Watchers Council – Library Seating Area – Same Time
Willow was bent over, studying the pale blue flesh on Kadin’s stomach. Faith, Kennedy, Buffy, Xander and Robin were standing nearby, watching in complete silence.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” Willow said with a sigh. She pulled back from her close examination of the skin on the hunter’s stomach. “At least, not on a human.”
“Demonic?” Faith asked. “You sayin’ this is some kinda demon-y mojo?”
Willow looked over at the slayer and then back down at the blue flesh of Kadin’s stomach. “I gotta admit, I’m stumped, guys.”
“Looks like a bad case of Smurficitis,” Buffy said with a shrug.
“Smurficitis? Thanks,” Kadin sighed dramatically. “That’s comforting.”
Faith stifled a chuckle at Buffy’s comment, then called out to the hunter with a smile. “Hey, don’t worry there, Quick. Red’s got the hookup on this magic business. If anybody can fix you up, it’s her.”
Kadin turned to Kennedy with a slightly raised brow. “Quick?”
Kennedy smiled, shaking her head. “Consider it a compliment. You know Faith really likes you when she bestows one of her complex nicknames upon you.”
“Actually,” Faith interjected, “I was just thinking that she’s pretty good with that crossbow of hers and she’s usually the first to shoot off at the mouth.” She looked over to see Kadin scowling back at her. She just smiled. “Plus, it rhymes with Slick, which is pretty funny right there.”
“Quick and Slick,” Xander said, trying out the rhyme. “Slick and Quick.” He seemed to be thinking about the sound of the words together when a sudden look passed over his face, and he slinked back a step.
Faith grinned over at him, shaking her head.
“Could we please focus here?” Kennedy asked, trying to pull the meeting back to the matter at hand. “Girlfriend? Strange blue skin? Possibly demon related? Translation: very bad thing.”
Kadin suddenly felt uncomfortable with everyone’s eyes trained on her. She pulled her jacket back down over her stomach as she awkwardly stood between Kennedy and Willow.
“I think we all just need to relax for a second here,” Buffy said. “I think the most important thing at the moment is to figure out what happened, why it happened and how we can stop it from…spreading. For all we know she could be contagious.”
Everyone paused, and those around Kadin, with the exception of Kennedy, took three steps away.
“Would you be offended if I washed my hands real quick?” Willow asked Kadin.
“Go for it,” Kadin told her.
“There’s one way to find out…” Robin offered, making Willow stop. They all looked at him, and he added, “…research.”
“Right. Research first,” Buffy nodded. “After that…I don’t know, but we’ll figure it out.”
Willow looked over to see the worried look on Kennedy’s face as she stood behind her girlfriend. “We always do,” she told the slayer softly.
Kennedy’s eyes drifted up to meet hers, and the slayer returned the gentle smile.
“Okay then,” Buffy said with a sigh as she placed her hands against the table. “We research.”
“I’ll get Ro,” Willow told them. “I think we need all the watcher gray cells we can get on this one.”
“Sure you want to do that?” Kadin interjected. “I tried to kill the woman, remember? Not sure how helpful she’ll be.”
Robin looked to the others for further elaboration on the comment, as if he was hearing this news for the first time.
“Well,” Willow said evasively, “you didn’t kill her so…hey, good news, right?” Her eyes darted nervously to Robin before returning to Kadin. “Really, I’m sure she’ll help.” Willow made her way toward the door and then stopped. “But first…” She held up her hands to show everyone before slipping out.
The others began to break off into groups and head for the stacks on the far side of the large room.
Kennedy placed her hand on Kadin’s shoulder. “We’ll find the answers,” she promised. “Just sit down, relax and we’ll get to work.”
Kadin just nodded, and Kennedy stepped from behind her to make her way toward the back row of books.
Kadin let out a heavy sigh and ran her hand over her face, then fell into the nearest chair.
Cleveland Side Street – Same Time
The back passenger door of the yellow cab swung open. A shapely leg stepped out, soon followed closely by the other.
The lady dressed in white shirt and red skirt emerged from the cab and ran a hand down the back of her skirt to straighten out the wrinkles. It seemed a useless gesture, considering the amount of blood now staining the garment. She cast a quick glance around before swinging the door shut behind her.
