There, all caught up.
Chapter Five - Dream a Little Dream
Willow and Tara quietly approached the little courtyard in front of Giles’ apartment. As they reached the top of the stairs they saw Xander and Anya standing in front of the door, arguing.
“I still say we should leave them alone for a couple more days.” Xander said.
“But Buffy called us yesterday and asked us to come over this morning. They want us here.”
“Hey, guys,” Willow interrupted. “Did you knock yet?”
“No, Xander stopped me,” Anya pouted. “Besides, why are we knocking? We’ve always just walked in before.”
“But this isn’t our Buffy and Giles. Maybe we knocked in his world.”
Anya snorted. “I doubt that. They didn’t seem to think we were different.”
Willow looked at Xander and they both shrugged. Willow opened the door and the four entered.
Buffy was asleep on the sofa and Giles was asleep in a chair facing her. It was evident that their sleep was not restful. Buffy’s face was contorted in a frown and her hands were clenched into fists. Giles’ face was the picture of despair. As they watched, he sat upright, shouting “Buffy, no! Dear god, please, no.” His eyes franticly searched the room.
Buffy, having been awakened by his shout, bolted off the sofa and knelt beside his chair. “Rupert, it’s alright. I’m here.” She grabbed his shoulders and shook him gently. “I’m here.”
Rupert took several deep, gasping, breaths. His hands skimmed over Buffy, coming back to cup her face. He leaned forward and touched his forehead to hers’. They sit that way for a long moment, then Rupert moved back, his hands caressing her face as they slid away. He sank back in his chair, eyes averted. “I’m sorry. It was a bad dream.”
“It was bad enough to live through it the first time, but to dream about all those people dying again, wow, harsh.” At the sound of Willow’s voice, the pair jerked and looked around, obviously not realizing that they weren’t alone.
Rupert drew another breath, glanced at Buffy, then away again. “The dream wasn’t about what happened. It was something different.”
Rupert sat staring into space, silent.
Buffy rose from where she was still kneeling and went into the kitchen. She filled a kettle and put it on the stove. The others looked at each other awkwardly, then quietly sat down. The kettle whistled and Buffy made tea. She carried out a tray, placed it on the coffee table and handed Rupert a cup.
He took the cup automatically, then looked at it as if he didn’t know how it came to be in his hand. He took a sip, and without preamble began to speak. “It was night. Downtown Sunnydale. There was a tower made out of metal, like construction scaffolding. There were two people at the top, a young girl with long brown hair, and a man.” Rupert looked at Buffy. “You were climbing up. I was trying to reach the tower, but it was like I was moving in slow motion, I couldn’t seem to get there.” He looked away again.
“The girl was crying and the man took a knife and cut her legs. Her blood dripped on the boards, then off into the air. When the blood hit the air halfway to the ground, a portal opened. Demons began to come through. You reached the top and threw the man off. Then you hugged the girl, turned, and jumped off the tower. When you came to the place where the portal was, you floated in the air, lightening crackling around you. I ran faster, trying to get under you, but the portal closed and you fell.”
Buffy paled and sat back on the sofa. “That’s what I was dreaming about too. But it wasn’t just a dream. It happened.”
“Dear lord, it really happened? But, you fell so far. Even with Slayer healing it must have taken you weeks to recover.”
Buffy gave a little sobbing laugh. “Yeah, death is tough to recover from.”
Rupert’s pallor matched hers. “Death?”
“I died. Second time. That’s when we found out that I was out of the loop. No new Slayer was Called. Travers and the Council never knew.”
“But, I don’t understand,” Willow began slowly, “if you died, how are you here?” Her face brightened. ‘Oh, I get it. Giles or Xander did CPR until the paramedics got there.”
Buffy gave her a strange look. “Yeah, something like that. But we’re getting off track. I asked you guys to come over to help bring us up to date on what our counter-parts in this dimension were doing, and to tell you about things that happened in my dimension so we can see if we can keep them from happening here.”
“But isn’t that messing with the timeline? Don’t they always warn against doing that in the movies?” Xander asked.
“This is different. We’re not from your dimension, and some things are already different here, so the not messing with the timeline thing doesn’t count. I only know what happened in my dimension, and there were some uber bad things that I don’t want to go through again. I’ll do whatever I can to keep them from happening here.”
Tara said quietly, “You never mentioned me or your Mom when you were talking about the people who died. Does that mean we were already dead?”
"Yes, you and my Mom were already dead before the battle with the First." Buffy looked away, gathering her thoughts. “Mom starting have bad headaches, but thought it was stress from the business and my life as a Slayer so she didn’t go to the doctor. One day she passed out at the gallery and the doctor ran a CAT scan. He discovered a tumor, but it was too big to try to do chemo, so they did surgery. Mom came through the surgery just fine, but it had weakened a blood vessel that caused an aneurysm a couple of weeks later. I came home from school and found her dead on the sofa in the living room.”
