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Chapter 25 The Break And The Fall
And the wreck of you
is the death of you all.
And the wreck of you
is the break and the fall.
I’m the wreck of you
I’m the death of you all.
I’m the break and the fall.
Willow picked dejectedly at her food; she was too tired to eat. Setting her ice tea glass down, she looked at her dinner companions. Tara was desultorily poking at the plate in front of her. Only Giles was eating, although he was spending as much time watching the other diners in the saloon as he was actually eating.
“Giles, did you bring us down here just so you could soak up some more of the local color?”
Giles snapped his eyes back to the redhead in front of him. “What? No, no, of course not.” He had the grace to blush. “I just can’t help it, this is just so remarkable.”
“I read that once the crystal leaves this dimension, everything will begin to progress again. They’ll no longer be a society in stasis.” Tara reached over and chose a roll from the bread basket.
“I suppose that’s a good thing, although a world without smog, cell phones or cars hasn’t been so bad.” The vision of their trek across the desert flashed across Willow’s mind. “Well, they could use a couple of city transit buses.”
She laid her fork down. “Giles, without the rest of the crystal, we won’t be able to do anything. We can’t stop the riders or even get back to our own dimension.”
“I’ve been giving that very point some thought and I believe there is no alternative. We will have to have a talk with Mr. McGee.” Giles stirred his tea.
When Willow opened her mouth, he held up his hand. “Willow, there really is no alternative, we need the rest of the crystal. That is the one thing of paramount importance. We must stop the horsemen and the alignment is in a few days. We simply have no choice. Without the crystal completely reassembled we can’t send the horsemen to the hell dimension that Tara located.”
Willow looked gloomy again. “Yeah, I know. I just don’t think I’m gonna like that guy at all. He’s probably a real meanie.”
She finally smiled when she gazed at Tara. “That was really neat the way you found that list of dimensional addresses that the demons had visited and decoded them. I think that the hell dimension sounds a lot like the place where Buffy sent Angel that time.”
The three lapsed into silence again. Finally Tara spoke up. “Shouldn’t we g-g-get something for Buffy while we’re down here? We’re supposed to meet her and Spike in a little while.”
Giles signaled the waitress. “I’ll order a plate for her.”
As the waitress walked over, Willow asked “So, how will we find McGee? You know, so we can talk to him.”
The waitress spoke. “You’re asking about Mr. McGee? He’s in his office right now. I just took his dinner order so he’ll be there for at least the next hour.” She lifted her pencil. “Now, what else can I get for you folks?”
The blond couple had awakened an hour before, made love and were still lying close together, savoring the chance to be alone.
Spike ran his finger gently down the fresh scar on Buffy’s arm and murmured, “The Cantilly left you quite the reminder, luv.”
“Only the worst ever leave a scar.”
“I thought I’d lost you.” He hugged her fiercely.
“But instead, you saved me.”
Spike kissed her even as the vision of red eyes gleaming from across a poker table crossed his mind. No Slayer, I haven’t saved you. Not yet.
McGee had just finished eating his dinner when there was a knock on his office door. Frowning at the curious interruption, he was about to call out when the door opened and a pretty blonde woman walked inside, followed by a slim blond man in a long black leather coat.
The woman smiled. “Hello, Mr. McGee, we finally meet.” She seemed amused as she turned and spoke to the man who had stopped at her side. “He’s a lot younger looking than I thought he would be.”
The man smirked. “Some of us just age well.”
The woman grinned and turned back to face him again. “My name is Buffy Summers, Mr. McGee. I’m sure you’ve heard of me. I’m the one you tried to set the Cantilly on back in Sunnydale.” She frowned, “I’m still kinda upset about that, too.”
McGee stared at the petite blonde. “You’re the Slayer.”
The young man chuckled. “Chosen one, yada yada.” He smirked at McGee. “If anyone should know the drill, it’s you mate, bein’ an exWatcher and all.”
McGee was still wrapping his head around the fact that the Slayer was here in his office while he listened to the pale British man at her side. Who was he? Could he be her Watcher?
“Mr. McGee, I’m here to make you a little proposition. You give me the rest of the crystal thingies and I won’t let Spike here have you for dinner.”
McGee watched with growing horror as the young man’s face began to change. His forehead developed ridges as the facial bones slid. Gleaming yellow eyes stared intently at him as he aimed a toothy smile in McGee’s direction. Then with a slight shake of his head, his visage changed back to that of the smirking young man again.