She casually walked around to the back of the cab and placed the fingers of one hand under the edge of the lid of the trunk. With one quick and effortless pull, she snapped the lock, and the trunk sprang open.
The woman reached in to retrieve her suitcase before walking around to the opposite side of the car. She popped the suitcase open and slipped on a long coat, covering her blood-stained clothes. She paused only a moment to check her reflection in the side mirror. She dabbed a few drops of blood from her face with a tissue, reapplied her lipstick, then placed a pair of dark black shades over her eyes.
The woman smiled to herself as she casually walked away from the cab toward the busy street.
A tiny trickle of blood began to seep out from beneath the back passenger door. It soon turned into a steady stream.
Watchers Council – Library Seating Area – Later that Morning
Suddenly, Kadin’s body violently jerked forward in her chair. Her fingers gripped the edge of the table in front of her as she struggled to regain control. Her knuckles were almost a solid white.
“Umm…guys?” she barely managed to force out between gritted teeth.
She grimaced and reached for her stomach. Then her eyes squinted shut from the shooting pain. She then gripped the table again as another jolt of agony ripped through her.
Watchers Council – Library Stacks – Same Time
“I think I’ve got something!” Willow called out from her spot buried among the books. Rowena put down the book she was holding and walked over. “It’s something about an old Dutch She-Demon of Chaos called, um, Baaierdra. Blah, blah, blah…” Willow’s eyes scanned the page until she found what she was looking for. “Here. It’s something about the local folklore. A ‘great power of legacy’.”
Buffy waded her way through the scattered books to walk up behind her friend. She peered down over the witch’s shoulder at the book. “You think it’s talking about Kadin?”
Willow’s eyes skimmed further down the page. After a moment, she looked up at Buffy. “A power of unstoppable force and responsibility…a power that will release her wrath onto the world…”
Buffy’s eyebrows slowly raised to her hairline.
Watchers Council – Library Seating Area – Same Time
Kadin’s arms were beginning to shake with the effort of holding on to the table. She blinked her eyes rapidly.
“K…Kennedy?” she called out hoarsely, barely able to get any words out.
Watchers Council – Library Stacks – Same Time
“I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say this is a bad thing.” Buffy casually folded her arms across her chest.
Willow didn’t respond with words. She just looked back up at her.
Buffy let out a sigh and her shoulders slumped.
“Let me see, Will,” Rowena said, stepping closer.
Watchers Council – Library Seating Area – Same Time
Kadin’s whole body was beginning to take on the same pale blue tone of the skin on her stomach. When the wood of the table started to crack beneath her grip, she suddenly sprang to her feet.
Watchers Council – Library Stacks – Same Time
The whole group was now huddled around Willow as she sat cross-legged on the floor with the book spread open on her lap.
“Is that her?” Rowena asked, peering over her lover’s shoulder at the book. She took in the image of the young woman with deep-colored lips and fair-shaded skin. “She’s beautiful.”
“The evilest ones usually are,” Kennedy said in answer.
Willow’s eyes scanned down the page, then they suddenly widened. “Oh.”
“Oh?” Buffy repeated. “Why ‘oh?’ Was that a good ‘oh’ or a bad ‘oh’?” She turned to Rowena.
“Don’t ask me,” Rowena replied defensively. “Dutch was the one language I never thought I’d need to learn.” Buffy and Kennedy both looked at her with a bit of disbelief. “Fine, I tried to learn it and I failed,” she confessed. “Happy?”
“No, I’m not happy,” Kennedy replied. “I need you to read it.”
“I couldn’t learn it in two semesters at the Council, Ken. How am I gonna learn it in the next…” Rowena paused and looked at her watch. “…half hour?”
Willow continued to read on as the others waited patiently around her.
“Well, what does it say, Will?” Kennedy finally prompted, having grown impatient.
Willow slowly pulled her eyes away from the book to look up at the slayer. “According to this,” she started to explain gently, “the power was also instilled into a family. They’ve possessed it almost as long as the demon itself. It’s believed that they…were both forged from the same source, or split from the same source. Again… I’m not a Dutch expert, either.”
