Chapter 15 – Saving Grace Don’t know how much more of this I can actually take. I think that I can deal with pretty much everything. Alien invasions, I scoff at the little green men. Hell Beasts bent on world destruction. I would, and have, laughed mightily in their slimy, snarly faces. Anya, while it was painful, like the biggest pain I’ve had, I still dealt. It took time and there was that whole lost phase, but I turned it around. But. I. Can’t. Handle. This.
Xander stood against the wall of the hallway in Buffy and Willow’s apartment, watching his friend move with icy determination. He wasn’t sure what Willow was doing. And that was the problem. At first, she had grabbed what he recognized as locator spell ingredients. It failed, so she went to her computer. That was two hours ago.
After Jimmy had come back, Willow crumpled under the news he had. To make matters worse, one of the doctors working on Aradia had informed them she hadn’t made it through surgery. Aradia had hemorrhaged out on the operating table.
It was then that Willow had stood and walked out of the waiting room. I don’t know what’s worse: my pregnant girlfriend missing and potentially hurt. Buffy missing and potentially hurt or watching the woman that’s known me forever completely shut herself down. Like no one’s home - go away - gone.
I’ve never seen Willow like this. Mad? Sure. Happy, too. Hell, I’ve faced off with her all veiny and black.
He pushed off the wall and moved to the kitchen table keeping a weary and watchful eye on his best friend. The point. I’ve seen Will lots of ways. This. What I’m seeing now, is all sorts of new. And it’s of the bad. Like really really bad.
He ran a hand through his hair and rubbed under his bad eye. The nervous habit started after he had gotten into a fight at a bar in Cleveland. It persisted and now as he stroked the skin at the edge of the patch, he found it comforting. You’d think she would cry, be angry, be something other than what she is now. It’s cold and very un-Willow like. *********
Jimmy looked over to the remaining people in his partner’s family and sighed. He had been at the precinct with Giles, Dawn and Kennedy in tow since the hospital. He had seen the look Willow had left with and knew he had to find Nekko and the two missing women before Willow.
To try and get a jump on the witch, he had everyone follow him to the precinct and began searching every last criminal database system that he could think of. He had enlisted the help of a few of the newbie detectives to search the Social Security and Bank records while he took VICAP, NCIC and the New York state employee register.
The civilians were working on combing through print outs and trying to find a match, a link, a thread somewhere in the real estate records for New York and the surrounding counties. He let out a grunt of frustration when the search on VICAP came back empty.
He sipped at the cold bitter coffee and closed out of the program. Running his hands through his hair, he moved to the F.B.I’s records. Time’s runnin’ out. It’s damn near palpable. Hang on Cupcake, just hang the fuck on.
Whistling a random tune, Nekko entered the back room where Buffy and Faith were. The room was only lit by a single fixture in the middle of the ceiling. He barely glanced at the body on the hospital bed and moved straight to the detective hanging on the wall. He met her cloudy, unfocused hazel eyes and grinned.
“Well, look who’s awake. Ya know Blondie, your constitution is the stuff of medical miracles,” he chirped. Walking over to the bound slayer, he tapped the IV bag and shook his head. “I would run out if I were to keep you around longer than what I’ve planned. Lucky for me, you’ll be dead before that happens.” He moved right in front of her and tipped up her drooping head.
“I gotta say you’ve been a bit troublesome. I mean you guys killed Gregy. I needed him. Kinda spoiled my plans. Guess it’s true what that adage says about the best laid plans. Nice though when you have a backup.” He wiggled his eyebrows, leering at the woman before him.
Buffy’s head lolled to the side when he removed his finger from under her chin. He stepped back, receding to the far wall to scan hit toys on a dresser top. Buffy had been in and out of consciousness for a while now. How long, she couldn’t tell, but every time he had come in, he had given her more of whatever tranquilizer was being used. The drugs raging through her system had left her numb to pretty much everything. She even half heartedly attempted to feel out her link to Faith to see if she was okay. It was dead.
Nekko tapped his chin with his left index finger as he peered at his toys. Let’s see I’ve got the scalpels, Stryker saw and the other bone saw. What to use, what to use? I mean shit; it wouldn’t even be a fuckin’ thought if the stupid bitch had just did what I wanted her to. Still can’t figure out how in the fuck they found Greg’s place.
Plan went to shit. It happens. Good to have back-ups. Contingency plans are a solid in my book. I may not get to have the swell abilities that these bitches do, but I still get to have fun.
Get to kill’em. Should be fun.