The others gasped. Buffy turned to look at Tara. “As for you, there were these three guys we went to high school with that for some weird reason decided they wanted to be master criminals. They felt the only thing standing in they’re way was me, so they tried various ways to get rid of me. After the other things didn’t work, Warren gave up on being sneaky and came after me with a gun. Xander and I were in the back yard at my house. Warren came through the bushes and shot me. When Xander started chasing him, he took off, shooting wildly at Xander as he was running. One of the shots went into the house and hit you, killing you instantly.”
Willow gave a little moan and clutched Tara’s hand.
“So you see, these are things we can change. Mom can go to the doctor and get diagnosed sooner, so she won’t need the surgery. And since we know who the three geeks are, we can stop them before things go as far as they did in my dimension. Tara doesn’t need to die by mistake here.”
Willow sat up straight, her Resolve face on. “I’ll do whatever it takes. It’s not going to happen here.”
“Good, but that was a couple of years from now. There are more urgent things I need to talk to you about.”
Buffy was silent a moment, as if trying to decide what to say. “I guess the first thing is Riley. How involved with him was the Buffy from here?”
Willow looked puzzled. “I thought you said you were going to read the diaries. Didn’t you?”
“Yeah, and her diary said that she had been trying to break off with him, but that he wasn’t taking the hint. Then I saw him at Mom’s with the rest of you when we fell in.” Buffy sighed. “I guess what I really want to know is what else do you know about him, and do you think his knowing that we’re not from here is going to be a problem.”
Xander looked at her curiously. “Wasn’t there a Riley where you came from?”
“Yes, there was, and that’s why I need to know what you know about him. My Riley wasn’t what he appeared to be.”
Xander’s eyes widened. “You mean he’s a vampire? No wait, we’ve all seen him in the daylight.” He thought for a moment. “Is he a demon in disguise?”
“No, he’s human.” Buffy paused. “Is he in the ROTC? And is Professor Walsh an instructor at the university?”
“Yes and yes.”
“I don’t want to say anything else until I can check something out, but this may not be good. At least, it turned out not good where I came from. Damn, I was really hoping that we wouldn’t need to go through this part too.” Buffy sat thinking for a few minutes. “That will have to wait. I want to get back to the original reason I asked all of you over. There are things that we are going to need to know to be able to take the place of your Buffy and Giles. I fell asleep while Rupert was reading the diaries, so he probably has some questions for me too.”
“Rupert?” Willow asked hesitantly.
Willow shook her head. “No, I mean, Buffy, why are you calling him Rupert?”
“Because we thought it would be easier. I had my Giles, and you had your Giles, but he isn’t them. He didn’t go through the same experiences that they did, but if you keep calling him Giles you might forget. Calling him Rupert will remind you that he’s not the man you knew.”
“But, won’t it sound strange to other people if we start calling him Rupert all of a sudden?”
“Not really. There aren’t that many people who are that close to us.” Buffy frowned. “As least not in my world. Are things different here?”
“No, Giles didn’t start teaching until the second semester and his students call him Professor Giles. Our group are the only people he’s really been close to since Miss Calendar.” Xander shrugged. “I might forget from time to time, but I’ll try it. Rupert,” he said in an experimental way, “Rupert. Has a nice ring to it. It’ll be cool.”
Rupert and Buffy exchanged looks and smiled. Nice to know that some things didn’t change; Xander was Xander. Rupert cleared his throat and said, “Very well, now if you don’t mind, I do have some questions. This may take some time, perhaps you should all get comfortable.”
Xander raised his hand. “Uh, how long? Just asking, cause breakfast was a while…..”
Rupert interrupted. “Call and request whatever type of pizza you wish; I’ll pay for it. Buffy if you will fix more tea? Willow, we will begin with you, if that is convenient. I want you to start telling me your point of view of all the events that have occurred since the Master.”
Xander moved to the phone, Buffy went into the kitchen, and Willow frowned in concentration. After a short silence, she began to talk.
Seven long hours later, Rupert leaned back in his chair and closed the notebook that he had been writing in. Willow and Xander exchanged looks and sighed in relief. It had been worse than a research session. During those Giles had always led the discussions, but this time they had been the ones talking.
Rupert looked at the window and saw that the sun was beginning to set. “I think that’s enough for today, you should be getting home before dark. If you can possibly meet with us again tomorrow, we’ll go over the event’s that happened to Buffy in her world from this time onwards.” Rupert looked over at where Buffy was dozing on the sofa. “That is if Buffy agrees after she wakes up.”
“I’m awake,” she mumbled.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“Wasn’t really sleeping.” Buffy sat up and stretched, wincing slightly. “Just drifting in and out. Don’t remember the last time I felt rested. It’s been a hard couple of years.”
Willow looked at her in concern. “Buffy, is something wrong with your Slayer abilities? That cut on your forehead hasn’t healed yet, and it’s been two days. The last time it took so long for you to heal was when Giles gave you the test on your 18th birthday.”
