Dawn slipped into life in Sunnydale with even less difficulty than she had in Buffy’s time. Aside from Winston and Giles, Buffy and Spike had agreed not to tell anyone about her real origin until it was necessary. Buffy had been able to mitigate some of the yelling and resentment between herself and Dawn this time around simply by not being in the same house as often, and by biting back the urge to snap at her “sister”. It didn’t always work, sibling rivalry being what it is, but she was able to keep the fighting to a minimum.
Since she had some idea how long after Dawn’s arrival she had been given the Dagon’s Sphere, she was prepared for the big vampire when he attacked a few days later.
She staked the more-powerful-than-normal vamp and waited patiently for the night watchman to bring her the glowing orb. With a smile of thanks, she turned to leave, suggesting that he “take care and watch out for strange people”. Telling herself that was the best she could do in terms of warning him just then, she walked off at a brisk pace.
Spike caught up with her as soon as they were out of the watchman’s sight.
“So that’s what brought us the Bit, huh?” he said, eyeing the glowing globe of light.
“Not exactly. Turned out it was some sort of protection thingie that came with her. A talisman or something against Glory. Didn’t help me much, if I remember right. Doesn’t look like much protection to me, but then, Dawn doesn’t look much like a key.” She tucked the orb into her jacket pocket and glanced at him. “So, did you see anything?”
He shook his head. “There was nobody in the building yet. No monks, no under-dressed, slaggy hell-gods. Just dust and rats.”
“Okay then. Let’s get this home and put away somewhere until I can give it to Giles and tell him what it is. I guess we’ll start staking out the warehouse tomorrow.”
“Sounds like a plan, love. Take the Bit’s protection home so we can be sure it’s where it needs to be, then we can hit a few cemeteries on the way to our place.”
“I wonder if I should’ve told Mom about Dawn ahead of time?” Buffy worried as they approached Revello Drive. “Do you think she would have wanted to know?”
“Chances are, if you had, she’d have forgotten all about it as soon as that spell kicked in. Just let it play out, Slayer. I was just worried we wouldn’t have our memories of how she got here and we’d lose precious time learning the hard way.”
“That’s why we have our notes,” Buffy said. “We just need to read them every day to make sure we aren’t forgetting important things that we already know.”
“Bit’s arrival was the first really big test that’s come up. I think, since we seem to have made it through this with all our memories intact, everything else should fall into place. I'm a lot more comfortable about the rest of the year now that I know we woke up the day she got here, not just knowing you have a little sister, but knowing where and how she came from and why we know that.”
“Well, that and that Glory and Ben are the same person. Even if you forget it, you won’t have any trouble knowing about it once you see it, but who knows about the rest of us?”
“The watchers are planning some sort of “cancel all spells” spell, aren’t they? As long as they read their own notes and do the spell, we shouldn’t have to be in the dark very long.”
They didn’t stay long at the Summers house as Dawn was already asleep and Joyce was on her way to bed. Buffy assured her everything was fine, she just needed to find something in her room. If the hug goodnight she gave her mother was stronger than normal, Joyce didn’t mention it, but her expression was thoughtful, and Buffy made a note to herself that she needed to tell Joyce soon about the tumor and what Winston said he could do about it.
Buffy put the orb in her closet, snickering to herself that Dawn would be happy to have a reason to go into Buffy’s closet, where she so often went to borrow things. She grabbed a random jacket to prove she’d really been looking for something, and ran downstairs, shouting a “Night, Mom!” at Joyce’s door as she did so.
A quick patrol of the cemeteries between Joyce’s and their apartment turned up a larger number of vampires than they’d seen all summer.
“Guess vacation’s over and I can stop worrying about being rusty,” Buffy quipped as she waded into a small group standing around a new grave. “It’s kinda sweet that you wanted to wait for your buddy to crawl out, but not really very smart,” she said, dusting the first two she encountered. The remaining vamps only had to time to begin their confused “Huh?”s before she turned them to dust. She waited, hands on hips, for the dirt to begin to erupt, then grabbed the emerging vampire’s arm and yanked him out.
“Hold on, pet,” Spike said, flicking away the cigarette he’d been smoking while he waited for her. “I think we know this one.”
He walked up and looked the bewildered fledgling in the face, then cocked his head at Buffy who was still holding on to the vampire’s arm.
“Isn’t this the wanker we have to rescue the Bit from next year?”
Buffy frowned and pulled the teenager closer, staring at him as he tried to pull out of her grip.
“Yeah. I think it is. He looks a little different in his funeral suit, but put a letter jacket on him and…. Yeah. It’s him. Dawn staked him with a pencil,” Buffy said with sisterly pride.
“So, what do we do with him? Leave him to get older and smarter and count on already knowing where they’ll be on Halloween next year? Or do for him now, and save ourselves some worry if things don’t go the same way?”
“Oh, wow. More decisions. It really is starting again, isn’t it?”
