Spike watched the girls go off in the direction of the cemetery, but remained in place in the shadows. His patience was rewarded when the newsstand attendant spoke briefly on a cell phone, then put Buffy’s message into a drawer. He was still waiting when the book-selling demon appeared, looked at Buffy’s message, wrote something on it and handed it back. The attendant put it back into the drawer, the demon handed him a few bills and, as quickly as that, sank back into the shadows.
As soon as the demon was gone, Spike strolled up to the newsstand and yanked the drawer open. One look at his fangs averted the human-looking attendant’s attempt to stop him, but Spike didn’t take the note, only memorizing the address and time before returning it to the drawer.
“Don’t lose that, mate,” Spike said as he moved away. “Could be important.” He ignored the barely audible grumbling from the still-intimidated man.
Buffy walked into the Library the following afternoon to find Giles talking to a tall, nice-looking, if a bit uptight-seeming, man.
“Oh, sorry, Giles. If you’re busy I’ll just come back later.”
“No, no. That’s quite all right. We’ve actually been waiting for you. Buffy, this is Wesley Windham-Pryce.”
Buffy narrowed her eyes at the newcomer. “Is he evil?”
“I beg your pardon?” The new watcher sniffed his disdain for her question.
“I believe him to be… not evil,” Giles said. He frowned as Buffy put the duffle bag she was carrying down on the table. “What have you there?”
“Oh, Faith and I ran into a bunch of pretty serious-type vamps last night. I brought my souvenir. Faith has the other one.”
“Are you all right?” Giles asked just as Wesley said, “Did you destroy the vampires?”
“Yes and yes,” Buffy said. “But it was touch and go there for a while.”
Giles frowned. “Where was….”
Buffy waved a hand around. “He was lurking somewhere. I guess he got distracted. We did okay without—” She stopped and turned to stare at Wesley who was not hiding his curiosity very well. “Is this going to be a problem?”
“Possibly,” Giles replied, making no attempt to satisfy Wesley’s obvious impatience.
“Oh. Well. Anyway, Faith and I were fine, and we ended with these two weird swords.” She pulled a short sword from the bag.
Wesley stared at the sword, then turned away to go through Giles’s books. He returned quickly, with a book in his hand, open to a page he was studying intently.
“Do you know what these are?” he demanded of Giles.
“Funky-looking swords?” Faith’s voice preceded her into the room. She tossed the longer sword onto the table, then looked from Wesley’s frowning face to Buffy’s. “New watcher?”
Buffy nodded, rolling her eyes.
“Is he evil?” Faith was gave Wesley her own suspicious stare.
Buffy shrugged. “Giles says no. Not evil, just maybe not very bright. Can’t really tell yet…”
Faith’s snicker did nothing to alleviate Wesley’s sputtering outrage.
“Why do you permit this level of insolence?” he demanded of Giles. “And why do these girls keep asking if I’m evil?”
“Because the last watcher Faith had was evil. With a capital E,” Buffy said as if explaining something to a child. “Didn’t they tell you about that?”
Wesley’s outrage faded somewhat as he acknowledged that he did know about Faith’s former watcher. “Miss Post was not the intended watcher sent here. She murdered the perfectly respectable woman who was intended to take over Miss Lehane’s training.” He looked at Buffy again. “I’m given to understand that you were responsible for Miss Post’s death? You killed her?”
Buffy raised her chin defiantly. “The lightning bolt killed her. I just cut off her arm. You know, the one that had the glove she was trying to use to kill us.”
“But you were responsible for her death.”
Buffy gave him a slayer’s cold stare. “Did you miss the part where she was trying to kill us? And Evil?”
He cleared his throat and looked away, missing the barely visible smirk Giles was hiding and the much more visible expression of contempt on Faith’s face.
“Yes. Well. Let’s carry on, shall we? Miss Lehane, I am Wesley Windham-Pryce, your new watcher. And Miss Summers’ new watcher as well.”
Both girls stared back at him, exchanged looks, and shook their heads.
“Giles is my watcher,” Buffy said, not quite drowning out Faith’s “Screw that!”
