“Waiting’s not an option, Giles. Dawn knows what happened to her in our time—more or less—and she’s got to be terrified. We need to go get her, and we need to go now!”
As Buffy faced off against Giles and the other two men, Xander pulled his car into the driveway and Willow and Tara jumped out.
“What’s going on? How’s Dawn?”
“Glory has taken her,” Giles said. “We are discussing our options…”
“Youare discussing our options. I’m on my way to take that building apart brick by brick until I find her.” She whirled on Spike. “Do you know what floor you were on?”
He shook his head. “Close to the top. Think I saw a six on the elevator door as I crawled through it, but I wouldn’t swear to that. I was a little too busy trying to stay undusty to be checkin’ addresses. Just know it was a bloody long drop down that elevator shaft.”
“What building are we talking about?” Xander joined the conversation in time to ask a practical question.
“It’s a highrise, on top of a hill, somewhere on the edge of town. We can find it again. How many like that can there be in Sunnydale?”
Willow held up her laptop, saying, “Or, I can look up the address where that doctor, Ben whats-his-name, lives and we might even be able to find out what floor he lives on. If your mom will let me connect to her router.”
Willow gave Spike a surprised smile, that widened when she realized he meant the rare praise.
“His last name is Wilkinson, or something like that,” Buffy said, gesturing toward the house and trying to soothe Joyce who was demanding to know where Dawn was in a voice that was growing shriller with every repetition of her question.
“We’ve got this, Mom. I promise you. We’ll have her back in no time. You just need to let Willow connect to your internet for a few minutes. Okay?”
“Of course, if that’s going help us get Dawn back. It’s in here, Willow.”
Willow followed Joyce into the dining room and set up at the table. In just a few minutes, she had found a site that allowed her to search for apartment buildings in and around Sunnydale.
“Here are some that fit the description, Buffy. Do you recognize any of them?”
Buffy peered over her shoulder. “That one!” She pointed at the middle picture. “Now that I see the part of town it’s in, I remember where it was. All we need now is the apartment number.”
“On it,” Willow said.
“Do you want the phone book?” Joyce asked as she held it up, obviously trying to feel she was contributing.
“Thanks, but I don’t think they put apartment numbers in the phone book. I’m just hacking in to the hospitals records….” Willow frowned, then smiled. “There he is. Apartment 603. And he’s on the night shift tonight, so—”
“So he’ll have to leave the building while he’s human.” Spike’s snarl startled Joyce, but Buffy nodded at him.
“Let’s go. I remember pretty much how to get there, and now we’ve got the address, we can’t miss it.” Buffy turned to Joyce and gave her a quick hug.
“I’ll call you as soon as Dawn’s safe. Just stay in the house with the doors locked, okay? I don’t want to have to worry about you too. I’ll ask Max to redo the wards before we leave.”
She waited until Joyce had nodded numbly, then dashed outside to tell Giles they’d found where Dawn was being held and that Max needed to redo the wards.
“Willow has the address. Meet us there!” Buffy threw back over her shoulder as she took to her heels.
Spike hesitated for a second. “You’ll be right behind us, yeah?”
As soon as he’d received positive responses from everyone, he ran after Buffy, exerting every bit of his supernatural speed to keep up, and thanking the Powers that he still had the Gem of Amara and could follow Buffy in broad daylight.
Both Buffy and Spike were already out of sight by the time Max had reinstated the wards, Willow had given the address to Giles and Xander, and they had sorted out who would go in which car.
Once Buffy had figured out where the building was, she remembered chasing the snake in that direction, and then going there to get Spike away from Glory before he could tell her about Dawn. She veered off the streets and began running through backyards and over fences. Spike cast a wistful glance at what looked like a pick-up soccer game on one field they went through so quickly the players were left staring around not sure they’d really seen two blond people run through their game.
“Bet they wish you played for them,” Buffy gasped.
“Might come back one day and see if I can join,” he responded. “I’m a little rusty, but my speed could make up for that.”
“You’d be a cheater,” she said, giving him a glare.