“And that source would be…?” Buffy asked.
Willow let out a sigh and ran a hand back through her hair. “Like I said, I’m a little fuzzy on the details. This text was written in a very specific form of Dutch, but from what I can understand…”
“Spit it out, Red,” Faith spoke up from her place behind Kennedy.
Willow hesitated before beginning to read off the next passage in the book. “‘When the line separating Heaven and Hell blurs, the bringer of chaos will be released upon the earth, and all those who stand in her way will perish before her‘.”
A silence fell over the group as the words hung in the air around them.
“Please tell me that’s the bad news?” Xander finally ended the silence. “Tell me that this is one of those times where you get the bad news and then the good news instead of the bad news and then the really bad news because if that was just the bad news…”
Willow dropped her eyes back to the book and didn’t respond.
Kennedy let out a long sigh and ran her hand down her face. “So, if this demon is such a big baddie, how come we haven’t heard anything about her? I mean, the patrols have just been the regular run-of-the-mill vamps.”
“It has been pretty tame lately,” Faith added with a nod.
Xander looked from Kennedy to Faith. “Maybe evil’s just been taking some time off. It could be like an unwritten code. Some sorta secret demon holiday where they go underground to have mad parties with lotsa crazy dancing and those little drinks with the umbrellas in ’em.”
Everyone looked at over at him.
“What?” he asked.
Kennedy reached over and lightly smacked him on the back of the head.
“Thank you,” Faith told Kennedy. “You beat me to it.”
Watchers Council – Library Seating Area – Same Time
Kadin released the table and fell to her knees.
She clutched her chest with one hand and doubled over at the waist. Her face was nearly touching the carpet as her body began to shake with a deep, hacking cough.
A dark-red liquid lined the inside of her mouth as the coughing grew in intensity.
With one severe heave, the blood shot out from her mouth and splattered onto the carpet in front of her. She stared at the dark-red stain as her eyes began to glow.
Watchers Council – Library Stacks – Same Time
“Well, I think there’s only one solution,” Faith said, cracking the knuckles of her right hand. “I say we find this big bad she-demon and kick her chaotic ass all the way back to Hell.”
Willow looked up from the book. “That’s easier said than done.”
“We’ve faced worse,” Buffy pointed out.
“Right, and we can’t just let this demon run around spreading joy and chaos,” Faith added. “‘Sides, if we don’t stop her, then who will?”
“Well, there’s a bit more here…I could really use Dawn or Giles for a proper translation, but it seems—”
Willow didn’t have a chance to finish. A loud, heart-wrenching scream suddenly interrupted the conversation, and everyone whipped around to look towards the front of the library.
“Kadin,” Kennedy whispered under her breath before pushing past Xander to take off in a sprint.
Faith and Buffy shared a look, just for a second, and then the rest of the group quickly followed after Kennedy.
Watchers Council – Library Seating Area – Moments Later
Kennedy came to a skidding halt next to the slumped form of her lover. Her eyes darted from the deep red bloodstain to the motionless body of the hunter.
“Kadin?” she called out carefully, taking a step closer.
The hunter’s body shivered at the sound of her voice. Her arms were folded in under her chest as she knelt, doubled over, at the slayer’s feet.
“Baby?” Kennedy called out to her again. Just as she reached down to place her hand on her lover’s back, Kadin suddenly jerked upright and their eyes met. Kennedy recoiled in shock and surprise at what she saw.
The skin on Kadin’s face had taken on the pale blue hue of her stomach. Her eyes were clouded by a white haze, and her hair hung around her face in sweaty strands.
“What’s happening to you?” Kennedy whispered to herself. Kadin kept her eyes locked on her, despite the violent shudders overtaking her body.
The slayer fell to her knees next to Kadin. She looked into her eyes helplessly as she reached out to place a gentle hand on her shaking back.
Neither of them seemed to notice that the others had finally caught up to them. Buffy finally cleared her throat and looked over at Willow.
