by Twinkledru J.

"It's like going to sleep," they tell the young ones. If that fails to ease them, "don't worry, you won't have to face it for many years."

One Slayer has one behind her. One Slayer's death will bring one more to life.

When the day comes, when her Watcher gets the letter, there's no saying how the girl might take it. Some are very proud, and some are very frightened, and with many, you cannot tell, because they have been taught from Day One after their true birth that they must not show emotion.

"It's not frightening at all," they tell the young ones when they are asked about the ritual. "It doesn't hurt a bit."

Sometimes it happens that very day, sometimes it can be much later. How far away she is, how high the security in American airports is (one of them was delayed four months because President Bancroft had declared a temporary state of emergency), what creatures she must despatch first -- all of these are factors that can delay her arrival in England and the occurrence of the Bringing.

When compared to other rituals, of course, the Bringing is quite new. Somehow, though, an air of heavy tradition surrounds it already, and only the oldest Watchers can remember the times when there was no Bringing, when there was only One Girl. It is easy for the younger Watchers to imagine this as an ancient ritual, with candles and bloodletting and forced breath -- as one more ancient magick usurped by sterile labs and cold tables, forced electric pulses and puppet breathing.

"It is what you must do," they tell the young ones at last when they ask questions, and when they grow older, "there must be another for when you fall."

The Bringing Room, despite the silver science of it, is nonetheless warded by ancient charms and spells -- yes, against evil will, but also against infections and viruses, for dreamless sleep by the girl on the table and steady hands for the surgeon Watchers, for the Bringers.

The next girl's Watcher will have recieved a letter as well, and will be pushing his or her charge more fiercely than ever.

"It's like going to sleep," they tell the young ones, and the mask is put over her mouth, the gas starts to flow. Her eyes close, her breathing slows, and the beeps on the monitor grow further and further apart.

If she is awake, then, wherever in the world she may be, the Next will begin to feel strange. If she is asleep she will begin to stir. As the beeps grow more and more distant, her own heart beats faster, more fiercely.

At the moment the tone becomes a single flat note, the Next knows that she can take on anything.

Back in England, after a few seconds (only a very few, for there must be no brain damage) the Watchers will defibrillate. Until, then, this happens in battle not with clean gases and blank smooth young skin but gashes and blows and wounds, until this happens where there are no Bringers and where it is not something controlled -- until then, the girl on the table and the other girl, they are the Chosen Two.


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