Ch. 58 With a Little Help From My Friends
A/N: Involves episode “Primeval”
Buffy drew out a soft yawn as the sunlight painted her face. She shifted under the covers, rolling onto her side to face Dean. She gently raked a hand through his hair as he slept peacefully beside her. She carefully removed her arms and legs from his and crept to her feet. She picked through the mess of clothes on the floor and got dressed.
She glanced across at Willow’s bed and noticed the covers were undisturbed. She heaved a sigh as she picked up a framed photo of her, Willow and Xander, smiling, happy, the good old days. As she stared at the photo, her heart sunk, feeling like those days were so long ago. She couldn’t remember the last time the three of them sat around watching cheesy foreign films on TV, laughing and acting goofy.
Buffy set the photo back down on the end table and stared at the phone for a long minute. She slowly picked the phone up and started to dial a few numbers. She blew out a breath and hung up the phone. She padded back to her bed and quietly retrieved her weapons bag. After a minute of rummaging through it, she slung the bag over her shoulder and snatched up her axe from under the bed. She checked on Dean who had burrowed his head under the covers to block the intrusive sunlight. She let him sleep, creeping out the door and into the hallway.
A little while later, Buffy caught Dean looking relieved as he finished dressing.
“I was just about to go out looking for you,” he said, his tone laced with apprehension.
When he noticed her axe, he shifted into curiosity.
“You went on patrol during daylight? Why didn’t you wake me?”
Buffy set her weapons bag on the floor and joined Dean on the edge of the bed.
“I wanted to let you sleep, after everything the past few days.....and I needed to....absorb stuff.”
Dean heaved a breath seeing the deep flare of sorrow in her eyes.
“I found Adam’s lair,” she said. “And guess who I ran into?”
Buffy imparted the details of her encounter with Spike and his knowledge about Willow not speaking to her. Dean shook his head as his face knitted with deep annoyance.
“Okay, SERIOUSLY, why the hell haven’t we killed him yet? Nothing good has come out of him still lurking around, annoying every single one of us.”
Dean deepened his annoyance as Buffy reflected in silence.
“And it stands to reason that there was a purpose to him pulling this crap – and why you found him in Adam’s lair.”
Buffy nodded as she drifted out of her reflection.
“He’s working with Adam,” she assessed.
“More reason to stake it to him,” Dean grunted.
Buffy glanced at the phone for a second.
“Um, I should call everyone and let them know....about...Adam, shouldn’t I? I mean, they probably don’t want to talk to me but....with Adam...where he’s concerned.....and with this Spike thing....they should know right?”
Dean noticed the plea for guidance in her eyes and nodded.
“Yeah, I’d say if a super powered zombie soldier and an annoying douche bag vampire are in collusion with each other, that’s something they should be aware of, no matter what has gone on.”
Buffy absorbed the undertones of his answer and nodded. She inhaled a deep breath and tried to show enthusiasm as she glanced at the phone. After a second, she sighed deeply.
“Um, maybe after....breakfast? I....I just don’t know where to start or....what I’d say?”
“Here’s a thought, how about, ‘hey’, I always find that to be a nice little ice breaker,” he said.
Buffy laughed in her throat as a small smile curled over her face.
“What would I do without you?”
“Be less annoyed probably,” he cracked. “No wait, that’s what I’D do without you.”
He chuckled as she shook her head in amusement. After settling down, she got to her feet.
“Yeah, you bet.”
“Okay, I’m just going to freshen up. Be back in a bit.”
She shuffled to the door and smiled back at him. Dean reciprocated her smile as she walked out the door. He glanced at the time as he fished out his cell phone.
Xander shifted on his bed, still under the covers, still depressed and lost when he heard the phone ringing. Anya curled deeper under his arm as he looked at the phone.
“That’s probably......not for me,” he lamented. “Because I’m useless unless it’s a laundry emergency.”
“Then don’t answer it,” Anya said flatly. “You don’t need them.”
Xander let the phone continue to ring, hoping the machine would pick up. When his mother informed him from upstairs of the phone call, he heaved a sigh. She hollered at him until he reluctantly picked up the line.
Xander sat up in surprise when he heard the voice on the other line as Anya eyed him curiously.
“Dean? Uh, hey man, I didn’t know you were still in town....a favor? You need a favor from ME?”
Xander felt a spark of excitement until he recalled the tense group meeting from the previous night.
“Wait, is this a favor of the ‘I need a clean shirt’ kind? Cause honestly man, I’m not that interested......It’s not?......Oh.”
A few minutes later, after making a breakthrough with the mysterious disks Spike had retrieved, Tara jumped out of her skin when the phone in her room blared. She drew a meek expression as she picked it up.
“Hello?...Yes, she is....oh I mean, hold on, let me see....”
Tara cupped a hand over the receiver as Willow gauged her expression.
“Buffy?” she asked.
Tara shook her head.
“No, it’s Dean.”
Willow shined her surprise as she got up and took the phone from Tara.
After eating at the Rocket Café, Buffy eyed Dean as he steered her away from the dormitories and through the quad instead. When he regarded her curious expression, he draped his arm around her and started to walk.
“Let’s go for a walk, it’s...a nice day,” he said.
Buffy paused and narrowed her eyes on him, suspicion clouding her gaze.
“What are you up to?”
“Nothing,” he answered casually. “Can’t I just want to walk....with a pretty girl?”
Buffy studied him for a long minute before she finally let her suspicion go. After strolling through the quad, soaking in the sunshine, Buffy paused in her step when she caught sight of Xander emerging from a crowd. He met her eyes and headed toward her as she took notice of Willow and Giles approaching from separate directions of the quad.
Buffy looked up at Dean and drew her suspicious gaze again. His moment of cluelessness broke as he sighed.
“Okay, so I was up to something,” he confessed.
Dean dropped his arm as Giles, Xander and Willow perched in front of him and Buffy. He nodded to the group as Buffy acknowledged the absent.