Buffy raised the hem of her shirt and peeled away the bandage on her side. The wound was gone, leaving a red scar. “No, healing coming along fine. This was the worst so it had to be fixed first. It still feels a little sore, but no pain, not really. I bet the cut will be gone in the morning.”
Rupert rose and went to her side, turning her slightly so he could remove the bandage on her back. “Yes, this looks the same.” He pulled back. “If it were up to me I would have you skip patrol again tonight, but I know that wouldn’t be a good idea. The vampire population must be kept in check. I think I should go out with you, just in case.”
Buffy smiled. “Sounds like a plan, Watcher-mine.” Her face crumbled briefly and Rupert saw pain in her eyes, then she smiled sadly. “You don’t mind if I can you that, do you?”
Rupert pushed the hair away from her face. “No, I don’t mind at all.”
Xander spoke up. “Maybe we should all go. You know, strength in numbers and all that.”
Buffy shook her head. “Thanks for the offer Xander, but not tonight. I need to check something out, and the fewer of us the better.” Xander nodded.
Rupert stood. “Very well then, if everyone agrees, we meet back here the same time tomorrow.”
The others nodded and rose to leave. The telephone rang. Buffy, being the closest, answered. “Giles residence.”
She listened. “Hi, Wes. What’s up?” As she listened her face first registered disbelief, then anger. “Oh that’s just great. Really great. When?” After a few more moments she said, “Thanks for the warning, we really appreciate it. I’ll call and let you know what happens. Bye.”
Buffy placed the receiver back on the cradle and began swearing under her breath. Rupert, who was near enough to hear, blinked in surprise. Where had she learned those words? “Buffy, what’s the matter?”
“That was Wesley. It seems that even though these guys didn’t call the Council," Buffy waved at Xander and Willow, "and Wesley didn’t call the Council, the Embassy did. They then informed the Council of our miraculous return. Travers decided to check it out for himself. Wes has a friend on Travers’ team who called to let him know. They just landed at LAX and will be here in a couple of hours.”
Rupert looked at her in disbelief. “Bloody hell.”
Chapter Six - The Council Intrudes
“I agree,” Buffy sighed. “We really don’t have the time to deal with Quentin right now.” She stood for a moment, lost in thought. Her head lifted and she looked at Rupert in panic. “Faith. We have to get her out of that hospital.”
Rupert frowned. “Why?”
“Because when I tell Quentin where to go, and trust me I will if he starts acting like he did when he was here for the test, he might remember that technically I’m not the active Slayer. Faith is. And that means that he is just one comatose girl away from having a Council trained Slayer at his beck and call.”
“But, he wouldn’t…” Rupert’s voice trailed off as he remembered what his counterpart had written in his diary.
Buffy nodded grimly. “He would. Oh, he would regret the necessity, but to him the Slayer is just a tool to be used and discarded. I’m not saying he would kill her himself, but he wouldn’t think twice about ordering it done.” She started pacing. “Why now? There are so many other things we need to be worrying about. How can I get Faith out of there, and what do I do with her?”
“Um, Buffy?” Willow began hesitantly. “Our Buffy and Giles had already come up with a plan.”
Buffy stopped in surprise. “Really? Why?”
“Because they figured that the Council would find out about them eventually and they wanted to get Faith out of the danger zone too. I just need to go back to the dorm, get the paperwork and make a few calls. Xander is going to be Faith’s stepbrother who has been out of the country. He’s going to get her out of the hospital and into a nursing home under another name. Don’t worry about this; we’ll have Faith safe before the Council people get here.” Willow looked over at Xander, who nodded.
Buffy’s eyes filled with tears, and she swallowed hard. “You guys are the best friends I could ever possibly have, in any dimension.” She walked over and hugged first Willow, then Xander. She stepped back. “I knew that Willow knew, cause they were supposed to be roommates at the dorm, but you knew too?”
Xander blushed. “I, ah, sort of walked in on something a few days ago, just before the accident.”
Anya blinked and spoke for the first time in over an hour. “That’s why you wanted to knock.”
Buffy gave Xander another hug. “Poor Xand.” She stepped back. “Time’s wasting. Better go.” The others nodded and turned to leave. “Oh, just to be on the safe side, don’t come over until we call. I don’t want you guys to have to deal with the Council. We’ll give you the all clear when they leave town.” The others nodded again and left.
Buffy turned back to Rupert. “We still have a couple of hours until they get here; I think we should patrol now.”
Buffy looked down at what she was wearing, then over at Rupert. “We need to be as invisible as possible for one of the things I want to check out so we’d better change into something stealthy.” She bounded up the stairs.
Rupert gave a little smile as he watched her go. She seemed to be regaining her strength. Good. He started to clean the mess left from the past few hours. When Buffy came down to use the shower, he went up the stairs to change.
