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Author's Note: I know, its odd moving one episode forward a season, but Superstar didn't fit in my canon where it originally occurred, and I'm sure B/A shippers like myself preferred my replacement- Nutrisco et Extinguo. You'll notice that this is not an uncommon habit of mine, as I planned to swap a few more episodes, in this series and in Charmed. The episode does not differ too much from the original, except it minuses Riley, although it does refer to where he used to go in the canon at night. It also includes a lovely B/A scene in the opening and accounts for the continuity needs in Season Five. Enjoy.

Superstar.

"I'm sorry, I just had to get out. Hope you don't mind?"

Angel tightened his arm around her comfortingly as they headed further into the graveyard. "Beloved, why would I mind? You've been doing a lot lately; working hard on your courses, training, researching Glory and Elita. Not to mention patrolling. You've barely had time to babysit our godson."

"You beam when you mention Ellis, you know?" Buffy smiled at him from where her head rested against his chest as they walked down the path between the graves.

"Do I?" If it was possible for a souled-half-human vampire to blush, Angel did so. "I can't help it. When I see you spend time with him, and with my redemption so close, I can almost believe he's our child."

"Well, imagination gonna's have to do for awhile, honey," Buffy replied sadly. "I don't want to even think about children until we've finished with Glory. I couldn't risk her doing something to them. I worry about what she'll do to Elita and she isn't even related to me." She looked up at him. "Are you alright with that?"

"Of course I am," Angel assured her. "Buffy, I don't want children unless we're both ready. And when you have a few more rings on that finger of yours," he added, taking the digit which carried the claddagh ring into his mouth for a long, devout kiss. Buffy smiled at him, and stretched upwards to replace the finger with her lips. Angel's arms gradually caressed their way around her, as they forgot their surroundings.

A growl disturbed them from their romance, and the two chosen warriors parted to fight the vampire. The bald-headed undead beast leapt and spin, aiming a kick at that their heads, which they manage to dodge, darting away to surround him. Undeterred, the vampire rushed at the slayer, kicking her in the stomach, driving her back. He spun once more and backhanded her, catching her off-guard to knock her down. Angel pulled him off from rushing at her, only to receive a swipe in the face for his pains.

Buffy slowly rose to her feet, only to ambushed by another from behind, causing her to leave Angel to fight the first. He grabbed it in his arms, while wrestling with it, why the slayer kicked the other to the floor.

"Stake," Angel called out to her, and she grabbed one from her pocket swiftly aiming at the restrained vampire's chest. Maybe it was because of her overworked energies lately, or something else, but the slaying, though it succeeded, was not as clean as usual.

As it turned into dust, they glanced around for the other prone vampire, only to find it running off towards a large crypt. Buffy handed the stake to her soulmate before fetching another, and then they cautiously followed the vampire.

Like many of the crypts in Sunnydale cemeteries, this one led deeper underground. The two warriors descended the staircase into the darkness, until they reached the foot. Sounds could be heard from behind the door which lay before them. Stealthily the slayer raised a hand to push it aside.

The sight which met them was nothing the slayer had seen before. Vampires feeding on living humans from all walks of life. The place seemed suddenly transformed into the Opium dens of old, only this time the consumers had a found a much deadlier addiction.

Angel was the first to pull her back. "There's too many," he whispered.

"You're right," Buffy sighed. "You know who we need."

 


The solution was all the way across town, in the salubrious neighbourhood where Crawford street and other affluent houses were located.

Buffy and Angel knocked on the door, and after a short delay were admitted inside. Following the manservant into the formal study, they greeted the owner of the house.

"Uh, hi. We have a problem," Buffy began nervously. She hated to bother him, but it was necessary.

The black leather chair behind the desk spun round to reveal a small man dressed in tailored turtle neck and trousers. Patiently the warriors awaited his answer.

"Sounds like you could use my help," Jonathan remarked.

 


"No, a little more to the left."

Giles grimaced, but reluctantly obeyed. "Remind me how I got roped into this again?" he asked aloud as he adjusted the banner.