“Um, no Anya?” she asked softly.
Xander drew a dry smile. “She wasn’t feeling up to another fun round of antics after last night.”
“And Tara didn’t feel comfortable being around,” Willow remarked.
Buffy bowed her head briefly.
“I know there were a lot of ugly things said last night, shocking things, hurtful things....but.......”
Buffy hitched her head up and glanced at Willow.
“There was no real basis for what was said,” she affirmed. “I mean, who said we were saying awful things about you without your knowledge? Was it just something you heard or did someone in particular tell you?”
Willow widened her eyes as she gave it some thought. She drew a sheepish expression.
“Uh, it was Spike in particular....”
Buffy regarded Xander with an equally questioning look.
“And was it SPIKE in particular that said we all felt you’d be more useful in the Army?”
Xander gulped as he shaded with color. “Uh.....he didn’t use those exact words.....”
Buffy shifted her eyes to Giles.
“Spike can make a convincing argu.....”
Giles bowed his head and shined his embarrassment.
“I feel so foolish,” he said softly.
Willow, Giles and Xander stewed with their own shameful expressions as Dean broke the awkward silence.
“He threw a little Yoko card, sat back and watched the great band of friends pick each other apart,” he said pointedly. “He found something he felt was a weakness and he used it to break you down, get you all at each other’s throats....”
“I should have known better than to trust Spike,” Willow moaned.
“We all should have,” Xander added. “All that stuff that was said....”
Giles shook his head dismissively.
“Had no bearing, let’s leave it behind.”
Xander nodded as he looked behind him.
“It’s been left,” he said.
“Yeah, so left,” Willow stated.
Buffy let out a breath of relief as she nodded. But she bit down on her lip when none of the gang exuded any genuine enthusiasm. As a tense silence lingered in the air, Dean threw in another ice breaker.
“Spike should praise the damn stars he didn’t run into me last night when I was in super amped vampire killing mode,” he groaned. “Because he’d be blowing in a wind toward Middle Earth right about now.”
Xander couldn’t manage a laugh at his humorous remark. Willow sighed before she eyed Buffy.
“Well, why did he go to all the trouble of trying to pit us against each other?”
“Because he’s lost his bite and needs to get his kicks in a new way,” Xander grumbled.
“No, um, it has to do with Adam,” Buffy imparted.
Xander exaggerated a shocked look.
“What?! How could he.....oh forget it, I’m not the least bit surprised.”
Buffy went over the details of finding Adam’s lair and running into Spike as the gang listened intently. Willow broke in with an update on the disk encryption.
“There wasn’t much new information,” she replied. “But there was mention of a ‘final phase’ that involves Adam generating some huge cyber-demonoid factory of creepies like him. And he’s set up in a secret lab in the Initiative but of course it wasn’t specific as to where.”
As the gang absorbed the information, Dean shook his head as he glanced at Buffy.
“Well, that’s pretty damning evidence that Adam is setting up a big fat trap with your name written all over it,” Dean pointed.
“That would explain why the disks decoded itself,” Buffy stated. “So he wanted me to know his big evil plan, to lure me into the Initiative looking for some ‘secret lab’.”
Buffy scoffed as she shook her head.
“Got to hand it to him, he really thought this one over.”
Buffy regarded Willow’s curious expression.
“Demon activity has been through the roof and the Initiative has been flooded with containments, more than they can accommodate, it’s like they wanted to get caught”
“It’s the Trojan horse strategy,” Giles remarked. “Attacking from the inside with no way to escape.”
Dean shook his head in disbelief. “Jesus, so it’s a guaranteed bloodbath of human and demon carnage.”
“Which makes stock piles of human and demon body parts to create his zombie army,” Willow added. “Pretty brilliant and gross.”
The gang fell silent to absorb this horrifying realization. Xander raised a hand.
“Uh, can I take this moment to say, Mayor Snake wasn’t all that bad.”
“We gotta pull the plug on his evil guy factory,” Buffy replied firmly. “This ‘final phase’ is probably underway as we speak.”
“Yes, perhaps we should contact the Initiative and advise them of the situation,” Giles suggested.
Buffy shook her head. “They’re not going to listen to anything I say.”
Willow eyed Dean before she regarded.
“Um, what about um....Riley?”
“He’s facing a court martial so I seriously doubt they’re going to heed any of his warnings.”
Xander scratched his head and showed his confusion.
“Um, the part I don’t get is where you fit in to this evil plan, I mean why does he want you in on the action?”
“My guess, it’s fifty-fifty odds that she’ll come out alive,” Dean assessed with a grim expression.
“Isn’t he at all worried about.....you coming after him?” Xander asked.
Buffy deepened her apprehension.
“No, he’s not one bit,” she replied. “We should strategize, come up with a plan. Giles?”
Giles absorbed her knowing look and nodded.
“Yes, everyone please meet at my place,” he said.
On the ride over to Giles’ apartment, Buffy caught Dean wincing as he shifted in his seat.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, the old fang didn’t get the best of me, it’s just a little tender,” he said as he waved a hand dismissively.
Buffy let out a breath as she drifted momentarily out of her battle mode.
“You called the gang together,” she said.
Dean shrugged as he cruised into a neighborhood.
“I was merely a messenger,” he replied. “And I figured all of you could channel the hurt and anger toward a pasty ass vampire and FINALLY give him what’s long been overdue. In the meantime, we got bigger demons to skin right now.”
“Still, whatever you said convinced them to show up.”
“All I said was ‘hey’ and the rest....just happened.”
Buffy threw him an appreciative smile as he eased the car to the curb.
Buffy and Dean strolled into Giles’ apartment a minute later. Willow and Xander were gathered on the couch while Giles collected various weapons and set them on the coffee table.
“I think we have many options of defense,” he noted. “However, I am not certain which would be the most effective against Adam.”