“Call Dr. Miller,” she told her. “Tell him what we’ve got and that Kadin’s on the way down. We need him ready.” Willow nodded and darted over to a nearby phone. “Xander, Robin,” she continued. “Get any slayers or people in the infirmary moved out now. Put them in the hallway or to the empty slayer dorms. She may be contagious, so we don’t want this spreading to the sick or injured.”
Xander and Robin both nodded and instantly dispersed.
“Can she stand?” Rowena asked.
“I don’t think so,” Kennedy sighed, shaking her head. She wrapped her arms around the shivering woman and pulled them both to their feet.
“I’ll get the door,” Faith said. She raced ahead of them and kept it open.
Kennedy cast a quick glance over her shoulder at the other women before turning back to Kadin and tightening her arms around her waist.
“It’s okay,” she whispered. “I got you.”
Buffy, Faith, Rowena and Willow watched silently as Kennedy slowly led Kadin from the room. As soon as the two women were out of sight, Faith turned to the blonde slayer and slapped her on the arm.
“Oww!” Buffy whined and reached up to rub at the spot. “What’d you do that for?”
“Nice goin’, B,” Faith chastised. “Bet you feel like a dumb ass for crackin’ jokes about cartoon characters.”
“Hey!” Buffy protested. “You’re the one who almost laughed. I didn’t know what else to call it…”
The two slayers started to argue back and forth, talking over each other, as they made their way toward the door. Willow reached down and grabbed the book she was reading from, tucking it under her arm. Then she calmly walked around the bickering slayers toward the exit, Rowena following just behind her.
“Oh yeah?” she heard Buffy shoot back at Faith. “Well…you have really big feet!”
The witch shook her head and walked out.
Cleveland Graveyard – Moments Later
The mausoleum door imploded, sending shards of wood and metal in all directions.
As sunlight poured into the darkened room, the vampires inside struggled to scatter to the dark corners.
One wasn’t fast enough, and the sunlight landed directly on his leg. The cloth of his pants burst into flames, and he flailed violently, trying to extinguish the blaze. The fire spread to his arm, and it wasn’t long before his whole body was engulfed. Moments later, a cloud of dust exploded in the center of the room.
“I almost forgot how much fun that was,” a gentle female voice called out from the doorway. The vampires slunk back into the shadows as they struggled to make out the figure in the blaring sunlight.
The woman sighed and stepped over the threshold to enter the room. She casually glanced around as she walked over to run a finger along the edge of the vault. “Which one of you considers yourself the leader?”
The vampires all took a few steps back as the woman passed by each of them. When none of them spoke up, she finally stopped and turned to face one of them.
“You,” she called out. “What is the name of the place where the real demons gather around here?”
The vampire looked over at his buddies nervously. He swallowed back and smiled. “Uh…t-that would be the…uh…Th-The Dive. It’s a…it’s a bar about three blocks from here over on T-Taylor Street.”
The woman eyed the vampire with pure disgust. “Bars,” she spat distastefully. She turned away from him and dropped her eyes down to the vault. She ran her finely manicured nails along the edge of the lid as she slowly paced around the large cement fixture.
“You allow mortals to conquer you, to make you fear them. It is they who walk in the light while you are forced to cower in the darkness of rank buildings and to carry out your existence in…bars.” The woman shook her head and looked back over at the fearful vampires. “As if you weren’t already pathetic enough.”
The vampires looked around at each other nervously.
“Vampires,” the woman shook her head with a sigh. “The lowest rung on the demon totem pole.” Her hand gripped onto the edge of the vault lid. “You are nothing more than hybrids. Half human, half demon, but one hundred percent pathetic.”
The vampire who spoke before took a slight step towards the woman. “Yeah, b-but we’re strong a-and fast. Those humans are our food, and as soon as night comes, we’re gonna go out and suck ’em dry.” The vampire laughed cruelly, and the rest of the group joined in.
The woman looked on, smiling but clearly unimpressed. “You think you’re strong?” She curled her fingers around the lid of the vault, and in one swift movement she easily lifted it into the air and pitched it across the room.
The heavy cement smacked into the wall behind a crowd of the vampires, sending them diving to the floor as it cracked and burst into pieces above them.
“You think you’re fast?”
