DISCLAIMER: Buffy and characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy etc. I may have borrowed one or two lines from Angel but I needed them.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Special thanks to Jonel Nightingale for fixing my terrible English.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Death by Darkness
By Angie


Chapter seven

Wesley was pouring over countless book, trying hard to concentrate. He couldn't shake the image of Fred's death from his mind, he played it over and over in his head, thinking, wondering if he could have done more. There must have been something I could have done, something I missed. Pulled from his thoughts by the mention of the demon wasteland in his book he read on. "Oh dear!" He exclaimed to the empty room while hastily making his way over to the telephone.

"Angel, it's me. I think I have something!"

"On my way Wes!"

Faith and Buffy walked the hallway in silence, neither one knowing what to say to the other.

Faith could see Buffy looked as tired as she felt but sleep would have to wait. Faith thought being a watcher would give her more time to herself, she couldn't have been more wrong. Giles was a slave driver and as much as she hated to admit it she sometimes missed the battles.

"So here we are." Faith told Buffy as she opened the door to her room.

"I think this rooms already taken Faith.......and judging by the clothes lying everywhere I'd say it was taken by you?"

"Sorry B, gotta share. There's only one spare room left and I thought it would be best if Willow had it. You either share with Xander, or me it's up to you."

"Have you heard him snore?" Buffy laughed as dropped her bag onto a clearing on the floor.

"Nah, the first and only time I spent any alone time with Xander we didn't sleep!" Faith told her with a trademark waggle of her eyebrows.

Buffy responded by rolling her eyes in Faith's direction. She knew faith and Xander had slept together a long time ago but she still felt uncomfortable about the whole thing.

"Faith, there's only one bed!"

"Yeah but it's a big bed and I don't kick in my sleep, well not much anyway!" Faith answered with a smile.

"I'm too tired to argue, we should get back to Giles so he can get me up to speed. Then I am going to take a shower and try and get a few hours shut eye. You should do the same, you look crappy!" Buffy stated with a wicked grin.

"Thanks B, just what a girl needs to hear!"

Angel was in Wesley's office listening to him explaining his findings. He tried to keep up but Wesley seemed to go off on a speeding tangent and Angel had no way of keeping up.

"Slow down Wes, you telling me this thing will be made flesh?"

"Yes Angel, if it's shell isn't destroyed before it manifests then that is exactly what will happen and if it does, we are looking at a force that's going to be extremely difficult to stop!"

"Ok, this is bad."

"I would say so!"

"Thanks Wes, listen why don't you get some rest. I'm going to call Giles."


Silly man, who could sleep at a time like this. The woman I love is gone, the entire slayer race is in danger and the world as we know it could be sucked into hell. Yes sleep, that's what one should do on a day like this. Wesley thought to himself while displaying a smile that could only be described as crazy.

On the way back to Giles office Faith and Buffy woke Xander, despite his protests he was told to meet them in Giles office when he had some clothes on. Xander answering the door wearing nothing but his tighty whiteys was not great image to behold.

"I'm thinking about buying Xander some pyjamas."

"Good idea B, I could go without seeing Xander practically naked for the rest of my life!"

"Not like you haven't seen it before Faith!" Buffy answered abruptly.

"Someone's snippy!"

"I'm fine, just tired I guess." Buffy lied.


Chapter eight

Giles listened intently to what Angel was telling him over the phone. It was so much worse than he had imagined. If this thing becomes flesh, I don't know if we can stop it. Giles looked up from his phone call to see Faith and Buffy enter his office and motioned for them to take a seat.

"Thank you Angel, I already have my people looking into your problem. I'll call if we find something."

Both Faith and Buffy could tell by the look on Giles face that whatever Angel had told him had disturbed him greatly. They had no idea how much worse things were going to get and they weren't eager to find out.

"Dare I ask?" Buffy said looking at Giles expectantly.

