Through The Looking Glass
By Maquis Leader
Author’s note: Post Not Fade Away. This is the sixth story written using the prompts from 600 Seconds. It follows Unciatim…. The prompts will be in bold.
Giles looked up at the soft knock on his door. “Come in.”
The door opened and Faith leaned inside. “Hey, do you have a minute?”
“Of course.” He smiled warmly as she entered the office and sat down.
“I, uh, I have an idea and I don’t know if it’s any good or not.” She twirled a lock of dark hair around a finger. “It’s probably stupid, but I thought I oughta tell somebody.”
“I doubt whatever you need to tell me is stupid.” Over the last two years, Giles had discovered that Faith was very insightful, sometimes seeing nuances that the rest of them had overlooked.
“Yeah, well – “ She grinned. “You haven’t heard what it is yet.”
When he smiled and leaned back in his chair, Faith took a deep breath and plowed ahead with her idea. “I was looking at the list of clues – Robin has one and I took a look at it – anyway, I had this weird idea pop into my head. It’s probably nothing.”
Giles found it interesting that Faith still felt she had to qualify her opinions as if she were the village idiot. It was rather sad as well. “Go ahead, Faith.”
“Okay, some things were pretty obvious. Buffy is the Slayer, the maids in waiting are all the rest of us, the Knave is the bad guy of the moment, and the tarts are whatever the hell he’s going to use to do his bad mojo with.” She ticked them off on her fingers one by one. “But, I don’t think that the Slayer’s Kingdom is here. I think it’s Sunnydale.”
“Sunnydale?” He sat forward, his elbows hitting the desk with a thump. “Sunnydale’s gone.”
“Not gone – just buried.”
“Sunnydale?” Opening a drawer, Giles pulled out a copy of the notes Murdoch had made from Drusilla’s diaries. “Sunnydale…”
“Stupid, right?” Faith scrunched down in her chair. “I just thought, you know, the castle part sounded like the school.”
“Sunnydale – what?” Pulling himself from the list of references, Giles focused on Faith once again. He’d nearly forgotten she was there. “What did you say?”
“Sunnydale, if it’s the Kingdom, then the school could be the castle that the Knave wants to raise. ‘Cos it’s over the Hellmouth, right?”
“Dear Lord… the Hellmouth…” It wasn’t possible. Was it? “This could be very bad.”
“I could be wrong – it’s just something weird that popped into my head.” She rushed to assure him. “You know me, I’m always going off one way when everybody else is going another.”
“Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Faith, you are a Slayer – technically you were the last Slayer to be Chosen. Odd thoughts, dreams, and feelings must never be dismissed – they could mean something. It’s better for this idea of yours to turn out to be nothing than for you to dismiss it and have it turn out to be the one thing that we needed to know.”
Uncharacteristically, tears welled up in her eyes, and Faith blinked them back furiously. She was not some weepy chick.
He pretended not to notice her sniffling. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to speak with Murdoch and Willow about this.”
“Sure. So… this might be helpful then?”
“It could very well be. I must admit that a part of me – a very large part – hopes that it’s not. The last thing we need is the Hellmouth reopened.” Opening another drawer, Giles took out a package of cookies and offered her one.
“Don’t you think this is taking the joke a little too far?” Her hand trembled as she took a chocolate chip cookie.
“Whatever made you think it was a joke?” He smiled at her. The gesture always made him think of Wesley, and as Faith gave him a quick hug before rushing out of the room, Giles had to admit that it made him feel good as well. Perhaps if other Watchers had given out cookies – water under the bridge and all that.
He picked up the phone and dialed Murdoch’s number. Not getting an answer, he hung up and went to check the other Watcher’s office. It was empty, and Giles frowned in annoyance. Murdoch most likely was probably down in Drusilla’s lair – the man was entirely too preoccupied with vampiric behavior. On the way out of the school, Giles met Willow as she was leaving her computer class.
She noticed his agitation immediately. “What’s up?”
“Faith came to see me; she had a feeling about some of the information Drusilla’s given us.”
“I take it that it wasn’t a good feeling?”
“Definitely not. Have you seen Murdoch this morning?” Opening the door leading under the street to the Hyperion, Giles followed Willow through.