“And don’t forget all the demons having a party should they get out,” Xander added.
Dean raised his index finger as his eyes lit up with an idea.
Buffy gauged his expression and shook her head.
“We’re not blowing the place up,” she said.
Dean flashed an annoyed frown.
“You keep vetoing me on that and where are we? Do we still have a secret government operation up to no good? YES. Do we still have demons threatening to escape? YES. Do we still have a zombie soldier on an ego trip plotting to destroy the world? YES. Does blowing up the damn place and burying it deep in the earth sound like a brilliant plan now? HELL YES.”
Buffy rolled her eyes as Dean entertained the idea some more.
“From what I know, Adam draws his power from a uranium core that is implanted in his chest, I’m not exactly sure where but I’d think it’s somewhere close to his spine.”
“Oh, okay, so we can trick Adam into going in for his annual physical and then ask him if he’ll take some x-rays so we can do some invasive surgery on him,” Xander cracked. “That’ll work.”
“Or, if you make him EAT a grenade, we can blow that mother in half,” Dean interjected, his eyes wide with excitement. “Then go fishing through his insides.”
Willow gulped at the gruesome image.
“Um, what about using magic in....a uranium ‘leave this body’ spell?”
“That didn’t sound as silly in my mind,” she moaned.
Giles cocked his head. “There are spells for causing paralysis....”
Dean set his eyes on Giles and shined more excitement.
“Good thinking Giles, first we’ll juice the bastard with some immobility, THEN we’ll feed him a grenade buffet THEN we’ll fish through his insides for this uranium core.”
All eyes stared at Dean in mass disbelief as his serious expression deepened.
Giles cleared his throat and continued. “What I mean to convey is that I am not able to perform the incantation for a spell like this.....”
Willow nodded with understanding.
“Oh, because it would require you to do the incantation in....Sumerian, right?”
“I am fluent in the Sumerian language the problem is, a highly skilled and experienced witch must perform it and you must be within close proximity to the target of the spell,” Giles clarified gloomily.
“Gee, and you thought taking Spanish would be helpful in your life,” Xander remarked as he eyed Buffy.
Buffy flashed a brief smile of amusement.
“Yeah, helpful if I actually HAD a life.”
“Okay, no big, all we have to do now is order us up the combo Buffy meal with extra strength, a side of Giles’ linguistics specialty, a dash of Willow’s magical spices and.....”
Xander glanced at Dean who was lost in his own crazy battle scenarios.
“A tall glass of Dean’s kamikaze courage.”
Giles glanced at Xander who sighed.
“Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m so helpful,” he lamented.
Giles drew a hopeful expression.
“Actually Xander, indeed you are,” he stated.
Xander widened his eyes in surprise. “I am?”
Giles shot over to his bookshelf and yanked a thick text out. He quickly thumbed through the pages until he found a particular spell.
“This could work,” he replied emphatically. “Yes.”
Xander and Willow gathered around Giles. Buffy poked Dean several times until he broke from the battle scenarios rolling through his mind. Giles hurriedly explained the details of the spell.
“Wow, I actually had a valid suggestion,” Xander gasped.
Dean read over the text and glanced at Giles with an incredulous expression.
“Wait, wait, wait......are you saying that you AND Willow AND Xander AND me.....we’re all going to be.....IN her?”
Dean looked over at Buffy as the others quieted upon hearing his question.
“Well, our spirits will be joined with her own,” Giles clarified. “So in a sense.....yes I suppose.”
Dean stared at Giles, then Willow, then Xander.
“Uh, I don’t know if I’m comfortable with this,” he groaned.
Buffy sighed and shook her head.
“Not everyone thinks like you do,” she moaned. “It’s just the essence of all of you within me.”
Dean shifted in his stance as he tried to digest the idea.
“Yeah, that’s not much of a comfort either,” he said with a disgruntled frown.
Buffy rolled her eyes as he shifted in his stance.
“I mean, why can’t you just take everything you need from ME,” he remarked. “I’ve got skills and strength and spirit wrapped up in a fine package so, why does she need any of you?”
Buffy widened her eyes in offense. “Dean!”
“You do not have the knowledge of the Sumerian language required for this spell,” Giles admonished lightly.
Dean shrugged. “It’s a pretty old dialect right? And I know a little Latin so it can’t be too different, I could figure it out.”
Buffy sighed as Giles balked. She eyed Dean with a determined look.
“This is the best chance we’ve got in taking Adam down for good,” she replied. “It’s strength in numbers only in a different way. Now let’s get moving.”
With weapons and various paraphernalia in hand, the gang quickly marched into Lowell House gearing up for major battle. After a few minutes, they gathered around the trick mirror that masked the secret elevator.
“Ready or not, here we come,” Buffy said emphatically.
“Okay, normally I’d be laughing at that but now, not so much,” Dean said flatly.
Buffy glared at Dean, seeing the spark in his eyes reflecting the ideas in his mind. She rolled her eyes as she turned back to the mirror. She wound her leg back and smashed the mirror with her foot, exposing the elevator shaft.
After securing two rope lines, Dean tugged on each checking the safety. Buffy and Willow finished slipping on their harnesses as they edged toward the open shaft.
“Okay, you’re good to go,” he announced.
Willow peeked over the edge and widened her eyes. Dean took in her look of dread.
“You want me to drop first? Catch you if you fall?”
Buffy lightly smacked Dean in the shoulder.
“Uh, not that you’ll fall,” he covered. “You won’t fall, I promise you.”
Willow edged closer and gulped.
“Um...no, no...I’m ready to go.”
Willow eyed Buffy who shined a confident look. After a minute, the girls hopped and began rappelling down the elevator shaft. Dean checked the slack on the ropes, keeping a watchful eye from above. Buffy checked on Willow as they slowly descended further.
“You doing ok Will?”
Willow nodded, trying not to look down too much.
“I’m swell. I mean, this is so much more sensible than using, I don’t know, stairs?”
