to wonder the last time she was here, didn't they?"
"I don't think it's anything," Buffy answered, chopping her pancakes
with a fork. "She and Willow seem pretty solid."
"Willow is solid. Kennedy.. She seemed kind of restless. And we both
know there's only one reason a girl like that gets her tongue pierced,
and it's not a fashion statement."
"Oh? And what would that reason be?"
There was a long uncomfortable silence as Dawn kept her eyes fixed on
her cereal trying to avoid the older sister's stern glare.
"So, " she finally spoke, still not daring to lift her head. "I wouldn't
worry too much about Stefka. At least not until she gets a St. Buffy
icon to go with her St. Nicholas."
"And that's another thing, what is with her and that icon? What is she's
praying for all the time, better Christmas presents? Suddenly, a letter
to the North Pole is no longer good enough? Santa's pet!"
Dawn responded with undecipherable gurgling sounds as she was choking on
"Aaah, " she finally sighed with relief and wiped little droplets of
milk from under her nose. "That's funny. Actually I looked that up. For
the Orthodox St. Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and lost
children. He has nothing to do with their Christmas. "
"Good, " said Buffy, still in the same mockingly stern voice. "Because
my Secret Santa limit is thirty euros, regardless of who I end up with."
Buffy left the school for the meet with plenty of time to spare. She
gave the assembled strike team a quick look over, but left most of the
speechifying to Stefka. The part about the enemy being out to get all of
the slayers, while possibly true given their desire for the Scythe,
would have seemed too self serving coming from her. Besides, Buffy
wanted to run through the possible conversation with the kidnappers a
few more times in her head. She was confident she could extend the
deadline by a few hours. The designated phone booth was empty. Buffy
made a few quick glances up and down the street and seeing nothing out
of ordinary, walked in. Small confined spaces have always made her
uncomfortable, even before she had to claw out of her own coffin. At
least this one was vertical. She checked for dial tone, then for loose
change. She spent the next few moments trying to read the French version
of the calling instructions. She knew she was being watched and tried to
appear as confident and as nonchalant as possible. Suddenly a knock came
on the booth door. Buffy turned and saw a thirteen year old boy on a
"It's busy. Go away!" she shouted through the door. The boy knocked again.
"There's no way you can be both blind and death," said Buffy opening the
door. "Beat it before I beat you!"
"I was told to give this to you," the boy handed her a small wooden box.
"To me?" Buffy gave him a puzzled look.
"Yes, a man told me to give this to a blond American woman that will
come to this phone at ten." Buffy looked suspiciously at the box, then
The boy shrugged. "A man. I don't know. Gave me ten euros to give this
to you. Oh, and a message, too"
The boy looked up at the sky for a second, trying to remember. "It went
like this, 'We thought you could use a three hour extension. If you wish
to purchase more, let us know, you have credit for another seven.'"
"Is that all?"
"That's all," said the boy. "Then he got into a blue fiat and drove away."
Alberto Tartaglia was pouring himself a glass of wine when he thought he
heard a commotion outside the room. The kids were supposed to be
upstairs asleep, and the wife, while prone to throwing dishes and vases,
wouldn't do it out there with him at home, she always preferred a
target. He moved towards the study doors just as they were thrown off
"I was beginning to wonder what was keeping you," smirked Tartaglia.
Buffy didn't answer, but menacingly approached the mobster.
"Hey, hey, " Tartaglia raised his arms in a sign of surrender. "I've
been a good boy, I got the information you wanted." Buffy stopped, still
without dropping a word.
"The name is Adriano Chelli. He is the Capo in Napoli. Vizzini trusts
him more than his own sons. He got here two days ago with a couple of
other guys that no one's heard of, " Tartaglia took a long sip from the
glass and continued. "They got a couple of cars from Consta Moisiu, the
Albanian mechanic on the south side. Stolen, of course, but with proper
paperwork and plates. They inquired about discrete residences, too, but
didn't like what they were offered. I would guess they found something
"What does he look like?" Buffy finally spoke.