Sitting on the side of the bed as he changed shoes, Rupert noticed another diary. He frowned. Why was there one here? The diary downstairs had ended just after this dimension’s Buffy and Giles had moved in together. He had assumed that nothing had happened to warrant the beginning of a new diary.
Rupert reached over and picked up the book. When he opened it, a folded piece of paper fell out. He hesitated before unfolding the paper, a strange feeling of reluctance keeping him momentarily frozen. This was going to change things, he wasn’t sure how he knew, but he did. Rupert drew a deep breath and opened the page.
When Buffy emerged from the bathroom she was surprised that Rupert wasn’t waiting for her in the living room. She glanced towards the stairs. “Hey, are you decent? I’m coming up.” She walked slowly up the stairs, pausing as she spotted him sitting on the bed, staring blankly into space. Buffy rushed up the few remaining steps. “Rupert, what’s wrong?”
He turned the blank gaze on her and held out a piece of paper. Buffy glanced down and gasped in shock. “They were married? But, why? I mean, they were already living together, so what was the rush?" Her hand unconsciously crept down to cover her stomach. "Oh, God, was she?" Buffy couldn't finish the sentence.
Rupert blinked a few times, puzzled, then seemed to notice where her hand was. "No, she wasn't pregnant. This diary has only one entry. He wrote that Buffy woke up screaming because she had had a prophetic dream in which Travers and his flunkies made a surprise visit and had his green card revoked when they found them living together. She was terrified that she would lose him and talked him into flying to Las Vegas to get married." Rupert gave a little snort. "He admits that it didn't take much persuading. The only thing he was worried about was how they were going to tell Joyce and the others."
Buffy looked down at the paper. "They were married on the 10th." She glanced up at Rupert. "I just realized that I don't know what the date is."
"It's the 25th. They were married for ten days before they were killed."
"Ten days." Buffy folded the license and handed it back to him. "They obviously hadn't figured out what to say, because no one knew. I sure they would have told us." Buffy sighed. "Well, this does take care of one problem. You're safe from Travers."
"I don't understand. Why wouldn't I have been safe from him in any event?"
"Travers tried to pull that on us. He threatened to have Giles deported, but I called his bluff. Not only did he not have Giles deported, I made them hire him back, and give him back pay for all the time he was off." Buffy stood up and started pacing again. "The thing is, we were in the middle of another apocalypse, and that gave me leverage. But right now nothing is going on and if Travers starts throwing his weight around and I tell him off he'll try to retaliate in a way that he knows will hurt me, and that's you."
Rupert waved the license. "But this isn't us."
"It is now. You are Rupert Giles, married to Buffy Summers and that makes you an American citizen. Travers can't touch you." He started to protest again, but Buffy cut him off, kneeling in front of him. "Rupert, we won't tell them unless it's absolutely necessary, but you do see the importance of using the license if we have to, don't you? Also, this gives us the perfect excuse to live together."
Buffy gave a little start as she realized what she had just said. “Um, I don’t mean LIVE together, I mean get a bigger place and be roommates.” She looked away for a moment, then back to him. “It hasn’t happened yet, we’ve only been asleep twice since we got here, but I wake up screaming most nights. Nightmares.” He started to say something but she cut him off. “More long explanations that we don’t really have the time for right now. But I think you’ll be able to handle it better than Mom or Willow. I feel safe around you.” She shrugged. “Of course, it’s really your call. Don’t agree just because I want to do it.”
Rupert gave her a little smile. “Actually, I was considering that yesterday morning. Everything here is the same, and yet so very different, and you are the only one who understands, the only one I don’t have to pretend around. I was hesitant to say anything to you because it seemed weak.”
“It’s not a sin to be weak occasionally, and it’s not weak to ask for help when you need it. I didn’t learn that in time in my world. It’s a mistake I won’t make again. I need you to be here with me, so if Travers pushes the issue, we use that license. Agreed?”
Rupert seemed to struggle to find the right words. After a few minutes he said, "It just seems disrespectful to their spirits. They loved each other, and we don't."
Hearing him say the words gave Buffy a pang, but he was right. She didn't love him. Although it wouldn't be difficult, he was so much like her Giles. She gave him a crooked smile. "Just think of it this way; her prophetic dream is coming true. Travers is arriving on what he thinks is a surprise visit and he's going to find evidence that makes it appear that I'm living here." She stood up.
"But, that problem is still a couple of hours away. We need to patrol and check to see if my suspicions about Riley are correct. Let's go, Watcher-mine." She held out her hand.
Rupert placed the license in his pocket and took her hand, allowing her to pull him to his feet. As they descended the stairs he asked, "What suspicions about Riley? He seemed a pleasant enough young man to me when I met him the other day."
“Riley was this really nice, normal, guy who showed an interest in me and I really wanted to do normal, so I started dating him. He was the TA in one of my classes, the one with Professor Walsh. It was kinda hard, keeping him from finding out about the slaying, but during one of our typical hellmouthy problems I found that he had a secret too.” They left the apartment.
