Act Three


Buffy paced the room. "But I was so close. I do the slaying. I do the staking. Vampires do not stake themselves on my watch!"

Xander watched with quiet empathy: the knuckles clenched in frustration, the mindless babbling... the anger.

After a beat he put down his coffee and walked over to her, putting his hands on her shoulders.

"We'll find him, Buffy. I know it's crazy-making. And God, I can't believe Drusilla is in town... this town, of all towns, but we'll get him back, I promise. We aren't going to lose any more. No more."

"No more," Willow repeated from across the room, exchanging looks with Buffy at the distinct wobble in his voice, as the former moved toward her and Xander melted away again.

"You guys have to try the location spell again. Please, Will? You have to. I've gotta find him. This town isn't that big. I've searched everywhere... short of house-to-house. And if we don't find him soon, that's going to become a serious option."

Jo, who'd been sitting quietly on the sofa since Buffy had brought the news, finally came forward.

"I don't think Willow should do the spell again. It's failed twice without cause. Magick isn't to be toyed with, and when it speaks it must be listened to."

Buffy's eyes flashed with anger, mixed with frustration and hurt. "We don't have time to worry about hurting the magick's feelings!" she snapped. "We're talking about Drusilla, here. He could be dead already... or in I don't know how many pieces..." Her voice became very small. "Or-or his fingers could be all broken... again."

"If the spell fails again someone might get seriously hurt this time," the older woman insisted.

"Don't you get it? We're talking 'undead, sadistic psycho-bitch' here. Giles might already be seriously hurt, or even DEAD!" Buffy's eyes widened when she realized what she was saying and swung around to reassure Dawn. Her seat was empty.

"Where's Dawn?"

They all looked around. Dawn and Xander were both missing.

"Maybe Xander took Dawn away from the arguing?" Willow offered, spreading out her senses. Then she frowned. "No!" she cried suddenly.

They all rushed after her as she tore through the house to the dining room. They were a few seconds too late.

Xander looked up as the powder settled. "Hey guys."

Willow looked outraged and Buffy frowned at the strong indication of something on Xander's improvised map.

"What's in that block?"

Jo looked down and frowned as she placed the area of town now lit up on the diagram. "That has to be close to the Sawmill Shopping Center, out on Highway 227. There's a gas station somewhere there, and..." She pointed. "Right there, I think, is the White Wolf Lodge."

"The crappy motel on the edge of town? Drusilla is in a motel? I don't think so." Willow glared when everyone looked taken-aback at her outburst. "Well... this is Drusilla... she who is all 'grrr!' and 'arghh!' and seriously deranged, not to mention kinda un-dead," she added pointedly. "I mean..."

"You think it's another false alarm?" Xander guessed, forestalling Dawn, who was looking thunderous, and to whom he wanted to draw as little attention as possible. Buffy was likely to kill both of them when she had time to figure out who set up the spell for him.

"Looks like," Willow confirmed.

Buffy couldn't decide if the edge in the witch's voice was disappointment or pique.

"Well, it can't be any worse than wearing a Saint Bernard's tongue as a scarf," she snorted, making a decision. "I'm going to check it out."

Xander stepped in front of her. "I'm coming with you." Their gazes met, and held, in standoff.

"I'm coming too," Willow's voice, back to its old self now, broke the tense silence. "Jo can stay with Dawn."

"Hey, I'm...!"

"NO, YOU'RE NOT!" Three voices yelled back in perfect unison.

Despite the fear in her eyes, Dawn scowled as they turned without her, and folded her arms petulantly.

"I do hope they haven't made things worse," Jo said softly as the door slammed behind them.

Nothing Giles had tried had made any impression on his bonds. The pain of the rope burns, he simply endured. He was damp, but drying, the ends of his hair curling and his shirt stuck to his body, but he hadn't noticed.

Drusilla had delayed her meal long enough to send the quilled demon out to patrol the area and to guard the door.

Giles watched her move toward him, well aware that once she started feeding she was highly unlikely to remember to stop, regardless of any other agenda. The only hope he had was how easily her attention was diverted to other things. 'Now, there was a thing...'

"Why did you leave Spike?"

Drusilla stopped. "What?"

He sighed an inward sigh of relief, at least momentarily. "You said this was all about Spike; that you miss Spike. So why leave him in the first place?"

Her features screwed up in a childish pout. "It was her fault. She made him all... not Spike anymore. He was awful after Sunnydale didn't go poof... such a big sulky-puss. I didn't like him at all... saying sweet things to me and all the time it's her instead of me, and him not even knowing it. Made my eyes hurt... made me sad. So I left."

"But you took him back?" Giles added quickly as she started to move again.

The smile was like that of child remembering a treat. "He wanted to be my Spike again. He was so exciting... all bad and sexy. He brought me so many presents... it was such fun... but not nearly as much fun as when he..." She grinned mischievously. "But that's my little secret. I'm not telling." Her head tilted to one side. "What about your little secret, Watcher...?"

A divot of puzzlement appeared between his damp brows. "W-Which one?" He asked.

Drusilla's eyes flashed gleefully, hunger forgotten for the time being. She'd found a new game. "The pretty Watcher has lots of secrets, does he? Lots and lots... and even some he doesn't know he has."

"I-I could tell you about Eyghon," he offered, looking for further distraction... any distraction.

She rolled her eyes. "Him? Nasty little show-off. Uh-uh. Tell me about her. I want to know all about her."

Giles closed his eyes, offering up a silent apology. Then he began with the moment he first saw her and continued through the battle against the Master, Monster Trucks and Eyghon, all the way up to the crossbow bolt in his buttock, before Drusilla snapped out of the daze she'd lapsed into.

"Not her," she objected pettishly. "Tell me about... her."

He looked confused for a moment, then his thoughts unaccountably lapsed into a series of flashes, or glimpses, of thoughts and memories... except they were things he couldn't remember ever really happening. Voices changing... touching... scents switching in and out; spun gold and grey green eyes tarnishing to silky black and brown; elation replaced by despair, joy by terrible sadness; faces fading and being replaced by others... and yet always there was... Drusilla.

"Oh... my... God," he whispered.

Drusilla clapped her hands. "He knows," she crowed. "He knows." She paused mid-clap, as though listening to something, then smiled evilly. "Oh goody. It's time..."


Act Two   Act Four

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