Closing week. nuff said. I survived it again, but I really think I started to get an ulcer. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of last week were awful. The only things I could eat that didn't give my stomach fits was crackers, yogurt and applesauce.
Oh well. Anyway, here is the story I promised a couple of weeks ago.
Somewhere in Time
Chapter 9 – Setting Events In Motion
Buffy turned away from Rupert, hiding her smile. She couldn’t believe he'd said that! Her smile faded as she thought about her Giles. Had he been this playful when they first met? Concentrating, she remembered his face, as it had been that first day. So eager, so sure that she shared his enthusiasm for their destiny. Oh, Giles. She swallowed hard, blinking back tears. A warm hand settled on her shoulder. “Buffy, are you all right?”
She turned and looked into Rupert’s concerned eyes. “Not yet, but I will be. We both will be.”
His face cleared as he comprehended her words. He nodded, smiling slightly. “Yes, I believe we will.”
Buffy nodded back and then headed towards the loft. “I’ll go change into something a little more stealthy for when the team gets here.”
Rupert watched her, still concerned. His little joke had been meant to make her smile and it had, for a moment. Then the weight of the world seemed to settle on her shoulders. He understood. He had his own ghost to deal with, but events were moving swiftly and they didn’t have the luxury of dwelling on their losses.
He shook his head. Three days. They had been here, in this world, this life, for just three days. He knew that for the sake of both of their sanity's they had to become fully integrated in the here and now, but he resolved to never let a day of the rest of his life go by without honoring the memory of those he had lost.
Rupert turned to look at Oz. What a remarkable young man. He carried his burden with a dignity and grace beyond his years. Rupert thought about Buffy’s certainty that Oz was important to Willow’s emotional well being. He also wondered how the others of their little group would react to an Oz/Willow/Tara triad, because he was sure it was going to happen.
Oz, who had been aware of Rupert’s scrutiny, turned away from the window. “I don’t think the Council team will get here before dark.” He shook his head. “If only there was some way I could control the wolf, for just one night. I could let them catch me and be on the inside to help.”
Rupert gave him a speculative look. “Last night, while I was keeping watch over you, I was reading about the things that the Giles of this world had been researching. He had found a way, a one time way, for you to be in control while in wolf form.”
Oz stared. “Why didn’t he say anything to me?”
“He didn't find it until after you left Sunnydale, but also because it involves using another person and there is the potential for mental or emotional damage to that person.”
“How would it involve someone else?”
Rupert crossed to the desk, opened a drawer, and pulled out a slim book. He opened to a bookmarked page. “This can only be attempted on the first or third day of the full moon, not the second day when the totality is greatest. The essence of the wolf is transferred to another person. They don’t change physically, but their own personality is submerged by that of the wolf.” He read something on the page, and then glanced up at Oz.
“This spell was created by a coven in middle Europe and was used against a werewolf hunter. Something along the lines of ‘walk a mile in my shoes’. While the physical body doesn't change, the person experiences everything else. Because of the potential for abuse, the spell can only be used once by any werewolf.”
“So we could use it against someone who wants to grab the wolf. Let them see how it feels.” Both men turned and looked at Riley. They heard Buffy’s voice come from the direction of the loft. “Not him. We need him to get Oz into the base.”
Rupert looked up. Buffy was leaning over the railing. She gave him a wicked smile. “But I know just the person we should use.”
Rupert remembered the things she had told him during their patrol the night before and he knew whom she was considering. He smiled back. “I concur; it would add to the confusion during the attack. The problem is that we need something of hers to use in the spell.”
Buffy glanced back over at Riley. “I bet he has a note, or something, from her. Would you be able to use that?”
“Perhaps, if she has touched it recently, it could have left enough of her aura to work with.” Rupert moved over to the unconscious man. He rummaged through Riley’s pockets and pulled out his wallet. Inside the bill section was a folded piece of paper. Carefully preserved in the folds was a lock of hair. Rupert raised an eyebrow.
