Never Going Back Again

by Mediancat


Prologue

March 17, 2011, Sunnydale, California

Willow looked around in horror, stake at the ready. Three vampires still surrounded her, including their wounded leader, and she was the only one standing.

Siobhan had hit town about two months previously. She was as brutal as any vampire, and far more direct. Her first action was to burn Willow’s house down; her second was to attempt to destroy the library. They had no idea who’d stopped them, then. The attacks had been vicious and unrelenting, exhausting an already frazzled Slaying crew.

Finally, Siobhan had given up on any attempts at subtlety and just sent every vampire she could find after the crew at once, a total of well over thirty. By skill, they’d managed to reduce the numbers to the three standing ahead of them, but at a terrible cost.

Cale Benjamin lay on the ground, unmoving, next to the groaning figure of his girlfriend, Emily Harding, the Slayer. And Willow was about to drop from exhaustion, while the vampires looked as fresh as ever. Siobhan hadn’t gotten where she was by intervening personally in her battles until she was sure of victory.

And now she was sure, all right, and Willow could hardly blame her. The vampiress stepped forward to do a little gloating. Had Siobhan been human, she would have been beautiful, with her long red hair, freckles, and pale green eyes. She told her two remaining underlings to stop.

But not to gloat. She wanted to handle this herself. Willow took a deep breath and held the stake at the ready.

Suddenly the smaller vampire behind Siobhan exploded into a cloud of ash, and the other one went down with an oddly twisted neck. A pale blonde woman stood there, grinning coldly. Regan! But how —

Siobhan spun around furiously. “Hello, Ms. Rosenberg,” the newcomer said. “Can’t you all get along without me for … six months …” Regan’s eyes caught sight of her two friends lying on the ground and all humor left her expression as she moved towards Siobhan.

The vampiress took a look at Regan Leary and knew that she was the greater threat. As they began fighting, Willow took a quick look at Cale and Emily. The Slayer’s back was broken, though somehow she was still conscious; that was the only consolation Willow got …

… as there was nothing that could be done for Cale. In a sick twist of irony, his neck was broken. Willow looked up at the fight.

After taking out a Slayer and a Watcher, Siobhan must have thought one thin human would have been no problem. But Willow knew that look in Regan’s eyes as anger, and when Regan got angry Willow would have backed her against an army of vampires.

Silently Regan took blows that should have knocked her down, and didn’t flinch. She advanced on Siobhan with murder in her eyes, and for a second Willow saw fear in the flashing green eyes.

From the ground, Emily called out weakly, “Reeg?” and for a second Regan was distracted.

It was all the opening Siobhan needed. She knocked Regan to the ground and said, “Damn you, bitch. I had the game won and you had to interfere. I owe you.”

“Any time you feel like collecting,” Regan said, “feel free to find me.” She looked at the bodies of her two friends and she hissed at the vampire, “I owe you a lot more.” Siobhan said nothing as she vanished.

Regan went over to the vampire whose neck she’d broken and systematically, methodically, worked it over, staking a leg, then kicking the head, in a vain attempt at revenge. Pulling out a phone, Willow instantly paged the Sunnydale Emergency Medical team and knelt down by Emily’s side. Cale was dead, and Emily’s career as the Slayer was over.

Willow couldn’t cry yet; she was too numb. But Willow Rosenberg had failed as a Watcher.

But then, by those standards, so did they all.

It took Sunnydale’s EMS ten minutes to get to the outskirts of the school.

It took Regan twenty-four hours to kill the vampire.


April 3, 2014, New Glenbury, PA

Willow eventually took a position at New Glenbury College, teaching computer courses. She wanted to be near Cordelia and Xander; since Willow’s retirement from active Watching, she’d clung to them almost fanatically.

Her prize student was one Emily Harding, former Slayer. At first it seemed as though Willow’s worst fears had been realized; Emily had become a paraplegic. But an experimental surgical procedure, involving the implantation of a computer chip into her spine, had enabled her to walk again. Not to the point where she could do any Slayer-like activity — she couldn’t feel her legs, really, just use them for basic functions. Still, Emily was hardly complaining. She occasionally helped Willow do research.

See, you never really retired from being a Watcher, you just stopped being in charge of a Slayer. Watchers researched the supernatural in their own ways, some through books, some through computers, some through shanks’ mare. Willow’s preference was obviously by computer.

So one day she and Emily were cruising the internet and discovered a new document, recently downloaded/ scanned by a Watcher in England.

It was of compelling interest to Willow because it mentioned the Companions, which had only been seen once before: In the prophecy that forecast the defeat of the master vampire Elsza, six years previously. The Companions had been Xander and Cordelia, so any other reference obviously caught Willow’s and Emily’s attentions immediately.

Once she read it she read it again, hoping against hope that it could be interpreted some other way. But there was no other way that Willow could see:

“… and the Companions’ child, the Double Slayer, will be the greatest of all, and will need to be, for she will be tested severely, by enemies old and enemies new. And the Watchers, and the Slayers, and the companions, must strive against the joining of the blood and the scarlet.

