History, the Future, and Everything in Between
Dalthezar's codex had nothing to say regarding the current location of the compass. However, it did indeed contain it's history. Or at least a reasonable facsimile.
The compass was, for lack of a better term, created by an unknown seaman, and was to be used for used for the finding of more direct trade routes. Mundane, you say? And if you were to disregard the fact this sailor had sacrificed what he most desired in order to create this device, then you'd be right.
The sailor had only wanted to shorten his time at sea, so he could spend more time with his beloved. He prayed for a way to do this, and was answered with the compass. The compass, he found, did not point north, but to where he most wanted to go. He thanked his gods for their kindness and generosity.
He needn't have bothered.
You see, his prayers were not answered by his gods, for gods do not cater to the whims of mortals. At least, not the ones he worshipped. No, his prayers were heard by another. A being older than any deity, creature, or demon. This being heard his prayer, felt the desire in it, and was amused. The being consulted with It's dark twin and together, they created his compass.
The being, Desire, gifted the mortal with what he wanted. It's dark twin, Despair, devised the price.
In one fell night, the sailor gained a way to find what he wanted most, only to lose it forever. The sailor returned home and discovered his beloved in the arms of another. He killed them both in a crime of passion. The law saw his love's sins and found him to be in the right. There would be no repercussions. The sailor was free to return to the sea, the only love remaining to him.
But he could not bring himself to leave their house. Every night, the man dreamed of his beloved's face. He would see her pleasing smile, the lovely curves of her flesh. And every morning, he would awaken to feel the agonizing loss her absence from their bed caused. He understood that it was he who cost him his love, that it was his long voyages what drove her into the arms of another man, and he knew that he could've forgiven her had he not been so passionate.
The man looked into his wife's mirror and felt despair ensnare his heart.
He died. After twenty long years of anguish and grief, only then did his end come. His possessions were claimed by his government and sold. Thus, the compass came into the ownership of another. A young tinkerer who purchased it, for a criminally small amount given what it does, with the hopes of repairing it, and selling it for a profit. And he did profit, though perhaps not in the way he imagined.
Once he realized it's true function, the tinkerer followed it to his heart's desire, a woman, and claimed her as his own. Together, they raised a large family and the tinkerer died a happy man. The compass, along with all his worldly goods, were passed on to his eldest son.
This son, who dreamed of a life on the sea, knew the function of the compass well, for the story of how his parents met was told to him many times. Once he settled his family's affairs, he kissed his sisters goodbye, shook the hands of his brothers, opened the compass, and left.
We do not know what became of him, only that the compass resurfaced a hundred years later in Europe. It was found by a king. Or it was brought to him. At any rate, the compass was his. This king was stupid and believed the compass to be a prophet of sorts. He ignored the responsibilities of his station, and followed his heart's desires.
When the compass lead to the edge of his kingdom, the king dismissed his entourage, disrobed, and crossed his border. Alone and disguised, the king was pleased. (For he thought he was being clever. After all, who would hurt a beggar?) He journeyed for two days, and was promptly killed by bandits. (That's who.) The bandits used the compass to amass a great fortune, and a large amount of enemies. The leader of the bandits was no fool. He spoke to no-one, not even his trusted lieutenants about this compass.
He may not have been a fool, but he was terribly vain. It vexed him that his greatest treasure would be unknown. The leader thought on it for a time, then came to an obvious conclusion. He would chronicle his exploits! He would tell of his rise to power, of the arrival of the compass that had become his emblem, and how his bandits would reign forever! Once the tale was written, he hid the tome in a secret place, only to be read by his descendants.
His enemies, in order to learn how he became so powerful, sent to him a spy in the form of a concubine. This concubine-spy was favored by the bandit leader for her beauty and insatiable lust. What he didn't know was, every night after she tired him out, she would go through his things and report back to her masters on what was discovered.
