DISCLAIMER: The Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel characters are the property of Mutant Enemy, Joss Whedon, and Fox Studios. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2001 by Djinn. This story is Rated PG-13.

Gravity

Part 3 - Surrender

by Djinn

 

"Come on, put your back into it. A Watcher scoffs at gravity." Giles to Spike, Restless

 

 

Dawn hated to admit it but she was bored. If she had to look at one more musty old magic book she was going to scream. She snuck a look at the rest of the Scoobies. Willow was taking copious notes. Tara was looking something up in a dictionary of magical terms. Spike was translating bits of an obscure Latin text. She was surprised that he seemed to be getting into it. Xander and Anya were both leafing intently through the first two of a new stack that Giles had brought in from his apartment. And the watcher was just walking through the door with another box of books.

 

She sighed. Why couldn't she concentrate? When Giles had called them together several weeks ago and began this hunt, she had searched the old works for clues as eagerly as the others. It was for Buffy, and she would do anything in her power to get her sister back. But Dawn was beginning to realize she just wasn't cut out to be research girl.

 

Not that she didn't have plenty of incentive. The dreams were becoming more frequent and very intense. Dawn woke from them feeling as if she'd never gone to sleep. And the pain of her sister's loneliness and fear haunted her during the day.

 

She looked over at Faith, who looked exhausted too. In fact she was falling asleep.

 

"Faith," Dawn hissed. "Let's get outta here.'

 

The older slayer perked up instantly. She shook her head as if clearing out the cobwebs and stood, announcing in a voice that brooked no argument, "Patrol time. Dawn and I hate to ditch, but you know...chosen two and all that."

 

Spike looked up, his expression torn.

 

Dawn could tell that he believed he was making progress with the translation. "Stay here and finish what you're doing. We'll be fine."

 

He held her gaze for a long moment then, seemingly satisfied that she was on her game, nodded and turned back to his work.

 

Giles looked down from the bookshelves in the loft. "Be careful." His tone held confidence in them despite the warning.

 

They both nodded and hurried past the others and out the front door. Faith immediately headed to the Espresso Pump. She ordered double shots for them both. Dawn moved ahead of her to pay the tab. She knew that Faith didn't like to borrow from Giles and didn't have any of her own funds, although her watcher was working on that. According to Wesley, Faith's first watcher had left a small amount of money to 'her ward' in her will. It was being held by the Council, but Giles was working to get it released.

 

"Thanks," Faith smiled at her. "I'll pay you back."

 

"Whatever." Dawn tossed her some sugar packets and added some to her own drink. "You as tired as I am?"

 

"These damn dreams. I keep telling B to leave me alone, that we're doing what we can. But it doesn't seem to help."

 

"I know," Dawn followed her to a high table. "The last couple of nights though..." she trailed off, not wanting to put into words what she feared.

 

"I know. She's losing strength."

 

"Yeah." They both fell silent for a second, then Dawn whispered, "Do you want her back, Faith?"

 

The other slayer didn't hesitate or look away. "No." She saw Dawn flinch and continued seriously, "But you do. And Giles does. And I care about both of you. If what you need to make you happy is Buffy, then I'll work like hell to get her back."

 

Dawn smiled. "You said that so easily. That you care for us."

 

Faith rolled her eyes. "Don't get all mushy on me or I'll toss you into that wall."

 

"Like you could," Dawn giggled.

 

"You think I couldn't?" Faith pretended to be mad but her eyes gave her away.

 

"I think you wouldn't," Dawn answered solemnly. "I know you wouldn't. I trust you."

 

Faith looked down and fiddled with the empty sugar packets.

 

Dawn continued, "I know you don't like sharing and all, but I just want you to know that I don't think I could have handled all this, I mean the slayer thing, without you. You mean a lot to me too, is all." She grabbed her cup and rose quickly, tossing it in the trash before looking back at Faith. She pretended not to notice how bright the other slayer's eyes looked. "You coming or what?"

 

"Yeah," Faith blinked hard several times. "I'm coming."

 

-----------------------------

 

"Any progress?" Giles asked Spike a few hours after the two slayers had left.

