Aurelia stood over the weapons bag sitting on the dining room table and looked out the window. Bringers were encircling the house as the sun went down. Molly and Chloe were on the couch in the living room, also looking out. "There's more of them now." Chloe announced.
"And two more out back." Xander said as he and Oz joined Aurelia.
"Why aren't they doing anything, attacking?" Molly asked.
"They don't want in." Aurelia said. "They're here to make sure we don't get out." She turned to the window where Rona, Vi, and Kennedy were looking outside. "Rona." She held up a sword.
"Like this'll do any good." Rona said, taking the sword. "I mean, what's the point?"
Kennedy pointed to the tip of Rona's sword. "It's this end right here. Just stick that in the bad guys. Any more questions?" She went to the weapons chest and took out a crossbow. "This'll do me."
"Are you sure you know how to use it?"
Kennedy skillfully practiced loading and shooting the unloaded weapon. "Since I was eight."
Aurelia handed her a quiver of arrows and then looked at Oz. "How's Willow doing?"
"She's holding up." Oz said.
"Guys? Something's happening." Chloe said.
Rona looked out and saw the Turok-Han approaching the house. "Oh, my God!"
"Here it comes." Aurelia said, moving everyone into the living room. Willow walked in, taking her place next to Aurelia. The Turok-Han began beating on the door, trying to enter the house. Willow concentrated on her spell, chanting in Latin. "Willow…." Aurelia said softly. The Turok-Han finally broke the door down and Willow finished the spell as her eyes went black. A barrier went up, keeping the Turok-Han at bay.
"It's working." Chloe cried.
"For the moment." Vi said.
"Willow…." Aurelia said.
"It's…. it's strong." Willow said, struggling.
"It's hurting her." Kennedy said.
"Hang on, Willow." Aurelia encouraged.
"I don't know." Willow said.
"She can't hold it." Oz said.
"What do we do? What do we do?" Rona cried.
"Run. Everybody run." Aurelia ordered.
As the Turok-Han continued to try to penetrate the barrier, everyone ran out the back door of the house except for Aurelia, Oz, and Willow, who stayed to the very last possible moment.
Xander led everyone outside, going after the Bringers with battle axes in hand. Kennedy used her crossbow to take out a few of the Bringers herself. Xander fought a Bringer, but the Bringer overpowered him and took the battle-axe away from him. Just as the Bringer was about to bring the axe down on Xander, Aurelia stabbed the Bringer from behind. The magical barrier inside the house fell just as Willow and Oz ran out. The Turok-Han chased after them.
"Come on!" Aurelia lifted Xander up and ran.
A few blocks from Aurelia's house, they stopped and looked back. "Ok, no Bringers following. I guess they'll save us for old snaggletooth." Xander said.
"Where is the Turok-Han?" Willow asked.
"Right behind us." Aurelia said. "I believe it's time to split up."
"Split up? We're splittin' up?" Molly panicked. "Is that wise?"
"Willow, take everyone and find a safe location."
"I know a place." Xander said.
"What are you gonna do?" Kennedy asked.
"I'm going to try to slow the Turok-Han down." Aurelia said. "Lead him away from you guys and get him to chase me."
"Buffy, you can't take that thing on yourself. I'll stay."
"No!" Aurelia pulled a bottle of holy water out of her pocket. "Willow, Xander, Oz, take everyone to a safe location. Get them out of here now!"
As soon as they were gone, Aurelia turned to face the approaching Turok-Han. She took a running leap towards it, kicking it in the chest. It didn't even move, but Aurelia fell to the ground. As the Turok-Han came closer to her, Aurelia took the bottle of holy water and smashed the bottle in its face, causing it to roar and retreat. She stood, but it grabbed her by the throat and shoved her into a car window, shattering it. The holy water had burned the Turok-Han's face, but didn't appear to have slowed it down any. Aurelia ran away, expecting the Turok-Han to give chase. It did for a moment before stopping, catching the scent of the others.
Aurelia turned around to see if it was still behind her, but it was gone. She smiled slightly and headed for the construction site where the others should be. When she reached the place, she could hear everyone climbing the rafters. There were startled cries and screams and Aurelia knew the Turok-Han had made his debut in the center ring. It was time for Aurelia to make hers. She threw the switch and the flood lights flared to life. Everyone turned to look and saw Aurelia standing with her arms crossed on a ledge overlooking the open area.
"Buffy?" Rona said.
"What's she doing?" Molly asked.
Kennedy aimed her crossbow at the Turok-Han, but Willow waved her off. "Just watch. It's show time." Willow said as she and Oz led the group away from the open area. They climbed the scaffolding and watched.
"This looks good, doesn't it?" Aurelia called to the Turok-Han. "They're trapped in here. Terrified. Meat for the beast, and there's nothing they can do but wait." She took a step off the ledge and dropped down into the open area. "That's all they've been doing for days. They've been waiting to be picked off. They've been having nightmares about monsters that can't be killed. But I don't believe in that. I always find a way. I'm the thing that monsters have nightmares about. And right now, you and I are going to show them why."