Buffy moved swiftly down the steps and crossed to Rupert’s side. She was also surprised at his discovery. "Well, that's handy if it's hers. We need to be sure; we don't want to do something like this to an innocent."
Rupert moved back to the desk and flipped through the book of spells. Finding what he was looking for, he lit a nearby candle and held one strand of the hair in the flame while he muttered a few words. The strand of hair burned quickly, creating a puff of smoke. A face appeared in the smoke.
Buffy nodded. "That's her. Okay, we've got our target and the means to make this work. We probably shouldn’t tell Riley the entire plan; I don’t think he’d go along with anything like this.” She frowned down at Riley. “How long is the sedative supposed to last? He needs to be conscious long enough before sundown to get Oz into the base.”
Rupert glanced at his watch. "Judging by how it affected Oz last night he will be out for quite some time."
"Damn, that won't work. We need him awake now." Buffy grimaced. "Sorry, I got carried away."
Rupert started to flip through the spell book again. "Perhaps there is something in here that we could use."
Oz broke in. “I thought the idea was to get me in there as the wolf.”
Rupert answered in a distracted voice, "It is, but you can’t be in wolf form when Riley takes you or he'll need to dart you to tranquilize you. The spell can’t be used until the wolf takes over and if we use the spell before they have you in custody then Professor Walsh will be out of control and they will probably lock down the base.”
Buffy gestured to the unconscious man. “We’ll work on Riley’s sense of guilt. Get him to call Walsh and tell her he found out who the werewolf is. That he’s talked to you and you have agreed to let them observe when you change because they can keep you confined where you won’t hurt anyone. Then when you change, Rupert does the spell and Maggie Walsh gets to meet the wolf; up close and personal.”
“How will you know when the change occurs?” They both looked at Rupert, who was staring blankly into space.
“Oz,” he began slowly, “how aware are you when the change begins?”
“I usually know far enough in advance to get my clothes off so they aren’t wreaked.”
Rupert gave a nod, and pulled a box from one of the drawers. In the box was a pair of crystals on chains. “The Giles in this dimension had gone back to his magical roots and was researching ways to use magic to help his Buffy. He had prepared these crystals as a mystical ‘SOS’ for her in case she ran into trouble while on patrol. The crystals are linked and one will react if the other is destroyed.” He handed one of the chains to Oz. “Step on the crystal to break it when you feel yourself starting to change. The other crystal will glow, alerting me to start the spell.”
Oz nodded and took the offered chain, slipping it over his head. Rupert looked back at the book. "Now, let’s see if we can wake him up."
They didn't find anything in the spell book, but Oz knew a doctor who would make house calls with no questions asked. The doctor arrived, injected Riley with a stimulant, and stayed until he was on his feet. Buffy helped by making some coffee for Riley while they told him the story they had created. He called Walsh, who agreed to let Oz into the base, and the pair left. They had been gone for just five minutes when the Council team, who had flown from Los Angles by helicopter, arrived.
Rupert stood back and watched Buffy inform the team of the situation. All of the men towered over her by several inches, but it was clear who was in charge. The Slayer was very much in command of the situation.
She told them the layout of the base, the entrances and emergency exits. She went on to describe the type of experiments that were taking place in the labs. "Our main objective is to rescue three people. Willow, Tara and Oz. Professor Walsh supposedly had the two women grabbed because they are witches, but part of the reason is that Willow is my best friend and they are using her to get me. Walsh wants to study my Slayer abilities. The other, Oz, is a werewolf and she wants to run experiments on him."
The men exchanged looks.
"He won't be dangerous to you. We have a way for him to remain in control tonight." Buffy paused, looked pointedly at each man. "You are not here to kill demons. That's my job as the Slayer. You are here to fight the humans, rescue the three people I mentioned and, if at all possible, grab Professor Walsh. I will take care of the others."