"'cause you're the only one who can spell, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Gurnenthar's Ascendance, properly," Spike remarked, reading aloud from the banner which the watcher was hanging in the Magic Shop. "And you summoned a meeting of Jonathan and his fluffy battle kittens here," he added.

"And so it begins," Giles muttered as he stepped down. "Crass holiday commercialisation, enters the domain of the hellmouth once more."

"Oh. Who ordered more chickens' feet? The ones we have aren't moving at all," Anya remarked as she opened the first box of the stock delivery which arrived that morning.

"That's generally what happens when you cut them off the chicken," Xander mocked from his position beside her.

"I'm serious," Anya replied. "Maybe we could do a ... holiday promotion. One free with every purchase!"

Spike scowled, while Giles remarked, "oh, yeah. Dear holiday memories. Merry tykes by the fire, enjoying their new Christmas ... chicken feet."

"Aw, holding them tight as they fall asleep. Painting their little toenails," Willow added, making Giles, Xander and Spike grin.

Anya's expression was more insulted. "That's so very humorous. Make fun of the ex-demon! I can just hear you in private. 'I dislike that Anya. She's newly human and strangely literal.'

Willow frowned. "Anya, I don't say that. No one says that. No one talks that way."

"There's nothing wrong with my idea anyway. I've been very good for this store. If it wasn't for me, Spike would be a terrified vampire staring at a quarterly tax statement and wetting himself."

"If it wasn't for you, luv, I might actually get some other customers in here aside from the Jonathanettes," Spike remarked.

"Anya, you've helped out a lot, but I have too," Willow argued.

"Yes, I forgot about all the vigorous sitting around," Anya returned.

"An, you can back off a little," her boyfriend remarked. "You get paid. Willow's doing this on her own time."

"I'm sorry, Willow," Anya uttered with a false smile. "Thank you for making time in your busy life to come in here and get in the way of mine."

"An, play nice." Xander said, annoyed.

"You know, fine, take her side instead of mine even though I'm the one who sleeps with you and feeds you, bathes you..."

"She bathes you?" Willow asked Xander.

Her best friend blushed. "Only in an erotic, Penthouse-y way, not in a sponge-bath-y geriatric sort of..."

Giles held up a hand. "Please! Stop, I beg of you."

The shop bell jingled as the door opened to admit the rest of the gang, making everyone turn round, and thankfully for Giles, drawing the conversation to a halt.

Buffy and Jonathan headed the procession. "Thanks for doing this Jonathan," she was saying to him, "I wouldn't ask but..."

"Hey don't worry about it," the man remarked. "Nest full of vampires, you come get me, ok. Box full of puppies, that's more of a judgement call."

"So what is this all about?" Giles asked her.

"I need to find out everything I can about a vamp nest downtown," Buffy replied.

"A nest? What sort of nest?" Wesley queried.

"There were people there," the slayer replied. "It, um, it looked like they were paying vampires to bite them."

"Now I know what to get for the person who has everything!" Xander mocked.

"Who would pay to get bitten?" Tara asked.

"Oh, that's been going on for centuries," Anya informed them. "Humans hire vampires to feed off them, they, well, you know, they get off on the rush."

"And the ... hazards of the underworld can become addictive to ... some people," Giles answered self-consciously.

"Why don't the vampires just kill 'em?" Xander asked.

"Because they get cash, hot and cold running blood, and they don't leave any corpses behind so they don't get hunted," Anya explained.

"But still, it can be terribly dangerous for humans," Giles added. "I mean, people can end up dying accidentally, or, or meeting a, a vampire who only pretends to play by the house rules."

Buffy frowned at him. "You knew this sort of thing went on? You knew about this and you didn't tell me?"

"I hadn't seen it since my Ripper days. I had no idea it was going on in Sunnydale," Giles replied apologetically. "Even if I had known about this, I might not have told you right now."

"What? Why?" Buffy asked him.

"Well, I'm not sure this is where your efforts are best spent. Perhaps you should focus on ... a less ambiguous evil. Glory, for instance?"

"You said people are dying," Buffy uttered, confused.

"They're willing victims. I mean, there are people out there who deserve your help who aren't," Giles replied. "Jonathan, back me up here."

