The Big Reveal.
Betaed by Maria and Flight Of Fancy.
Buffy was nervous, and scared. Her arms were crossed over her stomach, and she was pacing back and forth across her old room. It was almost time for her to see the Scoobies, and she knew that they would want to talk to her, and probably hug her. They wouldn’t understand if she was reserved and kept her distance from them.
She sighed, and forced herself to stop pacing. A quick look in the mirror, a final run of her fingers through her hair, and she was ready. The person in the mirror looked so young, but felt so old. It was strange, this second chance at life, at happiness. I can’t mess this up. I have to be strong this time.
Downstairs, Merrick and Joyce were welcoming the gang. Everyone had arrived at the same time, for once.
Giles didn’t know how to behave around Joyce after her refusal to come to the last meeting. He didn’t have much experience with women, never having been married or in a committed relationship before. He felt as if he had been given the brush-off, and now he sat tentatively on the edge of his chair in the living room.
Willow and Xander were uneasy as well. Normally, it was Giles or one of them that called a meeting, but this time it was Joyce. If Giles had asked her to call, they would have understood, but that’s not what happened.
Angel was annoyed. He was the one that should be calling these meetings. It was offensive that an ordinary human seemed to believe they had the right to order him around. Oz didn’t care what the reason for the meeting was, he was just happy to have an excuse to spend the evening with Willow. Cordelia wasn’t quite as happy to be spending quality time with Xander again. He really needed to learn some manners.
Merrick helped Joyce serve drinks to the group. Everyone was waiting impatiently to get down to business.
Giles was the one who cracked first. “Will someone please tell me why we have been summoned here? We had a meeting only last night, and I don’t believe there have been any new developments since that time.”
“Yes, let’s get this over with. I need to get out and patrol, since the Slayer seems to be on vacation,” Angel growled.
Suddenly, Xander turned accusing eyes on Kendra. “Yeah, why aren’t you out there making the world a safer place? Don’t you realize that people die when you slack off and just sit on your butt?”
Willow looked apologetically at Kendra, but nodded her agreement with Xander just the same.
Kendra’s eyes were bright with suppressed tears. “I thought you were my friends, and that I was a member of the gang. Thank you for correcting my mistake.” She looked briefly from Xander to Willow, and then fled to the kitchen.
Xander looked confused.
Willow jumped up from the couch, wanting to follow her and make things better. “We didn’t mean it like that, Kendra.”
Joyce stopped the young witch before she left the room. “I think you’ve done enough damage tonight.” Willow had never heard the motherly woman’s voice that cold. Joyce sent a brief warning glance to Xander, and then left the room. She followed Kendra to where the young Slayer was sitting on the back porch, crying. Joyce quietly sat beside her, and enclosed the girl in a protective embrace.
“I really believed they were my friends,” Kendra said, her voice muffled by her tears and Joyce’s shoulder.
“I’m sorry, too, Honey. It would seem that we were both wrong about them.” The two women sat together for a while.
“Are you ready to go back in, Kendra?” Joyce asked with concern, straightening Kendra’s hair. “You know that Buffy is your friend, right?”
A twinkle returned to Kendra’s eyes, and the corner of her mouth curved up a little. “Yeah, I have other friends too. You, and Merrick. You’re both people I can count on.” The Slayer wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand. “Is my hair okay?” When Joyce nodded, she said, “Alright, let’s go then.”
Joyce smiled and linked her arm with Kendra’s. “Let’s go in there and show our support for Buffy. If they were even half as bad to her as they’ve been to you, she’ll need it.”
Kendra nodded with determination. There was no way she was going to leave Buffy to face that group alone.
When Kendra and Joyce returned to the living room, Willow and Xander immediately began to apologize for their earlier behaviour.
Kendra held up her hands. “Just don’t. Don’t bother. I don’t want to hear whatever you’ve got to say.”
“But...” Xander stood up and started walking toward the Slayer.
“Stay away from me.” Kendra stepped back, a mixture of fear and disgust crossing her face.
Willow frowned. “Hey. Xander’s not going to hurt you. He’s one of the good guys, so just relax.”
Kendra quickly looked down, refusing to make eye contact with anyone in the room. Tears landed on her shirt, as she wound her arms protectively about herself.