One night, she found the chronicles and read them. Through this, she learned of the compass's strange gift and coveted it for herself. She stayed with the bandit leader in defiance of her masters. The concubine, now no longer spy, searched for the compass, instead of secrets, each night. Eventually she found it, though by then it had become too late. The concubine's belly grew fat with the bandit leader's child. There were two options left to her. Leave with the treasure she searched so hard for, and risk her child's life. Or stay, and be assured the child would have the protection of an entire band of loyal thieves. And loyal they were, for their leader had made them all rich. The concubine considered the life inside her, and stayed. Besides, her new husband was pleasing to look at and excellent in bed.
The child was born a girl, and the bandit leader rejoiced. Though not a proper heir, she was his. The child was trained in her parents arts. She learned of thievery from her father, and how to manipulate men from her mother. The child grew into a striking woman, one who had earned the respect and admiration of many of her father's men. She had no brothers, and so when it came time for Death to claim her father, it fell to her to lead the bandits.
Her mother gave her guidance, and when she discovered the compass for herself, she turned to her. Her advice was simple. Use the compass, or do not. When she asked what she should do with it, her mother told the story of how she came to meet her father. The daughter was shocked of course, and asked why she had disobeyed her former masters. Her mother smiled, and took the compass in her hands. The needle swiveled north. The mother already had what she wanted and, for her, the compass was just a compass.
The daughter took back her inheritance, and the needle swiveled elsewhere. At least once a day, she opened the device and stared at it. Finally, after many weeks of deliberation, she announced she would leave her bandits, and appointed her most trusted friend to succeed her. She had one last drink with the men, bade her mother goodbye, opened the compass, and left.
In her travels, she met many people. People she could trust, people she could hate, and even people she could love. And yet, no matter where she stopped, nor with whom, after a time the compass would always change it's direction. The woman wracked her mind with the oddness of it all. For her father, it showed him where there were treasures. For her mother, it showed north because she was content and desired nothing truly. But for her...?
The woman traveled for seven years before she came to an understanding. The compass kept changing it's direction for her, because she wanted to always see new things, new people. The woman watched as the sun rose, and felt peace. She didn't need the compass, not anymore. She climbed a high mountain, and flung the device as far as she could.
Willow stopped reading, and closed the book. Xander was rubbing his chin, and Buffy blinked in surprise.
"That's it?" she asked. "What happened next?"
Willow smiled. "It's not a story Buffy. At least, not the kind with an ending." With that, the witch got up and grabbed a bottle of water.
Buffy shook her head. "I thought the book was supposed to help us find the compass, right?" She asked Xander.
He shrugged unhelpfully. "That's what Lorne said."
"So shouldn't there be more stuff about it in there?" She gestured to the book.
Willow sat down and gave her friend a patient look. "There is. I just wanted something to drink. All this talking is making my throat hurt."
Buffy blushed. "Oh."
Willow sipped her beverage, opened the book, and continued.
It is uncertain what happened to Desire's compass immediately after that. We only know it wasn't destroyed, for it reappeared in the hands of a demon some sixty years later. The demon was an angry, stupid, and belligerent beast, and could not understand the subtleties of such a tool. Through this creature though, the compass came to it's most famous master.
A band of Vatican supported demon hunters killed that demon and brought it's possessions to a remote church for cleansing. If the hunters ever discovered the compass's true ability, they never spoke of it. The compass was left at the church, where it stayed for over a century.
Until the pirate, Jack Sparrow.
Young Sparrow was on the run from the Queen's army, and took up the robes of a vicar to disguise himself. Needless to say, he made a very poor one. The oft-drunk Jack was being chased by the town's people, (It was something to do with the taking advantage of young ladies and the disappearance of much of the town's shiny valuables.) when he escaped to a distant and isolated church, seeking sanctuary.
The kind vicar, recognizing, not the future pirate, but his robes instead, gave him the protection he sought. There Sparrow stayed for a fortnight in what might possibly be the dullest time he's ever endured. His suffering bore fruit however, when he laid eyes upon the compass.
Having read the chronicles of the bandit leader, Jack knew what it was he was looking at. A compass that pointed, not north, but to your heart's desire. He inquired after it, wondering how such a wonder arrived at so innocuous a church. Unfortunately, any records were destroyed, and myth and legend replaced them. (Had he the foresight, or inclination to do so, he might have asked Rome, as the Vatican supported demon hunters reported directly to them, and their records were slightly better than a distant and isolated church's.)