In the blink of an eye, the woman was on one of the vampires, her hand around his throat. The sound of breaking bone could be heard as her hand crushed the flesh beneath it. The vampire gurgled in the back of his throat as it began to fill up with blood.
The she-demon leaned in next to his ear to whisper. “You have no idea what real strength is.” She ran the index finger of her free hand along the side of the vampire’s cheek. “Strength. Speed. Power.” Her soft blue eyes raked up and down the vampire’s face. “I am all that and more. I am chaos. I am the bringer of death. I do not discriminate, and I will not stop.” She suddenly slammed the vampire back against the wall. Her hand snaked around his neck and squeezed. As his head rolled across the floor, the sound of him exploding into dust filled the room.
The demon took a step back and let out a cough as she swatted at the air. She cast her eyes over to the rest of the vampires. They all cowered back in fear as they watched her every move.
“Baaierdra. Remember it,” the demon told the vampires. “For it will be the name of your ultimate dissolution.”
She cast one last glance at the scraggly looking vampires. Her lip upturned in revulsion, and she stepped over the pile of dust as she made her way towards the exit. Without another word, the demon disappeared through the door and back out into the sunlight.
“Hey, Tommy?” a blonde vampire leaned over to ask his buddy. “What’s a ‘dissolution’?”
The other vampire leaned closer, but never took his eyes off the door. “It’s what you get when you solve a problem.”
“She’s the demon of problem-solving?” The blonde vampire turned to face him with a completely confused expression. “How is that evil?”
“M-maybe she gives you the wrong answer?” Tommy supplied weakly.
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Minutes Later
Kennedy sat by Kadin’s bedside, clutching one of the hunter’s hands tightly in her own.
A sudden violent shiver shot through Kadin’s body, causing her to nearly jerk right off the bed. Her hand clamped down on the slayer’s, even as her eyes remained closed. She let out a low moan, and her breathing started to increase.
Kennedy watched helplessly as Kadin fought off yet another jolt of pain. “Isn’t there anything you can give her to stop those?” she asked, looking up to the doctor, who was busy scribbling on Kadin’s chart.
“I’m afraid we don’t even know what those are,” Dr. Miller replied, never taking his eyes from the chart. “I’ve run every test I can think of, and they all come back inconclusive.” He finally pulled his eyes away from the paper to look over at Kennedy. “There is no medical explanation for Ms. Van Helsing’s condition.” He reached down and placed a hand on Kadin’s wrist. “At least her fever has broken. That’s a good sign.”
“As opposed to what?” Kennedy asked, slightly irritated. “The fact that she can’t stop shaking, or puking up blood, or the most obvious symptom that she’s literally turning blue?”
Dr. Miller shook his head and placed the chart onto the table by Kadin’s bed. “As I said before, I can’t explain it.” He reached up and pulled the stethoscope from around his neck. He attached the earpieces to his ears and then reached down to place the other end over Kadin’s heart. He listened intently before pulling it away and wrapping it back around his neck.
Kennedy watched impatiently as he picked up the chart and started to scribble some more. “Well?”
Dr. Miller looked up at her over the edge of the clipboard. “Her heart rate is slowing, but I’m afraid it might be slowing a little too fast.” He scribbled one last sentence and then attached the pen to the top of the clipboard. He placed the chart under his arm and then shoved his hand into the pocket of his coat. “I wish I could tell you more at this time,” he said to Kennedy apologetically. “But to be completely honest, I just don’t know.”
Kennedy snorted and turned her eyes back to the hunter. “Thanks, Doc. You’ve been a real help.”
“I’m sorry if it isn’t what you want to hear,” Dr. Miller replied softly.
“No, I’m sorry,” Kennedy told him. “I’m just…frustrated. That’s all.”
“We are doing everything we can to keep her comfortable…”
Before he could finish the sentence, violent shaking again overtook the hunter’s body, sending her into another full body spasm.
Kennedy reached down and placed each of her hands on Kadin’s shoulders until the shaking finally subsided.
Dr. Miller looked from Kennedy to Kadin, then back to Kennedy. “We can try to give her a higher dosage of morphine, but she’s already on two hundred milligrams. That’s twice the amount of the highest dosage that I would normally prescribe for a slayer, let alone a normal human being. I really wouldn’t advise it at this time.”