Joyce went to the Slayer, and placed an arm around her shoulders. “Kendra?”
“I...I...” The young girl was now crying so hard that she was unable to speak.
Joyce led Kendra upstairs. This was not normal behaviour for the young Slayer, and her caregiver wanted to get to the bottom of it quickly. Nobody in the living room said anything when they left, instead just looking at each other in confusion.
Upstairs, Buffy’s pacing had come to a halt when she picked up the sound of Kendra, weeping as she climbed the stairs with Joyce’s assistance. She rushed to her bedroom door. “What happened?” She helped her mom lead Kendra into the room, and sat her on the bed, a woman on either side of the distraught Slayer. Both women were concerned about Kendra’s behaviour, and were trying to comfort her and find out what problem had caused such an emotional reaction in the young girl.
Unable to get any information from Kendra, Buffy asked her mother what had happened downstairs. Joyce told her daughter what she knew, but it wasn’t much. Thinking back on her own life, Buffy realized that there had only ever been one time when she had been afraid of Xander herself. The Light closed her eyes, and sighed. “Kendra, has Xander tried forcing himself on you?”
Kendra cried even harder, but nodded. Joyce and Buffy looked at each other over Kendra’s bowed head. They waited, just being there for her, hoping that she would get herself together so that they could hear exactly what had happened.
When Kendra’s weeping had slowed to a hiccup, Joyce passed her a handkerchief, which she used to blot her face. “He...he always...he tried...” She swallowed. “He tried to...touch me,” she said in a quiet voice. “Told me to give up the innocent act. Said he knew I liked it.” Tears were leaking from the Slayer’s eyes again.
“That’s it. I’m going down there to have a word with him.” Buffy started to get up from the bed, filled with outrage on Kendra’s behalf.
“Buffy, calm down,” Joyce said. “He must have misunderstood something. We’re talking about Xander here.”
“Maybe, but I doubt it. He tried worse with me when the opportunity arose. He’s hiding some pretty dark fantasies.” Buffy gave a weary sigh. “I think I know what the real problem is.”
“Okay, what’s our plan then, Buffy? Do you want to deal with this first, or the business about the Light?” Joyce asked.
“Well, if Kendra doesn’t mind, I’d like to be there when Xander gets his ass kicked. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion though, that both issues are related.” Buffy continued to gently hug Kendra, but she was clearly distracted.
Kendra dried her eyes and blew her nose. “Let’s just deal with the Light business first. I’m not speaking to Xander though, and I don’t want him anywhere near me, either.” She looked at Buffy, and then Joyce. They both nodded in understanding.
“You don’t have to go down there if you don’t want to, Kendra. Buffy and I would both understand why you’re not comfortable around Xander.” Joyce wanted to be sure that Kendra knew she had a choice, and that she had their support.
“I know, and it means a lot to me. Thanks.” Kendra hugged Joyce. “But, I want to be there. I think it’s important for me to hear everything.”
“Are we still keeping to the original plan? You’re going to wait up here for the signal, Buffy?” Joyce asked her daughter, peering at her over Kendra’s head.
“I think I’m going to have to. If I go down there now, nobody will listen to me. They’ll be all over me, either assuming that I’m some kind of demon or doppelganger, or trying to force things back to the way they were.”
“You don’t seem too excited at the thought of things going back to normal.” Joyce narrowed her eyes, as if she was trying to see what Buffy wasn’t saying. “I’d really like to know what they’ve done to you.”
“That’s the problem, Mom. At this point in time, they really haven’t done anything to me. It’s not fair to punish them for something that hasn’t happened yet, and I’m struggling to remember that.”
“Oh, Buffy, you’ve grown into such a beautiful woman, inside and out. You’ll always be my child though, and I will do everything I can to help you and protect you from harm.” Joyce let go of Kendra, and moved to embrace Buffy. After a moment, they opened their arms and brought Kendra into their circle as well.
It wasn’t much later when Joyce and Kendra walked back down the stairs and entered the living room. The women travelled arm-in-arm, and Joyce shot Xander a glare that clearly said ‘stay away’ as they crossed the room. Joyce led Kendra over to where Merrick was standing, sandwiching the Slayer between the two protective adults. Everyone in the room noticed how Kendra kept her eyes on the ground, but nobody was brave enough to say anything about it.