 

"I don't know," the vampire mused.

 

He nibbled on the pen while he looked down at the text. His normally cocky attitude was abandoned for the moment, and Giles realized that at some point, Spike might have been a bit of a scholar.

 

"See here. And here." The vampire pointed to several phrases. "I've never seen these words used like this before. The rest is pretty rudimentary magic, but these are bollixing me. And I'm just not sure if they are crucial to our understanding of it or not. If they are, this could be an important document for us."

 

Giles studied the words that Spike was having trouble with. He didn't recognize the usage either. He walked over to the counter and dialed the phone, then moved back with it to where Spike sat. "Oh hello, Cordelia? Yes, it's Giles. I'm fine, thank you for...no, Faith hasn't killed any of us yet. No, I don't expect her to. No I...listen, is Wesley there? Well Angel then? No, I don't need a gun. Oh, I see. No, I don't think he can help. Yes, well, have Wesley or Angel call me as soon as they get in, will you? Thanks. Good...what? No, I haven't seen that commercial. Yes of course, I'll be sure to look for it. Right then. Good-bye."

 

He clicked off the phone with a sigh of relief and realized that everyone in the room was watching him with varying degrees of amusement.

 

Xander shook his head in mock disbelief. "I give you Cordelia Chase. God broke the mold making that one."

 

"You think Angel or Wesley might know what this means?" Spike asked. "Don't know about your Wesley fellow, but Angel never struck me as the academic type."

 

"Perhaps not, but I think that with his soul came a desire to help, to understand. He's had access in the past to volumes that were very helpful."

 

Spike shrugged, "If you think the poofter can help. I'm just saying..."

 

Xander sighed dramatically. "Man does this moment suck. If I insult Angel, I have to side with Spike. If I don't agree with the Bizarro Watcher, then I'm choosing to pass up an opportunity to rag on dead boy."

 

Spike glared. "You cannot possibly compare me to that wanker."

 

"You've got me there," Xander agreed as he went back to his book.

 

Willow stood up and walked to the watchers. "Give me the phrases. I'll see if the Net has anything on them." She smiled as she teased Giles, "Unless you want to do the search this time?"

 

"No," he rushed to assure her. "That's fine. You go ahead." He turned and headed for the loft. "The rest of us back to work, right?"

 

-----------------------------

 

"Jerk!" Faith thrust savagely and the vampire went up in a cloud of dust. She looked at her shirt. The vamp had ripped half of her sleeve off. "Damn it. This was my favorite."

 

"Quit whining," Dawn said breathlessly as she parried a blow from another vampire. A third was getting up slowly from where it had landed when Faith had kicked it. "It's just a shirt. And a little help here would be nice."

 

Faith pretended to examine the wreckage of her sleeve. She was actually studying Dawn's fighting style, assessing how she was handling herself. Her roundhouse was good, but her jabs were sloppy. They would have to work on those the next time they trained together. Faith wondered when it had become second nature for her to pay attention to someone else this way.

 

"Hey!" Dawn yelled angrily. She stabbed the vampire and lost control of the stake. It disappeared with her opponent.

 

"Sloppy," Faith chided. The third vampire was already moving toward Dawn.

 

"He totally ruined this jacket. I love this jacket."

 

"What happened to 'it's just a shirt'?"

 

"Faith, dammit, a stake would be nice."

 

Sloppy and becoming too dependent, Faith decided. She looked around, counted a least three nearby objects that could serve. "Fresh out, Squirt."

 

"Faith!" Dawn looked panicky as she traded blows with the last vampire.

 

"I won't always be here. You won't always have a stake. Be creative, Dawn."

 

"Damn you!" Dawn yelled, hitting viciously and buying herself some breathing room.

 

"You talking to him or me?" Faith asked with a laugh. She moved her own stake into throwing position.

 

"I'm not sure." Dawn looked around then ran to her left and pulled down a branch from a nearby tree. Breaking it off, she turned and slammed it hard into the vampire who had come up fast behind her.

 

At the same moment, just in case, Faith let her stake fly. Dawn pulled the branch out of the vampire before he exploded into dust. Faith's weapon was history.