McGee shuddered as he realized that the Slayer’s companion was in actuality a vampire. Absurdly he wondered if her Watcher knew that his Slayer was running around with a vampire at her side.
Suddenly he understood her request. “You’re the one that stole the core from my desk.”
The Slayer turned back to her companion again. McGee was beginning to find it infuriating the way the girl carried on a side conversation at the same time that she talked with him. It was very insulting and rude, but then anyone walking around with a vampire at her side was probably a little irrational.
He shuddered again as he decided that it was definitely not up to him to point that out.
Buffy pouted. “Spike, he accused me of being a thief.”
“I heard him pet. The thing is, I don’t think you can be a thief if you’re accused of takin’
somethin’ that’s already stolen.”
“That’s what I thought, too.” She smiled at the vampire and the vampire smiled tenderly? at her.
Buffy turned back to McGee once more. “So Mr. McGee, as I was saying, I need you to hand over the rest of the crystals.” She leaned forward conspiratorially. “You see I’ve got these demons that someone was trying to help. They think they’re going to get loose and run around doing all these bad things and I need to stop them.”
She shrugged. “It’s just something that I have to do.” Her voice hardened and McGee got his first glimpse of the steel core within the woman. “Now, where are they?”
Willow and Tara sat on the floor, with the crystals spread before them. Spike stood at the hotel window and smoked a cigarette as he watched the Slayer argue with her Watcher.
“Buffy, was it absolutely necessary to bring him with you? I don’t quite understand your reasoning.”
Buffy glanced over to the portly man sitting in the corner chair. “I didn’t really know what else to do with him, Giles. If we’d left him in his office, I’m sure he would have run off to the demons and told them exactly who had possession of the crystal now. Besides he offered to share the spell that puts them all back together.”
“I tried to tell her that using anything from that bloke could turn out to be a bloody big mistake, but your Slayer is really stubborn, Rupert.”
Giles nodded slowly. “I can see the problem.” He walked over to the chair where the man was sitting. Buffy and Spike had walked in a few minutes earlier with McGee in tow. Buffy had unceremoniously pushed the man into the corner chair while Spike had carefully placed the six crystal fragments in front of Willow and Tara.
McGee shifted in the chair. While still in his office with the Slayer, he had immediately realized that without any chance of retrieving the core crystal himself, the best alternative was to throw in with the Slayer and her compatriots. He had offered the rebuilding spell in exchange for amnesty and safety from the horsemen.
McGee’s eyes narrowed as he thought about his choices. He was astute enough to realize that during any battle there are opportunities that suddenly present themselves and it might still be possible to slip away. Once the crystal was reset, it would be safe for him to use the portal and he could disappear. He still had his money and he’d still have the remainder of his natural lifespan. The present options were better than the choices he had had earlier that day.
Giles frowned at McGee sitting quietly in the chair. He had actually planned to set the horsemen free to wreck havoc. What was the man planning to do when the demons started their reign of terror? Giles shook his head at the imbecilic naiveté. The man actually expected the horsemen to leave him alive but it was not in their nature to do so. In fact, he would almost bet that this man would have been one of the first people killed.
Giles sighed. Buffy was right of course. They had to keep him here with them, or he could escape and return with the demons.
“Spike, would you please go up to my room and bring down the coil of rope from my pack?”
After he had handed the vampire his room key, Giles turned back to McGee. “Mr. McGee, you will be offered sanctuary in exchange for explaining the rebuilding spell to these two women. They have extensive experience in the use of Magicks.
However, you will not be allowed to utter a single incantation, nor will I allow you any freedom within this room. When Spike returns, you will be bound and you will only be allowed your freedom if the spell works and we’re in control of the fully functional Crystal of Namine. Do you understand the terms?”
“I understand and I won’t attempt to escape.”
“Please begin the explanation on how to reunite the crystal; unfortunately, time is an issue for us. As soon as the moon rises, we expect that the demons will try to locate the crystal, so we only have a few more hours in which to prepare.”
“First you will need the essence of Tyboret root to form a circle.” He indicated the leather bag lying beside the chair. “May I?”
“Tara will get out any needed supplies.” He gestured to the blonde witch.
“I understand.” He spoke to Tara. “Everything you need is within this bag. You’ll find the Tyboret root in the bottom left hand pocket.”
He turned to Willow. “It must be poured in a single unbroken circle starting from the left.”
She nodded and stood up.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/190455.html