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Chapter 22 Anything It’s Not
Please don’t make this
about anything its not.
I can’t be as sorry
as you think.
But I still love you more
than anyone else could.
Make This Go On Forever
Buffy was waiting when Spike returned from the poker game. “Okay, you tell me about Spikey’s adventures at the poker game and I’ll tell you about Buffy’s adventures at the office.”
“Those sound like porn movie titles, luv.” He kissed her and walked to the small roll top desk under the window. “I’ve got some info about the mine and a bit about McGee.”
Spike had already decided not to worry Buffy by talking about the Sheriff, so he diverted her attention by dropping a heavy canvas sack on the desktop. “Oh, and I won a bit of dosh, too.”
Buffy laughed, delighted. Spike had done it after all, the vamp was nothing if not surprising. “Okay, you can keep me in the style that I plan to become accustomed to, I get it.”
She reached under the bed and pulled out the crystal. “But my new crystal beats your old sack of money any day.”
Spike strode over and took a closer look. “Was this in McGee’s office?”
“Yeah, and that was about the only thing, too. I sure wish Giles was here to figure out what this thing does.”
“Yeah, about Giles, there’s something I need to tell you.”
When Buffy heard that Willow and Tara were staying in the hotel, she insisted on being shown to their room and woke the witches without a qualm. After the initial delighted hugs were over, the first thing they did was give her Giles’ room number; the second was assure her that Dawn was fine, then they agreed to dress and meet again in fifteen minutes.
Buffy asked Spike to pick up some coffee from the saloon for everybody while she went to wake the Watcher. When Spike turned for the stairs, she called his name out softly.
Buffy walked over, touched his face and continued to speak softly. “I’m going to tell everyone about us in the morning, I just don’t want them distracted right now. There’s a lot to catch up on, especially with the crystal.” She caught his hand. “I’m not going to try to hide our relationship.”
“There is a lot to talk about, but I’m not sure pretendin’ anythin’ is different than it really is would be a good idea, even for just one night.”
“You’re probably right. I guess we’ll just have to play it by ear.”
She kissed him. “I’ll catch you back at the room.”
Before the Slayer could walk away, Spike said softly. “It’s bloody great news about the Niblet.”
Buffy smiled. “Yeah, it really is.” Her expression grew serious. “I’ll see you in a few minutes upstairs.”
Spike nodded and started down the stairs. Buffy was nervous about actually saying outright that they were a couple, and he was nervous, too. Neither Rupert nor the witches were stupid or unobservant and Spike knew that the minute they realized the blond couple were sharing a hotel room with only one bed, they would be suspicious. The moment they became suspicious, they would begin to watch for clues that supported their suspicions.
Spike realized that no matter how they tried to act, he and Buffy were fairly transparent, neither one of them very adept at hiding their feelings.
They didn’t have to worry about telling everyone; it would become obvious fairly quickly. It was actually how the trio reacted to the news that was the most important.
Spike knew that thoughts revolving around a pointed stick would probably figure prominently in Rupert’s initial reaction. Spike smirked. Later tonight, Rupes would probably wish the saloon carried valium, or at least extra strength Tylenol.
It took Giles a few moments to answer the door when Buffy knocked. He opened the door while still trying to adjust his glasses and blinked owlishly in the hall’s bright light. “What is it Willow?” He looked down at the woman standing there with a grin on her face.
“Good Lord. Buffy, is it really you?”
She reached out to give the shocked man a hug. “Yup, it’s really, truly me. One Slayer at your service.”
While her Watcher struggled to wake up and grasp the situation, Buffy moved past him into the room. “This looks exactly like the other rooms. You’d think they’d at least try for some variation, you know, kinda like Disney did. They’ve got each room decorated differently. When I was little we stayed in a room that had huge mouse ears all over the walls.” She shrugged. “Maybe it’s a western thing or maybe just another dimension thing.”
“Giles, we’re meeting upstairs in room seventeen in ten minutes and Spike went to get everyone coffee.” She looked amused. “I think you need it most of all, must be the age.” Still leaving the gaping Watcher standing there, she strolled to the door. “We’ve got lots to talk about; the sitch is a little confusing.” She closed the door.
Ten minutes later Spike, secretly amused, handed out coffee. He had drawn the whelp’s job. Bet they forgot where they were and tried to send him out for donuts later.
“Oooh, this coffee is really hot.” Willow leaned over her cup and blew. She leaned back against the couch, experimentally took another sip, and beamed. She was happy to see Buffy again and bonus, she wouldn’t be required to walk across the desert tomorrow. Being awakened in the wee hours of the morning? No biggie.
Used to sudden situations arising, everyone settled down remarkably fast. Buffy recited a carefully edited version of their stay. Giles brought the blonde couple up to speed on what the Scoobies had discovered.
After Willow completed her explanation of the four horsemen, Buffy leaned close and spoke to Spike. They had unconsciously sat down close to each other on the floor, leaning against the side of the bed. “So those demons in the mine are buddies of the dark horse guy.”
“Black Rider.” Spike frowned. “They must be able to communicate with each other somehow. That’s how the wanker sussed who I was.”
Spike had noticed the frown that had appeared on the Watcher’s face when he had sat down next to Buffy. When she leaned in toward him and made the comment about the demons, Giles had briefly stared at them both. Spike knew the next time they did something that Giles considered out of character; the Watcher would be certain. Not wishing to be the one who forced the issue, Spike focused his attention on the floor.
Tara showed Buffy the picture of Teague.
“Yeah, that’s the guy that died.” Buffy placed her hand gently on Spike’s thigh. “Where did you put the saddlebags? I want Giles to have a look at those books.”