"Chelli? Young guy, late twenties. About meter eighty. Seventy five
kilos or so. Wears a big golden pinky ring."
"Probably, but nothing visible."
"Cars' descriptions, license plates"
"Couldn't get them, you'll need to talk to Consta personally." Tartaglia
picked up a small paper and handed it to the Slayer. "This is the shop's
Buffy took the paper and put it in her jeans pocket.
"This is your life, here," she said. "You better not have lied to me."
"Break my face once, shame on you. Break my face twice, shame on me,"
smiled Tartaglia, scratching his bandaged nose. Once Buffy disappeared
through the now doorless doorway, he took out his cellphone and
carefully stepped into the corridor.
"You know the grease monkey you talked with at Moisiu shop?" he spoke to
the person on the other end as he walked. "This is not getting traced
back to us, do you understand?" "No, someone is heading there right now.
Take care of this once she leaves." Tartaglia hung up. That cocksucker
Chelli thinks he can just stroll onto his turf and stir trouble? Let's
see him handle this crazy bitch. He stopped at the front door and sighed
looking at once again unconscious Roberto slumped over the wall with his
head jammed through the boards. "I really should get more bodyguards."
The main conference room was reminiscent of scene in a police detective
movie. The slayers were typing away at computers, answering the phones.
Samira was the first to see Buffy enter and tugged Stefka on the sleeve
to get her attention.
"I have dispatched everyone except for the strike team to sweep the
city." she said, running up to the Slayer. "The rest are checking all
the city cameras for the plates you've given us. It's just a matter of
"Time we don't have," Buffy answered grimly. "Willow?"
Before Stefka could answer her, Buffy's phone broke out into a high
pitched version of "Night on the Bald Mountain".
"Where the hell are you?" she shouted into the microphone.
"Milan, I'm boarding a plane right now," the witch sounded tired, almost
"Whatever is blocking the locator spell, is messing with my
teleportation. I've been bouncing all over Europe and North Africa.
Milan is the closest I've been able to get. I decided it'll be safer to
just fly from here, then risk ending up in the middle of the Sahara
Buffy closed her eyes trying hard to maintain self control.
"Including the drive from the airport? Two hours at most. Will that
work? When is the exchange?"
Willow didn't get her answer as Buffy was bashing the phone against the
desk in a fit of frustrated fury. The work and conversation in the room
stopped as everyone was staring at Buffy with fearful curiosity. Finally
she stopped and unclenched her fist. What could only be qualified as
phone dust sipped through her fingers onto the floor.
"Give me your phone," she turned to Samira.
"Mine has terrible reception.." she scrambled, "And the battery is low..
"Mine?" the freckled redhead jumped up. "It's even worse. It barely
functions.. I don't think I even have it with me.."
"Here," Stefka handed Buffy hers. "What did Willow say?"
"Her teleportation spell is not working well, she's taking a plane from
Milan." The words were coming out slowly, mechanically as Buffy was
looking past Stefka, half lost in her own thoughts.
"Wait a minute, if Willow can't do teleportation, how are we supposed to
get to the Vizzini compound?" Buffy walked out of the room without
"So what do we do?" Samira asked Stefka.
"You and your retarded phone are coming with me. The rest of you, keep
searching for Dawn!" she shouted running out after Buffy. They caught up
with her on the basement stairwell. Buffy was jumping over flights,
reaching the storage area in less than a thirty seconds.
"Why didn't Willow tell us sooner?" she heard Stefka from behind. "If
she told us she was having issues, four hours ago, we could have charted
a plane, shipped our team to Sicily ahead of time."
"She couldn't," Buffy was fast walking past the armory and into the
artifact storage, speeding up her pace each time Stefka and Samira tried
to cover the ten meters separating them. "That's always the trouble with
our little group. Each of us thinks she can fix her mess without help
from the others. It almost never works. Just messes up things more. But
we keep doing it. We all do it." She emerged out of the restricted vault
with the Scythe in her hands. "That's our nature."