After a glance around her living room, Joyce turned to Merrick. “Have you started?”
“No. I was waiting for the two of you to return. Why don’t you sit down, and I’ll get started?” Merrick gestured to the couch, where Xander and Cordelia were already sitting. “I think there’s enough room for both of you over there.”
Feeling Kendra start to tremble with anxiety, Joyce quickly responded, “No, thank you. We’d prefer to stay here.”
“Certainly, if that is your wish.” Merrick had picked up on Kendra’s strange behaviour.
Addressing the group gathered in the living room, “You all know who I am?” Merrick looked around to see everyone nod. “I work for the Powers That Be. They requested that I find the Light in the future, and bring it here, a job which I have now completed.”
“We already know the Light is here. We came to get new information, not just waste time listening to stuff we’ve already heard.” Xander sat with his arms across the back of the couch, effectively blocking the last empty seats in the room.
Merrick glared at Xander for a moment, before turning his gaze to Giles, who looked embarrassed. “As I was saying, I have brought the Light to this time and place.”
“Well, where is it, Merrick? It sounds like the prophecy says we have to use the Light as a tool. I’d like to know who or what we’re fighting with it.” Angel stood up from where he had been leaning against the wall.
“If I might be allowed to finish...” Merrick’s expression made it clear that he didn’t appreciate being interrupted. “The Light is here, in this time, but before you learn where, there is something else I need to tell you. The Light is not just a weapon, she is a Warrior...if she chooses to be...”
“She?” Merrick was interrupted again. “The Light is a girl?” Willow asked happily.
“I don’t know if girl is the correct term, but yes, the Light is female,” Merrick confirmed. “The Light is not required to fight. As a reward for coming back to this time and trying to fulfill the prophecy, the Light has been given the right to do as she pleases.” He sighed. “All of you have had a hurtful impact on the Light in the past.”
Willow’s smile began to fade. Angel was frowning. Xander didn’t seem to care about the information at all.
“It’s important that you realize that she’s no longer the person you once knew.” Merrick paused. “After the Light had been here for a few days, her body began to deteriorate and needed to be returned to its own time. The only way for the Eternal Light to remain was for her soul to be transferred into another body that belonged here. Fortunately, we were able to locate her past body in this time line, and the Light was able to inhabit it because the soul that belonged in the body had already passed on. You see, an enemy from the Light’s future had arranged to travel to the past in an attempt to eliminate her before she could cause him trouble.” Merrick waited for an eruption that didn’t come. A quick look at the group, and Merrick realized they were all staring, open-mouthed, at the stairs.
Like a ghost, Buffy slowly advanced down the stairs. “Hey guys.” She waved at the group, a small smile on her lips.
At first there was complete silence, but then Willow and Xander moved as one, rushing to Buffy and hugging her. Neither noticed that she didn’t move to hug them back, simply standing there, accepting their greetings.
Angel straightened to his full height, but didn’t move from his position near the wall. Oz welcomed Buffy home with a wave. Cordelia briefly looked up from her fashion magazine, gave the Light a nod, and then went back to her reading.
“How did this happen? When did you get out of the hospital?” Willow and Xander kept asking, again and again.
Buffy discretely freed herself from their grasping hands. “I left the hospital three days ago, in this body.” She stepped away from her childhood friends.
“Huh?” Xander responded, very intelligently, before shaking his head. “It doesn’t really matter how it happened. Now we’ve got two slayers on the job.”
Willow pulled on Buffy’s arm to get her attention. “Oh, oh! Before you go out to patrol tonight, we should totally hit the Bronze to celebrate your return.”
“Yeah. Let’s go.” Xander threw his arms around Buffy and Willow.
Nothing has changed. They still think that I’m here to save them, and they’re already trying to take charge of my life. I can’t deal with this right now. Later...I’ll be able to take care of this later...when I’m stronger. Right now I need to deal with more important things, like the changelings, and then, hopefully, Spike. That last thought was enough to strengthen Buffy’s resolve. She twisted out from under Xander’s arm. “No.”