 

"Sloppy," Dawn laughed. "And thanks."

 

Faith shrugged. She had never seen Dawn fight so poorly. For a new slayer, the girl was normally incredibly inventive and effective. The dreams were taking too much of a toll on Dawn, and probably on herself.

 

The younger girl seemed to be reading her mind. "I pretty much sucked tonight, huh?"

 

"You're just tired."

 

"So are you, but you didn't stop thinking."

 

"I've had more experience, had to think to survive. I never had the luxury of another slayer being there to depend on."

 

"What about Buffy?"

 

Faith thought back to all the times she and Buffy had slayed together. "I think that I was so busy trying to prove myself as good as her that I could never admit I needed the help."

 

Dawn nodded. "I get that." She threw the branch down. "I think maybe if she were here, I'd feel kinda the same way." She looked down.

 

Faith had not considered that Dawn might share her inferiority complex when it came to Buffy. "Maybe so. But you know what, kid. If she comes back, we'll be the chosen three. And you and me, we'll be the majority." She grinned wickedly.

 

Dawn giggled.

 

The sound reminded Faith how young the other girl really was. How innocent. Faith knew that no matter how much she might resent Buffy if she did come back, they would be united by one thing. They both loved Dawn.

 

-----------------------------

 

The portal no longer seemed dark to Buffy. As it twisted its hold on her, she could see the bright lights held within. Lights that seemed neither good nor evil. She feared them anyway. They promised oblivion.

 

"Surrender," they seemed to whisper.

 

"No," was all she could manage.

 

She thought frantically of Dawn, waited for her to come. But she did not appear. Faith then, she thought, calling to the dark-haired slayer.

 

Faith arrived quickly and not in a good mood. "Buffy, you have to let us sleep. We can't help you if you destroy us."

 

Buffy felt panic fill her. Faith didn't want to stay with her, to help her. Maybe she was trying to keep Buffy in the portal. She rushed her enemy, lashed out with limbs that had no substance.

 

Faith flinched as the energy hit her. "I don't want to fight you, B."

 

Buffy didn't believe her. She attacked again and again. Faith stood mute.

 

Buffy could feel her strength failing. She retreated. "Help me."

 

"We're trying. Just hold on."

 

"Help me!" Buffy screamed as she felt the portal sense her weakness and dig farther into her energy.

 

Faith disappeared. Buffy was alone again.

 

-----------------------------

 

Giles watched Faith as she slept. He could tell she was dreaming by the small jerks and cries she gave out. He debated waking her. She was often upset and disoriented if he did. Better to let her pull herself out of the experience.

 

He studied her face. She was clearly not enjoying the dream. She had said the times with Buffy were getting worse. For both her and Dawn. Much as he loved his first slayer, he didn't want to lose the current two to her cause.

 

If they couldn't get Buffy free soon he feared they would truly lose her forever. But would that happen before she had so exhausted Dawn and Faith that they could no longer effectively patrol? He had debated calling them off the nightly hunt, but he knew what that would do to Faith, how edgy she would become. Dawn seemed to have developed the same excess energy since being called. Sitting around would do neither any good.

 

Faith had told him how the slaying had gone earlier that night, how tired Dawn had seemed. He decided that Spike, no matter how useful he was turning out to be in the research department, needed to stick close to the slayers.

 

Giles settled back down next to Faith. Even in the midst of the dream, she still reacted to his presence, pushing herself against him till there was no division between their bodies. How different she was from when this relationship had first begun. Then she had been wary, moving away from his touches with an instinctive fear. It had been slow, but she had come to trust him. She reminded him of an injured falcon he had rescued long ago as a boy. It had taken time, but eventually the bird had come to trust him. It was a bad analogy though, Giles thought ruefully. The falcon, once healed, had flown away without a backward glance. He hoped Faith would not be so quick to leave him.

 

"Unnh!" she jerked violently as she woke but did not strike out. That too had changed.

 

"Another dream?" he murmured into her ears, tightening his arm around her.

 

"Uh-huh. She's losing it, Giles." Her sleepy voice sounded somewhat sad.