"Rupert is right, Buffy," Jonathan replied. "Glory should be your main priority right now." Seeing her frown, he added, "but vampires are vampires. And your job description is pretty clear. If we're going into a nest, maybe we should come up with a strategy. Willow, Oz, get on the net, hack into the schematics for the crypt."

The shop bell rang noisily as the group settled into the chairs surrounding the large circular research table. Spike looked towards the customer, only to smother a growl of annoyance as he noticed the latest edition of Jonathan's biography tightly clutched to her chest.

"Hi, could you please?" The girl asked the star.

"Sure," Jonathan smiled and signed the book.

"Thank you," the girl uttered before rushing outside to her friend, whom, much to Spike's annoyance, also entered on the same quest.

"You're Jonathan Levinson! Oh my god! Oh my god! My name is Karen and I think you're.. You're wonderful! Oh my god!" Karen gushed.

"Hi Karen, thank you," Jonathan was all that is the gracious celebrity. "Oh, is that my book? Well I could,...."

"Yeah please I-I didn't want to bother you! It's Karen with a K!"

"No problem," Jonathan answered, signing it for her.

"Thank you!... So much!!! Thanks!" Karen gushed before rushing out of the shop.

"Thanks so much for visiting my shop, Jonathan," Spike mocked in a intimation of the fan's voice. "It's so quiet when you're not here."

"Spike, sarcasm never pays," Jonathan remarked.

"Oh Jonathan, we're in," Willow uttered, and he came to stand behind her. "Schematics for the crypt, part of the original plan for the cemetery, sometime there's a ... Oh no back way in, just the one entrance."

"Well, maybe we could make it work for us," Buffy volunteered. "We could stake out the entrance you know, uh, maybe use a decoy, lure them out."

"Or I bet..., there!" Jonathan pointed to something on the screen. "We can get in that way."

"Oh of course, why didn't I think of that," Willow remarked.

"I'm sure you would have," Jonathan assured her. He turned to the others. "I think we have a plan. Buffy, you go in first, let em get a look at the slayer. Angel, you follow her. Xander, Willow, Oz, Tara, Cordelia, Doyle and Anya you back up Buffy. I'll be the surprise guest. Everyone lets show these fiends that they came to the wrong town."

 


Deep inside the crypt, a vampire sent away his last customer, just before an arrow came from the darkness, transforming him into dust. Alarmed, the other vampires abandoned their meals, while the rest of their clientele headed for the nearest exit, as the slayer and her slayerettes entered the room.

A loud crash made the vampires turn round, as a figure landed on the floor, having entered via the skylight. Jonathan fired another arrow, slaying another vampire.

The others decided to charge, just as Jonathan aimed for a third. Buffy and Angel managed to take one each, while the Scoobies grappled with the others. Concentrated fighting gradually took out each one of the vampires, until one brushed past the slayer, slapping the stake out of her hands.

Jonathan dropped fluidly into a one knee stance and fired his crossbow, catching the vampire square in the back.

"I should have gotten that one," Buffy mourned as she retrieved her stake.

"You got three of them," Jonathan reminded her. "And that second one was ready for you. You should feel pretty good."

"But I let one get by me," Buffy uttered.

"Don't worry. You know it only matters that you do your best." He patted her shoulder as he walked past her, heading out of the crypt into the glare of cameras, owned by the fourth estate, who had found out where Jonathan was that night.

"But that's just it," Buffy uttered as she and rest followed the celebrity out, "I don't think it was my best."

"Hey, Jonathan, over here, quick photo, please another one, right here," the press called out.

Jonathan posed, then brushed them away. "Ok guys that's enough."

"I think did great," Xander remarked. "We knocked 'em dead. Which they already were."

"They weren't very well organised," Anya added. "If they had all rushed at Buffy they could have killed her right away."

"Thanks Anya. That won't keep me awake all night," Buffy returned sarcastically.

"Vampires only form nests to make hunting easier. They're not big on the cooperation. They mostly like to hang out all creepy and alone in the shadows," Jonathan reminded them.

"I'll be better next time," Buffy remarked determinedly.

