: I am so very extremely sorry about the delay in getting this chapter out. Believe me when I say I wanted to get this done as much as you (the loyal readers) wanted me to, but I got stuck. You see, there was something originally written into this chapter that as the story unfolded no longer worked. Of course, reworking the chapter proved harder than I originally thought. However, there is an upside to the long wait - I personally feel that taking the time to really think about and work on this chapter makes this version of the chapter at least five times better than the original version of this chapter. It also ended up being about a page a half longer after the reworking than it originally would have been.
PS - I'm hoping to get chapter one of the next story in "Consequences" (Part Six) posted later today. If I don't manage to get it today (tonight) it should go up tomorrow unless something goes horribly horribly wrong.Consequences V - Moonlight
"Rubble," Buffy said for the second time. The top of the cliff didn't have anything but lots and lots of rubble.
Well, there was a small dirt road leading up to the rubble, and the enclosed concrete walk-way which had no doubt lead to a door was still mostly intact.
"There was something here," Xander said. "A building of some kind, but from the look of things whatever it was collapsed in on itself. Judging from the plant growth, I'd say it's been awhile."
Buffy frowned. Whatever called her to this point felt as though it were merely an echo.
For a moment, Buffy considered giving in to her urge to stomp her feet and throw a fit. She felt a fit would be justified, because she still had no idea what the hell was going on. Down on the beach, she'd been certain what ever was calling her was something that was hers, and yet she knew that what ever it was that had been calling to her was no longer here if it had ever been, so throwing a fit would have been pointless.
"So," Xander said after a moment. "Do we need to go digging through this rubble?"
Buffy shook her head. "It's not here. What ever it was...," Buffy paused. "What I was feeling seems to be an echo from something that might have been here once but isn't here now."
"No idea what?"
"Not a clue, but it feels like something that was made just for me."
"Almost exactly like that, except this feels as if it should belong to me Buffy, not just Buffy the Slayer."
Xander frowned, which caused Buffy to smile.
"The scythe was made for the Slayer, who just happened to be me, also Faith, and then all the girls. The scythe belongs to the Slayer, but not to me personally. This, whatever it is, or was, feels like it belongs to me."
"I guess that explains it," Xander said. "Kind of, anyway."
Buffy laughed. "I guess if I'm supposed to have it, I will eventually find it," she turned around and took Xander's arm. "We should head back and see what happened to Spike."~ * ~ * ~
When they returned, it seemed like everyone was in their room. Spike was standing beside Coraline, and quickly explained that Dracula had called him just after sunset because he needed to be able to bind Coraline to one of them so she could be brought along on their journey.
At least that explained why Spike and Coraline were here, it didn't explain why Josef and Mick were standing in their room. Of course, Josef owned the place, so she guessed he could do where ever he wanted, but she suspected there was a reason he was here.
Buffy wasn't sure how she really felt about having Coraline join them on their journey. Still she couldn't very well argue against her coming along, because Dracula made it crystal clear that he had to punish Coraline, and Buffy knew this was a much nicer punishment than anything else he would come up with.
Buffy paused, and actually looked at the people in the room. There was something different about Mick.
She took her eyes off Mick, and realized that all the curtains in the room were drawn, which made sense because even though she couldn't tell because of the thick curtains she still knew that the sun was up. Of course, she knew these vampires could be out and about during the day if they drank enough blood before going out, so Spike had probably closed the curtains.
When she looked back she realized what was different about Mick. He was pale, as usual, but the small scratch that had been on his face was completely gone, and Buffy realized he was a vampire again.
two are here, because?" Xander asked, and Buffy almost smiled. It seemed like he'd taken the silence as long as he could.
Josef looked at the ground, and Buffy suspected he was feeling very guilty about something. Buffy almost smiled. She'd be willing to bet money that Josef was the one responsible for making Mick a vampire again.
Strangely enough, while Josef seemed guilty, Mick didn't seem upset over the fact that he was a vampire again.
"Your immortal, right?" Josef asked, and Buffy blinked, but he'd been looking at Xander not her. "But you're not a vampire."Ah
, Buffy could see where this was going. What surprised her was that Mick looked ready to object.
"True," Buffy replied when it became clear Xander wasn't going to reply.
"Coraline thinks there may be a way to use your blood, or rather Xander's, to create a lasting cure."
"And has this been approved?" Buffy asked. Not that she really cared, but she thought it would be better if they didn't do anything that would give Dracula an excuse to return, or delay his leaving.
Coraline smiled. "It has, because Dracula," Buffy wondered why she seemed so amused by his name, "doesn't think it will work. Still before we go, I'd like to try."
