World on Fire

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Total Chapters: 9

Buffy finds herself haunted by dreams of a Slayer from long ago. What are the powers trying to tell her in her sleep – and will it make her see things with a different perspective? (Set in Season Six, post-“Smashed,” but pre-“Dead Things.”)

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Chapter 1

 

Buffy tossed in her bed, visions of a life she’d never lived yet felt real all the same echoing in her dreams. She could feel the heat of a fire, smell the stench of death surrounding her, her own heart beating as quickly as the girl she saw running before her eyes.

Gasping, she sat up in bed, her hand trembling as she clutched the sheet to her chest, sweat dotting her forehead. It had been years since she’d had a dream like this one, though she remembered a time when they had plagued her almost every night.

Memories of a life she’d never lived. Of a life that had never been hers.

Memories of a girl joined to her by a power that bound them together through the ages.

Buffy ran her hands through her hair, wondering why she’d be having one of these dreams again now. Ever since she’d been turned, her Slayer dreams had focused more on the prophetic, telling her what she needed to know in order to fight her ongoing battles.

Why would she need to know anything about a girl who, from the looks of it, had lived over six hundred years before Buffy had even been born?

She already knew she was a Slayer and what it meant for her. She didn’t need to get a refresher course in her sisters from the past. What, did the PTB reset her Slayer dreams when she was resurrected?

Buffy flopped back against the pillows, knowing she needed sleep but too restless at the same time. Maybe she should’ve sought Spike out tonight after all. She never had any difficulty falling asleep after a few exhausting hours with him…

Only she was trying not to do that anymore. Or at least not so much. Maybe she could wean herself off sex with the vampire…

She forced her eyes closed and took several deep, relaxing breaths. Now was not the time to think about Spike. She had a double shift at the Doublemeat, starting with breakfast. She needed to get some sleep so she didn’t start nodding off at the grill. Again.

Buffy rolled over to her side and pulled the sheet up, deciding she wasn’t going to have any more Slayer dreams tonight. If the Powers had something to tell her, they could write her a note. Right now, she was going to sleep.

The Powers That Be didn’t listen.

*** *** ***

She held a cloth to her nose and mouth, though it did little to block out the stench of rotting bodies. Carts carried them through the streets, purple boils marring the near-skeletal corpses.

Vomit rose in her throat, but she kept it in, her mind focused on her duty instead. For weeks, she’d tracked the same creature, and if the reports her Watcher had received were correct, she’d find him in this village.

Vampires… They were filthy animals, preying on the pain and suffering of humanity. It made her almost as ill as the heavy fog of death hanging in the air.

She didn’t stop running until she reached the church, her hand strong as it clutched the metal ring on the door and pulled it towards her. She pushed the door hard behind her, panting as she shut out the world.

“Father?” she called, her timid voice echoing off stone walls. “Are you here? It’s Isobel. I was sent by the Council.”

A tall, thin man with long robes and gray hair stepped out from the shadows, his eyes intently focused on Isobel. “Yes, of course. I was pleased when I received news of your impending arrival. Our village has suffered enough without this demon preying on it as well.”

Isobel lowered her gaze. “Yes, your grace. I shall vanquish him tonight and he shall cause you suffering no longer.”

“Did you travel alone, child?” he asked, his dark eyes darting behind her.

“Yes. My Watcher preferred to stay behind when he heard your village was troubled so by plague.”

The priest nodded. “Allow me to show you to your quarters then. I am certain you will want to rest before nightfall.”

“Yes, your grace,” Isobel replied, her eyes still lowered. “That is quite kind of you.”

The priest said nothing else as he led her to the back of the church. Isobel clutched her arms, the air cold behind heavy stone walls. She thanked the priest again as he opened the door to what would be her room, then bid him good day as he shut her inside.

Once alone, she lowered herself to her knees, her hands clutched and her eyes closed as she prayed to God for strength in her impending battle. She begged him to allow her to be a weapon of His righteousness on Earth, using her as His hand to strike down those who would do evil.

Isobel had never understood why God had chosen her to fulfill such an important task. While she had been raised from infancy with the knowledge it could happen someday, she had never believed she would be the one chosen from the girls she had shared quarters with while waiting to be called. So many of them had been sent away once it became clear they were too old to be chosen, and Isobel had already resigned herself to a life in a convent.