“No? Oh, I get it. You’re just getting back into the swing of slaying. You’re probably too worn out to party. We understand.” Xander nodded. “Maybe sometime next week? Willow and I can save a seat at our usual table for you, until you feel up to joining us.”
“Sure! Next week will be great.” Willow was one big smile.
Buffy shook her head. “Stop making plans for me. Just sit down and listen.”
“Oh, right. I forgot we were right in the middle of a Scooby meeting. Sorry guys,” she said in apology to the rest of the group assembled in the room.
“Yeah, sorry guys. We were just surprised to see Buffy.” Xander returned to his seat on the couch, placing himself as far away from Cordelia as possible. “Come on and have a seat, Buffy. There’s room here, with me.” He gave the seat cushion beside him a pat.
“No thanks, Xander. I’d rather just stand over here.” Buffy looked at the others in the room. Angel was staring at her oddly, and Giles was polishing his glasses, yet again. “Giles, stop with the polishing. Your glasses are fine.” Then she looked at Willow, once again on Oz’s lap, and Xander. “I don’t remember you guys being this dense.”
“Hey,” Willow whined. “Not nice.”
“Yeah. What’s the matter with you? Being in a coma hasn’t done you any favours. Did all those blows to the head make you forget who your friends are? You should be a little more grateful that we stuck around, even when you were out of it.” Xander sent Willow a look of self-righteous solidarity.
“Merrick.” Buffy’s voice was shrill. “Help me out here, please.”
The Watcher turned to his charge. “I understand why you were reluctant to see them. They’re very...oh, what’s the word? Ah, yes...controlling. They’re very controlling.” Both Xander and Willow started to protest. “I’m not listening to a word you’re saying,” Merrick told them. “When you’re finished babbling, I’ll continue.”
“Giles, why are we still here, listening to this crap?” Xander had given up on Merrick, and was now addressing a more familiar authority figure.
At the same time, Willow was looking uncertainly around the room. “We’re not controlling, are we? I’m not trying to be controlling, I just want to be a good friend,” she whined.
Cordelia was the only one to respond to the redhead. “You guys are definitely controlling,” she said. “Whiney too.”
At that, Willow began to cry.
“Look at what you’ve done now, Cordy.” Xander quickly went to comfort Willow, though she was already perched on Oz’s lap. Oz, rather oddly, appeared deep in thought, and was ignoring his girlfriend.
Giles sighed and replaced his glasses. “Everyone just sit down and be quiet. Merrick has made his point and I would be hard pressed to dispute it right now.”
Xander sent Giles a glance that clearly said he felt betrayed, but he returned to his seat. It took a bit longer for Willow to calm down.
Oz wasn’t the only one who had used the interruption to think about relationship issues. Cordelia did too. Buffy could see it, but she wasn’t going to get in the middle of that mess.
“Now that we’re all seated again, I need to make one thing perfectly clear.” Merrick looked from Xander to Willow. “Buffy is the Eternal Light. She is not the Slayer. Kendra is the Slayer.”
“No...no...that’s not right. Once a Slayer, always a Slayer. Right, Giles?” Xander looked pleadingly at the Watcher.
“Not in this case, Xander.” Giles shrugged.
Willow turned an awestruck gaze on Buffy. “Are you really the Light?”
“Can you tell me about the future? About whether I become a powerful witch?” Willow was once again excited, her tears from earlier forgotten.
Everyone was listening to Willow, curious to hear Buffy’s answer. The blonde hesitated for a moment, before replying, “Maybe some other time and, even then, I’m only going to share things I think you need to know.”
“Why won’t you tell us everything?” Xander demanded. “I have the right to know about my future.”
“Do you really want to know everything about your own future? All about the good and the bad?” The Light wasn’t responding well to pressure from her friends.
“Of course. I want to hear it all,” Xander blustered.
“Do you want everyone else to hear too? Hey, I have an idea. Why don’t we make a game out of it? I’ll tell you the future, and you guys can count how many times each of you have betrayed me,” Buffy said, the venom unmistakable in her voice.
“Hey, ease off. I haven’t done anything to you,” Xander squawked.
“I’m doing my very best to remember that. Right now I’m trying to not hold your future actions against you. I’m not sure I could do that if I dredged it all up again. I may be the Eternal Light, but I’m also human.”
