Note: Thanks to my beta t_geyer for her unending patience, perseverance and support.
SECTION 4 - ELSEWHERE
I love the time and in between
The calm inside me
In the space where I can breathe
I believe there is a distance I have wandered
To touch upon the years of
Reaching out and reaching in
Holding out and holding in
This is heaven to no one else but me
And I'll defend it
As long as I can be
Left here to linger in silence
If I choose to
Would you try to understand?
(Sarah McLachlan, Album - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy)
Thanks also to Emma for suggesting this way back
when I started FTE, even if it did take me three
months to follow through.
Hope she's still reading.
Sunday, May 19th, 2002
Bee took one last draw on her cigarette before she tossed the lipstick-stained butt into the street and made her way back into the house. Tara was still on the phone to Dawn but Giles had already finished his calls and replaced the phone he had used back on the hall table and Wes was coming back downstairs as she opened the front door.
He shook his head. "It's ringing, but there's no reply and if it's in the house it's been muted."
The woman shrugged. "It was worth a try... and it's another pointer in favour of that web site being a pile of horse crap. How did you get on?" She turned to Giles.
"I've told Willow what's happening and she's going to stay by the phone so she can come over if Buffy asks for her, but otherwise, considering the situation with Tara and Dawn, she'll stay where she is. Anya's coming over and she says if he promises to 'act civilised' she'll bring Xander. Other than Dawn, I think everyone else she'd want is already here. And you ?" Giles raised an eyebrow in Bee's direction, trying to regain some control of the situation.
"Well, I couldn't get through to either Lily or Buffy's phones. I doubt they'd switch them off, so that makes me think that they're too deep to be any use. All of which means, I could use a car larger than a two seater and one of you strapping men to come with me. The other one gets to wait for Wes's guest, who by the way is a demon, so if anyone has any problems with that..." She raised an eyebrow of her own in retaliation.
"Are we allowed to ask what it is that whoever goes with you will be doing?" Giles queried.
"We're going to go find my cat."
Giles' jaw dropped a fraction of an inch. "At a time like this?"
Bee took on a teasing tone. "There is a time factor involved. He's going to miss his lunch if we don't find him soon."
Wes interrupted at this point, his intuition telling him that there was more to this than Bee was letting on. "My car's sitting in the drive across the road. Why don't you go wait in the passenger seat while Giles and I sort out the division of labour?" Wes passed her his car keys.
Wes climbed into the car's driving seat. "So where are we going?"
Bee had already memorised the address. She didn't bother looking at the device she held in her hand but Wes had already noticed the little blip on the screen's streetplan and guessed its significance. "Riverside Industrial Park. Area 3."
Wes reversed the car out of the drive and set off at a pace that would only just avoid the attention of the average Sunnydale traffic cop. "And the guest who is going to be arriving at my house?"
Bee made a grimace. "He's the brother of my date for tomorrow night, apparently."
"Well, I hope Spike gets the opportunity to tell you how grateful he'll undoubtedly be, but it still doesn't let me in on why he's there."
Bee sighed before she replied. "He's my GP."
Wes frowned. "You choose to visit a demon doctor?"
"Not so much choose..." Wes gave her a sideways glance before returning his attention to the road and had to slam on the brakes to avoid driving into the back of a slow-moving child on his bicycle.
"I could demonstrate, but then you'd probably hit the next kid. Is this going to be an issue?"
"N-no, no issue, just a surprise, though the linguistic skills and your defensiveness regarding the council all make rather more sense now.
I shan't pry, and if you want, I won't even mention it to the others unless it becomes relevant."
Bee shrugged. "It's no state secret. I'm pretty certain Spike knows, anyway. Vampires tend to be able to spot the scent thing.
Swap parent gender and I'm pretty much in the same position as Rosa except I can pass for human, kind of like a vengeance demon. My parents choose to live in mom's dimension but dad was brought up in Laurel Canyon and you can tell your friend that if he's talking chronological age, mine is probably much the same as his, though subjectively I might have just a little catching up to do... and I also have excellent hearing if I concentrate, say if I want to know if someone's really forgiven me for being an ass or if they're just being polite," she added with a grin.
Comprehension suddenly dawned for Wes as to why they needed the demon doctor. "You're going to get him to transfuse Buffy and Dawn!"
"You watcher types might not be quite so slow as I'd heard, after all," she teased. "Of course, after you draw the first couple of pints from each they'll need to be transfused before they can give any more or there's a risk of them going into shock and from then on in, the blood they donate will become progressively diluted, but as long as Spike doesn't feed directly there's practically no risk to either of them, so unless Spike really wants to be the martyr and I'm thinking not on that one, he's got no reason to object."
"It seems rather as if we were all making a major drama out of a minor difficulty. We didn't even think about alternatives to Spike feeding from them."