“In her diary, the Buffy from here said that she dated Riley a few times, but then she and her Giles got together. Riley didn’t take it very well when she stopped dating him. He didn’t believe her when she said there was someone else, cause she didn’t tell him who. Finally she told him about the slaying in an effort to get him to back off. When he didn’t she was afraid he was like Owen in high school, a danger junkie. Nothing I read indicated that she knew anything unusual about Riley. In my dimension the event where I found out his secret didn’t happen for another month.”
Two and a half hours later Rupert found himself sitting on the ground in a clump of bushes. He had been astonished by the things Buffy told him. This military group, the Initiative, capturing vampires and demons for experimentation. Professor Walsh experimenting on her own soldiers with performance enhancing drugs. The creation, and destruction, of the being called Adam. He shook his head. Just amazing.
They were currently hiding near where, in her world, the entrance to the underground facility had been hidden. He had wanted to look closer, but Buffy had told him that IF the place existed here, there were surveillance cameras. Best to hide and wait to see if anyone used the entrance. He glanced over at Buffy.
Her eyes were closed and she was breathing rhythmically. He blinked. She was meditating. He gave a silent chuckle. She had finally learned to hone. Her eyes opened, even though he hadn’t moved or made a sound. Her eyebrow lifted and she tilted her head in inquiry. ‘Later’ he mouthed. Buffy flashed him a grin and nodded.
She froze; her entire body the picture of alertness. He waited. After a couple of seconds she gestured towards his right. He listened but it was almost a minute before he heard anything. Multiple footsteps, none of them trying very hard to be quiet, and the sound of something being dragged. The group of men that came into view was being led by Riley Finn and they were half carrying, half dragging something that looked like a VERY large, very hairy, dog. Rupert heard a hiss and looked back at Buffy.
Her mouth was drawn in a tight line and her eyes were blazing with anger. She surged to her feet and rushed over to the men. Rupert picked up his crossbow and followed. Buffy attacked the two men carrying the dog, knocking them out. When Riley and two of the others tried to grab her, Rupert pointed the crossbow at them and warned, “I wouldn’t if I were you.” The men backed away, Riley staring at them in disbelief.
“What do you think you’re doing? You don’t have any idea what that is.”
Buffy rose from where she had knelt to check on the dog. “I know very well WHO this is, and I’m not letting Walsh get her hands on him. Throw your tranq guns over here.” When they hesitated she growled, “Now.” The men tossed the guns at her feet. She picked them up and pointed one at Riley.
“You two take your friends on in and report to the Professor that tonight’s target is off limits. Riley,” she gestured for him to come over as she backed up next to Rupert, “you can help carry him back to Rupert’s place.” The men just stood there and looked to Riley for guidance. Buffy took the crossbow from Rupert and fired at one of the men, pinning his sleeve to the tree behind him. “That wasn’t a request, guys.”
Riley looked shocked, but moved over and started to pick up the front of the dog. “Other end.” Buffy told him.
Not totally understanding what was going on, but enjoying how Buffy was ordering the young man around, Rupert picked up the front of the ‘dog’. Now that he was closer to it, he could see that it wasn’t a dog, it was a werewolf. “Buffy, are you sure..” Before he could finish the sentence she nodded. “Very well.” He started for his flat. Buffy followed, watching behind them in case Walsh decided to send men after them.
At Rupert’s apartment complex she hurried ahead and peered through the window of his apartment. Damn, Travers and company were already there. Buffy stopped the men at the edge of the patio. “We’ll take it from here, Riley.”
“Buffy, what is going on?”
She glanced back at the window. “We don’t have time. Rupert and I have a situation waiting for us, one that it would be better for you if you don’t get involved.” Riley looked over and saw the group of men in the apartment. He gave Buffy a searching look, then nodded.
Buffy gently caressed the head of the werewolf. “This is a guy I went to high school with, I couldn’t let anything happen to him. He didn’t ask for this life. Riley, I really don’t have time now, but you know some of the things Walsh is having you do is wrong. She’s going over the edge, doing things without approval.” Riley started to shake his head. “No, just watch her and think about what I’m saying. I’ll get in touch with you in a few days, when this problem has been dealt with.”
Riley nodded and turned to leave. Buffy caught his arm. “If you want to shake her up, tell her the Slayer knows about Adam and see how she reacts. Remember; watch and think. I’ll call you in a few.” She bent and picked up the other end of the werewolf.
Riley walk a short distance away, turned and watched them enter the apartment. He shook his head. She was so different. She was hard, almost cold. His Buffy would never have even pointed a weapon at living beings, let alone used it. Never mind that she hadn’t hurt anyone. And she was right, Walsh had been doing odd things lately. He would come up with a cover story for her taking the werewolf, and he would do as she said. He would watch and think.
Rupert opened the door to his flat with ease. Strange, considering he had locked the door when they left. He and Buffy carried the unconscious werewolf over to the sofa, ignoring the men who approached them.