Buffy took a deep breath. "Fair enough, though it's really up to Xander."
Xander jumped slightly. "Why me?"
"Because you're human, and Mick wants to be human," Buffy said, having finally figured out why they were trying to talk to Xander about this instead of her.
"Actually, Mick isn't sure what he wants," the man in question said dryly.
Buffy laughed, mostly because of what he'd said, but also because of the hopeful expression that crossed Josef's face. He quickly masked the look, and sadly Buffy suspected she was the only one who'd seen it.
"Before having my brief stint as a human," he said slowly. "I would have said that there was nothing I wanted more than to be human again."
Buffy smiled. "But being human after having been other isn't something that feels right anymore."
She knew this from the time the Watchers had forced Giles to give her drugs that basically took away her strength. Before that she'd thought being the Slayer was the worst thing that had ever happened to her. After that, while she still sometimes hated being the Slayer, she never again wanted to lose the strength that came with being the Slayer.
Mick looked at Buffy. It was clear from her tone that she did understand, but since she was practically human herself he didn't know how she could possibly understand.
She seemed to realize he was doubting her, because she started to speak again.
"I'm a Vampire Slayer, and for over a year I was the only one," she said. "After that first year I learned that I was now one of two. Still I hated being the Slayer, I wanted to just be Buffy," she frowned slightly. "I was probably the only teenager in all the world who actually wanted her biggest worry to be homework. Instead I was out every night fighting for my life. I hated it."
Mick discovered that he was very interested in what she had to say despite the fact that moments before he'd been ready to completely right her off.
"Then the Council decided I needed to be tested. I was slated to fight a vampire without my slayer strength."
"Because some old pricks thought you needed to prove something," Spike added, and Mick saw Xander grin.
He realized there were more layers to the story than what he was getting, especially because for just a moment the small blond in front of him looked as though she wanting very badly to hurt something or rather someone.
"Anyway, I won the fight, but I admit if the vampire hadn't escaped the Council and kidnapped my mother, I would have probably went in, turned the vampire lose on the Council myself."
Mick almost laughed, not because of what she was saying, but because of the way Xander and Spike were reacting. Spike looked like he was sad, and Mick realized he probably was sad but only because he'd missed a potential for madness and mayhem. Xander looked as though he agreed with Buffy, but was shocked that she was saying the things she was.
"It wasn't easy, and it sure as hell wasn't fun, but for a good while after that I realized that while I still didn't like being the Slayer, I did enjoy the power that came with being the Slayer."
For a moment, there was only silence, then Coraline moved to stand beside him.
"It's up to you," she said softly. "I'm willing to try and work on a cure in what little time I have left here."
The problem really was that Mick was no longer sure what he wanted. For many years now his one conviction was that becoming human again would solve all this problems. Now he knew that wasn't true. It could solve some of them, but nothing could solve all problems, not even being human. Add to that the fact that being a vampire no longer seemed quite as horrible as it had before, and Mick wasn't sure which decision was the correct one.
However, it seemed wrong to simply refuse outright. There were probably other vampires out there who wanted more than anything to be human again. Who was he to deny them.
After a moment, he nodded his head, and Coraline smiled.
"I admit that I'm not certain I'd choose to use a cure again, if you can come up with one," Mick said. "But it doesn't hurt to try. Especially since it could potentially be used to cure others who've been turned against their will."
As Coraline turned to Josef, Mick couldn't help but think about the teen vampire he'd been forced to kill not so long ago. While Mick had hated being a vampire, he liked to believe that he'd adapted pretty well to the situation, but couldn't deny that there were others out there who had not, and making them mortal again would be, in Mick's opinion, a better solution than killing them.~ * ~ * ~
Josef lead them downstairs and into a lab. It looked exactly like every other lab Buffy had ever been in, except that the chairs were more comfortable, and Buffy suspected she and Xander were the first non-vampires to ever see this lab.
Xander followed Coraline into a back room, and for a moment Buffy felt bad. They had practically forced Xander into doing this. It wasn't that Xander had objected, it was just that Buffy wasn't sure he would have offered to do this if the issue hadn't practically been forced on him.
Still he was going along with it, which meant he didn't have any real objections, because when Xander objected to something everyone knew it. So, she leaned back in the chair, and moments later her eyes closed.
She didn't open them again until she felt herself being shook.
Once she was fully awake, Coraline explained that she'd spent the whole day working, and Josef who had been in and out, was currently out discussing the rebuilding project.
While Coraline spoke, Buffy realized that at some point Spike had fallen asleep beside her.
