Dawn gestures toward some of the art on the walls.
While Dominic explains their provenance, Tomas fetches
Buffy and Dawn coffee. A few minutes later, Tomas
returns, and they sit and drink. Then, Dominic ends
the silence. "Last May, one of our seers sent an
e-mail saying that the rules were changing, that a new
dispensation was about to be given. Just five minutes
after the time stamp on Brother Luca's message, the
earthquake that destroyed Sunnydale began. Since then,
we've seen incidents that suggested that you had died,
Buffy, and that your power had passed to another.
However, you arrived in Rome; we would like to know
what happened in Sunnydale."
"Brother Luca--he's still alive?"
"Brother Luca, Buffy?"
"He's a seer who was on a mailing list with Jenny,
Dawn. He predicted the Harvest. Jenny told Giles
about him a couple of days after it when they had a
"It's too bad she didn't tell Giles everything; it would
have saved us all a lot of trouble."
"And she'd still be alive too. Father Dominic, last
year, something was trying to influence us. It caused
us to have visions of disaster, trying to induce us to
"Or others," adds Dawn.
"Meanwhile, a group of assassins were killing all the
known Potentials," Buffy continues.
Dominic asked, "Potentials?"
"The potential Slayers. The old Council of Watchers
kept track of girls they had identified as possible
Slayers. The assissins somehow found out who they were
and sent teams to kill them."
"Some of the remaining Slayers fled their watchers and
came to Sunnydale. The Council wasn't protecting them,
and so they tried to reach the only Slayer and Watcher
who thought for themselves," Dawn explains.
"It turned out to be one of our old enemies, the First
Evil, the Spirit of Despair. The assassins were her
servants, the Bringers, the Harbringers of Despair.
And my return to the world had created an imbalance
that let the First manifest."
"Remarkable," replies Dominic. "That's very good
theology; when one succumbs to despair, forsaking any
hope on the Lord's Grace, nothing is left."
"The First was trying to open the Hellmouth, to let her
army of Turok-han, the primal vampires in," says Buffy.
"We did have some successes; Buffy killed a couple of
the Turok-han; we blocked the First's attempt to
control Spike, and we trained the Potentials as far as
"We lost a lot too. Caleb, one of the First's allies,
killed a couple of the Potentials, and hurt Xander
badly. The Bringers blew up the old Council's
"That was a very small loss, Buffy. Heck, Quentin
deserved to die for what he'd done to you."
"We even did a magic ritual to send me questing back in
time, bcak to the time of the First Slayer." The
priests look disturbed; they are troubled by the frank
use of magic. "We found out how the Shadow Men had
endowed her with power. They had summoned a demon to
possess her, and they tried to do it to me. I refused
and broke away."
"Of course you refused, Buffy. No one touched by
Heaven could accept the aid of a demon," says Dominic.
Pope John Paul raises his hand, and everyone looks at
him. "Miss Summers, have you ever wondered why Slayers
live such tragic and short lives? Their power is based
on demonic power, and demons can not create; they can
only destroy. It's understandable that Slayers come
with a curse. But by rejecting that poor power, you
have turned that curse into a blessing."
"Thank you, Father," says Buffy. "Three things turned
things around for us: someone called the 'Guardian'
gave us the Scythe, the Slayers' Weapon, just before
Caleb killed her. Wolfram and Hart, an evil law firm,
sent us an artifact that would help us fight the First;
they didn't want the competition. And finally, Willow
was able to liberate the power of the Scythe and grant
the power of the Slayer to all the Potentials, even
those no one knew about."
"Giles is trying to find them all now," says Dawn.
"Anyhow, we were able to hold off the Turok-han until
Spike used the artifact to cauterize the Hellmouth,
closing it forever, sacrificing himself. Most of us
gout out of there before the Hellmouth's collapse
"We lost some of the Potentials, and we lost Anya. But
the world is safe."
Dominic says, "So, it's the new Slayers that we see.
That's why we thought you had fallen in battle; we
thought they had been Called upon your death."
"I'm still here. I hope to be here a long time."
Tomas refills their drinks; as they sip their wine,
John Paul looks lost in thought. After a few minutes,
Father Dominic stands up and says, "We have prepared
some gifts for the two of you."