 

"I know. We haven't much time. Hopefully Angel or Wesley will be able to help us with the passages Spike found."

 

She nodded, already falling back to sleep. "Angel's a good guy."

 

For a moment, he felt a pang of jealousy. He was unsure of the extent of Faith's feelings for the vampire. Then he realized how silly he was being. She was sharing his bed, not Angel's. But still he wondered if that would be the case if the curse didn't prevent Angel from indulging in certain pleasures. It doesn't matter, he told himself resolutely. The curse is fact and Faith is here.

 

Smiling at his own insecurity, he buried his head in Faith's hair and drifted off to sleep.

 

-----------------------------

 

Dawn wandered the downstairs restlessly. She was tired, exhausted really. But she didn't want to sleep. Didn't want to face Buffy, or whatever her sister was becoming.

 

The house was quiet. Willow and Tara had gone to bed hours earlier. She was glad they had moved in, enjoyed having them around and not just because of the way they tended to mother her. They were fun. But not right now. They didn't even know she was down here.

 

Spike was out or she would have gone down to the basement. He had moved in also, mostly at her insistence. She hadn't liked his living in a moldy old crypt that anyone could walk into. Inside her house, no other vampire could get him. He was safe, and she felt better having him close.

 

So much had changed for her. Physically she was a match for almost anyone, but emotionally she was still only fifteen. At times a very scared and lonely fifteen. Spike had been the only one to help her celebrate that birthday, back when they had been in training for their return to Sunnydale as slayer and watcher. He had given her the leather jacket that had been trashed earlier tonight. She hated that it was ruined because it made her feel safe. The same way that he did.

 

She sensed his presence before she heard him bounding up the front steps. "Hey," she said as he came through the door.

 

He looked at her in surprise. "What are you doing still up? And what the hell happened to you?"

 

She filled him in. Even told him how Faith had forced her to think for herself. "I'm just so tired, I totally blew it," she finished quietly.

 

He was concerned and seemed angry with himself. "I'm not letting you go out alone again. Not till this is over."

 

"But Buffy?"

 

He cut her off. "Buffy'll have my balls if I let anything happen to you. Even to get her back. I know that."

 

"Ok." She didn't want to admit it but she felt better knowing he'd be with them. Faith was back-up for now, but she was tired too. Eventually they were going to screw up, and all it would take was one mistake for something really terrible to happen.

 

Spike headed for the kitchen, reaching for one of the blood bags he had stashed in the refrigerator.

 

"So where've you been?" She asked as she watched him heat up his dinner.

 

"I decided to go pay Doc a visit."

 

Dawn's eyes widened. "Why?"

 

"Wesley called back. The bugger knew that those Latin mystery phrases I thought were significant didn't mean squat. So we're back at square one. I got to thinking about Doc, how he knew what to do up there on that platform. Didn't seem to want or need Glory. I think he has all the answers. I'm just sorry it took me this long to think of going to see him."

 

She felt a frisson of dread. Doc was more powerful than any of them knew. She had felt that when he had cut her that horrible night. He was pure evil. "You went all alone? He nearly killed you!"

 

"Simmer down, pet. He wasn't there. Landlady said he moved out months ago, I make it to be just after Buffy died."

 

Dawn remembered Buffy throwing him off the platform. But they had never found the body. In fact, no one had seen his body hit the ground. She shivered again. Then she yawned.

 

"Go to bed, Dawn."

 

"I'm ok," she protested even though she knew her eyes were drooping.

 

"You're not either." He watched her closely. "Afraid to go to sleep?"

 

She nodded. "She'll be there, wanting things from me I don't know how to give."

 

She could tell he didn't know what to say.

 

"Maybe, if you stayed with me for awhile? You know, to watch over me, wake me if you can tell I'm dreaming? Faith says Giles does that for her when she can't get away on her own?"

 

His eyes softened. "When Dru was at her weakest, I used to do the same for her. You go get ready for bed. I'll be up in a bit."

 

"Thanks." She pulled herself up the stairs, barely able to get her feet to climb. Moments later she was in her pajamas in bed, her clothes strewn on the floor.

 

He came in and pulled her desk chair over. "Go to sleep now. You're safe."

