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Mask and Mirrors by pfeifferpack
Chapter 8
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Sorry for the delay.....having increasing computer problems, especially with any posting.

Chapter 8

"So many letters…one wonders what they all represent!" Anne gazed in astonishment at the array of prescription bottles on the table before her. She didn’t wish these new friends of hers to
think her timid, backward or missish by showing her nervousness at the prescribed treatment for
her illness. It was rather intimidating, however.

‘Nonetheless,’ she reminded herself, ‘at least in this time there are genuine medications with
proven results!’ Anne thought back to her own dear departed husband and his selfless attention to patients afflicted with this very disease. He used every legitimate method available and still had attended far too many funerals for his liking. How he would have loved the advances in treatment this world offered!

In the end, her precious Francis succumbed to the dreaded curse of consumption himself. It was many years before Anne exhibited the first signs that this personal scourge had returned to wreak havoc on her family. Her conversation with Dr. Wilkinson had explained that the infection had likely come from her darling
husband and lain dormant until showing itself years later while William was at university.

Indeed, the information gathered from the young doctor made Anne determined that all these fine people who had been so welcoming to her be tested to ensure that she had not passed this horror any further. A simple skin test would tell the tale.

Mr. Giles had reassured Anne that, owing to his vampirism, William would need no such testing. ‘I suppose that is one benefit to what happened to my dear boy,’ she reflected.

William had been engaged in a hushed but obviously heated conversation with Buffy before Anne had left for the examination at the hospital. There was no sign of her dear boy upon her return and Anne wondered if the two were still feuding. Buffy was as sweet and friendly as she had been from the start though, so Anne doubted the dispute was one that boded ill for all their relationships.

The concerned tones of Mr. Giles’ voice interrupted that train of thought. "Do remember what the doctor said about interactions, dear lady," Giles broke into her reverie. "As well as alcohol, you need to avoid a variety of foods. We must also not be lax in the liver checkups while you are on this medication. Hepatitis is rare but not to be trifled with." Giles had appointed himself Caregiver, Jr. where Mrs. Pratt was concerned. Something about the gentle lady brought forth his protective urges.

Buffy was looking at the papers the pharmacy had included with the medications trying to make sense of the terminology used to describe the drugs and possible side effects. "English would be of the good here, folks! Geez, can they make this any more confusing?" Buffy had been frustrated with this same issue during her own mother’s illness and treatment.

"You could always do what you did when Mom was sick," Dawn suggested. "You know, use the universal translator!"

Buffy brightened and exclaimed, "Yes!" as she headed toward the abandoned laptop. "Google is your friend for everything and when it isn’t, there are other search engines out there." She typed in a few words and scoured the suggested results until she narrowed the choices down to a few that seemed to explain the disease, its treatment and possible problems in as understandable a manner as possible. "Eureka! We have success," she grinned broadly.

The four were gathered around the laptop as Willow and Tara entered. The bot had been ordered to remain on the porch until Willow could ease the way for the inclusion of the robo-slayer to the mix.

"Hey," Willow wiggled her fingers in a nervous wave. "Buff, can I borrow you for a few minutes?"

Buffy left the rest to continue educating themselves on TB and joined the witches in the living room. "What’s up? You two look guilty about something," Buffy teased.

"Guilty? No, no guilt! Nothing to be guilty about," blathered Willow.

"Um, remember Willow telling you that we’ve been working with Spike on a project?" Tara turned her most innocent look on the Slayer, underlining the lack of need for suspicion.

"I remember being wigged that Spike made any plan at all that you guys would be part of without a broken bottle being held to your faces," Buffy replied.

"No, no bottles and no guilt either," Willow continued to babble. Now that she was face to face with Buffy, she began to second-guess her confidence in the cover story they had concocted.

"We’ve been worried about you for a while, what with Joyce being sick and Glory all ass-kicking and then Joyce…well, not making it. Then Glory tossed Spike across that hospital room before we magicked her out of there and it was pretty clear you could use a bit of help," Willow rushed. All of that was true enough. Even if there had never been a plan for a robot and they had never actually spoken with Spike over their concerns, it wasn’t technically a lie.

Buffy felt her eyes tear up at all the reminders of the trauma she had dealt with of late. "And SPIKE came up with a plan? Why am I suddenly scared?"

"True, Spike came up with it, but it wouldn’t have worked out as well if he hadn’t asked Willow to help with the fine tuning," Tara offered. "It really IS a good idea, Buffy."

"And what is this good idea Spike had? And I can’t believe I just put those words into a sentence that wasn’t meant to be sarcastic," Buffy grinned.

Willow and Tara exchanged a look, each silently hoping the other would take the reins and lay it out for Buffy. Tara finally decided she had the best chance of getting the story out without blushing and stammering too wildly and she earned her love’s eternal gratitude by explaining.