"That's the spirit," Jonathan uttered. "If you really want it you can make anything happen."

 


While the official, paid stalkers halted at Jonathan's door, the unofficial non-paid fans, such as Karen with a K, preferred to spy with binoculars at the windows of his impressive mansion later that day, as night settled on the Hellmouth.

"Where are you Jonathan? Are you like, never home?"

Suddenly her view was blacked out, and she lowered the binoculars, expecting to see a security guard telling her to leave.

Except this was no security guard. Unless monsters now charged for killing people. Karen with a K screamed as the beast swiped at her, clutching her with his hand. Blindly she swung her binoculars at him, until he released her. Dropping them, she ran off through the grass, anxious to find her hero to rescue her.

 


"Did not," Anya protested to her boyfriend as they and the rest of the Scoobies entered the Bronze.

"Last night with me you said Jonathan," Xander insisted, before silently acknowledging his bar staff's greetings.

"It was a moan!" Anya protested.

"Fine! You moaned Jonathan!" Xander corrected.

"Not unh! It was like unnh-unnh-atha." Anya replied.

"Maybe it was ahh-onathan. Still not fluffing up the old ego," Xander remarked.

"Could you guys lay off," Cordelia ordered. "Jonathan's about to sing."

The Scoobies turned in the direction of the stage, as the main spotlight focused on tonight's headliner.

"Good evening everyone," Jonathan uttered. "I'd to dedicate this to some friends of mine. Everyone needs a friend in their lives and you're the best." He began to sing. "When I hear that serenade in blue, I'm somewhere in another world alone with you. Sharing all the joys we used to know Many moons ago. Once again your face comes back to me. Just like the theme of some forgotten melody In the album of my memory. Serenade in blue. Seems like only yesterday A small cafe, a crowded floor. And as we danced the night away I hear you say forever more. And then the song became a sigh. Forever more became goodbye. But you remain in my heart. Tell me darling is there still a spark. Serenade in blue."

The crowded nightclub broke out into applause as the song came to an end. Jonathan bowed, then picked up his trumpet, sounding out an intro.

"Oh my god!" Cordelia cried. "He's going to do something off the new album."

"Xander," Anya remarked, her eyes never leaving Jonathan's form.

"Yeah." Xander's eyes were also fixed on the star.

"Let's go have sex now."

Xander's gaze did not move. "Yeah, ok."

Finding each other's hands, they walked off together in the direction of his office, never taking their eyes from the stage and Jonathan until the last possible moment.

Suddenly someone grabbed the slayer's arm, making her turn round.

"Oh!" Buffy uttered, recognising her as one of the fans who had visited the Magic Shop earlier that day. "What is it? Are you ok?"

Jonathan stopped singing, and joined them. "Karen, that's your name isn't it? I signed my book for you. Tell me what hurt you, Karen. I can help."

 


A few hours later, and the Scoobies gathered at Jonathan's mansion, awaiting the star's instructions, as he comforted Karen with a K by the fireplace.

"Let's get you warmed up," he uttered.

Buffy turned as one of Sunnydale's finest entered the room. "What's going on, why are you here?"

"Mr. Levinson, someone on your staff reported a disturbance," the policeman informed him. "When I realised it was on your property I thought I'd better come down in person."

"That's all right, sergeant. I have it under control," Jonathan assured him.

The officer was much relieved. "Of course, sir. Glad to see you're alright."

Jonathan turned to his fan. "Karen, I know you're scared, but I need to hear your description again."

"It was ugly - big ugly - all bent over sort of with these... huge arms and like... scabs and stuff."

Jonathan stroked her arm consolingly. "That must have been very frightening. I'm so sorry."

"Oh! Oh! I forgot. It had a mark!" Karen cried.

"A mark?" Jonathan echoed.

"On it's forehead, like a symbol," Karen explained.

"Here," Doyle uttered, handing her a notepad. She drew a triangle with a six pointed star within it. Then she handed it to Jonathan.

The star took the notepad and stared at the sketch. "Well. This is a clue," he uttered less like his usual confident self.

"Jonathan?" Buffy queried.