She had been certain pious, brave Constance would be chosen before Isobel herself ever had a chance. The other girl had mastered every weapon and could recite entire texts on demons and their evils. Isobel couldn’t remember if it was a garlack or a larnack that had six horns and was afraid of shellfish…

When her Watcher had come to her and told her the previous Slayer was dead and Isobel had been the one who was to take her place, she had hardly been able to believe him. However, her newfound strength and agility had proven he spoke the truth, and since then, she had fought to prove herself worthy of such a gift.

Even when she watched Constance leave for the convent Isobel had known she should be the one making that journey instead…

Isobel spent the hours before sunset in silent prayer, rededicating herself to her Lord and His holy ways. She would be pious, pure and good, until He deemed it time to call another Slayer forth and she would sacrifice herself as a martyr.

It would be an early death, but it would be a worthy one.

When the sun finally set, Isobel slipped from the church, her cross heavy around her neck and her stake clutched tightly in her sweating palms. Death still raged all around her, fires burning and lighting the dark night, but she kept her focus on her sacred duty, determined to vanquish the demon and prove herself worthy of her calling.

A shrill scream broke through the night, yet no one but Isobel stirred at the sound, cries of pain and fear too commonplace to be worth noticing any longer. However, Isobel recognized this cry as different from others, recognized the reason behind the fear.

She broke into a run, her skirts rustling around her ankles, though she didn’t trip. Her hand stole to her cross, her fingers massaging the wood as she moved with inhuman speed to the outskirts of the village.

Isobel came to an abrupt stop when she found the demon, her chest heaving with the exertion of her breaths. He dropped his frightened prey when he heard her approach and turned, blood smeared against his lips as he faced her, his gold eyes flickering like flame.

Slayer…”

“Demon,” she hissed, her stake raised.

The girl he’d been feeding from scrambled to her feet, clutching her wounded neck. “Run,” Isobel said, throwing her a glance, and the girl didn’t argue, stumbling as she ran, though managing to escape, for the vampire did not give chase.

Instead, he stared at the Slayer, looking her over with his tongue running against his fangs in a way that made her quite…uncomfortable.

“I suppose I should be cross with you, Slayer, for allowing my meal to escape. However…” He smirked and stepped towards her. “She was a bony peasant. You are a ripe, succulent treat. I think I should much rather feast from you.”

“You will not taste my blood tonight, foul hellspawn,” Isobel swore. “I shall return you to your dark lord!”

Usually, this was the point where the demons looked somewhat nervous. Or at least prepared for a fight. However, this one merely laughed, the sound having a rich quality Isobel wasn’t familiar with. “Listen to you! Making such cold threats and we haven’t even been properly introduced.” He bowed low, waving his arm with a flourish. “I am called Edmund.”

“Isobel,” she replied with a curtsy before she remembered where she was. His sudden break from what she was used to had taken her completely from the moment. That and the way his demon face had melted to reveal the most beautiful man she’d ever seen moments before his introduction… She blushed crimson. “I…”

Edmund laughed his deep, rich laugh again. “Oh, I like you, Slayer. You are delightfully amusing.”

Isobel gaped. “I…!” She stomped her foot and raised her stake. “You shall not find me so amusing when you are nothing but dust, demon!”

He continued to smirk at her, his arms crossed over his chest. Isobel refused to think about how his eyes were such a beautiful shade of green or how his hair was as golden as a sunset. He was a demon, an abomination in the eyes of her God, and she would fulfill her duty to vanquish him from this world.

She ran towards him, stake poised for his heart.

He moved quickly and swatted her like a fly.

Isobel cried out in surprise as her bottom hit the hard, cool ground, and she looked up in shock. How had he done that?

“You’re new, aren’t you, Slayer? Of course you are. Your kind never lasts long. Why those fools think little girls can fight us anyway is something I shall never comprehend.”

His words stroked her anger, and Isobel pushed herself to her feet, running towards him again with renewed determination. He blocked her attack, but she swung with her other hand, hitting him hard in the face, drawing blood in the wake of her fist.

Edmund merely laughed again, his tongue lapping at his own blood. “Yes, Slayer. Show me you have fire.”

Isobel hit him again, breathing heavy in exertion, her blue eyes focusing on nothing but his face and his taunting smile.

This time, Edmund hit back, smacking her across the face. Isobel gasped the sting burning her skin like a flame. She came towards his heart again with the stake, but he blocked her this time as well, his blow once again sending her to the ground.

However, this time, he didn’t allow her to rise again. Edmund lowered his body over hers, pinning her to the ground, his hands like manacles around her wrists as he kept her arms pinned and his powerful thighs clamped around hers.

“Did you really expect to defeat me, Slayer?” he snarled, his demon face replacing the beautiful features that had distracted her.