She glared at them. "I mean this. Unless you are attacked, you are not to kill any of the demons. Most of the ones that have been caught are relatively harmless and we co-exist peacefully here in Sunnydale. I will take care of any that need Slaying; that is my job. You are here to help me get my friends and put that crazy bitch out of business. Are we clear?"
The men nodded.
"Rupert will be staying here to prepare medical supplies in case anyone is injured. He will also do the spell that helps Oz control the wolf. That can't be done until after sunset. When the distraction that we have put into place starts, he will let us know that we can enter the base. Any questions?"
Rupert withdrew into his thoughts while Buffy and the commandos discussed the plans. In the brief period between Riley and Oz leaving and the team arriving she had told him of her desire to have the team take Professor Walsh, and as many of her computer records that they could find, back with them. She insisted that is was the only way to have the Initiative shut down
Rupert must have looked as appalled as he felt that she would willingly turn someone over to a wet-works team. "You don't know what she did in my world, what she is capable of doing. She has to be stopped. Here and now," Buffy had said. "I have never taken a human life, but if her test subject, Adam, hadn't killed her I think I would have. She's evil, Rupert, pure evil. In many ways worse than Angelus, because he was a demon and she is a human being."
A touch on his arm brought him back to the present. Buffy was standing next to him, worry in her eyes. “Rupert?”
He smiled. “Sorry, just going over things in my head. Was there something else?”
“We’re leaving now. It will be sunset soon and we need to be in position.” She handed him a walky-talky. “Call us as soon as you do the spell.”
He took the device from her and nodded. As she began to turn away, Rupert placed a hand on her shoulder. She looked back, surprised. “Be careful.”
Buffy gave him her most blinding smile and pulled him into a fierce hug. “Not to worry, Watcher-mine. I’ll be home soon.”
Rupert returned the hug just as fiercely. When she pulled away he caressed her cheek. “I’ll be waiting.”
Buffy turned and quickly left the apartment, followed by the commandos. Rupert sighed, and then began to prepare the spell.
Oz followed Riley into the base, carefully observing the other soldiers and the layout of the areas they were traveling through. It was hard to remain calm. This close to sunset the wolf was already beginning to emerge, and all of his senses were telling him to get out of this place. Everything felt wrong.
He could smell the blood and fear that permeated the facility. Riley was careful to take him through corridors that were not lined with cells, but Oz knew they were there. With every step the wolf howled for him to run, to escape the trap. A group of people led by a woman in a lab coat emerged from a room down the corridor and walked towards them. Oz’s skin crawled and it took all of his control to continue to walk next to Riley. The woman stopped in front of him and smiled with her lips, but there was a cold, calculating look in her eyes. The hairs on the back of Oz’s neck tingled. Buffy was right, this woman was evil.
Oz carefully took a couple of deep breaths, fighting for control. The wolf wanted to destroy the creature in front of him. The woman held out her hand, and with great reluctance, Oz shook it. He swallowed hard. Even her slightest touch made him feel sick. He released her hand and took a step back.
“I’m Professor Walsh. So you are the werewolf that my men captured last night.
Too bad the Slayer interfered or we could have had this conversation then.”
Oz shrugged. “Buffy means well, but she doesn’t understand how hard this is for me every month. Riley said that if you had the chance to study me you might find a way to keep it from happening.” He spread his arms wide. “Here I am. Study me.”
Walsh smiled again, but now the look in her eyes wasn’t quite sane. She gestured to her left, down another corridor. “I have an observation area right this way.”
“Good, it’s getting close to sunset and I won’t be in control much longer.”
Walsh tilted her head to watch him as they walked. “You can feel the change beginning already? How far in advance do you know?”
“Yes, the wolf presence is trying to get out.” Oz glanced at his watch. “According to the almanac sunset is in five minutes.” He looked at her. “I need to be in confinement now.” He moved his shoulders restlessly. “Each month is a little different, but I usually have enough time to take off my clothes and store them somewhere for me to come back to get them.” The skin on his hands and arms rippled. “Hurry.”