 

She smiled at him and closed her eyes. Sleep claimed her instantly. It seemed like only moments later that Buffy appeared. She was crying. And she looked less distinct than before. "Help me," she pleaded.

 

"I don't know how," Dawn answered, her heart breaking.

 

She felt herself being shaken awake.

 

"Ok, then, wake up, Niblet."

 

She realized she was crying. Grabbed for her watcher, felt him hug her close.

 

"We're losing her, Spike. We're really losing her." She felt him sigh.

 

"Don't give up yet, Dawn. Not till she's gone."

 

She didn't say anything, just sobbed. He held her until she slept, cried into exhaustion.

 

-----------------------------

 

"Is she going to be all right?" Willow whispered.

 

Tara slowly closed the door to their bedroom. They had taken Joyce's room, neither of them willing to disturb Buffy's room. At first they had thought Faith might move in, but she seemed happy at Giles'. Now they understood why. Tara wondered how she could have missed the signs of their affair. She was normally quite sensitive to those vibrations. She had known of Spike's feelings for Buffy long before the rest had found out.

 

She walked back to the bed she shared with Willow and crawled under the covers. Willow pulled her in to snuggle. Tara turned to her, "Spike's with her, and I think she's asleep."

 

Willow sighed. The sound of Dawn's crying had been heartbreaking to them both. "I feel so bad for her, Tara. She's so young, and she's had to deal with so much this year. I'm really worried."

 

"I know. Me too. But we're doing everything we can."

 

"Are we," Willow asked.

 

Tara hugged her sleepily. "Of course we are."

 

-----------------------------

 

Willow carefully moved Tara's arm and eased herself off the bed. She tiptoed across the room and pulled on some clothes, then searched through her jewelry box, finally emerging with a small talisman. She let herself out into the dark hall.

 

Spike turned to look.

 

"Can I use the basement?" she asked him. "It's for a spell."

 

"Now?"

 

She thought fast. "It's the right moon alignment to Pluto and Venus. Won't happen again for twenty years."

 

He didn't look convinced. "And you are sneaking around to do this spell why?"

 

"I'm not sneaking, I'm just trying to not wake Tara."

 

"Oh whatever, Red. Go ahead." He waved her on, turned back to Dawn.

 

Willow hurried to the bathroom and found Dawn's brush. She pulled some hairs out and stuffed them in her pocket. Stopping only to grab some candles and a lighter on the main floor, she headed to the basement and set up a circle. Lighting the candles she began the ritual. She held the talisman in her hand and as she focused on it, a chant became clear in her mind.

 

"Blessed be the name of D'Hoffryn. Let this space be now a gateway to the world of Arashmaharr where demons are spawned. We come in supplication; we bend as the reed in the flow of the river Narithe, we move to you as the tall grass in the face of the storm winds. Receive us."

 

There was a bright light and a great deal of nasty smelling smoke. Willow's eyes watered and she started to cough.

 

"Change your mind, little witch?" D'Hoffryn said hopefully. "Oh my," he said as he walked closer, "not so little anymore. You're quite the power now, aren't you? Been playing with the dark stuff too, I see."

 

She wiped at her eyes, realized once the smoke cleared that she had made it to the place D'Hoffryn had taken her before. "Oh, hi. Gosh, here I am." She saw a bench, backed up and sat down quickly. Her head was still spinning. She looked up at the demon. "And, uh, no. I haven't changed my mind."

 

He looked irritated. "You dare to bother me for something else? Do you know what I could do to you?"

 

"I'm sorry. Really. But, well, I'm working on a difficult project, you know, really advanced magically speaking and all. And no one seems to be able to help."

 

"And you thought I would? Have I led you to believe I am some kind of good guy?"

 

"Well. No. I mean if that's a bad. But you were nice in letting me go the last time. And I bet you know tons about magic, the really complicated kind."

 

"Are you trying to flatter me into helping you?"

 

"Is it working?" Willow asked hopefully.

 

He looked at her sternly, then burst into evil laughter. "You have courage, Willow. I like that." He held his hand out. "Come. Let's go someplace where we can talk more comfortably."