Too bad Greggy couldn’t be here for this. Still not sure where we went wrong with that damn translation. He’d have enjoyed this part. He was especially lookin’ forward to cutting up Buffy.
Nekko shook his head in agitation as his hands ran over the blades on the table top. Now I’m just gonna hafta carve the bitch up all by my lonesome. Whatever. She’ll get what she deserves one way or the other.
Dr. Walsh would have…she would have had us take the mongrel down in Sunnydale, but no, Finn, Mr. Too Fuckin’ Good, Mr. Please Let Me Fuck That, fell in love and Walsh had too much of a soft spot. Serves ‘em right I guess. Hell, I guess it worked out. Riley gave in at the end. The stupid prick. He bled nice at least.
Picking up the prepared hypodermic and the scalpel, he turned towards the blonde. Stopping at the I.V., he breathed deep and rolled his neck relaxing as it popped. He stuck the needle in the feeding valve and depressed the plunger watching the clear adrenal mix flow into the saline solution. Give that a few minutes to work. She’ll be coherent enough.
Taking her chin in his hand, he made sure that the small dose had begun to take effect. Satisfied a few moments later as the glassy look began to recede from her eyes. He dropped her head and began cutting away her clothes.
“Now Buffy, I don’t want you to get too feisty. The boost I gave you’s only gonna take away the numbness and make you aware of what’s going on. Besides which, your arms, they’re pretty much useless right now. No funny ideas there, Supergirl.” He cut the last seam on her pants leg and threw the ruined garment over his shoulder.
He took in the small form. She is awful nice to look at. Totally see why Finn had such a hard-on.
Leaving her underwear and bra intact, he placed the tip of the blade between Buffy’s 8th and 9th rib. Pressing gently, he was satisfied when the blade sliced into the delicate flesh.
A small grin formed as the blade made its first incision and Buffy flinched at the pain. Good. She can feel it. She’s responsive. Now onto some fun.
Blood flowed from the cut and began to drip down Buffy’s side. He tapped his chin deciding on the next place to slice into.
Willow’s fingers flew over the keys on her laptop and as she accessed every public and private record for real estate holdings in the New York metropolitan area. Scrolling through her search, she hissed as the information she needed came up. The guys name was Gregory Brandenburg. That’s who Jimmy killed. That’s where I should have been looking. Goddess I’m so stupid sometimes. It’s okay though. I have the starting point. And when this is all said and done Nekko is going to beg me for mercy I don’t have.
It makes you wonder, how someone like me gets to a point like this. How hard does someone have to be pushed to just not care? When Tara died, I cared. I felt. Pain. There was so much of it that I didn’t know what to do. This is – nothing.
This is worse, maybe.
Willow discreetly glanced up at Xander and then quickly looked away. He’s scared. That’s smart. It’s okay, Xander. I’ll get Faith back for you. I don’t know if she’ll be alive, but I’ll find her. And I’ll find Buffy. This will all be over soon.
The only other movement coming from the witch was the agitated bounce of her left leg. Silently, it moved up and down.
Jimmy rubbed at his eyes and peered up from the screen to look at his friends. They had been looking at print outs non-stop for the past three hours. Jimmy had nearly every precinct in Manhattan and a few off-island scouring for his partner and the missing slayer. The updates came in every half hour and so far, nothing. It’s four a.m. and the way I figure, Faith’s been missin’ six hours and Buffy’s been missin’ four. It all spells no good. In fact, it spells nothing but fuckin’ heartache.
“Hey, hey…I think I’ve got something,” Kennedy’s excited voice broke the tense silence and had Jimmy on his feet in record time. She pointed to the information she found and said, “He’s leasing a place over off of…One-Hundred-Twenty-Ninth Street and Broadway.”
“That’s it? Nothing else listed?” Jimmy asked.
“Nope. Where’s that at?”
“Up near Harlem. Alright. You three sit tight. I’m gonna take a squad and see what we can find. Good work there, uh…”
“Kennedy’s fine.” She peered up at him and waited for a remark.
He just nodded grimly and said, “Good work, Kennedy. I’ll call you when I get word.” He grabbed the page with the address on it and took off.
Dawn turned worriedly to Giles. “You think it’ll be okay and should we have gone?”
Giles removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes before answering. “I think perhaps that it will be what it will be. He’ll take care of her and Faith,” replied Giles honestly. I think that whoever this Nekko is, will be dead before the sun rises and I can’t say that I feel terrible about. Good bloody riddance.