When he felt enough time had passed, Jack took the compass and stole away into the night. He opened it up, and followed the needle towards his destiny. Much like the bandit leader, Jack used the compass to attain a small fortune. Fortune enough to purchase a ship. (We say he purchased a ship, and that may be true from a certain perspective, but the former owners felt otherwise. If you were to ask Jack, he would tell you the trade was fair and it wasn't his fault they didn't like pigs.)
With his new ship, the Black Pearl, Jack was able to introduce himself as "Captain", and he was free. Free to go where he liked, do what he wished, and all of it away from the Queen's oppressive rule! This is what the compass promised him, truly, for while aboard his ship, it pointed north. Unless he was after a treasure of course.
But alas, it was a freedom that was all too short. He got careless. Impossible to believe I'm sure, but it's true. Captain Jack Sparrow became an arrogant braggart, completely confident of his ability to overcome, and out run, any vessel in the ocean. His conceit lost him his ship. It was sunk after a battle with the Royal Navy. He was rescued by an East India Co. ship and, when he attempted to commandeer it, was branded as a pirate and tossed overboard.
It is unclear what happened next. Legend purports Captain Sparrow tamed a large fish and convinced it to ferry him towards land. Other theorize he crafted a small raft out of the remains of his ship and the corpses of his fellows, then sailed it to safety.
Regardless, Captain Jack Sparrow survived the sinking of his ship and made it to land. There he "acquired" a seaworthy vessel and set out after the only being on earth that could help him get his ship back.
Davy Jones, captain of the feared Flying Dutchman.
Using his compass, Captain Sparrow found the mythical seaman and secured an agreement. Davy Jones then resurrected the Black Pearl from the depths of his locker. With his ship back, he again set sail upon the seas he did so love.
But alas, this borrowed time with the Pearl was all too short. His first officer, one Hector Barbossa, encouraged the crew to mutiny, and stranded the poor Captain Sparrow on an island.
It is unclear what happened next. Some say he roped together two sea-turtles and rode them home, others believed he was able to build a small craft out of wood from trees on the island and wove a sail out of leaves to sail to land.
Regardless, Captain Sparrow escaped the island and made it to land. There, with the aid of one William Turner, and one Elizabeth Swan, he recaptured the Pearl and was again it's captain.
Until he welched on his deal with Davy Jones and was eaten by the kraken, his ship along with him.
It is unclear what happened next. Some say there was a fantastic voyage to the end of the world to rescue he and the Pearl from Davy Jones' locker, other never believed a kraken existed at all, and therefore, Captain Sparrow was making it all up.
Regardless, Captain Sparrow resurfaced, only to lose control of his ship once more. It was again taken by Barbossa.
This time however, Sparrow had decided against pursuit of the Black Pearl. Perhaps he no longer considered her worth the risk, perhaps he felt he would get her back in time, we don't know.
What we do know is this; Sparrow went to Florida. There he used his remarkable compass to search for the Spring of Life. And there is where Sparrow's trail ends, and we will hear no more of him.
"What?" Buffy exclaimed in mild outrage. "That can't be it! We already checked out Florida, and all we found were, like, monster-sized snakes!"
Xander chuckled, remember Buffy's reaction to those snakes.
Willow sighed. "True, that's all we hear of Captain Jack, but there's more about the compass."
Buffy blushed. "Oh."
Willow primly sipped her water, then continued.
No definitive sightings of the compass were ever reported again.
"Ha!" Buffy cried triumphantly. Willow stared at her flatly, then stood up to get some advil. Xander gave her a look. "What?" She asked him defensively.
"Nuh-uh. There was definitely something to that look." She decided.
"It's just, ever since we called Conner back, you've been pissy."
She glanced around to see if Willow was in earshot.
"Conner said he was the Destroyer. That demon from the shop said the Destroyer killed something that might know about a weird vampire that may have a soul. And we're going to be talking to him about it!"
