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Author's Note: This is a rewrite of the original episode; Listening to Fear, to account for Joyce's continued life in the series, and for Buffy learning about the madness increase without visiting the hospital. I made reference to some things in here; notably an event from another of my series, which I thought to include in here but does not need reading unless you want to (Absence, exclusive to my site); a future episode otherwise known as Normal Again; and I assume that Glory's second victim is an estate agent. My reasons for the latter is how else would she gain that nice apartment? It just seemed fitting to her character. Oh, and incase anyone is wondering, I figured Buffy would look after Elita (Dawn) even if she wasn't her sister, as in keeping to her character. The title is taken from a song by Texas. Enjoy.

Insane, Insane.

"Are you sure you're ready for what's to come?" He asked her.

The slayer nodded and knocked on the door. Swapping their serious expressions for nervous smiles, they buried their concerns about tonight as the door opened to admit them into 1630 Revello Drive.

"Hey, honey," Joyce Summers smiled and returned the hug her daughter gave her.

"Hey, Mom," Buffy replied before stepping back from the embrace to enter the house. She gazed cautiously about the hall as her mother greeted Angel.

"He's in the kitchen," Joyce informed them. "He's cooking dinner. Don't worry," she added at her daughter's look. "He's not a robot."

Buffy nodded but her slayer senses on full alert as she entered the kitchen. The man who turned round from the cooker had no idea she was checking that wasn't a demon or a vampire before he had even opened his mouth.

"You must be Buffy," He said, holding out his hand. "I'm Alex Bryne."

"Pleased to meet you," Buffy replied, shaking his hand, managing to discount vampirism as she felt the pulse within his wrist. Curiously she peered at the steaming saucepans. "What are we having?" She asked.

"Carbonara," he informed her. "I hope you and your boyfriend don't mind Italian," he added as Angel entered.

"I spent some time there," Angel replied while Buffy shook her head. "You?"

"I did a tour with Doctors Without Borders," Alex informed them. "I did wonder about the name," he added as he shook Angel's hand.

"It's short for Angelus," Angel replied. "After the devotion. My family were Roman Catholics," he explained, which was true, from a certain point of view.

"So you're a doctor?" Buffy sought.

Alex nodded. "I work at Sunnydale General," he explained. "Psychiatric wing."

"I'm surprised you have some free time," Buffy remarked as he dished up the meal into a serving bowl. "From what I've read in the papers."

"There has been an increase in admittance," Alex agreed. "Infact we're having to ask family members to take patients home due to overcrowding."

"Do you have any idea what's causing it?" Joyce asked as they sat down to table.

Alex shook his head. "We're beginning to wonder if it's not the first symptom of a disease," he replied. "None of the patients have a history of depression, or any other psychological troubles. And no one has a connection to the other." He paused to serve up his meal. "The first was a night watchman at one of the warehouses. The second was an estate agent."

"It's so terrible," Joyce sympathised. "All those poor people and their families, having no idea what's wrong with them."

"Yes," Alex agreed. "But I shouldn't be talking shop. So you're at Sunnydale UCA, Buffy," he began anew. Have you decided on a Major?"

"Not yet," Buffy replied. "But I'm thinking either Psychology or English Lit." She smiled. "But Giles might want me to take Mythology as well."

"Giles is your mentor," Alex sought and she nodded. "It's an unusual subject. It must be very fascinating."

"It is. And it's very broadly based," Buffy added. "It covers the origins of myths and legends from a lot of countries."

"You know, it was said that madness was once a plague from God," Alex remarked. "Sent to try the faithful. And that when it began to consume the world, a demon would be sent from the sky to quell the plague."

"And the victims," Buffy remarked, knowingly.

"And, Angel, you're a lecturer?"

"Yes, I teach Art History," Angel replied.

"Ah, do you draw yourself?"

"I do, but only for my own amusement," Angel replied.

"He draws beautifully," Buffy added. "On Valentine's day last year he gave me a drawing of a rose without a thorn. It looked so real I wanted to touch it."

"I see I'm gonna have to work hard to impress all of you," Alex remarked.

"Oh, don't worry," Joyce replied. "You already are, by caring for those patients. It must be very hard."