Wesley seemed to choose to ignore them, pointing to the swords and asking, “Where is the amulet that would have been with these swords?”
“We were a little busy trying to keep the swords from lopping off important body parts,” Buffy said. “Amulets weren’t part of the plan.”
“Yeah, we didn’t have time to look for jewelry.”
“Well then, you’ll go back this evening and find the amulet. It is important that we destroy it before it finds its way to Balthazar.”
“What’s a Balthazar? And why do we care?”
Wesley turned to Giles. “Have you taught them nothing?”
“We have an old demon planning an Ascension in a couple of months. There hasn’t been time to concern ourselves with one that’s already dead.”
“He is not dead, merely temporarily incapacitated. And his followers would have used these swords to protect the amulet he needs to regain all his strength. He is here somewhere. Perhaps unable to move around freely, but that would change if he got the amulet.”
He turned back to Buffy and Faith. “You will have to bring the amulet back here to be destroyed. Perhaps you should go now.”
Giles signaled Buffy with his eyes that they should just leave the library. With one last glare at Wesley, Buffy turned to leave.
“Giles usually says ‘please’ when he sends me out for something. And I get a cookie when I come back.” She tossed her head and walked out. “Come on, Faith. Maybe we can find our own cookies.”
Wesley watched the girls leave, then turned to Giles. “You really have permitted them to be much too disrespectful and disobedient. I can see that I will have my work cut out for me.”
Giles snorted. “I can’t wait to see you in action. It should be an educational experience. For at least one of us.”
“So, what do think, B? Are we doing to get Mr. Stick-up-his-ass his amulet?”
After having eaten dinner and changed into slaying clothes, the girls were making their way back toward the busier part of Sunnydale, chatting as they walked.
Buffy sighed. “I suppose we ought to. I don’t know what a Balthazar is, but Giles did seem surprised he wasn’t dead, so maybe the amulet really is important.” She turned toward downtown. “But let’s check on those books first. See if that skeevy demon read my note.”
They hadn’t even reached the newsstand before the attendant was fishing the note from the drawer and holding it out to them. Buffy snatched it from him, frowning. “What’s wrong with you?” she said as he backed away from her. “You weren’t afraid of me yesterday.”
“Yesterday I didn’t know there was a vampire looking for you. He read the note.”
Faith snorted. “We’re slayers. There are always vamps looking for us… unless they’re running the other way. That happens.”
“This one knew right where I put the note, and he was old. Scared the shit out of me.”
Buffy laughed. “If you’re afraid of Spike—blond guy, black coat?” At the man’s nod, she continued, “I think you’d be happy to have us around.” Buffy glanced down at the note, then smiled at Faith. “I guess Spike knows where we have to meet this guy too. We can grab the amulet and then meet him and the book demon.”
After a quick trip through the cemetery where they’d fought the vamps with the swords, Buffy and Faith searched the crypt until they found something that looked like it could be an amulet, then strolled toward the place they’d been told to bring the money.
“I wonder if we should have a bag with us or something?” Buffy said. “Just so he doesn’t suspect anything until we get close enough to grab the books.”
“I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” Faith replied as she sped up. “Your honey is already here and he’s gonna need somebody to hold those books.”
“Wha— Oh my god!” Buffy shot past Faith just in time to stop a vampire from driving a stake into Spike’s back. She knocked the vamp away, barely pausing to stake him before she was back on her feet and at Spike’s right, facing a group of mixed human and vampire minions. The books were spilled partly out of a bag on the ground behind Spike, next to the body of the demon. Faith took up a position on the other side of the books, facing the minions who were now circling them.
“I’ve got this. If you want to up your slay count tonight, Slayer,” Spike said, “feel free to take it to them.”
With a nod, Buffy leapt into action. Leaving Spike and Faith to guard the books against any vampires foolish enough to attack them, Buffy began systematically working her way through the now more spread out vamps and their human assistants. She staked the vampires and settled for knocking the humans unconscious. She had a brief uncomfortable moment when she kicked a man in the jaw, but she could see him crawling away as she was staking the vampire she’d been aiming for, and she breathed a sigh of relief.