"Yeah," Xander said sarcastically, "I can see why that might make you upset."
"I just... need answers, that's all." Buffy hugged herself.
Xander scooted over and put his arm around her comfortingly. "Don't worry Buff, you'll get em. Even if I have to get shot by every demon in town."
She barked a laugh and poked him in the ribs. "Oh don't even joke."
He winced. "Y'know, nails make very good stabbing weapons. Have you ever noticed that?"
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Please, I didn't even put any slayer-strength into it."
"For which I am eternally grateful." He offered sincerely.
Willow sat down and heard the last bit. "Why are you grateful?" She asked.
"Because Buffy didn't impale me with her finger." Xander said while Buffy helpfully displayed her digit to Will in case she didn't know what a finger was.
Willow rubbed the sides of her head and prayed the advil worked quickly.
"Are you okay?" Xander asked, noticing Willow's discomfort.
She waved off his concern. "I'm fine. Just a little headache-y, y'know?"
"If you want, we can finish this up later?" Buffy suggested.
"Yeah, me and the Buffinater can go get our mealing on while you rest up."
The girls gave him a weird look. "Mealing?" Willow asked.
"Yeah, "mealing'." He defended. They rolled their eyes at him, causing Xander to rage on. "Hey, it's not any dumber than half the crap you guys come up with, Miss Adds-a-y-at-the-end-of-everything." Buffy chuckled and Xander glared at her. "Let's not talk, Miss Can-never-ever-pronounce-anything-right!"
The angry Scooby folded his arms and turned his nose up at his friends.
"We're sorry." Buffy said, obviously trying not to laugh.
"Yeah," Willow agreed, pretty much trying not to either. "Mealing is a good word."
Xander was slightly mollified. "Okay, fine. But don't let it happen again. I have the same right as every American citizen; to brutalize the english language as I see fit. Giles said so!"
"Of course you do." Willow said seriously. "I'm sure Giles thinks you brutalize that english the best out of everybody."
Buffy nodded enthusiastically.
"Oh now you're just patronizing me." Xander pouted.
That was the last straw. The girls saw his little-pouty face and laughed uproariously.
Inwardly, Xander was grinning. If he could only bottle that sound, he'd make a billion bucks. Nothing was better than the sound of his girls laughing.
Once Willow had recovered enough to continue, (It was tough, as Xander kept making huffy noises.) she told them what else Dalthezar's codex had to say. Unfortunately, once they got past Sparrow's bit, there wasn't too much else. There was an engraving of the compass, and it mentions some rumors, but that was it.
Willow divvied up the rumors amongst the three of them for researching. Buffy would check out the internet, Xander would make the calls, and Willow would use the data base.
After a few hours, Buffy found something interesting. One of the rumors mentioned the compass might've turned up in the private collection of a now dead rich guy. After he died, his collection was said to have been donated to a museum. Buffy was currently looking at the museum's current exhibits.
On the website, the museum boasts an exceptionally large collection of interesting historical artifacts. Interesting as in mystical, that is. Buffy perused the museums online photographic data base. Lo and behold, there it was!
"Guys! I found it!" She exclaimed ecstatically. Willow and Xander rushed over and looked over her shoulder. "Who rocks?" She asked smugly.
"Oh, totally you!" Willow said happily once she saw the photograph.
"Yeah, but it's in a museum." Xander pointed out. "We can't exactly go and steal it, can we?"
The girls visibly deflated. They hadn't thought of that.
Willow went back to her computer and went to the website. She wanted to learn more about the museum itself before giving up all hope. Maybe Giles would be able to convince them to sell it to the Council, or better yet, trade it for one of the more harmless artifacts in the vaults.
Meanwhile, Buffy went off to meet with Conner to ask him about the sorcerer he killed. He didn't have any idea what the the sorcerer might've known. The young man admitted they only fought because the guy was trying to sacrifice a baby. He did investigate further though, and found out the sorcerer belonged to a cult that worshipped Rangda: Demon Queen, Child-Eater. Maybe this odd vampire had a vendetta or, at least, an interest in them. The detective promised he'd do more research, and when he found something, he'd let her know. Buffy promised the same.
