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Author's Note: I have changed very little in this episode, aside from extending the length and the beginning and end scenes, the latter of which resembles the original episode which welcomed Anya; The Wish. I have also used some dialogue from that episode in other scenes. As for Living Conditions the episode might show up later on in this series. Enjoy.


Scorned Plague.


She was not herself. Buffy knew that for certain. Nothing else could be possible, for she had no recollection of dying her hair black and acquiring new green eye contacts into the bargain. Yet the reflection which faced her in the mirror felt as though it belonged to her, the source from a deep feeling penetrating the inner recesses of her mind. However, as she stared into the mirror, she experienced what felt then as an unusual sensation of separation from herself.

An out of body state which could be put down to stress, lack of sleep, food, fluids, or all of the above. Despite this her thoughts possessed enough presence of mind to allow herself to identify her current surroundings, where they received another surprise; she was in a nightclub.

The Bronze, to be precise, she silently concluded as she recognised the mocha and latè furnishings which now adorned the seating areas, their light shades a contrast to the darkness that surrounded the mirror she was standing before. Just as with herself, she also felt a separation with these surroundings too, for a part of her was sure she had just fallen asleep in her boyfriend's arms a few minutes ago.

As opposed to the boyfriend she was watching now, via the reversed reflection of the nightclub which the mirror gave her, as he kissed another girl. The view before her seemed to operate on a different time from reality, slowing down into almost a freezing frame, stilled as if paused by her mind. She felt her eyes unable to move into taking another view of the room, they were fixed on either the visible sadness on her face, or the couple embracing on the dance floor behind her.

He was nothing like Angel. Not even close. Instead of dark brown hair and eyes facing her in the mirror behind her altered reflection, it was blond and blue, there could not be a greater contrast between the two men, even if one discounted the vampirism. Above all, Angel would never cheat on her. Despite all her insecurity during the early months of their relationship, they had come so far since his return from hell to render any uncertainty concerning his faithfulness meaningless. Yet, for some unknown reason, she could not focus on that. Instead all she could focus on, was the extreme emotions rising from deep within her, desolate sadness and a white hot rage that was building up and up inside her mind, as she silently watched the kiss go on and on, intensifying every second, until the turmoil hidden behind her sorrowful face overwhelmed everything else.

He was cheating on her. Her boyfriend was cheating on her. How dare he? After all they had been through, how could he throw it all away for another?

"Its a disgrace, isn't it?" A voice remarked suddenly.

Buffy turned her head and saw another girl suddenly standing beside her, about the same age, with hazel brown hair and eyes, a gemstone encircled by gold chained around her neck. Her companions sudden arrival felt both unnatural and yet normal, as if she had just never noticed that she wasn't alone in her grief until now.

"How dare he?" the girl added, echoing Buffy's thoughts.

Turning round, Buffy felt her gaze drawn to the unusual necklace around her companion's neck, she almost felt unable to look anywhere else.

"That's pretty, is it Gucci?" she found herself asking.

Her companion glanced at the gemstone then back at her. "Um... no. It's an actual old thing, sort of a, um... good luck charm my dad gave me." She indicated the scene they were trying to avoid. "Where do men get their nerve, eh?"

"You know, that's just what I was thinking," Buffy heard herself say.

The words felt right as she verbalised them, along with the sentiment behind them her tone, but at the same time Buffy felt as if they had been forced from her mouth.

Her companion nodded in understanding. "I bet you'd like to teach him a lesson."

Buffy found herself nodding back. "I would."

The girl reached behind her neck and unfastened the clasp of her pendant before handing it to her. "Here. I think you need this more than I do right now. You can by the way."

"I can what?" Buffy asked.

"Teach him a lesson."

Her anger and sadness competing within her denied Buffy from preventing herself asking, "how would I do that?"

"It's very simple," her companion replied. "All you do is say I wish and follow it up with the perfect revenge."

"Alright." Buffy paused, watching the boyfriend, thinking. "I wish his skin could be burned off him. Alive."