As the number of opponents dwindled, Spike and Faith managed to get farther away from the bag of books and continue the battle without losing sight of what they were fighting for.
Once they had knocked out most of the humans, and staked all the vampires, the remaining human minions began to edge away from the lethal threesome, sometimes dragging their unconscious comrades, sometimes not. Their fear of going back to their boss empty-handed was clearly losing the battle to their more immediate fear of the two slayers and the snarling vampire. Only one man tried to get to the books while the fight was still going on, but the time he spent shoving them back into the bag gave Faith a chance to see him. She knocked him to the ground with one blow and was bringing her stake down toward his chest when Spike’s shout of “He’s human!” gave her enough time to turn the blow away and only graze the man’s arm.
The slayer and Deputy Mayor Allen Finch, stared at each other with equally wide, frightened eyes as the last of the vampires became dust.
“I almost killed him,” Faith said, breathing hard.
“But you didn’t.” Buffy came up beside her to offer support. “And he would have killed you if he could, so—”
“No I wouldn’t!” Finch said quickly. “I’m just here to bring the books back to Mayor Wilkins. I didn’t know you were bidding on them too.”
Spike kicked the demon’s body as he walked past it to join Buffy and Faith as they stared down at the frightened deputy mayor.
“Don’t feel bad about doing for that wanker now, if he was trying to sell them to the highest bidder. He might have even have been setting you up.” The snarl that accompanied that remark sent Finch cringing.
“I don’t think so,” he said quickly. “We didn’t know you’d be here. I was just supposed to get the books and carry them back to Mayor Wilkins.”
“Do you always bring twenty other minions with you to help you carry a book bag?” Faith snorted.
“It’s dangerous to walk around Sunnydale at night alone,” Finch muttered as he clutched his bleeding arm.
“Seems like it wasn’t in your best interest to travel with the wrong companions either,” Spike said, licking his lips as he eyed the blood leaking through the man’s shirt.
“What do these books do? Why does your boss want them?” Buffy tried to take Finch’s attention off Spike’s hungry expression.
His shifting eyes showing immediately that he wasn’t being truthful, Finch said, “I really don’t know.”
Buffy cocked her head at him. “Really?” She turned to Spike who was still wearing his fangs. “Are you hungry?”
“I could eat,” he replied, moving closer and licking his lips again as he reached for the Deputy Mayor’s arm.
“He needs them to tell him how to do the ritual to make him invincible!” Finch said quickly, shrinking away. With Faith behind him, Buffy in front, and Spike almost drooling on his arm, any loyalty Finch may have had seemed to have vanished.
“And he needs to be invincible to survive the Ascension….” Buffy said, exchanging smiles with Faith and Spike.
“I think we got what we need, Slayers. What say we put them in a safe place?” Spike picked up the book bag and hung it off his shoulder.
“What are we going to do with him?” Faith pointed at Finch, still cringing on the ground. His arm appeared to have stopped bleeding, and he seemed otherwise unhurt.
“Let him crawl back to his boss,” Spike said. “He might make it if nothing smells his blood. Or he might not.” He shrugged. “Not our problem.”
Buffy and Faith exchanged looks, then Buffy sighed. “You take the books to…. a safe place. We’ll see that this creep gets part way home.”
Spike snorted. “Sometimes you birds are no fun at all.”
“I get that a lot,” Buffy said as she yanked Finch to his feet.
“I don't,” Faith said with a wink in Spike’s direction. “I’m all kinds of fun.”
Spike’s laughter followed them as they began walking.
The closer they got to downtown, the slower the mayor’s deputy moved until he was almost standing still.
“Move it, assistant demon. We don’t have all night.” Faith gave Finch a little shove, which sent him stumbling, but not walking.
“Mayor Wilkins is not going to be happy with me,” he whined.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Well, here’s a thought. You remind him that your job was just to carry the books, it was those other guys that screwed up and ran away or got themselves dusted. And, another thought? Don’t tell him you told us about his ritual. See? Easy peasy.”
Since he was still refusing to move, Buffy decided he was close enough to City Hall for them to let him finish the trip on his own.
“Let’s go, Faith. We’ve got things to do, places to go, people to see…”
“People to do, things to see….” Faith snorted, ignoring Buffy’s glare.