Buffy shivered as a tremor ran through her body. The shot had done what the doctor had intended and brought her to consciousness just enough to make sure she felt every slice he gave her. She had lost count after the twentieth. The sad part: I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve found myself chained to a wall. The non sad: this is the first time I know I’m not gonna get out of it. That thing called fear has finally settled in. Think maybe it’s at the base of my spine and snaking its way up. Could be that it’s just me being cold.
Could be that the blood that’s pooled below me is making me cold too. I’ve given up trying to reach out to Faith. She hasn’t come to and I don’t know what that means. At least he shut up. Going on about him and his dead partner trying to use those girls to give them slayer power was starting to get annoying.
The fact that they sought out Sunnydale residents was just to let me know. To let me know it’s my fault.
Tears leaked from the corners of her eyes and she cursed herself for showing the weakness that she was. Once again, people are dead because of me. I’ll add it to the death toll my birthright has racked up. I’ve lost count by now – the people that’s died because of me.
She let out a shuddery breath and watched Nekko stand in front of the dresser deciding on which blade to try on her next. I’m sorry Will. I’m so so sorry. Xander’s not going to be able to handle Faith. And their baby. Oh God, their baby. Can this get worse?
Nekko turned to Buffy and made sure that she saw the cordless Stryker saw in his hand. Her eyes widened a bit and she saw the pleasure he took from her reaction. Ya know, if I could kick myself for asking such a retarded question, I so totally would. Smooth Buffy, just tempt fate a bit more. Maybe I should ask if Angelus is around. He’d appreciate the use of power tools for torture.
The blade Nekko selected was doubled for maximum cutting and the Sabo saw was his favorite to use during autopsies. The blade he was getting ready to use could saw a body in half in under a minute. Even though he wasn’t going to chop her in half, cutting into bone was definitely part of the plan.
“Buffy,” he sang, stepping right in front of the blonde. Bitch ain’t even paying attention.
“Buffy!” He grabbed her jaw and shook her head. Her eyes fluttered open and he smiled. “Pay attention,” he snapped as he flicked the saw on.
The whirring of the blade caught the blonde’s attention and her eyes grew wide as it drew closer. Fuck this is gonna hurt! How un-fucking-believab…
Buffy went from fear to abject terror in less time than it took for her brain to register that Nekko was slumped against the door, struggling to get up. She watched wide eyed as her Willow pulled the man up by his shirt and slammed him against the wall. The chair by the dresser went careening across the room and slammed right next to where her lover and Nekko were standing.
Willow shoved the dazed man into the chair and smiled. She waved a hand over his slumped formed and bound him to the chair. Surprisingly, enough I don’t feel much of anything here. No hate. No anger. Just indifference and a smidge happy that this garbage will be removed from the human existence.
Eh, how far the mighty have fallen. Maybe I fell a while ago. Who knows? Can’t seem to care enough to figure it out.
“Wil…” Buffy rasped out quietly. Damnit.
She cleared her throat and tried again. The effect was much the same except she was able to say her lover’s full name. I need to stop her. She can’t. I won’t let her.
Buffy tore at the restraints. She stretched and pulled at her arms. Due to her position, every part of her shoulders and arms were numb. It was difficult to gage the amount of force she was using as she writhed in her bindings.
She twisted her left arm hard and felt an intense, sharp pain tear through her shoulder. Knowing she had probably torn some ligaments, she clenched her jaw against the pain and continued to try and work free of the cuffs. Her movements caused the shackles around her wrist to cut into her skin. She worked the blood from the new wounds to lubricate the skin.
Feeling something in her hand snap, it popped free. Sweat and tears dripped from her chin as she twisted her right wrist 90 degrees and felt her hand slip through the metal ring.
She fell to the floor as her legs gave out and she slipped in the blood at her feet. The stitched side of her face slammed into the hard floor, causing her cheekbone to crack from the impact. She scrambled forward ignoring the pain. Ignoring the fact that she was crawling through her own blood and tried to launch herself at Willow.
Her hand wouldn’t close around the witch’s skirt. Desperate, she used her shoulders and slammed into the back of Willow’s knee. The action caused the redhead to fall backwards over the prone slayer. Clumsily, Buffy shifted to cover Willow with her body. She wanted to make sure Willow saw her as she tried to wrap her arms around her lover. God Will don’t hurt me. I can’t... Come back to me baby, please, please, come back.
Willow looked at the woman on top of her. Buffy was covered in blood. Tears rained down as the internal wall she had erected shattered. She cried Buffy’s name, grabbed for her and wrapped her arms around the small form.
They didn’t hear the sirens outside, the doors busting down or the shots fired. Neither felt Jimmy wrap his arms around them as he carried both of them out of the room whispering reassurances to the women. He gave Buffy to the medics and carried Willow the rest of the way out into the predawn morning.