Buffy looked at Rupert. “Make sure you have the tranq gun ready in case he comes to before sunrise.”
Rupert nodded. “He’ll need something to wear after the change.”
Buffy thought for a moment. “A pair of your sweats should work. Bottom left drawer of the dresser? Oh, and a blanket from the hall closet.” Rupert nodded again. She ran up the stairs, and the sound of a drawer opening and closing was heard. She returned with the items, then went to the closet for the blanket.
Quentin cleared his throat, rather noisily.
Rupert raised an eyebrow, but continued to look at Buffy. “Funny thing, I’m sure that I locked the door when we left. Wouldn’t that mean that anyone in here when we returned would be guilty of breaking and entering?”
“Yeah, think we should call the police?”
“Enough of this nonsense, Rupert.” The pair turned to face Quentin.
“What do you want, Quentin. As you can see, Buffy and I are rather busy.”
“Busy? Nursing a werewolf? You are supposed to kill demons, not nurse them.”
Buffy took a step forward. “He’s not a demon,” she growled, “he’s a man, a friend. Say what you came here to say, and get out.”
Quentin gave them a sour smile. “Still charming. As for why we are here, why to witness your miraculous return of course.”
“I’m surprised that you weren’t suspicious of the report of Buffy’s death. After all, there wasn’t a new Slayer called, was there?”
“No, no new Slayer. But, why did it take you so long to go for help?”
“We were both knocked out, and I was hurt a lot worse than we let the police know. My injuries would have killed in a normal girl. We couldn’t tell them that, so we just gave them the concussion story. Which was true in Rupert’s case; that’s why we didn’t go for help until we did.”
Quentin exchanged looks with one of the other men. “We thought is might be something like that. Allow Dr. Pederson to check you over.”
Buffy looked to Rupert. He nodded. Buffy led the doctor to the bathroom. They came back out a few minutes later.
“The Slayer was correct; her injuries would have been fatal to a normal girl. However her healing abilities are operating perfectly and she seems to have no ill effects from the ordeal.”
“What exactly were her injuries?”
“Numerous bruises and contusions. The worst injuries were a hairline fracture of the skull, and she was run through with a sword.”
Quentin looked back at Buffy. “You realize, of course, that your ability to perform as the Slayer is vital to the world. Tomorrow we will run a series of tests to judge your fitness. Now first we”
Buffy cut him off. “No.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Do you need a hearing aide? I said no. No tests. No hoops. No jumps. No.”
One of the officious little men with Quentin began, “I don’t believe you understand the seriousness of the situation, Miss Summers.”
Buffy cut him off. “Oh, I understand. You guys are the ones who don’t get it. I’m not taking any of your tests. Nada. Zip. Zilch. So you may as well just go away.”
The man looked to Quentin for guidance. Quentin stared at Buffy for a long moment, then smiled, a very unpleasant smile. “We need to confer on this situation so we’ll leave, for now. Expect to hear from us tomorrow.” He left, and the others quickly followed.
Buffy turned to Rupert. “Three guesses as to where they’re going.”
“I don’t need more than one.”
Buffy picked up the phone and quickly punched in a number. “Willow? It’s Buffy. Travers and company just left here.” Rupert moved closer and Buffy held the receiver out so he could hear as well.
“Don’t worry,” Willow’s voice said, “we got her out of there over an hour ago. There’s no way he will find her.”
“Thanks again, Will. I want to hear the whole story, after they leave town. We’ll call and let you know when it’s all clear.” She started to hang up, stopped, hesitated, then said, “Willow, Oz is back.”
Silence, then a gasp. “There was a full moon tonight.”
“Yeah, the wolf is unconscious on Rupert’s sofa right now. We’ve got enough sedatives to keep him out until morning. Do you want to see him?”
There was a long pause. “I’m not sure. I’ll need to think about it.”
“Fair enough. I’ll tell him if he asks. Later.” She placed the receiver back onto the cradle.
Almost immediately it began to ring. “Rupert Giles residence.”
“Hey, Buffy, it’s Xander.”
“Is there a problem?”
“Just wanted you to know. Anya and I came back to the hospital after we got Faith started on her trip out of town, you know, to keep watch. A bunch of guys in tweed showed up a couple of minutes ago.”
“Wow, they got there fast. They didn’t see you, did they?”
“Nah, we’re parked under the broken light. No way that they could see we were in the car, even if they looked this way, which they didn’t. Whoa!” Xander exclaimed.
“They just blew back out, and man does that one guy look pissed!”
“I wonder if they’ll come back here tonight, or wait until tomorrow. Well, thanks for the update, Xand. You guys get home where it’s safe. We’ll call you when they leave town.”
“Later.” There was a click as Xander hung up.
Buffy placed the receiver back down and looked at Rupert. “What do you think?”