The girl smiled. "Done," she said, her tone some octaves deeper, almost masculine. Her face changed, skin thinning, cheek muscles disappearing into shredded shards.

Buffy felt her gaze turned back to the boyfriend.

Just in time to see him burned alive.


She woke up with a swallowed scream, and spent the next few minutes trying to calm the rising panic within herself until the emotion died away. Breathing slow, deep and evenly, she remained in bed, glancing a few times at the sleeping form next to her, assuring herself of his identity, of the brown hair she saw resting on the pillows, that he was still alive, even breathing a little, as he had been known to do ever since the Powers That Be granted him half of his humanity through Doyle on Graduation day.

When the panic within her lowered to a more acceptable level, Buffy forced herself to reflect on the dream she had just experienced. Ever since she had been called to her destiny as a vampire slayer she had been haunted by dreams, visions of evils to come which always touched her deeply, but never was she struck so completely as she felt now. The one thing she could not get over was that it had felt so real. If she had put her hand out, she could believe that it would be burned by the flames which had surrounded the burning boy. She could still feel some of the emotional turmoil that she felt in the dream, from the moment she witnessed the boy cheating on her to the moment he burst into flames. Before she could stop the movement, she felt her hand attempt to clasp the skin which covered the upper part of her chest below her neck, as if the necklace that the companion in her dream had given her still existed in the real world. When her hand pinched her skin, causing momentary pain, Buffy did not know whether to feel relieved or horrified that the gemstone wasn't there.

Flinching once more at the thought of it, she slipped out of bed and walked downstairs, passing through the double height living room and dining room, to the kitchen, determined to find something which would shake the feelings caused by this disturbing dream away. Yet, as she went through the motions of making herself a soothing warm drink, she also found herself possessing that out of body feeling once more, along with the bleak conviction that the dream would soon prove a grim reality.

Angel found her there ten minutes later, leaning the front of her body against the cabinets, nestling a ceramic mug between her hands, with a concerned thoughtful expression clouding her features, after the alarm had woken him up to the fact that he was alone in bed.

"What's wrong?" he asked her, wrapping his arms around her waist.

Buffy instantly smiled, as she felt herself connect with reality once more, simply by the touch of his body against hers, the smell of him and the sound of him, all within close proximity. She lowered her mug to the granite work top and let her hands leave the heat which emanated from the warm drink to touch the slight warmth within his hands, another product of his new half-human state. "Nothing now." She sighed and leaned back into him.

He bent his head and kissed her neck, following up with another to her lips after she turned round in his arms. Silently his gaze conveyed to her the unspoken wish for her confidence, along with the assurance that he would treat what ever was bothering her with the serious thought it warranted. Her immediate reply was equally silent but eloquent as she returned his gaze, conveying her assurance that any doubt of his response being anything other than positive never crossed her mind, but it was not until he had reluctantly parted from her in order to prepare their breakfast that she spoke.

"I had a really weird dream," She remarked. "I was someone else, in the Bronze, watching my boyfriend cheating on me."

"Definitely a dream," Angel assured her, as he served their breakfast on to the table in the centre of the kitchen. "I would never cheat on you."

"I know that," she replied, taking his hand and kissing the partner to the claddagh ring which he had given back to her that rested on his third finger, the metal heart signalling that he was hers for all the world to see. "Anyway, this girl comes up to me, offers her sympathy and revulsion on men in general, and then asks me to make a wish." she paused, taking a sip of her drink. "I had no control over what I was saying. I wished for him to be burned alive. She says 'done,' and then he burns alive. It felt so real and downright disturbing."

"I'm not surprised," Angel commented. "I don't remember the last slayer oriented dream you had being that vivid."

"Neither do I," Buffy agreed. "I'll tell Giles about it after class, maybe he can find out enough info to prepare us for this girl before she comes." She drained her drink and smiled at him. "So, what did you dream?"

Angel recognised the invitation in her tone and returned the smile. "Oh, nothing much, just recalling last night. What happened before I went to sleep."

"Interesting," Buffy mused. "And what did happen?"