Stefka put her hand on the Slayer's shoulder as she was about to walk
"You can't do this, Buffy"
"I have no other option," Buffy headed to the door, but Stefka stepped
in her way.
"This was never an option. We'll do all we can to get Dawn back. We'll
risk our very lives, but giving them the Scythe would endanger the
"I don't care. I won't have anymore pieces of my sister given to me."
"Parrelli said the fingers were cut off as soon as she was taken, before
they even contacted you. She might already be dead." Buffy stepped
around Stefka without saying a word. The latter put herself between
Buffy and the door again.
"What you are doing is wrong, Buffy."
The Slayer looked at Samira behind her, then looked at her assistant and
"I remember we had a conversation once. You were saying something about
you and me, about practice fights versus ones that really matter. Which
one do you think this will be?" She stepped around Stefka once more.
This time the tall blond stood still.
"This can't be good," said Samira as soon as Buffy disappeared in the
stairwell. "We should call Mr. Giles."
"No," Stefka answered, her voice a little shaken. "Nothing has changed.
We still storm Vizzini compound, only now we're looking for the Scythe
instead of Dawn. We need a plane, vans. Maybe helicopters," She sounded
more confident with each sentence uttered. "Come on".
It was close to midnight when Adriano Chelli arrived back at the safe
house. Naldo stood watch in the doorway. Sat watch to be more accurate
as he slumped against the door, smoking.
"Shit!" he exclaimed noticing Chelli. "Is it time already? I haven't
gotten a turn since dinner!" The capo gave him a puzzled look. "They
promised me one more turn at least! You tell them they'll be sorry if
they welsh on me!"
Chelli grabbed Naldo by the collar and lifted him to his feet.
"Shut the fuck up, and stand watch properly," he whispered angrily. The
sheer unprofessionalism of the men assigned to him drove him crazy. None
of this made much sense, the team, the target, the rough treatment he
was ordered to give her, but he has learned never to question old man
Vizzini. If he was given these freaks and charged with obtaining a big
shiny metal axe, then the big shiny metal axe he shall deliver. Antonio
stepped inside the dark house and took the creaking stairs into the
basement. In the sparsely lit room two men were playing cards. The room
stank of alcohol, smoke, and sweat. The grunting in the far corner
stopped and the third man approached Chelli, zipping up.
"Look who's back!" he smiled crookedly and scratched his beard. "What do
you guys say we let him ahead of the line?"
"I don't have time for this shit," He could barely contain his disdain.
If these were his men, he'd whipped them into shape long ago, but as
they were hand picked by the Don there was no telling what kind of
connections they had. "We're leaving for the exchange in thirty minutes.
I want her cleaned up and presentable by that time, you got it?"
"Sure thing, Capitan," said the dealer. "We promised Naldo, one more
shot, though. The poor guy has been all by himself up there for hours."
"Right, " his partner sneered. "Why don't you go get him?"
"Screw you! You just want to slip one in, while I'm up there, you know
it's my turn. Why don't you get him, Carlos?"
The bearded man took a beer bottle from the table and shook his head.
"I had guard duty the last time, I'm staying here."
"Oh, for the love of God, I'll get him!" Chelli gladly rushed back
upstairs. A few more minutes with these assholes and he'd definitely
shoot every last one of them. When he came out, Naldo was again sitting
at the bottom of the steps, but with a young gypsy girl next to him.
"What the fuck are you doing now?"
"I'm getting my fortune told, " smiled the gangster. "She's really good."
"I can tell you your fortune, you idiot. In about thirty seconds you'll
be without your wallet and watch."
"I'm no thief, Mister" Zemfira smiled coyly at Chelli. The girl looked
about eleven, her raven black hair pulled back into two braids
prominently displaying her round gold earrings, far too large for the
tiny ears they were attached to. She stood up and walked over to him.
"Let me see your hand, and I'll tell you what's to come. If you don't
like it, you don't pay."