Finch drew himself up taller. “Aren’t you going to apologize for almost killing me?”
Both slayers gaped at him, then Buffy grabbed Faith’s arm and pulled her away before she could act upon the things she was sputtering in her obscenity-laced response. She was still muttering that she hadn’t killed him and he should be dammed grateful because she was definitely changing her mind, when they got out of earshot.
She shook Buffy off, saying, “Come on, B. You should have at least let me scare the crap out of him.”
“Sorry. Only one scare the crap out of a guy per night, and I already let Spike do it. Let’s get back to Giles and tell him about the books.”
When they got to Giles’s, they found him and Wesley already poring over the books in excitement, while Willow hovered around them, trying to see for herself. Spike sat in the big chair sipping from a glass full of amber liquid. Wesley’s attention went from the books, to Spike, to the unafraid Scoobies, and back to the books. His relief was obvious when Buffy and Faith came through the door.
Waving a hand in Spike’s direction, he said, “I was given to understand that William the Bloody had left Sunnydale after the death of Angelus.”
“Did,” Spike said, making no attempt to appear harmless and going into game face for a few seconds.
“But you’re here. In Sunnydale. In Mr. Giles’s home.”
“I am. All three of those things.”
“This is not acceptable, Rupert.”
“Spike has been quite helpful to us since his return,” Giles said. “You did notice it was he who brought us these books, did you not?”
Wesley stared from Spike, whose expression had changed to a much softer one when Buffy entered the room, to Buffy and Faith, neither of whom seemed bothered by the vampire or inclined to stake him.
“What is going on here? This is most irregular. Two slayers, a teen-aged witch, a few other teenagers with no useful skills—” He broke off at Xander’s indignant “Hey!” and Oz’s laconic, “You just never know…” which brought a snort from Spike and giggles from the girls.
“And now you expect me to accept the presence of one of the world’s most dangerous vampires, sitting in your home and drinking scotch as if he were a welcome guest.”
“Because he is a guest. I believe you will find Spike to be quite different from any other vampires you may have met…. How many would that be, exactly, Wesley?” Giles waited with a bland expression on his face while Wesley stammered and struggled with his answer.
“We do not entertain vampires or demons in our homes or in the Council itself,” he said stiffly.
“Your loss, and welcome to the real world,” Buffy said. “Where we sometimes have to get close to demons and vampires.”
“They’re easier to stake that way,” Faith added. “You do know how to stake a vampire, don’t you?”
“I… of course. It’s one of the first things we learn… how to stake a vampire.”
“Really? How many did you have to dust to graduate from Watcher School?” Xander’s question, asked in all innocence, sent Wesley into a spasm of coughing.
Faith strolled up to him and forced him to meet her amused gaze. “You haven’t staked any real vamps yet, have you?”
“I understand the technique,” he said, drawing himself up to his full height. “There just wasn’t time to pick up an actual vampire for me to stake before I had to leave to come here, but I’m sure I would be quite able to do so.”
“They sent you out into the field without any field experience?” Giles’s shock was obvious. “You’re… you’re… an amateur, andyou want to lecture me on my actions? Me? And my slayer who has stopped two apocalypses so far and slain enough vampires to graduate the last ten classes of watchers!”
The longer he spoke, the angrier he seemed to get, and Wesley visibly shrank again.
The scene, which was causing Buffy, Faith, and Spike to exchange grins, was interrupted by Willow’s excited shout as she waved a book around.
“Guys! I found something!”
AN - Updates have slowed down and I apologize for that as I know it makes it more difficult to follow a story when you don't know when the next chapter is going to appear. Not much I can do about that just now. It is what it is.
A reminder that this story began with a very non-canon "what if?", which has affected everything that came after. Please don't expect to find canon-specific events, conversations, etc in this AU season 3 story. Thanks.
If you are under the age of 17, please use your head and do not read fics that are labeled "NC-17". Parents, I cannot control what your children are reading, so please be advised that the majority of the fics archived here are NOT suitable for those under the age of 17.
I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I am in no way making any profit from this site. This is for pure entertainment purposes only.
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