"Not hard, necessarily, but troubling," Alex replied. "You don't know whether to humour them or tell them its' not real. You have no idea how they might react to having their illusions destroyed or confirmed."

"Excuse me," Buffy uttered suddenly, standing up. "I need to fetch some more water. Anyone else?"

They shook their heads, but Angel's brooding gaze remained on his girlfriend as he watched her disappear into the kitchen. Without a word he got up and joined her.

"Buffy, is something wrong?" He asked her as he watched her carefully pour water into her half-full glass.

"No, nothing," Buffy replied.

Angel gently took the bottle out of her hands and put it back in the fridge. He closed the door and turned her, taking her hands in his. "You don't need to lie to me. Something disturbed you during that conversation, I know it."

"It's something which happened six years ago," Buffy replied. "But I'm not ready to tell it. At least not tonight."

"But you will tell me one day?" Angel asked her. "You know you can tell me anything, right?"

"I know," she replied. "And I know you will try to fix it. But there are some things I fear which have no cure."

And with those words she kissed his cheek before taking her glass and leading him back into the dining room.

 


"You know some of the stars we're looking at ... don't even exist any more? In the time that it takes for their light to reach us, they've died. Exploded."

Tara turned and smiled at her friend. "They always look alive to me."

"You know, I used to love to look up at them when I was little. They're supposed to make you feel all insignificant, but ... they made me feel like ... like I was in space ... part of the stars." Willow pointed up at one constellation. "There's ... Canis Minor ... and ...and Cassiopeia."

"And the big pineapple," Tara replied, pointing another.

Willow frowned. "Hmm. You know, I'm not sure I remember that one."

"Oh, it's, a major one. See those three bright stars right over there?"

Willow titled her head in the direction. "Yeah."

"And see those stars along there? That's the bottom of the pineapple."

"It's big," the redhead agreed.

"Hence the name. The real ones never made sense to me, I ... sort of have my own."

"What are the others called?" Willow asked.

"See those stars over there? 'Short man looking uncomfortable.' That's 'Moose getting a sponge bath.' 'Little pile of crackers.'"

Willow frowned.

"That was a bit of a stretch," Tara agreed. "You do it. What would you call ... mm, that one?" She pointed to a particularly bright star.

"Hmm, let's see," murmured Willow as she gazed into the night sky.

Suddenly the bright star enlarged in size and began streaking into a comet shape, heading towards the earth.

"A huge flaming meteor about to crash into something!" Willow cried and they quickly called the impromptu stargazing session to an end, in favour of rising to their feet and rushing off towards the crash site into the woods.

Had they been on the scene immediately, they would have seen the meteorite crash open in the ground, and a strange, unknown demon slither its way out of the wreckage, it's vision and nose questing for prey.

Fortunately for the beast, it's desires were soon satisfied.

A man who had recently been released from the hospital psychiatric wing, the night watchman Dr. Alex Bryne had mentioned to Buffy and her family would have been familiar to the slayer if she had seen his face. She would have remembered encountering him at the warehouse where she first fought blond woman dressed in red now known to the slayerettes as Glory.

"I know what I said. I said-I said I won't go away far. A person needs to respect a man," the man said to himself.

The beast slithered down the path it made behind him.

"And then it says ... that... the facts says... he's got to go take a walk and get some fresh air and find some fresh spaces."

Maybe it was the wind which made the tree bark crack or the slithering beast as it changed direction to find it's prey.

"...and some fresh space! And needs to walk to get ... to get where he's going."

Suddenly the man came to a halt as something dropped on to his back. The man screamed as the creature prepared him for quelling.

 


"So, what do you think?" Joyce asked.

Buffy turned from the dishes to hand one to Angel who began drying it as she replied to her mother. "He's nice," she decided, speaking of Alex Bryne, who had been called back to the hospital via a message on his pager.

"Good," Joyce remarked with relief, causing Angel to hide a grin.

"Definitely no vampire or demon," Buffy added, much to her mother's consternation. "And not a robot with drug infested food."

Joyce Summers shivered. "Don't remind me." She wanted to forget the last time she had brought someone home for Buffy to meet. She glanced at the kitchen clock as it struck the hour. "Are you meant to be patrolling tonight?"