Buffy glanced at the distance below before regarding Willow.
“You know Will.....”
“It’s okay Buffy, I feel secure, I’m just psyching myself out is all,” Willow assured.
“Oh um, no, I wasn’t asking, I.....”
Buffy sighed as her mind raced with thoughts.
“I want to say.....sorry for.....everything. I’m sorry for how things have been lately, so....distant and strained with everyone.”
Willow absorbed her apology as she drew out a long breath.
“You’re not to blame,” she said. “Spike is the one who started this whole mess.”
Buffy shook her head as they drifted further.
“I’m not so certain he really started it,” she confessed. “I mean, all of us have sort of.....grown apart over the past year and there hasn’t been such a tight knit feeling among us lately......it feels like things are unraveling......don’t you think?”
Willow took a long minute to grasp her own feelings before she answered.
“I hate to admit that....I have felt it....”
Willow pried an optimistic expression over her face.
“This is our first year of college though and sometimes it gets hard to keep in touch, to stay close,” she reasoned.
Buffy perched on the wall as her throat clouded with emotion.
“But I don’t want it to be hard,” Buffy moaned. “I don’t want to find excuses not to get together with everyone. I want us to stay close, to stay together. I miss everyone.”
Buffy sniffed back the emotion, trying to maintain her battle ready mood.
“Yet I feel like I am to blame in all of this, I haven’t been around as much, I’ve put aside making the effort to spend time with you, and slacking in meetings....I haven’t been the friend you deserve, that you all deserve. I’ve been so wrapped up in my own life.”
Willow shook her head. “Your life is dedicated to being the Slayer, that’s HUGE Buffy. That takes precedence over everything.”
Buffy deepened her remorseful look. “I guess I was talking about me moping all the time about missing Dean and freaking myself out about losing him.”
Willow bit down on her shaking lips and shook her head again.
“I haven’t been around as much either,” she admitted. “I’ve been wrapped up in my own stuff too. I haven’t been upfront about things.”
“But you shouldn’t carry any blame for that; you were trying to deal with a major revelation in your life.”
Willow squeaked out a few tears. “I really wanted to talk to you about it, I wanted to share with you what I was going through but I....I was so freaked....”
“There’s nothing you can’t tell me,” Buffy professed. “Whenever you need me, I’ll be there, I swear because you’re my best friend Willow and I love you so much.”
Willow sniffed through her tears. “You’re mine too! And I love you so much too!”
Buffy and Willow reached over, trying to hug but couldn’t get close enough. After a minute, they dropped on top of the elevator and joyously embraced each other, almost tumbling to the ground. They softly sobbed with relief and appreciation for a long minute.
“Let’s never believe a loser vampire over a friend AGAIN,” Buffy proclaimed.
“Yes! Never, never,” Willow acceded.
Buffy and Willow hugged a little longer as Xander made his way down the shaft. The girls surrounded him as his feet graced the elevator carriage.
“Oh Xander!” Buffy roared.
“You’re the best!” Willow cried.
Buffy and Willow embraced him tightly. Xander shined his confusion as the girls hugged him tighter.
“We love you so much Xander!” Buffy declared joyously.
“Yeah, loads and loads!” Willow added.
Xander choked with anxiety as he widened his eyes.
“This is a......a ‘we’re all gonna die in there hug’, isn’t it?
Buffy and Willow shook their heads.
“No, we just love you,” Willow expressed.
“And missed you,” Buffy cried.
The girls squeezed him even tighter, cooing softly. Xander finally released his anxiety and drew a goofy grin. He looked up at Giles who began making his descent.
“Hey Giles! Repel faster! You need to get in on this!”
Dean perched over the shaft as he finished securing his harness. He looked down at the girls doting over Xander with hugs and kisses.
“What’s going on down there?”
Buffy and Willow yanked Giles into a hug as Dean frowned at being ignored. The girls threw Giles affectionate words which drew another group hug. Dean let out a breath as his frown faded, shining a supportive expression until Buffy delivered several rounds of cheek kisses on Giles and Xander.
“Hey, hey, keep it to make up hugs,” he requested.
A few minutes later, after the happy reunion hugs subsided, the gang examined the outer elevator doors. Dean fished out a crowbar and began prying them open. The gang huddled around, standing tall, ready for battle.
“Together forever, right?”
Buffy glanced at Xander, Willow and Giles who all nodded in agreement.
“Then nothing can stop us,” she affirmed.
Xander and Dean got both sides of the elevator doors open as Buffy prepared to storm through. She froze along with everyone else when a dozen armed commandos leveled assault rifles at them.
A short time later, the gang was escorted under heavy guard to the command center where Colonel McNamara was waiting with a scornful expression. He ambled down the line, scrutinizing each one. He glared at Giles and instructed a commando to confiscate his bag. McNamara continued down the line and paused on Buffy, throwing an intimidating glare upon her. She shot back her own glare as he drifted over to Dean.
“Frisk this one,” McNamara barked. “He had a non-regulation firearm last time.”
A commando stepped forward and threw Dean into a wall, swiftly padding him down. The gang looked on in awe as the commando removed weapon after weapon from the pockets of his jacket. McNamara eyed the growing pile on the table. After several minutes, the commando finished his sweep and stepped back.
“Is that it?” McNamara asked dryly. “No bombs stitched into your lungs?”
Dean slowly swung around and lowered his hands.
“Well, I got a rocket launcher in my pants if you want to see it,” he cracked with a smirk.
McNamara glared deeply at Dean as he fell back into line with the gang. McNamara yanked open Giles’ bag and began rummaging through it. Buffy blew out an impatient breath and frowned.
“Look Colonel, we are wasting time.”
“Be quiet,” McNamara barked.
Buffy deepened her exasperated frown. “Listen to me....”
McNamara glared acrimoniously at her. “Who do you think you are? You’ve got some nerve sashaying into a government facility with your band of friends, carrying arsenals of weapons like that.....”