"Remember that robot girlfriend your former classmate made?" At Buffy’s nod, Tara continued, "Well, Spike was really impressed with it. Remember how it threw him out a window?" Tara hoped that explained enough of just what had impressed Spike.

"So…what…Spike had him build another robot? What’re we talking about here: Arnold as the "Terminator" or one of those creepy androids girls from "Blade Runner" that seriously kicked ass?" Buffy looked intrigued in spite of herself.

"Closer to that last part," Willow admitted. "He kinda had Warren build a robot you."

Buffy’s eyebrows rose sharply and her mouth formed a silent ‘O’ of shock.

"It can fight and all, just like a slayer! It’s programmed with all kinds of information about all of us, the Hellmouth and everything we know about Glory too," Willow continued.

Tara nodded enthusiastically and added, "It’s even programmed to make battle decisions just like you would. It will protect Dawn…and all of us, really."

"I even tried to program in some of your quippier quips too," Willow frowned at the one area that had proven to be less than successful. "Still workin’ the bugs out of that part though."

Buffy finally closed her mouth and attempted to process what her friends had just told her. "So, you’re telling me that Spike had Warren build a robot slayer?" Her eyes narrowed as the germ of suspicion began to take root. "And he did this so it could help us fight Glory?"

"Yup, complete fightin’ machine. No hobbies even. Doesn’t even watch TV or want to shop at the mall!" Willow was nervous again; she could see Buffy thinking about other uses Spike might have had in mind for the bot and even if that were true, it wasn’t important now. "I checked all the programming and tweaked it where it needed it, Buffy. I really think it will help us fight Glory. If nothing else, it might confuse her to have two of you to keep track of."

The others had entered the living room as Tara began her explanation and were all in various stages of confused interest.

"Buffy has a twin sister?" Anne asked innocently.

"No, I’m her only sister," Dawn answered. The teen turned to Tara and grinned broadly. "So does this mean we can have Robo-Buffy do all the housework?"

"Yes, because you do so much of it yourself that it would really change your lifestyle," Buffy snarked.

"You are saying that this…this…thing, this machine, can duplicate Buffy’s fighting style?" Giles was partly appalled and partly excited at the possibilities.

"Wanna see?" Willow didn’t wait for an answer before she headed for the front door to bring in the bot. Willow had pride of co-creation where the bot was concerned. Even if she hadn’t been in on it from the start, it was HER programming that was driving the robot now and she was dying to see it in action.

The bot smiled broadly at the assembled group before cocking its head at Anne and saying, "I have no programming for this person. Who are you and how do you love Spike?"

Tara rushed to try to cover up the slip in the robot’s priorities. Obviously Willow still had a bug or two beyond wit to clear up. "Wow! How observant!!! You’re right, Buffybot, this is Spike’s mother. I’m sure we can add the rest of the information tonight, right, Willow?"

Willow was pale at the implications of the bot’s greeting. "Yeah, sure. Heh heh, that’s what I get for only adding some of the new data. I’ll finish it up later, Get more information from Spike and Mrs. Pratt to flesh it out, so to speak."

"Oh, my," Anne remarked, "Artificial people too! What a wondrous age indeed."

"Actually, this is only the second one I’ve ever heard of and the first I’ve actually seen. I believe it is new to all of us," Giles admitted.

"I must say that I am somewhat comforted to know there are still strange things for all of you to adjust to as well. I expect to be the local rustic, but it is nice to not be totally alone in my amazement," Anne said with a slight smile.

"My dear, this is the Hellmouth," Giles comforted her, "there are ALWAYS things to take one aback, no matter how sanguine you might feel. As for this," he gestured to the robot, "I think Sp…William may have come up with a very useful idea indeed."

"That right?" The vampire in question came in as Giles was speaking. "Did I just hear the Watcher say I did somethin’ right?"

Anne shook her head despairingly at her son’s slip into lazy speech but decided to say nothing. William was far more accustomed to this time and place than she, after all.

"As it happens, yes," Giles looked a bit surprised at the turn of events himself. "This robotic slayer may well come in handy in the battle against Glory. If nothing else than to use as a decoy…," he drifted off, his mind running through various scenarios. "Yes, quite useful indeed!"

"Good on me then, eh, Slayer?" Spike looked cautiously at Buffy, hoping she was buying their planned cover story.

"Looks like," Buffy agreed, although her eyes showed some reservation. "It doesn’t look much like me though."

The looks that remark earned were priceless.

"I think we are very pretty," the bot said as she smiled at her inspiration.

Buffy had no reply to the remark that wouldn’t make her look horribly vain and was vastly relieved when Dawn looked like she was going to answer for her.

"Well, you’re all that and a bag of chips, but Buffy needs a little work." The look on Dawn’s face defied her sister to object since she had already claimed the robot didn’t look like her. Dawn stuck her tongue out at Buffy to emphasize the point.