"No, the boys; Oz, Xander, Doyle and Wes volunteered," Buffy informed her, handing another piece of china to Angel. "What with Glory they figured I needed a few nights off to recuperate."

"Glory," Joyce echoed. "Doesn't sound like a girl whose a demon incarnate."

"We don't even know if she is a demon," Angel added.

"Demons I can handle," Buffy remarked. "Glory is something different. Especially when we can't find a reference to her in the books."

"Not at all?" Joyce sought.

"Giles and Jenny haven't found anything yet," Angel confirmed. "The last theory they had was in line with Willow's and Tara's; that Glory existed before the written word."

"And Elita has no idea who she is?"

"To be honest, I haven't dared to ask," Buffy confessed, drying her hands. "She's so innocent in some ways, and in others so mature. I beginning to wonder if she's as ancient as Glory could be."

A musical sound emitted from the slayer's jacket, and Buffy put the towel to one side before fishing out her mobile. "Hello?"

"Buffy," Willow replied. "You better come up to the woods. Something landed. Literally. I'm calling the whole gang."

"Okay, we're on our way," Buffy replied before ending the call.

 


"Wow. We have meteorite," Willow announced to the slayer when she and Angel arrived some time later.

"Is it hot?" Anya asked. "'Cause, uh, if there's radiation, you could like go all sterile."

Xander, Doyle and Oz backed away, leaving Angel to join the resident Watchers as they examined the meteorite before them.

"No, it's not hot," Giles replied. "It's warm. And broken. It's sort of hollow."

"So, uh, we're all thinking the same thing, right?" Anya asked.

"Festive piñata? Delicious candy?" Xander mocked.

"Something evil crashed to earth in this and then broke out and ... slithered away to do badness," Willow remarked.

"In all fairness, we don't really know about the slithered part," Giles added.

"Oh, no. I'm sure it frisked about like a fluffy lamb," Anya commented sarcastically.

"Let's look around," Buffy began. "Maybe we can figure out where it went."

Eleven people separated from the strange gathering to delve deeper into the woods, searching for more evidence of the 'something evil.'

"It went here!" Cordelia cried, calling them all over.

The slayer was the first to step forward and examine the victim.

"No pulse," she announced grimly.

"Yep, the space lamb got him," Anya remarked.

"Anya," Giles said, disgusted. "Why did Spike let you come?"

"He told me I was being annoying," Anya replied.

"Miraculous," Giles muttered.

"I recognise him," Buffy announced as she studied the body under the helpful light of torches which everyone was carrying. "He's the night watchman from that warehouse where I first fought Glory. Mom's date said he was the first to be admitted to the hospital's mental ward."

"I don't see any marks on him," Oz uttered.

Angel bent down to join his soulmate in examining the body. "Anyone got a stake or something?"

"Angel, I'm pretty sure it's not a vampire," Wesley remarked.

"I know that," the souled half-vampire replied. "There's something in his mouth."

Wesley handed him a knife from patrol.

"Speaking of the hellmouth's usual undead population, how did tonight's patrol go?" Buffy asked.

"Five vamps," Doyle replied. "We all managed to dust one."

"Including me," Cordelia replied.

Angel meanwhile tentatively poked open the victim's mouth with the silver dagger. His investigation soon revealed a green slimy substance, which made everyone cover their noses and mouths at the sight and smell.

"Oh, that might be toxic, don't touch it," Wes advised.

"Oh yeah, touching it was my first impulse," Xander mocked. "Luckily I've moved on to my second, which involves dry-heaving and running like hell. Oh, man, does that smell."

"So what do we do now?" Anya asked.

"The usual," Cordelia replied. "Research, wait for more victims, flash of inspiration, then let Buffy do the slaying."

"Thanks, Delia," Buffy replied.

"Yes, 'cause it seems like we're always dealing with creatures from outer space," Anya commented. "Except that we don't ever do that."

"This is definitely new territory," Wesley agreed.

"Perhaps we should explore a bit more, head into the woods a bit," Doyle offered.

Eleven heads turned to gaze at the dark and uninviting woods, remembering previous encounters of demons there.