"Someone is stripping the slayers of their essence and sending it to the demon wasteland, that we already know. I've just been told the reason why!" Giles exclaimed ominously.

"Spill boss!" Faith almost demanded.

"Thousands of years ago a demon walked the earth. Its name was 'Substantia Custos' he.."

"Who what now?" Buffy interrupted

"Substantia Custos, it's Latin for Essence Keeper." Giles answered, slightly annoyed at the interruption. "This demon was able, while he was alive to suck the essence from any creature, human, vampire or demon. He couldn't be killed so three powerful witches took it upon themselves to banish his essence to the demon wasteland, only leaving behind his shell which hasn't been seen for centuries. While there he fed off the essences of demons that came to the wasteland, only able to sustain himself in that reality."

"So what does he need the slayer essence for?"

"From what Wesley could find out it seems that if he feeds on a substantial amount of slayer essence at one time he will be strong enough to break out from the wasteland and reinstall himself in his original shell."

"So if that happens we just kill him right?" Faith asked.

"Or have him banished again?" Added Buffy.

"No and no!" Giles answered looking at both the slayers in turn. "The witches that banished him were killed in the process and the ritual needed to banish him died with them and once on this plane he absolutely cannot be killed while the slayer essence is inside him, to do so would destroy the essence of the slayers!"

"So what are our options boss?"

"Finding his shell and destroying it before he manifests will reverse the entire process. His essence will remain in the wasteland and any souls that don't belong there will be transferred back to their bodies, assuming their bodies are still alive. Or, once he is on this plane we find a way to magically strip the slayer essence from him. Once out in the open the essence will return to the rightful owners, again it depends of whether or not the bodies are still alive and since he needs the slayer essence to survive on this plane, without it he would immediately be transferred back to the wasteland."

"You keep saying that Giles, *If* the bodies are still alive, why wouldn't they be?" Buffy wondered out loud.

"Because once on this plane if Substantia Custos kills the comatose slayers their essence will no longer have anywhere to go and we will have no way of sending him back!"

"So if he gets to be a real boy the first place he's going to come is here?"

"Exactly Faith, so I propose we find his shell before that happens. All in favour?"

"Aye!" Shouted Xander from the doorway. "Sorry, door was open, couldn't help overhearing."

"I must warn you, if he does 'get to be a real boy' once he has gained enough power from stealing essences he also has the power to suck our reality into the reality of the demon wasteland!"

"Crap!" Faith, Buffy and Xander announced in unison.

Kennedy was beginning to get used to her surroundings such as they were. She was able to communicate with the slayers and pick out single voices from the mass. Despite her severely depleted form she found out that she could still feel fear and dread, a feeling she hadn't felt since becoming a slayer. To think I almost forgot what fear feels like.

"We have to get out of here!" One of the voices told Kennedy.

"We will, my girlfriend Willow, she's one hell of a witch, she'll have us out of here in no time!" Kennedy said reassuringly.

"Did you say Willow? A girl with a thick Texan accent asked. "I used to know a Willow before I was sent here. I forget her second name, I feel like I've been down here so long"

"Rosenberg, Willow Rosenberg. How do you know her.....? I'm sorry I don't know your name?" Kennedy asked the girl.

"We met a while ago in LA; she helped a friend of mine." The girl told her, the smile clear in her voice.

"Fred, is that you?"


Chapter nine

"Okay Giles, any idea how we go about finding Substance Customs shell?

"It's Substantia Custos Buffy and yes I have an idea!"

"Which is?"

"Once Willow arrives, which should be soon. I think a standard locator spell might do the trick."

"How long till she gets here?" Faith asked.

"A few hours time."

"So in the meantime I guess there's not much we can do?" Buffy enquired.

"No, you should try and get some rest; we are going to be quite busy once Willow gets here."

"I like that plan." Xander said with a smile.

"Not you Xander, I was hoping since you have already had a few hours you might help me with something?"

"Ah nuts!"