Walsh stopped and gestured to his left. Oz saw an open area, but no doors or bars. He looked at her, puzzled. She gave him a little push. He stumbled forward and spun quickly around to face her, involuntarily growling. She touched a panel on the wall next to the area and then was a loud hum. Oz reached forward cautiously. His hand jerked away when it received a strong shock. Oz lifted an eyebrow.
“Very Star Trek. Cool.” Over Walsh’s shoulder Oz saw another holding area across the corridor. In it were two girls. One was lying on the floor, clearly unconscious. The other was sitting next to her, cushioning the first girls head on her lap. Oz met shocked gray eyes. Tara. She obviously recognized him, but said nothing. Riley followed Oz’s gaze and flushed a deep red.
Oz clenched his fists, taking deep breaths. He was glad Rupert had found the spell. Professor Walsh deserved everything that was going to happen to her. And Riley had better not get in his way either.
Oz turned his back to the opening and unbuttoned his shirt. He slipped the chain over his head, placed the crystal in the shirt pocket, folded the shirt and placed it carefully on the floor. Oz grabbed his waist and doubled over, grunting in make believe pain and stomped on the shirt. He felt the crystal shatter. As he unfastened the jeans and slid them off his hips, the wolf emerged. I hope this works, was Oz’s last coherent thought.
Back at the apartment, Rupert saw the crystal glow brightly. He touched the candle to the gathered herbs and threw the lock of hair from Riley’s wallet onto them. As the smoke rose, he carefully chanted the spell. The burning herbs flared brightly and Rupert could feel the pulse of magic. He reached for the radio, clicked it on, and said, “Now.”
Rupert slumped back in the chair, watching the smoldering remains. He hoped that had worked.
Buffy waited near the main opening to the underground base. Every exit was covered, with one exception; there was no way they could get into the house on campus. She wasn’t too worried about that. Reinforcements coming from that direction could be contained from within the base. She was worried about Willow and Tara. Walsh had had them for over five hours. Buffy smiled grimly. Walsh would pay for what she had done to them, and to all the others she had experimented on.
The radio crackled briefly and Rupert’s voice said, “Now.” Buffy nodded to the men beside her and they in turn spoke into their radios. “Go.” She pulled roughly on the door, the lock breaking from the force. They entered the base. Klaxons blared and they could hear rapidly approaching footsteps. The Council men leaned around a corner and shot their weapons.
Buffy was surprised to hear what sounded like puffs of air instead of gunshots. She looked around the corner and saw several Initiative men lying on the ground. She knelt next to one man and felt a strong pulse. “Tranquilizers?”
The lead commando said, “Lord Dennison felt that some methods sanctioned by prior Councils were too……severe. He prefers solutions that aren’t irreversible.”
Buffy nodded. “Smart man. I think we’ll get along.” Further ahead they could hear yelling and what sounded like growls. “It sounds like the party started without us.” They hurried forward. Rounding a corner they stopped dead at the sight in front of them.
Maggie Walsh had pulled her lab coat off. She had also ripped open her blouse, exposing her bra. She was growling and clawing at the men surrounding her. Riley, two other solders, and three other men in lab coats stood in a wide circle around her, staring in shock.
Buffy nodded to the commandos and they fired. Walsh and the other men went down. Riley spun around. “What did you do to her?”
The answer came from inside the cell next to him. Oz stood up from where he had been crouching on the floor. “She wanted to study a werewolf. What better way than to become one.” The voice was deep and rough, but it was unmistakably Oz.
Two other commando teams came from the other direction. “The base is secure.”
Buffy nodded. “Good, you know what to do.”
Three of the men went back along the corridor to Professor Walsh’s office. The rest of the men began opening the cells. When the beings started to emerge, Buffy called, “Listen up. No one here is going to hurt you unless you attack him or her. Just leave and don’t worry about this place anymore. I’ll make sure it’s out of business for good.”
A couple of the larger demons started towards the commandos. Buffy moved over and pointed a sword at one of their throats. “What part of leave didn’t you understand? You start something and I’ll finish it.”