Allowing the medics to load Buffy in first, he stepped into the ambulance, still cradling Willow. He settled on to the bench, exhausted and numb. Nodding to the EMT that he was ready, he watched as the doors closed and felt the ambulance lurch forward taking off. He held the shaking, sobbing witch in his arms and smoothed her blood matted hair down. He gently kissed the top of her head before slumping back against the wall, sure that everything would work itself out.
Crisp, fall air glided over Buffy’s exposed shoulders and arms. Her knees drew up to her chest as she looked out over her neighborhood and into the backyard’s of some of the residences. Her cheek ached slightly from the temperature in Brooklyn in mid-September. She absently rubbed at the faded scar mumbling her displeasure.You’d think a bit over a year later I wouldn’t be as annoyed. Right. That’ll happen. And really has it been a year? So much craziness. And Brooklyn? How in the hell did I end up off island?
Oh, right. Will, post-orgasmy goodness and the want to buy a house. Next to Jimmy no less. Figures. She’s lucky she sprang it on me when she did. Of course I guess there are worse places to be. I can name like six right now. All of them with a peachy nickname of Boca De Inferno.
Shaking her head at the train of thought, she let the snicker out and switched focus. But boy does time fly. One of Will’s passing phrases, ‘tempus fugit’, totally right. Over a year since Will got here. Since Nekko and the fallout from. Death. Lots of it. Maybe not as much as there could have been. Still enough that I get to see my precinct shrink twice a month. Better than the twice a week for the first six months after everything though.
A shiver passed through her and she pulled her knees in closer resting her chin. Can’t really say it’s all bad though. Fact is it’s been really really good. It’s sort of laughable. Buffy Summers has grown up. Practically married, mortgage, steady job that I actually like. A destiny fulfilled.
And that’s more funny. I mean for so long my destiny was a burden. All of it. The slaying, the world saveage and more than anything the people in my life. All of it so heavy and so impossible to me that the word ‘resent’ seems to only graze what I thought it was.
I was wrong.
Or maybe, like Jo said, I got a different perspective on everything. She may not know the whole truth about my past. She usually thinks I’m talking about being a cop when I discuss my responsibility levels. Maybe one day I’ll tell her. I see that going well.
My shrink will need a shrink by the time I’m done. Good job, Buffy.
Nah, maybe I’ll just keep that to myself.
It’s just that…she’s right. It doesn’t matter what you’re given. It’s how you chose to respond to it that matters. You think I would have clued into it sooner. Maybe I really am blonde.
Sure, sometimes the choices aren’t the best, but at some point you gotta own up to it. I’ve owned. I’ve accepted. My calling, not so much a burden. I tend to lean towards the gifty side. ‘Cause really, where would I be if I hadn’t been?
In L.A. a trophy wife, a washed up cheerleader with about as much depth as a puddle in a side walk. With, well, there’s been bad. Emotional trauma. P.T.S.D. is the official diagnosis. They still think it’s from Nekko. They’re wrong. Although as an upside, I don’t get nightmares anymore.
I’m growing and even in the healthy direction no less. Changes of the major variety. I no longer feel like I’m a walking death sentence to the people around me. Death is no longer my gift; if it ever was. Willow says that maybe I misunderstood the first slayer’s attempt to explain to me why I’m here.
Of course that’s all just me. I mean the Council’s changed. Will’s changed. Xander, Faith, Dawn…all of them are different. Better then what they were. Parental responsibility has kinda changed Faith and Xander.
To be honest, it’s changed me too. Little Isabella and Faith survived. I’m an aunt. Oh boy. But she’s sweet and beautiful and her eyes…they look like they know the secrets to life. Maybe she does. Guess we’ll see.
“Heya Cupcake, whatcha doing all the way up there?” Jimmy asked from his back porch.
Buffy was brought out of her rambling’s by the sound of her partner’s voice. She smiled down at him and couldn’t help but show off a little. She stood and took a leap off the edge of the house and somersaulted into her partner’s back yard. Landing on her feet, she grinned mischievously up at the older man.
“Not much. Just thinking.” She shrugged.
“Didn’t mean to interrupt,” he said, kicking his feet.
“Nah, no big. If I think too much bad things happen anyhow.” Buffy gave him her best smile. “So where’s that witch of mine?”
“Finishing diner. I came to collect you.” Jimmy slung his arm over the girl’s shoulder and then whispered in her ear, “You do know she’s kinda bossy?”
Buffy laughed and nodded in agreement. “Yeah, but don’t call her on it. Makes her cranky.”