Voices in the Dark
(The Dance of Death Remix)

by faith1922

Summary: They think she doesn’t notice. But she notices everything.
Rating: R, why not?
Fandom: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer; Highlander
Warnings: First person rantage and italics
Spoilers: Not for the Series, but you seriously shouldn’t read this before you read Voices in the Dark.
The Original: Voices in the Dark by Aadler

They think I don’t notice them. Think I don’t notice how Snyder sneers and whispers behind my back, how Cordelia sneers in my face every time we cross paths but is still there to save the day when she’s needed. They think I don’t notice how Giles and Mom steal looks at each other when they think no-one is around to see. They think I don’t know that they’re trying to do the adult thing by staying as far away from each other as physically possible. I mean, I’m eighteen years old. I’ve had sex. I’ve talked about it. I’ve seen pictures (and Oh My God, those mental images I sucked out of Mom’s brain are not something I ever want to be reminded of. Happily in denial here!). I know that the reason they aren’t jumping each other’s rusty bones is me. They gave each other up before they ever had each other, just to make my life easier. And they think I don’t notice it.

Joe, well, he’s another story. He doesn’t know anything about me, really. He’s just curious. He doesn’t think I’m dumb enough to not see him limping after me for ten nights in a row. He just underestimates me.

They all do. They believe me to be some teenaged girl, doped up on superpowers and that’s it. Well, newsflash, it’s not. Being the slayer is a lot more than that. I smell Snyder’s resentment when he passes me, just like I can catch a whiff of Cordy’s fear every now and then when things get hot for me. Mind you, she’s not scared for little old me. She’s scared of what will happen to a world that doesn’t have me in it.

What she doesn’t realize is that there’s no such thing. I am always around in one way or another. Always. Just not as Buffy. Sound like I smoked some pot? Yeah, it does. The truth usually does. I learned that when I was fifteen, sitting at the dining room table in our house in L.A., making conversation with my mother. Something suddenly hit me like a sledge hammer right between the eyes and when I came back to myself, the steak knife in my hand was cleanly broken in two. That, and Buffy Summers was dead.

You see, when I first noticed Joe I did some checking around. He’s a watcher. Not the Council kind, the immortal kind. And he has a theory. One about slayers and vampires and immortals that he doesn’t think he’s told anyone about, but he’s old and he drinks too much occasionally. Besides, I’d bet my lunch tomorrow that Death put him up to this in the first place. He’s good like that, a phrase here, a hint there, instant denial when confronted, some more hints, a lot of alcohol. The man can plant ideas in people’s heads like no-one’s business. I think I’m the only one who’s ever caught him at it though. I’ve seen him from too many different angles, have heard his approaches and verbal tools too many times.

But that wasn’t what I was talking about, was it? Giles would take off his glasses at this point and start cleaning them, silently annoyed at his teenaged charge’s talent at ignoring the matter at hand in favour of completely unimportant facts. But you see, if you live as long as I have, in a manner of speaking, you learn that a, details are the only thing that ever really changes and the only way of keeping oneself entertained for any span of time and b, no matter what freaky things live inside my head, I’m a teenager. Eighteen years, remember? Imagine the look on his face if I’d suddenly go all Miss Interest on him. Hilarious. We might need an ambulance if it ever goes that far. Giles is used to a lot of things from me, petulance, token resistance, insistence on being fed cookies, take-charge attitude before battles, resolve face, copied shamelessly from Willow. He definitely wouldn’t know how to deal with what lurks inside my mind and soul.

Joe has a theory. A rather interesting one, I guess. Close to the truth anyway. Connecting directly to the dinner with my parents three years ago.

You see, just like the old man says, in the beginning the world was demon central. Hell on earth or earth in hell, it makes no difference because the planet was a barren wasteland and there was no human in sight. But there’s this thing called evolution, right? And life always finds a way. Eventually there were humans. They fought the demons reigning supreme and against all odds, they beat them. Never underestimate the ruthless determination of the human species. Whether it be nukes or sharp rocks, they’ll always find a way to destroy what opposes them.

Man won, the demons left. But before the door closed they dropped one last party flavour in the front yard of humanity. Vampirism. They fed off humans, killed many and changed a few to become like them and eventually one vamp got it in his head to try a combo meal and tried to suck a pregnant woman dry. Succeeded, too. But he didn’t get the baby. Even back then, or especially back then, balance was precious because countless demons were still lurking outside the door, waiting for someone to get careless and allow them to slip back in. Balance decided that the child would not be harmed and granted protection.

And so the mother became a creature of the night while the child retained its innocence, its soul. And the day it was born, its mother fell to ashes around it. That’s how the first immortal came to be. Born from death, forever rejected by it. It’s a common misconception that Death was the first to be born. He’s just the only one who’s made it this far. And even that’s not completely right because, and that’s where things get interesting, the first immortal was female. And that’s where Joe’s theory has a big freaking hole the size of Nevada in it.