One of the demons put a hand on the other’s shoulder. “Your word, Slayer. We can just leave?”
“My word. At this place and time you get a free ticket. We meet back on the streets and its business as usual.”
The demon nodded. “Agreed.” The pair turned and left, followed by most of the occupants of the cells. Buffy moved forward, checking the cells as she went. Huddled in the back of one was a misshapen figure. She rushed forward. “Clem, is that you?” The familiar face looked up, ears drooping. “Oh, Clem, what did they do to you?”
He sat up weakly. “I’ll be okay. They just took blood, and tested to see how much electric shock I could take.”
Buffy hugged him, “Don’t worry. They won’t hurt you anymore. Come on; let’s have someone check you out.” Clem shuddered. “Someone nice, I promise. My Watcher, you’ve heard of him, right?”
Clem nodded. “Everyone knows about your Watcher. He’s off limits to the demon community cause everybody knows you would go nuts if anything happened to him.”
Buffy held out her hand, showing Clem the wedding ring. “He’s more than my Watcher, he’s my husband.”
Clem perked up. “Slayer! Congratulations! When did that happen? I hadn’t heard anything in the community about you getting married.”
“A month ago. We flew to Vegas.”
Now Clem hugged her. “That’s great! Everybody’ll be happy to hear that.” He tried to stand, but his legs gave out. “Sorry.”
“Not a problem, I’ll have someone help you back to my place and Rupert’ll take care of you. I have to stay here and make sure this place gets shut down. You wait right here.” She gave his shoulder a pat and started to leave.
Clem grabbed at her arm. “Slayer, they’ve got Spike here somewhere. The solders raided a poker game and took us at the same time.”
Buffy sighed, dropping her head. “Spike.” She took a deep breath and nodded. “I’ll find him and get him out.” She left the cell and grabbed Riley by his shirt. “Where are you keeping Hostile 17?”
Riley just stared. Things were happening too fast and he was having trouble keeping up. Buffy heaved another sigh and gave him a shake. “Where?”
“Uh, Professor Walsh had him in the lab earlier.”
Buffy nodded and turned to the commandos. “You three help Oz get Tara, Willow and Clem back to my place. You two take care of the Professor; make sure she doesn’t hurt herself.” Buffy traded looks with the lead commando and the man nodded. She gestured to the other men; “You five clear this place out, make sure no one is left behind. You three come with me.” She turned back to Riley. “Which lab; the normal one, or the secret one?”
Riley frowned. “What secret lab?”
“I guess that means he’s in the normal lab. I wonder if she’s started building Adam yet.” Buffy spun around and headed for the labs. They found the doors locked.
“I’ll go get the keys,” Riley started.
“Never mind.” Buffy kicked the door open. There, shackled to a gurney, was Spike. His eyes opened.
“Oh, bloody hell. How embarrassing. Being rescued by the Slayer.”
Buffy stalked over to the gurney. She put her hands on her hips and glared down at the helpless vampire. “Spike, I’m just as tired of rescuing you. Give me one good reason why I should get you out of here.”
“You still owe me for not letting Angelus kill your Watcher.”
“Oh, no, that debt was paid a long time ago.” She sighed. “Did they already put the chip in you?”
Spike frowned. “Chip, what chip?”
Buffy turned to Riley. “Has he been chipped yet?”
Riley shrugged. “I’m not sure. Professor Walsh was going to do it this afternoon, but then she had the men grab Willow and Tara, so I don’t know if it was done.”
“Well, one way to find out.” Buffy looked around and found the keys to the shackles. She unfastened Spike.
He stood up, stretching and flexing his muscles. “Now, what is this chip you keep going on about?”
“Walsh was planning on putting a chip in your brain that would keep you from hurting humans. No more happy meals on legs; you would need to buy your blood from Willie.”
Impossible as it seemed, Spike paled. “What?”
“Only one way to find out if it’s already in you; hit me.”