"They are waiting for you downstairs," Chelli turned to Naldo. "You have
ten minutes, no more. I'll stay here."
As Naldo disappeared inside the house, the girl took Chelli's hand and
started tracing it with her small, thin fingers.
"You love line, looks bright, " she said almost singing the words.
"There's an obstacle there that is about to be removed. The money line
is even stronger, you're expecting a big windfall very soon."
"You are quite good, " he smirked. "What else do you see?"
"Your life line.. interesting..." the girl fell quiet, her head almost
buried in his palm.
"What about my life line, gypsy?"
Zemfira turned her face towards him, the moonlight glistened off her
"It looks like it's run its course," the vampire growled.
Through the dirty ceiling of the phone booth the moon looked brownish
with a green tint. The square was surprisingly empty. In Rome, tourists
roamed every street at all hours of the day. Even this out of the way
place was packed when she came here the first time, but in the past half
hour Buffy watched the last of the crowd melt away like a root beer
float. She glanced at the phone again. It was five minutes till they
call with the drop off place. She had nothing to do, but watch the
moonlight play in the blade of the Scythe at her feet. A phone ring
immediately brought Buffy out of her trance. She momentarily grabbed for
receiver before realizing the ringing was coming from her cell phone.
"Did you have Alice stake out Tartaglia?" said Stefka as soon as Buffy
"She just called"
"Why did she call you?"
"Because I activated a new phone with your number. You have mine,
remember? Somebody has just tried to kill him."
"Alice saw two armed men dispose of the outside guard and enter the
apartment. I assume they didn't come to taste the wine. Are we
protecting Tartaglia or just tailing him?"
"Alright. I'll have her call the police. I'll let you know if this is
related to Dawn as soon as I find out anything." Stefka quickly hung up,
but Buffy stared at the phone for a few moments. "This can't be good,"
she thought to herself. Even if Tartaglia's assassination was just a
coincidence she still lost a valuable source of information in case Dawn
is not returned. She shook her head trying to clear her mind of these
unpleasant thoughts, but the horrors of the worst case scenario kept
creeping inside. Again the phone rang, and once more Buffy grabbed for
the booth receiver instead of her cell phone.
"What is it now?" she whisper shouted. Somebody was crying on the other
"Andrew? This is a bad time. Call Stefka," she said frustrated.
"I thought I did."
"Right. She has my number now," she was about to hang up.
"They are all dead," she heard.
"Everyone," the young man whispered. "Everyone at the compound."
"Vizzini's compound? What happened?"
"It was all burning and they kept shooting and shooting..," the young
man's speech became unintelligible again.
"Andrew, calm down, are you in danger?"
"No," He suddenly stopped crying, his voice now calm and somber. "They
left. They killed everyone and left. If they saw me, they didn't care."
"Who are 'they'?" Buffy was trying hard not to spook Andrew, but anger
and frustration were sipping into her voice. She was supposed to receive
the drop off call six minutes ago and deep in her gut a terrifying
realization was beginning to rise that she will never receive that call.
"They were jumping out the windows... women... kids.. burning.. and they
just kept shooting, and shooting, and shooting, and ..." The call
waiting signal interrupted Andrew's babbling.
"Just stay put. Stay out of sight," said Buffy. "Somebody will come and
get you." She switched to the other caller.
"Buffy," Stefka's voice was worried and unsteady. "I was just looking at
latest the pictures of the compound.."
"Andrew just called," Buffy interrupted. "He's in shock. What the hell
is happening there?"
"There was an attack. An assault helicopter with support on the ground.
The building went up in flames. I can't tell if it was the helicopter
missiles or explosives inside the the compound." There was a pause.
Buffy could hear the frantic mouse clicking on the other end as Stefka
was flipping through the pictures on her computer. "The shooters seem to
cover every exit, " she continued, "I don't think anyone made it out. I
don't think Dawn was there," she quickly added, "If she ever was there
they had to move her for the hand off long before. They will probably
"No, they won't," said Buffy. For a moment, while Stefka spoke, she
almost fainted, but a second adrenalin wind kicked in allowing her to
temporarily collect herself. "They most likely have heard of what's
going on and are either hiding or running from whoever is wiping out the
family. We have to find them first. Where's Willow?"