He regarded the pile of weapons taken from Dean before digging into Giles’ bag.
McNamara studied the ancient gourd with numerous symbols and etchings carved in it.
“Yeah, be careful with that very dangerous GOURD Colonel,” Dean cracked. “It might cause a little indigestion. Could put you on the can for DAYS.”
Giles gulped at McNamara’s scrutinizing glare.
“What a bunch of freaks,” McNamara grunted.
Buffy growled deeply in her throat. “Look, you got a bigger problem than me and my friends. Adam is somewhere in the Initiative and if I don’t find him and stop him, it’s going to be a bloodbath around here!”
McNamara huffed with great disbelief. “Sure it will.”
Buffy charged out of line and ignored the armed commandos.
“Do you even know why you’ve got demons coming out of your asses?! Adam sent out a memo to all the demons in the neighborhood about the upcoming coup and he’s planning on a bonehead like you to send all your men to their deaths. Unless you let all of us go.”
McNamara scoffed loudly. “Your lies get crazier by the minute little lady. This entire facility is monitored twenty-four hours a day by the most advanced technology government funding can buy. You can’t move an inch without surveillance picking it up.”
“So there’s surveillance in the secret lab too?” Willow asked.
“Every crack and crevice!” McNamara spat.
After a second, his brusque expression cracked very slightly.
“What secret lab are you referring to?”
Buffy snorted derisively. “The home court for the final playoff in the battle of demons versus humans. The one Adam is using for his big evil plan – the 314 end game.”
Buffy gauged McNamara’s blank eyes.
“This doesn’t ring any bells in that dense head of yours, does it?”
McNamara raised his head high in defiance.
“This is my facility and I am aware of everything that goes on,” he rattled. “If a soldier sneezes, I know about it. A fly on a wall couldn’t sneak past security without my knowledge! So if Adam is going to try and breach security, let him try and we’ll be waiting.”
“You really think you and your men can get close enough to Adam to neutralize the source of his power? Based on your last confrontation where he handed you your asses, I’d say you’re better off getting the hell out of dodge,” Dean barked.
McNamara absorbed the remark but stood tall and defiant.
“We have an abundance of weapons on hand, we’ll hit him with everything we got,” he snapped. “Strike him with voltage blasts until he is immobilized.”
“So in other words you have no idea what method will work, great plan COLONEL,” Dean cracked sharply.
Buffy edged closer to the Colonel still ignoring the armed officers.
“You don’t have a clue what you’re up against,” Buffy barked. “Tasers aren’t going to do any good against Adam. You’ll just be charging him up, making him even more powerful. You are in way over your head!”
“And you aren’t? You really think YOU can stop Adam?”
“Yeah, I do,” she growled. “I’ve been hunting and killing demons longer than ANYONE in this facility! This is MY life and MY business and you’re trespassing on my territory.”
“This facility is MY territory, not yours and I’m in charge here, I have everything under control!”
As Buffy and the Colonel glared at each other, the lights suddenly burst out, blanketing everyone in darkness. A blink later, emergency back up and red strobe lights began flickering in the command center. McNamara eyed one of his commandos behind a computer terminal.
“Power grid failure sir,” the commando informed. “The backup system is not responding either. We’re in a complete lockdown.”
Buffy, Dean, Willow, Xander and Giles shared a collective look of anticipation as the commando widened his eyes at the activity displayed on several computer stations.
“There’s been a breach in the Containment Area sir. All the HSTs’ have escaped.”
McNamara flashed his commando a cynical look.
“All of the hostiles escaped?”
Dean caught a faint look of dread in the Colonel’s eyes and smirked.
“I’m taking orders for plates of ass, how do you want yours handed to you Colonel? With a little salt?”
McNamara swallowed his apprehension as Buffy edged closer to him.
“Leave Adam to me and save your people!” she snapped.
A tense silence lingered in the air as McNamara absorbed the collective stares from his commanding officers as well as Buffy and her gang of friends.
“How do you want to proceed sir?” asked the commando behind the computer.
After a half second more of silence, McNamara snapped out of his daze and regarded his officers in the room.
“You, you and you, with me,” he barked. “We must secure the armory now!”
Buffy deepened her disapproving frown.
“You’re going to get everyone killed!”
McNamara paused in the doorway as he addressed two officers.
“Arrest them,” he commanded before charging away.
Buffy and Dean eyed each other exchanging looks as McNamara and his team of soldiers filed out of the room. As soon as the doors shut behind them, Buffy and Dean launched a surprise attack on the remaining officers. Buffy took out the officer behind the computer station as Dean threw a few punches at the officer guarding the door. When the officers were knocked out cold, Dean dragged the bodies out of the way as Buffy eyed the computer station.
“We need to locate Adam,” she said.
Willow nodded and took a seat at the station. Giles and Xander gathered around Willow as Dean reloaded the weapons stash that had been taken from him back into his pockets. Buffy bounced with adrenaline as Giles regarded her.
“We must find a location in close to proximity of where you are and preferably without any disruptions,” Giles stressed.
Xander glanced at one of the monitors and widened his eyes.
“Well considering you got World of Warcraft the Live Show going on out there; a non disruptive environment may be a little hard to come by,”
“One thing at a time,” Buffy said.
Willow tapped furiously on the keyboard as Buffy and Xander eyed the monitors. Dean hovered by the door and peered cautiously out the window as the faint sounds of shouting, gunfire and explosions echoed in the hallway outside.
“Anybody else smell the roasting of a sitting duck?” Xander asked.
“Will, are you close?” Buffy asked apprehensively.
Willow paused from her fervent typing and stared at the monitor.
“Wait, check this out. All these air ducts and electrical conduits seem to snake right into.....there.”
Buffy glanced at the blueprint. “And?”
“And, that there is ‘not’ there. See?”