Spike nodded, squeezed her hand and got up to get the saddlebags. Mentally slapping himself for his own faux paux, he tried to divert the Watcher’s attention. “Slayer, you should show your Watcher the crystal.”
Giles had watched the exchanges between Spike and Buffy since the meeting had first begun. They were behaving so much differently toward each other than before they had left Sunnydale, there was such an ease between them.
Rupert Giles was no fool. He realized that life and death situations sometimes caused people to become much closer, however the relationship between his Slayer and the vampire seemed to be about so much more.
Giles was afraid that his suspicions would turn out to be accurate, knowing Buffy’s predilection for vampire boyfriends.
A few minutes later Buffy had placed her hand on Spike’s leg. When Spike winked and squeezed her hand in return before standing, Giles fears were confirmed. They were definitely sleeping together and in the only bed in the room. His heart plummeted but he strengthened his resolve and refrained from commenting, now was not the time.
Giles’ thoughts were interrupted when Buffy pulled the crystal from under the bed and placed it in the center of the floor. “It feels like it’s plugged in somewhere.”
Giles touched it gingerly. “Tara, would you please pull out the information that we brought on the Crystal of Namine? I don’t remember any mention of an electrical charge.”
Tara started rummaging through her backpack.
Willow moved closer to the crystal. “Giles, this is powerful. I can feel it.”
“If I am correct, I believe we have the core piece of the crystal.”
Buffy frowned. “There’s more than one piece of it? Why isn’t it called the Crystals of Namine?”
Giles stared at the picture they had brought with them and then back at the crystal. He pointed at the picture. “Yes, this is the portion in front of us. The crystal is actually much larger. There seem to be several pieces missing. They would attach here, above the base.”
“The miners at the poker game told me that they’re supposed to be diggin’ for diamonds. Supposedly McGee had some special survey done and he knows for a fact that they’ll find some in this one antechamber they’ve been tryin’ to get to for months. Defoe was foreman for several years and he swears there’s nothin’ in that mine and Celeste’s husband who was a surveyor told her the same thing so they must be diggin’ for the rest of the pieces.”
Willow grimaced. “It must have been hidden in pieces and he needs time to reassemble it.”
“M-m-maybe it got broken somehow. Was it supposed to be in pieces all along?”
Giles shook his head. “There is not enough information to be sure. We only have the Council witch’s vision to go on and the only mention of the crystal in my books was what we could find in the Hockney. He never mentioned whether it was necessary to assemble it or not.”
“I still wonder why Teague carried around those bloody books all over the place with him.”
“Teague carried books around? Spike, hand me one of them and let’s take a look.” When Spike handed one over, Giles looked at him intently. “Thank you Spike, You’ve certainly been quite a surprise tonight.”
Giles tocuhed the worn cover. “Teague was a sorcerer in his own right which is why he could control the Cantilly, although he wasn’t powerful enough to save himself in the end.” He turned the pages of the book. “This appears to be a demon language; unfortunately this is no language that I’ve ever seen.”
After going through all six books, the only thing the group discovered was that all of the books seemed to be in the same undecipherable language.
Frustrated, Giles closed the last book and sat back down in the chair. “Well, we’re no worse off than before. Buffy, what other items did Teague have with him when he died? Was there anything else that might be of any value to us?”
Buffy, exhausted and tired of playing games, leaned against Spike. She’d already noticed the knowing looks that had passed between Tara and Willow and she was pretty sure Giles had figured out that she was in a relationship with Spike. Defiantly, she laced her fingers with his.
His eyes crinkled and he winked. It looked like he was past any more deception, too.
Buffy glanced over at Giles. His face was blank. She sighed. “Well, other than the really cool horse and those books, not much.”
Willow started to ask about the horse, when Spike suddenly sat up. “There is one other thing, pet.” He walked over to his duster, rummaged around in the pockets and pulled out the only other thing of value Teague had bequeathed to Buffy.
Holding it up for everyone to see, Teague’s silver pocket watch caught the light from the gas lamps as Spike slowly swung it back and forth.
Tara and Willow stopped slouching against each other and stared at it. Willow glanced quickly at Tara. She was staring intently at the watch as it continued to twirl, her face a study in concentration.
“Spike, could I see that a minute?” Willow spoke to her girlfriend. “You can feel it too.”
Tara nodded, her eyes never leaving the watch.
Spike handed it over to the red headed witch.
“This emanates power, it’s been charmed in some way.” She gently rubbed the intricate design with her finger. “It thrums.”
Everyone tensed as Buffy asked, “Willow, do you think it’s dangerous?”
Willow looked at Tara questioningly.
“No, it d-d-doesn’t feel as if it’s dangerous, but there’s something very powerful within it.”
Giles held out his hand. “May I see it?”
Willow reached across the little pile of books to hand the watch to Giles. The watch began to hum audibly and the pile of books glowed briefly.
Willow smiled broadly. “Oh, it’s a key.” She turned to Tara. “We were right. It’s not dangerous at all.”
Tara returned her smile. “T-T-Teague placed some type of cloaking spell on the books.”
The watch abruptly stopped humming. Giles carefully placed the watch on the floor next to him and picked up one of the books. He flipped quickly through the pages. Dropping it, he glanced through all six. “Teague was smarter than any of us thought.” Giles sat the last book down. “These are now in English and they all pertain to either the Crystal of Namine or the horsemen.
It appears that whenever McGee sent Teague through the portal for some reason; he’d locate and procure a book for himself. He may have planned to eventually escape from McGee and the horsemen.”
The Watcher finally allowed himself to smile. “These may hold the key to stopping both McGee and the horsemen.”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/189592.html