"She's here. Almost. Samira is driving her from the airport."
"I want her to get the locator spell going. I don't care what she has to
do. I want people deployed to airports, train stations, and bus
terminals. Whoever is left I want them canvasing the city. Knock on
doors if they have to. We have the plates, the color, and make of the
stupid van! I want it found!!" She eased up a little as she felt the
cellphone start cracking in her tight grasp. "We have a few more Vizzini
related contacts besides Tartaglia," Buffy said a little more calmly.
"I'll take those since they might also be targeted for assassination.
Check in with me every half hour or in case of anything call worthy,"
she hang up, gave the silent pay phone one last glance, and walked out
of the booth.
The leads were evaporating faster than they appeared. The informants
Buffy managed to find alive knew nothing about the hits, and the dead
ones weren't much for talking. It was close to four in the morning when
she got a call from Stefka. It was only twenty minutes since the last
and that meant she had something.
"We found the van," she said. From the depressed tones in Stefka's voice
it was clear she didn't think of it as good news.
"Just outside the city. Firefighters were called in for a fire due to
explosion. I had Kate check it out. They found what once was a van in
what used to be a garage. The plates were half melted, but we've got a
partial match. She talked to the neighbors and they said there were men
periodically standing at the front door. The descriptions match our
kidnappers. The firefighters found some body pieces, but they don't yet
know how many people, or if there were any female remains..." The rest
of the conversation was a blur. She thought she told Stefka to keep the
search going, but she wasn't sure. Just as she wasn't sure how long she
has been wondering the streets afterwards. It was still very dark, but
the air smelled of the coming sun. Buffy waited for it with dread. In
the light of the new day the events of this one will seem so much more
real, so final. As the first sign of the reality reared its ugly head,
Buffy started to feel the advent of physical exhaustion. She hasn't
eaten or even sat down in over sixteen hours. She plunked herself in a
chair on the sidewalk and looked around. She might not have paid
attention to the streets she was walking, but her subconscious has
guided her to within a few blocks of her apartment. The table and chairs
on the sidewalk belonged to Dino's Pizzeria, the owner must have
forgotten to bring them inside for the night. Buffy slowly traced the
table pattern with her hand. It must have been the same table she sat at
two days ago...
"I knew I'd find you here with your coffee".
Buffy looked up, squinting at the bright sun. Her sister was standing
over her, backpack on one shoulder.
"No you didn't, " she said pushing out one of the chairs with her foot.
"This is your favorite pizza place. I never been here for coffee before
in my life."
"Not true, " Dawn said, setting down her things. "According to Plato you
always come here."
"It's Wednesday. Fourth period was Classical philosophy. I keep blocking
it out," Buffy mumbled into her cup.
"Plato says that all creation is derived from heavenly templates which
are perfect forms of each thing," continued Dawn paying no attention to
Buffy's words. "A perfect horse, a perfect Slayer, a perfect coffee
shop. And all the coffee shops are nothing more than imperfect shadows
of the actual thing. So, wherever you go, you're always wasting your
mornings and afternoons in the same coffee place."
"Interesting," Buffy took another sip. "Only wouldn't I then be wasting
this morning in a crooked version of The Pizza Place, instead of The
"Not if you're only drinking coffee," Dawn responded, a little unsure.
"I see. So if you were eating your usual sausage and mushroom you'd be
in a different place than I am?"
"I guess. Yes."
"Excellent!" Buffy smiled. "Then hurry up and order."
Dawn shook her head in a mock disapproval.
"What is this fascination with solitude you have acquired? You know I
could be a little more tolerant of you spending your days caffeinating
yourself into a frenzy if you at least didn't do it alone. I'm sure this
city has plenty of lazy slobs that would be glad to share some Half&Half
"I'm not letting you set me up again, " sighed Buffy watching their
conversation take the usual turn.