Willow changed the schematics of the facility, all dotted with various colors of active areas. She pointed to a blacked out area on the schematic.
“Looks like a place for a secret lab,” Xander said.
Buffy nodded in agreement.
“Behind secret door 314.”
Dean cracked the door open and absorbed the sounds of mass chaos.
“With the whole system offline, every door is unlocked,” Willow said glumly. “But not the exit doors, of course.”
“Well, now we know where we’re going, we just have to get there as quick as possible.”
“Yeah, that’s not going to be easy,” Dean moaned.
The gang confiscated the weapons from the two unconscious officers before moving through the doors.
Buffy and Dean edged under the doorway leading out to the main area of the facility where all out war between the commandos and escaped demons was raging furiously. Gunfire, taser blasts and muffled shouting ricocheted off the walls as some commandos and demons fought hand to hand.
Dean sucked in a breath as he eyed the group, all hopping with anticipation.
“Slayer on point, I’ll take the rear. Stay low and move FAST!”
Buffy led the gang into the war zone as the chaos continued around them. A green horned demon roared and charged toward Buffy. She kicked the demon in the kneecap with a swift delivery, taking it down fast. She slammed the demon in the face with her foot, knocking it out cold.
Buffy hopped over the demon and pushed deeper into the war zone. As the gang weaved through the anarchy, a hairy demon emerged and darted toward the back of the line. Dean snapped his pistol on the demon and squeezed off several rounds. The demon howled in agony and crumbled to the ground. A red skinned demon lunged at Xander who shot off his taser blaster. The demon wailed and staggered to the ground, writhing in agony.
Pushing deeper and further toward the secret lab, Buffy, Dean and Xander fought off another wave of raging demons. As they neared a door marked Restricted Access, Dean widened his eyes when he caught sight of a commando blasting off a round of machine gun fire toward them.
“Down! Down now!” he hollered over the noise.
Buffy batted Willow to the ground as the guys dropped quickly, averting the gunfire. They all crawled frantically closer to the Restricted Access door with cautious eyes. Buffy ripped the door open and ushered Giles, Willow and Xander through. Dean scrambled behind, his pistol leveled to fire at any ambushing demons or commando.
“Dean! Hurry!” Buffy called from under the doorway.
Dean scooted a few feet back, whipping his pistol around until Buffy yanked him through the door. He quickly got to his feet and raced down the hall with the rest of the gang.
After barreling through the door leading to the secret lab, the gang caught their breath as Buffy searched the walls of the room. Dean peeked out the window of the main door, keeping a watchful eye.
“This is it,” she said.
Buffy probed her fingers along a seam in the wall and pried the trick doors open. Bright light flooded the room as Buffy peeked inside the adjoining corridor leading to the lab. She turned back and addressed her dear friends, brimming with conviction and confidence.
“When I’m inside, secure it,” she said. “Will this do for the magical meeting of the minds Giles?”
Giles looked around and nodded. “Yes, this should suffice.”
“Providing we don’t have any rude disruptions or surprises,” Willow cracked.
“Yeah, how often does THAT happen?” Xander added with a dry smile.
“How long do I have before I expect ‘company’?” Buffy asked.
Giles dropped his bag on the floor.
“About five minutes I would gauge,” he answered.
“Then I better get moving.”
Buffy crossed to the trick door as Willow, Giles and Xander settled on the floor. Dean moved across to her as his steely expression shifted into one of concern.
“I still think I should go in with you,” he said softly. “You’ve said you’re not strong enough to fight him.”
Buffy drew a humbled look as she cupped his chin.
“I’m not, that’s why I have you.”
Buffy shot her eyes to the gang.
“All of you. I get by with a little help from my friends.”
Buffy rained an appreciative smile upon everyone before she stepped into the corridor and shut the door behind her. Dean heaved a breath before he and Xander pulled a large laboratory table to barricade the door. When they finished shoving a few more heavy items across the barricade, they joined Willow and Giles on the floor.
Buffy heaved a gasp in surprise after entering the laboratory. She stared at Riley sitting perfectly still in a lab chair. She quickly shuffled over to him.
“Oh my god, Riley.”
Buffy took pause when she noticed Riley meeting her eyes but did not say anything nor did he make a motion to move.
“Riley, what’s going on? What are you doing here? Are you okay?”
Buffy watched as Riley struggled to open his mouth. After a second, he gave up in defeat. He looked past her with a flare of alarm in his eyes. Buffy curled her hands into fists and whipped around, ready to strike. She gasped in shock as her eyes widened at the sight of the zombies Professor Walsh and Dr. Angleman, tubes hooked into their chests.
Buffy forced her eyes away, reeling in revulsion as she looked at Riley.
“What is going on? Why aren’t you talking?”
“It’s not written into this part of his program.”
Buffy whipped around again to see Adam standing in another trick doorway, slowly approaching her with extreme confidence.
“He’s fulfilling his role in this final phase,” Adam imparted mechanically. “Just as you were to in extracting the demons that I let roam, only you seem to have created a variable in my plan.”
Buffy shrugged, her head high with defiance.
“Yeah I do that a lot. I’m sort of the resident demon party pooper around here.”
Adam studied her for a moment.
“Exterminate her,” he said flatly.
In a flash, Buffy felt an arm wrapping around her neck.
Buffy threw her head back and saw Forrest behind her, his face half human half demon. Forrest tightened his super powered grip around her neck as Zombie Walsh edged toward her with a whirring bone saw in her dead hand.
“Hold still and it won’t be as painful,” she said flatly.
Buffy tugged hard to break Forrest’s grip as Walsh came closer with the saw aimed for her head. Buffy sucked in a breath as she latched onto Forest’s arm with both of her hands, jumped up into the air and hurled her feet forward, slamming both Walsh and Forest hard in the head. Both zombies flew propelled back into a wall at the far end of the lab. Walsh toppled over a table as Forest quickly bounded back onto his feet and charged like a mad bull toward Buffy.