“I’d be pretending I’m still evil,” he countered. “You can’t take away all my fun.”
They left the residential neighborhood behind and ran through an industrial park, dodging people just leaving work and going to their cars. As they left those buildings behind, the found themselves gazing up at an ordinary-looking apartment building on top of a small hill.
They paused and stared at it.
“That’s got to be even taller than the tower she made in our time. The roof would be a perfect place for her to open a bloody portal. Wonder why she didn’t do it that way back then?”
Buffy shrugged. “Maybe because she had all that free labor? Or because she knew we knew where she was? In our time, she probably didn’t stay here after we came after you.”
“Good point, love. She’s smart enough to have moved on to someplace the Slayer wouldn’t know about.” He cocked his head at the tower. “I count six floors, so if that apartment number was right, she’s already living close to the roof. We could fight her there….”
“How are we going to get our magic backup close enough? That sixth floor is probably crawling with scabby little creatures.”
He looked behind them at the industrial park, already mostly empty as everyone left to go home.
“Lot’s of open space between here and there,” he said. “If we can get them close to the building and lure her down here….”
“We don’t have anything to lure her with. She already has what she wants….” Buffy’s voice had a little quiver as she trailed off, her shoulders slumping.
“Don’t quit on me now, Slayer….” He put his arm around her and pulled her closer to his side. “We’ve got this. We just need to tweak our plan a little bit.”
“The plan was to kill her before she got to Dawn.” Buffy allowed herself to enjoy the comfort of his powerful arm for a few seconds, the took a deep breath and stood up straighter. “Okay. Plan B is to try to get Ben to leave the building so you can bite him. He has to go to work sometime, right? Isn’t that what Willow said?”
“He does. Good thinking, pet. This far off from her time to go home, she probably has to keep him working and out and about in the world, at least enough to not have the police come looking for him to find out why he hasn’t shown up at the hospital.”
Buffy looked around for some place to hide, settling on behind a big rock under a tree that she hoped would block the view of anyone looking down.
“I’m going to wait here and watch for him. You go intercept everybody else and send them to the parking lot behind us. As soon as Ben comes out, they can start their magic stuff.”
“Sounds like a plan. I’ll be right back.” He paused to glare at her. “Don’t do anything stupid while I’m gone.”
Buffy blinked at him innocently. “That’s not part of the plan.”
He eyed her with suspicion, but she just continued to sit calmly, her back against the rock. “Go on,” she said. “You need to catch them before they come roaring up to the front of the building.”
With one last warning glare, he turned and began running to intercept the two cars carrying their magical surprise for Glory.
Buffy leaned back and ran her gaze up the building, trying to imagine which windows might be the ones hiding her sister. In spite of the calmness she’d shown Spike, every fiber of her body was screaming at her to run into the building, up the stairs, tear down the door of number 603, and bring Dawn out with her, leaving headless demons in her wake. Only the knowledge that if Glory killed her they would never get Dawn back and the portal would be opened, kept her sitting still, her hands clenched into fists.
By the time Spike got back, having steered their help into the parking lots and pointed to where Buffy was hiding, she was on her feet and straining toward the building. She leaned on the rock as if using it as an anchor. He put a gentle hand on her arm.
She took a deep breath and shuddered. “I’m okay. I just can’t stand this waiting.” She glanced at him. “Is everybody ready?”
“Will be as soon as they themselves sorted. They’re going to have to stay down there for a while. This tree isn’t going to hide a mob.”
He sank to the ground, tugging gently on Buffy’s hand until she reluctantly allowed herself to be pulled down beside him.
“That’s my girl,” he murmured.
“Your girl would have been on the fourth floor by now,” she grumbled. “This is your girl 2.0, and I don’t think I like her.”
“Thisis my girl, just a mite older and wiser than the one I fell in love with. This one isn’t going to die on me.” He lifted the hand he was still holding to his lips. “Not if I have anything to say about it this time.”