“All things considered, love, one vamp more or less probably isn’t going to make a difference. If we can eliminate the hell bitch, things next year are going to be completely different anyway. If we need to, we can explain to Niblet how to tell what a bloke is before she goes anywhere with him.”
“That makes sense,” Buffy agreed, nodding. “Sorry, guy. Guess you don’t get to date my sister.” She plunged her stake into his chest while he was visibly trying to figure out what she was talking about.
“Job well done, pet. I’m ready to go home anytime you are.”
“I guess we should get some rest. Tomorrow night might be harder work than this was. And I need to get out there in the day time, too. Glory doesn’t have to wait till it’s dark to do stuff.”
He frowned and put one arm around her. “Neither do I, remember? Can’t it wait until I’m through helping Clem move his furniture? I’m not too fond of the idea you might run into her when I’m not there.”
“You weren’t there before and I held my own,” Buffy huffed shaking off his arm.
“She put you through a wall,” he retaliated.
“Spike! I can’t wait for you to come with me. Going there in daytime is my best chance to find the monk before she does. If I can get him out of there before she gets there, I won’t have to fight her. I can just send him off someplace safe and—”
“And where might that be, Slayer? If she followed him here, then she must know where he came from.”
“I’m going, Spike. Get over it. If I don’t find him, I’ll come back and get you and we’ll stake it out together.” His only response was a loud snarl.
The walk back to their apartment took place in tense silence. A silence that lasted until after Buffy had gone to bed by herself, leaving Spike to fume on the couch and pretend to watch TV. After an hour of changing channels every five minutes, he threw the remote onto the chair and stood up.
He slipped into bed as quietly as he could, lying on his back and staring at the ceiling for several minutes. With a sigh, he rolled toward Buffy and put his arm around her waist, pulling her rigid back against his chest. He knew she was awake as he murmured in her ear.
“I’m sorry, love. I just… it’s going to be bloody hard if I end up losing you this year no matter what we do. Not ready for it to happen quite this soon.” She softened against him, but didn’t speak as he continued, “We’ve got so much more to look forward to yet. Trolls in the Bronze, heartbroken robots, railroad massacres, chainin’ you up in my crypt, disinvites from the house, a Buffy sexbot….” He could feel her begin to twitch as she tried to smother her giggles.
“Ah, there she is. My forgiving little slayer.’
“You are such an ass.” She turned in his arms and gazed up at him.
“Guilty as charged,” he said, kissing her nose. “Am I forgiven, then?”
She sighed. “Of course, you are. I’m sorry too. I know you’re just trying to keep me in one piece long enough to get rid of Glory. But you can’t try to tell me how to do my job. It pisses me off.”
“Duly noted, love.”
Buffy smothered a yawn as she cuddled into him. “Is it okay if we save the make-up sex till tomorrow? I really need to get some sleep.”
“Tomorrow it is. Gonna hold you to that.”
Buffy’s checking the warehouse in the daytime proved to be a good plan. If good meant that she was interrupting Glory in the process of torturing the monk and preventing her from brain-sucking the watchman. Buffy’s earlier look into the building had shown her nothing, but this one in the late afternoon was more productive. She sent Spike a quick text message before going into the building.
Buffy entered though the twisted metal that was the door Glory had broken through to get to the monk. Although he seemed a bit the worse for wear, he didn’t look as near death as he had in her time. Buffy glanced around, but saw no sign of Glory, so she quickly snapped the chains holding her as yet un-brain-sucked prisoner and told him to go home. He nodded vigorously. After having spent some time in Glory’s presence, he showed no surprise at Buffy’s ability to break metal chains.
As soon as he’d left, Buffy ran to untie the monk. She cringed at his battered face and one shut eye.
“Are you okay? I mean, obviously, not okay, okay, but you’re not dying, are you?”
He shook his head, wincing as he did so. “The Beast has not yet become enraged enough to kill me, in spite of my pleading for death.”
“Well, let’s get you out of here. We can worry about Glory later. Since I’ve got you, and the watchman guy is out of her clutches before she can brain suck him, she won’t know that I have the—”
“What are you doing here?” Glory’s shriek almost hurt Buffy’s ears. She sighed as she stood up and faced the furious hellgod.
“What’s it look like I’m doing? I’m saving him from you, you stupid bitch.”
“I need him,” Glory snarled. “He knows where my key is.”
“You can’t have him.” Buffy pushed the monk toward the door. “Go on, get out of here. Go back to Europe or something.”
Moving much faster than Buffy had remembered she could, Glory grabbed the man’s arm as he hobbled toward the opening and yanked him back into the room so hard he hit the wall headfirst and fell to the floor where he remained immobile and bleeding.
“Now look what you made me do!” She glared at Buffy. “I can’t get information from him in that condition.”
Buffy looked at the inert man and saw that he wasn’t breathing. Anger that she hadn’t been able to save his life fueled the attack she launched at Glory and for a few moments she thought she was winning the fight. Until Glory threw her off and into the very wall Buffy had hoped to avoid.