Kennedy looked back up at the doctor before quickly looking back down at Kadin’s rigid body. “Anything’s gotta be better than this,” she whispered to herself.
“I’ll send the nurse in to check on her a little later,” Dr. Miller said. He averted his eyes and then quickly disappeared from the room. “If her condition worsens, get me. I’m going to keep researching it.”
Kennedy never took her eyes from Kadin as she held her hand tightly within her own. She simply nodded her head.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Same Time
Willow sat on a cushion in the middle of the room, with the same book resting open on the floor in front of her. Her green eyes scanned each page carefully. She stopped periodically to scribble something on the yellow pad next to her.
There were various candles and jars lining the floor around her as she worked diligently to analyze the text.
“Got anything yet?”
Willow looked up to see Buffy standing a few feet away, her hands shoved in the back pockets of her jeans.
“Not yet,” she replied with a sigh. “But the whole Coven’s working on it, and Dawn’s got copies.” She held the book up briefly. “What are you doing here anyway?” She reached over to scribble something on the pad before looking back toward Buffy with a lightly teasing smile. “I was sure you’d be busy with repeatedly slamming Faith’s face into something hard and cement-y for the next few hours.”
“Yeah,” Buffy laughed and pulled her hands out of her pockets to cross her arms over her chest. “Well, I’d only worry if we weren’t constantly nagging each other.”
The two friends shared a laugh, but it didn’t last long. Willow nervously drummed her pen against the side of her hand as she looked up at the slayer.
“I’m worried, Buffy…What if I can’t help her? What if I can’t…save her?” Willow looked at her friend anxiously. “As if I haven’t done enough to break Kennedy’s heart…” The words choked back in her throat as she cast her eyes back down to her lap.
“Hey,” Buffy called out softly. She walked over and fell to her knees beside Willow. She reached out and took Willow’s hands in her own. “As much as I’ve wanted to, I haven’t always been able to save everyone, either.”
“Gee, that’s encouraging,” Willow replied. “Way to pep talk, Buff.”
Buffy grinned. “There’s a big difference, though. I’m just a slayer, but you’re Willow…I got a Scythe, but you made a slayer army with it. I’ve seen the things you can do…You’re amazing.”
“Yeah,” Willow said with a grin. “That’s me. The ‘Amazing’ Willow Rosenberg.”
Buffy smiled and leaned in closer to her friend. “And don’t you forget it.”
The tender moment between the old friends was suddenly interrupted when Dawn burst into the room. She was holding a stack of photocopies, and her eyes were still glancing down at one of the pages. She stopped just short of running into Buffy before finally tearing her eyes away.
Dawn gave the two women a satisfied smile. “You gotta see this.”
“What is it?” Buffy asked, rising to her feet. She stepped up next to Dawn and grabbed one side of the paper to pull it closer.
“I was doing some checking on the Bureau Nine info a while ago, and I stumbled across something that I thought was about Kennedy and Kadin,” Dawn began to explain, allowing her sister to take the book from her hands. “I never said anything because I had no confirmation. It was the one of those typical creepy and not at all clear messages from the PTB about a, quote, heritage bestowed upon a mortal family.”
“Like the Van Helsings?” Willow supplied, now standing on Dawn’s other side.
“Exactly my first thought,” the young watcher nodded. “So I did some more digging, and I came across this in the book you have.” She took the paper from Buffy’s hands in mid-read, earning her a glare from the blonde slayer, but Dawn just ignored her.
“Here,” she said, “It’s about a Dutch prophecy that’s supposed to come to fruition when a member of a mortal family, um, ‘acquires the power of their ancestors’.”
Buffy looked up at her sister. “Like, say, a birthright, maybe?”
Dawn grinned. “You know for a blonde, you catch on pretty fast there, Buff.”
The slayer smacked her sister’s shoulder and pointed a finger in her face. “Watch it,” she warned with a teasing smile.
“That’s great and all,” Willow broke in. “But what’s it got to do with what’s happening to Kadin?”
“I asked myself that same question,” Dawn said, as she flipped a few of the pages. “And that’s when I found this.”