By the time she returned to the hotel, Willow found out who ran the museum. An entrepreneur by the name of Henry van Statten. Willow recognized the name. He was the broadband guy! Holy crap, was he rich! They probably wouldn't be able to buy the compass off of him, but they might still be able to trade. She dug deeper, wanting to find out if this man had a personal collection as well as the public museum. The hacker/witch encountered some seriously devious firewalls. They were even worse than the ones from the Pentagon!
Willow furrowed her brow, and used her magic to dig deeper.
"Oh my God!" She shouted once she was in.
"What?" Xander asked, alarmed.
"The stuff this guy has, it's... it's impossible!"
Buffy frowned. "What do you mean?"
Willow shook her head. "I can't get my head around it. It's too much."
"Will, what is it? You're giving me a wig here." Xander told her.
"He's... He's got stuff. Alien stuff." Willow said faintly.
"WHAT?" Buffy and Xander simultaneously blurted, right before they rushed over to her.
Xander read the inventory list on the screen. "What the hell is a Slitheen?"
"Sounds demon-y." Buffy noted.
"Sure." Willow conceded, "But what about "Robotic head"? That doesn't sound so demonic, does it?"
Xander shrugged. "Maybe it's from Moloch, or Warren?"
Willow glowered. Both those names had unpleasant associations. "You aren't looking at it Xander." She said testily. "I am. It's nothing like we've seen. And there're other stuff too."
Buffy read the list. "Like a "Tandarian Solar Device"? What's that?" She asked Willow.
She shrugged. "No clue."
"What about the "Zatnickletell?" He frowned, trying to muscle his way through the odd word.
"Still no clue." Willow said.
"Yeah, but you brought up the list. Doesn't it give a description?" Xander asked.
"Item number 6582. The Telebiogenisis Conductor: Found in Hinesville, Georgia in 1998."
"What?" Buffy asked, confused.
"That's all they say. It's just a name, and where and when they were found. So stop asking me about them!" Willow demanded a little harshly. She just found out there's definitely life on other planets, so it's kinda forgivable.
A few minutes went by before anyone said anything else.
Willow disconnected herself from the computer, shuddering. "Oh god." She whispered.
"What?" Buffy asked quietly, unsure if she wanted to know the answer.
"He's got a bunch of stuff that's on the Council's black list."
That got Xander's attention. "How much stuff?"
"Only almost all of whatever isn't in the vaults right now."
Xander sat down limply. "Save me Jebus."
"Okay, is the black list what I think it is?" Buffy asked, again not wanting to know the answer.
"Do you think it's a list of all the world ending and ridiculously powerful and dangerous items still not safely contained or destroyed?" Willow questioned. Buffy nodded. "Congratulations Buffy, you're right."
"Go me." She sighed unhappily.
There was really only one thing for it. If Henry van Statten understood, or at least knew something about everything in his private collection, then it was reasonable to believe he also knew what they were for. It was highly unlikely that van Statten had anything nefarious planned,(As the world had yet to end do to the release of the Hate of the Nephilim, or the activation of the Doomstone, and he hasn't dominated the will of others using the absurdly named, though powerful, Willwand.) but the Watcher's Council just couldn't take that chance.
Xander called Giles to report on what they've discovered and to see what they could do about it. After careful deliberation, it was decided to forgo any form of negotiations and confiscate any and all dangerous magical items. Giles went through the proper channels and informed the American government of their plans. The government agreed, and gave the Council it's full cooperation. They would help the best way they could. By staying out of it.
With everything ready, the gang headed off to Utah, where Willow began probing the bunker underneath the van Statten museum to see what kind of magical defenses there were.
While Willow was doing that, Xander took Buffy aside.
"What's up?" He asked her. She'd been forlorn and distant ever since leaving Los Angeles.
Buffy sighed. "I just thought..." She trailed off.
"You just thought once you talked to Conner about that weird vamp, you'd be another step closer to Angel." Xander correctly finished.
Buffy nodded. "Yeah. Stupid, huh?"
