The meal ended in a flurry of voices all speaking over one another in excited tones. Buffy and Xander had just explained that they suddenly remembered Spike desperately trying to make them understand that young Dr. Ben Wilkinson and Glory, the god from hell, were one and the same.
"I don't get it," Xander's voice rose. "Okay, I may not be attento-guy, especially when Spike's the one talking, but I think I should have clued in to something that important!"
"Well, I didn't either. I remember it was kinda like I didn't even hear Spike's words the way he spoke them. It was like one of those foreign movies where the words they are saying are different from the ones you hear," Buffy suggested.
"Dubbed," Willow offered helpfully, "You mean dubbed movies where they put a different voice track over the original one."
"Yeah, like that." Buffy scrunched her forehead as she tried to remember the encounter with Spike. "No wonder Spike was looking at me like I was crazy."
"And he knows crazy," Xander muttered, causing Anne's eyebrow to rise in a familiar facial expression.
"Hey!" Buffy punched Xander in mock irritation, "Don't EVEN compare me to that nutjob!"
Dawn took up the teasing. "Well, Spike did love Dru for like a century and she was certifiable, but he put up with it. Now he's totally in love with you…. Do the math."
Buffy glared at her snickering little sister and moved the conversation back to the Ben/Glory situation with a sigh. "And I'm just saying that I don't get why no one could actually hear what Spike was saying."
"Magic, maybe?" Willow suggested. "A spell of some kind that might keep the truth from being revealed if anyone told it. That would help keep the secret. If anyone found out, they couldn't tell anyone else, even if they could remember it themselves. Wonder why Spike remembered?"
Giles nodded his head at the idea and looked thoughtful for a moment. "Perhaps it is because Spike isn't human. The magic might only be tuned to humans, leaving it possible for Spike to witness the change and remember it yet be unable to pass the information forward."
Xander grinned as recent activities began to make better sense. "I get it now! Spike couldn't get anyone to hear the truth so he worked around it!" Xander then told the group how he, Spike and Clem had captured one of the Knights and how Spike had gone off on a personal mission after the interrogation ended.
"Oh, dear," Anne worried, "I do hope William hasn't rushed into the lion's den. He always fancied those tales of knights and heroes rushing to protect their ladyloves. I do hope he is not attempting to actually try such derring-do."
Giles patted Anne's hand in consolation. "You needn't worry overmuch about Sp…William. He's well able to comport himself in battle. He has, after all, managed to remain undusted for over a century and, as Dawn pointed out, keep his mentally unstable sire alive as well. To do so would requires far more than simple luck."
"Indeed, luck would be the last factor William would wish or need. His 'luck', if you will, has never been of the best. His ingenuity, however, has been remarkable," Anne replied. "He was ever one for impulsive actions that led to dust-ups and scrapes, but he would think well on his feet and it would come out right in the end. Had his interests been more martial than artistic, he might well have made a fine field commander in a regiment."
Buffy found herself remembering past encounters with Spike during his Big Bad era and could easily see those very traits. His plans were never bad in and of themselves, but his impatience always thwarted the best of them….still, he never got dusty when they blew up in his face.
The more Buffy heard of William, the more she could see that Victorian gentleman in aspects of Spike. Maybe William wasn't completely gone, just as Mrs. Pratt had been saying all along.
Unlike her Slayer friend, Willow hadn't become sidetracked in her thoughts and brought the
matter back to Ben and Glory. "So why is it that Buffy and Xander can remember what Spike said now?"
"Maybe the magic wore off?" suggested Xander.
"No, magic that powerful wouldn't just time-expire," Willow disagreed.
"True.” Anya had to side with Willow on this one. “And it isn't just powerful but important magic, so whoever originally did the spell would have been very careful to make sure it would last."
"So why would it just suddenly go away?" Dawn asked, her voice shaky with emotion. Anything to do with Glory and her powers affected the Key far more than anyone else at that table, after all. She was the only one that Glory had any plans for, when push came to shove.
"Perhaps this Glory person simply went away," suggested Anne.
"No, not gone away…," Buffy thought aloud. "Maybe someone got rid of her. Xander, where was Spike going?"
Xander blinked a few times, trying to remember exactly what Spike had said as they parted company. "I don't think he really said, Buff. He seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere though, and it was like he had something important to do. I figured he was going to get more
information from somewhere."
"If what we suspect is true, Glory may well be dead and this entire crisis may be over at last!" Giles ventured a happy grin at the thought.