Xander tried not to glare at Faith and Buffy as they left the room laughing at is misfortune. If any of us should be sleeping right now it should be me. Slayers can function without sleep, me I'm no good without my eight hours!

"So Giles, what's on the agenda?"

"I want you to help Andrew in the computer lounge. He's working on a program that will identify any similarities between the comatose slayers. I'm hoping that if we can find some common denominator, we may be able to figure out the next intended victim!"

"Ok, what are you going to do?"

"Me, well, I have some calls to make." Giles replied sheepishly.

"Still afraid of computers aren't ya?" Xander asked with a smirk.

"Bloody terrified!"

"I cannot wait to get into a hot shower." Buffy exclaimed while rubbing the small of her back.

"You hurt B?"

"What? Oh, no, Eight hours on a plane is not good for my bones!"

"Well, a hot shower should do the trick, if not I could always give you a back rub!" Faith offered waggling her eyebrows.

"If the hot shower doesn't work I may have to take you up on that offer!"

Xander wandered into the computer lounge to find Andrew frantically tapping away on the computer keyboard. He couldn't help but notice how different Andrew looked. His hair was longer and he was wearing a suit and tie. He even thought Andrew seemed different, he seemed older, more mature than when he had last seen him.

"Hey Andrew, how's it going?"

"Arggggggg!" Andrew said jumping out of his chair. "My god Xander, never sneak up on a man in the middle of a computer program, I could have killed you!"

"Sorry!" Xander replied eyeing Andrew with a sudden uncertainty. "So, how *is* it going?"

"Okay I think, I'm almost finished writing the new programme. If there are any similarities between the girls we'll find out soon."

"Then what?"

"Then we compare that list with the information we have on the slayers that are not comatose, see if we get any matches!"

"Nifty." Xander nodded.

"Thank you Xander, so kind of you to say."

Ethan Rayne stood up wiping his bloody hands on a towel. He didn't mind killing but he hated when it was messy. Unfortunately this particular demon required only the internal organs of the human sacrifice. Ethan had thought about getting one of the remaining two chaps to do it but they looked close to passing out before he had even began. My last act of servitude, all there is to do now is wait. This is going to be fun.


Chapter ten

Willow got off the plane wondering if she would ever get Kennedy back. She hoped Giles would have some idea about what was going on and how to stop it. She lost Tara; she couldn't bear to loose Kennedy as well.

"Hmm, that is odd!" Andrew exclaimed with a confused look on his face.

"What?" Asked Xander.

"There's nothing!"

"Nothing, as in no pattern?" Xander asked trying not to panic.

"Exactly, we have no way of determining which slayer will be next! My god, this is really the end!" Andrew exclaimed dramatically.

Buffy got out of the shower and began to dry herself off. She wrapped the towel around her and walked through to the bedroom where Faith was lying on the bed reading some sort of comic.

"So, is a back rub still on offer or are you too engrossed in your comic?" Buffy asked.

"Sure thing B, we can't have you wandering about in pain." Faith answered taking in the sight of Buffy wearing nothing but a towel.

"So where do you want me?"

"The bed sounds like a plan B, you might want to loose the towel, I won't look I promise!" Faith told her with a grin.

Buffy looked at Faith and motioned at her with her finger to turn around while she wrapped the towel around her waist and lay down on the bed.

"Ok, Faith, rub away!"

Faith looked at Buffy lying on her bed and found her self staring intently at Buffy's bare skin. She was tanned and toned and the water that she hadn't dried off her properly glistened in the dull light of her room.

"Hey, this back isn't going to rub its self you know!" Buffy told her, the smile evident in her voice.

"Ok, right, I've got some baby oil in the bathroom, be back in a sec." Faith answered trying not to sound too flustered.

"I won't even ask why you have that!" Buffy shouted after her.

"Jeez B, perv much, it's good for keeping my skin soft!" Faith answered while climbing on top of Buffy.