He strove to calm himself. "I've heard of this. It's not a demon, just a monster not much more than an animal. It sticks to the woods, doesn't come near populated areas."

"But it did this time, it might again," Buffy objected. "Maybe we should patrol."

"Actually I think Karen simply startled it. Probably more afraid of you then were of it. I'll patrol but you don't need to worry about it. I can handle it on my own. Now let's see about getting Karen a ride home."

 


"Oh magnificent, bounteous, Glory," Dreg remarked. "I wished to humbly inform you, that there seems to be a new powerful force within the neighbourhood. His name is Jonathan."

Dreg turned on the television, where The Matrix was just starting, with Jonathan in the headline role.

"These are lies," Glory remarked. "None of this is real. The world has been changed. It's intriguing but it's wrong."

"Begging your pardon oh Glorious one, but the world seems normal to me," Dreg uttered.

"You're under his spell just like the others," Glory replied. "I seem to be the only one who is not."

"My esteemed beautiful one is as always right," Dreg simpered. "How might we kill this lowly creature who dares to claim your glory?"

"We don't need to do anything. These magic's are unstable, corrosive. The slayer should take care of him, if she has any sense. Gives us time to look for key."

"Of course, oh brightly intuitive one," Dreg uttered.

 


At a mansion further up the road, a man stared silently into the vast expanse of his hearth, thoughtful and almost morose.

"Jonathan," a Nordic voice called out from the balcony above. "Aren't you coming to bed?"

"Yeah it's getting late," her identical companion uttered beside her.

"Be right there," Jonathan uttered before rising from his seat. He removed the robe he was wearing, revealing to the fiery flames a symbol scarring his left shoulder blade.

A six pointed star surrounded by a triangle.

 


"I'm glad you're ok," Willow remarked to her best friend as they, Tara and Cordelia walked across campus grounds the next morning. "Everyone in the Bronze was pretty freaked out after you left."

"So I guess you have go fight this thing, hunh?" Tara asked.

"All the weapons are at Giles,'" Willow reminded them. "It shouldn't take too long."

"No go," Buffy uttered.

"Did you just say no go?" Willow queried in surprise.

"Jonathan did," Buffy explained. "He said it was some brainless beasty and that he would take care of it himself."

"Oh, cool," Willow uttered.

"I guess. I don't know he just... he seemed a little scared," Buffy uttered as she recalled Jonathan's expression last night.

"Buffy this is Jonathan," Cordelia remarked. "You know he doesn't get scared. You talked about it when you gave him the Class Protector Award at the prom."

"You're right," Buffy agreed.

"My exit," Tara announced, pointing to her lecture hall. "I'll see you this afternoon."

"Yeah," Buffy answered, still preoccupied with the events of the night before.

Tara smiled at them all before entering the building. She had not walked far before she heard a noise. Concerned, she hurried, anxious to be with people again. She brushed through the double doors infront of her, only to be confronted by the monster. The best raised his hand and slapped her violently, sending her to the floor.

Tara slid on the tiled floor, holding her hands out protectively. Searching for a place to hide, she ran into the janitor's closet nearby. Huddled, she waited for the pounding on the door to stop before getting her mobile out of her jacket and calling for Spike.

 


"What's going on?" The slayer uttered as the bleached blond vampire let her into Tara's bedroom on campus some time later. "Oh my god," Buffy uttered as she caught sight of Tara's small wounds.

"She's gonna be ok, but she's terrified," Spike informed her as he gathered his girlfriend into arms, sitting beside her shivering form on the bed.

"What happened? What did this?" Buffy asked.

"She phoned me from the Janitor's closet. I closed up shop and came straight away," Spike explained. "I found her and carried her back here."

"Tara, what did this?" Buffy asked her as she knelt before them.

"It was big, lumpy. had something on its - on its head. Like a Greek letter only not," Tara explained.

Buffy grabbed the writing paper nearby and drew the symbol she had seen Karen with a K draw the night before. She showed it to her friend. "This, was it this?"

Tara nodded. Spike looked at it. "Is this that symbol which was on that beast who attacked one of Jonathan's kittens last night?"