Xander made a face that told Buffy he had changed his mind. For the moment, at least, getting to know the future didn’t appear to be such a good idea.
“If that’s all for tonight, I’m going to head out and do a quick sweep of a few cemeteries on the way home.” Angel came to stand in front of Buffy. “Welcome back.” He reached a hesitant hand out, as if he wanted to touch her. When she didn’t react at all, he frowned and withdrew. He left immediately, without acknowledging anyone else in the room. Buffy was relieved when he was gone, but she wouldn’t have felt so happy had she known what he was thinking about on his way home.
Angel’s departure stirred others to act, and Giles was the next to talk about going home.
Buffy held up a hand. “Wait a minute, Giles. We’ve got demon business to talk about.”
“I don’t understand. Why did you let Angel leave if you knew there was more information to discuss?” Giles started towards the door. “One moment and I’ll call him back.”
“Sit down, Giles. Angel isn’t needed for what I have to say.” Buffy looked at Kendra. “Remember what we talked about upstairs? I think I know why those things happened to you.”
“Excuse me, but what has happened to Kendra? I’m her Watcher, and I should be told everything, without fail.” Giles got up, and went to stand in front of the Slayer. “Have you been negligent in your nightly reporting?” Kendra took a step back, a frightened look on her face.
Buffy placed a hand on her former Watcher’s chest, stopping him from stepping closer to Kendra. “Enough, Giles. Go sit down.”
“You have no authority to tell me what to do, Buffy. As you have said yourself, you are no longer a Slayer. Kendra is a Slayer, and I am her Watcher. This is none of your business.” Giles again turned to Kendra.
“Wrong again, Giles. This is definitely the business of the Eternal Light.”
“How can it be your business when it involves my Slayer?” The Watcher felt that Buffy was trying to undermine his authority, and was becoming irate.
“Try to remember the prophecy, Giles.” She raised a brow and tilted her head towards a chair. “Go sit down, now!”
Giles ripped off his glasses, but did as Buffy asked, likely out of sheer surprise. He had never heard that commanding tone in her voice before, and the look in her eyes confused him. There was something familiar about the pose she had taken, but he couldn’t seem to place it. It scared him though. In that moment, he doubted he would ever again have any influence over Buffy.
Buffy sighed heavily. “Kendra has had some regrettable experiences with Xander, and I think I know why.”
“Regrettable experiences? What the heck is that supposed to mean?” Xander leaned forward.
Buffy grimaced, and rubbed her hands on her jeans, as if wiping them clean. “I’m guessing you don’t want everyone else to know what you’ve been up to, right, Xander?”
“I want to know what you’re talking about. You’re obviously accusing me of something, but I have no idea what.” Xander shot a malicious glare at Kendra. “What kind of crap have you been telling her?”
Giles gave a tired sigh. “Come now, Buffy. Even criminals know what crimes they are accused of. Clearly, Xander has no idea what you’re talking about. Just tell him and then we can clear up this misunderstanding.”
Buffy looked at Kendra. “Do you want to tell them?”
Kendra refused to raise her head, simply shaking it and gesturing for Buffy to continue.
Buffy cleared her throat. “Fine. I’ll say it then.” She put her hands in her pockets, as if trying to stop herself from reaching out to give Xander a smack. “Xander has been making advances towards Kendra.”
“What’s wrong with Xander liking Kendra?” Willow was sitting stiffly on Oz’s lap.
“Kendra made it clear that she didn’t welcome his advances. She asked him to stop, to leave her alone, and he told her to quit playing innocent and give it up.” Buffy was angry, and it showed.
Everyone looked at Xander in shock.
Willow leapt to her feet. “That’s not true. Xander would never do that.” Everyone else stayed still and silent.
For the first time, Kendra responded directly. “So, you’re saying I’m a liar?” She glared at Willow, though everyone could see the hurt in her eyes.
“No...no, I...,” Willow stuttered.
Xander hadn’t commented, and was instead staring at his hands, which were twisting in his lap.
Buffy decided it was time to take control of the conversation again. “As I was saying, I know what is causing this behaviour. The Changelings are here, and they are increasing their power by working their magic on humans.”