Spike looked as stunned as Riley. “What?” he repeated.
“Hit me. If it hurts you to hit me, you’re chipped. If it doesn’t, you’re okay.”
Spike gave her a cocky grin. “If you insist.” He quickly punched her in the face.
At least, he tried. Just as quickly, Buffy put her hand up and he hit it instead. “Any pain?”
“Good, no chip.”
“Aw, Slayer, I didn’t know you cared.”
“I don’t, but you know that I can’t hurt someone who is helpless. If you had been neutered, I couldn’t stake you, but since you haven’t been I can.” She leaned forward and grabbed Spike’s shirt. “I’ll tell you this once, Fang boy. Leave town. Now. If I see you in Sunnydale after sunset tomorrow you’ll be dust in the wind. Got that?”
Spike started to make a joke, but stopped when he looked into her eyes. “Who are you, really?”
“I’m the Slayer, and you’re a vampire. First and only warning.”
Spike leaned closer and whispered. “You’re not her, not my Buffy. She did die, didn’t she? Who are you?”
Buffy closed her eyes for a moment and when she opened them again Spike stepped back from the pain he could see there. “The clock is ticking, Spike.”
Spike reached out and gently cupped her cheek. “Sorry, pet.”
Buffy grabbed his wrist and pushed him away. “Call me that again, and you don’t get the chance to leave.”
Spike stepped back again and gave her a slight bow. “Slayer.” A rush of wind and he was gone.
Buffy stood for a long moment, staring at the wall. When she felt ready, she faced the others. “The secret lab should be behind this wall.” She walked over to where the panel had been in her world and pushed. The wall swung open. The room was lined with computers. On one side was long table filled with various types of test equipment. On a bed lay a partially assembled body. Riley took one look and started retching.
Buffy turned to the commandos. “Everything in this room is to be destroyed. Nothing leaves, especially not that.” She pointed to the body. The men nodded and crossed the room. They began placing what looked liked modeling clay with blinking lights on the computers and the equipment. The last device was placed under the gurney holding the body. The group left the lab.
Out in the hall they were met by the lead commando. “Ma’am. Everyone has been removed from the facility. All rooms were double checked.”
Buffy nodded. “Then let’s blow this place.” They quickly left the facility. Once they reached the outside, the lead commando handed Buffy a small device with a switch. “All of the explosives are linked to this.”
Buffy gave him a wide smile. “Cool.” She flipped the switch and the ground trembled. There was a muffled roar and dust came out of the open doorway. The lead commando saluted. “It’s been an honor working with you. We’ll be in touch.”
Buffy nodded and the men melted into the night.
Riley looked around, bewildered. “But, you can’t do this. This was a government facility. And where’s Professor Walsh? What was wrong with her and what did those men do with her?”
Buffy stared at him until he stuttered to a halt. “This is Sunnydale. The Hellmouth. This is my territory and no one has the right to interfere with me. That includes the military. If I were you, I’d start looking for another assignment.” She started to walk away, but halfway across the park she turned back. “Oh, and as for Professor Walsh, don’t worry. She’s in good hands.” She left the park.
Riley shuddered. She was so different from his Buffy. He wondered if her extensive knowledge of the facility and the experiments there was part of what had made her so hard. She had hated Professor Walsh, really hated her, and not just for grabbing Willow and Tara.
That body in the secret lab. He had recognized the face. A teammate who had been killed in a training accident a few months back. At least that had been what Professor Walsh had told him. He shuddered again. Buffy was right. This town was no place for the military. He’d round up his men and report to Washington. He didn’t know where they would send them, but anyplace would be better than staying here.
Spike moved quickly through the park and started to head for his crypt when he changed his mind. He stopped, thought for a moment, then headed for the Watchers place. That wasn’t the Buffy who belonged here, so maybe the Watcher was different too. He went up the steps, crossed the patio, and knocked on the door. The Watcher answered, but there was no sign of recognition in his eyes.
“Hello, were you a prisoner in that place as well? Did Buffy send you?”