“No, but if he’s not in his office, you know where he’s at.” Her tone let him know what she thought of Murdoch’s habits.
Willow knew that Giles had avoided being around Dru since she’d arrived, instead getting information through Murdoch or Angel whenever Dru had one of her “dreams”. She couldn’t blame him; being around Dru had to bring back the memories of Angelus and Jenny’s death.
“I can go down there and get him.” She offered.
“No.” He said firmly. “I believe we may need Drusilla’s input as well.”
There’s that British stiff upper lip. “Let me put my books in my room and I’ll go with you.”
“You can leave them in my office if you like. I need to stop and get my notes.”
Following Giles into his office, formally Angel’s office, Willow set her books on his desk, watching as he gathered up his notes and a notepad. He was moving slowly, at much less than his usual efficient pace.
It was strange how Dru bothered Giles as much as she did, while Angel and Spike didn’t. As the elevator took them down to the sublevel, Willow wondered what Dru could have done that he couldn’t forgive her for. Considering that Angel – no, Angelus – had murdered Jenny and then tortured Giles to the point that he’d been hospitalized for several days, it made Willow’s skin crawl to even consider the possibilities.
Outside of the old speakeasy – now Spike and Dru’s lair – Giles hesitated.
“Giles – “
“No, it’s all right.” Stiff upper lip, old man. “What’s this? ‘Trespassers will be eaten’?”
“What? Oh – “ Willow realized he was talking about the embroidered sign hanging on the door. “Vamp humor.”
“Indeed.” Lifting a hand, he knocked firmly.
“It’s open!” Called a voice from inside.
“Good to see that Spike’s manners have improved.” Giles opened the door and waved Willow through.
Inside, they found Murdoch seated on the sofa next to Dru while Spike lounged in a nearby chair playing a handheld video game.
A shudder ran over Giles’ skin as Dru smiled at him. He considered himself a rational man, but at that moment he wanted nothing more than to shove a stake deep into her heart and watch her explode into ashes.
Spike paused his game as the scent of fear and anger drifted to him from across the room. “Giles, come over here and have a seat, old boy.” He kicked the chair next to him. The odds were good that Giles wouldn’t hurt Dru, but why chance it?
Clearly startled to see Giles, Murdoch gaped for a moment before gathering his wits. “I assume something important has come up?”
“I’m afraid so. Faith came to me this morning with a new interpretation of things.” Ignoring Drusilla, Giles looked at the notes he’d jotted down. “She seems to think the Slayer’s Kingdom is Sunnydale.”
Murdoch’s reaction was similar to what his own must have been like. Willow on the other hand had her jaw hanging nearly to her lap. “She also thinks the ‘castle’ is the school.”
“Someone’s going to try to reopen the Hellmouth?” Willow had recovered enough to be angry. “Why – why would anyone even attempt it?”
“Ambition.” Murdoch suggested. “Just think of the power a person could gain.”
“Blind ambition, maybe. Opening it would probably kill them.”
“What if it’s not closed?” When Willow turned to him, Giles voiced a worry that he’d kept hidden for over two years. “What if it’s merely blocked off?”
“We saw the opening cave in – Sunnydale collapsed in on top of it.” Willow insisted. They’d lost so many of the girls, and Anya – had it been for nothing?
“Either way, we can’t ignore the possibility that someone may try to re-open or uncover it.” Giles pulled off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “We must be certain that the Hellmouth is no longer a threat.”
“Well, we could ask the beauty who’s given us these tantalizing clues.” Murdoch turned back to Drusilla. “What do you think, my dear? Is Sunnydale the Slayer’s Kingdom?”
“Do you really think I’m beautiful?” Dru smiled and let her face change into that of the demon that wore her skin.
“Yes.” The change didn’t startle him, as Murdoch had observed too many vampires up close to see it as anything unusual. After so many years of working with vampires, he could easily see the uniqueness of each one, the way others could determine the differences in antiques. Vampires were beautiful creatures – deadly, but beautiful. Drusilla reminded him of a serpent, a regal cobra. Spike was similar to a bulldog – English of course, while Angel had the look of one of the big cats. “Yes, I do.”
