Aurelia rushed into the school, talking to herself. There was a lot of commotion in the hallway, but she barely noticed as she rushed to her first class. "Not late. Not late until the bell rings." She looked up to see two boys fighting. Aurelia rolled her eyes and went to break them up. "Hey! Hey!" She stood between them, pushing them apart. "Break it up!" The bell rang. "Get to class." The two boys went their separate ways and Aurelia started to rush down the hall. She spotted a girl who was fading away in front of the lockers. Aurelia groaned and walked up to her. "Hey, shy girl, don't do this. Oh…." She sighed and slapped the girl.
"You knew I was there." The girl said, astonished.
"You noticed me."
"It's ok, I promise. It may seem bad…." A sobbing girl came out of the bathroom beside the lockers where Aurelia was standing. "What's wrong?"
"The mirror said I was fat." The girl sobbed. "It said it."
As Aurelia watched the crying girl walk off, her attention was pulled to another conversation where a stressed boy was venting to his friends. "I'm so…. I can't take this semester anymore. It's just so much for me to handle. So, not only does Mr. Hildebrand move up the trig exam to today, but he also makes it cover three more chapters. And I've got an English paper due tomorrow. I feel like I'm gonna explode."
Aurelia rolled her eyes. "You just need to relax." She looked at his friends around him. "Maybe one of you boys could give him a foot rub?"
Aurelia spotted Giles down the hallway breaking up another fight. "Giles!" She rushed up to him and pushed the two fighting girls apart. They came at her, but she shot them a glare and they scattered. "Something bad is going on."
"Is that right?" Giles said sarcastically, dabbing at a cut on his forehead.
"Oh, you're hurt. What happened?"
"Someone threw a rock at me as I got out of my car. I didn't really get a good chance to see who."
"It could have been any of them. Students, teachers…. something is going on today."
"Yes, well, um, that occurred to me as I ducked the other two rocks."
Aurelia shook her head and looked around at the chaos. "Being in high school can feel like being at war. Now it's true. The students feel like the teachers are out to get them. The Chess Club resents the French Club for taking the activities room, and, well, everybody hates the cheerleaders. If we don't do something about this, we're going to have a riot on our hands. And a lot of other nasty things as well."
The boy in the hallway started screaming. It got louder until he exploded, leaving bloody residue splattered all over the hallway. Giles and Aurelia both looked down the hallway at the mess as students took off running from the mess. Giles pulled Aurelia away before Snyder could make it to the scene.
As they entered the library, Aurelia realized something. "It's that seal in the basement."
"It's as if all of the Hellmouth's energy is trying to escape in that one spot, and it's becoming…. focused."
"Let's go down to the basement and have a look."
Aurelia nodded, following Giles out of the library. She hadn't gotten around to telling him about what had happened with the Slayer Emergency Kit. It had been a couple of days since and she'd been absent from school since it had been her turn to watch the potentials. Cassius was the only one who knew about the vision the man in the red hat had shown her. She couldn't bring herself to tell the others until she'd talked to Giles.
Down in the basement, the Seal of Danzalthar was exposed in the dirt floor. "I swear we just covered this thing up." Aurelia said.
"It doesn't want to stay hidden anymore. It wants to turn these kids into monsters and victims and who knows what else." Giles said.
"It's more than that. I…. had a vision the other day."
"Are you sure it wasn't just a dream? You have been known to mistake them."
"Ok, that was only once and that was because I was new to this Slayer thing. And I'm sure it wasn't a dream. It was an army of vicious vampire creatures."
"An army of how many?"
"Hundreds. Maybe hundreds of thousands. All I know is the last Turok-Han I faced crawled out of that very hole. It makes me nervous." Giles walked onto the Seal. "What are you doing?"
"We've never really studied it."
"Willow did a search on the symbolic database, but it turns out everybody loves a good goat's tongue. Rock groups, covens, and Greek cookbooks. She said she couldn't narrow it down."
"And you trust her?"
"Yes, why wouldn't I trust her?"
"I don't know why any of you should trust each other."
"Giles, get off the Seal, please."
"You're fooling around with the vampire that killed the woman I love! You stupid whore!" Giles ran at Aurelia, but she easily dodged him and he ran into the wall behind her.
"What happened?" Giles asked, sitting up.
"I think it was controlling you."
"Aurelia, we've got to shut this Seal down before it starts affecting everyone."
"I think we need to find the person that fed it its first drop of blood."
"You killed her."
"No. She was the second. Someone else opened this Seal before. That's how the first Turok-Han escaped."
"How do you propose we find this person?"
"I need to talk to Willow."
A pink piglet oinked as it ran across the room in front of them. Giles and Aurelia watched it go. "I hope that wasn't a student." Giles said, getting to his feet.
Cordelia and Xander were sitting on the couch at Aurelia's house, talking. It was their turn to watch the Potentials during school. All the girls were downstairs training, so Xander had brought up a touchy subject. "You keep dodging the question." Xander said.
"I don't dodge." Cordelia protested. "That produces sweat."
"Cordelia! You know how I feel."
"You kissed Willow!"
"Yes. I did. And I can't use the same I-thought-I-was-going-to-die excuse, because it's not a good excuse. I still love you. I think I always will."
"I just don't know if that means anything for us anymore."
"I'm not gonna find anyone out there like you, am I?"
"Of course not!"