He shrugged. "Not really. Don't worry, we'll find him."
"How do you know?"
Xander smiled at her warmly. "I don't. But I do know his chances are pretty good."
"Really." She said flatly. "Do tell."
"He's got you on his side."
Buffy blinked. "Oh. My. God. That has to be the sappiest thing I've ever heard a real person say."
He shrugged again. "I guess I left all my A material back in the hotel."
She rolled her eyes at him, but as they walked back to Willow, she didn't seem to be in as bad a mood as before. He decided it counted it as a victory.
After a few moments, Willow got a strange look on her face. She ceased her probing and frowned.
"Nothing." She said. "There's nothing."
"What do you mean?" Buffy asked.
"There's no magical defenses of any kind. I could just teleport us in, and out, before they even knew about it."
Xander and Buffy exchanged surprised glances.
"I don't get it." Xander said. "How can this guy have all this dangerous stuff, and not have protection?"
Buffy's eyes widened in horrified realization. "He doesn't know." She whispered.
"What?" Willow asked.
"This guy has no idea what the hell he's got!" Buffy said franticly. "He has no idea how dangerous those things are!"
Willow stared at her disbelief. "No. No way! He's got to know about magic! Why else would he even have any mystical stuff?"
"Maybe he doesn't think they are mystical." Xander said. "Think about it. The guy's got a whole bunker full of alien tech. Technology. Science. How could he believe in magic? He probably thinks they're just artifacts. Sure, they're a little weirder looking, and their names are kinda funny, but who cares? They're valuable!"
Willow shook her head. "No. I know science and magic."
"Yeah, but you also lived on a hellmouth for sixteen years, and didn't know anything about the supernatural until Buffy showed up." Xander pointed out.
Willow blanched. "Oh my god. It's like a kid with his hand over the button!"
The gang decided they had to go in now. Xander called Giles to inform him of their suspicions. Needless to say, he was terribly disturbed at the thought. Though he didn't approve of the fact the Scoobies wanted to head in without backup, he certainly understood why.
The easiest way into the complex, was through the front door of the museum. Once inside, Willow would be able to cloak them. All they would have to do, is wait until a person with the proper clearance used the elevator that would bring them down to the lower levels. Despite the difficulty of cloaking three adults for an unknown period of time, Willow decided it would be safer than teleporting into a place she'd never been in. When they got to where all the dangerous magic stuff was, it would be a simple matter of looting the place. Willow would erect a shield while Buffy and Xander shoved everything into a couple of bags. Inelegant yes, but it would work. Most of the items would only activate after a ritual of some kind. As for the ones that worked by touch, or commands, well that's what smashing is for. Once they secured everything, Willow would teleport them out.
Simple right? Of course it didn't go anywhere near like that.
While they were walking in the museum, Buffy saw the compass. It wasn't even enclosed in glass. It was just sitting in a display with a bunch of other pirate stuff. She beckoned Willow to over to her side.
"We should take it." Buffy told her.
"That's stealing!" Willow whispered. Buffy gave her a look. "Which, okay, is what we're here to do. But the stuff we're after is dangerous. The compass isn't. It would be wrong to just take it cuz we want it." Buffy continued to give her a look. Willow sighed. "You're gonna steal it even without my help, aren't you?"
Buffy nodded cheerfully. Willow sighed again, then concentrated hard. "Okay. The security's blocked." Buffy looked around in a sad attempt at covert, then reached into the display and snatched the compass. She smiled happily at it for all of two seconds before the alarms went off.
"I thought you said you blocked the security!" Buffy screeched.
Xander came running in. "What the heck?" He saw what Buffy was holding. "Hey, is that the compass?" He looked, from the compass, to the display, and back. "Nuts."
Willow initiated her cloak, and the Scoobies hightailed it out of the room.
"You just had to have that thing, didn't you?" Xander snarked at Buffy once they made it into the elevator.
"Yes! Yes I did! This thing's going to help me find Angel!" She retorted.
Willow completely lost her concentration and the cloak slipped. "What? Angel? What's he got to do with anything?"