“He said he’d come back tomorrow, so I don’t expect to see him until then. He’s probably back at his hotel making phone calls trying to find Faith, then when they don’t, he’ll hold a strategy session on how he’ll deal with us tomorrow.”
“That sounds about right. I really hate to say I told you so, but I did. They headed straight for Faith.” She gave him a serious look. “We’re going to need to use the license.”
“It would appear so.”
“I really hate that he’s going to be the first to know. I wish there was some way we could tell the others, but I want to tell them in person. The phone won’t cut it.”
“I agree, they need to be told in person.” Rupert glanced at the clock. “Dear lord, is that the time? It feels like it should be later.”
Buffy looked. 9:15. “Wow, you’re right. I though it was midnight at least.” She looked back at Rupert. “Mom would still be up. Maybe she could come over.”
“It’s up to you.”
Buffy picked up the phone and tapped the number. “Hi, it’s Buffy. Are you busy?” There was a small pause as she listened. “Um, something’s come up and we need to talk to you, but we can’t leave Rupert’s place. Can you come over here?” Another pause. “Okay, see you in a few.” She hung up the phone. “She’s on her way.”
“I’ll go get the diary. Perhaps if she reads his words she’ll be more understanding.” Rupert headed for the stairs.
“Right.” Buffy frowned slightly. “They were married, so wouldn’t they have had rings? I’m sure they wouldn’t have worn them to go see Angel, so they should be here, right?”
“I’ll check on the dresser.”
Buffy went out to the edge of the patio. A few minutes later when she saw the car pull into the parking lot. Joyce emerged and climbed the steps. When she reached the patio she pulled Buffy into a hug, then pulled back to look at her. “Alright, I’m here. What’s the problem?” The two women crossed the patio and entered the apartment.
Joyce saw the werewolf on the sofa and flinched back.
Buffy looked confused, then said, “Oh, no, that’s not the problem. Well, it’s a problem, but not the one we wanted to talk with you about. Rupert, did you find them?” Buffy looked up at the loft.
“Not yet.” There was the sound of faint rustling. “Ah, yes, I have them.” He appeared at the top of the steps. “I’m sorry we needed to bother you at this time of the evening, Joyce, but it really is important.” Rupert looked at Oz on the sofa, and glanced around the room. “If you would have a seat at the desk, we have something we need to tell you.”
Joyce sat and looked between the pair. “I was trying to think of what was so important that it couldn’t wait until tomorrow, and I believe I know what you’re going to say. I know that they didn’t know that I knew, but my Buffy was living here with him, wasn’t she?”
“I’m not as unobservant as they thought. They had that big fight and he kept sending her flowers that she threw away. Then the flowers stopped, but Buffy had this look about her. She was just glowing with happiness. At first I didn’t understand why they didn’t tell me, then I decided it was because of the candy incident. I was going to give them a little more time, then I was going to start giving them hints to let them know that I knew and was alright with it.”
Buffy exchanged looks with Rupert. “That is part of it. There’s more. We need you to read this.” She took the diary from Rupert and handed it to Joyce.
The diary entry wasn’t very long, only two pages, but Joyce read it three times before she looked up at them. “They were married,” she said in a flat voice, “married and never told me. Why is it so important for me to know this now? They’re gone, it doesn’t make any difference now.”
“I’m afraid it does,” Rupert said gently. “Quentin Travers and his men were here earlier this evening.”
Joyce looked up in alarm. “Did he threaten to deport you?”
“Not then, but they said they would be back in the morning and we think he will try that threat then.” Rupert gave a little huff. “Prophecy has a way of coming true, in one form or other.”
“They tried to order me around, make me do some tests for them. I told him to get lost, more or less.” Buffy shrugged. “That gave him three options. One, go back to England and leave us alone. He won’t do that, cause he needs to feel like he’s in control of the Slayer. Two, kill Faith and get a new Slayer so they can ignore me. He can’t do that cause we got Faith hidden someplace where he can’t get to her. Three, threaten Rupert and try to make me do what he wants to keep Rupert safe. This,” Buffy held up the license, “takes away his ability to threaten us. We will use it if we need to, and we’re pretty sure we’re going to need to. We wanted you to know before we tell him.”
Joyce looked down at her hands. “Married. And they didn’t think that I would understand.”
Buffy looked helplessly at Rupert. “She wanted to tell you, I’m sure she did.”
“When were they married?”
“The 10th,” Joyce murmured. She looked back up. “Buffy came into the gallery on the 12th and said she had something she wanted to tell me, but I was busy and asked her to come back later. I was too busy.” Her eyes filled with tears. “She never got to tell me because I was too busy.” She began to cry.
Buffy pulled her into her arms. “I’m sure she understood. They were probably just trying to get up the nerve to ask you over to dinner or something and tell you together.”
Joyce pulled away, wiping her eyes. “Rupert had asked me to come over to dinner after they got back from Angel’s. When I started to decline, he said it was a birthday party for Tara.”