"Who votes research?" Xander asked. All raised their hands and turned in the other direction, heading towards civilisation.

"I don't wanna be the one who finds the evil any more," Willow informed Giles as they walked out of the woods.

 


"Cold. Cold."

Dr. Bryne's heart went out to the patient as he pulled the blankets up over his restrained body. He hated putting them in restraints, but lately it had become necessary as the patient's neurological conditions grew more violent.

"Wait! You can't go!" The patient implored as he walked away. "Don't you be that kind of barn owl! Please! Please don't go! Please!"

Reluctantly Dr. Bryne turned the light off and exited the room.

"Please! Please! Please don't..." the patient whimpered in fear.

If he had been sane, he would not have blamed the doctor for leaving, for the noises he heard and the things he saw where indeed within his imagination.

The doctor could not know that these noises would soon become audible to everyone.

"I can't see you! I can't see you! I can't see you!" The patient cried.

Above him the beast moved from side to side, slithering along the ceiling of the ward. Suddenly it dropped from the tiles to land on the patient. Cloven hands placed themselves on the chest, and it insect like mouth opened to retch cloudy slime upon the patient's face, squealing with the motion.

Outside, the nurses continued with their paperwork, while the doctors tended to other members of the hospital wards.

 


"Look at how teeny Mercury is compared to, like, Saturn. Whereas in contrast, the cars of the same name..."

Giles looked at him in exasperation. "Xander, please, we have work to do here."

"I still don't get why we had to come here to get info about a killer snot monster," Xander added as he came to sit beside the rest of the group.

"Because it's a killer snot monster from outer space," Giles replied. A momentary paused ensued as the words travelled from his ear to his brain. "I did not say that. Demons enter our world in all sorts of ways, this one came from above."

"And the university library's astronomy section is the home of aboveness," Xander added in sudden understanding. "Got it. Hey, take in the study material, too." He held up a book entitled 'Meteors & You.'

"We've been scouring all the international periodicals for any other meteorite landings in the last week," Tara informed Giles as she and Anya came up to the main table which the slayerettes had commandeered for the evening.

"Big zippo," Anya informed them.

"Well, then it would appear that the world is not being invaded," Giles concluded.

"I'm pretty pleased about that," Tara added.

"Mulder won't be, I just called him about the thing," Giles remarked. "Fortunately I only got his answering machine, so I can cancel the call out."

"Uh, guys?" Willow called out, causing everyone to glance up from their books, "I've got some stuff. The most recent meteoric anomaly was the Tunguska blast in Russia in 1917. Some witnesses claimed the meteor was hollow."

"Hmm. Maybe with a chewy demon centre," Oz remarked.

"How far back does this list of anomalies go?" Buffy asked her best friend.

"Pretty far. Back to the Queller impact in the twelfth century," Willow informed her.

"The what?" Tara asked.

"Queller," Willow repeated. "I don't know why they call it that, it didn't hit a place called Queller or anything. It landed just outside of Reykjavik in Iceland."

"Wait, I just saw..." Xander trailed off as he flipped back pages of the book before him. "Queller. Quell ... here, here! 'Primitive people used to believe that the moon was a cause of insanity. Sometimes they would pray to the moon to send a special meteor to fix the problem the moon had caused. These meteors were expected to 'quell' the madmen.'"

"Dr. Bryne mentioned that myth during dinner," Angel recalled.

"The man in the woods. He was a mental patient," Buffy added.

"And he got pretty well ... quelled," Xander continued.

Willow clicked her mouse a few times. "Okay, I'm looking in history right now. It says in the Middle Ages there were these sweeping plagues of madness. People were losing their marbles everywhere. But then it would suddenly subside. And these dates look pretty close. Like maybe it happened after each one of the meteor events."

"So something emerged from the meteors ... and quelled the madmen," Giles concluded.

"Meteor go boom, crazy guy goes bye-bye," Xander added.

"Xander's little book made it sound like this Queller thing had to be summoned," Anya remarked. "So ... who summoned it?"

"Who else? My money's on Glory, our resident beastie summoner," Xander decided.