Buffy turned to answer her, but the elevator doors opened and she was distracted by a bunch of weapons being pointed at her.
The Scoobies looked at each other, then back to the weapons.
"Um, oops again?"
"Put your hands on your heads and exit the elevator!" One of the guards demanded. They did. "Now, get down on your knees!"
"Hey! Just what kind of girl do you think I am!" Buffy asked in mock outrage while taking stock of the guards and their weapons. There were six of them, each armed with an automatic rifle of some kind.
The guard blushed beet read. "Sh...shut up!"
Xander smirked. "Aw, look at that Buff, you got an admirer."
Willow beamed. "That's so cute!"
The guards were loosing their patience, and cocked their rifles. "If you don't shut the hell up right now, I'll shoot you in your pretty long legs." The leader told Buffy, getting in her face.
Buffy smiled a truly unpleasant smile.
Suddenly, the Slayer grabbed the assault rifle from his hands and ripped it off of the shoulder strap, dislocating the man's shoulder. She used the butt of it to knock him senseless.
Before any of the other guards could react, Xander tackled another, taking him down and claiming the rifle as his own.
Willow chanted, and then the weapons were too hot to handle. Buffy and Xander, along with all the guards, dropped the now scalding guns.
Buffy shrugged. "Never liked those things anyway." She cracked her knuckles and smiled prettily. "I prefer the melee."
Xander came out of nowhere and slugged one of the guards, knocking him right out. Buffy took care of the rest. They went down, and it was all over.
Except for the clapping that is.
"Bravo. Those were my best men." A man with a thick southern accent complimented. "So, who the hell are you kids?" He asked jovially. "I ain't ever seen any girl move as fast as you did, Blondie."
Buffy folded her arms. "Mr. van Statten, I presume."
"At your service."
Xander grinned. "Well in that case. Why don't you lead us to your dangerous magical artifacts, and we'll be on our way?"
Van Statten laughed heartily. "Oh that's funny son. Damned funny. I like you."
Willow raised her hand. "Mr. van Statten?" She asked.
"What can I do for you honey?"
She scowled. "Well first of all, you could not call me that. And second, I just wanted to know if you understood exactly what it was you have collected five doors down on the right."
The older man's face darkened. "I imagine I understand more than you. Honey."
Xander snorted in amusement.
Willow bristled. "This is getting boring."
"Gotta agree with you there." Buffy admitted before shooting forwards.
Henry van Statten never even knew what hit him. Our three heroes stepped over his unconscious body, and headed down the hall.
"Well, he was an ass." Xander commented. "Doesn't make me feel so guilty about stealing from him."
"I know!" Willow gushed. "Did you hear him call me "honey"? Even after I told him not too? And what was calling Buffy "Blondie" all about anyway? Do people even talk like that anymore?"
"Asses do." Xander pointed out.
"Yeah! That ass!"
Buffy grinned at the familiar banter. This was really, really, fun. More fun than Dawn and the zombies!
The gang stopped in front of the room Willow said the artifacts were in. Buffy tried the door, but it was locked. Xander pulled out a lock-picking set, but Buffy just rolled her eyes and kicked the door in.
"Well sure, if you wanna do it the loud way." He sneered.
Before they could take another step however, a noise reverberated throughout the corridor.
Buffy and Xander whirled around, looking for the source.
Willow grimaced. "My tummy hurts." she told them before keeling over.
"Oh God!" Xander caught her before she could hit the ground. "Willow!"
Buffy stared down in horror as Willow's blood leaked from a hole in her side.
A troop of guards came rushing towards them. They aimed their weapons at Buffy and Xander and demanded they surrender.
Xander ignored them as he kept repeating "Oh God! Oh no!" over and over and in various ways.
Buffy screamed. It was an inarticulate, hateful sound, and one that promised pain for hurting her friend. The guards never even had a chance to fire another shot. Buffy was on them faster than the human eye could track, and fist that were meant to fight demons, rained down upon men with all the fury and force of a hurricane.
When it was done, the men were dead, and The Slayer stood alone.
