Sorry for the delay in more of this.
It was a strange way to start the day, but as Dawn kneeled and said a quick prayer for her sister’s safety, she couldn’t help but think it was fitting. While perhaps not so strange for others, for the sibling of an incarcerated slayer, Dawn figured Faith should have a quicker link to the Higher Ups. Not that they’d ever shuffled their butt to help either girls out at all. Dawn derailed for a second, wondering if Higher Powers had something as human as a butt, shrugged, and finally allowed her mental gymnastics to catch up with the rest of her.
Knees aching but mission completed, she stood, looping her school bag over her shoulder like she had every other day of her teenage life. Life seemed weird lately, though. She’d caught people looking at her strangely and more than once she’d ducked around a corner, hopefully out of sight and employed the truthfulness of her purse mirror to tell her nothing was stuck between her teeth or smeared unattractively over her face.
And Buffy had been visiting more regularly. She’d even taken to arriving at Giles’s place first thing to walk Dawn to school. It was totally cool showing up at school with Buffy. While she never admitted it to anyone, being Faith’s little sister had its drawbacks. Like… being the relative of a murderer. No matter how hard and fast she tried to spin it in her head, Dawn could never convince herself Faith was innocent.
Faith had had it all: super-power strength, obvious sex-appeal, and a chest any pre-teenage girl would envy. Dawn only hoped that she inherited those same genes from their absentee parents. Not the psycho siding-with-evil-mayor genes, though. She so didn’t need to be seduced by the dark side of Hellmouth life. Everyone looked at her strangely enough as it was.
The knock that rattled the door on its hinges could only have come from Buffy and Dawn quickly rushed down the stairs, smiling at Giles as he handed her a toasted pop tart and returned to burying his nose in the morning newspaper.
The blonde smiled warmly at the young girl and not for the first time Dawn wondered why the Slayer had taken such a shine to her when Faith had caused her so much heartache.
“Hey there, midget. You ready to go?” Buffy watched as Dawn got so excited her hands began to flap and her smile nearly consumed her face.
“You mind if we raincheck? Jake Baxter asked me to ride to school with him in his new car.” The enthusiasm dimmed fractionally as confusion settled on her face. “He did tell me the model and everything but you know, car. Who cares as long as it runs and I’m sitting in the front next to Jake?”
“Absolutely,” Buffy agreed, mirth held barely in check. “Details should never stand in the way of young love. Off you go then. Scoot!” Buffy practically pushed Dawn’s bouncing form toward the door, but the resistance was gone the instant a car horn broke suddenly through the quiet morning. Dawn slammed the front door and was gone in less than a second.
“That boy had better be worth it,” Giles muttered dryly. “She’s been barely holding herself together waiting for this morning to arrive.” A paternal grin broke out on his face as he lifted his teacup toward his lips. “Anything newsworthy occur on patrol last night?”
Buffy shook her head no and flopped down in a chair opposite her watcher. “It’s completely dead out there.”
“Surely not,” Giles teased.
“I’m completely serious!” The Slayer was obviously exasperated as she flung herself into a chair opposite her watcher. “Either there’s something going on out there that I don’t know about, killing all the demons before I can get to them—and lets not have a round of Initiative, the sequel—or they’ve all packed up and moved interstate.” Buffy pouted.
They sat in quiet contemplation before Giles returned his teacup to its matching saucer and brought up the subject Buffy barely allowed to be spoken.
“Has there been any further contact from Spike?” It astounded him that his voice even now still held hope. Why he cared a jot whether the vampire lived to tell another tale or not was nothing short of confounding, but despite Willow’s assertions the previous year to the contrary, he wasn’t blind. He’d had long months watching his slayer pine for a relationship she’d never had the opportunity to lay properly to rest. Understanding and sympathising with her pain might have been a very un-watcher-like thing to do, but Giles felt quite grateful that he had that depth to his relationship with Buffy. He’d once been accused of treating her like a daughter instead of his charge, and he rather thought that, alongside Dawn, she was. And he’d go to the ends of the earth to see his girls happy.
Apparently, Spike could have made Buffy happy.
All his efforts to locate Spike had hit a figurative brick wall. One source had reported a sighting of the bleached vampire during a confrontation with Angel, but he’d not been seen since. A phone call had been placed immediately to Angel Investigations with a denial of knowing anything bouncing quickly from Angel’s lips. Further phone calls had revealed a split in Angel’s operation and Giles had found himself speaking rather often with his fellow watcher as Wesley settled into a non-Council influenced life. He’d gleaned no information whatsoever—but that didn’t mean Giles didn’t have a gut feeling about it all. Particularly on finding out about some of Angel’s more questionable recent activities.
“No.” Buffy stared at the table and Giles sighed as he observed a shaking hand reach for the amulet that fell from a leather strap encircling her throat. “It’s like he just vanished. Is that normal?” He felt dreadful at how weak her voice was when she was consumed with worry. “I mean, he’s a master vampire. Can he just disappear like that?”
Gathering his courage, Giles dropped the paper uselessly to the table and reached across to grasp one of Buffy’s hands. “I don’t believe so. In fact, I think I might know where he is…or at least…why he disappeared. I… I think Angel might have… detained him.”
Buffy’s face scrunched up in confusion. “Detained him? Like on those cop shows? Why would he do that?”
The watcher stared at her hand and wondered how many fingers she’d leave unbroken when he finally broke through the rose-coloured wall Buffy had spent years building around all things sacredly Angel.
“Buffy, Angel isn’t quite himself lately. And I daresay, Spike did torture him for the Gem of Amara. I’d be shocked if he chose to just let that slide by. Still… I’ve heard reports from Wesley and Cordelia—and some other person called Gunn—that Angel set fire to Drusilla and Darla.”
The information was apparently slow to digest. Buffy took a few minutes before her eyes widened and her grip on his fingers became much more proactive. “Darla? But that’s impossible. She became one with the dust years ago.”
“There is a story,” Giles began, feeling a monumental tightening in his frontal lobe that he’d have to kill soon with a bottle of scotch. “She was brought back to life, re-sired but this time by Drusilla, and has returned to a life of mayhem and murder. I’m very sorry that Angel hasn’t bothered to keep us informed of this, but it would seem his mind is on other things. Quite possibly, torturing Spike for the hell of it.”
“But… he set them to fire. That’s what you said, right? So does that mean Dru and Darla are nothing but interesting pictures in the watcher books again?”
Please say he killed them, Buffy pleaded silently.
“I’m afraid not.” Giles reached inside himself to deliver the final grim news. “Angel would appear to have changed, Buffy. He might not be Angelus, but his soul—his conscience—is quite obviously failing him. He’s… allowed people to be killed by them. He’s actually locked them in a room with some lawyers—that is, human lawyers that he has apparently taken issue with. I fear that Spike may no longer be with us.” He clasped both her hands tightly, his heart cracking at the slow tears that had formed in Buffy’s sad eyes.
She raised them to him, her expression haunted, and he wished he could give her miracles.