All three sets of eyes dropped to the page. “It’s basically a breakdown of the prophecy,” Dawn explained. “It talks about our she-demon, Barheadra.”
“Baaierdra,” Willow corrected.
“Whatever,” Dawn dismissed. “The point is…I found it. I found the solution.”
“So…What’s the problem?” Buffy asked slowly.
Dawn and Willow gave her a stern glare.
“I’m getting there,” Dawn told her.
“Sorry,” Buffy conceded with a sigh. “Please, continue.”
Dawn flipped another page. “It says that Kadin’s power links her to this demon. Because they both were derived from the same source, they are forever connected.”
“But this demon is old, like centuries upon centuries old,” Buffy said. “Kadin is, like, our age, right?”
“Kadin, yes, but not the Van Helsing line,” Dawn explained. “It’s something that’s passed down from generation to generation.”
Willow leaned closer and started to read the inscription.
“Born of a heart that has seen both Heaven and Hell, the demon and her power are unstoppable to any man. It is only through the embrace of the demon that the true sacrifice will be made, and the power to stop her shall be granted.”
Willow’s eyes remained on the page for a moment longer, then she pulled them away to look over at Dawn. “A heart that has seen both Heaven and Hell?” she repeated slowly. “What does that mean?”
“They call her the Demon of Chaos, right?” Dawn pointed out. “Well, maybe it’s referring to chaos itself.”
“Or love,” Buffy supplied with a shrug.
Dawn and Willow looked over at her with raised brows.
“What?” she asked defensively. “It makes sense if you think about it. A heart that has seen both Heaven and Hell? When you’re in love, you take the bad with the good. There’s no greater pain like losing someone you love, and yet there’s no feeling closer to Heaven than the feeling of being in love.”
Willow smiled. “When did you get so deep?”
“When you’ve been around as long as I have, you tend to pick up these things,” Buffy joked. “Plus, before I came back I spent a lot of time baking. It makes you more introspective, you notice things more.”
Dawn and Willow both looked confused, but Dawn shook her head.
“Anyway, how does that translate into chaos?” Dawn asked. “How do love and chaos even remotely tie together?”
Willow shrugged and took a step back. “It’s really not that far-fetched, when you think about it. Love can make you do some pretty crazy things.”
“Like being so deeply scorned by it that the only solution is the complete and total destruction of mankind and the entire world as we know it?” Dawn said, looking up from the pages of the book. Willow gave her a hurt look, and Dawn quickly backtracked with a shake of her head. “I didn’t mean you,” she corrected. “I’m talking about her. Because, according to this,” she said, pointing at a spot on the page in front of her, “this demon is capable of…well, let’s not find out, okay?”
Willow looked from Dawn to Buffy and then down to the notes. She read the words to herself before slowly lifting her eyes back up to meet Dawn’s.
“What’s it say?” Buffy asked curiously.
Willow and Dawn exchanged a furtive look, but neither said anything.
“Is it that bad?” Buffy pressed, glancing from her friend to her sister.
“Let’s put it this way,” Dawn said slowly. “Think Glory…but with much more pain.”
Buffy’s eyes widened. “It gets worse,” Willow added in a whisper.
“What’s worse than that?”
Willow hesitated to answer before she finally swallowed the lump in her throat and forced the words through. “There’s only one way to stop her, and one person who can do the stopping.”
“I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the person is Kadin,” Buffy said in reply. “Why is that a problem?”
This time, the period of hesitation before Willow’s answer was even longer. “In order for Kadin to stop Baaierdra, she has to be willing to embrace the demon. That’s how she’ll be granted the power to stop her.”
“Yeah,” Buffy said, drawing out the word. “We’ve been over that part, but I’m still not really seeing the uber bad.”
“I-in order for Kadin to be given the power,” Willow tried to explain, “a sacrifice must be willing to be made…the ultimate sacrifice.”
Buffy still seemed confused. She tilted her head to the side just slightly, waiting for the witch to clarify.
“Buffy,” Willow said softly. “In order to receive the full power…Kadin has to die.”
A sudden look of realization settled over the blonde slayer. “Oh.”
End of Act Two