Rona and Vi walked through the cemetery nervously, holding stakes and being as quiet as they could possibly be. Cassius, who was "stalking" them, stepped on a branch, causing it to crack, and the girls turned to look. Cassius was in vampire visage. He punched Rona and she fell to the ground. Vi tried to stake him, but Cassius caught her hand and grabbed her, twisting her arm behind her back. He put his arm around her throat, growled, and went to bite her neck.
Vi screamed and Cassius stopped before biting her. He looked up and let his vamp face fade away. "Ok, these two are dead. Why?" He asked.
Rona stood up and dusted herself off, saying, "Cause the black chick always gets it first?"
"What was that, Rona?" Aurelia asked.
"I'm dead because he's a vampire. I don't have slayer strength, slayer speed…. i-it wasn't a fair fight."
"Vi, do you think I care about a fair fight?" Cassius asked.
"No, no sir." Vi said. "You don't play by the rules, and I have learned a valuable lesson of some sort." Cassius let Vi go and she walked up to Molly and Kennedy who were standing near Aurelia.
"You're right." Aurelia said. "You don't have slayer strength. But that doesn't mean that you're not strong. You have inherent abilities that others do not have."
"Not like you do." Molly said.
"No, not yet, but it's there. You have the potential. You have strength, speed, instinct. You just have to learn to trust yourself. Rona, what did your instincts tell you to do just then?"
"Block his attack, keep him off balance, gain the advantage…." Rona said.
"No, they didn't."
"They told me to run."
"They told me to run." Vi said. "They're still sort of telling me to run."
"Don't fight on his terms. Your gut's telling them to run, run. Ok? Regain the higher ground. Make the fight your own. Angel, what did your instincts tell you to do just then?"
"Hunt. Kill." Cassius said.
Aurelia walked out in front of the girls. "Come at me," Cassius raised his eyebrows and smiled a little. "Full speed." She turned her back on him to look at the potentials. "He needs to kill to live. That tells you everything you need to know." Cassius growled and lunged at Aurelia. She ducked and he ended up lunging face-first into a headstone. He fell to the ground, lying flat on his back, and Aurelia straddled him, holding one hand to his throat and pointing a stake above his heart with the other. "Instinct. Understand his, but trust yours. You were chosen for a reason." Cassius groaned softly and she looked down at him. "Are you ok?"
"I'm…. fine." Cassius said. "A couple of ribs haven't set right since…. I'm fine."
"Let me see." She lifted up his shirt a little to inspect his ribs.
"No, it's just…."
"Cassius….""I'm going to be ok." He assured her, holding her hand.
"That's hot." Rona said.
"So, we're supposed to, like, make out with them or something?" Molly asked.
"Careful, Buffy." Vi warned. "Just when you think it's part of the lesson, he'll hurt your arm."
Aurelia rolled her eyes and stood up, offering her hand to Cassius and helping him stand. "Molly, Kennedy, let's go. You're up. Next lesson."
Aurelia, carrying a battle-axe, was pacing back and forth disapprovingly in front of the girls while they chattered. Xander had been the one to stay the night with Aurelia and he was sitting in the corner watching everyone. He and Aurelia had to be at school soon. They were going to leave the girls here and Cassius would come later in the day so no one had to miss anymore school. Since it was a very overcast day, he could safely make it without burning up.
"No way." Rona said. "One armed pushups are bull."
"I can do 'em." Kennedy insisted. "I can do the kinda way you clap between."
"I'm more of a chin up kinda girl. I can do chin-ups 'til the cows come home."
"You're saying demon, and I don't mean to…." Vi said. "Oh, bananas! Imagine yourself covered in human viscera…." Molly and Vi giggled and squealed as they continued talking.
Aurelia stopped pacing and hurled the battle-axe at the bull's-eye target hung on the wall. The axe point landed in the center, a perfect bull's-eye. Everyone stopped talking and looked at her, a little frightened. She glared back at them sternly. "You're all going to die. But you knew that already. That's the neat reward for being human. The big dessert at the end of the meal. Don't kid yourselves. This whole thing is all about death. You think you are different because you might be the next Slayer? Death is what a Slayer breathes, what a Slayer dreams about when she sleeps. Death is what a Slayer lives. My death could make you the next Slayer." As she retrieved the axe, she noticed that she finally had their attention. She shot a look at Xander and said, "Oh, rapt attention. I love that so much." She looked back at the girls. "Now, where was I? Ah. If we go with what Giles' resources are telling us, then the First is in remission for a while, which we think means an advantage for us."
"Well, what does that mean?" Rona asked. "About the First?"