Those Who Kept the Balance, let’s just call them the PTB, decided what the hell, we’ve already got someone here who’s straddling the line between light and dark. Why not make it a job? And they gave the baby girl the power and strength she needed to become a Keeper of Balance. She was found by humans, grew, learned to walk, learned to talk and learned to kill. One night she stopped talking and walked out into the world and she danced a dance of death. She became the Slayer.

For years, she danced her dance of death and darkness, keeping evil at bay, keeping light at bay, doing what the PTB had programmed her to do and then the night came when she died. Now, all the others born like her didn’t stay dead when they were killed. But the essence of the slayer, that thing the PTB had forced into her as an infant, had, for lack of a better phrase, taken on its host’s immortality, leaving the girl mortal. And she died.

While the girl had fought, others like her had been born and some of them had experienced their first deaths at the hands of vampires and came back, not immortal, but cured of their immortality. It was as if the vampire’s bite had given back what another had taken from them and their mothers before they were born. Still following? Simply put, some of those destined to be immortal, were suddenly mortal again. Who knows, maybe it was all part of the PTB’s grand cracking master plan to save the universe. Personally, I believe those guys couldn’t plan their own breakfast, let alone the future of the universe.

Some of those pseudo-mortals had kids and some of them had kids with each other and there was a whole lot of crossing and probably inbreeding going on and in the end, there were children. Girls, more precisely, carrying the genes of an immortal, but conceived the mortal way. Like the slayer, they were walking contradictions, straddling the line, Keepers of Balance.

The night the slayer fell to the hand of some evil or another, the essence of what she was, her soul, was freed. But it was immortal, remember? So it stayed in the human world, searching for a new host and finding it in one of those girls, descended from immortals. And the girl danced her own dance of death and when she fell at the hands of evil, another girl rose to take her place and another and another, all the way down the line to one Buffy Anne Summers who, aged fifteen, sat at the dining room table with her parents one night when a soul almost as old as time slammed into her, obliterating the girl she once was.

Which brings me back to the present. Everyone thinks I’m a teenaged girl doped up on superpowers and that’s it. I’m not. I’m a teenaged girl doped up on superpowers with one of the oldest minds in the world inside my head. And that’s not right either. Fact is, the girl Joyce Summers gave birth to and sadly named Buffy almost two decades ago, is dead. She died the night the slayer re-awoke inside of her. Or rather, she mixed with the slayer. I am the slayer. I am Buffy. I’m neither and I’m both and even after countless lifetimes, this still gives me a headache.

Joe’s theory has merit. There’re some smart ideas in there, but there is one major point he overlooked. He thinks that every slayer is given powers from some mystical source. He doesn’t realize, and that’s the flaw that brings the whole house of cards down around his ears, that the power is always the same. How else would I know all these things? Certainly not from listening to Giles ranting. No, I know because I was there.

I’m the oldest living immortal. I was the first and I’ll be the last because I’m the only one not bound to her body. If the body dies I find a new host. Unless you wipe humanity out of existence completely before killing me, there’s no way to keep me permanently dead. Believe me, many have tried. Death himself took a couple dozen shots. We had that love-hate thing going on for awhile when he was young. He was a horseman, I was the slayer. Naturally, our interests clashed.

But over the millennia, while everything else has fallen away around us, we realized that the other was the only constant. His face is the only thing that comes up in almost every one of my lives. Most of the people he’s known for longer think it’s a bit funny how he drags another strange, broken girl home every decade. Some blonde, some brunette, some red headed. Tall, short, thin, skinny, muscled, black, white, half child, half woman. No-one knows that it’s always me.

And that’s the gist of it, what it all boils down to. The one and only rule of the Game states that in the end, there can be only one. And that’s a lie. Propaganda, if you will, because as long as there are humans, there will be vampires. As long as there are vampires, there will be immortals. And for as long as that lasts, I will be there, watching over all of it. I’ll jump from body to body, from girl to girl, I’ll fight the darkness, and I’ll watch. It’s tiring, after all these millennia of war. I want to rest desperately. But the PTB still aren’t finished messing up everything they ever touched and so the world goes on.

One day maybe, when the world falls into the sun and the humans choke on ashes and dirt, when the vampires starve to death and the immortals die and die and die until they take their own heads, when the planet returns to the barren wasteland it started out as I will die too, and not come back. I’ll feel my body crumble and my soul will take flight and it will find no new hosts to invade.

Until then, I’ll go out every night to hold back the hordes of evil. I’ll ignore the sneers of those that don’t understand and I’ll hide my smiles from those that pretend not to care. I’ll watch mothers and mentors cut down on their own happiness for my sake and I’ll keep silent because I’ve seen it all before. Many, many times. Maybe I’ll hook up with Methos for a while, or go looking for that cute Highlander I met during WWII. I might give Angel another shot, or fall for someone else completely.

I’ll die.

And I’ll live.


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