"God Faith, have you put on weight?" Buffy teased.

"Hey, I'll have you know I am in peak shape, be a good girl and I might show you my abs later!"

"Be still my heart." Buffy answered as she relaxed into Faiths hands on her skin.

As Faiths hands slid over Buffy's back kneading all the right places, Buffy couldn't help feeling aroused. God it's been so long since anyone has touched me like this. She desperately wanted to roll over and pull Faith down onto her and capture her gorgeous lips in a kiss.

Faith couldn't believe she was finally getting her hands on Buffy, she had waited so long to touch her. She wanted to bend over and trace kisses all the way down her back but she was still so afraid of rejection. This is better than nothing I guess.

"Screw it!" Buffy exclaimed while rolling over to face Faith.

"What?" Faith asked puzzled.

Buffy reached up and pulled Faith towards her, kissing her softly before removing her lips from Faiths. She looked up to see Faiths reaction, pleased when she saw a smile creep across her sister slayers lips.

"Bout time B, I've been waiting for you to do that for some time!" Faith told her, still smiling.

"So, you do have feelings for me then?"

"Always have B, why do you think I was such a bitch to you?"

"I thought you hated me!"

"I only hated you cause I thought I could never have you!" Faith told her sincerely.

"Oh, right, so much clearer now!" Buffy told her as she moved in for another kiss.

Faith could feel Buffy's lips on her own, her tongue flicking over her top lip every now and again. She had fantasised about this moment for so long, it felt better than she could ever have imagined.

Buffy felt Faiths mouth open slightly and let her tongue slide into Faiths mouth, Faiths tongue flicked against her own in return. She heard Faith moan as she pulled away.

"B.......I want you, but......I'm not ready!"

"Huh, I thought that you'd have done this before, I mean not with me of course, I'd know if you done it with me, unless I was unconscious or something....

"B, you're babbling!" Faith laughed cutting Buffy off.

"Sorry, I just thought, you'd be, well, experienced." Buffy blushed.

"I am.....with guys but, I've never been with a woman before. I really care about you Buffy; I don't want to rush things."

"Okay Faith, we won't rush things. Tell you what, I'll put my Pj's on and we'll climb into bed, ok?"

"I said I wanted to take it slow, not come to a dead stop B!" Faith giggled

"Well, there could be kissing before lights out!" Buffy added with a grin.

"That's more like it, I've gotta shower first, then some more kissing!" Faith told her as she climbed off the bed and made her way over to the bathroom.

"Better make it a cold shower!" Buffy shouted after her laughing.


Chapter eleven

Giles looked up to see a flustered Andrew coming towards him followed closely by a bemused looking Xander.

"Giles, it's terrible, just terrible!"

"What's happened?" Giles asked nervously.

"There is no pattern, no similarities, nothing!"

"Oh. Are you sure that the program you built was working properly?" Giles asked.

"I beg your pardon? My program worked perfectly, I am quite the genius when it comes to that kind of thing thank you!" Andrew screeched.

"Fair enough, just asking, no need to get charged up about it Andrew. So Xander, we are trying to locate Substantia Custos's shell. Feel like helping?" Giles asked hopefully.

"Not really but hey, I got nothing else to do!"

"Andrew?" Giles turned to Andrew only to find him gone. "Bloody hell. I bet he's off sulking in the ancient relics department!"

"Should I go get him?"

"No, it's all right Xander he'll come back when he's finished acting like a menopausle woman!"

Faith lay on her back with Buffy firmly placed on top of her planting soft kisses on her mouth, she knew they should be getting some sleep but this was so much more fun. Still, she knew they were going to need their strength so Faith mustered all the resolve she could and broke away from Buffy's lips.

"Grrrr" Buffy grumbled. "Why are we stopping?"

"We need to get some sleep B. Big trouble coming, remember?" Faith teased.

"Fine, but tell me. Since when did you become all grown up about duty?" Buffy asked with mock puzzlement.