"Suddenly I’m not seeing ‘do Dawn’s chores’ on this thing’s ‘to do’ list," Buffy muttered.

"Does Dawn slay monsters and save the world from bloody pillocks too?" asked the bot, looking from sister to sister and running the information against its programming.

"Not while I’m living, she doesn’t," Buffy vowed at the same time Spike exclaimed, "Over my undead body!"

Anne smiled and remarked, "William is so protective of those he loves." If Spike could blush, he would have.

"Dawn…," Buffy decided to set the stage for an official Scooby meeting and that meant all civilians needed to leave the room. "Why don’t you take Mrs. Pratt back to the dining room and find out all you can about her medications while we talk strategy for a while, okay?"

"But I want to…," Dawn began to protest but quickly shut up when she saw the set line of her sister’s jaw. "Fine! We’ll just be in here not hearing anything you guys talk about IN THE NEXT ROOM."


"I don’t like it at all, An. He’s been stalking Buffy since before Riley left and now he’s weaseled his way into her basement."

Xander and Anya had been discussing nothing since the arrival of Anne Pratt but the living arrangements of Sunnydale’s least popular vampire to Scooby males. Frankly, Anya was heartily sick of the entire subject.

"I fail to see why it matters to you where Spike lives, Xander Harris, as long as it isn’t with us again," Anya had been half-afraid her lovely apartment was going to be selected as perfect vampire housing. "I’m just happy they didn’t decide to foist him on us. Our bedroom is lovely and we have fine orgasms there, but it would be embarrassing to play some of our more interesting games with a roommate living with us."

"There will be no living with the undead," Xander promised with a shudder. "It matters because Buffy is my friend and I don’t want that bloodsucker moving in on her in ANY way, not just her house."

"Technically Spike is more of a blood drinker instead of sucker now," Anya began, only to receive the rolled eyes from Xander. "You know, if you didn’t tell me you love me every day I might just think you’re jealous!" It was a shameless cry for reassurance, one that sadly was not answered, as Xander didn’t reply with avowals of undying love for the girl at his side.

"He’s a vampire, An, no matter how he drinks it. That means dusty ends, not cozy family dinners. I can’t believe Giles didn’t put his foot down!" Xander was a man obsessed.

"Well, he didn’t, so you can’t either. Giles is Buffy’s Watcher, not you, and if he doesn’t have a problem with Spike and his mother living with Buffy and Dawn, you shouldn’t either!" As far as Anya was concerned, there was no question about the issue at all.

The couple walked into the Summers’ living room as the group was discussing various ways to use the robot in future encounters with the hellgod currently plaguing them.

"Hey, I didn’t know we were having a Scooby meeting tonight," Xander protested. "I would’ve brought donuts."

"Bring any more donuts and you’ll look like that bloody commercial ball of talking bread and giggle like a little girl when anyone touches you," Spike taunted.

"Ha and ha, NOT!" Xander glared daggers at the vampire. "Don’t think I haven’t seen you help yourself to a chocolate-covered twist when I bring them."

"Guys, can we stop comparing our girlish figures and get back to trying to figure out the best way to use this thing?" Buffy didn’t mention that she had noticed the beginnings of a little belly on her friend. Donuts were not the friend of everyone.

"What thing? What’d I miss?" Xander looked around the room. His eyes lit on the bot and then narrowed as he tried to process what he was seeing. Xander shuddered and exclaimed, "Holy walking Barbies….what IS that thing?" His face cleared as he began to smile. "Okaaaaay, I remember how this goes. You’re BOTH Buffy! Somebody used that stick thing and now we have two of you!"

Anya walked to the bot and smiled at the BuffyBot. "Hello there. You’re a robot, aren’t you?"

"Yes, I am. You are Anya. Once a powerful and feared vengeance demon and now a sex- and money-crazed girlfriend of the silly boy. Nice to meet you," the bot replied happily.

Tara whispered to Willow, "Maybe you’d better check on more of that programming, sweetie."

"Xander can be silly, it’s true, and I DO love sex and money, but I’m not crazy and still can be a formidable warrior." Anya was only insulted by the implication she was no longer powerful and feared. "Just a few months ago I helped defeat a troll god! Olaf feared me, let me tell you!"

Anya’s eyes lit up as she came up with a use for the bot. "Buffy, this is perfect! You can have this robot get a job and you can get one too; then you’ll have two incomes with only half the energy expenditure. It was highly efficient of you to think of this. Good for you!"

"Actually I hadn’t thought of THAT, but I’m not against the idea either. I wonder if Will can program it to qualify for a high paying job?" Buffy began to imagine an escape from the drudgery she had begun to fear would be her near future. Maybe she owed Spike a ‘thank you’ after all.