“Really?” Leaning closer, she looked deep into his eyes. “Oh… you do, don’t you? You’d like to be one of us, wouldn’t you?”
“Sometimes.” There was no denying that he’d fantasized many times about how it would feel to be a vampire. To feel the change as the bones and tissues shifted to form forehead ridges and fangs. To feel the blood lust and be able to scent and stalk his prey before taking it down. “However, I believe I’ll stick with being human.”
“Pity.” She leaned closer and brushed a kiss across his cheek. “If you change your mind, do let me know.”
Giles flinched, fully expecting Drusilla to rip out Murdoch’s throat. Instead, she settled back onto the sofa and picked up her teacup, her game face fading away, appearing as nothing more dangerous as an English lady.
“Sunnydale was such a lovely place.” Dru sipped her blood daintily as her mother had taught her. “Tournaments and parties every night. The Slayer and her champion defending her kingdom, riding the handsome steeds on the merry-go-round.”
Dru’s rambles came out of left field, taking Willow by surprise, if only for a moment. Her memories of the merry-go-round horses were that they were rusted, either too cold or too hot depending on the season, and they’d pinched the inside of her legs every time she’d gotten on one.
“Sunnydale is gone, Dru.” Spike reminded her gently. Ah, what fun they’d had in Sunnydale…
“Sunnydale isn’t gone, Spike. It’s just hiding.” Her teacup settled softly onto the saucer. The dark eyes lost their focus and she stared off into space. “The Queen of Hearts made some tarts – pretty and red they were – but the Knave, he stole them clean away.”
Murdoch snatched up the pen and paper lying on the coffee table. He wrote down what Dru was saying, waiting anxiously for more, afraid to prompt her and possibly bring her out of her vision.
“The Knave wants to raise the castle with its hallowed halls. ‘Mustn’t let me fall’ says the cake to the Slayer. Blood and rain in the Slayer's Kingdom, what will the horses play in?”
Mr. Rogers meets Alice Cooper. Willow shuddered. Hex Me Elmo sold separately.
They waited, but Dru blinked a few times, picked up her cup and went back to slipping her blood.
Giles let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. Just as Buffy had told him a few days ago, Drusilla was looking through their world into another one that held things only she could see. The question was, who was letting her see in?
“Angel?” Buffy tiptoed into Angel’s bedroom. Either he was asleep and she could ambush him, or he was pretending to be asleep so she could ambush him. Either way, it was a fun way to start the day.
The bedroom was empty and the bed had been made. “Well, crap.” Checking the bathroom, Buffy found it was empty as well. Angel wasn’t usually up this early, but maybe he’d decided to get in a little extra sword practice or something. There was nothing wrong with that except that he hadn’t invited her.
As she started to leave, Buffy noticed that the bed still had the same rumpled look it had had last night when she’d left. She had tried to smooth the bedspread out, but Angel had told her not to worry about it, it was time to go to bed – only now she realized Angel hadn’t gone to bed last night. At least not his own.
She sat down on the end of the bed and clasped her hands together in an effort to keep them from trembling. Angel hadn’t gone to get in some extra practice, his boots weren’t next to the bed and the sweatshirt he wore so that he wouldn’t attract a following of drooling schoolgirls on his way to the gym was still hanging on the back of the bathroom door.
This wasn’t the first time Angel hadn’t slept in his own bed. He still visited the three sisters occasionally. Buffy got up and opened his closet; the black leather duster he’d been wearing the last few months was hanging neatly on its padded hanger. She slammed the closet door. Angel hadn’t left the hotel.
Seething, Buffy stalked back to the bed and ripped the bedspread off. She threw it to the floor and stomped on it. Twice now she’d found Angel coming up from below the hotel at a time when he’d normally be still asleep – but his bed hadn’t been slept in. She didn’t know if he was with Dru or if he joined Spike and Dru or more disturbingly…
“Three times is a charm!” A pillow went flying. While she was willing to look the other way when Angel spent the night with those three witches, there was no way she was sharing him with Dru.
Whirling, she found Angel behind her. She’d been so angry she hadn’t heard him come in.