“Yeah, I was being held there.”
“Come in, I’ll be with you in just a moment.” Rupert turned his back and walked away.
Spike shook his head at the carelessness of the gesture, but didn’t hesitate to cross the threshold and enter the apartment. He hadn’t taken many steps before Oz whirled around and growled, “Spike!”
Rupert looked around in alarm, reaching for a crossbow on the kitchen pass through. Clem smiled. “Spike, I’m glad the Slayer found you. Are you okay?”
Spike held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. “Easy, Watcher, I’m just here to see if Red is okay and to help my pal Clem get home. I’m not suicidal; I’ve got no intention of hurting anyone. Slayer set me free and I’m not going to do anything to change her mind.”
He crossed his arms and glared at Rupert. “However, I am evil. What the bloody hell were you doing inviting someone you didn’t know in after dark. You of all people should know better.” He leaned closer, sniffing the air.
“You aren’t him either. Smell is similar, but not quite right. They did die, didn’t they?”
Rupert looked away briefly, then nodded. “The Powers brought us here from another dimension. A dimension where our world was being destroyed. A few others know, but most don’t. They can’t. They wouldn’t understand.” He straightened and glared back at Spike.
“It doesn’t matter if the demon community knows. The main thing is that we are here and we are guarding the Hellmouth. Even the death of the Slayer and her Watcher won’t change that. The Powers will see to it that someone is here fighting for the side of humanity.”
Spike rolled his eyes. “Whatever.” He looked over at Clem. “You ready to go?”
Clem nodded. “The Watcher gave me some orange juice and some tea and I’m feeling a lot better. It’s really nice of you to come help me, Spike.”
Spike shrugged. “Nice’s got nothing to do with it. Slayer told me to leave town, and I don’t want to leave the place vacant, you know, in case I want to come back. I thought you might be interested in taking care of it for me.”
Clem’s eyes widened. “Wow, really? That would be great. Your crypt is so cool.”
“Yeah, yeah, come on.” Spike went over and helped Clem to his feet. He looked at Willow’s still unconscious form. “Is she going to be okay?”
Rupert gazed at Willow worriedly. “I don’t know. I don’t see anything obviously wrong with her. Tara said they left her in the cell when they took Willow so we don’t know what was done. Although judging by what Clem said was done to him and some of the others it was probably some kind of electric shock treatment. If she doesn’t come around by morning we’ll take her to the hospital.”
Spike scowled. “If I ever get my hands on that woman…..”
“Don’t worry; she’s not going to be bothering anyone again.” They all turned to see Buffy standing in the doorway. “What the hell are you doing here, Spike?”
“Just leaving, Slayer. Thought I might head to L.A.”
“Don’t bother. Angel already knows.”
“Bugger. Come on, then, let’s get you settled in.” He led Clem towards the door. He stopped and turned back. “See you around, Slayer.”
A stake thudded into the door next to his head. His eyes widened and he looked back at Buffy. “Dust in the wind, Spike.” He nodded and hurried away. She sighed and looked over at Rupert. “He always has to push, to see how much he can get away with. Damm it, I won’t go through it again. I mean it; next time I see him I’m going to stake him.”
Rupert eyed her cautiously. “Why wait until next time? Why not now?”
Rupert interrupted. “No, he didn’t.” When Buffy looked at him blankly he continued. “Whatever it was, it wasn’t him. It was the Spike from your world. This vampire has no claim on you.”
Buffy began to pace. “You don’t know what he did. For us and to us. The good that he’s capable of, as well as the bad. He has so much potential, but I just can’t be responsible for him again. I can’t.”
Rupert moved over and intercepted her. He cupped her face in his hands. “Then don’t. Buffy there are things we must see to because of the events that are in motion. He is not one of them. We don’t have to change everything today.” When she started to speak he placed a finger over her lips. “Not today.”
Buffy gave him a wry smile and kissed his finger. She snuggled against his chest with a sigh. “Not today,” she agreed.