Dawn asks, "Gifts?" Buffy replies, "There's always
gifts; you should know that by now."
Tomas leaves the room and returns with a large
portfolio. Dominic explains, "Dawn, we know that you
have been studying ancient languages as part of your
work. We have scanned all the documents in the Vatican
Library and have burnt them onto these 100 DVDs. We
hope you find these useful in your duties."
"You know, Father, that scanning the wrond document can
"We know of Brother Thelonious amd the Book of Moloch.
We took precautions."
Dawn, thinking to herself, "I will not squeal. I'll be
calm and collected," rises and collects the DVD set.
After Dawn returns to her seat, the Pope looks at
Buffy. "We have something important in common,
"I don't see how, Father."
"I am the keeper of the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,
and you are the keeper of the Key to everything else."
[cf. Matthew 16:19]
Outraged, Dawn stammers out, "I don't need a keeper."
After a moment, Buffy says to her, "Peace, Dawn.
Actually you do."
"Well, he doesn't have to say it."
When the look at John Paul again, Tomas stands by his
side holding a long and thin case. "Fifteen hundred
years ago, a Jewish smith in Damascus forged this
blade. It was his life-work, made to be soverign
against the illusions of djinn and efreet, giving true
sight to its weilder. Cherev-L'Emeth, the Sword of
Truth, has passed through many hands since then, and
now it is time for you to have it."
Buffy rises to accept her gift. "Thank you, Father."
"Someday, you must tell her what she looks like in the
light of truth."
It is late; Pope John Paul is visibly tired, and Buffy
and Dawn know they soon must leave.
"Have you a blessing for us, Father?" asks Buffy.
"Certainly, Buffy. Please, please."
The two sisters rise, stand before him, and bow their
heads. He daubs their foreheads with holy oil.
"Know you, Buffy Summers, that you act by the authority
of Our Heavenly Father, and by His grace. Know that
what you do, the battles you fight, are akin to what
aurgeon does, removing cancer from a sufferer. Know
that the Lord trusts your judgements, and have trust in
Him. And know that when your span of days ends, the
Lord shall wait for you, and greet you with Love. And
lets us say, Amen."
"And what of me, Father? Have I a hope of Heaven?"
The Pope turns to Dawn, and stops for a moment; then he
takes a breath and says, "Dominic, Tomas, help me up."
They support him as he rises, only to kneel before
"Do you not know your nature, Dawn? When could such a
thing as the Key, a thing that can open and close all
the passageways of the universe, have been created? It
could only have been made when the universe was made,
and only by He who created the Universe.
"'In the beginning God created the heaven and the
earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and
darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit
of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God
said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God
saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the
light from the darkness. And God called the light Day,
and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and
the morning were the first day.'
"A hope of Heaven, Dawn? You are a creation of God on
high. The Curse of Adam is not within you; you are
outside its remit, unique and enduring, closer to God
than even the Angels. May your body, your spirit, and
your nature be perfectly wedded; may you learn to
control your gift, and may you someday return to His
hand. And let us say, Amen."
Buffy and Dawn turn to leave the residence, but the
Pope interrupts them. "Have you a blessing for us?"
The two sisters look at each other. Then, beams of
light stream from their foreheads where the Pope had
anointed them, green from Dawn and white from Buffy.
The lights form paths through the air, leading to a
group of books atop a dresser. Dawn picks up the book
her light has led to, a latin Bible. Buffy does the
same to hers, an English Bible. They turn to pages the
lights lead them to, and they recite:
"The Lord, He is the One Who goes before you; He will be
with you; He will neither fail you, nor forsake you. Do
not fear, and do not be dismayed." [Deuteronomy 31:8]
The priests respond, "Amen," and John Paul adds, "We
are all truly blessed."
Buffy and Dawn stand on the street outside their
apartment, they hold their gifts and the emergency
assistance cards Dominic gave them. Buffy looks up at
the stars and says, "Someday, we shall return to You."
Dawn takes Buffy's hand in hers and says, "Amen."
One week later, Buffy and Dawn leave Rome, never to
return. They have all the immortality they will ever