"Did Spike say when he'd be back?" Buffy demanded. "’Cause we really need to know if that's true."
"Goddess, I hope it is!" Willow exclaimed. "If Glory is trashy fashion history then I can concentrate on getting my baby better and we can all relax for a change!"
"We'll just have to wait for Spike to get back, I guess," Buffy decided. "I mean I could go out and try to beat the information out of one of the scabby minions, but I'm guessing Spike already has the answer. At least we'll be able to hear what he actually has to say this time."
""Hey, buddy! You're looking like the Gluknoz who ate the litter! Everything work out okay?" Clem beamed at his best friend.
"Score: Big Bad, one; Hell Bitch, zero," Spike answered as he swaggered into the cave. He hadn't felt so potent, so powerful in a long while. Being chipless was going to take some getting used to, especially if he had no plans to revert to his pre-chip behavior. Still in all it was good to be free to make those choices without electricity forcing his hand.
"So this Glory is gone then?" Clem inquired, giving the chained Melchoir a look that said 'I told you so'.
"Ben's dead--that's certain--and if this monastery reject was telling the truth, that means Glory is too." Spike began to unchain the captive monk.
"So the Beast is truly dead?" Melchoir asked, his voice filled with awe. "How can an unclean one such as yourself achieve the will of the Lord?"
"Seems to me the Lord I was taught about years ago could use any damned thing he wants to do his dirty work. Even an unclean one. By the way, those hell and brimstone spouters I remember seemed to think everyone, even a robe wearer like you, was pretty unclean." Spike had never liked the holier-than-thou attitude of clergy and having just risked unlife and limb playing for the good guys made being called ‘unclean’ rankle a bit.
"So now that I've solved your little problem and put you lot out of work, looks like you'll need to find some old hermits caves or the like and get out of Sunnyhell." Spike started to push the monk towards the cave entrance. "Need to do a bit of clean up with those crusty, cowled
cenobites. Reckon they might try a bit of mojo to bring the bitch back, if possible."
"We can take care of our own," Melchoir promised. "In the story I told of the origins of our purpose, I mentioned that there were splits, divisions amongst our number over the years. Those who serve the Beast were once of our number. Their outward appearance has altered to reflect the sickness of their immortal souls, just as your kind of monster changes in appearance as evil consumes you."
Spike’s eyes narrowed as he growled, "Not seein' much change here, mate."
"Clearly you have yet to sink to the levels of evil that in time show your true demonic nature," Melchoir insisted. "Surely you have seen that occur amongst your kind."
Spike thought back to the Master and his one meeting with the head of his clan. 'If that's how I'll look by being the Big Bad, maybe changin' sides isn't a bad idea. Old Bat Face was no looker! Can't see Buffy ever gettin' warm fuzzies over somethin' lookin' like that.'
Spike shook his head to clear that image from his mind. "So you're sayin' these minions of Glory were once part of you lot?"
"They were. They were those who concluded the Beast was not able to be defeated and that to join and rule was a better plan than to fight the inevitable." Menchoir looked grief-stricken to think any of his order would make such a choice.
"'Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven', eh?" suggested Spike as he quoted Milton.
"So it would seem. It would also seem that they chose poorly," Melchoir smiled for the first time in what seemed an eternity. "We shall gather the infidels and deal with them. They will be of no further importance to any of you."
"So, Mel, where will you guys go anyway? Got any career plans now that my buddy's killed the wicked witch?" Clem had a tendency to like everyone he encountered and his time spent with Melchoir had developed into a friendship of sorts, at least in Clem's mind.
"That will be for our Abbot to determine. This part of the world is not one we are well adjusted to live in, so I would imagine an older part of the world will become our home. It is likely that we shall devote the rest of our lives to prayer and good works," Melchoir noted.
"Sounds like a bloody bore to me," Spike said with rolled eyes.
"But you won't even get to watch TV if you do that!" Clem exclaimed in real distress. "Won't you guys go crazy from the boredom?"
"What, you think they're not crazy already?" Spike snorted.
"Madness comes in many forms," Melchoir admitted. "I believe ours to be divine madness if it is such." He smiled benignly at Clem and responded to the demon’s concern. "I shall miss some things of this world and time, indeed. Still, I have been set apart for a higher purpose and must not turn my back on a holy calling."