“It doesn’t matter if I am the one who vanquishes you tonight or not, demon. I am but an instrument of the Holy Father, and he will see you struck down for your sins.”

“Is that so?” he asked, amusement in feral yellow eyes. “Then I suppose I should enjoy a great deal of sinning before he does to be certain I have done enough to warrant such punishment.”

Edmund moved quickly, both of her hands wrapped in one of his now, leaving his other hand to trail her body, strong, cool fingers, moving against her skin above the top of her bodice, caressing the ample mounds pushed forth by the restrictive fabric. Isobel gasped, her tongue wetting her soft pink lips at the unfamiliar sensation. She didn’t understand what the vampire was doing, wondering why he was not taking the chance to rend the flesh of her neck when she was at his mercy completely.

Then, his mouth was at her neck, and Isobel closed her eyes as she whispered a soft prayer to her Lord, asking him to forgive her for her failure and bless her soul when it left her body. The demon atop her laughed again at the sound of her prayer, then ran his tongue along the rapidly-fluttering pulse of her neck.

“Not yet, dove,” he whispered against her ear. “I haven’t had my fill of your flesh.”

His words only served to confuse her, and Isobel’s brow knitted as his hand traveled down her side. Her body felt too hot, and she blamed the demon, knowing it could be nothing but evil that would make her skin warm so when touched by a cool hand.

She cried out when suddenly, his hand was beneath her skirts, pushing them out of the way to find her most intimate of places. She thrashed, fighting to keep her thighs from parting for him, her breath coming in harsh pants now as she realized his intentions.

“Please, no…don’t defile me,” she begged. “I…I’ve taken a vow of chastity, and wish to return to my Lord pure. Let me die as I lived, please…”

“Shh… None of that now, Slayer,” Edmund replied, pushing his way between her thighs. “Relax.”

She shook her head, her eyes closed tight and her breath hissing through clenched teeth. Her prayers continued to sound in her mind as she begged God to spare her this final indignity.

Then, his fingers found a place between her legs she had never known existed, and her eyes snapped open, a cry of surprise falling from parted lips. The act of fornication was one she had only heard of in hushed whispers, and whispers she had never understood at that. But she had been certain it had been something quite horrific.

This, however, was not horrific. Not at all… His fingers were moving rapidly against her, bringing her a sort of pleasure she had never known. Dewy moisture ran down her thighs as she parted them, allowing him better access.

“That’s a good girl,” Edmund purred. “I knew you would enjoy this, dove. I knew in the way you moved… So beautiful. So deadly…”

Isobel moaned and thrust her hips up, no longer caring about anything but the pleasure building in her body. His strong hand released her wrists to cup her ample breast instead, and Isobel’s hand clutched at his shoulders instead of pushing him away.

She was lost to lust. Lost to him…

He lowered his head to capture her lips, but instead, his chest pressed against the large wooden cross she wore. He tore himself from her, crying out in pain as his flesh sizzled.

His hand was off her now, and Isobel moaned, her mouth opening to beg him to return it before the reality of the situation came crashing around her, and she remembered herself. Face flaming in embarrassment, she punched him hard in the nose, knocking him from her body before she ran from him.

Chest heaving with unneeded breath and his own mouth parted in shock, Edmund watched her run.

*** *** ***

The priest was waiting for her when she returned to the church, and Isobel fell at his feet. “Forgive me, Father. I was bested by the demon tonight, and he escaped me.” Her cheeks reddened at her careful omission, knowing herself even further damned for lying to a priest, but she couldn’t bring herself to admit what she had allowed the demon to do.

The priest rested his hand against her head. “It is all right, child. A woman returned to the village tonight saying she was rescued from a wild beast by a girl. You did the Lord’s work.”

Hot tears stung her eyes as she felt like a charlatan. “Yes, Father. I…I did save a woman.”

“Then you have earned your rest for the night. You shall slay the demon soon, of this I am certain. Now return to your chambers.”

Isobel rose to her feet with a shaky nod before she returned to her quarters. Her tear-filled eyes centered on the crucifix hanging on her wall as the door shut, and she prostrated herself before it, begging her Lord for forgiveness for her sins.

*** *** ***

Buffy woke with a gasp on her lips, the first rays of sunlight streaming through the window, her body shaking with desire. She ran her hands through her hair, frustration coursing through her as her alarm began to clang.

She hit it hard, reducing it to useless parts before storming out of the bed with a growl.

“Stupid pointless Slayer dreams,” she muttered, determined to put that little bit of disturbingness out of her mind as she got ready for work.

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