“And unless the invisible becomes visible, all will die, and the blood and the red will prevail, and the day of Dark Judgment will come. But should the unseen be seen, then the Slayer alone shall perish.”

Oh, no … Xander and Cordelia were the companions … and they had a daughter, now a beautiful five-year old girl. The double Slayer … was Buffy Summers Harris.

And Willow didn’t know if she could watch another Buffy die.


October 1, 2020, New Glenbury, PA

Xander Harris staggered into his house, bleeding from half a dozen places. His daughter ran up to him and said, “Dad? Dad? Are you okay?”

“Go get Mom and then go to your room,” Xander told Buffy as he collapsed into a chair. At his daughter’s wounded look, he gently explained, “You haven’t done anything wrong, Buffster; it’s just that your mother and I need to have a talk. About something really, really important.” His voice trailed off towards the end. “I’ll be okay, don’t worry. These are just scratches.” Concern still in her eyes, eleven-year-old Buffy Harris ran off to the kitchen, where her mother was telling the cook what to prepare for dinner.

A minute later both women came rushing out and, slowly, Buffy walked upstairs, looking back every ten seconds or so. Then and only then did Cordelia Harris turn to her husband and say, “What is it? What happened?”

“The worst of all possible worlds, Cordy; I was attacked by a vampire.”

Cordelia put her hands over her ears and said, “No! I don’t want to hear this!”

“I didn’t want to see it, Cordy, but there the fangface was, plain as daylight.” Xander paused. “I guess we should have noticed. There’s been a pattern of odd, mysterious deaths recently, and we’ve been as blind to it as everyone else was back in Sunnydale.”

“How’d you get away?”

“Pure, dumb luck. A delivery truck blinded him and let me sock him, roll clear and get to the car.”

She sank onto the couch and swore. “So what now? We have to start carrying crosses, stakes, holy water? Again?”

“Again.” Xander grumbled. “But first we need to tell Willow.”

Cordelia started. “Oh! Right. And Emily, too, I guess. But …” She seemed unusually pensive.

“What is it?” Xander asked his wife tenderly.

“What do we tell Buffy?”


January 11, 2021, New Glenbury, PA

It taken them months, but ultimately, they decided they had to tell Buffy the truth. There’d been two more vampire attacks that they knew about over the intervening time, so Willow and Emily ultimately prodded Xander and Cordelia into the big talk.

“One good thing,” Willow said. “After this, telling her about sex should be a piece of cake!”

Xander didn’t laugh.

So Willow, Xander, Cordelia and Emily sat Buffy down and talked. They gave them the history of her namesake. They talked about Angel, and Buffy Summers, and Rupert Giles (who had just died the previous August); of Spike, Drusilla, the Master, and Kendra. Of Elsza, and Cale Benjamin, and Regan Leary; of all the evils Emily faced, up to Siobhan.

After half an hour, Buffy Harris was sure her parents and her ‘aunts’ were bullshitting her.

After an hour, that was her desperate hope.

And finally, when they were done, the only thing she could ask was a semi-inane question that had popped into her hand: “What ever happened to Spike and Drusilla?”

“Well, they left town shortly after Buffy died the second time,” Xander told his daughter. “We never found out why. We think Angel threw them out of Sunnydale because they didn’t fit his plan.”

Willow continued, “Spike’s still out there somewhere; Kendra killed Drusilla 22 years ago. That’s when Spike killed her, but we haven’t heard from him since.”

“No kids, here? Vampires are real? Werewolves? This isn’t some big stupid joke?”

“No, Buffy,” Cordelia said. “And … well, Willow?”

Willow took a deep breath and said, “You have a destiny yourself, Buffy. You’re also supposed to be a Slayer …”


June 29, 2025, New Glenbury, PA

Buffy Summers Harris recognized them for what they were right away. Vampires. “Could we make this fast?” she asked.

The vampires, unaccustomed to blasť victims, blinked in surprise. Buffy took advantage of this to kick one in the chest and turn to run. A tall figure appeared suddenly behind one of the vampires and thrust a stake through its back.

“Your parents must’ve been negligent,” the figure said hollowly. “Here. Use this.” She was handed a stake. “You know what to do.”

“Damn right.” She turned and groin-kicked a male vamp, then staked it. She sensed another one coming from behind her, flipped it over her back, and did the same.

The fourth was lying on the ground, unmoving. She looked quizzically at the figure, who said, “Well? Put the damn thing out of its misery.” Buffy did so, then turned.

“I’m the Slayer?” Buffy asked.

The tall figure said, in a harsh voice, “You could say … it’s in your blood.”

“Well, that’d make you my Watcher. So what do I call you?”

The figure moved under the streetlight. She was pale and blonde. She said, grinning, “Call me … Leary.”
 

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