There was no need to ask what was wrong. Even before he’d opened the door to his rooms, Angel had heard Buffy’s heartbeat pounding an angry rhythm and her blood roaring through her veins. Once inside, he’d been broadsided by the anger and jealousy in her scent.
For a long moment they looked at each other, Buffy standing with her fists and her jaw clenched and Angel hunching his shoulders in guilt.
“Why?” Buffy ground out, the single word shattering the silence between them.
Anything he said was going to hurt her. He’d hoped – and he should have known better – that Buffy would assume he had gone to see the Sisters.
“Why?” Her voice was raw with unshed tears.
“Sometimes I need… more. You know that.” Angel had explained to Buffy soon after she’d moved into the hotel that he needed to get rid of the excess sexual energy that built up within him. He’d even gone so far as to confess that when he’d been in Sunnydale, he’d found someone to have sex with – discreetly. Angel had reminded her that he wasn’t human, he was a vampire, and the sexual needs were much greater and even though he did his best – sometimes undeniable. At the time, he thought she’d understood.
“I know! You want what I can’t give you!” Her heart felt like it was breaking all over again.
“That’s not fair. It’s we – what we can’t have. What I can’t give you!” It tore at Angel that Buffy was hurting because of him – because of what he was. Again. “We can’t make love – and I need to get it out – I need – “
“To fuck, Angel – you need to fuck!” She spat the word at him. “Just say it, Angel – fuck! It’s not like I haven’t heard the word before! It’s not like I haven’t done it – I’m not a scared, innocent little virgin anymore!”
“I know. I’m the one who changed that.” In case he’d forgotten, Angelus held up a replay of the moment he’d taken Buffy’s innocence. “All right, I need to fuck! If it wasn’t for this damn curse – “
“You could fuck me and you wouldn’t need anyone else – I know that!” Tears ran down her cheeks, and she wiped at them furiously. “But why her? Why with Dru? Aren’t those witches enough?”
That was what had her angry? “How is it different with Dru than with the sisters?”
“It just is – why don’t you tell me how it’s different?”
“It – well – “ Angel wasn’t sure how to explain it. Maybe it was the shared experience or the feeling of family. “Dru’s familiar, she cares for me in her own way.”
“Oh, is that it?” Buffy crossed her arms over her chest. “So if I need more, it’s okay for me to fuck Spike?”
A growl ripped out of him before he could stop it. The thought of Spike with Buffy – making love to her – “No!”
“Do you get the difference now?”
“No! I haven’t fucked Dru! Why should it be – ” The shocked expression on her face told Angel she’d thought otherwise. “Is that what you thought? Buffy, I haven’t had sex with Dru.”
“What else would I think?” Her face was red hot, embarrassment replacing her anger.
“Buffy…” His own anger drained away as quickly as it had came. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that’s what – I’m sorry.”
“No, my bad.” Tired suddenly, Buffy sat down on the end of the bed. “I just assumed – um… so what are you doing down there?”
“I watch mostly.” Angel sat down next to her. “Sometimes I let Dru bite me and I’ll bite her – I sometimes touch – “ Seeing the shock on Buffy’s face, he ducked his head to hide a smile. “Have you read the erotica I gave you?”
“Some of it. There’s not a lot of one on one stuff, mostly group sex and kinky stuff.” The books had made her aware of a whole other level of porn that she didn’t really want to be aware of.
He laughed softly. “Buffy, vampires don’t usually do one on one sex. We’re wired differently. If a group of vamps are together and one of them wants privacy and just one on one sex, they’re going to think he’s weird. Monogamy is not normal. It’s going to be ‘look at the weirdo, he only wants to fuck the same person all the time and won’t let us join in’.”
“But, you’ve got a soul.” Vampire sexual practices weren’t something she was well versed in. Slaying didn’t involve sex. Usually.
“But I’m also a vampire.” He put his arm around her and pulled her against his side. “I’m not a man, Buffy. I’m not human. I tried to explain how it is – I do my best to ignore the urges and feelings – but after a while, I’m just not strong enough.”
“So you need – group sex? ‘Cos I’m not sure I can do that.” She knew she couldn’t do that, not even for Angel.