Meanwhile, Dean, Giles, Xander and Willow sat together in a circle, four candles in front of each of them. Willow began the ritual reading from a very old text in her lap.
“Oh Divine Spirit, take from us the essence of which empowers us.....”
Willow took the first tarot card on the deck beside her and handed it to Dean. He eyed the door to the secret lab and forced out the apprehension curdling in his veins. He blew out a deep breath as he glanced at the tarot card of a valiant knight in a bloodied tunic raising a golden sword high in the air.
“I bestow upon the vessel, the courage of my heart - ‘Valitros’ may it carry you to victory........”
Dean lit his candle and set the card next to it. Willow handed the next tarot card in the stack to Xander, depicting a man joining the hands of several warring people together as a sign of unity.
“I bestow upon the vessel, the spirit of my heart - ‘Spiritas’ may it hold you together and carry you to victory.”
Xander lit his candle and set his card next to it. Willow handed the next tarot card to Giles, which depicted an old scholar, surrounded by scrolls and an Old World globe.
“I bestow upon the vessel, the knowledge of my mind, ‘Sophus’ may it carry you to victory.”
Giles lit his handle and set his card beside it. Willow flipped the final card down in the center of the circle, near the gourd.
“We bestow these essences upon the vessel, the Hand, ‘Manus’ may it carry her to victory.”
Buffy and Forrest battled back and forth in brutal hand to hand combat across the length of the laboratory for several grueling minutes. Buffy absorbed the powerful blows from Forrest, using all the elements around her to her advantage, throwing small instruments and equipment at his zombie head. Forrest dodged and countered with quick attacks.
“Not so powerful now are you Slayer?”
Willow closed her eyes along with the others as she reached the final part of the spell.
“We implore access to the vessel – ‘Manus’ – so that we may carry her to victory! We implore!”
The ancient gourd began to shake softly as beams of orange light cracked through.
Buffy swallowed the pain as she slammed into a metal table. Forrest roared at her as he pinned her down with a demonic arm. She heaved in several breaths for air, her steam starting to run out. Zombie Walsh and Angleman closed in on her with restraints and wicked tools.
“Getting tired Slayer?” Forrest asked menacingly. “Hmm. Shame. Got no friends to help you now.”
“Yes, she does.”
Forrest swung around to see Riley clutching his bleeding shoulder. Riley moved in a flash as Walsh and Angleman lunged at him. He ripped the tubes out of their chests causing them to crumble to the ground like rag dolls. He glared at Forrest as the two circled each other, preparing for a fight to the death. Riley struck first, coming hard at Forrest with a punch to the face. Forrest barely blinked and counterattacked as Buffy sprung up from behind and shoved a sharp instrument in the back of his neck before hurling him aside. Buffy eyed Riley.
“I gotta find Adam.”
Riley nodded as he watched Forrest slowly get to his feet. Buffy tore out of the lab leaving the two to battle it out.
Buffy crept into an adjacent room and saw the back of Adam’s head. He was standing behind a bank of monitors watching the ongoing slaughter in the main area of the Initiative.
“Mother always said you were going to be a troublemaker.”
Adam swung around as Buffy edged further into the room. Buffy shrugged, undaunted.
“That’s me, I just can’t leave an evil agenda alone,” she cracked with a glare.
Adam lunged at her within a flash. Buffy pooled her strength and blocked Adam as he swung at her with his demon skewer arm. Buffy snatched the arm inches before it impaled her. She swiftly ripped the skewer off and threw him a cocky glare.
“Oops, lost your arm,” she said. “Guess you’ll lose your head next.”
Adam simply cocked his head.
“I have a spare.”
Buffy blinked as she watched Adam grow another arm made of machine gun and rocket launcher parts.
“I’ve done some upgrading.”
Buffy heard the click of the gun arm and bolted across the room just as he fired upon her. She lunged over a console and took cover as bullets flew over her head.
Back in the 314 room, Willow continued her plea as an orange light emanated from the gourd and furiously blanketed around her, Xander, Giles and Dean. All four were breathing raggedly, their eyes shut with concentration, their faces coated with perspiration.
“We implore access to the vessel! Deliver us now to the Hand! Deliver us NOW!”
Suddenly, all four snapped their heads upward, popping their eyes wide open as a white flash soared through each of them.
Buffy felt her mind growing dizzy with battle moves when she heard the click of Adam’s gun arm, followed by a whirring sound as a missile slammed into the console. Smoke and debris flew into the air. Adam squinted through the destruction, certain of victory until Buffy rose from the flames.
Adam assessed her as she moved out from the destruction, looking twenty feet tall with an eerie expression on her face. Her eyes glowed brightly with orange flames as she nearly floated toward Adam.
“You will not survive for too long,” Adam said flatly.
Buffy raised her head high.
“We will survive until the end,” she replied in a spooky tone.
Adam studied her curiously as she began to chant in a foreign language, softly then with more volume, displaying multiple harmonies in her voice.
“One heart, one spirit, one mind. We are one power, combining forces, bringing forth the Primeval One.”
“Curious,” Adam remarked flatly.
He followed with a burst of machine gun fire. Buffy stood directly in the line of fire with a fearless expression. As the bullets sailed within an inch of her body, she rattled off more Sumerian. The bullets suddenly fizzled into mist and dissipated into the air.
Adam cocked his head as he fired off another rocket launcher at Buffy. She remained in direct line of fire, her fearless glare deepening as the missile sailed toward her head. She chanted another Sumerian phrase and waved at the missile as it inched closer. The missile transformed into three single feathers that floated to the ground.
Adam leveled his gun arm as Buffy chanted in her multi-harmonic tone. His arm suddenly changed into a human hand. Adam flared with rage as he charged toward Buffy, swinging with both fists. Buffy effortlessly dodged his attack without so much of a blink. She swiftly counterattacked and sparred with quicker movements and more powerful strikes, beating Adam back until he struggled to keep his balance.