He smirked at her. "I'm insulted you don't remember."

Buffy's smile turned seductive. "Did I say that?"

"I could show you again if you like," he offered huskily, his tone full of promise.

Her voice was warm as she replied, getting up to put her empty plate in the sink, laying her hand on his shoulder. "I'd more than like, but we don't have time."

"True," he said with regret, and they shared a long look between them before getting ready to leave.

 


Other courses apart from Mythology which she had decided to take at UC Sunnydale occupied Buffy from the moment she and Angel arrived on campus, resulting in an unavoidable delay before she convey the details of her horrific dream to her watcher. There was a deeper emphasis on attendance here in comparison to what she had felt at high school, a greater commitment from herself as well; not just to be seen doing well, but to actually do that well. Slaying was no longer the overwhelming burdening destiny from which she had to escape, even though she felt said escape was impossible. Instead it was now something with which to juggle alongside another, normal career, just as she had during high school. She realised now that the more she chose to benefit from her education, the better she would be able to manage that delicate yet necessary balance in her life.

Just an hour before lunch she crossed the wide expanse of campus, other students doing the same around her, as they moved to their next classes. Her journey took her past the area devoted to the residence halls, the frat and the sorority houses, all architecturally styled to resemble all stages of Sunnydale's existence. As usual she dealt each of the buildings and their surrounding grounds no more than a barely passing glance, not expecting to find anything out of the ordinary about them today.

Then she came to a halt, as the old architecture clashed with something that was all too frighteningly modern. The narrow band of yellow and black plastic ribbons, fastened to thin metal stakes which were sunk into the grass and the white cars blazoned with blue stripes and the colour crest of Sunnydale, all symbols of a typical crime scene.

Slayer came senses alive, causing Buffy to silently join the small congregation of students that, despite the many attempts by lecturers and police officers to direct them away into other parts of the university campus, were grouped in front of the yellow and black plastic ribbon which crossed the sidewalk before the building in which the crime scene was located, separating the frat house from the lecture centres and other residential halls. Carefully she navigated her way through the gaps in the crowd of persons to the front where she would be able to gain a better perspective of the situation.

And she was just in time. A pair of Sunnydale's not so finest were carrying a stretcher out of the entrance, the body bag lying on top not completely zipped, affording all of those with a good perspective in the crowd some clue as to what had happened to warrant the forensics and the long arm of the law. The students gasped, Buffy following suit, as even she could not have expected the sight which was on display, despite the dream she experienced last night, which now looked to be a grim warning of future events.

It was the boy in her dream. Despite the trauma which death visited on the remains, she was accustomed to divining what they would have looked like alive, using the extreme contrasts from each state to draw her conclusions. And, just as she had wished and witnessed in her dream, his skin was completely burned from his body.

And there was not just one. Buffy counted at least five body bags before she carefully retreated back through the crowd, taking in who else was watching the scene, as well as making sure that no one was observing her. When she had reached the back of the student spectators once more, she slipped her hand into her pocket and drew out her cell phone, a recent acquisition and necessity since the summer. Pressing the second number on her speed dial, she put the device to her ear, her gaze travelling between the watching crowd and police officers as she waited for the receiver on the other end of the line to be picked up.

"Rupert Giles," a voice answered a few seconds later.

"Its me," Buffy replied, careful to keep her voice matter of fact and audible only to him. "We have a situation."

"Where?"

"One of the frat houses. Kappa Gamma."

"How many?"

"Five, so far, with the distinct possibility of more." Buffy paused, then added, "Finest are still going over it."

"We'll meet there after classes at the end of the day," Giles decided.

"Agreed," Buffy replied before ending the call. She folded the phone with a click, then slipped it back into the pocket of her long skirt. Taking a final look around, she noticed Riley Finn in the crowd, before turning her back and walking to her next class.


The sky was preparing to turn into darker shades of blue scratched with vivid pink by the time the slayer returned to the frat house of Kappa Gamma. Sunnydale Police had long since gone, along with the crowd, interest in the scene having died as soon as there were no more bodies to be brought out or suspects to be arrested.