"Yep. The one which Jonathan said he would take care of." Buffy glanced at the symbol. "I'll take care of this, you two stay here."

 


"Xander's not here," his girlfriend remarked as Buffy entered his apartment.

"Oh," Buffy uttered.

"You're not going away. Why aren't you going away?" Anya asked.

"Oh I was kind of hoping to look at some of Xander's stuff," Buffy explained.

"Oh. Sure. Come on in. Make yourself at home. And so on."

She returned to her couch and took up her book, Jonathan's latest biography.

"May I ask you something? Does it every seem just a little strange that Jonathan is so good at everything?" Buffy asked her.

Anya shrugged as if the thought had never occurred to her. "He's Jonathan." She turned to her book, but Buffy grabbed the volume. "Hey! I was just at the part where he invented the internet."

"Anya, he fights better than I do. And I'm the slayer." Buffy pointed to herself. "The Slayer! That's supposed to mean something, right?"

"Oh! buck up you," Anya replied unconvincingly "You kill the best. Go you. Kill, kill."

"Actually not needing validation right now, but thank you. He just seems too perfect." She sighed. I don't know."

"So I can have my book back?" Anya asked.

"Anya when you were a demon, you granted wishes right?" Buffy asked.

"Vengeance wishes on ex boyfriends. I'd wish he was a dog, or ugly, or in love with president McKinley or something."

"But someone could wish the whole world to be different right? That's possible?"

"Sure, alternate realities. You could have like a world without shrimp. Or with, you know, nothing but shrimp. You could even make like a freaky world where Jonathan's some kind of not perfect mouth breather, if that's what's blowing up your skirt these days. Just don't ask me to live there! Now if I, uh, could just have book back you could be on your way someplace else?"

"Here," Buffy handed the book to her and exited the apartment.

 


"I'm just saying it doesn't make any sense. He starred in The Matrix but he never left town. And how'd he graduate from Med. school? He's only nineteen years old."

"Effective time management?" Xander offered.

"I'm sorry, Buffy, I just don't understand what you're trying to say," Giles said.

"Yeah and when is Jonathan going to get here and start the meeting?" Anya asked, annoyed that she had been dragged away from her book into Giles' apartment.

"This is the meeting," Buffy replied.

"This is the meeting?" Willow echoed.

"Well, I was just kind of wondering if maybe anyone thought that Jonathan was kind of too perfect?"

"No he's not!" Xander cried. " He's just perfect enough! He crushed the bones of the master, he blew up a big snake made out of the mayor and he coached the U.S. women's soccer team to stunning World Cup victory! We saw him doing those things!"

"But that's just it. I'm not entirely sure that we can trust our memories," Buffy objected. "Anya, tell them about the alternate universes."

"Oh ok. Umm. Say you really like shrimp a lot. Or we could say you don't like shrimp at all. Blah I wish there weren't any shrimp you would say to yourself."

"Stop, you're saying it wrong! I think that Jonathan may be doing something so that he's manipulating the world and we're all like his pawns," Buffy replied.

"Or prawns," Anya offered.

"Stop with the shrimp, I am trying to do something here!" Buffy cried.

"Of course, but it may be a little out of your depth," Giles remarked.

"I'm not," Buffy insisted. "I think Jonathan might be ignoring evidence. I think he might have let Tara get hurt."

"On purpose?" Willow asked.

Buffy shook her head. "No! No."

"How did he ignore evidence?" Giles asked.

"The monster had a mark on it. Jonathan saw it and he kind of..." she searched for a suitable word. "Blinked."

"He blinked?" Xander cried incredulously. "The man moistened his eyeballs and we're having a meeting about it."

"He knows something about the monster. He was reacting to the mark." Suddenly she stopped. "Oh!!! Wait, I remember something. Giles, do you have a Jonathan swimsuit calendar?"

"No," Giles protested.

"Jenny?" Buffy asked, frowning in confusion.

Giles sighed, and saved his wife the trouble of answering. "Yes. It was a gift." He retrieved the item in question.

Buffy flipped through the months. "No. No. Whoah! No. There."

"Oh, my," Cordelia uttered.

