The last chapter of the day. The Dr halved my Paxil, so let’s hope that heralds a return of the plot kitties.
“Hey, Slayer,” Whistler chuckled nervously. “Long time, no see.” Although they needed to get everything straightened out, Whistler wasn’t that happy to see Buffy. He hadn’t forgotten her threats the last time she saw him during the ‘Angelus incident’.
Before Buffy could reply the other couples that made up the Scoobies burst out of their assigned rooms.
“What’s going on here?” Xander demanded to know. “How did he get loose? And him?” He pointed at Andrew and Spike.
“Why was I alone in a bedroom with this … this bride abandoner?” Anya waved a hand at Xander.
“Why are we in Sunnydale?” Angel looked around the mansion hallway. There were too many memories stirred within both Angel and Angelus by being back in the mansion.
“When did you get back, Oz?” Willow asked the red-haired man beside her.
“Wasn’t aware I had,” Oz answered softly. He usually took things in stride, but this was a bit weird for him.
“What on earth am I wearing?” Cordelia screeched when she saw her clothing. “I look like some kind of fashion reject from ‘What Not to Wear’.”
Giles raised a hand to quiet the din of noise. “All your questions will be answered, but we only have a short time before our enemies discover this disruption in their spell.” He waved them all into the room that Angel and Cordelia had come out of together.
“Get on with the explain-y, Giles,” Buffy demanded after she and the others had settled themselves in the room. She sat down next to Spike, feeling more comforted by his nearness.
“Well, it started with Cordelia’s kidnapping,” Whistler said. “It wasn’t the Powers that took her.”
Angel growled under his breath at that bit of news. He was about to say something about it when out of the corner of his eye, he saw Buffy take Spike’s hand. “What is that?” Angel pointed at the blonds.
Xander, Anya, and Willow looked at the Slayer and the vampire. They all shrugged. The past few months had proven to them that there was something between Spike and Buffy. After all, she hadn’t staked him when she found out about the First’s trigger. They were getting used to Buffy’s tendency to touch Spike.
Oz lifted one sardonic eyebrow. It wasn’t like Spike would be Buffy’s first vampire boyfriend. Besides, who was he to throw stones? Werewolf, anyone?
Cordelia sighed as she mentally shook her head. Wasn’t Angel over Buffy yet? It sure looked like the girl in question was over Angel.
“None of your business, Angel.” Buffy glared at her ex. Angel had no rights over her anymore, and she certainly wasn’t going to let him butt his nose into something that wasn’t his business. “We have more important matters to attend to besides whose hand I’m holding.”
“Quite right,” Giles observed. He’d had almost a year to get used to the idea of Buffy being with Spike. After all, it had taken the rescue team almost an entire year to stage this little spell. Beyond that, Giles had spied on Spike and Buffy while they were under the influence of the spell. While he hadn’t been surprised by the degree of affection between the two blonds, he had been astonished by the loyalty they displayed. “The beast that was in control of Cordelia’s body has joined forces with the First Evil. You’ve been trapped here in this pocket dimension since last November.”
“That can’t be good,” Buffy muttered. All of her memories of the First were back to the forefront of her mind again. Her hand tightened around Spike’s.
“You’ve been here thinking you’re normal teenagers,” Whistler replied. “It took us six months to find you. We spent another five months trying to recruit enough help to make this all possible. Luckily Halloween is good day to hide spell casting.”
“Hey, at least I’m cool this time,” Spike chortled.
“Oh, shut up, Randy!” Buffy pouted.
“Make me, Joan,” Spike sneered.
Oz’s eyebrow shot up as a vague memory flitted across his mind. “Isn’t that the name of a television show here?”
“Yes, we were attempting to jog your memories in a way that wouldn’t alert the Beast and the First. When most of us lost our memories in Sunnydale because of a spell, Buffy and Spike called themselves Randy and Joan. It was the best that we could come up with at the time to try to tie in this world to the one out of this dimension.” Giles replied. “Andrew, go get the others.”
The young man hurried out of the room.
Whistler walked around to touch each person on the forehead. Each one now remembered their spelled life as well as their Sunnydale existence.
“Tara,” Willow whispered in awe. “She’s here.”
“Only in spirit. She was one of the people we recruited to help us.” Whistler glanced at the door where Andrew appeared with Fred, Gunn, and Wesley. “Of your former allies, she was the only one that wasn’t being watched by the First as she had already been reborn into a new life.”