"Well, it tends to hinge on knowing a medic who can understand why you're drawing blood out of them just to transfuse it straight back in and let's face it, a human doctor is not going to understand... so I guess you guys have got an excuse." With what had seemed to be a vast stumbling block now removed, Wes couldn't help but find Bee's grin infectious. "And if he hadn't left his cell in the house but it hasn't gone dusty..."
"Then the situation in general looks a lot less bleak than it did an hour or so ago," Wes finished for her.
"And all we need now... is Spike." Bee looked down at the GPS screen in her hands. "It says to take a right at the next junction."
"Tara, what's going on? The phone's been busy forever."
"Buffy, where are you? Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, but it looks like Wood got Spike and Rogue's hurt. I think she tried to get in the way. Can you get Giles to bring Spike's car and pick us up? ...and tell Bee her cat's here too."
"Well, Brandon took Spike's car before and Giles is over at Wes's house waiting for someone. Would you settle for Wes and Bee in his car?"
"Sure. We just need to get Rogue to a vet. I'm in the middle of some sort of industrial estate. All these buildings look the same..."
"They left a few minutes ago. Bee seemed to know where she was going. Buffy, we know what the poison is. It's the same one Faith used on Angel. Wes and Bee will fill you in when they get there but Dawn's on her way home. I think the whole tower thing proves your blood is the same and she wants to help."
"Well, she can't. I'm supposed to keep her safe and that idea is not safe."
"Safer than him draining you. Besides, unless we can find Spike kinda moot."
"So make with the location spell, Tabitha."
"Consider it done." Tara replaced the handset with a slight frown, not entirely certain that she could do a location spell that would work on a vampire on her own... but then Giles was only on the far side of the street. She dashed up to her room and found the bag of spell components they had brought back from LA. She added her own cell phone to the bag and pausing only to scribble a quick note and stick it on the front of the fridge, she headed for Wes's new home.
Dawn and Brandon were the first to arrive back. As Tara had anticipated, Dawn had refused to go further than a coffee shop in the next town over. Dawn called out to the empty house, "I'm ho-o-ome." When no one answered she wandered from room to room until she found the note on the refrigerator. Her curiosity temporarily assuaged she pulled a couple of cans of soda from the fridge and passed one to Brandon.
"Tara says she'll only be a few minutes and that Wes and Bee have gone to pick up Buffy and Rogue."
"No word on Spike, then?"
"Nope, but Tara's on the case. She'll whip up a location spell in no time. Then, Buffy can charge off again to find him and give him a good spanking for not staying here like he was supposed to."
Brandon gave her a lascivious smile. "They into that, then?"
"What?" Dawn's eyes widened as she realised what she had said. "No-o-o. Well, at least I don't think so... but then they do seem to kinda get off on sparring together... Tell you what, when Spike's better why don't you ask him and see how long you last before you get a spanking for even thinking anything like that within a 50' radius of me?"
"I think I'll pass on that tempting offer. Don't suppose there's the least possible chance that you're going to actually look at any homework?"
"I could look . There's not the slightest chance I'd be able to concentrate to actually do any, but I could stand about six feet away and point at the stack of books and say 'Oooh, there's my homework.' 'Sides I bet with all this I'm good for another day off tomorrow, especially if I limp a bit."
"Or you could give your sister one less thing to worry about and do your assignments so that you don't need another day off and they don't decide I'm a bad influence and ground you before Friday."
"Like they could stop me going... but I get the point, teacher's pet." Dawn glanced at the books and the computer occupying the dining room table. "Guess if they're using the table in there we'll have to use my room."
"I thought you weren't allowed boys in your room."
"I said they probably wouldn't let us study in my room. They never actually said I couldn't have boys in there. Xander was in Buffy's room all the time when they were younger."
"Buffy dated Xander?"
"Eugh, no. Not that Xander wasn't totally into her, but no. Just come on." Dawn started pulling Brandon toward the stairs, despite his protests.
"It's alright for you. You're not the one he's going to eat."
"You don't think tapping a vein counts?" she teased.
"Not compared with him ripping my throat out."
"I don't think your throat would be his target of choice," Dawn answered as she closed her room door behind them.
It was almost three quarters of an hour later before Buffy and Wes got back, having dropped Lily off at home and left Bee at the veterinarian's with Rogue. Rupert leapt down from Buffy's knee as soon as she opened the car door and strolled straight up to Buffy's front door, looking as much at home as if someone had rolled out his own personal red carpet. "I better go see what's happening. I thought Tara might have called to let us know where he is by now."
Wes eyed the rather battered VW camper occupying half of his drive. "Ditto. I'll round up Giles and Bee's future brother-in-law and meet you over there."
Buffy could sense the tension the second she walked into the living room. Looking round the room, the reason was all too apparent.