The Turok-Han came for Aurelia then. She was able to hold her own against it for a moment, but soon she was being beaten back. The onlookers grimaced as the Turok-Han dealt harsh blows to her. Still, she managed to get in an offensive move here and there, punching and kicking it between its own moves.
"This…. you planned this." Kennedy said. "Letting the barrier fail, bringing us here, you and Buffy."
"Just watch." Xander said.
The Turok-Han punched Aurelia to the ground, but she got back up to fight more. It threw her about 20 feet away and she landed on the scaffolds, knocking the crossbow out of Kennedy's hands. Aurelia picked up the weapon and aimed it at the Turok-Han. She fired as it ran toward her, hitting it right in the heart. It only paused for a moment, then came at her again. Aurelia grabbed a nearby pipe from the scaffolding and used it as a staff. She then used it to propel herself away from the fight, but the Turok-Han was right behind her. She grabbed a pickaxe and swung it at the Turok-Han, but it ducked and pushed her into the wall of the construction office trailer.
Aurelia fell to the ground and the Turok-Han disarmed her before throwing her back toward the center of the open area. It punched her again and again. She fell into a pile of cinder blocks, but picked one up to throw at the Turok-Han. It crushed it before she could throw it. It punched her again and kicked her under some scaffolding before throwing her a dozen feet into the air, through the scaffold platform. Aurelia managed to stay on the platform and the Turok-Han scaled the scaffolding to get to her. It grabbed her by the throat, lifting her off the ground and choking her as she struggled against him.
"It's killing her." Rona cried.
"We have to do something." Molly said.
"Wait!" Willow called, holding them back.
Aurelia reached down, grabbed the arrow in the Turok-Han's chest, pulling it out, and jabbed its eye. It roared and dropped Aurelia. While it was dealing with its injury, she started punching it, and kicked it to the ground, where it landed in a pile of cinder blocks and boards. Weakly, it tried to punch her back, but she kept punching and kicking it until finally she could bang its head into the metal scaffolding. Aurelia grabbed some nearby barbed wire and slipped it around the Turok-Han's throat. It fell to the ground and Aurelia pulled on it hard enough to sever its head. The Turok-Han exploded in a cloud of dust in front of her.
Aurelia took a moment to catch her breath before looking up at the potentials. "See? Dust. Just like the rest of them. I don't know what's coming next, but I do know it's going to be just like this. Hard. Painful. But in the end it's going to be us. If we all do our parts, believe it, we'll be the ones left standing. Here endeth the lesson." She turned and walked away as the potentials watched her.
Shackled to the rocky cave wall, Cassius saw someone walking toward him. He rolled his one good eye. "A knife, now?" White-shirted, cut, and bruised, Aurelia was standing before him holding a Bringer's knife in her hand. "What'll that…. You…. you can't hurt me. You're…. you're just a figment. You're just…." Aurelia approached him slowly and cut him loose of his tethers. He collapsed forward and braced himself with his hand on her shoulder. When he touched her and realized she was real, he smiled and squinted, searching her face intently. She stared back into his eyes, relief that he was in her arms again flooding through her. "You." He put his arm over her shoulder and she put her arm around his waist. Although Cassius was weak and limping, they walked out of the cave together.
Aurelia took him to the mansion and sat him down on the couch. "I know my house probably would have been closer, but it's filled with girls." She said as she moved about to get supplies to bandage him up.
"Girls?" Cassius asked as she got him a glass of water.
"Potential Slayers. The First is targeting the Slayer line and going after all girls with the power to become a Slayer." She sighed and went back to the kitchen to get a bowl of warm water. When she came back, she sat down on the table in front of him. "Faith is also missing. We don't know if she's alive or dead. Giles sent her back before he came back, but no one has heard from her."
"Giles came back?"
"Yes. He brought the first three potentials with him and the news that the Council has been destroyed."
"An explosion. Giles managed to salvage some files on the First, though they haven't really told us anything." She looked up at him. "What did it do to you?"
Cassius sighed and leaned back into the cushions. "It had that Neanderthal vampire use me as a punching bag."
"Is that all?"
He looked down. "No."
"It used me, didn't it?"
"Not all of you. Just the ones that I killed. Mostly Elizabeth."
"Don't be. I've still got my sanity." He touched her cheek. "And I've still got you. The real you."
Aurelia smiled slightly. "You'll always have me. The real me."
"How did you kill it?"
"The Turok-Han?" Cassius nodded. "I severed its head with barbed wire."
"Oh, it wasn't so hard."
He reached out and touched the new and the faded bruises and cuts on her face. "Wasn't so hard?"
"All right, it was a little hard, but it comes with being the Slayer, right?"
"Unfortunately." Cassius sighed. "I can't wait to be normal again."
Aurelia laughed slightly. "You and me both, my love. You and me both."