"Yeah. Pretty darn lickable," Anya added.

"No, that," Buffy pointed to the scar on the model's left shoulder blade.

"Why would Jonathan have the same mark as the monster?" Angel asked.

"I don't know," Buffy uttered. But he's definitely keeping......"

Whatever she was going to say next was lost, for Jonathan entered the apartment.

"Is this a private conversation... or can Mr. July sit in?"

"Hi. Buffy was just saying how you had a monster cut up Tara," Anya replied.

"Buffy?" Jonathan frowned.

"No!" Buffy cried. "It's just ... the mark. You said it was safe.. and it wasn't. I'm sorry. I just don't understand."

"Then I'll explain. Buffy is right."

"No!" Oz uttered in shock.

"I do have a history with the creature. The monster. The problem is every time I face it my mind becomes sort of confused. There's some kind of power it possesses."

"Ooh! He's like your Kryptonite," Xander offered.

"Maybe. I just knows it takes all my energy to try and fight the confusion. That's why I had his mark tattooed on me so that I wouldn't underestimate it next time."

"This does explain everything," Giles remarked.

"I knew you wouldn't do anything on purpose," Xander added.

"Me too! And that whole alternate universe thing was too freaky!" Willow cried.

"Jonathan, let's go after the monster. Right now, you and me," Buffy suggested.

"I'm sure it's left town by now," Jonathan replied. "That's been it's pattern."

"We can try," Buffy insisted.

"Sure. Let's do that," Jonathan uttered cautiously, before following her outside.

 


"These spells... these really work? I mean, can you really turn your enemies inside out? Or... learn to excrete gold coins?" Elita asked the Scoobies at Giles apartment.

"That one's not so much fun," Anya uttered.

"They work but they take concentration," Jenny explained. "Being attuned with the forces of the universe."

Xander nodded. "Right you can't just go librum incendere and expect...." he trailed off as the book he was study burst into flame. Surprised, he slammed the book closed, putting out the fire before it could do further harm.

"Xander, don't speak Latin in front of the books," Giles told him.

"Hey, I found the mark," Willow cried. "It's part of an augmentation spell." She gasped, concerned. "Jonathan did an augmentation spell."

"What, did he have, do?" Elita asked.

"Him! And how we see him. This spell turns the sorcerer into a sort of paragon, the best of everything, everyone's ideal. But there's a drawback."

Giles rose and read the rest of page within the opened book before her. "Yes. In order to balance the new force of good the spell has to create the opposing force of evil, the worst of everything, everyone's nightmare."

"He created the monster," Jenny concluded.

"So we're saying he did a spell just to make us think he was cool?" Xander asked.

"Yes," Giles confirmed.

"That is so cool!" Xander cried.

"Giles, Buffy and Jonathan are going after this nightmare thing. Are they going to be ok?" Angel asked him.

"It seems that the well being of this creature is linked to Jonathan. If it dies the spell is broken and Jonathan reverts to... whatever he was before," Giles replied.

"Jonathan isn't gonna want Buffy to get very far," Anya uttered.

 


Sure enough as Buffy and Jonathan entered the creature's alleged temporary, they were confronted with a seemingly impassable barrier; otherwise known as a very deep hole.

"Wow! Fall down there and be dead for a while," Buffy uttered.

"Yeah," Jonathan remarked, glancing at her. "Don't want that to happen." Slowly he reached out and grabbed hold of her wrist. "Come on. We've got a monster to..."

His last word was cut off as the beast appeared out of the darkness. Growling he struck Jonathan, sending him flying over the pit. The star fell unconscious on the other side.

The beast roared.

Buffy gulped.

 


"Buffy was right," Willow remarked. "Buffy was right."

"It doesn't sound very likely, does it?" Anya said.

"So if this is the world he created, what's the real world like?" Elita asked.

"I'm scared. Everything's going to change," Willow uttered.

"Well, actually it'll remain pretty much the same," Giles replied. "Except Jonathan won't be Jonathan - not our Jonathan, anyway."

"No! No! No!" Xander cried. "World without sunshine! World without joy!"