Buffy started to frown as Coraline explained why she'd woken her up.
Mick couldn't understand why Buffy was frowning.
It proved impossible to use Xander's blood to create a cure, no one, not even Coraline was sure why. So, Coraline had decided to add a bit of Buffy's blood to what was left of the original cure. The idea was that since Buffy was more than human, and seemed to be truly immortal, her blood might make the current cure permanent.
"I don't think you should," Buffy said.
Mick was confused, especially since she hadn't objected to them testing with Xander's blood.
Buffy sighed. "In my reality the Slayer is based on the original vampires, not the so-called half-breeds, humans who've been turned, but pure vampires."Ah
, Mick was beginning to understand. All things considered, Mick found himself agreeing with her. Better to keep a pure sample of a working cure than risk whatever might happen by adding her blood to the mix.
"So, using my blood would probably destroy what's left of the cure," Buffy continued. "It might even end up making Mick, or anyone who tried it, an immortal vampire, or at best an immortal human."
As she finished speaking she turned to face Mick, and he found that he couldn't quite meet her eyes.
"Are you willing to take the chance that this might make you a true immortal? Considering that is the total opposite of what you've been gunning for."
Mick noticed that Spike was suddenly wide awake, and for reasons Mick might never understand seemed very interested in what was being said.
It was strange, because Mick had the impression that Spike enjoyed being a vampire, and it hit him just before Spike spoke.
"I say we do it, and I'll test it."
Spike wanted to become a true immortal, and didn't seem to care much whether he would become an immortal vampire or an immortal human.
"I don't know what the big fuss about being immortal is all about. Sounds like an occasion for a big party to me."
"We know," Buffy replied, though her voice was tinged with sadness.
"Hey," Xander said. "At least he's not the brooding type."
"Spare me from brooding vamps," though Mick thought she didn't sound completely serious about that.
Coraline looked torn, and Mick could understand. If she mixed Buffy's blood in and it destroyed what was left of the original cure the potential for a cure that worked would probably be lost completely. Especially if Buffy was right, and Mick suspected she was, because that would explain why Dracula, Mick couldn't stop himself from smiling, was allowing Coraline to continue doing her tests.
Mick couldn't decide which option might be better. To try and fail, or to destroy what was left of a viable sample. He knew how the elder vampire was hoping the chips would fall, and that thought was enough to make him realize that a small working sample was better than no sample.
With a small sample there was still a chance that more could be made, even if it could never be made permanent. If they destroyed the last of it there was little hope of even having a temporary cure.
While Mick considered the options and potential consequences, Spike looked over to where Buffy and Xander were standing.
"You sure you don't want her to try?" Spike asked.
Buffy smiled. "I'm sorry," and she sounded sincere. "But no."
Spike didn't seem to upset. Of course, he'd probably been expecting that response.
Coraline left the room to head back into the lab, only to return moments later. She didn't look happy.
"Buffy's correct," she announced, and then had she been human Mick suspected she would have blushed.
"While you were sleeping I did take a small sample, I decided to mix it with a small sample of the original cure. There was no effect one way or the other."
Mick could see that Josef looked relieved, then after a moment he looking guilty. Perhaps Mick should have been at least a bit angry, but he wasn't. He was also coming to realize that both Coraline and Josef loved him, which meant that neither wanted to lose him.
"It doesn't make a vampire immortal," Mick wondered how Coraline knew that.Was there a dead vampire in the lab?
After a moment, Mick decided that was the only way she could be so sure.
"Nor does it make a vampire human."
Buffy looked confused, and Mick somewhat understood. Her blood was powerful so there should have been some kind of effect either way.
Mick still wasn't sure how he felt about the failure. It was good that simply drinking from Buffy or Xander wouldn't make a vampire immortal, because Mick knew vampires, and realized that if their blood could make a vampire truly immortal, Buffy and Xander would fast find themselves in a bad situation.
"It's almost time," Buffy said blankly.
"Huh?" Xander asked.
"She means we'll be leaving soon," Coraline explained. "Which means that my research is also on hold for the moment," and she turned and went back into the main lab area, probably to make sure to hide the rest of the cure on her person so the other vampires wouldn't destroy it while she was gone.
"Your assistant?" Mick asked, when she returned, though he knew the answer.
"He offered to test the latest sample, and there was only one way to know if it worked."
Mick realized that he would miss her while she was away, but knew he'd be comforted knowing that she was simply away, and not dead. He wasn't sure what that meant for the future of their relationship, but he realized now that he would always care for her, though he suspected a relationship would never really work out between the two of them. ~ * ~ * ~
You have now reached the end of Part Five!