“Oh no, did we mess that up?” Willow asked in a worried voice. She had many regrets from the year she’d travelled her own dark side. She hoped that she hadn’t messed up any chance that Tara, spirit or not, had to enjoy a new life.
“Absolutely not,” Whistler reassured the young woman. “She’s in a mystical coma.”
“Oh, thank the goddess,” Willow sighed in relief. “Will I get to see her?”
“No, I’m sorry, but she said to tell you that she loves you.” Whistler nodded his head at Willow.
“So, my body’s been hijacked?” Cordelia grunted. She glared at the A.I. members. “Glad to see you guys, but couldn’t you tell it wasn’t me?”
“It’s really good at being you,” Fred said in A.I.’s defense.
“Actually, your body is now in a mystical coma much like Tara’s new body,” Whistler informed Cordelia. “The creature inside was born…”
“I was pregnant?” Cordelia screeched. “Who the hell was the father?” She glared at each of the men in the room.
Gunn glanced at Angel before he said softly, “Connor.”
“Ewwww, that’s disgusting,” Cordelia muttered. “Don’t get me wrong, I love Connor. <I>He was like a son to me!</I>”
“What about Dawn?” Buffy asked.
“She’s fine, Buffy,” Giles assured the Slayer. “She’s well hidden along with the other potentials.”
Buffy nodded briefly. “So, I guess the question is how are going to defeat the Big Bad?” She looked directly at Whistler.
“We’re not sure.” Giles also looked at Whistler with a worried look on his face. “While Dawn and the potentials are safe, they’re trapped just as we have become. This spell is hidden within several others. They are directly on the other side of the barrier that holds us in.”
“What?” Xander leaded forward.
“No!” Spike growled. He still worried about his Nibblet despite the death threats she had given him.
“What about Faith?” Buffy asked.
“Dead.” Andrew bit his lip. “The First and its apostle got a hold of her. We knew she was gone when Kennedy was called.”
“When Kennedy dies there won’t be another Slayer,” Whistler replied. He looked down at his shoes. “<I>All</I> of the potentials are with Dawn.”
Buffy nodded as she put the clues together. “Whoever becomes the next Slayer won’t be of any use.”
“How did you get trapped here, guys?” Willow asked.
“Tara was able to make a small rip in the spell.” Whistler picked up a vase from a nearby table. He rolled it around in his hands. “It only lasted until this spell to change you into your costumes worked. Not to mention she had a time limit on how long she could help us.”
“Yes, the rip has mended itself, and Tara has returned to her body, as we’ve already said,” Giles nodded. “The rip is easy enough to reopen.” He took off his glasses, and he cleaned them on a handkerchief. “I’m afraid the problem is passing through the lattice work of the spell.” They’d had plenty of time to hash and rehash out every detail of their plan. There were some flaws, but it was the best they could do.
“How so?” Willow perked up at this.
“It’s less dangerous to pass into the barrier than to go out of it.” Whistler put the vase down.
“We have Willow though,” Xander replied. He leapt to his feet. “She’s powerful.”
“Anyone involved with the magicks to leave the enchantment must say here,” Whistler said.
“Why didn’t you say so in the first place?” Xander shouted at the demon. “No way is Willow going to be staying.”
“Isn’t there anyone on the outside to help us?” Angel asked. “The Council?”
Giles shook his head. He turned away, and Wesley took up the slack.
“The Council was destroyed months ago. The First and its agents blew it up. There were no survivors.” Wesley’s voice was filled with sadness.
“We tried to get a hold of Graham,” Giles said. “Clem was a big help with that. However the soldiers were over come by the sheer number of demons now inhabiting the world.”
“Wolfram and Hart are gaining more power daily,” Wesley stated. “It’s been a blood bath. Even if we are able to escape successfully, I’m not sure we will be successful in averting the apocalypse.”
“I have a question,” Oz said softly. “What happens to anyone that stays here to do the magic?”
“The spell will resume, and they’ll go on as if they never knew you,” Giles replied.
“I’ll be the one staying to do the spell,” Buffy said. “All I ask is that one of you take a message out to Dawn for me.” Her mind was going over all the memories of her time in the enchantment as well as her life in the real Sunnydale. She was strong enough to help hold the spell, and it sounded like the world outside would need Willow more than her.
“I’m staying too,” Spike’s voice rang out like a bell. He gave Buffy a soft smile. “Till the end of the world, pet.”
“Even if it’s tonight.” Buffy returned his smile as she squeezed his hand.
“Especially if it’s tonight,” Spike squeezed Buffy’s hand in return.
“Count me in,” Oz replied.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/274682.html