"But wait, it only changes back if Buffy kills this thing!" Cordelia cried. "I mean if she loses then we could be stuck in this wrong world forever!"

"Things looking up!" Xander decided. "I mean - we're all happy here right? You know if she doesn't get killed?"

"Giles, can Buffy do it?" Willow asked.

"I honestly don't know. She's never stood alone against something like this before."

 


Jonathan came to and rose from the floor of the cave. He advanced towards the area where the slayer was fighting the beast.

Suddenly he caught Buffy off guard and she tumbled. Jonathan grabbed hold of a stalactite, breaking off a piece to strike the monster with it. He hit the beast again, sending it to the floor. He struck him a third time as Buffy recovered.

"Jonathan, what do I do?" She asked.

"I think you're going to have to handle this one solo," Jonathan answered.

"What?" Buffy looked at him confused.

"You'll know, you used to," Jonathan replied, kicking the demon. "And the more you hurt it, the more I'll lose my.."

"What? Lose your..." Buffy stopped as he spun the monster towards her. Reacting, she tripped the beast, sending it to the floor. Behind him, Jonathan shuddered before seeking a nearby rock to conceal himself.

The beast rose but she struck out with her arm, making it fall again. "I remember this. This good." She struck the monster again, but this time it sent her to floor. As it charged towards her prone form, Buffy raised her legs, aiming them to it's chest, kicking it away from her.

Jonathan emerged from his hiding place as the beast backed away, before charging the slayer again. Silently he tackled it from behind, sending it over Buffy and into the pit. The force of the blow sent him following it.

Buffy grabbed his heel, saving his life, while the beast fell to his death.

Outside a great wave of light swept over the hellmouth, changing billboards, newspapers, movie marquees.

Super stardom was at an end.

 




"I can't believe we believed it," Willow remarked to the Scoobies the next morning as they assembled on campus.

"It seemed so real," Tara agreed.

"Well, in that world, it was real," Buffy reminded them.

"Alternate realities are neat," Anya uttered.

"You know what I'll always remember?" Xander remarked.

"The swimsuit calendar's sticking in my mind," Angel muttered. "And not in a good way."

"I'll always remember the way he made me feel about me. Valued, respected, sort of tingly," Xander paused to sigh. "Now I'm just empty."

"Poor Xander," Buffy commented. "I guess Jonathan hurt you most of all. Except of course, after Tara."

"I liked his clothes," Xander uttered. "He had really cool clothes."

Willow nodded. "Still not understanding how he got the house and everything."

"And who really did star in The Matrix?" Anya asked.

Buffy didn't hear who answered, she walked over to Jonathan, whom she caught sight of from across the campus.

"Hi," he greeted her. "I wasn't sure you'd come over. Everyone's mostly forgetting. But, I think some people are kind of angry."

"Yeah!" Buffy answered feelingly.

"Nobody's even talking to me. And the twins moved out."

"Why did you do it anyway?" Buffy asked. "No. I get why. How?"

"After the thing with the bell tower and the gun, I went to counselling. You know other kids with problems and one of them had this spell. He glossed right over the monster. Well, anyway I just wanted to apologise. Nobody was supposed to get hurt."

"Jonathan, you get why everyone is angry though, right? It's not just the monster. People didn't like being the little actors in your sock puppet theatre."

"You weren't!" He cried. "You weren't socks! We were friends."

Buffy shook her head. "Jonathan, you can't keep trying to make everything work out with some big gesture all at once. Things are complicated. They take time and work."

"Yeah, you're right," Jonathan replied sadly. "But I've never been very patient."

Buffy sighed as she watched him walk away, wondering if he ever would understand.

 


"I've gotta say something," Xander announced to Anya as they walked away from group to her next class. "'Cause ... I don't think I've made it clear." He came to a halt before her. "I'm in love with you. Powerfully, painfully in love. The things you do, the way you think, the way you move." He smiled at her. "I get excited every time I'm about to see you. You make me feel like I've never felt before in my life. Like a man." He paused before adding, "I just thought you might wanna know."

Anya smiled at him before catching his lips in hers.

The End.
To Be Continued In.

Triangle.