Knowing Spike was on his way, Buffy staggered to her feet and prepared to go back into the fight. But, with another scream, Glory began to shake all over until she was gone and Ben was standing there, clutching the remains of the dress to his body and staring around in horror. He looked from Buffy to the dead monk, then, with a moan, ran out the door and into the still-sunny afternoon.
With a moan of her own, Buffy slumped down, her back against the damaged wall and with the dead monk at her feet.
She was still sitting there when Spike ran in, having made his way from the basement into which he’d broken and up to the room Buffy had told him he would find her. He stared around at the dead monk, broken chains, and wall with the Buffy-sized dent in it, then began swearing in several languages.
“Where is she?” he demanded eventually.
“She turned into Ben and ran out. You missed him—” She waved a hand at the darkening windows. “I should have tried to stall him, I guess.”
Spike didn’t say anything about her apparent assumption that had he been there, he would have killed Ben immediately, and Buffy didn’t pursue the thought, just moaned and tried to sit up straighter.
“Bloody buggerin’ fuck!” he muttered as he knelt beside her. “Are you alright, love? Looks like meeting that wall was one of those things we can’t change.”
“Looks like,” she agreed. She pointed to the dead monk. “And I couldn’t save him, but I think I spared him a couple more hours of torture.”
“You did. Never doubt it, Slayer.” He stood up and held out his hand. “Let’s get you out of here and cleaned up. I think you’ve done your share of good deeds today.”
Given Buffy’s physical state, and the darkness now falling, they opted to go back to their apartment to patch her up before they saw anyone else. She didn’t want her mother to see her looking so beat up, nor did she want to have to explain how it happened. By the time they reached their street, Buffy was limping less and she smiled when she caught the relief on Spike’s face.
“I’ll be fine,” she said, giving his arm a squeeze.
“She hurt you,” he growled, his eyes flashing amber.
“Something’s always trying to hurt me,” she said. “Sometimes they get lucky. Seems to me it might have been you once or twice.”
“Don’t remind me,” he replied.
“Well, you never managed to do me in. If you hadn’t been wearing the Gem the first time around, I would have staked you. I did, you know.”
“You did. But I knew I had the Gem on, so I wasn’t really worried about it. Wouldn’t have been that easy, if I was.”
“Maybe,” she muttered. “I guess that fight wouldn’t even have happened come to think of it. It was broad daylight. I should have figured it out sooner and been more careful around you.”
“Ah, Slayer. All those fond memories we have? They’re what made us what we were. And got us to where we are now.”
“Which is where, exactly?”
“Which is where I can take you into the shower and wash all the brick dust out of your hair,” he said, brushing his hand through her ponytail.
“I can do that by brushing it,” she pointed out. “And we won’t be distracted by something that means we can’t check in with Giles and Winston to see if they’ve read their notes yet.”
“Bloody hell! I almost missed that. You saw Glory change and you remembered it. So, looks like we aren’t going to be affected by her spell.”
“And we remember why we aren’t,” she said with a nod. “So, now all we have to do is pretend we don’t know what Dawn is until we have to tell her.”
“And that. The Bit’s pretty shrewd, you know. She’s likely to see right through us.” He held the door open for her, then glanced up in surprise to see Max approaching.
“Hi, Max,” Buffy said, rubbing her face to remove some of the dust. “Do you need us for something?”
He looked back and forth between them, clearly taking in both Buffy’s battered condition and Spike’s much healthier looking one. He raised an eyebrow and Spike snarled, “I wasn’t there yet. Daft bint didn’t wait for me.”
“None of my business,” Max said quickly. “I just wanted to tell you…. I sense a… there may be a….” He stopped, obviously not sure how much he wanted to say.
Buffy and Spike exchanged glances, then nodded and smiled at him.
“I think you wanted to say there’s a spell of some sort on everybody,” Buffy said. “We know. I think it’s going to go away soon. We’re going to check on that as soon as I get cleaned up.”
“Oh. Well good. You’re on it, then. I wasn’t sure you would be since it is so pervasive and powerful.”
“Not affecting you, I s’pose?” Spike asked with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes.
“It is not,” Max replied tersely.
“Well that makes three of us,” Buffy said. “And with a little luck, it will be gone soon—or most of it will, anyway.”
Spike still looked suspicious. “Should we assume you are immune to any spells in effect now?”
Buffy’s eyes widened as she realized that the fact that Ben and Glory were the same was not the only major spell in effect. She turned her own narrowed gaze onto Max, who backed up and held up his hands.
“I don’t concern myself with what the spells do, but I can feel the disruption in the fabric of reality. That concerns me.”
“Well, as soon as we can, at least one disruption will be cleared up. Thanks for the heads up.” Buffy waved her hand and entered the apartment, leaving Spike and Max staring at each other.
“I don’t even know what I don’t know, isn’t that right?”
Max shrugged. “I could say the same thing about you and Buffy,” he said. “Shall we just agree that we are on the same side, and let it go at that?”
Spike snorted. “Don’t know the Slayer very well yet, do you? She doesn’t do ‘let it go’ worth a bloody fig.”
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