"If you're up for a bit of prayin' for the ‘unclean thing’ that fixed your problem for you, I wouldn't turn 'em down. Once Buffy and her crew find out I'm not all chip-havin' it could get ugly for yours truly," Spike sighed. "My girl's more likely to stake first and ask questions later."
Giles was revealing a bit of his plans for the upcoming trip to England, beyond getting the young witches settled and trained. "I had thought to establish current identities for you and William while in London. I think that with Willow along to use her computer skills, we can create a background for both of you as I promised earlier."
"That would be lovely," Anne nodded. "It is odd to think that one's actual life must not be considered and an entire new history must be created from whole cloth."
"I shall try to make your new background similar to your actual one to make it easier to remember," Giles promised. "Perhaps once you have the necessary papers you would enjoy a visit to the mother country for a look around?"
Anne blushed slightly but could not contain the excited gleam in her eyes as she imagined such a trip. "I should fear becoming quite lost, even if my heart fairly leaps at the thought of seeing my old surroundings. I didn't get out much after the illness took over my life. There were many things and places, even in my own time, that I longed to see."
"I would be happy to escort you to any and all of those places, madam," Giles offered, causing Anne's blush to deepen markedly.
"I would enjoy that greatly," she whispered.
Spike cautiously opened the back door and followed the voices to the dining room, where the group lingered over their dessert. He crossed to his mother's side and dropped a fond kiss on her cheek. "And what is it that would give you pleasure, my good lady?"
"William!" Anne blushed even deeper, if that were possible. "We have wondered at your absence." Anne's brow furrowed as she took in Spike's bedraggled appearance. "What on earth has happened to you, my son?"
It took Spike a moment or so to remember he still bore the signs of Glory's torture session. He realized that, to his sheltered mother, he must look like the losing half of a barroom brawl, not that the good lady would have had any exposure to such a spectacle. "I’m fine, Mum. Had a bit of a dust-up with that Glory troublemaker, but I'm fine now. One advantage to me bein' a vampire is I heal quite quickly. You're not to worry for a moment."
"Ah, yes," Giles broke in, "and speaking of Glory, we think you may have some new word on her? Suddenly both Buffy and Xander have a clear memory of you telling them that Glory's human identity is none other than your lovely mother's physician."
Spike quirked a brow at the revelation that his attempt to pass on that vital information had finally registered. "Bint's not a problem any more. Don't know if the hell I sent her to is the one she was so interested in goin' to, but she's finished here." Spike looked fondly at Dawn and promised, "No need to worry about her comin' after anyone ever again."
Dawn startled the vampire by throwing herself into his arms and nearly crushing him with the intensity of her hug. Her tear-filled eyes of gratitude made Spike's dead heart nearly beat. "Thank you, Spike! Somehow I knew you'd save me from her. You've always been there watching out for me!"
"And the Slayer sister gets zippo credit for Dawn watchage," Buffy quipped.
"Oh, you take care of me too, but Spike's the one who always shows up in the nick of time and saves me." Dawn's look of worshipful adoration settled on the suddenly shy vampire.
"So, how'd you do it?" Xander wanted details. "Glory beat the snot…," with a side look at Anne, Xander apologized for his vulgar comment before continuing, "Well, she pretty much outmatched you and Buffy. How'd you get the upper hand?"
"Just used my noggin and came up with a foolproof plan," Spike answered. He didn't really want to give details, as it would raise too many questions about how he had been able to kill her in her Ben guise.
"Well, I for one don't care at all how Spike did it, I'm just glad he did. There is far too much to do planning my wedding to be distracted by hormonal hell gods and the doctors that house them," Anya pronounced. "Good job, Spike. Want a piece of apple crumble?"
Giles pursued the issue in Watcher-like form. "I, on the other hand, DO care how Spike accomplished this. It needs to be recorded. One never knows when such information will be useful in the future. Besides, I need to be certain that Glory has been dealt with in a permanent manner."
"Oh, she's dead all right," Spike assured the Watcher.
"But is she ‘really, most sincerely dead?'" Xander asked, grinning widely as Dawn tittered at his horrible Munchkin impression.
"Yes, you twit, she's dead, gone and likely in the coroner’s office as we speak. Ben is, anyway. Doubt if she changed after I offed him." Spike started to leave the room as soon as he realized that he had slipped and brought the human doctor into the equation.
"So you actually killed her while she was in her human form?" Giles asked with a nervous tic. "And just how did you accomplish that without any dire repercussions from your chip?"
All eyes turned to Spike as he struggled to think of a way out of the situation.
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