 

Gingerly she took his hand, allowed him to lead her through a door and into a lavishly furnished room.

 

"Wow. Great decorator."

 

He preened. "Thanks. I dabble between cases." He motioned her to a chair, took the one opposite.

 

A smaller demon came scurrying out.

 

"Tea," D'Hoffryn ordered. "Do you take milk or lemon, Willow?"

 

"Lemon. And honey."

 

"As you wish, witch woman," the demon servant replied mockingly.

 

"You'll have to excuse him. I don't get many non-business visitors. Especially human."

 

The servant was back instantly with tea for both of them.

 

Willow eyed hers with suspicion.

 

"Oh don't worry. It isn't enchanted. I was just sitting down for a cup when I heard you call." He sipped at his tea. "So what is this project you think I can help you with?"

 

Willow fished Dawn's hair from her pocket and handed it to him. "What can you tell from this?"

 

D'Hoffryn reacted as soon as he touched the hair. "Oh my. The Key. How fascinating. Good job by the way, stopping that Glory. She would have put me out of business." He closed his eyes briefly. "Interesting. The monks that formed her were quite advanced. What an intricate spell. Retro-active memories, energy made flesh, most ingenious."

 

"Are any of the monks still around? I really need to talk to them."

 

"Afraid not." He handed back the hair. "All dead. Glory got them."

 

Willow felt dejected. "Damn."

 

"Why do you need them?"

 

"I need the spell. Just the one that makes energy flesh, not the whole memory changing thing."

 

"Oh. I have that."

 

"You do? That's great. Can I...uh...have it too?"

 

"Won't do you any good without two other witches. The spell must be performed by three powerful magicians of like mind that know each other well."

 

Willow thought madly. "You wouldn't happen to know a good de-ratting spell, would you?"

 

D'Hoffryn thought. "I think there is one in the Grimoire of Caumlaud."

 

"Really? I bet the Council has that!" She felt hope surge through her. "So if I have three witches, I can do the spell?"

 

"Well," D'Hoffryn turned deadly serious. "I have to give it to you first. What do you think a gift like that would be worth?"

 

"I won't be a vengeance demon. I just can't."

 

"Oh forget that. I was thinking of something more personal."

 

"You mean...you want to...with me?" She gulped.

 

D'Hoffryn looked disgusted. "Of course not. With a human? Ick." He stood and walked over to where a state-of-the-art PC still sat in the box. She joined him. "I just bought it. Need to get with the information age. But I don't even know how to set it up, much less use it. You could give me lessons in exchange for the spell. Say once a week for a year or twice a week for six months, depending on our schedules?"

 

"Really? That's it? Computer lessons?" She launched herself at him in glee, gave him a tight hug. "You are the greatest lower being ever!"

 

"Yes, well, don't spread that around. You'll ruin my reputation."

 

Willow pulled away and noticed that D'Hoffryn was actually blushing. "I won't tell a soul."

 

The demon closed his eyes for a moment in concentration. Then he looked at his hand. Another talisman appeared. "You just set up standard circle. You'll need a few special ingredients. They're all listed here. And chant the enclosed text four times. Then say what you want."

 

"That's it?"

 

"Creating the spell was a serious accomplishment on the part of the monks. But any idiot can perform it. If they know the secrets. Find the other two witches," he handed the talisman to her, "and you're in business. Now about my computer."

 

Willow put the talisman in her pocket. "Well. There's no time like the present." She began to unpack the PC. "This is the mouse."

 

"I see no resemblance to a mouse."

 

She frowned at him. "I know, but work with me here, ok?"

 

"Very well," he sighed.

 

She started to read the specs. "You have 500 megs of RAM. Good."

 

"There is a ram too? Who invented this machine? Aesop?"

 

Willow laughed and made D'Hoffryn sit down and take notes as she led him into the 21st century.

 

-----------------------------

 

Spike had just about dozed off when Willow appeared in a puff of smoke. He sat up with a start. "Bloody hell, woman! Give me some warning next time."

 

"Sorry," her grin was decidedly not contrite.

 

"Check out Ms. Self-satisfied? Been stepping out on the little woman?"