"As best as we can tell, he…. Or more precisely 'it'…. was putting a lot of stock in that Turok-Han. So when I killed it, the First decided to back off for a while. The good news is that this means we probably don't have to worry about it pulling Angel's strings for a while. The bad news is that gives the First time to regroup. Part of that regrouping is coming back stronger than ever. The odds are against us. Time is against us. And some of us will die in this battle. Decide now that it's not going to be you. I know you're all tired, far away from home, anxious. But you're all special. Most people in this world have no idea why they're here or what they want to do. You do. You have a mission, a reason for being here. You're not here by chance. You're here because you are the chosen ones." She sighed. "Now, Xander and I have to go to school. You girls are to stay here and rest. The only activities I want you to engage in is training. Thanks to Xander, you now have the entire basement for that. Mats, punching bags, gloves, weights. They're all yours to train with. Angel will be here in a little while to keep an eye on you." She looked at Xander and they headed upstairs to grab their things for school.
Willow and Oz were waiting for them in the library. "Has Giles checked in yet?" Xander asked, setting his things down on the table. "I thought he was picking up that Chao-Ahn girl in Shanghai yesterday."
"He'll be back soon." Willow said. "How are the girls doing?"
"They're very annoying. And I think they all have ADD when I'm not scaring them into listening." Aurelia said.
"You think Angel will be able to handle them?" Oz asked.
"He's pretty patient. I'm sure he won't kill them." Aurelia sighed. "I'd better get to class. I've missed enough that the troll-man is starting to look my way again." She picked her bag up. "I'll be back around lunchtime."
The class Aurelia was sitting in was English and it was very boring. She found herself staring out the window for most of it. Half way through, the girl next to her…. Amanda was her name…. leaned over and whispered her name.
"Buffy." Aurelia looked over. "Hi."
"You look bored."
"I'm very bored."
Aurelia smiled. "Sure."
Amanda grabbed a piece of paper and wrote something on it. When the teacher wasn't looking, she tossed the note to Aurelia's desk. Aurelia caught it and opened it up. Amanda had written Do people ever think you're weird?
Aurelia had to stifle a laugh. She wrote back quickly Yes!
Amanda opened the note and nodded. She wrote on the note again and tossed it back to Aurelia. I feel like people think I'm weird, and so they pick on me. But I might be weird.
Aurelia looked at Amanda and then back at the note. Amanda, why do you think that you're weird?
One of the boys who picks on me, I kind of…. See, if a guy picks on you, is it weird to think he's cute?
Oh…. Uh…. I don't know.
It's just, the last few times I've seen him, I've wanted to, you know, pick on him more. The thing is, I can't tell. My mom says when a guy teases you, it means he likes you.
Sometimes that's true.
Is it weird? We're mean to each other, and we like each other.
Well, it depends. Sometimes that's how people relate. Being mean to each other. Even mortal enemies…. Aurelia quickly scratched through the mortal enemies part and tossed the note to Amanda.
Amanda read it just as the bell rang. They both stood up and gathered their things. "So, should I ask him out?" Amanda asked.
"Aur…. Buffy!" Willow rushed up to her. "Hi, Amanda."
"Hi Willow." Amanda said.
"Buffy, uh…. Can I see you in the library?"
"Sure." Aurelia looked at Amanda. "I'm sorry, I have to…. I'll talk to you tomorrow." She rushed off with Willow.
"We just got news." Willow said quietly. "The coven called and said there's a potential in Sunnydale."
"And she's sure?"
"Positive. Althenea said the seers located another potential slayer here…. in Sunnydale. Someone that already lives here."
"Oh, God…. Anything else about her?" Willow shook her head. "The seers couldn't find out her name or, like, her address or anything?" Willow shook her head again. "Am I getting the definition of seer wrong?"
"I was going to take the girls out tonight for a hands on lesson, but maybe now I shouldn't…. This town is crawling with Bringers. I don't want to risk that they find this new girl first."
"No, you should go. I can do a spell to find her tonight. I just have to get together a few ingredients. But you-you shouldn't skip your training, it's too important."
"You think you can handle it?"
"No problem. Oz can help."
"Ok, I'll take them then if you're sure you can handle finding this new girl."
"I'm positive I can." Willow smiled brightly.
"He went to check on the girls."
Aurelia rolled her eyes. "He's probably trying to get a date with one of them."
"Xander couldn't get a date if he paid the girl." Aurelia and Willow turned around to find Cordelia standing behind them. "And what girls are you talking about?"
"Why are you talking to us?" Willow asked.
"Because you're blocking my locker." Cordelia pointed to the locker that Willow and Aurelia were standing in front of.
"Oh, sorry." The two girls moved away and Cordelia stepped up to open her locker.
"So, really…. What girls?"
"Potential slayers." Aurelia said. "They're in danger."
Cordelia rolled her eyes. "Potential slayers? You mean there's a bunch of girls that are potential yous? God, Xander must be drooling all over himself." She paused. "Wait, what are they in danger from? It's not another end-of-the-world thing, is it?" Aurelia and Willow gave Cordelia a look that said it all. "Great! Just in time for all the major Senior year things!"