They sat in silence for a while, staring at the front door as if they could force Ben to come out. Instead, the door flew open and Glory stepped out and stared right at them. Behind her, minions streamed out of the building, forming a protective arc in front of her.
“This is just creepy, Slayer. Sitting there staring at my house. Come over here and fight me like the hero you’re supposed to be.”
“Fuck” Spike whispered.
“Where’s Max and our magic crew?” Buffy asked quietly as she stood up.
“Just down the hill. Watching.”
“Now might be a good time for them to come closer,” Buffy said, beginning to move toward the building.
“Slayer! Wait for your backup!” Spike reached for her hand again, but she shook him off.
“You can come to take out some minions as soon as you get the backup up here. I’ll keep her busy till then.”
Snarling his complete disagreement, Spike slid half-way down the hill, shouting for Max and Winston and pointing to the building. Not waiting to see if they heard him, he turned around and chased after Buffy, who had engaged the minions now blocking her access to Glory.
For as long as they could, they fought off Glory’s ugly servants, only too prepared to die in her honor. With Spike at her side, Buffy was working her way through the seemingly endless supply of scabby little creatures, all praising Glorificus as Spike and Buffy lopped off their heads or other body parts. When she finally broke through and began belaboring Glory with her sword, she tried to keep moving too quickly to be injured by the furious hellgod.
“Stand still! What’s wrong with you?” Glory grunted as she barely grazed Buffy’s head with her fist.
Buffy was seriously wishing she had Olaf’s hammer as she began to tire and Glory’s blows started catching her more often than not. She found herself flying through air and gave a moan of despair, but when she struggled to her feet, she saw Glory begin to shake.
“Not now!” Glory shrieked, as she began to change into Ben.
“Slayer, switch!” Spike yelled, leaping at the still only partially human man.
Buffy went back to fighting the minions, trying to keep them away from Spike who was fighting a man in a red dress who obviously hadn’t completed the transition from god to human. He leaped on Ben/Glory, but was immediately thrown into the building wall.
“Spike!” Buffy fought her way to him, but he waved her off.
“Get out of the way, Slayer,” he growled, shifting into his vampire mien.
Buffy could see Giles, Max, Winston, and Willow on the edge of the battle area, chanting with joined hands. Willow’s free hand was being held by Tara who was doing her own, seemingly unrelated, chant. In front of them, Xander wielded a sword enthusiastically, if not skillfully, managing to keep any minions who noticed what was going on from interrupting the spell being cast.
Spike threw himself back onto Ben/Glory, who seemed to be trying to escape into the building. A few small demons who’d escaped Buffy’s furious assault on their numbers tried to attack him, but he paid little attention to them unless they got within easy reach of his fangs. He concentrated on keeping Ben/Glory busy fighting him and unable to retreat from the chanting spell casters.
The chant suddenly seemed to reach a crescendo, and Winston stepped forward, pointing his arm at Glory. The magic visibly left his hand and hit the struggling god in the torso. With another outraged shriek, she became completely Ben, with no trace left of the hellgod.
Instantly, Spike sank his fangs into Ben’s throat and ripped it open, allowing the blood to spray freely, making no attempt to feed on it. When the weakened man had collapsed to the ground to a chorus of moans from the remaining minions, Spike stepped behind him and twisted his head until he’d wrenched it off. Unlike a vampire or a demon, the body parts didn’t turn to dust or disappear. They just lay there, a headless body with a gaping neck wound, and a pale head with startled eyes staring at nothing.
As the few minions left began to disappear, as did the dissolving bodies of their decapitated companions, everyone began to relax. Casting an eye at the gory sight at Spike’s feet, Xander said, “Can I just say ewwww? And… good job, I guess… but still—ewww.”
They had yet to completely relax, even to the point of going into the building to find Dawn, when Doc exited the building, dragging her with him. His tail swinging behind him, he moved confidently down the sidewalk. The clawed hand wrapped around Dawn’s throat was a surprise to Buffy and Spike. The claws were clearly already somewhat embedded in Dawn’s throat, making it obvious a rescue was going to be difficult and probably fatal to Dawn. His long tongue flickered out, making Dawn cry out as he brushed her cheek with it.