"Right around the time G-man gave me a chance to be more than a fighter. Now can we please get some sleep?"

"Sure, your lips will still be here when I wake up right?"

"Of course, unless the lip eating monster comes in while we are sleeping!" Faith answered sarcastically.

Buffy smiled as she snuggled into Faith ready to sleep for a short while. A feeling of calm enveloped her as she felt the rise and fall of Faiths chest against her cheek. Buffy fell into a peaceful slumber only to be transported to the dream world where the comatose slayers were waitng for her.

"Buffy, can you hear me?" A voice enquired.

"Is that you Kennedy?"

"In the lack of flesh, listen you have to get a message to Angel, tell him Fred is with us and please tell Willow not to worry, I'm ok. Still it would be nice of you people could get us all out of here sometime soon cause I'm getting.................."

Kennedy's voice trailed off a banging drowning out the sound of her thoughts.

"B, wake up" Faith whispered into Buffy's ear. "Willow's here.

"What, huh!" Buffy asked still sleepy.

"Willow, your best friend, remember me?" Willow asked waving from the doorway. "and whats going on with you two, all snuggly in bed together?"

"What, we weren't snuggling!" Faith snorted.

"It's ok baby, Willow already knew that I had feelings for you" Buffy soothed.

"Oh" Faith replied turning to see Willow grinning from ear to ear. "Ok, I'm going to get dressed and let you two talk!" Faith exclaimed before locking herself in the bathroom.

"I had a dream Will, I spoke to Kennedy!"

"Is she ok Buffy, please tell me she's ok?"

"She's fine, she wanted me to tell you that she's ok but would like to come home soon and I have to tell Angel that Freds there. Who the hell is Fred?"


Chapter twelve

Andrew sculked back to the research department. He felt like sulking somemore but he thought he should get back and offer to help. Besides, he thought without me this place would fall down around Giles very English head. Andrew walked into the room to find Giles and Xander sitting around a table covered in books. He jumped when Xander rose abruptly from his seat shouting Yippee.

"What is it Xander?" Giles asked, nodding in Andrews's direction as he made his way over to the table.

"This is him right, subsa who a whats it?"

"I believe so, excellent work Xander. Andrew could you translate this passage for me, perhaps it will offer us a location"

Andrew smiled and nodded. He knew only too well that Giles could speak Somalian. "Ok so it says......basically its says You will find his shell where he fell. It's like a little poem and just as cryptic!"

"No, it means where ever he was when the witches banished him is where his shell is!" Xander replied shaking his head.

"So all we need to do now is find out where that is!" Giles stated "Andrew, I believe Willow arrived a short while ago, she's gone to see Buffy"

"Ok, Gopher boy is on his way!" Andrew replied sarcasm evident in his voice.

Ethan sat before the stone shell of his master, waiting for him. He was begining to get drowsey when he heard a cracking noise. He looked up to see a red light shining through cracks in the shell. He's coming, this will be fun. Ethan rushed over and knelt at his master's feet, his head bowed. He felt a hand on his his head; he looked up to see Substantia Custos in the flesh.

"Finally my lord, I have waited for you, I have served you." Ethan panted.

"Yes, my son and you shall serve me further!" Substantia Custos growled as he pulled Ethan to his feet by his hair.

Ethan looked on in horror as the mouth on the human face of his master began to open, wider than any human mouth should. He could feel a tugging sensation deep with in him, pulling him from his body. Oh dear god, he's going to bloody eat me. The cheeky bastard!

Substantia Custos snapped Ethan's neck before dropping his lifeless body to the floor. He could feel the slayers souls inside him now, the pain and fear they felt wondering where they were, how they had been taken from the wasteland in the blink of an eye. Bathed in darkness, he could feel their souls trembling within him. He knew he had to act fast. Once he had disposed of their shells he would hold their trembling souls inside him forever.

Part 13

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