Buffy relentlessly attacked him with the combined powers fueling through her.
“We are one power,” she answered before delivering another powerful punch to the face.
Adam staggered back a few steps then quickly flared up with kamikaze rage. Just as he barreled into her, Buffy slammed her fist through his chest, stopping him in his tracks. He looked down at her hand in fascination. When he met her eyes, he saw the orange sparks flaring brilliantly. Buffy yanked her fist out.
“We are one power, taking yours,” she said.
Buffy opened her hand to show Adam the uranium core in a lead casing. Riley burst into the room just as Adam crumbled to the ground. Riley edged over to Buffy as the uranium core floated out of her hand and up to her eyeline. She muttered another Sumerian phrase as Riley watched the uranium core spin furiously until sparks of blue light burst into the air and vanished. Riley blinked in awe as Buffy heaved a deep gasp before she collapsed to the ground.
Back in the 314, a string of white light flashed out of Willow, Giles, Dean and Xander. All four sucked in a deep gasp for air as they fell abruptly back onto the floor, completely exhausted and dazed. As they folded themselves back into a sitting position, the exchanged looks of wonder. Dean clutched the back of his head.
“Woah...” he gasped. “What a.....trip.”
Suddenly the barricaded door crashed open and a demon lunged over the furniture. Disoriented and dizzy, the gang simply stared at the demon as it started to charge into the room. Spike burst in from behind and grabbed the demon, hurling it into a wall. He swiftly cracked the demon’s neck and kicked it aside.
Spike wiped his forehead and exaggerated his relief. “Well, that was a nasty beast that almost got itself a hearty meal. You blokes are quite fortunate I happened by.”
As the four finally drifted out of their dizziness and wonder, they settled frowns upon Spike.
“We’d be more fortunate if the demon made YOU his meal,” Dean grunted as he slowly rose to his feet. “He would have been so chalk full of bullshit and treachery he wouldn’t have needed to eat anymore.”
“Yes, let’s not forget the fact that despite your harrowing rescue, you eagerly helped Adam with his nefarious plan to kill everyone,” Giles admonished.
“You only saved us to try and keep US from staking it to you for everything you’ve done!” Xander barked.
“Uh......okay, you’ve got me. Have I succeeded?”
Willow, Giles and Xander exchanged looks before sighing. Dean fished out a stake as his mind still spun from his experience.
“Just fall on this already,” Dean said as he held a stake out. “And if you miss the first couple of times, that’s okay, the more pain the better.”
“Alrighty then, we’re all friends again,” Spike said dryly. “Yay for the good guys.”
All eyes turned to secret door as it heaved and cracked with incessant pounding. After a brief moment, the door slammed open and Buffy emerged with Riley behind her. The gang crowded around Buffy shining their immense relief. Dean heaved another sigh of relief when she didn’t have any major injuries.
“That was intense, wasn’t it?” Willow roared as she bounced in her stance.
“You were amazing!” Xander lauded.
“All of you were amazing, we were amazing,” Buffy clarified.
“A battle is still going on out there,” Riley noted.
“Let’s save the day then!” Spike hollered.
The gang ignored Spike as they headed for the doors and back into the chaos. Buffy led the group down a hall and tackled a demon as it charged through the doorway. She punched it with incredible power and knocked it out. Xander, Willow and Giles split off toward the exits and began ushering people out. Dean fired off two taser blasters strapped across his shoulders as demons charged toward him. Buffy was directly behind him sparring with some vampires. She dusted the vampires quickly and lunged into a herd of demons attacking some commandos. Dean roared with victorious glee as he blasted several demons at once.
Sometime later, Xander, Willow and Giles waited anxiously outside the entrance to Lowell House as hoards of civilians and military personnel rushed out. They heaved another collective sigh of relief as Buffy emerged from the door and wandered over to them. They hugged her for a long minute before they broke away. Willow noticed a significant absence.
Buffy widened her eyes.
“He was right behind me.”
Buffy swung around just as Dean stumbled out of Lowell House and headed over to the gang. Buffy looked him over with a concerned expression.
“What happened to you?”
“I helped some people out, beat the crap out of some weird spider thing that jumped on my face, shot the shit of a mutant bunny....you know, just a regular night around here.”
The gang eyed him before they all burst into laughter. After settling down, Buffy exchanged hugs with Willow, Xander and Giles for several minutes.
“We really need to hang out!” she roared. “Like in the old days, we should watch movies and pig out of sugary treats.”
“Count me in,” Xander said.
Willow nodded. “Me too!”
“Giles, you have to come over too!” Buffy roared again.
Willow and Xander exaggerated moping expression.
“Yeah Giles, it won’t be as fun without you!” Xander cracked.
Giles drew an appreciative smile. “Yes, I believe a night of mindless entertainment and an assortment of artery clogging foods is just what we all need.”
“’Kay regroup at my mom’s house in like an hour?”
The gang nodded as they shared more hugs before departing. Buffy turned her eyes to Dean as he watched the military personnel taping off Lowell House. When he met her eyes, they simply absorbed each other for a minute before clutching each other in a tight embrace, following with a passionate kiss. After he inched away, he tugged Buffy back into his arms, stroking her locks with his hand. Buffy snuggled deep against his body, burrowing her chin on his shoulder, soaking in her gratitude of having him in her life.
“Thank god this is all over now,” Dean sighed. “I get your body all to myself again.”
Buffy opened her eyes and snickered softly in his ear.
“Leave it to you to tint such a nice moment,” she said.
Dean took her hand and steered her away from Lowell House.
“Come on, let’s go have a celebratory party for TWO,” he said with a mischievous smile.
“But, the gang is going to be at my mom’s house in like an hour.”
“Well time’s a wasting.”
Buffy sucked in a breath at the bright spark in his eyes as he quickly ushered her across the quad.
Up next the strange dreams in a “Restless” rework.