So there was no one to notice her carefully pealing back the yellow and black plastic ribbon which was struck halfway across the porch door, before stepping inside.

Most of the Scooby gang were already there and each paid her a silent acknowledgement as they noticed her arrival. Cordelia smiled at her as she took a pair of latex gloves from her, then joined her and Doyle in examining and collecting samples from the various stains on the floor. Nearby Willow and Oz had a laptop and mini lab set up, in order to test the samples there rather than having the normal forensics notice that evidence was missing. This was another part of the necessary routine which they developed during the summer, as they realised that they would no longer have as much undetected freedom within the campus as they did within the High school, that the possibility of their actions being noticed here were greater than on the building which was once above the hellmouth.

She was not the last to arrive, Xander entering the room fifteen minutes later, having turned the nightclub over to the charge of his deputy manager before arriving on campus. He nodded at her in silent greeting before going over to where Giles, Jenny and Angel were with the occult reference volumes which they took from the watcher's apartment to refer to at the crime scene. The watcher silently handed him a book, then returned to his own.

The campus outside was almost shrouded in darkness when all of them ceased in their research, gathering around one of the seating areas to air and form conclusions.

"Anyone seen this before?" Doyle asked.

Angel nodded solemnly. "Anyanka," he remarked.

"I concur," Giles agreed, while the others glanced at them in puzzlement.

"Who's Anyanka?" Buffy asked her boyfriend.

"She's a demon," Angel replied. "A patron one, if you will, of scorned women."

Giles picked up the thread of explanation. "There are references to her in every culture. She's said to have existed for centuries."

"Angelus encountered her back in 1850," Angel added. "Or rather, her work. In similar circumstances to this, actually. Only the bodies were still on display when I -he arrived."

"She's a powerful vengeance demon," Giles concluded, as he opened one of the many ancient texts beside him, rustling pages until he found what he wanted. Then he slid the book forward, pointing with his hand to the engraving.

Buffy only needed to take one glance. "That was the girl in my dream," she remarked. "but how? She must be hundreds of years old."

"Like all demons she's immortal," her watcher replied. "Her spells are as limitless as human imagination. She will give you whatever you wish for."

"Including the desire for a cheating boyfriend to be burned alive," Buffy mused.

Giles took off his glasses and began to clean them as he asked. "have any of the victims names been released yet?"

"One," Xander replied, taking a piece of paper out of his pocket. "Parker Abrams."

"Well at least there's one death which won't be regretted," Cordelia remarked.

"Who is Parker Abrams?" Jenny asked.

"One of womaniser frat boys," Oz explained.

"He'll date a girl long enough to get her to sleep with him, then dump her," Cordelia replied. "And fortunately, I don't know this from experience."

"Well, whatever his crime, justice should never be this bloody or vengeful." Giles began, putting his glasses back on. "We have to deal with Anyanka, before this gets any worse. Now, we have no way of predicting where she will strike next, so I suggest we stakeout the other frat houses tonight."

"How do you destroy her?" Buffy asked.

"You can't actually kill her, she's immortal, but you can destroy her power centre." He picked up the book once more and flicked a few pages. "This is the most reliable drawing we have." It was another engraving, this time of an amulet, one which Buffy remembered the woman in her dream fastening around her neck before her deadly wish was granted.

"She is very dangerous," Giles added in warning, "so I want all of you in pairs and your mobiles on."


"Well, I'm sure when my drama teacher suggested that we explore a men's psyche, this was not what she had in mind," Sunnydale High's former cheerleader remarked in a half whisper as she sat down on the floor of the hallway of the first floor of one the frat houses, mindful of the sleeping students located in each room.

"You could try and look on the bright side 'Delia," Doyle said as he joined her having chosen to partner her on surveillance that night.

Cordelia regarded him with incredulity. "There's a bright side to spying on frat houses to protect cheating guys from the patron demon of scorned women?"

"You have a point," Doyle conceded. He glanced around, then took in a deep breath before opening the bag he had brought. "I know its hardly romantic either, but....."