This was an area of interest to Giles. “Buffy, what exactly are the Changelings, and what is it that they do? More importantly, what do they have to do with Xander?”
“Patience, Giles.” Buffy smiled at that. Normally it was the other way around, with the Watcher asking Buffy to have patience. “The Changelings are invisible beings that feast on souls, slowly eating them and making the souled being weak, so they can’t resist their darker desires. I think that’s what’s happening to Xander. His inhibitions are on holiday, and his common sense is sleeping.”
Everyone was staring at the Light, mouths hanging open in shock.
“What? Why are you all staring at me like that?” Buffy lifted her arms, palms up, and shrugged. “Seriously, guys. What’s up?”
Willow gave an uncertain smile. “You sound just like Giles.”
Buffy gave Willow a wry smile and shrugged. “Giles, would you please take Xander home with you?” Giles nodded his acceptance. “Just for tonight. Kendra, we have to fulfill the prophecy about the Changelings and kick them out of our dimension.”
“Wait a minute. You’re saying I’m possessed?” Xander asked. “I’m not! I’d know if I was possessed and I can guarantee you that there are no little invisible guys in me.”
“Oh, so you’re saying that it’s perfectly normal for you to molest young girls?” Buffy looked at Xander curiously.
Xander looked away in embarrassment.
Buffy went to her weapons chest, where she pulled out a long, bone-handled knife. “Mom, do you have any white candles?”
“I think so. How many do you need, Honey?” Joyce went to a drawer in the china cabinet.
“Just four. Oh, and matches or a lighter, please.”
“What are you doing, Buffy?” Giles inquired.
“My job, Giles. Kendra and I need to perform a ritual together. After that, the Changelings shouldn’t be any trouble.” She accepted the candles from her mother.
“If you are planning to rid us of the Changelings tonight, then why must I keep Xander in my apartment until tomorrow?” The Watcher was not looking forward to having a houseguest for the evening.
“The ritual will evict all the Changelings from this dimension, but those that have already attached themselves to humans will take a bit longer to draw out.” Buffy went to the kitchen and took some spice jars out of a cupboard. “Mom, where are the matches?” Joyce handed her a fresh book from a cupboard over the stove. “I need a bowl too. One that I can use and then throw out.”
Giles had followed Buffy and Joyce into the kitchen, and was watching Buffy’s preparations. “Do you know what to do?” he asked her.
“Yes. I had the book for years, before it was destroyed in a fire.” The Light gathered all the items she had collected, and placed them in the bowl. “Kendra, let’s get started. We’ll set up the spell in the basement. We shouldn’t be interrupted there.”
In the basement, Buffy made a circle with salt, large enough for Kendra and her to sit in. She ignored Giles, who had followed the women down the stairs.
Buffy sat on her knees in the circle, with Kendra sitting opposite. Giving two of the four candles to the Slayer, Buffy mixed the spices in the bowl.
When she was ready, Buffy told Kendra to light the candles and place them on either side of the bowl, in the circle.
Once the two women were settled in the circle, Buffy held Kendra’s wrist over the bowl. Chanting steadily under her breath, she used the knife to cut both Kendra’s wrist and her own. Letting their wounds bleed into the bowl, Buffy continued the chanting until the circle was enveloped in a flash of light.
Allowing Kendra to withdraw her arm, Buffy quickly grabbed a cloth and passed it to the Slayer so she could tend to her wound. Then the Light grabbed a cloth for herself, and held it against her own damaged limb. “It’s done. Do you know what time it is, Giles?”
A quick look at his time piece, and the Watcher responded, “By my watch, a quarter to eleven.”
“Right then. Allowing for stragglers, this dimension should be free of the Changelings by eight tomorrow morning, at the latest. Now, who wants to help me clean up this mess?” the Light teased.
If you are under the age of 17, please use your head and do not read fics that are labeled "NC-17". Parents, I cannot control what your children are reading, so please be advised that the majority of the fics archived here are NOT suitable for those under the age of 17.
I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I am in no way making any profit from this site. This is for pure entertainment purposes only.
Concept: (c)bringonthebloodshed.com (2004), Code & Design: (c)Diabola (2006), Graphics: Selene & Always