“I don’t expect you to, and I don’t want to share you with anyone.” Getting up, Angel paced to the window and peeked out at the curtains at the sunny Southern California morning. “Back in the day, Darla, Dru, and I all slept together – had sex and slept I mean. Then when Spike joined us, he – well – the beds were bigger back then.“
“I get it.” Buffy made a face at the mental picture he’d given her. “Lots of everybody doing everybody.”
“Exactly.” He couldn’t help smiling at the look on her face. “If we could make love, it’d be different, but we can’t. And there’s just so much sexual energy that builds up, especially with you here. It helps to watch Dru and Spike, and… “ Angel shrugged, leaving it to her imagination.
“The biting really helps, I guess.” There was no guessing about it, she’d been bitten and knew exactly what it did. Instant, mind blowing orgasm. “So… does that mean you’re gay or…”
“No!” It was his turn to be embarrassed. It didn’t help that Angelus was laughing like a crazy man. “Vampires tend to be bisexual, generally preferring one sex over the other, but either will do in certain situations. Before I was turned, I liked women, so that’s been Angelus’ preference as well, unless, well… sometimes…” That was only part of the truth. Vampires would have sex with anything that was attractive and had sexual organs that looked to be compatible.
“Good, ‘cos I’d hate to worry about you ditching me for some guy.” She smiled, relieved and reassured.
“Never happen. I love you.”
Getting up from the bed, Buffy went to him. “I’m sorry, I guess I kinda blew things out of proportion. But I don’t see the witches, and I know you don’t care about them, so I can deal with it.”
“More or less?” Angel teased.
“More or less. But with Dru – you guys have a past. It’s just different.“ She shook her head. “I can’t look at her and know you’ve been – whatever – with her.”
“I’m sorry.” Taking her hands, Angel pulled her against him, looking down into the gray eyes. “I love you, and I wish I wasn’t made this way. I wish I didn’t need – to fuck or anything else – without you. But I do.”
“I know.” Resting her cheek against his chest, Buffy sighed. They’d talked about it, and Angel had been very candid about his sexual urges. When they got too strong to ignore, he’d told her that he’d find a female who could keep up with him and fuck himself into exhaustion. Usually the three sisters, as they weren’t exactly human anymore, and he didn’t have to worry about hurting them. Sometimes vamps, who he’d dust when he was through with them.
Angel’s sigh mirrored hers. The hope that the two of them would one day be together and he wouldn’t need to hold himself back or find another woman to momentarily sate his urges had faded with the revelation of the full scope of the gypsy curse. Now that he’d signed the promise of humanity away, the hope was nothing more than a sweet memory. Angel hadn’t told Buffy that he’d never be human, fearing it would break her heart and she’d leave him.
“Do you really – “ Angel slid his fingers under her chin and tipped Buffy’s face up so he could look into her eyes again. “Do you need more?”
“Sometimes.” Angel looked absolutely crestfallen, and it was hard not to laugh. “You keep me pretty happy and satisfied.”
Her explanation seemed to satisfy him, and Buffy was able to snuggle herself against him once more. Angel was both talented and giving as a lover and he’d found creative ways to get around the fact that they could fool around only so far. They had a drawer full of play toys and with Angel lying on top of her, rocking his body and stroking a dildo in and out of her, she could make believe that they were making love.
That was generally enough to keep her satisfied and when it wasn’t, she beat some poor punching bag to death. Still, it would be nice to get her brains fucked out occasionally.
“You know, there’s things we could do.” He kissed the top of her head. “Besides the things we already do.”
“Like what?” Please don’t let him suggest I go watch Spike and Dru doing it!
“We could find a lover for both of us, or a couple that likes to share, or there’s demons that can be either male or female – depending – “ Feeling her stiffen against him, Angel hurried to explain. “Just options, just in case, you know?”
“I’ll keep it in mind.” She shoved the idea into the trash bin.
He wasn’t sure he wanted to share Buffy, or watch her make love to someone, even a demon that could assume his shape, but it was only fair to give her the same options he gave himself. Angel rubbed his cheek against her soft hair. “I won’t go down there anymore, okay?”