Cordelia turned to see him laying out some candles and two plates wrapped in tin foil. She gasped in surprise. "Doyle, what is this?"

"'Delia, will you have dinner with me?" He asked her.

She smiled at him, all other thoughts forgotten. "I'd love to," she softly replied, before moving to be opposite him around their 'floor table.'

Around them the doors of the sleeping frat members remained closed, undisturbed by the candle light. Night had long since set in on the town which held the hellmouth, all of its populous soundly asleep in their beds; except for the ten members of the Scooby gang, paired off in the five untouched frat houses on the campus, quietly alert and ready for any trouble. All had long become used to the nocturnal hours of their work since the summer, the Mayor's Ascension serving as a reminder to be more equipped and more prepared for the evil which regularly visited the town.

In the largest of the frat houses, Buffy and Angel sat out the night, as the two most powerful warriors of the group. Giles had instructed them to remain focused on their objective before they left, and the first few minutes were spent in pleasant nostalgia, as they recalled old patrols long ago, in the times when they had no idea of the curse over his soul, or what else was to come to try and break them apart.

The slayer's watch had just struck midnight, and they were beginning to believe that one night of revenge was enough, when the first movement was heard. Initially it seemed to be nothing more than a rustling of sheets from one of the bedrooms, but then there was a flash of light and a figure materialised in the hallway before the chosen warriors.

Buffy and Angel leapt up from the floor, nostalgia forgotten as they encountered Anyanka for the first time. The former took a stake out of her sleeve; the sturdiest one she owned, and stepped into a fighting stance.

"Oh, you must be the slayer," Anyanka remarked, coming to a halt before her. Her features were in human form, and her attire was that of a typical college student. "Not troubled by my human appearance? That's new."

"I'm not your average slayer," Buffy replied. "Now, how about you stopping this?"

"Stopping what?" Anyanka smiled. "No, I'm not stupid, I know what you mean. But I can't. I have a duty to womankind. Even you might need my help one day."

"I think that's unlikely." Buffy stepped forward, invading her personal space. "Now, I suggest you leave. Before I make you." She struck, aiming for the necklace which chained the demon's neck, but it was useless.

Anyanka chuckled and with a flash disappeared.


"You didn't tell us she could teleport," Buffy remarked to her watcher the next morning. They had all gathered together at his apartment before classes that day, his living room having become the traditional meeting place for research and anything slayer related since the High school library was destroyed.

"I didn't know," Giles replied as he set the tea service down before them on the coffee table in front of the sofas. "References to Anyanka's powers are sometimes unreliable, exaggerated and often sketchy at best."

"Well, four more students were eviscerated last night," Xander replied, dropping the newspaper on the table they were seated around as he entered. "Which brings the total death count up to twelve."

The slayer peered at the grim headline accompanied by the equally grim image on the front page of the broadsheet and then glanced around the group. "Suggestions? I don't think we should stakeout the frat houses again, she'll be prepared for that."

"Why not just summon her?" her mother asked as she had been part of the surveillance which took place the night before, Buffy bringing her up to speed during her regular nightly phone calls after Joyce finished working at the museum.

"That could be done," Giles agreed, before rising from his chair and turning to the bookshelves stacked full of the occult reference he had saved from the high school before he gathered dynamite and blew the building up. "I remember seeing such a spell somewhere."

"We could perform a holding spell as well," Willow suggested. "Prevent her from teleporting as soon as she realises that its a trap."

"Agreed," Buffy decided. "We'll do it tonight. Where do you think would be the best place to summon her?"

"Any place where can control what happens," Giles replied. "Perhaps your place?"

Buffy glanced at Angel who nodded before rising from their seats. "We'll see you all there," she proposed.

One by one the rest of the slayerettes followed their destined warriors out of the apartment to their vehicles and eventually the university campus.


The remaining hours of daylight were observed with various imaginations, each unique to every member of the slayerettes who possessed them, as they tried to focus on what occupations usually took up their minds on any given day, mindful however of what ritual awaited them that night, and contemplative concerning all possible outcomes.