"Okay, Mario was kind of a disaster, but Antonio was good for a few
laughs, wasn't he?" said Dawn just as the waiter put the pizza plate in
front of her. Buffy watched as the girl took ravenously to the meat,
dough, and cheese concoction in front of her. The arrival of food gave
Buffy an opportunity to change the unpleasant subject, but her ingrained
sarcasm took the better of her.
"Maybe you'll be better at picking boyfriends for me, once you get one
yourself," she said.
"You are totally right," Dawn responded with a full mouth. "My personal
life is so pathetic. I mean my seventeenth birthday came and went and I
still haven't slept with a vampire."
Buffy couldn't help chuckling. She loved Dawn's comebacks, almost as an
art form, even when they came at her expense.
"Speaking of the handsome and supernatural, " continued the younger
Summers, "How about a certain someone who keeps sending you flowers,
candy, and an occasional demon head?"
"I'm not going out with the Immortal," came a quick reply.
"Why not? He is smart. He is charming. He's beyond gorgeous. And I am
eighty percent confident he is not evil."
"Well, if it's eighty percent.."
"I'm not saying, 'marry him'. Have coffee. God knows you doing plenty of
that already." Dawn took another slice of pizza and proceeded to chew it
thoughtfully. For a while their conversation gave way to the chatter of
"You know I've been reading up on retirement depression," Dawn began
"Is that the perfect heavenly Depression reflected through the prism of
old age?" said Buffy as the waiter refilled her cup.
"Ha-ha. Very funny. It's actually very pertinent."
"Clearly. Except for the retired and depressed part. If you're done
spiking that fanta..."
"Oh? Let's examine your case shall we?" said Dawn handing her sister
back the sugar bowl.
"God, I miss California schools where kids don't actually learn
anything," sighed Buffy.
"You've been the Slayer since you were fifteen," Dawn continued.
"Protecting the world from demons, vampires, corduroy pants, and other
forces of evil. You had a destiny. You were the Chosen ONE."
Buffy rolled her eyes. She knew exactly where her sister was going.
"Sure, a little later Faith came, but Miss-Knife-Wielding-Psycho only
emphasized the importance of your chosiness..."
"'Chosination'? 'Chosinosity'? The point is that now, thanks to Willow,
there are more slayers than you can shake a stick at, and for the first
time in eight years you are free to do whatever it is you want to do.
But you don't know what it is, so you sulk. It's classic," Dawn leaned
back in the chair and bit off a huge chunk of pizza as though rewarding
herself for a well made point.
"I know very well what I want to do," Buffy answered methodically
blending sugar into her coffee. "It's called chilling continental style.
You sit in a cafe on a sidewalk, sip really good coffee from a really
tiny cup, and stare at the passers by. All I need is to take up smoking
and I'll be all set."
Dawn shook her head. "It's all an act," she said trying no to spray the
food she was chewing. "You don't really like it."
"No, I love it."
"Please! Life without duties and responsibilities thy name is not Buffy."
For a moment Buffy looked intently at the young woman in front of her.
Her long, flowing brown hair accented the long swan-like neck and the
large gray eyes stared back lovingly and playfully. "She turned out
prettier than I am," Buffy thought without a hint of jealousy.
"I still have responsibilities," she said out loud. "I have to keep an
eye on you. And the way you go for that last slice of pizza, you're more
ferocious than any hell hound. Plus there's something quite evil about
you eating two thousand calories a meal without gaining an ounce..."
The cell phone rang. Always guarded against frittering her time away on
frivolities, Stefka never configured her phone. The persistent, annoying
factory ring slowly brought Buffy back to reality. She collected
herself, wiping away the tears, and took the call just as it was about
to go to voice mail.
"I found her!" Willow's voice was trembling. "The spell, it worked.
She's alive, she's at your apartment! Buffy? Buffy?!" Buffy didn't hear
her anymore, she was running.