"Hi, Anya. Xander, I assume if you're here, you're ready with those apologies for everyone."
"Heyyy! I'm not the bad guy in this. Dawnster's just ticked that we barged in on her smooch session with lover boy before he hit third base and dragged the two of them down here."
"Dawn?" Buffy's query was swamped by Dawn's rebuttal.
"That is so not true. We've been studying and, yeah, maybe we kissed once or twice but even if we'd been stark naked and going at it hammer and tongs he still has no right to set foot in my bedroom without my permission or even knocking. I could have been getting changed or anything."
"No, Dawn, he doesn't." Buffy turned cold eyes on Xander making sure he got the point before returning to her sister. "But, that doesn't get you off the hook so I guess when this business with Spike is settled we're going to have to go through some ground rules with the pair of you. Starting with if no one else is home Brandon is not allowed in your room and if Brandon is in your room the door stays open. Deal?"
"Riley was allowed in your room."
"I was like twenty when I was going out with Riley."
"Nineteen and like anything was going to happen with you snooping round? Deal?"
Brandon nudged his girlfriend and she grudgingly conceded the point. "Deal. I thought you were bringing Rogue home?"
"Bee's waiting with her at the vet's until they get the x-rays back. She took a nasty bang on the head. I'm sorry, Dawn. She'll call as soon as there's any news. Now where's Tara? I was hoping she'd be done with the hocus-pocus so I could go get medieval on this Wood guy's ass."
"What the-?" Wes instinctively reached for one of the rapiers he kept in the umbrella stand in the hall as he took in the scene in the living room.
A pile of charred paper, ashes and various spell components were spread around on the parquet flooring along with Giles and Tara's inert forms. A grey-skinned demon in a long trench coat straddled Tara's body and seemed to be pressing something to her face. At Wes's appearance, he gave a whistle of alarm and rapidly stood. He backed away from the girl as he made a series of clicks and tuts, stretching out his right arm and twisting the bottle he held so that the label was facing toward Wes. It didn't matter. He'd already recognised the acrid scent of smelling salts. He returned the sword to its normal place and nodded to the people on the floor. "You understand me?"
The demon nodded.
"They were like this when you found them?"
"How long ago?"
The demon set down the bottle of smelling salts and then held up both hands, six fingers and two thumbs spread before lowering one hand whilst keeping the other raised.
"Twelve minutes... And you haven't been able to bring either round?"
The demon shook his head.
Wes peered at the charred scraps of paper that had once been a map but the entire area for several miles outside the town itself had burned up, and all without leaving a single mark on the wooden floor. It seemed that Giles and Tara had fallen foul of magic gone awry. They could wake up five minutes from now, five days or never and the only thing anyone could do for them was wait.
Wes frowned. "Do what you can to make them comfortable. I'll be back when I can. Help yourself to anything that's in the kitchen. Bee's been held up but she shouldn't be too much longer. Okay?"
The demon nodded again, sagging to his knees when Wes closed the front door behind him.
Robin Wood dashed a bucket of ice-cold water in Spike's face. "Wakey wakey. Rise and shine. It's a beautiful day to die... Well, for you to die, or can you really call it that since you're already dead?"
Spike was weak, but his senses were instantly alert, taking in his surroundings, knowing that his life depended on it. He recognised Wood from his description and he knew too well the coldness that showed in his eyes. Wood would say it was simply that death was Spike's due, but Spike knew that even if he died today Wood would find another excuse. He was feeling what it was like to be god, to have the power of life and death over another being and he was already hooked.
Spike scanned the 'room' where he found himself. It seemed to be some sort of half-finished basement. The ceiling overhead only seemed to stretch as far as this room, two doors standing open but not offering freedom, just a dusty death. Crude crosses had been nailed to the walls on every side, but in the middle of the room where Wood stood dressed in Spike's duster pushing back the leather sleeves to strap on some home made combination of brass knuckles and wrist brace was the pièce de resistance, the goat-headed pentagram that had featured in his and Buffy's waking nightmare.
Spike pushed his way to his feet, singeing his palm as he made use of the wall behind him for support. "Well look who's all grown up? Wouldn't mum be proud of her little boy takin' down the vamp that killed her? Actually, I think she'd be pretty disgusted. See, your mum, she had a bit of class. She knew the gig and she met it head on. She had style. You? You're just hidin' behind a pot of poison same way you hid behind that park bench."
Spike goaded the other man until he charged at him head down, driving him back against the wall and holding him there until smoke rose from his back where the crosses burned into his flesh but that was what the vampire wanted. There was no way he was going to meet the younger man over that seal. Like he'd tried to explain to the Scoobies these things are always about the blood, and sooner or later in this fight they were both going to bleed but if Spike had his way, they wouldn't be doing it anywhere near that thing.
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