At the mansion on Crawford Street they soon gathered, assembling in the double height living room where once Acathla was briefly unleashed, and the glove of Myhnegon was used to deadly effect. Since then both Angel and Buffy had done a lot to furnish the room with contrasting ornaments and furniture, in an effort to distract anyone who visited remembering those events, but the slayer could not deny indulging in a brief moment of weakness by dwelling on her memories of those times, as she gazed at the tilted floor of the large room, cleared to prevent possible damages, hoping that this ritual would not cause as much damage as the last two which had taken place here.

Giles placed a big golden goblet on the floor, to which he put in water, herb's and enchanted powers, the necessary mixture required for the ritual.

The Scooby gang deployed themselves at various points around the room, ready to rush forward if the slayer and watcher required backup.

Giles picked up a small branch from one of the bushels of herb's and dropped it into the goblet before he opened the leather bound volume which contained the ritual.

"Oh, Anyanka," he chanted, reading from the required passage, "I beseech thee, in the name of all women scorned," he paused to add more herb's to the now small fire within the golden goblet, "come before me."

Silence greeted the end of his sentence as everyone held their breath, waiting for the vengeance demon to appear as requested. For a moment all became convinced that the ritual had not succeeded until their convictions were proved wrong as Anyanka emerged out of the dark recess under the stairs which led to the first floor.

"Do you have any idea what I do to a man who uses that spell to summon me?" She asked them.

"Hopefully not burn their skin off them," Xander attempted to joke.

The comment backfired as Anyanka raised her threatening glare in his direction, causing him to flinch and take a step back to ward off confrontation.

Willow met Jenny's glance and together they began chanting the containment spell, the murmur of their voices barely audible, designed so the demon would not notice her escape was gone before she tried to use it.

"I dreamt of you last night," Buffy remarked.

Anyanka turned her gaze to the slayer. "Fascinating. I had no idea a vampire slayer possessed the imagination to dream."

"You think we're just girls who can kill?" Buffy countered. "I am much more than what I appear to be, and I think we can say the same of you."

"True," Anyanka conceded. "You could say we both grant wishes."

"Except yours are a lot more horrific than mine," Buffy replied.

"You call justice horrific?" Anyanka countered. "Greater crimes are visited on humankind daily. At least I use my power for righteousness."

"Is it righteousness to inflict death on men just because they've scorned a woman?" Buffy asked her. "Shouldn't justice be just?"

"Whose to argue my justice isn't?" Anyanka queried.

"We are," Buffy replied, gesturing at herself and her friends.

The vengeance demon took in the sight of everyone in the room before she replied. "You really think you can fight me?"

"I'm not afraid of you," Buffy replied. "Your only power lies in the wishing."

Suddenly she felt the wind knocked from her as Anyanka leapt across the room and grabbed her neck, pressing her body against the wall.

"Wrong!" Anyanka cried. "This is the real world now, not your dreams."

The slayerettes rushed forward to rescue Buffy, but the demon directed her free hand back at them threateningly.

"Move and she suffers the same fate as those frat boys you seem to care so much about," she said. "I don't usually kill women but tonight I will make an exception."

"I'm still not afraid of you," Buffy replied, her hands wrestling themselves free from the small space between their bodies, one moving to grab her opponents hand which gripped her neck, the other going for the source of the demon's powers. With one satisfying snap she pulled the gemstone free, tossing it to her friends.

"No!" Anyanka cried, letting go of the slayer as one of the men caught her jewel.

Buffy turned round in time to grab the girl and prevent her from interfering with Angel as he caught the necklace in his hand, before using his vampire strength to crush the gemstone within his fist.

A bright green light resonated from the jewel as it was smashed into thousands of pieces, falling from Angel's hand like grains of sand upon the marble floor. Across the room its' owner lost her demonic appearance, crumbling visibly as Buffy let go of her, all resistance to her powerless fate at an end.

The End.
To Be Continued In

The Harsh Light Of Day.