 

Willow ignored the jibe. "I found it, Spike. I found someone that knew the spell."

 

He looked at her stupidly till he felt her words register. "You mean?"

 

"Yes!" Willow actually squealed. "We can get her back."

 

Spike felt a slow grin spread across his face. "Red, did I ever tell you that I love you?"

 

"That's in a non-stalky, shrine and robot-free way, right?"

 

"Well, yeah."

 

"Oh. Cool." She sobered suddenly. "There's just one catch. We need three witches to do the spell."

 

"So? Hire one. There must be another witch somewhere in Sunnydale."

 

"Can't be a stranger."

 

He felt his hopes sink. "So where are we going to find this witch?"

 

She pointed up. "She's probably in the habitrail even as we speak."

 

"Amy the rat really is a person? I thought that was a running gag or something."

 

"Oh, she's really human. I just haven't been able to de-rat her. Couldn't find the right spell."

 

"But now you have it?"

 

"Not exactly. We need the Grimoire of Caumlaud. It has a spell that should work according to my source. But I've never seen it in Giles' collection. I was thinking the Watcher's Council might have it."

 

"How likely will they be to share it if they do have it? Buffy gave them nothing but trouble. They might think they are lucky to be shed of her. And they certainly won't give it to me. I'm hardly welcome there even if I am Dawn's watcher."

 

Willow smiled. "Maybe Giles needs a trip back to Mother England? Renew old ties, see old friends..."

 

"Steal old books," Spike finished for her.

 

"I might have been thinking along those lines."

 

Spike shook his head. "It's a good idea, but we don't have the time. Dawn thinks that Buffy will slip away soon."

 

"Right." She sighed heavily.

 

"Let's go call Giles," Spike suggested as he pushed himself out of his chair with a groan.

 

They hurried upstairs and called the other watcher. Willow explained quickly what had transpired. "So we just need this Grimoire or really just the de-ratting spell. And we thought you could go to England but there isn't time."

 

"They could fax it," Giles said.

 

Spike leaned into the speakerphone, "Not going to just hand it over no questions asked, are they?"

 

"Well the Council might not. But the Council librarian is another thing entirely."

 

Spike could hear the satisfaction in Giles' voice. "I take it you know this bloke?"

 

"The bloke's a she. And yes, we were close once. Quite close."

 

"And she still remembers you fondly, I hope?" Willow asked.

 

"She does. Her husband may be another matter."

 

Spike laughed. "There are a lot of things we don't know about you, aren't there?"

 

"Oh, I daresay. You two stay close to the phone."

 

"Should we tell the others?" Willow asked.

 

"Not yet. I don't want to get their hopes up if this is just another false lead."

 

"Right," Spike agreed. "But if it's not, Red here may have found the way to bring Buffy back."

 

"Indeed she may have. Well done, Willow. Although it was a terrible risk. I can't believe that this demon won't want something in return. I fear you've strayed again onto the dark road."

 

"Yes, Giles, a Mac user might agree with you." She giggled.

 

Spike stared at her. He didn't get it. Neither did Giles, judging from the complete silence on the other end of the line.

 

"Jeez, guys. I'm giving him computer lessons. He just got a PC. You know. PC versus Mac. Get it?"

 

"Let it go, Red," Spike urged.

 

"Fine," she grumbled.

 

"Right then. I'm going to call Rosalind. If I get anything I'll call." Giles hung up.

 

Willow reached down and broke the connection from their end. "So what do we do now?"

 

Spike frowned, already impatient. "We wait."

 

"We wait," she repeated.

 

As one, they both stared down at the phone, willing it to ring.

 

-----------------------------

 

In the portal it was nearly impossible to know where she ended and the rest of the energy began, and Buffy realized, even as she tried to increase her grasp on her identity, that this was the last round of her fight.

 

Faith had said they were trying to help her. She hoped they'd find a way soon because she didn't have much time left before the call of the portal would be too strong to resist.

 

Already it was sweet, filling her with its seduction. "Surrender," it purred.

 

"In a minute," she replied tiredly.

 

 

FIN

 

Continue on to Part 4 - Rebirth