“’Kay.” She rubbed her hands up and down his back. “Just tell me you didn’t do it with Spike.”
“Nah, he’s not my type. I prefer natural blondes.”
Looking up at him again, Buffy rose up on her tiptoes until she was nearly on eye level with him. “You showered, right?”
“Showered, gargled, brushed my teeth.” He blew a minty cool breath at her.
Pressing her lips to his, Buffy concentrated on giving Angel a kiss that would make him think twice about kissing anyone else.
Just as she was getting to the point of making Angel’s knees give out, there was a frantic pounding on the door.
“Ignore it – “ Angel gasped. “I think you started my heart.”
“I wish.” Catching the soft skin of his throat, Buffy bit down hard – harder than she normally would – until Angel’s body bowed tight against hers.
Not until shouting joined the pounding on the door did Buffy ease up, licking and kissing the mark she’d made. A low growl rumbled in Angel’s belly, but he rubbed his cheek against hers docilely.
“Buffy! Angel!” The door burst open and Giles rushed in. “There’s an emergency – we need you downstairs immediately!”
“Do you guys have ESP or something?” Buffy frowned at Giles. “I swear the minute our lips touch – boom! Something happens.”
“I’m sorry. We’ll try to schedule emergencies between make-out sessions from now on.”
“Don’t get snarky, I’m just saying – how come we never get interrupted when we’re fighting?”
“It’s our fate.” Angel put a hand on the small of her back and guided her toward the door. “We live, therefore we angst.”
“You’ve gotta stop going with Spike to open mic night.”
“So what’s the deal this time?” Buffy plopped onto a chair in the library.
“Why can’t these things happen after noon?” Faith yawned and slouched down in her chair. “I was sleeping like a baby.”
“It’s nine a.m. – it’s not that early.” Robin poured her a cup of coffee. “I’ve been up since six.”
“Yeah, but you’re a masochist.” She poured cream and sugar into the coffee until it was a nice tan color.
“Ramsey called from London, there was an alarm tripped at the old Council building last night.” Giles told them. “They’re still removing artifacts and items from the caverns beneath the rubble. The area is warded – strongly warded – but someone broke through them.”
“What did they get?” Angel had assumed that the majority of valuable or dangerous items had already been moved to the new headquarters. “What’s left down there that could be of interest?”
“There are still some significant items remaining. Watchers’ journals, weapons – the Council had been saving things for well over 2000 years.” Giles felt the need to defend the Council. “It takes time to inventory and move that many items.”
“Yeah, yeah, moving things, blah, blah, blah – “ Buffy waved a hand. “What’s missing?”
“Well, something very odd.” He ignored her look that said most of the things they dealt with were odd. “The box holding Jasmine’s remains was taken, along with a copy of the Venikov prophecies.”
“Jasmine’s remains?” Angel asked. “What remains?”
“There weren’t a great deal, but Wesley thought that it was best to gather them up.”
As always, the mention of Wes saddened Angel. “He didn’t say anything about it.”
“He felt that the subject was too painful. And once you’d accepted Wolfram and Hart’s offer – he felt it might be safer to send the remains to the Council. Unfortunately, the Council building had been destroyed not long before, so the remains were stored in the surviving vaults while the new headquarters were being set up.”
“Why would anybody want this chick’s dead body?” Faith grimaced.
“Jasmine was a god of sorts – kind of like Illyria was.” Angel told her. “Who knows what can be done with her remains?”
“Maybe bring her back?” That had been possible with the Master and he was only a vampire. Buffy shoved those memories aside. “A little dead god’s bones and the Hellmouth – presto! Resurrected god.”
“You guys spend too much time chasing down these super badass demons. Whatever happened to kicking plain old vampire butt every night?” She wouldn’t admit it, but these god type demons they’d been fighting lately scared the hell out of Faith.
“We didn’t have to chase Jasmine down. She was born here.” There’d been so much going on in Sunnydale at the time that Angel hadn’t told them exactly what had happened. “Cordelia was replaced with a demon – or she was possessed by one – we never really figured that part out. She – she and Connor – she got pregnant and she had Jasmine. And that killed her.”