"Any info on how you kill it?" Cordelia asked. "Not that I'm volunteering," she added. "One vampire was enough. At least they turn into ashes."

"Shouldn't be too difficult. Your basic stab and kill. Well at least it's smaller than the cobra," Buffy commented. "Judging by the size of the meteor."

"We'd better check the mental ward," Angel advised as they headed to the door. "That's where it's most like to go."

 


The hospital was strangely and eerily quiet as Buffy and Angel entered via one of the back doors for delivery nights; where he had helped her three years ago concerning such a occasion, to fight off the vampires who tried to steal the blood supplies.

Lights flickered on and off as they crept cautiously down the corridor, scanning signs anxiously for the mental ward.

"This way," Angel whispered, and he pressed the button to release the doors to the access controlled department.

Buffy took the lead, glancing upwards and downwards and everywhere else as the beam of light from Angel's torch brought the corners and shadows out of darkness. She came to a stop at one closed door and peered into the window within its frame.

Still, seemingly asleep patients greeted her eyes, and her hand reached down for the knob, using her strength to break the lock.

They entered ward, and Angel kept watch by the door as the slayer checked the beds. She touched the neck of each patient, searching for a pulse.

"Five are dead," she announced to Angel, before continuing to examine more.

Suddenly something dropped from the ceiling and landed on her face.

"Buffy!" Angel called out and dropped his watch as he rushed towards his girlfriend.

They slayer grabbed the Queller demon, struggling to throw it off her. Finally she slammed it against a wall.

Queller squealed and slithered away.

"Did it get you?!" Angel asked her, carefully shining the torch on her face so she wasn't blinded. Tanned clean skin greeted his relieved dark eyes.

Buffy slipped a dagger from the waistband of her jeans. She pointed upwards, and Angel cautiously turned to the torch to the ceiling.

For a while they encountered nothing. Then suddenly they caught sight of something dark, heading towards the door.

Darting across the room, Buffy jumped on to one of the beds containing a dead patient, using it as leverage to grab the demon from the ceiling, stabbing it with her knife.

Queller squealed as it dropped on to her back, making the knife go flying into the direction of a nearby wall. Hurriedly Angel caught it before it could make a mark, his vampire reflexes still active, and turned to locate the fight. Quietly he stealthily stalked the beast as it tried to attack the slayer, until he was close enough to stab it in the back. He thrust the knife in as deep as he could.

The demon squealed, then Buffy pushed it away from her, breathing heavily as it fell to the floor.

"You alright?" Angel asked her as soon as they established that the demon lying on the floor before them was quelled.

"Yeah," Buffy replied. "Thanks," she added.

"Anytime," he smiled at her, then dropped the torch to the floor to fish out the large bag which he had carried to contain the demon.

"Cordelia's right," Buffy remarked as she helped him store the beast into the bag. "At least vampires only leave ashes."

"Do you really think Glory summoned it?" Angel asked her as they tied the bag's opening into a knot.

"Why do you ask?" Buffy queried.

"Because it seems like the type of thing someone would do if they were covering up the mess she left behind. And from what we know of her,"

"Glory doesn't seem to care," Buffy finished her boyfriend's thought.

 


"Goodnight, Ben," Dr Bryne said to his intern as they two men came to a halt outside the hospital entrance.

"Goodnight, Doc," Ben replied before walking to his car. He unlocked the vehicle, glancing round himself nervously. He had the distinct impression that he was not alone.

Sure enough a voice spoke up from the back seat.

"It's strange," the minion who had handed Glory the last spell to summon a demon, remarked to Ben from the darkness of the back seat of his car. "A body might ask what exactly it is you think you're doing. He might ask what all this was meant to accomplish. Because to a humble postulant, it looks like chaos. Like unnecessary attention drawn where it ought not to be."

"Get out!" Ben cried at him angrily.

"Sir." Dreg obeyed, climbing out of the back and coming to a stand beside the door of the driver. "Sir, forgive me. I just want to understand. Why summon the Queller?"

"What do you think?" Ben replied. "Because I'm cleaning up Glory's mess. Just like I've done my whole damn life."

He drove off, leaving Dreg to gaze after him solemnly.

The End.
To Be Continued In.

Superstar.