"So who’s the clever one with the erector set?" Xander looked at Giles. "Did the Council come through with some technology?" Xander looked over the robot and found himself wondering just how much it was made to look like the real girl and gave himself a mental shake. ‘Down, boy. In love with Anya. No thoughts of naked Buffy-like machines. Then again, it wouldn’t be cheating if it weren’t real…NO, stop.’

The bot was looking at Xander with a questioning look. "You are Xander and a carpenter with no super powers or skills." The bot then processed Xander’s initial question and answered to the best of its ability. "To answer your question, Spike is the clever one who had Warren build me."

"SPIKE!" Xander exploded. "Spike had you built? What for? A sex doll? What’s the matter, Deadboy, can’t get a real girl so you have some geek build one for you? What kind of sick freak are you?" Everyone’s eyes rounded at Xander’s display of shock and anger. "Buffy’d never stoop so low as to even be nice to you so you had this…this…abomination made? What kind of sick programming did you give it anyway?"

Willow tried to calm the waters as she saw Buffy’s look of calculation. "NO, Xander, I worked on the programming myself. There’s no sex, no kissage, nothing like that!"

"Yeah, because Spike’s intentions towards Buffy are sooooo honorable," Xander scoffed with derision. "What’s the matter, Spikey, tired of your left hand?"

All hell broke loose as everyone began to loudly talk at once.

Dawn and Anne entered the room, drawn by the shouting. Dawn looked William’s mother in embarrassed horror as the words poured from Xander’s mouth.

Spike clutched his head after taking a swing at his personal nemesis only to have the chip punish him for the attempt.

Xander, being free of any such handicap, leveled a punch that hit the vampire squarely on his jaw before Giles managed to grab the boy’s arm to stop further blows.

"Xander, get hold of yourself this instant!" Giles ordered. "You cannot come into Buffy’s home and attack her guests in this way. You were not here for the explanations and don’t know what you are talking about. Do yourself a favor and SIT DOWN."

Xander had no plans to sit any time soon and tried to wrench himself free of the Watcher’s grasp. "This piece of trash has been begging to be dusted for years now. Time we took out the trash and if you won’t, I sure will."

Dawn began to cry. Willow began to babble pleas for her oldest friend to cool down and listen. Tara looked nervously at Spike’s mother and moved to her side. Giles continued to try to subdue the furious boy. Buffy toyed with staking both the pains in her ass even if one of them were human. Anya settled the matter by
soundly slapping her erstwhile boyfriend and demanding, "Xander Harris, shut up and sit down or there will never be another orgasm for you in the future. I don’t need to be a vengeance demon to arrange that either!"

Xander saw the fury in her eyes and allowed Giles to peel him off Spike and thrust him into a chair.

Anya squared her jaw and tried to organize her thoughts. "You are being a complete ass. It’s clear your problem is jealousy. You still think Buffy will wake up one day and say, ‘Oh, my, how foolish I’ve been! Xander Harris is the man for me!’ Decide who you want and let me know when you do." With that, Anya stalked out of the house and headed towards an all night lock and key shop to have the apartment locks changed.

"An," Xander started to follow his girlfriend, only to have the steely voice of Anne Pratt chime in.

"I think not, young man. It is well past time you get a good talking to, in lieu of the sound thrashing that you deserve." Anne ran a soothing hand over her son’s head. She had never seen William so angry. The emotions were startling in their obviousness. For the first time, Anne could imagine her boy as a killer.
Surely he would love to do serious harm to the foul-mouthed lout who had done nothing to give Anne a positive opinion of him since their first meeting.

"Son, perhaps you should leave for a while and compose yourself," Anne suggested. The last thing any of them needed was a recurrence of the violence that had left her boy on the receiving end of a bully’s fist.

"Perhaps I should just say ‘sod off’ to this bloody chip and remove the whelp’s tongue," Spike glowered.

"Enough!" said a horrified Anne. "You are above such comments and must regain your control, William. Please, take some air and return when you’ve regained your equilibrium. At once, William!" Her tone brooked no argument and no one was surprised to see Spike head towards the door.


"There he is! Finally, no Slayer around." Murk pointed excitedly at the emerging vampire.

Murk started to move from their concealed position in the bushes in the front yard next door.

"Wait, you idiot! Let the Key move further from the Slayer’s house before we use this," Jinx ordered. Really, it was a wonder Murk hadn’t been eviscerated by her magnificent gloriousness for his impulsive stupidity a dozen times already.

The group of demons clad in monk’s robes followed the vampire as he stomped his way to the sidewalk and then turned toward the corner park. Spike was obviously paying no attention to his surroundings, knocking over any object that he found in his path and swearing a blue streak.

As soon as Spike reached the park, he felt the high voltage as it shot through him, leaving him a writhing mass on the ground. He managed to gasp out a heartily felt, "Oh, bloody hell, not again!" before losing consciousness.
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