"Isn't that how it always happens?" Willow asked.
"But this is Senior year! Can't you make them change their dates or something?"
Aurelia rolled her eyes. "Yes, because I'm sure the First Evil will hold off on its war against the forces of good so we can all go to prom."
"Well, if you ask nicely…."
"Cordelia, this is the End of Days. There shouldn't be another one after this. And it's going to happen when it happens. And it's going to be bad. It's already bad. The Watchers Council was blown up. Giles is having to track down more potential slayers around the world and he's bringing them to my house for safety. So far, there are no Watchers but him left."
Cordelia looked at Aurelia for a moment. "It's that bad?"
"It's that bad."
"Is there…. Is there anything I can do to help?" Aurelia and Willow's eyes widened in surprise. "Oh please, I'm not completely heartless. Besides, if it's the end of the world or whatever, I should at least do my part to protect the mall and all of my clothes. I can't have a demon destroying everything I love and hold near and dear to my heart."
Aurelia sighed. "You can come over tonight and help Willow and Oz find a new potential that's living here in Sunnydale. We'll figure something else out from there."
"Tonight is…." Cordelia stopped when she saw the look on Aurelia's face. "Perfect. I'll be there as soon as I go home and get changed after school."
"Thank you." Aurelia nodded and walked away.
Molly, Vi, and Rona were going through the pile of weapons that were laid out on the island countertop in Aurelia's kitchen. Molly picked up a crossbow. "Ooh, crossbow! Got to love it." She pointed it around the kitchen. "Feels like I'm storming a castle."
"You do a lot of that, do you?" Rona asked.
"I might, I had a beauty like this." Cordelia walked into the kitchen and Molly pointed the crossbow at her. "Halt!"
Cordelia placed a finger on the end of the crossbow and pointed it down towards the floor. "That's why we don't point the weapons in the kitchen."
"It's not loaded." Vi said.
"Yeah and that's always the lead quote under the headline 'Household Crossbow Accident Claims Teen'."
"Oh, a mace!" Vi cried, picking up the mace.
"Yeah, cause that's better." Cordelia rolled her eyes and went to the refrigerator.
"Gotta go with the stake." Rona said. "It's classic. I like the feel of wood in my hand."
"Lost me there." Kennedy said as she walked into the kitchen. She spotted the pile of weapons. "Hey, we gearing up already?"
"Oh, right. You guys are going on your little group patrol." Cordelia said.
"More than that, it's an outing." Vi said.
"I'm thinking tonight we might actually get to kill things." Kennedy said.
Cordelia rolled her eyes. "Spare me." Aurelia walked into the kitchen then. "Are you taking these rugrats anytime soon?"
"We're leaving soon." Aurelia said. "And they're not rugrats. They're almost the same age as us."
"This is where you're all hiding." Cassius said, walking in. All the potentials except Kennedy gave a little sigh and Aurelia rolled her eyes. "You guys ready to go?"
"Let's go, girls. Grab your weapons." Aurelia announced. Rona, Vi, Kennedy, and Molly each grabbed a weapon and followed Aurelia and Cassius out of the house.
"All right." Rona cried. "Let's do it. I don't know about you guys, but I'm ready to kick some serious vampire butt!"
Cordelia rolled her eyes and walked into the living room. Willow, Xander, and Oz were gathered around the coffee table, taking inventory of Willow's spell ingredients. "Ok, I got my tumbleweed, my eggs…. got my chrysalises…. chrysali?" Willow shook her head. "My butterfly transformer pods. Hey, wh-where's my snakeskin?"
"Here." Oz said, handing her the snakeskin.
"Hey, do you think this girl, this potential, goes to Sunnydale?" Cordelia asked.
"Hmm. Well, I guess probably, huh? I mean, she's got to be about that age."
"It could be anybody. Could be that wannabe me in gym class…. what's her name? Or my lab partner, Margot. She's a total freak. God, I hope not, because she totally fainted right in the middle of our fetal pig dissection. Somehow I just don't think she's cut out for the slaying gig."
"Are you done?" Xander asked.
"That you'll be the missing potential."
"I can't be a Slayer."
"And yet you're more of girl than anybody here."
"Ok!" Willow cried. "Enough. We'll know soon enough who the next potential is. And it won't be Xander."
"Somebody's life is about to change." Oz said.
"How long will it take?" Xander asked. "Will we find out who it is right away?"
"Pretty much. The spell will conjure up this brilliant light, a-and the light will find the potential and it'll illuminate her with a glowing aura."
"Cool." Cordelia said.
"I've enchanted this map so we can track her basic location. We'll have to hot-foot it, but I'm betting we find her tonight."
"You know, if it is Margot, she's so gonna faint." Everyone rolled their eyes at Cordelia.