Buffy reached for Angel’s hand. The guilt was a double dose. Not only had he not realized that Cordelia wasn’t Cordelia for possibly two years or longer, but she’d died and he’d been unable to save her. Not even the visit Cordy had made after she died had helped ease Angel’s conscience.
“Does this fit into Drusilla’s visions?” Robin asked. “Buffy was in Sunnydale at the time so there’s no connection.”
“Oh, yeah, there is. Remember Cordy’s nickname?” Willow made eye contact with Buffy. “Queen C.”
“I knew it!” Murdoch exclaimed. “I knew that the Queen and the Slayer weren’t the same person! The Queen’s tarts are the remains that were stolen – though I’m not certain why they’re red.”
“Jasmine hid her real self; the only way to see her real appearance was to mix her blood with yours.” A smile ghosted across Angel’s face. “Fred used a bullet – she shot Jasmine and the bullet passed through her and into me, mixing our blood so that I could see Jasmine as she really was.”
“Don’t ever tell me my methods are extreme again.” Buffy told Giles.
“The Queen of Hearts and her stolen red tarts are accounted for – “ Murdoch looked at his notes. “How do the Venikov prophecies figure in?”
“They are about Buffy.” Giles mused. “Perhaps there’s some clue as to what this Knave intends to do with Jasmine’s remains and where we need to go – “
“I know where we’re going.” Buffy interrupted. “Down the rabbit hole.”
“Down the – well, it would certainly fit the theme of things.” Giles agreed. “But where is the rabbit hole?”
“Buffy, Sunnydale is buried under a gazillion tons of rubble.” Robin reminded her. “Even if this guy wants to use the Hellmouth there – you can’t get to it.”
“How do we know?” They hadn’t been back to Sunnydale since that day. After a long look at the crater, they’d gotten on the bus and driven away.
“Buffy, we saw the buildings coming down – the place is gone.” Faith hadn’t seen much on the way out of town, since she’d been more concerned with Robin’s condition, but she’d seen enough to be sure the place was history. “Fall down – go boom.”
“From where I was on top of the bus, which by the way is a ride Disney should build, buildings were falling down, yeah, but the whole place was sinking, too. Like… I dunno how to explain it. It was like Sunnydale was being pulled down from underneath and then the sides fell in.”
“There’s miles of tunnels and caves and sewers under Sunnydale.” Mentally, Angel tried to calculate the miles of underground that he knew about and after a moment gave up. “Even if every building in Sunnydale is buried – the underground could still be there.”
“And Drusilla said that Sunnydale was ‘hiding’. Oh my God…” Willow rubbed her temples. “Did we do all that for nothing?”
“No, Willow – “ Buffy reached across the table. “Think of what we did. All those ubervamps and the First – we kicked ass in a big way.”
“I know, but sometimes I get tired of beating down the same problem over and over.” Taking Buffy’s hand, she squeezed hard.
“Look at it this way – we’ve got more help than we used to have. More power, too.”
Which may mean the bad guys will just get bigger and meaner. Willow nodded and let go of Buffy’s hand.
“Wonderful, Sunnydale.” Giles sighed. “Let’s put together a plan and – “
“No. No sitting and planning.” Buffy slapped her hand on the table. “We know where he’s going, so let’s get there first. I’m tired of walking into things and having to react instead of attack. Let’s be the ones setting the trap for a change.”
It was hard to argue with Buffy’s logic, but it clashed with Giles’ training to jump into the fray without careful planning. He looked to Angel for support. The only person who could overrule Buffy – and have her listen – was Angel.
“I have to agree with Buffy.” Angel told him. “For once we know exactly where the fight’s going to be – so why not get there first?”
“All right, let’s get this party rolling!” Faith pushed her chair back.
“We still need to work out who’s going – transportation – “ Giles sputtered as the room began to empty.
“You do all that, Giles – you plan, I slay – remember? But first – ” Buffy leaned on the table and fixed him with a stern look. “ – what’s this book about me? And why didn’t you tell me about it?”
“Oh, ah… oh, dear…”
The prompts used in this chapter are:
Only for a moment
Shattering the silence
Down the rabbit hole
The Finale: And What Alice Found There – A fool's paradise is a wise man's hell.