“Tara’s birthday is in March. Why were you going to say no?” Buffy frowned slightly, then her face cleared. “Still the candy? That was two years ago, if he had been going to hit on you he would have done it sooner.”
Joyce blushed. “Logically I knew that, but I just didn’t feel comfortable alone with him.” She gave a watery sniff. “No wonder they thought I wouldn’t understand, I kept avoiding him.” She gave Buffy a wistful look. “Do you really think they were happy.”
Buffy gestured to all the diaries that still littered the desk. “From the day they met, he wrote in his diaries every day. All of the problems, frustrations, highs and lows. This,” she held up the diary that Joyce had read, “is the only entry after they started to live together. They were so happy, there was no need to write anything down.”
Joyce smiled and stood up. She hugged Buffy, then Rupert. “Thank you for telling me.” She looked at the clock. “I need to go now, I have an appointment for a CAT scan tomorrow morning.” She headed for the door.
Buffy followed. “Do you want me to go with you?”
“No, that’s fine. I’ll call you when the doctor gives me the results. I suppose you’ll be living here on a permanent basis now?”
“We hadn’t talked about it yet. It depends on if Travers makes us use our trump card or not.”
Joyce nodded. “Let me know.” She went out the door, across the patio and down to her car. They watched from the doorway as she drove away. Rupert locked the door after they re-entered the apartment.
“That went better than I expected.”
“I think she’s still in shock.” Buffy gave a worried look towards the door. “Maybe I should have gone with her.”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to be apart while Travers is in town.”
“Right, divided we fall.” Buffy sighed. “I know it’s only a little after 10 o’clock, but I’m tired.”
“Then you should go get some sleep. Take the bed; I’ll stay down here and keep an eye on your friend.”
“But, you need to rest too. You’ve had less sleep than I have since we’ve been here.”
“I’m accustomed to getting by with little sleep. You need the sleep to help your healing.” He saw the protest begin, and forestalled it. “We will split the guard duties. You go lay down and I’ll wake you at 2:00. You can watch over your friend until he changes at sunrise, then lay back down for more sleep at that time. Agreed?”
“Okay.” Buffy headed for the loft. When she reached the bedroom, she leaned back over the rail. “2 o’clock. Promise?”
“Promise.” Rupert gave her a warm smile. “Get some sleep.”
Buffy waved and walked over to the bed. She didn’t bother to undress, just lay down on the cover, and hugged Mr. Gordo.
It seemed she had just closed her eyes, when a voice said, “Buffy, it’s 2 o’clock.” A hand caressed her face. She took a deep breath. “Already?”
The hand smoothed her hair back. The voice softly said, “Never mind, go back to sleep.”
She opened her eyes and sat up. “No, I’m awake. It’s your turn.” She got off the bed and stumbled towards the stairs.
A hand caught her arm. “Careful.” She looked at Rupert, and saw the exhaustion on his face. She gave him a little shove back towards the bed. “I’m good. You lay down before you fall down.” She started down the stairs, but paused after a couple of steps. She looked back towards the bed. “Don’t hog the bed. I’ll be back in a little bit and I don’t want to fight you for my spot.”
Rupert gave a tired chuckle but didn’t respond. Buffy went on down the stairs.
Buffy looked around the room, then discovered there was very little she could do that wouldn’t make noise and disturb Rupert. She rifled through the desk drawers, found a deck of cards, and played solitaire for a while. When that got boring, she looked on the bookshelves for something to read. One entire shelf had apparently belonged to her counterpart, because it was filled by romance novels and the current best selling thrillers. She picked a couple and took them over to the chair, settling in to read.
At some point her run down system, the lateness of the hour, and the quiet of the room conspired to lull her to sleep. Buffy became aware of this fact when she was awakened by the sensation of being watched. She opened her eyes and caught her breath.
Crouched on the floor in front of her chair was a pissed off werewolf, his yellow eyes narrowed. Buffy moved slightly and he growled, baring his teeth.
“Easy, Oz. Just friends here,” she said softly.
He growled again, then leaned forward, sniffing the air. Buffy forced herself to sit very still as the sharp teeth came closer. Just when she thought she would have to grab his throat to hold him off, a ray of the rising sun flooded the room.
The werewolf’s form rippled, shivered, and changed back into Daniel Osborne. Buffy kept her eye fixed on his face. “Hey, Oz. Clothes on the coffee table.”
He blinked in surprise. “Buffy. I heard you were dead. I came to see how Will was holding up.” He stood up, stretched, and moved over to the clothes. “A bit big, but guess I can’t be choosy.” He looked around the room as he slipped the pants on. “How did I get here?”
Buffy stood up and stretched too. “Long story, both of them. How about I tell you over breakfast? Eggs and toast okay?” She spoke softly, glancing at the loft.
Oz followed her gaze. “Yeah, that sounds fine. I’ll help. We can talk out on the patio.”
The two went into the tiny kitchen to prepare breakfast.