“We’ll just be leaving now, Slayer. I’ll contact you later about what I want in return for not using the Key to open that portal and bring hell on earth.”
Spike snarled as he approached from one side, Xander walked up from the other, sword hanging loosely from his hand.
“We want the head off, right?” Xander said, flinching from the tongue that almost hit his face.
“Mind his tail,” Spike said with a nod, gesturing to the more dangerous appendage that had knocked him off the tower.
“If either of you gets close enough to worry about my tail, I’ll kill the girl and worry about escaping later,” Doc said confidently. “I doubt the Slayer would be happy about that.”
“Guys….” Buffy’s voice was anguished, but firm. She faced Doc. “Do you really want to have all three of us fighting over who gets to kill you?”
“He’d best hope I don’t win that fight,” Spike snarled. “Don’t plan to make it quick…”
In spite of their words, none of them seemed willing to risk Dawn’s life by actually attacking the demon holding her by the neck. He continued his progress down the walk, smirking at the frustration on Buffy’s face. He hardly paid attention when Winston walked up to them, not having actually seen what role the watching humans had played in Glory’s demise.
With a wave of his hand, reminiscent of how he’d frozen Willow so long ago, Winston lifted the now immobile demon into the air several inches and held him there while Spike and Buffy ran to release Dawn from his grip. Buffy pulled at his hand but couldn’t quite get it to release completely without tearing Dawn’s throat.
“Not a problem,” Spike said. He took hold of the offending claw-tipped fingers and broke them one at a time, biting the last one off and spitting it out on the sidewalk. Although Doc had been unable to move or speak, his eyes showed that he was very aware and conscious of what was happening to him.
Dawn stumbled away from the bleeding demon and into Buffy’s arms. The two sisters watched Winston as he gazed at Doc with a strange expression on his face. Shuddering all over, he looked at Xander first, and then at Spike who had picked up Buffy’s discarded sword.
“Are you ready, gentlemen?” he asked with an odd hitch in his voice.
Buffy looked at him with narrowed eyes. ‘’Why do I get the feeling you don’t really want them to have him?”
“Because I don’t,” he said more tersely than they were used to from him. He was visibly restraining himself. “But they owe him. It isn’t my debt.”
With another wave of his hand, he let the demon drop to the ground where Spike was on him before Doc had time to run. He held the snarling demon by one arm while Xander stepped up, sword already swinging at Doc’s neck. The sword connected with a muffled thunk and Doc’s head dropped to the pavement and rolled away. His body began to dissolve into a blue liquid that trickled down to ooze into the gutter. Spike followed the head, stomping on it with his heavy boots until it also was just a liquid puddle.
Buffy watched with interest as Max walked up to Winston and asked quietly, “Are you going to be all right?”
Winston closed his eyes, took a deep breath, which he held briefly, then opened his eyes and nodded. It was obvious that a great deal of tension had just left his body.
“I’m fine,” he replied. “But thanks for checking.”
Vowing to herself that she was going to get an explanation for that conversation, Buffy turned her attention back to Dawn.
“Are you all right? Did that skanky bitch hurt you?”
Dawn shook her head. “Not really. The popping away and reappearing in her apartment wasn’t as much fun as that might sound. I think I threw up… But then she was Ben, I guess, and he cleaned me up and gave me some water to drink. It was weird.” She rubbed her neck where Doc’s fingernails had left bloody indentations. “These things don’t feel great, though.”
“We’ll clean them up when we get you home. Mom’s probably going out of her mind wondering where you—” She stopped as her phone vibrated in her pocket. “And there she is….”
She walked off a short distance, leaving Dawn to be fussed over by Tara and Willow.
“Hi Mom. Yeah, I know, I know. We’ve just been a little busy here and….yes, I know you were wondering where we all went. I’m sorry. We were in a hurry. Yes, she’s fine. We’ll be home in a little while.”
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