"I guess I'm more replaceable, obviously." Xander started to get up, but Cordelia grabbed his arm.
"No. You're not." She sighed and looked at her hands. "There's no one like you, Xander. You were willing to stand up to danger, even when your hands had no weapons. You were ready to protect me with your life."
"Yeah, I guess we fit together pretty good."
"We fit together great."
"You know, sometimes, I want to be back in your life."
Cordelia sighed. "I hope you know you never left my heart."
Xander smiled. "That's good to know."
"So…. Do you have a date for prom?"
"If we manage to survive until prom…. Wanna go with me?"
Cordelia smiled and slipped her hand in his. "Sure. Why not?"
Aurelia, Giles, Oz, and Willow walked into the house at that moment. Willow and Aurelia were talking and Willow had her laptop open. "I got into Tucker's e-mail account." Willow said. "Listen to this message Tucker sent to this kid David Metz at school last week. The Sunnydale High lemmings have no idea what awaits them. Their big night will be their last night."
"So, we have a threat against the students on their big night." Giles looked at Aurelia and Willow. "What big night?"
"It's either prom or graduation." Aurelia said. "Those are big nights in a senior's high school career, yes?"
"Yes." Willow agreed. "But it's probably prom since he said at night. Graduation is held during the day."
"Tucker is planning to attack the prom?" Giles asked.
"Once again, the Hellmouth puts the special in special occasion." Oz said.
"What's going on?" Xander asked, walking up with Cordelia.
"I've spent all day hacking into student profiles and then the email accounts of the students who looked suspicious." Willow said.
"Why?" Cordelia asked.
"We're trying to find the person who gave the Seal its first taste of blood." Aurelia explained. "Things at the school have gotten…."
"Weirder than usual." Willow finished.
"While Willow hacked, Giles, Oz, and myself spent the day keeping a lid on a war. A kid's head exploded this morning because he was feeling pressured and I stopped another girl from disappearing just like that girl a couple of years ago."
"Wow!" Xander said.
"The school is out of control with energy from the Hellmouth. It's time we shut that Seal down." Aurelia took the piece of paper Willow handed her with Tucker's address on it.
"Shouldn't you wait for Cassius?" Giles asked.
Aurelia shook her head. "It's only one boy. I can handle him." She walked out of the house.
Aurelia snuck down a staircase in Tucker's house and found Tucker standing in front of four caged beasts. On the TV was a video with people in formal wear. Aurelia grabbed Tucker and threw him away from the cage when the beasts started to snarl at her.
"Who are you!?" Tucker cried.
"I'm the person that's going to foil your plans." Tucker grabbed a vase and broke it over Aurelia's head. She rolled her eyes and brushed the shards off her jacket. He brandished a screwdriver at her. "You're pathetic. What kind of lunatic wants to destroy the happiest night of a senior's life?"
"I have my reasons.""Whatever. Every maladjust has his reasons. Luckily for me, you're an incompetent maladjust." She disarmed him and tied his hands behind him with an electrical cord. "Now you're going to explain to me how you opened the Seal."
"Don't play dumb, please. The Seal that's causing everyone to go crazy at the school."
"I don't know anything about a Seal."
Behind Aurelia, a boy standing on the stairs fell trying to run back up them. She jumped and grabbed his ankle before he could recover himself. The boy screamed…. Like a girl…. And turned to Aurelia. "Please don't kill me! Please don't kill me!"
Aurelia rolled her eyes and hauled the boy to his feet, dragging him down the stairs to stand next to his kneeling brother. "Who are you?" Aurelia asked.
"I'm…. I'm Andrew." The boy said. "I'm Tucker's little brother."
Aurelia looked him over once. "How old are you?"
"Sixteen. I'm a junior at Sunnydale High School."
"Why did you run when I mentioned the Seal?"
"I, um…. I…."
"Come on, Andrew…."
"My dead friend Warren told me to do it."
"Oh, you don't know him. You're too cool to hang out with us."
"And your friend Warren is dead?"
"Yes. He was killed by an angry mob three months ago."
Aurelia raised one eyebrow. "An angry mob?"
"Well, not exactly an angry mob. But he was found with a lot of holes in him."
"A group of vampires?"
"That's what he said.""And when did you start seeing this dead friend?"
"Oh, um…. About a week after his funeral…. Which was a week after he died."
"Could you touch your dead friend?"
"Of course not. He was a ghost."
"Ok. He was the First…." Aurelia muttered to herself.
"The First what?"
"Nothing. Ok, you said he told you to 'do it'. Do what?"
"Open the Seal."
"How did you open it?" Andrew looked away, tearing up slightly. "Andrew!"
"Leave him alone." Tucker said. "You came here for me."
"Shut up." Aurelia snapped at Tucker, grabbing Andrew by the shoulders and giving him a good shake. "How did you open it, Andrew?!"
"I killed my best friend!" Andrew cried. Tucker and Aurelia's eyes widened. "But it's ok. He's in a better place now. He told me so."
Aurelia shook her head in disgust. "You're coming with me."
"Where are we going?"
Aurelia picked Tucker up and tossed him in a back room, shutting and blocking the door. "Can you send these things back to wherever they came from?"
"No. But Tucker used that book there to summon them."
Aurelia picked up the book and tucked it under her arm. "Where are your parents?"
"Tucker says they're on a permanent vacation in Boca." Aurelia rolled her eyes and hauled the boy up the stairs. "Where are we going?"