Buffy looked down at her broken foes, and chocked back a sob. She didn't mean to kill them. It's just... Willow was hurt and they shot her and she had to stop them from shooting again so she jumped in and she.... she...
She needed to get a grip! It wasn't like this was the first time! When the Knights of Byzantium attacked, Buffy was willing to, and did, kill to protect Dawn.
Buffy Summers forced down her feelings of guilt, and ran over to check on her friend.
"Willow!" She cried, kneeling next to her. The red-head opened her bleary eyes. "Oh God, Will!"
Willow looked down at her bloody side and let out a delirious little giggle. "It's kinda odd. And painful."
Xander picked gently picked her up. "We gotta go. I guarantee they weren't the last of them." He said, nodding to the deceased guards.
"Which way?" Buffy asked him.
"Well, the guards came from that way, so let's go the other." She nodded, and led the way.
They didn't get too far when Xander stopped. Willow passed out, and he needed a place to staunch the blood. Buffy kicked in a door and pushed some stuff off of a table.
"Will this do?" She asked.
"Watch the door, would ya?" He asked in leu of answering. Xander pulled out his pocket knife and cut of the cloth surrounding Willow's wound. He hissed. The bullet definitely penetrated. "God Will." He whispered. "We sure screwed all the pooches today, didn't we?"
"How is she?" Buffy asked from the door.
Xander took a shuddering breath. "We need a doctor."
Buffy pulled out the compass and stared at it with distaste. "Yeah? Well the nearest one's that way." She jabbed her thumb in a random direction.
Xander did what he could to dress the injury. "Are you sure It's not pointing to Angel?" He asked unkindly.
She didn't dignify that with a response. Instead, Buffy started looking around the room to see if anything could help.
"Xander!" She shrieked. Buffy ran up to him holding a device of some kind. "Look!"
"What? I'm kinda busy here." He was dressing her wound with scraps of his clothing.
"The card said this was some kinda healing device!"
"Seriously?" She nodded. "Lemme see that!" Xander grabbed the device and examined it.
It was circular, about the size of his palm, and there was some kind of ring on the back of it. Honestly, it looked a lot like one of those things with velcro on them you use to catch the fuzzy ball. He put it on and looked for the power button. It didn't have one. Xander shook it a couple of times.
He glared at it, wanting it to work so badly! Xander let out a snarl of frustration and tossed it away.
"Xander!" Buffy yelled.
"I have no idea how to turn that piece of junk on!"
Buffy picked the device up and, basically, repeated everything Xander did with it. Including throwing it in frustration. She looked at Willow, who was getting unnaturally pale.
"What're we gonna do?" She asked, crying softly.
Xander sighed heavily. "I don't know." He did everything he could for Willow, and it wasn't enough.
Without any better options, the two of them began to investigate the rest of van Statten's unique collection, hoping against hope, that they'll find a way to help their friend.
"Oh no," She said suddenly before running to the door. "They're coming!"
The Slayer looked out into the corridor, and saw at least twenty angry looking guards.
Buffy barricaded the door as best she could, using her super-strength to keep them out. It was temporary solution at best.
Any moment now, the guards could decide to open fire and tear her in two.
Xander looked at Willow's pale face, and Buffy's struggling back, and did something stupid. He reached out, grabbed the closest device, and began pushing buttons. He repeated the action with another device, and another, until everything got really, really, bright.
"Doctor!" Yelled a woman's voice. Was that Buffy? Did she need a doctor? No. It was Willow. Willow needed the doctor. But he couldn't get her one because they were stuck in a room underground with evil guards trying to kill them.
Xander realized someone was touching him. He began to struggle
"Woah there!" an english voice said. "Relax. You're safe now."
"Willow." He gasped, trying to open his eye.
"That the red-head?" He nodded. "Don't worry. My friend's a doctor. Well, practically a doctor anyway. Still, she's quite good. I think. She's just an intern, you see. Oh, and the blonde. Is she with you too? Great company you're keeping." The voice babbled.
Xander started coming around fully and looked up at the man talking to him.
"Who are you?" He asked.
The man grinned cheerfully. "I'm the Doctor."